Janny’s tongue was clenched between her lips, her brow furrowed as she bent over her task. One thumb and forefinger held the black button against the doll’s face as her other hand guided the needle through the hole. It jammed, stuck in the thick stuffing, and her tongue protruded further as she wiggled the needle, fighting it through the fabric, and finally pulled it out. A few more stitches and she reached for her scissors, her scowl disappearing as she carefully trimmed the thread and held the doll up.
“Very good work, Janny,” her mother’s voice broke into her concentration. A smile spread over her face as she turned the doll around to show it off. Her mother inspected the blonde yarn hair, pulled into two bows at the side of the doll’s head, just as Janny’s fine blonde hair was pulled into two pony tails. Brown yarn eyebrows, not quite even, arched over the black button eyes, one slightly slower than the other. Red yarn formed a smile that tipped up slightly more at one corner. Her dress was a scrap of blue-and-yellow cotton, matching a dress that hung upstairs in Janny’s closet.
“She’s all done,” Janny declared, nestling the doll in her arms. Then she noticed the binder that her mother had set on the coffee table. “Lesson time?” she asked. Her mother nodded and settled onto the couch, pulling her daughter into her lap and reaching for the binder.
“Let’s learn a new word, okay?” Her mother opened the binder and placed a fat pencil in Janny’s hand. “The word is craft.” She carefully spelled it for Janny as the girl traced the letters at the top of a page.
“Grandma does crafts,” Janny said as she finished.
“Yes, she does. She’s very good at crafts. So are you. But do you know why they are called crafts?”
Janny thought and then shook her head. “Why?”
“Because craft means to make something very carefully. You take a lot of time and you make it by hand. If a machine makes it, then it isn’t a craft. Crafts are very precious, because somebody made them and put a lot of effort into them. Just like you made your doll, and it took you a very long time, and you worked very hard.”
Janny’s mother paused to make sure Janny was understanding before she went on. “A craftsman is someone who crafts things. So you are a craftsman. There’s another craftsman that I want to tell you about. He’s a very important craftsman, because he’s made many, many things, and everything he makes is very pretty and very precious.”
“What did he make?” Janny’s brown eyes were large with wonderment.
“He made a darling little girl, with a button nose,” a finger tapped Janny’s nose, “and soft blonde hair,” her mother’s hand stroked her pony tails, “and sparkling brown eyes and a bright smile and a joyous laugh and a heart big enough to love all the dolls in the world.” Janny and her mother smiled at each other. “God is the craftsman, and he made you, darling. And you put a lot of effort and love into your dolly, but God put so much more effort and love into you, to craft you just the way he wanted you.”
The door slammed and rapid footsteps clumped across the kitchen floor before a boy's head appeared around the doorframe. “Can Janny come out to play?”
Janny looked at her mother for permission, which was given with a nod. The girl slid off the couch, reaching for her crutches, and propped them under her arms as her playmate dashed back toward the door. “Wait for me,” Janny squealed, moving her crutches and her twisted legs as fast as she could. The door banged behind them, and Janny’s mother moved to the window, watching as the boy helped Janny across the gravel yard to the swingset.
“Lord, let her remember that,” she whispered. “The world will tell her otherwise, but let her know that you love her and that you crafted her carefully.”
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