Friday, February 19, 2016

Good Gifts and the Ministry of Coloring

Last night, Cory and I stayed up way too late with a friend, spinning yarns and deconstructing the things that trip us up. We drank our tea, trying not to notice the way we couldn't possibly have just met, despite what time and life would suggest.

Seth had taken the late flight in to Indiana and accepted our welcome so that he could spend two days in the heart of the jail, sharing the message of his book, Coming Clean: A Story of Faith with my husband's friends. His time here won't draw huge crowds. He won't face adoring fans or be treated like a celebrity. Inmates are notoriously slow to buy books and can't even offer social media shares.

But Seth knows the bondage of addiction, and he knows there aren't many of us who don't. He grasps things like hope and believes in the boiled-down power of a love that shows up, then stays a while.

This is what it looks like to use our gifts for the kingdom.

I've found myself in the privileged position of being surrounded by people who live with open hands, resisting the possessive clutch of borrowed goods. You might know some folks like this yourself. I'll give you a hint: they're the ones with the half-crazed grin plastered across their faces when they talk about passing around their heart and soul away. They're paid in relationship. They operate from a place of profound grace.

My friend Haverlee spent a day this week photographing a young couple for their adoption profile. Ashley and Ruth trained their artist's eyes on the children of Ecuador's poorest families. Down the street, Mrs. Iemma, Mrs. Drescher, and Miss Krug show up every day to lead my children, teaching them the patience and fun of learning, helping to mold them into compassionate citizens of the world.

The gift of sharing life with soulful neighbors is all mine.

I met my friend Becca soon after moving to Goshen, back at a time when was just recovering from the quietly belief that the dearest friendships could be pinned down to demographics like age, life stage, and experience.

I loved her from the start.

On our very first coffee date she handed me the most gorgeous, intricately patterned designs. "These are for the kids. I design coloring pages for adults." So casual. I stared at the thick paper in front of me. "I had no idea you did this!"

Becca might not be super comfortable with gushing, but I continued anyway, and in what I now know as her trademark, she cracked the truth open through a series of jokes. "I didn't know either, until I was watching the luge in the winter Olympics and got bored enough to try."



Since that conversation not even one year ago, I've watched Becca host a coloring class for senior citizens, begin co-leading a writing group for incarcerated women, and design a new coloring book called Doodle While You Drip, meant just for people suffering through chemo. Her best friend Michael wrote a moving foreword and passed away just months later.


I met with Becca again last week. We try to do this now and then so we can gripe about politics and suffer together through the complications of life, church, and what matters most. Becca's coloring books had just been featured in our local paper, where her humor and was on vibrant display. She told me about the calls that had come in, each story equal-parts funny and dear. Alzheimer patients, cranky men, women who saw in her the friend they'd been looking for. Most stories ended with something along the lines of, "So I sent them a book for free."

And that's when I knew I needed to share her work with you.

If you'd like to support Becca's Ministry of Coloring, you can order a book by emailing her at

Each book is just $10.00 
(Shipping is $2.00 for one book and $1.00 for each additional book. Delivery to USA only.)

*My friend Sara gave me a set of these pens a while back and they are the BEST for coloring!