Book Review . Quilting . Fiction . Harriet Tubman . Faith . Storytelling . Weddings/Broomstick . Moses . Christian Life . Christian Dating . Christian Marriage . Christian Interracial Dating . Christian Interracial Marriage
I received a complimentary copy of this book from New Hope Publishers.
And so Harriet Tubman, bereft of family, friends, and finances, pressed on, accompanied only by her God and destined to become the Moses of her people.
The apostle Paul also reminds us to press on.
God never forgets His people (Deuteronomy 1:6-8; Luke 5:4-8) 9-1994 preached by one of my former Pastors.
And yet, though this woman who was quickly becoming known as “Moses” was heroic, she did not take foolish chances. She went when and where she believed God directed her, trusting Him to keep her safe until her work for Him was done.
The Holy Spirit directs Christians where to go and He even tells Christians where they are not to go (Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6,7).
A minister friend of Harriet’s named Thomas Wentworth Higginson first introduced her to the audience as “Moses,” alluding to her work of leading the slaves to freedom, much as the biblical Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Because of her complete dependence on God, she didn’t hesitate when asked to expand her public speaking to include the cause of women’s suffrage.
The woman had rescued hundreds of slaves before the war and given three years of her life to serve the Union Army, most likely without any monetary compensation, realized when that the fight to set her people free was far from over.
“If you want to understand this courageous woman,” Mimi said, “then you have to first understand her great faith. There was no compromise when it came to her belief in God. From the earliest age, she was forced into a life that demanded complete trust in God if she were to survive. She understood that, and she practiced it daily. Combine that faith with a deep-seated desire to be free and to see her people free, and you’ll get a glimpse of how one solitary—uneducated and without a dime to her name – accomplished so much for so many.”
Could knowing more about this woman give her the inspiration she needed to become more like her? Mazie certainly hoped so.
“Harriet’s parents set the example, Mimi said. “These were not people who prayed once in the morning and once at night, or just before they ate, though they certainly did that. But they talked to God all day long, and Harriet grew up doing the same. She believed God talked to her. And when she heard from Him, she took His words seriously. The cruelest master in the world couldn’t take that from them. She committed her spirit to God, and she believed He would keep it safe.”
Last night Edward sat in on the part about Harriet’s younger life and what a strong Christian she was. He knew that, but it hadn’t really registered with him what a huge part of her life that was, and how impossible it would have been for her to be the courageous woman she was and accomplish all that she did without that faith. He paused.
He told his Sis, it really started me thinking about my own faith and how easily he took it for granted. And if he could get in on another installment of the Moses quilt story tonight, then he’s going to be there.
And now Edward wanted to come over and spend an evening listening to an old woman’s story. A story that in many ways he probably knew better than Mimi knew. What a fine young man that Edward Clayton was!
Lilly’s brow drew together as she gazed up at Edward. “She stated to Edward, I understand that some of Harriet Tubman’s story is new to Mazie. But you, Edward? Surely you already know it.
Mazie watched Edward pause before nodding True. Most of it anyway. But somehow, hearing Mimi tell it in relation to the quilt from Gee’s Bend … He shook his head and shrugged. He wasn’t sure why it fascinated him to hear it, but it did.
And how would the story ultimately impact Mazie’s relationship with Edward? For as surely as Harriet Tubman had known the master’s death would somehow change her life. Mazie suspected change was in the offing for her as well.
When Miss Susan explained that Harriet wasn’t doing the job correctly, the sister scolded her for punishing the child for something she’d never been taught to do. The sister showed Harriet how to perform some simple household chores to Miss Susan’s specifications, and the situation improved slightly.
“By staying close to God; her relationship with Him was at the center of everything Harriet Tubman ever did or said or believed. It’s the reason she was able to accomplish all that she did in her amazing lifetime.”
Mimi’s smile was weak. The Scriptures promise that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. There is no other way, child. Sadly, we don’t seem to learn or understand that until we’re put in a position where our own strength isn’t enough. That’s when we have to make the choice to turn toward God – or away from Him. Thankfully, Harriet turned toward Him, time and time again, throughout her life, regardless of circumstances or suffering. And God used her mightily because of it.”
Mazie thought, “How many followed in Harriet’s footsteps even now, inspired by her courage and her faith, her selfless life and powerful legacy? Would anyone ever follow
In Mazie’s footsteps, challenged by some honorable deed or sacrificial gift?
Mazie had always thought she had a strong faith and, for the most part, modeled a fairly exemplary Christian lifestyle. But did she? Was it enough to believe in and adhere to the basic tenets of the Christian faith? Or was God calling her to something more? Was He in fact, calling all His people to something more? If so, how many truly responded?
Edward stated, he may have experienced instances of prejudice, in his lifetime, his dad had before him, and Pops told stories that let him know that he didn’t have it easy. But nothing close to Harriet.
Harriet’s life really helps put our own in perspective, doesn’t it? Just about the time I think, I might have something to complain about, all I have to do is think about Harriet and the cruelty she endured. It’s mind-boggling ---------- especially when you think thousands of other people lived in similar conditions – maybe even worse.
Mazie tells Edward that she loves him. What she don’t know is why she resist what her heart longs for – and that’s to say to him, to be his wife. And she has to keep asking him to wait too. She realizes that this isn’t fair, and she worries that she’ll make him wait too long and lose him. But she has to be sure
“Thanks to Old Rit’s tender care of her daughter, Harriet recovered once again.” But then she was sent out as a housekeeper for a different woman, who treated her every bit as badly as Miss Susan. The amazing thing is tat as Harriet got older, she claimed to have no ill feelings toward her former masters.
The old woman shook her head. That slave girl might not have been able to read, but she loved the Holy Scriptures. One of her favorites was Isaiah 16:3. And she was known for praying nearly every waking moment of her life.
It was all part of God’s preparation for the great work He had for her in the future.
Tracy didn’t make a habit of attending any Cburch other than the one in which she’d grown up in and her family still attended. But her parents were out of town enjoying a little “alone time,” as her daddy called it, and Tracy knew Edward was planning to go to Mazie’s Church. He’d make a point of inviting Tracy to join them and at first she had turn them down.
Deep down she had to admit that at least part of what she was feeling on this unusual morning was a desire to see Mazie and Edward together – at a Church where just decades earlier, Edward would have been barred from worshipping.
Tracy wanted to look her best at all times, whether at work or grabbing a burger downtown – but most of all when she went to the house of the Lord. Her parents had taught her and Edward that. It did not matter to her if Mazie and her family did attend a Church that didn’t seem to care if people came in suits or blue jeans. She certainly hoped that Edward would not show up in the later.
Mimi reminded Mazie “Remember, God numbers our days, and only He knows if we will have another time …. Or not.”
Mimi shares another part of the Moses quilt: the patch with the two white bells on it.
The image between the two white bells is a broomstick.
Broomstick ceremonies were practiced by most slaves in those days, though Mimi was a it fuzzy on the origination of the practice, and she imagined Mazie was too. Mimi asked Edward if he could add any details to the custom. It seems the bride and groom would jump over a broomstick to seal their vows one to another. Many people, including Harriet’s parents, thought the girl would never marry. “But then she met John Tubman … and everything changed.”
Harriet was a hard worker, a woman of great faith, and she had a powerful singing voice. John Tubman, a liberated slave who carried his “freedom papers” with him at all times, was also an observant man who didn’t allow Harriet’s qualities to escape his notice.
The two worked side-by-side for a man named John Stewart. Because both groups did nearly the same type of work, however, freed blacks made it a point to have their papers with them wherever they went so as not to be mistaken for slaves.
Soon, however, Harriet could no longer deny the truth of John’s interest in her.
Finally, one day in 1844, in the presence of family and friends, both slave and free, Harriet Ross became Harriet Tubman. It was a simple ceremony, with no mention of “till death do us part” or “what God has joined together let not man put asunder,” since Harriet was still a slave and could be sold or traded away by her master at any time.
John Tubman was a free man who could also read and write.
You see through John was a free man, thanks to a stipulation in his former master’s will, they still had to live in the slave quarters because of Harriet’s status. And sadly, so far as anyone knows for certain, they never had any children. Her entire being still burned with the longing for freedom, but each time she suggested to her husband that they make a run for the North, he discouraged her, even threatening to betray her if she tried it.
Harriet was obviously an all-or-nothing kind of woman with a courageous and selfless heart – the complete opposite of Mazie Hartford, who couldn’t make a simple commitment to marry the finest man she’d ever known.
Edward and Mazie had been out riding and on their way back to Mazie’s there was blinking red and white lights.
There was a stretcher (gurney) by Mimi’s bedroom door. A tall, hefty man wearing a Langsdale Fire Department T-shirt stood beside it.
The fireman turned his attention from what was going on inside the room toward Mazie, the new arrival.
He allowed her the spaced needed to catch a glimpse of what was no doubt another fireman and two paramedics, gathered around Mimi’s bed, poking and prodding and questioning.
Mazie looked up after they had taken Mimi to the hospital and Edward was standing beside her and Lily. He opened his arms and encircled them both and told her ‘Let’s pray right now.’ Then we’ll get in my car and I’ll drive you to the hospital.
Surely Edward was the sort of husband that every Christian woman dreams of finding one day, and here he was, sitting next to her, ready to slip a ring on her finger if she would only say yes.
A door opened – and it was not a doctor or nurse. Tracy stepped through it.
Edward no doubt called or texted her.
Lily smiled at Tracy and told her to “pray,” and know that they appreciated her support.
The doctor came in and spotted them and revealed that Mimi had ‘Congestive heart failure’ ‘COPD.’
Lily has tried to prepare Mazie for the day that Mimi will pass (not now but later in the book). The Bible teaches that when someone we love dies, we grieve but not as those who have no hope.
Dr. Marsh released Mimi to go home.
Mazie retrieved the patchwork covering and held it up for Mimi to see.
The patch with what looks like burst a bird on it.
That patch represents Harriet’s courageous decision to be free, regardless of the cost. Like a bird being let out of a cage, our heroine was about ready to fly.
Harriet had been beaten, whipped, starved, and humiliated more times than she could remember, and her desire for freedom grew with every abuse. Not only did Harriet long to be free herself, but she also wanted to help free as many of her people as possible. Why couldn’t John understand that?
John was a handsome man, and a charming one too. And oh, could he sing! He was quite a catch, that one.
But free or not, there wasn’t much opportunity for freed slaves to make a living except as farmers or field hands, working right alongside the slaves.
To make matters worse, Harriet had come to believe that she and her family had been set free as well, but she had no way to prove it. At one point Harriet managed to pay a lawyer five dollars to find proof of this arrangement. The lawyer did, and Harriet discovered her mother should have been set free years earlier, but a deceptive master refused to honor his agreement.
Harriet’s master, the young heir to the Brodas plantation, died suddenly, and rumors began to fly. The guardian of the estate planned to sell off several slaves. Harriet and two of her brothers were among them. It was a fate Harriet was not willing to accept without a fight.
If Mimi was able to continue her story to the end, Mazie might find the answer to her dilemma. At least, she certainly hoped so.
Lily, “We think we have problems sometimes don’t we? But we don’t even begin to know what a hard life is until we hear about someone like Harriet and all she went through. What a courageous woman.”
Finally, one warm summer evening in 1849, Harriet wrapped a tiny bit of food in a bandanna, knowing it might be all she’d have for some time. Excitement swirled with sadness inside her, as she wrestled with the need to run and the tragedy of leaving loved ones behind. Sadly, she couldn’t even risk telling her parents or other siblings what was about to happen the next morning.
As her final day on the plantation drew to the close, Harriet walked through the slave quarters, singing as she often did.
Harriet knew she was not alone. “Oh, dear Lord,” she prayed, “I ain’t got no friend but you. Come to my help, Lord, for I’m in trouble.
Mazie knew that Harriet was called the Moses of her people and that she was involved with the Underground Railroad, leading slaves to freedom, but that’s about it. Somehow listening to Mimi’s story and following it on her quilt makes it more personal, she suppose.
Was it possible Mimi was telling them this story about the Moses quilt so their family could finally unwrap a story of their own.
As a child Mimi was almost assaulted by a couple of young boys, and a man saw and stopped them. She had wanted to go and pick some fruit and the boys saw her by herself.
The fugitive slave statue, passed by Congress in 1793, allowed owners to recapture their slaves and bring them back to their plantations, punishing them in any way they saw fit.
Harriet had once met a white woman, a quaker named Miss Parsons, while working in the fields. Miss Parsons was touched by Harriet’s story and told her if there was ever anything she could do to help her that she shouldn’t hesitate to ask.
At the next stop she received more food and more information.
The man name was Thomas Garrett, and he was already deeply involved in the Underground Railroad when Harriet appeared in his life. A devout Quaker, he had dedicated his life to rescuing slaves and seeing slavery abolished.
Mazie was haunted by the idea that Harriet was so driven to find freedom that she left her husband behind. She wondered if she would ever experience a passion or longing so deep that she would be willing to risk absolutely everything else to achieve it. She also wondered how much deeper Harriet’s feelings for John had run than her feelings for Edward.
Mazie had been surprised when even Lily decided to join them, but when she heard Mimi was going to tell them about Harriet’s life beyond rescuing slaves on the Underground Railroad she’d quickly voiced her interest.
Mimi “You see that patch with the gold coin, off to the right?”
That coin represents the many expenses involved in supporting Harriet’s treks back and forth to the south, not to mention her own living expenses and caring for her aging parents and others once she’d brought them north.
Harriet had been attending antislavery events for years, but when approached in 1858 to become a speaker, she was stunned. Who would want to listen to an uneducated former slave?
As a result, when urged to join the speaking circuit, she sought God’s guidance and decided it was indeed what He wanted her to do.
Because of her complete dependence on God, she didn’t hesitate when asked to expand her public speaking to include the cause of women’s suffrage.
The next morning Edward and Mazie opted to attend Church with Lily, not wanting her to have to go alone. After checking in on Mimi, whose caregiver was about to turn the still sleeping elderly woman over to Lily’s care. Mazie grabbed her pineapple and cabbage salad from the refrigerator and followed Edward out to his car.
“Mom and Dad will be so glad to see you,” he said, as he opened the door for her and helped her get situated after placing the salad bowl on the floor behind her.
Edward parents have been busy as ever.
His dad is always working, and his Mom is totally involved at Church – except when she’s busy looking for a potential husband for Tracy. Tracy does her best to ignore her, but she knows only too well how happy Mom would be if she’d get married and have kids.
The next installment of the Moses quilt story could wait until Edward brought her home that evening.
Within moments, they were all gathered around the table examining the quilt patch that showed a Union flag, sipping tea, and awaiting the next portion of Mimi’s story.
She agreed to the governor’s request, though it was May of 1862 before the doors opened for her to become actively involved in the service of the Union Army.
Though personally disappointed with President Abraham Lincoln, in that she felt his top priority should be freeing the slaves rather than preventing secession, she committed to doing whatever she could to help the Northern cause.
“God won’t let Master Lincoln beat the South till he does the right thing.” Harriet declared. “Master Lincoln is a great man, and she was a poor Negro(then)/Black/African Americans (now), but this Negro(then)/Black/African Americans(now) can tell Master Lincoln how to save money and young men. He can do it by setting the Negroes(then)/Black/African Americans(now) free.”
Harriet realized after she had gave her life to three years to serve in the Union Army that the fight to set her people free was far from over.
Mimi funeral was on Friday, with a nearly packed house at the Church. Edward set on Mazie’s left, her mother on her right. Each held on of her hands as the service progressed, with Mimi’s favorite songs being sung and a slideshow of Mimi’s life playing across the screen in front. She had answered the call of the angels the moment she saw Jesus, leaving the rest of them behind to miss her and long for the day when they would see her again.
Edward sat on his couch staring in the darkness and praying for Mazie.
With a sigh he pulled himself from the couch and padded barefoot across the room to his desk, where he flipped on the light before sitting down and jostling the mouse to bring his screen to life. He immediately went to the Internet and typed in Harriet Tubman’s name. Clicking on what he imagined would be one of the most reliable sources, he soon found himself immersed in the story of the second Moses.
Not only did his reading confirm much of what Mimi had told them, but it brought back details he hadn’t heard since his schooldays.
Sarah Bradford donated her time to write Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman. The book, was financed by other friends of Harriet Tubman, including William Seward. The book was a success and produced an income that covered not only Harriet’s living expenses but helped to fund her work. Harriet, still struggled financially until the end of her life simply because she was always ready to give away anything she had to help someone else.
In 1897, Harriet received the Diamond Jubilee model from Queen Victoria, in honor of the queen’s sixteen anniversary on the throne.
After a severe bout with pneumonia, on March 10, 1913, at the age of ninety-three, Harriet closed her eyes for the last time and no doubt heard her Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home at last.”
Over a year later, the city of Auburn honored their beloved Harriet, with a proclamation, issued by the mayor, to fly the flag all over the city as a tribute to the monumental work accomplished by this humble but courageous and faith-filled woman. The next day, flags flew everywhere across a city populated mostly by Whites.
By the time Edward had finished reading tears trickled down his face. “You know that when God made a promise, He meant it,” he whispered. “Of all he could remember and all he learned about Harriet, that’s the greatest thing.”
Booker T. Washington was among the attendees that day, and he said that Harriet had “brought the two races nearer together.”
Edward asks Mazie to marry him again. He tells her that he loves her and don’t want to live without her. It isn’t about their ancestors, about Pops of Mimi, and things that happened to them, or about anyone else. It is about Edward and Mazie. She found out what she went to Gee’s Bend to discover, so now he wants an answer now. Today.
They were not bound by the past; Christ had set them free, even as He had with Harriet and so many others through the centuries.
Yes she told Edward, that she would marry him. And the sooner, the better.
Family and friends gathered together at the Church Mazie and her mother had attended for so many years, the same sanctuary where just months earlier they had held a memorial service for her beloved Mimi. With the pastor from Mazie’s Church as well as the one from Edward’s performing the ceremony together. Behind the two pastors was a large wooden Cross on the wall. Underneath it hung the Moses quilt, reminding them of all they had learned. One patch in particular caught her eye – the one with the dove holding a branch in the beak. A symbol of peace.
The Dove is also an emblem of the Holy Spirit, of peace, purity, and affection.
Kathi Macia, is a Multiple award-winning author, with nearly 35 books including the “Quilt” series, the “Freedom” Series and the “Extreme Devotion” novels for New Hope Publishers. Her devotionals reach hundreds of thousands – through the Christian Civic League, Black Christian News, Latino Christian News, Christians in Recovery, and Crosswalk.com. A popular speaker, Kathi loves outreach to prison and homeless ministries, and praying for and aiding the persecuted Church globally. A wife, mother, and grandmother. She lives is California.