From Grumpy to Grateful is my soon-to-be-published-God-willing children’s book. I am still waiting on the illustrations, so it will not be published in time for Thanksgiving, but I wanted to share it with my readers and their children or grandchildren who like to read or be read to. For the posts leading up to this chapter, here are the links:
Play where? With what? Jackson stepped back out into the street, where the other kids were kicking stones around, banging on trash cans with sticks, or just sitting in their doorways, staring at nothing. He didn’t know any of them, and he didn’t know what he would say to them if he did. Some of them seemed mean like Bill, and he was afraid to talk to them. Others seemed tired and sick. Jackson stood leaning against the wall for what seemed like forever. He missed his friends. He missed his sister. Most of all, he missed his dad. What did Mom mean by “since he left us”? Where did he go? His hand throbbed. His stomach growled. His heart ached.
Jackson hadn’t known that a person could be hungry for something besides food, but here he was finding a new kind of hunger. His eyes were hungry for color – his red jacket, his dad’s blue car, Mom’s marigolds she had planted around the mailbox, and the yellow, green, and purple kite he and Dad had flown at the park last Saturday. Here everything was grey – the sky, the street, the buildings, the dusty clothes, even the faces of the other children.
Jackson’s ears were hungry for music and laughter. The only sounds here were the buzzing flies, the cry of a hungry baby, and the angry yelling of boys getting into a fight. (At his school Mr. Drake would have broken up the fight. By the time recess was over, he would have the boys playing together like best friends. But these children were on their own all day.)
Jackson’s nose was hungry for the smells that greeted him when he got home from school each day. His favorite was the aroma of popcorn Mom sometimes made him as an afternoon snack. The warm, buttery smell would fill the house. But here everything smelled of sweat, garbage, and gas fumes.
Jackson’s body was hungry for a hug.
Mom always had a hug for him when he got home, and sometimes the two of them would snuggle up on the couch and read a book together. Here Mom seemed too sad to do anything fun.
Jackson’s mind was hungry to read something, to learn something, to talk to a friendly person. Here the hunger of boredom and loneliness was more than he could stand. He buried his face in his hands and began to cry.
“Hey ‘Jack,’” said a familiar voice.
Jackson spun around to see his sister. Unlike the rags he wore, she was dressed in a clean school uniform. Unlike Jackson’s dirty, tear-streaked face, her face was washed and her cheeks rosy. Her hair was brushed, and she had a French braid at one side, tied with a red ribbon.
“You can call me ‘Jackie,’” he sighed. He had lost all interest in being cool and just wanted things to get back to the way they had been.
“Jackie,” she said, smiling kindly. “Do you remember when you asked, ‘What did God ever do for me?’?” As Jackson remembered, his face burned with shame.
“Yeah,” he said, looking down at his dirty hands.
Charlotte didn’t say anything for a moment. She waited as Jackson thought about what he had said, back when he was trying so hard to be cool. When Jackson finally looked up at her, she said quietly:
“Well, today He didn’t do it.”
Prayer: Father, You not only meet all of our needs, but many of our wants, as well. But too often we forget to thank You. We even complain that we don’t have more! Help us to see not only the blessings in our lives, but ways we can use what we have to bless those who are truly in need, in Jesus’ name. Amen.