MISS ESTHER STUDIES GOD’S WORD
Miss Esther blinked and rolled over.
She glanced at her window. The sunshine was just peeking into the outside world.
Miss Esther pulled the covers up over her head and snuggled down even deeper into her bed. It felt so warm and soft and cozy.
“Oh, I do not want to get up!” Miss Esther chuckled softly to herself and squeezed her eyes tightly shut. She took a deep breath and tried to fall back asleep.
But it didn’t work.
“Good morning, Lord.” Miss Esther rolled over with a laugh and stretched. “Thank You for a new day. I pray that the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, would be acceptable in Your sight. Thank You for being my LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. I love You.”
Miss Esther threw back the covers and slipped out of bed. She fluffed the pillows and pulled the blankets into place.
“Now, let’s see…what shall I wear today?” Miss Esther opened the lid of her trunk and considered. “I wore my cleaning outfit on Monday and the yellow dress yesterday. Ah, that’s right! Wednesday is the day I tackle desk work. I’ll choose something classy and business-like.”
Miss Esther dug through the colorful pile of dresses and skirts to find one of her favorite outfits. It was a soft blue that reminded her of the color of the sky. The lace trim and pearl buttons always encouraged her to do her very best at whatever task she had before her.
She found the dress and set it carefully to one side. In a few moments she’d stashed her nightgown in her trunk and slipped into the pretty blue calico.
“There!” Miss Esther fastened the last button with quick fingers. “Now, let’s see if my hair is in place.”
A quick trip to the mirror showed that her hair was in beautiful shape as usual.
Miss Esther picked up her quiet time things and settled down on her bed. “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for this beautiful morning.” Miss Esther stifled a sleepy yawn. “Would You help me to understand what I read in Your Word today? I want to learn whatever it is You have to teach me. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Miss Esther made note of the date in her quiet time journal and turned in her Bible to where her reading was for that day. It was John 4:43-54.
Miss Esther read eagerly of how the Lord returned to Galilee and how He healed the nobleman’s son. She read through to the last verse and then went back to the one that had caught her attention. It was verse 50.
Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
“The nobleman just took Jesus straight at His word.” Miss Esther tapped her pencil on her chin. “That’s the way I want to be. If the Lord tells me something in His Word, like the fact that Jesus died for me, then I can choose to believe it. And I certainly do believe that Jesus died for me!”
Miss Esther wrote down the verse and what she liked about it in her journal. Then she slid to her knees to talk with the Lord about what she had read. Miss Esther prayed in all kinds of positions, but her very favorite was on her knees. It helped her to remember how great the Lord was!
Miss Esther had just tucked the last of her prayer cards back into her prayer pocket when she heard a scurrying sound from nearby.
“Who can that be?” Miss Esther was puzzled and then her face lit up. “Is that you, Tiny?”
“How lovely! A very good morning to you!” Miss Esther sat down next to her bed and turned to see Tiny just beside her. “Did you have a nice day yesterday?”
“Yes.” Tiny’s tail twitched nervously.
“That’s wonderful! I did too.” Miss Esther nodded her agreement.
“Were…were…you praying just now?” Tiny’s eyes were round.
“I just finished!” Miss Esther remembered their conversation the day before. “Shall I tell you more about prayer? Would you like to pray yourself?”
Tiny Mouse nodded.
Miss Esther thought a moment. “Have you heard about God, Tiny?”
“Oh yes. He made the whole world!” Tiny smiled.
“He did! And He made us. But the beautiful thing is that He didn’t just make us, but He wants to have a personal relationship with us. He talks to us through His Word, the Bible, and we can talk to Him through prayer.”
“But how do we talk to God?” Tiny was puzzled.
“Just like you talk to me!” Miss Esther smiled. “I often like to start off by saying ‘Dear Heavenly Father’. This helps me to acknowledge Who I’m praying to and reminds me that God is my Heavenly Father. Then, I usually like to thank Him for a few things and tell Him how wonderful He is. I also like to share with Him about my day and ask for His help with things I have to do.”
“It’s that simple?” Tiny was surprised.
“It’s that simple. Prayer is talking to God.” Miss Esther smiled. “Shall we pray together, Tiny?”
Tiny nodded slowly.
Miss Esther bowed her head. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for my friend Tiny and that we could talk this morning. Would You help her to learn more about You and how wonderful You are? Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Miss Esther waited.
“Dear God, thank You for today.” Tiny’s voice was a whisper. “Would You help me to get to know You better? Thanks. Amen.”
Miss Esther lifted her head with a smile. Tiny smiled back.
“I’m quite sure He did. He loves to answer prayer, Tiny.”
“Maybe you could tell me sometime about those colorful cards you use?” Tiny’s tail twitched as a distant squeak sounded on the air.
“I’d love to! And I’ll also tell you about the One in whose name we can pray.” Miss Esther pushed herself to her knees. “It has to do with an amazing true story about God’s love for us.”
Tiny nodded in her eagerness and waved a small paw before she dashed into a tiny mouse hole.
“Lord, thank You for reminding me afresh of what a privilege it is to know how to pray.” Miss Esther rose and collected her quiet time things. “Grant me the wisdom and the words to share the gospel with Tiny next time we see each other. Prepare her heart and mine. In the meantime, help her to know that You do hear prayer.”
Miss Esther set her quiet time things on her trunk and shook out her skirts. “And now, it’s a new day! Thank You, Lord, for Wednesday! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Then Miss Esther hurried up the stairs.
The new day was only just begun.
“Good morning, Cashew!” Miss Esther moved into the library. “How is my dearest puppy today?”
Cashew trotted over, his tail wagging energetically.
“It’s the middle of the week already!” Miss Esther scratched behind Cashew’s ears. “And we have Bible study tonight!” Miss Esther glanced around the library. “Am I ever glad we already cleaned house this week!”
Miss Esther gave Cashew a friendly pat. “Alright! Let’s see about some breakfast!”
In a few minutes Miss Esther had fed her dog and ‘woken up’ the kitchen. The sun came through the window and made the whole room look cheery.
“I think we’ll make smoothie bowls for breakfast today.” Miss Esther tapped a finger on her chin in thought. “All those fresh enzymes will do us good!”
Miss Esther reached into her fruit basket and pulled out some bananas. She set them on the table and then took some strawberries and fresh yogurt from the icebox. In no time at all the blender was whirling the fresh ingredients into a thick and creamy treat.
Miss Esther had just taken down the granola from the shelf when she felt two arms slid around her shoulders. A glimpse of bright blue fabric told her who it was.
“Susanna!” Miss Esther set down the granola and moved to return her sister’s hug. “How is my favorite littlest sister this morning?”
Susanna laughed and Miss Esther’s eyes sparkled. It was a special joke between them. It was true in that Susanna was the youngest sister. But she was definitely not the shortest.
“She is very blessed!” Susanna gave Miss Esther a hearty squeeze and then drew back. “Carrots got more sleep last night and thus, so did I!”
“Wonderful!” Miss Esther reached over to turn off the blender. “How is he this morning?”
“Better.” Susanna claimed the granola and set it on the table. “I redid the wrap on his leg, so there’s no need to attend to it till tonight.”
Miss Esther nodded as she set a jar of soaked and sprouted nuts on the table. She gave the table a quick glance to make sure they had everything and didn’t see her sister Priscilla glide quietly into the kitchen.
“Susanna, you’re early!” Priscilla’s voice was surprised.
Miss Esther turned to see her sisters giving each other a good-morning hug.
“I’d better watch out or I’ll miss helping with breakfast!” Priscilla glanced at the breakfast table. “Didn’t you leave me anything to do, Susanna?”
“Nope! Beat you to it for once!” Susanna beamed. “Did you manage to get any sleep after pouring over those books about pianos last night?”
Priscilla laughed. “Yes! But I did dream about pianos.”
Miss Esther poured the smoothie mix into bowls and set one at each place at the table. The sisters would add their toppings of choice after they prayed.
“Is Carrots awake?” Miss Esther glanced to where Susanna had set the cat’s basket by the stove.
“He’s pretty sleepy.” Susanna took her seat with a smile. “Smoothies aren’t really his thing. I think he’d rather catch a little more rest.”
Miss Esther nodded and joined her sisters at the table. Priscilla thanked the Lord for the food and then the sisters set about making up the rest of their bowls. Susanna piled hers with granola and a little maple syrup. Priscilla preferred some extra strawberries with a generous serving of nuts. Miss Esther did a little bit of everything.
The table conversation quickly turned to the possibility of purchasing a piano for their home. The merits of various kinds of pianos were discussed with great energy. The MaeWell sisters were rarely at a loss when it came to having decided opinions, no matter what the subject was.
“So, the verdict is?” Miss Esther finally raised her spoon to bring the debate to a head.
“I really don’t care.” Susanna leaned back in her chair with a laugh. “So long as Priscilla likes it and it looks pretty, I’m happy.”
The sisters all laughed, but Miss Esther sent a loving look Susanna’s way.
“What would you recommend, Priscilla?” Miss Esther cleaned the last of the banana from her bowl.
“I really like the K&K brand.” Priscilla’s eyes were wide with delight. “The dynamic range is exceptional. It gives you the deep base, the clear middle and the sweet high notes.”
“How’s the action?” Susanna’s blue eyes were deep with thought. “I mean, are the keys tight or loose or what?”
“They have the perfect balance.” Priscilla grinned and then sobered. “There’s just one catch.”
“What’s that?” Miss Esther glanced at the clock to be sure they still had time to talk. They did.
“It’s more expensive.” Priscilla’s dark eyes were troubled.
Miss Esther shrugged. “It just means we’ll have to save longer.”
Priscilla relaxed and nodded. “It’d be worth it to get one we really like.”
“And let’s pray about it too!” Susanna rose to take her dishes to the sink. “Maybe someone has a K&K piano they don’t want anymore and would be willing to sell it for less. Sarai and I are getting together for lunch today. She subscribes to the newspaper so I’ll check the ads and see if there are any secondhand pianos for sale.”
The sisters moved quickly to clean up the kitchen.
“Do we have Bible study tonight?” Susanna swept the last of the crumbs from the table.
“Yes.” Miss Esther looked up with a smile. “We’re going to start studying John chapter 1 a verse at a time, remember?”
“I’ll try to have some soup on the stove for when you girls get home.” Miss Esther added another log to the fire in the stove. “There should be just enough time for you to eat before our friends arrive.”
“Sounds perfect!” Susanna tied on her bonnet and gave her sisters a wave. “See you at dinner!”
In a few moments Priscilla had donned her hat and disappeared out the door as well.
Miss Esther fed Carrots some milk for his breakfast and made sure his basket was in a place close to the stove. She watered the flowers just outside the door and then took a deep breath of the spring air.
Then Miss Esther turned and entered the house.
There was much to do before 7:00pm.
Miss Esther poured herself a glass of water and moved into the library.
“Today we work on the budget!” Miss Esther drew a deep breath. “I’m going to hope it balances at the first try!”
Miss Esther set to work to clear off the library table. She put away the books about pianos that Priscilla had brought from the village library and pushed some of the decorations to one side. At last she had a free space in which to work.
Miss Esther reached behind the armchair for her office bag. It was full of all her essentials for handling the home office. Soon she had her file folder, budget book and calculator all spread out on the table.
“Lord, would You give me Your wisdom as I work on our finances today?” Miss Esther closed her eyes for one moment. “Thank-You for providing for us so that I can actually do a budget. And if it would be Your will, could last month balance without any trouble? Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Miss Esther raised her head and reached for her budget book. After finding the page for the previous month, she took a stack of receipts from her file folder and began entering various expenses. Once assured that all purchases had been accounted for, Miss Esther reached for her calculator and began doing the math.
At long last she added all the numbers at the bottom of her budget sheet. Then she checked the total on her bank statement.
“Yes!” Miss Esther fairly squealed in her delight. “They match! Oh Lord, thank You!”
In no time at all Miss Esther had set up her budget page for the next month and sorted through her receipts.
“Fortunately we can throw most of these out!” Miss Esther tossed the scraps of paper onto a nearby chair.
She filed the receipts she needed to save and then glanced at the clock. “This didn’t take me as long as I anticipated!”
Miss Esther tucked her office supplies back into her bag and then stashed it behind the chair. “The good news is, I know how much we have in our ‘Savings’ fund and we do have the option to think about a piano, depending on what it costs.”
Miss Esther smiled. “Lord, it amazes me how well You provide for us! You are so faithful.”
Miss Esther stretched and glanced about the room as she thought about what project to tackle next.
Cashew came over and put his front paws up carefully on her skirt. He whined.
Miss Esther knelt down with a chuckle. “How about a quick walk, Cashew?”
Cashew’s tiny tail began to wag very fast.
“Run and get your leash.” Miss Esther began to move towards the kitchen. “And I’ll make sure Carrots is okay for a bit on his own.”
Cashew dashed away in high glee and Miss Esther knelt down beside Carrots.
Carrots was dozing quietly, his bandaged leg stuck out before him awkwardly.
“Carrots?” Miss Esther laid a gentle hand on the cat’s back.
Carrots stirred sleepily and looked up at her.
“Cashew and I are going for a walk. Are you okay until we get back?”
Cashew nodded and his eyes quickly closed again.
Miss Esther smiled. Carrots was normally so active. He must be catching up on sleep now that he was hurt!
In a few minutes Miss Esther had put on her hat and tied the leash to Cashew’s collar. Together they stepped out into the crisp morning air. Miss Esther locked the door behind them and glanced down the street.
“How about we go down to Bluebell Lawn, Cashew?”
“Whoof!” Cashew started off in that direction.
Miss Esther had to hurry to keep up with him. Past the library, the church, the Bethany Bread House and the dock they went. Miss Esther gave a friendly wave to all she saw but there was no time to talk. Soon they had hurried past the Understanding University and were descending the steps to the Lawn.
Once they reached the large, grassy area, Miss Esther undid Cashew’s leash. Then she took his face in her two hands.
“You will come if I call, Cashew?”
“Okay.” Miss Esther nodded. “You can run around the lawn to your heart’s content.”
Cashew was off in a flash and Miss Esther chuckled. She found a seat on a nearby bench and gave herself permission to take in the view.
“I never would have thought I’d have time for this today!” Miss Esther shook her head. “But it’s so refreshing! Thank You, Lord.”
Miss Esther was watching some tiny birds build a nest in a nearby tree, when a much larger bird circled in for a landing on the lawn. He landed with a quick skip and shook his head as if to get his bearings.
“Good morning, Kingsley!” Miss Esther waved a friendly hand. “How are you today?”
“Miss Esther!” The large bird hopped over. “What a delight to see you! Enjoying this sunshine?”
“Yes. It’s beautiful!” Miss Esther gave her friend a warm smile. “I’m sure it must be lovely up in the air too.”
“Oh it is! It is indeed.” Kingsley reached into the large mailbag he carried. “I do believe I have a few special deliveries for the MaeWell sisters.”
“How splendid! I hope it’s Priscilla’s music.” Miss Esther brushed at a small fly that was buzzing around her face. “She ordered a couple new volumes recently.”
“Ah! Well, I hope so too!” Kingsley’s smile was broad. “Let’s see here…ah ha! A large package for Miss Priscilla MaeWell from the Marvelous Music Company.”
Miss Esther clapped her hands in delight and then reached to take the package. “Priscilla will be thrilled!”
“There’s a small box for Miss Susanna too.” Kingsley pulled another package from his bag. “And a few letters for you, Miss Esther.”
“Thank-you so much.” Miss Esther took the mail and set it beside her.
“One in there is High Priority, Miss Esther. It’s from the castle. You might want to read it right away.” Kingsley tipped his head. “I’m headed there next and I can take an answer back for you.”
“From the castle?” Miss Esther pressed a hand to her heart in surprise. “We’ve never had a letter from the castle.”
“It’s this one.” Kingsley reached in the pile of mail with his long beak and drew out one envelope.
For the first time Miss Esther noticed the gold seal on the envelope.
“Go ahead and open it!” Kingsley nodded to emphasize his point. “Need to catch my wind anyway!”
Kingsley hopped over to the water fountain and Miss Esther broke the seal on her letter. Her heart pounded unusually fast. She’d seen the Grand royal family from a distance but had yet to meet them.
“Oh Lord, for Your wisdom!” Miss Esther was sure her face was flushed. She wasn’t sure if it was from excitement or nervousness.
Perhaps it was both.
Miss Esther carefully unfolded the letter and began to read.
Dear Miss Esther,
I hope this finds you well and enjoying a wonderful week!
I’ve heard much of you from our mutual friends and look forward to the day when we can actually meet in person. Perhaps you could join me for tea tomorrow at 3:oopm?
Miss Esther drew in her breath.
In the meantime, I have a favor to ask. I have two small guests who need a place to stay. I would have them here, but we are full just now. Would you be willing to host them for us tonight?
Dorothy and Beverly are dear friends of mine and from what I’ve heard of you, I’m quite sure the three of you will get along well. However, if this doesn’t work well for you please don’t hesitate to let me know. I can make other arrangements. Oh yes, and they will be busy here at the castle this afternoon. I think you could expect them at about 6:00pm.
Princess Ella Grand
Miss Esther fanned herself with her free hand. “What a surprise! Normally I only go out to tea about once a month and now twice in one week?” Her mind began to clear. “But most certainly we can host the princess’s friends. It wouldn’t take much to freshen up the guest room.”
Miss Esther was deep in prayerful thought when she heard a slight cough. She looked up to see Kingsley waiting politely.
“May I take a return message back for you, Miss Esther?” Kingsley stood on one foot for a moment.
“Yes, thank-you.” Miss Esther nodded slowly. “Tell her I’d be happy to host the girls and that it would be an honor to join her for tea tomorrow.”
“Very well, Miss Esther. A good day to you then!” Kingsley bowed politely.
“Thank-you, Kingsley. Have a wonderful rest of your day!”
Kingsley took a few running steps out onto the lawn, spreading his wings as he did so. Soon he was soaring through the air and making his way towards the Golden Castle.
Miss Esther watched him go for a moment and then rose. She looked around for Cashew.
Miss Esther looked down to see Cashew standing just beside her, a small twig in his mouth. He wagged his tail hopefully.
Miss Esther hesitated for a split second. She had so much to do! But a few moments playing catch with Cashew might do them both good. She reached down and took the stick.
Cashew’s eyes lit up and he started to move.
Miss Esther threw the stick as far across the lawn as she could and Cashew took off after it. For the next five minutes Cashew ran and Miss Esther threw. At last Miss Esther called a halt.
“That was fun, Cashew!” She scratched behind her dog’s ears. “We’ll have to do it again sometime!”
Cashew’s tail wagged his agreement.
“While you were exploring I received a letter from the Castle. Princess Ella has friends who need a place to stay. I sent word that I’d be happy to host them!” Miss Esther smiled. “So we’re going to have extra guests tonight. Would you like to help me get ready for them?”
“Thank-you! I’ll be so glad to have your help.” Miss Esther re-fastened Cashew’s leash. “Let’s see how much we can get done before lunch!”
Miss Esther took up the pile of mail and began climbing the stairs towards the university. Cashew trotted along beside her. Soon they were back in their own house. Miss Esther undid Cashew’s leash and the dog ran to put it away.
Miss Esther looked through her pile of mail. “I wonder if any of these other letters need to be attended to…”.
Fortunately none of them did and Miss Esther tucked them into her office bag to be attended to later. Then she went upstairs to put her sister’s packages in their rooms. Priscilla and Susanna would be so excited to receive them!
Once the packages were safely delivered, Miss Esther went into their small guest room. With Cashew’s help she changed the sheets on the bed and fluffed up the pillows. Fortunately the room didn’t need to be dusted.
“Now for a welcome sign!” Miss Esther hurried back downstairs, Cashew at her heels.
Miss Esther pulled out her art supplies and set about making a small sign to set on the guest room bed.
Welcome Dorothy and Beverly!
We’re glad you’re here.
Miss Esther used her prettiest handwriting. Then she paused for a moment. “What verse shall I write on it?”
Miss Esther reached for the Bible the sisters always kept in the library. She flipped to the Psalms and looked at several different verses. Finally she settled on one of them and wrote it carefully beneath the greeting she’d already written.
“The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee”
“There!” Miss Esther reached for her small collection of stickers. “Now, Cashew, should I do the blue flowers or the pink hearts?”
Cashew gave the stickers a critical look and then put both his front paws on Miss Esther’s knee.
“You think I should do both?” Miss Esther laughed.
“Well, that’s not a bad idea. I’ll try it! Thank-you, Cashew.”
Miss Esther decorated the small card with stickers and then handed it to Cashew. “Would you run this upstairs and put it on the guest bed?”
Cashew hurried off, his paws making little tapping noises as he went. Miss Esther put away her art supplies and went to the kitchen to see about lunch.
There was still so much to do in the next several hours!
“Okay, let’s see…” Miss Esther dropped down into her armchair and looked at her list. “We’ve had lunch, the guest room is ready, soup is simmering on the stove, the library is arranged for Bible study tonight, the apples are washed for our snack afterwards, the Bible study books are stacked on the table and…my discussion notes are ready too.”
Miss Esther set the list on the table and leaned back with a slight laugh. “Thank-You, Lord, I wasn’t sure how we were going to get that all done!” She closed her eyes. “And there is still a little time left before our guests arrive!”
Miss Esther gave herself permission to just sit and pray for a few moments. “Lord, would You watch over our Bible study tonight? Please prepare all of our hearts for what You want to teach us through Your Word. Help my sisters and I to show Your kindness to every girl who comes. Fill our home with Your Presence and joy.”
Miss Esther drew a deep breath. “Grant me the right words to lead the discussion and to help the girls understand how they can study Your Word for themselves. Guard my words, I pray. I mess up so easily! But most of all, may You be glorified in this whole evening. Thank You, Lord. I love You. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”
Miss Esther opened her eyes and reached for one of the Bibles lying nearby. She flipped to the book of Proverbs and found the chapter that matched the day of the month it was. Miss Esther had a habit of reading in the book of Proverbs in the afternoon, whenever she could. It helped her to refocus her mind on the Lord.
Finally Miss Esther set the Bible aside and smiled. “I’m so glad You gave us Your Word, Lord! It grows dearer by the day!” She glanced at the clock. “I’d better freshen up! Our guests will be here soon.”
Miss Esther laid the Bible back on the table and hurried downstairs. She washed her face and sponged a few wrinkles from her skirt. The quiet atmosphere of her room gave Esther a calmer feeling. She took a few slow breaths and then let them out again.
“Okay, Esther, you’re ready.” Miss Esther often talked to herself. “Now forget about yourself and focus on the Lord and others. This is about His glory, not yours.”
Miss Esther made her way upstairs and went to stir the soup. She tasted it. “It’s just the perfect degree of hot. And my sisters and our first guests should be here in about five minutes!”
Miss Esther put the lid back on her soup and took the few quick steps to the icebox. She pulled out a small plate of cheese squares that she’d prepared earlier and set it on the table. As she sliced the fresh loaf of bread she’d ordered from the Bethany Bread House she tried to think of good questions to ask during dinner.
Miss Esther had just finished arranging the soft slices in a bread basket when there was a knock at the door.
Miss Esther set the basket on the table and hurried to answer it.
“Good evening!” Miss Esther smiled warmly as she opened the door but to her surprise she saw no one.
“Good evening! You must be Miss Esther.” The voice came from somewhere below her gaze.
Miss Esther glanced down. Two small girls stood looking up at her, a rather large suitcase next to them.
“Yes, I am Miss Esther!” Miss Esther gave them a warm smile and stepped back to welcome them in. “You must be Dorothy and Beverly!”
“Yes, we are.” The one with long blonde hair led the way inside. “Thank-you so much for having us.”
“Thank-you for coming! My sisters and I love hosting friends.” Miss Esther closed the door and extended a hand. “So which one of you is Dorothy and which is Beverly?”
“I’m Beverly.” The girl with the long blonde hair took Miss Esther’s hand and gave it a hearty shake.
“And I’m her sister Dorothy.”
Miss Esther turned slightly to see the other girl. Dorothy was the same height as her sister, but her hair was much shorter. She set the suitcase down just inside the door and then shook Miss Esther’s hand.
“It’s a delight to meet you both!” Miss Esther liked the two sisters right away. “Supper will be in just a few minutes. Let me show you to your room and you can get settled in if you like!”
Miss Esther picked up the suitcase and led the way upstairs, her guests following.
“Oh, this is beautiful!” Beverly’s eyes shone as she eyed the guest room. “Look Dorothy, see all the pretty patterns in the quilt?”
“Beverly loves pink.” Dorothy gave Miss Esther a sisterly smile. “I can tell she feels right at home.”
Miss Esther left her guests to get settled and went down to stir the soup one last time. Susanna and Priscilla came home from work and Miss Esther told them their guests had arrived. Her sisters nodded with eager smiles.
Soon small footsteps were heard on the stairs and Miss Esther looked up to see their guests coming through the library.
“Books! Oh Dorothy, look!” Beverly stopped partway across the room. “They have books that are our size!”
Dorothy looked where her sister was pointing and her eyes widened with joy. Instantly Miss Esther knew that while Beverly loved pink, Dorothy loved books.
“You’re welcome to borrow any of them while you’re here.” Miss Esther gave Dorothy an understanding smile.
Miss Esther introduced her sisters and soon they were all gathered around the table. Susanna thanked the Lord for the food and then Miss Esther began dishing up bowls of soup.
Conversation flowed quickly around the table. Though Dorothy and Beverly were about a third of the size of the MaeWell sisters they turned out to be older. Beverly was a dressmaker and nanny from Oak Haven. Dorothy was a librarian in the same village.
Miss Esther was dishing up second servings of soup when she brought up the subject of the evening’s Bible study. “My sisters and I host a Bible study here almost every Wednesday night. We’d love to have you join us or you’d be welcome to just rest upstairs too.”
“A Bible study?” Beverly and Dorothy looked their delight at the same time.
“Yes!” Miss Esther handed Susanna her re-filled soup bowl. “We’re starting a new study tonight and have extra books in case others want to join us!”
“We’ll be studying the first chapter of John one verse at a time.” Priscilla buttered a second piece of bread. “It’s based on the AEIOU Meditation Method.”
“Sounds wonderful.” Dorothy’s eyes had an extra sparkle.
“Dorothy reads Greek and Hebrew as well as some people do English!” Beverly smiled at her sister. “Did you bring your Greek testament with you, Dorothy?”
Dorothy nodded but made no comment.
Inwardly she sent up a prayer for courage. “Lord, would You grant me the grace to be courageous? It’s going to feel so strange leading this study with Dorothy in the group. She clearly knows so much more than I do about Your Word! Help me to focus on You and not how extra inadequate I feel!”
Miss Esther glanced at the clock. “Oh! We have ten minutes before the others arrive! We’ve had such a lovely time talking that I forgot to watch the time.”
“No trouble at all!” Beverly sprang from her chair. “Can I help with the dishes? I think…” She looked up at the high counters with a smile. “That’s one thing I could do?”
The group chuckled at her quiet humor.
“You’re a dear!” Susanna took her place at the sink. “Could you dry? I’m sure we can have them done in seven minutes!”
Beverly pushed a chair up to the counter beside the sink and took the towel Pricilla handed her.
The next ten minutes were a whirl as the friends cleaned the kitchen and took turns making quick dashes to the washroom to brush their teeth. Priscilla and Dorothy pushed the kitchen table to one side and pulled out some more chairs. Miss Esther settled Cashew and Carrots upstairs in Susanna’s room for some rest time. At last they were ready.
“Thank-you everyone for your help!” Miss Esther brushed a hand over her forehead with a happy smile. “We made it!”
There was a knock at the door and Susanna moved to answer it. Soon the room was full of swirling skirts and tails. The sound of Priscilla tuning her cello was swallowed in the cacophony of voices of various pitches.
There was Sarai from the Tea Shop next door and Mrs. Manny Memories from the Southern Mission. Martha and Mary from the Bethany BreadHouse were there too, not seeming to feel out of place at all. At last Rosie Bear came in with Lydia Bunny.
The group was so full of hearty chatter that Miss Esther had to clap her hands to get everyone’s attention. But they quieted instantly and looked at her expectantly.
“Welcome everyone!” Miss Esther’s smile echoed her words. “We’re so glad you’re here! How about we start by singing a few songs?” She looked to where Priscilla sat with her cello. “Do you have a number for us, Priscilla?”
“Let’s do hymn number 35.” Priscilla smiled even as her eyes sighted the music carefully. “Does everyone know ‘The Bible Stands’?”
Heads nodded all around and Priscilla began the introduction. Miss Esther watched the music and then lifted her hand to signal the group as to when to begin.
“The Bible stands like a rock undaunted Mid the raging storms of time;…”
The friends were used to singing together. After the first verse, they began to sing in parts: soprano, alto, high tenor and high soprano.
“That was lovely!” Miss Esther looked up from her hymnbook with a smile. “Which one shall we try next?”
One hymn and then another was suggested. All too soon Miss Esther had to call them to a halt.
“Friends, that was beautiful. Just the uplift my soul needed after a full first part of the week!” Miss Esther began collecting the hymnbooks. “Mrs. Memories, would you mind praying for us? Then we’ll split into small groups to share quiet time thoughts.”
“I’d be glad to.” Mrs. Memories bowed her head. “Lord, we thank You for being so very good to us. Open our hearts to the truth of Your Word tonight, we ask. Help us to build up and encourage each other. Most of all, help us to think of Jesus, our wonderful Savior. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”
“Amen.” Miss Esther gave Mrs. Memories a warm smile. “Thank-you.”
Manny Memories had walked with the Lord for many years. She had taught Miss Esther many things that had helped Miss Esther in her walk with the Lord. A year before Manny had encouraged Miss Esther to start the Bible study and had agree to come along once in awhile to provide a helping hand as the opportunity arose. And it had!
Miss Esther organized everyone into small groups to share quiet time thoughts and then did the same for Scripture Memory. Finally they were all back in their places to start their Bible study time. Susanna handed around the new books and exclamations of excitement were heard all around.
“We’ve done question-and-answer Bible studies before, but this study is different.” Miss Esther motioned with her hand. “We’re going to learn how we can study a single verse of Scripture. This particular method is called the AEIOU Meditation Method. It will help us know how to think carefully about God’s Word.” She paused to let her words sink in. “And once you learn how it works, you can use it on any verse in the Bible.”
Miss Esther adjusted her seat and reached for her Bible. “Let’s look up John 1:1 in our Bibles. Lydia Bunny would you read it for us?”
“Sure!” Lydia Bunny found the verse and took a deep breath. “‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’”
“Thank-you, Lydia.” Miss Esther reached for her pencil. “The ‘A’ step in this method is to Ask Questions. What questions can we ask and answer from this verse?”
There was silence for a moment.
“We could ask ‘What was in the beginning?’” Martha Mouse’s whiskers twitched. “Then the answer would be ‘The Word was in the beginning.’”
“That’s excellent, Martha! Let’s all make a note of that on our study page on the lines beside the letter ‘A’. What other questions can we ask and answer from this verse?”
Once the group had asked and answered several good questions from the verse, Miss Esther led them on to step ‘E’. Together they emphasized different words, taking notes in their books about what stood out to them as they did so. In fact, they had so much fun sharing observations that they went down a bit of a bunny trail. But it was a profitable one as Dorothy shared some things from the Greek translation that were very insightful.
They moved on to ‘I’ and took a few quiet minutes to paraphrase the verse in their own words. Difficult as the habit was, it helped them process through the verse in a new way. Then for ‘O’ they tackled other cross references, finding other verses that related to the one they were studying. At last they reached ‘U’.
“Well done!” Miss Esther leaned back slightly. “We’re on to the last step! This one is ‘U’ and it stands for ‘You’. Is there something in this verse we can praise or thank God for? Is there an action we can take based on what we’ve learned?”
Hands went up all over the room.
Miss Esther chuckled and everyone joined her. “Mary Mouse, let’s start with you! How is understanding this verse going to make a difference in your life?”
Mary Mouse smiled shyly. “Well, I just thought I’d like to thank the Lord for being God.”
Miss Esther nodded.
“And I want to praise Him for being in the beginning.” Beverly spoke up next. “Makes such a different to know He existed before we did.”
“I’ve realized the importance of the Word afresh.” Lydia Bunny’s cheeks were pink. “I struggle with being consistent with my quiet times, but having realized that the Lord is the Word and that the Bible is His written Word, I want to make it a higher priority in my life. I’m going to try, with His help, to have a quiet time every day this week.”
“Oh Lydia, that’s wonderful!” Priscilla reached over to give the Bunny’s shoulder a squeeze. “I’ll pray you succeed.”
Lydia Bunny smiled her thanks.
“My application isn’t quite as deep.” Priscilla chuckled. “But then again maybe it is. I thought I’d like to put the verse to music so I can sing it whenever I like!”
The others shared their applications and several notes were made about things to pray for each other.
Finally it was Miss Esther’s turn. “Mary Mouse and I were thinking alike tonight.” Miss Esther gave the small mouse a smile. “I want to thank the Lord that He is God – and I am not. There is great relief in that truth.”
Heads nodded all around.
“Let’s take a few minutes to go around the circle and pray for the Lord’s help in doing our applications. Dorothy, would you start and Priscilla, would you close?”
Dorothy and Priscilla smiled their ascent and heads bowed. Everyone had a chance to pray and then Priscilla finished for them all.
“Lord, thank You for the richness of Your Word and that we can study it.” Priscilla’s voice was musical in the quiet room. “We thank You for our snack and ask for a safe trip home for everyone tonight. Thank-You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
“Amen.” Miss Esther glanced down at her Bible study book. “How about we each do the study on John 1:2, using this method, on our own before we come to Bible study next week? Then we’ll compare notes!”
“Sounds great!” Sarai flipped ahead in her Bible study book. “I can hardly wait to get started!”
“Me either!” Rosie Bear bounced a little in her seat.
“How about we do some stretches?” Mrs. Memories stood slowly. “I’m getting a little stiff!”
With a laugh they all joined her. Lydia Bunny had brought some popcorn with her and several of the friends gathered in the kitchen to pop it.
Miss Esther cut the apple slices and took in the happy group around her with grateful eyes. Their Bible study group had been so shy to begin with. Now they were all good friends with plenty to talk about!
Once the apples were done, Miss Esther slipped upstairs and brought her pets down to join in the fellowship. Cashew discovered he actually liked popcorn and Carrots was thrilled to see friends again.
All too soon it was time to finish the evening. With calls of good-night their friends waved good-bye and Miss Esther turned back to clean the kitchen. With the help of her sisters and their guests it was done even faster than usual.
“Thank-you for your help.” Miss Esther leaned back against the kitchen table with a happy sigh. “I think we can head to bed now.” She reached out an arm to hug her sister Priscilla. “Get some wonderful sleep.”
“Thanks. You too!” Priscilla gave her older sister a hug back.
Miss Esther watched her sisters and their guests head towards the stairs, stopping by the bookcase so Dorothy could pick up a new book to read in case she woke up extra early. Soon the happy group had disappeared, Susanna carrying Carrots up with her.
Miss Esther made sure the door was locked and checked the icebox to see if they had everything they needed for French toast in the morning.
“Yes. We have enough eggs. Thank-You, Lord!” Miss Esther smiled slightly. “And I have another loaf of bread. We should be good to go.”
Sure that all was right with the kitchen till the following day, Miss Esther made her way downstairs. Soon she was in her room. She changed into her nightgown and quickly washed her face. She took the decorative pillows from her bed and turned down the covers.
Miss Esther dropped to her knees beside her bed. “Lord, thank You for such a wonderful day. Thank You that the Bible study went so well. Guide us all as we continue to study Your Word. Grant us a good-night’s sleep, I ask. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Miss Esther rose and climbed into her cozy bed. “Ahhh! This feels wonderful!” Miss Esther smiled sleepily. “Tomorrow is a new day, but I’m so glad I get to sleep first!”
And before she could think of anything else, Miss Esther fell sound asleep.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Story Blog Writer
Melanie has been fascinated by tiny things for years and enjoys few things so much as good story. She firmly believes that what we play – with our hands and our minds – influences who we become. Her prayer is that the stories shared here on the story blog encourage girls the world over to seek Christ first in every area of their lives.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture verses are taken from the KJV.
Scripture verses identified as NKJV are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.