This is the story about a bright little boy named Arik who one day, while playing in the woods with his Daddy, began to see the world in a whole new way. With his parents and younger sister Julia, Arik shared a big house in the mountains with a purple beta fish, a cat named Espresso because she was so full of energy, and a big yellow dog named Casey.
Skipping under a green canopy of pine and oak, Arik loved to explore the trails that threaded through the forest near his home. The cold and clear streams seemed to sing as they careened happily through the steep mountainsides. And everywhere, if you paid attention, were hints of strange and fascinating creatures. For Arik everyday in the woods was a new adventure.
On this day Arik wondered about the fat sequoia trees so high you could barely see their tops. What made them grow so big? Or the tiny ants that lived in underground cities they built themselves; how many lived down there? Arik especially wondered about the birds. What made them float and glide through the sky?
Just then a brightly colored robin flew down into the tall pine Arik and his Daddy were standing under. Perched on a branch was a nest with eight, fuzzy faced, baby birds, their tiny orange beaks open wide as they bobbed their heads up and down and cried a persistent “peeep, peeep.”
“Are those birds very hungry Daddy”, Arik asked?
“Well”, answered Arik’s Daddy as he peered up into the nest, “it looks as though they have only just hatched from their eggs and, yes, I suspect they are quite hungry from the sound of them”.
Arik asked, “Was I hungry after I hatched, Daddy Bird”?
Arik’s Daddy laughed. “Oh yes, very hungry, and like these little birds here you made quite a fuss”.
It wasn’t long before Arik noticed that many other animals were also tending new-borns, like Mrs. Deer watching closely over her beautiful baby fawn. The fawn had big brown eyes and long awkward legs.
Further along the path they discovered Mrs. Bear teaching her two cubs how to pick blueberries. Arik liked picking blueberries too. Maybe, he wondered, if Mrs. Bear wouldn’t mind too much he could help the little cubs. But just then Arik’s attention was drawn to an Otter family. It was impossible to miss them with all their splashing and loud rollicking. Of all the animals in the woods that day the little Otters seemed to know best how to have fun, except that is for Casey who was so excited he couldn’t stop jumping up and down.
“Daddy Bird”, asked Arik, “were all these animal babies born the same way”?
“Oh no”, answered Daddy. “See those little turtles over there? They hatched from eggs that their mother carefully placed in the sand along the river long before they were born”.
“Not in a nest”, asked Arik?
“No”. “You see Son, God has many ways of bringing babies into the world and creating families. Those busy little Otters, for example, lived in Mrs. Otter’s tummy before they were born”.
“And the fawn too”, asked Arik? “Did she live in Mrs. Deer’s tummy before she was born”?
“Yes, Baby Bird”, answered Daddy. “Not only the fawn but those little Bear cubs too”.
This surprised Arik. “Mrs. Bear must have had a really, really, big tummy”, he said.
“Well, I hope for Mrs. Bear’s sake that her cubs were a bit smaller when they were born than they are now”, said Daddy. “But I suppose Mrs. Bear’s tummy did get rather big”. “Speaking of tummies, said Daddy, mine’s starting to growl. Are you ready for lunch Baby Bear”?
“I sure am, Daddy Bear, let’s go”.
On the walk home Arik wondered a lot about the animal babies they saw and the different ways God created them. As he thought more about the Bear cubs Arik began to wonder about how he was born. Mommy liked to tell he and Julia that they were God’s gift to Daddy and her. Sometimes Mommy would gather them together, squeeze them tight and they’d all pretend they were in their own special nest. Mommy called it their “love nest”. Mommy’s love nest was one of Arik’s favorite places in the whole world. Did this mean that he, like the little birds, was hatched from an egg?
The next morning Arik was still thinking about all the ways God created animal families.
“Mommy Bird, he asked with a big grin, before I was born did I live in an egg in our love nest?”
“Well,” Mommy replied with surprise, “…not exactly.”
“Oh I know”, said Arik excitedly, “maybe you put Julia and I in the sand like the little Turtle babies. Is that how we were born?” Now Julia was excited too.
“I’m very sorry to disappoint you two”, laughed Mommy, “but you and Julia weren’t hatched from eggs at all”.
Then Arik remembered the other animals, like the Otter and Bear cubs that Daddy said lived in their Mommy’s tummies before they were born.
“Mommy”, he finally asked, “Then did I come from your tummy”?
Mommy then bent down close to Arik and looked at him intently with her almond shaped eyes.
“Not in Mommy’s tummy, my dear little Baby Bear, but in another very special place.”
Now Arik’s eyes got big, and in a hushed small voice he excitedly asked, “Where Mommy, where is the special place?”
“In my heart”, she answered and in the most tender voice he had ever heard.
“In your heart,” Arik asked with wonder?
“Me too Mommy, did I live in your heart too” asked Julia?
“Yes my little love, you too”.
Mommy then pulled Arik and Julia close to her and hugged them like they’d never been hugged before.
Now Arik wasn’t quite sure what it meant to live in Mommy’s heart. He had never heard that babies could live in their Mommy’s hearts, but hearing it somehow made him feel good inside.
Later that day Arik’s family was invited to a Birthday party at the Hayase's. Jonathan, who was Arik’s closest friend next to Casey, was turning four. At the party there were lots of other kids with their families. The Hayase’s always knew how to throw a fun party and this one was the best Arik could remember.
After the party on the walk home Arik remembered that Mrs. Hayase’s tummy was getting bigger and bigger and he figured that meant she was going to have a baby. Then he thought again about what Mommy had told him about living in her heart.
“Mommy Bear”, asked Arik, “did your heart get real big before I was born, like Mrs. Hayase’s tummy?
Daddy and Mommy looked at Arik and smiled. “Come here Baby Bear”, said Daddy. “Let’s sit down beside this brook for awhile. I think it’s time to tell you the story of how God made our family.”
Daddy then explained that before Arik was even as big as a little seed God had already planned to give him just the right family. Daddy told Arik how He and Mommy had been asking God for a little boy. Because God loved Daddy and Mommy He always listened to their prayers. So when the time was right He planted in each of their hearts a seed of love for a beautiful little boy that He was already beginning to create. The seed God planted grew and grew until Mommy and Daddy had so much love for the little boy that their hearts could barely contain it.
Arik listened carefully as Daddy told the story.
At this same time, Mommy went on to explain, God knew a wonderful young woman. In her tummy was another seed created by God, a seed of life that would grow into a special little boy until just the right time when he was ready to be born. Now when the young woman found out about the little boy growing inside her she was both happy and sad. She was happy because she too loved the little boy and was excited that God was creating him. But she was sad because she knew that she could never be the family the little boy would need and that God really wanted for him. She told God about her sadness and He reminded the young woman how much He cared for her and that she shouldn’t worry. God loved the little boy more than anyone and already had a wonderful plan for him. When the young woman heard this she was filled with peace.
“Baby Bear”, Daddy asked, “do you understand what we’re telling you?”
“I think so Daddy Bear,” answered Arik. Though Arik did not understand everything Daddy was explaining, somehow he knew that he was the little boy they were talking about.
Arik then asked, “Did I live in that young woman’s tummy before I was born Mommy?”
“Yes Baby Bear”, answered Mommy. “She lovingly carried you until the time God planned for you to be born and come home to Daddy and I”.
“But how could I live in your hearts at the same time”, Arik asked?
“God’s marvelous works are not always understood”, answered Daddy. “Remember how we learned about all the different ways God creates the animal families? Well, God also makes people families in different ways. The wonderful thing is
that no matter how God chooses to create families it always comes from His great wisdom and love”.
Then Arik’s Daddy asked, “Baby Bear, do you love Casey”?
“Oh yes, Daddy Bear, this much”, Arik said with his arms out-stretched as far as they would go.
“But where do you love Casey”, Daddy asked?
Arik just looked at Daddy. Then he looked at Casey. He’d never been asked this before and he was thinking really hard. Finally, a little smile began to appear on Arik’s face. All of a sudden he stood up and began jumping up and down. Casey started jumping up and down too.
“In my heart, Daddy! I love Casey in my heart”.
“That’s right, Baby Bear, just like Mommy and I love you in our hearts”. And in a mysterious but very wonderful way, when you love someone this much a part of them lives in your heart, just like you live in ours”.
“Mommy, do you and Daddy love me that much”?
“Oh yes, Baby Bear”, answered Mommy, “even more.”
When he heard this, Arik jumped into his parent’s arms and squeezed them as tight as he could. Julia jumped in too. Not wanting to be left out Casey leaped into the growing pile excitedly licking everyone’s faces. Soon they were all tickling one another and laughing as hard as they could.
Later that night after dinner and bedtime stories Arik and Julia were starting to get sleepy eyed.
“Mommy”, Arik asked, “let’s cuddle in your love nest.”
“Yes, Baby Bird, let’s. Get in here you two”.
Feeling warm and safe in Mommy’s love nest Arik looked up and whispered softly…
“Mommy, do you love me”?
“Oh yes my precious little Baby Bird, I love you more than you can know”.
“But where do you love me Mommy”, he asked?
As Mommy placed Arik’s hand on her heart she whispered, “here Baby Bird, in the same place you’ve always been”.
Arik smiled, and as he held Mommy his sleepy eyes closed and he nodded off in peaceful sleep.
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