You all know that I have a series on this blog called Great Teens. Well, it is quite obvious to me that I have to start another series: Great Kids!
I'd like to tell you about an 11-year-old girl named Grace. When her mother Jennifer wrote to me to tell me how much she and Grace have enjoyed Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift, I was impressed and touched by her story.
"I wanted to e-mail you to thank you for your books," her mother wrote, "but also to tell you what they have done in my child's heart. Grace made 116 spirit hair ribbons with the CYO colors on them to sell at Baseball/Softball Opening Day Ceremony, which was last Saturday. She worked many days after school and many nights to make these cute custom hair ribbons. She wanted to tithe 10% to give to the CYO ball program. The rest would be her hard-earned money to spend and save. Days before her sale she said that she had changed her mind, and that all profits would go to the three Sisters of the Incarnate Word at our school/parish."
At first, Grace's mom told her that it is okay to work hard and earn money, that she didn't have to give it all away. "But I sensed a conviction in her," she wrote, "so I said, 'Great, give it to the Sisters.' "
Grace's mom did not know where the idea had come from until she saw the letter that her daughter had written. Once she saw the $200 Grace had earned walking around ball fields all day long accompanied by the letter in an envelope, she was brought to tears at what her sweet, giving child had done. "The money could have bought her an Ipod, camera, etc. She just gave it away. You gave my daughter a saint to love and listen to and pray to. I am humbled and deeply grateful."
With Jennifer's permission, I have reprinted Grace's letter here, in hopes that it inspires others to give as Grace has done, by sacrificing and loving others, in the Little Way of St. Therese:
Dear Sr. Rosemary, Sr. Stephena, and Sr. Clementine,
First, I would like to thank you for all that you do for our parish. I am reading a book called Olivia's Gift. It is about a girl named Olivia who discovers her sister in heaven, St. Theresa of Lisieux. She tries to follow St. Theresa's Little Way. She is trying to do ordinary things with extra ordinary love. I am also trying to follow St. Theresa's Little Way. One of St. Theresa's famous quotes is to "give silently." This is what I would like to do for you. I know other organizations, such as Girl Scouts, give much more than me, but I would still like to give to you and your community a total of $200 (enclosed). I made CYO hair ribbons and sold them at Opening Day Ceremony, and this is how I obtained the money. At first, I was not sure what to do with the money—save it, spend it, etc. I prayed to St. Theresa, and it came to me that I should give it to you, the Sisters of the Incarnate Word.
I thank you again for your devotion and time that you give to this parish and school!
St. Theresa's friend
When I read this letter Grace's mom shared with me, I felt a lump in my throat. It was so beautiful. Don't you just love how she didn't even sign her name, so the Sisters wouldn't even know who she was? This is the true spirit of giving: Giving until it feels like a sacrifice, giving in secret so no one knows who you are so you can't take the credit. Notice how young Grace gave the glory to God, through St. Therese's intercession. This is a young girl who understands the message of the Little Way, the sacrifice of the gift, doing all you do because you love God so much, and He loves you so much.
Jennifer's e-mail continues, "My mother called me yesterday. She asked how a pink rose was placed on her pillow Sunday. I told her I don't exactly know. Of course, it was Grace. As I sat down to write this e-mail, I found a tissue paper rose with a piece of chocolate attached. The note reads, 'I love you and so does St. Theresa. Please accept this rose as a gift from her to me and me to you. I know you know who it is, but please don't thank me. I love you. Thank you for all you do.'
"As I reflect on the last couple of weeks," Jennifer concludes, "I am amazed at how many times she helped her six-year-old brother with his piano lesson. How many times she helped make dinner, brought the dirty clothes to the laundry room, checked her sister's homework, etc. Clearly the lives of the saints have great impact on us. You have given her St. Theresa. I am profoundly grateful...So now I am going to the middle school teachers and asking to make your books a part of the curriculum at our school."
I am so blown away by the maturity and love of this young reader of mine, and I am filled with such joy that, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, my little books would inspire this in her.
I know it may not seem like it, but there are Catholic, wholesome, inspirational books out there for our kids today, parents. We don't have to feed them what society dictates. Smaller, indie Catholic publishers like Harvey House Publishing, Joseph Karl Publishing, and Bezalel Books aim higher, because that's what God wants for our children: books that teach character, morals, and religious development. We publishers are all parents ourselves, so we understand what a challenge it can be to provide our children books of integrity and faith in a sea of darkness, sexualization of our youths, and the occult.. "I want her to have great books like yours," Jennifer wrote, "so she doesn't feel left out because I don't let her read the romance novels, vampire/zombie books, etc."
I share Grace's story not to give myself any pats on the back, but to illustrate what quality, morally healthy books can do for your children. Writes Jennifer, "If Grace's story inspires a parent to get your books, what a great testament to St. Therese and her missionaries on earth."
Like Jennifer has done, please encourage and support these kinds of publishers when you can. Are we small? Yes. But, as Joseph Karl Publishing's Michele Bondi Bottesi likes to say, "It's a war for eternal souls. But our Boss is the Creator of the universe!" Suggest these small publisher's books to teachers and educators you know, so that other children can benefit, not from darkness, but from the light of God.
And may God bless you always, little Grace. I know the Little Flower is smiling down on you.