God’s Always Loving You has a timeless, encouraging theme. What inspired you to write this story?
As a music teacher for early-elementary kids, I see a range of troubles that touch young lives and the behaviors that stem from heavy emotions. My students were on my mind when I started writing this book. During the process, a dear friend began a three-year (winning!) battle with leukemia. Despite the many WHY, WHAT, and HOW questions that arose, she and her family focused most on WHO—who would carry them, no matter what? Their steady answer was God.
Knowing God is always near is a beautifully comforting message that children will take with them through their entire lives. How did you make this powerful promise easy for children to learn and understand?
Well, thank you–I hope I’ve made the message of God’s always-there, always-enough love accessible to kids. I used universal emotions, poetic language and the pattern of a question followed by a repeated answer to help this promise lay down some roots. My hope is that mid-way through the book, little readers will be able to anticipate and call out the phrase, “God, that’s who!” themselves.
The book isn’t just for kids! The message of your story is equally as meaningful for adults. Have there been times in your life when the promise of God’s presence has sustained you?
All three of my kids have asthma and spent time in ambulances and the ER in their younger years. My youngest had three hospital stays (including his first Christmas!) before he turned one. These were scary times for my husband and me. My own breast cancer journey as a mother with young kids was also trying, in practical terms but especially in the mental/emotional strain of not knowing the outcome. Trusting that God’s love was with us and in charge, no matter what happened, was our anchor in these moments–“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:4).
Airin O’Callaghan’s illustrations beautifully depict both emotion and movement. What is your favorite scene or element in the illustrations of your book?
Yes, Airin truly took this book to the next level! The looking-under-the-bed page is so relatable, with braids hanging upside-down; the beach scene is sunny and full of sensory detail. But I immediately fell in love with the cover and related spread toward the end—the little girl herself, the evidence of God’s presence through the swirl of leaves and the lean of the grass, the sense of warmth and peace. Love it.
If there is one thing you hope young readers take away from your book, what would it be?
God is always with you; especially in the hard times, His love will carry you.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
To learn more about me and my books, visit www.jannamatthies.blogspot.com and on Facebook (Author Janna Matthies), Twitter and Instagram. I would love to hear from you!