Friday, March 19, 2010

‘Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places’ by Leeana Tankersley – Book Review

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Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places,’ Leeana Tankersley’s first book, is a memoir of the year she lived in Bahrain with her Navy SEAL husband Steve as he was deployed over there during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  She highlights her transition into being a married woman (they were married while he was on furlough; she came back with him when his furlough ended), as well as her adjustment to a foreign land.

Leeana’s education is in the Fine Arts (in English), and she creates an interesting collage in this wonderful book.  Among the materials that she incorporates into her story are a handwritten note from Kuwait, a braid of fringe from a Persian rug, an original poem, a swatch of black silk from a borrow abaya and a Navy SEAL trident.

She paints an interesting tapestry with her elegant use of words:

“My life is wildly all over the place, a collection of all kinds of strange raw material that often make little sense to me at the moment.  The war grieves me.  Financial woes keep me up at night.  Shame haunts me.  Fear keeps me company pretty much around the clock.  But what if God were taking all of my life – the glorious and the gutless, the griefs and the gains – and piecing each bit together like a collage so that when finished, something extraordinary would emerge?” (p. 12)

Leeana made an insight about herself when she arrived in Bahrain:

“When I arrived in the Middle East, I realized I was looking at a half-me, a fragmented soul walking around town.  I had given away pieces of myself, convinced the giving had all been for good causes.  During this journey, I discovered it was high time I felt the losses, collected the pieces, and reclaimed myself. 
That’s the thing about these journeys into foreign places.   They have a way of making us different if we will let them.  We can resist the beauty that is waiting for us, but if we will enter the frightening place – if we will engage ourselves in the context of this new culture – we will see that there was no shortage of confrontation.” (p. 13)

I also was grateful to see that the Lord brought Leeana back to Himself in the midst of an Islamic culture.  In the middle of all of that worship which is (in my opinion) misdirected, God reached Leeana right where she was.  Here Leeana describes how she was inspired by Fatima, a tour guide at the Grand Mosque in Bahrain:

“I wanted to care about my faith the way she cared about hers.  I wanted to love Jesus, no matter what it cost me.  I wanted to cry because I was so moved by how his death has given me life.  I wanted to pore over the Bible the way she poured over the Qur’an.” (p. 131)

She explains what God did for her there:

“He had replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh.  He had given me a new name.  He had called me his own.  He had given me a new name.  He had called me his own.  He had given me rest.  He had sent his Son.  He had come – in the Gulf and the call to prayer and the souq and Capital Centre and Starview and the meat market – he had come.” (p. 136)

I was intrigued by the concept of the book, but honestly wasn’t sure how I would really like it.  I was somehow under the impression that Leeana was a Fine Arts major (in Art, not English).  I am less creative, more left-brained than most artistic type people.  So I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to relate to Leeana’s style.  Although I am not necessarily the artistic type (lately, I have been allowing that side of my personality to exert itself), I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I found her writing to be very creative and artistic – she’s very talented! 

She currently lives in Coronado, California with Steve and their twins, Luke and Lane, who were born when they returned back to the United States.

You can order the book here.

This book was provided to me by Zondervan Publishers via the Blog Tour Spot.


leeana said...

Thank you so much for participating in the tour, Andrea! I really appreciate your reflections on Found Art.

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Leeana -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting; that's sweet of you!

It was my pleasure to participate, and I appreciate you sharing your story!

Blessings -


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