Christian Values – How to Impart Morals in Literature

Guest Post by Jan Verhoeff

Do words impact your reader with Christian Values? The most important aspect of writing is moving your audience with words to make a difference. Christian values seep out of literature only when they’re included in the fabric and content of the story, the characters, and the settings that make up the material.

As a writer, I get excited when I read a piece of value driven literature with moral values and a message that can drive my reader to better life choices. In fact, I’ve found even in the least likely genre. With a Christian message, any story makes a big impact on the reader.

1 – Character Development

book writer Every character has both good and bad character traits and how your characters develop in the story impact the overall outcome of the book. Is your book successful? Is your character developed throughout the book? Or do your characters feel flat and bland?

In a recent project a specific character lacked depth and purpose throughout the book, because his motives were unfocused. When a character is focused, he becomes real. Have you ever noticed, even in real life, people who lack focus are boring? Maladjusted individuals can’t quite meet the real world social requirements because they lack substance. On the other hand, people who are focused, purposeful, and have moral fabric woven through their being, provide plenty of social interest. Subsequently, as an author, you’ll want to find the direct focus for each character that you want your reader to remember.

Yes, of course, there will be some casually mentioned characters who have no real personal value in the book. Because your book will include a variety of well rounded characters, the overall moral structure will impact your reader.

2 – Scene Setting Descriptions

Christian ValuesWere you aware that color has moral value? God appears vividly apparent in the brilliance of His blessed creation when Christians describe daybreak, or sunset. Have you ever heard a Christian lament the power sunrise has over their emotional well being? Christian values are found in all of God’s creation. Nature sings His praise and victory.

Color defines moral values. A dark night implies evil, restless, sin. A bright morning imparts God’s blessing, love, and abundance on His children. The incredible power of God’s love exists in the very breath of life, because all life is likened unto God.

The dirty little secret of Christian Values? Even NON-Christian writers can’t avoid impact of creation on their world view, because the descriptions of almost every setting reveals the God-like characteristics of nature. That’s impact.

3 – Story Line Flow

Christian ValuesThe ebb and flow of your story, largely reactive to the character development and action in your story becomes either classic, or reactive, because of the direction of your characters focus. When the character has a specific goal in mind, and applies his attention and determination to achieving that goal, chaos reigns, because anytime you’re right with the Lord, the devil gets active. The challenges, chaos, and strife faced by your character can generally be directly attributed to sin in their past, sin in their present, or sin they’ll commit in their future. Those moral actions make a huge impact on the ultimate goals and success of your character.

In almost no situation will your main character ever overcome the destruction of challenges in their life without proving themselves worthy with moral values. The story of Christianity may not be a part of your story line, but I’ll lay down cash that your characters ultimate good is a direct result of God, or a God-like influence on his or her life. Why? Because that’s how life happens.

Mark my words, it’s all true.

4 – Purpose, Meaning, and Focus

In a romance, the guy wants his girl. The girl definitely gets her man. The end result is love, sweet love. That’s just how a romance rocks. The purpose of your book will have a definite meaning based on the genre of your book. But the overall outcome of your book is determined by the challenges, chaos, and undoing of the overwhelming despair of your main character. If he can’t get it together in your book, your book won’t sell, it won’t market, and nothing you can do will put that book in front of the right people, if you can’t achieve the ultimate purpose of your efforts.

The meaning, spelled out pretty easily in a few paragraphs of your book, introduces the next characters. In most instances, the meaning of your book will be apparent to the reader soon after they start reading.

write your storyPure Entertainment – the book will be chock-full of laughter, humor, and other fun events, but may have little in the way of an actual ”reader lesson” because this book is meant to entertain. While you may teach your readers something of value, they won’t know they learned a valuable lesson right away.

Good and Evil – everyone recognizes the clear values and attributes of good and evil. No lesson could be as clear as the lesson that says Plan A is RIGHT, and you should go there, your decisions should result in Plan A, or Plan B is bad and you should NEVER do it. No matter what.

Conceptual Lesson – some books are intended to teach you one lesson, such as wear your seat belt. The author will nix the entire book at the end to share with you that one measly action that will make no difference to anyone other than YOU. Or him. The idea is that each lesson learned takes a story line, therefore your book may teach several lessons using more than one story line.

Stay focused.

5 – Christian Values

Honing your Christian values as you write is always a good way to bring them out in the open, add discussion, and invite people to ask or share their testimony in your blog posts or on their reviews. What better way to focus on Christian, moral thinking? Increase your conceptual discussion, by having a talk about sinful behavior, or why one should have integrity in a business transaction. However you choose to introduce Christian values into your book, the story should be told including those items, rather than the items be shared to tell the story.

Adding any extra precepts to your story should be an afterthought rather than the prime purpose of the story.

For instance, many years back a writer shared her story – but nobody realized until toward the end of her story that she had lost an arm just below her elbow to a childhood accident. She hadn’t made her inadequacy the main pillar of the story but rather included it as a part of the story somewhere near the end of the book. That’s what your purpose, or values, or concept should be – a part of the whole story, but revealed as an afterthought.

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Jan Verhoeff is a writer. She occasionally shares concepts and ideas about writing as a guest blogger on a wide variety of blogs, writer websites, and networks online. If you’d like to discuss something about your book with her – you may contact her for a “coffee chat” by clicking on the link below.

Come chat over coffee

Bubble Tea for Maria

Boba tea or bubble tea

Do you know what ‘bubble tea’ is?

Maria decided that, for her birthday, some boba balls (the ‘bubbles’ in the bubble tea) would be the perfect birthday gift!

Maria with her homemade bubble tea.

We discussed the merits of popping boba versus the large tapioca pearl boba. I prefer the popping boba, especially after having been served a drink (once only, thankfully) where the tapioca boba weren’t properly cooked and the consistency was off.

I did some research. Popping boba come in small expensive tubs that don’t last for more than a few drinks, but I could buy the ingredients to make them (this is a fairly time intensive project), or I could buy the tapioca boba.

I decided to put the popping boba project off till fall, and buy tapioca boba now.

After reading the customer reviews, I discovered that not all tapioca pearls are created equal. Some have a better success-rate at plumping up into boba balls. I also discovered that the ‘rainbow’ boba are rainbow-colored thanks to dyes. I wasn’t able to find any plain white boba. Apparently that isn’t a thing?

Because of the chemical sensitivities, I wish it was…

I ordered a bag of black boba and a packet of bubble tea straws. I wanted fewer straws, but I couldn’t find the translucent straws in a smaller package, and–for that number, they were fairly cheap, so–150 fat bubble tea straws later…

They arrived on Thursday. On Friday we had time to play, so we experimented!

I wanted to see if we could cook the boba in apple juice instead of water, or water with added syrup.

Here’s our recipe:

  • 1 cup tapioca boba
  • 3 cups apple juice

boil on high for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn temp down/off for last 5 minutes, put on lid. Don’t forget to stir! (this is not a project you can walk away from the stove and ignore).

Allow to sit/rest off the burner for about 5-10 minutes more.

Drain/rinse using cool filtered water, then drop the plumped balls into more cool water, swish around, and rinse again. Drain thoroughly, add to the tumbler of your choice, add ice, tea (sweet tea concentrate works best), and milk or coconut milk, add a straw and serve.

A few notes: this package of boba balls has a hint of a smoky fragrance about it that reminds me somehow of molasses. Maybe that was the caramel flavoring?

Boiling in the apple juice didn’t diminish this odor or the flavor as much as I’d hoped. I want to try again with a conventional recipe, boil in water, and store in the fridge overnight in water and alternatively, a much stronger flavored syrup to see if either one makes a difference.

On the plus side, these boba were, however, as fresh and soft as guaranteed coming out of the vacuum pack, and they plumped up very quickly in the boiling juice.

You may not notice the flavor as much as I do, because I’m hyper-sensitized to flavors as well as everything else, but I do need to mention that I also had a very unfortunate reaction following drinking that glass of tea, and I’m not sure I want another one any time soon.

And these are Maria’s boba… I think I need to purchase more for me, and see if I can’t find some without that smoky flavor to them, even if I do have to boil them for longer.

Epilogue: last night the cats had a party in my cupboard! They found the straws, trashed the opened pack (72 remaining in it), and strewed them across my kitchen floor! I’ve had to hide the rest in a high cupboard they can’t get into…

Ah well… everyone’s had their fun now!

Turn off your ad blocker to view the Amazon links below for the tapioca boba and straws I bought, if you’d like to try them:

Large tapioca pearls (boba) for Bubble Tea

Large tapioca pearls (boba) for Bubble Tea

150 fat bubble tea straws

150 fat bubble tea straws

What Dad Means To Me

Since Father’s Day is coming up, I thought I would talk about what Dad means to me!

Dad is a good provider. He has kept a roof over my head since my divorce.

Being a man of peace, he has also sought on countless occasions to calm those troubled waters. I’m very grateful to him for his efforts, even when they haven’t met with success.

Dad is a man of prayer. Every morning, he and Mom can be found having devotions and praying together. When things in my life have sailed beyond my control, he has been there to pray with me and hold my hand as I walked through the greatest trials and challenges that life has thrown at me.

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Dad is very handy. Our home is a beautiful testimony to Dad’s handiness with everything from hammer and nails to the beautiful grass, trees, and raised garden beds he put in so that Mom and I wouldn’t have to bend down as much to weed.

Dad loves sports! But…everyone who knows me well knows that I am completely and happily clueless when it comes to sports. I can still listen to Dad talk about sports and his favorite teams for hours! He comes totally alive. I love watching him be that alive!

Dad is very quiet. It is hard to get him talking sometimes unless it’s about sports or about God (another instance where he becomes totally alive).

Dad also has a great sense of humor. It’s very dry and quiet, but every once in a while he’ll come out with something unexpected that puts us all into stitches!

Dad to me means all of these things: provision, peace, prayer, handiness, sports, humor.

I love these aspects of Dad’s character. What do you love about your Dad? What does Dad mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Physical Therapy – To Be Or Not To Be

yellow tulip Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like this frazzled yellow tulip! Pain does that.

I went to see the doctor last week, and we talked about where I was with putting my health back together again. The thyroid situation seems to have stabilized, other mysterious things continue to go wrong, but–I seem to be doing a bit better at handling them.

Now I need exercise and to lose weight.

This tulip kind of looks like it's exercising, doesn't it?

This tulip looks like it’s exercising-doesn’t it?

But even though I’m doing better at keeping my S/I joint “in” (the physical therapist says this is not the right term for it, but won’t give me a better one), I’m having a lot of issues with pain that seem to be related to lack of adequate muscle support for my back.

I can’t exercise effectively without correcting this lack.

We agreed that I should try physical therapy once more.

Today I had my second physical therapy visit. I’ve been doing the exercises (YAY! I can do them now!), and I really want to work with her, but–there’s a hitch. Now we’re waiting on approval for the physical therapy.

purple and white tulipsSo I don’t know when I’ll get to go back. Please pray for me, that I can stick with the physical therapy exercises, and that approval will come through quickly. I can’t tell you how badly that S/I joint hurts some days, but–I can assure that it’s really really awful at times!

And hey, thanks so much for praying! I really appreciate it.

A Life Well-Lived Despite The Pain

Lilacs from the UNL ArboretumI’m currently coming off another round with the mother of all headaches. I don’t get one of these too often, but when I do…YOWZA! I feel like one of those MOAB bombs exploded in the back on my head and took everything with it!

Do you know what that feels like? Does it ever happen to you?

I know I inflicted this pain on myself too, but I’m not entirely sure how. Was it caused or contributed to by the all the exercise I did over the weekend, cleaning for company and planting lots of spring flowers? Did I trigger it by going to the Arboretum and taking photos of the (very) fragrant lilacs on what proved to be a somewhat windy day? Was something I ate responsible for this?

Lil' Stinker kitty enjoying the fresh air and the new flowers in the window boxes

I planted 3 window boxes, 3 or 4 pots, and one raised bed after we cleaned house Saturday. Here’s Lil’ Stinker enjoying the fresh air and flowers in the window boxes.

Or was it caused by some combination of the above or by all of the above getting together and having a wild thumping party in my skull?

I’m not sure. I only know that by yesterday morning, extreme fatigue had set in, and eventually my skull started split…

I’m not sorry for doing any of these things I’ve mentioned, you understand: a girl’s gotta eat and exercise, after all–and even though I do try to be very careful most of the time, when there’s company I let my guard down and do things I usually don’t, just because.

I’m especially not sorry I got all that exercise! Not even when my back was screaming blue murder at me was I sorry–

more lilacsAnd I’m most especially NOT sorry I took photos of lilacs!

I love flowers, and I love spending time with family at the Arboretum. It’s one of my favorite places.

Pain is a part of life. Paying for living by spending a day in bed every so often with the mother of all headaches, while miserable and nasty, and so not what I ever want to do with my day, seems to occasionally be a necessity–if I want to actually live and enjoy life.

I’d love to draw a spiritual truth into this from the Bible. I’m sure you could think of a few! Unfortunately, being on the tail end of this kind of headache makes it hard to connect certain types of dots. Maybe I’ll remember tomorrow and add to this post? And maybe I won’t!

And I wonder–because I doubt that I’m alone in this–what makes your life well-lived even when you pay for that living with pain?