Monday, August 27, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Judy Gann

Judy Gann still has that child-like quality that we love about children--her heart of acceptance for others. Her passion is to help others and the quote she has on her web page says:
To comfort others with the comfort God's given to me (1 Corinthians 1:3-4.)And when Judy says she's going to pray for you--look out! My socks get blessed clear off my tootsies every time. From Judy's lips to God's ear. But how did Judy get to be so compassionate? They say that some people go through trials and come out tough and bitter. But for some their hearts become even more tender and a wisdom grows out of the perseverence. The second description is Judy.

I think that Anne Morrow Lindbergh says best what I'm trying to tell you about Judy:
"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable."

She remains vulnerable and open to God's grace. She mourns when something needs mourning (and will mourn with you--tough thing to do.) She understands better than most. And she has that love and understanding, and the patience to see it through. Her bio states:Whether it’s comforting those with illness, exhorting parents to read to their young children, or mentoring women, Judy Gann’s passion is to comfort and encourage others through her writing and speaking. A contributor to several magazines and compilations, she serves as Writers Coordinator for Rest Ministries, an international Christian support ministry for people with chronic illness and chronic pain. Her current writing projects include a book for parents on sharing books with young children and a book for women alone.

A semi-retired children’s librarian, Judy lives in Washington state. When she isn’t writing, Judy enjoys collecting children’s books of the 1940’s and 1950’s, cheering the Seattle Mariners, crocheting, and taking long walks—even in the rain.

So take a look at Judy as a child. (And boy, did I ever ask for it when I asked a children's librarian to pick her favorite book as a child. I've always wanted to ask a children's librarian that question and Judy handled it like a pro.)

Childhood Ambition:
I always wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. At age nine, armed with a little chalkboard and chalk, I set up my first classroom in our den. My sister (age three) was my first victim, er, student. Now I take credit for everything she knows. In the photo we’re having a lesson in the care of kittens.

I achieved my childhood ambition and taught elementary school for five years. When the Christian school I was teaching in closed, my love for books led me into library school at the University of Washington. I worked for twenty-four years as a children’s librarian with Pierce County Library System; the last four years as an early literacy librarian. Semi-retired, I conduct storytimes and substitute for the library system.

Fondest Memory (then):
My fondest childhood memories are of family camping trips along Rock Creek and Robinson Creek in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (CA): fishing, tubing, campfires, eating food cooked over an old Coleman stove, falling asleep to the lull of the creek. In the photo, Janie, a childhood friend, and I are trying to catch fish with our hands.

Obviously, the fish had nothing to worry about. In the ‘50’s and ‘60’s you didn’t have to reserve a camp spot or pay a fee—just drive in and pick your spot. Sigh. As my dad often reminds me, nothing lasts forever.

Proudest Moment:
In 1997 I was named the first recipient of the Washington Library Association’s “Visionary Library Service to Youth” Award. Yes, I felt proud, but I don’t take a bit of credit for this honor—the glory is the Lord’s. Winning this award was a testimony of God’s enabling strength in the midst of health difficulties, including two chronic illnesses, clinical depression, and breast cancer.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

My body faced autoimmune system challenges from birth. I was often sick and never as strong as other children my age. PE classes were a nightmare for me (sorry, Crystal!). I dreaded games like dodge ball—games that required the selection of teams. I was always chosen last.

First Job:
Babysitting. However, my career as a babysitter almost came to an abrupt end when a little girl I was taking care of (okay, not taking care of) splattered baby powder all over herself, her younger sister, and the bedroom.

Childhood Indulgence:
Mexican food at Nati’s Restaurant in Ocean Beach (San Diego). Our family ate there nearly every Friday evening. I have yet to find Mexican food (certainly not in Washington state!) that comes close to measuring up to Nati’s. Childhood indulgence? Forty-six years later I still have to have my “Nati’s fix” every time I visit my family.

Childhood Pastime that Influenced Writing:
Books and reading have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A close family friend (like a grandmother to me) took me to get my first library card as soon as I learned how to print my name. Standing on tiptoe to reach the checkout counter, I proudly handed the librarian my card and the book, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Early on I understood the power of words and books to transport readers and change lives. I enjoyed writing little stories and any class writing assignment. My senior year in high school I worked in an elementary school as part of a work experience program. My first published work was a character sketch of a first grader in my class, published in the county student literary magazine.

Favorite Childhood Movie:
The Sound of Music. I love the entire movie, but especially the opening scene (with Julie Andrews singing her heart out while climbing through the Alps) and the closing scene (as the Trapp family climbs over the mountains to safety). Mountains have always been special to me which probably explains why I love these scenes.

Favorite Childhood Book:
Crystal, Crystal. You never ask this question of a children’s librarian. I could fill “Chat ‘n Chew” for days with my favorite children’s books. But to spare your readers, my favorite childhood series was the “Betsy-Tacy” books by Maud Hart Lovelace. The books are based on the author’s childhood (kindergarten to her wedding) growing up in Mankato, Minnesota in the early 1900s. Today there is a Betsy-Tacy Society in Mankato with several hundred members and chapters throughout the United States, as well as a Maud online group. Every five years a convention is held in Mankato. The childhood homes of Maud and her best friend, “Tacy,” have been purchased and restored by the Society. One of my most treasured memories is a booksigning I did at “Tacy’s” house in 2005.

Favorite Costume:
The Portuguese community in Point Loma, where I grew up, held a Festa each year. Because my dad’s family is from Portugal, I participated in the Festa parade. This was every girl’s dream—parading through the streets dressed as a princess.

Years later, Jerene, my co-worker at the library, nagged me into wearing costumes during our spring visits to the schools to promote the summer reading program. Her friend made costumes to fit each year’s summer reading theme. The ladybug costume (in photo taken during the Steilacoom Fourth of July parade) was my favorite. You’d never guess that this innocuous costume got me into deep trouble with the military police at the gate on McChord Air Force Base (pre 9/11 days). The school I was going to visit on base was supposed to have clearance for me waiting at the gate. Alas, they forgot. The military officer took one look at me in all my ladybug glory and thereafter avoided eye contact—including when he finally handed me my clearance. I guess they don’t see many ladybugs on McChord.

Childhood Hero: Helen Keller, no question about it. As a child struggling with health issues, I looked up to Helen Keller my heroine and example. If she could rise above her adversity than what reason did I have to complain about my small challenges?

Check out Rest Ministies

And see the Betsy-Tacy site here

And don't forget to look at Judy's site where she has comfort for those with chronic illnesses.
Crystal Editor's note:When my cousin, author Sally Pierson Dillon, was still alive, she suffered from lupus and I sent this book to her. She wrote a long letter to me telling me how she loved it and then bought several copies to give to others who were also suffering. It blessed me and blessed her and blessed...well, you see it is contagious!

Book:The God of All Comfort: Devotions of Hope for Those Who Chronically Suffer (AMG 2005)

Articles/Compilations:“A Spiritual Mom,” Woman’s Touch May/June 2004 (Revised with a prayer focus in God Answers Mom’s Prayers by Allison Bottke (Harvest House 2005))

“Marketing to Public Libraries” in You Can Market Your Book by Carmen Leal (Write Now Publications 2003)

“In the Arms of the Shepherd” in Comfort for the Grieving Heart by Margolyn Woods (Thomas More Publishers, 2002)

Two prayers in Prayers for Troubled Times by Jeannie St. John Taylor, (AMG 2002.)

Partnering for Babies,” Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, Fall 2001.

Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a free copy of Judy's book, The God of All Comfort: Devotions of Hope for Those Who Chronically Suffer (AMG 2005)I'll draw a winner on Monday, September 3rd.


Anonymous said...

And I thought I already knew Judy well. Crystal, thank you for these wonderful peeks inside the lives of some of our favorite people. I absolutely love this feature of Chat 'N' Chew.

Sharon Hinck said...

Judy, as one who has been known to don a costume, I LOVED the sight of you in the ladybug costume! :-)

GREAT interview...and thank you for the comfort you so often send my way. You are a blessing!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Judy! I love the ladybug costume. This is a fantastic interview, and it made me smile. Thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...


You just get better and better. I loved learning more about Judy. And, Judy, great interview. What a fun way to get to know you better.


Anonymous said...

La-huv the pictures, Judy! What a cutie you were ... and still are, especially in the ladybug outfit. ; )

And everything Crystal wrote about you is true. Good stuff, both of you.

Anonymous said...

Judy has the gift of mercy, and I've been on the receiving end of that more than a few times. Although I don't need to have my name entered in the book giveaway (I have it and it is a blessing!), I would like to encourage those who don't win the drawing to pick up a copy for themselves. Its message is unforgetable--like Judy.

Crystal, these interviews are like dessert! I reach a certain point in my day's work and then take a break here. I love your writing style!

Anonymous said...

Crystal, I have just discovered your blog and have been truly blessed. I loved getting to know Judy through your interview. I learned that we have a great deal in common; we'd be good friends if we lived near each other. I would love to be the winner of Judy's book since I am one of those people who suffer chronic pain.

Anonymous said...

What fun to see the many sides of Judy, literally and figuratively. Her book is truly a blessing.

Anonymous said...

We are so privileged to have been a next door neighbor to our dear friend, Judy Gann, the past several years. She is a special lady in so many ways and her gentle personality and friendliness is a shining light in this age of self concern and individualism.
She is dedicated to her Lord and Saviour and it shines in everything she does. She is one of the most wonderful people we've ever known and are so very proud of her and her determination and success in her lifelong dream of being a published writer. Thank you, Judy for being you and being in our lives. We love you dearly.
Ken & Bridget

Christina Tarabochia said...

Judy was the very first person I met at my very first conference--and she comforted me tremendously with her quiet spirit.

She also gave me the gift of a get-out-of-this-book-guiltfree bookmark. Thankfully, all the books I've read since have been good. ;-)

Love you, Judy! Great interview.

Anonymous said...

Crystal, dear friend, thank you for the incredible gift of this interview!

Thank you also to those who left comments. Your words overwhelm me. I'm saving your comments for "rainy days."



Crystal Laine said...

And the winners of the book drawing are: Ann Knowles and Katherine! Please see the September 3rd post for instructions on how to get your autographed copy!

Thanks so much, Judy, for sharing your story here. And thanks to all of you who left Judy a comment. It blessed me, too.