A.R. (Alice) Cecil, one of our Journeys contributors, always enjoyed the arts. As a child, she put on plays in the basement. As a university student, she earned a masters degree in Fine Art doing studio painting. But God had another plan! Alice says that, as a young adult, the visual arts gave her a way to express ideas and emotions. She adds, “I did not have enough life experience and maturity to be a writer. My journey from painter to Christian writer could have only been orchestrated by God.”
When Alice and her husband, Joe (a well-known physician at Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky), started a family, Alice read to her young children often. And she came to appreciate children’s literature so much that she was soon writing her own children’s books and illustrating them. Gradually, though, the bits of text that ran across the pages of those picture books grew and grew until she was writing full-length stories.
Then, 26 years ago, after their fourth child was born with cancer, Alice and Joe came to personal faith in Christ. The Lord brought a new focus to their lives.
After her conversion, as Alice grew as a Christian and as a writer, she wanted to incorporate the truths of the Bible into her writing. She hungered to better understand both theology and human nature. Alice lists several Christian writers who greatly influenced her during this time: Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Watchman Nee, Oswald Chambers, and C.S. Lewis. She also sought out mentors: a Christian psychologist and a seminary student earning his doctorate.
A strong desire grew within her to minister within the body of Christ through her writing. For a while she wrote a newspaper column. Then in 2012 her short memoir, “Run, Run, as Fast as You Can,” was published in the anthology, Journeys to Mother Love: Nine Women Tell their Stories of Forgiveness & Healing. This story tells Alice’s testimony of the relational challenges in her childhood as well as the sorrows that led a young mother to turn to Christ.
Alice has raised her four children and now has four grandchildren as well. Through all my communications with her she exudes joy and peace and patience (the fruit of the Spirit). And her writing demonstrates these fruits. This fall, her book of Christmas stories was released by Cladach Publishing, entitled That Was the Best Christmas!: 25 Short Stories from the Generations. Asked where she gets the ideas for her fascinating variety of characters, plots, and settings, Alice states that they develop from her desire to address certain aspects of the human condition with God as the answer. An endorsement from Judy Russell states it well: “A.R. (Alice) Cecil has a real gift to inspire and tug at heartstrings. Young and old will be inspired and enjoy.”
Each of the Christmas stories is set amidst historic events that take place during the years progressing from 1906 to 2013. The main character of each story is a boy or girl, man or woman whose heart opens to give or receive love, bringing personal transformation as they find opportunities to exchange the true gifts of Christmas, such as kindness, encouragement, forgiveness, peace, hope, and belonging. Alice (A.R. Cecil is her pen name) writes with a touch of humor and a warm understanding of both human relationships and the transforming power of God and His Word. That Was the Best Christmas! by A.R. Cecil is available in The Living Word bookstore in Louisville as well as through select stores across the country and online retailers. The paperback can be purchased at Amazon.com and BN.com. You can also read it in Kindle version.
To read Alice’s (A.R. Cecil’s) writing is to feel her heart and to be refreshed in faith and the joy of the journey.
p.s. I based much of this post on Alice’s answers to interview questions I sent her. You’ll hear from Alice herself here soon, as she is preparing to post her personal testimony.