Raised on Books

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The first book that made me cry was Bridge to Terabithia. I held the thin pages in my pruned hands, dampening the corners as I soaked up every last bubble in the bathtub, sobbing as the water turned cold.bridge to terabithia photo

I was mad at the author for killing off Leslie. It might have even been the first book I threw across the room, though certainly not the last. I anguished over the loss of a beloved character, wondering what would happen if I were to lose someone dear?

Weren’t books supposed to be for entertainment?

I had my own friend, just a trot through the scrub brush, who liked to climb trees and swing across the dry creek bed on a frayed rope swing. He and I spent hours combing through the caves and trails of the scraggly west—his mother kept boxes of chocolate bars in his kitchen—he liked to race and swim and dream, just like I did.

As I returned that book to the library, I felt an even closer kinship to my friend next door, knowing that the fun we had was not just kid stuff—it was precious.

I craved more books and wanted to know how they held such power. Little Women taught me that living with grace outweighed the shallow demands of society. Anne of Green Gables taught me that family goes beyond blood ties.

Frank Peretti’s books walked me through my high school years, opening my eyes to spiritual warfare and the root behind what makes us do what we do. Piercing the Darkness was one of the most powerful books I discovered, as far as how it helped shape my worldview and why it was okay to be me.

When people lump books in with the entertainment section, I always do a double take. Yes, they certainly entertain, but not mindlessly, not in a way that wastes time or hinders a reader’s creativity.

They have the power to change lives. To Educate. To make a child think beyond summertime swinging over a dry creek bed.

 

Is there a book that impacted your life? Tell us about it in the comments.

Diverted

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Last week I talked about failure.  This week, I’m taking a step forward.100_2425

As I was in the midst of writing/illustration The Guardians a few years ago, an idea came to me that would not leave me alone. I mean, I had planned to write stories for my children as they aged, but this idea kept haunting me  (was it you, God?). So… I wrote it down and now I’m stepping into a whole new genre. Rook Publishing has offered me a contract for this book and I couldn’t be more excited.

So gather your teens, your college-age readers (yep, and I know a lot of older adults who read YA fantasy incognito) and prepare them for the story of an adventure across the brokenness of America. And of course, there’s a little romance. And beauty. And lots of other secrets.

Has your path ever changed, despite careful planning? Tell us in the comments.

How to Make Art

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I adore So You Think You Can Dance. It’s what’s on my TV when I need a night off, spilling out art and joy and pain like we all need to live it.

My own background in ballet and squishing my toes into blood-stained pointe shoes is nothing compared to the level of awesomeness I see as each dancer takes their turn pouring their hearts onto the stage. I didn’t have the level of training, or the right kind of feet to take it to a professional level, but I can understand their journey as another kind of artist–pain and rejection included–and whatever you do can be found in the dancer’s process. I urge you to watch at least one show (One of my favorites).

A dancer’s body is incredibly strong—bending and lifting for hours on end to make art out of movement– working every muscle, demanding the depth of every emotion, and peeling away deposits of ordinary.100_2831
When a dancer gets cut, I sympathize with them, but I also know that a necessary layer has just been peeled away. They are given the opportunity to be better, and the most dedicated dancers return the next year, renewed and full of fire—all due to a good dose of constructive criticism.

This is the Refiner’s fire uncovering the pearl inside the oyster, the hot fudge waiting at the bottom of the sundae.

Rejection hurts, it can be embarrassing, especially when you’ve done your best, but it opens your eyes—you can be better than your best. You can be awesome, and as long as you stay humble enough to recognize the potential to improve, awesomeness has no limits.

 

Do you have your own story to tell about rising from rejection? Tell us in the comments.

A Mom’s Guide to Writing During Summer Break

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1. If you wish to have a garden, water while you write. Don’t worry if your kids trample a few corn stalks, or that you forget to water altogether. After all, plot happens.

Seriously--I planted three rows! Three!

Seriously–I planted three rows! Three!

2. For exercise in between chapters, take your kids on a bike ride, but don’t ride one yourself—the workout you’ll get from running after them will make up for EVERY SECOND your rear hits the chair.

3. Expect frequent interruptions from your kids. Just remember, kill your darlings is a writing term, not a real life application.

4. Have contact with other grownups or your adult novel will start sounding like Dr. Seuss.

Wait...this isn't my laptop.

Wait…this isn’t my laptop.

5. When writing a dark scene, turn off Sesame Street. A murder scene inspired by the voice of Elmo will always end up in the slush pile.

A girl’s tale–guest post by Chloe Rossman, age 6

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It’s hard to get the feet moving on Mondays, so I thought I’d bring a little joy for your day. There’s nothing like the perspective of a child, after all, God  gave them this command:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
I Timothy 4:12

Chloe’s thoughts on finding joy in the little things.100_3262

My mouth makes me smile
My hands make me wave
My feet make me dance
My arms make my hands reach books
My legs make my feet walk
My tummy likes to get full and not full
My chin makes my mouth talk.
My ears wiggle.
My eyes make me see animal’s tails move up and down.
Hats are fun to wear. Clothes are really pretty.
My hair blows in the wind.
Reading books, chapter books, and princess books are really fun.
Raccoons play together.

Dreams Up High

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When my kids play, I see God illustrating resilience. I see my daughter look at the tippy-top of the swing set and it’s as if God says “this is how high you can reach.” I follow her gaze toward the towering branches of a tree and I know she will find a way to get there. She has to start low first. As the sun burnishes her arms, they toughen and fill out as she learns to hold her own weight. Then she swings, climbing hand over hand across the monkey bars at the park.100_2977

There are days when discouragement shakes her arms scared, and she needs me to hold her as she monkey crawls across the bars. Sometimes she is too tired, but like a child, she doesn’t recognize fatigue, she just sees the top of the world she hasn’t reached yet.

She comes home from school and tells me about her friend, the gymnast, who can swing and flip and nearly fly over those monkey bars. She wants to do that too, and instead of listening to the dream thief that likes to whisper “you can’t”, she lets her dreams expand. Month after month, she climbs higher, farther. Occasionally she gets stuck in the tree out back and I have to rescue her, but we just laugh and she keeps climbing.

On her last day of school, we meet on the playground. She smiles proud and begins to go from bar to bar, swinging with much more strength that she appears to have on her wiry frame. My heart soars as she conquers every one of them and I think, This is what God made us for—for keeping our eyes on the highest dream, and like the resiliency of a child, we will reach it.

Show, Don’t Tell

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There’s a technique that writers use to help draw a reader into a story. It’s called showing vs. telling. Of course, this is a universal truth. I could tell my kids to eat healthy or I could show them by doing it myself.

I could tell you Jane is angry at me, or I could show you how she tore into my driveway, banged on the door until I let her in, and then leaned into my face with balled fists, face hot-poker red, staring me down until I asked, “What?”image007

A great story will stir something inside you that makes you add it to your kids inheritance, it’s that powerful.

This is how we know Jesus is real, friends. How many religions tell you nice things? Mind-provoking things, even; things that you discuss for hours at a time? How many have enticing arguments against everything you thought you knew?

Now, make a list of all the “gods” that let themselves get beaten to a pulp, spit on, mocked (to this day), and literally crucified – showing you He is the real deal?

It’s Jesus, people. You won’t find that kind of love anywhere else. The generic versions are nothing but one-dimensional talk.

This blog was brought to you by the letter T for Truth.

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