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Patrick – saint or sinner?

I had a wonderful childhood growing up at the foot of Slemish, the mountain to which, according to legend, Saint Patrick was brought after he was captured and became a slave. We loved climbing the small rock and heather-covered mountain as children, and we couldn’t slide back down the steep, muddy slopes until we’d each had a turn sitting in what we called Saint Patrick’s chair – a missing section from a large, flat-topped stone.

It wasn’t only local people who visited the mountain, however. Each 17th March, Saint Patrick’s Day, hordes of people descended on our area in cars, buses, and even walking the ten or so miles from the nearest town. From our garden, we were able to see the climbers as small specks silhouetted against the spring sky.READ MORE

‘Behind the scenes’ interview – Mary Weatherup, illustrator of the ‘Harry’ books

When did you begin to draw and when did you decide that you’d like to illustrate children’s books?

I’ve enjoyed drawing ever since I can remember. My sister and I were always doodling at home and we sometimes made ‘books’ and ‘magazines’!  We were always running out of paper and drew on anything we could find.  It wasn’t until I got to secondary school that I realised I could draw realistically from life. My favourite thing in Art class was when the teacher would set down a few random objects and tell us to draw them.  I didn’t choose to study Art at A level because I felt the emphasis was more on design than drawing, but the thought was always in the back of my mind that I’d like to draw pictures for books.  When I look at a book I always study the illustrations!READ MORE

A box of books, powerful memories, and the gift of reading

As I was rummaging through and half-heartedly attempting to sort out some boxes in our storage room one day, I pulled back the lid on one particular box and caught a glimpse of some special childhood friends. Laughing, I lifted out ‘The Best Mistake Ever’ by Richard Scarry and sank onto the floor to read. Huckle Cat, sent by his mother to the shop for butter, cream, apples, potatoes and oranges, had forgotten to take the shopping list. His friend Lowly Worm happened to be at the shop and so Huckle, on Lowly’s advice, arrived home with peanut butter, ice cream, apple pie, potato crisps and orange juice instead. Frustrated Mother Cat could see no use for party food, but quickly changed her mind with the arrival of unexpected guests.

As I read the words and perused the pictures, deep, long-buried and almost-forgotten memories bubbled up. Not one memory in particular, but a blending of all those times I stared at the illustrations and touched those thick, textured pages with my little hands.READ MORE

Why we shouldn’t focus on the brushstrokes

When I’m on holiday, I love stumbling across art galleries, and can never resist taking a peek inside to admire the paintings. While I know very little about the world of art, I find the variety of style and technique intriguing. My personal favourites are paintings which, up close, look like a mass of small, thickly-applied brushstrokes, seemingly with no pattern or focus, yet when you stand back and observe the painting from a distance, all the brushstrokes have combined to form a rich, textured and outstandingly beautiful picture.

In life, I often forget to stand back. Instead, I focus on the tiny, individual brushstrokes. The little daubs of paint that seem to make no sense. The humdrum of life. Everyday activities. Even things that we, as believers, started out with great gusto to do for God. It’s so easy to become focussed on today. This earthly life.READ MORE

Princess Precious and the Great King of Everything, by E M Wilkie

In this post, I chat to fellow children’s author, Eunice Wilkie, about her new release, Princess Precious and the Great King of Everything. This is a beautiful book with great biblical lessons. Little ‘princesses’ are going to love it!

Princess Precious serves the Great King of Everything who lives in Forever Castle, high in the sky. But sadly, not many of the people around her believe in him; they don’t seem to see all the good things the Great King has given her and how splendid he has made her. Unless the people trust in the King, they won’t receive the riches he has for them. The Princess must tell them about him. How can she help them to find him?


Where did you get your inspiration for this story and was there anything in particular which prompted you to write it?

In September 2015 I spent time with my nieces in the USA – three little girls aged 4-6. I saw firsthand how much they loved all the clothes and accessories and books which made them feel like a princess. I had a vague idea it would be good to write a princess story for them – one which wasn’t just another ‘happily-ever-after’ adventure, but also taught something about the message of the Bible. So, while the girls played, I began to scribble ideas – not knowing whether it would amount to much. But stories take on a life of their own – and, a bit further down the road, the book is completed at last.READ MORE

New Year’s Resolutions – How We Can Make Them Work

What better time for a new start? Christmas, with all its overindulgences, is over, and a whole new year stretches out before us, clean and unspoiled, full of potential and ripe with promise. This is going to be the year in which we lose some weight, be more organised, manage our money better, or spend more time with family.

Then reality hits. The reality of saying ‘no’ to those tempting chocolates, getting out of bed to exercise on cold, wet mornings, discovering we have the same demands on our time that we always had.READ MORE

Mary and the birth of the Lord Jesus – when God’s plan seems perplexing


I wonder what Mary thought. Not too many months before, the angel Gabriel had visited her to tell her that she, a virgin, was going to have a baby. And not just any baby – this child would be the long-awaited Messiah, the One who would save His people from their sins. She was truly blessed. An unknown girl from an insignificant village was actually going to be the one to carry the most precious child ever to be born.

So can you imagine what was going through her mind as she and Joseph made the long trip to Bethlehem in the final stages of her pregnancy? I’m pretty sure that Mary knew Micah’s prophecy concerning the place where the Messiah would be born – a scan through her song in Luke 2 reveals that she was a girl who was certainly familiar with the Scriptures. But couldn’t they have been asked to make the trip a few months beforehand? Why now, when she was ready to deliver?READ MORE

It’s what’s inside that matters! A lesson from ugly bananas, part 2.

In the last post, I talked about the unattractive, yet very tasty bananas and we learned that, when we trust Christ for salvation, God changes our naturally deceitful and wicked hearts and makes them new. When He looks at us, He sees us as He sees His Son, perfect in His sight.

Our hearts, however, are just as important after we are saved. We’re not yet home in heaven, and the flesh – the part that we battle with day by day – is still with us. The devil also tries to attack us, and we must be on the alert. In Ephesians 6:14, we are instructed to put on the breastplate of righteousness, that piece of armour to protect the heart. Guarding our hearts takes work, but is exceedingly important. When we are saved, we want to live for God, to do the things that please Him.READ MORE

It’s what’s inside that matters! A lesson from ugly bananas, Part 1.

The bananas really weren’t very pretty. As well as being short and stumpy, they had black marks all over their lumpy skins. I searched in vain for the perfect banana, but in the end I had to settle for one just like the rest. Imperfect. Flawed.

I wasn’t expecting great things from my ugly snack.

As I peeled back the skin, I was surprised. On the soft, pale inside, there wasn’t a blemish. I took a bite. Full of flavour and the perfect texture, this was one of the best bananas I’d ever tasted!READ MORE

She Said Yes – the moving and inspiring story of Cassie Bernall


Which books have had the greatest impact on your life? This intriguing question was recently asked of listeners on a local radio programme. As I listened to the various answers, I began to consider – which books have been influential in my life?

Heading the list, and the most obvious choice, is the Bible. I don’t believe that, for a believer in the Lord Jesus, any book will ever impact our lives like the Bible, because it is through His word that God speaks to us. Apart from the Bible, though, there are a number of books I’ve read at different stages of my life which have deeply affected me. As I think back to my teenage years, one book stands out.READ MORE