Here's Part 5!
Caitlen just smiled as she listened to more tales of Ian and Quinn's happy life together. Soon the sun was lowering into the sky. There was one last thing Caitlen wanted to know.
"Do you have any children?"
Mrs. Willis stiffened.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Caitlen apologized noting the reaction. "I didn--"
Mrs. Willis gave a deep sigh. "Yes, dear, I do."
Caitlen stopped mid-sentence.
"Ah. I was just wondering."
"I had three. Two girls and one boy. Jack was the oldest, and Rosy was the second. And then there was little Penella."
Mrs. Willis' face looked dreamy as she mentioned her last daughter's name.
"Penella was a sure sweetheart. I miss her very much."
"What happened?" Caitlen asked.
Mrs. Willis looked down. "That is not for you to know now."
"Ok, I understand," Caitlen replied kindly.
Mrs. Willis looked up at her. "You're a strange girl, you know,"
Mrs. Willis smiled too, "In a good way."
Caitlen laughed. "That's good!"
They sat in silence for a moment, listening to the birds singing outside through the open windows. Finally Caitlen stood up.
"Well, this has been a good visit. Thank you for having me," She smiled.
"Yes, thank you for coming," Mrs. Willis smiled back, getting to her feet.
Mrs. Willis followed Caitlen to the door.
They said their goodbyes and Caitlen left, Captain at her heels. She went home thoughtful, but nothing big happened.
When they arrived home, Caitlen ran into the house, excited.
Oh, right, Caitlen reminded herself. The Derby race tonight..
"Mom?" Caitlen cried, glad and surprised at the same time. They met in the kitchen.
"Hey Mom," Caitlen smiled.
"Let's go! The race starts in ten minutes!"
They hurried and went into the car, Caitlen dropping the backpack on the table. Mom locked up the house and they headed for the race.
They arrived with the sound of several engines revving up and shouts.
Mom quickly parked and they jumped out, running to the stadium.
They got there just in time.
They found the rest of the family and sat down. The gunshot ran off and the race began. Nicki made her way over to her sister.
"How'd it go?" She shouted over the noise of the engines.
"Great!" Caitlen shouted back. "I was right! She did have three children and something happened to her youngest daughter! She's bitter at her two older children over something. I'm not sure what. She also told me how she met Ian, her husband."
"Wow!" Nicki exclaimed, impressed, "You did good for just one little visit!"
"Well I learned more than that too! She told me lots of stories! Her husband was a rich boy, and apparently moved to this place for her!"
"And number 27, Stanton, is in the lead, as always," The man in the loudspeaker announced loudly, making Nicki and Caitlen jump and turn their attention to the race. "And oh, oh, look at that! Number 18 just smashed his back left fender! He's gonna have to fix that once he gets out of this race..."
Three hours later, a laughing family emerged from the cars back home.
"Stanton won--again!" Sam laughed, "Like he always does. He barely had anything to drive, they beat him up so bad!"
"Yeah I know!" Ben agreed. "Of course those three little guys that always get smashed got really torn up."
"I wish they would win sometime," Hope said quietly.
"Why?" Ben asked sharply.
"Ben..." Dad's voice was stern.
"Oh, sorry..." Ben quickly apologized, the memory of the tape still clear in his mind.
"Well," Hope began, "It's kinda sad, you know. They enter every year, hoping to win, and there goes Stanton, beating them to bits, where they can't even try anymore. They have to leave before their cars blow up! It's just mean is all..."
"Hope," Sam chided, "It's how the race goes, lil sis. They are supposed to beat each other's cars up to win."
"Well..." Hope's eyes began to fill with tears, "Then I don't wanna go next time!"
Mom had just unlocked the front door. Hope bolted in ahead of her and ran upstairs.
Sam's mouth was open in surprise as he looked from his mother to his father.
"I'll talk to her," Mom offered. "Honey you might want to come with me,"
"Good idea." Dad agreed. "You kids get things ready for the bible study in the living room."
"Yay!" Jamie and Justin cried.
Caitlen ran up to her parents quietly and laid her hand on her dad's shoulder. "Dad," She said quietly.
He stopped, "What, honey?"
"Mind if I come with you and Mom?"
The parents looked at each other. Caitlen was pretty wise, and often Hope's sensitive nature was nurtured for good things with Caitlen's advice, though she was so young.
"Let Mom and I talk to her first, then you can come in, okay?" Dad said, looking at Mom.
"Okay, thanks," Caitlen smiled.
About fifteen minutes later, Caitlen was called upstairs. She ran up and walked into the room she and Hope shared.
Hope wasn't crying anymore, and Mom had her arm around her.
"Hey, Hope," Caitlen smiled at her little sister. "You ok?"
"I guess," Hope answered. "Mom and Dad said that it's sometimes how it works, you know, the bigger guys winning. Dad said it's their choice about whether they enter the race or not too,"
"That's true." Caitlen agreed.
"But I want the little guys to win."
"Well, why don't you cheer for them next time? I'm sure that will help them feel like they can win. Maybe one of them will!"
Hope's face brightened and Mom and Dad looked at each other with little smiles on their faces.
"Yeah!" Hope cried, "I'm gonna make a banner for them!" She jumped up.
"After the study, sweetie," Mom told her.
"I'll help you if you want," Caitlen offered.
"That's nice of you, yeah. Thanks, Caitlen," Hope smiled.
And they all went downstairs.
"Okay!" Dad began as the family of 9 settled into the various seats and couches in the living room. "Does any one of you have any verses on your mind we could talk about?"
Sam, Nicki, Caitlen, Ben, and Hope all nodded. Justin and Jamie just looked at their father expectantly.
"I have one too," Mom put in.
Dad smiled, "Alright! But first, we'll tell Justin and Jamie a story. Which one did we choose this week, Mom?"
"Let's see," Mom pretended to think really hard, "Ah, yes, the story of David and Goliath."
"I like that one!" Justin cried, jumping up.
"That's where the bad man was a giant, right?" Jamie asked. "And he yelled mean things at Yahweh?"
Low chuckles echoed through the living room.
"Yes," Mom told her. "Dad, you ready?"
While Dad told a very animated version of David and Goliath, Mom and the older children were getting to their verses--along with a few comments to add to the story along the way. In the end, Jamie and Justin were cheering for the Israelites as the rest of the family laughed and clapped along.
When everyone calmed down, Caitlen spoke up.
"I'd like to give mine last,"
"Okay," Dad nodded, "That's alright," He smiled. "Who wants to go first?"
"I will," Mom offered with a wink at Dad. Sam and Nicki chuckled quietly.
"Alright, beautiful, go ahead," Dad's eyes were twinkling.
Mom sat up straighter and adjusted her headcovering, glancing at Dad. Then she opened her Bible and her face was serious.
"'Now if Elohim so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.' Matthew chapter 6 verses 30 through 34."
"And what is your thoughts on this, sweetheart?" Dad asked.
"Well, I was just thinking about Mrs. Willis. She's there all alone, you know, without a husband to care for her, and yet she doesn't worry. She doesn't know much about Him, from what I have seen, I could be wrong, and yet Yahweh takes care of her."
"Indeed," Dad agreed.
"And look at us! We're not exactly rich, but Yahweh takes care of us, doesn't He?"
"Yes," The rest of the family agreed.
"And that's what I was thinking about. Yahweh is so good, and loves us so much. We don't even ask and he already takes care of us," She smiled. "Ok, I'm done. Next?"
"My thought lines up with yours, Mom," Nicki commented with a little smile. She looked at Sam.
"Go ahead, lil sis," He grinned.
"Thanks," Nicki flipped open her bible to her verse, "There's these two verses in 1st Peter. They say, ' Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of Yahweh, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.' 1Peter chapter 5 verses 6 and 7. We don't need to worry, just accept that he takes care of us. I mean, he doesn't want us to be worried and sad and everything, he wants us to be content and cared for, and know that we are, in Him."
"Very good, Nicki," Mom and Dad said at once.
"Yeah, that was good," Sam agreed. "Mine is a little different, doesn't exactly follow that line of thought, but close. It's John 8 verses 31 and 32. They say, 'Then Yahushua said to those Jews who believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."'" Sam paused to think. "Truth sets us free, it doesn't bind us. Just like Mom and Nicki were saying, you know, knowing that he cares about us so much that he takes care of us even when we're not asking, that kinda makes us feel loved. And not worrying is freeing, because it means everything is okay. Anyway, that's just my thoughts on it,"
"May I add to that, son?" Dad asked.
"Thanks. It also tells us that we need to listen to him and read his word to see truth. And truth isn't a bad thing. Knowing what he expects of us is a good thing. That's what the Word is for."
"Right," Sam agreed.
"That's it," Dad smiled, "Okay, Ben!"
"Well I was just thinking about how maybe we need to be more open to new things." He glanced at Hope, "I mean, think about the Pharisees. They were so set in their ways that when Yahushua came they wouldn't bend or change. A verse in Luke, Luke 7:30, says 'But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of Yahweh against themselves, being not baptized of him.' See, they didn't even give it a chance. They just rejected it outright. So see, we shouldn't do that but be more open to things we may not be used to." He glanced at Hope again and leaned back in his chair.
Dad and Mom exchanged a glance while Nicki and Sam each hid grins and chuckles. They knew that had been an open jab at Hope.
Hope sat up straight. "Okay! Now, my verse is from Psalms 27, verse 1. It says, 'Yahweh is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? Yahweh is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?' See, we shouldn't be afraid!" She glanced at Ben, "Because Yahweh is taking care of us. We need to trust him. He's got our back. That's all I have,"
Mom and Dad exchanged a glance again and Nicki and Sam chuckled a little louder this time, looking at each other.
"Ahem," Dad began, "Caitlen, your turn,"
She nodded. She opened her bible and began. "My verse is from James chapter 1 verse 27: 'Pure and undefiled religion before Messiah and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.'" She paused and looked at each of her family members, "I think Mrs. Willis is a good example of a widow. She may not be in physical need but she might be in spiritual need. I think we need to help her. And that's all I have to say."
Mom smiled. Dad nodded, "I think you're right, Caitlen. We do need to minister to her."
"Alright, let's all have a word of prayer, and then Hope and Ben, come upstairs with me and your mother."
Ten minutes later, the rest of the family watched as Hope and Ben came back downstairs with Mom and Dad.
Nicki and Sam burst out laughing, and even Caitlen had a small grin on her face.
They were taped together again.
"Don't make it harder than it is," Hope moaned.
Mom and Dad looked over them all and they straightened up.
"Caitlen?" Justin cried, coming out with Jamie at his heels toting a large backpack. "Why did you leave your backpack on the table?"
"Oh!" Caitlen cried, "I found something, you guys!" She grabbed the backpack and turned to walk into the kitchen, her family following with curiousity. She dropped it on the table and unzipped the main pouch, taking the package from the forest out. "I was walking along, and Captain and I heard this noise! Then a deer stepped out, and I thought it was all over, but Captain was still all protective and stuff, and when I looked into the woods, I saw a flash of black. Captain ran off after it and I ran after him. Then we came up to this place, and there was a fresh pile of dirt. Captain had stopped there and dug this up!" She held up the package. "I decided not to open it till I got home, but yeah, should I?"
"I don't see why not," Dad said, glancing around all the faces peering at the package. He looked at Mom, who smiled.
"I want to see what's in it," She grinned.
"Yeah, open it!" Hope cried.
"Yeah!" Ben agreed, his eyes excited.
Nicki and Sam were agreeing with shouts of their own.
Caitlen set the brown package on the table. "Okay, here it goes..."
The family watched eagerly. Even Jamie and Justin were excited.
Caitlen cut the string and began to pull back the paper...
To be continued...
Shabbat Shalom, everyone!