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When I finally remembered to buy seeds for wheat grass, I did what I typically do: I went a bit overboard.

How was I supposed to know that a measly pound of seeds would take care of the jungle Benjamin was planning for his LEGO guys, the tall grass scene Colt insisted on planting in the cigar box, my decorations for Easter and much, much more?

I soon ran out of proper pots, so I lined a thrift-store basket with a plastic grocery bag and planted there as well.

And still there were seeds.

I did what any practical person would do and pulled jars out of the recycling bin to serve as see-through planters. I told myself it would be a great learning experience for the two younger boys, a chance to see nature at work, but I found I was drawn to the jars even more than they were.

I checked them almost every time I walked past. It seemed like nothing was happening in the other, prettier pots, but I noticed every new sprout in the jars. When the roots started unfolding I made everyone in the house come look.

Because I could see what was happening beneath the soil, I knew it was just a matter of hours before the first bits of green would break through. It was easy, exciting even, to wait.

It was hard to imagine the same thing happening in the more traditional pots, the places where I had to rely on faith instead of sight. I knew – really knew – that the same process was happening in both places, but I like tangible results in my gardening and in my prayer life. Results I can see and track and check up on. Results that aren’t buried beneath soil or hidden in hearts.

God, that person I’m having a hard time with, you’re going to help me with that right? And my desire to be more positive and to be a better wife? You haven’t forgotten about that?

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The green tips of the wheat grass did break through in all the pots, the basket, the jars, the jungle and even the cigar box. They moved shyly at first, barely seen, but as the soil split to make room for the new, I had my evidence. Blade after beautiful blade.

And even in the dark, away from my eyes, seeds of faith were growing.

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EasterDecor2The Bible says God’s mercies are new every morning, and surely — surely — those mercies are there for all of us this resurrection day.

Today, may whatever heavy stone is in your way be rolled away.

Self doubt.

Fear.

Pride.

May it all be moved so that you can be alive and free.

Be blessed, my friends.

Happy Easter!

I remember the day my sister told me. I was sitting at the dining room table in the chair closest to the stairs when she leaned in and said she was pregnant and that I was going to be an aunt. I was 9 so I knew what that was — and what it was like to have my cheeks pinched and be asked what grade I was in at family gatherings.

Within minutes I had started carrying my toddler-sized teddy bear on my hip to practice for the baby, and I had decided I would be a different kind of aunt. I’d know what grade my niece or nephew was in, and we’d always be close and have things to talk about.

20140414-203315.jpgWhen DeWayne arrived that June, I did my best to keep my promise. I learned how to hold him and carried pictures of him in a sailor suit in my wallet. I worked with him to learn my name and taught him commercial jingles that my sister really didn’t like for him to sing in public.

But one day, when he was probably between 2 and 3, he come to our house with a cold. His little eyes were watering. His nose was clogged, and for the first time, I couldn’t make him laugh no matter how many silly faces I made. This was something we’d just have to wait out, my mama said, let time do its work.

DeWayne, at 2, helping me read.

I tried to hold on to that when the phone calls started coming, the kind where you hear DeWayne’s wife is in the hospital and she and the baby aren’t doing well. The second call that tells you it’s too early, too risky, and the third call that says the precious baby is here, crying and pink.

I tied four ribbons on our makeshift prayer tree that night, one on the very edge of each of the tallest branches. I wanted my prayers of thanks to be the highest, most visible, ribbons on our tree because gratitude is an important prayer all its own.

We were in the clear, I thought, until the final phone call that made me want to snap the ends off those four branches of the prayer tree. The call that had me packing for Oklahoma.

Soon I was sitting at DeWayne’s table dividing up the Starburst candy like he was 10 again. There, among the reds and the pinks, we shared the sweet and the bitter. We talked of God and empty cribs and barren souls. Of leaving ribbons on trees even when you don’t feel thankful at the moment. Of questions that cut deep through the layers of religion and struck the essence of faith.

Some questions didn’t find their answers that day, or the next. But some things can’t be rushed. Sometimes we have to let time and God do their work.

Dear readers,

When my oldest son says he can’t wait for the next book in a series, I pay attention. And this series by Christa Kinde? Well, my loves-to-read boy loved every book and wanted more. So, I asked the author how she got her ideas and what books she would recommend. (You can find a photo album of teen books on the Simply Faithful Facebook page, and — also on Facebook – I happen to be giving away The Threshold Series, courtesy of Zonderkidz.)

Now, Christa…

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Prissie Pomeroy never gave much thought to invisible things

until the day she met a boy she shouldn’t have been able to see.

I’m often asked why I chose to write about angels. Supernatural things never fail to capture the imagination, so I borrowed a little from what the Scriptures tell us, pondered the possibilities, gave the details a tiny twist, and let the story take flight. The result is a four-book adventure about a girl who takes three very important things for granted—her family, her friends, and her faith. God catches Prissie’s attention in a miraculous way, proving He knew her needs even before she did.

Why do I write for tweens and teens? Maybe because I have five of them at home! While it’s true that I write the kinds of books I love to read, I’m also conscious of the imprint stories can leave. My childhood reading list shaped my desires and influenced my decisions. I’m grateful to God for the good books that found their way into my hands. Because they’ve read my stories, my kids have collapsed into giggles, grabbed for tissues, cheered for right choices, and learned what’s dearest to their mother’s heart.

In my opinion, the best books remind us that the Bible isn’t boring, church isn’t a chore, prayer connects us to our Maker, and Christians will stand out. Bible stories are given an interesting twist in the six-volume Passages series by Paul McCusker. Lovers of fantasy would enjoy the 10-volume Seven Sleepers series by Gilbert Morris. And a story I’ll never forget is The Heart Reader of Franklin High by Terri Blackstock.

To learn more, visit ChristaKinde.com and watch for monthly story installments at  Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

 

I met Alexandra Paulk at last year’s International Christian Retail Show where she — like other authors — were introducing their books. The difference? Her age. She wrote Cross Blades: The Purity Prophecy when she was 15. I’ve invited her to share her story here as part of our three-day look at teen literature. I think you’ll be as impressed with her as I am…

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I don’t see myself as a teen who purposefully writes for teens. I see myself as a person who has a story to tell and I happen to be a teenager. Readers who most enjoy my books at this point are teens and preteens, but I didn’t set out to capture a teen-only audience.

At writing conferences I’ve learned that the most believable stories are written from experience. At this point, my experience is based on 17 years of living. So, basically, I think that I write from that perspective.

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Alexandra Paulk

However, adults who have read Cross Blades: The Purity Prophecy are astounded that it was written when I was 15. They seem to think that the plot and characters were developed from a much more mature mindset.

I write fiction for morally discerning, intelligent teens: kids who like fast-paced out-of-galaxy stories, characters with depth and genuine personalities, and dialogue that challenges a teen’s vocabulary. I don’t believe in dumbing down dialogue to OMG and LOL. Furthermore, profanity, sexual situations and drugged-up party scenes can muddy up a good story, so I don’t include any of these in my own writing. That kind of stereotypical teen behavior is offensive to me.

I strongly believe that teen fiction authors have an opportunity to offer more than an entertaining escape. Within the pages of an action-packed adventure, authors can create exciting characters who approach and solve problems from a perspective of moral and social responsibility. On the other hand, I don’t like teen fiction that is “churchy” or excessively Christianized either. So far, I haven’t written a story where any character’s salvation experience moves the storyline forward.

Some of the characters in my writings have accepted Christ in their backstory, and they make Christ-honoring decisions that turn the plot. But, the character’s salvation story is not revealed.

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For me, writing a book is like a fantasy vacation that I can take with characters who have become so real, they are like living, breathing friends. I like them; I worry about them; their lives are in my hands. I don’t want bad things to happen to them but they must endure trials in order to grow. Just like God knows the plans He has for us, I know the plans I have for my characters. For the bad guy, judgment will come. For the good guys, reward shall rain down upon them — eventually. Maybe not in a first book, but later in the next installment, or the next.

Being a teen author has been an adventure in the process. I’m an introvert and it has been a learning curve to get comfortable with other teens coming up to me at a book signing or even in the hallway at school, asking me to sign a copy of Cross Blades. I don’t mind it, but for me, it is more fun to get beyond the “I’m-the-author” barrier, and simply talk with them about Capo, Hermano, Leonarda, or another of their favorite characters. Even my friends are always asking what is going to happen to one of the characters in the sequel. It is fun to hear ideas about what they believe would be justice for one of the bad guys. I love writing. I hope I still love it when I’m a hundred years old and writing for my fellow friends in the nursing home.

 

 

 

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