What Material Did You Acquire?

According to author Willa Cather, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.”

Her words hit home with me. I was six years old when I first became enamored with Jesus. Six years later, I asked Him into my heart when I understood that I needed a Savior. As a child, I’d pretend to be a missionary nurse and explain the Gospel to my dolls. When I was fifteen, I wrote a fiction story (which filled three spiral notebooks) based on a missionary nurse in Africa. Alas, I never became a nurse or a missionary. However, sharing the Gospel and talking about Jesus never waned. And that “material, acquired before the age of fifteen,” defines me as an author.

The theme of God’s love, grace, and faithfulness revealed in ordinary people’s lives is what I write about on my blog, devotions, first-person stories. If I wrote fiction, I’d incorporate the same theme. I’ve tried to think “outside my box” and daydream about writing the next great American novel. But I always return to the subject…nay, the object of my affection…Christ Jesus.

Granted, some days I question why I’m writing. Wonder if my words make a difference. I grumble that it’d be easier if I pursued a career as a concert pianist even though I don’t play the piano. But then I read the Bible. Or someone tells me about God’s transforming power in their lives—and I’m hooked. Heart ignites. Fingers start typing. Joy trickles along my spine.

Someone asked me, “Why don’t you write a secular novel which translates to the movie screen instead of writing for Christians magazines?” The person implied I’d never earn money or fame. Great point if those were the carrots that compelled me to write. That’s why I’m thankful for Inspire Christian Writers. “They exists to provide a network of support, encouragement, education, and spiritual growth for Christian writers.” I joined years ago and can attest I wouldn’t be the dedicated writer I am today without their positive, godly influence.

What defines you as a writer? Can you trace your subject or themes to your youth?

About Karen Foster 13 Articles
Karen Foster is a nonfiction writer and speaker and author of Lunch with Loretta: Discover the Transforming Power of Mentoring Friendship. Her story, "Tender Mercies" appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families (May 2017). Karen's articles and devotions have been published in The Upper Room, The Bible Advocate, Now What?, Discipleship Journal, and Moms Next. She blogs at KarenFosterAuthor.com Or follow her on Twitter @eveninthis.


  1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful testimony, Karen. I agree with you about the impact of being a member of Inspire. The Lord has used Inspire members to support, encourage, and refine me.

    Although I didn’t surrender my life to Christ until I was 30, I do see Him using my past experiences to create stories of redemption, renewal, and reconciliation. Everything I write points to Jesus, in some way or another. I highlight His life-transforming love, grace, forgiveness, and His endless pursuit of our hearts. Like you, I have no desire to write for or about anything else.

    I’ve had people ask why I don’t write secular books and articles, too. A family member asked why I always write “Bible stuff.” I write whatever God brings to my heart. If God gave me stories that would cross over or be specifically for the secular market, I would obey. Those readers are important, too.

    I admire and support my writing-peeps who touch the hearts of those readers. Many times, their work leads people to their website, which points to Jesus even when they’re not writing His name. Isn’t our God amazing?

    But when I invite the Lord to give me the words He wants me to write, it’s my job to obey Him and write the words He gives me. Funny thing is that obeying Him led me to writing nonfiction, something I never considered when I started my writing journey.

    My work isn’t always the most popular. But like you, I’ve learned to be content and enjoy my role in the writing world. Each one of us, whether we write for the Christian market or not, makes a difference in God’s Kingdom.

    Thanks for always sharing your love for Jesus so eloquently. I love your strong but gentle voice. I’m proud of you, Sister! I look forward to reading more of your Inspire blog posts.

    • Xochi,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I can always count on your words of encouragement! And I’m glad to be on this writing journey with godly women like yourself! I’m thrilled to see how God is using your history and your gifts for His glory!


    • I’m glad you’re not silent about the message of salvation.
      The world needs to hear about Christ because the Bible says if we’re silent, “the very stones will cry out!”

      Luke 19:39,40…”But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples! I tell you, He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.”

  2. Karen, this is an excellent point. For many many years I knew I wanted to write a non-fiction series of quiet times or bible studies. Once blogging came into being, it tickled my mind and brought my passion into the 21st century. Today, now that I’ve had a blog for almost a year, I find I’m drawn to write a new post more than a magazine articles or the next fiction chapter. I want to continue to challenge people–myself included–to grow in our faith.

    Your words inspired me.
    Thank you,

    • Libby,

      I’m so thrilled for you! I read your blog recently and loved it! Isn’t it amazing how the Lord led you to write your passion in a new genre? Passion and writing with a purpose!! May the Lord bless the fruit of your labor!

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