Monthly Archives: May 2013
Today I visit Godly Writers and discuss five reasons why Christian writers don’t write.
I also share my personal reflection and recent epiphany with regards to why I had stopped writing for awhile.
I hope you will stop by and join the conversation at Godly Writers.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47
I never tire to read or hear the story of David and Goliath. Here is this little guy David and this colossal giant Goliath taunting him.
Everyone feared, literally trembled in Goliath’s presence. He would laugh and mock. Gosh, I can’t even imagine it. I personally believe if I was there, I would definitely be shaking in my pants.
It’s amazing how little David saves the day. He saves the day because God is with him. He slews the giant Goliath with a sling shot and a stone. The stone hits Goliath right between the eyes. Timber!… he falls like a gigantic tree.
I don’t know about you, but I find this story encouraging. I want that kind of faith. The faith that can stand against any obstacle, mountain or giant and not be defeated.
Most times than not though, our faith isn’t this way, now is it?
We each face a Goliath in our life. Whether it’s a person or a circumstance, it is something or someone who appears to be bigger, stronger and greater than us.
We believe will never overcome it. We feel afraid and defeated.
Perhaps it’s not a person or a circumstance. Perhaps it’s a struggle with a besetting sin? Or with fear? Or anger?
Whatever it is, I am here to tell you that the same God who was with David that defeated Goliath, is the same God who is with us today.
Like David, you can overcome any obstacle, mountain and giant because nothing is too big or difficult for God. (Jeremiah 32:17)
If God is for you, who can be against you? (Romans 8:31) Be encouraged today.
Are you facing a Goliath in your life? Are you discouraged because you do not seem to be getting the victory? Please let me know how I can pray for you.
On my bus commute to work this morning, I am finally reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
One word that describes and encompasses this book is beauty.
When we think of the word beauty, we think physical attributes. Such as eyes, smiles, faces, bodies, fashion, make-up, etc… And yes, God has created beauty in this way.
However, there is a beauty which goes beyond the physical and into the heart, mind, spirit, soul, and character.
In saying this, I had the pleasure of hearing Ann Voskamp speak last year at the Allume conference. I had heard the buzz about her and her popular book, but never really paid attention.
That is, until I heard her speak that fateful night.
Ann Voskamp defines beauty on so many levels. She is stunning physically, but what stood out for me most, was what came out of her mouth. Her sweet spirit, poetic words and godly virtue spoke the loudest to me.
Ann Voskamp and her memoir, One Thousand Gifts oozes beauty. It’s like watching a sun rise and standing in awe at God’s creation. So is the experience reading her writing.
I live in New York City. Many tourists visit from all over the world and invade this city. You can see them looking up and snapping photos at our towering buildings.
While my soul yearns for patches of green grass, trees and blooming flowers.
No tall building will ever compare to the majesty of God’s creation. Nothing comes close to what true beauty really is.
Beauty which goes beyond the physical and reaches deep down within the recesses of our longing hearts.
God created us to yearn for His beauty.
Beauty cannot emanate from our lips if it hasn’t captured our hearts.
I wrote this while meditating on Ann Voskamp’s poetic words. Her writing is rich and meaningful.
The beauty in which she conveys her life, is truly a gift from above. A blessing to all who read it.
This is what God does when we choose to live for Him.
He changes our battered hearts and sin stained lives and tranforms us. He takes the ashes and makes it into something beautiful. He takes pleasure in doing so, because He is the giver of life and good gifts too.
If I were to write a book one day, I would only write it, if I could write as beautiful as Ann Voskamp does. She writes with a true sense of beauty, because her heart encompasses it.
Beauty emanates from heart on to the page for all to be blessed and enriched by.
This is the true gift and calling of what it is to be a writer.
The greatest giver of gifts, our Heavenly Father has breathed life and beauty into the soul, spirit and heart of Ann Voskamp to bless us all with her writing.
If you haven’t read her book, you must. It will change your life.
Who is the fairest of them all?
Everywhere I turn, I am bombarded by images. As the days get hotter, clothes get scarcer. In New York City, people could very well go naked.
What happened to modesty? What happened to dignity?
Listen, I’m no prude, but lately, exposure of body parts have gone to another level. Is this what we want for our sons and daughters?
Sorry, it’s not cool, it’s disgusting.
What is the point of seeing Beyonce’s nipples? The woman has talent, does she really need to be exposing herself to the extent that she does? I wonder how she is going to feel years later when her baby daughter is a teenager? How will she feel about her daughter walking around strutting her goods for all the world to see?
Our society is getting sicker by the minute. You can’t even turn on the television without seeing it. You can’t walk down the street without avoiding it.
What hope do our children have of growing up in a world that respects purity and dignity?
Years ago, I remember falling into this particular nonsense. I would spend hours in the gym to meet some man’s approval of a “perfect” body. I was thin at the time, but my nickname became “meatballs with legs”.
I wish I could go back in time and be the way I am now. I am at a different place and I’m grateful to be married to someone who isn’t obsessed with my physicality and image.
In the past, I could not walk out into the street without looking like I’ve stepped out of a magazine. Those days are over, thank God.
The pressure to live up to other people’s physical expectations or man’s approval of me, to validate me, to say I was beautiful, sexy, desirable or worthy to be loved was absolute bondage.
There was even a time I became anorexic because I had heard so many lies of how fat and imperfect I was, I became obsessed with trying to silence my distorted reflection in the mirror.
The only word I heard vibrating in my head was fat… fat… fat. All I saw myself as was fat… fat… fat…
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the fairest of them all?
Oh please, oh please say it’s me, my restless heart would exclaim.
I fear for our youth that has more pressure placed on them now. With celebrities and magazines having no scruples. What awaits the next generation at the rate we are going?
What are we worth? Aren’t we worth more than exploiting our body parts like meat on a window display?
Ladies, you are worth more than that. Don’t sell yourself short! You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the apple of God’s eye. Please don’t fall for the lie.
I implore parents, please teach your children to value and respect themselves. There is another way. A better way. God’s way.
If we each do our part to educate our children differently, we can stop this perverse cycle. Won’t you join me?
It takes a lifetime to know what–and who–defines you.
When Alexandra Kuykendall became a mother, she knew she had to go back to the beginning. To that hot July afternoon in Barcelona when she met her father for the first time. The only daughter of a single, world-traveling mother and an absent artist father, Alexandra embarks on a soul-searching trip into the past to make sense of the layers of her life–both the memories she experienced and the ones she wished for.
The Artist’s Daughter will take you on a journey of discovery through childhood, marriage, and motherhood. Through short vignettes full of both wonder and heartache, Alexandra seeks answers to three life-defining questions: Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? If you long to better understand the path your life has taken, where it is heading, and who is guiding you, this revealing and refreshing story will push you toward those answers as it changes your heart.
I guess I should call myself a book reviewer of memoirs, since I seem to predominantly read them. The Artist’s Daughter does not disappoint.
Alexandra Kuykendall pens her story with such uniqueness and authenticity. I saw my reflection in many of the pages. I identified with her struggle for identity. Many of the questions she poses, I have asked myself. Reading her memoir, gave me permission to look deep within the recesses of my heart and evaluate if I am still harboring hurts, resentment and frustrations of unfulfilled expectations that were not met in my life.
Her journey parallels mine in many ways. I especially loved reading the truthfulness of her relationship with her father, her marriage and her experiences of motherhood. I appreciated the fact that she did not sugar coat or make it seem that all was perfect. I find many Christians hide behind a veneer of image and show, instead of keeping it real.
Alexandra Kuykendall doesn’t do this, she is honest as she exposes truth, even if it was messy. I appreciated the fact that she was vulnerable in telling her story with abandon.
There is something to admire and respect about her memoir. Her struggles as a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, etc… I told her this in a private message and I will say it again here… Well done.
This is a beautiful memoir I highly recommend to women, whether single or married, with or without children.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Revell Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.
Alexandra Kuykendall is on staff at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) where she encourages mothers of young children to keep growing as they take on their new mothering identity. She is a regular contributor and consulting editor to MomSense magazine, Connections magazine, and the MOPS blog. A frequent speaker for MOPS, Alexandra has been featured on Good Morning America. As the mother of four young children, she continues to refine her mothering identity. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Derek, and their daughters.
The Dark Night of the Soul in the City That Never Sleeps.
At first glance, Rebekah Lyons’s life path seemed straightforward: walk the aisle, take the short road to motherhood, and build a family on a suburban cul-de-sac in the South.
But life looked radically different when her family relocated to the heart of New York City. She was forced to navigate a new normal with three kids, two toy poodles, and a minivan. Blindsided by crippling despair, Rebekah wrestled with bigger questions women often ask: Why am I here? Does my life matter?
In a Western culture driven by performance and Pinterest fantasies, her story echoes the rise of loneliness, depression, and anxiety that women are facing at all-time highs. Why are expectations and lifestyles breaking us down in unprecedented ways?
In this beautifully moving memoir of vulnerability, courage, and ultimately transformation, Rebekah shares her journey into the unknown—a thrilling, terrifying freefall that eventually led to flight. Searching for meaning, she stumbled on surrender, discovering that meaning follows surrender.
Rebekah found freedom when she faced her greatest fear, and she invites other women to do the same. For it is only when we freefall that we can truly fly.
As much as I enjoyed Rebekah Lyons writing style, there were certain aspects of her memoir that I found hard to relate or identify with.
I am a working mom and she is a stay at home mom. She is afforded opportunities most working and stay at home moms do not. Which is why I believe her story specifically speaks to mothers or women who are from her same socioeconomic background.
I do understand and can relate to the author’s feelings of angst and her struggles with anxiety and depression. Her struggle with wanting to find her specific calling besides that of being a wife and mother.
However, I have to be honest and say, most moms I know living in New York City do not have the time or luxury to go to someone’s apartment in the morning for bible study, or go on retreats, or even have time to just walk through Central Park while it’s snowing.
So if you are not of that lifestyle or demographic, it’s kind of hard to relate to her story or put yourself in the author’s shoes.
However, the author’s story is hers and I respect her life and experiences. I believe Rebekah Lyon’s memoir was candid, authentic and truthful. She didn’t hide, she exposed a lot of herself and her experiences, which I appreciated. I also find her to be a talented writer, so on that front, I enjoyed reading her memoir.
If there was one word I could use to describe her book, it would be surrender.
Freefall to Fly was about Rebekah Lyons journey to find God and herself. In the midst of it, God delivered her from severe and debilitating anxiety attacks. I found this aspect of her story to be encouraging, but I do not believe this is common.
Most people do not get delivered from anxiety because they cry out to God in desperation. This was the authors experience, which I respect, however, there are many who have to be on medication and that is no indication God loves them any less because they weren’t delivered.
In conclusion, I want to thank Handlebar Marketing and Tyndale Publishers for sending me a complimentary book to review.
Rebekah Lyons is a mother of three, wife of one, and dog walker of two living in New York City. She’s an old soul with a contemporary, honest voice who puts a new face on the struggles women face as they seek to live a life of meaning. As a self-confessed mess, Rebekah wears her heart on her sleeve, a benefit to friends and readers alike. She serves alongside her husband, Gabe, as cofounder of QIdeas, an organization that helps leaders winsomely engage culture.
“If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty give them water to drink.
You will heap coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25: 21-22
Who actually loves their enemies? Do you?
Recently, I am being met with challenges I didn’t think I would have to contend with in my walk. These situations have caught me off guard and by surprise.
What I’m realizing is the enemy never sleeps. He is always busy inciting others to stir up problems.
This time it’s involving a neighbor. A neighbor that we have been nothing but kind and respectful toward has been maliciously gossiping and spreading false accusations against my husband and I for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I can’t tell you how troubling this is for me, especially given the fact that we have had no issues with any neighbor, much less this one.
It just boggles my mind, hurts my heart and discourages my spirit.
I keep trying to remind myself that this is the work of Satan and to not allow my faith to be shaken.
It’s times like this, when my faith is being tested and pushed to the limit.
This week the Lord showed me the above verse in Proverbs, and I had been meditating on it. Little did I know I would be contending with this very issue this weekend.
I can’t tell you how many scenarios I’ve entertained in my mind of what I would love to tell this neighbor in response.
Adrenaline coursing through my veins, wanting nothing more to confront and give them a piece of my mind.
Until I heard the Lord say, “Do not do or say anything, keep silent. Vengeance is mine.”
I was so upset when I heard the Lord say this to me. I want to tell this neighbor off and put them in their place. But I realize if I do so, I would be disobeying the Lord and stepping outside of His will and protection.
So here I am writing this and stewing in my anger toward this evil neighbor.
Yet God says for us to love our neighbors, love and pray for our enemies. This is probably the hardest thing for me to do right now and I can tell you that my flesh has absolutely no interest or desire to do so.
My practice and inclination is to confront and put people in their place when they are doing wrong. I have no qualms about telling someone what I think, what is harder for me is to keep silent.
What about you? Are you able to love your enemies? Have you experienced anything similar? If so, how did you handle it and what was the outcome? I would be interested in reading your comments.
This is a song that I have gone to time and time again through the years. It’s called Psalm 3 by Salvador, here are the lyrics and You Tube video. I hope it blesses you:
Many are those that rise up against me
And many are saying of me
God will not deliver him (repeat)
Arise oh Lord and deliver me
Oh my God
Oh my God (repeat)
I cry upon my Lord
And He answers me
From His holy hill (repeat)
Arise oh Lord and deliver me
Oh my God
Oh my God (repeat)
I will not fear the tens of thousands
Drawn up against me
On every side
Arise oh Lord and deliver me
Oh my God
Oh my God (repeat)
After her parents are killed in a rare grizzly attack, the author is forced into a wilderness of grief. Turning to loves she learned from her father, Polson explores the perilous terrain of grief through music, the natural world, and her faith. Her travels take her from the suburbs of Seattle to the concert hall where she sings Mozart’s Requiem, and ultimately into the wilderness of Alaska’s remote Arctic and of her heart.
This deeply moving narrative is shot through with the human search for meaning in the face of tragedy. Polson’s deep appreciation for the untamed and remote wilderness of the Alaskan Arctic moves her story effortlessly between adventure, natural history, and sacred pilgrimage, as much an internal journey as a literal one. Readers who appreciate music or adventure narratives and the natural world or who are looking for new ways to understand loss will find guidance, solace, and a companionable voice in this extraordinary debut.
What could I possibly add to the wonderful description of this beautifully written book? My words are small and won’t adequately convey my true sentiments. My review will not do justice and encompass the beauty of this memoir, North of Hope.
Shannon Huffman Polson is a virtuoso. She is one of my heros. She writes with such brilliance, as she weaves her story of loss and hope. She takes you on her pilgrimage through the Alaskan Artic in search for answers. Her experiences will leave you breathless, in wonder and awe.
I love memoirs like this one, written with such depth, thoughtfulness and creativity. Besides which, Shannon Huffman Polson is an extraordinary writer.
I really enjoyed this memoir and was sad when it ended. I hope she writes more books.
I highly recommend North of Hope, it is brilliant. One of the best memoirs I have read in a long time.
Shannon Polson lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. She was a contributing writer to More Than 85Broads, and her work has appeared in Seattle and Alaska Magazines, Cirque Journal, Adventure Magazine, and Trachodon, among others. Polson graduated with a B.A. from Duke University in English Literature, an M.B.A. from the Tuck School at Dartmouth, and an M.F.A. from Seattle Pacific University. She served eight years as an attack helicopter pilot in the Army and worked five years in corporate marketing and management roles before turning to writing full time. Polson serves on the board of the Alaska Wilderness League and sings with the critically acclaimed Seattle Pro Musica. She has looked for adventure and challenge anywhere she can find it, scuba diving, sky diving and climbing around the world, including ascents of Denali and Kilimanjaro, and completing two Ironman triathlons. She and her family enjoy backpacking, any kind of skiing, paddling, and spending as much time outdoors as they can in the Western states and Alaska. In September 2009, Polson was awarded the Trailblazer Woman of Valor award from Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell.