The aroma of bacon from breakfast still lingered in the air as Stella sat at the table finishing the last of her morning coffee.  Her family had eaten, and all left to start their day.  At the moment the house was quiet, and she was enjoying the peacefulness of the solitude she found in her kitchen.

As she sipped her coffee, she felt herself take a deep breath trying to ward off the feeling of being overwhelmed.  It was the day before Thanksgiving, and she needed to start getting things ready for tomorrow’s dinner.  She carried her cup to the sink and walked to the front door.  The breakfast dishes were waiting to be washed, there were pumpkins on the counter waiting for her to make pies, laundry needed to be done, windows needed to be cleaned, and she still needed to get Jacob to take her to the Market. She had invited her brother and his family as well the Yoder’s next door to dinner which meant she was having a houseful.

It was unseasonably warm for November as she stood at the screen door looking out across the yard.  She closed her eyes and ask God to help her have a thankful heart and not to be anxious about getting everything done in time.  When she opened her eyes, she looked at the huge maple trees that stood close to the house. They had all but lost their leaves, and there were piles of red, yellow and orange leaves blowing about the yard. She sighed a deep breath as she mentally added another chore to her list of making sure those leaves were raked up before tomorrow.

Breathing in the fresh fall air, she tried to will herself into starting her chores.  She was so lost in her own to-do-list that morning she had completely forgotten to have Emma take breakfast over to her sister-in-law Anna Mae who was staying in the Doddy house. Jacob’s sister lived in Sugarcreek, Ohio and had taken them up on visiting for the holidays. She looked toward the Doddy house and saw her sister-in-law sitting on the small front porch rocking in one of Jacob’s handmade rockers. She quickly spread strawberry jam on a couple biscuits and wrapped them in a napkin and headed out the door.

Anna May was 15 years older than Jacob and her gray hair and deeply etched wrinkles on her face told of a woman who had worked hard caring for her family.  Her husband had died young leaving her to raise a family without the help of a husband.  She never remarried and now lived with her son and his family in Ohio.

As Stella walked toward her sister-in-law, she saw her smile and invited her to come and sit next to her in the empty chair beside her.

Pulling her shawl tightly around her shoulders, Anna May motioned toward the tree in front of the porch and said.

You're Never Too Old to Help

“I’ve been watching a pair of squirrels run up and down that maple tree.  I guess they’re busy preparing for winter.  It looks like they each have their own job and are all working together. Watching those squirrels was a lot like watching your family this morning.  One by one they left the warmth of your kitchen to start their day.  I saw Jacob open the Furniture Shop, Matthew headed to the barn, the twins walked out back to the alpacas, and I even saw Emma walking toward the road like she was on a mission. That’s one thing I miss about being young, there was always work to be done and my days were always full.  By the time evening came, I was tired but happy I had put in a full day.  Now it seems like I spend more time rocking and reminiscing than anything else.”

Stella looked over at Anna May and could see the tears forming in the corners of her eyes.  All morning she had been feeling overwhelmed with the list of chores she needed to complete that she never gave any thought to Anna May.

Stella smiled as she looked up to the sky and mouth a silent “Thank You,” God had already answered her prayers.  Quickly she remembered an old Amish Proverb her  Grandmother use to say…

“We may face situations beyond our reserves but never beyond God’s resources.”

Without saying a word about Anna May’s comment about not having enough to do she asked.

“Jacob saw that I had pie pumpkins on the counter and hinted that he would enjoy your mother’s famous Pumpkin Bread. I have a pretty big list of chores today and could use some help in the kitchen.”

Before she even had the words out of her mouth, Anna Mae was up out of the rocking chair and was headed off the porch.

“Well, what are we waiting for there’s work to be done, and Thanksgiving dinner isn’t going to make itself.”

Photo by: Jim Fisher