Hello, friends! Before we get into the new posts for 2013, here’s a look back. Check it out, maybe you missed some. These first five were the most visited posts of 2012 here at Story Warren. Not necessarily the best, but these were viewed the most. This is the fruit of the enviable Popular Vote, which drives a Camaro and has a sweet mustache. I’m an Electoral College man myself, but that’s another story. I grabbed out a quotation from each like a grabbing quotation grabber. I’ve added some more favorites below, after the people have spoken. -Sam
1. Why Story Warren? by S.D.Smith
This is only the most popular post because it was first and has been featured from the beginning and referred back to regularly. But it does lay out who we are and what we are aiming for and uses the cliche Lord of the Rings reference before you can even blink.
“Well, children don’t just aspire to great characters in the aftermath of stories, they inhabit them. They walk away and become what they love. I see such creatures everyday, as I’m sure you do as well. My house overflows with hobbits, cowboys, merry men, and fairy princesses. Our homes are little warrens for stories, with eager bunnies abounding. So, if they indeed become what they love, how important it is that what they inhabit is full of virtue. It is of utmost importance that we are not asleep at the tollbooth on this little avenue of imagination, this person-defining road to our children’s affections.”
2. The Connecticut Shootings: A Letter to My Children by Rebecca Reynolds
Rebecca Reynolds shared from her heart such tenderness and truth, a lovely letter we all needed to read. Rebecca’s way with words is rivaled only by her way with human hearts. This is a beautiful piece worth revisiting with your family every time tragedy, or disturbing evil, appears.
“Fourthly, remember art. Music. Paint. Story. Gardening. These are mighty weapons, and there are many different ways they can be of use to you. Use them to express your grief. Use them to heal others. Use them to escape into an oasis where your broken soul can begin to catch its breath. Use art to make the little world around you beautiful; even if the night grows dark and cold. Remember to pick three violets from among the rubble. Study how precisely they are painted. Hum over the words of a song. Make up a grand tale. Construct within the deconstruction around you.”
3. Speaking of Imagination by Clay Clarkson
This post is what I had in mind when I asked Clay Clarkson if he would honor us by being one of our contributors. Clay has been less a person I’ve tried to pas on the vision for Story Warren to and more a person from whom I have received vision, insight, and so much encouragement. Clay has been a believer since the start. Since before the start. He’s the Gandalf of this gang, without doubt. Coupled with Zach Franzen’s wonderful illustration, this post is typical of Clay’s wisdom and of what Story Warren is about.
“If there is such a thing as imaginationish, it isn’t learned from a workbook. It is grown and cultivated at home in a print-rich environment and verbally-enriched atmosphere, and it is fed with abundant and nutritious words. God—who is the Word, and created us to be people of his Word and of words—has given parents the privilege to create that creative ecosystem. It all starts with words.
Vocabulary is critical to an active imagination. A child’s ability to imagine things beyond their own senses is directly related to the depth and breadth of their vocabulary. It takes little imagination to realize the limitations of limited vocabulary on creativity, or on believing spiritual truths for that matter. However, the more words your child has with which to express himself, the greater will be the scope and intensity of what he can imagine. The stronger your child’s grasp of language, the richer will be her own creativity and ability to wonder about things beyond her five senses.”
4. Dare to Be a Daniel..Or Not? by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Sally has been a wonderful fit for Story Warren because her gifts have been used to keep bringing us back to the Gospel. Our creativity is no cure for the thing that most deeply ails us. Human flourishing is part of the vision for the New World (the coming Kingdom of God), but we must receive the gift of God that is the work of Jesus on our behalf (plus nothing) to be among the people of God. What a gift! Sally keeps pointing us away from ourselves and our ability to get everything right and make God proud of us to the glorious fact of our need for and God’s loving desire to rescue us. Sally’s books are frequent reminders of the same. I’m so glad she’s been a part of Story Warren.
“As a child, even though I was a Christian, I grew up thinking the Bible was filled with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and with heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you). I tried to be good. I really did. I was quite good at being good. But however hard I tried, I couldn’t keep the rules all the time so I knew God must not be pleased with me.
When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done!”
5. Don’t Just Wait by James Witmer
James Witmer has been a Story Warren champion. He has been one of our most consistent contributors both in frequency and content. I can’t imagine having done this without him. He has wisdom, humility, creativity, and wisdom in abundance and it’s a delight to hear from him regularly here. This might not be my favorite of his posts (this one is!), but there are so many to choose from. However, I love this post and the call to heed its wisdom goes right to my heart and hits me exactly where I am as a dad. James does this so often and so well.
“Imagine how it would feel for your daughter to be brushed off, hurried along to bed, or chore time, or school until – after she has found friends who listen, learned to do without your deep interest in her – you realize she is growing up and suddenly want to talk with her. Imagine how you would feel in her place. Would you want to open up, to trust someone like you? Imagine, and you will see how vital it is to listen today. To enjoy her today. To tell him you believe in him today. Imagine your children as young adults; as real people with hopes, a worldview, and character, and you will discover they have been so all along. Love them accordingly, and you may one day find your teenagers returning that love, eager to talk.
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Other popular and notable posts:
Education vs. Intimacy by Randall Goodgame
I’m so thankful for Randy. His heart for ministering to kids through his art is inspiring and his work is beautiful. I’m so thankful he’s on the squad. The SW Squad. I’m very grateful for his friendship and his valuable input into Story Warren.
The Gift of an Outdoor Soul by Sarah Clarkson
Sarah is an amazing writer. She has been for Story Warren a wonderful source of inspiration in reading as well as someone whose writing doesn’t just talk about something like wonder, but whose writing actually invites wonder. I am a huge fan and am excited about whatever she writes.
Singing the True Songs by Alyssa Ramsey
Alyssa has been a huge part of the backbone of Story Warren. She is a wonderful writer with an ability to bring everyday family occurrences to light, light that reflects glory. She is a blessedly ordinary person, with extraordinary sight. I so appreciate her taking us along and showing us what she sees. I’m automatically interested in anything that says “by Alyssa Ramsey.”
Rebel Without a Qualm: The Counterculture of Gratitude by Zach Franzen
Zach, creator of the Story Warren logo, header, and a generous provider of the art you and I have enjoyed here. Zach’s posts are so informative and enjoyable for me, I feel like I’m at once going to college and hearing a song I’ve always known and loved, but didn’t have the words exactly right. I’ve learned so much from Zach and his input has been and continues to be formative and terrain-altering. But I’m way better at cricket.
Lessons form Little People: Life at Child Speed by Alyssa Ramsey
Edward Tulane and the Soft, Sharp Heart of Love by Loren Eaton
Loren has given us our most regular reviews and insights helpful for navigating what we read. Loren’s Tales of Winter have been helpful as we consider what to do with stories containing evil. Loren’s been an on-line friend for many years and I’m very grateful he’s a part of this experiment. I can’t wait to read what else he’s got up his sleeve.
On Guns and Breakfast by David Kern
David has a unique eye for whats afoot at the crossroads of imagination and parenting.By his experience as a dad, a teacher, and growing up in a home where great books and imagination were emphasized, he brings a perspective worthy of note. And we’ll just have to forgive him for being a Notre Dame fan. I guess. Somehow.
Mice That Speak and the Language of Imagination by Andrew Mackay
Co-Captain Andrew Mackay has done a lot of the stuff no one ever sees around here. I’m grateful for Andrew in way more ways than just relating to Story Warren. He’s one of my best friends ever and a great partner. Without him, Story Warren would probably still be just an idea I never executed. He is an executioner. And I mean that in the most Canadian way possible. I love this man.
Use Their Imagination by Clay Clarkson
The Art of Days by Rebecca Reynolds
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What were your favorite posts? (Here or anywhere.)
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Featured Image by Julie Witmer. Not pictured but still awesome (probably too good looking for inclusion): Loren Eaton, Zach Franzen, David Kern, and Andrew Mackay. I’d love to see a photo-shop including these guys.