I grew up in a large, lively missionary family in Colombia–a beautiful, complicated place. In recent years I’ve periodically had the privilege of providing accompaniment and advocacy to Colombian peace communities and human rights defenders. Naturally these experiences, and some of the many stories I’ve been told by Colombian friends, make their way into what I write.
I’m a visual artist too, working mostly in chalk pastels and mosaic. My author/illustrator debut is Picturing God, a book inviting children and parents to meditate on some of the biblical God-metaphors; it was released by Beaming Books in September 2019.
My 2017 children’s picture book, Adriana’s Angels / Los ángeles de Adriana (published separately in English and Spanish; Sparkhouse Family), has a Colombian child protagonist whose family must flee danger. And then her new life in Chicago has its troubles too. Through it all, her brilliant guardian angels keep attentive watch and help her know she’s held firmly in God’s love.
Isaiah and the Worry Pack, in which a mother helps her son deal with nighttime anxiety through a quiet guided imagery, releases from the new imprint IVP Kids in November 2021. And several other children’s books are in the works!
Taking a phrase from “Las caras lindas de mi gente negra,” a song celebrating Afro-Latinx beauty, as part of its title, Caras lindas de Colombia / Beautiful Faces of Colombia was released in June 2018. I provided most of the text to accompany gorgeous, lush photos of Afro-Colombian people and communities by the distinguished photographer Michael Bracey. We self-published this book, which was beautifully designed by Cindy Grimes Kiple, and its presence in the world makes me deeply happy.
I’ve published two collections of poetry, Soap Is Political (Glass Lyre; these poems are rooted in Colombia) and Yellow Doors (WordFarm); several scripture study guides, including Singleness (InterVarsity Press–now in its 11th printing!) and Heart Renewal (WaterBrook); and the booklet Date Rape (InterVarsity Press).
I’ve recently retired from fourteen years as a senior manuscript editor at the University of Chicago Press and a number of years as an instructor in the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies’ editing certificate program. It’s high time to focus on writing, artmaking, and other forms of mischief!
You can get a copy of any of the books described above, plus a few others, by clicking on the Books tab on the upper right. Or consider booking me for a Talkabook virtual home visit to read and talk about one of my books with your child(ren). We can even make art together!
Writings and interviews available online
“Picture Books for the Kin-dom of God,” post on Mennonite Church USA’s Faith Formation blog
Excerpt from “America, if,” originally published in Iron Horse Literary Review