Sample Articles

Following are a few of my favorite articles I hope you'll find interesting. To read them, scroll down to the list or click here. If you feel you didn't get everything, click your "reload" or "refresh" button.

Samples of Published Work by Kimn Swenson Gollnick

"Stop the insanity of recounting ballots"

Why We Need Each Other

Shades of Self Esteem

Improve Your Work Space

Why We Need Each Other

© 1998-2004 Kimn Swenson Gollnick

This devotional won First Place in the second annual national writing competition
sponsored by Sowing Seeds Ministry

HEADED FOR HOME, it was my turn to drive the last day of our family vacation. We dallied a bit too long during our stop at the Gingko Petrified State Park along I-90. Night descended as we piled into our minivan and started the long climb into Washington state's Cascade mountains, a three-hour drive still ahead of us. I smiled when I noticed my husband's head bobbing next to me as he drifted to sleep. The kids had already zoned out.

Alone with my thoughts, I reflected on our recent switch to a new church. The process was painful and reminded me of other loved ones' experiences with other churches. I loved the Lord deeply, but I struggled to grasp the value of organized church bodies at all.

My attention shifted as we neared the summit. I noticed the rough landscape around us. Jagged peaks rose in black silhouette against the navy blue sky dotted with stars, but the moon was absent. Dark clouds billowed across the left side of the cliffs, surrounding the peaks. I wondered if they signaled a coming storm, and prayed we'd reach the other side before it hit.

Inky darkness swallowed the unfamiliar road in front of me. I began to wish the Department of Transportation had seen fit to install street lights along I-90. Unnerved, I slowed from the posted 70mph limit to a ridiculous 55mph. Beyond my headlights, I had no idea if we'd be going up or down, to the left or right. Not only were there no street lights to illumine unseen corners, but there were no glow-in-the-dark road dividers to help either. My uncertainty grew, giving fear a foothold as I imagined various accident scenarios.

A GROUP OF CARS APPROACHED from behind. I let them pass, wondering how they could drive at what seemed an excessive speed for the road. Not until their tail lights disappeared did I realize my mistake. Their combined headlights had helped illuminate the lanes. Ahead of me, their tail lights had made it possible to see which way the road curved and dipped.

And I had let them get away.

Aware of my sleeping family and their trust that we'd get home safely, I asked the Lord to bring another group of cars along so I wouldn't have to drive alone. Soon another group caught up, and I positioned our minivan behind a friendly-looking truck. I tagged him my "driving buddy," keeping pace with him and the pack, up over the pass and down the mountain together. The group had a rhythm--cautious where needed on sloping roadway, yet picking up speed on safe stretches so we could all reach our destinations in timely fashion.

AS I DROVE, THE HOLY SPIRIT whispered how this experience mirrors why I need other Christians around me. For years I thought my private life with God was all that mattered, even while working through our problems with the other church. Certainly, a deep personal relationship with God is essential, but I'd failed to fully recognize God's plan for me as part of His earthly church.

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend address this misconception in their book, False Assumptions:

God designed us to need each other in humility.... When we think we do not need what other Christians have to offer us emotionally and spiritually, the body of Christ stops functioning as it should: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!'" (1 Cor. 12:21).

Sure, us Lone Ranger Christians may be following the right path, but we'll find the way is hard and the going slow without the help and support of other believers. If we commit to a God-fearing church where members practice a sincere and authentic faith, we will find our way through life's storms more easily. And we can draw courage from the light of our Christian brothers and sisters around us on our journey toward righteousness. We're also less apt to make a wrong turn.

God's word tells us to "carry each other's burdens (Gal. 6:2)" and to "not give up meeting together (Heb. 10:25)." Additionally, we need each other for growth and maturity, "as iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17)."

Reaching the other side of the Cascade Mountains, I mentally waved a greeting of thanks to my driving buddy. I slipped past him into another lane heading north toward home, reflecting on the lesson I just learned. After this experience, going to church took on a deeper significance. With newfound joy, I knew next Sunday was going to be extra special.

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Shades of Self Esteem

© 1994-2004 Kimn Swenson Gollnick

This true story first appeared in "Manic Moms Newsletter," June/July 1995

LIKE A HELIUM BALLOON that's lost itís lift, my self image dropped during major life changes of pregnancy, childbirth, and staying home to raise young children. My body changed. My emotions ran from ecstatic to depressed and back again. My wardrobe evolved from suits and dresses to polyester-cotton knits, for comfort and spit-up.

But thatís not all. My battered self-esteem suffered another sucker punch when a fluke of family genetics caused my naturally Scandinavian-blond hair to darken.

I couldnít believe it. It happened during my first pregnancy, at the age of 28. By 30 the transformation was complete. My hair wasnít blond, but it wasnít brown, either. I struggled with my identity, which for all of my adult life to that point had been, well, as a blonde. But what was I now?

I even had to get a new driverís license (I got tired of the strange looks by store clerks because I no longer looked like my photo I.D.). When I joked about it to my still-blonde sisters, I discovered that they had been lightening their hair for years. I began to look suspiciously at every woman with light hair. I struggled with the L word. Should I lighten my hair?

Being an individualist--yet suffering from an identity crisis--I rebelled. I had it dyed dark brown. I didnít anticipate my toddlerís reaction. When he saw me, he waved his arms upward and implored in his sweet baby voice, "Take off dat hat, Mommy!"

BY EVENING, I WANTED IT OFF, TOO. The change was too great for my minuscule self-esteem to handle. But not wanting to over-process my previously virgin hair, I simply avoided mirrors for the next six months. I decided to treat this like an experiment.

It paid off. As a brunette, I didnít attract attention or compliments, but people thought I was smart. Actually, I am smart, but now I was getting credit for it.

TODAY MY HAIR IS BACK TO its natural state, a sort of auburn color, pretty enough to prompt strangers to ask, "What color do you call that?" At least, I trust they think itís pretty. Actually, it wasnít a they, it was one man, and he came to my house to spray bugs. The chemicals could have affected his eyesight, but I canít deny I felt flattered, even if he was only an expert in pesticides.

And I discovered that the conflict of my identity was not mine alone. While grocery shopping with my golden-haired toddler, he pointed to a cartoon woman on the back of a cereal box and asked, "Is that Mommy?"

She had brown hair. Worse, she looked like the plain icon of a stereotypical housewife. Augh! Did my little boy think I looked like that?

RIGHT THEN, I DECIDED I should not depend on what others think of me--particularly two-year-olds looking at cereal boxes. After all, the Bible says we are made in the image of God. What could be better? So I revel in my childrenís smiles and enjoy the time I spend with them and my husband. Love, family, friends and God; that is whatís important.

A few weeks later my new-found self-esteem got a surprise boost. Near the checkout stand at the grocery store my son saw a glamorous woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan, sexy and blonde. He asked, "Is that you, Mommy?"

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Improve Your Work Space

© 1995-2004 Kimn Swenson Gollnick

First appeared in The Christian Author, May/June 1995

When you finally find time to sit down and write, do you feel frustrated because your work space isn't big enough, or papers tangle around your feet? Well, that was me, but like many, I felt constrained by finances and thought I couldn't do anything about my predicament. However, I finally hit on several solutions that allow me to be productive and less distracted when I sit down for those precious blocks of writing time. Following are several ideas that helped me.

While looking at your work area, ask yourself three questions: "What do I need to work comfortably?" and "What are my interruptions, and how can I eliminate them?"

Beyond the obvious like my computer, I need these items nearby: a pencil holder, my project notebook, a writer's market guide, and publisher's guidelines in a notebook. I keep these items on a new shelf within reach of my computer. I find I also need a box of tissues nearby and a coaster for that hot cup of tea while I'm working. I have a wall clock to keep track of time and a clip-on fan for those warm afternoons.

My distractions include my two children, but I can't exactly eliminate them, so I got smart. When they were small, I invested in good quality Christian videos for those mornings marked by a project deadline that absolutely couldn't wait. I also found I interrupted my work to retrieve incidentals like sticky note pads, white correction fluid, staple remover, self-inking address stamp, mailing labels, and postage. These I now keep in a small drawer to the left of my computer. I also keep a back-up disk or flash drive handy every time I work. (Extra disks and CDs sit on a shelf over the printer, out of the way). Reference books are within arm's reach to the right of my work area in a tall bookcase. Everything else is stored on shelves or in a supply cabinet in the closet.

In other words, if you don't need an item regularly, don't let it clutter your work space. On the other hand, if you find you retrieve certain items regularly (and you feel inconvenienced or interrupted to get them), then move those things closer \ to your seat.

If you donít need it regularly

donít let it clutter your work space.

And please don't be afraid to use unconventional solutions. I pushed an old chest of drawers into my office closet and now store bulk items there, such as stationary, envelopes, cardboard, giftwrap, and the rest of my office supplies.

How about more counter space? My husband and I were not using our small spare bedroom efficiently. Our two computers teetered on small desks, leaving no surface on which to work. Our printers ended up on the floor. Papers and books grew ever higher in piles around our feet, reaching to our knees.

Taking drastic measures, I removed everything and designed an L-shaped countertop mounted on a two-by-four attached to studs on two adjoining walls. Custom countertops were too expensive, so I found 8' x 4' sheets of white laminate particle board at a local hardware store for a fraction of the cost. I asked the employees to cut the sheet into two 30"-wide strips. (The tricky part after getting them home was cutting a 45-degree angle for the corner without a table saw!) Two-by-fours along the front edge strengthened the underside, while metal brackets under the corner seam held it together. Caulking made the top seam virtually invisible, and matching trim along the front edges gave it a custom look. The next day, we had fourteen feet of counterspace (seven feet each), with our own stacked cubes and set of drawers (from Target) supporting each end of the counter.

On the remaining walls, I arranged our three bookcases and one vertical file cabinet. I also installed shelves on either side of the window for all the books and software manuals. Most critically, what didn't fit, I got rid of it. It felt wonderful to get everything off the floor and into its own "home!" Now our office, although still small, is a dream come true.

But you don't have to go the lengths I did to experience the benefits of being organized. Start small...decide what YOU need near your work area, or what you need to make your time flow more smoothly when you're working-and get it. Follow the old adage, "a place for everything and everything in its place." Get rid of the excess. And then, store all the rest on shelves, in a closet, in a cabinet, or in a chest of drawers Remember, make your space convenient for YOU.

Now, letís get organized!

Kimn Swenson Gollnick was the collaborative writer of Getting Your Financial House in Order: A Floorplan for Managing Your Money with David and Debbie Bragonier (published by Broadman & Holman, 2003).

How I Use Notebooks to Get Organized:

SUBMISSIONS NOTEBOOK - First page: chronological list of all submissions (date, what was sent, such as "Short Story" or "Filler" or "Book Proposal," and to whom sent), followed by a complete copy of each item with a copy of the cover letter attached. File folders for each project also work well. Choose a method that works for you and be consistent.

PUBLISHERíS GUIDELINES NOTEBOOK - using A to Z tabs. Alphabetical, but could also be divided by topic ("books," "womenís magazines," "childrenís," etc.).

WRITERíS GROUPS - newsletters, membership directories.

MISCELLANEOUS - conferences, WD Book Club bulletins, library information, meeting notes.

INTERNET - critique group member submissions, conference chats I want to save, and favorite tips.

CONTESTS - for my column in The Christian Author.

I also use notebooks to store my magazines (but you could easily use cardboard magazine boxes) for Writerís Digest, ByLine Magazine, and The Christian Communicator. Use plastic magazine holders found in direct mail catalogs like Lillian Vernon or Miles Kimball.

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© 1998-2006 by Kimn Swenson Gollnick. All rights reserved.

"The above articles were written by an author who earns her living writing. Copying, retransmission, or unauthorized reuse of this work not only violates federal copyright law, punishable by civil and criminal sanctions, but is also theft and harms this author's livelihood. Please don't do it."

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Updated April 20, 2004

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