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Monday, November 30, 2015

 
How do you envision your home? 
 Is it picture perfect, magazine quality beautific? 
 
 
Is it a book lined heaven?
 


 
Or is it comfortable for P.J. wearers to skate across laminate floors in their socks
to act as human dust mops?  


 

Do you live under dog rule? 

 
Is it a chef's paradise?
 
 
Is your favorite place an Egyptian sheet dream bed to fall deeply in love with?  
 
 
 Does it have family-picture-plaster walls? 

One thing's for certain: I NEVER PLANNED FOR IT TO BE A VIDEO GAME FLOP HOUSE!  Sometimes as a parent I feel like we're only good for providing the internet which those hommies want even more than food.  It's exhausting to be on internet alert trying to keep it clean.



The only thing my first round of kids had in the way of electronic gadgets were pagers.  Before that record players.  We've come a long way in our years of raising kids, a far piece too far, if you ask me.  Try buying wholesome Xbox games.  The natives will only tolerate so many Lego game discs. 


I'm coming to believe that video games create tunnel vision.  Reality is barely in their peripheral vision, if at all.  Video game addiction can change brain function in the pleasure center as does other addictions.


Then I went to a youth talent show.  I heard awesome music sung and played by many young people.  It wasn't about the perfect body, or face, but about the voice and the spirit that made them beautiful.   Those on stage had no fear to sing, speak, act, or dance in front of a crowded venue.  The evening gave me hope that lives can be lifted above the slumped-shoulder-glazed-eye mediocre into excellence.  Somehow they have escaped the slide into video-game brains that stalk through life like zombies without earphones, I-phones, or controllers in their hands.  I'd like to bring those zombies back to life, if it's not too late. 


At least my young men in the house do have good taste in most of their music whether celtic bagpipes or haunting violins or Christian tunes.  When they are done with their games, they're good at finding it on you-tube to play on their Xboxes for us.  They are nice to the old folks like that still sometimes.  Music raises us up to a better place.  Yep, that's how I envision our home, melodic.

 
"Come before Him with joyful singing...
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And enter His courts with praise."
Psalm 100:4
 
Even God wants a little music in His house!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

As they say, "I'm O.C.D., Obsessive Christmas Disorder.  My favorite season is Christmas.  I love that Advent begins the last Sunday of November.  I'd be decorating if I had more energy.  Instead, as the near mountains are laced with snow, I want to bring you part of an old poem by John Milton,
 
"Hymn on the Nativity."


"It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe of him,
Had doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathise:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
 
Only with speechless fair
She woos the gentle air,
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden-white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
 
But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace..."

 

 
This meek-ey'd Peace was sent,
this child born in a stall,
exposed to the elements,
an infant given to a virtuous maid
wrongly cursed for her naked shame
to a world of polluted blame."

 
This babe was given not just to a young mother,
but this "holy thing begotten," was given to us all.
Hold out your arms, make room in your heart to love.

 
Let Him lie in your exposed soul,
so near your foulness.
 He comes so that your fears may cease
to bring you peace.
God holds one of His tiny hands,
 while his little fingers wrap around ours,
the very stretch of heaven:
fully God
fully man.
 

 
What a Father God He is,
 this very Lover of our soul,
entrusting us with His only begotten.
Others have been unkind. 
Some with murderous intent.
Do not harden you heart to Him.
Be tender. 
Be as vulnerable as He.
 
 
  


As you can see, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Nothing gets my asthma going like laughing hard.

"Let us come before His presence with Thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms."
Psalm 95:2

The shouting we did was laughter.


It was a good Thanksgiving though a little unique for us.  We had a strung out affair all through the day, sorta like a Thanksgiving open house.  The first batch came with lots of grandkids and a feast. 
Plates were sent to the fire station for those who were there to serve and protect our community.  It was eaten after they responded to a call.  After the first group left, we brought in extended family and reheated plates in the microwave. Then the last few dropped by with grandkids nodding off ready to sleep once they were buckled all snug in their car seats.  The topper was our eight year old grandgirl saying when called to the table, "Is that all there is to eat?" though every inch of the counter was filled with good things to be thankful for and savor. 

 
Sorry the picture is so blurry.  I was probably laughing.
I had to wait a long time for people to move on who did not want
to be in the picture gorging themselves.


We even played "Bible Blurt," a game I could participate in from my recliner.  I am known for an "I-don't-do-games," a reputation I have kept for almost thirty years.  How did they tease me into playing?  I was laughing so hard, they could not see my I-get-too-competitive-to-play-nicely-with-others attitude.
 
Oh, so you have relatives like this too?
(This person was not really in my home.)

There was to be a second Thanksgiving Friday for the rest of the combined family hosted at another home.  Instead, I spent the morning at the doctor's for possible bronchitis.  Me and perfume do not get along which sends my lungs into inflammation, perfume from some who rode in our car earlier in the week as well as those who overwhelmed the wonderful turkey smell with whatever it was they dabbed behind their ears.  Ever heard of perfume perfidy?  They were kind enough to wash it off.  I almost got by with a perfectly gf dinner, almost...Needless to say, it was not a good night.
 

This is why I am not out with the hoards for Black Friday shopping.  It's rather refreshing not to be driven to consume as a consumer so soon after consuming our Thanksgiving feast.  My man is going to an after Thanksgiving dinner tonight at a gathering of Christians-Across-Boarders.  He will bring the bread of life as well as a couple of pumpkin pies.  I'll be enjoying quiet at home watching Hallmark Christmas movies.



TENDER MERCY
A Christmas Story


Liza's life had more hard ups and downs than trotting like a youngster on her first pony ride.  It was quite jarring in fact.  First, her father was killed at Manassah while most of Washington had come out to watch as if it were a picnic.  Then her mother died of pneumonia last winter.  Coming to her uncle's had not been less traumatic.  It was his abolitionist activities in the Underground Railroad that had got him murdered, hung in the Sycamore tree in his own front yard.  Liza was the one who had found him there.  The shock had sent her screaming back to the house where she clung to her aunt not letting her go to see what was the matter.  His servant Josiah had to come to cut him down.  Nevertheless, her aunt had no heart to continue on at the farm and sold it to the neighbor and planned to move to her sister's.  So that left Liza alone.  What else was she to do?

They had been polite.  "Hello, Mr. Mason.  It is kind of you to consider me, however, I do believe we both need a little time to think this through, don't you?"

"Yes, Miss Hawthorne.  There's no need to rush to the altar.  But, let's not deceive ourselves.  Your aunt has agreed to sell me the farm as long as I see to your welfare.  If that leads to a marriage, she will hand over the deed.  In the meanwhile, I think it is best if you move to my home rather than stay there in an empty house."

"The servants Josiah and his wife Sukie are still here."

"Not a proper arrangement, Miss Liza.  It won't do.  You will be well chaperoned in my home with an abundance of help always around.  Unlike your aunt and uncle, we have many slaves to see to our needs.  I can offer you your own maid who can shadow you as much as you like or feel necessary to keep proprieties."

"That's not necessary, Mr. Mason.  My family has never felt it right to own another..."

"You'll see.  Our people are well taken care of and would be lost without our oversight.  It's a good institution of master and slave, mutually beneficial."

"I'll get my things together, then."  She knew he was not a man to refuse.

"Have your man Josiah bring them over.  I believe your aunt left her buggy in the barn as we agreed.
I'll leave you to it then and look forward to seeing you at supper."  Mr. Mason tipped his hat. 

He had every appearance of a gentleman, a southern gentleman, a slave holder, part and parcel with that awful institution.  Liza wondered what he thought of her uncle being hung just over the line between their properties.  It made her shudder to think of a man like that, the kind of man that looked the other way when good and godly men like her uncle were murdered in their own front yard for helping slaves escape to freedom up north.  Forbid the thought that he had been one of those with blood on his hands.  How could she marry such a one as this?

When her aunt left her to go to her sister's up north in Vermont, Liza had agreed to ponder acceptance of  this offer of marriage by their neighbor, Mr. Mason, Honor Mason.  She wasn't in love.  It was not the silly dream of romance of her girlhood, just survival.  A woman did not have many options when men were scarce off fighting in this dreadful war.  The South's economy was on the brink of disaster, and there were no jobs, especially for a female.  Thus, it was just a marriage of convenience on her part, arranged in truth by her aunt as part of the condition of the sale of the farm.  She supposed it was an act of kindness intended by her aunt, yet it felt like desperation to her.  Aunt Betsy made it abundantly clear that there would be no room in the home she would share with her sister up north.  She could not support a niece, barely two women alone.

Liza's Uncle Abram had been a good man. He reminded her of her father, his brother.  Her days had been spent shadowing him around the farm as her Aunt Betsy made it clear she was not welcome in her kitchen.  Besides that, they had help to do much of the work unlike the way Liza had been raised.  Josiah and Sukie were not slaves, but paid servants.  So, Liza became comfortable in the barn and around the horses and Josiah.

When Liza was growing up, everyone worked.  First her father went to enlist for the North.  Then her sister Jane got married to a southerner, while her brother went off to war to fight for the Union.  While Jane's husband had gone to fight for the South, she lived with her in-laws.  She wrote occasional sad letters.  No one had heard from Ethan her brother since he had enlisted.  That was troublesome.  Liza did not know if he was dead or alive, a prisoner of war or wounded.  It seemed she lived in only a shadow of the life she had once had. 

At least when she learned about Uncle Abram's work in the Underground Railroad, something in her heart started beating again, what was wounded and near death from grief.  Helping the escaped slaves had brought a purpose and excitement.  That daring had been dashed when slave hunters caught Uncle Abram transporting his "cargo," whipped him then strung him up. 

For a young woman promised to be married, she felt ill.  There was a constant knot in her stomach at the thought of being wed to the likes of Honor Mason.  He had paid someone else to take his place in the Confederate Army.  At first he seemed to be attentive and polite as the well trained Southern gentleman that he was, but the longer she was around him, the more evident it became that he had no principles, at least not Christian ones.  Scripture plainly stated that one should not be unequally yoked, but what was she to do?  It was bad enough that he liked his bourbon and whiskey, swore like a pirate, but then her eyes were really opened.  So she kept to her locked room taking breakfast there, skipping the midday meal while out walking with her maid shadowing her, and tried only to see him at the supper table.  At night she made sure her door was locked.

Her fiancé had never given her more than a quick peck on the cheek.  That was fine with her as repulsed as she was by the liquor on the man's breath.  But then there was the night she walked in on him with another woman, Miss Cornelia, in the study.  It did not matter that she had turned and walked away before she was noticed, but she had seen enough.  More than enough.  She had thrown up the rest of the night. The housekeeper sent for Miss Sukie to come see to her thinking she was coming down with something contagious.  But there was no fever.  Her shaking was from deep down in her soul.  Liza seriously thought about escaping with the next batch of runaways.  Maybe she could go to Canada with them.   But Liza knew she wasn't brave enough to refuse marriage to Honor nor to escape with the slaves.  She begged God to come and save her from her fate.

The soft knock on the kitchen door came when she was making tea in the kitchen. No one else was still up, so she answered the door.  Josiah stood there with his hat twisting in his hand. 

"Miz Liza, I don't know what to do."   He spoke in hushed voice.  "A batch of dem escaped slaves hab come.  I tried to tell 'em that your Uncle Abe were dead, kilt by the slave catchers, but they hab no where else to go and nothin' to eat.  My Sukie don't hab enough to feed so many.  One hab a sick chile.  I fear it won't lib through the night."

The stab of fear and daring once again sliced through her chest.  "Go home but meet me back here at midnight.  I'll try to gather up a little food, as much as I dare without being noticed gone, and you can take it back to where they are hiding.  They will have to go on alone.  I can't take them.  Someone has got to get the word out that we are no longer a station on the railroad though."  It broke her heart, but if she knew one thing, it was that she was not brave enough to do what her uncle had done.  She had seen what it looked like when someone dangled from a rope.  It would not be her.

"My Miz Sukie done took down the quilt, but they jest keep acoming. They got de hope that the war is goin' to change things, but not soon enough.  Freedom is jest pumping in their veins." 

So that night Liza crept down the stairs and made her way into the kitchen.  She lit a candle and begin piling food into a bundle.  That's when she first heard a chair scrape behind her and twirled around barely stifling a scream.

"Who are you?"


"You must be my brother's fiancé.  Are you planning a midnight picnic in the snow?"  He pointed to the evidence of the pile of food.

"Perhaps I was, but I've changed my mind."  Unfortunately, Josiah chose that moment to softly knock.

"Miz Liza, you got that food ready...?"  Josiah stopped and looked scared. 

"Here, Josiah.  And please tell your wife that I hope she feels better in the morning.  This ought to tide you over until she can start cooking again."  Liza was proud of herself for her quick thinking, even if it was a little white lie.  It was for a good cause.  People's lives were at stake if this stranger, or rather Honor's brother was to catch them helping the escaping slaves.

Josiah bowed and let himself out quickly but did not utter another word.

"And you must be Samuel, Honor's brother."  Liza turned but fought to keep the terror out of her voice. 

"Yes, and maybe I'm just a little sorry that I couldn't join you for a middle of the night picnic.  That would have been unique though a tad cold."  He winked.  "I got in too late for  the supper hour so you caught me foraging for a little food myself.  I take it that was your man from your aunt's place."

"Yes.  He and his wife Sukie are still there looking after things.  Servants, not slaves.  I think he is helpless in the kitchen if his wife is sick."  Another little white lie becoming a little more smudged all the time.  She forced her hands back to her side instead of chewing on her nails as she was prone to do in her nervousness.  She noticed then that she was in the kitchen with a stranger with her hair down while in her nightgown with only a shawl for modesty.  Her face blushed even more deeply.  "Goodnight, sir.  I will see you in the morning."  Liza escaped the kitchen brushing past him, but not without the face of the man seared into her mind.

Liza's knees hardly kept from buckling as she made her way back to her room.  That was too close a call.  What would the Mason brothers do if they suspected they were harboring runaways on what was now their farm.  Josiah's life would not be worth a Confederate dollar.  Her situation would be precarious as well.  Would they hang a woman for complicity?  And then of all things, this was her introduction to Honor's brother.  Would he tell his brother?   Liza would have to be very, very careful.

She thought of the man's face as he sat in near darkness.  His eyes wide with surprise were a sparkling blue, his unkept hair as dark as coffee.  But it was his lean features with a slight tug of a smile as if seeing humor at her expense that worried her.  Honor was of average height and build while his brother's lanky long legs crossed at the ankles stretched across the kitchen as he tipped back in his chair.   Was he as much a scoundrel as his brother?   Liza groaned, then fell beside her bed and begged God to spare her.  "Oh, and please help the slaves go on safely to their next destination."

The next morning, Liza took more care that not a hair was out of place and wore her most modest dress, which was not difficult to do as all her dresses were plain and black since she was still in mourning.  She went down to breakfast praying that she could keep from shaking, praying that Samuel would not tell his brother about meeting her in the kitchen last night.

She could have kept from worrying as the brothers were in a heated discussion as she entered the dining room. 

"I've given all the horseflesh I'm going to even if it is for the Southern Cause.  I can't farm the place without my work horses, and I insist on keeping my personal mount.  Then there's those I need for the buggy."

"I was sent to gather more horses for the army.  How would it look if I couldn't even get my brother to give any up for them.  It looks like you have at least three or more fine animals not to mention your work horses.  I can take them all, you know."

"You wouldn't dare."  The brothers were standing close, too close glaring at one another.

Liza cleared her throat, "Good morning, gentlemen."

They each took a deep breath and stepped back.  "Go ahead and take the matching sorrels.  They were Miss Liza's uncle's, his buggy horses.  I'm sure he would have been happy to donate to the cause if he were still alive,"  Honor said with sarcasm.

Liza did not like his smirch, but she went to the buffet to serve herself to some eggs and toast keeping her back to him.  She could not meet his eyes.  He knew good and well her uncle had not supported the war over slavery.  Liza did not belong here.  But where could she go?  She wanted to go north, but how?

After breakfast, Liza went out to the barn to say goodbye to her uncle's horses.  These creatures lives would be expendable.  It seemed such a crazy world when men died by the thousands, not to mention all the horses and mules lost in battle.  War was unspeakably horrible! 

"It's a shame, I know.  I'll try to find good horsemen for them."

"So you have to go back soon?"  She turned and looked up into his frank eyes which quickly lit with interest. 

"Thank you, Miss Liza, but yes.  War does not wait for a more leisurely pace.  I'm sorry for the terrible loss of your uncle.  He was my friend."

It was the first anyone had said a sympathetic word outside her aunt's household and brought tears to her eyes.  She blinked them back and could only nod her thanks swallowing hard. 

"He's not good enough for you, you know."

"Who..."

"You have no business ending up with someone like my brother.  You should get as far away as fast as you can."

Liza snorted unlady-like.  "And where would you suggest I go?"

"Far from here."

"And how is that possible?  Are we not at war?  I have no other family I can turn to."  Just saying that out loud made her feel like weeping.  Instead she stuffed it back down.

"If I hear of anything else, I'll send you word.  Stay away from my brother if you possibly can."

She nodded.  "I understand.  But I may not have any choice in the matter."

"A woman always has the choice."

"Maybe I can put on a pair of pants and go off and join the army," she said derisively.

He snorted.  "I don't think you could hide your pretty face under a Reb hat, Miss Hawthorne."  Then he looked her up and down and shook his head.  "Nope.  You'd never pass.  I'll ask around and send word to Rev. White's wife if I find anything."

"Thank you."  She dared once more to look into his eyes and did indeed see kindness and sincerity there, not ridicule as she feared.  Perhaps Samuel had his brother pretty well judged after all.

"Well, aren't we sweet staring into each other's eyes out here in the barn.  Don't you have somewhere to go, Samuel?"

Samuel tipped his hat to her and began readying her uncle's matched pair of horses for a ride.

Honor's fingers closed possessively around her arm, enough to leave a bruise she feared.  He jerked her away from her uncle's horses, and from his brother.  For goodness sake, he wasn't even telling his brother goodbye, as he was going off to war.  Not everyone returned from the war as she well knew.  She glanced back over her shoulder and hoped Samuel saw her sympathy.  He gave her a parting smile which she would treasure.  Smiles had been few and far between.

Before they walked into the house, Honor crushed her to him and pressed a hard kiss on her lips.  He was forcing more but she turned away.  He was worse than a dog marking his territory.  The kiss was all for show, making sure his brother would see she belonged to him.  He shoved her not so gently into the house.  She had to get away.  Liza did without dinner, spending the time in prayer and fasting.  As she was pleading with God, she got a persistent thought that perhaps she could reach out to her uncle's pastor, Rev. White afterall. 

Liza had not been back to that church since her uncle was murdered.  There were bullet holes in the door of the church.  The pastor held his Bible open with a pistol laid atop its pages as he preached.  The Wesleyan Methodist Church was not appreciated by a majority of the South.  One had to be brave to pass through its doors.  Liza was not that brave, especially after, well...

She knocked on the modest door of the parsonage the next morning bright and early.  The pastor's wife let her in looking around behind her as she shut the door.  "We can't be too careful."

"What can I do for you, Miss Hawthorne?"

"I need to leave here.  I can never marry a heathen like Honor Mason."  There she had said it.  Already she felt better.

"Hmm.  That will not be an easy task.  I think that Mr. Mason has trouble with letting go of anything, especially a fiancé."

"It's not official.  I have not given him an answer yet.  I just need a plan after I tell him, 'No.''

"Let me ask my wife for some ideas."  He motioned her over and explained the situation.  Their brows were furrowed as they put their heads together literally.  She was practically sitting on her husband's lap but was perched on the arm of his chair as they whispered to each other.  Liza had a stab of desire for that kind of relationship, the same kind her parents had. 

Suddenly, his wife gasped, "I've got it!  My sister's last letter that got through said that she no longer could send her children off to their school and was having difficulty helping them keep up with their studies.  You would make a perfect governess, Miss Liza!"

"Yes, but how to get her there, that's the problem.  Perhaps I can get a message through to Samuel.  He could arrange passes.  I don't think he has finished his business in the area yet."

"Samuel?  Samuel Mason?  You know him?" Liza was incredulous that this abolitionist pastor would be that close with someone from a slave owning family."

The pastor and wife looked at each other.  He shook his head ever so slightly.  He turned back to Liza and said, "I believe he will help you.  He stopped by here on his way out of town and told us to look out for you."

"He did?"  Liza couldn't believe it.  He was nothing like his brother.  Someone had actually tried to look after her?  It warmed an empty place in her heart.  Her uncle had tried, until he was tragically taken.  It wasn't his fault.  It left his wife with few alternatives but to sell out.  But Liza was astounded that a Mason would do that for her.  He had, after all, warned her about his brother.

"I will keep my bag packed hidden under my bed and will be ready to leave at a moment's notice."

"Dear, if it gets too difficult staying there at Mr. Mason's, you could come here."  The kind lady smiled, but Liza knew in these perilous times, it could bring disaster on this household.  She couldn't do that to them.  She could never be as brave as these two.

"Thank you.  I think I can hold out."

That night as she was at her nightly ritual making tea in the empty kitchen, Josiah knocked again.
His hat was twisting in his hands.

"Oh, no!  Not more escaping slaves," she whispered.

He shook his head.  "No, miss.  They went on, but the babe didn't live.  I promised to bury the chil' and promised to find someone to say words over her.  I gave the little mother my word.  Do you think you can do it?  You know Scripture as well as anybody I know.  You're like your uncle that way the way they stick in your head so that you can pull them out as needed."

"Now?"

"Best do it in the dark.  I already done dug the hole and built a little box.  It'd be jest a few words, Miss.  Then you might say a prayer, a prayer that might include the mama's safe journey."


Liza looked around over her shoulder and sighed.  "I'll come."  She saw a dark cape hanging from a peg and put it on.  It was a good thing she was still in her black mourning clothes and would blend in with the night.  The clouds were conveniently hiding the moon.  Since they no longer had horses,  Liza crunched through the snow after Josiah.  It seemed they had walked for miles but probably just because she was always stopping to look fearfully over her shoulder.  How did she get in these hard places.  She was no Harriet Beecher Stowe or Harriet Tubman.  Liza was against slavery, but the Underground Railroad now struck terror in her heart.  Just thinking about it made it difficult to catch her breath.  She had to pause holding onto a hickory tree.

"You be al'right, Miz Liza?" Josiah whispered.


She nodded, afraid to speak in case they would be overheard.  Finally, they stopped at the foot of a pine with its arms stretched out over a little grave site.  Sukie was there waiting, guarding the little box.  Josiah stood with his hands behind his back expectantly. 

"Oh, yes, well..."The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."   Ahh, um...Liza closed her eyes and racked her brain.  Suddenly the Scriptures she had read last night came to her and she said, "Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace."  She saw Sukie wiping her eyes.  Her own eyes were pooling tears as she suddenly focused on the tiny box waiting to be put into the cold ground.  "Dear Lord!" she gasped, and then realized she also need to pray, so she closed her eyes.  "Dear Lord, please receive this little one unto yourself.  Please comfort her mother and grant them safety as they journey to freedom.  We commit her to Your tender mercies.  Amen." 

"Thank you, Miss Liza.  You did real fine.  It's jest what her mama would have wanted.  It'll take me only a minute putting the dirt back over her in the grave.  If you don't mind waiting for me."

Suddenly, a man appeared out of the shadows.  Liza's heart stopped then stuttered.  It was Samuel Mason.  He was leading a couple of horses, her uncle's.  "What are you doing here?" was all she could sputter. 

"I guess I was attending a funeral.  Nicely done.  But actually the pastor said, you'd be ready at a moment's notice.  Are you ready?  It will be a difficult ride.  Do you by chance have a divided skirt?"

"Yes.  I'm all packed and will be ready as soon as I change into my riding habit.  I hope no one will wake up and find us, I mean me."

"I'll take the blame if they do.  After all, it is my home, well, it used to be, that is.  But we need to be going.  I'll help you mount up but will tie the horses back in the trees once we are near the house.  

Amy hesitantly said, "Will it be dangerous?"

"There is a war going on.  But do you trust me?"  He looked at her long and hard.

"Yes, more than your brother."

He looked disgusted.  "That's not saying much."

Liza carefully went in trying not to let a door squeak or a floor board.  When she looked over her shoulder, Samuel smiled at her through the dark hallway.  Upstairs without a light, she felt her way with her hand, until her foot collided with a table.  She barely caught the snuffed out candlestick in time before it fell clattering to the ground.  Her heart was beating so fast she was afraid it would wake someone with its drumming.  Finally, she opened her door.  Kneeling by the bed where she had said all her prayers, she paused to send up one more.  "Dear God, help me, help us get through safely.  Thank you for this crazy answer to pray, but I do trust You."  With that she pulled out her satchel.  She had not included her riding habit, so pulled it out of the closet and stuffed her dress in with her others. 

This was the sum of her worldly goods.  She was walking away from a beautiful home full of all the creature comforts a southern woman could want.  But then Liz shuddered at the thought of Honor, a man without honor.  How essential honor truly was.  "Help me, O God!"  She said it over and over inside her heart as she slipped back down the stairs.  Hands covered hers as he took her bag.  Even Samuel was looking back over his shoulder while Liza was practically running.  Finally, they reached the horses.  He helped her up.

"Ready?"  She smiled and nodded.    She couldn't wait to leave this place. 

They rode without speaking.  Finally, when the sun was coming up as yellow as a morning egg in a skillet, Liza realized how hungry she was.  Not just that, she was cold, and more than weary.  Samuel had led them into some kind of encampment.  Soldiers were everywhere.  Liza gasped.  They were wearing Union blues.  "Samuel!"  she whispered hoarsely.  "Are you for the North?"

His day's growth of a dark beard was covering his face in shadow even though the sun was coming up, but his smile was a brilliant flash.  "Officer Lt. Col. Samuel Mason, at your service, miss," and he gave her a smart salute.  Suddenly, a young man came to take her reigns, but Samuel was there to help her down.  Liza wasn't sure her legs would hold her up.  They were shaking badly."

"It happens when you are not used to riding much.  I can carry you to your tent if you like."

Liza shook her head, "Perhaps you could give me your arm to lean on, kind sir."


He stopped in front of a tent.  "This is your quarters for tonight.  I wish it was better quarters for a lady, but it is war."

"Is this your tent, Samuel?  I don't want to take your bed."

He laughed.  "I have many friends who are up on duty now who will lend me their tent.  I'll be right over there if you need anything."  Then he cleared his throat.  "There is one little situation I need to prepare you for.   A woman will come in  a minute to search your person.  You don't have to convince me where your sympathies lie, but we've had a few nice southern women infiltrate our ranks before, and men's lives were lost.  It's nothing personal, but it might feel that way."

Liz was standing unsteadily on her feet but reached up her hand to Samuel's cheek feeling his stubble.  "I can only feel gratitude to you, Samuel for what you have done for me at your own personal risk.  Thank you."

He took her hand and kissed it.  "You're the bravest little lady I know."

"What?  I'm afraid you've been misinformed.  I'm a coward through and through."

"Hardly."  He grinned.  "Just remember, you'll feel even worse about getting back on your horse tomorrow.  It will be another long day of dodging skirmishes."

A rough looking woman had come up and was now waiting at the tent flap with her arms crossed.

"Good night, Mr. Mason." 

"Good night, Miss Hawthorne." 

She was glad he had walked away before he could see her stumble to her knees and having to crawl the rest of the way in.  The woman searched her thoroughly, embarrassingly so.  First it was her hair then her clothing, all of it.  It was only then that the woman brought her a meager cold meal.  Finally, she was allowed to crawl into the bedroll.  She was dead to the world the second her head hit the--well there was no pillow, but it didn't matter.

"Miss Liza?"  It was the young man who had led away their horses last night.  Lt. Col. Samuel Mason is waiting for you to resume your journey."

"Tell him, just a minute.  Liza tried to stand, but her legs wobbled worse than a new foal's.  It hurt like the dickens.  Everywhere.  Every single bone in her body was pulsing with pain.  Somehow she managed to brush through her hair and tie it back.  Then she pulled her riding habit on with difficulty due to her soar muscles.  Bending down to put her boots on was almost  a herculean task."

"Um, is that woman available to help me, by chance?  I'm finding myself hardly able to lace my own boots." 

Samuel threw back the tent flaps and secured them open.  "Here, let me help you, fair maiden.  I'm sorry we are having to go at such a punishing pace, but we don't have much choice if we want to keep you safe.  We are still too close to the enemy line, and I need to get you out of here.   A battle is eminent.  So please excuse any improprieties.  He was lacing up her boots, then helping her stand, wrapping her cloak around her.  His face was close as he tied the fasteners under her chin.  He turned on her with a look she'd never seen in a man's eyes.  His breath was warm on her face in the brisk cold of the morning.  Then he broke his gaze and turned away only to offer his arm.  Then he assisted her up onto her horse.  It wasn't very elegant.

"I'm sorry, but we'll have to eat on the run."  His young man handed him up a parcel, then one for her. 

"Thank you.  What's your name private?"

"Joel Stangle."

"I have a brother somewhere out there wearing the blue.  You remind me of him.  I'll keep you in my
prayers."

He shook her hand but tears were in his eyes until he had to wipe them away with his arm.  War wasn't right.  Too many fine young men like this were going to spill their life blood."

"We will have to ride quietly.  The enemy may send sorties anywhere we ride today.  If we make good time, we'll have you safe in a real bed tonight.  Then it will be only another day until we get you to your little charges, Governess Hawthorne."  He winked.

She hoped she wouldn't fall off her horse.  Either that or Samuel would have to pry her from her mount when they get to where they were going.

"One more thing.  Do you shoot, Miss Liza?"




"Yes, I have used a rifle before hunting with my brother."

"Here's a pistol.  Same principle, just a shorter barrel."  He slung a gun belt over the pommel of her saddle.  "Careful, it's loaded.  Just be careful where you point it.  I hope you won't need it, but it is better to be safe than sorry if anything happens to me."

The last thing the private handed her was a steaming cup of hot coffee.  "This might help."  She almost cried.  It had been so long since she had coffee.  No matter how many cups of mint tea she steeped, it could never take the place of coffee."

"Thank you!"

"Ready?  Here we go."  Men stared unabashed, but not until they saluted her escort.  "You're going to give many men a pang for home, Miss Liza.  They haven't seen a lady in awhile, except for the camp followers who do the laundry," he coughed and said under his breath, "among other things." 

She ignored his comment, but it made her feel freer to smile and wave at the brave souls willing to fight to keep the Union together, to fight against the evil of slavery.

When they had ridden awhile, the sun came hesitantly out.  She saw he was opening his wrapped food parcel, so she did the same.  They ate in the quiet of the new day.  Birds were singing.  Somewhere a cattle lowed waiting to be milked.  Her muscles were beginning to loosen a little.  Just then he pulled up her horse by its reigns, put his finger to his lips and nodded towards the trees.  That's when she notice how still it had become except for a disturbed flock of crows cawing.  They waited.  Soon she saw two riders in grey trotting by not twenty feet from them.  She dropped her gaze feeling as if they would know someone was watching and would turn and see them.  Samuel had his rifle ready at his shoulder waiting to cock it.  Even that noise would alert the enemy.  So they waited.  It seemed an eternity.  Liza peeked to see them ride out of sight around a bend.  They waited some more.  No more men appeared.

He signaled for her to go ahead as he watched their back.  Every nerve was alert for a conflict.  This was no picnic.  She felt for the holster untying the hand gun for a quicker draw if needed while not taking her eyes away from the road looking for the enemy.  Liza pondered using it on another human being.  She couldn't.  Hopefully, she could bluff her way out of a threatening situation.  That was all.  She was as yellow a coward that ever sat on a horse. 

Pretty soon Liza was sorry she had drunk the cup of coffee.  She had to stop and led her horse into the trees.  "Can you help me down, Samuel?"

"Is something wrong?"

Her face flamed.  "I just need to stop for a moment."

Realization hit him.  "I'll keep guard.  You can go behind that boulder over there.  Let me search it out first," he whispered.

When he pulled her out of the saddle, she practically melted into him and gripped his arms.  He grinned.  "You'll get your legs back soon.  But I'm afraid you're going to have to go over there by yourself."

"Just walk me part way then I'll be fine, I think," she added.

He did.  She did.  Then helping her back up into the saddle was like putting a rag doll up onto the horse's back.  She couldn't do it.  Samuel ran his hands through his hair then rubbed the back of his neck as he pondered her weakness.  "I think you'd better ride with me for a spell.  We can trade off horses as we go."  He tied her horse behind his, mounted then grabbed her arms and lifted her up in front of him before she knew what he was doing.

"Oh.  Thank you.  I'm sorry I'm so much trouble."

She could feel the chuckle in his chest.  "This is no problem, Miss Liza, believe you me."  His arms were strong around her waist, and she finally sank back to allow her head to rest against his chest.  She might have even slept a little.  After a while as they rode uninterrupted, Liza was completely comfortable.  It seemed as if his hold was even tighter and his breath was warm on her hair.  

Samuel pulled up in a clump of trees thick with young shoots for cover.  "We'll stop and eat, but no fire.  Then we can change horses."

"Maybe I can try to sit on my own horse again."

He grinned at her.  "Why?  Are you uneasy?"

"Not in the least, just grateful.  I'm sure I would have slipped off somewhere back there without your assistance.  Thank you."

"The pleasure is all mine."  He kept his grin on this time shining out of his two days growth of beard.

"I'm satisfied, but perhaps when we get closer to the town, I should be on my own horse."

"You tell me when."

"Alright.  I'm ready to get going then."  Once again he swung her up in front of him.  She felt guilty enjoying the closeness and warmth of this man.  It was unseemly, and she knew it.  But he was her escort to the North, and she felt safe in his arms...

"Stop right there."  Liza felt faint.  It was a small detachment of Confederates.  "Well, if it ain't a pretty lady.  We might just have to take her off this soldier's hands.  You can get down nice and easy, ma'am.  She covered the holster with her skirt and pulled the gun out as she got down hiding it in the folds of the wool of her riding habit careful to not let it go off accidently.

"Now you hand over your rifle, soldier, and get down nice and slow.  You are now a prisoner of the Confederate Army.  They have hell-hole prisons for men like you, s'cuse the language, ma'am.  Now keep your hands up Lieutenant."

If looks could kill, all the men around them would be dead by the ice in Samuel's eyes.  Liza realized after her initial shock that there were only three able bodied ones, and one weak and wounded man tied to his horse.  She picked out their leader.  Suddenly, she held the gun point blank at his head as he had stayed close to her after helping her dismount.  She made sure he could feel the cold barrel against his skull.

"If any of you make a move against my friend, your officer will be dead.  Let my lieutenant come over here, and ya'all keep your hands up." 

When Samuel eased over, he put his strong hand over her shaking one and took control of the gun without moving it away from the enemy's head. 

"You heard the lady.  Now put your rifles down slowly on the ground.  Miss Hawthorne, you gather them up."

She put them in the crook of her arm swinging the barrels around as she picked up more.

"Watch where you are point'n them thwangs, confound it, lady!  They're loaded," one of the men looked a little green at the gills.

"Now Liza, stand back from the men with the guns.  I want you, big fella, to go over to my horse and get my rope.  Now you are going to tie up your friends.  Then I'll see about taking care of you."  He was talking to the one who had boasted of putting Samuel in a rebel prison.  Don't try any slipshod knots because I'm watching to see if you are worth keeping alive or not.  I might give you an early Christmas present if you are good boys and not shoot you.  I don't know who will find you first, the Johnny Rebs, or the Union soldiers, or a bear or a panther."

Liza bit her lip.  The guns were getting heavy in her arms, not just her wobbling legs giving her problems. 

"You can pile their weapons over by their horses and take their reigns.  Just lay 'em down easy like.  You there, big fella, go hug that tree over there away from your buddies.  I'm going to lash you tight up agin' it."

"On second thought, Miss Liza, can you hold your pistol one more time on this southern boy while I tie him up myself?" 

She reluctantly took the gun from Samuel and pointed it at the man who glowered at her. 

"I can tell by your voice that you are a southerner, ma'am.  What are you doing with this northern scum?  You could help the cause right now by pointing that barrel his way.  I promise we'd let you go free and on your merry way if you did.  On my honor."  Just the banter of the word "honor" was enough to send a chill down her back thinking of the other Mason.

"Don't talk to her or I'll knock you senseless." Samuel had picked up his own rifle and held it in one hand while he tightened the rope on the man lashed to the tree.  "Keep it pointed on him, Miss Liza, while I make sure all these knots are nice and tight."

"The man started swearing, so Samuel went over  but instead of knocking him out with the butt of his rifle, he gagged him."

Liza dropped her gun to her side because her hand was so shaky that she feared accidently shooting Samuel as he worked. 

"Good work, Liza," he said under his breath as he went over to string up the horses to lead them behind their mounts.  Next he secured the enemies' rifles to their saddles.  Finally, he went over to where he had tied the other men together and put their canteens in their bound hands.  At least they could lift them to their lips if they were careful.

"Ready?" 

She nodded.  Her legs had started shaking again, this time from the fear of the close encounter.  He pulled her up tight and then saluted the tussied up men.  "Thanks for the horses and weapons.  We'll put them in good hands for the North."

One man began blubbering with tears streaming down his face.  "That horse is my best friend.  Take good care of her.  She's the Morgan.  Her name is 'Sweet Lips,' 'Sweet' for short.  Good-bye, honey, my Sweet Lips."

Samuel looked over his shoulder.  "I'll give her to the lady then and retire her from battle.  I like a man who loves his horse."

"Thank you sir.  You are kind indeed."

"Shut up, Hank.  You are an embarrassment to the South acting like that."

"I don't care.  They are taking my horse, the love of my life."

Liza looked up at Samuel's face, "Really?"


"You deserve something for saving our hides back there."  He laughed long and loudly.  "I still can't believe you got the slip on them hiding that pistol in your skirt when dismounting."  He shook his head.  "I'd been lucky back there to make it to a reb prison.  They'd just as likely have put a plug in me and had you to themselves."  He shook his head solemnly .  That was too close a call.  Like I said before, you're the bravest woman I know, and the most beautiful."

Again she looked up at him as his gaze captured hers.  He was seriously studying her. "I was scared enough not to give up to them.  I don't think that's quite the same as real courage."

"Real courage is when you do the brave thing even if you are scared out of your wits."

"Oh.  I was scared spitless alright."  She entwined her fingers with his free hand that held her against him.

"Do you think those prisoners of ours will freeze?  I'd feel guilty."

"I'll be certain to have soldiers go back after them before nightfall, I promise.  I wouldn't want you to have to think about them again."

They had not made it to their intended destination because of the little delay with the rebs, but Samuel led them into another encampment of soldiers.  After salutes and a hustle of instructions going up and down the line of command, provision was made for them for the night.  Samuel once again helped her down, but she found her legs enough so as to not make a fool of herself leaning on him.  He led her to sit on a log in front of a blazing fire.  As they ate the food offered them, roasted squirrel it appeared to be, the men who sat around began singing as one played hauntingly on a harmonica.  It was "Silent Night."  Some sang in German while others in English.  It dawned on her that it was Christmas Eve.  She joined in softly as did Samuel, her alto to his melody.


It was in one sense the best Christmas Eve she could remember since she was a little girl.  As she pondered it while warming in the heat of the blaze, brushing shoulders with Samuel, she found it was because she was cared for in spite of the danger around them.  God had truly answered her prayer in His tender mercy.  She was going north and in the care of a good man.  Even though he was a Mason, she was out of the clutches of his brother.  That thought caused her to shudder.

"Are you cold, he slipped out of his army jacket and slipped it around her shoulders."  It had begun to snow gently.

"Thank you.  You have been my real gift this Christmas, you know, Samuel, more than you can imagine."

"Don't forget you saved my life today."

He put his arm around her in spite of all the eyes upon them.  Now they were singing "O
Come, O Come, Emmanuel,"  and they joined in together.  When he escorted her to her tent, she said, "Just a minute, Samuel.  I have something for you."  It was her picture.  "It's all I have to give you for Christmas."

"Thank you.  I will treasure it always, as I do you."   His knuckles glazed over her cheek before tucking in a loose strand of hair.

The next morning, as she stood outside her tent, a general appeared smiling.  "Merry Christmas to you, young lady.  So this is the brave little lady who held off a passel of Johnnie Rebs.  On behalf of the President and his Army of the Union, I thank you.  We are indebted to you."

Liza felt like a scarlet woman the way her face blushed.  "It is Lt. Col. Samuel Mason who came to my rescue.  Thank you for allowing him to see me safely through the enemy lines."

The general tipped his hat and walked a ways off to speak with Samuel.  It was apparent the reason that Samuel had slipped so easily between the north and south was that he was useful for getting information.  His southern drawl became more prominent the further south he was.  Now there was just a hint of it left, unlike her.  She hoped he would not dare any more trips behind the enemy line, a line which was constantly moving.  She knew now that Confederate  troops could be bivouacked anywhere. 

Finally, he came over and joined her looking serious.  "I will be sending a telegram to Mrs. White's sister about your arrival. Judge West is your new situation.  The general has requested that I stay here and send you on by train.  It will be easier on you than another day's long ride.  Your horse will be quartered in the livestock car ready for you."

Liza blanched.  It was the furthest thing from her mind to be separated from Samuel so suddenly and her heart sank.  "Is that what you want, Samuel?"

He took her hands and sought out her eyes.  "No, of course not.  But I must obey orders.  You will be safe now.  That's what counts.  A special private will be detailed to see you on the rest of your journey.  Come here."  He led her away from the camp and found a private place behind an outcropping. 

"Liza, if I make it out of this war,  may I come calling to court you?"

"If?  You will come out of this awful war and you will come court me.  I demand it, sir!  I did not save your life to lose it."

"Yes, ma'am." He saluted before wrapping her in his arms and seeking her waiting lips.  It was nothing like the forced crush of his brother which was an act of aggression.  This was the most tender but passionate feeling she had ever imagined.  He pressed his photo into her hand.  "This is to remember me by."

When he stepped back, she grabbed his jacket lapels and said, "I will not let you go, Samuel.  I'm only lending you to President Lincoln for a short while longer, then you will be mine."

He gave his grin.  "I'll try to be as brave as a certain young woman of my acquaintance.  I think I fell in love with you when I first lay eyes on you with your hair down, all in a glory over your nightgown in the midnight meeting.  I've been wishing to delve my fingers into it ever since."  He sighed.  "There's no time nor propriety for that now.  Only in my dreams, sweet girl.  You have a train on a schedule you have to meet.  But I think you'll like the private we have chosen to see you through to your destination.  Come meet him."

As they walked back to camp hand in hand, a soldier on crutches because of a missing foot was waiting.  Liza dropped Samuel's hand and came running to him.  It was Ethan, her brother.   Their embrace was full of tears and joy as she nearly knocked him down loosing his crutches. 

"I can't think of a better Christmas present than you!" she gushed.

"Well, it looks like you had one already," Ethan said with a huge smile.  Samuel picked up his crutches and handed them back to the soldier.

Liza looked up at Samuel with love in her eyes.  "You both make my heart complete.  God has given His tender mercies to us.  "Merry Christmas, dear ones.  'May He guide your feet into the way of peace.'"



"Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied saying,
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel;
for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets,
which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us,
that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies
might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him,
all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest;
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people
by the remission of sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God;
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Luke 1:67-79
*This is purely a fictional story but is inspired by brave souls who worked in the Underground Railroad.  A Wesleyan Methodist Church truly was shot through with bullet holes and is on the Freedom Trail of Black History.  It is early Wesleyan Methodists who broke from the Methodists over the issue of slavery.  One such courageous member was hung from a tree in his yard for his work to help the slaves on their way to freedom.  However, he was cut down and left to die as his attackers wanted the rope to go hang someone else.  His wife found him still alive and nursed him back to health.  It is also true from the accounts of Francis Asbury's circuit riders that some did keep their pistol handy on top of their Bible as they preached where they were unwelcome in the South.   The institution of slavery was so tragic that it caused the blood of more Americas than all other wars combined, a war against ourselves.  There is a war in every man, bound as we are to the enemy of our soul, but God offers His tender mercy in His only begotten Son to bring us peace.











 







 


 













 


















 










Friday, November 27, 2015

 

There was a day when a man and a woman walked away from the feast aplenty, from a perfect garden, from everything pure and good, delicious and right.  Instead they bit into and shared the forbidden fruit.  Their Father had warned them against it because He did not wish them to have the knowledge of good and evil desiring to give them tender protection, innocence. 



It's hard as parents to protect our fledglings from this knowledge of evil.  Once it is seen, it is burned on their memories, stored in the brain indelibly.  It just takes any online availability, not just on phones or laptops, but on Youtube through Wii or X-boxes game systems by typing in three little letters beginning with an "S" and ending in a "X."  Vigilance.  It's not a matter anymore of smutty magazines smuggled and looked at undercovers with a flashlight and then hidden under the mattress.  It's sadly an uphill battle lost way back in the Garden. 


Mothers beware of the tainted thoughts surrounding your daughters.  Mothers beware of young women exposed and aggressive towards your young men.  Even the deviants are seeking their prey.  Protect as much as you can, and then trust God for the rest. It ultimately becomes between each soul and their Maker.  He made the ultimate sacrifice to redeem.  Just pray that they come to Him before the point when...

 
Loss of innocence is as close as a bite of an apple...

"God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions..."And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper..." Romans 1:24-28

 
But there is a rainbow of hope after every dark cloud.
God would not have allowed the cross if it did not have power over sin.
 
 
Jesus did not know the guilt of sin until He took upon Himself our sin on the cross.  But there is a stunning thought that has gripped me this week:  though God the Father, Jesus the Son already knew the depths of sin because of the knowledge of good and evil back in the Beginning, somehow God gave back a time of innocence to His Son conceived in a virgin, born in a stable and laid in a manger under the shadow of the timber makings of a cross?  His infancy was His innocence.  How did that make God the Father feel?
 
 
 
Paradise lost.  Paradise regained in a barn.
Look to Advent.
We cannot separate the Second Adam from the First,
the cross from the manger,
the tomb from the resurrection.
 
 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

HAPPY THANKSGIVING
 

 
Digging into Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Archeology, History Buffing Thanksgiving...
 
"When ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord."
Leviticus 23:9
 

 
There have always been harvest celebrations.  In the old country sometimes they were called "Harvest Homes," feasts for family and workers.  The Pilgrims were so grateful to have survived that they held the first Thanksgiving in 1621.  Whether invited or just following their noses to the table, Indians outnumbered the Pilgrims that day two to one. 
 
 
Edward Winslow of Plymouth wrote to a friend in England, "Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.  They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week.  At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
 
 
By 1623, the day was given to a mandatory church service and prayer and fasting.  In 1777 the Continental Congress called for a day of Thanksgiving in all thirteen colonies but that was a stretch for the Continental Army spending the winter at Valley Forge, some without shoes in the snow, days without supplies and going hungry, one third sick.  Lt. Col. Dearborn wrote "But God knows we have very little to keep it with, this being the third day we have been without flour or bread and are living on a high uncultivated hill, in huts and tents, lying on the cold ground.  Upon the whole I think all we have to be Thankful for is that we are alive and not in the grave with many of our friends."
 
 
It was Sarah Hale, the editor for "Godey's Magazine," an abolishionist and a woman's rights activist, who wrote four presidents until Abraham Lincoln finally proclaimed the third Thursday of November for a national day of Thanksgiving.  It was after the bloody Union victory at Gettysburg where he invoked a prayer, "that we invoke the influence of the Holy Spirit to subdue the anger that produced the strife."
 

She hoped that it would give a unifying rally for the country becoming split down the middle: "If every state would join in Union Thanksgiving on the 24th of this month, would it not be a renewed pledge of love and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees peace, prosperity, and perpetuity to our great Republic."  This was quite a statement in 1752 for what was to become a war torn nation as she finally got Lincoln's attention and assent in 1763 smack dab in the middle of the Civil War.
 
 
"Come ye thankful people, come.
Raise the song of Harvest Home:
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin:
 
God our maker doth provide,
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple come
Raise the song of Harvest Home."
 
Now we ply our mouths (Ply-mouth) to fill it with turkey and food aplenty. 
 
 
Thanksgiving Menu at the Jolley's
 
Robin's appetizer: homemade pepper poppers
 
Turkey and gravy with gf cornbread dressing
Mashed potatoes
*Creamed corn
Green bean casserole
Asparagus
Baked acorn squash
relish tray of celery, olives, and pickles
Fruit salad
Gram's homemade yeast rolls
(and my measly gf roll)
Pumpkin and apple pies
*Cream cheese covered with carmel and pecans and served with sliced apples.
(These were new items and oh so good!) 
 
 
What's on your plate this Thanksgiving?