Vintage Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner. Some areas of the United States are even covered in white as I write this. For many of us it’s a harried time of trying to work a full-time job, Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating, baking, and what seems like an endless round of parties, functions, and to-do lists.

And that’s not how I want to remember Christmas.

I stumbled upon this on Facebook today. It’s a long read, but a very well-written story, and one that will soothe your soul. Even though it was an account of years ago, I believe there is still this kind of love and humanity in the world today. It just may be a bit harder to find.

It was Christmas Eve 1942. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.

We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Daddy wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Daddy to get down the old Bible.

I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Daddy didn’t get the Bible instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon he came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now he was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew he was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my coat. Mommy gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what..

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Daddy was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Daddy pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed.

“I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

Then Daddy went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. I asked, “what are you doing?” You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. Mrs.Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” he said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, he called a halt to our loading then we went to the smoke house and he took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

“What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Mrs.Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Daddy was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was he buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”

Mrs.Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Mrs.Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Daddy said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then he handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at my Daddy like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” he said. Then turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Daddy handed them each a piece of candy and Mrs.Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of my Daddy in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Daddy had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Mommy and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Daddy insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. My Daddy took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Daddy and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door he turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Mrs.Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Daddy turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your Mother and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough.

Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your Mom and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Daddy had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. He had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Mrs. Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside of my Daddy that night. He had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life..

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Here is the link to the Facebook page. I do not know anything about the origin of the story, but I think the person that shared it has a heart for humanity as well. https://www.facebook.com/alan.riser.9

Bring It On!

A day spent with family is always fantastic! Our oldest had planned a day with their family at the  Walter’s Pumpkin Patch. It was scheduled for several weeks, and we were all looking forward to. Well, Monday turned out to be one frigid day here in Kansas! We drove to Burns, Kansas with a mix of rain and snow on the windshield. It didn’t get any better. But our grandchildren are a hardy mix, and they still tried out all the slides, bikes, tree houses and games the Pumpkin Patch had to offer. We had a good time, but will be looking forward to warmer temperatures next year. If you are interested in visiting, here is a link:

https://www.thewaltersfarm.com/index.htm

After a hot summer, you tend to forget what it means to dress warmly. Even though we had on layers, my husband and I were pretty cold. Here’s a picture of us having lots of fun!

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We even turned on our heat in the house! I baked a pumpkin dessert last night, and we had hot tea with it. Bring on winter! I hope you’re ready in your neck of the woods!

When Simple Was Special

If you are a city person, loving the lights and glamour, then this post is probably not for you! This post is about simplicity, and the pleasure found in having little, access to nothing.

Years ago, young couples wanting to marry and begin life together, didn’t start off with car loans, home mortgages or exorbitant rent. They didn’t plan for a vacation every year to an exotic place, running up credit cards to do it. What was a credit card?

At one time, life was based on survival. You hoped, prayed, and worked for a shelter to cover you, something to keep you safe and warm from the environment. Often times the home was built by a young man or couple. You grew your own food, made your own clothes, and were thankful to have loved ones around you. Maybe you had a small church to attend where you could fellowship with others. 

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Yes, life was probably difficult, a daily struggle, and your years on earth were not as long as they are now. But there is much to be said for simplicity, taking pleasures in the little things in life.

The world today, and those of us living in it, face a much different reality. Yes, we have beautiful homes, each child having their own space. A chef’s kitchen awaits us, while we spend a big percentage of our paychecks eating out. We have manicured yards that we may sit in once in a while, but much more time is spent keeping them that way. The lawn mower is more familiar with the grass under our feet than we are. If we have gardens, the goal is to grow big and beautiful, chemicals helping us along the way. The food harvested there is not for our survival, but a fun hobby.

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It is no wonder that the tiny house movement has become so popular. We are burned-out on surviving in this world today, trying to keep the pace at a fast and furious rate that our ancestors would not have tried, or even wanted.

I know I want off the merry-go-round. My head is spinning with all of the have-to items that we self-impose into our lives. I don’t want to have to be fashionably dressed, just decently clothed. I want to enjoy my yard in the peace and quiet of nature, and not worry about the town’s standards of what I should and shouldn’t do. I don’t want a career, but enough to meet our needs.

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I really wouldn’t mind living in a home such as these pictured, the only criteria being a porch for my rocking chair. For those of you that shake your head, saying I don’t know what I’m talking about…I do have a clue. I learned to cook on a wood cook-stove, baking seven loaves of whole-wheat bread every Saturday for several years. I’ve split firewood, unloaded cords of wood to heat a house for the winter. I am extremely grateful for my inside bathroom, and running water, but I could even get use to no electricity if needed.

It’s whatever we’ve become used to. What we’ve accepted as normal.

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I think I’m feeling nostalgic today. Autumn is playing for real now here in the mid-west. The trees are becoming bare, leaves scudding across the ground. My thoughts turn to outside chores needing to be done, and the holidays ahead. And like every year, I don’t want to be caught up in all the items that are expected of us. I just want to enjoy those people around me that care enough to be part of my life.

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In our world today, we have missed the bigger picture. We’re frantically trying to survive, by having the best education, successful career, showplace for a house, every opportunity for our children…and we have lost love for what life should really be about. That list above won’t last into eternity, and after we’re gone, we won’t care.

The holidays are coming and I challenge you as I will be doing myself to seek Him first in all things. Be thankful for what you do have in the forms of jobs, housing, family and friends. But strive to connect with what matters, and get rid of what doesn’t. All of us have much that we could put on a back burner…and especially during the next couple of months when we celebrate the holidays. Make time for family and friends. Put down the phone when in a public place and connect with those around you. And most certainly put the phone away and relate to the loved ones you’re with. They may not be there tomorrow.

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Strive to live a simple life among the luxuries of today. Think about those people and things that are really important to you, and make time for them. Don’t waste time on the other.

 

 

To Thee I’m Wed

Today, October 20, 2019, my husband and I have been married for thirty-five years. I never really thought we would get here. Just too busy living life and surviving on a daily basis…and now all those years are gone!

This is a transition time in our lives. So many unanswered questions about what we are to be doing now. So many tests in the areas of health and finances. So many thoughts on what we did wrong and what we could have done better.

Even though we are overwhelmed right now, we’re still on the right path…just walking very stooped and slow. The light is dim at times, but it hasn’t gone out. I hope and pray for better days, more memories to look back on and smile about.

To Thee I’m Wed is the title to the first book I published. The character of Jason Miller is my husband, and I hope that I portrayed my husband’s patience, his enduring love for his family, and his dedication to his marriage in that book. Men such as Jason and George are hard to find. And without George, our marriage would not be what it is today.

Happy Anniversary, George! I pray that we have many more years together. I share these three pictures because they make me smile, and I think of all the reasons that I fell in love with you back in 1984.

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Truth Be Told

When I first began this blog in 2015, my goal was to write about me and my family, and light issues that would help my readers connect with me as a person. I didn’t want to bombard  with just writing topics. For one thing, I don’t have a master’s degree in writing anything. I rely heavily on my editor to fix all that I do wrong. I don’t know much about branding or marketing. I go to others and read lots of other posts about it to broaden my knowledge base. And considering sales of my books…I have lots more to learn in those areas! 😉

So now, four years later…I’m still a little mired down in this blogging world. I read other sites that are really successful. I try to figure out what they are doing right, and what I’m doing wrong. I wonder if my scope of topics is too large, or the site just not interesting. I’ve even considered starting over, but what would my focus be?

Truth be told, my knowledge base is marriage and family. It’s what I’ve done for all of my adult life. Sunday, the 20th will be my husband and my 35th wedding anniversary. It’s one I’ve looked forward to. Others celebrate by going on a cruise, having another ceremony to rededicate their married lives, or going out for a nice dinner. I thought that by this time in our marriage, we would be doing the same. We won’t be. I think spam is on the menu this year.

My husband and five children have always been the world to me. It’s what I invested all my time in. Some may say that was crazy, and that I didn’t plan for the future. I always thought it was the best way to plan for our future together. But children grow up and have families of their own, they move away, and they make their own choices in life. I am no longer in control of all of that…and maybe I never really was.

So, here I sit at almost 55 years of age. This past year as been beyond difficult in so many ways. There are days when I feel as though the rug has been yanked out from under us, and we haven’t hit the floor yet. But when we do, it’s going to be bad. My faith has taken a serious hit, and there are more days than not that I would like to run away and be a different person.

This Life is Real…and so are the Answers. I truly believe that. None of us live in a fairy tale world with light and laughter, flowers and fun, around every corner. Many of us deal with darkness and tears, an inability to breathe because of all that has been dumped on us. The flowers in our lives are dead and crumbled, blowing away in the wind, and a smile is hard to summon.

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I don’t have a master’s degree in anything. Just a lot of learning through difficult experiences. I try to share that in my books. In my books, there is an answer for that struggling character. Writing helps me work through all that has been allowed in my life. This blog has been a release for me to express all that bottles up…whether it be good or bad. I pray that my books reach people and the struggles they have in their lives. I pray they find an answer.

So for now, I’ll stick with what I’ve been doing here, and I welcome any suggestions to improve.

Philippians 4:6-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all [a]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It Will Be Okay!

Some days the words to this song ring very true. As a human, I’m on a constant treadmill of making ends meet, and the day-to-day struggle of life in this world. It can be very exhausting at times!

This song is a gentle reminder to those of us that believe our home is in heaven, our hope is in heaven. A reminder that this daily life is but for a time.

Yesterday, I saw something that made me think. I will probably repeat it wrong, but you’ll get the general idea. It’s so true!

Spoiler Alert! I’ve heard the end of the story, and it will be okay!

Here’s some Jim Reeves for you on your Sunday. Have a good one!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ndMZqT6i4I

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My Cup Runs Over…

Hi, my name is Deborah, and I write books.

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I feel the need to introduce myself on here. I knew it had been awhile since I had posted anything, but when I checked just now, March 3rd was my last post. Way too long!

I started working as the Activity Director of our local nursing home on January 15th of this year. This past week, I finished the course to be certified as a director. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. Most days I’ve come home from work, and felt as though I didn’t have the energy to shower and get ready for bed.

Our yard is a catastrophe, my kitchen project is hanging in mid-air, and the third book in a series I began last year is calling me desperately. Usually around 2:00 am when I should be sleeping. I’ve taken to playing games on my Kindle rather than reading, trying to block out the constant barrage of that ‘to do’ list. People I’ve known for years probably think I’ve died. But I’m still here…

I love my job. The older generation has always been a joy to me. They have so much to share, so much to give, so much to express…in so many ways. I think our facility is especially wonderful, staffed with caring people that have been there for many years. It takes a very special person to work in a job setting such as a nursing home. Let’s face it…it’s not really just a ‘job’. And if you think that…you probably shouldn’t be there.

Today, I hope to read the first pages of the book I was working on. That other life is calling me, and if you write, you understand. If I’m really motivated, these fingers just may type a few words, a chapter or two over this weekend.

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My life is busy and crazy. But it is also overflowing, and a daily blessing to me. I’m so very thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given, and all the talents bestowed. I pray I use them for His honor and glory in everything I do.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Welcome to Life!

I feel as though I should begin this post with a “Hello”, and the lyrics from Adele’s song. As you already know, I haven’t been around much lately. Life is happening at a pace that I’m having a hard time adjusting to. But I will…eventually.

We now have seven grandchildren, as of 6:36 pm on the 22nd. Her name is Josie. I had the privilege of being there for her birth, just as I have for all but one of our grandchildren. Eden decided to be born quickly in the middle of the night, so I stayed with the older two children while her parents made a trip to the birth center. When I say privilege…it is! At one time, I seriously considered being a midwife, or at least working in labor and delivery at a hospital. I love being with women in labor. The process of labor and birth is absolutely amazing to me…and it never dulls. So, it is a privilege to be a part of that very intimate time in a couple’s life, no matter how many times that process occurs. Mother and little Josie are doing well, and big sister Ashlynn is taking well to her new responsibilities.

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I am now also working full-time as the Activity Director at our local rest home. I do love this job…even if it seems strange to call it that. But it is hectic, and it takes the stuffing out of me by the end of the day. I love being more active and walking for much of my day. The sitting at my desk all day was wreaking havoc on my back and hips, but I’m adjusting to the activity. Sitting is about all I can handle by the time I arrive home. I am hoping that with warmer, spring air and sunshine, my energy level is back. After all, I’ll have a yard to tackle!

Renovation projects…of course have come to a stand still. I’m happy I accomplished as much as I did before Christmas. I really do want our son to have a life of his own, but I hope he has a couple months after he finishes with school in South Dakota to help me get caught up. Then I think we should sell the house and move to an apartment! 😉 We shall see. The little house by some water is still extremely appealing. And of course my lap-top will travel where no desk-top can. A row-boat in a middle of a pond with frogs croaking and birds chirping is beckoning me.

So, I’m still here, and I check in every now and then. Thank you to all of you that keep stopping by and commenting. It is a real encouragement! Have a great week…spring flowers and painted toe-nails are just around the corner!

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Those Precious Memories

When in doubt, I go to Jim Reeves and his melodious voice.

Our memories mean more and more to us as we grow older. I see this every day. It amazes me what the mind can recall. I pray your memories are indeed precious and beautiful this Sunday morning. Have a wonderful week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMGtWkJgdIM

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