The Fight For Integrity

As she was unloading the last grocery bag from the shopping cart into her car, she noticed a can of tomatoes jammed into the corner of the cart.  “That must have fallen out of one of the bags,” she thought to herself. Then immediately the thought came to her mind, “What if that can was overlooked and never made it up onto the conveyor belt with the other items to be scanned by the clerk?” She thought about looking through the bags right then to check the receipt for the item, but she really wanted to get home. Hopping into her vehicle, she told herself that she would look when she got home to make sure the tomatoes were on the receipt. The husband and kids were out when she arrived at the house, so she brought the groceries in and put them all away. Finally she took the receipt and began scanning to see if the can of tomatoes was indeed listed. She had put 2 cans of them in her cart. Upon careful perusal, there was only 1 can of tomatoes listed at  58 cents. “Well, I guess I should head back to the store,” she counselled herself. At the same time she was thinking, “58 cents. Why make a big deal over 58 cents? Nobody even knows that this item was not rung up.” An image came to her mind of a young man running away from a woman who stood screaming for help while she held a garment in her hand. It was Joseph, which to her was the epitome of integrity, Joseph who refused to become bitter, Joseph who did the right thing when nobody was looking. What did his honesty cost him? He was thrown into a prison for not giving in to the temptation to committ adultery, but it was really all part of God’s plan. What would taking back this can of tomatoes cost her? It would take a little bit of time and a little bit of gas, but she knew it was the right thing to do. Not a soul knew about that can of 58 cent tomatoes, but she knew that God knew. She also knew that she was being tested, and she wanted to make the right choice. There was a rational choice, a convenient choice, a “what would most people do” choice, but she wanted to make the right choice.  She decided to eat a quick lunch, since she was starving and then head back to the store. With receipt and tomatoes in her hand, she walked back into the store. Since the cashier who had waited on her was not there, and the lines were very long, she decided she didn’t really need this 2nd can of tomatoes that badly, so she walked down to the aisles where the tomatoes were and put it back on the shelf.

Sometimes we battle with seemingly “little things”. They may be things that nobody knows about except you and God. This little incident I wrote about happened to me yesterday. I can’t say I’ve always made the right choice when it comes to matters of integrity, but I feel like I made the right one yesterday.(although I probably should have been quicker to do so.) I was reminded of a story from the Children’s Book of Virtues that I read years ago to my children called Someone Sees You. ( Click here for an illustrated slideshow of the story.) May God help us to be men, women, boys and girls of integrity, not only in the big things but in the little things as well because Someone is always looking.

The Other Web


The kids and I experienced the wonder of the web today.  Our neighbor was part of this momentous event, along with a group of 7-ll year olds.  This creative presentation of Charlotte’s Web took place at a local children’s theatre in our area.  Sarina, our neighbor, played the motherly part of Martha Arable, and did a great job.  The play lasted for 90 minutes and included a 15 minute intermission.  Charlotte’s Web has always been one of my favorite children’s books.  When the kids were a little younger, we did a unit study on Charlotte’s Web.  One of the activities we did during this study was to collect spider webs.  We would look for spider webs that were unoccupied, spray them with adhesive, and then take a piece of black construction paper and press it on the web.  Presto!  The web sticks to the paper, and there you have your sample of a real spider’s web.  We designed our own Wilbur and Charlotte to have indoors too.  We made Wilbur out of a Quaker oatmeal box that we painted pink.  We added eyes, nose mouth and feet with construction paper and attached a tail made with chenille wire.  We constructed Charlotte out of wadded up balls of tin foil, some glue on googely eyes and black chenille wire for the legs.  Looking back on it now, I sure wish I would have taken some pictures.  We tried keeping a pet spider of our own for a while too.  I captured one in the backyard in a jar.  The kids added grass and sticks to give it a “homey” atmosphere.  We poked some airholes in the lid so the spider would be able to breathe.  The jar was left on the back porch, and Jen used to check it in the morning when she woke up.  One morning she looked in the jar and could not find the spider anywhere.  She opened the jar, turned over the lid, and there was the spider sitting on the lid.  This startled her so bad that she dropped the lid and the glass jar.  Our spider keeping came to a crashing halt, but it was fun while it lasted. 

We have made some good homeschool memories over the years, and seeing Charlotte’s Web today brought some of those back to mind.  There is much life and friendship beyond “The WWWeb”, and I was reminded of that as we saw this cute little play.

Love You Forever

Love You Forever

 Earlier today I went to the bank and then drove down further in our little shopping plaza to the dry cleaners to drop off my son's suit.  As I was leaving the dry cleaners, I contemplated stopping in at Goodwill, which is just a few doors down from the cleaners.  "I'll just go in for a quick minute and look at their books," I thought to myself.  In the past, I've picked up books there that I thought would be useful in our homeschool. The first book I laid eyes on was a book that I read to my kids many years ago called Love You Forever.  I turned the book over and saw that it was only .69, so I knew I would be making at least one purchase.  This book has great sentimental value to me, because it speaks of a legacy that I want to pass on to my children.  It is a legacy of love.  Love You Forever is the story of a mother raising a son through all the various stages of growing up.  When her son was first born, you see a picture of the mother gently rocking her son and saying these 4 lines.

"I'll love you forever.

I'll like you for always.

As long as I'm living,

my baby you'll be."

The book takes you through stages of this boy's life as he is growing up(toddler, 9 year old, teenager and even as a young man) with the mother always coming back to rock her son while saying this 4 line refrain.  Near the end of the book, the mother calls her son and asks him to please come and visit her for she is old and sick.  The son goes to his mom's house, carries her out of the bed, begins to rock her, and says,

"I'll love you forever.

I'll like you for always.

As long as you're living,

my mommy you'll be."

Finally, on the last page of the book, you see the grown son, holding his new baby daughter as he begins to say the 4 line refrain that his mom always said to him. 

 I cannot think of a single time in my life where I have ever doubted the love of my mother.  My mom told me and still tells me and all of her children that she loves us.  Not only did she say it, but she backed up her words with so many selfless acts to prove it as well.  This is the kind of legacy I want to pass on to my children.  I pray that my children will never doubt that I love them, but that it would show through not only in my words, but in my deeds.  Most importantly though, I never want them to doubt that God loves them.  He declares it over and over again in His Word, and my children have been told it, experienced it   and have read it for themselves.  His love is so much greater than mine could ever be, because He laid down His life to prove it.  So Jen and Paul, if you ever happen to read this, don't ever forget that Jesus loves you.  He loves you forever. 

Literal Larry

We have some many figures of speech and colloquialisms in this English language of ours.  A few years ago, I was thinking about this and how it could be confusing to little children.  I guess that lead into the idea for this story that I wrote.  At the time, I was reading a lot of Amelia Bedelia to my son, so I think that added more fuel to the fire.  I doubt this would ever be a best seller, but it was fun writing it.  Here it is.

Literal Larry and the Confusing Conversation



“Let’s all hop in the car and go to Aunt Rosa’s farm,” suggested Mr. Lenster.  “Okay


Dad!” responded young Larry.  Using all the strength he could muster, Larry yanked


open the door of the blue Pontiac, quickly scrambled in and began to hop up and down on


the floorboards.  “What in the world are you doing Larry? “ asked Dad in a bit of a raised


voice. “You need to stop that right now.”  “You said to hop in the car, Dad.”  Larry


replied innocently.  “I didn’t mean it literally, Larry,” answered Dad. “I just meant to get


in the car so we can go on our way.”  “Oh” was all that Larry could manage to say as he


moved to get into his booster seat.


Larry Lenster had learned a lot in his 3-½ years of life.  He knew his ABC’s.  He could


count to 20.  Thanks to the help of his 6-year-old neighbor Alicia, he could even do a


cartwheel!  He could follow instructions as long as they were simple ones.  He


understood when his dad said “No!” he meant “No!”  However, there was something he


didn’t understand that sometimes confused him.   He did not understand when grown ups


spoke using figures of speech.  Such expressions as “walking on thin ice”, “putting your


foot in your mouth”, or “hop in the car” (of course, now he understood what that meant)


really baffled his mind.  Although Larry’s parents did not realize it, they often used slang


or figurative language when they spoke to each other.  As a result, Larry did not


 understand half the things they said.  Such was the case on this particular day as Larry,


his 5 year old sister Aggie and his parents rode in the family car, headed for Aunt Rosa’s


farm which was 3 hours away.  The first half-hour of the trip was nothing unusual.  Dad


was busy driving.  Everyone else was busy looking out the window, so not too many


words were exchanged.  After a short period of seeing nothing but corn stalks on the


roadsides, Larry became sleepy.  His sister Aggie had already drifted into a peaceful


sleep.  He was just about to nod off when his mom asked his dad a question.  “Did you


hear that Wallace and Olivia are going to tie the knot?”  asked Mrs. Lenster.  Larry


perked up.  He knew Wallace and Olivia.  They went to his church.  Larry wondered why


they were going to tie a knot, but he was a quiet boy and a little on the shy side so he


didn’t ask.  He decided maybe their shoelaces were like his and never stayed tied more


than 5 minutes without a double knot.  “Oh, that’s great!” replied Mr. Lenster, “I know


Mrs. Baumhard (Olivia’s mother) will be pleased.  She was so afraid that Olivia would


become an old maid.”  Larry knew what a maid was.  His friend Teddy had a maid that


worked at his house.  He didn’t know Olivia was a maid too.  In his mind he could see


Olivia dressed like a maid, but she certainly wasn’t old.  Old was what Grandma looked


like.  Mrs. Lenster responded with, “Well, I’m happy for Wallace and Olivia.  They make


a fine match.”  “Wow!” thought Larry, “Olivia is a maid and she makes matches too!  So


does Wallace.  Daddy told me not to play with matches.  He said I might start a fire.  I


hope Wallace and Olivia don’t start a fire.  They better be careful!”  Larry was growing


more sleepy, but he still wanted to hear his parents talk about Wallace and Olivia.  Mr.


Lenster was speaking now.  “I’m not so sure about that.  Olivia is a real penny pincher,


but I’ve seen Wallace blow his money quite a few times. “    A puzzled look spread itself


across Larry’s face.  He could not understand why Olivia would want to pinch pennies. 


Did she not like money?  Larry remembered one time he got mad at Aggie and pinched


her.  He got himself in big trouble and never did it again.    He wondered how Wallace


blew his money.  Did he blow it with his mouth?  Maybe he used a hair dryer.  If Larry


could blow money, he knew that he would use a fan.  Then the money would blow far


and he could have lots of fun running and trying to catch it.   Mrs. Lenster interrupted


Larry’s thoughts as she made a comment.  “That may be so, but to Olivia, Wallace is a


knight in shining armor. He certainly has swept her off her feet!”  Larry had seen a suit of


armor at a museum just last week.  His daddy had explained to him what it was.  He was


excited to know that Wallace had one of those gleaming metal suits too.  He hoped


maybe Wallace would wear his suit to church sometime so he could see it. As for


sweeping Olivia off her feet, Larry couldn’t imagine why Wallace would want to do that. 


It seemed like a mean thing to do.  He wondered if Wallace had used a big push broom


like the one his dad kept in the garage.  Did Olivia fall down and get hurt when she was


swept off her feet?  Maybe she needed a Band-Aid.  Larry used Batman Band-Aids on his


owies.  “Olivia is a lady.  She probably uses the pink Band-Aids with ballerinas on them


like Aggie does.” Larry guessed.   Mr. Lenster was speaking now.  “ Well, I am happy for


them, but Olivia is quite a bit older than Wallace.  She’s really robbing the cradle.” At


this point, Larry was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open.  In addition to that, he


thought his dad had said that Olivia was rocking the cradle instead of robbing it.  He


knew what a cradle was.  Daddy had showed him the cradle Larry slept in when he was a


baby.  It was up in the attic.  Mama had sung the Rock-a-bye-baby lullaby many times, so


he was very familiar with cradle rocking.  In his mind he pictured Olivia slowly rocking


his cradle up in the attic, and this caused him to finally slink off into slumber in his


booster seat.  He never heard another word spoken on the subject of Wallace and Olivia,


but that was okay.  The confusing conversation of his parents had totally filled his mind


with all the ingredients of which wild dreams are made!