Monday, June 11, 2018

God's Extraordinary Multiplication

Yesterday, I heard a friend preach on laity Sunday. She might think of herself as ordinary, but she declared in an extraordinary way that God is a God of multiplication! This PBT post is inspired by her. 
Picture Book: Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed
Author: Emily Pearson
Illustrator: Fumi Kosaka  
Summary: This story will inspire you and your kids to bless the world! It begins with a random act of kindness. Ordinary Mary sees an ordinary blueberry bush and picks ordinary blueberries for her neighbor. 
Mrs. Bishop is delighted so she responds with her own act of kindness: blueberry muffins for 5 friends. The number 5 is important in this story. You'll see why later. 
One of Mrs. Bishop's friends is her paperboy Billy. Instead of throwing papers in the bushes, that morning he hand delivers them. 
Mr. Stevens, who is leaving on a trip, receives his paper from Billy and is inspired to smile the entire 10 hour trip and help 5 people with their baggage! 
Maria and her little boy James are glad for Mr. Stevens' help and smile. Maria and James spread the joy to 5 people while shopping. They give some oranges to Joseph who shuffles to his bus with a full heart. 
Sarah's heavy bag breaks so Joseph gives her a new one that he has made. Sarah decides to shine on 5 people today.
On a boat, Sarah encounters a very sad Sophia. Sarah compliments Sophia on her beautiful blue eyes. 
Such an affirmation has Sophia calling 5 people to show her love, including her son Tom. 
Tom decides to give 5 balloons to 5 children who are his patients. One of them is Peter who is thrilled with the balloons. 
While on his way, Peter helps Eric, a teenager who is struggling with groceries. 
Eric is so relieved he vows to help 5 people. His sister Di is the first. He teaches Di to ride his skateboard. Di decides to be a friend to 5 people that day. 
She chooses to buy a lunch for Louise, a homeless woman in the park. Believing she has nothing to give, Louise still determines to give something to 5 people. 
When she finds a wallet and returns it to the owner, Mr. Taylor gives Louise a job in his store. 
Also, Mr. Taylor gives a theatre ticket to Kate, a tourist who's heart was set on seeing a sold-out show. 
Kate is so inspired she vows to give 5 gifts. One gift goes to her little niece, Mary - Ordinary Mary! 
It's a circle story! How can this be? Multiplication! 
Mary's gesture led to a response to 5 people who all responded likewise, exponentially! Mary's small and random act of kindness grew and grew and grew!
In 16 days, Mary's generosity had spread to every person in the whole world. That's how Mary's ordinary love spread in such an extraordinary way. 
Hanna’s Comments: I took these photographs a while back and had an earlier version of the book. Try to find the 15th anniversary publication (published in 2002 or later). In that version, some characters' gender, name, and ethnicity have been changed to reflect a diverse global view. Such characterizations better demonstrate God's extraordinarily diverse humanity. Earlier at PBT, I featured a book with a similar but simpler plot. You might want to read that post and consider Glenna's Seeds. There I also mentioned another similar book: One Good Deed. You have several options with this theme of God's multiplying ways.
Original Publisher & Date: Gibbs Smith, 2002
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet 
Scripture Connections: Connect this story to scripture stories about God's extraordinary model of multiplication such as... in Genesis 1:20-25 (living creatures); in Genesis 12 & 17 (Abraham and Sarah's descendants and blessings); and in all 4 gospels (loaves and fishes)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in your faith family and talk about how God might help them bless the world. Their acts of generosity and love paired with God's multiplying ways can spread farther than they can ever know.