for when you want to change your art

We talk a lot about finding your passion and doing your art. And I love it all. I love to see your eyes light up when you are finally honest about what you really want to do. And then, when you realize that’s what you were made to do? Shaped and formed by the Maker Himself? Oh, the blessed gift of it all!

But living the art doesn’t come out like riding on the back of a unicorn in gold-dipped shoes and galloping softly down a rainbow. It comes with grit. Exposure. Risk. Fear. Humility. And sometimes humiliation. Over the past two years, I have wished so many times that my passion was food. Oh, to write about tomato soup and eating around the table with family and making scones. I visit cooking blogs and make recipes and I feel safe and inspired. But those things don’t make me come alive from the inside out.

Shannan wrote a post yesterday about sitting around with new friends some years ago, answering light-hearted questions about favorite foods and pet peeves. Easy stuff. And then somebody asked what her biggest fear was and she quickly answered, “Being wrong.” Here’s what happened next:

“Everyone stopped talking, the game wasn’t fun anymore, and maybe the world stopped turning for a beat or two. I wanted to reach out and grab those two stupid words and stuff them right back in. I had spent my life being right. Admitting that I was afraid of being wrong was absolutely not right.

Why didn’t I just say “falling backwards off a steep cliff?” Why didn’t I say snakes? Speeding tickets? Slow drains? Camper toilets? … It’s funny how the truth takes new shape when it moves from your secret heart to the wide open air that you breathe. It becomes even bigger. It floats around and catches the light. It becomes a thing.”

Shannan, Flower Patch Farm Girl

It isn’t exactly parallel, but writing Grace for the Good Girl was one long why-didn’t-I-just-say-snakes experience. Why do I have to be passionate about something that is just so personal and exposing? Why do I feel compelled to splay my weaknesses in a book that is now sitting on bookstore shelves, bedside tables, car front seats, couch arms? Why can’t I just write about food? Animals? The weather?

I know the answer and I’m learning to receive it: talking about the grace of God makes me come alive. It’s deep and it’s serious and it’s sometimes heavy. It’s awkward to hold and it’s too long for an elevator pitch and it doesn’t look great in a tagline. It’s hard to market, difficult to summarize, cumbersome to share in the carpool line. But when I look into your eyes and I see you get it too, when we can talk about the secret things and the mystery of this hope of glory — it’s like someone turned on the music.

Have you ever wanted to change your art, to adopt some skill or gift that you think would be easier to live with? What makes it worth it?


The blog hop/tour/visitation/review/giveaway fun continues this week with one of my favorite bloggers, Shannan at Flower Patch Farm Girl and one of my favorite authors, Mary DeMuth. They both are giving away copies of the book this week and would love to have you stop by! Check out the blog tour schedule under Grace for the Good Girl in the navigation bar to learn more.


  1. Andrea says

    I’ve never wanted to change my art, but I wish I could make a living doing it. Sometimes when there is talk about vocation, or living your art, or calling, or doing your passion, an assumption is made that a person will always be able to do that ministry/work for a living. And I am at a point where I don’t think that is true for every person. About a year ago, after years of preparation for a particular ministry, I couldn’t make a living at it, and I have peers in the same situation. It has caused me to question my assumptions about God’s call on my life and what God has promised, and what wasn’t promised, but I assumed had been. I’m still trying to understand everything, and I’m trying to tame the green-eyed monster that rises within me when I see others who are able to make a living doing their passion. By the grace of God, I will find peace and understanding.

    • says

      It’s so hard when what you are called to do in terms of making a living and what you are called to do in terms of your art and passion are not one and the same. I so desperately want mine to be, and they just aren’t, at least right now. Maybe the two won’t ever line up. The green-eyed monster visits me, too. Thank you for sharing this, Andrea.

    • says

      I feel like I could have written this myself. I am right there with you, Andrea. Thank you for reminding me that eventually, by the grace of God, I will find peace and understanding in this.

  2. says

    I’m a reader of Shannan’s, and after her post about your book, I had to stop by. I haven’t read your book yet, on my way to purchase, but all I can say is THANK YOU! Just from Shannan’s review, I know I’m going to love it, feel less alone with my “good girl” issues, and be saved even more by God’s love and grace.

  3. says

    Emily, I feel this way about speaking. I didn’t want to be a speaker- EVER. But God made it clear this is what He wants. Then a couple of years into it He asked me to do the impossible, to open up and be vulnerable and transparent, to invite everyone in to hear my messy stuff. I was moritfied and terrified of rejection. Yet, today, I love it because I’ve seen how it sets other people free.

    But sometimes when I’m preparing new material and He whispers, “Share that story,” or “Tell them about that fear,” I cringe. At those moments, I’m like you, I wish I could make crafts or something, instead of baring my soul for the world to see. I wish I could hide behind a tangible talent that doesn’t involve words, either spoken or written.

    You asked the question, “What makes it worth it?” The ladies who come to me with tears of gratitude after I speak, telling me their version of messy and ugly. The emails from those who say, “Thank you for sharing exactly what I needed today.” The peace and sheer joy of knowing that God can take my junk and use it to help someone else. That’s what makes it worth it.

  4. says

    I understand this. I’ve wondered why I have to be passionate about things that make people uncomfortable…that make ME uncomfortable. Why can’t I just be a great crafter and write tutorials and have my projects become Pinterest fodder? After fighting it for a long time, I think I am finally coming to a place where I am realizing that it is ok to use my words and write about what is in my heart. I’m not even sure how many times I have revamped my blog to make it something “acceptable”…something that doesn’t make me nervous when I click the publish button. Over the past couple of months I have felt that God has been telling me to write for Him. Even if no one else ever reads my words, if it gives me a better understanding of my Lord and the woman He has called me to be, then it is worth it.

    • says

      The last two sentences you wrote very much speak to where I am and what I’m struggling with right now. It’s good to know I’m not alone. Thankyou for sharing.

  5. says

    If you are like me, you wrote because if you didn’t you would explode and grace would have been splattered all over everyone wheather they liked it or not. Writing give an elegance to your message.

    I have tried several things and been semi-successful at most. But writing happens weather I like it or not. I paint with words in my sleep, and in the shower, as well as my journals. It is breathing. I can hold my breath for a little while, but eventually I will breath again or die. My art is writing. It is a balm to my soul. Even if no one reads what I write, writing satisfies me.

  6. says

    Maybe if you had a passion for writing about tomato soup that would seem risky and scary, too. This is a wonderful post! I am so enjoying your book, too. Thank you for stepping out to follow Christ and coming alive so the rest of us know what that looks like, fears and all!

    • Christena says

      This: “Maybe if you had a passion for writing about tomato soup that would seem risky and scary, too.” I think this is brilliant. Maybe the risk/scary is not so much about the topic, but our energy/passion and the risk of exposure that comes with self-expression.

      Honestly, I have been turned upside down by Grace for the Good Girl as well as this blog. As a good girl, I struggle with this: I tried to hard to do the good-girl thing with my life growing up — I invested lots of years and dollars in an education & training in a particular field. Now I have a high-paying, stable career, but it is not my passion – at least, not in its present form. I dream of a life where I can make a living doing my passion and making my art and using it to serve others. However, my good girl self thinks it would be so wrong and irresponsible to change my art if that would mean I would have to quit/leave a stable, good-paying job in this economy, especially since my salary enables me to support several different ministries financially. I would feel guilty “throwing it away” and I discourage myself by thinking that “following a dream/passion” is a luxury, not something I am entitled to. But I want to believe that God has gifted me with passion for a purpose and I do dream of the freedom to pursue that, one day. We just have this one life, after all. These are hard things to consider, but thank you, Emily, for making me consider them.

  7. Meredith says

    If you were writing about food, animals or the weather I wouldn’t have smiled when I saw your book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. I wouldn’t have grabbed the spine, pulled it from its spot and faced it cover forward, for all passing by to see. I want others to receive the gift of your written word…the courage to be true to who I am, follow my passion, work through my fear and shine.

  8. says

    Wow, Emily! I SO get this! This week I had to sit in a doctor’s office and try to pry open my soul and tell him why I was suffering from depression. It included things I have only told a trusted few (3 to be exact… and one is a “professional”). Old hurts and new wounds. Things that make me feel shame just letting them roll around in my mind, let alone actually hearing them pour from my lips. And then waiting… for the look… the response… which may or may not confirm the worst things I think about myself. I felt icky as I left, because I didn’t know if they got it. And then I felt I had trusted the most vulnerable part of myself with someone who did not understand… and was not worthy of my trust.

    I can imagine a similar feeling for you… as a stranger holds your book… touches it… leafs through it… ponders the words. Do they get it? Are they trustworthy of that piece of your heart and soul that you have poured out before them on paper? This a tangible representation of you… of your struggles… of your fears… of your lessons… of what you have wrestled to discover… of grace for the good girl.

    I got my “Grace for the Good Girl” copies yesterday… 3 to be exact. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around your heart as I embrace your words and your journey. And I am thrilled to share it with my 2 amazing “soul sisters” who I know will do the same. :-)

    Thanks for your courage and vulnerability!!

  9. says

    I love this feels like you just took what is in my heart and laid it right out there on this page…I can do food so easily but it is NOT my passion….my passion lies within the hearts of women..the unspoken things and getting free to be all that we are made to be. I am reading your it the FIRST day when it came is speaking to my heart….THANK YOU for following your heart…that is what touches all of us out here…

  10. says

    I wish my passion was more easily defined. It seems like everything I find about “how to start a blog” is geared towards people with easy-to-categorize passions. Mine isn’t easy, either to define or to talk about. It involves grace and redemption and freedom, yes, but it also involves ugly things like abuse and rape and depression. How on earth do you summarize that in a nice, neat “About” page?! I pray that with God’s help I will find the voice He placed within me and that somehow, it would help and bless others.

    • says

      Your voice… once God helps you find it WILL help and bless others! Believe it! That is a message and passion so many need permission to tell, hear, and heal from. Rest in God and let Him reveal it to you in manageable doses… and He will. I heard a sermon recently about how we are to use the gifts God has given us for His glory and kingdom… and, as if it was literally “handwriting on the wall”… I saw the word “experiences” and quickly wrote it in my notes. He allows us to experience and trudge through life to share with others how God has brought us through deep wounds and even shame to restoration, redemption and freedom. YOU go GIRL!

  11. says

    I totally know the feeling! I have sung since I was a little girl. The problem is, I hate being in front of an audience. I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of girl. But I always got picked for solos. Most people would say that’s a good thing. But for me, it was the most frightening thing of all!

    As I grew older, I actually dreaded the fact that people knew me as “the singer”… I felt like I wanted to be known for something else. That title got me more and more opportunities to sing in front of crowds, but it also brought more and more nightmares that I would trip on stage in front of everyone, or forget the lyrics, or mess up and reveal all of my flaws. Maybe people would realized I’m not that great a singer after all.

    I still struggle with those fears. But I realized I come alive the most when I’m singing praises to God in the shower, or in the car, or while I’m cleaning… just me and Him. I still don’t really like being picked to sing. But I LOVE singing unto God. So I just choose to have an audience of One and it helps to set me free. Focusing on pleasing Him and not the people brings peace. He already knows my flaws and He accepts me. With Him, I don’t have to “perform,” I just have worship! I think that’s true for every believer in their art. :)

    Thanks for sticking to your passion, Emily, and doing it unto HIM. We are all benefiting from the real life words of your testimony.

    (P.S. I’m loving the book!)

    • says

      I’ve been thinking about this lately in my writing. I’m not a polished blogger. I just have a story and words God has given me. I worry about not being good enough, about messing up, about saying the wrong thing…and then God gently reminds me that it isn’t about me. It’s about worshipping Him through the gifts He has given me. So freeing! We don’t have to perform, just worship – thank you!

  12. says

    More than anything else, it is looking around at other blogs that makes me want to change my art. I’d love to talk decor and take beautiful pictures and be funny and witty and hip. But the moment my fingers touch the keyboard, I feel an urgency for my generation to know Christ’s love…an urgency I cannot meet with how-to’s on sewing pillowcases or hanging picture frames. I’ve finally accepted that I may never have a super fun, chic blog. That’s just not my art, no matter how badly I wish it were. Instead, I’m learning to be grateful for the passions God has given me, and to embrace them with my whole heart and energy. Thank you for this honest post, Emily!

  13. says

    Bless you.

    I find my writing terrifies me (at least those first drafts) and yet verse is the way my words sing and most honestly speak into my characters. Though I sometimes wish I had the “ease” of familiar, contemporary prose and those children’s novels in the mainstream, my heart is with the forgotten, the ordinary, the quiet, the obscure.

    For the first time in two years, I am starting something new, and it’s frightening. I wonder, after years of revision, if I have new stories in me, if I can pull it off again, if this new effort will be compared to (and seen as less than) the last. This is a hard industry to be in right now, and yet I’m so grateful to daily face this challenge that exposes my weaknesses then uses them to slowly build something bigger than myself.

  14. says

    Wow! Thank you. My sentiments exactly. I’m just starting on this journey and thought it would be about my painting……but instead it is ending up focused on speaking truth into the lives of others…….truly a passion. Never saw that change coming…..but I am being led. I’m thrilled and yet sometimes I wonder if I’m needed. Why can’t it be something “fun” like beautiful house projects (also something I love)? Thank you for your encouragement today. It feels good to be “normal” and understood. Blessings to you in all that you do!

    • says

      That feeling of being thrilled and yet wondering if you’re needed? I have that, too. It really is good to know I’m not the only one who feels that way!

  15. says

    I’m writing an eBook about the first year following our son’s autism diagnosis.

    I wish it were about anything but autism.

    The hard days are so raw and fresh I want to push them away. The conversation with the doctor who said I was “uneducated and uninformed,” being the only child in his Sunday School class not invited to a four year old’s birthday party, and that dreadful first day I dropped him off at the elementary school? Bringing those days (and tears) to the surface is ugly–again.

    I want to hit the X and go back to writing anything. Or not writing and just folding laundry.

    But I want other parents to know how God’s grace met us every step of the way. So I have to show how He moved, comforted, challenged, and strengthened us. So I keep writing….

  16. says

    Id love to change it, but the reality is that I have put my running shoes on for way too long and I am tired. It is what it is. The other day something quite incredible happened. Someone wanted to purchase note cards Id made from an original to raise money for our adoption- a year ago. I just couldnt get over the fact that as I have been sorting out what to do next in my head, praying, pleading, this happened. Husband commented,”well what did you expect? People werent jut buying it because they felt sorry for us. Your work is very beautiful. You know, you could really do something with it if you actually believed in yourself. ” I felt sucker punched. Still praying about what to do next……. it is all grace.

  17. says

    I had a professor in college that said “God only uses broken things” about the verse, James 1:9 “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted.”
    God only uses people who are broken and willing to be put back together by our heavenly Father. This is something I’m learning in life and from reading your blog, Emily. Thank you for allowing God to use your art in a mighty way – at least in my life –
    I always knew, even before I was saved, that I would someday work with teenagers. Now that I’m here and my husband and I are in youth and music ministry its a terrifieing yet wonderful reality. Have I ever desired someone else’s art, one that doesn’t involve me bearing my heart and soul on a daily basis? yes! But, like so many others have said here today, the jump in my heart when another teen accepts Christ, the tears streaming down my face when they turn their life over to God to let Him do what He wills with it and the joy that overflows when a teen we’ve been praying would come back, does. These things, and so much more, is worth the late night prayer sessions, the bearing my heart, and even the broken-ness that has to be there so God gets all the glory and not I.
    “Not I but Christ, be Honored, Loved, Exhaulted!”

  18. says

    Emily: This opens my eyes as to why I agonize over every post to my blog. It never occurred to me that the fear in creating “art” was due to a risk of exposure! Every post in my blog (which talks about how to take an active role your kids faith journey) reminds me of how I didn’t raise my kids. (Not that they’ve turned out bad or anything. It’s just that I don’t want people to loose the chances that I did.)

    This explains a lot to me. Thanks.

  19. says

    I totally agree with you! I have a dear friend who has stepped up and gone way out of her comfort zone on behalf of orphans around the world. She uses the phrase “Do it afraid” a lot. I love that. Can’t wait to read your book!

  20. says

    you know…Klout says I’m influential on topics of: coffee and…UNICORNS!

    I know!

    Anyway, I mentioned them once on twitter. Too bad it’s not truly my passion. I’m still reading your book, it lives by my bed. You say things that I’ve been feeling. I am super excited about this book, it’s encouraging me to be FREE…which is what we are called to anyway. Who knows how my art will change. I hope, one day, to be influential in Freedom :) even though unicorns are cool too.

  21. says

    Just received my book in the mail today! Cannot wait to start reading it, Emily. And your story today is so like mine. I just told someone this week I wish I could speak and write about something funny or about homemaking, but God has called me to be vulnerable and share my story which is difficult and tough but also life giving and freeing. To me and to those who God chooses to grace my path.

  22. says

    God has just called me into a very fulfilling, yet hard direction in my ministry. It’s kind of the “why can’t I tell my testimony without crying” type of thing. It’s the …this is a “huge financial risk,” but God if you’re in it, then I’m in it. It’s how’s a nobody gonna be the one to tell a bunch of somebody’s something life giving.

    But, I’m out. OUT of the boat despite the waves and the “man it would be so easy to do XYZ…instead”

  23. says

    Hi Emily!
    I am midway your book and already I’m peeling layers of masks off. I never imagined I wore that many. Oh I knew I had a few for when times were rocky but oh my word! Thank you from the buttom of my heart for exposing my secrets. I now can face them head on when fear sets in and I reach for my mask. It’s not easy.
    I find myself leaving 30 minutes early for carpool just so I can have extra reading time. I even hope they take extra long getting my Sonic drinks out to me….just so I can have time with your book. My mask…

    As soon as I finish your book I would love to do a post about it. Thank you Emily…thanks for staying true to your art and touching so many of us. You have no idea how this book is changing the way I view myself.

    Many sweet hugs to you~ Susie~

  24. says

    what makes it worth it…. worth the risk, the work, the hardship? I suppose knowing that there is nothing more urget then the art at hand… O that we would be brace.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on your book!

  25. says

    Knitting would be easy, productive, practical. So would vegetable gardening or scrapbooking. But I’ve finally confessed I’m a writer at heart, and I can’t look back now. Knitting would fill my daughter’s closet with sweaters but it would not fill my soul tank. I’m venturing to guess thousands of women are grateful for your vulnerability, Emily. I know I am.

  26. says

    Thank you for this post. Such a massive comfort to read this. I wrote my last post in a bizarre whirl of confidence and passion and intense nervousness that I was being too real; exposing that I am not, in fact, “okay”, as I often want to answer. But it’s always these posts that I feel most compelled to write. For me, sharing tbe ways Christ meets me in the dark is just as vital as writing when everything is bright and happy. Days or weeks or months later, I am always, without exception, given the privelege of sharing again, of His goodness– about what He did in that dark that brought me into an even greater understanding of the light. But yep. Still super scary.

  27. says

    Okay, I know I should thoughtfully answer your question, or at least acknowledge the heartfelt eloquence of your post, and tell you how much admiration I have for you and your book… But what I really want to say is…

    I saw those adorable green owls at Home Goods the other day and came SO close to buying them!!! Too cute! (Sorry my brain is too fried for deep thoughts. I like pretty pictures of trinkets.)

  28. says

    Finding the thing that you delight in and God delighted to instill in you can be a hard process. But I think it’s one that we often make harder.

    For me, I like to write. I like to share stories of adventure, love, and discovery. My blog has become my journal of sorts, helping me share what God has been doing in my life. Sometimes it’s hard to let the words spill out. Oh, it’s easy to write but so hard to publish. It’s obvious when I’m disingenuous. No one likes a fake. But it’s so easy to put that mask back up and protect my emotions and soul. Even though it’s what I love to do.


    But thanks for sharing!

  29. says

    Your posts inspire me and I struggle to define my art. I am blessed to have the time and resources to pursue it yet I am stricken with the inertia of fear. Thank you for your vulnerability – you encourage me to move forward.

  30. says

    In college another girl and I were both doing self-portraits for our portfolio class. When the class was asked to compare the two bodies of work, the answer most given was that hers were beautiful and then the speaker would just sort of trail off. Her world was a beautiful one, with fond memories. Mine just left the other students unsettled. I was speaking my truth in images, and found out that no one likes to feel like I do on most days.

    So yes, making jewelry, making soap, being a better cook–everything, anything looks like a better option than putting my less-than-her-kind-of-beautiful in front of the camera. But I’ve been doing it anyway for the past decade.

    P.S. Shannan and I could be sisters…being wrong is a huge fear, or rather being wrong and someone knowing it is actually the fear.

  31. Miriam says

    Emily —
    I discovered your blog a short few months ago, and have been so blessed through you. I am an artist, a musician (it’s so much easier to say that nowadays!) and your sentence here “…when we can talk about the secret things and the mystery of this hope of glory — it’s like someone turned on the music.” resonated deep in my soul.
    I am so moved by the words and the way you write; your willingness to be vulnerable is humbling and inspiring.
    Thank you for sharing you heart with us!

  32. says

    Hi Emily..I have not read your book yet found you from I love your heart! Oh how it is so hard to share some of these stories and yet so satisfying and freeing! I love how God is so mysterious in His ways and how He always finds a way to be glorified in the most “secret” things.

    I started blogging about 6 months by the call of the Lord! I haven’t a clue why He has called me to do it..BUT..I just obey these days! LOL I blog about lots of different stuff but my heart is for women in recovery..that’s my background..How God will use it I don’t know..but like you I sometimes say..can’t I just talk about my garden, about cooking about..whatever! So my blog does have a little of this and a little of that along with recovery issues of growing and learning..

    I trust that God knows what He is doing even when I don’t. I will be getting your book..because even though you are a good girl and I am a bad girl LOL..JK..we all need God’s amazing Grace don’t we:)

    Blessings to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *