Meet “Alter Girl”

Andrea at LifewayI’m so pleased to have friend and author Andrea Syverson as a guest blogger on my site today! Enjoy this article first published by Group Publishing, Inc. If you haven’t read Andrea’s book yet, I think you’d love it. Or if you know someone who could benefit from her spiritual journey, feel free to share this.

A couple years ago, Marie Kondo captivated me with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Filled with adventure, decluttering, and searches for what “sparks joy,” her message of simplifying resonated with me, though not for the reason you might think. Like her many readers, I’d gone through my own adventure of simplifying…only I hadn’t simplified my home or my schedule. I’d simplified my faith. The process so profoundly altered me that I wrote about my journey in Alter Girl: Walking Away From Religion Into the Heart of Faith.

I actually didn’t realize at first that my faith needed simplifying. My East Coast Catholic upbringing was a strong and good one. Throughout the years, I wore several colors of plaid uniforms, went to Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation, prayed the rosary, novenas and Stations of the Cross. I was happily devout and loved mingling with other like-minded happily devout Catholics.

Alter Girl Endorsement PhotoIn fact, I was so busy being religious, I forgot why I did all those things to begin with. It wasn’t until I moved out West and started dating a nondenominational Protestant that I gave it serious thought. Early in our relationship, Dean would ask me simple questions like, “Why do you do that?” I was challenged and rather offended. I’d never fielded questions like that, and my answers ranged from “because” to “that’s our tradition” to an exasperated “I don’t know!” After 18+ years of being a nearly straight-A Catholic student, I seemed to be failing the test.

Perhaps I did need to reexamine my practices. Perhaps in Marie Kondo-style I needed to take out all my religious stuff and review “what truly sparks joy?” What habits were I doing just because, and which ones genuinely touched my heart? Aided by these questions, I reevaluated and decluttered all the religious frippery until eventually my faith became simple, straightforward and personal. It all came down to a deep abiding friendship with Jesus. He is the Main Thing.Andrea and Me at Book Party

In Alter Girl, I share the full, messy details of this decluttering process in hopes of inviting others to do the same. If your faith has evolved from the traditions of your childhood, or if you’ve experienced a time of spiritual questioning, you’ll relate to my journey of undoing and redoing.

And if you’re reading this right now and the idea of simplifying your faith touches a chord, I encourage you to engage in a little decluttering yourself. Seek the practices that truly touch your heart and pull you into a deeper friendship with Jesus. Then freely release all the rest.

andrea-heart-pic-65x65Andrea Syverson grew up a happily devout Catholic. After decades of plaid uniforms and even earning an MBA from a Catholic university, her life took an unexpected turn when she fell in love with a Protestant. You can read about her surprising spiritual journey in her Alter Girl: Walking Away From Religion Into the Heart of Faith.


  1. Good thoughts !

  2. Wendy Pyatt says:

    Andrea’s book is thought provoking and heart enlightening. I can relate to her early journey through Catholicism and into a Protestant faith. And I can feel every emotion all over again reading this book that ends with hanging up religion to claim a personal relationship with Jesus. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  3. Loved reading about her journey into a different faith and faith lifestyle. Written in a way that allows her readers to feel like they know her personally along the way.

  4. Phyllis Meyer says:

    The true love of God and spirituality has no hard core rules and rituals. Loving one another of all faiths and color without religious boundaries is the beginning of peace on earth!
    A book well written from the heart of a beautiful person inside and out!

  5. Thanks for reintroducing this wonderful book, Nancy! During the Winter season of decluttering, Alter Girl is especially a great read. Asking the hard questions about faith is good practice now so we can claim what works/has meaning/fulfills us and let go of what isn’t serving us and others. This is one of those books that deserves a reread because the author’s candid journey of faith is shared by so many of us.

    • You are so right, Renee! Been in the decluttering mood myself lately. We downsized 3 1/2 years ago and I got rid of SO much clutter, but guess what? It’s never one and done! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. I too, followed Marie Kondo to the closet and pitched all that no longer gave me joy!
    I continue to do likewise with my faith, and the journey is one of joyous freedom!
    Thanks, Nancy, for your always timely, tender and practical posts.

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