Empty Place at the Table

I was going through some old photos this week and I must admit this picture of Mom’s beautifully set table brought tears. As you see, one chair in missing.


That’s Dad’s place. He always sat at the head of the table. I can still see him now standing at the head of the table on Christmas day with Bible in hand, reading Luke 2 while we lined up around the room and listened to his voice as he read the Christmas story and then asked a blessing on our Christmas dinner.

This year, Jerry Hinchee will celebrate Christmas with the Savior. He will not be at his place at the family table this year but he will be rejoicing.  He went to be with the Lord the Monday before Thanksgiving. Quietly. Peacefully. He was at home with Mom when he closed his eyes and was in the presence of the Lord.


“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”

Psalms 116:15


Please pray for Mom as she continues on without her Sweetheart. Mom lost her sight almost ten years ago and Dad always took care of her. He wouldn’t let her do anything on her own. When Dad had a stroke a few months ago, we were ready to make the difficult decision to move them into assisted living but they had refused. He had said that he wanted to die at home. I am so thankful that my sister-in-law, Noelle was there and knew what to do. It had been my fear that something would happen and Mom would panic or that she wouldn’t know. Thank you, Noelle (in the background) for being there. And for my Aunt Sandra who talks to Mom any time, day or night on the phone and helps to keep her calm.


My sweet sister has stepped into the role of caretaker even though she has two daughters and has a job. We love you, Melissa!


We don’t know what the future holds but we know who holds the future and are trusting in Him.

So if you are having Christmas dinner this year with an empty place at the table, the Lord will be with you. He heals the brokenhearted and gives peace that passes our understanding.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Love always,


Forgiveness and Fellowship

Throw Back Thursday: I ran across this post from  December, 2011. I am happy to say that Ruby no longer chews on cords or anything she isn’t supposed to chew on. She dearly loves the treats “Daddy” gives her, Skippy and little Alice around 9pm each night.

Miss Ruby hiding under the table after chewing the tree light cord.

Poor Ruby. When she gets bored, she chews on things such as the Christmas tree cord which was thankfully, unplugged. She also loves the strings on window blinds. At our former home, our mini blinds had a plastic twist-to open or close- rod. She loved to bat it back and forth and then she discovered the threads holding the blinds together. What a temptation!

She is actually the sweetest kitty I know. She loves to give “kitty kisses” and wants to be near us. (Maine Coons are not as snugly as some of our other cats but that doesn’t mean they don’t show affection in their own way.) If you stop and think about it, we are very much like that with the Lord. We give into temptation and then when we realize our sin, we feel guilt and run from the Lord.

When Ruby realized she was being naughty, (our scream might have been a clue – we were afraid she would swallow the plastic as thankfully, the lights were not plugged in.) she ran and hid under the kitchen table and chairs.  (It didn’t help that “big brother, Skip” pounced on her!) She didn’t want to come out and play or sit on her cat tree. Even though after the initial scare, and we were sure she knew the tree lights were off limits, we spoke softly to her and told her it would be okay.

She watched as John had to snip away the tight plastic ties holding the pre-lit lights to the branches. Eventually, she got closer and closer as she watched him remove the evidence of her destruction but she didn’t come out from under the table until after we put the rest of the tree together and prepared to go to bed. She followed us from room to room until she was satisfied she was forgiven or her guilt was lost with time.

As you see, Ruby and Skippy had a wonderful Christmas!

Now she is content to sleep under the tree.


How many times have we sinned against the Lord and our guilt held us back from reading His Word, praying or from having fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ?  How can we forget that He has already forgiven us? That the penalty of our sin was paid on the Cross by our sinless Savior? Why does it take us so long to agree with God about our sin? Pride? Fear? The old sin nature?

I John 1:5-9

Verse 5) “This is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light,

and in Him is no darkness at all.

6) If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth;

7) But we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of

Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.

8)  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Did you catch that? He paid for our sin on the cross with his precious, sinless blood which cleanses us from all unrighteousness. If we have confessed to him that I am a sinner, He forgives us – for always. The Word says that Jesus died once for all! He loves us. He wants to fellowship with us! He wants us to walk in the light – just as He is THE LIGHT.  Verse nine is for believers. When we sin, we break fellowship with Him. Just as Ruby felt guilty and hid away from us because she knew that she had done something wrong.

He wants our fellowship! He wants us to walk in the light and share in the joy of His love. He leaves it up to us. To come to Him and confess our sin to Him – agree with God that what you did, thought, watched, listened to or harbored in your heart so that our sweet fellowship is restored and we want to come to Him. To fellowship with Him, to read His Word above all else and to pour out our heart to Him in prayer. He is our Heavenly Father and loves us.

At this time of the year when parents warn their children, “If you are naughty, Santa won’t bring you anything for Christmas!” (Or in days gone by, he may have left a chunk of coal in your stocking instead of goodies.) In a way, children are being taught a system of works. (Check out Ephesians 28-9)  Isn’t it wonderful to know that Jesus has already taken care of the “naughty” and wants us to come to Him?


This Christmas, let the children come to Jesus and adore Him together!


Have a blessed Christmas!


Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 6


“He’s here, He’s here. Everybody come and see” Isabel called from the foot of the stairs, “He’s finally here!”

“Who’s here?” Papa said as he rubbed his chin and smoothed his hair which was sticking out in every direction.

“You mean he was here, don’t ya’ Sis?” Eugene said as he slid down the banister and bumped into Mama who ran from the kitchen to see the commotion.

“No! He’s here in the parlor. He’s here – just as He said!”

“Isabel dear,” Mama said softly, what do you mean?”

Isabel took Mama’s hand and ran directly to the stable. She cried out in delight as she looked in to the eyes of the Baby Jesus lying in the manger. “All those years, we waited and waited and He Came!”

“Oh, Isabel dear, Jesus came almost 2000 years ago. We celebrate Christmas because He came. The carved baby in the manger is just a reminder that He came. You know that this is kind of a picture that represents Him.  Something we can hold onto as we read God’s Word but it’s just an object. We mustn’t make an idol. You know this doll isn’t Jesus.”

“Yes Mama, I know that. But He came, didn’t He?” Isabel said as her eyes filled with tears. He came because He loved us, right? That’s what Eugene and Curtis said from the Bible.”

“Yes child.” Mama said softly.

“Jesus loves me Mama and I love Jesus.”

Papa moved in closer, picked her up and held her tightly as she held Baby Jesus in her hand.

“You’re right, Isabel.” Papa said and wiped a tear from her cheek. “We love Him because He first loved us and you know what?”

Isabel shook her head from side to side.

“He’s coming again!”

“He is?” Isabel pushed back to see Papa and Mama’s faces. “Will he be in a stable?”

“No, but He will be riding on a white horse and will come as The King of King and Lord of Lords!”

“We will see Him?”

“Yes Isabel,” Mama said as she wiped the tears from Isabel’s eyes. “We talk to Him every time we pray and He speaks to us through His Word, The Bible! It is my prayer that someday you, your brothers and sisters will receive Christ as your Savior. We will live with Him forever.”

Isabel looked at the image in her hand, at her parents and to the image again. Finally closing her eyes and said, “Jesus I love you because You first loved me. Thank you for coming! Thank you for Christmas!

“Mama,” she whispered, before we look in our socks and open presents, may we sing?”

“That would be wonderful, Isabel. What shall we sing?”

“Joy to the world the Lord has come!”


What about you, friends? Is your focus on The Son of God, Jesus who gave His life for you or are you focusing on the external trappings that often draw our attention away from Him?

Christmas isn’t about the tree, the decorations, the  Carols, or even the gifts.

It is about God’s love for you.

We love Him because He first loved us.”

I John 4:19

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. 

He who believeth in Him is not condemned: but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 3:16-18

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

John 3:36

Why did God send His only begotten son – knowing that He would be the sacrifice for our sin? Because He loves us.

God is Holy and cannot look upon sin and yet He loved us – even though we are sinners – and longs for us to be redeemed from the penalty of sin. This is what Jesus did for you and for me. He took the penalty of sin in His own body on the cross. He gave His life so that you and I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

When I first heard the Gospel in 1968, I did not immediately receive Christ as my Savior. I was a quiet child and everyone told me that I was “good.” This is not true. I am a sinner. It took me a week to realize it.

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God:

Being justified (made upright and in right standing with God) freely by His grace (unmerited favor of God) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:23-24

One night, after a week of conviction that I am a sinner; I could practically see Jesus suffering, dying on the cross for my sin! In the wee hours of the morning, I got on my knees and confessed to Him that I am a sinner and asked Him to save me. Trusting completely in His redemption; He saved me. He Redeemed me. (Bought with a price – the precious shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.) Oh, what a gift He offered to me and to you!

“For the wages of sin is death; (separation from God) but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

So dear friends, this Christmas please look past the manger and see the Gift of God – to you! Receive it just as you would receive a gift from a loving father. It is a gift that you cannot lose and it cannot be taken away. It is yours forever! 

Have a blessed Christmas!


Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 5

Christmas Carolers eb8b4ae4dfd78e669e4a9289dfc3255e

Eugene sat in the front of the sleigh beside Mama to make room for Sally Anne.

“Is everyone nice and warm back there?” Mama turned and smiled as Isabel and Maggie held up their fur muffs, feeling the softness against their cheek. “Tuck in those blankets, Curtis. It’s beginning to snow again.”

It wasn’t long until the horses stopped in front of the first house. Everyone bounced out of the sleigh, singing Jingle Bells before reaching the house.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the Little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head…” Mama pushed Maggie forward as the neighbor opened the door. Soon the entire household stood on the porch, joining the serenade. Maggie timidly offered a package containing cookies and was rewarded with a hug from the lady of the house.

“Oh, that was wonderful!” the woman said and motioned to the door. “Won’t you all come in for some hot cider?”

“Thank you, no.” Mama said with a smile. “We have several more stops to make.”

“Merry Christmas!”

Each household was as friendly as the first. Isabel was beginning to get cold and buried her head in the soft furry muff to warm her frozen nose. Finally, there were only two packages in the sleigh. One contained a basket of food for an unfriendly neighbor who had been battling influenza.

“Now children, Mrs. Barker has been ill so I will take the basket to her door. She may not be up to our serenade tonight,” Mama said softly, “We will go back to Sally Anne’s home and pick up little Sylvia.”

“Papa, do we have to stop at widow Barker’s house?” Eugene asked as they turned and headed the back way to the Albright home, passing by a dark, unkempt small house.”

“Oh Eugene, I’m surprised at you!” Mama said softly. “Mrs. Barker has been ill. She needs this visit more than anyone – don’t you think?”

“But Mama, everybody knows she hates boys! She makes us walk on the other side of the street when she sees us going and coming home from school,” Eugene said.

“She’s not very nice!” Curtis agreed.

“It isn’t nice to speak unkindly of our neighbors, boys.” Papa said and coughed towards Mama.  “They’re right.”

Mama stepped out of the sleigh and reached for the basket on the floor. “I will be right back,” she said and walked gingerly over the icy sidewalk and up one step to the small porch. The door opened slightly and Mama passed the basket to her through the door. “Hope you have a Merry Christmas, Mrs. Barker and I’m praying you will feel better soon.”

“Thank you, Miz Greene, and the same to you.” Without acknowledging the family in the sleigh, she quickly closed the door, leaving Mama to find her way over the ice back to the sleigh.

Papa helped Mama back into the safety of the sleigh and covered her with a fur rug. “Good thing that was the last house,” Papa said, “Feels like that snow is turning to sleet. Getting colder by the minute.

  By the time they reached the Albright house, Isabel’s teeth were chattering. The three girls snuggled closer together under the thick blanket and started singing Away in the Manger.

“Look at that!” Sally Anne exclaimed as she pointed to the sky. “Do you think that’s the Bethlehem star?”

“Nah,” Eugene said with confidence. “That star is all the way in Bethlehem!”

Soon the laughing group pulled into the Albright drive. Mr. Albright met them with a bucket of oats for the horse.

Christmas Eve cf2537e9c354ec88990267cad0cae0c1

“Go on inside for hot cocoa and cookies,” he said as he lifted the girls one at a time from the red sleigh.

 Isabel picked up  Sally Anne’s gift and quietly handed it to her friend.

“It’s not as nice as the muff but I helped Mama make it.”  Sally Anne squealed as she tore away the brown paper to reveal a cloth doll with yarn hair. “Oh, I love her. Thank you, Isabel!”

By the time the children warmed by the kitchen stove with two cookies and a cup of hot chocolate, Isabel felt her eyes drooping. When she awakened, she was in her own yard and Papa was unhitching the horse.

“Alright children,” Mama said as she hung up coats on hooks in the screened- in- back porch. “you may place your gifts from your friends under the tree and then hurry up to bed.”

Excitement filled Isabel as she ran into the parlor, lit by the fire in the fireplace. There on the table holding the stable were three new carved items. A man, a woman and a donkey.

“Look!” Curtis said, “It’s Mary, Joseph and the donkey she rode on to Bethlehem!”

Isabel slowly walked to the stable and traced the figures with her fingers. “Where did they come from? How did they get here?”

“The donkey brought them, silly!” Eugene said with a smile before mussing her hair.

“It’s bedtime children,” Mama said, “hang your sock on the mantle and then go on to bed. Morning will be here before you know it.”

“But Mama,” Maggie said with a tear in her eyes. “Baby Jesus isn’t here. The manger is empty! Did Mary and Joseph forget the baby?”

“No, dear. They are still waiting for the baby to be born.”

O Holy Night e8206b3dd0aa2cbb281ee013b01a1fa6

Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 4

romance-trisha-winter-fantasy-canvas Every time Isabel entered the parlor, a new carved animal rested in or near the stable but she never saw Mama or Papa go into the parlor without the children.

“How did they get here?” Isabel asked Mama and Papa but their reply was the same.

“Must have come to see the Baby Jesus!”

After dinner dishes were washed and put away, each child donned their coats, hats, scarves, mittens and boots while Papa packed the sleigh.

“Did you remember to put on your woolens?”

“Yes, Mama but they’re so scratchy!” Isabel said as she scratched her arms and legs. When she struggled to scratch her back, Mama smiled. “Okay young lady, I’m convinced.”

“All aboard!” Papa said as he helped Mama into the front seat and handed her baby Sylvia. “Poor baby,” he said, “you have her so bundled, she can’t move a finger and probably can’t breathe with that piece of blanket flopped over her face!”

“She wouldn’t be able to breathe at all if I didn’t protect her face. That cold air will take her breath away – especially once we get started. It’s awfully breezy, you know. Besides, this is a very thin blanket with air holes since it is crochet.” Mama lifted the blanket long enough to place a kiss on the baby’s head, smiled at the child’s cooing.” Isabel followed Eugene into the second seat, followed by Maggie and then Curtis.

“Mama, make them scoot over so I will have room,” Curtis said as he gently pushed Maggie against Isabel who slid into Eugene who bumped his elbow against the sleigh. “Hey, watch what you’re doing!”

“I didn’t do it,” Isabel said as she looked past Maggie in Curtis’ direction. “He did it!” “That’s enough, children,” Mama said cheerfully. “Let’s see, what shall we sing on the way?”

“Why don’t we sing Jingle Bells?” Papa said as he handed Isabel a leather strap with jingle bells attached. “Try to keep time with the horses,” he said with a grin. “See? They’re wearing jingle bells!”

The entire family began to sing. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way; oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.” The children finished three songs before they reached the Albright home.


“Oh boy,” Isabel exclaimed. “May I see Sally Anne?”

“Yes, you may. I wanted it to be a surprise but your friend is going with us. Mrs. Albright and Cookie have volunteered to take care of baby Sylvia while we are caroling.”

“Oh Boy!” Isabel stood up in anticipation and fell into Eugene’s lap.

“Hey, sit down silly goose!” Isabel jumped out of the sleigh, hitting a piece of ice, sliding face down into six-year-old Curtis who landed with a thump on the ground.

“Hey,” he said sternly, “watch where you’re going!”

Isabel looked down at the torn stockings and already felt the sting of skinned knees.

“Oh dear,” Mama said, “you must be careful. It’s awfully slippery out here. Are you alright?”

“I’m okay,” Curtis replied as he pointed to Isabel. “Looks like the silly goose skinned her knee.”

“Son, don’t call your sister silly or a goose. Now wipe the snow from your clothes and carefully stand at the foot of the steps so that we may sing at least one Christmas Carol for the Albrights before we go inside.” Isabel brushed away tears from her cold face and tried to sing Joy To The World with the rest of her family but her knee stung as well as her pride. Sally Anne was standing at the door when Isabel fell and cried out to her friend.

Papa picked up Isabel in his arms and led the family into the welcoming light of the Albright home. “Come in, come in,” Mrs. Albright said as she reached for baby Sylvia. “Oh, what a sweetie. Cookie and I have been looking forward to this all day, haven’t we Cookie?”

“We surely have,” Cookie confirmed and reached for Isabel. “Why don’t you come with me, child? Cookie will get you all fixed up!”

“Yes,” Mrs. Albright said, “Sally Anne has a pair of woolen stockings Isabel may have. She can’t go out into the cold with the torn ones.” And so Isabel followed the Albright’s cheerful cook into the kitchen to sit by the warm stove. When it was time to go, Isabel had a bandaged knee, new woolen stockings and a peppermint stick for being brave.

Three-year-old Maggie stood quietly behind Mama looking around the room and timidly receiving a gingerbread boy from Mrs. Albright. Sally Anne, dressed in her warmest clothes, a hooded cape and fur muff, stood by Isabel until Papa declared it was time to go. She jumped up and down with excitement and then ran to the Christmas tree. “May I please give Isabel and Maggie their gifts now, Mother?” With a nod of the head from her mother, Sally Anne reached for two beautiful hat boxes.

“This one is for you, Isabel” she said as she handed her friend the largest package. “And this one is for you, Maggie,” she said with a smile. “You may open them when I say … Go!” Isabel looked at her little sister and they lifted the box tops together.

“It’s a muff! Just like Sally Anne’s! Look mama, look!”

“It’s soft, Mama!” Maggie said as she ran her fingers over the soft fur.

“Oh Lillian,” Mama said with a catch in her voice. “You shouldn’t have!”

“We wanted to,” Mrs. Albright replied with a smile as she adjusted the muff around Maggie’s neck and showed her how to slip her hands inside. Maggie’s eyes grew enormous as a shy smile spread over her face. Isabel had hers on in record time.

“What do you say girls?” Mama asked as she dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief.

“Thank you!” they said in unison.

“You’re quite welcome.”

“Mama,” Isabel pulled at her mother’s cape, “may I give Sally Anne her gift now?”

“Her gift is in the back of the sleigh so why don’t we wait until we come back to pick up baby Sylvia?”

“Yes ma’am.” It was then Isabel noticed her two brothers wearing leather gloves instead of their knitted mittens. They were also eating gingerbread men, jamming them in their mouth as they turned toward the door.

“This is going to be so much fun,” Sally Anne said as she linked arms with Isabel. “This is the best night – ever!”

Home for Christmas ~ Looking Back


I don’t know about you, but when I think of Christmas, my heart returns to my loved ones in my hometown, Roanoke, Virginia. Christmas Eve was so special because it was spent with family. This picture was taken at my grandparent’s home. Mom and I lived with them until I was seven so this was a very special Christmas. My Aunt Sandra tried to get me to dance to Christmas music on video. We were so silly! Later, we would go to the Hinchee house for dinner, to my new “Uncle J.H. and Barbara’s” house and opened gifts with their three daughters, to our house for snacks and gifts and then to “Great Aunt Louise (Hinchee)  and Uncle Carl Kelly’s house for more gifts and refreshments. Wow! That was a lot of memories in one short paragraph!

I know John has a lot of Christmas memories of Roanoke as well. I think Christmas Day was their day with family. They have some great pics of “Little Johnny” through the years.

John Purdy's Cowboy Shoot

After John and I were married we lived in Lynchburg We often had family come for dinner and to join us at the Candlelight Service at Church and we drove to Roanoke on Christmas Day to be with our parents and siblings.

Special memories!

Tommy Holcomb posted a song and picture of what Roanoke looked like in the good old days and has given me permission to share it with you! Step back in time. Enjoy Good ol’ Roanoke with us.

Looking Back by Tommy Holcomb

A song about growing up in Roanoke, VA.

There are a few things in the video I don’t remember and would have coke-cola in my glass but he mentions S&W Cafeteria where Mom worked as a line supervisor. Loved Lakeside Amusement Park and Lendys where we got to eat in the car!  My memories of the drive-in-movie was going in my pajamas and taking a blanket as I fell asleep in the back seat while Mom and Dad Hinchee watched the movie.

Thank you, Tommy for reminding us of “Home”!

There is a lot going on in Roanoke this Christmas. If you are looking for something interesting to do this year, check out the link below.

Dickens of a Christmas



What Manner of Man Is This?


For centuries prophets foretold the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We are entering the season when we focus on Him and marvel at the fulfillment of the prophecies and all that He is – especially that He came for you and me to bear the penalty of our sin. Just think, The God who created the world loves you! 

In my devotions I have been dwelling on who He is. Through December, I will be sharing His attributes and fulfillment of Scripture. Having said this. I am sharing this song on YouTube video today which marvels on all that He is. I hope it blesses you as it has blessed me. This is a Ben Everson song beautifully sung by Amber Foster.

He is Jesus, King of creation!
He is Jesus, Lord of all nations!
Bound up in humanness, needing food and sleep and rest.
Fully man, yet wholly God!
What manner of man is this?
What Manner of Man Is This?…

For the Foster family homepage, click here:


Thank you!

658eabf84bcda5d20eea47ffdfc01558Norman Rockwell Christmas mailman (2014_12_17 05_44_30 UTC)


I love this Norman Rockwell picture. Just the expressions on the children’s faces would make anyone smile!

For those unsung heros at Christmas time – the US Postal Service, UPS, Fed-Ex, box stores and all of the people who work for online shopping/shipping department who work tirelessly to get our packages out on time. I just wanted to thank you for your hard work. You are appreciated!

I must confess that our packages and cards are going out late this year, so I am asking your forgiveness in advance!

Wrapped gift

This reminds me of the most wonderful gift of all. Jesus won’t you receive His gift of salvation to you today?