ArticlesJanice Crow

Janice Crow- “Just Call Me Johnny Applestain”

Just Call Me Johnny Applestain

I am a shallow country girl.  Let’s get that right out in the open now.  It could well be said of me that where country life is concerned, unlike my mother, I am “all hat and no cattle”.  My sisters, on the other hand, apparently got the farm gene.  I admit that I’m content to watch them lead horses around, muck stalls,  dig potatoes, and weed gardens while I write descriptively about how the air smells in these bucolic settings and how those bright, beautiful rows of home-canned fruits and vegetables resemble art.  That country life, however,  is just not for me. 

These early fall days remind me of a time a few years ago when I headed an hour north to visit my oldest sister’s rural home where she was caring for my declining mother.  It was a beautiful, cool, breezy day as we sat on her front porch…mom in her wheelchair, dad, my sister and brother-in-law, and I, all seated in a row looking much like the Culhanes from the old Hee Haw Show.  It was apple season, and Darlene had a gang of them on her property.  I mean….a gang of them.

Now, I love the music, the decorating, the cuisine, the idea of country.  What I don’t like is the reality of country.  I don’t like sweat.  I don’t like critters and horseflies.  I don’t like being an hour from the nearest fountain soda.  But nonetheless, as I was in the country that day and not wanting to appear totally lame and useless, I volunteered my services for the day as an “apple peeler”.  There were countless five-gallon buckets of apples of all sizes and descriptions. Now,  I don’t know my Jonathan from my Granny Smith.  All I know is that most of them were some shade of red. 

So, we worked for hours.  We peeled.  We pared.  We talked.  We sang along to some old Gaither stuff on a tiny boom box.  We laughed.  We peeled some more….many more.  It was a real Kodak moment, if you know what I mean, and I preserved a part of it photographically so I’ll never forget that day.   

But family memories aside, I’ll have to admit that after four or five hours of peeling, my hands were beginning to cramp up.  My fingers were accustomed to typing hours on keyboards and playing the piano, but not eternal peeling and paring.  So at the end of the day when I kissed everyone goodbye and pointed that little Toyota back toward “civilization”, my knuckles were a bit swollen, but my hands…my hands were badly stained.  I had scrubbed them at my sister’s house with little success, but I didn’t really think much of it.  I figured it would all come off the next time I washed my hands.  Wrong! 

I scrubbed them all weekend, again and again before I went into the office on Monday.  I was embarrassed to hand the girl my money as I stopped for my early morning Pepsi at the Hit’N’Run.  I reluctantly reached out to accept the envelopes and packages from the college kid who picked up our mail every morning.  (Kids always think adults have leprosy anyway, so let’s add some major discoloration and watch them back away.)  By lunchtime, I was trying to think of creative ways to pay my lunch tab with a “look mom, no hands” technique, but I didn’t think anyone would accept a ten spot that had been clinched between my teeth.  All day long I washed my hands to no avail.  

That night at home, I continued to scrub.  No change.   At some point, my son Jim said, “Hey, while you’re in the fridge, can you hand me a slice of cheese?”  When I held out a slice of mozzarella for him, he said, “Uhhhhh, Mommmm….your hands!”  I tried to reassure him they were clean…really.  It was just a stain.

At that point, I was getting desperate.  I had an important meeting the next day.   I  had tried everything I could think of.  I thought, “What am I going to do?  I wonder if K.T. Oslin still has some gloves I can borrow.  Michael only had one, so that won’t help me.”  So I started searching the internet for stain removal, but only came up with laundry-related answers.  

I began asking questions of other people.  How do I get rid of this stuff on my hands?  Their solutions were all over the place.  Did you try dishwashing liquid?  Yep.  How about rubbing alcohol?  Un-huh.  Peroxide?  Did that.  Lemon juice?  Twice.  Hairspray?  Yeah.   Try some toothpaste…the kind with baking soda?  Their suggestions covered everything from sand to sandpaper, but no matter what I did,  the stain remained.  After a while, my hands were sore and raw from all the unsuccessful remedies I had tried.

Who would have dreamed that a few hours of experimenting and masquerading as something I’m not, a country girl,  would leave behind such a stubborn stain?

Isn’t that just like us?  What will it hurt if I dabble in this sin or play around in the world…just this once?  Just an experiment…surely one time won’t hurt anything, will it?  Anyway, who will know?  Believe me, sin has a way of staining us like nothing else can, and although you can try everything on your own to remove it, nothing will.  

The Lord says of sin’s stain in Jeremiah 2:22, (AMP)  “For though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before Me and you are soiled and dirty, says the Lord God.” That sounds like a hopeless situation, doesn’t it?  But then we read on in Isaiah 1:18, where the Lord pleads with us,  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”  He offers freedom at last from the awful stain!  Only the Lord can do this cleansing work, but we have to offer ourselves up to Him.

It’s funny that in all the lists of stain removal suggestions that people shared with me, not one of them suggested blood.  But that is God’s solution.  Got a stain left over from a sinful life?  Wash it in the blood of Jesus.  That’s an odd solution, isn’t it?  You know, anyone who’s ever tried to remove blood from a piece of clothing knows that once it’s set in, it won’t budge.  It wants to stay…just like Jesus’ blood wants to cover you from now on.

“What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus. O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know; nothing but the blood of Jesus.”   No song ever said it better.

You know, it took weeks and weeks for that apple stain to wear off my hands, and although what I did to obtain it wasn’t a sin, it was a lasting reminder to me that a stain is “evidence” and that as a believer I need to be very, very careful what I put my hand to.  And so, my friend,  should you.

Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Janice Crow

Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.
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