many things

Welcome to Tuesday, a day devoted to noticing the little in the midst of the big and taking a moment to celebrate it. I want to invite you to link up below to a post with a story or photo of one of your small, ordinary, extraordinary gifts. This is your last chance to link for a few weeks, as I’m taking a small break from hosting the linky. I hope you understand.

the sisters

my sister and me

It was an honor to be asked to co-lead a couple of sessions at She Speaks this year. Even though our little bloggy sessions didn’t fill conference rooms and they certainly weren’t the main attraction, I was so pleased to meet some sweet new friends and talk about a medium I have grown to love. But more on that tomorrow.

My role was small in the scheme of the entire conference, but I still found myself unable to settle-in and learn. There is something about knowing I have something to give that makes it difficult to receive. So instead of sitting in on sessions about writing, I was pacing the hallways, reviewing my notes and nervously checking the time on my phone.

renee swope

Renee Swope

On Sunday morning, my responsibilities were over and I had a chance to simply sit and receive truth from the Lord as expressed through Renee Swope’s unique personality. Know what she talked about? Receiving gifts. My favorite.

She told the story of Mary and Martha, the sisters who were hosting Jesus at their house. Martha was busy doing all the work while her sister sat still with Jesus. When Martha went over to tell him her worries, begging him to notice her and all her efforts, he simply said her name. Twice.

Gently, sweetly, reassuringly.

Martha, Martha. You are worried and distracted by so many things. But only one thing is needed. (Luke 10:41)

Then Renee scanned the audience, looked directly at me, and pointed a well-manicured finger at my face. Not really, but she may as well have, because she asked the very question I desperately needed to answer: What are your many things?

O girl. Do you have a week? Because lately? My many things list has been deep and wide. Sitting there, in the midst of a room filled with talented speakers and writers, agents and editors, publishers and bloggers, my many things list felt heavy and impossible. Until Renee started to speak my language. She spoke of the choice we have to receive the gift of rest, because we have a God who sees and cares and notices. He will not come undone. He remains un-overwhelmable.

You are worried and distracted by so many things. But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

I wanted to rush the stage and hug her. I wanted to stand up, clap and whistle. I wanted to burst into the ugly cry.  More, I wanted to give myself permission to sit down on the inside and live like I have a God who knows what He’s doing.

Her talk was on Sunday, but it is a gift I’m still unwrapping. Thank you, sweet, southern Renee…for speaking truth, for believing truth and inspiring this brown-eyed blogger at table 55.

What is the gift you are unwrapping today? For instructions on what to post or how to link up, visit the description page of Tuesdays Unwrapped.


  1. says

    ahhh…. rest. quite a gift if we can allow ourselves the moment. i always love reading your words… and hearing your perspective. that connection you feel when the someone is speaking right to your heart. and i’m so glad you got to enjoy a bit after your pacing!!

  2. says

    Oh Emily. So many of us (me included) are in that very same spot with our “many things”. I think that’s why we all find your words so encouraging–b/c they speak His truth in the crowded, overwhelming spaces were we hide.

    I’m quite certain Martha and I would’ve been friends had we lived next door. I “get” her. Mary? Not so much. Boy, wouldn’t Mary be sorry if Martha suddenly stopped doing all the work, the cleaning, cooking, hosting, scrambling, scheduling? Because if not Martha, who would do it all? But that’s not the right question to ask, is it? The right question–as you have so insightful reminded us–is “what one thing is needed?”
    May we daily choose the better thing, just like Mary.


  3. says

    Oh Emily – the Lord has been talking to me about the exact same things lately. Praying for you! And by the way, I would love to hear more about how She Speaks went for you.

    Love you!

  4. says

    I had to miss Renee’ because we had to get to the airport.

    I have put off so many things getting ready for She Speaks this month. I brought all of that stuff AND the “heavy and impossible” lists to my kitchen table this morning. It made me want to cry. Then I opened my laptop and read your post. Thanks Em. Just like Renee’ pointed her finger directly at you, you wrote this post for me.

  5. says

    This is so well written, Emily! And SOOOOOO true. I think you put it best with:
    “There is something about knowing I have something to give that makes it difficult to receive.”
    I love that line because I think it applies to us as moms everyday. We know we have all the stuff to do and it makes it hard to concentrate on the rest that Renee talked about so peacefully. I was pushed to a new level with her talk. It wasn’t just about “we need rest”, but really spoke to me about resting in God- notsomuch resting on the sofa to get caught up in Jon and Kate- which is what I sometimes qualify as “rest”. :)

  6. says

    “…maybe i’d see much better by closing my eyes.” (partial lyrics from a nicole nordeman song written on my mirror.) this resonates with me…usually, a reminder to stop, be still, close my eyes and see Him, enjoy Him. i have found great joy as i begin again to see see them, my family — what is most precious to me in this life.

  7. says

    Once again, I thank you for your sharing your reflections, and for hosting Tuesdays Unwrapped. I look forward to Tuesdays, but I am so glad for you to take a few weeks off. Sounds as if, during these weeks before your girls go to Kindergarten, you’ll be choosing the better part. Bless you for it.

    If you get a chance, read the quotation I’ve included in my post today. Not my words, though I wish I’d written them. Just a bit of wisdom that friend passed along to me years ago. A little hokey, maybe, but so true.

    Every blessing,

  8. says

    I found your Tuesday’s Unwrapped posts and love them; what is life if you can’t slow down, “choose what is better,” and realize the overwhelming gift of His presence in the details? You are a gifted writer and blogger. Thanks for sharing some of your heart with us all!

  9. says

    Thank you for this post – it is funny to hear you describing yourself as a Martha; I don’t read you that way at all! But then, if you’re at all like me, writing is your quiet place…

  10. says

    Emily, your insights never fail to bless me. I’m thankful this morning that you are posting what is coming to your heart. I needed to be reminded of this, especially today. I’m having a very discouraging morning, wondering what I can do to “do” more. Apparently, I just simply need to sit at the brook and take in my season of rest. Bless your heart!

  11. says

    Found your beautiful blog from someone else who was also at She Speaks.

    Hoping, and praying, to maybe get to She Speaks some year, maybe next (!?).

    I am now following….so I’ll be back!

  12. says

    such a great post! i love this line : “I wanted to give myself permission to sit down on the inside and live like I have a God who knows what He’s doing.” i’m new to your blog but i’m looking forward to hearing more about SheSpeaks!

  13. says

    Oh Emily – I absolutely adore the story of Mary and Martha and choosing the one needed thing. What a poignant post… There is SO much pulling at each one of us as women. Striving to be a good wife, raising honorable children, making a home… and yet all of that falls into place when we follow the Savior.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with me and enjoy your blogcation! We’ll be here when you get back.


  14. says

    That story about Mary and Martha always gets me.

    And I remember the feeling of pacing, checking notes and feeling so nervous I could not receive {blissdom}…it takes so much out of you.

    Thanks for the reminder to just be, to enjoy some sweet quiet time and to receive. It is so much easier for some of us to fill up the quiet with NOISE. Our noise. Blech.

    Lovely post as always. You have such a gift, thank you for sharing it with us so WE can RECEIVE it!

  15. says

    Emily~I really shouldn’t be taking these seconds to comment~I am such a Martha right now. Our realtor is coming over to look the house over this afternoon to decide how much we should ask, and I am consumed with many, many things right now and have been a frantic “get this house perfect”, yelling at my kids, but your post just made me cry~there really is just one thing that is needed and this is why *I* needed your post this morning. I have actually been thinking about this whole story this summer~Have you ever thought it coincidence: comparing Martha in this story to the Martha most people know today? Whose magazine and show tend to make me want to put a “perfect” house at the top of my list and then I begin to stray far, far away from the most needful thing…
    Thank you, Emily.

  16. says

    I have only discovered your blog recently, but I feel like I’ve found your words for a reason.

    Enjoy your rest, and thanks for the gentle reminder to the rest of us.

  17. says

    Thank you for sharing. I, like others, had to miss Renee’s lesson in order to catch my flight. You’ve captured the essence of her message, though, and I needed to hear this echo. I have been teaching and writing about the distractions of life for several months now. Still, they have crept in over the past few months.

    I need to be continually reminded to focus on the important things. I hope your break from Mr. Linky brings you everything you desire and need. I’ll be here reading, so please do share! :)

  18. says

    Oh, thank you for this. It brought tears to my eyes. I have “many things” in my life right now. Tough things. I’m trying to hold on to Him, but still I get discouraged. I’ve been wanting to participate in “Tuesday’s Unwrapped” ever since I found your blog a few weeks ago, but these last few weeks have been hard. I have not blogged at all…..Anyway, thank you for your blog and your encouraging words.

  19. says

    I’m commenting later than posting, rushed out this morning.
    You shared a beautiful message once again, Emily. Being in the moment, spending undistracted time with loved ones and ourselves, enjoying life for what it is.
    Not always easy , but certainly the way to grace.

  20. says

    I’ll be eager to see your Tuesdays Unwrapped begun again. The simple reminders you express in (sometimes) such few words are treasures. Thank you for sharing Mary/Martha today. A timely reminder for a busy mother who needs to stop and pray more often.

  21. says

    I ended up writing about Mary and Martha this week too :) I’ll miss Tuesdays with you, but I’m glad you’ll be taking it easy for the next few weeks – I hope they’re full of rich blessings for you. I’m grateful for the Tuesdays we’ve had this summer, and for you.

  22. says

    Linking up today with a few pics from a little buddy playdate. Can’t we all be three years old, and ham it up for the camera while we cram so many rasins in our mouths that we nearly barf?
    Thanks again for hosting!

  23. says

    “He remains un-overwhelmable.” I love that. What a great reminder. I will miss Tuesdays Unwrapped. I hope they come again soon. But in the meantime, enjoy your little hiatus, and keep on unwrapping these moments. :)

  24. says

    you know, i’m so glad God gave all us girls an example of what not to do…and i’m beginning to think that Mary was just a blown up doll! i mean, i never meet people who say, “I just am having trouble doing. I really just love to sit at Jesus’ feet. That’s the only thing that matters anyway.” So, hopefully, God will continue to show me, as well, how to SIT MYSELF on DOWN! 😉 amen and amen!

  25. says

    love this message … love. it’s taken me a long time, years really … to stop the ‘many’ things in my life. with God’s gentle prodding, i’ve completely changed my direction, focus, purpose … and have never been more blessed.

    i’m still learning, God’s still prodding … but at least now i’m listening.

  26. says

    Thanks Emily. Awesome post. I plan to take some time to ask myself–what are my many things? (It won’t be hard to answer). I need to ask God to help me find the better way like Mary.

    You rock!

  27. says

    What a nice reminder, thank you for sharing with us what Renee spoke about. We are so hard on ourselves sometimes (or all of the time) to be and do everything. I need to ask the Lord to take on more of my burdens that I hold.

  28. says

    Beautiful post!
    Just recently the Lord led me to:
    John 11:5 “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister and Lazarus.” Martha is mentioned by name as being loved by Jesus! I just loved that! Despite all her “Martha-isms” the Lord loved her!!! I can find myself being very “Martha” so many, many times and yet the Lord loves me! What a comfort, what a thought, what a blessing!!

  29. says

    She Speaks sounds like such an amazing experience! I’m sure your bloggy sessions were great!! I love the story of Mary and Martha. I am actually reading a book about having a Mary heart in a Martha world… so easy to relate to.

  30. says

    First of all, I adore your blog! Where have you been all my life?

    Second of all, this post was just what I needed. And girl, doesn’t an ugly cry just feel the best?!?

  31. says

    Thank you – You have NO idea how much I needed that right now. I just had the ugly cry. The funny thing is that story is one of the stories of the bible that I know well – I guess I just needed someone to remind me.

    I now know exactly what I should do! Again, thanks!

  32. says

    Hi brown-eyed girl at table 55!

    What an honor to be talked about on “Tuesday’s Unwrapped.” I was so surprised to see me here :)You have captured so beautifully what my heart was trying to say, and even what my heart was feeling as I prepared to speak. I was having a hard time settling, too, resting in and trusting Him with so “many things” before Sunday morning.

    Thanks for recapping what He was saying to all of us. Surely I need it most. I have the hardest time receiving and unwrapping His gift of rest, but this week when I got home, I gave myself “permission to sit down on the inside and live like I have a God who knows what He’s doing.” I felt a little guilty about it at times but after reading your post I know it was just what He’s wanted me to do.

    Thanks for pointing that well-manicured finger back at me!



  33. says

    I am unwrapping this gift of your post in tears. Thank you for sharing Renee’s thoughts. I so needed this tonight with an incredible anount of many things upon me right now. I am catching up on my favorite inspirational blogs tonight and, though you wrote those words weeks ago, God knew I would find them tonight. Thank you. They were a word fitly spoken.

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