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Issue 13-5

It Is a Joy for Authors to Receive Letters From Children

Dear Friends,

I have been living for the last two days with the news from my surgeon that I am cancer-free. I also have no thyroid gland any longer and will have to take a supplement for the rest of my life. (This is the only pharmaceutical I am on—unfortunately, a point of pride—some people are grateful for the prescriptions that make their maladies bearable). My doctor also informed me that they “shoehorned” out a cystic nodule the size of a tennis ball. (“Really?” challenged the patient.) My ENT physician left the room to fetch his smartphone in order to come back and show David and me the proof.

I will spare you the graphic photo of the nodule resting on my neck while I was under general anesthesia. I didn’t spare my adult children, however. Melissa Timberlake, our daughter, keeps commenting that it is one thing to see a photo of a nodule that size, but when you know that it has been in your own mother, that’s a different matter. OK, OK. Just wanting a little empathy.

A tennis ball

The wooziness in my head ended a couple days ago, and apart from being somewhat watchful, I am back into a work schedule (walked a mile this morning just to see if I was ready to return to my exercise protocol—I did fine!).

What I am basically feeling in these days of post-recovery is gratitude. Gratitude that I can look back on 71 years of life and say that I have not wasted the days that were given to me. Gratitude that I have walked faithfully with the Lord my God and He has granted me the favor of working alongside David all the years of our marriage (53) given to ministry. I have known intimacy with Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the benevolence of my Heavenly Father. We gave birth to four children who have given us nothing but joy. Some of the circumstances of their lives have brought us pain, but the character of our offspring continually amazes us.

During this Kickstarter Campaign in which we are seeking to raise $22,500 to revise, re-illustrate and republish the three prize-winning books of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy, I have been forced to visit the files of letters I’ve kept over the years from readers of the books. This has absolutely humbled me.

It’s a joy for authors to receive letters from children, like this one written on lined school notebook paper, and the envelope addressed with a pencil:

Dear David and Karen Mains,
My name is Calvin. I am seven years old. I love your Tales of the Kingdom series. I read it at lunch every day. My favorite book is Tales of the Resistance. I like it because it has a lot of action.
Sincerely, Calvin.

Did you get the fact that Calvin is seven years old?

It is a joy to receive letters like the next one, handwritten by the son of close friends when he was in his early teens:

Dear Uncle David and Aunt Karen,
I’ve read your second book! It’s gotta be one of the best books I’ve ever read! I really want to encourage you guys to write a third! The concepts and principles as well as the excitement and adventure make it fantastic, but I could have expected that when two geniuses like you get together! Right now I’m on a plane over Utah writing this letter after just finishing reading your book. I’m dying to know what happens with Amanda and Hero!—so please hurry and write another one! I just want you to know what you’re doing in my point of view is really going to benefit the Kingdom! Keep up the good work!
Love, Shadd.

Did you get the fact that Shadd (who now has his own adult novel circulating with an agent) was in his teens when he wrote this?

I weep when I receive letters like the following typed on professional stationery:

Your books “Tales of the Kingdom” and “Tales of the Resistance” have meant a great deal to me and the people I help. I am a Christian psychologist working with Satanic abuse victims, most of whom were raised in multi-generational cults. One of the ways I have found to reach into their shattered lives is to read to them out of your books. Now, reading stories may not seem like your vision of psychotherapy, but since I encounter many cases of [dissociative identity disorder], it is necessary to do quite a bit of re-parenting and teaching. Your moving stories provide a deeply stirring way to reach this need. Enclosed is a drawing that Mary E—one survivor—drew about story time at my office. She identified with many of the characters but none more than the girl in the pig pen. Doubletalk seemed all too familiar, but it was good to know that the King knew about such things.

Chris lived a life of terror and isolation. She eventually developed a fantasy world of her own. Her idea of God and mine were very different. God touched her soul when the King entered the world of the carnival in your story—even if I had trouble making the sound effects like fireworks—BLA-CHEW-AH!

Did you notice the age of the writer and the clients he was helping? They were all adults. Going through these old files, I remembered in a fresh way that I had deliberately written these books for “children of all ages” (good children’s literature is always loved by children and by teens and by adults). I was humbled to realize that I had obviously achieved this purpose—I stopped, sucked in my breath and felt totally overwhelmed.

Today, this note came in my e-mail from Rev. Beth S. Hoyt:

I have loved your Tales of the Kingdom series of books for many years! I have shared them with small groups, churches, and my own family, and they have touched my life in many ways.

I thought I’d let you know that this summer I am reading your book aloud to my small group on Wednesday evenings. I have developed questions to go with every story, and we are having some great discussions. I am the pastor of a mainline church, and one of the challenges in my denomination is giving people a language to talk about their own faith. Using your stories as our guide we are able to do some good reflection on our own faith journeys, and some amazing things are happening in my group, which has more than its share of “heroes.”

I would be happy to share my discussion questions with you, if you have any interest. Otherwise please just accept my gratitude for the words you have written that continue to be life-giving to so many!
Blessing, Beth.

Perhaps some of you have never read these three books—you’ve discounted them as “children’s tales”—and indeed they are, but they are stories that are for children of all ages. You might want to reconsider, borrow some copies, buy some copies (online), or become a Backer for our Kickstarter Campaign (ending August 4) and pre-order product. Who knows?—you just might become like this family one woman wrote about: “I have wonderful memories of my husband reading these books to our daughters, often all of them with tears in their eyes.”

Hah! I have life ahead of me left—perhaps another book for the Kingdom Tales series—and to quote another literary favorite, Sancho Panza from The Man of La Mancha, “On to more misadventures!”

Karen Mains


Kickstarter Campaign

As of this writing, July 24, our Kickstarter Campaign with some 100 Backers have pledged $21,944 toward our goal of $22,500 to revise, re-illustrate and republish The Kingdom Tales Trilogy. Beyond this goal, we move into what Kickstarter calls "Stretch Goals." Our final Stretch Goal is $27,750. Any such extra monies will allow us to create extra "Tales" projects—the battle story “Princess Amanda and the Dragon,” for instance, will be reprinted as a standalone book with the wonderful artwork of Irina Voloshina, an artist from Moldova.

There are two ways you can help us: The first is just write a check to Mainstay Ministries and tag it for the “Artists Fund” and snail-mail it to Hungry Souls, Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187. You will receive a receipt for this but no product. We will use this contribution to complete the work needed on the Kingdom Tales republishing project.

Or you can go to the Kickstarter page, (this is a shortcut link). This is a pre-order and you will receive product before Christmas but no receipt. This has been an exciting campaign. We are eager to see how it ends.

Listening Groups

Having had a little time to be quiet, pray and listen, I’ve decided that I need to lead TWO Listening Groups, beginning in October. The first will be for four listeners who have journeyed in a Listening Group with me before. The second will be a group for men. These will meet once a month, going from October 2014 through July 2015, and will be 2.5 hours long. There is no preparation required and no assignments will be given. If you are interested, let me know at Listening Groups have been designed to expand our capacity to listen to one another, listen to what God is whispering to our hearts and listen to the Holy Spirit as He works through the capacity of a group coming together to—guess what?—listen. Over the last six years, in one form or another, I’ve led some 150 Listening Groups, and I am convinced that God created us to be listeners—something most of us don’t do very well.


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David and Karen Mains

Karen Mains

I had deliberately written these books for 'children of all ages' (good children’s literature is always loved by children and by teens and by adults). I was humbled to realize in that I had obviously achieved this purpose—I stopped, sucked in my breath and felt totally overwhelmed.”
The Goodness Connection

Begin Again
Begin Again

A private treasure-hunt I’ve engaged in for most of my writing life is to uncover, discover, forage around, sniff out works that are dropped into popular culture in which the theme is that of goodness. If you haven’t noticed, a lot of film and a lot of literature is focused on what’s bad, mean, disastrous and ugly. Having read Jonathan Franzen’s book Freedom (in order to dialogue with the same Shadd quoted above, but now a young man with his own children), I realized again why I don’t like much of the Eastern publishing establishment’s standard of great writing. Shadd recommended Freedom; I restrained myself on countless occasions from throwing it across the room.

In the same week, pre-thyroid surgery, David and I slipped away to catch a film highly recommended by my grandchildren, Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley, Adam Levin and Mark Ruffalo. Here is an online review:

The latest film from writer-director John Carney (ONCE), BEGIN AGAIN is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.

In the middle of the film, David leaned over to me and said, “This is your kind of movie, isn’t it?” Yep, I nodded back. However, after having spent a good part of the week angrily analyzing the Franzen novel, I took a hard look at this “soul-stirring comedy” and realized that it classified for my “goodness connection” list. If you can stand the F-bomb being thrown about every 10 seconds (I hate it, wince and close my ears), there is a thread of goodness surrounding the young woman Greta that unwinds in kind of a breath-catching way throughout the whole film. See if you can find it. Good things happen around her because she chooses to be good. She finds a moral certitude that influences a monumental and revolutionary decision at the end of the film.

For me, caught up in my younger years with the trappings of celebritism in the small world of evangelical publishing and broadcasting, and finally, feeling rather fed up with the ego this small world threatened to feed in me, I really “get” one of the unstated messages of this film: Success can wound, if not destroy, the soul.

Give it a try. It just may be your kind of movie.

Copyright 2006-2014 Mainstay Ministries. All rights reserved.

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