A Well-known Storyteller, Author and Inspirational Speaker

The Pumpkin Giant (Note: Addition to October Blog)

The Pumpkin Giant

Mary E. Wilkins, from the book, The Lost Half Hour by Eulalie Steinmetz Ross,

Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc NY c1963

Adapted for oral presentation by Maxine J. Bersch.

The first time I told this was at St. Andrews school library, in Richmond, VA. To a third and fourth grade audience.  The librarian sent me a note along with their letters and said they were still laughing and talking about it.  That was many years ago, when I used to go down there once a week to the third and fourth grades.  I don’t know why she only had me for those two grades.  I was rather new to public storytelling in those days and I just went because I had a call from the story league that they needed someone, and would I go, so I went for quite a while.

This story is very tellable, but has to be adapted for telling.  I have taken the liberty of putting it into storytelling form, as near the way I tell it as I can make it, I use this song with the autoharp and then I tell the story. This song I learned from my two older sisters, Irene and Clementine who sang it as they washed the dishes and I helped

 

THE LONE PUMPKIN

Oh, a lone pumpkin grew on a green pumpkin vine,

He was large,– he was fat,– he was yellow!

“No silly Jack-o-lantern shall I make,” he said,

I’m determined I shall be a useful fellow!”

Refrain:  For the glory of the Jackie is the candle

From the gatepost where he grins, set up so high,

And the glory of the turkey is the drumstick,

But the glory of the pumpkin is the pie!

 

So he raised up his head as the cook came around

And she chose him at once as the winner!

His fondest wish came true!  He was proud pumpkin pie!

And the glory of the big Thanksgiving dinner!

For the glory of the Jackie is the candle

From the gatepost where he grins, set up so high!

And the glory of the turkey is the drumstick!

But the glory of the pumpkin is the pie!

 

Now for the story. The Pumpkin Giant.  Where there are boldened letters or capitals, this is where the storyteller has all the fun.  In a story like this, from the moment you open your mouth, they know they are in for a fun time.  The tone of voice is jolly—the way you string your words out, “A looooong time ago, looooooong before your grandma’s time, there were noooooo pumpkins. AaaaaaaND, that was when the PUMPKIN GIANT LIVED, and believe you me!  Etc etc. They know you are telling a whopper.

A long time ago, long before your grandma’s time, there were no pumpkins.  And that was when the Pumpkin Giant lived and believe you me!  That was one wicked giant.  You have heard all kinds of giant stories, but I am telling you right now that the Pumpkin Giant was the scariest one of all!  He had everybody scared to death of him because he was so terrible. You know that giants were tall—but this giant was taller than any giant that you ever saw..  He had a humongous round yellow head all smooth and yellow, and his eyes GLOWED like coals of fire in his head, and his mouth stretched half way around his head!  It was fitted with two rows of sharp pointed teeth, and the Pumpkin Giant was never known to hold it anyway but WIDE OPEN!

He lived in a castle away up on top of a high hill, and all around it was a moat.  Not a moat with water, like most castles, NO!  His moat was filled with bones!  All I have to say about those bones is, they were not mutton bones, or beef bones, or even chicken bones!  The Pumpkin Giant was fonder than anything else in the world of little boys and girls, and FAT little boys were his favorite dish!

The fear and terror of the Pumpkin Giant spread all over the country, so everybody , even the King on his throne had the GIANT SHAKES! (Here I always do a giant shake from side to side and the audience loves it, but don’t overdo—quickly go into the story) The king had to have his throne propped up to keep it from falling over when he had a spell of the giant shakes!  The reason he was scared was that the Princess Diana, his daughter, was so fat that for the first 12 years of her life she never walked a step, but had to just go rolling around the gardens !  Yes, with her cloth of gold rolling suit, her glittering crown tied on her head, she went rolling up and down the royal rose gardens.  She had 50 soldiers to guard her, but even then the King was worried, because it was known that the Pumpkin Giant was now being known as the Hungry Ole Giant because he took a tonic to make him have an even bigger appetite.

The King issued a proclamation!  Yes! The heralds went forth with the horn—(blow on an imaginary horn) “Hear ye!  Hear Ye!  The King will knight the man who can cut off the Pumpkin Giant’s head.”  Straightway all of the men began to think of ways he could get close enough to that Pumpkin Giant to cut off his head.  The problem was that they all had the Giant Shakes so bad that even if they got close enough they could not hold the sword steady enough to whack off his head!  What a PREDICAMENT!  (I use this word when I have a chance because children Love it!  they love words and they don’t care what the meaning is—they love the sound of them.  This is a favorite one.)Then I add—ABSOLUTELY!  Another one of their favorites.  You will hear them mutter, “Absolutely!”

One old man lived close to the Giant’s castle, and he had a potato farm.  His son was fatter than the Princess Diana!  DEFINITELY.   Can you imagine the unhappiness in that house?  They couldn’t afford 50 soldiers to guard their boy.  The mother had the Giant Shakes so bad that she had to go to bed and stay there.  The boy’s name was Aeneas, the father’s name was Patroclus, and the mother’s name was Daphne.  One morning Patroclus and Aeneas were out in the field digging up potatoes.  I should say Patroclus was digging the potatoes, while Aeneas was rolling around in the potato field.  SUDDENLY THEY FELT THE EARTH TREMBLE,  and there came the giant with his mouth wide open, his eyes glowing like coals of fire! He was almost on them, and Patroclus said, “Get behind me, Aeneas!” He rolled behind his father, but still his fat cheeks were sticking out on either side, and the Pumpkin Giant was getting closer and closer.

Patroclus was not usually a brave man, but he was brave in an emergency and that’s when it counts. (Look each child in the eye as you say that.) When the Giant was right there in front of them, he picked one of his largest potatoes and threw it with all his might, right at the Giant’s big wide open mouth!  The Giant clutched his throat, choked, gasped and stretched out there in the field, very, very still.

Patroclus ran in the house and Aeneas rolled right in behind him.  Daphne stopped shaking and got out of bed for the first time in two years!  They watched the giant from the window, and he just lay there , so they thought he must be dead.  Patroclus sharpened the carving knife and they all went out to the field to cut off the head of the Pumpkin Giant.  Sure enough, he was as dead as a mackerel and they cut his head off and gave it to Aeneas to play with.  Wow!  He was one happy boy to have that big giant’s head to play with!  He rolled all around the potato field with it and all the other boys hung over the fence and watched with envy.

One day, though, he rolled over on it and smashed it all to pieces! That Giant’s head went flying here, there and yonder all over in every nook and corner, and green vines started growing all over where the pieces fell.  Then in the fall there were yellow Giant’s heads on the vines, hundreds of them!!

The people got the shakes all over again!  What if the heads grew bodies and became hundreds of giants?!!But after a while the excitement died down and nothing happened. The Giants heads grew larger and larger and yellower and yellower, and one day, that FAT Little Aeneas couldn’t stand it any longer—he just had to see how they tasted!  So he snuck out with the carving knife, cut a piece out of one of the heads and tasted it.  Wow!  “That is good!” he rolled his eyes and cut another piece and finally finished off that head and went in the house to get some medicine.

“Give me some medicine! I have eaten a whole Giant’s head!”  “Look what you have done! I don’t have any medicine to cure you now!  No Giant Head medicine!  You will surely die!”  She began to cry, Aeneas began to cry, then Patroclus came in and heard the news and he began to cry!  But Aeneas did not die!  So finally, when they saw he was not dead they said, “How did it taste?”  “It was delicious!”  So they brought one in, and Daphne said, “I’m going to make it into a pie!”  She mixed it up with milk, eggs, sugar and spices and made a pie!

NOW, YOU TALK ABOUT SOMETHING GOOD!   They ate the whole pie and baked another one right away.  Then every day they had to have more giant’s head pie! Of course, you and I call them pumpkin pies.   And one day the King was riding by and smelled all those pumpkin pies baking.  “What in the world?”  He went riding up to the house and they brought a pie out for him to taste.  When he tasted that pumpkin pie, he almost fell off of his horse!  He suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to knight Patroclus when he cut off the giant’s head!  He leaned down at that very minute and knighted Patroclus.

Then Sir Patroclus went with the king back to the palace along with Lady Daphne.  They uprooted all the roses and planted pumpkins in their place.  Then it was Patroclus who was the head gardener and Lady Daphne baked the pies.  You can guess that Aeneas rolled around with Princes Diana and ate pumpkin pies.!!OH YES!  Finally they were married and it took fifty archbishops to perform the marriage.  The newspapers all said there had never been such a well matched couple as the two of them when they rolled down the aisle after the ceremony, and, naturally, with nothing but pumpkin pies to eat they lived happily forever after!

A MEDITATION ON HEBREWS 4:7

TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS.

A still, small voice

  I believe that I have received a transformation of my mind, as spoken of in Romans 12.  I have every reason to believe all of that has taken place in my mind.  I can hold to this according to scripture.  When I ask for wisdom I am given it, for James says that he does not withhold it.  In pondering a passage of scripture, I am free to pursue my own thinking without any concern about anything except to know the Lord’s mind about the matter.   

 When we ask for wisdom and then reach conclusions we accept that as being where the Lord has led.  Just now I am thinking about the passage cited above from Hebrews 4:7. (NIV)  I was pondering about the meaning of it.  I asked the Lord for guidance, and now I am writing my thoughts.

  It is a marvelous, supernatural story of how we became creatures able to have receive thoughts– something completely intangible known as a thought! That’s the word to  describe what takes place when God acts on our behalf and gives us the ability to think!  The surgeon may look in vain.  He has never laid his eye on the mind, for it is invisible. Being a storyteller, I cannot allow that to go by without a story.

When God breathed into the nostrils of Adam, the man became a living soul.  God breathed into his nostrils!  He brought him to life with His own breath.  Man was the Father’s crowning creation because, this breath of God made him different from all the other creatures. Just a little bit lower than the angels the Bible tells, and crowned him with glory and honor, being able to think the thoughts the way that God thinks!  Of course, we know when man fell from that place of high standing, he was then deprived of such sacred privilege. He was then in a stage called unregenerate.  He remains in that “unborn” stage until regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit of God.  When that happens God begins to blow His breath on the human soul again and the new person emerges.  He begins the process of growing.  He is first the babe in Christ, then he becomes the person who reads the Bible and prays. Finally, the person wants to know God better.  Then the Lord leads him into the place of complete trust when he allows the Lord to renew his mind. That is when the real adventure with the Lord can truly begin.  Before that it was the process of learning all about the doctrines of salvation, baptism, the resurrection, etc.  After the mind is renewed, the person notices a change in the perspective when God gives him a broken and a contrite heart, and then he begins to see things through God’s eyes and think with the thoughts that God gives when He speaks directly to him, and they become friends.  That’s when the Lord comes in and they break bread together.  The men from Emaeus knew him by the breaking of the bread.

  The special verse I want to think about is Hebrews 4:7. Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.  I find it occurring to me often, but this time I seem to want to linger on it.  I wonder why it came to me today?

I may begin with the word, today.   It means the present time.   Not the experience you had yesterday, nor what you may have tomorrow, but now.  The verse goes on to say, if you will.  Since it does not say nor does it mean, if you should, or just in case you hear his voice.  No, it does not mean that to me; it means, if you will, or “if you wish to hear his voice.”  As I ponder on these wonderful words that tell me plainly, if I want to hear your voice, I must not harden my heart, I ask, how is the heart hardened?  Oh, there is no need to ask that, for I know that very well.   I harden my heart by closing the mind immediately with the will.  “I do not wish to hear this. It is not my worry.  I will not be bothered by this.”  I ask forgiveness for this tendency, I will to hear your voice, dear Lord. Yes! (more…)

STORYTELLING IN LITERATURE APPRECIATION

If we want children to love good literature we must help them to ENJOY good literature!  Story-telling brings pleasure to the child and it is the most effective way to lead to an appreciation of literature.  If reading is a chore, a boring, tiresome chore, then the child will never acquire the taste for it.  This comes from enjoying it with another—preferably with the teacher at school and the parent at home, as well as the Bible teacher at church.

Somewhere I read that William McKinley once said that the mention of willows by a river made him think of the story of Moses in the bulrushes, and brought to mind this sentence, “And she hid the basket among the rushes in a spot where willows hung over the river.” The story had been told to him in childhood and brought him such enjoyment that the teller’s very words left a lasting impression on his mind.  He is quoted as having said, “I believe that story more than anything else gave me fondness for elegant English.”

We can interest children in the life of an author so that they will want to know something of his work.  Visits to 10th, 11th, and 12th grade English classes for storytelling sessions have taught me much about how young people react to biographical stories that I have shared.  The questions after the story are, “Where can I find stories by James Thurber?” (or others).  Robert Louis Stevenson always stirs the interest when I tell of his childhood, how he was ill and could not run and play—how he watched the lamplighter making his rounds, etc.  I sometimes quote selections from A Child’s Garden of Verses and the room becomes very still as the students fall under the spell of the poet.

Through storytelling the author of Treasure Island stands out in the mind of the listener and they become eager to hear more about him and to read more of his works.  A teacher may talk about life in a fishing village.  Every day the father had to go far out to sea in a boat to catch fish. He needed a big catch so that he could sell them and make money for his family.  One day he stayed later than usual and the mother sang a song to the child about the father, saying that he would be home soon.  Then read Tennyson’s poem, “Sweet and Low.” I play the autoharp and sing softly, “Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea.  Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea.  Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me, while my little one, while my pretty one sleeps” The storyteller does not miss these opportunities to introduce the students to poetry in the form of music, which holds great charm in itself.

With the secondary students it is good to give the plots of great literature and read aloud difficult passages to them.  This helps them to know where the writer is coming from, through the storytelling process.  Spending too much time dissecting a piece of literature is a sure kill where the student ends up hating something that they may have enjoyed and loved.  This is something that I have personal experience with since my children were small and hours of time spent in the pursuit of reading.  They are good readers.  I owned a tape recorder when my grandchildren and great nephews and nieces came along, I made tapes for them from their infancy right on up.  As I see it all the time spent in teaching literature is for naught if the teacher fails to instill a love for and a great capacity for the enjoyment of the great masters.  Remember Jesus taught, “First the corn and then the ear!” Begin with the simple folk tale and easy finger play verses!

I am simply hitting the high spots in this little composition, but it is mainly for the parent and the S.S. teacher or church librarian.  The one who is already the English teacher or the literature professor in higher education, will have this love for the wonderful gifts that we have in our literature, and familiarity with the stories or they already tell them so as to bring their students into an understanding and an appreciation for the language that has been preserved for us through the years.  Thank the good Lord for all of their hard work, and for the resulting people we have living it out in their family lives. I seriously doubt that books will ever be replaced by the technological, for the simple reason that books can hold their own!  People like to hold them in the hand and turn the pages!  People like the “feel” of them and the fragrance of the print!

I will add this as a conclusion, The Courtship of Miles Standish has stories from the Bible in it which the teacher should just tell when they occur in the piece. I can think of no literature that we studied in school from elementary right on through high school that our teachers did not enrich through storytelling!  One teacher said, “It made all of the effort worthwhile when a broad-shouldered. sun-burned man went three hundred miles out of his way to see me on a home visit and to thank me for having led him to enjoy poetry.”

EXAMPLES OF STORIES FROM LITERATURE

Browning:  The Pied Piper of Hamlin//others

Geo. Eliot:  Silas Marner ///and Little Eppie

Dickens:  The Christmas Carol// David Copperfield and others

Irving:  Rip Van Winkle //and Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Longfellow:  Courtship of Miles Standish // Hiawatha

Tell the story of St. Francis of Assisi and then tell his Sermon to the Birds

Stevenson:  Treasure Island //Kidnapped

MOLLY WHUPPIE

Retold by Maxine J. Bersch and written as nearly as possible with the words I use to tell

it to boys and girls who always love to hear it.  Now I am placing it here for storytellers     everywhere to pick it off these pages and lend it the voice that it needs to be a great story!  Please!  If you choose to read it aloud, please make your voice into the voice of a teller!  Use your whole personality and make it sound as if you are telling it!  I am 98 and if I can do it, even now, you know very well that you can also!  Read this aloud a few times and practice telling it as I have boldened the words to allow you to express it boldly!  This is the way I always start this story with a BIG sigh of relief and this expression of gladness that what I am going to tell happened a long time ago!  That lets the audience in on the fact that it happened way, way back and that NOW thank goodness!  We don’t have to worry about giants!

I am so glad to say that it was a long time ago that this story took place!  A really long time means before I was born and before my MOTHER was born!  But one time there were three little girls who were all out walking in the woods and they suddenly realized that they had walked off the path and they were LOST in the woods.  They kept on walking, and hoping that they would find the way, but the more they walked, the more lost they were.  At last it was getting dark and they saw a light glowing in a window not far away!  “Goody!” they all went running and  knocked on the door of that house!

The woman came to the door and the oldest asked, “Could we come in?  We are all lost in the woods and can’t find our way home.”  The woman said, “I can’t do that!  I am married to an OGRE and he will kill you and eat you when he comes home.”  They begged and said “We are starving!  Could you please give us a bite to eat? We would eat it and run.”  So she took them in and gave them some bread and milk.   Just as they were taking the first bite the house began to shake all over and they heard  THUMP!  THUMP!  and a horrible voice growling, “fee fie foe fum, I smell the blood of some earthly one!” What do we have here?”

“It’s three little girls that were lost in the woods, and they were hungry.  You are not to touch them. Go on in there and eat your supper.  I have it fixed for you.” You see that ogre’s wife knew how to get his mind off the girls and on to his supper!  He did not answer but he said, “You will spend the night!”  and  he put them in the room with his own three daughters. Molly Whuppie was the youngest and she was smart as a whip; she watched him.  He put gold chains around the necks of his daughters and put straw ropes around her neck and her sister’s necks.  “Aha!” She thought.  “I wonder what that nasty ole ogre is up to?”  And she did not go to sleep– She stayed awake and when she heard the ogre girls snoozing she took the gold chains off their necks and exchanged them with the straw ropes that were around her own and her sister’s necks. Just as she crawled back in the bed that old ogre sneaked in with a club and felt for the ones with the ropes and dragged them out of the bed and beat them unmercifully!  He left them lying there unconscious, thinking what a good breakfast he would have!

Molly shook her sisters awake and whispered, “Be quiet and let’s get out of here!”  As soon as they were outside they began running and they ran for MILES!  As the morning sun was coming up they saw a huge castle and it turned out to be the King’s castle!  They rang the bell hanging there and soon they were telling the King all about escaping the giant ogre.

“I know all about that giant ogre” Yes! The King had heard about that rascal! He went on—“He has a magic sword that hangs over his bed.  If you will go back and bring me his sword, I’ll give your oldest sister my oldest son to marry.”  “I will try,” Molly promised.  She went running away to the ogre’s house, sneaked into his bedroom and hid under his bed.  He came in, ate a big supper and went to bed.  As soon as he was snoring, Molly crawled out and reached for the sword. But just as she had it in her hands it rattled and woke the giant!  Molly ran out the door carrying that sword and the giant was right behind her!  She ran and he ran and she came to the Bridge of One Hair and she got over but he could not so he yelled,” Woe to you Molly Whuppie, if you ever come over here again!”   “Twice  more I’ll come !” Molly called, “I’ll come again!

“You managed well!” that’s what the king said and we are glad to say that the King was true to his word  and gave his oldest son to marry Molly’s oldest sister.  They had a big wedding and after that was over the king called Molly aside an said, “Molly, the giant ogre has stolen my purse of gold.  He keeps it under his pillow.  You get it back for me and I will marry my second son to your second sister.”  And Molly went trotting off again  to the ogre’s house and slipped in while he was gobbling up his supper and hid under his bed again.  Pretty soon the whole house was shaking  with his snoring, and Molly gradually let her hand slide under his pillow, grab the purse and pull it out, and then run like a streak of lightning but that ole ogre had waked and was on her trail.  Hc chased her to the Bridge of One Hair and she got over but he could not so he yelled “Woe to you, Molly Whuppie if you ever come here again!” She called back, “Once more I’ll come !  I’ll come again!”  and sure enough her second sister was married to the King’s second son and they had a big to do that lasted a week or two!

Then that King was a wily ole king and a wily ole king was HE! He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl and he called for his fiddlers three!  He knew Molly had her eye on his youngest son—The Prince Charming! “You are a very clever girl Molly!  How would you like to have my youngest son to marry you? “  Oh, “I would love it!”  Molly was pleased as punch!. YOU KNOW IT! “Well then,”  (the King was smiling a broad smile)“You  will need to bring me the ring off the giant-ogre’s finger.”  So Molly—that very smart one—that Molly, away she skipped  to the giant’s house and hid under the bed! The giant was not long in eating a big supper and off to bed.  It was not long again until he was snoring  and the house was shaking  Molly crept out, then she put a couple of drops of olive oil on his finger, and that ring just slipped off his finger and away she ran without waiting a second, but just as she jumped to the ground from  the window, the giant grabbed her by the arm and yelled, “NOW I’VE GOT YOU MOLLY WHUPPIE!  If I had done as much to you as you have done to me, what would you do to me?”  Molly thought a bit and if a good fairy didn’t give her this thought, then who did? ‘I would put you in a sack with the dog and the cat and with scissors, needle and thread.  I would hang you up on the wall and then I would go out in the woods and find the biggest stick ever and I would come back in and beat you until you were dead!” “That is just what I am going to do,” the ogre growled

He tied her up as she had said and went out to find his stick.  Molly’s brain was whirling! And the fairies whispered!  She began saying in a tone of greatest awe and wonder, “Oh!  Oh!  If only you could see what I am seeing!”  The giant’s wife began begging, “What are you seeing, Molly?” Molly kept on repeating, “Oh! If only you could see what I am seeing.”  The giant’s wife said, “Oh, Molly, let me get in the bag so that I can see what you are seeing.”

Molly took the scissors, cut a hole in the sack, came down, pushed the giant’s wife up in it and quick as a wink she used the needle and thread to sew her into the bag. Then she heard the giant coming and hid behind the door.  He came in and grabbed the sack and began beating it while the dog was barking furiously and the cat was into it with the dog and scratching the woman so she was screaming “It’s me, man!”  But he could not hear her over the noise of the dog and cat so he beat away and Molly ran like the wind. He saw her and ran after her until they came to the Bridge with one Hair” and she got across but he could not so he yelled, “Woe to you Molly Whuppie, if you ever come here again.”  “Never more will I come.  Never again!”

So Molly Whuppie took the ring to the King and what do you think? Well, I can tell you what happened! Molly married  the Prince—  the King’s youngest son, and she never saw the giant ogre again! and  they lived happily ever after!

February Blog

I am visiting with a friend and having a wonderful time, and I came the last week of January so that has made me forget about getting a blog in for February!  Since it is Valentine’s Day and also the birthday of my first born son, to say nothing of our national heroes—I feel that I must not let it go by without a word or two to remind the ones who follow these blogs that I have not forgotten.

I have become extremely interested in the NASA plan to send another rover to Mars in 2020.  The scientists and engineers have selected 8 potential landing spots but they are still studying them and have not made a final decision.  They may change their mind before the big day, but they have certain criteria they have formulated and they will choose one that suits all those conditions.  I think it is most exciting to be on the planet again and more information is being gathered.  It will no doubt lead to our finally sending a manned craft there sometime in the future and that is something I will not be here for, but I certainly wish I could be, for they will be in contact with the astronauts just like we were with the moon landings.

There is no question it will take place.  I just read an article written by the astronaut who was on the moon with the first landing and his name has escaped me at the moment, but he gave many great reasons why we should do that and said that it will definitely take place most likely in this century! We would have been much closer to an actual date had we  been concentrating on the space program as they were supposed to be doing but when President Obama was in office he gave instructions to NASA to not be involved in explorations so the work has been at a crawl pace these last few years.  Nevertheless, they are going at it full speed ahead now and they will catch up in jig time!

This is what I was planning to write about this time in depth, but since I am going to be here for another week, I doubt if I’ll have time to get into the internet and see what all is going on that I wanted to comment on, but this is a thrilling prospect, to me.  I love all the space program. I will try to write some more tomorrow on this subject.

The plan can be read online at: http://go.nasa.gov/1VHDXxg     

I have just gone into internet again and have discovered that the NASA people announced today that they have finalized a plan and they gave the place to find it and read it!  I am placing it here so that you can go in and read the whole thing and praise the Lord along with me, for I believe that all the space exploration has come about because it is in His perfect will that we should find out all that’s possible about our planetary neighbors and discover any sign of life that has existed there in the past!  Wouldn’t this be exciting if they should find signs of life there?!  The previous explorations have brought what the scientists believe to be signs that show water has been on Mars at some distant time in the past!  Where there is water there is the possibility for life in some form!  God breathed LIFE into Adam’s nostrils!  We know that any sign of life is going to be proof positive of the Presence and Power of our Lord, for without Him nothing was made that was made! Everything exists because of His creating power.  Everything is now being maintained because of His great mercy and love for His creation!  I don’t see how it would be possible for the scientists who at present do not believe, could not be convinced should a discovery be made of life having existed at one time on another planet far from the atmosphere of this earth!  God is the Author and the Finisher, the Alpha and the Omega! We who have been “born again,” and our spirits have been “converted,” have had the eyes of the spirit opened and can now see as the Christ allows our human minds to take in His wonderful Truth!  We can see that this universe of trillions of galaxies comparable to our Milky Way, were “spoken” into existence from “Nothing” as the Bible teaches!  I am propped up here writing, and I do not have my Bible close by!  My 98 years have caused me to forget that chapter and verse in the Book.  You can find it with your concordance!  It will be a good exercise for you!

I am so excited about this plan.  You can see it is feasible and they are going ahead with the future of space exploration!  You are excited too!  If you did not stop right in the middle of this and go to that site, you can do that now! I am signing off for this time, with some of the words of our great hymn, The Spacious Firmament as I recall them. I looked them up for you and found the entire text!  You can sing it!

The Spacious Firmament on high,

With all the blue Ethereal Sky,

And spangled Heav’ns, a Shining Frame,

Their great Original proclaim:

Th’ unwearied Sun, from day to day,

Does his Creator’s Pow’r display,

And publishes to every Land

The Work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the Evening Shades prevail,

The Moon takes up the wondrous Tale,

And nightly to the list’ning Earth

Repeats the Story of her Birth:

Whilst all the Stars that round her burn,

And all the Planets, in their turn,

Confirm the Tidings as they roll,

And spread the Truth from Pole to Pole.

What though, in solemn Silence, all

Move round the dark terrestrial Ball?

What tho’ nor real Voice nor Sound

Amid their radiant Orbs be found?

In Reason’s Ear they all rejoice,

And utter forth a glorious Voice,

For ever singing, as they shine,

The Hand that made us is Divine.

This poem is in the public domain.

Joseph Addison

MID-JANUARY THOUGHTS FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW MY BLOGS

Written in memory of sister IRENE JOHNSON BROADDUS
WHO WROTE THE FIRST LINE OF THIS POEM WHICH WAS NOT SAVED,
AND THESE WORDS WERE ALL THAT I COULD REMEMBER.
Maxine Johnson Bersch-Lovern

SNOWSTORM

Silently, softly, with gentle persistence the snow begins to fall,

And the angels forming the trillion flake blanket

Smile, as they cover the fields and all;

For it falls on the orchards and down on the meadows

And the house will soon be a picture of white!

Stark lines mark the sky where stand the tall trees,

Each twig outlined in an artist’s delight!

All are covered completely—a feast for the eye,

And the barn! Thank goodness the logs are huge!

Inside, it is warm; it is snug and dry,

The animals are finding a blessed refuge!

As the work of invisible Hands from the sky

Fill paths to the places we go,

To the cellar, the smokehouse, henhouse and barn,

All the brothers will be shoveling snow.

Still there’s taffy to pull and there’s cocoa to make,

There are chestnuts to roast in the fire.

There are stories to tell, there are games to be played,

Of the stories we never tire.

We beg for the giant tale;, the ghost tales that scare,

The Crazy Engineer of the Train,

Goblins that lurk, someone’s at work,

And moaning and groaning with pain.

We listen, we hear, the dragging chains near,

We shiver, we shake in dread,

While outside, in the snow-covered world, silence

Reigns supreme on its cold ground bed,

But by the fire, inside, there’s the sound of a household

Where happiness rules in full l sway.

Four girls and three boys!  A mother and dad,

And fun around the fire is the way!

Snow pure and white, what a wonderful treat,

A bowl of it is to the tongue!

With vanilla, sugar and cream we did eat,

Snow ice-cream we called it, when young.

My memories of sister IRENE flare up

And I write this to honor her name,

To finish the poem she wrote of the snow,

Which I lost, but never her fame!

My beloved sister she stays in my heart

My playmate, my teacher, my friend,

And from this place she will never depart

‘Ti Jesus brings this life to an end.

For in sixty years of the time we had

There were no cross words to mar

The sweet and precious sister- love

That was my guiding star.

No harsh or critical thing was said,

I wonder how it could be

That she was able to always say

Just what was right for me!

Well, now, today, I wanted to read

That poem describing the snow,

And I wanted so much to talk to her,

As we did so long ago.

I wanted to take a basket of apples

And go upstairs to bed,

And read the books and laugh and talk

About the things we had read.

I wanted to hear her funny remarks

And add my own to the chat,

We whiled in hours that way, you see,

And we always gave tit-for-tat!

I am shedding the tears as I write today

For sister-love cannot be lost,

Enduring and reaching to heaven it is,

Never counting the cost.

I am in need of it today

To give me zip and zing!

I need Irene to make me laugh

And make me want to sing!

There are millions of stars as the old verse said

And flowers in the purple clover,

But another Irene cannot be found

In all the wide world over.

And thank the Lord I am nearer now

Than I’ve ever been before,

Nearer the Father’s house

Nearer that open door!

Thank the Lord for the time he gives

To finish the work He assigned,

And thank the Lord for strength to write,

And thanks for a healthy mind.

And thanks again for the thoughts on snow!

For thoughts of home and kin,

Forever in our hearts to bring

The beautiful memories in.

And give a color to my words,

To paint the snowy scene

That you have given me today

As a message from sister  IRENE!

A Very Speical Christmas Present From Mackie

THE BOY WHO LAUGHED AT SANTA CLAUS

BY OGDEN NASH

In Baltimore there lived a boy
He wasn’t anybody’s joy,
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes,
He hid old lady’s reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk from hungry kittens
And walked through doors marked, “NO ADMITTANCE.”
He said he acted thus because
There wasn’t any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez
Was crying “Boo!” at little babies.
He brushed his teeth they said in town,
Sideways instead of up and down.
Yet people pardoned every sin
And viewed his antics with a grin
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,
“There isn’t any Santa Claus!”
Deploring how he did behave
His parents swiftly sought their grave,
They hurried through the portals pearly,
And Jabez left the funeral early.
Like whooping cough from child to child
He sped to spread the rumor wild,
“Sure’s my name is Jabez Dawes,
There isn’t any Santa Claus.”
Slunk like a weasel or a marten
Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot,
“There isn’t any!  NO!  there’s NOT!”
The children wept all Christmas Eve
While Jabez chortled up his sleeve,
No infant dared hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking!
He sprawled on his untidy bed
Fresh malice dancing in his head,
While presently with scalp a ’tingling
Jabez heard a distant jingling.
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof
Crisply a lighting on the roof!
What good to rise and bar the door?
A shower of soot was on the floor,
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?
The fireplace full of Santa Claus.
Then Jabez fell upon his knees,
With cries of “Don’t” and “Pretty please.”
He howled, “I don’t know where you read it,
But anyhow, I never said it.”
“Jabez,” replied the angry saint,
“It isn’t I, it’s you that aint.
Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!”
Said Jabez then with impudent grin,
“Oh yes there is, and I am him!
Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t!”
And suddenly he found he wasn’t!
From grimy feet to grimy locks
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box.
An ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal
They searched for him but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes
Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup
And went and hung their stockings up.
All you who sneer at Santa Claus
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint
Donner and Blitzen kicked off his paint!

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS 2016

By: Maxine Bersch-Lovern

My first Christmas that I can remember is at age three.  I was awakened by sister Irene who was sent to bring me downstairs for the baby sister would not play with her doll until I was down and playing with her!  I was dressed in a jiffy and when we came to the stairs , I felt that I lifted up and flew all the way down and landed beside the tree.

I told the story that way until I was nine!  Then Mother, in response to my older sister’s complaints that I was being encouraged to “lie” by allowing me to tell it that way, then gave me the straight of it and said, “You must always tell it this way if you wish to be believed.”  The story in full is given in the book, Under the Gooseberry Bush. I am the only one who knows how it felt that morning to soar through the air and land beside the tree!

What a marvelous feeling!  Flying!  And I look forward to being able to fly around at will! It will not be a strange feeling!  I remember it! This morning, I want to say that Christmas mornings are always a reliving in my mind of that first morning! The dear Lord wants me to remember how that feeling stayed with me all during my childhood.  He wants me to keep it in mind!  Therefore. I wish you a very light-hearted Christmas this 2016, and I will here compose a dreamy poem just for those who visit this site  I want to make your Christmas a morning to remember!

Christmas Morning
Oh!  Happy birthday to my friend, and Lord!
The dream I had of flying
Was one that I remembered well
And was accused of lying
When I told of this great feat of mine
That happy Christmas morn,
It was the sight of the Christmas tree,
Which tinsel did adorn!
It was that you were drowsy
Your sister carried you!
You never flew from the upper stair
It simply is not true!
I’ve had to accept that version
Of the story that you brought
And tell it as the “truthful way”
But you gave me the thought!
You alone did understand
The sorrow of that day
When I had to face the “reality”
Of the world and its way.
I had to tell the visible world
The actual thing they saw,
Of Irene carrying me downstairs
While God’s invisible law
Was permanently written on my mind
And safely in my heart,
To always be my big North Star
And from me never part!
I never find it hard to see the Lord
And keep Him near!
I invite Him in when I hear Him knock
To give to Him my ear!
And He listens to my prayerful voice
He gives me His attention,
He stays as long as the time allows
Such sacred Condescension!
I am now nearly ninety-eight
And stand at Jordan’s brink
What will they do with the little child
Who was taught she must not think
That she flew from the top stair down
And landed beside the tree?
If they think that was a lie
Then what became of ME?
When Jesus the Christ came down
And carried me down to see
The beautiful sign of his life,
The lovely evergreen tree!
And planted the invisible world
In the mind where it lives today
And showed her a sign of eternal life
Which will never pass away!
When I take the wings of the morning
And fly to worlds up there,
I’ll experience again the Christmas
When I flew from the very top stair!
And they will have no trouble believing
The story that Jesus tells
And they will know it is true as they listen
To the ringing of Christmas Bells!

November 2016 Blog

Here you are, you wonderful month of November.  How well I remember you from my childhood, and it was when you made your entrance that our place was absolutely the place to be! Although cool and bright October had come and gone, and Grandma Johnson’s annual visit was still giving us many laughs and pangs of regret that she would not stay on and spend the winter with us, as Mother begged, but NO!  At that time she had her husband, Jasper, who always came to hunt while she visited with us, and they owned a sweet little home in St. Albans and she thought there was nothing like her own little home.  Her visits were for one week, once a year, in October so that Grandpa Jasper could go hunting.

So now, when November came. Mother always had her hands full for although the harvest was in, and all the canning done, and the veggies safely in their kiln, there will be the butchering now that the days are cold enough.  There will be sausage to be made and canned, and souse to be made.  My mother was a great home maker.  There was nothing she could not do.  Thank the good Lord that I was born the ninth child of Missouri Hamrick Johnson.  I had my first three grades to her and for that I am forever grateful.

I guarantee when November showed her face in the mountains of West Virginia, that was the time when the ground was covered all over with tiny icicles! Yes!  All frosty and white and crunchy under foot!  And now the nose was all red when I played outdoors a while!

Well, I welcome you back, November, for it is now that the trees are stripped bare and I could see long distances when I stood on my favorite rock cliff and looked out over the hills.  The woods that I walked through to go to school in my ninth year, were quiet now, for the birds were all gone south and the little animals snuggled down in their holes getting ready to take a long nap if they were not already asleep.  The stillness– I can still feel the silence of it. As I approach the bend to the Big Hollow I could now hear the roar of the waterfall, and I paused to rest there.

I loved to rest at this spot where there was a beautiful waterfall and I walked over the top of it on my way home.  I took time here to pick rhododendron leaves and float them over the falls.  Sometimes they were Indians in their canoes, and sometimes it was someone who accidentally went too far and got too close to the falls!  They could not escape and I watched as their canoe was dashed into foamy depths at the base of the falls and swallowed up in the churning waters!

Now, in the waning months of the year, 2016, I realize that in just a short while I will have reached the ninety-eighth year of my life here on planet earth and on the twenty-third of January I will celebrate my birthday!  The Lord of Hosts has done great things for me whereof I am glad!  I would like here to recommend my book of memories, Under the Gooseberry Bush.  In it I have 104 stories of my life and this will carry you back all the way to 1919 the year that I was born.  I start right there, for I have a story of my birth from my mother and from that we know that my life began with a great story of God’s great mercy and grace.

I love the month of November!  By the time Thanksgiving Day arrived, in the place where I lived we were feeling the real winter weather.  Sometimes we had a snow.  I told about that in my story of the time we entertained an angel, unaware!  Well, not exactly unaware for we knew that that the snow drifts were too deep for even a horse to get through to our place.  The drifts were up over a horse’s head in places so when a stranger came walking up to the house, the suspicions were running wild but he acted so down-to-earth  that it was a great mystery to us.  This great story I sent in and it was published in the Guidepost’s magazine, Angels on Earth. It is also in the book, Under the Gooseberry Bush.

No matter what the weather was, we were always going to be toasty warm beside our big fireplace where the boys kept the logs ready to pile on and kept a huge blaze going all the time, so we could play our games in cozy comfort. There is nothing to compare to a wood fire blazing away in a big fireplace with a big family gathered around playing games and having fun with popping corn, cracking nuts, or roasting potatoes or sweet potatoes in the ashes!

In the middle of all this fun, sometimes the father walked through on his way to get a drink of water, and he would stop long enough to ask, “Are the lessons all done?”  The answer had better be “Yes, Sir!” He might say, “Max, you had better bring me your arithmetic home work. I will have to take a look.”  Then one of the older ones would speak up, “That all right, Father.  We checked it for her and she has it all finished.”  Then he would go back to his room where Mother was waiting with his favorite book that she was reading aloud.  It might be The Saturday Evening Post, where they were reading the famous “Scattergood Baines” story.  That was one of their favorites and they couldn’t wait to get up from the supper table, go to their room and read that when the magazine came.   He subscribed to several good magazines and they followed all the stories in them as well as every ZanJe Grey book that came off the press.  They loved reading. If they ran out of the current things they would go back to the bookcase and read one of their Makers of History.  This set of books took each individual famous character from history and wrote a biographical book about them, and the book would read like a good story!  I owned that set of books and I gave it to my first born grandson.

Thanksgiving always brought company.  Sometimes Jo brought someone, or Irene when she was in college would bring one of her friends and sometimes Aunt Lucy and several of her family with her would be there, or someone from Dad’s people, so we would have a house full and fun going on all the time with the big brothers and sisters.  Sometimes we had a jamboree with Cousin Custer Dawson on the banjo, John on the fiddle and Charles on the guitar!  We moved the dining table back all the way and the chairs back and made room for Mother and Dad and the grown up company if there happened to be one or two.  Then we clogged and the musicians were happy!  That always pleases the musicians when people respond with the clog!  Then they really bear down on it and it gets better all the time!  Jo led all the rest of us in this fun dance and my dad would join in.  None of us could match him in stepping it off!

Enough reminiscing!  I need to be into the storytelling book now.  I have been trying to get strong enough to work on it and I think I can begin now that I have Queen Esther monologue behind me.  I am glad to have that off my mind, and now I believe I can get into the revision and expansion of the book which is out of print..  It will be a delight to see it once again in circulation.  It is really an excellent book on storytelling in Christian education just as it stands.  It was in circulation four printings!  I could simply update the resource list, which is one of the most comprehensive, and many people have told me worth the price of the book!    But I have many features that I can add to it, for I have been doing workshops far and wide while it was in print, so I have essays that are pertinent and I do want to add them to the book before it goes out again.  This time I will publish it myself and it will not go out of print!  That is the great thing about publishing it yourself!  You don’t have to worry about it going out of print leaving you high and dry!  The print on demand has it digitalized and on file indefinitely!  You can always order a copy. To get back to the subject, I have to get to work on it, and I will do that in the next week or so.

Before I do, I want to try to get my fruitcakes made with the help of my son.  I have all my fruits and just need the last minute things like the white and dark raisins and the nuts, so need to get into it and get it done so it will have time to cure before Christmas.  I am going to try to get that done. I did not try last year and this year I must not fail to have that treat for I love to have it on hand.  The recipe is Frank’s own family recipe that he has adapted and made his own, so I like to make it in memory of him, for he always made it for me every year, and I never made it until he was in heaven and I knew that he loved to make it, so I have kept it up in his honor.  If you want Frank’s recipe, let me know on my email which is ayarnspinner@gmail.com.

If you do not have a copy of “Over the River and Through the Woods” to read aloud to your children and sing the tune if you know it, I imagine it is on internet with the music so you can sing along!  I always loved using that song with my children and also this one:

There’s a big fat turkey out at grandpa’s farm

He gobbles along his way,

He spreads his tail into a great big fan

And struts around all day.

You should hear him gobble at the girls and boys

For he thinks he’s singing when he makes that noise,

He’ll sing his song another way,

Upon Thanksgiving Day.

Oh, how I love to go to grandma’s house

On Thanksgiving Day!

She always knows just what we like to eat

And what we love to play.

So the turkey’s roasted and the pies are baked,

There’s a big plum pudding and some tarts and cakes,

They smell so good and seem to say,

“Tis glad Thanksgiving Day!

That’s all for this time, folks!  The next one is going to be Christmas tidings! I will tell you then about a naughty boy named Jabez Dawes who said he didn’t believe in Santa Claus!  I will tell you what happened to him—This is one of Ogden Nash’s funny ones.

 

SWEET ADDENDUM TO OCTOBER’S POST

MOTHER’S SOURDOUGH  BREAD

I have this recipe from my sister, Clementine who had it from Mother. When I was a child I have watched my mother make yeast many times.  I remember that she grew Hops in our garden and she made a tea with it and mixed it with corn meal and mashed potatoes and I don’t know what else and made her own yeast cakes, but when the stores began to carry the dry yeast, she began using it combined with the liquid yeast that she made with flour, sugar and salt with an envelope of the dry yeast as a booster.  This is the recipe that I have from Clementine which makes the best bread in the world! Oh!  The wonderful aroma that fills the house as it is baking. 

TO MAKE THE STARTER: 

1 quart warm water//1 pkg. of dry yeast//2 cups bread flour//2 tablespoons sugar//1 teaspoon salt

Mix well and let it sit for at least twenty-four hours before using.  Cover only with  a thin tea towel so that air can get to it, for the air is full of yeast spores and that is how you get your good sour dough starter of liquid yeast.  When you remove a cup and a half of liquid for your bread, at that time add a cup of flour and a cup of water to the starter to replenish what you have removed stir well and store in the refrigerator.  Always add this amount back when you use it so that you always have a starter to use.  You can keep it going in that way indefinitely. .Stir it up before using since the liquid rises to the top and the other settles to the bottom.

TO MAKE THE BREAD.

Scald 1 cup of milk, add 1/3 cup of butter and 1/3 cup sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons salt.  Cool.

In large bowl sprinkle 1 pkg. of dry yeast, add ¼ cup of warm water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Let is dissolve. Add your milk mix and a cup and a half of starter. Add 2 cups of bread flour.  Beat well for at least 10 minutes.  Change to kneading hooks and begin adding flour and kneading a little at a time until the dough separates from the bowl.  Remove from bowl and hand knead until it feels springy and satiny.  Put back in bowl and allow the kneading hooks to work through it a few times.  Placed in greased bowl. 

Place in oven with a pan of warm water under it and allow to rise to the top of the bowl.  Be sure to watch it after 45 minutes because some yeasts with some flour may rise faster than others.

When it is up to the top of the bowl, punch down and turn it out on a board and turn the bowl upside down over it. Let it rest a few minutes.  (That’s the subterfuge we women use to in order to get a few minutes of rest ourselves otherwise we go until we drop!)

Divide and roll each portion into a rectangle, then roll each rectangle out and roll up like a jelly roll, tucking in the ends, and placing in greased loaf pans.  Place in oven with the warm water under it and let it rise until it is slightly rounded  the tops of the pans  Now bake at 350 degrees for 30—to 35 minutes.  The loaf should sound hollow when you tap it.  Turn out on racks to cool.  If you wish you can add 2 cups of rolled oats to your recipe substituting for the flour, or two cups of whole wheat flour. 

If you want really mouthwatering good buckwheat pancakes you use a cup of starter and add a pinch of soda to the mix and yum!

~ SOURDOUGH FRENCH BREAD ~

1 pkg. dry yeast, plus 1 ½ cups of sourdough starter

1 cup warm water

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 table spoon of soft shortening

1 tablespoon sugar

3 ½ cups of bread flour

Dissolve in the mixing bowl the yeast in the cup of warm water, which is just a tad warmer than lukewarm but not hot.  Add starter, salt sugar, and shortening.  Add flour gradually.  Dough should be rather soft.  Turn out on lightly floured board and knead for ten minutes until dough feels smooth and elastic.  It will not be sticky.

Grease a bowl with shortening and while your hands have shortening on them, smooth it over the dough before you place it in the bowl, and cover with a cloth.  Let rise in a warm place for about ¾ of an hour. Then punch it down and divide it into 2 parts.  Roll each half into a rectangle. Taking the long side, begin rolling it up, seal the edges and tuck in the ends.  Roll back and forth a little to lengthen the loaf, and place on French bread pans if you have them.   If not then use a cookie sheet and sprinkle it with corn meal and lay the loaves on that to bake.  Make diagonal cuts at one inch apart.  Brush with beaten egg yolk for nice glaze.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees bake 35 or 40 minutes until golden brown.  Place pan on rack to cool before removing to slice and serve.

OCTOBER’S BLOG

Mother’s Sourdough Bread

I have this recipe from my sister, Clementine who had it from Mother. When I was a child I have watched my mother make yeast many times.  I remember that she grew Hops in our garden and she made a tea with it and mixed it with corn meal and mashed potatoes and I don’t know what else and made her own yeast cakes, but when the stores began to carry the dry yeast, she began using it combined with the liquid yeast that she made with flour, sugar and salt with an envelope of the dry yeast as a booster.  This is the recipe that I have from Clementine which makes the best bread in the world! Oh!  The wonderful aroma that fills the house as it is baking. 

TO MAKE THE STARTER: 

1 quart warm water//1 pkg. of dry yeast//2 cups bread flour//2 tablespoons sugar//1 teaspoon salt

Mix well and let it sit for at least twenty-four hours before using.  Cover only with  a thin tea towel so that air can get to it, for the air is full of yeast spores and that is how you get your good sour dough starter of liquid yeast.  When you remove a cup and a half of liquid for your bread, at that time add a cup of flour and a cup of water to the starter to replenish what you have removed stir well and store in the refrigerator.  Always add this amount back when you use it so that you always have a starter to use.  You can keep it going in that way indefinitely. .Stir it up before using since the liquid rises to the top and the other settles to the bottom.

TO MAKE THE BREAD.

Scald 1 cup of milk, add 1/3 cup of butter and 1/3 cup sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons salt.  Cool.

In large bowl sprinkle 1 pkg. of dry yeast, add ¼ cup of warm water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Let is dissolve. Add your milk mix and a cup and a half of starter   Add 2 cups of bread flour.  Beat well for at least 10 minutes.  Change to kneading hooks and begin adding flour and kneading a little at a time until the dough separates from the bowl.  Remove from bowl and hand knead until it feels springy and satiny.  Put back in bowl and allow the kneading hooks to work through it a few times.  Placed in greased bowl. 

Place in oven with a pan of warm water under it and allow to rise to the top of the bowl.  Be sure to watch it after 45 minutes because some yeasts with some flour may rise faster than others.

When it is up to the top of the bowl, punch down and turn it out on a board and turn the bowl upside down over it. Let it rest a few minutes.  (That’s the subterfuge we women use to in order to get a few minutes of rest ourselves otherwise we go until we drop!)

Divide and roll each portion into a rectangle, then roll each rectangle out and roll up like a jelly roll, tucking in the ends, and placing in greased loaf pans.  Place in oven with the warm water under it and let it rise until it is slightly rounded  the tops of the pans  Now bake at 350 degrees for 30—to 35 minutes.  The loaf should sound hollow when you tap it.  Turn out on racks to cool.  If you wish you can add 2 cups of rolled oats to your recipe substituting for the flour or two cups of whole wheat flour. 

If you want really mouthwatering good buckwheat pancakes you use a cup of starter and add a pinch of soda to the mix and yum!

SEPTEMBER THOUGHTS

September is a month of memories for me because my mother’s birthday was September 13, 1878.  She lived until June of 1964.  The book, Under the Gooseberry Bush, has many splendid stories of her exemplary life and if you do not own it, you can see here on my website how to get a copy.  It has 104 stories in it and her life is shown with many of her traits and teachings.

Today I am writing this entry for the second time, for the first one, I completed and all the extra spaces edited out. I was getting ready to do a rewrite when it simply disappeared.  I saved it once while working on it to the file with the word September abbreviated and the final file was saved with the word spelled out, so there are two files showing with the titles and that is all.  It shows at the bottom line, “page one, words 0”   and both files show empty!!!They are off somewhere in the stratosphere.  Now I begin again.

On FB I told the beginning of a story and promised that I would finish it on this September blog.  However, I will begin at the beginning so that anyone reading this who did not read the Facebook part will have the whole story.

The reason for the writing of it was a post from International Mission Board from a couple who had served eighteen years in a country where Buddhism was the way of life and the religion of the people, and their ministry had not brought a whole lot of fruit, but these two dear people had the faith to believe that it is God’s timing and that their ministry would bear much fruit as He allowed.  It was a story that showed their faithful service and as an encouragement I wrote this story in part, to show that it is hard, but that these words of scripture are literally true and can be trusted. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb.4:12 NIV.

Now, here at this point I will show what I believe it means when it says it is living and active.  This is where the water hits the wheel in anyone’s Christian testimony.  When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans he began by going all the way back to the prophets and brought them up-to-date through the first eleven chapters of what a great heritage we have been given by God in sending His Son and goes into the Doxology of praise at the end of the eleventh chapter after which he then says , “THEREFORE,  I urge you , brothers, in  view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as LIVING sacrifices holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will b able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It is when this scripture is taken literally and acted upon in the way it is described in these words, that God implants His living Word into the person’s most vital life—that is in the place of subconsciousness where the spirit is that causes the heart to beat and the human breathing to take place involuntarily!  This is how the MIND is renewed!  It is now REGENERATED , (brought to life from the dead) and made into a truly spiritual creature who now walks around in a physical body but the whole organism has been transformed now into a spiritual being .   The word “transformed” is a synonym for the word, “metamorphosis” and that means it is a NEW creation altogether!!  Here at this point the new creation begins the process of allowing the Lord to change all attitudes of the heart into the spiritual nature of the person that will live for eternity!  There then the Word of God so implanted in the creature is now living and active.

The person now is able to read scripture and that Holy Spirit of God has made the darkness that covered the mind before the transformation, all light and as such the mind is illumined to the right understanding of God’s Holy Word.  It can be totally assimilated by the spiritual mind and the thoughts and attitudes of the heart are now being guided into paths of righteousness for the glory of God!

I went into that bit of background so that we can know full well that the Word of God is there in the mind and heart of the one with the renewed mind!  God can use this person and supply every mental need for the babe in Christ is not allowed to remain in that stage!  He has the Third Person of the Godhead in residence, and as the babe responds to the spiritual food, there is spiritual growth of that new body which the Lord is busy causing to grow inside the person’s own spirit and that is the reason for the obstacle course that He allows to intercept along the journey.   The spiritual body is being developed by the prayer life and the constant study of His written word.  The five senses are going to be challenged all along to cause the spirit to respond and to grow strong.

Now we come to the one who at age thirty-four was led by the Holy Spirit into offering her whole being to the Lord to be all that she could be in Christ.  The Lord accepted her offer and many years of service followed with confirmations of Ephesians 3:20.  As His word promised in Psalm 92, she was able to bear fruit in old age, so at this point we will change to first person and tell of this event that happened in early April of 2016.

I was getting ready for a trip to Virginia where I planned to attend the annual conference of the Virginia Church Library Association.  I went for a manicure and was helped by a lovely girl.  I noticed right away that she spoke English without any trace of accent so we chatted about my nails and how I wanted them done. After a few minutes of casual remarks I told her about the planned trip and what it was about,.  She was amazed.  I asked, “Are you a Christian?”  She answered, “No, I am a Buddhist.”  I said, “Would you like to hear why I’m a Christian and why I would like you to know my Lord Jesus?”  “NO! she said, emphatically, and then explained, “All of my family is Buddhist and I would never want to do anything to make waves—that is, to upset them and give them grief.”  “I see,” was my instant reply. And I immediately asked, “How old are you?”  “Twenty-three,” she replied. I exclaimed, “You are just the same age as my two granddaughters!  One born in April and the other one in August so they have grown up together.”  Then I went on, “They are both through college and are working now. They are precious to me.”  I then told her a little bit about their childhood and seeing them grow up and then I said, “They are grown now and they live in their own apartments.”  At this she was making comments showing she was impressed to hear this and I said, “Yes, they are quite independent and they are good girls, both are keeping themselves pure until they are married.”  At this she exclaimed, “What?”  I think she was shocked that an elderly woman would even mention the subject, but I went on as if she were commenting on the girl’s purity.  I said, “What does the Buddha teach about the sin of adultery?”  She looked thoughtful and said, “I don’t know of any teaching, but we have family traditions that we hold to.”  I also looked thoughtful and answered, “The Buddha was a good man and he left many great teachings, and although he lived at least five or six hundred years before Jesus lived, still he died and his tomb is there for all to see.  And his teachings….” I paused here and it was she who said, “Are not enough!”  I agreed at once and said, :”It seems to me that since you are twenty-three years of age you are old enough to make your own decisions and most especially when it is a matter of life and death.”  She said “Life and death?” I said, “Yes, and for eternity!” “Well for a matter of life and death, I can make my own decision” I then said, “Well, in that case shall I tell you the story of Jesus who gives us the gift of everlasting life?”  She said, “Yes!  I want to hear it.”  I asked, “Have you ever heard any of this story before this?”   She said, “ I have never heard any of it.”  I said “That means I must tell you the whole story and that will take time.  Is this going to keep you from your work?”  She said, “No, we are not busy.  As you see, I have no customers waiting, so go ahead, I want to hear it all.  I decided,,” she added..  I then felt perfectly free to tell her a concise story of the Creation and Fall and all of God’s dealing with sinful mankind , bringing her up to the Nativity;  this I quoted from the story in Luke’s gospel, and went on to tell of his visit at age twelve to the temple and from there into his ministry, crucifixion and the wonderful Resurrection—then of his being seen by over 500 witnesses and of his Ascension and the promise of His return.  All along the brief account that the Lord gave me to tell her, she was listening with wide eyes that were sometimes filled with tears, but when I came to this point, she became derisive.  This is where she had heard on radio or teevee, predictions of His return which did not happen, so that caused her to want to take this lightly, so she laughed and smirked, “Oh,yes!  He’s coming back. I know about that.”  I saw what was happening and the Lord brought His word to my mind at once!  I said, “Yes, he is coming back!  If I had my Bible with me I could show you what the martyred Apostle, Peter, said about that. He said as time went on that people would say, “Where is his coming—all these years have gone by and he has not returned.”  Then Peter reminds the reader of how God covered the whole earth with water and all those unbelievers perished, and this time, the reason he has delayed his coming is because he is patient and long-suffering toward humanity—not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. All  That includes you and it includes me.  All means everybody needs to come to God, because no one is without sin and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He wants everyone to be saved. It is for your sake that he has not returned and you still have time to come under his care.”  At this she broke down and wept and I asked, “Are you ready to ask the Lord to bring you in?” She nodded and I said, “Then you say these words, “Lord, I ask you to make me your child. I am sorry for all the ways that I have offended you and I ask you to help me in living for you so that I will be able to help my family to see the light and to come to you.  Amen.  She followed through with that and came out rejoicing and saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to text my boy friend!” I then took the time to counsel her about the church and how that she would find friends there to help her to be strong.

I believe this story shows that the words of scripture describing the Word of God are literally true, and although the walls that shut him out are high, and strong, they cannot match the power of God’s word, living and active.  You might wonder why the Lord led me to go all the way back to the garden and the first parents.  I do not use a “canned” process in presenting the Lord’s claim on a person’s life.  The Holy Spirit must first be there to open the door to that person’s inner self, therefore I always pray before I approach anyone by saying, “Lord, I am listening.  If you open the door I will go in and speak for you.”  In that way, if the door had remained closed when I tried again, then I would have known that he had kept the door closed and I would have not tried again.  Since he led me all the way, I followed the gleam of His Spirit and just went along as He led in telling the whole story.  That was not something that I do in every case, for everyone is different and the Lord sees the heart –the part that I do not see, and that is why we must trust Him to lead the way.  That proved to be the good, pleasing and perfect will of God!

August Post for Website

Happy Birthday to all of my August birthday people! I always look forward to August for we had birthdays to celebrate and one time my niece celebrated them all at once at her house and we had water gun battles in the back yard! It was more fun than enough! Big, little, old and young! We were all into it and it lasted a good hour or so. Then we celebrated with a cook-out with ice cream and cake to finish it off. We went home tired but happy children!

At home we did not start school until after Labor Day, so that was one more month that the cousins had to visit! We always had cousins who lived in towns and they always spent at least a week, and sometimes two or even a month! We had them from both sides of the family and Mother and Dad were just as happy as we were about the visits, so we had loads of fun with people to play with and to work with! The girls helped our girls with their chores and the boys with theirs, and then it was time to play!

When Jo was at home she had more ideas for fun than anyone and no matter what we came up with as amusement, our parents approved and we just had good times, so here at August we are at the wind-up. School would be beginning and the long winter would set in. Hardly anyone would visit after Thanksgiving and so we made the most of the month of August! We packed fun into all the spare hours and in my memoirs I tell the story of one of those adventures called, Cookout Under the Stars.  That really was a story and you can read it in that book on page 117! However, I am going to treat you with the conclusion:

“Therefore, when we recollect such childhood memories we reflect on the emotions that they evoke. Thus we keep in touch with the inner child—a pathway that God provides out of the wilderness of adult cynicism into the Garden of God’s Paradise of Children—otherwise, we face an eternity of being “lost in the woods.” I was ninety-four when I wrote that, and I am now ninety-seven and a half. I read those words with a great deal of joy as I consider that the Lord has been so wonderfully kind to me and has extended the life and allowed me to just finish the book that I started writing when that one was out of the nest.

Now here He is on a Sunday afternoon and I am much older, but still able to think and to write. This is a great blessing! You really need to stop and wonder about the blessing we enjoy in the ability to think and to write our thoughts. The marvelous gift of language is a never-failing source of delight to me, as I simply fell in love with words when I was a young child and the romance has never faded. To me it is the most astounding of all blessings that there are words to express “feelings,” and you realize that feelings are intangible! However, God gave us the English language which is, of all, the most universal language, for it began in the garden with Adam and Eve and has continued on down through the present time, so here in America we have the English, and we have it American English and of course, the dictionaries will give after each word the original source of the word! You find there, all the languages which have been adopted and brought into the English as a word. We like to give it our pronunciation, and we connote to it the meaning that it expresses in our tongue.

It’s something I love to pursue, for when I am reading I might find words that I have not seen before. Rather than pass over them, for they are easy to understand by the context, it is more fun to me in looking them up and seeing how to pronounce them, what the various connotations for that word are shown and I decide if I like that word rather than the one I have been using in expressing that thought. I might decide to write it down and begin using it. My elementary school teacher always sent one of us to the big unabridged dictionary to get a definition and then he would say, “Now you can use that word to think with.” I never forgot that, for the more words you understand, the more thinking you can do! One amazing thing is this—all the disciplines have their own vocabulary, and that is what I found to be a great challenge when I started trying to read in the different ones and ran into a problem with comprehension. They are all different and it is still the English language!

Nevertheless, the very idea of having an alphabet and words that make up a language of a people is quite a wonder and something that I treasure in every way. As a child I was always searching around the house for something that I could read and once I called out to my mother, “What does ashamed spell?” She answered, “What does it sound like to you?” I looked at it again and said, “I see “as” and I see “ham” so it must be as-hamed.” She said, “No, it is “ashamed.” She pronounced it correctly. When she said that, I said, “Oh, I know that word.” She said, “Now you know how to spell it.” She put it on my spelling list and I remember the fun that it was to know how to spell that word. My mother dreamed a beautiful poem one time, and when she was awake she remembered it and wrote it down! My sister, Josephine also dreamed a poem and remembered it. I have never dreamed a poem, but I have dreamed of reciting familiar poetry. When you wake up and that is what you are doing, you wonder then about how that is possible in a dream state!

This will be enough words for the month of August! If you liked the thoughts on words, please comment on the site! Words carry meaning and power! They are the product of something beyond our five senses, and that’s why they are fascinating.

IT IS ALWAYS A MATTER OF CHOICE

A second go-round in writing the July post to all who visit my website.  There are always more thoughts when it comes to such a marvelous holiday as July 4 happens to be! Every citizen of our great country has a big bundle of reasons to celebrate the Fourth!   The greatest thing to celebrate is liberty and no matter what ethnic background you may claim, it all goes with being a United States of America citizen!  Everyone here has the option of having a bright future and when I say, “Everyone” I am including such as might have lost all close family members and has been abandoned by the next closest, therefore is what we know as “homeless”

I just read a story on Facebook of such a person who was now graduating at the top of his high school class and has a scholarship offered by a good college.  He told his story, and it was confirmed by his school principal and the counselor who told of discovering that he was sleeping on a park bench and she found a place for him to call home.  Nevertheless, when the boy was interviewed he said, “Well, what else could I do?  It was either to go ahead or to choose the low life I could have thrown it all away!”  Now you see by how bright his future looks and he is very optimistic.  He said “You already have a million dollars; you just have to find your way to your bank account.”  I might not be quoting it exactly but this is the meaning of what he was saying!  And I commented that he definitely has a bright future and one big reason would be all the well-wishers he has due to that story being told on FB.  Now, I am saying that the beautiful feature of freedom is that we can choose, just as this young homeless man has done. He chose which road he would take—you always have a choice.

The price of this freedom that we have here in our United States is eternal vigilance.  There are always those who are greedy for power and stand ready to rob us of our freedoms.  The bad thing is that they learn the art of demagoguery to get into political office and to stay there. These are the professional politicians who have a life of ease that they have created for themselves and maintained by staying in office and instead of being a true representative of the people, has become more and more one who spends all of his time in doing what is necessary to stay elected and in that way take advantage of all the perks that being a member of congress holds for a politician these days!  In the meantime, the system is run by all the bureaus that make rules and regulations to control the people of the various fifty states, and to stay comfortably ensconsced in the nest they have feathered.

This is the situation that has grown into such proportions that one of these may find himself of sufficient political backing and enough money to get into the chief executive spot which is the Presidency!  Then he may decide that the thing that hinders him from total power is that thing called the Constitution!  Away with it! As long as a rubber stamp congress will allow him to work his schemes without showing any budget and pass all of his legislation before studying it, well and good!  But when they do not do that he decides he does not need them and proceeds on his own!  Now things are getting sticky!  The American people begin to shout, “I am mad as H….!”  And there are some who form a “Tea Party” to try to dump that tea into the ocean again!  They are ready to be like the people were in the town of Hamlin in the famous poem, “The Pied Piper of Hamlin” They were over-run by rats!  The council did nothing to help so the people marched on city hall! “Rise up, sirs! Give your brains a racking, find the remedy we are lacking or sure as fate we’ll send you packing!”

That’s where we stand this July 5, as millions have just celebrated our glorious Fourth and there is a new wave of patriotism blowing!  People have been reminded of that fabulous day when our statesmen of that era signed the Declaration of Independence and we took things into our own hands and decided this freedom was worth fighting for, and it was duly fought for and consequently has been fought for again and again!  Therefore everyone is aware that the freedoms are threatened by tyrants and so down with the tyrants and up with the red, white and blue!  Forget about party loyalty!  In the white crosses that mark our dead there is nothing to indicate what party they voted.  John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Field, says it so beautifully!

In Flanders Field the poppies blow // Between the crosses , row on row, //That mark our place; And in the sky //The larks still bravely singing, fly//Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago //We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, // Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders Field.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: //To you from failing hands we throw // The torch; Be yours to hold it high.  If ye break faith with us who die//We shall not sleep , though poppies blow In Flanders Field,

Now is time to think primarily of our country and what it was that made us strong and gave us the reputation of being the land of the free and the home of the brave.  What made us able to fight and win war fought worldwide?  Why is our military now in weakened condition?  Why are we divided into various contending camps and why is rioting allowed to be the order of the day when there is civil discontent?  Why are our colleges producing people of no faith who are immoral and willing to disgrace themselves in public display?  What’s going on behind the scenes in the political arena?  Why should our Native Americans be forced to go to the Supreme Court to prove their right to maintain their monument which is erected in a state park? Why should they have to go to the expense of a court case to prove their right and even though they won the case, it should never have been necessary for them to be challenged in that matter!

The monument to their soldiers who died in fighting for our American way of life, and this is their reward? We need to go to the polls and vote to remove those legislators who are foisting on us such organizations that are trying to tear down our traditions and destroy our democracy in a republic form of government which is made possible by having a sovereign nation made up of many sovereign states.

There are some things that take precedence over the party loyalty, and this is a time when we need to adopt an attitude that the founding fathers had when they were forced by circumstance to take drastic measures to insure our freedom to govern ourselves!  The system of checks and balances they put in place has served us well until now when it seems the Americans went to sleep and allowed the forces of tyranny to take over and while we were sleeping, nearly every freedom is threatened and some are already gone!  Thomas Jefferson was a great one for democracy in a republic but he knew that it could not be sustained without an educated populace, so he was all for getting the public schools going and keeping people educated so they could go to the poles and vote intelligently.  Now the ones who know very well that this is true, have gone to work to destroy the great institution that worked so well along with home and church to produce the “great generation” that brought about victory in WWII.  No longer are our schools the local community schools!  They are dictated to by the state which is dictated to by the federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.   It is on the threat of losing the “Big Bucks” of tax-payer money that the state complies with everything that is dictated from D.C,  and thus the local is no longer under the control of the local P.T.A. and our children are the victims of this political scheme.  Now it will be that the restrooms are shared by boys and girls!  Innocence is robbed of these children at this early age!

The people have a choice!  They can go  and vote for the leadership that will restore our culture.  We are still free to make this choice, but if we do not choose freedom  this year, but choose an even stronger centralized government, we will all pay the price of allowing a socialistic government to take over even more of our private lives. This is all a matter of choice!  It amounts to that!  Choose if you want to have supervision of all your personal life!  Are there still enough people left who have not been brain-washed? VOTING IS STILL ALLOWED, BUT WHAT WILL BE IN EFFECT IN FOUR YEARS TIME?  THIS IS A CRUCIAL YEAR FOR THE CITIZENS.  I READ YESTERDAY A QUOTE FROM A JUDGE WHO SAID THAT THE CONSTITUTION SHOULD NOT BE REFERRED TO BY ANY JUDGE.  THAT THE CONSTITUTION HAS NOTHING IN IT THAT IS RELATIVE IN THE WORLD OF TODAY, AND IT SHOULD BE IGNORED.

This is the philosophy held by many of the elite who will place their hands on the Bible and swear allegiance to the constitution and as soon as they are in office they take steps to make it totally ineffective.

JUNE NAMED FOR JUNO GODDESS OF MARRIAGE AND BRIDES!

Here we are again!  I have been away for a while—since February!  And the reason is a story that I will tell here to get us back on track and we can then hope for brighter days ahead.  Beginning at the January mark, I stayed at the daughter, Pat’s home through the ninety-seventh birthday and came back to Dallas the first of Feb.  I had submitted the manuscript along about the BD date and was thinking that a book would soon be forthcoming.  I was wrong.

From that day to this, the work has been fraught with technical problems that have required all my physical, mental and spiritual reserves to be drawn on.  I have no doubt whatsoever that trying to work through the solutions to these great problems put my health at risk.  The heart had more to do than it was able and the result was hospitalization and now the resulting battle for regaining strength that is now taking place.

While I was ill in the hospital, the Lord was quick to respond through His Ambassadors at large!  Let me just enlarge a bit on that statement to the praise and glory of our wonderful Savior and show you how He comes to the assistance when the enemy rushes in like a flood.  I will list these servants of the Most High as I recall them, and I assure you that I was conscious.  I was visiting in the home of a very dear family member who is a well known Christian leader in her church and in the community where she lives.  My niece with whom I traveled is a committed Christian.  It was at the morning hour that the heart attack began and we called 911.  There were two ambulance drivers.  I discovered as they hooked me up to their equipment that they were both devout believers.  They took me to the Farmville hospital which was the closest one and it was there that I was met by a team of doctors and nurses who did not wait around.  The doctor, it turned out, was knowledgeable in all phases of heart treatment and I was spared nothing.  The nurses were also way beyond competence, for added to their timely and felicitous care the patient was offered all the benefit of appropriate conversation.  Naturally, this could only lead into personal findings such as the fact of where I was from, how I happened to be stricken at this particular time.

These findings revealed that I was a storyteller and writer and had traveled to Lynchburg to teach storytelling and to promote my books, especially the one that should have been ready for this conference—my latest one.  As usual, the Lord opened the door for my testimony and total agreement from them was allowed with great joy and as the Dr. entered while this conversation was going on, he chimed in with his agreement also!

This is just the first leg of my journey. Everyone who had attended me in those crucial minutes was devoted to Jesus Christ!   I was transferred to the Richmond Henrico Doctor’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia which is a hospital with a coveted reputation for being one of the very best and they all strive to uphold this rating. I could never have asked for better treatment throughout my stay in both hospital and rehabilitation.  Throughout the stay, as the days went by, and the visits, the phone calls, the kin who drew near, the flowers that poured in, the cards received, were

the Lord’s own hands and feet as through His Holy Spirit He send His love and spiritual encouragement through those who willingly open their hearts to Him and allow Him to direct their paths.  There can be no doubt whatsoever that He lingered there in the hospital room and watched through the night hours for I had nurse, after nurse, after nurse who spent time with me as they helped, and shared their faith with me, showing love and attention beyond the call of duty.

On the morning that I was scheduled to have the pacemaker replaced, early in the morning the door opened and a beautiful nurse entered with a cheery “Good Morning!”  Then she said that she was the nurse who had been reassigned from Intensive Care Unit to come up and help with me.  She and I then had a beautiful morning devotion as we gave our mutual testimonies and then she took my hand and prayed the Lord to be with me in the surgery with the doctor, the nurses and everything pertaining to my spiritual welfare.  She waved to me as they came and took me rolling away.  When I came back she was not there    I asked the nurse who came in, “Where is the ICU nurse who was with me early this morning?”  “I haven’t heard anything about an ICU nurse being here. I am the nurse of the day.”  So, since angels are God’s ministering spirits who are sent to each of His own when He sends them, I am bound to believe she was sent by Him for my special attention on that important morning for a 97 year old to be having her heart pacemaker replaced.  That is something He does not take for granted, and I was down there and the entire procedure went like clockwork and was over in about thirty minutes.  I began to improve within twenty-four hours of time.  MAY JESUS CHRIST BE PRAISED.

Now the book, Eternity in an Hour—Gods LITTLE book about God’s BIG gift of Time, will soon be available.  I am expecting in the mail my first copy and when I say the big “OK” we can all shout with joy!  I am hoping that the Lord will use it to bring many people into a closer walk with Him.  All who love Him and enjoy close fellowship with Him will find confirmation and encouragement!

I do know that this obstacle course is one that I am mighty glad to be here to tell about! It’s a story to which it gives me great pleasure to write the words “The End.”

February Thoughts

Here we are at the February mark again!  A wonderful month because we have Valentine Day and Lincoln’s birthday!  My first born child was born on that famous man’s birthday and we’ll be celebrating in a few days!  The long awaited book is now in the publisher’s hands!  So we have much to be thankful for.  I’ll be returning to TX on Monday the first where I have dental appointment awaiting as well as the regular doctor and the cardiologist!  At age 97 you can be sure I am glad for such care!

Now I want to use this space to reminisce about a February day that I like to remember from my childhood.  In those days we had something special for the parents on the President’s birthdays, for we also have Geo. Washington’s birthday on February 22, so we had a patriotic program for the parents and my mother taught me the words and tune to Revolutionary Tea and for my part on the program I sang it and she came to the school program that day and then Mr. Boggs dismissed us at 3:30 instead of 4:p.m.  I have placed the words to that song in a previous post so I will not repeat it, but I would like to say that it can be found on Google also. The melody on the U tube is very close to the one my mother taught me!  The words are identical!  This is an 18th century song and my mother was born in the late 19th century which will show how fervently the descendants of the Founding Fathers were and how they passed the love of country down to their children!  When my brother, John, was learning a paragraph from Patrick Henry’s famous speech, my father was helping him and how thrilled we were to hear him stand and recite the entire speech for John and that was all the incentive needed to cause John to commit his paragraph to memory.  As a man he included that story in his autobiographical book of memories. I wonder how many children in today’s schools are caused to study that speech and memorize the words, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

In the meantime, that is one BIG reason that I am passionate about storytelling!  At least, when I die, I can go with an easy conscience, for I have spent years in the very best of children’s literature, and have visited many schools.  I have had the joy of knowing that hundreds of children will have the memory of characters from the fabulous stories.  As the famous patriot, Nathan Hale, stated, “My only regret is that I have but one life to lose for my country.” He spied on the British and was hanged as an American spy!  I often think of his sacrifice, for he was young!  I love to adopt his spirit and say, “I am glad the Lord has gifted me with storytelling and has kept me alive to use this gift to enrich the minds and spirits of boys and girls far and wide!”  I only regret that I have but one earthly life to give to the Lord for His glory.

Now we come to Valentine’s Day and there again, by perusing the previously written entries, you can find the story of St. Valentine, who gave up his life for a noble cause and we honor his day with sending our tokens of love.  February 14 is another great day for the postal service!  Cards are flying east and west and what pleasure they give!  I remember one special valentine that I received from a little boy when I was about ten and wow!  I kept that up on the wall of my room for years!  It was still there when I was 14 and we moved from that house, so I left it on the wall as a beautiful decoration!  It was the picture of a daisy on the front and the verse said, “Be my valentine or I’ll go crazy!  You are all I want, for you’re a daisy!”  My mother always smiled and clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth when she would see that it was still there even after I was older!  Yet you see, at 97, I still treasure that card!  It was from a little boy who was “struck” on me!  I thought that was too utterly utt!

I celebrated the 97th birthday on January 23 and I sent the book to the publisher on the 21st I believe!

We’ll soon have a book to offer!  Eternity in an Hour is the title!  Be watching now for your email notice when it is available!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I have finally finished the book and the editing. As soon as I have the preface I will be ready to publish! I look forward to Christmas now with renewed joy! Thank the Lord for Christmas! How good it is to be able to call on the Almighty and to know that He hears—I feel ten times more devoted to Him now that this book will soon be out, for it is the work that He set me to do and He helped me all the way! So I can say Merry Christmas, for I assure you that I am merry!

The title of the book is Eternity in an Hour, with the sub-title; The Storyteller’s Little Book about GOD’S BIG GIFT OF TIME.

The book has been on the back burner waiting to be pulled forward since 1980! The main reason for the procrastination was my inability to think of the way to write it! Here I will go into the history of why this book had to be written.

I used to have a problem with my mind wandering when I prayed. My pastor at that time was Dr. Wade Hampton Bryant. I asked him how to prevent this from happening and he advised me to write my prayers. He said, “That way you will use your mind and your spirit also.” I began doing that. He was right. It helped me to focus on the Lord and what I wanted to pray about. I wrote the prayers on the way to work, on breaks, on lunch hours, and my regular prayer time. I wrote on the little memo pads, steno-pads, and composition books, etc. and when they were full, I trashed them at the library where I worked. I had three years of concentrated prayer about the subject of time and those were the ones that were saved. At home, I had quite a few that had accumulated, so I cleaned out the desk one day and threw all those note books in the trash. I sent them out by my husband, Frank, and he stopped by his woodworking shop on the way He set the bag down on one of his benches and it tipped over. In picking up the little note pads he read some of them and did not trash them. He came to the house and said, “I don’t think you should trash the little prayer books.” I objected strenuously for I felt that prayers were private. Nevertheless, I respected Frank’s superior wisdom and when he said they might be an encouragement to others who were seeking, I agreed not to trash them. He said, “Please me by writing a devotional type of book and use these in the book. Will you?” I agreed to do that! And never could think of any way to use them in such a way.

Now that the time is getting short for me I knew I needed to get this done, so I turned it completely over to the Lord and I confessed that I had promised Frank to do this, and the reason I have not done it –I do not know how! Then it seemed that I should write it by following His leading. That is what I have done, and concluded by using the saved prayers. The pages of the book show how the three years of concentrated prayer about time affected my spiritual life and caused me to ignore the passage of years and live my life as Jesus taught—one day at a time! This is the most beautiful way to live for Him and in Him. The book tells the stories of how He became my strength, my life, my all. Then the prayers about time are a proper conclusion for we see how He answered them.

I had Christmas on Thanksgiving with my sons and granddaughter in Dallas, for I planned the visit for Christmas to my daughter’s home and my grandchildren in Phoenix while here. I am having a lovely time here with all her church Christmas programs which will be going on right on up until the Big Day! My daughter will be doing a trio in the choir program, and she also will play the bells! This Christmas is my 96th one—in January I will be 97 years young!

SO AGAIN I SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND THAT MEANS—REJOICE, REJOICE, REJOICE GIVE THANKS AND SING.

October-November Post

     This is a tardy post due to the book, of course. I am now at the formatting stage and almost completed. So the book will soon be ready to go. I have decided, the therefore, to enter here a few paragraphs from my introductory chapter to whet your appetite. I am expecting to have plenty of comments both on the site and by email, so be ready to let me know if this sounds like something you are going to want to read!

WINDING AND SETTING THE CLOCK

An introductory chapter

     I always begin my story of the Creation with these words: “I can’t begin this story with once upon a time.” Neither can I begin this book with those words, for although the subject is about time, it is actually about the way the Lord helped me through the study of time to grasp the reality of Eternal Life.

     It will attempt to show how the prayerful consideration of His gift of Time was used of the Lord to bring me to into total peace about the matter of life and death. It was the way He chose to bring about a disregard for the passage of time thereby giving me a focus on the calling that He has graciously given me. Of course, this is the way I see it in retrospect and since the title is about Time, naturally, it is going to show that while I ignored the years, it was a daily walk with Him in the minutes and hours that made the difference. I want this to bring the reader into a keener awareness of the truth of the saying, “Yesterday is history: Tomorrow is a mystery: Today is a gift of God, that’s why we call it “Present.”

(Note: This is an ancient saying. I first remember hearing it on a radio program before WWII. I always have loved quaint sayings and my language is filled with many of the favorites.)

     Learning to live in the here and now is the way the Lord instructed. Therefore, we live one day at a time.  I hope and pray that the book sheds light on the Lord’s wonderful love for each individual. How the Christian is guided into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. How he anoints the head with the oil of gladness and keeps the cup of joy filled and refilled, as the Christian passes through all of the vicissitudes that line the pathway through life. We are thankful that He prunes and keeps us bearing fruit in old age.

     It is with a deep sense of worshipful thanksgiving that I write these lines that I believe the Lord has caused to germinate and grow as the days stretch into weeks and then years that He graciously keeps me strong to write for Him! It is always for His glory that I commit every word and pray the Lord’s blessing on all who read it.

The heart’s prayer is, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.’

(Note: reference to the Lord’s Prayer:Matt.6:10 NIV)

     This is the meaning of life for every Christian—the delightful acts of Kingdom service that He brings one to carry out in His Name. And as the task is done He shows the far reaches of His power to be that Christian’s sufficiency.

(Note: reference to Eph. 3:20 NIV.)

     This book could be filled with short stories of the many times that I was in a quandary and He entered into the situation and saved the day! Some of them I related in full story form in the book, Under the Gooseberry Bush. Sometimes I have the idea that I should keep all these things and ponder them as Mary did, then again, I remember that the Lord is the one who is glorified and Mary did reveal her heart to Luke for the Kingdom’s sake.

     The introductory chapter is much longer than these few paragraphs, but I felt that it should be enough to give you a sense of the purpose of the book. I tell stories of our many faceted faith that illustrate the truths that we all love to contemplate. Instead of beginning with the little prayers and meditations from thirty-eight years ago, I begin from the present vantage point to show how all of that three year period was the jumping-off place in bringing me through a joyful and fruitful time of aging! In fact, I was only fifty-eight years of age when I heard that sermon about time!

LOOK AT ALL THE STORYTELLING CAREER THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE SINCE THEN!

     We can only believe that was His reason for causing me to grab that sermon and pray about time and what the twenty-four hour day had to do with Maxine Johnson Bersch. He was launching me into a second career. He wanted to be sure I did not even consider any of the usual signs of aging to be of any consequence in the matter of being surrendered to the Lord for He had big plans for my life and this was His way of preparing me for the years ahead.

     I can truthfully say that I enjoy life as much as I possibly can every day! I take my motto to heart and “look up–laugh–love–and lift.” As I walk in the mornings I always find the strength to praise the Lord in my thoughts and even singing aloud as I go. I love to think the words of great hymns aloud to Him! And to myself! I might change the pronouns and say, “When I walk with You, Lord, in the light of Your Word, what a glory You shed on my way! When I do your good will, You abide with me still, and with all who will trust and obey.” I believe, therefore, that I bring emphasis to the ways He shows His loving kindness and as the flower does to sunshine and rain, the child of God grows up into the faith of our fathers. Since I am in the ninety-seventh year which will be completed January 23, 2016, I thank the Lord that He has extended my years and that He is allowing me to give these words of testimony to His good, pleasing and perfect will!

THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL

Authors:   Virginia N. Sanders and Maxine J. Bersch, collaborating. Virginia did the research and the historic notes in sequence and Maxine wrote the narrative. The two of us did the rewrite and edit. Virginia sent it to the Story Art magazine for publishing including my name in the authorship. I had just gone around to help her and did not want to take any credit, but Virginia wanted it that way.   Virginia told the story at our historic annual meeting when the bicentennial celebration took place.

A few years after that, actually 1991, the club honored Virginia and her whole family was in attendance at that meeting and the president requested that I tell the story for that occasion. I did that, but adapting it as I show here. I told it this way.

Emerson said that a true friend is somebody who can make us do what we can.   Since the language of friendship is more than mere words but meanings, an intelligence above spoken language, we use examples when we try to define it. We tell of Damon and Pythius, or we remember Jonathan and David as examples of true friendship, and in history we have the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

It all began in Philadelphia, in 1775. An air of excitement was abroad for the Continental Congress was in session and men sought the news at the taverns, the inns and on the street corners.   Women passed on all the latest tidbits to their friends where ever they would meet–for the news was that of controversy and change. Men were hammering out their differences while young Thomas Jefferson sat quietly taking it all in.

This was his first appearance as delegate and as he looked around he saw so many men of importance. By their speech he knew them to be thinking men. While he was cooly observing this group of notable men his glance fell on one John Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts.

At that moment their eyes met and Jefferson raised his hand in silent greeting.

Adams acknowledged the gesture with a smile and a nod. Tom settled back and listened as John Adams raised his voice again and again to defend his ideas. “Such eloquence!” Jefferson thought. “Here is one I must get to know!”

So began a friendship–a friendship based on mutual respect and admiration. Each measured the other for qualities which would be useful to the cause of the new nation. Certainly this friendship did not spring from any common likeness. They were decidedly different in looks and in personality as well as many of their philosophical views.

Adams was the son of New England Puritanism. To him religion was the sure foundation of public virtue, political life and sound government. His father was a farmer. He was an avid reader but always with a purpose in mind.

Jefferson was also the son of a farmer. He loved to read just for the joy of it, anything and everything he could put his fingers on. He had definite ideas and began writing them down at an early age. As for religion, the Anglican Church was the traditional church of Virginia. Jefferson felt absolutely no need for that at the center of human affairs.

You would have marveled even more at their friendship if you had met the two and compared them at close hand. Adams was short while Jefferson was tall. Adams lacked tact and diplomacy, Jefferson was cool and easy going.

Adams was impulsive while Jefferson was deliberate. Adams excelled at debate, but Jefferson listened intently. So there in Philadelphia, in 1775, their friendship began for each recognized the gifts of the other. Someone has said, “Adams was the tongue–Jefferson the pen and Washington the sword of the Revolution.”

In May Adams read a resolution. “Be it resolved that the Colonies form governments of their own. It is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the British crown should be totally suppressed.”

The die was cast, or should we say, the fat was in the fire! No one entertained any idea of reconciliation now. It was out of the question. Jefferson backed the resolution and independence was uppermost in the minds of everyone.

Adams said to Jefferson, “You should write the Declaration. You write ten times better than I.” Jefferson accepted the task and he set to work at once. Of course, Adams was the first person to read the finished document. Up and down, up and down he paced as he read it aloud in his fiery style. “By Jove, you have it all here!” “This is the spirit!” “Now, Tom, not one jot or tittle can be added or subtracted from this document!”   “Man! This is from the heart of every man of us!”   Again and again he interrupted his reading with such exclamations.

When the Declaration was up for discussion and debate it was Adams who defended the document when John Dickinson argued for postponement. Naturally this endeared him to Jefferson.

Sentence by sentence the Declaration of Independence was hammered out on the anvil of mature judgment. These issues of freedom, equality and justice were red hot. At times the discussion became so heated that Jefferson found himself squirming uneasily in his chair but just when the danger would seem most imminent John Adams would leap to his feet. Time and again he rose to argue against change or omission. Jefferson was amazed at his ability to defend so brilliantly and at the same time allow his emotions full sway. Later he said, “Mr. Adams kept fighting fearlessly for every word of it!” So that is how the Declaration of Independence came through the test clothed in all its original splendor. No two men had done more to make America free. They were bound together then in that union of minds not shared by any other two delegates in this great American adventure.

The following spring a letter arrived at Braintree from Monticello. It was the first of many such letters John Adams would open and read with eagerness.   The first letter closed with the statement, “I shall ever esteem it a happiness to hear of your welfare.” At this we think of Thoreau’s words, “We do not wish for friends to feed and clothe our bodies, but to do the like office for our spirits.” This great boon to mankind, friendship, could be communicated with the pen. Yes! The pen is mightier than the sword!

Then after a while, Thomas Jefferson became Ambassador to France, and John Adams served in England as well as on the continent. During these years the two friends began to differ sharply on political issues. Jefferson began to champion the Age of Enlightenment, and Adams strongly opposed Jefferson’s views.

Adams had a lofty manner even though he was the son of a simple farmer. Jefferson wanted to know, “Is he really an aristocrat who believes in the rule of the elite?” “Does he suggest that we call Washington “His Highness, President of the United States and Protector of the Rights of the Same?”

And Adams just could not forget that Thomas Jefferson had led the anti-Federalist faction against him in his bid for the vice presidency AND Jefferson had dared to criticize both Washington and Adams in letters which had come into print. Now the friendship was on the wane, to say the least; Jefferson openly described Adam’s views as suggesting a constitutional monarchy!

True, Adams feared the masses, he was frightened at the thought of an enraged mob. Jefferson had seen the oppression of the masses by a little band of tyrants . He said, “Let us trust men of reason and goodwill.” He said, “Education will make it possible for every man to choose for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.”

Soooo! Tensions grew. Washington was the seat of the social as well as the political whirl. Hostesses would comment to each other, “I can’t decide whether to invite Mr. Adams or Mr. Jefferson. I declare, Thomas Jefferson is just impossible these days. Did you hear the latest? Well he came right out and said last evening, ‘Mr. Adams is against the liberty of this country and we still heap honors on his head.’ ”   “Oh, well, that’s no worse than Mr. Adams said at my party–came right out and said Mr. Jefferson was a tool of the French and their thinking!”

When John Adams was President of the U.S. from 1797 -1801 and Jefferson was Vice President these two great men who had once been such good friends no longer made any effort to civil to each other. They were publicly at loggerheads and this went on for a decade. Thankfully, a decade of growing up for both men. Adams began looking at the politics of his country more objectively and Jefferson began to think of his old friend and to wish that he could once again brush minds with him.

On New Years Day, 1812, John Adams spent the day writing to his former friend, Thomas Jefferson. He mused as he wrote, “Maybe I can get our friendship back on track.” He thought, “What if I were to send him John Quincey’s lectures at Harvard?” He smiled as he dipped his quill in the ink. “I’m sending you under separate cover two pieces of Massachusetts homespun.”   When he received Jefferson’s reply he chuckled at these words, “The sample of homespun has not arrived yet but I am looking forward to its arrival. I admit Massachusetts can provide better goods of this kind than Virginia.”

“Oh, how I would love to see Tom’s face when he finds my ‘homespun’ is two books and not two pieces of New England cloth!”

The letters flowed between Braintree and Monticello and were now open and warm as the two men clasped hands across the miles and the great friendship was rekindled.

The 4th of July, 1776 is a day to be celebrated and remembered throughout American history

July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary, arrived and celebrations were set in every town and village. This never to be forgotten day of Jubilee dawned, a day we refer to as a day of wonder. Loved ones watched at the bedside of

Thomas Jefferson, now 83 years of age. He was sinking rapidly.]

Likewise the family of John Adams now 91 years old realized that the end of his life was near.

As Thomas Jefferson lapsed into sleep he suddenly stirred. His hand made the motion of writing, “Is this the Fourth?” Upon hearing that it was he settled back in contentment. Sometime between 12 noon and 1 o’clock he died.

Meanwhile, in the early morning of that same day a servant asked John Adams, ‘Do you know what day this is, sir?”   With a very faint touch of the old fire Adams replied, “Oh yes! It’s the glorious Fourth of July. God bless it! God bless you all.” He smiled and slept a while and about one o’clock , near the moment Jefferson died, he spoke these words, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”   Although it could not be true, thinking of Jefferson at the last speaks of the beauty and richness of old friendships.

Not long before sunset, John Adams too, was gone.

As this 50th anniversary celebration passed into history, Americans learned of the unbelievable events of that day.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two fighting friends who had joined together to forge freedom for us and who fifty years to the day later both made their exit from this life.

Even their hours of departure were timed right, for the Declaration of Independence was adopted between noon and one o’clock . The same hour, 50 years later, Thomas Jefferson died.

The declaration was proclaimed around the state house at sunset, the same hour 50 years later, John Adams made his departure.

While America celebrated that year of Jubilee, July 4, 1826,

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams joined hands to create another history making event: one that we observe with wonder. There’s hardly a chance that we, our children or any generation to come will be confronted with such a wonder as that of the setting of these two blazing “sons” on July 4, 1826. Looking back on the glorious day of Jubilee, all eyes turn to the horizon, where the afterglow remains and sheds its rays upon the world in fadeless glory, and we still bask in the splendor of its light.

Note about reference:

The title and authors of the two books that Virginia used as reference, she showed in the Story Art Magazine when the story was published and I do not have those because I gave them all to the library when I left Richmond, VA.   I have contacted the website of Story Art and asked for this information. As soon as I receive it I will post it on this website.

Revolutionary Tea

I want to put the words in for an old song that my Mother and Dad liked to sing on the front porch in the season for the Fourth of July. My father was especially fond of quoting all of the Patrick Henry speech for us on that holiday. I remember that he was called on to say it for the audience at the Sunday School picnic and he had a roaring response. Patriotism was the reason for the Fourth in the twenties.   I was so busy getting my dinner planned and ready that I did not get the July posting done in time for the holiday. It came and went before I could catch my breath it seemed. I will google it after a while and see if I can find anyone singing the same tune that my parents sang, and if so I’ll give you that website.

 

Revolutionary Tea

 

There was an old lady lived over the sea and she was an island queen,

Her daughter lived off in a far country with an ocean of water between.(Repeat U)

The old lady’s pockets were filled with gold but never contented was she,

So she ordered her daughter to pay her a tax of three pence a pound on the tea.(Repeat U)

“Oh, Mother, dear Mother, “ the daughter replied, “I’ll not do the thing that you ask.

I’m willing to pay a fair price for the tea, but never a three penny tax! (Repeat U.)

“You shall!” cried the mother, and reddened with rage, “For you’re my own daughter,

You see,

And it’s only proper that a daughter should pay her mother a tax on the tea!”(Repeat U)

So the old lady her servant called up and packed off a budget of tea,

And eager for three pence a pound she put in enough for a large family! (Re[eat U)

She ordered the servant to bring her the tax, declaring her child should obey,

Or old as she was and a woman full grown she’d half whip her life away.(Repeat U)

The tea was conveyed to the daughter’s door All down by the ocean side

And the bouncing girl poured out every pound in the dark and rolling tide.(Repeat U)

Then she called out to the island queen, “Oh Mother, dear Mother, “ quoth she,

Your tea you may have when ‘tis brewed quite enough, but Never a Tax from me!

(Repeat U)

What is so Rare as a Day in June?

I will go into that subject for just a few lines here, since we all are so glad to see Summer roll around this year of our Lord,, 2015! Indeed! It has been a chilly May and a particularly rainy one also. Thank the good Lord for the rain, because the lakes are getting filled up and we’ll be able to water our lawns, and take those lengthy showers –that is the ones of us who love to get in there and allow that water to beat down on our heads, and then turn around and let is beat on the face for a bit, and we sing in that shower! When the water is dear, then we have be aware of the gallons of water being used! We have to forget about all those verses and just concentrate on getting clean!

Now all of you who love to reminisce with me will be wondering what I remember about June while growing up on the farm in WV. And I’ll give you a small taste of how wonderful it was, for just as soon as the danger of frost was over, my mother was busy in the garden! When she transplanted out of the cold frame into the garden it was my job to go along with catalog leaves and cover the little tender plants fixing the paper down on the corners with small rocks or clods. Even though she did this late in the evening, and watered the plants well, we still covered them for one day and if any were drooping that one was watered again and covered for another day to bring it a bit more time to get rooted.

This early gardening brought early green peas and tiny little new potatoes by June! We could have those little soft shelled peas that you leave in the shell to cook with those tiny little potatoes. Mother made a cream sauce for them and we all went crazy with delight for nothing is so delicious as the vegetables out of the garden after a long winter of out-of-the-cellar meals!

School is out; spring cleaning is behind us and now the big sisters will be allowed to attend Girl Scout Camp! That means two weeks that Mother gives me her undivided attention, and that means we go out in the woods together and gather the wild greens! Mother will show me every plant that is edible and those that are poisonous and when they closely resemble each other, she is careful to teach me how to tell the difference.

There was the ramp, mustard, dandelion, plantain, chickweed, and Shawnee lettuce as well as the clover that the orchard was completely covered with and all of it was organically grown. We never used commercial fertilizers at home, therefore we simply picked some of the clover, dandelion and plantain that were found all around and then we had to go to the woods for the ramp, Shawnee lettuce and also the nettle when it is young and tender. When all the greens are washed, and looked carefully, they are then boiled for half hour in salted water, then drained and reboiled for another half hour. Then they are drained and placed in a skillet with two or three heaping tablespoons of bacon fat. They are then cut back and forth with a sharp knife several times and allowed to simmer for a few minutes to get the flavor of the bacon into the greens. They are usually served with vinegar and we always had cornbread, mashed potatoes, and other veggies such as rutabagas, creamed corn and Mother nearly always had a fruit type of cobbler, or pie to please Dad, and sometimes we had the fried apple pies that we all thought was the last word in treats! She hardly ever made them—that is, to us it seemed forever and therefore this was something special to us.

Now we come to the best part of June—Father’s Day. Here in honor of my father and all fathers, I will tell a story of my father, who, although he was stern and strict nevertheless, had many traits that endeared him to me. Our first-born in the large family, Josephine, was known to be the favorite of both parents. She was constantly held up to each of us as the one that we should emulate, and strange as it may seem, no one in the family ever resented this! All of us admired and loved her. We tried our dead level best to please our parents as did she.

When she was at home for a visit, she was treated as a special guest for she taught school, so when she came she notified Mother in a letter and big preparations were made. Mother outdid herself in the kitchen and Dad pulled out the checkerboard and placed it on the table by his chair for the on-going game. When she arrived he escorted her to the seat of honor beside him and seated her with a flourish

The position of being youngest was the one I held. This favored place gave me the privilege of being taught a special skill that each of the older ones possessed. Since it is all about Fathers I will not cite each of these, but simply that in his case it was that I was allowed to sit on his lap at the age of FIVE and have him read Aesop’s Fables aloud to me and I have never forgotten the out-of-this-world hour of hearing his fabulous voice and his hearty laugh along with Mother’s at some of the stories, and of Mother’s insertion of her adages that emphasized the moral of the story. One that I recall was “One cannot readily believe the one who practices to deceive.” That was when we read The Boy who Cried Wolf.”

This Father of mine told me stories to keep me entertained all the while I turned the grindstone for him to sharpen his tools. The Grindstone Tales are some of my favorite stories to tell. I find myself coloring many of my other tales with some of his expressions that really suit the Appalachian style of telling, for that was how he liked to tell.

I liked to listen to his singing on the front porch. He liked to sing “The Old Kentucky Home,” “I Was Seeing Nellie Home” “O Suzanna” “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” and many more of the old favorites. When supper was over in the summer time, Mother would join him and they loved to sing “Twenty Years Ago,” “The Model Church,” “The Ninety and Nine,”and “Long Long Ago.” They sang a song of the counties of WV and I used to know all the words to it, but they have faded from lack of use, but it names the fifty five counties and locates them on the map with such phrases as “making our east panhandle” etc.

Another memorable trait of my father was his love of music and how he bought the violin, repaired it and then played tunes on it for us. This is what inspired brother John to want to learn to play it and my father brought a teacher for him to our home and kept him two years, paid him a salary and John became the state champion at age twelve.

He taught all the boys to shoot fast and accurately with the old mountain rifle which he had acquired and knew how to use. Although he kept hired men who did the heavy work, he also taught each one of them how to guide the horse and plow, how to use the scythe, the cradle, the double bitted axe, the hand saw and the cross-cut saw. They learned the skills of using and caring for the leather and other equipment that we used for the horses, the wagon, the farm sled, and everything they needed to know from his big tool chest of carpenter’s tools. This teaching was done on Saturdays when he had a day off. That was useful training to them all of their years of having to earn a living during the depression when jobs using their heads and hands were all that they could find. All three brothers have told me of how his training stood them in good stead in growing up through difficult times.

I love thinking of Father’s Day because they are the unsung heroes of our lives for naturally the mother has the most concentrated time with us and we are close to her by the fact of birth and how that bonds us. However, I have given here just a “smithering” of the good memories I have of Dad and there are more in the book, Under the Gooseberry Bush.

I hope this has awakened in all who read it another picture of the good traits of your father that you treasure. It is good to think of the miraculous way the Lord has of giving us two parents to love and care for us while we are still infants and we have to be parents before we realize the sacrifices they made for us. At this time I feel totally overwhelmed by the wonder of it.

I recall that many references to their own fathers were in the tales Dad and Mother told to us of their youth. . . .

MAY THE MONTH OF ROSES

rosesI note that I have failed to make an entry for the month of April, and all with good reason! There was simply no time for blogs when I had to travel to Virginia! All who follow on Facebook know that I was invited again to attend the spring conference of Virginia Church Librarians Association at Eagle Eyrie. That is the Virginia Baptist Conference Center at Lynchburg, VA. I was there for the weekend of the seventeenth.

Need I add that I taught storytelling on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday led the devotional period. Since I am now in my 97th year, you may well imagine that preparing for this was time consuming, and therefore I did not make a blog entry for April.

The visit to Virginia included visits with relatives and friends. I also had the fabulous opportunity to go back to my home church for a visit with my own Sunday school class, and then on to the sanctuary for the worship service. The church I refer to is Derbyshire Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. A wonderful church that has retained the traditional worship service and that means this: THE CHOIR IS ROBED, THE HYMNBOOKS ARE IN THE PEWS, THERE ARE NO SCREENS UP THERE WITH THE WORDS MISSPELLED, THE CHOIR LOFT WAS FULL AND THE ORCHESTRA WITH MANY INSTRUMENTS, THE CONGREGATION STOOD TO SING LUSTILY UNDER THE WORSHIP LEADER WHO WAS EXCELLENT, ALL OF THE SERVICE FOLLOWED THE THEME OF THE PASTOR’S SERMON TEXT, “I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD”. THE PASTOR’S SERMON WAS SCRIPTURAL AND HAD MANY ILLUSTRATIONS FROM LIFE THAT MADE THE WORDS RELEVANT FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIAN. THE PIANIST PLAYED A LOVELY ARRANGEMENT OF FAMILIAR HYMNS DURING THE OFFERING. THERE WAS NO APPLAUSE!!!! I WAS PLEASED AS PUNCH THAT THE NEW PASTOR HAD NOT CHANGED THE PREVIOUS MINISTER’S TRAINING FOR US THAT THE WORSHIP SERVICE IS FOR GOD’S GLORY AND NOT FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT OF THE CONGREGATION!! THANK GOD WE STILL HAVE TRADITIONAL WORSHIP SERVICE AT DBC, RICHMOND, VA! THE CONGREGATION IS GROWING. That shows there are still plenty of people who want to find a church like the country church they grew up in.  Since I left Richmond, in 2007, only when I come home to visit do I find the traditional service.

Most mix the traditional music with the contemporary, and use the screens. I am always glad to get back to my home church which holds a non-conformist view of the meaning of a worship service when we appear as His people before Him and acknowledge Him as the Head of the spiritual body of believers world-wide. Of course, I have learned to adapt to the contemporary forms that are popular now throughout all the Southern Baptist Convention. I had to pray it through with the Lord and He taught me to think of it as He does, and recognize the different cultures that are represented, however, being ninety-six means that I was growing up in the early years of the twentieth century, and it was mid years that I was married and child bearing and latter half of the century I was given over to the Lord in complete dependence on Him. I was engaged full-time in Bible study and teaching the application of Truth through storytelling and learning all the time through the avenues provided for learning and growing in my own church which was a Southern Baptist church and fully operating with the programs that were coming from our own denomination! Naturally, these teachings were deep and lasting. Mother’s favorite verse was, “Be not weary in well-doing for in due season you will reap, if you faint not.” That’s the KJV of that verse! Still it is just as understandable as the modern versions—If you persevere in your faith, you will reap the rewards. At ninety-six I can say without any doubt that the Lord’s will is good and pleasant and perfect. I am happy in my faith and ready to share it with everyone I come in contact with.

Now I return to the May the month of roses. Roses love the coolness and the warmth of May, and they thrive. Mother’s roses were her joy and pride. She loved growing them and what a beautiful flower they are! I am always happy to see the buds that are telling me they are on the way. Frank loved the yellow and we had a Peace rose in our border that measured six inches across the blossom which was a pale yellow with a pale pink center. I cut one of the most stunning ones and carried it to my pastor’s secretary for his office. He was amazed! Then one that my mother loved was a variegated one which had a red and white blossom. The shape of the rose as it unfolded was a curled back type and just kept opening up and folding back! Lovely! That was a 1928-29 rose that she had in her collection. I carried white roses for my wedding flowers and wore the coral colored rose in going away. What I miss more than anything is the fragrance which the breeders have completely eliminated from the plant today and there not a trace of the beautiful perfume that was the real charm of that flower. Every weekend my sisters readied the house for the company that always filled it on Sunday. After it was all lovely and all the windows open with the curtains gently flapping in the mountain breeze, they went to the yard and filled our small wash tubs full of roses. They brought them to the kitchen table and began arranging them in vases for the parlor, the bedrooms, the dining room and even the kitchen! Mother would say, “Put a bouquet of Maxine’s Dorothy Perkins and the Baby Ramblers in my kitchen on my work table.” Oh, I was so proud to hear her call that out, and she knew how to make us all feel great. The girls were proud that she loved their work, and I was proud that she called for my choice of roses which were planted by the smokehouse. The main thing that I remember was the wonderful way the house smelled on entering, and the company that arrived on Sunday mornings were enthralled by it. We marveled because, you see, after our house burned down, we did not have any fancy furniture, and it was just the immaculate cleaning, the wall paper that was tastefully used, Mother’s needlework for the bedspreads and quilts, the curtains that flapped in the mountain breeze and the perfume of the roses—all working together gave the house a beautiful face and people did not notice that the bedsteads were the then unfashionable brass and iron.

Now I come to the end of the May blog entry. This is the month for Mother’s Day. I will put a little poem here in memory of my mother, and to honor all the precious mothers that I know who are in my family and circle of friends. I omit the first few verses for lack of space and show the verse that is the favorite of so many people!

The Reading Mother

You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be—

I HAD A MOTHER WHO READ TO ME!

Strickland Gillian

And now for the all time favorite of many of you who have wondered what happened to this old poem! Here it is.

ROCK ME TO SLEEP

Backward, turn backward, O time in your flight,

Make me a child again just for tonight!

Mother come back from the echoless shore,

Take me again to your heart as of yore.

Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,

Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;

Over my slumbers your loving watch keep,

Rock me to sleep, Mother—rock me to sleep!

Backward, flow backward, oh tide of the years!

I am so weary of toil and of tears—

Toil without recompense, tears all in vain—

Take them and give me my childhood again!

I have grown weary of dust and decay—

Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away;

Weary of sowing for others to reap; —

Rock me to sleep, Mother, –rock me to sleep!

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,

Mother, O Mother, my heart calls for you!

Many a summer the grass has grown green

Blossomed and faded, our faces between;

Yet with strong yearning and passionate pain,

Long I tonight for your presence again.

Come from the silence so long and so deep,—

Rock me to sleep Mother—Rock me to sleep!

(Two verses omitted)

Mother, dear Mother, the years have been long

Since I last listened your lullaby song;

Sing, then and unto my soul it shall seem

Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.

Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace

With your light lashes just sweeping my face,

Never hereafter to wake, or to weep;–

Rock me to sleep, Mother, rock me to sleep!

Elizabeth Akers Allen

BEST LOVED POEMS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Doubleday and Company, Inc. 1936.

 

 

WE CELEBRATE SPRINGTIME

Although we might remember the poet’s words, In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, and I suppose, since the word, “lightly” is inserted here, we can infer that the young man is not considering love in a serious manner, and since it leaves out any possibility that the young girl might be thinking of it, chop-chop! That makes a big X in the little square before the word, LOVE, in the list of subjects for discussion the month of March.

Let us then go on to the next word on the list and see what that one yields. The word is MARCH. Hmmmm. March. Yes I know lots of stories about March, and how does it happen that we have a month named March? Well, it so happens that this month is named for Mars. Now how did that come about? Well, you do remember Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, I am sure, and you remember that their father was the god Mars, and the mother was fully human. I don’t have time to go on Google and refresh my mind on all the names and details. I can leave that up to you to do, but suffice it that Mars was an extremely important deity to the Romans for Mars was their god of war and they depended on his help in all their campaigns. I do remember an intriguing story that I will just touch on here to pique your interest and maybe cause you to want to refresh your memory about it—the story about the twins being set adrift and the box they were in landed finally, and a woodpecker and a wolf rescued them.   They were fed and saved by these two animals and their images became sacred symbols to the Romans! A shepherd came on the scene and took them into the human family where they grew up and the rest is Roman history!

All right, a check mark in the square before the word, March. We proceed to the next word on the list and this one is SPRINGTIME. Wow! At last! Something I can dwell on, and probably have several things to say that will bring things to your recollection. Having spent all my early years in West Virginia, I was surrounded on all sides with big “hills” and “mountains” which were completely covered with trees and the undergrowth was full of every beautiful wild flower that you can imagine. By the time March days appeared on the calendar, the February thaws had all the little brooks, creeks and hollows roaring with the sound of their tumbling waters as they rushed down the mountains and found their ways to the larger creeks and then these flowed swiftly into the rivers! The roaring sound of those mountain streams continued into March. Since our house was at the top of one of those hills, and forests were all around, the sound of the March winds sighing through the trees was something that we knew was doing the work of Spring, and that sound would awaken all the little wild flowers and they would pop their heads out of the ground and start growing!

There was no time for loitering on the way to school, but on the way home I dawdled quite a bit, for it was a steep climb, and there were fun places to stop and brush the dead leaves aside to see what was going on down there. When I saw the trillium, the Jack-in-the-pulpit, the trailing arbutus, all poking their heads up, I had something to tell Mother when I entered the kitchen.

Most of the time that’s where I would find her, for she would be starting to get our supper ready, and after that climb, I was ravenous! Sometimes she had a big pot of “leather britches,” (this is corn field beans which are picked and dried in the shell, while the bean is still fresh and green. They are washed and then with a large needle and thread are strung and then that thread holding the beans is hung up to dry in the cellar house. When thoroughly dry they are transferred to a sack and when we had them for dinner they were placed in water and soaked for several hours, and then they were cooked! )   When we had them they were cooked in a large cast iron kettle and nothing in the world compares to the taste of this vegetable. Mother would usually let me have a little bowl of them. I had usually already had two or three cookies and then some of those beans and a left-over biscuit from the warming closet of the wood stove. I wonder how many readers know what I am talking about when I say “warming closet?” On the big wood stove which we called a “range” there were two big shelves with doors on them and they were used to keep things warm while you were fixing and serving a meal. Then after the stove was cool we simply stored the bread or maybe the sausage or ham that was left over, and when the children came home from school starving to death, they could go looking in the warming closets for the yummies.

Toward the end of March, we could look for days when it was sunny and warm, so that the heavy winter coat was a burden as the climbing went on, and then it had to be taken off and carried. It was heavy, and although my brothers usually took my books in their book-bags, how I hated this bother of having to carry the coat.

One morning I went in and said to Mother, “May I leave off the coat? I get all heated up and have to take it off on the way home and carry it. It’s so heavy!” Mother said, “No, Maxine. This time of year, it could be snowing and you would need it. You will simply have to carry it when you do not need it, and I can tell you now that I can’t give you permission not to wear it yet.”

The next morning I did not ask her, so I would not be in disobedience! I simply ran off quickly and did not wear the coat. At the middle of the morning the sun went behind a cloud and the world grew gray. The teacher lowered the windows which he had raised for fresh air, and right after the lunch period the big white flakes began pouring down and they were as large as a quarter, coming down fast and furiously so that we could not see the houses that were close to the school. I was in big trouble. When I went to get my lunch pail the teacher said, “Maxine, where is your coat?” I had to confess that I had not worn it because I hated having to carry it up the hill in the evening. He said, “Well I have a sweater here.” He had a cardigan that he kept on the back of his teacher’s chair. He put it on me and buttoned it up and it hung all the way down like a coat and the sleeves he rolled up and said, “This is not going to be enough, Maxine. You should have brought your coat.” To make a long story short the snow made the sweater wet and cold and when I arrived at home I was freezing cold! To say that Mother was angry with me is putting it mildly. She took that sweater off me and put me in a tub of hot water in the kitchen and when she dried me off she nearly took the skin along with it! She was totally provoked and she let me know it in no uncertain terms. When I was dry and dressed, it was the rocking chair for me by the kitchen stove and from then on for an hour or so, I had to listen to her lecture. This was her favorite way of punishing me. She knew that I had to sit still and listen and not move an eyelash, and I had better have all my “Yes, Ma’ams” ready and that had better be ALL I had to say. No sign of being worn out with listening would be allowed.

I’ll let you know that from that day until this, I am very careful about March weather. It is treacherous. We had 3 inches of snow here in Dallas to usher in the month! Then it rained, and ice formed. Today it is all gone, and the sun was out. I have not heard the weather report today, but I can assure you that spring is on the way, in spite of March ranting and raging about the fact. She is rushing toward April and every twenty-four hour period brings her closer. She can never forget that before she grew into the god of war she was the god of agriculture—they made sacrifices to her of pigs and goats to assure themselves of a good crop. Yes! She knows that was her original sacred duty-to usher in the springtime, and that meant time to plant! And then, since March meant that the battles could begin again, that’s how she finally ended up as the god of war! Nevertheless, she knows good and well what her original nature meant! Welcome, sweet springtime! We greet you in song! Absolutely, for soon our lovely April will come dancing in wearing her gown of green carrying a bouquet of jonquils and tulips!

In the meantime, I have a few weeks here to get ready for my storytelling workshops in Virginia, the weekend of April 17th. What a fun time that will be!

And I have two important birthdays to remember this month! Both of them are on the twenty-fifth!

And for Easter I travel to NM for a visit with loved ones.

And what else? For another thing, the 17th of March is St. Patrick’s Day, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the day that I chose for my wedding day. March 17, 1945 I was married to Frank Leslie Bersch, Sr. and that lasted fifty two years. All the details of that courtship and marriage can be found in my book of memoirs, Under the Gooseberry Bush, which is available on Kindle or from Amazon, or from me, if you want a signed copy!

NOTE: Please see Mackie’s home page for additional details about her book, click here…

THE GIFT OF LOVE

February, 2015

Now that I am past the ninety-sixth birthday, I want to write something really meaningful for the February entry on the website. I have been praying about it for a week or so. The twelfth is my son Frank’s birthday, as well as President Lincoln’s, and then there is Valentine’s Day. Everyone loves February.

Giving and receiving a Valentine greeting is a big thing, especially to those who are in love, engaged to be married, or are married. This is because of the historic story of St. Valentine who was a priest in the third century and Emperor Claudius II forbade marriage because it was thought that unmarried men made the best soldiers. St. Valentine encouraged marriage and performed the ceremony according to the rites of the church. Therefore, he was imprisoned because of his belief that marriage is sacred and he had scriptural authority for his belief.

While he was in prison there are many stories of his ministry to others and one who received healing from his prayers to God for her. She was grateful and he wrote her a letter, in which he expressed the love that the Savior has for her, signing it “yours—Valentine.” This is thought to be the origin of lovers signing their message of love with a “your Valentine” and it grew into all that we do today in remembrance of this wonderful saint of God. Lovers in every generation have honored his faithful life and death for the cause of love and marriage.

When he was beheaded for standing firm in his faith and never relenting, he stayed faithful to his God. Therefore, we still today honor this man of God who gave up his own life for the faith that we hold. We look forward to our valentine greetings, because anyone who truly loves always wants to express it in poetry or song, even when it has grown to be an avenue for friends and family to show love as well as the romantic.

I remember so well when I was a child I would hear my father singing on the porch and when he began singing my favorite I would creep up to the front door and listen closely as he sang that beautiful melody of Drink to me Only With Thine Eyes. It was years before I understood all the meaning of the words, but I am sure that Mother did. Busy in the kitchen, she would pause in her work and listen, brushing away a stray teardrop as he sang: “Drink to me only with thine eyes and I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss within the cup and I’ll not ask for wine! The thirst that from the soul doth rise doth ask a drink divine; but could I of Jove’s nectar sip, I would not change for thine.   /// I sent thee late a rosy wreath not so much honoring thee, as giving it a hope that there it would not withered be. But thou thereon didst only breathe and send’st it back to me; since then it grows and smells, I vow, not of itself but THEE!

Of course, I was a little child, and had no idea why Mother would stop her task and listen to that song other than the same reason that I loved it. The melody is a plaintive one and suits the words perfectly. I was a teen aged girl before I thought back and heard it again in my heart for we were separated from each other by the great depression, and I spent many hours of dreaming back to my happy childhood. So now, at age 96, I thank God for those Victorian parents who had genuine affection for each other, and found ways of saying it so that even a child could be charmed by it and in later years be grateful to God for that tie that binds the heart in Christian love.

Now we all know that God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden, when He saw that it was not good that man should be alone, and said, “I will make a mate suitable for him.” I like to have fun with my audiences when I refer to that union—I like to say, “I wonder what he was up to that the Lord saw it was not good that he should be alone!” Then everyone loves the story of the Lord’s first miracle being performed at the marriage at Cana! We love that he loves to celebrate marriage along with us! We can be sure that he is present at our own wedding and if we run out of wine we can substitute water and everyone will love it!(some more of Mackie’s fun)

The scripture regarding marriage that is used often is from Ephesians in speaking of a wife’s submission to her husband. In chapter five Phillips translates it this way: “But remember this means that the husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the church when he sacrificed himself for her.” Then Paul elaborates by saying, “Men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies. The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her. Nobody ever hates or neglects his own body. He feeds it and looks after it. And that is what Christ does for His Body, the Church. And we are all members of that body! We are His flesh and blood!

For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, And sall cleave to his wife and the twain shall become one flesh. Letters to Young Churches J.B.Phillips, c1947

I have valentines from Frank all the years of our life together. I treasure them and love to read them over and over. I celebrated the day with Bill in 2006 and we found a little town with a great seafood restaurant and sat there for two hours doing what he liked to call “Catching up!” This catching up was telling each other all the stories of the years when we did not know each other—for more than half century we had marriages and families and all the tales that would bring us up-to-date. This was a wonderful thing for both of us had great love stories to tell about, and we each had memories to share that were fascinating for the other to hear. I was able to write most of the ones I heard in his own words for his children, so they could know of his love for their mother—how they met, fell in love and wrote letters during the war, and never stopped being on a honeymoon—I know that children often do not picture the parents the way they were in love, and now that they were grown I knew they would love it, so I put it all down for them in his words to me! I have been blessed with a good memory and I wrote them down as he told them so they could treasure his words in the last months of his life.

Then for my own children I wrote in my memoirs of how I met Frank, of our falling in love, being married, having a honeymoon, etc so they could picture us the way we started out, and then they remembered the celebrations that I wrote about. I especially wanted my granddaughters to read it and be encouraged to wait for the right one. And I say here, to anyone who does not have a special love and you hope one will appear on the horizon; Something kept me from saying yes before the right one came along, and I showed the whole scene so they could know the reservations that had to be overcome and all sorts of things to encourage them to be sure that it is the kind of love that will stand up in the trials that make up a lifetime.

There is Sonnet CXV1 by Shakespeare that I loved to hear Frank read. Even now, as I read it, I hear the resonance of his voice as he spoke the words. Incidentally, that might be something that I left out of the book. I’ll have to look and see if I showed that one of the favorite things we did was read aloud to each other out of Shakespeare’s writings. Both of us had favorite passages, and this was one that we both loved, and he wanted me to read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s great one, How Do I Love Thee.

You can look this up on internet and read it, or print it out to send to someone. It begins like this: Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love that alters where it alterations finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. Then all the lines tell of how steadfast is the love when it is the real thing, and says at the end that if these words are proved false then no man ever loved. It is a beautiful poem of love.

My greatest reason for writing this on the gift of love is to be sure that I bring you around to the fact that GOD IS LOVE. And it was not because we loved Him, but because He loved us first, that we are able to love with the intentional kind of love that God inspires in us by His Holy Spirit Who stays with us and empowers us after we are converted.

I love to think about God’s act of creation in making people, and He breathed into Adam’s lungs the breath of life and man became a living soul! That act caused us to be different from all the other creatures. We are given with that breath the mind and the soul. In the beginning, this also included the gift of His spirit, but when Eve chose to believe the father of lies instead of the Father Creator, that spirit was withdrawn, and a deep sleep fell on her spiritual life which the Bible calls “dead in trespasses and sin,” a condition that came down to all generations. Every person is waiting the awakening that will be brought by the regenerative power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Thus we have the wonderful verse of John 3:16—God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that he [even] gave up His only begotten [unique] Son, that whosoever believes(trusts in, clings to, relies on)in Him shall not perish(come to destruction, be lost)but have eternal [everlasting] life. (Amplified Bible) This much loved verse and the one following it, assures the human race of restoration to the pre-Fall condition of mankind! Nevertheless, He left intact our freedom of choice. His Spirit will woo the human who hears His Voice, and will continue for a period only He knows. If there is resistance with no response after a certain period He will leave that person alone.

Being omniscient means that He alone knows if that person will ever repent, so it is not for us to judge. We must keep on urging, for we do not have the insight that God has. We are warned here in this scripture that, “Today if ye shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (The Letter to Jewish Christians. J.B. Phillips. C1947.) When once you have turned around and as Isaac Watts says it, “surveyed the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died,” it is urgent that you do not hesitate to come with a heart of love and joy to the Lord and He accepts you as His own. As Billy Graham always warned when he gave the invitation and urged people that the Spirit of God will not always strive with man and that it was urgent that they respond at once.

If you read prayerfully the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, you find here the spiritual description of this high and important gift that Christians are given. It is placed here for our instruction and inspiration. A measuring rod it is for the Christian. I see myself as I read it, and here I pray for the Lord to correct me. The Bible teaches that he chastens us and prunes us so that we can acquire these wonderful traits that our Lord possessed even in his human form, so we know that when we truly abide IN HIM, we are bound to be brought into the light of His Power and Presence and see where we fall short and study to show ourselves approved unto God.  When the scripture says we need to be a workman unashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth, to me it means not so much, being knowledgeable about the Bible contents, so much as how prayerfully we study to show ourselves approved in these matters of great importance as we are to grow into the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ!

I thank the dear Lord that there is, because of His mercy and grace, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk in the spirit, for when we confess our sins we are forgiven and cleansed. That is the way we can keep on persevering in our faith and trying to grow in these powerful gifts that we are given! As Peter says to make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self control, and to self control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice he is generous in saying “if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,” so that causes me to take heart, for it means if you have a little bit of these qualities you can work to increase them! That is where the water hits the wheel in the Christian life, for the work of the Holy Spirit will do the work that all of this requires if we remain faithful in Bible study and putting into practice the gifts that are listed here, one day at a time. I always take courage when I think that Jesus said I can “become” as a child. I do not have to suddenly have all those precious qualities, but want them enough to turn to Jesus for help and begin that walk in the light every day, for it was He who said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

At this point I will now write the conclusion to this post by sharing a poem that I memorized along about the seventh grade—This is Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt:

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,

And saw within the moonlight in his room

Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold.

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold

And to the Presence in the room he said,

“What writest thou?” The angel raised his head

And with a look made of all sweet accord

Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”

“And is mine one?” asked Abou, “Nay, not so.”

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low

But cheerily still and said, “ I pray thee then

Write me as one who loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote and vanished. The next night

He came again with a great awakening light

And read the names of those whom love of God had blessed

And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas to All

    How I love this wonderful season when we celebrate the birth of our Savior! And how do we celebrate? I can think of no better way than the traditional ways that have come down to us here in America from our Christian parents and grandparents. There is the evergreen tree that represents eternal life, the star or angel at the top, both reminders of the nativity story, the shining lights to show that Jesus is the light of the world and all the little shiny ornaments representing each of us in whom the flame of God’s love is ablaze and shining forth to light the way for anyone who is in the dark. In many homes a nativity scene is shown, and children learn the story from early childhood as they see and handle the crude shelter, the baby in the manger, Mary and Joseph with shepherds, wise men and angels all about. 

    When I was little, the trees grew on the farm and the boys went out and found the prettiest one they could find. They cut it down and used the horse and farm sled to bring it in. Our rooms were large and the ceilings were high, so they put it in a small tub weighted with rocks and fastened it with guy wires to each of the windows that it stood between. The top hit the ceiling, and we had a big star that the boys climbed up on a ladder to place! There was no electricity in the rural areas of America until after 1933, so we made up for such a lack by using lots of tinsel and glittery angel hair with icicles that dripped and caught the light of the lamps that we placed all around so the tree would gleam. How I loved stringing the strands of popcorn and cranberries to make garlands for the tree. Then we used the lovely Christmas gift wrap to make cornucopias, and Mother saved all of the beautiful Christmas cards of that day for decorating so we had loads of decorations on the tree that we loved. There was my red rubber Santa that sister Josephine gave to me when I was six and we used it every year. It was made of rubber, and you blew it up to form the person of Ole Santa. The little cork-stopper was the top-knot of his cap! What a treasure that was to me, and I was the one who had the privilege of deciding just where he would be hanging to show him off to the best advantage! Sometimes I had the boys climb up and place him up high, and sometimes he hung from the lowest branches to oversee the gifts under the tree. 

    The smells that came from the kitchen are still in my memory! Mother was baking cookies for weeks ahead, and I had the fun of decorating the gingerbread boys and girls that she made. Some of them had the holes made in them so we could use them on the tree! And all of her twenty-gallon crock-jars were filled with goodies. I remember I could smell the cookies all the way out to the front porch and Mother always let us eat a treat as soon as we arrived! Wow! She always said, “Mac, you can put your books down and help me put these cookies away so we can set the table.” You see, we always ate all of our meals except the actual holiday meals at the big long kitchen table in the winter time because it was cozy and warm in there and the food stayed hot from stove to table. We had an oil cloth that Mother used for her working surface and then when we were ready to set the table to eat, we had another one that looked exactly like it was made of linen! It had a textured type of surface and a sort of soft cloth-like backing so you could fold it and put it aside and bring it out for the meal. That’s what we did. I used to think, “Why could we not just spread the every-day cloth over the other one, and then take it off when it was supper-time.” But I never said it aloud, because I would think again, “No, Mother must have a good reason and she knows more than I do.” However, I did not mind asking Irene what she thought, and she said, “Why, that’s because the good cloth is expensive and we want it to stay looking nice for a long time. We use it for the meal, take it off carefully, fold and that way it will be nice for the supper meal for a long time.”Somehow, although her explanation was just a simple statement of what I already knew, it always seemed to make a lot more sense when Irene explained it, and she never failed to take the time to answer when I asked her anything.

    There is nothing in the world that takes the place of a big sister, and I had three of them. Each one of them took up time with me. Clementine taught me how to do all of the fancy embroidery stitches before I was ten years of age. At Christmas time, one year she made new clothes for my dolls. She used wall paper and decorated a box that we had to make it like a doll’s trunk to store them in. That was her gift to me. Another time, sister Irene made a beautiful coverlet for my doll bed with a pillow to match and my new doll was lying in that bed under the tree. Here I have to admit that brother Charles made the doll bed! Jo loved to give me books and I had all of the Bobbsey Twin series and later on “The Motor Girls” series. She liked to give me such things as my first small manicuring set, and the fashionable berets when I was twelve, and fashion type of half socks—things that a young girl loves to wear, such as butterfly skirts and sweaters. My Christmas mornings were all filled with Christmas joy because of the extra love that I had showered on me by the big sisters.

    Christmas Day! What fun we had. We built snow forts and played snowball war, with two sides fighting each other and I remember that once and only once, Mother and Dad got in the fray! That was due to Josephine’s pleas and they thought she hung the moon. Somehow, we never knew how, she persuaded them to come out and play snowball with us, and they did! Of course, we pelted them with snow and they ran back in the house after a very short time, but it was lots of fun throwing snowballs at them!

    I remember one time when we were all playing games, and Dad came in and said, “Which one of you will play me a game of checkers?” That was usually Josephine’s privilege, and she was good at it, but this time he included the whole bunch, and my brother, Charles, said, “I’ll play you a game.” Well, now! What a great thing that was! We all said, “Charles, you know he’s the champion.” Charles said, “I know a few tricks I’ve learned from Custer Dawson.” (Our first cousin, who was Aunt Lucy’s son) The upshot of that game was that it lasted two or three sessions and although Dad won, he said Charles was as hard to beat as any of the men he had played in the county championship, and he urged Charles to enter the contest the next year.

    Christmas dinner was started right after the kitchen was readied up after breakfast. Mother had that bird ready for the oven and she popped it in there the first thing, because it was always a big one and the stuffing she made was something that never left over! The groaning table was filled with everything delicious that makes my mouth water now, just thinking of it. It was not the style in those days to limit the number of dishes you had on the table, therefore, there would be Mother’s spiced peaches, cranberry sauce, celery—(these were rare treats—not plentiful as they are today, but the stores brought them in by train and also oranges and the Washington state delicious apples, as well as nuts such as Brazil nuts and English walnuts.) then Mother had watermelon rind pickles and pickled beets as well as her own bread and butter specials. Then besides the turkey and dressing there were her own hot rolls, and all sorts of vegetables fixed in various ways that differed from our every day fare. Then, the dessert was fruit cake with peaches, or mincemeat pie, pumpkin or whatever the girls dreamed up that they wanted to make. The large cupboard was filled with the pies the girls made and Mother always boasted when we had dessert, “We have apple, pumpkin, gooseberry, or mincemeat pie, if anyone wants pie instead of fruit cake and peaches.” There was no danger of anything going to waste. Remember, we lived away from town, and there was no ice delivery where we lived, so no refrigeration, but there was a big long counter on the back porch and anything we wanted to keep cold we could easily put it out there and it would freeze solid in no time, so the only thing we kept out there was the butter which was in molds and in a big crock covered with a cast-iron lid. We brought a pound in at night so it would not be too hard in the morning! It was still plenty cold just in the kitchen, after the wood stove fire had died out.

    The water bucket was frozen over plenty of times when I was a child. Sometimes when the weather was below zero we stoked the fires in the kitchen and the fireplaces and my father kept them going during the night when they needed an extra log or two, and we kept the heavy pieces that would burn slowly in the kitchen stove. Even so, that big old house was as cold as ice and when Dad called, the boys had to get up and get those fires roaring and downstairs as warm as toast, because they knew how to put the huge log in the back and build the fire with three or four split logs and a couple of good sized whole logs on top of them, then they opened the damper to get it going and the crackle and pop of it, the blaze that was soon going was a sight to behold. Such was the room when I at last came down to see what the stocking held. That was always the first place I looked and my brothers had already seen all of their loot before I came down because I had to get dressed in whatever was hanging on my chair, for the sisters usually laid it all out for me to wear when morning came. Mother sometimes had made a new dress, and sometimes the sisters bought new socks or something to add that was pretty. I brushed my own hair and made myself presentable before going downstairs. Since I was the youngest they always wanted to make a big deal over my Christmas, and the whole family enjoyed seeing me open my gifts. Once I remember that Johnny drew a picture for me of a squirrel coming down the tree, and chestnuts were all around on the ground. Irene matted it on construction paper and I had it on my wall for several years. I don’t know where he found it, but James once gave me a beautiful lacy handkerchief that Mother wrapped in Christmas wrap for him. We children had no allowance and very seldom had any money except sometimes Jo gave us some, or one of our Uncles, or ‘Grandma Johnson—we spent such gifts as soon as we could get to a store so when Christmas came we resorted to things we made. I had gifts from the teacher during the year for errands I ran, and I managed to save a few nickels to spend, so Mother usually allowed me to buy them such things as a pocket knife, or a small pocket comb that came in a little clip on the pocket type of cardboard case that looked like leather, or a man’s type handkerchief. Remember, we did not have tissues in those days and everyone had to carry a pocket handkerchief on which Mother embroidered the initials so when we washed and ironed them one would have JWJ and the other one would have JFJ on it. They loved having their initial on their handkerchief. One year I gave them a bandana handkerchief which tickled them pink. You see, even though we were just children, and had no money, we thought of ways to give gifts to each other. One time Johnny made me a poem, and I still have it, but it is in my mind!


I don’t have much to give you, Mack,

I haven’t any money.

But I can write you a poem

And tell you something funny.

I’ll tell you what I saw today

When I was at the barn,

A bird with a nest in the rafters

Built of scraps of Mother’s yarn!

He decided to spend the winter

I guess he was too slow,

And was caught before he knew it

And the ground was covered with snow.

I think he is a red bird, Mack,

He was eating from the manger,

And flew to his nest in a hurry

When he thought he was in danger.

I whistled a bird call to him, Mack,

I wasn’t sure of his name

He never sang a single note,

But for that I could not blame.

Tomorrow I am fixing a pine cone

Mother is showing me how

I’ll fill it full of suet

And hang it near the cow.

He’s sure to love that pine cone, Mack,

Tomorrow you can see,

I’ll show you his yarn- strewn nest

And maybe he’ll sing for me.

A Christmas bird has stayed over, Mack,

A special bird of cheer,

My milking time goes by in a flash

Because I feel him near.

But the present he makes is bonnie,

In the words that I write as a Christmas gift

To Mack from your brother, Johnny.              

John F. Johnson, Christmas, 1929.

    All right, in just a few short weeks it will be Christmas again, and here I have visited memory’s garden and brought you some of the treasures that are saved there. I thank the dear Lord that we have His birthday to celebrate, and the memories of ninety five Christmas days are as bright today as they ever were. I wish all of you a Christmas with the heart filled with love and joy, the ears full of Christmas carols, the house full of family and friends, and may 2014 be a Christmas of treasured memories. The most wonder-filled Christmas for me is the fact that all my family-extended and all—so far as I know, I will meet again in Heaven! That, to me, is joy unspeakable and full of glory!

             Christmas Love to each of you! 

Mackie. Mother, Mom, Momma, Aunt or whatever!

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHURCH LIBRARY STORY TIME

Maxine J. Bersch-Lovern

Just a few weeks ago I finished reading Steve Hale’s book, TRUTH DECAY. (RIVERSTONEGROUP PUBLISHING) It is a most disturbing book and one which I wish all church librarians would place on their shelves, and put a copy in the hands of their pastors. The sub-title is The Erosion of Traditional Values in American Culture. The author makes no bones about where the responsibility for this condition of society lies, and names our churches. He spells it all out and I leave it to you to get the book and read it, then you will see the necessity for taking action. (There is another book out now with the same title, but a different author. Please note the author’s name here and the publisher)

            As church librarians we are in the best possible location to offer a remedy. I have notified my National Storytellers League that we need to make it national policy to place public schools as a priority in our programming. We are a service organization and therefore the schools can afford us, for we do not charge anything for our services. That being said, now if our church libraries would all start a story time just like public libraries do, but for our individual congregations, then we have the perfect place to be influential in the instilling of traditional values while the children are still young and have not been robbed of all their innocence as they assuredly will be in the public arena. I have been urging this since 1978 and thank the Lord there are many church libraries with the story time and have sent me letters and pictures! However, I want to say this to any who are not including this, you are finding a need to reach out to the young mothers and fathers in your congregations, and I say, have a story time and they will come running.

We can be the antidote, for Jesus said that the person who heard his sayings and did them was like a wise man who built his house on a rock, and the ones who did not do them were like the man who built his house on the sand, and when the storms came the wise man’s house stood firmly, while the other one fell, and great was the fall Jesus added. We do not want to see this happening to our children and it certainly will if we allow them to grow up with no foundation in the truth. There are many churches with Mother’s Morning Out programs, as well as the nursery school and the k-12 schools. If you have those you are in the perfect place to put this program into effect and surely there is someone in every church library staff who would be willing to begin this program. I did this on a weekly basis when I was church librarian and it was highly successful. I never had a session when there were not several parents and before the year was up, the adult audience grew and some of them became tellers!

            I want to quote from this book to show you the facts that are well documented and alarming to say the least. This quote is from page 28, paragraph 2, and it is result of international testing.

            On 19 academic tests Americans were NEVER first or second and in comparison with other industrialized nations were LAST seven times.

          Here I am skipping several test results but here is a quote that sends the chills up your spine. After showing all of the LASTS then it said that when asked if they were good at math, 68% of Americans thought they were! That is scary. But now you see where we are. This I know from personal experience, when a friend’s child was an A student and they decided to place him in the local Christian school, he couldn’t pass their third grade reading tests, and he was in the sixth grade. I tutored him once a week for a year and brought him up so that he could read past his grade! I put aside his reading books and took him straight to King Arthur, and after that Treasure Island and Arabian Nights stories. Well, it was like a kid had been eating bread and water and you put fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy in front of him. He was literally starved and had never read any of that fabulous collection of great stories for children. I followed my mother’s method for she taught me first,and as I read the material aloud and found an unfamiliar word, we went to the dictionary, discussed the meaning fully with familiar illustrations and he simply loved learning in that way. We can get them loving books and reading and we can get them wanting to read the right kind of material. If you do not have a good representation of children’s literature on your shelves, I think you should begin to build that part of the collection and leave all those adult books the way they are, for they don’t use them and the fiction shelves are the ones being read. If you do not have a children’s room apart from the regular library then make some sort of arrangement of the shelves, and make it a child-friendly place.

          I assure you that all the public libraries in Dallas and the surrounding cities are not cutting down on their story times but have them for older children and a separate one for the very young. They also have a Senior program which no one wants to miss for they have gifted speakers and musicians come and the door opens thirty minutes before schedule and if you are not there waiting you will not get a seat! It seats about three hundred only, at the branch where I go and so people are lined up.

I had a friend who belonged to the “Great Books Discussion Group” at the public library and she was a deacon’s wife. I called her up and asked her if she would head up a similar type of group only under “Great Christian Books.” She said she would be glad to and I just checked the subject file and found several really good ones such as Dr. Cauthen’s biography, a modernized version of “Pilgrim’s Progress” Sholem Asch’s “The Nazarene” etc.( I found all of his books in a box of gifts that had been sitting in the back room and I saved them. They are absolutely the best Christian books I have ever read and written by a Polish man who was a Jew.) and took them over to her and told her I would be bringing her more so she could be getting ready. She began by checking her personal friends and some of the members of the public library group that she happened to know would be interested, and she was able to get about a dozen who were willing to begin and she told them all about how it would work. So they began meeting after the Wednesday night supper and it lasted until eight o’clock and she announced it at the supper, and before you know it she had the library full of people. This went on for about two years when her circumstances changed and I had no one willing to replace her as chair person.

          As a Christian storyteller, I have experienced this in my church, and taught at the state and national levels, I can promise you that the parents will love it and respond to it. I have many letters in my file of people who took my class and then went home and did this in their libraries ! I also have received several phone calls from pastors who took my class and went home to teach it to pastors in their ecumenical groups, and their own associations. This is not something out of my own head, for we know that libraries all over America all have story time and it is reasonable to expect that our church libraries would be the very best story tellers of all! This is my suggestion for attracting the younger generation to the church library, and I believe a book discussion group involving both men and women is feasible for the church library.

                                                                                                                        Maxine Bersch-Lovern

November at the Johnson Place

I set my mind to happily remember

How it was at our home every November.

By then the frosty mornings freeze the nose

You hear a sighing in the wind that blows.

The cellar house hangs high the herbal treasure

And corn field beans are there for winter pleasure.

Dried apples are removed from thread and packed

Safely in the bags that Mother made they’re sacked.

Hams and shoulders are in smokehouse smoking

Buried in salt the other parts are soaking.

Although the zero weather we expect

It cannot touch our food supply; it is checked

In kiln, on excelsior beds it’s found—

All rutabagas, turnips, parsnips underground

With sweet potatoes, also, in the bed,

And, by the way, our cabbages by the head,

Were fully protected from the cold and snow

By plowing furrow, straw-lined,stalks aloft to show!

We buried the cabbage heads for Mother’s slaw,

For soup, or just a pot of cabbage, or eat it raw!

Potatoes and corn bread with it! What a treat!

Sorghum molasses, pickled beans, sauerkraut to eat!

This is why the Johnson’s celebrated in November

For snow and ice would follow in December.

There were wooden chests of apples we could munch,

And take to school to share when we had lunch.

A wooden box held Dutch onions large, the flavor bold,

But my father said “Eat onions and ward off a cold!”

Hundreds and hundreds of Mason fruit jars lined the shelves,

And we canned the fruits and vegetables grown ourselves.

November we gathered round the fire.The harvest is in.

The walnuts, hazelnuts, and pop corn are in the bin.

It’s time for blazing logs, for games and story

Thanksgiving has arrived in all its glory!

                                                   Maxine Johnson Bersch-Lovern

                                                   Nov. 9, 2014

My Sufficiency is of God

            I will think first of my insufficiency. I feel very weak and inadequate sometimes and always am wishing for more of God. I have recognized for a long time that I have no strength at all which is not from God.

            We know that if we lack wisdom we may ask of God and he will show the way. If you have asked for the right reason, that is, if nothing hinders or prevents Him in your desires, then the solution will come. I have proved Him “o’er and o’er” and I can say without any fear at all, “God will help you if you place yourself in His hands and trust.

            Many times, you will hear people say how hard it is living the Christian life—the discipline involved, the self, which constantly rears its head and interferes with spiritual power flow. The constant tension between the lower nature and the higher nature some say is so discouraging. Some describe it as a turmoil between mind and soul, and ask, “Where is that peace which passes all understanding?” If you read the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, you will see that he shows in allegorical style the many obstacles that the Lord allows us to encounter and they are placed in our way as the obstacle course is in the life of the soldier. By the time he has had six weeks of training, he can go through the courses with ease. The Lord wants to strengthen the Christian and so we have the difficult places.

            We may struggle to find words to speak of reassurance when challenged in that way. Words are not enough, but the Lord gives images that are helpful. I like to think of this tug and pull as a great ship at rest in the harbor. It is anchored there and freely floats about within a limited space but has no freedom to drift away. We are held—we are anchored—we are kept by His power. Another picture, regardless of struggles, there is one in the yoke with us. When we are pulled we simply know that he is yoked with us, and he is doing supernatural pulling for us. So we can say, “Even my insufficiency is of God, because, though I have limitations, God is more evident when He performs. Back now to the ship metaphor, if I by nature were strong and confident then God would be a figurehead, one to whom I mouthed prayers, but then went about my business of setting the sails and commanding the ship. But No! God is my refuge—my strength, A Very Present Help.

            In further meditation on the thought, “My sufficiency is of God,” I have considered ways to keep myself focused on this truth. Once my little granddaughter came to me and said, “Grandma, will you hear my Bible verse?” I was delighted and her verse was Psalm 18:1-2.   I made my screen saver this scripture verse to run like Times Square and that helped me remember how great is God’s sufficiency. I kept it there for a couple of years until I changed it to another one. This is Psalm 18:1-2. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation and my high tower. It was an extremely helpful way to remind myself that without the Lord I am as a reed in the wind, and have no stability at all. I thank the Lord and praise Him for this great blessing He has given me.

            At quiet times I ask the Lord for verses from His Word to help to crystallize these thoughts and to give me more. Many treasures I have found. I will show four here as examples.

            Deut. 31:6   The Lord Thy God, he it is that doth go with thee, he will not fail thee nor forsake thee.

            Deut. 33:25   As thy days, so shall thy strength be.( at nearly 96 I am living proof of this!)

            2nd Tim.1:7     For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.

            2nd Tim. 2:1   Be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ.

           And, in addition to the wonderful verses he guided me to find, He has given me beautiful thoughts to ponder. For example: “You believe in God, believe also in me,” and in pondering that again, I see that my sufficiency is in the grace of Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave himself for me. Many verses of poetry have taken on new meaning:

           For example, this four- liner is worth remembering, and I cannot find it on internet nor in my Barclay’s, so let’s call it anonymous, but I am pretty sure there is an author, but I can’t remember nor find it:

                        So many faiths and so many creeds

                        So many paths that wind and wind,

                        While just the art of being kind

                        Is what the old world needs.

            Here is a favorite Bible verse that takes on deeper meaning as I grow older.

           Luke 9:48 “Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me, and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me, for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” That should give us pause. The responsibility for holding a child’s life as a sacred trust is shown here by the Lord himself! When I receive a child, it is literally the Lord. Jesus loves the little children of the world, the song says—

           I remember all the stories I have told to children. I remember all the love I have shown to children through the years. I remember the hours and hours I have spent reading, adapting and learning stories for the little ones. Then I think, “Let the little ones come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” That causes me to think that inasmuch as I have loved and received my Christian brothers and sisters and have shared the bread of Life that He has given me, I know that I have acted in His stead. He is my sufficiency. I cannot forgive, but God can and does help me to do it. I cannot love, but God puts his own love inside my heart and enables me to shine for Him. I cannot teach, but the Lord stands there in the person of the Holy Spirit and brings all things to my remembrance. Praise the Lord for He is Good. He is indeed, all my sufficiency! I shall not want for anything, for He is my shepherd! Then I like to think of the spiritual application of that term, and realize that I am under the powerful protection of the Lord and He is my sufficiency!

            The Psalmist, David, sang in Psalm 139 all that lovely praise to the Lord for His Great sufficiency! I will sing it with him and never forget it at any time!

             O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, you know it altogether. You beset me behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.

            Yes, my greatest blessing is my insufficiency. It is when I feel the weakest, the most inadequate, that the Lord steps in and surprises me with such strength, such fluency of speech, and other signs that I cannot but know who it is that is responsible for my sufficiency. A very large volume I could fill with all of the examples of such times when he showed himself to me without any room for doubt at all. I will mention just one of his great surprises here.

            One time while leading a conference either at Ridgecrest or Glorieta, I forget which, it was for the Missions Festival called Jericho. My class consisted of ministers, ministers of youth, missionaries, etc. One of them asked me, “I belong to a fellowship of ministers and rabbis. Can you give me some sources for stories that would be helpful to tell at our meetings sometimes?” There I was, with all of my files at home. This was before the book, Storytelling in a Nutshell, was published. I said, “The resource list I have included in your handouts will have many such stories, but will you give me time to think about this tonight and bring something for the entire class tomorrow?” It was all right with him. That evening I said to my husband, “I am going to need your prayers for God to help me.” I then explained, “All my files are at home, and I have nothing but the titles in the resource list and I am not sure I will remember what stories are in which book mentioned as a source for stories.” We were on our knees together for a few minutes then I took my resource list in hand and began to think about these wonderful stories.

            The stories began flooding my mind and the source for each came right along with it. I wrote them with a marker on a blank transparency and had them ready to show the next morning. I told several of them to the class for their enjoyment. That fact alone is amazing. I would normally have to review a story that I have not told for a while! I remembered them and could tell them!   About two years after that I had a phone call from that same minister asking permission to use the resource list including what I had written on the transparency. He was going to be leading a workshop in storytelling to the ministers and rabbis! Of course, I was delighted; we talked a bit and it was a huge encouragement to me that he had gone ahead with his storytelling and wanted to pass it on to other ministers.

            The words of the Psalmist in the verse I quoted above are so applicable here, for he says, even before a thought is on my tongue he knows it altogether! Then “such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high, I cannot attain it.” Amen! Remember, I said, I have enough such marvelous and awesome stories to fill a large book! Since I am now almost 96 years of age, I have a great store of such experiences. Wow! I didn’t realize how long this is. I wrote most of this years ago, but I revised it for the blog, because now that my latest book is out and I am on another one, I feel that my blog readers should know that I do not claim any glory for any of my writing because I gave it all over to the Lord many years ago! That is how I am able to be fruitful for Him in my old age, for he promised it in His word! I really must tell one more.

I had a workshop for the MBA Alumni of the University of Richmond, and remember, I was a seasoned storyteller and experienced in workshops on a national level to such audiences as I showed in the above example, so I had the shock of my life that just as the room was filling up with the men and women who were having coffee and talking while I was looking at the watch and it was about ten minutes before starting time. Out of the blue, for the first time in my storytelling life, I had an attack of stage fright! It was sudden and severe! My legs would hardly hold me up as I hurried to the restroom. I went in a stall and down to my knees in that unheard of place, but I had to have privacy and I had to kneel! “What is this, Lord? I thought I was in your will when I prayed about accepting this invitation! What is going on here? I can’t teach in this condition!” I was bawling hard! Just as suddenly as it came, it left me, and I stood up, washed my face, re-fixed my face and while I was doing that, I felt like ice cold steel was inserted in my spine and it went right on up to my head! My brain was a cool as a cucumber!

The voice was my normal strong voice, and filled with authority and self-possession way out there beyond anything I had felt just minutes before!

The Lord took charge and taught this course for me, and I will have you know that every anecdote and illustration that I had carefully researched and prepared to use, was replaced by others that I knew, but had never planned to use in this particular workshop! When I left them at noon, these people I had given a one on one assignment to tell each other stories out of their own experience that would be suitable to use in evaluating an employee and I left it up to them to decide what the problem would be with the employee and the story they would use in a hypothetical way to get the point across with the employee. They turned to each other and began and were immediately absorbed in their own storytelling and I waved a goodbye sign to them and walked out to my car walking on air all the way! What is your reaction to that story? You see plainly that the Lord is my sufficiency!

KING ARTHUR AND THE OLD UGLY WOMAN

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur’s youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if, after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question? What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch’s proposition to have an answer by year’s end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.

Many people advised him to consult the old ugly woman, for only she would have the answer.

But the price would be high; as the woman was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the old woman. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.  

The old ugly woman wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur’s closest friend!

Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.

He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur.

He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur’s life and the preservation of the Round Table.

Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the woman answered Arthur’s question thus:

What a woman really wants, she answered….is to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the woman had uttered a great truth and that Arthur’s life would be spared.

And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the ugly woman had a wonderful wedding.

The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened.

The young beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared ugly, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.

Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day….or night?

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old ugly woman? Or, would he prefer having a hideous woman during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?

What would YOU do?

What Lancelot chose is below.

BUT….make YOUR choice before you scroll down below.    

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OKAY?  

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.  

Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

Now….what is the moral to this story?  

The moral is…..

If you don’t let a woman have her own way….

Things are going to get ugly…

Dear Friends, I am posting this ancient story just as I received it, and the conclusion which is meant to be clever and funny.  (And it is)  However, when I TELL the story I always conclude it this way–THIS PROVES THAT NO MATTER HOW HOMELY THE WOMAN IS, WHEN SHE IS HONORED BY A MAN AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER, THEN HER SPIRIT IS MADE BEAUTIFUL AND SHE IS TRANSFORMED BY THE INNER BEAUTY INTO THE MOST LOVELY AND DESIRABLE CREATURE TO THE MAN. (MBL)

How To Get Started Learning A Few Good Stories

It is not hard to start telling stories! Simply learn a few good ones and tell them! Folk tales are very simple and easy, and also ones that come out of your own memory that you have made into story form.

  • Aesops fables are easy to learn. For example the story of the how the sun and the wind had an argument as to which was stronger. That is always good to tell.
  • The Man, the Boy and the Donkey is my favorite fable.
  • I also love the one about The Proud Frog
  • and everyone loves to tell about the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
  • The Bundle of Sticks is another favorite.
  • The Sun and the Wind
  • Just that many fables that you have down pat will serve you well at all times. I never mention the lesson, although the lesson is always prominent in fables, but I follow through on my rule to let the story do the telling.
    • Think about the ones you already know and can tell. For example, almost everyone knows
    • The Billy Goats Gruff,
    • The Three Little Pigs,
    • Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
    • and Little Red Riding Hood.
    • The Gingerbread Boy
    • The Traveling Fox
    • Lambikin

This is a good start and you can easily add a few to this list and get a repertoire going .

The Ugly Duckling when animated well and shortened, is really great for fours and fives. Reading it aloud from Andersen is too long, but telling it makes all the difference. Be sure to put words in the mouths and say them the way they should sound. EX: “Now listen to me! You are to stay close and follow me–Ready!1-2-3-GO!” And they all jumped in the pond and went swimming along behind their mother.

The Fox and the Little Red Hen is another easy one, and how they love to respond for the animals!   “Who will help me do thus and so?” “Not I!” said the cat, “Not I! said the rat, Not I! said the mouse, “Then I will” said the Little Red Hen and she did. Then, of course, after the little red hen does all the work and finally bakes the cake, they want to share in the cake, but, no! they are not to be allowed to do that! Well, it is a great story! and the children ask for it over and again, so that is the proof of the pudding. Imagine my surprise when I have had the big third graders call out that title when asked, “We have a few minutes, do you have a favorite you want me to tell?”

  • Such stories as The Little Engine that Could is easy to learn, with lots of repetition the children love, and is a good Christmas story. I like to tell that one just any time, however, and they always like it. One of my favorite Christmas stories is the one about the harper who went to play for the king–I always want to call it The Harper, but I think the title is actually The Promise by Maud Lindsay. Now you can ask the librarian where to find it. I only remember the story and author at this point, but that says it–I love to tell it.
  • Think of the Native American tales you know. Do you remember the one about Why the Bear Has a Stumpy Tail? Children love them. Get a book of them at the library, and learn two or three of the simple ones like that one. Fifth and Sixth graders love Scarface, and other big long stories. I love to tell these stories! Especially the ones about the Coyote. There are so many fabulous stories in that genre. I can tell you that I learned to love them when I was in the third grade myself, and there were two or three in my reading book, along with pictures that captured my imagination. I recall the canoe that was heading for the falls. Now either that picture was in the book or in the words, I do not recall which!
  • African tales. Black Americans have wonderful stories in their culture. Find books with stories from East Africa, and ask the librarian for help. Tell the person helping you that you are just getting started and what would be good? Lots of help will be yours! Virginia Hamilton’s book The People Could Fly has some really good ones in it. I tell about He Lion, Bruh Bear and Bruh Rabbit from that one, and for high school students I tell, The People Could Fly.
  • You don’t have to memorize the story! Remember that! Just learn the sequence of events and tell it in your own words. Be sure to practice it at home so you can make your voice do things to amuse and entertain. Just a few times like this and you’ll feel great about it!

This is the way to learn a story today and tell it tomorrow:

Pick a good, amusing folk tale that appeals to you. That’s important! You have to like the story! Read the story aloud three or four times. Time it .If it is too long, shorten it by cutting out all unnecessary phrases.

  • See if you can remember what happened first, then next, etc. to the end. Say it out loud.
  • Look back at the story and see if you! Left anything out. Repeat the sequence of events.
  • If you left anything out read the story aloud a couple more times. Now repeat the sequence of events
  • Now start telling the story the way you remember it . Be sure to put words in the mouths of the characters and mimic the way you think it should sound. EX. Try to make your voice croak like a frog, hiss like a snake, or make a quackish sound for a duck’s voice. etc.
  • Practice it until you have it sounding the way you want it to sound. Leave it alone at that point so that your zest for the story itself will return to you and you feel eager to tell it.
  • Now you are ready for the audience! The kids are gonna love you!   And you are going to LOVE being a storyteller!

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Horse Sense from A to Z

Volumes are in print about the phenomenal way our minds work in the thought process. Computer experts are now working to bring about experiential thinking by computers, no less! Soon, they claim, we shall be able to converse with our computerized robots and interact with them as with another human being! They are bringing all the thought processes to bear on the problem. The question, it seems, is the matter of intuition. Now that, they say, is a horse of a different color! To reduce that experience to a mathematical formula is requiring all sorts of inductive, abductive or this or that sort of reasoning power. Suffice it to say, they can lead the horse to water, but they can’t make him drink! Oops! I meant to say, think.

            I have been giving this a great deal of thought, since the physicists are definitely on the track of something. They are calling it veiled reality. One of them won a huge prize, and that term surfaced as they described his findings.

            Now, just for the fun of it, I decided to follow a thought process (as nearly as I could) that I had recently, just to see how in the world a mechanical brain could ever have conscious thinking to compare with what went on in my gray matter the time that I received an email story about a blind horse.

In the story, the master did not put him down, but fastened a bell around the neck of the mare, and he could hear that and follow her around as she grazed in the meadow. The writer wanted to convey the hope that the story brought, that the good Lord watches out for us in such a way, and provides a solution when we are faced with problems. This is what happened in my mind. I followed it all the way and see what you think.

Why is the blind one portrayed as the male, and the seeing one as the female? Is this some feminist with an agenda?” That was the first thought, followed then by all sorts of ruminations, we might say, “from A to Z.” I could never begin to trace them all down, for they were like lightning—zip! Some were these: “It would make more ‘horse-sense’ to have the male horse lead the female, since the male of the species is usually stronger and his role is to protect.” Then off again, “Why did the Creator not make Eve from “Scratch,” as he made Adam?”

Was she an after-thought? No! He is omniscient. That is impossibility!  Here I went trotting off to the dictionary and looked at the word, human. Hmmm! After defining it as Homo sapiens, the human race, etc, it then adds this cogent phrase, the words, human being, is still the preferred usage! That is the wording in my dictionary. Here you see I have gone from horse to human and never batted an eye.

“Oh, yes!” the soliloquy went on, “Yes indeed! We are ‘beings!” I am—you are—he is a human being. Now here the mind goes darting off to “and we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights! That is where the water hits the wheel. Absolutely! Now another thought hits the brain, What is that Latin phrase on the West Virginia seal? Mountaineers are always free! Montani Semper Liberi? Oh, yes! I remember that. I wonder why that popped up in my mind?

The Lord knows every word I think before I write it or say it!!

I wonder if the scientists think they can factor Him into their equations?

At that point I must stop for one thing led to another and how could they ever get that to dart back and forth in a robot’s electronic brain!

Only God can bring about thought which has in it every experience and emotion that any person has ever had. That would be impossible to bring about in an electronic device, I believe. Where would such a train of thought come from in a robot?

I must add that this writing has even caused me to go looking for this poem, for I remembered reading it in one of my poetry books, but where? I finally located it. I never memorized it, but I have read it again and again because it says what I really want to say about the matter of thinking and feeling robots.

For while the rabble with their thumb-worn creeds,

Their large professions and their little deeds,

Mingle in selfish strife, lo, Freedom weeps!

Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps!

(J.C. Holland. Poems of Action. Association Press.)

                                                                                                    Maxine J. Bersch-Lovern

OH BEAUTIFUL! FRESH AND GREEN!

Psalm 92:12-15 NIV

The righteous will flourish like the palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright, he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

             I love this Psalm!  It is a Psalm of praise that I love to quote from and it is one of the loveliest from beginning to end!  Like Psalm 23 that we all love, it begins speaking OF the Lord and changes over to speaking TO Him!  In this one the Psalmist hardly gets a word out of his mouth when he suddenly begins speaking to the Lord!  “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre, and the melody of the harp.”  It is a song of praise and ends with the words I quoted at the start of this.

I am praising the Lord today because I am getting a new website and this one is green! It is almost April, the Queen of months!  She is donning her beautiful new dress of green and showing the world that new life is all about us.  I am thrilled that my webmaster designed this new site for me, and how did he know that I was extremely unhappy with the old site?  He did this out of the blue for me, and if the Lord did not put that bug in his ear, then who did?

I assure you, I did not ask for green—how did he know this would please me?  And he gave me a special place for favorite scripture verses!  How did he know?  He made it simple to use to accommodate my lack of tech savvy.  As I look it over, I am very happy that all my past blogs are here!  Nothing good is lost and now everything is “fresh and green” just like the Lord likes to keep things—he’s always busy making everything new!  He keeps me fresh and green!

I am sitting high on a hilltop, tossing all my troubles to the moon!  For the Lord seems to say, “Don’t you worry!   You’ll be in Virginia very soon! Here near the sky on the hilltop, I can say the world is all in tune, and I forget all the hasty times and hurry, Knowing that the Lord has planned a boon!

This is my new gooseberry bush where I come running

When I want to share my thoughts with you,

Or when I want to tell a funny story

Or write a silly verse or maybe two.

For the next few days I will be busy getting ready for my trip to Virginia where I’ll get to meet up with dear old friends and sweet family members!  I will get to teach storytelling again!  And I will present Pilate’s wife, Claudia. My book, Under the Gooseberry Bush, I will sign for anyone who wants it.

Some of the words from Longfellow’s Psalm of Life are good to remember!   “Life is real.  Life is earnest; and the grave is not its goal.  Dust thou art, to dust returneth– was not spoken of the soul. Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints on the sands of Time.

To say I am excited to be writing a new greeting to you on my new website is a masterpiece of understatement—that old saying is perfect for this time and place.  I am thrilled and happy today because it is a new website, but it’s made to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love!  And He always guides me to tell it gently as to a little child!  This I love to do, for I have never forgotten how it feels to be a little child; how I loved to pull the curtain on my play area and shut the world out to be there in my own little world; to climb up on my chair and look out over the mountain ranges and to dream dreams of far away places with strange sounding names.

There will be a place for you to respond on my new site.  I like it much better than the other one, and you will too!

Happy Valentine’s Day

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. St. John 13: 34,35

             Every one falls short of loving perfectly—for it is impossible in our own nature to attain the Lord’s perfection.  Only the Lord can love without any conditions attached and we come up short of His glory.

How wonderful it is that the vilest of human beings will always be welcome to come before the Throne of Grace and receive Mercy.  How sad, it seems to me, that having received such blood-bought forgiveness, we should sin against God’s Holy Spirit in holding a grievance against a brother or a sister in Christ.

As a true Valentine gesture I say, if you have hard feelings toward anyone, ask the Lord to help you to love that person as He has loved you!  Be tender hearted, and forgive that person. I have found that the Lord is always ready to answer that prayer of petition, “Lord, help me!” In that way we may participate in His nature! He makes His home with us through His Holy Spirit, therefore, you are immediately blessed with a generous portion of His love for that person, and you find words of encouragement and cheer to offer.

Some gesture is called for to show that person that you are full of loving kindness and ready to demonstrate it!  A phone call, a Valentine greeting card or a note is sure to be received in the spirit that you offer it.  The important thing is to speak your love—again and again!  Love begets love—true words that we all know from our own experience.  You can’t stay angry in your heart with someone who loves you and says so, then shows you the sincerity of the words by some act of kindness.

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to make everything right with everyone.  Nothing compares to knowing that you can face the Lord unashamed, because you have acted in obedience!  We remember that these words of his are a commandment!  We have no option!  The only way possible to be in purest worship is when we are acting in obedience to His commandments to love God with all the heart, with all the mind, with all the strength and to love others as He has loved us.

Here I will tell a little story out of my own weakness to show how this is made not only possible but easily doable when we call on Him for help.  In my devotional one morning I felt how weak I am and how miserably short I fall in this important spiritual requirement, and I cried out to the Lord, “How can I possibly do this?” I had my head down on the table. Suddenly the image of a leaf popped up in my head and I jumped up and ran to the encyclopedia, flipping over to the leaf section and reviewing again all the properties of the leaf.

Here I simply translated those into a spiritual application and saw that the dear Lord was showing me how to alwaysabide!  As we say in everyday speech, “Hang in there!”  Think of yourself as being a leaf on the branch which is securely fastened in the Vine, Jesus Christ!  Always consider yourself as a LEAF.  You are a LIVING part of the BODY of CHRIST here on EARTH! The spiritual functions can be compared to the finite version of the leaf which falls off when its season is over but it does not die!  Its physical form becomes merely dormant at the close of the season.  In its active seasonal state it provides beauty (glory—strength) to the tree; it brings identification (Christian), and when the active role closes it falls to the ground and continues its life through the root system—and that compares to our eternal life in Christ. (Ps.1)

Again and again I have had reason to “see” the image of the leaf as the Lord reminds me of the morning that it happened, and He also brings the message back so that I am continually encouraged and strengthened by recalling it and by sharing it with others as I have done here today! All for a testimony to the power we have to act as Jesus commanded, for he explained all of that in replying to Philip and Jude there in the Gospel of John, when Philip asked Him to show us the Father—and to the reply He gave then Jude asked, “How will that be possible?”  The Vine life shows how we are connected to the Lord at all times, and nothing can separate us.

Now here I must digress just a bit for the Lord is nudging my mind and saying, “You need to show the danger here of NOT abiding IN the Spirit.”  All right, here it is.  ONLY GOD CAN DO GOD’S WORK.  Remember, He is always available and you must call on Hin and do all your spiritual tasks IN HIS NAME—then your labor is not in vain IN THE LORD.  When you go plowing ahead in your own strength you are doomed to failure and all your work is stubble, and you dry up and have no fruit to show.  The Lord prunes the ones who bear fruit so they can produce more fruit, but a fruitless twig means a lifeless twig. These are not my words, but the scripture’s.  If you are not bearing fruit, it has serious consequences.  Enough said.

We all love so much to think of our individuality being evidenced by the fingerprint, and likewise each of us bears the “soul-print” of Jesus.   Even though every leaf on a maple tree, for example, has the identical pattern, but just like the snowflake—no two are exactly the same in every respect! Examined under the microscope these differences are apparent!  Let’s all praise the Lord for this great Truth—we are ONE in the Bond of Love but we retain our spiritual individuality so we never need compare ourselves to anyone else nor our work to that of anyone else.

Every leaf is important to the life of the tree, and the stories of the Lost Coin, and The Prodigal Son are given to illustrate this truth.

I thank the Lord for his LOVE and for the scriptures that have been preserved for us down to this day and age!  From the beginning to the end these great stories bring us assurance that nothing can separate us from His Love!

And I especially love the fact that through a web site I can know that this message of love radiates my thoughts out to the world at large. My mother taught me that we are given “special eyes” and “special ears,” so that we can come closer to God and learn of Him.  I pray that in reading my Valentine greeting to you, your special eyes will allow you to “see” the BIGNESS of God, and “hear” the music of the spheres—the Voice that has gone out to all the earth!  Then that you will respond with me in a glad “hallelujah!” LOVE IS THE REASON FOR IT ALL!

My response to the movie, Saving Mr. Banks

I wrote in my daily journal the following words after seeing the movie.  Quote:

I saw the movie, Saving Mr. Banks.  It was a psychological study in the vein of the effect one’s childhood has on the personality of the adult.  As the great poet William Wordsworth wrote, the child is father of the man[1], and yes, it is a truism that we like to quote and we are the result of many experiences that cause permanent imprints on the spirit.  Only our own Creator God is able to break the old vessel down and recreate it in His own image using those very “broken” pieces to shape the new.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  I love the Lord in His majesty and His great Omnipotence whom I worship in spirit and in truth, but it is His Omnipresence that brings Him in when I open the door and His Omniscience who brings me the food that feeds my soul!   Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me!

End of entry Sun. Jan 12, 2014

Beginning of further comments related to short quote in the above from Wordsworth’s poem, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky!  So was it when my life began; so is it now I am a man, so be it when I shall grow old, or let me die!  The child is father of the man and I could wish my days to be bound each to each with natural piety…

I memorized the little poem mentioned above by Wordsworth when I was in the fifth grade. It has always stayed in my mind—partly because I loved the words, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky,” and mostly because I had to go to Mother for an explanation of the last lines and I wanted to see how it pertained to the rainbow!  I have news for you who have not read my memoirs—and this is it, a child of Missouri Hamrick Johnson never forgot her teachings.

She understood all the deep things of the spirit and being a poet herself she loved all of it and quoted it to us constantly.  When we needed to memorize it, she told us how to express the meaning aloud, showing us where there was punctuation at the end of a line or if none she pointed that out. She showed how to use the voice inflection when reciting to bring out the meaning of words with emotional response in the listener.

I could understand—If he lost his joy in seeing a rainbow, he may as well be dead!  But I could not fathom the next words which say, “And I could wish my days to be bound each to each by natural piety.”  What did that have to do with the rainbow?  Naturally, I would have to talk to Mother about this father of the man bit and the last line.

I asked Mr. Boggs, my teacher, and he said words to this effect—I only recall the essence.

“Now, Maxine, the best thing for you to do is to study it as you commit it to memory.  By the time you have it well in mind the meaning will come to you.”

That did not help any because I didn’t want to memorize and not know the meaning first, and I said that, but he went on with something about how the poet was showing that he had always loved the rainbow and would always love the rainbow as long as he lived and that he wanted us to remember the poem and think of it when we saw another rainbow.

Then I went to Mother and she looked at it for a minute or two and then asked, “Mac, do you remember the first time you ever saw a rainbow?”  I thought a bit and admitted that I did not.  We lived on top of a mountain and we saw plenty of rainbows and the whole family watched them with all of us “oohing” and “ahing” to our hearts content.

She said, “The poet says that his heart leaps up when he sees the rainbow.  Do you understand that?”

“Oh, yes, I understand that.  He means he is thrilled to see a rainbow just like we are.”

She agreed and said, “Then he says the child is father to the man, and do you know what he means by that?”

No, I did not know what that meant.  How could a child be a father?  That’s the question I had about it.

She answered, “You see he starts by saying that his heart leaps up when he sees a rainbow—You see, we always call out, “Come and see the rainbow!  Look!”  and then we remember that it is the Rainbow of Promise!  We remember that the Lord gave it as a sign to Noah after the flood with the promise that He would never again destroy the whole world with water. That’s what the poet is referring to here.  His heart leaps up because he remembers the story from his childhood, and the faith that came with the story he was told as a boy grew right along with him into manhood.

Now, notice, Mac, that he says he felt that way when he was a child and heard the story, and even now that he is a man and hears it, and it will be the same when he is old, he says, “Or let me die!”  You see it’s the story of life to him.  He feels that it is what makes life worth while.  He goes on to say then, that he wants all of his days to be bound together with that same faith of his childhood—He feels that it is so natural and perfect to be able to look at the rainbow and feel the faith well up in his heart and fill him full of joy.

Mac, I want to hear you recite this beautiful poem when you learn it.  I know you will want to remember the real meaning—just how William Wordsworth felt as he wrote it—you see, he simply assumed that anyone reading it would know what he was thinking.  The eternal truth that the rainbow is always a sign of God’s faithfulness, of His wonderful assurance to mankind of His love and protection, of how a person’s life is bound to Him in childhood and still bound  by Him in manhood, and kept by Him in his old age; such assurance is what makes life one long sweet song.  These are the thoughts that this poem brings to us, and it is what makes this poem timeless.

Now I want to say a few things about how this phrase, “the child is father of the man,” which has become a sort of “truism” in the public thought.  Psychologists have brought this to us in their findings and it has become something that everyone takes for granted. The idea has been with us for a couple of centuries at least.   For example, I remember reading something by John Ruskin, a nineteenth century art critic and author. He lectured at both Oxford and Cambridge, being a writer on social problems as well as art.

As I thought on this movie which portrays the effect of childhood experiences on the personality of an author, I remembered where I had read John Ruskin’s ideas.  It is a one-page piece written by him in a book I own, The Joy of Words,  published by J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, and is a collection of writings by famous authors.  It was published in 1960.

In this one, We Carve Our Destiny Early, he says you don’t start the human brain to working at age twenty-five, but that every hour preceding that age it is working and that not a moment of it can ever be done again, or the neglected blow struck with a cold iron. This the concluding sentence of his little treatise on carving the destiny of the individual:

“Take your vase of Venice glass out of the furnace, and strew chaff over it in its transparent heat and recover that  to its clearness and rubied glory when the north wind has blown upon it; but do not think to strew chaff over the child fresh from God’s presence, and to bring the heavenly colors back to him—at least, in this world. (This ties in with the words from one of Byron’s poems, “All when life is new commence with feelings warm and prospects high; But time strips our illusions of their hue, and one by one in turn some grand mistake casts off its bright skin yearly, like the snake.)[2]

This is the view that fails to take into account the fact that in God’s great mercy and love He provides for regeneration!  Conversion means metamorphosis—the butterfly bears no resemblance to a caterpillar—the change is complete!  Where did the wings come from?  Where all the gorgeous colors? The Bible teaches, the person who is “converted” is changed totally and is a “new creation.”  He has eternal life the moment he is converted. This means all the chaff is blown away!  Buried in the sea of God’s forgetfulness!

Therefore, it is not true, as Mr. Ruskin holds, that no changes are possible, for God made us in his own image and He did not throw away the mold when Eve and Adam broke the vessel in the garden.  We inherited a flawed nature, but God fixed Himself a way to restore it to its condition before the Fall.

This wonderful change happens on the inside of the human being so that to people  viewing the person he seems the same person! Just looking at the new convert there is no way for the worldly person to know that because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, God is now able to send His Holy Spirit to take up permanent residence in the spirit of the convert. This change is immediate and the thing that is most noticeable is the difference in attitude.

Here I will remind the reader of a scene in the old movie, Sergeant York, if you have seen it.  His horse was struck by lightning in a storm and it frightened York and filled him with awe that his own life was spared.  The little church was nearby and the congregation was singing as he found his way into the church and went right down the aisle to the front where he was converted.  Before that the story showed that he had worked so hard night and day and little by little had saved enough to buy a piece of “bottom land.” The man who owned it promised that he would not sell it until a certain date which would give him the time to earn the money for it, but he broke his promise and sold it to another man, just as York was getting ready to buy it.

After York’s conversion he approached that man in a spirit of forgiveness, but the man had a guilty conscience and he was scared to death of York at first, but York managed to convince him that he was now a different person, and did not want to harm him in any way.  The movie then showed how the man and York were reconciled and a whole new relationship was then possible.

The change in attitude produces other changes and they take place in the life and personality of the person as time goes on. The changes begin to actually bring about a difference in the way that person looks, physically, but this is a gradual change as the person grows in Christ. God places that person on a pathway of peace and goodwill toward others and makes him more attractive to people. That is why the Christian funeral is not filled with hopeless grief, for we know that we have another type of body waiting for us where Jesus has preceded us and fixed us a place to reside.

It is true that even with years of psychoanalysis it has proved impossible to erase the effects of early conditioning, drug and alcohol addiction, etc. or change human personality, nothing is impossible for God to do, just as the angel Gabriel said to Mary at the time of the Annunciation.  The human being is His crowning creation. Since we were made in His Image, it was His intention that we share in His Divine Nature, and with the Fall that nature was withdrawn, however, in Christ, it is returned to us. (2 Peter 1:4)


[1] William Wordsworth,  Apr.1770-Apr.1850

[2] I remembered this from high school English, but unable to cite the source.  I located this on internet, but I was unable to read the exact title of the larger work that it is taken from.  Google the words “casts off its bright skin yearly” and you will find it.

Christmas Letter 2011-2012

The Storyteller’s Trip Down Memory’s Lane

 Written after Christmas a couple of years ago.  I have been at my computer working hard to finish the memoirs while the Lord spared me.  I HAVE NOW PUBLISHED MY MEMOIRS, AND THE TITLE IS “Under the Gooseberry Bush”  Many memories of Christmas are shown in it and I believe since I did not place it in the website then, I should add it.  It will mean much to my storytelling friends for it was written in the after-glow of a beautiful family Christmas with all my children and grandchildren together again by the mercies of God, the Father. I am now revising it, and still leaving all the storyteller’s thoughts to cheer the hearts of my storytelling friends and, of course, my dear family and other friends who like to remember me as a storyteller.

Tradition tells the story of the first crèche as it was created by St. Francis of Assisi, posed by live animals as well as by church lay people.  That wonderful reenactment has given birth to beautiful works of art as well as the humbler ones that portray the nativity.

The first Christmas after Frank and I were married, I went to Woolworth’s Five and Dime store and bought the little figurines and placed them under our small tree…  We used them every Christmas, and because they were pre-war, they have become highly collectible through the years.  With each Christmas we came to treasure them more and put them away with care.

Through the years as we told the story, we used the little figurines to help the children to visualize the scene in the stable at Bethlehem.  My niece traveled to Israel and brought a gift of the nativity set carved in olive wood.  One Christmas when my first grandchild was visiting, his mother told him the story allowing him to hold each piece as she told about it.  He was only two, but he came running to me holding the little baby figure, and in a plaintive voice crooned, “No woom, no woom!”  He loved the story and held on to all those pieces long after Christmas. I gave the little olive wood set to him, and the collectible set to his mother to keep in the family.

In my Christmas story sessions with children I love to tell the story from the biblical account told in the Bible.  I have the little characters of the crèche in my story apron pockets.  I pull them out one at a time, to place them on a nearby table.  The children are always so happy to see them as they appear and I let them help tell the story as they recognize each of them.  Many times one of them will want me to show the crude stable.  To that I reply, “Yes! Our dear Lord was born in a stable, where the animals were kept.  I did not have pockets big enough, but we can use our special eyes and imagine that we have it here.”  Then I have the autoharp at hand, and I strum it at once.  This is the time to begin singing the song of theFriendly Beasts.  Young children learn through concepts and these concepts are pictures that the storyteller paints on the mind.  I use this song to help the children to “see” with the heart, and the mind will follow—first the corn and then the ear, as Jesus taught.

Jesus, our brother, kind and good,

                Was humbly born in a stable rude,

                And the friendly beasts around him stood,

                Jesus our brother, kind and good

                I, said the donkey, all shaggy and brown,

                I carried Mary up hill and down,

                I carried her safely to Bethlehem town,

                I, said the donkey, all shaggy and brown.

               I, said the cow, all white and red,

                I gave my manger to make his bed,

                I gave my hay to pillow his head,

                I, said the cow, all white and red.

                I, said the sheep, with the curly horn,

                I gave my wool to keep him warm,

                He wore my blanket on Christmas morn,

                I, said the sheep with the curly horn.

                 I, said the dove, on the rafter high,

                I cooed him to sleep so he would not cry,

                We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I,

                I, said the dove on the rafter high.

                Each friendly beast did love to tell

                Of the gift he gave Immanuel,

                Of the gift he gave Immanuel.[1]

As I softly sing that last verse I encourage them to sing along with me.  By that time they have learned the melody and the words are repeated which makes it easy for them to sing.  Many times they will beg, “Sing it again.”   When that happens, I sing the words slowly and let them sing along.  They learn it readily.

I have many such memories of the children’s response to the story.  They are like a string of pearls as I recount each one.  You see, I taught the preschool children for twenty-five years and I have all those years of going out to Christian nursery schools, churches and private homes when invited.
For at least ten years when I lived in Richmond, Virginia, I was invited to tell the Christmas story for the entire church program at St. John’s.  Then for several years at various  churches in Richmond I was invited to bring the Christmas program. Many departments of the Sunday schools in our churches would have their special celebration times in the evenings.  This meant that my December calendar was full.  Yet I must say that for many years I was able to schedule all of these Christian-community sessions without neglecting a single invitation from my own church which usually included several Sunday school class parties and the deacon’s banquet.  At the same time, remember, I was in the chancel choir, with all that entails in the Christmas season.

I can truthfully say that I never approached any task for the Lord in my own strength!  I called on Him in every phase of preparation and performance.  Therefore, my Christmas memories of storytelling are all beautiful, for nothing marred the happy times we had at home!  In all of those activities, there was always Christmas at home, with all the trimmings!  Frank and I were always filled with the Christmas Spirit and nothing was omitted in carrying out all of the traditional Christmas celebration at home!   Any parent reading this can easily enumerate all that goes into making that statement.  I tell this to boast about Jesus, to sing his praises, for without Him it would have been impossible, but with Him, I prayed and asked for wisdom in scheduling so that no one would be disappointed, and everyone who wanted my special version of the story would receive it.  When I was invited to have the Christmas program I told a beautiful Christmas story, such as The Little Juggler of Notre Dame, or The Christmas Apple.  I might tell one of my own stories such as when I visited my sister’s school in the mountains, Christmas at Adair.  Maybe then I   would play and sing the very old English carol, “Cherry Tree Carol,” or something else that I felt suitable.  I always included poetry or music in my programs.

Sometimes I concluded the Christmas program with the story as we have learned it, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”  I actually prefer the Philip’s version for telling and I practice diligently until my voice gives the words a “telling tone,” and I might insert a word or two to give it that sound.

It is a joy to tell the story then, for he supplies new zest.  In this way, I can be assured that I give my audiences the Christmas story as I experience it.  I am allowed through Christ to go boldly before the throne of Grace and ask the Lord for assistance.  I want to proclaim God’s own words with humility, and I hope every inflection that my voice carries, will impress the spirit of the listener to sing with me, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

I know this will “be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I sincerely praise and thank the Lord for every memory, of all my storytelling times at museums, schools, parks, churches, and innumerable private sessions at homes for various occasions. I especially love to remember my years of work with preschool children in Sunday school. And the church nursery school in the church library.    It is, however, always the Christmas memories that I treasure most.  These carry me all the way back to infancy and go with me all the way from 1922, age three, to the present.

This time of remembering is very special to me because as I write it I am thinking of my children, my grandchildren, my nieces and nephews, their children; all my “Greats” I call them. I see in front of me all the ones who have taken my classes.  There are those who have chosen to devote themselves to Jesus in this particular mode of service and worship.  I have it in my mind and heart to hope for one of my own family to decide to follow the gleam.  In my experience it is a way that lends itself to close fellowship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit—it is a definite way.

A favorite saying of the Jewish teachers is, “God loves a storyteller, that is why he made man!”  I love to remind persons in my classes that God is the greatest storyteller of all, since he couched his entire word to us in narrative form, and then when he appeared in role of “Rabbi,” or “Teacher,” he used storytelling exclusively.  We should need no other reasons to want to develop this skill which is a “people trait.”  Just as we learn the language, to speak it, to write it, we can use these words to touch the heart.  Through the emotions portrayed by the voice and body language the storyteller “stirs the slumbering chords,” and the deaf can hear, or the blind can see!  There is more to the Christmas tree than just the needles and the fragrance of pine! Hallelujah!

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree!

How green your leaves!  How faithful!

Not only in the summer time,

But in the winter’s snowy rime.

Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree!

How green your leaves, how faithful.

(I added my own verse to this tune and sing it out with joy!)

Oh Christmas time, Oh, Christmas time,

How I love your story!

It tells me of my Savior’s love,

And angels sang it from above,

Oh Christmas time, Oh, Christmas time,

How I love your story!

Maxine Johnson Bersch-Lovern.

January 5, 2011

December 2011

P.S.  Yes, the Lord did spare me to go to Ridgecrest in March.  I performed “Queen Esther” in costume on the stage for the opening assembly, and those famous words of the story were made the theme of the entire session of librarians.  “Who knows but that you were placed here for such a time as this”.  That was March, 2011. (Now, Dec. 2013, I am doing this revision, but I am leaving these lines in for it shows how the Ephesians 3:20 is true in my life! Absolutely!  I forget if I mailed this out to all of you, and if I did, at least those who read the website and are not on the mailing list can see the wonders of God and give Him praise!)

While I was doing all of that, I had facial surgery pending, for they allowed me to go and have this great experience before undergoing treatment for skin cancer.  The Lord saw me through that ordeal, and I healed sufficiently to be able to go to Phoenix in May for my granddaughter Lynwood’s graduation, and then I stayed for my grandson’s wedding in June and for the family celebration of the Glorious Fourth!  While there, I attended her church and was invited to tell stories for the third grade and the preschool children during VacationBibleSchool.  What a joy!  I borrowed an autoharp from North Phoenix Baptist and tuned it.  It had not been used in at least five years, the music secretary told me, so I said,” Never fear!  If it has all of its strings, I can tune it!”  So I did, but that took several hours Thank goodness for Lynwood’s guitar tuner.  That’s what did the trick.  Wow!  It was totally off, and when they get to that point it is a tedious, time consuming task to finally get it sounding right, but I ran my chords over and over and finally, FINALLY, it sounded beautiful.  The teachers at Pat’s church really loved it.

I returned to my home in Garland, Texas, on July 6th and resumed my work on my memoirs.   In August my daughter Pat and her husband, Brad, came for a visit!  How great!  At that time, my friends in Timpson, Texas, Judy and Shannon, began renewing their invitation to visit them.   Our plans were interrupted by my bout with gall bladder surgery!  This required two weeks of hospitalization and then rehab on outside. The good Lord again gave me his protection and healing!   We finally found a suitable date and I visited them for two weeks.  While I was there I visited their church and performed the monologue,Queen Esther, for the congregation of FirstBaptistChurch of Timpson.  They took me on several memorable side trips.  One such place was the marker that is still standing; on one side it shows U.S. and the other side says, R.T. , meaning, Republic ofTexas!

Thank the good Lord for Frank, who loves to take me anywhere I need or wish to go!   He attends the ArlingtonStorytellers League with me, and the storytelling trip that I took in August . I forgot to mention that up there, but I was invited to do storytelling for my friend who is librarian at First Baptist, Euless, TX.  She was winding up her summer reading program.  She had invited me to share in celebrating her new library, but I had too many things on my plate, so we took that special time and it was great.  I had a mixed age group which included the parents!  Frank enjoys these activities right along with me, for you see, his undergraduate degree is in Theatre, which allows him double appreciation for my ministry.  We have great rapport in that way.

I will be leaving on the 13th of December  for Phoenix where I will stay for a couple of months as I do every year.  Frank will come over for ten days or so but I go early and stay late!

This is the news for the year of 2011, just lacking one month!  Then on the 23rd of January, I will have my 93rdbirthday, and will celebrate it at Pat’s home.  Since Lynwood goes to college at Tucson, it is two hours away, so she may be able to arrange her time to come over for that celebration!  If not, we’ll talk on the phone!  The Lord is good!  His mercy is everlasting!  Because of his wonderful grace to us, all the contents of this letter are testimonies to spread abroad the story of how He shows his great love and to offer praise to Him for all of His blessings!

Now I see that the year of 2012 has passed and the year 2013 is winding down  Again, in August, I traveled to N.C. and taught at Ridgecrest, introduced my book, as one of the authors being honored, we were each given a room and four 20 minute periods to meet with those who were interested in my soon to be released book, Under the Gooseberry Bush.  In that way I had time to tell them several of the stories in the book, and embellish them as only the telling can do.  Then I traveled back and visited family and friends in Maryland and Virginia before returning to Texas.

The book is now released and has gone out to many of the family and friends.  I do hope this revision of my storyteller’s Christmas memories will not be a disappointment, for to tell you the truth, I believe that the book should be your Christmas letter for this year and if the Lord allows me another year, I hope in April to go to Eagle Eyrie and teach storytelling and tell for the 55th anniversary of the Virginia Church Librarian’s Association.  Then I hope to spend Easter with my family inVirginia and then return home to get ready for my two  granddaughter’s graduation celebrations for their respective colleges.  I am looking forward to that!

Now I have to go and make some figgy pudding and get ready for Christmas, 2013.  My daughter, Pat and her husband, Brad, will be arriving this evening.  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!



[1] If you do not know the melody of this ancient song, you can type in on Google, “hear the song, Friendly Beasts.” And a number of links will be shown that will have the words with the actual singing of the tune.  Some people have added words to the verses, such as “camels” etc. but the words that I have shown above are the ones I learned many years ago..

Christmas letter 2011-2013

Dreamy Christmas

 

‘Tis the season to be jolly

And we say the words to mean

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly

Berries red, and wreaths of green.”

We remember with affection

Family treasures kept in store,,

Arrange them now in mute perfection,

Some on mantel; some on floor..

Place the tree in stand and view it!

Turn it, check it, every twig

Must we snip that one or leave it?,

Is the tree too small? Too big?

Now the vow in words emphatic,

There’s no time to waste or stay,

On the steps now to the attic,

Hurry now without delay!

There awaits the joyful pleasure–

Of arranging loads of trim!

Lights are strung in endless measure!

Yielding to tradition’s whim

Every ornament is now hung.

Children stand with misty eyes,

Carols hummed and carols sung

Christmas dreams in spirits rise.

Gifts each hold its own addition

To the memory’s book of gold.

Now the children all petition

For the Christmas story old—

“Shepherds on that night abiding

In the field to watch their sheep,

Angels came to bring them tidings

Of great joy!  It would not keep!

Tell it on the mountains yonder,

Echos sound–A Son is born!

‘Tis received in awe and wonder!

Now it is glad Christmas morn!

Make it jolly!  Merrily sing!

Fry the oysters, make the stew!

Fix ham biscuits, they’re the thing!

Coffee cake is yummy, too!

Pour the coffee, pass the cream

Smiles light up each happy face!

Christmas morning! Christmas dream!

Bow the head now! Say the grace!

Maxine J. Bersch-Lovern

The Magic of the Storyteller

You just can’t imagine how wonderful it was for me at age 94 to go back to our Southern Baptist Conference center at Ridgecrest, North Carolina and teach two workshops in Storytelling.

It would seem that after many years of delving into the matter—that is the teaching of such a subject—that a teacher would exhaust every possible angle, but that is not so!  Not so at all!  I had been doing storytelling workshops for several years on the local and regional levels before I began on the state and national.

Along about 1975 or ’76, I forget which, I became the church librarian at my local church, and I was asked to do a workshop for the church librarians at our state conference center. At that meeting I became acquainted with those from Nashville who taught the church librarians throughout the Southern Baptist Convention  about classifying, cataloging, book repair, promotion and the like. Through that avenue I began doing the workshops for the national conferences and going out to state conventions, then to associations and churches. None of these opportunities would have been open to me if I had not consented when the pastor called and asked me to serve as church librarian in our church.  The Lord promises to “come in and sup” with the person who opens the door to His knocking.

How can story telling be taught?  The particular type of teller that I am began in earliest childhood, for I grew up in a family of storytellers, poets and musicians. However, there are many great storytellers abroad who never had that, and still they have grown to love storytelling. They devote themselves to acquiring and perfecting  the skill.   Now, no matter the age or stage of the listener, the story that is told will bear the imprint of the person telling it! The story comes out of the storehouse of experiences, or hopes, or dreams, things read, heard or imagined, and will bear the imprint of the teller.  Whatever is “heard” is carried on the wings of the spirit and finds its way into the heart and mind in a way that the Lord provided!

The spirit of the teller is always inspired when the story is picked up off the page and told!  In its written form it is lying there asleep and the teller gives it the kiss that awakens it to life!  That’s the story of, that’s the glory of storytelling–God-given heart language is used.. I’ll give an example that will cause every teller reading this to nod assent

I have a beautiful story by Clementine Paddleford which she has given the title, A Flower for My Mother.  Of course, in it Maxine uses the names of the roses planted and adds the names of some of the flowers planted because the story was so much my own that I could not resist putting a little bit of Maxine’s mother in it, and the location was actually Rose Hill, which was Maxine’s home place. Otherwise it is told verbatim except for making it an oral telling instead of a written one.  I love to tell this story for Mother’s Day, and for Mother and Daughter banquets, and sometimes for senior citizen programs, and the like.

I hardly ever introduce a story.  I just go right on into it and trust the audience to understand that it is a story.  However, this story is so convincing because of its content, I find it necessary to begin by telling the author and the title and how similar it is to my own background, and how I love telling it because it could well be my own.  I do that because people keep on insisting that it is MY story!   It is just as if I never said the words at all!  Nevertheless, I am glad that I said them!  When I finish the story, without fail, EVERY TIME I hear, “Oh, your mother was exactly like mine!  I could have told that story as if it were mine!”

Of course, as I told the story I imagined myself on our big front porch facing the garden and the barn in the distance, with the fence palings running right beside the road from the orchard to the barn, and I pictured in my mind, “What if Dad had decided to make a pig run along that garden fence?”

When I was actively teaching on the national level, there were church librarians or other church leaders who attended my workshops year after year.  They were not there to learn the basics.

Why does one want to be a storyteller.  We are going to discover some things about ourselves in this analysis because there is something spiritual at work in the mind and heart of the one who deliberately chooses this way of striking a responsive chord in the mind of another person.  “The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above!” Yes! We all know that verse, and the reality of it is what brings us so much joy!  It takes one to know one, is another old saying.  We just love to hear again the really good reasons why we want to keep right on telling stories!  We want to be revitalized in our enthusiasm for the task, for it is not like falling off a log to choose a story to tell, retell it in oral style, learn it backward and forward and down the middle, and then go tell it!  The workshop is going to give us new insights into all the reasons under Heaven that we choose to adopt this as the way we will spend our lives in ministry.

It’s somewhat comparable to the Sunday sermon that we love to hear again and again, and the more emphatically the preacher tells it, the more thrilled we are to hear it!  We leave the church with our spirits revived !  Now we can put the sixth chapter of Ephesians into effect.

However, we go back to what is the primary motive of telling. You see, there are as many reasons as there are tellers. Pursuit of the subject leads into the fathomless depths of human personality.  That will take us into the mind, the emotions, down the spiritual avenues.  We want to know what Jesus meant when he said, “He that has an ear to hear.”

How do we know what effect a particular story will have?  You see, as we read, we must read with our physical eyes and minds, and allow the Holy Spirit to enter into the final choice, for He will have His say, I assure you!  That’s how you will be led in the choice of folk or fairy tale to tell the one that brings joy and “tell it again!”  There are always the phrases that are inserted without even thinking about it—the Lord will see to that, for certain.

This explains just a fraction of why I am renewed at the thought of sharing the vision with church librarians. There are story hours in church libraries all over the Southern Baptist Convention, and those who are new to the work will be learning it          Some of the heavenly rewards that I have been given while still on planet earth, are letters received from students when I visited the schools..  Some that I saved and posted on the wall where I worked said, “When I grow up I want to be just like you!  I want to have an instrument and go about telling wonderful stories and singing beautiful songs to children everywhere.”

I love it when they make their pictures to illustrate the story they liked best!  In that way I see the images formed by my words!  Then they make little balloons and write captions in them!  I like the chuckles they bring to my mind.

The Jewish people have a saying that the Lord loves a storyteller and that’s why He made people!  Wow!  Yes, that is a beautiful way of praising the Lord for the mind and spirit, for words and thoughts to express feelings, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We must never forget that God loves a storyteller and I could say “that’s why he made people in His own image!”  That’s the way I like to say it, because I like to say that the ability to tell is innate. Think about it!  We just have an urge to tell something that we know is a great something to tell!

Once there was a miller was caught listening in on a conversation of some magicians that was none of his business, so to cure him of it, one of them said, “Abrakadab!” and made a pair of donkey ears spring up on each side of his head!  He was horrified and he found a big hat and started wearing it all the time to cover those big ears.  Well one day he was carrying a big load of something and both hands were occupied when a big wind came and blew his hat off!

He dropped his load and went running like mad to catch up with his hat and get it on.  When he started to put it on he looked right and left quickly to see if anyone saw it and sure enough the local barber was looking and saw it and started laughing uproariously!  The miller approached the man and said, “What are you laughing about, you idiot?  You better keep quiet. If you tell a soul  I will find you and cut your tongue out. Now, don’t forget what I say, and keep your mouth shut.”

Then the man promised but he was the local barber and every time he started cutting a man’s hair, he wanted to tell the story and this craving to tell this funny story just kept him awake at night.  He had to tell someone!  But every time he was tempted to tell it he remembered what the miller said and he couldn’t tell it.  So one day he went away out in the deepest forest where no one had ever gone before and he dug a deep hole there.  Then he got down on his knees beside that hole and shouted it loudly—“The miller has the ears of a donkey.”  Then he proceeded to shovel the dirt back in and fill up the hole so that the secret was buried deep in the ground, and he thought he had no more desire to tell it, but the story would not stay buried.  He still had to tell it . So he said to a customer one day,

“Is it true that the walls have ears as we have heard it said?”

“Yes, indeed,” the man answered quickly.  “It is true that walls have ears! Be careful what you say because the walls have ears!”

That satisfied the barber.  He went home and went up in his attic and whispered, “The miller has the ears of a donkey,” and in that way he no longer felt compelled to tell the secret.

However, the miller went to the magician and said, “If you take this curse away I will give you a hundred pieces of gold.”  The magician said, “Just this once I will do the thing you wish, but if I ever find you listening in on my conversations again I will cause your head to be a donkey’s head and that way you will not be able to cover it up.”  The miller promised to never do that again and the magician took the money and removed the donkey ears from him.

Then he went into the barber shop, climbed up in the chair and said, “Shave and a haircut!”  The barber was shaking like a leaf.  He removed the miller’s hat and saw that there were no donkey’s ears there at all!  So he cut his hair and shaved him and said, “No charge.”  The miller put his hat on and said, “Remember what I told you when the wind blew my hat off that day?”

“Oh, yes!  I remember,” the barber said.

“Well, now, if you should happen to see that happen again and if I see you laughing , I will cause donkey’s ears to grow on your head.  Do you understand?”

“Oh,yes!  I understand.  I will not laugh.  I promise!”

Now how do you suppose we learned this story?  Somebody had to tell!

The Christian Woman of Today

        Of course, we honor all honorable men who by chance are reading this blog which is written by a woman.   I assure you it is meant for the men folks as well.  I remind you at this point that I had a father, and I also married a MAN who became the father of our two sons, as well as our daughter!  Therefore, I must say that I am All for Fathers!  Yes, indeed!  Hurrah for Fathers! May their tribe increase!  I speak of those who are married to the mother of their children and who love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it!  Amen!  Absolutely!  Otherwise, go crawl in a hole and throw chunks at yourself.

My remarks are based on ninety four years of living life.  I had brothers and a father. I think that does allow me to make certain statements from the standpoint of experience concerning character traits.. It is getting close to my mother’s birthday which is September 13, and I am writing this in memory of Mother.   I wrote this several years ago, and rewrote it a few months ago, and now I am rewriting it because I recently returned from visiting with some of Mother’s grandchildren and great grands, and even great, greats.

These dear ones all show the Christian character that she portrayed.  I found myself thinking again  and again how glad she will be when we all gather around her in heaven and she sees each beautiful or handsome face. While there I visited Irene’s two daughters and their families, and Josephine’s two daughters and their families, and one of her sons’ surviving wife and one of his sons and family, and two of his daughters and their families.  All of adult family members that I visited are Christians, and are bringing their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Some of the children who have reached the age of accountability are now Christians.  This proves the promise of God that He visits goodness and mercy to thousands of generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

The scriptures speak clearly about the values we hold as Christians.

I base my comments on Proverbs 31:10-31, because anytime you talk about Christian womanhood you get the reference to that portion of scripture–the famous ABCs of the perfect wife.  The reader many times emphasizes the question, “Who can FIND a virtuous woman?” The reader is often a man in the pulpit.

Notice as soon as King Lemuel asks the question, “who can find such a person,” then he begins to enumerate her qualities. Well, glory be! He must have found her.   The Amplified Bible shows the verse this way:  Who is the man who can find her?  That certainly does shed light on this passage of scripture.  “Who is the man–aha! That is the question!  Who?  It’s not like there is no such person, as many people like to infer, but who is the man who can find her?  That is the question.

It is obvious that Lemuel found her and knew all of her great qualities.  We know he had such a mother because the chapter starts with her admonitions to him.  Perhaps he also had sisters, and then no doubt he had this wonderful wife that he describes from A to Z.

The comparison to rare jewels is actually the clue to what is meant by the words, “who can find?”  Naturally, we pay dearly for a rare gem–but jewelry stores all over the world exist because they have been mined and now they can be had–for a price, of course!  The writer pays tribute to the women he has known who are like that.

NIV says, “A wife of noble character who can find?”  He thinks how splendid it is that God made them. It would be like the pearl of great price.  This person has great characteristics that are unmatchable. It is not that such women are scarce, but when he asks, who can find, he is saying, what man is willing to pay the price necessary for intimacy with such a person? That’s where the water hits the wheel. How many husbands love the wife as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it?

It is my belief that there are literally millions of wives who answer the description as given in these verses but she hides herself in Christ and it takes a special man to find her for her price is far above rubies. She requires nothing less than a love comparable to that of Jesus Christ for the church—and the Amplified Bible has it right, who is the man who can find her?

A good wife complements her husband. He’s proud of her and it’s a constant delight to him to discover new and beautiful facets of her personality blazing forth from hidden depths.

So whatever salary he brings she makes it cover all the things needed for the home.  She’s worth her weight in gold! You can believe it! When it comes to marketing, she watches the paper, cuts out the coupons, and she’s going where they give double value.  She “brings her food from afar” as it says there in verse fourteen.

She’s up at the crack of dawn packing lunches, getting breakfast, doing the paper route for  her son if he happens to be under the weather, she’s taking the children to school, she’s rushing back home to make beds, vacuum, plan meals, take up bulbs and get the garden ready for winter. She takes the time to read her Bible and devotional materials; to write her thoughts and prayers.

I am writing here from the vantage point of the stay-at-home mother.  They refer to her as the woman who “does not work.” That always reminds me of the old folk tale of the man who thought that and traded jobs with his wife.  Oh, fine!  She marched right out to the barn, harnessed the horse and went to the field, plowed all morning, and came back to the house for dinner.  My goodness!  The house was a shambles, all the ale had poured out on the cellar floor, and the pig had turned over the churn –the dog was lapping up the buttermilk and the man was out of his mind!  He was SO glad to get back to his simple job of plowing a straight furrow, and he never suggested trading jobs any more!  What’s more, from then on he treated her with respect.  After that he was careful to remove his dirty boots before tramping in on the newly mopped floor!

The American public has swallowed the satanic lie that the woman at home does not work!”  The Christian woman “works” but hers is a labor of love and therefore is not hay and stubble. It will not perish.  She is doing her work “as unto the Lord!”

One thing most wives would fail in though, and that’s the verse that says she serves breakfast to her maidens and assigns them their work. No, most wives will flunk that part of the test; they don’t serve any meat to maidens. They don’t have any maidens to fetch and carry for them. Far from having servants, they’re busy being servants. They paint their houses, paper the walls, sand and wax floors, clean windows, move furniture, cover furniture, and a great number of them do all these things in addition to going to work outside the home to work and make money to help feed and clothe the family, or to send them to college. Some of them might consider a piece of land and buy it as an investment for old age.   Some make curtains by hand out of sheets to pay off second mortgages that are necessary to buy a home in a good location for the children’s schools.  Some of them do all of this hard work and still home school their children since many of the public schools are the cold frames where the seeds of anarchy are sown, and then transplanted over to the colleges where the job is completed.  For proof of that look at what happened this past year to our public parks where the college young people “demonstrated.” Was that a decent, peaceful demonstration?  The answer is a matter of public record so I do not need to use space to tell of it.

The heart of the Christian woman is trustworthy. Her husband has no lack of gain, it says in verse eleven.  Well, he found her, didn’t he?  In that case he is special! He is the love of her life.  She is the love of his life!  He gets up in the morning early, showers, shaves, dresses, has his devotions, eats breakfast and goes to work. The Christian husband works hard all day and then he comes home ready to relax and get ready for another day   He has to be brave and fight the dragons.  He may put the dishes in the dishwasher after dinner, but let’s give him a snooze there on the sofa.  She goes about as quietly as possible seeing that goodnight stories read or told, conversations are over and prayers are said.

After all trips to the bathroom are taken and the drinks of water quaffed, she will join him.  Then that special kind of man who “found” her will make the  evening hours a time for recreation and renewal for both of them.   The Christian wife’s labors are over for the day and she is ready for fun! She wants some stimulating conversation!  She does not want to hear that dull, boring, How was your day for Pete’s sake! This is not a time to stay buried in the paper or TEEVEE!   This rare jewel will never let that happen!   And that special one who found her knows her worth and devotes this time to her happiness since he knows he lacks the thousand tongues it would take to tell of all her attributes.

As for girding up the loins, she does not lack for exercise, I guarantee that. And about making her arm strong, she doesn’t have any problem there, either,  because she lifts the baby a thousand times a day,  stretches up to change the light bulbs, and does a multitude of tasks that keep the arms strong and even after they are grown and there are grandchildren she is still exercising the arms.  I am quite certain I am not the only grandma who would rather play with grandchildren than eat. This is what grandparents do best.

Oh, I love verse 18.  It says in today’s vernacular she has been making needlepoint or cross stitch, or maybe she does dried arrangements. At any rate she sits up half the night doing these extra projects to bring in some Christmas money. Her lamp does not go out at night–that’s right! She’s burning the midnight oil I promise you if she’s a good wife. Every good wife makes straight A s on that part.

Now verse 20 says she opens her hands to the poor and stretches out her hands to the needy. The WMU brings in millions. It was the women of the church who started the Lottie Moon Christmas offering and brought it into millions before the “men” of the denomination  claimed it for themselves. Ha. The women still keep it going.

The women of the church are the ones who take the food and clothes and all kinds of school supplies to the mission centers regularly and fill up baskets for the needy. A certain dear friend, the mother of six daughters, and a ‘stay-at-home-mom’ was of necessity an expert seamstress.  After her children were all in school she began going to our Baptist Mission Centers in the blighted areas of Richmond.  There she taught sewing, and fancy needlework to the dear women who came to learn!  She continued that for more than twenty five years, long past her senior years.   Her children’s clothes and her own were “handmade” quality, for she knew all the ways to make a fine garment.

I know another one who went faithfully every week to one of the five centers and told stories to the children.  Some of the mothers or caregivers who brought the children could have gone to another activity but discovered the fantastic world of literature and stayed on with their children.  They begged for repeats just like the children so she did workshops for them and taught them the skills of telling.  She did workshops for Foster Grandparents for many years.

Another friend of mine was an expert in home economics and she spent many hours teaching the women how to have nutritious and delicious meals on a shoestring.

Now verses twenty-one, twenty-two and twenty-three have to do with the way a woman will go shopping and buy good winter or summer clothes when the clearance sales are on.  And then she’s not “afraid of snow or winter” because she has been going back to watch the price tag.  When she sees it still hanging there on the rack priced down to a fraction of the original she purchases it and clothes her family in the best.

Then we see in verse twenty-four that in spite of all her efforts, inflation is eating away at the dollar, and it is necessary for her to use the sewing skills she has acquired to make clothes for sale. Now she makes those handmade linen belts and jackets and sells them to dress shops.

That was the same friend that I spoke of above who was left a widow while she still had girls in school. She supported herself and her girls in that way and took in sewing.

Tell me about stretching forth the hand to the needy!  My dear friend is in heaven now, but  thank the good Lord she rests from her labors.  How wonderful for her when she stands before Jesus to receive her rewards and hears His “Well done, good and faithful one!” She taught Sunday School in the Church nursery all of those years and sang in the Chancel Choir for at least forty years.  She kept her home immaculate and had the prettiest yard in the neighborhood.

Her daughters were all accomplished in music, played the instruments, sang in the choir, married and gave her grandchildren for her old age.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity and can laugh at things to come.”  Well, I know loads of women who fit that description.  Well, that business of laughing at things to come, now, I’m not sure about that because in spite of all the Christian women in America, we have not had the controlling voice in politics or in the pulpits of America and we allowed the wolf to get into our schools and eat up the lambs.

Who would dare say that they can laugh at things to come?  The only thing we Christian women can truly  rejoice in is that the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.  While the devil is roaring around over the globe seeking whom he may devour, while wars and rumors of wars are all around us, and even if the mountains fall into the sea, we have no cause for fear because He is sure to have the last word in the matter. While he tarries His coming, we can be glad and rejoice for the time he is allowing us to bring more people on to the Ark!  Instead of water—He promised it will not be that the next time but fire!  And St. Peter tells us in his words to us that the elements will melt with a fervent heat!  And seeing that is the case, he warns us to be ready for that DAY will come as a thief in the night—no one knows the day or the hour!

Verse twenty-six says that she “speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” I have written of my friend, but I know of no Christian woman who is not willing to teach a Sunday School class, or teach other women the fine points of being a Christian woman. She might throw in skills such as how to knit, sew or make quilts.  Her first priority is her home and children.  She takes the time to instruct her children. She worships the Lord in the beauty of holiness and does not take his name in vain—If you think that uttering profanity is the only way to do that, you need to rethink what it means to be a Christian woman.  Taking His Name in vain is to claim to be a Christian and not bear fruit for Him.  He tells us there that the Father is the husbandman and goes about with the pruning shears, snipping off those branches that are fruitless.  I don’t want to be snipped off!  I want to bear fruit!  I use the computer as a way of bearing fruit for Him!  I use my tongue at every open door the Lord provides.

I know one Christian woman who worked on the bookmobile for the public library, told stories on a volunteer basis for museums, nursing homes, and other functions at night, and other spare moments,  sang in the shaped-note singing group, went regularly to Virginia Home for the Infirm and won the Virginia annual award for hours spent in volunteerism. That was after her children were grown and married.  Her husband was retired and he went with her in many of her pursuits. She also went to college part of the time and received a degree, then headed up the bookmobile work!  She was a joy to everyone and her devotion to the Lord was an inspiration.

All Christian women go about giving themselves away as the Lord has gifted them.

The Christian woman who has made her life a living sacrifice for God and family, can expect such remarks from the people of the world as were recently made about Mrs. Romney who, by all accounts of those who know her, has been the epitome of a loving wife and mother.  The national news carried the poisoned insult that one feminist spewed, “She has never worked a day in her life.”  Proverbs 15:2 Amp.Bible says: “The tongue of the wise utters knowledge rightly, but the mouth of the [self confident] fool pours out folly.”

When I heard that woman saying that I thought immediately of that verse, and went right  then to the concordance and located it.  Now I have it safely hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against God in failing to utter knowledge rightly. I can do that through Christ who strengthens  me.

Well, thank God that He judges justly.  The greatest thing about the Lord is that He fills his children so full of love and joy that the only thing they wish for that speaker is that she would open the door and let the Lord come into her heart!  She would be able then to build others up instead of trying to tear them down. Character assassination is so hurtful!   Ann Romney as a stay-at-home Christian mother of five boys I promise you she has worked hard.  Look at her now!  It behooves us to offer her the praise she is due.

And I love being a storyteller for in the folklore of the ages it is always shown that goodness is rewarded, and evil gets its “come-uppance.”   We must be in prayer for our nation that the Christians will all register to vote and  be vigilant.  We must exercise our responsibility to vote and keep our nation strong by being sure that the ones who are representing us are ones who fear God and keep His commandments. Jesus said, “I have not come to destroy the law but that the law will be fulfilled.”

Verse thirty of this famous Proverbs, chapter thirty-one passage says “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  When the hair turns to silver and the wrinkles cover the face she is glad for inner beauty that the Lord has been working in her spirit.   Absolutely!   “Give her the praise she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

An American Heroine

Hello, dear Website Friends, and happy Glorious Fourth of July 1st and I am celebrating the publishing of my new book Under the Gooseberry Bush, which is now in the publisher’s hands and will be out in just a few days!  The cover design is absolutely GREAT!  The book, of course, is a memoir, and I have chosen certain stories to tell.  It is not a comprehensive autobiography, but I believe the stories I have chosen will give you an idea of how these ninety four years have been spent and will cause you to LOOK UP, LAUGH, LOVE AND LIFT!   That is my prayer!

Now I want to tell you a wonderful story as a gift to you who are celebrating the Fourth!  You might not have this day as a holiday—and you might be a British subject, had it not been for this fantastic young lady that I have chosen to tell you about, for she is an American heroine of the first order!  We owe her much!  You might not have even heard of her!  She is hardly ever spoken of, written about, you never see Google doing a birthday for her on their site, like they do for so many others.  I researched her on Google several years ago and made a story out of an essay since it was in public domain. Now I’m sharing it with all of you to celebrate the glorious holiday—American Independence The truth is that Molly Pitcher is our Big Fourth of July Heroine!

According to the account that I found, she was red haired, freckle-faced and Irish!  That spells a girl who was born with a huge supply of moxie, as we liked to call it in my family, meaning one with grit and courage to go with it.  Molly was newly married when this story took place.

She loved and married an artillery man in Washington’s army.

On June 28, 1778—235 years ago today!  I am writing this on June 28, 2013.

Well, as I was getting ready to say, on that fateful day, we fought the battle of Monmouth, which is famous for Washington’s tactics, regaining some advantages that had been lost.  That event happened to be on a Sunday morning, close and sultry according to my source writer whom I will cite at the close of this story.

It was all of 96degrees in the shade!  Men were dropping dead from sunstrokes!

Not touched by a bullet!

The only thing on Molly’s mind was the suffering of the men and especially her beloved husband, so she carried buckets of water from a nearby spring and passed the water along the line.

Back and forth to the spring she hurried, sweat blinding her eyes along with tears for the men who were dying.  Everywhere and all about the men were moaning for a drink of water and she could not refuse any of them, when finally she saw her husband, all parched and dying for a drink of water so she began running to him.  At that moment a bullet whizzed by and he fell dead by the side of his gun—without ever getting a drink of water to cool his lips—Molly dropped her bucket and paused for only a moment when she saw him fall, ONLY A MOMENT WAS SHE DAZED—ONLY A MOMENT DID IT TAKE WHEN SHE HEARD THE ORDER CALLED TO DRAG THE CANNON FROM THE FIELD.

She was stirred to action at once.  She ran and grabbed the rammer and hurried to the gun.  She was familiar with the weapons of war, and she felt no fear.  Strong and skillful she stood by the cannon and directed its fire until the fall of Moneton turned the tide of victory  The British troops were beaten back after a desperate struggle and Americans took possession of the field and the battle of Monmouth was won.

The next morning, poor Molly, face all sun burnt and eyes swollen from weeping, was presented to Gen. Washington.  A pathetic figure, with a scanty piece of black crepe pinned to her dress, she curtsied and waited for his words.

It is said that the French troops who were fighting on the American side against the British were so delighted with her courage that they filled a cocked hat full of money for her and named her, “la Cape   town.”

Gen. Washington gave her a commendation worthy of her performance under fire and gave her a sergeant’s commission and half pay for life.

In after years we have no word of what became of her, because she lived and died without any further recognition—but the memory of her brave deeds will never die, because Molly Pitcher did win for herself a niche in the hall of fame, and as we celebrate the glorious Fourth, and sing The Star Spangled Banner, let us be thankful for those brave men and women who are sweltering on foreign soil in mortal danger and who are willing to fight and die for our freedoms.

Then let us remember that this sacrificial service has been traditional for our American troops since the beginnings of our country and soldiers live and die, as Molly did without any fanfare, but always remembered with great reverence by true Americans.

In this day and age, when the glory of America seems to be fading at home and abroad, let us stir again in our hearts the mind of one Molly Pitcher who counted her life as nothing in the battle for liberty.

Basics from famous American essayist, Agnes Repplier,( 1855-1950) in which she was speaking of famous heroines, Augustina, Maid of Saragossa, the Spanish heroine, and the story of Mary Ambree, the English girl immortalized in poetry, and finally Molly Pitcher of American Revolution fame. I found this on internet and did not record the internet source, but the year I researched and wrote it down was 1987 and I have told it several times in these years.

Since today is the Glorious Fourth of July, I strung three pounds of green beans and cooked them, made potato salad and deviled eggs, served with hamburgers  for which I grilled the onions and I baked a chocolate cake!  (I used a mix this time!)  Don’t let anybody tell you that a ninety-four year old can’t put a meal on the table!

On July 18, 1947, I was awakened at six a.m. with a contraction!  To make a long story short, my son, Dana was born in the early morning of July 19, 1947.  The reason it was prolonged was—he was a breach!

So that’s the story of my second child’s birth, and we’ll be celebrating that day in this month. This son and his wife, presented me with two precious grandchildren—a grandson and a granddaughter!  I happen to be very proud of these two fantastic persons!

On the 30th I travel to Virginia where I will meet my niece, and we’ll drive down to North   Carolina for the National Church Librarian’s Conference where I will promote my book, Under the Gooseberry Bush, and teach two workshops on “Storytelling.”  After that we’ll go back to Virginia where I will stay a few days and visit my family and friends!  What a joy. If you want a copy watch this website for the announcement of the day it is available through Amazon or Create Space.

I will close with the se few lines of poetry that I wrote one hot July day, way back when I was in my teens.   “Athought came; I treasured it; wrote it down and measured it!   It was wide, and long, and very deep! I decided it was one that I must keep!  When time went by these steps I did repeat; those treasured words if found I had to eat!”

The Dance of Life, And the Magic of Moonlight in May

Standing in the brightest moonlight

Like the middle of the day!

Not a shadow !  And I stood there

At the window; it was May

And I looked out on the front yard,

Saw the flower bed on the lawn

And I knew that in the morning

There would be at early dawn

All the birds in God’s great heaven

Descending on the garden rows

Gathered there in great profusion

Robins, sparrows, thrushes, crows!

As I changed my dress to nightie,

Cool and sweet the scent of May

Wafted in, the breezes blowing

In that moonlight bright as day!

Down below I knew the fairies

Dwelt in Mother’s big tree stump

And I summoned them to join me

On the featherbed to jump!

In my petticoat I pranced and danced

All around the bed I stepped

In the bright light of my bedroom,

While the others sweetly slept.

No one saw but Mother Moon

And the fairies—they could skip

On my window sill in fairy time

Light fantastic they did trip!

Only in the May time moonlight–

Only then can fairies meet

With a little girl in her petticoat

And lend her fairy’s feet.

No sound of bed springs creaking

For the spell the fairies brought

In the night of moonlight magic

Only in the month of May is wrought!

Oh, to be again a child of nine

In my room up on the Hill,

Dancing wildly with the fairies

On my moonlit window sill!

In the May time tripping lightly

Fairies holding me in trance,

While in magic of sweet May time–

Moonlight magic trip-toe-dance!

Childhood memories!  Oh how precious!

How delightful!  How pristine!

Lord, in mists of childhood memories

Lives the one you call,  “Maxine.”

Though the frame is bent and twisted

Still we view the dreamy scene

It’s a little girl in her petticoat

Dancing in the moonlight, it’s— Maxine!

Now in the Light of Love we see her

Not at nine but ninety-four

Dancing still, in May-time magic

Feet three inches from the floor!

God the Infinite Creator

Made her feet to dance in tune

To the music of the spheres

As well as childhood’s May-time moon!

Now He brings the Light in Darkness

Brighter than a moon in May,

Gives her voice the lilt of singing

To the Lord a joyful lay!

Brings her feet to stand in wonder

Brings the words in awesome power

It’s that little girl in her petticoat

In another day and hour.

Still she sings and dances wildly

When the Spirit wings His way,

To remind her of His mercy

And His love –and that it’s May!

Winds no longer bring their chill

Summer lingers in the wing;

Lovely May-time brings her cheer,

The Lord has given us His Spring!

Oh Time!  I do salute you!

I have enjoyed your seasons kind,

And all the memories that you bring

To give me pleasure in my mind!

Thank you, Lord, for years I’ve had

And the memories that you bring!

Thanks for the dance of childhood!

The dance of Life!  And Spring!

Maxine Bersch-Lovern

April 20, 2013

May is on our doorstep!

And Then There Was Light

This is March, but I’m thinking ahead to April.  I love April! On March 1 7, 1945 I was married to Frank and Richmond, Virginia puts on her most beautiful garments when April goes forth to meet May.  Here is something I wrote about these two months.

April Meets May

Poem written April 21st, 2005

 It is Springtime in Virginia,

 and she whispers in my ear,

“I am donning all my very best and going to meet my dear!

I am putting on my gown of green,

with flowers in my hair,

I am carrying fragrant lilacs,

Longing eyes at me will stare.

They will sigh, ‘Ah!’ at my loveliness,

Turn their yearning eyes above—

‘April, oh, dear April, how I long so for my love!’

In my perfumed airs they’ll sway and dance,

          And misty eyes will glisten!

At my siren song of Spring, they turn enthralled to listen!

Ah, ‘tis time!  I don my best,

          Garbed now in Spring’s attire,

For our rendevous, our trysting place, our very heart’s desire!

Soon, soon we’ll meet, and then in union we will say,

          ‘Embrace and hold me!’

Sweet April then becomes dear May!”

 

         Here, this morning, as I write, Texas is showing all the signs of spring and I am reminded of that morning in 2008 when I was sinking low, oh my soul, sinking low!

I called on the Lord and he took me on a flight of fancy back, back  to my childhood and once again I crawled up under the gooseberry bush and sailed away on a flight of fancy.  I do know I was refreshed while Sloth, Mr. Ready-to-Halt, and Giant Despair were where they belonged and the joy of the Lord was once again my strength.

I say that because this is one story that you need to know it had a happy ending before you start to read it!  Besides that, you probably would dismiss it as a mere flight of fancy, and I choose to think of it as a visit with the Lord, and many of you will agree that these will sometimes take on an unreal or visionary character.

When I needed a place to live here in Texas, my nephew, Boxley, moved into a new home and allowed me to rent this house.  Since he had not moved into his new home at that time, my daughter-in-law drove me out to Phoenix to visit my daughter, Patricia.  I did that so I could have my car to drive about in. I visited for the summer, and in July I had the heart attack and had to have a four-way bypass to the heart.  Then I stayed until Thanksgiving Day when Frank came over and drove me back to Garland.  Here he had awaited my arrival to get the boxes opened, pictures hung and other things in place.  Between the two of us we were able to get the living room, dining room and kitchen in readiness for Christmas, and we celebrated Christmas here together.  Although I decorated with everything as I like to do, I felt it lacked so much because there were no grandchildren coming to make things merry.

After Christmas we began on the bedroom areas and the days reached February.

I was getting my computer station ready to work on, and the books put away in the book cases. I was still weak but I wanted to do this myself and gain strength from the effort. As a matter of fact, I had only finished with the therapist and the home nurse when I came home to Garland. I had lost weight down to 113 lbs, and looked like a refugee from a concentration camp therefore, I wanted to get strength back.

I wrote the first account of this as I was trying to bring order out of chaos in my place here in Garland, Texas. It was in February that this happened, but I was writing about it in March, 2008.

I was trying to get some work done and mentally I thought I could work like I always did.  However, the spirit was willing but I had to stop and rest a bit.  I was ready to drop.  As Mother used to say, I had come to the end of my tether but I didn’t want to stop until I had all the books up in the book cases.

I weeded my book collection before moving, but I still held to many favorites, and I was eager to look at them again so kept at it.

I worked a little at a time for a book is a heavy thing.  Suddenly I saw Mr. Ready-to-Halt coming toward me, and on his heels was the monster, Sloth.  They spotted Giant Despair  standing behind my chair and that made them bold.  They began to spill their poison in my ears, and I called on the Lord for help.  I was never so tired.  I began crying and asking the Lord what in the world caused me to give up my home, my loved ones and my church and move to Texas, and at that point I felt like giving up.

Now that moment is a memory, for I am ninety four years of age, and I was then eighty-nine.  I have been thinking about the way the Lord has kept me going.  It is now March, 2013 and I’m looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day. (the 17th) Then I will be remembering that date in the year 1945.  That was when Frank and I were married.  The day I am telling about as I stopped working I broke into tears and prayed, “Lord, I can’t do this. I have no heart to work at this house.  I miss my Richmond home!  Why did I do this?”

All along the way as we walk through this life, there are mysteries, but this is one of the greatest that I have encountered.  My friends of a lifetime are in Virginia, and all my roots, since age 21 are there in Richmond, Virginia.  This is what the Lord showed me as I pondered all the questions and confessed to Him that I was down on the bottom rung of the ladder and I did not have the strength to climb. .

This is another March, and today it’s a different kind of refreshment I need.  I need the kind David spoke of in the twenty-third Psalm.  My soul needs to be restored.  I’ve reached an impasse in writing the memoirs.  For several amazing reasons I am recalling the day that I was putting the books away and stopped to rest and pray.  The Lord reminded me again today of the strange thoughts that He gave me!  And again I will write them down and I will probably copy this into my memoirs.

Suddenly I  forgot all about my problems of getting the house in order.  When I asked the Lord for help, he made me to lie down and rest up under the gooseberry hedge, and I attuned my special ears and eyes.  It was not long at all before the Lord spread a table before me in the presence of my enemies; that horrible creature that Bunyan called “Sloth” and Mr. Ready-to-Halt, and the Giant Despair!  He anointed my special eyes and my cup was filled to the brim! The world disappeared in the mists and I heard,

“Maxine, if you think your life and your home situation is topsy-turvy, you should have seen what it was like as I went about the creation of mankind.  You see, whereas you have what seems to you a mixed-up mess of jumbled up boxes, and you are weak and tired, I will give you something else to think about.  It is a tale of unimaginable scope and in this answer to your plea for help I believe you need to hear a little bit of it.

This will give you a new perspective.

My special ears perked up.  My special eyes blinked a couple of times but then had no problem seeing it all.

He showed me a scene that covers eons of what I know as time, as well as what I will never know.  I saw that I must grasp the idea of space before Time was in place.  The Lord knows that my mind has had no formal training in astronomy or physics.  He remembers that I am dust.  I read, but I do not attempt as scholars would to break it all down and agree or disagree!

The Lord reminded me that there was enormous planning in the “work” of creation.     For the sake of my ignorance He allowed my thoughts to remain in the planetary system of the galaxy that earth is in.

The angelic host was in an uproar as they heard all the ramifications of the plan and they were perplexed about it.  Nevertheless, the plan was made and executed and the Lord finished it all in six days and Genesis tells us that He rested on the seventh.  The story was revealed to Moses.  He wrote the account of it in our Bible. Since writing in that day was many times more difficult than it is now, the Lord showed him how to write in simple words.  There in a few verses Moses covered eons as we know time. Now this is what the Lord revealed to me on my trip to the gooseberry bush that day when I was so tired and weak that I really wanted to forget about getting things in place.

He helped me imagine what it was like in heaven as the angelic hosts worked to bring order out of the chaos then in motion.  The placement of galaxies floated across my vision  and I heard the slosh of watery substance bobbing about there in the blackness.  There was total blackness, but I felt the strong wind of God’s Spiritual Essence as He hovered and blew over and around that blob of water.  Gradually a shadowy outline began to appear, and then the grayness of early dawn. Since God is Light, of course, the first thing He worked on was the lighting system.  There was something bobbing around there all right, bobbing and sloshing.

As I continued ruminating on the Creation story, I said, as I used to say when I was a child, “If you want to tell me something, Lord, I am listening.”  Yes, He wanted me to get the picture even if I could not begin to comprehend it.  This was Maxine, barely able to get about, but still it was the same Maxine and it came to me that day that the Lord told Job something about what was required in the beginning, and that I should be reminded of the words “when the morning stars sang together.”  That I should be quiet and consider the words “who shut the sea behind doors” and in fact all of the 38thchapter of Job jumped up and words from chapters 39,40 and 41 were brought to my mind!  I was still and the Lord began to speak to me of the earth’s orbit, and said that it was impossible to describe to me in words that I could recognize what was involved in correcting the earth’s orbit and the  precision of  placement in the perfect position so that its axis would continually keep the planet able to tolerate the rays of the sun and receive its life-giving benefits.  I tried to visualize the scene.

God gave me the thoughts about Time and how He brought it about.  Positioning of the stars and planets on their paths through the universe was accomplished in degrees and as that was taking place, time was also becoming a reality on planet earth.

I imagined every bit of the system up and running and God probably doing all sorts of things for He is the Great Cause!  I thought about the comets randomly zipping here and there while he was engaged in fixing things and the comets were knocking  planets out of the sky, or causing them to go rolling off their course and plow into stars or break larger.planets. into bits and send them twirling through space.

About that time I caught a glimpse of  angels grabbing Sloth, Mr. Ready-to-Halt, and Giant Despair by the collars, carrying them out the back gate of the garden and over to the barn.  They unlatched the door to the screened in place where they shoveled the refuse from the stalls.  They tied them and threw them in there to await their just rewards.  After that I was filled with the energy that only the Lord can give.

God showed me how simple and easy it should be for me to place these books on their shelves and get this place straight. With faith we do not need to understand it.  We have to be willing to trust and obey!

As the story unwound in my mind that day, I was shown my daily life in Christ.  I move and breathe in Him, for I have eternal life NOW.  God allowed me to hear Him say that he causes me to breathe involuntarily and my heart beats without any prompting from my consciousness.  Even the pacemaker works at His command.  As I write I am in God’s timelessness.

The planet is gradually turning on its axis and at the same time it is traveling through blackest space, at the speed of 67,062 miles per hour, which is 1,000 time faster than the speeds we travel on the highway.[1] Although the Lord’s huge lighthouse gives his light that illumines the planet day and night, still He supplies the little lanterns that we carry on the pathway, and these I consider my mother’s teachings.  They have never left me, and each sheds its light on the path.



[1] Wikipedia.  I googled the question, “speed of earth in orbiting the sun.”

The Ides of March

 This is March 20th and I cannot report as I hoped that I would have the book completed and ready for the rewrite and edit.  No, it is not quite at that place yet, still I have made much progress.  I found that the years of childhood were easy to write, and even the twenties were relatively easy, but after marriage life has been complex.  Just this past Sunday was the sixty eighth anniversary of my wedding to Frank.   I have relived it many times.

Choosing what to tell is where I have run into many snags, for the memoirs are not supposed to be a comprehensive autobiography, but just the telling of choice events that are memorable.  There’s where the rub comes in for I have a lifetime of wonderful memories!  I find myself wanting to tell everything, especially about the grandchildren!  They happened late in life, but because the Lord has allowed me to live to age ninety-four, my youngest two are going to be twenty-one this year!  That means I have lived to experience many tellable tales!

My primary reason for writing the book is for the practice of my spiritual gift which is encouragement.  I love the motto, “Look up, Laugh, Love and Lift.” It is a joy to be able to bring that message of hope. The stories of my life should be able to carry that on.  That’s what the book is all about. My life was so full of stories that it is hard to choose.  Here is one that I will share with my web friends.

I am remembering the Children’s Book Festival held in downtown Richmond, Virginia.  It was at one of the large department stores that had a great book division and this event was widely publicized in the newspapers, on the radio, by their own mail-outs, etc.  Naturally, the entire state was covered, and people flocked in bringing their youngsters.  The Richmond Storytellers League (recently changed name from Story League) was engaged to present programs for the two day event.  Here, for the sake of any who are not familiar with this particular organization for storytellers, I will insert a bit of history.

The National Storytellers League was formed on the campus of the University of Tennessee in the year 1903.  The students were enjoying a class in children’s literature and the professor was the famous storyteller of that time, Richard Thomas Wyche!  He inspired them with his tales of Beowulf, the coming of Arthur, the story of Sir Gareth, on and on!  They did not want the time to end!  They formed the National Story League which has now become the National Storytellers League. It has leagues throughout the United States and it is now divided in the Eastern and Western districts. Our motto is Service through Storytelling.

What a thrill it was to hear all of our best tellers as they brought the stories to life and to see the response of the adults as well as the children.  I would not remember  the stories that I told in those times when I was on the program but I happened to find all my preparatory work in an old notebook!  I had a hard time deciding for I have so many favorites, but I finally chose –  Dr. Know-It-All  a Grimm story that is so funny!   The Emperor’s New Clothes, another funny one by Hans Andersen, The Flea, Ruth Sawyer’s absolutely fabulous story from her Picture Tales from Spain.  I love the humorous ones! In this great story when the king was getting dressed one day a flea hopped over on him. Quick as a wink he slapped his hand down on and caught it!  He said to his chamberlain, “You realize that this flea, having landed on the person of the king is now a royal flea?”  Well, now, you must read this story to see what happened to this “royal flea.”  Some of the children who were in attendance were from my own church!  Imagine their surprise!  From then on when I would meet them in the hall I would hear remarks like this: “I want you to come to my birthday party and tell “The Flea!”  Then I told the personal story, Aunt Wilma’s Thanksgiving Visit.  Of all the ones I told this is the one that resulted in at least a dozen letters from children and parents, as well as the book store manager from the department store!  This story can be found in my book, Storytelling in a Nutshell. 

The personal stories always evoke the most response and that is what started me thinking about doing a book of memoirs.  I just did not realize what a daunting task I was taking on, for if I had, I wonder if I would have planned to stop when I finished the years of childhood.   That has been my bugbear, for over and over again I have been haunted by the idea that everyone will stop reading at that point anyway!  I have had to fight this demon of doubt, for you see, the biggest emphasis in the childhood stories is the on the faith that my mother exemplified.

After childhood when I was on my own, this is where the faith that she built in me had to be strong enough to carry me through and those are the stories that I need to tell to carry out the purpose that the Lord gave me for writing the book.  It is a matter of being as Paul said, “obedient to the heavenly vision.”  As we make the climb up the mountain of difficulties we are bound to face the Slough of Despond..  We’ll meet Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and I know for sure I have had to deal with Sloth.. Many times, as I go along, I am reminded of all these allegorical characters that Bunyan created for us and in writing the memoirs I have sometimes lost all enthusiasm due to the attack of some of these monsters!   When I write the word Finis it will be a spiritual victory, for the battle for the past year has been as I have described, and it has caused procrastination, and waste of writing time. Nevertheless, I do claim a victory for I am near the closing pages and by the end of March it should be ready to edit.

Now to show you a poem I wrote when I was eighteen.

Old March, you cannot bluff me out

You rant and rage, but what about?

Your winds may chill but in the air

A hint of springtime loiters there.

Ah yes!  I grant you’ve earned your fame

But to me, March, ‘tis all in name,

Your real, real self and genuine laughter

I’ll look for in the month just after!

Maxine Helen Johnson

The Red Letter Days of February

Look up everybody!  Look up, Laugh, Love and Lift.

Wow!  This is February and this is the month with all the goodies in it.  Already I have had a Humongus blessing.

Today is the third of February, and this is a red-letter day because my friend, Larry, was baptized today! Although he has been a Christian for many years, he has grown closer to the Lord in the past few years, and the pastor confronted him the first of 2013, saying,

“Larry, I know you love the Lord, but it’s time for you to be baptized and tell the world that you are dead to the old world and alive forevermore.”  It so happened that I arrived here at my daughter’s home and I attended her small group which is their Bible study group that meets on Sunday evenings in each other’s homes.  The news of Larry’s upcoming baptism was spread abroad and they were talking about it.  I was so thrilled for you see, I have been knowing them all this time, and we are good friends.

He said, “Well, I want to be baptized before Mackie goes back to Texas.”

I said, “You better hurry then, because I am leaving on the 9th.”

So he scheduled it for the 3rd and there you have it!  I was so happy that I could be here to celebrate with him.

Now I have another day that is red as far as I’m concerned and that is February 12, for that is not only Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but it is the birthday of my son, Frank Leslie Bersch, Jr. and that means I go home on Saturday the 9th so I can make his favorite cake.

He likes the 1-2-3-4 cake with the fudge icing on it.  Both recipes are in my cookbook if you own it, but if you don’t, let me know.

Now let’s talk about the other red-letter days of February.  I note that the 13th is Ash Wednesday.  That date on the Christian calendar is the first day of Lent, which is forty days before Easter and it is called “Ash Wednesday” because it is customary in many Christian churches to observe the Lord’s Supper and then mark the foreheads of each of the faithful with ashes in the form of a cross.

The purpose of this is to remind us of our mortality.  The pastor or assigned minister will usually say something at the time of the marking to indicate that we are made of dust and shall return to dust. Of course, too, the day is one when we remain especially mindful that God so loves the people of the world that He gave His only begotten Son that we might have everlasting life. The ashes are allowed to stay on the brow as long as they will last and we sing the song, “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.” (Isaac Watts-hymn)

The following day, February 14, is Valentine’s Day.  This is also rooted in a noted Christian from early days, but from Chaucer’s days, it has become known as a day when lovers exchange their greetings in flowers or candy, and love-letters.  These have evolved into greeting cards exchanged by relatives and friends, husbands and wives, as well as the sweethearts of the world. This is one of the most celebrated days in the year.  Everyone loves valentines, especially the United States Postal Service!

And of course, storytellers.  All storytellers have oodles of stories about Valentine’s day.  I loved the letters that the children sent me after my visits.  I saved all of these and I took the choicest ones to my workshops and posted them for everyone to see how rewarding it is to go to the schools and tell stories.  I had to unload a lot of the “STUFF” I had saved when I moved to Texas. I remember a third grade boy who sent me this one.

DEAR STORYTELLER,///Did you know that you are the best storyteller in the world?  Thank you for arranging your time to come and tell us stories.  I loved the songs and your instrument, and the way you YOUSED your hands! I want to be your valentine.”  (Patrick)  I imagined that he asked his teacher to help him spell such words as “arranging” and “instrument”  but he thought he knew how to spell “used.”  This gave me lots of joy and I shared it over and over.

When I was a child the teacher decorated a large box with red or white crepe paper and then the cut-outs of cupid with his bow and arrow, and hearts in the contrasting colors decorated the outside of the box.  There was a big slot in the top for our cards and we dropped out greetings in the box during the day.  The teacher then tapped the bell and  opened the box.  He allowed a boy and a girl to be his messengers in helping deliver the mail.  He would call out the name of the person who was receiving and he made sure that everyone had at least one card for he gave one to each and it was so much fun having the boy or girl to deliver our mail.

I still love the day and I have an album full of all the ones that Frank gave me, and ones I gave to him.  It is our love story and it is a beautiful lifetime of memories.

Then on the 18th we have President’s Day. Whoever thought that one up?  Now which presidents?  You see, when I came along President Lincoln was given his special day on 12 February, and President Washington had his celebration on February 22.  There was no “day off.” Hot Ziggety!  No school today!  Why?  Oh, it’s president’s day!  Which ones?  Oh, who cares!  The important thing is we have a day off.

We had special programs when we stood up and recited.  The one I loved  to say was Henry Holcomb Bennett’s Hats Off, the Flag is Passing By. There are six verses, but I will only do the first and last ones here so you can see how patriotism was instilled in us from the early grades.

Hats off!  Along the street there comes

The blare of bugles

The ruffle of drums,

A flash of color beneath the sky

Hats off!  The flag is passing by.

(the verses show that not only the flag is passing in review but all that our nation stands for is described  then the last verse is almost like the first one.)

Hats off!  Along the street there comes

The blare of bugles

The ruffle of drums

And loyal hearts are beating high

Hats off!  The flag is passing by!

Here again the storyteller has so many stories to tell.  One of the favorites that I loved to tell was about the little girl who was sick with a fever and could not go with the family to see General Washington who was going to be passing through the village on a certain day. I will give a little synopsis of it.

Her mother wanted to stay at home with her, but the little girl insisted that she go, and said, “Please, I want to hear you tell about it.  I will stay right in the bed.”   After thinking it over, the mother did do that, and cautioned her not to open the door to anyone, however, the story goes that the little girl dozed off and was awakened by a loud knocking on the door, and a strong voice saying, “Is anyone at home?  This is General Washington. If anyone is at home please open the door.  My men have marched all night ad they are hungry and thirsty”

Then Mary put her robe on and went to the door.  She invited them to help themselves, saying that her mother and father were gone to the village to see him, but she was sick with a fever and could not go.  She said, “There’s plenty of bread, butter, cheese, honey and molasses as well as milk to drink.  My mother and father would be honored if you would rest here and eat all you want.”

General Washington said, “Now you get back in the bed and I will give you some medicine.”  He opened his saddlebags and gave her a teaspoon of something that he mixed with some honey and as soon as Mary swallowed it she knew she would be better.  Soon she heard Yankee Doodle being played by the fife and drum corps as the men marched away.  She dozed off and slept until her parents came home.  They were so excited as they told her about the General and the fife and drum corps and her mother said, “Oh, Mary I wish you could have been there and heard the music as they played and the men were singing the song as they marched.”  When she told them her story they thought she was delirious from the fever or else she had dreamed that, but then they found the letter of thanks from the general and he thanked them so much, and hoped that Mary would soon be better.  He told them of the medicine he had given her.  They framed that letter and kept it hanging on their wall and when Mary grew up and had children of her own she showed them that letter as she told them this story.

Here is one of the letters I saved from a little girl in the fourth grade who drew a big heart around her words, even though the stories were about George Washington..

Dear Storyteller, // “When I grow up I want to be just like you! I want to have an autoharp and go about telling great stories and singing beautiful songs to all the boys and girls.  And I hope I can always remember the story you told of the little girl who was sick and couldn’t go to see Gen. Washington, and how he came to see her!  That was the best story you told today!  I am always going to remember you.  Thank you again.  (Angela.)

Now that I am 94 years of age, I wonder about all the precious children who are now grown up and have children of their own!   I do hope and pray that they will tell  stories to their children. From 1952 right on up until now, I have told stories and taught others how to tell them. I love to remember all the great audiences, especially my grandchildren.  I have gone to visit each of their classrooms and told stories.

This month, so full of red-letter days, is a special one –and I almost forgot Leap Year that happens every four years!

What is so great about that, you might ask—and I’ll tell you right now!  This is the year we’ve been waiting for!  Now we don’t have to wait around until the one we are carrying the torch for decides to pop the question!  Now we are allowed to do the proposing!  And, naturally, we do not neglect the preliminaries.  We’ve had four years to carry on the campaign that will guarantee success.  Just as soon as the New Year’s Eve party is over and we get that special kiss—we are gonna be good and sure that it packs a wallop, and that he never quite recovers from it, and while he is in that state of mind, ZAP! That’s the time to strike! And put that ring on my finger!  Put that piece of paper in my hand!

There’s no excuse for anyone ever ending up an old maid, when the good Lord supplied us with an extra day every four years and ordained that to be the Day.  If that guy has been dragging his feet, he will either put up or shut up.  We are not going to be wondering when or if any longer!  And for Pete’s sake don’t drop any hints what the next year’s calendar is about—it wouldn’t be cricket.  Remember all is fair in love and war, and the last I heard this is love—just a few days after exchanging Valentines to pave the way.  I am glad I remembered to add this—another red letter day every four years! Now all you single gals be prepared.

Now after this great month we have 6 glorious red-letter days coming up in March—One of them—the 25this red on MY calendar because a lovely niece and a lovable sister-in-law share a birthday on that day, and that makes it American Beauty Red as far as I’m concerned, so I’m looking forward to it.  Of course, Ole March is blustery, but she can’t fool anybody!  We know she brings the robins back.

When I publish the blog for March, I hope to report the completion of the memoirs including rewrite!  Then all I lack is editing and publishing.  I think it will be under cover by June 1.

A New Year

This is still 2012 for a few hours, so before the world comes to an end as for hundreds of years people have predicted it will do in 2012, I will get these few words down.

                        I am always amazed at the thousands of people who will believe a Mayan prophecy, and they will make all kinds of to-do about it on TV or talk radio.  They wonder what this big calamity will be?  They fully expect something dreadful to happen and it is discussed pro and con all around.

                        However, there are millions of us who know for a fact that there is a Book filled with prophecies about the Day of the Lord! The thing about this prophecy is that many prophets have foretold its coming, including Jesus, the Christ. The date is withheld and the reason for that is, NO ONE except the Lord knows the day or the hour.  We are given certain signs that show it is near, but as for the date?  We only know that the Word says it will happen unexpectedly.

            Two women will be working in the kitchen, one chopping onions and the other opening a can of something or other, and suddenly, one of them will disappear!   

Two men driving down the road together talking about their next big business venture, and suddenly one of them will not be there.  If you happen to be in that car it will not matter if it happens to be the driver and you are left sitting there.  Grab the wheel—what happens next is between you and your Maker!

            Oh, all this time you have been ignoring every warning, and calling it an old wive’s tale!  Well, just as Time had a beginning during that Creations week, it will now have an ending. 

            Certain things are scheduled to take place, but we are not give dates on the calendar.  The reason for that omission is given, and anyone who has an ear to hear can easily understand that it is withheld so that we are not going to let one minute pass by without being completely prepared.  The fact that I can tell you without any shadow of a doubt in this writing is this– that the Lord will come as a thief does.  You might think you will never have to be bothered by a burglar but nevertheless you have an alarm system installed, or you keep a baseball bat handy, or a pepper spray, or a loaded pistol.  You are ready.  That’s why the Lord keeps us in the dark about the hour of his coming!  We must be prepared at any moment.

            That’s why we have Christmas, which we celebrated last Tuesday, December 25, 2012! That was the Day the Lord provided the Balm in Gilead!  A healing for the sin-sick soul!  After tomorrow we’ll take down the decorations and 2013 will be ushered in, and then begins another year of preparation for that DAY.  Until He comes he has given us certain things that He wants accomplished. He organized the church and gave instructions to be carried out.  We are to tell the good news and then we are to baptize and teach.

            What most people fail to understand is that God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.  You look around and draw your own conclusions regarding that instruction we were given.  The reality of the Spiritual World is becoming more and more apparent as we see the forces of evil becoming more and more in control of our world, for God has ordained this and is allowing this TROUBLE IN THE BUBBLE to perk, perk, perk up, up, until it reaches the top of the pot and boils over.  His Word teaches that people will run to and fro and knowledge shall increase!  His Word teaches that “As it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be in the Last Days.” 

            Now, how was it in the days of Noah?  It was evil that had spread until every imagination of people’s hearts spelled corruption.  Look around you now and what do you see?  What are you seeing on television? What are you allowing to come before your eyes? 

            Just remember that the eyes are the windows of the soul!  When people hear that remark they think it means that when you look at a person’s eyes it reveals the condition of the soul—well, yes, it does.  If I come up to the windows of your house and look in, I can see what is in there, sure enough.  But just as sunshine is allowed in through the windows and light, if you open them up, just anything can get in and ruin your home.  Therefore, the windows of the soul must remain closed to what is harmful to the soul and the Spirit of a person.  

            “Oh,” I hear you saying, “I don’t let my mind dwell on the murder and mayhem that they show and the language they use.”

            Ask any specialist and see that I am not exaggerating.  Everything that enters the brain is dropped down into the subconscious, and that is the gateway to the spirit world.  Where do you suppose all these demons are coming from that are taking over nowadays and killing off hundreds of people every year?  Chicago has had its most horrible year in ages, I heard on the news.  We have all mourned this past year and it is laid to “mental illness.”  Why is mental illness that results in violent crimes against humanity so much more prevalent now?  Sometimes they say,” I don’t understand it. He/She was a model student, and seemed well adjusted.”  We are talking about a form of mental illness that is causing this violent behavior.  We should look into the mental health of our children and put a stop to this type of programming entering the minds of our precious babies while they sit in front of the idiot box hour after hour, and I have watched the children’s programming to see what is taking place there, and you should be selective about which ones they are allowed to watch.I assure you all that glitters is not gold.  Satan has invented all kinds of ways to steal the hearts and minds of the children!  That is where the trouble lies.  Eternal vigilance is the price you pay to save the minds of your children.

            The Bible teaches that the programming of the mind during the formative years is the crucial time to teach the values that mean the difference between life and death in the years that the person has on planet earth.  It says that the sins of the fathers are visited on the children down several generations, and the children of righteous parents are blessed for thousands of generations.  Do you really love your children?  If you do, you will deny them any TEEVEE except the wholesome –the good—the beautiful—and the truly funny, of course.  God made us creatures who can enjoy laughter, and I am one of the greatest proponents of good humor, but Lord save us in 2013 from much what is called humor in 2012.

            I just took the last of my antibiotics today, for I have been fighting acute bronchitis.  I am thankful for modern medicines.  I will probably be getting over this for another week or so, but I am getting better, since I am able to think and to write this blog for my website.  I am praying for all my readers who visit the site.  Any one who is weary or heavy laden, those who are sorrowful, those who have made resolutions to give up some bad habit and you still have it, I am praying for you.  Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  This is the One you want too admit into your “house.” He promises to come in and have a meal with you and you get to say that you not only met the Lord, but he visited you and had dinner with you and stayed in the kitchen and talked while you straightened up, and had an extra cup of coffee with the pie and you had a chance to get to know Him!  While he was there He brought you a Christmas gift and when you said, “Oh, I don’t have anything for you!” He laughed and said, “But you have not opened your package yet! Open your present!” You then tear off the wrapping, and open the beautiful heart shaped box—in it you find a gift of faith, hope and love!  Now, you have the perfect gift for Him!  You are filled with joy and thanksgiving and you say, “Lord, this gift of love is just what I needed!  I love it!  I know now what I can give you!  I give you my love!  I want to wear this gift every day, for every occasion and show the world that you are so good!  Please stay all the time and make this your home!” 

            The day you open the door to the Savior He says that He and the Father will come and make their home with you!  How absolutely wonderful! 

            I know that many of my friends and family can say Amen to that and that makes it possible to say Happy New Year!  I will be 94 years of age in a few days and the Lord has given me extra years to enjoy each one of you and as Mother used to say, Love and devotion as deep as the ocean! As we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, What a glory He will shed on our way!  As we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with ALL who will trust and obey!

            Now we say “finis” to the year 2012, and we hail the new year as an opportunity to shine more brightly than ever for the Lord.  I am personally hoping to finish the memoirs by February, and the rewrite by the end of March, get it into print by April, then do the corrections by May and the book should be ready to distribute by May, June at the latest—Lord willing.  Be praying for me that I will stay focused on this goal. 

To Your Good Health

An old tale rewritten by Mackie tongue-in-cheek

Long long ago there lived a King who made it a rule that whenever he sneezed everyone in the whole country had to say, ‘To your very good health!”  He had all kinds of allergies and sneezed several times a day, so you can imagine what a problem that rule caused, especially with those who were out in the field taking care of their sheep!  It was a bother to be saying that all day long!  Finally a certain shepherd said, “Enough already!”  And he stopped saying it.

Now how the king happened to hear of this is a mystery to me.  Since it was miles and miles out there where he was minding his own business, which was tending to his sheep, Now–who went and blabbed it to the king? There is always a blabbermouth in the woodwork.

And how in the world was he supposed to know that the king had sneezed for the forty-ninth time that day? Why, the same way you and I know, of course, Someone Told it!

This is how it went.  One day a horseman came riding, riding fast.  “Whoa!” The rider blew three blasts on his horn TOOT TOOT TOOT, and then yelled at the Shepherd, “Hear ye, hear ye! The king has sneezed again, for the forty ninth time today and  it’s time to stop what you’re doing– hold up your water jug, take a sip and say,’To your very good health, your Majesty!’

The Shepherd went on minding his business which was minding his sheep, as we said before and it bears repeating.

Then the tale-bearer went skedaddling as fast as his horse could carry him CLIPPETY CLOP to the palace and said to the guard, “Let me in at once!  I have news of importance for the king!”  And the guard said, “Make haste!” which in everyday parlance means, “Step on it!” Then he added. “The king wasteth away for lack of news!”  Now we know that what he meant was– the king is dying to hear the latest.”

He went running pitypat-pitypat to the throne room and bowing low said, “Your Majesty!”

The king said, “Never mind the folderol—out with it!  What’s the news?”

The king couldn’t believe his ears when he heard that the shepherd ignored his sneeze  and the messenger reported he said, “I refuse!” and went right on minding his business which you and I know was sheepherding.

Such arrogance from a mere nincompoop!   A sheep herder!  a shepherd!  We’ll see about that!  Such royal thoughts went whirling around in his regal head!

At that he removed his crown, held it up high and roared, “By my crown, this insult to the throne will not go unpunished.  Bring this insolent vassal before me forthwith!”

That’s the way kings speak when they want the universe to tremble and shake.  After all a powerful monarch was defied by a mere shepherd—If it had been a potentate he could have declared war!
As soon as the tale-bearer was out of hearing of the palace he opened his mouth and whooped and laughed uproariously all the way back to the field where the shepherd was.
It was lunch time and at that moment the shepherd turned the jug up to his mouth and took a big swig to finish off his sandwich.

It was a simple repast, but he was as thankful for it as he would have been for a T-bone steak!  He took another drag off the water jug and said to his assistant,

“Now it’s your turn. Take your time!”  He was a kindly sort, you see.

The king’s messenger reined in his horse and snarled; “Now you’re in for it!  You are ordered before the king immediately and he is going to hang you out to dry for sure!”

“What in the world have I done?” the shepherd wanted to know

“It’s what you have NOT done!”  smirked the tale-bearer.

So the Shepherd turned his staff over to the boy who was helping him, and said, “Watch that one over there to your left, and if he strays you know what to do.”
Then he left with all deliberate speed which means he first dashed over to the brook, washed his face and brushed his hair. Then he sauntered into the throne room where the king sat stewing, biting his nails and then sneezing as hard as he could while he waited to hear the resounding “To your very good health” that rolled in from the far corners of the earth.

If you think the Shepherd’s heart failed from fear, think again!  This Shepherd was of a different stripe!

“Say at once, “To my good health!’ cried the King.
“To my good health,” replied the Shepherd.
“To mine–to mine,” stormed the King.
“To mine, to mine, Your majesty,” was the answer.

The king lost his regal control and roared, “But to mine–to my own!”

He tore off his gold crown and threw it at the Shepherd, who saw it coming,  caught it and tossed  it to the king with, “Your crown, your Majesty!”  and the king glared as he put it back on.

“Now I order you to say to my own health with no hesitation!

“Well, yes; of course, to my own health with no hesitation,” the Shepherd snapped and tapped his breast.
If that wouldn’t rattle a king, then what would?  He was ready to have a fit of apoplexy and at that moment his beautiful daughter walked in.  She nonchalantly took her seat in the small throne chair that was waiting for her.

She murmured in lowered voice, “What’s the problem here?”

The king whispered, “He won’t say ‘to my good health,’ and I can’t get him to understand my command.”

She whispered back, “Calm yourself, and leave this upstart to me.”

The king heaved a sigh of relief.

She turned her eyes to the Shepherd who had been twiddling his thumbs and waiting patiently but when she faced him with the words, “Stop twiddling and look at me!”

That was when he saw her full face and her eyes were flashing.  I said flashing but I did not say what that flash conveyed to the unbelievably handsome Shepherd who had defied the king.

He was so startled by her expression that he fell flat as a flounder—no, not on the carpet—I mean IN LOVE—His heart played Yankee Doodle.  What could he say?

At the same time, when he stood erect, her lovely violet eyes saw in a split second that he was well over six feet tall, and had broad shoulders that tapered down at the waist, which was swathed in a red sash.
What was that she spied tucked under the cloak?   It was a dagger with a handle carved in a cunning way!  His shepherd’s cloak was a hand-woven pattern that she would give her eye teeth for.

They exchanged glances and she said to herself, “Hmmmm, where has he been all my life?”

While the shepherd was thinking!  Wow! She is a knockout!

Quick as a wink she turned to the king and whispered, “As long as you are present he is too much in awe of you for my words to have full effect.  You need to excuse yourself for a few minutes and leave the room.”

‘The king sneezed a couple of times and made an excuse that he needed a breath of air.
As soon as they were alone she trilled,  “If you will just say these words, “To your very good health!” I can save your life.”

She gave him her twenty-four karat smile; then coyly looked down.  Her lashes curled and she fluttered them two or three times in rapid succession.  Then she allowed her eyes to grow limpid and give him a “come-hither” look that burned like fire.

At that the last vestige of the Shepherd’s will power melted, his heart pumped a bumpity-bump and he was completely addled.

No, not quite. He did not take leave of his senses entirely.  He returned her flutters with a couple of his own. Then in a voice betraying his longing, with every word a caress, he reached for her hand.  Lifting it to his lips he kissed her fingertips.

“I will only say those words if I can have you for my wife!”

Her laughter rippled as her peachy complexion turned apple red!

Only the Shepherd could tell you what he heard in her voice as she said, “Shall we summons the king to hear you say the words that he commands?”

“Only on those conditions!” he insisted.

So the king came in and the princess whispered to him,

“Father, this man has agreed to say the words that you command, but only if he can have me for his wife.”
The king was touched. “Would you make such a sacrifice for me?”
She said, “It is not a sacrifice.  I only live to please you, Sire.”

The king then said to the Shepherd,

“Well, you have learned how it feels to be near ten deaths.  Now say ‘To my good health!”

But the Shepherd broke in with,

“I do not fear a hundred deaths and I will only say it if I may have the Princess for my wife.”

Then the king sighed contentedly and said,

“Well, well, it is all the same to me–I will give you my daughter to wife; but then you really and truly must say to me, “to your good health.’”

“Of course I’ll say it; why should I not say it?  It stands to reason that I shall say it then.”
At this, the king was delighted and he announced that everyone was to celebrate the marriage of the Princess and to whom was such honor bestowed?  The One and Only Grand Prince of the Kingdom of Fleece!
Everyone was impressed!

Such a wedding!  In the King’s palace there was great celebration. There was fun and merrymaking.  And when the groomsman according to custom brought in the boar’s head on a big dish and placed it before the king so that he might carve it, the savory smell was so strong that the king began to sneeze with all his might.

The Shepherd jumped to his feet and shouted, “To your very good health!” and the King was filled with joy!

The princess hid a smile behind her napkin.

The Shepherd gave several huzzahs for good measure before seating himself amidst rousing cheers and repeated shouts of “to the health of the king, and to the prince and princess!”   The king decided at once to favor them with an extended honeymoon, and as soon as that was over, he knew of several countries where he needed to send an emissary of no less importance than the king’s own son-in-law!

In time, when the old King died, the Shepherd Prince became king.
Everyone liked him.  He rarely ever sneezed and when he did he placed a large handkerchief over his mouth and said, “Bless my soul, Miss Agnes!”

One fine day when the tale-bearer was well out of hearing distance, the head honcho said to his assistant,

“To the new King’s VERY GOOD health!”

And they all lived happily forever after!

A Rainy Day is a Day for Contemplation and Rest!

Today it is pouring the rain and I am sitting right next to the window. . . 

I love a rainy day.  For one thing, it speaks of thirsty plants.  They love the rain and they show the world their appreciation for this heavenly shower.  They will dress the world in color and everyone will be oohing and ahing.  Naturally all the young poets will fill the waste baskets with attempts to find words where there are none. The older poets smile benignly at their attempts while they don the raincoat and venture forth where the trees drip and there is refreshment for the mind and spirit.  They commune with nature and if a poem forms it is from the insight received..

            Now on a rainy day, such as this one, I can call to mind many such poems.They bring refreshing breezes when I’m searching for something that lies hidden.   

Just recently I remembered a song that my mother and my Aunt Lucy would sing when she paid a visit.  That song was “By Erin’s Green Shore.”  By the title you can see that it is an Irish tune.  When Mother and Aunt Lucy were young girls there was an itinerant Irish poet who came visiting once in a while.  His name was Pat Kenney, He was always welcomed with open arms in the homes because he brought news of the outside world, and he was full of humorous tales of other places, and fantastic songs that he sang for them. A trip from “Uncle Pat” was a treat for the family.

He was visiting America and going about visiting in the homes.  He would return to Ireland at the end of his stay and write about the Irish people of the Appalachian Highlands.  He was interested in the way the culture had developed in those years.  He gave Mother one of his published books, “Wayside Thoughts.” She gave it to me and I lost it in the moving process.  I really treasured it.

 I also have the acrostic poem that he wrote for Mother and Aunt Lucy.  They learned that beautiful song from “Uncle Pat” as they affectionately called him.

ERIN’S GREEN SHORE

                                           One evening for pleasure I rambled

                                           By the side of a cool flowing stream,

                                           I sat down by a bed of primroses

                                           And gently fell into a dream.

                                           I dreamed that I saw a fair damsel,

                                           Her lips like the mantle she wore,

                                           All bound round with garlands of roses,

                                           As she strolled along fair Erin’s green shore.

                                           Her cheeks tinged with dawn of the morning,

                                           Her teeth when she smiled pearly white,

                                           Her eyes sparkled bright as a diamond

                                           Or stars twinkling on in the night.

                                           Gold was her hair in the sunshine,

                                           And queenly the dress that she wore,

                                            Her hand was in mine as we gamboled

                                            Along by fair Erin’s green shore.

                                            Entranced in that joy I awoke then

                                            To find she was gone, and no more

                                             Will I see my sweet maiden who left me

                                             To stroll alone on Erin’s green shore.

         In those olden, golden days when we lived on the top of a West Virginia mountain the hiatus of a rainy day was a way the Lord provided pleasure for busy farm people.  The pitter-patter of rain on the roof, the sight of it splashing against the windows was a sign that we had a day of leisure.  We hurriedly cleaned the kitchen and the boys filled all the water buckets then hurried away to the barn to play, or when older to clean and oil the saddles, bridles and harness.

         There would be no need to cook a big dinner in the middle of the day.  On those drizzly days the hired men did not come, and our boys were satisfied with a pot of beans and a pan of cornbread!  Mother might go in and stir up a blackberry or apple cobbler just for the fun of it.  Sometimes, on rainy days such delectable smells would fill the house and that would be one of her creations!  She loved to spend a rainy day in the kitchen.   Her apron still on from the breakfast hour, she headed for the kitchen as soon as we finished the dishes.  You could hear the beating going as she creamed the butter and sugar for cup cakes with chocolate frosting.  She might bake a big pan of ginger bread and a vanilla sauce for it, or maybe apple dumplings to drown in rich Guernsey cream! 

              My sister Irene and I would take the stairs two at a time where we would get on the bed and read our books.     

             Bing!  Bing! What was that sound? A sure sign of rainy day fun for us was the bing, bing, bing of the strings on the instruments, when Charles tuned his guitar with John’s violin and they would cut loose on their fabulous music!  “They’re getting tuned up, Irene!  Let’s go down and dance!” 

        Now we are talking about the Appalachian Highland clog dance called the “clog.”  All of us learned this from our father, who could never sit still when the fiddle was singing out the great tunes that we loved to hear such as  Paddy on the Turnpike, Turkey in the Straw, Soldier’s Joy, Ragtime Annie, Pop Goes the Weasel, Arkansas Traveler,  The Irish Washer Woman, Forked Deer, Sally Ann and hundreds more  that brought a tickle to our feet.  My mother never joined us in our dance but she loved to watch us perform it.  That was a fantastic way to spend the rainy day pent-up energy.

         After a while I learned all the chords on the piano by ear and I played along with John if Charles was away.  Josephine brought the piano home when I was eight years of age and I could not leave it alone.  I fooled with it for hours at a time picking out tunes by the sound of the notes. Mother wanted me to have lessons but there was not one available to us on the Dundon side of the river.  A bridge at the upper end of Clay was under construction, but there was no way for me to go to Clay by myself.  It was not possible to have lessons.

        I have a good ear. Some of the chords I discovered and others I learned from a piano chord book that my sister Jo brought to me.  We had music as a subject in elementary school and the teacher came once a week for the class which lasted an hour. We wrote all of our lessons in a composition book and when I came home I would sit down and play the notes on the piano. Because I loved to play, as long as I was entertaining myself that way my Mother was careful to allow me all the time I wanted to practice. By age twelve I could easily play all the chords as rapidly as Johnny could play those fast fiddle tunes.  He loved to play with me and mentions it in his book, Rosin for the Bow.  John F. Johnson. Amazon- Create Space. c.2004.  

        So now, it is 12:34 p.m. and I am using my rainy day in writing a blog.  Of course, it will only cover part of the day.  That part must cover not just the time passed in writing this, but how rainy days affect the mind and spirit. Look! It has brought on all this remembering.  This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  (Ps.118:24) We can never be sad when we think of that.  I know that He made it for a special reason, and that was to allow all of nature a time of refreshment.  To give someone like me a chance to think of all sorts of pleasant things, and being a storyteller, naturally, that is where my mind lingers.  

        On a day like today my thoughts turn to a time when I drove in the pouring rain all the way from Richmond, Virginia to Tappahannock, Virginia, where I was to tell at the local high school Home Economics Department.  The director called and said, “The librarian at St. Margaret’s School called and said that you are a storyteller, and that you also teach storytelling.”  Then she went on to ask, “Do you tell stories as part of the class you teach?” She explained, “I guess what I am trying to say is, that I would like for my Home Economics classes to have a workshop, and to see the technique demonstrated as part of it.”  

        What ensued then was a lengthy conversation with her in which I described in detail the type of workshop we would be having and the time necessary  to include the stories with discussion and feedback.  I asked questions and she answered with all the information I needed to see how to approach them..

            This memory is one of my favorites.  The title of the workshop was, “Decorating the Mind of the Child,” because of the insight I had from talking with the teacher about her reasons for wanting to include this workshop in the training of future Home Makers.

             From my friend at the village children’s bookstore, where I told stories regularly, I was allowed to borrow several of her framed posters of famous children’s book titles.  I was able to use these as a backdrop for the instruction which included what to look for in selecting a story to tell, preparation of the story for telling it, and the actual techniques involved in the telling.  I chose stories to tell from the large, colorful posters of favorites.

            These great stories are ones that most children have read or have heard read and as I showed the posters and called for response they would all spill it out together!  I doubt if even one of them could not respond.

  I showed why I had chosen these particular ones for this occasion and audience.   I had handouts and we had time to discuss the techniques I had used in the telling. The handout spoke of certain elements, and the discussion was especially effective on the heels of hearing the story told.  Then I held up for them to see my own copy of one of the stories—of the words I had lined through, and the one I had chosen from the oral language.  I passed the paper around and allowed each to look at it carefully and see how the “telling” is the same story as the written but the language is different, and we talked about the written speech and the oral. 

            I was invited to a luncheon that they had prepared, and at the table we had further conversation. During that time several said they wanted to pursue this subject further, and asked the director if I could come back.  From there it developed that I had a four session series of in depth storytelling classes.  This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my years in teaching storytelling. I saved the letters from the girls until I moved to Texas and had to turn loose of so much memorabilia.

              And the rain never stopped all day long!  As I drove along home in it, I stopped at Stuckey’s and bought a pecan log.  I opened it and munched on it happily as I recalled every bit of the day and planned eagerly for my return visits. Now I would be able to have class response for telling and for review and analysis.  It was exciting to prepare all these lessons periods and the teacher and I agreed that I could do these follow-up classes in the regular class period time.

            Are you thinking of learning the skills of the storyteller?  It is most rewarding in itself, but greater, higher and more fulfilling, is laying it all on the altar and offering it to the Lord as your living sacrifice!  That has always been my desire, and the dear Lord honors any such humble gift.  If you will do that, then he will come in and join you in heart and mind to give you joy unspeakable and full of glory!

It’s Absolutely True by HCAndersen

IT’S ABSOLUTELY TRUE

 BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

Note to tellers: I like the quote, “The naked truth is presentable when clothed in a story”

This is as close to the oral as writing can make it, so it should be easy to tell, and humorous! That is always a plus. I also show in underlining the words that are emphasized.

“It’s a terrible affair! I can’t sleep for thinking about that awful chicken house! And to think that it is absolutely true!”

This is what a hen was saying and she lived in a different part of town from where it all happened—

She told the story to the other hens and it made their feathers stand on end and turned the rooster’s combs a scarlet red!

It happened in a chicken house at the other end of town. The sun went down, and the hens flew up. One of them was a perfectly respectable hen who laid her eggs and minded her own business. When she got to her perch, she preened herself with her beak and a little feather came out and fluttered down. “So much for that one! ´ she said, and just for fun she added, “The more I preen, the lovelier I’ll be, for sure!” Now you and I know that it is perfectly respectable to love fun, and she said that for fun!

The hen next to her on the perch was still awake and she heard, and she had not heard, as happens sometimes if you want to live in peace and quiet, but just the same, she clucked to the hen on the other side, “Did you hear that? I will not name names, but acertain hen means to pluck out her feathers, thinking it will make her look good to the roosters. If I were a rooster, I would despise the looks of such a hen!”

Who was sitting just above that hen? Why, it was the owl, of course, with her husband and her owl children. They had sharp ears and theyheard every word that hen said.They rolled their eyes and the mother owl fanned herself with her wing. “You heard what she said, didn’t you? For pity’s sake, one of those silly hens has set about plucking out all of her feathers and in plain view of the rooster!” The father owl scolded, “Little pitchers have big ears! Do you want the children to hear such stuff?” Then both of them hooted, “Who? Tu-whit! Tu-Who!” and the doves heard it all the way down in their dovecote across the yard. “Tu-who! Here’s a hen who has plucked out all of her feathers to impress the rooster. She’ll freeze to death, if she isn’t dead already!” “Where, ooh, where?” cooed the doves. “In the hen yard, over there! It happened!—things like this are really too naughty to speak of, but when we know it is absolutely true—what can we say?” “True, true,” the doves repeated the story—“There’s a hen—some say it is two—who have plucked out all their feathers to attract the attention of the rooster. Suppose they catch cold and die? OhYes! It is true! Two of them are dead!”

            Then the rooster had something to crow about! “Wake up, everybody! Wake up!” Even though it was not time to crow, what did he care! “Three hens have died for the love of a rooster. They plucked out all of their feathers!” Then he felt duty bound to say, “Pass it on!” (Squeak here) “Pass it on!” “Pass it on!” squeaked the bats, and hens clucked and the roosters kept on crowing, “Pass it on! Pass it on!”

And the story flew on, henhouse to henhouse, until, at last it was back again to the henhouse where it all started. Now the story ran this way: “There are five hens who have plucked out all their feathers to show which one of them was the thinnest, all for the love of the rooster! Then they plucked at each other until the blood came and they all fell down dead to the shame and disgrace of their family, and the serious loss of their owner.”

The hen that had lost that one little feather did not recognize her own story. She was a respectable hen, she exclaimed, “How despicable! We must not shut this up, for there are plenty more such hens about. We need to get it in the paper so that it can be known all over the country. It will serve those hens right, and their families too!

So it was in all the papers—in print—and it is absolutely true that one little feather can easily become five hens!

Things to Remember in Storytelling

If you wish to become a storyteller for the Master, then you must get into the yoke with Him and walk in step.  In that way your stories will receive His stamp of excellence, and He will never allow the “leavening of the Pharisees” to kill the joy that he wants to give. 

 THINGS TO REMEMBER:

               1. Get in, get it over with, and get out!  It is vital that the very essence of meaning is what is conveyed, meaning that you will boil a story down, in preparing it, to just that.  An economy of words is what Jesus used.  Please study the gospel accounts again and again.  That means study.  Look at every aspect of these parables using good commentaries, Bible dictionary, Bible Atlas, and any other study helps.  These are available in the church library.  The best principles of good storytelling are illustrated in the parables of Jesus. One of the most important of these principles is brevity.  

I am practicing what I preach, for I am giving you here the results of years of study, going out to audiences of all ilks, teaching for several years.  As God measures Time moments are the stuff of eternity. Each one as it it ticked off may weigh heavily in the final analysis.   I am being given a chance to prove that choosing the right words in telling your story, is of the essence.  The core or germ of truth is what you need.

To find that essence, study and analyze then cast away into nether darkness all redundant, all rambling; all voluble, motor-mouthed; digressive and tautological phrasing. That sentence illustrates what is meant by unnecessary words. Just wanted to show you, in case you did not know! 

              2. Naturally, the choice of story is vital.  We want fast action– a creative plot.

             3.  Characters:   In a story, they cannot be in-depth portrayals, but there are the types.  These that are easily recognized in most folk and fairy tales:  The beautiful princess.  Her beauty is always unbelievable. There is the foolish son, or younger brother.  He is portrayed as almost simple-minded.  Thewicked giant causes all sorts of problems, or the wise old woman shows the way.  Then there is the clever peasant.  The character of the one who wins out in the end will be possession of such traits as kindness, cleverness, generosity, willing to learn, etc.  Good is good and evil is evil.  One recognizes them at once. One wins, the other loses, or as I always like to say, gets his come-uppance.    I also like he old adage,the wheels of justice grind slowly but they grind exceeding small. Therefore, in the fairy or folk story, good always triumphs over evil. Justice will prevail.

            4. Body of story:  Important ways of looking at life are shown here.  We are informed that stories have messages in them for the conscious, unconscious, pre-conscious mind.  Bettelheim says, “They offer new dimensions to the child’s imagination.”  Of course, as Christians, we insert the world-view of the Christian, and so our choice of words becomes literally the difference between life and death for eternity for some listeners!

             5. The ending need not be happy every timebut wrap up details. Numerous endings are good and the teller is free to choose among them for one that suits the tale being told, or to compose a new one that winds things up perfectly in that particular story.  It must be satisfying.  So “and they all lived happily every after.” is just right for some stories, but not appropriate for others.  I know a teller who ends her stories  “And that’s all there is to that story.” In my experience I find that, while I may use the “spit-spot-spout, this tale’s told out!” type of ending for some, I like to suit an ending that I feel is more satisfying and winds things up in a better fashion for others.  I might say something like, “But—as for those other brothers, why–whatever happened to them?  Nobody knows!!!”

             6. Telling:  Telling the story, while it may sound simple and easy, just flowing like water out of the mouth of the teller has required numerous retellings at home to give just the right emphasis to certain words.  Various words have been tried at this or that point to convey certain meanings; many rehearsals of the inflection and enunciation have taken place!   The audience lends a special magic to the storytelling, and when everything is just right, it becomes an unforgettable experience.  As I like to say, it actually breathes.  It has flesh and blood now.  As such, it makes an indelible impression on the spirit of the listener.

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