Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

#44- Lessons from a Duck

A Character story about obedience.

"Boy, am I sleepy," Julie yawned as she plopped down at the table for breakfast. "Was Joshua up in the night?"
"Yes," Mrs. Jensen replied, buttering a hot slice of toast. "He stands up in his bed calling for me most every night. He couldn't be hungry. I think he's just insecure and needs to know we are all there."
"We tried something different last night though that seemed to work well," Mr. Jensen added. "Do you know what it is?"
"You didn't spank him, did you Daddy?" Julie asked.
"No," Mr. Jensen chuckled.
"My guess is that you beaned him on the head," Jason quipped.
"Jason Jensen!" Julie scolded. "They would never do that."
"And I think Jason knows that," Mr. Jensen said with a smile. "Seriously, most nights I am so sound asleep that I don't hear Joshua at all. But last night when he called, I heard him and got up before mother. I simply assured him that we love him and then in a firm voice, I told him to lie down and go to sleep. Sure enough, he lay right down and was soon fast asleep."
"That's not very tricky," Julie said. "How come Mom couldn't do that?"
"She can, of course. But perhaps a dad's voice commands authority in a special way. I'm mentioning this because it brings to mind a lesson I want to read you from the book tonight. It deals with something I want to remind you of before I leave town."
"That's tomorrow isn't it?" Julie sighed, not expecting an answer. "I hate to think of your being gone a whole week. I'm really going to miss you, Daddy."
"So will we all," Mrs. Jensen assured them, "but it is part of his work so we must be willing to accept it without complaining."
"So what are you going to read us in the nature stories?" Jason asked.
Mr. Jensen laid down his spoon and wiped his face with his napkin. "Sorry. You'll just have to wait until tonight to fine out."

That night after supper, the family gathered in the living room. "See if you know this," Mr. Jensen began. "What is probably the only duck that has a nest high in a tree?"
"In a tree?" Jason questioned. "I wouldn't know. I thought ducks built nests in the reeds and stuff."
"Most do. But the one I'm thinking of sets up home in holes in the tall trees. It is called the wood duck." He showed the twins a picture of the brightly colored male. "Their nest could be twenty to even sixty feet in the air although the average is ten to twenty feet. There the female lays up to a dozen eggs, one each day. Only when they are all laid does she begin to incubate them and, since she waited, they all hatch at about the same time. But two or three days before the chicks hatch, the mother duck does a strange and interesting thing. Know what it is?" Both shook their heads so Mr. Jensen continued. "She listens for the peeping sound of the young in the shell and she begins to talk back to them. Peep, peep. Honk, honk. This talking goes back and forth."
Julie laughed. "That sounds silly."
"Oh, but it isn't. It is very important, for during this time BEFORE the chicks hatch, they are learning to recognize the voice of their parents. And that could save their lives."
"Like when an enemy comes and she warns them, right?" Jason added.
"Yes, that's part of it. But I'm thinking of something that happens even before that. When it's time for the chicks to leave their nest, they still do not know how to fly. Mother wood duck flies to the base of the tree and begins to call to the chicks. "Honk, honk, honk," she calls. One by one they recognize her voice, crawl to the opening in the tree, and jump!"
"Jump?!" Julie said in surprise. "But they're sixty feet in the air! Won't they get hurt if they can't fly?"
"It would seem like that, wouldn't it? But God protects them with the soft leaves on the forest floor. But listen to this. The wood ducks must be quick to obey the soft voice of their mother. She cannot stay and call for a long time, because enemies will also hear her. Wood ducks that do not obey her call and jump, are doomed to perish for she will never return to the nest."
"Wow!" Jason said. "That's sad. But I suppose they all obey, right?"
"No, I'm afraid not. In fact, they have found that if the mother is taken from her eggs during those few days before hatching, the chicks will not readily know and respond to her voice. Scientists are finding this to be true of people too. A mother or father who reads to a child before he or she is born will find that baby more interested in the subject read when they are older. They will be more responsive to that parent's voice too."
"That's amazing," Julie said. "Is that why you read to Joshua from the Bible before he was born?"
"Yes indeed," Mr. Jensen answered with a smile. "And perhaps that is one reason he is prone to respond to my voice as he did last night. Of course, it's not how loud the parents talk that counts. Instead the children are needing to obey the faintest whisper as soon as they recognize that it is the parent's voice. So here is the lesson: I will be gone for a week, school will be out, and mother will not be with you all the time. You will need to be sensitive to obeying not just what we say, but also what you already know we want. That small voice is called your conscience, and it will be telling you very softly that you are either doing right or doing wrong. It is like a very quiet voice of dad and mom when we are not around."
Jason nodded. "I know what it is because sometimes I fight against what it's saying to me." Julie agreed.
"We all face that," Mr. Jensen assured them. "But this week, I am asking you not to fight it, but obey it. That will be best for everyone, especially you!"


PUZZLE: How many times do the two hands of a clock point in the same direction between 6:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. of a single day?







ANSWER: eleven. Can you figure out when they will be? Start at 6:33.