Isabella’s sister, Marcia Livingston penned this month’s delightful Free Read.
In the “Season of Giving” Miss Rachel Whitaker is no stranger to charitable causes. She’s a good Christian woman who faithfully donates to her church and mission boards, like her parents did before her. But when she is confronted by someone in need on her own doorstep, will she answer the call?
You can read “Miss Whitaker’s Blankets” on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.
Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.
To begin reading, just click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com.
Isabella Macdonald Alden was born the youngest child in a loving, and very tight-knit family.
She and her sisters were especially close, even though there was a vast difference in their ages.
For example, Isabella celebrated her first birthday the same year her eldest sister, Elizabeth, married and moved into a home of her own. But since Elizabeth’s new house was only a few steps from the Macdonald’s front door, Isabella and Elizabeth shared a close relationship.
The same was true of Mary, who was 14 years older than Isabella. When Mary wed and set up housekeeping, her home was built on property that abutted the Macdonald’s back garden. As a result, Isabella spent a lot of time with Mary and they, too, had a special bond.
It’s no wonder, then, that when Isabella married and began keeping a house of her own, she made certain the door was always open to family members. She wanted her sisters to feel the same welcoming spirit in her house as she had always felt in theirs.
When her son Raymond was young, Isabella and her husband Ross began taking him to Florida, hoping the southern climate would benefit Raymond’s health. To their relief, Raymond’s health did improve, so the Aldens decided to make Florida their winter home.
They bought a plot of land in the new town of Winter Park, and began building a house that would be big enough to accommodate plenty of family members.
They built on an oversized lot on the corner of Lyman and Interlachen avenues, right across the street from All Saints Episcopal Church.
The house was completed in 1888. Ross dubbed it “Pansy Cottage,” a name that stuck and was soon known all over town. This photo shows the size of the “cottage”:
The inviting home was three stories tall, with large yards in front and back, and a wrap-around porch that invited family, friends and neighbors to sit down and enjoy a cozy chat. It was the perfect place for the family to gather, far away from the cold New York winters.
In this photo you can see family members on the front steps and porch, in the yard, and even peeking out of the top-most windows. They look like they’re having fun!
Isabella and her family members spent many happy winters at the Pansy Cottage; and the Florida climate did improve Raymond’s health.
In 1906 Ross and Isabella began their preparations for retirement. They sold Pansy Cottage and moved to their new house in Palo Alto, California where, once again, everyone was welcome in Isabella’s new home.
In fact, she and Ross shared the California house with their son Raymond, and his wife and children, as well as Isabella’s sisters Julia and Mary.
After Ross and Isabella sold Pansy Cottage, it was passed along to different owners. Eventually, it was turned into a rooming house; and in 1955 Pansy Cottage was demolished. But thanks to photos like these, we can still peek into Isabella’s world and imagine a bit of her life with those she loved in turn-of-the-century Florida.
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In Isabella Alden’s books she often includes a character who is a “sort of” Christian. In Mrs. Solomon Smith Looking On, Laura Leonard was just such a Christian.
Laura had been brought up in a good home by good, Christian parents. She went to church every Sunday and attended Sunday-school. Laura was kind and knew right from wrong, but she had never accepted Jesus Christ as her Saviour. To the contrary, Laura rebelled against the mere thought of taking such a step . . . until Mrs. Solomon Smith helped show Laura that being a Christian and loving the Lord was the only way Laura would find real and lasting happiness in her life.
When Isabella wrote about Laura Leonard, she wrote from experience. Like fictional Laura, Isabella had been raised by loving Christian parents. She, too, attended church every Sunday, and joined the family in home worship every evening.
Beginning at a young age Isabella was carefully taught what the Bible says about who will be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and that the only way to have eternal life is through Jesus Christ; yet Isabella never took the ultimate step of choosing to accept Christ as her Saviour.
Then the unthinkable happened. When Isabella was twelve years old, she fell seriously ill. For several days neither her parents nor the doctor believed she would live. But, miraculously, the crisis passed, and Isabella began to recover.
Her sister Marcia, who was nine years older than Isabella, had stayed by Isabella’s side throughout her illness. She had watched over Isabella, and slept in a chair by her bed, never leaving Isabella’s side for more than a few minutes.
When Isabella began to feel better, Marcia asked her one day:
“Would you have gone to live in heaven if God had called you when you were so ill?”
Isabella was genuinely surprised by the question, but Marcia said, “The thought of parting from you forever was one of unceasing agony to me; and my constant prayer during all those days and nights of illness was that you might be spared until you could choose Christ.”
These words made a lasting impression upon Isabella. They came to her with all the power and force of a sudden revelation: for though she had been carefully trained, and knew in a theoretical way the plan of salvation, she had never given the matter five minutes serious thought, until her sister appealed to her as she did.
Isabella tried to put the subject aside again, feeling that it darkened the day and made her uncomfortable; but the Holy Spirit had carried it home to her soul, and over and over again Marcia’s words rang in her ears.
Isabella could no longer deny the truth. She wrote, “It is not enough for me to believe in Christ as a Saviour, I must ‘choose’ Christ as my Saviour.”
Soon she began to feel that in a strange and wonderful way her sister’s earnest and loving prayer that she might be spared to “choose” had been answered. And with it came the conviction that she was compelled to make a definite choice.
Not long afterward, she did choose the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour.
What a blessed decision that was for the millions of readers of her books!
In 1902 Isabella wrote:
“In a few more years it will be half a century since I chose Christ. I have had abundant reason to thank God for sparing my life at that time, and for giving me a faithful sister.”
Isabella and Marcia remained close, loving sisters for the rest of their lives.
And Isabella used her experience of being a “sort of” Christian as a device to show her fictional characters—and her readers—that believing in Christ wasn’t the same as choosing to make Christ the center of one’s life.
Isabella originally shared her story of how she became a Christian in a 1901 edition Christian Herald newspaper.
Isabella Alden often collaborated with her sister Marcia Livingston on many books and stories. In 1880 they combined their talents to produce a collection of short stories titled Divers Women.
Divers Women offers ten different stories about ten different women who face struggles in their lives until they put their faith in God to bring them the peace and happiness they’re unable to find on their own.
Marcia’s story “Sunday Fractures” is the first story in the book, and you can read it for free! Just click here or on the book cover to begin reading now.