A Fabulous Furry Fable! (Encouragement for Creators)

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Here’s the tale of a talented natural scientist, conservationist and wildlife artist, who wrote and illustrated a whimsical little book which no publisher wanted.

Helen Potter was born in 1866, into a prosperous Unitarian family. As a child, Helen and her younger brother Walter played with a menagerie of small animals that included rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife. The two frequently studied the shapes and habits of their furry friends, and soon began to sketch them. This marked the beginning of Helen’s love of nature and the countryside, and it later shaped both her education and her avocation.

Helen privately studied languages, literature, and history with her governess, but natural science became her passion. She spent hours illustrating insects, mushrooms, and fossils she found. She eventually graduated to painting a variety of animals, both real and imagined, in watercolors. During her early twenties, Helen realized she could earn money by printing and selling greeting cards featuring her artwork, so she produced a series of color Christmas cards adorned with her illustrations of mice and rabbits. A year or two later, she realized she could illustrate children’s books.

In September 1893, while vacationing in Scotland, Helen wrote a letter to one of the children of her former governess, a young boy named Noel, who’d been ill. When she ran out of things to tell Noel, she started telling him a story about four little rabbits and their adventures. Helen liked her impromptu story, and in 1900, she decided to revise the tale and try to place it with a publisher. She had definite ideas regarding the size of the book, as well as how the text and illustrations should be laid out; so she created a little homemade booklet of the story, complete with her watercolors of cute rabbits, to promote her ideas to potential publishers.

Helen approached every book company she could think of — including the firm of Frederick Warne. They all said NO! Warne and Company was more eloquent, though: we don’t want your “bunny book”! Following a year of rejections, Helen decided to publish her little book herself, in a very limited black and white edition which she distributed among her friends and family, who in turn shared the book with a few of their own friends. Eventually, an old friend of Helen’s family saw the book, and asked if he might try to find a publisher.

He made the rounds of all the major publishing houses, encountered the same disinterest, and ended up back at Frederick Warne & Company, where L. Leslie Brooke, a prominent children’s book artist who worked for Warne, saw Helen’s self-published book and recommended it to his employers. After months of stalling, Warne finally, and perhaps even grudgingly, agreed to publish the book — in color and according to Helen’s specifications — but only in a small print run. So, on October 2, 1902, nearly a decade after she’d conceived an entirely new type of fable, one featuring anthropomorphic animals who still retained the appearance and characteristics of real animals, Helen’s children’s book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was finally published.

Helen Beatrix Potter’s little book was an immediate success, and quickly went through five additional printings to meet the demand for what ultimately became the first in a series of 23 fabulous furry fables. Our personal favorites are The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester.

More than a century later, the entire series is still in print, still popular, and Frederick Warne is still the publisher of these very profitable books. And The Tale of Peter Rabbit recently provided the inspiration for a hit movie. Not bad for a “bunny book” and it’s sequels!

“Behold, I am doing a new thing…. I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19 ESV)

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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (Diet for Dreamers)

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Recording artist John Waller once stated, “Each person has his or her own challenges, life issues, and difficulties and if we could pull back the curtain and see backstage into the real lives of each person, you would see a more accurate picture. You would see how people really get through their daily lives, the decisions they make, and even the why behind the choices they make. Ultimately, when everything is stripped away, it comes down to FAITH.”

We’ve frequently mentioned the importance of faith in the life of the dreamer, the goal seeker and, really, anyone who wants the best possible future. Often the road to reaching our desired goals is long and riddled with the potholes of adversity. Faith is the premium fuel that ensures we don’t “run out of gas” long before we finish our journey in life.

Having faith in something (or someone) means putting your complete trust in it. People almost always let you down — they are, after all, only human — but God never fails. So, who are you trusting with your future and well-being?  Are you entrusting your dreams and goals to the God of the Universe?

Having faith that God will enable us to realize our hopes and dreams means we accept their fulfillment as a “done deal.” And although trusting God seems simple enough, there’s actually a bit more to it.

Having faith sounds easy — until we don’t see anything happening. Months and even years can go by, with nothing to indicate that we’re any closer to reaching our dreams. For a man or woman of real faith, this is where the rubber meets the road.

As A.W. Tozer points out, there is active (genuine) faith and passive faith: “True faith is not passive but active. It requires that we meet certain conditions, that we allow the teachings of Christ to dominate our total lives from the moment we believe.” (In the Dwelling Place of God) In other words, if our faith is genuine, we’ll LIVE LIKE WE BELIEVE IT! We’ll also be able to wait patiently for God’s promises, whether His promises are the fulfillment of a dream, the salvation of a loved one, or the answer to some other prayer.

John Waller waited 17 years for God to fulfill his dream of writing and performing contemporary Christian music. Waller, a Georgia native, started as the frontman for the musical group According to John. All the right people started noticing his talent, and he seemed to be on his way. But then the group disbanded. Waller’s dream was suddenly put on hold — indefinitely, for all he knew.

Waller had to wait in faith…a very long time. Waiting takes faith — real faith — and like faith, waiting is active and never passive. Passive waiting (in passive faith) is just marking the days like a prisoner in a cell: feeling down, whining, wanting the dream to come true while acting like you’re not really sure if it will.

Active waiting (in active faith) means staying positive, being thankful, always doing the right thing, and generally being about God’s daily “business.” After all, if you were waiting to close on a commercial business deal, would you just sit and think about that one deal — or would you be out taking care of your existing business interests?

Waller chose to be active while he waited. He and his wife moved to Colorado and helped launch Southlink Church. Although Waller had put his  dream of being a recording artist on hold, he spent some of his time writing songs for worship services in the new church. “Suddenly” — in God’s perfect timing — Waller found his way back on the radar of influential people. Provident Music Group signed Waller to a contract, and then introduced the talented singer/songwriter to a wider audience that led to a national platform for his music. Waller went on to write and perform the song “While I’m Waiting”  in the movie Fireproof, the most popular independent film of 2008.

“God always provides,” Waller once stated. “He always comes through and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that God’s plan for each one our lives is not going to look like someone else’s. …God has a unique plan for me. I’ve had to learn to not compare myself to someone else and it’s hard not to do that especially in this industry. You want to measure your success by what you see others doing. …I’ve had to let that go and know that I am successful … by God’s standard and not by man.”

Waiting on a dream? Trust in God’s perfect timing, and focus on doing His will. Jesus said, Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13 King James) Then answers to your prayers will come. In fact, good things come to those who wait (actively)!

“He called ten servants of his, and gave them [resources] and told them, ‘Conduct business until I come.'” (Luke 19:13 World English Bible)

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