Sometimes an offhand comment can lead to something incredible. For Victoria Robb Powers and Cameron Mason Vickrey, it was a one-line text message that led to their debut children’s book, “My Love, God is Everywhere.”
Powers had asked Vickrey if she could recommend any resources to help parents raise children in the Christian faith.
Both had noticed that there were many children’s books about Bible stories. On the other hand, there were few that had a theological foundation and showed how to connect with God.
“No, unfortunately I really don’t have that great of a list,” Vickrey replied before mentioning a few that she recommended but didn’t really love.
The next almost flippant statement would change their lives.
“I think we should write a book,” Vickrey texted.
A natural question
Powers and Vickrey, who are both in ministry and now have a joint Instagram account called Reverend Mamas, which is used to answer parents’ questions and give biblical advice, had known each other casually for a while before finding they had similar interests and becoming friends. Powers also knew an illustrator from her college years.
These three women worked together to create a beautiful book that meets a need.
“It’s a really simple question that we seek to answer in the book: Where is God? We have found that children are really interested in knowing geographically where God’s location is,” Vickrey said.
Furthermore, the book includes a message that has meaning for any age.
“It’s such a natural question we carry all throughout our lives,” Vickrey continued. “When we go through hard times, you naturally think, ‘Where is God in this?’”
The topic of the book wasn’t randomly chosen. After recognizing the text was actually a God-inspired idea, Powers and Vickrey started asking parents what their children most wanted to know about God.
They also decided that they wanted to write it in a here/there fashion. An example is, “Is God here when it’s loud — or there when it’s quiet?”
Foundation in place
Once they had the foundation, they needed to narrow it down, knowing that the questions and answers are infinite.
They wrote a long list of possible questions and then specified the most important. Though all are significant and valuable, Powers and Vickrey have their own favorites.
For Powers, that question was, “Is God here when I’m alive — or there when I die?”
Because no one can know exactly what happens when a person dies, they decided that an ambiguous answer would be best.
“I answer the question, ‘What happens when I die?’ by just saying, ‘You go to God,’” Powers said. “I think it’s a true answer and an answer that suffices and provides assurance once again that you’re never alone. There’s nowhere that you could go that God won’t be. But it also leaves room for the mystery that we cannot solve.”
“Is God here when I’m happy — or there when I’m sad?” is Vickrey’s top pick.
“I think it’s important for us to start teaching our kids right now that God is there alongside us when we’re sad,” she said. “God is also grieving when we grieve and God’s heart breaks for us. That’s when we can feel the very close presence of God — when we’re sad.
“Honestly, I think that happy is a really important part too. God doesn’t want to just be there to rescue us in the desperate times,” Vickrey continued. “God wants a relationship with us, and that means all the parts of our lives — the good, the mundane, the everyday and the celebrations and also the really hard times.”
Power in pictures
Once the text was finalized, they sent it to Joanna Carillo, a lifelong artist who was the wife of Powers’ best friend in college. She majored in art and is now a designer and marketing director of Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California.
When Powers and Vickrey approached Carillo about the book, she was happy to take on the project even though she had never illustrated a book before.
The authors realized that the visual aspect added more than beautiful images when their publisher sent them a final copy of the book without its text.
“It was really surreal for us to read the book through the pictures only,” Powers said. “Naturally, when words are on a page, we gravitate to the words and we read them. We tend to lose a lot of what’s communicated in the illustrations. It was so powerful for us to read the book through the pictures only.
“Later we thought, that’s how those pre-readers — those early readers who can’t read for themselves — this is how they will read the book.”
Powers and Vickrey agreed that both had learned through this experience that it’s important to “pay attention to and follow the nudges.”
“Listen to where God is whispering to us to go and to do. It’s amazing to see what can happen,” Vickrey said.
Powers said, “There have been so many moments where we looked at each other and said, ‘Wow! What a gift!’ God’s been in all of this in ways we never anticipated or expected,” Powers said. “I don’t know that I’d change anything.”