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

My Hope is Built: Summerville

Ms. Moses puttered around the house until the sun was up.   She didn’t sleep well these days and her shoulders slumped with the weight of it.  She stopped and leaned on the broom handle to wipe her face with the hankie hanging loosely from her pocket.  There was no task big or small that didn’t take her to a memory.  These were difficult days.  “Back to work,” she muttered to no one and began to hum, the broom swaying in rhythm.  Old hymns were her favorite.  She and her beloved sat by many an evening fire singing together.  Neither could carry a tune in a bucket but Henry always reminded her that the Lord was more concerned with her heart than her ability.  “Make a joyful noise,” he’d say and flash her the biggest smile.  Her heart tendered at the thought of it.  He’d been gone for months but the pain still felt fresh.  She walked over to the mantle above the fireplace and stared at the picture, it was their wedding day.  Such a fancy thing to have a picture, she thought.  She wouldn’t give it up for all the gold in the world, but she’d give up all the gold in the world to relive that moment in time.

The rooster crowed interrupting her thoughts.   

“I’m coming.”  She walked to the door and slipped on her old work boots.  They’d seen better days, the hole in the toe bearing witness.   The chickens were putting up such a fuss this morning, maybe they were a little stir crazy too.  Spring had come slow this year.  “Gonna start tilling up the ground for the garden soon, little ones.”  She talked as though they listened.  “I’m gonna plant okra, squash, peas, corn and maybe some watermelon.   Prayin’ for a good harvest so we’ll have plenty to get us through the winter.”  She spoke as she threw seed down for breakfast.   “Got any eggs for me this mornin’, girls? Lookin’ forward havin’ one with grits.”   The thought of breakfast brought back more memories.  She and Henry finishing chores and meeting in the house to talk of plans for the day.  She’d pull out the black iron skillet her Momma passed down and fry bacon and eggs together.   Nothing like a fried egg in bacon grease; her mouth watered thinking about it.  Her eyes watered thinking about him.

“Ah, well, this is the day the Lord made, I’m gonna do my best to remember that.”

She spoke walking back to the cabin with a basket of eggs on her arm.

After breakfast, Ms. Moses wrapped up the crochet pieces she’d made by firelight and tied the package with twine.  It was time to make a trip into town and drop them at the mercantile.  Folks loved her work and it was an honest living.  She’d pick up some feed for the chickens and her old mare and some wire to fix the hole in the chicken coop.  She thought she might allow herself a piece of candy if the mood struck her just right.  It was a beautiful day and even though her heart felt as heavy as her cast iron skillet, she couldn’t help but smile at the new life springing up all around her.

Henry loved spring.

“Seeds.”  She said to the old mare as she put on the harness.  “I’m gonna get seeds for the garden today.”  The horse whinnied in response and Ms. Moses patted her on the backside.  She was so glad to get out of her stall she didn’t even mind when Ms. Moses backed her up and secured her to the small wagon. 

Spring was what they all needed.

Sadie fed her chickens quickly and headed to the barn to milk Lucille.  She was excited because spring was fully blooming and she could spend time with the animals without her cumbersome shawl.   She made eggs for breakfast and quickly changed clothes so she could ride with Abe into town.  It wasn’t much of a town compared to where they’d come from, but it did have a mercantile and a post office, and she planned to visit both.  This was their once a week visit to the small settlement, well, except for Sunday. But she didn’t count that day because it was for church and not running errands.  She and Abe had established a schedule that seemed to work well.  One day a week they spent visiting the people in the surrounding community and another day she went to mail letters and drop off eggs to sell at the mercantile.  She’d saved some money from the sale of her eggs and today she planned to buy seeds to start her very first garden.  She chattered of anything and nothing as she put on her simple blue skirt and white collared shirt buttoned all the way to the top.  She would plant watermelons, squash, okra, peas and collard greens.   The thought of anything but eggs made her giddy.  She was quick to thank the Lord for all the eggs and occasional bacon or peas her husband brought home, she didn’t want to have an ungrateful heart.  But, something different really did sound delightful.

The ride in was pleasant.  The windows were rolled down and her hair whipped around her face and landed in her mouth.  She didn’t care, this was a special day and no amount of windblown hair could dampen her mood.  The roads were dusty but the sky was blue.  She and Abe sang hymns at the tops of their lungs the entire way.  When the blue Chevrolet rolled into town Abe parked it in front of a short line of buildings that made up nearly the entirety of Summerville.  Sadie looked in the mirror mounted on the car door then licked her fingers to flatten her hair.  She brought her blue ribbon and tied it around her pony tail, then she opened the door and stepped out onto the narrow sidewalk.  It stretched the length of the lined up buildings. “I’m going to start at the Post Office,” she told Abe who stood on the other side of the car.  He nodded and headed toward the small church building.  

She loved the little church building.  She sat on the front row each week and thanked the Lord for this mission.  She also thanked the Lord for Mrs. Winnie who plucked out the songs on the piano.  She chastened herself for not taking piano lessons more seriously as a little girl.  She figured what she couldn’t give musically she could with hard work and a smile, so that’s what she did.  Once she finished her errands she’d head to the church and polish the pews, line up the hymnals and pick up any clutter.  

She prayed for the services and the people while she worked. 

She entered the Post Office and laid the letters on the counter; her mother would be so happy to hear from her.  And then she headed for the mercantile.  Ms. Moses had just finished her purchase and was headed to the door when she barreled straight into a blue skirt.   She was looking down so not to make eye contact with anyone, she still wasn’t ready for any real human interaction since the loss of her beloved.  It took all her energy to face each day on her own much less try and make small talk with others.  No, it was still too much.  So, she’d enter the store, lay the package tied in twine quietly on the counter and head to the back to pick up what she needed. 

No need for pointless chatter. 

“Thank you, Mrs. Moses,” The clerk would always say and she’d wave him off.  Once she’d gathered her supplies the clerk would put them on her running tab. She’d load them in the small wagon and head home.  Then she’d unburden the old mare of her load and give her a quick brushing for her effort.   She’d close up the stall and head inside to start supper. She just didn’t have the heart to do anything more.

This is how her trips to town always went.

Well, since Henry died.

But, today was different.

She ran straight into the blue skirt right before she reached the door.  She looked up and those blue eyes pierced her soul.  She’d been feeling a bit convicted since she held the gun to this pretty little blond haired girl.  Sadie stood stunned; it was her!  The lady from the woods.  It had been weeks since she wandered out to her cabin.  Sadie hadn’t stopped praying for her; every day she’d ask the Lord to watch over her, and she hoped their paths would cross again.  And now, completely unexpected and out of the blue, the Lord had answered her prayer.

My Hope is Built: Rev. Abe Henderson

Reverend Abe Henderson pulled the old Chevrolet into the driveway of the small home he shared with his bride, Sadie.  He turned off the ignition and sat in silence.  This was his first official day of paying house calls to his parishioners and he felt utterly spent.  How did you do it, Lord?  How did you minister to so many and never seem to lose heart?  He was thinking specifically of the last home he’d visited, there wasn’t enough food for the family to have dinner; or at least that how is seemed.  How could five potatoes and one onion feed three little mouths not to mention Mom and Dad?  And yet, they’d invited him in and offered him water with grateful hearts.  Such a stark contrast to his former life.  Food, or the lack thereof, was never a thought back then. There was always plenty.

He pushed the car door open, the scraping metal breaking his train of thought.  Again, he thanked the Lord for the old automobile, having it was a small miracle.  Never mind the gas station was miles and miles away, he kept a gas can behind the chicken coop in case of emergency.  He willed his legs to move, stepped onto the sparse grass and made his way to the front door.  He could smell dinner as he walked up the porch steps. His countenance lifted before he ever opened the door.   Sadie would be just inside. He knew the moment he walked in she would capture him with her big, beautiful smile.  The light in her baby blue eyes still made his knees weak.  How in the world she ever fell for a guy like him remained a mystery.  She was way out of his league; he was glad she had no idea.  He was blessed more than he deserved, he surmised.  He thanked the Lord often.

She didn’t disappoint.

Once she heard the rusty hinges on the front door, she put down the pot she was holding, wiped her hands on the hand-me-down apron from her Mother and headed for him.  Her smile was contagious and her hug made all the burdens of the day melt away.  He loved this woman more than his own life, and he told her often.  He’d been honest with her, she knew when she married him things would not be easy.  He felt called to minister, and to minister to the least of these.  Wealth would be highly unlikely and yet she still said yes.  She was used to so much more, yet she never complained.  I don’t deserve her, Lord, but I am so glad she’s mine.  This was the exact thought on his mind when she leaned back, noses touching, and told him it was eggs again for dinner. He could hardly wait for Spring when they could plant a garden, but for now he’d thank the good Lord for her chickens. 

And for her heart. 

Abe sat at the table as Sadie piled a generous portion of eggs onto two plates.  She placed one in front of Abe and the other for herself.  She then filled two glasses of water from the sink and took her place beside him.  Abe watched her move back and forth and then finally sit down.  He took her hand and bowed his head.  “Father, thank you for this food.  Thank you for my beautiful Sadie.  Thank you Henrietta, Daisy and Stella and Lucille.  Thank you for a home to live in and for your provision.  We give thanks in all things.  In Jesus name, Amen.”  “Amen.”  Sadie repeated after him. 

Their dinner conversation consisted of concerns and hopes for this new place.  They talked of weather and of the folks Abe had visited.  It was such a poor community but he’d never seen such gratitude as he went from house to house.  Sadie looked forward to the garden she and Abe dreamed about, she imagined sending baskets of vegetables to those who needed them.

It was after the conversation lulled that Sadie stood up and lit a candle. Then, she picked up the plates and headed to the sink to start the dishes.  Abe was right behind her carrying the empty glasses. It was in the candlelight they stood over the sink, one washing and the other drying, that she brought up the subject of Ms. Moses.  She shared how she’d gone out for a walk and took a trail that was less traveled.  She told him of the butterflies and the raccoon.  Abe’s eyes danced with the flicker of the candle as she spun her tale.  Then, she took a deep breath and told him of her encounter with Ms. Moses.  Abe stopped wiping the table and stood straight facing Sadie with deep concern on his face. 

“That could’ve gone really badly, Sadie.” 

“I know, but it didn’t.”  Sadie paused and then said thoughtfully,   “she seemed so hurt, something in her eyes, they looked hollow, like her soul was tucked away somewhere deep inside for no one to see.”

Abe tried to listen but his mind kept going to what could have happened instead of what did.  “I don’t want you going out there anymore, not by yourself.  It could be dangerous,” he said with finality in his voice.

Sadie’s heart fell, she was afraid he might say something like that and she desperately wanted to honor her husband.  He had her best interest at heart and she knew it. 

Long after their conversation, she lay in bed listening to his rhythmic breathing silently praying for this peculiar lady in the woods.  Something about her wouldn’t be forgotten, something in her eyes begged for understanding.  She felt in her spirit God has caused their paths to cross, she was sure of it.  But, Abe was so clear, she was not to go out there alone.  She couldn’t think of another human being in those parts she could ask to go with her.   So, she did what she knew, she prayed.

“Father, I know you see all of us just as we are.  There is no hiding from you.  If it is meant for Mrs. Moses and me to be friends, please make it possible.  Does she know you, Lord?  I hope she does.  Help me to find a way to be a blessing to this soul without being indifferent to the concerns of my husband.  Please help Henrietta, Daisy and Stella to lay plenty of eggs for tomorrow and it would be such a blessing if Lucille had enough milk to last the day.  Thank you, Lord, Amen.”

“Oh, and if you could find a way for this little place to have electricity, I would be so grateful.  Amen.”

“Not that I’m complaining, Lord, I’m grateful for all we have, really I am.  Amen.”

That’s how it went so often for her, she never seemed to quite be done talking to her Savior and friend. 

These were simple days and there was not a care in the world she didn’t take to Jesus. 

She rolled over gently not to wake Abe and the felt warmth of moonbeams spill across her face.  She closed her eyes and listened to the crickets play a full symphony as she drifted off into peaceful sleep. 

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3