Tag Archives: School

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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I Wish You Knew. (A Tribute to My Mum)

Her name was Isabella. She hated it, and preferred to be called Isabel. But she hated that too. She thought it old-fashioned.

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I wish she knew now how popular that sweet name is, and how, when I meet that little girl called Bella, she always makes me think of her. But there’s a lot I wish she knew now.

I wish she knew that I married David, whom she adored.

I wish she knew that he became a pastor…how surprised and thrilled she would have been!

I wish she knew that I had four wonderful sons, that my family has grown to welcome three daughters-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren.

I wish she knew that I went into teaching, and eventually became a children’s book author.

Because it’s really due to her.

Those who know me well would never, ever believe that I was a naughty girl at school. But I was. My poor parents were constantly hauled into the headmaster’s office, as he tried to rein in my unruly behavior.

I remember one of those occasions more than most.

I’m sitting in his office, while he glowers at me from behind his big important desk. His black gown is as dark as his mood. I’m sure I deserve to be there. I probably deserve to be shouted at too, but I can’t remember what I’ve done. Perhaps I got caught smoking again, or perhaps it was the time when I nicked someone’s bike from the bike shed and rode off down the road with my best friend. But we had only sneaked away from boring science class to get some fish and chips… what’s wrong with that?

Whatever it was, I’m upset. And that’s unusual too… because I’m a bit of a rebel, and I have a hard exterior. But the headmaster in the black cloak has no hope at all for my future; in fact, he thinks I’m heading for failure.

And perhaps I was.

But that’s when I hear Mum come to my defense. To be honest, I can’t remember her exact words, but they went something like this:

But did you know, Mr Ellis, that she is SO very good and patient with children? I wish you could see Glenys at home. She takes her little niece, stands her on a chair, and they bake dozens of wonderful fairy cakes together. They line them all up on the kitchen table, and fill them with custard and jam. Glenys is so good with her! I just know she’s meant to work with children.

Mum didn’t know that she had just sowed a seed in my heart, that I would one day become a teacher, and out of that, my love for writing for children would grow.

She didn’t know because she took her last breath the day I sat my final exam at college. She never saw me wear the cap and gown, or pick up the pen to write Love Letters from God.

Mum has been walking those gold-paved streets for thirty-five long years. This month, I will turn fifty-seven, the age she was when that cruel illness stole her from us.

I wish she knew how thankful I am, what a privilege it was to be raised in that wonderful home, a place full of laughter, and busyness, and song.

A place where a hard-working lady called Isabel did her best to raise eight children, and saw the good in them when others couldn’t.

I wish she knew.

What Happened in a Little British Primary School on my First Author Visit..

I look out over a sea of red. More than three hundred young voices are raised in exuberant song. Boys and girls are swaying and smiling. One of them glances my way to wave shyly at ‘the famous author.’

It is my first visit to a British Primary school. I’m here because my sweet nephew, Jake, carried his copy of Love Letters from God to school one day and showed it to his teacher. 

I’m here to sign the copies that were bought for each classroom and to read the children’s favorite stories to them.

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IMG_3035I’m here to inspire these young children; to encourage them to be the best they can be; to remind them that dreams do come true.

Because fifty years ago, I was one of them, sitting cross-legged on the floor of the assembly hall in my red British uniform, in a school not too far from theirs. I never would have imagined that one day I would be living in the United States, or have the enormous privilege of being an author. And so I’m here to inspire these young minds, and to help them dream of what might lie beyond the horizon.

I don’t really know what to expect on this sunny British morning – but I’m definitely not expecting this. ..

A welcome enthused with so much warmth that it makes me feel like JK Rowling;

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a prayer written especially for me;

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prayer for me

a trio of smiling girls who lead worship during assembly and then use their free time to patrol the school in order to check that everything is being done in a Christian manner. They form part of a wider group of children, known throughout the school as ‘ The Ethos Warriors.’

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I don’t expect to see halls and classrooms so boldly and brightly decorated with stories and scenes from the book;

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wall of letters

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or wonderful children’s letters to God displayed on every wall.

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And I am moved by what those letters say, and how their contents reveal their need for God.

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I’m honored by the huge bouquet of flowers waiting to greet me on the ‘top table’ at lunch time, along with eight smiling pupils who have earned a place there.

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And most of all, I am truly amazed and humbled as I witness the school’s ‘show case’ at the end of the day, where each class shares a presentation of work based on the book.

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The youngest children wear the colorful animal masks they made and parade in two by two.

The oldest show videos they created based on the story of The Lions who Lost Their Lunch.

And in between, classes sing songs and perform raps; they read out their letters to God and proudly show their paintings inspired by the story of the Wind and Waves.

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 None of this wonderful work was I expecting.

I’m sitting on the plane now, flying high over the Atlantic Ocean, homeward bound to the USA. In my suitcase I carry a book, made by the children of Sutton Oak Primary School in St Helens, England. It is decorated painstakingly and beautifully with little colorful stamps, just like the ones my illustrator created for the book.

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And in my heart I carry memories of wonderful, committed teachers;

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IMG_3149IMG_3145of children being nurtured in a Christian atmosphere; of little ones learning every day about the One who made them.

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And I know that God is wonderfully at work in the world, through words that I was somehow privileged to author.

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A Tale of Two Teachers

Glenys as a girl

This is the only photograph I have of myself as a girl.

Just six years old, I sit in a wooden chair, wearing a beautiful little dress with blue collar and  blue bow that no one else has. I know this because my clever mum made that dress just for me, in preparation for my photograph day at school. That long-ago morning she has carefully parted my hair, and clipped back my curls. None of this I remember, but the photograph whispers it to me.

And I perch on the edge of my seat and smile, in the big old assembly hall where every morning we sit in rows on the cold floor, cross-legged and straight backed, and sing 17th century hymns like John Bunyan’s He who would valiant be from the giant hymn book sheets that swing down from the wall.

I don’t remember much of my time in that British Infant school. I do remember playing in the huge sand pit outside my classroom door; I remember fumbling with two needles as I learned to knit; I remember running around the playground with my friend, whose dad drove lorries and on wonderful days would stop outside the playground gates and pass chocolate to us through the bars.

And I do remember Mrs. Moorfield.

Mrs. Moorfield had a huge hairy mole near her mouth. If you were close to her you could see the hairs quivering when she talked. I didn’t like her. But maybe I would have done if I had a different story to tell….

Mrs. Moorfield had a memorable system of teaching us to read. We would stand in a circle around her chair with our books at the ready. As we stood, we were to read silently. And when our turn came, we would step up to her chair and read out loud.

If we read without mistake, we may return to our seats. But if we stumbled on a word, we must stay in the never-ending circle, and continue to walk around her chair, waiting for our turn again…by which time, we ought to have figured the word out. No clues, no help.

Just figure it out Glenys.

A little girl could end up staying in that circle for a long, long time…even if she needed the bathroom.

I am holding my Janet and John book. And I LOVE reading, and I am GOOD at it, which makes the memory even more horrible. And the very fact that I can still remember the word that made me do it….speaks for itself. I glance at Mrs. Moorfield’s hairy mole and try my best:

Janet and John stopped and looked at the siggna, I say, hopefully. I know it does not make sense. But maybe a siggna is an animal I have never heard of before.

Wrong. Stay in the circle. Try again.

Please may I go to the bathroom?

No. Not until you figure out that word.

I stay in the circle. I go past The Hairy Mole several times, each time trying to pronounce this strange word differently. I say it fast. I say it slow. But I never do figure out that:

Janet and John stopped and looked at the sign.

And then it happened. Right in front of the whole class. I am just a little girl. I just couldn’t wait any longer.

It’s a memory I would love to erase.

But a few years later, I would meet Mrs. Kelsall, the memory of whom I would never wish to erase.

I would meet her in the warm and cozy staffroom; a mysterious place; usually forbidden to us children; a glimpse into which we only ever caught when the big door swung open to reveal the roaring log fire that always burned in the grate.

But every Wednesday, it was here, with notebook and pencil at the ready in my lap, that I would write. It was here that Mrs Kelsall would introduce me to the wonderful world of new words, and poetry that painted pictures in my mind and life changing literature.

At eleven years old, my final day in that red bricked building, when the bell clanged for the last time, and the doors flew open to release excited children to the High school, Mrs Kelsall was waiting for me at the gate, with five little words that I would never forget:

Glenys, don’t ever stop writing.

I never did.

Mrs Kelsall will never know the impact she had on my life. She will never know how much she encouraged me; how she restored my faith in teachers; how she inspired me to try to be an encourager myself.

But I know. And God knows. And maybe that’s all that really matters.