It wasn’t too many days until number three came home from the emergency room, and the house was bustling again with three little girls. All felt righted in her little world. The end of the summer was near and she knew her days of freedom were numbered, she longed to explore this new place and find all the hidden spots where an overactive imagination might run wild. But momma was a little reluctant after what happened to her little sister, so she settled for running down the big hill that was part of their back yard, finding roly poly bugs to play with, and running through the sprinkler in the summer heat.
It wasn’t too many days until it was bedtime before the first day of school. She rushed through a shower, she never really understood what all the fuss was about. I mean, why did a person have to bathe every single night? It seemed like a bit much to her, but she did as she was told. Once she showered she pulled on her favorite pink fuzzy cotton night gown and wrapped her long hair up in the towel, piling it high on top of her head. She swung the hem of her nightgown back and forth and realized it used to touch the floor. But these days she noticed there was at least enough room between her nightgown and the floor to put a small building block and it made her proud.
She was growing up, even though momma told her to slow down.
She walked quickly to her bedroom, mostly because the floor was cold, found her hairbrush and attempted to tame the unruly wet mane. She was supposed to brush her teeth, but she took toothpaste and rubbed it on her tongue instead, this was so she would pass the breath test if momma chose to give it.
She was finally ready.
She crawled up in her twin bed, grabbed her pen and paper that were closed safely in her green binder and carefully laid them out on her lap. It was bedtime, the time she’d picked to write her book. She’d decided she wanted to tell stories, but it proved tougher to actually write them down than she thought. She wasn’t giving up, though, she laid the binder on her lap and began to write words she hoped would start to tell a tale. No one had ever told her to do this, there was just this notion in her head that she should, so she did.
Her book was a fantastical story about a fairy princess and a mean witch; the ultimate duel between good and evil. Of course good would win, she figured good always won whether in real life or fairy tales. She would one day tell of a lesson that felt like good didn’t win, but at eight years old she hadn’t learned it yet. Her story this night was headed down the familiar road of good overcoming all, and she loved writing it.
It seemed like no time had passed when momma came in to tell her goodnight. She tucked the blanket up high around her neck and kissed her on the forehead and gently reminded her that Jesus loved her and so did her family. She drifted off to sleep with sweet dreams of fairy princesses and sweet momma, it was a good life.
The next morning was a fanfare of emotion as all the little girls in the house would be starting a new school. One minute it felt exciting, like a new adventure and the next it all seemed scary and she desperately wanted to go back to her old school where she already had friends and knew the teacher’s names. The fear in her heart had grown substantially since number three had her accident a few weeks earlier. She understood now that bad things could happen at any minute, what she didn’t realize then and would understand later is that some of her sweet innocence had been stolen that summer. She was no longer naïve about how unsure life could be.
It was a tough lesson and her young mind hadn’t processed it yet, she just knew to be afraid of the unfamiliar.
Momma made sure they were ready and marched all three to the bus stop which happened to be right in front of the church next door. She stood dutifully and waited for the big yellow thing to pull up, open its doors and cart her off to a place she’d never been. When she arrived at her new school, it felt much bigger than her last one. It didn’t take her long to make a new friend and she quickly decided this new place wasn’t going to be so bad.
Running and playing on the playground was her favorite, especially the slide, with the swings being a close second. She wore the same pair of jeans most days, only when momma forced her to put them in the laundry did she go a day without them. All of this washing stuff seemed like such a bother. Her morning routine consisted of flying out of bed, snatching on her favorite jeans and a t shirt, zipping upstairs to eat a bowl of grits and back down to pretend to brush her teeth and hair. Then she would fly out the door to meet the yellow bus and eventually find herself in her third grade class at school.
She had the whole morning down to an art.
One morning she was especially excited as the teacher had told the class there would be a spelling bee the next day. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she might fare pretty well since she liked words and all. The entire third grade gathered in the cafeteria to start the process of eliminating students based on whether or not they could spell the word the teacher called out to them. The first time around the room sent many kids back to their class, but she had spelled her word correctly and now it was time for round two.
She had butterflies with more butterflies in her stomach.
There were still so many left in the bee and she really wanted to win that golden trophy that said “3rd Grade spelling Bee Champion” on it. She hoped like the dickens she could make it through round two and her mind was still thinking that exact thought when the teacher stood right in front of her with the big book that held all the spelling words in the world, she figured.
Your word is “know.” Then the teacher used it in a sentence. “This is a word that you should know.”
Her mind went blank, there was more than one “know.” I mean, which one did she want? Was it “no” or “know?” Oh, how her third grade mind whirled. All eyes were on her and the teacher was looking over her big book and right into her panicked eyes.
Her heart picked up the pace, how DO you spell “know?”
This is probably the earliest memory I have of my love of words. It’s not something I identified until I was an adult. I thought everyone loved words and everyone could put them down on a page, nothing too special about that. It wasn’t until my greatest tragedy that I realized how comforting words were and are to me. They became a balm when I needed it so badly. It still amazes me that anyone would want to read them, I certainly don’t have anything profound to say. I just find a great sense of comfort in saying to you so many of the things that go on in my heart, and I find many of you relate.
It’s like a connection.
It wasn’t until I started this search for meaning in my life that I began to think way back to a time when my heart was still naïve and relatively unharmed and found that I loved words even then, I just hadn’t identified it. I now realize that words are my birthright gift. Basically, I was born with a raw talent and I’m learning through trial and error how to use it.
It’s been so powerful for me to walk through this process and begin to understand my heart a little better.
Last time we were together I told you the earliest memories I had of realizing bad things can happen at any time. This week I’m starting us on the journey of when I discovered I love words. The more I remember and piece it all together the more I am convinced the Lord starts His work in us from the time we are young, we just don’t always recognize it. It can take a tragedy or a big life change or a person to open our eyes to something that was always there.
Our unidentified gifts.
You may not even realize or understand your birthright gift, the one you were born with that no one else can accomplish, but I am convinced it is in you, in your heart just waiting to be brought out, dusted off and refined.
Ask God to help you remember the thing that used to make you the most happy, the thing that you’ve taken for granted since childhood. You might discover there is more to you than you realize, a gift that’s being overlooked and underused.
This could be your time of discovery.
It wasn’t long until the teacher reminded her that she only had a few more seconds until her time would be up. Then her turn and chance at the golden trophy would be gone.
“I repeat, How do you spell know?”
To be continued…..
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17