Happy Tuesday, friends! Although I’ve not read Alexandra Kuykendall’s new book yet, everything she says is exactly what I need to hear. We’re living in a world where division seems to reign more than love …and, perhaps like you, I need the reminder that all I’m to do is simply love the people in front of me. End of story. Enjoy this interview with Alex on her new book, Loving My Actual Neighbor, and be sure to leave a copy at the end for your chance to win a copy!
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? I live right near downtown Denver with my husband and our four daughters. We are a sports family (believe me this is a shock still to me!). With girls full in on soccer and basketball. I spend much of my time driving to practices and games with my laptop within arm’s reach. I’ve essentially written four books in my car in hour-long stretches.
A few years ago my friend Krista Gilbert and I decided to bring a group of women together for a mastermind year. We didn’t know it, but we were starting a thing. The Open Door Sisterhood is now an annual mastermind year/retreat, a podcast, and a blog. It is a way for us to champion other women who are working for God’s purposes with their work.
My fourth book is releasing this month. Loving My Actual Neighbor: 7 Practices to Treasure the People Right in Front of You is my best effort to get us talking to each other again. The titling is familiar to my readers because I also have Loving My Actual Life and Loving My Actual Christmas. My first book, The Artist’s Daughter, was written when I was on staff with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. I worked there for a whole bunch of years creating content for moms of young kids and churches who wanted to serve them.
So essentially a bit about me is: Denver, books, podcast, and moms, all under the umbrella of faith.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? My book is about the “how” of loving the people right around us who aren’t our immediate BFFs. In a culture where we are becoming increasingly partisan, we are forgetting the basics of how to have conversations and relationships with people who think or live differently than we do.
The book is meant to be the starting place to move forward when we get stuck. We know we are supposed to “love our neighbors” but these practical and mental blocks get in the way. We don’t where to begin. There are seven practices laid out in the book that are both Scripture and life informed about how to begin. They are practices that can be implemented in any community, under any circumstances. They are neither complicated, nor easy, but I feel they are necessary if we want to do a good job of loving our neighbors.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? After the 2016 presidential election, I realized I had been living in my own echo chamber. At the same time my observations of others’ interactions and feelings around the election gave me an increased sense that people were missing each other. I knew that avoiding conversations, or people all together, was not God’s intent for humanity and I wanted to figure out how we can better communicate.
The more I looked at the macro situation, the more it pointed to the importance of the micro interaction. Our cultural tension can be broken down to a million daily moments. The better we do at these, the better our overall culture of communication will be.
As a Christian I believe we, the church, have a particular need to do a better job at loving our neighbors. Why? Because Jesus was very clear on this issue. We are to love others as well as we love ourselves. In fact he said along with loving God, this is our main job description while walking around this planet. This book was written with my fellow Christ-followers in mind, but the practices are tangible enough that anyone can carry them out regardless of faith system.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? My hope is there will be some practical ideas that feel approachable and doable to the person who doesn’t know where to begin with their “neighbor”. That people will have a stronger awareness of those they come in contact with daily (neighbors could be coworkers, fellow parents, or people who live right around us). That my stories and tips will make these practices feel approachable and as a result readers will be more willing to interact with neighbors they do not know well.
We must do better by each other. Things aren’t going so well these days in the listening and learning departments. My hope is the book will be a drop in the big bucket toward change of cherishing each other as the image-bearers we are.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book? It’s all about the noticing for me. When I slow down long enough to consider one of these seven practices, I begin to see it everywhere. The way people implement it across cultures, how it sparks connection, how God is clear about it, and how it changes me when I practice it. None of these practices are new ideas, but when we pay attention to them our perspectives change.
Loving my neighbors is something I always want to do better. Laying out the practices and really considering how I’ve seen others implement them has helped me remember their power and notice God already at work in so many small yet meaningful ways in my community.
How and where can we find you on the internet?
All the places: alexandrakuykendall.com
Well, there you go! If you need this book like I do, leave a comment both to encourage Alex and to win a copy of Loving My Actual Neighbor. And, as per the usual, head over to Instagram in a couple of days for another chance to win. Contest ends Friday, April 12th.
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