About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. Wow. Again, Emily, your words make me hold my breath for a moment and try to catch the thoughts that start racing through my head.

    When I first read the chapter, before watching the video, my initial response was ‘I don’t really have a problem with not giving my art away for fear I won’t have anything left, because I don’t feel like I have much to offer’. But I was thinking of my ‘creative’ gifts, more than my ‘everyday’, my ‘ordinary Tuesday’ gifts, and after watching the video I realised just how much I do hold back.

    To quote Emily, I ‘hoard my gifts and my gifting under piles of doubt, perfectionism, and demand for appreciation…..’ I do this every single day of my life. I withhold love, patience, kind words, a listening ear, biting my tongue, taking that time to do that little special thing for someone else – and in the process I’ve felt this shell hardening around my spirit. The more I try to give less to conserve energy – both emotional and physical – and because of fear of failing, or because i feel like i don’t get what i deserve in return, the harder and harsher my heart is becoming.

    I withhold writing and sharing my words because of all the reasons we’ve discussed, and the weight of guilt and regret gets heavier and heavier.

    As the chapter went on, I realised – again – how much I do everything I do based on outcomes, and let fear hold me back from so much. Outcomes are out of my hands, a lesson I should have well and truly learned by now, given the amount of out-of-my-control things that have happened in my life, despite my best efforts! I’m seeing glimmers of freedom in embracing this, the realisation that I am only responsible for what I can do, and it is my duty to live out my art in each moment the best way I can.

    This year has seen me speak ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’, and I absolutely loved Angie’s description of learning to speak the small ‘no’s’ before they become big ones. I had a situation like that earlier in the year, one where I said yes out of a sense of obligation, and eventually had to say a big ‘no’ that left me feeling like a failure and that I’d let down so many people. I love what Brene Brown says on this – ‘Choose discomfort over resentment’, meaning choose the discomfort of the small ‘no’ before you end up resenting being in the situation caused by the ‘yes’ you didn’t actually want to say. From experience, I can say that the ‘no’s’ get easier with practice, and they make space in my life to breathe and build up the courage for a brave yes.

    I absolutely love this quote – ‘Live your life like a hostess who serves the people at her table’. I could immediately see how that applies to all areas of my life, especially when I am so often literally sitting at a table with someone – around the dining table with my family to eat, talk, do homework; work through all the stuff of life; at a conference table in my office with a client who needs an ear to listen or hard-to-hear words spoken with kindness; at a cafe with a friend who needs to get the words out as she stirs her coffee and struggles to hold the tears in. Jesus, the one who should have been served, came down here to earth and became a servant. If we are image-bearers, then we are servants, and we can make that beautiful to everyone who comes across our path if we live our art in its’ fullness. Which I struggle with, every day, because I feel like a fraud – ‘Sometimes we are called to proclaim God’s love even when we are not yet fully able to live it (Henri Nouwen). I most certainly don’t feel like I’m ‘practising what I preach’, but I have to keep speaking it out, because it is truth, even if what I know to be true (head knowledge) hasn’t yet become belief (heart knowledge). I’m trusting that in continuing to speak love, to speak truth, to speak Jesus, to continue serving, my own stubborn heart will have no choice but to let go of fear and worry and doubt and embrace His love in its’ fullness.

    • Alison,
      I also really felt Emily’s ‘hoarding gifts’ quote as stinging, because it has been true for me in a lot of ways. I remember being struck by the accuracy of it in my life.
      Sarah M

    • Alison,

      You mentioned one of the most piercing concepts of this chapter for me: managing outcomes. Isn’t it liberating to give that up?

      I can tell how affecting this book is to you; thank you for sharing so much of your heart.

  2. One of my favorite quotes is on the top of page 165.
    It simply says, ” It is about becoming yourself.”

    Such few words but they sank so deep.

    After reading the chapter a thought came to mind…offer my FULL self @ every moment.

    I have made it my “daily statement.”

  3. I appreciated the comment on “Instagram” and the value of the moment. Photography is something that my husband and I enjoy together. One of my biggest goals in my photography is to try to share that moment – emotion as well as visual – with others. Following the comments though, I feel as though I need to remember that whether anyone else likes the photo – it was a gift to me from God and appreciate it as such. I do sometimes feel if I “share” my photos and no one likes it as I do then I let the moment become a “negative” for me. I’ll have to be careful about that.

    The yes or no: I like the “small no”, I too tend to say yes and then find I should have said no earlier. I am in such a situation right now and your words really struck home. I’m working on getting out of this situation because it is beyond me on so many levels. But, working on getting out of it with God’s help , finishing what I started and then letting someone else take over.

    Just a humorous note: sometimes when I come home and tell my husband that I have agreed to do “whatever it might be”, his response is “oh, and did you offer to do their windows while you were at it?” This is his way of letting me know I might have overloaded myself.

    • Ha, Becky…you husband sounds like a keen gatekeeper :).

      With age, I think we learn the value of saying “no”; of course, reading a book with a chapter like this when we’re younger is VERY helpful!

  4. I really loved this chapter (ahh, I loved them all!) and loved the quote that Allison above shared, “I hoard my gifts and my giftings under piles of doubt, perfectionism, and demand for appreciation”…yeow. Just writing that out makes it sting a bit more. I wrote about those exact feelings yesterday in my journal. I’m there.
    ***
    Something I felt God has given to me as far as a gift, and with me offering myself, in a way, is with a community garden. I’ve been so out of my element (we moved across the country 9 months ago) that although I was a yes-woman for a long time, I’ve *relished* the yeses here, because it helps me get to know the community and develop friendships. I haven’t found that it’s been overwhelming. I feel like God has been working on me during this time with this issue, and He has still given me the desires of my heart.

    I long to someday do the whole acreage/hobby farm thing. I love animals. I love growing my own food (and eating it!), and I know my personality bent would just revel in that, muck boots and all. I don’t honestly know if it will ever happen. We live in an area that has the most expensive housing in North America, and land is just a bigger parcel of that. We are a one-income family with barely any savings. We get buy and we have a rich life…in other ways. I’ve thought that someday when my kids are grown (and they can choose to do this with me or just stay home when they’re older) that I’d love to work as a part time farm hand. I’d get it out of my system, get paid with produce or animal (meat, wool, whatever), and enjoy the work.
    When we moved to this area, we found out that there was a church just two blocks away, and the first Sunday we went there, we were welcomed by seven people (!) and it’s a very small church. We decided it was a great place for us and low and behold, a woman who is in charge of the garden needed some help, and asked for it from the front in early Spring. I jumped at the chance.

    I could walk, everyday, to this large garden, water, do a bit of weeding, and eat any of the produce I wanted. I would happily volunteer my time to get some of this ‘dirt work’ out of my system and help our family with free, organic vegetables. 🙂 We live in an apartment, and even our little potted plants only have a wrong-facing balcony. I’m not able to grow anything there. I walk two blocks in my boots and fill up the largest bucket I own every couple days! I gave my time freely and God has blessed me with this small, and perfect gift. He never ceases to amaze me with meshing the desires of our hearts, His community’s needs, and folding them up with a sprinkling of wonder and creativity! It is a small thing, I suppose, but He was present in my Yes.
    Sarah M

    • I know how you feel, Sarah. When I retired, I didn’t want to be one of those people who says, “I should go back to work so I can get some rest.” I am an intermediate knitter and a so-so singer and enjoy both. Two things that I said yes to were singing once a month at a nursing home with a small group of other so-so singer and organizing a knitting get-together once a month with some other ladies from the community. They are both just simple no-brainer things for me, but I see the pleasure on the faces of the elderly who sing along with us and the sisterhood that the knitting group has become. They are examples of “meshing the desires of our heart, His community’s needs and folding them up with a sprinking of wonder and creativity.” I know that it’s not true, but sometimes I feel like God just asks us to do the things that we love and that he has given us a gift for. On the other hand, maybe it is true and that’s the point of Emily’s book.

  5. I love this chapter. Though I still feel I do not have all the answers I seek regarding my art and what is should look like, I am more confident as an individual, in my walk with Christ.

    Circumstances in my life are changing as my children mature and I have said “No.” to things that I feel will not benefit my path. (volunteering at school has become much less important.) While saying “Yes.” to new things. (teaching and volunteering at church are feeding my soul.) I know doing these things are my gifts being offered.

    I am beginning to wonder if I am not already living my art and have been all along. Just that now I am doing it more fully and with belief that it matters.

  6. This chapter was both convicting and freeing. Convicting because I find myself believing in scarcity and hoarding, and freeing because when I offer gifts generously I’m not responsible for “managing outcomes.”

    Favorite quote on p. 165: “All we can do is take what he has given to us and offer it back to him in the form of giving it away to others.”

    • Very well said, Shauna. I don’t know if it’s the mom-thing or just certain personality traits but I always feel like I have to follow it all the way through. I am always reminding myself that it’s ok to just plant the seeds. It may take many plantings for it to blossom.
      Bless you:)

      • I’ve learned that, too, Tori….that “it’s ok to just plant the seeds.” And it’s freeing, just to let it go and leave it up to God to make it grow, if that’s His will.

  7. Oh what a blessing this book is. I so look forward to the video discussions. I am not an eloquent writer so my words to you all may be simple.

  8. I have been quietly listening along…the discussion has truly blessed me…this chapter hits me because The Lord and I have been pondering the upside down kingdom we live in and do I just give shallow words of agreement or do I and am I really willing to live and process this world …my life through this lens…so when emily said…We are not here to mange the outcome of our giving…this is it…I. The upside down kingdom…where a cup of cold water has value…the last will be first…to mature we must become like a child…the measuring rod in His kingdom doesn’t exist in the world…all the ways we measure value…the scales we use are turned upside down in Him…this audience of One…am I really willing to hear from Him alone…well done good and faithful servant…and I think these words opens the door that leads us to enter into our rest…the words and applause from others can keep us from rest and push us to strive…and if the applause is silent here…it will thunder in Heaven. Thanks for letting me ramble…blessing and grace to you all…

  9. Q1 I’m selfish as I feel sharing would mean someone really knowing my gift. Why would I want anyone to know my gift.

    Q2 In feeling more confident in sharing my gift without known results.

    Q3 I would not want to offend or hurt. Nos are demeaning so I would rather say nothing at all.

    Q4 Ever be selfless so God can love.

  10. So much of this chapter spoke to me!! I worry about how my “art” will be received, say “yes” to way too many things, and hoard my gifts when I should be sharing them. I love how Emily points out that we can offer our art without having it all together because God can work through our weakness. So comforting!!

    • Me too, Rachel! It would be nice to have it “all together” 🙂 but God delights in using the weak things of the world to shame the strong. His strength is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). I think we’re on the right path!

      • Until we recognize these things in ourselves, until we’re convicted or made aware or see it on our own, how can we begin to change?

        The first step comes before the second, right? 🙂

  11. Emily, I have to resist the urge to highlight every word you write. It is all so moving and has made such an impact on me. For months, alright years, I’ve been resisting the call to write. Even writing that word “call” makes me feel sheepish and absurd, but your writing is helping me to slowly but surely let go and uncover the art God wants me to create. Thank you so much for this incredible work.

    • Oh Katie, we could be twins – ‘For months, alright years, I’ve been resisting the call to write. Even writing that word ‘call’ makes me feel sheepish and absurd…..’ I *so* get you on this, it’s where I am right now, and I’m fighting off fear every day. I figure that’s ok, so long as I keep showing up for the fight 🙂

      Just start, and then keep going, I’ll be cheering for you 🙂

  12. “You are not asked to manage the outcome or ensure the success. Sometimes you are simply invited to show up and say yes…Sometimes making art in the world means taking the risk to move toward a goal or a person, knowing you could fail but facing it anyway,” (page 170).

    This is a profound statement!! It rocks my world, because I so desperately would like to have a clear-cut plan – a blueprint of sorts – of what to expect and when to expect it. I also don’t like to fail, and I’m not so fond of rejection.

    This time of transition has been just the opposite of a road map with all of the details. I guess that’s why it’s called F-A-I-T-H. 🙂 We have to take steps sometimes without knowing all the ins and outs. It’s scary but exhilarating at the same time. I am leaning into this “new-found freedom” – at least I’m trying to. I have to make the decision everyday that I’m going to trust God – show up, offer myself, and leave the results to Him. He knows what He is doing!

  13. Oh goodness.. this chapter, so good. “Be generous with your gifts. Be fully who you are in the presence of others.”

    This is so hard for me! I have not practiced saying yes very often in my history. I have said a lot of NO. Mainly because of fear. Fear of failing, even fear of succeeding. And I struggle so much with fear and insecurity and doubt that I have usually hidden away any ability or gifting I may have. And I have practiced hiding who I most deeply am, and presenting a polished version that seems to be what people want (people-pleaser over here). It has been a long road to begin to offer myself truly. Just the word “offer” has come to me over and over again since reading this chapter. In the last couple of months reading this book (I started it before the book club began) I have been in the process of getting a blog up and running. It’s been on my heart for months to start a blog but it’s not something I ever thought I would do and I have fought/struggled with it for awhile. This chapter has been speaking to that and confirming things, and this chapter especially. I am finally releasing my simple small little blog to the public.. with trembling, but open hands. http://marthakimballblogs.wordpress.com

    So that’s one little way this chapter tangibly has helped me to “offer.” In the process some family and friends have stepped out and told them they have seen this gifting in me toward writing, and have given me SWEET words of encouragement. I had no idea?!

    But what I love and I think what struck me best about this chapter was the very beginning, the quote she starts with on p.160:
    “Our gifts are not from God to us, but from God through us to the world.” -Janice Elsheimer

    I think that grounds me. It isn’t about anyone’s approval or disapproval. I’ll receive both. The offering may not even get ANY notice at all. I think much of my life I struggled with feeling unnoticed. I have an older sister who I just love and admire so much but I often lived in her shadow and felt like she was better than me in many ways and drew everyone’s attention and approval. I felt small. But it did good things in me, the stuff of humility! And it has taken courage to rise up and be my own “me” when I don’t know if I like all of who God made me to be.

    What I love is that God gave me gifts to edify and bless and encourage others.. but ultimately, it is for HIM. It goes back to Him. It should take others to Him. And THAT’S where I can find courage to offer the gift and where I can find freedom from the tyranny of others’ reactions. In the end it’s the beautiful, intimate, secret between God and I.. the One who gives, and reveling in discovering what He has given, letting it come out, offering it back to Him. And He notices every little offering. He notices when I am vulnerable, and He alone knows how hard it is for me in a particular situation to obey. He knows all the history, He sees all of the heart. And ultimately.. His approval is what I live for. His smile. There is nothing like it. And the freedom and beauty of knowing I have His approval, not because of what I’ve done, but because of what HAS been done for me through Christ.. letting the worship of an open surrendered life flow to Him from that rooted place.

    I could go on and on.. beautiful chapter, beautiful book.

  14. p. 163 “Be fully who you are in the presence of others. You are not asked to manage outcomes. You are simply asked to come out.” I am totally an outcome manager. I am an introvert. I find coming out and being fully me in the presence of others to be very scary. I am very loyal, listen well, and when I give I want others to respond to me that way. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Or sometimes they do for a while. And then I get tired because I have given much of myself and need time alone. Or maybe they are in the same place. Either way, it seems like being fully present with the people in my life or them being fully present with me doesn’t last. So I build walls to protect against disappointment. This chapter really called me out on that. I am still processing. But it certainly made me see that I need to let go of managing outcomes and be me.
    That brings me to the next quote, p. 165 “But you as an image-bearing poem, are called by God to offer yourself alive in the world, for his glory and for the benefit of others. You are God’s workmanship created in Christ to do good works, to carry out the inner desire of Jesus, to make are with your life.” There is a higher purpose here. It isn’t just about me. I am doing this as a response to my creator. Being who I am made to be. Like she talked about at the beginning of the book. It gives me some courage or at least a great strength to grab onto than my own controlled view of how the art, the process, and the outcome are supposed to look like. There is mystery. We don’t have an explanation for it all. We are simply obedient (without a full understanding) to what we were made to be. p. 165 “All we can do is take what he has given to us and offer it back to him in the form of giving it away to other. Our offerings aren’t efforts worked up inside ourselves. Our offerings are unique responses to a living, giving God.” This is so true. Holding on to that even though I am scared. And not only holding on but being obedient to our God. He offers first. Then I offer back to Him and to others. She makes it sound like a natural response. And that it should be. The fear and the withholding is not the natural response our “image-bearing” selves were made for.
    I am not a fan of weakness. Just being honest. In my head I can tell myself that Jesus is strong in my weaknesses so that is a good thing. But when real life happens, I don’t accept that. I don’t live it. I am trying to really get it. The quotes by Emily’s dad, Gary, on p. 168 and Henri Nouwen on p. 167 resonated with me. Father God, increase my faith to believe that Jesus works miracles in my weakness.
    Thank you again Emily for writing this book and sharing your “guts” with us. You are my hero. 🙂 Thank you Bloom team for doing the book club and helping me to realize that this book was for me too. Thank you for the space to process it out.

  15. I love how Emily has erected “guard rails” throughout AMLW to continually direct us back to the Source of our Art ~ our relationship with God. She did it again in this chapter on page 162 at the bottom. Saying that if we feel compelled to ration, hoard, or hold our art tightly ~ it is time to sink into God again… to release our art back into God’s hands. I am in my early 50’s and I have had so many false starts in trying to live the art God has put within me. I would just give up if the outcome wasn’t what I expected or wanted and just go back and “hide” my art to be safe. But, Emily has addressed that over and over. I find her encouragement to go back to God, to humbly offer up to Him whatever small things I have, to be the answer, the “guard rail,” directing me back to the right path. It is helping me to have some courage about trying again, and not giving up if I mess up or the outcome is hard. I can be sure that I will mess up and that it will be hard, but if I am doing what God put inside of me, then if I keep turning back to Him for reassurance and direction, then slowly He will show me how to glorify Him with the unique gifts He made me with. I have been profoundly blessed by this book. Thank you!

  16. Wow. I was reading this chapter based on outcomes. I was trying to catch up and was focused on that and not letting the words sink into my heart. Definitely going to read this chapter again but I do know I withhold my gifts and obviously what I do share is often based on outcomes (as I above). Thank you Emily for sharing your gifts with us all.

  17. Q1: I definitely have been guilty of not sharing because I don’t believe what I have to offer is good enough to share. Something I noticed and really appreciate in the story of the violinist – the kids were in essence ignoring him, it makes me wonder if it means it wasn’t the first time he had played there. …maybe, I’ll have to show up more than once to offer…

    Q2: I am hugely relieved and find it confirming to other recent life lessons – I am not to be in charge of, meant to manage – OR responsible – for the outcome. I am only responsible to obey. In obedience, I will find Him and He will take care of the growth – after all, it is for His glory.

    Q#3: I find I have to make both my yes’ & no’s brave & strong. On page 169, what really struck me was, “If things go wrong or life gets crazy, it doesn’t mean I should have said …”. The success of my yes/no isn’t dependent on my circumstances, and just as discussed earlier – I don’t get to control the outcome ever.

    I need to show up where I am, and not wait until I am where I wish I were- but, this isn’t the same waiting we were talking about in ch. 9- this is an out of fear & control type of waiting. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with saying ‘yes’ to too much, if anything my default is ‘no’. If no one expects me to show up, then I haven’t failed. I look forward to Him helping me “offer my brave yes and my strong no with confidence and conviction” (p171).

    Q4: I really appreciated on the top of p175, “As [I] embrace [my] unique image-bearing identity, [I] am becoming more fully [myself].” This includes my lack, my failures, my mess-ups.