By Amy Parker, Crosswalk.com
For almost twenty years now, I’ve been writing books for children and families, watching how their needs change and grow, and discovering the character of the God who loves us so. In hopes of reassuring you in your own journey—and maybe saving you a couple decades of work—here are seven simple facts that I’ve discovered to be true about life, faith, family, and this world that is not our home.
1. God will use you if you’ll get out of His way.
From the beginning of my career, I had a plan, a dream. I didn’t consult God too much about His; I just set about making my dream come true to be a real editor at a big publishing house in New York. To that, God said, “Pbbbbthhht.” (My translation.) Not long into my career as a young editor in Nashville, my position was eliminated. I was relegated to a contract editor position—a position that allowed me to stay home with my kids and take on writing projects, two things that I didn’t even know I needed. But God showed me. And He used me—once I got out of His way.
2. Kids need to hear God’s Word early and often.
I have written a lot of board books—those sturdy books with thick pages for little hands. And while I enjoy writing for the older crowd, too, I never cease to marvel at the impact those “baby” books have on growing minds. A mom once wrote that “night night” was her daughter’s first sentence, a repeating phrase in one of my Night Night books. Another told me that her daughter folds her hands to pray because of a scene in one of my books. They are listening, mamas. They are looking, daddies. Never underestimate the power of what you are reading to your kids.
3. God’s Word will not return void.
Some of my books have sold like hotcakes, and some have, well, not. But anytime I get caught up in the numbers, I remind myself of Isaiah 55:11: “My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do” (HCSB). So, what do book sales have to do with parenting? Let’s look at the numbers. How many times have you gotten them ready for church? Prayed for them on the way to school? Read a Bible story to them? Helped them memorize a Bible verse? All of those efforts, that time, when filled with God’s Word, will not return void. It’s a promise.
4. It’s not all up to you.
Repeat after me, “It’s not all up to me. It is not all up to me.” Don’t get me wrong: God can use you. God will use you. But God doesn’t expect you to do His work. The Holy Spirit was sent to be our Helper here on earth (John 14:16), to help us in our weakness, to speak to God on our behalf when we can’t even find the words (Romans 8:26). As an author, I am all too familiar with feeling too small for the task at hand, but then I am reminded, “It’s not all up to me.” God has given us everything we need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). How about we use it?
5. Perfection is an impossible standard.
Every book you hold in your hands has gone through multiple layers of editing (I hope). In a traditional publishing house, an editor reads over the general content for organization and flow. There’s a copyeditor who looks at it line-by-line for grammar, syntax, and word usage. Then there are proofers—usually multiple proofers—who read every mark on the page, looking for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and design errors. Then, there’s an editor who oversees that whole process. So how in the world do we still end up with typos in books? See number 4. Total perfection is an impossible standard for professional editors, for children, and for you. There has only been one perfect person on this planet, and unless you’re Him, perfection is an impossible standard. We should absolutely strive for His example, but we should also learn from His grace.
6. Kids are precious to Jesus.
When all the adults were crowding around Jesus, when the disciples were shooing the kids away, Jesus quickly corrected them, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:15–17 NIV). I know we’ve heard that passage a hundred times, I know we’ve seen it illustrated in pastels, but have you ever really considered the depth of its meaning? As a children’s author—and as a parent—this passage gives me pause. Am I showing children the way to Jesus? Am I doing anything to hinder them? And have I received—do I daily receive—the kingdom of God like a little child?
7. Working with children changes the world.
When I’m among writers and asked what I write, I’ll admit that my answer doesn’t earn me any extra accolades. Writing for children, working with children, can easily be brushed off as easy or less important. Maybe that’s why when a mama says, “Oh, I’m just a stay-at-home mom,” I stop dead in my tracks. That’s like saying, “Oh, I just rule the free world.” Parents, this crazy world has somehow skewed the importance of our roles, so let me make it clear: you literally hold the future in your hands. What do you want the world to look like? What values do you want it to have? You not only have the opportunity to embody those values yourself, of course, but also to shape and train those values into our future as well. What we teach our children, our ideals and practices, our habits and disciplines, what we hold as sacred and holy and true, will quite literally, unquestionably, irrevocably change the world. Let’s make it a good one.
Photo credit: © Getty Images/evgenyatamane
Amy Parker has written more than seventy books for children, teens, and adults, with more than 2 million copies sold. She has collaborated with authors ranging from New York Times bestsellers to her very own son. Two of these collaborations—Firebird and Courageous Teens—are recipients of Christian Retailing’s Best Awards. But Amy’s greatest reward is being a wife to Daniel and a mom to their amazing sons, Michael and Ethan. Check out Amy’s latest release God is Giving and her other releases.