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Now Choose Life

Choose to Live Your Life in Abundance in the after--- after the spouse dies, after the marriage ends, after the kids leave. Join me on my journey of CHOOSING LIFE in my after. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live- Deut 30:19

March 25, 2018

One Item That Every Easter Basket Needs #mattdelapena

Our family Easter 1993. M had fallen face first out of her stroller
and she had her face scratched up!

 Even though my kids are grown, there is something about spring and especially Easter that brings me joy. Of course, as a Christian, I am thankful for the sacrifice for my sins that was made by Jesus. I use Easter as a time of reflection and gratitude for all the God has done in my life.

My sweet family 1993. It is the custom in South Texas to take family pictures in the
bluebonnets! Not too many bluebonnets in this picture, but plenty
of wildflowers!!
Aside from the religious aspects of the season, I love the idea of spring and Easter as a time of rebirth and renewal. I love all the bunnies, eggs, baby chicks and lambs that we see this time of year. I love seeing the rebirth of nature- the buds on trees, the wildflowers blooming, the birds chirping louder outside my window. All those things add to the glorious feelings of spring. But my favorite thing about this time of year is seeing the children so excited!! I love seeing kids on Easter morning in their pretty new clothes for church!! Nothing makes me smile more than Easter dresses on little girls!! I have great memories of taking my kids shopping for clothes for Easter!!

I don't get to do any of that anymore, but this year was special because we have a few families in town that we have gotten to know who have small children. I have been sharing Matt de la Pena's new book, Love, with everyone who will listen to me so I decided to share it with the children of these sweet families. I have also been buying gifts for baby showers this spring and have included this book along with those gifts as well!! I decided to make it fun and give the kids a basket of goodies along with the book. My kids were so lucky to have people at church as well as wonderful neighbors who always made them feel special. I hope these kids felt special when they found their baskets with their new book!!

How I have the book displayed at my house.

A little about Matt's newest book:

The Title is Love. I knew this book was going to be special when I saw he had a new book coming out! When I got my copy and sat down to read it, I was blown away by its goodness!! There are so many things that I LOVE about this book!!

1. The words: It is so poetic. So many aspects of this book can be used as teachable moments for our children. One aspect is that many of the scenarios take place in the city. I have always lived in a small town. My kids were raised in a small town. This book offers a wonderful opportunity for children of small towns to realize how others live. Another aspect is that each new page offers a scenario that is different from all the others-

One scenario is that a national tragedy has occurred. Unfortunately, we have had too many tragedies recently. I love that Matt acknowledges this for our children and reminds us all, " 'It's okay, it's okay, it's love'."

Another scenario is acknowledging that a dad waking early and catching the bus to work is LOVE. What a wonderful lesson for a child to learn!!

My favorite scenario is, well, let me simply quote it!!!
"And it's love in each deep crease of your grandfather's face as he lowers himself onto an overturned bucket to fish."
I had the pleasure and honor of experiencing the love of a wonderful grandfather, and one of my greatest memories is of him taking his 6 granddaughters fishing!!!

As a former English teacher, I can see this book being used in the secondary classroom to show an example of 2nd person point of view!! There are not very many examples of it, and if I were still a librarian, I would order this book for my middle school library for teachers to use just for that purpose!!

I can also see this book used as creative writing for children. Read the book and have students write and illustrate what they view as love. If you are lucky enough to teach in a Christian school, read it this week and bring in God's love for us and how Easter shows that great love!!

2.  The illustrations: This is a beautiful book!!! The colors and details in each scenario are exceptional!! My mother bought a copy and simply has it out on display on a table in her home (much like I have in my home- see the above picture in this post) because she thinks it is so beautiful.

3.  It is for Everyone!! The words in this book will grow with each child. The real-life issues are acknowledged in a very subtle way. There may be topics that a parent feels they don't want to address at a certain time- like divorce. I can just imagine sitting with a child and asking what they think it means when it says "But it's not only stars that flame out, you discover. It's summers, too. And friendships. And people." Children are so smart and intuitive- it would be so interesting to hear their responses!

As adults, we can so appreciate the subtle acknowledgment of so many ways of showing and sharing love. Our life experiences may be so different, but LOVE is universal.

I love what a librarian told Matt in a comment to him on Facebook. She told him that his book would be found in the E (easy) section of an elementary library, but that she likes to think of the E as standing for EVERYONE, not Easy!! I think this book fits that notion!!

I have enjoyed following Matt's career after meeting him when he did a visit to the school district where I was serving as Middle School librarian. He has a gift of making people feel like they have known him for a long time even though you have just met! He is gracious and caring! - that's just the kind of guy he is. When I met him, he was writing YA literature. But as the years have progressed so has his writing, and he has written several children's books. His last book, Last Stop On Market Street, won him the 2016 Newbery Medal!!
I met Matt in March. We were celebrating Pi Day at my school!!

After spending several days with him, when he found out that I was taking M to NYC with some friends, he encouraged me to get in contact with him before the trip so we could all meet up!! He met us for dinner one night and showed us around his Brooklyn neighborhood-- that's just the kind of guy he is!

Meeting up with Matt in Brooklyn!!

A few years later when M was moving to NYC, we were talking about emergency situations and what she could do. Since we know very few people who live there, she said, "Well, I could always call Matt De La Pena." I told her that, yes we could although it would have to be a GREAT emergency. But, I knew in my heart that he would do what he could if he were needed.-- that is just the kind of guy he is!! And, luckily, I never had to contact him!!

I can't wait to see what the future holds for him.

So, I think every Easter basket this year should include a copy of LOVE!!!!

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