“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
I ran as fast as I could around the side of the house to the back corner of the yard and to Marvin’s pile of branches.
“Hey Marvin, are you in there? Come out. I’ve got something great to tell you. Where are you, Marvin?”
Marvin wasn’t in his house. I looked up in the trees, but he wasn’t up there either. I looked over to the cow field to see if he was at the fence talking to Spots, but they were nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, I heard someone giggling behind the old chicken coop. The fur on the back of my neck stood up as I growled and ran towards the chicken coop.
I thought, “If there’s a stranger in my yard, I’ll…”
As I turned the corner around the coop, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
There was Marvin, Spots, and Chester the goat standing by the fence with some fresh carrots on the ground in front of them.
“Surprise Jake, Happy Birthday!” they all shouted at the same time.
“How did you guys know that today was my birthday?” I asked.
“I heard the shouting coming from your house earlier,” Marvin said.
“So I sneaked up and looked in your kitchen window. I saw the colored sticks on fire and the presents on the table and I knew that today must be your birthday.”
Spots was jumping up and down with excitement. “Marvin came and told us that today was the day. We wanted to give you a birthday party, too. We’ve been getting it ready for days so that it would be a surprise.”
“Look Jake, Chester saved us his carrots. We know how you love carrots. And we have presents, too! I brought you a ball that I found in the cow field and Marvin found some old socks in a garbage can for us to play tug with.”
Marvin pulled back an old rag that had been covering the presents, and there lay a faded tennis ball and a dirty pair of socks that Marvin had tied together in a knot with his little possum hands.
My eyes filled with tears. I loved the brand new presents that my adopted family had gotten me, but I believe that these old worn out gifts were the best of all.
I remembered Daddy reading a story from the Bible about a poor woman who could only put a few pennies into the offering for God while the rich men put in much money.
But God said that the poor woman’s offering was worth more than all of the other riches that had been given because her few pennies were all that she had.
This is how I felt about my friends. They had given all that they had.
“Thank you so much,” I said. “This is the best birthday surprise that a fellow could ever have, and you are the best friends in the world.”
Marvin wiped something out of his eye and said, “Enough of this mushy stuff, let’s eat those carrots before they get any older.”
“Baaaaa,” said Chester. “That’s right, and then we can all play ball with Jake’s new present.”
Marvin handed out the carrots and we were just starting to eat, when suddenly there was a strange but familiar noise coming from the grassy field.
“Oink, oink, snort, snort, grunt” went the sound. We looked, and there came Rambo the pot-belly pig waddling up from the end of the field.
“Hello, Boys. I hope I’m not too late for the party. You know, it takes a little longer for a big fellow like me to get around. Happy Birthday to my good buddy Jake,” snorted Rambo as he got closer.
“Thank you, Rambo” I replied. “I’m glad you could come to my Birthday Party. Come on over and have some carrots.”
“Hooray,” shouted Spots. “Rambo’s here!”
“I didn’t want to say anything,” Marvin said. “When I ran over there this morning to tell him that today was Jake’s birthday, Rambo said that he wasn’t sure if he would be able to come.”
“I wasn’t sure,” said Rambo, “because I’ve gotten bigger since the last time I sneaked out through that hole in my fence, and I knew that I wouldn’t fit through it anymore. But my new little friend here helped me dig and make the hole bigger so that I could get through.”
“Friends, let me introduce you to…now where did she go?” Rambo turned and looked behind him, but nobody was there.
We all looked behind Rambo and out in the field, but we didn’t see anything. Then something caught my eye. There was a black shadow lying out under the cedar tree where my parents found me.
“There she is” said Rambo. “She’s a little shy.”
“Come over here, Jasmine. These are our friends. Nobody is going to hurt you.”
The black shadow began to slowly move toward us, and as she got closer I couldn’t keep from staring.
(TO BE CONTINUED)