The Final Christmas Love Letters from God Giveaway!

The countdown to Christmas is in full swing. with just twenty days left and little lights twinkling everywhere.

My Facebook feed is full of folks sharing their newly decorated Christmas trees, and just to add to the magic of the season, it started snowing yesterday, at least here in Michigan. I woke up to this wonderful world of white right outside my window.

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Christmas is coming. Jesus is coming. That little baby, hope of the whole world, light of all life.. He is coming.

Christmas is simply the best time to begin making memories and establishing family traditions with our children.

At my final blog stop in the Christmas Love Letters from God tour, I’m sharing ideas for seven meaningful, memorable family activities to enjoy around the Christmas tree. Be sure to check out number seven… that’s my favorite one!

You’ll also be able to download your cute, cut-out Nativity scene, straight from the book, and, of course, enter the final Christmas Love Letters from God giveaway

If you live in the Grand Rapids area and you’d like any one of my six titles signed for a Christmas gift, please come to my Children’s Story-time at Baker Books on Thursday 15th Dec. 10.30-noon.

And here’s my favorite story from Christmas Love Letters from God!

Happy Christmas! (that’s what we say in England!)

The Big Surprise… and Christmas Love Letters Giveaway Number 7

I loved Christmas when I was a girl.

I remember when my mum discovered ‘catalogs’… the perfect, stress-free way to shop for Christmas for all eight of us. We would pore over the pages, and then she would order what we wanted.

One year was a big disappointment. It must only have been a few days before Christmas when she broke the devastating news to an expectant ten year old:

Glenys, I’m sorry, but your pogo stick didn’t arrive. You’ll have to choose something else.

I didn’t want anything else. I wanted a pogo stick so I could boing up and down the driveway to my heart’s content. I don’t even remember what I chose as an alternative.

But what I DO remember is coming downstairs that Christmas morning, waiting patiently outside the living room for all my siblings to line up, and then opening the door to see…

a POGO STICK!

It had arrived after all, and my dad had dutifully hidden it away in the back of his wardrobe so it wouldn’t be seen. (He’d also forgotten to tell my mum). How excited she must have been to be able to surprise me with that gift after all.

I was a happy little girl, and spent the next several months boinging away happily to my heart’s content, up and down the drive. It was the best surprise ever.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without surprises. A little baby, in a manger, who would grow up to be King of the Whole World… what could be more surprising than that?

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Traci Smith, a Presbyterian pastor in San Antonio, has a Christmas surprise for her two young sons. She wrapped up 25 books and beginning December 1st,  they’ll open one book a day until the 25th.

And can you guess which book they’ll save for last? It’s Christmas Love Letters from God. What a wonderful surprise for me to find that out!

Read her post and be sure to enter the Christmas Love Letters from God giveaway. You never know… you might win.

What a lovely surprise that would be!

Why You Should Always Read the Author’s Dedication…

I’ll never forget the thrill of writing the dedication in my first book.

This book is dedicated to the oldest and youngest members of my family…. I wrote.

To my dad, Harry Hughes, who first told me the wonderful Story of Jesus. And to my grandchildren, Xander, Sam, and Brixham, who are just beginning to hear the wonderful Story for themselves.

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When I penned those words I was nervous. I wasn’t sure whether my dad, frail at 90, would ever be able to hold that book, or turn its pages, or see that it was dedicated to him, or even remember that his daughter was the author. But he did. I have the photograph to prove it:

My dad & I B&W

And how glad I was, because he never did get to hold my second book. He died while it was in the mail on its way to him, all wrapped up in Christmas paper, on route over the wide sea from Michigan to England.

If he could have opened it, he would have seen that I dedicated that book to my first granddaughter, newly arrived into the world.

For Colette, my first granddaughter, I wrote. How my dad would have loved to meet her, and lift her high onto his shoulder. But it wasn’t to be.

There is a time for everything, Solomon wrotea time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh.

Isn’t that true?

When the time came for the third title in the series, Christmas Love Letters from God, I was ready when my editor asked, Who would you like to dedicate this book to? 

I knew, straight away, whose name would be printed in the front of this book, and why. And so when Laura Sassi, children’s book author, welcomed me to her blog, and asked me to share the story behind its dedication, I was happy to do so.

Do you know who I dedicated Christmas Love letters from God to?

Read the story to find out…

When Time Flies By and You Never Even Knew…

I don’t know how it happened. I really don’t.

Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, this first grandson of mine managed to turn five years old, swiffed his blonde hair to one side, and knocked on the doors of kindergarten.

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Gone are the days of painting at grandma’s and singing songs at the library together. Gone are the alphabet rhymes and the sensory bags filled with birdseed and pasta. My boy is grown up.

I picked him up from after-school for the first time just yesterday. I was there when the doors swung open and he jumped down from the yellow school bus, laughing and jostling and chatting with his little kindergarten buddies. I watched him swing his back pack onto his shoulder, his laces all undone and his blonde hair blowing in the wind.

He didn’t see me for a few minutes as I glimpsed into his new world. But then, his eye caught mine… and there he was after all, my little grandson running, running, and squealing with joy.

Gandma!!! he squeals in delight.

(Yes, that’s right… I didn’t mis-spell that word. He still calls me Gandma  sometimes).

And I swing him high into the air, back-pack and all, and hug him close. All is not lost. This little boy still loves to see me, and he’s not embarrassed to show it… yet.

This is my Gandma Glenys, he announces loudly and proudly to all his friends, and hugs me tight around the legs as if I might escape. But where would I go… if not with him?

I tuck him into bed that night, and I tell him:

I love you to the moon and back.

He thinks for a minute, before he responds: I love you to… (a little pause here) the mountains and back.

How did he fill my heart like that? I kiss that little blonde head as he snuggles under the covers and closes his eyes.

And I think to myself, seize this time Gandma. Hold on to it like it’s the last thing you’ll ever have, because that gorgeous autumn tree, that one you took a photo of just the other day? It’s leaves are almost all gone. 

And if I could hold on to a season, I surely would… before the ground is covered with what was once so lovely.

 

Five Things I Never Imagined as a Children’s Author, and a Third Giveaway!

One of the most marvelous things about becoming an author is what happens next. And it’s marvelous because what might happen is totally unpredictable.

Time after time in this publishing journey, I have seen the principle of Ephesians 3:20 at work in my life. And don’t you just LOVE how The Message Bible puts it?

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

Oh, yes indeed! Here’s five things I never, ever, in my wildest or craziest of dreams, could possibly imagine happening:

  1. That when I sat down to pen the very first words of Love Letters from God, that book would one day become a series with its own brand.
  2. That I would walk in to a little British Primary school one May morning to see the walls literally covered with children’s love letters to God. IMG_2985
  3. That I would hear, time and time again, how adults have been impacted by these books, not just little ones. (Which I guess just goes to show that although my target audience is children, God’s target audience is the world.)
  4. That I would be able to dedicate Little Love Letters from God to my very first           granddaughter.
  5. That Christina Embree, a United Methodist Children’s Ministry Director in Kentucky would take Christmas Love Letters from God and work out the perfect way for families to use it to journey through Advent and into Epiphany together. (I am the author, and I have never thought of using the book in that way!)

I don’t know what your dreams are… for yourself, or your children, or your future, but what I DO know is this:

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!

There is nothing that our great God cannot do.

So keep believing! Let the wonderful, mysterious Holy Spirit keep working quietly and deeply within you.

Keep believing.

Read about using Christmas Love Letters for Advent and enter the GIVEAWAY.

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So Who Would You Like to Have Tea With?

How fun to participate in an interview with a fellow children’s author…. Denette Fretz, who wrote two wonderfully entertaining books called Pirates on the Farm and Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door.

Now, with titles like that, I wondered if she might begin our conversation with a fun question. And she did. Her interview began:

First, let’s get to know more about you. If you could have tea with any author, whom would you choose?

Ooh…I replied….that is a hard choice. Can I cheat and have tea with a family of authors?

So who do you think I chose? Here’s a clue…they’re British (of course).

To find out, head on over to Denette Fretz where you can also enter the third Christmas Love Letters from God giveaway.

But before you leave, let me share with you a wonderful little story from Kate, who won our last Christmas Love Letters from God giveaway. The winners are chosen at random, but I really love what she plans to do with her book. In her comment, Kate wrote:

Our church family has a special single mother with twin daughters who will be receiving this book on their doorstep (secretly!) on Christmas Eve in hopes that this book will be part of their Christmas Eve traditions.

I just love thinking about this…

that on Christmas Eve, there’ll be a secret present, all wrapped up in love, sitting quietly on someone’s doorstep, just waiting to surprise them on Christmas morning.

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It reminds me that each of us can do our part in delivering God’s love letter to the world, and sharing the wonderful story of Jesus with those who need to hear it…

the story behind the greatest gift of all.

Enter the Giveaway at Denette Fretz

Christmas Love Letters from God Blog Hop…and Eight Giveaways!

Here we go friends…. beginning this week I’m embarking on a virtual tour with my newest book, Christmas Love Letters from God.

glenys-with-christmas-ll-bookEach week leading up to Christmas, I’ll be featured on eight different blogs where I’ll be taking part in author interviews, sharing ideas for creating Christmas traditions, and hosting a book giveaway at every stop.

There’ll be book reviews, a chance for you to download your own DIY nativity cutout scene, and ideas for using Christmas Love Letters from God as an Advent or Christmas devotional.

I hope you’ll join us at our first stop today with Vanessa Myers, a United Methodist Children’s Ministry Director, who shares some surprising thoughts about the book.

Here’s the entire blog hop schedule:

OCTOBER

17th: Vanessa MyersChildren’s Ministry Director

24th: Denette FretzChildren’s Book Author

31st:  Christina Embree: Children and Family Ministries Director

NOVEMBER

7th:   Kelly AnnMom Blogger

14th: Laura SassiChildren’s Book Author

21st:  Jenn PorscheHomeschooling Mom

28th:  Traci Smith: Pastor

DECEMBER

5th: Noelle KirchnerPastor

Now head on over to Vanessa Myers…. you don’t want to miss reading what her young daughter wrote in her love letter to Jesus.. it is so precious! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway there too!

That Utterly, Amazing Thing We Call Grace

So he was there again this morning, that gorgeous kingfisher with the long beak and the beady eye, perched quietly atop our pontoon boat.

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We’ve watched him as he dives deep into the lake and emerges a few moments later dangling a poor, flapping fish from his beak. We really should stop watching at that point….but we’re unable to put the binoculars down. It’s too fascinating, seeing this grisly glimpse into nature, this devouring… it really is.

Our kingfisher is in that same spot every. single. morning. Because he knows it’s simply the best place to be. It’s where he gets fed.

Then there’s me.

My family and all my friends think I’m a wonderful Christian. And I try, I really do. But somehow, I don’t quite measure up. I KNOW where I should be every single morning. I know the best place to get fed. But I fail so miserably.

In my defense, my Bible does have a prominent spot right at the side of my bed… but my phone sits on top of it. And therefore takes precedence.

But I NEED God… I really do, especially on gray, cloudy days like this one, when the sun won’t shine. And my heart is troubled.

On days like this I so need to know and remember that God is the one who can heal all hurts and right all wrongs, who can mend broken hearts and hold us when we cry.

God is the one who catches every tear, who fixes our failures and whispers hope into our hearts; the one who makes a way when there seems no way.

God is the one who tells me I am loved no matter what I do, or don’t do, no matter how many miserable times I fail or how many times I fall. God will lift me up.

It’s that utterly amazing grace that John Newton knew so well.

I stepped out onto the sodden grass this morning, trying to get a better picture of that kingfisher as he sat atop our pontoon boat. I wanted a close-up. The grass was long and wet with rain. My socks were soaked. But I’d only taken a few steps when he flew away.

God is not like that.

Because I know that the minute I start running to God, God will run to me.

I know God is the one waiting for me to turn and take those steps, and before I’ve even put my foot down, God is running, running right towards me, holding out those great big arms that will scoop me up and hold me tight and never let me go.

Healing all the hurt. Righting all the wrongs.

I’m running, God. I’m running.

The Church in the Middle of the Cornfield

It’s Sunday. l’m in the car early on this October morning. I leave the city and all the traffic behind and pretty soon I’m by myself on country roads, heading to this little church where I’ve been invited to share in a special Children’s Sunday. I’m happy to do it… children’s ministry is my passion.

I don’t really know what to expect when I get there, but I’m thinking that that this place won’t be packed. There probably won’t be many kids. But that’s okay, I remind myself. After all, some of Jesus’ most powerful conversations that would result in transformed lives were shared one on one, rather than in the crowd.

I keep driving, and driving, past peach farms and fruit trees, and nothing else, until I arrive at the railway tracks that have no lights. I obediently stop and as I do, I see a faithful little sign beyond, trying its best to stick up importantly out of the grass. It bears a cross and flame. I know that logo.

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Chapel Hill United Methodist Church 1/4 Mile that faithful sign announces, with a little arrow to guide me just in case I get lost. After all, the road I’m on does seem to stretch into nowhere.

But I’m on the right path. And exactly one-quarter of a mile down that road, I get my first glimpse of the church. It’s little. And cute. It looks welcoming. It’s in the middle of a cornfield.

As I pull into the parking lot, I note that there’s even parking spaces ‘reserved for visitors.’ I try not to think about just how many visitors might come here. But the point is, this church is prepared.

It’s just that I’m not… I’m not quite prepared for what I experience that morning…

because inside those doors, something is happening, fueled by the undeniable and inextinguishable presence of the Holy Spirit.

Every pew is full. And there are children… lots of them. The worship is high energy as we gather to celebrate the launch of the re-envisioned Kidz Konnection. And I have to admit this is just not what I was expecting.

So much work, and thought, and planning, and prayer, and preparation has gone into this that I am overwhelmed… and so proud of this little church and all it is achieving.

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And when we make our way up to the altar rail for communion, I get the biggest piece of bread I have ever seen, because, as the pastor says: who wants a little bit of Jesus? Don’t we all want a big hunk of Jesus?

Yes, yes, yes! This little church in the middle of the cornfield is offering a big hunk of Jesus to all who step though its doors. And that is a wonderful thing.

And I guess it doesn’t matter what size our church, whether we’re in the city or the country, as long as we’re preaching the Gospel and welcoming children as Jesus did.

As long as little children return from the communion rail grinning from ear to ear clutching a piece of bread so sodden in juice that it has turned pink, while others kneel at the communion rail, their eyes closed and their hands held high in prayer.

And when I leave that morning, I look out, beyond the cross, over to the cornfield and I watch the giant stalks blowing in the wind.

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I think about that huge field of corn, and all the work and preparation that went into it. Of how a farmer must have planted those seeds, and nurtured them, and fed them, and proudly watched them grow, all the while anticipating a harvest.

And that’s just what this little village church is doing… planting seeds, and nurturing them, and faithfully fulfilling its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

There will be a harvest.

Christmas Love Letters Announcement!

Here’s Mary, jumping out of the pages of Christmas Love Letters from God to help me announce the two lucky winners of the giveaway! Do you see how excited she is?

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Out of the 43 people who entered, the winners are: Elizabeth Campbell, who said:

I think my favorite story will be Jesus Joy.

And Kate Robbins, who said:

I think Mary’s Song is going to be my favorite too!! I could listen to you read stories all day long!!

Thank you, Kate, for your kind words, and for everyone who entered.

If you didn’t win, don’t despair! Beginning October 17th, there’ll be eight chances to win the book.

Each week leading up to Christmas, I’ll be featured on eight different blogs as I hop on board a virtual tour. I’ll be taking part in author interviews, sharing ideas for creating Christmas traditions, offering a cute Nativity cut out scene, and hosting… giveaways!

And if you would like a signed, personalized copy as a special Christmas gift, please come and see me at one of my upcoming:

Events

Happy Christmas! (After all, it’s only 80 days away!)