(Above) ”I felt as if she was giving me a piece of her soul,” says Jeanette Levellie (right), here with her granddaughter, Grace

I wasn’t happy about my birthday this year. Usually, I anticipated a cake-and-ice-cream party with my kids and grandkids, opening gifts and playing Uno or Catan together. This year, not so much. Too many candles on my cake. Too many aching joints. Too many COVID-19 concerns weighing on my heart. Between all that, caring formy mother who suffers with Alzheimer’s disease and worrying about my daughter, Marie, a single mom, I just wanted to run away. I knew that wouldn’t solve my problems. But I was weary and overwhelmed.

Then came Grace’s gift.

Free Sprit

Grace, our youngest granddaughter, is a creative child who’d rather read in her bedroom than play dodgeball with friends. My husband, Kevin, and I had stopped asking Grace,  “What’s your favourite subject in school this year?” We knew she’d answer the same every time, in a tone that implied we didn’t know her: “Art. Of course.”

Sculpture. Watercolours. Sketching. Murals. Any form of using her imagination put Grace in a happy place.

A few weeks before my birthday, unbeknownst to us, Grace’s art teacher entered a mask Grace had designed in our local art centre’s student exhibition. The mask featured Starry Night, the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh. Dozens of bright yellow stars swirling in a midnight blue sky beautifully reflected Grace’s free spirit.

Over the Moon

When I read the article in our newspaper including a list of art awards, my heart leapt. There in black print was Grace’s name accompanied by the words “Judge’s Award.”

I immediately called our daughter, Marie. “Did you know Grace won this prestigious award at the art centre for her mask?” Marie rarely had time to read the paper. She was over the moon with delight.

“Sculpture. Watercolours. Sketching. Murals. Any form of using her imagination put Grace in a happy place.” JEANETTE LEVELLIE

I texted my little artist and told her how proud Kevin and I were ofher.

“Will you bring the certificate you got from the art centre when you come over for my birthday party?” I asked her. “I’d love to see it.”

I hoped sharing this proud moment with Grace would take a bit of the edge off my recent malaise.

Grace’s Starry Night-inspired mask

The Best Gift

After rinsing cake crumbs off our plates, I sat down to open my gifts. My loved ones had been generous this year, each of the three grandkids bringing a gift of their own, rather than one large present from their whole family. Grace hugged hers tight, grinned and said, “Can you open everyone else’s first and save mine for last?”

“Of course, honey,” I smiled back.

I wondered what she’d bought me that was so important that I save it until the end. Grace rounded the table and stood beside me while I pulled back the kitten-themed wrapping paper. And there it was.

“What? You’re giving me your art award?” Tears moistened my eyes. “Are you sure, Gracie? You worked so hard on this.”

Grace put both arms around my waist, hugging me tight. “I want you to have it, Grandma. I knew you would appreciate all the work I did on it.”

“He Did It for Us”

Grace had no idea how much I cherished that certificate. I felt as if she was giving me a piece of her soul. My heart was lighter than it had been in weeks as I fastened it to our hallway wall—next to an art award her mom had won when she was a child.

The following morning during our praise and prayer time at church, I told everyone about my favourite birthday gift. As I related Grace’s generosity, Jesus’ sacrificial gift to us on the first Easter impacted me in a fresh way.

Just as Grace had done all the work to earn the honour of an award, and then offered it to me, Jesus earned our good standing with God. He didn’t achieve power over sin and death for Himself. He did it for us. He gave us part of His very heart. His best gift.

The gift of grace.

Author of five books and hundreds of published articles, Jeanette Levellie and her husband make their home in Paris, Illinois. Jeanette’s hobbies include spoiling her three grandchildren, pampering her cats and inventing new ways to avoid housework. Find her splashes of hope and humour at www.jeanettelevellie.com.

This story is from:


On Friday, April 15, 2022, Betsy Pellitteri said:

Hi, The truth about “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? In my heart I knew that God would never forsake His Son. They were/are one. I prayed for clarity and God was faithful. Those words “Eli Eli lama sabachthani”. in Aramaic literally mean “For this reason have I been spared”. In other words “for this time have I come”. Just like when Jesus stood in the synagogue and read from the scroll of Isaiah saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the meek, He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable Year of the Lord”. He then sat down and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears”. He was declaring Himself tone that fulfillment. Fast forward to the crucifixion. He started to quote Psalm 22 which starts with My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? The whole scenario of Psalm 22 is the crucifixion…”They cast lots for My garments…”They pierced My hands and My feet”… He did not have the physical strength to finish quoting. But had He finished He would have said, “THIS DAY IS THIS SCRIPTURE FULFILLED IN YOUR EARS”. His Father never turned His back on His Son. Hope this brought as much joy to you as it did to me.

Leave a Comment