MILLEDGEVILLE — An educator of language arts and mother of young war veterans, Janet P. Smith used her beliefs and writing skills to share her inspirational story of a time when faith made a difference as a way to connect with her students and others.
An avid reader and subscriber to Guideposts magazine, a faith-based national publication, Smith decided to submit the story of her son in the magazine’s Writers Workshop Contest in June. Nearly two months later, she was notified of her selection as one of 12 winners amongst the more than 3,200 submissions received across the country.
“The contest is once every two years, and the magazine has a readership of over 1 million. I was the only person from the south out of the group of 12. We had to write an inspirational piece that shows a transformation in one’s life,” she said while sitting in her fifth-grade class at Eagle Ridge Elementary School during her planning period Wednesday.
Smith and fellow winners received an all-expense paid trip to the workshop in Port Orchard, Wash. Oct. 15-19. Debbie Macomber, a New York Times best-selling author and a contributing author to Guideposts, sponsored the trip at where participants learned about inspirational storytelling and met with editors and writers.
“Being selected for the contest validated me as a writer and it validated what I do with these children in the classroom,” Smith said. “One of the things I shared with Guideposts while I was there is that children and their ideas are so pure. If you don’t stifle them and let them write as children write, then it allows them to enjoy writing. I don’t immediately start editing and critiquing for grammar, usage and mechanics. As the school year evolves and they learn about grammar, then they are able to self-correct. I showed them how many rewrites I had to do, but explained that you have to believe in what you write and take ownership of it.”
Smith’s article submission was about her eldest son returning home from duty in Iraq, his move back into the family home, and how she found faith to let him leave again.
“My son served twice in Iraq; he went when he was 18 years old and he was 21 years old when he came out. I’m a military brat and I attained the rank of major when I got out, but it was still difficult to let my son serve. Being a mom, we wanted him to move back in with us to transition back into the United States. After six months of attending Georgia College & State University, I had to pray and ask God to allow him to go again; it was time he moved into his own apartment,” Smith said. “This is a universal issue because of the number of soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. I wanted parents to know that it is difficult, but with faith and a higher source, He will take care of them. God took care of my son while he was there, and he will take care of him on a college campus and in his own apartment.”
Though contest guidelines state there is no guarantee of articles being published in the magazine, Smith’s article will be featured in the upcoming May Mother’s Day issue.
For more information about Guideposts, visit www.guideposts.org.
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