It Is a Joy for Authors to Receive Letters From Children
have been living for the last two days with the news from my surgeon
that I am cancer-free. I also have no thyroid gland any longer and will
have to take a supplement for the rest of my life. (This is the only
pharmaceutical I am on—unfortunately, a point of pride—some people are
grateful for the prescriptions that make their maladies bearable). My
doctor also informed me that they “shoehorned” out a cystic nodule the
size of a tennis ball. (“Really?” challenged the patient.) My ENT
physician left the room to fetch his smartphone in order to come back
and show David and me the proof.
I will spare you the
graphic photo of the nodule resting on my neck while I was under
general anesthesia. I didn’t spare my adult children, however. Melissa
Timberlake, our daughter, keeps commenting that it is one thing to see
a photo of a nodule that size, but when you know that it has been in
your own mother, that’s a different matter. OK, OK. Just wanting a
wooziness in my head ended a couple days ago, and apart from being
somewhat watchful, I am back into a work schedule (walked a mile this
morning just to see if I was ready to return to my exercise protocol—I
What I am basically feeling in these days of
post-recovery is gratitude. Gratitude that I can look back on 71 years
of life and say that I have not wasted the days that were given to me.
Gratitude that I have walked faithfully with the Lord my God and He has
granted me the favor of working alongside David all the years of our
marriage (53) given to ministry. I have known intimacy with Christ, the
power of the Holy Spirit, and the benevolence of my Heavenly Father. We
gave birth to four children who have given us nothing but joy. Some of
the circumstances of their lives have brought us pain, but the
character of our offspring continually amazes us.
this Kickstarter Campaign in which we are seeking to raise $22,500 to
revise, re-illustrate and republish the three prize-winning books of
the Kingdom Tales Trilogy, I
have been forced to visit the files of letters I’ve kept over the years
from readers of the books. This has absolutely humbled me.
joy for authors to receive letters from children, like this one written
on lined school notebook paper, and the envelope addressed with a
Dear David and Karen Mains,
name is Calvin. I am seven years old. I love your Tales of the Kingdom
series. I read it at lunch every day. My favorite book is Tales of the
Resistance. I like it because it has a lot of action.
Did you get the fact that Calvin is seven years old?
It is a joy to receive letters like the next one, handwritten by the son of close friends when he was in his early teens:
Dear Uncle David and Aunt Karen,
read your second book! It’s gotta be one of the best books I’ve ever
read! I really want to encourage you guys to write a third! The
concepts and principles as well as the excitement and adventure make it
fantastic, but I could have expected that when two geniuses like you
get together! Right now I’m on a plane over Utah writing this letter
after just finishing reading your book. I’m dying to know what happens
with Amanda and Hero!—so please hurry and write another one! I just
want you to know what you’re doing in my point of view is really going
to benefit the Kingdom! Keep up the good work!
TO THE KING! TO THE RESTORATION!
Did you get the fact that Shadd (who now has his own adult novel circulating with an agent) was in his teens when he wrote this?
I weep when I receive letters like the following typed on professional stationery:
books “Tales of the Kingdom” and “Tales of the Resistance” have meant a
great deal to me and the people I help. I am a Christian psychologist
working with Satanic abuse victims, most of whom were raised in
multi-generational cults. One of the ways I have found to reach into
their shattered lives is to read to them out of your books. Now,
reading stories may not seem like your vision of psychotherapy, but
since I encounter many cases of [dissociative identity disorder], it is
necessary to do quite a bit of re-parenting and teaching. Your moving
stories provide a deeply stirring way to reach this need. Enclosed is a
drawing that Mary E—one survivor—drew about story time at my office.
She identified with many of the characters but none more than the girl
in the pig pen. Doubletalk seemed all too familiar, but it was good to
know that the King knew about such things.
lived a life of terror and isolation. She eventually developed a
fantasy world of her own. Her idea of God and mine were very different.
God touched her soul when the King entered the world of the carnival in
your story—even if I had trouble making the sound effects like
Did you notice the age of the
writer and the clients he was helping? They were all adults. Going
through these old files, I remembered in a fresh way that I had
deliberately written these books for “children of all ages” (good
children’s literature is always loved by children and by teens and by
adults). I was humbled to realize that I had obviously achieved
this purpose—I stopped, sucked in my breath and felt totally
Today, this note came in my e-mail from Rev. Beth S. Hoyt:
have loved your Tales of the Kingdom series of books for many years! I
have shared them with small groups, churches, and my own family, and
they have touched my life in many ways.
thought I’d let you know that this summer I am reading your book aloud
to my small group on Wednesday evenings. I have developed questions to
go with every story, and we are having some great discussions. I am the
pastor of a mainline church, and one of the challenges in my
denomination is giving people a language to talk about their own faith.
Using your stories as our guide we are able to do some good reflection
on our own faith journeys, and some amazing things are happening in my
group, which has more than its share of “heroes.”
would be happy to share my discussion questions with you, if you have
any interest. Otherwise please just accept my gratitude for the words
you have written that continue to be life-giving to so many!
some of you have never read these three books—you’ve discounted them as
“children’s tales”—and indeed they are, but they are stories that are
for children of all ages. You might want to reconsider, borrow some
copies, buy some copies (online), or become a Backer for our
Kickstarter Campaign (ending August 4) and pre-order product. Who
knows?—you just might become like this family one woman wrote about: “I have wonderful memories of my husband reading these books to our daughters, often all of them with tears in their eyes.”
Hah! I have life ahead of me left—perhaps another book for the Kingdom Tales series—and to quote another literary favorite, Sancho Panza from The Man of La Mancha, “On to more misadventures!”
of this writing, July 24, our Kickstarter Campaign with some 100 Backers
have pledged $21,944 toward our goal of $22,500 to revise,
re-illustrate and republish The Kingdom Tales Trilogy. Beyond
this goal, we move into what Kickstarter calls "Stretch Goals." Our
final Stretch Goal is $27,750. Any such extra monies will allow us to
create extra "Tales" projects—the battle story “Princess Amanda and the Dragon,” for
instance, will be reprinted as a standalone book with the wonderful
artwork of Irina Voloshina, an artist from Moldova.
are two ways you can help us: The first is just write a check to
Mainstay Ministries and tag it for the “Artists Fund” and snail-mail it
to Hungry Souls, Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187. You will receive a receipt
for this but no product. We will use this contribution to complete the
work needed on the Kingdom Tales republishing project.
Or you can go to the Kickstarter page, https://bit.ly/KickstartTales
(this is a shortcut link). This is a pre-order and you will receive
product before Christmas but no receipt. This has been an exciting
campaign. We are eager to see how it ends.
had a little time to be quiet, pray and listen, I’ve decided that I
need to lead TWO Listening Groups, beginning in October. The first will
be for four listeners who have journeyed in a Listening Group with me
before. The second will be a group for men. These will meet once a
month, going from October 2014 through July 2015, and will be 2.5 hours
long. There is no preparation required and no assignments will be
given. If you are interested, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listening Groups have been designed to expand our capacity to listen to
one another, listen to what God is whispering to our hearts and listen
to the Holy Spirit as He works through the capacity of a group coming
together to—guess what?—listen. Over the last six years, in one form or
another, I’ve led some 150 Listening Groups, and I am convinced that
God created us to be listeners—something most of us don’t do very well.
The Soulish Food e-mails are
posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web
site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to
register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.
had deliberately written these books for 'children of all ages' (good
children’s literature is always loved by children and by teens and by
adults). I was humbled to realize in that I had obviously achieved this
purpose—I stopped, sucked in my breath and felt totally overwhelmed.”
The Goodness Connection
private treasure-hunt I’ve engaged in for most of my writing life is to
uncover, discover, forage around, sniff out works that are dropped into
popular culture in which the theme is that of goodness. If you haven’t
noticed, a lot of film and a lot of literature is focused on what’s
bad, mean, disastrous and ugly. Having read Jonathan Franzen’s book Freedom
(in order to dialogue with the same Shadd quoted above, but now a young
man with his own children), I realized again why I don’t like much of
the Eastern publishing establishment’s standard of great writing. Shadd
recommended Freedom; I restrained myself on countless occasions from throwing it across the room.
In the same week, pre-thyroid surgery, David and I slipped away to catch a film highly recommended by my grandchildren, Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley, Adam Levin and Mark Ruffalo. Here is an online review:
latest film from writer-director John Carney (ONCE), BEGIN AGAIN is a
soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make
beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time
boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting
partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major
label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to
stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world
takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced
record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village
stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance
encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative
collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.
In the middle of the film, David leaned over to me and said, “This is your kind of movie, isn’t it?” Yep,
I nodded back. However, after having spent a good part of the week
angrily analyzing the Franzen novel, I took a hard look at this
“soul-stirring comedy” and realized that it classified for my “goodness
connection” list. If you can stand the F-bomb being thrown about every
10 seconds (I hate it, wince and close my ears), there is a thread of
goodness surrounding the young woman Greta that unwinds in kind of a
breath-catching way throughout the whole film. See if you can find it.
Good things happen around her because she chooses to be good. She finds
a moral certitude that influences a monumental and revolutionary
decision at the end of the film.
For me, caught up in my
younger years with the trappings of celebritism in the small world of
evangelical publishing and broadcasting, and finally, feeling rather
fed up with the ego this small world threatened to feed in me, I really
“get” one of the unstated messages of this film: Success can wound, if
not destroy, the soul.
Give it a try. It just may be your kind of movie.