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Market Day for Maya
Maya and Marco ran ahead of their mother on the dusty path, too excited to hold themselves back. Today was market day, and Maya and her brother always enjoyed visiting the stalls selling fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, and fragrant breads. But this trip included something special--new shoes.
"Marco! Maya!" their mother called.
The kids joined their mother at a table stacked with shoeboxes. As Mama discussed prices with the seller, Marco and Maya searched for their sizes. "Got mine!" Marco shouted while chickens clucked nearby.
Finally, Maya spotted the pair she wanted. "I'd like these," she announced. Mama bargained with the shop owner and then paid for the shoes.
At home, Maya took out her shoes to try them on. But her happiness turned to confusion when she realized she'd gotten two left shoes.
Maya showed the box to her mother. "Two left shoes, Mama! Now I have to wait another week for new shoes--and I don't even know if the seller will exchange this mismatched pair for a real pair!" Besides being frustrated, Maya now felt worried. "What if we spent all that money with no shoes to show for it, Mama? How could God let this happen?"
Mama pulled Maya close. "It's normal when things go wrong to question how God might fix it. But we know God is trustworthy. It's His job to show us how to handle this. Let's do our job."
Maya wrinkled her brow. "Our job?"
"To trust Him. Not to let fear or anger take control, but to keep trusting God," Mama answered.
"Even if I don't get to switch this pair for a new set, God will still help me solve this, right?" Maya asked thoughtfully.
"Yes!" Mama said. "Circumstances won't always turn out how we'd like, but God takes care of His children."
"And I'm God's child, right?" asked Maya. "Because I trust in Jesus, who paid the price for our sins."
Mama nodded. "That's right. Trust Him to provide you with what you need."
Maya closed the shoebox and set it aside, where it would be ready for next week's market day. -Allison Wilson Lee
The Home Run That Wasn’t
Miguel sat on the bench and waited for his turn at bat. His team was losing by just one run, and it was the last inning. If I get up to bat, God can help me get a hit, he thought, so he silently prayed, asking God to let him hit a home run.
There was a runner on third base, but there were already two out when it was Miguel's turn to bat. Confidently, he walked to home plate. The pitcher threw the ball, and Miguel took a swing at it--but he missed. The pitcher threw the ball again, and this time Miguel hit it. To his dismay, the ball popped up, right to the third baseman, who caught it for an easy out to end the game. Miguel threw the bat toward the dugout in disgust.
"I don't understand," said Miguel on the drive home. "I prayed that God would give me a home run, but I didn't even get a hit!"
"You know, Miguel," Dad said, "our prayers can sometimes be selfish. We want what we want, and we want it now. That's not the purpose of prayer."
"Then is a ball game too small a thing to pray about?" Miguel asked.
"Nothing is too small to pray about," said Dad. "Jesus cares about you and wants you to talk to Him about everything, including games you hope to win and the disappointment you feel when you don't. But that doesn't mean He'll always answer your prayers the way you want Him to. Sometimes when we pray, we put the focus on ourselves and what we want instead of God's plan to do what's best and help more people come to Jesus."
"So does that mean I shouldn't ask Him to help me get a hit?" asked Miguel.
"Of course you can," said Dad. "But as you pray, submit to His will, and trust Him to help you do whatever He wants you to. Like be a good sport, for instance."
Miguel grimaced. "I guess I should have prayed for that when I struck out."
"Well, now you can at your next game," said Dad. "Pray for God's will to be done and that you'll remember to show the other team His kindness and love, no matter how the game turns out." -Linda M. Weddle
Holy Spirit Feet
"Wow! Look at all the shoes!" Scarlett exclaimed.
"What kind should we get?"
"Well, I need sneakers for gym," answered her sister Aria. "But those sandals are really cute. I like the colors."
"You're right! I'm definitely going to try those," Scarlett said as she picked up a sandal to look at the buckle more closely.
After the girls tried on several shoes, Mom agreed that Scarlett could get a pair of blue sandals, and Aria found just the kind of gym shoes she needed.
On TV that evening, they saw an ad for the store where they had shopped. The ad showed several pairs of shoes skipping and dancing around to the sound of lively music. Aria laughed. "Look, Scarlett! None of the shoes we saw at the store were running around like that."
Scarlett glanced at the new shoes on her feet. "They are now though!" she declared as she got up and skipped around the room. "See them go?"
Dad laughed. "Scarlett's feet are like the Holy Spirit," he said.
"What?" exclaimed Aria and Scarlett in unison.
Dad grinned. "I was thinking about the verses we read for devotions this morning. They were about the Holy Spirit, remember?" The girls nodded. "Well," Dad continued, "as you pointed out, the shoes at the store didn't skip around or jump from place to place when you saw them. Why didn't they?"
"Because shoes can't move all by themselves," Aria replied.
"Right. They're not alive," said Dad. "But now Scarlett's feet are in her new shoes, so they can move around because her feet put life into them. That's what the Holy Spirit does for us. Without Him, we're all dead in our sins, but when Jesus comes to dwell in our hearts through His Holy Spirit, He makes us alive spiritually."
"And just like there were many different styles of shoes, there are many different kinds of people," added Mom. "No shoe will move without someone moving it, and no person will have spiritual life without God's Holy Spirit living in him."
"Or her," said Scarlett with a grin. "C'mon, Aria. Let's get these new shoes moving some more!" -Lucinda J. Rollings
A Wren in the Sparrows
Lina raised her binoculars, eyes scanning over the marsh for a sign of movement.
"Do you see any birds yet, Justin?" she asked her older brother.
"Not yet," he answered. "Because we're here so early, the birds are just waking up. You have to be patient when you're birdwatching."
Lina sat down on a log beside him to watch the sunrise over the water.
"So how is school going?" Justin asked.
Lina sighed and frowned. "My friends have started making fun of this one girl. They make jokes about her when she's not around. I know I shouldn't laugh, so I just try to be quiet when they talk about her."
"That's hard, Lina." Justin looked off into the distance. He suddenly sat up straight. "Look over there," he whispered, pointing toward a bush. "There's a bunch of birds."
Justin raised his binoculars, and Lina did the same. "Do you know what species they are?" he asked her.
Lina squinted into the lenses, spotting little brown birds hopping around in and out of the brush. "Yeah. They're all sparrows."
"Look carefully," Justin said. "I see one just below that branch that's different."
Lina's eyes lit up. "Yeah! Even though it's a brown bird like the sparrows, it's acting differently. It's bobbing its tail up and down."
"You're right. That's not a sparrow, it's a wren." Justin smiled. "Are you a wren, Lina? You like to sing, and you have brown hair."
She giggled. "Of course not! I'm a person. I don't act like a bird."
Justin lowered his binoculars. "You know, these birds remind me a lot of you and your friends. You're a Christian, right?"
Lina nodded. "Yes."
"Then you can act differently from your friends. You can reach out to that girl and help her see that Jesus cares about her, no matter what your friends are doing."
Lina caught on and smiled. "So I should be like the wren. I should be like Jesus and do what's right even when everyone else around me isn't."
"Right." Justin pointed to the sparrows hopping around the wren as it continued to bob its tail up and down. "When your friends see the love of Jesus in your heart, maybe they'll want to act differently too!" -Abby Ciona
"I like walking in the rain," said Ella as she and her dad headed for the grocery store. Dad held an umbrella, and Ella crowded close to him. Together they sauntered along, comfortable and dry under Dad's big umbrella.
At the store, Ella and her dad ran into the Drews, who were former neighbors. Ella talked with her friend Lana while Dad visited with Lana's parents.
"Have you heard about my brother Jackson?" Lana asked. "He was diagnosed with leukemia."
"Oh, how awful!" said Ella. "I'm really sorry."
"It's been rough," said Lana. "He's only five, so it's hard to see him so sick. He'll probably have to start chemotherapy soon." After talking a little longer, Lana and her parents left.
When Ella and her father started home, Dad held the umbrella over both of them again. "Did you hear about Jackson?" Ella asked.
"Yes," Dad said, shaking his head and moving away from Ella to walk around a big puddle. "That's very sad."
"Dad! I'm getting wet!" said Ella.
"Oops! Sorry, honey." Dad quickly placed the umbrella over her. A moment later he asked, "Why did you get wet when you were away from me?"
"Because it's raining, of course!" replied Ella.
"True--but it's still raining, and you're not getting wet now," said Dad. "Why is that?"
"Because I'm back under your umbrella," Ella said, wondering why Dad was asking about such obvious things.
"That's right, and God is like our umbrella. The Bible calls Him our refuge--our safe place. When trouble rains down on us, He shelters us with His comfort and peace."
"But why doesn't He just keep it from raining bad stuff in the first place?" asked Ella. "Why did He let Jackson get sick?"
"I can't answer that," said Dad. "I don't know why He allowed Jackson to get leukemia. But I do know that Jesus promises to walk with us through life, even when it rains. He tells us to expect trouble in this world, but when it comes, we can stand under the safety of His umbrella. We can trust Him, knowing He's saved us and will one day end our troubles forever."
Ella huddled closer to her dad. "Let's pray Lana and her family will feel God's peace as they stand under His umbrella too." -Holly F. Cepeda
Editor's note: This story deals with terrorism and may not be suitable for some children.
"There," Ian said as he carefully placed the last of his sister's blocks on top of the tower.
Little Kaya grinned, then waved her hand through the tower of blocks. "All fall down!" she yelled as the blocks cascaded around her. She giggled when her brother scrunched up his face, pretending to be sad.
"Ian," Mom said. "Can you come set the table, please?"
As Ian set out dishes, he watched Kaya repeatedly stack blocks on top of one another and then knock them down. "Mom?" he asked. "Where were you on 9/11?"
Mom looked up from cutting tomatoes. "I was in high school. It was twenty years ago today. Did you talk about that at school today?"
"Yeah. Then, when I got home, I turned on the TV and saw videos of the towers falling down, and people crying and looking really scared and confused."
Mom nodded. "It was a sad, scary day. I remember how shocked I was. I never expected to see such a huge and horrible act of hate and violence like that."
"But there's lots of hate and violence in the world," said Ian. "It seems like the news just gets worse and worse."
"You're right," said Mom. "Sadly, hate and violence are part of living in a sinful, fallen world, and they won't go away until Jesus returns and gets rid of sin forever."
"When will that be?" Ian asked.
Mom laughed. "I wish I knew. But unlike what happened to me on 9/11, we shouldn't be caught by surprise. The Bible tells us to watch and be ready."
"How do we do that?" asked Ian.
"Well, first of all, we need to trust Jesus to save us from sin. Then we'll be ready to meet Him when He returns. And then, as we wait for Him, we need to trust Him to help us build the kingdom He started when He came to earth. We need to fight against hate and violence by showing love and sacrifice. We need to tell people what He did for them so they can be ready to meet Him too."
They both looked up when they heard Kaya yell. "All fall down!" she shouted happily, sending blocks scattering.
Mom smiled at Ian. "But Jesus came to build our fallen world back up."
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