Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Moving to a New Home

By Mary Vee
Genesis 46:30-47:12

"The air smells sweet for the first time since I've been in Egypt."  Joseph turned his head to listen. "There, can you hear them?  I've haven't heard the birds sing like that before."

One of the guards furrowed his brows. "Are you well, my lord?"

"Yes. Yes of course. In fact I'll race you to the palace!" Joseph glanced at the guard's frown, cleared his throat, and resumed walking as a governor of Egypt should.  How can I hold my head regally and keep a serious look on my face when all I want to do is laugh, sing, and dance? He glances back at his father and  the five brothers chosen to go with him before Pharaoh and laughed.

No matter how hard he tried to be serious, his heart leapt, smiles burst on his face, songs rang in his soul, and his feet bounced.  Joseph's memory flashed back to the day before when he rode his chariot over to Goshen and met his father.  He hadn't seen him in over twenty years. He cried. His dad cried. They hugged and laughed, then cried some more.

The doors opened before Joseph as he approached Pharaoh's chamber.

Pharaoh signaled Joseph to approach.  "Ahh, Zaphnath-Paaneah what need have you?"

Joseph forced himself to be serious. He took a deep breath and bowed before Pharaoh. "My father and my brothers have arrived in Goshen.  They brought all their possessions. Here are five of my brothers." Joseph signaled the guard to escort his brothers before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh nodded approval. "What is your occupation?"

"We are shepherds.  The pastures have dried leaving our herds without food. The famine is severe in Canaan.  With your permission, may we live near here in the land of Goshen?"

Pharaoh tipped his head as though thinking.  He turned to Joseph. "Zaphnath-Paaneah, your father and brothers have come to you."  He raised his arms wide. "The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers live in the best of the land."

The brother's eyebrows jump high.  They looked at Joseph.

They don't believe Pharaoh.  Joseph smiled and nodded to his brothers.

Pharaoh lowered his arms. "If your family chooses Goshen, then they may live there. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock."

Joseph held back a chuckle when his brother's jaws fell open.  He nodded again to let them know Pharaoh was serious.

Joseph bowed again. "My father is here."

Pharaoh signaled approval for Jacob to be presented.  "How old are you?"

Jacob bowed as best he could. "I am 130 years old.  My days have been short compared to my fathers and I've seen many troubling times."

Jacob took a deep breath. "If I may give you a blessing, Pharaoh?"

Pharaoh nodded his approval.

"May the Lord God bring blessings upon you and your family and Egypt."  Jacob's feeble arm fell back to his side.  Joseph ran to his side.

Pharaoh raised his hands. "Go and help your family settle in Goshen making sure they have everything needed."

Many families in the world didn't have food or other things they needed during this time.  Pharaoh didn't let all of them move to Egypt.  Why did he let an old man like Jacob and his sons move there?  Why did he command all their needs to be met?  What had Joseph done that impressed the Pharaoh?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Tip #3 -Mission Trip Part 2

By Mary Vee

What to say on your Make a Missions Trip

Last week we talked about ways you could set up a Missions trip near your home. Now that you've decided where to have your trip, and how you can help someone, what can you tell them about Jesus?

Here are two ideas for you:

1.  You could tell the person you are helping what Jesus has done for you.  Here are ten ideas to get you started:

**Tell them about a time Jesus took care of you and that is why you want to help take care of them.

**Tell them about a time Jesus caused you to smile, and that is why you want to help them smile.

**Tell them about a time Jesus comforted you when you were lonely and that is why you want to be their friend.

**Tell them about a time Jesus gave you food and something to drink and that is why you want to give them food and something to drink.

**Tell them about the special letter (the Bible) Jesus wrote to all of us and that is why you want to write them a special letter.

**Tell them how you know Jesus loves you, and that He loves them too.

**Tell them about a time God helped your family, (by not getting in an accident, sending someone to help with a flat tire, having enough money to buy things you need, not running out of gas before you arrived at the gas station, etc.) and that is why you want to help them.

**Tell them about a time God healed you from a cut or sickness and that is why you want to help them.

**Tell them how singing Jesus songs makes you happy and that is why you want to sing Jesus songs to them.

**Tell them about a time Jesus helped you (find something missing, do a project, remember something, etc) and that is why you want to help them.

Take your time.  The person will enjoy listening to you. Don't worry if you stumble.  The person won't mind, he or she wants to spend time with you.

2.  You could tell them a Bible story you know.  Here are ten suggestions:

     Jesus birthday
     David and Goliath
     Daniel in the Lion's Den
     Gideon and his tiny army win the battle
     Joseph saves the world from starvation
     Elijah and the prophets of Baal
     Peter walking on water
     Paul and his shipwreck
     Jesus feeding the 5000

Or pick your own idea.  Tell the story that is easiest for you to remember.  The person will love to listen to you.  Don't worry if they ask questions you don't know.  Just say you don't know the answer then tell them something else about Jesus.  Maybe, just maybe, you'll be the first person they hear something about Jesus from. Maybe they will ask you to tell them more!  Maybe they won't--they might just think about your words and then ask someone else.  Either've been a missionary. :)

Next week:  Using the wordless book as a tool.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jacob Finds His Missing Son

By Mary Vee
Genesis 46: 1-29

Jacob groaned as he climbed out of bed.  It's not fun getting old. He opened the tent flap.  Sounds the boys are finished packing. 

"Good morning, Father!"  Benjamin snatched a piece of fruit and chomped into it.  "You slept in."

"Yes, I guess I did.  I need my strength for our journey to Egypt."

Benjamin laughed.  "It's not that far.  Think of it this way, you'll see Joseph in a few days."

Jacob nodded.  "Imagine that.  I thought I'd never see him again--and now I'm going to Egypt to meet with him"

"Here, have some fruit. I need to get back to work before Simeon gets after me. You'd think he'd let me get out of chores since I saved his life--but noooooooo."

Benjamin tossed the core and walked to the carts.  Moments later Reuben, Levi, Simeon, and Judah stopped by.  "Everything is packed.  We're ready to go as soon as you are, Father."

"Good, good.  As soon as someone takes down my tent we'll leave."  Jacob turned towards the fields and squinted.  His eyes didn't let him see much any more.  Still, he could smell the earth and picture the fields.  "I wonder if I'll be coming back."

Jacob's sons took turns carrying him on a liter.  After traveling twenty-five miles, they came to Beersheba.  Jacob ordered everyone to stop for a rest.  "I need to offer thanksgiving sacrifices to God."

As his sons prepared the sacrifices Jacob remembered the stories told by his father Isaac.  He told his sons and their families that this was the place where his grandfather, Abraham made a covenant with King Abimelech and called on the Lord, and where God tested Abraham's obedience.  It was also the place where his father Isaac was told three times by God that He was with him. Jacob remember the night he ran away from Esau and slept in Beersheba.

Jacob offered the sacrifices and thanked God for His blessings.

God spoke to him that night. "Jacob, Jacob."

"Here I am."

He said, "I am God, the God of your father; don't be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you in Egypt, and I will also bring you back again."

Jacob's eyes popped open.  "It's morning!  What a great morning."

Reuben tipped one eyebrow up.  "You OK?"

Jacob stretched and hurried to the liter.  "I'm ready to go to Egypt.  God is with us, what more could I ask?"

Jacob wasn't afraid of going to Egypt anymore.  In fact he felt adventurous.

Right before Egypt is a town called Goshen.  Jacob and his family stopped for a rest.  As they sat down for their evening meal, Benjamin called out, "I see someone's coming.  He's dressed like an Egyptian."

The brothers all watched the Egyptian as he rode closer.  They heard the Egyptian shouting something, but they couldn't understand.  Judah squinted.  "I think--you know-- that just might be---"

Jacob's heart pounded in his chest.  "Is it Joseph?"

Levi hushed everyone to listen for visitor's voice.  Jacob's eyes popped wide. "Can you hear?  It's Joseph!" Jacob stood and held his arms wide.  "Joseph, at last."

The Egyptian leaped off the chariot and ran to Jacob.  "Father, Father!"

Why was Joseph dressed like an Egyptian?  What was special about Beersheba?  How did Jacob know he would be safe in Egypt?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Telling Dad the Truth

By Mary Vee
Genesis 45:21-28

Judah stared at the carts stuffed with gifts.  Servants hauled donkeys and carts before the entrance of Joseph’s palace.  “They’re brimming with clothing, food, and provisions for the journey.  Look at this, Reuben!”

“Unbelievable.  There’s so much here!”

The eleven brothers walked along each cart amazed at the amount.  They rifled their hands through the garments, and sifted through the grain.

Dan laughed.  “Won’t Father be surprised?”

Reuben lowered his head and sighed.  “Yeah, he’ll be happy to hear Joseph is alive all right…I only hope the news doesn’t kill him.”

Judah laid his hand on Reuben’s shoulder.  “It’s going to be OK.  Father will be all right. You want to take the lead?”

Reuben wiped a tear then shook his head. 

The brothers grabbed ropes and led the donkeys and carts home.  A few days later they arrived in Canaan. 

When they reached the top of the last hill, Asher pressed ahead.  “There’s father!  One of the servants must have seen us and told him we arrived.”

Judah grabbed his arm and held him back.  “Let Reuben go first.”

They pulled the carts to the family camp and stopped. Jacob held his arms out.  “My sons, you’ve returned.  Now tell me, you know my eyes are not young, how many are you?”

Reuben stepped forward and accepted his father’s hug. “We are eleven, Father.”

“Eleven?  God be praised! Simeon has returned? And Benjamin is with you?”

“Yes, Father. We are all here.”  Reuben cringed as the words fell out of his mouth.  How am I going to tell him Joseph is alive?

Jacob walked to each son and hugged him.  When he reached Benjamin, he hugged him longer.  “Benjamin, I’m glad you’re home.”

“Father, you wouldn’t believe the sights we saw in Egypt. And guess who was there?”

Judah raced up and shoved his hand over Benjamin’s mouth.  “Perhaps Reuben should tell him, don’t you think?”

Benjamin backed away and nodded.

Jacob squinted towards Reuben.  “Have you something to say?”

“Yes—I—well—yes we have news for you.”  He took a deep breath and slowly released the air.  “When we reached the front of the food line in Egypt, a servant notified the governor. Moments later the governor appeared. He eyed Benjamin then had the servants escort us to his palace.  Not long after, guards led Simeon into our room. He brought water for us to wash then escorted us to a banquet hall. After our meal the governor told everyone to leave the room except us.”

Reuben combed his fingers through his hair and turned to his brothers.  They lowered their heads and sighed.  Jacob raised his hands. “Is that it?”

“Well, no.  The governor stepped closer to us—and—and he said---“  Reuben bit his lip. “He said he was Joseph--our brother.”

Jacob grabbed his chest and stumbled back.  The brothers help him to a chair.  “Don’t play tricks on me, Reuben.  I am an old man.  Don’t tell me such tales.”

Reuben walked closer and placed his hand on his father’s shoulder.  “I’m speaking the truth. My brothers are witnesses.  The governor of Egypt is your son, Joseph.”

“It’s true.”   Judah gently pushed his way through the other brothers and knelt before his father.  “We all saw Joseph. Come see the gifts Joseph sent you.”

Judah and Reuben helped Jacob stand.  Jacob walked to each cart and felt the bundles. “What is all of this?  Did you pay for these things?”

Reuben smiled. “They’re gifts from Joseph.”

“Then he truly is alive?  My son Joseph is alive?”  Jacob raised his hands toward the sky. “My son Joseph is alive!”  He turned to Reuben, Judah, and the others. “I must go see him before I die.”

Reuben laughed at the twinkle in his father’s eyes. “He wants to see you too.  He sent carts and donkeys and everything we’d need for the return trip.”

What did Reuben have to do?  Did he do it?  How did his heart feel afterwards?  Did you ever have to do this?

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm Bored Tip For the Summer #2

By Mary Vee

Try this unique summer idea:

Make-Mission Trip

Here's how to start:

A mission trip can be held anywhere, even in your backyard!  Pick a place where there are people who need help.  Find a way to meet their need.  As you do, tell them about Jesus.

Where could you go to be a missionary?  Here are some ideas:

a.  Grandparents home:  If your grandparent or other relative lives nearby, ask them if you can help clean their yard, vacuum their floor, read a book to them, go for a walk with them, listen to stories of their youth, tell them stories, wash their dishes, water their garden, or other idea that lets you spend time with them.  While you're there, be sure to tell them about Jesus.

b. Neighbor's home: Ask if you could help with yard work, walk their dog, paint their fence, sweep their sidewalk or perhaps you can think of another idea that let's you help them.  While there, be sure to tell them about Jesus.

c. Local park:  Take garbage bags with you to a local park.  Pick up garbage carefully.  Offer to be a play partner with a child who doesn't have one. While you clean and play, tell those around you about Jesus.

d. Local mission: Offer to volunteer in some way that the mission needs.  Perhaps you could get donations, sweep, sort donations, fold clothes, or serve meals. While helping, tell those around you about Jesus.

What other place could you suggest?  What other way did you think to help others?

One year I went on a mission trip to Honduras.  Yup, that's me in the picture. I traveled with a group of twenty people from different countries up mountain roads to remote villages in need of medicine.  Most of the people on my team were medical people. I wasn't I didn't know what I could do to help.  The leader asked me to teach the children Bible stories while their parents visited with the doctor. It ended up being an fun time.  God can used our skills to show Honduran people He loved them.

Next week we'll talk about how you can talk with people about Jesus.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I AM Joseph

By Mary Vee
Genesis 45:9-20

Joseph tried to stop sobbing, but his muscles refused. It was a relief to tell his brothers who he was.  He’d hope they’d crowd close and try to hug him all at once, but they didn’t.  What was I thinking?  They barely know me any more.

He looked at his brothers and called each one by name.  “I am Joseph.  Look, don't be afraid, you aren't the one who sent me here as a slave, but God.  He's made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”

The brothers shook their heads in disbelief.  Simeon whispered, “He doesn’t look like him. It might be a trick.  Be careful.” 

Joseph tipped his head and swiped away tears. “Oh really?  Shall I repeat words you said the day I was thrown in the pit, brother Simeon?

Simeon's squinted as if trying to see Joseph in the governor's face.

Joseph slid over to Reuben. “Hurry home to father and tell him Joseph is alive.  Let him know God has made me lord of all Egypt.  Bring him here to live, and bring all your families as well.  I will see to it that you and your families never hunger during the remaining five years of famine.

Tell Father that you've seen my own lips give this message and that you’ve seen all God has given me to do in Egypt.  Hurry before he grows hungry and sick.”

Joseph walked to his brother Benjamin, look in his eyes for a moment then hugged him. His head fell on Benjamin’s shoulders as he wept puddles of tears.  “Benjamin. My brother Benjamin, how I’ve longed to see you.”  After a few moments, Joseph moved back to his oldest brother, Reuben then to Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun hugging and weeping on each brother’s shoulders. 

Judah walked up to the governor and studied his eyes.  His jaw dropped.  “Joseph?  It’s really you?”

“Yes. I truly am your brother, Joseph."

The brothers laughed and slapped each other on the back.  "It's Joseph!"  

"He's alive--and--a--governor?  Unbelievable." 

"Yeah, maybe we should have thrown you down the pit so you could be king, Dan."  

"Funny, Napthali....very funny.  Here, let me throw you on the floor."

The twelve sons of Jacob spent a few moments swapping stories and updating Joseph about the family.  

When Pharaoh heard the good news about Joseph's brother's visit he was pleased.  "Bring you father and all you families here to me.  I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land. Take my carts to bring your belongings. Also, don't be concerned about bringing your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours."

The brothers faces lit up with each word from the Pharaoh.   The next morning they left for Canaan.

When the brothers finally admitted the truth and showed they were truly sorry for what they had done to Joseph bad things stopped happening.  God doesn't always teach us this way, but sometimes He does.  God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to take the punishment for our sins that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life. God will forgive you for whatever you have done wrong.  All you have to do is ask.  

Do you have any questions I can help you with?  You can email me at 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can Judah Save His Little Brother?

By Mary Vee
Genesis 44:14-45:8

Joseph stepped back slightly from the balcony edge as the guards came into view with his brothers. Their heads are bowed. They aren't struggling to get free. This isn't what I expected.

He turned as their footsteps echoed in the corridor. Then a knock. "My lord, we've brought the thieves."

Joseph shook his head. There is no way they've changed. My brothers sold me into slavery. They only care about themselves. I must be strong--yes strong--and save Benjamin from them. He can live with me here. They'll probably cheer when they leave. He balled his fist and raised his chin. "Bring them before me."

The guards shoved the Hebrew men into the room as they wood any group of criminals. They stumble but regain their balance. Without a signal all eleven brothers bowed to the floor before the governor.

Joseph folded his arms and scowled. "What deed have you done. Did you honestly think a man such a I would not know you stole my private cup?"

Judah raised his eyes slightly. "What can we say to you, my lord? What could be our defense to clear our names?" He shook his head and sighed. "God has found our sin. Here we are, your slaves, both we, and the one with whom the cup was found." Judah lowered his head to the floor.

"Oh, No." Joseph raised his hand. "Far be it from me to keep all of you here. The only one to be my slave is the one who had the cup. As for the rest of you, leave. Leave in peace and go to your father."

The guard grabbed Benjamin and pulled him to the side. He signaled the brothers to get up. Judah turned to face the governor. He pressed his hands together and took a deep breath. "O my lord, please, let your servant speak and do not let your anger burn against me, for you as powerful as Pharaoh."

Judah retold the who story of what Joseph asked them to do from their first visit to this time. At the end of his testimony Judah looked at the governor and bowed his knees. "Now therefore, please let me stay instead of the boy as a slave to my lord and let the lad go u with his brothers. How can I go to my father if the lad is not with me and risk seeing the evil that would come to my father?"

Joseph's heart boomed in his chest. He cares about Benjamin! He cares about Father! He looked at the other brothers to see what their faces showed. They've huddled toward Benjamin. Their faces, they truly care about him.

How can I bear this pretense any longer? I must tell them who I am. "Guards. Servants. All but these eleven men--leave this room at once."

"Yes, my lord." The brother's eyes grew wide as they found themselves alone--alone with the governor.

Joseph couldn't hold his tears any longer. Tears fell down his cheeks and his body sobbed. He cried so loud the whole household heard. The eleven brothers looked at each other and cowerd toward the wall.

"Come near," Joseph spoke in perfect Hebrew. "Do not be afraid. I am Joseph. Is Father still alive?" His brothers stayed back toward the wall. They don't believe me. "Please come near."

Judah signaled them to walk to the governor. Joseph took a deep breath and wiped tears away. He held his arms out toward them. "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold as a slave. Don't be angry with yourselves because you sold me here because God sent me before you to preserve life. God sent me before you to preserve food for you and your families that the Hebrews might continue to live on earth."

Many years had passed since his brothers had seen Joseph. He had changed. He wore Egyptian clothes, he became a governor, he spoke the Egyptian language. The brothers had no idea this man was Joseph. What do you think they did when they found out?

God took care of Joseph all these years while he lived in Egypt. Life was difficult for him, but the survived. God gave him the knowledge and skills to organize a program to store food for the famine.

God has a plan for you as well. How has God taken care of you this week?

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm Bored Tips

By Mary Vee

This week’s I’m bored tip is: Make-a-Camp

Camps are a lot of fun, but sometimes we can’t afford to go. This year, whether you go to camp or not, take a week and “Make-a-Camp”.


1. WHO-WHAT-WHEN-WHERE: What kind of camp will you make? Is it a family camp, a neighborhood camp, a backyard camp, a family room camp, basement camp, or other kind of camp? Decide when and where to have your camp and who to invite. Get permission from parents and you are good to go!

2. SEND INVITATIONS to campers. Even if you plan a family camp, your parents and siblings need an invitation.

3. DECIDE A DAILY SCHEDULE. Camps usually schedule the same thing at the same time every day: eating, singing, resting, activities, and meeting. What time will your camp start? What would you like for the meals (check with your parent to get your menu approved)

4. EAT IN A DIFFERENT PLACE. Eat outside: on the front porch, in the tree house, under a tree, in a tent, or another creative place.

5. SLEEP IN A DIFFERENT PLACE. Get a sleeping bag, or old blankets and sleep in the living room, in the backyard, in a tent, or another creative place.

6. SING A NEW SONG. Ask the campers what songs they know. If you need, have the campers make up a new song.

7. LEARN SOMETHING NEW. What can campers learn at camp? Would you like to learn about bugs, trees, pirates, animals, music, rocks, dinosaurs, ships, cars, princesses, fashion, horses, castles, or do you have another creative idea?

8. PLAY A NEW GAME. Make up the best game ever. Pretend campers are bugs, pirates, sailors on a ship in the high seas, or play hide and seek in a make-believe castle.

9. WRITE A LETTER HOME. Yes, even with your Make-a-Camp, you can write a letter home. Imagine how your family will smile when they find a letter from you telling them about your week at camp.

10. JOURNAL. This will be a very special week full of great memories. Jot down what happens to help your remember

11. TIME WITH GOD. Have campers spend at least ten minutes together learning about God. Each one could tell their favorite Bible story or Bible verse, or something God has done for them. Prayer time could give campers a chance to share needs they have.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Final Test

By Mary Vee
Genesis 44:1-13

After the meal with the eleven Hebrew brothers, the governor of Egypt left the hall. He strolled down the quiet corridor leading to his office. I wish I could go home, back to the promised land God gave my family. He looked out the window at the sky. "Don't misunderstand, God. I know you brought me here to save the world from famine. I--I just miss my family and the fun I could have had with them all these years."

He sat at his desk and thought about the work he needed to do. He shoved a stack of papyrus off his desk. "Steward!"

The door opened. "Yes, my Lord."

The governor stepped out to the balcony overlooking the grain storehouses. "Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry. Put each man's money in the mouth of his sack. Also--."

He leaned over the balcony and heard his brothers voices from the window on the lower floor. I can't hear what they're saying. They sound happy--kinda cheerful. How can I be sure they are truly sorry for what they did to me? Hmmmmmmmmm. I know--

The governor turned back to his steward. "Also, put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his grain money."

The steward tipped his head, shrugged then left.

The governor leaned on the balcony again and watched the people milling about in the court. How much do the older brothers care about the youngest? How will they protect him? Maybe they won't. They didn't take care of me.

He listened for his brother's voices again. In fact, the governor stayed on the balcony the rest of the evening listening to their voices.

The next morning, he called his steward. "Release the eleven Hebrew men. Tell them they may return to their country."

The governor watch them gather their donkeys and walk out the court. A tear dripped down his face as they left. He returned to his desk to do his work.

After the sun moved in the sky a short ways, the governor called his servant. "Go. Find the eleven Hebrew men. When you overtake them, say, 'Why have you repaid evil for good? You have stolen the lord Governor's cup.'"

The steward bowed. "Yes, my lord."

Hours later the steward knocked on the governor's door. "I have done as you said. I overtook the men and spoke as you said. One man said, "Why do you accuse us? We wouldn't do such a thing. We brought back the money found in our sacks the first time to prove our innocence. How could we steal silver or gold from the governor? Go ahead and search. Whoever has his cup, let him die. The rest of us will be slaves.

"I agreed but said,'Whoever has the cup will be the slave, the others may go.' I began with the oldest man's sack. When I opened the youngest man's sack, they gasped when I pulled out your silver cup."

The governor rose from his chair. "Was that their only response?"

"No--they tore their clothes and cried out. The whole group came back with the youngest brother to protect him."

The governor's mouth fell open. "All of them? They all came back with him?"

"Yes, my lord."

Sometimes we feel discouraged when people disappoint us or do mean things. Joseph, who is the governor, discovered that his brothers had changed. What was different about them? How had God worked in their lives?

What did you see for yourself in this event that God included in the Bible?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What's Going On?

By Mary Vee
Genesis 43:24-34

Reuben yanked his brother Simeon from Benjamin's arms. "Great to see you, brother. How was prison?"

Simeon hugged his brother. "Terrible. To tell you the truth, I began to wonder if you'd come back for me. What took so long?"

Asher slapped his brother on the back. "You know father, he wouldn't let Benjamin leave. When the food ran out, Judah told him we wouldn't go to Egypt to buy grain with out the kid."

Dan rolled his eyes. "Can you imagine us bothering to come here without him? The governor would have turned us away in a flash."

The brothers took their turns greeting Simeon. Moments later a servant brought water in a basin and towels. Each brother washed his feet.

Reuben put his sandals on and called his brothers close. "We need to prepare the gift father sent. The guard said the governor would come at noon. Let's get busy."

They showed Simeon the fruits, balm, honey, spices and myrrh, pistachios and almonds. Simeon helped them unpack the gift. "Wow! Father sent a lot."

Benjamin reached for an almond as a servant opened the door. He slid the nut back and stepped behind his brothers. A guard stepped inside. "The governor is here. You are to come with me."

Reuben signaled his brothers. "Grab the gifts."

He escorted them to a hall with three sets of tables. One table had a single chair and was set up on the dais. A second group of tables sat in a decorative side alcove. A third table was placed in the center of the hall. It had exactly eleven chairs.

The guard led the brothers to the front of the hall where the governor stood. The brothers bowed down to the floor and laid their gifts before him.

The governor turned to his interpreter to state his message. "Is your father well? Is the old man of whom you spoke still alive?"

Reuben raised his head. "Your servant, our father, is in good health. He is still alive." The brothers lowered their bodies on the floor.

The interpreter spoke for the governor again, "Is this your younger brother of whom you spoke to me?"

The brothers all nodded. They raised their heads and noticed a tear in the governor's eye. He looked at Benjamin. "God be gracious to you, my son." Then, without warning, the governor rushed out of the hall.

The brother's raised their bodies looked at each other and whispered, "Why did he leave?" "What did we do wrong?" "Are we in trouble?"

Twenty minutes later the governor returned. He spoke to his servants then walked to his chair. The servants escorted each brother to a specific chair at the center table. Reuben looked down the row at his brothers and leaned over to Simeon. "The servants placed us in order of our birth. How did they know?"

Simeon shrugged, "I have no idea."

Reuben watched the servants serve their food. Each brother received a good portion, but Benjamin's plate had five times more. "How strange. Why did the governor give Benjamin more food?"

Levi took a sip of his drink. "I have no idea what's going on. But for now, I plan to enjoy this meal. Who knows what will happen next."

Even as the brothers enjoyed their meal, they puzzled over what happened in the banquet hall. Who was this governor? How did he know the birth order of the brothers? Why did treat Benjamin special?

Do you know the answers? Is there a secret clue? There will be times in our life when we are puzzled about things that happen. Talking with our family and friends will help us understand. God gives us many resources to figure out puzzles: His Word, our church, our family, and our friends. Do you have a question that is puzzling you?

Monday, June 7, 2010

End of School Year Tip

By Mary Vee

OK, so you're done with school--wahoo! Here is a tip that will give you a bubbling feeling inside. Take a moment to write a thank you note to your teacher. Nope, it can't be from Mom or Dad, or...anyone else. It needs to be from you.

I am a teacher. I can't tell you how good I feel when I get cards or notes or even emails from my students. I don't stop caring about them when the year is over. I remember each one, from every year I've taught. So...take a moment and write a note to your teacher. Guess what? Even if your teacher was your parent, they need this letter too.

Some ideas to choose from for your note:

1. What you liked best about the year.
2. Who your best friend was at the end of the year.
3. What you plan to do this summer.
4. What you plan not to do this summer.
5. Ask him or her what book they plan to read during the summer.
6. Tell them what you decided you want to be when you grow up.
7. Give them one compliment.

When you're done with the note or letter, include something like a drawing even if it is small. Don't forget to sign your letter!

Ask your parent to help you address the letter. After sticking a stamp on the envelope, mail your letter.

Tah Dah--you have been a blessing to someone!

Note: One year my daughter did home school with a video program. At the end of the year she sent a thank you note to the video teacher. At the end of the summer, we took a vacation to visit the teacher. She really enjoyed meeting the real person!

Well, did you write the note? Was it fun? Click on the button to tell us your ideas of what we could include in the note.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Joseph Finally Meets His Little Brother

By Mary Vee
Genesis 43:15-23

Of course Benjamin had to travel in the middle of the group. His brothers guarded him like he was a baby. They wouldn’t even let him snitch some of the fruits, honey, pistachio nuts, or almonds their father packed to give to the governor in Egypt. And at night, they wouldn’t let him do hardly anything when setting up the camp. “You might hurt yourself,” they said. Benjamin rolled his eyes. Yeah right.

Reuben wouldn’t even tell him where he hid the money. Each brother brought a double payment to make up for the coins found in their sack on the way home the first time. Reuben and Judah wouldn’t let anyone have any fun.

As they drew near to the capital city, Benjamin’s heart pulsed in his head like a drum. The buildings! Magnificent buildings rose high into the sky. Reuben led them down a narrow street of shops. Blankets, pottery, paintings, every kind of food imaginable!

Benjamin strayed to one shop to look inside. Asher grabbed him by the shoulder. “Come on. We need to see the governor before he closes the food line today.”

At the end of the street, Benjamin found himself in a large court packed with people. Judah moved near him. “Stay close to me. I don’t want you getting lost in the crowd.”

The brothers squeezed in line, inching their way to the front. Two hours later they appeared before the governor’s workers. “State your name and business.”

“I’m Reuben bar Jacob. These are my nine brothers. We’ve come to buy food.”

“Reuben bar Jacob, you say?” The worker left his desk. A few minutes later the governor appeared.

Benjamin gazed at the regal governor. He and his brothers bowed. Judah. The governor spoke to a servant then the servant turned to them. “Follow me."

Benjamin stood. "Judah, where's he taking us."

"I don't know. He said he would release Simeon if we brought you. But now I'm not sure what's going on."

The brothers walked closer together whispering as they followed the servant. They turned a corner and walked down a street to a large home. The servant escorted them into a small room and shut the door. Reuben looked around the room. "This is the governor's house!"

Benjamin walked over to the window. "Why did they bring us here?"

"I know why," Levi flung his fingers through his hair then paced. "It's because of the money that was in our sacks. Their going to accuse us of stealing the money."

Asher rolled one fist into his other hand. "They'll take our donkeys and sell us as slaves."

Benjamin's eyes grew wide. "Maybe we shouldn't have come."

Judah took a deep breath. "No harm will come to you, I will see to that."

The steward opened the door and stepped inside. Reuben pushed forward. "Sir, if we've been brought her because of the coins in our sacks, we are innocent. We paid the money. On our journey home, we opened our grain sacks and found what we paid. To prove our innocence, we've brought double the money to pay back our debt. We have no clue how it got in our sack."

The steward held up his hand and smiled. "Don't worry. You are not in trouble. Your God and the God of your father has put the money in your sacks. I received your payment."

Benjamin and the others sighed relief. The steward opened the door and signaled a guard to come forward. The guard entered with a prisoner.

"Simeon!" Benjamin ran forward and gave his older brother a hug. "Simeon, the governor released you!"

Simeon laughed. "That's because he saw you! You got me out of prison, little brother."

God has given several stories in the Bible that show how he uses younger people, shorter people, different people, and all sorts of people to do the jobs needed to be done. Can you think of a time God used you to help someone?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Benjamin's Request Denied

By Mary Vee
Genesis 42:38-43:14

Benjamin sighed. His brothers tried to talk their father into taking him to Egypt. It was the only way the governor would release Simeon from jail. I wouldn't mind going to Egypt. I'm not afraid.

His father, Jacob, stood firm. "I'm telling you, Reuben. I won't let Benjamin go. His brother, Joseph, is dead and now he is left alone."

The brothers looked at Benjamin. He wasn't sure what their eyes said, but it didn't seem good. He looked down at the ground and shuffled his feet. If I went, I could get Simeon out of jail. "Father, I want to help."

Jacob shook his head. "You're not going Benjamin. If I lost you...I'd...I'd die. No. I won't change my mind."

Benjamin's brothers turned away in a huff. He heard them muttering. Great, now they'll be mad at me.

Days and weeks passed. No one said a word about Egypt to keep from upsetting Jacob. After a while the grain bin grew empty. One morning, Leah, Jacob's wife became concerned. "I can't make bread. We're out of grain. Benjamin, go tell your father we need more."

Benjamin walked out to the field and found his father with a handful of dry dirt. "The grain is gone. What do you want us to do."

Jacob rolled his thumb in the powdery dirt. "The rain still has not come." He dropped the dirt and brushed his hands on his tunic. "Call your brothers. Tell them to meet me here."

Benjamin found Reuben first. "Father wants to meet with all of you. He's out by the field."

Reuben nodded. "I'll help you get the others."

Benjamin followed his brothers, but made sure he stayed toward the back of the group.

"The grain is gone." Jacob turned toward his sons. "As much as I hate to say this, you need to go to Egypt to buy more."

"Father, the govenor won't sell us any food unless we have Benjamin." Judah rubbed his temple. "He distinctly warned us, saying he would never see us unless our youngest brother came. If we can take Benjamin we'll go, but, if you refuse then we won't bother with the journey."

Jacob huffed. He raised his fist and paced. "Why did you tell him you had another brother in the first place?"

"But he asked about our family." Levi picked at the gate. "If we didn't tell the truth, we'd all be in jail right now. We didn't know he'd say we had to bring Benjamin back."

No one spoke. The brother's looked at each other trying to figure out what to say.

"Send Benjamin with me." Judah pressed his hands together and held them close to his face. "I will watch him. We'll go, buy the grain. If I don't bring him back safely, let me bear the blame forever." He stepped close to his father. "Look, if we hadn't waited we could have gone to Egypt and been back by now with more grain. Our families are hungry."

Jacob walked away from his sons a few steps. He gazed out at the dusty, empty fields. "Take your brother and go back to Egypt. And may God Almighty give you mercy before the governor that he may release Simeon and return Benjamin. Go. Leave at once."

Benjamin ran back to his tent. "I get to go to Egypt!"

Why didn't Jacob want Benjamin to go to Egypt? Sometimes we ask our parents if we can do things or go places and they say no. Why do they do that? What did the brothers do when Jacob said "no"? What does God want us to do when our parents say no?