A Staying Prayer for Mothers of College Freshmen

staying prayer for mamas

The next few days may be marked with lasts,  but soon her grown-up child begins a new set of firsts. She helps him pack his bags with clothes and his boxes with books. But you see what the mamas carry in their hearts – anticipation, longing, love, regret, anxiety, nostalgia, and resolve.

They are a mix of excited, terrified, and closed-eyed hope.

As she watches her child look for a fresh start, remind her to make her home in you.

As she sends her freshmen off into the world, make her feet steady to stay behind – sure, confident, and at peace.

As she prays for her daughter to find good friends, may you bring prayerful friends to her own side, to remind her she is not alone.

If insecurity, fear, or disappointment knock on her empty-nest door, may she turn to you with her questions rather than get busy doing.

If she receives calls from her faraway girl, though there may be tears and heartbreak on the other line, may she not set out to fix, rather may she sink deeper into you. Weave your wisdom into the fibers of her soul, bearing the fruit of confidence, clarity, contentment and a light-heart.

a staying prayer for mothers of college freshmen

May she have the patience to believe even when the reports sound grim.

May she not be quick to judge, rather may she be patient and curious.

May she remember what her daughter needs more than answers is to know she’s not alone.

May she remember what her son needs more than advice is to know he’s got what it takes.

May she not despise her weakness, rather may she see how weakness brings a daily reminder to trust.

May she feel the freedom to feel what she feels without the pressure to be more happy, more sad, or more anything other than simply who she is in this moment.

If she is struggling to let go, in your time replace her fear with courage and her confusion with peace.

And if the not-enoughs haunt her in the night, the fear that she didn’t love, teach, do, or instruct enough while the kids were under her roof, comfort her with the assurance that you are the Artist who weaves together good from all things.

Help her release her children into your hands.

For the parents of college freshmen all over the world, may your grace surprise them kindly in this time of newness, waiting, and love.

Amen.

This staying prayer for mothers of college freshmen was inspired by a post I wrote last year around this time: A Sending Prayer for College Freshmen. May you find peace and joy in this season of transition.

What They Will Remember

Yesterday I spent a few hours in the southern Indiana town where I grew up. I came alone to do some thinking and some remembering. Some things you just need to get out of your system.

Indiana

As I pulled into town, every intersection had a landmark I recognized but a street name I didn’t. Even though the town is a fraction of the size of the town where I now live, I couldn’t navigate the roads without my phone for directions.

It was a little maddening, recognizing that stone house on the corner and that water tower over there, but now knowing exactly how to get to the library. But these were the sort of things I expected. We moved away from here before I could drive so I never learned my way around. What I didn’t expect was at every turn, at every familiarity, I thought of my mom.

It wasn’t a particular memory, like oh there’s where she taught me to finger paint! or that’s where we went out to that fancy restaurant and laughed about all the funny things!

Maybe memory montages happen that way in the movies, but I didn’t have many specific memories of anything as I drove to our old house, to the parking lot of the grocery store, to the elementary school where I learned to read. Instead, it was more like a blanket of memory, singular. It was simply a familiar cloud of an old life brought near but not quite.

Mother's Day - chatting at the sky

I kept picturing Mom, younger than I am now, just being our mom. I kept imagining, everywhere I was, that Mom was close by and I needed to go on home to her. Her presence was a deeply safe place for me as a girl, something I’m not sure I realized until this very day. And it’s not because she mothered us like some kind of super-hero. She didn’t. But she was there, she was with us, she loved us, and I knew it.

Wandering through these familiar streets reminded me of what it means to mother well. Now that I have three of my own, I realize fancy is great, but it’s probably not what they’ll remember.

If you are a member of Hope*ologie, one of the podcasts for May features a conversation with Mom, Dad, Myquillyn and me about growing up, motherhood, simple presence, and embracing imperfection. Visit Hope*ologie to see what others are saying about the site and sign up today!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for loving us well.

What a Parent Does

They both need white collared shirts for their chorus performance this week. It sounds easy enough, but as it turns out there aren’t a lot of stores selling plain, white, button-up collared shirts for girls. They all have ruffles or rhinestones or characters on the front. And hardly any of them are white.

blouse

Today I don’t mind the hunt. It reminds me I’m their mom, and I do things like find them shirts for their chorus concert.

I give up on shopping in the girls section at Target and move over to the womens. I train my eyes to ignore every color but white and quickly find a rack in the middle with white, button-up shirts. With collars. There is only one extra-small so I grab it, knowing I’m only half done.

I end up at Once Upon a Child to find another white blouse for my other girl. I don’t come in here as often as I did when the kids were younger. I smile as I walk in, remembering how John always accidentally calls one of the shows we watch Once Upon a Child instead of it’s actual name, Once Upon a Time. 

I head to the back where the clothes are color coordinated. Score. This shouldn’t take long.

They only have three white blouses in the girls’ size, one with ruffles in the front (won’t work), one labeled size 10 but looks more like a 4 (way too small) and finally another that looks the right size but has a rounded collar. I decide it will work and head to check out.

As the cashier rings me up, she tells me all about how the store works and I let her because why not.

“You can bring in any gently used clothes she’s outgrown and we will buy them from you. We accept all seasons.”

I thank her, knowing she speaks lies and more lies because she makes it sound so simple but they are actually very picky about the clothes they will accept. Ask me how I know. Needless to say, I won’t be bringing in any clothes she has outgrown anymore.

And besides, I have two she’s. Not that the cashier should have known that, but I notice when she says it. In our house, it’s never just one daughter. It’s always two.

When I first found out we were having twins, I was aware of the potential resentment one of them might experience because of being a twin. (I like to make up problems before they happen because I am a rational person.)

As it turns out, I haven’t had to do anything back-bendy or overly special to make sure they each feel like individuals. They are individuals. They are also twins. If they need a little something extra – time, attention, conversation – we try to be aware of it.

I’m reminded of something John Blase wrote about the importance of simply being present with our kids:

“Presence. I realize it’s a counterintuitive idea for most parents these days but I like to suggest that simply being there is as important as what you do when you’re there. The cultural pressure to be this fully engaged father reminds me of that picture of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders; that’s a little much, don’tcha think? Maybe one of the primary roles of the father in a child’s life is to be there, on-site, in the scene, to keep the fear at bay. Not to interfere, but to protect simply by presence.”

from his book, Know When to Hold ‘Em

Walking to the car with my second white blouse, the wind picks up as I open the door. I’ll head to the school to have lunch with them after this, where they’ll each pick a friend. We’ll sit in our little group of five at the family table, sharing the kit-kats I bought at Target and they will  ignore me completely while they giggle with their friends.

I will be so glad to sit with them. And they’ll be so glad I’ve come.

Tuesdays Unwrapped

Every time I walk up my stairs, my eyes follow a long, curvy line of ink that travels just beneath the banister. I’m guessing my son is the artist, though I haven’t asked around.

home

The ink has been there for weeks, maybe months? I’m not sure. But I notice it everyday now.

I know what you might be thinking. It’s Tuesdays Unwrapped, so Emily is going to say how normally that ink would bother her but today she’s remembering how it represents children young and still at home. And so she’s going to leave that ink mark there on the wall as a sweet reminder.

Nope.

Every time I see that ink mark, I remind myself to clean it when I come back downstairs. Then, like giving a mouse a cookie, I think how I shouldn’t just clean the ink but actually the whole wall needs painting.

I reach the top step thinking about Sherwin Williams Alabaster White and then remember reading somewhere that the White House paint is called Whisper and by the time I come back downstairs, the ink is forgotten.

Today, the gift is two-fold.

One, the ink is forgotten. There was a time several years ago – five maybe? – where ink on walls would have had me angry, searching for someone to blame. But the truth is it’s just not that big of a deal. And I celebrate the gift of my own growing up, my own ability to recognize what needs my attention and what doesn’t.

The second part of this gift? I also celebrate my children growing up. This is supposed to happen. I don’t need to try to hold on to marks on the wall or handprints on windows in an attempt to somehow preserve their childhood.

There is not something wrong with the universe when my daughter, nearly as tall as I am, can slip my shoes on to play outside and they don’t fall off.

Sometimes I gawk at her, breathless as I watch her run out to her bike with the movements of a girl but the growing body of a young woman. Sometimes it feels like the world has gone mad because this is my baby girl!

But this is supposed to happen, this growing and changing. And I celebrate a girl growing up.

I celebrate a boy who should know better than to write on walls but does it anyway.

I celebrate my almost-ten years of parenting that has taught me not to freak out about little things.

What do you celebrate today?

Tuesdays Unwrapped 2013

I hope you’ll choose one gift of your ordinary day and find the miracle secret it holds. Write it out, breathe it in, capture its image, see it new. And then come here to tell us all about it by linking up below. If you are new to this community, here is all the information you’ll need to prepare your post. All are welcome.

31 days :: What is Art? pt. 1

I brush her hair before school while she finishes her rubberband bracelet. “Is my hair as long as Ruby’s?” She asks without looking at me.

I tell her I don’t know Ruby so I can’t say, but I can tell she hopes I’ll say yes. Ruby must have beautiful hair.

you are art

I pull the brush through the tangles, try not to yank too hard. She squints, but stays mostly quiet. It’s hard for her to see herself separate from how she compares to someone else. I know because I’ve done  this too.

What does this measuring do to our souls, this comparison of competency and beauty?

Silently I wonder how to teach her the truth so she’ll always know: You are a masterpiece, a poem. You have a rhythm all your own.

The best way to teach her this truth is to live like it’s true about me.

“What is art? You are. And the mayfly. And every wasp novel ever lived. And the hard Winter overthrown by Spring. Motherhood. Grass. Jupiter. Your annoying neighbor. Art is.”

–N.D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl

Art is.

You are.

And so am I.

white button with borderThis is Day 2 of a series, Made for This: 31 days of Living Art. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.

If you would like to have these posts delivered directly into your email inbox, subscribe here. Everything I write about this month is inspired by the work I did on my newest book, A Million Little Ways, which officially releases this week.

a sending prayer for college freshmen

prayers for college students

Dear Lord,

They move in to the dorm this weekend and will bring their bags filled with clothes and their boxes filled with books. But you see what they bring in their hearts – anticipation, adventure, love, regret, anxiety, motivation, and hope.

They are a mix of excited, ready, terrified, and wide-eyed freedom.

As he looks for a fresh start, remind him of your faithfulness every morning no matter where he calls home.

As she looks for community, remind her you are always with her no matter where she may go.

As he looks for adventure, remind him how you walk on water, turn water to wine, feed thousands from just a few pieces of bread. Remind him how you bring life straight up out of death, beauty straight out of ashes.

May she have the patience to believe even when she doesn’t see results.

May he know the greatest adventures are found in your presence, the greatest love comes from your heart, the greatest hope is that you’ve made his heart your home.

When insecurity, comparison, disappointment and failure knock on her dorm room door, may she turn to you with her questions rather than run the other way.

Weave your wisdom into the fibers of his soul, bearing the fruit of confidence, clarity, contentment and a light heart.

May he not despise his humanity, rather may he embrace it.

May she not despise her body, rather may she learn to receive and respect her shape as a gift.

May he not despise his weakness, rather may he see how weakness brings a daily reminder to trust.

May they not fear failure, rather may they thrive in the midst of it.

May they not be quick to judge, rather may they be patient and curious.

Help them to find true friends and be a true friend in turn.

Help them find their voice and to use it to be an advocate for themselves and for others.

Replace her shame with courage.

Replace his confusion with peace.

Replace her fear with a love that moves within her beyond her ability to understand.

May your grace surprise them kindly.

Amen.

12 things your daughter needs you to say

In high school, I loved all those little sayings I heard Christians say. You know the ones – When God closes a door, he opens a window. Or Don’t put God in a box! My personal favorite was when one of my friends in my small group went through a break up with a boy, our small group leader proudly announced: Rejection is protection! And we all promptly dove for our journals to write that one in big, bold letters.

12 things

I tried to use that one once  on my current small group to see what they would do. They just stared at me and rolled their eyes. Then they laughed because they knew I was joking.

Maybe teenagers in 1995 were a lot more corny than teenagers today. Or maybe it was just me.

There are things our daughters (and sons, too!) need to hear us say. And even though the clichés may encourage some of them and may look cute on a poster, they will most likely fall flat on young ears. Here is my best attempt to come up with 12 non-cliché things our daughters need to hear us say.

12 Things Your Daughter Needs You to Say - by emily p. freeman1. I have hope.

could tell her “Have hope.” But, I speak as a daughter here, it means more to me to see my parents have hope than for them to tell me to have hope. My hope (or lack thereof) speaks louder to her than my words about hope.

Show her you have hope – you trust God with your family, you have hope for her future, you see light in dark places.

2. Live with God rather than for God.

It is common to tell young people to live their lives for God. And though I get the sentiment, I have seen how telling her to live for God can be confusing. The truth is the life she now lives, she lives by faith in Jesus. To tell her to live for God could lead her to try to perform for acceptance rather than living from the acceptance that is already hers in Christ.

God isn’t sitting out in the audience of her life, waiting for her to get things in order. No, he’s standing with her on stage. Even better, he stands within her. Remind her of her kind, compassionate, powerful companion who goes with her wherever she goes.

3. I’m sorry.

Of all the words I’ve ever spoken to my children, these two seem to have had the most powerful impact. Admit you are wrong when you are wrong and own the consequences.

12 things 1

4. Be who you already are.

She needs to be reminded of who she is, not who she is expected to be. In Christ, she is loving, even if she is acting unloving. In Christ, she is patient, even if she is acting impatient. Appeal to her new creation identity rather than simply shaming her for her wrong behavior.

Tell her she is beloved. Tell her she is beautiful. Remind her what is already true. Invite her to live into the truth of who Christ is forming her to be.

5.You can’t save people.

Only God can do that. I grew up with a mom who knew Jesus and a dad who didn’t. So I spent four years of my young life carrying the weight of my dad’s salvation on my shoulders. The story ends well as he accepted Jesus when I was 11. But looking back I realize what a ridiculous expectation I put on myself. Remind her to pray for those who don’t believe, but to never carry the weight of trying to save them on her own.

6. I’m trusting Jesus. Want to join me?

John says this one a lot to our kids (our twin girls are 9 and our son is 6) when our family is in the midst of a transition or facing something potentially scary. It may seem a little corny for older ones, but the message it sends is this – I am trusting God and am okay whether you join me or not. I invite you to join me and would love for you to join me, but the choice is entirely yours. 

I’ve heard it said you can’t make a kid eat, sleep, or use the bathroom. And I’m going to add this: you can’t make a kid trust God. Remind her that your faith is your own and so is hers.

7. You have something to offer the world.

I realize this dances dangerously close to You are a unique snowflake. But it’s kind of true, isn’t it? She is the only one of her there has ever or will ever be. She is made in the image of God and has the distinct privilege of carrying that unique image around in the world. Christ lives within her and will come out of her through the filter of her unique personality. Remind her she has something (lots of somethings, actually) to offer the world. Walk with her as she experiments with what those things might be.

8. I trust Christ in you.

When I was in high school and would have a problem I was trying to work through, my dad would listen and offer advice, but he would often end our talks with this statement: “You know where to go.” He never freaked out, never tried to push me into a decision. He could have said “I trust you” and that would have built my confidence some. But what I knew was that he actually trusted Christ in me – and that is where the mystery Paul speaks about in Colossians 1:27 comes in – Christ is in me. So it’s me, but it’s him, but it’s me, but it’s him – what a beautiful mystery indeed.

For me, knowing my parents trusted me built my confidence – but knowing they trusted Christ in me took the pressure off.

9. You are deeply loved.

Or, to put it a little differently, I like to use these words from Andrew Murray:

why does God love us?

10. You are not alone.

This could be one of the most heartbreaking realities I see among girls – they feel so desperately alone. Remind her you are with her, Christ is with her, and be careful not to try to fix her loneliness. This may be the very intimate place where Jesus could show her his companionship as he never has before.

11. Want to go get some FroYo?

She might roll her eyes. She might say no thanks, Mom. She might rather spend time with her friends. Keep asking. When and if she finally says yes and you have the chance to sit across from her with a cup full of cake-batter flavored frozen yogurt with strawberries and gummy worms on top, look into her eyes and release your own agenda. If she wants to talk about the weather, let her talk about the weather. Be curious. Be open. Be available to her even if it seems like she doesn’t care if you’re available or not.

She does care. She absolutely cares.

12. ________

No, that’s not a typo. Sometimes the one thing our girls need to hear us say is nothing at all. Words mean nothing if our lives don’t speak for us. I am personally aware of how I sometimes use words of belief to cover up for my lack of real belief in my daily life. It’s easier to tell my kids a bunch of things that are true than it is to live as though I believe those things are true.

12 things to tell our daughters

I’m reminded of a story Brennan Manning shared in The Wisdom of Tenderness of the elderly Uncle Seamus who joyfully skipped along the Irish shoreline. And when his nephew asked him, “Uncle Seamus, you look so very happy. Do you want to tell me why?”

And he responded, “Yes, lad. You see, the Father is very fond of me. Ah, me Father is so very fond of me.”

May we be able to speak love into the lives of our girls only and always because our Father speaks love into us – and may we say with Uncle Seamus, the Father is very fond of me.

As I said before, this list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure tomorrow I could come up with 12 more. But since I shared earlier this week one thing your daughter doesn’t need you to say, I thought it only appropriate to offer some things she might need to hear. And if I’m very honest, I need to hear them, too.

12 things your daughter needs you to say

What would you add to the list?

Want a resource to read with the teen girl in your life? I wrote a book called Graceful just for her. Read the first chapter here for free or watch the 3-minute mini-movie

one thing your daughter doesn’t need you to say

In the middle of a radio interview I did last week, the host decided to take calls from listeners. This happens during longer live interviews – the host greets the caller and then hands the reins of the conversation over to me. Might I pause here to point out how this practice evokes equal amounts of panic and excitement into my bones.

I panic because I have absolutely no way to prepare for what a caller might say. This isn’t a problem in normal conversation but on the radio it gets a little tricky. Because after exactly 15 seconds of listening I will be expected to have some kind of “expert” answer which stands in direct opposition to both my personality and the natural way I believe a conversation is suppose to work.

I gag. Still, I realize this is the nature of interviews like this and I accept it as part of the process while I work desperately to avoid ever trying to sound like Dr. Phil by refusing to say statements like “How’s that workin’ for ya?” and “Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy?”

Still, there is also something exciting about having people call in. It’s true, there is no way to prepare for what someone might say, but that’s kind of the fun part. There is no way to prepare for what someone might say!

In a way, this takes the pressure off and frees me up to be myself.

So last week when the host opened it up to callers, I got that familiar ache in my knees I always get when I am anxious and also excited. One of the first callers was a girl, a junior in high school.

profile

After two minutes of listening to her story, it was obvious she was a good girl – dedicated student, obedient daughter, sweet disposition, high anxiety, unrealistic expectations of herself. Her main concern was being a Christian in high school and wanting to be a good example for her friends.

But it was hard, she said, to always be a consistent one.

Then the host turned it over to me.

I made a few observations, told a story about how I could relate – I don’t think anything I said added much to the conversation in that moment, which was fine. This is the downfall of handing over the reins of conversation to an INFJ on a live call – I can usually assess the situation fairly accurately but it takes a lot of time for my observations to reach my mouth.

I tend to just want to ask a question or say, “Hmm, that’s so interesting!”

Which is decidedly not interesting on the radio.

Lucky for me, this particular radio host was deeply invested in the conversation and responded to her in an appropriate way – he told her the worst thing she could do is to try to have it all together in front of her friends.

Instead of trying so hard to be an example, just be honest. “If you struggle,” he said, “say so. If you hurt someone, apologize. Then they really will get to know you and they won’t have reason to call you a hypocrite.”

Brav. O.

When the interview was over, I sat in my room and thought for a few more minutes about the conversation. I kept rolling her words around in my head: “I want to be an example to my friends, but sometimes it’s so hard to be a good one.”

The more I thought about her struggle, the more frustrated I got. I paced my room, made my bed with the excess energy. I thought about what the host said to her and began to think how I would put his response in my own words.

Here’s what I came up with: She isn’t supposed to be an example. Her friends don’t need an example, they need a friend. A real one. An honest one. A touchable one. They  need a friend who doesn’t think she’s better than everyone, but one who knows she isn’t. They need a friend who knows she needs Jesus.

friends

So what about being a leader and setting the example? Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what parents and youth leaders tell students all the time?

The more I think about it, the more I believe this well-meaning statement is not only a manipulative way to try to control our daughters’ behavior, but can also be dangerous to their spiritual health. When we tell her to be an example, we may as well just hand her a mask right there – Here. Hide behind this. Don’t let them see you struggle.

I know that’s not what we mean. I know. But it doesn’t matter so much what we mean, it matters what she hears.

And when she hears adults tell her to be an example, she thinks that means she can never mess up, can never have problems, can never just be a teenager with struggles like everyone else.

She might then mature into a woman who believes being a Christian means having it all together, saying all the “right” things, staying a few steps above everyone else.

She may become a person people look up to, but she will never be someone they can relate to.

She may be successful at managing her behavior, but she will always struggle to manage people’s opinions.

She may have a great reputation, but her character will be clouded with bitterness and anger.

She may be a good church-goer, but she will not know how to be a good friend.

This may keep her out of trouble, but it will suffocate her soul.

But what about holiness?!  I can hear the protests now. Don’t we want her to be a light in a dark place?

Yes. But telling her to be an example won’t let her shine, it will just cause her to shrink.

She already is a light in a dark place, but here is the part most of us forget when we’re telling our teenagers to be an example:

Her light comes from Jesus, not from her awesome behavior.

Do you believe Christ himself has taken up residence within her? Do you trust him with her life – her decisions, her emotions, her relationships? Do you truly believe he goes with her wherever she goes?

If so, then instead of telling her to be an example, how about encouraging her to be herself?

When she is hurt, she can deeply feel it. When she messes up, she can own it. When she hurts someone, she can apologize. When she has doubts, she can voice them. And when she is joyful, it will be from a real place inside her, not a manufactured mask she puts on for show.

jump

If you have a daughter graduating in a few weeks, don’t be afraid. As she packs her bags for her summer trip or her college dorm, encourage her to leave the mask behind.

One Thing Your Daughter Doesn't Need You to Say - Chatting at the Sky

Believe Christ is in her. Believe she already has everything she needs. And for the love, don’t tell her to be an example. Free her up to be herself – a girl who has the living Christ living inside her.

Need a resource or a gift for the high school or college girl in your life? (Or, let’s face it, for your 54-year-old self?) Consider one of the two books I wrote on this very topic: Grace for the Good Girl or Graceful (For Young Women)Both books encourage women of all ages to let go of the try hard life.

UPDATE: I have written somewhat of a follow up post to this one – since I’ve shared one thing your daughter doesn’t need you to say, I thought it only appropriate to offer 12 things she might need to hear. Let’s call it part two. Ish. Thank you for reading – it is a gift to say the very least.

how my mom changed the world :: a mother’s day giveaway

She told me not to touch the Jell-O as it settled in the fridge. It needed time. But I was only a little bigger than 7 and I just wanted a peek. The cherry red shined under the light. Was it wet? Was it gel? One finger in, that’s all it took. One finger to discover if the magic had happened yet.

grace

It hadn’t. I found that out quick as I lost my balance, finger deep in red goo. It came tumbling off the glass shelf, onto the jam and the pickle lids, the linoleum and the pink jelly shoes. But that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is she was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, watching. And I didn’t know it.

There I was, unable to hide the sticky guilt of my disobedience. She could have yelled. She could have lectured. She could have scolded with a pointy finger and a go-t0-your-room. But that isn’t what she did.

Instead, she wore calm like a cloak as she moved towards me, a soft look on her face, love in her green eyes –mercy standing over me. And then, she began to help me clean it up – grace on hands and knees.

The yelling would have been easier to take. But I would have forgotten it.

I got my first glimpse of the power of grace that day in my mother’s kitchen. She didn’t change the whole world, but something shifted inside mine.

It was subtle, but it was powerful, too.

She will be the first to tell you that grace wasn’t always her response. Grace isn’t always my response, either. But for today, I love the reminder that grace leaves a deep impact on a child’s heart. The influence of a mother is a powerful force, one that deserves a celebration.

a mother’s day giveaway!

One winner will receive all of the following gifts:

pink mother's dayCD and Necklace

91215021

sparkly grace

how to enter

One person will win all seven gifts – to give to your mama or to keep for yourself! (Translation: you don’t have to be a mom or have a mom to enter). All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. And of course you can tweet or Facebook for extra entries. Just come back and say you did. When you comment, be sure to include your email address in the email field or we won’t have a way to contact you if you win (your email address will not be made public or used in any other way). An apology to our international readers, but this giveaway is available to US residents only. Winner will be announced Wednesday May 8 by 11 am EST. Happy Mother’s Day week!

UPDATE: Thanks to all who entered – the winner of the giveaway is Laura Boggess!

The content in this post is a re-edited version of a post written for my 31 Days of Grace series.

a book, a post, and a bio for the artist in you

My sister and I have both been writing our blogs for many years now. We often joke with each other, especially after writing a post that took a lot of time and thought, “Welp, my blog is finished! The end. I have absolutely nothing left to say. Ever.”

horse on my laptop

Today is one of those days where I’m not sure I’ll ever have anything to say again. I don’t say that with any anxiety. It happens often enough to where I know it isn’t permanent, but I also know when these days come, the best thing for me to do is to spend some time folding laundry and cleaning my kitchen.

I love those kind of days and I don’t say that sarcastically. Besides, Agatha Christie says the best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes. From the looks of my sink, I will have several books planned by the end of the day.

While I spend some time letting my soul breathe, I wanted to share words from a few artists who have more to say than I do:

1. Matt Appling: Life After Art: What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room

“I went to the art room to teach, but found myself learning something profound, unexpected, even life changing: that the art room’s most enduring and timeless lessons are not for kids learning to paint or draw, but for adults who finally want discover how to live the lives they were created for.”

Well, you know that’s a message I can get behind. Matt’s first book, Life After Art, releases April 1. Watch the trailer and reserve your copy of the book. I’ve read it, endorsed it, and recommend it now to you.

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2. Christa Wells: For the Mother Artist

“There are embers glowing inside you that won’t.go.out even though you have a human critter or two (or five) to care for and really don’t have spare minutes for artistic flame-fanning.

You have a few domestic goddesses in your life and a few childless superstar artists in your periphery, and as my poet-friend Beth Ann Fennelly wrote:

I want membership in both clubs.

If we dedicate heart and soul and all our waking hours, we may at best become “Honorary Members” which feels sort of like a southern “bless-her-heart-she-tries.”

At least, that’s how it feels most days, because there is either:

1. no homemade bread on your counter OR

2. no new song on your piano.  And that, my sisters, is why I write now to YOU.”

She speaks of writing “Held” when she felt small and lonely – and how it counted way before Natalie Grant recorded it. For anyone who struggles with balancing life and art, read this post by Christa.

3. John Blase: The Beautiful Due 

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John Blase has the best about page description of himself I’ve read in a very long time. Maybe ever. I’ve read it different times as I’ve come across his blog, and every time I read it, I tear up. It’s short  and it’s all about him but somehow, it’s about me too. See if you can find yourself in his words.