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.
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,
Someone recently asked me why we homeschool. This is what I told her.
I was trained as a teacher in college. I didn’t find a position right out of school, so I went to work in insurance. When my first son was born, after much prayer and many discussions with my husband, we decided that I’d be a stay-at-home mom until he started school.
As school age approached, I became aware of homeschooling through Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program and through some books that crossed my path. After research and prayer, my husband and I became convicted that it was God’s will for our family to homeschool. My son also had some special needs that we felt could be handled best in a home environment. We’ve been homeschooling since 1995.
So, here are some of our reasons:
1. We believe that God gave us, as parents, the responsibility to teach and train our children.
2. We believe that we are to protect the innocence of our children as well as physically protect our children.
3. We believe our family is closer because we live life together on a daily basis.
When our family grew, our little school did as well. I’ve found that there are some advantages:
1. Learning takes place at each child’s pace rather than trying to keep up with a class or wait for a class.
2. Children thrive with individual attention.
3. Negative influences from peers are limited.
4. I can teach them truth from God’s Word as absolute truth. All other subjects, especially science, are viewed from that biblical perspective.
5. My children are better socialized than school children. They know how to interact with adults and children well. Homeschool groups and church provide playmates.
6. They have more time for following individual interests. One of my daughters writes worship songs and participates on our worship and dance teams at church. One of my sons is teaching himself to make knives and raises animals. My youngest enjoys sewing and crafts.
7. They’re not afraid of speaking in front of people.
This is reprinted from my other blog, Harvest Lane Cottage.
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.
The Seeds We Scatter
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written on this blog. I’ve been posting regularly over at Harvest Lane Cottage. I posted last here about giving love lavishly. Much has happened since then. My husband took a position in another city and comes home only on weekends. It seems harder than ever now that we are so far apart. Nevertheless, we are persevering and looking forward to the time when our family can be reunited again.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been apart. In fact, being apart began while we were in our dating days. We grew up in Topeka, Kansas. I met Lowell my last year of high school. After I graduated, I went to school in Oklahoma. Lowell was still in Topeka. Our love grew through letters, occasional trips home, and lots of late night phone calls. That was back when it was cheaper to call after 11:00 p.m. I know…ancient history! I ended up returning to Topeka after one semester because I was too love sick to concentrate on my studies!
Later, after we were married, Lowell had to work out of town for sales jobs. We both hated it; but, it couldn’t be helped. He missed much of our first two children’s babyhoods. When he found I was expecting the third baby, he decided that he would change positions. It was great to have him home when we had the last two babies.
Now, he’s on the road again. We have been separated for three months now. We had hoped to be able to move by now; but, there’s no date in sight. Right now there are some obstacles that we don’t know how to overcome. If you are reading this, and you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, I ask that you pray for us. We want God’s will. We are just weary in waiting for clear directions from Him.
I thank God that I know that I can trust my husband. I know he will be faithful to me, to our vows and to our children. He knows the same about me. That is very comforting. He’s a good Godly man. I thank God for him.
Have a wonderful week and hug your husband!
Happy at Home
You know, sometimes we just don’t feel like praising God. The drain’s clogged, your kid has poison ivy, a black snake is eating your chickens’ eggs, what you plant doesn’t grow, the kids track dirt or whatever in, the car won’t start, the air conditioner is broken, it can be any number of things. There’s always going to be something, isn’t there? It’s just one thing after another. Ever wonder why?
We truly have had a rough time for the last few years. BUT GOD has brought us through every single trial. In fact, He has shown himself so faithful, I just don’t get as upset or angry or worried as I used to. I know that most of the things I worry about are out of my control. They are totally in God’s control. He WILL take care of the problems one way or another. My job is to pray and let Him be in control.
So we pray, we give it all back to him to carry, and we praise the Lord even when we don’t feel like it through Jesus!