The Winter Water Hazard – Conclusion

Johnny then turned and looked all the way around him said with a more determined tone, “Let’s head toward gap in the trees over there. If we can get out of these woods, I’m sure we can get back to the farm house.”

Susie immediately perked up and said, “Ok Johnny, lead on.”

So off they went. Johnny led and Susie followed closely behind him. After a bit, they were walking shoulder to shoulder. Each time one stepped on and snapped a fallen twig or branch they both jumped slightly and moved closer together.

Twenty minutes later at the edge of the forest, the sky had cleared, and they found themselves in very bright sunlight standing on an overhang that looked down over the valley that contained Susie’s grandparent’s farm. They could see the farmhouse and barn in the distance.

“Wow! That sun is bright!” said Johnny, shielding his eyes. “How did we end up all the way over here?”

“I don’t know, but I guess we walked farther than we thought. Look! There’s the old pond down there,” said Susie pointing off to her right and her familiar smile returning to her face.

“Wow! Somehow we managed to walk completely around it and end up all the way up here.”

“How do we get down there? I sure don’t want to go back the way we came.”

Johnny then pointed to the right but lower than Susie had, “It looks like there’s a trail over there that might take us down there. All we have to do is to follow this overhang till we get to it.”

Beaming at Johnny, Susie said, “Well? What are we waiting for?”

“I think we need to thank God for getting us out of the forest.”

“That’s right, Johnnie, we do. Let’s do it now.”

Once again they joined in prayer. “Thank you, Lord, for bringing us out of the forest.  Now help us to get back to the farm safely.” They looked at each other, and both said, “Amen!”

So off they went walking along the edge of the overhang and sometimes hanging onto tree branches to keep their balance.

Just as they approached the trail, they realized that they would have to cross a shallow, but wide and mostly frozen-over creek to get to it.

After looking at the creek, Johnny turned to Susie and said, “Whoa! That looks too wide to jump.”

Susie began craning her neck looking up and downstream to see if there was another spot they could cross. “The underbrush is too thick to try anywhere else. It looks like we have to cross here or go back through the woods.”

Just then Johnny spotted a low branch hanging over the creek. “You know, we might be able to grab that branch and swing across.”

Before Susie could respond, Johnny had jumped up to grab the branch. He got a hold of it and began to swing but couldn’t hold on all the way across. He dropped onto the icy creek bed, and his feet immediately began to slide downstream.

Susie watched in horror as Johnny began to fall and reached out to catch him but only succeeded in grabbing his coat pocket. That grip on Johnny pulled her off balance toward the creek bed, and she fell toward him.

Soon the two of them were sliding down the iced over creek bed like it was a bobsled course. Johnny was feet first with Susie still gripping his pocket going down headfirst.

They careened downhill at getting faster by the minute, all the time bouncing off of the creek sides until they eventually shot out of the creek bed and across the old pond. At that point, they began spinning around like cartwheels.

They eventually came to a stop near the far side of the creek where they sat up and tried to get their bearings. Johnny was just about to speak up when they heard a familiar voice, “If you two are done with your ice dancing, maybe you’d like a ride back to the house.”

They looked up to see Susie’s Grampa Johnny with his horse drawn wagon at the edge of pond chuckling. Susie and Johnny looked at each other and then they began to laugh too.

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The Winter Water Hazard – Part 1

The Winter Water Hazard

By: S.C. Mathisen

“Come on Johnny, let’s go! I want to skate on the old pond today. We’re only here in Millville visiting my grandparents for a week.” Susie said trying to encourage her friend Johnny to hurry into his coat, hat, and mittens.

“I am hurrying, Susie,” Johnny said sounding like he was already out of breath.

He had already put on two extra sweaters, long johns and an extra set of wool socks and was bent over trying to reach the laces of his hi-top insulated winter boots and just barely reaching them. Between the extra layers of clothing and the extra layers of Johnny’s round stomach, the laces were almost out of his reach. But he finally did get them and was now finishing up the final knot on his right boot.

“There, I’ve got the boots laced up. All I need to do now is to put on my hat and scarf and coat and get my mittens on. You can never be too careful out in winter weather. Especially here in upper Minnesota! It’s really cold up here!”

“Great, now let’s go. We want to get out there and get back before it gets dark.” Susie said in eager anticipation.

When Johnny was finally ready, they headed for the back door. Johnny detoured slightly to pick up a handful of oatmeal raisin cookies, wrap them carefully in a napkin and put them in one of his over-large coat pockets.

After going out the door and walking across the wide driveway, they passed the barn and followed a path that took them across the cornfields plowed under after the harvest. The sky was a dull, steely gray and the ground was covered with white frost and. They could see each breath they took. They talked excitedly about how much fun it was going to be to skate on a real frozen pond instead of the ice rink they practiced on back home in Crescent City.

After walking across fields for a time, the path led into what looked like a small bunch of trees.

“I think the pond is just on the other side of these trees,” said Susie.

“Wow, it sure is farther than I thought it would be,” said Johnny as he slowed down to look up and around at all the tall trees.

“Come on Johnny, keep up!  It’s starting to snow.”

“I’m coming. I was just noticing how weird it is in here with all these trees covered in snow.”

“Yup, but we should be out of the woods in a couple of minutes if we walk fast.”

“Walk fast, that’s a really good idea. It’s kinda creepy in here. The snow is starting to come down real hard, the sky is getting to be a real dark gray, and it’s getting hard to see.”

Johnny picked up the pace and started walking really fast. He began walking so fast Susie had trouble keeping up with him. The only sound was their feet rapidly crunching in the new fallen snow.

After several minutes of walking, taking different turns to follow what Susie thought was the path, she said with a little quiver in her voice, “Johnny, does it seem like it’s getting darker instead of lighter?”

“Y-y-yes. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice and get scared. Why do you think I’m walking so fast?”

“Maybe we should turn around and go back,” said the quivering voice.

Johnny stopped suddenly and pointed toward his left, “look there’s a clearing over there. Maybe we should go that way.”

“Well, Ok.”

Johnny turned to his friend and said, “I thought you knew your way around on this farm. You should be the one giving directions. Are you lost?”

Susie looked around with a puzzled look on her face, “I thought I knew the way. I just don’t remember the woods taking this long to get through. I might be a little confused.”

“Oh great, you’re lost. And if you’re lost I’m lost too. Can you find your way back out of here?”

Trying to sound braver and more confident than she really felt Susie said: “Sure, we just go back the way we came.”

“Right, we took so many twists and turns on the way here, I lost track of where we came from. I bet you did too!”

“I think I know what we need to do.”

“So do I, we need to pray. God know where we are and He can keep us safe.”

Susie smiled broadly, “That’s right Johnnie. He can and He will!”

Johnny began, “Lord, you know where we are and how to get us out of here. Please show us the way out.”

Susie joined in, “Yes Jesus, please help us to find our way out.”

They both said together “Amen!”

The Best Christmas Present Ever

This is a script I wrote  a decade or so ago for Sunday School. The formatting did not come across right, but I hope you enjoy it.

* * *

The Best Christmas Present Ever

By: S.C. Mathisen

Narrator:        One weekend, Susie and Stanley were spending the weekend with their Grandparents. Grammie was busy elsewhere in the house. Grandpa was in the kitchen whipping up a batch of his world famous oatmeal raisin cookies. The two kids have been trying to decide what would be the best Christmas present to get.

Stanley:        But Susie, I still think that a complete collection of Tonka trucks would be the best ever. Just think of all the dirt you could move!!

Susie:        Oh yeah, and you know how mom feels about all that dirt. Now what I think is that new Barbie doll with all of her stuff like the big house that looks like a castle & cars & boats & clothes…wow, that would be great!!

Stanley:        But that’s girl stuff!!

Susie:        Yes and trucks are boy stuff. We gotta think of something that anybody would like.

Stanley:        How about computer games? Remember that game where you had to find things, and it took us nearly a week of looking together to find everything?? That was fun, and we both like it.

Susie:        Yes, that’s true, and we both played with the Legos and Lincoln Logs. I made a doll house out them, and you built a fort.

Stanley:        But maybe older kids & grownups wouldn’t like that stuff as much as we would.

Susie:        You’re right, Stanley. Hmm, what would ANYBODY like to get…???

Stanley:        Hey! Maybe we could ask Grampa. He could help us figure it out.

Together:        Yeah!!!

Both kids jump up and rush into the kitchen . . .

Together:        Grampa!!!

Grampa looks up from his cookie mix . . .

Grampa:        Hey there kiddos! How are my two favorite grandchildren?

Together:        Grampa! We’re you’re only grandchildren.

Grampa:        Well, that doesn’t change the fact that you are my two favorite grandchildren in the whole wide world. Now, what is it that you two want? The world famous oatmeal raisin cookies have not even gone in the oven yet. I was just tasting the dough to make sure I haven’t left anything out.

Susie:        Grampa! They are not cooked yet! Ewww!! Yuck!!

Licking his lips & fingers . . .

Stanley:        I don’t know, Susie, this tastes kind of good. This would go great with ice cream Grampa!

Grampa:        What was it you guys wanted anyway??

Stanley:        Oh, yeah . . . we wanted you to help us figure something out.

Susie:        That’s right. We have been trying to figure out what the best ever Christmas present would be. Stanley thinks that it would be Tonka trucks & stuff. I think that it would be all the new Barbie dolls & stuff. Then we thought about computer games that we could both play or Lego’s or Lincoln Logs or—

Grampa:        Whoa there little one, I got the idea. Why don’t the two of you sit down at the table there while I put this first tray of my world famous oatmeal raisin cookies in the oven? We’ll talk while they are baking & maybe we can sample them fresh out of the oven.

Both kids:        All Right!!!

Grampa:        Now let me get this oven door open, put this tray in, make sure that the temperature is just right and set the timer. Good! All done! Now, let’s talk about this present thing. I don’t think that you kids are thinking big enough. Let’s think about the best present ever given. Not just the Christmas type. I seem to remember a story that starts like this.

A long time ago, far, far away, back during the time when God had just created the earth. He had just finished making all of the animals and fish and plants & trees. He said that all of this is good, but . . . He then took some mud and created Adam. (I think that is why boys like dirt so much.) When Adam was awake and had looked around a little bit, God asked him to name all the animals. Well, that took awhile, but, after Adam was done, he was a little lonely. All of the animals had males and females. They had someone to spend time with and talk with and stuff, but…Adam didn’t. God knew that this was making Adam sad. So, He put Adam to sleep and took one of his ribs and made Eve. She was a present from God to Adam. God then gave the whole world to Adam and Eve to rule over and be masters of. That was a pretty big present if you ask me.

Well, pretty soon Adam and Eve messed up and sinned against God. This pretty much messed up everything all around. They got kicked out of the garden that God had planted for them to live in and they had to work hard every day just to survive. Sin had been brought into the world by their disobedience, and the world has been a mess ever since.

 

But, even as God was kicking them out of the garden, He made a promise that one day He would send someone to do something about the mess that they made.

Well, a lot of time passed, and God gave lots of presents to His people. Sometimes the presents were people to help them out when they were in trouble like Noah and Moses. Sometimes He gave them food and water where there wasn’t any like when the children of Israel were wandering in the desert for 40 years. God fed them twice a day.

When they got to the Chosen Land, He helped them take control of it and get settled. He sent people called Judges to help them when they forgot about God and got themselves in trouble. He gave them a king when they wanted one. When they were taken into captivity after forgetting about God again for a long time, He sent them Daniel and kept him from getting eaten in the lions den. He sent them Queen Esther to keep them from getting killed by the evil Haman. He brought them back to Israel when He said that He would and even after they were conquered by the Romans. The finally time came for the best present of all.

There was a young girl named Mary we talked about her before, do you remember? Do you remember how when the angel told her that she was going to become pregnant, and she said that couldn’t be because she was not married and the angel told her that all things are possible with God? She told the angel that it was ok with her because it was going to be from God. Do you also remember that she did get married, and she and her husband Joseph had to travel all the way to Bethlehem because the Roman Caesar wanted to count everyone? And then there was no room at the inn, and they had to sleep in the stable? And then angels appeared to some shepherds to tell them that a wonderful thing was about to happen?  Do you remember what the angel said?

“But the angel said to them, do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

The angels were talking about Jesus. He was the one that God promised to Adam and Eve that would clean up the mess that they had made. Jesus came to clean us and take away all of our sins by dying on the cross for us.

Jesus is the best Christmas present ever.

Stanley:        Wow Grampa! That’s really cool. I never thought of it that way before.

Susie:        That’s right Stanley, and now because we have asked Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Saviour, we can go to heaven when we die and live for Him while we are alive.

Stanley:        And we can pray to Him when we feel lonely or scared or for just any old reason.

Grampa:        That’s right kids. I think that you understand really well. Oops, the timer just went off. Who wants some of my fresh hot world famous oatmeal raisin cookies???

Stanley:        Grampa, do you think that it would be a good idea to tell our friends about Jesus being the best Christmas present ever? I was thinking about telling my friend Whitney and maybe Johnnie.

Grampa:        I think that would be the best idea that anyone could ever have.

Susie:        That’s right! If we tell other people about it, it would be like giving them the best Christmas present ever, and we could give it to everyone we know!! Like I could tell my friend Cherry!

Grampa:        That’s right Susie and you too Stanley. Stanley, could you get the milk from the refrigerator? Susie, could you get some small plates. I think that you two will need some milk and cookies before you go & tell all of you friends about Jesus and ask them to accept God’s Best Christmas Present ever.

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Two Shepherds

As it is Christmas eve, I would like to share an original Christmas story of mine. With this story, it is my fervent wish and hope that each and every one of you (my readers) will come to know the Saviour that we celebrate on this Christmas Eve.

* * *

Two Shepherds  

Original story told by: God

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen

“Jacob, how long are you going to lie there and stare at the night sky?”

“As long as I need to Zebedee, I’ve been watching this star every night for the last several months, and it seems to be getting closer and closer every night. I can’t figure it out.”

“We need to get back to the flock; I’m worried that those Roman soldiers will decide to help themselves to a couple of our sheep while we are away from them.”

“All right, all right, I’m ready to go back now. I made a few notes on the position tonight. It looks like it is straight above that little village of Bethlehem. Maybe we’ll go in there in the morning and look around.”

“Help me gather up our things here, Jacob. You know, after this season is over, I’m going to head back up to Galilee and take my uncle up on his offer to teach me fishing and to set me up with a fishing boat. I am getting really tired of sleeping outside on the hard ground every night, watching a bunch of smelly sheep.”

“That sounds pretty good, Zebedee, but I like being out here. I especially like it at night when I can watch the stars. Ok, I’ve got the food; let’s get back to the sheep.”

The two shepherds head back over several small hills to the small field where they had left their herd. Jacob looks back over his shoulder at the star that has captured his imagination, and Zebedee scans the horizon for any signs of Roman patrols.

“Jacob, why does that star fascinate you so much? After all, the night sky is full of stars. What is so special about that one?”

“I don’t really know Zebedee, for some reason it reminds me of the Lord’s promise to send the Messiah. You know, I heard from a passing caravan yesterday that there was a strange caravan of royal astrologers in the area from some country far away to the east. I heard they were here because they had been following a star all the way from their country. I wonder if it’s the same star. I’d like to run into them and ask them a few questions.”

“Sounds kind of crazy to me. No one believes any of that Messiah stuff anymore.”

“But don’t you remember all the prophecies from synagogue school? One of them talked about a star!”

“Jacob, come on! All of that stuff is just old, tired stories to tell the kiddies at bedtime. If God was going to send a messiah, he wouldn’t have let us get conquered by the Romans. If He exists, He’s off doing other things and has cut us loose to take care of ourselves. Come on, we need to get back to the sheep.”

“I don’t care what most people think, Zebedee. I believe the stories, and I think that star has something to do with them. I just have a feeling about it.”

“Great! Wonderful for you. Me, I just want to get back to the sheep and get some sleep. All this stargazing is depriving me of some well-deserved sleep.”

The two shepherds arrived back where they had left the sheep and begin laying out their sleeping gear and soon settle down for some sleep.

“Here we are, Zebedee. The sheep are right down there in that field all nestled in for the night, and we are here with them. Let’s call it a night. I sure wish that caravan from the east would come by here. I’d like to talk to those men.”

A couple of hours later:

Zebedee awakes. He hears something that sounds like singing. Then, his eyes are almost blinded by a bright light.

angel-shepherds

“Jacob, what’s that in the sky? It can’t be morning already.”

“What? What do you want?” He cups his hand over his eyes. “Wow! That is really bright!”

“I’m scared,” said Zebedee.

“ I am too,” replied Jacob.

A third voice speaks. The voice seems to come from everywhere.

“Don’t be afraid!”

“Who said that?” asked Zebedee.

“Is that you, Simon?” asked Jacob, in a shaky voice.

“Don’t be afraid!” the voice repeated. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds just looked at each other.

“Jacob,” said Zebedee, “remember all that stuff about not believing all those old stories?”

Jacob looked at his friend, smiled, and said, “Yes?”

“I’ve changed my mind. I do believe them now. ALL of them. Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and arrived just as the sun was coming up. After asking all around, they found Mary and Joseph in a stable with their baby boy, lying in the manger.

von_honthorst_adoration_shepherds_800x683

When they saw Him, they both went weak in the knees, knelt, and worshiped Him. They told Mary and Joseph what had happened to them, and they both were amazed.  

Afterwards, they told everyone they met what had happened and what the angel had said about this child and where to find Him.

All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished. Many came to worship Him as well.

 

The Surprise – Part Three – The End

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 that 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 leans 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.”

The Surprise – Part 2

The fire back at the shack finally went completely 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 decided to go 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 in order 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 dare.

Aloysius, startled at the loud sound, turned and looked in the direction of 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.”

The Surprise

The Surprise

I have been absent while trying to get my new editing business off the ground. I hope to become more regular in my posting from now on. Here is a story I wrote about five years ago. I hope you like it.

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 try 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 storm is really bad. 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 awhile, 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 in order 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 starting to fill 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 couldn’t see anyone.

“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 started running 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 started to see lots of bright lights and then everything went dark.