A great way to start the new year off is with a good book! I had the opportunity to read “Crossing the Waters,” and post a review on the Alaska Christian Women’s Ministry website this month. This week we get to hear from Leslie herself about the book and the behind the scenes life of being a Mom, a Christian writer/editor and commercial fisherwoman!
1.Tell me briefly about yourself.
Here’s my rundown: I have 6 kids, a daughter and 5 sons, from ages 28 down to 14! I’ve been married longer than I want to tell you all—because I still want you to think I’m young. I don’t want my last two teenage boys to hear a rumor that their mother isn’t so young anymore! I’m living my own dream—I’m working full time as a writer, teacher and editor. In my spare time, I love to hike and kayak.
2.You have been involved in commercial fishing for four decades. That life experience has given you insight into scripture stories many of us couldn’t have seen without your guiding words. How did this book idea come about? Did it brew inside your head for years? Or did it just hit you one day that it needed to be written?
I did indeed brew and stew over this for some time, years actually, before I committed to writing it. I looked at my own life on the water, around nets, boats and fisherman—-and knew there were so many parallels to Jesus’ first disciples. Most people don’t realize that as many as 6 of the disciples, half, were fishermen! I knew, too, that in our urban American culture most people don’t relate to the disciples. I wanted to open all of that up, so we could understand what it was like for the disciples to follow Jesus. And their experience—which was so strange, weird and incredible!!—sheds so much light on our own following of Jesus today.
3. You spent time at the Sea of Galilee in preparation for this book. How did being in the place where Jesus and his disciples spent so much time affect your perspective on the scriptural texts that take place on and around the sea?
You know, here’s what struck me most—how utterly ordinary that place that Jesus chose. I had been there three times before over the years, but this time, hiking the trail around the Sea and going out with commercial fisherman really engaged me in a deeper way. And I saw—the mud on my boots there was like the mud on my boots here. I wasn’t blown away by the beauty there. It’s really quite ordinary looking. It struck me how from the beginning God chose the ordinary, the weak, the foolish, (the fishermen!) to display his own magnificence and power.
4. One of my favorite quotes from your book is “I have found over the years that the gospel does not always simplify my life or the lives of any of his followers. If we are listening well, it rends us first. It shatters us. This new life with the Holy Spirit pummels my heart as much as it soothes it.” You share some examples of this in the book, but can you give an example here for the readers?
When we hear about people suffering, whether it’s our neighbor or Christians overseas fleeing for their lives, because we ARE the body of Christ, connected and jointed together, when one suffers, we all suffer. This is the weight we bear as Christians, that we cannot turn away. But it also means in our times of need, we are surrounded by brothers and sisters lifting us up. We are rent, shattered and healed together. We live a thousand lives instead of just one. There is no better way to live.
5. What is your favorite part of the Alaskan fishing life?
Living out in the lap of creation, surrounded by whales, sea lions, sea otters, deer and the ocean, which beats on our island like God’s own heart.
6. Least favorite?
When the waters are stormy and the nets are full of kelp, which means hours and hours of nausea in a pitching skiff bent over picking out every piece of kelp. Yuck. Hate it. AND—the last few weeks of the summer, when everyone’s eyes are glazed from constant work, and everyone is ready to leave.
7. When your reader finishes the last page of this book, what is one thing you hope sticks in their mind?
That Jesus is calling you to this incredible life of following after him, living like him. And if you think you can’t do it, that you’re too weak, too imperfect, listen. Your love is enough. Your tiny limited human love is enough to accomplish all that God asks of you. Peter’s love was enough. This is Peter, who abandoned his dearest Jesus in his greatest hour of need! But his small human love for Jesus was enough for God to establish his church on earth. Your love is enough for Jesus to do mighty things through you. Go, follow Him! Do not be afraid!
She lives on Kodiak Island, AK and writes for Christianity Today , CT Women, In Touch magazine and various other publications.
She has taught undergraduate and graduate programs throughout the last 25 years, as an adjunct, as a professor, and then as a founding member of Seattle Pacific University’s Master of Fine Arts program.
She is founder of the Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop, bringing well-known writers (Phillip Yancey, Luci Shaw, Ann Voskamp, Bret Lott, Jeanne Murray Walker, Gina Ochsner ) to co-teach in the art, craft and faith of Writing.
Between speaking and writing, she runs a professional writing business, The Northern Pen, performing manuscript critique, mentoring and editing in all stages of creative, professional, and academic writing.
Founder: Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop
“Crossing the Waters” is Lelsie’s 10th published book and Winner of Christianity Today‘s 2017 Book Award in Christian Living/Discipleship
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