Dear Friend: burnout, joy-bringers, a new job + a book review 💛
What I'd tell you if we were having lemonade together on this June day 🍋
My heart sank when I counted the months since I last had space to write a letter. It has been October since my last letter to you. But burnout hit me hard this winter and spring. Part of being gentle to myself was to set things down and trust I’d have space for them again later. I have no regrets about the months between the last letter and this one, just some grief that that break was needed.
I’m so glad to be back with you again.
And if burnout has taught me anything, it is showing me that the Lord does not turn from my need or my cries for help.
He is not merely tolerating me or putting up with my need. He is drawing near and holding space for all of me. He is calling me Beloved and telling me how glad he is to be with me.
I’m finding the Lord is removing yet another layer of dragon scales (like Eustace in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader) of my self-sufficiency and belief that my neediness is a curse. I keep returning to this quote as it reminds my heart to reframe my need as an offering instead of something to war against:
“We see our neediness as an enemy to be fought instead of an offering to be brought near the Father.”
-Rev. Summer Joy Gross
Episode 17, The Presence Project podcast
Do you treat your neediness like an enemy too? If you do, I am praying for your heart as you read this letter.
May you feel the invitation of the Lord to bring your need to him as a precious offering. You are so loved.
Let’s start with a few recent joy-bringers:
Shayda Campbell’s tutorials on youtube. She has lots of videos that I’ve only begun to delve into, but this floral doodle one is my favorite so far. I’ve loved trying her sketches in the corners of my journals or adding them to the things I’m painting. I purposefully didn’t learn technique for watercolors for months, to allow myself to play without the concern of “getting it right.” But I’m at the point now, where I’m enjoying being taught and learning some new techniques and things to try.
PS. Here’s a gladiolus doodle of mine from one of her tutorials.
the Gentle and Lowly podcast. The episodes only tend to last about 4 minutes (which is perfect for my often-overstimulated-self) but they're loaded with goodness. You can see my notes on episode 1 here. This is quote is sticking with me: "The posture most natural to him is not a pointed finger, but open arms."
My little free library. It went up this spring, and adding favorite books or hand-painted bookmarks to it has brought so much joy. My kids and I visit it almost every day, and it feels like a gift to be keeping it in order and curating the book selection. I had a childhood dream of being a librarian, and organized all my books and even made “ALB library cards” for my brothers. That little girl is pretty giddy to have a version of the ALB library coming true in her adult life.
This deodorant! I’ve honestly struggled for years to find a deodorant that actually worked and didn’t irritate my skin and had ingredients that didn’t make me nervous about cancer someday. I made my own deodorant for a few years, but last year started having a reaction to the baking soda in it. I’ve loved the scent (Fresh Falls is what I’m using) and feel grateful to have found something that smells so good and my skin seems happy with.
Being outside is doing wonders for my mental health, and I suspect, my kids’ too. I recently gave them the choice of going to a park or going to the creek, and they agreed that they wanted to go to the creek. Seeing their imaginations and the endless possibilities for play outside is such a gift. And I’m amazed all the time at how healing and helpful it is for me to be outside.
5 sense gratitude. My kids and I recently started doing this simple practice while eating lunch. I lead us through each sense and we name something we’re grateful for from that day. What we are currently eating for lunch is often prominently featured in the taste/smell categories. This feels like such an accessible way to slow down, adapting the practice of 10 minutes of stillness to include my kids.
Some personal updates:
I started a part-time job this April as the Creative Assistant for Enneagram.Life and I’m just so grateful. It is a joy to get to be part of work I already believe in so much. I’ve been so helped by the tool of the Enneagram and see it as such a good launch point for growth and spiritual development. I love getting to support this work more through this new role.
The little corner of the internet I host for Enneagram Nines turned 2 on June 1! And we also hit 20K folks a few days before. I’m humbled and feel like the luckiest girl to get to talk about the Enneagram and the Lord with so many people who are eager to grow.
I’ve loved offering more coaching sessions these past few months, talking with people who want to grow and go deeper. It has been a joy to walk alongside a few dear souls recently. My sessions can look so many different ways, but the theme that seems to run throughout all of them is the goal of self-awareness and growth. Here’s what a few folks said their biggest takeaways from a recent session with me were:
The idea of practicing affirmations was particularly helpful. The one that you provided that was most helpful was actually "It is okay for others to misunderstand the decisions I am making" and I'm planning to also add that "It is okay for others to disagree with the decisions I am making" because feeling misunderstood or like others don't agree with what I'm doing is such a struggle. It is so freeing to recognize that it's okay for me to make the decisions I've prayerfully considered making. It's also okay if there are others who disagree or don't understand what I'm doing without me feeling the need to get them to understand/agree before I can move forward or feel confident the decision is right. -JW
Action produces more action. It really does work! -SC
It was helpful to be able to share about my situation with someone outside of the situation and to receive reassurance and affirmation that I have been doing the work that I need to do and can trust myself with what I am hearing and feeling led to pursue. I did think that I was coming into this with more questions that needed to be answered, but I think what I actually needed was affirmation that where I was landing in my decision-making/discernment process was an okay place to land whether or not other people understand my decisions and motivation. It is okay that my motivations and priorities are different from some of the ones that are more culturally validated and celebrated. I was grateful to receive that affirmation during our session. -JN
If you’d like to schedule a coaching session with me, I’d be so honored to walk alongside you and listen to your story. You can book a session here or find out more here. My current rate is $60/hour.
A book review that I haven’t shared before:
I read Share Your Stuff this winter, and as someone who doesn’t enjoy small talk, I was so glad to discover this book that feels like the antidote to surface conversation. With each chapter posed as a question, Laura Tremaine takes the time to "go first" and answer the question with vulnerable and relatable stories from her life.
Each chapter ends with the invitation for the reader to do the same. I absolutely loved the storytelling and memoir-like feel of this book, that also doubled as a model for how to go deeper in relationships. Share Your Stuff was truly the catalyst for lots of reflection and conversations in my own life. I enjoyed this one.
PS. Laura shares a lot about her own experience growing up going to church/Christian camps, and what it's been like for her to step away from church culture and the faith of her childhood. Where she has currently landed might not be where others will land. I know this can be a tricky topic to talk about, and I thought Laura was careful to share her experience and not tell the reader what to think. Even so, I just wanted to mention that this pops up quite a bit throughout the book, for those who might feel sensitive to that.
Dear friend, is there anyway I can pray for you?
I'd love to hear from you! Really and truly. Feel free to just hit "reply" to this email, if you want to share a prayer request, no matter how "big" or "small." If you're feeling anxious or scared, you're not alone and I'd love to pray for you.
And before I close, a simple benediction for you today:
May you have eyes to see glimpses of the goodness of Jesus in your life.
May you have open hands to experience how personally and deeply you are loved.
May you take refuge in him today.