Veteran’s Day 2015

* image found online through google search

Veteran’s Day in America, Armistice or Remembrance Day for many others, is a day to remember those who served to protect the freedom of their friends, families, and those they have never and will never meet. Today is a day to show your gratitude and appreciation of the sacrifices made by every person who defends their country, and protects those within her arms. I hope those who read this have or will thank a veteran in person or through prayer. Remember that they put their lives on the line to protect our great Republic.

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I am reminded of the passage in Alma Chapter 46 when those who follow the Lord are in danger. Captain Moroni stands to lead the righteous and Title of Liberty is flow high, proud, and for all to see.

And it came to pass that as many as would not hearken to the words of Helaman and his brethren were gathered together against their brethren.

 And now behold, they were exceedingly wroth, insomuch that they were determined to slay them.

 Now the leader of those who were wroth against their brethren was a large and a strong man; and his name wasAmalickiah.

 And Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power.

 And they had been led by the flatteries of Amalickiah, that if they would support him and establish him to be their king that he would make them rulers over the people.

 Thus they were led away by Amalickiah to dissensions, notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church, for they were high priests over the church.

 And there were many in the church who believed in theflattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissentedeven from the church; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous, notwithstanding their great victory which they had had over the Lamanites, and their great rejoicings which they had had because of their deliverance by the hand of the Lord.

 Thus we see how quick the children of men do forgetthe Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.

 Yea, and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children of men.

 10 Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake.

 11 And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah.

 12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.

 13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and hebowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christiansremain to possess the land—

 14 For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church.

 15 And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took uponthem, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come.

 16 And therefore, at this time, Moroni prayed that the cause of the Christians, and the freedom of the land might be favored.

 17 And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on thenorth and on the south—A chosen land, and the land ofliberty.

 18 And he said: Surely God shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions.

 19 And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying:

 20 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, andenter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.

 21 And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running togetherwith their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.

 22 Now this was the covenant which they made, and theycast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: Wecovenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression.

 23 Moroni said unto them: Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea, we are a remnant of the seed ofJoseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces; yea, and now behold, let us remember to keep the commandments of God, or our garments shall be rent by our brethren, and we be cast into prison, or be sold, or be slain.

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September 11, 2015

14 years ago today the United States of America was devastated. Planes had been commandeered and New York City had seen two of the greatest trade centers demolished. Emotions were ripped apart as thousands of innocent people  felt the impact of what happened. After the destruction on September 11, 2001, the American people rallied together to rebuild and to defend their country. It didn’t matter what a person looked like, how he sounded, what sum of money was in his bank account- what mattered was whether or not he was willing to work and put in his share to help rebuild a nation that was traumatized.

I had a realization today. I realized that even though I have not walked long on this earth, there are those who have walked a shorter time. And they don’t remember what happened- they can’t remember what happened. What they know about the country during that time is what we show them. As the same can be said to me about other times of abundance and times of trial. The level of reverence that those who come after us have for history is the responsibility of those who lived through it to pass on the truth. How can a child know of the lives that were given in the name of their freedom if there is no voice to teach of that gift? How can a teenager be expected to respect his nation’s flag if there is not an instilled sense of respect for what that flag represents? How can God be relied upon for strength if one knows not that He exists?

Many say remember September 11, 2001- remember the lives that were lost. I say remember September 11, 2001- remember the lives that were gained- the fires that burned for freedom in the hearts of men. Remember September 11, 2001 for those who stood to defend the God-given-unalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Remember the spirit of kindness and generosity and compassion that was exhibited. But don’t just remember the memory; live the memory. There is no memorial to the amount of money that was lost in the rubble. The memorial is to the lives of those who were in the wreckage.

When lives were about to end, lawyers and accountants weren’t the ones receiving final financial instructions. When lives were about to end, friends, and family were receiving calls and texts filled with “i love yous” and apologies. People were making right past mistakes and saying good bye to those they cared about. That is how our lives should be lived. Fighting and anger causes nothing but pain.  Every moment should be about making sure those around us know how much we care. The message we should remember from September 11, 2001 is that now is all we have and that our freedom and our loved ones are worth protecting.

My prayer is that whoever reads this may remember that all we really have in this life is the moment we live in and that all we take with us is who we knew and what we learned. So remember September 11. Remember what happened that day. But also remember that how we react to life is also a choice. We can either cower and fall or rally and stand strong. Strength comes from Him and He tells us to love one another.

May you find strength, hope, and peace today. Tell your loved ones you love them and live your moments to their fullest.

And may God bless the USA.

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A Light Dust of Snow| Poetry

cherry blossom

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A light dust of snow, far from last late frost.

Soft bright rays beam down, fairylight not lost.

Shine upon my maid, Youth is yet her friend.

Sleeps she ‘neath branches, sweet dreams yet to send.

To laugh and still dream, through hardship and strife,

’tis but her choice course, through trials of life.

Just as the blossom comes after the rain,

so does the smile just after the pain.

Such is the pathway through darkness to bright,

bring oh thou sunshine, bring joy and bring light!

Bring spirit and spark, bring lilac’s clean scent.

Revitalize Hope, her dear chorus rent;

Troll bells of mercy, forgiveness its due.

Do always remember, to ever press through.

 Fear not, my maiden, there is yet a plan.

For now just delight, and day dream ’til then.

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A Week in Pictures| 2nd week|March

We live in a time of insurmountable blessings.

I have been reminded that God is ever good and is always watching.

Here are some of the fun and light things that happened last week!

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Met up with my dear friend Anne to help decompress from the stress of dead week and finals. To paraphrase the great Mrs Lynde, “The sun will go on rising and setting whether I pass in digital electronics or not”

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My little sister met a frog named Fred and he spent the night in the kitchen

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Fred had to go home the next morning

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Found an 18-wheeler in front of where I parked the other morning while going picking my brother up from Bible Study.

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FINALLY got the truck cleaned out and detailed! So good to have it back up and running!

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Continuing the adventures with Anne:) She never ceases to bring comfort to a troubled mind and a heart in need of a kindred spirit.

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And lastly, a return to a large project started months ago

What did you do this week?

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 “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”

~Alma 37:37

Literary Heroine Blog Party

For a couple years now, I’ve been wanting to participate in the
Literary Heroine Blog Party.
I finally found the courage to join in:)
Click the picture to visit Kellie’s blog!
AnneLHBP2013
~ The Questions ~
1.   Introduce yourself! Divulge your life’s vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

Hi! I’m Kelsey:) I love life! God has given us a beautiful world to experience our ups, downs, and in-betweens. I am a stay at home daughter currently pursuing a higher education degree in Electrical Engineering. I greatly enjoy reading, writing, and being creative. Sewing, crocheting, knitting, and experimenting in the kitchen make me happy when I’m not enjoying the wonders of science and of our amazing Earth.

2.   What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?

A true hero (a woman is a hero as the word hero is actually gender neutral) is someone who is willing to stand for truth and light. She has the courage and the moral fiber to fight for what is right regardless of the trials ahead of her. She defends the weak and succors those in need. She knows her place but isn’t afraid to challenge authority if she knows that she has something unique to contribute to the cause of the righteous.

3. Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

Eowyn of Rohan (The Lord of the Rings)

Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series)

Kendra Sorenson (Fablehaven series)

4.  Five of your favorite historical novels?

The Chromicles of Narnia (I know that is more than one but they are each equally wonderful), Great Expectations, Anne of Green Gables, Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, The Once and Future King

5.  Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why?

My favorite major character, out of the five listed above, is Anne Shirley. I love her spirit, tenacity, and abounding imagination.

6.   Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Now, I understand this question is asking for favorite secondary character, but I would much rather share my second favorite major character.  Lucy Pevensie isn’t afraid of being honest and no matter what she faces, she doesn’t ever lose her faith. Even when her brother and sister and cousin doubt her, she is strong and brave and true.

7.   If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to – and what would you plan to do there?

There are several places that I would love to visit. There are two major ones that I wold consider my dream. The first dream vacation I would take would be to tour the villages and old kingdoms of Arthurian legend. The second wuld be a full tour of each of the American Civil War battle fields.

8.   What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?

I greatly enjoy reading about medieval, 18th, 19th, and early to mid 20th cultures.

9.   You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing… what is your act comprised of?

Yes, I have been asked to perform harp for the last three Decembers at a Christmas festival in our area.

10.   If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?

I would love to be Anne Shirley or Eowyn of Rohan or Kendra Soreson.

11.  Favorite author(s)?

Jane Austin

Charles Dickens

CS Lewis

JRR Tolkein

David Eddings

12.   In which century were most of the books you read written?

They are written in many different centuries and worlds:)

13.   In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is…

King Arthur of Camelot or Samwise Gamgee (one for the real world and one for fantasy)

14.   In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is…

Sauron

15.   Describe your ideal dwelling place.

I enjoy where I live. I think it would be nice to have a lovely, cozy, fireplace again though

16.   Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.

My style is comprised of whatever suits my mood ranging from fantasy princess to chic & classic to tomboyish.

17.   Three favorite Non-fiction books?

The Bible

The Book of Mormon

Modern Essentials (essential oils guide book)

oh and the Little House series (more than three but I needed to throw in a fun one! at least I didn’t say a textbook lol)

18.   Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon?

Outside with my siblings playing with the horses or sheep. I love trail rides:)

19.   Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat – in such a way as will best portray your true character.

dream hat? I wear different hats for different occasions…I like my black stetson for dressing up, but I like my straw hat for sunny days, I appreciate my riding helmet, but I also like my ball cap for working in, and I LOVE little handmade, lightweight, knit hats for keeping my head covered and warm while still looking classy. I collect hats so it’s hard to pick just one 😉

20.   Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.

The adventures with sheep, pheasants, kittens, horses, 4-H, school, and adjusting to a new lifestyle

21.   Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

~Luke 15:7 KJV

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Care for Yourself First

In our world, there are many evils. There are many in need, and there are many who believe following Christ means always putting those in need before themselves. These people end up giving so much of themselves that they forget to take care of the most important thing that allows them to do their service: their own body.

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My next challenge for those who read this blog is to work on your personal life. Work on improving your health, building your strength, reading the Word, and spending personal time with the Lord. Once you are on track with your own self, everything else will start to fall into place.

I will help you along the way by starting a new series of ideas that I have personally found effective in improving my physical as well as my spiritual health. A great place to start is to follow my
Natural Pampering Board on Pinterest. I found some great recipes and ideas to help you feel better without using anti-depressants. You’d be surprised what citrus, strawberries, and sunshine does for your mood!
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Many people have heard the cliche, “If you don’t have your health, you have nothing”. And if you haven’t, heard this, you can most likely understand the intent. When one is in poor health, there is little they can do that does not take its toll on their stamina, and eventually their spirit. Think about when you have the flu. Are you physically able to bring help to those in need? Maybe you can write a sweet letter, or call someone in need of support. But if you have a high fever, or a cough, or sneezing fits, it is unlikely that you are wanting to get a family sick by bringing them a meal or working in their yard.
The Lord asks us to be servant minded. He wants us to be ever sharing our blessings and talents with others. But we can not give all of what the Lord asks of us if we are not caring for ourselves.
I have learned this the hard way. When I was in high school, I was so focused on what others were doing or what they needed that I forgot to take care of myself. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I wasn’t necessarily eating badly but it wasn’t great, and I was trying to balance too much. I was over burdened and under prepared. Now, I was able to touch many lives, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But the one regret I have is that I wasn’t good about maintaining my own health and I reaped what I had sewn. I had headaches and I tended towards being more susceptible to illness.
Currently, my desire to change my bad habits has truly started to make a difference. I have a while to go before I’m back to where I am as strong as I was, but they are improving. I have found that when I am feeling better, not only am I better prepared to live my life for the Lord, but I am better able to follow the Spirit and truly notice and enjoy the blessings the Lord gives me.
I hope that through this, I can help at least one person start to feel better and feel closer to the Lord.
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“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow in their bones;”
Doctrine and Covenants 89:18

Where Love Is, God Is

by Leo Tolstoy
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IN A CERTAIN TOWN there lived a cobbler, Martin Avdéiteh by name. He had a tiny room in a basement, the one window of which looked out on to the street. Through it one could only see the feet of those who passed by, but Martin recognized the people by their boots. He had lived long in the place and had many acquaintances. There was hardly a pair of boots in the neighbourhood that had not been once or twice through his hands, so he often saw his own handiwork through the window. Some he had re-soled, some patched, some stitched up, and to some he had even put fresh uppers. He had plenty to do, for he worked well, used good material, did not charge too much, and could be relied on. If he could do a job by the day required, he undertook it; if not, he told the truth and gave no false promises; so he was well known and never short of work.
Martin had always been a good man; but in his old age he began to think more about his soul and to draw nearer to God. While he still worked for a master, before he set up on his own account, his wife had died, leaving him with a three-year old son. None of his elder children had lived, they had all died in infancy. At first Martin thought of sending his little son to his sister’s in the country, but then he felt sorry to part with the boy, thinking: ‘It would be hard for my little Kapitón to have to grow up in a strange family; I will keep him with me.’
Martin left his master and went into lodgings with his little son. But he had no luck with his children. No sooner had the boy reached an age when he could help his father and be a support as well as a joy to him, than he fell ill and, after being laid up for a week with a burning fever, died. Martin buried his son, and gave way to despair so great and overwhelming that he murmured against God. In his sorrow he prayed again and again that he too might die, reproaching God for having taken the son he loved, his only son while he, old as he was, remained alive. After that Martin left off going to church.
One day an old man from Martin’s native village who had been a pilgrim for the last eight years, called in on his way from Tróitsa Monastery. Martin opened his heart to him, and told him of his sorrow.
‘I no longer even wish to live, holy man,’ he said. ‘All I ask of God is that I soon may die. I am now quite without hope in the world.’
The old man replied: ‘You have no right to say such things, Martin. We cannot judge God’s ways. Not our reasoning, but God’s will, decides. If God willed that your son should die and you should live, it must be best so. As to your despair — that comes because you wish to live for your own happiness.’
‘What else should one live for?’ asked Martin.
‘For God, Martin,’ said the old man. ‘He gives you life, and you must live for Him. When you have learnt to live for Him, you will grieve no more, and all will seem easy to you.’
Martin was silent awhile, and then asked: ‘But how is one to live for God?’
The old man answered: ‘How one may live for God has been shown us by Christ. Can you read? Then buy the Gospels, and read them: there you will see how God would have you live. You have it all there.’
These words sank deep into Martin’s heart, and that same day he went and bought himself a Testament in large print, and began to read.
At first he meant only to read on holidays, but having once begun he found it made his heart so light that he read every day. Sometimes he was so absorbed in his reading that the oil in his lamp burnt out before he could tear himself away from the book. He continued to read every night, and the more he read the more clearly he understood what God required of him, and how he might live for God. And his heart grew lighter and lighter. Before, when he went to bed he used to lie with a heavy heart, moaning as he thought of his little Kapitón; but now he only repeated again and again: ‘Glory to Thee, glory to Thee, O Lord! Thy will be done!’
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From that time Martin’s whole life changed. Formerly, on holidays he used to go and have tea at the public house, and did not even refuse a glass or two of vódka. Sometimes, after having had a drop with a friend, he left the public house not drunk, but rather merry, and would say foolish things: shout at a man, or abuse him. Now, all that sort of thing passed away from him. His life became peaceful and joyful. He sat down to his work in the morning, and when he had finished his day’s work he took the lamp down from the wall, stood it on the table, fetched his book from the shelf, opened it, and sat down to read. The more he read the better he understood, and the clearer and happier he felt in his mind.
It happened once that Martin sat up late, absorbed in his book. He was reading Luke’s Gospel; and in the sixth chapter he came upon the verses:
‘To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloke withhold not thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.’
He also read the verses where our Lord says:
‘And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth, against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.’
When Martin read these words his soul was glad within him. He took off his spectacles and laid them on the book, and leaning his elbows on the table pondered over what he had read. He tried his own life by the standard of those words, asking himself:
‘Is my house built on the rock, or on sand? If it stands on the rock, it is well. It seems easy enough while one sits here alone, and one thinks one has done all that God commands; but as soon as I cease to be on my guard, I sin again. Still I will persevere. It brings such joy. Help me, O Lord!’
He thought all this, and was about to go to bed, but was loth to leave his book. So he went on reading the seventh chapter — about the centurion, the widow’s son, and the answer to John’s disciples — and he came to the part where a rich Pharisee invited the Lord to his house; and he read how the woman who was a sinner, anointed his feet and washed them with her tears, and how he justified her. Coming to the forty-fourth verse, he read:
‘And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath wetted my feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. Thou gavest me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but she hath anointed my feet with ointment.’
He read these verses and thought: ‘He gave no water for his feet, gave no kiss, his head with oil he did not anoint. . . .’ And Martin took off his spectacles once more, laid them on his book, and pondered.
‘He must have been like me, that Pharisee. He too thought only of himself — how to get a cup of tea, how to keep warm and comfortable; never a thought of his guest. He took care of himself, but for his guest he cared nothing at all. Yet who was the guest? The Lord himself! If he came to me, should I behave like that?’
Then Martin laid his head upon both his arms and, before he was aware of it, he fell asleep.
‘Martin!’ he suddenly heard a voice, as if some one had breathed the word above his ear.
He started from his sleep. ‘Who’s there?’ he asked.
He turned round and looked at the door; no one was there. He called again. Then he heard quite distinctly: ‘Martin, Martin! Look out into the street to-morrow, for I shall come.’
Martin roused himself, rose from his chair and rubbed his eyes, but did not know whether he had heard these words in a dream or awake. He put out the lamp and lay down to sleep.
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Next morning he rose before daylight, and after saying his prayers he lit the fire and prepared his cabbage soup and buckwheat porridge. Then he lit the samovár, put on his apron, and sat down by the window to his work. As he sat working Martin thought over what had happened the night before. At times it seemed to him like a dream, and at times he thought that he had really heard the voice. ‘Such things have happened before now,’ thought he.
So he sat by the window, looking out into the street more than he worked, and whenever any one passed in unfamiliar boots he would stoop and look up, so as to see not the feet only but the face of the passer-by as well. A house-porter passed in new felt boots; then a water-carrier. Presently an old soldier of Nicholas’ reign came near the window spade in hand. Martin knew him by his boots, which were shabby old felt ones, goloshed with leather. The old man was called Stepániteh: a neighbouring tradesman kept him in his house for charity, and his duty was to help the house-porter. He began to clear away the snow before Martin’s window. Martin glanced at him and then went on with his work.
‘I must be growing crazy with age,’ said Martin, laughing at his fancy. ‘Stepánitch comes to clear away the snow, and I must needs imagine it’s Christ coming to visit me. Old dotard that I am!’
Yet after he had made a dozen stitches he felt drawn to look out of the window again. He saw that Stepánitch had leaned his spade against the wall, and was either resting himself or trying to get warm. The man was old and broken down, and had evidently not enough strength even to clear away the snow.
‘What if I called him in and gave him some tea?’ thought Martin. ‘The samovár is just on the boil.’
He stuck his awl in its place, and rose; and putting the samovár on the table, made tea. Then he tapped the window with his fingers. Stepánitch turned and came to the window. Martin beckoned to him to come in, and went himself to open the door.
‘Come in,’ he said, ‘and warm yourself a bit. I’m sure you must be cold.’
‘May God bless you!’ Stepánitch answered. ‘My bones do ache to be sure.’ He came in, first shaking off the snow, and lest he should leave marks on the floor he began wiping his feet; but as he did so he tottered and nearly fell.
‘Don’t trouble to wipe your feet,’ said Martin ‘I’ll wipe up the floor — it’s all in the day’s work. Come, friend, sit down and have some tea.’
Filling two tumblers, he passed one to his visitor, and pouring his own out into the saucer, began to blow on it.
Stepániteh emptied his glass, and, turning it upside down, put the remains of his piece of sugar on the top. He began to express his thanks, but it was plain that he would be glad of some more.
‘Have another glass,’ said Martin, refilling the visitor’s tumbler and his own. But while he drank his tea Martin kept looking out into the street.
‘Are you expecting any one?’ asked the visitor.
‘Am I expecting any one? Well, now, I’m ashamed to tell you. It isn’t that I really expect any one; but I heard something last night which I can’t get out of my mind Whether it was a vision, or only a fancy, I can’t tell. You see, friend, last night I was reading the Gospel, about Christ the Lord, how he suffered, and how he walked on earth. You have heard tell of it, I dare say.’
‘I have heard tell of it,’ answered Stepánitch; ‘but I’m an ignorant man and not able to read.’
‘Well, you see, I was reading of how he walked on earth. I came to that part, you know, where he went to a Pharisee who did not receive him well. Well, friend, as I read about it, I thought now that man did not receive Christ the Lord with proper honour. Suppose such a thing could happen to such a man as myself, I thought, what would I not do to receive him! But that man gave him no reception at all. Well, friend, as I was thinking of this, I began to doze, and as I dozed I heard some one call me by name. I got up, and thought I heard some one whispering, “Expect me; I will come to-morrow.” This happened twice over. And to tell you the truth, it sank so into my mind that, though I am ashamed of it myself, I keep on expecting him, the dear Lord!’
Stepánitch shook his head in silence, finished his tumbler and laid it on its side; but Martin stood it up again and refilled it for him.
‘Here drink another glass, bless you! And I was thinking too, how he walked on earth and despised no one, but went mostly among common folk. He went with plain people, and chose his disciples from among the likes of us, from workmen like us, sinners that we are. “He who raises himself,” he said, “shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be raised.” “You call me Lord,” he said, “and I will wash your feet.” “He who would be first,” he said, “let him be the servant of all; because,” he said, “blessed are the poor, the humble, the meek, and the merciful.”‘
Stepánitch forgot his tea. He was an old man easily moved to tears, and as he sat and listened the tears ran down his cheeks.
‘Come, drink some more,’ said Martin. But Stepánitch crossed himself, thanked him, moved away his tumbler, and rose.
‘Thank you, Martin Avdéitch,’ he said, ‘you have given me food and comfort both for soul and body.’
‘You’re very welcome. Come again another time. I am glad to have a guest,’ said Martin.
Stepánitch went away; and Martin poured out the last of the tea and drank it up. Then he put away the tea things and sat down to his work, stitching the back seam of a boot. And as he stitched he kept looking out of the window, waiting for Christ, and thinking about him and his doings. And his head was full of Christ’s sayings.
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Two soldiers went by: one in Government boots the other in boots of his own; then the master of a neighbouring house, in shining goloshes; then a baker carrying a basket. All these passed on. Then a woman came up in worsted stockings and peasant-made shoes. She passed the window, but stopped by the wall. Martin glanced up at her through the window, and saw that she was a stranger, poorly dressed, and with a baby in her arms. She stopped by the wall with her back to the wind, trying to wrap the baby up though she had hardly anything to wrap it in. The woman had only summer clothes on, and even they were shabby and worn. Through the window Martin heard the baby crying, and the woman trying to soothe it, but unable to do so. Martin rose and going out of the door and up the steps he called to her.
‘My dear, I say, my dear!’ The woman heard, and turned round.
‘Why do you stand out there with the baby in the cold? Come inside. You can wrap him up better in a warm place. Come this way!’
The woman was surprised to see an old man in an apron, with spectacles on his nose, calling to her, but she followed him in.
They went down the steps, entered the little room, and the old man led her to the bed.
‘There, sit down, my dear, near the stove. Warm yourself, and feed the baby.’
‘Haven’t any milk. I have eaten nothing myself since early morning,’ said the woman, but still she took the baby to her breast.
Martin shook his head. He brought out a basin and some bread. Then he opened the oven door and poured some cabbage soup into the basin. He took out the porridge pot also but the porridge was not yet ready, so he spread a cloth on the table and served only the soup and bread.
‘Sit down and eat, my dear, and I’ll mind the baby. Why, bless me, I’ve had children of my own; I know how to manage them.’
The woman crossed herself, and sitting down at the table began to eat, while Martin put the baby on the bed and sat down by it. He chucked and chucked, but having no teeth he could not do it well and the baby continued to cry. Then Martin tried poking at him with his finger; he drove his finger straight at the baby’s mouth and then quickly drew it back, and did this again and again. He did not let the baby take his finger in its mouth, because it was all black with cobbler’s wax. But the baby first grew quiet watching the finger, and then began to laugh. And Martin felt quite pleased.
The woman sat eating and talking, and told him who she was, and where she had been.
‘I’m a soldier’s wife,’ said she. ‘They sent my husband somewhere, far away, eight months ago, and I have heard nothing of him since. I had a place as cook till my baby was born, but then they would not keep me with a child. For three months now I have been struggling, unable to find a place, and I’ve had to sell all I had for food. I tried to go as a wet-nurse, but no one would have me; they said I was too starved-looking and thin. Now I have just been to see a tradesman’s wife (a woman from our village is in service with her) and she has promised to take me. I thought it was all settled at last, but she tells me not to come till next week. It is far to her place, and I am fagged out, and baby is quite starved, poor mite. Fortunately our landlady has pity on us, and lets us lodge free, else I don’t know what we should do.’
Martin sighed. ‘Haven’t you any warmer clothing?’ he asked.
‘How could I get warm clothing?’ said she. ‘Why I pawned my last shawl for sixpence yesterday.’
Then the woman came and took the child, and Martin got up. He went and looked among some things that were hanging on the wall, and brought back an old cloak.
‘Here,’ he said, ‘though it’s a worn-out old thing, it will do to wrap him up in.’
The woman looked at the cloak, then at the old man, and taking it, burst into tears. Martin turned away, and groping under the bed brought out a small trunk. He fumbled about in it, and again sat down opposite the woman. And the woman said:
‘The Lord bless you, friend. Surely Christ must have sent me to your window, else the child would have frozen. It was mild when I started, but now see how cold it has turned. Surely it must have been Christ who made you look out of your window and take pity on me, poor wretch!’
Martin smiled and said; ‘It is quite true; it was he made me do it. It was no mere chance made me look out.’
And he told the woman his dream, and how he had heard the Lord’s voice promising to visit him that day.
‘Who knows? All things are possible,’ said the woman. And she got up and threw the cloak over her shoulders, wrapping it round herself and round the baby. Then she bowed, and thanked Martin once more.
‘Take this for Christ’s sake,’ said Martin, and gave her sixpence to get her shawl out of pawn. The woman crossed herself, and Martin did the same, and then he saw her out.
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After the woman had gone, Martin ate some cabbage soup, cleared the things away, and sat down to work again. He sat and worked, but did not forget the window, and every time a shadow fell on it he looked up at once to see who was passing. People he knew and strangers passed by, but no one remarkable.
After a while Martin saw an apple-woman stop just in front of his window. She had a large basket, but there did not seem to be many apples left in it; she had evidently sold most of her stock. On her back she had a sack full of chips, which she was taking home. No doubt she had gathered them at some place where building was going on. The sack evidently hurt her, and she wanted to shift it from one shoulder to the other, so she put it down on the footpath and, placing her basket on a post, began to shake down the chips in the sack. While she was doing this a boy in a tattered cap ran up, snatched an apple out of the basket, and tried to slip away; but the old woman noticed it, and turning, caught the boy by his sleeve. He began to struggle, trying to free himself, but the old woman held on with both hands, knocked his cap off his head, and seized hold of his hair. The boy screamed and the old woman scolded. Martin dropped his awl, not waiting to stick it in its place, and rushed out of the door. Stumbling up the steps, and dropping his spectacles in his hurry, he ran out into the street. The old woman was pulling the boy’s hair and scolding him, and threatening to take him to the police. The lad was struggling and protesting, saying, ‘I did not take it. What are you beating me for? Let me go!’
Martin separated them. He took the boy by the hand and said, ‘Let him go, Granny. Forgive him for Christ’s sake.’
‘I’ll pay him out, so that he won’t forget it for a year! I’ll take the rascal to the police!’ Martin began entreating the old woman.
‘Let him go, Granny. He won’t do it again. Let him go for Christ’s sake!’
The old woman let go, and the boy wished to run away, but Martin stopped him
‘Ask the Granny’s forgiveness!’ said he. ‘And don’t do it another time. I saw you take the apple.’
The boy began to cry and to beg pardon.
‘That’s right. And now here’s an apple for you, and Martin took an apple from the basket and gave it to the boy, saying, ‘I will pay you, Granny.’
‘You will spoil them that way, the young rascals,’ said the old woman. ‘He ought to be whipped so that he should remember it for a week.’
‘Oh, Granny, Granny,’ said Martin, ‘that’s our way — but it’s not God’s way. If he should be whipped for stealing an apple, what should be done to us for our sins?’
The old woman was silent.
And Martin told her the parable of the lord who forgave his servant a large debt, and how the servant went out and seized his debtor by the throat. The old woman listened to it all, and the boy, too, stood by and listened.
‘God bids us forgive,’ said Martin, ‘or else we shall not be forgiven. Forgive every one; and a thoughtless youngster most of all.’
The old woman wagged her head and sighed.
‘It’s true enough,’ said she, ‘but they are getting terribly spoilt.’
‘Then we old ones must show them better ways,’ Martin replied.
‘That’s just what I say,’ said the old woman. ‘I have had seven of them myself, and only one daughter is left.’ And the old woman began to tell how and where she was living with her daughter, and how many grandchildren she had. ‘There now,’ she said, ‘I have but little strength left, yet I work hard for the sake of my grandchildren; and nice children they are, too. No one comes out to meet me but the children. Little Annie, now, won’t leave me for any one. “It’s grandmother, dear grandmother, darling grandmother.”‘ And the old woman completely softened at the thought.
‘Of course, it was only his childishness, God help him,’ said she, referring to the boy.
As the old woman was about to hoist her sack on her back, the lad sprang forward to her, saying, ‘Let me carry it for you, Granny. I’m going that way.’
The old woman nodded her head, and put the sack on the boy’s back, and they went down the street together, the old woman quite forgetting to ask Martin to pay for the apple. Martin stood and watched them as they went along talking to each other.
When they were out of sight Martin went back to the house. Having found his spectacles unbroken on the steps, he picked up his awl and sat down again to work. He worked a little, but could soon not see to pass the bristle through the holes in the leather; and presently he noticed the lamplighter passing on his way to light the street lamps.
‘Seems it’s time to light up,’ thought he. So he trimmed his lamp, hung it up, and sat down again to work. He finished off one boot and, turning it about, examined it. It was all right. Then he gathered his tools together, swept up the cuttings, put away the bristles and the thread and the awls, and, taking down the lamp, placed it on the table. Then he took the Gospels from the shelf. He meant to open them at the place he had marked the day before with a bit of morocco, but the book opened at another place. As Martin opened it, his yesterday’s dream came back to his mind, and no sooner had he thought of it than he seemed to hear footsteps, as though some one were moving behind him. Martin turned round, and it seemed to him as if people were standing in the dark corner, but he could not make out who they were. And a voice whispered in his ear: ‘Martin, Martin, don’t you know me?’
‘Who is it?’ muttered Martin.
‘It is I,’ said the voice. And out of the dark corner stepped Stepánitch, who smiled and vanishing like a cloud was seen no more.
‘It is I,’ said the voice again. And out of the darkness stepped the woman with the baby in her arms and the woman smiled and the baby laughed, and they too vanished.
‘It is I,’ said the voice once more. And the old woman and the boy with the apple stepped out and both smiled, and then they too vanished.
And Martin’s soul grew glad. He crossed himself put on his spectacles, and began reading the Gospel just where it had opened; and at the top of the page he read
‘I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.’
And at the bottom of the page he read
 
‘Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren even these least, ye did it unto me’(Matt. xxv).
And Martin understood that his dream had come true; and that the Saviour had really come to him that day, and he had welcomed him.
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The Old Shoemaker

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This video is based off of the short story, “Where Love Is, God Is“, by Leo Tolstoy.
It is a sweet tale about an old cobbler who sees the Lord.
                   
May you see God today. Have a blessed Friday:)
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“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
~Matthew 25:40
 
 

When Queens Ride By

When Queens Ride By
Agnes Slight Turnbull

Jennie Musgrave woke at the shrill rasp of the alarm clock as she always woke—with the shuddering start and a heavy realization that the brief respite of the night’s oblivion was over. She had only time to glance through the dull light at the cluttered, dusty room, before John’s voice was saying sleepily as he said every morning, “All right, let’s go. It doesn’t seem as if we’d been in bed at all!”
Jennie dressed quickly in the clothes, none too clean, that, exhausted, she had flung from her the night before. She hurried down the back stairs, her coarse shoes clattering thickly upon the bare boards. She kindled the fire in the range and then made a hasty pretense at washing in the basin in the sink.

John strode through the kitchen and on out to the barn. There were six cows to be milked and the great cans of milk to be taken to the station for the morning train.
Jennie put coffee and bacon on the stove, and then, catching up a pail from the porch, went after John. A golden red disk broke the misty blue of the morning above the cow pasture. A sweet, fragrant breath blew from the orchard. But Jennie neither saw nor felt the beauty about her.
She glanced at the sun and thought, It’s going to be a hot day. She glanced at the orchard, and her brows knit. There it hung. All that fruit. Bushels of it going to waste. Maybe she could get time that day to make some more apple butter. But the tomatoes wouldn’t wait. She must pick them and get them to town today, or that would be a dead loss. After all her work, well, it would only be in a piece with everything else if it did happen so. She and John had bad luck, and they might as well make up their minds to it.

She finished her part of the milking and hurried back again to the overcooked bacon and strong coffee. The children were down, clamorous, dirty, always underfoot. Jim, the eldest, was in his first term of school. She glanced at his spotted waist. He should have a clean one. But she couldn’t help it. She couldn’t get the washing done last week, and when she was to get a day for it this week she didn’t know, with all the picking and the trips to town to make!
Breakfast was hurried and unpalatable, a sort of grudging concession to the demands of the body. Then John left in the milk wagon for the station, and Jennie packed little Jim’s lunch basket with bread and apple butter and pie, left the two little children to their own devices in the backyard, and started toward the barn. There was no time to do anything in the house. The chickens and turkeys had to be attended to, and then she must get to the tomato patch before the sun got too hot. Behind her was the orchard with its rows and rows of laden apple trees. Maybe this afternoon—maybe tomorrow morning. There were the potatoes, too, to be lifted. Too hard work for a woman. But what were you going to do? Starve? John worked till dark in the fields.

She pushed her hair back with a quick, boyish sweep of her arm and went on scattering the grain to the fowls. She remembered their eager plans when they were married, when they took over the old farm—laden with its heavy mortgage—that had been John’s father’s. John had been so straight of back then and so jolly. Only seven years, yet now he was stooped a little, and his brows were always drawn, as though to hide a look of ashamed failure. They had planned to have a model farm someday: blooded stock, a tractor, a new barn. And then such a home they were to make of the old stone house! Jennie’s hopes had flared higher even than John’s. A rug for the parlor, an overstuffed set like the one in the mail-order catalogue, linoleum for the kitchen, electric lights! They were young and, oh, so strong! There was nothing they could not do if they only worked hard enough.

But that great faith had dwindled as the first year passed. John worked later and later in the evenings. Jennie took more and more of the heavy tasks upon her own shoulders. She often thought with some pride that no woman in the countryside ever helped her husband as she did. Even with the haying and riding the reaper. Hard, coarsening work, but she was glad to do it for John’s sake.
The sad riddle of it all was that at the end of each year they were no further on. The only difference from the year before was another window shutter hanging from one hinge and another crippled wagon in the barnyard which John never had time to mend. They puzzled over it in a vague distress.
And meanwhile life degenerated into a straining, hopeless struggle. Sometimes lately John had seemed a little listless, as though nothing mattered. A little bitter when he spoke of Henry Davis.
Henry held the mortgage and had expected a payment on the principle this year. He had come once and looked about with something very like a sneer on his face. If he should decide someday to foreclose—that would be the final blow. They never would get up after that. If John couldn’t hold the old farm, he could never try to buy a new one. It would mean being renters all their lives. Poor renters at that!

She went to the tomato field. It had been her own idea to do some tracking along with the regular farm crops. But, like everything else, it had failed of her expectations. As she put the scarlet tomatoes, just a little overripe, into the basket, she glanced with a hard tightening of her lips toward a break in the trees a half mile away where a dark, listening bit of road caught the sun. Across its polished surface twinkled an endless procession of shining, swift-moving objects: The State Highway.

Jennie hated it. In the first place, it was so tauntingly near and yet so hopelessly far from them. If it only ran by their door, as it did past Henry Davis’s for instance, it would solve the whole problem of marketing the fruits and vegetables. Then they could set the baskets on the lawn, and people could stop for them. But as it was, nobody all summer long had paid the least attention to the sign John had put up at the end of the lane. And no wonder. Why should travelers drive their cars over the stony country byway, when a little farther along they would find the same fruit spread temptingly for them at the very roadside?

But there was another reason she hated that bit of sleek road showing between the trees. She hated it because it hurt her with its suggestions of all that passed her by in that endless procession twinkling in the sunshine. There they kept going, day after day, those happy, carefree women, riding in handsome limousines or in gay little roadsters. Some in plainer cars, too, but even those were, like the others, women who could have rest, pleasure, comfort for the asking. They were whirled along hour by hour to new pleasures, while she was weighted to the drudgery of the farm like one of the great rocks in the pasture field.

And—most bitter thought of all—they had pretty homes to go back to when the happy journey was over. That seemed to be the strange and cruel law about homes. The finer they were, the easier it was to leave them. Now with her—if she had the rug for the parlor and the stuffed furniture and linoleum for the kitchen, she shouldn’t mind anything so much then; she had nothing, nothing but hard slaving and bad luck. And the highway taunted her with it. Flung its impossible pleasures mockingly in her face as she bent over the vines or dragged the heavy baskets along the rows.

The sun grew hotter. Jennie put more strength into her task. She knew, at last, by the scorching heat overhead that is was nearing noon. She must have a bit of lunch ready for John when he came in. There wasn’t time to prepare much. Just reheat the coffee and set down some bread and pie.
She started towards the house, giving a long yodeling call for the children as she went. They appeared from the orchard, tumbled and torn from experiments with the wire fence. Her heart smothered her at the sight of them. Among the other dreams that the years had crushed out were those of little rosy boys and girls in clean suits and fresh ruffled dresses. As it was, the children had just grown like farm weeds.

This was the part of all the drudgery that hurt most. That she had not time to care for her children, sew for them, teach them things that other children knew. Sometimes it seemed as if she had no real love for them at all. She was too terribly tired as a rule to have any feeling. The only times she used energy to talk to them was when she had to reprove them for some dangerous misdeed. That was all wrong. It seemed wicked; but how could she help it? With the work draining the very life out of her, strong as she was.

John came in heavily, and they ate in silence except for the children’s chatter. John hardly looked up from his plate. He gulped down great drafts of the warmed-over coffee and then pushed his chair back hurriedly.

“I’m goin’ to try to finish the harrowin’ in the south field,” he said.
“I’m at the tomatoes,” Jennie answered. “I’ve got them’ most all picked and ready for takin’.”
That was all. Work was again upon them.
It was two o’clock by the sun, and Jennie had loaded the last heavy basket of tomatoes on the milk wagon in which she must drive to town, when she heard shrill voices sounding along the path. The children were flying in excitement toward her.
“Mum! Mum! Mum!” they called as they came panting up to her with big, surprised eyes.
“Mum, there’s a lady up there. At the kitchen door. All dressed up. A pretty lady. She wants to see you.”

Jennie gazed down at them disbelievingly. A lady, a pretty lady at her kitchen door? All dressed up! What that could mean! Was it possible someone had at last braved the stony lane to buy fruit? Maybe bushels of it!

“Did she come in a car?” Jennie asked quickly.
“No, she just walked in. She’s awful pretty. She smiled at us.”

Jennie’s hopes dropped. Of course. She might have known. Some agent likely, selling books. She followed the children wearily back along the path and in at the rear door of the kitchen. Across from it another door opened into the side yard. Here stood the stranger.
The two women looked at each other across the kitchen, across the table with the remains of two meals upon it, the strewn chairs, the littered stove—across the whole scene of unlovely disorder. They looked at each other in startled surprise, as inhabitants of Earth and Mars might look if they were suddenly brought face-to-face.

Jennie saw a woman in a gray tweed coat that seemed to be part of her straight, slim body. A small gray hat with a rose quill was drawn low over the brownish hair. Her blue eyes were clear and smiling. She was beautiful! And yet she was not young. She was in her forties, surely. But an aura of eager youth clung to her, a clean and exquisite freshness.

The stranger in her turn looked across at a young woman, haggard and weary. Her yellowish hair hung in straggling wisps. Her eyes looked hard and hunted. Her cheeks were thin and sallow. Her calico dress was shapeless and begrimed from her work.

So they looked at each other for one long, appraising second. Then the woman in gray smiled.
“How do you do? ” she began. “We ran our car into the shade of your lane to have our lunch and rest for a while. And I walked on up to buy a few apples, if you have them.”

Jennie stood staring at the stranger. There was an unconscious hostility in her eyes. This was one of the women from the highway. One of those envied ones who passed twinkling through the summer sunshine from pleasure to pleasure while Jennie slaved on.

But the pretty lady’s smile was disarming. Jennie started toward a chair and pulled off the old coat and apron that lay on it.

“Won’t you sit down?” she said politely. “I’ll go and get the apples. I’ll have to pick them off the tree. Would you prefer Rambos?”
“I don’t know what they are, but they sound delicious. You must choose them for me. But mayn’t I come with you? I should love to help pick them.”
Jennie considered. She felt baffled by the friendliness of the other woman’s face and utterly unable to meet it. But she did not know how to refuse.
“Why I s’pose so. If you can get through the dirt.”

She led the way over the back porch with its crowded baskets and pails and coal buckets, along the unkept path toward the orchard. She had never been so acutely conscious of the disorder about her. Now a hot shame brought a lump to her throat. In her preoccupied haste before, she had actually not noticed that tub of overturned milk cans and rubbish heap! She saw it all now swiftly through the other woman’s eyes. And then that new perspective was checked by a bitter defiance. Why should she care how things looked to this woman? She would be gone, speeding down the highway in a few minutes as though she had never been there.
She reached the orchard and began to drag a long ladder from the fence to the Rambo tree.
The other woman cried out in distress. “Oh, but you can’t do that! You mustn’t. It’s too heavy for you, or even for both of us. Please just let me pick a few from the ground.”
Jennie looked in amazement at the stranger’s concern. It was so long since she had seen anything like it.

“Heavy?” she repeated. “This ladder? I wish I didn’t ever lift anything heavier than this. After hoistin’ bushel baskets of tomatoes onto a wagon, this feels light to me.”
The stranger caught her arm. “But—but do you think it’s right? Why, that’s a man’s work.”
Jennie’s eyes blazed. Something furious and long-pent broke out from within her. “Right! Who are you to be askin’ me whether I’m right or not? What would have become of us if I didn’t do a man’s work? It takes us both, slaving away, an’ then we get nowhere. A person like you don’t know what work is! You don’t know—”

Jennie’s voice was the high shrill of hysteria; but the stranger’s low tones somehow broke through.

“Listen,” she said soothingly. “Please listen to me. I’m sorry I annoyed you by saying that, but now, since we are talking, why can’t we sit down here and rest a minute? It’s so cool and lovely here under the trees, and if you were to tell me all about it—because I’m only a stranger—perhaps it would help. It does sometimes, you know. A little rest would—”
“Rest! Me sit down to rest, an’ the wagon loaded to go to town? It’ll hurry me now to get back before dark.”

And then something strange happened. The other women put her cool, soft hand on Jennie’s grimy arm. There was a compelling tenderness in her eyes. “Just take the time you would have spent picking apples. I would so much rather. And perhaps somehow I could help you. I wish I could. Won’t you tell me why you have to work so hard?”
Jennie sank down on the smooth green grass. Her hunted, unwilling eyes had yielded to some power in the clear, serene eyes of the stranger. A sort of exhaustion came over her. A trembling reaction from the straining effort of weeks.

“There ain’t much to tell,” she said half sullenly, “only that we ain’t gettin’ ahead. We’re clean discouraged, both off us. Henry Davis is talking about foreclosin’ on us if we don’t pay some principle. The time of the mortgage is out this year, an’ mebbe he won’t renew it. He’s got plenty himself, but them’s the hardest kind.” She paused; then her eyes flared. “An’ it ain’t that I haven’t done my part. Look at me. I’m barely thirty, an’ I might be fifty. I’m so weather-beaten. That’s the way I’ve worked!”
“And you think that has helped your husband?”
“Helped him?” Jennie’s voice was sharp. “Why shouldn’t it help him?”

The stranger was looking away through the green stretches of orchard. She laced her slim hands together about her knees. She spoke slowly. “Men are such queer things, husbands especially. Sometimes we blunder when we are trying hardest to serve them. For instance, they want us to be economical, and yet they want us in pretty clothes. They need our work, and yet they want us to keep our youth and our beauty. And sometimes they don’t know themselves which they really want most. So we have to choose. That’s what makes it so hard.”

She paused. Jennie was watching her with dull curiosity as though she were speaking a foreign tongue. Then the stranger went on:

“I had to choose once, long ago; just after we were married, my husband decided to have his own business, so he started a very tiny one. He couldn’t afford a helper, and he wanted me to stay in the office while he did the outside selling. And I refused, even though it hurt him. Oh, it was hard! But I knew how it would be if I did as he wished. We would both have come back each night. Tired out, to a dark, cheerless house and a picked-up dinner. And a year if that might have taken something away from us—something precious. I couldn’t risk it, so I refused and stuck to it.”
 “And then how I worked in my house—a flat it was then. I had so little outside of our wedding gifts; but at least I could make it a clean, shining, happy place. I tried to give our little dinners the grace of a feast. And as the months went on, I knew I had done right. My husband would come home dead-tired and discouraged, ready to give up the whole thing. But after he had eaten and sat down in our bright little living room, and I had read to him or told him all the funny things I could invent about my day, I could see him change. By bedtime he had his courage back, and by morning he was at last ready to go out and fight again. And at last he won, and he won his success alone, as a man loves to do.”

Still Jennie did not speak. She only regarded her guest with a half-resentful understanding.
The woman in gray looked off again between the trees. Her voice was very sweet. A humorous little smile played about her lips.

“There was a queen once,” she went on, “who reigned in troublous days. And every time the country was on the brink of war and the people ready to fly into a panic, she would put on her showiest dress and take her court with her and go hunting. And when the people would see her riding by, apparently so gay and happy, they were sure all was well with the Government. So she tided over many a danger. And I’ve tried to be like her.

“Whenever a big crisis comes in my husband’s business—and we’ve had several—or when he’s discouraged, I put on my prettiest dress and get the best dinner I know how or give a party! And somehow it seems to work. That’s the woman’s part, you know. To play the queen—”
A faint honk-honk came from the lane. The stranger started to her feet. “That’s my husband. I must go. Please don’t bother about the apples. I’ll just take these from under the tree. We only wanted two or three, really. And give these to the children.” She slipped two coins into Jennie’s hand.
Jennie had risen, too, and was trying from a confusion of startled thoughts to select one for speech. Instead she only answered the other woman’s bright good-bye with a stammering repetition and a broken apology about the apples.

She watched the stranger’s erect, lithe figure hurrying away across the path that led directly to the lane. Then she turned her back to the house, wondering dazedly if she had only dreamed that the other woman had been there. But no, there were emotions rising hotly within her that were new. They had had no place an hour before. They had risen at the words of the stranger and at the sight of her smooth, soft hair, the fresh color in her cheeks, the happy shine of her eyes.

A great wave of longing swept over Jennie, a desire that was lost in choking despair. It was as thought she had heard a strain of music for which she had waited all her life and then felt it swept away into silence before she had grasped its beauty. For a few brief minutes she, Jennie Musgrave, had sat beside one of the women of the highway and caught a breath of her life—that life which forever twinkled in the past in bright procession, like the happenings of a fairy tale. Then she was gone, and Jennie was left as she had been, bound to the soil like one of the rocks of the field.
The bitterness that stormed her heart now was different from the old dull disheartenment. For it was coupled with new knowledge. The words of the stranger seemed more vivid to her than when she had sat listening in the orchard. But they came back to her with the pain of agony.

“All very well for her to talk so smooth to me about man’s work and woman’s work! An’ what she did for her husband’s big success. Easy enough for her to sit talking about queens! What would she do if she was here on this farm like me? What would a woman like her do?”

Jennie had reached the kitchen door and stood there looking at the hopeless melee about her. Her words sounded strange and hollow in the silence of the house. “Easy for her!” she burst out. She never had the work pilin’ up over her like I have. She never felt it at her throat like a wolf, the same as John an’ me does. Talk about choosin’! I haven’t got no choice. I just got to keep goin’—just keep goin’, like I always have—”

She stopped suddenly. There in the middle of the kitchen floor, where the other woman had passed over, lay a tiny square of white. Jennie crossed to it quickly and picked it up. A faint delicious fragrance like the dream of a flower came from it. Jennie inhaled it eagerly. It was not like any odor she had ever known. It made her think of sweet, strange things. Things she had never thought about before. Of gardens in the early summer dusk, of wide fair rooms with the moonlight shining in them. It made her somehow think with vague wistfulness of all that.

She looked carefully at the tiny square. The handkerchief was of fine, fairylike smoothness. In the corner a dainty blue butterfly spread his wings. Jennie drew in another long breath. The fragrance filled her senses again. Her first greedy draft had not exhausted it. It would stay for a while, at least.
She laid the bit of white down cautiously on the edge of the table and went to the sink, where she washed her hands carefully. The she returned and picked up the handkerchief again with something like reverence. She sat down, still holding it, staring at it. This bit of linen was to her an articulated voice. She understood its language. It spoke to her of white, freshly washed clothes blowing in the sunshine, of an iron moving smoothly, leisurely, to the accompaniment of a song over snowy folds; it spoke to her of quiet, orderly rooms and ticking clocks and a mending basket under the evening lamp; it spoke to her of all the peaceful routine of a well managed household, the kind she had once dreamed of having.

But more than this, the exquisite daintiness of it, the sweet, alluring perfume spoke to her of something else which her heart understood, even though her speech could have found no words for it. She could feel gropingly the delicacy, the grace, the beauty that made up the other woman’s life in all its relations.

She, Jennie, had none of that. Everything about their lives, hers and John’s, was coarsened, soiled somehow by the dragging, endless labor or the days.
Jennie leaned forward, her arms stretched tautly before her upon her knees, her hands clasped tightly over the fragrant bit of white. Suppose she were to try doing as the stranger had said. Suppose that she spent her time on the house and let the outside work go. What then? What would John say? Would they be much farther behind than they were now? Could they be? And suppose, by some strange chance, the other woman had been right! That a man could be helped more by doing of these other things she had neglected?

She sat very still, distressed, uncertain. Out in the barnyard waited the wagon of tomatoes, overripe now for market. No, she could do nothing today, at least, but go on as usual.
Then her hands opened a little; the perfume within them came up to her, bringing again that thrill of sweet, indescribable things.

She started up, half-terrified at her own resolve. “I’m goin’ to try it now. Mebbe I’m crazy, but I’m goin’ to do it anyhow!”

It was a long time since Jennie had performed such a meticulous toilet. It was years since she had brushed her hair. A hasty combing had been its best treatment. She put on her one clean dress, the dark voile reserved for trips to town. She even changed from her shapeless, heavy shoes to her best ones. Then, as she looked at herself in the dusty mirror, she saw that she was changed. Something, at least, of the hard haggardness was gone from her face, and her hair framed it with smooth softness. Tomorrow she would wash it. It used to be almost yellow.

She went to the kitchen. With something of the burning zeal of a fanatic, she attacked the confusion before her. By half past four the room was clean: the floor swept, the stove shining, dishes and pans washed and put in their places. From the tumbled depths of a drawer Jennie had extracted a white tablecloth that had been bought in the early days, for company only. With a spirit of daring recklessness she spread it on the table. She polished the chimney of the big oil lamp and then set the fixture, clean and shining, in the center of the white cloth.

Now the supper! And she must hurry. She planned to have it at six o’ clock and ring the big bell for John fifteen minutes before, as she used to just after they were married.

She decided upon fried ham and browned potatoes and applesauce with hot biscuits. She hadn’t made them for so long, but her fingers fell into their old deftness. Why, cooking was just play if you had time to do it right! Then she thought of the tomatoes and gave a little shudder. She thought of the long hours of backbreaking work she had put into them and called herself a little fool to have been swayed by the words of a stranger and the scent of a handkerchief, to neglect her rightful work and bring more loss upon John and herself. But she went on, making the biscuits, turning the ham, setting the table.

It was half past five; the first pan of flaky brown mounds had been withdrawn from the oven, the children’s faces and hands had been washed and their excited questions satisfied, when the sound of a car came from the bend. Jennie knew that car. It belonged to Henry Davis. He could be coming for only one thing.

The blow they had dreaded, fending off by blind disbelief in the ultimate disaster, was about to fall. Henry was coming to tell them he was going to foreclose. It would almost kill John. This was his father’s old farm. John had taken it over, mortgage and all, so hopefully, so sure he could succeed where his father had failed. If he had to leave now there would be a double disgrace to bear. And where could they go? Farms weren’t so plentiful.

Henry had driven up to the side gate. He fumbled with some papers in his inner pocket as he started up the walk. A wild terror filled Jennie’s heart. She wanted desperately to avoid meeting Henry Davis’ keen, hard face, to flee somewhere, anywhere before she heard the words that doomed them.
Then as she stood shaken, wondering how she could live through what the next hours would bring, she saw in a flash the beautiful stranger as she had sat in the orchard, looking off between the trees and smiling to herself. “There was once a queen.”

Jennie heard the words again distinctly just as Henry Davis’ steps sounded sharply nearer on the walk outside. There was only a confused picture of a queen wearing the stranger’s lovely, highbred face, riding gaily to the hunt through forests and towns while her kingdom was tottering. Riding gallantly on, in spite of her fears.

Jennie’s heart was pounding and her hands were suddenly cold. But something unreal and yet irresistible was sweeping her with it. “There was once a queen.”

She opened the screen door before Henry Davis had time to knock. She extended her hand cordially. She was smiling. “Well, how d’ you do, Mr. Davis. Come right in. I’m real glad to see you. Been quite a while since you was over.”

Henry looked surprised and very much embarrassed. “Why, no, now, I won’t go in. I just stopped to see John on a little matter of business. I’ll just—”

“You’ll just come right in. John will be in from milkin’ in a few minutes an’ you can talk while you eat, both of you. I’ve supper just ready. Now step right in, Mr. Davis!”

As Jennie moved aside, a warm, fragrant breath of fried ham and biscuits seemed to waft itself to Henry Davis’ nostrils. There was a visible softening of his features. “Why, no, I didn’t reckon on anything like this. I ‘lowed I’d just speak to John and then be gettin’ on.”

“They’ll see you at home when you get there,” Jennie put in quickly. “You never tasted my hot biscuits with butter an’ quince honey, or you wouldn’t take so much coachin’!”

Henry Davis came in and sat in the big, clean, warm kitchen. His eyes took in every detail of the orderly room: the clean cloth, the shining lamp, the neat sink, the glowing stove. Jennie saw him relax comfortably in his chair. Then above the aromas of the food about her, she detected the strange sweetness of the bit of white linen she had tucked away in the bosom of her dress. It rose to her as a haunting sense of her power as a woman.

She smiled at Henry Davis. Smiled as she would never have thought of doing a day ago. Then she would have spoken to him with a drawn face full of subservient fear. Now, though the fear clutched her heart, her lips smiled sweetly, moved by that unreality that seemed to possess her. “There was once a queen.”

“An’ how are things goin’ with you, Mr. Davis?” she asked with a blithe upward reflection.
Henry Davis was very human. He had never noticed before that Jennie’s hair was so thick and pretty and that she had such pleasant ways. Neither had he dreamed that she was such a good cook as the sight and smell of the supper things would indicate. He was very comfortable there in the big sweet-smelling kitchen.

He smiled back. It was an interesting experiment on Henry’s part, for his smiles were rare. “Oh, so-so. How are they with you?”

Jennie had been taught to speak the truth; but at this moment there dawned in her mind a vague understanding that the high loyalties of life are, after all, relative and not absolute.
She smiled again as she skillfully flipped a great slice of golden brown ham over in the frying pan.

“Why, just fine, Mr. Davis. We’re gettin’ on just fine, John an’ me. It’s been hard sleddin’ but I sort of think the worst is over. I think we’re goin’ to come out way ahead now. We’ll just be proud to pay off that mortgage so fast, come another year, that you’ll be surprised!”
It was said. Jennie marveled that the words had not choked her, had not somehow smitten her dead as she spoke them. But their effect on Henry Davis was amazingly good.

“That so?” he asked in surprise. “Well now, that’s fine. I always wanted to see John make a success of the old place, but somehow—well, you know it didn’t look as if—that is, there’s been some talk around that maybe John wasn’t just gettin’ along any too—you know. A man has to sort of watch his investments. Well, now, I’m glad things are pickin’ up a little.”

Jennie felt as though a tight hand at her throat had relaxed. She spoke brightly of the fall weather and the crops as she finished setting the dishes on the table and rang the big bell for John. There was delicate work yet to be done when he came in.

Little Jim had to be sent to hasten him before he finally appeared. He was a big man, John Musgrave, big and slow moving and serious. He had known nothing all his life but hard physical toil. Heaviness had pitted his great body against all the adverse forces of nature. There was a time when he had felt that strength such as his was all any man needed to bring him fortune. Now he was not so sure. The brightness of that faith was dimmed by experience.

John came to the kitchen door with his eyebrows drawn. Little Jim had told Jim that Henry Davis was there. He came into the room as an accused man faces the jury of his peers, faces the men who, though the same flesh and blood as he, are yet somehow curiously in a position to save or to destroy him.

John came in, and then he stopped, staring blankly at the scene before him. At Jennie moving about the bright table, chatting happily with Henry Davis! At Henry himself, his sharp features softened by an air of great satisfaction. At the sixth plate on the white cloth. Henry staying for supper!
But the silent deeps of John’s nature served him well. He made no comment. Merely shook hands
with Henry Davis and then washed his face at the sink.

Jennie arranged the savory dishes, and they sat down to supper. It was an entirely new experience to John to sit at the head of his own table and serve a generously heaped plate to Henry Davis. It sent through him a sharp thrill of sufficiency, of equality. He realized that before he had been cringing in his soul at the very sight of this man.

Henry consumed eight biscuits richly covered with quince honey, along with the heavier part of his dinner. Jennie counted them. She recalled hearing that the Davises did not set a very bountiful table; it was common talk that Mrs. Davis was even more “miserly” than her husband. But, however that was, Henry now seemed to grow more and more genial and expansive as he ate. So did John. By the time the pie was set before them, they were laughing over a joke Henry had heard at Grange meeting.
Jennie was bright, watchful, careful. If the talk lagged, she made a quick remark. She moved softly between table and stove, refilling the dishes. She saw to it that a hot biscuit was at Henry Davis’ elbow just when he was ready for it. All the while there was rising within her a strong zest for life that she would have deemed impossible only that morning. This meal, at least, was a perfect success, and achievements of any sort whatever had been few.

Henry Davis left soon after supper. He brought the conversation around awkwardly to his errand as they rose from the table. Jennie was ready.

“I told him, John, that the worst was over now, an’ we’re getting’ on fine!” She laughed. “I told him we’d be swampin’ him pretty soon with our payments. Ain’t that right John?”
John’s mind was not analytical. At that moment he was comfortable. He has been host at a delicious supper with his ancient adversary, whose sharp face marvelously softened. Jennie’s eyes were shining with a new and amazing confidence. It was a natural moment for unreasoning optimism.
“Why that’s right, Mr. Davis. I believe we can start clearin’ this off now pretty soon. If you could just see your way clear to renew the note mebbe. . . .”
 It was done. The papers were back in Davis’ pocket. They had bid him a cordial good-bye from the door.

“Next time you come, I will have biscuits for you, Mr. Davis,” Jennie had called daringly after him.

“Now you don’t forget that Mrs. Musgrave! They certainly ain’t hard to eat.”

He was gone. Jennie cleared the table and set the shining lamp in the center of the oilcloth covering. She began to wash the dishes. John was fumbling through the papers on a hanging shelf. He finally sat down with an old tablet and pencil. He spoke meditatively. “I believe I’ll do a little figurin’ since I’ve got time tonight. It just struck me that mebbe if I used my head a little more I’d get on faster.”
“Well now, you might,” said Jennie. It would not be John’s way to comment just yet on their sudden deliverance. She polished two big Rambo apples and placed them on a saucer beside him.
He looked pleased. “Now that’s what I like.” He grinned. Then making a clumsy clutch at her arm, he added, “Say, you look sort of pretty tonight.”

Jennie made a brisk coquettish business of freeing herself. “Go along with you!” she returned, smiling and started in again upon the dishes. But a hot wave of color had swept up in her shallow cheeks.

John had looked more grateful over her setting those two apples beside him now, than he had the day last fall when she lifted all the potatoes herself! Men were strange, as the woman in gray had said. Maybe even John had been needing something else more than he needed the hard, backbreaking work she had been doing.

She tidied up the kitchen and put the children to bed. It seemed strange to be through now, ready to sit down. All summer they had worked outdoors till bedtime. Last night she had been slaving over apple butter until she stopped, exhausted, and John had been working in the barn with the lantern. Tonight seemed so peaceful, so quiet. John still sat at the table, figuring while he munched his apples. His brows were not drawn now. There was a new, purposeful light upon his face.

Jennie walked to the doorway and stood looking off through the darkness and through the break in the trees at the end of the lane. Bright and golden lights kept glittering across it, breaking dimly through the woods, flashing out strongly for a moment, then disappearing behind the hill. Those were the lights of the happy cars that never stopped in their swift search for far and magic places. Those were the lights of the highway which she had hated. But she did not hate it now. For today it had come to her at last and left with her some of its mysterious pleasure.

Jennie wished, as she stood there, that she could somehow tell the beautiful stranger in the gray coat that her words had been true, that she, Jennie, insofar as she was able, was to be like her and fulfill her woman’s part.

For while she was not figuring as John was doing, yet her mind had been planning, sketching in details, strengthening itself against the chains of old habits, resolving on new ones; seeing with sudden clearness where they had been blundered, where they had made mistakes that farsighted, orderly management could have avoided. But how could John have sat down to figure in comfort before, in the kind of kitchen she had been keeping?

Jennie bit her lip. Even if some of the tomatoes spoiled, if all of them spoiled, there would be a snowy washing on her line tomorrow; there would be ironing the next day in her clean kitchen. She could sing as she worked. She used to when she was a girl. Even if the apples rotted on the trees, there were certain things she knew now that she must do, regardless of what John might say. It would pay better in the end, for she had read the real needs of his soul from his eyes that evening. Yes, wives had to choose for their husbands sometimes.

A thin haunting breath of sweetness rose from the bosom of her dress where the scrap of white linen lay. Jennie smiled into the dark. And tomorrow she would take time to wash her hair. It used to be yellow—and she wished she could see the stranger once more, just long enough to tell her she understood.

As a matter of fact, at that very moment, many miles along the sleek highway, a woman in a gray coat, with a soft gray hat and a rose quill, leaned suddenly close to her husband as he shot the high-powered car through the night. Suddenly he glanced down at her and slackened the speed.

“Tired?” he asked. “You haven’t spoken for miles. Shall we stop at this next town?”
The woman shook her head. “I’m all right, and I love to drive at night. It’s only—you know—that poor woman at the farm. I can’t get over her wretched face and house and everything. It—it was hopeless!”

The man smiled down at her tenderly. “Well, I’m sorry, too, if it was all as bad as your description; but you mustn’t worry. Good gracious, darling, you’re not weeping over it, I hope!”

“No, truly, just a few little tears. I know it’s silly, but I did so want to help her, and I know now that what I said must have sounded perfectly insane. She wouldn’t know what I was talking about. She just looked up with that blank, tired face. And it all seemed so impossible. No, I’m not going to cry. Of course I’m not—but—lend me your handkerchief, will you dear? I’ve lost mine somehow!”

A Handmade Christmas Gift

Are you in a last minute rush for Christmas gifts?
Are you completely overwhelmed because you can’t find ANYTHING worth while with the little amount of money you can afford to spend?

Why not make a gift for someone?

I know. I said it. The dreaded home made gift!
“NO NO NO. I will not be the one to give the wretched ‘Christmas Sweater’, the ugly pink bunny suit, this dispropotionate ‘I think it’s supposed to be a…ooohhh Now I see it…gee thanks…’ ” Is probably just what went through your head.

But do not fear! There is a lot more you can give than a stale, hard-as-a-rock fruit cake, or a dispropotionate scarf.

In today’s world of crafting, there are many resources for homemade gift guidance. Granted. some of the resources that you will find on the internet are strange and completely unrelated to anything that you and your loved ones are possibly interested in. However, much is available of true quality.

There is a deeper sentimentality involved in giving a gift that you have made. A part of your time, energy and spirit is intertwined with what you give. People are often touched more by the simple treasures of time and love than they are of the expensive item that was aimlessly bought at the department store.

Some suggestions for easy gifts:

  • knit/ crocheted hats, toys, scarves, mittens, blankets- this may sound like an impossible task, but once you learn the basic crochet stitch, you can make almost anything. The same can be said for the knit and purl stitches. the links below lead to free knitting and crocheting patterns.

http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/
http://www.crochetpatterncentral.com/

  • quick sew patterns the link below features many free and easy sewing patterns

http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/

  • fleece blankets – super easy! all you do is buy the fleece and cut it to the desired size! our family has a tradition. Mom cuts the fleece for blankets and each year the kids get a new blanket. Fabric stores typically have incredible amounts of various patterns ranging from princess to college prints. if you are feeling adventurous, you can cut the edges in about 2-3inches in and 1 inch across- this allows you to tie, lace, or leave as a decorative frill

  • Hand embroider/ embellish an article of clothing, pillow case or handkerchief. learning a couple basic stitches can create beautiful gifts.

http://www.needlenthread.com/
the above link has a section with video tutorials of a great number of stitches.
http://www.embroiderypatterncentral.com/directory.php

  • do you have a signature dessert that everyone raves about? mass produce it and give it as a christmas gift! everyone loves homemade goodies.

  • decorate glass ornaments. they are relatively cheep and you can fill them with all sorts of wonderful decorations and designs. people love recieving beautiful ornaments, and if they are handmade they are all the more special.

http://theornamentgirl.com/blog/
this blog is centered around creating ornaments. maybe you can get some ideas and start on your own beautiful creations!

  • little girls love paper doll sets!

http://tpettit.best.vwh.net/dolls/pd_scans/index.html

  • there are also some very fun paper toy patterns for all kids!

http://www.thetoymaker.com/2Toys.html

  • Another really good sight for simple, quick and cheap Christmas ideas is linked below

http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/frugal-living/holidays/christmas

  • In need of vintage clip art?

http://www.graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/

This season is so much fun! I hope that some of these sites will provide you with some of the last minute inspiration that you need for your gift giving.

Remember that Christ is the reason we celebrate this wonderful holiday. The number of gifts wrapped beneath the tree, though fun to open, are not the true purpose for our jubilee.

May we all be able to feel the joy of Christ in the midst of such a chaotic and troubled world.