Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Book Release: Tucker Digs In

Interview by Michelle Greene

Randy Fishell, the former and interim editor of Guide magazine, illustrated and wrote Tucker Digs In. In the fictional story, middle-schooler Tucker Barnes can’t wait to use his metal detector and find buried treasure. Tucker and his friends try to avoid bullies and learn how to treasure hunt while digging into the importance of prayer.

In our interview with Fishell, he shared where he found his inspiration for the book.

Visitor: What inspired you to write the book Tucker Digs In?

The topic itself, prayer, hailed from my own struggle with understanding this gift. I've come to believe that prayer invites God into a much bigger spiritual life picture than we may realize.

Earlier in my spiritual journey, I frequently became frustrated with what I viewed as God's lack of response. Now I think He's often working behind the scenes, answering our prayers in ways that perhaps, more often than not, will be revealed only in retrospect.

In other words, let's not limit God's involvement in our lives through prayer to the present moment. He can do that, and sometimes does, but I want kids to consider just how big our God really is and that He always has our big, best life picture in mind.

Visitor: Why did you incorporate your illustrations into the book?

Today's middle-schoolers are more visually-engaged than ever before. That's why I chose the combination of fun illustrations (there are over 160 of them in Tucker Digs In) to support the humorous, but spiritually-substantive storyline.

 Visitor: Which character do you relate to the most and why?

I definitely relate to Tucker himself. Indeed, the premise of Tucker Digs in Involves metal-detecting, a hobby of mine. Many predicaments and relational challenges Tucker find himself in are echoes of my awkward middle-school years and spiritual uncertainties. The next book, Tucker Takes a Dive, deals with fear. It's set at the local swimming pool, where Tucker is afraid of the deep end. Yeah, that was me too.

Visitor: Tucker is adamant about his goal. How does his experience parallel the Christian walk?

Perseverance is a big deal in the Christian life. One of my biggest battles has been with spiritual doubt. But just as with my personal battle against anxiety disorders, God sustained me enough to keep moving forward. Tucker stumbles and falls just like everybody else, but I want kids to understand the joy that comes with seeing a goal through to completion. What goal could be more important than growing strong in the Christian walk? Prayer is certainly a key ingredient in the recipe for spiritual contentment.

Visitor: Throughout the book, Tucker tries different methods of communicating with God. How does the book show the importance of prayer and growth for children and pre-teens?

I once read that "God hears your prayers, but He listens to your life." That was a game-changer for me. It took the focus from "getting stuff from God" to inviting Him to orchestrate my days according to His purposes.

I still sometimes ask God for a specific answer, but now I understand that God wants a relationship with those who pray to Him. In my view, I want kids (and adults, for that matter) to consider that someone else's prayer "formula" may not necessarily be a good fit for everybody else. I've found that I am more alert when praying while walking. I know someone else who prays fervently in the shower. A sincere, humble, and expectant attitude is key to growing a friendship with God embracing His creative answers to our prayers. In Tucker Digs In, I've crafted a message for kids that I hope reflects that idea.

Visitor: For those who read the book, young and old, what is the ultimate message you hope everyone takes away from it?

Don't limit God's answers to your limited understanding of how He "should" be working in your life. Do expect that He always has your best interest at heart. 

Find out how to order the book at (e-book options available too!)

Photo of Randy Fishell by Brad Barnwell Photography

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