Welcome to Godly Girls For God
Glorifying God and Encouraging Others.
- Reading Corner
Karen has received the 2013 Book of the Year Award from the Christian Small Publisher Association! Congratulations, Karen!
Some of our readers recognize your name as a GGFG writer - but some of them may not realize that you are a published author! Can you tell us a little about your book, "Is Your Fruit Sweet or Sour?" (http://preceptpublishing.com)
It was released in April 2012. It is a 12-chapter Bible study book that addresses the common topics that young women deal with, ones which can affect their spiritual walk with God. My book shows them how God's Word can be applied to help them deal with the issues and have a positive result-a "sweet" testimony lived for Christ!
What inspired the fruit/garden theme?
I had planted a garden in the summer of 2007, and began to notice things about the fruits and vegetables I had planted. For instance, I saw that the vine of my watermelon plant took up the whole garden, and I thought, "What a selfish plant!" I had planted beans which I thought were string beans, and they turned out to be lima beans. That gave me the illustration of hypocrisy. I started thinking about the weeds that creep in and ruin a good product... and then just began forming an outline. I like the symbolism and creativity that can be applied with such a theme too!
Did you have a specific moment where you knew you wanted to write this book, or was it over a period of time this desire grew? How did God lead you to accomplish this goal?
I would say the desire grew from a burden that I had. When I began teaching a teen girls' Sunday school class in 2001, I became familiar with the girls and what they struggled with. I didn't grow up learning God's Word, so I began to reflect back on the issues I faced as a teen and how different it may have been if I had been given a practical guide which would encourage me to stay on the right path. I would write short devotionals and Sunday school lessons for the girls, but it wasn't until much later that the idea of a book came to mind.
During the two years that I spent writing the book, I kept sensing God's pleasure was upon it. I think because of that, I was very persistent to not give up on getting the book published. I spent time researching the process of submitting book proposals to publishing companies, too. So, by the time I was completely done the book, I had already begun exploring those possibilities. It was after another two years of trying to get a Christian publisher to accept my work, that I considered going the route of self-publishing. God sent a number of people into my life who were able to help me accomplish that goal.
How did writing a book affect your family? How has your family shaped your thoughts? Do your children share your love of writing?
I had been freelance-writing for a local newspaper since 1994, so my family was used to seeing me on a computer typing up stuff! When I initially wrote out the outline, I had thought it could be used for (youth) Sunday school lessons, but then it became a more firmer thought like, "I'm going to write a book!" My family (especially my husband, Ted) was totally supportive and listened to a lot of my musings as I was drafting each chapter! Their input was very helpful. I don't know if my children would say they "love" writing, but I have seen strong writing abilities and creativity in each one of them. None of them struggle with putting their thoughts down on a piece of paper. I think that is a good thing!
Do you have a favorite part of the book? What's the biggest thing God has taught you writing this book?
I have a favorite "design" part and also a favorite "written" part of the book. You'll notice that in the first nine chapters, three weeds are discussed and that there is a picture of a weed with that particular section. When you get to Chapter 10, which is the topic of salvation, the topic discussed is not weeds anymore, but the "fruit" which results from a salvation decision. The picture is not a weed, but a plant with a pretty, heart-shaped bloom, which signifies a healthy plant or relationship."
My favorite written part of the book is the flashback stories used in each chapter. I have used many of those illustrations over the years and it was fun to use them as an introduction to the chapters. My final flashback, which is found in the Afterword section, is the story of how I led my Dad to the Lord just a few weeks before he died. It sort of ties together everything: years of prayer, staying faithful, witnessing and growing in the Lord. I still get emotional every time I read it-God is so good!
The biggest thing God has taught me in writing this book is that His Word will never fail us. There is an answer in it for every problem we encounter. There are so many examples He has given us from the Bible as well, so that we can see how mighty God was and still is! We truly can have victory in every area of our lives, if we focus on pleasing Him in everything we do.
When you take the quiz at the front of this book - what are your results (which one on page 19 are you)?
It's funny that you ask me that, because I've never actually "taken" the quiz! I think that it's because I knew what each category was and felt like I knew what the "expected" response should be. I developed the quiz after the entire manuscript was completed, more as an introductory kind of activity. I think it's a good way to get the girls thinking about their actions and behavior, before starting the Bible study.
I know that if I had taken the quiz as a teenager, I would have certainly been a grape, because my friends were a big part of my life, and pleasing them was so important to me. If I had taken it when I was college-aged, I know that I would have been a coconut (authority issues) or a carrot (wrong influences). I have had feedback from women of all ages who tell me that they still struggle with many of the topics covered in the book.
What chapter was hardest to write? Why was it difficult?
I seemed to get really stuck on the Chapter 8-Wrong Influences. On a personal level, I had to be transparent with my own young adult experiences and recognize the effect that had on my life. As a teenager and a young adult in my early 20's, I had ignored God for a very long time, and reflecting back on that reality again (while writing the book) humbled me greatly! In addition, I was seeing how that issue - wrong influences - was affecting our children, as they dealt with the various temptations and the consequences of those decisions. I remember thinking, "I just wrote about this topic, so do I really believe what God has to say about it, am I willing to trust His wisdom and Way in this matter?"
What other projects are you working on?
Since the release of my book a year ago, I have been very pro-active at marketing it. I am not only the author and publisher, but also the promoter of the material I write. I have worked hard at building up the credibility my book needs to have in the Christian retail market (especially since I am a first-time author). I have had a number of radio interviews and book-signings, plus have a few ministries which are now stocking my book and assisting me with advertising.
I am presently working on a second book, which is another Bible study book for women. It will deal with the topic of having a positive, Biblical self-image. I think so many girls think so low of themselves and fail to realize their worth and potential is God-given and God-driven! It will have a theme of some sort, using a similar style of symbolism to drive home its message... stay tuned!
GGFG's motto is, "Glorifying God and Encouraging Others" - so, I have to ask, do you have any advice for other writers? Or anything you would like to say specifically to the girls here at GGFG?
I like how your motto sums up the premise for living out the Christian life. My advice for other writers is to stay close to the Lord and pray that He will gift you with sensitivity. Be thankful for what He shows you and don't delay in sharing it on paper! Give Him the glory always.
Girls, know that God has a purpose for you. Whatever you are going through, He knows all about it and has divinely allowed it. Continue to trust Him, knowing that His ultimate plan for you is one of hope, peace and joy. Refresh yourself daily in His presence and allow others to see a testimony that reflects the love of Christ.
Is Your Fruit Sweet or Sour?
Throughout the book, a fruit / garden theme is carried through. There are 12 different sections, each with a unique theme. Karen shares personal anecdotes at the beginning of every chapter. Promises are pondered, Scripture searches are encouraged, and for every issue addressed, characteristics, cautions, and cures are listed. Features like "Digging Deeper" questions and "Seeds of Wisdom" are found throughout.
A special calling for leaders is found at the back of the book. Karen's words are great for small group Bible Study, but you also can benefit much from working through this on your own. I imagine it would also be great for a mother-daughter study.
I enjoyed the charts and some of the questions to answer. "What happens when we let these weeds grow?" "What happens when we let God's Word work in our lives?" The quiz at the beginning of the book sets the book up well.
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