Poor, Wretched Peter!

Isabella was deeply involved in the Christian Endeavor movement. Each month the Society of Christian Endeavor published meeting guides and lesson plans for local chapters to use in their meetings. When the May 1894 meeting guide focused on Peter’s actions in the book of Luke, Isabella wrote a special “open letter” to the youngest C.E. members to help them understand the context of the lesson. Here’s what she wrote:


Dear Young People:

Some of you are studying this month about Peter. You are dreadfully shocked over him as you read his story in the twenty-second chapter of Luke. I do not wonder. How terrible it must have been to Jesus to have heard Peter say, “I know him not!”

And in another place it tells how Peter even swore that he did not know him! Poor, wretched Peter!

If we had not heard anything more about him, we should have despised him all our lives. And as it is, we are quite sure that we would never have done such a thing as that, if we had been on earth when Jesus was. I heard a boy say so, once.

“No, ma’am!” he said, his cheeks growing red at the thought. “I tell you, I am very sure I never should have denied him. The idea!”

Yet only the next day that boy was playing croquet with some other boys, and two began to swear.

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“Hush!” said one of them, after a minute. “We mustn’t swear before Tommy; he’s a goody-goody boy and has promised never to use any naughty words. Run away, Tommy, before we hurt you.”

What did Tommy say? Remember, he was the boy who knew he would not have denied Jesus. He laughed, and blushed, and said:

“I’m not afraid of your words; say what you like.”

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Why did he say that? Why, because he was ashamed to own before those boys that he belonged to Jesus Christ, and had promised to try to please him. Don’t you think he denied him quite as much as Peter did?

Oh, there are many ways of doing it. I am reminded of a girl I used to know, whose mother did not approve of little girls taking walks on Sunday.

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On the way home from Sunday-school, her classmates said to her:

“Come on, let’s go down to the river for a walk;” and she answered:

“Oh, I can’t today; I have a little headache.”

She said this, not because of her headache, which was not enough to keep her from going anywhere she pleased, but because she did not like to own that she had been taught it was not the right way to spend Sabbath time, and she was trying to do right. Do you think there was a little bit of denial of Jesus in her heart just then?

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What do you think of Isabella’s letter?

Love’s Garden

Isabella was an avid reader, and often read aloud to her family. She enjoyed biographies, histories, and fiction; but she particularly enjoyed reading poetry. In fact, her husband Ross and her son Raymond were both published poets.

Isabella often shared poems she enjoyed with readers of The Pansy magazine. In an 1893 issue she printed this lovely poem:

Love’s Garden

There is a quiet garden
From the rude world set apart,
Where seeds for Christ are growing;
This is the loving heart.
The tiny roots are loving thoughts,
Sweet words, the fragrant flowers
Which blossom into loving deeds—
Ripe fruit for harvest hours.
Thus in our hearts the seeds of love
Are growing, year by year;
And we show our love for the Saviour,
By loving his children here.

Author Unknown

A Hard Text in Matthew

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.
Photo of open Bible.

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:

A Hard Text

A Hard Text: Mathew, Mark, and Luke

What is Love?

Isabella Alden’s son Raymond was fifteen years old when he wrote this sweet poem. It was published in The Pansy magazine in 1888.

(Written in answer to a child who asked what love was.)

Love is—well, what can anyone say?
Love is—Why, darling, think all day
Of all the words that we can say;
And think, and think, and tell me
What love is. Ah! I knew you could not.

Well, love is Jesus; and He is love.
Love is a message, so sweet, from above.
God is love, so the good Book says,
And true love is great and high, always.

What is the best definition given?
Love is a message, a breath from Heaven.
God’s message to lost ones—our Light, our Life.
Love makes all peace where once was strife.
Oh! Let me show you what love can do.

For God so loved the world that he gave
His only begotten Son to save—
Whom do you think? Why, sinners, whom
Justice for justice’s sake would doom!

But then, you look very wise, and say,
Why, God is love, you know, anyway!
Aye, my darling, that is true.
Now let me ask you—What cannot love do?

The Wayside Game

It’s the time of year when families begin planning their summer vacations. If you’ve ever taken a driving trip with children, you know the first rule is to keep children occupied.

Isabella most certainly had experience in taking children on long trips, by automobile and by train. Her son Raymond and daughter Frances frequently accompanied her when she traveled to speaking engagements all over the country.

In 1883 Isabella published a brief article in The Pansy magazine about a new game for traveling with children.

The next time any of you Pansies go travelling, try the new funny little “Wayside Game” that has just been invented for children on a journey. They are to look out for four-footed animals, each of which counts 1. A white quadruped counts 5, a squirrel 25, and a cat sitting in the window of a house, 50.
Two little girls were thus relieving the tedium of a long trip the other day, and the elder was getting ahead, when the younger happened to spy fifteen little pigs, as white as snow, which gave her 75 at once. And soon after, she was lucky enough to see a cat in the window, which gave her 50, so that the little one made a score of 365 against 189 for her sister. Try it, all who want a gay little travelling time.

Does this game sound familiar to you?

When you take driving trips, do you play a similar game?

Hello, April!

Few people know that Isabella’s husband, the Reverend G. R. Alden, was an accomplished poet. He wrote several poems for The Pansy magazine, including this one that celebrates the coming of spring:

April

O, Spring is coming now, don’t you see?

The birds will be followed by the humble bee.

The frogs are singing their evening song,

The lambs are skipping with their dams along,

The buds are out on the pussy-willow tree,

On the bough of the birch sings the chickadee.

Drawing of a little girl and boy barefoot, standing on the bank of a pond. He is fishing while she watches.

The cows come lowing along the lane,

With suppers all ready for us again;

Old Speckle scratches for her chickens ten,

New piggies are squealing in their pen.

Drawing of a birth feeding her chicks in their nest.

From the top of the tree the robin calls,

From the top of the dam the water falls,

And everything to the eye or ear,

Tells to old and young that April is here.

G. R. Alden

A Hard Text: Matthew, Mark and Luke

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.
Photo of open Bible.

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?

Easily enough.

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.

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.


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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.

Daily Thoughts for January

Isabella Alden strongly believed in spending a few minutes with the Bible every morning; and that even one verse, thoughtfully read, helped fortify and strengthen Believers in their daily walk with God.

Several of her novels were based on that premise, including:

Frank Hudson’s Hedge Fence

Her Mother’s Bible

The Exact Truth

We Twelve Girls

In each story, the main characters committed to memory and relied upon a single verse of scripture every day to help them in their daily lives. She called these stories “Golden Text” novels.

Isabella brought the same concept to The Pansy magazine. In 1895 she began publishing a regular monthly feature in The Pansy called “Daily Thoughts.”

“Daily Thoughts” was printed on the first day of each month, and consisted of a list of Bible verses meant to be read individually, one each day.

She chose each verse carefully, with the prayerful hope that each one would inspire her readers to live their lives for Jesus’ sake.

With each verse she offered a brief comment or question to help her readers better understand the text.

Her verses for January 1895 all came from the book of Psalms. You’ll notice she didn’t print the actual verse, but only gave the citation. She hoped doing so would encourage readers to open their Bibles each day and look up the verses for themselves.

You can click here to open a full-size PDF version of Isabella’s Daily Thoughts for January, which you can use, print, save and share with others.

Or click here to download a simplified Word version.

Please join us again next month to see Isabella’s “Daily Thoughts” for the month of February.

If you’d like to know more about Isabella’s novels mentioned in this post, click on the any of the book covers to learn more:

     

     

 

 

A Perfect Partnership: Isabella and Daniel Lothrop

In additional to writing novels, Isabella Alden wrote articles and short stories for many different publications.

Her stories and articles were so popular she found herself in a unique position for a writer: She never had to submit her work for publication.

Instead, publishers went to her. Elias Riggs Monfort, the long-time editor of The Herald and Presbyter (a weekly Presbyterian newspaper), gave her a lifetime contract to publish any serials she wrote.

Elias Riggs Monfort, about 1870 (Wikipedia).

Mr. Montfort was such a fan of Isabella’s, he wrote to his friend, Daniel Lothrop, full of praises about Isabella and her stories.

Daniel Lothrop was the owner of D. Lothrop & Company, a Boston publishing house that specialized in books for young people.

Daniel Lothrop.

Daniel Lothrop had been a great reader from his childhood; while he was still a boy himself he developed an ambition to publish books specifically written for children—a novel idea at the time. Even more radical: he believed the books should be beautifully illustrated to serve the story and keep children’s attention.

An undated artist’s rendering of the D. Lothrop and Co. Publishing building in Boston, Massachusetts.

But he persisted, believing that it was possible to publish children’s books that were not only entertaining, but encouraged “true, steadfast growth in right living.”

The interior of D. Lothrop and Company.

He often said to the people in his employ: “I publish books to do good as well as to make money. I always ask first, ‘Will this book help the young people?’ rather than ‘How much money is there in it?’”

His long partnership with Isabella began around 1874. After Elias Monfort sang Isabella’s praises to him, Daniel Lothrop invited Isabella to contribute stories to be published in a small weekly Sunday School newspaper he published.

Little One’s Friend, one of D. Lothrop and Company’s beautifully illustrated books for children.

By 1877 that short weekly paper had grown considerably in size and content—and Isabella was its editor!

Called The Pansy, each issue was filled with inspiring stories, delightful illustrations, short poems, and descriptions of exotic and far-away places to spark children’s imaginations.

Isabella wrote a short story for each issue, and other members of her family did, too, including her husband, her sister Marcia, niece Grace Livingston, and later, once he was old enough, her son Raymond.

Another frequent contributor was Daniel Lothrop’s wife Harriett, who wrote under the pen name “Margaret Sidney.”

Author Harriet Stone Lothrop, who wrote under the name “Margaret Sidney.”

Isabella wrote that Mr. Lothrop always had “a very warm place in his great warm heart” for The Pansy magazine.

Not only was he fertile in suggestions calculated to make it better, but he was ready always to heartily second the suggestions of others, and to aid in carrying them out.

The Pansy Society in particular was very dear to him. He was interested in everything about the Society, from the content of the letters children wrote to the magazine, to the design of the badges that Isabella sent to Pansy Society members. Isabella said:

“It would be difficult—impossible, indeed—to tell you in how many ways he helped along the cause of truth and right in the world.”

Another common interest Isabella and Lothrop shared was the Christian Endeavor Society. From the early days of the Society, Daniel Lothrop saw an opportunity to use his publishing company to further the Society’s message. He recruited authors to write books of interest to Christian Endeavor members. Margaret Sidney, Faye Huntington, and Grace Livingston were among those who answered the call.

An 1897 newspaper ad showing new Lothrop books by the company’s prized authors.

Isabella’s novels, Chrissy’s Endeavor and Her Associate Members were written and published especially for C.E. members.

     

Isabella’s long partnership with Daniel Lothrop lasted almost twenty years. It ended when he passed away in 1892.

Isabella was heartbroken. In her memoirs she wrote:

“Mr. Lothrop was my true, strong, faithful friend all his life.”

She gently told readers in an issue of The Pansy about the passing of “our friend who loved us, and worked for us and with us.”

It’s impossible to know how many lives were influenced for good by Isabella’s partnership with Daniel Lothrop. Her books alone sold more than 100,000 copies a year, and The Pansy magazine had thousands of subscribers all around the world.

They had formed a perfect partnership. Both Isabella and Daniel Lothrop must have been proud of their accomplishments and the knowledge that they always produced books and stories that were consistently wholesome, pure, and elevating.


You can learn more about The Pansy magazine, The Christian Endeavor Society, and The Pansy Society by reading these previous posts:

The Pansy Magazine

The Christian Endeavor Society

The Pansy Society