Thoughts And Ramblings Of A Christian Writer – Part Three

Let’s be honest. Each one of us, if we’re telling the truth, wants to write something that leaves a lasting mark on this world.

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Each of us, as a writer, has a story inside of us that needs to come out.

Each one of us has a story that we want to bring to life.

Each one of us has something to say.

Each one of us wants to say something that matters.

This is where the concept of a “theme” comes in. A theme, in short, is the lesson, moral, or a concept of a story. And as authors, especially Christian authors, the concept of a theme is absolutely essential to our stories. It’s the meat and depth of our novel. It’s the heart and soul of our prose.

In my experience and observations, a theme can come into the picture in really any stage of the planning process. For some people, it’s easiest to start with the theme and structure the storyline around it. For others, myself included, it’s easiest to come up with the plotline first and than zoom into the lesson that you want to teach. The order doesn’t matter so much as the lesson that you choose to teach through your story. No one else can choose it for you. It has to come from your own heart, passion, and experience. It has to be something universal and unique—something that will inspire your readers in their own real, day-to-day-life. 

Personally, when I’m in the process of discovering my story’s themes, I do some soul searching—as I try to figure out what message I can convey through the storyline and what God has put on my heart to incorporate into my story. Oftentimes, I can even draw from my own life, as I think of things that I wish that I had known when I was younger. A theme, in short, can be anything from the importance of close friendships, to the problem with censorship, to the transforming power of faith in God. 

According to an article on www.novel-writing-help.com/what-is-theme-,html, “Theme is the deeper layer of meaning running beneath the story’s surface. While the surface story entertains the readers, the theme helps them to reach a new understanding of some aspect of the human condition.

Thus, while the story’s surface intention is to entertain, the story’s theme adds an extra, hidden dimension to a novel. It gives it depth, and helps us recognize things about ourselves and our world—much like how Jesus’ parable’s teach us important lessons about God and the world that we live in.

As humans, we’re all different, but we all experience many of the same experiences, hopes, and desires. Stories with strong themes capture this, and help us to see that we’re not alone. We find that other people have shared our same struggles and challenges, and have come out on the other side. When we delve deep into a novel’s theme, we often find that we’re not as alone as we think. 

As Christians, we have a guiding source of truth, which is God and His Word. Through spending time with God in prayer and reading our Bible regularly, we can develop strong themes and guiding principles for our writing (and life!). Thus, if you’re writing a story, I’d highly encourage you to look to Scripture for inspiration about your story’s theme. Like with anything else, God’s Word is always our best place to start. 

Some books that have gotten it right

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

Some movies that have gotten it right 

Do You Believe? 

Soul Surfer 

Freaky Friday 

Inside Out 

Dangerous Minds

How about you? What are your thoughts on creating a “theme” for your novel? Is there anything you’d like to add to this discussion? If so, please feel free to share it in the comments section below! Discussion is always encouraged here!😃

 

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Some Musings in Joseph’s Shoes

Note: The story below is in no way intended to be an addition of or distortion of the nativity account written in Scripture. This is not meant to be an exact, academic account of Joseph thoughts and feelings—this is simply written as a journal entry of what Joseph may have been feeling and thinking in light of the facts we are given in the Gospels and historical documents. Please do not take this as anything other than speculation as to what it may have been like to be in Joseph’s shoes.

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I can barely believe all that’s been going on lately. It all seems surreal, like something that would happen to some other guy. I knew it was supposed to happen someday—I studied it throughout my schooling, after all—but to me? A simple carpenter, engaged to a nice local girl? 

At first, when she told me, it felt as if someone had stuck a dagger through my chest. “It’s God’s baby.” she had told me. “An angel visited me and told me I would give birth to the Son of Man.” Now, I’ve never been one to doubt God, but this sound a little far fetched—even to me. My initial thought was that she’s been sleeping around, even though she’s never seemed like the type of girl to do such a thing. After all, Mary’s as pure as snow. She would never do something like that—not Mary. 

I knew Mary was a good person, but what was I supposed to think? Even more pressing, what was I supposed to do? I didn’t want her to be stoned—I didn’t want anything to happen to her. I love her—I have even before the marriage was arranged. She had a beautiful heart, I couldn’t be more lucky to be set up with someone like her. 

“What would our life look like together?” I wondered. Holding our heads down as we received dirty looks from the townspeople? Having to desperately try to explain to my friends that we did nothing wrong? Constantly being object of suspicion among the townspeople? I thought that the best thing for both of us would be to divorce her quietly, and draw the least possible amount of suspicion and attention as possible. That is, until I was visited by an angel last night, confirming that everything Mary had said was true. 

Mary was pregnant with the Child prophesied about in Scripture. 

She was telling the truth all along. 

I knew the road ahead would be hard, but after that sign from God, I knew what I had to do. I had to marry her—and be the best father I could be to this Child.

This blessing to us and the world.

Out of every couple throughout the course of history, we were the ones God picked to raise the Savior. I may have no idea what I’m doing—I’ve never been a husband or a father, after all, but I know that Mary and I will figure this out together. We’ll figure it all out together, because we’re a team. From this day forward, Mary and I are going to face the biggest challenge two people could face. 

Raising God’s child through the power of God and for the glory of God. 

As hard as it will be, I knew deep down that there was no greater honor. 

And I’m going to do this thing right.

No matter what the cost. 

 

Some Musings In Mary’s Shoe’s

Note: The story below is in no way intended to be an addition of or distortion of the nativity account written in Scripture. This is not meant to be an exact, academic account of Mary’s thoughts and feelings—this is simply written as a journal entry of what Mary may have been feeling and thinking in light of the facts we are given in the Gospels and historical documents. Please do not take this as anything other than speculation as to what it may have been like to be in Mary’s shoes. 

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I may not have believed it – if I hadn’t seen it so vividly with own eyes. I would say that this is the kind of thing one might expect from a dream, except I’m not sure even a dream could cover the absurdity of this situation. If I told any of my friends, I’m pretty sure they’d think I’ve lost it – and that’s the best-case-scenario.

I mean, virgins don’t get pregnant. They just don’t. And they certainly don’t get pregnant with the Awaited One —the man my entire country has waited centuries for. Why would God choose me of all of the girls in the world to carry His Son? What makes Him think that I’m fit for something so great? 

I’m just your average girl on the brink of adulthood (But don’t get me started on that). I laugh too loud when I’m nervous and sometimes I cry from joy rather than sadness. I grew up in a humble little town where literally nothing ever happens and I’ve had the same neighbors since birth.  Nazareth isn’t a place that’s big or flashy or important, it’s a small town — a town where everyone knows everyone else.* It’s not the kind of place that would bare someone so important. It’s not the kind of town where an ordinary girl becomes the mother to her Savior. 

Juse writing those words sends chills up my spine. Somehow, writing things like this down make them seem more real, more concrete. This is really happening — I’m really going to become pregnant with a child who is, as the angel put it, “The Son of God”*. 

I want to be happy about this — I really do. I am for the most part. But the other part of me is scared, terrified even. How will my parents react to this—their clean-cut daughter becoming pregnant without being married? How will my friends react—will they even talk to me any more? And what about Joseph? He’s bound to think that I’ve been unfaithful, there’s no other way of interpreting this kind of thing. I know I did nothing wrong, but I’m not sure anyone else will believe me. There’s a very real chance that I could even be killed for something like this. But even if that doesn’t happen, the public shame that’s certain to come will be a certain death in itself. Just yesterday, the only big event that I had in my near future  was the upcoming wedding. Now, not only will I soon be a wife, I’ll be a mom too. 

It’s all just happening so fast. I like Joseph, I really do! He’s a great guy who lives his whole life for the Lord. He’s a hard worker and a kind, sensitive soul. But I just wish there was a little more time – more of a chance to get to know him before marrying him. 

There’s so much I wish he knew about me. Like, how I draw in the sand to make sense of life around me. Or how sometimes, once everyone has gone to sleep, I climb up the old olive tree outside my house and wonder what’s out there, outside of my hometown. Or how often, when I’m tending to the animals, I wonder how aware they are of life around them.

And I want to know about him too – what he does when he’s not studying or working with his father…where he sees our life going in the future…what his favorite pastime is..the secrets that he’s never told anyone. I just feel like you should know these things about a person who you know is going to be so significant in your life. 

I wish I could talk to him about these sort of things, but I have a feeling that he wouldn’t understand. Joseph has always been quick to accept others’ expectations of him. He’s responsible, level headed, and never seems to to be jilted by anything. Well, up until now, that is. How he’ll respond to this situation is anyone’s guess. 

This pregnancy is about to change everything. My life will never look the same again. Never again will I be a young child—I’m about to have a child. But, do you want to know the craziest thing about all of this? Somewhere, deep down, I still have a certain peace. If everything is as the angel says it is, than the Lord is with me in very real way. He has His hand on this and what’s about to happen is all for His glory. It’s about Him. 

It always has been. 

It always will be. 

*Luke 1:32 

*www.jesus-story.net 

 

 

 

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge: Day 28

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Day 28…My most embarrassing moment 

I think that nearly every teenager/young adult has a couple of these in their rearview  mirror. I could honestly think of a few situations just off the top of my head. Nonetheless, for the sake of this post, I’ve narrowed it down to a situation that happened to me during sophomore year.

During my 10th grade year, I joined the yearbook staff. Thankfully, I soon found that most of the other students were really nice and I began talking with one of the guys in the group. We became friends pretty quickly, and talked about everything from movies to school. Nonetheless, we eventually got to a point where we were running out of topics

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you may remember that I’m horrible at small talk. I was grasping for literally anything to talk about, so I asked the lamest question in the book: “What’s you’re favorite color?” 

I knew the question was pathetic, but I didn’t think there was anything problematic about the question.

I was dead wrong. To this day, I still remember his reply.

I’m colorblind.

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I had just asked a person who was colorblind their favorite color.

I’m pretty sure I apologized about twenty times after that.

To make matters worse, I remembered after the fact that he had already told me about that a couple of days ago, but in that moment, it had completely slipped my mind.

Thankfully, he was cool about it, and we’re still friends to this day. But, at the time, it was pretty awkward.

I suppose it’s moments like this that serve as a good reminder of our humanness. It’s amazing how many awkward situations we can manage to find (or put) ourselves in. I know I’ve had my fair share of “awkward moments”

 

How about you? Have you ever found yourself in an awkward/embarrassing situation? If so, how did you react? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Thirty Day Blogging Challenge: Day 25

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Day 25…Your biggest regret. 

Truth be told, I don’t really have a lot of huge regrets. Perhaps it’s because of the fact that I’m still fairly young, or perhaps it’s because I don’t really take a lot of risks without calculating the consequences. Still, I have made mistakes and for this post, I have decided to write about my “moment of rebellion” in middle school.

I was playing manhunt with my youth group and one of my friends and I hid in a small opening under a bridge that led to one of the buildings. It was dark, dirty, and fairly uncomfortable under the bridge, but it was a good place to hide, so we both stayed still and silent. Even when two boys began jumping on top of the bridge, we managed to stay (somewhat) silent.

Eventually, the game ended and we heard one of the leaders announce that it was time to go back outside.

“Are you coming?” I remember asking my friend, ready to get up from dirt covered ground.

She then noted that it would be a good idea to stay hidden. Otherwise, no one would know that we had won the game. Since I’ve always been very adherent to rules, I was reluctant, but ended up staying.

I was going through a bit of a rough patch during this time, dealing with the typical trials of growing up. I think a big reason I went through with the plan was because I wanted to know that someone would notice if I was gone. In retrospect, it was dumb and juvenile, but I think everyone has something in their past that makes them wonder, “What was I thinking?”

Obviously, when one of the leaders found us, they were upset, and the following day, I had to send an apology letter to the leaders for not following the rules. I was pretty embarrassed long after that, worried that the people there were angry with me for what I did. After a while, the waters calmed and things went back to normal; but I still regret acting so foolishly.

I’d like to include a note in this post if you’re thinking of your own regrets: You’re never too far away from God’s grace. There is no mistake too big to be forgiven. 

Romans 3:20-24 says “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

And, Romans 5:1-2 says “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We serve a God that loves, forgives, and saves, and you’re never too far out of His reach. 

In the words of Jeremy Camp, “He’ll take you back”!