Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life changing literature, a post by Kathy

Recently, I was perusing our book shelves in search of our next summer read aloud. While running my fingers across the shelf, they stopped when I came to one particular book, Lois Lenski’s Strawberry Girl. I took the book off the shelf, thumbed through the pages and smiled. This book had brought two families together and changed their lives of both forever. Our family affectionately refers to this one particular summer as “The Strawberry Girl Summer.” Please allow me to share our story with you.

Last summer before we left on vacation, I asked our six year old daughter to select two books for me to read aloud while we were traveling. The two books she selected were A Cricket in Times Square and Strawberry Girl. To be honest I had reservations about reading Strawberry Girl. However, she was so insistent, that after talking it over with my husband, it was decided I would read it. After I had finished reading the final chapter she said, "The family across the street are like the Slaters. Someone needs to tell them about Jesus." She was right; the family across the street are like the Slaters. The family consisted of a single mom, who was an alcoholic with five children. The family members had made poor decisions in regard to life choices: joining a gang to obtain acceptance, choosing to solve their problems with the use of drugs and alcohol, to experience self-gratification via marital relations outside of marriage were considered the “norm” for this family. I did agree with her, someone needed to tell them about Jesus, and I hoped that someone else would be called to do it.

About a month ago our daughter requested for me to read Strawberry Girl again. Interestingly enough when I began the book, our pastor began a series on "loving others as Jesus did." When we finished the final chapter of Strawberry Girl she said to me again, "Mom the neighbors across the street are like the Slaters. Someone needs to tell them about Jesus." Only this time I knew the someone to tell them about Jesus would be our family.

The weather where we live became warm and the neighborhood kids began to come out to play, including the little girl who lives in the house across the street. I was not thrilled she wanted to play in our yard, however, I remembered what my daughter had said, and so we invited her to play. Interestingly enough the opportunity came up when she was having dinner with us one evening to invite her to a children’s program at church. She was enthusiastic about it, so we took her with us. Over the summer we continued to form a relationship with this child and her family which gave us the opportunity to “tell them about Jesus.” During the end of summer, the family was forced to relocate to another city because their poor life choices had caught up with them. As I read the final page of “Strawberry Girl” I sighed, closed the book and placed it back on the shelf. This family is in our thoughts and prayers daily, and we often wonder what happened to them. I guess we will never know this side of heaven.

 I’ve often commented that our home education experience isn’t just for our daughter, but for our entire family. When I stop to think about it, I learned some important lessons during this one particular summer. The first lesson I learned was to be selective when choosing books for read aloud times. “Good books provide support for the kind of character we hope to see developed in our children,” says author Gladys Hunt.

The second lesson I learned was to listen to my daughter. If I had not listened to her prompts to read and reread the book Strawberry Girl our family would have missed an opportunity to invest in another family and share our faith with them.

The third lesson I learned was to be authentic as a follower of Jesus. Christianity is more than just about talking about your beliefs. It is about putting “hands and feet” to your beliefs and living them out for all to see.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a quote by Robert Coles, “Stories are a way of teaching. Our own lives are mirrored and intensified by stories. We learn the connection between things by reading stories.”

Thank you Kathy for sharing about the ways a simple book like Strawberry Girl can have a profound impact on its readers and the people our lives touch. That is one of the things we love about great stories: they change us. More profound than any self-help book, stories have the power to mold our character, push us out of our comfort zone, and challenge our faith to grow.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love the connection you made with the book. It is beautiful. It helps to boost my courage to follow those inner voices whispering for me to share my faith with others. So many people need Jesus Christ and need to know that there is happiness that comes from following him.