Mere Christians

Jonathan David (Illustrator for The Creator in You)

Episode Summary

The story behind how my new children’s book was made!

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with Jonathan David, Illustrator for The Creator in You, to talk about the story behind how my new children’s book was made, how our work can create “anonymous worship,” and the significance of God “pacing himself” as he worked in Genesis 1.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] JR: Tim Keller, Candace Cameron Bure, Mark Batterson. Those are just a couple of the incredible people who have enthusiastically endorsed my new children's book, The Creator in You.


So before we get to today's episode with Jonathan David, the illustrator behind this book, I want you to hear the enthusiasm and what these people are saying about what I really believe is a unique new children's book out in the world. Tim and Kathy Keller said this, “We love the message of The Creator in You. We can't wait to read this with our grandchildren.” Candace Cameron Bure said, “Wow.” And the rest of this is all caps. “I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE”, end all caps, “This book and the illustrations. This absolutely would have been the kind of book I'd have picked up when my kids were younger. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the message even better.”


By the way, quick insight into how authors get endorsements. Typically what you do is somebody like Candace Cameron says, “Yeah, I’ll endorse the book”, and so you sent her a draft to review and I love it. She basically totally discarded my draft and just responded, “Wow, I love, love, love this book.” And I was like, “Yeah, I'll take that one. That's genuine.”


Alright, Mark Batterson said, “Beautiful. The Creator in You will help your kids view everything from artwork to homework, to their future careers with purpose, enthusiasm, and joy.” Lara Casey, the author of Cultivated says, “There are a very small handful of books I purchase for each of my children, so they can read them to future generations. The Creator in You is one of those books that leaves me in awe of our creator, what a treasure. I want to buy it for all of the adults in my life, as well.” And then finally, Jonathan Pokluda, host of the very popular Becoming Somebody podcast. He said this, “I'm trying to endorse a book that left me speechless. With tearful hope and inspiration, The Creator in You is a must-read for every child and adults. It is Genesis 1 and 2 in masterful poetry, and a clear, compelling conclusion.”


Guys, if you want to learn more about this book and see some of the epic artwork from today's guest, Jonathan David, go to Now, please enjoy this episode with Jonathan David.




[00:02:32] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Call to Mastery. I’m Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others. Every week, I host a conversation with a Christian who is pursuing world-class mastery of their vocation. We talk about their path to mastery, their daily habits, and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ influences their work.


Today's guest is my good friend, Jonathan David. He's the illustrator for my first children's book, which comes out April 19, called The Creator in You. Some of you guys have read an advanced copy of this book, or seen screenshots of it at, and the first thing you all say is, “The art in this book is incredible.” No mention of the text of the book. I don't take offense at that genuinely, because when I look at this book, the first thing I say is, “Man, this art is epic.” And that is all because of John, a world-class illustrator and also children's book author himself, as some of my favorite children's books that we have lying around my house.


John and I sat down recently to talk about the story of how we made The Creator in You. So if you've ever been curious how the world does a children's book get made, you're about to find out. We talked about how our work can create “anonymous worship”. And finally, we talked about the significance that God paced himself as he worked in Genesis 1. My friends, please enjoy this terrific episode with Jonathan David.




[00:04:22] JR: John, my man. Welcome to the podcast.


[00:04:25] JD: Thank you. It's good to be here.


[00:04:27] JR: Alright, so I haven’t told you this yet, but I'm titling this episode. Jonathan David, because now that the creator is out in the world, everyone's googling that name. Who's this Jonathan David guy? This is the greatest artwork I've ever seen. But they’re not going to find anything, because this person doesn't exist.


[00:04:47] JD: I've not actually tried to google it. Have you googled that?


[00:04:49] JR: Yeah, there's like nothing there.


[00:04:51] JD: Okay.


[00:04:52] JR: Alright, I feel like we're in a deposition. But, John, can you please state your legal name.


[00:05:02] JD: Jonathan David Voss and this is what I say, V-O-S-S.


[00:05:09] JR: There it is. John Voss. Here's the deal. I want John Voss, the real John Voss to get all the credit in the world for this book because we get into like lawyers and agents and somehow Jonathan David got onto the cover, but we won't go there. But you deserve all the credit in the world for this thing. Because I haven't told you this. I want to frame some of the art in my house for this book.


[00:05:31] JD: That's awesome.


[00:05:32] JR: I love it. As I've been talking more and more about our book, The Creator in You, I've had so many people ask me about the process for making a picture book. So I thought be fun. I'm interested to see if we could pull this off. If we could reverse engineer our process, are you game for this?


[00:05:49] JD: Yeah, let's do it.


[00:05:51] JR: Alright, so I wrote the first draft of The Creator in You in April 2019, three years ago. We were on a plane with our best friends heading out to Sonoma, I should give you a clue as to how long it takes to make a picture book. It's been three years since I wrote it. And then our publisher got you and I together, I want to say like, early 2020. What made you – I remember where I was sitting when we had that first Zoom call. What made you want to sign on to this project specifically, John?


[00:06:18] JD: I had been working on a manuscript that really, I was trying to hit something and I wasn't quite getting it. But you had in the manuscript that you sent to me, there was a line, the very last line of the book. Do you have that?


[00:06:36] JR: Yes. I've got the last draft, the final draft memorized. The last line is, “When you show others the creator in you, you bring joy to the world and to your father, too.” But I think the original last line was, “And when you show others how God has made you. Well, that is the most loving thing you can do.”


[00:06:59] JD: Yeah, it was that line, that was in the manuscript that I received. And it was that line, because it's this idea that using these gifts and talents that we have and that we've been given is one – is not only are we reflecting God's glory out into the world, but it's a way that we can love the people around us.


[00:07:29] JR: Yes, it's a means of serving people and loving them well, by just making beautiful things.


[00:07:36] JD: Yeah. It was those two things that really, were super, super awesome to me. I was like, “Okay, I think this is – if you want to call it meant to be here, whatever. It felt is meant to be as a thing could feel at least for my end.” I think that that I really kind of feel looking back on it in hindsight, all of the struggle that we had getting, like the contracts done and getting everything to come together makes me think even more that there are things that play here that more than just, let's make a book together.


[00:08:19] JR: Totally, totally. So I'll tell you when I knew it was meant to be this partnership, before you and I met. Random House asked a bunch of different illustrators to send in samples, illustrating the exact same line for the book. And the line is, actually this line has remained unchanged in the final draft says, “Because while in six days God created a lot. There are so many things that he simply did not like bridges and baseballs, sand castles and S’mores. God asked us to create and fill the planet with more.” My vision that I communicated to prospective illustrators is like, “I don't want this book to be cartoony. It has to be epic. It has to be a piece of art that inspires a five-year-old, but also makes a 55 year old weep, kind of like a Pixar movie.” That was the goal. When I saw your spread, and the books coming out next week, readers are going to see it, and they're going to see that spread with the kids standing on top of the bridge. And I was like, “There is no other illustrator for this project. John Voss is the guy. It was it.” It was instantaneous. I was like, “I don't need to see anything else.” So hopefully we pulled this off. Hopefully we pulled up a book that was epic. We'll leave it to the audience to decide.


[00:09:42] JD: Yeah. I know I've said it before, but I just have to comment, of all the spreads in the book that you could have presented to illustrators, show me what you can do with this. That was like, that was the hardest line in the whole book and I stared at it for the longest time. I’m like, “What am I supposed to do with this?”


[00:10:06] JR: Well, and that was of course by design because it's the passing of the baton spread, right? It says, “Because while in six days God created a lot”, so some illustrators took a run at that, showing God creating. But the other half of the line is, “there are so many things that he did not. Bridges and baseballs, sandcastles and S’mores.” He asked us to create. So I loved the challenge of the spread, but you knocked it out the park.


[00:10:26] JD: Thanks, man.


[00:10:28] JR: So it was clear, the moment I saw the spread, John Voss is the guy for this project. You signed on, and honestly, I don't really remember anything from here on, right? Because this is February 2020. My part’s done. I had moved on to writing Redeeming Your Time. What's the quick summary of your process starting here when you signed on to the project?


[00:10:49] JD: Well, I think it was just taking the text that I had been given at that point. And I think I was still working from the original text, I had to make a dummy book, just to make sure that everybody was okay with the direction I was thinking of heading.


[00:11:06] JR: Yeah. So for our listeners, what's a dummy book?


[00:11:09] JD: Yeah. So it used to be, and I imagine some people probably still do it this way, is you would do all of your little drawings that – and they're usually small drawings. But you create these drawings and they're like little miniature versions of what you think the final illustrations are going to be for this book. And then you lay out the text, where you think it's going to go and the pictures, where you think they're going to go, and you put this thing together, and literally just like a little mockup of a book. Like I said, it used to be, and maybe some still do it this way that they would actually print out these pages, and tape the whole thing together.


For me, though, that really, it's all digital. So I did that. I created a bunch of little drawings. I had had some conversations with the art director, about the dimensions of the book, and all these kinds of things. But really, they leave it fairly open ended. And let me try to have some freedom with that to see what I come up with. I don't think it changed much. I think I had sent the dummy book at the dimensions that I was kind of thinking, and I think that the way I broke the text up was largely unchanged with the exception of I think you wanted to shift the rest of that first sentence over to the first page. I think I had just put the one, like the half of the line or something like that.


[00:12:39] JR: So this is funny. I just pulled up the dummy book in my email. The final version of this book is pretty darn close to the first draft of that dummy book. Maybe I'll package this up. Yeah, I'm going to do this. I'll package it up, and we'll put it in the show notes of this episode if anyone wants to see the first draft, dummy book. But yeah, it was a long process, right? Go through the book, put together the comps. And here's what I appreciate it, man, what I love so much about you, is just, I think our collective extremely high standards of excellence.


I remember, we were like, I don't know, 48 hours away from when the finished artwork had to be sent in. It was – you know what I'm going to say. It’s a Saturday, my wife and I are laying by a pool. We were out of town for our anniversary. And you called me up like, “Hey, these two pages in the book don't feel epic enough to make. Can we do something different?” I was like, “Yes, we can.” I was like, “I don't like it either.” So we were back and forth all afternoon. And that's like, the most fun work in the world to me, so Kara could not care less. I'm like showing her artwork. I think it's the lemonade stand spread. This is a spread that says, “Right after we watch God created, grab a blank sheet of paper and create with your hands or drop some plans for a lemonade stand.” That was it. And then there was one other one, but we got it done.


[00:14:05] JD: Yeah, we did.


[00:14:08] JR: That's the 10-minute version of how you make a children's book. We left way too many details out. But that's it, right?


[00:14:16] JD: I mean, doing the art. I mean, there's a lot of steps in that. But you can fast forward and say, “Okay, all the art gets done, and then you send it into the publisher, and then they do stuff with it.” I mean, there's all of that. But yeah, in a nutshell.


[00:14:31] JR: So, in the book, I wrote this note to parents, where I say something that I've said a million times before in my writings, that before God tells us that He is holy, or loving or omnipotent, he tells us he's creative. The first thing he tells us about himself in Scripture. I'm curious for you personally, as an artist and an illustrator. What does that mean to you? What's the significance of God first revealing himself as the Creator God?


[00:14:59] JD: There are some People who I'll look at their Instagram or their social media and they're putting out all this stuff like every day, new drawings and new this. I admire those people that can do that. And I think that, that is – they are so committed to that to that one area that they – they're super prolific in what they can produce. I've never been good at that. I've never been able to do that. And I think that for me, I find that I'm trying to be creative, and in these other areas, too. We only have so many hours in a day, right? So it limits – but I guess, going back to your original thing, God being a creator, what that means to me, I think I just try to use or try to be creative in every area of my life as much as possible.


[00:16:05] JR: I love that you point out like your slow and methodical approach to the work. I was talking with Makoto Fujimura, the great artist on the podcast a few weeks ago, and him talking about how slow he is at his craft. I think there's something to that. There's something wise there. I don't think we could ever call God's work slow. But I do think it's interesting that God paced himself in Genesis. God could have created everything in an instant. He didn’t. He spread it out over six days, and he rested on the Sabbath. So there's something deeply wise and I think godlike about that type of work.


[00:16:48] JD: I think it's interesting that they make a point of pointing out that when he got done creating a thing, he stepped back from it and he's like, “That's pretty cool. I like what I did there.” I think that that's – we’re always our own worst critics, right? But I think that I try to – I want to enjoy the process. I don't ever want it to be like just work. I want it to be meaningful. I want it to be fun. I want it to be inspiring, not just to others, but also to myself, to all these things. So for me, slow is, I guess it's just how I go.


[00:17:37] JR: I just published this episode of my other podcast, The Word Before Work podcast, about what you just said, right? Our temptation is to constantly be moving forward, going on to the next thing, the next project. But before God asked what's next, he stopped and asked what's good? Celebrating the work that has already been done.  And I think if we want to create and work in his image, that's a prerequisite. Stopping and giving thanks, and just appreciating the goodness of what God's already done in and through us.


[00:18:20] JD: Yup. I absolutely agree.


[00:18:23] JR: Your bio on your website, which I don't know, if you're like me, you barely look at this thing. But here's what it says. It says –


[00:18:29] JD: Am I going to be embarrassed here?


[00:18:30] JR: I was going to say, probably. You say, “I've always been hugely inspired by others who bring this beauty to the world around us, whether it’s well-crafted words in a book or a painting in a gallery. There is something stirring about it all.” So I’m curious, is there a spiritual element to what you're saying there? Is that what you mean by the fact that art stirs us? What do you mean by that?


[00:18:55] JD: I had this really interesting conversation with – I was with my sister and my brother-in-law, and a couple of friends of theirs. This was a couple weeks ago, and we had this conversation and I'm not prepared to get into the theology of it. I can't even say that I understand the theology of it but I think I get that there's enough to this to be able to just say this. But as we were talking at this meal, we're talking about art and creativity, and not just art painting, drawing, but also music and I think I mentioned something to one of them. I said something, have you ever watched a YouTube video of somebody singing and you don't know their faith background? You don't know anything about them other than they're singing this song. They're doing it exceptionally well. And there have been moments when I've just started to like, weep, right? Just in response to what is coming out of this person.


I think was my brother-in-law who said that this term, he called it “anonymous worship”. He was calling back to – he got a doctorate in philosophy, and he teaches that, but he was calling back to somebody else, and I forget what they were referencing. But basically, this idea that I think that people in general, we're all created in God's image, right? Even if we don't know, what we're doing with these things, sometimes. I believe that even non-Christians when they are reflecting God, and what God has placed in them, and have been – I think that there can be strong responses to that sometimes. I hope what I said just made sense. I don't know if that was like –


[00:21:18] JR: That’s makes all the sense in the world to me. And the story I always think of here, and forgive me, listeners, if you've heard me say this before, I can't remember the last time I shared it, is was C.S. Lewis in this novel that he read when he was 17 years old, called Phantastes. Do you know the story, John?


[00:21:36] JD: I don't.


[00:21:37] JR: So Lewis is 17 years old. He's already like, pretty well steeped in his atheism. He has no interest in Christianity. And yet, he's waiting at this train station one day, and he buys this novel called Phantastes. He sits down and he reads it, and for the rest of his life, he remembers the moment he read this book. He said, something transcendent happened. There was something so beautiful, and true, and winsome about this book that somehow I knew there had to be a God.


And so years later, Lewis goes on, can never shake this moment. Years later, he's talking with Tolkien, as Tolkien’s sharing the gospel with Lewis. And Lewis brings up this moment of reading this novel called Phantastes. And Tolkien was like, “You know that book was written by George MacDonald, who is a pastor turn novelist, and was a serious Christian.” And for Lewis, it started to click into place. He's like, “Oh, like, even though McDonald never use the name Jesus, that piece of art stirred something inside of me that longed for Jesus.” I think great art can do that. And it makes us uncomfortable, because it's so touchy-feely, and it's not concrete, and we don't know what to do with that. But I think many people right now are shaking their heads up and down and saying, “Yes, this is the thing in the world.”


[00:23:07] JD: Yeah, absolutely.


[00:23:07] JR: But I think in order for art to do that, I mean, God can use imperfect art – all art is imperfect, of course. But I think the best does that is work that is exceptional, right? And John, you are a master of your craft. I own every single book you have ever written and illustrated. Seriously, they are some of my most treasured books in our 300 children's books in our house.


[00:23:35] JD: I appreciate that, man.


[00:23:37] JR: In your opinion, what do world-class picture book artists, illustrators, and writers do differently than everybody else? Because I do think your work is just in a different class. How have you gotten really good at what you do?


[00:23:54] JD: Sure. Well, I guess the first thing I'll say is that, we are, I said this a minute ago, we are always our own worst critics. So I would be the first to say that, I by no means feel like I have arrived. I know that there will always be people who are maybe not as good as I am, but there will always be a whole lot of people who are much, much better than I am.


[00:24:21] JR: And this is the mark of masters. No, this is it. I say this all the time. Masters never believe that they've arrived. They don't believe that mastery is a destination, right? It's a lifelong process. So it's your humility that makes you like, yeah, you're world-class at what you do.


[00:24:39] JD: I appreciate that. Going back, I guess you asked me what I do or what I think other people do, to kind of get on that road to mastery or be on that road to mastery. I really do think that it’s a lot of doing. I mean, it's like any discipline, and a lot of ways, whether it's spiritual disciplines for your walk with God or physical disciplines, you know, if you want certain results, so you've got to go to the gym or you've got to run and you've got to do these kinds of things.


So for me, it’s just trying to actively be creative a lot. That does take the form of drawing and painting and of course, there are probably some days where I wish I did more of it. It always seems like there's – I’ve got two kids, and they're at the age where they've got a lot of activities, and so you're kind of constantly going and doing other things. My daughter's in volleyball. So, there are some weekends where we’ve been going away to her volleyball tournaments. So it limits some of that stuff, but just always trying to find time, trying to find ways to just do these things, and –


[00:26:12] JR: Just pumping out a lot of work. Knowing you’re going to throw away a lot of it.


[00:26:16] JD: Boy, you throw away a lot. There’s stuff that is sitting around in different places in my house that I hope like nobody ever, ever sees. It would be so unbelievably embarrassing to have somebody see some of this stuff that just never is intended to see the light of day. I think I know this is kind of cliché, if it comes to, so let's say as drawing or painting or whatever your creative endeavor is, do the thing that you love. Draw what you love to draw. Paint what you love to paint. Don't paint what you think somebody else wants to paint, especially once you get in the industry, it's a real temptation to like go down that road. It’s like, “Okay, I need them to buy one of my books. What do I think that they will want to buy? What kind of story do I think they want? What kind of pictures?” I think that I probably have gone down a number of wrong roads, following that line of thinking. And it's something that you always fight against. But I feel pretty strongly that if you are always striving for excellence in what you do, do what you love. And there will be somebody, and hopefully a lot of somebodies that come along that will love that thing, too.


[00:27:53] JR: Yeah, I think that's largely true. Hey, I wanted to ask you about this. One of the hallmarks of your style in all of your books, is how you use various perspectives. Basically, shifting the camera around, if you will. So for example, I mentioned before, one of my favorite spreads in The Creator in You, is where it says, “God created the world in a matter of days, a world for exploring for work and for play.” And there's this massive blue whale jumping out of the water. But the camera is zoomed out way back, and you can see these two tiny little kids underneath the whale watching him and pointed up at him. It’s just like brilliant use of perspective that makes it feel so epic.


So here's my question. I'm curious if this has been an intentional choice of yours, just to like find a lane that makes your art unique, or are somewhat different in a space, and just like really doubled down on that? Is that why you've really doubled down a perspective, John? Is it strategic, I guess, or do you just like it?


[00:29:02] JD: Yeah, I mean, I think it's probably all of the above. So when I first got into picture books, it was actually in 2004, the movie version of the Polar Express came out, I think it was 2004. And this is going to sound terrible and sacrilegious on some level. But I had not really ever read a whole lot of picture books up to that point. Back in my childhood, I was one of five. We just didn't, for right or wrong or different, we just didn't get a lot of picture books. They weren't read to us and they weren't given to us. So, I really was not exposed to picture books. But when I saw the movie, I was like, “Oh, I really, really liked this”, and I knew it was a book but I had never read the book. So then I went and read the book and I was like, half the stuff in the movie isn't in the book.


That was the beginning of me thinking about picture books. But I say all that to get to this point of the Polar Express was written by Chris Van Allsburg. And if you look at Chris Van Allsburg’s books, all of them, he deals a lot in perspective. I would say more than most other – the majority of other authors. I can't think of anybody off the top of my head that –


[00:30:34] JR: Didn't he do Jumanji?


[00:30:37] JD: Yes, he did. Jumanji?


[00:30:37] JR: Yeah. It has these epic perspectives.


[00:30:42] JD: Yeah. Garden of Abdul Gasazi, and you can list a whole slew of his books, and they all very heavy in perspective. I think, is it David Wiesner? I think that's his name. He's written some books. He comes to mind right now for dealing in perspective quite a bit as well.


But anyway, I admired that. And I think that when we're kind of trying to shape who we are as –as artists, as creative people, we end up looking at other people who are doing the thing we're doing or wanting to do. And we start just kind of pulling in all these little pieces, “Oh, I like this from this person. I like this from this person.” You begin to start to try to incorporate those things. Well, eventually, what happens is you kind of settle into something, and before you know it, that thing is you. So, perspective has become part of me. I think that the beginning of that was my exposure to Chris Van Allsburg’s work, for sure.


[00:31:57] JR: This interesting. In order to create great work, you have to study the great works of the genre that have come before you, right? Because you're not competing with all the books that are released the same week that your book is released. You're competing with every book that's ever been made before that, or whatever it is, every business that's been before. It's a very interesting way to think about these things. So John, that’s super helpful.


Hey, man, three questions I love to wrap up every conversation with on the Call to Mastery. You’re ready for this?


[00:32:30] JD: I will try.


[00:32:32] JR: You'll try. Books you tend to recommend or gift to others?


[00:32:38] JD: Yeah. Probably the two and it's your fault. Both of them are your fault. The two things that come out of my mouth probably the most often are one, Master of One.


[00:32:53] JR: Stop.


[00:32:56] JD: There are points, listening to that book that I'm just like, my eyes started to sweat. My eyeballs started to leak.


[00:33:03] JR: Gosh, I had no idea.


[00:33:06] JD: Yeah, dude, that that was like – that one really, really hit home. The other one is one, I don't know. This was early on, and I think that we were just in the course of a conversation. You're like, “Hey, I want to tell you about this book, recommend it.” It was The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. And yeah, that one, that one really changed my – it was kind of a paradigm shift for me, I think, in a lot of ways.


[00:33:36] JR: So good. I’m so grateful, John Mark wrote it, and it’s great. Alright, who do you want to hear in this podcast talking about how their faith shapes their pursuit of great work?


[00:33:45] JD: I don't have enough information to know whether where he's at on his journey, and I've only seen little headlines. I've not actually watched anything. I think that recently Jordan Peterson has been on some kind of faith trek. So you should get him on your podcast.


[00:34:06] JR: I’ve got a couple of people who have suggested that and a couple people who've offered to make the introduction. I think we can get Jordan on here. I think that'd be cool.


[00:34:15] JD: Yeah, that would be cool.


[00:34:17] JR: Alright. What's one thing from our conversation today, John, that you want to reiterate to our listeners before we sign off? Other than go get The Creator in You?


[00:34:26] JD: Yeah, do that. Just always attempt, always try two things. One, to be excellent in everything. Not perfect, because none of us are perfect and we can't do it. We didn't touch on this a whole lot. But I really feel this is a big thing for me. Excellence is a big thing for me. And you can look back at even going back to the Old Testament, and everything from the artisans who were selected to create things for the temple, to the worshipers and musicians that were put in the temple to do what they do. I mean, they were chosen because they were at a super high level at what they were doing. So excellence is huge. Always, even if it's something simple and stupid that whole, “Oh, it's good enough thing”, that is like that makes me nuts. Be excellent. Always be excellent.


[00:35:30] JR: If you go to Exodus in search the term skilled worker, skilled laborer. It's mind-boggling the number of times those are the people got called to do the work of building. But anyways, for what it's worth.


[00:35:48] JD: Yes. I think the other thing is, it's kind of hand in hand with that, is this idea of being a glory reflector or a God reflector. I think that I carry that around with me, in my mind, always trying to remember to do that, to be that. So, I hope that everything that I create, whether it's with my hands, or even if it's the words I speak, I hope I'm always reflecting God well.


[00:36:19] JR: Reflecting. Would you say reflecting the creator in you? Would you say that?


[00:36:24] JD: Yeah, exactly. I think it's important for me to say that I miss it all the time. I get it wrong all the time. I am always a work in progress. But I think it's important to put out there that it's something I'm working on, and I would encourage other people to always be striving for these things as well.


[00:36:49] JR: Yeah, excellence alone isn't good enough. That's what Paul's talking about in First Corinthians 12 and 13, right? It is excellence and love. So John, you and I have gotten to know each other super well, over the last couple of years. And man, I want to commend you for being such a great example of both excellence and love. You are world-class at what you do, but you do it with humility, you do it with genuine love of others, above yourself. So man, super excited about The Creator in You. I hope this is a partnership, we get to continue on for many, many years to come.


Guys, go pick up a copy of The Creator in You now wherever books are sold. And oh, by the way, John designed this beautiful dedication sticker that your kids can place at the very front of the book. If you go to right now, tell us you bought the book, put in your physical address, your kids’ names, and I'll sign these stickers. We'll send them to your kids. And they can put them right there. And oh, by the way, John, don't you have another book coming out the same week as The Creator in You?


[00:38:01] JD: Yeah. I got to check on the exact date. The Wishing Balloons, yeah,


[00:38:07] JR: Tell us a little bit about this book. I bought it. But I don't know anything about it.


[00:38:11] JD: Yeah. So, this book was hard to get out and it took a lot of revisions. But very quickly, it's a story about a little girl and a boy moves in, a couple of houses down. Her curiosity pushes her to go introduce herself and say to the boy, “Do you want to play?” He doesn't want to play. Well, she doesn't understand why he doesn't want to play and he seemed sad. That night, a balloon ends up stuck outside her window and it's tapping on the window. So, she goes open the window, and she realizes the balloon has a little note tied to the string at the bottom. And so she opens the note, and it's a wish, and she realizes it’s a wish from the boy. The wish is such that she feels like she can respond to that wish and answer that wish. So she does that anonymously.


But even though she does that, to attempt to make the boy happy, so that he'll maybe want to play, it doesn't work. Anyways, it's a series of these balloons until finally the last balloon she gets, she realizes that she can't do it, that she doesn't know how to answer. It's too hard for her, and recognizes that sometimes what a person needs is just for another person just to be there, just to sit with them. It doesn't require action or activity. I think it hits a lot on the empathy note, and it's also, you’ll understand this when you read it, it's kind of an ode to dads.


[00:40:12] JR: Totally. I mean, that's what my read was on, as you're describing it. So I just preordered it because I love all your work. I had no idea what it is about. Now, I'm super excited to get it.


So guys, go pick up The Creator in You by myself and John and go pick up The Wishing Balloon.


[00:40:34] JD: The Wishing Balloons, yeah.


[00:40:34] JR: I love it. Dude, thanks for being on the podcast.


[00:40:38] JD: Thanks for having me. I've enjoyed it.




[00:40:39] JR: I hope you guys enjoyed that episode. Hey, if you did, go pick up a copy of The Creator in You, you won't be disappointed. If you are, email me. I'll issue you a refund. No questions asked. You're going to love this book. Seriously, go check out all of John's other work under the name, under his real name, Jonathan Voss. He’s got some extraordinary books that my kids love. Guys, thank you so much for tuning in this week. I'll see you next time.