I can’t say it enough: I love my momma. She is the sweetest, kindest, and strongest spiritual giant that I know.
I am the baby of the family, the youngest by about 8 1/2 years, the “surprise”. And yes, for that reason alone, I was spoiled, not so much with material things growing up, but my mom just had more time to devote to me than had I been born closer to my brother and sister. One of my favorite times with her was bedtime. In fact, it was at bedtime one night when I was around 5 years old that I prayed the sinner’s prayer and accepted Christ into my life. Never underestimate the power of the gospel in a child’s life.
And it was at bedtime that my mom would read to me, and of course the themes and stories progressed and matured as I did (one of my favorite stories as a wee one was Sleeping Beauty, I think it was the crazy beautiful colors and the beguiling look of pure evil in Maleficent’s eyes that captivated me). If I had to pick, though, these would be the two most formative books that she read to me:
The first is Joel, a biography of a boy who, on September 15, 1979, when he was only 22 months old, was involved in a devastating accident that left him with burns over 85% of his body. He was burned after a tractor trailer crashed into the car he was in, resulting in the rupturing of its fuel tank. He was rescued from his parent’s burning car by a stranger. The tissue damage he suffered included the loss of the fingers on his right hand, his left hand entirely, his ears, and damage to his skull. This is his story and his parent’s story.
The second story is one that 99% of you will recognize, that of Joni, this is a woman, who at the age of 17, dove into a shallow part of the Chesapeake Bay. She suffered a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down.
During her two years of rehabilitation, according to her autobiography, she experienced anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, and religious doubts. However, she learned to paint with a brush between her teeth, and began selling her artwork. To date, she has written over fifty books, recorded several musical albums, starred in an autobiographical movie of her life, and founded Joni and Friends (JAF) in 1979, an organization for Christian ministry in the disabled community all over the world.
Of course I can’t tell you every last detail of their stories, but these two, out of the many titles that my mom read to me over the years as I snuggled up against her shoulder, had the most impact–and who knows, it’s possible that these titles were the ones that gave me the courage to write my very own story. I think a lot of times, we can get so caught up in projecting this perfect image of ourselves, “I’m healed, I’m better, I swear!” when, truthfully, here are two people who can’t hide the deep hurts because they are physical and that’s what I find so inspiring, we share in the struggle with them, but we also gain this galvanizing perspective that God can use anyone, at any time under any circumstance no matter how devastating the loss.
So yes, Charlotte’s Web is great (we’re reading that right now), but how about throwing George Mueller’s biography in there too next story time?
What have you been reading with your kids lately?