I wondered whether I was wasting my time, all those early mornings and late nights sitting at my computer writing children’s stories. Would anyone ever read my work? If only I could enroll in an MFA program, I was sure I could get published. But with a house full of children, life was too busy. Plus, I didn’t have the cash.
What I did have, were books. Stacks and stacks of children’s books – from the library and book stores and thrift stores and passed down from friends. By my estimation, over the past two decades, I’ve read more than 10,000 books to my children. Whenever possible, I also slipped away for writing workshops and conferences, always trying to figure out how to make my work better.
Writing, like much of life, is an act of faith. You keep showing up, unsure of the outcome, doing your best and hoping that all of your hard work will turn into something wonderful. And then, one completely unexpected day it does – like the day my friend Jenny invited me to an Easter party at her 18th-century, Woolwich farm. And would I like to organize an Easter egg hunt?
Of course! Only, after church on Easter morning, zooming through the woods with my family in our minivan, we were late. Worse, I’d neglected to buy any candy. Thankfully, Jenny had dozens of empty plastic eggs. So, while my husband drove, I did what I often do when I am desperate: I opened my Bible. Reading the Easter story in the book of Luke, I jotted down ideas for a scavenger hunt, “Something sharp, something red, something living, something dead…”
When it was time for the egg hunt, I gathered the children and gave them Jenny’s empty eggs. Then I told them we were doing a backwards hunt this year. Their job? To fill their eggs with items from the list I’d made. The kids loved it. When they dashed back, eggs full of treasures, we talked about what each item had to do with Easter.
One year later, I turned the idea into my first children’s picture book. After a few changes – “sharp” was not something an editor wanted children collecting and “dead” needed clarification – a publisher bought it, along with four additional books to make a series: Lantern Hill Farm. So today – the day that The Backward Easter Egg Hunt is officially available – I am reminded that with faith, hard work and the blessing of friends, anything is possible.
“Commit everything you do to the Lord,” the Psalmist says (37:5 NLT). “Trust him, and he will help you.”
On my own, I never could have written this Easter story. And all those books I’d read and hours spent writing? Far from being wasted, they’d prepared me to leap when the right opportunity came along. So even when your resources are limited and the outcome is uncertain, keep showing up and doing your best. Something wonderful awaits.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. The Backward Easter Egg Hunt, in hard cover or as a board book, is available now.
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