Author Archive

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

It’s not you, it’s me.

That’s what I keep telling my blog. I don’t want it to feel bad.

But the truth is, we need to break up. It’s time for me to move out.

Writing here has felt complicated to me the last couple of years. I don’t have good words to explain that, and maybe you don’t need me to.

I started blogging here in 2008 after 20 years of not writing. I had walked away from pen and paper in order to pursue a big ministry thing I thought was my destiny, and I wanted to be my destiny, which turned out not to be my destiny at all. It’s taken me a good while to sort it, but it seems that when I started again, I put this spiritual cape over my writing shoulders, believing the only way I could be allowed to do so was under the auspices of a “call” of sorts. That the only way to legitimize a writing habit was to dress it in obedient clothes.

The truth is that writing my spiritual process has been good for me, has pushed me to areas I’d not otherwise explored, brought me to new depths in my faith that I’d been unable yet to fathom. It gave me a place to have conversations I wasn’t finding elsewhere, and I needed that. I’m exceedingly grateful for the way many of you have walked that way with me.

But it has also been bad for me, and some of you will understand that without me explaining it. It has kept me in a shallow place, has fooled me into believing something existed within me that may not have, simply because I could write about a difficult biblical text with depth and intensity or see something powerful in a passage others may have missed. It is too easy to measure a writer by the depth of a blog post, thrive on the most raw, trade in the currency of vulnerability without the protections of intimacy.

I set up an internal conflict every time I wrote in any way off the path of explicit spiritual edification. Sometimes, particular external feedback reinforced that. And I’ve found myself in the midst of a dynamic in which the end of spiritual practice was not greater joy in the presence of God, but what might make a compelling piece of writing.

And so it is my writing here has waned. I’ve taken it off-site, which has revitalized me in many, many ways, but has made it difficult to come home at night to A Different Story and its expectations, real or imagined.

I’d love it if you crossed the street with me to my new place, www.LylaWillinghamLindquist.com. I can’t tell you what my writing is going to look like there, or even if I’ll write any more often. I only know that I need a new space to try. One where I can write about God if I feel like it, or about anything else if I feel like it, and in any way that seems to work at the time. Maybe I’ll even use a bad word if it’s called for.

If you’re wondering, I still love Jesus. But in my non-writing life, I talk about other things. I’d like to write about them, too.

Some of you will prefer me the way I am right here. I’m good with that. I have some work in the archives that I’m pretty proud of (and some that, honestly, really sucks). Maybe one day I’ll delete it altogether, but for now I’ll leave it sit and we can grow old here together like Miss Havisham and her wedding cake.

Thanks for your love and encouragement while, like a petulant teenager, I’ve tried to find myself. Join me?

(Note: I am not moving my RSS and email subscriptions, so you will need to resubscribe at the new place if you wish to receive updates. While that might sound like an inconvenience, it’s really for your own good.)


Letters to Me: Book Launch

Twenty-twenty hindsight is a wondrous thing.

I’m happy today to announce the launch of Letters to Me: Conversations with a Younger Selfa collaborative project in which nearly twenty authors (yes, including me)  from a wide range of backgrounds explore a significant event from young adulthood, then talk to a younger version of ourselves with compassion and wisdom about what happened next, and how it mattered. I think most of the contributors would agree: being able to have a candid conversation with our older selves at what felt like such a critical moment would have been priceless.

This book is perfect for new graduates, college students, young adults making their way into the tenuous world of independence. But even at around two-times-ish the age of the intended audience, I have to tell you I was encouraged by these stories and reminded again that even with all its crazy ups and downs and twists and turns, life has a way of working itself out, albeit unexpectedly. God still knows how to make the most difficult of our stories redemptive.

Letters to Me is available on Amazon in paperback and for your Kindle.

What some folks are saying about this book:

There is something maddeningly compelling about this book. You want to leap into its pages and shake some sense into the characters just like you’re reading a page-turning novel, except that it’s real life and if you could somehow grab them by their shoulders, you would realize you were staring yourself in the face. The talent of these storytellers is revealed in how universal their personal stories are. In their stories you will experience agony and joy, pain and healing, fall and redemption. –Adam S. McHugh, author Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

This is so needed. I’ve often wished I could go back and have a strong talking to with my younger, more idiotic self. These stories are funny, heartfelt, and important. Reading them will make you think and imagine a better life — maybe even give you the courage to live one. —Jeff Goins, author, Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life

One of the most unnerving, unsettling things one can do in life is stare at themselves in the mirror – eye to eye. Letters To Me is the sacred chance to witness person after person pause their present as they stand naked in the mirror, facing everything they’ve been and everything they’ve done. To listen to what they hear in their souls, to see their past as they truly do. Oh, how I wish I’d been given this collection of stories earlier in my life. The entrance into adulthood would have been painted with so much more grace. –Lauren Lankford Dubinsky, founder of Good Women Project


Wide-Open Poetry

“I love your wide-open poetry” is what the great poet Pablo Neruda once told Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ferlinghetti, who believed Neruda to be speaking of a broader group of poets, those of the Beat Generation, responded with “You opened the door.”

How have the words of another opened the door for you?

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Follow this link for sweet fun: wordcandy.me.

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Music History and an Angry Sonnet

My family moved out of state and I started eighth grade in a school without an orchestra. I joined the city’s adult symphony instead, sitting second of two chairs. I took private lessons from a man who looked to be a cross between Professor Snape and Harry Potter. None of the girls in my class wanted to take lessons from him. With his large round glasses and long, greasy black hair, the spindly music instructor frightened me only slightly less than his brutish, muscular wife who always answered the door red-faced and angry. “I am here to play viola,” I said.

I’m finishing up our book club discussion of Ordinary Genius over at Tweetspeak Poetry this week, telling my musical history and writing a sonnet. I’m told that my sonnets (I’ve two to my name) tend to sound a little angry. Maybe it had to do with my viola teacher’s angry wife, I don’t know. You could check it out if you’d like.

And while you’re there, I’ve got a brand new slate of our weekly Top Ten Poetic Picks–great finds in art, poetry, music and writing. My favorite this week? The Halloween costumes based on famous works of art. You’ll want to see them. Trust me on this.


Giving Yourself Away: A Story of Friendship

This is not the type of writing  I normally do here. But this was a story I thought needed to be told, and asked my friends Kathy and Mary to sit down with me a month or so ago and tell it. A modified version of this article appears in this week’s Grant County Review.

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Kathy Madsen knows how to celebrate a birthday.

On her birthday next week, Kathy will tie a bright red ribbon around her name and throw it into a five-state pool to match up with someone who needs a kidney.

That’s some party favor, let me tell you.

Last spring, Kathy was on her back porch in her pajamas drinking coffee when her friend Vangie called. Vern and Vangie Heupel’s daughter Mary, living in Sioux Falls, had just been released from the hospital after and ICU stay due to kidney failure.

Kathy reassured her friend that she would do everything she could, thinking that she might drop off a box of chocolates or offer to mow the lawn. But before she knew what she was saying, she heard herself tell Vangie, “I’ll test for you. If I can give Mary a kidney, I want to give.”

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