• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Author overcomes dyslexia to write devotional

Nicole Stromberg overcame much to write her devotional, "Alexandria's Light": from first-time writing jitters to a busy schedule as hairstylist, wife and mother of two teens. Perhaps the biggest challenge she faced when penning the paperback devotional for Christian women, "Alexandria's Light," was one that would seem to preclude such a feat. "I'm dyslexic. Reading is not my first love. As a matter of fact, I don't even like to read. I do it because we have to. But now, I find it a hobby instead of something that I have to do," Stromberg said. "Because of my dyslexia, reading and comprehension were very hard for me. Even some of the simpler things were harder." Stromberg, a 1992 Woodford County High School graduate, said through much of life, dyslexia left her feeling a little less smart than her peers, or in her words, "Always a step under at school." She knew she was intelligent, but had trouble believing encouraging words from friends and family members. "Because I think, 'Oh, people are just saying that to be nice.' That's what adults do to help children, help youth. But now that I am the adult, it's kind of like, 'OK, you're going to make it up in your head that you really are smart, or you're just going to stay back,'" Stromberg said. Working on her book from July of 2012 to May of 2015, she gained a better feel for how, as she put it, "my words dance in my head a bit, and how I do need to slow down." The book began as something quite different: advice to her clients and others about to get their hair done about what to wear when they walk in (no hoodies or thick sweaters, for instance). Stromberg said her editor, Charliese Brown Lewis of Versailles, thought the work draft read like a college paper. She agreed and started again, looking to her faith rather than her career. "I was doing a devotional and I read it and it was like, 'Okay, I do not remember a word I read.' And I was like, 'What can I do that would be different?' and then this was dropped in my spirit," Stromberg said. Willis Polk, another Versailles resident and the pastor of Imani Baptist Church in Lexington, suggested her devotional be organized by weeks, rather than days. Her father, Doug Smith, best known locally for his massive collection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights-related memorabilia, told Nicole she was on to something. Each weekly essay in "Alexandria's Light" (Stromberg's given name is Alexandria Nicole) poses five days worth of questions, and the book shares the same goal as other devotionals: To help people have a closer walk with Christ. One of her favorite chapters was inspired by the advice of her mother, Monica, who died in 2009, about the importance of wisdom and spending time around wise people. Another involves thinking of Jesus as a travel agent, and letting him guide you to heaven. Stromberg said while writing the book, she rededicated her life to Christ. "I don't want to burn. I don't want to smell sulphur - I know what that smells like here, just doing hair. I don't want to smell that," said with a laugh. The book came out the week of Thanksgiving. By then, writing a book designed to help other people had helped her, too. Her faith was stronger, she was soon to enroll at Asbury University, and she'd been blessed in other ways, too. "I'm a better reader - and it showed me I am smarter than what I give myself credit for." "Alexandria's Light" can be purchased on amazon.com or though Stromberg's website, www.alightministries.com.

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