Today, I’m pleased to share with you a book from my friend, Alexandra Kuykendall, called ‘The Artist’s Daughter.’ Alexandra was kind enough to send me a copy of the book in exchange for a copy of mine. Two barriers initially stood between me and the book. First, I’m not much of a memoir reader. I think I have about one one my shelf. Two, I’m not really at the center of the target audience. Despite that, I enjoyed the book and I think you should check it out. Alexandra was kind enough to answer a few questions to help you get a sense of what it’s all about.
First, can you give us just a brief current bio – your background with MOPS, etc.
I’m a mother of four daughters ages 10 to 1, wife to the Executive Director of a Denver urban housing ministry (ProvidenceNetwork.org), and Mom and Leader Content Editor at MOPS International. I write and speak to moms and leaders around the world on a variety of mothering topics.
What was the catalyst that led you to write a memoir? How long has it been in the making? How did you get it from an idea to actually being published?
I’ve been on a very unique publishing journey. I’ve been writing for MOPS International for a number of years. From magazine articles, to blog posts, to contributing to various devotional books, I’ve had the chance to use my life experiences to encourage other moms.
Every year MOPS groups around the world center around a common theme that is based on a scripture verse. It gives them a connection to other groups, allows them to share ideas, and unifies us in topic and spirit. We knew our 2013-14 theme centered on a mom’s identity. That question of who am I really? As we considered topics for our theme book for the year, we thought one woman’s story was an interesting approach to delving into identity. I was approached to submit a proposal for the theme book and thought I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
I was pregnant with my fourth daughter when the idea was presented, so I quickly worked on the proposal to have it done by my due date in July of 2011. t was a challenge for sure with a newborn, three other children, other responsibilities at MOPS International and life circumstances. In fact I changed the ending of the book after the proposal was turned in to include some of the crazy life details that came crashing down all at once around the time my youngest daughter was born.
Your book centers on three important questions about being lovable, being loved and being loving. How did these emerge as the themes you would use to anchor your life story?
I considered the message I wanted to leave with the reader. I started with the end in mind. I wanted a woman to know that her identity, her value, has already been determined. That Jesus solidified her worth on the cross and nothing can change that. That was an act of love. As women we spend much of our lives looking for love, for affirmation. That’s natural. We are created to be filled with love, but a holy, divine love. We often, not to sound cliché, look for love in all the wrong places. I knew part of my struggle was dealing with the ripples of an absent father. How that has shaped my understanding of who I am. I’m a different person than I was twenty or even two years ago. And in our relationships our understanding of how we are loved helps us in our own attempts at being loving. When grace is received it’s much easier to give. But I wanted the story to tell it. I didn’t want to preach it.
What do you hope your kids, friends or strangers get out of reading the book?
The annual theme MOPS International settled on to accompany this book is A Beautiful Mess: Embrace Your Story. I share this because I think any reader should draw closer to his/her own story through reading mine. I touch on universal themes like disappointment, fear, marriage, parenting, love, and expectation. And I don’t end in a neat package with a bow on top. I am the epitome of a beautiful mess. I’m beautiful because God created me and says I am. I’m a mess by my own making and some by circumstances. Redemption isn’t about perfection on the other side. It’s about grace from this point forward.
Go grab the book – it’s only eleven bucks at Amazon!