The Victorian Doll

Sherry_Victorian_Doll_with_Hat_Reduced[2]The ad in the magazine looked inviting!  A Victorian doll for $4.98.  I’d seen the ad before.  She was dressed like a lady with a straw-rimmed hat.  It made me think of my mother.

Mother’s weakness for dolls was not new.  I could not remember a Christmas when she didn’t dress a doll for someone.  She stitched and sewed and took delight in creating every detail.  Then she filled its heart with love for some deserving soul.

Mother handed me the ad.  “Look, Sissy,” she said.  “Isn’t she sweet?  And she’s 17 inches tall.”  Here eyes sparkled with encouragement.  The day had been for Christmas plans but Mom had a plan of her own.  I smiled to myself.

“Is this what you want for Christmas?” I asked.  It didn’t seem like much.  I thought of the beautiful dolls downtown.  They were wonderfully dressed and very expensive–a much more suitable gift.  But Mother insisted she wanted that particular doll.  I could see my persuasion would not prevail.  I agreed to order the doll.

When the box arrived, I was skeptical.  It was packed in two outer cartons that didn’t look large enough to hold a doll.  I unpacked the contents.  The item had definitely been folded, spindled and mutilated.  Taiwan and Japan had never seen anything like this!  It was of very poor quality and had been badly damaged in shipment.  What a disappointment!

I laid the doll on the table.  All day I glanced back and forth at the doll as I went about my housework.  It looked like a waif or an orphan.  My mother’s Christmas gift!  What would I do?

I studied the alternatives.  I could throw it in the trash or return it to the sender and demand my money back–plus shipping and handling.  I could call the Better Business Bureau.  It was certainly not like the advertisement.

I thought and thought and thought.  God must have a purpose in giving it to me.

I finally called my mother.  She would be coming to town for Christmas.  She bubbled with enthusiasm.  She was looking forward to this doll. What could I possibly say?

“Mother,” I began, “your DOLL arrived. . .and I think she’s awfully lucky to have a mother like you.”

I went on to explain that the doll had a few things wrong with her–her right leg was broken just below the knee–her little “china” leg.  But not beyond repair.  I thought it could be glued. Then, the whole left side of her chest was caved in.  She’d need a little stuffing in about half of her body.  Her hair was matted and ugly.  A comb and some ribbons would do.  And her hat was smashed beyond repair.  She’d need a brand new hat.  The dress could use a little trim–perhaps some lace on the faded gauze would change her whole appearance.  I waited for a response.

“Oh, Sissy!” she said willingly, “I can make her a hat.  We’ll make her a brand new hat.  And we’ll glue her leg and sew a dress and I can fix her hair.”  Her voice was all aglow.

In a few short sentences, the Victorian Doll was adopted, restored and greatly loved.  My eyes fill with tears as I hung up the phone.

“Oh, God,” I cried.  “Teach me to love with that kind of love, the kind of love that You would have; to see value and worth in common things; to restore and to touch and revive things in this world for You.”

by Sherry Goodwin

(This is a vintage tract I wrote over 30 years ago about my mother who is now 93.  God is still using this story today for His glory!)


“Only One Life, Twill Soon Be Past”

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in “that day” my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill.
Living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me, Lord, with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me, Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say, “Thy will be done;”
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say, “twas worth it all;”
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

 extra stanza  

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.

 Charles Thomas Studd (C. T. Studd, 1860-1931)
 English Missionary to China , India , and Africa



“Fits and Starts”

Photo of Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss
Elizabeth Payson Prentiss (1818-1879) was an American author, well- known for her hymn “More Love to Thee, O Christ”.  She also wrote Stepping Heavenward.

Elizabeth was the daughter of the Congregationalist pastor Edward Payson.  Living in New England, Christianity during that time was decidedly Puritan and the Payson family exhibited evangelistic, missional and philanthropic elements.  Elizabeth made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ in 1831 and joined the Bleecker Street Presbyterian Church in New York where the family lived.

From her childhood, Elizabeth had sharp mental abilities, great sympathy for others, and exceptional perceptiveness.  She was writing stories and poems by the age of 16 and contributed articles for “The Youth’s Companion”,  a New England religious periodical.  Miss Payson moved to Richmond, VA to teach at a boarding school.She was married in 1845 to George Lewis Prentiss, a pastor in New Bedford, MA.  Elizabeth Prentiss had six children, four of whom survived infancy.  She wrote her first book, Little Suzy’s Six Birthdays and published it in 1853.   In 1856s, she wrote the hymn, “More Love to Thee, O Christ” following the near-fatal illness of her daughter, Minnie.

Her husband, George Lewis Prentiss resigned his church in New York because of failing health and the family went to Europe for two years.  In 1860, they returned to New York where George resumed his pastorate and held a chair at Union Theological Seminary.  Her book, Stepping Heavenward, was published in 1869.

Elizabeth died in Dorset, VT at age 59 where the family later settled.
George published The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882) with his wife’s words in the books preface:  “Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls.”  Here is an excerpt from the book:

“You ask if I “ever feel that religion is a sham”?  No, never.  I know it is a reality.  If you ask if I am ever staggered by the inconsistencies of professing Christians, I say yes, I am often made heartsick by them  but heartsickness always makes me run to Christ, and one good look at Him pacifies me.  This is in face my panacea for every ill ; and as to my own sinfulness, that would certainly overwhelm me if I spent much time in looking at it.  But it is a monster whose face I do not love to see ; I turn from its hideousness to the beauty of His face who sins not, and the sight of “you lovely Man” ravishes me.  But at your age I did this only by fits and starts, and suffered as you do.  So I know how to feel for you, and what to ask for you.  God purposely sickens us of man and of self, that we may learn to look long at Jesus.”

Elizabeth Prentiss fulfilled the exhortation in the Bible concerning those who speak the word of God:  “Consider the outcome of their ways of life and imitate their faith.”  (Hebrews 13:7)

Such was the life of Elizabeth Payson Prentiss.

What do you cherish?

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), the English hymnwriter wrote sweet words when she penned STARLIGHT THROUGH THE SHADOWS. 
Here is an excerpt from Chapter VII:  The Lord’s Cherishing.

“Then think how “ a nurse cherisheth her children.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7.)
That is, a “ gentle ” and wise one. How the little ailments are watched and attended to ; how the little weary heads are laid on her shoulders and stroked to
sleep ; how the little meals are regulated and given ; never forgotten,—who ever
heard of such a thing ! How the little garments are kept clean and comfortable,
changed and mended, as need may be. How the nursery fire is looked after
(while all the while the guard is kept on the bars), so that the room should
not be too hot or too cold. How the little bodies are cared for and loved every
inch, even the little fingers and toes ! How the little fancies are borne with and
entered into, not unheeded or scorned ; and the silly little questions patiently
answered, and the baby lessons taught, and the small tempers managed, and
checked, and forgiven ! That is cherishing. Need we trace its close resemblance
to the dealings of our infinitely patient and gentle Lord ?”

Frances never married and never had children.  Being the youngest of six children, she had nieces and nephews and spent considerable time with them as time and health permitted.  Frances loved children and made them a priority in her life.  She wrote and published a body of works for children.

scan0001I was thinking about my youngest grandson, Noah Fredrick who just celebrated his tenth birthday.  Being a Nana is such a privilege and we have spent many
happy hours together since he was born.  When I first began taking care of him he was a new-born and where has the time gone?  So many wonderful memories between a grandma and her boy. . .lots of firsts:  first steps, first words, first songs.  I have from the time he was an infant nurtured him in the fear and admonition of the LORD Jesus Christ.  And when he was just three years old, God made Noah His own dear child through Jesus Christ, His son.

As I was reading through this paragraph again today, I could identify with all that FRH wrote about child-rearing;  the things that were so important over 100 years ago are things I have experienced with Noah in his lifetime.  Each line she wrote reminded me of times with my little guy.  All of this was God’s doing, of course,  not my own.  I truly cherish this little boy who will soon become a man.  Thank You, LORD, for Noah Fredrick, my youngest grandson!

Wonderful Ratatouille

Have you ever seen the movie RATATOUILLE?  My grandson, Noah Fredrick, introduced me to it and I loved the DVD.  It is the story of a little rat who learns to cook and his adventures with a young chef in a restaurant.  I have always wondered about a  recipe for Ratatouille. . .and then my friend Sonja sent one to me:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves (pealed & sliced)
2 large onions (slice and half or quarter slices–Vidalia onions are excellent)
Fresh sliced mushrooms (optional)
2 medium red bell peppers (cored, seeded & sliced in sections)
6 medium unpeeled tomatoes (cut into about 8 pieces, remove core if desired)  1 1  small can of tomato paste
3 medium unpeeled eggplant (cut 1/2″ thick, then cut into quarters)
3 medium unpeeled zucchini (slice 1/2″ thick rounds)
1 cup of kale leaves chopped (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves chopped                    Ratatouille Photo downsized
6 to 8 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup of sugar


Step 1:  Sautee garlic in olive oil over medium heat until garlic starts to brown and becomes fragrant.
Step 2:  Turn heat down to low and add onions, mushrooms if used, bell peppers.  Sautee until onions start to brown.
Step 3:  Add tomatoes and cover until they become soft  and have released liquid.
Step 4:  Add eggplant, zucchini, tomato paste, parsley, basil, thyme (if used), sale, pepper, and sugar.  Stir to combine and after covering the pot, cook on low heat allowing vegetables to become tender.  Stir occasionally making sure this vegetable stew is not burning on bottom of pan.  Cook about 40 minutes.
Step 5:
Stew should become nice and thick.  When the stew is done it can be adjusted to taste with more salt and pepper.  Serve in bowls warm.  This is also very tasty with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

with slices of garlic bread!

I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I plan to soon, Sonja.  Thank you for sending this to me!

The Blessedness of Quietness

Quietness, like mercy, is twice blessed: it blesses him who is quiet, and it blesses the man’s friends and neighbors. Talk is good in its way. “There is a time to speak,” but there is also “a time to be silent,” and in silence many of life’s sweetest blessings come.

An Italian proverb says, “He who speaks does sow; he who holds his tongue does reap.” We all know the other saying which rates speech as silver—and silence as gold. There are in the Scriptures, too, many strong persuasives to quietness, and many exhortations against noise. It was prophesied of the Christ: “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.” As we read the Gospels we see that our Lord’s whole life, was a fulfillment of this ancient prophecy. He made no noise in the world. He did his work without excitement, without parade, without confusion. He wrought as the light works—silently, yet pervasively and with resistless energy.

Quietness is urged, too, on Christ’s followers. “Study to be quiet,” writes an apostle. “Busybodies” the same apostle exhorts to “quiet working, they may eat their own bread.” Prayers are to be made for rulers “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” Another apostle, writing to Christian women, speaks of their true adornment: “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” Solomon rates quietness in a home, far above the best of luxuries: “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet—than a house full of feasting, with strife.”

A prophet declares the secret of power in these words: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength;” and likewise says, “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.” It is set down also as one of the blessings of God’s people, that they shall dwell in “quiet resting-places.”

These are but a few of very many scriptural statements concerning quietness—but they are enough to indicate several lessons that we may profitably consider.

We should be quiet toward God. The expression “Rest in the Lord,” in one of the Psalms, is in the margin “Be silent to the Lord.” We are not to speak back to God—when he speaks to us. We are not to reason with him or dispute with him—but are to bow in silent and loving acquiescence before him: “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is in those providences which cut sorely into our lives, and require sacrifice and loss on our part—that we are specially called to this duty.

There is a moving illustration of silence to God in the case of Aaron when his sons had offered strange fire, and had died before the Lord for their disobedience and sacrilege. The record says, “And Aaron held his peace.” He even made no natural human outcry of grief. He accepted the terrible penalty as unquestionably just—and bowed in the acquiescence of faith.

This silence to God should be our attitude in all times of trial, when God’s ways with us are bitter and painful. Why should we complain at anything that our Father may do? We have no right to utter a word of murmuring, for he is our sovereign Lord, and our simple duty is instant, unquestioning submission. Then we have no reason to complain, for we know that all God’s dealings with us—are in loving wisdom. His will is always best for us, whatever sacrifice or suffering it may cost.

We should train ourselves to be quiet also toward men. There are times when we should speak, and when words are mighty and full of blessing. Universal silence would not be a blessing to the world. Among the most beneficent of God’s gifts to us—is the power of speech. And we are to use our tongues. There are some people who are altogether too quiet in certain directions, and toward certain people.

There is no place where good words are more fitting—than between husband and wife—yet there are husbands and wives who pass weeks and months together in almost unbroken silence. They will travel long journeys side by side in the railway-car, and utter scarcely a word in the whole distance. They will walk to and from church, and neither will speak. In the home-life they will pass whole days with nothing more in the form of speech between them, than an indifferent remark about the weather, a formal inquiry and a monosyllabic answer.

“According to Milton, Eve kept silence in Eden to hear her husband talk,” said a gentleman to a lady, adding in a melancholy tone, “Alas! there have been no Eves since!” “Because,” quickly retorted the lady, “there have been no husbands worth listening to!” Perhaps the retort was just. Husbands certainly ought to have something to say when they come into their homes from the busy world outside. They are usually genial enough, in the circles of business or politics or literature, and are able to talk so as to interest others. Ought they not to seek to be as genial in their own homes, especially toward their own wives? Most women, too, are able to talk in general society. Why, then, should a wife fall into such a mood of silence the moment she and her husband are alone? It was Franklin who wisely said, “As we must account for every idle word—so must we for every idle silence.” We must not forget that silence may be sadly overdone, especially in homes.

There are other silences that are also to be deplored. People keep in their hearts unspoken, the kindly words they might utter— and ought to utter—in the ears of the weary, the soul-hungry and the sorrowing about them. The ministry of good words is one of wondrous power—yet many of us are wretched misers, with our gold and silver coin of speech. Is any miserliness so base? Ofttimes we allow hearts to starve close beside us, though in our very hands we have abundance to feed them.

One who attends the funeral of any ordinary man and listens to what his neighbors have to say about him as they stand by his coffin—will hear enough kind words spoken to have brightened whole years of his life. But how was it when the man was living, toiling and struggling, among these very people? Ah! they were not so faithful then with their grateful, appreciative words. They were too quiet toward him then. Silence was overdone.

Quietness is carried too far—when it makes us disloyal to the hearts that crave our words of love and sympathy.

But there is a quietness toward others which all should cultivate. There are many words spoken, which ought never to pass the door of the lips. There are people who seem to exercise no restraint whatever, on their speech. They allow every passing thought or feeling—to take form in words. They never think what the effect of their words will be—how they will fly like arrows shot by some careless marksman and will pierce hearts they were never meant to hurt! Thus friendships are broken, and injuries are inflicted, which can never be repaired! Careless words are forever making grief and sorrow in tender spirits. We pity the mute whom sometimes we meet. Muteness is more blessed by far than speech—if all we can do with our marvelous gift is to utter bitter, angry, abusive or sharp, cutting words”

“I heedlessly opened the cage
And suffered my bird to go free,
And, though I besought it with tears to return,
It nevermore came back to me.

It nests in the wildwood and heeds not my call;
Oh, the bird once at liberty—who can enthrall?
“I hastily opened my lips
And uttered a word of disdain

That wounded a friend, and forever estranged
A heart I would die to regain.
But the bird once at liberty—oh who can enthrall?
And the word that’s once spoken—oh who can recall?”

Rose Cooke in one of her poems—”Unreturning”, shows in very strong phrase, the irreparableness of the harm done or the hurt given by unkind words. Flowers fade—but there will be more flowers another year—-just as sweet ones, too, as those that are gone. Snow melts and disappears—but it will snow again. The crystals of dew on leaf and grassblade vanish when the sun rises—but tomorrow morning there will be other dewdrops as brilliant as those which are lost. But words once uttered—can never be said over to be changed, nor can they ever be gotten back.

Another kind of common talk that had better be repressed into complete silence, is the miserable gossip which forms so large a part—let us confess it and deplore it—of ordinary parlor conversation! Few appreciative and kindly things are spoken of absent ones—but there is no end to criticism, snarling and backbiting! The most unsavory bits of scandal are served with relish, and no pure character is armored against the virulence and maliciousness of the tongues that chatter on as innocently and glibly as if they were telling sweet stories of good. It certainly would be infinitely better, if all this kind of speech were reduced to utter silence. It were better that the ritual of fashion prescribed some sort of a speechless pantomime for social calls and receptions, in place of any conversation whatever, if there is nothing to be talked about but the faults and foibles and the characters and doings of absent people!

Will not someone preach a crusade against backbiting? Shall we not have a new annual “week of prayer” to cry to God for the gift of silence—when we have nothing good or true or beautiful to say? No victories should be more heroically battled for, or more thankfully recorded, than victories of silence when we are tempted to speak unhallowed words of others!

Silence is better, also, than any words of bickering and strife. There is no surer, better way of preventing quarrels—than by the firm restraining of speech. “A soft answer turns away anger;” but if we cannot command the “soft answer” when another person is angry, the second-best thing is not to speak at all. “Grievous words stir up anger.” Many a long, fierce strife that has produced untold pain and heart-breaking, would never have been anything more than a momentary flash of anger—if one of the parties had practiced the holy art of silence.

Someone tells of the following arrangement which worked successfully in preventing family quarrels: “You see, sir,” said an old man, speaking of a couple in his neighborhood who lived in perfect harmony, “they had agreed between themselves that whenever he came home a little contrary and out of temper—he would wear his hat on the back of his head, and then she never said a word; and if she came in a little cross and crooked, she would throw her shawl over her left shoulder—and he never said a word.” So they never quarreled.

He who has learned to be silent, spares himself ofttimes from confusion. Many men have owed their reputation for great wisdom, quite as much to their silence as to their speech. They have not spoken the many foolish things of the glib talker, and have uttered only few and well-considered words. Says Carlyle, denouncing the rapid verbiage of shallow praters, “Even triviality and imbecility that can sit silent—how respectable are they in comparison!”

An English writer gives the story of a groom wedded to a lady of wealth. He was in constant fear of being ridiculed by his wife’s guests. A clergyman said to him, “Wear a black coat—and hold your tongue.” The new husband followed the advice, and soon was considered one of the finest gentlemen in the country. The power of keeping quiet would be worth a great deal to many people, whose tongues are forever betraying their ignorance, and revealing their true character.

All true culture, is toward the control and the restraining of speech. Christian faith gives a quietness, which in itself is one of life’s holiest blessings. It gives the quietness of peace—a quietness which the wildest storms cannot disturb, which is a richer possession than all the world’s wealth or power.

“Study to be quiet.” The lesson may be hard to many of us—but it is well worth all the cost of learning. It brings strength and peace to the heart. Speech is good—but ofttimes silence is better. He who has learned to hold his tongue—is a greater conqueror than the warrior who subdues an empire! The power to be silent under provocations and wrongs, and in the midst of danger and alarms—is the power of the noblest, royalest victoriousness!

J.R. Miller, 1888

Begin Today.

Is there nothing that Christ, as your friend,–your Lord, your Savior, wants you to do that you are leaving undone today?  Do you doubt one instant, with His high and deep love for your soul, that He wants you to pray?  And do you pray?

Do you doubt one instant that it is His will that you should honor and help and bless all the men about you who are His brethren?  And are you doing anything like that?

Do you doubt one instant that He wants you to be pure in deed and word and thought?  And are you pure?

Do you doubt one instant that His command is for you, openly to own Him and declares that you are His servants before the world?  And have you done it?

These are questions which make the whole matter clear.  No, not in quiet lanes, nor in the bright temple courts, as once He spake, and not from blazing heavens as men sometimes seem to expect–not so does Christ speak to us.  And yet He speaks.  I know what He–there in all His glory–He, here in my heart–wants me to do today, and I know that I am not mistaken in my knowledge.  It is no guess of mine.   It is His voice that tells me.

Phillips Brooks

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) was an
Episcopal pastor and author who served
at Trinity Church in Boston, MA.  He wrote
the hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem and
was a leading advocate against slavery in the
Civil War in the USA.    His works are still
widely known and read today.