With purpose Jas had set out for a mid-morning walk–something he had decided to do every day since receiving 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. During his visit to the doctor’s office Dr. Paul had inquired about his success in giving up smoking. Jas admitted he still “occasionally” smoked cigarettes.
Jas proudly admitted, “Just three times a day.”
Dr. Paul gasped with exaggeration to make his point. “Far too much. I implore you to quit using all tobacco–immediately!”
Jas cleared his throat thinking of how to respond. Just the thought of quitting even just three cigarettes made him cough causing Dr. Paul to frown.
Dr. Paul left for a moment then returned with a booklet which he handed to Jas. Somberly he looked at Jas eye to eye. “Promise to read this and follow the steps. Replace that nasty tobacco habit with good habits.”
How could he refuse when confronted with good common sense? Meekly he agreed. “I promise I will try.”
Dr. Paul smiled with triumph. “Good! I trust we will hear good news of success on your next visit.”
As promised Jas read the booklet and this time he was determined to succeed. This is the first step–determination with good reasons to quit. He thought of several good reasons–clean air–clean lungs–save money.
Jas proceeded to the next step–replace the bad habit–the time of day–the use of hands and mouth for tobacco with something better–something good. Instead of smoking in the morning he would enjoy a flavorful aromatic coffee and a walk after breakfast. Instead of smoking in the afternoon after lunch he would chew gum–flavorful or fun bubblegum. In the evening instead of smoking after dinner he would work on a wood carving project.
And the final phase to give up smoking–be patient (it takes several weeks to change from a bad habit to a good habit–never give up–not even for just one puff.
As Jas started the “good habit” of walking in the morning he had a little talk with God. He had already enjoyed chai latte–a new “good habit” along with something he had already been in the habit of doing for many years–Bible reading and prayer in the morning. And lately he savored the time alone with God while walking.
Father God–Thank you for helping me–giving your holy spirit for strength and patience to quit smoking–diligence in walking and wood carving–good things I enjoy doing…You know everything and you know I’ve been thinking about bidding on that house at Oldfather Lake…I commit this to you God…trusting your guidance and your will be done…
As Grand Jas reached the turning point in his walking route he gazed at the simple beauty of the neighborhood–yellow and orange oak leaves swirling in the breeze–a squirrel running along a tree branch–bright pink mums bordering a hedge along a porch–a walker with their scruffy dog on the other side of the street and the wonderful sound of children at the school playground. His heart full of joy, he continued walking at a more leisurely pace, resting his swaying hands in the pockets of his jacket and then he felt a card. He pulled it out to see that it was Farmer Johnson’s business card with instructions for submitting a bid for the property at Oldfather Lake. He had often thought about bidding, but without enough certainty to follow through. Yet now he felt encouraged by God’s peace to go ahead with it.
Caitlin and Baby Ava had just completed their morning routine of bottle feeding, burping and bathing. Dressed in a new flannel gown, matching booties and a bow in her hair, baby sister was ready for visitors. Ryan tidied the living room, putting away toys, fluffing pillows and putting the dogs out to the back yard. They were expecting Charlotte, the children’s advocate, 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 a follow-up meeting 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. As it turned out, the natural parents would be in prison for at least ten years, perhaps longer and they had given up custody of the children so that they could be adopted.
Charlotte’s eyes sparkled with joy. “The children are doing so well with you and it would be wonderful to keep them all together.” Then she looked at little 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 and 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 will be 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…it’s been difficult for them. We encourage them to talk…express their feelings…we try to comfort them, pray with them, teach them about God. Definitely, we want to 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. 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 ecstatic, proud to be real grandparents to four children.
However, the Rogers did not share the legal details of adoption with the children. Caitlin and Ryan focused 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 about anything to not feel embarrassed to ask.
Corby’s new parents encouraged him when he worked on an art project at school. His first grade teacher had assigned each student to draw pictures for a picture storybook, A Day in the Life of (Child’s Name).They were to draw twelve pictures of something significant–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 older brothers, 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. During the process the boys became very discouraged, especially Corby who began thinking up excuses for not going to school.
One day, after he had parted from his older brothers, instead of going on to school he turned around and went back home and hid in the garage. His plan 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 baby sister napped. Ryan brought a book of children’s bible stories to the table 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 a 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 sipped his hot chocolate made with coffee. “So Corb, why do you think David was a hero? Was he bigger than the giant?”
“Was David’s weapon bigger or 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!” Corby continued to ponder this while sipping hot chocolate.
“Do you think David had confidence in God–that God would help as he had in the past?”
Corby nodded in agreement. “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 kid—and the kids at school aren’t giants—if I could just—you know just not…”
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 both bowed their heads.
“Father God, here we are, Corby and I. 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 open with a smile. “Amen!”
“Corby let’s start having a prayer huddle like this before school every morning and with your brothers too. What do think? Got courage?”
“Yep!” Then Ryan reached out to Corby with a high five.
This story is a fictionalization. Although, historical events, people and places are used fictitiously, details of the time period have been portrayed as accurately as possible for authenticity. All characters are fictional unless otherwise noted. If an actual historical character is mentioned an endnote with citation will be included.
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