We Will Make Art With One Another

So you read a book when it first comes out. Maybe you even mark up the pages because this you want to remember.

And then you finish up the book and the holidays come around and you put up a tree and count down the days and the book you read in October sits right over there on the shelf or the bedside table.

guest room

You are living art, you are. But sometimes, you forget.

Sometimes, you pick the book back up to thumb through, pausing at the highlighted parts. You remember something about being a poem, something about being an image bearer with a job to do, but today you feel more like a job-doer with an image to maintain and you really just want to remember who you are.

You want to remember that listening to your desire and questions and deep-set longing is a sacred practice.

You want to remember the truth about art – it isn’t only painting, singing, and dancing, but may also be loving, believing, and relating.

You want to practice your brave yes and your strong no but the dog got out of the gate last night and ran around the neighborhood like a naked toddler so you just don’t have the energy to be brave about things. You have a dog to kill. I mean train.

Maybe you think to yourself, I really wish that author had included a study guide or a discussion guide or some questions at the end of the chapter. Some way to go back through and remember what I learned. Who writes a book these days without some kind of guidance for her readers?!

This girl. This girl right here.

She hates writing study guides. They are the bane of her existence in this lovely world.

I decided early on in the writing of this book that I wasn’t going to write a study guide to accompany the book, partly because I don’t like writing study guides and partly because I don’t use study guides.

As it turns out, a lot of people enjoy having a guide to go along with a book. Who knew?

If that applies to you, I have good news and an invitation (you thought I was going to say “and bad news,” didn’t you? Never!)

No, I did not write a study guide, leader guide, or discussion guide for this book. (Wait, is that the bad news?)

However, I do have something to offer you that will hopefully be even better.

Art Course

 

It’s a four-week art course designed for a small gathering of people to work through together. (!!)

The Good News

Now you have a way to talk about this book with other people. And my favorite part?  I didn’t write it! My dad was inspired by Seth Godin’s Krypton Community College model and decided to create one using A Million Little Ways. For us! In my opinion, this is a bonus for you. What he draws out is different than what I would in some ways, but I like his approach for this four-week course.

I think you will, too.

Here’s the scoop:

  • There are two versions of the Art Course: one for participants, one for the organizer.
  • An organizer gathers a group.
  • Everyone in the group spends an hour or so preparing on their own during the week (the course tells you exactly what to do)
  • Once a week for four weeks, you gather in person for about 90 minutes to discuss and engage what you’ve learned.

The purpose is not to provide a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the book.

Instead, it’s a practical resource to get you to think through how the concepts in the book apply to your life personally. And not just think about it, but practice, push, and grow.

That’s the good news.

An Invitation

Here’s the invitation: Every group needs an organizer. I’m inviting you to be that organizer. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to practice, push, and grow on my own. That’s why this is a course designed for 4 – 12 people to go through together.

Have you read A Million Little Ways but wish you had someone to talk about it with? What if you gathered a few friends together and did just that? You and your spouse could partner up with another couple. You and your roommate could pair up with a few friends. Your current small group could set aside four weeks and use this as your material. It would be a great way to get to know each other better.

I want to make this easy, but not so easy that you forget to do it. (I have a knack for making easy things difficult.)

This Art Course is completely free.

But.

It’s easy to download something for free, add it to the download files on your computer, and forget it’s there until this summer. I know because I’ve done it.

What’s not so easy is to have to raise your hand and pick yourself to be the organizer, to say Yes, I want to do this with a group. And yes, I’ll be the one to take the first step.

Before you count yourself out, know that the organizer is not the teacher or even necessarily the leader. As the organizer, you are simply responsible to gather a group together and be a point person during your weekly meetings. The course tells you what to do - questions to ask, suggestions for your gathering, and ensuring you wrap it up on time.

So pick yourself and organize a group. When you do, you’ll receive further instruction. (I’ve always wanted to say that).

How to Get the Art Course

If you’re ready to sign up as an organizer for an art group in your own community, here’s what you can do next:

1. Send an email with ‘Art Course’ in the subject to A Million Little Ways at gmail dot com.

2. You will receive a link where you can download the Organizer Version of the Art Course for free as well as access to the private Facebook group for organizers only.

3. Since this is new for everyone, I’m suggesting that groups start the first week of February and continue for four weeks through the month. That way there are a bunch of people going through the course at roughly the same time. Updated to add: If February won’t work for you, go ahead and download the course and do it as soon as you and your group are able.

If you’re doing it in February, you have 3 weeks to assemble your group.

And if you get a chance, thank my awesome dad for taking the time to gather and prepare the material for the course.

The release of this Art Course is part two in a casual series I’m doing here on the blog in January: We will make art. Last week we focused on embracing the little way and I released Seven Little Ways to Live Art to subscribers. You can get your free copy today by subscribing on this page.

This week, we consider the importance of gathering with others on the journey.one another

Seven Little Ways to Live Art

This week, I’ve talked a little about smallness, making art, and living it, too. It’s easy to say “Let’s start small” but might be hard to actually do. What does that look like, exactly?

In an effort to turn intention into action, I’m pleased to finally share with you something I’ve been working on that I hope will do just that:

seven little ways to live artThis is a week-long companion to A Million Little Ways and will offer you small steps to begin to practice living art.

Get your copy now by subscribing to Chatting at the Sky - either to the blog posts or the newsletter. If you do that, enjoy! And ignore the rest of this post.

***

Still here? Maybe that’s because you have questions. Here is the part where I imagine what questions you might have and then I answer them for you.

How do I get a copy?

Seven Little Ways is available for free to anyone who subscribes to my blog or newsletter via email – whether to my monthly-ish newsletter or to the blog posts. It is a digital file you can download and read on your computer. Simply visit this page to subscribe and you will receive a link to download the guide when you confirm your subscription.

Earlier today I sent an email to existing subscribers that included a link to the guide.

I’m a subscriber but I didn’t get the email

The email went out around 11:30 EST today (Thursday January 9) so it still may arrive. Be sure to check spam and other folders as it might have ended up there.

It’s possible you subscribed a long time ago but never confirmed your address, in which case you may need to unsubscribe (so your email address is out of the system), wait a few minutes, and then re-subscribe by visiting this page and choosing either blog posts, newsletter, or both. When you do that, you will automatically receive a copy of the guide in your welcome email.

Is this basically just a tiny version of A Million Little Ways?

I definitely review some of the concepts from the book, but it is not an overview of the book or a study guide. I wanted to offer something fresh and practical for you to use everyday for a week as you begin the new year. I hope that’s what this is for you.

What if I subscribe through RSS and not email but I still want the guide?

I understand a lot of people keep their blog reading strictly in a feed reader and don’t want their inbox to get out of control. If that’s you but you still want a copy of Seven Little Ways I would encourage you to sign up only for my newsletter. It won’t clog your inbox because it only goes out once a month (lately not even that often). It is fairly short and includes exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else.

To do that, visit this page and check the ‘newsletter’ box. Once you opt-in, you will get a welcome email with a link to download the guide.

That’s all the questions I can think of. If one comes to mind, ask it in the comments and I’ll try to address it there. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it!

2014: We Will Make Art

It was cloudy when we got off the ship in Miami, an unseasonably cool day for the area. The weather didn’t bother me in the least. I was simply glad to see land. We spent last week cruising in the Caribbean, a first for our family.

MiamiI learned many things on this vacation, several of which I’m sure will show up at the end of the month for my What I Learned post. The first and most important? If someone is trying to convince you to go on your first cruise and one of the arguments they use to persuade you includes the words “the ship is so big you can’t even feel it move,” don’t believe them.

They sit on a throne of lies.

But if they also tell you that the food is delicious and abundant and available at every turn, you can believe them on that. More than once I piled my plate up high because I could, only to have to stop mid-way through because, well, I couldn’t. My small stomach put my big eyes to shame.

ship foodSometimes January has big eyes and a small stomach, too. It can be easy to stack your plate high with intention and goals, only to sit down at the table, take two bites, and realize that’s all you can digest right now.

I used to think my inability to live up to my grand January ideas was some kind of personal flaw, but now I’m re-considering.

I think I’m made to live small, to move slowly, and to hold just one thing at a time

It’s been three years since Annie sent me that 5 word email that became a 55,000 word book, the one that said “2011: We will make art.”

To this day, if I get quiet enough and let myself consider the impact her words have had on my life, I still get a little emotional. It means a little something different to me now than it did then but needless to say, We will make art has changed things for me. I know it’s changed things for some of you as well because you’ve written me and told me so.

But one thing I’ve also heard from you is you wish you had a next step, an easy way to discuss the book with others, a way to more practically apply what it means to make art in everyday life.

I agree. And so I’ve been working on some things for you.

During this first month of the new year,  I want to move forward into living art and to dive more deeply into these concepts so that in 2014, our art will come from a place of love and not fear.

Each week in January I plan offer some practical tools to help solidify what might seem to be a dreadfully abstract concept – making art with our work and our lives.

little ways

So let’s grab a reasonably small plate and begin to practice holding just one thing at a time.

Photos From Our Afternoon At the Barn 2013

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

It’s been nearly two weeks since our gathering At the Barn and today is the day I finally get to share with you a peek into our time together. We were a small group on purpose, to keep intimidation low and eye-contact high. We wanted to gather for an afternoon of storytelling, music, conversation, and art. So that is what we did.

All of the photos in this post were taken by Mary Anne Morgan, a kind, thoughtful artist who offered to come document the day for us in what is one of the most generous gifts I have ever received.

Photos might be my love language, and to have her there allowed me to be fully present in the day without feeling like I was missing something. Be kind to photographers, friends. They tell the stories we can’t afford to forget. And Mary Anne? Thank you is too small, but I say it anyway.

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnThe friends and family behind the day: Stacey, Kendra (The Sugar Box baker), Caroline, Jen, Randy, Melissa, John, me, Dad, Mom, Chad, Myquillyn, Reeve, and Jason. Ok. Ready to scroll? Go!

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnView More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnAnother generous artist who donated her time and talent: Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios did the hand lettering for this quote and I printed them out for the barn friends.

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnMy sister did every stitch of the decorations. I love the way she had lovely voice in the room without ever picking up a microphone – her design and creativity spoke whimsy and generosity over everyone who came.

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnView More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnView More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn at the barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnIf it weren’t for Mary Anne, the following four photos taken on my phone would have been about the extent of the barn documentation:

my photos at the barnOh, and of course, this one:

The Sugar Box

If you want another peek into the day from some of the people who came, here are a few posts they’ve written so far:

Lori Harris: Ramblings From a Day At the Barn

Emily Gilmore: At the Barn 2013

Rachel Franklin: In Which We Made Art

Jenny Call: Art and Vulnerability

Theresa Hardymon: Grace Came Down in a Barn

And two women who started their own blogs after the Barn event (!!):

Shawna Anderson: At the Barn

Yuko: Now Let’s Talk About Fear

If you would like to see more photos from the barn (yes, there’s more. I know!) you can visit my Facebook page where I will post them all. And if you have no idea what this barn thing is but would like to know more, it’s basically a gathering my family and I hosted to have a way to talk about the concepts in my book, A Million Little Ways.

Here are  my first thoughts about our gathering last week: Reflections From the Barn. And here are all the post I’ve written about the Barn so far. We hope to do it again in 2014, this time at my sister’s house! Stay tuned for details on that.

Best Price for Books This Weekend

a million little ways by emily p. freeman

For our US friends, I hope you are all enjoying a happy Thanksgiving weekend! And of course for our readers around the world, I hope your weekend is off to a lovely start. It still blows my mind that December is summer for some of you. But I digress.

I’ll post our What I Learned in November link up post in just a few minutes. But first:

Every now and then I get texts or emails asking if I know where the best place to buy Million is – Barnes and Noble, Amazon, LifeWay, and many other places all carry the book and it’s good to check them all for the lowest price.

Right now, it looks like DaySpring still has the best price for A Million Little Ways. It’s only $9.99 in their online shop, and if you use the code 30SPECIAL, you get an extra 30% off so it’s only $7 through Monday, December 2.

AND if you spend $50 total in your order, you get free shipping. So if you planned to buy Million for Christmas gifts, or teacher gifts or stocking gifts, this would be the best way to do it.

While I’m at it, here is a summary of current lowest prices for all the books I’ve written:

I rarely do posts like this because it always feels a little weird – Hey! Buy my books, y’all! But for those of you who are going to buy them as gifts anyway, I thought I would help you out with the lowest price deals. The DaySpring links here are affilliate links, so if you purchase from there, I will get a small percentage. I hope to see some of your What I Learned posts today! More to come.

Reflections From the Barn

The GranaryI haven’t checked my email in two days.

After the barn, I needed to be still in my soul and checking my email tends to stir things up on the inside for me. So I’ve avoided it and I’m trusting there are no emergencies in my inbox.

The real emergencies never show up that way anyway.

On Friday I wrote a post called This Might Not Work where I shared with you how excitement and risk were doing their work within me  on the eve of doing something I’ve never done before. Today I want to offer you some initial reflections from the Barn, but remember I’m a slow processor so there may be more coming in a later post. You’ve been warned.

***

“One who really wishes to know oneself has to be a restless, fanatical collector of disappointments.”

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

I haven’t read this novel, but I have been thinking for the past week or so about this line I saw quoted from it. I can’t get it out of my mind because I think I completely agree with it.

When I wrote A Million Little Ways it was an attempt to remind myself and hopefully the reader how we have been created in the spectacular image of God, how Christ lives within us, and how he wants to come out through the unique filter of our personality. When we move toward what makes us come alive, when we dare to be who we really are (not who we wish we were instead), art comes out.

I set out to somehow poke-awake the sleeping soul and I know, at least for some, that is what has happened.

When my family and I sat together in my sister’s living room last May and talked about hosting a small gathering around the subject of my book, I told them I wanted it to simply feel like a living, breathing chapter one.

I knew better than to expect one afternoon event could cover all I wished to talk about, but I hoped it would at least be another layer of inspiration for those who came – to stir up questions, longing, and life.

As I sat in front of the 80 gathered in that small barn, I watched as desire welled up from the depths, watched and listened as the image bearers brought glory to God simply by being themselves.

But I also saw furrowed brows and tears and heartache because when desire is touched, it releases longing as well as something else.

Fear.

The reason this quote from Mercier comes back to me this morning is because whenever you open yourself up to desire, you must also realize you are now vulnerable to deep disappointment.

Our deepest desires often hold hands with our most profound disappointments. And this can be terrifying.

Which is perhaps why a lot of people choose to avoid desire in the first place.

It takes courage to honestly consider desire in the presence of Jesus. Am I brave enough to acknowledge what I most long for? Am I willing to expose my desires in the light of the love of God? As we begin to uncover the desires we may be reluctant to face, remember the Gospel makes it possible for us to confront whatever we see.

A Million Little Ways

There are many things I’m thankful for in regards to The Barn on Saturday, the first among them being the fact that people came. Kind, gracious, artists came – from close to home (Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem) as well as from far away (Colorado, Texas, New York).  I still can’t believe they came. They came!

And I tear up thinking about what a privilege and honor it was to sit among those who showed up, to serve with my family, to stand with my husband all day long.

So many made the day possible – my sister, my parents, friends, volunteers – and I will share them with you in my next barn post, complete with the most beautiful photos from the day, captured so generously by Mary Anne Morgan (I seriously can’t wait to show you her photos – here’s one:)

john and emily

But for now, I simply leave you with this small, partial thought on what is happening within me and within John as a result of our time at The Barn:

We are building our lives at the intersection of desire and disappointment. We are setting up camp here on the corner, waking up to our own deepest longings as well as our most profound fears. The life of Christ was one of divine courage as well as undeniable weakness. It’s true, He experienced victory over death, but first he had to die alone, enduring the most profound disappointment the earth has ever seen.

As we celebrate our smallness in the presence of Christ, we realize together there is no place else for us to go. And so we simply stay here on the corner, awake to desire as well as fear, inviting others to join us here. At the Barn, they did just that.

This Might Not Work

“At some level, this might not work is at the heart of all important projects, of everything new and worth doing. And it can paralyze us into inaction, into watering down our art and into failing to ship.”

Seth Godin, from his post Out on a Limb

Since my family and I first started talking about working together to host a gathering of people this fall, the first thing that popped in my head was that this might not work.

We wanted to host an intentional time of story-telling, music, and conversation; a time to poke-awake the art inside you that may be hidden under layers of doubt, discouragement and distraction; a time to connect on a more personal level with one another in a way a larger venue wouldn’t allow.

When we picked a date and began to give details and times to what had  formerly only been thoughts and ideas, it came up again - this might not work.

But you get to a point where having the thing work is less important to you than giving it a try. For me, not trying it at all was a worse fate than trying it and having it not work.

If you could follow that.

emily p freeman books

When people start things, they don’t do it because they are necessarily ready. They don’t do it because they have all the answers to every question or because they have some guarantee of success from an invisible authority.

People who do stuff haven’t figured out the secret to doing stuff. They have simply decided to stop letting the fear of this might not work control their lives.

This might not work is either a curse, something that you labor under, or it’s a blessing, a chance to fly and do work you never thought possible.” – Seth Godin

at the barn prepAfter years of praying, months of planning, and lots of help, tomorrow we will host our very first gathering At the Barn.

It’s true, it might not work – it might not go as planned, it might not be what I hope it will be, it might not turn out exactly like I want it to.

But we’re doing it anyway. I’ve never been more excited about an event.

December 1 Book Signing

After an extremely busy fall, At the Barn is my last official event of 2013. But I’m pleased to announce I will be doing an informal book signing on Sunday December 1, joining a group of local artisans at their annual Handmade at Home gathering. It’s a great way to support local artists and find unique gifts for friends and family. We would love to have you join us!

  • Sunday December 1
  • 2011 Medhurst Drive Greensboro, NC 27410
  • Drop in 4 – 7 pm (the event starts at 1 pm, but I won’t be there until 4)

Check out the Facebook event page and join if you can come! 

my state of life 43 days after a book release

In the past 10 minutes, I have:

1. Scanned Facebook and clicked on Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Artificial Food Coloring, realizing after reading it that the only safe things to eat in the world today are tree bark and air. And the tree bark might be questionable in some states.

432x3242. Then I clicked on this post from Shannan, saw a house for sale in her Indiana neighborhood, scrolled through all 26 photos of said house (three times) and decided maybe we need to move there because gorgeous hardwoods and Stars Hollow.

3. After reading that post, I clicked over to Tsh’s blog because any minute she will be revealing her new design/blog name and that’s just fun.

4. Then I shook my head and came back here, having things to tell you but not knowing where to begin.

5. Then I started to get on Twitter but made myself stop because I’m a grown up and I can do this.

By “this” I mean get back into the swing of writing.

John and I have had hours and hours of conversation about the state of our souls lately – about what is true, what we most deeply desire for our family, our marriage, and the art we make together.

I want to share so much of it with you but I haven’t had the white space to put it into words quite yet as much as I desperately want to.

It’s only been 43 days since A Million Little Ways released and I’m feeling a little thin (unfortunately, I don’t mean that literally). It has been a great month, a fun month, a month of celebration and relief.

It has also been a full month. For example, here is a stack of all the books I’ve received in the past 30 days – either from an event where I’ve served as a speaker or in the mail from authors or their publishers:

October 2013 booksIt’s a great representation of how this month has felt for me: stacked up high with good things, but a little overwhelming at the same time. (This is also one of the reasons I love what I do – lots of beautiful books on my doorstep).

I don’t think I can adequately thank you for your kind support of Million – but I’ll try anyway. Thank you for reading the book I wrote. Thank you for sharing it with your friends and family. Thank you for offering thoughtful reviews, blog posts, and tweets. Thank you for buying tickets to The Barn (what I know will be my favorite event of 2013). Thank you for wanting to buy tickets to The Barn. Thank you for eye contact when we meet in person, questions around event tables, your presence in the comments of this blog. Thank you for following along for 31 days of Living Art. Not just following along, but sharing your own art and living it, too.

It’s lovely to watch.

I will continue to try to keep you updated on where I see the best prices being offered on the book (right now it looks like DaySpring is the cheapest at $9.99).

If you’ve been wanting to follow along with the Bloom Book Club but have been falling behind, I’m working on getting all the videos on one page here on the blog so you can watch them at your own pace. They already live on the book club page over at (in)courage, but I thought bringing them here might help you out.

I also wanted to let you know even though we missed sharing Things We Learned in October, I want to bring it back at the end of this month so start taking notes on the things you’re learning and prepare to share them with us at the end of the month!

In contrast with the stack above, here are the books I actually had to pay money for this month:

books I paid money for this month

The Gift of Being Yourself by David. G. Benner – Picked this one up at the Renovare retreat last week. I loved another book of his, Sacred Companions and have heard good things about this one.

When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey – Been meaning to read one of his books for a while now and saw the kindle version of this one is only $2.99 right now. Great timing!

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink – Ordered this one to read out loud with the kids. We’ve read two chapters and really enjoy it so far.

But you must know the majority of my reading time has been spent with my nose in one of these two books:

photo-3

I know. This is my life.

This, and picking winners. Well, having Jamie pick winners, anyway.

We have winners!

I’ve hosted a few giveaways on the blog over the past few weeks and finally have some winners to announce.

Hannah wins Reeve Coobs new release What Love is All About. If your name is Hannah and you entered the giveaway, you’ll know you’re the winning Hannah if you have an email from Jamie in your inbox.

Rachel Franklin wins the $100 Barnes and Noble gift card!

Andrea Noles wins 10 copies of A Million Little Ways! Christmas gifts, book club, so many options for you and your 10 books, Andrea.

That’s all for now, friends. Glad to get the writing wheel spinning again.

We Will Make Art :: A Link Up & Giveaway

“Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, ‘I’m never going to write my symphony.’ Instead we say, ‘I’m going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

-Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

God is an artist

Let’s not wait until tomorrow to make and live our art. Embrace the art alive within you and believe in the little ways you can release it into the world.

Let’s pick up the pen, the pan, the brush. Let’s open our eyes, our hands, our hearts. Let’s see the fear and then laugh in his face because somebody has to. Why not let it be us?

Let’s carry on together.

***

Today is the final day of 31 Days of Living Art. To celebrate the last day of our series, I wanted to highlight the art you are making in your own life. It could be a portrait or a pie. Maybe it’s math homework with your fifth grader or a really clean bathroom. Maybe you are writing a book or a play or a song or a business proposal.

We want to see how you are making art in your life – for this season, right now, today. To make it a little more fun, we’ll pick two of you to win some gifts.

giveaways

One winner will receive a $100 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Another winner will receive 10 copies of A Million Little Ways to read with your small group or to simply share with friends.

we will make art

 Here’s how to enter:

Take a photo of something showing or representing the art you’re making and/or living. Tell us about it in your post. Then, share your photo in one or both of these two ways:

1. Post the photo and description on your blog, include the graphic above in your post, then link your post up below.

2. Post your photo on Instagram or Twitter using #WeWillMakeArt. If you don’t use the hashtag, we won’t be able to find you. Womp. Include in your photo your copy of A Million Little Ways if you have it.

Links will close Saturday November 2 at 11:55 pm.

The Most Practical Example of Living Art

love

A friend shares a difficult struggle.

Tears well up in her eyes as she talks. The pain runs deep, maybe more than she even knows. As I listen, I’m aware of my desire to be helpful, to make it better, to offer some words of hope.

But is this really what she needs most?

As I listen to my own discomfort because of my inability to help, I realize I’m thinking more of me than of her.

Is it possible to stay my attention on the person I’m with more than perseverate on what my response will be to her?

As she continues to talk, I confront all of my own mixed motives, my own self-reliant tendency. Unmoving and still listening, I offer my discomfort up to the Lord.

I am aware of this - I wish I could fix it. What is the right thing to say? I want to be a technician.

As I silently confess my addiction to usefulness, I recognize a new obsession growing: a deep desire to know her, to hear what she is saying now, to learn something I didn’t know before.

The earlier question, How can I help her? is changing into a new question, How can I see her? 

How will Immanuel show himself right now, not just for her in her pain but for me in my self-obsession?

God with us is big enough to handle us both.

When I release my obsession with finding a cure, I can embrace the desire to be curious. This person, this friend, is not a project or an assignment. She is an image bearer, a lyric, a poem. The color of her pain runs dark and she needs some time to face it. This is holy ground, and her process can’t be rushed, dissected, or figured out.

I am aware of my desire to try to force her to see the hope and the light. But I realize this is self-serving. I need to make peace with her questions and allow the darkness to do its deepest work.

For me to be an artist in this moment means to refuse to try to control her and to create space for our conversation to breathe.

Am I willing to let her be a mystery?

Am I willing to sit beside her without giving in to the pressure to fix her?

Am I willing to let her wrestle without quoting Scripture or forcing prayer?

Am I willing to walk away from our conversation more uncomfortable and with more questions than when we began?

This is day 28 of 31 Days of Living Art. Click here to see all the posts in the series. Today’s post is modified from Chapter 12 of A Million Little Ways. 

If you would like to have each new post delivered into your inbox for free, simply enter your email address here and click blog posts.

If you’re following along with us in the book club, Chapter 3 discussion is up at Bloom. You can watch the video here and join us in the comments there for discussion.