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One Look at Bravery

One of my choices for the new year is to read and write more. In looking at our home with a modicum of reality, we might be called “book poor.” I tend to describe it as “book rich.”

Yes, there are stacks of books in every room of our home, as well as in attic boxes. Five book shelves are packed two deep with others on layered on top. Baskets of books are in all the rooms, including the kitchen with my well-loved recipe books. (I treasure those that my grandmothers used.)

I am in total agreement with Erasmus when he said, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”

Two new books were part of my Christmas, and I am halfway through Louise Penny’s new book,  Kingdom of the Blind. And, as usual, this Canadian author had me hooked in only a few pages.

I believe I have to agree with Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice, “I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

Many eighteenth century women lived on the fringes of written records. Their exploits of tending hearth and home were not the tales of warriors on the battlefield or politicians changing America. Few letters or diaries recount their daily lives of survival, and portraits are even more rare.

My first four books were about Revolutionary War heroines in South Carolina. I immersed myself in that period of history. The role of women, as not only homemakers but vigilant defenders of their turfs themselves, continues to amaze me.

Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson left her home and parents for the colonies, survived early widowhood, and successfully raised three sons. Life-altering events raised havoc in her life, but she refused to be defeated.

With her two youngest sons, Robert and Andrew, confined in the filthy Camden jail by the British, Elizabeth demanded a prisoner exchange.

Read how this might have worked out in the spring of 1780….

“My Lord, I beseech your pardon for my two sons, Robert and Andy Jackson. Word has it that a prisoner exchange is being discussed, and I beg you to add their names to the list. The youngest has only turned fourteen, and Robert is sixteen. I will take responsibility for their future actions,” spoke the seemingly composed, though bedraggled, mother.

Her lilting Irish accent caught Lord Rawdon unawares. Yes, the men in his regiment from Ireland still spoke with their Irish brogue, but the soft and feminine inflections of Elizabeth’s speech obliged him to think of home and his family.

Rawdon did not immediately reply. Looking through the stack of papers on his desk, Rawdon found the list he sought. It was this morning’s registry of those prisoners afflicted with smallpox. Quickly scanning the record, he saw both Robert and Andy Jackson’s names.

A glint in his eye appeared, as he thought how to satisfy the Patriot mother and also protect his men. Allowing the exchange of these sick boys would take the dreaded disease to their home and community and also rid his prison of two with the revolting disease.

Looking up into Elizabeth’s expectant eyes, Rawdon finally answered the silent mother.

“It appears that both your sons have contracted smallpox. I believe it will be best for them to be part of our trade for prisoners. You may pick them up tomorrow.”

I can imagine her quaking heart as she walked in where angels feared to tread, but I admire her bravery and resolve to achieve her sons’ freedom that day and the way she faced all her trials and ordeals. After you have read her story, I believe you will agree.

Brave Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C.S. Lewis

Do you agree?

 

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Wreathes Across America, 2018

 

 

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REMEMBER the Fallen. . . HONOR those who Serve. . . TEACH our children the value of Freedom.

On Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 12:00 PM, Wreaths Across America was at Buck Creek Baptist Church Cemetery to Remember and Honor veterans through the laying of Remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country’s fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each and every veteran aloud. Fifty wreaths were placed on all the veteran graves at this cemetery.

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The American Legion is the nation’s largest organization of US wartime veterans. Post 48 in Chesnee, SC was chartered in 1936, and this is the third year they have sponsored a Wreaths Across America ceremony. They plan to continue this tradition.

1215181156.jpgFranklin Wall welcomed about 100 family members and friends at 12:00. He is a fourth generation veteran. His father is buried in this cemetery. In his prayer, he set the tone and intent of the service with his words, “Help us to be salt and light to the world.”

Chesnee High School JROTC posted and retired the colors. Two young women and two young men were in the color guard, and the guidon was one of the girls. Her voice carried through the audience, as she directed their movements.

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All eyes were on the flags. Hats and caps were removed. Right hands were placed over hearts. Most stood straight and tall as the marchers moved to their places. After the group’s singing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” people formed a line to pick up a wreath.

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Then the walk began to the appointed spot.

Five members of the Daniel Morgan Chapter, President John Hoyle, Clark Smith, Mike Rock, Colby Alexander, and my husband John Ingle were there to place a wreath on Revolutionary War veteran, James Turner Sr. Representing the Kate Barry Chapter in Spartanburg, I joined them.

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Born in Virginia in 1753, James Turner served one hundred thirty-four days in the South Carolina militia during 1779, 1781 and 1782 under Capt. Turner and Col. Winn. After the fall of Charleston, he was under Col. Brandon.  Like his father, James Turner was also one of the 2500 men listed has having served with the “Swamp Fox,” General Francis Marion.

J.B.O. Landrum tells the following story of how Turner escaped death at the hands of Tories in his book, History of Spartanburg County:

“One time he was taken prisoner by a band of Tories, who were preparing to kill him at once; but as fortune would have it, one of the Tories said, ‘The first man that hurts Jimmie Turner I will kill him.’ Turner had done this Tory a kindness heretofore, and so his life was saved.”

After the war, he bought land and settled near the Pacolet River.

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Being part of this ceremony was memorable. Even though a misty rain fell during most of the time, no one left. It was an honor to be there to remember our veterans.

In 2017, with the help of thousands of corporate/civic sponsors and volunteers, over 1,5000,000 wreaths were donated and placed at over 1400 participating cemeteries. I wonder how many there were yesterday?

Let’s choose not to forget those who have fought for the freedom of our country.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

President Ronald Reagan

40th president of US (1911 – 2004)

No to “Bah, Humbug”

A long time ago, I committed to memory the last stanza of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that reads,

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The converted Ancient Mariner is concerned about how Christians live and challenges the readers to love our neighbors as ourselves.

In one of my favorite Christmas books, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens paints the character of Scrooge as one who has lost the ability to love, but is converted on Christmas Eve. Scrooge’s covetousness takes a 180 degree shift to compassion and generosity. Jacob Marley’s Ghost is only the beginning of a one-night journey that topples Scrooge to his knees.

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175 years ago, A Christmas Carol was written in six weeks and published in October, 1843. Once Dickens had the idea for this novella, he walked the streets of London at night figuring out the details. Dickens’ biographer, John Forster, wrote that the story gripped Dickens. “He wept over it, and laughed, and wept again, and excited himself to an extraordinary degree.”

Sketch of Charles Dickens in 1842

Charles Dickens in 1842

And what a story it is! Ebenezer Scrooge is the epitome of a selfish, money-grubbing miser. Scrooge and his dead partner Marley value money above all else.  They have no love or care for anyone, and their stories are a warning to others that might choose their paths. Dickens’ challenge is to honor the spirit of Christmas all year long.

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The transformation is dramatic. At the onset, Scrooge says, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

After his ghostly night, his words reflect a significant change. “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”

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To make his point clear, Dickens said,  “I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”

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There are quite a few movie versions of  A Christmas Carol, and I look forward to watching them all. This parable challenges and reminds me to keep my eyes open and not turned inward. Perhaps it also speaks to you.

In agreement with Scrooge who proclaims his change of heart, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

What a privilege it has been to serve as the board chair of Children’s Cancer Partners of the Carolinas for the past two years. Our mission is to stand in the gap for families who have children diagnosed with cancer, as we help them with getting their children to treatment centers and doctor visits and other family needs to survive this dreaded diagnosis.

We are in Raleigh, North Carolina, today to host a Christmas party for many of our children. John is playing Santa again this year, as he also will next Sunday at our other party in Spartanburg. What a privilege it is to be part of an organization that works hard to make lives easier all through the year for these hurting families. As Tiny Tim said, “God bless them everyone!”

“Silent Night, Holy Night”

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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2: 8-14

A group of actors was going town-to-town through the Austrian Alps in 1818. They made their way to Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg. On December 23, they were to perform the story of the first Christmas at a small church called the Church of St. Nicholas.

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The church organ was broken. Some say mice had invaded it; others put the malfunction to rust. But the organ could not be repaired before Christmas. So the actors presented their play in a home.

Joseph Mohr
Joseph Franz Mohr (1792-1848)

Assistant Pastor Josef Mohr was captured once again by the miracles of the story, as he watched the play. He took the long path toward home and ended up on a hill looking over the village. The snow-covered landscape brought to his mind a poem he had written a couple of years before. It was about the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. Then the pastor thought about putting the words to music for his congregation.

Franz Gruber Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863)

The next day Mohr went to see his friend, the church organist Franz Xaver Gruber, and asked him to compose a melody to compliment the poem. By that evening, the words of the poem had been put to music played by a guitar.

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Above is Mohr’s guitar, now in the Waggerl Museum set up a permanent exhibit — Joseph Mohr – Vicar of Wagrain. In Austria, Stille Nacht is considered a national treasure. Traditionally, the song may not be played publicly before Christmas Eve.

This brand new carol had its premier on Christmas Eve, 1818. After the mass, the two men and the congregation stood in front of the Nativity for the carol’s first performance. Now it has been translated into over 140 languages and is a favorite all over the world. The original manuscript has been lost over time, but the hope of “Silent Night, Holy Night” transcends time.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BRVkgaIcaE

    

“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

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There was always food-a-plenty on my mother’s table on Thanksgiving. Traditional dishes and family favorites vied for the attention of the hungry troop that went through her buffet line. Our grandparents were there, as well as Aunt Mamie. Daddy’s blessing was much longer than his daily one, and the “good” china and silver graced the dining room table.

All day we focused on each other and spending time together. Family stories were shared again, and each one of us had our own spot at the table. Mine was to Daddy’s right. I can picture that table and my family; it is a good, good memory.

For a couple of weeks before this holiday, we sang Thanksgiving hymns that were all about gratitude for what God had blessed us with. One of my favorites was “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.”

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.

All the world is God’s own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear:
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away;
Give His angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
Bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come,
Raise the glorious harvest home. 

During the month of September in England, English churches celebrated the Harvest Home. There would be a thanksgiving service held in the church when parishioners would bring the bounty of their harvests. A display of pumpkins, autumn leaves, and the food be the decoration, and then the bounty was given to the needy. It was all about the gratitude for the provision of God, just like the Pilgrims celebrated in 1621.

Henry Alford and George J. Elvey wrote this hymn wa in rural England in the mid-nineteenth century, when the life of the village during the winter depended on the bounty of the autumn harvest. While the first stanza of this hymn rejoices over the harvest, the last three stanzas expound on the reminder this image gives of the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds in Matthew 13. The hymn concludes with a prayer that the final harvest at His Second Coming would happen soon.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt described this truly American holiday.

“Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.”

Listen to the majesty and gratitude of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing this hymn.

Make Me a Blessing

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The month of November is about being thankful and being a blessing. Most Christians look for ways to help needy families during this time of Thanksgiving. Whether it is packing food boxes for the community or dropping off a pie to a shut-in, our hearts tend to just reach out to others. The scripture encourages us to “Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

It is funny how this works. Planning to go out of our way for our family, friends, or strangers can change our attitude in a hurry. It takes the focus off ourselves and puts it on another.

Kindness notices needs.

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In Luke 10:30, Jesus says, “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.” The despised Samaritan saw this man’s needs and saw to those needs. This is what a kind person does; he puts aside his own desires and helps others. Even if kindness interrupts my life, I want to be a good Samaritan. Don’t you?

Charles D. Meigs wrote a poem about kindness.

Lord, help me live from day to day,

In such a self-forgetful way,

That even when I kneel to pray,

My prayer will be for others.

Others, Lord, yes others,

Let this my motto be,

Help me live for others.

That I might live like Thee,

Help me in all the work I’d do,

To ever be sincere and true,

And know that all I’d do for you,

Must needs be done for others.

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Last Friday, John’s car ran into some difficulty with overheating. After filling it with more antifreeze, the same scenario happened. He ended up in a parking lot in between Tractor Supply and I Hop. After calling AAA, he called me for a ride home.

As we waited for the tow truck, a young man came walking down the hill and asked, “You folks in trouble?” John told him we were waiting on AAA. “Glad you didn’t hit each other,” he said with a smile.

About ten minutes later, a mother and her small child got out of a battered truck across the way. She called, “Do you need some help?” John told her the predicament, and I waved thank you.

We talked for a while about the two Good Samaritans that had reached out to us. Yes, we were all strangers. John and I are in our seventies, and the Samaritans were probably in their twenties. We probably had little in common. I noticed the large bag she toted on her shoulder when she headed back to the truck from Tractor Supply. I don’t remember ever doing anything like that. The man sported cowboy boots, a flannel shirt, and was chewing, as he climbed into his old truck. That’s not my hubby’s usual attire, but I do think he could handle it. I was driving our CRV, not a truck.

There were others in the parking lot that either drove or walked by us, but these two weren’t going to be like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story. These strangers were willing and wanted to help. They wanted to get involved.

Last night there was another shooting at a bar in California. Thirteen people died, including the policeman that went in to protect others. He, also, wanted to help, and he slowed down the shooter by taking bullets aimed at others.

One of my favorite hymns is “Make Me a Blessing” by Ira B. Wilson. We have to only open our eyes to those around us to see their needs and then choose to help.

In Matthew 10:32, Jesus says, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,” said Aesop. Let’s don’t waste any of those cups of cold water: let’s find someone to give them to!

 

 

 

An October Party

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” said Anne of Green Gables. With her enthusiasm for life and adventures, the fall colors, beautiful sunsets, and the wind change energized her.

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Light jackets or sweaters are pulled out. Talk of fires and marshmellows begins. Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “October is the opal month of the year. It is the month of glory, or ripeness. It is the picture month.”

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Apples, pumpkins, and gingerbread are the foods that remind me of October. Smells from the first fire of the season and hot cider on the stove are perfect on any chosen day. Cinnamon toast is a favorite for breakfast, and hot chocolate is for Sunday nights.

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On porches and in the yards are pumpkins of all sizes. Orange is the color that brightens the scenery. Pumpkin pies, cookies, and breads tantalize us with their rich smells in the markets. And it seems that Pumpkin Spice is the “flavor du jour” in just about everything. You can make your own blend from cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

Apple bobbing also called bobbing for apples, is a game often played on Halloween usually by children. The game is played by filling a tub or a large basin with water and putting apples in the water. Because apples are less dense than water, they will float to the surface. Players then try to catch one with their teeth without using their arm. This was one of the games we played at our school carnival. It was exciting then: I wonder how children today would view it.

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There are some childhood memories that I hoard. Kicking leaves up in the air used to be fun. I smile remembering those huge leaf piles that my brother and I raked and then jumped into until they had to be raked again. Football, whether watching or playing, was entertainment in October. Fun was always at the fair, carnivals at school, hay rides, and trick-or-treating.

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Boredom is not to be found during this month; unexpected happenings and parties were and are always around the corner. Enjoy your October!

October’s Party
“October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came –
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”
― George Cooper