Greetings from Marti Pieper in Seneca, South Carolina, where I’m rediscovering the wonder and beauty of fall after spending the past twelve-plus years in Florida! I’m excited today to introduce a new CAN member who also happens to be a longtime friend. Many years ago now, Julie Lavender and I were both young homeschooling moms who shared not only a church home (my husband was her family’s pastor for several years) but many family adventures and lots of laughter (please don’t ask her about the time we nearly lost each other in downtown Los Angeles). Welcome to the CAN blog, Julie. I’m so excited for you to share your words and your wisdom with our readers!
Your most recent book releases this month. Can you tell us about it, please?
365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories (Revell, 2020) offers creative suggestions for activities, gestures, and expressions of love to show a child how much they are treasured. Parents are encouraged to make memories with their children while giving them a glimpse of the heavenly Father’s love.
What inspired you to write it?
My own four precious children! My husband and I are the proud parents of two boys and two girls, all young adults now, and I dreamed of being “just a mommy” from the time I was a little girl. It’s my favorite job and career I’ve ever had … And I loved my other jobs in life a lot!
I had the blessing of homeschooling my four children, and I loved every moment I spent with them. The big moments, the little moments, and everything in between. Granted, not all days were perfect and wonderful, but I wouldn’t trade any of them. My love for my kids and my passion for being a mommy inspired me to write a book for other moms, dads, and anyone who loves kids, incorporating a number of activities and moments of our time together when the kids were little.
I remember the kind of mom you were and are and have fond memories of those four precious children too! So why did you write this book in particular?
Let’s face it—parenting can be the toughest job on the planet, but it is certainly the most rewarding one! And time spent with our little ones is fleeting. I want to encourage parents and others to make the most of every opportunity to make memories with their kids. And the moments don’t have to be monumental to be momentous! You know what my kids remember most about a couple of our vacations? Jumping from one bed to the other in the hotel room! And not only did the hubby and I encourage and take part in the fun, but we also piled pillows on the floor and stood between the beds to make sure no one got hurt. Little moments add up to big memories! I hope my book encourages parents to make those memories, to be intentional to create them, and to be part of them every day.
I’m sure it will. What is the primary focus of your book?
365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories offers creative suggestions for activities, gestures, and expressions of love to show a child how much they are treasured. With simple ideas and heartwarming tokens of affection, 365 Ways encourages parents and other child caregivers to spend quality time with a child every day to create a treasury of warm memories to savor throughout childhood and beyond.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Well, I think the subtitle of my book says it all: I hope readers will turn little moments with their kids into special, precious memories just by being intentional to give their kids time each day. And it just doesn’t have to be huge amounts of time to be a precious memory, though large quantities of moments spent with kids are wonderful, too! And it’s my hope that with each expression of love, a child gets a glimpse of the unfathomable love of our heavenly Father. I hope readers will help kids recognize God’s love through their own devotion, attentiveness, and verbal affirmations. I encourage readers to find time each day to transform a little moment into a precious memory.
I know the answer to this question and many of the others, but since this is your interview, I’ll go ahead and ask anyway: Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I have a master’s degree in early childhood education, and I taught for six years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. I’d planned to go back to teaching eventually, because I loved my classroom days. But I began my writing career while at home with babies, and then I eventually added the “homeschooling mom” hat to my wardrobe. That hat stayed on for more than twenty-five years. My education experiences combined with my mommy experiences influences most of my nonfiction writing for parents, teachers, and families.
And we’re so glad it does. When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
While I was teaching elementary public school, I felt God’s nudge to write a general market children’s book, because I just loved kids’ literature. After lots of rejections, I began studying the craft of writing. Well, after almost thirty years of writing, I’ve not written a children’s book yet, but that was God’s way of letting me catch the writing bug, and I’ve been writing mostly faith-based projects all this time.
Why do you love writing?
Because I’m a journalist as well as an author, I’ve had the pleasure of telling other people’s stories in my local newspaper, in Guideposts publications, and in a few other publications, too. I’ve written over a thousand of those kinds of articles over the last decade. I absolutely love sharing others’ stories. I think humans are just wonderful and so very interesting! My children joke all the time about random strangers who start telling me their life stories—unprovoked by me. I tell them I have this stamp across my forehead that says, “I’m a reporter. Talk to me and I’ll listen to every word.” And I really do find every word fascinating. I think this world would be a better place if we learned to truly listen to others, as if their story at that moment were the only story that mattered.
What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
Well, my greatest passions are being a wife, mommy, grandmommy, and writer. I love to bake and cook, though I don’t do as much of that with an almost-empty nest. And I love to travel! As a farmer’s daughter, I didn’t grow up with the means to travel often as a youngster, but when my husband joined the Navy as a medical entomologist and preventive medicine officer, I was blessed to travel to some really cool places. During our twenty years in the military, we lived in five states and almost a dozen addresses. We trekked through a rain forest in Puerto Rico; swam in the waters lapping Barbados; straddled the equator in Quito, Ecuador; marveled at Golgotha in Israel; watched cliff divers in Acapulco, Mexico; sunbathed in Bermuda; toured in Toronto, sipped tea on Vancouver Island, and bounced around in many places within the United States. God’s world is beautiful, and I love traveling to new places!
And I know at least one fellow writer, mommy, and now grandmommy who is grateful your travels included a stint in Oceanside, California! Please tell us about your next project.
My agent, Cyle Young, has several children’s book projects that he’s shopping around for me, and most of them have to do with outdoors and nature.
I’ll be praying that those find a good publishing home. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Julie. Blessings on you, your family, and all of your writing work!
For His glory,