A tear trickled down Abby's rosy
cheek. It stung her chapped face. "I
don't understand, Mommy. Look at those people.
Look at that old lady. She's so dirty. Why
do they live in such a horrible place?"
"Well, they don't live there because they
want to dear. They live there because they don't
have anywhere else to go. They're homeless
people. Sometimes they can find warmth and
food in a special place called a shelter, but
they can't stay there forever. They eventually
have to leave again."
"But, they don't even have a bathroom or
"Yes, I know. Now, aren't you thankful
that you have a warm place to sleep and even a
"Yes, Mommy, I am." Abby's vision was
still blurred by her tears as she and her mother
walked on toward church."
"Abby was very quiet
at dinner tonight. Isn't she feeling well?"
As he spoke Joseph Turner stood and walked over
to his chair by the old fireplace. He immediately
buried his attention in the evening paper.
"I think she's still
upset about seeing some homeless people today.
She seemed confused and hurt for them. It
kind of bothered me, too. I feel sorry for them."
Catherine began clearing
the table anticipating some sort of response from
her husband, but only heard the shuffle of his
newspaper. Disappointment stung her inside
and she knew it would be a waste of time to
repeat anything. After she finished the
dishes, she went upstairs to see if Abby was
feeling any better.
Abby always helped her
through the sadness about Joseph. His
coldness had only worsened since the death of
their son last year. And she and Abby had
felt it more and more since the holidays had
begun again. How could they survive a
Christmas without Shane?
Catherine knocked lightly on the door.
"May I come in?"
"Sure, come on in."
Abby was sitting at her
little desk. It wouldn't be long before she
would need a real desk. She was growing so fast.
Catherine could hardly believe she was already in
the first grade.
Abby held up a white piece
of paper with crayon marks on it. The marks were
actually pictures of stick men lying on the
ground by what seemed to be a big wall.
"What are those, Abby?"
"They're those bums we saw today. But
they're sleeping now or maybe they're even dead,
"Abby, why would you think they were
dead? Those people weren't dead."
Catherine sat down beside Abby at her little red
"Well, they must be.
If you stay outside, you die right? Daddy
always said that if it weren't for him, I'd be on
the street probably dead somewhere."
The cruelty of her husband's arrogance rang in
Catherine's ears as she heard Abby utter those
"As far as the
'bums', they may not get to live in a warm home
like us, but Jesus still loves them, just as much
as he loves us. And he wants them to come
to heaven someday, too, Abby, you're father
doesn't mean that if you live on the street
you'll die. Listen, sometimes your father says
things he doesn't really mean. He
just doesn't think about things before he
says them. Please try to be patient with
him. Christmas is going to be hard for him."
"I know. It's Shane
isn't it? Every time Daddy is grouchy and says
mean things, it's because he's sad about Shane.
I don't understand why he gets mad at us, though.
We didn't make him die."
"I know, sweetie.
Your Dad is still very hurt over Shane dying. And
now that it's almost Christmas again, it hurts
more. Just try to be understanding. Do you
know what that means?"
"Yeah, sure. It
means I need to love him even when it feels like
he doesn't love me? Right?"
Just like Jesus loves us. He is
understanding even when we make mistakes and act
as though we don't love him."
"I know, Mommy. Mrs.
Parson taught us that in Sunday School. I wish he
wouldn't be sad anymore. It hurts my
feelings too much."
"Yes, you do
understand, don't you? I love you Abby.
We'll be okay, I promise."
Catherine kissed Abby
goodnight and walked toward the door with
heartache overwhelming her.
"Mommy, does Jesus
"I don't think your
father knows who Jesus is, dear. I think
that's why he is still hurting so much over Shane.
Jesus would help if your Daddy would let him.
But he won't talk about God or church. Good
night, Abby. I love you."
Abby stared at her picture
for a second and then knelt on her little knees
beside her bed.
"Dear Jesus in Heaven, please forgive me for
not being a good girl sometimes. I will do
better. Thank you for helping me. Jesus
please help those 'homelesses' people. And
please help my Mommy not be sad over Shane and
Daddy. And I hope you keep being
understanding for Daddy. I'm sorry he doesn't
know who you are. Can you please help
him find out who you are? I love you Jesus.
Thank you for Daddy and Mommy and me and our warm
In Jesus name, Amen."
Catherine cried softly in
her pillow, her heart aching for Shane, and for
her husband, but more for Abby who seemed to get
the brunt of everyone's pain - including her own.
"Wake up, Mommy! Wake
up Daddy! It's Christmas morning! Wake up you
Abby's mom forced her
tired body out of bed and crept slowly down the
cold steps. Why won't he put carpet on these
steps? Catherine grumbled to herself. As
she stepped off the bottom step, she looked on in
awe at Abby and three empty stockings and a very
bare Christmas tree. Abby's eyes were full
of tears and her little tummy shook with tender
"Mommy, where are my presents? I was a
good girl this year? Where are my
presents,Mommy?" Abby ran to her
mother and wrapped her trembling arms around her.
Catherine knew immediately
where Abby's presents were? They were still
in the attic. She had taken special care
this year - weeks of shopping and choosing that
extra special something just for Abby. And
now Joseph had ruined everything. He had ruined
the special surprises that should have been
waiting on Abby when she woke on Christmas
morning? How could he do this?
"Mommy, doesn't Santa
love me anymore?"
"Abby, you know that
all gifts come from Jesus not Santa. He's just
the one who brings them to you."
Abby looked at her mom
with weepy eyes. "Then does that mean
Jesus doesn't love me?"
"No, Abby! Now you
know that Jesus would never stop loving you.
Don't worry, Abby, I'm sure your presents will be
here very soon. Okay? Now run up to your
room and get dressed. I bet they'll be here
before you get finished. K? Go on.
Don't you worry."
Abby ran upstairs followed
by her very angry mother.
Abby's father nearly fell
out of bed, startled by the scream at the bedroom
"What, what's the
matter? Why are you yelling, Catherine?
What's wrong?" Joseph grabbed
his robe and went hastily to see what was
"Joseph, you forgot
Abby's presents! You put the presents under the
tree every year. Remember? I always go to bed and
you always bring everything down and play
"Santa". Abby just ran down
those stairs anticipating a room of Christmas
splendor. What do you think she found this
Joseph dropped his head.
He knew he had messed up bad this time. He
had forgotten Catherine and Abby's birthday
just two months ago. And now he had forgotten
Christmas. He knew they would never forgive
him. But somehow, he didn't feel the guilt
he should have. Anger was working into his
heart more quickly than ever these days.
"Catherine, do you
expect me to do everything? You could do
your part around here, too, you know? You
should've reminded me last night or done it
yourself! Why is everything my fault? I'm
just so sick of you blaming everything wrong in
this house on me! Nothing would be wrong in
this house if you had taken better care of
Shane!" Joseph knew instantly that he had
said the wrong thing. The chill of
Catherine's expression covered him like a winter
"That's it, Joseph!
I've lived for a year now with the pain of
Shane's death and even more with the guilt you've
forced on me. I know if Shane had been with
me he would still be here, but he isn't! And I
can't change that! And neither can
your cold and insensitive heart! You can't bring
Shane back by treating us this way; by shutting
us out. Well that is, until you're ready to
shower us with your cruelty. He's gone Joseph,
Catherine dressed quickly as she cried out loud
this time. She couldn't hide her pain any
longer. He would just have to go on. This
time he would have to hear her pain!
Abby was standing outside
her parents door when her mother came out. "I'm
sorry, Mommy. I'm sorry Shane is in heaven."
Catherine cradled Abby in
her arms, "Abby, don't ever be sorry that
Shane is in heaven. He is so happy there.
We miss him, but I'm sure that he is so happy to
be with Jesus." Catherine's tears flowed
into Abby's soft curls. "Abby, get your
coat. We're going to walk down to the church."
"So we can talk to
Jesus, Mom? Will Jesus bring me my
"Sure, honey, we can
talk to Jesus. And we'll talk about the presents
later. Okay?" Catherine turned and gave a
long hard look at her husband. "I think it's
time you made a decision. You've already lost a
son, do you want to lose you're whole
family? Or even more, you're soul?"
Catherine's words stung.
He knew she was right. He had spent the
last year blaming everyone, especially her
for Shane's death. And he'd been letting the
rest of his family die as well.
Their pace was much slower
than normal today. Mommy always walks by
these places very fast. Abby thought.We're going
so slow. She must be really mad at Daddy.
"It's okay I didn't
get any presents, Mommy? Jesus wouldn't do
that on purpose. He must have forgotten.
I can't be mad at him. I forgetto say my
prayers a lot and he doesn't get mad. Really,
Mommy, it's okay."
"Abby, your Daddy was
supposed to bring your presents, not Santa or
even Jesus. Yes, Jesus is the reason we have
presents and a Christmas, but it is your Daddy
who brings them. Okay? And he just forgot
this time. I'm sorry, I didn't want you to
find out about Santa this way. I'm sorry your
feelings are hurt. Your presents are in the
attic, sweetie. We'll get them when we get
back from service. Okay?" Catherine
stopped walking and knelt down and looked at
Abby's sweet little eyes. "Listen, I am
sorry I told you about Santa like that.
Are you very disappointed?"
Abby hugged her mother and
kissed her on the cheek. "Mommy, I know
Santa isn't real. Shane told me before he
.......... He made me promise not to tell. I
was afraid you and Daddy were mad at me and
didn't get me a present. Daddy is always mad at
me for Shane. Is that why he didn't get my stuff?
'Cause he's mad?"
"No, Abby, he's not
mad at you, neither am I. We'll get your
gifts when we get home. Is that all right?
And I'm glad you didn't break your promise to
Shane. He would be very proud of you."
They started walking again
and in minutes were walking by the 'homelesses'
people again. Abby tugged on her mom's coat to
stop. "What is it, Abby?"
Catherine looked down to
see Abby running toward a dirty-looking lady who
was rummaging through a bag in her lap. She was
startled at Abby's insistence and went running
after her. "Abby, come here! Please, Abby,
don't go over there!"
"Just a minute, Mommy."
Abby ran up to the lady and hugged her as tightly
as she could. Her mother stood still in shock.
What is she doing? She walked up slowly to her
daughter who still had not let go of the
"I just wanted to
tell you, Mam, that Jesus loves you even if you
don't have a house; and if Jesus loves you, so do
I!" The lady looked in disbelief at
this strange little girl and then at the woman
standing behind her. Catherine could not
believe her eyes. This little girl had hugged a
woman that hardly anyone else would even take
time to look at, let alone hug.
"Abby, it's time to
go. Okay?" As Abby let go, Catherine's
heart melted when she heard the whimpering
of the woman sitting on the concrete. Her
dirty face was stained by tears. "Thank
you," she uttered through a hoarse voice.
Abby and her mother walked
away - smiling and crying together.
"I'm so very proud of
you, Abby. Jesus is too, I'm sure."
"I wish we could help her, Mommy."
Catherine stopped, "We can! We can,
They turned around and ran back toward the "bag
She was gone!
"Where is the lady
that was sitting here?" They asked a man
leaning against the wall.
"What lady?" He rudely answered. "There's
no one here but me and George. This is our spot,
no one else's. Now get lost!"
Abby looked at her mother,
and Catherine looked at her daughter. And not
another word was said.
Joseph stood and stared
blankly out the front window. He couldn't
decide who he was more angry at, himself or
Catherine. Catherine was the only one who
could have helped Shane, and she wasn't even
there to do it. She was his mother for God's sake.
Joseph found himself screaming at her in his
thoughts. How could things turn out so
wrong for them? How could she turn out so wrong
for him? She was supposed to take care of
their children, and she had failed. Now
Shane was gone, gone forever. Of course, I'm mad.
He would still be here!
Joseph pushed the angry thoughts from his mind
and started back upstairs to return to bed.
As he turned the corner on the landing, he
thought he heard a knock on the door. He
wasn't sure, but that had to be what he heard, no
one else was home. He peeked through the side
window and saw an old lady dressed in the typical
Good God he thought.
Why can't these people go somewhere else?
When he opened the door, he heard something that
sounded like Shane calling. An eerie feeling ran
over him. "What do you want? I don't
have any money to give you."
"Well, sir, I don't want your money. I
was wondering if you might have a few table
scraps you were going to throw away, sir?"
"You've got to be
kidding, lady? Can't you go to the shelter down
the road? They feed you, don't they?"
"They don't have any
room today. Are you sure you can't spare
"No can do. Good day, lady."
Joseph stepped backward to close the door, and
again he heard a voice that sounded just like
Shane. He was getting nervous now and
wished he lady would just leave and let him
go back to sleep.
"Sir, if you please?"
"Yes, what is it?"
He opened the door again.
"Could I take just a
minute to get warm? Only a minute?"
"Listen, lady, no you
can't. Good luck and good day."
Joseph slammed the door
and headed toward his bedroom; annoyed at the
interruption. Can't take a hint, even when
you say no! What's wrong with these people?.
"Please help me!?!"
He heard the lady scream from outside. A
chill came over him when he heard the lady crying.
He ran down the stairs and looked through the
front window. The lady and her funny bag were
lying face down in the snow.
Joseph ran out into the snow in his bare feet
"Are you all
right? Are you hurt? Say something!
Are you okay?"
"Yes, I think so."
She groaned as Joseph helped her to her feet.
All this nonsense was
really getting on his nerves. "Can you make
it back home?" knowing quite well she didn't
"Yes, sir, I think I can. Thank you
for helping me. You are very kind to come
out in the cold and offer your assistance. Your
son IS very proud of you."
The words made him cringe.
"What did you say?"
"I said your son is
proud of you for helping me."
Joseph's heart ached with
pain and embarrassment.. Suddenly he
realized his arrogance, his lack of compassion -
not only for this lady, but for the world, and
more importantly, for his own family. No,
Shane would not be proud of his Dad.
He would be quite ashamed.
"Listen, do you think
you might have time to come in for a minute? I
could find something for you to eat. I know my
wife keeps leftovers in the refrigerator."
"I'm sure Catherine
is a wonderful cook." She spoke slowly with
what seemed like much effort.
Joseph was in amazement. He could feel his
stomach quivering. (Abby always said it was like
frogs jumping rope in your tummy.) What am
I so excited about?
Or am I afraid, or is it both? What is
wrong with me?
"Do we know
you? Do you know my wife? Maybe from
church or something?" Joseph filled her
plate with more leftover chicken and biscuits.
"No, I came here just
yesterday. My husband died and I had to
"Why did you come here? Why this
house? There are twenty, why this one?"
"Well, I met a young
man in town yesterday. I believe his name was
Shon. No, actually it was Shane. Well, he
told me if I came here that you and your wife
would not turn me away. He said that he
knew you would help me and feed me."
Joseph stared in disbelief.
How could this be possible? Had she really
talked to their son? No, it was impossible!
Things like this just didn't happen..... Or did
"And he said to tell
he was very proud of you."
Joseph's heart leapt with
"Thank you, oh thank
you! You don't know what you've given me.
What a wonderful Christmas gift you've brought to
me and this home!" Joseph showed the
woman to the front door and helped her with her
coat. As she left, he gave her a kiss on
her round, weathered cheek.
"No, sir, you've
helped me. Thank you, sir. And I know
that if your son were still alive, he would be
very proud. I just know it." And she shut
"Wait a minute!
How did you know............?"
Joseph jerked the door
open to find an empty stoop. He ran out the door
and couldn't find the bag lady anywhere. WHERE
DID SHE GO?!!!
He couldn't explain any of it. Maybe it was a
dream, maybe it wasn't. No, it wasn't a dream,
was it? He was so confused, but it felt great!
Joseph Turner was filled with so much excitement
that he could hardly contain himself. He knew he
had much to do to redeem himself. How could
Catherine or Abby ever forgive him for the way he
had treated them for so long? He had to do
something special. He had to say he was
Joseph's eyes began to
sparkle and the "frogs began to jump rope"
again in his tummy as his mind started working on
the needed apology. He would make this a
Christmas to remember.
As they walked through the
iron gate at the end of their yard, they both
knew that the other didn't want to go in.
Abby was afraid her Daddy would be mad at them
for going to church and Catherine dreaded the
consequences of the harsh, but truthful, words
she had spoken before they had left that morning.
Who knew what kind of mood he'd be in now?
The door creaked as they
opened it. As they walked into the foyer,
they looked at each other with two very large,
beautiful smiles. Could it be? Was that the
aroma of turkey and dressing and, yes, pumpkin
pie? What in the world? They both ran
to the kitchen and found Mr. Joseph Turner
wearing an apron and mittens, carrying a
deliciously basted turkey to the dining room.
The table was donned with holly and candles and
trimmings fit for a king. And in Catherine's
mind, it was
for the King.
"Merry Christmas, my
love, Merry Christmas, my little princess!"
He led them to the table where they enjoyed the
most wonderful Christmas dinner ever. Catherine's
praises poured toward Heaven the entire meal.
Her husband seemed to be back to normal. But she
also felt a little sadness, too. She knew
that he didn't know Jesus Christ as his Savior
and the reason for this joyous season. He just
wouldn't believe "Such Nonsense!", he
had said too many times. But she rejoiced and
praised God for his change of heart. It was truly
a blessing for them all.
"And now, for the big
Joseph took each of his ladies by their hands.
"Close your eyes. Come on, do it. Close them
and no peeking!" His hands were warm
and kind. Both Catherine and Abby were glad to
have him so near and so loving.
Abby jumped up and down,
laughing and screaming with joy. They both
found the stockings packed with a mixture of
candy canes, ribbons, and lovely trinkets. The
tree was lit with strings of glimmering lights
and silver tinsel. The gold paper on the
gifts sparkled with green, red and blue ribbons.
They were all nestled snugly beneath the tree
just waiting for Abby and Catherine.
What a surprise indeed!
The gifts unwrapped and
the eggnog poured, it seemed like everything was
as it should be. But somehow it wasn't and Abby
knew that as much as Catherine did. She rose and
hugged her mother and whispered softly in her
ear, "Mommy, does this mean that Daddy knows
who Jesus is now?"
Catherine's heart began to
ache again, for she knew that Abby's Dad didn't
know Jesus at all, even though he seemed to have
found himself again.
"No, Abby, I don't think so." She
"Have you ever asked
him?" Abby wanted to know.
"Yes, but he never wants to talk about it."
should ask him?"
Catherine looked at her
daughter and knew in her heart that Abby really
loved her father. She was so happy that Abby
loved him enough to want to share Jesus with him
"Why don't you do
that, Abby? Ask your Daddy if he knows who
Abby scooted her slipper-covered
feet across the hardwood floor as she moved close
to her father. "Daddy, I need to talk
"Yes, Abby, what is
it?" He picked her up and set her in his lap
and hugged her tightly.
"Daddy, do you know who Jesus is?"
"Well, yes, Abby,
don't you? I thought you learned that stuff
"I do. I mean,
Daddy, do you know who Jesus is?"
Abby's father held onto
his daughter so tightly she seemed to wince with
pain. He felt his heart would jump right
out of his chest. Suddenly, Catherine and
Abby saw something that they had never seen, not
even when Shane had died. Joseph Turner
began to weep. Abby hugged him, "Daddy,
I love you and so does Mommy, and so does Jesus.".
With tears and a humble cry in his throat, Joseph
looked at his beautiful daughter and his loving
wife and cried, "No, I don't know who Jesus
is. Will you please tell me? I
really want to know. I want to know Jesus."
Catherine practically jumped into his arms.
The three sat together holding one another,
crying, and praying. Praying with praise
for deliverance from the pain of death and for
deliverance of their souls, all three of them.
As they held each other,
Abby whispered, "What made you change your
Joseph grinned remembering
his unusual visitor that morning. "Well,
let's put it this way, she was a little birdy
with a dirty face and a funny bag."
Catherine looked at Abby
and Abby looked at her. Their eyes widened with
surprise! They knew without a doubt what had
happened - and a beautiful smile swept across
each of their faces.
asked. "What's so funny?"
Catherine and Abby just
kept smiling and hugged the most wonderful man in
It was truly a very, Merry
Christmas this year.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
©1997, 1998, 1999 -
Chanda L. Siler - All Rights Reserved
GOD'S LITTLE ACRE
Copyright (c) Rusti 2002, 2003
All Rights Reserved