Stories for Advent – Day 7

God’s Plan for Christmas

The Tale of Noah and the Ark – Part 4

“Are you guys coming? Grampa says that he can’t eat his cookies without milk to wash them down with.”

“We’re on our way, we couldn’t find the tray right away,” said Jon.

Sue turned and looked at Stanley and took a step toward him.

“Little brother, I want you to know how proud I am of you. You’ve really shown that you can sit through a long story and pay attention.”

“You’re not gonna hug me, are you?”

Sue backed up a step.

“Nope, not a chance. Go tell Grampa we’ll be there in a minute.”

“Ok!”

Jon laughed, “You almost did know.”

“Yeah, I wanted to but—”

“But what?”

“Well, he’d get all embarrassed and act up, and we’d never hear the end of the story.’

“Good call!”

They took the tray into the living room, and once everyone was all settled in, Grampa began …

# # #

“Enoch … Enoch … come on son, it’s time to get up.”

“Okay Mom, just five more minutes …”

“I had one more stone to roll before I would beat those town boys at their own game. I lined up my shot and just as I was about to make it—”

“Enoch, you need to get up and do your chores. Come on, son.”

“Okay, okay …” Realizing the game was just a dream; I stretched my arms and legs, and then opened my eyes and tried to focus.

The room was pretty dark, “Where was my window, my furniture…my stuff?”

Then suddenly I felt my bed lift up from behind me and tilt to my left. I quickly looked around, “What is going on? My whole room moved!”

“Huh? Wha … where am I?” I said out loud.

“It’s alright, this is your first time waking up on the ark,” my Mom’s voice again filtered through the morning fog in my head.

Then things began to look familiar, “Oh, yeah, that’s right…”

Memories of the last days, weeks and months began to flood back into my mind, the work on the ark, the fire, the townspeople attacking Grampa, the animals arriving, the rains and flooding and finally the door of the ark closing on the outside world the Lord had decided to destroy.

“Ok Mom, I’m going.”

I got up, dressed, washed, grabbed a chunk of bread from the table and headed up toward the large pen with the netting containing all the birds that came with us on the ark. I have to feed them and clean out their pen.

There was singing and wild calls coming from the top of the ladder I had to climb to get to the upper level. I really like all the birds, feeding them isn’t too bad. It’s the cleaning up after them that’s yucky.

I grabbed a couple of buckets and filled them with the different kinds of food the birds liked and went into the pen. When they saw me with the food, the sound of all the birds got so loud I nearly had to cover my ears.

Looking up into the branches of the trees my Pop and uncles had brought in and mounted to the walls of the pen, I saw many of the birds moving to the lower branches. They seemed eager to eat.

It’s a good thing I looked up because one of the birds was dropping something yucky. I just barely got out of the way in time.

After cleaning out the pen and putting out the food, I sat on the bench inside the enclosure and thought for a while. “This is going to get real boring fast if this is all I have to do every day,” I said to myself.

I had asked Grampa how long we were going to be on this trip. But, the only answer I could get from him was “The Lord will let us know when He is done out there. Just be patient, Enoch.”

So, I decided to explore the ark.

The first thing I did was to walk all the way from end to end on the deck my birds were on. I had already done that topside (that’s what we call the top deck of the ark where you could go outside) but, I didn’t want to stay out there because it was still raining.

But I wanted to see everything.

So, I walked and walked and walked, each day I went to a new and lower level.

I looked and looked and looked. I had never seen so many different kinds of animals in all my life. A lot of the animals were new to all of us, and we didn’t know what to call them. Many had come from very far away, and many were very strange.

I wanted to see them all, even all the creepy, creeping things, no matter how long it took.

One night at supper, we talked about what I was doing.

“What did you see today, Enoch,” Mama asked.

“I saw the monkeys and the antelope and the … um … striped horses,” I said.

Papa laughed and said, “Those are called zebras son.”

Then he spoke up in his stern voice, “I don’t want you going down to the lowest levels son. The big cats and other very large, dangerous animals are down there. They may be safe enough but, I don’t want you to take any chances. Do you understand me?”

“Yes Papa,” I said.

There were still lots of other parts to explore that I hadn’t seen yet. And, there were lots of animals yet to see.

Every day for several weeks I went out and looked and explored. I was having a great time until one day when I was going down to one of the lower levels where we kept, the larger animals…

“Hmm, here’s another ladder going down, I don’t remember seeing this one before.” I thought to myself. Down at this level, the cages were much larger than the ones higher up.

“Wow! I bet the really big animals are down here. One more level won’t hurt…”

I was frightened by the big cats at first, but they turned out to be pretty friendly as long as I didn’t get too close.

Then I saw another ladder leading even farther down.

“Hmm, I’m pretty sure that this is where Papa told me not to go. But I wonder what it looks like down there”.

Just then I heard some strange rustling around noises and noticed that the lamps that lit up each of the lower levels seemed to be out. I began to get very curious. I looked around to see if anyone was around.

“Papa will never know if I look just once.”

So, I began climbing down the ladder, and I was turning and twisting around trying to see what was there when suddenly the ark lurched, and my foot slipped. I lost my grip on the ladder and began flailing around trying to grab onto something when my left leg got caught in one of the steps of the ladder.

There was excruciating pain, a horrible snapping sound and then I landed hard on my back, flat on the deck. The next thing to hit must have been my head because I blacked out for a while.

When I awoke, I was in more pain than I had ever imagined in my whole life. I realized I had broken my leg badly. I couldn’t keep from yelling and crying it hurt so badly, but no one came. I was down there all alone.

I realized that my father and uncles were cleaning out stalls at least two decks above me and couldn’t hear me.

“Where is Grampa’s God when I need Him?”

I immediately felt completely alone and in the dark. Then I began to feel afraid. I didn’t know how often they came down to this level to care for the animals.

My eyes began to gradually get used to the dim light.

I began to yell again.

“Help,” I yelled as loud as I could.

“Help!”

“Help!”

After the second or third yell, there was this really weird echo. It sounded a lot like a horn of some sort.

Every time I hollered help, that strange horn echoed back to me.

After about five or six times, I tried to sit up and look around.

Through the tears in my eyes and into the dim light, coming toward me was the biggest animal I had ever seen.

It was sort of a brownish gray with big floppy ears and a huge, long nose, an absolutely monstrous, gray, wrinkly body, and legs twice as big around as my Uncle Ham. Just as I started to get a good look at it, it raised up to its nose and made that horn sound I had been hearing.

It walked slowly over to me with its nose pointed at me sniffing me and then touching me. I was scared at first, but its touch was so gentle I stopped being afraid. It pushed at me a little bit like it was trying to help me stand up. I reached up to feel its long nose, and it began to pick me up and cradle me with it. I felt the pressure on my leg get less, and the pain got easier to handle.

I wasn’t sure what was going on or why this animal was doing this. I looked up, and I could tell the big thing was also looking down at me. I began to feel very relaxed and very tired. My eyes had trouble staying open, and I must have fallen asleep for a while.

When I woke up, the animal was still holding me up. I began to call out for my father. “Papa,” I would call out. I was not very loud at first. I did not want to frighten my protector.

“Papa!”

I would repeat a little louder each time.

“Papa!”

“Papa!”

After a while, I stopped because I wasn’t getting any answers. The pain was still pretty strong, and I was getting tired again. I was also very thirsty and starting to get more afraid that no one was answering me.

I was getting scared, and I didn’t know what to do.

I thought about what Grampa might do and, just as clear as day, I could hear his voice talking to me. “Enoch,” he said “you just tell the Lord what you need when you need His help. He will help you. God is faithful, just you wait and see.”

I was not sure about this whole prayer thing at all. But, I was alone (sort of), in a lot of pain and very scared. Trying to pray has always been kind of scary too. What if I said the wrong thing and made God mad at me? What if He didn’t really exist?

Grampa’s voice came back into my head again.

“You just tell the Lord what you need when you need His help. He will help you. God is faithful, just you wait and see.”

I knew then what I needed to do. I took a deep breath and looked up (cause I figure God is up in His heavens) and said “Lord, God, creator of the whole world and everything in it, this is Enoch. I am in trouble down here and sure could use your help. You see, I’m pretty sure I have broken my leg because it hurts really badly and I need someone to find me and help me.”

I remembered that Grampa always thanked the Lord for something whenever he prayed, so I did the same thing.

“By the way Lord, thank you for this big boat Grampa calls an ark. Thank you for saving our lives. Please send someone to find me real soon. Amen.”

I just lay there suspended in air by the creature’s long nose, and I think I fell asleep again for a while.

I was jarred back awake when I began to hear voices.

“Enoch, are you down there?” I heard my Papa’s voice.

I yelled back, “I’m down here, Papa! I broke my leg”.

The large animal didn’t move – he (or she) just stood there holding me up. When my Pop got to the top of the ladder, he stepped back for a second and looked. I think his eyes needed to adjust.

“Enoch is that you?” he asked.

“Yes, Papa, I’m ok. This big animal is very gentle and has been watching over me until you could get here.”

He came slowly down the ladder and walked over to where we were and just looked at the two of us for a minute and then smiled his huge, broad smile.

“It looks like you made a friend here Enoch. This one is called an elephant, and it seems to have taken an interest in you; but, I will take over now.”

Just then Uncle Ham and Grampa got to the top of the ladder and called down to us.

“Is everything all right down there?”

They had never seen a sight like this before and were just as amazed as Pop was at first. Pop took me gently from the elephant and waited a moment while I stroked the animal’s huge nose.

“Thank you, my big friend. I will come back as soon as I can and see you again.”

The elephant touched me again very gently and began to back away from us.

Pop turned and began taking me up the ladder. I turned and waved goodbye as soon as we got to the top. The elephant blew its horn again gently as if to say goodbye, then turned and walked back into the shadows. Pop took me to my room in our cabin.

Gram Naamah and Mama set and bandaged my leg while Grampa, Pop, and my uncles sat in the other room laughing about the elephant that cared for me.

Mama scolded me for exploring where Pop had told me not to go. But, for some reason, she kept hugging me.

After Pop got over being glad to have rescued me, he gave me a stern lecture about my irresponsibility showing up again.

“Enoch, you have been doing so well about being responsible…and now this. How could you just go wandering around down there alone? Especially when I had specifically told you not to do that! There are so many animals aboard the ark that could very easily kill you. What were you thinking?”

I wasn’t even sure what to say. I just stared at the splint on my broken leg and said quietly, “I’m sorry Papa, I was just curious. There are so many animals to see that I have never seen before.”

“Enoch, my son, I remember having a lot of talks with you about getting lost in your daydreams, I thought you were over that. Do not ever go wandering around like that again. Not all of these animals are going to be as gentle with you as that elephant was. You were very lucky.”

I looked at him right in the eyes, “But Papa, doesn’t God watch over us all the time like Grampa says? When I was laying down there with a broken leg not knowing when anyone would come looking for me, I prayed to the Lord just the way Grampa has taught me to do, and He answered my prayer. You came and found me. I know now I should not have been exploring like that, but when I got in trouble, God was faithful just like you and Grampa always say.”

Pop just sat there silently for a second, looked at Mama then got up and walked out.

Mama said, “Don’t worry us like that anymore Enoch. Your father and I were worried sick. I am glad you prayed, and the Lord answered you. But please be more careful in the future.”

# # #

“I don’t remember hearing this part of the story before Grampa,” said Sue.

“Well, I might have made parts of it up to make the story more interesting. Sometimes when you do stuff that you are not proud of, well … it’s good to know that we can grow and learn from our mistakes. Besides, I wanted to talk to you about the fact that sometimes we all make mistakes. We get into a hole and we can’t get ourselves out. That’s why God sent Jesus. Because all of us are deep in hole of sin and we can’t get ourselves out. That’s why God planned Christmas.”

“So, what’s next Grampa?” asked Jon.

“Well, we’ll finish this story tomorrow and then next week, we’re going to see how God planned Christmas through the prophets. I think it will be a fun week.”

Parents Corner

What would happen if people decided not to obey rules like Enoch? What if there were no rules at school or on the playground? It may sound like fun, but the rules are there to keep us safe and happy. Once there was a man named Moses. God gave him many rules and then asked him to teach the people to follow them. God knew the rules would be hard to follow, but He wanted them to try. Some people said no to the rules. They said no to God. God promised there would be another man like Moses who would bring new rules. That man is Jesus. If we need help to follow His rules, Jesus promises to help. Jesus always keeps His promises.

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 Acts 3:22-23

Stories for Advent – Day 6

God’s Plan for Christmas

The Tale of Noah and the Ark – Part 3

Stanley stands next to Grampa in his big chair, “Grampa?”

“Yes, Stanley.”

“You know I really want to thank you for telling this story. I never knew that Noah was part of how God prepared the world for Christmas.”

Grampa chuckles. “It’s my pleasure Stanley. Did you know that you are my favorite grandson?”

“Really? Thanks, Grampa. Hey! Wait, I’m your only grandson.”

Grampa chuckles again. “See what I mean? You’re really smart.”

Grampa wraps Stanley up in his arms and gives him a big hug. “Go get Sue and Jon. It’s time for our story.”

Stanley runs off, “Sue, Jon it’s time for the story.”

When they have all settled in their places, Grampa begins …

# # #

We suddenly pitched to the left. Things were sliding across the floor and falling. Then we pitched back the other way. Something hit me and knocked me down. Pop was right there with his strong arm, and he picked me up. And then…the ark steadied upright again, and we could tell that we were still moving. It was really weird!

After we put a few of the things that had slid around back where they belonged, we raced up the big stairway to the windows on the top deck of the ark. All we could see was water for miles and miles. There were just a few mountaintops off in the distance.

We were alone in the middle of all of this water that wasn’t even there just a few days ago. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream. I didn’t even want to believe it. I thought that I would wake up in just a minute. But…. I didn’t.

The sky was blacker than anything I had ever seen; the wind was blowing so hard it was hard to stand still. It made me feel so cold with the rain coming down harder and harder. I kept thinking about all the people and things that were under that water. I just stood there hanging on the edge of the window looking out.

I couldn’t understand why they all had to…be destroyed. That made me angry, so I went to a small place on the ark that I had discovered to hide when I didn’t want to be found. I wanted to think about things for a while.

I thought about the people and the places that I knew. Grampa was right. There were people that did really mean things. I didn’t understand a lot of what went on, but I thought that those people wanted to live that way. Maybe it was ok if they weren’t hurting anyone but themselves.

But then I got to thinking about something Pop had told me. If I make something and it doesn’t turn out right or work the way I wanted it to, I could tear it apart and start over if I wanted. He told me that was what God was doing. He was going to start over. He was going to keep parts of what He made that He liked and was going to do the rest over again. It was His choice. I repeated that to myself, “It was His choice, and He always chooses to do the right thing.”

I didn’t even hear Grampa come up behind me. The first thing I knew was that his hand was on my shoulder. I turned and looked up at him. He told me to follow him. He led me to where the birds were kept. The light was dim, and it was pretty warm in there. They seemed to be comfortable with that. They were strangely peaceful and quiet. We found a little bench to sit on, and Grampa and I sat there watching the birds for quite a while. We used to do that sometimes at home on his favorite bench, under his favorite tree, watching the sun go down. It was almost like old times. I began to feel a lot better and was able to relax a little. Then he scooted away from me just a bit, bent down, and looked me in the eyes and said, “Enoch, I am sure that all of this is frightening. It would frighten me too, and it might even make me angry…if I did not know the Lord the way that I do. That helps me to trust Him. Enoch, I want you to know the Lord the same way that I do. I want you to trust Him the same way that I do.”

I looked into Grampa’s eyes. They were deep and soft and loving. I knew I could believe him and trust him. Trusting God was a little bit harder for me. Then I remembered what Pop had said. He told me to trust Grampa and to trust in the Lord.

“God is faithful,” he always said, “you just obey and wait and see.”

Grampa had said the same thing many times. Suddenly, I felt like I wanted to trust him, God I mean.

“Grampa,” I said.

“Don’t say anything now,” Grampa said. “Would you pray with me?”

I looked down for a moment, and then back into his big eyes.

“Yes,” I said, “I would like that.”

“Hold my hands,” he said. I put my hands into his. My hands were so small compared to his. They were big and worn from many years of hard work, but at the same time, they were soft and tender.

He began to speak quietly, with confidence and familiarity.

“Lord God, God of the heavens and the earth, God of our fathers Adam and Enoch, Lord God, hear us now as we speak. I am here with my grandson Enoch. He is having a hard time trusting you; he might even be a little bit angry with you. He doesn’t know it is ok, to be honest about all of our feelings. Mostly because he does not know you as I do. I know you are faithful and true. I also know that you love us each more than we could ever realize. Please help my grandson Enoch to know you as I do. Help him seek you and to know you as his great, great, great … great-grandfather Enoch knew you. Help him to trust you and to know you are faithful. Thank you, Lord, for I know you will hear and answer this prayer.”

With that, he squeezed my hands, and I knew it was my turn to talk to the Lord.

I was scared.

It’s not every day you talk to the God that created the universe, but Grampa knew Him so well and trusted Him so much I wanted to try.

I started the same way Grampa did.

“Lord God, God of the heavens and the earth, this is Enoch, and I’ve never spoken to you before because … I … well, I just didn’t know I could. Now I know I can. I have learned that from my Grampa, and I just want you to know I want to trust you in the same way my Grampa does. Please help me because I’m pretty young…and, well, I’m really new at this. Please help me to trust that you’ll take care of all of us in this ark and one day soon we can live on land again.”

Grampa laughed a little, but I kept going.

“Thank you, Lord, for loving us. Thank you for loving my family and me. Help us to take good care of all the animals. Especially help me to take care of all of the birds. There are more birds here than I’ve ever seen in my whole life.”

“Anyway, thank you, Lord. Please forgive me for being angry with you. Please help me to do my part of trusting you to take care of everything else on the outside of the ark. I know it’s my job to just trust and obey you.”

Then Grampa put his big arms around me and gave me a really good hug. He looked me right in the eyes and said, “God is faithful, just you wait and see.”

I gave him a big smile and said, “Ok, Grampa, I’ll do my best. The Lord has to help me, but I will try very hard and trust Him.”

“God is faithful,” he said, “just you wait and see.”

Then he walked away. I sat there with the birds for a long time thinking about all that had happened. I felt more peaceful than before. I, somehow, just knew that things would be all right. But, our voyage had just begun.

# # #

“Wait a minute! Who’s hurt?” said Sue looking at Stanley.

“Yeah, don’t stop now,” chimed in Jon.

Stanley smiled. “Sorry guys, Grampa and I worked all this out, and that’s it for today.”

“Don’t worry, he’ll finish it up tomorrow guys. In the meantime, why don’t you all read the story of Noah in the Bible again? It’s in Genesis chapters six through nine. Think about what it means to you and to the rest of the world. How does it relate to Christmas?”

Parents Corner

What would happen if the kids took time like Grandpa to meditate on stories from the bible? Do you think it would change the choices they make? Grandpa understands that what you know and hear stay in your head and the things you believe go into your heart. What you believe affects what you say and do. Grandpa wants God’s words in his heart; he wants to say and do things that make God happy. One of the stories Grandpa was putting into his heart was about a man named Jacob. Jacob was running away from his brother because he was afraid. Jacob was so tired from his journey that went to sleep with his head on a rock. God spoke words to Jacob while he was sleeping. When Jacob woke up, he thought about Gods words. Jacob put those words into his heart, and it changed his choices. Jacob decided to name the rock Bethel (that means House of God). Jesus was born in Bethlehem on Christmas morning. Bethlehem is another word for Bethel. Jesus believed everything God the Father spoke. When we ask Jesus into our heart, we believe he is God’s son. Jesus helps us say and do things that make God happy.

Gen 28:19 Num 24:17

 

Stories for Advent – Day 5

God’s Plan for Christmas

The Tale of Noah and the Ark – Part 2

Sue poked her head into the front room, “Stanley, do you know where Grampa is? He has to tell more about Enoch and Noah tonight.”

“He said he had to get some stuff to help him tell the story. He said he’d be right back.”

“Ok, Jon and I are almost finished making the hot chocolate. We got a huge package of those little marshmallows at the store today. You can’t squirt those into your mouth. They should be safer.”

“Ha! I’m not so sure about that. He’ll figure out some other use for them.” Jon said as he carried the tray of hot chocolate filled mugs into the living room.

Suddenly there was a loud thump, thump, thump, thump that came from the back door! Grampa burst into the living room with two buckets half full of water, a shovel and a pair of heavy gloves and then plopped down next to Grampa Johnny and said loudly, “Ok, I’m ready. Can I start now?”

Stanley looked at Grampa Johnny burst out laughing, “What are you doing with all of those things? We’re not going to the beach, are we?”

Stanley looked up and smiled, “No, we’re not, but I just wanted to remember the story about the fire more clearly. So I brought some the same stuff they probably used then to put the fire out. You see it picks up right about where it was out …”

# # #

It was a long time before the fire was out. We all gathered around the ark to see if there was much damage, and fortunately, there wasn’t much. It was mostly the scaffolding and supplies that were destroyed. The side of the ark looked worse than it actually was.

We gathered around and prayed for a while, but I couldn’t help wondering why the Lord would allow this kind of thing to happen if this was really His project.

Now I knew that the people around us not only thought we were crazy, but they were also frightened enough of us to try to keep us from building the ark. But we just kept on building anyway. “God is faithful,” Grampa said, “just you wait and see.”

Grampa has always been like a special friend to me. We’ve done a lot of stuff together, and he also likes to tell me about the Lord.

He and the Lord seem to be pretty good friends. Grampa says that he talks to God a lot. He says that God talks to him too. He said the Lord told him that the whole world was going to be destroyed because it was so bad.

He doesn’t tell me a lot about all of that badness. He says I’m better off not knowing about it. He says we can talk more about it when I get older.

Some of the boys I know have told me some stuff though, and it is pretty disgusting. Yuck! I don’t even like thinking about it!

Then came the day Grampa told us that the Lord had told him we would be loading up the ark soon for our trip in it. Wow! He and Pop and my uncles have been working on this thing for over a hundred years, and it’s really weird to think about it being finished.

When Grampa was talking to everyone about it yesterday, he told me my job would still be taking care of the chickens and “a few more birds.” That’s when he told me about all the different kinds of animals that were going to be coming with us.

I almost laughed because there weren’t any of those animals up here in the high desert. He told me not to worry about that. The other animals would come, and it was my job … our job to take care of them. “God is faithful,” he said, “just you wait and see.”

Evidently, the animals won’t tell God no, either.

Then I got to thinking about all the extra birds and remembered the big area toward the top of the ark. It was like several really big rooms without walls. We had hauled in and mounted a bunch of different sized dead trees, so they would have someplace to roost if they wanted to. Then I remembered the stuff called fishnet Pop had hauled up there. He said it would come in handy for keeping the birds where they belong. That was a little confusing to me because the net stretched from the floor to the ceiling and everyone knew chickens can’t fly. But, I had lots of other things to do, so I had no time to think about that.

The next day, right about the time the sun came up, Grampa came and woke me himself.

He said, “Today is the day, Enoch.”

“Today is the day for what?” I said.

“Today is the day the animals will begin to arrive. We need to be ready.”

“How do you know that, Grampa?”

“The Lord told me, and He is faithful, just you wait and see.”

Grampa was right. Even before breakfast, the animals began to arrive. They came in pairs. Grampa had me counting them to keep track. There were lions, pheasants, elephants, tigers, cows, horses, sheep, oxen, cats, dogs, monkeys, bears, and even snakes and all sorts of animals I had never seen before. They showed up…all by themselves. Pop and my uncles pointed them into one of the many, many pens or stalls that had been built. There was no fighting. It was amazing!

As for me, I couldn’t believe the numbers and types of birds that began to show up. Pop had gotten the netting up only a day or two before, and all of the birds either flew in or walked right into the big room we had prepared for them. I couldn’t believe it. This went on for seven days. Grampa was right. The Lord was being faithful. He was bringing all of the animals to us!

While all of that was going on, Grammie Naamah, my mom, my two aunts, and all of my sisters and cousins were helping get our stuff onto the ark. I had to tell them what I wanted to bring and what could be left behind. This was starting to get a little scary. It was really happening! For a while, it was sort of like…a dream! But, now…it was way too real. How was this ark going to float with all of these animals and us inside? How were we going to take care of all of these animals?

Grampa must have noticed the way I was feeling. He came over and pulled me aside. He squatted down next to me and looked me right in the eyes.

He told me there was nothing to be afraid of. The Lord had promised to take care of us, and He always kept His promises. “God is faithful,” he said, “just you wait and see.” And then, he gave me a real big hug. I felt better.

Then I saw Pop watching us. He smiled, came over, and hugged me too. He told me to trust Grampa and to trust in the Lord. “God is faithful,” he said, “just you wait and see.”

Pop then told me I had been doing a much better job of being dependable. He was going to count on me to take care of all the birds, not just the chickens. He was sure I could do it. He put his hand on my shoulder and smiled at me. I was so happy, I felt like my heart was going to bust out of my chest.

There were a lot of animals on board. So I got really busy taking care of all the birds. I needed to care for them the same way I took care of the chickens at home. It was the same job, only it was a lot bigger than before. I went up to where they were kept to sort of look around, and I couldn’t believe all the different types of birds. I still had no names for them, but boy were some of them beautiful. They were different shades of every color in all sorts of combinations and, boy, were they noisy! Each one seemed to be talking or singing or chattering in some way. It was noisy but beautiful.

We had covered the floor with sawdust and wood chips left over from the construction of the ark. That helped a lot with the mess the animals left on the floor. We also had a lot of hay to use both for food and to cover the floor. That way the animals could lie down and sleep at night.

Then, after the seventh day, the animals stopped coming. It was weird after they had been coming for so many days.

Then it got really cloudy outside. These clouds were darker than I had ever seen before, and soon it was almost like nighttime. The wind blew harder and harder, and then…water started falling from the sky. I’d never seen water fall from the sky before. Then it came down harder and harder. It came down so hard we could barely see a stone’s throw away.

I ran to Grampa and asked what was happening. He told me the Lord had told him about the water from the sky. Grampa called it rain. He said it would continue for forty days and forty nights. All the water would destroy the whole world that we had known. He called it a flood.

Then something really weird happened. I looked out the door. I could see that the water was everywhere. It was beginning to cover our farm. People from the city and surrounding farms started arriving, and I could see that they wanted to come with us. Grampa, Pop, and my uncles came to the area near the door, and Grampa began to pray. He said, “Oh Lord of heaven and earth. You have blessed us all beyond measure, but we have rebelled against you. And because of this rebellion, you have chosen to destroy the earth by a flood. But you have also chosen your servant Noah and his family to care for the animals that you have sent to us. You have instructed me to build this ark. My family and I have done so. The animals that you have chosen have arrived. They are safe inside this ark, which we built according to your command. The rains have begun. The flooding has begun and we, your servant Noah and his family, are safe inside. The rest is up to you Lord. We place ourselves in your hands Almighty God. Do with us as you will.”

Just as Grampa finished that prayer, there was a loud creaking sound and movement by the door. It was the DOOR! It was closing all by itself! The people that had gathered on the outside began yelling and rushing toward the door, but…they were too late.

The door closed with a groan, a scraping, and finally a loud thud that echoed throughout the ark.

They were on the outside, and we were on the inside, and suddenly it got real quiet.

No one spoke.

The animals were silent.

Then the whole ark moved!

# # #

“I wish we had more time for these stories.” Jon moaned, “It always seems like we are just getting started and then bang, it’s over for the day.”

“Jon,” Grampa said. “The good things are worth waiting for.”

“And it is good, so far … I’ll be here for more tomorrow.”

Parents Corner

What would happen if we were afraid to do the right thing like Noah? Sometimes the right thing can be scary and hard. Obeying God is always the right thing. God promises to give us courage and strength to obey, and when we do, He blesses us. There were others in the Bible that also made difficult choices to obey. One was a man named Abram that had to do a scary and hard thing, God asked him to move to a new place and leave his home, friends, and family. Abram said yes to God, but once in the journey, he became so afraid that he made his own plans. God gave him strength and courage to do the right thing, and Abram obeyed. God blessed Abram and his wife with a baby boy. Just like Abram Jesus had to do a very hard thing. He had to leave his home in heaven and go to earth. Jesus knew it was the right thing to do. He loved us so much that he came to earth as a baby on Christmas morning, and just like Abram, God the Father blessed his son Jesus for his obedience.

Genesis: 12 Gen 17:19

 

Stories for Advent – Day 4

God’s Plan for Christmas

The Tale of Noah and the Ark – Part 1

“Come on you guys! I want to hear tonight’s story. Grampa Johnny said it’s something about a boat.” Jon yelled from the front room.

“We’ll be there in a minute Jon!” Sue yelled back, “Be patient. I’m helping Grampa Johnny with his hot chocolate. I’m still looking for the whipped cream.”

“Uh, you won’t find it, Sue,” Stanley’s voice came from the stairwell as he jumped down the last few steps.

“Why not? Did someone use it all up?”

There was a pause big enough to drive a truck through.

Sue walked out of the kitchen into the hallway where Stanley stood looking sheepishly. “Were you squirting it into your mouth again Stanley?”

“Um, well … sort of.”

Sue put her hands on her hips and stared at her brother “Stanley! Now Grampa Johnny doesn’t have any for his hot chocolate.”

“Ah, it’s Ok, Sue.” Grampa Johnny went and stood with his hand on Stanley’s shoulder. “He didn’t do it all by himself. I helped, and, in our defense, I thought that there was another can. I didn’t realize that we used it all up. It’s my fault. Let’s go into the front room and get to tonight’s story. Tonight we’re going to hear about how God continued His preparation for sending Jesus into the world—for Christmas.”

After they settled down in the front room, Grampa Johnny started with his story.

# # #

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Enoch …

“I wonder exactly what Grampa means when he says his God is always there and always faithful,” I thought as I lay in the hayloft of the barn practicing a new song on my flute.

“Enoch, where are you?” The angry voice startled me.

“Uh oh, what did I do now?” I stuffed my flute into a pocket, climbed down the ladder and ran toward the door of the barn.

“I’m coming, Pop!”

I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Where is Grampa’s God when I’m in trouble?”

When I got to the barn door, I saw Pop standing in the goat pen comforting a distressed goat. Then I knew what was wrong. I had forgotten to milk the nanny goats, but they didn’t forget and were making their displeasure known, loudly.

I ran toward the goat pen. “I’m sorry, Pop, I was in the barn and forgot to do the milking.” I gathered the stool, the bucket, and started milking.

“What were you doing in the barn that caused you to forget the goats…again?” he said. “Were you busy doing some work or just daydreaming?”

I kept milking the nanny goat and didn’t answer right away. Finally, I said, “I’m sorry Pop. I was thinking about something and just forgot. It won’t happen again. I promise.”

He leaned down toward me and spoke quietly into my ear, “That’s what you said last time and the time before that.” He straightened up and spoke a little louder, “When are you going to stop forgetting and be a responsible boy?” Then he walked around to the other side of the goat, hooked a finger under my chin, lifted my face and looked me right in the eyes. “Enoch… son, you are 10 years old, and I need to be able to count on you. Please do the chores I ask you to do.”

His words burned like fire in my heart, but I didn’t want Pop to know. So I looked down again and just kept on milking.

Pop straightened up and said, “I am going over to work on the project with your Grandfather today. Don’t forget any more of your chores. I’ll check on you at lunchtime. I’m counting on you son, don’t let me down.” He turned and walked away toward the west meadow where they were building the “project.”

My hands kept milking the goat, but my eyes followed him as he walked away. I felt my throat tighten up, my eyes began to water, and my eyesight to blur.

I thought to myself, “I hate disappointing him.”

I wanted to run after him and beg his forgiveness. But I knew that the best way to get it was to earn it by doing all of my chores and doing them well. I sniffled and wiped my eyes. I continued to watch Pop walk toward the project while my hands began to milk as fast as they could.

“How could I trust a God that isn’t there to help me when I need it?”

As soon as I was done with all my chores, I decided to go over to the west meadow and watch Pop, my uncles, and Grampa work on the project. I ran toward a little hill that overlooked the whole meadow, and I lay down in the grass at the top of the hill facing the meadow so I could see it. It was huge.

It had been there for as long as I could remember. It was the biggest thing I had ever seen. It filled up the whole sky to the west, and when the sun was setting, there was this huge, black outline I could see even from my bedroom window.

Pop told me God had appeared to Grampa and told him to build it. Grampa calls it an “ark.” He said it was a boat and would float on water. I’d never heard of a boat before.

At that moment, I wasn’t too sure about my Grampa’s thinking.

You see, all of my friends (and everyone else in town) said Grampa was crazy. They said that he was especially crazy to build the boat. There wasn’t any water to float it on here in the desert.

Grampa had spent his whole life here in the high desert, far away from any sort of town. Maybe he was a little out of touch with… things.

All I know for sure is that Pop, Grampa, and my two uncles all spend part of everyday working on it. It’s like our family thing, this boat or ark.

Every day I had to feed chickens and goats and milk the goats. I had to collect all the eggs. Sometimes I would talk to the animals when I was feeling lonely or when I thought that this whole ark thing was just plain crazy.

Grampa heard me talking to them one morning when I was not feeling very good about our family “project.” After I was done with my chores, he took me for a walk to his favorite tree. We sat down and talked for a long time. He told me about how the Lord had really talked to him and that, at first, even Grammie thought he was crazy too.

The people that lived in the city in the valley thought his warnings about God destroying the earth were the ravings of a crazy old man. One day I was in town with Pop getting some supplies, and I heard Grampa’s voice from down the street.

I walked down the street to see what was going on. Grampa was standing up in the back of his wagon speaking loudly. “Turn from your wicked ways, my friends, before it is too late!”

The crowd laughed, and one man shouted back to him, “Oh yeah, what’s going to happen to us. Is your God going to wag his finger at us?” Then the whole crowd laughed some more.

Grampa kept talking, “The Lord God has told me that if you all do not repent of your sins and change your ways, He is going to destroy you all!”

That same man shouted back at him, “I don’t like your tone, old man. You better stop your preaching or something bad will happen to you.”

Grampa looked straight at him and said, “I can’t stop preaching. God has appointed me to warn you.”

The man stooped down and picked up a rock, “Well, I’m appointing myself to warn you, old man. Knock off your preaching!” And he threw the rock at Grampa hitting him on the arm. Then the others started picking up things to throw at him too.

Grampa grabbed the reins of the animals pulling his wagon and had to drive away as fast as he could. People still ran after him and threw things at him. One of them hit him in the back of his head.

Grampa told me later that part of believing in the Lord was obeying what He asked you to do even when it was hard or crazy or maybe even dangerous.

One time when it was late at night, we were all asleep, and Grammie Naamah came to our house and pounded on our door yelling, “Fire! Fire! The ark is on fire!” We all jumped up out of our beds and ran toward the west meadow. We could see the glow in the sky and the flames as soon as we passed our gate. When we got there, we could see all of the lumber and supplies were on fire, and some flames were moving up the side of the ark.

Pop sent me down to the creek that ran through the meadow and told me to stay there, fill buckets with water, and keep filling them until the fire was out.

My cousins grabbed the empty buckets and brought them back to me to re-fill.

I filled them over and over and over again. I began to get so hot and tired I thought I was going to die. I wanted to quit so bad. But I knew I had to keep going. I couldn’t disappoint Pop or Grampa again.

We kept it up for what seemed like hours and hours. I must have filled more than a thousand buckets.

Each time I thought the fire was finally out, it would shoot up again somewhere else. I could see my Pop up at the top of the ark, pouring bucket after bucket of water down the side.

I knew I had to keep filling those buckets. Everyone depended on me to keep them filled.

# # #

“What? What happened with the fire? What kind of ending is that?” Jon moaned.

“Don’t worry, that’s not the end. I’m gonna tell more tomorrow.” Grampa said.

“Oh, Ok … but it better be good.”

Parents Corner

What would happen if we pretended to say yes to God then made our own plans? Obeying our parents and guardians is part of Gods plan to keep us safe. He wants us to say yes to His plans without pretending. Sometimes people think they are safe making their own plans or that they can fool God. Noah was someone that did not try to fool God or make his own plans. God told him how to make a giant ark that would keep him and his family safe from a terrible flood. Noah followed the plans carefully. All of his neighbors thought he was silly and laughed at him, but when it started to rain, they did not think he was silly anymore. God made another plan that was even bigger and better than the ark. That plan was to send Jesus as a gift to us on Christmas morning. Jesus will keep our hearts safe like the ark kept Noah safe. God wants us to say yes to Jesus without pretending.

Genesis 6, Titus 1:2

 

Stories for Advent – Day 3

Grampa Johnny and Stanley were already in their places when Sue and Jon came in after clearing away the dinner dishes and sat down.

“Ok Grampa, what story do you have for us tonight?” asked Sue.

Grampa smiled and pointed at Stanley, “I’ve been talking to your brother here, and he has come up with a story that tells what I wanted to say better than I could. He calls it the Tale of the Missing Cookies. I’m going to let him tell it.”

Stanley clears his throat and begins.

# # #

I was thinking pretty hard about why God had to send Jesus to us. I figured it was a lot like one time when Mom a bunch of fresh cookies for the Ladies Missionary Society luncheon at church and I wanted a snack.

You see Mom had told me that I could have an apple, or a banana, or some carrot sticks but I was not to touch the cookies. Well, all I could think about were the cookies because the kitchen still smelled like the cookies and they were all spread out on the cooling racks smelling all warm and delicious.

Well, I decided I was going to be good and got an apple and ran upstairs to play with my toys. I ate the apple and played but then I was still hungry, and my nose could still smell the cookies. It’s weird. It’s like they were calling me.

So, I decided to go outside and play on the trampoline, but I had to go through the kitchen to get to the backyard, and the smell of the cookies got to me. Then I had this thought, there might be some broken ones, and maybe Mom wouldn’t mind if I ate one of those.

I looked at all of them and found one that was slightly cracked. I started to reach for it, and I almost touched it, but I just couldn’t do it, so I ran outside to play.

After about an hour of bouncing on the trampoline I was really hungry and thirsty, and all I could think about was cold milk and cookies. It’s like I had cookies on the brain. I couldn’t think about anything else. So, I decided Mom wouldn’t miss that one cracked one. I went back into the house, poured myself a glass of milk, and went to find that cracked cookie. This time instead of finding just one, I found five. So, I had to decide which one was cracked the most. I picked up two of them and they sort of crumbled in my hands while I was looking at them.

Just then Mom came into the kitchen and caught me. She said, “Stanley, didn’t I tell you not to eat any of those cookies because they were for the ladies at church?”

Well, I jumped and dropped both of the cookies on the floor. I looked at Mom, and she said, “I was going to let you have a couple, but I guess that you aren’t going to get any now. Please clean up your mess and go to your room.”

So, what I am trying to say is that my disobedience messed up the fact that I could have gotten those cookies if I had just waited. But because of what I decided to do, I didn’t get any. It’s sort of like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. If they had just obeyed God, they would have gotten all of the best stuff from him. Instead, they got kicked out of the garden, and the whole world had been messed up ever since.

# # #

Sue leaned over, smiled, and patted her brother on the back, “You know, Stanley that was a great story. I think I remember when that happened. You moped around for the rest of the day.”

Stanley looked at Susie and smiled. “Thanks!”

Sue said, “Sure, anytime little brother. Besides, if I remember right, Mom let you put chocolate in your milk while the rest of us had cookies for dessert. It wasn’t all bad after that.”

Parents Corner

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Rom 5:12)

What would happen if we were like Stanley and decided to do things our own way each time we were tempted? Adam and Eve were tempted and just like Stanley they decided to disobey God and do things their own way. Adam and Eve’s choice had very bad consequences that hurt God and them deeply. That choice still hurts us today. God knew that Adam and Eve’s choice to do things their own way would hurt the world, so before He made it, He planned Christmas morning.

 

 

Stories for Advent – Day 2

God’s Plan for Christmas – The Plan

Grampa Johnny leaned forward, put his elbows on the arms of the big easy chair and blew into his hot chocolate.

“The story starts like this. A long, long time ago, far, far away, back before there was even any time at all God held a little meeting with Himself in Heaven…”

“Grampa, what do you mean God held a meeting?” interrupted Stanley.

Grampa Johnny reached over and touched Stanley on his head, “Pretend with me for a few minutes that we are in heaven with God before He created even one speck of dirt. Let’s pretend that the archangels Michael and Gabriel are on guard duty on Cloud 1.”

# # #

“Gabe, do you know what’s going on over there?”

“Yeah, but I’m not sure I understand it, Mike.”

“It must be pretty important; there’s a lot of thunder and lightning going on.”

“I agree, Mike, I did hear something about something about creating light and making something called a man out of something called dirt and that he would have to be rescued from something else called sin.”

“Why do they have to create light, Gabe? They light up everything just by being.”

“I don’t know. I also have no idea what a ‘man’ is or what ‘dirt’ is.”

“And I don’t understand what sin is and why this ‘man’ will need to be rescued from it.”

“Let’s move a little closer, Mike. I am really curious about what’s going on.”

“Ok, wait, I just heard Jesus say that He would be obedient to the Father and become the rescuer.”

“I heard that too! He said that He knew that He would have to suffer and die in this rescue. I wonder what those things are. Oh, I wish I understood more of what they were saying!”

“Wait! The Father just said that for Jesus to do all of that He would have to become one of the ‘men.’ I wonder how He’s going to do that, Gabe.”

“I don’t have any idea what any of this stuff is. All I understand is that this ‘man’ thing is going to be an awful lot of trouble. I sure hope it’s worth all the trouble, Mike.”

“Well, you missed the part where they said that all of this was going to happen because they had so much love that they wanted to share it.”

“Oh wow! No wonder they are doing all this stuff. The Lord has so much love that nothing can contain it. It’s bigger than anything. This plan is going to be so big that I almost wish I was going to be one of the ‘men’!”

A thundering sound like a voice echoed, “Let there be light!”

“Whoa! Gabe! Did you hear that?”

“Whoa! Did you see that? Everything down below just lit up like a … like a … well, I don’t know what it was like, but it’s bigger than anything I’ve ever seen!” exclaimed Gabriel.

Grampa Johnny leaned back into his chair and took a big drink of his hot chocolate.

Stanley jumped up from his spot on the floor and said, “Wait! Grampa! You can’t stop there; we want to know what comes next.”

Sue spoke up and put her hand on Stanley’s shoulder. “Don’t worry Stanley; he’ll tell us more tomorrow right Grampa.”

“That’s right Sue. I would like to see the three of you every night from now until Christmas. I think we’ll have a great time, don’t you?”

# # #

 Parents Corner

 “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ…” (Eph 1:4)

You see, the Father had His plan for loving us and saving all mapped out from even before the beginning. We can only marvel at His infinite love and care for us as we discover how He planned it all out to the smallest detail.

Stories for Advent –

Day 1 Part 2

Main Story

Ollie & Gus are two angels that God chose to witness a number of events as part of Ollie’s training to become one of His Special Messenger Angels. Gus is his training angel. It happened something like this …

Gus, seated at his desk in the training department, looked at the clock on the wall for the umpteenth time in the last hour. He was a short roundish, older looking angel that sort of looked like a monk with immaculately white robes. His hair was neatly groomed and included a perfectly round bald spot at the top center of the back of his of his head. Oh, and he had perfectly white wings coming out of his back that were precisely folded and tucked neatly behind him.

“That Ollie is late again. I wonder what is keeping him this time,” Gus said impatiently.

 Just when he thought he had it under control, a loud crash came from the hallway outside the office. That was followed by some tinkling that sounded oddly like the bells that ring when angels get their wings and then there was a pause and a much louder thump that seemed to come from right outside his office door.

Gus jumped up, ran to the door and opened it just in time to get knocked three times on his forehead by some rapidly moving knuckles.

“Ow! Why are you hitting me?” Gus said, stepping back and wincing in pain.

“Oh, I am so sorry! I was rushing really fast to get here because I was late on account of the fact that I got lost trying to find this place.”

“Got lost? You were just here yesterday for your first mission to witness the beginning of creation.”

“I know, sir, I’m sorry sir, it’s just that I was so blown away by what I saw yesterday that I kinda forgot the way.”

“Forgot the way? Are you kidding? Ohhh—never mind. Come on in and sit down. We have a lot to go over today.”

Ollie followed Gus to his desk and took his seat in front of it while Gus sat in his overstuffed office chair.

Gus cleared his throat, “Ollie, today we are going talk about the whole reason God created the universe, the earth, and more specifically why he decided to send Jesus into that world and become its savior.”

Ollie bounced up and down on his seat and grinned so widely that it kind of looked like his face was split in half by his smile. “I am so excited about this lesson. Can we start right now?”

Gus smiled and said, “Here we go …”

Ollie’s vision went completely blank, and he felt as though he had been sucked into a large, completely dark, unending vortex. And then, just as suddenly, he found himself standing beside Gus.

“Whoa! I don’t think I’m used to that jump process yet.”

Gus chuckled and said, “Don’t worry you will.”

Ollie turned all the way around several times and said, “I, I don’t see anything. Are we doing creation again?”

“Nope, this is before creation. I brought you here so that you could feel something. What do you feel?”

“Omigosh, you are so right. I feel—I feel overwhelming, incredible love. Oh, wow! Oh, wow!!

“Don’t start repeating yourself again. I just want you to understand why God created everything and why he would eventually send Jesus into the world he created. It is because of love. No other reason than that. There was just so much love in the Godhead, they created the world even though they knew there would be problems. They knew that Jesus was the only one who could fix the problem. That why he went down into the world to become a baby—”

“Gus, are you sure that all of Jesus went into that baby?”

“Yes, Ollie, why?”

“I’m not sure all of him could fit into one little baby.”

Gus chuckles, “That’s part of the miracle Ollie. That’s part of the miracle.”

Epilogue

Grampa Johnny leaned back and said, “Well, what do you think about that?”

Stanley crawled up on his lap and said, that was a fun story Grampa, I like the way that Ollie got to feel all that love. It’s … it’s sort of like sitting on your lap and watching the snow outside. It’s all warm and comfy and pretty to look at all at the same time.”

Grampa Johnny just chuckled at that and said, “You know, Stanley. That’s just the way I feel about it too.”

Parents Corner

“Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” (Deu 11:19)

The stories in the Bible and about God tell the story of God’s unfailing love for us, His created children. We need to read them, learn from them and teach them to our children.

 

Stories for Advent …

I am going to be posting some stories both old and new that I worked to put together for children’s Advent calendar of stories along with some other writers. The project never got fully completed or published, so I have decided to give myself some deadlines and put them on here. There may be two or more posts in a day as I collect them or write them and put them on here. I hope you enjoy them.

God’s Plan for Christmas

Prologue

Grampa Johnny pushed away from the table laden with the remains of Thanksgiving.

“Whoa,” he said with a moan. “If I eat another bite, I’ll explode for sure!”

His grandson Stanley looked up at him from the floor where he was playing with his toy cars, “You look like you already did, Grampa.”

“Stanley!” his mother cried. “That was a very rude thing to say. Apologize to your grandfather right now.”

“Ha ha! Don’t worry about it, Leah. Little boys just speak truthfully about what they see. I have put on a few pounds over the years. Maybe I do look like I exploded. How about I if get the kids out of your hair for a while? We could go for a walk down to the park. Would that be all right?”

Leah looked at her father-in-law, blew a lock of hair out of her eyes and said, “That would be wonderful. Why don’t you take them? Stanley loves the big toys over there, and it would give me some peace and quiet while Mrs, Peterson and I clean up.”

“Consider it done, my favorite daughter-in-law.”

Leah continued to pick up dinner dishes from the table. “I’m your only daughter-in-law.”

“Yup, that’s why you’re my favorite,” Johnny said with a chuckle and a grin.

“Grampa, we can’t go to the park now,” yelled Stanley from the front room.

“Why not?”

“It’s snowing!”

“Are you kidding me?”

“No, Grampa. Come see!”

Stanley ran over to his Grampa, grabbed his hand and practically dragged him toward the front room window. Snow was falling lightly but steadily and sticking to the grass in the yard, parked cars, the sidewalk, and the street.

Just then Jon Peterson, whose family was joining the Johnsons for Thanksgiving, and Sue, Stanley’s older sister, joined them at the window.

“Wow!” said Sue. “It’s just like a postcard out there!”

Jon spoke up, “Yeah, but I wanted to play some ball at the park. Hey! Maybe we can build a snowman if it snows enough. Do you guys like that idea?”

Grampa Johnny put his arms around the older two and said, “How about if we have some hot chocolate, watch the snow, and maybe I could tell you all a story.”

Stanley started jumping up and shouted, “Yes! Grampa tells great stories, Jon! That’s a great idea.”

“What do the rest of you think?” said Grampa.

Jon looked at Sue who was nodding emphatically, looked back at Grampa and said, “Sure.”

A little bit later they were all sitting on comfortable chairs in the living room with their hot chocolate.

Grampa Johnny leaned forward and blew into his drink, “I know it’s a little early for the Christmas story but have any of you ever heard the story of how God planned Christmas?”

The children all looked at Grampa curiously.

Sue spoke up and asked, “Grampa where does this story come from?”

“Well, you tell me … it starts like this.

“A long, long time ago, far, far away, back before there was even any time at all God held a little meeting with Himself in Heaven … or maybe it was a couple of angels. One of them was training the other …”