Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Donkey That No One Could Ride

I don't know if you've noticed but Lent is fast-approaching its end. We have just under 2 weeks left before the joyous occasion of Easter, when we celebrate Christ's resurrection. I have to confess that although my can-do attitude for observing Lent gave birth to a lot of great intentions, the time has gone by quite quickly with a lot of our plans still bouncing around our hearts, not brought to fruition. I had a list of several activity- and story-books I wanted to get for the kids but they are still sitting in my Amazon cart having not purchased them. Sigh. Maybe next year. However, though I can beat myself up about the fact that my can-do's failed to turn into did-do's, I try to focus on the few ways we have observed this solemn time. It's often hard for me to not focus on what I know is wrong with myself; how I can be a better person, how I need to change in order to be the woman/wife/mother God wants me to be. I sort of had to be reminded through out the past few weeks that although I may be a weak person in a lot of respects (ahem...planning and executing), Christ is my strength and He knows my heart and He can change a lot about me if I ask Him to, and then believe He will. He can make me into the person He wants me to be so I can rise up new along with Him.

This brings me to something that I just have to share about; a really exciting little gift I received completely unexpectedly in the mail. As you know, I have been reviewing books off and on recently. Several of these books have been by the author Anthony DeStefano. He is a really great author, especially of children's books. I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to receive several of his books for review, and then also to be able to give some away! Usually, it goes that I receive an email asking if I would like to do a review. I reply yes and a few days later, I get a book in the mail. So imagine my surprise when I opened up my front door last week to a USPS envelope tucked into my glass storm door. I opened it up and pulled out a beautiful and colorful children's book. It was by Anthony DeStefano. I had to check my memory to see if I had forgotten about a book review. But no, I had not. This book was a complete surprise.

After reading the book myself, and then several times to my children upon their insistence, I decided I would definitely write a review for it. Whether sending me the book unannounced was nothing more than a [very good] marketing ploy or not (haha), I was drawn to share it and would have even if I had happened upon it in the book store myself! The book is called The Donkey That No One Could Ride. Just in time for Palm Sunday and Easter, it is a very good read for children about Christ's power, love and wisdom. What I found most intriguing about the book was that it did not focus on the actual sacrifice that began on what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday, but on a small donkey who would be the one to carry Christ into town to render that sacrifice.

The story is about a little donkey- weak, small and unable to carry anyone or anything. It had a crooked back and weak legs and even its owner eventually disowned him. The story is based on the passage in Luke where Jesus tells two of his disciples to procure a specific 'colt' for him from the village to ride into Jerusalem. Jesus knew it was there tied to a post. Mr. DeStefano's imaginative depiction of the nature of the donkey's existence is a beautiful portrayal of how loving and wise Christ really is and how He can make even the weakest beings into strong warriors for God's purposes. For when the donkey was brought to Him to be ridden into town, the donkey did not believe he could do it. He has always been small and useless and here some strange man was telling him that he had a GREAT destiny and he was to carry Jesus into the town on his back??? The donkey would not believe, until Jesus told him with warmth and love in his eyes and wisdom on his lips, that His help is all the donkey needs for the task at hand; Christ's strength will suffice.

As the donkey realized that he really did believe everything Jesus was telling him after all, Jesus laid his hand on the donkey and changed him into a strong, powerful animal who would carry Him into Jerusalem. As they entered the town, the donkey found out exactly who he was carrying on his back - a man who would be with him long after this great sacrifice; who would aid in his life however he needed Him to; a King who could turn even the sorriest animal into a mighty servant.

Written in perfect cadence which children can follow with ease, The Donkey That No One Could Ride is a simple yet powerful story that teaches our children - and us - about the hope, love, strength and new life found in Christ's death and resurrection. One thing that really stuck out (and personally, was a reminder to me) was the importance of our existence as servants of God. We all have a great destiny to fulfill. From raising our children to know, love and serve the Lord, to accomplishing more-specific missions He puts on our hearts like this donkey had, we have a purpose. It's something we could all use a reminder for, especially when that reminder arrives in the grace-filled form of an unexpected children's book on our door step.

I'd like to say thank you to Mr. DeStefano and his staff for sending me such a wonderful gift. My 5 1/2 year old son, Aidan, thanks you, too. This has become one of his favorite books!

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