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Archive for the ‘Children’s Books’ Category

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When I just had one son, God gave me two stories. Back then, we lived on a little farm, at the top of a rolling hill. The sunsets and sunrises flamed and dipped beautiful. The wind, on the top of that rolling hill, could be your gentlest friend, comforting on a hot summer day. On other days, it was a wonder it didn’t roll the hay bales across fields – the currents were so strong. It was a pushy, hurrying friend then. In the Spring, the Buttercups always looked like they could touch the sky.

These two stories grew on the top of that hill. When I wrote Where the Wild Winds Blow, I loved the Father, but I didn’t realize I was a beloved daughter of The King. I didn’t realize that He would make whole my brokenness, or that all my quirky ways were designed by Him. I especially did not understand that He created a life plan that would unfold each day, each step closer to Him – and that plan meant that being a southerly mama was part of being holistically me, along with the writer, the wife, the homemaker, the teacher.

beachwalk22cc_edited-1Where the Wild Winds Blow was originally one story, but it has been broken into two – about Spring/Summer and Winter/Fall. The other story, well, it was a God message to me -coming to you for back to school – but for now – it’s Spring. It’s time for part of the first story to make friends – I’d like to introduce you to Where the Wild Wind Blows Spring and Summer.

A little boywind goes to work with his mother, a southerly, motherly wind – to not only find out what she does, but what a Spring Time and Summer Shine wind does. After their day together, talking about “big and Little things, little and Big, the little boy wind asks, “Mama, must we forever roll the rain bales and tug the shade?”

Below are some phrases from the text that have become more enriched, more meaningful to me in the last 24 years. It’s not so much the story behind the story, but the story after the story.

“We feel and are felt
with our big and Little things
Little and big”

The Purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5)

Springtime, Summershine, Coldly Winter Weeks, the Fall Corner

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecc. 3:1)

tiny seeds that slept and burrowed deep

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5: 7-12)

Homeward they blew, talking
About big and Little things, little and Big

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2: 1-6)

rolling great skeins

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19)

hearing a different melody . . . .coaxing the sun to shine

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16)

finishing jobs, beginning jobs

“The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands” (Psalm 138:8)

We feel and are felt
with our big and Little things
Little and big

 Dreams unfold in God’s time. Dreams are often like prayers sent out – the most important part of living happens in the wait of a prayer sent out – just like the most important part of living happens in wait of a dream unfolding. Celebrate with me a 24-year-old dream in a new stage of this journey, and click here to enter to win a copy of Where the Wild Winds Blow Spring and Summer.

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crocnightA few weeks ago, Bicycling with Ava was released. A Crocodile under the Bed, displayed alongside – hasn’t had grandmother’s come bursting through doors saying, “I’ve got to have that for my granddaughter. Her name’s Ava” – but Croc has slightly out-sold Ava. . . and, well, it’s done something incredibly surprising and beautiful.

For every person who has walked by my table (at art festivals), reached out to look at the books, grandma’s and friends interested in Ava – they’ve got to hear about how A Crocodile Under the Bed is for ages 5 to 105 – because everyone has a crocodile under the bed.

The crocodile symbolizes the challenges. Challenges don’t go away. They just change. Five-year-old challenges are much different from the ones faced at 16, 22, 30, 41, 51, 65, 73+. Those challenges might be different, but I think all challenges, regardless of age, have the potential to steal our peace, hurt our hearts and, generally tie us in all kinds of emotional knots.

page1Parenting is full of challenges our children face: educational, health, relationship, choice challenges. If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t know the answer. Even specialists have trouble identifying issues and solutions.

. . . and the people who walk by my table, I get the opportunity to tell them how Crocodile Under the Bed is a story about giving those challenges over to God–how we’re called by God to both prepare for battle but to rest in peace at the same time. . . . how, sometimes, only God can get rid of the crocodiles under our beds.

I won’t lie to you – selling my books has been a blast. I’m scheduling art and craft festivals to sell them at in 2015. It’s a venue that has so far been successful. It also allows the opportunity for real conversation, whether people buy or not – real conversation about a God who wants to get rid of the crocodiles under the bed – and that is the best part of it all – the best part of all!

Do you have a crocodile under the bed? Do you need to be reminded to ask God to get rid of that crocodile under the bed? Do you know that God loves you enough to wrestle those crocodiles for you?

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears”

Crocodile Under the Bed INTERIOR.inddTo order click here: A Crocodile Under the Bed

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Untitled-1Age 6 – something inside Double Dog Dared me to write a book – and I did. I priced it at 5 cents – but there weren’t any takers. A dream emerged, though, through the writer.  Stories, poems, 7th grade  Shakespearean Sonnets, school newspapers, lay-out, editing.

I was learning to be a writer – and I planned a life of writing. Dream Plans drawn up are limited by experience and knowledge.

In graduate school, two guys sat across from me, trying to persuade me that the creative writing program wasn’t for me. The graduate school adviser echoed their arguments a few days later.

I looked them straight in the eye, and said, “Charles Dickens had lived a lifetime by my age (24). His life experience wrote his books. I have a lot of living still to do.”

I dared to stand up to a dream nobody else believed in.

In my graduate thesis, I quoted Charles Dickens. Somebody had written him a letter asking him to look over their manuscript, to tell them whether they had any creative ability whatsoever.

Dickens replied, “For all I know, the land is yours by right.”

Dreams are often slide-tackled by others who don’t know the plans for God-Dreams planted inside us before we were born.

God-dreams might crumple in a slide-tackle, but they rise back up. They’re unshakable. God-dreams just won’t seem to let you let go. . . .

(The chairman of the department told me after my thesis defense that the dean of the graduate school said it was the best creative thesis she had read)

“We plan the way we want to live, (Proverbs 16: 9a, The Message)
 

All those years ago, the graduate student could only put that dream emerging into context of what I knew. There’s a huge difference between what I know – and what God knows – about how God-dreams are used.

Only God could make my dream livable, though. I was learning that. It’s been a lifelong lesson.

 Stop

knittingava“We plan the way we want to live,
    but only God makes us able to live it” (Proverbs 16:9, The Message)

3 children later, I dared to give this dream to God – this very dream that I thought had roots only back to 6 years old. I gave it to Him, willing to not pick it back up. I wanted to show Him I loved Him more than a dream. It was the biggest love offering I had to give.

. . . and He gave it back.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all” (Proverbs 3: 5-7.5)

There wasn’t anything like blogging back in graduate school. Yeah, print Writer’s Markets existed. I wrote for a newspaper – and had a blast doing it. In college, I never dreamed of being a mom to 5 sons, or falling in love with children’s books.

Sitting around my grandmother’s dining room table, my first-born sitting in the high chair beside his great-grandmother – probably one of the last feasts she hosted – she leaned toward my son, 80-year-old green eyes sparkling, she recited to him “Wynken, Blinken and Nod one night sailed off in a wooden shoe, off into a sea of crystal light into a sea of dew. . . .” – and I fell in love with children’s books right there, all grown up, watching the interaction of the two in the lyrics of a book recited from memory.

She must have read that book over and over and over to my mom, my aunts and uncle. . . .

Over the next 27 years, I fell in love with children’s books, like Margaret Wise Brown’s Wait Till the Moon is Full, or Joan Walsh Anglund‘s The Brave Little Cowboy, Ben Schecter’s When Will the Snow Trees Grow – and so many, many more.

CrocmomDuring those years, I wrote a drawer-full of stories. Then I started blogging – encouraging posts and a few stories.

In November, two of my stories are being launched, Bicycling with Ava and A Crocodile Under the Bed. Four more follow next year with 3 planned for the year after. Linda Farrington Wilson illustrated them – and that has been a God-gift for this God-dream.

My dream has a dust jacket . . . just. . . .wow. . . thank you, God!

Dare to dream, friends! Dare to God-dream! There’s no telling where God will take you and what that dream will do!

(Stop by Kate’s five-minute Friday – and bring your five minutes of brave to write on the word. . . . Dare. . . . )

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Frederick Warren FreerA lot of growing happened over the summer.  My tomatoes, zucchini and peppers grew, but we lost the cucumbers, melons and sweet potatoes over vacation. The muscles on my teenager’s arms grew. My peace and strength in God’s plan for our lives grew. And, my little guys grew, to a point that has taken me by surprise.

They outgrew bedtime books with mom. 24 years worth of singing lullabies and reading books, gone as spring crept away and summer muscled in.

But don’t think I will let 23 years of time spent with ageless characters that meant so much to my sons and I go without fanfare. No! Starting with the first day of school, I will stack these precious books on their dresser, and we will climb into bed, saying good-bye to each one(not all books included in post), one evening at a time.  Maybe the boys do not need a long good-bye, but I do.

It is time to say good-bye. . . for a little while.

Good-Bye Good Night Moon where “In a great green room. There was a telephone. And a red Balloon. And a picture of – The cow jumping over the moon.” Farewell! I’ll Love You Forever; I’ll love You For Always. No more will I become exasperated, asking, “Can’t you Sleep Little Bear? Because you will be worn out with each day. And there will be more room in your bed, snuggling with mom will become uncool – because your Beanie Babies, lions and tigers and bears won’t be there feeling like Ten in the Bed.

No more loving to the moon with toes climbing the wall from head-stands. No more hop, hop, hopping to see who can hop highest amidst a heap of giggles. But always loving me and each other to God’s beard and back! Oh, I hope so!

I will sit quietly, reading, wiping my tears on Lucie’s pocket-handkins laundered by Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and always wondering whether lettuces will make me “‘soporific'” like the Flopsy bunnies.

Knowing always that On the Day you were Born God whispered into my heart a secret about each of my sons: You are Special – to God, to me, to your dad, to Nanny and Grandmama, to your brothers, to your future wife, to your friends – I thought it important to say that Just in Case You Ever Wonder.

Maybe one day, a girl will ask, “‘Do you like my hat?” but no longer will you hear it from Go Dog Go. Remember that it is o.k. to say, “I do not live your hat.” Just do it nicely.  Put The Cat in the Hat out? Is it possible?  Yes, Garfield will stay around for a long time – a long, long time.

Aesop’s fables are real life lesson now, just little animal stories of ants, grapes, grasshoppers and foxes. Hopefully, you will remember the moral of the stories, too. I hope you are a “Boy Wanted” as Frank Crane described.  We tried to make you so.  We read you stories to teach you so.

The courage of St. George is buried in your heart to be born when you are called to the Slay Dragons you were created to slay. Choose your companions like the knight Cassidon – companions who will be With You All The Way. Because I love you, I have chosen each book with care and read with love.

Will you remember the odd November late afternnon slowly darkening. For over an hour we sat watching a squirrel  hurry back and forth to his nest with nuts, while I rocked the littlest just a few months old, you sitting beside and another brother sprawled across the bed watching out the big window- watching the squirrel –  Then the snowflakes started falling . . . and suddenly we understood. Our squirreel knew it was time for The Snow Trees to Grow.

These are books that say – oh, let Pooh say it, ” If there every comes a day when we can’t be together keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” You are never too old nor too wise to quote Winnie the Pooh, seek out a quiet place like the Hundred Acre Wood – or play a game of Pooh Sticks to help sort things out.

Each moment reading to you warmed my heart. Each moment said I Love You So Much.

. . . . Oh, stuff and fluff!

I never imagined bedtime snuggles and reading coming to The End.

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