Tag Archives: Zondervan

What It Is To Be A Writer

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.

Gospel Coalition

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.


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North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (April 9, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310328764
ISBN-13: 978-0310328766
Price: $16.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN








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.

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The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031032906X
ISBN-13: 978-0310329060
Price: $26.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN








Ten years ago, Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life, which became the bestselling hardback non-fiction book in history, and is the second most-translated book in the world, after the Bible. PDL has inspired and changed tens of millions of lives … more than any modern book. NOW, Rick has updated and expanded the book with new chapters on the greatest barriers to living your purpose, plus 42 video introductions to each chapter theme, and 42 additional audio messages that go deeper into each chapter. He has also created a new small group curriculum and new sermon series for pastors, and new follow-up events to conserve the evangelistic and discipleship results you will experience. In the original 40 Days of Purpose campaign, churches averaged 28% growth in attendance, and over 100% growth in small group Bible study! People WANT to know their purpose in life! The Purpose Driven Life will enable a new generation in your church to discover God’s purposes for their lives and empower your church with a fresh new wind of hope, joy, and vitality!


Wow! I can’t believe it’s been ten years already. I first heard about The Purpose Driven Life in March 2005. It was when this woman was held hostage. Her name then was Ashley Smith. She’s married now and goes by Ashley Smith Robinson.

Her story is amazing because as a result of reading excerpts of The Purpose Driven Life to her captor, he let her go and turned himself in.

When I read this story in the news, I went out and bought the book right away. I was fascinated to know what The Purpose Driven Life was all about.

I read it back then and started telling everyone in my circle about it. I even bought copies and gave them out to people.

I love everything Pastor Rick Warren preaches and writes about. He has a brilliant way of breaking things down and making difficult concepts easy to understand. He keeps your interest and he is never boring.

The anniversary edition of The Purpose Driven Life is even better. There are two new chapters added: “The Envy Trap – I must be like you to be happy” and “The People-Pleaser Trap – I must be liked by you to be happy”.

Also, what I totally think is fabulous, is there are QR codes and web links incorporated providing a video intro and 30-minute audio message by Pastor Rick Warren for each chapter.

If you are not familiar with Pastor Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life is a great introduction. This is one of my favorite books ever. I highly recommend it to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to thank both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.


As founding pastor of Saddleback Church, Dr. Rick Warren leads a 30,000 member congregation in California with campuses in major cities around the world. As a theologian, he has lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, University of Judaism, and dozens of universities and seminaries. As a global strategist he advises world leaders and has spoken to the United Nations, US Congress, Davos Economic Forum, TED, Aspen Institute, and numerous parliaments. Rick has also founded the global P.E.A.C.E. plan, which Plants churches of reconciliation, Equips leaders, Assists the poor, Cares for the sick, and Educates the next generation in 196 countries. www.purposedriven.com

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Book Review: Faith and Other Flat Tires

Faith and Other Flat Tires

by Andrea Palpant Dilley
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (February 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0310325512
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | CBD

Sample Chapter


At age twenty-one, Andrea Palpant Dilley stripped the Christian fish decal off her car bumper in a symbolic act of departure from her religious childhood. At twenty-three, she left the church and went searching for refuge in the company of men who left her lonely and friends who pushed the boundaries of what she once held sacred.

In this deeply personal memoir, Andrea navigates the doubts that plague believers and skeptics alike: Why does a good God allow suffering? Why is God so silent, distant, and uninvolved? And why does the church seem so dysfunctional?

Yet amid her skepticism, she begins to ask new questions: Could doubting be a form of faith? Might our doubts be a longing for God that leads to a faith we can ultimately live with?


Faith and Other Flat Tires is as unique as its title. The subheading reads, “searching for God on the rough road of doubt”.

I have a penchant for memoirs, and this one was especially captivating.

Andrea Palpant Dilley was the daughter to Quaker missionaries who served in Kenya most of her childhood.  She had grown accustomed to living in Africa, that when she returned to the States, she had difficulty assimilating into the American culture.

While living in Africa as a child, Andrea Palpant Dilley was exposed to a great deal of suffering and death.  Those early experiences planted a seed which then germinated into doubt and her crisis of faith.

As we traverse this earth, sooner or later, we will face doubt.  We will wrestle, as Jacob did, with an invisible God, we can’t see or touch. Doubt will inevitably be our companion or foe on this sojourn.

The following excerpt encompasses the beauty and brilliance of this thoughtful, philosophical and superbly written memoir:

To me, longing for God was like hearing music from an open window on the street or seeing mountains off in the distance. The yearning felt almost like grief.  A cry born into my heart before the human heart ever existed. A desire so deep and far back that it seemed almost prehistoric. I sensed the imago Dei, the image of God within me. I was Plato’s child searching for the lost language of my origins. I was a homing bird traveling with my outspread wings, carried by the innate compass and crossing a thousand miles to get back to the place where I began. (Page 235)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Faith and Other Flat Tires and highly recommend it to adults who are struggling with faith and doubt.

In conclusion, I want to thank Zondervan and Handlebar Marketing for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to read and review.


Andrea Palpant Dilley grew up in Kenya as the daughter of Quaker missionaries and spent the rest of her childhood in the Pacific Northwest. She studied English literature and writing at Whitworth University. Her work as a writer has appeared in Rock and Sling, Geez, and Utne Reader, as well as the anthology Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical. Her work as a documentary producer has aired nationally on American Public Television. She lives with her husband and daughter in Austin, Texas.

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