Bennie Gets New Socks

Spring rains had arrived. Puddles were everywhere. Bennie put on his rubber boots and jacket. He was going outside to play.

“Please be careful,” Mother admonished, “and don’t go far!”

“Ok,” Bennie answered. Once outside, he looked for the nearest water puddle.

Every little boy loves to jump up and down in a water puddle. Why not? Water splashes in all directions, it makes loud noises and you never know who else might get wet. Jumping in a water puddle is fun!

What every little boy doesn’t know is what happens when the water puddle is deep and muddy and when you jump up and down and one foot gets stuck in the cold, brown mud and the other foot gets stuck in the cold, brown mud and as you take a step, one foot comes out of your boot and with the next step, the other foot comes out of the other boot and there you are standing in the puddle with no boots, and you are cold and wet. Bennie turned to see his boots, still upright, still dry inside, and still stuck in the mud, just like he had taken them off and set them down. Bennie bent down and grabbed the closest boot. He tugged and tugged and slowly, the mud gave way and his first boot was free. Then he grabbed the second boot, tugged and tugged, and slowly, the mud gave way and the second boot was free. The cold water was numbing, and his teeth started to chatter. He couldn’t stop it. He knew he had to move, fast. He was freezing.

Bennie, a boot in each hand, slowly made his way out of the mud hole and up to the grass. He was tippy, but he didn’t fall. He couldn’t feel his feet anymore – he just knew he had to keep going. He decided it might be better if he didn’t go straight home. Instead, he would knock on Mrs. Appleby’s door.

Standing in his muddy socks, boots in hand, Mrs. Appleby got the picture right away.

“Come in, child, before you catch your death of cold,” she said. Mrs. Appleby was old-fashioned, but very kind.

“You sit right here,” she said, pulling up a wooden chair. Within minutes, Mrs. Appleby had his dirty socks off and his feet in a basin of lukewarm water. As the circulation slowly returned, his feet turned red and felt quite itchy. Then it was time for fresh water and soap. Finally, she dried his feet with a clean towel and fitted Bennie with a pair of new hand-knitted socks, in navy blue, his favourite colour. You see, Mrs. Appleby loves to knit – mittens, socks, winter hats and baby outfits, and she always has a supply on hand for the next important occasion. After being served a fresh-baked chocolate cookie and a glass of milk, Bennie, wearing his new blue socks, put his boots back on, thanked Mrs. Appleby and made his way back home. Mrs. Appleby insisted on keeping the old socks to be laundered.

When Bennie got home, Mommy asked, “You were gone a long time. I was about to start looking for you.” “Me too,” said Daddy, “where were you?” “We were worried.”

Bennie had a big story to tell. Mommy and Daddy listened to all of the details. Finally, Daddy bent down, looked at Bennie and said gently, ‘That was very kind of Mrs. Appleby, but you should have come straight home.”

“I was afraid,” Bennie offered, “I didn’t know what you’d say.”

“Well, next time something happens, don’t be afraid. We love you, don’t you know? You can tell us everything that happens. We want to be the first to know. We love you,” said Daddy.

“Ok”, said Bennie, as a tiny tear showed up in the corner of one eye. “I love you, too, Daddy. And I love Mommy, and Wynnie and Jasmine – and everybody I can think of”

High five, Bennie? High five, Daddy!


Ode to Beethoven

Really happy to have met you today, Beethoven.

Not sure you realize it, Beethoven, but you and I have a lot in common.

For example:

We both know a soft spot when we see one

We are loyal to family and friends

We can be trusted

We mind our manners

We love our beds

We especially love being near the wood stove

We are content with life’s simple pleasures

But at the same time:

We love new experiences

We are ready to go out on a moment’s notice. And every day has new and exciting possibilities.

What people don’t know about us, you and me, while we can’t use words, we still love to communicate – as long as we’re given us a chance. After all, non-verbal body language is said to be 93% of effective communication!

And, finally, the one most people overlook, we have ‘big ears and big eyes’. So we understand everything that is going on, and more importantly, we know how to keep a secret. Right!
Looking forward to having you around. For now, you are welcome – anytime.

Gary

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Perspective

Beyond Human Comprehension
.5 billion sperm released per ejaculation, yet only one is needed for fertilization
.9 billion species in the world are catalogued
7  billion people living today, each with unique DNA

46 billion light years is the size of the known universe
93 billion light years is the diameter of the known universe

100 billion galaxies discovered to date
100 billion cells in the human brain
200 billion galaxies likely in the universe

1,000 billion estimated species in the world, 99.9% yet to be catalogued

3,720 billion cells in the human body that work in perfect harmony

Still a Mystery
118 elements, in unique chemical combinations, make up 15% of all ordinary matter in the universe.
Dark matter makes up 85%, the composition of which is unknown

A Bigger Mystery – What Counts Most is You
Only one God created all of the billions of everything, – and all the dark matter.
Only one God created you and knows you
Only one God loves you unconditionally
Only one God sent Jesus to save you
Only one you has ever lived
Only one you can embrace Jesus, who longs to be your Saviour
Only one you can respond to God’s invitation to a loving, lasting relationship
Only one God. Only one you.

Christmas Pageant

“I’m an angel, Daddy!”

“So you are” Daddy shot back. “A perfect angel. And your mother, she dressed you up, so she’s an angel, too!”

“And I’m a shepherd,” proclaimed Bennie.

“Yes, you are, and this year, you have no lines to memorize – just actions,” said Daddy.

Wynnie began rehearsing her angel lines for the Christmas pageant. ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to all men’. At the pageant, she would be joined by two more angels where they would say all their lines together, in unison.

Every year, the children and their parents gathered in the church auditorium to tell the Christmas story, a time when the old story becomes new and fresh again, for everybody. And everybody has a part in the Christmas pageant. This year, Winnie’s new little sister would play the part of Baby Jesus. Wynnie hoped she didn’t cry, but if she did, her Mommy would have to come and pick her up so she would stop crying.

“Did Baby Jesus cry?” Wynnie asked Daddy.

‘I’m sure he did. He had feelings, too, just like you and me”

Inside the church, the windows were decorated with  fir boughs, silver bows and candles.. The tall green spruce tree, decorated with white lights and silver tinsel stood off to the side. Under the tree were wrapped gifts, one for each child with a few extra just in case. Wynnie already understood that when we give gifts at Christmas, we are remembering the greatest gift that could ever be given, the gift of Jesus, given in love by God himself, to the whole world.

Each year, the Christmas pageant seems to have a surprise moment. Something unplanned happens. This year, Daddy made arrangements with Farmer Wayne to bring a mother sheep who he called Dolly and her lamb, Little Dolly to the church. Dolly would be led through the auditorium by Farmer Wayne and he said her lamb would be sure to follow, like in the poem, ‘Mary had a little lamb’. Then the mother sheep and her lamb would go on stage and be part of the pageant. Daddy thought about the risk. What could possibly go wrong?

The pageant, following the story of the birth of Jesus found in Luke Chapter Two, was moving along perfectly – Mary and Joseph arriving at the inn and being turned away by the inn keeper shaking his head, ‘No’,  then everyone enthusiastically singing ‘No Room in the Inn.’

Then the scene shifting to the three shepherds on the Judean hills at night, with Farmer Wayne dressed up and holding onto Dolly, with Little Dolly close by. When Wynnie and the angels appear under bright lights and proclaim to the shepherds together, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men’, the shepherds fall back, in amazement. Then the lights go out and the angels disappear. At that moment,  Farmer Wayne loses his grip on Dolly and she disappears, with her lamb, Little Dolly – into the darkness.

In the next scene, when the stage lights come back on, Mary is sitting on a wooden bench, Joseph standing beside her and Baby Jesus, wrapped in a pale blue blanket, is lying on a raised bed of first-cut green hay.

Crossing the stage in partial darkness, on their way to Bethlehem manger to see the baby, the narrator announces that “the shepherds ponder what they had seen and heard and what they will see when they get there”. Farmer Wayne is distracted, thinking about Dolly and her lamb, Little Dolly. Where are they?

The aroma of first-cut green hay is irresistible. Dolly arrives at the manger first, and with her lamb in tow, immediately starts eating – eating the bed of hay, on which Baby Jesus is sleeping. The audience is captivated and delighted by this unplanned turn of events. As the shepherds make their way across the stage, surround the cradle and kneel in worship, the audience stand and sing ‘Away in a Manger.’ Dolly and Little Dolly keep munching, and Jasmine sleeps on.

Wrapped gifts and plates of home-made goodies were given and received. While Dolly and Little Dolly provided a lighter moment, the celebration of the birth of Jesus and a wonderful Christmas pageant were enjoyed by all. Jasmine slept like a baby right through.

That night, Daddy asked, “Do you want to sleep like a baby tonight? I do. Jasmine is already asleep.”

“First, let’s pray and give thanks for Baby Jesus, God’s precious gift of Himself to all who will receive him.”

“Good night, Wynnie, Love you!

Good night, Bennie, Love you, too!”

“Good night, Daddy. Love you, too!” chimed two happy, sleepy voices.

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Christmas

“When can we have Christmas, Daddy?” Wynnie asked. “Can we have it tomorrow? I want to see what’s under the tree for me.”

“Well, we could. But most families wait for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Some families have to celebrate early in order to be all together.  You know that Christmas only comes once a year. Like your birthday, it only comes once a year. Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. We celebrate Christmas when we give gifts to each other. And we decorate the Christmas tree and maybe the whole house – with lights, snowflakes, and tinsel. Then we wrap the gifts and put them under the tree, And then we wait for Christmas.” Daddy paused.

Wynnie was already tucked into bed.  ‘More,” she asked, “more story.” Daddy paused because he was thinking back, a long way back, when he was a little boy, waiting for Christmas.

“Can you wait for Christmas, Wynnie?” Daddy asked.

“Sort of,” she whispered.

“Sort of?  You mean its kind of hard to wait, right? he offered.

“Yes,” Wynnie confided.

“Can I tell you my story? Once when I was a little boy,  I couldn’t wait for Christmas. I begged my mother to let me have my gift early. Back then, we only got one gift. Eventually, my mother gave in, and three days before Christmas, I got my gift. I tore off the wrapping and in my hands, I held a miniature red Massey-Harris tractor. I loved my tractor and started to play farmer right away.

Three days later, Christmas arrived. My whole family gathered around the Christmas tree and everyone was given a gift – except me. I cried. My mother explained that I had already been given my gift, but it didn’t seem to matter. I felt left out of all the excitement and fun. After that, I determined to wait for Christmas. I would never spoil another Christmas again.”

“I can wait, Daddy,” Wynnie offered. “I  won’t spoil Christmas.

“Wise choice,” responded Daddy. “The important things in life are worth waiting for.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Good night, Daddy”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found

“What makes it fly, Daddy?” Bennie asked.

“You mean what keeps it up? Well, actually, air keeps it up.”

Daddy pointed to the shape of the wings, and explained “When air passes over the wings, it creates an airfoil, which causes the wings to rise. He raised his hand to demonstrate, palm up. When the propeller turns, air passes over the wings very quickly. When that happens, the airplane rises. It flies. Kind of amazing, isn’t it Benny?”

Daddy and Bennie had been busy every spare minute, building a model airplane from a kit –  following the plans and using balsa wood, glue, tissue paper, paint and decals. Daddy explained “When the tiny .042 cc engine and fuel tank are mounted, and the radio control system is installed, our little plane will be able to fly – higher and higher. And it will always come back, because we have the controls, right?”

Daddy was as excited as Bennie to be part of the project. For Daddy, building a airplane was doing something his father did as a boy, many years before. But there was one big difference – Papa’s airplane was a free flight airplane and had no radio control.

That evening, after dinner, Wynnie and Bennie gathered  on the sofa to hear Daddy tell the story about Papa’s airplane, the one he built when he was a boy.

“Tell us the story, Daddy.” Wynnie and Bennie chimed in unison.

“Okay,” said Daddy. “Here’s the story. When Papa’s family visited their cousins in Michigan, Papa came home with a gift, a tiny airplane engine. Then he saved up enough money  to buy a model airplane kit, just like ours. Papa spent all his spare time building his airplane. He didn’t hurry because he enjoyed it so much, He didn’t want it to end.  Have you ever done something that you enjoyed so much, you didn’t want it to end?  It’s called ‘enjoying the journey’ and sometimes it’s as much fun as getting there, right?”

“Well, back to our story. The day finally came to fly the airplane. After school, Papa took the airplane, fuel and starting battery over to the park for a test flight. When everything was ready, he spun the propeller. The engine started on the first spin and the propeller roared to life. Then Papa disconnected the battery, stood up, pointed the airplane upwards at a slight angle, gave a gentle push and let it go. The airplane took off, level at first, then climbed higher and higher, in ever wider circles. Papa stood in silence watching, waiting. The timer was supposed to cut the fuel after a minute or so, then engine would stop, the plane would circle back to earth and gently land. But, no, the timer failed, the engine kept running and the plane kept climbing – higher and higher. As the brisk west winds took hold, the little plane was carried away – further and further. Papa’s little plane became a dot in the sky and finally it was gone from view.

Papa ran home to tell his daddy what happened. He said they should get in the car and drive in the direction where Papa last saw his airplane. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. They drove up and down the side roads. Nothing. The little plane was lost.

Papa decided to call the newspaper and tell his story. Maybe whoever found the airplane would read the story and return it. The story was printed, and no one called.

Months passed. One day, Papa was passing the second-hand store downtown. He looked in the store window and could hardly believe his eyes – his lost airplane was in the window, for sale. Papa went inside explained to the storekeeper how he was flying his airplane after school, and how it flew higher and higher, and how the wind had carried it away. And now, there it was in the store window, and could he have it back?”

“Yes, you can have it,” the storekeeper explained, “the price is $5. If you want it, I would be happy to sell it to you.”

“Disappointed, Papa left the store determined to save up so he could buy back his airplane.

Did you know that God made each of us ? We are His. We belong to Him. But the human race chose to wander away from God.  We got lost. The Bible calls this separation sin. God wants us back into His family, but the price of sin is very high.  In fact, only the life and death of Jesus is sufficient to pay the price of sin. So when Jesus dies on the cross, He paid the price to buy us back. This is called redemption. When we trust Jesus to redeem us, we are restored to the family of God. We are truly in His care, once again. Isn’t that wonderful?

Let’s pray and thank Jesus for paying the price, for redeeming us, and for restoring us to the family of God.

Time for bed, you two.

Good night, Wynnie.

Goodnight, Bennie.”

“Good night, Daddy,” chimed two tiny voices. “We love you.”

Memory verse: I Peter 1:18 “For you were redeemed, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus” (Paraphrase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wynnie’s Winter Picnic

“I love a winter picnic,” said Daddy.

“Why Daddy?” Wynnie asked.

“No bugs. They have all gone to sleep. And lots of nice birds. There’s one now!”

Chickadee, dee, dee. “Hear that, Wynnie. That’s a chickadee. It sings it’s own name.

Do you see it, there in the birch tree?”

“Can we feed it now, Daddy?” Wynnie asked.

“Let’s wait ’til we have lunch. Maybe it will come right to the picnic table.”

The first snow of the season had fallen overnight, just a few inches. As the late morning sun broke through the clouds, the sky turned blue and the sun, warmer.  The silent woods extended an invitation. Come and see what’s here. Rabbit, squirrel and deer tracks in the snow. Tinier tracks of a vole or deer mouse. Winter birds like cardinals, blue jays and chickadees, each with their own special call, size and colour.

The picnic lunch, planned ahead, was packed in a backpack that Daddy carried. Inside were hot dog buns, wieners, ketchup, mustard and relish, plates, cutlery, some napkins and two containers of fruit juice, one apple and one grape.

“This is just like home, Daddy,” said Wynnie. “Mommy gives me hot dogs, too.”

“Just one difference here, Wynnie. We have to build a fire first, so we can roast our wieners and toast our buns. Do you want to help me make a camp fire?”

“First, we need some dry wood. You start by looking for some dry, dead twigs. There’s a birch limb over there with dry twigs. I’ll make a spot in the snow here where we can start the fire.”

Daddy scraped the snow back with his boots to make a bare patch for the fire. With the dry twigs that Wynnie gathered, he made a small pyramid ready to be lit. Daddy struck the match, and the cold snuffed it out right away. He tried again and the same thing, the match went out.

“It’s always harder to start a fire in the winter,” he said to Wynnie.

Adding some paper brought from home, Daddy tried again. This time, the paper caught fire, then the twigs caught fire. Daddy added bigger twigs and then some small branches. Soon the fire was big enough to start roasting and toasting. By this time, the camp fire was throwing a nice heat as well.

“Can I put these on the fire?” asked Wynnie. There was Wynnie standing with an armful of wet wood. Daddy appreciated her help, but he knew that wet wood wouldn’t help to keep the fire going. In fact, wet wood could put the fire out. Daddy gently explained that wet wood wouldn’t be a good idea

“Let me try,” asked Wynnie, please?”  “Well, you watch what happens,” Daddy replied. So Daddy took a piece of wet wood and put it on the fire. As the steam rose and the fire sputtered, Daddy said, “See, Wynnie? The fire nearly went out. So that’s not a good idea. Wynne slowly dropped her armful of wet wood, and said, “I’m hungry. Can we eat now?”

The winter picnic was soon ready to be served on the picnic table as the heat from the outdoor fire reached two happy people. Then Daddy spread the sunflower seeds on the other end of the table. It was like all the chickadees in the neighborhood heard the announcement ‘Dinner is ready’ and flew in to enjoy their winter picnic.

That night, as Wynnie was being tucked into bed, Daddy wanted to talk about the winter picnic. They talked about the chickadees that came to the table. Wynnie asked if they could go again. Daddy said he liked building the fire.

“Yes, we can go again.” After a pause, Daddy said “Do you remember, Wynnie, when we put wet wood on the fire? What happened?”

“I saw lots of steam and the fire, it sputtered, but it didn’t go out” she offered.

‘That’s right.” said Daddy, “but the fire nearly went out.  And when you or I get cross or upset, it’s like putting wet wood on a warm fire. It doesn’t help. It spoils the fire. Love is like a fire. Love is warm, happy, and caring.  In fact, we all need love to be truly happy. So we never put wet wood on a warm fire.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Good night, Daddy.”