Author Tsh Oxenreider talks about her journey to enjoying Lent
By Avery Ballmann | Personal editor
Author Tsh Oxenreider recently wrote a devotional book “Bitter & Sweet: A Journey Into Easter” to help guide experienced Lenten participants and those just starting out. Oxenreider will discuss his new book through an interview and signing at 7 p.m. Thursday at Fabulous bookstore and cafe.
Like the season of Lent begins, Christians around the world are debating what foods, apps, habits, or items they should give up for the 40-day fast. Some Christians have never participated in Lent as it is assumed that only Catholics practice this event.
Oxenreider held this same belief until she began studying the liturgical calendar while living in Turkey in 2006, and discovered that Lent is one of the oldest practices in the church.
The name “Bitter & Sweet” is no coincidence, Oxenreider said. She specifically chose this title to relate to the meaning of Easter.
“There is a certain bitterness that comes from the idea of living in a finite world that is full of things that entangle us and are frustrating, right down to the goodness of Easter where we remember that this life is not whatever there is,” Oxenreider said.
The big spoiler alert for Lent is that no one will do it perfectly, because humans are naturally imperfect. Oxenreider said she acknowledges this struggle by stating five questions in her book that help the reader decide what to let go of.
The questions were formulated during Oxenreider’s personal experience of Lent. They include what you have been too dependent on, what appetite has a unique hold on your body and soul, what would be truly difficult, what would be truly liberating to leave behind, and where you feel God is leading you.
“We are fasting to make room for something better,” Oxenreider said. “It’s a way to hear God more clearly.”
Oxenreider said she’s narrowed down what she’ll be giving up for Lent, but hasn’t fully decided yet. It won’t be sitting around while she writes or just a 20-piece wardrobe down to shoes.
Friend of Oxenreider and confirmation sponsor Haley Stewart will lead the interview at Fabled. They will answer questions from the public about the book, the liturgical calendar and general questions about Lent.
“I’m so excited about her new book, about the Lenten season, and thrilled to join her for this event,” Stewart said. “I know his wisdom about this holy season [is] designed to bring us closer to Jesus and prepare us to celebrate the Resurrection will touch so many people.
Stewart is an author and currently works as an editor for Word on Fire Spark, publishing books specifically for young readers.
Oxenreider and Stewart started as online friends and grew into a personal friendship. In 2019, Fabled hosted Oxenreider and Stewart for Oxenreider’s book “Shadow & Light: A Journey Into Advent”.
“I’m such a big fan of small, independent bookstores,” Oxenreider said. “They are our beacons of literacy in our ever-digitalized world.”
Fabled is an independent bookstore co-owned by Alison Frenzel. Organizing events such as Oxenredier’s, Frenzel said, is important so that we can “promote books that are of interest to the community.”
“This book signing will be the second we’ve hosted for Tsh, as she’s a beloved author in the Waco community,” Frenzel said. “Hosting authors for book signings at Fabled aligns with our store’s value of inviting engaging conversations and celebrating the transformative impact of books.”
Since Waco is home to Baylor, some of their books are aimed at the Christian population. “Bitter & Sweet” is Oxenreider’s fifth published book, but she is now working on fiction.
“There’s no way to separate your regular life from faith because your faith shapes your view of the world, what you find beautiful, and what your definition of good is,” Oxenreider said. “There’s no way to draw a clear line, so for me it’s infused into everything I do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we talk about religion all the time.”
Oxenreider writes on several different platforms, such as its weekly newsletter and books. She also tells stories on her weekly podcast, “A Drink with a Friend.” Oxenreider’s event is free and open to the public.
“At the heart of it all, I’m story-driven,” Oxenreider said. “The idea that God guides us through life through a great story and that’s really what we all aspire to.”