I've been writing for a number of Presbyterian publications during the last few months...
"How Do You Pray With Others in Their Time of Need" Presbyterian Outlook
The topic for the article was spurred by a reader seeking guidance for Elders and Deacons when called upon to pray for people in times of crisis.
One of my very first publications when I was first seeking to become a published author was an article in the magazine for women, Horizons. I later had the honor to write the 2005 Women's Bible Study on the church seasons. My recent article, "In Praise of Sloth," appeared in the November/December issue. I wrote about learning to let myself take time to heal after my knee replacement, and to accept the help offered to me rather than feeling guilty.
I wrote two weeks of devotions for These Days, a daily devotional. I've written for this publication several times through the years, and it always helps me sink deeper into Scripture. My devotions will be published in December 2022.
In Other News:
I was interviewed by podcaster Terrie Hellard-Brown who writes about and interviews authors of children's books. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out: Books That Spark Podcast 103: Helping Our Children Navigate Their Faith with Kathleen Long Bostrom
My picture book (first published in 2006), Why is There a Cross? was listed as 53 out of 100 in a listing on Christian Book Expo's Christian Juvenile Bestsellers for Easter 2022.
I had a picture book accepted for publication, not sure when yet but I'll write more about it once it's in the works. My picture book, Since the Baby Came was highlighted in Publishers Weekly, which was a great thrill: I'm loving working with Sarah Rubio at WaterbrookMultnomah.
I am learning once again how grief and grace dance hand in hand.
In the midst of grieving the loss of our beloved Ellie (see March 18 post) I began looking online for another rescue dog. Ellie was a rescue, and once we adopted her we vowed to always adopt a rescue dog. It's shocking how many are available, once one starts to look.
And I spent a lot of time looking. In those weeks when I could hardly focus, and tears sprang readily and freely, I began to browse animal rescue sites. It felt almost disloyal to Ellie, even though I told myself it was anything but. Greg and I often have told a widowed person who remarries not to feel guilty. Wanting what one has had is an expression of the love shared and missed. We honor life by claiming it. Ellie is lodged deeply in our hearts and nothing will erase that. Loving a new dog, we're discovering, only makes more room in our hearts for expanding that love by welcoming another precious into our lives.
Welcome to our world, Sophie Grace!
Sophie is a mixed breed whose mother was rescued from the streets hours before giving birth to nine healthy puppies. The question, "Should we get a puppy or perhaps a dog a year or so old?" was promptly answer when we held this 5 pound baby in our arms for the first time.
Sophie is almost 10 weeks old, and even though she came home less than two weeks ago, she has quickly etched herself on our hearts. Love and joy and laughter abound in our home again.
Easter will be here in 10 short days. There is much packed into the church timeline between now and then: Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and then, resurrection! Joy! The promise of renewal, new life, and life everlasting.
I'm feeling that promise and joy even now as I walk through the rest of Lent.
In life and in death and every moment in between, grace happens.
And I thank God with my whole heart.
I've had every intention of writing a blog a week since the Newbery Medal was announced in January. I planned to share stories of the Newbery medalists, their books, and my interactions with them. And then my life changed. My beloved rescue dog of nearly fifteen years, Ellie, died January 30. She'd been declining in health due to her heart condition but until the last days was a happy, engaged and loving girl.
During her rapid decline, I focused my attention almost completely on loving her through her dying and death. I don't regret that, not for a minute. I got way behind on many obligations, including this blog, but I was immersed in caring for my sweet dog who had been my faithful companion for so many years.
I've allowed myself to grieve; to cry when the moment strikes, to look at her photos, to share Ellie stories with my family and friends who also loved her. Grieving is hard, exhausting, and necessary work, and as a pastor who has also endured tragedy and trauma, I recognize that every person grieves in their own way, and that's okay.
I'm looking for a new dog to rescue but taking my time. Ellie will be hard to follow, and I want to be sure to love and cherish a dog for that dog and not as a substitute, which no dog can ever be.
I'll keep you posted and will soon post about Easter books for children. In my own recent time with death and grief, I can't wait for Easter. But walking this long, shadowed journey of Lent, it is exactly what I need right now. Resurrection only happens after death, and we all walk the valley of shadows. Let us be kind and gentle with others and ourselves and hold fast to our faith in Life beyond life.
Newbery Medal Winner for 2022: The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barbara Higuera. Read more about the book and the author at Levine Querido.
Do you know the meaning of "Cuentista" without looking it up?
(Photo: My collection of all the Newbery Medal books,
now a new one to read and add to my collection.)
Since "cuento" means storyteller in Spanish, I am guessing that "cuentista" means storyteller - and I hope there never is a last one!
What happens on January 24, 2022? The 100th Newbery Medal winner will be announced! In case you’re not familiar with the Newbery Medal, that’s about to change.
This is how it all began.
On a bright, spring day in 1744, a revolution began. No gunshots were fired, no battle lines drawn, and no lives lost. Best of all, there were no losers in this revolution, only winners.
Triggered by a much-admired London bookseller named John Newbery (make note, that’s spelled with one “r”), the revolution began quietly and with little fanfare. The only inkling that a history-making event was about to occur came in the form of an announcement that appeared on the back page of a London newspaper dated June 18, 1744:
This Day is publish’d According to
Act of Parliament (Neatly bound and gilt)
A Little Pretty Pocket-Book,
intended for the Instruction and Amusement of
little Master Tommy and Miss Polly . . .
Printed for J. Newbery, at the Bible and Crown,
Near Devereux Court.
In that time, people believed that the sole purpose of books was to teach strict moral and religious values, and anything that might be considered “amusing” or “entertaining” wasn’t welcomed, nor even in the picture at all. John Newbery changed all that.
Many felt that Newbery’s books weren’t proper, but a larger number of children and adults bought his books as if they were buried treasure. The world of children’s books would never be the same.
Newbery died in 1767, but in the early 1920’s a Midwestern bookseller and editor, Frederic G. Melcher, decided that publishers and booksellers needed to do a better job of promoting books for children. In 1921, Melcher made a proposal to the American Library Association that a special medal be given each year to honor the author of the most distinguished book for children. Melcher recognized the impact that John Newbery had had on children’s book publishing, so he suggested that the award be named for Mr. Newbery. An American sculptor named René Chambellan designed the medal.
The first Newbery Medal was awarded in 1922 to Hendrik Willem van Loon. This year, the Newbery Medal turns 100 years old. I’ll be sharing stories over the next months of my interviews and friendships with eighteen of the authors. I’ll keep you apprised of events planned to celebrate the anniversary. I’ll have fun games and quizzes and links to share.
I invite you to join me on this journey, 100 years in the making!
Fasten your seat belts, because here we go!
Greetings, friends! I received an Advanced Ready Copy (ARC) of an amazing book by author and friend, Jennifer Grant. I read an earlier version and absolutely loved it, so happy now to be able to share with all of you! The book will be available mid-August but you can pre-order now. I know that I will be buying and sharing this book with many, many people.
Jennifer wrote the book during the pandemic, as the whole world sought to find a way through uncharted territory. She addresses the trauma and loss and uncertainty, but also the goodness and hope that people found in one another. It's a perfect mix of acknowledging the worst, and finding the best. The book has journal pages to record your and your child's memories.
"The illustrations by Gillian Whiting celebrate love, family, and community as they were expressed all across the globe in a time that taught us the meaning of togetherness. It also includes journal pages to record your own memories about this unique and historic time and the effect it has had on your own life." (Amazon)
“This book offers a powerful way for parents and children to process all that we have felt during the pandemic.”
―Matthew Paul Turner, author of When God Made You
“This book provides hope and meaning for children without glossing over the difficult facts of what happened.”
―Traci Smith, author of Prayers for Faithful Families
“Jennifer Grant’s economy of words and Gillian Whiting’s gentle, evocative illustrations combine to remind the reader that in the face of great suffering and loss, still there is hope and healing to be found.”
―Glenys Nellist, author of Snuggle Time and the Little Mole series
“Jennifer Grant encourages readers to reflect on what they’ve discovered is important as they emerge from these tough times. Illustrations by Gillian Whiting . . . portray a diversity of people and locales, reminding readers that the sickness struck across all ages, races, and locations. A beautiful book.”
―Patricia Toht, author of Dress Like a Girl
“ . . . This is a book about resilience and hope―a book about remembering. Jennifer is gentle in word and spirit – and her words, paired with the lush and evocative illustrations by Gillian Whiting, provide space for holy remembering.”
―Roger Hutchison, author of Come In, Come In!
“Thank goodness for Jennifer Grant and her truth- and hope-filled language to guide forward as we look back. A terrific resource for kids and adults alike.”
―Caryn Rivadeneira, author of the Helper Hounds series