Writing in the margins. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

I hope you all have plans to enjoy family, spend time around the table, and reflect on the faithfulness of our great God this week. 

I am thankful there are women like Ann Swindell, who are choosing to make God know through their words and their actions. I found Ann through her So You Say You’re a Church Lady series. In fact, that series prompted me to start this ongoing Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing series! Enjoy, friends, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Motherhood and Writing Ann

Why do you write/blog?

For as long as I can remember, words have been the clearest way that I have connected with Jesus. I meet him, the Word made Flesh, as I string words together–I feel his presence and know his nearness as I write.

Words also help me make sense of my own life; writing forces me to pause, reflect, and consider this life that I am living. I write to parse through the dailiness of life and to attend to the presence of Jesus in those daily realities.

I write for several publications that I love, and much of my writing energy goes there. But blogging enables me to write about things in my life that might not have a clear avenue elsewhere, but that still point me (and hopefully others!) to Christ.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I have been writing for publications for eight years, and blogging only for about six months!

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

This season of my life has proven to be one of the most full so far! I am a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mom of a toddler, a half-time college professor, a pastor’s wife, and a writer. All of these roles require time and energy, but they can’t all hold the same importance in my life. Being a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mom are the “big rocks” in my life–they do (and should) require the most attention, energy, time, and love. But I also have classrooms of students who I lead and teach, women who I disciple, and deadlines for articles. So…sometimes it gets kind of messy! But it means that writing is not at the forefront of my life. If something is going to get postponed, ignored, or declined, it is going to be writing.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

Currently, I write in the margins of my days. I write while my daughter naps, I write after everyone else has gone to bed, and sometimes, I write at the gym instead of working out! Ha! On the days when I teach and have finished all of my grading and prepping, I may have a couple of hours to write while I’m in my office–but I can’t always count on that.

Ann Swindell

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

I write in order to highlight the presence of Jesus in our normal lives. I want to offer a space in which I can point others to Jesus through moments that aren’t exceptional–because most of us feel like we live lives that are pretty “normal” most of the time. I believe that Jesus is always making himself known to us in the mundane realities of our lives, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear him. Writing helps me pay attention to His nearness in my life, and my desire is to help others pay attention to his presence in their lives as well.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

Jesus is, truly, all that I have. Although I do it haltingly at times, I want him to be at the center of all that I do–caring for my daughter, interacting with my husband, serving my church, teaching my students, meeting with friends, and writing articles and posts. I spend time with him daily, talk about him with family and friends, and write with the goal of loving and glorifying him.

Ann SwindellAnn Swindell is a writer and speaker who is passionate about empowering her generation to say yes to God. She teaches at Wheaton College, writes for publications such as Relevantmagazine.com, Darlingmagazine.org, TodaysChristianWoman.com, and Deeply Rooted. Get to know her more at her blog, www.annswindell.com.

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The next chapter, continued…

Pennsylvania

It’s fitting that I’m writing this sitting on the very same couch where I hit publish on my very first blog post, two years and three months ago.

I was processing the next chapter in my life in that blog post, on that couch. Tim and I were newly married, a few hours off from driving away from my hometown, jobs we enjoyed, and people we loved. That three-day drive took us from Southern California to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

During the last two years, we rented our first place together, Tim started his first full-time ministry job, we bought our first house, and had our first child. And, this couch moved with my parents from California to New York, where they, now, all permanently reside.

I’m sitting on that couch once again, processing the next chapter in my life. Our possessions are on a van somewhere, headed East, and we are spending time with my family in NY before moving into our new place in… Pennsylvania!

The last month’s activities (like selling a car, selling a house, saying goodbye, and packing with a mobile baby) haven’t left much room for processing, but any spare contemplative moments have been dedicated to gratitude. I replay the ways God has so obviously gone before us in this relocation and I am just thankful.

If I can borrow my own thoughts about the next chapter in our lives from that very first post:

God has proven a trustworthy author thus far, so, in faith, the pages continue to turn.  A new chapter for Team Gardner begins in December!

Alaska, podcasting, and big families. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

My mom’s parents lived in Alaska, in a little blue trailer (with a newborn) during the early part of their marriage. That part of their lives always seemed unreal to me because I equate Alaska to some far off hinterland. Today’s Momma-Writer guest, Amanda Bacon, hails from that frozen, forgotten state. Her Instagram feed has made me a little less wary of Alaska and I’m excited for y’all to hear her heart about motherhood and writing.

For more posts like this, check out the Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing archives page!

Motherhood and Writing Amanda Bacon

Why do you write/blog?

Thanks so much for inviting me to have a part in this series, Emily.

I write because I love it, and I write because I’m called to it. What started as a young girl writing spinoffs to the books she loved, turned into a young woman who enjoyed writing term papers, turned into a young mom who wrote for sanity’s sake, turned into a woman who writes because God has asked her to encourage the hearts of women.

I thought I was crazy for loving to write when everyone else despised it when I was growing up. But now I see so clearly! It’s been neat to be able to look back and see the hand of God in this process of growing in my writing. I’ve only in the last year been able to eek out the words, “I’m a writer.” But I am, and I’m finally claiming it.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

Well, as mentioned above, I began writing as a girl, but my blogging and writing as ministry began eight years ago when I started my very first blog. Initially, it was an online scrapbook of sorts created to update far away friends and family on the happenings within our family. And I also knew real-life scrapbooking was never going to happen, but I didn’t want to forget the fleeting moments, so I blogged them. As the years marched on, I began to write more intentionally, leaving the family updates for FaceTime, phone calls, and Facebook. And now, that’s all I write. My personal blog has the tagline: Encouraging Words for Everyday Life. I honestly don’t know how to write something that doesn’t seek to encourage. It’s part of my being.

In May of 2014, my dear friend Anne-Renee and I launched The Masterpiece Mom. The blog and podcast seeking to bring hope and encouragement to moms everywhere. I stay pretty busy over there and it’s crazy fun being in ministry with a friend, so my personal blog has been severely neglected since launch day. It’s in my heart to be in both places since I only write mom stuff at The Masterpiece Mom. I love encouraging women in their faith in any season of life, so I’m working to find a good rhythm for posting on both sites.

MW  Amanda

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

Oh, goodness. My current season of life is so intense with 8 kids and homeschooling and ministry and writing, that it can’t not impact it. For years, I’ve hauled my laptop, pens, and notebooks around the house to wherever I was working that was comfortable and quiet. But it’s been hard to find solace in the midst of the realities of my life. Last winter, I had the idea of turning the area on my side of the bed into my own little office space. My nightstand was replaced with a little antique table, and I have shelving above and bins below holding all of my favorite writing and Bible study tools. It’s my little getaway, and I love every chance I get to slip away and use it. Plus, it’s the only place in the house I can sneak away to (except the bathroom) and be able close the door behind me.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

I’ve been a mom ever since I started writing seriously, so I’m used to working in the fringe hours of the day. Usually late, late, too late at night. But the more children who join our family through birth or adoption, the more creative I have to be to keep writing. I definitely do my best work in the morning, and I’m working to be disciplined enough to go to bed early so I can rise before the house wakes up.

I always write on the weekends. That’s one thing in my routine you can count on. It’s really the easiest to make happen. My husband Jeremy works his forty-hour work week in four days, so that means he’s home with us for a three-day weekend each week. His schedule makes what I do possible. Even with this schedule, I can’t sit and write all weekend long, so I space out my work in the nooks and crannies during the week too. There’s really no science to it, but it works for now.

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

Last summer (2013) I was on an airplane headed home from She Speaks, the conference for speakers and writers put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. I had my notebook open on my tray table just thinking, praying, and trying to remember things I wanted to be sure to jot down from my time at the conference before I re-entered the atmosphere of my large (and loud) family. As I was contemplating, the Lord brought these words to the forefront of my mind, “You are to make God’s word known.” It felt right, like that’s what all of this writing has been leading up to. I want to make God’s word known. So in the last year, I’ve been diving more into Scripture, teaching myself, so I can in turn teach others. I love using the Bible to round out a message, always pointing us back to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

Of course faith is it’s own separate thing and is the most important aspect of my life, but these three areas are completely intertwined on a daily basis. When I’m mothering, aspects of faith and ideas for writing are always hanging around too.

I jot notes into my phone or iPad when inspiration for writing strikes, because this can’t be predicted and my brain is mush these days and I can’t remember anything anymore. If I don’t write down that brilliant idea I’m “sure” I’ll remember because it’s so good there’s no way I’ll ever forget it as long as I live, it’s gone into the abyss of all the other ideas I’ve lost because I didn’t take time to write them down.

When I’m reading the Bible or praying, mothering and writing are swirling as I read and pray. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so involved in three things all at once before. They’re what make me who I am. Marriage is in there too, of course, but these three are constant in the times I’m home alone with the kids all day. And struggle to stay focused.

amanda bacon

Amanda Bacon lives in Alaska and has been married to Jeremy for fifteen years. She is the mother of eight children ages two to thirteen (five by birth, three by adoption.) Amanda blogs and is the co-creator of The Masterpiece Mom, the brand-new blog and podcast bringing hope and encouragement to moms everywhere.

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Turning 30 and bringing about order. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

Today’s guest for the Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing series is Abra Carnahan. We live a couple cities apart and I’m bummed that we won’t connect in person before our big move. She wrote about making the most of your mission field (especially when that mission field involves laundry and dirty dishes) on the blog in February and I’m happy to have her back here again!

Like always, check out the Motherhood and Writing Archives for the other perspectives in this series.

Motherhood and Writing Abra

Why do you write/blog?

I think clearer when I write. When I’m trying to understand something better, I sit down and type it out. Usually when I blog, the topic is one I am trying to bring order to in my own head. Since a lot of those topics are fairly commonplace, my hope is that readers and I can bless one another through exchanging perspectives and encouraging each other.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years, however I’ve only been at Mere Breath (current blog) since January of 2013.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

Just before I turned 30, it occurred to me that I was gradually coming of age to become a Titus 2 woman — it terrified me! I knew I had to get more proactive about becoming the person God designed me to be. I started reading several books a month and listening to sermons when washing dishes. I feel very blessed to have found several wonderful sources that poured life-giving truth into me. Often I’d hear or read something that was simply too good to keep to myself, so I started sharing them on my blog. Every now and then I’d even find time to write down some of my own desires, impressions and reflections.

Perspectives Abra

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

For at least an hour, every afternoon, we require our kids have quiet time in their rooms. My youngest nap or play with their toys. My older girls read, color or play outside. It took some work to establish this routine, but we’ve found it to be well worth the effort. It gives me time to cultivate Psalm 46:10 and Proverbs 4:4-5, which has proven essential to my work as a wife and mommy.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 NLT

 

My father taught me, take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom; develop good judgement. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Proverbs 4:4-5 NLT

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

Our faith and who we think God is overflows into every aspect of our lives. For me, blogging serves as both creative outlet and intellectual stimuli. When I resolved to write for God’s glory, I didn’t expect the discipline to improve my homemaking skills, but somehow it has. I find myself more motivated, interested and focused and there has certainly been an increase of peace and joy in our home. My husband says I’ve become more resilient generally and is supportive of my endeavors. My 8 year old daughter recently became interested in reading what I write and asking questions about it, which has led to some delightful conversations! God is so good!

Abra CarnahanAbra and her husband, Ben, have been married 10 years. They live in North Idaho where she stays home with their four children. Abra is passionate about pursuing God and her hobbies: reading, archery and eating cheese.

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Babysitter Advocate {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

Today’s Motherhood and Writing guest is Cara Meredith. You’ll notice that she references her son, but in the time between responding and this post going live, she is now the mom of TWO beautiful boys.

If you’re new to this series, check out the archives for more perspectives of motherhood and writing!

Motherhood and Writing Cara

Why do you write/blog?

I write because I have a story to tell. I write because the process in and of itself is healing and therapeutic to my head and heart. And I write because I’d start going a quick-crazy were I not to take this time to put pen to paper (or, fingers to keyboard, as is more often the case).

How long have you been writing/blogging?

Ever since I could form letters and let my imagination come to life on the page, writing has always been a form of soul food to me. In high school, college and graduate school, I preferred the process of writing essays and research papers to standard test taking; vocationally, I taught high school English for four years, and then worked for a non-profit outreach ministry for eight years. In both environments, writing was part (but certainly not the whole) of my job, and as I look back on it now, often one of my favorite aspects. In that way, I sporadically started blogging in 2006, but it wasn’t until officially leaving the work force to pursue writing and speaking that I began blogging and writing with intention.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

Well, for starters, it’s definitely given me material! Parenting a young child is my current season of life, and because I left my (paid) job to both take care of our son and pursue my dream, I find that there’s a balance and a dance and a juggling act that take place everyday. For instance, I’ve finally come to understand that I cannot care for my son and write at the same time; I am not the brilliant multi-tasker I’d like to call myself, and frankly, my son doesn’t want Mama paying more attention to the lap top than to him! I must be creative then with when and how I write, and with a second little one set to arrive within the month, we’ll soon be finding an entirely new balance.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

I used to have the luxury of writing any time I felt like it, within reason of course. Writing now has often become the luxury I choose when I have free time – so if I ever find myself complaining about not having enough time to fill-in-the-blank whatever, I remind myself that this is the choice I’ve made. This is how I’ve chosen and am choosing to spend my free time. In that way, I primarily write during nap time, after our son has gone to sleep, and during the day when we hire babysitters (of which I am a HUGE advocate!).

Perspectives Cara Meredith

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

My tagline is “finding Beauty in the most unlikely of places.” Because to me, Christ is Beauty, and he can be found anywhere and everywhere: in the messiness of life and in the tears we shed, over a meal with friends or in time spent in nature; on a Sunday morning or a Friday night, at Target or while sitting in traffic, driving across town. Although my audience certainly includes a large percentage of Christians, there also exists a number of people of no religious belief or background, so for me, my words reflect a varied, inclusive nature – and that, I suppose, is my battle cry. I want to communicate Truth and Beauty and Love, even if my words don’t scream Jesus, Jesus, Jesus every other sentence.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

The intersection of faith, writing and motherhood IS my daily life. It is the mess and the grime, the love and the laughter, and the stories that keep me going, even when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope (which is, as it seems, more often than not). This intersection, plain and simple, is me.

Cara MeredithCara Meredith is a writer, speaker and musician from the greater San Francisco area. She is currently writing her first book, a memoir of belief and disbelief, only when she’s not on a hunt for the world’s greatest chips and guacamole. She loves people, food, reading, the great outdoors and her family. She is wife to James, and mama to their two-year old son, Canon, and a second little boy set to make his appearance in August (Theo arrived 8/29/14!).

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