what the morning brings

I go to bed with a prayer, Lord, wake me in time. And in the middle of walking through my college cafeteria in a bow tie, my eyes flutter open and I know it’s time. I don’t look at the clock, but I don’t have to. It’s dark, but I can tell it’s morning.

Sometimes the morning brings new mercies and other times, those mercies seem far off. But this is a new mercy morning as I remember the night before. Friends were here, and we sat with sock feet on our sofa. We talked about the real and the gritty, about the fears and the why’s of our faith. We prayed for belief and we shared the serious and the not so much. And as I sat, the low-grade anxiety I had been living with began to slow. The whirring in my heart began to quiet. And the body of Christ showed up in these people as they expressed themselves. But Himself. But them – the mystery of Christ in us, our hope.

This morning, I sit early in the dark and read Colossians. I thank Him for the waking, as He is so faithful to do when I ask. It’s as if every night when I go to bed, He longs for me to ask for a waking. And when I do, He does. You may say just set an alarm! and I could. But this is better.

We’ve been talking about art (or haven’t you noticed?) and it’s funny to me that I’ve had so much to say about it. Every time I sit to write, these are the things that come. And so I say them, and you receive them, and it is a gift to me. I think of this community of people who come, who read, who bear witness to truth. And then, you go and make your art in your worlds and my friends in my living room last night, they do the same thing, and it is beautiful, all of it.

And then I think of Ryan on The Office last night, who said his new years resolution was to live his life like it’s an art project. And I know the writers are making some kind of statement about that, but I think how it should be true even if they are making fun of it. And then Kevin comes and puts an “f” in front of the art, and I laugh hysterically because I am in middle school, apparently.

But it’s still true, the art project life. And so I think about that in the early, as the sky turns pink and fades to light. I hear them shuffling around upstairs and I know it’s time to begin to swim around in the living.


  1. says

    There is something so sweet about your practice here of asking the Lord to wake you up. I am going to try this. If you wake up in the wee hours, which I do sometimes . . . do you still consider that the time to get up and meet with God? I woke up at 2 am last night and got up and typed up three blog posts . . . hmmmmm.


  2. Dad says

    Well, now…that was good. You talk good.

    My alarm BLASTS me out of bed. No still quiet voice waking me up, nosiree.

    I like the idea of art being anything that’s created. Except the art with an ‘f’ in front of it; it would be hard to call that art. Art might be anything created & meant for good, invested with human and divine passion and purpose. That would be a bigger idea than a Monet or an Arcade Fire show. A little talk with someone could be art.

  3. says

    It’s amazing how a decision to wake early to read and create first seems like a drudgery, then turns into an incredible blessing.

    Love that you don’t set an alarm. Something I can’t imagine. :)

  4. says

    I thought of your recent posts last night as I watched the office. Too funny that was, when Ryan posted his resolution. Is it me or has he gotten really quirky? Anyways, I’m always up for a good laugh over The Office.

    I love that you can speak about your relationship with Our Father as one of a loving parent. A parent will wake a child when asked, comfort and calm anxiety when they sense it and give mercy to a child who has been disciplined. Thank you for this today.

    Blessings for you and your family this weekend!

  5. says

    I love it! I love the early morning, but I am also such a sleeper! I have been wrestling with the idea of waking early for a quiet time. This is inspiration!

  6. says

    Isn’t it amazing how when you set the alarm…you still take ages to really wake up, and all you want is a few more minutes. But when He wakes you, you are alert and ready to hear His voice.

    You have such a wonderful way with words…thank you for being a blessing in my life.

  7. says

    You’re such a delight to *listen to*. Really, Emily. It’s like I can *hear* you and you are so comfortable. So real. The early morning awakenings that He gives us…it’s in those times that I know are the essential parts of my day when He does awaken me like that. So essential. So personal. So refining. Times to hear and think and converse about living my day with purpose, just how I uniquely am created, and so it’s a living art – unique and beautiful.

  8. says

    i’m sooo retweeting this – you are fantastic with your words. i pray God continues to use your voice because…i swear sometimes…you’re screaming at me a big fat wake up call and you don’t even know it. :)

  9. amber says

    wow. what an amazing way to start your day. thank the Lord for His new mercies.

    and what a terrific way to start my day. i’m the media director at my church and am responsible for art in all forms. your words are a great encouragement to start my day.

    i’m so glad your shared your heart this morning. thank you.

  10. says

    So very beautiul…this swimming in, this waking up to life and connection and community. Those seem to do an excellent job of soothing that hovering anxiety, always lurking, but calmed by faith in His plan. In the connection to things so much grander than my worries.

    Thank you for your art!!

  11. says

    What a beautiful post. I absolutely love it when I read your blog in the morning. It is always so sweet. Such a great way to start the day. Thank you! Thank you for being sharing the Word.

  12. says

    Wow. I am really thanking God for you and how you are using your gift to build up the body right now. I am so happy I found this. I used to do the exact same thing with the Lord. He would wake me up and I never had to look at the clock…I just knew it was time. And it always was! It felt as if He was sweetly nudging me, excited about our morning “date”. I haven’t allowed Him to do that in a long time…but you have inspired me to start again. Thank you.

  13. says

    Emily, I have been reading. Not talking, but reading. And this week I’ve been given an opportunity to write. For pay. I grew very anxious and fearful and doubting and troubled and I woke in the morning and read. I find myself still anxious – but in the I-can’t-wait-it’s-my-birthday kind of way. Thank you for writing about art. Even when it isn’t as pretty in my head as you make it in print, the words begin to spin new thoughts and gratitude to know you. And to be able to read you. So, as always, thank you. I’ll keep you posted in the days to come. I have an editor to meet with and everything. I hold you somewhat responsible.


  14. says

    i will just say one more time how inspired i am by your words. for a long time just lurking and reading and soaking it all in. and then shedding some fear and commenting. but this art you’ve been writing about is just unleashing my heart. and the fear is melting. and the excuses. and all i can see are the reasons why i need to be art-full. thank you so much. have a great day!

  15. says

    As I’ve read through this series of posts Emily (and I am going to print them out so that I can reread and reread and get the truths embedded in my heart), I have felt this sort of shifting. Things seem to be falling into their proper places, thoughts seem to be clearer, and I feel a contentment. I also feel a “discontentment” in the way I’ve been doing things and thinking about things, and I’ve known for such a long time that it needs to change. You have helped me so much in that.
    The Father uses you to speak to this timid, selfish, approval-seeking, heart. Thank you dear one.

  16. Anne says


    I just saw the link on “A Holy Experience” to you today and clicked to see if it was the same Emily Freeman who used to go to Grace. Lo and behold, it is! And, it looks like you and your blog are very successful. Praise God! I’ll look forward to reading more of what you have to say. That’s really exciting that you have a book coming soon. I’ll look out for it!

    In Him,
    Anne Huitt

  17. says

    Ha! While watching the Office last night, I immediately thought of you and all of your wonderfully inspired talk of making art this year. Hey – that’s the balance in life, right? To be able to make our lives wonderful art projects, but to still be able to laugh like we’re in middle school, even at our own expense. Incidentally, on several occasions at my middle school lunch table, I laughed so hard that chocolate milk squirted out of my nose. I hope I never lose that girl.

  18. says

    ok… so I love that you don’t put God in a box! God speaks to us in countless ways and who are we to say what he does, and doesn’t use… Even the Office! it’s so GOD how i can have a certain idea or thing weighing heavy on my heart and that thing pops in the details of everything I do and everywhere I go…

    I suspect I’ll be praying for a waking, because you make it sound truly wonderful!

  19. says

    I love your blog, Emily, and I especially love the “quietness” of this particular post. I actually felt a knot in my shoulder (could be from stress, could be from the half-a-gazillion pounds of snow I’ve shoveled this week) melt away as I read it. When I read your words “And as I sat, the low-grade anxiety I had been living with began to slow. The whirring in my heart began to quiet,” it occured to me that you might enjoy a prayer that I love, “Slow Me Down, Lord.” Its words have become sort of a mantra for me, so much so that I feature it as its own page on my blog, “this little light.” http://embracethejoy.blogspot.com/p/slow-me-down-lord.html.

    Thank you for your beautiful words!

  20. says

    Oh, my goodnes! Your talent increases with each post, Emily.

    I remember, as a young adult, I use to ask Him to wake me….and He did, every time. As an adult/wife/mom/blogger/business owner/etc., I set my alarm. I need to make sure I have enough time to spend with Him before my day begins. You have reminded me how much I hate waking up to the alarm. You reminded me that I use to do this when there wasn’t so much I was responsible for.

    Your art has inspired me to begin asking Him again…..I will start tonight.

    Thank you.

  21. says

    This is EXCELLENT–I am loving this whole artist theme in your recent posts.

    And I giggled at “The Office” as well–easily the best show on Thursday nights! :)

  22. says

    I’ve only been following you for a couple of weeks now, but I love your voice, your faith, and your sense of humor! I had to write this particular comment because I have gotten an “unwelcome” wake-up call the past couple of days. Not being used to insomnia, I’ve welcomed its intrusion like one welcomes the flu. However, after reading this post, I wonder if being woken up (totally rested, mind you!) in the early morning hours isn’t a directly answered prayer. Two days ago, I prayed that God would send me a “Friend with Skin” (long story short: all my friends live far away – both US coasts and France – and I only see them on my computer screen most of the time). I can’t help but wonder if God is waking me up because He wants to be my Friend. What a lovely thought! I think, instead of rolling over and trying to go back to sleep, I’ll take advantage and spend time with Him. Thanks for prompting that line of thinking in my ever-searching mind!

  23. Anna B says

    A Holy Experience has an AWESOME post about art and life (posted yesterday, I think?) – I immediately thought of your recent series here. If you haven’t seen it, you should go check it out.


  24. says

    Oh Emily, Between you and Ann Voskamp and Emily Theresa Wierenga I have been inspired to go for it. My degree is in fine art and yet I only seem to do Photography because for me it is my “lazy” art. So last night, I went out and bought some watercolor paper. For the perfectionist in me, it can be overwhelming to stare at a blank ‘canvas’. So afraid of messing it up and then see it as a waste of the money I spent on the paper. I am determined to face it and stare that Giant down. and make an attempt to create again with paper, brush, and pigment.
    Pray for me… I haven’t done this in 20 years.

  25. says

    Emily, I haven’t been by in awhile (my bad), but, as usual, your rich, meaningful words moved me. I, too, love those early morning wake-up calls from the Lord; they are clear and sweet and undeniable.

  26. says

    I just read this! And I do the same thing about the God-alarm thing (I think I even mentioned it to you today!). He is so cool and crazy and real. Thanks for your sweet words this afternoon. You blessed me, my friend. xoxo

  27. says

    LOVE where He is leading you. i, too, love the quiet and dark and still of the early hours. it is where i began to really “see” Him. neither the sun (nor the moon!) sets on the praise and worship of His children!

  28. says

    OH how your words jump off the page to me. I find my art in writings on how God speaks to me, I find art in playing with a new notebook or journal, the blank page before me is the most soul satisfying thing to me. Teaching my three giggly girls the art of soul writing in a journal frees my soul. Your words here speak to my heart, making me feel that I am not so alone on following the desires God has put in me. Just living this life well and following my creator and hearing him whisper to me in so many creative ways, that is art. And YOUR art has encourage me today, thank you!
    Shannon@the inspired page

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