Tag Archives: emily p. freeman

5 Things I Learned In November

5 things I learned in november

1. I actually really like wearing scarves. I found one from fashionABLE (if you’re not already familiar with them, you should definitely check them out!) this year that I love and have been wearing constantly. And I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

2. I started reading the Mary Poppins book series and they are crazy fun! It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, so I have no idea why I haven’t ever read the books before. AND, did you know that there’s a new movie coming out (Saving Mr. Banks) about the author of Mary Poppins and how the story got turned into a movie? I’m a little excited about it!

3. My theology is less than perfect. Sometimes I fear it may be more than just a little out of whack. But God is still sovereign. And there’s sweet grace in the correction.

4. The afternoon at the barn with Emily P. Freeman and her sister, the Nester, and their families was so worth it. If you haven’t read my post about it yet, you should. And now I’m trying to figure out how to make available a few hours of more intentional soul space on a regular basis. Because it’s important. And necessary.

5. One of the things I am most thankful for (all the time really, but especially in this current season) is the constancy of Christ.

What did you learn in November?

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*linking up today with Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky as we all share different things we learned in November*

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At the Barn 2013

An afternoon at the barn.

Hosted by Emily P. Freeman and her husband, John, her sister, Myquillyn (also known as The Nester) and her husband, Chad, and their parents, Gary and Brenda Morland.

A small gathering in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that promised to be full of stories, music, and conversation to encourage awakeness of mind and soul to living art and Christ-honoring vision.

That was the invitation.

One that I was all too excited to accept.

Even though I only have what I’m more often referring to these days as barely a hint of a vision. The hazy beginnings of a dream that I’m not at all certain of, but that I’m [often imperfectly] trusting the Lord to unfold.

atthebarn1

When Saturday came, I was nervous. But I also knew there was something in this. Something I needed to see. Something I needed to hear. Something I needed to experience.

And The Barn did not disappoint. It was altogether lovely. In a quiet and thoughtful and peaceful sort of way.

Though I’m not convinced I executed my attendance perfectly.

I met two women from Virginia on the sidewalk right before the doors opened and they readily welcomed me into their little group. They were friendly and delightful and made the day so much more fun! But I could have mingled more. I could have talked more. I could have shared more. I could have asked questions more.

But instead. I listened. I watched.

And you know what? It may not have been perfect. But it was good.

atthebarn2

It was good to be an observer for an afternoon. Of people. Of beauty. Of art. Of Christ.

It was good to be a fully engaged listener without the pressure to process out loud, to figure everything out, to respond immediately (or even at all).

As I was getting ready to head out, I stopped Emily to say thank you, but I told her I couldn’t quite put my thank you fully into words … because I couldn’t quite express the depth of my gratitude for this afternoon of soul awakeness.

And do you know what she said? “That’s okay. You don’t have to.”

And the same freedom that surrounded the entire afternoon event was somehow wrapped up in that statement.

Because this afternoon wasn’t about a “supposed to” or a “should”.

atthebarn3

It was about leaning into the truth that we were created in the image of this Creator God. And when we make art with our lives – not just of the traditional variety, but when we do the things that make us come fully alive – Christ comes out and is glorified.

And I came to The barn desperate for that freedom, desperate for that truth. And in a season of life where I feel as though I’m clinging to Christ out of sheer weakness and total desperation more often than not, these words were perhaps the most needed and most beautiful:

“You can’t get too desperate for Christ.” – John Freeman

The afternoon At the Barn gave me soul space that my too-full calendar and over-committed self have all but pushed out.

Space to breathe, to listen, to intentionally lean further into Christ, to acknowledge some desires He’s placed on my heart, to just sit with those desires and to pay attention to them, to ponder, to reflect, to give them back to Him.

Space to be reminded of my eternally secure identity (an image bearer of the most High God), to be reminded of my purpose (to glorify Him), to be reminded that being is more important than doing, but that some of the doing allows Christ to come out of us because He’s designed us to reflect Him well through our unique expressions of art … in A Million Little Ways.

And for that space At the Barn, I am grateful.

5 Things I Learned in September

5Things - student ministry

1. I can survive a high school ministry lock-in as a leader. And though I may be a little more tired than usual for the following few days, I can love every minute of it because I love them. From the Amazing Race to the GaGa ball tournament to the straight up Gospel presentation at about 1am to the fabulous conversations, we couldn’t have asked for a better night!

2. All “Johnnies” pretty much talk the same. I’m reading “Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World” by N.D. Wilson (who obtained his masters degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD) and it sounds just like having a great conversation with my big brother (who obtained his undergrad degree from St. John’s).

3. Speaking of reading, I’ve discovered how much I really enjoy being a part of book launch teams. Three books in about six weeks (just wait. two more book reviews are coming over the next couple of weeks.) may have been a bit much, but still, all kinds of fun. Working with such generous and genuine authors and having the opportunity to read and share about good books is pretty much a win all the way around.

4. All of my commitments have come under serious scrutiny this month. Basically because I may have slightly over-committed and needed to scale back before I burned-out. So I’ve learned (or maybe I’m still learning…) that what I say “yes” to is important, but what I say “no” to is often equally as important.

And so although it makes me feel a little sad and a little left out, I’m saying no to writing another 31 Days series this October (previous series can be found here and here).

I’ve got a lot going on right now (including going back to Guatemala for a 5 day mission trip next month. woot!), and this is a necessary “no” for my sanity and restedness.

5. And this became one of my favorite songs:

“Our Deliverer. You are Savior. In Your presence we find our strength. Over everything. Our redemption. God with us. You are God with us.”
– God With Us (by All Sons and Daughters)

What did YOU learn in September?

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*linking up today with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky as her community shares different things we learned in September*

I got nothin’…

As I approached today’s post, I originally thought, “I got nothin'”…

i got nothin

But if you follow me on twitter (and if you don’t, you’re missing out on things like my favorite juice and my commentary on the Oscars, so you should. I’m @emily_gallimore.), you know that I sometimes share links to meaningful posts or articles from others.

While I don’t usually share those in this space, there were a few posts this week that I found so gripping and compelling, that I couldn’t help but mention them here…

1) why i stopped feeling guilty about stupid things by Emily P. Freeman

I spend far too much energy feeling guilty over things that just plain don’t matter in the scheme of eternity, and I struggle with owning the choices I make to spend time doing one thing over another. I still can’t really put into words how much this post spoke truth into my heart regarding both.

2) Part 1: I Met Jesus in the Sistine Chapel by Stephanie May

Stephanie was part of the team I served with in Guatemala last month. She has a beautiful heart and a powerful story. This is one small part of that story and will leave you wanting to hear more. And while you’re at it, check out the related story behind her blog’s title.

3) Perfect is a Poison by Jon Acuff

If you struggle with perfectionism as I do, this short post is so true and such a great reminder: “Done is better than perfect.”

Have you read anything worth sharing this week?

A Letter to My Teenage Self

{so i’m more like 19 here. and taking a break from writing a paper at 1am. but close enough.}

Dear 16-year-old me,

You’re almost 17, and I know you feel like a hot mess of emotions right now, but your little brother died less than 3 months ago, and it’s okay to not be okay and to let yourself grieve. There are so many people around you who love you … who are committed to keeping up with you and praying you through. When they offer to take you out or offer an ear to just listen, they mean it. It’s okay to take them up on their offers.

Don’t be afraid to say you hurt. It’s okay to need people, to lean on others, to be weak. You don’t have to have all the answers, and no one expects you to have it all together.

And while your parents are grieving, too, remember that they love you something fierce, and no matter what some other people have told you, they don’t need you to be strong for them. They don’t always know how to help you grieve, but they can handle the truth. You can tell them how you really feel … and Mom really doesn’t mind going out and talking over cheesecake sometimes if that makes it easier.

I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but eventually you will settle into a new “normal”.

Your best friend of 6 years just moved to another state, and I know that makes it hard to trust people and let people in (something that’s always been hard for you anyway), but that other girl who was your childhood best friend? She’s not going to give up on you or go anywhere. In about a year, she’ll give you a ride to a party and then will surprise you with a CD because you just happened to mention how much you loved one of its songs. Your friendship may rebuild slowly, and you may not even realize it’s happening sometimes, but after college, you’ll be roommates and your relationship will feel more like being sisters than just friends.

So don’t be afraid to invest yourself fully in friendships. You may never be the one with a huge circle of friends, but the few close friendships you do have and maintain will be deeply meaningful.

You like the responsibility of having a job and doing your job well. And yes, it is awesome that your maturity and hard work are not only noticed, but appreciated and affirmed. But don’t forget to just be a teenager. You’re only 16. Your savings account doesn’t matter as much as you think (though it will come in handy once you have that apartment in college).

There will be plenty of time to grow up and work later. And trust me, I know you think being an adult in the “real world” with a “real job” will be so much better, and you’d like to just get there already, but you really will have days where you wish you could just go back to the TCBY years.

In the midst of working hard, don’t let work define who you are. Your work does not equal your identity. Learn that now.

And school. Girl, what is the rush? Leaving public school to return to home school after 9th grade was a great choice, and I realize overloading on classes may seem like an acceptable way to cope with grief and the disconnect you feel with other teenagers, but for heaven’s sake, slow down!

You don’t have to get out of the house as fast as you think you do, so take full advantage of all those community college English and Literature classes that you love so much. And then when you get to the end of undergrad and are really just ready to be done with school, would you at least consider staying for an extra semester to take those religion classes you’re crazy interested in? Just for the record, five years later, you’ll still wish you took at least a couple more classes with your favorite religion professor.

And while we’re on the topic of work and school, let’s talk perfectionism for just a minute. The pressure does not rest on you to do things perfectly or to be perfect. Contrary to what you sometimes believe, the weight of the world is not on your shoulders. You do not have to get everything right all the time. I hereby give you full permission to make a mistake (even a big one), to fail, to falter, to be unsure.

This will be a struggle that you will continue to deal with for years, but I want you to know now that the answer to this struggle is absolute trust in and dependence on our perfect Savior – let Him be perfect and rest in Him. Beginning to see life from an eternal perspective will serve you well in this.

And just for the record, when you do make a mistake (and you will) or when you are crippled by fear and anxiety over the thought of making a mistake your Dad will say (over and over again), “I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but this really won’t matter a year from now or even six months from now.”

I know you hate to admit that he’s right, but he is absolutely right.

A piece of advice? Be active. Seriously. Learn to love exercise, not because of the way it makes you look, but because of how good it makes you feel. Fortunately, although you do think about and care about the way you look, your perspective on your own self-worth and value even now are being firmly rooted in Christ. You are well on your way to understanding that true beauty begins in your heart and is based on your status in Christ rather than on outward appearance. Stand firm in this, even when you go through brief seasons that tempt you to view yourself differently.

You tell your friends that you’re okay not dating right now. And you really mean it. Young relationships don’t always make a lot of sense to you because they seem to lack purpose. Even at 16, you care a lot (sometimes too much) about doing things with purpose. I kind of hate to break it to you, but in 10 years, you’ll still be single (you won’t even have been in a relationship yet). It won’t always be easy for you, but being comfortable just being you and clinging to the Lord as a teenager will form a solid foundation for being confident in your singleness because you will continue to be confident in the Lord.

More than anything, you have a growing and deepening love for Scripture. Don’t let that passion wane. It will only grow stronger. Ask the hard theological questions. Although it may intimidate some, your Bible Study teachers are willing to engage your questions and help you understand as much as they can. As a natural progression to this passion and craving for knowledge of Scripture, you will even spend some time in seminary.

But take every opportunity to study God’s Word now and to know it well. It will equip you far greater than any other book you will read. And let’s be honest, you read a lot.

It may take a lifetime to understand how the Lord will use this passion for His Word for His glory. You have an interest in and heart for serving through missions, and that interest is just going to get a lot messier before you have any clarity. You will even specifically study how we discern where God is calling us to serve. But seeking Him is never wrong. Never stop trusting Him through the uncertainties and the mess. Never stop seeking Him with all that you have.

You’re a “words of affirmation” girl. That’s your love language now and it’s not going anywhere. Just be aware that sometimes, the words you hear won’t be affirming. But you do have a choice to believe them or not. You won’t be able to turn off all of the negative words and voices around you, but don’t let them tell you that you’re inadequate, incompetent, or not enough.

In times when you’re tempted to believe those lies, be ready to respond by constantly filling your heart and mind with the only words that matter … HIS words.

Know His Word, study it, memorize it, internalize it, trust it. When there’s no one else to preach it to you, preach it to yourself. Often.

Fix your eyes on Jesus Christ. Always.

Much Love,

26-year-old Emily

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This letter is part of a link-up hosted by Emily Freeman in honor of her new book, Graceful, for teenage girls. I rarely recommend a book that I haven’t read yet, but since I have read this book’s counterpart for women, Grace for the Good Girl, I am completely confident in recommending this book to the teenage girls in your life. This message of grace and letting go is so incredibly freeing, and I know my 16-year-old self would have benefited from it greatly.

For When I am Weak…

“…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)

I know I don’t usually post at all on Saturday mornings, much less a devo thought, but this message is so important and so freeing that I just didn’t want to sit on it. I desperately needed this reminder. Maybe you do, too. So before you launch into that mindless novel at the pool, or head to that summer cookout, or start on that yardwork, or begin that week of vacation, take a moment to pause, to reflect, and to rest at the feet of Jesus. He loves us so well.

After completing week three of the “Grace for the Good Girl” book club hosted by Emily Freeman on her blog, which basically wraps up the section describing the many masks we good girls tend to hide behind … such as the masks of strength and responsibility, of a good performance, and even of spiritual disciplines … the one theme that stood out above all else was this:

weakness.

If I’m being honest, I tend to think of weakness as a bad thing. Not so much if other people admit to weakness. It’s ok if someone else shares a flaw or a struggle or has a need for help or support. But me? Well, that crosses the proverbial line. After all, I am perfectly capable of handling my own problems, answering my own questions, talking myself into a better attitude, and dealing with my own mess.

“Hiding behind a mask of strength and responsibility is a lonely place to live. That mask portrays to the world around us that we have it all together, that we can handle the mess, that we don’t need people. Or worse, that we don’t need God.” – Emily Freeman (p. 85)

Yes, I often wear this mask of responsibility – the one that demands I must have it all together at. all. times. – quite well. Even worse, I wear it proudly as if it’s somehow a badge of honor … all the while failing to recognize the straight up pride in that very sentiment!

“The truth is, admitting weakness is the very doorway the Lord uses to lead the tired good girl to a place of rest.” – Emily Freeman (p. 85)

I know that statement is true. The Lord does use weakness to lead us to rest in Him. I have even acknowledged weakness here before and spoken of the necessary choice to return to Him in complete surrender. A choice that must be made over and over again. Because this walk with the Lord, it’s everyday, it’s every moment.

Yet as the discussion in a subsequent chapter shifted to the parable of the prodigal son, as I continued to consider this good girl tendency of hiding behind strength and responsibility, I couldn’t help but think about the burden of guilt that I so often carry around as of late. Guilt because of missed deadlines (however soft those deadlines may be…), guilt because I haven’t done enough or been enough, guilt because the facade of having it all together fades, guilt because I have a need. It’s been a struggle, it’s been a weakness.

But then in the middle of the chapter, I came to this quote by Brennan Manning from his book “Reflections for Ragamuffins”:

“There is more power in sharing our weaknesses than our strengths. The forgiveness of God is gratuitous and unconditional liberation from the domination of guilt. The sinful and repentant prodigal son experienced an intimacy and joy with his Father in his brokenness that his sinless self-righteous brother would never know.” (p. 103)

brokenness.

And all of a sudden that weakness is wrapped in brokenness, and in that brokenness, there is hope. Because Jesus wants that brokenness. And in exchange, He offers to lift the burden, the weakness, and replace it with intimacy and joy.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

– Psalm 51:17 (ESV)

Yes, this guilt … sometimes legitimate, sometimes false … leaves me broken and weak. But when I stop there, when I allow that guilt to rule instead of taking it to Jesus Christ and laying it at His feet in humble abandon, I miss out on the acceptance and peace and rest that He has already so freely offered.

“The beautiful redemptive truth is, I am free to identify with the Father, the one who offered unconditional love and acceptance to both sons. I don’t have to figure out the mess. I do have to trust in the One who can.” – Emily Freeman (p. 106)

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

I Fall So Short

He loves me so well … in big ways and small ways … and I fall so short.

He loves me through a handwritten note with precious Scripture shared.

He loves me through a generous South Bend police officer who offers a ride instead of directions.

He loves me through raising up a volunteer in response to a last minute plea in my absence.

He loves me through the unexpected wave and grin of a sweet 18 month old.

He loves me through His Son and His perfect sacrifice.

And in exchange for His unconditional, relentless love, I neglect Him, I fail Him, I fall short.

He loves me so well … the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, the very Foundation of this world and all that is in it … and I neglect to spend time with Him. I neglect to fully invest myself in really knowing Him. I neglect to trust His purpose and plan. I fail to love Him well in return.

He loves me so well, and I fail to love His people in accordance with not only His example, but His command. I put far too many conditions on the love I extend to others. I fail to love the unlovable because it’s inconvenient, because it’s hard, because it requires much of me. I fail to even love those closest to me well. I don’t invest the time or energy that I know I should, that I know I’m called to, that I know reflects Him.

I fall SO short.

And after realizing my own shortcomings, after labeling myself a failure, after feeling crushed under that weight, in a futile effort to regain some sense of order and control, I place unreasonable and unrealistic expectations on myself to measure up. To do better. Only to fall short again.

grace for the good girl by emily p. freemanI first mentioned Emily P. Freeman’s book “Grace for the Good Girl” at the end of September (my first and only giveaway thus far).

It was convicting, but refreshing. Exposing, but freeing. But lately…

I find myself giving into my own good girl tendencies once again, putting them on like an old pair of jeans that just gets better with time. But as what was first comfortable and familiar wears thin, the oldness, the insecurities, the too-high expectations, the attempt at perfection, the inadequacies, the failure, the inevitable guilt all shows through.

I find myself caught up in my own self-sufficiency … because surely there’s nothing wrong with being independent, responsible, and dependable … but even in that there’s failure. What if someone realizes that it took me months to return that $160 dress that didn’t fit quite right? Will my self-sufficient, responsible image be shattered? And yet, even that is the product of an arbitrary expectation placed on myself.

So when Emily announced on her blog that she would be hosting an informal summer book club to read through and discuss this book together, I knew it was time to face the truth of its message once again.

And as I read this week, only 3 chapters in and a long way to go, once again facing these good girl tendencies head on, I was reminded that I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I don’t have to hide behind the mask of responsibility and self-sufficiency.

Perfect isn’t real, but Jesus is.

Yes, He loves me so well, and I fall so short.

But that’s what this Grace is all about. And this Grace-Giver doesn’t command me to be perfect. He doesn’t burden me with unrealistic expectations. He doesn’t tell me to fix my flaws on my own. He invites me to come. He says to abide. He promises strength in weakness.

“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NASB)

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Does this struggle with perfection, this struggle to meet the expectations of yourself or others resonate with you? Would you consider joining me in this summer reading?

If so, go check out Emily’s introductory post here and then go read her first official post on chapters 1-3 here from yesterday.

Then would you come back and let me know that you’re reading, so maybe we can encourage each other throughout the summer?

I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t be posting here each week about the book, but I will be joining the discussion in Emily’s comments and in the Facebook group (see her posts for more details). And of course, feel free to contact me via email or twitter anytime (see contact information in the sidebar or on the about the author page).