Loveland – next three pages

Like Father tells Emily, “Be patient!”  It’s hard to rewrite this stuff and change things around so much but VERY good for me and the book! Here goes…

 

Fort Collins was the only really big settlement nearby, located due North, close to the Wyoming border. It was a medium-sized fort, built right after the Civil War and was staffed with mostly infantry. It boasted a small trading post and provided a comforting presence for settlers, although as far back as Emily could remember, most of the Indian tribes in the surrounding areas had lived peacefully enough with the white folk and there had never been any trouble to speak of. Father always said that Loveland was a quiet and friendly place and that’s what had attracted the MacGregor’s in the first place.

The dwelling Father had built when they first settled the land was a modest but sturdy five-room cabin, well able to withstand anything the harsh Colorado winters could hand out. The inside was warm and inviting and it hadn’t changed much since her mother died, although Emily had gradually added a few touches of her own. The kitchen and living room were one great room, separated only by the kitchen table. Father had built it with lumber from the mill, as he had most all of the furniture in their house. Emily liked the great room because she could be busy in the kitchen and still see Father, sitting in his rocking chair by the fire, reading his Bible and smoking his pipe.

Her bedroom was just off of the great room and, with the white lace curtains she had sewn herself and all of her books, it was the haven she could go to when she wasn’t able to go down to the river. There were two very special crocheted doilies on her bedside table. The large one was the one her mother had crocheted for her and the smaller, more lopsided one was Emily’s attempt to duplicate it. On her dressing table lay her mother’s silver-plated hairbrush and mirror – a wedding present from Donovan. Emily never used them but they were always there in plain sight, a remembrance of her loving mother. She had one framed picture of her mother and father, holding her as a baby. It was the only picture she had of her mother and she cherished it with all her heart. It had been taken when they had gone to nearby Fort Collins for a special territorial celebration the summer after Emily was born.

The little room next to Emily’s was meant to be for the babies and her mother had already prepared it for their arrival before she had taken ill. Father had long since moved the furnishings out of the room and given them all to the pastor’s wife, Carrie, for their new baby girl, born the yaer after Eileen and the boys had died. The little room was now used as an overflow pantry, holding extra jars of preserves and canned vegetables, her mother’s treadle sewing machine and Emily’s sewing supplies.

Uncle Ian, his wife, Sarah and their three boys settled a twenty acre homestead about five miles on the other side of the river, closer to town. Because Uncle Ian and Father worked together at the mill, they saw each other most every day but they still enjoyed gathering both families together for dinners and most certainly, holidays and special occasions. Uncle Ian and Aunt Sarah’s boys – Colin,  Dylan and Ian, Jr. – were rowdy and rambunctious but Father always delighted in having them over. Emily thought it must have somehow made him wonder about what his own sons would have been like but he never let on.

Sometimes, on his way over to visit his brother, her uncle would find her down at the river if the weather was nice. She was most usually there reading one of her romance stories and he jwould never pass up an opportunity fo tease her. He would laugh and give her braid a playful tug then, in his thick Irish brogue, say something like, “What? Readin’ that stuff again, are ya? How much longer are ya gonna waste your time dreamin’ about somethin’ in a book, Lassie?”

Uncle Ian knew all too well how Emily longed for true love. She had talked with him about it often enough. “I only want to have someone love me the way Father loved Mother. Is that so wrong, Uncle?”

He would shake his head and sigh. “A love like your folks had is a wondrous thing, to be sure, Em. But you’ll turn old and gray waitin’ to find the very same thing. Get on with it, Lassie. Everythin’s not always like you read in those books. It doesn’t always happen that way and you’ll be waitin’ until it’s too late, I tell ya!”

As Emily started to argue with him, he would shade his eyes with his hand as he pointed to a mountain ridge above them. “Wait! Emily! Did ya see that? Why bless me soul! It’s a knight in shinin’ armor, it is, and I think he’s headin’ this way!”

Emily took Uncle Ian’s teasing in stride, mostly because she knew he just didn’t understand. she didn’t care what he said or how much he taunted her; she knew her true love was out there somewhere. She just had to be patient like Father said, but it was so hard.

Most every evening after supper, Father would sit by the fire with his pipe, the sweet smell of the tobacco inviting Emily over and she would sit at his feet while each of them shared about their day. It was those times that she felt most comfortable talking with Father about how she was trying to be patient but also how hard it was to wait for her someone special. She assured him over and over that none of the young men around Loveland came anywhere close to having the honorable and upright character she longed for. Father would always listen and smile with the occasional nod as Emily poured her heart out. He never teased or laughed at her like Uncle Ian. She loved Father even more for listening patiently as she shared her hopes and dreams with him.

One night, Father put his hand on her shoulder. “Em honey, don’t ever be afraid to dream. I know you take a lot of teasing for it but I don’t ever want you to be afraid to hope for what you feel in your heart the Lord has promised you. You’re right not to settle for anything less either because what the Lord has for us – His plan for each of our lives – is so special, not matter how long we have to wait for it. For right now though,” he chuckled softly, “don’t be in such a hurry.” He rose from his chair. “I’m going to check on the horses, then I’m off to bed. ‘Night my sweet girl.”

Emily orse and followed him to the door, kissing him on the cheek. “Goodnight, Father. I love you.”

She put on her flannel nightgown and quickly climbed under her patchwork quilt. Springtime in the Rocky Mountains still required heavy blankets and a fire burning at night to keep warm. At first, the bed was a little hcilly and she shivered but the heavy quilt held the heat from her body and soon she was toasty warm. She looked up into the rafters and prayed, “Dear Lord in Heaven, You know my heart; You made my heart. I don’t want to keep bothering You about this but I’m eighteeen years old now and, if You don’t send him soon, I’m afraid it may never happen. You know how these fellas are around here. Most all of them just want to steal a kiss. They’re not interested in settling down – at least not the ones I know! I want to be patient like Father says but it’s so hard!”

Emily closed her eyes and her mind soon wandered to the things that needed to be done the next day. In no time, she was fast asleep.

Next morning, she rose early. She was going into tow with Father and she would need to hurry breakfast along so everything would be done when he was ready to leave. She opened the back door to grab a few pieces of wood for the stove and she took a deep breath in. The chilly morning air smelled all too familiar and Emily knew Spring was well on its way. The pungent aroma of damp earth told her the snow pack was beginning to melt and she knew it wouldn’t be long until the trees began to bud and the mountains would turn as emerald green as her eyes.

It was a special time in Loveland, when the whole town would turn out for the annual Spring Dance and there was no shortage of food or fun – at least for everyone else. Emily sighed. She would go – she always did – but it was hard to watch everyone else having a wonderful time when she felt so alone. She would go to town and buy fabric for a new dress but she wondered why she even bothered.

As Father finished his eggs and bacon, he took a sip of coffee and smiled at her. “Good breakfast, Em. You about ready to head into town?”

Across the table, Emily nodded silently as she pushed her food around the plate.

“Now what’s the matter with you this fine morning?” Father stood up and came around the table to stand beside her. “I thought you’d be a least a little excited about getting things for your new dress and all.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “Em?”

“What? Oh, sure I am.” She looked up at Father, forcing a smile. “Let me get the table cleared and I’ll be ready to go.”

While Father went to hitch the team to the wagon, Emily cleaned up then grabbed her bonnet and shawl and met him outside.

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100% Happy?

I just had to share this little picture. E and I were having breakfast this morning and he loves oatmeal. He also loves raisins in his oatmeal; me – not so much. I guess that’s why the raisin box was sitting with this side to me across the table. I couldn’t help but notice this little sign on the back of the box. You know me, I couldn’t help but draw an analogy – not to breakfast but to real life.
They don’t want you to just be happy; they want you to be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT happy!
I thought of a dear friend and something he said from the pulpit years ago. “Happiness depends on happenings but JOY depends on Jesus”. Pretty straightforward, really.
Can we ever be really happy in this life? Maybe. Sometimes. One hundred percent? I doubt it. But the joy that Jesus gives is everlasting, eternal, deep, abiding.
This is really timely, being that we just had one of the most difficult nights in GriefShare last night. It was the night we “tell our stories”; who we lost, why we came, etc. It is a night of remembrance, tears and pain. There is no happiness in that room, only the emotions we feel as we relive the pain of the loss with everyone else in the room. After we finish, I ask everyone to take a huge deep breath and let it out slowly, then take another. You can hear the rush of air and the release of the heaviness and angst. We dismiss and people go home to live and fight another day. But, as time goes on and they return night after night to express emotions, shed tears and hear God’s truth about pain and suffering, something begins to happen. One bears witness with another and I begin to hear things like, “I know just what you mean” or “I had those thoughts too”. We find we are not alone with our feelings, our fears, our doubts and, if we spend all our time with them, they will overpower us and force us to live defeated lives.

I would suggest to you we are NOT defeated! Quite the contrary! We are sons and daughters of the Most High God; the Creator of the Universe and everything in it! Wow, how’s that for an eye-opener? It should open our eyes and our hearts to trust the One that not only hung each star in the night sky but knows the number of hairs on our heads. Over 300 times in the Bible, God tells us not to fear. He knows our human tendancies so He provides help to overcome with Phillipians 4:8.

I know things may not be going your way right now. They sure aren’t for me. I know it’s hard to get up and put a smile on your face; sometimes it might be hard just to lift your head. We all go through the “valley” of trial and trouble but…take comfort, my precious friend. Our Heavenly Father will not only see you through that valley, He will walk with you every step of the way. Contrary to what some may believe, we (as Christians) are not – and were never – promised a perfect life with no problems. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “If you’re riding a train and it passes through a dark tunnel, you don’t tear up your ticket and jump off. You sit and trust the engineer.”  Wise words.

In the midst of my “valley” today, I think I’ll sit, “meditate” and trust the engineer. It is my heartfelt prayer that you will too.

“Finally, brethern, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworth – meditate on these things.” Phillipians 4:8

Loveland

Hey there, die-hard friends and blog followers! I want you to know that I appreciate your love and encouragement these past few (very hard) years. I have taken an amazing suggestion from a very wise man (my “E”) and decided to do something a little different on this blog for a short time. For those of you that braved my first book (bless your hearts!), you know it lacked in many areas and I admit that. Oh come on now, let’s be honest and call a spade a spade. Regardless, it is my intent to re-write the book, using the same storyline that many of you said had merit. So…what I’m proposing to do for a short time on this blog is to revise “Emily’s”, page by page and share it with you here.

Let’s get started. Oh, and I would really welcome your comments and criticisms – it’s okay, I’m a big girl!

EMILY’S THREE MIRACLES by Pam Long

CHAPTER ONE: The Dreamer

The river moved swiftly past Emily as she sat on a big rock at the edge. She took off her shoes and slowly dipped her toes in the icy ripples of the Big Thompson River. She caught her breath and quickly jerked both feet out as the cold sent a shiver up her back. Gracious! I’m not so sure a soak in the river is what I needed after all! The Big Thompson ran through one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in all of Colorado the Big Thompson Canyon and Emily loved to walk the mile or so down to the river to think. In fact, it was where she did her best thinking. Everyone else called it dreaming but, to Emily Rose MacGregor, it was just thinking; thinking about how she wished her life could be. There was little else that could sweep her away, even for a short time, from the life she and her family lived in the small community of Loveland in the rugged Colorado mountains.

She had come down to the river to think about the dance. It was still a month away and she had plenty of time to sew a new dress but it wasn’t the dress Emily was really thinking about. Living in a place like Loveland for all of her eighteen years, she dearly loved her life and was thankful enough for it but she longed for a life like the heroines had that she read about in the books she bought at the Mercantile. They were beautiful and had exciting adventures with handsome heroes that swept them off their feet and they always lived happily ever after. Emily wanted that too but she was certain excitement and adventure would never find her in Loveland. She had never considered herself pretty but she was. Her fair skin did not show the fact that she spent every waking minute she could outside in the clean Colorado air, except for the occasional freckle on the bridge of her nose. Her long reddish-brown hair was wavy when it hung loose but most days it was pulled back into a long braid that hung down her back to her waist. Petite, like her mother, Father said she was a wonderful mixture of “princess and tomboy with just a touch of Irish fire”.

That Irish fire was what made her determined to find him – the RIGHT one, the ONE God intended for her and her only – her knight in shining armor. Hard to find a knight  when you don’t live anywhere near a castle! She chuckled as she put her shoes back on. She pulled her knees up to her chest as she remembered what Father always told her. “Don’t try so hard, Em honey. Love will find you in God’s timing. Just keep praying and be patient.”

She jumped off the rock and found a thick patch of grass under one of the giant sycamore trees a few feet away from the water’s edge. She layed on her back, looking up at the sky, blue as a robin’s egg and whispered the same prayer she’d prayed almost every day for more than a year now. “Thank You for this day, Lord. Thank You for all You have seen fit to give us. I don’t want You to think I’m not grateful but…” She closed her eyes. “Could You send him soon?” She paused. “He’s just got to be coming soon, doesn’t he?” She waited, eyes closed, as if she might hear an answer to her questions but none came. The only sounds she heard were the mocking birds singing to each other in the tree tops and the rushing of the river as it flowed on its way through the canyon. After an hour or so, Emily got up and headed back to the cabin. It was getting into the evening and she would need to get dinner started before Father got home from the mill.

Donovan MacGregor and his brother, Ian, owned the only saw mill in town. As young men, they had immigrated from Ireland with their life savings, set to purchase some land and begin their own logging business. She loved her uncle’s stories about the adventures they had on their journey to America and how they fell in love with two sisters in New York, Eileen and Sarah. Irish themselves, they married the MacGregor brothers and eventually moved to make their fortunes in Colorado. Uncle Ian would always end his stories by slapping Father on the back and saying, “We had some rough times but we always had the Almighty on our side, didn’t we, Brother?” Father would hug him back and smile. “Aye, that we did, Brother. That we did.” During those times, Emily knew Father was thinking about his beloved Eileen.

Emily was only twelve when her mother died giving birth to twin boys. It had been a difficult pregnancy for Eileen MacGregor and she had been ill for more than a month before the babies were born. She had labored so long and was so weak that she barely lived long enough to see her baby boys. Doc Ramsey, the town physician, had worked frantically that night and into the next day to save the twins but they were just too small and fragile and they died that next afternoon.

It was a tragic thing no one could understand, least of all Emily. Sadness was a part of the MacGregor household for a long time. Emily and her father clung to each other and their faith in God as they dealt with their grief and sorrow. There remained a deep sadness in Donovan MacGregor for years that even Emily couldn’t take away as he mourned, not only for the only woman he’d ever loved, but for the sons he would never have.

TUNE IN AGAIN FOR THE REST OF CHAPTER ONE…remember, comments are welcomed!