A Thrilling Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

cabinsnowmtnSource

“A Thrilling Christmas Miracle on the Frontier”
by ‘A Pastor’s Wife’

I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold; our salary had not been regularly paid and it did not meet our needs when it was.
My husband was away much of the time, traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re -patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

The people in the parish were kind, and generous too, but the settlement was new and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver.
Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times until I knew, as David did, who was my Fortress and my Deliverer. Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer.

My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral.  Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it.

I knew it was impossible, but, oh! how I wanted to give each child his present. It seemed as if God had deserted us. But I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire, and I tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.

That morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch–it was the best I could do–wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.  That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened for her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered to me, “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, Mama” that I thought I could move Heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone and gave way to the most bitter tears.

Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots. The thin stockings clipped off with them and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me that James had let go too.

I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God and tell Him His promise wasn’t true–my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

There came a sound of bells, a quick step and a loud knock at the door. James sprang to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas. ‘At any rate’ I said, ‘they shall have it tonight.’ Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along and these other things I believe belong to you.”
There were a basket of potatoes, and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box and then with a hearty good night, he rode away.

Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket and we saw that beneath it, the box was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he explained. “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.”

“James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this. I am to blame. I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.”  We poured out words of praise–Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.  It was eleven o’ clock; the fire was low and there was the great box with nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles and began to examine our treasures.

We drew out an overcoat. I made James try it on–just the right size–and I danced around him, for all my lightheartedness had returned. There was a cloak and he insisted on seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him and we both laughed like foolish children.

There was a warm suit of clothes also and three pairs of woolen hose. There were a dress for me and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us and in mine a slip of paper. I have it now and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be.”

In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  It was a wonderful box and packed with thoughtful care. There were a suit of clothes for each of the boys and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarf, and hood, and down in the center–a box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll!! I burst into tears again and James wept with me for joy. It was too much! And then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pairs of skates. There were books for us to read–some of them I had wished to see–stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy, a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread, a muff, and an envelope containing a ten dollar gold piece.

At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire. How we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved.

You should have seen the children the next morning! The boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates–Ruth caught up her doll and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed.  When she came back she whispered to me, “I knew it would be here Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.”

“Look here, Wife, see the difference!” We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already and skating on the crust with all their might.  My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box–and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since.

Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him–dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”

Reprinted by permission from Lizzie at A Dusty Frame.   She typed it up from a very old book, The Sword Book of Treasures by Dr. John R. Rice, published in 1946 gem.

Do You Celebrate Advent?

 

Christmas Tree 2013Do you celebrate Advent?

Advent is a personal thing.

Perhaps you attend a denomination that celebrates with certain liturgical rituals.  That’s great.  Rituals bring meaning and reverence to our worship.  Perhaps your church doesn’t celebrate Advent.  Perhaps you’ve never even heard of Advent.

Advent is simply a way to focus our thoughts and our hearts on Jesus and the celebration of His birth, death, resurrection, and His offer of salvation to us.  It’s a time of reflection and heart searching.  It is a personal, holy thing.  What you do isn’t as important as what you do in your heart.

We light candles on an Advent wreath each night in December, read our Advent Book, pray, and on good nights, sing a carol.  Do we do it every night?  No.  We miss a few, but that’s okay.  We just pick up the next night and keep going.

I encourage you to focus on Jesus as the excitement of Christmas continues to mount.

Christmas Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,

Laura

Planting Seeds… J.R. Miller

 

All our thoughts, words, and acts are seeds. They have in them a quality which makes them grow where they fall, reproducing themselves. This is true of the good we do. The mother’s teachings enter the mind and heart of her child as mere germs; but they reappear in the life of the son or daughter, in later years, in strength and beauty, in nobleness of character, and in usefulness of life. Not only is this strange power in the mother’s words; her acts, her habits, her tones of voice, the influences that go forth from her life, are also seeds, having in them a vital principle. Where they lodge, they grow.

You never can lose your mother. She may die, and her body may be borne out of your sight, and laid away in God’s acre. You will see her face and hear her voice no more; no more will her hand scatter the good seeds of truth and love upon your life’s garden. But you have not lost her. Your mind and heart are full of the seeds which fell from her hand along the years. These you never can lose. No hand of death can root them out of your life. They have grown into the very tissues of your character. They reappear in your habits, your dispositions, your feelings and opinions, your modes of thought, your very phrases and forms of speech. You never can lose your mother; the threads of her life are woven inextricably into your life.

~J.R. Miller

The Seeds We Scatter

Every True Wife

“Every true wife makes her husband’s interests her own. While he lives for her, carrying her image in his heart and toiling for her all the days, she thinks only of what will do him good. When burdens press upon him she tries to lighten them by sympathy, by cheer, by the inspiration of love. She enters with zest and enthusiasm into all his plans. She is never a weight to drag him down, she is his strength in his heart to help him ever to do nobler and better things.”

 ~ Homemaking ~

J.R. Miller

 

“She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31

“Do You Know What This Is About?”

 
 
I was a barren woman.  I know the pain and anguish of longing for a baby that I could not have.  It took about 2 1/2 years and fertility medicines to conceive.  The result was my son, Matthew.  I absolutely adored him.  I quit my job to become a full-time mommy.  Matthew was the kind of baby that really required full-time.  I felt like I was always nursing, changing, singing, and rocking.  He was a fussy baby and did everything early, very early.  He rolled over for the first time at two weeks old!  We had to take him out of his bassinet shortly after that because he would work himself from one end to the other in the night and end up with his head pressed against the end of the bassinet.  He required a lot of energy night and day.  We also went through some pretty significant financial troubles.  My husband and I were pretty stressed most of the time.  These things and a few others led to our final decision.  We were confirmed one child parents.  No cute little baby could sway our decision.  It was absolutely final.  But God.
 
The year I turned 30, I went to a regular monthly women’s meeting at our church called Women of the Word.  At the end of the evening, I went down to the altar to pray about some long forgotten problem.  What I do remember is the way God took the whole encounter in a completely unexpected direction. 
 
Me…praying along about whatever was on my heart and mind at the time…minding my own business
 
God…”You’re going to have another baby.” 
 
Me…”What?” (Surely I didn’t hear that right.)
 
God… “You’re going to have a baby.”
 
Me…”We’re confirmed one child parents!”
 
God… “You’re going to have another baby.”
 
Me…(A little slow in getting it, but understanding that God was messing with me.)
But….followed by every excuse and every reason why it absolutely wouldn’t work to     have another baby.  Every time I said anything, HE said, “I’ll take care of it.”
 
Finally, I gave Him the big one, “Lowell is NEVER gonna go for this.”
He just said, “I’ll take care of it.”
 
By this time I’m on the floor.  I tell him, “You’d better give me confirmation on this.”  The lady on the floor next to me rolled over and said, “God says you’ve got confirmation.” 
 
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS ABOUT?”
“No, but God says you’ve got confirmation.
 
Oh boy.  I went home afraid to tell Lowell what had happened.  The next morning, I woke up; and, it was just as settled in my spirit as if I’d taken a pregnancy test.  I didn’t like it; but, I knew it was going to happen.  BUT, I would NOT take any medications to help it along.  That afternoon, I decided I had to tell Lowell.  His response was “He didn’t say anything to me about it!”
 
Months passed.  Lowell agreed to go to the dr with me to find out what we’d have to do if we wanted to conceive.  More months passed.  Finally, the issue was settled…at a garage sale on top of a mountain!  Lowell was working in Branson.  I was there for the weekend and we stopped at a garage sale.  Lowell waited in the car with Matthew, then 5.  I saw a wind-up baby swing and remembered how sometimes that was the only way to get Matthew to sleep.  One night I slept on the couch and kept winding the swing every time it stopped.  Well, I went out and told him about it.  Lowell said he’d buy it if they’d sell it for $15.  He came back with it.  I knew then that pregnant or not, we were expecting.
 
I tracked temperatures and other important things.  It took two weeks!  God is certainly able to perform His plans in our lives in His timing.  Little Emily took her time getting to us.  She was two weeks overdue when I was induced.  She didn’t want to come out.  It was nice and cozy and warm.  So, after around 24 hours of labor, I had a c-section.  We were instantly in love.
 
A few weeks later, the doctor wanted to talk about birth control.  How could we say no to God after what we’d been through?  We decided let God decide about another child.  Big step very big step for us.  Over time, Michael and Amy joined our family.  They also have miracles surrounding their births.  Space won’t permit me to tell all.  Suffice it to say, that I look at our children in this way.
 
Matthew was the child we prayed for, our first-born.
Emily was the child of our obedience.  We obeyed God even though it wasn’t our will at the time.  God was so sweet though.  By the time I became pregnant, we wanted another baby so very much.
Michael was the child of our submission.  We decided to be submissive to God’s will regarding another child whatever the outcome.
Amy was our “exceedingly abudantly above all we could think or ask” child.  Mind you, when I was two or three weeks pregnant, I went to the doctor for my yearly exam.  Neither of us knew yet.  He asked if we wanted more children, I said we didn’t know.  We were praying.  After two babies born without the assistance of medicine  to get pregnant, he said I’d have to take something if we wanted another child!  A month later, I was in his office and we were laughing about it!
 
The biggest miracle was not the children being born.  The biggest miracle was the change that God wrought in our hearts.  We became much more open to His will for our lives, even if He didn’t fall in line with what we thought we wanted.  He conformed us and transformed us.  I am eternally grateful and blessed.
 
I know the anguish of barreness.  I also know the stubborness of heart when one doesn’t want children.  I also know the peace of surrendering to the Lord and His will for my family.  If you are barren, do not give up.  Continue to pray without ceasing while pursuing the care that your doctor prescribes.  Know that God loves you deeply.  He knows every tear you cry.  Trust in Him and His perfect timing.