First things first – a huge thank you to everyone who has shown such positive support for this project.
As this story has developed in the past months, I’ve shared some of my excitement with close friends and family. Their support has been overwhelmingly positive. This year has been one where I’ve been on the receiving end of Romans 12:15 in its entirety: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” I’ve been overwhelmed by the love of those around me who have shown deep and true concern for me during a dark patch this year and the rejoicing with me with this latest project. I never expected others to be as excited as I was, but many of my closest friends have mirrored my joy. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful that is! When one is filled to overflowing with excitement, it’s difficult to reign it in and not babble on about all the intricate elements that make my joy so huge. Having friends and family who want to know every detail, every progression, every new experience and talk to how excited they are about it all is … well, I have no words to describe my heart’s joy.
But, I can say that it’s a joy that I want to record here in our family journal. It’s a joy that I want to revisit in my old age. It’s a joy that deserves a “shout out” – or, more specifically, the people who have so wholeheartedly embraced my joy as theirs deserve a big shout out. Which is why I share this here now. Because, it is here that I record many of our joys, failures, thoughts and experiences. It is here that I first began writing again with regularity. And it is here that my joy continues to be shared: from close friends to online acquaintances, I’ve received overwhelming, joyful support. Thank you.
And now … developments:
When I first wrote about my venture into the world of writing children’s novels, I was unsure about where to progress in the publishing field. So many of you wrote and encouraged me; pointed me to potential avenues to explore and gave me fantastic tips. As a result of this and some investigating of my own, some potentially promising developments have happened. I’m excited to share all the details, but I’m going to hold back until (hopefully) potential becomes more of promising. In short, however, I have a great contact who is excited about my project too and wants to connect me to his publisher. A publisher that, unlike Zondervan and other big names that are actually owned by secular companies, is 100% reformed evangelically Christian, with the same vision and purpose that I hold by. Hopefully, connections will be made in the near future.
Until then, here’s chapter two, with a promise to post a couple more chapters in time. (Click here for Chapter 1)
Shards of olive green opaque glass scattered everywhere. Simon froze in horror. His fantasies of pirates and faraway lands vanished. All that remained of his treasure were splinters of sharp glass and a lecture awaiting him from his mother.
“Simon! What on earth?”
Mrs Ward was not impressed. Having chased her toddler up and down the freezing cold and windy beach all morning, she was not in the mood for shenanigans. The kettle was already boiling and Mrs Ward wanted to sink into her favourite chair with a hot mug of tea for just a few minutes of quiet. Clearing up tiny pieces of glass whilst keeping her 2-year old, Jemma, from cutting her pudgy and wildly inquisitive little hands was not on her agenda for the rest of that morning.
The icy cold wind had kissed Simon’s cheeks, leaving two crimson spots. Two spots that quickly spread into the rest of his face when he looked at his mother’s equally flushed cheeks. Her furrowed brows and flashing eyes warned him of a storm coming. A mama’s storm. “Simon! What is this? What were you thinking? Look at this mess! Oh, what am I going to do with you?! Really, Simon? Really? Oh, just … argh! Simon, clean it up.”
With that, Mrs Ward turned back towards the house, leaving Simon alone on the front driveway. He sighed. It could’ve been worse. Generally, Simon’s mom was a great mom. She was the picture book variety in many ways: she read loads of stories to them, baked cookies and allowed them to build forts out of her couch cushions. But, Mrs Ward wasn’t perfect. And that was most obvious when she lost her temper. Her temper would rise out of a place as calm and quiet as the sea, just before a tsunami wreaks havoc on the coast of an unsuspecting village. Sometimes, Simon felt like that little village. This morning, her outburst was just a gust of wind on a winter’s day, much like the wind that was now sweeping the smaller shards of glass towards the garden. Simon dropped to his knees and began to pick up the bigger pieces.
The base of the bottle was still in one piece. Two other larger pieces were nearby. It looked like he may be able to glue the bottle back together, leaving only a hole or two. The rest of the bottle had smashed into splinters that Simon would have to vacuum up with the dustbuster. Sighing again, Simon dropped the two bigger pieces into the base of the bottle when something caught his eye. It was something stuck to the bottom of the bottle.
Simon looked a little closer. His mind began racing down paths of mystery and excitement again when he realised what he was looking at.
A message in a bottle.
It was really a brown envelope, yellowed and spotted with age and wrapped in plastic, but Simon felt sure that it contained something special. With just a gentle tug, he managed to loosen the envelope from its glassy prison. For a moment or two, he simply stared in wonder at the small package in his hands. Then, as if pinched into action and totally forgetting the shards of glass still scattered around him, Simon leapt up and ran inside the house.
“Mom! Mom!” Simon yelled. “Mom! Look what was inside the bottle!”
Mrs Ward had just settled herself on the couch with her mug of tea when Simon burst into the room. Her irritation quickly vanished when she looked up at Simon’s flushed, excited face. Warmed by her tea and her son’s youthful exuberance, she smiled and asked, “What is it, Simon?”
“Oh! Mom!” The words tumbled out of Simon’s mouth at a rapid rate: “I was picking up the broken glass outside when I found this envelope at the bottom of the broken bottle and I’m sure that it’s a pirate from the Jolly Roger or maybe even from Captain Magellan’s ship…”
“Slow down, son!” Mrs Ward laughed. Simon’s excitement bubbled over in a rush of garbled words. She could hardly make head or tail of what he was saying.
“All I heard was “message” and “pirates”! Start again and slowly, my boy.”
Simon took a deep breath and began to tell her the story of how he came to have the bottle.
“… and then as I was cleaning up, I noticed this folded up envelope wedged against the bottom well of the bottle. What do you think it is, mom?!”
“I have no idea, Simon. But it certainly does look very old, indeed. Let’s open it slowly, shall we?”
Simon and his mother poured over the envelope. A heavy sense of importance hung over them. It was as if they both knew that this old, brittle envelope was special. Special in a life-changing kind of way.
“It is a letter!” Simon exclaimed. Unfolding the yellowed paper inside, Simon stared in awe at the words typed neatly across the page.
21 January, 1980
To whoever finds this letter,
I have a question for you. If you find this bottle, please will you answer my question and post it back to:
c/o Jan De Wit Primary School
The Republic of South Africa
My question is:
Who is God and does he really care about me?