When I was in 3rd grade, I started a "Writer's Club" at recess. It boasted 2 members on day 1 and was just me by day 2 but I wrote a whole series called "Love is . . ." and still have them! They are folded pieces of paper, stapled with the funniest drawings. The "books" take you inside a 3rd graders mind, but don't have much in the way of story element. I grew up and pursued teaching instead. I taught 3rd and 4th grades for 10 years. The only thing I disliked about it was teaching writing - especially GRADING it! But towards the end of my full-time teaching years, I took some writing classes that turned my thoughts around. When our daughters were born, we decided I'd stay home with them. That began my second career. Ten years later when both of the girls were in school full time, I began subbing. Interacting with students again inspired me to once again explore writing. The dream had been dormant but not dead. Every once in awhile, I'd think of a plot and begin writing but give up after a page or chapter or two. I kept telling those who asked that unless God gave me an idea, I couldn't write. I also had a friend tell me that children's publishers are looking for series of books, not stand-alone stories. My comment was "I can't even think of one idea, let alone a series!"
In 2012, I started teaching a Character Club after school at my house for my oldest daughter's classmates. Each week, we studied a different character virtue and at the end of the month do a service project in the community. The virtues are based on a curriculum I taught during a mission trip to Russia in the 90s; compassion, forgiveness, integrity, respect, responsibility, initiative, cooperation and perseverance. In the fall of 2015, it hit me. There's my series! I began praying about writing again and after the new year, God gave me the outline for the entire first book! Not just the idea, but the whole outline. I finished the rough draft in eight weeks.
In March of 2016, at a Mom's in Prayer retreat, I met with the Prayer Encourager for the state of Colorado. When I told her about the idea, she said she needed to pray for me right then. She grabbed my hand and began to pray, "Dear Lord, I just want to thank you for this wonderful idea Allie had . . ." Then she stopped mid-sentence and began to laugh. I looked up, confused and she said, "God just told me I didn't need to thank him because it was his idea!" Goosebumps ran up and down my arms. That was just the confirmation I needed to hear that God was going to use this book and the series for His glory.
In the next six months Jeanie's journey unfolded and her fictional story became available in September of 2016. Ethan's story about integrity came next in 2017. I am no expert on the themes I write about. I feel challenged and convicted on the very virtue I write about every time. That's why these young ones are on "a journey toward" and not "learning a lesson in..." I'm humbled by the opportunity I've been given to share a small part of my journey through these books. God has reignited a childhood dream and brought it to fruition. I can't wait to see what He has planned!