A Prayer for When We Want Answers

A Monday Benediction

We confess that we are stumbling through connection.

We confess how most of the time we would choose to offer advice, answers, expertise or solutions than we would to offer ourselves.

But you didn’t come as an expert. You came as a baby.

You didn’t come to solve our problems. You came to save our life.

Slowly we’re beginning to see that instead of a map, you offer us your hand.

Instead of an answer, you offer us your presence.

Instead of control, you offer us a cross.

Help us to see your presence as the actual answer we long for. Remind us that you are enough.

As we learn to release our obsession with building our lives, help us to trust in the new life you are building within us.

Thank you Father, for sending your son.

Thank you Jesus for coming down to be with us.

Thank you Holy Spirit for never leaving us alone.

You are our safe place to feel insecure.

May we receive one another the way you have so kindly received us.

Happy Monday, friends. If you need a little help to create space of your soul to breathe, sign up here to receive a series of free videos I made just for you.

A Short Blessing for Monday

October flowers

In the warm days of May, our daughter buried some seeds in the ground. They broke, rooted, sprouted, and bloomed. And all of them have withered by now. All except this one.

I’m impressed with her stubborn commitment to life. She’s the Mark Watney of flowers. (The Martian anyone? I’m reading it now for the category “a book in a genre I wouldn’t typically choose” in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge. After having so many people recommend it I figured it was a safe bet. But shhhhhh I haven’t finished it or seen the movie.)

But here by our back door, this little yellow flower gives shape to the invisible kingdom of God. She reminds me that his timing is different from mine, his ways don’t always fit my expectations, and his life remains even when the seasons change around me.

May your Monday carry hints and outlines of your true home.

For Those Who Wait in the Fog

At the beginning of this year, I declared that I wanted to practice writing words I can’t take back. I did and I have, but I keep finding myself not doing that consistently.

Like this morning, for example, I had grand plans to drive directly home and begin to write after taking the girls to school, but instead I somehow found myself with one foot in a cute brown boot in the shoe aisle at Target at the productive hour of 8:15.

what happens at Target

Two packages of poster board, one package of stickers, a latte and a library book later, here I sit in my office wondering what is wrong with me. I long for the time to write when the family is home and then avoid it when the house is empty.

I am coming to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong except that I am, in fact, a writer. And putting off writing is often what we do best.

Seriously though, I think sometimes I avoid the page for the same reasons I avoid silence: I’m anxious over what I might find there. 

Or worse, that I might not find anything at all.

In some ways I see my job as a writer as one of turning over rocks: I’m not always sure I’ll understand or like what’s beneath the surface, but curiosity insists I turn it over anyway.

And while it’s true that I would often rather not face what critters might be hiding there and that I would often prefer to sit on the rock and watch Netflix, facing my questions by turning over rocks helps me become more fully myself.

And the way I do that is through writing.

When I don’t know where to begin, it’s good to start with what I know for sure about us, you and me:

We want more connecting and less competing.

We want more laughter and less shame.

We want more love and less fear.

The last few weeks I’ve been digging around in my  soul to find out what connection, laughter, and love means for my life and the life of my family.

Shapes in the Distant Fog - emily p freeman

A month ago I told Marion, my spiritual director, that I feel as though I am in the midst of a transitional time. John is nearly a year into his new ministry (!!), my fourth book is launched into the world (!!) and the girls are settled in to their first few months of middle school.

Many things I have been looking toward are now past and I am living in the exhale.

Marion encouraged me to let this open space remain open, to resist the urge to fill it with the next thing. I agreed with her completely, but as I’ve lived into those words I’m realizing how difficult it is to keep the margins wide.

It’s easier to fill a space then it is to keep it empty.

These words from John O’Donohue help, from To Bless the Space Between Us:

You are in this time of the interim where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out; the way forward is still concealed from you.

You cannot lay claim to anything; In this place of dusk, your eyes are blurred;

And there is no mirror. As far as you can, hold your confidence.

Do not allow your confusion to squander.

This call which is loosening your roots in false ground, that you might come free from all you have outgrown.

Words for Those Who Are Waiting

I don’t have great answers yet, but I see shapes in the distant fog. And for that, I am thankful.

So I will keep writing privately and also here. I will keep turning over rocks. I will keep sitting in the silence even when nothing changes. I will keep listening and waiting and watching. I will keep accepting the invitation of Jesus to be a child in his presence without an agenda.

If you long to create margin but don’t know how, I hope to be kind company, both for your soul and for mine. Sometimes we forget to be kind to ourselves, don’t we? Join me on The Bench for a monthly reminder to create the space your soul needs.

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One Thing Change Doesn’t Change


They built a Wal-Mart next to the Starbucks in the shopping center where I write. Once demolition started, they put up fences to keep the traffic out. You could see where the new building would be even though it was mainly construction equipment, piles of debris, and mounds of dirt.

construction zone

It was a parking lot in transition, on its way to becoming a shopping center.

What was is no longer and what will be isn’t quite yet.

When John and I were living in the midst of a vocational transition since he left his job of twelve years, I felt a little like that parking lot. I married a pastor, was involved in our church, felt part of a team of other youth leaders, and then all of that was gone.

It was our choice and the parting wasn’t ugly or painful in any of the ways these partings sometimes are. But it was painful in the ways you might expect – loss of community, an unpredictable future, fear of the unknown.

What was is no longer and what will be isn’t quite yet.

It took me several months to begin to grieve some of those losses as well as to recognize the control and predictability I thought I had before were only illusions anyway.

Slowly we started to carve out a new normal in the midst of the vocational limbo.

Girl Meets Change

I’m always hesitant to embrace change, at least the kind I don’t feel in charge of.

But the biggest reason I hesitate is because I only know what I’m leaving. I don’t yet know what I’m walking toward. And that is the hardest part of the limbo.

“When change puts me in tight places, is it especially dark because his hand covers and protects me too? Can I believe — really believe — it is dark because of mercy and protection rather than abandonment?”

Kristen Strong, Girl Meets Change

growth in change

Walking to my car after leaving Starbucks shortly after construction began, I noticed some of those mounds of dirt in the construction zone had grass and other plants growing out of them.

Grass! And other plants!

This parking lot was in the midst of transition and grass was growing where it had no business. The dirt wasn’t there for keeps, but it was there for now. Even so, seed takes root, burrows into the darkness, and shoots up to the light because that’s what seeds do.

Seeds take root and grow even though things won’t be this way for always, even though all is about to change, even though all seems unsettled, unsure, and unstable.

The one thing change doesn’t change is growth.

The growing still happens even in the midst of transition. But unlike those plants that will be uprooted and tossed aside as that dirt mound becomes a foundation, the growth that happens within me in the midst of change will not be wasted.

Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

When I look back on my life, the times I have experienced the most important growth have intersected with some kind of life change or transition.

I’m not saying those changes have always been welcome, but when my soul has been asked to move forward, let go of something old, or embrace something new, these are the times when I have become more fully myself.

Change invites me to burrow down deep into the place where God lives with me and find the solid ground of peace, hope, and a whole heart.

I may despise the change, but I never regret the growth.

And so we pause to consider those things we’ve left behind, those strange places where we now find ourselves, and the unknown future we’re walking into. Isn’t that what life is, after all? A series of holding on, letting go, moving forward, and growing in the middle?

Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong
My friend Kristen Strong wrote a whole book about this ever-present, not-often-enough talked about topic of change. She would know – she has traveled far and wide with her air force family, settling in to one community just in time to leave again.

KristenStrongHeadshotAs the wife of a career veteran, Kristen speaks as a woman who has experienced change in many makes and models. And as a friend, Kristen speaks the kind of language I can relate to.

I read Girl Meets Change during a time when I really needed to remember the truth: that God is with me even though things are different.

As my girls are into their first few weeks of middle school, I hold on to that truth.

As I walk with John into a new season of ministry, I hold on to that truth.

As I consider what it means to love, really love, my friends even when we’re all changing, I hold on to that truth.

You can learn more about Kristen and her new book at GirlMeetsChange.com. If you are in the midst of a life change, no matter how big or small, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Kristen’s book today. She’s lovely, kind, and just the kind of company you want beside you in the midst of those unknown seasons of change.

Why I’m Saying No More Often

Two years ago, my September through December schedule was so packed that I wondered if it was actually beginning to change my personality.

on saying no

While I was fulfilling my obligations and meeting deadlines in my work, I was experiencing a lack of energy to meet new people and felt less inclined to move toward longtime friends.

In short, I was exhausted.

John and I walked into that busy season with our eyes wide open. We knew we were intentionally saying yes to more things than usual, but we thought perhaps we could handle it.

That was in the middle of John’s year off, after he quit his job at the church and before we knew what was next. He was home full-time, and I had a lot going on with my own work, so we figured, “Okay, let’s try this!”

What happened during that busy season was I started to wilt on the inside. I’m not sure how else to explain it, but the constant deadlines and productivity combined with my travel schedule left me feeling empty and rushed.

I’m finishing the story at (in)courage today, sharing one reason I’m saying no more often.