by Sara Brunsvold
Without question, I have written a character I want to be when I grow up. Clara Kip may be in hospice, but she is a vivacious, funny, ardently faithful woman who would rather spend her last ounce of energy to sow grace into others’ lives than to rest. Oh to be her! To have that kind of attitude about leveraging every breath I draw!
It’s been said that stories are a ministry to their authors first, and I attest it is true. Mrs. Kip and her story have been a tremendous ministry to me. I believe God gave me the character of Mrs. Kip at a time I needed her the most, for my own growth.
To write a character well, an author must know everything about them—their traits, birthday, family tree, hopes, fears, weaknesses, victories and sins. Authors must slip into the minds of their characters and see the world from their points of view.
When I’m writing a character’s story, I have the opportunity to decide how they will act and react in any given situation. In a sense, I live vicariously through them. I get to see how they might live out the scriptural truths and commands that I am learning in my own personal faith walk. For instance, if the command is extending mercy to someone who doesn’t deserve it, I can explore what it would mean for the character to live in obedience to this command. What does it require of her? What does it cost her? How does she overcome the conflict with her own desires?
As I was writing Mrs. Kip, I was parked in one scriptural truth in particular in my personal walk: the freedom found in surrendering to God’s will.
Mrs. Kip had a dream she held precious in her heart. She had desired this dream for years and did everything in her power to make it come true. This is something that I, as an aspiring writer with a lifelong dream of being a novelist, related too intimately.
Over the course of the book, we see snippets of Mrs. Kip’s past in which she clings white-knuckled to this dream. She grows increasingly frustrated because it doesn’t come to pass. Then, over the course of those snippets, we see milestones in her learning how to lay it down and surrender to God’s will. We see her slowly releasing her grip and trusting that God would replace whatever she surrendered with something better. Which is exactly what He does. And she finds a beautiful, uncontainable freedom in that surrender.
This surrender extends beyond laying down her dream, though. It reshapes her entire perspective of work, relationships and acts of compassion. She truly puts off the old self and puts on the new (Ephesians 4:22-24).
After writing a character like that, how could I not also admit how white my knuckles were as I clung to my own dream? It is not an exaggeration to say that during the rocky road to publication, I reached the point where I was willing to completely lay down the dream of writing, if that’s what God willed. Not because I didn’t love writing or wouldn’t grieve if God said no, but because I learned to trust that whatever I let go of, He would replace with something better.
The Lord taught me that through Mrs. Kip.
My prayer is that she will be an equally meaningful ministry to the other hearts God has prepared to experience her story.
About the Author
Sara Brunsvold creates stories that speak hope, truth and life. Influenced by humble women of God who find His fingerprints in the everyday, she does the same in her life and her storytelling. She lives with her family in the Kansas City metro.
About the Book
Aidyn Kelley is talented, ambitious and ready for a more serious assignment than the fluff pieces she's been getting as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. In her eagerness, she pushes too hard, earning herself the menial task of writing an obituary for an unremarkable woman who's just entered hospice care. But there's more to Clara Kip than meets the eye.
Did You Know?
Donkeys may be the most misunderstood of God’s creatures. No wonder they look so sad.
Donkeys are stubborn. Donkeys are cautious animals. They will not go into an area they are unsure of. The first time one of our donkeys encountered a puddle of water, she wouldn’t step through it. She didn’t know how deep it was. Once another donkey went through, she carefully did so as well. Donkeys aren’t stubborn; they want to know what’s ahead.
Donkeys have little value. Look in the Old Testament. Donkeys are listed as part of a man’s wealth. Jacob’s wealth is not only the sheep he raised, but also in his donkey count. He more than doubled his herd. Job is credited with 500 of the animals. We’re told in the Ten Commandments not to covet our neighbor’s donkeys.
Donkeys are merely beast of burden. In Bible times, donkeys were not only a symbol of wealth but also the ride of kings. When kings were riding in peace, they rode on a donkey. Riding a horse meant coming in war. Solomon rode a donkey on the day he was recognized as the new king of Israel (I Kings 1:33). Jesus chose to ride a donkey into Jerusalem to represent His kingship.
We’ve all been misunderstood at some time. At least we know we are in good company with the chosen animal of kings, because we are the chosen of the King.
-Susan K. Stewart, Donkey Devos
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“People long to connect and belong. Bookstores provide a place where authors and readers find one another—where we share this wild, winsome and zany journey called life.”
-Peggy Sue Wells, The Patent