Headed North

Headed North

I’m Bear Aware!

I was staying in Seattle and while I was there I planned my birthday trip. I spent time writing and said yes to several book reviews. I clicked yes and realized the disconnect of requesting a hard copy book be mailed to me when, at the time, I had no mailing address. I failed then to see the overlapping of stories.

The print copy made a rather circuitous route before resting on my bedside table. It did however arrive at the right time, as is the lesson on repeat for my life right now.

There was a journey over the jagged edge of loss. Despite the maps I had carefully marked and folded and stored in plastic cases, it was a trip into uncharted territory.

My need to know the answer, to get through something pushed me to read the book in 2 sittings. Grief does not find its end so quickly. Not for me. Not for Polson, as she relates in her memoir; North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey. It could be said that I devoured the book, hoping to assimilate it in some cellular way which might bypass my mind.

North of Hope

I appreciated her transparent stutterings toward grasping the experience which is so intensely personal and absolutely universal at the same time. I read sentence after sentence that struggled to explain, and felt like I was watching a replay of an accident on the news. You can’t look away. They try to frame the incident differently. Get closer. Interview someone else. All framing the same moment, each a part and each a whole. The speech is not a mumbling, or even a stuttering but a fuller examination of critical aspects of her journey.

They were memories. They were casings. They were shrouds. They were straightjackets. They were vestments. They were relics. They were the certitude of each day of my life before June 25. They had housed expectations for my life. They were embraces.

My experiences read nothing like those of Polson’s. Good writing, honest storytelling transcends the details that we use to separate ourselves. North of Hope is a story, and a tool. It is a link in a chain to help others move past the details of their grief and into the process of grieving.

My advice. Read carefully and remember the choice Polson presents…

It occurred to me then that I had a choice about what I’d been given: to grit my teeth and try to muscle through, or to try to train my wounded spirit to the possibility of wonder.

**This was another review for the lovely folks at Zondervan and Handlebar Marketing. No deposits to a Swiss bank account happened here. No cash passed under the table in an Italian restaurant. Just me, and my unending opinions, and affiliate links.**

Gathered Words

imagejpeg_2(2)I can’t remember not doing it.

I know that the summer I got my own library card I was thrilled to no end. I sat in the shade of trees on the courthouse lawn and read. And read. And read about young girls who sat and read instead of doing their chores. Of girls who watched the clouds instead of the cows in the pasture.

Being asleep is a great way to avoid being critical. Gretchen Rubin

Back then, I didn’t have to write down my favorite words to remember them. It wasn’t long before there were words upon words I wanted to tuck away. Words on receipts. Words typed out on my typewriter and put in folders. Folders that moved in to box after box as I moved from coast to desert and back.

You don’t have to lose everything to know your own poverty. Edie Wadsworth

I keep reading, scribbling and tucking these notes everywhere. Now there are more ways to hide these words away, more ways to lose them or organize them, if order is more your bent than mine.

Lately, I have been reading more than writing, it comes in cycles. This time was the season for me to write and I spent it reading. Sitting in silence. Speaking into my voice recorder the fragments that came through raspy breath on long walks.

I needed to accept my own nature–yet I needed to push myself as well. this seemed contradictory; but in my heart, I knew the difference between lack of interest and fear of failure. Gretchen Rubin

I’m not known for being logical. I understand sitting alone in silence and declaring yourself a writer, one on trial retirement from the rest of life so that she can write, seems contradictory. Building installation pieces and calling yourself a painter gets some odd looks too, but it didn’t stop Rauschenberg.

As an artist, I wouldn’t call myself imaginative. I do have a passion for observing, absorbing.

These baubles from the alphabet, arranged like fine French gardens, are tucked away as mementos of my journey. They flavor the pot of wonder in which I am stewing.

If I knew where I was going, I would perhaps know what I would need. This trip has left open the table to entertain whomever, or whatever may choose to sit, to speak, or to offer a plate for sharing.

There isn’t one great thing you were made to do. There is one great God you were made to glorify. Emily P Freeman

Come. Sit. Read. Do the thing most opposite of that which you feel you should be doing. Share when stopping helped you start. Or eating made you hungry.

Bold as Love Review

If there wasn’t conviction from the first few pages, once I got to this little gem, I was a nailed.

Bold love doesn’t ignore the fear; it steps into the place the fear is, and puts its feet squarely on love. That is the place from when we alone can stand without fear. Who do you fear the most? That person will require bold love of you.

The book Bold as Love by Bob Roberts Jr. released this week. I got a copy last week and have worked my way through it.

Bold as Love is not full of theology that requires a concordance and a Greek dictionary. It is not one that waxes poetic about esoteric nonsense. Bob simply tells us like it is. He tells us how to walk the streets Jesus would choose today. He names the company Jesus would keep in 2012. Creating a narrative based on biblical truth does not require the story to stay in the past.

What I find to be the highlight of the book is that tells of  life worked out today because of what Jesus taught so many years ago. I enjoyed hearing about cooking clubs and relationship building adventures in deserts in the Middle East.

Get your own copy over here, and don’t forget to share your copy when you are done!

Bold as Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does

Silent Break Through

What do you do when there are no comments? When comments are requested for a purpose.

In this world where conversations take place with thumbs not mouths, and electronic dings alter you to the latest news, how is it that there are so few comments and conversations?

So this is what I did last night when I had to write a post, but I couldn’t.

I sat right down on #5 of the top 10 things to make yourself miserable about your art. I stretched my left arm out and scooped up the first four tasks and then repeated on my right side. I gathered up all the wrong things and sat with them all hot and sticky on my lap.

I dug around for photos. Online. In digital albums and hiding in files on my hard drive.

Not the, “Look Mom! See what I did” kind of photos. More of the he made that and she got this and they got to go there and she was awarded …

I know better.

I also know that sometimes the only way up is down.

The only way through some art/crisis/life lesson is to take a deep breath and dive even deeper.

Back before hospital emergency rooms with wait times posted in blinking lights on billboards, soldiers were often re-wounded in the same spot to try to force healing. Or so I’ve heard.

When you are facing transition in labor, the only way out is through. Through the shaking and tearing pain. Pushing harder through to the blinding white light of redemption.

So I refuse the numb. I walk. I walk more. I skip the ice cream tonight. I sit with those ugly emotions and let their stench get on my clothes. I lie down and close my eyes so that I can see deeper into the darkness.

And I look. Look at what is posted as success for us to see. For me. For me to see where the pain is real and where it just smarts because I know someone would tell me that it should.

I find the edge of what is real and what hurts for it will be my sleeping companion tonight.

Tomorrow. The art will continue.


For the one who was the doula through this creative labor, you, my dear, are awarded the book.

Break Through Review & Give-away

I finished reading Break Through this week and am excited to announce that I have an extra copy to give away to a lucky reader! To be entered to win the book go to the comments ad answer the question at the end of this post.

Break Through: The Moment that Changes Everything When to Give in, How to Push Back by Tim Clinton and Pat Springle

I have to confess. I did a preliminary read through (I did read every page, honest.). To be followed by a reading to make notes in another book. To question myself. To complete the end of chapter reviews. I came to the conclusion that this reading was just a read it to review it kind when I faced the first round of end of the chapter questions. I realized that I should and wanted to do the digging and looking and thinking that this book presents.

I like a book that challenges me. Whether it is a piece of fiction that stretches my imagination with the growth of a character, or if it is nonfiction and the character to be stretched is me.

If you are looking for feel good vibes from a self-help book, Break Through is not for you. With those books you can sit and read for a few hours. Maybe shed a tear or two but ultimately you close the back cover of the book and say, “That was easier than I thought.”  A red light should be flashing in your peripheral view.

Break Through is that. It is a book that challenges you. There are stories from individuals that work through each chapter of the book–you can read about their progress–even the one step forward, two steps back kind. In this way, the book helps to provide back up for when you are feeling the backward motion of the pull of your old life.

Besides personal accounts, each chapter opens with a relevant topical quote. Chapter 12 is one of my favorites.

I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.

-Pietro Aretino

For me the section on irresponsible behaviors was big. There was an aha for me that I needed to face. My need to control led me to being irresponsible in other areas of my life, lazy even. I could face saying I am controlling. But to be called irresponsible, I would loathe that.

Everyone’s path through this book will be different. I expect that even my second read through will bring different truths into focus. I would challenge you to pick up a copy and work through it yourself. If you have problems telling others no. If you don’t know where you begin and your spouse ends. If you feel like a martyr–and maybe sometimes that feels good. If you aren’t sure what forgiveness looks like, this book could help.


Give away deadline: Monday June 25th..winner announced Tuesday June 26.

To enter the book give away, answer this question from Chapter 3:

How do you think setting appropriate boundaries can help you love more sincerely?


*This book and one to give away were provided to me by Handlebar Marketing and Worthy Publishing. All opinions are my own. Take them or leave them.

Healing, Books, and Healing Books

This is my year of hope.

My sarcastic nature quickly inserts a “deferred” right after the word hope.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

That is where my mind goes next when I think about how the word hope makes me feel. How I am trying to quiet the one who whispers such lies.

So I turn to the verse, and read it in context.

Proverbs 13:11-13

New International Version (NIV)

11 Dishonest money dwindles away,
but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,
but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

This time it is verse 13 that catches my eye.

I am here to bribe myself into writing this post, this review of a book that I ordered before I was ready. Picked it knowing I wouldn’t make it through the book without some struggles. I am here to heed the instructions and show respect for the Godly commands that are in the book.

Healing Is a Choice  by Stephen Arterburn was sent to me months ago. While the edition I received pairs the original text with the workbook, and it tops out over 400 pages, those weren’t the reasons the review didn’t get written.

The book covers 10 topics, or decisions that can be used to guide you towards healing your life. Each choice that is discussed also has a counterpart–the lie that keeps you hurting.The chapters are each followed with the corresponding section from the workbook (which was previously published separately).

I found the workbook sections helpful, even if I was not ready to dive into each question or discussion. However, I felt that if I read straight through–the chapter and then through the workbook section I was disappointed. It felt as though the material was repeated without enough extra or different discussion in the workbook section. So I felt like I was wasting time ‘rereading’ the workbook section. Had I read the workbook parts a week later, it would have been a good review. If these sections were used in a small group it would be a good way to read aloud and summarize the chapter, but reading through both alone felt redundant.

I believe that the book has usefulness beyond the first read. Or even the first group study. The table of contents outlines each of the 10 decisions that need to be examined as you work towards healing. Opening to these pages when you are struggling, you can find the section to read again. The book will give you stories to remind you of where you are headed. It will tie in reminders of where to turn in the word. If you use the workbook, you will also be able to see your progress, and reminders of where you struggle.

Let me leave you with the page I landed on tonight, no doubt a message that I needed to hear.

Give up and start to move with God’s power and strength, and you may find there is tremendous hope. You may find that there is tremendous power you never knew existed, but it is all downstream, and you get to it by working with the river of life, the giver of life, rather than against it.

Do not destroy your life over a big lie. You feel hopeless because you have been using your own power, not because there is no hope.

It is finally time to throw the oar in the river and ride. Hope is downstream waiting for me.


*Booksneeze.com provided this book for me to review. I was not paid for a positive review. All opinions and stories are my own.

Seven Day Shift

Life and its structure has been shifting ever so slightly for the past month. Good things are to come from this time.

It has been a little quite around here. Not because I have nothing nice to say, or feel I am running out of words. There are plenty of words rolling around, bubbling up and overflowing. They just aren’t lined up in any sort of recognizable grammatical structure just yet.

Something struck me yesterday, a short sentence that, while completely irritating, was terribly true.

For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers.” Julia Cameron.


I believe then, it is time to examine what is being numbed, avoided, and ignored. It is time to silence the words on a page or a screen long enough to hear what is being spoken inside my head and even to me by those I love. No books or blogs, facebook or email. No text messages, but please do call me. I’d love to hear your voice.

In the meantime, I highly encourage you to continue to esteem your mother by downloading a copy of Mother Letters. Spend some time soaking in those words. If you didn’t write to your mother as part of your celebration of her, perhaps an additional surprise is in order? Write her a letter on a random Tuesday just because–just because she made you rice krispie treats after that bad day at school, or always put braids in your hair because you wanted them.

Click here to view more details

Like She Said…Amazing

She speaks what He whispers.

Holley Gerth’s book points out what God already knows about each of us. It is no secret. He whispers it into our spirit, our circumstances, our bodies and our days.

You Are Already Amazing

If that seems like swallowing castor oil instead of a mocha, I get it. Holley in her patience and persistent prayers did too and she listened and wrote and struggled right through the book for us, with us. For which, I am grateful. She did not write from her high perch as a counselor but across the table as the sweetest of girlfriends.

We believe what our girlfriends say, don’t we? The trust that keeps our secrets–including just how many pounds we expect to lose before the next holiday–creates this rebar enforced, steel girded, cement strong platform of truth for all her words to rest on.

I don’t know Holley personally. I read her over at (in)courage, and her blog Heart to Heart with Holley. I’m excited to see her be part of (in)courage IRL. However, after getting through to the middle of the book, I can say that if she landed in this desert that I live in, I would happily take her to my favorite coffee house and proceed to spill the beans of my life in her lap. I wouldn’t say that about many people, or many authors.

As for the book, I don’t want to spoil the journey for you all. I want to encourage you to dig in to the lists and the charts. To answer the questions, even if it is only in your head, because the truth on the page is too much to face.

I’m a visual person, and have to say a word about the layout and design of the book. I love me a high key image and the front cover is no disappointment. Throw in the great texture of an embossed title and the sweet detail at the top, and I’m hooked. Visual guides like diagrams on the inside are a bonus. It didn’t feel like a science textbook that I would be tested on, it felt like a girlfriend who knew I would be sketching it out in my head, so she made it clear just for me.

So I’ll leave you with a few bits from my dog-eared pages…

That’s the thing about light–

we can’t save it up

or carry it back.

It’s always for now,

always for where we are today,

because it flows from the One

who is I am.


God gave us grace for a reason–he knew we’d need it. And he promises an endless supply. What matters most to him isn’t that you always get it right but instead that you stay right by his side.  (emphasis mine)


Interested in a deal? Head over here and see all the goodies that go along with the book. (Make sure you grab the discount code from the top right hand corner of the screen for 25% off…gotta love DaySpring!)

Love the book and want to talk more about it? Hear what others have to say and get insights from the author herself? You are in luck! Bloom book club is working through the book this month.

**Revell Publishing Group provided me a copy of the book through DaySpring to review. I was not paid for a positive opinion, just given a great book and this is what happened next. And that is all for the fine print.

Pondering and a Poem

I’m still pondering my word for 2012. Days whir by but my mind is slow. For this I am grateful.

There are a lot of wonderful and personal words out there. Words that I thought about back in July when I determined to start a new year on my birthday. So this January 1 is more a half-way mark, a place to reset sights and gauge growth.

While I ponder, here is a poem to keep you until I return. It has been my favorite for awhile and now resides in the front of my life book–which I started in preparation for my new birthday year. Enjoy!

i am running into a new year

by Lucille Clifton

i am running into a new year

and the old years blow back

like a wind

that i catch in my hair

like strong fingers like

all my old promises and

it will be hard to let go

of what i said to myself

about myself

when i was sixteen and

twenty-six and thirty-six but

i am running into a new year and i beg what i love and

i leave to forgive me.