Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sabbath rest from sunrise to sunset.


Last week I bought an adult sized superman's cape at Walmart.  The cashier, a little curious, questioned my purchase.  I told her that it was for our children's Christmas play at church.  "Huh?"
I then let her know that the plot is about the superheroes feeling a little insecure about a new super power coming to save the world, Jesus.  She told me what church bus her kids rode.  "You have to work a lot of Sundays, don't you?" I asked.  "Yes, every Sunday.  They used to pay us $1 more an hour, but the new employees don't even get that." 

Keeping the Sabbath isn't what it used to be.  I remember my feelings growing up wondering if I would complain to an employer if they asked me to work on Sundays.  Back then there was a federal law which protected you from that if it was for religious reasons, like being a contentious objector to working on the Sabbath.  Haven't heard of that one lately, have you?

"Farmer Boy," by Laura Ingals Wilder had a whole chapter about her husband's childhood memory of keeping the Sabbath.  It was strictly observed which was very boring for active little boys.  If my memory serves me, they snuck out while the grown-ups snoozed to try out their new sleds, a big "no-no."  All was going well until a pig wandered in their path and refused to be quiet about being swooped up unexpectedly to ride down the hill on their laps.  Busted.  It is a reminder that more often than not observing the Sabbath was the same as boredom.  We've completely lost that concept in my lifetime.  However, the opposite of boredom is overwork, even playing too hard.

"The tyranny of the urgent"
"There is something comforting about being overworked.  If work is the meaning of our lives, then more work means more meaning."*  Translated to the world of motherhood, being frazzled is a badge of honor we wear.  After all, "Men work from sun to sun while a woman's work is never done."  "We can never work our way to heaven." (Christianity is the only religion in the world this is true.) "The need to impress God is part of our fall from heaven...the trick is to allow God to impress you."*  The result of the fall is that work was cursed, and we would have to work by the sweat of our brow.  Not to worry, God had already built in a remedy, the Sabbath rest.  "Give me a break!"  O.K. 
So back to Superman and Children's ministry...Usually, the first question parents ask their children after picking them up from Children's Church is, "Did you have fun today?"  It's the Sabbath.  It's suppose to be fun, not work.  But the real question for us is this: do we feel threatened by the Superpower who came to save the world preferring instead to carry the world on our shoulders?  Turn in your cape.  It is a mere costume.
Soul Rest
"Jesus said, 'Come unto me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

"I feel as if God had, by giving the Sabbath, given fifty-two springs in each year."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"Sabbath ceasing (means) to cease not only from work itself, but also from the need to accomplish and be productive, from the worry and tension that accompany our modern criterion of efficiency, from our efforts to be in control of our lives as if we were God...and, finally, from the humdrum and meaninglessness that result when life is pursued without the Lord at the center of it all."
Marva J. Dawn
Sabbath: "coming in out of the wind."
"It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.
All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. 
And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back;
in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view,
letting that other larger, quieter life come flowing in.
And so on, all day.  Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings;
coming in our of the wind."
C.S. Lewis
*quotes from Matthew Sleeth, M.D. "24/6"

These pictures are from ladies retreat last year at Lake Tahoe.


Today I will take a break from turning relatives over in their graves with my Kinfolk stories.  Rather, I stepped out from my study (my laptop/recliner combo), for a brief time with the twins this week, Avery & Ella and Addie & Ezra.  In our little church we have many who enter the ark two by two, twins:  Amy & Jamie; Avery & Ella; Ezra & Addie; Patty (Norma); David (his twin brother is deceased); and a couple of others who attend sometimes.  Wombmates!  In church we may not all be twins or kinfolk, yet we can have kindred spirits, filled with the Holy Spirit. We certainly aren't identical.  There's no card carrying membership required to get in; but if you leave, hearts are broken and prayers will follow you in a heart beat.  Some have moved, but many have dropped back to being under the influence-whatever the influence is that keeps you from being part of God's family.  Like a phantom pain, we still hurt for you when you are gone.  Y'all come back for a family reunion! 

"For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified
are all from one Father;
for which reason He is not ashamed 
to call them brethren..."
Hebrews 2:11 
Satan says, "Look at your sin."
God says, "Look at my Son."
"There's a reason He called us His body and not His estate...
A body is connected with sinew and veins,
and an estate is with fences and lines.
'You got to cut down the fences or you cut up the Body.'
Ann VosKamp


Friday, August 30, 2013

One more Kinfolk story...
"The Fair Maid of Brabant"
Adeliza grew up on the romantic story of  William  the Conqueror and his bride Matilda.  She hoped someday to marry and have such a love such as theirs.  At sixteen, she knew her beauty was spoken of among her father's friends so that she had begun to be called "The Fair Maid of Brabant."  She was admired in the Imperial court of Normandy as well.  To some girls that would be enough, but Adeliza knew there was more to a good marriage than outward beauty.  If that's what caught a man's eye alone, he might be tempted by another pretty face that came along. No, she wanted true love that would last a lifetime.  The girl of Louvain looked longingly out her window as if trying to see her future on the horizon.  Her dreams were interrupted by a knock on her door.
"Your father wishes to have you join him downstairs."
"Does it have to do with the letter that was just delivered here?"
"Well, he did have a letter in his hand when he sent me to summon you."
"Thank you.  You may tell him I will be right down."
Adeliza was puzzled.  Her father had been staring at her more often since their last visit to court as if she was a precious vase about to be purchased.  He had introduced her to many potential suitors, but none captured her attention, especially not the King himself, King Henry of Normandy and England.  His wife was spoken of highly, some even spoke of her sainthood after her death, but unfortunately the King had not such a reputation.  Though he was a son of William the Conqueror and Matilda, he was nothing like them.  Adeliza had heard all the gossip about his unfaithfulness.  She did not appreciate his gaze over her at her father's introduction.  Besides, he was more than thirty years her senior.  Surely, it was too soon after his wife's death for him to consider marriage anyway.  She shuddered at the thought.  Of course, such a thing was not to be thought of,  but Adeliza couldn't convince the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Come sit down, Adeliza.  I have something of great consequence to discuss with you."
She felt light headed and sank into a chair.  Young women of her age usually had their marriages arranged for them by their father.  Adeliza felt a tremor shoot through her.  This is what she had been dreading.
"I have received a letter from a very important person, one of the most powerful and riches men in the world."
"King Henry?" Adeliza murmured under breath.

"We are most honored above all in two kingdoms.  The King has asked for your hand in marriage."
Adeliza whipped her gaze up to her father's.  "Please don't make me."

Seldom had she seen her father this angry.  He seethed, "Of course, I won't make you.  You WILL do this of your own accord.  No one can refuse the King!"
Adeliza became very quiet as a dream died in her heart.  Then she ventured, "But it has only been two months since his wife's death." 
Her father's chuckle soothed the tension in the room.  "Oh, so you are only concerned about the King's grief.  How very thoughtful of you, child."  With a wave of his hand he dismissed her.  "I will speak to you more when you have settled your mind about the changes that are coming." 
The dutiful daughter chose one more tactic to reach her father's heart.  "But he has known so many women.  It is a shame whispered about in every court."
"Perhaps he will leave you alone then if you find him so repulsive, that is after you bear him a son."
Ten tedious years had passed.  King Henry seldom let her out of his sight especially after his ultimate grief after the sinking of the White Ship that had taken his son, the only legitimate heir to the throne, down to the bottom of the sea.   The King was desperate for a son who could inherit the throne, but Adeliza remained barren.  Wherever he went, she had to be by his side.  Bearing an heir was her purpose, raison d'etre.  He saw her worthless for anything else except as an ornament.  It was obvious.  She had failed him.  These were her thoughts as she toyed with her food at a feast in Normandy. 
"These lamprey eels are delicious.  They don't taste the same in England.   It reminds me of my childhood here in Normandy."  The King spoke with his mouth full while Adeliza pushed hers around her plate without tasting them.  
At sixty-two the King was showing his age.  He seemed to have given up hope of producing an heir as he had begun preparing his legitimate daughter Matilda for the crown.  Adeliza had always liked the Empress, but she had her ears open enough to know that it would be controversial for a woman to be crowned as ruler over England.  The Kingdom would be split.  Adeliza sighed, but ate only a little fruit.  The riches of the world could not replace her yearning for a child.  King Henry wanted an heir.  She wanted a baby.  She still had her bloom in her twenties, while the burdens of the two kingdoms had worn her husband down to where food was his delight and little else. 
That night, Adeliza was woken up by her maid.  "It's the King, my Queen.  He has taken very ill, and I am sad to report that he is suffering gravely."
"Adeliza threw on the offered robe and ran barefoot to her husband's side.  He was indeed in the grip of misery.  "Pray for my soul, Adeliza.  I am not ready."
She could not speak, but nodded and wiped his forehead as he retched.  He lasted only a few ghastly days before the end from food poisoning.  Adeliza did not know how to grieve her husband of ten years, but went through the motions as expected of her.  Fortunately, all the attention was on the conflict between the King's daughter's claim to the throne being challenged by his nephew Stephen.  No one hardly noticed the young Queen Dowager. 
She returned to England for his burial and remained in the convent of Wilton to say her prayers.  She was repulsed by the thought of spending the rest of her life cloistered away no matter how the anarchy seized the kingdom out side their walls.  She sought refuge in her home at the Arundel Castle.  Fortunately, both the Empress and Stephen knew she was not a political threat, and was allowed to stay out of the fray.  Matilda and Adeliza  were close, but their friendship was not a threat politically to Stephen.

As Civil War raged, Adeliza's dreams began to rise again from the dead.  A handsome courtier's son William d'Aubigny, had been most attentive and kind when the queen came back to England a widow.  It mattered not that he was not of royal blood.  In him she found the understanding and consideration in his chivalrous conduct that she had found lacking in her arranged marriage to the King.  The young Queen Dowager found herself royally head over heels in love with a man beneath her station, even younger than her years, but not below her friendship.  He was not without wealth, but it mattered little as Adeliza was one of the wealthiest in the realm.   Even though they were politically divided-he was for Stephen while she was for the Empress-their marriage was as harmonious as what she had dreamed of as a young girl.  After three years as a widow, she was wed. They filled Arundel Castle with  seven children completing their happiness.

The Fair Maiden of Louvain was the Countess of Arundel, but was mostly called the French Queen or Queen of Louvain though officially she was the Queen Dowager of England. If the crown fits, wear it.  Just remember, the sparkle comes from the heart, not the jewels you wear. 
The Old Testament speaks of a word "hesed" sometimes translated as "to cherish."
We were created to crave being cherished.  It means all God's tender mercy,
His lovingkindess is turned toward you.
"And I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
in lovingkindness and in compassion (hesed).
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness."
Hosea 2:19


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another "Kinfolk" story from history...

William rode his horse furiously.   As fast as he rode, he could never get away from the insult added to his name, "William the Bastard."  It was like waving a red cape in front of a bull.  He had confronted many a man on a battlefield and come out victorious, but gained little triumph as long as some were left of his enemies to besmirch his reputation and that of his mother.

His mother, Herleva the Bold had been beautiful.  He slowed his horse as he thought of her. Though her father was not of royalty, she had caught the notice of  Robert I, Duke of Normandy.  Like King David, he was up on the castle wall when he looked down from the ramparts and saw her with desire in his heart.  He sent his servant to bring her to him.  Like Samson, he said, "She looks good to me."  The girl  refused.  The beauty would not be brought the back way to be used as a mistress even for royalty.  The message she sent back was if he truly wanted her, she must arrive on a pure white horse led through the front gate for all to see.  She insisted that their relationship be honored by all, though impossible to be approved of and sanctioned by the church in a real marriage.  Robert had loved her and William was the result.  When his father had died on a trip to the Holy Land, the lad was only eight.  His father had insisted before he left that William would be recognized as the future king.  Conspiracies abounded and several of the father figures in his young life who were to control his future were murdered.  Time after time he himself had been sent away to be hidden among the village families so his royalty would not make him a target for those with evil intent.  Finally, with the help of Henry, King of France, William came of age and subdued his kingdom.  He had even gone to England and had his cousin, the childless Edward the Confessor, King of England's promise to inherit his crown upon his death  Yet, in spite of all this, he was sent into a rage when he heard his name spoken with a slur from his enemies.


But nothing had enraged him as much as this slip of a young girl, no larger than a child, with dark eyes and raven long braids who brazenly flaunted his name to his face.  She was beautiful, and she knew it.   La petite jeune fille filled his thoughts no matter how far he rode.  Whenever he approached her, she would laugh practically in his face.  He was the King!  She was insufferable.  He was filled with fury.

One day as he approached her village, he saw her riding a white horse home from the church surrounded by her ladies in waiting.  When he rode up to her, he could overhear her openly disparage his name with the insult practically throwing it in his face.  The girls were giggling.  William pulled his horse next to hers and suddenly yanked her off the horse by her braids.  The girl landed on her backside in the mud.  "Who's laughing now?" William taunted before riding away from the gaping mouths of her entourage.  Then he heard her scream of outrage.

Now it was William who was calling himself every name in the book.  "Stupid! You are a king, not the village idiot!"  He had acted instinctively, impulsively, and looked ridiculous in the eyes of all the village attacking a mere girl.  Her father would be fighting mad.  He would need to apologize, eventually.  William did not trust himself to be in her presence yet.  He laughed abruptly at the thought of the small figure attacking him back: she was barely over four foot tall while he was over six feet.

Matilda walked into her father's study caked with mud from head to toe and stamped her foot.  "He did this to me!  I hate him!"

Her father rose from his chair with a growl, "Who dared to lay a hand on you.  I'll rip him to shreds!"
He began calling for his men to prepare to ride to avenge her.

Matilda took a step back recognizing the murder in her father's eyes.  "I'm not really hurt, father, just mad.  I don't think you want to attack the man who did this."

"Who dared to lay a hand on my daughter?  Who is this cur?"

"William, the King," she whispered.

"What?  Who?"

" King William," she said just loud enough for him to hear.

"You had better tell me all, daughter, before blood is spilled for your honor," he said through gritted teeth.

Matilda burst out crying confessing her awful insult to the king's face.

"Why would you do such a thing?  Many of his enemies have died with that taunt on their lips.  Now what am I supposed to do with this insult to you in front of the village.  I can't ignore it, yet to face the king is treason!"

"I will marry him."

"What did you say?  After what he has done to you, you dare to say this?  How do you know that this is his desire?  You can't just ride up to a king and propose!"

"I know his eyes have been on me in the way a man looks at a woman.  I went too far in my teasing him with that taunt.  I must ask him to forgive me."  Matilda was determined.

"Are you sure, daughter?  It could be your undoing if you are wrong.  You could be laughed out of the kingdom."

"I am sure.  Perhaps, I may be more bold than his own mother."

"Well, bathe and put on your finest.  I will ride with you to find this king who pulls a girl's braids like a village boy.  May the Lord help us."

Matilda made sure her white horse was groomed until he gleamed.  She hoped the symbolism would not be lost on the king.  She wanted to be led through the front gates of the castle into his presence as his mother was.  Her head would be held high.  After all, she was no commoner.  She wound her glossy braids that normally fell down her back to her waist up on her head with strands of pearls interwoven.  Her dress was to be white as well and trimmed in ermine and gold thread.  When she reentered her father's study, he was taken aback.  His little girl was a vision of loveliness.  He knew this would not be lost on his virtuous king.

"I do not believe William will spurn your apology, Matilda.  No man would, not even a king."  He took her on his arm and led her out of his home.

William watched them approach from his hunting grounds and rode ahead to meet them in his castle.  He dressed in his finest, laying aside his vestments of war.  He would apologize to the girl's father, and hopefully would not have to speak to the lady.  He still didn't trust himself with his emotions concerning her.  She stirred him as no other.  He thought that in his room, but found deeper emotions than he had ever felt when he saw her ride through the gates on a white horse dressed all in white.  His eyes met hers.  There was no taunt left, yet no humility.  She was a young lady who knew what she was doing to his heart unapologetically and returned his look evenly with hers. In spite of her small size, he was conquered.

The king walked up and lifted her gently down off her horse.  His hands could span her tiny waist.  She was as fragile as a bird.   He felt like a giant, nay, an ogre beside her.  Then she smiled.  He was a lost boy, an orphan with a mere kingdom to offer her.  He paid no heed to her father's apology, only found his forgiveness in her eyes. 

"As for the other day..." he began.

"I'm sorry," they both said practically in unison.

William's laughter filled the court yard, and her father wiped the sweat from his brow.  Matilda knew that the two of them would be as the priest spoke of in Scripture," as iron sharpens iron."  Sparks might fly, but they would find strength in each other.  She was a girl in love.  Matilda would keep her braids tightly wound up under a crown as queen of his castle though: no more braid pulling.  She would make him promise.  Later, she would wear them tucked under another crown as the first Queen of England.

So is the love story of my 29th great grandparents*.
(Harpers through Captain's wife Sarah)

"Iron sharpens iron, so one...sharpens another."
Proverbs 27:17



Wednesday, August 28, 2013





 The Dark Horse at the Castle Peverel

  The following love story has been passed down through the centuries, since the 11th century to be exact.  It probably was embellished by bards until written down in the 13th century in French, "The Romance of Fouke le fitz Warine," otherwise known as Guarine or Warine de Metz or the English version, Guy le Strange.

In the days of William the Conqueror, at Castel Peverel in the Peak of Derbyshire, England, William Peverel*, arranged a huge gathering of knights for a jousting tournament.  The victor would win the fair hand of his niece Mellette.  Owen Prince of Wales was there and Eneas, Prince of Scotland as well along with two hundred knights.  The Duke of Burgundy brought three hundred of his knights.  Ydromor, Prince of Galloway merely brought one hundred and fifty knights while the Duke of  Brittany's son only brought one hundred knights and his nine brothers.  Here is my version of the story. (*Some say this William was the son of William the Conqueror from a secret wedding before he wed Matilda.  He was a favorite of the King and given much land for fighting beside him.)

Mellette wept and begged her aunt to no avail.  "Please, I am begging you, do not give me away as the prize to the tournament.  If men's lives are lost in the jousting, as so many will be, I do not want to be the cause.  It is rather their hearts I would judge to find a fitting suitor, not their prowess in armor."

"It is the amour of armor,"  she quipped.  "Of course, it will go on.   It has been heralded all over England and Scotland.  I hear the son of Johan Count de la Petite-Bretagne is coming across the channel for the challenge.  Call it off?  I hardly think so.  Isn't it so much better than war, giving our fighting men a chance to prove themselves off the battlefield?"

Mellette knew there was no hope in changing anyone's mind in the Castle Peverel. William the Conqueror had built castle after castle across the land in his conquests and had given her uncle's family this castle as well as a hundred other manors for fighting alongside him.  This tournament was a ploy to keep the fighting factions united in the test of their skills.  It just did not seem fair to barter her away as the victor's spoil.  Perhaps they were more interested in the lovely white towers of Whittington Castle in Shopshire, her dowry, than in her as a maiden.  She knew that William the Conqueror and Matilda had an uncommon marriage of love.  Not many nobles were as noble. The young girl pondered her future.


When Uncle William entered, he smiled upon her young beauty, unspoiled by any introductions prior to this into society.  She reminded him of a young filly with her nostrils flaring and her beautiful mane of hair flowing down her back.  Mellette's dark intelligent eyes snapped with spirit, even a little of rebellion at being broken.  He shook his head realizing she was addressing him. 

"Uncle, I am aware that I cannot stop the tournament, nor may I back out as the prize, but I would ask that you hear me.  Sire, no knight is there in all the world that I would take for the sake of riches and
the honour of this land, but if ever I take such a one, he shall be handsome and courteous and accomplished and the most valiant of his order in all Christendom. Riches I make no account for truly can I say that he is rich who has that which is heart desires."

Her uncle threw back his head and laughed heartily.  Mellette wanted to stamp her foot in anger.
"Yes, he will be very rich who has his heart's desire in you, m'lady."  He lifted her chin with his finger until her dark eyes looked up into his blue.  "You must say your prayers that such a man survives the jousting. It is in God's hands who has the honor of taking your hand  And be careful of what you say.  The King William the Conqueror was not squeamish about taking riches and the honour of this land to lay at your grandmother's feet.  I cannot instruct a victorious knight in his good looks, but perhaps I will instruct him to be courteous.  Is that fair enough?"

"Yes, sire.  Thank you for hearing me.  You know if it was up to me, I would not leave Castle Peverel and your side."

"That is why your dowry includes the Whittington Castle so you will not be far away.  Go, I'm sure your aunt has a dress all picked out for you to wear.  A glimpse of you will make the weakest rise to the challenge, and the strongest, even more valiant.  You may not understand this, little darling, but a man's heart can be moved by a woman even more than by wealth or fame."

"I see more otherwise than not, I'm afraid.  Not many have family harmony as you and aunt do.

"Do not be afraid.  You will take a brave spirit into your marriage and that is enough to make any man tremble.  The right man will prove true.  You will see.  It is no small thing to win the hand of a knight who has triumphed over all the others. It is a privilege not given to any other maiden in the kingdom.  I am determined you will only have the best."

Mellette left her uncle deep in thought while his eyes followed her prayerfully.

She was escorted between her aunt and uncle out on the porch to wave to the visitors.  There were tents and horses in make-shift corrals as far as she could see.  The afternoon sun was shining off armor in every direction as their banners waved with colorful coats of arms. This evening a fine banquet was planned at which she would formally be introduced to the most noble of the gathering, princes, and barons.   It was not peaceful inside the castle or out.  However, she had never known such excitement.  It was a tremendous gathering, the strength of many lands here at Castle Peverel all competing for her hand.  Such overwhelming thoughts made her tremble.  She could rejoice in the celebratory atmosphere if she didn't know that it would be a bloody scene upon the morrow, a fight to the death for many.  She hoped that most would only fall from their horses without grave injury to give way to the winner without loss of life.

The dinner was the most sumptuous ever served.  She knew not how many cattle, sheep, deer, and pigs were slaughtered for their entertainment, but it had to be more than ever before.  After her uncle's speech, she would be required to stand in front of all of their eyes to be presented as the prize.  She hoped none would be so presumptious as to laugh contemptuously at her, a girl barely at an age to even begin to think of marriage.  Mellette was curious enough to want to see the faces of the men who might become her betrothed, but did not know if she would have the courage to meet their stares.  She listened as her uncle welcomed them and made the introductions.  Her eyes were on her untouched  plate of food.  Suddenly, he was propelling her to stand at his side. 

"And this is the lovely lady Mellette."

A solemn silence descended upon the room.  Not a fork scraped against a plate as all eyes looked at the fair maiden before them as a vision.  With a deep breath, Mellette lifted her eyes to search the room.  She was surprised to not feel leered at but was reverenced as a symbol of all that was good in  womanhood as she stood before them.  They truly were knights of honor.  She smiled and a dimple sunk in the corner of her pink cheeks.  The room erupted as all leaped to their feet to cheer her in a deafening charge of which she was at command.  She curtsied and found her seat with shaking hands as the gentlemen seated themselves upon her example.  She could not hear what her uncle was finishing saying as her head was swimming with the cacophony.  She looked up briefly and was caught in the gaze of a man with dark hair and blue eyes, an unusual combination.  He must be from Brittany she thought.  He smiled broadly and nodded his head and flourished his hand as a slight show of gallantry.   She found her own smile escaping to match his before her uncle called her attention away.

"Mellette, I would like to introduce you to Owan, Prince of Powys, and Eanos, Prince of Scotland.  This is Yrdromor, Prince of Galloway, and may I present to you the Duke of Burgundy."  The men were bowing low and kissing her hand.  She looked at each one searchingly as if prying into their souls.  Her uncle went on as the men kept presenting themselves before her.  "And this, excuse me sir, I did not catch your name,"

"I am Garine de Metz, son of Johan, count de la Petite-Bretagne, and these are my brothers."  He spoke in a voice heavy with accent but enchanting.

It was the knight who had caught her eye, the one with dark hair, blue eyes, and the broad smile which was still boldly capturing her own.  He held her hand long after kissing it, and she did not take it away. 

"It will be my pleasure to win the hand of such a fair maiden.  I would not expect less from the realm of Queen Matilda of England as well as Normandy.  I was expecting beauty, but you have taken my breath away."  He spoke softly as if only to her.

Finally Mellette remembered to withdraw her hand from his but kept her eyes on the strange fellow as he stood aside to let his nine brothers also kiss her hand.  His brazen smile never left his face as if confident of victory.  Finally, she blushed and turned her head away to find another kissing her hand whose introduction she had totally missed.

When her hand was practically slick from so many kisses, she wiped it with the table cloth discreetly  while asking her uncle, "Did you not know the stranger, the son of the count de la Bretagne?"

"No, we have never met before.  I'm not sure how he found out about this, but he is not disqualified from jousting.  Some are calling him Guy le Strange since no one else knows him either.  They brought the fewest knights with them, so he will have to battle more than the others once his men under him are eliminated.  I don't think he can outlast the Welsh or the others who like the Duke of Burgundy have brought three hundred knights."

Mellette scowled at the thought of the Duke of Burgundy.  "The Duke is too old for jousting.  I don't believe he can last as long as the younger men."

Her uncle laughed.  "I am sure he is thinking the same thing.  That is why her brought so many knights along with him.What of the Prince of Wales or the Prince of Scotland?"

"They have been fighting since they were knee high to a knight.  I'm not sure if they could ever be weaned off war long enough to make a home happy."

Her uncle's laugh made a low rumble.  "I see you are checking them quickly off your list.  What of the Prince of Galloway."

Mellette blushed.  I did not like the way he looked at me.  He did not seem to see me, but a piece of flesh to be devoured."  She inadvertently shivered.

Her uncle huffed.  "Better say your prayers then, dear Mellette. that the best knight will win your fair hand."

After the dinner, the troubadours entertained the crowd while her aunt and uncle mingled.  The ladies in waiting kept themselves busily surrounded by a mass of admirers, but Mellette slipped away.  One especially saw her go and smiled saying under his breath, "Tres jolie, la petite mademoiselle!"  He also turned in early.  At least he could have an edge over the others who wasted their strength in wine and late hours. 

The next morning the fog was burning off early as the trumpets sounded the first competition.  Mellette sat between her aunt and uncle on the platform with the best view of the tournament.  The tender heart knew she would be wounded over and over again seeing men killed, maimed and injured.  She concentrated on the beauty of the horses, magnificent mounts covered in flowing, showy robes trimmed to impress.  She could not help but plug her ears and look away as men fell under terrible blows.  Tears fell unchecked down her cheeks, but her aunt and uncle did not notice so enraptured by the sport. 

She looked for the stranger, but did not see him all morning..  After a lunch at a table groaning with food, they took their seats again.  Her aunt dozed in her chair next to her while the ladies in waiting chatted and flirted with every knight who rode by hoping to gain attention.  It was a surreal party in which blood ran and the groans of the injured jarred her mind.  Another feast awaited them that evening, but some of the shameless banter had fled and left a weary pall on the scene.  Mellette's eyes roved the room and settled on a pair of blue eyes. He bowed slightly and smiled only with his mouth while his eyes were intensely searching hers.   She finally had to break away and speak with the guests at her elbow.

The next morning, Mellette sat on the edge of her seat.  She saw the black steeds and caught her breath.  The stranger would be next.  He rode up to the platform and smiled confidently as if he was going to church instead of a fight to the death.  Mettlette wrung her gloves in her hands and suddenly threw one to him.  He caught it, kissed it, and tucked it into his tunic by his heart.  His eyes took on a determined metal as he entered the arena.

Mellette's fingernails dug into her own palms as she made nervous fists with her hands.  She could not avert her face.  She did not know she had held he breath until it was over.  Guy le Strange was the victor.  He would live to fight again.  She saw he was merciful to his conquest.  She waved her other glove as he rode before the platform to the applause. 

Her uncle looked over at her and said, "Me thinks you think he is quite the handsome and most courteous one of all, my dear.  If so, I wish him well in his next contests. "

Finally, days later, it was late afternoon with the sun glaring on the field when the last two faced each other.  The signal flag fell and Mellette was on her feet with her heart in her throat.  Her stomach was so sick, she did not know if she could quell its queasiness.   The horses hooves pounded and men in armour matched weapon to weapon at a full ride.  The sun blinded her for a moment and she couldn't be sure, but yes, it was Guy le Strange who was victorious.  He was her knight in shining armor.  She had placed her prayers on the dark horse and won.  This time he pulled his helmet off and held it under his arm as he slid off his horse in front of the platform surrounded by the cheering crowd.  His black hair was damp with sweat and  plastered in long waves against his face, but he only had eyes for her, and she, him.  Her uncle did not have to lead her down the steps.  She ran.  He knelt before her with his head bowed and his sword across his chest.  Then Sir le Strange captured his prize and kissed the fair maiden. 

"Faint heart never won fair maiden."
Way to go great x28 great granparents ago! 
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised...
And if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.'
 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction,
but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul."
Hebrews 10:35-36, 38,39

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When Eleanor and Mary de Bohun were young girls, their father died.  They became very wealthy co-heiresses while still children.  Their wealth included the Fitzalan Arundel Castle.  After Eleanor married Thomas of Woodstock,  he devised a plan for he and his wife to receive all the wealth by putting little Mary in a convent though still a child.  Thomas' brother John of Gaunt stole her away from the convent and planned to save her for his son Henry Bolingbroke as a bride.  He planned to have them wait until she was sixteen; however, the young couple  fell in love and were soon married at the castle.  Henry not only robbed the convent but robbed the cradle!  She was what you could truly call a child bride.  Her first son, born when she was merely fourteen, died.  Later she had six more children dying in childbirth with her last daughter, Philippa.  Henry Bolingbroke became Henry the IV after her death taking the throne from Richard II.  Earlier Thomas Woodstock, who we know was not above putting little girls in convents in order to steal their inheritance, led a rebellion against Richard II.  He was imprisoned and mysteriously died there being smothered by a feather bed: a feather bed in prison, hmm.  Mary died before becoming the Queen of England.  Her son, Henry the Prince of Wales, became Henry the V of England following his father.  Here is a fictionalized account of Mary and Henry's story. 

The girl had tried to pretend that she did not hear her sister's maid. But alas, her name was being called it seemed from every corner of the castle yard.  She could not even find refuge among the stables. 
"I'm here.  What does my sister want now?  Is it more lessons from the priest?"   Her sister Eleanor and her brother-in-law Thomas seemed unbending in their desire that she join a convent.  She was being tutored by a priest hardly allowing time for the young girl to think for herself.  If all men were as strong-willed and greedy as Thomas, Mary was beginning to think it would be a decent refuge from the worthless world of the wealthy.  Her father's riches had not bought him more years of family pleasure; instead, a power struggle resulted in his early death.  Even her mother was more caught up in seeking revenge than in loving her daughters.  Now her sister's husband, when not waging war for the King, was involved with other nobles in intrigues against the King.  Sometimes they forgot Mary had ears and assuming she lacked the intelligence to understand the plottings she overheard in the drawing room or around the dining table.  Fortunately, the Castle Arundel was large and she could snatch a few moments hidden away before being found, like now.
"Your sister is desperate for your presence.  I've been run ragged trying to rout you out from wherever it is you stash yourself away.  They have company, and you are wanted at table for dinner."
Mary sighed and followed the servant obediently back across the courtyard to go to her room to dress for company.  She had not noticed their arrival, but now saw a pair of sleek mounts being walked by the groom after evidently being ridden hard, still flecked with foam.  The horses would be cooled down, fed, watered and groomed while their owners were at the table.  According to the color and designs on their saddle blankets, the guest was probably Thomas' older brother John of Gaunt.  Mary couldn't help wondering if his son Henry would be with him.  When that young man had visited before, his eyes followed her everywhere.  She didn't know whether to be complimented or annoyed by the unwanted attention.
Of course at dinner, she was seated across from this Henry Bolingbroke.  Behind his back, she called him Henry the bowlegged bloke.  She hardly dared to look up from her food for nearly always his eyes met hers.  However, when she looked towards the adults she saw her brother-in-law Thomas glaring at her.  It did not take anything to stir up his displeasure with her, but she had no idea what brought it about this time.  At times like this, her sister Eleanor would not meet her eyes.  Only his brother John smiled warmly at her.  Mary could not help but notice that Henry was becoming as handsome and nearly as tall as his father.
As soon as her sister rose to leave the table she did likewise and escaped outdoors.  This time she slipped outside the castle wall and took the familiar path to the old ruins.  At one time her mother's people, the Welsh,  had ruled this part of the kingdom.  This had been an ancient Welsh castle until William the Conqueror had driven them out.  Nothing made her happier than to be wrapped in the quiet of the ancient walls.   
Her sister had been more like a mother to her until her husband Thomas ruled his wife with an iron fist.  It was as if she had lost a mother as well as a sister, a double grief.  Mary as usual was trying to sort this through when she heard footsteps on the path.  She stood frozen against the cold stone wall.
A low laugh greeted her.  It was Henry.  She had never been alone with him and looked for a way to escape. 
"Don't run away again, little Mary.  I won't hurt you.  I'm just as happy to escape Thomas' company as you are, I believe."
"You are?"
"Yes, my father has come to try to talk some sense into him once again, but he is as bull-headed as ever.  The man is as power hungry as any man alive, probably more than the King himself."
"Unfortunately, he has completely conquered my sister Eleanor as well."
Henry looked at her sharply.  Perhaps the girl was not as childish and easy to be manipulated as he and his father had been led to believe.  "So you are alone here against the world I see.  I guess it is off to the convent with you.  I'm assuming this is not every girl's dream, so I venture to say it is being forced upon you." 
Mary sighed.  There had been no one else who had ever seen events from her point of view.  She looked more closely in this Henry's face and saw true concern.  The tears were very close to the service now.  "There is no use in fighting it.  The decision has been made for me.  At least I won't have to live here under his thumb anymore."  She disolved into weeping.
Henry walked over and put his arms around her as the sobs came.  He did not speak, but only held her until she quieted. 
"I'm so sorry.  I have never let anyone see my tears before.  Please forgive me."  Mary wiped her face with her sleeve as she backed away embarrassed at his embrace. 
He only cocked his head and smiled at her and said, "I would not be any kind of gallant gentleman if I walked away from a damsel in distress."  Then he became somber, "I truly am sorry for your predicament.  I know for a fact that my father is trying to talk sense into Uncle Thomas right now concerning you."  He blushed and looked away as he said, "His opinion is that it would be better to wait just a few years until you are of marriageable age and can come into your own."
Mary laughed bitterly, "That is the last thing Thomas desires.  He wants what is mine as well as what Eleanor has brought into the marriage.  It makes him one of the wealthiest men in all of England.  No, he will never consider that.  He has decided I am to live my life in a convent and is making my life so miserable to make me want to escape there away from him."
Henry's eyes seemed to rest so compassionately upon her that she felt her heart flip.  Mary knew she might cry again so she began talking.  "All of England's history has been about a struggle for power, the Welsh, the English, the Vikings, the Romans, the Irish, the Scotts and the nobles and the kings.  William the Conqueror took this castle away from the Meredith, Prince of Powys and gave it to the Fitzalans.   It's always about the power.  Even my mother is bloodthirsty with revenge for her brother killed in battle.  It makes me think that the convent won't be so terrible after all, to get away from it all," she shrugged taking a shaky breath.
"I would like to think that if I were king like my grandfather, I would be different.  But if you have power, there is always someone who wants to take it away from you.  It is difficult for  a king to trust who is his friend and  who is his foe.  It keeps changing. And of course, there is always the call of God to fight for Truth."
Mary gasped, "Are you in line for the throne?  If so, I would watch out for Thomas."
Henry threw back his head and laughed.  "No, I am not in line, thank God.  My grandfather was King Edward, but there are many before me.  But you are right: it's hard to know if even your family can be trusted."  Then more seriously he added, "However, dear Mary, I hope that you would always feel that you could trust me."
Once again he had his arms around her.  As she lifted her face up, the kiss he intended for her forehead seemed to natural fall softly on her lips.  They both backed away surprised. 
"I beg pardon, Miss De Bohun. I hope you do not think me too forward.
Mary's fingers rested on her lips as if to feel the kiss still upon them  They hid the smile blooming there until she said with a twinkle in her eye, "I suppose if I was to be kissed, it had better be in a hurry before I am off to the convent."
Henry's eyebrows shot up as his eyes grew bold.  Grinning, he offered, "Well, perhaps I might sneak in another before the gate has been locked behind you."
Mary felt warmed by his kisses as well as the first sympathy she had felt from anyone in her young life.
A shrill whistle called him away, yet he lingered squeezing her hand gently.  "Remember, dear Mary, you have a friend.  Remember me in your prayers, as I will pray for you."
Then he went running to the castle gate where his father waited on his horse with Henry's mount pawing the ground beside him.  He waved, then was gone.
Mary did not know how she could feel more alone, but she did.  The moments with Henry had put a longing in her heart that ached more than before he came. 
She hung her head down as she made her way back to the castle.  Once inside the girl could hear her sister and Thomas in a heated discussion behind the drawing room door.  She was going to walk by quickly until she heard her name being spoken.
"Mary is too young to be sent away from me." It was her sister's voice.
"She is not too young to obviously have caught my nephew Henry's eye.  My brother is desirous of making a marriage pact for them.  If we don't send her away to the convent soon, she might become too difficult to manage about it.  I will take her first thing in the morning."
"But if she refuses?"
"No one refuses me!  She will go."
Mary knew he was right.  She could not refuse him.  She sighed and touched her lips again knowing she would cherish those kisses for all her lonely life. 

Though there was no overt tenderness toward a little girl committing her life to serving Christ in a convent, she clung to any warm glance and the slightest of smiles that might come her way. She spent her days devoted to the contemplation of Scriptures and to prayer, that is, when she wasn't doing the most menial of tasks assigned her. Mary truly loved God, and knew He loved her.   Even the music, as somber as it was, calmed her.  She was the youngest and newest one there though and felt she was making mistakes constantly.  They seldom talked to her never wasting an idle word.  She missed some of the more sumptuous dishes served at their richly laden table at the Castle Arundel, but did not miss much else, only the "might have been" of dreams.  Solitude had been her long time companion.  The child managed to keep from having her hands slapped as much as possible.
She had received a cryptic letter from Henry and read it everytime she was alone in her room.  "Remember to pray, Mary.  You have a true friend waiting for you."  It was all he wrote.  Did he mean God was waiting to hear her prayers, or was he somehow waiting?  Waiting for what?
She did not know what he meant until late one night she was summoned to the common room.  The young girl did not even take the time to put on her sandals.  "I must have done something wrong and will be disciplined," she thought anxiously.  Upon seeing John the Gaunt standing there, she was thrown into confusion.  "Has something happened at home.  Is my sister alright?"
He came over encasing her cold hands in his large warm ones.  "Little Mary, everyone is fine.  I was just in the area and begged to be able to see you so I could carry word to Eleanor that you are well.  I see you are except perhaps not eating enough."  She felt him press some paper into her hands and close her fingers over it.  She wondered why he would bring her money since she had no use for it in the convent.  He did not stay long under the stern eye of the nun.  Mary did not look at the paper until she was back in her room with her candle lit.  It was a note.
"Dear Mary, Will you let us help you escape?  I cannot rest until you are here with me.  My father has said he will shelter you until you are of age to be married, to me, of course.  I offer you more than your freedom.  I offer you my heart.  Actually, you have had it since our first kiss.  There is an empty wine barrel by the gate at the back wall. We told the convent we are giving them a new full barrel and will make the exchange when we feel you are safely inside the empty one.  Throw a stone over the wall when you are ready.  Hurry.  Be brave.  Love, Henry"
Mary could hardly breathe as she read it over again quickly.  Her eyes swept her room. She had come with nothing, and had nothing to bring with her now, but her heart.  She blew out her candle.  Quietly she slipped out of her room and crept down the hall feeling along the wall in the dark.  Her foot wacked a stool which seemed to ring out loudly against the tiles.  She hardly dared to breath, but tried to hurry on.  The doors were never locked, so she let herself out into the moonless night.  Finding the empty barrel on its side, she crept in backwards, before realizing she forgot to throw a stone for a signal.  She unfolded enough for her hand to feel the hard packed dirt until she found a handful of gravel to throw.  It skittered along the wall so softly, she was afraid it might not be heard.  Just as she was about to try again, she heard the back gate squeak open and a two men huffed evidently carrying the heavy barrel of wine.  Soon Mary felt herself being lifted like in a dream and being gently set into the back of a wagon cushiond with hay. The smell of hay had never been sweeter.  She heard the stomp of impatient horses.  "Get-up," was the only word spoken and she was running away from the convent.  Her heartbeat seemed to reverberate in the barrel so that she felt light-headed with the smell of the wine saturating the wood. 
"Mary!"  It was Henry's anxious whisper.  Are you alright?  We will let you out with a few more miles behind us."
"Yes...thank you."
He laughed.  His father laughed with him.  Mary giggled choking back happy tears.
Mary was feeling a little seasick from the rocking of the barrel.  Once it practically rolled across the wagon bed and she almost screamed. 
"I can't wait any longer, Father!"
She heard Henry climbing into the back as his father slowed the horses   Mary tried to climb out, but found her legs were asleep cramped under her.  Henry lifted her out and held her in his arms.  She threw her arms around him as her legs were still asleep.  Nothing had ever felt better in her life. She laughed and cried.  His kisses were salty sweet as well.  Mary finally slept nestled on the hay protected in his arms, happier than she had ever been in her life.  No riches could ever have made a better bed than the back of that wagon in the hay riding to a future with Henry. 

"Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today..."
Ruth 14
A beautiful love story told in the Old Testament is of Ruth and Boaz.  David did not have to go back very far in to find them in his lineage.  Ruth was a foreigner, a young widow who followed her mother-in-law back to Israel.  Boaz is a picture of Christ as our kinsman-redeemer.  He looked out for the lovely Ruth.  As she gleaned in his fields, he offered his protection and commanded that extra be left for her.  Finally, he offered her his heart and hand, redeeming her out of her destitute situation and taking her to himself with all his ability to love and care for her.  Christ has done this for us, His bride, the church.  This is why Mary and Henry's love story is so touching as he rescued her from a forced cloistered existence after she had been robbed of her family and inheritance.  Mary is related to my relatives as her mother was a Fitzalan of Arundel Castle.




Monday, August 26, 2013


Sometimes we need an advocate...Though last year was a positive experience in many ways, our youngest just can't hang in the mainstream classroom.  He was slipping further and further behind, feeling worse and worse about himself.  He has not progressed at even a snail's pace  since third grade though now in sixth. (Sadly, because of his birth mother, he was a drug/alcohol baby.)  We will be enrolling him back in the "special day," class where he was happily enrolled before.  It's okay if he is not a shining star academically as long as he can make progress even at turtle speed, even if it is only in his attitude.  If he is happy in school, we are happy, happy, happy.  The poor boy couldn't articulate his stress, but fortunately we could tell by his acting out that he was in distress and became his advocate.  I appreciate a teacher who honestly agreed that his needs could best be met elsewhere.  School choice is a wonderful thing.  One size does not fit all.  At the dinner table when my husband asked him how he felt about going back to his old classroom, he responded with a huge Cheshire Cat smile with his dinner all over the place on his face.

Lincoln had very little formal education.  One of his school was called a "blab school," where everyone was encouraged to recite their lessons out loud all at once.  It could be heard a mile away!
He may not remember his multiplications table, but he knows more about WWII than I do,
and perhaps more about the Civil War than you do!
He may never qualify to enter the military,
but his desire is to serve, to protect and defend our freedom.

Fortunately, his brother has transitioned well into high school and loves it!  God is good.  We have gone from one charter school to homeschool to hospital-home school to public middle school with bullying to another charter school and finally to high school.  Now He's a Marysville Indian!  "Every path has its puddles," but you can "be a rainbow in someone else's cloud." Be your child's advocate.

One granddaughter had a very tough year in kindergarten.  Thus, her mother is homeschooling her this year.  Grace is a bright bulb, as in pulsating neon, and is now able to zip through her work without being bored.  Homeschooling is ticking her box, singing her song, all the lights are on and she is home!  However, she is socially shy.  She is so afraid that people will find out that she is homeschooled and says, "I want to be homeschooled, but I just don't want the world to know about it!"  Shh, don't tell her I told you.  My other grandchildren are in regular school, a charter school, and three are home schooled.  There's no cookie cutter education in our family.

I doubt Jesus stumbled too much in Sabbath school since he was found teaching the rabbi in the temple in Jerusalem at about the same age as my youngest. Yet Scripture says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  Hebrews 4:15-16   Did He ever feel stupid, feel like He couldn't fit in?  I imagine setting aside His godhood for humanity had its own unique difficulties for a growing boy.  I don't know what His weaknesses were, but I do know He is sympathetic with ours.  We can approach God with confidence, for grace in times of need.  Sometimes we do feel vulnerable and needy.  It's okay.  He has mercy to help us. He is our advocate.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

More of "24/6" by Matthew Sleeth, M.D.

"Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest..."
Isaiah 56:2 

When I was teaching high school Sunday School in Oregon years ago, I was honored to have a class of very gifted students.  One young man dreamed of becoming a navy seal, and he became one.  Another one was a young man who was being raised by his sweet grandmother on social security.  While playing on the varsity baseball team, his name was often in the paper as a star athlete. However, one Sunday I was surprised to see him.  I knew his team was in an out of town weekend tournament. This fine Christian young man made a choice few others would have.  He chose to put God first in his life regardless of the consequences to his athletic career.  That was a humbling Sunday lesson for me to teach to one who was facing discipline for keeping the Sabbath.  Last I heard, God has continued to lead and bless his life.

"The word 'holy' first occurs in the second chapter of Genesis.  The seventh day is blessed as holy because the Lord stopped and rested."  "The three R's of Sabbath: rest, renewal, and reverence."
"Sabbath keeping is nothing less than grabbing onto the robe of the Maker of the Universe.  As you approach the Sabbath, a measure of awe is in order."  "It is a part of heaven and a glimpse of God."  "Sabbath is like a redeemed holiday (holy day) fifty-two times a year.  It is a time to rejoice and celebrate."  "24/6 is not about working hard and playing hard.  It is about working hard and stopping."  Sabbath is a time to transition from human doings to human beings.

"Be still, and know that I am God."
"Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don't pursue your own interests  on that day
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord's holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in every thing you do on that day,
and don't follow your own desires or talk idly."
Isaiah 58:13
"I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me.  It was to remind them that I am the Lord, who had set them apart to be holy."
Ezekiel 20:12
"Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it rests in Thee."
Augustine of Hippo
"A world without a Sabbath is like a man without a smile,
like summer without flowers,
like a homestead without a garden.
It is the joyous day of the week."
Henry Ward Beecher
"The streams of religion run deep or shallow,
according as the banks of the Sabbath are kept up or neglected."
Matthew Henry
"The spiritual rest, God particularly intends in this Commandment,
is this: that we not only cease from our labor and trade,
but much more, that we let God alone work in us
and that we do nothing of our own with all our powers."
Martin Luther
"Do not let Sunday be taken from you.
If your soul hath no Sunday,
it becomes an orphan."
Albert Schweitzer


Saturday, August 24, 2013


An introduction: years ago I wrote a short children's fictional story about a little black girl named Ivy.  It was prophetic.  Unknown to me then, we have family through my gGrandmother Wise's side who are known as the Iveys who are sometimes listed as white, sometimes Mulatto, though probably  with a little Indian thrown in.  I pulled a name out of a hat for the fictional white family for whom they did laundry," the Logans."  Also, unknown to me then was that this is the Illinois State Attorney who prior to the Civil War indicted the most free blacks including the Iveys.  They were always acquitted though hauled into court for charges like larceny, riot, assault and battery, even assault with intent to commit murder.  They had to sell their farm and move from the state to avoid further charges.  To tell their story, I will use this same little girl in...

Patience sang in the yard with the birds while the breeze fluttered through this fine day like a butterfly on wing.

Her mama hollered, "Shoo, dog!  Git before you get dirt on Mrs. Logan's clothes, and then we all  be mad. I don't need no stinking dog smell after they come off the line smelling so fresh and sweet.  Now, scoot, Scoot!"

When Patience's mother was perturbed, nobody, not even their dog Scoot, better mess with her.  He slunk away with his tail tucked as she snapped a dish cloth his way.

Patience wished her mama didn't have to work so hard.  Sighing, she sang to her doll babies, wooden clothespins wrapped in quilt squares lad in a black cast iron corn pone pan cradle.  She was their little mother with a house made under the big pine.  Her floor was swept clean of needles.  Acorn cap and
saucers were neatly set on a flat rock table.  Her housekeeping had been a pleasure.  The only worry was getting the black iron pan back in the house before Mama missed it.  Last night it was corn bread and beans for supper.  Tonight was biscuits with coon stew, so her little babies could sleep a little longer. 

Patience knitted her brows pondering why housekeeping was so hard for grownups.  Her mama kept their house clean, cooked up their meals, grew a large garden, wove, dyed, and sowed their clothes and washed them every Saturday so they would have clean clothes on their freshly washed bodies for Sunday-go-to-meeting.  It was up to Patience to keep her simple dress clean the rest of the week or she wouldn't get the swat.  The child's mouth puckered working out her perplexities.  "It must be because Mrs. Logan has Mama help with her washing," she told her babies.  Then she puzzled, "But why doesn't Mrs. Logan help Mama do hers though?"  It was not enough to cloud the girl's thoughts for long as she returned to the sunshine task of tending her wooden babies. 

While Mary the oldest weeded the garden, the next-biggest sister Eliza Jane tended her baby brother Robert back in the cabin.  Mama always said that she dedicated her one and only son to serve the Lord.  She felt in her heart that he would be a fine preacher some day because he had a lot of practice growing his voice with all his hollering.  Then she would laugh and show the soft beauty shining forth from under the burdens she normally carried in the lines of her face.  Lucinda Ivey Sessions was radiant at such times as beams of happiness broke through the drudgery of her days.

"Patience, child, where are you?  At least, thank the Lord, you've kept out from under foot better than that meddling dog."

"Be right there, Mama."  Patience kissed her babies each one in their quilt blanket then ran to her mother.

"Are you feeling big and strong, girl?  I sure could use you to help me carry a basket of these clothes up to the Logan's place."

The child brightened.  "Yes, Mama.  I feel particularly strong today."  Her imagination allowed her play world and her mother's real world to get happily mixed up.  But by the time the pair reached the back door of the Logan's with their burden, Patience's thin arms and short legs were feeling very real.

Mrs.Logan's young daughter opened the door at their knock.  Instead of answering their polite greetings, the girl looked at them blankly and bellowed, "Mother, the laundry is here."

Patience hardly noticed her rudeness.  All she could see was the large china doll the girl was holding.  It was prettier than her mother's one cracked dish of flowered china, the one no one could touch.  The doll had painted on pale pink cheeks over pure white skin with blond curls and glass eyes of blue.  The eyebrows were like fine feathers.

Evidently the girl did not like Patience's eyes on her doll and glared back.  She tightened her hold as if to say, "Don't touch it.  Don't even look at it."  Suddenly Patience realized that her wooden clothespin babies would never grow up to be anything but clothespins.  Would she ever hold such a beauty?  It was the first time the laundry woman's daughter lost a little of her child life, her innocence.  To wonder was no longer just a flight of fancy, but a glimpse into the real world to question what she had never seen before.  She did not know there were people who would not like her, who thought she was different, not as good as them.  Patience looked down at her arms realizing they would never be snow white like that china doll.  The little girl was quiet all the way home as she walked along beside her tight-lipped mama.

While Mama fixed supper, her older sister Eliza Jane kept Patience busy painting with the left over dyes their mother had made from plants and berries.  Her mother had given her an old newspaper to paint on.  As she dipped her feather for another stroke across the page, suddenly too much water pooled, and the bright colors all ran together into a muddy brown.  She let out a cry of dismay.

"My stars, what's the matter, child?  You gave me a start."

Patience was crying harder now, more than a ruined picture's worth of tears.  Her mother handed over her stirring spoon to Mary and came and pulled her youngest daughter onto her lap cradling her curly head against her heart.  "Shh, shh.  You never cry, Patience.  What is this about?  Uh huh,.  Is it about that rude Logan girl you saw today?"  Patience nodded gulping down her sobs.

"You don't pay her no mind.  They may have nicer things than we do in our little cabin, but my girls have better manners and sweeter dispositions than that girl.  I wouldn't trade Mrs. Logan any of my gals for that chit any day of the week."

"Mama, how come I don't have the same color of skin as she does??  We all have different shades of skin in our house.  Baby Robert is the lightest.  Did you run out of dark by the time you had him?"

"Mary, pull that pot off the stove.  Your daddy will be home late from plowing the far field tonight anyway.  Gather around, girls.  Your mama is going to tell her little lambs about the Iveys.  The girls all sat around her on the bed as she began a story they had never heard.

Before I married your daddy, I was Lucinda Ivey.  The Iveys came from England before the Revolutionary War, before George Washington was our first President.  They settled over Virginia way.  George Ivey had a plantation with many slaves.  Some say they made their money in the slave trade.  However, one of his family fell in love with a person of color.  Mr. Ivey was brave enough to petition the government to allow for a white person to marry someone of a different color, but it was denied.  They couldn't make a law against love, so they got married as best they could and eventually some of the Iveys of mixed blood moved to North Carolina.  Down there were the Lumbee tribe and Tuscarora Indians.  Some of them were also mulatto like us.  We thought we Iveys could fit right in."

"What's a mulatto, Mama?"  Patience had heard the word, but did not know what it meant.

"It usually means a person of color and a white person had a child of mixed race.  But they aren't too particular in its use around here.  It could mean Indian blood too.  We have all three in our family.  That's why each of us is a little different shade of brown.  Sometimes some of us Iveys are listed "White" on the census, while others of us are listed as "Free Mulatto" or even "Free Negro." We have been free persons of color for as many generations as it takes to get back to that George Ivey, but some folks don't like people because of the color of their skin."

"Like that Logan girl?"

"Yes, Miss Patience, like her.  You can't blame her too much though, honey.  It's just how she's been raised."

"Why did the Iveys leave North Carolina?" asked Eliza Jane.

"Well, back in the South, there were a lot of folks who didn't like having  a Free Mulatto living by them.  They thought every person of color should be a slave.  They figured out that if they tied their mule to one of our trees or let their cows graze on our land, that they could charge us with theft, and the court would go along with it.  Then they could indenture us to work for them to pay it off.  Some just went on killing sprees to take our land."

"That's not right!  They were liars and thieves and murderers!" Eliza Jane shouted.

"That's why my folks and the Locklears moved up to Illinois to avoid those troubles.  But there are prejudiced people in every state.  Even in Illinois some white men pick fights just to cause trouble and blame the people of color.  They have accused our kin of riot and even assault with intent to commit murder.  They were acquitted-that means found "not guilty-on every account, but my folks sold our farm and moved away before more trouble could find us."

"Will they do that to Daddy?"  Patience worried aloud.

"Now, don't you borrow trouble, child.  He is listed as a white man on the census, though he is part Creek Indian.  Nobody's going to lock him up.  Your Aunt Sally and Uncle Conrad Shearod got arrested though along with the Dunkard minister who married them."

"Why?" Mary exclaimed.

"It is still against the law for someone of color to marry a white person.  The court found them not guilty even though Conrad is listed as a white man and your Aunt Sally is listed as a Free Mulatto or Negro.  I think the judge just took a look at her, and she didn't look any different than other tanned farm wives who worked out in their gardens. Our kinfolk Amos married a white woman and Joseph married Betsy Locklear who were our neighbors in Illinois and in North Carolina.  Like us, they have some white, some Indian, and some mulatto.  When I married your daddy, since we both had Indian blood, we got rounded up and sent out here to Arkansas where you all have been born .  Many did not survive that terrible trip when our homes were taken and we were forced to move.  It was worse for the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears who had to move to Oklahoma in the middle of winter."

"That's awful!" Eliza Jane cried with tears in her eyes.

"Yes, it is.  I'm afraid that things are so heated that some say a war is coming, the North against the South over slavery.  Unfortunately, many Iveys owned slaves themselves, even the mulatto and Lumbee Indian Iveys.  But, God can't be pleased when His children treat each other like this.  Someday, it will cost bloodshed, I'm afraid, to rid this world of the evil of slavery.  I don't expect that we will ever truly be free of prejudice though this side of heaven.  Until then, young ladies, we will hold our heads up high as the daughters of the King!"

"But look at my picture, Mama.  All the pretty colors ran together and made mud.  That's what made me cry.  Do I look like mud?"

"Miss Patience Sessions, let me tell you something.  Do you remember what the Bible says about the rainbow?"

"It is God's promise that He will never destroy the earth with a flood again."

"Yes, it is God's bow of gorgeous colors, His promise of love to His children.  But you know what happens when all those colors run together: they make brown.  Brown is the color of all God's promises put together.  Brown is beautiful.  You are beautiful!"

"So are you Mama, especially when you smile like that.  You are prettier than a china doll. I can hold you, and you won't break.  I love you," she said as she hugged her mother.

"I love you too, Patience, and all the shades of my children's skin, even my pale preacher boy baby Robert.  The Bible says, 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.'  (Ephesians 3:8)  Remember that, and never forget that's the Iveys are one big family of all colors poured into love."

1850 Scott County, Arkansas census: 
James A. Sessions, white; Lucinda Ivey Sessions, Mulatto; Mary E. Sessions, Mulatto; Eliza Jane Sessions, Mulatto; Patience P. Sessions, Mulatto; *Robert E. Sessions, Mulatto.  *Robert did grow up to become a minister as well as serving in the State Legislature.

*None of the pictures are of the Ivey family.