January 1st 1864
The Lord has spared me to see another year, goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures, hallelujah, praise ye the Lord. I will now renew my covenant with God. I am determined to deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow Christ, if the Lord will bless me and mine, and bring my dear children home, who are in captivity. I will love and honor him and keep his commandments. The Lord has been with me the past year, I think I have grown in grace, I am pressing forward in the path to Heaven. I enjoy religion ’tis my meat and drink to do the will of God, he has heard and answered my prayers. All things work together for my spiritual good. I have my temptations and trials and sorrows and cares, I expect to have them as long as I live, but I know that God’s grace is sufficient for me. I have always found it so. The Lord has been with me in every trouble and comforted and blessed me and brought me out of many troubles, therefore I will continue to look to him with strong confidence and faith, he is my best friend. Sometimes I feel like he has sanctifyed me throughout soul, spirit and body. Sometimes my peace flows like a river, I have a sweet foretaste of Heaven.
Since I last wrote in my diary what a comfortable time I have had. Mary Virginia and Willie have arrived safe home from Arkansa, also her three children, Dora, Willie and Mollie. I thank and praise God for his goodness to my children. I will rejoice ever more, pray without ceasing, in every thing give thanks. The Lord has answered my prayers, hallelujah, praise ye the Lord, glory and honor and power be ascribed unto him forever, my peace flows like a river.
I have been sick several days since my daughter came, the excitement, and I have had a great deal of company. My poor weak body has suffered from it. My little grandchildren have been sick but they are better. My children have been sick, Annie and Robert have had dreadful colds. Mary Virginia has been sick and feeble, she was so fatigued from the long trip of 4 weeks. There is no perfect happiness here in this world of sin and sorrow, we are subject to cares, disappointments, sickness and sorrow, as long as we remain in these low grounds of sorrow. I have lately been tempted and tryed, I feel my poverty, helplessness and dependance upon my Saviour. I am the child of affliction, but I know that God has been with me, sometimes he permits me to see what a poor creature I am, so weak a worm of the dust, I am nothing, but Christ is my all in all.
Source: Mary Jeffreys Bethell Diary, 1853-1873. #1737-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/bethell/menu.html