Wow! This book absolutely floored me. I could hardly believe that a book like ‘Clare’s Costly Cookie‘ exists. I have never read a children’s book from this unique and invaluable perspective. Julie Kelly writes a story about the talks a girl, Clare, has with Jesus over the struggles and events of her daily life.
Though the struggles are very innocent and cute, they mimic the exact same struggles that adults face in their everyday lives.
The second chapter shows Clare talking to God about how mad she is at her sister. She tells Jesus that her sister started a fight with her and how she wants to get revenge. Through her conversation with God, she realizes that it is petty to fight over silly things like these and that it is better to be the strong, kind, patient person that God has called her to be.
This is something that adults struggle with also. When someone is rude or unpleasant to us, it seems natural to lash out and hold bitter and begrudging feelings against them.
We all have these internal struggles, but Clare takes the right approach! Instead of acting rashly, she talks to God and then quietly listens to Him and waits for His peace to wash over her. If only everyone would do that, then we would be living in a completely different world. The stories don’t stand by themselves either; they come with appropriately corresponding Bible verses.
“Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” 2 Timothy 2:23-25
I hear many parents explain things to their children with, “Because I said so,” or “Because it is.” These are anything but good explanations. Children are not just robots which we can program; they are living, breathing, thinking souls! How we explain to them, how we teach them, determines who they will be one day. Julie Kelly hits this nail on the head.
Clare’s talks with Jesus are not silly; they are rational, good discussions which we all need to have with God. Clare’s conversations address the various complexities of life that can weigh down the soul.
I think one of the most common issues that humans face is battling themselves. We often make mistakes or do things that we regret, despite the knowledge that it is wrong.
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” Romans 7:15, 18-19
In ‘Clares Costly Cookie‘, Clare struggles with the temptation of eating a chocolate chip cookie before dinner. She knows she shouldn’t disobey her mom. She knows it is wrong and that she will regret it later, but she ends up doing it anyway. Clare questions, “Dear Jesus, why did I eat that cookie? I wanted to obey Mom, but I ended up doing what I knew I shouldn’t instead.”
Parents should not assume, just because their sins are greater, that children do not struggle with the same core issues too! Rather, teach them that temptations exist, and show them how to fight them! Teach them while it is still only the small things, while they are young, so that they grow in strength and practice to fight the big things when they are older.
Clare’s temptation is to eat the chocolate cookie. Ours are certainly different and vary from person to person, but the core is the same. Are we acting based on what we know is right? Or are we acting based on a temptation of the world, the flesh, or the devil? Practice in battling the small things will help us to battle our larger foes.
One of my favorite prayers comes from the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It reads,
“Mary, my Mother, your love for us could not be greater or more powerful. You are rich in love and your power brings us relief. You want everyone to be saved. I beg you therefore, protect me in temptation and strengthen me when I weaken. I struggle daily to be faithful to Jesus your son. Help me my Mother at every moment. But above all take me by the hand when you see that I am weakening and about to fall. I will have to struggle with temptation till the day I die. My Lady, you are my hope, my refuge, my strength; never let me lose the grace of God. In every temptation I resolve to turn to you at once and pray: Mary help me.” (St. Alphonsus)
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