July 14, 2008

Be Encouraged

The other day I got an email from my friend Maralee. (Maralee is a ventriloquist who has a TV show called Maralee Dawn and Friends.) She told me about an email exchange she had with a man named Bear. He has an idea for an animation series and told her how he wrote to artist and illustrator artist Kevin Scott Collier about his idea. Kevin Scott Collier wrote back and included a couple of sketches of what Bear’s characters could look like.

(The name Kevin Scott Collier rang a bell with me So I checked and found this was the same KSC who interviewed me for Kid Magazine Writers in 2005. I read on with interest…)

Bear emailed Collier back: “Just looking at these pics again. They are awesome. So how does someone become so generous with their talents?”

Kevin Scott Collier replied (quoted with his permission):

Dear Bear,

Let me tell you something. In November 2003 I wrote a short story for a niece about a boy who accidentally gets an email from an Angel in heaven. (Heaven had gone high tech.) When I was writing the story I felt God's hand on my shoulder. He spoke into my heart that this story would be a book for all kids to read. I prayed to God asking if this were true, where would I find a publisher, whom should I contact... how was this all going to happen. God touched upon me that if I trusted in Him, he would bring me everything and everyone I needed.

As I was mailing the story to my niece, I overhead some men in the next line talking about books to the clerk. I wandered over and asked who they were. It turned out to be a youth fiction publisher from another state, who just happened to be in the area
on business. We chatted, and two days later after receiving a copy of my story, drove back up from Indiana to Michigan, took me to lunch, and signed me to a book contract. "Barthpenn@heaven.org" was published.

Now I was a published author, but I was always an artist. I stumbled across the internet and met a lady who had written a poem. I asked if she could email it to me, as she wanted advice. For fun, I illustrated the entire poem over two nights, and created a pdf "book" for fun to email her back. Turned out she was a minister's wife from Ohio... and she showed it to a friend of hers that was a book publisher... it was contracted, and Topsy Turvy Land went to print.

In the summer of 2005 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Later, on that very day, a publisher I had never heard of contacted me and asked if I would illustrate a book cover for a survivors book on Breast Cancer. I did it for free, and I went on to illustrate a dozen other books for them, too... and mom recovered.

In late 2005, I had an idea for a book based on Noah's Ark I wanted to write. I wanted a co-author,however, someone who could add to my idea for a book. I found a lady named Kristen Halter in a writers group, and we began writing "Natalie's Ark." I discovered this Godly woman was a single mother, and her son never knew a father... didn't have one per se, he had vanished. So, Jarod prayed every night to Jesus for a dad. I fell in love with this woman (who live 350 miles from my home in Ohio) and married her, and adopted her son. Now I am a dad... you can see us all on our homepage... http://collierauthors.blogspot.com

I recently stumbled upon the Old Schoolhouse Magazine's website and saw they had a mascot (frog) for their reading program, and it was clip art... so I redrew the character and sent it to them for free just to help. They liked my stuff so much, they want to hire me as an illustrator for their magazine.

Know what life is all about, Bear? Planting seeds and having faith that God will lead you to the right people.

I'm here.

- Kevin

I thought Kevin’s letter was a great illustration of how God is at work in our lives even when we aren’t aware.

So be encouraged. God has barely begun to do the ministry through your life. Stay the course. There is something big ahead for you. It is God who sets up the big appointments and they are supernatural. Keep planting those seeds and following His lead.”


  1. What a great story of a generous heart. Thank you so much for sharing this, Violet.

    We never know how God will use our talents - I know that I need to learn to trust that God will use my writing as he sees fit.


  2. This is so timely today for me. We just put our granddaughter on a plane for South Korea, after a difficult and emotional two year stay with us, where she arrived depressed and suicidal and is now gone, head up and ready to teach English in a foreign land. I've a to-do list to catch up, but a lot of wide open places now open. On the other hand I'm totally exhausted though, and needed to read this, particularly "Stay the course..."

    Thank you for your diligence.

  3. As an employee of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and the project manager of our Summer Reading Splash program, I'd just like to say that it has been an honor and a privilege to work with Kevin Scott Collier. He has truly been a Godsend to us. And what started out as a few illustrations of our frog, has spiraled into many more opportunities for both Kevin and for us (as a magazine and online presence).
    I've been constantly amazed at the people that God has placed in my life.

  4. Thanks, Violet. It always seems that during those moments when I worry about how all the details are going to come together, someone (like you) comes along to remind me that God has it all under control.

    Bless you.

  5. Violet - thanks so much for posting this. It's so refreshing to hear of people using their gifts and talents to bless others without ulterior motive, then hearing how God blesses them in turn. This reminds me of Jane Kirkpatrick's story of going to a fund-raising banquet and sitting beside the one person in the country who could give her exactly the information she needed to continue writing her book. God is so good to us! :)Marcia

  6. Thanks Violet for inspiring and encouraging. What feeble characters we are sometimes but doesn't God just send us the words we need on any given day, reminding us that He is working in our lives? Thanks for being a vessel and for sharing Kevin Collier's encouraging words, too. Blessings, Glynis

  7. Thanks for the comments, everyone. It's great to be a cheerleader for Someone who surprises and blesses us in such wonderful ways, right?


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