The telephone rang at 7:00 a.m. and the staff hurried to Mamie Eisenhower’s bedroom. When they knocked and entered, they discovered big black spots all over the sheets, covers, pink dust-ruffle, headboard, everything. To be exact, they were “dabs and blotches and swipes of indigo.”

“What on earth can we do?” the First Lady cried.

They jerked the sheets off the bed, promising to take them to the laundry room to soak and to send a maid with some spot-remover for the rest.

Mrs. Eisenhower explained, “My nose was all stopped up and I had a jar of Vicks on my bedside table. So during the night when I woke up, I reached over to put some in my nostrils. Well, it seemed to just get drier, instead of moister, so I kept applying more and more. I didn’t want to wake up Ike, so I didn’t turn on the light. Then this morning, I discovered that I was using ink to cure my cold.”

Realizing the staff was going to make it all right, she began to smile.

“But you should have seen me. Black and blue all over – and the President too.”

“I don’t think anything is permanently damaged,” the chief usher, J. B. West, assured her. “I’m sure it will all come out in the wash.”

West told this story in his book, Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies, based on his life experience as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, in the White House.

The prophet Isaiah knew that sin leaves its peculiar stain, which is impossible for us to remove. Only God can expunge such deep blemishes. The prophet gave the good news: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 NIV).

The songwriter said, “Praise Him for the power that reaches deeper than the stain has gone.” Fortunately, his love and forgiveness go deeper than your sins and mine.