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Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 5

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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?”

 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.

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“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.”

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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.

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“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 a 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!”

Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 3


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Isabel awoke the following morning to the sound of clinking in the kitchen. She sat up, rubbed her eyes and looked around the room. Frosted window panes pelted with sleet diminished the sleep in her eyes. Isabel jumped on her bed, singing. “It’s Christmas Eve and it’s snowing. Get up Maggie, get up and see!”
Maggie jumped out of bed and ran to the window just as Mama opened their bedroom door.
“Well, it looks like our little ladies are already awake,” Mama said with a smile. “Get dressed quickly girls, breakfast is almost ready.”
“Snow, Mama, snow!” Maggie exclaimed.
“Yes, it is really snowing and sleeting too. That means it is very cold and slippery outside. We need to hurry before Papa and the boys come in from doing chores. They must be chilled to the bone!”
Mama had both girls dressed and beds made in record time. Isabel and Maggie hopped down the steps and skipped toward the kitchen. As they passed the parlor, Isabel stopped. “Look!” She shouted and pointed to the tree before running into the room to investigate. The stable had been placed on a table in front of the tree and one lonely wooden lamb stood in front of it. “Where did that come from?”
“Oh, a lamb!” Maggie said as she gently stroked the small white figure.
“It must have walked here from Bethlehem,” Mama said with a smile. “It wasn’t here last night!”
They entered the kitchen just as Papa, Eugene and Curtis entered the back door – stomping snow off their boots.
“Papa, Papa!” the girls cried in unison. “Come and see what Jesus sent us!”
“Hold on there, gals and let me get out of these boots and wet coat and then you can tell me all about it.”
Isabel and Maggie waited patiently until Papa put on his slippers and hung up his coat before dragging him into the parlor.
“Well, I’ll be! How did that get in here?” Papa said with a grin. “Guess it came early to see the Baby Jesus! Let’s go back into the warm kitchen before our breakfast gets cold.”
Papa walked with the girls into the kitchen, over to the stove to warm his hands before helping Mama carry dishes of eggs, pancakes, bacon and a large dish of grits to the table.
“If the weather gets any worse I’m afraid we won’t be able to go Christmas caroling tonight after all,” Papa said as helped Mama clear the table after breakfast.
“Oh dear,” Mama exclaimed as she pointed to the stack of packages and baskets on the work table. “We have all of these cookies, cakes and bread to deliver tonight. If we wait until tomorrow, I’m afraid it will be too stale.”
“We’ll see,” Papa said as he closely looked at the packages and picked up a basket. “Who’s this one for?”
“That one is for the Widow Barker. I heard she has been sick so I wanted to make sure she has plenty to eat.”
“Don’t know why you want to give her anything but a good tongue lashing – the way she does to every boy in the county,” Papa said as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“That’s why we need to remember her, Papa.” Mama placed a jar of chicken soup into the basket along with a loaf of bread, jam and a bundle of cookies. “Jesus said to do good to people who are unkind to us. Perhaps she will realize that Jesus loves her too and will have joy in her heart.”
“We’ll see,” Papa said.
By lunchtime, sleet had turned to light, fluffy snow. “Looks like it will be a good night for a ride in the sleigh to deliver gifts and to go caroling after all,” Papa said with a smile. “The boys and I will get the old cutter ready.”
“Girls, I want you both to take a nap today since we are going caroling tonight,” Mama said as she sat down in the rocker by the stove with baby Sylvia in her arms. Isabel wanted to protest but the look in Mama’s eyes stopped her. “Yes ma’am,” she said quietly.
At that very moment, Maggie squealed. “Look! Look at the stable!”
Isabel ran into the parlor and stopped in amazement. There were two more sheep and a cow in the stable. “It’s a miracle!”

 

 

Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy – Part 2

 

The squeak of the back porch door and the sound of Papa and her two older brothers prompted Isabel to investigate.
“Isabel,” Mama scolded, “one of these days you are going to hurt yourself; jumping off the stool that way!”
“Yes, Mama.” Isabel smiled and slowly backed to the door and then ran the length of the back porch to hold the screen door.
Papa entered the back porch, stomped snow off his boots, and then made a show of wiping his feet on the braided rug before entering the kitchen door. “Temperature’s dropping awfully fast,” Papa said as he sauntered to the stove to warm his hands while Mama poured a cup of steaming coffee into a heavy mug and offered him a gingerbread cookie.
“Here’s your tree, little princess,” Papa teased as he pointed to a tiny tree before stepping aside to reveal a large pine.
“Oh, Papa it’s beautiful!” Isabel jumped and clapped her hands simultaneously.
“That is a lovely tree!” Mama reached over Isabel to open the door wider. “Let’s move out of the way, dear so that Papa and the boys can bring that lovely tree inside.”
Isabel skipped into the kitchen and moved her stool out of the way before running to Maggie.
“It’s here, it’s here Maggie. Wake up!”
Maggie sat up and rubbed her eyes. “The Christmas tree?”
“Yes!” Isabel sang, “The Christmas tree and we get to help decorate it!”
Both girls danced around the kitchen as Papa carefully carried the tree into the front parlor and placed it gently into the corner where it could be seen from the kitchen and through the windows.
“Now girls, don’t get too excited. We need to prepare supper and clean up the kitchen first. Besides, we haven’t finished stringing popcorn. We will work on that tonight and add a few of the decorations. Tomorrow we will wrap up cookies to give to our neighbors when we go Christmas caroling. How does that sound?”
“Fun!” Isabel and Maggie sang in unison.

After the dishes were done, the popcorn strung and handmade ornaments hung on the tree, Mama picked up the family Bible and the children gathered around her.

“Did you know that the people of Israel waited for the birth of Jesus – the “Messiah” for a very long time?”
“As long as we waited for baby Sylvie to come?” Maggie asked softly.
“Yes,” Mama said as she reached down and touched the child’s cheek. “They waited many years.
“That’s a long time!” Isabel exclaimed, walked closer to Mama and sat cross-legged on the floor.
“Almost since the beginning of time – since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.”
“Did Abraham wait for Jesus to come?” Eugene asked as he folded a piece of paper to cut into the shape of a snowflake.”
“Yes, Abraham believed! God even showed Abraham that He what salvation is all about; He showed us what salvation is by promising Abraham a son and then as precious Isaac began to grow and learn how to be a man for God, he was used as an example of sacrifice.”
“God asked Abraham to take Isaac to the mountain, didn’t he Mama? Eugene said as he laid his craft aside and leaned on his elbows as Mama flipped the pages of the Bible to Genesis.
Papa turned from adding water to the bucket holding the tree, rubbed his chin and joined the conversation. “Abraham was a very old man when little Isaac was born, you know.”
“Older than you, Papa?” Curtis asked innocently.
“Oh, I guess Abraham was about fifty or sixty years older than me.”
“He was old!”
“Yep, he and Sarah both were much too old to have a child. That is part of the miracle – right Mama?” Papa tossed the question back at Mama who had found her place in Scripture.
“That’s right,” Mama smiled at Papa and then looked at the children. “Sarah was much older than me so don’t need to ask. She was even older than Gammy Isabella and Grandma Sarah Elizabeth too. Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born and Sarah wasn’t much younger.”
The children quieted as Mama pulled the lamp closer to her chair and lifted the Bible.
“Genesis chapter 21 tells us about the birth of Isaac. It also tells about what happens when people try to take matters into their own hands to make things happen instead of waiting for God to answer but we will discuss that another time. Tonight, we are talking about the very long wait Abraham and Sarah had to wait for the son God had promised to them. Oh, they were so happy to hold that sweet baby in their arms! Every day he grew bigger and stronger making their parents proud to be chosen by God for such a blessing! They laughed as he smiled in his sleep, watched him try to fit his tiny fist in his mouth – just like you did when you were babies.

He became his Papa’s helper when he learned to walk and then run.”
“Did they have sheep to sheer?” Eugene asked excitedly.
“Oh, yes. Abraham had many fine animals and many workers helping him but I am sure he taught Isaac all about the animals.”
Mama smiled and continued with the story. “One day, God spoke to Abraham and asked him to do something very hard. Something Abraham could never imagine doing but he trusted God.
“What did he ask Abraham to do, Mama?”
Mama began to read. “God said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. So Abraham arose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you.’ So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took the fire in his hand and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look to the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.”
Mama hesitated and then looked at Papa and then at the children. “Abraham obeyed God and made the altar just as he was supposed to. He put the wood on the altar and then he lifted up his son, Isaac and laid him on the altar where he would normally put a perfect lamb.”
“But why, Mama?” Eugene stood and looked over her shoulder to see the Word of God.
“Because God asked him too,” Mama said softly. You see, before Jesus was born, a perfect lamb or a ram had to be sacrificed to cover their sin. It was an act of faith to show that they believed God would forgive them – to lay the blame for their sin – and remember anything that displeases God is sin – on the sacrificial lamb.”
“They kill the fluffy lamb like Papa has to shoot animals for food?” Isabel felt a tear run down her cheek as she remembered seeing Papa bringing home a deer and a turkey earlier in the week.
“Something like that dear,” Mama said softly, “however, this was an offering to God and not for dinner. The animal used for the sacrifice was very special.”
“So what happened to Isaac?” Curtis asked impatiently.
Mama scooted closer to the lamp and continued reading. “Lets see now, where did we leave off? Oh, verse ten.”
“And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of The LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, “Here I am.”
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
And Abraham called the name of the place The-LORD-Will-Provide.”
“Phew!” Eugene exclaimed, “I thought he was going to kill Isaac!”
Mama nodded in agreement and looked at Papa before continuing with tears in her eyes.
“The Angel of the LORD spoke to Abraham a second time and told him: ‘By Myself I have sworn, said the LORD because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son- blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed (children) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.”
“Abraham and his son, Isaac went home,” Mama said softly as she pulled out a hankie, blew her nose and placed the hankie in her apron pocket. “In the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, it said that because Abraham believed God, it was counted to him for righteousness. It also says that because Abraham obeyed God and offered up his only begotten son believing that God would raise him up from the dead. Boys, what was the Bible verse you learned in Sunday School class last week?”
Eugene and Curtis stood up and began to quote together:
“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.” John 3: 16
“Thank you, boys,” Mama said as she closed the Bible. You see, God gave us a picture of what He planned to do for you and for me. He planned to send His only begotten Son – Jesus to be our sacrifice so that by believing in Him, we will have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.
Abraham was just a man. Isaac was just a boy but Jesus is God’s perfect, sinless Son. He is God in the flesh. He is called Immanuel which means ‘God with us.’ We are human and sin. Some boys may have struggled to get away but Isaac trusted his father. Perhaps Isaac also trusted God to save him – and he did. He provided a ram. Jesus is our ‘ram’ isn’t He?”
“Let’s see now,” Papa said slowly. God promised a son – Isaac to Abraham and Sarah but they had to wait many years before Isaac was born. Abraham’s seed or descendants had to wait hundreds or even thousands of years for Jesus to be born – right Mama?”
“That’s right, Papa. The book of Matthew starts out with the people who were born and died before Jesus was born and it is a very long list! King David is on that list too, Mama said. The Bible is filled with mention of Jesus or the Messiah all through the Bible – from beginning to the end. Last week, the preacher said that it is as if there is a red ribbon all the way through the Bible and that red ribbon is Jesus. Remember when God created everything and then he created man? He said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’ Jesus is God the Son. It is hard to understand but God The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are ‘three in one.’ We won’t truly understand it until we are in Heaven.”
“But it’s Christmas,” Curtis said, “why are we talking about Abraham and Isaac?”
“We wanted you, children, to understand how important Christmas is. It isn’t about the tree or the pretty decorations you made for it and it isn’t even about filled stockings.” Mama said as she leaned over and rocked baby Sylvia’s cradle. It is about the long-awaited, special, miraculous baby who was born in a stable like sheep to be the Savior of the world. Did you notice that God kept calling Isaac ‘your only son or your only begotten son?’ Jesus is God’s only begotten son.
Isaac’s birth was a miracle because Abraham and Sarah’s age. Jesus’ birth was a miracle because He did not have an earthly father. God is His father. Jesus was born of a young woman who was pure. A virgin – but we will talk about that when you are older.
Abraham and Isaac had to travel to the place that God would show them. Mary and Joseph, the man God chose for Mary to marry so that he would be a good fill-in father for Jesus, had to travel to Bethlehem. They later had to travel to Egypt because of the wicked King who wanted to harm Jesus. Jesus traveled in His ministry and then, he had to walk up the hill called Calvary to become the sacrifice for our sin. After He gave His life for us, His disciples, his family and followers waited three long days when Jesus arose from the dead!
So you see, waiting so long for Jesus to come is very much a part of the Christmas story. Sometimes, we forget that because we focus on gifts and trees.” Mama said with a smile and nodded to Papa who stood and left the room.
Papa returned to the room with a large bundle and walked slowly to the tree.
“What’s that?”
“Is it a gift?”
“Who’s it for?”
Everyone seemed to speak at once while watching Papa struggle with the bundle in his arms.
“Mama,” Papa said with a chuckle. “Guess you had better help me with this before I drop it!”
Mama rushed over and removed the gunny sack to reveal a wooden structure.

“Oh,” Isabel exclaimed, “is it a dollhouse?”
“Of course not, silly!” Eugene said with confidence. “It’s a stable!”
“That’s right, Eugene.” Mama smiled as she helped Papa lower the structure and placed it carefully under the tree. Next, he dug into the bag and pulled out some hay to lie on the floor of the stable. Next, he pulled out a box on legs and filled it with hay.
“What’s that?” Little Maggie asked and reached out to touch it gently.
“It’s a manger!” Curtis said. “You know – the bed for baby Jesus but it’s really a food box for the animals. Right, Papa?”
“That’s right, son,” Papa said as he stood and placed an arm around Mama. “Why don’t we sing just one Christmas carol before we turn in for the night? I’m afraid the chickens have beat us to bed tonight!
Mama picked up her squeeze box and played Joy to the World as the children and Papa sang along. Isabel looked once more at the stable with the empty manger.
“Papa, what about Baby Jesus? Doesn’t he sleep in the manger?”
“Well little Princess,” Papa said softly, “we have to wait.”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Dad, Mom, Melissa and Kathy 1966 (3) (2014_05_11 03_43_51 UTC)

Mom is 82 years old today. It is hard to imagine her at that age. She still sounds the same and if she still had her sight, I am sure she would be very active and making every occasion special. Sadly, I wasn’t able to go to Roanoke this weekend or today to see her. Her birthday visit will be a week late. This is her first birthday to celebrate without Dad. My sister who is taking care of her now is having a dinner for Mom. I’m sure the table will be filled with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I would love to be there to give her a big hug and sing through the hymnal with her on the porch swing. Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

She always made birthdays special for us. Even as adults, she would show up on our birthday with a cake and gifts or my favorite – gift baskets! Yet, she always downplayed her own special day; telling us, “I don’t need anything.”

~*~

Birthdays. Every family celebrates them differently.

In my family, birthdays were a big event. Extended family members came over for dinner and of course, a beautifully decorated homemade cake of the birthday child’s choosing.

Mine was always white cake, seven-minute frosting with coconut sprinkled on it like snow; graced with a candy “Happy Birthday” along with birthday candles. They were very popular when I was a child.

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Betty Crocker Vintage Birthday Cake Decorations found on Pinterest.

Of course, I always wanted the pink one with little flowers for the candles.

It is usually Mothers who make birthdays special. She bakes the cake, makes sure the freezer is stocked with ice cream, cooks the meal, buys and wraps the gift. My Mom loved making birthdays special. She was the best at wrapping gifts. They were always too pretty to unwrap!

It was Dad Hinchee who took snapshots and taped the special occasion with his Super-eight movie camera. I have a DVD with several years of birthdays and other special moments. unfortunately, he often panned the room too fast and some scenes are just a blur. My baby sister’s first birthday was great! Dinner in our backyard with family and after dinner, cake and gifts were opened, we all went to the Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, Va. I especially remember the gorgeous peacocks. Such a pretty blue! Needless to say, was a memorable event.

This is Mom.

 

 

I would love to give her a special birthday party. I have tried twice to at least take dinner and her gifts but she is hesitant to let anyone come over. She claims the house is dirty and she has nothing to wear. You see, she has always wanted everything to be “perfect.”

We gave her a party on her seventy-fifth birthday. Her sister and brother-in-law came from Richmond. Our Hinchee relatives came to make the day special too.

Mom's 75th Birthday

We had a beautiful cake made by Ashley Schnarr Easter, fresh fruit, finger sandwiches and I actually discovered blooms on the lilac tree! She received wonderful gifts and cards that played music!

 

She was amazed that everyone came and loved having my Aunt and Uncle spend the night with them. She let me know later that she doesn’t want to remember that she is “getting older.” We have gifts for her and I still hope we will be able to take dinner to Mom and Dad.

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There is one gift I can’t wait to give her. She can’t see it but that’s okay. I found on Etsy the fragrance she used to wear when I was a small child. Persian Wood isn’t available in perfume but I found the original Avon Persian Wood Perfumed Talc. I am sure it has lost its fragrance over time but hopefully, there is enough of the fragrance to bring back wonderful memories and just for a moment, she will feel “young” again.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps we will sit on the porch swing and sing Hymns of the Faith just as we used to.

Happy Birthday, Mom. We love you!

Sharing God’s Love

Mark 12-30 Rose by Mekel Rice

“We love Him, because He first loved us.” 

I John 4:19

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

I John 4:10-11

We often speak of love as if it is a fuzzy feeling akin to having beautiful butterflies in our tummies and warm, tender thoughts. There is a time when this is an indication that there is a possibility of caring which will lead to a relationship but this isn’t love. This is a transient feeling that can change with the emotions.

I was recently reminded of one of my wonderful college professor’s definition of Agape` love – otherwise known as “Godly love.” (There are three words for love in the Greek but Agape` love is what I want to address this valentines day.)

Dr. Robert Delnay’s definition was; “Love is to purpose the good of another without the expectation of benefit to oneself.” (I hope I remembered this correctly. He had us set this to memory several decades ago.) In other words, To do what’s best for someone else without expecting something in return.

After all, we have the greatest example of all in John 3:16-18.

“For God so loved the world, that He sent 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 that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

You see, He saw our need and made the greatest sacrifice to provide our need for a Savior. He filled that need by sending His only begotten to take our punishment (even though He was sinless) so that we will have everlasting life – with Him!

“Amazing love, how can it be? That Thou, my God shouldst die for me!”

~*~

Candy is sweet and flowers have beauty but the love of our Savior is indeed the greatest gift of all. Won’t you receive His gift of love to you today?

Happy Valentines, dear friends. May your joy be full as you celebrate Valentines Day in Him!

If you would like to know how to love one another, check out I Corinthians 13 and apply it to your life this week. I know I will.

Love in Him,

Kathy

 

Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy ~ part 1

It’s that time of year again for Christmas Stories. If you have youngsters who like to read or someone who likes nostalgia, I am reposting this series of Little Isabels Christmas Joy for you. Hope you enjoy! (There are 6 chapters so I will post two chapters per day.)

Merry Christmas!

Kathy

 

Katherine H. Purdy

Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy was posted in 2012 but I thought someone may enjoy reading the story again as we prepare for the most wonderful day of the year – Christmas!
Christmas Joy

Isabel’s Story
By Katherine Hinchee Purdy

Isabel’s long curls bounced as she jumped and clapped her hands. “Papa’s coming, Papa’s

coming,” she sang while skipping into the kitchen where Mama was taking out a tray of ginger

bread men from the oven.

“Isabel,” Mama softly chided the child, “you will be out of energy before we trim the tree if you

keep that up!  Besides, Papa and the boys have work to do before they bring the tree into the

house. Climb up on the stool and help me decorate some of the cooled cookies.”  Mama

walked around the kitchen work table, tied Isabel’s hair back with a ribbon, placed Isabel’s

Christmas apron over her head, and…

View original post 574 more words

An Exciting Evening in our Neighborhood!

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When all of the wrappers are empty

and all of the candy devoured,

The Word of God remains.

In this you can be secure.

“Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

It was so exciting in our neighborhood last night. We saw a beautiful Cinderella, a cute little lady bug, some pirates, two “Officers in Blue”, two Darth Vaders, Many Star War characters, pirates, (one beautiful girl pirate in a gorgeous costume!) Too many to count.

John was giving out treats to four young ladies (probably in 4th -6th grade) and one girl dressed in a pioneer dress and bonnet caught my attention. She reminded me of “Ma Ingalls” with pretty blonde hair. (Probably Laura or Mary Ingalls) For some reason, I had an overwhelming desire to give her a copy of The Vision of a Mother’s Heart. (My book). She reminded me of “Isabel!” I grabbed a book and ran after her.

The Vision of a Mother's Heart

Link: https://amzn.com/1515298477

She was so excited when I told her she could keep it. Her three friend’s faces lit up. “May we have one too?” “Of course!” So I gave out books and promised they could stop by and I would sigh it for them – if they like it.

A light went off for John. “How many Missy Cats books do you have?

A Christmas Story

Link: https://amzn.com/1481028626

 

We gave out quite a few to the little ones. Thank you, Lord for the opportunity to serve Him even on an occassion first designed in paganism. Between Gospel Tracts and my books,which include the Gospel,  Jesus was our focus tonight.

God’s Word never returns void. I am praying for each child and parent we met last night.

Did I mention we also got to meet many neighbors? It was a beautiful night and many of our neighbors sat on their porches to give out treats and we decided to sit outside as well. It was a wonderful evening.

Now, if only I had thought to take pictures! Speaking of pictures, I found these two gems among the Purdy Family Pictures. These two snapshots were taken in 1958. My husband is the cute little pirate.

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Things haven’t changed too much over the years. Have they?

Little Isabel and Rainy Days ~ Part 4 ~ Rain, Rain Go Away!

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Katherine H. Purdy

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“Let’s read about Noah from God’s Word, the Bible.” Mama reached for the Bible on the shelf as Papa slipped into the other rooms, cutting canvas and draping it over pieces of furniture before returning to the kitchen with two full buckets of water, dumped them into water barrels on the back porch and made another trip. By the time he had finished, Eugene, Curtis and Isabel were sitting patiently on the floor and baby Maggie slept soundly in her tented cradle.

Mama opened the Bible to Genesis and began to read.

At that very moment, lightning flashed across the sky and thunder shook the house; accompanied by heavy rain.

“Hurry children,” Mama said as she sat the Bible on a chair and slid it under the table, “ crawl under the table where you will be protected.” With tears in her eyes, Isabel crawled under the table tent and lifted the corner to see if Mama would follow.

“Mama, I’m scared!”

“Yes dear, I know.” Mama stooped and looked under the table. “Eugene, I want you to hold the baby while I help Papa. Just hold her close. Curtis, sit close to Isabel, please. You are her big brother and protector. Don’t worry, everything will be alright.”

 ~*~

“Yes, Mama,” Eugene said as he reached for Baby Maggie and then turned to Isabel.

“Ah, it’s alright Sis. God is in control.”

“That’s right, Sis. Remember Noah’s Ark?”

Isabel nodded and peeked under the canvas flap to watch the rain on the window panes. Trees bending in the wind and suddenly, rain drops turned to hail. “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. All of us want to go out and play!”

“Eugene, how long did God let it rain on Noah’s Ark?”

“Forty days,” he answered softly. “It won’t rain that long here.”

“Is that a long time?”

“Yeah, Sis it is. But that won’t happen here; right Curtis?”

Isabel turned to her other brother who nodded solemnly.

“How come?”

“Because God promised He would never destroy the world with rain again, He even put a rainbow in the sky to remind us He keeps His promise.”

Curtis squirmed, scratched his head and looked up at his older brother. “Did He promise not to flood houses?”

“Aw, it will be over soon and we will tell everybody at school we had a kitchen table tent!”

“Will it help if we pray like Mama and Papa?”

“Maybe.” Eugene scratched his head and then quickly replaced his hand on the baby. “Even if it doesn’t stop raining right now, Mama says that when we are afraid, He comforts us and provides a way to not be afraid anymore.”

“Okay,” Isabel said

Isabel rested her head on the edge of Maggie’s blanket and was almost asleep when she heard footsteps on the front porch and then a loud banging on the door.

“Jesus is coming to help us,” she mumbled as she drifted off to sleep.

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Egg Shampoo and Rainwater: Sample Chapter from The Vision of a Mother’s Heart (Katherine H. Purdy)

The weeks of rain showers reminde me of one of my favorite chapters in

The Vision of a Mother’s Heart!

 

 In 1924 some things were done differently. Isabel’s family had a pump in the kitchen but it only pumped cold water. Families who lived in the country only took a full bath once a week as well as washing their hair. In order to conserve water during a dry season, families kept a rain barrel under the gutter to catch rain water. If you were creative, you could turn a chore such as washing your hair into a play time. My grandmother talked about washing her hair in the rain and allowed her children to do the same. When I was a child, I wanted the same experience but was told there was too much pollution in the air.  So, lets enjoy Isabel and her two sisters experiencee from Chapter 22 of The Vision of a Mother’s Heart.

Egg Shampoo and Rainwater

“WELL,” MAMA said as she placed the last loaf of bread into the oven, “tomorrow is Sunday, so we need to wash your hair, girls.”

“May we wash our hair in the rain?” Isabel asked as she looked outside at the cool, steady rain from the kitchen window.

“You always say that rain water smells good and we won’t have to use up the well water for our hair.” Isabel smiled as she made the last comment, knowing Papa was worried that the well would go dry before the end of the summer.

“Well,” Mama said, “I suppose it would be alright as long as you agree to come back inside at the first sound of thunder.

Go upstairs, and put on your bathing clothes so you will not mess up your work clothes.”

“Yes, Mama,” Isabel said. She headed for the back steps to her room. Maggie and Sylvia followed and then passed her on the steps.

“Oh boy,” Sylvia raced to their room. “I love playing in the rain.”  ”Sylvia said as she quickly dressed.

“Well,” Isabel said, “we are not playing in the rain; we are washing our hair.”

Isabel said. She pulled out her bathing I wish Mama and Papa would allow us to wear the new style like everyone else.

These old things are heavier than our regular dresses. Besides, they look ugly, and they are no good for swimming.  The last time we went swimming, I nearly drowned because my clothes were full of water and dragging me under water.”

“I remember,” Maggie said. She giggled and watched Isabel make funny faces at the offending fabric.

“Ye gads,” Isabel said. She attempted to button the dress portion of her swimsuit.

“Isabel,” Maggie said, “you just used God’s name in vain.”

“No I didn’t. I just said the same thing everybody says.”

“Mama wouldn’t like it..”

“Oh, Maggie,” Isabel said to her sister, who was also struggling with her suit, “you are such a goody-goody sometimes.

Besides, I said g-a-ds and with a little g – like the Roman gods, you know.”

“That does not make it right, Isabel. It is still using God’s name in vain,” Maggie said.

 Isabel decided to drop the issue.

“I’m telling Mama you’re swearing,” Sylvia said as she headed for the bedroom door.

“Please don’t tell her.  It will only upset her, and I promise never to say that again.” Sylvia twisted the doorknob, and Isabel spoke up once more.

I will give you a nickel if you don’t tell.”

“Okay,” Sylvia said. She took the coin from Isabel and Now shut your eyes, and don’t peek!”

Even with her eyes closed, Isabel could hear Sylvia placing the coin under her mattress for safekeeping. Next, Isabel could hear a soft thud as Sylvia removed her hand from under the mattress and a trashing sound as her hands were smoothing out wrinkles from the covers.

As if we didn’t know where she keeps things she doesn’t want us to see,” Maggie said as Sylvia exited the room.

“What do you mean?” Isabel questioned with suspicion.

Sylvie always puts her money and other secret treasures under her mattress. Didn’t you know? ”

“No,” Isabel said.

Maggie said with a smile. “You keep your diary in that old hatbox in the far right corner of the closet,

and the key to unlock it is on a string hanging behind the picture on the wall.”

“Maggie Greene,” Isabel said, “you’ve been snooping.”

Maggie said sweetly as she walked to the window and pulled back the curtain, revealing the old climbing tree a few feet from the house.

“If you want to hide something in our room, you should close the curtain or make sure no one is sitting in the tree reading. ”

“Margaret Louise Greene,  it’s impolite to spy on people; you should have let me know ”

“I saw your diary and you wrote that you have a boyfriend.”

“I do not have a boyfriend!”

Isabel and Arnie sitting in a tree…” Maggie chanted as she took off down the steps with Isabel close behind.

“No running in the house, girls,” Mama said as they entered the kitchen. They slowed their pace to a quick walk as they stepped outside

into the pouring rain.

“Now girls,” Mama said as she stepped onto the back porch. “Lather your hair twice, and be sure to get the suds out.

I will mix up the rinse and be back in a few minutes.”

The three girls twirled around in the rain until their hair was completely wet and then stepped back onto the porch.

“Here,” Isabel said. She picked up the jar of shampoo. “I’ll pour some on your hair, and then you can pour some on mine.”

She poured the amber liquid onto Maggie’s head and massaged it into her sister’s hair. Next, Isabel turned and repeated the

 same for Sylvia. Then Maggie poured the slimy liquid onto Isabel’s head.

“Work up a good lather,” Isabel said as she worked the shampoo through her own long hair.

“Sylvie, it looks you’re wearing a crown on your head. Maggie, let’s see how high we can pile the suds on your head.”

The girls giggled as they made funny figurines on their heads.

“We should rinse it off or the suds will make our head itch.: Isabel quoted Mama, who warned them each time they washed their hair.

“We know that,” Maggie said and then raced off the porch to rinse the suds from her hair and was followed by her sisters.

 

The girls danced around in the rain again as they attempted to rinse out the offensive lather.

“Oh no,” Isabel said, “the rain is slacking off.”

“Let’s do the second lather before it stops altogether,” Maggie said.

 

They ran back to the porch and repeated the procedure. Just as they stepped off the porch, the sky seemed to open up

with the heaviest rain they had seen all year.

Sylvia said. She twirled around, allowing the rain to wash her face as well as whisk away the shampoo.

“My hair feels softer already and smells good too,” Isabel said.

 

Mama stepped onto the porch with a tray containing three jars. She handed Isabel the jar with an amber-colored liquid.

“Apple cider vinegar to rinse your pretty brown hair.”

Isabel wrinkled her nose as she drenched her hair with the pungent rinse. “It stinks,” she said.

“It will make your hair nice and shiny, and it will wash away the suds,” Mama said.

She handed the jar of lemon juice to Maggie and then poured the liquid from the remaining jar on Sylvia’s head and worked it through her hair.

“Why do we have to use lemon juice?” Sylvia asked.

“Because you have blonde hair; it will make it shine like the sun. Now, run back into the rain and rinse.”

The girls obeyed their mother and stepped back onto the porch to squeeze all of the water out of their hair.

Isabel ran her fingers through her hair as she pushed the water out and then squeezed.

“Do you hear that?” she said. “Squeaky clean.”

“Perfect!” Mama said and handed each daughter a dry towel. “Now squeeze the water out of your suits, and go inside.”

 

After changing from their wet clothes, Isabel and her sisters returned to the kitchen to sit by the stove to dry their hair as they

enjoyed freshly baked cookies and hot chocolate.

“I love washing my hair in the rain,” Isabel said.

“Me too,” the younger girls agreed.

“Yes,” Mama said, “I’m thankful for the rain which will help the crops grow and will help keep my family clean.”

 

The argument between Isabel and Maggie was lost in the suds and washed away with the raindrops.