Monday, July 13, 2015

Take the Jump

Do you remember the first time you did something that could end in pain, such as jumping off a high dive? I was a young adult taking swimming lessons at a YMCA. I braved myself to go off the tallest diving platform. I stood at the edge, my toes going purple from gripping it, looking down at the pool far below and remembering that from a certain height, hitting water was like hitting concrete. I would have stayed there until my toes gave out if it weren’t for the ten year olds lined up behind me muttering “Go, lady!” 

So I launched into self-talk: “Okay, now I’m going to jump…. I’m going jump now…. One, two, three…! Okay, now I’m really going to jump. One, two….”

I swear I wasn’t saying anything. Even so, the kid behind me yelled “Three!” I took a gigantic breath, steeled all my muscles including those in my ears, and leaped off. I suffered for the entire drop: This is going to hu-u-u-rt! It seemed to me that I made an impact explosion. I sank all the way to bottom of the ten-feet, pushed up hard, and broke the surface, astonished. I was alive and I hadn’t broken, sprained, strained, or dislocated anything. I even remembered to swim to the side so that the long-suffering kids above me could go on with their front dives and somersaults. And yes, I was elated to have done it.

When you’re at the edge of a leap—a life choice that could be risky—do you jump with your heart in your ears or crawl back down the ladder seething? Will you take that job interview, start that business, write that book, or ask that person on a date? Is the Lord Jesus giving you an inkling toward ministry?  Do you pull toward teenagers, the elderly, ghetto kids, or whomever? Is God bidding you to teach, cook, sing, build houses, or—I don’t know—do evangelistic golfing? When you launch into the work, the Lord of the wind will train and empower you. “He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind (Psalm 104:3, NIV).”

Take an example from creation: when fledgling eagles work up the courage for that first wobbly flight, their parents swoop under them, catch them on their backs, fly high, and tilt them off until their children figure out their wings. Like me jumping feet-first off that diving platform, they have no grace at first. They learn to dance on the wind and so can you, with the Lord’s help.

Don’t step back from the edge. Fly with him! 

* * *

Do you or any readers in your life enjoy fantasy? Read how my thirteen-year-old main character, Jeremy Lapoint, learns how to fly in my award-winning novel for kids and up, Children of Angels. And I'd also welcome your comments on this post. Are you soaring yet? 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Can Fantasy be True?

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." --Philippians 4:8

That pretty much says it when it comes to our entertainment choices - things to read, watch, and play. If you're a kid or a teen picking out something to do or a parent filtering those choices for your kids and for yourself, your decision is a big deal--big enough for God to direct us through His writer, the Apostle Paul.

Why? Because the Lord knows that what we input fills our brains, our hearts, and our very beings. Jesus was a great storyteller who understood better than any that stories are powerful things. They can make us feel thrilled, happy, triumphant, sad, angry...every emotion there is. They can overwhelm our souls with light or with darkness. Stories can teach us and He used them marvelously well. Read "The Parable of the Lost Son" for an example. (Luke 15.)

Yeah, but, I see a conflict here, maybe. I'm a fantasy fanatic. The fantasy genre can match all of Paul's criterion but one: "...whatever is true...." Does that mean it should be off my list?  Does it displease God that I love stories filled with non-existent creatures like hobbits, elves, and fairies who do supernatural things? When I was little, Mom often read to me from The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, published in 1958, with classics like "Thumbelina," "The Frog Prince," "Cinderella," and "The Sleeping Beauty." I made quick work of learning to read and immersed myself in The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), The Dragon King Trilogy (Stephen Lawhead), The Tower of Geburah (John White), and many besides.

In all my enjoyment of fantastical things, I would never delve into magic of any kind. Real witchcraft freaks me out and I would never be so stupid as to practice it, knowing that the real deal is a real danger and a very real evil. Still, I wondered if fantasy was "allowed."

And here's where the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16 & 17), soothed me through one of my best memories. I was eleven years old. My brother Tom, who was away in college, sent me a hardbound copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis). In the enclosed letter he said this: "Kat, figure out who Aslan is."

I read it. I loved it. I marveled at the Great Lion, wished I could ride on His back as Lucy and Susan did, and pondered what Tom said. Who is Aslan, the Son of the Emperor, Who died in a traitor's stead and then came back alive? The answer hit me so hard it stopped me from moving and gave me a chill of awe from my head to my feet, so that my eyes watered. He's Jesus.

I didn't understand what it meant to believe, I simply did it and, without words, thanked Him for dying in my stead. A few months later, at a local Billy Graham crusade, I went forward at the preacher's call and made my conversion "official," though I knew that salvation had already happened to me.

Through what, my good readers? Through a fantasy story. That is, a fantasy story rich with truth at its core. Does God mind if read fantasy? Mind? He smiles as I wipe tears every time I read or see where Sam carries Frodo. Every time. What's more, He delights to give me His ideas and His words. He helped me write my tween fantasy Children of Angels. The awe of His inspiration is almost as great as the awe I felt when I first realized Who Aslan was.

The moral of the story: whatever age of reader/watcher you are, delight in the imagination God has given you, but use your gift well, for it's powerful. I say choose those things that are rife with truth.

To quote Aragorn, son of Arathorn: "What say you?" I'd love your comments.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


OMGoodness!  My tween and teen fantasy novel Children of Angels just won its third award: the SILVER medal in the Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction category of the 2013 Illumination Book Awards!  I was ecstatic over the first two wins--Honorable Mention in the 2013 Hollywood Book Festival and the GOLD medal in the 2013 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, YA Fiction/Religion category.  Now, I'm plain overwhelmed. 

"Shining a light on exemplary Christian books," is this year's motto for the Illumination Awards operated by the Jenkins Group.  Hey, Jerry Jenkins and crew, you're helping authors' works to shine like that city on a hill that Jesus described in Matthew 6.  You're helping us to escape being hidden and how we thank you for that!  

As for the thanks I pour out to God, I'll let the Apostle Paul, one of the best writers of all time, word my feelings for me:

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen."  Ephesians 6: 20 & 21

To see other works that won go to:

And to those authors who entered this contest and didn't win a medal...?  I've been a pro writer for twenty-two years and I've been in your place many more times than I've been "on the podium."  I have a stack of rejection letters that's one inch thick; I kept them to prove to the IRS that I really am a self-employed writer.  In 2013, Children of Angels in its book or screenplay form lost out in four other contests.  I'd say my losses outnumbered my wins if I chose to view my life that way.  But I don't.  I'm privileged to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I rejoice in the work and leave the results to Him, for in Him there are no losers.  So, cling to the Lord, give Him your disappointment ('cause I know it stings), praise Him anyhow for all the good He's done, and refuse to listen to any voices telling you to give up - whether they're audible, you're own thoughts, or lies whispered in your mind by the principalities and powers we're called to fight in Ephesians 6.  Rather, stand firm in the Lord, keep learning, keep improving your craft, and keep going! 

Kathryn Dahlstrom, Author

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Relaxing Control

Now that I'm home after an autumn of traveling to book festivals, I can focus on Christmas.  I've realized something amazing.  Jesus was born in conditions that would have had me, an American woman, wigging out.  I mean, don't we do that?  If we check into a hotel room and find that the sheets haven't been changed or the bathroom is dirty, we call the front desk in a froth while we grab our hand sanitizer.  At all costs, we must keep from getting sick.  It's a form of control that makes sense to a point, but consider this: Mary had to deliver her baby in a stable. 

She and Joseph had no choice but to make the best of bad circumstances.  The inns were crowded out.  The baby was coming.  Put yourself in her place.  You have to take shelter amidst dust, mold, and manure.  You have to lie on dirty straw, exposing your body and your baby to such germs.  No soap, no hot water, no clean towels, no hand sanitizer.  How clean could the swaddling cloths they used to wrap the Newborn have been, packed in a saddle bag that traveled along arid roads with dust kicked up by a donkey? 

But did God allow Mary or Jesus to suffer infections?  No.  He saw to it they came through and stayed healthy.  What's more, I believe He allowed His son to be born in that stable so that the shepherds who rushed to see what the angel had told them would have access to Jesus.  Had He been born in an inn, no sane innkeeper would have let strangers parade in to his establishment to view a baby, putting his other guests in an outrage and risking his inn's security.  He would have locked out the shepherds the way he locked out Mary and Joseph.  But what happened instead?  The angel gave the shepherds a sign and they hurried off and found it true. "You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

This little reflection doesn't mean I'm going to blow off good health practices and let my house go to pot.  It's simply a reminder that when things go beyond our control, we can trust the LORD of heaven and earth to keep His hand on us and bring about His purposes.  We can relax our control and trust in His, instead.

This makes the angel's song about Jesus' birth all the more personal.  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2: 14 NKJV 

Thursday, October 3, 2013


What an absolute thrill! My fantasy novel Children of Angels won GOLD in the YA Fiction - Religion/Spirituality category. Thank you so much, Moonbeam Awards, and congratulations to all winners! It's been a big year for my publisher, WinePress Publishing. WP author C. E. Edmonson won SILVER for "Fall Down Seven" in the YA Fiction category and WP authors Mike and Carol Wyrick won SILVER in the YA Fiction - Religion/Spirituality category for "A Miracle for Micah." Thanks for helping us create winning books, WinePress! We couldn't have done it without you. 

And, of course, all praise and thanks to Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth! Ps. 103

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dad's in Command

To my very pleased surprise, Children of Angels won Honorable Mention, Spiritual category, at the 2013 Hollywood Book Festival.  I thanked God and the judges and made a rushed trip to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony on Saturday night, July 20th, in the art deco elegance of the Roosevelt Hotel.

I drove a rental car in downtown Hollywood on a Saturday night through the craziest traffic in the U.S.  At the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine, one block from the Roosevelt, the "walk" light came on as I sat at the red.  Tickle Me Elmo and Zorro crossed the street in front of me amidst a throng of tourists in the crosswalk.  Dozens of costumed re-enactors earn tips giving photo opps in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.  On any day or night, you'll see Superman, Snow White, Darth Vader, Cinderella, Marilyn Monroe, Spiderman hanging off light posts...!  Only in Hollywood!

Understand: I was raised in Small Town Minnesota.  Now I live near the Twin Cities.  I said near, not in.  I'm not used to Los Angeles freeways and famous streets, so-o-o frightening for their speed, aggressive drivers, and crowding.  But I was fine all the way there and back home.  

See, I felt the way I did when I was little.  My family vacationed in wilderness.  If we were on huge Lake of the Woods and a storm came up, I never worried about getting back to our resort.  Dad was driving the boat.  If we were hiking in vast Beltrami State Forest, I never worried about getting lost.  Dad was leading us.  My father had worked and played in the northern Minnesota wilds all his life and was well experienced at handling anything a lake or a woods could throw at him.

So, all by myself  human-wise, I wove my way through Hollywood knowing that I'd find the Roosevelt, wind up the evening safely at my friends' house in the South Bay, and make my flight home on time.  I was on my toes, hyper-alert, but I wasn't scared and I was never alone.  What's more, I had fun.  God the Father was with me and warmly letting me know it by His Holy Spirit.  Jesus the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace kept me calm and safe.

My heavenly Dad was in command.

Romans 8: 14 - 16; Isaiah 9:6

Monday, August 5, 2013


CHILDREN of ANGELS won Honorable Mention in the Hollywood Book Festival contest, Spiritual category!  The winning author in that category was Angie Schuller Wyatt, granddaughter of Dr. Robert Schuller, so I was in worthy company.  I accepted my award in the Art-Deco elegance of the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood on Saturday evening, July 20th, thrilled to be there and to make more good friends in the publishing and film industries. 

Just getting to the Roosevelt was a miracle of God and His angels!  It's far cheaper for a Minnesotan to get to L.A. via Las Vegas, but my flight was delayed by a thunderstorm in Chicago.  I was supposed to arrive in Vegas at 10 pm.  Would you like to try 4 am instead?  I picked up my rental car, checked in to my Vegas hotel, and made it to bed by 6 am.

Up again by 10:30 am so that I could make it to Hollywood in time, I drove the mad race that is Interstate 15 through the Mojave going on God's strength and adrenaline, which carried me through changing for the awards ceremony in a California Pizza Kitchen bathroom and wriggling through Hollywood traffic on a Saturday night.  I knew God was in charge, protecting me and guiding me.  I'll do a "real blog" about that soon.

The struggle was well worth it.  I'm utterly grateful to the Hollywood Book Festival and to my Lord Jesus who made all of it happen.  I can still barely credit the truth: I'm an award-winning author!

Everybody say "Alleluia!"