In my first book, Freely and Lightly, I shared my story of how learning to trust in who God is and who He says we are results in the true rest and peace we’re all in search of. It has been met with such a kind response and – even better! – so many of you have shared the ways my vulnerable words have made you feel seen and understood and encouraged to take a deep breath and continue on asking questions, finding answers, and resting in God’s goodness and love for you.
I’m so excited to tell you about my newest book, a lovely little companion to F&L, called Living Freely and Lightly.
Living Freely and Lightly guides you through each step of your identity journey with thoughtful questions that gently challenge, prayers to start a conversation, scripture verses to encourage, and plenty of space to reflect and process as you go deeper and invite Jesus’ transforming power to work in you. My desire in creating this journal was to find a way to take you through the same process I went through, made especially for those of you who do not naturally do this on your own.
I look forward to sharing much more with you about the journal … but today, let’s talk about the cute cover!
Since I am definitely a person who judges a book by its cover, I think it’s fun to share with you all the behind-the-scenes of designing one.
After we had our title, but before the journal was actually written, we began brainstorming ideas for the cover. My publishing company is so kind to ask about my wishes for the cover and allow me to give my opinion and make suggestions along the way. I’m truly so grateful.
The designer then came up with a few initial designs:
Loved the linen, loved the simplicity, but they didn’t totally feel like a companion to the book … so we kept going.
Here was round two:
It was helpful to see the designs next to the book to see how they coordinated.
There will be an o-wrap (maybe that’s what it’s called?! Or a belly band?!) anyway, there will be a piece of paper that wraps the journal to hold all of the bookstore details. It will be removed once you start using it, so we wanted the journal to be great both with the wrap and without. All three designs totally work (I actually really love the peacock blue one), but it felt like pulling inspiration from the end sheets of F&L (seen here) felt the most special. And maybe most eye-catching, which is always good for those book-cover-judgers like me.
After tweaking the artwork arrangement and adjusting the color of the wrap, here’s where we landed:
Isn’t it wonderful?! I love all the artwork. And love the tiny stretch of stripes as a nod to the book.
The final cover will be printed on linen book cloth which makes me so happy (I really love how it makes it feel so special!) and there will be ribbon bookmark (because a ribbon bookmark also makes it feel special!).
We’ll definitely be talking much more about this journal (can’t wait to show you the inside pages!) as well as special gifts you’ll get when you preorder. Details to come!
Last spring, two of my dear friends joined me in hosting a group of young women to read and discuss Freely and Lightly. It was a touch intimidating as the author of the book who shares pretty vulnerably, but it turned out to be the sweetest time of connecting, releasing, praying, and reorienting our life towards living freely and lightly.
This fall, another dear friend took her small group of young women through Freely and Lightly. I was talking to her last weekend and she mentioned that the discussion guide was so helpful and it reminded me … I NEVER GAVE IT TO YOU!
Last year as part of the book launch, my editor and I created a Book Discussion Guide with a quick summary, thoughtful questions, a prayer, and scripture for each chapter.
If you read Freely and Lightly on your own, it is a great place to go a little deeper.
If you read Freely and Lightly in a group, it is a helpful resource to direct your questions, stay focused and move the conversation along.
The guide is 42 pages and covers all 20 chapters. You can print it at home or take it to a local print shop to have it printed and spiral bound (that’s what I did).
This guide is for personal use only, for use in your home and with your reading groups. Please do not mass print, sell or distribute it.
Enter your email below to get the free reading guide:
One more little thing:
It has been one of the greatest surprise delights this past year to meet with our small group of young women. When I was in my early 20’s and 30’s, I longed for someone in the next season of life to hang out with. I never really found that person and so it is such an honor to be that for these ladies.
If you are older, perhaps see if you can find a group of young women to lead through this book (or any other!).
If you are a young woman, don’t be afraid to ask an older woman to lead you and a group of friends through this book (or any other!).
This is one of the beautiful ways we can connect with each other.
Freely and Lightly combines word and art is such a beautiful way. My publisher gave me total creative license with adding in full-color art throughout the book, giving the nod of approval when I asked if I could create special endsheets (you’ll see those in a second!), adding in a journal-y touch with hand-lettered Scriptures and making each page feel special with watercolored borders.
The story and words found on the pages are so dear to me and I hope they will be encouraging to you. AND ALSO, I hope you are delighted by the pretty art.
Let me show you around the pages.
The endsheets are those first and final pages that hold the hardback cover together and the perfect place to set the tone for the whole book. One night, inspiration struck and I pulled favorite illustrations found throughout the book and created a collage. I really love these pages.
Most books have a little note at the beginning with a dedication. I love reading these in other books and knew I wanted to include one in this book. I went round and round thinking and praying about who this one is really for. Many people dedicate their books to their parents or spouse or children and I contemplated all of those. I am grateful, of course, for the support of Ryan and the love of my parents and I truly hope my kids will learn the truths found in the book and avoid many of the struggles their mother experienced. But, honestly, that’s not really who I wrote the book for.
I wrote it for the one who is just like me and who needs to know she is not alone and there is hope. When it came time to turn in a finished manuscript with dedication, the words came quickly and my eyes filled with tears: For the one who is tired and weary. He really will make good on his promise.
There are 20 short chapters in all and each one begins with an illustration that relates to the message and a hand-lettered chapter number (I sort of love the chapter numbers!).
We wanted each page of the book to feel special and included artwork, hand-lettered scriptures, and watercolor borders.
I hope that as you read the story, the art will enhance your time with the book. May each creative element offer a chance to pause, be still, enjoy and bring a smile.
The book releases on March 2nd. I can’t wait for you to hold it in your hands!
Have you ever found yourself right in the middle of a thing you signed up for and realize you really don’t know what you’re doing?
I’m pretty much there. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s how I’ve felt since the very first days of conversation about writing a book began. I’ve never written a book. I’ve never illustrated a book. I’ve never marketed a book. I’ve never been interviewed about a book. So I guess it makes a lot of sense that I don’t know what I’m doing 🙂
But here’s what I’m finding: even though I don’t know what I’m doing, I know I’m doing the right thing. Does that make sense?
Maybe it’s like those early days of motherhood. You don’t really know how to hold your baby or feed your baby or bathe your baby (they feel so fragile!), but this baby is yours and you are its mother and nothing feels more right than holding her close and staring at this miracle that came from you. You figure it out as you go, asking for help, watching how your friends and sisters are doing it, learning along the way and giving yourself lots of grace because of course you don’t know what you’re doing! You’ve never done it before!
It’s funny that a motherhood analogy came out because that’s what so many authors liken their books to. You grow it and labor over it for months and months (in my case, nearly 2 years!), and then it finally comes time to hold it up to the world: Look what I made! I’m so proud of this thing! I want you to love it and be moved by it and cherish it and smile every time you see it on your shelf!
It’s a weird feeling. A vulnerable feeling. A little bit anxiety-inducing, if I’m being completely honest.
Your new-to-you thing might not be launching a book, but I’m guessing there’s something you’re doing that you don’t quite know how to do. Here’s how I think we can do it well:
1. Remember that if this is what you are called to do in this season, you will have everything you need to do it (Philippians 4:13)
2. Ask for help
3. Look at how others are doing it to see what you can learn from them (apply what works, let everything else go – this is not a competition!)
4. Give yourself grace
5. Have fun
I once had a teacher tell me, “Emily, lighten up.” It stung. But he was so right. I tend to take things a little too seriously. Perhaps you do too.
Maybe today, we take a deep breath, offer gratitude for the good things we’ve been asked to do, remembering that they are just things we do, not who we are. And then keep going.