It has been my absolute delight to be working in the world of children’s literature these last—almost–twenty years. It started with writing simple stories, leading to longer ones with plot lines and chapter breaks. It blossomed when my first son was born and he was (still is) a child who gobbles stories, eating them for both dinner and dessert. His delight in a book is tremendous, and being a mama who loves words, and languages, it was a perfect naptime match—he napped and dreamt of other worlds, and I wrote.
Fast forwarding many years, and many stories. Now, I sit here at my desk, marveling at the winding road God has paved for me. Not a road of financial success and worldly gain, but a road where truths have been discovered, where my obedience has been tested, and where a longing for potato chips has become an obvious sign that I need to get back to work! It’s still true, after all these years, that I like stories, but it’s even more true that I like children, and it’s triply true that I love Christ. And as an artist, that is how I try to live out my days. Liking stories, but loving Christ.
For many years I had the honor of not only writing, but being part of a team that acquired, edited and produced children’s books. I was able to work with dozens of authors to help shape their stories. To me this was a little taste of heaven, and I’m grateful I had that time rooting others on. It taught me that Community is a powerful thing. That joining forces, producing a book, or doing any sort of work together, makes something better than what could be done alone. We are the body of Christ.
Orthodox children deserve beautiful words and images to inspire them, don’t you think? We should labor over every aspect of a book for these children who openly (or even reluctantly) are led into that land of saint or story. That is my joy, knowing the potential is there to inspire deeper thinking or change a heart. Yes, the heart! We must, as parents and guardians, as teachers and grandfathers, nurture the minds and hearts of children, with loving time together, and with stories that build deep faith in a little one…
Liking stories, but loving Christ. If we, as a community of writers and illustrators and book designers and publishers, can keep Christ before the story, then we will accomplish exactly what God intends. We will be part of a team that changes real, beating and feeling hearts! And in that work, my heart will also be changed. For the stories that flow from my pen are not mine alone. God helps, aids, teaches, inspires, gives me courage. His hand appears when least expected, and I try to keep a prayer begging for His presence on my lips when I’m working—it sounds a lot like this: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!
My ultimate goal is to be completely, fully, totally enveloped by Christ, and becoming the Jane that God has envisioned. And if there are still stories to write as I become that Jane, then you can bet that I’ll be here at my desk, praying the Jesus prayer, rooting on my fellow workers and their stories, and dreaming about little ones and their beautiful hearts.
Jane G Meyer is a children’s book author and editor. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband and three children, where they attend Saint Athanasius Orthodox Church. Her next book due out is The Hidden Garden: A Story of the Heart, and will be published by Conciliar Press in the fall of 2012. You can see more about Jane on her website, www.janegmeyer.com —she also blogs about bread baking at www.janegmeyer.wordpress.com, hoping to inspire others to stretch and give just a little more, and she welcomes you to be part of her community of friends on Facebook, where she shares her blog posts, snippets of her life, and photos…