Friday, December 4, 2009

Guest Blogger Marjorie Preston about her book: Essie In Progress

Hi readers! Marjorie Preston graciously sent along a guest post to share with you, so here it is! I hope you are blessed just as I was! Marjorie's story, Essie In Progress is answered prayer in her life, and her story encouraged me a great deal!

Please Welcome Marjorie Preston!

The Divine Is Everywhere

Whether it is music, art, the spoken word, literature, or art in any other form, glimpses of God’s activity are all around us, hidden in the everyday things. It seems to me, He uses all forms of art to reveal something about Himself to both the artist and the appreciator.

Music: My 4 yr old son became very concerned about Tom Petty after hearing the lyrics to Freefallin’ on the radio. “I’m a bad boy cuz I don’t even miss her. I’m a bad boy for breaking her heart.” In his bed that night, he prayed aloud for “that singing boy to be friends again with that girl soon”. It took me a while to figure out what he was praying about. Now it has become part of his nighttime routine. I have a feeling Tom Petty would appreciate it.

Art: My 6 yr old daughter dreams of becoming an artist when she grows up. Vulnerable and unsure of herself, she presents me with her classroom creation: a portrait of the two of us holding hands, made out of elbow noodles glued on construction paper. It was fabulous -- the most moving macaroni art I’ve ever seen. “It is beautiful,” I say, “Like you.” She beams. With boosted confidence, she set off on another self portrait that would blow your mind if you saw it. I can’t wait to see what she’ll attempt next.

Spoken Words: My oldest son has recently taken complete responsibility for our dog, a 10 year old Chihuahua named Bluebell. He feeds it, waters it and takes it out every day. Last week, I walked into the den and found him on the floor with the dog, nose to nose, preaching the gospel to Bluebell. His reason: “I want to make sure she goes to heaven with us.” He explained the good news in such plain, simple language; I’m tempted to believe we’ll see her there.

My Book: My sister likes to poke good-natured fun at me for my passion for art – and for my book in particular.

Sis: “It’s like your fourth child.”

Me: “It is not!”

Sis: “You strap it in a booster seat and drive it around with you wherever you go.”

Me: “That’s ridiculous!”

Sis: “You buy it its own Kids Meal when you go through a drive thru. I bet it gets its very own cheeseburger and fries, like each of your other 3 kids.”

Me: “Actually, it prefers nuggets.”

The point? Great art, in any form, is powerfully emotional and immeasurably important. It is anything but whimsy. It is an expression of our souls. It’s born from deep wells of anguish and joy that erupt from our core. In my view, the greatest expressions of art don’t originate in us; they are conceived in the mind of God and created through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. For both the artist and the appreciator, it becomes an encounter with God.

About the real author and true hero behind all of our stories:

Deep within the heart of mankind, we are all imprinted with a desire to live a life of significance. My book, Essie in Progress, is the story of man’s deep desire, whether young or old, to be found strong -- to be the hero-- and a woman’s longing to be found beautiful -- a princess – and the artistry our Creator, who ultimately unveils the truth of these identities to us as we grow into His likeness.

Why did I write it?

I started writing Essie in Progress in response to a spiritual crisis of sorts. At 35 years old, I was shocked to discover I was pregnant with my third child. It wasn’t that I was unhappy about another child, but the news forced me to face the grim probability that my dream of writing a book was nothing more than a childish fantasy. Who has time to write between balancing a full-time job and a growing family? Life was moving too fast for me. I imagined that I’d blink my eyes and find myself at retirement age, looking back with regret at never earnestly pursuing the hopes and dreams of my youth.

With these thoughts in mind, I had a heart-to-heart with my husband who, much to my surprise, admitted similar fears of his own. He had inherited the dream of riding a motorcycle cross-country to Alaska from his father, who had inherited it from his father, but life had simply gotten in the way for them. My dream of becoming an author was also inherited; my mother is an artist-turned-hairdresser and my father an aspiring novelist who put down his pen to become a salesman soon after I was born. Discovering this common thread of dreams deferred in our stories led to a defining moment for both of us. We made a life-changing decision: although one’s dreams can seem impractical, they are important and must be pursued.

While my husband embarked on his long-awaited Alaskan adventure, I (heavily pregnant by now) enrolled in Evening at Emory’s Creative Writing and Publishing course. As momentum behind my writing grew, my dad stepped in as informal editor and honest accountability partner. Slowly, Essie in Progress began to take shape, examining marriage, motherhood and career in a way that loosely reflected the dramatic events that led to my decision to write the book. For me, the process was therapeutic. It allowed me to step back and really see the beauty and humor that reside in the seeming chaos of my day-to-day life.

I hope that the publication of Essie in Progress will be a loving memorial to my father, who passed away unexpectedly within months of the manuscript’s completion. Further, I pray that Essie’s (and my own) story will inspire my children and everyone else to pursue their dreams – no matter what.

About me:

As a working mother of three children under eight years old, I have tremendous passion for the challenges faced by working moms. I’ve experienced Essie's journey myself and hope to share it with others so they can discover the abundant life available to them now.

Sources of Inspiration:

Inspiration comes from the teachings of Andy Stanley (NorthPoint Community Church), John Eldredge’s books (Epic, Waking the Dead), Beth Moore Bible Studies, the adventures of Tom Presten (my husband), Spring break trips with my sisters, heavy doses of 70’s rock and outlaw country, and, of course, the tender moments of overlooked beauty and unrecognized significance in the day-to-day experience of raising children.

Oh, and my mom – the inspiration for Ada! She collects dolls and, at one time, had 6 Chihuahuas that lived in a corner of our kitchen. As you might imagine, to get to the fridge was like crossing a mine field.

Most Important Lesson Learned on the path to publication:

How wholly dependent upon God I have to be to create anything worthwhile.

In Short:

Women play so many roles and carry so much responsibility in our culture, it is easy to forget who we really are deep down. Through this book, I hope my readers catch a glimpse of their own truer identity -- one that has nothing to do with performance, rather one of immeasurable worth as daughters of a King. God is working to create a beautiful mosaic of our lives even in the midst of seeming chaos. I pray we will have eyes to see it.

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