A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

I just finished reading an incredible book called A Million Little Ways by a previously reviewed author, Emily P. Freeman. Emily is one of those rare authors; the kind of author who writes as if they know you personally. It’s almost as if she’s been sitting on the edge of my brain, taking notes of my thoughts, feelings, ideas, passions, and concerns. Though she’s a good twenty years older than me, I feel that if I knew her, we’d be best friends. I could easily sit in a coffee shop with her, discussing the abstracts of life over decaf tea and a plate of donuts.

That being said, A Million Little Ways is the kind of book that stays with you. I found so many wise statements that I drained two poor highlighters, fiercely coloring impactful statements They may have recuperated by now, but they were in bad condition when I was using them. Anyways, the theme of the book, is how every good thing that we do in this life is art. We are all image bearers, called to create for the glory of God.

Being that I’m somewhat of a creative type, I love how she views our dreams and personalities as art, as unique ways that God expresses Himself to humanity. The way she describes God’s creation of each one of us as art reminds me of a belief that I held as a child. I didn’t have any church background as a kid, but I did believe in God’s existence and that He created the world. I often imagined that God created the world through painting. I believed that he painted a portrait of the earth, and it sprang out of the canvas and came into existence. This view was probably more cartoon based than theologically based, but I did get one thing right: God is an artist.

Furthermore, as Emily Freeman states, because we’re made in the image of God, we’re also artists, and the unique aspects of our personalities, as well as the things that make us come alive, are forms of art. This could mean more obvious forms of art such as painting and drawing, but it could also mean any hobby or talent that God has given you. When I think about all of my friends unique interests, it’s pretty incredible how different they all are. I have friends who are into acting, sports, math, science, politics, psychology, singing, cooking, computers, photography, etc.

All unique forms of art.

Throughout the book, Emily also gives helpful advice that could be applied to various forms of art, and challenges the reader to do some deep soul-searching to find their desires and passions in life. One thing that I found particularly interesting, is how she points out that our passions can often be traced back to our childhood. I personally related to this, as I’ve always had an intense obsession with stories. I asked to learn how  to read when I was about three years old, and have read books compulsively ever since. Throughout grade school, I read books the way I ate food. During middle school, I obsessed over The Left Behind Young Trib Series, feeling as if I knew each of the characters, and mourning when a character died. I’ve also told stories from a young age, driving my whole family crazy with the way I made every inanimate object talk. It didn’t matter if it was a doll or a hairbrush; It became a character with a unique personality. Not to mention that from the moment I knew how to write, I didn’t stop. I wrote and illustrated stories with pencils and crayons in elementary school, graduated to short stories and two nonfiction published works in middle school, and now the current series that I’m working on (As well as a stand alone book). I suppose looking back, storytelling and writing was always in my DNA. I’m sure that you have your own memories of dreams growing deep inside of you from your childhood as well, if you look hard enough.

In addition to our passions, she goes on to teach that our personalities and the things that move us are forms of art. Each of us were knit together in a way that is completely different than any other person throughout history. Each of of us have unique quirks, traits, and temperaments that shape us. Each of us are moved by something, just waiting to emerge in a way that makes the world a better place.

To summarize the point of the book A Million Little Ways, and paraphrase some of the information, you were created by a Divine Artist, and because you were created in His image, you are an artist as well.

Not as an equal to God, but as a reflection of Him.

God created you the way you are for a reason, and you have something to contribute to this world. The things that God has gifted you in were placed inside of you for a reason, to come out as a form of worship in a million little ways.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

To conclude, I found this book incredibly informative and would highly recommend it to anyone who desires to learn more about how they can live their life as art offered up in worship to God.

Note: I got much of my information here from the book A Million Little Ways, so I owe credit to the author, Emily P. Freeman. 

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God’s Direction and the Rocky Road To Our Callings

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

This seems to be a lesson that God is trying to teach me right now, as the concept behind this verse appeared in a Christian nonfiction book that I was reading last night, as well as the sermon that I listened to in church today. Both places emphasized something that I tend to have a bit of a rough time doing.

Trusting God even when He’s calling you to do something that doesn’t make sense in the flesh. 

Sometimes, God calls us to things that we may have never pictured, prompting us to lead in a way that we feel less than equipped to do. By this, I don’t mean things that we would hate doing. I believe that along with a particular calling, God will also place in us a desire to fulfill that calling. Nonetheless, we may sometimes doubt if we can really succeed at the task that we feel God has given us. When God stretches us beyond what we feel we can handle, it’s easy to start making excuses and questioning it in our minds

I’m not qualified. I’m too young. What if I fail?”

Lately I’ve been battling these types of thoughts in my own life as I feel led to take a leap of faith in the way that I believe God is calling me. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably battled similar thoughts of incompetency in your own life. Nonetheless, we’re not alone and we’re certainly not the first to question God’s calling for our lives. Moses felt inadequate in speech and eloquence when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Jonah obviously felt afraid when God called him to go to Nineveh and preach, as his first instinct was to run. It seems that God often uses people who feel unqualified or incapable. “Why is that?” you may ask. After all, God could call anyone. Why would He choose the unlikely?

Perhaps He does so on purpose. Maybe He calls the unlikely so that we rely on Him, and so that His power is made evident through us. Maybe He wants us to be in a place where we’re humble enough to rely on His wisdom and not our own. Maybe His power is made the most clear when our callings seem illogical according to human reasoning.

You may feel inadequate by your own power, but as Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I believe that whatever God is calling you to do, He’ll walk with you every step of the way.

If you feel unqualified about God’s calling, know that you’re not alone. We all have moments when we wonder if we have the strength to follow through with the way that God is leading us. Nonetheless, I believe that if we trust God and follow His will, He’ll lead us on the right paths in our lives and make a way when it seems there isn’t one.

In the words of the Christian band Anthem Lights, we just have to keep following God’s heart, allowing Him lead us, guide, us, and direct our path.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Good news, I got my permit today after many failed attempts! If you’re struggling to achieve something, keep working at it! Hard work and perseverance does pay off. To celebrate passing my permit test, I’m going to post a song that I feel fits the occasion nicely.

Good old Rascal Flatts. 🙂 It’s hard to believe that this movie came out nine years ago. I officially feel old.