My Hope is Built: The Treasure of Friendship

Sadie woke in the night with a piercing pain in her abdomen.  She sat straight up in bed and gripped the quilt given to her by her beloved late mother as she waited for the spasm to subside.  The night was beautiful; moonbeams spilled across the bed and she could feel the coolness of winter on her skin.  She sat there a moment in the dark trying to take deep breaths and shake off sleep that was still trying to fog her mind.  “Abe,” she said his name gently to see if she’d woken him.  He stirred and continued his rhythmic breathing. Sadie laid back down and tried to relax her tense muscles.  Her mind began to wander back to sweet times of childhood around the kitchen table.  She rubbed her swollen belly absent mindedly and began to pray for their unborn baby.  One day she and Abe would have children’s laughter around a dinner table, she thought, and it made her smile.

The pain came again. 

This time she sat up so abruptly it woke Abe and he rolled over to see what was wrong.   Even in the darkness he could see Sadie’s wide eyes.  “What is it?” He said groggily.  “I don’t know, but I think it’s the baby, I think it’s coming.”  Abe jumped from the bed arms spread wide, “What? Right now? I need to get the doctor from town.  It can’t come now, we still have two more weeks.”  Sadie shook her head and doubled over with another pain.  “Mrs. Moses,” she said breathlessly.  “What about her?”  Abe was hopping on one foot as he attempted to put his leg into his pants.  He couldn’t think straight, what was she saying about Ms. Moses?   

“Mrs. Moses used to deliver babies, she told me.”  Sadie was finally able to speak in spite of the pain.

Abe grabbed his shirt and buttoned it lopsided and began to search for the car keys in the dark.  “Light the lamp,” Sadie spoke from the shadows.  Yes, the lamp, he thought.  And stumbled from the bedroom to the kitchen to find the matches.  “Abe, town is too far, you need to get Mrs. Moses and bring her to me.”  She was finally able to make herself clear.  “I can’t leave you alone.”  “Yes, you can,” she said with strength she didn’t feel.  “Bring her now unless you want to deliver this baby.”  Abe was gone within a minute and Sadie was left with lamplight as her only companion. 

It was dark and Abe could barely see the trail when he turned toward Hazel’s house.  Running and praying, asking God to keep Sadie safe and that Ms. Moses wouldn’t point a shotgun at him for a visit in the middle of the night.  He bounded up the stairs and banged hard on the door.  “Mrs. Moses,” he said loudly in a panicked voice, “Mrs. Moses, please come to the door.”  He banged again.  And waited.  It seemed like an eternity but eventually Hazel opened the creaky door, “What are you doing out here, child?” “Oh, thank goodness, Mrs. Moses, Sadie is having pains, a lot of pains.  She said you would know what to do.”  He’d hardly gotten the sentence out before Hazel grabbed her shawl and tore off down the trail behind him. 

Sadie was pacing the floor, praying and breathing just like the doctor told her to. The pains were coming quicker and the fear of what was coming doubled down on her just like the shotgun Ms. Moses had held in her face that first day in the woods.  She forced herself to remember that, in spite of her fear, God had taken a horrible beginning and turned it into something beautiful.  That’s right, Sadie, remember how God uses ALL things.  He’ll use this pain to bring new life into the world, trust him. She took a shallow breath and groaned as another pain began.

She was kneeling on the floor when Hazel flew through the door.  “Hazel, I can’t do this,” she cried.  Hazel took her by the hands and looked straight into her pained eyes, “yes, child, yes you can.  You done been through a lot harder than this.   You made from good stock and God’s gonna see you through.  Now, see if you can get up from your knees and let’s take you to the bed.”  Sadie slowly and painfully rose from her knees, she would tell you later that moment was very important for her.  She knew as she took each step to the room she was not only going to make it, she was going to praise God on the other side of it.   She would never again underestimate the power of a good friend, she wouldn’t have made it without Hazel’s support.  

Abe heated up water and brought it to Ms. Moses and she promptly shut the door behind him. 

Abe fell to his knees in front of the small sofa as he and Sadie had so many times before.  “Father, please keep her safe and bring our little one into the world unharmed.  We will raise him or her to worship you, Lord, give us strength and grace.”  He whispered prayers on through the night as Sadie suffered the pains of childbirth.

Abe was in the chicken coop at the crack of dawn talking to Daisy, Stella and Henrietta.  “We’re going to have a little one, girls.  Your momma is bringing him/her into the world as we speak.”  The hens clucked as if to respond and Abe understood why Sadie had so many good conversations with them.  His breath hung as crystals in the air and he pulled his scarf over his ears as he headed to the barn to milk Lucille.  “I don’t know how long this whole process takes, Lucy, but we’ll bring the little one out to meet you as soon as she or he is big enough.  Lucille gave him a half bucket full of milk to show her pleasure.

Abe was headed to the house with a basket of eggs and a sloshy bucket of milk when the front door slowly opened.  He stopped in his tracks and held his breath.  He realized right then whatever was said next would change the trajectory of his life.   Ms. Moses’s head poked out the door, “C’mon on inside, you’ll catch a fright of a cold out there.”  Abe picked up his pace and finally stood face to face with Hazel on the porch.  “Well, come on now, come and meet your new little one.”  Abe set down his load and whooped loud for the world to hear.  He picked up Hazel and spun her around before she could protest and nearly sprinted to the bedroom door.

Just before he opened it, he stopped and gathered his thoughts.  “Whatever lies beyond that door, Lord, let it be known right here, I thank you.  You are a faithful Father and friend.”

He gently opened the door and Sadie raised her head to face him.  She could hardly take her eyes off their wee one and Abe could hardly take his eyes off her.  She looked angelic with her long blonde hair flowing down her shoulders and a smile that could always light up a room.  Sadie held her hand out, “come and meet your son.  He looks just like you.”   He walked to the bed, took her hand and gently kissed the top of her head.  “You’re amazing.”

Hazel was gathering her things when Abe stepped back into the living room to thank her.  “It ain’t no problem, I reckon she coulda done it on her own if she had to.”  “Come in her with us, Hazel, we have something for you.” Abe spoke and waited for Hazel to move toward him.   Sadie waved for Hazel to come and sit on the edge of the bed.  Abe stood behind her.  “Hazel, I could never thank you for the love you’ve shown me this past year.  Our friendship is a treasure to me.  I would like you to meet our little one officially.”  Hazel looked at Sadie and then to Abe, she’d already met the baby, she’d delivered him, did they forget?  The room grew still and Sadie finally spoke. 

“Please meet our son, Henry Abraham Henderson.”

Hazel’s eyes grew wide and she opened her mouth as if to say something, but no words came.   Her eyes began to fill with tears and slowly they streamed down her cheeks.  “You named him Henry?”   She finally regained her composure.  “Yes,” Sadie said softly and handed the small bundle to her.  Hazel scooped him up and carried him into the living room.  Her steps were light and gentle, in her arms was a great prize.  She stood in front of the window and looked up to the heavens as she spoke to the Lord.  “You’ve allowed me to see your redeeming love in the land of the living, Father.  Henry would be so proud.  I never woulda thought this would happen, never seen it coming.  I woulda rejected this whole idea if you hadn’t made that girl so hard headed.  And now, I see you was plannin’ the greatest gift.  Thank ya, Lord, I’m gonna love this one real good.”  She let the tears flow as she stroked the tiny little head. 

“Henry,” the familiar name rolled off her tongue. “You got some big shoes to fill little one.”

She looked out the window over the yard and beyond the woods and spoke to an image only her mind could see, “You’d like this one Henry, she don’t believe in givin’ up.” 

When He shall come with trumpet sound,

Oh may I then in Him be found.

Dressed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before His throne.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.


(At least for now)

My Hope is Built: Facing the Truth

Sadie stood at the window and watched as the snowflakes fell gently to the ground.  It was the first snow of the season and she was mesmerized.  The long hot summer months were gone and her ever-growing belly was more uncomfortable by the day.  She rubbed her little one all nestled deep inside and hummed lullabies to the rhythm of the snowfall.  Today she was supposed to visit Hazel, but the weather would not allow it.  She was both disappointed and enchanted.  It was their second winter and she didn’t think she would ever grow tired of the beauty and mystery of white flakes falling from the sky.  The blanket they left on the earth was a testament to God’s creativity.  “You didn’t have to make the snow for us, Father, we would never have known the difference.  But, I’m so glad you did.  You are beautiful, thank you for sharing some of your beauty with us.”  She prayed out loud and her breath made a crystal fog on the window.

She turned and walked into the kitchen and unpacked her basket full of projects she’d made sitting alongside Hazel in front of the fireplace.   Such a lovely friendship they’d forged over the last several months and she smiled to herself thinking about it.  As she held the tiny crocheted baby things, she had an idea.  She and Abe planned to put up the Christmas tree soon and the box of Christmas ornaments she’d brought with them to this new place was in the small living area.  Sadie had avoided it for reasons she held secret in her heart, but now it was time.  She felt it deep within her, it was time to face the priceless treasures in the box.  Her little one kicked as if affirming the decision.

“Okay, Lord, she prayed, please help me.  I can’t imagine how I’m going to do this. I want to be brave, but I’m not.”  She put another log on the fire and walked over to the box pressed against the wall.  She pulled it over in front of the small sofa and slowly began to peel back the tape.  The sound pierced the silence and felt like the scraping pain her heart was feeling.  She rolled the used tape into a ball and set it beside her.  The only thing separating her from what lie within was a thin piece of cardboard.  She hadn’t been willing to face this truth since the moment it happened…until today. 

Her mind wandered back to a conversation she’d had with Hazel.  They were laughing and talking like good friends do, when the subject of Henry came up.  Sadie wanted to ask Hazel about Henry for so many weeks, and finally the opportunity had arrived.  “How long were you married, Hazel?”  Sadie spoke softly like a summer breeze blowing fresh on your face.  Hazel was quiet for a moment and then she spoke, “Well, now, I guess we’d been married near my whole life, a child bride ya might call it. I reckon I was somewhere aroun’ sixteen.”  Hazel responded with her head down.  Sadie knew instinctually to give her a moment to regain her composure.  Minutes passed and Hazel spoke again, “He was the best thing that ev’r happen to me. I was young and wild and he was kind and gentle.  No one ev’r spoke to me as good as he did.  He was a youngin’ too, seventeen.  We married behind our parents back, though they never woulda cared, neither of us really had a good home.”   Sadie continued to crochet, steady as a clock ticking.  She didn’t want to scare this moment away with words that couldn’t possibly make any difference.  Hazel continued, “He loved me real good for ov’r sixty years and I wasn’t ready to be done.  He led me to the Lord and helped me stay on the straight and narrow through thick and thin.  We nev’r had much in the way of worldly things, but we had real, true, forever love and that was enough.”  Hazel was quiet for a moment and the crochet hook lay still in her lap.  She continued, “I reckon he’s sittin’ at the feet of Jesus right now, reapin’ all the rewards for all the good he done. Sometimes I imagine him waitin’ for me at the Pearly Gates and I want to go to ‘em so bad.” She paused. “But, the good Lord hasn’t seen fit to call me home, so I wait.  I wait and I pray and I’m figurin’ out life without ‘em.  I never woulda chose this, but it’s what I got and Henry would want me to make the best of it.”

The two sat in silence, one stitching and one still, both lost in memories for different reasons.

Finally Hazel spoke again, “you want some more tea, hon?  And how bout a biscuit?  That little one would love some of my biscuits and honey.”

Sadie nodded her head, still lost in her own thoughts.  She stared at the fire as it danced in front of her and she knew.

Today, sitting on the sofa, she remembered it was in that very moment she decided to face her pain and learn to “make the best of it” like Ms. Moses said.   She took a deep breath and pulled back the thin cardboard and looked into the box.  There they were, brightly colored ornaments she’d made throughout her whole life.  Her breath caught in her throat and water filled her eyes instantly at the sight of them.   She sat there, tears streaming while the snow fell, and remembered what it was like to be a child again.  To be held close and protected, before pain and suffering crashed into her life.  Back when snowmen might have been real and her only worry was getting her chores done so she could go play. 

She turned her head and started to close the box when she felt the Holy Spirit speak to her heart.  “Go on, I am with you.”  With courage that wasn’t her own, she reached inside and pulled out an ornament from kindergarten.  It was brightly colored, although faded from the years. She remembered when she’d made it and the feeling of pride that welled in her heart.  She’d run home to Momma and smiled her biggest toothless grin as she presented it to her.  Momma made such a fuss over it and hung it on the very front of the tree.  Looking at the spindly thing now she wondered what her mom was thinking putting it in such a noticeable place.   A small giggle escaped as she wiped tears.  “Oh, Momma,” she whispered.  She reached in and pulled out another, and another as she wiped tears and walked down memory lane.   

Why do people have to die?

She’d asked this question a million times.  There was never an answer, never one she was willing to accept.  It was always easier to pretend she was “back there,” back where they’d come from.  She’d kept her very much alive in her mind and never entertained the fact that she wasn’t.   

Until today. 

Hazel said something else around the fire that resonated so deeply with Sadie, she couldn’t get it off her mind.  “Ya know, Henry gave so much of himself.  When someone gives like that, they’re never really gone.  You can see ‘em and feel ‘em in all of the things around you.”

Sadie looked around the room, the vase on the table, the quilt on her bed, the ornaments now spread across the sofa and her lap, all ways her mother gave of herself.  “I feel you Mom, way down deep and I see you all around me.  You’ll never really be gone, will you?  As long as I have breath, you’ll be remembered and cherished and you will live on in my heart.”

Sadie lowered her head and gave in to the tears.  She cried for the loss, she cried for what would never be, and she cried because she missed her mother more than she could ever put into language.   And, at last, she cried because her little one would never know her. 

Words she’d heard in a sermon came tumbling to the front of her jumbled thoughts… Even on our darkest days, if we help each other, we can overcome anything.

And, immediately, she thought of Ms. Moses.

In the beginning she knew, but, after today, she had to ask, who was really helping who?

His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood.

When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

My Hope is Built: The Lesson

Sadie knocked on the door with polite precision.  She was so excited for today.  Abe was comfortable with her visits to Ms. Moses’s all alone since she’d invited them in for tea a while back.  Sadie had been as faithful as the rising and setting of the sun since.  Every week she’d show up, knock on the door, hand Hazel flowers she’d picked along the way and a loaf of her not so famous homemade bread. Then she’d make her way to the table.  No one made sun steeped tea like Ms. Moses, sweetened to perfection with golden honey.  They’d cut the bread and talk of scriptures and how the Lord was teaching them new things.  Of course, Sadie did most of the talking, but she didn’t mind.  Each week Ms. Moses opened up a little more and Sadie could feel a break through slowly happening. 

Today was most exciting because she was going to learn to crochet.  She couldn’t believe her ears when Ms. Moses offered to teach her.  Sadie nearly burst with excitement and waited all day for Abe to get home to tell him about it.   “I’ll need a crochet hook,” she’d told Abe.  Money was tight but the church had finally been able to pay a small wage so the sale of her eggs wasn’t the only money in the house.  “I have no idea how to pick one, are there different sizes?” she’d said to him.   His answer was a blank stare and she knew right then she’d have to continue this talk with the clerk at the mercantile.  Surely he could tell her what to get. 

But that was all old news, because the day had finally arrived and Sadie was sipping tea with her “new” friend, Hazel.  That was another exciting milestone in this friendship adventure.  Ms. Moses told Sadie her name was “Hazel and you should call me by it.”  It was still a struggle to NOT say Mrs. Moses, but Sadie was trying her best.  

The walk to Hazel’s little cabin in the woods was glorious. The sun was shining in full glory and the wind was blowing the tops of the trees.  The leaves blew back and forth and it seemed to Sadie they were waving hands of praise to the Maker.  It felt like the whole world was smiling on her as she reached down and rubbed her round belly.   Her suspicions had been proven true: a new little Henderson would be joining them around Christmas.  She secretly hoped for a December 25th baby, a perfect gift from God above.    All of it was more than her heart could contain and she, while swinging her worn picnic basket full of treasures, sang enthusiastically for the forest creatures to hear

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled

How often she had fled to the Lord in the early days of their ministry.  No electricity, no food, no friends, they were tough days.   But, she and Abe recollected often how the Lord had given them so much, more than they deserved.  She sang the verse again, this time a little louder and she imagined the wind carrying the words right up to heaven, landing softly at the feet of Jesus. 

Sadie sipped on her tea and ate the bread a little quicker than her Momma would’ve liked.  “Be ladylike, Sadie.”  She could hear her mother’s voice as plain as day in her mind.  Oh how she missed her.  As soon as Sadie felt it was polite, she reached down and put the basket she’d packed with yarn and accessories on the table.  She was nearly giddy at the idea of making a blanket for the sweet little one joining them soon.  Ms. Moses took the subtle hint and began clearing the saucers and tea cups.  She motioned for Sadie to follow her from the small kitchen into the living room where two old rockers sat in front of the fireplace.  The fireplace was clean as a whistle since no fire was needed in the heat of summer, but Ms. Moses sat by it every night none the less.

Sadie gathered her things, filling both arms, and headed to the rocker.  The moment she was seated she felt the atmosphere in the room change.  Hazel looked at her, tears streaming down her weathered cheeks.  “Oh, Mrs. Mos.. Hazel, what’s wrong?” Sadie started to rise and Ms. Moses immediately waved her hand to stay seated.  “Nothin’s wrong, or maybe everythin’ is wrong.  I don’t know.  It’s just the first time a livin’ soul has sat in that rocker in so long.  It was Henry’s.”  “I can move, we can sit at the kitchen table,” Sadie stammered with wide empathetic eyes and began to heave her heavy abdomen forward.  “No ma’am, we’s sittin’ right here.  Henry would want us to.”  Ms. Moses reached for the hankie hanging from her apron pocket and wiped her tears.  She gave her a nose a good blowing; Sadie would later tell Abe, through bittersweet tears, it sounded like a goose honking. 

Sadie sat back in the rocker, feeling the heaviness of the moment and not knowing what to do about it.  She bowed her head gently, as not to be too obvious, and prayed in her heart Lord, I have no idea what it feels like to lose the man of my dreams, but I know what loss feels like.  Would you please give me words and a heart of love as Mrs. Moses feels the freshness of this enormous loss? I trust, you, Father.

Ms. Moses began to explain the “magic” of crocheting, and Sadie drank her words like cool water on a hot summer day.  She was amazed at how patient and kind Hazel was as she spoke, so unlike their first encounter.  And, quite frankly, unlike many of the encounters after that.  It affirmed in Sadie’s heart that hurting people don’t always have the strength to do anything but survive and she resolved to love Hazel even more unconditionally.   Something beautiful was happening in that little mountain cabin.  A relationship was being born and it wasn’t because either of them meant for it to happen.  Sadie had followed the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit and now, here they were, the teacher and student.   You could argue which one was the teacher and which one was the student, the roles slipped back and forth depending on the day.

This day, Ms. Moses was the teacher and she sent Sadie home with an assignment to practice working with the crochet hook.

And Sadie did.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go well and what should have been several nice rows of stitching was a mess and not even Hazel could tell where Sadie had gone wrong.  So much like life.  We try so hard and still we make a mess, Sadie thought the next week as she was walking home on what had become her favorite trail.  Her grin grew even wider when she felt her little one squirm.  She rubbed the top of her belly as she walked, “You are so loved, my sweet tiny wonder.  I can’t wait to hold you in my arms and tell you stories of Jesus.”  Overhead the birds were chirping a beautiful melody, and in that precise moment Sadie realized, there was nothing in the whole world that could make her any happier. 

Ms. Moses stood on the porch until Sadie was long out of sight.  She wiped unexpected tears as she thought how life had not gone as planned.  But, after many years living, this one thing she knew, you have to trust.  Even when everything around you falls apart and despair chokes your soul.  If you muster what little strength you have and trust, someday the hurt won’t be so unbearable.  The Lord will send an unexpected miracle into your life.  “You’d like this one, Henry, she doesn’t believe in givin’ up.”  She spoke into the silence and reached for the hankie hanging from her apron pocket.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

My Hope is Built: Visitation

Sadie stood and wiped her brow.  The coolness of the morning was slowly being stifled by the rising sun, it had already begun its daily march across the pale blue sky.  Morning dew was evaporating causing a misty steam to rise from the earth.  Sadie could feel the temperature rising and realized she’d lost track of time. She loved working in the garden; it was her very first one.  Abe had tilled up the soil with a second-hand hoe he’d picked up from a church member.  She’d spent long hours planting seeds and keeping the rows watered while pulling weeds.  They’d put up a fence to keep the critters from feasting on newly sprouted vegetables.  She loved this soft earth, she loved how tending to the plants helped them to produce and grow.  She’d often thought her relationship with Christ looked strikingly similar.  He’d tend to her, fill her with living water and provide room for growth.  She also saw the parallel in relationships around her.  How a friendship or marriage could grow deep roots and produce fruit if properly tended.  But, this morning, her mind wasn’t on any of those things.  She was thinking of Ms. Moses.  She and Abe had begun visiting her weekly after they’d had a run in at the mercantile.  That same evening Abe had prayed for Ms. Moses on the porch with Sadie and again during the night when God had awoken him.  It was a few days later Abe surprised her with the idea of visiting Ms.  Moses together.  They would take her a loaf of fresh bread Sadie had learned to make and properly introduce themselves.

Since that first visit, when Abe boldly stood on Ms. Moses’s porch trying unsuccessfully to make small talk, they’d been back nearly every week to check on her and bring bread.  They were never invited inside, but that was okay, at least she didn’t point a shot gun at them.

Sadie, satisfied with her morning work, turned and headed to the little cabin.  She hollered to Henrietta, Daisy and Stella, “see you later, ladies, we’re headed to visit Mrs. Moses.”   She was sure they clucked in response.  She closed the door of the small home and made a beeline to the bedroom to change into her simple blue skirt.  These days it was getting harder and harder to button, she had suspicions but hadn’t said anything to Abe about the possibility…the car door closing interrupted her thoughts.  Why’d you linger in the garden, Sadie, she scolded herself.  Abe would have to wait a few minutes before she’d be ready, her hair was a fright and she hadn’t put on her shoes. 

Abe pulled into the grass in front of their small dwelling.  Their weekly visits to Ms. Moses’s house were made on foot, down a trail less traveled. He had been praying about this visit today, it seemed the old lady never warmed up to them.   She’d take the fresh loaf of bread and stand staring, barely speaking, until Sadie and Abe dismissed themselves.  He’d decided the best part of the entire event was the pleasant walk with Sadie through the woods.  They’d pick wild daisies and occasionally see a critter stumble across the path.  They were sweet times and no amount of sour treatment from anyone could spoil them.

Abe opened the front door and Sadie was hopping on one foot out of the bedroom trying to get her shoe on quickly.  “Almost ready” she declared.  Abe couldn’t help but smile at his beautiful, innocent, loving bride.  If Sadie couldn’t find a way into Ms. Moses’s heart, he’d have to question if she even had one. 

Ms. Moses was sweeping off the small front porch, getting ready for the preacher and his wife to visit.  They probably had no idea how she’d come to appreciate those few minutes of kindness.  Every week she’d tell herself she was going to invite them in for tea steeped in the sunlight, but every week she’d stammer over a few words and be glad when they were gone.  Henry always handled company when he was alive, another reminder of how very much she missed him. 

Today would be different though, today she would be brave ask them in.

Abe stopped Sadie and bowed his head for a quick prayer before they were within eyesight of the cabin.  “Lord, give us words to say, fill our mouths with good things just like you promise in Isaiah 81:10.  Mrs. Moses is such a hurting soul, but you’ve never left her alone in her pain.  Teach us to be your hands and feet.  In Jesus name, Amen.”  “Amen.”  Sadie whispered. She had long been praying for Ms. Moses and she had dreams of a friendship one day.  She couldn’t explain it, but her soul felt drawn to this older woman, she wanted to learn from her.  She sensed beneath the hard shell of hurt was a lifetime of wisdom and Sadie wanted deeply to know more.

When they arrived Ms. Moses was already on the porch looking for them.   Abe was glad she seemed receptive to these little visits.  “Good morning, Mrs. Moses,” he said through his smile.  “Good mornin’,” she responded as she swayed lightly from side to side.  She was so uncomfortable.  But, she’d made up her mind, and Henry told her more than once she was as stubborn as a mule when she’d decided on something.  “Won’t ya come in?”  There. She’d said it.  The words hung heavy in the air.  Sadie and Abe stood shocked with mouths hanging slightly open.  Abe quickly regained his composure.  “Why, yes, Mrs. Moses, we’d love to.”   “Alrighty then,” she turned on a dime and headed into the house.  Abe gave Sadie a gentle push queuing her to follow Ms. Moses.  She took a step and looked at Abe eyes wide, he gave her a little wink in response.  Praise the Lord, we’re making some progress, he thought and prayed simultaneously.

Ms. Moses set a couple of saucers at the small wooden table.  Henry made it for them years ago, he could make or fix anything she reckoned.  It was the first time in so long anyone sat there, she’d been sitting by the fire to eat.  The table held too many memories.  She took the bread Sadie had given her and set about cutting it into slices thick enough to hold a generous portion of creamy butter and then topped it with homemade strawberry jam.  She poured two mason jars full of golden sun steeped tea and placed them on the serving board and brought her offerings to the table. 

Sadie and Abe ate and drank in awe, so thankful God had opened Ms. Moses’s heart enough to invite them in.

The conversation was slow, at best.  But, Sadie didn’t mind.  They talked of chickens and gardens, and Abe invited her to church.  It wasn’t long until the tea glasses were empty and Abe announced they needed to take their leave.  He had some church business to attend to. 

Sadie walked on a sunbeam all the way home.  She chattered and stopped to pick wildflowers.  She still couldn’t believe how far they’d come from her first experience with Ms. Moses to now.  She was watching a miracle unfold and was keenly aware that God wasn’t done yet.  Oh, Lord, you’re always working even when I can’t see, she prayed silently. 

“Hallelujah!”  She squealed and Abe agreed.

She flew into the door when they arrived home and headed straight for the cabinet where she kept her favorite vase. It was another heirloom from her mother.  She took her time and arranged the flowers she’d picked on the trail, humming while she worked.  After fussing over them a while, she sat the finished product on the table and stepped back to admire her work.   

“They’re daisies, Momma,” she whispered under her breath, “your favorite.” 

My Hope is Built: Prayers of the Righteous

Sadie stood stunned for a moment and then stepped to the right.  Still no words came to her mind.  Ms. Moses, feeling heat rise in her cheeks because of their previous encounter, also stepped to the right and again the two bumped into one another.  Could this get any more awkward? Sadie thought, this time stepping to the left.  Ms. Moses did the same.  To any onlookers it might’ve looked like the two had begun to dance, but that would be a gross misinterpretation of the uncomfortable situation.   With the silence starting to feel palpable, Sadie blurted out the first thing that came to mind.  “Oh, Mrs. Moses, I’ve been praying so hard for you.”  Ms. Moses froze.  In what seemed like an eternity, she finally looked up at Sadie with piercing eyes, “you don’t even know me.”  With that she stepped past Sadie and escaped out onto the street.  She was in her wagon and on her way home before Sadie could respond.

Ugh! Why did I say that??  She chastened herself.   

Sadie was still standing in front of the door when the clerk motioned for her to come to the counter.  Stunned at what just happened, she walked over mindlessly and stood in front of him.  What had been such a glorious day had suddenly turned sour.  “Don’t mind her,” the clerk said quietly, “she’s been angry since her husband passed a while back. She didn’t used to be that way; she and Henry were two of the happiest people I’ve ever known.  Henry could fix anything.  He’d mend fences, fix roofs, clear property. He was a hard worker and one of the kindest souls you’d ever meet.  He passed away of a heart attack and I think her heart died along with his.”

Sadie was taken back by his words.  Her heart dead? That seemed like an overstatement; broken?  Most certainly.  Crushed, even.

Later that evening as she and Abe sat on the small porch watching the sun melt toward the earth, she told him of Ms. Moses and her broken heart.  Tears fell as she thought of this small woman living in the woods by herself.   She couldn’t imagine her life without Abe, it would be unbearable.  She was telling her beloved exactly that when he took her hands and began to pray.  “Father, we don’t know Mrs. Moses, but you do.  We have no idea what to say, but you do.  Comfort her in this time of loss, heal her heart and soften the anger she uses as a shield of protection. She must be lonely, Lord, please allow us to be your hands and feet, to minister as much as she will allow.  In Jesus name, Amen.”  Sadie wiped her tears and repeated after him, “Amen.”

Ms. Moses put away her bought goods and bedded the animals for the night.  She couldn’t get that blonde haired girl off her mind.   Why in the world did she have to run into her today?  She felt the heat still in her cheeks since the incident.   She never asked anyone to pray for her; the thought made her uncomfortable.  She was private and tried to keep to herself, but it felt like this girl could see straight into her soul.   Why does this hurt so much? She thought as she wiped away angry tears.   She pulled out the cast iron skillet and threw a log into the pot belly stove and set about the task of cooking dinner.  The bacon popped and crackled sending grease onto the front of her apron, but her mind wasn’t in the kitchen.  She was remembering a conversation she’d had with Henry just before he died.  “Hasn’t the Lord been good to us, Hazel?”  He’d said with that famous smile on his face.  She’d agreed wholeheartedly because it was true.  But, now standing over the hot stove in a house that felt as empty as her heart, she wasn’t so sure.  Why’d you take him, Lord?  Why’d you leave me here by myself?  Why’d you have to break my heart?  How am I supposed to make it without him?  This is too hard.  These were the conversations she had so often with the Savior.  She just wasn’t sure she’d ever be okay again.

“And this is why Sadie is praying for you, Hazel.”

She heard the voice in her mind but it may as well of been out loud.  It was so clear and so certain it jarred her from her reminiscing.  She looked around but knew instinctively no one was there.  It had been a long time since she’d heard the Lord so clear, but she recognized his voice.   Or maybe it was more like she felt his voice.  Either way she stood frozen.   The Lord had told Sadie to pray, how could she argue with that?

Abe could hear the crickets singing in perfect harmony through the thin walls of the cabin.  The moon was shining through the window casting shadows over the bed.  Sadie was sound asleep tucked into the quilt her mother had given her.  He felt strangely awake.  He knew from past experience being awake like this was often the Lord calling him to pray.  He slipped out of bed and headed to the small living room and knelt by the chair.   Lord, I know you’re stirring my spirit for a reason, what am I to pray about?  Immediately Ms. Moses came to mind.  Abe began to pray a second time for the elderly soul in the woods.  His heart was tendered to her brokenness and he knew the Lord was keenly aware of her unimaginable loss.  “How gracious you are to put us on the hearts of others,” he spoke softly into the darkness.   He wasn’t sure how long he stayed kneeling there, but when he finally did rise his knees cracked and ached.   He walked in the moon dripped shadows back to the bedroom and slipped under the covers and stared at the face of his beautiful bride.

The only thing more beautiful than her appearance was her heart was the last thought he had before he drifted into restful slumber.

Ms. Moses was up way into the night.  She just couldn’t sleep.   The fire danced as her crochet needles moved quickly in repetitive motion.  She hummed softly “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and tears spilled down her cheeks.   Every hymn brought back a memory.  It seemed everything in her life brought back a memory.  How many conversations had she and Henry been lost in in front of this very fire?  Now his rocking chair sat next to hers empty, a constant reminder he was never coming back.

Her heart ached at the thought of it.

She plucked the hankie from her pocket as another droplet fell on the ball of yarn in her lap. Her customers would never know these carefully crafted pieces were baptized in her tears.

“How long, Lord?  Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”  Psalm 13:1