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Helping Teens Discover Themselves – Tina Toler-Keel

Now that the book is done, what has their feedback and the feedback from others been who have read it and worked with the study component?

A pastor at a local church had read it because I gave his daughter a copy. He had just taken a job as associate youth pastor and was planning a large retreat for the summer. After reading the book, he bought sixty copies of the book and journal to use as a teaching tool. The teens loved it, loved that the stories show God as He is today in their lives instead of someone who lived two thousand years ago. The workbook helped several really find themselves and grow closer to God. I even had an adult who was going through a difficult divorce read it and find help and hope.

 Do you think that teenagers who do not have a Christian-based lifestyle can benefit from “God Said What?”  And, how would you tell a youngster who questions the belief in a Higher Power that this book will help them?

Yes I think even if a teen does not have a Christian based lifestyle they can benefit from the book. Although each devotion begins with a Bible verse and discusses God, the morals are true for Christians as well as Non-Christians. They are about love, forgiveness, healing, and life in general. It’s about finding the good in your self, others, and learning how to be a giving, generous person. As for those who are questioning their faith, I would say this book is perfect for you, not just because I wrote it. Important issues such as premarital sex, pregnancy, drug use, alcohol abuse, judgment, etc. are addressed and shows how God can help. It brings questions about God that many teens have to the forefront and discusses them. It isn’t a book of preaching. I do not write, “This is what you must believe.” I show God in the best way I can, show His love, and let Him do the rest. If a teen is questioning their faith, I highly recommend adding the companion journal. It is a great way to discover what questions you may have, how you came about those questions, and a great way to find the answers for yourself without someone telling you what to believe. This is about people. About finding answers. About self discovery. Questioning faith is important to growth. I have questioned my own faith and often still do. I have found that is how I grow. So my advice would be read the book, continue questions, and search for the answers!


 You are almost finished with your second book for teens.  What is the title and what is it about? 

The title is OVERCOME. This was probably one of the most difficult works I have attempted, but it is one of the most important. The story is told from the view point of a teen girl during her senior year of high school named Olivia, who is often called Ollie. Olivia’s best friend, Orion, commits suicide. Ollie of course goes through a very diverse and normal grieving period ranging from anger and resentment to guilt and of course sadness. The story begins the day she finds out he died and continues through the day of the funeral. Mixed in with that story line are flashbacks to her friendship with Orion.

I came up with the idea of this book when a friend of my daughters was having suicidal thoughts. That night, I stayed up until three am talking to him. When I knew he was no longer in danger, I took a long bath and prayed for guidance and for an answer to help I could help him. I thought, “I will write a short story about his death and how it hurt my daughter and I because we loved him so much.” So many times when someone is suicidal they just need to hear they are truly cared for, and that was my plan. By the time I got out of the tub, I knew this was to be a novel. It would be my most important work and it was what God wanted me to write.

Yes, it is a dark and depressing story, but it is also one of hope. Many teens suffer through the suicide of a friend or the death of a friend due to illness or car accident. Most go through the loss of a loved one, whether it be a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle. And unfortunately, many teens experience suicidal thoughts of their own at one time or another. It is my hope and goal that this book touches all teens. For those who have experienced loss, I hope it gives them hope and helps them know their feelings, even the negative ones, are normal and okay. I want them to know the memories will always remain with them but they will survive and go on to lead a good life. For those who consider suicide as an option, I pray it shows them others care, even when they may not show it. I pray it gives them courage to see the good in life and to keep going. For those who have a friend suffering, I hope it gives them courage to help, courage to continue loving without judging, and the courage to know there is only so much they can do. Guilt is a horrible thing to carry around, and I hope this book removes a great deal of guilt from teens.