If You Give a Sanguine a Marker, She Might Change the World!

C text room wreck

“Everything looks like junk to me and treasure to her!” my husband vented in a text to me, while he was trying to help my daughter finish packing her room for our move across town. Our family’s recent move put us all into fights and flights – where personality differences are most evident.

Bedroom door decor

Bedroom door decor

A flurry of creative design, my sanguine daughter’s bedroom is a sight to behold. I pray daily that I will see God’s design in that “butterfly”, and allow it to fly, while teaching her (age eleven) the necessities of being a future wife and mother who lives on THIS earth, even if her mind lives elsewhere. Today, I found cut up toilet paper inserts, decorated with cupcake papers to create perfect little owls. She also took two advertisement magazines I thought I had discarded and cut them apart to mix and match. The clothing models looked like they were ready to take a rest in Pottery Barn magazine’s color-coordinated beds. Where does she come up with this?!! Look out, world, if she ever finds Pinterest!

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine's ad.

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine’s ad.

So how was she supposed to pack her room? How could she part with toilet paper inserts, advertisement magazines, coffee cans and the rest of what she must have absconded from the recycle bin in the garage?! She told me her room was “completely packed,” so I went to inspect. I found one gigantic box in the middle of her floor, full of those “recyclable treasures,” but not one stitch of clothing was packed; her bed was still made; the toothbrush must have seemed optional along with her school books, because nothing was packed except the “treasures.”

My choleric son (age fourteen), however, was “done packing” exactly oneIMG_5417 half -hour after I had asked him to start. The hallway outside of his room was lined with trash bags, labeled, “throw away.” I think he wanted to save six or seven shirts, and the rest he didn’t think worthy of unpacking in the new house, (or giving as hand-me-downs to his younger brother which I always do) so he wanted them out of his way – choleric style. DONE! (I pray A LOT for his future wife, LOL! And, I filed the clothes away as hand-me-downs.)

Today’s story of my butterfly’s latest flight began because during the packing weeks, she found the brand new markers – black, blue and red – and the way Miss Kristen (who was helping us pack) was using them to label every box as she packed. My daughter wanted to be where there were people – not in her room where she was supposed to be packing; so Butterfly began drawing on the boxes. She was thrilled to have markers with ink (since they hadn’t been lost, and nobody had left the caps off…yet) and she wrote …and wrote….and wrote. I didn’t stop her, because honestly, I knew that if she were with Kristen or me where we were packing, she wasn’t somewhere confiscating the bubblewrap for future crafts.

Butterfly’s writing on the boxes was a little different than Miss Kristen’s or mine. Ours said simply,

“FROM: old living room.

TO: new family room.

CONTENTS: photo albums.”

Butterfly’s messages were more like

“Smile! God is with you!”

“Turn that frown upside down!”

“The sun will come out tomorrow! Look up!”













I was amused with her continuously encouraging words and wondered who she thought would read them. (Though I was reading them…and they had blessed me already!)

That’s when I noticed her younger brother had picked up on the trend. He drew big smiley faces, or cartoons with talking bubbles, making the readers (including me!) laugh.


IMG_5454Miss Kristen was uplifted as she packed books…thousands of books…into boxes, each one being decorated as soon as it received its closing tape.

“Who are you writing those messages to?” I asked my daughter as she fluttered from one box to the next.

“Well, aren’t people going to move these boxes?” she asked.

“Yes, we will have movers,” I said.

“Yep, then I think they are the ones who will read it. But really, whoever God wants to read them!” she said with delight as she saw another room full of boxes she had not yet decorated.

I continued working, huffing a little on the inside, debating whether I should force her into aIMG_5451 working mode, instead of a coloring mode, but grateful for her joyous spirit. As a mother, it seems like a constant debate for me: when do I let my task-oriented personality reign, and when should I let them flutter in their own personalities?

Moving day arrived, and our house was covered with the most artistic moving boxes imaginable. The men quickly filled the house, moving box after box onto the truck. Day one was New Year’s Eve, originally planned to move only the piano, but boxes went onto the truck…rode for four miles and then were mixed up and taken by different hands off of the truck. I wondered if the men noticed the messages.

By the time the movers resumed January 2nd, it was an entirely new crew of men. This next crew loaded the truck again with boxes. As darkness fell, they drove four miles and unloaded the same boxes…different hands touching each one.

An underestimation of truck size caused need for yet another day of moving, so another IMG_5453set of men arrived on the third day to load and unload more boxes… and the messages they carried.   As they walked by me in the foyer of the new house, the movers asked me to confirm the destination room of each box they held. I giggled at my 9-yr-old’s jokes on the side of the box, “Two movers walked into a …oops! Watch where you are going!”

Next was the unpacking – as more hands made the work light, and boxes were unpacked one by one. Even I – who had been looking at boxes for weeks – was amused by each of the boxes’ messages. SMILE! Kept going through my head.

When the boxes were unpacked, they were broken down and stacked in enormous piles in the garage. We offered them on Craigslist, and takers came within a couple of hours. The first was moving to Boston. The second was putting their house in storage while they rented, deciding if it would work out to retire in Florida. The third couple was starry eyed about moving to Oregon to start life together. Their dreadlocks and tattoos would probably not have been my daughter’s usual circle of influence, but they took her decorated boxes.

As I walked away from loading the last of the empty boxes into someone else’s car, I was IMG_5456in awe of my daughter’s God-given ability to encourage; she had no selfish ambition in her coloring (although she definitely received joy in the giving process). She has often said her goal is to “Spread Smiles” with her life.

If you give Christine a marker…

She might write some words…

Which will make her brother write…

Which will make her mother smile…

And Miss Kristen will smile…

And the movers who load the first truck will smile…

Which will make their wives smile when they get home…

The boxes will make the other workers smile while they unload the truck…

The unpackers of the boxes will smile while piling the now empty boxes into the garage, where…

More people will smile while they load the boxes into their cars…

Where the boxes will ride to another house to be packed…

And then their movers will smile while they load the boxes onto a new truck…

Where the boxes will ride to Oregon…or Boston…or eventually Florida…

Where the boxes will be unloaded by smiling workers,…

And unpacked by a family in a new place, where hopefully they are reading the words and smiling…

at the influence of a smiling 11-yr-old girl in North Carolina.


If you give a sanguine a marker, she just might change the world!





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23 thoughts on “If You Give a Sanguine a Marker, She Might Change the World!

  1. Ha ha ha…..I can soooo relate! Do you have difficulty finding the answers on her school work pages, as they are buried within all the doodles too???
    What a great perspective tho, Terri! And what a great influence! Thanks for the adjustment =D!

  2. What a wonderful and uplifting blog! Please tell “Miss Butterfly” and her brother thanks so much for making me smile…from Michigan!

  3. Oh my goodness, Terri. I don’t know how anyone in your home could have a bad day, or a bad hour, with Christine around! Thanks for sharing in your wonderful way. It always blesses me!

  4. I love it. What a great way to spread joy in people’s day. That is a ripple effect that will go far. Now that you have shared it, it will go so much further. Thanks for sharing the story.

  5. Terri,
    What a touching and heartwarming blog! Thanks for sharing your gift with the world!! Your writing is also a gift to your children. I will remember to Smile!!! Thanks for sharing! From one of your biggest fans!!!😘

  6. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Christine’s creativity and “Mission: Smile!” Her JOY will multiply exponentially! Wouldn’t it be cool if somewhere in the future you actually HEAR from someone who inherited one of he Brady’s moving boxes?!! Perhaps the next Brady book will be the Butterfly Joy Book, by Christine Brady!!! 😀😀😀

  7. I absolutely loved reading this story. All about an 11-year-old girl and her family packing to move. As I continue to read tears run down my cheeks not for sadness but for happiness and how much this story has moved me. The impact that she has made with the small little quotes and notes left on these boxes for so many to read.
    However none of us would know any of this if it hadn’t been for her mother to have written these words and post these pictures with these quotes and notes. Thank you for sharing.
    God bless you.

    Lori in Michigan

  8. Wow!..This really was a great read! I love that your children are so happy..and they love spreading that to others. This truly touched me..what a great, great story.

  9. My sanguine is a boy who (currently) loves watching, reading, and drawing Dr. Who stuff. Recently, while meeting with a teammate at a McDonald’s, my three sons were supposed to be sitting at a table doing schoolwork. Instead my 11-year-old sanguine was drawing pictures of Cybermen and setting them on tables of strangers who were eating lunch alone. They declared to me that it was part of “Operation Break-the-Ice” to meet people that I could chat with and potentially share the LIFE business with to “get our Daddy free.” It was a little awkward and I struggled to decide how long to let it go before saving the people from having their ear talked off about Dr. Who, but I was also touched and impressed with their fearless wish to reach out and touch other people. What I realized is that most people go through their day and their lives in a sort of bubble of their own thoughts and concerns and forget there are other people outside that bubble. And sometimes it takes a sanguine kid to POP that bubble for them to look outside and notice there are people who want to connect with them and share something with them. I love what this business is doing to our family. Thank you, Terri, for these continuous, touching, teaching moments from daily life at the Brady home!

  10. Oh my goodness Terri! The tears just rolled and rolled as I read this! How absolutely beautiful and delightful! We have been in limbo for over 6 months in a move that we are trying to accomplish. The first house ran into problem after problem and finally a problem too big to leap over and the deal fell through. Our boxed up goods and furniture went into storage. Then after being ‘homeless’ for a number of weeks, we had to ‘bite the bullet’ and rent something to get through the winter. Basically a 6 month contract on a fully furnished place in the area that we wanted to relocate to. That 6 month period is almost up and we are down to the wire to move into our new home but just waiting on closing… which is supposed to be this coming week. We have already had 3 extensions on this deal but just this morning I was getting quotes and making decisions regarding the movers we would hire to do this move for us … hopefully in 7 days. So needless to say this completely hit me where we are! Also I consider myself and ‘encourager’ … a gift from God no doubt… but now your little one has ENCOURAGED this encourager! Thank you so much for writing this blog!!! You and your family are loved by many and I thank God for all of you! 🙂 Rita

  11. Such a a great idea! The writings on the boxes are definitely doing the work of cheering you up! The post is lovely! You made the moving process so much fun! Thanks for sharing! Greeyings, Moving Man Ltd.

  12. Such a great story, I do believe Christine has changed the world a little already, by her wonderful drawings and also through her mother’s retelling of her encouragement.

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  15. Terri!! You and Chris are amazing! This is all learned behavior! You both aren’t just talking the talk you are walking the walk. This made me smile! I have listened to this Cd many times but to see the illustration makes it so real. Love you all

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