Copyright © 2016 Janice Alonso
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It was an early May morning and Emily was visiting her Nana and Poppy for the day. If you didn’t know it was spring from the clear blue sky overhead, thought Emily, all you’d have to do is sit still and feel God’s blessings right here in nature. She straightened up from her work in the garden and laid her spade beside her. Butterflies flitted from flower to flower. A mama blue bird chirped a happy song as she fed her babies in a nearby nest, and a gentle breeze tickled Emily’s ears. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on the back of her neck. She breathed in deeply: the sweet smell from a honeysuckle vine winding its way around a sturdy pine tree filled her nose.
Emily opened her eyes, looked at her grandmother, and exclaimed, “I love coming to your house and working in the butterfly garden!”
“You’re a great helper,” her grandmother answered as she watched Emily return to raking the soil for their summer plantings. “It’s difficult work to remove all the weeds and break up the dirt so that the ground will be nice and soft when we are ready to plant our impatiens and petunias. It makes preparing the beds for my flower beds go faster when someone helps.”
Emily had lived very close to Nana and Poppy ever since the day she was born. They had spent many hours outside enjoying picnics in the garden, taking walks by the creek, and counting the stars at night. They’d spent as many hours indoors reading Bible stories, playing games of make-believe, baking cookies for special celebrations, and snuggling by the fire drinking hot cocoa on a snowy afternoon.
Out of the corner of her eye Emily noticed a watering can next to the brick wall. She frowned. She hadn’t helped water the flowers. “Nana,” asked Emily looking over to her grandmother, “did Jacob come over and help you?”
Jacob was her cousin who’d moved close by from a state far away after last Christmas. Now he was able to spend more time with Nana and Poppy. Now it seemed he got to do a lot of things with them. Emily wondered if maybe Jacob got to do more things than she did – now that he lived close by. And her cousin was two years younger… and… well… just got in the way when he was around.
“Yes,” smiled Nana and she stopped her raking. She adjusted her glasses and broad-brimmed hat. “Jacob is a great helper… just like you.”
Soon they finished their work and returned their tools to the potting shed. Then they stomped their shoes on the back doormat and brushed the dirt from their jeans. Nana held the door open for Emily to go inside.
They stood at the sink and washed their hands. She gave Emily a drying towel. “Would you like some apple slices?” asked Nana as she dried her own hands.
Emily nodded and went to get her favorite glass and plate from the cabinet. They were bright red and had pictures of different colored balloons floating across them.
“My dish is gone!” exclaimed Emily. “And the matching glass, too!”
“Oh, I forgot,” answered her grandmother snapping her fingers. “Jacob used them when he came over yesterday. I’ll clean them for you.” Nana reached inside the dishwasher and pulled them out. “Won’t take but a jiffy to get them clean.” She ran a hot soapy sponge over them and then rinsed the suds off.
Emily sat down at the kitchen table and saw her new coloring book and crayons. Funny, she always put her coloring book and crayons away each time she used them. When she opened the book, there were scribbles on several of the pages. Then she opened the crayon box. Oh, no! Her favorite color “Cinnamon Pink” was broken. “Nana,” wailed Emily. “Did Jacob use my coloring book and crayons, too?”
Nana sighed. “I’m afraid so, dear.” She placed the apple slices on the table and sat down in the chair beside Emily.
“He messed up my coloring book,” whimpered Emily.
“He’s younger than you, honey.” Nana shook her head. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault, really. I’ll remember to put your big girl toys where Jacob can’t get to them before he comes for his next visit.”
Emily took an apple slice and bit into it, chewing slowly and then swallowing. “I think you love Jacob more than you love me.”
“Goodness no! Emily Marie Rogers, you know better than that!” exclaimed Nana.
Emily knew her nana was very upset because she called her by her full name.
Then her grandmother leaned in closer. “You know what I think?”
Emily shook her head no.
“I think you spend too much time worrying about what Jacob and Poppy and I do together instead of enjoying the time and things we do together when you come to our house.”
Emily said softly, “I know.” Then she continued, “It’s just that… well, I have bad feelings in my heart when you spend time with Jacob.”
Emily’s eyes filled with tears as she lowered her head.
Nana placed an arm around Emily’s shoulders and drew her closer, kissing the top of her head. “You’re not alone,” she said. “Lots of adults have trouble sharing… especially other people.”
With her thumb, Nana stroked away a tear rolling down Emily’s cheek. She lifted her face and smiled. “You know there’s enough love to go around for everyone. I love Jacob and it doesn’t take away any of the love I have for you.” Her smile grew wider. “When you were born, I included love for you and still had just as much love for your daddy, mommy, Uncle Andrew, and Aunt Gail as I did before you were born. ” She hugged Emily close.
Emily smiled. “God made enough love for everyone.”
Nana nodded. “And we can love everyone as much as we want without ever being afraid of loving anyone else less.”
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Emilyâ€™s younger cousin Jacob has moved from out-of-state to be closer to family. Now, not only does Jacob get into her things, Emily also has to share her Nana and Poppy with him. She has bad feelings in her heart: sheâ€™s afraid that now Nana and Poppy might love Jacob more than they love her. The fourth book in the series Love God. Love Others. Book four focuses on 1 Corinthians 13. Geared for grades K-2 and to be read to the child. Great teaching aid.