October greetings from Marti Pieper in lovely Mount Dora, Florida, where fall is in the air—not because our temperatures have dropped significantly but because of the growing number of pumpkin spice products available at local stores and coffee shops. I’m not quite sure what season it is where today’s interview guest, Peggy Cunningham, lives, and you’ll see why in just a few moments. I first met Peggy at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference and am delighted to have her join us on the CAN blog today.
Welcome, Peggy. Please tell us about your new book, Dancing Like Bees: 31 Steps to De-Stress, Delight and Dance Like Bees.
The book idea began with bees buzzing near me. I’d been walking our mission property early mornings––frustrated and exhausted. My husband suffered from a bout of shingles that left him in constant pain with no relief from the nerve damage it caused. At the onset, not even morphine helped. And it was almost two years since it all began. Where was God? Didn’t He see us here in the middle of a foreign country with no help?
As I sat by a flowerbed filled with daisies, the buzz of bees drew my attention. They flew peacefully from flower to flower doing the job God created them to do, even as a storm approached. If bees could be joyful and peaceful in all circumstances, surely I could find a way to do the same.
Through 31 devotions, my book examines what I learned about God’s creation of the honeybee and how it speaks direction into our need for living a peaceful, productive life while overcoming stress and achieving joy.
That sounds wonderful, Peggy. And what about your next project?
In 2018, I will have five new books released by Write Integrity Press––a four-book children’s storybook series, Hooray for Holidays, and a devotional for women, Shape Your Soul.
Hooray for Holidays is a four-book series of heartwarming holiday stories with adorable animal antics, history tidbits and Bible principles plus beautiful artwork. While learning history and Bible lessons, children will be entertained and giggle with delight at the humorous and whimsical animals and critters that will find a place in their hearts and homes forever.
Shape Your Soul is based on Matthew 17:20, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” While physical exercise isn’t a requirement, readers will see the benefits of exercising their souls by applying God’s Word to their everyday circumstances to see Him move mountains for them. Incorporated with the body and soul exercises are heartwarming and sometimes hair-raising stories that will captivate the readers’ adventurism and spark their desire for a life of growing faith.
I have to say it: It sounds as though you’ve been as busy as a bee. So what inspired you to write Dancing Like Bees?
Honeybees inspired me. In a world that is filled with stress on all sides, I wanted to share what I’d learned about God’s peace and faithfulness by watching and learning the honeybees’ routine—with hope that my book would help others going through trying times. I began researching honeybees and saw their peaceful and productive lives. I bridged the intricate details of a bee’s life to my walk with the Lord and found my faith energized. God’s creation, the honeybee, taught me how to be busy, balanced and blessed, and I wanted others to find that peace also––especially through the storms of life.
What surprised you the most during the research of this book?
Without a doubt, that bees dance. They do the Waggle Dance and two other dances. It’s how they communicate. Honeybee dancing is one of the most fascinating behaviors in animal life. Performed by the worker bee that returns to the honeycomb with nectar, three dances constitute a language that tells other worker bees where the food is located. God’s creation is intricate and amazing.
What would you say is the primary focus of your book?
God is always faithful, and His creation magnifies His majesty if we take time to seek Him in everyday situations––even through the honeybee. We can find peace in all circumstances and live peaceful, productive lives that glorify Him.
What would be your ideal writing place? And … what’s your actual writing place like?
When I began writing, I was reading a book by Elisabeth Elliot. She mentioned her writing place and I thought, Wouldn’t that be ideal? She described the ocean view from her upstairs office. Heavenly, I thought. But I live in the landlocked country of Bolivia where I am a missionary––no oceans here. One day, I looked out the window from my upstairs writing place and thought, This is my ideal writing place. You won’t see a beautiful ocean view from my windows. But a glimpse out any upstairs window will leave you breathless as you span a view of the majestic Andes Mountains. This is where God wants me, and this is my ideal writing place.
That sounds lovely, especially since you know you’re right where God wants you. When did you recognize God’s call to write for Him?
I began writing after my grandchildren visited Bolivia for the first time. My granddaughter was 3 years old, and our grandson, 5 years old. Such a delightful few weeks, but soon they returned home and left a void that made it hard for us to stay at home because of the emptiness after they left. I prayed for a way to stay in touch with them from 6000 miles away, and I believe God answered my prayer and gave me a unique way. I began writing stories about the animals at Rumi Rancho that Ben and Kayla came to love during their visit. When I reached nine stories, I began thinking of putting them all into a book—hence my first nine books, the Rumi Rancho Tails series.
We self-published them as a ministry project and sold 10,000 books on our furlough. Maybe God wanted me to continue writing, I thought. So in 2010, I attended my first writers conference––the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. I learned so much and began submitting articles to magazines and compilation books and devotionals. I was surprised and delighted to be published in so many ways. Then in 2013, my first three-book children’s series, Really Rare Rabbits, was published by Pix-N-Pens Publishing—my dream come true. And Dancing Like Bees released in 2016. In 2018, I have five new books releasing. Life is good, and God leads me daily in His work and His writing.
Do you have pets, and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
Without my pets there would be no children’s books––certainly not the books I have already written. I should share royalties with them––but they do get paid with love and treats. So, yes, they inspire my writing and never hinder it. We have a new fur baby, and potty training is taking time and patience. But our baby Shih Tzu, Zoey, is so cute that no matter what, she could never be a hindrance to my writing. She makes me smile––even when there’s an accident.
We’ve had many pets over the years and still have pets. Actually, I don’t think of them as pets but rather, family. They are a big part of our ministry also, because our students enjoy playing with them. A few years back, we had a Saint Bernard. He was the star of Rumi Rancho. Kids enrolled in classes just to play with George. In fact, when we run into former students who are now adults, they ask about George. When we tell them he went over the rainbow bridge, some get tears in their eyes.
You’ve told us a little about Rumi Rancho, but what specific ministries are you involved in and why?
Our mission, Rumi Rancho Ministries, is located outside the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, South America. In 1999, God led my husband and me to found Rumi Rancho. Why? Because we have a heart for children and the Quechua people. Rumi Rancho is our ministry base where we work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry for underprivileged children, teaching them practical skills while reaching them for Christ. My husband teaches computer and Bible, and I teach teen girls baking and life skills along with Bible. Recently, I started a class with mothers and their little daughters, 10 and under—the sweetest part of my week.
We also started two churches and a Christmas ministry in mountainous areas where there is no running water, electricity or gospel witness. We take doctors, dentists and our Bolivian church group to minister with puppets and share the gospel through music and the Word. Most hear the Christmas story for first time, and many accept Jesus as Savior. Seeing kids smile when they receive Christmas gifts for the first time blesses our hearts, but the best part is when they receive the best gift: Jesus. It’s a full life, and even fuller since I started writing 15 years ago. But it is a blessed and rewarding life. This year, we complete 37 years of ministry in Bolivia with no plans of retirement until Jesus calls us home––our earthly home in the U.S. or our eternal home in heaven. But the best would be meeting Him in the air.
I agree, Peggy. Thank you for sharing about your books and your ministry. You’re a blessing everywhere you go!
To learn more about Peggy Cunningham and her books, visit Peggy’s website, where you’ll also find her blog.
For His glory,