After getting married, I started writing. While at home watching my baby girl, Emily, it felt natural to write about another baby, Jesus. I wrote a poem, “The Five Senses of Christmas.” The St. Louis-based magazine, Alive! for Young Teens, published it in 1985 and paid me $5. I couldn’t have been happier. Someone else (besides my parents) thought my work was worth publishing.
Eight years later another dream came true. My first picture book—you guessed it! A Christmas-themed book—An A*B*C Christmas, was published by Standard Publishing. My editor at Standard, Diane Stortz, suggested a topic for my next book, “God’s Big Umbrella.” I loved that image! Comparing an umbrella keeping off the rain was the perfect symbol to explain to a child (and to myself) how God’s protection worked. I tried, but it didn’t come together. Off and on over the years, I tried to develop the concept of God’s big umbrella covering us from the rainstorms of life, but it didn’t work. Not until 2016.
By then, my “baby” Emily had a family of her own, twin boys and a girl on the way. I process things by writing them down. I felt so much love for my grandchildren. Living hours away from them (with no plans to move closer) was cause for concern. I longed to feel calmer, and again, tried working on the idea Diane had suggested, God’s umbrella of protection. It gave me lots of comfort. But, as it turned out, it wasn’t the image of an umbrella that inspired me. As I listened to the rain beating on the roof as I sat warm and cozy inside the house, I knew how to begin my book.
Like a roof protects a house,
Or a crawl space for a mouse,
I am safe and worry-free.
God’s protection covers me.
The story built from there following a little boy as he discovers animal homes on a farm and in nature, comparing them to God’s protection. Of course, I had to include the umbrella! It’s starts raining and the boy’s mother comes out to protect him from the rain. I have to smile describing that line. My husband grew up on a farm, did chores in the rain, and told me, “My mother never brought out an umbrella!”
In 2017, I received a contract from Sparkhouse Family (now Beaming Books). My insightful editor, Naomi Krueger, suggested the narrative center around the boy making his way home. I loved her idea. So the roof was moved to the end. We start with “Like a barn protects a cow...” And because my husband was a hog farmer, I rhymed the first line with, “…Or a Quonset for a sow.”
I was so honored that Mandy Arioto, President and CEO, MOPS International endorsed my book: “A charming book filled with truth that every kid needs to hear. This is my top children’s book pick of the year.”
(Note: MOPS stands for "Mother's of Preschoolers." See www.mops.org.)
The book was released in 2019, but is especially timely now. Looking to God for strength, knowing that He protects us, heart and soul and spirit, still gives me comfort, especially at this difficult time due to COVID-19. My hope is that readers take away the feeling of safety, peace, and joy that is offered by God’s protective care.
For more about the book, see: https://www.beamingbooks.com/store/product/9781506448565/God-Protection-Covers-Me
Download a free activity packet here: http://www.amyhouts.com/activity-packet--gods-protection-covers-me.html
Special offer: Personalized autographed book plate. Contact me at amysase[at]gmail.com.
Amy Houts is an author of over 100 children’s picture books, cookbooks, and board games that feature early learning concepts, family themes of love and friendship, and holiday celebrations. Amy’s numerous short stories, articles, and poems have appeared in Ladybug Magazine, Highlights Hello, and Pockets Magazine. Her books include: The Giant Book of Bible Fingerplays for Preschoolers (Group Publishing); Think Like a Scientist (Pearson Learning Group); and Dora the Explorer Safety (Learning Horizons).
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyHouts/
Twitter author handle: @AmyHouts
Amazon author central page: https://www.amazon.com/AmyHouts/e/B001KCOOL8/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/102029.Amy_Houts
Additional author/book website(s): www.houtsandhome.com