Note: In this feature, writer Whitney Hopler profiles women who write about faith. If you are the author of a new book (published within the past six months) and would like to be considered for an interview, please email Melanie.
By Whitney Hopler
What are some of your favorite stories, and how have they inspired you? God has wired us to discover more about him through stories, writes Lori Stanley Roeleveld in her new book Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life). Stories are powerful tools people can use to build stronger relationships with God. Roeleveld shows readers how in her thoughtful book, which uses the popular fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk to illustrate how that process works.
Roeleveld, who is also the author of Running from a Crazy Man (and Other Adventures Traveling with Jesus) and Red Pen Redemption, is also a popular blogger. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted one of the Top 100 Christian blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed more than 1.5 million views.
She says God inspired her to write Jesus and the Beanstalk by guiding her in the midst of her own struggle to grow eight key qualities that the Bible mentions and her book explores: faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection for others, and love.
“I was frustrated with a sense of my own ineffectiveness in my faith as well as a general ineffectiveness I see sometimes in the church,” she reveals. “My search for answers led me to this passage in 2 Peter 1:1-10 and I was impressed with how often I’ve read this list without pausing to consider the power of these eight qualities. This sparked a connection, for me, with Jack’s mother’s off-handed treatment of the magic beans in Jack and the Beanstalk and a book idea was born. My prayer is that other Christians who long to be effective in their faith will find a resource in this book for discovering a fresh view of these qualities and the power they have to unlock our giant-killing potential.”
“I conceived of the connection when surveying the eight qualities ( and the way we often discount their value just as Jack’s mother discounted the value of the beans,” Roeleveld says. “It didn’t take long then to connect the beanstalk with Jesus as the vine and our desire to be effective in our faith with the long line of biblical giant-slayers such as Caleb, Joshua, and David.”
When people are overwhelmed by the “giants” in their own lives, this fairy tale can remind them that they are indeed connected to the greater story that God is writing in the world. As Roeleveld says: “It’s easy to become discouraged or to lose heart if we feel that our stories don’t matter. Keeping our eyes on the truth that they are all connected to his story infuses every day with purpose and meaning. We remember that even the choices that no other human witnesses [still] matter and contribute to the war for souls this side of glory.”
Jesus and the Beanstalk is divided into three parts. Part one explores fruitful Christian living, part two describes ways to live faithfully in a culture that’s often opposed to Christ, and part three helps readers grow their faith by cultivating important biblical virtues. “I’ve punctuated this book on spiritual growth with reminders that we are saved by grace,” Roeleveld says. “The effort we put into our spiritual life now is towards effectiveness and fruitfulness, not towards earning our salvation. Jesus loves us as we are and we’re acceptable to God the Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice alone. There is no condemnation in Christ. So, while he expects us to make efforts towards spiritual growth, he is patient, persistent, and never gives up on us no matter how often we fall short.”
Whitney Hopler works as Communications Coordinator at and has written for many media organizations, from About.com to the Washington Post. She regularly blogs about well-being in body, mind, and spirit. Learn more on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.