Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives

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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20 replies

  1. Congratulations on being part of this new book ! :o) What a wonderful and inspiring theme for an anthology (and what a pretty cover!) Currently my favourite tree is the cherry: lush blossoms on all the branches which eventually give way to our ‘spring carpets of snow’.

    • It’s a new experience for me to be part of an anthology like this, and I’m learning a lot as part of the Redbud Writers Guild. I love all of the cherry trees in bloom–spring has come a little later than usual, but it’s beautiful!

  2. My favourite tree is one I call the “Dodsland Tree.” It is situated near the village of Dodsland in a farmer’s field. It is the only tree in that huge field. What amazes me is the choice of the farmer to work around this tree. It is inconvenient and the farmer could get more grain out of the field if he/she just cut it down. A choice for beauty rather than productivity. A choice I strive to make.

    • I love your tree! “A choice for beauty rather than productivity. A choice I strive to make.” Spoken like a true artist 🙂 We would all do well to make that choice more often I think. Thanks for the inspiring choice!

  3. As a long term missionary in Japan, the cherry tree is my favorite tree. Seeing the cherry blossoms is a sure sign of spring, and when the blossoms fall, it looks like snowstorm of petals swirling in the wind. In the summer, the trees give wonderful shade and coolness to people that walk beneath the branches.
    For the elderly, each year as they look at the cherry blossoms, the question they often ask a family member or caregiver is, “Will I be here next year to see the cherry blossoms?”

    • Thank you for this beautiful word picture of cherry trees in Japan. And what a poignant and poetic question–the cherry blossoms may be a sure sign of spring, but they soon fall, and our lives here on earth are also fragile.

  4. Yes, congratulations! I want to read this book and my heart resonates with the title since I also have written about life as a journey.
    I have two favourite trees both which have sparked creativity, one is the weeping willow; years ago we used her branches to create a basket, my first and only foray into basket weaving.
    And I love the maple tree, perhaps because it offers wonderful shade, and I have also used her leaves for many clay projects!
    I’d like to learn more about Redbud. May this book encourage and inspire many.

  5. I like the words “deeply rooted” and “transformed” in the title of this new book

    • Those are definitely key words, Elfrieda. Being deeply rooted in faith is not static, but leads to growth and transformation. And transformation is not simply change for the sake of change or the pursuit of novelty, but comes from a place of deep roots. I’m thankful for both.

  6. Oh this sounds wonderful, April, with some of my favourite writers being featured too! I love the idea of this book, especially as my given word for 2017 is “rooted”, and I am only just beginning to appreciate the depth and breadth of it in life and faith. Congratulations on being part of such a great project. How exciting to have it launching soon! May it reach, touch and encourage many.
    My favourite tree is magnolia, purely because of its exquisite goblet or star shaped blooms and exotic appearance. We don’t have room for a tree in our garden and a mini potted version inexplicably died on us. But I am always looking out for them whenever I can and I smile each time I see one. They herald the onset of spring for me, as well as issuing a reminder that blooming and blossoming is possible. 🙂

    • Hi Joy – it’s good to hear from you, and oh, the magnolia seems so “you” in its beauty and blossoming! All the best to you in being “rooted” this year both in life and faith. And thank you for your words of blessing on this project. I pray that it will blossom and be an encouraging word in the lives of many.

  7. I love the dogwood tree. The colour and the lovely angles in its petals always intrigue me. The book sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to read it, especially your contribution, April!

    • Thanks, Stephanie. I love the dogwood tree too, and what an appropriate choice just after Easter. Some say that the flowers of the dogwood tree are in the shape of a cross with a crown of thorns in the middle and nail prints at the edge of each petal.

  8. It’s taken me a couple of days to decide on a favourite tree. My initial thought was the arbutus with it’s peeling bark, chestnut coloured trunk and branches, firm looking wood, oftentimes gnarled, leaning shape, and leaves that stay on the tree year round. And it prefers locations close to the ocean and sea air (and most of us enjoy time spent by the ocean). But they are messy trees to have in one’s yard with blossoms and berries falling at certain times of the year and leaves coming down year round (not to mention twigs and branches that break off in wind storms). If one wants a well kept / looking good type of yard, arbutus trees create a lot of work! Daily life is rather like that—-a combination of both beauty and ugly moments / joys and heartaches / highs and lows / accomplishments and tough challenges at times. It’s easy to get discouraged by the negatives facing us when we forget to look up and see the beauty in people and situations.

    • What a beautiful reflection, Helen, and now I know a lot more about arbutus trees. I don’t think I’ll ever look at one the same way again. May you continue to see the beauty and hope all around you.

  9. Even though I find comfort in all trees, I find inspiration in conifers. I see strength by their bending and swaying from the elements of wind, rain, snow, and heat. Yet these trees remain full of green life throughout the seasons and remain a protective home to many living creatures. In spite of nature’s extremes, evergreens continue to branch out in many directions steady toward heaven continuing to get closer to God. When I paint a tree, I feel closer to God as well.

    • In my imagination, I can see those evergreens standing tall and continuing “to branch out in many directions steady toward heaven continuing to get closer to God.” That’s a beautiful picture of our spiritual lives as well – whatever extremes of life we may face, may we continue to branch out and grow toward God.

  10. I make up rhymes for wife and five daughters
    Black locust trees, long trunks and branch knotters
    Small leaves on blue skies are sparse blotters
    Open windows to thoughts from Gods bloggers

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