For Your Weekend

for your weekend april

Sometimes we get to see, know, and hear right away. The answers make sense, it all works out, and our hearts feel light as we celebrate over dinner.

Other times, though, we walk around with arms stretched out in front, feeling our way through the darkness. We have no answers, nothing works out, and our hearts are heavy with the burden of sorrow.

If the unknowing is bending your waiting into questions or the quiet into fear, may Christ be near to your broken heart today. May he show himself in a way you’ve not yet seen and offer comfort in a way you may not have noticed this time last week.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few things that might make it better:

The Quiet Revolution – This is a website co-founded by Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking (my personal favorite tagline ever written). The site hasn’t officially launched yet, but they have an active Facebook page and I dig what they’re doing.

The Gray Havens – Lately I can’t get enough of these two. I keep linking to Far Kingdom (one of my favorite tunes on their album) but y’all. They are giving away two of their albums for free until midnight Sunday. They said to share the link so I’m sharing the link. Download them now. You’re welcome, you’re welcome.

Songs in the Night – Speaking of music I’m into, this seven song album is stunning, written by local artist and musician Michael Van Patter. He is our worship pastor and friend at our church here in Greensboro. Writing these songs while his young son went through cancer treatment, Michael says this about them: “This is an album borne of long nights, impossible questions, fear, waiting, and hope. These are songs for the brokenhearted.”

For Your Weekend

ducklings at the nester's houseAfter days of clouds and rain, it can begin to feel like you can’t quite remember the feel of the sun warm on your back, the lightheartedness a blue sky can bring, or how hope shows up on warm spring breezes.

Sometimes faith feels like days of clouds, like you can’t quite remember what it feels like to believe without worry or doubt, like maybe you’re a hypocrite because you say you believe God but you still feel scared on the inside.

It helps to remember that hypocrisy does not mean acting contrary to how you feel. Rather, a hypocrite is someone who acts contrary to who they are.

In Christ, we have courage even when we feel scared.

In Christ, we are hopeful even if we feel uncertain.

In Christ, we are loving even if we feel unlovely.

In this, my feelings may cower and clamor against my actions, but my feelings don’t have the final say. Our foundation is first Christ, who holds all things together.

May we be believers who act out of who we are rather than from how we feel. Even if we walk on wobbly legs, even if we timidly place bare toes in the water, even if our voice cracks and our hands shake, may we move forward from our truest identity and refuse to believe that our feelings define us.

Enjoy your weekend, friends.

If you need some consistent reminders in your inbox for your soul to grab onto, you can receive these post through email by signing up here. Why sign up?

  • 2-3 weekly reminders to take a deep soul breath in the midst of your breathless world
  • encouragement, first-word news, recommended reads, and other hope for your soul when you choosing “notes from the bench”
  • free ebook I wrote for you, Seven Little Ways to Live Art, a week-long companion guide to help create space for your soul to breathe. You can start today.

For Your Weekend

waiting

Today is the waiting day.

We wait like schoolchildren for the final bell.

We wait with tapping foot, huffing breath, rolling eyes.

We wait like a mother for the gushing of birth water.

We wait like branches holding pink petaled secrets.

We wait with tears of frustration or eyes filled with anger.

We wait with tears of joy or eyes wide with wonder.

In the waiting rooms of life, our hope is mixed, our longings more so. But still, we wait. Forgive us for our impatience, Lord. We believe, help our unbelief.

We carry the sorrow of loss even as we hold on to hope of gain. We watch and we wait for your resurrection life. Even though we may not see the evidence, we wait with hope.

Because today is the waiting day.

For Your Weekend

for your weekend

Some days you have to slow it all down to a halt, spend two hours on the sofa with a book and a couple of companions – be they children, animals, friends, or all three. May today be that kind of day for you, where you remember who you are and who sits with you. May together be a gift. Enjoy your weekend, friends.

Here We Are Again by Sarah Bessey – Because she writes on mothering her newest baby, number four. And this is my favorite piece on the Internet this week.

Words and Sharing by Shannan Martin – Because she says writing her book is “like waking up line by line” and I know what she means and nodded my head all the way through.

The Masterpiece Mom Podcast by Anne-Renee Gumley and Amanda Bacon – Because I feel honored to join my two favorite Alaskan moms for their podcast this week. We talked about family, writing, my next book, and crazy road trips.

Brave on the Road by Annie Downs – Because its fun to see behind-the-scenes and she brought a camera along on a speaking event to share what it’s like.

2015 Reader Survey - Because you kind of know me but I want to know you, so this is your last call to weigh in. The survey will close at 9 pm EST tonight. Thank you to those of you who have responded!

I’m So Glad You’re Here

Results are rolling in from our 2015 reader survey and already I’ve learned so much from you! (By the way, there’s still time to let your voice be heard – simply fill out the survey questions here.)

Here’s one result that doesn’t surprise me:

men and women

(Insert cry-laugh face).

But one interesting outcome so far is that 60% of those who responded to the survey have been reading here less than 2 years. I’ve been writing for over 9 years but most of you haven’t been around that long. I thought today would be a good time to give an introduction (or for some of you re-introduction) to who I am, who my family is, and what jazzes me these days.

the-Freemans

This is our family – our son is 8 years old and in 2nd grade and our twin girls (this photo is from Halloween when they dressed up like hippie fairies) are 11 and in fifth grade. Next year they’ll begin middle school which is bringing all sorts of excitement, angst, and decision-making conversations around the dinner table these days.

john and emily

This is the most recent photo I have of my husband John and I, taken 2 weeks ago. We’ve been married for nearly 14 years and he’s my best friend. He worked as a youth pastor for 12 of those years and, 20 months ago, quit his job without a clear idea of what would come next. In May 2013 I wrote a post about why my husband quit his job but I haven’t given much of an update on that here since then.

Part of that is intentional. We’ve needed some time to gather, to huddle in close, to listen and simply be. But there has been movement in the past several months and tomorrow I’ll share that with my newsletter subscribers and probably in several weeks I’ll put it here on the blog as well.

By the way, you can sign up here if you’d like to receive that Note From The Bench, a slightly more personal monthly letter I send out with updates on family, books I’m currently reading, and other first-word news and encouragement.

painted brickWe live in Greensboro, North Carolina and have lived in the house where we are now for seven years. It was built in the early 1960s and we’re slowly bringing it into this century. We started with painting the brick on the outside and haven’t regretted it for a second.

When we first moved in I wrote a lot more posts about our house because 1) it was fun at the time and 2) it’s all I thought about because of course we were just moving in and getting settled. You can read more house posts by browsing the house category but a lot of those photos are outdated.

I think it will be fun to post some more photos soon of what the house looks like now. Here’s a few more updated shots.

my house

I started college as a piano major at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina. That’s where I learned how to study the Bible and also where I learned that piano was not something I wanted to major in. I transferred after my sophomore year to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where I graduated with a degree in Educational Interpreting for the Deaf.

John and I were married after I graduated from college and he finished seminary. After receiving my national certification in sign language interpreting, I worked as an interpreter for several years until I had the twins. I started this blog in 2006 and re-discovered my love for writing.

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I’ve written four books by now, three of which are available in bookstores and one that will release in August. I am, this very week, working on my second round of edits for my newest book, Simply Tuesday, and absolutely can’t wait until it’s available to you.

Most of all, you need to know that I’ve been stunned by the Gospel of Jesus. John and I are building our lives on the foundation of hope that can only come from him. Everything I write or speak about comes from my deep conviction that every need, desire, and expectation is ultimately met in God even though it may take a lifetime to work out what that looks like.

Writing helps me work that out. And I hope something of what I offer here might help you work that out, too.

I’d love to know what you’d love to know, if anything. If you have any questions, ask in the comments! I hope to write a few more posts like this so if you give me some ideas of what you might like to know more about, I’m happy to hear it.

I would also love to know your answers to the survey if you haven’t filled that out yet. I’m so glad you’re here.

For Your Weekend

for your weekend

May we embrace the courage to speak up, hold firm, and move forward without forsaking the wisdom of staying silent, letting go, and walking away.

Enjoy your weekend, friends.


Here are a few things my family and I have been up to lately:

  • We teamed up with some girlfriends to bring you The Hope*ologie Podcast! Because sometimes you need to take your cues from Tom and Donna and treat yo self by giving your future self a gift (Click the direct link to listen to the podcast or you can also listen here on iTunes).
  • My sister launched an online course! Because sometimes creating the space you’ve always wanted with the stuff you have right now feels impossible until you get a little help.

Take the Reader Survey

  • My husband has a job update! Remember when John quit his job 20 months ago? Many of you have asked what he’s up to now and I plan to share that in my March letter from The Bench. It will go out next week and you can sign up here to be sure you’re on the list to get it.
  • Have you taken the Chatting at the Sky reader survey? I’d love to get to know you better and these questions will help. Click here to take the survey and thanks so much.

On Learning to Leave Things Behind

Sometimes you need a lot more margin than you plan for and last week was one of those times for me. I went dark online as I prepared to serve at a conference here in my hometown.

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I fight this inability to multi-task better. I mean, I had two babies at once! I could make grocery lists and nurse babies and breathe all at the same time. I am a professional multi-tasker. But when it comes to writing a talk to deliver to local women I know and love, the preparation took on a life of it’s own. And that life was bigger and heavier and more all-consuming than I expected.

Part of it was that I was hopeful and the other part was that I felt afraid. Before I could embrace the hope part, Jesus and I needed to work through my fearful obsession with myself.

There have been some things I’ve been holding on to for many years, hurts and expectations of myself that, though I’m not sure exactly where they have come from, I definitely know they need to go.

One catalyst for this letting go came several weeks ago as I watched the live-stream, along with many of you, of Christine Caine speaking at the IF Gathering in Austin. Something she said poked  me awake.

“If the horse is dead, it’s time to dismount.”

I have many dead horses I’ve been trying to ride and when I heard these words, I sensed a quiet whisper – or, more accurately, the voice of a tiny Australian woman – inviting me to let some things fall gently away. Like the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey said to Edith, “You must learn to leave some things behind.”

The last several weeks have been for me a tangible practice of learning to leave some things behind.

Now that the conference is past, I’m looking back thankful for the opportunity to speak, but more I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the kind, talented, prayerful women who I’m a privileged to call friends here in Greensboro. I’m thankful for the lessons they have taught and are teaching me, about love, support, prayer, and friendship.

Beautiful Life with Angela Thomas

I hope to settle back into a rhythm of writing and yoga and hanging my clothes up instead of flinging them all over my room like Nellie Olsen. And hopefully the movement will be a little lighter this week as I’ve decided to leave some heavy burdens behind.

For Your Weekend

for your weekend

May I learn a to practice holy indifference when it comes to others opinions of me. May I lose my sharp ability to discern disapproval, be it real or perceived, so that I may move toward others without fear or agendas. Keep my heart light like a sacred balloon.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads for along the way:

Cultivate the Deep, Cultivate the Simple by Micha Boyett

Three Things We Need to Stop Saying to Youth Group Kids by Addie Zierman

Anne Lamott on Priorities and How We Keep Ourselves Small by People Pleasing by Maria Popova

How to Stay Alive by Austin Kleon

For Your Sunday

for your Sunday

Today let’s be people of the invisible kingdom. Let’s sink low to the ground, pick up our crosses and our shoes off the floor, eat the bread of life in the morning and serve it up at lunch with peanut butter, jelly and no trace of crust for all the people we love. Let’s practice silence in the pew and also over dinner as we listen before we say so many words. Let’s carry the mystery of God with us into the sanctuary of the church and the sacred corner of the living room. Let’s remember he carries us always in his heart.

Enjoy your Sunday, friends. Here are a few good reads for the afternoon.

Thank You For Not Believing in Me (It Was Just What I Needed) by Kevin Kaiser – Because it’s good to remember how the discouragements, criticisms, disappointments, and failures can become the very gifts we need but never would have asked for.

I Just Made a Fool of Myself by Seth Godin – Because the very thing we all try so hard to avoid may actually be what sets us apart.

The Hope*ologie Podcast Q & A Show! where Dad, The Nester and I answer listener questions about food, gallery walls, and making decisions.

The Home Survey by The Nester – Because everyone loves surveys and this one will help you think differently about your home while also helping my sister know how to better serve you. It’s a win-win all the way.

This coming Friday we’ll share What We Learned in February and I hope you’ll join in. I wrote a post about how I keep track of what I’m learning if you need some tips.

How to Have Eyes Outside Your Body

We stand for the sending song at the end of the service and I stare down at my shoes, remembering how I’m wearing my son’s socks this morning. Reaching up to tuck a stray lock of hair behind my ear, it hits me: Everyone else has a better idea of what my hair looks like from behind than I do.

emily p freeman

You thought this was going to be a serious post, didn’t you?

I allow myself a minute to follow this childlike (childish?) train of thought and realize it’s not only my hair, but really everything about the way we look is more familiar to other people than it is to us. 

I don’t watch myself laugh in a mirror.

I don’t know what I look like when I’m angry.

I can’t recognize fear on my own face.

I’m still shocked when I see photos of my profile. Shocked, I tell you.

It’s why we get all weird when we see ourselves on video or when we hear our own voice on voicemail. I look like that? I sound like that?

Sometimes I’m surprised when someone comes up from behind me and says hi. I’m all, But how did you know it was me? I wasn’t even facing you!

Like a child playing peekaboo, I still secretly believe people won’t recognize me when I’m wearing sunglasses.

As familiar as I am with myself, I’m on the inside looking out. And though my knowledge of myself is thorough, it isn’t complete. I need other people to help me see myself fully.

friendship

And so we sit across small tables in coffee shops and dare to ask curious questions. We let ourselves say what we really think rather than what we’re supposed to think.

We turn ourselves around and whisper expectantly, will you just tell me honestly what my hair really looks like back there? 

Our friends, they show us what we can’t see.

While we are the ever experts at highlighting our own weaknesses, shortcomings, and inabilities, our friends reflect back beauty.

They remind us who we really are.

They remind us we don’t have to do this alone.

They are the eyes outside our bodies.

I’m learning to trust what they see.

And just when that feels too risky and vulnerable, remember they don’t know what their hair looks like, either.

Oh, how desperately we need each other and how often I forget.

Join me on The Bench tomorrow where I’ll share in my monthly letter to subscribers how I’ve been suffering a bit from decision fatigue and how depending on the “eyes outside my body” have helped to ease it.