I was browsing in our college’s library one day and picked up a tiny book titled Grace. It was a tear-jerker about a runaway girl and a young boy who hides her away in his backyard. Her world was too painful for her to live in and too painful for the boy to imagine. After I cried myself through to the end, I found notes in the back of the book about a charity that the author, Richard Paul Evans, started called The Christmas Box. His work, both as an author and as a philanthropist, is ironically aligned to the mission of Junior Auxiliary. His stories are usually about children and their struggles. His charity serves children in need.
I brought up Richard Paul Evans as a possible speaker for our Area Meetings at an NAJA Education Committee meeting and all of the committee members agreed that he would make a dynamic speaker! Over the next few months, I read as many of Richard Paul Evans’ books as I could put my hands on – The Locket, The Gift, The Letter, The Timepiece, The Sunflower, and of course, The Christmas Box. The Christmas Box was a book Evans wrote to his own children and self-published long before big publishers were chasing him with contracts.
At our first Area Meeting in Memphis, TN, the NAJA representatives who were in town met in the lobby of the hotel for dinner. Up walked Richard Paul Evans with the biggest smile on his face! He was along for the ride. We made it downtown to the Flying Fish where he ordered the biggest plate of southern goodness you’ve ever seen. Across the street at the Peabody, we were celebrities right along with him, as people realized who he was and knew of his books!
I’ve been reading his books ever since, and gave them as Christmas gifts this past year. He offered an outrageously affordable price for a case of The Christmas Box from his original self-published stash if you would only agree to give them away. What I found out is that this guy is the real deal. He’s not overcome with celebrity. He’s kind and really does do for others as much as for himself. He’s a family man who loves his wife and children. And, he posts on his own Facebook wall!
Recently he asked his Facebook friends to weigh in on their favorite quotes from his books that might be seen on t-shirts or on tiles in the future. I’ll post them here so you can enjoy them too.
# 1. “It is in the darkest skies that stars are best seen.” – RPE
#2. “The most important story we will ever write in life is our own—not with ink, but with our daily choices.”– RPE
#3 “We do not succeed in spite of our challenges and difficulties, but rather, precisely because of them.”– RPE
# 4 “Chocolate is God’s apology for broccoli.” – RPE
#5 “To fly, you must first accept the possibility of falling.”– RPE
#6. “It is in the dark times that the light of friendship shines brightest.”- RPE
#7. “Sometimes to move forward we must be willing to look back.”– RPE
#8. “There would be less suffering in this world if humanity would learn this one truth:
It is not what we receive but what we give that heals us.”– RPE
#9. “Usually life’s greatest gifts come wrapped in adversity.”– RPE
#10. “There are none so impoverished as those who do not acknowledge the abundance of their lives” – RPE
These 3 are so often quoted they will be put on plaques.
“We are worthy. Worthy of life. Worthy of
love. Worthy of kindness and gentleness.
We are not some mistake of God or nature.”
“Believe. Believe in your destiny and the star from which it shines. Believe you have
been sent from God as an arrow pulled from his own bow. It is the single universal trait which the great of this earth have all shared, while the shadows are fraught with ghosts who roam the winds with mournful wails of regret on their lips. Believe as if your life depended upon it, for indeed it does.”
“We can spend our days bemoaning our losses, or we can grow from them. Ultimately the choice is ours. We can be victims of circumstance or masters of our own fate, but make no mistake, we cannot be both.”
Richard Paul Evans is one of the Good Guys! I’ll keep buying his books as long as he writes them. I hope you will too. P.S. He really liked the Gumbo and Fried Green Tomatoes.