Laser Rays…and Moonbeams

A tale of two “living letters”… 

At 4 ½, I thought of her as a young teen – though she may have been only about 10.  An older neighbor kid who occasionally stopped by to “play” with me. Probably when she was bored or at loose ends.  We weren’t close, but because she was older, I admired her.  I could hardly wait to show her my new skill – I could read!

Oh–so-proudly, I opened my oversized book, laid it out on my lap and across hers, took a breath and began to share my newfound treasure with her.  Words swelled in my heart as I delighted in telling the story that went with the pictures, turned the pages at just the right sequence of events.  I almost couldn’t believe it myself…but I knew I knew those written words!

Then…like taking a laser-shot to my dream…she used her words to burst and shatter my belief.  “You …can’t…read!” she screeched.  “Ha! Ha! Ha!” she guffawed, rolling with laughter.

“I can!  I can!” I wailed.

Then she broke the real bombshell. “Hah!  You’ve just memorized it!”

“I haven’t!”  I gulped, on a sob.

Suddenly…I wasn’t sure.  Snatching my book, I ran from her…into the house…to mom.  She smoothed back my bangs, poured me a soothing cold drink and went to get a simple book. “You do know some of those words by sight,” she consoled me gently.  “Now I’m going to teach you how to put letters and sounds together and soon you really will be reading. You don’t have to wait for school, because I can see you already love words.”

From that moment on…I was hooked. When I did start school and someone asked my favorite thing to do… I always answered, reading!  Soon, I was checking out and carrying home stacks of library books…to read them to anyone who would listen.  That’s when mom introduced me to our new neighbor – a retired teacher. I don’t remember her name.  Her face is misted in shadows.  But I do remember her kind heart. And the essence of her words that were like a wellspring to me.

“I’d love for you to read to me after school sometimes,” she told me.  “Won’t you stop by and show me your favorite books?”

Shyly, I agreed.  If she’d asked me to have tea and conversation, I would’ve been too tongue-tied.  But oh…if she really enjoyed hearing me… I could read her stories about someone else!  Through mists of time, I can see myself sitting in her rocking chair, my latest stack of books at my feet.  I can feel her smile…hear her telling me how much she loved my voice.  How I had great expression.  And when I got stuck on a word, she never laughed or tried to poke herself in until I asked.  “I look forward to you coming,” she’d tell me over a “cup of tea,” then confiding, “and visiting all my favorite book characters once again through you!”

Over a few months, I’d rush home with a new book to share, then shyly knock on her door. “Come in!” she’d greet me luminously, making me feel as if she’d been waiting just for me.  “I was just hoping you’d stop by to continue our story!”

When someone crushes – oh for the one who lifts us up!

School Days  Jessie Wilcox SmithMrs. _____ , I wish I could recall your name.  I wonder if you knew the simple, life-building words He wrote upon my heart through you…like moonbeams to light and inspire my way —

“You have something to offer…”

“You are special…”

“I enjoy you…”

…And I hope my gratefulness was written on yours.


“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”                — Proverbs 12:18

Be a moonbeam chaser!  You never know who will flourish in the light of your words…  And if you have a similar story of your own, I’d love to hear it!

©  Pam Depoyan





artwork:  Vintage artist, Jessie Willcox Smith

About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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45 Responses to Laser Rays…and Moonbeams

  1. MaryLou says:

    Hi Pam, as usual I thoroughly enjoyed reading your latest Apple of Gold. I cannot remember when I fell in love with reading… but I am so very grateful that I can read. I can remember when I was in elementary school having a teacher that was in charge of the library and how we were allowed to help her in the library. I even had a chance to check in and out books and also file them back on the shelves. I also remember when I was younger pasting cut envelopes inside some of my books so I could put cards in them to make them like library books so that they could be checked in and out. I cannot remember a time when I have not loved books. I really like to buy used books especially really old ones. If used books could talk they would have more to say besides what is written on the pages inside of them. I cannot imagine my life without books! I really like the pictures that you have included… they are a perfect compliment to the words that you did share. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Marylou! I love your story about putting the envelopes in the books… so cute.

    And I always think that about used books too, because they usually have a handwritten inscription that gives a clue as to when it was given and to whom. It makes me wonder about who they were, and if this book was a special treasure to them, etc. I love this artwork too… Jessie Wilcox Smith is one of my most favorite illustrators…I love her charming work and each one of these seemed to fit so perfectly. The one at the bottom is called “moonbeams” so that gave me the moonbeam theme too. I love the way the mom is holding her child’s legs in that one. So tender and natural.

    Thanks for sharing your stories too!

  3. Diane says:

    Oh, the joy of books! The smell of the inked pages….

    Your story brought tears to my eyes, Pam. God bless that neighbor! I don’t have a similar story that I can think of. I remember I used to read to my dolls – no one else ever seemed to want to listen. And I, like you, Mary Lou, played Library. I used to “check out” my books by using index cards. I would assign numbers…man, I haven’t thought about that in many years. Thank you for the memories! I loved the photos, the bottom one especially. It’s so tender.

    By the way, Mary Lou, that was my mother’s name!

    • MaryLou says:

      Hi Diane, thank you for sharing about playing library. I do wonder when I fell in love with books and reading…seems like my love for both has been forever. I am so very grateful that I can read. I am very grateful that I have books in my life. I certainly cannot imagine my life without books. Thank you for sharing that MaryLou was your mother’s name. 🙂

  4. Yes… I’ve always loved the clean smell of books. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of grimy library books that have a not so great odor to them… But I just picked up one yesterday that was a brand new book for the library (I think I’m the first reader of it, yeah!) and I was immediately struck by how clean the book is and a fresh scent to the pages. Delightful. Can’t imagine ever going to a Kindle… Fun how both you and MaryLou have memories of making up your own library books! And… back when you were reading to your dolls, I have a picture in my mind of The Father lovingly listening in… 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your memory, Diane!

  5. This was a touching story, Pam, and I’m glad you found someone who listened to you. When I was three-ish, I painstakingly copied my favourite picture book over onto blank paper and then showed everyone the book I wrote. One of my sisters told me off, saying I just copied the book. I remember how hurt I was, but now I know that copying writing or memorizing a book is indeed the first step: memorizing a book is the first stage of reading and copying words is the first step to writing your own.

  6. Thanks for your lovely comment and for sharing your story about the picture book. Yes, I agree it is the first step… and what a love for books you had at such a young age! Your story reminded me how I learned to draw by painstakingly copying drawings from one of my favorite childhood author/illustrators, Joan Walsh Anglund. I copied and copied until one day I developed my own style… I like to think of her as my “art teacher” 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you enjoyed this post…Come again! Your blog looks intriguing too and I will spend time perusing 🙂

  7. Pam, This was such a touching post that brought with it such an important lesson through word pictures.

    Just last week, I was confronted about words I uttered many, many years ago. Words that cut the person deep… The even sadder thing was, I don’t remember saying those words or could I imagine that I did… But it was very apparent I had by the hurt conveyed to me. It grieved me so much. And then I started to reflect on the power of words and could remember words said in the heat of the moment to me years ago, words that may have seemed harmless to the person saying them, but to a child, they apparently cut deep because at 56 I can still remember them.

    O what a lesson I learned myself last week, and your blog post helped reiterate that lesson to guard my tongue and to use it only for love.

    I LOVE the final picture you shared. Absolutely beautiful!!

    • I LOVE this artist, too (Jessie Willcox Smith, from vintage Good Housekeeping) and each of these illustrated my story so perfectly I couldn’t resist them…

      O, Karen, I ‘ve been reflecting for many months now on the power of our words… over others and over ourselves. I am seeing more and more truth about how there is life and death in the tongue. I understand just what you mean about how that grieved you in finding that out when you’d had no clue and don’t even remember them… yet you find they hurt someone you never intended to hurt. The blessing is now you can turn it around with words of grace, even if only spoken in prayer for that person….

      I remember a time in grade school when it came to me that a girl I knew in class had told her mom that I’d said horrible things to her – things I never remembered saying either, but somehow they’d cut. It’s never been in my nature to say hurtful words on purpose (though I’m not saying I’ve never done it in the heat of the moment), so it totally flabbergasted me that she interpreted them that way. I also know people who hold so tightly to words they’ve felt wronged by that it harms them – remembering things said from so many years ago and holding them as if they happened today harms us more than we know. So grateful for forgiveness and grace and want to try and capture those words to speak grace and light and life to others… . Yes, I am reminded too to try and use my tongue only for love. I’ve been thinking lately how so often we slip into gossiping about others without intending to…

      So glad this encouraged you today and that you love the artwork too! I’ve been wanting to re-share some of these “living letters” I wrote about a few years ago now that more are reading here. Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

  8. helloredds says:

    Don’t you love those people who poured love into us!
    What a sweet story today! Words are so important and impactful!
    I found your post today on Modest Mom!
    Hope you have a blessed day~

  9. Being Woven says:

    Oh MY!!!!! This touches me so! As a retired elementary teacher and children’s librarian, and now a private tutor to those young ones who struggle with reading, I know that your mother and the teacher were truly gifts for you. Children need the encouragement that “they can” read, do, accomplish, etc. Thanks to those who give children that extra touch so that they know that they can! Can do and be all that they are made up by God to do and be. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful memory.

    • Thank you for sharing too, Linda… You are one of those out there encouraging children everyday! I’m so glad to know how this resonates with you today 🙂 I so agree… reading has always been a passion with me. I always remember when teachers or anyone would ask me what I loved to do, reading was always top of my list! And if I find an author I love, still to this day, I am on the hunt for everything they’ve ever written…

  10. Mary Geisen says:

    Thank you for your beautiful words. I want to be a moonbeam chaser and bring life to others. I remember a hurtful thing that was said to me when I was about nine years old and it has stuck with me to this day.

    Your story of learning to read and makes me think of myself when I learned to read. It was my favorite thing to do too and still is. Love being your neighbor at #TellHisStory today.

    • Thanks, Mary – I’m glad we are neighbors there today too! Kindred spirits! 🙂 Those words do stick, but so grateful for Grace that washes clean. May He take those words spoken unto your little self and somehow turn them to roses for ashes! I feel as though He washed those negative words in that way as I wrote out this story, bringing to remembrance the stronger encouraging ones that were there at the same time… Reading is still one of my great passions too! 🙂

  11. Barbara H. says:

    Visiting from the Woman to Woman link-up. What an important truth – and so beautifully put! Reading was my favorite subject, too.

  12. I loved this story so much; it really touched my heart! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on!

  13. Lori @ Frog's Lilypad says:

    What a beautiful encouragement of being willing to listen and/or to help. I spent afternoons tutoring children with reading when I was teaching. One precious little boy comes to mind when I think about my last year. He tugged at my heart because he was so determined to read like some of the other children could. Thanks for this beautiful story, Pam, and for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.

  14. Michelle says:

    When one of my students (age 5) tells me they can read, I know they are memorizing or at least remembering the story enough to tell it back. The fact is, I still celebrate with them and never let them feel like they can’t or aren’t truly reading the written word. To listen, to help, to celebrate, to encourage is what inspires young readers to be more. Thanks for these beautiful words.

    • So true, Michelle… how we make children feel about reading is so important, and encouraging them in that desire with our celebrating such excitement a gift we can give with our words! Thanks for sharing your heart on this, with the kids and with us here, Michelle! 🙂

  15. Pam, I love this – you have such a way with words and telling stories – I noticed it from the very first time I visited. Thank you for sharing what was a terrible thing with hurtful words, yet turned into a great redeeeming story! I just love the letter you wrote to your neighbor at the end – such a fitting tribute and encouragement for us all. Blessings – Found you at #FreshMarketFriday today

  16. Jemma says:

    If we would all practice the art of listening what a wonderful world it would be.
    Thanks for these beautiful words and joining us today at TOHOT too.
    Have a lovely weekend,

  17. Pam, I love books and reading, and I taught high school language arts for 17 years…. so your story makes my heart happy. — I do remember my mom taking me to the library as a child, and I learned to love reading because she was a reader.

  18. Gayl says:

    Pam, this is beautiful! I, too, have loved reading ever since I was a child and my mom taught me to read before I went to school. What a wonderful neighbor that lady must have been! It was great that she took that time with you. 🙂 Blessings to you! Thanks for sharing this at #LMMLinkup!

  19. What a lovely story. Thank you so very much for sharing this wonderful post at Thoughts of Home on Thursday.

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  21. So glad that your bad memory was replaced with one that brought life, love and encouragement. I don’t remember learning to read, but I’ve always loved books and even have several of the books from my childhood that I still cherish! Have a blessed week, Pam!

  22. Gayl Wright says:

    Pam, I am choosing your post as my favorite this week at #LMMLinkup. You will be featured on my post tomorrow. Your story is such a good illustration of how words can hinder or help. Blessings to you!

    • Thank you, Gayl!! I’m so glad I re-posted this one because it is touching many who can relate to it in speaking life to kids – I was just beginning to blog back when it was originally posted and not so many read it then. Blessings to you too!

  23. Carrie says:

    Oh, what a memory you’ve shared with us! I’m so glad you found kindness in your neighbor after the unkind jeering from the older child. Isn’t it breathtaking how God works through people to heal us and build us up again? Thank you so much for this today!

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  25. Such a beautiful and heart warming story. Words have the power to make or break. I wish to say a little prayer for the kind soul who made you believe you were special. I am visiting here from Gayl’s blog post for Literacy Musings Monday Link up.

  26. This is so very beautiful!! To be a moonbeam chaser…I’ve never heard this term, but I am immediately transported back in time to those individuals who were just that in my life. Words have so much power, and I think the older and wiser we become, we realize what a huge gift God has placed within each one of us to impact a life for good with our words. Coming here is such a peaceful treat! Crystal~

    • Thank you, Crystal! I “coined” that term here when I found the Jessie willcox Smith drawing at the end of this post – it has to do with moonbeams and that fit so perfectly with what I was writing that it inspired me. 🙂 That’s so true about words and the gift in each of us… This is actually a part of a series I did called “living letters” on various people who have been God’s “letters” upon my life. The ones I’ve been reposting lately are all part of that series… I’m so glad this is a peaceful retreat place for you! That blesses me today!

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