Last year, I joined the Redbud Writers Guild, which envisions “a vibrant and diverse movement of Christian women who create in community and who influence culture and faith.” So far I’ve only met one Redbud in person, so for me the community is mainly a virtual one, but I’m gradually getting to know some of the other members, and I’m excited to be part of the Guild’s new anthology of women’s writing.
Everbloom is a collection of essays, stories, and poetry that speak of being deeply rooted in faith and living transformed lives. Like co-editor Shayne Moore, who travelled to Kenya with her church to learn about local HIV/AIDS programs. Or co-editor Margaret Ann Philbrick who introduces the volume with her poem on why we write.
Bronwyn Lea writes of being a young mother:
I did not expect God to show up in the nursery, whispering to me that the tenderness and love I felt toward my baby was just a fraction of how he felt about me. How her dependence on me was just a fraction of my dependence on him. (93)
Alia Joy describes her experience of growing up Asian in America and says:
God is not about the status quo or business as usual. God is the one who disrupts, who intervenes, who delivers. God is for the oppressed, for the marginalized, for the refugee, for the captives, for the sick, for the other. God is for the ones the world’s gaze skims over, the ones who never belong or get invited. (130f.)
Nilwona Nowlin‘s poem on where she’s from speaks of strong roots (with my apologies that the poetic spacing is stripped out in this quote – you’ll just have to get a copy of the book and read the original!):
I am from the mind of God,
a precious child created in the Creator’s image;
created to create,
I am from hand-me-down clothes,
handed out food
and a handed down faith. (18)
Others share stories of marriage, miscarriage or stillbirth, cancer, moving, making friends with grief. I share my story of Finding My Activist Voice in writing about church employment issues:
I’ve become an activist in my own modest way. I say “modest” because I’m not out picketing and because the need for better church employment practice may not seem as dire as eliminating sex trafficking or systemic racism. Yet poorly handled personnel situations have far-reaching effects. Some abruptly terminated employees go to a different church or denomination, or leave ministry entirely. Some come close to suicide and struggle with depression and anxiety. All this impacts the spouse and children who must live with the disruption and stress, who may even become estranged from God and the church. The church or other Christian organizations may suffer a loss of confidence in leadership, a loss of morale among employees, a loss of reputation in the wider community, a loss of Christian witness. Ministry suffers. The kingdom of God suffers. (124)
Each selection in this book concludes with a prayer and a writing prompt that invites your own reflection. Poet and author Luci Shaw says, “Once I began reading these stories I couldn’t stop,” and I feel that way about Everbloom too. Some of the stories have me nodding in recognition, others make me wince, and all invite me to continue raising my voice. As the publisher’s promo from Paraclete Press puts it, this book issues a clear call:
there is no pain that cannot be redeemed by the grace of God, no God-given voice that should be silenced, no one for whom the love of God through Jesus Christ will ever fall short.
This book is an inspiring read for yourself or for the women in your life, and would make a great gift for Mother’s Day or any time. You can pre-order on Amazon now.
Everbloom officially releases tomorrow on April 25! To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway between now and May 1. To enter for a chance to win a free book, just leave a comment below with the name of a favourite tree and why it’s your favourite. The context closes May 1 at 7am Pacific Time.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: The redbud tree is the emblem of the Redbud Writers Guild. To enter for a chance to win a copy of Everbloom, please leave a comment: what is the name of your favourite tree, and why is it your favourite?
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