Betty Jenkins’s weather prediction turned out to be correct. The rain started at about five o’clock Saturday evening and continued most of the night. Amber awoke to a soggy Sunday morning. She jumped out of bed and ran to the window to check on the bird family. There she saw the parents huddled together on the nest. The branch the nest was hanging from provided some protection, but the birds had to be getting wet.
“Guess we’ll be taking the car to church this morning,” John said at breakfast.
Melissa and Chris also attended the Community Christian Church. Laura went to the Catholic church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, on the other side of Bluesky. When Amber arrived for Sunday school, Melissa and Chris were already there. Amber took a seat next to Melissa.
“That was kind of fun yesterday, watching the shuffleboard tournament,” Melissa said.
“I thought you said it was boring,” Amber reminded her.
“That was when the boys were there,” Melissa said. “I pretend like everything is boring when boys are around.”
“Why?” Amber asked.
“I just do,” Melissa said. “It’s part of my mystique.”
“That’s something the boys have to figure out.”
“You’ve lost me,” Amber sighed. “I can’t figure it out either.”
“We were surprised to see you girls at the shuffleboard tournament yesterday,” Chris said as he walked over to where they were sitting.
“We were surprised to see you there too,” Amber responded. “Do you like volunteering?”
“Actually, it’s a lot of fun.” Chris smiled. “Most of the seniors are pretty cool, especially Gus. He’s a funny guy.”
“How about the other seniors? Are they cool about having you help them?” Melissa asked.
“Most of them,” Chris told her. “Some of the seniors can be grouchy, and they think we’re noisy. But most of them are friendly and happy to see us.”
“Is that why you do it?” Amber asked.
“When we first moved to Bluesky, I was riding my bike past some old guy’s house. I was on the street, not on his property. But he came out and yelled at me. He told me to get away or he’d call the police.”
“That’s awful,” Melissa said. “I’m surprised you want to help them at all.”
“When we started our Boy Scout project, I told my scoutmaster about it. He said that some people think all kids are troublemakers. Of course, that isn’t true. It’s easy to think that all old folks are grouchy. But that isn’t true either.”
After church, while the family was eating lunch, Amber talked about the Sunday school lesson. “There were two brothers. One did everything he was supposed to do. The other brother made a big mistake. He asked his father for his inheritance. Then he went off on his own and wasted it on the wrong kinds of things. When he ran out of money, he was very poor and starving. He decided to go back to his father and beg his father to give him a lowly job. Instead, his father forgave him and threw a big party because his son was home.”
“What do you think the story means?” John asked.
“I think that God is like the father. He forgives us no matter how big a mistake we make, and he is always happy when we come back to him,” Amber answered.
“That’s exactly right,” John said with enthusiasm.
“What about paying his dues for his don’ts?” Amber looked at her mother.
“Did he get his inheritance back?” Mary asked.
“No,” Amber said thoughtfully. “So he paid for his don’ts by losing his inheritance?”
“That’s right,” Mary said. “He had his father’s forgiveness, but there are always consequences when we don’t choose to do what is right.”
“I hope I only make little mistakes,” Amber said.
“Me too,” Mary added. “But remember, you have a family that loves you no matter what mistakes you make. We’ll always be here for you.”
It was still raining a little after lunch. The Snyder family settled down in front of the television to watch a baseball game. Everyone, that is, except Amber. She decided to go up to her room and work on some of her sketches. The colored-pencil set she received for her birthday would come in handy coloring the bird sketches she had made earlier.
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