Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp & Leslie (video): What Do We Do with the Broken Pieces of Our Lives?

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It’s storming today in Kodiak. I sit over the ocean, watching the water surge against the rocks. Fog lies like gauze over the spruce trees across the bay. I choose to watch this marvelous storm outside my windows rather than the vicious storm inside our nation. I’ve had enough of that.

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Our ship-of-state will sink if we don’t get our act together. By this, I don’t mean we’ll be saved if we elect all the right people to the right offices. This is so much bigger than politics and politicians. It’s about us, about who we are as people, as Christians, which should be our first and only identity. We don’t seem able to tolerate difference anymore, let alone “love our enemy.” Remember the hymn we used to sing years ago? “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love …. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

I wonder if this is what we’re known by right now . . . ?

I don’t know how to fix our nation, but Ann and I have some words to share about us, about what to do with the pieces of our cracked hearts, our lost dreams, our imperfect lives. If we ourselves don’t have hope, and if there is no way for us to heal individually, then our nation is surely doomed. Take a listen. I have 6 clips altogether from this evening at the Kodiak Convention Center, but sending on two today. Two are enough for today.

In one of them, I make my first public confession of a secret addiction (what I do when I’m really down . . .. It’s kinda pathetic. Worse than I admit here on camera . . .) And one more disclaimer: if you’re a Walmart employee or fan—-no insult intended!

(Quick note: Most of you know who Ann Voskamp is, this amazing fearless woman God has raised up as a voice for truth and compassion. Every book has been a NYTimes bestseller. She speaks all over the world. I was honored to have her as a guest at last month’s Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop. But never mind all that. Listen to this woman whose heart is truly after God)

 
 
 

Does anything here resonate with where you are right now? And——-how may I pray for you?

With love and always with hope,

Leslie

How to Get MORE of Everything that Counts (Including Squid)

Finally, I am finding words. What happened in this most intense week of my life? Come and see.

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Here’s what didn’t happen. We didn’t see whales this time—the first Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop workshop ever without whales. Nor did we see Kodiak bears, though we tried.  But we saw a squid. Small, nearly translucent, with neon eyes and a weird affinity for us. He played around our boots for 15 minutes. We held him in the cradle of our hands.

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 I never know what’s going to happen this week when 22 writers from everywhere gather on our fish camp island in Alaska. We first met on Saturday, sitting in a circle, telling 2 minutes of our story. We did not know each other. I asked, “Why have you come so far? What are you looking for?” Before we even began, there were tears and raw hearts. I wondered, what will God do here?

 

It wasn’t a simple or easy week. One of our beloved crewmen was injured by a chainsaw (Incredibly, a float plane was nearby so he could be whisked to the hospital. He is well and healed now.) A film crew was there filming the classes—-which stressed me out. One day we shot three sessions consecutively, ending with headaches, exhausted. We had some crises in the kitchen so everyone had to cook. We ran out of veggies. Did I sleep that week?

And the aftermath? The 28 sets of sheets, the 15 rooms to be cleaned and closed up for the winter . . .

 

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But it was an extravagant week.

 

 

I know so many of you who want to come. But it’s far. And it costs. But I want you to know,

You don’t have to fly to a far north island in Alaska to live this way. You don’t have to fly in a float plane, walk in wilderness, ride in skiffs, to know this same joy.     

  Two thousand years ago a man said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.

The man who promised this was mostly homeless, born into an oppressed minority, despised by the religious authorities, distrusted by his family, misunderstood by even his closest friends, marked for death by his many enemies. And yet---he lived extravagantly, generously, sacrificially, joyfully, abundantly.

 Have you heard this?

 “Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

What IS this abundant life?

 It IS a life of more. Not Joel-Osteen “more.” Not bigger houses, fancier cars, better job, more expensive clothes “more.” “More” meaning a life beyond our lonely single selves. Meaning a life bound up, twined into the lives of others. “More” includes, yes, exhaustion, Yes, risk. Yes, wounding and betrayal. Yes, grief. Yes, failure. All of it. But it means, more than anything, MORE of one another. And MORE of God. And with this “more,” in the company of friends and God, a little squid playing in our hands is as wondrous as a whale.

 This is the fullest life I know. We can live like this wherever we are, every single day.

 Will you try—-and tell me about it?

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(Who’s coming for the next HIWW? Here:)

When There's Nothing New Under the Sun












I got on a bush plane yesterday afternoon with my husband and two school officials and flew over Kodiak Island, through fog and thick swaths of clouds, over snowed mountains, a pod of orcas, the whirlpools of Whale Pass . … to a village, a very small village of maybe 50 people surrounded by wilderness and ocean. You cannot get here by road, only by bush plane or boat. It was graduation day. 

Here are the graduates. 





          This morning I get up with a backache that leaves me hobbling around the house while I get ready for a trip to Anchorage for oral surgery tomorrow. After that I make my yearly migration to fish camp, to Harvester Island, when the fog and clouds abate. 

           I am soon to sign a contract for my next book and am writing an article on gender identity, and tomorrow is the last day of school in Kodiak, when I'll go and eat hamburgers and play games with the kids, and I'm gathering all the boxes of things I need for the summer at fish camp, and it all feels ordinary, routine, as though I have done each thing more than a thousand times, though some of these I have done only once. Just once. Others more. 







            Do you know this too, how some nights and weeks our sleep is stolen,  how the mind goes numb sometimes, how the eyes stop seeing, how the body aches when we rise, how nothing can surprise us anymore, how we are surrounded by goodness and we cannot feel it . . . ?? Do you know this condition? Do you know this sickness?







  

               It is not the disease called Life, or the condition of Aging. Though I have seen many elderly with the lights gone out and the joy fled far, I have seen it also in the young and middle-aged. And I see it sometimes in the mirror. I saw it this morning. I can even quote a Scripture verse to normalize it: "There is nothing new under the sun."







          




             But I will not let this death have me. Dylan Thomas pleads with us in his famous villanelle, "Do not go gentle into that good night/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light." He is writing about his father in his last days, but this can be us as well. 

                 I am raging right now, sitting here on a double-cushioned stool to ease my back. I am raging right now writing this, and I raged this morning when I opened my Bible and drank in those words, and I rage every time I pick up my camera. We must find ways to find God in our days, for He is the Maker of every one, the Spinner of every hour, the one who ticks the second hand of the clock, delivering Life to us every  moment, even when we do not see or hear it. 

      And how will we wake up so we don't miss it? We are not left alone, unarmed. Through all these weapons for Life, I find Him again this very day:

  



























And here, in my prayer journal,





In my daily bread, 






    Your eyes? How are they this week? If you have been blind like me, don't stay there. We are not helpless. We can choose to get new eyes. There are so many ways,































          And if we cannot find God in our own lives even then, if we are that exhausted, that ill (and sometimes we are), then look for Him in others' lives, in other places. Here is where I looked today:

This interview with a Christian Iraqi girl, asking for forgiveness of ISIS.






            
        In Ann Voskamp's call to help our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, and the 1 - 9 year old girls sold as slaves to the highest bidder. 






In Christianity Today, the story of Jeanne Bishop, who helps her clients make amends for their crimes, who is now helping her sister's murderer make amends for his. 




And if you still are half-lidded, watch the wonder (and tender-heartedness) of children:



             
And taste the best medicine I know:  laughter. Even if you already are well.






    Nothing else has changed today----except me. My eyes are open. I am beginning to see again . …  And I pray you as well, dear friends . ...