Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chapter Five

The next morning the women were awake and out of bed early.  As they dressed, Amanda said to the others, “I plan on backing my things today.  Riley will not be working tomorrow and he can help me move them.  I know he will be glad to help you move your things over to the other building in town when you are ready. I will stay here with Emily while you all go to take a look at the building.  I don’t think she is ready to go to town yet.”
“That is a good idea,” said Sarah.  “I like the building and the rooms upstairs but I want Hannah and Beth to see them first.  I don’t think Emily minds where she lives as long as she is with us and out of view of others.  I had told Will I would meet him there this morning.  We need to decide what furniture to take and what else we will need to get Will to make for us.  Jacques can help him with that, too.  Did you know that Jacques has been making more of the carvings like the ones he made for us?  He talked Ben into selling them in the store.  I must say that they are beautiful and so lifelike.  He brings that same craft to the making of furniture too.  He has made a few pieces so far and I think he will work on this in his spare time.”
Working together the women quickly made their breakfast of eggs and bread with fresh milk.  Emily again joined them at the table for their simple meal.
“We’ll clean up.  You go on down and meet Will.  The sooner you make a decision, the sooner we can decide what you will need,” said Amanda.
The other women agreed and left to walk the few blocks to town to meet Will. 
Amanda heated water and put the dishes in the warm soapy water.  She washed and Emily dried the dishes and they were soon finished. 
“Come with me into the bedroom and you can help me pack,” said Amanda.  “I don’t have too much except for my clothes and a few other items.  As we pack, we will choose some clothes for you.  I know they won’t be as fine as what you used to have but I think they will work for now.”
“Oh, Mandy, you don’t have to give me your clothes,” Emily said.  “I don’t need anything except maybe one dress.”
“Sarah is too tall and Beth and Hannah are too short!  So my clothes are the most likely to fit you, and everyone likes to have a change now and then.  I am sure that we can find several things for you to wear.  I don’t know if my shoes will fit but we will see.  If not, we will get you a pair from the store.”
“You all are so nice to me.  I just cannot believe how giving you all are.  I don’t deserve it!”
“Emily, remember we talked yesterday and last night, none of us deserves God’s mercy and grace but we receive it gladly and we gladly share what we have with you.  Now let’s get started.”
Amanda’s trunk was already in the bedroom and she opened it up and took out the quilts and other items stored there.  She began to lay the items that belonged to her on the bed.
“Which dress do you like the best?” she asked.
“OH, just give me the oldest one or one you don’t like,” said Emily.
“Nonsense,” said Amanda.  “I want you to have one that you like.  Here, I think this blue one will look good on you. Let’s try it on.”
Emily had worn one of Amanda’s nightgowns since she had shown up on their doorstep and this was the first time that she would put on regular clothes.  Amanda found her the undergarments that she would need and helped her dress.  The dress was a little loose on her since she had lost so much weight but otherwise, it was a perfect fit. 
“Oh, that looks so good on you!  Much better than it did on me,” said Amanda.  “Here, sit on the bed and I will brush your hair.”
Emily obediently sat down while Amanda brushed her hair.  Amanda remembered the elaborate styles that she had worn every day and thought how changed she was.  Her hair had always been beautiful, healthy and shiny where now it lay lank and dull.  Amanda was sure that proper food and rest would restore Emily to her former beauty. 
“This dress looks too nice.  I need something to work in the house, cleaning and such,” said Emily. 
“Well, I have several things that you can wear..  Here is a skirt and blouse and then this green dress is one of my older ones.  I always used it when I cleaned back home,” said Amanda.  “Now try on a pair of my shoes so we can see if they fit.  I don’t have too many pairs of shoes, just a pair of boots and two other pairs.  We might just want to buy you some.”
“But I don’t have any money.  I can just wear these slippers.  I won’t be going out,” said Emily.
“If you are helping in the house by cleaning and cooking, Sarah will consider that you are doing your part and I am sure that she will pay for the shoes.  Or I will be glad to pay for them.  Don’t worry, we won’t get a really expensive pair but you have to have at least one pair.  It rains a lot here and it will be much colder.  You couldn’t go out without shoes and you really need them in the house too.”
The women were still looking at Amanda’s clothes and folding some to put in the trunk, when there was a loud banging at the door. 
“Oh, who could that be?” cried Emily.  “I am so frightened!  Please don’t let anyone in to see me!”
“Hush, it will be all right.  Stay in here and I will go and see who it is,” said Amanda.
Amanda hurried to the front door and asked, “Who is it?”
“Open up!”  said a loud voice. 
“Not until you tell me who you are,” Amanda was a little alarmed.  She was still a little nervous since her kidnapping although she tried not to show it.
“For goodness sake, open the door!  It’s J.T.”
Amanda quickly opened the door because she wanted to have a good look at this man who  annoyed Sarah so much but as soon as she opened the door, he pushed her out of the way and rushed into the room, carrying a woman.
“Where should I put her?” he asked.
Amanda blinked at his abruptness, but quickly led the way to the examination room.  J.T. put the woman on the bed and Amanda could see there was a lot of blood.  But before she could say anything, J.T. was walking quickly from the room.
“Wait.  Who is this and what is wrong with her?” Amanda chased after him.
As she went into the front room, J.T. was already coming back into the cabin with a bundle in his arms which he thrust into Amanda’s arms.
“You had better get that doctor lady pretty quick,” he said.  “I went by to check on Buck and Jessie Roberts and I found her out in the yard, trying to bring in the wood.  I got her here as quick as I could.  I just hope it is not too late.”
J.T. said all this as he was moving toward the door.  Amanda followed him, “Wait, where are you going?”
“I have to get back up to the camp.  Tell the doc that Buck was no where around. I’ll look for him at the camps but I had told him to stay home and take care of things.  If I find him, I’ll send him into town.” 
J.T. was already on his horse and riding away before Amanda could say another word.  Movement from the bundle in her arms made her realize that J.T. had handed her a very small baby. “Oh my!” she said as the baby began to cry.
She ran back into the cabin, calling Emily as she went.  She had to go to the bedroom where Emily was cowering in the corner.
“Emily, I need your help. J.T. just brought a woman here and this baby.  The baby is only about a day old. The mother is in your bed in the examination room.  I have to run to town and find Sarah.  Can you take the baby? “
Emily took the baby and said, “What should I do?”
“Just hold him and watch him until I can get Sarah.  I’ll be right back.”
Amanda ran as fast as she could to the store and then started looking for the others.  She stuck her head in the door of the store and called out to Ben, “Have you seen Sarah and Beth?”
“Two doors down.”
Amanda could see that Ben was about to say more but she gave him no time but quickly ran down the boardwalk toward the building to find Sarah.
Bursting through the door, she found all the women and Will examining the rooms.
“Sarah, come quickly, I need you now!  Run!”  Amanda did not give Sarah the time to answer but began running back toward the cabin.  She could hear the sounds of the others running behind her but she knew she needed to get back to Emily as quickly as possible.
Gasping for breath, she rushed into the cabin.  She could hear the baby still crying and she went into the examination room to see if she could start helping the woman there.
Sarah was right behind her and quickly began to examine the women.
Amanda was still gasping for breath, “J. T. brought this woman and her baby on his horse.  He said that he had gone by to check on them and found her in the yard trying to get some wood.”
Sarah was quickly unwrapping the blanket from around the woman. “Amanda, go and get Beth.  I am going to need her help.  Please boil some water and bring it as quickly as you can. “
“What about the baby?”  Amanda paused to ask.
“Ask Hannah if she will see about the baby.  She has younger brothers and sisters and should be able to cope until we see the situation here.”
Amanda quickly went to talk to Beth and Hannah.  She found them in the bedroom, trying to quiet the baby.  Emily was still cowering in the corner but Amanda knew that she did not have time to stop and comfort her now.  “Beth, Sarah needs you right now.  Hannah, will you be able to care for the baby while we take care of his mother?”
Beth rushed to help Sarah and Amanda went into the kitchen and began putting wood into the wood stove in order to build up the fire and put the kettle and another pot of water on to boil.”
It was more than an hour before Sarah and Beth were able to tell the other women anything about their patient.
Amanda had prepared some food for their lunch.  Sarah would not leave her patient but the others gathered around the kitchen table as they ate and Beth told them what she knew.
“You will remember that Sarah went to deliver a baby at the Roberts’.  This morning J.T. went to check on them and found Mrs. Roberts in the yard.  Evidently she had tried to go out and get some wood and began hemorrhaging.  She was unconscious when J.T. found her.  Luckily, J.T. found her in time.  Sarah was able to stop the bleeding but she has lost a great deal of blood so she is still in grave danger.  I had not realized that she was so young.  She barely looks 15 or 16.  Sarah says that we will have to try to feed the baby cow’s milk but that she hopes that we will be able to find a wet nurse for him.”
“I have not had a chance to ask you.  How did you like the building in town?  Did you all agree that it would meet your needs?” asked Amanda. 
“Yes, we did, Mandy.  It is very nice and close to the store.   I’m sure that Jacques and Jane will enjoy living here also.  I think it will all work out very well.  We discussed it with Ben and Will and they are going to see about a cook stove.  We will have to put it  downstairs so that it will be convenient for the office and hospital that Sarah hopes to start.  Will is going to make us some more furniture and we will take some from here.  We had just about settled everything when you ran in.  We will continue to live here for a few more weeks while Will does the necessary work.” Beth replied.  “To be completely honest, I think I will feel a little safer there plus it will be closer to the store.  Now I have a question for you.”
“For me,” Amanda asked with surprise.
“Yes.  We have heard so much about J.T. and you and Sarah are the only ones who have seen him.  What does he look like?  Is he really as bad as Sarah has described him?”
Amanda smiled. “Well, he certainly took me by surprise but I know that there was no time to waste.  He is very abrupt and blunt.  As for his looks, he is very tall and has a lot of hair on his face.  His hair was long too.  I think I would have been frightened if I had just met him and had time to think about it but all I could think about was that poor woman and her baby. He must not be as bad as Sarah makes him out to be though or he would not have gone to check on them.  He obviously does care about people though I think that he does not let people see that.”
“Oh, Mandy, with all the excitement we forgot to tell you our other news!” Beth said.  “There was mail on the ship that came in!  We had several letters.  We had one from the Jensens and Sarah and Hannah received some from their families.  Joe even sent a reply to my letter. Let me go and get them.  I put them down in the front room when we came in.”
Amanda was excited to hear that they had mail.  When Beth returned with the letters, she opened the envelope from the Jensens first.  Both she and Beth had written from St. Louis to explain to their former pastor and his wife why Beth had left as she did.  Mr. Jensen had already spoken with Beth about marrying a non-believer and the fact that Mr. Zimmerman was so much older.  As she had expected, the Jensens agreed that Beth should not have married someone who was not a Christian and enter into a marriage where there was no love.  The Jensens’ went on to tell the women various bits of news about different families in the town. They also shared that Beth’s father was still upset and would not talk to anyone about the incident.  He said he did not want to hear one word about Beth.
“Oh, it is good to hear from them!”  Amanda exclaimed.  “That was one of the most difficult things about moving here – leaving good friends such as the Jensens.”
“Yes but I do wish that I had heard from my father.  I have prayed that he would follow Christ.  I just know that if he accepted Christ as his savior he would forgive me.  And it was so nice to hear from Joe.  And he sent me another Bible to share with a non-believer!  He is so nice!”
“Yes, Sarah’s entire family are special people.  I am so glad we were able to spend some time with them before we traveled out to Seattle.”
Hannah shared, “I also received a letter from my parents and brothers and sisters.  I don’t mind telling you that I broke down and cried when I opened it.  They stayed in New York.  They would love to come out here and meet you all.”
Amanda and Beth were astonished to see that Hannah had tears in her eyes as she continued, “My entire family lives in a tiny apartment in New York.  I have 2 younger brothers and 1 sister.  They would all love to come here but we could not afford it.  The only way I was able to come was that Mr. Mercer agreed to pay our way out here.  It is my hope that someday I will be able to send the money for my entire family to be able to come out here and settle.”
“I have some news to share as well,” Emily said shyly.  Amanda smiled at her as she continued.  “I asked Christ to forgive me of my sins today. “
The others were happy to hear of her decision and promised to encourage her and help her all they could.
“Well, we had better get the dishes washed and put away.  We have had a very long day and should try to get some sleep soon,” said Amanda.
Amanda put some food on a plate and carried it to Sarah while Beth and Hannah heated water and begin on the dishes.  They were soon finished and they women all went to the front room for their nightly Bible study. 
It was Amanda’s turn to lead the study and she chose a passage that she had always loved and which gave her great comfort. 
“I am reading tonight from the Gospel of John.  It is one of my favorites and actually one that Beth’s mother wrote down for her to read also.      
            ‘Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also
 in me. 
In my Father’s house are many mansions’ if it were not so, I would 
 have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and
 prepare a place for you, I will come again, and where I am
, there ye may be also. 
And whither I go, ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whiter thou goest;
 and how can we know the way?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the light
: no men cometh unto the Father, except by me.  John 14: 1 – 7 KJV”
This passage gives me hope for eternity. Christ says that He goes to prepare a place for us and that it will be wonderful.  I believe that none of us can even imagine what heaven will be like.  I know that it will be wonderful.   He also says “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father except by me.”  That means that we all have to accept Christ as our Savior as well as let him guide us in our everyday life.  We have so much to pray about tonight.  We need to ask for healing for Mrs. Roberts and strength for Sarah as she ministers to her.  You will be making changes in your lives as you move into the new building.  Emily has made the important decision to follow Christ today and we rejoice in that decision with her.  I would also request that you pray for Riley and me and our future together in our marriage and for my new school year and the children as well.  Let’s just go around and each one of us pray a short prayer.  Emily, if you don’t feel confident enough yet, just pray silently but know that God is your heavenly Father and you may talk to him as a friend.”
The women had a time of prayer and, after checking with Sarah to see if there was anything they could do to help her, went to the bedroom to sleep.  Emily was sleeping in with the others tonight because Sarah would stay in the examination room with Jessie Roberts.  After the long and tiring day, each woman was asleep within minutes of putting her head on her pillow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chapter Four

As Amanda was telling Riley goodbye at the door of the cabin, Sarah rode by on her way to the stable in back.  She raised a hand in greeting but continued to the back.  This was her usual way so Amanda was not surprised.  Riley went on to work at the saw mill and Amanda entered the cabin just as Beth came into the front room. 
“How did it go with Pastor Taylor?” Beth asked.
“It went really well.  He shared several Bible passages with us, counseled us and had prayer with us.  I am so happy that Riley was willing to go with me and that he has given his heart to the Lord.  Beth, I shudder every time I think about your father wanting you to marry Mr. Zimmerman!  It would have been so difficult for you with no one to share your Bible study and prayer time.”
“I know and I would have missed your friendship dreadfully if you had come out here and I had stayed behind in Ohio.  I know that I did the right thing by not marrying a man who is not a Christian but I did not love Mr. Zimmerman and I don’t think he loved me either. I just don’t think it would have been a good marriage at all.”
 “Hannah has already gone to the store but I waited for you because I didn’t want to leave Emily plus I have something to show you.  Will you come in the bedroom with me?”
Amanda nodded and followed Beth into the room all the women shared, wondering what she wanted to show her.  As she entered the room, her eyes saw a lovely off white dress on the bed.
“Mandy, this was my mother’s wedding dress and I want you to wear it on Sunday.  I think it will fit you perfectly because my mother was a little taller than I am.”
“Oh, Beth, I couldn’t.  What if something happened to it?  You should save it for when you get married!”  Amanda protested.
“Mandy, you are like a sister to me.  You are really all the family I have because I know my father has disowned me and I have no idea where Tommy is.  It just seems right since both of our mothers are gone.  And I can still wear it.  Please try it on and let’s see how it fits.” Beth pleaded.
“Well…. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it on, if you are sure…”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
Amanda slipped the dress over her head and Beth fastened the row of buttons up the back.  Amanda tried to see her reflection in the small mirror but she couldn’t see much.
“Oh, Mandy, you look beautiful and it is a perfect fit!  We can put some flowers in your hair and you will look so beautiful.  You can put it on right after church, right before you are married.  Please wear it,” Beth smiled at her best friend.
Amanda hugged Beth and said, “If you are sure, I will wear it.  And I will think of both of our mothers looking down from heaven and I think they would both have been pleased.”
Beth helped Amanda take off the dress.  “I will press it and have it all ready for you on Sunday!  You will be the most beautiful bride here!”
Just then Sarah walked into the room. Both the other women could see at a glance that she was tired but also upset. 
“Sarah, are you all right?  You look very tired but you also look upset!  Is something wrong?”
Sarah sat on the bed nearest the door and sighed.  She pushed her sleeve up to show them the bruises that were already forming on her arm.
Amanda and Beth gasped, “What happened?  Are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine.  The new father just thought I should be a little more friendly,” Sarah said with a wry smile.  “I think I could have handled him but the one person who I would not want to help came to the door then.”
Amanda and Beth looked at each other and said in unison, “J.T.”  They had heard Sarah complain enough about the man that they knew he was the one person that Sarah did not like. 
“Yes, evidently this Mr. Roberts works at the logging camp and he came to see why he had not been at work.  He could see that I was about to hit the man with a frying pan and guessed what was happening.  He stayed until I left and even rode down the mountain with me.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate his help, it is just that he saw this as another good reason to warn me to stay in town.  I know that I could take a gun with me but that wouldn’t have helped today because the man snuck up behind me as I was cleaning up from the delivery.  The baby was not even an hour old!”
Amanda sat beside her friend, “Sarah, you know that you have never let anything stand in the way of you being a physician and this won’t stop you either.  We will figure out a way for you to be safe and to do your job.”
“Well, with Emily here now, even with you moving out, I think this cabin is getting to be too small to use as my office.  Even making house calls as I do, I still need something bigger.  I have to see Will later today to check his arm and I’ll talk to him about it then. Now I need to clean and sterilize my instruments and take a nap,” Sarah yawned.
Beth left for work and Amanda went to the kitchen to help Sarah with her instruments.  It was very unusual for the young doctor to wait to prepare her instruments until she came back to town.  She had always said that she always had to be ready for an emergency and Amanda sensed that her friend was even more upset than she was showing.
Sarah went to the bedroom to take a much needed nap and Amanda went to check on Emily, before sitting down at the kitchen table to work on her lesson plans for the first week of school.   She knew that one of the first things she would need to do was to find the level of each child.  Some children had never been to school while others had been taught at home.  There were even a few who had gone to school back east before traveling west.  Amanda was sure that she would find children of all ages and levels.  She had ordered a variety of books of different levels and hoped that she would have some students that were more advanced.  She also wanted to meet with some of the new women to see if they would like to help or if any of them wanted or needed more schooling.
After working for several hours, Amanda put her books and papers away and began to prepare their evening meal.  Sarah had gone to check on Will Sloan, a friend of Riley’s who had been injured when Amanda had been kidnapped.  He had been shot in the arm with an arrow and Sarah had had to surgically remove it.  He worked as a carpenter and it was vital that he recover the use of his arm and he had faithfully done the exercises that Sarah had given him.  Amanda was thankful that he had almost fully recovered.
She quietly went into the front room to check on Emily.  Finding her awake, Amanda helped her to sit up in the bed.
“Let’s get you up and sitting in this rocking chair while I change your sheets.” 
Amanda helped Emily to the chair next to the bed and covered her with a quilt.  She knelt in front of her to put on a pair of slippers.
“I don’t understand why you are all so nice to me.  I was horrible to you on the trip out here and you do everything for me,” Emily whispered.
Amanda smiled at the other woman and sat on the bed.  “Emily, it is the right thing to do as a Christian.  Christ taught that we should all be servants to each other.  Christ even washed the feet of the disciples.  We want to help you. “
“But I was so mean to you.  I thought I was better than anyone and now look at me.  Ruined!”
Amanda leaned across and took Emily’s hand, “Emily, you made some bad choices but we all have done that.  Maybe ours did not turn out as badly as yours but we all have sinned.  We are just so happy that you are alive and back with us.  And you know that Christ forgives all sins, even murder.  In His eyes, all sins are the same.  Didn’t you go to church growing up back in Kentucky?”
“Well, yes, but I don’t think I listened that much.  I was too worried about how I looked and if I had the prettiest outfit and if people were looking at me,” Emily hung her head.
“I wish now that I had listened more and listened to my parents too.  All I wanted were things and now look, those things are all gone and I have nothing!”
“That’s because you were worried about the wrong kinds of ‘things’.  You should have been worried about your treasures in heaven.  Here, let me show you what it says in the Bible about treasures,
‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Matthew 6:19 – 21 KJV’
“See, Emily, all of your possessions were of this earth and they were torn and got dirty or even sold, and the money did not keep you safe.  But the good things that you do are like treasures in heaven, not just doing good for others but also reading and studying the Bible and witnessing to others.  But no matter how good any of us are, we can never be good enough to save ourselves.  It says in the Bible, ‘not by works but by faith’ so our works cannot save us, only if we have faith that Christ can save us.  It is His mercy and grace that saves us because He has already died for our sins.”
“I want to believe and be changed but I don’t think I have enough faith yet,” said Emily.
Patting Emily’s hand, Amanda said, “Well, we will continue to pray for you and that you will have faith.   You know I heard my pastor back home say one day that faith is like that chair you are sitting in, you don’t know that it will hold you up, but you sat in it anyway, having faith that it will hold you and keep you from crashing to the ground.  Faith is like that.  Sometimes you just have to step out in faith and the rest will follow.”
Amanda quickly changed the sheets on the bed and straightened the covers.
“I think you are strong enough to join us at the table tonight, don’t you?”
“Oh, no, I don’t want anyone to see me,” Emily was still easily frightened after her experiences in San Francisco. 
“The only ones here will be Sarah, Hannah, Beth and me and you have seen all of us.  You can’t stay in this room forever.  Just take it slowly a little bit at a time.  Don’t worry.  We will be with you.  I really wish you would come with us to church on Sunday when I marry Riley.”
“Oh, no, I can’t go out yet.  And I am never going to marry.  I will work for Sarah.”
“Do you think you will be able to nurse and take care of all the patients?  If that is what you want, I know that Sarah will help you.  But you know that Beth has started a business as a seamstress and what this town really needs is someone to make hats.  I’ll bet you would be wonderful at that with your background.  Just think about it.  You have many choices in front of you and we will all be praying for you and you should pray too”
“I don’t think I know how to pray,” Emily said.
“Well, you know how to talk to a friend, don’t you?  God is the best friend you will ever have.  He already knows your thoughts so just talk to him like a friend and it will get easier each time.”
Amanda helped Emily to stand and to walk into the kitchen.  When the others returned, they were pleased and surprised to find Emily at the table.  Amanda had warmed the soup and made corn bread and they all enjoyed the meal together after a prayer.  Beth had made a pie early that morning and they finished the meal with a piece for each of them. 
They all worked together to clean up after the meal as Beth helped Emily into the front room.  They all gathered there for their nightly Bible study.
“Before we start, I would like to speak with all of you,” said Sarah.  “I spoke with Will today and we went to look at a building in town.  It actually is just a few doors from Ben’s store.  It has an upstairs where we can live and Will is going to make four rooms downstairs.  It has been a dream that I could start a hospital here and this will be a first step toward that.  I also want to train nurses to help me..  I hope that you will be willing to move with me.  Also, Hannah, you were at the store this morning when I came back from delivering a baby.”  Pausing to push up her sleeve, Sarah showed the ugly bruises caused by Mr. Roberts’ fingers that morning. Hannah’s and Emily’s faces showed shock and dismay that someone would attack the young doctor who was a friend to all.
“I have been thinking and praying about this all day and it seems that maybe I should have someone to go with me on calls.  As you know, Jacques’ leg is still not completely healed and he does not like working in the saw mill.  I spoke with him and Jane today.  They are willing to work for me.  Jacques will accompany me on calls and Jane will train as a nurse.  That will leave more time for each of you to choose the work that you wish to do.  Beth, I know you are building your seamstress business and you and Hannah are both working with Ben in the store.  Amanda, you will be teaching and also moving out when you marry. If you agree, Jacques and Jane will move into this cabin.  I can keep the horse here but I think it will be better if I have regular office hours.”
“I suggested to Emily today that she might want to try her hand as a milliner. I think she would do well because she had so many beautiful hats.  Or she might want to work in the store too,” said Amanda.  “But there is no rush for you to make a decision, Emily.  You need to pray and see what God has planned for you.”
“That is a good idea, Mandy.  Emily, you have so much fashion sense that I know you could help me with choosing the best materials and styles for dresses too,” said Beth.
“Let’s go ahead and have our Bible study and a time of prayer,” said Sarah.  “There are many things we need to turn over to the Lord.  Some requests that I have are whether this is the right decision to move to another office and also prayer for that poor lady, Mrs. Roberts, who had the baby today.  Her husband didn’t want to do any of the work and help her until J.T. said he had to.  Also we need to pray that Emily will continue to improve and know God’s plan for her.  Beth, are you going to lead us tonight?”
“Yes, I thought that it would be good to read my mother’s letter tonight since Mandy is getting married on Sunday.  My mother passed away when I was twelve but I had missed so much school that I could barely read the letter she wrote before she died.  Mandy helped me with my reading so that when I found it when packing to come out here, I could understand what she had been saying and it had a big effect on my decision to travel to Seattle.  I think it applies to each of us but especially to Mandy as she and Riley marry.  She has read it before but I just wanted to share it with all of you.  She also left a list of Bible verses that were important to her and Mandy and I read them all in the days before we left Cedar Springs.
“I’ll read the letter first,”
‘My Dearest Beth,
I know that I will not be with you much longer.  Though sometimes the pain is almost greater than I can bear, I do not want to leave you.  You are so young to have had to care for me, but no one could have done a better job.  How I wish that I could be here to watch as you grow into a lovely young woman!
Beth, always put the Lord first in your life.  He will never forsake you.  He has been so faithful to me, and I will be so happy to see Him soon.  If you let Him guide your every action, you will always do the right thing. 
I wish I could be there to guide you as you grow.  Already I can see the lovely lady you will be.   I am so happy that you know the Lord as your personal Savior.  There is such precious hope in the knowledge that we will spend eternity together.
I pray that you will never forget all that we have shared.  I am enclosing a list of special scripture that has helped me in times of confusion and trouble.  Keep these close to your heart, and allow the Lord to guide you through His Word. 
Beth, you know that I love your father, but it grieves me that he does not know Jesus as we do.  Please continue to pray that he will come to know the Lord.  When you decide to marry, I hope that you will not marry a non-believer.  God’s Word warns against this.  I was not a Christian when I married and did not even know of these verses, but I do so wish that your father would come to know Jesus.  Marry a man that you love and respect, but be certain that he loves and respects the Lord also.  I believe the man should be the head of the home, as well as the spiritual leader.
There are so many things that I wish I had time to teach you, Beth, but my time on earth is growing shorter.  Always remember that I love you with all of my heart, and, as long as I live, I will pray for you.  I will never really leave you as long as you remember me, for I will live on in your heart.
                                                With all my love,

Beth paused to wipe a few tears from her eyes and noticed that Mandy and Emily did the same.  Even Sarah looked like she might cry, missing her mother.
“Just as my mother cautioned me not to marry someone who is not a Christian, we should all heed those verses.  I know that Mandy found herself falling in love with Riley but she knew she could not marry him if he did not decide to follow Christ.”
“The verse I have chosen tonight is one of my favorites and also one of the first that I memorized.  I think we all know it, John 3:16.  Let’s say it together:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV’

“If I had only one verse in the Bible to know, this would be it because it really says it all.  God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die in our place so that we would have eternal life.  Jesus loved us enough to leave heaven which must be so wonderful and come down to this earth and suffer and be cursed and whipped for MY sins.  It is amazing to me that He would do that.  I know I don’t deserve to be saved but his mercy and grace is sufficient to save me.  I can never do enough to deserve it but He freely gave forgiveness to me.  I deserve to die but I don’t have to, not really because I know that I will spend eternity in heaven with Him.  Isn’t that the most wonderful thing?”  Beth smiled at the others, finally letting her gaze fall on Emily who was looking at the floor.
“Emily,”  she said softly.  “Look at me.”
Emily slowly raised her eyes to Beth’s.  “God loves you and He has already paid the price for your sins.  You are already forgiven.  You need to forgive yourself. “
“But I have done so much wrong and that man… I just don’t think I can ever be forgiven.”
“Emily, remember when we talked about faith earlier?  That is all you need.  Faith that Christ can and will save you.  It says in Isaiah:
‘Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1”18 KJV”
“This was written before Jesus was born on earth but it is a prophet telling us that our sins will be as white as snow!  No matter what our sins, they are washed away by His blood.  Don’t you worry, we will be praying for you and praying that you will have the faith that you need,”  said Amanda.
“Will you help me pray now?”  whispered Emily.  “I want to have what you have.  You all have a peace that I do not have.”
“Of course, we will help you but it has to be your decision.  No one can do it for you.  Not your parents, friends, or pastor.  It can only be done by you.  Just ask God to forgive you of your sins, tell Him that you believe He can forgive you and ask Him to come into your heart.  And He will send His Holy Spirit to you and you will feel His peace.”
Emily whispered a prayer asking for forgiveness and for Christ to enter her life.  Then each of the other women prayed, thanking God for Emily’s decision and asking for guidance in the days ahead.  They also asked God to bless the marriage of Amanda and Riley.  Afterwards they each hugged Emily and told her how happy they were that she had made this decision.  Sarah and Beth helped her into the examination room and helped her to bed. 
“I think you may get dressed tomorrow and even go outside for a few minutes if you wish,” said Sarah. 
Quietly smiling, Emily said, “I may go out in back for a little bit.  It will be good to sit in the sun for a while.”
“Yes, the weather is getting colder. It does not snow as much here as in the mountains but there is usually a good bit of rain so enjoy the sunshine while you can.” Sarah advised. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chapter Three

Amanda Stone looked into the small oval mirror in the bedroom that she shared with three other women.  Although not a vain person, she did want to look her best today when she and Riley met with Mr. Taylor, their pastor.  They would be married soon and Mr. Taylor had asked to meet with them.  Hearing a knock on the door, Amanda put down her hair brush and hurried into the front room.  After asking, she opened the door to Riley.  As always, she thought how handsome Riley was and how happy she was to be sharing the rest of her life with him.  But she knew that no matter how much she loved him that there would be no marriage if Riley had not asked Christ to be his personal Savior. 
Amanda smiled at Riley as she welcomed him into the small four roomed cabin.  Sarah used it as an office as well as their home.  Originally Sarah, Amanda and Beth Matthews, one of Amanda’s friends from Ohio had shared the cabin.  Then as the second group of women came to town, Hannah Smith had joined them in the cabin.  There was a small sitting room in front, and next to that was the examination room.  In the back were the bedroom and the kitchen.  They had a small piece of land in the back where they had a garden and a shed for Sarah’s horse.  They had grown many vegetables over the summer and now their pantry was full of canned vegetables as well as those that would keep in the root cellar. 
Amanda turned at the sound of Beth coming into the room from the examination room and quietly shutting the door.  “How’s Emily?” asked Amanda quietly.
Beth shook her head and said, “She’s resting quietly but it is hard to believe that she is the same person we knew on the way out here.  She is so grateful for everything that we do for her and so thin and battered and bruised.  I just thank God that she was able to get away and make her way to us or she may not be alive.  It will take time for her to regain her strength but I think eventually she will be all right.  Sarah seems to think so anyway.
Are you two going to meet with Pastor Taylor now?”
“Yes, we told him we would be over this morning.  Have you heard anything from Sarah?”
“No, but I expect she will be back this morning unless there were problems with the delivery.”
After saying goodbye to Beth, Amanda and Riley began the short walk to the Taylor’s home.  Riley reached over to take Amanda’s hand as they walked. 
“I’ll always feel responsible for what happened to Emily.  I was supposed to be in charge of the group and I should never have left her in San Francisco.”
”But, Riley, you know that all of us begged her not to stay.  I don’t see how you could have made her go with us unless you kidnapped her.  We all have to make our own choices.  Just as you had to do when you accepted Christ, no one can make that choice for you and Emily had to make her own choice, even if it was a bad decision.  I can only pray that she will recover and come to know the Lord as we do.  That will make all the difference in her attitude.  She is so changed that I pray she will be willing to listen to the word of God now.”
In a few minutes, they arrived at the Taylor home.  Sitting next to the new building that would be used for both school and church, the cabin looked inviting with smoke coming from the chimney and some flowers planted in front.  Riley knocked on the door which was immediately answered by Mr. Taylor.
“Come in, come in!  I have been looking forward to your visit. Estelle is resting now so we can talk here without being disturbed.  I am so happy that you agreed to speak with me before the wedding.  So many of the men just want to get married and hurry back to their claim.  We’ve had men from way up in the mountains up north looking for brides.  I just pray that no one rushes into a marriage.  It is much better for two people to get to know each other before they marry.  I have also been praying that the couples will both share a faith in God but it has not always happened.”
Mr. Taylor brought his Bible over to the table and invited Amanda and Riley to sit at the table with him.
“There are two passages that I often like to share with couples before they marry.  The first comes from Ruth.”
Amanda smiled because she was familiar with the passage and thought it appropriate but she looked at Riley to see him shaking his head.  As a new Christian, Riley was not as familiar with the Bible as Amanda who had always attended church and had given her heart to the Lord at a young age.  Sarah’s brother, Joe, had given a Bible to Beth when she was in St. Louis, telling her to give it to someone in order to witness to them.  Beth had given the Bible to Riley and he was studying it every night.  Amanda looked forward to their worship time together as a married couple.
Mr. Taylor found the passage and began to read,
‘And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:  for whither thou goest, I will go;  and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God”
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.’ Ruth 1:16 – 17 KJV
“Now this passage was Ruth speaking to her mother-in-law.  Her father-in-law had died, her husband had died, and her brother-in-law had died.  Naomi, the mother-in-law, had lost her husband and both sons.  She wanted to return to her homeland and begged her sons’ wives to return to their homes.  The other daughter-in-law, Orpah, did return to her home but Ruth would not leave her mother-in-law.  To me the most important part is that Naomi had witnessed to Ruth in such a way, that she also wanted to worship her God and follow her faith.  This is the way it should be in a marriage.  You should want to go where your husband or wife goes, stay with them until death and worship their God.  Riley, I know that Amanda loves you but I also know that she would not marry a non-believer because we have discussed this in our Bible studies on our trip out here.  I know that all of our group that are Christians starting praying for you from the first day of our trip, that your heart would be opened to the Lord and that you would answer His call. 
And we all rejoiced when you made that decision.  I have spoken with you about it and we have prayed together so I know that this was a sincere decision.  Otherwise, I would have misgivings about the marriage.  However, just because both people are Christians, that does not mean that they will never disagree but I pray that you will seek the Lord’s guidance in all of your decisions.  Sometimes it is difficult to put the other person’s needs first but that is what you must try to do.
“Now the second passage I want to read to you is from Ephesians:
‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’
Ephesians 5:22 – 25 KJV
“Now some think that these verses mean that the wife should be as a servant to her husband, but Christ compared himself to a groom and the Church, meaning all who follow Him, as the bride.  We know that Christ gave His life for us and that is what this is saying.  Husbands should be the spiritual head of the home and they should love their wives as Christ loves us.  I believe that a couple should study the Bible together, pray together and make decisions based on the guidance they get from the Lord.  I hope that you will follow this in your marriage.”
Amanda and Riley looked at each other and she waited for Riley to speak.
“Pastor, as a new Christian, I have so much to learn but I am going to keep reading God’s word and coming to church and praying and I know that Amanda will join me in this.  She and her friends have been great witnesses to me and made me see that I really needed God in my life.  We will certainly do all we can to make God a part of our lives and our marriage.”
Amanda agreed and they had a time of prayer together before Riley and Amanda left, walking back toward the cabin. 
Riley stopped near a fallen tree and asked Amanda to sit down.
“Mandy, we really haven’t decided about whether I should accept the job as sheriff and I have to tell you that if I do, the leaders will want me to live in town.  The town is growing so that we really do need a lawman to keep things straight.  I am just not sure that the Lord wants me to do that.  I just built the cabin out on my land and we would have to live in town.  Of course, you will be coming in to teach each day.  I just don’t know what we should do.”
“I have been praying about it, too, Riley.  I am concerned for your safety as that job but we know that many jobs here are dangerous.  I do love the house that you built and would love to live in it.  I think we will have to pray a little longer until God makes it clear to us.”
“I think for now we will plan to move in the house and I will continue working at the saw mill.  It will be too cold for farming and it will bring in a steady income. You can come into town with me each day in the wagon.”
Amanda agreed, “Beth and the others have been so kind to promise to share some of the vegetables and other food we grew.  We need to start moving my things in soon.  I don’t have that much.  I imagine we can move it all in one afternoon with the wagon.  Oh, Riley, I love you so much.  I can’t wait to start our new life together.”
Riley smiled at her.  “I can’t either.  I never knew what blessings I would receive when I agreed to bring that small group out here.  I am so happy to have met you and fallen in love with you but the best part of all has been coming to know Christ as my Savior and growing closer to Him each day.  I can never thank you and the others enough for your witness to me.”