In The Pansy magazine Isabella used stories, illustrations, and poems to teach young people what it meant to follow Jesus. The following poem was published in an 1893 issue of the magazine, and although it was written for children, it has meaning for adults, too!
I lost a very little word
Only the other day;
A very naughty little word
I had not meant to say.
If only it were really lost,
I should not mind a bit;
I think I should deserve a prize
For really losing it.
For if no one could ever find
Again that little word,
So that no more from any lips
Could it be ever heard,
I'm sure we all of us would say
That it was something fine
With such completeness to have lost
That naughty word of mine.
But then it wasn't really lost
When from my lips it flew;
My little brother picked it up,
And now he says it, too.
Mamma said that the worst would be
I could not get it back;
But the worst of it now seems to me,
I'm always on its track.
If it were only really lost!
Oh, then I should be glad!
I let it fall so carelessly
The day that I got mad.
Lose other things, you never seem
To come upon their track;
But lose a naughty little word,
It's always coming back.
While no author name was given when the poem was published, Isabella’s husband Ross and son Raymond were both talented poets, as was Isabella.
When she wrote stories about children losing their tempers, she wrote from experience. Isabella shared stories from her own life about how often her anger got her into trouble when she was young.
You can read about some of those instances in these previous posts:
Isabella’s brother-in-law Reverend Charles M. Livingston wrote several articles for The Pansy magazine in which he explained Bible verses that might seem confusing at first. Here’s one he wrote in 1889:
Matthew 5: 33-37:
33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said of them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
With these words in mind, how, then, do good men swear on the witness stand in the court-room?
That is intended to be a solemn, religious thing, for the sake of truth and law and justice. It sets the fear of God before the witness to deter him from falsehood, and the love of God to lead him to tell the truth.
The spirit of prayer is in it.
Our Hard Text refers to profane, wicked, idle swearing. It is taking the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain. It is very common in ordinary conversation among many people. They curse and swear “by” this and “by” that, just for fun, or to make folks believe them, usually when they are telling a lie. At last it becomes a vile, dreadful habit, and in almost every sentence they swear. Many little children do this. It is an awful sin. It leads to destruction.
Shun the first step in that direction. Have a character for truth. Consecrate your tongue to Christ as He died on the cross to redeem your entire body and soul from all sin.
Have you ever wondered if swearing a solemn oath was the same as swearing in ordinary conversation?
What do you think of Rev. Livingston’s explanation?
Click on the links below to read more of Reverend Livingston’s “Hard Text” articles:
For many years Isabella edited a Christian magazine for which she wrote a very popular advice column. In 1896 she responded to a letter from an unmarried woman who had just received a proposal of marriage.
Despite his profession of love to her, the woman confessed she did not feel the same way about him. Yet she was tempted to accept his offer because she thought he’d make a fine husband; but her biggest concern was that because she was getting older, she was afraid his proposal may be her last chance for marriage.
In closing, she asked Isabella: How could she tell if the Lord meant for her to marry such a man?
Here is Isabella’s advice:
My Dear Friend, I can understand the state of bewilderment into which you are thrown, but at my age the light is plainer. As I read your letter, I find myself wishing that all questions were as easily answered as yours.
In the first place, let me beg you never to allow any chain of circumstances or specious reasoning to persuade you that it is right to marry one that you are not sure beyond the shadow of a doubt is the man above all others that you believe your heart would have chosen under any conceivable circumstances. Any other marriage than this I believe to be a mockery in the sight of God. I can conceive of one loving another in this way, and yet not marrying from motives of duty; but I cannot conceive of any duty that would make it right for one not so loving to marry. Do you not see how simple a matter such conviction of right and wrong as this makes your query?
Be sure, dear friend, that what “the Lord means” for you is that you should do right, even if in doing so you are compelled to grieve someone that has given you the best his heart has to offer. It would be but a sorry return to give back to such a man mere dregs of feeling.
I know it is the fashion in certain circles to talk a great deal about “Platonic affection.” I have often been tempted to think that many people use the term without having a clear idea of what it means; but the fact remains that with honest, earnest, well-trained young men and women exclusive and long-continued companionship means, other things being equal, companionship for life; and when two persons arrange to set aside this rule of nature, it generally means sorrow for one of them.
Let me still further say that it seems to me you are perhaps making the very common mistake of thinking of marriage almost as a necessity to a woman’s life. Does it not occur to you that possibly God may not mean you to marry at all?
In saying this I do not want to be understood to speak lightly of marriage; on the contrary, I believe a true marriage to be the crown of a woman’s life. But there are many honorable exceptions; there is blessed work in the world being done by women with warm affections and motherly hearts, who have no home ties, and so are able to do that which—but for them—would be left undone. Who can estimate how many homeless and motherless ones rise up to call such women blessed? Possibly your work lies in this direction. Whether it does or not, let me repeat the admonition with which I began:
Never mistake friendship for love; never stand before the marriage altar with one of whom you could not say, “My heart chose him alone from all the world.”
My dear girl, I want to emphasize this as much as possible because I believe in it so thoroughly. The world is full of wrecked homes and ruined hearts that need not have been so if friendship had not been so often mistaken for love, and marriage relations entered into so carelessly.
I wonder whether I have fully answered your thought. I have no doubt that you consider your circumstances peculiar—we all do—but the letters that I have received lead me to believe that a large number of your sisters are thinking along much the same lines.
What do you think of Isabella’s advice?
Do you agree with her that marriage is not always “a necessity to a woman’s life”?
You can read more of Isabella’s advice columns by clicking on the links below:
Isabella had a wonderful way of using her own personal experiences to show people how relevant the Bible could be in their everyday lives. In 1895 she wrote this uplifting piece for a Christian magazine:
Have you ever noticed how many beautiful names Jesus has?
One of the pleasantest Sunday afternoons I remember was spent with my dear father, looking up some of them, and trying to find what they meant.
We began with that one in Zechariah 3:8, where it says:
“Behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.”
I suppose I was not old enough at the time to understand much of its meaning, but I liked the sound of the verse; and I like now to think of Jesus as a part of God, a branch from the divine one, broken off from the great tree and sent to earth for us.
Then we looked at Isaiah 9:6, and found that he was not only a branch from God, but that one of his names was “Everlasting Father.”
And Isaiah 7:14 called him “Emmanuel,” which means, God with us.
And Paul, in Romans 11:26 called him the Deliverer; and Peter called him the Corner-Stone, and John, the Good Shepherd, and the Lamb of God, and the Light, and the King, and the Word, and the Why. John has so many names for him!
Take your Bible some day, and try and find out all the names of Jesus; if you have not thought about it before, you will be astonished at the number of them. I do not think you can imagine a great or helpful name which has not been given to him.
So many times he is called the Savior! Then he is the Mighty One, the Maker of all things; the Prince of Life, the Prince of Peace, the Morning Star, the Redeemer, the King of Kings.
I wonder if you will have a preference among these names? If some of them will seem to make him come nearer to you than others?
One day I was very much afraid of something which I feared was coming to me; I did not see how I could escape it, and I was glad to remember that Jesus was the Deliverer.
Then, when my father died, and my heart felt as heavy as lead, and it seemed to me as though I could never be happy again, I found this name for Jesus in Revelation 1:5:
“The first-begotten of the dead.”
Then I remembered that Jesus died, and was the first one to rise from the dead by his own power, and had promised to raise all others, and that my father would surely live again.
Oh, this is a beautiful thing to study about! Who will try it? See how many names you can find.
What do you think of Isabella’s idea for Bible study?
Do you have a favorite among the different names for Jesus? one that—as Isabella said—makes him feel nearer to you than others?
How often have you thought—or heard someone say—“Our little girls are growing up too fast!”
We tend to think of it as a modern-day problem, but in 1897 mothers were coping with the very same concern. Isabella received so many letters on the topic, she dedicated one of her advice columns to “anxious mothers of daughters.”
Here’s what Isabella wrote:
I have a package of letters from anxious mothers. I hold them tenderly, for there are heart-throbs in every line. I study and pray over them and wish—Oh, so earnestly!—that I knew how to help. Instead, I have resolved to tell our girls what some mothers fear: That their daughters—their young, sweet daughters, whom they would guard with jealous care from every form of the world’s contamination—are having the bloom of their beautiful girlhood brushed away by too early friendships with young men, or, as they frankly put it, with “the boys.”
One mother writes that her fourteen-year-old daughter’s mind is in danger of being taken up with the thought of “beaux.” She lives in the country, and associates almost of necessity with those who talk much about “beaux” and about “keeping company” with this or that boy. Not only this, but she has for associates those who believe in “kissing games” and all such practices.
What can you do?
Ah, dear, I don’t know. Except this—the same thing that I have said before, only I want to say it more emphatically, if I can:
Will you not use every inch of influence you possess to help anxious mothers, and to protect young and oftentimes motherless girls from the sort of harm that comes from playing with ideas that should be held sacred?
Sometimes uncultured guests do harm in this way:
A merry-faced couple—girl and boy aged perhaps ten and twelve—were hurrying down the street side by side, swinging their book-bags and chatting and laughing.
“Hasn’t Alice come yet?” asked the mother in a home.
“Here she comes,” said a guest who was in the doorway. “Here she comes with her little beau. Dear me, Alice, why didn’t you kiss each other? When I was of your age, and had little beaux come home with me, I always kissed them good-by.”
The mother came forward swiftly, a spot of red glowing on each cheek. “Alice does not know even the meaning of the word beau,” she said, “and she keeps her kisses for her father and brothers.”
Oh, the infinite harm that coarse and careless tongues can do to these young buds before their time of blossoming! Remember how much influence older sisters have in these directions. Nor is their influence confined to the young people of their own homes, if they are wise-hearted Christian workers.
What do you think of Isabella’s advice?
Have you ever seen someone tease a child about boyfriends, like the “coarse and careless guest” Isabella described?
You can read more of Isabella’s advice columns. Just type “advice” in the search box on the right.
Isabella’s brother-in-law the Reverend Charles M. Livingston wrote several articles for The Pansy magazine in which he explained some of the Bible’s most challenging verses in terms young people could understand. Here’s one he wrote in 1888:
A Hard Text
Matthew 10:34: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
In Luke 2:14 the angels sing of Jesus when He was born, “On earth peace.” At first sight these verses in Matthew and Luke seem to contradict each other. They do not. The blessed Book never does that. Remember:
When one thing in one part of the Bible seems to conflict with another part, or say something which seems to be wrong, you are to conclude that a little better understanding will set it all to rights in your mind.
“I come not to send peace” to a sinner if he stay in his sins. “There is no peace to the wicked.” There ought not to be. But as soon as a sinner asks Jesus for forgiveness, he gets peace. That’s the way peace comes on earth; it is the peace of God in the heart; peace and joy in believing.
Now, when one gets this peace, it seems so good that he wants some other one to get it, too. So he speaks to his other one and urges him to confess his sins and seek Jesus; and in most cases this other one gets angry and talks against Jesus or Christians. That often happens in a family where one is a true Christian and the others are not. You see how trouble will come. There will be war in that family. It may not be a war of swords, but it will be a war of words. Jesus does not want the war, and there wouldn’t be any if the sinner would give up. But he does not usually surrender till after a hard battle with Jesus. So Jesus is said to send a sword or war. It simply means, “I am come to fight against the wrong; and people who are on the wrong side and stay there, will fight against me and my soldiers.”
My dear, dear children, I wish you may never be found with a sword in your hand, or mouth, or heart, fighting against the Lord. Let Him put His sweet peace into your heart, and when you draw the sword, draw it against sin.
Did you know? … Reverend Livingston’s daughter was beloved Christian novelist Grace Livingston Hill.
Click on the links below to read more “A Hard Text” columns:
For many years Isabella had an advice column in a popular Christian magazine. In the column she answered readers’ questions—from a Christian perspective—on a variety of topics.
In 1910 she received this letter from a young woman:
Can you tell some of us girls—who never had a chance to learn much about real, practical, beautiful housekeeping—some way of learning? Are there not schools in cities for this purpose? Or are there not books from which we can learn what we need to know?
We want to understand all kinds or planning and arranging and beautifying and economizing.
We want to be excellent cooks, and to learn much that people whose time is largely spent in school or shop know very little about.
Can you help us with this practical need of ours?”
Here is Isabella’s reply:
It shall be my delight to do so.
Let me first express what a pleasure it is to find that one who can write so charming a letter as accompanied these questions is able to turn her thoughts to this practical subject, and to feel the “need” of knowledge.
Also, I rejoice in the thought that a large number of the letters awaiting attention deal with the same subject. Our lovely, cultured girls, who have had “advantages,” are beginning to feel the importance of understanding the art of home-making.
Schools? Certainly there are. Every city of reasonable size now sends out its circulars announcing a “cooking-school” in regular session through the school year, or in extra session during vacation, or for the winter months.
Better than these opportunities, especially for schoolgirls and those employed in regular work of any kind during the winter, are the cooking-schools that have sprung up in connection with the larger summer “assemblies.”
I am told that every well-established summer resort organized under the peculiar rules that belong to the word “assembly” now has its own fairly well-appointed cooking class or classes. I am, however, most familiar with the one at Chautauqua, N. Y., which is, of course, the mother of all the Chautauquas, and is and must always be the first in all ways.
Mrs. Emma P. Ewing, who, as everyone knows, has no superior in her department, conducts regularly at Chautauqua, N. Y., during the eight weeks’ season, a thoroughly equipped cooking-school, with its normal department, its “practice class,” its lecture course, and its final examination.
Nothing more fascinating than the way in which Mrs. Ewing manages the entire matter can well be imagined. It has been my pleasure to be often in her classroom, to admire the white table set out with all the belongings for the day, sometimes arranged for the purpose of making delicious soups and white sauces and delicate desserts, sometimes planned for the purpose of showing what a study in refinement and beauty and excellence a breakfast of lamb chop and creamed potatoes and corn puffs may become.
Every conceivable branch of the culinary art is taught here. Pies, puddings, cakes, sauces, gravies, roasts, fries, stews, each come in for a full share of careful consideration.
Let me confess just here that a very fascinating part of the daily class exercise is the careful “tasting” of whatever article of food has been prepared before our eyes. For this purpose scholars go to the class armed each with a silver spoon, or fork, as occasion may require, and a napkin.
Delicious beyond description are the spoonfuls of broth or “white soup” or bouillon that one thus enjoys, to say nothing of the marvellous concoctions made with a spoonful or two of cream, a cup of fruit-juice, a dash of sugar, and a little gelatine; to say nothing, moreover, of the delicious creams and ices and “foams” and innumerable other forms to delight the palate.
Not only can the making and cooking of all these dishes be thoroughly learned at this summer school, but there are classes formed for the special purpose of training the pupils in the art of setting the table neatly and gracefully, of clearing away skillfully, of selecting dishes that harmonize with others, of explaining the difference between a refined abundance and a sinful waste.
There are bills of fare arranged for summer, for winter, for the trying springs and falls. There is careful attention paid to the novice who does not know whether to buy steak “by the yard” or piece, or whether to try to have strawberries and green peas in February, or to wait until they are less flavored with money.
In short, anything that one needs to learn about housekeeping, as connected with the kitchen and storeroom, may be acquired at this summer cooking-school. Moreover, the teacher is so gentle voiced and sympathetic, and so thoroughly ladylike, that it is simply a pleasure to watch her and listen to her. It would be difficult to imagine anyone farther removed from the “fussy” or the hurried and nervous stage of housekeeping than Mrs. Ewing.
No matter how much it may sound like it, my dear girls, this is not an advertisement of the Chautauqua cooking-school. The truth is, that favored spot needs no advertising; its classes are always full, and application has to be made some time in advance. It is simply an honest effort to answer an honest and often repeated question about learning how.
Meantime, do you know, dear girls, what delightful institutions home cooking-clubs are? Why not organize one in your own circle?
Select one evening or afternoon a week out of your busy lives. Meet around at one another’s homes; find out the specialty of each mother or grandma or auntie; and petition for a lesson in her line—a “normal” lesson, where you can have the privilege of furnishing your own materials, and doing exactly what the teacher does, and carry home the result in triumph. Some of the most fascinating evenings I have ever known were spent in this way.
Try it, and see how much, at the end of a year, you will have added to your stock of practical knowledge.
What do you think of Isabella’s advice?
Where and when did you learn to cook? Have you ever taken a cooking class or joined a cooking club?
You can read some of Emma P. Ewing’s cookbooks for free! Just click on any of the titles below to view them on Archive.org.
Isabella’s brother-in-law the Reverend Charles M. Livingston wrote several articles for The Pansy magazine in which he explained some of the Bible’s most challenging verses in terms young people could understand.
Rev. Livingston wrote the following article for an April 1891 issue of the magazine:
A Hard Text
Matthew 8:28: And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
Mark 5:1-2: And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit;
Luke 8:26-27: And they arrived at the country of the Gadarrenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
They don’t seem to agree. How to account for that?
But don’t you see that if the writers wanted to cheat the readers they wouldn’t contradict each other?
The truth in this case is that they mention different cities but in the same region or neighborhood. Christ went into the same neighborhood.
“There met him two … ” says Matthew.
But Mark and Luke mention one, so then here’s another seeming contradiction. Two cannot be one. How to account for this?
Mark and Luke do not deny that there were two; they simply call special attention to the very furious one. He was a man of some standing before this and so his cure from such dreadful violence by the power of Christ would be so much the more noticeable.
This may be a key to many other “hard texts.” The writers only seem to contradict each other, whereas they may be telling different things about the very same person or thing, or calling special attention to one of several persons. When writers try to deceive, they do not give names and dates, [but] you will find them in the Bible.
It may not always be possible to harmonize all things as you read along in the Bible; but do not therefore conclude that those things cannot be harmonized.
When one thing in one part of the Bible seems to conflict with another part or say something which seems to be wrong, you are to conclude that a little better understanding will set it all to rights in your mind.
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Did you know? … Reverend Livingston’s daughter was beloved Christian novelist Grace Livingston Hill.
Click here to read another “A Hard Text” article by Rev. Livingston.