To choose the little people, the little joys, the little sorrows and to trust that it is there that God will come close—that is the hard way of Jesus. … Something in me always wants to turn the way of Jesus into a way that is honorable in the eyes of the world. I always want the little way to become the big way. But Jesus’ movement toward the places the world wants to move away from cannot be made into a success story.” ~Henri Nouwen
Palm Sunday comes crashing in with all its raucous celebration and we have been caught up in the noise of life. I read every version of the triumphal entry to prepare for my sermon but the days are the thickest text. I know how important it is to withdraw to a quiet place when life thrums like a bass drum in my ears. But I am still learning to turn this knowledge into action—to heed the still, small voice that beckons me away from the triumphal parade into the olive grove.
When I step away from my schedule, my obligations, my worries, my deadlines—this is when God comes close.
The greatest joy for me lately comes when I read aloud to the children in Mrs. Crum’s third grade class and Mrs. Ashworth’s kindergarten. When I drive out to their little school, it feels like a tiny retreat—like I am driving into a different world. Those kids welcome me with hugs and smiles and for a time, the little way is the biggest of all ways. My heart swells for them. And when I am reading them a story? What a gift to see how their faces reflect the story back to me.
Beauty is tucked away in the places the world forgets.
Here are the books we read this week.
With the third graders:
What do You do With an Idea? Written by Kobi Yamada, Illustrated by Mae Besom. Oh, how I love this book, which celebrates the thinker and encourages entrepreneurship and creativity. Having fought with my own ideas and dreams for so long, I think this is an excellent book for grown-ups too. This book stimulated conversation about ideas that changed the world. We talked about the Wright brothers and space travel and all kinds of good stuff.
How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy. This is really a book for teens so I have to edit it a little (For example, one of the suggestions is talk to strangers. I skipped over that one). We read one step each time I visit the classroom and it’s been fun to watch the kids’ reactions.
More than Anything Else story by Marie Bradby, pictures by Chris K. Soentpiet. This is one of my all time favorite books to share with kids. It’s the story of Booker T. Washington’s dream to learn to read. We talked about what it would be like if they weren’t allowed or able to go to school and how their worlds would change if they couldn’t read. The kids got it. It was awesome.
With the kindergartners:
Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino. This story about a cute pug-faced dog was one of Jeffrey’s favorites when he was younger. My copy is falling apart but the kids didn’t mind. They loved this sweet story that makes us think about the way we treat others.
My Little Artist by Donna Green. This is a sweet story but I mainly wanted the kids to see the illustrations, which are beautiful, intricate watercolors. We talked about the hard work that goes into becoming a good artist and how that applies to most everything in life.
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Yes, they begged me to read this one again. In fact, they insist I read it every time I come. They would have me read it twice if I allowed it. It’s such a silly book and they all have most parts of it memorized by now. It’s so fun to watch how excited they get as we approach the silliest parts.
As we enter into holy week, why not give yourself away? Spend some time with others, meeting a need in your community. Maybe you could clean out your closet and give away unused items to a local clothes pantry, or visit a nursing home with Easter baskets to give away. Jesus always made time for those in need, no matter what pressing issues were on hand.
Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us: