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.

For Your Weekend

For Your Weekend - Chatting at the Sky

“There’s something beautiful and clarifying and terrifying all at once in being at the beginning . . . To be a beginner is to be full of hope-filled humility, to be overflowing with eager expectation that is simultaneously held in check by the obvious gap between your aspirations and current abilities. To be a beginner is to be pregnant with dreams but nascent with skill, and then to set about the work of cultivating the life of both.”

Michael Yankoski, The Sacred Year

Many things we could say after reading those words, many things we could fear and fight against and reason ourselves out of. Instead, let’s release our grip today, close our eyes in gratitude, and simply whisper this: May I be willing to be a beginner.


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

Every Ten Years You Have to Remake Everything by Anne Bogel

Quiet by Caroline Teselle

In the Smallest of Ways by Ellen for The Sweetwater Blog

The February edition of The Bench will go out on Tuesday, a secret letter written especially for you. Join me on The Bench for once a month soul encouragement and you’ll automatically receive a free copy of my ebook Seven Little Ways to Live Art, sharing one way every day to take a soul breath.

For Your Weekend

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May we make time to travel alone along the silent pathway to our soul. May we not talk ourselves out of hope, but may we gather up the faith and love we find along the way and hand it out generously to others. Enjoy your weekend, friends.

Here are some good words and good news for along the way:

Surprised by Love by Lisa Leonard – Because sometimes the deepest concepts are best expressed with few words.

I Like to Be With You by Annie Barnett for Grace Table – Because really we need with-ness more than anything else.

Use Your Words by Shauna Niequist – Because we’re all still twelve years old a little bit and don’t even realize how much we need to hear each other say the truest things out loud.

Compassion Bloggers – Last year this very week, I was in Uganda with our Compassion Blogger team. They just announced the next team is headed to the Dominican Republic February 16 – 20.

For Your Weekend

for your weekend - january

May we find a friend who keeps our secrets, do the work placed in our hands, read a book that speaks our language, trusting all into God’s hands. Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads for along the ways

A Complicated Peace by Sarah Bessey – Because sometimes life takes turns you don’t expect and we need to make room for grief and joy to co-exist.

Home Is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong by Sophie Hudson – Because lately I want to read everything there is to read about home, about place, and about gathering with my people, and because Sophie weaves joy, comfort, and faith together so beautifully in this new book of hers.

Waiting for Ourselves by Laura Ortberg Turner – Because sometimes I’m lonely for something but I can’t place what, and then I realize I’m longing to acknowledge the person I’m becoming, to look her in the face and call her friend.

On Breaking by my sister, The Nester – Because it’s important to find time to watch cats sleep and take baths and ignore the email.

We’re nearing the end of the month and that means it’s nearly time to share what we learned in January. This month’s list will go up on Friday, January 30. Hope you’ll join in with a list of your own!

The Spiritual Discipline of Learning Nothing

Releasing My Lesson Obsession

Last week we walked through a profound disappointment with one of our girls. I use the word “profound” because that’s how it feels when you’re eleven. Basically, she longed for something that, in the end, belonged to someone else.

As her mom, I see all the necessary parts of growing up happening in this one disappointment — the spiritual discipline of letting go, the practice of faith, the understanding that smallness is not always something to run away from.

But in her most vulnerable moments, lessons don’t help her, at least not the kind you teach on purpose.

Still, I sensed the tension within myself – on the one hand I felt like I should be teaching her something in all this, helping her to see the markers. On the other hand, I just wanted to comfort her and to remind her she isn’t alone.

It’s true, learning is good and disappointments are an opportunity for growth. But I’ve grown weary of trying to squeeze a lesson out of everything, of always asking what God is trying to teach me in every circumstance, of seeing the world through lesson-colored glasses.

I am guilty of managing my experience of difficulty so my struggles don’t feel wasted. In this action, I fear I’ve missed sacred times of healing in the darkness because I’ve wanted to rush ahead to the more understandable light. I have bullet-pointed my soul so that things make sense and have regarded God only as my teacher, forgetting he is also my friend.

School is good and necessary, but in my heart I long for home.

The words of Paul come to mind as I remember he didn’t say “To live is to become Christ-like.”

It sounds almost right, but it’s completely wrong.

Instead, he said, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

To live is a person, Christ himself.

Sometimes I teach my kids stuff on purpose. Mostly, though, I just enjoy their company.

Today I’ll practice walking into the great mystery of God. I will practice encountering Jesus as a person and not a character. I will live this day as a daughter first and allow the student to tag along behind.

Today I’ll grieve the losses, laugh at the jokes, sit in the silence, and move through the routines. I’ll keep my eyes open for Christ’s presence rather than trying to figure out his plan. And as I carry each moment as it comes, I will release my obsession with learning a lesson and instead begin to learn the person of Christ, whatever that might mean today.

For Your Weekend

For Your Weekend in January

May I be willing to see myself as I am and not as I wish I was. When I choose pretense over presence, may it be to me so foul an experience that I give up and give in, bringing every try-hard moment to Christ. Rather than working hard to create my own identity, may I be willing to receive the gift of myself from the hands of God.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads (and listens and watches) for along the way:

Finding God in the Ordinary by Ruth Haley Barton – A good reminder as we enter this season of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Easter.

20 Things I Learned in 2014 by Susie Davis – I loved reading through what everyone learned in 2014. This simple list was one of my favorites, I think because Susie is in a different life stage than I am and I want to pay attention to what she’s learning.

The Art of Simple Podcast – Tsh and I chat it up once again on her podcast this week – and Kyle left in what was supposed to be pre-recording chatter. The worst. Still, you can listen in as we talk about writing, favorite artists, and things that make us happy.

And because I couldn’t resist, here are a couple of links for your inner fangirl from two of my favorite things on the Internet this week:

The Top 10 Downton Abbey Boyfriends by Kendra Adachi for The Sugar Box – I mean, it’s just  so much fun to read this.

Jimmy Fallon Blew a Chance to Date Nicole Kidman – You’ve seen it (along with literally 15 million other people – and counting- this week) but it just had to be mentioned here because it’s too good. And for the four of you who haven’t seen it, you’re welcome.

For Your Weekend

For Your Weekend January

As we reflect on the year past and dream about the one to come, may we walk willingly into the great mystery of God. May we learn to accept that there isn’t always a why, a how, or a lesson. But there is always Jesus. And there is always love. Enjoy your weekend, friends.

Here are a few good reads for along the way:

20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection by Tsh Oxenreider – John and I have gone through these in years past and will do so again this year. Today, in fact. I can’t wait.

Expand Into It by Addie Zierman – For anyone feeling a little underwhelmed after Christmas, read this.

The 2015 Reading Challenge by Anne Bogel – I’ve been waiting for someone to boss me with a creative way to choose books to read and Anne is the perfect person for the job. I’ve already started my list and look forward to this simple 12 month reading challenge.

Reconciled by Shannan Martin – This is why I love Shannan’s writing, because she can write a compelling piece like this one about “the worst thing she’s ever done” and then she writes an equally compelling piece about salsa and lip gloss. I love all the words she puts on the Internet.

For Your Weekend

for your weekend

In the midst of our plans and our people, may we remember to breathe. May we be patient as we consider the colorful mess of joy and grief, understanding our soul may need a little space to sit quietly in the shadows before she’s ready to embrace the light.

May Christ be real to us in small and big ways, and may we be open to the ways he might want to be real to others through us. Enjoy your weekend-before-Christmas, friends. Here are a few good reads for a long the way:

  • Finally, here is a 5 minute clip of Dallas Willard talking about the connection of joy and sorrow, words that I’m sure are a great comfort to many who are grieving this Christmas. He passed away in May 2013 which makes his words even more meaningful here. (subscribers may need to click here to view the video).

At the end of every month I like to share what I learned that month, both the serious and the silly. Since it’s December, I thought it would be fun to broaden it to share what we learned in 2014, sort of a year in review.

If you plan to write a year-end post sharing the things you learned, I’d love to have you link up! The post will go live Tuesday December 30.