Tag Archives: Christianity

What Is On My Mind Today? Power Without the Destruction.

st g painting
2016 Painting of St. Genevieve Church in Centerville, MN. 

For weeks and weeks I have painted and repainted the sky on the same canvas.

Whenever I start a painting I have the exact image in my mind.  I can actually see it on the white canvas. As an artist, my job is to make the image appear for others to see.

I like painting landscapes especially ones with vivid skies.  I have always had a fascination with clouds.  I remember spending many hours as a small child, resting on the lawn just watching them change shapes.  Quietly watching clouds on a calm summer’s day is a very peaceful and relaxing activity, which I highly recommend.

For me the peace of clouds disappeared in an instant when I was about eleven-years-old. Cloud watching changed forever on a stormy day while traveling in a car on Highway 12 just east of Litchfield, Minnesota.  At the precise moment we were along side a huge metal factory, a tornado dropped out of the sky and shredded the big building.  Huge pieces of metal ripped through the air and rained down all around our car.   The destructive power of that small tornado was horrible, yet so very awesome.  From that moment on, I had a very healthy appreciation for power, especially power that originates in the heavens.

After experiencing that tornado up close, instead of looking for the peace in the clouds I looked to find evidence of their power. It is exhilarating to stand in an great empty field and watch a thunderstorm explode on the western horizon and come barreling at you.

It was even more exciting to stare down a menacing mesocyclone astride my Arabian mare.  Animals are naturally much better forecaster’s of weather that humans. My mare could sense stormy weather hours before it developed.  Her restlessness and whinnying told me it was time to saddle up.  Down to the edge of farm we’d gallop and wait for nature’s big show.

Radiant white clouds billowing upwards with great speed and purpose announced that the guest we were waiting for so impatiently was on its way.  Just as the first gust of wind rushed up to make our acquaintance, I would pivot my  mare and give her, her head and we’d race the storm home.

It was all speed, wind, water and…..power. Intoxicating!

I like power.  I love the power of storms.

So, my goal for this canvas was to paint a beautiful powerful mesocyclone with all of its whirl and swirl.  No matter how many skies I painted none of them seemed to meet the vision of my mind’s eye.

Since, I don’t tend to give up, I had to just keep trying and trying to succeed.  Becoming more and more frustrated with a process that is usually as easy for me as falling off a wet horse.

Last week a very good friend of mine, who knows me extremely well, called to say hello. I told her about my canvas of perpetual repainting and how frustrated I was not being able to  produce the image I wanted.  I explained to her that my goal was to capture the winds and the beauty of a great storm, but I wanted it to be a friendly storm.

As always she listened to my concerns very carefully and then responded, “So, you want all of the power without any of the destruction.”

Yup, that would be it.

 

 

RECIPES: Church Ladies Critique and Chewy Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

anson aprons

Yesterday my parents came down for a visit and I made them lunch.  The menu included sauced pulled beef, Aunt Ida’s Two-Hour Buns, potato salad and cherry pie topped with vanilla ice cream.

There is just no way to serve pie and ice cream without remembering the many ice cream pie socials I attended in my youth.  I have baked a lot of pies.  The pies shared at a community events were always special.

Baked goods delivered to our church pie socials were as expertly critiqued as any work of art ever entered into a juried art show.  I have many fond memories of watching the faces of the grandmothers, mothers, aunts and neighbors as they assessed each newly delivered donated baked item.   So many of these dear ladies are now gone and live with the Lord.

These gals could convey a complete critique of  your pie baking performance with a single look or a gesture.  The silent language used by church ladies for bake good assessment had been passed down from generation to generation and mastered by each. So it paid to pay attention and learn to read faces.

However, unless you wanted to live in a state of perpetual self-disappointment, it was best, at a very young age,  to acquire the skill of recognizing people who never have anything good to say about anything or anyone.  I have always felt sorry for folks like that. It must be awful to always live in darkness and never see sunshine.

Once you have learned to “dust off your feet and move on” to people who actually have good intentions in mind, being judged by others, while not always fun, is a great opportunity for self-reflection, personal and professional growth.

Our church ladies could judge the quality of your pie and render a verdict without uttering so much as a word. I can still picture the sad shake of bent curly heads sporting raised eyebrows with a lone dimple appearing in a cheek above tightly compress lips when improvement was required.  And, remember the proud sense of mature accomplishment when you finally received the coveted in unison nod, slight grin and and saw that quick wink from behind bespectacled eyes.

As a Lutheran Swedish farmer’s child growing up in rural Minnesota, understanding nonverbal communications was a necessary skill.  To actually confront or praise someone in person was just not done. Outrageousness such as that would have been terrifying for entire congregation, sent some poor old soul into instant menopause, and probably would have lead to the cancellation of any future church activities that included the word social.

Church ladies taught life lessons. Such as, there is always room for improvement, and to get used to being judged, because its going to happen. They taught me that people are a lot like pie pastry production.  Oh, sure there are times when I want to just flatten an ornery one with my rolling pin. However, I know that only leads to a tougher crust.  So, when you are the object of judgement, fair or unfair, its best to think of the butter in pie crust. The total excellence and success of the pastry depends on the butter’s temperature which, like a person’s temperament, needs to remain a cool as possible.

choc choc cookies

Chewy, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have become my husband’s new favorite.  The trick to getting them chewy is the baking time.  Since you cannot see if a chocolate cookie is browning, you cannot see when they are getting done.  You must rely on baking time.  These cookies do not look done when you remove them from the oven and are quite soft.  They need to remain on the hot cookie sheet for about a minute before you remove them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two cookie sheets.

1 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
3 cups of chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Blend in cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix until completely combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping teaspoon-sized pieces of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on cookie sheet for one minute.  Remove from cookie sheet.  Cookies will flatten and firm up as they cool.

These cookies are great alone, but with a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies, they become a fantastic quick ice cream sandwich dessert.

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Matthew 7: 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? …

What Is On My Mind Today? What Kind of a Wondrous Love is that? Happy Easter!

cross

While I have taught Christian Education and read the scriptures for most of my life.  I had never actually read the entire Bible cover to cover. I decided last winter that if anyone asked me, if I had read the entire Bible, I wanted to answer in the affirmative. For the past several months, I have been reading the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse.

The New Testament went fast, but the Old Testament is a much slower read.  At least for me.  I am over half way through and am now about midway through the chapter of Psalms.

I have been a very good reader of the New Testament, but whenever I read the Old Testament, I get overwhelmed and a bit freaked out. Parts of the Old Testament truly test me.   One of the stories that has always troubled me was the story of Abraham and Isaac.
That story is about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to test Abraham’s faith.

The very idea of sacrificing a child is repulsive and terrifying.  As the scriptures tell us, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.”  My treasures are my children and I cannot imagine how horrible it would be to lose a child, let alone be party to their death.

That is now thinking, not then thinking.

For much of ancient human history child sacrifice was considered the ultimate offering to appease or please an angry God.  At the time that the Old Testament was written many cultures practiced child sacrifice both in the old and new worlds.

The Bible sites many examples of this practice.

2 Kings 17:31 
the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim.

Psalm 106: 38 

They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.

Personally, I will never forget a trip to the Papago Indian Reservation, with a member of that tribe, to visit a site where four small children had lost their lives during a ritual human sacrifice.  As the legend was told, there had been an big badger who had dug a hole so deep that it had tapped into a natural spring.  Water was gushing out of the spring into the dry desert.  Fearful of their world being flooded, it was decided to sacrifice four small children to save the tribe.  The children’s small bodies were shoved into the hole, the water stopped, and the tribe saved and therefore, the sacrifice had worked.

Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice Isaac would not have been considered unusual. What is unusual is the strength of Abraham’s faith.  Abraham had been promised by God that he would be the leader of a great nation, have more descendants than there were stars in the heavens and that these descendants would be the result of his union with his very elderly wife Sarah who was past menopause.  Isaac’s birth and life was a promise fulfilled by God.

Genesis 17:19

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

Genesis 17:21

But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”

Genesis 21: 12 

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

Genesis 22: 2  

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

After reading this Biblical passage more than once, it occurred to me, that Abraham told his servants that “we will come back to you”.  Regardless, of what Abraham had been asked by God to do on that mountain, he believed that both he and Isaac would be returning.  His faith in the promise made to him by God was so strong, that even if Isaac had been sacrificed, he believed that the boy would be returning with him.  God would not break his promise that through Isaac there would be an everlasting covenant, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead.

God providing the ram for a sacrifice instead of Isaac, certainly symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ.  However, while God was making an example of the unfailing faith of Abraham, God was also setting an example of ending human child sacrifice. In fact, God abhorred child sacrifice and has a history of destroying  nations who practiced it.

2 Kings 17:17 

They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.


2 Kings 16:3

He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.


2 Kings 17:31 

the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim.


2 Kings 21: 6

He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritualists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.


Ezekiel 23:37

for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them.

Not only did God abhor child sacrifice, he preferred obedience to sacrifice period.


1 Samuel 15:22 

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Isaiah 1:11

“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

Psalm 40:6
 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
  but my ears you have opened
  burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

Psalm 51:16

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hebrews 10:8
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with
the law.

Mark 12:23

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Even after being raised in a Christian faith that believes in the trinity of God….Father, Son and Holy Ghost…in my mind God the Father was a much tougher guy and quite different in temperament than God the Son.  Christ’s description of his heavenly Father, I must admit had fallen on deaf ears.

John 8:19 

Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

Luke 10:22 

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

John 14: 7 

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

These past few months as I have read through the Old Testament, it has become very apparent to me that the God of the Old Testament, is not nearly as angry and blood thirsty as I had believed.  He is, in fact, just as loving and tender as his son Jesus.
The violence of the Old Testament was never the wish or will of a just and loving God, but the result of humankind’s transgressions.  We are the angry, blood thirsty, immoral and vengeful.  Not God. Never God.

The Old Testament clearly demonstrates time and time again that having free-will and the ability to defy God and commit acts of rebellion (sin) has consequences.  As the very first couple learned in the Garden of Eden.

Isaiah 50: 1 

This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.

So, it seems to me that Isaac on that mountain is us asking,  “Father?”

“Yes, my child?” 

“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my child.”

God did provide a sacrificial lamb for Abraham.  Just like he provided the sacrificial lamb who gave up his life on the top of another hill, shaped like a skull-cap, called Golgotha. There, God kept his covenant with humankind when he provided his own son as the sacrifice to wipe away the sins of the world. Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice.

Jesus always knew that his destiny was to die on that cross.

John 10:15 

just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the greatest expression of love.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

When I think about the Trinity, Jesus was not the only one on that cross at Calvary.  God the Father was right there with him.  It was a combination of child sacrifice and self-sacrifice.

John 3:16 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It is awe inspiring to know that God, who abhorred child sacrifice, sacrificed his only son, because of his great love for me, to forgive my transgressions and rebellion.  Really, what kind of a wondrous love is that?

Hymn: “What Wondrous Love Is This” 

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

3 To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM –
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
while millions join the theme, I will sing.

4 And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

Tomorrow morning is Easter.  A day to celebrate the risen Lord, and his victory over death and the grave.  He has risen!  He has risen indeed!

Happy Easter!

What Is On My Mind Today? Auto-correct and Too Few Dictionaries

I think that one of the major problems of auto-correct is that many folks use terms or words for which they do not know the meaning.  For example the term “rule of law”  or the words, “hate”, “fascism” or “intolerant”.

As a public service, I have provided the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions  for these terms.

Definition of rule of law


a situation in which the laws of a country are obeyed by everyone.  The courts uphold the rule of law.

Definition of hate

intense hostility and  aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

extreme dislike or disgust :  antipathy, loathing.

Definition of fascism

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascist) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Definition of intolerant

unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters

unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights

Using political propaganda or “spin” to advocate a policy or personal position with the intention of shaping or changing personal or public opinion has been around since the Garden of Eden.   I have sat in political meetings where the goal was to use language to confuse the voting public.  I expressly did not approve of that tactic then, nor do I now.

“Spin” terms are chosen because their connotation is perceived as more positive than the word or term being replaced.  Examples of this would be: “undocumented immigrant”  replacing the term “illegal immigrant;  “gentrification” replacing “urban renewal”; or “white privilege” replacing “white guilt”.

Some words are chosen because they are intimidating and people have a natural aversion to them.  Their calculated use is intended to bully, shame or scare. Excellent examples of this propaganda tactic would be the words fascist and hate.

The cry of fascism produces instant mental pictures of history’s most brutal tyrants. Our government is a republic with a constitution that includes checks and balances on executive power.  I have no fears of American’s ever tolerating a king. However, the use of fascist tactics to shut down opposition speech has reared its ugly head. Anyone who has or plans to shut down free speech from opposing political view points through intimidation or violence has become the monster they claim to fear.

“Hate” was chosen to replace “disagree or dislike” because of its intense intimidation  “wow” factor.  It’s overuse has numbed its sting and only succeeded in promoting greater divisiveness.  Name calling is rarely a good idea. Sugar has always been known to attract more flies than vinegar. Like the school rhyme said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

So, whether you are politically on the left or right, when on top of your loving tolerant democratic religious pedestal you use these terms to bully, condemn, confuse, shame, or scare, any reasonable person would then have to provide one further definition:

Definition of hypocrisy

a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not :  behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel:  the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

 

 

RECIPES: Easy Rhubarb Pudding Cake and Rhubarb Recipes Galore

rhubarbplantsPurdue

I have been reading the diaries of two sisters who were born in Michigan, during the 1880’s.  These two young women were filled with spunk and high jink.  Their work, school and social calendars are exhausting to just read about.

There are so many similarities between their childhood experiences and my memories of growing up on a farm in pre-television Minnesota.  Work came first.  Chores had to be done.  Cows don’t milk themselves, chickens don’t pick eggs, pigs never clean their own pens and rocks cannot migrate themselves out of a field.

School began bright and early by today’s standards.  By the time we were off to school, the morning chores had already been completed, breakfast made, eaten and cleaned up after.  Heck, the day was practically half over by the time classes began. No one would have ever thought to start school times later to accommodate a student’s personal sleep requirements. Such an idea would have been considered utter nonsense resulting in sloth, general laziness, eventually abject poverty and probably beer.  “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person happy, healthy, wealthy and wise,” that was our motto.

Then, there was attending a one-room school house. Except for pictures of presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the school house walls were lined with large black chalk boards. Memory work was required, lessons were recited in front of the entire student body, older boys teased younger students unmercifully, everybody had a pocket knife and playground gopher holes were routinely flooded.  The bathrooms were outside and well ventilated….especially in the winter.

Our lunches were packed at home and were filled with processed meat, red meat, white meat, Miracle Whip and meat, cheese, butter, jelly, peanut butter, white bread and as many homemade baked sugary treats as a brown paper sack or small lunchbox could hold. Only the rich kids got potato chips. They were a luxury item.  Fruit was included when in season, which meant apples.  In those days apples were regarded as a danger to both man and beast. An apple, good aim and a strong pitching arm could be used as a defensive or offensive weapon.  When carved into chunks with your pocket knife, an apple was great bait to lure unsuspecting gophers out of their holes.  Many an apple ended up on the teacher’s desk.

Sunday school was more important than regular school and rightly so. School lessons were only meant to last a lifetime, Sunday school lessons were to last for an eternity.

In addition to chores and school experiences being similar, so, too, was the entertainment.  No televisions, computers or access to any social media. Your entire social circle consisted of relatives, neighbors, school and Sunday school classmates.  And, if you wanted to take a trip without ever leaving the farm, and your family was no longer growing hemp to support the war effort, you read a book and used your imagination.

This was a time when relationships were personal and more important than hypnotically staring at electronic gadgets. Communications were face to face or handwritten. What you said or did mattered.  There was no refuge behind a detached tweet or email for the communication coward.  If your words hurt someone, you saw the hurt, and it affected you. Unless of course you suffered from total lack of empathy or were actually soulless and very quick at ducking.

In many ways those were indeed the good old days.  For there was a different type of self. It was a time of selflessness, self-control, self-responsibility, self-discipline, self-determination, self-motivation and self-reflection.  Selfishness and self-esteem had not yet run amok.

It was quaint time where going to pick pie-plant (rhubarb) was cause for organizing a social outing that the local paper reported, “as a doing enjoyed by all!”

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This recipe for Easy Rhubarb Pudding Cake comes from the kitchen of my mother-in-law Lois Turgeon.  It is simple to make and so very, very good. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

1 (2 layer) yellow cake mix
4 cups of chopped rhubarb
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 pint unwhipped heavy cream

Mix cake as directed on the package.  Pour into a lightly greased 9 X 13 cake pan. Spread evenly. Mix rhubarb with sugar and spoon over the cake batter.  Pour unwhipped cream over the unbaked cake batter and rhubarb.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Refrigerate leftovers

Other rhubarb recipes on this blog:

Recipe: Good Neighbors, Great Rhubarb Cheesecake
Recipe: Grandmother Esther’s Rhubarb Torte and Poison Ivy Cure
Recipe: Two for a Penny Candy and a Dime a Dozen Rhubarb
Recipe: Playhouse in the Lilacs and Pies: Mud and Rhubarb
Recipe: Country School, Hot Potato Fridays and Rhubarb Bread
Recipe: Cure for Spring Fever: Songbirds, Sunshine and Rhubarb Crunch
Recipe: Slow Down and Break for Rhubarb

Children’s Rhubarb Story: Thor’s Stories: The Midnight Dinosaur Rhubarb Rampage. 

 

Children’s Story: Chloe the Water Lily Fairy Princess and Bunny Bedtime

Chloe the Water Lily Fairy Princess and Bunny Bedtime

Once upon a time in the tree filtered soft blue-violet light of the forest glade at the edge of a shimmering pond, beyond the green grassy meadow, inside the dark cool woods, beneath the great blue mountain—on a wide green lily pad, there lived a water lily fairy princess—named Chloe.

Chloe 1

There in the middle of the yellow and white lily blossom was her house.  The house was made out of the smoothest, clearest and whitest pond stones. The stones were cemented together with dandelion glue.  The roof of the fairy princess’s cottage was a thick thatch of blooming white daisies—pink, blue and purple centers of course.

In the midst of the forest glade, Chloe lived a fairy princess’s life in every way. The sun was always shining, raindrops were soft and warm and the wind only came as soft evening breezes.

Chloe 2

Chloe always wore the finest fairy princess dresses that sparkled like rain drops, shimmered with the colors of rainbows and floated about her like gentle evening breezes.  Her slippers were soft and delicate, for they were made from the pedals of wild pink roses.   Chloe’s fine, fragile fairy wings fluttered so fast that everywhere she went, her wings played a perfectly pitched merry melody of light.

The very beautiful fairy princess, Chloe, was known for her kindness and respect for others, along with excellent table manners and social graces.  As fairy princesses go, Chloe was a real peach.

This beautiful water lily fairy princess had friends aplenty. She loved sitting on edge of her lily pad in the evenings and being serenaded by croaky-throaty singing frogs. She enjoyed conversing with the wise old painted-turtle while they shared a cool pitcher filled with morning dew drops. She always was seen giggling whenever she received a mouse whisker tickle as she hugged one of her field mouse friends.  But, Chloe’s best friend of all was Laney the Mother Bunny.

Chloe 3

Laney the Mother Bunny and Chloe had been best friends forever and were often seen playing together. With Chloe flying overhead and Mother Bunny running beneath, away they would race through the cool dark woods.  After their outdoor play had ended, Chloe and Laney the Mother Bunny would go over to the bunny’s house—a bunny hutch. There they enjoyed having nice quiet chats while sipping on steaming cups of clover tea and sampling strawberry, blackberry and wild blueberry muffins topped with honey.

Life for this beautiful fairy princess was, oh, so good, because all of her wishes always came true.

Chloe 4

Early one morning, Chloe received a special postcard from her best friend Laney the Mother Bunny.  All it said was, “Come see me, I have a surprise to show you.”

Chloe put on her best dress, and rose pedal slippers and quickly flew off to see what this “surprise” could be.

Chloe 5

When she got to Laney the Mother Bunny’s hutch she knocked on the door and went inside. There in a soft warm fuzzy nest was the surprise—five new baby bunnies.  Chloe was shocked to say the least, but after a quick moment of thought realized that this was probably why her best friend was called “Mother Bunny” in the first place.  As Chloe petted the sleeping little bunny babies she thought, “These are just more bunnies to love.”

Chloe was filled with joy for her friend.  Mother Bunny introduced her to her new sons and daughters.  Bob was the oldest, followed by Bailey who seemed to hiccup a lot.  Then there was Boots with her itizy bitzy white fluffy fuzzy front paws. Followed by Bonnie Blue and Butler. Mother Bunny just loved that movie Gone with the Wind.

Chloe 6

Chloe went to help her friend with her new family every day.  At first it was easy, those baby bunnies just ate, grew and slept.  Why even their bedtime was delightful, the well-fed bunny babies went right to sleep and while they were all a-snoozing, Mother Bunny and Chloe ate muffins and sipped tea just like they always had done.

Every day the babies grew and learned new tricks, they were so cute.  First they learned to wiggle their noses, then their tails, and then one day they learned to—bounce.  Soon the neat nest in the hutch was filled with five busy bouncing baby bunnies. Those pink noses, fuzzy tails and flibber-me-jibet ears were never still.

When the baby bunnies were outside, they chased mice, dragon-flies and frogs, which worried Mother Bunny because bunnies cannot swim.  They would jump from mushroom cap to mushroom cap and swing on branches in the bushes. One day Bailey hung onto a large butterfly and was almost carried away!

As bad as things were when they were outside, bedtime was bedlam—a complete circus.  Bob, Bailey, Boots, Bonnie Blue and Butler would poke, tickle, pinch and fight with each other until Mother Bunny was practically in tears. Poor Mother Bunny could get no rest, her babies kept her busy every moment.

“If only she could just get those bunnies to bed and to sleep,” wished Chloe.  Chloe tried to help put the baby bunnies to bed, she sang to them, held them, taught them to count mosquitoes and showed them her entire rock collection, but nothing seemed work. “Maybe,” Chloe thought, “It would be best if I flew off to see how other mommies and daddies get their babies to bed. Then, I can come back and help Mother Bunny with these babies.” And, that is just what she did.

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Chloe, for the first time in her life flew away from the pond and ventured deep into the forest glade.  There she spied Henry the Bee flying from flower to flower, collecting pollen to take back the hive to make into honey.

“Henry,” Chloe shouted over his buzzing, “Do you have any baby bees back at the hive?”  “Oh, sure we do,” replied Henry.  “Well, if I may ask, how do you get those buzzing baby bees to bed?” inquired Chloe.   “Why baby bee’s stick to their beds quite nicely thank you,” boasted a proud Henry. He then flew off to find the next flower.

Sticking bunnies to their beds?  Bee babies and bunny babies are not alike.

Chloe flew on and entered the deep dark woods.

Chloe 8

In the dark woods high up on a tree branch Chloe spied Pat the Possum with four possum babies all hanging on her back.  The possum babies were fuzzy like bunnies so Chloe stopped to ask about possum pups and bedtime.  “Pat, how do you get those baby possums to sleep?” asked Chloe.  Pat, shouted, “I’ll show you.”

Pat the Possum grabbed onto the branch with her tail and let go of the branch with her paws. There she was hanging upside down by her tail, and no-pawed from the high tree branch swinging to and fro—just like a clean black stocking on a clothesline—with her babies still clinging to her back.

Chloe’s eyes widened and she held her breath.  The beautiful fairy decided right then and there that she wanted no part of Pat’s bedtime practice of hanging upside down from branches in trees by a tail, with babies on board.  It could only end in tears.

Possum babies and bunny babies are not alike.

Chloe flew on toward the bright grassy meadow under the great blue mountain.

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Chloe flew through the deep, dark, dank woods until the woods unfolded and opened to reveal a wide wonderful golden grassy meadow.  There in the meadow munching on sweet prairie grass was Eli the baby elk accompanied by his mother Dora.

After proper introductions had been made, Chloe asked, “Dora, be a dear and tell me how you get Eli to go to bed and to sleep?”  “Ernst, Eli’s father, comes every evening and bugles him to sleep by playing the blues. Ernst, has soul,” preened the regal Dora.

In her mind Chloe pictured a bugling mommy bunny blasting out the blues for bouncing baby bunnies, Bob, Bailey, Boots, Bonnie Blue and Butler and decided it would encourage hopping and bopping.  While as fun and entertaining as bugling the blues may be, it wasn’t appropriate for a bunny bedtime.

Elk babies and bunny babies are not alike.

Chloe flew on.

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At the bottom of the great blue mountain by a rocky rushing stream, Chloe spied Rory the grizzly bear with her two cubs Madeline and Mumfrey fishing for salmon.  Chloe and Rory were old friends.  Rory had visited the pond in the glade many times before and they also had gone honey hunting together. Chloe explained Mother Bunny’s situation to Rory.  Rory listened carefully to Chloe, and pondered the problem for a moment while still munching and crunching on her lunch.

The mother grizzly bear felt bad, but she had no good advice to offer Mother Bunny.

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Just then, Rory watched as her son Mumfrey made his little sister Madeline cry by slapping her in the face with a smelly dead fish’s tail.  For a grizzly bear mother enough was enough! Rory, stood up on her hind legs, bared her large white shiny teeth and let out a mighty roar—so ferocious that it scared Chloe.

Madeline and Mumfrey with heads hanging low slowly walked over to their mother.  Rory laid down underneath a great pine tree and her cubs cuddled in and were soon fast asleep folded into their mother’s soft furry arms.  “Why they look like a huge pile of teddy bears,” smiled Chloe.

Roaring and showing teeth would not work for a bunny bedtime.  Bear babies and bunny babies are not alike.

Chloe flew to the top of the great blue mountain.

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There standing on the summit of the great blue mountain, Chloe looked down the other side into a beautiful valley.  In this valley was a small farm. It was beginning to get dark and Chloe needed a place to sleep for the night.  So she flew down the mountain toward the farm.

First she came upon the barn and heard the animals inside.  Perhaps one of the farm animals would know a special secret that would help to get baby bunnies to go to bed.

It was warm and dark inside the barn, and smelled of alfalfa, straw, old wood and leather. After Chloe’s eyes had adjusted to the dim light, she saw that there were no babies in the barn.  Perhaps there was no one to help Mother Bunny after all.  As, Chloe turned to leave, she heard little squeaky noises coming from the hayloft.

Chloe 13

There in a straw nest was a mother cat and her new kittens.  Chloe was so excited.  They were fuzzy like bunnies, had pink noses like bunnies and they were in a nest like bunnies!  Chloe flew up and introduced herself to the mother cat.  She learned the mother cat’s name was Tammy the Tabby, and the kittens’ father was called Grand Ol’ Dan the Tom Cat. While Tammy the Tabby was sincerely nice, Grand Ol’ Dan required watching thought Chloe, he looked as though he might be interested in whisker tickling a beautiful fairy princess.

Chloe 14

As Ol’ Dan wiggled his whiskers and watched Chloe, Chloe watched Tammy the Tabby’s kittens bounce and frolic about in the hay loft.  Why those kittens even acted like the busy bouncing baby bunnies back in the forest glade.  So, Chloe asked Tammy the Tabby how she gets her lively litter of kitties to bed at night. “Well, I purr them to sleep,” replied Tammy.  “What is purring, can you show me how?” asked the confused fairy princess.  “Let me demonstrate,” then Tammy meowed to her kittens and they ran right over to her.  As she fed them their supper, Tammy started make a very pleasant sounding noise.

“This must be purring,” thought Chloe.  As she listened Chloe grew sleepy, and sure enough the kittens had all gone right to sleep too.

Baby kittens and bouncing baby bunnies are quite alike, but mommy cats are different than mommy bunnies— mommy bunnies cannot purr.

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It was a very sad Chloe that thanked Tammy the Tabby, and turned to fly out of the barn to return home to the glade in the woods.  She had not found any way to help her best friend.  She couldn’t stick bunnies to beds like bee babies, or hang them from their tails in trees like Pat the Possum.  Bugling them to sleep would never work, nor would showing teeth and roaring at them like a grizzly bear.  Purring would work but, mother bunnies cannot purr.  Chloe the beautiful water lily princess for the first time in her life had not gotten what she had wished for.  She couldn’t help her friend and she felt brokenhearted.

Lost in her thoughts, Chloe turned to leave the barn and noticed that night had come and it was black as midnight outside.  Just then a bright light appeared in the window of the farmer’s cottage.  Chloe decided it would be better to sleep on a cottage window sill than spend a night in the barn with that teasing Tom Cat, Ol’ Dan.

Chloe 16

Chloe stopped to pick leaves off the lilac bush to make a bed and found a purple Posey petal to use as a blanket. There on the cottage windowsill exhausted from disappointment and her long day of travel, Chloe quickly fell fast asleep.

Suddenly she was awaken by shouting, singing and laughing. Chloe stood on her tippy toes and carefully looked in through the window.

Inside the cottage she saw a room with four small beds and a whole gaggle of willy-nilly children running amok.  They were noisily bouncing on the beds, pinching, poking, tickling and teasing each other, but mostly were having a very good time.  “Why,” thought Chloe, “these willy-nilly children are behaving as badly as busy bouncing baby bunnies.”

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Just then the mother of the children walked into the room.  She smiled as she took in the merriment of her brood of children.  She didn’t say a word to them, but went over and sat down in a rocking chair that was in the middle of the room.  Slowly, she began to rock, back and forth, forth and back.

The children all stopped what they were doing and quickly jumped into their beds and pulled the covers up under their chins.  The mother rose from her rocking chair and went to each bed, listened to the child’s bedtime prayer and blessed each forehead with a kiss. Then, she went back to the rocking chair.  The mother waited until all of the children were still and quiet. Out of a large pocket, in her blue striped work apron she began to take out a huge…no wait… it was just a big book.

Chloe pressed her little nose to the glass as she strained to hear and see what the mother did next.   The mother sat back down in her chair, and in a low, tender, steady voice began to read the children their favorite bedtime story.

Chloe 1

“Once upon a time in the tree filtered soft blue-violet light of the forest glade at the edge of the a shimmering pond, beyond the green grassy meadow, inside the dark cool woods, beneath the great blue mountain—on a wide green lily pad, there lived a water lily fairy princess—named Chloe…”

Then, Chloe knew!  Her wish had come true and she knew how to help her friend Mother Bunny.  Busy, bouncing, baby bunnies and willy-nilly children are alike!   The best way to get them to go sleep at bedtime is to read to them.