Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Christmas Nativity Pageant

There's nothing quite as sweet and memorable as a children's nativity pageant. This year, the children in our congregation were especially cute and they did such a great job of re-enacting the birth of Christ. They sang with all their hearts. Only one little angel decided to try and hold the baby Jesus, but can you blame her?The wise men came after this photo but we caught little angel in the act.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas Story from "Women of the Secret Place"


THE GIVER

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD;
and that which he hath given will he pay him again”
 Proverbs. 19:17

  “Mom—what are you doing with my dishes?” I asked as I watched her removing the plates, my plates, from the china cupboard.

    “I’m giving them away,” she said simply, “to a family who truly needs them.”

    “But, Mom,” I protested peevishly, “you told me I could have those dishes when I had a home of my own. You know how I love those dishes!”

    “I’m sorry, honey, but the dishes are inexpensive and can be replaced with some really nice china when you have your own home someday.” Her eyes were downcast and I knew she felt bad about the dishes but that wasn’t going to change her mind.

    “You see, I met a family living in that old shack down by the river and they are in desperate need of just basic necessities.”

    Mom continued wrapping the dishes in newspaper and packing them into a box while I put on my best teenage rebel ugly look. Glancing at me, she stopped in her work and said in her gentle way.

    “I am really sorry the dishes I promised you, but it is almost Christmas and we want to share what we have with others less fortunate.”

    Less fortunate! I stormed inwardly. Who could be less fortunate than we were? I could only stare at my mother in disbelief. Someone should be sharing with us, I thought angrily. Due to a bad farming season of rains and floods, we were barely scraping by until next season and hopes of recovering our losses. Christmas would be meager this Christmas, but things would be better next season, Dad promised.

    I ran my hand over the raised knobby edge of the a large dinner plate, knowing I would never see the dishes again. The pattern was lovely with a pure white background and around the side of each plate was one beautiful red hibiscus with varied shades of green leaves. The contrast of red flower and green leaf against white was very festive. When Mom laid out the table with these particular dishes, it was usually for a company dinner. Several years earlier, I had claimed this set for my future home.

    Mom packed the last plate into the box, wrapping it with a tablecloth for the unfortunate family. Bitterness welled up inside me and I immediately disliked the wretched family that would soon be eating on my hibiscus dishes. Since they were the cause of my present unhappiness, I felt justified in despising them. They didn’t deserve handouts from others who were struggling too.

    Mom loaded the car with the box of dishes, kitchen utensils, blankets, outgrown clothing, and all the food she could spare. Mom took me along (almost kicking and screaming) to help carry the items she had assembled for the unfortunate family.

    The pathetic little shack by the river was drafty and damp. Four young children were sitting on newspapers around a rusty old cook stove. Used tin cans served as dishes and three rickety old chairs and a table were the only furnishings in the house if one could call it that. On the uneven wooden floor, beds made from heaps of dirty straw were piled near the stove. A girl with dark brown eyes smiled shyly up at me from where she sat on her straw pallet and I wondered, what on earth did she have to smile about.

    While my mother visited with the painfully thin woman, my eyes swept over the pitiful dwelling and I quickly realized that I was the fortunate one. We may not have a lot this winter, but I had a good home and a warm bed.

    Driving home, Mom shared the women’s story, telling me how her husband drank and left the family with scanty means for food and shelter. Finally, they were forced to move from their mortgaged home to this wretched wooden shelter.

    Sitting beside Mom on the drive home, I decided to forget about the hibiscus dishes and just be thankful for what I had. Later, lying on my warm bed on that cold December night, I confessed my selfish attitude to God and promised never to resent giving to the ‘unfortunates’ again.

    Years passed and I married and moved to where the hibiscus plant grew in profusion. I often wondered about my dishes and the family who had been in such desperate circumstances that long ago Christmas time.

    As and adult, I returned home often, especially during the holiday season. On one of my visits, my sisters and I attended a rummage sale, perusing the tables in search of some discarded treasure. I noticed a table filled with dishes and having a weakness for anything remotely related, I left my sisters who were sorting through the linens and apparel.

    I approached the table of dishware and peering into a cardboard box, I saw my hibiscus dishes! I was speechless. For years, I had searched for this exact pattern, looking online and foraging through antique shops and second hand stores. The woman behind the table smiled warmly when she saw me carefully turning over the plates.

    “Let me tell you a story about those dishes,” she said with a light in her brown eyes. “One cold Christmas when I was a child, our family was desperately needy. A kind woman brought this box of dishes along with food and clothing to our poor little home. Oh, how we loved those dishes! We set the table and the red, green, and white pattern seemed like a Christmas ornament sent from God. We sang and prayed and thanked God for sending that generous woman and for giving us those beautiful dishes.” A lump rose in my throat and tears sprang to my eyes, but I could not speak. The brown-eyed woman saw my tears.

    “I understand how you feel,” she said knowingly. “That story will bring the strongest man to tears. We enjoyed our hibiscus dishes for many years and never forgot the kind family who gave them to us.” She sighed. “It is hard to part with them, but the proceeds from this rummage sale will help support missionaries in Indonesia. I wanted to give, just like that woman so unselfishly gave to us. I always think of her as ‘the giver’ and try to follow her generous example.

    I swallowed hard and finally managed to speak. “I’ll take the whole box.”

    “All of them?” she queried. “I have been selling them by the piece, but so far, only a few have sold.”

    “I’ll take the entire box,” I reaffirmed.

    While she mentally added the price of each piece, I ventured a question. “Did your family recover from their financial difficulty?”

    “Oh, yes,” she affirmed. “My mother never gave up praying for my father and several years later, my father became a devoted Christian. After that, our home was happy with plenty to eat and a nice place to live.”

    She smiled, her brown eyes shining with the memory. I knew this must be the same brown-eyed girl who had smiled at me from the floor of the dilapidated old shanty.

   God continues to amaze me with His miraculous care and concern for all His children, for those who give, and for those who receive. My dishes had returned to me after so many years. Through my tears, I felt God’s hand on my shoulder, His sweet voice speaking words of love and reassurance; “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”  Pr. 19:17

Written by Ruth Carmichael Ellinger
From: Women of the Secret Place, copyright 2012 Ambassador International

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For love's sake...

December Wedding Anniversary  2012

THE FIRE STILL BURNS...

And the two shall be one flesh so then they are no more two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:8

In our one and only lifetime, there is one great love that comes along. Some say that fate brings a man and woman together or that time and chance present the condition that forms this passion. I say that God has our ‘oneness’ planned from the beginning. If we follow God’s leading, this person chosen by God, is destined to be our soul mate through life’s journey, this small space in time, our one great and passionate love for all time.

In one sense, we choose our destiny in connubial love, to allow the spark to become our great and consuming passion, or to allow it to die through lack of nurturing. We contribute to its increase or to its decline, if it will survive to the end of life.

We were two when love was young, all fire and passion. Years together smoothed the rough edges, softened the prickly places, weaving the threads together into one strong cord.

Our lives became a tapestry of moments, days and years. The flame strengthened, blending the color and shape of two lives into one burning fire, one steady light, one single existence without end.

~



From my wedding box

Didn't think I could still get into my wedding dress did you?

The fabric is still lovely, a heavy rose petal embossed satin. My college best friend made the dress and was a bridesmaid in the wedding

No one can fill his shoes. These days we are both putting our feet up and so blessed with many hands to help with the work,  God has been good
~

Monday, December 17, 2012

Last Reminder!

E-BOOK SALE! On A Snowy Christmas Eve:
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January 1, 2013

Friday, December 14, 2012

Did I hear someone say the "C" word?

I'm busy with so many projects so just posting a few things to give your eyes a rest and make you smile. This is a vintage stuffed toy dog named "Sparky." His head turns and he always makes me laugh. I brought him out to celebrate the holidays with us

 Did I hear someone say the "C" word?
 MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Remember the reason for the season

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December...Month of Memories


Wintertime.  The barn on the Ohio farm where I grew up
  
Some memories etched in my mind during the month of December have lasted a lifetime, warming my life with thoughts of home, of love, of moonlit nights and frosty mornings. It was in December when I began dating Wright. He brought me a collie puppy in a shoebox, a red ribbon tied around his furry neck. This dog was my faithful companion and friend for 17 years.

Shawn


My second memory of the man God had chosen for me was at an ice-skating party in December. I was with another young man, but I saw him there, his skating form smooth, his self-assurance a part of his total presence. At the bonfire, he looked my way, his eyes laughing. I thought he was laughing at me because I was such a poor skater. Somehow, he knew.




Skating in the Moonlight
Why didn’t I taken more photos?


Our wedding anniversary is in the month of December and each year that passes is a blessing from God. In our one and only lifetime, there is one great love that comes along. Some say that fate brings a man and woman together or that time and chance present the condition that forms this passion. I say that God has our ‘oneness’ planned from the beginning. The person He has chosen is destined to be our soul mate through life’s journey, this space in time, a soul mate that will be to us our one great and passionate love for all time. In one sense, we choose our destiny in wedded love, to allow the spark to become our great and consuming passion, or to allow it to die through lack of nurturing. We contribute to its increase or its decline, and how it will be at the end.



The Beginning








Family Years





Thinking of you...




Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MY LOVE

Friday, November 16, 2012

NEW FACE FOR AN OLD FRIEND...

ON A SNOWY CHRISTMAS EVE
 
The endearing true story of an aging artist bitter with life and the family he once loved. The vinegary old man and his dog, Rudy, live in a small Canadian village nestled in the heart of British Columbia. Who can change such a bitter, broken heart? The answer comes when Bernie faces himself and his past during a children’s Christmas pageant.

This bittersweet and stirring story is for all ages, for all who believe in the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to the world. If you are looking for spiritual significance during this highly commercialized holiday season and want your family to understand the “true” meaning of Christmas, then this story is for you. What makes the beautifully written narrative so special is that it really happened, not so very long ago on a snowy Christmas Eve.


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Some stories are written from a vivid imagination, woven like threads in a tapestry to become alive with color and contrast, with sight and sound. Some stories are mere ideas, thoughts, and reflections, methodically and carefully framed into words that tell the tale. Still others, like my own, are the experiences of life lived, of stories and events more wonderful than a fiction writer could ever produce. This is where I write. And God, who is the Master Author, holds the pen.  (from Christmas Comes to Ernie) 
                 ©Ruth Carmichael Ellinger/2001

It is often said that the pen is the tongue of the soul and the heart is revealed in things written. For a writer to capture the reader, error free technique and perfect sentence structure alone, is not enough. You must capture the reader with your passion, words and images that the reader feels are coming from your heart. 

I write because of an inspiration within, because the Spirit compels me to write my stories and this is not simply my own choice. To me, it is a moral duty, an obligation to my readers to write the truth in a way that allows them to see themselves reflected in a spiritual context. Readers can relate to the circumstances written in the story, work out similar problems, consider who they are in relationship to God, and where they are going in that relationship.
Words are easily written just as they are easily spoken. Those same words placed in neat columns on a tablet, of read from a page in a dictionary or thesaurus are innocent in themselves, yet the same words can be mightily used under the influence of the Holy Spirit. 

Words have the power to persuade for good or evil. If words fall from the lips of a resentful or abusive person, or are written with the thread of bitterness, how unworthy is such an effort. If a person desires to write a story in noble and gracious style, let the writer first have a gracious and noble heart, then his writing and instruction will be a reflection of his noble life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Shepherdess Speaks



Get out there and vote…women!

Elizabeth Davidson Carmichael

One more thing before Nov 6th. Casting your vote is like a voice heard above the political rhetoric. My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Davidson Carmichael, campaigned for women’s rights, the right to vote in public elections. Yes, it may be in the genes. Grandma was a young widow desperately trying to survive in a man’s world. The enfranchisement of women was crucial to her life. Her motto: "Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less!" This is another reason why I vote. Grandma first voted in 1920 in the presidential election. I know what it meant to her.


Elizabeth's Suffrage Speech 

 
    “I would like to ask the women of this county a few simple questions. Ladies, what is the defining feature of citizenship in our great country?” A male voice in the crowd rang out in protest.
    “Why don’t you address the men and ask us what we think about it, lady?”

    Elizabeth ignored the belligerent voice and persisted. “Yes, they say we are citizens, but we are denied the right to vote in political elections simply because of our gender, because we are women. They tell us we are equal citizens, but I say we are second-class citizens!” Cheering and clapping came from the proponent section of the audience.
    “We are denied our fundamental rights as equal citizens. By the very word itself, the constitution provides us with an equality based on citizenship, not on gender. Yet, we cannot vote. If we consider ourselves citizens, members of this great nation, we must have the same rights as other members, according to the fundamental principles of our Government.” The anti segment to Elizabeth’s right rang bells and pounded on pans, creating an intolerable din of noise in an effort to drown out her voice. Women in the audience began to chant, “Free us, free us, free us,” until the climate grew somewhat hostile. Again, Elizabeth raised her voice in an effort to be heard above the din.
    “For decades, women have pressed forward in their demands for equality in the political arena, in educational opportunities, and in ownership of lands and businesses. Women have withstood the worst of brutal men who beat and abused them, but they have no recourse in our judicial system. Men are granted child custody rights in every instance and they hold the deeds to properties and businesses. Mothers are robbed of their own children, often brutally attacked and molested without legal alternatives to dispute their claim. Women are denied the pursuit of independence simply because they are women. It is time for emancipation! Slaves are emancipated, but the women of America remain in bondage to a government that decides their destiny. Women in America have no vote, no choice, no rights, and no one to speak for them except their own.”
    Another round of cheering and hand clapping from the women, but this last statement incensed and angered the anti suffragists. They banged their pans, blew their horns, and stomped their feet in objection.
    Women of Fairfield County,” resumed Elizabeth, “your country needs you. Let us show ourselves worthy of citizenship, whether our claim to it be recognized or not. Let us press forward in our pursuit of our basic freedoms guaranteed by our own constitution.” Elizabeth’s voice was strong and her words articulate.
     “I know how the law deals with feminine issues,” affirmed Elizabeth. ”My own brother is a lawyer and his hands are tied where women are concerned. Some of you here today have been guilty of abusing your wives, drinking up your wages, neglecting your children, and you know the law will not touch you. I tell you today that if women are given the vote, some of you will find yourselves behind bars where you belong.”
    This last declaration brought forth a gasp from Belva Lockwood, but she held steady, an admiring light in her eyes. The suffrage proponents and the anti segment were having a heated exchange in the center of the assembly. Several rotten tomatoes were hurled toward the bandstand and toward those suffragists wearing a yellow ribbon pinned to their breasts. In spite of the barrage of tomatoes, Elizabeth pressed on.
    “You out there, you worthless lazy men, you who father children and leave them for others to raise, you who dare to attend this rally to oppose the vote for fear you’ll lose the liquor that keeps you in a perpetual state of inebriation. Some of you will not work and your women must beg to keep body and soul together because they are not allowed to work.” In the corner of her eye, Elizabeth caught William moving closer to the bandstand, shoving an Anti- Suffragist aside and signaling to Jonathan across the mass of people.
    “God fearing men provide for their women, love and respect their women, and do not fear the enfranchisement of the female. God has said in His word that women be keepers at home, if the men provide a home, that they care for and love their children, if their men supply the means to do so. But what if he is lazy and refuses to provide? What if he drinks and gambles the money away? What if he dies? What if we have no husband or no one to provide for us, what then?”
    The crowd grew thoughtful, considering the proposed questions. Elizabeth knew she must also address the other extreme in the crowd and proceeded with her speech.
    “You in high places, you who fill government offices but refuse to listen to women. You fail to uphold the Constitution and its declaration of equality. You who sit in judges’ seats, passing laws against helpless and unprotected women because the law says men are always right, you who sit in corporate and university chairs fearing that women may prove to be smarter than you are, women who may unseat you in your comfortable place of ease. You are just as guilty as the negligent, abusive husband.”
    A rotten tomato sailed through the air, hitting Elizabeth on the shoulder and running down her new blue frock. Others followed, and the atmosphere of the rally grew hostile and antagonistic. The two groups shouted and shoved, forming two distinct factions. With the tomato running down her dress, Elizabeth gave her final statement.
    “One thing this suffrage rally has proven to me today, this town and county have both extremes of the male gender here in force to oppose the rightful claim of women to vote in our public elections. I say, women of Fairfield County, take your rightful place in our American culture! Stand up for yourselves and for your children. Don’t give up until we stand before the election box casting our votes. Then vote these worthless drunks and white collar criminals out of business.” Wild cheering broke out from the women and Elizabeth saw Mrs. Randolph and Mrs. Sinclair with the remains of rotten tomatoes dripping down their dresses clapping wildly, expressing their approval.
    Another round of tomatoes and rotten eggs were hurled at the bandstand, hitting Elizabeth and the other Suffragists. The awful stench of the eggs was almost too much for Elizabeth to bear. Nausea swept over her, and indignation rose in her breast. She knelt down, scooped up the tomatoes lying on the floor of the platform, and threw them at the nearest opposition member, hitting him squarely on the forehead.
    Feeling an unusual sense of exhilaration, Elizabeth laughed as if she had evened the score. She watched with satisfaction while the disgusting red substance oozed down his face and onto his shirt. She reached for another tomato, but caught sight of Stephen Whitman watching her from the perimeter of the crowd, a look of revulsion on his face. Their eyes met for a brief moment, and her heart sank. What had she done? She dropped the tomatoes, noting that Lucinda was gone and Stephen was trying to make his way through the crowd that was now out of control. She saw the sheriff and his deputies trying to control the most disruptive members of the two factions.
    Every imaginable kind of missile now sailed through the air in an alarming manner. After seeing their keynote speaker, Elizabeth Davidson Cameron, hurl tomatoes at her opposition, the Suffragists quickly caught on, and both sides began pelting their opponents with all manner of rotten fruit. 
    Elizabeth felt Belva pulling her away from the rostrum just as something large and hard hit Elizabeth on the side of her head. She fell forward, her head spinning with pain. William was there, reaching out his strong arms and catching her as she fell. Then all went black.



From: The Wild Rose of Promise
 



Saturday, October 27, 2012

VOTE! Your American privilege and freedom...


The Right to Choose



Some Conservatives have decided not to vote in the upcoming election because they feel neither candidate stands for the Biblical principles their particular faith teaches. I can understand this to a point, but SOMEONE will end up in the White House and we, as Americans, have the right to choose, to vote for a candidate with integrity and moral character, despite his religious persuasion. No President can legislate religious faith, but he can lead by an example of integrity of honest and decent character, someone who honors life and the pursuit of happiness, who is respected by both believer and skeptic, someone who other national leaders can esteem.
          
When someone tells me they are not voting, fire rises in my bosom. I am descended from a long line of ancestors who bled the ground red for the liberty to choose a leader. I have visited their graves, read their stories and I honor their great courage and sacrifice. I am a Daughter of the American Revolution, and I will not forsake this right to cast my vote simply because neither candidate suits my ideals. Someone DIED for this right. If you don’t honor this freedom to cast your vote, then you do not understand true liberty and what it cost our ancestors. If you choose not to vote…it may cost you, not with your life, but with your liberty.

VOTE! Someone died to give you this freedom!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn at the farm...

BACK DOOR FRIENDS ENTER HERE

On the farm where I grew up and where Laura still lives with her husband, there is something of my childhood that still clings to the adult me. Each season, and especially in autumn, I spend time there, recalling long ago days when life was truly simple. I can still smell those familiar and pungent odors that never quite leave your remembering; drying leaves, smoky bonfires, the rain against the screen door, and crisp frosty mornings and county fair time complete with pumpkin displays. Here are a few for you to enjoy.

 Laura's chickens are free range now that the garden is harvested
Pumpkins for sale!
Harvest arrangement in the farm kitchen
Flowers in the old chair
The artistry of God
Looking north from the farm
King of the pumpkins
The farm is so picturesque in autumn, that many people stop by to take pictures. They especially like this antique farm wagon that Steve sells pumpkins and vegetables from. He also has a farm stand decorated for each season.
 The "new" old looking addition to the red brick house

 Hammock under the peach trees. A good place to rest

Have a wonderful and memorable season

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Closing Wildrose cottage for the Season



He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11


Closing 296 for the season

 Closing our cottage for the season is not easy to do. It is like shutting the door to our respite, our secret sanctuary, our special hide-away from the rest of the world. But…here we are, watching the spectacular color unfold, peak and shimmer in brilliance, hesitate for a moment, then fall away never to return in quite the same way. True, if the Lord tarries, there will be another autumn, but not quite like this one. It causes us to realize that we must make the most of each season of our life, of each day, even each moment.



 Wildrose Cottage in Autumn

All the gold is not in California
Still blooming in late October. Doreen's cottage is lovely with flowers


Looking through the trellis

 
 Nancy's Cottage...just down the hill

This garden angel was placed in 14th street garden by an anonymous person
Everyone who strolls by enjoys seeing her there

 

 


 My little corner of the world
 
 
 
The end of summer flora 

Until next spring... 


 I will be posting photos I took just before closing the cottage last week. Some are of the farm where I grew up and where Laura and her husband still live. Some are of our cottage community and others are just because I like them. Enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Shepherdess speaks

From time to time, I will be posting some excerpts from "Women of the Secret Place" and this is a favorite that has been published in other books as well. The theme is touching, a slice of life that plays the chords of our heart.

 


KINDRED SPIRITS

“Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears,
 for your work will be rewarded, declares the Lord”
Jeremiah 31:16

     The dog stood beside the road, her head moving like a pendulum, watching car after car whip by. At the first break in traffic, her head stopped moving and her gaze fixed on something lying in the road. Another passing car blocked her tentative step toward the object. Again she ventured onto the road, and, again, a car stopped her progress.
     I spied what held the mama dog’s attention—a lifeless puppy lying in the far lane of the road. “Oh, my goodness, that’s me,” I said aloud. I burst into tears as I recognized the parallel of my attempts to rescue my wounded, drug addicted son, Josh. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “I see you running back and forth, grappling to reach your son.”
     Watching the desperate dog, I wondered how many times I dodged logic and reason in my attempts to rescue my son. How many tears fell as I waited for him to beat the addiction holding our family hostage? How many times I did anything I could to avoid walking away in despair. My answer rang clear: as many as it takes.
     As a mother, I cling to every thread of hope that keeps my child alive for one more day. I start each day with a prayer: “Let today be the day he is set free.” The urge to give up on my son often outweighs the desire to stand and fight one more battle. The temptation to speak sharply, or not at all, looms large when confronted with another lie. The disgust I feel when another item goes missing jerks me back to the reality of his addiction. I cannot leave him in the road; he is alive and with life there is hope.
     Children stumble and fall whether they are toddlers, teenagers or adults. Mothers instinctively know how and when to kiss their children’s boo boos and send them back into the world. The scraped knees of childhood sometimes evolve into broken hearts and shattered dreams of adulthood that are much harder to kiss away.
     Jeremiah 31:15-17 sustains me when the stumbles outnumber the successful sendoffs. This is what the Lord says: A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more. This is what the Lord says; Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded, declares the Lord. They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future, declares the Lord. Your children will return to their own land.
     The dog left her puppy alone in the road. I will not leave my son. I continue to care and seek God on his behalf. After all, that’s what mothers do.

~Sharron Cosby