Bread is the New Hustle

I invited you to procrastinate together with me on Tuesday and you did that so beautifully! You’ll be glad to know I finally got serious about the work and turned in the edits yesterday with a great hoot and holler and a frozen lemonade from Chick-fil-a. And the thing is I don’t even like lemon-y things but the photo made it look so lovely and delicious and celebratory.

So I bought it and drank half and then voxed Holley Gerth and Kendra because they are both people you want to high five when you finish something.

dinner making

Next, I promptly made dinner for the family, convinced the kids that “it’s fun to clean the kitchen!” and sat with John to talk through our weekend plans. Then, I made this list to clear my head.

Master Spring Due

What is actually wrong with me? I couldn’t even enjoy meeting a deadline for 24 hours before I was making a list of all my next deadlines. And it’s one thing if that list was just a list, but it actually kept me up last night, thinking through the timing of things.

This morning I read in Mark 8, about Jesus teaching to the crowd but feeling compassion for the people because “they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance” (Mark 8:2-3).

As if I couldn’t love him any more, reading this reminds me how he pays attention to the particularities of our needs, notices how some of the people were a long way from home and would need to eat before the journey.

How thoughtful and kind.

And then he does his Jesus thing, takes seven loaves and a handful of fish and serves them up like a feast, like a bounty, like a celebration. They eat and are satisfied with baskets left over, men and women laying back on the hillside, bellies full, needs met.

But then Jesus leaves with his disciples, gets into the boat and they realize as he’s talking that they forgot to bring enough bread for the trip. They only have one measly loaf so while Jesus is using bread as a metaphor to remind them to “beware the leaven of Herod” they aren’t paying attention because they are busy mumbling together about how there isn’t enough bread.

We forgot bread! There’s just the one loaf of bread and several of us and we need bread and where is our food going to come from and whatever shall we do because BREAD!

Never mind that Jesus has the power to look at a crumb and feed a nation. Never mind that they had just seen him do that with their very own eyes. Never mind that they didn’t only watch him work that miracle, didn’t merely hand out the bread to the people, but we can only assume they had taken the bread themselves, chewed on the grain, tasted the miracle.

Never mind they were sitting with the Bread of Life in the boat.

bread of life

But instead of rolling his eyes and pushing them all overboard so he could be alone with his sanity, he asks them an interesting question. He reminds them of that one time when he fed 5000 people with five loaves, then asks them how many basket full of broken pieces of bread they had leftover.

They answer, “Twelve.”

Then he reminds them of the meal they just had, when he fed the 4000 people with seven loaves, and asks them how many large baskets full of broken pieces did they pick up.

They answer, “Seven.”

I would have probably said, “Remember how many people I fed!?”

Instead he says, “Remember how much we had leftover?”

He reminds them of the excess.

He reminds them that he didn’t only provide enough, he provided more than enough.

I don’t pretend to know or understand why Jesus did or said many of the things he did and said. I can speculate and guess and use my good Bible exegesis skills I learned from two small years at Bible College.

But I can’t deny here that Jesus was specific about the numbers, about how little they started with and how much they had leftover.

It seems to me his desire was always to move his disciples on to kingdom conversations, but he always had to keep coming back to provision. Are we going to be okay? they seem to always be asking. So he reminds them of the numbers.

Then he answers their question with a question, “Do you not yet understand?”

He’s inviting me into living differently, y’all. He’s inviting and knocking and wooing and I keep looking around distracted for more bread. He’s pointing out the leaven of the Herods of the world, the ones telling me to hurry up and produce and ship, and he’s warning me of how something as small as selfish ambition could ruin the whole batch.

But I can’t hear it because I’m all, Where is the bread! I need me some bread! There isn’t enough. I’m not going to be okay.

But this is the Jesus who had compassion on the crowd because he knew they had a long distance to walk, the Jesus who fed them and then had bread leftover.

Bread was his idea!

Yet, I still feel like it’s my responsibility to remind him that I need to eat. To worry over where the next meal will come from. To point out the lack rather than have faith for the plenty.

I say, “What if You forget I’m hungry, Lord?”

He says, “Why have you forgotten I’m bread?”

And now it begins to come together, why he doesn’t just point out the number of pieces but also points out they were broken pieces.

The excess, the leftovers were baskets filled, not with whole loaves of bread, but with broken pieces. Because the miracle comes at a cost. Why am I always forgetting the point?

He invites broken people to come and feast on broken bread and the excess is a reminder of the miracle.

I won’t stop making lists, I won’t. But I’m desperate to stop shaking them in God’s face, to stop reminding him to meet my need in my way and in my timing, with whole loaves of bread.

This morning, I hear it, the invitation to hold the bread in my hands, to see my day with kingdom eyes, to feast on him, to move forward with the energy that comes from eating the broken pieces. This is My body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.

Let’s Procrastinate Together, Shall We?

top o the morning

Happy Tuesday, friends! I love this sunny morning photo of our son walking to school a few days ago. And it also makes me want to sing “top of the morning to you, ‘disa! You smoothie me ice cold pizza” all day because doesn’t it? Mandisa? Toby Mac anyone?

Well it’s Tuesday so it seems only fitting that my second round of edits for Simply Tuesday are due today. I made it through the first round with Andrea, my editor. She’s the first one to read the words once they’re finished and helps to clean it up so it makes actual sense. She will say big picture type of things like this whole chapter doesn’t make sense or this isn’t anything like what we talked about eight months ago.

simply tuesday edits

Thankfully this time, she didn’t say either one of those things, but we had that first round of am-I-on-the-right-track-with-this-concept-and-narrative-arc edits in January. Once she approved those, the manuscript moved on to the brilliant editors who have the great task of making sure I don’t insult the entire English-speaking world  by telling me “Emily, it’s not relate with it’s relate to.” 

What?! I always say relate with and also that’s one not-so- great thing about blogging is I don’t have an editor to read every blog post and tell me how to use my words right so I’ve developed some terrible habits.

Of course since I have this huge deadline this week, I’m doing things like writing a blog post about edits, rearranged my mantel, and watched John hang shelves. If you’re like me and have a lot of work to do but keep only talking about the work instead of finishing the work, let’s take our cues from Amy, shall we?

“You lean over the computer and stretch and pace. You write and then cook something and write some more. You put your hand on your heart and feel it beating and decide if what you wrote feels true. You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. This is what I know.”

Amy Poehler, Yes Please

Editing isn’t nearly as fun as writing (notice how I call writing “fun” only because I’m not technically writing today), but the same rules apply. Doing is the thing. So let’s do the thing, shall we? (I’m talking to myself here).

Except one last thing.

I have started to sift through all of your responses to the Reader Survey you took last week and once I twirl my hair for a while and clean out my closets and count the fibers in my carpet and finally turn these edits in, I can’t wait to read your responses to one question in particular:

“If you and I could hang out for a day, what would you want to do or talk about?”

If you didn’t get a chance to fill out the survey before it closed but want to answer that question in the comments, I’d love to hear.

P.S. To those of you who tried to read the words on my computer screen in the photo above, I love you. You are my people. Amen.

So what are you putting off today? What would we talk about if we could hang out this afternoon instead of doing our work?

Spring 2015 Reader Survey

S-3 copy

Hello kind reader! I’m so thankful you choose to spend a bit of your time here with me at Chatting at the Sky. And while I feel like you know a fair amount about me, I would love to know more about you.

Would you be willing to take a couple of minutes to answer a few questions to help me get to know you better? Your answers will help me know ways I might better serve you in your particular season of life. Thanks so much!

takethesurvey

The Surprising Truth About Finding My Calling

When John and I first brought our twins home from the hospital, I was secretly horrified that the doctors let us take home these tiny baby girls born seven weeks too early. Shouldn’t a responsible grown up be in charge?

3 Surprising Lessons I Learned When Finding My Calling

We didn’t feel capable but we didn’t have time to wait for our feelings to catch up with our reality. There was too much work to do.

When it comes to finding my calling as a writer, I have made several surprising discoveries similar to how I felt as a new parent.

1. A feeling of competency and arrival may never come.

At first I waited for it, then I thought maybe I got this whole calling thing wrong since I still felt so inadequate. Now, I see this can be a gift if I want it to be. I refuse to wait to feel qualified, certified, or professional.

Instead, I’ve given myself permission to work from a small, curious, and willing place. From here, I watch countless brave strugglers doing the work of art around me and I’m happy to be among them.

2. Embracing my limitations is better than fighting them.

There is a temptation to think if I only had more time, energy, money, or talent then I could finally reach my potential. But I’m learning the importance of listening to my limits to see what they might have to teach me.

Instead of holding me back from what I think I should be doing, perhaps they can lead me forward into the work meant just for me.

3. The work I love and choose is still work. 

I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I’m living in step with my calling. Still, as much as I love what I do, it helps to remember that it’s still work. The great writers I admire don’t wake up feeling inspired or breathing out sparkly dust of wisdom and talent.

They wake up needing coffee and a shower just like I do. And then they get to work. Often their process looks like a lot of hair twirling, window staring, and procrastinating. But they don’t give up. They persevere through the boredom, the discouragement, and the distractions to create work that matters.

I may admire and learn from others, but I don’t disrespect their work by romanticizing their process. Work we love is still hard work. It helps me to remember that.

This week my friend Jeff Goins released a free ebook on NoiseTrade about finding your calling. He invited 15 people with different voices and perspectives to answer just one question: What’s one surprising lesson you’ve learned about finding your calling?

This post is my answer to that question as well as my contribution to the ebook. When you download it for free, you can read what Seth Godin, Sarah Mae, Joshua Becker, Bob Goff, and several others had to say.

If you are in a season of longing to figure out your own calling, be sure to check out my most recent book on calling and creativity, A Million Little Ways. You might also enjoy Jeff’s newest book, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do - coming in March.

The 10 Best Books I Read Last Year

Here are some of my favorite books I read last year. (To get more lists of great books, you can check out Anne Bogel’s post where she shared her favorites and invited others to share theirs.) To be clear, these aren’t books released last year, simply ones I read and enjoyed. For perspective, I only read about 30 books total, so here are my top third in random order:

My Favorite Books of 2014

 

The Antelope in the Living Room

The Antelope in the Living Room

by Melanie Shankle

Melanie’s memoir about motherhood is on my Recommended Reads list and now this one about marriage is a new favorite as well. I don’t read many books that make me laugh which may be why I enjoy Melanie’s writing so very much.

The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson

The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way

by Eugene Peterson

I read this one carefully with a pen and a notebook beside me. Peterson leads the way on an in-depth look at all the ways Jesus is the way, challenging the ways of the modern American church. He explores the ways of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Mary; also Caiaphas, Josephus, and Herod, comparing and contrasting them with the kingdom way of Jesus. As I’ve studied and pondered leaning into my own smallness, this book was a key reference and encouragement for me.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking

by Joan Didion

This is the first book I read by Joan Didion. Her story has held on and won’t let go. She allows us to crawl inside her grief after her husband suddenly died in front of her. I knew it would be sad, but what I didn’t expect was how difficult it would be to put down. If I remember right, the ending left me feeling slightly empty, but the journey of the book made up for it. I plan to read a second title of hers this year.

The Seven Storey Mountain

The Seven Storey Mountain

by Thomas Merton

Full disclosure, this book took me over a year to finish with lots of stops and starts. It’s the thickest book I read this year (462 pages if you must know) but I read every word and took notes. Since I’m not Catholic, I most likely missed a lot of the important references. But I connected with Merton’s struggle  with self, faith, and vocation and the relatable, honest way he shared it. Stunning writing, thoughtful perspective, surprisingly relevant.

Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts

by Ian Morgan Cron

In the fall I had to drive to Charlotte twice a week for a month (about 2 hours one way). I chose this audio book from the library for company to help me pass the time. It did so much more than that. I actually looked forward to waking up at 4 am for the drive so I could listen to Ian Morgan Cron (who’s voice sounds like the guy who narrates The Wonder Years) tell his story. While my curiosity about his dad being in the CIA was what initially hooked me, his ability to weave a story with threads of grace, memory, forgiveness, and humor is what left a lasting impression.

Where'd You Go Bernadette?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

by Maria Semple

I read this one in a day or so over spring break and it came at just the right time for me. I was in a place where I wanted to say no to all the things, in desperate need of a break. Bernadette was kind, lighthearted company for me in that season. Perhaps it makes the list based more on my experience reading it than the actual content of the book, but really how can you separate the two?

Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersley

 Breathing Room: Letting Go So You Can Fully Live

by Leeana Tankersley

During a time when I really needed some breathing room, I read Leeana’s book. She speaks the kind of soul language I’m always looking for but rarely find, the kind that comes from thoughtful silence, faithful waiting, and long, dark nights. When life feels like an airplane emergency, she comes along and reminds us – put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others. I needed that reminder. She is a writer who encourages us to be fully human as we turn to Christ.

The Memoir Project

The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life

by Marion Roach Smith

Not just for writing memoir, this book is for any writer who simply wants to practice their craft. Short, thoughtful, and motivating. I want to read this one every year and recommend it to every writer I know.

Learning to Walk in the Dark

 Learning to Walk in the Dark

by Barbara Brown Taylor

After becoming uncomfortable with the assumption that good things are associated with lightness and evil things are associated with darkness, Barbara Brown Taylor began to study darkness and all the ways God meets us there, when we are unsure and when things are unseen. I checked this one out at the library but after finishing it I promptly added it to my list of books I’d like to own.

511NytpsX4L

Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers and Reflections

by Macrina Wiederkehr

My spiritual director introduced me to this book. It’s a book of prayers so I haven’t read it all the way through, but I was introduced to it this year and I keep it close by every morning. Her prayers are simple, thoughtful, and poetic.


I could have easily chosen more but since I narrowed it down to 10, I will include these as Honoroble Mentions:

It’s fun to talk about books, isn’t it? If you’d like to see the books I’m currently reading, I share them regularly on The Bench, my monthly newsletter. Sign up here to get the next one in your inbox next Tuesday, January 13.

What was your favorite book last year?

How I Plan to Stay Sane on the Internet in 2015

Over the past year or so, I’ve been listening to the low, rolling hum around the Internet. It comes in as a wave on the shore of the cyber beach every few years, depositing questions and doubt like flotsam after a storm. You’ve heard it, too: the whispered rumor that blogging is dead.

It’s an important conversation for those of us who read and write blogs. It feels a little like that first time we watched The Sixth Sense – wait, he was dead the whole time? How did I not see that?! There’s a little niggling in the back of my mind – Does all this still matter?

How I Plan to Stay Sane on the Internet

Though I know people have been asking the question for years now, 2014 was the first year I began to wonder if they were right. Is it over? Have we been dumped for Instagram and are too stubborn to admit it?

As I’ve been working on this post for over a week now (does that tell you anything about my process? I need blog writing to stay alive! I can’t think fast enough for anything else!) I saw a post Tsh wrote on this very subject in her state of the blog address. I almost considered scratching this half-written post and just telling you to read hers because she says everything so well.

Instead, I will tell you to read hers and read mine, too.

I needed to take the time to work through this in my own way. So I did the opposite of the Internet and took a walk on New Year’s Day, looked up and down and all around and thought about some of these things.

Now I want to think through them with you, okay? Okay.

Regardless of what changes, grievances, or transitions we might need to make, here are some things I know for sure about us (and by us I mean you and me):

We want more connecting and less competing.

We want more laughter and less shame.

We want more love and less fear.

Did I get that right so far?

This January marks the nine year anniversary of Chatting at the Sky. I started quietly writing here  when I was pregnant with our third baby, in the cracks of time I could find while taking care of twin toddlers. I needed an outlet for my scattered brain, a place to put thoughts I knew wouldn’t disappear, and to connect with a few friends who had blogs, too.

the girls 2009 and 2014

Now nine years, three books, and a lot of blog posts later, here we are.

I know a lot has changed in these nine years, both among blogs as a whole and here in this space. I know we aren’t going back to the old days when the comment box was filled with chatter, when you could write something online and know you had a good chance of being heard, and when most of the blog posts you read sounded like real humans wrote them.

With all the noise, we have to work harder than before to remember why we do this.

First, though, I wanted to say this: I’m hopeful about the future for blog writing.

How I Plan to Stay Sane on the Internet

Call me a romantic, but I still think writing on a blog is one of the most important things I do as a writer.

I still think it’s the greatest medium for communicating, for story-telling, for writing through what you think about things.

I still think it’s one of the most lovely outlets for an extraverted introvert like me who loves people but needs a little time to think before I say words to them.

This is where I discovered that I am, in fact, a writer. This is where I work out what I believe. This is where all my books were born and how I’ve met some of my favorite people in the world (the world, I tell you!)

Though it may seem like an oxymoron, consistently writing and reading blogs can offer kind company for our souls and help to encourage intentionality, slowness, and listening.

Here’s why.

Early last month, Steff Green wrote a post on ProBlogger giving examples of how blogging is changing and what you can do about it. This observation of hers stuck out to me:

“With social media platforms becoming the online communication too du jour, and with smartphones and other devices becoming for many the preferred platform, blogs have fallen to the wayside in favour of shorter, punchier messages specifically tailored to hit a reader’s buttons.” – from Is Blogging Dead?

This is one of my biggest motivations to keep writing on a blog.

Continuing to write here at Chatting at the Sky is my soul’s own quiet rebellion against the fast-moving world.

I write because I need room for my soul to breathe. And sometimes I have to write my way into that space.

I need a steady, consistent, and reliable online place that will serve my own soul in this quiet way. I bet you need that, too.

For me, that means embracing the short, punchier forms (because they’re fun and a great way to connect) but not at the expense of the longer-form blog writing, my first writing love.

But that doesn’t mean I plan to party like it’s 2008. I want to move with the changes rather than fight against them.

Here’s what staying sane on the Internet means for me, both as a reader of blogs and a writer of one:

As a reader:

  • Unsubscribe: I’ve unsubscribed from everything except my top, most favorite, can’t-miss blogs. That means I only regularly read less than 10. And it’s delightful.
  • Round Ups: I glance at weekly roundups to see what other writers have found that I’ve missed in various spaces.
  • Fun: Pick the shorter forms out of love and fun, rather than fear of missing out. My favorite is Instagram because 1) I love photos  2) It’s a great way to stay connected to friends and writers alike even though I may not read all their posts 3) It’s fun!
  • Rescue Time: I’ve installed Rescue Time on my computer so I can easily see how much of my time online is productive vs. distracting. Super helpful.
  • Identify panic triggers: When I’m online and feel my soul start to shake on the inside from a low-grade scattered panic, I ask myself why. I don’t have a great solution for this yet (sans shutting off the computer) but I’m starting to pay attention. For those of us who work online, turning the computer off isn’t always an option. So I’m paying attention to the panic triggers.

Those are a few ways I’m practicing sanity in my online reading habits.

When it comes to actually writing online, I started to record some tips that help me but discovered after listing them they felt hollow. Instead, I took some time to really listen to my desire, to the why behind this blog, and what that means for me as a writer. Here’s what came up to the surface:

As a writer:

  • I will tell stories.
  • I will be myself.
  • I will remember it’s “better to write for yourself and have no public than write for the public and have no self.” (Cyril Connolly)
  • I will refuse to romanticize the writing life.
  • I will write to connect, not compete.
  • I will remember fear is a normal part of the process, but courage gets the final say.
  • I will remember how ego feels pushy and afraid but calling feels kind and free. Most of the time.
  • I will remember people write online for a million little reasons and I will respect them theirs.
  • I will practice writing words I can’t take back.
  • I will refuse to write from a frantic place of hurry.
  • I will be gentle with myself when I choose to hurry anyway.
  • I will be relentlessly helpful to the souls of others.
  • I will write as a kind companion rather than a truth machine.
  • I will let love lead.
  • I will not be a jerk.

Though these are personal to me, perhaps they resonate with you as well. If so, I’ve included them in a simple PDF for you to download or print as you wish: A Manifesto – How to Write on the Internet Without Losing Your Mind. Maybe they’ll help you stay sane on the internet, too.

A Writer's Manifesto How to Write on the Internet Without Losing Your Mind

Blogging is only as dead as you treat it. I plan to have many more years of writing here, of carving out a little space in the corner to sit on a bench and connect with you. So here’s to 2015 – the year we learn to stay sane on the Internet. I hope you’ll continue to join me.

I want to be kind company this year, both for your soul and for mine. Sometimes we forget to be kind to ourselves, don’t we? If this sounds good to you and you don’t want to miss a post, you can sign up here to get them delivered directly into your inbox.

If that makes you feel crazy, maybe you’d prefer something a bit more infrequent but equally as encouraging. If so, you can join me on The Bench and receive my once-a-month newsletter (2nd Tuesday of the month).

Both options come with a free copy of my ebook Seven Little Ways to Live Art, sharing one way every day to take a soul breath.

I would love to hear how you’re staying sane on the Internet, both as a reader and a writer. Leave a comment here or join the conversation on Facebook.

Simple Gifts to Encourage the Soul

Simple Gifts for the SoulHere is a collection of some of my favorite things in my house right now. These are things that help my soul breathe, some in more obvious ways than others. But I wanted to share them with you incase you have someone in your life who might enjoy one of these simple gifts. Or maybe that someone is you!

Gifts to Create Space for Souls to Breathe

Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers and Reflections by Macrina Wiederkehr – My spiritual director reads aloud from this book nearly every time we meet. Macrina’s words have been a kind companion for my soul during this season, including this simple prayer, “O God, help us to believe the truth about ourselves no matter how beautiful it is.”

A bowl from the Goodwill – The easiest gift to find and give, a fifty-cent bow from your favorite thrift shop makes a lovely gift for someone who needs to remember their soul is made to receive from God rather than achieve for God. Hold it with both hands in prayer and remember to ask for daily bread.

Mortar & Stone by Jill Philips – Thoughtful music for anyone who needs to remember hope.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras – Taking photos helps me see. For anyone who wants to take a long walk without the distractions of their iPhone (and its handy camera), this lens makes for a nice extra set of eyes. I’ve used it for over seven years on my old Nikon d80 and love it. For the price you can’t really beat it.

To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue – This book of blessings makes a great gift for a new friend or family member, especially if they are in a time of transition.

Woodwick Candle, Medium, Evening Bonfire – My sister introduced me to these candles. They have a wooden wick so they make crackling sounds when lit. A simple pleasure with a fragrance that fills the house.

Monogram Mugs – I have a weakness for mugs, I do. This one is from Target but I haven’t seen the gold initials there in a month or so. The closest thing I could find are the ones I’ve linked to here from Anthropologie. They are a little fancier than my simple “e” but serve the same purpose.

Soft-bound black journal – Full disclosure, I haven’t used this one yet. But I have 2 of them because I know I’m going to love the soft-bound cover and the graph paper lines. My friend Kendra recommends these and I always love what she recommends.

Uni-ball Signo Impact 207 Pen – These are my favorite pens right now, perfect for morning pages. Make sure they say “impact” or they won’t have the same, er, impact. Trust me on this.

You may also want to check out this list from a few years ago: 10 Free Gifts to Give and Receive. And for the book lovers, here is an on-going list of some of my favorite recommended reads. Happy gifting!

*some affiliate links are included in this post

A Peek at My Bookshelves

my bookshelves

Over the last few years, I’ve become better acquainted with our local library but that hasn’t yet stopped me from accumulating all the books. So when Anne Bogel (aka Modern Mrs. Darcy aka The Media Specialist of the Internet) asked me to share my bookshelves, I was happy to. She has a fun series called Other People’s Bookshelves that I always enjoy reading and today, I’m sharing mine. So head on over to her blog to see more of my rainbow shelves and what I’m currently reading.

hello, friends.

I thought about titling this post “Remember When I Used to Write on a Blog?” but that felt a little negative and self-indulgent in a weird sort of way (self-indulgent: a word I can never use without hearing Simon Cowell in my head).I 85 from CharlotteSo I’m just going with hello, friends. I’ve missed writing in this space more regularly. But October is coming and you know what that means? That’s right. 31 days of writing – a post every day. Can you handle it?!

Here are the series I’ve done in the past:

2010: 31 Days of Grace

31 Days of Grace

Because I have more to say about grace than anything else so it only made sense. Plus I was writing Grace for the Good Girl at the time so that was the only topic I thought about, ever.

2011: 31 Days to Change the World

chatting-at-the-sky

This was also the year Grace for the Good Girl released and the year I turned in Graceful.  We were a little ambitious in 2011.

2012: 31 Days to Hush

31-days-to-hush2-700x233

After a full and difficult 2011, I desperately needed some space. I was working on my third book at that time and October was a particularly discouraging time in my writing. I wanted to join in on 31 days, but the only thing I was motivated to do was to be quiet and listen. So I wrote about that.

And for 5 whole days of it I didn’t write at all because hush. #brilliant.

2013: 31 Days of Living Art

artful-living

This was last year’s series and it coincided perfectly with the release of A Million Little Ways, that book I finally was able to finish. I probably had the most fun writing this one but it was also the most work.

And so here is the place where I’m supposed to tell you what I’m going to write about this year and invite you to read along. But I don’t really know the answer to that yet. The only thing I have is a deep desire to write more consistently here. And October is a great time to do it.

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In fact, this year my sister has rolled out a brand new website designed just for us 31 Dayers. If you’re thinking of writing on your own blog everyday in October you should definitely check it out and join in.

Meanwhile (a word I can’t say without remember I used to think it was meanwild – didn’t everyone?) I will continue to take notes and jot down ideas.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have any topics or thoughts in particular on what might encourage you from me here in October. Trust me, it could be anything. I’m debating writing about TV, kittens, and Oreos for the whole month because that would be fun, adorable, and delicious.

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Seriously, though. I just want to write out a few simple lines and share a lovely image everyday next month. That may be all there is to it. It may not have a fancy name or an interesting catch.

But it will be me and there will be you and I will be writing here again. And I just wanted you to know.

What We’re Really Hungry For :: by Emily T. Wierenga

Today I’m welcoming author Emily T. Weirenga to share from her new book, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. I met Emily for the first time last year and the first word that came to mind was gentle. Hers is a gentle, kind soul. Read her words and see what I mean.

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We were newlyweds.

I was anorexic.

Trent came home one day to find me crying on the couch about the living room—about how off-kilter and ugly it looked with our second-hand furniture—and I hadn’t eaten since the night before.

He put his arms around me. “Let me make you supper,” he said—this farm-boy I’d met in Bible School, who drove a car he called The Beast and volunteered at kids club.

I nodded, kissed him. Grabbed a bag of marshmallows and headed into the office to paint at my easel.

Half an hour later Trent called me for supper. He had made burgers, corn on the cob, and “fancy” salad (which is what he calls salad with grated carrots, cheese, onions, bacon and croutons).

I emerged from the office, my mouth white, the marshmallow bag empty. I sat down at the table, looked at the plate full of food, and said, “I’m not hungry.”

I don’t know why he didn’t leave me then and there.

I’d been so hungry I’d stuffed myself with marshmallows, instead of waiting half an hour for food that would sustain me. All I could hear was the scratch of Trent’s fork on his plate as he ate.

It was the beginning of a three-year relapse into anorexia which would nearly wreck our marriage, and it wasn’t until we left our jobs and moved to Korea that I would begin to eat three meals a day, again.

Because sometimes it takes moving to another country to see what you have right in front of you.

I’m better now. I’m eating now—I never skip a meal, and I have two little boys whom doctors said I’d never be able to have, because of the damage anorexia did on my body.

And I’m wondering how many of us settle for the marshmallows when what we’re really hungry for is food that will last?

How many of us, sisters, sit down with a pint of ice cream after a stressful day, or binge on Oreos after the kids go to bed? How many of us try diet after diet but end up filling on junk because we’re just so hungry?

I think of Jesus at the well, with the Samaritan woman. How he asked her for water—but then offered her Living Water in return. He offers us Living Bread—his body.

Because this is what we’re hungry for, isn’t it?

A love so deep and long and wide and high it fills every crevice of our souls; a kind of love that would die for us, a kind that sings over us, a kind that walks through fire with us?

We are born longing for the kind of affection only a divine being can offer. We are born aching for the kind of fullness which comes from an everlasting love.

But it’s not a bag of marshmallows. It’s not fast fame or fleeting praise or accolades.

No, it’s a slow cooked meal and we need to wait, to be patient, as this is the kind of love prepared by a gentle pair of hands which feeds our soul.

Trent still makes me fancy salads. He still makes burgers and corn on the cob and I no longer eat marshmallows. Because I’ve tasted real food and there’s no turning back.

There’s no turning back from love.
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All proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.

emily wierengaEmily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look.

She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com.