Update: An Afternoon At The Barn

Since we announced our plans for hosting an afternoon At The Barn in November, I’ve heard from many of you from all over the country (!!) expressing some interest in coming. That was surprising to me since really all you know so far is the background of why the barn – but I haven’t shared much yet about what in the world you can expect if you come.

at the barnFirst, if you are just now hearing about our Barn event, you might want to read this post to learn more about how it all came about.

We are still in the planning stages, and there are also a few things I will keep exclusive for those who attend. But before we invite you to get your ticket, I want to update you a little more on what to expect if you join us in Winston-Salem on the afternoon of November 23.

When my first book came out in 2011, my sister hosted a book release party at her house. It was fantastic – fun, creative, and celebratory – just as a book release party should be. The best part? We had a party, and people came. I realize at least half of those women came simply to get a real-life peek inside The Nester’s house, which was fine by me. It made for a fun celebration, to do it with so many.

We made it a drop-in thing so for the duration of the event, there was always a steady stream of women coming in. All I had time to do was sit at the book table and sign books.

That's me at the book table at my sister's house.
That’s me at the book table at my first book release party.

It was a pretty sweet gig for an introvert, if I’m honest.

Still, once the party was over, I looked back on the day and felt something was missing. People took time out of their day (some driving many hours) just to be there for a short time, eat a couple of mini-cupcakes, get a book, have it signed, and maybe chat with me, my sister, and other women who came – but not for long and not about anything on the soul-level. As fun as all that was, I ended up feeling like they left without being offered much.

I didn’t read from the book, share any behind-the-scences stories, or say much at all besides hurried words while I signed books. There was no community feeling, no shared experience, and no encouragement from the message of the book I wrote. There wasn’t enough time for that and there certainly wasn’t enough room. It was fun and I’m thrilled we did it, but there wasn’t much connection and that’s the part I regret.

That’s a big motivation for this At the Barn event. It isn’t a book release party, although in some ways for me it will serve some of those same purposes.

Our time together At the Barn will be an intentional time of story-telling, music, and conversation; a time to poke-awake the art inside you that may be hidden under layers of doubt, discouragement and distraction; a time to connect on a more personal level with one another in a way a larger venue wouldn’t allow.

In my everyday life, it comes naturally to make excuses, to make fun, to make sure, to make do. I’m learning what it might mean to choose to make art instead.

I don’t think it matters if the work you do is big or small, square or round, obvious or not-so-much. It doesn’t matter if your work is on a canvas of paper, of screen, or of souls. Waking up to your own personal capacity to make art with your work and your life has powerful potential.

That’s the kind of thing I want to talk about on November 23rd – through music and story and conversation, we simply want to show up together and spend a string of moments, a whole afternoon-worth, considering what it might mean to make art with our work and our lives.

It’s a beginning, to be sure. I wrote an entire book on the topic so we can’t cover it all in one afternoon. But I hope to be able to tell some of my own stories and share a bit of background and inspiration about why I believe this kind of art matters.

I’ve written some here on the blog about the vocational transition John and I have been living through over the past several months. If you come to the barn, you’ll hear more specifically from John’s perspective – what it has meant and looked like for him to live like an artist in the midst of insecurity, questions, and uncertainty.

Singer/songwriter Reeve Coobs will be at the barn, sharing her art through music and lyrics.

You’ll have the opportunity to meet my sister and her husband and our mom and dad – to ask your questions, if you have any.

Of course a copy of A Million Little Ways will be included with the price of your ticket.

If that sounds like something you would like to be part of, perhaps you’ll consider joining us At the Barn.

There is no age limit or gender requirement. All are welcome – college student, married couple, single parent – basically anyone who feels drawn to the concept of living life artfully. In keeping with the vision of this event, there will be a limited number of tickets available.

The Details

When: Saturday, November 23 (will announce specific times next week, but basically after lunch until before dinner)

Where: The Granary at WinMock in Winston-Salem, NC

Ticket Price: $49

When can I get my ticket? Starting next Monday, September 16

How to reserve your spot: Tickets will be available to my newsletter subscribers first. (You can sign up here). After 24 hours, we will make tickets available to everyone.

I don’t want to tell you everything about the day, but I hope this little bit of detail gives you enough information to make your plans. And if you are unable to join us this time, I would love to try to do this again.  This will be my last update on the blog before tickets are made available, so if you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or you can always contact me by email. Hope to see you soon at the barn!


  1. says

    Why yes thank you I would love to come :) I am going to have some words with my Calendar and see if I can MAKE THIS HAPPEN. Sounds fab. I am 99.9 percent sure I am already getting the newsletter. Going to make it 100.

  2. says

    Do you know how long (as in how many hours) it’s going to be? I know you are not ready to announce specific times but just trying to figure out how much of the day to budget? Is there food included in the price? I know these are somewhat “shallow” questions – I love the idea, but our budget is really tight and my husband works on Saturday and I’m trying to figure out if we can really afford the cost and how much time of childcare I’m going to need to figure out. I’m still leaning toward splurging and just making it happen because it feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity, but I’m also hoping for some more details before I would buy a ticket.

    • says

      Great questions, Aprille – we won’t be serving a meal, although there will be snack-type food. You’ll want to have lunch before you come.

      As far as time – tentatively we are planning for a 1 – 4 ish. But that could change 30 minutes on either end. Probably the 1 is set but the 4 might not be quite yet. Could be more like 4:30.

  3. says

    I’m disappointed that the barn date is the same weekend that The High Calling is having our writer’s retreat in Texas so I’m putting my bid in for the next one! I think I can easily drive the distance there from up here in WV. Sending up prayers that all will be blessed and excited to see the beauty that comes from that shared time.

  4. says

    So excited to read about this great event. Wish it were closer to Kansas :{ I was thinking on the walk into work this morning that I think the “sweet spot” in life is at the intersection of our “art” and ministry. In the giving away of our art (gifts) to further the kingdom…Just hit me this might be the great secret to a happy life. At least it rings true to me and it sounds like this may be what will happen at the barn. Blessings on this endeavor!

  5. says

    This is my first time commenting but I’ve been following your blog since I read Grace for the Good Girl last year. What you write resonates with me… sometimes I gasp a little bit and think “What? I’m not the only one who’s felt that way?!” Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for writing what you do and I’m hoping that I can come to the barn!

  6. says

    Even if it turns out I can’t make it, I’m so excited about all these new beginnings for you, Emily. The Barn is going to be such a place of creativity and community. I feel it already.

    • says


      Good question. For the short time we have together that day we simply won’t be able to accommodate children. I won’t even be bringing my own.

      Maybe one day we could do a family barn event. That would be fun.

      • Melissa McIntyre says

        Thank you for letting me know! I don’t think we’ll be able to come this time :-( , but looking forward to next time for sure :-) ! We’ll be praying for you all on that day though!

  7. says

    I am very much hoping to come to this event, but already pre-ordered A Million Little Ways (it was my mom’s birthday gift to me). Would it be possible to deduct that from my ticket-price or not? If not, that’s totally fine! I could give the extra copy to my best friend. I just figured it couldn’t hurt to check. :)

  8. says

    Consider me and the Hunk RSVPd! I just bought our tickets. Now – what’e the cheapest hotel nearby?

    I can’t tell you how tickled I am to spend a day with the family who has ministered so much to mine! 😀

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