Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Are You Facing Hard Times? A Christmas Story of Desperation and Hope: A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

Hard times don't take a Christmas vacation.
Loss of a loved one, family strife, natural disasters, a frightening diagnosis, loneliness, and financial stress can all contribute to our hard times.

I know several people who really stretch their money to make ends meet. There's only so much elastic in a dollar bill you know. I've been testing that stretch capacity full-time for nearly thirteen years now.

Most likely you know someone who's struggling. Maybe it is you. Our families will be affected differently by these situations, but it will be a challenging season for all of us who are experiencing hard times.

Sometimes, in our desperation, we give up to despair.
Sometimes, in our desperation, we give in to God and
he takes over. He comes in and saves us... maybe not
from the circumstances...but always from the despair.

Give in and find hope, peace, love, healing, and provision.
God's arm is not too short. Nothing is impossible with God.

Please enjoy this story that I share each year....

A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

     I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold; our salary had not been regularly paid and it did not meet our needs when it was. My husband was away much of the time, traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re-patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

     The people in the parish were kind, and generous too, but the settlement was new and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver. Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times until I knew, as David did, who was my Fortress and my Deliverer. Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer.

     My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral.  Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it.

     I knew it was impossible, but, oh! how I wanted to give each child his present. It seemed as if God had deserted us. But I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire, and I tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.

     That morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch–it was the best I could do–wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.  That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened for her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered to me, “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, Mama” that I thought I could move Heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone and gave way to the most bitter tears.

     Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots. The thin stockings clipped off with them and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me that James had let go too.

     I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God and tell Him His promise wasn’t true–my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

     There came a sound of bells, a quick step and a loud knock at the door. James sprang to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas. ‘At any rate’ I said, ‘they shall have it tonight.’ Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along and these other things I believe belong to you.” There were a basket of potatoes, and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box and then with a hearty good night, he rode away.

     Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket and we saw that beneath it, the box was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he explained. “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.”

     “James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this. I am to blame. I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.”  We poured out words of praise–Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.  It was eleven o’ clock; the fire was low and there was the great box with nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles and began to examine our treasures.

     We drew out an overcoat. I made James try it on–just the right size–and I danced around him, for all my lightheartedness had returned. There was a cloak and he insisted on seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him and we both laughed like foolish children.

     There was a warm suit of clothes also and three pairs of woolen hose. There were a dress for me and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us and in mine a slip of paper. I have it now and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be.”

     In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  It was a wonderful box and packed with thoughtful care. There were a suit of clothes for each of the boys and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarf, and hood, and down in the center–a box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll!! I burst into tears again and James wept with me for joy. It was too much! And then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pairs of skates. There were books for us to read–some of them I had wished to see–stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy, a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread, a muff, and an envelope containing a ten dollar gold piece.

     At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire. How we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved.

     You should have seen the children the next morning! The boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates–Ruth caught up her doll and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed.  When she came back she whispered to me, “I knew it would be here Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.”

     “Look here, Wife, see the difference!” We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already and skating on the crust with all their might.  My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box–and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since. 

     Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him–dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”


Reprinted by permission from Lizzie at A Dusty Frame.   She typed it up from a very old book, The Sword Book of Treasures by Dr. John R. Rice, published in 1946 gem.

Happy Christmas,
Trusting in His care
May I suggest?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Christmas Bucket List 2017


Season's Greetings!

 Have you made a Christmas bucket list of the fun things you want to do this month? I'm not talking about a regular to do list. This list is for the things that bring you joy! 

 I've made a slow start this Christmas season. I haven't done much shopping yet, and making, well, it will just have to wait until next year. Still... there are things I just love to do during the Christmas season. Actually, I like to do a lot of them all winter long. We'll see how many things I can fit in around doctor's appointments, tests, and treatments. 

 The good news is that I'm feeling pretty good, and I'm here to celebrate Christmas with my family. I still have several months of treatments left, but the cancer is in remission.  Thank you God! Glory to God in the highest!

 Here are some of the things I'd like to do this month. I've already done some of these things.
  • Write my Christmas bucket list
  • Make or buy a tree ornament for each child
  • Sing Christmas carols
  • Put up the tree
  • Gaze into the fire in the woodstove
  • Christmas parade
  • Put lights on the house (Kids took care of it.)
  • Talk to strangers (It's what I do!)
  • Smile and spread good cheer
  • Curl up with a terrific book
  • Tree decorating party with my husband and kids
  • Bake cookies with my adult son
  • Make homemade cranberry wassail
  • Make cocoa
  • Watch Christmas movies
  • Listen to Christmas music
  • Decorate the house
  • Read Christmas books  
  • Drink hot apple cider
  • Dip pretzels in white chocolate
  • Gaze into the fire of a candle
  • Sing Christmas carols as I shop
  • Burn fragrant holiday candles
  • Invite friends for soup and bread
  • Christmas baking
  • Sip eggnog
  • Bake Snowball Cookies
  • Advent book
  • Read by tree light
  • Coffee with a friend
  • Lunch with a friend
  • Christmas shopping
  • Christmas caroling
  • Watch more Christmas movies
  • Pajama Run - Christmas lights
  • Cookie Exchange Party
  • Wrap Christmas gifts
  • Christmas Day at home

Most importantly, worship Jesus ~ I cannot bring myself to cross this out though I've done it!

Happy Christmas Season!
Blessed to be a Blessing

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #115

Welcome to another 
Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage!
Each week I share ways I've saved money, my thrifty and frugal projects, and my blessings from God. 

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage
I am so glad you dropped in for a visit today—or tonight!
Please say hello! I'm always looking for new blog friends!


Happy Christmas time everyone!

  Are you getting ready? We've put up our tree, I've been lighting white pillar candles that my husband bought at a yard sale a few months ago, I've been listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. My daughter, Amy, decorated my kitchen yesterday while organizing some shelves. She has a gift of organization and decorating...the artist's eye!

  I've had a bit more energy this week, so I've done some decluttering and a lot of laundry. With more treatments ahead, I'm trying to take advantage of my good days without wearing myself out. It's all a balance of the mental and physical activities. This is a long-term recovery process, but I cannot just sit around. It makes me melancholy.

  Well, enough for now—on to my blessings and a bit of our thrifty life.

Just one of the free images from

A Verse for You

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
—James 1:17

Here's my thrifty week!
  • My daughter, Amy, designed a new blog header and background for me. I love it!
  • Avocados $.39 each at Aldi. My son told me that they're $.42 each at Walmart now. I need to buy some. The kids love them. I love my homemade guacamole!
  • Approximately 15 cubic feet of real estate investment! I've been doing what I can to clear things out. We are just jam packed into this little cottage. 
  • I downloaded a few new free images from They are free to use without attribution.
  • We enjoyed the last of the meals that were brought to us during my surgery recovery. Our friends were very generous. 
  • My son, Matthew, called from Walmart to say that they had 5 dozen eggs on sale for $3.00! I bought a box the same day. Eggs have been cheap here, but they've been over $1.50 a dozen for the last couple of weeks. We all know there's holiday baking to do.
  • My daughter, Emily, baked homemade sugar cookies using the first cookie recipe that I learned to make by myself as a child over forty years ago. Don't go there! I just know you're thinking, "How old is this lady?" Ha ha! She made a very large batch and filled tins we had left over from our restaurant days for her teachers. Very nice gifts for the price of butter, sugar, and flour.
  • I made roll out sugar cookies with my son, Matthew, at his request. When it came time to decorate, we used things we had on hand. Use it up!
  • My husband and I splurged and went to Panera for dinner to plan Christmas gifts. He received a free danish for his birthday.
  • My daughter, Amy, decorated the kitchen using things we had on hand in creative ways.
  • We sipped homemade cocoa while watching an old Christmas movie we've had for years—Home Alone.
  • I have a big bag of oddly cut chicken pieces that a friend gave me thawing in the fridge.
  • I wrote a review for a free copy of the book Christmas at Grey Sage. It was a good book.
  • Now for the most exciting thrifty of the week—a friend gave us her dvd/vcr combo machine! We've had two such machines stacked on top of our old t.v. for years. One's DVD worked, the other's VCR worked. We bought them at yard sales. Over the last couple months, they both died. We needed a VHS player, because almost all of our Christmas movies (and memories associated with them) are VHS. Have you priced them? I cannot buy one locally, and on-line they are several hundred dollars new. I have no trouble with a used machine, but most of them were nearly a hundred dollars without any guarantee that they work. I decided to just ask on Facebook if anyone had a VHS player they didn't want. I asked twice with no results. The third time, a dear friend, Susan, told me she had a combo player she'd only used three times, and it had been sitting at her house for eight years! My husband picked it up the next morning, and it works like new. Praise God! All good gifts come down from God. Thank you Susan! Thank you God!
Take cat naps as needed!
  Ladies, whatever preparations you're doing for Christmas, try to use what you have on hand as much as possible. You can make things over, use old decorative items in new ways, just change things up a bit. Try to keep it all in perspective and keep it off your credit cards! It's better to downsize now than to face bills later!

That's my thrifty week.

What are you doing in your home this week?


...doing what I can with what I've got
where I am on a short shoestring budget!