During Dawn Aldrich's open house for her book signing, I briefly scanned through her book and smiled. The illustrations were really cute, with bright, bold colors and wide-eyes characters. I knew it was a dream come true for Dawn, something she had been wanting to write for many years. To hold the fulfillment of a dream in your hands is an indescribable experience. What a blessing for her to finally see her book in print!
Yet, as I sat at the table the next morning and read the book more closely, I was hit by the message of the story. Tears sprang to my eyes as I began to realize that little Jenny May was someone I could relate to - that little girl was me.
Before I continue on, let me summarize the story for you: little Jenny May is frustrated by her family. She carefully makes her bed and dresses herself, but her mother never says, "Well done," to her. Her brothers argue over her head at the breakfast table and none of them say "you're welcome" when she politely says "please" or "thank-you." Dad always goes fishing, yet he never invites his little girl to come catch some fish with him. Her brothers love to play Kickball, but they never ask Jenny May if she wants a turn. Jenny May begins to think she is invisible to her family and decides to run away. On her way down the road she sees Grandma's house and decides to stop and and see if she has anything to eat. Grandma's always have something good to fill a grumbling tummy. She has a talk with Grandma as they make cookies together. Everything that Grandma says is exactly what Jenny May needs to hear and it makes her smile. When Grandma asks, "Do you still think you are invisible?" Jenny May answers, "Not to you, but just to everyone else."
Grandma encourages her to just ask to join her family in what they are doing. She wants her to learn that she needs to speak up; that she has a voice. Jenny May takes the cookies they made and goes off to share the yummy goodies with her family and when she speaks up, she finds they are eager for her to come and share their activities with them. Jenny May finally hears the words she had been yearning to hear from her family, simply because she discovered she had a voice and her voice was important too.
Oh, how important it is for children to realize they have a voice. Like I said before, I was that little girl. I did not speak up. I was a shy girl who kept to myself quite a bit. I did not speak up if I was too hot in the car, or if I felt a little carsick riding with other people. I did not speak up when I was with another girl my age and she was doing some things she should not have been doing. Maybe I could have helped her somehow, and shown her a path that would be better. I did not speak up when a group of girls decided another girl and I were really not a part of their group and put us in another room during an overnight getaway. We could hear them laughing and talking all night long, but we were the outcasts. I did not speak up when the town youth group left me behind and I decided they really did not want me around. If only I had thought my voice was important enough, and that my opinions mattered. Maybe then people would not have been so surprised to hear I could talk if I had spoken up more often. Invisible Jenny May spoke to my heart and confirmed what took me 30+ years to learn: what I have to say is important. God has given me a voice to use, and over the years He has given me wisdom to share with others. He wants me to use my God-given voice to share His love for me. Thank you, Dawn, for using your voice and sharing with me that everyone is important. Especially to our loving Lord Jesus.
This is for the young ladies who may feel so alone on Sunday morning: do not be afraid to speak up. You are beautiful and you are loved. Your voice is important. You are not alone in how you feel, and God sees you and loves you. :)
For more information on Dawn Aldrich, or to order her book, click on the picture at the top of the blog. It will take you to her website. God bless you!
As I sit here on my back deck watching my young men goof off with their friend on this amazingly beautiful evening, I wonder how I got to be so blessed. I have an awesome husband who loves me beyond words, loves the Lord with all his heart, and is trying hard to raise our brood for the Lord. He works hard to support us and give us a comfortable life. I have some amazing children who are growing up too quickly and are beginning to learn how to make major life decisions. Yes, they give me headaches and gray hairs, but they are children still and have a long way to go. The terrible twos and threes are over, but with each phase of life I find I enjoy them more and more as they mature and grow into Godly young men and women. My boys make me laugh and help me, and my girls make me smile and help me. My baby just makes me wish he would stay small and stop growing so we can continue to cuddle and keep his clothes from getting bigger and overtaking the washing machine like everyone else's do. I have an amazing God Who loves me and knew me before time began. He answers prayers and hears me when I call. He sees me through every phase of life and guides me in all that I do.
And so as I look back over this summer and wish it had not flown by so fast, I look ahead to what God has in store for us over the rest of the year. A new kindergarten class awaits my teaching, with excitement and adventure just around the corner. Unknowns are scary too, but I trust that God has everything under control. I pray for a great school year, for peace to be on each of my children as they learn, safety to be upon our school, for wisdom and health for the teachers, and for a blessed school year overall. May God be glorified in all I do and may He continually watch over us and bless my family.
So as a fond farewell to summer, I want to post a few pictures of our highlights from the last few months - it has been a wonderful - extremely busy, but wonderful summer.
I may have mentioned that during the years of my youth, my dad always took the time to take each of his children out on a special day we called, "Our Day," every year. From the time I was about six years old, we would take a day trip and do something of our choosing, alone with Dad. He did this with all six of his children. It was a highlight every year and we always came back with lots of fun stories and memories to share with the others.
During the two different services we had after Dad went to heaven, "our days" were brought up quite often and it made an impression on Joe. He realized how much of an impact my dad had on his children by spending some quality time with them. Joe made the decision that he was going to do the same thing starting this year and so began the first of many "days" to come in the life of our five children. About a week ago, he took JJ on a white water rafting trip up in New York, something that JJ chose to do. I must admit that the adventurer inside me was quite jealous with the fact that I could not attend this trip, but my heart felt great joy knowing that Joe and JJ were getting some great quality time together. When I was little and out on my 'day' it never occurred to me how Mom might feel being left behind. With six children to go out with, she was left six times a year. Now that I get to be in her shoes I realize that she made as much of an impact on the children as my dad did. Without her saying yes to the 'days' they might not have ever happened; she could have put up a fuss and tried to keep my dad home to spend time with her, but she gave him up for our sakes. I want to say, "Thank you, Mom, for loving us so much, and for sharing Dad with us in such a way that we will always have such beautiful memories of our times together."
Now to get over my jealous feeling that Joe and Alaina are going to see Joseph at Sight and Sound this week. I will get over it, with God's help, and I am going to pray they have an awesome time and make some good memories together. It will last her a lifetime.
A few years ago I worked for a cleaning company, kind of like Merry Maids, where I went to different homes and scrubbed them down until they shone. It was hard work, and I came home everyday exhausted from the hard, physical labor from bending to clean tubs and those hard to reach places. There were many different houses we did, with lots of varying circumstances of the people who lived in each one. I can remember one particular house we did that always bothered me when I went inside. It was a beautiful house, very big, with lots of bathrooms. My job was to clean the bedrooms and the bathrooms, so I always started on one end of the house and worked my way down to the other end. I remember getting to the last bathroom and as I scrubbed that large shower, I felt a heaviness inside. The Lord laid on my heart to pray for the children in the house. They were living a mixed up life, from what I could tell in the pictures I had seen in their rooms, and it made me sad for them. So I began to lift them up to the Lord, and it led to praying for my children, and for their future too. I began to say a line, "For the sake of the children, Lord, be merciful. For the sake of the children, Lord, be forgiving..." I thought about the future of my children, and what the world might be like when they are my age. I can remember my grandmother saying to me, "It was not like this when I was younger. Things have become so much worse and scary in the world." Now as I look back to the days when I was a little girl, I find myself saying the same exact thing to my children. Things have changed, from bad to worse. So for the sake of our children I pray.
We just finished up an awesome youth conference at our church, and though I did not hear all the messages, the ones I did hear were amazing. They were about standing strong in a generation that all bows down to the same god, the world, and nobody wants to stand up and be different. Nobody wants to be pointed out because it may mean there is a cost. Like the three boys thrown into the fiery furnace, they stood for what was right in their time. They would not bow down to the golden image their king had set up. We must choose to stand for what is right no matter the cost.
Then you take Lot, who moved to Sodom, which God wanted to destroy. The preacher made a very good point here: he said that it was not for the one reason we think of when we think of Sodom that God wanted to destroy the city. No, there is a list of sins in the Bible that were before the one that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Ezekiel 16:49 says, "Behold, this is the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." Does this not describe our country? God hates sin. All sin. Nothing is bigger or worse in His eyes. It is all the same. He loves people, but hates the sin they commit. That is why He came...to save us from our sin.
During the message the speaker said that we need to be righteous in a dark world, to be holy in a impure world, and to pray for the sake of our children. Those words hit me hard...those were the words God had given me years ago, and I have prayed them over and over again since that day. Yet, to hear it confirmed through a message to our teenagers, it made it grow even stronger in my heart to pray and beg God about this country for the sake of our children.
As a little girl, I spent hours in the woods playing, making forts, walking, and enjoying the wondrous beauty of God's handiwork all around me. To this day I believe I love nature so much because I spent time in it, learning the smells, sounds, and delicate markings of everything God's hand had created, right down to the smallest detail of the lines on a maple leaf. I learned to see God through the outdoors and He became real to me because of it. One other message that spoke to my heart was the one about falling in love with God. A young person may not fall in love with God so easily these days. With the fear of ticks and bugs, or kidnappings over the fence or at parks, and with the over abundant use of electronics, young people do not spend as much time outside as we once did. They spend more time in the house, staring at a stupid screen for hours on end, missing the beauty of what lies just outside their window. The soft gentle breezes blow, tapping on their windows, yet the shades remain down so the light will not come in and cause a 'glare on the screen.' They remain oblivious to the call of God around them, to the intricate details God has laid out in their own backyards, and we wonder why so many young people are not following after the Lord after they graduate? It is because God has not become real to them! It is because they have not fallen in love with Him. Yes, it may take a lifetime to fall in love, but the desire needs to be there. It may take years of seeing God work in your life; it may take many answers to prayers, but if the desire is not there then it will never happen. God died on that cross with you on His mind. He shed His blood so you would not have to pay for your own sins. He took them upon His own shoulders and bore them for you. I want to fall in love with Jesus and let my light shine for Him. I want to stand strong and be holy, for the sake of my children. Amen.