About alivingpencil

Hi, I'm Carol. My life is full of solid joys, deep sorrows, and aggressive hope. I search for truth, beauty, goodness, amusement, and comfort in books, music, worship, photos, conversation. I'm fond of the *idea* of gardening, writing, exercising and practicing scales. Cooking is the best fun with a friend. I like to talk, but it's harder to write.

Dropped Tail Pipe and Muffler

Monday, May 27, 1957

Dearest John,

Monday morning and I am not getting a thing done—sorta let down after yesterday. After reading your letter and hearing about your visit to the Millers, we decided that we would go down for a visit. So Sunday afternoon we ate our dinner then drove down and got back here in time for church. [Sunday evening service] Ed Dillon Jr. had the pulpit yesterday. [Plymouth Brethren share the pulpit between local and visiting preachers] We got to all the morning services, too. So it was a full day for us, and we were all too tired to get up this morning. For all that I am getting done, I would have done better to stay in bed.

This afternoon we (or I) go to the doctor and Mrs. Wolcott is going to take care of the two boys for me. The boys right away asked if they could take “Stories for Children” along to play on her record player and I said that they could.

Winne wants to drive down to commencement on Friday night and then drive right back right after that. If I can work it out I will come along—and leave the children here. That way I will be back in time to get things ready here for the recital on Saturday and straightened out for Sunday. But judging from past weeks, so much can happen in a few days that I am not counting on coming until I am on my way. We’ll not get there much ahead of time, so it will be a short sight of you, which will not be easy. But knowing that you’ll be home Sunday will help.

Yesterday we must have dropped the tail pipe and muffler along the road somewhere. I was careful not to drive above my regular 45 [mph] so as not to have oil trouble, etc. But on the way home the car began to sound horrible. And is it terrible now. I thought of taking it in to Don and Arnold’s but didn’t know if that was a job you would want to do or not, so I’ll stick close to home after today and wait until you get here, unless I hear from you to go ahead and get it done.

There are several of the young people that really need special help and prayer. I feel that that is a ministry I could do and am not doing and so far am certainly just wishing that I would; but haven’t the back bone to buckle down to business in intercessory prayer.

Miserably windy cold day today. I should make a fire, but I keep hoping it will warm enough so that I don’t have to do it.

Dave told me to get the youngsters’ registrations in to camp this year as someone in the meeting is going to pay for them, so I must do that today. They surprise me and are rather reluctant to want to go. They had hoped that we would be there for the whole time, but unless more buildings get finished that is out for at least the first of the season. Rain again most of Saturday at the lake so not much building could get done. It rained here in the afternoon – just when the parade for Michigan Week was to begin. They went on with it, bands playing away in a downpour. I took the youngsters in for it; we sat in the car to watch.

Well, I will close and make an effort to get things straightened out here before I go to town. When problems come up like the car, and a few others, I feel so helpless in knowing what is best to do—and how glad I will be to have you home. Like Jimmy says, “Daddy can fix anything.” But it is not primarily a handy man that I need here. To have your love and fellowship in person will be appreciated more than ever after these months. And still I must marvel at the way the Lord has worked things out this winter and taken care of us.

Always yours, Nellie

P.S. Jimmy and his questions. “Do we have ragged clothing?”
“The shirt you have on now is, but most things are good.” (I thought someone at Millers had said something. I don’t know how he wore that one there.) “Why?”
“Well, our teacher says, God said our clothes are filthy rags.”
So, I tried to explain that.
This morning – “How can we give our money to the Lord?”
“By giving it to people working for the Lord like Aunt Betty or Mert and Jane.”
“Well, how do they reach up to the Lord?”
More explanations. One thing is sure – Jimmy thinks.

Clothes Conundrum

Nellie’s great-granddaughter, Aria, modeling in 2014

Saturday, May 25, 1957

My Dearest,

Johnny brought home this story yesterday. Mrs. Lewis told them to write what they wanted and sound out the words they didn’t know how to spell. Not bad, eh? [I wish I could read it]

Haven’t been to town all week so I must go today in time to get to the bank. I started cleaning out drawers, etc. yesterday and today feel swamped with work. Keeping this size family’s clothes in shape is a huge task. If we only lived in the mountains where jeans were proper for everything.

Windy and cool today – I may have to start another fire. Except for colds, the family seems about back to normal. Jimmy has the worst cold now.

I asked Gertrude if there was anything I could do for the recital and got the job of writing out the invitations and typing the programs. So I must get that done today.

I expect you feel swamped right now too with all that is coming up. In a way I’m sorry you have to speak on the second [6-2-57], but there wasn’t much you could do about that. It will rush you. We’ll try to be good and let you sleep a lot the next week!!! That’s a hard assignment for us!

Now I’d better close and get to town. David is with Marvin but the rest are going with me, which really taxes my patience in town. They haven’t gone for a long time and in the long run I feel better taking them than leaving them home alone.

This seems hasty to send, my sweetheart, but the only reason I’m writing is that I do love you. Anyone else could wait. And I miss you so very much.

Always yours,
Nellie

Some Household.

May 22, 1957

Dear Daddy,

I am home today and probly tomorrow with scarletina [strep throat with a rash or scarlet fever]. Margaret has lost her voice and Jimmy has the measles. So I am writing you instead of her writing you.

Mrs. Wolcott came over last night and ironed lots of clothes for us. I can’t spell nothing today [n-o-t-h-i-n-g, haha!]. I as asking Mother everything.

[Mom’s handwriting] And she asked me to finish it! Ralph [Wolcott] had a meeting so Louise came over here and how it helped out. …

Jimmy is not very sick yet, but I can’t keep him down. Danny can’t throw off his cold. The girls are not so sick but, you know—just bad enough to not stay in bed all the time, but bad enough to be restless and cranky. Some household. Wish I didn’t have prayer meeting tonight – hard to get prepared in this atmosphere.

How I miss you—last night we had a terrific storm. Rain and wind. Children slept through it all, but I didn’t. Ralph suggests we go to commencement and return that night in their car as he gets off work that night. It is the only way I could come, as the girls have a recital on the [page cut off]. I’ll have to be here.

Talking Faith with a Salesman

[No date]
Another hard rain last night

My Dearest,

Lots of confusion around here. While I was getting ready for prayer meeting yesterday Dale Sowers [Fuller Brush sales guy?] came in – and talked and talked. He always brings up scripture and the sum of it was 1. Can the Bible be all true? 2. He believes Jesus is God’s Son – but not God. Sounds foolish to us that have always believed, but I can understand that.

What seemed to impress him most was just before he left he asked about your salary – not what it was, but what denomination paid it. When I told him how it was received he really gasped. “You mean – before I come back to deliver you will have to ask the Lord for enough for this?” I said that that was precisely what had happened the last time — and it came in the mail before he came!! “Now,” I said “Do you see why I can unreservedly believe the promises of the Bible as God’s word and true, and that Jesus is God?” But I sometimes feel his interest is insincere – just a good salesman. He actually sees no need of a Saviour.

As he left Danny came downstairs from his nap – with a case of diarrhea drooling all over the room. Just cleaned that up when David came in from school white as a sheet and dropped down sick. So I called up and said I couldn’t get to prayer meeting. David was back to normal this a.m. and went to school. Jimmy seems to be getting over the measles like it was the three day ones. Dorothy is up today. I’ve been mending.

Counting the days,
Nellie

Phone Call and Flowers

Monday 5-15-57

Just a P.S. this morning. I forgot to take the letter along to mail on Saturday and then the beautiful corsage came so I wanted to write more – and then your telephone call came. How nice of you to remember me in so many ways. The girls were as thrilled as I was with the corsage. They didn’t know that they made such beautiful things. And Dorothy about split when she answered the phone and it was you. Danny wouldn’t say a word but surely grinned and talked about it all evening.

Jimmy seemed to be so perky in the afternoon that I decided that maybe he wasn’t getting the measles, but just a cold. Even the cold seemed to have disappeared after his nap. But I checked his temp before started to dress for church and he had a whole degree so I left him home with the girls and went with David and Johnny. These longer evenings they don’t mind staying so much. They locked the doors and I left instructions about what to do if an emergency should come up. Be best to call the Bogens or Twitchells as they are usually home and it is hard to reach anyone at the chapel.

Arthur Hart, Jr. is to be at the chapel on Thursday night, so they are postponing prayer meeting until then. So if Jimmy is too sick for me to go the youngsters will be upstairs.

As I told you on the phone, Mrs. Warner brought out some records for the family. 45’s and 78’s. A lot of Bev Shea, too. She seems to gradually getting back to normal.

When I went to Howe on Saturday afternoon, I saw some nice tomato plants and, as it had quit raining, I bought a dozen to put out. I have never planted them so early before, so wonder how they will do. They look alright so far, if we don’t have a cool week before June.

Lots to do today, so I had better get to it. Danny crumbled cookies all over the davenport and Jimmy is sweeping them up this morning while I type this.

I surely did enjoy hearing from you yesterday and since you had called on Wednesday night, both the flowers and the call were very much of a surprise and such lovely surprises. Thank you so very much, sweetheart – you are surely good to me, so much more than I deserve and certainly giving more than you receive. I do love you with all my heart.

Always yours,
Nellie

Zacchaeus Kissing in the Tree

Saturday 5-13-57

My Sweetheart,

A rainy cloudy day so we are not getting anything done in the garden. I was hoping that we could, since David is home. He makes a good gardener, especially if I work along with him out there. But this rain should help our corn and potatoes to sprout that are already planted.

I was feeling rather blue last night because I didn’t make arrangements to come down to the banquet. I kept thinking that Jimmy would be coming down with the measles, so didn’t give it much serious thought until yesterday. Then just as supper time arrived Mrs. Wolcott called to remind us of an announcement that I hadn’t even heard that Leonard Brooks would be at the Chapel to speak. So it was good to have my mind diverted and we hustled around and went to that. We did enjoy his testimony – he went back and told a good bit about the war days there, then of his work and studies here in the states, and now how he is going back. Then he showed pictures of the work there. I’m glad that we got there.

After the meeting I called Mrs. Storms over to ask her if Karen and Mary Ellen would consider staying with the youngsters if I should be able to get away for any of the graduation exercises down at Emmaus [the college where my dad taught]. She thought that they would be glad to do it if I had confidence in them. The youngsters love them and would not mind being left with them. So if dates do not conflict with graduation here, why, I would like to come down and make an appearance before school is out. After hearing of the work all year, it would be a treat to see the student body and see, at least, the finish. Providing that would work out O.K. with your time there. I really would not enjoy it much if I couldn’t see a little of you.

Well, today Jimmy has a hollow cough, a half degree of temperature, and a nose that is beginning to trickle – so you can guess what is coming! He doesn’t complain and is playing inside as it is damp and cold out. I have a little fire going in the house.

I could write a page or two about Jimmy and the things he says. Time has not much meaning to a four year old. He came in last Sunday morning to ask if he could wear the overalls he had worn the day before. I said, “No, this is Sunday.” Beaming, he asked “Oh, is this tomorrow when we go to Sunday School?”
“How long till my birthday?” “Two more months.” “Is that as long as a year?”
Another time, “How long until the school bus comes?” “Just a few minutes.”
“Will that be about an hour?” I smile and give up.

The other day he came running in, “I know why Jesus came to earth.”
“Why?” I asked.
“To die on the cross for us,” was his answer and off he ran.
Next thing I heard him singing, “Zacchaeus kissing in the tree —-“
Did you catch your breath like I did? That line comes from a rhyme they use to tease the girls about their boyfriends.

I just told him yesterday that he was to visit kindergarten next week and we have been going through the questions of how long it is till then. It will be hard to break the news to him that he can’t go now with the measles! I’ll not say anything until he feels punk enough that he won’t feel like going anyhow.

The girls brought in a lovely bouquet of lilacs and narcissus.

I have to go to Howe for gas, milnot [canned milk], and want some seeds from the hardware store down there. So I had better stop this Saturday chatter and get to moving. Always plenty to do on Saturdays.

I hope someone moves in here that wants a large garden – as I still feel sure that we will be doing something else besides taking care of that this summer.

I love you, and am as bad as the youngsters about counting the days until school will be out this year. I hope you get a little extra sleep this week end – and you had better not count on coming home until school is out. If that Sorenson house should develop into a possibility perhaps that can be an excuse for me to come down on a Friday and then back on Saturday afternoon, so we’ll be together at least once this month and save you the tiring trip home when you have so much to get finished up. I’ll bring David along as he knows how to change tires and I don’t care to travel alone that far. Well, we’ll see, and I’ll not feel too badly if nothing develops so that I can come down.

Always yours,
Nellie

Buying Groceries

Friday 5-10-57

My Dearest John,

This will be another hurried note as the mail man may come in 15 or 20 minutes. But this letter came today or yesterday and I wanted to get it forwarded to you. [They lived on the gifts of individuals; most of them came in the mail.] Perhaps I shouldn’t have opened it, but most such letters have been for the correspondent so I never know just what to do. [??] While being so nervy [smile] I kept the $35 check and put it in the bank this morning. Soon the milk bill will need to be paid.

Spent $25 on groceries this morning! But I got three large chucks to put in the deep freeze for steaks.

The carrier is early, so I’ll close.

Love from us all,
Nellie

Wise and Gracious and Kind

Thursday 5-09-57

Dearest Sweetheart,

How good it was to talk to you last night — and so much excitement. The folks came in just as we were working on supper. Danny fortunately turned the oven off, or the chuck roast would have been done and we would have eaten before they came. As it was, we hadn’t eaten and Mother had brought some steaks from Howe – delicious – which we broiled; along with some fresh beans, we had a delicious supper. Set the table in the dining room, and Danny wondered what was up! Not Sunday. And now my supper is all cooked for tonight!

They left about 10 this a.m. Wolcotts came over to see if they could help get the car carrier on top and so we visited somewhat longer, but it was good fellowship. Mother dug a bag of dandelions to take home for their supper. [what?!!]

Danny seems to be back to normal this morning. So good to have him that way. He really loved his granddaddy.

How I would love to come for the banquet and I would feel so proud to be beside you. I was thinking this morning about how I could manage it, but anyway you look at it, it would mean a lot of maneuvering, unless there was someone to just come in and take over.

Mother said to tell you to call Wayne Sorenson about the house, and if it is what we want, to inquire about renting it until we could get a payment ready. They want to sell, and talk like they would just dispose of their things. Mother says that there is an apartment upstairs in that house that the Rogers stayed in when they were home. The folks need a place to call home base, and we seem the likely ones to provide that. I’d love to. They would like to just give us the things from their house that we could use. Perhaps the Lord is going to work this all out so that when they can sell, we can have a place to move to and take their things. Norwood meeting [a Plymouth Brethren chapel in suburb of Chicago] would be nice to attend, although I believe it would be good for us to be in a smaller place that needs building up, i.e. La Grange.

Of course, Daddy reminds us of the high cost of living there, taxes, etc. and told me that Harlowe’s house is for sale as it is costing them too much to maintain it – taxes being raised in Wheaton again this year. Said we might get it!

While the folks would be glad to use money from the sale of their house for a down payment, I believe it would be better if we would ask the Lord to help us meet that ourselves. [GO MOM!] Perhaps that is pride and wanting independence, but I would feel that it would be a clearer leading of the Lord that this is the place for us.

You are tired now and the thought of camp seems too much, but if this house deal doesn’t develop, it seems to me that we should plan to go up to help, if they still need us. I believe it could be worked out so that you could get as much studying done there as you could here at this house.

While the folks are willing to sell out in order to be more free to serve the Lord, I don’t believe that will be necessary. As long as the children are little I’ll be home bound and would love to help out in their ministry by keeping a place for them and doing what I can for them to lighten their load. While it may be cheaper to live the way we are now – that is only figured in dollars and cents and not in cost of the need of the family or your physical strength being used to come back and forth.

Now I must close — lunch time. The boys were in a little while ago with an apple to eat. Guess they had inside information that it was near noon! I love you, Sweetheart, and we are surely praying for you these closing weeks of school. Get as much rest as you can. The work will go faster when you do get to it then. Cut down on the exams — the students are tired, too! Ahem!

All our love,
Nellie

Spiritual depression

Monday a.m. 5-09-57

My Dearest:

It was so good to get your letter on Saturday and the money enclosed will take care of all bills to date. How faithfully the Lord has supplied our needs this year. The news of the house sounds encouraging, however, I haven’t even mentioned it to the children until you know more about it. One thing I have noticed is that they often pray for a house now, and before, they just weren’t interested in one at all. Leave it to Mother to find a place.

My heart aches when I read about how down you feel spiritually. I know exactly what you mean, but I somehow believe that the physical has something to do with it. Read Mueller – the appendix – on getting the needful rest for the body. And then one of the reasons he started the orphanages was to show people that the Lord would supply what was needed, because in that day people were working 14 to 16 hours a day, leaving only time for a hurried prayer and a verse a day. He believed they should cut down on the work, even if it meant trusting the Lord for some of their needs so that the inner man could be fed and grow.

Teaching all week, traveling on week ends, with trying to take your place as a father in the home is perhaps more physically than you can do and keep the spiritual life warm and vibrant. I’m praying that your need will be met – if it is more than this, may the Lord show you and help you to yield all. Both of us lack self-discipline and I know that leads to defeat.

I stayed home from all services yesterday. I never thought, but I could have left Dorothy with Danny during morning meeting and gone and then taken them to Sunday School. Next time that happens I will do that, as I miss not being out – three weeks now for me.

Danny is up and around, but his eyes are still weak and he tires easily. Has a great ‘My’ complex. ‘My Daddy’ tops them all and no one else can shout him in that claim. He also claims the bike, which causes Jimmy some trouble. Jimmy still has no sign of measles and declares he is not going to get them.

Mary Lou MacPherson brought me about six lovely m. [maternity] dresses. I’ll be the best dressed for this one than I have ever been. Maybe the Lord is providing in case we are going to be working more in the public this summer.

The rally was fine yesterday according to the children’s report. They enjoyed it all and Dorothy gave her Welcome O.K. she said. Her brothers tormented her about being so nervous, etc., but she said that she really wasn’t. Had the center section of the auditorium filled.

Beautiful weather again today – makes me want to forget the house and get outdoors. I will do some while Danny sleeps this afternoon. Now I had better close. I love you so very much and do pray that we can be together not only this summer, but this coming year. More perhaps tomorrow.

Always yours with love,
Nellie

Going to Bed Before Dark

Wednesday, May 8, 1957

My Dearest John,

I have been sitting at the desk this morning getting things ready for prayer meeting tonight and will take time to get a note off to you before starting the more mundane tasks around the house.

I believe that I will tell the children the trip that H. LaBuff has told about in the Fields that came yesterday into the tribes of the Laos country. In case you haven’t seen it, you will be greatly interested in it and probably read it several times as I have done. Among other reasons is that Orville Carlson was one of the fellows making the trip. How often I think of the way the Lord has rewarded Hazel in giving her a real man of God for a husband when she obeyed Him. Not that Leonard wasn’t, but that she chose the Lord’s will first. Makes me wish again, and again review our lives, to see what has kept us from the foreign field when workers are sorely needed and there are places that are still offering human lives in sacrifices. Somewhere it seems that we have chosen second best – may He take what is left and use it to the fullest.

Nothing new around here in the way of news – just staying by the stuff and trying to take care of it. The youngsters are anxious for school to be out as they don’t like going to bed before it is dark, but they almost have to in order to get enough rest, especially when they play outdoors. Danny is out today – and he loves it. Seems to be about well. Has a couple of coughing spells a day, but that is all.

Mrs. Warner called and asked what the records cost. I told her six dollars. I couldn’t remember what else you said. They like Tennessee Ernie. She will be sending the money to you. I found the camp folder and will enclose it. We haven’t heard a thing from the folks and are wondering how they are.

I think I will close now – except to remind you that we all love you and are praying for you. We are earnestly praying for you these days and for the decisions that must be made. I read the book “Sister Abigail” last night – how the Lord directed and provided and used here. The same Lord is ours and is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.

All my love — Always,
Nellie