As we began settling back into our home area last month, we found all sorts of mail and packages that had arrived for us while we were gone. Coming home from being gone a year is fun that way. Like Christmas in February.
The contents of four of those packages wound their way into my heart, and onto my bookshelf. They came from sweet, real-life blogging friends.
They were their very own books, finally published, there in living color. I held them in my hands and felt such joy and delight in each of them and the writing they do.
I know these women. They’re the real thing. The messages they write about? They live them, too.
They each have passionate messages, that resonate from deep within them, bubble up in an overflow of painstakingly crafted blog posts, and now in pages we thumb through and find fellowship and encouragement and inspiration from.
Allow me to introduce you to four of my friends, and their beautiful messages…
This one is up first, because I read it most recently, and it just launched, literally on April Fool’s Day (surprise!).
Also, I just spent last weekend hanging out with Lisa-Jo at the Raising Generations Today conference, where we had a blast getting to know one another a little better, and I only wished she lived close enough to come over for afternoon tea.
I could say so many things about this lovely book from Lisa-Jo’s tender mama heart, but I would rather show you the book trailer, and remind you of what a treasure, what a wonder, what a superhero each of you mamas are.
Like I said… superheroes.
This book found itself on my Kindle back when we were traveling, in Turkey to be exact.
It resonated with me deeply, because Tsh and think alike about so many aspects of life.
She shares how living abroad challenged her and her husband Kyle to learn to live a slower, more intentional life, even here in hectic North America.
How she and her family want to swim upstream, against the cultural currents of more stuff, more busyness, more media, more stress, more on our to-do lists, more rushing, and ultimately, less living.
She began to wonder, what if we could slow down enough to really savor life, to suck out all the sweet marrow? What if we took the time to consider what was important to us as a family, what made us come alive, what held meaning and purpose for us, and what we valued… and then, we lived accordingly?
Her words kept ringing in my ears, long after I finished reading it, but as we continued to traverse the globe with our kids, engaging in different cultures, meeting new people, learning to see through fresh eyes, and envisioning our lives anew, once we returned home.
Our family is still very much in the midst of that journey, of learning what it means to live with even more intention and purpose, as we settle back in to North American life, but with changed hearts.
If you are dissatisfied with living a status quo life, with following the culture, with being so busy that you don’t know how to really stop and live and LOVE your life, then I think her words will speak to your heart.
(And also, I love this because Tsh and her family are preparing to embark on a journey very much like ours, around the globe, with their three young kids in tow. They share that same love of travel, and I cannot wait to follow them as they take off on their own crazy, wonderful work trek.)
For so many years I admired Crystal, but thought that she was somehow unlike me, with superhuman self-discipline, the ability to “do it all” and a God-given gift for waking up insanely early in the morning. I couldn’t understand how she was able to do so many good and important things, and still have energy and time left to play and read with her kids, go on dates with her husband, and spend time with friends and family.
In coming to know her personally over the past 4 years, I have learned that she is actually every bit as normal and human as I am, and has even had her own seasons of burnout.
Thankfully she is a far faster learner than I am, and she came out on the other side with a better understanding of herself, and the realization that she could achieve her goals and do the things that mattered most to her by living a simple, organized, disciplined life, with healthy doses of self-care (and sleep!), saying no often, using her time wisely, and really knowing who she was and what she was made for.
It’s not that she “does it all” (such a fallacy… none of us do). Far from it. It’s that she knows what matters to her, and how to organize her time and life in a way that allows her to joyfully be the best HER that she can be.
She challenges me to be more intentional, to get more sleep (amen, hallelujah), to use my strengths, to say no without guilt, and to be who God made me to be. If you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed, tired, and stressed, I bet her book will do the same for you.
I had somehow missed hearing about Emily’s new book while I was traveling, and was pleasantly surprised to find it waiting for me when I returned. Emily is a sweet soul, and a dear friend, and I was excited to read her words, whatever they were about.
I started reading the book the weekend I flew to New York to speak at a conference. That sounds really classy and fancy and professional or something. But did I mention I was terrified? And a totally stress case over it?
Late one night, awake with jet-lag induced insomnia in my hotel room, I was reading her words about the art that resides in each one of us. The beauty that God placed in us, each one unique, each one with something special to offer to the world, and how in a million little ways, we display His glory and handiwork.
I didn’t stop being nervous about my speaking gig. But I did take courage. I was grateful for the reminder that deep inside me was something that I was meant to share, in my own way, my own voice, with my own gifts.
For some reason, that particular weekend, it included standing in front of a room of women, trying to steady my breath, calm my voice and slow my heart while I was center stage for 50 minutes. Which sounded really awful to me. But I also knew deep in my heart that God had a purpose for it, and this was just a little piece of His art that was supposed to come out of me.
Who would have thought that encouraging women to eat and live better little by little, and steward what they’ve been given, and trust it all in God’s hands was art?? And yet it is. And it was.
And so are all of the little things we do, day after day, that honor the magnificence with how He made each one of His children. How we lovingly cook and present a meal for our family, how we listen thoughtfully to a friend, how we smile at another mom in the grocery store with a child in full tantrum mode, how we sew a blanket for that new baby, how we pray and write letters to children halfway around the world.
Art. All of it.
So says Emily. And I think she’s right.