Rahab: The Brave Girl – Part 3 in a Fourteen-Week Bible Study for Women

Welcome! I’m so glad you’re joining us for this fourteen-week Bible study based on Girls’ Love Letters from God. If you have time, you may wish to keep a journal to record your responses to the questions. Please DO leave comments, responses or questions on this post so that we can learn from and encourage one another.

Rahab: The Brave Girl

Read: Joshua 2: 1-21

So, I have a confession to make.

I sometimes run on the treadmill in my dressing gown. Wait a minute… make that jog on the treadmill in my dressing gown, or maybe it’s more like a trot… a slow trot.

I love my dressing gown. It’s warm, and comfy, and cozy. But, and here’s the thing, when my body warms up, and I finally manage to throw it off, I do SO much better. I even look like I’m running sometimes.

And when I wrestle that thing off my shoulders and throw it on the ground, I always think about the writer of Hebrews who said:

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

That’s just what our brave girl, Rahab, did. She threw off everything that was holding her back and ran, straight towards God.

And what does she find? Continue reading

Miriam: The Trusting Girl – Part 2 in a Fourteen-Week Bible Study for Women

Welcome! I’m so glad you’re joining us for this fourteen-week Bible study based on Girls’ Love Letters from God. If you have time, you may wish to keep a journal to record your responses to the questions. Please DO leave comments, responses or questions on this post so that we can learn from and encourage one another.

Miriam: The Trusting Girl

Read: Exodus 1:22-2:10

I’ve been on the Nile River. It’s huge. It’s very long. It’s very wide, and it’s very deep. And you’d have to be completely, utterly, hopelessly at the end of your own resources to ever, ever consider putting your baby in there, even if you did coat the basket with tar. But that’s what Moses’ mom did. It’s unbelievable.

This mom, after hiding her precious baby boy for three months, realizes that she cannot save him from the murderous Pharaoh, and chooses to put him in the river. Hear that again. She chooses to put him in the river.

It’s the ultimate lesson in letting go.

And it’s my story.

It’s not just my story because I wrote it. It’s my story because I lived it. There I was, one day, standing in an utterly desperate, utterly hopeless, utterly terrifying situation with my son.

For those awful, several years I lived in the land of what if? where all my moments and all my days were consumed with worry about all the dreadful things that might happen to him. I don’t know about you, but I’m an expert in imagining what might happen. I’m so good I could lead a class in it.

And one day, when I had come to the absolute end of my own resources, I simply had to let him go, and trust God instead. I had to place him in that basket, my precious son, with his long legs hanging over the edge, and let him go…

I wonder what Miriam thought might happen to her tiny, defenseless baby brother when her mom chose to let him go in that little basket, down in the huge River Nile?

I’m sure that any one of these awful scenarios ran through Miriam’s mind. She must surely have thought, what if…. Continue reading

Eve: The First Girl – Part 1 in a Fourteen-Week Bible Study for Women.

Welcome! I’m so glad you’re joining us for this fourteen-week Bible study based on Girls’ Love Letters from God. If you have time, you may wish to keep a journal to record your responses to the questions. Please DO leave comments, responses or questions on this post so that we can learn from and encourage one another.

Eve: The First Girl

Read: Genesis 2:15 – 3:13

God clapped his hands in delight as Eve opened her eyes for the very first time. She was wonderful! After six days of creating the world- painting the skies, stirring the seas, and filling the earth with life- here was God’s masterpiece, his glorious finishing touch to the world. Here was Eve, made by God’s own hand. And she was good.

These are the opening words in Love letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. I chose them for a reason. These words set the stage for one of the most important truths that we, as women, could ever know.

You are good. 

Hear those words again.

You are good. 

God made you. And everything God made is good.

So how are you feeling today? If you’re anything like me, you don’t truly believe those words. Because we Christians are supposed to be humble, and on top of that, life has a way of wrestling us to the ground, and whispering lies, like:

Continue reading

A Special Announcement and Invitation For The New Year

When one year closes and a new one begins, hope is ushered in.

While we’re busy making our New Year’s resolutions, the master of new beginnings is waiting quietly in the wings, whispering hope into our hearts, just like this:

“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands.”

This is our great God of hope doing what God does best… assuring us that the past is the past; filling us with hope; cheering us on into this new year; encouraging us to keep moving forward; holding our shaky hands every step of the way.

I’m excited to announce that here on the blog, I’ll be starting something brand-new, and I want you to be part of it. Continue reading

What To Do When Jesus is Buried

During the month of December, a jolly light up Santa would always stand proudly on our front porch. He was there, smiling to the world, ready to herald the arrival of Christmas. But a few years ago, we decided to upgrade to the Holy Family.

We arranged Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus on the front lawn, tracked down our extension leads, and plugged them in. Beautiful!  The baby Jesus brought light to our neighborhood, which of course, is what Jesus always does.

My husband and I watched from the window as the children who lived in the street came to admire the display. It gave us a good feeling to advertise the true meaning of Christmas.

But one week, when the heavy snows came to Michigan, Continue reading

The Phone Call I Never Wanted

Oh Glenys… this is the phone call you never wanted.

I hear the tremor in my brother’s voice. He’s 4000 long miles away, and I say a prayer in my head.

God, whatever this is, give me strength.

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Dad is dying. 

I can hear those three words like it was yesterday. My heart is beating fast and I kneel by my front window like I always do when I don’t know what else to do.

That was one year ago today.

My little grandsons are running around the house. There’s Christmas music playing. I’m setting the table with a cheery red cloth, preparing for a party. And then the next day, I’m on a plane, England bound, where I get to kiss my dad for the last time as he lies with his eyes closed and his hands folded in that quiet, quiet room, with a stuffed dog at his feet and an acorn tucked in his pocket.

Please, God, let me know you are real.

Let my dad be living in heaven.

Let my faith not be in vain.

Let my words, let my words that I write for children, be true.

Because sometimes, just sometimes, there’s this little nagging doubt that creeps up inside me and I wonder what life is all about, and if I really will get to see my dad again, like I told him with absolute certainty on my knees that day in front of my window.

I love you Dad, and I WILL see you again.

I could hear his breathing.

My voice was strong, and in that moment, I was convinced, just like Paul, that NOTHING, not even death itself, can ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

But today, I’m not strong. I’m not convinced. And I’m trying hard to hold on to my faith, my God, like I’m drowning in the ocean and it’s my only life-line, my only hope and it’s slipping fast through my fingers.

But what is faith? What is hope, the writer of Romans said, if it can be seen?

The day after I kissed my dad goodbye, as he lay in that simple wooden box, I stood in the street just a few doors down the road, while my sister and nieces played Christmas carols in the brass band. The icy wind blew my sister’s hair, and the rain in Wigan was cold. I wondered if my dad could hear them play his favorite carol, as he lay there, all alone.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

I know my dad has been raised. I know my dad has gained that second birth. I just miss him terribly, and there’s this big, empty hole in my heart that no one can fill.

And so as my family gather in England today to celebrate and remember the life of the most Christ-like man I have ever known, the one I was utterly, utterly privileged to call Dad, I will take a walk in these Michigan wintry woods, and I’ll admire the splendid trees, all covered in soft snow, and I’ll listen for the birds he loved so much, and I’ll thank God that my dad, my wonderful dad, is in heaven.

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.