We lived near the city of Rochester, MN – home of the Mayo Clinic. From time to time, we’d get a call from my out-of-state pastor/brother-in-law letting us know someone from their area needed a visit. This time, a missionary couple his church supported needed a place to stay. They’d be flying in from Bon Aire, and their names were Tony & Terri. Hearing their story, I said yes and started the emailing process.
Tony was sick – had been since he was a child – and needed to leave the mission field to see if Mayo could help. Both, he and his wife, Terri, were positive they were in MN for a reason. When Tony received terribly sad news, we were uncertain what God was up to. At first, we assumed it was to give the four of us the chance to meet, but. it seemed there was more to their trip than that.
Evenings after tests and disappointing results, we’d relax in the family room and talk for hours. Terri would sit on the floor, and Bandit would snuggle right up against her. His tender and faithful presence comforted my new girl friend. He loved her, knew she was hurting, and gave her the only thing he could – himself.
At one point, Tony asked me about my writing dreams. I told them I had some kid’s books I was working on, but that I needed an illustrator. After they left, I found a note from Terri on my kitchen counter. She thanked us, and then mentioned her niece – an artist named Leslie and included her contact information. I emailed Leslie and knew quickly why Tony and Terri came to MN to “introduce” me to their niece who lives in WI. (As I write this, there is a huge lump in my throat – Tony was soon in heaven, and he was the gentlest man Jon and I have ever known – so gentle he left a tremendous imprint on both of our hearts.)
I thought I’d do the raccoon book (Raccoon Tales) first, but it still had a long way to go word-wise. I gave her It Is Good first, and I was delighted by her talent – her sketches were the melody my words needed. Next we worked on Room for Bandit, and I love the way she captured the tenderness our canine friend had for a little girl named Amanda. Again, coupled with her art, the story sang.
Finally, the words to Raccoon Tales were complete. This time, Leslie’s art made my story sing and dance.
When a young mom or a grandmother write and tell me a child they love enjoys one of these books, I remember this part of the process and thank God for a gentle man and his beautiful wife who believed in my dream enough to share their precious niece with me.
These books aren’t mine alone. The stories, the talent, my friends, and the illustrator all came from God to me. Sometimes I sit in my storeroom in front of all the books I haven’t sold yet and pray for the little ones who will receive them as gifts. Because I know Someone bigger than me had the plan long before I got to be part of it.
Until Next Time,