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I hold the canned blueberries in one hand and the strainer in the other. I look at them for a few beats too long. I need to pour these blueberries into that strainer. 

So I do, right in the middle of the kitchen.

Not over the sink, not over a dish. Just pour it all right into that bowl with holes and watch as the purple juice spills onto my hardwood floor. It takes me a minute to realize what’s happened.

For a moment, I worry I’m losing my mind. Maybe early onset dementia? Hand-eye coordination deterioration? Insanity? Because first of all – canned blueberries? Who eats those?

I grab a towel and begin to clean the floor, the cabinet door, my own shoes. I recognize I’m probably not losing my mind, just trying to cram too much into it.

I’ve been here before.

Two Decembers ago, we slowed down because every day was becoming an Emily-is-pouring-blueberry-juice-onto-the-floor kind of day. John’s dad had just died and my first book just came out and one of our girls was afraid to go to school. There’s more, but you get the idea that it all got to be too much.

So we slowed down on purpose and that helped us re-collect ourselves. Then a year later we looked back and thought, How did we get through that?

Here’s what I’m hoping – I’m hoping that this time next year, I don’t look back on this fall and say, How did we get through that?

For example, right now I’m feeling like if I have to make one more decision, my brain will malfunction. Question marks and hashtags will fall straight out of my ears. If you ask me paper or plastic? I will stare blankly and resent you for asking such a hard question.

The next few months will be full ones for our family. It’s also different than any other fall, because this year I have a full schedule but John doesn’t. His schedule is to help me meet mine. We’ve never had that before.

Even though we’ve carefully considered all of my fall events, even though I don’t doubt them or question if we’ve made the right commitments, the truth is I’ve never made this many at once before.

On one hand, it’s all very exciting.

My next book releases this fall. In case you didn’t hear when I announced it on my blog last week, we have a new release date. Instead of November 1st, this girl is coming out on October 1st!

And it’s wonderful and exciting. But also? Chickens. Running. Heads everywhere.

I think this new release date is part of what is causing my brain over-load. But the full schedule and loose ends are also doing useful work, forcing me to confront the things I write about and decide if I am willing to live like it’s all really true.

Do I really believe it’s possible to live my life like an artist rather than a robot?

Am I willing to finally release my perceived right to control every outcome and instead trust the results to God?

Am I willing to be obedient in this moment, to respect what this moment is for and not try to cram work into resting moments or rest into working moments?

These are important questions for me, questions I have to ask myself several times a day.

What about you? When life feels too full and frantic, what are some ways you come back to your center?

I have to mention to my (in)courage friends: To celebrate the early release date, we are offering some gifts for you if you pre-order A Million Little Ways. Simply fill out this form to claim your freebies – including a $10 gift card to the lovely Lisa Leonard Designs shop. If you have questions, you can read the details here.

{Photo by FromSandtoGlass}
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  • http://www.pensieve.me Robin Dance

    For a million little reasons I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT YOUR BOOK RELEASE!! Its message is one of challenge, encouragement and inspiration.

    As to this season for you, unchartered territory by YOU, but known to God; isn’t that reassuring?

    “Am I willing to finally release my perceived right to control every outcome and instead trust the results to God?”

    Such a good, honest question; and it’s funny, I’m finding a whisper in my ear over and over again (lately) that addresses it when I start spinning my wheels: Cease striving.

    So….I stop it. Whatever “it” is. And I’m amazed what happens when I LISTEN and obey that holy nudge…because THEN I see God step in. And then I’m blown away.

    Much love to you, and praying over this fall and all it entails for you and your family, Emily xo.

    • Joy

      Emily I’m 66 and have seen multiple “falls.” As I look back…they were each a blessing in their own crazy way. Please give thanks for the blessings of crazy-ness!

    • dusty cress

      Rest gently please. Dusty

  • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

    Thanks, friend. I know you know. Your words are encouraging.

  • http://plantedoak.com kris scorza-sobieski

    “try to cram work into resting moments or rest into working moments”. i needed to be reminded that BOTH can sabotages balance and peace. thank you. and congrats! xo –kris

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    Emily,
    Congrats on your book release! Looking back on my half century so far, I realize that some periods in life are just busier than others. When we are young and full of energy, sometimes our plates are more full than others, but it always begged the question, “What, or shall I say “Who” is my priority?” If the answer is God then I know I’m on the right track, but if the answer has anything to do with my own pride and striving to prove my self-worth then I need to re-evaluate. Also, remembering if God uses the work “No” then I am allowed to use it too, when needed. Praying you don’t have any more blueberries on the floor days.
    Blessings,
    Bev

  • http://www.juliesunne.com Julie Sunne

    I want to believe it’s possible to live a life of artistry instead of craziness. However too many jam-packed days leave me doubting. Glorifying God, yes! But how to do it in a managed mode–that’s the question I continually wrestle with.

  • pat

    so– was that last question a rhetorical one? Do you have answers I failed to see in this posting? Were you asking us to provide all of the answers? I hope not! I am LOOKING for answers!

  • karyn

    It has been one of those days today and this morning I woke up with vertigo. The room spun. This has not happened for a long time. The last time I was at the hospital, at night, it was too much for the doctor. hahahahaha And when the nurse took my blood it all spewed out on to the floor cos I was so sick with vomit my blood pressure went right up.

    So, with you at the … one more thing thing. hahahahahahaha

    If I just get asked to do one more thing. I’ll crack. hahahahahahaha

    O dear.

    Smile.

    Not really.

    Go to bed and pray tomorrow does not wake up like this morning. No one pray for me. Too much Holy Spirit with vertigo. It does not go together. hahahahaha :(

    Don’t anyone pray for me now. Not at all.

  • http://redemptionsbeauty.com Shelly Miller

    I’m asking all those same questions sans the book release and chicken heads everywhere. Love the way you write with so much clarity, you say it in a way that makes so much sense. Can’t wait for the birth of that book. And it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who does the blueberry thing. When you’re alone in it, you think you are the only one who suffers from over thinking.

  • Penny

    Congratulations Emily on your book release!

    I have to admit your experience with the blueberries made me laugh a little, not at you but at myself as I was getting somewhat scrambled .

    I then realized that I had crowded too many things in,I needed to stop , take a deep breath and allow room for what was ‘ meant to be …..be’. Rather than how ‘I’ thought it should be.

    Blessings to you and thank-you for sharing this today….
    Penny

  • Marylou

    As a Pastors wife, mom of three teenagers and one who works full time outside of the home, life can be pretty full and I can often feel overwhelmed by it all. When I get to that point the first thing I ask myself is how is my quiet time, am I spending time in prayer and Bible study, because believe it or not even Pastors wives in our “busyness”, can let that slide! Usually when that’s out of whack then everything else is. Then I will take inventory of what I’ve said “yes” to that I really should have said “no” to. Even if its good stuff, too much good stuff isn’t.
    But then sometime the situation may just call for a hot fudge sundae and the Hallmark channel!

  • http://dianatrautwein.com Diana Trautwein

    Goodness gracious sakes alive, I love the way you write. Even when you’re brain is on overload and your spilling blueberry juice on the cabinets. SO MANY BLESSINGS to you as you jump into this heavy-duty fall. Wish I lived closer cuz I’d be at that barn thingy in a hot minute.

    Really? CANNED blueberries?

  • Triann

    Just what I needed to hear today…

  • http://taylorjm.blogspot.com Jordan

    Am I willing to finally release my perceived right to control every outcome and instead trust the results to God?
    ^I love this one. I’ve been working on this for over a year now, and can tell you this: it’s so worth relinquishing the control. So worth it.

    My soul’s been a little restless this past week, wrestling with one specific topic. My question for now is: how do I live out what you’re calling me to? I hear Him and feel Him moving me, but I don’t know where to go from here. That is my thoughts going into some much needed quiet time this weekend.

    Wonderful as alway, Emily! :)

    • http://taylorjm.blogspot.com Jordan

      and of course that’s supposed to say as always :P I shouldn’t be allowed to comment on blogs until AFTER coffee and food.

  • http://carolinebyline.blogspot.com Caroline Starr Rose

    I love how honest you are, Emily, and how often what you’re experiencing and evaluating in your own life feeds me in mine.

    And also on a much light note — I color code the books on my bookshelf, too!

  • http://kostbaar.blogspot.nl/ Jedidja

    Thank you for this blog. Very inspiring. When my head is too full and I have too much on the program I sit down. I take a cup of coffee and I look at my schedule. Sometimes I cancel visits that are not important.

    I smiled when I read about your blueberries.

  • annette

    Thank you for the post and congratulations on the book release. Blueberries on the counter huh, mines is keys locked in the house and the car. Thank you for the reassuring words and the no we are not crazies, I needed that. It does feel like crazy, but much love and prayers sent your way as well as smiles and peace. We will all make it through. Thank you for making me feel not alone.

  • http://www.nancyaruegg.com Nancy Ruegg

    Those three questions in bold print, near the end of your post, give much food for thought. I want to answer “yes” to each one; there are moments when I can’t. I like your strategy of returning to the questions several times a day, to refocus on what we value.

    What helps me “come back to center” is worship–gratitude and praise, perhaps a song. Sometimes I have veered off quite a ways before the realization grabs me. Then I turn my attention to God, and allow his loving presence to calm my spirit and replenish my joy. As I’ve gotten older, the veering isn’t quite so extreme. Praise God!

  • http://abidingloveaboundinggrace.blogspot.com/ ~Karrilee~

    I suspect it was the Jury Notice that did it… just pushed you right over the blueberry juice edge!

    SO excited for your new book – and this new season, and that John gets to help you in the crazy busy, and that His Rest sometimes takes work to enter in to – but it is always worth it!

    Looking forward to seeing you at Allume too!

    How do I slow and recenter? A walk… some coffee or tea with conversation spread out long… prayer… it’s all good!

  • http://www.ladyingrace.net Lisa Schorp

    I preordered the book on my nook, where do I get the #from to put in on the form

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      Hi Lisa – sorry about the confusion there! Send me an email with “preorder” in the subject line and I’ll get you straightened out – emily at chatting at the sky dot com.

  • http://n/a Carol Wengrowich

    Hi there, You don’t know me and probably never will, that is until we get to heaven! But, I just wanted to encourage you and remind you that there are many out here remembering you in your ministry to others. Life discourages, crams us, squeezes us, hurls us, derails us and sometimes flattens us. BUT GOD, we know is steady, precise, careful, loving, honest, faithful, true and sooooooo much more. LIFE hits us full in the face. Sometimes that charges us forward, but many times we just don’t know how to handle it all. We tremble, we shake, we frenzy, we retreat, get paralyzed and then we hear that still small voice of our perfect Savior,” “Rest with me awhile and listen to my heart “. To do that we need to constantly stay close to Him. Out of reach=Out of touch. Without His touch we are nothing, and can do nothing. Stay close to His touch, Listen always to His heartbeat. — It’s sound, its rhythm, it’s depth, its strength, it’s warmth, its permanent power and fortitude, its healing outflow, that cleansing blood, the truth of its stability, the constancy of its grace, the purification of our souls and the replenishing of our stamina and focus, the re-ordering and re-direction of our purpose and the permanence of his irresistible love. Wow! Now that is CAPTIVATING!!! Blessings to you, faithful one!
    Together in His service,
    Looking forward to meeting you someday,
    Carol Wengrowich

  • http://www.kathyschwanke.com Kathy Schwanke

    I so appreciate your transparency Emily. We all have those days! Praying for your path to be smooth as you go through this season. And may your blueberry juice always land in a bowl! :)

  • http://www.fernvalleyfarmva.com Lynn

    Emily,
    You are my hero. I could relate so well to the blueberry story… mine was trying to strain chicken stock from a can… easy to strain but when you do, nothing is left.
    It was for a dinner for 38 people and, well, let’s just say I was a little overwhelmed.

    I don’t have the answers but I have found that late at night, when everything goes quiet and still, I like to just sit and listen to the stillness. It takes a minute or two to still my inner voice but it’s worth it. I can remember once during a friend’s sudden death, curling up on the couch and just listening to the quiet. Sometimes it takes something like that to remind us that we are not in charge, much as we would like to think we are.

    Congratulations on the book. I can’t wait for it to arrive. May you be blessed with many, many moments of silence to enjoy this fall. And that you make time for them and yourself.

  • http://www.BloomingWithJoy.com Michelle

    This was very confirming. I too, have slowed down this fall. I still think I need to chop the schedule a little more to get through the holiday season with ease. Congrats on your new book!

  • Nancy Lewallen

    Emily…..I am so looking forward to your new book, and have ordered it on my Nook. Let me share that my daily reflections are from the book called “Jesus Calling”. A friend gave it to me after I lost my brother and Mother this last May, and my son had a serious car accident at age 49, and came back home to live with us. It is the most comforting feeling, like you are in Jesus’ arms to read the passages in that book. It centers my soul to be in the spirit of Jesus. It takes me to a place of peace & serenity in minutes. Congratulations on your new book! I can compare your blueberry incident to the many mornings I have made coffee & not put the carafe under it, causing it to pour 8 cups all over the counters, down the cupboards & onto the floor. Not a great way to start the morning! We all have the crazies in this fast-paced world. I try not to let it spoil the joyful moments of my day!

  • http://www.kathycheek.com Kathy Cheek @ In Quiet Places

    Even in the midst of exciting and great things happening, you still have to find those moments to slow down and breathe – so you don’t miss it – you have worked hard and are reaping from that work, don’t forget to take time to immensely enjoy this blessing you’ve been given…I pray God will strengthen you for all the many tasks and long to do list at this time and for slow breathing moments to take it all in…

  • melissa

    I can relate to the husband/wife load swapping… with homeschooling, regular family and ministry activities, for the first time in 17 years I’m the one with more to do and we’re finding it a challenge to get used to. But there are blessings inherent in the challenges, too. May the chickens heads all find their place (whatever that may mean! Ha!) and may you rejoice and settle in that God is the great time keeper and knows why the book release would be good earlier.

    As for recentering… If possible, get out of the house where most of my crazy seems to reside so I can sit somewhere quiet and think and journal and pray and read the Word. Sometimes all I can do is go in my room, close the door and lie down on my bed and pray. That works too. :)

  • http://www.redhousedrygoods.com Cara {RedHouseDryGoods}

    I can so relate. When it gets too hectic, I start to stammer, stutter and use the wrong words in sentences and sometimes do very dumb things and end up hurting myself (shutting car door with thumb still hanging onto edge!). I found myself repeating “I feel so overwhelmed” all the time. I read somewhere (maybe here on incourage) about a breathe prayer and so now I substitute that. It varies depending on what’s going on, but it really helps to realize that God is there and He really is in control. I wish you the best of luck! So exciting about your new book!

  • http://thecalmofhispresence.blogspot.com/ Mary @ The Calm of His Presence

    So I am just now slowing down to get a chance to read your post and in it I see the info about your preorder give away…and I’m realizing that if I had slowed down & read the post when it came to my inbox the tweets between wouldn’t have been necessary ;-). But then I wouldn’t have had a chance to connect a little with you :-).

    “Am I willing to finally release my perceived right to control every outcome and instead trust the results to God?” Oh my did this speak to my heart this morning!!

    Praying for peace in your soul in these busy days ahead. Looking forward to seeing you at Allume.

  • Michelle

    Turning on the blender and realizing the lid is not on.

    Cream of mushroom soup.

    We sold the house before we got all the soup off of the ceiling.

  • http://preciouspagesbypaula.blogspot.com/ Paula McLane Jennings

    I’m going thru a very similar season in my life. I could totally see myself pouring those blueberries thru in the middle of the room too! It’s not even that so much is going on anymore as I have had to slwo down to near halt because of health problems but that it feels like so much is going on because there is so little time I can manage to be out of bed. My red cell count and my iron are super low and I just can’t get anything done. Spilled blueberries would be an improvement over what my house is looking like now. I have not been able to do anything in a few weeks and my kids just aren’t doing anything but making more mess…

  • http://wastingperfume.com Tiffany Deluccia

    Emily –

    You are not the only one! (Which I’m sure you know if you’ve been witness to as many crazy days as you’ve had yourself, like I have :) Last month, my husband’s little brother was in the hospital for a few days, and I was on overload. I picked up my prescription from the pharmacy and then put it in the dumpster on my way into work. Then I searched frantically for my to-do list (an all-important document in the life of a PR pro!) until it suddenly and inexplicably occurred to me that I had put it in the recycling bin. Down the stairs I trudged and found it neatly on top of the pile. Who knows?

    Your three questions are put so perfectly. Wrestling with these myself!

    Tiffany

  • http://itsawonderfilledlife.net Carole

    The one more question position … I so hear what you’re saying! Thanks for making me feel ‘normal’.
    Carole

  • Beth Williams

    Congratulations on your book release “For a million little reasons”. Somehow God will get you through this crazy time schedule.

    “Am I willing to finally release my perceived right to control every outcome and instead trust the results to God?” Yes. It is scary at times, but just letting go and not fretting over stuff is a huge release.

    When life gets full of working long hours and not sleeping my hubby and I just stop. We don’t do anything and just sit on front porch at night and watch the stars. Sometimes it takes an on-purpose pause to just relax and recharge.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  • http://savingbymaking.com Diana

    Well, I just did the opposite: strained my coffee grounds right over the sink so that all my coffee went down the drain and I only had the grounds left in my strainer and an empty cup next to it.

    Thank you for encouraging me that there is life after such events ;)

    Our pastor encouraged us on Wednesday that so often we can’t see how Jesus will help us through our current situation, but He already knows how He will do it. Such comfort! Blessings on your book release!