Mount Hope – Chapter Four

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Jaz had set out for a mid-morning walk, enjoying a mild sunny day in November, something he had decided to do every day, since he had received the results of his cardio tests. He was thankful that he hadn’t needed surgery or medication and he wanted to keep it that way. Junia didn’t know about the cancer test or the bump on the back of his neck and he wanted to keep it that way too. When Dr. Paul recommended surgery to remove the melanoma and some follow-up treatments, Jaz had said he would think about it and he was still thinking about it a month later. Thinking about the what ifs and he liked none of the what ifs except one, and that was, what if the bump is nothing to worry about. Again, as he had started the habit of doing during his morning walk, he had a little talk with God. He had already had his coffee, morning Bible reading and prayer time, something he had already been in the habit of doing for many years, but lately he savored the time alone with God while walking.

Father God, I’m thinking that with all that’s going on in our family now, Caitlin, Ryan and the kids needing our help, and the holidays coming soon, I’m thinking to simply commit that little bump to you, asking you, from your throne in heaven, just say the word, heal me. And if this pleases you Father, grant peace. If you grant healing and peace, then no more fretting about the bump. It’s done. And so now, I’ll be quiet now and listen.

Jaz had reached the turning point in his walking route, time to turn back toward home. He observed the beautiful yellow and orange oak leaves falling and blowing in the breeze, a squirrel running along a tree branch, bright pink mums bordering a hedge along someone’s porch, another walker with their dog on the other side of the street, and the wonderful sound of school children at playground recess. His heart was overwhelmed with joy, awareness of God’s presence and God’s peace. He rested his swaying hands in the pockets of his jacket and then felt a card, which he pulled out and read. It was Farmer Johnson’s business card with instructions for submitting a bid for the property at Oldfather Lake. He had thought about bidding, but without enough certainty to follow through. Now he felt God’s peace to go ahead with it.

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Caitlin and Baby Ava had just completed their morning routine, bottle feeding, burping and bathing. Baby Ava was dressed in a new flannel gown with matching booties and a bow placed in her hair, while Ryan tidied the living room, putting away toys, fluffing pillows and putting the dogs out to the back yard. They were expecting Charlotte, their social worker, who was right on time, for a meeting she had requested. She had already met with the boys earlier in the week and this was follow-up while they were at school.

Charlotte seemed to always smile and stay as positive as possible even with delicate, difficult situations. Today she wanted to present an opportunity for Caitlin and Ryan to adopt all four children. Since, the natural parents would be in prison for at least ten years, perhaps longer, they had given up custody of the children so that now they could be adopted. Charlotte was excited, eyes sparkling with joy when she said, “The children are doing so well with you and it would be wonderful to keep them all together.” Then she looked at Ava and with baby talk said, “Isn’t that right Ms. Ava, you want to stay with your big brothers too.” Caitlin looked at Ryan and then Ryan looked at Charlotte, with a puzzled look he asked. “You know I’m unemployed, don’t you?”

Charlotte raised her eyebrows and slowly replied. “Yes, I think I understand your concern. Keep in mind that there is a waiting period. That’s for the natural parents, if they want to change their mind. However, you can proceed to do the paperwork so that when the waiting period is over, then the adoption is finalized. Hopefully, by then you would have already been employed. Anyway, you don’t have to agree today, you can take time to think about it. Just wanted to keep you up to date with what’s going on.”

Caitlin smiled lovingly at baby Ava as she shifted her to her lap to give her arm a rest and then looked at Ryan and back at Charlotte. “We’ve already discussed the possibility of adoption. The kids have been talking with us about their visit with you…their parent’s incarceration. You know it’s been difficult for them. We encouraged them to talk, express their feelings…we try to comfort them, pray with them, teach them about God. Definitely, would adopt all of them. We had no idea it could be this soon.”

Ryan smiling in agreement added, “Yes, we’ve already promised God to take care of them, all four. So we’re trusting God to provide.”

Charlotte chuckled as she reached for her bag and pulled out some documents. “I know, I knew you would, that’s why I went ahead and prepared the paperwork for us to do today.”

Although it was true that Caitlin and Ryan trusted God for provision, the Jaspers had been sending extra help, not because they were asked, but when they felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting, they sent gift cards to help with clothes, groceries and the extras, for some of the wants that were not actually a necessity. Now Caitlin hoped that her parents would not feel pressured financially with the news of their adoption of not just one, but four children. But when Caitlin shared the news, if there was any pressure felt, there was certainly no evidence of it, or any hint of assumed financial obligation from her parents, the Grands were only ecstatic, proud to almost be real grandparents to four children.

However, they refrained from sharing the legal aspect of the adoption with the children for now. Caitlin and Ryan wanted to focus on being good parents, the best parents ever, day by day, for as many days as they were given by God. They had encouraged the boys to be honest with their feelings of sorrow, or if they had any questions to not feel embarrassed to ask. However, they had not expected them to do so in the school classroom. The youngest, Corby, who attended first grade had received an assignment from his teacher, an art project, drawing pictures for a picture storybook, A Day in the Life of (Child’s Name).They were to draw a picture of something significant, an eventful day in their life, twelve eventful days from the past year. One of the pictures Corby drew was a police car taking his parents away. Some of the children seated next to Corby asked him about the picture. He explained that his parents had been arrested and taken to jail by the police.

One child pressed Corby for more details. “But why, Corb, why?”

Corby turned red in the face from embarrassment. “They ran a red light.”

Corby’s answer seemed to satisfy his friends, but afterward a few of the children made fun of Corby and began to bully him after school. Corby had been in the habit of walking with them after school for a few blocks until he could meet up with his brothers, Denver and Benjie, who attended another school close by. One day, his brothers discovered the bullying and became angry, which led to a fight, which then led to Denver being accused of being the bully. It took several days for all the details to be sorted out and for the boys who had bullied Corby to admit the truth.  The boys became very discouraged, especially Corby who began thinking up excuses for not going to school. One day, after he had parted from Denver and Benjie, he waved goodbye, and instead of going on to school he turned around and went back home and hid in the garage. His planned seemed to work fine until the school called about his absence, while at the same time Jazzy had sniffed him out in the garage, barking until Ryan came to check on him.

But Caitlin and Ryan had compassion on Corby. Their scolding was not condemnation but letting him know how worried they would have been if Jazzy hadn’t found him. Then Caitlin made hot chocolate for all while Ava napped. Ryan retrieved a book from the book shelve, a book of children’s bible stories, and while they sipped their hot chocolate, he read to Corby about David and Goliath.

David, a young shepherd who guarded his father’s sheep, was sent by his father to check on the progress of his brothers in the King’s battle with the Philistines. He sent a gift of bread and cheese with David to give to the King and while visiting with his eldest brother he learned about the giant, Goliath, who had stood against King Saul and his men. None of the King’s men were able to overcome him. But David in righteous indignation, said ‘Who is this giant who defies the armies of the living God.’ Then David offered to go up to fight against the giant, explaining he was not afraid, because many times he had rescued a lamb from a bear or lion. He was confident that God would help him fight against the giant in the same way he had helped him before. David selected five smooth stones and took his slingshot and his staff because this was how he was accustomed to caring for his sheep. The giant made fun of David and cursed him, but David replied that he came in the name of God, the God of heaven’s armies. Then he calmly took a single stone and with the slingshot, he struck the giant’s forehead causing him to fall, then David took the giant’s own sword and cut off his head.”

Corby wiped the chocolate off the corners of his mouth with the back of his hand. “Wow! Is that real?”

Ryan chuckled. “This is a true story from the Bible.” He took a sip of his hot chocolate made with coffee. “So Corb, why do you think David was a hero? Was he bigger than the giant?”

“Uh, no.”

“Was David’s weapon bigger, better than the giant’s?

Corby wide-eyed said, “A little sling shot compared to a sword…no way…I don’t think so.”

Ryan continued with his reasoning questions. “Was David just lucky?”

“Some kind of lucky.”

Ryan chuckled again. “Remember in the story how David said that God had helped him rescue a lamb from a bear or a lion.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah…David knew God would help.”

“That’s right, David’s confidence was not in himself, but in God alone. So Corb, the reason I chose this story was to help you in your situation. Seems like you think you have some giants in your life, right?”

Corb leaned his face on his forearm and frowned. “Yeah.”

“Would you like God to help you with your giants?”

“I guess so…But, I’m just a little first grader, I…I mean, I don’t want to chop off anyone’s head, but if I could…if I could…”

Ryan helped him out with his words. “If you could not be afraid.”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Let’s pray together, ask God to help you have courage with friends at school.”

Ryan took Corby’s hand and bowed his head. Then Corby straitened up and bowed his head.

“Father God, here we are, me and Corby, we have some giants we need your help with. We’re asking for courage, courage for Corby to face the children at school, not to be arrogant, prideful or quarrel, but help him to forgive and have confidence in you God, help him to be aware of your presence, to know that you are always with him, so he doesn’t need to fear, because you are always right beside him. In Jesus’ name we pray.”

Ryan looked up at Corby. “If you agree with our prayer, say amen.”

Corby’s eyes popped wide with a smile. “Amen.”

“Corby let’s start having a prayer huddle like this before school every morning, even with your brothers. What do think? Got courage?”

“Yep!” Then Ryan reached out to Corby with a high five.

(To continue reading: Return to Menu + Select Chapter Five)

This story is a fictionalization. Any mention of historical events, people and places are used fictitiously and any likeness to actual events, places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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