Underneath Are the Everlasting Arms
The searching beam of her flashlight probed the secret corners of the tiny storeroom. Nothing there. There had been nothing in the kitchen either. Maybe in the cubby under the staircase? No, she had thoroughly searched that in the last financial crisis.
Undiscouraged, she climbed the uncarpeted stairs. Somewhere… there had to be something somewhere. Her faith had carried her through tougher places. She only needed a few cents.
Entering a sparsely furnished room, she sat for a moment to think. The chipped iron bed creaked companionably as she settled onto it. A slight shifting of her weight caused the springs to grate again, followed by a metallic jingle of metal hitting the floor and rolling. Even before she had a chance to consider, a shiny dime rolled from under the bed into a patch of golden sunlight. Closing her eyes she breathed a prayer of thanksgiving. Now there would be enough to cover the balance on the most recent unexpected bill.
Long ago the young farmer’s wife had learned not to be surprised when her prayers and needs were answered. Hers was a quiet joy, unaccompanied by loud exclamations of amazement or disbelief. Even longer ago she learned to trust. She was only 7 when she held her 3 sisters close to her as tears flowed down. In a single coffin in the next room lay their mother and their newborn baby brother.
That night as she was awake in the big bed with her sleeping siblings snuggled close to her, she sobbed, “Momma…oh Momma. Who will be my Momma now?” Out of the darkness she felt a Presence. Her child eyes saw Jesus standing nearby and she heard Him say, ‘I will be your mother.’
Thus began a life-long journey of faith. It was difficult growing up during the depression years, and hunger and deprivation were not unknown despite the untiring efforts of her hard working father. But tough times or not, people found ways to have fun. It was during one of the box socials of the time that she met the tall gentle man who was to become her husband.
Young and in love, they lived on his family farm in a rambling house that had begun as the stagecoach inn. Here they welcomed four children; they kept their hearts and home open to the needs of other children as well. In a day when a “trip to the woodshed” was often the solution for disobedience they knew a gentler way. They knew instinctively concepts taught in such stellar programs as Reggio Emilio and Montessori and raised the children accordingly.
Her heart was touched whenever her soul mate sat in the wide-armed wooden chair next to the wood cook stove in the dining room, children snuggling close. Though he would come in weary from farm chores, he never turned one away. The presence of the children seemed to revitalize him.
Many times through the decades their faith was tested by economics and illness as well as the untimely deaths of two grown sons. ‘Our hearts are heavy with the loss of Phil,’ she wrote in a letter, ‘but God is faithful to give us the peace that passes understanding.’
About 65 years after their wedding day, her beloved‘s health began to fail. The time came when he no longer was able to make his daily trek to the mailbox. It became increasingly difficult for him to swallow or speak. He had to hospitalized for a time and she stayed in his room on a cot. She mentioned to her remaining son that it was hard for her to sleep because her hip hurt her so. “Why don’t you turn over and sleep on your other side?” he asked. Looking at him like he should know better, her reply was, “Well, he might need me and if I was turned the other way, I mightn’t know.”
A couple years later he went peacefully Home but the love that they shared still lives beyond the grave after more than 67 years of marriage. She bows her head in complete surrender to the One who was the Author of their love. She believes now as she has always believed, that God is the God of the good times and the God of the bad times.
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True story. I am a fortunate niece, privileged to journey with and have learned from these faithful travelers.
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