Own Your Life: Read for your own education, Read to Your Children, Invest in your Mind!
Sometimes I like to just look at my children. They are miracles to me--that they are mine, that they have grown into such interesting, engaging adults, and that they still love to be with us, and that they love the Lord. It is a gift more fulfilling at this point than I even knew it would be. I gave my life to serve them and God's grace made it a work that deeply satisfied my heart.
Having my boys home for 2 days by themselves, sitting at the dinner table for two hours talking about life helped me to see that they are growing stronger, and flourishing--a relief to a mama who has been praying while they are in worldly, large arenas.
One of their conclusions at the end of our table talk stayed in my mind and heart.
"Mama, we are who we are because of the stories we stored in our hearts as little boys, because of the books you read outloud, because of the devotions we celebrated every day, because all of these epic stories lived in our hearts and shaped who we are now as adults investing in the creative world.
Love of books, love of stories, on of the most profound sources of heritage we gave to our children, that has prepared all of them for their calling and living in the World.
Fast forward, and you will find Joel working daily on recording a book on tape that he enjoyed day by day. His conclusion as he finished it last week was, "We need to read this story out loud as a family. It is really a good story!"
I am soo delighted, for these reasons, to be able to introduce you to this wonderful author. He has generously given me 10 books to give to you for Christmas. It is a perfect gift for your middle school aged kids and high school. Here is his story!
We almost never made it through the wardrobe and into Narnia. It was a close call. Stung by the strident criticisms of his close friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis was ready to abandon his Narnia series before it was ever published. Lewis was deeply hurt and discouraged because he respected Tolkien’s opinion so much. For his part, Lewis had been a longtime proponent of Tolkien’s own work. If not for the entrance of Roger Lancelyn Green, we would never have found our own way into Narnia.
So what magical power did Roger Green exert on his friend and former tutor? What elixir was mixed or what castle stormed to save this magical tale from oblivion? I’ll tell you. Roger Green had words, words of encouragement, when they were most needed. Green’s enthusiasm and encouragement, by Lewis’s own admission, saved the whole project. What potent power lies in encouraging words.
My own story was, to borrow an expression, saved by childbirth. Specifically, my story would not exist were it not for the woman who gave birth to me and first read to me of Narnia. My mother believed--well, believes--in me. I have lost count of the encouraging encounters I’ve had with my mom related to my own writing dream. But it was when I was a child that her encouragement took root. I had never met an author, and you might as well have told me I was going to go to the moon as write books. But Mom convinced me it was possible. She encouraged me. So I worked on stories as a boy, and dared to dream. She always believed, even when I didn’t.
I’m 37. It’s been a long road, but my first novel is out in the world. The Green Ember is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. More, it might be a gateway to light for a child somewhere, perhaps one I don’t even know. That’s an incredible thought to me.
I’ve had more encouraging Roger Greens in my life than critical and discouraging Tolkiens, my mother being an early and regular one. But there have been more. My wife has been a rock of encouragement, our kids a chorus of enthusiasm. But it’s amazing how discouraging and derailing it can be to hear critical words. I’ve heard those too.
Don’t get me wrong. We all need to take criticism and coaching. What we want, however, is to avoid losing the heart for our calling in the midst of it.
I needed encouragement. All kids need encouragement. They also need equipping, and to be challenged. But what dreams are churning in our children’s souls?
Some of the Roger Greens in my life have been the Clarksons. Sarah is a dear friend and one whose opinion I deeply respect. She read a very early (think raw/bad) draft of The Green Ember and offered vital insights which have helped shape the story. But more than just constructive criticism, she had powerful words of encouragement. Sally too has been so encouraging to me as a new author, sharing insights and enthusiasm. Clay has been a wise mentor and friend for years and Joel has become a crucial creative partner.
There are more Greens to speak of, but this story of how Roger Green saved Narnia has more in it for us than just identifying, with gratitude, the enthusiastic encouragers in our lives. It raises another question.
Who in my life needs me to be Roger Green for them?
The Green Ember by S. D. Smith is available here in both hardcover and paperback (ships now).