Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors

Jacob had twelve sons, but he loved Joseph the most and made a royal coat for him. He crafted strips of red and gold, blue and green, orange and brown into a beautiful robe with a golden sash. He decorated the front edges with rich embroidery. Joseph made his brothers jealous when he paraded in front of them wearing his coat of many colors. They wondered why Jacob didn’t make coats for each of them. As if that wasn’t enough, Joseph had dreams–big dreams. He dreamed that someday his whole family would bow down to him. This made his brothers angry with him, so angry they wanted to kill him. Instead they threw him in a dried up old well.

“Get me out of here!” Joseph cried. So they pulled him out and sold him to some Egyptian slave traders. In Egypt Joseph worked hard for a man named Potifer. The man trusted him with his whole household.

Joseph was tall and handsome and caught the eye of Potifer’s wife. She tried to seduce him but he ran away from her. She grabbed his robe, but he fled away from her, leaving his robe. The evil woman used it in a lie to her husband against him. Poor Joseph ended up in jail because of things she said. While he was in jail he interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. Three years later the Pharaoh had dreams that made him crazy. No one could interpret his dreams except for Joseph.

The Pharaoh’s dreams foretold of a coming famine. He respected Joseph so much that he made him governor of Egypt. Joseph harvested and stored the food during the seven good years and managed the food during the seven years when the fields yielded no grain and the livestock died. People had to come from many surrounding towns to Egypt to get grain for food.

Guess who showed up in front of Joseph. Yep! His brothers. He recognized them but they didn’t recognize him in his Egyptian clothes and headdress. Do you think Joseph forgave his brothers or took this opportunity to get revenge on them? Check back next week to find out.

Jesus Loves Me

“Hey, Christi, are you signing up for soccer?” asked Julia.

“No,” replied Christi. “I thought about it but decided not to.”

“Why?”

“Because some of the games are on Sunday mornings.”

            “Yeah, so?”
            “Well, I go to Sunday school.”
            “Can’t you miss a Sunday or two?”
            “I suppose I could,” said Christi. “But I don’t want to.”
            “What’s so special about Sunday school?”
            “You mean you’ve never gone?”
            “No, why should I?”
            “Well, I like going because I have fun and learn how much Jesus loves me.”
            “How do you know Jesus loves you?” asked Julia.
            “Because He died on the cross for me.”
            “What?” Julia asked.  “What do you mean He died on a cross for you?”
“He was nailed to a cross for . . .”
            “Christi, that’s disgusting!” shouted Julia. “That’s horrible. How could that prove anything to anyone?” Julia didn’t give Christi time to  answer. She just stomped away. Christi walked home from school by herself. She looked down at the ground and felt terrible. “Dear God, I’m sorry,” she cried. Tears streaming down her face, she opened the front door to her house and ran straight to her bedroom.
            “Christi, what’s the matter?” Mom asked as she stepped into her room.
            “Oh Mom,” she said. “Julia wanted me to sign up for soccer, but I told her I couldn’t because some of the games were on Sundays. I told her I liked Sunday school and learning how much Jesus loves me.”
           “Christi, I am glad you made that decision,” Mom said.
           “Mom, she asked me how I knew Jesus loved me and I told her because He was nailed to a cross for me.” Christi couldn’t talk. She cried and cried.
           “Mom, Julia said for Jesus to be nailed to a cross for me was disgusting. She cut me off and strutted down the street. Oh Mom, I feel awful.” Mom held her close and Christi sobbed big sobs.
           “Christi,” Mom said, “I know God was with you and I know He  loves you very much. When you think about it, being nailed to a cross is pretty  disgusting. It was painful and humiliating for Jesus. But He endured the cross because He loves us. You were right. People who don’t know Him don’t understand the cross. I bet you gave Julia something to think about.”
           “Really?”
           “Oh yes,” Mom said. “I know she is a good friend and she trusts you.”
           “Do you think God will give me another chance to tell her how much Jesus loves her?”
          “It’s possible,” Mom said. “Let’s be thankful for today. God was with you.” Christi stopped crying and smiled. Mom started singing and Christi joined in,
            “Jesus loves me, this I know,
            For the Bible tells me so.
            Little ones to Him belong.
            They are weak but He is strong.
            Yes, Jesus loves me.
            Yes, Jesus loves me.
            Yes, Jesus loves me.
            The Bible tells me so.”

God’s Peace

It’s Friday morning rush hour. Cars whiz by this way and that way. Moms and Dads are in a  hurry to get to work. College students have to get to class before the professor begins his lecture.
Suddenly the world stops while a mother duck leads her ducklings across the busy street. Hearts soften, and faces crack open with  smiles as a family of ducks announces God’s presence in Anytown, USA. For a few  quiet moments people roll down their windows, smell the jasmine, and experience peace, a peace that passes understanding, God’s  peace.
Not so for the people several cars back. Drivers get frustrated  because they don’t know what’s holding things up. A young man gets out of  his car and walks down to investigate. His heart softens when he sees the  ducks. God’s creation penetrates his impatience and peace overcomes  him.

Gracious and holy God, thank you for  pleasant interruptions of your extravagant peace in a world that races by. Thank  you for the ducks. Thank you for always being with us. Amen.

A Big Heart for a Little Man

A huge crowd gathered at Jericho’s gate. Uncle Zack (short for Zacchaeus) asked one of his friends, Eli, “Who is it?”

“It’s Jesus,” Eli said.

“Jesus?”

“You know, the teacher. He heals the sick.”

“Oh yes! The people love him but the priests want to kill him,” said Uncle Zack.

“He’s the one!”

Frustrated because he couldn’t see, Uncle Zack climbed up into a sycamore tree. He wasn’t any taller than me and I was ten years old. I climbed the same tree, and found a branch near Uncle Zack. It was a warm and sunny day. A gentle breeze carried the sweet fragrance of the balsam plantations on the Jericho road. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the heavenly aroma.

“Look!” said Uncle Zack.

Startled, I looked down and saw Jesus. I could hardly believe my eyes. Jesus stopped right under the tree where we waited. He winked at me, and then said to Uncle Zack, “Zacchaeus, come down. I’m going to your house today.”

Uncle Zack almost fell out of the tree. No one likes him and no one comes to his house. I stepped into the crowd, right behind Jesus and all the people followed us to Uncle Zack’s house.

“I’m glad you’re here, My Lord,” said Uncle Zack and he washed Jesus’ feet. “But who am I that you want to visit me?”

“I just want to hang out with you for a while,” smiled Jesus.

You should have seen the look of surprise on my uncle’s face. Nobody visits him except a few tax collector friends. People didn’t like tax collectors, since they often collected more taxes than people owed. This made Uncle Zack a very rich man. Yet not all the money in Jericho could make him happy. He was lonely, and he wanted friends. Jesus’ visit made him feel special. It was evident in the way he sat near the Teacher and listened to everything He said.

“Give what is in your heart,” said Jesus, “not out of sadness or out of feeling forced to. Giving will make you happy.”

Uncle Zack wrinkled his brows. I know he wanted to believe Jesus and be his friend. He sprang to his feet so quickly he made everyone laugh. He looked straight in Jesus’ eyes and said, “I will sell half of all I have and give the money to the poor. And whoever I have cheated, I will repay four times!”

Those were strange words coming from my uncle. He was a greedy, miserly man, but something changed that night. He grabbed his moneybags and gave silver and gold to people in the room he had cheated. In a few days, he sold his house and bought a smaller one. He sold the furniture he didn’t need any more.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked.

“Because Jesus wants to be my friend,” he said. He reminded me of Jesus’ words when He visited. He said, “Salvation has come to this house today.”

Uncle Zack gave to the poor. He helped the blind find their way on the streets. He fed the hungry. He visited prisoners and took warm clothes to them. I overheard people in town ask each other, “What happened to that rich little man?” He’s got a spring in his step and a smile on his face.” I knew it was all because Jesus showed him love.

           

 

 

Grandma’s Vision

 

Grandma came to live with Alexa’s family after a week in the hospital. A stroke left her blind so Mom took three weeks off work to help her. Alexa stayed with Grandma when Mom had to go back to work. All year Alexa had saved money from her babysitting jobs to go to church camp in the summer. Now it looked like she wouldn’t get to go. She hardly had time to think about it because she was busy helping Grandma.

            Every day Grandma looked forward to Alexa reading the Bible to her. Alexa grew to love this time too. At least once a week Grandma asked Alexa to read the story about how Jesus healed the man born blind. Each time the varied responses to the healing became more comical. The neighbors disagreed. The Pharisees argued. Fear overcame the parents, but the man born blind was delighted. His life changed in an instant. He saw people and things for the first time.

            Grandma laughed. “He wanted to celebrate his seeing but the fact that he could see brought turmoil in the community. You know, Alexa, the worst thing in life isn’t blindness. It’s being able to see and having no vision.”

            “What do you mean, Grandma?”

            “We don’t see and we don’t understand what’s important unless we know Jesus. We need God’s insight to make right choices and do what is right and good.”

            “I never thought of it that way.”

            “Alexa, I want to tell you something. My suffering from the stroke has made me see God’s beauty and strength in you and your parents. I’m so thankful I could stay here with you. I’m grateful for your help and spending time with me reading the Bible.” 

            “I love you, Grandma.” Alexa held Grandma’s hand and bowed her head.  Lord Jesus, I know you have power over sickness and disease and I am asking you to help Grandma see again. Amen.

            “Thank you, Alexa. I am in God’s hands,” said Grandma. “I know you have been saving your babysitting money to go to church camp and I want you to go.”

            “But, Grandma, who will help you?”

            “I called your Aunt Madelyn while you washed dishes this morning. She’s coming Thursday next week.”

            “Oh, Grandma! Thank you. I love you!”

            “I love you too, Sweetheart.”

             

           

Why Do Fish Jump?

Bang! The boat jerked. The motor stopped. “What was that?” asked Kurt.

“I’m not sure,” Dad said, looking over the stern of the old green fishing boat. “But I think we’ve got a problem. A big problem.”

“What is it?”

Dad pulled up the outboard motor. “Well, look at that. We must have hit a boulder and it bent the prop. There’s no fixin’ it until we get home. We’ll have to buy a new one.”

Kurt couldn’t hide his feelings. He felt afraid and disappointed all at the same time.

“It’s no big deal,” Dad said. “That’s why we have two motors on the boat.”

“But now we only have one.”

“Yeah, that’s true.” Dad let down the little motor. “Let’s see how it works.” With one pull on the cord, the motor started and the two were chugging down the river again.

Dad baited the lines and gave one rod to his son.

Kurt loved going fishing. He and his dad got up while it was still dark and by the time they got to the river, the sun was coming up over the mountain. The pines stood tall and majestic. A gentle breeze brought a woodsy aroma and the current pushed the dark blue water quickly down the river.

“I love this place,” said Kurt. “Ain’t nothin’ better.”

“I’ll agree with you one hundred percent.”

“It’s like God made it just for us—our secret hideaway.”

Dad smiled. “Who’s going to catch the first fish?”

“It doesn’t matter to me; just as long as we catch some.”

A fish jumped in front of the boat. Another jumped just to the right side of the boat.

“Wow! Dad did you see that?”

“See what?”

“Fish are jumping everywhere. Look! Another one jumped over there!”

After an hour of trolling up and down the river, neither Kurt nor Dad got a nibble on their lines. “Gee, Dad. I thought we’d catch a lot of fish.”

“Why? Because they were jumping?”

 “Well, yeah.”

 Kurt’s rod bolted and his reel screamed. “Dad! Look!”

“Gee whiz, Kurt! You got a big one!”

 “I hope so.”

Dad turned off the motor and moved next to his son, ready to keep him steady with the rocking of the boat. “Take it nice and slow. Keep your rod tip up and reel that baby in.”

Kurt reeled and reeled. “It’s a big one!”

“Keep reeling. Keep your rod tip up.”

By the tug on his rod, Kurt imagined a five-pound trout on his line. Within a few minutes, he saw it coming in on the top of the water. “Dad, it’s just a stick.”

“It’s a pretty big stick,” Dad said. “These things happen to the best of fishermen.”

Soon the two were trolling down the river again.

“So, Dad, why do you think fish jump?”

“That’s a question anglers have been asking for a long time,” Dad said. “Some say that the female salmon jump to get ready to spawn.”

“Doesn’t that have something to do with the fresh water flowing on top of the ocean water?”

“Yeah, and the females come up the rivers and jump to the top to find their native water,” Kurt said.

 “That’s pretty incredible!”

 “Yeah, but it still doesn’t explain why boy fish jump.”

 “Well, some guys think fish jump to shake sea lice off their bellies. I’ve seen them jump when flies hover over the water’s surface.”

 “It sounds like fish jump for lots of reasons.”

 “I think you’re right, Kurt. We walk and run and jump for lots of reasons too.”

“Do you think fish could jump because it’s fun?”

“It’s quite possible. I think fish like to feel the same zest you feel when you run a race or play baseball. That’s why they swim as fast as they can to raise themselves out of the water.”

“You know, Dad. I love to see fish jump whether they are shaking themselves, spawning, feeding on flies or just having fun.”

“Me too. I think we should all have more fun.”

Just then the second motor sputtered and stopped. Kurt peered over the side of the boat. It couldn’t be another rock. “What is it, Dad?”

Dad shook his head. “I’m afraid our fun is over for the day.”

“What’s wrong this time?”

“Well, this little motor is out of gas. Sorry, Kurt.”

“It’s okay, Dad. I love this place and being here with you—just the two of us. Watching fish jump. I can’t wait to show Mom our catch of the day.”

Dad chuckled pulling up the little motor. Then he gave a paddle to Kurt and the two paddled the boat back to the dock.

Jealous Jenny

Jenny couldn’t wait to tell her mom she won the spelling bee. They worked until 10:30 the night before on the especially hard words.

“Mom! Mom!” She called, dashing through the front door. Jenny looked in the kitchen but Mom wasn’t there. She looked in the garage and the garden, but Mom wasn’t there either.

“Mom! Mom!” she called running through the house.

“What is it, Sweetie?” Mom said from upstairs.

Jenny already knew she must be with her sister, Cammie.

“Oh, hi Jenny,” Mom said. “Just a minute.”

Mom was changing the bandages on Cammie’s foot. Saturday morning Cammie helped Mom with breakfast and accidentally bumped the coffee pot, spilling hot coffee on her foot. She screamed and their cat, Max, bulleted straight up in the air. Mom, Dad and Jenny took Cammie to the Emergency Room and the doctor said her foot had third degree burns. After he treated it, he told Mom she would have to clean the burn and change the dressing every day. Cammie cried every time Mom touched her.

Knowing Mom might be a while; Jenny changed her clothes and started her homework. Then the phone rang.

“Hello,” Jenny said.

“Hi Jenny,” said Grandma. “How is Cammie?”

“She’s crying. Mom is changing her dressing.”

“Oh dear,” said Grandma. “Would you tell Mom I called?”

“Sure, Grandma.”

“I love you, Jenny.”

“I love you too, Grandma.”

When Mom finished changing Cammie’s dressing, she started cooking dinner.

“Mom,” said Jenny.

“Jenny, I can’t talk right now. Can’t you see I’m busy?”

 “Yes, Mom,” Jenny said and a tear rolled down her cheek. Lately it seemed Cammie got all the attention. On her birthday she got the prettiest pink Barbie glasses. Jenny wanted some too, but Mom said she didn’t need glasses. And Cammie got another pair of new shoes.

“Mom, why can’t I have new shoes?” Jenny had asked.

“Jenny, we’ve talked about this. Cammie’s toes go slightly together when she walks, making her shoes wear out faster. You, my dear, have perfect feet and out grow your shoes instead of wearing them out.”

“It’s not fair, Mom. I want new shoes. These are ugly!” Even as Jenny cried she knew Mom and Dad couldn’t afford to buy new shoes for her when her shoes held up so well. Besides Dad had received a 15% cut in pay. Jenny overheard her parents questioning how they would pay house and car payments, doctor and medicine bills.

Jenny helped Mom clean up the kitchen after dinner and wondered if she would ask about the spelling bee. She didn’t. Tears welled up in Jenny’s eyes. When they finished their work, Mom said, “Now do your homework, before time to shower and get ready for bed.” Then she saw Jenny’s tears. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.” Jenny saw Mom stressing over so many things.

“Jenny, I know you don’t cry for nothing,” Mom said. She put her arms around Jenny and together they walked to Jenny’s room. “Now tell me what’s going on. Is it something at school?”

“Mom, it’s nothing. You have other things to worry about.”

“But I love you and I am here for you.”

“It doesn’t feel like it, Mom.”

“What do you mean?”

“Mom, can’t you see? Cammie’s gets new shoes a lot more than I do. She gets pretty pink Barbie glasses. And if she isn’t going to the dentist, she is going to the doctor about one thing or another. I want new shoes and glasses. I want you to love me as much as Cammie.”

“Jenny, do you think I love Cammie more than you?”

“Yes!”

“I don’t, Jenny. Cammie has special needs. Your shoes are perfectly fine. They don’t have holes in them. You can see to do your homework without glasses but Cammie can’t. You don’t have toothaches, but she does. What am I supposed to do?”

Tears spilled down Jenny’s face. “You’re supposed to take care of her, like you do.”

“But how can I make you feel better? I don’t want you to feel left out.”

“Well, for one thing you could ask me how I did in the spelling bee. Don’t you remember how hard we worked last night?”

“Oh Jenny, yes. I remember and I’m sorry. Please forgive me? I’ve been way too busy but I didn’t mean to forget you.”    

Falling into Mom’s arms, Jenny cried big sobs. Comforted, she said, “I forgive you, Mom. I don’t want to be a problem. I just want to tell you I won the spelling bee.”

Brushing her daughter’s hair out of her face, Mom said, “I am so proud of you, Jenny. You are my princess and I love you more than I can say.”

“Thank you, Mom. I’m sorry for being jealous.”

“You’re forgiven, Jenny.  Remember people, even I, will let you down from time to time, but God will never let you down. He loves you more than you can imagine and promises to be with you always. When you feel jealous, you can tell him just as you told me. He understands and will make you feel warm inside from His love.”

“Then that’s what I want to do.”

 “Would you like to start now?”

Jenny bowed her head. “Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for being jealous. Help me to feel your love instead. Amen.”

 Mom smiled and held Jenny close.

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too.”

 * * * * * * *

Have you ever felt like Jenny, that your parents loved your brother or sister more than you? I did.

Did you feel silly feeling that way when your brother or sister had special needs? I did too.

Lord Jesus, help us to know you are always with us, that you love and care about us even when we think we are being left out. Amen.