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

My Tummy Isn’t What It Was

Saturday 5-4-57

My Dearest John,

I just got home from shopping so will get a note off to you before I start lunch. Spent $18 on groceries this week, but quite a bit of it went into the deep freeze so I guess that is not too bad. Lots of day-old bread on sale, a half gallon of ice cream at 59¢ and a pork roast in the freezer. Also go fryers for 29¢ for dinner tomorrow. I guess that I should have gotten a couple for the freezer, but the pocket book wouldn’t take that.

Perhaps you are wondering where the money came from. The Lord directed others and are needs are being met – the enclosed letter from Wheaton explains $30 that was sent here yesterday, and Kreimes sent $24 for insurance that I used. Got the rent paid, groceries for today, and enough for offering tomorrow. Still have the utilities, gas, and telephone, plus insurance that will have to be paid this coming week, so if mail comes from you today, those things will be taken care of.

Danny stayed with the girls this morning without complaining much. He is feeling much better, but still has a bad cough, cold, and measles on his body. But the temp is down a lot and he wants to get going, though he tires easily. I won’t take him out tomorrow and it is the rally for CEF [Child Evangelism Fellowship] which disappoints the youngsters. They will go, but I won’t hear Dorothy’s Welcome Speech.

Got the whole downstairs cleaned yesterday – really cleaned, floors even waxed. It won’t last long, as sand is tracked in by the shovelful. It is beautiful pure sand that they dug up from the sewer hole, and the children play in it and bring it in. This afternoon while Danny naps we hope to start our garden.

Have had a good fire going yesterday and today – a cold wind blowing – so different from the first of the week.

I have a terrible headache. Dieting always causes constipation. Guess I’ll have to choke down some all bran today. Dr. said to take mineral oil or milk of magnesia whenever I wanted it, but they are both terrible, too.

The package came from Sears that Mrs. Warner ordered. Two lovely dresses – dark blue with a white collar, lovely for Sunday, and a navy blue with pink-rose top that is lovely, too. Smock type. David keeps kidding me about starting in to wear them. Since I’ve lost some weight my regular dresses still fit, though I guess my tummy isn’t what it was.

David just brought a pup in. The eyes are open now. Two weeks old today. My typing is horrid, but I guess you can take me by what I mean and not what I write.

As much as we would like to see you and are waiting for summer, I still think that you had better stay near school next weekend and try to get caught up with your papers, etc. It should all be done soon, and if it goes to the last week, you’ll be a wreck for the whole month of June which is no good. Another thing about staying near school this summer — perhaps you could work on the radio programs that Dan Ball has been working on. Camp still intrigues me, but unless we ate in the dining room all summer I can’t see where with our size family we could get much done outside of taking care of them. I keep looking for ideas in case we do go, and at the same time, work on things here in case we move to Chicago. We are praying and planting as though we will stay here! Quite a situation! If we do stay, let’s think about a trip to Washington.

I can day dream and suppose a lot – eh? Well, I had better close and get down to realities – plenty of them around here. I love you and marvel at the Lord giving me such a patient, loving husband, when I am so much the opposite.

All my love,
Nellie
xxxxxx

Like Children Waiting for Christmas

Thursday 5-2-57

My Dearest,

The days seem so long with you gone – perhaps more so now than ever because we have turned our calendar to May and this is the last month to wait. Like children waiting for Christmas. And still I can hardly believe that the year is so nearly gone by.

Danny is feeling better today but acting worse!! Not sick enough to just be rocked, or sleep and cries at every little thing that displeases him. He is certainly coming along faster than Johnny! And Jimmy is lost today without his gold-dust twin. Johnny was up early today, dressed, and anxious to go. This week he even said, “Mrs. Lewis is so nice!” Quite a change of tune!! Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

We are ruining our desk top and glass by letting Danny and the others crawl on top to watch the record player. Sand has gotten under the glass and scratched the top and glass and somehow a large corner was broken off this last weekend – right corner of desk, about 6″x8″.

David and I are going to try to start planting garden yet this week. David has been working hard on the lawn, mowing it. The girls can get supper while we work outside. Danny should let me out of his sight by tonight.

Mary Dillon brought over a pair of medium blue summer pants for you. Still a lot of wear in them. The girls went to prayer meeting. I guess they enjoyed it, but it was a long meeting, 7-9. Glad I didn’t have the children downstairs all that time. Gerrard from Argentina was there.

I’ll close for now — not any news but I’m lonesome and wanted to talk to you. So this note. Beautiful spring now – need you to enjoy it with me.

All my love,
Nellie

A Letter to Mom

I wrote a poem using the Golden Shovel form that I learned from the poet Nikki Grimes. This form uses the words from one poem to create a new poem, using the original as the last words of each line. I was looking for a Mother’s Day poem, and happened across the words my son Carson once wrote to me. Thank you, Sonny! I honor you for the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that you poured into me as a child; and want you to know that these have been small seeds planted in my life, but they have reaped a bounty of blessings on me.

To Nellie Harper (3/23/1920 – 5/7/1968)

Your letters to Dad came to mind as I
longed for a way to love and honor
your memory, your rich legacy. You
never imagined that strangers would look for
your quotidian news with pleasure. The
grace with which you accepted the hard
reality of separation and leaned into your work
kindles my affection and warms my blood.
You were never one to sweat
the small stuff, nor did you melt when things got tough. And

though you confess to getting depressed, tears
on your face are no memory that
your children hold. You
made tuna sandwiches and poured
milk with good cheer, not going into
a dither when money ran out. For me,
I wish I had studied these letters as
a young mother. They are a
fount of wisdom in child
nourishing. And

though we lacked funds, there was no want
in faith, in affection, in friendship. You
took your youngsters to
Sunday School, taught them to know
God, their Heavenly Father, and trust that
He would provide all of these
needs. What wealth we have!

Your story has been
full of love for people, both great and small.
You scattered seeds
of kindness and planted
strength, courage and truth in
my siblings and into my
beautiful and blessed life.
I miss you fiercely, but

I am grateful for your letters. They
remind me again of all we have
been given. Your investment in lives has reaped
a harvest whose yield continues, a
compounding bounty.
You sang a song of the faithfulness of
God, of morning’s new mercies, of blessings
all mine, of bright hope for tomorrow. On
this Mother’s Day I thank you for loving me.

The brothers: Jimmy, David, Danny, Johnny
The sisters: Margaret, Dorothy, with Carol (me) in front
The parents: Nellie and John Harper

It Amazes Me

Monday 4-23-57

My Dearest,

Time for another epistle to my beloved. I like to write to you, but sometimes I have trouble taking time to write so that it doesn’t sound like a hasty afterthought.

Your phone call Sat. night was a real treat, although I nearly broke my back to get to the phone. I was in the tub again! My feet were wet and I slipped on the floor. Dorothy was awake and I should have called for her to answer, but I thought I could get there just as soon. Funny, I can think of reams of talk when going around the house during the day, but I almost feel like I can’t think of anything worth saying when a long-distance call comes. I do hope that you are feeling better now. Much of it must be from being tired and burning the candle at both ends. We are praying for you and hope that you’ll feel better so that the last six weeks of this [school] year might be enjoyable ones for you.

Today Johnny’s temp dropped and his measles are a little lighter. He had the full dose — awful cough, eyes matted shut, and some earache. I expect that I’ll keep him home from school all this week. Dr. Fiegel said that it is contagious as long as there are any spots at all.

While Johnny was asleep yesterday I ran the youngsters into Sunday School and asked Roger Damer to bring them home, which he did. Then we didn’t go in the evening. Today because of school vacation, Dillon came out after the youngsters for Good News Club and then Mary Lou brought them home. I could have left Dorothy here with him, but they offered and I felt a little better. It seems that I have to leave them a lot more than I anticipated doing this year, as it is.

Those capsules the Dr. gave me for my appetite may help a little, although without self-control I could eat everything in sight. But they have certainly helped that dragged out feeling I’ve had for the last two or three months. I have been able to do an honest day’s work for a change. I’m so thankful because the work was getting so far behind that it seemed impossible. Ironing to do by the bushel, etc. You’ll have to try one when you get home!

We have had some sun and showers by turn today. it was cold this morning and because of Johnny I tried to make a fire. The thing didn’t really catch until later in the morning and now we are really warm in the house. We’ll have such changeable temperatures for a few weeks.

Did you see the Sword of the Lord recently – Rice’s ultimatum to Plymouth Brethren and Pete Fleming’s book? [Peter Fleming was one of the 5 missionaries killed in Ecuador a year before in 1956.] Also McClain had an article in that. I had already read it in the Missionary Herald.

The youngsters have really been playing on their Monopoly set – I bought it for them with the money that the folks sent.

David has been out with Marv again this morning — plowing and moving some fence posts. He lives for that and his main object to leaving here is Marvin. The other day, however, he voiced a real desire to have a boy his own age to play with. I with that could be so, but I don’t know who it would be around here.

I wanted to get this in the mail this morning, but when I thought I had time between washing and lunch, Johnny demanded some attention, it was for some lunch, and I was so glad to see him hungry that I hastened to prepare it. In those few seconds he dropped off to sleep and wouldn’t eat then! I know that he is feeling better because he wants so much more attention – “What can I do?” is the question.

I’ll close for now and perhaps get more written before mail time tomorrow morning. Je t’aime (tres) beaucoup. On the week before you get home, we really count the days off until your day. We say Friday to make it sound shorter although we all know it will be nearer Saturday when we will likely see you. It amazes me, when everything seems to count to that, only Danny seems to be able to show the love and affection he feels when you get here. I can’t quite figure out why, or the remedy. Self-conscious, I guess.

[to be continued the next day]