Meet Mrs. Mazie Lee

I was riding back to the house with my Dad after lunch today. I was full and more than a little sleepy and as a result, I was also more than a little quiet. I leaned back against the seat and watched all the little houses pass by. But it was while we were waiting at the stoplight at Mebane Street that I saw the little house that got my attention.

It was a white house with red shutters. I’ll bet that once upon a time, it was a cute little house. But now, there are a half dozen junked cars in the yard. A layer of green coats the white siding of the house. A few large limbs lie precariously on the roof. And one fallen red shutter leans lopsidedly against the side of the house. Though you can see that someone obviously lives in the house, it just seems to shout, “UNCARED FOR!”

I’ll admit that I looked at the house and immediately judged the people inside. Careless. Sloppy. Unkempt.

The light turned green and we left the house behind, but my thoughts traveled with me. I felt the conviction for my judgmentalness and then, my mind began to wander. What if that little white house was inhabited by a sickly, four-foot, ten-inch great-grandmother named Mazie Lee?

Years ago when Mazie Lee and her husband, Joe, bought the house, it was perfect for the newly retired couple. The crisp white siding and bold, happy, red shutters fit Mazie’s personality to a “T.” Mazie spent sunny days on her knees in the flower beds around the house, planting petunias and vinca in the spring and summer and mums in the fall and winter.

Joe never could sit still—even in retirement—and so the neighbors began to bring over their cars for him to tinker on. And tinker, he did. He would head out to the barn each morning with a cup of coffee and Mazie would have to practically drag him in at supper time.

Afternoons and weekends and holidays found the little house full of family. Joe and Mazie’s kids were just finishing up college and getting married. Their oldest boy and his mousy little wife had their first baby on the way. And most evenings, Mazie Lee would sit on one end of the couch, watching Wheel of Fortune and crocheting baby things for her first grandchild.

Now that some years have passed, industry in this area has moved west to Charlotte and east to Raleigh/Durham and the Research Triangle Park. When industry moved, so did the kids. These days, the kids and grandkids only seem to make it home for every-other holiday. And lately, the grandkids would rather spend their Christmases on the ski-slopes and their summers at the beach.

Three years ago in October, Mazie hollered out the back door to call Joe in for supper and he didn’t come. Frustrated at the old half-deaf coot, she went out there and found him on the ground where he had fallen. Heart attack, they said. She still misses him and keeps his picture by her chair where she can fuss at him during the loneliest parts of the evenings. She tells him that she can’t believe he left her and what is she supposed to do now?

The flower beds are full of weeds now. She’s had a knee replacement and a broken hip. She just can’t get down there like she used to. And that boy down the street that cuts her grass for an exorbitant amount of money every three weeks won’t weed or even pick up sticks and pine cones. The last time a storm came through, she could hear the limbs falling on the roof, but she isn’t sure who to call to get them down. She called the preacher, but his back is acting up and he says he can’t climb a ladder. She was hoping Joe Junior could come fix a few things for her, but now that his wife’s been laid off, he’s having to work extra hours to pay the bills. And Mazie surely can’t fault him for that…

Mrs. Mazie Lee is a figment of my imagination, but what about the people that really live in that white house with the red shutters? What about my neighbors? What about your neighbors?

Lord, let me not be so quick to judge, but open my eyes to see the needs of those around me. Help me not to judge, but to see people through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the rich young ruler that the greatest commandments were to love God and to love other people. Help me to know what that means and to walk that out every day of my life. Sometimes, it’s easy to love others. But other times, when I don’t understand or agree with someone else, my impulse may be to judge them and avoid them. I pray that you would expand my heart to love like Christ loves. And in that, I pray that you would open the hearts of others to receive Christ’s love through me.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Sarah, this is really good. I’m afraid that I’ve been quick to do this too often as well. I also hope no one does it to me because my front yard looks like a jungle. 🙂

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Michael, this is actually a tame example. What about when I judge PEOPLE by THEIR exterior? By their clothes or tattoos or who they’re holding hands with? And I’d like to say I don’t ever do that. But I do. That’s why every day, I’m praying more to see people through Jesus’ eyes.

  3. So true, Sarah. Well written…and point taken!!

  4. It is definitely hard not to judge sometimes. I think we’re trained in some ways to make these snap judgments as a way to ‘deal’ with all the demands on our time and resources, but we have to turn it all over to God and allow Him to judge, to go where the Spirit of God would lead us. Great post, Sarah!

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