God Produced the Pineapples

I wanted to finish this month’s focus on Christian fiction by providing a prompt to write a poem in the style of the Psalms. But God produced the pineapples on Tuesday and that made me change my mind. I’ll explain.

After weeks and months of battling depression and anxiety within and circumstances without, I was drowning by Tuesday afternoon. You couldn’t tell by looking at me. As a mom, I shove on a brave face and still function, even if it’s at a low capacity.

I was in the process of chauffeuring kids, and when you live in the country, this can take hours. As I drove, I realized I needed fruit for supper and would have to stop at the store. I don’t like grocery shopping, and one more stop seemed so exhausting.

So I went home, hoping I’d find the pineapples I’d needed, actually praying for a can of pineapples. And I found them on the last pantry shelf I checked. Because of that, I got to take a fifteen minute break before heading out agin.

I was just so grateful to God. Maybe for more reason than I understand, God knew I needed pineapples on Tuesday afternoon. That act of kindness did wonders for my mental state. I grew hopeful.

Too often, I think of God as the One who split the Red Sea, rained manna, and raised the dead as if He’s only the god of dramatic rescues. But He’s also the god who cares enough about each of us personally to produce pineapples when He knows we need it. The god of the universe cares about our individual needs. That fact is awesome.

So my prompt today is: when has God produced the pineapples for you? I’d love to read your stories.

To read my posts about Christian fiction this month, click here.

Why I Write Christian Fiction

The answer to the question “why I write Christin fiction” might seem obvious–I’m a Christian, so that’s what I write. But as there are limitless facets to God, there are limitless reason why He inspires Christians to write Christian fiction.

In the beginning …

When I first tackled writing a novel at eighteen, I made my main character a Christian because I was one. I wanted to honor God with my writing and thought this was the way to do it. Also, I put so much of myself into my main characters that it was difficult for me to write from the POV of someone whose perception of the world was totally different from mine.

I worked on that novel and a novel set in West Virginia for years. I thought I was writing for my Father. I thought I was writing Christian fiction. But not exactly. I didn’t realize this until …

December, 2018

Mt. Zion Ridge Press was looking for stories for their Christmas anthology, and I had only two weeks to write a 5,000-word short story. My previous short story for them had taken two months, and it was only 4,000 words. But I had the inkling of an idea, different from the novels I’d tried to sell over the years, and told my husband I wanted to go for it.

I’ve never experience the Holy Spirit before or since like I did that month. I believe I encountered Him then for a number of reasons, not only to get a story written, because God is the Ultimate Author and extremely efficient in His use of characters, setting, and plot points. But as far as the story is concerned, my writing was different because for the first time I was aware that this was His story. It was a collaboration, and I brought something unique to it because He wanted to work with me, but if I had refused the opportunity, His work would have been done by another writer, who would have brought his or her own unique style to the story.

So the answer to the question is …

I write Christian fiction because, first, I know that’s what my Father wants me to do, and to do that, I have to be aware of Him throughout the process. That doesn’t mean I don’t study the craft of writing and won’t have to grit my teeth as I rewrite a scene ten times. But I have to keep in my mind He’s behind it all.

For example, I just finished a short story that’s an inverse mystery. An inverse mystery is one where the reader sees the criminal commit the crime, and the mystery revolves around how he or she is going to get caught. Episodes of the TV show Columbo are examples of inverse mysteries.

When I first wrote the short story, it just seemed like a clean read, a good mystery anyone could read and a Christian could enjoy without guilt. But as I worked on it, I realized I needed to get the evil main character right, have him reflect evil as it truly is. And the Bible is the place for that kind of research, as well as writings by C.S Lewis.

So although it’s still a clean read and an enjoyable mystery, working with my Father has given the story a depth I hadn’t expected.

So besides being obedient, I write Christian Fiction to know Him better. And since there will never be enough stories to do that, I look forward to our endless collaboration.

For more posts on Christian fiction, click here.

What Are Your Favorite Hymns?

What are your favorite hymns? And what makes them your favorites?

For me, it’s a combination of a tune I fall in love with and words that touch me. Although it’s hard to choose, “Be Thou My Vision” and “Morning Has Broken” are my favorites. Tunes for both hymns have their origins in Gaelic music, a favorite of mine. The poetry is so vivid for me–“Heart of my own heart” from “Be Thou My Vision”, “Born of the one light Eden saw play” from “Morning Has Broken”–that it’s impossible for me not to sing along and sense my heart soar.

Click on the titles to watch and hear versions of the hymns.

“Be Thou My Vision”

“Morning Has Broken”

For more posts on Christian Fiction, click here.

Finding Writing Inspiration in the Bible

Finding writing inspiration in the Bible isn’t confined to historical fiction or modern retellings of Biblical stories. Because the Bible contains all sorts of people, who faced all sorts of challenges, as well as discussions of human frailties, a writer can find limitless material for stories.

Need a Realistic Character?

Want to build a believable villain? Or a flawed hero? Study David, Solomon, Gideon, King Saul, King Ahab, Jonah, or any of the people mentioned in the Bible at length.

I’ve always found Abigail an intriguing person. She’s a woman in a difficult marriage. I admire how she handled what could have been a fatal decision on her husband’s part. She didn’t try to sweet-talk or harass him into changing his mind. She did what needed to be done and then told him.

Daniel is another fascinating person. I’ve just read Alister Begg’s commentary on the first seven chapters of Daniel, Brave by Faith, and gained a much better understanding of Daniel and God. From a fiction perspective, Daniel presents the building blocks for a unique rebel. In so many fiction stories about a country being invaded by another, the conquered people rise up and fight back in a military way. Daniel actually becomes one of the best administrators in Babylon–hard working and honest. But he is faithful to God. As Mr. Begg says, Daniel knows when it’s okay to do what the Babylonians ask and when it isn’t.

Even more surprising, Daniel always wants the welfare of his Babylonian overlords. When Nebuchadnezzar is warned by God to acknowledge Him or face the consequences, Daniel wishes the warning was for Nebuchadnezzar’s enemies.

Darius the Mede throws Daniel into the lion’s den. When he opens the cave and finds Daniel alive, Daniel’s first words are “May the king live forever!”. Not “You idiot, I hope my God gets you.” Not even “I resign from your administration”. He can be kind to the man who condemned him. Now that’s a refreshing approach to character building.

Need Family Drama?

The Bible is full of stories of families riven with conflict and tension, starting with Cain and Abel. Abraham, Sarah, and their descendants provide enough inspiration for millions of stories. One thing I find interesting is what a bunch of shysters Rebecca and her side of the family are. She tricks her husband Isaac into giving his blessing to Jacob, her preferred son, and Jacob goes along with it. Jacob also tricks Esau out of his birthright. Then Rebecca’s brother Laban tricks Jacob by marrying off his older daughter to him first, instead of giving him Rachel, whom Jacob loves. Rachel even tricks Laban when Jacob leaves Laban’s lands with his wives and children by stealing her father’s idols. And I haven’t even gotten to what Jacob’s kids get up to and the jealousy that leads to so much heartache.

All this double-crossing would seem excessive in a film noir. But the Bible shows that no matter how vile the act, there is the chance of redemption.

For more posts on Christian fiction, click here.

Who are your favorite people in the Bible? Or what story from the Bible has inspired your writing?

Poems of Faith

I love to write poetry. The art form is such a change of pace from writing mysteries. Nature usually is the catalyst to inspire me, and when it does, the result is almost always poems of faith.

One place in nature that sparks my poetic side is the river by our house. I find such escape and solace hanging there. Here’s a variation of a poem I wrote a few years ago.

If you’ve written a poem of faith, you can share it in the comments. Or share a favorite Christian poem. For more poetry prompts, click here.

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