Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Artist's Daughter: A Memoir by Alexandra Kuykendall, ©2013

How I've come to understand who I am.
   --Alexandra Kuykendall

Alexandra, I am so thankful we are the Artist's daughters!!
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven.
   --Psalm 107:29-30
I am so thankful for the Lord in our lives. Our Restorer, our Defender. "Alex" speaks with clarity and openness as she lays her memoir to the light with those around her, loving her, speaking into her life. Realizing unmet expectations of what others do not have to give or do not choose to give. A story of settling (not "settling for" but "settling in"), of finding a place to live, to be alive with hope. As a mother hen spread her wings over her chicks to fend off harm, the Lord has done this for Alex. So dear, and so close, His breath is near.

To join your past with open ears and hearts, to open feelings to the unknown. To come aware of what is lacking, to reach out for what is not to be. A heart of passion, a heart of caring, Alex feels her way as she begins to close the gap for others, searching and sharing where they are.

Alexandra Kuykendall is a giver as she exposes her heart with gratitude; becoming aware of what she has been given.
Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
   --2 Corinthians 12:9
Will we allow the Lord to lead us in our story? Alexandra weaves yesterday and today in a vivid and soothing relating of a life hidden and revealed. She has entered with others in hopes of connection and openness to bring life alive out of the darkness into His marvelous light. What is exposed cannot remain hidden to bring you to freedom, to set the captives free.
Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
   --Psalm 119:111
In vulnerability, she shows what receiving grace means, what it has done; to be loved with an everlasting love.

Listening to the above video by Alexandra, the author of The Artist's Daughter, I understand the strengthening that comes from loss and separation, from abandonment in our lives. Who I am can better be answered by Whose I am. I am loved. I am cared for. I am complete in Him.

Psalm 139
New King James Version (NKJV)
God’s Perfect Knowledge of Man
For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20 For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

The very first time I read this Psalm, it all came together for me. My mother died the month before I was six. I longed for her. The Lord has always been with me. I have not been alone. He has seen to the end of my life here on earth, and has come to walk through it with me. I trust Him. Death ~ earthly separation. My firstborn and only son died of a heart attack, June 3, 2011. The Lord has upheld me. I know it is so.

Cover Art
It takes a lifetime to know what-and who-defines you.
When Alexandra Kuykendall became a mother, she knew she had to go back to the beginning. To that hot July afternoon in Barcelona when she met her father for the first time. The only daughter of a single, world-traveling mother and an absent artist father, Alexandra embarks on a soul-searching trip into the past to make sense of the layers of her life―both the memories she experienced and the ones she wished for.

The Artist’s Daughter will take you on a journey of discovery through childhood, marriage, and motherhood. Through short vignettes full of both wonder and heartache, Alexandra seeks answers to three life-defining questions: Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? If you long to better understand the path your life has taken, where it is heading, and who is guiding you, this revealing and refreshing story will push you toward those answers as it changes your heart.

Alexandra KuykendallAlexandra Kuykendall lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Derek and their four daughters. She is on staff at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) where she is a regular contributor and consulting editor to various publications and a frequent speaker for the organization. While she spends most days buckling and unbuckling car seats and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma, she manages to snatch minutes here and there to write about the quest for purpose in it all.

***Thank you to Revell Blog Tour Network Nonfiction for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Alexandra Kuykendall's The Artist's Daughter and for sending me a copy of the book. No other compensation was received.***

Questions for Reflection are included in the back of the memoir for each section.

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