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Story Time ~ Happy Birthday America!

Written by
Katherine Hinchee Purdy

It’s that time of year again! The time to look back, reflect and thank God for our wonderful country. Thankful for freedom! Happy Independence Day weekend!

Photo used with permission.
Photo used with permission.

“Isabel Greene, if you don’t stand still you will get stuck with a pin,” Mama said as she pinned the blue fabric with straight pins from her mouth.

“But I like to swish!”

“That’s fine,” Mama said as she removed another pin from her mouth and turned the child around to get to the back of the dress. “You may swish all you want – after I finish hemming your dress.”

“Yes Mama,” Isabel said quietly but swished her skirt as Mama bent over to retrieve the pins she had just dropped.

“Baby Maggie didn’t have to stand up to get her dress hemmed,” Isabel said as she looked at her little sister sitting in the high chair nibbling on a piece of crust.

“Baby Maggie doesn’t know how to stand yet. Now carefully step down from the stool and look at your dress in the mirror.”

“Oh Mama, it’s beautiful.” Isabel said as she swished from side to side. Ouch! It bit me!”

“That was just a pin dear. Now turn around slowly,” Mama said as she stood back to get a better view. “Isabel, you will look like a doll on the fourth of July! Just like a little sailor girl.”

Just then the screen door clapped loudly and Mama turned to see Isabel’s two older brothers racing to the ice box. “Just a glass of milk boys, lunch will be ready soon!”

“Mama,” Eugene said as he glanced at Isabel swishing in her new blue dress trimmed in red and white. “Do we hav’ta wear those silly costumes to the parade and picnic tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” five-year-old Curtis chimed in. “Those look too sissy!”

“No, they do not look sissy and yes, you must wear the sailor suits I made for you. It’s perfect for the occasion.”

“The other boys will laugh!” Eugene plopped into the kitchen chair and reached for the cookie jar.”

“If anyone laughs at a sailor suit, they should be ashamed of themselves.” Mama took the cookie jar and placed it into a cupboard. “Besides, your nephews will be wearing the same thing. After all, your half-brother Jim is in the army and Fred is in the navy. You are wearing the suits to honor them. They are fighting for freedom. Don’t ever forget that,” Mama said softly as she placed her sewing notions into her basket and put it away.  “Isabel,” Mama said as she reached for the child. Carefully take off that dress and put your play dress back on. Here, let me help you. We’ll get you changed in your room while the boys finish their milk.”

~*~

     The next morning, Isabel awoke to the sound of Papa whistling a new song they had heard on Grandpa’s radio. Over There by Mr. George M. Cohen. “Catchy tune, aint it?” Papa said as Isabel entered the room wearing her new dress. “Well, don’t you look pretty?”

“Thank you, Papa.”

“Oh dear,” Mama said. “It’s too soon to wear your new dress; it will get dirty. We’ll get you all prettied up when it’s almost time to go.”

“Yeah,” Eugene said, “Don’t want to spill milk on it” and stopped short; whispering in Curtis’ ear.”

“Boys,” Mama said sternly, “if you mess up your suits before we go, I will insist that you wear the sailor hat Jim sent you.”

Eugene and Curtis looked at each other and then quickly shoveled oatmeal with their heads bent over the bowl.

“Mama, we could make bows for their hair just like the ones you made for Maggie and me.” Isabel said with a twinkle in her eyes.

“No way!” Curtis shouted and looked at Papa for help.

“Better do as your Mama says boys, I wouldn’t want to see my boys running around with a girls bow in their hair!” Papa looked at Isabel and winked.

~*~

     “Are we there yet?” Isabel asked from the back of the buckboard.

“We’ll be there in three shakes of a lambs tail,” Papa said with an edge of impatience in his voice.

Isabel closed her eyes and imagined a fluffy white lamb shaking its little tail three times. “It shook three times. Are we there yet?”

Papa turned to Mama. “She can count?”

“She can count to ten!” Mama said proudly, “By next month, she may be able to…” Music, clapping, chatter and laughter filled the air with excitement.

“Papa, they’re playing the song you were whistling this morning,” Eugene said and began singing along with the music.

“And we’ll all be glad when it’s over-over there!”

“I hope we didn’t miss the parade,” Curtis said as he cast a sidelong look at Mama who, in his estimation, took too much time packing lunch and dressing the girls.

“Nope, the parade doesn’t start until two so that everyone will have time to eat lunch. I would like to catch some of the baseball game. How about I take the boys over to the stands? The game will begin after the band plays a couple of songs.”

“That’s fine,” Mama said, “but don’t buy any hotdogs or peanuts! We have better ways to spend our money.”

Papa made quick work unloading the buckboard and herded the boys towards the baseball stands.

~*~

     “Lizzie! Isabel! Over here!”

Mama placed baby Maggie into the pram and reached for Isabel’s hand as they followed Lindy’s voice.

“Hello little sister,” Lindy said as she picked up Maggie and spun her around. “Why, Isabel! You look like a china doll in that lovely sailor dress.”

“Oh look, little Maggie is wearing one too. Where did you buy them?”

Mama beamed at her two little girls and addressed her step-daughters and daughters-in-law. “I made them. The boys are wearing sailor suits too although it was like pulling teeth to get the boys to wear them!” Laughter filled the air as relatives welcomed them to the Fair Grounds.

“Don’t unpack your food yet,” Aunt Jenny said as she turned and reached for Baby Maggie. Cleo is checking with the vendors to see how much the hot dogs cost. They smell too good to pass up! Oh good. There she is now.”

“I can’t believe it!” Cleo said as she reached the group. “The prices are actually reasonable. You can buy two hotdogs for a nickel or a big hamburger for a nickel. Peanuts are only 2 cents per bag. What do you think? Shall we feed our gang with Fair grounds food?”

Isabel chimed in with the other children. “We want hotdogs, we want hotdogs! Pleassssssssssssssssseeeeee?”

Mama opened her coin purse and smiled. “I think we have enough – this time. What shall we do until lunch time?”

“The swings are free. Why don’t we take the children over there. They can play in the sandbox too.” Lena said as she picked up her baby Grace, soothed her and placed her back into the baby carriage. “We have so much to talk about. The game will be over before you know it!”

     Isabel ran to catch up with her nieces and younger nephews. “Isabel,” Mama’s voice rang loud and clear. “Don’t get your dress dirty!”

Just as Mama finished speaking, Isabel tripped on a tree root and skinned her knee. Tears filled her eyes as she looked down at dirt covering her new dress and a large red spot on her white, torn stockings. “I’m sorry Mama. I’m so sorry,” Isabel repeated as Mama stooped down to assess the damage.

“Oh, you’ve skinned your knee!” Mama reached into her pocket and pulled out a small container of water and her handkerchief. “It will be okay. It’s not a deep cut but it may be sore for a while.”

“But I got my dress dirty.” Isabel’s blue eyes filled with tears as she looked up at Mama’s compassionate face.

     “That’s alright dear. The dirt brushes away and we’ll just slip those stockings off and no one will know the difference. Besides, do you know why we are here today?”

“There’s a parade and a picnic and a-a-fire?”

“Fireworks. Beautiful but loud streams of light fill the sky in a beautiful show!” Mom said as she finished cleaning the scratch and blew a kiss over the spot to make it heal more quickly. “Tender loving care always helps,” Mama said with a smile. “Now about the special day. Did you know that a long time ago our land was owned by a king far, far away? The king had never been to America but he claimed it anyway by sending ships of soldiers to make sure we obeyed his rules and paid high taxes. We sent letters to the king. We sent men to the king to tell him he was being unfair; that we could work something out but the king was selfish. He wanted the land and people to do his will. Well, the reason people came here so long ago was to be free of the king and his unreasonable rules. Did you know that America was the only place people could go in order to worship God and The Lord Jesus Christ without people trying to stop them?”

Isabel shook her head and listen wide-eyed.  “Well,” Mama said as she reached for her grandchildren who gathered around, “people prayed for a solution. They prayed for the king to change his mind.”

“Did he?” a little boy spoke up. Isabel suddenly realized they were surrounded by children she had never seen before and the swings were empty.

“No, sad to say, he didn’t.” Mama said softly. “He made it harder for our people. They had to pay taxes on just about everything. Finally, some men in Boston – up north- had enough. They couldn’t take it anymore. Back then, Americans liked to drink English tea instead of coffee. Fabric from clothes were brought on English ships. Just about everything we needed came from there but we decided we would make our own fabric. We had sheep and goats to sheer and spin the fibers into wool for knitting and weaving. We called it homespun.”

“Homespun!” a little girl spoke up. “My grandma made that!”

Mama nodded with a smile and continued. “One night when the supply ship was in Boston harbor, some of the men dressed up like Indians and sneaked aboard the ship and threw all the barrels of tea into the water. To this day, we call it The Boston Tea Party.”

“Wow!” A little boy exclaimed and leaned in closer. “What happened next?”

An older boy stood up. “It started a war didn’t it?”

“Yes it did.” Mama said and took a deep breath. The king was so angry, he sent thousands of soldiers, wearing fancy red coats with lots of guns and swords. They thought our men were not very smart and wouldn’t know how to fight so they expected the war to end quickly. But they were wrong. Oh, we didn’t have fancy uniforms – except for the officers. George Washington led our men. We had “militia” which meant they were farmers, black smiths, wheelwright’s, merchants, regular men who volunteered to protect our land.

Our men fought to protect their wives, their children, their parents and their land. They fought in the fields. They fought behind trees and fought in ways the British soldiers were not used to. Very important, smart men; the Continental Congress worked together in secret so that the kings soldiers wouldn’t know what they were doing. John Adams persuaded a plantation owner  from Virginia named Thomas Jefferson to write a declaration of independence. In fact, that’s just what it is called. The Declaration of Independence. It declared we were free from British rule and were a country now with 13 separate states working together for our freedom.  The Declaration of Independence was signed by some very famous men including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock. Each man who signed represented their state. Isn’t that wonderful?

Isabel watched boys and girls nodding their heads and nodded with them. Another child stood and cleared his voice to get Mama’s attention. “Ma’am we won that war, didn’t we?”

Mama’s smile lit her face. Yes indeed we won that war and became a free nation under God. The Declaration of Independence was accepted by all of the men on July 4, 1776. Today is July 4, 1917. We are celebrating today because today is the birthday of our great nation – The United States of America!

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~*~

     Isabel watched in wonder as the band played songs that night and men in the same uniforms her older half-brothers wore marched to the bandstand. One man in each different uniform carried a flag and one held a large red, white and blue flag with white stars in the top corner. Everyone stood. Man raised their hand to their forehead in a salute, other men, women and children stood too. Mama showed Isabel how to place her hand on her heart and whispered in Isabel’s ear, “To honor men who fought for our freedom, to honor men like your brothers who are fighting today for freedom and to show that we love our wonderful country, the beautiful United States of America!”

Suddenly, there were loud blasts causing Isabel to jump and baby Maggie to cry. Papa picked up Isabel and put her on his shoulders. The sky was filled with beautiful colors and shapes. “Fireworks,” Papa said.

“Like birthday candles?”

Papa chuckled. “Well, it’s our country’s birthday so I guess so.”

Little Isabel thought about the story Mama had told her earlier; that men died so that we could live free. “Happy Birthday, America, Happy Birthday!” she shouted.  “Thank you God for giving us a free country – like Mama said!”

 

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!

Kathy

Little Isabel and Rainy Days ~ Conclusion

Photo used with permission.

Photo used with permission.

It seemed as if they had been in the cellar forever but if Isabel had been able to tell time, she would realize it had only been an hour. She sat on a wooden bench with her head in Mama’s lap and dozed as male voices droned on about the old days.

Suddenly, the sound of breaking glass and a loud thump made Mama jump; almost dumping Isabel on the dirt floor. “I’m sorry, Isabel,” Mama said with a soft, quivering voice. The quiver in Mama’s voice frightened the child more than the loud noises above them.

“Don’t worry. Probably just a broken window.” Papa stroked his chin and walked to the ladder leading to the trap door.

“We should wait a few minutes until we are sure the storm has died down,” Mr. Scott stepped ahead of Papa, climbed three rungs of the latter and put his ear to the trap door.

Isabel smiled at the sight of the man whose hair matched the wall. He also had red dirt smeared on his face, hands and shirt. She looked at her own dirty hands and then up at Mama who smiled.

~*~

Eugene followed Papa and looked up at the door. “I wonder if this is how Noah and his family felt?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it was raining hard outside for a long time and they were stuck inside the ark wondering.”

“Why didn’t they open the door and look out?” Curtis asked seriously.

“They couldn’t do that, silly. Remember? God shut the door!”

“What if lions, tigers and rats tried to eat them?” Curtis said with a smile.

“Did that happen, Mama?” Isabel’s enormous eyes turned to Mama.

“No dear.” Mama said softly. God protected them. The ark was a place of safety. God took care of them and of the animals that lived in a separate part of the ark. Noah and his family took care of the animals God sent to them.”

“Oh, that’s good.” Isabel looked at Mama cat curled on the floor at Mama’s feet with kittens cuddled closely. She reached to pet the velvety coats but Mama took Isabel’s hand into her own and then lifted her onto her lap.

“The kittens are like babies. They need lots of sleep.” As if on cue, Mama Cat opened her eyes and began grooming her little ones.

~*~

“Looks like we can go back upstairs now,” Mr. Scott said as he opened the trap door. “Doesn’t look too bad from here,” he said as he turned back toward the family. “Something smells awfully good too!”

“Oh, the stew,” Mama exclaimed as she lifted Isabel to the floor and rushed to the ladder. “I hope it didn’t burn. I remember sliding the pot to the back of the stove.”

“Ummm. Smells just right to me,” Papa said with a grin.

Mr. Scott stepped into the kitchen and reached for each of the children, cat, kittens, cradle, Mama and baby before Papa stepped into the kitchen, closing the trap door securely.

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Everyone stood in the kitchen as if afraid to move. “Well, it aint too bad,” Papa said as he ran his hands through his salt and pepper hair. I’ll cover that kitchen window with a tarp for now.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Mama said as she nodded toward the window. Looks like the rain has stopped and the fresh air feels wonderful. Just as she finished speaking, a hiss and a whine came from the basket near the stove. Mama Cat looked with consternation at two brown puppies shivering by the bowl formerly filled with cream. To everyone’s amazement, Mama Cat placed her kittens into the basket and then herded the puppies into the basket, lay beside them and began grooming them as if they were kittens.

“I’ve never seen anything like that.” Papa exclaimed and Mama smiled.

“She isn’t seeing puppies,” Mama said softly. “She just sees puppies in need of a mama. Now, why don’t you men clean up the glass and leaves that have blown in while I prepare lunch? Isabel, would you like to help me?”

Isabel nodded vigorously while Mama pulled out a flour sacking cloth and tied it around Isabel as an apron.

“Look!” Curtis pointed to the kitchen window to a beautiful double rainbow. Everyone ran to the window and Papa lifted Isabel to his shoulder.

“Jesus did keep us safe just like he did for Noah!”

“I know today isn’t Thanksgiving but today, I am very thankful,” Mr. Scott said as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and loudly blew his nose.

“Well then,” Mama said as she sliced bread and slathered them with butter. “Let’s sit around the table and give thanks.”

~*~

Later that evening as Mama was tucking Little Isabel into bed, Isabel reached for the toy rabbit her friend Sally Anne had given her at their first real tea party.

“I’m sorry you didn’t get to have a tea party for your friend, dear.”

“That’s okay, Mama. This was more fun and Jesus gave us our own rainbow!”

Little Isabel and Rainy Days ~ Part 5 ~ A Shelter in the time of storm.

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Katherine Purdy

Photo found on Pinterest

Photo found on Pinterest

“Mr. Scott, what are you doing out in this terrible weather?” Mama’s voice had a soothing effect on Isabel.

“I came to check on you folks. This is a bad storm. Trees are down everywhere. I have a white pine half way into my house and it isn’t even Christmas,” he added with a nervous chuckle.

“Hello Mr. Greene,” Mr. Scott said as he stomped mud from his boots.

“Oh, don’t worry about the mud,” Mama said, “There’s no way to avoid mud this time. There are leaks everywhere. Come into the kitchen. I’ll fix you two a cup of hot coffee.”

“That would be wonderful Ma’am. I’m afraid we need to get you all to the cellar immediately. The storm has gotten worse and I’m afraid that black cloud from the west could be a tornado. I’ve never seen one but I know they come in the shape of an upside down funnel.”

“Oh, mercy!” Papa said as he, Mama and Mr. Scott quickly walked to the kitchen. “I don’t see how we will be able to get into the cellar because a tree fell on the back porch roof and part of the tree is covering the door.”

“There’s another way,” Mr. Scott said and loudly slurped his coffee Mama had quickly poured into a mug for him. “My grandparents built this house before the war and had a second cellar no one knew about. I discovered it when I was a lad. Let’s see now, there should be a trap door under the table. Grandma always covered it with a rug but even without the rug it is hard to see.”

Curtis crawled out from under the table with Isabel close behind. Mama reached to take sleeping Maggie from Eugene. “Mister, can we help?”

“Yes you may,” Mr. Scott said and smiled at each one as he pulled three peppermint sticks from his pocket. “Now if I remember right, the door is part of the wood planks. There should be a little more space between the wood – the hinges to the door are underneath. He pulled an ivory jack knife from his pocket and got down on his knees, knocking on the floor, easing the knife between each plank. Papa pulled out his knife and followed suit as the brothers started knocking too.

“Papa,” Eugene said, “why are we knocking?”

“There will be a different sound when we hit the door.”

“Eureka!” Mr. Scott indicated a section of floor and both men loosened the boards with their knives. “We should be able to lift the door in one piece. Time may have caused the boards to swell but we’ll pry it open.”

Isabel’s eyes grew enormous at the sight. The rumble of thunder caused Isabel to jump and everyone laughed nervously.  “Come dear and help me pack some things we may need in the cellar. We have shelves filled with canned fruit, vegetables, apples and potatoes so we won’t starve.”

“I’m sorry Ma’am but we might not be able to get to your root cellar. I’ll tell you all about it when we are safe underground.

Dust and a musty smell filled the kitchen as the door opened with a loud squeak.

“I’ll test out the ladder,” Mr. Scott said as he tentatively placed his foot on the first step into the dark, mysterious hideaway. “So far, so good; if it holds my weight, we will be okay. Mrs. Greene, why don’t you come first with the little one. We will bring the cradle and a couple of those quilts the boys were using.”

~*~

Isabel watched with wide eyes as the large man with red hair helped Mama down the ladder. Eugene passed the quilts and a sack of bread to Mr. Scott before stepping into his new adventure followed by Curtis bearing a lantern. Papa picked up Isabel and kissed her on the forehead. “You’re next, Princess.”

Isabel held tight onto Papa’s neck when two large hands of a stranger reached for her.

“It’s alright, Isabel. Let Mr. Scott help you down,” Mama said firmly. “We must hurry. Papa needs to come down so that we can close the door against the storm.”  Isabel nodded slightly as she let go of Papa’s neck.

“That’s a good girl,” the man said in a soothing voice. “I know you’re afraid. We’re going somewhere safe so that no one will get hurt in this storm. It’s not like a regular storm. It’s a mean storm.”

“Like the time it rained on Noah’s Ark?”

“It won’t last that long,” he said with a chuckle, “We should be safe down here just like Noah and his family were safe from the storm. Now, that climb down wasn’t too bad was it? There’s your Mama over there by the lantern.”

Isabel turned and ran to Mama and watched as Papa stepped on the first rung of the ladder. “Well I’ll be!” Papa chuckled, picked up Mama cat and the white kitten and passed them to the astonished landlord. “Mama Cat and her kittens need shelter from the storm too.”

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Mr. Scott passed the cats to Eugene who set Mama Cat on the ground.  “Better hold her, Son. She may try to go after the other kittens.” While he was speaking, Papa returned to the ladder with the basket of kittens, passed it to Mr. Scott, reached for two jugs of water and  then closed the door and attached the rope handle to a hook on the wall.

“Wind’s whipping around the house and whistling a tune,” Papa said as he stepped onto the dirt floor. “Mighty fine shelter you have here.”

Isabel followed Papa’s gaze around the room. One side of the shelter was lined with shelves and vegetable bins. Empty barrels with lids askew sat at the far end of the room. Next to the barrels was a large trunk. I wonder what’s in there? Isabel wanted to ask Mr. Scott but when he looked in her direction, she felt shy and hid her face in Mama’s apron.

Papa began praying aloud for each person in the room and for those who did not have a shelter in the time of storm.

Little Isabel leaned close to Mama as Papa prayed and sighed with contentment. We will be safe, just like Noah and his family. Mama Cat started purring as if she had read the child’s thoughts. Isabel opened one eye to peek at Mama who gently stroked her hair and whispered in Isabel’s ear. “We will be fine. Jesus is with us.”

Photo used with permission.

Photo used with permission.

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.

Miss Madison10441101_10203141061280662_7210698404753137386_n

Little Isabel and Rainy Days ~ Part 2 Enduring the Storm

Enduring the Storm

Katherine H. Purdy

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Isabel awakened to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof and the delicious sound of bacon sizzling in the skillet on the stove.

“Hey sleepyhead, it’s time to get up!” Eugene sat on the edge of the bed. “Mama said to give you a piggy-back ride to the kitchen because there is water everywhere!”

“Oh boy, I love rrr-rain!” Isabel giggled as they trotted over and around bowls, pitchers, pots and pans collecting water on the floor.

“Mama said we will have to stay in the kitchen all day where it’s nice and warm.” Eugene said as he lowered Isabel down at the kitchen table.

“Good morning, Sunshine!” Mama said as she placed a platter of food on the table.

“Whoo-whee,” Papa said as he entered the back door, dumping water from his hat onto the steps and stood on the rug to wipe his feet. “It’s a great day for ducks and geese,” he said as Mama helped him struggle out of his large, wet coat. “On second thought, it may be too much rain for them too.”

“You’re soaked to the skin,” Mama observed as she handed Papa his slippers. “Maybe you should change and we’ll dry out your clothes by the stove.”

“Oh, I’ll be okay in here by the stove. Besides, I have to go right back outside after breakfast.

“This is a big storm, We have a few tree limbs scattered everywhere and a few saplings have been uprooted. Hope it passes by soon or blows itself out.” Papa shook water out of his hair as he passed Little Isabel’s chair; evoking giggles and wiggles as she tried to dodge the water droplets.

“Mama, can we eat now?” Curtis asked as he popped a piece of bacon into his mouth.

May we eat?” Mama said with a smile.

“That’s what I asked!”

“Not until we are all seated at the table. It’s impolite to eat before everyone is seated and the blessing said,” Mama answered as she poured hot coffee into two cups. Suddenly, lightning flashed across the sky followed by a sickening sound of cracking wood with a loud crash on the roof. “Oh no, the roof!” Mama screamed, turning her focus from the coffee to the window where branch from a falling tree brushed against the window.

Eugene and Curtis jumped from their chairs, turning them over in the process, Baby Maggie started crying and Isabel slid out of her chair and latched onto Mama’s skirt.

“ Hot Coff-coff-Coffee!” Papa shouted as the cup overflowed, splashing on him as he pushed away from the table, his chair slipped, dumping him onto the floor.

“Oh dear!” Mama rushed to help Papa with the coffee pot still in her hands and Eugene rushed to take it from her.

Papa shook his head and headed first to the window and then to the back door. He returned with a small branch in his hands. “I can’t believe it. The tree landed on the back porch roof and not the house; crashed right through.” Papa slowly shook head and took his place at the table and lead the family in prayer.

As Papa prayed, Isabel heard a soft cry. She opened one eye and looked around and caught Mama looking her and so she squeezed her eyes tight until Papa said, “Lord, thank you for keeping us safe and for sparing the roof to this house. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.”

“Not until we are all seated at the table. It’s impolite to eat before everyone is seated and the blessing said,” Mama answered as she poured hot coffee into two cups. Suddenly, lightning flashed across the sky followed by a sickening sound of cracking wood with a loud crash on the roof. “Oh no, the roof!” Mama screamed, turning her focus from the coffee to the window where branch from a falling tree brushed against the window.

~*~

Blessing said, tears dried, coffee cleaned up and refilled; the Greene family finally got down to business of eating when two squeaky sounds made their way to the kitchen table.

“What’s that?”

“It’s probably just limbs scraping against the house,” Papa said as he poured coffee from his cup into his saucer and sipped the hot, strong liquid.

“Maybe it’s a mouse,” Curtis said as he reached for another piece of bacon,

“Or a big fat rat with beady eyes and a long skinny tail,” Eugene said while making a scary face at Isabel.”

“A mouse? A rat? Isabel screeched as she stood on the kitchen chair. “Papa, it’s not a rat is it?”

“Oh, I don’t think so. At least not yet. There’s an opening now for mice to get in through that big hole in the porch roof.”

“Oh Avil,” Mama said as she wiped Maggie’s face with a wash cloth. “Don’t frighten the child. The storm is frightening enough.

Almost as if on cue, a loud meow echoed in the room. Isabel slid out of her chair and raced her brothers to the back porch. “Kittens!” Curtis said as he watched three kittens huddled between the tree branches lying on the porch.

“Four kittens and one Mama,” Eugene said as a gray tabby carried a kitten in her mouth and deposited it with the other three, shook water off her head and began to groom the tiny kittens.

“Well, will you look at that? Mama cat knows to bring her babies in from the rain,” Papa chuckled.

“Of course she does,” Mama said gently, “she’s a mother. Oh the poor dears are soaking wet and Mama cat must be so cold and wet. She had to bring each kitten in from the cold wind and rain. Eugene, please bring me the empty crate from the pantry. Curtis, please bring a towel and also bring some large flannel rags.”

Mama made a soft bed for Mama cat and her kittens and placed the bed by the warm stove. “We mustn’t disturb the kittens. I don’t anyone to pick them up. Not yet. Mama cat will give them everything they need and we will feed Mama cat a nice bowl of cream.”

Isabel put her hands behind her back to keep from picking up the tiny, crying kittens.

“Mama, did Jesus send us kittens because of the storm?”

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Christmas Memories~Story Time

 

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Photo by kathiekingeryphotography.com

“Nannie, Can we make gingerbread men like your Mama made?” Kristen asked as she looked up at her great grandmother.

“Oh, I know we can. We may bake gingerbread men tomorrow afternoon.” Nannie said as the timer on the oven beeped.

“Now, lets have cookies fresh from the oven with a glass while of milk and I will tell you all about Christmases past.”

Kristen’s enormous blue eyes twinkled as she climbed on Nannie’s red step stool/chair and laughed as Nannie pushed the vintage stool close to the table.

“Now,” Nannie said as cookies, milk were in place before them and Kristen said a quick blessing, the story began. “When I was your age, I had two older brothers and a baby sister, Maggie. We were a poor family but we were rich in the blessing of love.

“Did you have a Christmas tree?”

“Oh, yes. We always had a Christmas tree. Some years we had small trees but in 1919 we had a wonderful, large tree.

“Did you get to help put the lights and decorations on the tree?”

“Oh, no. We didn’t have electricity.” Nannie smiled at little Kristen’s reaction. “Few people in our neighborhood had electricity. We lit kerosene lamps and candles. There were shelves on the wall to hold the lamps so that they wouldn’t get knocked over. That would have caused a fire, you see.”

“In 1919, we didn’t help with the tree at all. Mama and Papa liked to surprise us. Before going to bed on Christmas Eve, Mama told us to hang us our largest sock on a hook on the mantle of the fireplace. It was so exciting! Eugene and Curtis knew what to expect but it was my first Christmas that I would remember.” Nannie signed, took a sip of milk and looked ahead as if seeing that Christmas on the wall of her memory. “It was hard to go to sleep that night.

My brothers had told me something special would happen in the morning and no matter what, ‘don’t get out of bed!’ Of course, I heard a lot of strange sounds coming from the front room – that’s what Mama called our living room.”

“Oh,” Kristen said as she stuffed the last piece of cookie into her mouth. “What made the noises?”

“I didn’t know. I heard my brothers giggling from their side of the curtain dividing our room. Sometimes I thought I heard Papa’s voice and Mama’s soft laugh but I knew that couldn’t be true because Papa always went to bed at sundown because he had to get up so early to do chores. I finally got to sleep but before the rooster crowed, Eugene and Curtis woke me up. They each held my hand as we walked into the front room with their hands over my eyes. ‘Squeeze your eyes closed – real tight,’ they said. When Mama told me to open my eyes, I couldn’t believe it! A beautifully decorated tree with candles had appeared in the room! At least that’s what I thought.” Nannie said with a chuckle.

vintage Christmas tree with candle

Kristen leaned close and whispered, “Were there bunches of pretty presents under the tree?”

“We each had two gifts under the tree. Mama always knitted hats, scarves and mittens for us; wrapping them as one package and Papa had made a special gift for each of us. He built a small dollhouse for me,  complete with furniture and a doll family to live in it. I was so excited, I almost forgot to look in my sock. The boys didn’t forget, however. They went to the socks first. Each sock contained an orange which was a treat for us. We only had oranges at Christmas. There were nuts, a silver dollar, peppermint sticks and I got new hair ribbons. The boys got brand new pencils and a harmonica for each. We were so excited about our new gifts, we almost forgot breakfast.”

“What did the boys get under the tree, Nannie?”

“They got hand carved horses from Papa.” Nannie smiled and poured more milk for Kristen. “We had pancakes for breakfast. Just as we were beginning to eat, there was a knock on the door. It was then we realized it was snowing. Papa went to the door and there was a large basket of food with our name on it. The card was signed, Merry Christmas!” Nannie stopped to wipe her eyes with the corner of her apron. “The basket of food was sitting on a brand new sled for us to share. You see, we were very poor that Christmas and didn’t even have a chicken to roast for Christmas dinner. There was a turkey with all the fixins’, two pies and a cake. Flour, sugar, salt and coffee were also in the basket. Mama told us only Jesus knew she had used the rest of the ingredients on the pancakes. She said that she prayed about making the gingerbread men because she wouldn’t have enough to bake bread after Christmas. When she sat down at the table, she opened her Bible. God said He would provide and He did.

After breakfast, papa got out his old banjo and we sang Christmas carols all day. The best part was reading about how God provided His Son, baby Jesus so that we can go to Heaven and live with Him some day. You see, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the food or even about the tree. It’s about Jesus; our Savior who left Heaven to be born of a virgin in a stable with a manger for a bed like a lamb.”

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“I love Jesus!” Kristen said as she slid off her stool to give Nannie a big hug. “I love Christmas too.”

“Me too,” Nannie said as she returned the hug. “Now, when you come back tomorrow we will bake gingerbread boys while I tell you about your Grammy’s Christmas when she was your age.”

Just then the doorbell rang and Kristen’s mother walked into the kitchen. “I want to be part of that too! I’ve never heard that story before.”

“Oh, if you come often enough, I could tell enough stories to fill a book. I’m so glad you came! Walking down memory lane always makes me feel like a child again – experiencing the joy of Christmas all over again and again.”

Little Isabel~ Story Time

 

Little Kristen set aside her book and followed a voice coming from the kitchen.

“Joy to the World, the Lord has come…” Nannie put a pie in the oven and wiped her hands on her festive apron and turned to her small granddaughter. “I thought you were playing,” Nannie said as she cleaned flour from the kitchen counter before picking up the child.

“Nannie, I’m bored.”

“Bored? How can you be bored when there is some much work to do before Christmas? With all of your toys, it’s hard to imagine being bored.

“Will you tell me a story? Please?”

“Of course I will tell you a story. What kind of story do you want to hear?”

“My favorite – tell me about when you were a little girl!”

“Well,” Nannie said as she lifted Kristen onto her lap, “that was a long time ago. Do you want to hear anything special?”

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“What was Christmas like when you were a little girl?”

“That was a long time ago but I still remember Mama and Papa making Christmas for us.”

“How long ago?” Kristen asked as she shifted and found a comfy spot on Nannie’s lap.

“A very long time,” Nannie said with a smile. “Lets see, the year was 1919 when I was your age. I remember it well. Since I was too young to go to school, I helped Mama bake cookies.”

“What kind of cookies, Nannie?”

“Gingerbread boys and girls. You see, cookies were part of the tree decoration but I didn’t realize that until Christmas morning.  Mama always put a hole in the gingerbread child’s cap for the ribbon.”

“Did you get to lick the beaters?” Kristen asked as she remembered baking cookies with her Mama.

“Mama mostly used a spoon to mix the cookie batter but she had a egg beater for the dry ingredients. Lets see,” Nannie said as she stood up with Kristen and headed for the kitchen. After rummaging through two drawers, she picked up the red handled instrument. “This is what Mama used to beat the eggs and other wet ingredients. See? You turn the handle like this and the beaters turned around and around until the batter was nice and fluffy. Do you want to try it?”

 

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Kristen’s eyes grew big as Nannie demonstrated how the beater worked. “How do you take it apart so that you can lick the beaters?”

“We don’t. It is all one piece. Would you like to try?” Kristen picked up the beater and turned the crank just as she had seen Nannie do. It slipped from her hands and landed on the floor.

“I’m sorry, Nannie!”

“That’s alright pumpkin. I did the very same thing the first time I tried it too. Mama just smiled and said, ‘Isabel, if you don’t get it right the first time, just pick it up and try again and again until you can beat eggs as fast as I can.'”

Little Isabel and Rainy Days ~ Part 3

Just Like Noah

Katherine Purdy

Photo used with permission.

Photo used with permission.

“Mama, did Jesus send the kittens because of the storm?” Isabel’s beautiful blue eyes looked to Mama for an answer.

“If he did, it wouldn’t be the first time he sent animals. Do you remember the Bible lesson we have been working on every morning?

Isabel twisted her hair while swaying to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof and windows. All the while keeping her eyes on the kittens. “Noah’s Ark?”

“Yes, that’s right Isabel. You have been listening!” Mama said as she swept Little Isabel in her arms for a hug and butterfly kisses. “We will talk some more about Noah’s Ark but for now, we need to coax Mama Cat into bring her kittens inside the house where they will be warm and safe.”

“How will we do that?” Eugene asked loudly.

“Shhh,” Mama put her finger to her lips and motioned for the boys to join her and Isabel near the stove. “First, we need to stay very quiet. Cats are often afraid of people; especially noisy ones. Now that we have a box filled with soft flannel, we will need to coax Mama inside first. Then she will bring her kittens one at a time. Curtis, please fill that old chipped bowl with cream – not milk. She needs the extra nourishment and then I will place a trail of goodies leading from the tree limbs where she is hiding to the kitty bed.”

Isabel held her breath as Mama picked up the pan of scrambled eggs and dropped pieces of egg from the porch to the box by the stove.

“Now, we must be very quiet and don’t move a muscle. Sit back at the table, finish your breakfast and try not to make a sound.” Mama said softly.

Isabel found sitting quietly was difficult when something so exciting was happening in this very room.

Papa filled his saucer with coffee again and slurped too loudly as Mama gave him a warning glance. Eugene and Curtis put their hands over their mouths to keep from laughing.

Soon, Mama Cat slowly entered the room. She sniffed the air and then gobbled up the eggs until she reached the warm box. Stepping inside the box, she kneeded the blanket while purring loudly.

“Mama,” Isabel whispered. “Does she think she’s making bread or biscuits?” Mama shook her head with a smile and put her finger back to her lips. Isabel turned back to the  cat and watched as Mama Cat rubbed her chin on the corners of the box.

“Mama, does her chin itch?”

“She’s putting her scent on it so that she and the kittens will know they belong there,” Papa whispered a bit too loudly and the cat looked at him, walked to the table, rubbed her against Papa’s leg and then sauntered to the back porch and brought the kittens one by one to the new warm bed.

“It looks like we have new members of our family,” Mama said softly and laughed gently as Papa rubbed the whiskers on his chin and shook his head from side to side before giving the family a slight smile of approval.

Little Isabel and Rainy Days ~ Part 3 ~ Kittens and the Ark

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 “Mama, did Jesus send the kittens because of the storm?” Isabel’s beautiful blue eyes looked to Mama for an answer.

“If He did, it wouldn’t be the first time He sent animals. Do you remember the Bible lesson we have been working on every morning?

Isabel twisted her hair while swaying to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof and windows while keeping her eyes on the kittens. “Noah’s Ark?”

“Yes, that’s right Isabel. You have been listening!” Mama said as she swept Little Isabel in her arms for a hug and butterfly kisses. “We will talk some more about Noah’s Ark but for now, we need to coax Mama Cat into bring her kittens inside the house where they will be warm and safe.”

“How will we do that?” Eugene asked loudly.

“Shhh,” Mama put her finger to her lips and motioned for the boys to join her and Isabel near the stove. “First, we need to stay very quiet. Cats are often afraid of people; especially noisy ones. Now that we have a box filled with soft flannel, we will need to coax Mama inside first. Then she will bring her kittens one at a time. Curtis, please fill that old chipped bowl with cream – not milk. She needs the extra nourishment and then I will place a trail of goodies leading from the tree limbs where she is hiding to the kitty bed.”

Isabel held her breath as Mama picked up the pan of scrambled eggs and dropped small pieces of egg from the porch to the box by the stove.

“Now, we must be very quiet and don’t move a muscle. Sit back at the table, finish your breakfast and try not to make a sound.” Mama said softly.

Isabel found sitting quietly was difficult when something so exciting was happening in this very room.

Papa filled his saucer with coffee again and slurped too loudly as Mama gave him a warning glance. Eugene and Curtis put their hands over their mouths to keep from laughing.

Soon, Mama Cat slowly entered the room. She sniffed the air and then gobbled up the eggs until she reached the warm box. Stepping inside the box, she kneaded the blanket while purring loudly.

“Mama,” Isabel whispered. “Does she think she’s making bread or biscuits?” Mama shook her head with a smile and put her finger back to her lips. Isabel turned back to the cat and watched as Mama Cat rubbed her chin on the corners of the box.

“Mama, does her chin itch?”

“She’s putting her scent on it so that she and the kittens will know they belong there,” Papa whispered a bit too loudly and the cat looked at him, walked to the table, rubbed against Papa’s leg and then sauntered to the back porch and brought the kittens one by one to the new warm bed.

“It looks like we have new members of our family,” Mama said softly and laughed gently as Papa rubbed the whiskers on his chin and shook his head from side to side before giving the family a slight smile of approval.

~*~

“I have an idea,” Mama said as she cleared the table and peered out the kitchen window as she poured boiling water and soap shavings into the dishpan. “It doesn’t look like this storm will end any time soon. Why don’t you children bring your animal carvings Papa made for you and bring them into the kitchen? When you come back into the kitchen, we can make a pretend Ark for the animals and you.”

Eugene picked up Isabel and put her on his shoulders as they dodged water droplets and puddles, jumped over bowls and pitchers collecting the water until they reached the curtain divided room.

~*~

“Guess what, Peter; you are going into Noah’s Ark!” Isabel chirped as she picked up the stuffed Peter Rabbit her friend Sally Anne had given her at their first tea party combined with birthdays for each girls a few weeks earlier. “Now Peter, how will we carry all of the toys Papa made for us?” Isabel placed Peter Rabbit near her ear and smiled. “Very good, Peter Rabbit. You are so smart! We’ll put them in the Easter basket!”

“Hey Sis,” Curtis said as he peeked through the curtain dividing their room. “Are you ready yet? It’s raining too much in here!”

~*~

Just as the children entered the kitchen, Papa entered from the back porch – dripping wet.

“I found it! This is a lot of canvas but it should work,” Papa said as he laid the large bundle on the kitchen table.

“Perfect!” Mama said as she dried her hands on her apron and reached into her sewing cabinet for a pair of large, sturdy scissors. The children watched wide eyed as Mama and Papa worked together to make a tent over the kitchen table which had been moved to a dry spot in the room.

“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 started to read. “Before we begin,” she said softly, “We will act out Noah’s story as I read. So when  we get to the building part what will we do?”

“We will pretend to be builders!” Curtis dipped his head as if to ask forgiveness for disturbing Mama Cat who stopped grooming her orange kitten and stared intently at the boy.

“That’s right Curtis. Now, I would like you to place all of your toy animals in Isabel’s basket and set it on my sewing machine.”

Eugene collected the animals, placed them in Isabel’s basket and placed the basket on the sewing machine at the far end of the room.

Papa entered the room with the bolt of canvas just as Mama began to read.

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