Growing up and Growing in

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The TV flicks on, and I search for my favorite music station on Pandora. Writing music.

Beside the music menu, Curious George’s face fills the screen. Tears prickle so fast I barely have time to blink before they’re racing down my cheeks.

My mind clicks back. Wondering how long since my boys and I read about George’s fishing adventures with the man with the yellow hat? (Fishing with cake? Only George could pull that off.) How long since we watched the colorful animated movie filled with a delightful soundtrack and a beautiful reminder about friendship?

Okay, so this post isn’t actually about Curious George. (Though it was one of my favorite book and TV show series when the boys were younger.)

It’s about parenthood–looking back, saying goodbye to yesterday, and leaning in to our Father when the looking forward scares us. (Because parents get scared, too.)

This year we have a 6th and 4th grader. Where these little boys went, I’m not sure.

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The fact is they’ve grown, and grown, and grown. Now we face the newest phase in parenthood–letting them go, little by little, to new places where we aren’t.

Growing up and growing out.

Pass the tissues, please.

Up ahead looms a middle & high school retreat, where 6th-12th graders spend twenty-four hours at a camp an hour away. Wait, what? Away? Middle and high school?

But this.

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And this. DSC04066 (2)

Some laugh and say, “Get over it. It’s life, they grow up, they’ll be fine.” Others squint, tear up, and reach in their purse for extra tissues. “They’re your babies.”

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Though they’re not babies anymore, they’re still our children. Still under our care, still young and impressionable. And I’m struggling in this transition, the reality of parenting that says we must let them grow up and grow out.

Become who God intends them to be.

Because God endures forever. Childhood? So very fleeting. “But You, O lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations.” (Ps. 102:12)

Last night, my eleven-year old placed his hand on my shoulder, ducked his-almost-same-eye-level face. “Mom, did you sign the retreat paperwork? I have to return it tomorrow.”

He’s excited to spend time with three classmate buddies in a cabin. Playing games, having fellowship. I’m praying about it, giving my worry to God and remembering His great love for our children (greater than my own).

While walking this morning, I noticed an oak tree in a neighbor’s yard, surrounded by dozens of saplings. Little trees that haven’t been mowed down or pulled out. Acorns taking root and growing.

But instead of growing up and growing out, these little baby trees are growing up and in. Close.

Treepic

Those saplings reminded me. God doesn’t want us growing up and out like our children are, from us.

“You know everything. You’re all set, on your own now. Have fun!” Says God NEVER in His word. Instead, He wants us close, because He knows we need Him.

Growing up and growing in.

God’s word calls us, reminds us, pleads with us, to stay close to Jesus. To grow up and in. Close to our Savior.

“As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.” (Psalm 103:15-17)

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.

***

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

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