GUEST: The Value of Listening by Ginger Marcinkowski

(Condensed from a column she wrote for Book Fun Magazine)

One of the most inspirational moments and greatest lessons I have ever learned came during a conversation with my older brother. He and his wife had opened their home to my husband, son and I as long-term visitors while my husband attended the FBI Academy.  I was a young mother, inexperienced, and frazzled. I had a son and an unsaved husband whose police job kept him far removed from us.  I relished the moments when I could have godly conversations, so the visit with my brother was especially welcomed. At the time, my brother had three children and a child on the way, yet, their home was full of peace.
I thought my husband and I emulated loving and patient parents, but looking back, that wasn’t true. I remember myself pushing my son to another room to play, or plopping him in front of the television, so that I might accomplish my self-important tasks. My husband came home at night distracted by the day’s encounters with drug dealers and thieves. His interactions with our son were limited, as he arrived home just before our son went to bed.  A quick ruffle of the boy’s hair and a kiss goodnight was all the time they had together.

I was no better. I rushed to a part-time job I thought was so important. I missed the precious moments when my son burst through the babysitter’s door and spilled his day into her lap. When we arrived home, it was homework, dinner, laundry and bed. Rush. Rush. Rush. I was frazzled and disconnected. The extended stay at my brother’s house was a blessing.
On the second day of our visit, the children were playing outside. My husband, brother and I were deep in a doctrinal discussion, while my sister-in-law cooked a heavenly roast for the coming dinner. I still remember the smell of sweet potatoes and gravy circling the room as we talked.
All of a sudden, my brother’s youngest son, Jeremy, burst through the front door and rushed to his father’s side. His face was flushed red and his excitement was palpable. In a breathless voice he said, “Dad, I’ve got something to tell you!”
I waited, expecting my brother to do what we did—tell the boy to wait—as we were in the middle of an important conversation about God. Instead, to my surprise, my brother turned to us and said, “Guys, you’ll have to excuse me. My son has something important to tell me.”
At first, I remember feeling angry, turned aside for a child. I watched my brother slide from his chair and kneel before the young boy, his hands draping across his son’s shoulders. With breathless wonder, Jeremy raced through the description of the slimy frog he’d found, his tiny limbs shaking in excitement.
 “Daddy, did God make that frog?” he concluded, his small chest heaving up and down.
My brother’s face softened. “Yes, Son, he did,” he said, “He made everything, even you and me.”
The boy’s eyes widened. “Really?” 
“Really,” my brother countered.  “Come here and I’ll show you the proof, okay?”
The boy nodded his head quickly and climbed onto his father’s lap. My brother opened his Bible and began reading from Genesis. A few minutes later with a sufficient explanation from God’s Word, the boy kissed his father and rushed back outside.
As I watched my brother and his son, my anger turned to shame, as I realized the lesson that was being taught. This child was being shown complete and total love. He was accepted as a fellow Christian, not too small to be listened to, or too unimportant to be turned away.
To this day, I remember the joy in my nephew’s face, and the lesson of how we, as parents, must show God’s love to our children by giving them our undivided love and attention, even in the small pockets of time we have.  In this world, we allow ourselves to be distracted. We substitute television, day care, church activities and our own selfish needs, cheating our children of those teachable moments and possibly their eternity.
When Jeremy was killed in a car accident at the age of twenty-one, I came to realize the lesson God had shown me through my brother’s actions that day. My brother took the time to listen to his children, whether they explored the wonders of nature or just needed to share something they felt was important to their day. By showing Christ’s love in such a tangible way, using tiny pockets of time to feed the Word of God to his children, I know Jeremy left us as a Christian, as will my husband who quietly listened that day. It was an inspirational moment that has and will continue to make a difference in my own family’s salvation.


About the Book:

"My Dearest Emily...

When you were a little girl, a change occurred in you. You lost a piece of yourself somewhere....But when you were here in Plaster Rock, you bloomed. The stories we told with these buttons made you smile. With your smile came hope.
Repeat the stories you've been told to your own children, never forgetting that God was there in every situation, in every story held inside this button box..."
Growing up, Emily Evans of Run, River Currents had always shared a special understanding with her grandfather, John Polk, even when she couldn't fully see beyond the darkness of her father's abuse. Yet John looked to the future in faith to what his God could do. 
Years after her grandfather's death, the unexpected delivery of the decorated tin, still brimming with odd-colored buttons, unlocks the joyous memories and lets Emily realize she has finally discovered the secret her grandfather promised lay within the stories of the worn button box. 
Told through the eyes of a godly grandfather, The Button Box-Emily’s Inheritance laces together a godly heritage and the power of one man's prayers, offering a lesson of how God's grace can be seen even in the simplest thing—a button. 
Excerpt from The Button Legacy: Emily's Inheritance/ Word Count 263
She shook her head and tugged at the paper. In moments the unwrapped package revealed a cardboard box. She tore at the box until it gave way. It took Emily only a second to recognize the faded tin box tucked inside. She drew in a deep breath.
“Em? What is it?” Aaron asked, placing his hands on hers.
She turned to look at him, her eyes wide and dancing. “It’s the button box!” she whispered, her voice a singsong of joy.
“The what?”
“The button box. Gram and Grampy’s button box!”
Her hands shook as she pulled the container from the cardboard and dropped it onto her lap. The colors were just as she’d remembered them, a faded pastoral scene once alive with vivid tints of blue, green, yellow, and red. She gazed at the tin, taking in its beauty as she brushed her hands gently over the top of its raised design. She felt her eyes welling with tears.
“Honey, where did it come from?” Aaron asked, his face etched with questions.
She shook her head from side to side in tiny bursts and reached to open the box. The sound of the familiar creak as it opened took her breath away, and the light from the room slowly revealed the treasure inside. There were hundreds of buttons, all shapes and sizes, piled inside the rectangular container. A handwritten note was wrapped around a small, discolored envelope and taped inside the lid. Emily glanced at her husband, half afraid to pull the note and envelope from its place.

About the Author:

Ginger Marcinkowski was born in northern Maine along the Canadian border. She is the author of Run, River Currents, a 2012 semi-finalist at the ACFW Genesis Awards and a 2013 Kindle Book Award Finalist. The Button Legacy-Emily's Inheritance was published in July 2014 and is the story of a generational journey of faith told through buttons. She garnished her M.F.A degree at age 58 and is a regular contributor to Book Fun Magazine. She welcomes comments at 
Click here to purchase Run, River Currents


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