Call it a hunch or an inkling.  Whatever it was, I clicked submit on the contest form to win an invitation to the book release party for Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman.  I rarely enter contests, but something or someOne nudged me forward this one time.  I have every book Emily has written and have followed her blog ever since blogging became “a thing.”  She’s one of those authors who literally writes the things in my head.  Her writing voice is gentle, calming, and wise beyond her years.  She is also the sister of the DIY, home decor blogger, The Nester.  A talented family, indeed.

At 9:26am on Saturday, July 25, I received the following statement in my inbox:

Your name was chosen to join us at the Nester’s Barn on August 22 for the Simply Tuesday release party!

To say that screams & squeals abounded is an understatement.  As the words, “oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh,” streamed from my lips, I picked up the phone and called my sister, Sarah.  I could bring a guest and she is literally The Nester’s #1 fan.  The event was to be held at her newly famous barn in NC.  Much jumping and exclaiming ensued, and we plotted our unexpected adventure.

August is a busy time of year, so I didn’t have much time to ponder the journey to come.  I treated it like a hushed secret with no expectations that might result in any form of disappointment.  The morning we were set to leave, I crammed all four of Emily’s books along with The Nester’s book into my carry-on bag and headed to the airport.  Sarah and I were flying standby to save money and the news wasn’t good.  The flight we’d hoped to take was full with no great options for the rest of the evening.  Thankfully, the event wasn’t until the following day, so we did what any sane wife/mother would do and promptly took a shuttle to an airport hotel for the night. Yes, we opted to stay at a hotel in our own city rather than trudging  home because this was a sister weekend and our husbands were on duty.  I do believe no further explanation is necessary:)

Our early morning flight was wide open, and we landed in Charlotte, NC in the early afternoon.  After hearing the reason for our trip, our friendly shuttle driver exclaimed, “Oh, so you’re Christian decorators!”  Sarah and I laughingly glanced at one another and replied, “Well, yes, I guess we are!”

I am doing a guest post over at Intertwined about meeting The Nester and about her amazing space and special decorating powers.  I’ll let you know as soon as it’s posted over there because the photos alone are worth it!  In this space, I’m going to focus on meeting the other sister, Emily, author of the newly released book, Simply Tuesday.  I have followed Emily for so long that I truly feel I know her in real life.  Her recent book has challenged me to celebrate my smallness.  Perhaps my fondness for Emily stems from a dark time in my life when I felt led to reach out to her via email.  Here’s a transcript of that conversation.  You will see why I love her so.

5/28/14
Dear Emily,

I’m a “lurker” fan of yours.  I’ve read everything you’ve ever written, and it always touches me deeply.  I’m writing to you today because your post today did me in.

For the past 3 months, I’ve been struggling with constant anxiety and panic attacks.  After 37 years, I’m realizing that I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life, but “managed” it by turning to the ego-building coping mechanisms of perfectionism and “too much activity.”  In other words, a type-A go-getter.  I pretended that I was using my gifts for God instead of recognizing that I was using them to make myself feel better and hide my sin.  If you saw me, you’d think I had it all together, but I’m literally falling apart struggling to make it through each day.  I work as a the Director of Communications at a church and have laughingly done speaking and writing on my blog “Seeking the Still.”  How ironic, I know…

After chairing a huge event 2 months ago, I literally had a nervous breakdown and haven’t been able to get it together since.  Last night, I ended up in the fetal position on my bathroom floor with the recognition that for all these years, I have been making an idol of myself, opportunities, and my talents.  And like all idols, I was bound to crack under the weight of the pressure.  I confessed my sin and cried to the Lord to forgive me and set my path straight with my eyes fixed only to Him.

I know you are very busy, but if you would say a prayer for me in this desperate time, I would really appreciate it.  I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful young daughters who need their wife/mom back.  I am blessed to have supportive friends and family, but like me, they are at a loss of how to help.  I know you’ve written a lot about anxiety, so I suppose I feel a kindred spirit in you.  I don’t typically reach out to strangers, so this is new for me.  I would deeply appreciate your prayers.

Please keep writing your beautiful words of truth, hope, and life.  They are literally words that help real people make it through the day to a new dawn.   God bless you.

Laura

 

Dear Laura,

First – thank you for trusting me with this piece of your personal story. That is a gift, you know – to be brave enough to put into words the truth, the struggle, the heartbreak that comes with being human. Your story resonates with me so much.
You say “I literally had a nervous breakdown and haven’t been able to get it together since.” Laura? I hope you never get it together, at least not the way we think we ought to. Do you know what I thought when I read those words of yours? What a brilliant place she’s in right now. I once heard Larry Crabb say “God lives at the end of our rope.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that.
And so I pray for you  now – for you to know the scandalous love of God, not just in your head but deep in your bones; for you to rest in his presence just as you are and not as you think you should be; for you to find laughter, hope, and peace. I pray this for me too – for us together.
Keep me posted?
You’re not alone, my new friend. Never, ever are you alone.
emily
Emily Freeman is the real deal.  She didn’t have to reply to stranger on the other end of email, but she did.  She cared enough to spread hope, and I was thrilled to thank her in person.

IMG_4895

IMG_4896

This is what I learned from the evening I spent celebrating the release of Emily’s book, S imply Tuesday.  I learned that Emily is grounded in faith and purpose.  She is humble and deep.  Her love for her Savior and her community shines greater than any book or blog post ever could.  Emily’s writing has always been a beacon of light for me, but after meeting her in person I have a greater respect for the way she walks the walk.  Do yourself a favor – buy Simply Tuesday, visit her blog Chatting at the Sky or sign-up for Hopeologie.  Her photography alone will inspire.  As Emily says, create a little space for your soul to breath.