The Root Stock
Harlan and Clara Macy had nine children in 20 years. Baby Howard died in infancy, the rest made it to adulthood. Losing one in nine was about par for the course, many lost more.
They considered themselves to be stewards. They practiced stewardship in every area of their lives. We have only an echo of this attitude. For younger readers, think about the Tolkien story. The steward runs the kingdom in trust until the return of the King. This was not a metaphor for the Macys or their Quaker kin. They believed they held everything in trust from a Christ who would imminently return and that an accounting would be made. The land and all its produce was held in trust. Health and physical strength was a trust. The children were given by God to be raised for God - you fostered your own children. They owned nothing, but took care of it all. They attempted to run all by God's precepts.
This attitude pervaded every area of their life. On one corner of their 80 acre farm sat the two room schoolhouse to educate the community's children. They tithed their land as well as their money.
Harlan was known as an especially good steward. He worked hard and smart. He saved some of whatever cash came through his hands. He gave ten percent and more to the work of the church. But that was not God's share - it was all God's - that was the share that God wanted to be given to the church. Harlan was the man you went to if you needed a loan. He loaned freely, without interest, to members of the community, because this is what the Bible said to do. And because of the respect he had in that community he almost always got his money back.
Clara was the nurturer. She had an easy laugh and a forgiving nature. She did all the hard work that farm wives did while bearing those 9 children. She cooked on a wood stove for most of that time. Once Charlotte and young Hazel McIndoo, (then a friend and neighbor, one day to become a sister-in-law,) were left with the task of preparing food for some Iowa relatives about to arrive. Clara had business out of the house. Charlotte and Hazel stoked up the stove unaware that Clara had left one of her shoes in the cooling oven to dry out. When the aroma of their food suddenly seemed off, they checked all the compartments of the old giant. They had cooked Clara's shoe to ruination. A shoe was a valuable, cash paid for, object during the great depression most women owned no more than two pair. But Clara neither punished nor scolded the girls when she arrived home to grave faces and apologies. Young stewards were imperfect and Grace was God's way, and so grace was applied.