Children's Books Can Change the World
Guest Blog Post by Anita McLaurin
This article originally appeared in Voyage San Antonio
Today we’d like to introduce you to Anita McLaurin.
Hi Anita, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story. I’ve always been pretty goal minded. My life is full of lists. When I was a teenager, I wrote 100 things I wanted to do in life. I believed that anything was possible. I quickly found out not everyone shared my belief, so I set about achieving my goals. Still determined to take as many people as possible along for the ride, my list became the catalyst for helping others achieve their dreams.
Decades later, I found myself working on my list again. Item number 18 was “become an author.” Because of that, I was at a writers’ conference, and the room was full of banquet tables awaiting the conference attendees.
Trying to find a safe seat, I marched middle right and sat down. This was my third time at the conference, and the VIP seminars never failed to deliver valuable content. Our speaker for this session was David. He was brilliant in business. You know the type—the “numbers” guy. He’d created systems and processes that were simple and well-designed, and they worked. On this day, he was different.
David seemed to move from his normal left-brain dominance to his right brain. He picked up the microphone unhurriedly and began to tell the story of his brother. We’ll call him Bill. Bill was a construction worker who was getting on in years. David tirelessly tried to convince him to learn new skills because he knew that Bill couldn’t maintain that type of physical labor forever.
As David continued, you could hear the compassion in his voice, and tears began to well up in his eyes. Bill didn’t listen. Eventually, he was unable to work because of a serious injury. Now, the consequences of his failure to heed his brother’s warnings were real. Addressing us directly, David asserted, “Your purpose is not optional; it’s necessary.”
My understanding of my purpose started with a conversation.
[I picked up the phone. It was my friend, Karolyn.]
“Karolyn,” I said, “Why do people keep asking me how to do things?”
[She paused for a moment.]
“Well, for as long as I’ve known you, you’re always helping people.”
“Yes, but what in the world makes them think I know?”
“Because you do. And if you don’t know, you’ll find out or send them to someone who does.”
Laughing, I flippantly said, “Maybe my purpose is to help others with their purpose.”
At that moment, I froze.
It was right in my face all along.
Now, I’m thinking, “Okay. I’m supposed to help people with what they’re supposed to do, but how?’
Sometimes you only get part of the picture. Here’s my next part.
Driving home one day, “I heard the Lord say, “My people have forgotten how to dream, so teach them.”
My first thought was, “What in the world?” How was I going to do that? My heart was pounding. I started breathing faster, and my face was HOT! Forget the fact that I had been doing this practically all my life; I was still nervous.
How was I going to do it? Following His lead, my first instruction was to write a book, so I titled it Teach My People to Dream. I had little experience helping someone put a book together, but not much. I knew that I would need help with the process. How do I get started?
Karolyn was already thinking about writing a book, so she introduced me to a 22-day writing challenge that she was a part of. I think I made it through day three. I gave it up. No sense in being challenged to do something I didn’t know how to do. I was going to need more.
Scrolling through Facebook, I saw this ad for a webinar called Write Your Story. The webinar was 90 minutes long and packed full of practical things that I could do immediately. But more importantly, I knew this guy could help me. My next instruction was to sign up for the program.
Going through the information, I sailed through the book proposal, sorted out the topics and chapter titles, finished the chapter outlines, and began to write. I was on top of the world when I finished the first chapter.
This was it! This would be the thing I could use to help others. Chapters two and three came just as easily. After I finished chapter three, the fourth thing that happened was NOTHING. I couldn’t write anything else that made sense. There I was at a standstill.
Has that ever happened to you? You need to meet a goal or something you know you’re supposed to be doing, but you’re unsure how to get there. God told you to do it, but you feel like you don’t know what to do next.
Just wait. The next step is coming.
On the way home from San Francisco, I got an idea for a story. I wrote down the entire storyline when the plane landed in San Antonio. What’s this story for? Was this the thing that I could use to help others?
Then it hit me. This story was about identity. First, you must know who you are. At that moment, I knew this was the message I was supposed to be sharing. This story housed the very principles God had revealed to me, which I had been using all along, totally unaware. On a fundamental level, the fulfilling purpose is as close as what we believe, the words we speak, and our willingness to act.
That simple story became a children’s book. My Father Said I Could is about four siblings with big dreams and overcoming doubt, fear, and naysayers by listening to one steady, comforting voice—the voice of their Father.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
At times, the road to writing this book has been smooth, yet it wasn’t written in the nine months it took me to put it together. The book depicts the early part of my life. While My Father Said I Could is an uplifting account of my childhood, it has a backstory like many stories.
When we were children, our life seemed perfect. I lived with my dad, mom, and three brothers in Detroit, Michigan. Our front porch was where we used to sit and dream of what we would one day become.
Road trips were our thing. We’d cross the Ambassador Bridge into Canada every weekend and go to Rondeau Bay. Rondeau Bay was a kids’ paradise. You could find us camping, fishing, hiking, or boating.
But one weekend, we didn’t go to Rondeau Bay. There were two cars in the driveway, and both were packed. Our once-loving home became nothing more than a house as we went our separate ways.
One day my father was there; the next, he was gone. Divorced! Like so many other children, this sent me into a world I didn’t understand. I was full of fear, confusion, and anger.
The man I had once trusted, the one I thought would be there for me, suddenly was gone. According to the National Center for Fathering, more than 24.7 million or 33% of children live in homes without their biological fathers.
Once the fog cleared a bit and I could think, I realized that even though my father was no longer there to guide me, He had left me with a singular, valuable lesson that would help me navigate life.
“I am not what happened to me; I am what I CHOOSE to become.”
And that’s when things started to change for me. I had a choice to operate from the good or the bad. I chose the good. After some time, I fondly remembered the good things–our home, porch conversations, and our parents' lessons. Most importantly for me, I remembered that my father always told me, “I could.”
So, even though my brothers and I became part of that sad statistic, all was not lost. What preceded was an uplifting book. So many children wander today because they’re missing their fathers. I wanted them to know that a Heavenly Father cared for them whether they had a father in the home or not.
My Father Said I Could teaches five key concepts:
Know who God is,
Know who you are,
Discover God’s purpose for your life,
Focus despite obstacles, and
You’ll find that the treasure is in the message. My Father Said I Could has a multi-generational impact. So, whether you’re a young child discovering your purpose or an adult constantly evolving in yours, this story will inspire you to do great things.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe you can tell us more about your work next? When I wrote the book, obviously, I thought it was for children. However, after almost every presentation, there was an adult asking, “What about us?” As an author, speaker, and coach, I’ve worked with thousands of people who inspire children, young adults, and women. The My Father Said I Could Workshops™ and the ID Effect™ help to reveal who you truly are, freeing you to move toward purpose.
Back at the writers’ conference, I’m waiting for the emcee to call the name of the winner in the children’s book category at the Author Academy Awards. I hear my name being called. I felt like I had just won an all-expense paid trip to the moon. With all of the excitement in the room, I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. The experience was so surreal.
As I floated to the stage, there was thunderous applause. Standing in that moment of appreciation, I understood that it was all necessary. The starts, the stops, the knowing, the not knowing—all of it. Finally settled in my spirit, an overwhelming peace came because I understood what I was supposed to do and who I was supposed to be. It wasn’t outside of me; it was inside all along, awaiting my recognition.
In that place, I understood what David was trying so passionately to convey. Your purpose is not optional; it’s necessary. We’re all interconnected. There are people waiting on you to become who you should be to help them begin the process of moving toward their purpose.
Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out? So many people are looking for purpose and need to understand their identity. The book, Your Secret Name: An Uncommon Quest to Stop Pretending, Shed the Labels, and Discover Your True Identity by Kary Oberbrunner, will help you find freedom from shame, self-limiting beliefs, and masks that keep you stuck.
One of the most prolific writers on the topic of purpose was the late Dr. Myles Monroe. In Pursuit of Purpose is a must-read. This book inspires you to find personal fulfillment and significance by understanding your key decisions.
Many people have goals and dreams, but they get sidelined by distractions. If you want to focus on achieving your goals, check out Kary’s course The Elixir Project Experience https://elixirprojectexperience.com/join/.
My Father Said I Could Hard Cover $19.99
My Father Said I Could Soft Cover $ 9.99
My Father Said I Could Kindle $ 7.99
My Father Said I Could Audio Book $ 3.49
My Father Said I Could Coloring Book $ 5.99