Yesterday, I told you about Promise of Deer Run, Elaine Cooper’s second story in the Deer Run Saga. It releases on June 16. Today, Elaine Cooper shares about a childhood experience that left an indelible memory and teachable lesson.
I will never forget my childhood friend named DeDe. She was smart and had a great sense of humor. But that is not the main reason I remember DeDe. She is the one friend in elementary school who taught me about being a friend to the friendless.
There was a girl in our class—I’ll call her Jennifer—who was afflicted with a congenital problem that left her with difficulty speaking, an awkward gait, and an odd look to her face. Jennifer was shunned by most in the school, except for DeDe. She was totally unafraid of what others thought and she made every effort to be kind to Jennifer. Her bravery caused me to be kind to the shy classmate as well. I admit I was still a bit uncomfortable hanging out with Jennifer, and it took patience on my part to wait until Jennifer could painstakingly speak even just a few words. But DeDe always cheered Jennifer on in her attempts to communicate. It was such a lesson in kindness to me.
In Promise of Deer Run, the character of Sarah Thomsen befriends the social outcast of the village—Nathaniel Stearns. The young veteran is seven years her senior, but Sarah has memories of the kindness that Nathaniel had extended to her when she was a little girl. It was a kindness never forgotten. Sarah looked past the recluse who seemed so different awaiting the return of his father from war. Many in the town laughed behind Nathaniel’s back. Why would this veteran who frequented the local tavern on a regular basis and who still believed his father was alive, be of a sound mind? Even the churchgoers snickered and avoided him like the plague.
But not Sarah. She saw past the exterior to the heart and soul of Nathaniel Stearns. She dared to speak to him. She dared to befriend the friendless.
It reminds me of DeDe looking past the physical anomalies of Jennifer.
A few years ago a friend from high school told me they found out Jennifer had become a nurse, helping others in their need. I was amazed but pleased—and I remembered DeDe leaving her comfort zone of hanging out with the “cool” kids. I sometimes wonder if DeDe was the one who had given Jennifer hope for a future, years before on the playground at school.
I wonder how many other lives can be changed for the better by befriending the friendless. I pray that I will be the brave one.
Award-winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ, and the history of the American Revolution. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.
Her upcoming releases include Saratoga Letters (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, October 2016) and Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016)
Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
Last fall my oldest son, Jeff, and his wife, Jill, announced that their prayers for another baby had been answered— but not just one baby. Four!
Their quadruplets, three boys and a girl, were born mid-February and are all
growing and thriving. All but the smallest one is home. The tiny guy will be
having some needed surgery but is expected to do well. We all thank God for these newest little ones and for the huge team of doctors, nurses, and staff that assisted in the birth and in their care at the NICU for several weeks. We also appreciate the care the smallest one is getting at Boston Children’s Hospital as he awaits surgery.
Wrapping one’s head around four premature newborns joining a family with two active children four and under is daunting. Since the family lives over six hundred miles away, my visits to help are limited. Jill’s mother has been a life-saver, traveling there from the mid-west several times to help. I just returned from my second visit to their home. Generous people from their church and my son’s workplace have contributed meals non-stop. They have been blessed to find a wonderful helper/sitter who is equally adept at handling babies, a toddler, and a pre-schooler— and she’s a trained nurse. Other friends have also volunteered to assist.
Having children one at a time is life changing. Adding four at once is mind-blowing. The walls of their home are lined with bins of clothes of varying sizes, diapers, wet wipes, bottles. Other accoutrements are car seats for infants and some for children, boppy pillows, sleeping slings, strollers, cribs, high chairs— you get the picture. It’s everything times four. There are also two changing tables and rocking chairs.
Prayer ~ When she learned that they were expecting quads, Jill began a prayer support group that she kept updated with information as her pregnancy progressed. I did also. This prayer group has been such an encouragement and faithful in storming heaven for the family and especially these new babies.
Feedings are challenging ~Jill furnished pumped breast-milk to the hospital while the babies were there and still provides a supply for the little guy. She pumps five times a day. Each evening Jeff and I prepared the 18 bottles needed for three babies every day, each child has different amounts. Jeff, the math whiz, calculates and adds just the right amount of dry formula to create “fortified breast milk” and the totals needed for each baby. My job was to have the 18 bottles and all the four inserts cleaned and ready to go. We color coded the tops for each specific baby to keep it straight. The person feeding records how much each baby takes in at every feeding—also what they put out, but we won’t go there. When the youngest comes home the numbers of bottles go up. I helped with changings and feedings as did Jeff when he was available. Jill, bless her heart, fed all three babies at the 3am feeding with the aid of three boppy pillows. She’s one tired mamma.
Transportation ~ The kiddos have 2 double strollers to accommodate their infant car-seats. They also have a quad stroller for when they can sit up. With a four-year old and a two-year old who require car-seats and now four more little ones, it takes more than your average SUV or mini-van to transport everyone. So now they have added a Ford Transit 350 XLT to their driveway. It has room for all six car-seats with space to spare.
Outside Help ~ Jeff and Jill were not the first couple to welcome quads. Hence, there are strollers and all sorts of devices designed to assist parents of multiples. Jill is part of an internet support group of quad moms that share important information like specific health concerns pertaining to preemies and multiples, as well as how to deal with a multitude of other issues. There is even a quad support group for dads. Friends of theirs have not only helped with meals, but with transporting their preschooler, arranging play-dates, and donating clothing and equipment.
Siblings ~ The toddler and two-year-old have been so sweet welcoming their little siblings. And remarkably, for young children, they are adjusting very well well having less of their mom and dad’s attention.
Watching how Jeff and Jill have and are adjusting to their new life fills me with awe and pride. They are doing a wonderful job in spite of being sleep deprived and overworked.
Jeff and Jill’s faith, patience, grace, love for their family, and sense of humor are an asset every day.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10Read More
In Williamsburg, Virginia we start the Christmas season on the day of Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination, always held the Sunday of the first full weekend in December. Early in the day, it’s fun to take a stroll down Duke of Gloucester (DOG) Street and view all the unique and beautiful wreaths and swags on the doorways. They are, for the most part, created from fruit, dried flowers, pine boughs, and plants. These decorations are closely monitored throughout the entire Christmas season and freshened whenever needed.
This year the weather was spectacular, mild and sunny, which drew even more crowds than usual. While there we observed a fun colonial auction. A Colonial Williamsburg interpreter served as the entertaining Auctioneer. Many lovely and interesting colonial items were auctioned off to the hundreds of folks gathered on the lawn not far from the magazine.
This year also was a first for the recently installed ice rink, Liberty’s Ice Pavilion, which many people of all ages were enjoying. There were various stations up and down the street where visitors could purchase cider or hot chocolate.
When darkness came, the smell of bonfires and the charming lit cressets along DOG Street filled the air.
The evening was culminated with fireworks set from three locations; The Palace Green, The Magazine, and the Capitol.
Our next Christmas event each year is attending one of the five magnificent Christmas concerts at The Williamsburg Community Chapel directed by the incomparable Ted Cornell. The concert began with the entrance of the young member’s who serve as part of the Colonial Williamsburg Fifers and Drummers, boys and girls ages 10 to 18. The evening is filled with both traditional and more modern Christmas music by the large adult and children’s choirs and an orchestra. It is a wonderful celebration of our God coming to earth as a human, Jesus, to redeem us from our sins. His free gift of salvation is available to every person who accepts Christ as their Savior.
We tried something new that was lots of fun this year; we visited Busch Gardens “Christmas Town”. What a wonderful time of enjoying all the beautiful lights and decorations throughout the park. There were a number of live shows, all with a Christmas theme. One show, Gloria! shared the birth of Christ. Scrooge was based on the Dickens story. There was an ice show and others with dancing and singing.
We brought in the New Years watching the ball drop at midnight in Times Square. Our family always has the traditional meal of Hoppin John to bring in the New Year.
See more about Hoppin John at: http://janetgrunst.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=645&action=edit
Now, we celebrate Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, sometimes called Three King’s Day. Epiphany is the Christian celebration that commemorates the revelation of the birth of Jesus to the wider world as told in the story of three wise men visiting the newborn Jesus with gifts in Bethlehem.
May your 2016 be blessed, and may you begin your new year opening your heart to all that the Lord has for you.
Friends and family will gather this Thursday, November 26, to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many will enjoy a lavish meal, engage in time-honored events, and possibly watch a football game.
Thanksgiving celebrations have been practiced in many nations for hundreds of years. Our celebrations are rooted in English traditions of celebrating after a harvest. But Thanksgiving Day also has religious origins.
Virginia claims an earlier Thanksgiving celebration at what is now known as Berkeley Plantation. On December 4, 1619, where Captain John Woodlief and the company of men dropped to their knees and prayed:
“We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival,
at the place assigned for plantacon (plantation)
in the land of Virginia,
shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy
as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
AMERICA’S FIRST THANKSGIVING ~ BERKELEY PLANTATION
Some of us may be experiencing a bittersweet Thanksgiving.
Are you grieving because you have lost a loved one to death or hurting from a broken relationship? Are you anxious because you or someone close to you is fighting a disease or illness? Maybe you’re heartbroken because of a child or grandchild’s trial. Perhaps there are disappointments due to a job or opportunity loss, or fears resulting from financial woes. Some of us even worry about what might happen in the future ― events which may never materialize.
God tells us “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
Does that make sense? How do we give thanks when it feels like our world is falling apart? We are to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. In the midst of whatever you are going through Scripture can be very encouraging.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Praising God is a wonderful antidote to fight discouragement or depression. As you enumerate the many things you can thank God about, a subtle but miraculous event occurs.
While your circumstances may not be altered, your attitude as you take the journey will be transformed.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV
Have a blessed Thanksgiving
in the knowledge that God loves you.
Anne Graham Lotz, and other Christian leaders asked for Americans to participate in
May Day! May Day! A Distress Call For Prayer.
This commitment involved setting aside the nine days between the Day of the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost, (May 15th to May 23rd, 2015) for repentance, prayer, and fasting.
Fasting and praying are Bible-based disciplines that Jews and Christians have practiced throughout history, a spiritual discipline not relegated only to the early church.
When the British Parliament ordered an embargo of Boston in May, 1774, to begin June 1st, the Burgesses of Virginia passed a resolution protesting this act and set aside that very day to seek God with fasting and prayer.
On March 16th, 1776, the Continental Congress recommended:
“that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies;”
Our national leaders also called for days of prayer at other times throughout our history, including in 1812 and during the Civil War.
Today was the final day of May Day! May Day! A Distress Call For Prayer. For those people who made the commitment to join Anne Graham Lots and thousands of others in this call for prayer, each day they received suggestions for guided prayer and video talks ranging from 4-16 minutes.
My husband and I chose to answer this call, and found it to be an incredible blessing. The prayers furnished each day were Spirit led. It was time well spent and we would do it again.
It is never too late to set aside a time to pray for our nation, because the need is great.
On this Memorial Day weekend, when our minds and hearts remember the men and women who gave everything to defend and preserve this nation, we can do our part by committing to pray for God’s blessing.
For more information:
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day takes me back to 2013 when I finally had an opportunity to go to Ireland. I found a tour that would allow me to visit parts
Ireland was as beautiful as all the pictures, travelogues, and stories promised.
The people were friendly, the food delicious, and the scenery spectacular. There are many delightful places I sojourned but here I’ll share just a few.
One stop was The Giants Causeway World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Here you can walk
on over 40,000 hexagonal basaltic columns that resulted
from volcanic eruptions. As one might expect, there is a legend that tells of the giant who built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight a Scottish giant. It is no surprise that one can also find similar basalt formations across the water in Fingals Cave on the Scottish Island of Staffa.
In Dublin I visited Trinity College Library to see the famed Book of Kells.
These colorful illuminated medieval Gospels were produced in a monastery in the early 8th century on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, in honor of Saint Columba and later taken to Ireland. While there are 680 illuminated pages of the medieval Gospels, the library only displays two of the current four volumes at a time, one showing an illustration and the other displaying typical text pages. The library itself is a sight to behold with its mammoth book filled cases stretching to the ceiling. Dozens of busts of well known authors are mounted at the edge of each aisle.
Traveling around Dublin you will spot the famous colorful Dublin Doors, of eighteenth
century Georgian homes. Strict building guidelines governed the homes making them closely resemble each other, so residents began painting their front doors vibrant colors and installing ornate door-knockers to show their individuality.
Driving through Belfast, you will see many vivid murals of scenes and people painted on the sides of buildings
. These paintings remind us of the three decades in Northern Ireland called The Troubles, a period of continual strife between factions wanting
independence from, or remaining loyal to, Britain. Many efforts at finding an agreeable political solution failed until the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have enjoyed greater peace and prosperity in recent years.