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Andrew Peterson: Fueling Your Kids’ Imagination

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2022 10:00 pm

Andrew Peterson: Fueling Your Kids’ Imagination

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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June 14, 2022 10:00 pm

Musician and author Andrew Peterson chats about fueling kids' imagination and creativity to open doors for the Kingdom of God.

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The church has produced the best and most beautiful works of art that the world is ever known and I think that's actually still happening now is just not always what people know about. In America you know it's like there is this undercurrent of amazing novelists and and writers that don't broadcast the fact that the Christians necessarily but they are in their selling really good and meaningful seeds welcome to family life today where we want to help you first few relationships that matter most and Wilson Dave Wilson and you can find us if we live or on our family life, family life today while we have Andrew Peterson in the family live studio with us today welcome the family of Andrew, thanks for having you.

I don't even know this. How many times have you been on family life. Oh, I don't know either.

It's been a long time yet. It's been a while. I feel like we did the cruise few years back, and before that manner. I've been doing music for like 20 some odd years and so it I'm sure I popped in quite a bit over the years were excited to have you think you yes so I made a lot of our listeners know you as an artist or writer, a songwriter, a singer we've been listening to your music all day, since filling our house which is been awesome in an author and but you know, most importantly your your husband and a dad. How many years you been married how many kids 26 years now about to be 27 and we have three kids who are 23 almost 22 and 19, two boys and a girl.

Both boys got married within a month of each other last this past summer to new daughters-in-law was who we love dearly.

That's kinda kind of just hit into Nestor phase in about eight last year.

So which is weird because they keep coming home, so I don't know you guys yes we we we figured out that if we offer them free food than they show up and that's all good but is been so fun to see Jamie, who we homeschooled the kids. I say we she homeschooled the kids worked really hard for many many years and I mean this is our first year to not have to like do lesson planning and as we were in a co-op so she had to come to go and teach other people's kids sometimes. And like she is just flowered into my five told people empty Nestor Jamie is my favorite Jamie having the best time not having to do all that stuff so yeah were were really loving the season that's really fine. What's interesting to you because we've been listening to your story. I know that you guys got married so young you are 19 and Jamie was 21. Well we got engaged when I was 19. She was 21.

We got married when I was 20. Yeah, she was so we are still in college. She was a senior.

I was a sophomore and yet we just, liked each other. Holland loved each other were like why would we wait. It was weird. I remembered I've told the story before but her dad who's this great guy for some reason wasn't crazy about his 22-year-old daughter getting engaged to a 19-year-old singer-songwriter guy was a problem with that anything how you get a live yeah I was like Larry have got a job at Baskin-Robbins right now I'm a part-time youth pastors can be fun. I have got the songs.

So anyway, now that I'm a dad of a 19-year-old girl.

I completely get it. I don't think it was a bad thing for us at all.

We loved it, and no regrets.

It's really fun because the you know we we had kids fairly young to man to be 47 and to have the potential of grandchildren coming down the line is pretty. We want to talk today about just imagination. Obviously what you do as a songwriter and author comes from this past in this journey, which is something I resonated with as you were influenced early in your life by the dark side of the moon, no man know what I'm talking about you think Floyd and Skynyrd and journey and I got fascinate because I'm guitar player played in bands I played all those songs growing up. And so I also had this tension as I was listening that my mom was drill me I shouldn't be listening.

That talk about that because you brought this Rich Mullins influence you talk about it. Interesting combination. Walk us through that lecture to that because you even talked about Andrew in college he went to Bible college thinking that you need to learn how to argue that Christian that he had this artistic side that's I mean, that took you into the arts and you had that dilemma that they was talking about. Yeah, I think a lot of for me was grown-up pastors kid growing up in a small community in North Florida. The typical pretty healthy southern Christian upbringing but it was also very cultural Christianity right and so I somehow managed to not really know Jesus terribly well understand some of the basic things about the gospel.

Namely, the fact that God loved me, you know III understood that in an academic sense. Yes, God loves us but I didn't really believe it.

You know I was mainly scared of him and so church to me and in Scripture Christianity in general was something that I kind of just accepted it and it made a kind of sense to me. And God made sense to me.

You know, but then the idea that there was the sexual person named Jesus, you know that that was pursuing me in and loved me dearly, knew me knew the mess that I was in love me anyway that was something that hadn't hit me yet and so part of the disconnect for me was that the thing that was waking my heart up. Was this all this music. It was Pink Floyd and you know Skynyrd and sometimes as classical music but were good movies or or fantasy novel luxury.

I felt this like this, butterflies in my stomach when I would read that a certain kind of story and wasn't until I was older that I read CS Lewis is surprised by Joy his memoir about how he came to faith really and he talks about that same thing that feeling that some works of art they can open a door and us right and sometimes we can hear Jesus calling to us through those works of art. That's not to say that they supplant Scripture by any stretch but all of creation belongs to him. And so for me to think, to grow up in the situation where according to our paradigm.

It was like well rock 'n' roll that music is probably dangerous, were generally regarded with suspicion. There are some dangerous things about it. To be fair, but also that doesn't matter nearly as much a Sunday school and so I felt as a young man very confused because I was being told that I ought to feel a certain way about church but I didn't feel it and that I ought not feel a certain way about certain kinds of music or art, but I did feel it. And so that journey of reconciling those two things has been Rich Mullins was the connecting tissue for me. What I heard you say was you. Your friend wanted you to learn a Rich Mullins song so he could sing it, and Jonathan happened. I think that the Holy Spirit use that song to help me to draw me to himself. It was this uncle if I stand and I had never really listen Rich Mullins before I was very it's funny, and in the way that my parents were suspicious of the music I like.

I was suspicious of Christian music sounds dangerous. It could be really bad and cheesy so I took the tape into the church late one night and learned the song and heard Rich's scratchy imperfect voice and I heard his wonderful use of language in poetry and I heard that the way he talked about Jesus helped me believe that Jesus was really there. You know, and so there something about his music that can adjust it was like I was in the forest and so and his music.

Kind of like showed me a path through and Jesus was at the end of the trail that make sense yeah so so that the guy remember not long after that kind is saying to God if if there's any way that I could make somebody else feel that way then if you let me.

I'd love to do it and then the same thing happened later with CS Lewis I just said, oh Lord, I love the way these stories help us to know you a little bit better and if there's a way that I could tell a story they could do that for some kid I'd love to do. So how did you tap into your imagination. I mean, obviously here in that journey that was part of how God made Andrew Peterson. You know I you as I was listening to the address they can boy the day I came to Christ in the middle of my college days was at a concert is a long story but I sorta thought Christian music was sorta not very good, sorta cheesy. It wasn't done well because that's what I'd experience a church and I was invited to hear this Christian band and I can remember it right now like it was yesterday and sit in this gymnasium at a college and a member thinking they're really good. There's skilled, they're excellent players. The songs are there singing are very creative and very profound, and I walked forward to give a life pricing until he just said that I never connected probably the. The fact that music was part of that salvation message for me connected the dots that I want to give my left Christ so I got hurt a little bit of that in your gallery.

So what did I bring alive in you because now you're doing that well yeah I mean the biggest thing was that once I realized how good the good news was and you know that's an ongoing thing. The more we know Christ them, the better he is and so I just was like man if if I grew up in the church and I missed this thing then surely other people are in the same boat and I can't wait to tell them about you know CS Lewis talked also about how the Narnia books like they were a way of smuggling the truth, past people's watchful dragons and I love that idea that we we especially now think a lot of people think they know what Christianity is, you know, and so they've written it off and so it makes our job as artists harder and also more crucial because it's like a really good movie. A really good story has a way of surprising people you know with the truth in a and I don't you know mean smuggling it in as if like it. It won't work if were were going over workers can write a story in order to sneak in all past the walls. That's not how it works. You got right the great story and trust that a good story can do this thing that the Holy Spirit is in charge of not me, you know. And so, as a Christian if were making art and were surrendered to the mystery of what it means to make something which it's all thanks to the Lord.

We get to do this, then you also can have to come to terms with the fact that what he intends to do with your work is not your business, you know you got a go. I have some things that I hope he does. But it's not up to me. The only thing I'm in charge of his being obedient with the gifting and I can work really hard and I can dig in and do the thing. But after that it's on him. I know as a mom, even as a young girl like I was consumed with books because the same thing, just like a movie books. It's all a story and you know it appears that you have are channels that do Andrew. She loves to read books out loud to me now that our kids are God.

I want to do it today.

I'll be driving the cars goes on the regions chapter of my all to read it out loud, but she just loves to allow it to like you. I read all the Narnia books to her kids and as an adult reading.

Well, let me say that I have never met them I didn't grow up in a Christian home.

I had never heard about them. So I'm reading them sobbing at Ty's website and there like what is happening that I have how exact same experience. I think maybe I think the Narnia books are best experienced as a parent reading them to the kid like because there's something about you. You kind of our hearing it through their ears and hearing all these wonderful truths in that way. And so the office. I bet there are a lot of kids were confused about why my daughter crying by just telling wait, wait until you got kids you will understand it, it's really tremendous what he did with those stories and that was a reminder to me of how much I love those kinds of books and so we were that age with our kids were. We were reading aloud a lot so I best memories are of our family sit around me doing voices and the kids asking for one more chapter and and I think when I read them the Narnia books. I was like, I've got to know what it's like to do this like I do, I'd tried many times to write a novel and once I had an audience, a captive audience in my kids.

I was like I told my wife to try to do this thing and so she fully supported me and took me about 10 years, but we shared the whole story with the kids is as I wrote them and it was just as a dream come true and that series is a four book series called the wing feathers saga yes it talked about how old are your kids when you started writing me there probably between five and eight.

Around that age.

You know the perfect age kids are better listeners and grown-ups are because they they inhabit the story in a way that it's taken for granted when you're a kid that's what stories do and they dive in. You know parents you we have to try a little harder to remember what it's like to receive a story in that way, but I noticed all the inconsistencies and if I got one accent wrong, they would tell me I'd already use that voice from the back. But yet I was crazy. We put the books out the first one came out in 08 I think and it took about an 06 more years to finish the whole series and then we release the short film is a pilot and so we can shop it to you know go out to LA and talk to Netflix and all those people and and then Penguin Random House amazingly republished all four books and beautiful hardbacks and so now when I'm on tour. I sneak into Barnes & Noble and sign them and and post where I am. You know, but then that led to the series or making a TV show season one Angel Studios the people to do the chosen were partnering with them and we got the funding in like 20 days and were deep into it really yeah the funding in 20 days for 5 million bucks, investors, and for this thing to be, you know, at this point, 10 or so years old and it people are just now discovering it is just a dream.

And so, so I spent a lot of time nowadays I have the zoom calls several zoom calls a week is on one of the executive producers and I get to like okay whether or not the swords are cool enough you know like their all these designers making characters we get to make notes on the town and like oh no, it's most look more like this in shaping the story and the scripts and everything so it's really it's it it's a huge huge gift to get to do this talk about how that's not only think you hesitate your kids what is that done for your kids. The three main characters in the wing feathers saga are loosely based on my kids and all of our kids in a weird way grew into what the characters are kinda like, and so I wish that I had written them to be doctors and lawyers but no it's interesting like I don't know what it's like for my kids to like be in their 20s and have you know the characters in this book were loosely based on them, but I think that they think it's cool but I and I I will say this, that, like all three of our kids are deeply involved in the arts and in the ministry and it's like when it's one of the cool things I Christmas tour with my daughter she's out sing and she's releasing teepees of songs she's writing. She has a real heart for the gospel. My son Asher's record producer is making all these wonderful albums that he's going are going on the world. My son Aiden.

The oldest is illustrator just put it illustrated a book called the story of God with us and so so cool to see that they didn't have that weird separation of imagination and in the gospel, like the two can live in the same space for them. You know, and there they grew up in this community, where it was taken for granted that as Christians we were meant to to steward our gifting for the kingdom of God and so they cannot grew up with that is that is the norm and so that there like will why would we not paint pictures about that that help proclaim the truth, you know, why would we not make music that cannot surprise people with the beauty of the gospel will talk about that because yelp typically the church hasn't embraced. Maybe I'm wrong but I know that when we start our church. 30 years ago, one of our core values was we wanted to do the arts with excellence in our arts director even said if we do the arts with excellence. We will attract excellent artists don't want to come to a church that says this matters and you don't do it mediocre.

You do it with the highest skill because you doing it on to God that hasn't often been embraced by the church is sort like add the artistic part is just not that important.

It's only the word. The word the word but obviously you have been embraced that in your whole family and your kids will talk about that a little bit. Well is tricky to talk about that because like I can't sue my own horn. You know Dan I got is I think I'm really good at what I do. I just read you know talking or losing a whole Simon or James Taylor and I'm like oh yeah sure have no idea what I'm doing so that's part of it but I don't know mentally guy I think that there is there is this tendency to try to control the ends and I think that that a lot of times in church and our people are trying to figure out how to how we get from a to B and really like I said earlier, that's not our business really like our businesses to care for the poor love our neighbor love our enemies pray for those who persecute us. Meanwhile, of course, you try to do good work.

You know whatever you're doing, but it would be easy.

In my mind to almost make an idol out of the excellence of our work. You know, as if that's the main thing were meant to be doing and I don't think that's a bad thing at all but but if you're doing that at the expense of like the very basic simple. This is what it means to walk in the way of Jesus to delight in his will and walk in his way to the glory of his name. That's the thing were were in charge of so that can include of course caring about beauty and excellence in craft but you know I think it's all it's only in these this last hundred years or so that I think the American church in particular her. Or maybe I could say the Western church.

We tend to think of the art we produce as being no hokey or cheesy or shallow or whatever but I mean Bock. My goodness he was a Christian musician you know it. So the church has produced the, the best and most beautiful works of art that the world is ever known and I think that that's actually still happening now is just not always what people know about. In America you know it's like there's this undercurrent of amazing novelists and and writers that don't broadcast the fact that there Christians necessarily but they are in their sewing really good and beautiful seeds. One of the ways I like to think of it is that somebody just was talking about the wing feather books and they were like well they're not overtly Christian there deeply Christian and I love that idea and work they were called to do is meant to be deeply Christian, let it let like it's foundation is that and then there's all this wiggle room for expression and beauty and and the overtness of it, takes a backseat to what the Holy Spirit intends to do with this thing. As you top-tier artist and author.

Your dad and husband that go back to that bad piece like as you reflect back on it, your kids are getting a little older. Tell us a couple things that you did right and a couple things he thinks. I wish I did Tweet adder change that no man you're listening to Dave and Wilson with Andrew Peterson on family life today will hear Andrew's response in just a minute. The first Father's Day is coming up this weekend. But you knew that already. Right. I hope so. And what we want to send you a copy of Brian Lorentz's book called dad difference. The four most important gifts you can give your kids is our gift to you. When you make a donation of any amount this week to support the work of family life today you can give securely or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-3583 29. I can be a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift as well. Again the number is 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today. Right now, back to Andrew Peterson what he did right and what he did wrong in parenting. I'm sure that I traveled too much. It's funny, I heard Eugene Peterson. He was kind of a hero of mine in the herd and talk one-time about his life in the ministry and somebody asked him if he had any regrets, and he said I wish I had more vacation and I grew up pastor's kid. You know, and I my kids are actually amazing.

They work really hard but I look back and I'm like I know there were times I could've said no to some things and stayed home, but I was driven by some weird combination of fear that I would be able to provide or ambition this like drive to make a name for myself and I think that if I could go back I would've said no more things and been more present in one of my friends is a pastor said that he reminds me, you've only ever had one provider and so if you're self-employed singer-songwriter that is a good thing to remember you. So that's that. As far as the things I did right think we just one of the our mentors when we first got married said you talk about the fact he was a pastor and he was talking about the fact that his family wasn't super good at having like family devotions and he was like my kids are church like eight times a week. You know it doesn't work for us. You know we we just don't do that.

We rather just sit around and watch Magnum PI or whatever and so he said so instead of having these formal devotional experiences as a family. He said that we just made it so that our Christianity was a matter of course in the home.

It was just taken for granted that this is who we are and this is how we think and how we see the world and the quote was Christianity ought to be as ordinary in your home as dirty laundry and cornflakes and I love that that is because it was like I think our kids, it was not. It's never been weird for us to stop what were doing to pray for somebody you know or the conversations about movies or watching your shows that were into our integrated seamlessly with okay what is that site mean about how is Jesus speaking through this thing, you know, and so I think that's one of the things we did right was that we treated the gospel as if it mattered in the little things as well as the big things you know and to raise our kids with this real sense of the kingdom, you know, the presence of the kingdom that Jesus has begun his rain and we get to be these priests in this new creation now like I grew up in a church tradition that didn't talk much about the end of the world was what it was like well will will figure out when we get there will all we know is that this is all going to burn or whatever and actually that's not the story the Bible tells me Peter says something like that. But the real picture we have is that God loves his creation, and that in some way. I believe that the work we're doing now in his name carries over into that new creation and that there is this new earth, a new heaven and a new earth that were living into, and so our kids like we try to help them see that the good work that they're doing now is a part of that you know it there's not. This is part of a dividing line between the two is II think that I grew up assuming, and so that the it kind of ennobles and sanctifies the small ways that we love in Christ name now because they are a part of the story that he's telling that Steven and Wilson with Andrew Peterson on family life to a his book series for kids is called the wing feathers saga and you can learn more about Andrew's books and music, and the upcoming animated version of the wing feathers or in today's show notes if you know of anyone who needs to hear today's conversation. Be sure to share it from wherever you get your podcasts while you're there. It really help us out if you rate and review us tomorrow and evening Wilson argued to be talking with the president of family life David Robbins as he helps us see that as a spouse, our imperfections, point to our need for grace and why that's a good that's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us.

On behalf of David and Wilson. I'm shall be added you back next time for another edition of family life to family life. Today's a production of family life accrue ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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