Friday, May 27, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - To the Work! - Part 4

Good morning, favorite Friday fiction fans,
I hope you all had a good week. Were you able to get outside and enjoy some lovely weather? I did. Monday evening was almost chilly it was so cool. Tuesday evening was perfect. The kiddos were all over and rode bikes for at least an hour after supper. Wednesday was warmer and yesterday was at least 90ยบ. Yeah, it was quite a change. But this morning is lovely and we have the windows open again. I'm not sure how warm it's supposed to get, but we'll leave the house open as long as we can.

I finally reached the end of the next blog story you are going to get. :) I haven't finalized the title yet, but you should be getting part 1 next week. I hope you enjoy it because it is long. And I don't mean 4 or 5 parts long!
Now I'm trying to figure out just what I should work on next. I know what I'd really like to work on, but I'm having trouble really getting into it. Perhaps that's because I was also trying to keep enough other things written to post. Or perhaps I was just getting distracted by the other two stories I am working on. Either way, I haven't made much progress at all. You can all be praying for creativity and wisdom as I write. Oh, and focus. :) (Please don't tell me I'm the only one who gets distracted!)

Oh yes, Blessing Counter tagged me for the Quote tag. Well, since I don't post more than once a week on here, I thought I'd just give you a quote for the next three weeks. How does that sound? Sorry, I don't have any fancy graphics for these quotes. If anyone wants to volunteer to create something, let me know and I'll send you the quotes. :)

I believe that it is no more necessary to be faithful in preaching the Gospel

than in washing up dishes in the scullery.

~ J. O. Fraser

And now, back to the last part of this chapter of Hymns in the Hills.

To the Work
Part 4

    Blinking in surprise, Uncle Benjamin stared at his niece. “Church? Tomorrow?” He repeated blankly.
    “Yes, sir. Tomorrow is Sunday, though I know it must be hard to remember when you live so far from town and can’t go over to prayer meeting during the week. Sometimes the weeks were so busy back home that even Papa had a hard time realizing what day it really was. But what time, please?”
    Instead of answering, her uncle looked across the room at her aunt. Neither one said a word, though Aunt Lillian gave a slight nod. Only Baby Mattie’s jabber broke the breathless hush of the room as everyone waited to hear the answer. At last Uncle Benjamin cleared his throat. “Well, seein’ as we live so far outside a town,” he began, “we ain’t never went ta church regular like. Sometimes the roads are too muddy, or it’s rainin’ or some such thing.”
    “But it was really sunny today, Uncle, and I heard Zeke say it looked like it would be sunny tomorrow.” Belle had never missed church on Sunday except when she was sick and couldn’t go. The thought of not going when she was perfectly well and the sun was shining made the homesick feeling rise again. She bit her lower lip and blinked back the tears which burned in her eyes.
    “Well, I reckon if’n ya can talk Ez or Zeke ta hitch up the wagon an’ take ya, ye might could go.”
    “Oh, thank you, Uncle!” And Belle, unmindful of those watching, threw her arms around her uncle’s neck and kissed him.
    Looking slightly pleased, Uncle Benjamin raised an eyebrow. “Don’t ya go ta thankin’ me yet,” he said. “Like as not Zeke an’ Ez’ll be wantin’ a day a rest at home.”
    Turning at once to her older cousins, Belle asked if they would take her to church in the morning.
    There was but a moment of hesitation as the two young men exchanged glances before Zeke gave a nod and said, “Yep, we’ll take ya.”
    “Thank you!” Belle’s radiant smile seemed to light up the darkening room.
    “Pa, can I go too?” Ali asked.
    “Ask yer brothers. If’n they don’t mind, I shore ‘nough don’t care who goes ta church tomorrow.”
    Instantly the room was filled with pleas to Zeke and Ez to take them too, for a trip to town for whatever reason, was an adventure not to be overlooked. Finally Aunt Lillian ordered everyone to be quiet. “Give yer brothers a chance ta talk. They kin say who all kin go n’ who can’t.” She looked at Zeke.
    “Any that want’a go an’ are ready when we leave, can come ‘long. Sade, Si, ya want to go ta church with us in the mornin’?” Zeke had left his post by the door and moved beside his father’s chair. Two little blond heads were shaken. “Then I ‘spect we’ll be takin’ Rome, Kade an’ the girls.”
    “Kin ya manage all the young’uns without us, Ma?” asked Jess.
    Aunt Lillian gave a smile. “Since yer pa’ll be here, I kin manage.”
    Belle, who had been thinking since Zeke told her she could go, now turned once more to her uncle. “Uncle, don’t you and Auntie want to come to church too?”
    But Uncle Benjamin shook his head. “No, Child, you go ‘long with yer cousins tomorrow an’ another time maybe we’ll go too.”
    With this Belle had to be content, for she had never learned how to argue and wouldn’t have considered doing it now.
    Putting Benny down from her lap, Aunt Lillian stood up. “Any who are thinkin’ a goin’ ta church in the mornin’ ain’t goin’ dirty. Ez, fetch the tub, an’ Zeke, take yer brothers out ta the barn. Use the old trough an’ make sure the young’uns git clean. I ain’t sendin’ my young’uns ta church with more’n a week’s dirt on ‘em. Pa, will ya start pumpin’ water? Jess fetch clean nightshirts fer the boys, an’ make sure ya get ‘em fer Si and Benny too. I know they ain’t goin’, but that don’t mean they can’t get cleaned up too.”

    By the time Belle was in the room she shared with her cousins, she was more tired than she ever remembered feeling. Mattie and Tabby were both asleep, worn out with crying through their baths. In silence the older girls prepared for bed.
    “Are ya still goin’ ta read yer Bible?” whispered Ali, when Belle reached for the book.
    Belle nodded.
    “But aren’t ya tired?”
    “Yes,” admitted Belle, “but I know I will rest better if I have a sweet promise of Jesus to rest upon.” A smile broke over her face as she saw the next verses. Softly she read them aloud. “For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.”
    Jess’s voice sounded from across the room. “What does that word ‘satiated’ mean? I ain’t never heard it before.”
    “I asked Papa that once and he said it meant to satisfy so much that the satisfying spilled over in abundance. That’s how Jesus satisfies; He does until it overflows. But sometimes I don’t let Him satisfy.” She heaved a little sigh. “I want something more, something else, when all I need is Him.” There was a long pause before Belle added, “But when we let Him satisfy, our sleep will be sweet.” Gently shutting the Bible, Belle knelt in prayer. She had a promise to rest on. Though she was weary and tired, He would satisfy her and make her sleep sweet. All she had to do was accept.
    Rising from her knees, she blew out the candle and slipped into bed beside Ali with a sigh of contentment.
    “Belle, when will ya teach me ta read?”
    “Soon, Ali, soon.”

Have you ever gone to church with your cousins?
Would you like to ride in a wagon to get to church?
Do you want more of this story?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - To the Work - Part 3

This is going to be very short. I'll be heading off in a few minutes to the homeschool conference in Springfield with my brother and sister. It's usually a small conference, but we've been doing it for years, so we kind of hate to miss it. This will be the first time I've had all my books together on a rack. We'll see how they sell.


Hymns in the Hills
To the Work
Part 3

    “Ain’t sure,” Ali replied with a giggle, starting up the porch steps.
    Aunt Lillian, looking more rested, came from her room shortly after the girls had sat down with the mending. “Ya ain’t got very far on them clothes if’n that’s the only thing ya’ll’s done. Kade an’ Rome come back yet?”
    “No, Ma.”
    Stepping over to the windows, Aunt Lillian looked out, then took a step back and eyed the windows. Belle hid a smile behind her hand.
    “Well, I reckon I’d rather have them windows cleaned than that mendin’ done,” was all the comment she made, but Jess’s nod told Belle her aunt was pleased. She knew it for herself later in the evening when, on pretense of “watchin’ for the boys,” her aunt went out into the yard. She did more looking at the windows than watching the slopes, Belle noticed with a satisfied feeling.

    The supper table that evening was the liveliest Belle had ever been a part of. Ali, Kade, Rome and Tabby all vied over who could talk the most and the loudest. To her astonishment, no one even seemed to try and curb the chatter, but they all went on with their meal, answering a few questions or making their own comments. To Belle, the commotion was bewildering, and she longed for a few moments of peace and quiet. “It will come after supper,” she thought. “Then Uncle will have family prayers.”
    All at once a new thought disturbed this happy idea. “But Uncle Benjamin doesn’t even thank the Lord for the food. Maybe he doesn’t have family prayers either.” Her face grew sober and she lowered her eyes to her almost finished meal. She didn’t feel hungry any more. An ache which had been pushed down and buried in the excitement of a new place and new family, almost choked her. How she longed to hear her beloved father pray or her mother’s gentle voice sing.
    A low voice beside her whispered, “Ain’t ya hungry?”
    Belle glanced over at Kade, who was looking from her unfinished meal to her and then back at the food. “No, you may have it,” she replied in equally low tones, giving her plate a little push toward her younger cousin.
    Kade wasted no time in switching plates, and Belle wondered if anyone noticed, for in moments the food which had choked her, had vanished.
    “Ma,” Ez broke into the lull of talk as plates were scraped clean, “I saw ya got them windows washed.”
    Leaning back in her chair, Aunt Lillian shook her head. “I didn’t do any such thing, Ez. They were washed while I was takin’ a rest.”
    Ez glanced at Jess but said nothing, and the silence lengthened.
    At last Aunt Lillian stood up saying, “Well, girls, let’s get these dishes washed; they ain’t goin’ ta do it themselves.”
    Feeling relieved to do something, Belle rose with the others and began to clear the table. It had never been a favorite chore at home, but she was grateful to wash a stack of dirty dishes now because it helped push down the homesick feeling.
    “Sing that song ya sang this mornin’, Belle,” Ali begged. “I ain’t never heard it ‘fore today.”
    Still fighting the lump in her throat, Belle shook hear head. “I don’t think I can sing right now,” she replied in whispered tones.
    “Try it, please?”
    “Ali,” Jess scolded, “Belle ain’t required ta sing. Leave her be.”
    Belle caught the slight quiver of her cousin’s chin at the rebuke. “I can try, Ali,” she whispered. “I like to sing while I work. It’s just that I was–” Somehow she couldn’t bring herself to admit that she was homesick. Breathing a quick prayer for help, she began.

“To the work! to the work! we are servants of God,
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.”

As she sang, her courage flowed back and she smiled. She could work and hope because this was where her Master had sent her.

“To the work! to the work! let the hungry be fed;”
Well, there had certainly been plenty of hungry mouths that evening!

“To the fountain of Life let the weary be led;
In the cross and its banner our glory shall be,
While we herald the tidings, ‘Salvation is free!’

Toiling on, Toiling on,
Toiling on, Toiling on,
Let us hope, and trust,
Let us watch, and pray,
And labor till the Master comes.”

    With each verse her voice grew firmer and stronger until the entire room was hushed as everyone listened to the sweet voice of the singer washing the dishes. Three times she sang the hymn through before the last dish was dried and put away in the cupboard. Only then did she notice the quietness of the room and turn to look.
    Aunt Lillian, with Benny in her lap, was rocking in her chair while Sade and Si sat on their father’s knees, leaning back against his shoulders. Standing by the open doorway where the breeze was fresh, Zeke leaned against the doorpost with folded arms staring out into the gathering dusk. Seated in a nearby chair, Ez held Mattie in his arms as she happily played with her rag doll. The other children, silent and subdued, sat as though mesmerized by the tune and the singer.
    The first wave of self-consciousness Belle could ever remember feeling swept over her, and she colored. “I . . . I’m sorry if I was too loud,” she murmured, looking from her aunt to her uncle. “I forget myself when I’m singing.”
    “Ya weren’t too loud at all, Child,” Uncle Benjamin said, giving her a nod. “It ain’t often we get ta hear singin’, an’ it were right nice.”
    Thus assured, Belle regained her usual self-possession and, going up to her uncle, asked, “What time do we need to leave for church in the morning?”

Do your younger siblings eat more than you?
What time do you leave for church?
Do you think Uncle Benjamin and Aunt Lillian go to church?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - To the Work - Part 2

Good morning, Friday Fiction Fans,
It's a quite morning. Much quieter than last week. :) There are no little boys playing lego behind me and even our windows are shut because it was cooler last night.

After the craziness of last week, this week has been dull. And I've gotten a lot done. :) I do like that. It's kind of funny, I used to want something to be going on each week, but now I'm loving it when there is nothing and I can get so much done. I'm writing my thousand words each night (except for Wednesday when a Heart-Sister came down to visit), I'm working on some big projects that I hardly did a thing with last month and that I'm trying to get done by July. Just about everything is crossed off my "to-do" list which is really nice.

Now I know, you are all curious to know just what I have been writing. I'm sure some of you are hoping I've been working on TCR-6, while others are wondering if it might be more of the story about Dylan and Fern. (That story needs a working title by the way, so if you come up with anything, please let me know! It's getting cumbersome having to call it "the story about Dylan and Fern and the Woods.") A few of you could be wishing for more of Hymns in the Hills. So, just what have I been writing?
Well, I was working on another section for Hymns in the Hills, but then I found my paper with ideas for a blog story I had started last year. Now I'm working on that. It's going to be a longer story, but I think you'll like it. And no, I'm not going to tell you about it yet. Right now it's over 4 parts long and I don't think I've reached the 1/2 way mark.

I hope you enjoy the next part of this story.

Hymns in the Hills
To the Work
Part 2

    With that the younger boys had to be content. Aunt Lillian sent them out to feed the chickens and gather the eggs while the girls set about clearing away the dishes and washing things up. Belle, eager to help, coaxed Sade and Tabby into their room and helped them make the beds and hang up their clothes. As she often did at home, Belle soon broke into song.

“To the work! to the work! we are servants of God,
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.”

    The morning passed quickly for Belle; each thing was novel to her, and she found it all interesting. Two-year-old Benny was the hardest of the young ones to make friends with, for he clung to Jess or his mother’s skirts until Belle was almost in despair.
    “Offer ta take him outside,” Ali whispered.
    To Belle’s great delight, the little boy went right to her at that offer, and she received permission from Aunt Lillian to take the children out.
    “Go ‘long with her, Ali,” Aunt Lillian instructed. “Belle ain’t used ta things ‘round here yet, an’ I don’t reckon she’ll find it as easy as she thinks ta keep an eye on ‘em all.”
    Belle soon found that her aunt had been right, for once outside, the children scattered like dandelion seeds when they are blown. It took all of her ingenuity to gather them about her on the sunny slope and teach them a simple game. The younger twins, Si and Sade, refused to join in.
    “Si ain’t what folks call real friendly,” confided Ali when all Belle’s coaxing and smiles to the little fellow had been in vain. “He’s shy when he don’t know someone an’ likes ta stay away. An’ ‘course Sade, she goes with ‘im. Ye ain’t likely ta see one ‘thout the other ‘cept at night.”
    There was some difficulty with Kade and Rome, for both boys seemed more inclined to stir up trouble than to play the game. Finally Ali grabbed Kade’s arm and said, “Kade Russum, if’n ya don’t quit yer trouble makin’, I’m goin’ ta head up ta the fields and fetch home Pa er Zeke.” She turned to the younger boy. “Same goes fer you too, Rome.”
    Neither boy gave answer in words, but they settled down and played the game with the little ones, though they were both sulky and refused to talk to their sister.

    After lunch, when Kade and Rome had departed to the upper fields with food for their father and brothers, and the youngest ones had been put down for naps, Aunt Lillian sank wearily into her rocking chair and picked up her mending.
    “Auntie,” Belle said, going over and sitting in a nearby chair, “you look so tired. Won’t you go lie down and take a rest? We’ll keep the house quiet. Do Auntie. Mama does often when–” She swallowed hard and then went on with only a slight catch in her voice. “When she’s tired.”
    “Do, Ma,” Jess encouraged. “Ya know Kade and Rome’ll be gone fer hours, an’ the little ones are sleepin’. Ya ain’t had a rest fer so long.”
    Aunt Lillian looked about, and then down at the mending. “I reckon I kin this once. I am a might more tired’n usual today.”
    For several minutes the older girls sat in silence, the sisters glancing at each other and wondering how to entertain their cousin from the city. Suddenly Belle whispered, “Isn’t there something that Auntie would like to have done but hasn’t had time to do? Maybe something she used to do about the house?”
    Jess, Riss and Ali exchanged blank looks. At last Riss replied slowly, “She used to wash the windows every week, but she ain’t done that since Sade an’ Si were born. Now they only get washed once a year, if we get to it then.”
    Clapping her hands softly, Belle exclaimed in whispered tones, “Let’s wash the windows then! At least the ones in here. There are four of us, so two can work inside and two outside. Unless,” her face fell slightly, “there are other things we need to do instead.”
    Jess shook her head. “No, we ain’t got ta do other things, ‘less it’s the mendin’, but I reckon Ma’d like the windows clean more’n she would the mendin’ done. An’,” she added, looking critically down at the basket, “there ain’t much mendin’ neither.”
    Soon Ali and Belle were outside with rags and a pail of water while Jess and Riss took up their places inside. Under their willing hands the windowpanes soon began to glisten in the afternoon sun.
    Unable to keep back the song she had been humming all day, Belle broke into singing.
“To the work! to the work! there is labor for all,
For the kingdom of darkness and error shall fall;
And the name of Jehovah exalted shall be
In the loud swelling chorus, ‘Salvation is free!’”

Scrubbing the windows in time to her song, she launched into the chorus.
“Toiling on, toiling on,
Toiling on, toiling on,
Let us hope, and trust,
Let us watch, and pray,
And labor till the Master comes.”

    The windows shone as all four girls stepped down off the porch to look at them. “They’ll catch the setting sun now,” Belle remarked. “And they’ll shine like gold. Don’t you just love the way the sun sparkles on the glass? It always reminded Mama–” Belle’s voice broke, and it was some time before she could go on. “It reminded Mama about the streets of gold in Heaven, when the sun was making windows shine like gold. Maybe that’s why Auntie liked having them so clean. Perhaps they reminded her of that too.”
    When none of her cousins replied, Belle suggested they go inside and not say a word about what they had done. “How long do you think it will be before she notices?”

Have you ever done anything to surprise your mom?
Is there a certain siblings in your family that all the younger ones obey?
Do you like clean windows or do you care?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - To the Work - Part 1

It's a bit of a challenge trying to come up with something to say right now. I mean how many of you can write things that make sense when you have a ranch run by polices and General George Washington right behind you. As well as boat building, rocket launching, gold hunting, and whispered conversations which you are supposed to not only hear and understand all the time, but respond to at the appropriate times. :P Yep, two of my nephews are here playing lego in my room. My youngest nephew is sitting on my sister's lap in the other room. It's been a crazy week! We've had these three nephews since Wednesday morning. For most of Wednesday we also had my two nieces while my other nephew was in the hospital for dehydration. Now my brother, sis-in-law, Sissy, Funny Boy, and Ti-K went down to TX for the homeschool conference. We have these three boys until Sunday afternoon.

Like you may have figured out, it's been a different week. No time for writing now. Lots of time spent outside swinging, riding bikes, playing. Lots of books read, lego played with, and all kinds of things.

I really can't concentrate because Doodle Bug seems to start every-other sentence with my name. :) I guess I'll go then. ("Ooopsy, I lost my pants," says a lego man. "Oh, the door won't open. Now it will. I will go out on the porch.") That's a sample of what I'm listening to. :)

Enjoy! And yes, I still read the comments.

Hymns in the Hills
To the Work
Part 1

    When Belle opened her eyes in the morning, she couldn’t remember where she was at first. There were strange sounds in the next room, and then she felt a small hand pat her face. Quickly glancing over, the memory of yesterday’s experiences returned at the sight of a baby face staring into her own.
    “Oh, Mattie,” Belle whispered, sitting up and reaching out her hands. The little one went right to her, and Belle, with a sigh of delight, pulled her into her lap. “I’m going to love having you around.”
    The soft light of early morning drifted in through the curtains of the two windows, allowing Belle to notice that Jess and Riss were no longer in the room and that Ali and the others still slept. “I wonder if you are used to waking Ali up,” Belle murmured in Mattie’s ear. Then she frowned. “I don’t think you got a bath yesterday, Baby. You’re rather dirty. Perhaps there wasn’t time. Do you want to listen while I read my morning verse?”
    Mattie stuck her thumb in her mouth and leaned back against Belle’s shoulder for answer.
    Opening the little book which sat on her trunk, Belle read the next verse, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
    “That is a good verse for today, I think, Baby. I don’t know anything about life here, but I’m sure I can find things to do, and I am supposed to do them with my might because that will please Jesus.” Still talking to the little tot, Belle continued her musings. “We must ask Him to help us though, because His might is stronger than ours.” Bowing her head, she prayed for strength to do what she found to do that day.
    It took but a few minutes for Belle to complete her own toilet while Mattie, still silent and with her thumb in her mouth, sat on the bed and watched. When she was finished and her hair braided in its usual braid, Belle turned her attention to the baby again. “I know I could get you dressed,” she whispered, “but perhaps you are supposed to get a bath first. What shall we do, Baby?”
    Right then the door to the room opened and Jess stepped in. “C’mon girls, get–” She paused at the sight of Belle and Mattie. “Did she wake ya?”
    Belle shook her head. “No, and I would have gotten her dressed, but I didn’t know if she was supposed to get a bath first, since she didn’t have one last night.”
    “If we have time today she kin have a bath, like as not, if someone wants ta mess with it,” Jess answered shortly, tossing the baby’s clothes to Belle. “If’n ya want ta get her dressed, go ‘head.” Without waiting for a reply, Jess crossed the room and pushed open the curtains, letting the morning sun stream in. “C’mon,” she urged the little ones, pulling back the blankets and slipping nightgowns over tousled heads as the younger two sat up sleepily. “Ma an’ Riss ‘bout have breakfast ready, and Pa an’ the boys have ta git t’the fields ‘fore it gits hot.”
    Belle listened to this talk with only one ear as she quickly dressed the little one, whispering her verse over and over. Mattie, contrary to Jess’s expectation, gave no trouble but allowed the new hands to fasten her into clean clothes. “There,” Belle said, kissing the little face involuntarily, “now I think you’re ready.”
    The call to breakfast was heard from the other room, and, leaving the beds unmade and clothes lying about, much to Belle’s dismay, the girls hurried to the table.
    The boys were already there, and at the head, where Ez had eaten the night before, sat a tall, lean man. His shoulders were broad and his face unsmiling. There were some grey hairs about his temples, but the rest was brown, and he was clean shaven. Belle went up to him at once and greeted him with a kiss.
    “Good morning, Uncle Benjamin. I’m Belle, and I’m so glad you made it home safely last night. I was a bit worried when you didn’t come before bed time, but I prayed for you.” She smiled brightly up into his face.
    A bit of a smile crossed the man’s face as he looked at the bright faced girl beside him. “You slept well?”
    “Oh, yes, sir! I didn’t wake up once until this morning.”
    “Good. Sit there,” Uncle Benjamin motioned to an empty place on the bench beside Ali, “an’ we’ll eat.”
    Almost as soon as the last bowl of porridge was set on the table, the clatter of spoons began.
    But Belle looked around puzzled.
    “Don’t ya like porridge?” Uncle Benjamin asked her.
    “Yes, sir, but we forgot to thank the Lord for our food.”
    “Supposin’ we ain’t never learned how?”
    Belle lifted a shocked face, “But . . . but . . . then I could thank Him.”
    Silence had fallen about the table at Belle’s first words. Into the hush came the sound of a giggle.
    “Kade, ya want ta go outside?” asked the head of the family sternly.
    Giving a quick shake of his head, Kade looked down at the table.
    Uncle Benjamin turned back to his niece. “If’n yer wantin’ ta say grace, go ‘head.”
    To Belle, who was not timid, the thought of talking to her Savior before others was no trial. Hadn’t she done it often enough in prayer meeting? Her prayer was simple, thanking the Lord for the food and asking that He give them strength for the work of the day. When it was over, the interrupted meal commenced again, in silence.
    Only when it was over did Uncle Benjamin speak. “Zeke, Ez, let’s go. We got work ta do in the fields.”
    “Kin Rome an’ me go too, Pa?” asked Kade.
    “Ye kin come up with our lunch an’ I’ll see then.”

Would you have had the courage to offer to pray?
Do you like getting little ones ready for the day?
Will you be back?