Thinking Joy in the Middle of Winter

Ann H Gabhart Heart of Hollyhill

February 4, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. First I have to let you know that last week was a disaster here in Hollyhill. A foot of snow and cold. Somebody told Dad that it was twenty below out on their farm. Wow! That’s too cold to do anything except sit by the fire and hope you don’t run out of wood or coal or gas or whatever keeps your house warm. We used to have a coal stove, but a couple of years ago Dad decided Aunt Love was getting too old to fix fires, so he put in a gas stove. Now we just have to worry about running out of gas in the big tank out back.

Did you miss me last week? I guess it was so cold it froze my brain and I forgot about making my report from Hollyhill. Nothing was happening anyway. Well, I mean nothing ever happens around here, but this was worse even than usual. Everybody stayed holed up in their houses and watched the snow blow around. I like snow, but when it’s real cold you can’t make a snowman or even a decent snowball and the sled runners sink down in the powdery stuff.

Sunday, Dad and the deacons called off church. That seemed weird too, but the church is out in the county and nobody could have driven there because the roads were drifted over. So we had church at home. Dad gathered us around the stove after breakfast and he read Exodus 33, where the Lord lets Moses stand in a cleft of the rock and covers him with his hand while he passes by to let Moses see his glory. After he read the verses, Aunt Love sang the chorus of “Rock of Ages.” It did seem to fit, so I joined in and Dad did too. None of us can sing all that great, but Dad says as long as you believe the words in a hymn, your singing sounds good to the Lord. After we sang, Dad said we don’t have to be on the mountain with God to see his glory. We can see it everywhere, even in the middle of a snow storm, but best of all, in the hearts and lives of those who believe.

Dad loves the Bible. He says he’s proud of me for trying to read through the Bible this year. I’m still reading a chapter every night but I haven’t gotten out of Genesis yet. 50 chapters in Genesis. It’s going to take me more than a year get through the Bible unless I start reading more than one chapter a night. Dad says I might get bogged down in Deuteronomy, Numbers and Leviticus, that they’re books of law with lots of the rules for the Israelite nation. Like what you do if your neighbor steals your cattle. Dad says somehow Jesus turned all these rules into two. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

So now the snow is melting and March is on the way. That’s when the third Hollyhill book will be out there for readers. Do you see me on the cover? What do you think about my picture there? I’m at Leigh’s apartment playing her records. She’s got some great 45s. Lots of Elvis. I think he must be her favorite singer. I don’t know which I like best. “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog” or “Love Me Tender.” Do you like Elvis? Which is your favorite Elvis song?

(Note from the future) If you haven’t got the new book, Summer of Joy, it will be out in about twenty days. Before that you can check out this place on Goodreads,, and sign up to maybe win a copy.