Emma was one of 17 kids ranging from 7th grade to high school senior to be awarded honorable mention at Kent State University last night. We’re in the Northeast Ohio Writing Region for the Scholastic Writing Awards. Nationally, more than 80,000 students participate. Fifteen percent get honorable mention, ten percent are given a Silver key and five percent are honored with the Gold Key Award. Emma’s friends, Alexandra Morar and Madison Lucansky, joined her on the ground floor with honorable mentions. Her friend Anna Sherman shot right to the top with a Gold Key award! Kudos to their teachers, Joyce Zitkovich and Marli Brocker.
As the kids were walking up to read the Golden Line from their work that had been chosen by the judges (great idea!), I experienced a mixture of great pride and a tiny bit of envy. Maybe envy isn’t the right word. Basically I was feeling sorry for myself. My daughter was getting an award for writing at the tender age of 12, and I hadn’t written anything that wasn’t a mandatory assignment until I was 39. If only I had the same encouragement that these kids have. There are so many skills that I need to develop – so many circles of influence to help foster my dream. If God really wants me to be a writer, why didn’t he get me started much earlier in life?
Then I remembered the high school teacher, Mrs. Fusco, who had taken an interest in me. There’s the college professor at Youngstown State University who read my essay to the class my freshman year. And then there’s the song I had written for our wedding that my wife didn’t hear until the ceremony, and many people congratulated me on the lyrics. The prodding was there, I just wasn’t interested in chasing after it.
God brought to mind the discussion the young adult group from our church, that I lead, had on Wednesday evening about why churches in our country lack the growth and excitement found in Asia and Africa. One suggestion was that it’s too easy for us. We don’t have faith because we don’t need it to live our version of Christianity. A Christian in China lives a risked-filled experience just by being a Christian, and the church there is growing like mad.
Christians in Western culture have to be pro-active in our faith. Opportunities to stretch our faith won’t be forced on us so we have to be on the lookout for them. Our goal for this week is for the young adults to ask God to reveal what risk it is that he wants them to take. I can’t wait to hear what they have to share.
By the way, it’s never too late to start. I hear that C. S. Lewis didn’t write a book until he was 40 (Now I’m a true writer. I quoted C. S. Lewis.). Moses returned to Egypt at 80 years old and Abraham didn’t have a son ’til he hit triple digits.
Well done, Emma. There is courage in being a writer because you put a little bit of yourself out there for scrutiny with everything you produce, and rejection in this field is rampant. I pray that you take that pursuit for adventure with you in your Christian journey as well. And I hope that some more of it rubs off on me.