Inside the heart of most people who are born is a desire to know and enjoy great stories, and a longing to know and understand what meaningful part we might play in the story. Jesus used stories to teach, to inspire, to tell truths. When my little out of the box boy came into my life I decided that I would reach his heart by telling him stories that would grab his imagination and that would give him hope for becoming a hero in God's story.
Nathan did not come with an instruction book.
He did not sleep through the night until he was 4 years old. His little body seemed agitated. His spunky personality, strong-willed heart presented challenges at almost every point.
But I could see, he was a boy with a big hero heart. He loved heroes. He acted out noble stories with a cape on and sword lifted high. My determination to find what made his heart sing was through filling his little mind with stories of hope, goodness, adventure and inspiration so he could picture himself as a part of a great story.
Nathan helped me to become a prayer warrior because I spent so much time asking God for wisdom, insight and help. And so God showed me his heart and helped me to see the plans He had for Nathan to grow up in to a man who would be noble, true and good.
I chose stories that would give a foundation to his soul that cooperated with the desires of His heart. Nathan has shared his own memories about this process and some of his favorite boy books that inspired him.
It ends up, Nathan is a kindred spirit--a dreamer, an idealist, one who wants to bring his messages to bear in the world--and that is why he was out of the box, because God made him so.
Here is his side of the story.
As a young ADHD boy, I had a hard time sitting still for long periods of time.
Much less sitting still at all.
So reading long books for hours on end, seemed about as possible as flying to my eight year old mind. But one thing I day dreamed about was to be Superman.
My wise mama, while knowing how her son worked, also knew the value of good stories in my life. So, she found a way to work within my limitations and find a way for me to ingest the stories that would end up shaping me, while simultaneously doing it in a way I didn’t feel like I was going to explode.
Everyday I would pull out the pad of paper and colored pens she had bought me while she would begin reading aloud to me. It was my task to create the pictures for the story unfolding, I took my job very seriously and had no idea that my love of heros and righteousness was being made. I grew to love and look forward to these times, and as I look back even now at 23 years old, I can see what a deep impact they had on my life.
Boys are made to be hero’s and warriors, we are made to look at great men and emulate their actions. Being a great MOB, my mom knew how vital it was to give me good pictures of what real men/heros looked like.
So today I would love to share with you some of the books/stories that have had the biggest impact on my life.
Lets dive into the first edition list of the reads that shaped me, that just might have an eternal impact on your young man in training.
1. Hero Tales: Oh my goodness! What a series packed with substance and inspiring messages. I think what I loved so much about this set of books, is that the stories were about REAL people in history who led amazing God honoring lives. As a young man it was immensely important to me to not just hear good stories with morals, but good stories about actual people who fought for goodness and chose to live a life worthy of being called heroic. I loved that they weren’t some fictional character, but rather these were real heros confronted with real problems, making real choices, and living REAL lives worthy of emulation .
2. Catherine Voss Bible: I can remember every morning for the better half of my life, waking up, walking downstairs and sitting down to listen to one or both of my parents read the novelized version of the entire Bible. It was something I looked forward to my entire childhood and something that has never left me. It was the first time I can remember the Bible and the stories in it coming alive. To this day, the way I know most of the random and lesser known stories in the Bible, is not through heavy study guides and personal study, but rather through a childhood of listening to this awesome book.
3. God’s Smuggler: This is the true story of a wayward boy, growing up to be one of the most influential missionaries and bible smugglers in the entire world. It’s the tale of Brother Andrew, a man who eventually learned what an adventurous and amazing life you can have once you make the choice to follow Jesus. I ended up reading the book myself again after it had been read to me. It inspired me to think about my life and what it could look like if I started even at my young age, making choices on faith in God.
4. Narnia Some of the most enchanting but poignant books I have ever had the pleasure to read. I’m sure you have heard of them, but if you haven’t already taken the dive, I highly encourage you to. As a young boy, these books gave me an entire world to be apart of, and a story to be engaged with. They simultaneously showed parallels between the christian walk, God, and my understanding of this world, like no other books have.
It has all the markings of one of THE best fantasies series inviting readers to become emerged. And once you are, you are unable to ignore the beauty of the allegories it holds.
5. The Kingdom Series This series is one of the groupings of books I look back most fondly on. In the vein of Narnia, but even more allegorical and understood by a border age group, these books are the stories and happenings inside the King’s Kingdom.
Each page is beautifully written with descriptive words and beautiful pictures unfolding into a beautiful allegory per chapter. Simple enough for a seven year old to understand but captivating for a 77 year old to be swept away.
My favorite chapter was always the one about the juggler who juggled to a different beat than all of the other dancers and performers and musicians in the kingdom.
There you have it! I could go on forever writing about the books that shaped (and continue to shape) who I am, but I hope that these first five of my favorite reads will help you on the journey to finding the stories and tales that will inspire, teach, and shape the young man in your life.