Come sit on the bench and let your soul breathe.
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Welcome to the bench, where I share a secret note for subscribers only (That's you!)

I love these because it feels a little more personal to 
write this way, and I can share some behind-the-scenes stuff with you that I won't share anywhere else.

Settle in for a few minutes and let me tell you about that decision fatigue I mentioned on the blog yesterday.

You know it, right?

You have decisions to make about so many different things that it feels like you're juggling legos.

You fear you will accidentally agree to teach a math class or rob a bank because you just wanted to give an answer and you didn't take the time to read the details.

It's a disorder where your brain is swimming inside your head and all it will take is one "chocolate or vanilla?" to float you right over into the dark side.


When you're suffering from decision fatigue, you can't differentiate between the important decisions and the unimportant decisions.

They all feel equal, gray, heavy, and dizzying.

To give you a sense of how this has played out for me, let me tell you an embarrassing decision I made recently.

This is me and Jane Willard. 

Jane is lovely and kind. She is also the widow of Dallas Willard. Maybe you've heard of him - philosopher, spiritual formation writer, author of award-winning books like The Divine Conspiracy and Hearing God.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Dallas before he went to heaven in 2013, but I've learned from many who have loved and been influenced by him. Most recently, his wife Jane.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Jane beneath a southern California sky.

With all of her years of wisdom and learning, with all of her life experience and walking with Jesus, what do you think I chose to talk with her about?

I almost can't tell you.

I'm dying on the inside right now at the thought of telling you. But this is what these newsletters are for, right? I can't bear to put this on the Internet.


I talked to her about my schedule, y'all.

My dumb, sometimes overwhelming and unpredictable schedule.

It's such an ordinary conversation to have with such an extraordinary woman. But this is my real life and these are my real concerns and I can't make them interesting.

Lately it's not been too busy, but as I anticipate a book release and middle school starting for my girls at the end of the summer, I know the potential for overwhelm.

Plus I have lego brain.

And so when I met with Jane, I was aware of all of this, of several events pending and decisions that needed to be made and I wasn't sure what to do.

Decision fatigue had taken over and I couldn't differentiate between what I wanted, what was best, and what was downright un-wise.

I told her I wished there was a defined, sure way to make these kinds of decisions, like a lovely formula, a blessed outline - something I could depend on.

She listened kindly, asked curious questions, offered a few words - these I remember the most: "Is there a reason you feel like you need to establish a rule of life in this area?"

I could tell she was looking for the deeper truth beneath the truth. Decisions were overwhelming me, yes. But why?

We teased out part of it is a fear of change and another part is a fear of choosing wrong and, I'm sure if we had longer, we could have teased out a bunch more fears beneath the fears.

As I spoke with her, I knew she couldn't give me an answer, but I felt a compulsion for direction, for certainty, for solid ground.

Listening to the sound of Jane's voice muffled by the fountain behind us pouring steady, I heard a whisper in my soul.

You've run away again.

This isn't the first time I've searched for stability and security in a predictable schedule and a manageable life. 

Two things I took away from my conversation with Jane:


1. Having a system isn't always the answer.

As much as I wish I had a bucket for every detail and decision to land in, this kind of clarity may not be what my soul really needs.

Where is Christ in this bucket theology?

Where is faith in midst of certainty?

I want trust to be my instinct rather than my backup plan.

I long to receive the days as they come rather than rush ahead and try to figure them out.


Like tying my shoes or playing the piano, I want to develop a habit of trust in my body.

Jane helped me to remember this.

But that's not all, because I also learned this:


2. Having a system is sometimes the answer.

Earlier in the day, I heard her mention how when Dallas was very busy, she started a committee to help him say no to things.

She said it in passing, but I caught that comment like a firefly, cupped it gently in my hands and waited for a moment to ask her about it. 

As we sat together, I asked her more about this committee and learned it was her idea to form a group of trusted people to help Dallas to make space for his writing and wise choices about his schedule.

That sounds a lot like a system to me - a beautiful, community-driven, loving, human system.

I adored the idea, partially because it confirmed something I was already doing.

After Grace for the Good Girl came out, Lysa TerKeurst offered me this advice once speaking requests began rolling in: form a Speaker Board who can help set fees and discern direction as it relates to events and requests.

I did this years ago, but I wasn't very formal about it. After speaking with Jane, I realized in the same way I want to develop a habit of trust in my body, I want to also develop a habit of action in my life.

I can't do this alone.

Our people are the eyes outside our body to show us what we can't see.

They can also be our trusted advisors to remind us what we most want and who we most deeply are.

They do this not only in theory, but in practice.

When I returned home from California, I sent an email to those on my speaker board, shared honestly about my decision fatigue, and gathered a renewed commitment from them to advise me in my speaking decisions.

Not only did they help me discern what to do next, they did so with enthusiasm, care, and thoughtful attention. 

I tear up just thinking about it now.

I can't say with certainty when exactly I need to sit down and wait and when I need to establish a system. 

They both require faith.

Jesus is kind enough and smart enough and timely enough to let me know. 

He won't let me miss it. He won't let me miss him.


As we closed out our time together, Jane asked if she could pray for me. She reached for my hand like it was the most natural thing on earth, closed her eyes and prayed:

"Lord, be with her as she makes her decisions. Help her to be a friend of change."

And so I wish the same for you.

(Now if I could just convince my Board to also be my Where To Send My Kids To School Board. What To Make For Dinner Tonight Board. Which Book To Read Next Board.)

Unlike some parts of life, identifying what simple things are making me happy right now is not a hard decision.

This is the part where I share some of those fun things with you. Maybe they'll make you happy, too.

1a. Choose Hope cuff - Made by Farm Girl Paints to celebrate the release of the book Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin. Love it and wear it.

1b. Anti-redness cream - In that same photo, it's the tube of green cream. I've finally found a product that masks the redness of my dry face skin. Too much information? I don't care! It's a foundation primer and it's green and it works and I love it and I promise you won't look like Elphaba. Unless you use too much. (You can find it here at Merle Norman).

2. Finding my corner - After talking with Jane, I drove to the shore, sat next to the sea and stared at my name on this cup. I became aware of a deep desire to be more fully aware of the corner meant for me. I once heard Christine Caine say (when talking about ministry and/or opportunities) "If it doesn't have my name on it, I don't want to touch it." That'll preach.

3. Winter sunrise - I can't get enough of the sun coming up on these cold winter mornings. I took this shot shortly after take off a few weeks ago.

4. Being a grown up - After wondering what filling was in each of these chocolates, I decided to try them all. It's good to be a grown up.

While I periodically share on the blog books I've finished or ones that I love (see my list of Recommended Reads), here is where I will regularly tell you what I'm currently reading. 

Since I took this photo, I actually have already finished these books listed here and have moved on to others. Here are the ones I've recently finished:

1.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

She did a lot more drugs and had a lot more sex than I thought. (Spoken like a true good girl! What can I say?) She's also a lot more grounded and tender than I imagined. Yes, all that can co-exist. 

2. Soul Keeping by John Ortberg

I tried to listen to the audio book of this and couldn't get into it. Then I started reading it and couldn't put it down. I guess I like reading more than listening. Just finished it and it has helped my soul to take a deep breath. And you know how much that means to me.

3. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

A great airplane read. I liked What Alice Forgot so I wanted to try out this one, Liane Moriarty's first novel. It was good. Won't go on my favorites list, but fit the bill for a traveling read.

Carrying over from last month I'm also still reading 
The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski and Home is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson.

Even though I was embarrassed later when I thought about how I shared my scheduling anxieties with JANE WILLARD, I'm thankful she took the conversation seriously.

She respected my place and my concerns.


She brought my requests to Jesus.

That may be what I learned most of all - everyone is in their own particular place, some more serious than others but all important.

I want to be a person who holds the concerns of others with great care. I bet you want that, too.


As always, thank you for trusting me with access to your inbox. It's an honor to be here.

Remember you can simply hit reply to this email with your questions or comments and your response will land directly in my inbox.

emily

P.S. While I've been thinking a lot about this decision fatigue, I was asked to write a guest post for Meaghan O'Connor, sharing 22 Things I'd Tell My 22 Year Old Self. It was healing to write down simple truth for my younger self because really, it's the kind of truth my older self needed to remember.
 
Chatting at the Sky

A few highlights from the blog:

The Spiritual Discipline of Wearing Better Pants - The day I decided to stop wearing clothes that hurt me.

The Spiritual Discipline of Learning Nothing - For when I see God as only my teacher and forget he is also my friend.

Here's What Your Soul Needs You to Know - For when systemizing your schedule leads to suffocating your soul.

One Question I Ask Myself Before I Pray for Clarity - Pulled this one from the archives, but it fits in nicely with the concepts I shared in the letter today.

Listen

A few good listens around the web:

The Covers Album

Christa Wells' newest album just released today, five cover songs that are fantastic. You can download them from Noisetrade for free right now! 

She does "One" by U2 with Kaleb Jones and it is stunning. 

The Hope*ologie Podcast: The Q & A Show

You asked, we answered. Dad, Myquillyn, and I answer reader questions and I talk WAY too much. But it's still fun and I hope you'll listen in. 

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