Elwood’s Hazardous, Dangerous, Exciting Trip to the Library

Since most of us are still stuck at home, I thought I would share a fictitious trip to the library just for a bit of fun.

Elwood’s Hazardous, Dangerous, Exciting Trip to the Library

By: Steve Mathisen

 

“Elwood!”

The tall boy rolled over and tried to use his pillow to block the sound of his name being called.

“Elwood Phineas Dunkle! Get yourself out of bed and down here for breakfast this very minute,” his mother shouted

He knew the tone and that she would no longer tolerate being ignored.

He groaned, rolled over, slid out of bed, pulled on jeans and T-shirt, and headed for the kitchen with a slight detour to the bathroom to wash up.

When he got to the table, there was a book instead of his cereal bowl. Elwood looked at his mom.

“That book is due today. You need to make a trip to the library.”

“But Mom, I was going to−”

She set his bowl in place.

“You can do that after your trip to the library.”

“Okay, Mom.”

After breakfast, Elwood put the book in his backpack and rode his bike toward the library.

He was taking a shortcut through the park when his shoelace came untied and got tangled up in the chain of his bicycle. He glanced down at his foot and hit a hidden tree root. The bike stopped suddenly. Elwood did a complete flip over the handlebars and landed staring up at the sky through the branches of a huge oak tree.

“Well, that was a dumb move,” Elwood said to himself. As he began tying his loose shoelace, he looked around for his bike only to see its rear wheel disappear around the trunk of the tree.

Forgetting his laces, he jumped up and yelled, “Hey, that’s my bike!” and then ran to where he had last seen his bike and … nothing. There was no bike to be seen anywhere. He ran back around the other way and again … nothing.

“What is going on here?” He said.

Clunk!

“What was that?” Elwood ran around the tree again looking for the source of the sound and once again . . . nothing.

Clang!

He looked up and saw his bike, hanging twenty feet up, bouncing against the tree and going higher, with a rope around the handlebars!

Elwood quickly found the lowest branch and scrambled up the tree after his bike. He just barely got his hand on the rear wheel of the bike before it disappeared into the darkness of the upper branches of the tree. He climbed higher. He wanted to know what was going on.

He felt cold…and blind. It was so dark toward the top of the tree that he couldn’t see anything but, he heard voices.

His eyes adjusted to the dark, he could see three guys on a platform that was built right into the top of the tree. They had at least a half-dozen bikes. The guys were taking them apart, putting the little parts in boxes and hanging the bigger parts on racks hung on branches.

“Bike thieves,” he whispered, “right here in the middle of the park, hidden up in a tree!”

No one seemed to notice him, so he climbed back down to a lower branch and started thinking about what he had to do to get his bike back.

His brain was working rapid-fire coming up with ideas and tossing them out as impractical. Finally, he thought of three possible ideas.

First, he could climb back up and steal his bike back. That wouldn’t work, though, because the guys up in the tree were all bigger than he was.

Second, he could round up all his friends but, even with all of his friends, they probably couldn’t overpower those guys and force them to give him his bike back.

“I’ll go to Uncle Jim; he’s a police officer.”

“But wait, he’s going to want proof!”

He reached into his pocket for his “Emergency Only” phone.

“It has a camera, and this is an emergency.”

He climbed back up very slowly, took out his phone and took several shots of the treehouse workshop and the thieves. One of the thieves must have heard the little shutter sound the camera made because one of them turned and started toward him.

Elwood flew down so fast he almost fell, then he ran toward the police station as fast as he could. But, he tripped on his still untied shoelace and did the most splendid face plant ever seen in all of history and nearly knocked himself silly.

“Okay, another dumb move!” His head was spinning around, and he saw all sorts of blinking lights.

“I really need to tie that shoe.”

“There he is!” came a voice from the bike thieves tree.

Elwood looked and saw two huge boys running toward him, and they did not look like they wanted to help him.

Without getting his shoe tied, he jumped up and headed for the police station again. When he got to the street, the light at the crosswalk was red, and a lot of traffic was whizzing by.

“There he is, just waiting for us!”

Elwood turned and saw the two boys running hard after him.

“Uh oh! I better get going somewhere!”

Elwood ran to the left. The police station was down that direction anyway, and he could cross the street when it was clear.

After running two blocks without tripping, he saw the police station across the street. He looked both ways, saw that the traffic was clear enough for him to cross the street.

He crossed without tripping and was almost in front of the police station when the two bigger boys caught up to him. Each grabbed an arm and jerked him to a stop.

The one on his right said, “No, you don’t, twerp! You’re not gonna squeal on us!”

The one on his left pulled him around, so he was facing away from the station, put his face right in front of Elwood’s. “Yeah, because if you do, we’ll pound you to a bloody pulp.”

Just then, a voice came from behind him. “Is there some sort of trouble here, boys?”

It was Uncle Jim’s voice!

The first boy stiffened. “Oh no…officer…sir, we were just…”

Elwood wrenched himself out of the boy’s grasp and turned around, “Oh yes, there is Uncle Jim!”

The two boys took off, running back across the street towards the park.

Uncle Jim put his hand on his shoulder. “What’s going on here, Elwood?”

Elwood then explained the whole story and showed him the pictures from his phone. Uncle Jim took him inside the station, sat him down in the waiting area, talked to the sergeant, and showed him the pictures on Elwood’s phone. The sergeant nodded, picked up the phone, and spoke briefly. Then two officers walked in, talked to the Uncle Jim for a minute, and then headed back down a long hallway.

Uncle Jim sat next to him, “We have been trying to catch this ring of bike thieves for over a month. You’ve given us just the break we needed. Come show me where this tree is.”

They stood up and started to walk toward the door but, Elwood tripped on his shoelace again.

“Can I please tie my shoelace first?”

Uncle Jim chuckled, “You bet!”

“Oh, and one more thing,” Elwood reached into his backpack and pulled out a book. “Can we stop by the library? My mom will kill me if I don’t get this book returned today.”

Eleanor’s Deep Dive

I entered a flash fiction contest and this is what I wrote:

Doctor Eleanor Milford stepped onto the diving board, looked around the pool at the gathering of her friends and colleagues, and then refocused on the water. Taking measured steps forward, she pushed down on the end of the board, and as it pushed her back up into the air, she launched herself into a backflip with a twist that pointed her straight back down toward the water in a perfect vertical line. She entered the water with barely a ripple.

Once in the water, she looked downward at what should have been the bottom of the pool—but wasn’t. Instead, she saw stars in a night sky and found herself flying through the air in an arc toward another type of pool in a completely different setting. She entered the water, hoping to resurface back at the party she had been at but instead was in a river by-water, deep in a dark, green forest, filled with bird songs and buzzing insects. She swam to the edge of the river, found the shore, and began to climb out when she was greeted by a tall, sturdy man who said, “Welcome home, Eleanor. My name is Regan, do you remember me?”

The Surprise

The Surprise

By S.C. Mathisen

The cold wind whistled through the loose boards on the shack. Two figures inside shivered and wrapped their blankets around them more tightly to fend off the frigid air.

“Is there any more wood to put on the fire?” asked Anna.

“No, I’ll have to go out and round up some more.” Jacob took off his blanket, rolled it up, laid it carefully down away from the fire, and stood up.

“Where will you find wood this late at night?”

Smiling, he turned to his sister and winked, “I have a source you know nothing about. I’ll be back in a little bit.” He grabbed a sweater from a peg on the wall,

“You’re not stealing it, are you? You know what Pop would say.”

Jacob layered the thick sweater over the other’s he already wore. “Don’t you worry about that. I’ll worry about what Pop might say when he gets back. In the meantime, he’s not here, and we need wood.”

“I can’t understand why he’s been gone so long. Sometimes he goes away for a day or maybe two,” Anna said, “but this time, he’s been gone for three days! We are nearly out of food and already out of wood for the fire. “She buried her face in her knees. “I’m beginning to wonder if something happened to him, and he can’t get back to us.”

“Maybe so, but we can’t wait for him to come back. We need to take care of ourselves, and that is what I am going to do right now. I’m going out for some wood.”

Anna looked up and turned her eyes straight at her brother, “Jacob, be very careful out there. The is a really bad storm. I don’t want to lose you too.”

Jacob laughed his bravest laugh and imitated Pop’s voice. “Now don’t you worry your pretty little head, Anna, me girl. I’ll be back in two shakes of a tail.”

Then pulling his hat on hard enough to cover his ears, he went out the door into the stormy night and closed the door hard behind him.

Anna stared at the door for a while, then at the red coals that were the remnants of their fire. She wept and prayed.

Outside, the wind was blowing so hard Jacob had to lean into it to make any headway as he walked. He made his way across the street, turned left, and then down two blocks until he came to a hole in the side of an old brick building so tall, he couldn’t see the top.

Once inside, he had to crawl over lots of rubble to get to the pile of wood he was looking for.

Just as he was filling up his arms with the wood, there came a voice. “And what do you think you’re doin’ with that wood? It don’t belong to you. It belongs to me.”

Jacob turned toward where he thought the voice was coming from. He could see no one.

“No, it doesn’t!” He shouted back. “It doesn’t belong to anyone; it’s just scrap wood, and I’m taking what I need to keep warm.”

Jacob grabbed more wood and then ran with all the speed he could muster back toward the way he had come in. He could hear the footsteps of someone chasing him, so he hurried even more.

He was almost to the hole in the wall that went outside when he tripped, fell, and dropped all the wood he was carrying. He jumped back up and was picking up the wood when he felt something hit his head. He saw lots of bright lights, and then everything went dark.

The fire back at the shack finally went out and was now filling the place with smoke. “I just can’t sit and wait for Jacob to come back. I need to go out and find some wood or something to burn.” Anna said to herself. She folded up her blanket, put on her heavy coat over all of her sweaters, put on her hat, pulled it down hard so it would cover her ears and headed out the door of the little shack, careful to close it hard to keep the wind from blowing it open again.

Anna struggled to make any headway against the wind, but finally, she made it to the street and grabbed onto a lamp post and stood for a minute trying to figure out exactly which way Jacob might have gone. Not knowing he had gone left, she went to the right toward the docks and the waterfront. She and Jacob had gone down there often with their Pop when he worked building and repairing boats. Maybe Jacob had found a stash of scrap wood left over from someone’s boat repairs down there.

Jacob’s eyes opened to light so bright it hurt his eyes and to the worst headache he ever had. He rubbed his head and moaned while he tried to get his eyes accustomed to the light and to focus.

“Well, boy. So you thought you were gonna get away with my wood? Ha! Ha! Ha!” said a raspy voice so loud it hurt Jacob’s ears. “No one gets my wood, boy!”

Jacob’s head was throbbing as he turned in the direction he thought the voice came from. He tried to see who was talking, but his eyes still couldn’t focus.

“No, sir, I didn’t know it was anybody’s wood. My sister and I ran out of wood, and we are so cold.”

“I don’t care if you freeze to death, boy,” the voice thundered, “it’s my wood, and now you’re gonna pay for tryin’ to steal from me!”

Anna stayed close to the side of each building she walked past on her way down to the docks to stay out of the full force of the bone-chilling wind. Each time she felt the full force of the wind, she pulled her coat tighter around her small, thin frame.

When she got to the place where her Pop used to work, she saw a light on in his old workshop. She looked carefully through the window and couldn’t believe her eyes! There was her father, Aloysius, working on what looked like a large cage.

Anna ran around to the door and tried to go in, but it was locked with a big chain and a padlock. She banged on the door and yelled, “Pop! Pop! How do I get in?”

Frustrated, she began to cry. Then a thought popped into her head. She ran back around to the window and knocked as hard as she dared.

Aloysius, startled at the loud sound, turned and looked toward the window. At first, he looked shocked, then surprised, and then very frightened. He started waving at her to go away when a loud voice came from behind her. “Hey, girlie! What do you think you’re doing here?”

Anna turned around to the sound of the voice to see a very tall, brutish looking figure. Thinking quickly, she noticed a piece of wood stacked against the building, grabbed it, held it horizontally, and ran under him and through his legs. The piece of wood knocked his legs out from under him, and when he fell, he hit his head. After that, he lay still and silent.

“Oh, he’s out cold!” she said to herself. “I’ll just grab the keys hooked onto his belt. Maybe one of them will fit the lock on the door.”

Sure enough, one of them did open the lock, and she was soon in her father’s arms. After a quick hug, they ran out the door and back into town to their cold, little shack.

“Anna, why were you there? H-h-how did you find me?”

Anna quickly told how they had run out of wood, and Jacob had gone out looking for more wood, and she had gone out looking for Jacob.

Aloysius looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, “I bet you I know where he went. There is a building up the street a little way that we went to get wood once. I’ll bet he went there. He should have been back by now, though. Unless something happened to him…”

“Oh, Pop! What if he’s hurt? We have to go look for him.”

Smiling at his determined little girl with a mischievous gleam in his eye, he said, “Let’s go! The good Lord will provide a way.”

They didn’t go directly to the building with the hole in the wall. First, they went back to where he had been held captive and retrieved the cage-like thing he had been working on. When they did get to the building, he set the cage up, so it opened up toward the hole in the wall with just enough room around it for them to crawl in.

Then he turned to Anna and said, “Now you stay behind me. This is the den of Screecher and his gang. They are the biggest, hairiest, baddest gang in town. If they have Jacob, we’re gonna have to do some swift maneuvering to get him out of there.”

They crawled in and crept toward the interior of the building. Before long, they could hear voices and see a strong light.

Aloysius leaned over and whispered to Anna, “There’s quite an echo in this building. We’re going to use that to free Jacob.”

“How?” Anna whispered back.

“God is faithful, little girl. Just you wait and see.” Aloysius whispered with a smile.

He stood up and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Heeeey Screecher! You looking for a tender morsel? Come and get me!”

The sound of his voice echoed throughout the old building.

“Who’s that callin’ to me?” answered a loud, gruff voice.

“’Tis your old friend, Aloysius. I come to collect my boy. Oh, and by the way, I got rid of your big cage. Norman!”

“What did you call me? No one calls me Norman. I’ll get you for that. Here I come! Come on, boys!”

“Come and get me, Norman!” Aloysius yelled again at the top of his voice.

There was the sound of feet running over the rubble toward them.

Aloysius grabbed Anna, and they ducked back behind a pile of bricks.

They watched as Screecher and his gang rushed past them, out the hole in the wall and directly into the cage. Aloysius had set it up as a trap for them. They were trapped!

Aloysius and Anna quickly found Jacob and untied him. Then they picked up a load of wood, left of the building another way, stopped to call the police to come and pick up Screecher and his gang, made their way home, and built a roaring fire. They ate a small meal, and each told of their adventures.

Aloysius held his two children and said, “We are very fortunate mice, my little ones. The Lord watched out for us, and now we are all home safe and sound again. That fat cat will never bother us again. The trap he planned to use on us was used to trap him.”

 

 

Joseph’s Story Part 1

Joseph’s Story 

Part 1

 

“Yow! Boy, does my head hurt. Where am I?”

I tried to open my eyes.

“Oh man, even my eyes hurt and it’s too dark to see anything. Okay, what can I feel?”

I sat up and began feeling around with my hands and feet and could feel nothing but dry, dusty, hard, round surfaces and walls.

“Nothing but rocks here, it’s terribly hot, it’s exceptionally dry and dusty and—oh, my head still hurts, my eyes hurt and so does just about every other part of me … and I’m talking to myself. How crazy is that? Okay, what can I hear or smell?”

I leaned back, listened, and sniffed.

“So, I can hear some sheep and it smells like someone has used this cistern as a latrine. Wait a minute,  where is my coat? Oh no, Father is going to kill me if I lost that coat. But I’ll have to wait to worry about that. For now, how did I get here and … for that matter where is here?”

I rubbed my sore head and then my eyes before trying to open them again. 

“Alright, I can finally see a sliver of light up there. Okay, I think I get it now. My brothers took some unreasonable offense to something I said, beat me up, stole the special coat that father made for me and stuck me down a dry cistern. Wow! I knew I wasn’t popular with them, but what did I ever do that made them mad enough to do this? Hmm … it may have started soon after we moved here from Paddan-Aram. Come to think of it, it may have gotten worse when I had those dreams. Oh man, my head still really hurts. I think I’ll sleep for a bit using these rocks for a pillow like Father did on his way to Paddan-Aram before he met Mother. Yes, a little nap is what I need to get it all straight in my brain.”

 

# # #

 

I remember sitting at the desk in my father’s tent tallying up columns of numbers to help Father manage our flocks and herds. Then father entered the tent and I called him over to show him what I had found, “Father, did you know that since we arrived here in Canaan, our flocks have grown by 25%? The pastureland here must be much better than it was at Paddan-Aram. Also, you might want to think about selling some of them off. The size of our flock is getting too large and difficult for my brothers to manage. They are having to move the flocks much more often to find new pastures.”

Father sat on a chair near me stroking his beard and said, “You know, I think you might be right. Why don’t you go to where your brothers are keeping the flocks and report back to me what you see.”

I am pretty sure I made a face and said, “Are you sure about that Father? I have not been warmly received by them since you gave me this wonderful new coat.”

Father just smiled and said, “Why don’t you let me worry about them. You just go first thing tomorrow morning and then bring me a report on how your brothers and our flocks are doing.”

“As you wish, Father.”

That night, I had a large meal and then retired to my tent where I had a strange dream. My brothers and I were out harvesting grain and stacking the tied up sheaves in neat bundles. It was really hard work. I remember getting really sweaty and then the beginnings of blisters on my hands. The blisters hurt a lot, but then the strangest thing happened. One of my sheaves stood up on end and then the sheaves of my eleven brothers all bowed down to it. It was so weird that I woke up and had to get a drink of water. After that, I slept for the rest of the night without any more dreams. That dream stuck in my head so I couldn’t forget it. 

When I found them, they avoided talking to me but Reuben gave me some tasks to do. I did them quickly so I could do the inventory that Father asked for. 

At lunch, I decided to tell my brothers about my strange dream. That might have been a mistake. I spoke up loud enough for everyone to hear and said “Listen to this dream. We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” 

At first, it didn’t seem like they wanted to listen. Some of them turned away from me at the beginning but when I got to the part about their sheaves bowing down to mine, they got angry, rushed at me and started yelling at me, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” Then they all stomped off to care for the sheep. Talk about getting in my face! Needless to say, I shut up and silently continued with the inventory Father had asked for.

When we got home, I reported to Father that my inventory did not match up with the numbers that my brothers had given him. I told him that I thought they were selling some of the sheep without telling him so they could have spending money. I thought I saw some women hiding in their tents while I was there. Father said nothing about my report, but he questioned them thoroughly when they got home a week or so later. They seemed to pretend from then on that I did not exist. None of them, except for Reuben would even talk to me. 

Several weeks later, I had another dream and one night at dinner I stood up and shared the dream with my father and my brothers. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!” Father scolded me. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” This surprising reaction from my father seemed to match my brothers. I think they were jealous of me. My brothers wolfed down the rest of their food and took off. They rushed rudely past me nearly knocking me over with their arms and elbows.

After his initial outburst, Father sat quietly while he finished eating. He said nothing to me when I left to go to my tent. 

# # #

A few weeks passed by and then Father asked me to go and check on my brothers again and bring back another report. I can tell you, I was not in any big hurry to see them again, but headed to Shechem as I had been asked to do.

The next morning I packed a bag, put on my special coat, and rode my favorite donkey to where my brothers were supposed to be tending to the flocks. But, they weren’t there. So I had to look around for them. After an hour or so, I ran into a man that told me that they had gone to Dothan. Typical. They are so unreliable.

When I first saw them, I could tell that they could see me too. I waved at them and could see a lot of hurried activity. They seemed to be huddling together about something. I hoped that it was because they had forgiven me for telling them about my dreams. I hoped for a warm welcome.

But, when I got there, they grabbed me by the arms and tied me up. They were arguing among themselves trying to decide what to do with me. I have to say I was actually frightened when I heard them say, “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!” 

But then, Reuben came to my rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” 

I was hoping that Reuben was secretly planning to rescue me and take me back to father. But my brothers ripped off the beautiful robe I was wearing and threw me into an empty cistern. 

 

# # #

 

I woke up from my nap to the sound of my brothers arguing again. It seems like that’s all they ever did. But then I heard the sound of camels, They removed the lid from the cistern and threw down a rope so I could pull myself out. I have to say that I got my hopes up that they had changed their mind. It was a wonderful feeling that lasted only until I got up to the top of the cistern and climbed out. Then they grabbed me and took me over to some rough-looking men with a caravan of camels and shoved me to the ground in front of them. I looked around to see if Reuben was there to stick up for me, but he was nowhere to be found. The traders gave Levi what looked like twenty pieces of silver and then grabbed me, tied my hands together, and then tethered me to one of their camels.

As we traveled away, I could hear one of my brothers say, goodbye dreamer! It felt like my life was over. I needed to connect with my father’s God. No one else was going to help me. So I prayed as I walked. 

“God of my father Jacob, his father Isaac and my great-grandfather Abraham. I have taken you for granted all of my life, but I need you now. I was born into privilege and luxury. I was the favorite son of my father and did not appreciate any of it. When I had dreams of being worshipped and bowed down to, I took pride in my lofty position and lorded it over my brothers. I am sorry, Lord. I am sorry for my pride and my arrogance. I know that from now on I will need to walk closely with you and learn humility from you in order to survive. A slave’s life is very hard. Please accept my repentant heart and walk with me on a daily basis. Teach me to walk in your ways, O Lord. Keep me close to your heart and protect me with your powerful right arm. Amen.”

A few weeks later, after walking all day every day behind a camel and trying to make sure that I avoided stepping in his droppings, we arrived in Egypt. I was taken to a slave market and sold to an important looking Egyptian man named Potiphar. I was then taken to his house, cleaned up and put to work cleaning everything in sight.

 

 

Stories for Advent – Day 9

I’ve realized that my early drafts of the stories for this series have required rewriting so the numbers of the stories will not match their initial intended sequence. Just remember that these are draft stories for later publication.

God’s Plan for Christmas

Christmas foretold to the Patriarchs

Abram

“Ok Grampa, this is a new week. You finished telling your great story about Enoch and Noah. What stories are you going to tell us this week?” asked Sue as she sat down with her hot chocolate.

“Thash wut ah wanna know too.” Added Jon.

“Jon, you would probably be easier to understand if you didn’t talk with cookies in your mouth,” Sue said as she poked him with her elbow.

Grampa Johnny began, “Well, we are going to fast forward many years to when God called Abram to leave his homeland with only a promise in return.”

* * *

Abram was sitting and praying on a little knoll while tending his sheep one day. It was a bit warmer than usual, but a good, stiff breeze kept it cool enough to be a comfortable day. He was thinking about places he would like to see and what he wanted for his children he would have in the future when he heard a voice like no other voice he had ever heard before. It seemed to ride on the wind and come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. He was sure it was the Lord and fell to his knees.

It said, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’ family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Abram wasn’t exactly sure what all of this meant, but he focused on two things. The first was that he was to pack up his family and everything he owned and travel to the land the Lord would tell him about. The second was that he would have so many descendants that they would be a great nation.

After thinking about the Lord’s words for a bit, he hurried home to Sarai. They would begin packing up his whole household, including his nephew Lot. They would take all of it to this place that the Lord would show him. There was a great sense of urgency in Abram’s obedience. He believed what he had been told wholeheartedly and eagerly looked forward to the promise of becoming a great nation through which all the families on earth would be blessed.

* * *

Grampa Johnny scooted forward and said, “What was the important part here?”

“Ooh, ooh! I know!” shouted Stanley as he bounced up and down on his seat.

“Ok, what was it,” asked Sue.

“The part about becoming famous,” smiled Stanley.

Grampa smiled, “I’m sure that was important to Abram, but not the most important part to us at Christmas. Jon, do you know?”

“Sure, it’s the part where all the families on earth would be blessed.”

“That’s right! That is the first thing that we are going to learn about Jesus from the patriarchs this week. We have six more days so we will learn six more things.”

“That is very cool!” said Sue. I can’t wait until tomorrow.

 Parents Corner

As we go through this week, we will see that God dropped little bits of information about what He was planning in the stories of the patriarchs. Like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs. God provided insights into what He was planning for us to find, to treasure and to ponder. As we consider them, one by one, we can only be amazed at how awesome our God is and how incredibly much He has loved us to plan all of this for us. That is something to talk to our children about.

Genesis 12

 

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 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.