Author Interview: Belinda Kramer ~ Jesus and the Children of Galilee

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I’m thrilled to welcome author Belinda Kramer to my blog today.

Belinda is a new and dear friend I met through my local Christian writers’ group. She has a warm and welcoming smile and is a big encourager.

When I heard she’d written a book called Jesus and the Children of Galilee, about Jesus and two school- aged boys who meet and follow Him, I was intrigued and eager to read the story.

About the Author:

10934134_802963359741100_229522009037598721_o[1]Belinda Kramer is an educator, journalist, and speaker. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from the University of Florida and a Spanish teaching certificate for kindergarten through twelfth grade levels. Her publishing career began at the age of fifteen when she entered a national short story writing contest and won first place for her story, “The Eternal Promise.”

She has 15 years of experience in public schools teaching Spanish to middle and high school students. Her love for teaching and guiding young people provided the inspiration for her first book “Jesus and the Children of Galilee.”

When she is not teaching she can be found on a running trail, logging some extra miles. Mother of two grown children, Lauren and Nathan, Belinda currently lives in central Florida with her husband Jack.

From the Back of the Book:

Brothers Benjamin and Joel spend their days casting their nets and dreaming about their futures. Benjamin wants to become Galilee’s most prosperous fisherman, and Joel’s dream is to become an important Pharisee–a Jewish leader of the city. One day, they meet a strange newcomer who takes a special interest in helping them.

They follow this stranger all throughout Galilee, witnessing miraculous events and listening to his wisdom. This man is a healer, and claims to be the Son of God. Benjamin believes that this kind rabbi is the city’s new hero, the one they’ve been waiting for, but Joel isn’t so sure. When tragedy strikes, Joel soon learns a valuable lesson that will change his life and the course of history.

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K: Jesus and the Children of Galilee is a powerful little book about the earthly ministry of Jesus. It’s written in the point of view of two brothers who meet the man claiming to be the Son of God. The story is a unique and beautiful glimpse at the life of Jesus. Please share where the idea came from, and about your journey to publication.

B: My publishing journey began after I joined the Brandon Christian Writers Group and they sponsored a writers’ conference. One of the special guests was Tim Lowry from Ambassador International, a Christian publishing company. After discussing my idea he asked me to send my manuscript, which I subsequently sent after getting it edited and getting my courage up to send it. They accepted it and much to my surprise offered me a publishing contract.

I was inspired to write it after watching my two young nephews throw a cast net off a dock one Easter weekend a couple of years ago. I asked myself, “What if Jesus had encountered two little boys who were fishing on the shore of Galilee? What would he have said to them? How might he have reached them on such a level that they too would become future leaders of the Christian church?” From these questions emerged my story.

K: I really enjoyed the relationship between Benjamin and Joel. In some ways their personalities reminded me of my boys. Elder brother Joel is serious and thoughtful, full of questions, while younger brother Benjamin is fun-loving and lighthearted, with a simple, sure faith.

This description is particularly rich and poignant. “Two tan boys ran barefoot along the sand. They were born of the same mother, but were as different as the shores of the immense Galilee.” Where did you find inspiration for their characters?

B: I have two children. My 21-year-old daughter Lauren is the oldest and when she read the book she quickly recognized herself in Joel’s character. From a young age she questioned everything. Her younger brother Nathan, 19, is the more playful sort that can make a friend in a minute, much like Benjamin.

K: Jesus and the Children of Galilee has twenty-nine concise chapters; at just over 100 pages, the book is a very readable length for children. As a parent, I appreciate this. Are you a writer who plans and outlines, or did you write one chapter at a time and let the story lead?

B: I wrote as I was inspired by God to do it. The funny thing was that the chapters kept coming to me in short takes. I stayed with that length through most of the book. Maybe it came from knowing that many of my middle school students have a short span of attention. I let the story lead as I felt God directed it. I prayed a lot, asking Him to reveal what He wanted my readers to see and hear.

Once I even dreamed I saw Jesus standing on the shore of Galilee just as I described him in the opening chapter looking out over the water with the wind rustling the hem of his tunic. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever dreamed with Jesus. It was so very real.

K: The story takes the reader through a portion of Jesus’ ministry, including some of the miracles He performed while ministering on earth. I loved that Jesus and the Children of Galilee gives the reader an up-close-and-personal view of Jesus feeding the five thousand and the healing of the sick girl, as well as a touching glimpse of his arrest and crucifixion, through Benjamin and Joel’s eyes. What was the most enjoyable part of writing this story? What about the most difficult?

B: The most enjoyable part of the story was trying to imagine being there at each of those major events myself as a child. I am 54 years old and I don’t like seeing things as an adult sometime. When you see everything as an adult you can become too cynical and untrusting. Through the eyes of children we trust more and we believe more easily.

The most difficult part was how to talk about the crucifixion. I wanted to focus more on the resurrection than all the horrific details of Jesus’ death. I almost didn’t even write the chapter where the boys see Jesus on the way to Calvary, but my father said it needed to be included. I’m so glad he convinced me because it was important for the boys to see some of the pain and sacrifice Jesus had to endure. We must always remember that.

K: Do you have any more books or story ideas on the horizon?

B: I think the book’s epilogue leaves room for a possible sequel with the characters being grown men. The early days of the Christian church through the eyes of Joel and Benjamin’s children might make another historical fiction book.

K: That sounds fascinating! I’ll pray God leads you to write that story, too.

***

Thank you so much, Belinda, for stopping by and answering my questions and sharing about Jesus and the Children of Galilee. I appreciate and highly recommend this gem of a story about our Savior.

For more information about Belinda and Jesus and the Children of Galilee, here are links to her website and Amazon page.

Belinda’s Website

Amazon: Jesus and the Children of Galilee

The Gladiolus and the Dragonfly

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I should chop that thing down.

The emerald green of the gladiolus stem was gone. In its place was a dried out, bare stalk. The flowers had withered away, their deep pink beauty just a memory.

The bloom was off the gladiolus, and my glove-covered hands itched to snip, snip.

But, I didn’t.

I’d planted the seed months ago, in the expectant air of spring. A tiny promise in a bag.

My hubby said it would be tall, and it was. God’s amazing design, from nearly invisible in the palm to breathtaking beauty towering over the garden.

Hidden safely away beneath dark soil for weeks, months, the seed finally sprouted then shot up to nearly the same height as my nine-year old.

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The gladiolus flower was gorgeous, well worth the wait. Fuchsia tinted with darker, silken edges, it captured the eye and touched the soul with the lushness of God’s paintbrush.

But in the grip of Florida’s summer heat, the flower faded then shriveled up, as did the stem.

For some reason that day, I didn’t cut down the withered gladiolus stalk.

Weeks passed.

The stalk faded to light brown just outside our kitchen window, its frailty evident when the wind blew and the rain pounded.

I should chop that thing down.

But, I didn’t.

Recently, I glanced out the window to a startling sight. On top of the dried up stalk perched a fuchsia dragonfly, like a king, or queen, surveying its flowery domain.

Its delicate, lacy wings and large compound eyes were perfectly still.

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The bright spot of color reminded me of the flowers that once graced the gladiolus stem, and I whispered a prayer of thanks to God for the gift, so close to my window.

See, I have a thing for dragonflies, for their perfectly created gift for flight. They fascinate me, with their acrobatic action and huge, shimmery eyes.

In the days following, the pretty fuchsia dragonfly landed on that dead stalk multiple times.

Insect nap time?

I’m not sure, but how my boys and I delighted in its pink presence throughout the day.

Eventually, another one arrived on the stalk.

Golden and smaller, it also came faithfully, perching atop the stalk and providing a close up view of this fascinating little creature of flight.

And I found myself grateful for that dried up gladiolus stalk. For the reminder of the beauty God brings from the withered away moments in my life.

Wondering, praying, and begging, ‘Please God, what good can come of this?’

~~The difficult, painful months dealing with crippling anxiety.

God’s beauty: Identifying with, understanding, and sympathizing with others–friends, family, sisters in Christ–who’ve dealt with anxiety and depression. Encouraging them.

Best part? I can share that Jesus truly never leaves you or forsakes you.

~~The last six years of impatient waiting and the struggle to trust God’s timing, as I learned to write right in the grace-filled wilderness of this dream He scribbled–with a Sharpie–into my heart.

“Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:5)

God’s Beauty: Walking in faith to the perfect timing of His plans, toward the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in September, in which one of my unpublished manuscripts finaled. Praying for those who didn’t final, because I’ve been there, many times.

Best part? Whatever the outcome may be, “I’m confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

Life isn’t all pops of bright color and flowery beauty. It’s often dry stalks and bare stems. But God will use those times for His glory, to strengthen our faith, and to bless and encourage those He’s placed in our life.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)

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