Gingerbread Man - Painting the Bread

Hannah Brencher
Daily Encouragement from Clint Hurdle
December 02, 2022


"I want to paint my bread! I want to paint my bread!" I hear my daughter Novalee calling from her crib.

I open the door to her room. Her hair is a tossled mess of yellow curls. That perfect post-naptime bed head is my favorite. She wears a red velvet night gown that honestly looks like the Disney Princesses threw up all over Mrs. Claus. Itís gaudy but, to her, itís everything.

She chatters nonstop to me about "painting the bread" as I scoop her up from her crib. The two-year old translation of what she is trying to communicate to me is: she wants to paint the wooden gingerbread man we bought from Target this morning. One of those activity sets that come with paint and brushes.

I plug my phone in upstairs before I set her up at the kitchen island. We pull our barren gingerbread man from the confines of his wrappings. We open up the little paint buckets and, together, we start painting the bread.

She laughs and dictates what colors we will dabble in next. I show her how to dip the brush in water before moving onto the next color. Itís a series of little things but I can tell her heart is set on fire. Sheís thrilled with this slab of wood, the milky Christmas colors, and her mama painting beside her.

In total, the activity lasts maybe 15-minutes. Itís the most full Iíve felt all week. There have been big things moving and shaking in my life this week but yet this ó this simple thing ó is what sets my heart ablaze.

Itís the look in her eyes.

Itís how proud she is of her finished product.

Itís the phone being upstairs and the realization, yet again, that so many unimportant notifications can pull me away from her too quickly.

Itís the reminder that the most powerful thing I can offer the people in my life is my undivided attention.

In the age of our eyes glazing over from constant smartphone consumption, our presence is deeply valuable, yet incredibly rare, currency. Weíve gotten so good at being so tethered to a device that we think has our best interest in mind, but it doesnít.

She carries that gingerbread man all over the house for the rest of the day. She shows it off to daddy when he walks through the door. Itís the little things that end up being the big things ó the $10 slab of wood, the 15-minute art project, the reading of a book on the couch together, the joy that comes in remaining present. I could see these things as trivial but, to her, theyíre the entire world and I want to spend more time in that world where the small stuff matters.

This is a simple reminder as we step into these Advent/Christmas seasons: our presence means the world to people. Whether they express it or not. Our uninterrupted presence is a valuable present. Sometimes the best thing you can do is show up and paint the bread. It matters.

Remember to look up from the phone.
Thereís so much life waiting for you.