Once when I was about five years old, I fed a Popsicle to a Jersey calf. The calf was one of the many we raised on the hobby farm my dad dabbled in on the twenty-five acres where I grew up. I loved helping with those calves, especially feeding them from bottles as big as my baby doll herself! One day I was just visiting in the barn, slurping on a half-eaten Popsicle that was dripping down my arm. Well, when one calf batted her soulful eyes at me and licked her lips with her sandpaper tongue, how could I refuse her just one little taste? I offered her the treat and before I could blink, the Popsicle was gone—stick and all! I looked around. Had anyone seen that? I didn’t think so, but what would happen to the poor baby calf? Could she survive a stick-swallowing, or had I killed her? I was sick with worry, but as days passed and the calf lived, I counted my blessings—and the calf’s—and never told a soul for years. Nor did I ever visit the barn with a Popsicle in hand again!
This childhood memory is one of the many reasons I love the movie Dreamer. I’d rented it awhile back and recently bought it because it’s now one of my all-time favorites. If you’ve seen it, you know that young Cale Crane discovers that the injured racehorse Sonador has a sweet tooth, especially for Popsicles. But what I love most about the movie is the faith Cale has in her horse, faith to win against all odds, while nearly every adult in the movie can only count the strikes Sonador and the Crane family have against them.
Childlike faith is amazing, and it’s best when it’s in our heavenly Father. A little boy I used to baby-sit and love like my own little brother taught me a great lesson in that. He was upset to learn that several months after I moved back home (just two houses down from him) from college, I was planning to leave again—this time to take a job on the other side of the country. In his prayers at night, he prayed I wouldn’t go, until his mom told him instead he should pray for God’s best for me because I was going to leave. Mason reluctantly changed his prayers. I did move off to the West, only to find the job wasn’t at all what I expected. Within two weeks, I was home again, right where Mason wanted me. Turned out God wanted me there, too, because He provided another job immediately and countless other blessings on top. Mason’s mom called me soon after I had returned and told me about a conversation she’d had with her son. She knew Mason was happy that I was home, and she asked him if he was surprised. Matter-of-factly, (as if to say, “Duh!”) Mason replied, “No, Mom. I prayed God would bring her back.” Simple as that. He prayed I’d come home and he knew God could make it happen. Why should he be surprised that God did what He had asked? If only we always had the simple faith of a child, faith untainted by all the worldly worries we add to it as we grow older….
By now you might be able to tell I love stories about kids. Turns out many of our readers do, too. I’ve seen many Heartsong feedback forms from readers asking for more stories with children in them. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the second favorite historical Heartsong cover has an adorable little girl on it. So, keep that in mind as you write and propose new ideas. Young secondary characters can add a lot of charm and interest to your story and help portray your spiritual theme.
Be sure to appreciate the children in your life. I'll end with a favorite quote from Charles Dickens: “It is no small thing that they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”
Have a great weekend!
JoAnne, who’s hoping that not every proposal she sees from now on is all about children! :)