Book Bites: A Million Little Ways [You Are An Artist]

Hi friends,

I’ve decided to use my nerdy powers for good and start a new series.

Once a month, I’ll share with you a takeaway from a book that I’ve been reading. The why? I love to read Christian living books and often find little nuggets of wisdom hidden within their pages. I think, wow, this really relates to something that a lot of people have been talking about…it’s a shame that not everyone will come across this book and/or take the time to read it.

I’ve always kind of felt like the Christopher Columbus but for books rather than undiscovered countries; embarking on a journey to glean from the experiences of brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, without further ado, I present to you this month’s Book Bite, A Million Little Ways.

I discovered this book through Instagram, which is such a millennial thing to say but don’t judge me. The author, Emily Freeman, is the co-founder of Hope Writers, which is an amazing group of powerhouse Christian women writers (https://www.hopewriters.com/). You can check out some of the other Hope Writers by searching the #hopewriters on Instagram.

This book’s feel is like sitting across from a friend at a coffeeshop. Emily is passionate about helping people to “Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live” but doesn’t come across as lofty or preachy. The premise of her book, everyone is an artist, no matter their vocation, is what I want to talk about today.

I’ll kick it off by sharing two small paragraphs from her book which beautifully capture the heart of her message.

“I recently watched a woman at the frozen yogurt shop move through her required tasks efficiently. She greeted people who came in the store, cleaned up messes behind them. John [Emily’s husband] commented, ‘She works like she owns the place.’ I thought to myself, She works like an artist.

I don’t know if she owned the place and working at the yogurt shop was her dream job or if she just needed the money to make rent. It didn’t really matter. She was present in those moments when we saw her and seemed to have an awareness of something bigger than herself. She chose to do her job in a way that moved beyond the simple work of her hands to create an environment in the shop that was welcoming. It was a place I wanted to be.” [Freeman, Emily (2013). A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Meant to Live. p. 193].

This story reminded me of when I worked at Barnes and Noble (you can read the blogpost I wrote about that experience here).

We need to learn to remain diligent in the mundane.

It is so easy to write off those hours we spend in our places of work. But, as Emily says in another section of the book, “You are made in the image of Creator God and carry the presence of his Holy Spirit wherever you go.” (p. 144).

You bring Him with you into the classroom, the office, the city where you live. Though everyone around you may paint the walls of their world gray, you can bring color and creativity.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a naturally creative person, you were made in the image of a creative God.

That special way you can encourage a kid’s heart. The way you can listen and ask questions which make people feel seen and valued. The careful way you calculate numbers. The food you provide for your family.

There is beauty in the routine.

You have something unique that God has placed within you to offer the world and this uniqueness can come out in kindness to a stranger or patience with a child. It can come out in a laugh. In a birthday card. In a text. In an invitation.

The bits and pieces of you which you hide, may be the parts that someone else needs to see.

The permission you need to offer the fullness of yourself, messy bits and all, comes through the One who offered the fullness of Himself for us on the cross. It is through learning to love and imitate Him that we can learn how to best share what God has given us to offer to others.

As Emily puts it, “In the act of sinking into God, of looking at him from the depths of our own inadequacy, we begin to know who he is. In turn, we know who we are as well.” (Freeman p. 79).

So go out and offer what God has given you to others, unhindered by perfectionism or fear of rejection.

Start blogging.

Put yourself in places where you can step forward in compassion.

Have people over for a meal that you’ve prepared.

Intentionally schedule time with a friend for coffee with no agenda besides making them feel seen and valued.

Whatever God is speaking to your heart, go out and do it. Don’t be afraid of failure. The world needs what He has given you to offer.

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