A Brave Story: Matthew + Jessica

thatisbravesquared[Once a week, I am going to be sharing with you a brave story sent in from a reader. You can comment, respond, encourage. Want to submit your own story or a story of a brave friend of yours? Head to thatisbrave.com!]

This week’s #thatisbrave story comes from Matthew Paul Turner and Jessica Turner. This story was written by Matthew and it is used with their permission.

. . . . .

There’s often a thin line between stupid and brave. How one differentiates between stupid and brave usually depends on why you did what you did and what happens after you do it.

For instance, a person’s decision to jump off a high rocky cliff into a lake is often considered brave. Heck, if your jump is perfect and you quickly burst forth out of the water like a buoy, it might even get labeled brilliant.

But if you jump off a cliff and it ends with a belly flop or a broken arm or leg or—God forbid—a drowning. Then, that one-time potentially brave or brilliant action is quickly deemed stupid. Unless… the reason you jumped off a dangerous rocky cliff was in order to to save a drowning child—then it would likely not matter how the event ended—you’d be labeled brave regardless.

Now, I haven’t jumped off any cliffs or saved anybody from drowning, I just self-published a children’s book. Brave? Stupid? Heck, maybe you’re thinking, books gets self published all the time, why would it be considered either?

If that’s what crossed your mind, you could have a point. Self-published books are a dime a dozen in today’s ebook and print-on-demand world. It’s becoming such a common occurrence that I’m more surprised when I meet somebody who hasn’t released a book.

But publishing a children’s book independently from a major imprint isn’t quite. Four-color formats aren’t commonly printed on-demand, at least, not without suffering a huge cost. And the ebook format, though widely accepted among adults, isn’t what’s preferred for children. Though ebooks for kids are becoming more and more available, parents are slow to pick up on the trend, often considering any kind of iPad use as “screen time.”


And to do a children’s book well costs money—lots of it—because you have to pay an illustrator, a printer, and a distributer.

Still, despite all of the risk involved, my wife, Jessica, and I decided that we had to publish my children’s book. We didn’t feel like we had much of a choice. Publishers said no. They had a variety of reasons for declining, all of which didn’t include “not liking” the book. In fact, they loved the book idea. So after the last no from a publisher, because Jessica and I believed in the project, we began making plans to publish it ourselves.

Though both of us have a good amount of experience in publishing, neither of us knew what we were doing. We took it a step at a time, my Type-A wife spearheading the logistics. The process from start to finish took more than a year and cost us several thousand more than what we believed it would.

But we did it—not because we have copious amounts of time and money— but because we believed in the idea and believed in the purpose behind the idea: to create a children’s book about God that is inspirational, rhythmic, fun-to-read, and full of color.


And with God Made Light, I believe we did just that.

Now, was our decision to publish this book brave or was it stupid? Well, that’s hard to say since it just released yesterday. If people like it—maybe brave? If it falls flat—maybe stupid?

Or perhaps the outcome—whether it sells or doesn’t sell—isn’t what really matters here. Maybe our bravery is more accurately gauged by why we’re publishing God Made Light—because we believe in the book, we believe in it’s message, we believe in its potential, and we believe that children and families need more “light” in our lives. But all of that, in the end, is difficult to measure, leaving my bravery or stupidity in question.

But I can say this: self-publishing a children’s book called God Made Light makes me feel brave. I know; that sounds cheesy. But it’s true. No, I don’t feel brave in the way I might if I were swimming with sharks or brave like I believe I would if I were saving somebody’s life, but rather brave because in order to make this happen, I’ve had to choose over and over and over again to believe in my work and to believe in what other people have said about my work. That might not sound like much. But that’s the only way God Made Light ever saw the light of day—because I managed to brave my own self-doubt and rely on the encouragement of others to pull me out when I became too focused on the risk or the cost or the potential rejection.

Even now, as my book is available and receiving reviews on Amazon, I’m fighting the temptation to doubt, to wonder, what the heck have I done? No, releasing a children’s book without a publisher is not the same as somebody jumping out of an airplane or tightroping across the Grand Canyon, but like the daredevils who do such things, I don’t know what’s coming. Will the book be a success? Will people like it? Will I lose my shirt?

I don’t know the answer to that. But whatever comes, I’m brave not because I did it but because why I did it.

. . . . .

Friends. Isn’t that SO encouraging? LOVE this story. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of God Made Light — I’m gifting it LIKE CRAZY this Christmas. I believe in the story and I believe in the Turners and I believe this book will matter to every kid, and adult, who reads it.

Also- HOW CUTE are their kiddos? I love them so.


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