the shape of worship

The thing about being an artist is sometimes you’re the last one to know. I spent a lot of my life making art – copying down song lyrics, taking photos of things at odd angles, making up short stories in my head – but I never called it art. I just called it foolishness.

I’ve grown up as a good girl and it’s difficult to be the kind of good girl I was and also be an artist at the same time. Art means risk and risk means courage. I don’t think I was a coward, but I do think I lived life too small.

I’m talking more about this over at Emily Wierenga’s Canvas Child today – and at the end of my post, she has written words that made me cry, words that prove no matter our life experience or our unique story, there are things of the heart that bind all of us together. Here’s a taste:

“I didn’t think this book applied to me. As a pastor’s daughter, I’ve always tried hard to appear bad. Everyone assumed I was good and boxed this artist-soul in. I hate boxes. So I bust free with dreads, facial piercings, stretched ears and a tattoo.”

Visit Canvas Child to read the rest of this post and enter to win a free book. Because we’re doing that this week, giving away lots of free books.

for when you want to change your art

We talk a lot about finding your passion and doing your art. And I love it all. I love to see your eyes light up when you are finally honest about what you really want to do. And then, when you realize that’s what you were made to do? Shaped and formed by the Maker Himself? Oh, the blessed gift of it all!

But living the art doesn’t come out like riding on the back of a unicorn in gold-dipped shoes and galloping softly down a rainbow. It comes with grit. Exposure. Risk. Fear. Humility. And sometimes humiliation. Over the past two years, I have wished so many times that my passion was food. Oh, to write about tomato soup and eating around the table with family and making scones. I visit cooking blogs and make recipes and I feel safe and inspired. But those things don’t make me come alive from the inside out.

Shannan wrote a post yesterday about sitting around with new friends some years ago, answering light-hearted questions about favorite foods and pet peeves. Easy stuff. And then somebody asked what her biggest fear was and she quickly answered, “Being wrong.” Here’s what happened next:

“Everyone stopped talking, the game wasn’t fun anymore, and maybe the world stopped turning for a beat or two. I wanted to reach out and grab those two stupid words and stuff them right back in. I had spent my life being right. Admitting that I was afraid of being wrong was absolutely not right.

Why didn’t I just say “falling backwards off a steep cliff?” Why didn’t I say snakes? Speeding tickets? Slow drains? Camper toilets? … It’s funny how the truth takes new shape when it moves from your secret heart to the wide open air that you breathe. It becomes even bigger. It floats around and catches the light. It becomes a thing.”

Shannan, Flower Patch Farm Girl

It isn’t exactly parallel, but writing Grace for the Good Girl was one long why-didn’t-I-just-say-snakes experience. Why do I have to be passionate about something that is just so personal and exposing? Why do I feel compelled to splay my weaknesses in a book that is now sitting on bookstore shelves, bedside tables, car front seats, couch arms? Why can’t I just write about food? Animals? The weather?

I know the answer and I’m learning to receive it: talking about the grace of God makes me come alive. It’s deep and it’s serious and it’s sometimes heavy. It’s awkward to hold and it’s too long for an elevator pitch and it doesn’t look great in a tagline. It’s hard to market, difficult to summarize, cumbersome to share in the carpool line. But when I look into your eyes and I see you get it too, when we can talk about the secret things and the mystery of this hope of glory — it’s like someone turned on the music.

Have you ever wanted to change your art, to adopt some skill or gift that you think would be easier to live with? What makes it worth it?

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The blog hop/tour/visitation/review/giveaway fun continues this week with one of my favorite bloggers, Shannan at Flower Patch Farm Girl and one of my favorite authors, Mary DeMuth. They both are giving away copies of the book this week and would love to have you stop by! Check out the blog tour schedule under Grace for the Good Girl in the navigation bar to learn more.

the way of grace

For when you are tired of coming up with a plan, might you be willing to simply come? I’ve thought a lot lately about this space created for souls to breathe and the true meaning behind it. To chat at the sky is to recognize that we have a Creator who sees and cares and notices. He will not come undone. He remains un-overwhelmable. So what does it look like when grace and art and worship mingle together, sweet?  Here is a taste, however small.

It looks like the way of the light coming up from the bottom of an endless sea,

the way of her eyes, deep brown and dancing

the way of a sister who brings out the beauty

… and the way of a woman who knows she is loved.

“There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid.”

Proverbs 30:18-19

Would love to fill the comment box with the way of grace today. What are the things too wonderful for you, things which you do not understand — whimsy things that bring a little bit of awe and a whole lot of wonder? The way of …? 

a little help from my friends

Having a book floating around out there is an odd thing to say the very least about it. You know what a mess I’ve been over the past two years about this whole thing and I’m still trying to navigate it all. It is oddly a great relief to finally have her out among the people, that bird flying around free outside of her cage.

There have been lots of posts written by readers so far – if you are one of them, let me know and I’ll post your link on the tour page. In addition, a few of my blog friends have graciously agreed to join an eight day blog tour for the book and I want to be sure to tell you about it. I didn’t want you to miss the opportunity to win free books for either yourself or your good girl neighbor.

Holley Gerth @ Heart to Heart With Holley :: A dear friend and a story of permission. And also free books.

Kat at Inspired to Action :: Why she’s done being a good girl. She’s got books for you as well.

And for all you local friends, I’ll be at Barnes and Noble at Friendly Center in Greensboro, NC to sign some books on Thursday September 15. Hope you can join us there at 7 pm.

Finally, thanks to you who have read and posted reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I always read those reviews before I buy things and your insight and opinion are valuable. So thank you, friends.

take heart, friend

This world is filled with trouble, the kind that starts in your heart and works its way out through worry and fear and disappointments. The kind where all families have left of their loved ones is a name on a memorial. And they lay tired hands on top of the letters and pause in the quiet to remember. For when you have so many words but not one thing to say, when you want to convince her everything will be fine even as you doubt it yourself, when you long for a soft bed and a bowl full of chocolate; for when the world has you backed into a corner, when you want nothing more than to be understood, when you wake in the morning overwhelmed with the weight of worry — take heart and know that you have a God who has overcome the world.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Do you need an overcomer this Monday? Where are you looking for victory today?

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If you haven’t a copy of Grace for the Good Girl yet, head on over to Holley Gerth’s blog where she is giving some away!

in real life

There are things that happen when you get together in real life. We learn ourselves in groups in ways we cannot learn ourselves alone — the way she laughs more fully than everyone else, the way she closes her eyes when she answers a question, the way she interacts with her baby girl, the way her eyes light up when she talks dreams, the way her voice changes when she speaks of story.We came to Hilton Head Island this time last year to dream about what it might look like to have a gathering of women hosted by (in)courage. We talked a lot about hosting a conference for you and what that might look like. But even there, so many are left out. Too much money. Too far away. Too many on the waiting list. So instead of making you come to us, (in)courage has crafted a bench for you to find each other. (In)courage (in)real life is now live and we hope you’ll stop by and find a meet up near you.

Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island generously provided beautiful beach front accommodations to enable us to plan and dream together. DaySpring took care of all the incidentals and meals for each of the bloggers. Special thanks to Jessica Gardo from the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce for helping coordinate our trip and for going above and beyond every expectation. As you well know, my family and I have been coming to Hilton Head for over 10 years now, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

May your weekend be filled with touchable friendship, warm togetherness, and deep, genuine laughter. May you set aside the worries, if only for a night, to enjoy the sounds of home and the gift of grace.

magic and superpowers

We took this photo last night as the sun went down. It isn’t always possible to watch the sun set over water on the east coast. But Hilton Head Island is shaped in just the right way so that the sun goes down on the right and comes up again to your left. Always water. Always beautiful.

I stood next to Ann as I took this photo, and I barely heard as she whispered Look at all the creativity out here on this beach. This is the third time I’ve been here in as many months and every time is Lowcountry spun magic. I do love this place.

There are just under 30 of us here on the island this week. DaySpring and Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce are hosting the (in)courage bloggers for a long weekend of dreaming, praying, and planning for the (in)courage community. We’re also managing to squeeze in a few laughs and a couple of handfuls of really great food. And tonight at midnight EST, (in)courage has a fun surprise to share with all of you.

I wrote about the superpower every girl has over at (in)courage today — it’s a superpower we all have but don’t always use. But oh, if we would. We could change the world.

You are Invited to a Party at the Nest

My sister is hosting a party at her house in Charlotte. And you are all invited. I realize when I say ‘ you are all invited’ I’m really only speaking to those of you who live within driving distance slash close to Charlotte. Still, you are invited. And here’s the proof::Once you know you can come, email The Nester at :: nestparty@gmail.com In the subject line of the email if you would, please write the number attending with your group. For example: 3 coming to the nest — you don’t even need to write anything in the body of the email.  Once you send your email, you will get an auto response with directions. Here are some more instructions from The Nester:

If you aren’t sure you are coming or are not planning to come, please do not send the email. It will totally throw off my plans to have an estimated head count and my husband will be forced to eat extra cupcakes for weeks. If you are coming with a group of 4 girls, only one of you needs to email with 4 Party People in Your House or something like that in the subject line of the email, that way I only count 4 once instead of four times.

I do hope you can make it. We’ll have food plenty of book themed decor and lots of books for sale. But whether you can come or whether you cannot, I want to tell you thank you for your sweet support as this book has been released. The terrifying is mostly over, and I’m settling into content and thankful. I’m content that this book that has been rolling around in my heart and head and hands is finally out of mine and into yours. And I’m thankful to know you’ve been receiving it.

Haven’t been around here before? Watch the video. Read the first chapter. Buy the book. Have a cookie. (sorry. no link for that last one.)

on being stubborn

He asked me, What would be life-giving to you today? And it didn’t really matter what I said after that, because the question itself breathed life into me. But I answered anyway, and we packed up the kids and headed to the big park across town.

September smiled on us yesterday, getting brave against hot August with her breeze and her deep blue skies. I used to think nothing good happened in September, but then he chose September to propose all those many years ago and and now it is also the season where my words have finally been released. Enough good things have happened in September to help me change my mind about her.

There are other things happening, things that are invisible and difficult, things that are bringing us closer together even as we fall apart. When control drips through your hands like water, prayer becomes a lot less rote and a lot more desperate. I think that’s good.

When Jesus told the crowd that the work of God is to believe in the one he has sent, it seemed to be just the right words. But when you have to live it in the face of anxiety, fear, helplessness and lingering doubt, I want the work of God to be results. Activity. Answers. Action. Belief feels too small, too passive, too invisible, too impossible. And so we have to dig in our heels and hold fast to belief. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it’s counter-intuitive. Even when it all goes wrong. Stubborn isn’t always bad, you know. Sometimes it’s what saves our life.

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Scroll down to see if you are one of the winners of Grace for the Good Girl or a copy of Shaun Groves’ Third World Symphony.

winners announced!

The winners of a signed copy of Grace for the Good Girl are: Just B @ Love Where You LiveRaeAmandaKelli , and Jennifer D. Please email me at emily(at)chattingatthesky(dot)com and put “book winner” in the subject line. Please include your mailing address  in the email. I hope you enjoy the book!

 

 

The winners of a copy of Shaun Groves’ Third World Symphony are: BrookeShannon@Chickens in My Kitchen, Becky J., Krissa, and Diane Bailey. Please email me at emily(at)chattingatthesky(dot)com and put “CD winner” in the subject line. Please include your mailing address in the email. I hope you enjoy the CD!