Tag Archive | motherhood

Happy Birthday, Nannie!

Today is my grandmother’s birthday. Without a doubt, she is celebrating at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ with her precious “Mama,” Papa, her sisters, brothers, three children and one grandchild

Nannie lived most of her life in Roanoke, Virginia and lived a few years in Richmond, Virginia working at Johnston-Willis Hospital. She was a hard worker and loved children!

Isabel Riley & Baby Ronald Lee Riley (2013_12_29 01_50_28 UTC)

Why celebrate someone’s birthday after they are no longer with us? Because she made life special for many people most of her life. She cared for her younger siblings after her mother died and made a home for her grandchildren as well as her children.  It is just a way to remember and in that remembrance, to give God the glory. (This is also why I believe God placed her story on my heart to write. The Vision of a Mother’s Heart is about my grandmother, Isabel.)

Birthday tea with the pin and handkerchief I bought for “Isabel” when I was a child. She returned them to me when I got married.

Isabel surrounded by four of her children, Barbara, Ron, Betty and Sandra on her birthday, August 28, 1996.Cakes by AshleyHappy Birthday, Nannie. We miss you.


If you would like to read about Isabel’s eleventh birthday, I will be posting excerpts from The Vision of a Mother’s Heart this week. You may read parts of the chapter each day at The Vision of a Mother’s Heart by Katherine Hinchee Purdy

The Vision of a Mother's Heart (2013_12_29 01_50_28 UTC)

The Vision of a Mother's Heart back of book

Mother’s Work ~ Dedicated to New Moms and Very Busy Moms!

33e1eae781f89760c4f10db4c39430efEmily as Grandma Lizzie

“Man may work from sun to sun but Mother’s work is never done!”

We have all heard this old saying and it has never been more true than the days before our modern conveniences.

I have often thought of the work my great grandmother (“Mama” in The Vision of a Mother’s Heart”) had to do each day. She couldn’t hit the snooze button on the clock even if that technology had been available to her.  She was a farm wife with a husband and nine children to care for.

  • She must be up at the crack of dawn to prepare a large breakfast for her family, Chores for Papa and the older children began before breakfast. Cows had to be milked, eggs collected, chickens fed… All this on only a few hours sleep. After all, she had newborn twins to care for.
  • Washing dishes included washing by hand, drying and putting away the dishes. Sweeping the floor and often mopping the wood or linoleum flooring. It’s good that she had ten-year-old Isabel and eight-year-old Maggie to help.
  • The older children were taught to make the beds. (This often consisted of pulling the quilt up over the pillows so that dust and pollen from the open window didn’t get on the sheets.
  • Monday was laundry day. The earlier she scrubbed the clothes on a scrub board and hung them on the line to dry, the better. Hopefully, Papa and the older boys helped fill the wash tubs with water and built a fire under the tubs so that the   clothes came out clean and fresh.
  • The clothes line must first be wiped off with a clean cloth before Mfama could hang clothes on the line. They were held to the line with peg clothes pins to hold them tight as the gentle breeze and warm sunshine did it’s wonderful job.
  • While the clothes dried on the line, Mama nursed and diapered the twins before rocking them to sleep as stew warmed on the back of the tove and several loaves of bread in several stages of rising or baking filled the house with wonderful fragrances. With the infants down for their nap, Mama worked in earnest to put lunch ont he table. Not just sandwiches and chips but a full meal complete with homemade dessert. She often cooked for farm hands as well as for Papa and the children who were not in school.
  • Dishes washed, dried and put away. Bread and pies baked and placed in the pie safe to cool as she went back outside to bring in the sweet smelling laundry. Folded and placed in a large wicker basket with smaller items folded into a second basket – even an unused apple basket would do.  Ironing each item with flat irons would have to wait until tomorrow.
  • Little ones up from their nap. Feed the babies, change diapers and carry their cradle into the kitchen or porch as she snapped peas and strung beans for dinner. Singing and cooing to the little ones as she worked.
  • Refreshments for Papa and his workers to help him keep up his strength until supper time. Little ones still at home were also fed and allowed to play outside.
  • During the quiet time between refreshments and older children coming home from school, Mama had her quiet time with the Lord and then picked up needle work for she handmade her family’s clothes. She also made quilts, kitted, croched and made items to sell to supplement their income.
  • A fresh batch of cookies or fresh bread slathered with home churned butter and jam awaited the children who ran home after school with fascinating stories to tell Mama who was always ready to listen and give advice as needed.
  • Her apron contained deep pockets containing clean handkerchiefs, a small comb and ribbons to pull back her daughters hair when they donned their own aprons to help prepare dinner. On Monday, Chicken and Dumplings or pinto beans, cornbread, fried potatoes and other veggies Mama had preserved from their garden. These meals could stew all day on a back burner of the black cast iron  wood-burning stove.
  • More dishes for Isabel, Maggie and even little Sylvia to wash, dry and put away as Mama swept and mopped the floor again. The children were allowed to play after their chores until the last ray of sunlight dipped over the hill.
  • Family Altar or Family Devotions began with Mama strapping on the “squeeze box” and Papa pulling out his old banjo as the entire family joined in singing and playing instruments. The Old Rugged Cross, Brighten a Corner, Amazing Grace, Trust and Obey were a few of the hymns the family played and sang before Mama read Scripture and Papa led in prayer as the day ended for most of the family. Mama still had little ones to care for before going to bed. Before she went to sleep each night, she prayed for each child by name.

I don’t know about you, but just thinking about all of that work makes me tired! Yet, she did all of these things without complaining. One couldn’t just go to the General Store to buy bread unless you had money to spare. She prepared everything by scratch. They grew their food in the garden and Mama canned, dried or preserved food in the root cellar. They had fruit trees and grape vines and prayed they would have enough to last through the year.  I’m thankful for my washer, dryer, self-cleaning oven, the toaster oven (which I use instead of the big oven because it uses less electricity), refrigerator, freezer, and even the iron. Be thankful for the take-out menu!   Life was hard but it was the only life Mama knew. Her family needed her. It’s nice to be needed! She was truly the Proverbs 31 wife and mother.


Don’t think she was perfect. Check out Chapter 32 entitled Mama’s Bad Day in The Vision of a Mother’s Heart.

She could become overwhelmed just like you. Those diapers for the twins? Cloth. Handmade and she couldn’t just take the soiled diaper, roll it up and throw it away. It had to be cleaned immediately and then put into a bucket of soapy water to be washed later. So new mothers, if you find your self overwhelmed, think of the women in your family and how hard it was for them. Your great-great-grandmother got through this and so will you.

Kiss your little ones for me.



Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy ~ Part 2


 Christmas Joy

Part 2

Isabel’s Story

By Katherine Hinchee Purdy

            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?”

“Lets 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 doll house?”

“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.”

Manger b 12 2014


Isabel’s Tenth Birthday

The Vision of a Mother’s Heart by Katherine H. Purdy

Isabel felt like a queen dressed in the cornflower
blue, drop-waist dress with a wide, white sash bow she had
helped Mama make just for today. She turned around in circles
just to watch the skirt flare out, just as she had done when she
was a small child, and smiled with pleasure.

She looked up to see Mama returning her smile.
After church, the family met for a picnic with a lovely view of
the Blue Ridge Mountains. Isabel looked at the smoky blue and
green mountains as she listened to the happy voices surrounding
her and suddenly felt wrapped in a quilt of love.

Cleo, handed Isabel a small
gift and hugged her tightly. She said, “Well, how does it feel to
be ten years old, Isabel? Do you feel any older?”
“Oh, yes,” Isabel said. “I’m in double digits now, you know.”

Junie in the Good Old Days

This is my other grandmother, Junie. She looked quite fashionable with her pretty bobbed, wavy hair and winning smile! It appears that she may be wearing white “Mary Jane” shoes – the style little Sylvia asked Papa for in The Vision of a Mother’s Heart. She also played several musical instruments just like Isabel’s “Mama”!

I love the little kitten on the porch too! Junie lived in West Virginia when this picture was taken. If she had grown up in Roanoke, she could have been one of Isabel’s friends!

We can learn so much from old photographs. Apparently, Junie was a happy girl. She had such a beautiful smile – even when she was a baby! White was apparently a popular choice for clothing.

Junie the one wearing a smile in the center front. There are so many things in this photograph that helps in research.
Notice how the little girl’s dresses are cut.
A simple neckline without a collar and apparently without a facing. (For my friends who sew).
The sleeves are set in simply – no gathering or “puffs”.
They are wearing sensible shoes.
The popular “bob” or pageboy haircuts.

Junie’s mother is wearing the type of apron I envisioned “Mama” wearing in
The Vision of a Mother’s Heart.
Her father (“Daddy Ben”) is wearing a suit and tie.
The shoeless/bootie-less baby sleeping peacefully in her mother’s lap. Such tiny toes!

It is probably after lunch and dinner so they are on the porch to cool off. When the wood or coal stove is used to cook, it takes a while for the house to cool down.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Junie’s Mama had warned her not to slam the screen door and I also imagine it squeaked when opened.

Obviously, this family loves cats too!

Oh, the stories and questions that come to mind when I look at old pictures.

How long did they have to hold their breath and sit still so that the photo would turn out?
Why do some of the family members look tired and perhaps a little grumpy? Heat perhaps?

Who took this picture?

What do you see in your family pictures? What can you learn from them? I would love to hear your stories too! Remember, your grandchildren will someday look at pictures of you. What would you want them to know?


Mom’s Birthday

Cake by Ashley's CakesToday is my mother’s birthday.

“Barbara Jane” was born April 17, 1936 and won a baby contest when she was one year old. Her parents, Harry and Isabel gave her a lot of attention and obviously, spoiled her rotten! By the time she was only ten months old, Barbara Jane had a little sister, Shirley Ann. As you can see, she became attached to dolls and became a little Mommy to her baby dolls.

I can still remember her taking me to Lakeside Amusement Park. We rode the "grown-up rides" that twirled, rolled back and forth; causing peals of laughter as Mom tried not to squish me! She smelled like Persian Wood perfume, powder and cotton candy.

Mom loved being a student at Lee Junior High School. She still talks about the friends she made at this cozy school. She can name all of her teachers and especially loved her Glee Club teacher who encouraged her to sing alto.

In 1966, she and Dad Hinchee finally gave me a baby sister

And then a baby brother!


Hobbies include



Gift Wrapping

Making special occasions extra special!

Rocking babies

                                                                                                     Singing Hymns with her daughters

Three years ago, Mom lost her sight due to a virus. The doctors told her that her sight might return within two years but it hasn’t. She would love to continue doing all of the wonderful things she is used to. Now it is her turn for us to do for her. Dad Hinchee is a remarkable caretaker and we are so thankful for him! He deserves a reward for all that he does.

Now, Mom sits on the porch listening to the birds, smelling her flowers, appreciating the breeze on her face and praising the Lord for the little things often unnoticed.  Her day is filled with Christian radio (BBN) and listening to audio books.

I am sure she is also praying for her children, grandchildren and her two great grandsons!

We surprised her on her seventy-fifth birthday with a party. Family and friends gathered for a wonderful celebration. I wish we could do that every year! Filling the house with laughter and chatter really brightened her spirits.

This reunion reminds me that one day, we will be reunited with loved ones who have

 gone ahead long ago. There will be no more sorrow, no pain, no blindness, no more death but we will see Him, our Savior, face to face. What a wonderful day that will be! Until then, we will rejoice for all that He has given us. His love, salvation, new life, joy, peace, grace for every trial, the sweet fragrance of flowers, the singing of birds, love of our family and for Mom!

We love you, Mom!

Thank you friends for sharing in my mother’s birthday celebration. Mom has made so many birthdays special for us, I couldn’t resist giving her a tribute today.

Until next time,