Mary Ann Bird had a cleft palate and early childhood was torture.
She was different and it was immediately obvious to everyone. She had a twisted lip, lopsided teeth and a crooked nose. She talked funny.
After the first grade, she knew no one could ever love her. But then came the second grade and the story she tells in her book, "The Whisper Test."
The second grade teacher is Mrs. Leonard. Mrs. Leonard is a favorite of every child.
She is doing the yearly whisper test, the test to check each child's hearing. One by one the students file over to the door of the classroom and listen intently to hear the sentence Mrs. Leonard is whispering.
With a smile on their faces and a sigh of relief, each student repeats the phrase they hear.
"The sky is blue!" shouts back one kid.
The line moves on. Soon it is little Mary Ann's turn. With her back to the teacher and straining to hear, seven words reach her ears that she will later say changed her life forever.
The seven words? "I wish you were my little girl."
Come with me and stand by the door with Mary Ann.
Far too often it is you and I who have been told we are different. We have been shunned and rejected once too often, though perhaps we can often shove it from our memory.
We forget: forget that is, until the sun goes down, the night turns cold and we are alone in the dark.
Come with me and stand by the door. The question that haunts us all is, "Am I lovable? Me? Really? If everyone knew everything there was to know about me, would anyone still love me?"
Come with me and stand by the door. Gather your courage and listen for the voice of God. Jeremiah of long ago did. And God's voice whispered in his ear and is still whispering for any who will choose to hear it. Not seven words, but eight: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3.
Charles R. "Rick" Cupp is a minister with the Kenai Fellowship, a Church of Christ, Mile 8.5 Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. Sunday worship services are 10:30 a.m. to noon. Children's Church is at 11:10 a.m. Wednesday worship and Bible classes are at 7 p.m.
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