Lydia Barnes was rushing through the house trying to multi-task. If she could use the nervous energy that came from worrying about unpaid bills and sick children, and focus that energy on cleaning her house, the entire place would soon be spotless.
With four children and a recently unemployed husband, Lydia had been trying to make a little extra money by sewing for other people.
Her current focus was on what had been the family room, a room who primary purpose now was work, not leisure. With the exception of the coffee table, everything related to sewing was contained in this area. The coffee table was temporarily burdened by the weight of at least a dozen recently acquired books that had originally belonged to Lydia’s great-grandmother.
“I wonder what it would have been like to live in simpler times. Great-grandma could go to the general store and pay for what she needed with egg money, or she could put the items on store credit.”
Lydia reached down and lifted three books from the pile. “The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle” sounded intriguing. Gently replacing the more familiar titles, Lydia carefully opened the cover and found her eyes drawn to two inscriptions dated 1911 and 1961. This book had been in her family for at least a century.
Lydia smiled as she read, “To my dearest daughter on this your wedding day. Many a day will find you “in a pickle.” Read and remember this story, my lovely one. Life is an adventure, best experienced with patience and humor. Your loving, Mother.”
The second inscription read, “To my dearest Amy, I received this book fifty years ago, on my wedding day. Today, I give it to you. May you enjoy the many gifts it holds. Your loving grandmother, Lydia Webster.”
Interrupted from her reverie by a text message, Lydia read “Start Monday. Home soon. God is good!” Tom’s interview had gone well. Bills would soon be paid; they would all be able to relax.
Returning to the book in her lap, Lydia was overwhelmed by emotions that could not be given words. Her great-grandmother had held this book one hundred years ago. Her great-great grandmother as a gift of encouragement had lovingly selected this book for a new bride, Lydia’s namesake, her great-grandmother.
The women of her past had affectionately held this book. Gently closing the book, Lydia watched as a yellowed envelope fell to the floor. Picking it up, she recognized the handwriting. “My firstborn daughter, someday you’ll be in our lives and when you marry, you’ll find yourself “in a pickle” on more than one occasion. This gift was passed from my grandmother to my mother, from my mother to me, and someday soon, from me to you. If you must use the gift inside, use it wisely. If not, your daughter may need it. Your loving Mother.”
Lydia gently unfolded three letters. The first read, “When the children were small and Tom was sick, I saved money. When the children were sick and Tom had died, I saved money. When the children were grown, the banks failed and I lost all I had, I saved money. A little here, a little there. This is my gift to you, not the money, the will to fight. The knowledge that God will provide. As you fight through the struggles of this life, know this: God is with you and so am I.”
Lydia’s hand flew to her mouth, her eyes wide in wonder. This letter had been written in 1940, the year Lydia’s mother was born. Her great-grandmother had written the letter and her mother had written the note on the envelope. Through the years, each woman had contributed money to the envelope before passing it on to the next generation.
This envelope and the money it contained, held the answer to so many prayers, but this money would not be touched. Lydia would continue to sew and the money she saved would go into this envelope. Someday, she would write a letter about the women who, in the last century, had fought for the welfare of their families and stood on the promise that God will provide.
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