The December Jack was one, I was invited to an Advent gathering for the Godly Play volunteers at our church. There was really no reason for me to be invited; I wasn’t a volunteer.
But our children’s minister, Dianne, knew that I loved the Godly Play approach to fostering children’s faith. She also knew I was struggling once again with the damp darkness that is Seattle in December. And she has a big heart. So she invited me.
The night of the gathering, I didn’t manage to get dinner made by the time Doug got home from work. I felt like I couldn’t go to the gathering, where I would get to eat a lovely meal, and leave Doug home with waddler Jack and no dinner.
He shrugged. “I’ll make something. Go.”
In true Kimberlee fashion, I wailed something about being a failure as a wife and mother and threw myself onto the kitchen floor where I lay in a huddled lump with my face pressed into the tile. (Sometimes, I feel astounded that my husband stayed married to me, that he didn’t just roll his eyes and walk out the door. I mean, really!)
Doug gently lifted me off my face. “Go,” he said. “Jack and I will be fine.”
I went. And I behaved like a grown-up. (I generally did, in other people’s houses anyway, even back then.)
Over dinner, I found myself sitting next to a woman I’d never met. She introduced herself as Nancy.
Dianne, who was sitting on my other side, said, “Nancy’s the reason I invited you, Kimberlee. She’s a writer, too. She writes children’s books.”
“Oh?” I turned to Nancy.
Dianne continued, “She wrote Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Do you know that book?”
I about fell out of my chair. “You’re Nancy White Carlstrom?” My eyes were big as the plate I was eating off of.
She nodded again and smiled.
“I love Jesse Bear!” I gushed. “My son is 14 months old. It’s one of our favorite books!”
That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, which, I admit, mostly consists of Nancy giving me autographed copies of her books and me gushing my thanks for the gift. And, okay, she really gives the books to my kids, but I’ve called dibs on them till the kids have apartments of their own.
Nancy is a writer’s writer, by which I mean she loves language. She explores it, unpacks it, follows it down rabbit trails and into mazes, rides its rhythms, and just has fun with it. Her books are lyrical and lovely and bear many re-readings.
Shortly after Luke and Ben were born, Nancy stopped by with two meals for our family. And two books, including my hands-down favorite of her picture books.
Jane brought the book to me yesterday morning and asked me to read it. I rarely say no when my kids ask for a story, so she and Luke and Ben piled around me on the sofa, and I read. It had been many months since I’d read it, and I was struck anew by the book’s paean of praise.
For each day of the week, Nancy captures a moment in time, a moment available to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. And illustrator Richard Cowdrey brings these moments to life with vibrant, joyful paintings.
As the book’s epigraph says:
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Every day is the day to (as Nancy says) “give thanks for all good gifts the singing week brings” and to “lift up [our] prayers with all God’s creatures—up, up, up.” Here, then, are my up-winging words of thanks this day:
2635. For orange poppies opening their sunny faces to the blue sky.
2636. For the humming of bees in lavender.
2637. For yellow-and-black wings of butterflies.
2638. For fennel flowers and the licorice scent of their leaves.
2639. For the chuckadeedeedee of chickadees flitting from branch to branch above me.
2640. For sunlight sifting through leaves.
2641. For a morning at Lake Union, launching Jack’s footy boat on its maiden voyage in the boat pond.
2642. For hours spent reading to my children.
2643. For two compliments from a friend.
2644. For Clare, who is teaching me to respond, “Thank you. It’s true.”
2645. For growth: I am no longer the woman who collapses in puddles of self-pity on the kitchen floor. Thanks (and then some) be to God!
Your turn: What are you thankful for?
Please list two (or three, or four—or 10!) things for which you’re grateful down in the comment box. Let’s lift up a hymn of grateful praise to the Giver of all good gifts!
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Linking today with Ann Voskamp, who inspired the gift list in the first place.