Gratitude First

Now, keep in mind that I'm talking about a candy necklace here -- nothing special at all. It was just a stringy loop of elastic with multi-colored candies strung around it. I had handed some of them to the ten-year-olds to whom I had been teaching Old Testament stories for the past year (what, you don't see the connection between candy necklaces and the Old Testament?), and I had an extra one. Kayla is quite special indeed. She has long dark hair. Gorgeous eyes. A beautiful smile. The sweetest voice you've ever heard. And she's six. In all the world there is nothing so wonderfully adorable as a six-year-old girl. Which is probably why I gave the necklace to her. I'm a sucker for that stuff. When I slipped the necklace into her hand she smiled that beautiful smile of hers, and I considered myself adequately thanked. Then I settled back to enjoy the church meeting. As enthralling as church was that day, I did notice a couple of things about Kayla. For one thing, although she wore the candy necklace around her neck, I didn't see her actually eating the candy. By way of comparison, my son Jon had his necklace consumed and was asking for more before we sang the final "Alleluia" in the opening hymn. The other thing I noticed was that she seemed quite intent on something she was drawing. I couldn't see it, but whatever it was it certainly had her attention--so much so that she paid almost no attention to the candy strung around her neck. When the service ended I stood to leave. Then I noticed something small and cute in the aisle beside me. It was Kayla. She didn't say a word. She just handed a piece of paper to me. It was the picture that she had been working on throughout the meeting. It showed a tall stick figure man with glasses and most of his hair, holding a candy necklace in his hand. Next to him was a shorter stick figure girl with long dark hair, gorgeous eyes, and a beautiful smile. Over her head was a cartoon balloon with these words: "Thank you." It was a lovely gift and a marvelous work of art--far more valuable than the candy bauble I had presented to her. As I thanked her for her gift, I noticed that she was finally starting to eat the candy that I had given to her. "It looks like your Daddy wouldn't let you eat your candy until after church," I observed. She shook her head seriously. "I could eat it," she said, shyly. "I just wanted to say 'thank you' first." I was touched by the gesture and inspired by her message. It was so important to her to say "thank you" that she couldn't really enjoy the treat until she had expressed her gratitude. That's why there's a new piece of art in the gallery that is beginning to fill the nooks and crannies of my office. Kayla's picture is the first to be so enshrined that wasn't created by one of my offspring. I'm including it as a way of reminding me to be grateful. First.
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