That First Sunday

The second book in the Happy Home series, “That First Sunday,” got off the press too close to Christmas day. It was supposed to have been launched at the Book Fair in September.

This is one of my books that went far, far beyond what biologists call the human gestation period of nine long months.

No matter. It’s out now and I am delighted that at least a hundred kids are reading and, I pray, learning from it. One hundred was, more or less, the number of copies that I gave away as Christmas presents to all the children in my circle.

The book lovers among them read the book immediately after saying “Thank you” and immediately, too, I saw how their faces lit up while flipping through the pages. And suddenly, the pain caused by the problems that snagged the book’s production vanished.

“Coming Home,” the first in the series (beautifully rendered and illustrated by Leo Kempis Ang), introduces the members of the Zambrano family, whose love for God and each other helps them overcome problems that could ruin relationships.

“What inspired you to write the series?” asked my editor, Joan.

In a word, family. My grandparents on my mother’s side, were two of the pioneering Christians in a little town. Growing up I saw, ringside view (we were next-door neighbors), and during family reunions, how they planted values in their children—not through words but through their lives. Those values were likewise passed on to us, their grandchildren.

What are those values?

God first. Sabbath day is sacred. Live a life of gratitude. Christ is the center of your life. Read your Bible. Sing hymns. If you’re married, your loyalty is with your husband first, not your parents. Support the weak. Give of yourself, of your time, of your resources to others in need. Adopt a stray. Serve in church. Your home church is your family, too. Live simply.

Now that I am writing those down, I can think of many, many more, but space constrains me. 

“What do you hope children will learn from the series?” Joan followed up her question.   

All those that inspired the writing of the series (above).

As you read through “That First Sunday,” note that every character in the Zambrano family, no matter how old, values relationship (not necessarily by blood) that honors the One Who, with endless patience and amazing grace, said, “This is my commandment: "Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12 (NLT)

All the characters, then, are based on real-life people whom the Lord allowed to touch my life. Taking creative license, I changed names, mixed and matched events, abbreviated timelines, but they all sprang from actual encounters and values learned in my childhood.

By fleshing out the characters—what they represent in children's lives—and relating them to actual experiences, parents and teachers can use "That First Sunday" as a teaching tool while having fun.   

Take a peek at “That First Sunday” and try to re-live a similar experience, feeling the warmth of family and a sense of belonging. 

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