With a little nudge from God, Monique Shore turns her children's message into a book
September 04, 2020
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Grinnell United Methodist Church's Lay Leader, Monique Shore, would share her children’s message in person to the youth during church. When it was her turn last May during their new online worship, she created a video and a children’s story that addresses the emotional struggles everyone is experiencing because of the pandemic.
She then took it one step further. Her message is now a book with proceeds going to support multiple mission projects at her church.
As the Lay Leader, Shore had been using Facebook Live for morning chats and had gotten used to communicating in that way, and when she presented the children's message, going live online wasn't challenging for her.
"I'd been connecting with people through our church Facebook group and knew that many of us were struggling with all of the emotions of adjusting to a COVID-19 world," said Shore. "That week, just as I was trying to figure out what to do for the children's message, our Christian Education Director posted about how her young son was having an emotional meltdown, just feeling overwhelmed with everything."
Shore noticed that most of the comments from that post talked about how other children and adults were struggling with similar emotions.
"And that's when I got the idea," said Shore. "I really see it as a God nudge and totally guided by the Holy Spirit. It was Tuesday night when I got the idea, but I needed to have it finished and to the church staff by Thursday."
Shore went to bed, mulling the idea over, and woke up early thinking about doing something around the same theme as the classic children's book "Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."
She kept working on her idea of "The terrible, horrible, no good, stay at home days," writing before work and on her lunch break and was feeling pretty good about it until she thought about how she was going to present it during children's time online. It needed to be a video, she decided.
"I wanted to be able to not just read the story, but also tie in some images that conveyed the emotions we are all dealing with," said Shore.
She started looking at options available online and found that she could use free images to put it together into a slide show and record her voice reading the story.
"At that point, my husband and I had two college kids living with us in our small house doing classes online, so quiet corners were hard to find. So the actual recording of the video was done in the middle of the night sitting in the closet as it was the only place available," said Shore.
Grinnell UMC is using Facebook Live for their church services. After Shore presented the video during children's time on May 3, 2020, many people commented about it in the Facebook feed. She then started getting text messages, emails, and notes from people saying what an emotional impact it had on them. She shared it on her own Facebook page and received similar responses.
"Even the adults that I knew were really struggling at that point with adjustments to this new reality, and I think it just hit on the right emotional chord for that time," said Shore.
Many people asked Shore if there was a way it could be printed, and she started to look into it. The program she made it in had an option to download it as a PDF. She checked with her local print shops to find out what it might cost.
She tossed the idea out on Facebook to people who had asked about a book, essentially telling people that she was thinking about it and asking if they were serious in saying they'd buy a copy. Within two days, she had more than 80 requests for printed copies.
"I knew I only wanted to do this if it could be done as an extension of the ministry of the church, using it to support people in our community impacted by the COVID-19 closures," said Shore.
Shore contacted the head of Grinnell UMC's Service Committee as they oversee the various mission funds. After confirming they were in support, she called and talked to her pastor to get his thoughts on making it work. He helped her work through the details of how the proceeds could go to the church, and Shore created an online order form, and the orders started rolling in.
Proceeds have exceeded $900, and the funds are going to their local food pantry where they pay for toilet paper and milk. They also pay for Tiger Packs supplies, which provides food to area school children on weekends, and their Good Samaritan Fund, which provides emergency funding to individuals in need for things like unexpected housing or transportation needs. The church Service Committee will determine where proceeds will best be used in the future.
"One of the hardest things in life is accepting that things often don't go as planned and often don't make sense," said Shore. "I will never say that God plans or intends for bad things to happen, but I will always believe that God can take whatever does happen — even when it's a big, crazy, tangled mess like COVID-19 — and can weave it and shape it and find a way to bring something good out of it. We might not be able to see it when we're in the mess of the tangle, but we can know that God is in that mess with us, working to find a way to make some good come out of it in the end."
Shore said she tried to convey in the story that when we are feeling sad or lonely or frustrated, sometimes it helps to think about what other people are going through and imagine how they might be feeling. Noting that if you are overwhelmed because everyone in your family is stuck in the house and getting on each other's nerves, imagine how it would be to live all by yourself?
"This story is a wonderful opportunity to teach empathy. There are so many opportunities for lessons about how others feel or what they may be going through. And turning those lessons into acts of kindness is one of the best things we can do as parents," said Shore.