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  • Writer's pictureValerie

Bonus BookWorthy Chat with Glenys Nellist

BookWorthy S2E5 Cover
Twas the Season of Lent Cover


Valerie- Today is a special bonus episode. I'm always looking for new ways to point my kids to Jesus. So today we're talking with Glenis Nellist, the author of the Twas the Season series. Her latest addition to this series is the Twas the Season of Lent. This is a 40-day devotional and storybook that explores the life, words, and works of Jesus and encourages families to draw close to God during the Lenten season. Since Lent starts here in a couple of weeks, on Valentine's Day actually, I thought this would be the perfect book to highlight as we start to prepare for the celebration of Easter. Welcome to Bookworthy Glenis.


Glenys- Thank you so much for having me, Valerie. I'm excited to be here.


Valerie -It is a pleasure, but to start us off, Glenys, could you tell us your favorite part of the season of Lent?


Glenys -My favorite part of the season of Lent is probably Holy Week, you know, that week immediately before Easter Sunday because I guess that's the week when we, for most of us, really start thinking about Easter and what it means and what Jesus did for us, you know. After all, you have the Monday, Thursday, and then Good Friday, and then Holy Saturday, which I

Easter Eggs

always think, I mean, I know that's your traditional let's go hunt for eggs, but in the biblical sense, I always, you know, I think to myself, I wonder what was happening on that Holy Day, you know, like, did Jesus know when he was in the tomb what was going to happen? You know what I mean? It's like a, for me that Holy Saturday, it's like a pause between Good Friday and Easter Sunday and it's kind of a mysterious thing so I think I just have to say Holy Week.


Valerie -Most definitely. Yeah, it's one of those that Saturday has never really talked about much. And you know, what was happening between Good Friday and Sunday morning. But it's one of those things that kind of relate to Jesus' second coming. I think we are kind of sitting in that same, you know, feeling of Holy Saturday is like, we are waiting for Jesus to come again. We are groaning. We are worried. We are excited. You know, just that conflict of emotions and it kind of just reminds me that we are waiting for another Easter that's coming that's so exciting.


Glenys -Right, right, I love that analogy. I've not thought about it that way before but you're right.


Valerie -Well, what did you do in your home to make Lent a special season?


Glenys -So Valerie, I have four grown children and four little grandchildren. And I have to say that growing up, even like when I was growing up or when my children were, when I was raising my children, Lent wasn't a thing for us in our tradition. I mean, I was raised in a Christian home by Christian parents and obviously, Holy Week was a big thing that I remember. But honestly, the only real thing I remember about Lent, which I guess I must have passed on to my children is, you know, making pancakes on what we call Fat Tuesday, you know, which marks the beginning of Lent when you use up all the fat in your home. That's where that tradition comes from. And so, what I remember about Lent is not religious at all.


It's flipping pancakes in my kitchen. And sometimes they would stick to the ceiling, you know, and so That's just a I don't know. I don't even really know how I Guess it's called Shrove Tuesday, and I must go back to my Bible and find out exactly You know where that all comes into lent, but that's what I mainly remember I remember marking the beginning of lent but then holy week and so all those days, those many days in between because Lent is 40 days, it wasn't really part of my tradition and so now that it is, you know, I'm quite excited to be able to give it the same sort of respect and like preparation and waiting time that we do for Advent.


Valerie- Yeah, it's one of those we do. There are a lot of church traditions around Advent and a lot of focus on that. And Lent kind of gets this back seat, even though Easter is kind of the reason we celebrate Christmas. Right. And so, so it's interesting that it's kind of gone out of popularity this you know, season before Easter, just with the secularization of the holiday and that kind of thing. What was your inspiration to do this 40-day devotional for Lent?


Glenys - Well, to be honest, this book, I think you mentioned in your introduction, my inspiration came from the three titles in the series. It began with Twas the Evening of Christmas. I'm just going to show you the covers here fast because they're so colorful and evocative, the illustrator for the series is Elena Selivanova. So, this book was published I think

Twas the Evening of Christmas Cover

in 2017, towards the evening of Christmas. And I just took the familiar, the classic Clement Seymour poem and I just thought it would be kind of fun to rewrite that using the same rhythm, the same meter, but write it about the birth of Jesus. And that's what kickstarted the series. And then we followed that with, T’was the Morning of Easter. Which is Mary Magdalene's story, all about the resurrection, again, written in the same vein. And then we brought out, T'was the season of Advent, which is 25 devotions to help us

Twas the Morning of Easter

countdown to Christmas. And so really, I guess it was this book that inspired T’was the season of Lent, because it just seemed, you know, the natural thing. If we're going to, you know, put focus on and celebrate the Advent season, and a great way to do that is by reading devotionals every day, then I really should think about doing one for Lent. So, to be honest, that was the inspiration because the ball was just rolling, and it seemed like the natural way to go with the T’was series.


Twas the Season of Advent Cover

Valerie - Well, in your research, what did you learn about Lent or about Jesus that stuck out to you?


Glenys -That's a great question. You know, one of the things I love about the Bible is that even though, you know, I've been reading that book for like 60 years or something, there is always something new that you learn about Jesus, even though you might have read the same passage many, many times. So I think for me when I went back to my Bible because this was quite an ambitious project for that Twas series. You know, the first two books were really just the rewriting of the poem. The third Advent book was more detailed because that was 25 stories, but this one was 40. And so I had to go. Well, first, I always pray before I write anything, but going back to the Bible and really reading, re-reading the Gospels and especially. Jesus' message and why he came and the enormous mystery of why he would choose to give his life for us. And so I think in doing that, there is always something new to learn about Jesus or there's a new angle to take to the story. So, I guess what I really learned that I really took away that I hope comes across when people read. Is that Jesus had such a heart for people? I mean and that might sound obvious, but he really came because he loves us, every single one of us, and no one is left out in God's great love you know and so I don't know if that was a new thing I learned but it's certainly just became more evident and real to me. And that's what I really want readers to take away. For example, reading the story about, you know, the paralyzed man whose friends brought him to Jesus and lured him through the roof, you know, they made that crazy hole in the roof. And in that story, I guess what I learned that was new is that man must have felt left out all his life, felt left out of parties or celebrating or going to places. He must have felt left out. And then when he encountered Jesus, he would never feel left out again. In the rewriting of those Bible stories, there are always new things to learn about Jesus and new angles to take.


Valerie - I love that. You know, I did a 40-day devotional PDF for those that are in my

Made to Create Devotional

newsletter. And I loved walking through all those miracles and just to be like, okay, God did see everybody. You know, Jesus talked to the rich, Nicodemus, he talked to the poor, just as the paralyzed man you mentioned. And Even some miracles don't get very much light of the day but like the widow of Naan and just people that were grieving, people that were outside of the chosen people but Jesus still said I am here for you too and it's just one of those like just things that you're like we all want to be loved and accepted and welcomed no matter who we are or where we are and Jesus just shows that he does that. Over and over again in his words. And I love that your T’was the season of Lent is going to do that. Just remind kids that they are seen, they are heard, they are wanted in the presence of God because I think that's kind of what God hole in our hearts that we have. Um, with, uh, yeah, the season of Lent being this 40 days instead of 25 days. I’m proud of you for jumping from 25 days to 40 days. That's a lot. But, um, we don't spend a lot of time other than, you know, fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and Holy Week, um, preparing for Easter in a spiritual sense. What's the focus devotional for a 40-day preparation towards the exciting part of Holy Week?


Glenys- Yeah well it's a challenge isn't it Valerie because 40 days is a long time especially if you're a child you know the older we get the faster time passes but 40 days it's longer than a month it's a long haul so my hope well first of all the stories are fairly short what I did in the book was I always think it's helpful if you can break it down, you know. In my planning, I had a chart, and I would scribble all over it, but so I just hope that it's doable for families. And one of the things in one of the stories, well, I wanted to tell people, don't worry if you don't get to read every day. Don't feel like you're a failure because I think that's all part of Jesus' message. You know, it's OK. If you forget one day or if you get bored with it, one day. Just put it down and then pick it up again when you're ready. So, I don't want to say there's no expectation for people you have to stick at it for these 40 days but what I hope is that the stories are fairly short and the illustrations by Elena Selivanova are really lovely They're beautiful. So, I hope that they will capture the child's attention. But to kind of help, the long haul of Lent. What I did was I broke it down into four sections. And so there are 10 stories in each section. And the first one, that one that I just showed you, all those stories, well, it begins with the poem, a section of the poem in the familiar rhyme. It begins like this,

"T’was the season of Lent when for 40 whole days God's people were trying to think of new ways to be more like Jesus, to love, care, and give in hopes that they choose the right way to live. "

So that's how it begins and then the first 10 stories are just all about the mission of what was Jesus' mission? Why did he come? And then the next section of 10 stories. So, you know, hopefully, it's like doable because it's in smaller chunks. So, after those 10 stories, then I moved to the message. You know, so we know kind of what his mission was. What was his message? So, then the stories, you know, like... the Sermon on the Mount and being a light in the world and what's important in the world. And then after that section, it's ten stories about the ministry of Jesus and that's when we come across all the wonderful people that you just

Twas the Season of Lent Cover

talked about. You know, Jyrus, synagogue ruler, he's in the book. Obviously, like his little daughter whom Jesus healed but the woman, the woman who crawled and touched Jesus's cloak you know yeah so all those characters that you talked about whether the rich or poor men or women children or grown you know they're all in that part the ministry of Jesus because his ministry was to all and I wanted to include women too as far as I could. And then the last part, Valerie, which takes us obviously through Holy Week, the last 10 stories is about the mystery of Jesus, you know, like, because it is a mystery that Jesus would choose to give his own life, you know, I mean, he had a choice. You know, in that garden, he wrestled with that choice, you know, and he said, you know, in John's gospel, I lay down my life for the sheep, no one takes it from me, I lay it down. And so... That was a long answer, wasn't it, to your question? But hopefully, that's what families and readers... Because I don't think it's just for kids either. I feel like it's a nice book to put on your coffee table. I mean, don't leave it on your coffee table, but just think, you know, what this season is all about and really what it leads up to. So, I hope that doing it that way in chunks, it'll be doable for people.


Valerie -Definitely. And it's one of those things to encourage people, especially with young kids, I have two that have ADHD. And so, sitting down for a long period to do a study can be challenging, but it's one of those, I love that, you know, taking a look at what's, what's doable for your family and what, whether it's just taking that T’was the Morning of Easter and just reading that poem. Because even with the, you know, T’was the Night before Christmas, we read that around Christmas and it's easy to read in short, but it's so lovable. And the illustrations that have been, that your illustrator has done are just so engaging and lovely that, you know, whether it's taking it small by just doing the poem or going a little deeper, which this was the season of Lynn does. And I love that you've broken it up into really easy sections. And I think it is important to point out that even when we're doing any type of study with our kids, it doesn't have to be every day at a certain time, but just organic, bringing Jesus into the living room at the coffee table, just something that's easy to pick up and easy to be a part of the culture of our home. And I love that about T'was the Season books.


Glenys -Oh well thank you so much!


Valerie - I love that you've put together such a great book to sit down as a family and go through these devotions. What other resources do you have to go along with this book?


Glenys -I'm so glad you asked that Valerie. So, in the works right now there is, because I was a teacher in my previous life, I love to create free resources for families or children's ministry people and so is a free downloadable activity pack to accompany the book and what it consists of there is a signed bookplate that you can print out and stick in the book. But there are also, there are four lovely coloring sheets and what we did was we took those spreads that I showed you before because each of the four sections has one of these full-color spreads in it that introduces the poem, here's the one for the ministry of Jesus. So we took those four


spreads and made them into coloring sheets. But what I'm excited about, and I hope will help with this countdown to Easter, is that my design team at Zonder-Kids, are the publishers. They are working on producing it, it's like a printable 40-day countdown calendar path. It's a bit like a, so it's not like just a regular monthly thing where you check the boxes off. It's a little path that kids can trace and it goes up to. It shows you all the Sundays in Lent because of course Sundays are not included in the 40 days of Lent. And so that's an important little thing I want your listeners to know if you do use this book for your Lent and devotionals, pause on the Sunday. But if you start on Ash Wednesday and you read it every day excluding Sundays, you reach Easter Sunday. And so that little path, it's just designed, kids can color in each little square at a time, or maybe they can put stickers on. And Valerie, another little idea is that maybe if families do come up with any sort of extra like missional ideas because I think Lent is a great time, not just to sort of pray more or read your devotional, but what can we do to join Jesus in this mission to the lost, the least and the lonely. You know, so I try to encourage that throughout the book. And so if families do come up with, OK, let's go, let's go visit this relative, or let's make cookies for this neighbor, or let's go and help out at the soup kitchen, whatever it might be. You could write that on your calendar. So, that's a nice resource for families I hope I'm going to print one out and it'll help them countdown to learn to maybe put some of those Mission or service projects they can write them in the calendar. So, and that will be available soon. It will be on my website under free resources.


Valerie - That's wonderful. I love how you've just taken just that knowledge you have of teaching children back in your previous life, as you said, and provided ways for kids to engage with the book in lots of different ways, whether they can write or color themselves or even just putting a sticker on a sheet to get excited about Easter coming. And I love the idea of finding service opportunities in random acts of kindness to do in the Lenten season, because we talk about it a lot during Advent, but to include the same sort of mission and love that Jesus displayed in his whole ministry during that season of Lent, to invite people into what God was doing in, oh God, just Jesus' ministry and what he wants to accomplish even now. When in our hearts because Jesus still wants to be a part of and still wants to be with the lonely and the lost and that kind of thing. So, I love that you have provided those things. Now so fun. Now Glenys, what is one of your favorite Easter books?


Glenys- Oh, that's a great question. Well, you know, before I became an author, I was serving in the children’s ministry. After I was a teacher, I became a children's ministry director. And one of my jobs was to choose, you know, to look at Bibles for the children. And I think it was like 2007. The Bible came out called the Jesus Storybook Bible. I love Sally Lloyd-Jones anyway because

Jesus Storybook Bible Cover

she's a Brit like me she's a writer like me she lives in America like me you know so we do have things in common, but I've always loved her writing she writes a lot of secular books she's so funny. But the way she wrote those stories, so I remember going to the bookstore and oh this is a new Bible, I'm going to see what this is all about. I couldn't put it down, Valerie. Because the way she writes is so beautiful and she was my inspiration for writing my first book which was a book of Bible stories called Love Letters from God. So, she wrote a book, and it's not specifically religious but it is if you if you're a Christian and it's called Bunny's First Spring. I don't know if you've ever heard of it but it's just a sweet story about this bunny who um is I guess depressed because it's wintertime and he wonders if Spring will ever come. Will there ever be anything new? And so, it is kind of about new life and resurrection and hope and so for me, that is one of my favorite Easter books although you might not find it if you googled Easter books but Sally Lloyd-Jones, Bunny's First Spring, it's a sweet story.

Bunny's First Spring

Valerie -That does sound sweet. I love how spring itself lends to the idea of new life and resurrection coming out of winter. I know we're getting cold here. I'm in Texas, so it doesn't, not quite as cold. Cause I think what you're up in Minnesota.


Glenys -In Michigan and yes it's very snowy outside my window.


Valerie -We don't like snow, we get ice. So it is that coming out of that season of cold things seem lifeless and without hope. And it's fun to find books that speak into that, even in the secular market that you can still take and be like, you know, this is really about Jesus. I love those types of books. What has been the most impactful book in your life, other than the Bible?


Glenys- Well the Bible would be my number one. Oh my gosh, the most impactful book. Well, when I lived in England and my children were little, their favorite book of all time is still on my bookshelf and I bought it like 50 years ago. But it's still being published, Valerie. I don't know if you've heard of it. But again, it was the inspiration for that first book along with Sally Lloyd John's Bible. My love letters from God book was, I wrote it because of this book. It was printed in, published in 1984 and it was called The Jolly Postman. Have you ever heard of it?


Valerie -No, I don't think I have.

The Jolly Postman Cover

 Glenys -Well, you have to just Google it because it's still selling and at Christmas, you can get the Jolly Christmas Postman. It was a book of, and because I was a teacher, I was always looking for fun books to read to my class, but it was all about this little, so not at all religious, but just so brilliant for anybody who loves children's literature or who aspires to write for children. He wrote it in rhyme and it's about this postman in England who rides his bike delivering letters, but he's delivering letters to nursery rhyme characters. And yeah, and it's so clever Valerie, it's so creative and innovative because not only was that premise brilliant, but the actual book. So, the pages are real envelopes with an address on them and a stamp, and you can put your hand inside and take the letter out. And so, the first one is addressed to the three bears, a cottage in the woods, you know, and it's an apology note from Goldilocks to the three bears. I know. Can you see how clever and innovative I just remember my kids, you know, sitting on my lap and they put their hand, they always wanted to be the one to take the letter out and unfold it and that's why I wrote my first book, Love Letters from God, which has love letters from God in it, you know.



Glenys -Right, so that was a pivotal book in my life. I didn't know it then. I just knew this is a great book and it's creative and fun to read and I never knew that all these years later. Like so it was, I don't know, over like 25 years later when I just felt like God whispered to me a book of Bible stories and put letters from me, you know, so you just never know do you what these little things that happen in your life or conversations that might later on God uses in a greater way.


Valerie - How fun, I'm going to have to look that book up and add it to my shelf for sure. The book sounds lovely.


Glenys -Oh my gosh, it's yeah, I mean 1984 and still it's sold, it's sold like seven million copies and I still see it in Barnes and Noble at Christmas. The Jolly Postman by Janet and Alan Alberg, they're the authors, yeah.

Valerie- I will have to look that one up. Glynnis, what can we expect next from you?


Glenys - Thanks for asking that. So I'm super excited because in April, on April the second, I'll be releasing my first book with a publisher called Paraclete Press and it is called Song of the Seasons. It's a rhyming book because you know I love to write in rhyme and it's just inspired by Psalm 98 where we have this lovely idea that all the earth sings God a brand new song. And I just, I'm a lover of nature and walking and trees, especially trees. I do love trees. And I don't know to me, have you ever watched like when all the leaves are like rustling in the wind and you can hear them and my brother taught me that this, the word for that is Psithurism. Is that cool?

Trees in the light

Valerie - That's a unique word.


Glenys - I love that word, psithurism. It begins with a P-S. But so that psithurism is when the trees when the leaves all shake. And so to me, that's always like the trees singing for God, you know? And so it's about two kids and they're riding through the seasons. So, it goes through spring and summer and fall and winter. And just the idea that all creation is singing God a brand-new song. So. I'm super excited, and I think we'll get to chat about that title too.


Valerie -I think we will. I think we just might have to. I look forward to hearing more about that because I am a nature lover myself too so I can't wait to see both illustrations and your lovely rhymes and how you weave those, the song of God into it all. Now where can people find out more about you, Glenys?


Glenys - So they can just visit my website. It's just I'm going to spell it for you, Valerie, for your listeners, because I know it's an unusual name. I'm the only, I'm the only Glennis Nellist in the world if you can believe that. You know, when I'm on Facebook, there's only one me. So, it's a good name for an author. It's G-L-E-N-Y-S, Glenys, and then Nellist is N-E-L-L-I-S-T. Yeah, that's me, and my name rhymes. That must be like why I, that must be why I like to write rhymes.


Valerie - It's all set up; you just didn't know it. So fun. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Glenys and we can't wait to talk to you more about your book that's coming out in April.


Glenys -Oh, thank you so much for having me, Valerie. It was a joy.


Valerie -It is a pleasure and thank you for joining Glenis and me on this episode of the Bookworthy Podcast. Check the show notes for any books or links that we discussed and let us know in the comments what's your favorite part of Lent. How do you celebrate it or what's your favorite tradition?


Happy Reading!

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Five Fun Facts about Glenys Nellist

Glenys Nellist
  1. When she was growing up she wanted to be a farmer's wife.

  2. She has seven siblings, five in England, one in Switzerland and another who is an author in Hong Kong.

  3. When she was a teenager, she had a pet gerbil that she kept hidden in a sewing basket in her wardrobe.

  4. Her husband made a wooden houseboat that they lived on for three weeks on the Erie Canal.

  5. She is the only Glenys Nellist in the world!


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