Daily Abiding with Granny - Coals of Kindness

Daily Abiding with Granny
"Coals of Kindness"

"If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink;
for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
(Romans 12:20,21 KJV)

This lesson from Granny comes to us in the second book, Going Home with Phoebe. Phoebe is having trouble making friends with a new girl named Delly. In fact, Phoebe even suspects that Delly has stolen a special book that had been borrowed from the parson's wife. Phoebe tries her best to be forgiving, but it's not easy. Zeke gives her encouragement and a lesson he learned from Granny - to be so loving and kind to those hateful people in your life that they can't resist the power of love and forgiveness. It's not easy, but Phoebe tries again.


Phoebe tried to return to the history of Magellan, but she kept looking at Delly and Stafford and Ross huddled around the stove. What kind of father would make his children walk to school on a day like this? She caught the eye of Delly, who quickly looked away. Phoebe noticed that her sweater looked square, like there was something underneath it.

After the spelling lesson, Miss Edgecomb looked at her watch that hung on a chain around her neck. “Phoebe, would you please help the younger girls to the outhouse and then fetch their lunch pails so they can eat in here? We’ll have to have our recess inside today.”

Stella and Jemmy put on their coats and bonnets to face the blowing storm for the few feet to the outhouse. They each grabbed one of Phoebe’s hands and squealed with mock fright as she raced with them across the soggy yard. The wind whistled through the cracks and even up the hole. No one ever dilly-dallied in the outhouse, but especially not on a day like today.

Even though the storm meant being trapped indoors all day, there was an air of excitement and adventure. Children scurried up and down between the desks. Some of the boys began leap-frogging over them until Miss Edgecomb promised a sing time. She also decided to allow them to sit with their friends instead of in their normal assigned spots. Stella and Jemmy pulled Phoebe to sit with them, so Phoebe squeezed into the seat next to the little girls. She looked around the room and noticed Delly sitting alone.

“I’ll sit with you another time,” she told the little girls. “I promise.”

She stood near Delly’s desk. “Would you like me to sit with you?”

Delly looked up with squinted eyes, “Why would I want that? Maybe I like being alone.”

Phoebe stared at her. Her eyes stung and her throat tightened. Her breath came fast and hard. She turned on her heel and plopped in the bench at her desk. Grrrr . .  . That Delly can be so . . .  so . . .  difficult! Doesn’t she recognize when someone is trying to be nice?

Phoebe ate the bread and cheese and apple pie that Maseppa had packed for her, but it tasted bland and dry. She loved to sing, but today she just didn’t feel like it. She’d be glad when their lessons were done and Zeke came to pick them up. She lifted the lid of her desk and froze.

There was the book! The red coloring from the binding was spreading to her papers. One edge looked smeared, like mud had been wiped off. She glanced over at Delly, but she was bent over her desk with intense concentration. She glanced up at Phoebe and then looked back at her work.

Miss Edgecomb was collecting papers from the third class on the other side of the room. Phoebe took the book and walked quickly to the coat room. She wrapped it in her shawl and put it under her lunch pail. Just as she was slipping back into her desk, she heard Miss Edgecomb. “Phoebe Johanson, please sit down and resume your studies.”

“Yes, Miss Edgecomb.”

The schoolroom returned to the normal sound of rustling papers and books. Phoebe glanced at Delly, who was staring at her. Phoebe and Delly held each other’s gaze for a few seconds. Phoebe smiled and there was a little twitch at the corner of Delly’s lips.

Phoebe was glad that Zeke was there when school let out at three o’clock. She told Matthew to get ready while she went to ask Zeke something. She explained about the Kittles, and just like she knew would happen, he offered to take them home. She ran back through the stinging raindrops.

“Delly, Stafford, and Ross, you don’t have to walk home. Zeke said he’d take you home. We’ll have to squeeze together, but that’s alright. We’ll stay warmer that way.”

Matthew, Stafford, and Ross sat on the floor of the buggy, while Delly and Phoebe squeezed in the seat next to Zeke. There wasn’t much room for their feet.

Delly whispered, “How come you didn’t tell on me about the book?”

“I don’t know. I guess I felt sorry for you, being all wet and all. I want to be your friend.”

Delly’s face clouded. “I don’t need no charity friends,” she hissed and turned her face toward the passing, wet landscape.

Phoebe glanced to her left to see if Zeke was listening. He was whistling and didn’t seem to be paying attention to them. The boys were on their knees and talking about Ol’ Sam.

Zeke dropped off the Kittles, and Delly stomped through the puddles without so much as a glance backwards. Phoebe felt frustrated and ashamed, but mostly confused.

After Matthew got out, she and Zeke headed home. The rain pattered on the buggy roof, and Ol’ Sam slopped steadily through the mud.



“Sometimes it’s hard being nice, isn’t it?”

Zeke lifted his hat and scratched his head. “I heard you and Delly talking. Let me tell you something. She’s hurting and embarrassed about her life. She’s pushing folks away ‘cause then they’ll see how things really are.”

“I know it’s not her fault that her pa is like that. I just want to be her friend.”

He smiled at her. “I know, Li’l  Angel. You’ve got a big heart.” He thought for a minute. “There’s a place in the Good Book that talks about ‘heaping coals o’ fire’ on folks’ heads to show you care.”

“Coals of fire?”

“Granny called it ‘coals of kindness.’ It’s showing so much love to them that their shame makes them uncomfortable and they can’t help but be sorry.”

Phoebe thought on that for a while. It isn’t easy to be kind to the Kittles. It’s like trying to hug a porcupine!  Phoebe cocked her head and faced Zeke. “Do you think you could take me over to the parsonage ‘fore we go home? I’ve got something that I need to tell Missus Thomas.”

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