Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~

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



Happy Christmas,
Laura
Trusting in His care
~~~~~
May I suggest?
~~~~~




21 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story! It brings back memories of when my girls were little we had gone through hard times. There had been someone who for several weeks would leave bags of stuff like food, school supplies, art supplies,time of the month supplies, etc. They were always things we needed. To this day, I still don't know who it was but she was a treasure!
    Laura, I wanted to let you know that on one of the blogs I follow, Life in the Shoe the blog author Dorcas Smucker was doing a giveaway for one of her books. I nominated you and she would like to send you her book "Fragrant Whiffs of Joy"
    I hope you don't mind. Dorcas is a joy and you can read more about her by clicking on Life in the Shoe in my blog list.
    I'm reading Fragrant Whiffs of Joy myself and I'm loving it.
    Anyway, I still have your address. You might not get it until after Christmas because she has a large family and will be getting ready for Christmas plus she's a pastor's wife.
    Have a blessed day!

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    1. Why thank you, Regina! You are so kind.
      There have been many times in our life when we have been blessed by others—sometimes known and sometimes unknown to us. It's one of God's ways of taking care of His children's needs. Would you mind sending me your email address again. I failed to save it.
      Happy Christmas to you dear lady!
      Laura

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    2. You are welcome! I sent you an email just now for you to verify your mailing address.

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  2. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. Have a great afternoon.

    Blessings,
    Jill

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    1. You're welcome, Jill. I'll be over for a visit in a few minutes.
      Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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  3. What beautiful story, Laura. It reminded me a lot of the episode of Little House on the Prairie where everyone was trying to give gifts during those hard times. I personally have friends who have experienced these Christmas miracles, where much needed items and gifts were given basically out of nowhere...but of course, we know that the Lord in His infinite wisdom and mercy was who provided. Thank you for sharing this and have a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. I've seen some miracles myself Debby Ray. One Christmas, things had been immensely tough. We'd lost my husband's business, his truck, our van, and we were about to lose our home. Someone knocked on the door—an
      old friend—he couldn't stay, just left a card with one of our little children. There was $1000 in the card!
      Wow! We asked the Lord what to do with it. A day or so later, a friend called and said she'd shared our need
      in her Bible study class. There was a woman who wanted to sell us her van for $1000! We went to see it and
      bought it. A few days later, we found a house to rent that had been repainted and re-carpeted. The man
      rented it to us even though we had four children and a little dog. Another miracle! Someone else brought us
      food. It was amazing how God provided.
      Merry Christmas!
      Laura

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  4. Thank you for sharing, Laura. It's worth reading again and again!

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  5. Thank you for sharing this story. It was beautiful. I hope that you and your family have a perfectly lovely Christmas Laura!

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  6. Hi Laura,
    Such a lovely post :). I've been thinking of you and saying a prayer each time you come to mind. I pray your doing okay through these trials and not over doing it. God loves you and will cover you with his wings. Bless you are your sweet spirit this Christmas season ~ your friend Linda

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    1. Hello Linda,
      I actually have been trying to do some cleaning and laundry. I thank you for your prayers. I'm trying to do some things while I'm feeling better. I may or may not feel up to working so much when I start radiation.
      God does love us. It's so good to be reminded about his covering wings. Thank you so much for being a positive influence for the LORD in my life. I'll be trying some of your soap soon.
      Your friend in the middle of the USA,
      Laura

      P.S. Happiest of Christmas wishes to you!

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  7. Hello Laura, I haven't been on line much lately but I'm so happy that your cancer is in remission. God is indeed great. I have gotten all of the Christmas books by Mrs Carlton (I believe that is her name) except the last one. I don't know why I didn't get that one. Anyway I enjoyed the just like you said. I liked the RV and dog on the best. Oh, I forgot to get the pony one too.
    I liked the story you shared, although I cried through most of it. I think most of us can identify with it at sometime in our life someway. Your still in my prayers dear friend. And may you receive special blessings this Christmas.

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    1. Hello!
      I really liked the RV one, too. I haven't read the dog or pony one. Have you read any of her other books? I've only read Christmas books.
      Remission is a wonderful word!
      May you receive abundant blessings this Christmas, and may you hear Holy Spirit's voice clearly.
      Hugs,
      Laura

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  8. God bless you Laura Lane! What a precious woman of God you are! I am going through some very deep waters right now, the deepest I've ever been through. I've been praying more than I ever have before. I needed the encouragement of this story while I wait on the Lord. Thank you!!!

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    1. Father God,
      I thank you for Older and Wiser. I pray that you will wrap your arms of love around her in a tangible way through your people. I ask that Holy Spirit will rise up in her, and she will not feel alone. Give her clear thinking and the ability to discern truth and discern your will. Bless her with health for her and her loved ones. Bless her with the money and things she needs to do what you have called her to do. I thank you that I can call on you on her behalf. I thank you Sir. In Jesus' name I ask all these things. Amen.
      Hugs to you Older and Wiser!
      Laura

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely story. I remember once when my friend had 3 young children and only $25 for Christmas. I talked to her late into the night while she scrubbed garage sale Legos in the bathtub to make them like new again. Her son got a *new* bike that her husband found in his work dumpster. It had a bent front wheel. He got a wheel from a friend and a can of good spray paint! She's still proud today that her college kids marvel that they had no idea.

    Blessings to you, Laura!

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    1. Hey there Debby,
      You are quite welcome. I share the story every year. It really ministered to me the first time I read it, because we were going through desperate times. It has spoken to my heart every year since as well. Even with cancer treatment, and the stuff going on in my life, it's an easier season right now than that desperate time. I think it's probably because I've learned much about trusting and leaning on the LORD through troubled times. It's been quite a year, Debby. You know. You've been with me through it all. Thank you for standing with me in prayer. I truly appreciate it.

      Your friend is truly thrifty and frugal and wise!
      It reminds me of how my kids thought that we ate Ramen noodles a lot because we liked them—NOT!
      Be blessed,
      Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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    2. Love that about the Ramen noodles!!! I think the reason that kids that don't notice is a credit to the parents. I always knew we were poor as kids because my dad never stopped complaining about everything. As it turned out, we weren't poor so much as my parents spending their money on alcohol & cigarettes. On the other hand, I had no idea that my g'parents were actually really poor because their home glistened and they had happy spirits. It all reminds me of the story about the Queen on The Prudent Homemaker website. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. :)

      Blessings to you, Laura! I'm still praying for you!

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    3. Point well taken Debby. I've gone through periods of complaining and periods of contentment. I'm much happier when I'm thankful and content. Unfortunately, the kids picked up a little of both from me. May God create in me a new heart and renew a right spirit within me in Jesus' name!
      Blessings,
      Laura

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  10. We all have our hard times that we lean on the Lord one way or another. :) Beautiful story!! Thanks for sharing it with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. True Jann. I hope you're feeling well. I'll go in to set up radiation treatments on January 4th.

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Thank you for praying for me! Thank you for encouraging me so much through this cancer treatment. I have the best blog friends in the world! Yes! You!

I read all your comments and respond as I can right now.
Please make sure I have your email if you want me to respond or pray for you. For some reason Blogger isn't notifying me of comments right now, so I may be a bit slower.

God bless you all! This life only works with Jesus. The next life is a continuation of this one—make sure you spend it with Jesus. Jesus is the only way to God the Father!

Your blog friend,
Laura Lane
Cancer Survivor