Lauren Johnston Duncan of J&M Bookstore releases first published book ‘Made to Create’


By Bradley
For the Opelika

“I am a little pencil, in the hands of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” -Mother Teresa
I found this quote years ago and fell in love with it. The imagery of God holding me, as if a pencil, and moving me through my day is life giving. I see a picture of us together, writing our story.
Our local pastor recently preached a sermon on these endearing words, evoking a new joy and direction in me. One that is more about the lives of other people and not so much about me.
You see, we are a pencil held by God, writing our own story, but also writing the story of the people we reach in our day to day life.
Lauren Johnston Duncan is an Auburn native. Not only raised here in Auburn, but practically speaking, Duncan was raised at J&M Bookstore, where her family has been working since 1953. Duncan is most recognized by her big smile, blond hair and colorful sense of style. And although her family roots are buried in Auburn tradition and business, Duncan has paved her own path locally and beyond in the beautiful world of srt.
After having graduated from Auburn University and UAB, Duncan has taught art as far away as Ghana and back here to Auburn in local schools. Today, she teaches art to any child who wants to create and has brought her artistry and passion into her family business at J&M Bookstore through tee-shirts, prints and her own fun, vibrant way of life.
Duncan recently created her favorite piece of work yet, her very first published book, “Made to Create,” a colorful, inspiring devotion geared towards young girls, ages 8-12.
My young daughter and I were able to get a copy recently and the book is magical. It’s filled with bright colors and artistry, whimsy details, fun and interactive designs and a sweet layout of scripture, leadership and love for young hearts and minds.
“This book is years in the making,” Duncan said. “It is my heart and soul and I’m just so very proud of it.”
The book is written as a devotion but in the style of a journal. Duncan says she knew she wanted it to be interactive and silly, having easy crafts and writing to make it individual and unique to each girl that reads it.
“When I was creating this book I thought, ‘What are the things I want these girls to have written on their hearts?’ And what I want is for them to realize, through the Lords word, that they are fully known and perfectly loved. I want it to help them know their own unique gifts. I want these girls to realize whatever that gift is, it’s from the Lord and that’s what makes them perfectly and uniquely made,” Duncan said.
The book is inspired by Duncan’s own past and hardships she has faced both personally and with her husband through infertility. Her art brought her peace and hope in the suffering. Today, her desire is to share the joy she found through creating.
“Painting is how the Lord spoke to my soul during that time. Being able to paint and create, paint my prayers, paint my scriptures, changed my perspective,” Duncan said. “It helped me to hear the Lord in a different way and I want to share that with people.”
Duncan originally sent a children’s book to her publishing house, Tyndale. They liked it, but suggested she create something geared towards older children. The making of this book, was not even in the plans for Duncan. However, Made to Create came to life and she was able to go to Chicago recently and meet the large team of people that helped to make this possible.
“Hundreds of people put this book together. And when I got there, I saw my book cover hanging up next to a Francine Rivers book,” Duncan said. “I just thought that was really cool. I was asked to paint and speak in front of an audience of their executives. It was overwhelming.”
The goal now for Duncan is to get her book into the hands of young girls everywhere.
“When I was young, I wanted to be a missionary and I thought I had to be a doctor to do that. But as an adult, I realized that the Lord can use art as ministry,” Duncan said. “And If art can be used as kingdom work too, then that means anything can be kingdom work.”
“The Lord is creating a story in these young girls. A story unique to them. And when these girls face hard things, they will have something to go back to,” Duncan added. “God is in all things. He is true and He is still real.”
Duncan says she has learned a lot about slowing down and having patience in the making of this book.
She gives all the credit to Tyndale and to the Lord for creating something way beyond her imagination.
“The Lord can do more than we can think or imagine. This book is better than I would have imagined,” Duncan said. “It’s bigger than I would have imagined. It’s even for bigger people. It’s just incredible. The Lord made this happen and I’m just grateful he wanted to use my ‘pencil.’”
You can purchase ‘Made to Create’ locally at J&M Bookstore or nationwide at Amazon, Books-A-Million and Tyndale online. The bookstore is located at 115 S. College St.


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