By April Carnik, Special Contributor…
Anyone can see the world as it is with their own eyes, but having vision takes faith.
That’s the theme of a new book, entitled What Do You See?, by Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the UMC’s Texas Conference.
While the book was written for children, leaders of the conference believe the book’s message could speak to United Methodists of all ages.
Bishop Huie grew up on a ranch in Beeville, Texas, and has fond memories of time shared with her father, James Riggle, as he drove around the ranch checking the cattle.
At the time, Beeville was struggling under the worst drought on record. As she and her father sat in the truck, looking out over the drought-devastated pastures, he asked her: “Janice, what do you see?”
The book tells how Bishop Huie’s father helped her to see with hope and possibility, even in times of trouble—seeing with eyes of faith instead of despair, and seeing abundance instead of drought.
The powerful question that James Riggle posed—What Do You See?—became significant in Bishop Huie’s ministry over the years. She has asked herself the question over and again.
Now, as the United Methodist churches face challenging times, the question echoes with new urgency: What do you see? As Bishop Huie learned from her father, change begins with a vision of something better.
The Rev. Jerry Pennington, director of transformation for the Texas Conference, spearheaded an effort to get the book illustrated and printed. Initially, the idea was to create a coffee table book to present as a Christmas gift to the bishop from her cabinet.
An early version was illustrated with photos from Bishop Huie’s childhood and artwork created by 7-year-old Peyton Leonard. Peyton picked up on the theme easily and began asking the “what do you see” question in reference to scenes in her environment that needed a vision of hope and possibility. Dr. Pennington said she learned very quickly that this ability was a faith experience as God enables us to see with new eyes.
The cabinet then hired a professional children’s book illustrator, Jason Shasteen, to create another version. Both versions were presented to Bishop Huie last Christmas.
A limited preview edition of the Shasteen version was sold this month at information desks during the Texas Annual Conference gathering in Galveston. Conference leaders are considering another printing, if there’s enough interest in the book.
Bishop Huie says she is looking forward to sharing her story with children and grandchildren with hopes that the story will be life-shaping and fun.
She is clear, however, that the story is not just for the children.
She says, “It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide our hearts and minds, enabling us to see with the heart and eyes of God, that we may accomplish God’s purpose in these challenging times.”
For more information, call the conference communications office at (713) 521-9383, ext.326 or ext.315.
Ms. Carnik is associate communications director for the Texas Conference.