Even though we left in the morning. It was pitch black as we drove to the airport. The storm was fierce, the roads were icy, and we held our breath most of the journey

That Sunday morning, the church service was all about joy. Kimmy danced and sang with Kids Outpour onstage while Jake got his first chance at playing bass guitar with the music team. Wes upped the volume from the controls in the sound booth.  Everybody was feeling pretty happy when Pastor Mike began enthusiastically talking about what real joy meant. There was a lot of excitement in the car as the family drove over for Sunday dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s home. To top off the meal, dessert was to feature pieces of Almond Joy bars in hot fudge syrup over homemade ice cream.

At the end of the meal, as the table was being cleared, Grandpa Myers began to talk about his favorite joy story. He cleared his throat and began, “It was a dark and stormy morning, December 2, 1992, when Great Grandma Myers, Grandma, your Aunt Karen, and I piled into a limousine headed to LaGuardia Airport where we would catch the long flight to Texas for your dad’s college graduation. A week before, your aunt Karen had flown in from Korea where she had been helping a pastor. My dad, your great grandpa, was sick in a nursing home in upper New York State, so he couldn’t make the trip.

“Even though we left in the morning. It was pitch black as we drove to the airport. The storm was fierce, the roads were icy, and we held our breath most of the journey. The winds were so strong that the airport had put masking tape on the windows to keep them from shattering with the wind gusts.”

“That must have been scary,” said Wes.

“Yes, it was, but we finally got to the airport safely, where we met your great grandmother. Many of the flights were delayed. We waited for hours and hours until they finally canceled our flight till the next day, Sunday. There was no chance we would ever make the graduation in time, since we’d still be in the air while your dad graduated. So, tearfully, with heavy hearts, we called your dad and sobbed we wouldn’t be there for his big event. We sadly returned to Great Grandmother’s place in New York City and went to bed. The next morning, Great Grandmother suggested we walk a few blocks to Queens Lutheran Church.” 

“Weren’t the horses and cart available?” asked Jake.

“No, silly, that was long before this story,” said Wes.

Grandpa continued, “Great Grandmother thought Aunt Karen might enjoy going to that church since it had both English and Korean services. After the English service, the pastor got into a conversation with Aunt Karen who mentioned her recent missions trip to Korea. She told him she was looking for a teaching job. Pastor said, ‘You should apply to our school.’

“After lunch, we left for the Korean language service. The Korean pastor made sure Aunt Karen left with a teacher’s application.  

“In the early hours the next morning, the phone woke me. A voice asked, ‘Is Edith there?’ That was my mom, your great grandma’s first name. The nursing home said her husband, Great Grandpa Myers, had died. My mom trusted God and responded ‘The Lord gives, the Lord takes, blessed is the name of the Lord.’ Another sadness to our weekend of disappointments. This was not turning out at all to be the joyful graduation weekend we had looked forward to.”

“You must have felt really bad,” said Kimmy.

“Yes, we did, but see what happened next, because God’s kindness was at work. Since we had missed the trip to Texas, I was there to help my heartbroken mom drive up to northern New York where the nursing home was. God again was at work when later, Queens Lutheran School called Aunt Karen, asking her to come in for a job interview. At the meeting they asked if she could begin teaching the following month. She agreed.  Then, one of Great Grandmother’s renters, moved away. That made an apartment two blocks away available for Aunt Karen’s new home! God provided both a job and a place for Aunt Karen to live. None of that would have happened if we had been able to make the trip to Texas.”

Grandma added, “A lot of that weekend was both scary and sad. There were lots of tears both at missing the trip for your dad’s graduation and also the passing of your great grandpa. But God had your grandpa exactly at the right place to help out your great grandma. We would have never imagined that weekend would also lead to the beginning of Aunt Karen’s greatest joy of her life, her teaching career.  I’m reminded of the verse that says, ‘Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.’ (Psalm 30:5b). In other words, life can be really sad and things might not go at all the way we had planned, but in the end, God has at heart what is best for us: real joy that lasts for eternity.”

Dad said, “Why don’t I pray? Lord, I was so disappointed that weekend when my family couldn’t be at my college graduation.  But thank You, that You never forgot us.  My dad was there to help out Great Grandma when Great Grandpa went home to heaven and You provided the introduction so that my sister could begin her wonderful teaching career at the Korean School.  You even provided an apartment Karen could afford.  Thank You that even when we feel disappointed and all the joy is sucked out of our lives, there’s always more joy waiting for us.  Amen.”

Kimmy asked, “I’m pretty joyful. Any more of that dessert still available?”

And all the family said, “Amen!”


  • What are some things that make you sad?
  • What are some things that bring you joy that lasts a long time?
  • What were some of the things that were sad in this story?
  • How did God bring about good while those things were sad?
  • What kind of joy does God offer us?

Prayer: each family member tell about something they are thankful for.  Someone in the family pray and thank God for each of these things and for Who God is.


We were having the best time. Then all of a sudden, just as I was about to take the last bite, I saw this huge ugly worm right where I was about to bite.

Sunday dinner at Grandpa and Grandma Myers was always a noisy, joyous time with five adults and three kids.  Everyone was excited to be together; sharing stories of the previous week. As they all dug into Grandma’s meatloaf, mashed potatoes and Jell-O salad, brother Jake couldn’t wait to share his story of the HUGE fish that unfortunately got away!

“It was the biggest one I’ve ever seen.” he announced. “Even bigger than the one that Tony caught last summer! I almost had it in, when the line broke.”

“Seems like that happens to you a lot,” Wes added. “I can’t remember when you actually brought a fish in!”

All through Jake’s fish tale, Kimmy was bouncing up and down in her chair waiting for her turn to talk about her adventure.  “It looks like you’re pretty anxious to tell us what you’ve been up to, Kimmy,” Mom said. “What’s been going on”?

“Oh, she probably just dressed up like a princess again.” Jake wisecracked.

“Nope!” Kimmy answered. “It’s about me and Sally.”

“Sally and I,” Mom corrected.

“Yeah, Sally and I had the best time. We were going to ride our bikes to the pool, but it was such a hot day we decided not to pedal that far.  And then Sally remembered that big old apple tree by the side of the road with branches just right for climbing.”

“Isn’t that tree behind a fence?” Dad asked.

“Yeah,” Kimmy answered, “But the fence is so old and rusty any kid can climb right through it. So that’s what we decided to do. We almost changed our minds, though, when a whole bunch of boys came.  They were loud and punching each other, but then they just kept moving.”

“Weren’t you scared of the boys?” Nana Ahlseen asked.  

“Nah, they’re from our school. They’re always noisy.  But me and Sally could’ve beat ‘em up easy!”

Jake added, “Yeah, that Sally’s tough. She knocked out Billy Green’s tooth last year.”

“That tooth was just a baby tooth and ready to fall out anyway,” Wes laughed.

“We’re getting a little off track here,” Dad said. “Let’s let Kimmy finish her story but maybe with a little less violence.”

“Anyway,” said Kimmy, “We got there, climbed through the fence, and got up the tree into the top branches.  It was nice and cool up there after being hot and tired.  So, we just sat there eating apples and talking about all kinds of stuff and planning what to wear on the first day back to school. The apples were bright red and juicy. We were having the best time. Then all of a sudden, just as I was about to take the last bite, I saw this huge ugly worm right where I was about to bite. Sally screamed and I threw the apple on the ground! That was so disgusting!”

“It could have been worse,” Grandpa observed.  “You could have found half a worm!”

Everybody burst out laughing, except Kimmy.  “I don’t get it,” she said.  “Why would half a worm be worse?”

“Don’t you see, Sweetheart?” Grandma asked. “That would mean you had swallowed the other half!”

“EEEWWWW gross!” Kimmy screamed.  “I’m never ever going to climb that apple tree again and I’m never ever going to eat another apple!”

Mom set a warm apple pie on the table and said, “You might want to think again about eating apples.  I’ve looked carefully and I’m pretty sure there are no worms in this pie.”

Nana Ahlseen smiled.  “You never really know what’s inside, do you? That reminds me of a verse I read this morning.  It says that God can see inside the hearts and minds of people.  I know we can have some pretty awful thoughts.  The Bible says: ‘For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.’ (Hebrews 4:12) In other words, there are no worms, no bad things that God can’t see, even those things hidden deep inside our hearts.”

Dad said, “Why don’t we pray about that?  Dear Lord, thanks so much that You can see deep inside of us, even the things we try to hide from you.  Please, may the verses we learn in the Bible show us the truth, even the truths that aren’t very pleasant, so that we can daily get right with You.”

Mom placed a big slice of pie covered with vanilla ice cream at Kimmy’s place.

“Mmmmmmm, there are no worms in this apple pie and there aren’t any worms in the ice cream either,” said Kimmy as apple and ice cream dribbled down her chin.

And all the family said, “Amen!”


  • What was inside the apple?
  • What can God see inside of our minds and hearts?
  • What are some things that people try to keep hidden?
  • How can we have forgiven the bad things we try to hide?

Challenge: spend some quiet time with God, asking forgiveness for those things we have tried to hide from Him.


‘l gave you away so that you could have a better life.’

Everyone had heard bits and pieces of what had happened, but Wes wanted to tell the story while they ate.  That Sunday, Nana Ahlseen decided to bring dinner, choosing a recipe in honor of the country where Wes was born. Kimmy took a bite and asked, “What are we eating? I can see beef, onions, tomatoes and boy is it spicy!  The best part of this dish is that it is mixed up with French fries!”

“It’s Lomo Saltado, one of the best-known dishes from Peru,” Nana said.

“It’s almost as good as when I got to eat it during our trip,” commented Wes. “l always loved it when we would go out to eat at El Serrano in Lancaster. I never thought eating the food in Peru would be even better. Who knew that a trip I was so nervous about, could turn out so great! Mom and Dad, you always told me I was adopted when I was 18 months old, but I don’t remember anything from when I was a baby in Peru.”

Mom asked, “Wes, what did I always tell you about your mother in Peru?”

“She loved me so much she wanted me to have a better life. Mom, what kind of love did you call it?”


“Unconditional love, just like Jesus loves us.” Mom smiled broadly. “Who imagined that we would get the chance to go back to Peru and meet Wes’ relatives? God moved so many people to make it all possible.  Manuel, the owner of El Serrano, was making improvements to the restaurant and brought in a carpenter from Peru. Manuel wanted him to meet Wes, so we took Wes and his birth certificate over to the restaurant. Come to find out that the carpenter had been in Wes’ hometown of Limabamba and knew his birth family. The carpenter was returning to Peru so I sent a letter and pictures with him for Wes’ birth mother. We then found out that his birth mother wanted to see Wes. That’s why we decided we would go to Peru.

“Wes, do you remember the most important part of this story? When we told Manuel about our travel plans. Manuel asked, ‘How did we get to this point? You had no contact with Wes’ birth family and now you are planning a trip to Peru?’ Wes, how did I answer him?”


“Mom, you said that you thought somebody was praying and somebody had questions.”

“That’s right.  And everyone thought that was a crazy idea, didn’t they?” Mom smiled.  “So, Wes, you tell the rest of the story.”


“So, we took a long airplane ride from New Jersey to Lima, Peru. It was so hot! Hey guys, did you know that Lima is a desert? We got there and then went to the hostel, that’s like a hotel here in America. We were eating breakfast the next morning when we heard, ‘Would George or Deb come down to the desk? Manuel is here.’ We didn’t know anyone in Peru. Mom went down and there was Manuel from El Serrano. He decided he just needed to see the end of our story. He was so excited. We all left for the park where we were to meet my birth family.

“We waited a little bit. I think we were afraid that nobody was going to show up. Finally, here came my uncle, aunt, cousins and my birth mother. I was a little afraid, everybody was crying.  What if they wanted me to stay here? My birth mother’s name is Teofina. She was talking Spanish and Manuel was telling us she said, ‘l gave you away so that you could have a better life.’ That was weird. That’s what you always told me Mom.

“Then we all went back to where we were staying, and my Peru mom wanted me to sit with her on the same chair. I called her “mom” ‘cause I didn’t know what else to call her. Mom, you asked me about that, remember? And I said, ‘Teofina is my birth mom, but you are my favorite mom.


“That night we went to my uncle’s house for supper. He asked, ‘How did this happen? How did we all get together?’ Mom told him exactly what she said back in the restaurant: ‘Somebody was praying and somebody wanted answers.’ Mom, you tell them what my uncle said.”

“With tears streaming down his face, he said, ‘l have prayed for 13 years that this boy would come back to us. We wanted to make sure that he was a son and not a servant.’


“Mom said loud really loud, ‘l knew somebody was praying!’”

All the kids looked at each other. Kimmy said, “How come everybody’s crying? It was a really cool adventure!”

Dad spoke up.  “Matthew 21:22 says, ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask in prayer.’ But I think, kids, the one mistake we make is when we decide how and when our prayers should be answered. Wes’ uncle prayed for 13 years, and he got an amazing answer. He got to see Wes with his own eyes! That was probably more than he even prayed for.

“Let’s pray. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the opportunity to visit Wes’ family, and Lord, it was so exciting to be a part of a plan to answer his uncle’s prayer. From getting to know Manuel, to the carpenter coming from Peru, to the carpenter carrying a letter back to Wes’ mom and then the meeting in the park. It was not only an adventure, but what an example of answered prayer. Thank you, Lord.”

 “Pass me the box of tissues, please.” Mom sobbed as she then passed around the precious photo of Wes and his birth mom.

 “Mom, are you okay?”

“Just happy tears, Wes.”

Grandma Alseen went to the kitchen and brought out her latest cooking experiment. “Hope everyone has room for dessert. We are having Picarones. They’re sweet, sticky dripping doughnuts topped with honey, cinnamon, and orange.”

Jake said, “Wow, with food like this, maybe we should all go back to Peru.”

And all the family said, “Amen!”


  • What prayers were answered in this story?
  • How many years had Wes’ uncle prayed for Wes?
  • What is “unconditional love”?
  • Who has shown you that type of love?

Suggestion for Prayer: someone thank God for 10 different things or people


Kimmy hung her head and softly said, “He called me ‘Dumbo’ cause my ears stick out so far.”

It was Kimmy’s favorite dessert for Sunday dinner. Grandma Myers made it special, just for her. But Kimmy didn’t touch it.  Mom asked, “Kimmy, something wrong with the pie? I thought banana cream was your favorite.”

“Mom, I’m not hungry.”

“Kimmy, you aren’t still upset by what bigmouth Sam said to you on the bus, are you?”  Jake declared, “He’s just stupid!”

Tears began dripping down Kimmy’s cheeks.

“What did Sam say?” Dad asked.


Kimmy hung her head and softly said, “He called me ‘Dumbo’ cause my ears stick out so far.”


With tears in her eyes, Mom turned and said, “Kimmy, let me tell you what happened to me.  I was in 6th grade and went to school on a bus, just like you. The problem was that my ears stuck out bigtime! My hair was long and my ears stuck out so much that my hair parted around them.  It didn’t look good.  When I got on the bus there were shouts of, ‘Elephant ears!’ which of course led to being called Dumbo, just like Sam called you, Kimmy.  The nastiest boy had started it and soon got the whole bus involved.  

I came home crying and told my mom what happened. So, my mother, your grandmother who died long before you were born, decided to take me to a doctor and get my ears fixed.  Pretty easy operation, but my hair was gross because I couldn’t wash it for 2 weeks.”

“Ewww! That’s yucky!” said Kimmy. “I didn’t know your ears stuck out too! I just want to punch Sam the next time I see him.”


“Oh, honey,” said Mom, “the best way to handle bullies is to ignore them. They just want you to get upset like the boy who yelled things at me. You know Ephesians 4:32 says, ‘Be useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (understanding and loving-hearted), forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’ You might not change the way Sam treats you, but you sure could surprise him by deciding to be kind to him rather than punching him.”


Nana Ahlseen said, “Why don’t we pray for Kimmy? Dear Lord, please help us when people say awful things. Help us to be kind, when they are not. Lord, we ask You to protect Kimmy and we thank You that You created her beautifully, just as she is. And last of all, we ask You to speak to Sam’s heart and let him know that being a bully is an awful way to live.”

Kimmy said, “I think I have room for two pieces of pie today.”

And all the family said, “Double Amen!”


  • What makes a bully a bully?
  • Name a couple of good ways to handle a bully?
  • What does the Book of Ephesians teach us on how to handle unlovable people?
  • What did Nana include in her prayer for Kimmy?


Pray for someone who has been a bully in your life


Riding in the car, Kimmy looked at her brothers and challenged them to a race.  Jake was too busy reading to care, but Wes accepted the challenge. As soon as the car was parked in Grandpa’s driveway, Wes and Kimmy jumped out and dashed toward the house. They were both out of breath as they were greeted by Grandpa Myers with one of his big bear hugs.  “Why the rush?” Grandpa asked.

“We raced like always, and I won!” Kimmy responded.

“Well, I let her win,” mumbled Wes. They sprinted off to the kitchen.  After hugs and kisses from both grandmothers, Kimmy declared herself an Olympic racer.

Wes asked Grandma, “What’s for dinner? I’m starving!”

 “One of your favorites, fried chicken,” smiled Grandma as she pointed to the stove.

Mom was just entering the room when she heard the conversation and began to laugh. “Oh my, do I have a chicken story for you! I’ll tell it while we eat.”


When everything was in place, the family settled down at the table.  Grandpa said grace. Mom began, “Last Friday afternoon I went into the garage to grab something out of the freezer for dinner and noticed that someone never quite closed the freezer door.  Water was dripping from the open door onto the garage floor.  Looking further, I was surprised to find a lot of the food still frozen, but it seemed like fifty pounds of chicken had thawed. It was still very cold, but not frozen. 


I knew my evening plans had suddenly changed.  I would be spending the evening cooking all that chicken before it spoiled.  While loading my arms with chicken, I was upset until I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit reminding me, ‘You can be grumpy and waste the evening cooking while in a bad mood, or you can make the best of it. Your choice.’


“Once I was back in the kitchen with the chicken, I turned the radio to my favorite praise music. I then began cooking and singing at the top of my lungs. The neighbors probably heard me. There was chicken on the stove top, chicken in the oven, chicken on the grill. I laughed as I was even doing the chicken dance.  There I was, happily cooking and singing until about 9:30. Then I realized that it would be impossible to finish cooking all that chicken before bedtime.  I didn’t want to spend the next day still cooking chicken.


“Again, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, ‘You know, you don’t have to do this alone.  There are others who would appreciate some chicken.’ My first thought was to drop some off at the mission the following morning. Then I remembered the family of five right across the street. They might enjoy chicken.  I called them and left a message explaining that I had extra chicken for them, but it needed to be used soon.


“First thing Saturday morning, my neighbor called. She had been praying for chicken just the night before!  She said she was pouring her heart out to God, ‘I don’t need a lot, just a little extra chicken in the freezer would be nice.’” 

Wes chimed in, “God had the chicken ready to go even before the lady prayed for it.”


Grandpa thought a moment. “I know what you mean Wes.  He is such a loving God.  God answered your neighbor’s prayer through your mom’s problem.  Your family also blessed – the open freezer was discovered before all the food went totally bad.  I love the verse: My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need. (Philippians 4:19) Wes, do you want to pray for us today?”

Wes bowed his head. “God, thank-you for using my mistake of leaving the freezer door open so that our neighbor could have her chicken prayers answered.”

“And Lord, please help Wes remember that freezer doors are supposed to be closed, otherwise all our ice cream will melt,” Kimmy added.

And all the family said, “Amen!”


  • What did Mom have too much of?
  • Why was she grumpy?
  • Instead of being grumpy, what did she choose to do?
  • How did God use Mom’s overabundance of chicken to help the neighbor?
  • What does God promise in Philippians 4:19

Prayer time: thank God for everything He has done today


Over fish sticks that Sunday, the kids started talking about their swimming lessons.  Kimmy swam like a fish, Jake could dive like he was getting ready for the Olympics, and Wes always sank to the bottom of the pool.  No matter how he tried, Wes just couldn’t float.  As Jake was teasing Wes, Wes said, “I don’t think I have anything to be embarrassed about, after what you and your friends did at swimming lessons this past week.”

Nana Ahsleen raised her eyebrows and looked over at Jake’s parents.  Dad said, “It certainly wasn’t one of Jake’s most mature moments.  Jake, why don’t you tell everybody what you did?” Jake’s face promptly turned bright red. 

“Hey Jake, while you are choking on your food, why don’t I start the story?” said Kimmy.

Jake slowly nodded.


Kimmy continued, “On Wednesdays we are bused to the pool for our swimming lessons. A group of old men use the pool the same time as us, but usually we just wave at them and jump in a part of the pool that is roped off. Anyway, this Wednesday they divided our classes up into groups.  I impressed everybody how fast I could swim from one end of the pool to the other. Then class was over and we rushed to the locker rooms to get dry and dressed.  We girls came out of the locker room, but we could hear a lot of noise still coming from the guys’ changing room.  Wes was already dressed and out in the pool area, but we could hear Jake’s loud laugh behind the door.”


“Something wasn’t right,” Wes piped up.  “I asked the swimming teacher, Mrs. Johnson if I could check on my brother.  Opening the door, I saw Jake’s face and knew he was in trouble.  The guys were all dressed, so I gave Mrs. Johnson the all-clear sign.  She walked around the boys’ locker room and discovered the floor was soaked. She made her way to the toilets where most of the water seemed to be. Mrs. Johnson was not happy! Jake and his friends had decided to play their own version of volleyball over the toilet cubicle walls.  In place of a volleyball, they used pieces of clothing belonging to the men who had changed for the pool before we got there.  One of the toilets was full to overflowing with a piece of men’s clothing and it certainly wasn’t the man’s socks.


Mrs. Johnson fished out the soggy white mess and carried it outside to the pool area.  She looked around at the old guys who were in the water, crouched down at the edge of the pool and motioned for the biggest man to come over.    After he got to the side of the pool, Mrs. Johnson OPENED what she held in her hands, held them up. She asked the man if this was his underwear. He quickly grabbed it, jumped out of the pool, and ran to the locker room.” 

Nana and the entire Myers family tried not to laugh but pretty soon they were howling in laughter.  Jake wished he could just sink under the table and disappear.  “Yeah Jake, why don’t you try playing in the pool water next time instead of the toilet water?” Wes snickered.


“Jake,” Mom asked, “did you learn anything from all of this?  You already made that phone call to Mr. Smith and apologized about his clothing. We know you are also are going to be raking Mr. Smith’s leaves for the next month.”


Nana Ahlseen quietly said, “You know Jake, there is a verse in Proverbs 14:16 “A wise person is careful and stays out of trouble.” Looking back do you think you were very wise in what you did with Mr. Smith’s clothing?” 

Jake hung his head and said, “I wasn’t very smart when I thought we should play volleyball with his underwear.”


Nana continued, “I think you also learned another Bible truth. Proverbs 28:13 says, ‘If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy.’  After you apologized to Mr. Smith and confessed to your parents and God, what happened?”

“They forgave me. Mr. Smith even accepted my apology.” Jake lowered his head and said, “Can I say the prayer today? Lord Jesus, I’m so sorry about how I embarrassed Mr. Smith.  Thank You that He forgave me and that You have forgiven me.  And also, Lord, could you please help Wes learn how to float?”

And all the family said, “Amen!”


  • What had Jake done?
  • Why was he embarrassed?
  • What are two things Jake learned?
  • Who forgave Jake?

Suggestion: someone reading this pray, regarding all the lessons that God is trying to teach us and we still have to learn, just like Jake