by Dan Mundt
“Something the Lord really impressed on my heart was that he speaks a lot in analogies,” said Leslie Gustafson. “I see situations and it becomes a teaching moment where he connects it with scripture.”
About three years ago, Gustafson started writing down the analogies she saw and posting them to her Facebook page.
“It grew from there – a lot of people encouraged me to put them together and write a book,” she said.
The result is her first book, “Kissed by the King.”
Gustafson read from the book and signed copies at an event at the Norelius Public Library on Monday evening.
She is a preschool teacher; she teaches at Immanuel Lutheran Preschool in Schleswig and is the early childhood special education teacher at Schleswig Public School.
Gustafson previously taught in Denison at Our Savior and St. Rose preschools.
She and her husband, John, live in the country near Kiron; they have two adult children.
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As an example of the kind of analogies she has included in her book, Gustafson said that she has a terrible fear of heights.
When John tried to get her to pick apples from a loader bucket, she screamed and insisted that he put her back on the ground.
“When my husband put my daughter into the bucket to pick apples from the top of the apple tree … of course she was just up there plucking away, happy as a lark,” Gustafson said.
“I compare that to the heavenly father; when we trust him like our daughter trusted her dad, we can rest assured in how much he loves us, versus my response in the loader.”
Another example came by way of a student who called her “Mrs. Wilson.”
“I kept yelling, ‘Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Wilson,’ just like in the movie with Dennis the Menace. I kept trying to tell him my name is not Mrs. Wilson, my name is Mrs. Gustafson,” she said.
“It reminded me in that situation how very grateful I am that God knows our name; he created us, he formed us, he has a special plan for us and he doesn’t make mistakes and get us wrong.”
She looks for ways to craft the stories so they give hope.
“I always try to make it encouraging so people know that we serve a god who loves them, and he’s crazy about them, and we can live in the joy and victory and peace that it brings,” she said.
Gustafson was working on a master’s degree in early education through Northwestern College in Orange City when she first thought of turning her stories into a book.
She called the only author she knew, Jolene Philo, who writes books on post-traumatic stress disorder in children.
Philo recommended that she “park the book” until she finished her degree.
“So I kept writing but didn’t pursue publishing it until last summer,” Gustafson said.
She worked with a publisher named Julie Ballard with Victory Vision Publishing & Consulting; “Kissed by the King” was published by the company in January.
Gustafson said she enjoys the writing process but she doesn’t know yet if there are more books in her future.
“If that door opens, I would love to,” she said. “Since the book published, I haven’t gotten to do a lot of writing because of the extra responsibility with marketing it, and trying to get it out there,” she said.
She had a book-signing event in Arizona last week.
“Since I teach, I have the summer off so hopefully I can get back to doing some more writing,” Gustafson said.
“Whether I’ll do more devotions or if there’s something else out there that God will allow me to teach on, I would love it.”
She wants readers to find something of value in her book.
“My prayer is that, as they read it, they’re encouraged, they know how much the Lord loves them and they can walk in the victory and joy of that love,” Gustafson said. “There’s freedom in Christ – that’s what I want people to know. I know what he’s walked me out of, and it’s my desire that they learn to hear his voice from him and follow.