I Collect Old Books: Kept For the Master’s Use

Frances Ridley Havergal, a poet and hymnwriter (“Take My Life and Let It Be”), published this book of devotions in 1879, shortly before her death. I do not know what edition I have, but it looks and feels like an early one.

A note written on an inside page reads, “With pleasant memories of Bible School, Summer of 1945, G. S. Montgomery.”

Dreaming of Dr. King

I once had a conversation at school with a first grade student. It was snack time, and, as she saw me approaching the eating area, the student called out to me:

“Mrs. McDavid, Mrs. McDavid!” Olivia’s hand was up and signaling for me to join her.

I walked over to her table and sat down. “What’s up?”

“Did you know that before, if we were at a school with all black people or a school with all white people, I couldn’t sit with you?”

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Poem: If Only You Would Seek

As I was thinking about loved ones, the state of the world, life, death, and the upcoming new year, these words came to me.


Another year, so full of grace

Forgiveness, love, and peace

Of gifts that come from God the Father 

And sent for you to keep

If only you would seek.


Another year of joyful triumph

And sudden grim defeat

You smile, embrace, you cry and tremble

The world and all it brings

If only you would seek.


Another year, come be His child

Beloved of the King

A year that flows with promises

And blessings you will reap

If only you would seek.


Another year, could be your last

And then eternity

There will only be one question

What will your answer be?

If only you would seek.


Another year to share with friends

With loving family

But if your heart would open further

He waits so patiently 

If only you would seek.


"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." 
Matthew 6:33

Looking For a Bible Reading Plan?

I’ve been able to read through the entire Bible every year using the Five Day Bible Reading Plan.

The mix of Old Testament and New Testament readings each day is the most enjoyable part of the plan for me. The chronological order is another plus.

You can download and print the reading plan, but I have the app linked to the ESV Study Bible app on my iPhone. With a touch, the app takes me to the passages for the day, and I use the supplied checklist to monitor my reading.

Almost there!

The weekends are “free” with this plan, giving you two days to dig deeper, catch up, focus on your church’s readings for Sunday, or do anything else that helps you grow in the knowledge of God through reading his Word.

Whichever Bible reading plan you choose, I hope you are successful this new year with your worthy goal.

Your word is a lamp to my feet 
and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

We Became Her Choir

Lynne is the firstborn of the six siblings in my family. She took the lead on many things, including caring for us when Mom and Dad were both either at work or out of action for one tragic reason or another.

In addition to that, she was also trying to grow up during a difficult time in American history: the 1960’s. Lynne was old enough to understand what was going on around the world and within our family.

She was in her teens and couldn’t find lipstick to complement her skin color.

She saw war, assassinations, and race riots through a thirteen-channel black and white television.

She stood in the welfare food line with Mom and knew exactly why she was there and her friends were not.

Lynne endured a lot. She must have decided that if she also had to put up with the five of us, then she was going to make good use of the time.

So we became her choir.

Lynne and my oldest brother Marvin were members of their school’s Glee Club, a group of students who met to sing and perform. Lynne would teach us what they learned, and one Christmas season she taught us how to sing Do You Hear What I Hear?

Written in October of 1962, the song was a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It has a precious melody wrapped around words of hope.

Lynne worked long and hard with us, and she was serious about her goal. She loved that song. She would sing the words and then make sure we repeated them in tune, correctly and clearly. She had no sheet music. There was no need for it: Lynne, like the rest of us, could pick notes out of the air. She had memorized what she learned at Glee Club. The music poured out of her heart and straight into ours.

And the words! I traveled the journey as I sang: From the sky to the lamb to the boy to the king to the Child. The description of the star “with a tail as big as a kite” and the song “with a voice as big as the sea” made me shiver with wonder.

Lynne went beyond teaching us just the melody. Besides the echo, there was a line that sang counterpoint to the last verse of the carol. There are no words, just an “Ahhh…,” in a soft and lilting melody.

And so, we sang. We followed our leader as she waved her hands and moved us through each verse. We had no audience. Our choir made its offering to the bedroom walls.

Yet we sang our hearts out, despite the overhanging gloom that poverty brings, for our sister’s reward and the pure pleasure and escape that singing brings.

Here are the words to the song:

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see? (echo)
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see? (echo)
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.”

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear? (echo)
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear? (echo)
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea.”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
“Do you know what I know? (echo)
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know? (echo)
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold–
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say! (echo)
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say! (echo)
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light.”


“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

Do You Hear What I Hear? lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker, 1962. Click here for the original recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale.


I Collect Old Books: The Hour of Prayer, KTAB

Published in 1928, this is a book of devotionals that the pastor (George W. Phillips) shared during the Tenth Avenue Baptist Church’s daily radio broadcasts, which began in 1926 out of Oakland, California. Besides the call letters standing for the church’s name, its on-air backronym was “Knowledge, Truth, and Beauty.”

The Sunset, the Symphony, and the Gift

I cannot recall anything I said or did that would cause my parents to think I wanted a Magnus electric chord organ.

Yet there it was, next to the Christmas tree, fully assembled, with my name on the gift tag. Brand new and with a bench.

All mine.

I had an ear for music, like everyone else in my family. But playing a keyboard?

Did a teacher mention something to my parents? There were pianos in classrooms back when I went to school. Maybe I had hopped up and tried to play the instrument, and a teacher caught something in my eye that she recognized.

It is a mystery. My parents didn’t have money to buy a luxury like an electric organ. Yet, somehow it came to be: a musical instrument that wasn’t a loaner I had to give back at the end of the school year.

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I Collect Old Books: The Sunday Tea Party

Published by The American Tract Society, this copy is 150 years old and was probably used by Sunday School teachers. The handwritten note inside says “Hickory Grove, SSL No 179, 1871.” Grace Abbott or The Sunday Tea-Party is the story of young Grace trying to keep Sunday special and devoted to God. It’s hard to do, though, with the tea parties and the mean girls tempting Grace to put aside what she learned about the Sabbath. In the end, Grace does prevail!

February Story of the Month: Postcard to Chateau-Thierry

My dearest Frederick:

Your inquiry about Mother — there was not much to do after the hemorrhage. She fought well and passed gracefully.

Plan to take care of yourself. You are needed. Father expects to be back in August. I am not so sure.

I know you will put them all before yourself. Shall that be my last thought?

The blossoms — I see them when I climb to the big oak, with your pickets there shepherding Lester Atkins’ stock. The grass swaying, yellow and green, wave after wave, and I hear your jolly laugh and your voice telling me “Soon.”

You are in my lungs, like fire, like sea salt. You are loose gems. You are a mirror and a cup.

Excuse my script — there is more that I say, so read deeply.

Yours,

Margaret

17 June 1918

Philippians 4, vs 13


After reading through the history of World War I, I thought about the separation of families and friends due to the calls to serve. Then I imagined a young woman sending a postcard to her sweetheart soldier who is fighting in France. I took a photo of flowers in my garden and created a “vintage” postcard to inspire me in writing this love story, short and sweet.

I pray that the coming days do not usher in another great war, which always requires the taking away of loved ones.