• Laura Alvarado-Newson

The little books

I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. My step-dad was a janitor in a business building. He was always so tired when he came home. I usually was getting ready for bed while he had a late dinner that mom prepared. One night, he called out to me, so I ran to the table. He told me that he was emptying one of the office waste baskets and found this, handing me a tiny book . I thought it was so cute and small. The letters were really small too and some were typed in red ink. I loved it. I can't remember what color it was but I remember opening it to a page that read Matthew 1 on the corner and it was a story about a baby and his mom Mary. After reading the first chapter, I would skip ahead to the last book, Proverbs. They were easier to read because the sentences were spaced like a poem.

A few days later my step dad comes home with another one, this one was a different color, but the exact same book. I was on a roll! I hid one under my mattress and another in a drawer. As my stepdad found more and more of these little books, all different colors, the happier I became; although I only read the birth of Jesus and the advice from the last page of Proverbs, but nothing seemed to stick, everything was hard to understand. One day my step dad called my name, I ran to get another book, the only problem was that it wasn't a book. He had found a pretty, shiny bracelet in one of the wastebaskets. I was so disappointed, I didn't want a bracelet, I wanted another little book! My mom was happy though, so she kept it. I wanted more of those cute little books. I had at least 5 or 6. I remember a white one, an orange one, a green one and a brown one. Why am I telling this story? Because it is important to share our eyewitness accounts of Jesus. In the Bible, many people shared there own personal encounters and experiences with Jesus. I may not have seen Jesus with my physical eyes, but surely He was there with me. He was starting a spark in my heart. A spark of love for a little baby and His word. I knew the story of the baby in Matthew was important, but I didn't know why. I knew these little books were special and I felt like a special little girl with my secret stash of little books. Even though I dared not venture past the first page, unless it was to read the last, I knew these books had to be good. I truly believe Jesus began calling my heart during that time, whispering to me as I held and peeked into those little books daily.

Jesus knew I needed Him. There was a lot of bickering in the house. Weekends were not fun. They would start out with salsa music, my mom dancing and happily drinking because it was Friday (waiting for my stepdad to come home from work), and end with a despairing, crying mom who had had her fill of alcohol, once a line was crossed, the yelling and slamming of doors began and usually ended with a police officer sitting next to me on the front porch consoling me while another police officer was inside the house talking to my mom and stepdad. I don't think this happened every weekend, but it happened often enough, to the point that if I smelled alcohol on my mom's breath on Friday, I braced myself for a long weekend. I am not sharing this to shame my mom or stepdad. Life was hard for the both of them, finances were scarce, anxieties and regrets ran high. What was meant to be weekends of partying and forgetting for a minute, turned into blaming and fighting.

Those little books brought me comfort even without reading them. This was Jesus' way of telling me "I am here, I am with you, I love you and everything will be okay." I am 46 now and I still thank God for those little books.

This was my very first encounter with Jesus, but certainly not my last. As time goes by, I will share more.

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