Those closest to me know I am not much of a book reader.  Although it is something I’ve always wished to be.  Well, a book reader AND a writer.  One of those knowledge hungry girls who can get lost in a 600 page novel  and articulate her thoughts on paper with clarity and ease.  Unfortunately that never came naturally for me.  When reading, my imagination would get the best of me and I would have to re-read each page a few times before getting back on track.  When writing, instead of writing words I often ended up with pictures.  I suppose I can thank God we were all created differently, each with our own unique gifts and talents. (right!?)

Leeana Tankersley is one of those women I wish I was a little more like : smart, funny, thoughtful, reflective, and inspiring.  I was honored when she asked me to read and review her first published book titled “Found Art”.  Given my track record with books, I was a bit nervous in taking on the challenge and felt somewhat “under qualified”.  But I pushed aside my insecurities knowing there was something good to be learned here.  Totally unfamiliar with what the book was about, I instantly assumed it was about art (given it’s title).  And by art I mean the kind of art I know about – paintings, drawings, sculptures, ect.  But come to find out, it was really about a different kind of art altogether.  The art God is busy creating from the scraps and the cast-offs of our own lives.  Any one of these scraps might be a discarded item, but collaged together, they become something entirely different. Art emerges from the carefully collaged odds and ends. God takes the unlikely moments of our lives and pieces them together into something of beauty and worth.

Found Art is a memoir of Leeana’s experiences as the wife of a Navy SEAL, living in the middle east for her first year as a military wife during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Leaving everything she knew, she embarked on a journey of self discovery and renewed faith in a place very VERY far from home.  Although her story is very different from my own, I found much of what she wrote about to be very relatable. She talks about her frustration with the perfectionism of our culture,  dealing with change, the pains of war and death, and finding true passion in God. Her emotions are raw and genuine, and her story will encourage anyone who finds themselves in difficult and unfamiliar situations.  In the beginning pages of the book Leeana writes “While the story is literal, it is also figurative. As you may well know, foreign territory doesn’t only exist ten thousand miles away; we can find ourselves in unknown countries without going anywhere.” Isn’t that the truth!?

Beauty often emerges from our areas of greatest weakness and pain.  One quote that rang true for me was “Pain, like no other place perhaps, is where our art is born, where our stories are written, our canvases brushed, our scores composed.  Though we so often want to deny the discomfort, suffering is one of the few things that can lead us to the place where we find the God we so desperately longs for”.  I have goosebumps even writing it.  It is easy to fall victim to pain.  But God gives us the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to rise up and become a stronger person because of it.

Thank you Leeana for being so raw in sharing your story and reminding me that although my life may not be perfect, God is molding and shaping it into something beautiful.  We all have a story to tell.

You can read through a few of the pages of FOUND ART HERE

And also her blog post a few months ago on me and my art – “Creating”


  1. Joanna

    Wow Kelli- this is really good to hear. Thanks for the inspiring words. Its good to know that through our weakness beauty shines through. I too have a hard time getting through books- but now I really want to read this one!


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