Oak Forest woman raising butterflies, writing books
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent July 16, 2014 1:18PM
Author Ruth DeYoung visits the flower garden of her Oak Forest home, where she raises butterflies. | Ginger Brashinger/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 23, 2014 6:36PM
Ruth DeYoung, 72, is a woman of many talents.
A visitor to her Oak Forest home might find DeYoung working in her lush backyard flower garden or releasing butterflies she has raised. But it’s just as likely she will be sitting at her computer working on a new book.
DeYoung recently self-published a Christian-themed children’s book, “The Temple Curtain,” through WestBow Press.
DeYoung said the book’s target audience is third- to eighth-graders, but she said adults have told her they “learned a lot” by reading it, and some grandparents have told her they are reading it to their grandchildren as young as 5 years old.
“It’s got a wide (audience),” DeYoung said.
“The Temple Curtain” tells the story of Nathan, a 12-year-old Jewish boy who lives in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus Christ. Nathan wants to be a temple priest but because he is disabled, his future is dim.
Nathan’s encounter with Jesus before his death and Nathan’s presence at Jesus’ crucifixion frames the rest of the story of Nathan’s journey as a Christian with his family and well-known Biblical figures.
DeYoung, retired from a 22-year career in teaching — including 16 years as a teacher of at-risk preschoolers at Highland School in Chicago Heights — has had the idea for her book for many years but never found the time on her summers off school to work on it because of the extensive research necessary to make it historically accurate, she said.
It wasn’t until several months after she retired in 2008 that she resurrected the idea in earnest.
“In the back of my mind, I really always wanted to write a children’s book, and I thought when I retired, I would do that,” she said.
DeYoung’s degree in Christian education from Wheaton College, her work on Bible curriculum for Sunday school and her faith as a member of the Christian Reformed Church all qualified her to write a Christian-themed book.
But, DeYoung said, taking advantage of the expertise of Lynn Austin, an award-winning author formerly of Orland Park who had written Biblically-based historical fiction, was probably most beneficial.
As a freelance journalist, DeYoung interviewed Austin about her first book for the “Banner,” a Christian Reformed Church publication. The two writers developed a relationship, and DeYoung said Austin became a kind of mentor for her.
Austin helped DeYoung with “descriptions of the countryside,” a challenging part of the book for her.
DeYoung has a number of other books in the works or completed, including a series of “fantasy adventures” whose main characters are named after her grandchildren, Annelise and Arthur, and for which she “decided to try my hand at illustrating.”
Another of DeYoung’s works, “Japan Adventures,” reflects the years when she lived in Japan with her husband Ron and two of their three children while Ron worked as a church planner.
DeYoung said most of her books have a Christian message, an important aspect of her life as well as her writing. Her goal now is to get that message out to others, especially children.
“I truly think God was calling me to write this book,” DeYoung said. “I felt so much that God really guided me a lot of times in my thinking as I tried to put this together.”
For more information, visit www.RuthDeYoung.com. To order “The Temple Curtain,” visit