Kids, cancer, and time (what’s that?). {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

It’s Tuesday, and another round of Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing. I loved learning more about Lesley Miller through this interview and I know you will too. 

Check out more Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing post on the PMW archives page!

Perspectives Lesley MillerWhy do you write/blog?

Writing brings me a lot of joy, and it has since I was a young girl. My parents had to encourage me to go outside and play because my nose was always in a book. When I discovered I could write my own stories a whole new world opened up. Had they not threatened me to leave the house, I’d probably still be stuck in my bean bag chair penning teen romance novels.

Writing still brings me a lot of joy as an adult. It also provides me a way to process and rest. I’m an introvert so I love the (rare) moments when the only noise in my house is the clicking of my keyboard.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I’ve been writing almost my whole life, but during my high school and college years I decided I wasn’t very good at the craft. I filled journals with my prayers, and I wrote term papers that didn’t always receive very good grades. I think, because of the way our education system works, that because I didn’t feel validated or encouraged by teachers then, perhaps, I wasn’t very good at writing. As a kid I wanted to be an author but by 19 years old I decided to pursue other things instead. I graduated with a communication studies degree and decided to try marketing.

I began blogging in 2006 on a trip to China, and then I quickly started my current blog, Barefoot on 45th, to keep our long distance family informed about our life. At first, blogging was a way to simply share factual information about the day-to-day.

In fall 2006 I took an evening writing course at our community college. It was called “Writing for Publication.” My instructor was the first person (besides my parents) to say, “You’re good at this!” In fact, I remember him writing on my last paper of the year: “You have talent. Please find a way to continue writing as you build your family.” At the time, children weren’t even on my radar. I thought his comment was nice, but also a little odd.

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

We had Anna in 2011 and the first year of her life was extremely difficult. I thought I’d “work from home” as a freelance writer and marketing consultant, but when my husband was diagnosed with cancer that same year, I put everything on hold. My sweet newborn wasn’t sleeping much, and my husband needed me too. Being tired and stressed makes it hard to stay creative. During that year I began to learn that our lives as moms have seasons. Some seasons are much busier and more stressful than others. During my stressful season, writing was an outlet I didn’t want to make public. I blogged less and went to my journal instead.

When my daughter turned one, I spent the next year working on a book proposal and publishing articles around the web. A friend and I swapped babysitting once a week and I also hired a babysitter one morning a week. Between these times and her naps, I had enough time to pursue regular writing. It felt amazing to pursue dreams I’d put on hold for awhile.

In 2013 we welcomed another baby, who rocked the next 8 months of my life. He is a high maintenance little guy and my writing took a big hit. Here’s a funny story. I remember going to a writer’s event one night when Owen was about 6 months old. I was catching up with another woman who didn’t have children and I told her that I wasn’t writing much because I didn’t have any time. She said, essentially, if you want to be a writer then you need to get rid of all your excuses. “I get up at 5:30am and write for an hour every morning before I go to work,” she said. I tried not to snap back, “Oh yeah? Well I’m up from about 4:00am to 5:00am with a fussy baby, so that hour of the morning doesn’t work for me.”

Needless to say, I’m blogging much less than I used to because I simply don’t have the time I once did. I’m also stalled on the book project I’m pursuing, because I’m just not sure where to find time in my day.

Lesley Miller

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

My writing habits have changed because it’s become harder and harder for me to justify writing for “free.” While I’d love to grow my blog, write a book and publish on various Christian websites, it’s hard to fit these projects into our current life.

I got really lucky earlier this year when I was pursued for a paid position as Editor of Kidaround Magazine, a regional bi-monthly publication in Sacramento, CA. I am now working 10 hours a week doing all sorts of fun things I never thought I’d get to do. Because I’m being paid, I’m able to hire a babysitter to watch the kids about 8 hours a week, with the other few hours done at nap time or evenings. By the time I pay a babysitter I don’t make much money, but it’s working for us and I feel very thankful.

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

While I write about a lot of different topics (from the mundane “this is what we did today” posts to essays on cancer) my hope is that people feel encouraged after they read something I write. My main audience is women and I truly do write to inspire their hearts, build up their spirits and show them the love of Jesus.

While I don’t always think it’s appropriate to share every facet of my life, I also try to be vulnerable, honest and open with my readers. I don’t want my life to appear perfect, because it’s not, and I find that many women can easily make assumptions about another person’s life and then feel they aren’t doing enough or being enough because they’ve played the comparison game. By being honest about my own failings, I can remind people that we’re all just doing our best and Jesus can take care of the rest.

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

For a long time, my professor’s charge to pursue writing felt like a curse more than a blessing. In the years leading up to my first pregnancy I struggled deeply with the word “calling.” I felt that motherhood might prevent me from pursing my dreams to write, and I put unnecessary pressure on myself to figure out how I could be a mom and a writer at the same time. (Should I stay at home with my kids full time? Did I even want to stay at home with my kids? Could I afford to pursue writing?)

After a lot of prayer, reading and talking to wise women in my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that my calling is not to write, but to encourage other women wherever they’re at in their faith and/or motherhood journeys. Writing is a BIG way that I choose to encourage others, but it’s not the only way. I can also do so during play dates, at my MOPS table, over coffee with friends, and through speaking.

Motherhood is a wonderfully taxing, stretching and amazing job. I will always be a mom but my children won’t always need me in the abundant ways they do right now. I believe that God will have me write more in the future, but in the meantime I choose to be satisfied with the small bits and pieces I have. It’s important I continue to practice and pursue my craft, but I’m also learning that my children are only young once. Everyday I have to remind myself that my job is to raise my children to know Jesus, to love my husband well, to encourage the women God places around me, and to write when He gives me opportunities.

Lesley MillerLesley Miller is a wife to Jonathan, and mama to Anna (3) and Owen (1). They live in Santa Barbara, California in a little house with a huge avocado tree. Lesley is a slow runner, a fast eater, and a big fan of morning walks on the beach, and she believes that even busy mamas should make time to read and pursue friendships with other women.

 

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

Advertisements

When blogging is the first thing to go. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing)

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting today’s Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing guest in person. She brought me delicious pasta salad and didn’t even flinch when James spit up on her white jacket. 

Rachel Zupke is a go-getter and I love that she channels her passion towards projects and subjects that have eternal significance. She’s a teacher at heart and I’ve learned many things by just observing her life.

Enjoy today’s post and check out the Motherhood and Writing archives for more inspiration and encouragement. 

Motherhood and Writing Rachel

Why do you write/blog?

I started blogging to keep family updated on what was going on with us, especially once we had the first grandchild on each side of the family. When I became a stay at home mom, blogging became an outlet for me since I was so used to having daily interaction with lots of people and subsequently lots of conversations. I still blog for that reason, but I also have found that God has me write things that, while I’d love for them to go viral, end up speaking right to the heart of a few key readers (and that is totally fine!). I also enjoy sharing recipes and how-tos.

Lastly, and most descriptive of what I feel my blog’s purpose is, I want to encourage people to live with what I call “mason jar values”: perseverance, passion, and purpose. Hopefully they’re encouraged to do this via what I write in an indirect way but also when I address them specifically.

I started Intimate Truths because there are too many [Christian] women who don’t talk about sex enough. Single or married, we need to redeem discussions of sex and take them back from what society has made them into.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I started blogging back in April of 2012. I transitioned to self-hosted blogging in November of 2013. Then I launched Intimate Truths in July of 2014.

Perspectives Rachel

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

I definitely have WAY less time to write with a toddler. We’ve gone from 2 naps to 1 but that’s also increased the amount of things I have to write about! It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about being a woman, as well as a daughter of God, since becoming a mother two years ago (two years this week actually!). Now that we’re going to have another baby, I can only imagine I’ll lose more time but perhaps that will mean that I’ll be more purposeful with my writing time when I do get to sit down at the computer.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

I get to write sporadically throughout the week in 15 minute spurts here and there. Once a week, I set aside an hour or two to work on things for both my personal blog and Intimate Truths. Thankfully, my husband is supportive so that makes it a lot easier to find the time. When life gets too crazy, blogging is the first thing to get pushed aside but that’s how it goes!

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

For Mason Jar Values (personal blog): I want to encourage people to live with the values of yesterday, things I tend to see less and less in my everyday interactions with others. Encourage you to live with thankfulness for the harvest? I’ll teach you to can summer fruit like peaches. Hard work and perseverance? I’ll encourage you to do things you never thought you could, like take your toddlers camping. Heritage and passion? I’ll recount things from my own life, like making and using cloth napkins, something I’ve done after learning from my mother and grandmother.

For Intimate Truths: It saddens me that sex is such a taboo subject among Christian women, even once they’re married. Even though it is a fairly private subject, there are too many struggles in intimate relationships to not have a buddy to bounce things off of with. I’m blessed to have a woman like that in my life but I’m sure that I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve also given too many women their “talk” because all their parent(s) told them about sex was “sex is great but wait ’til you’re married.” They never learned how their period/cycle worked, the anatomy and physiology of sex and the pleasure cycle, or how to receive pleasure as a women (since so much of sex focuses on the man). The tagline for IT is “sex is sacred, not secret” implying that we should talk about it in a very respectful and forthright manner while maintaining privacy and honesty.

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

I feel incredibly blessed to have journeyed through both fun and difficult years of marriage, homemaking, out-of-the-home career work, adventuring, and motherhood. I am constantly amazed by what God has taught me through everyday experiences. He has revealed Himself in countless ways over the years and I am honored I even have the chance to share what I’ve learned the hard way, and the easy way, about how He wants me to live. And, of course, parenting is quite sanctifying. Sooooo much patience and perseverance needed with my spunky little gal!

Rachel ZupkeRachel Zupke is a stay at home mom to a toddler. Her husband brings home the big bucks as a high school science teacher and she helps out money-wise by coaching (basketball and rowing) and substitute teaching at her hubby’s high school (She taught HS science pre-baby). She writes about living with perseverance, passion, and purpose (what she’s deemed Mason Jar Values) over at rachelzupke.com. Rachel also runs Intimate Truths, a site that discusses sex as sacred rather than secret (intimatetruths.com). Life for her = faith and family, homemaking, real food and natural living, outdoor adventures with their Siberian Husky, and local happenings. (Rachel and her husband welcomed a baby boy to their family on Thanksgiving day!)

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

Living in the Holy Land. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

I’m slightly alarmed that it’s December already. It seems like November was gobbled up by our Idaho to Pennsylvania transition, and now I find myself in another home filled with boxes. At least this time I’m taking things out of those boxes. Maybe I could just wrap them up and use them as Christmas decor…

We will be joining our new church family at Come See The Tree (fireworks, a gigantic tree, and cookies? I’m sold), a community Christmas tree lighting later this week, which will further solidify that it is, indeed, December.

Today’s Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing guest is a new(ish) contributor to Kindred Grace and momma of two. I got chills reading about Callie Mitchell‘s heart for the nation where God has called her and her family to reside.

Catch up on past Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing posts here

Motherhood and Writing Callie

Why do you write/blog?

I write because I’m compelled to create. The first thing we learn about God in scripture is that He “created”. Being made in His image, we too are called to create. As I study the Bible and learn the power of words, I feel an even greater responsibility to share the truth of His love through personal testimonies. Its really an outlet of worship for me.

My educational training is in Architecture and Interior Design. Throughout my nine years worth of school, I could never sit down and begin drawing a space if I had not first written it. I find that writing is the foundation of all other creative outlets I enjoy. I really believe I write to sort out my ideas, to understand where I feel the Lord leading.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I have had a blog for six years now, but I have been writing for as long as I’ve known how to write my alphabet. My grandmother bought a journal for me at age six. I still love to go back and read it. Most stories are about what we ate for lunch that day, riding my bike, or walking my dog.

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

Currently I am a mother in Israel. Being a mom, I love to write stories about my son to help bottle up memories of these precious days. Being in Israel, I feel a certain amount of responsibility to share the truth of our lived experience in this nation. After the first war that I experienced on Israeli soil, I went before the Lord with passion, asking Him to anoint my words with a spirit of revelation, so that all who read will know Him better.

It hit me hard that we are drawing near to His return, and the desire to wake a slumbering church has burned in my bones since. I hope these testimonies will also produce a lasting legacy in the lives of my children. I want them to know their mother was a fighter on her knees, for truth and holiness, first to be lived in our home, and then overflow into the nations. Whatever radical lives they might be called to in the future, I want them to look back and blame it on my prayers.

Perspectives Callie

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

On most days, I wait until my son has gone to sleep for the night. In Israel, we keep Shabbat (Saturday) as a work free day, so I will often partition time to do some creative writing for my own expression of worship before the Lord.

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

I want to communicate the gospel and the nearness of Jesus’ return to the earth.

Often times when I’m writing a piece, I’ll close my eyes and write as if I’m actually speaking to the Lord. Depending on what its intended purpose might be, it will either stay in that format or I’ll go in and adjust pronouns so that it is approachable for an audience. The Lord once whispered, “Speak to me inside of people”.

This practice started after meditating on what He might have meant by that. As I believe the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer, sometimes we need to be reminded of who we are. We’re called to conform to His image, so I often will write, even in emails, calling out that image in others.

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

I learned more about God’s unconditional love after I birthed my son than I was ever prepared for – both in giving love unconditionally to this tiny perfect person, but also through the grace he shows me when I fail to live up to my own expectations of motherhood. Even the smallest interactions with him can propel me deeper into the Father’s heart.

Sometimes it’s the larger moments as well, learning I was pregnant with a long awaited second baby on my son’s birthday, for example. The Lord used the timing to work out something special in my son’s life. Being a mom reminds me that my purpose and presence are greater than just me. He made me because He wants to do a work through me to bless others. Being a writer, I think, is what causes me to pause and take note of those moments, really thinking them through, processing them through His word.

Callie MitchellCallie Mitchell is the wife of Devin and the mother of Aviel and a girl baby on the way (arrived 11/12/14!). She is an architect by training, though her current practice mostly includes lego towers and wooden train track configurations, with a few actual free lance projects on the side. The Mitchells live in Jerusalem as a Messianic Jewish family, and are committed to seeing Salvation come to the people of this region.

Callie’s Blog 

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, http://www.annswindell.com.

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

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.

        Blog | Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest