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A million little ways

Today I get to blather on about one of my favorite all-time writers, and then give away ten copies of her new book. She also happens to be one of my favorite people, so that works out well.

Emily Freeman is truly gifted as a writer, an artist, and a friend, and her latest book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live needs to be on everyone’s nightstands. And this is because the “art” she explores isn’t only the oil-on-canvas sort—it’s the art that’s manifested in all of our lives.

a million little ways

A Million Little Ways argues the lofty notion that every one of us is an artist, simply because we are human beings. No matter what we do with the majority of our time—be it changing diapers, signing expense reports in a corner office, teaching a classroom, or painting a canvas, everything we do that outpours from our true self is a form of art. God is the ultimate artist, and as His creation, He embedded us with an artistic drive. We can’t help but make art, if we are awake enough to notice the art in our lives and call it such.

I think what makes Emily’s writing so great is that she says things I always think but aren’t quite sure how to weave into words. So she does it for me, and in that process, I feel better understood—both by her (and by default, other people), and also by me.

a million little ways

I love this paragraph from the book’s description:

A Million Little Ways uncovers the creative, personal imprint of God on every individual. It invites the discouraged parent, the bored Christian, the exhausted executive to look at their lives differently by approaching their critics, their jobs, and the kids around their table the same way an artist approaches the canvas–with wonder, bravery, and hope. In her gentle, compelling style, Emily Freeman encourages readers to turn down the volume on their inner critic and move into the world with the courage to be who they most deeply are. She invites regular people to see the artistic potential in words, gestures, attitudes, and relationships. Readers will discover the art in a quiet word, a hot dinner, a made bed, a grace-filled glance, and a million other ways of showing God to the world through the simple human acts of listening, waiting, creating, and showing up.

And I love the book’s trailer. I can’t watch it without tearing up a bit.


million-stack-smEmily is giving ten Simple Mom readers a copy of A Million Little Ways! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite form of artistic expression in your life. (If you’re reading this via email or reader, head to the blog to leave a comment.)

This giveaway will be open until Friday night, October 11, and then we’ll announce the winners soon after. I hope you win!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. beth lehman says:

    i just finished listening to the podcast yesterday… this book sounds so interesting…. after watching “artists” in my dad’s family for years, i am finally coming to see artistic ‘bends’ of my own. i hesitate to say artist, but i find my creative self coming alive when i sew or take pictures… the composing and editing specifically. i love the concept that we were made to create if we were made in god’s image.

  2. Anything crafty is my go to means of artistic expression! Sewing, knitting, paper craft etc. thanks for the giveaway!

  3. My favorite is coming up with a craft or home project and carrying it out.

  4. Improvisational worship! I usually have one song in mind as a starting point, then, as the spirit leads, I transition from song to song as I sing and play piano. It is an incredibly cathartic form of artistic expression for me. I feel myself melt away as the spirit flows through me. It is always confirmed by the connection and unification of the other ladies present as we become one in mind and spirit.

  5. Paper crafting and sewing!

  6. Elizabeth Minor says:

    Cooking for my family! This book sounds great!

  7. Singing! And I’m still dreaming of getting a mandolin for Christmas. 🙂

  8. Anne-Marie says:

    There are days when I feel more like a destroyer than an artist. The days I discipline the children for having fought with their hands instead of using their words to express their emotions, the days I lose my patience because the person in front of me just decided that they will turn at this intersection, and there is heaps of oncoming traffic, the days I make glaring mistakes at work. There are just days when I feel that there isn’t a creative bone in my body.
    But then, I have the realization that every artist must destroy before their masterpiece is complete. The sculptor, the painter, the writer , and ourselves. In our moments of destruction we prepare for construction. Our discipline of our children, out of love and concern, brings out the best in them and us, not immediately, but eventually. Our lack of patience sometimes shows us that we have no control over the world around us and helps us to let go. Those days when we don’t have a creative bone in our bodies to share our inner light with the world, we are healing ourselves so that we can emerge, like butterflies, from our cocoon.
    We are artists everyday in every way, because we are like our father, the Grand Artist, the Creator. We destroy and build up. Mostly ourselves. I believe everything else is residual.
    In that way. I am not only the artist but the art. A work in progress ever changing, observing and destroying and rebuilding.

  9. Melody Ann says:

    No time for sewing anymore 🙁 but I’m enjoying my new camera and capturing nature…love, love, love! Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. I cross-stitch. The projects mostly go to my mom and my sister.

  11. Sewing, writing, card-making….!

  12. Knitting. I am not a fancy knitter . I stick to plain and simple projects like dishcloths, scarves, and fingerless gloves. But there is just something so relaxing about it.

  13. I don’t make time to express art. I see it in others. I would like to but I’m afraid it usually gets shoved to the back burner. I enjoy photographs and web design but I don’t have a fancy camera and train myself web stuff.

  14. I’ve never considered myself a very crafty person. I’ve dabbled in lots of artistic expressions, but very few of them have actually “stuck” with me. I guess my current dabbling is baking. I love making cupcakes and cookies….the only problem is that I love eating them too! 😉

  15. Catherine says:

    I love to cook! While it’s something that I do “have to do” for my family, I’ve recently realized what an expression of creativity it has become for me. I love having the structure of using local produce (mostly!) and using that as my base…I only started to cook when I began to feed my oldest (almost 4 years ago) and it’s been a little gift to realize how much I love it!

  16. I love to knit, sew and scrapbook but right now my main form of artistry is taking care of my family through cooking and cleaning. It takes a lot for me to have the right attitude and see it as a ministry, but when I do, I know that I’m doing what God has for me in this season of life.

  17. Despite being something of a creative person, my favorite form of artistic expression is definitely gift-giving. I spend a TON of time really thinking about the perfect gift for someone (Christmas is a year-round effort!). I just love the light in someone’s eyes when they open something I’ve chosen for them and know they love it, even if they’ve never thought to ask for it. That kind of joy is irreplaceable.

  18. My favorite form of artistic expression is cooking. I love making food delicious, nutritious and beautiful.

  19. currently i feel artistic making school seem not like school. we are in our first year of home-school and I love finding ways to make learning fun.

  20. I would say writing – though I’d like the courage to try a few other ways of expressing my artistic side!!

  21. I love to scrap(book), but haven’t had much time lately, as I’m a SAHM to a busy, curious, and darling 17 month old little boy. I make do by filling several collage picture frames with all aspects of our crazy wonderful life.

  22. As a first time mom to a 4 week old, my favorite art is getting to know my son – all the little nuances that make him a unique little guy! Book sounds great!

  23. I enjoy music and beautifully lit photography.

  24. I’m a new dabbler in visual arts 🙂 I got Artistic Pursuits for home school but I’m doing the assignments alongside my daughter and loving it!

  25. I love cooking-finding new ways to serve nourishing foods.

  26. I consider creating and raising my children as my most creative outlet. One has special needs, and one has health challenges. To be present with them, despite what seem like endless therapy and doctors appointments, and to create a space in our day for fun and spontaneity–those are my creative tasks.

  27. Baking de-stresses and energises me. I love creating something new and beautiful from such simple things. I also love writing, as it helps me not only be creative, but also sort out my thoughts, feelings and hopes into a more tangible form. Creativity allows me to explore my identity in a deeper way, and helps me to discover the “million little ways” I have been made in the image of the Creator. It helps me to connect with myself, those around me, and God Himself. I have been looking forward to the release of this book, and hope to get my hands on it soon! 🙂

  28. My favorite form of artistic expression is making things. I love sewing, knitting, crochet, and I’m learning to quilt. I love learning new techniques. I have to always have some kind of project going or I feel lost.

  29. Photography when I get the chance

  30. After reflecting several things came to mind… Children – they are a thing of wonder & beauty. And on one hand they are Gods & their own little selves I’d like to think that they are the art you get from more then just two sets of genes 😉

    I happen to think a steel stud corridor was prior to drywalling is art. But I am a building inspector. I love to crochet 🙂

  31. Little Jeanie says:

    My current fav form of artistic expression is making home made birthday cards for family. They are not great masterpieces – just hastily cut and pasted pieces of magazines, newspapers, captions and photos etc. They have become mini time capsules as I try to make them relevant to what is happening in that person’s life at the time. I try to include their fav hobby or an ongoing joke or recent conversation we have had. I get a real buzz from the challenge of pulling it all together and especially getting the “Hallmark” style greeting just right.

  32. I was so encouraged when I read this blog post, feeling like some part of my artistic self stopped when I was 8 years old, then having successive traumas for the next 20 years. Then I became so discouraged and started crying in reading others’ posts. I do not know what part of me is artistic or creative. Would the book help? Or am I helpless? When I have a break from my children, I like to take walks, listen to audiobooks, and absorb nature for how beautiful it is. I enjoy listening to my kids, but I find myself distracted a lot so I don’t that’s very artistically expressive! I love when my house is organized (& I know that’s me doing it!). That’s as far as I could get. I think I need that book! Kudos to Emily for writing it!

  33. Words and color sustain me, so I write, art journal, paper craft, knit and sew as expressions of my inner creative urges. I also love to read inspirational books by others, who communicate clearly and who give their readers, through their precise use of language, the gift of sharing emotions and spiritual yearnings.

  34. Christine says:

    Photography and creating the start of child centered projects.

  35. Cooking! I love to make something out of nothing, and it’s almost immediate gratification, like painting a room.

  36. Blogging is my little release. I don’t blog for the public but for the grandparents and myself. My little corner of the blogosphere is filled with photos of my boys, my home and our day to day life

  37. Dance! But also baking and watercolor and sewing and design……. I love to create… Something from nothing moves me deeply. I’m currently reading this, but would love a copy to give to a friend. I believe everyone must read this book!

  38. Watching my boy dancing to Christmas music.

  39. Christina Y. says:

    My favorite form of artistic expression is dance. I have danced all my life and am now teaching Ballet and Hip Hop. The biggest blessing in doing so is that I get to be our oldest daughter’s ballet teacher. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected with her! This book sounds great!

  40. As a burnt out mama who desperately needs to reconnect with herself, this book might be just the sort of inspirAtion I need to find joy and grace in my days again.

  41. Elizabeth says:

    Putting my kids to bed had become a form if art. We lay together singing softly and I rub their backs in rhythm with the song

  42. At age 43, I’ve started taking violin lessons again. It would be SO much easier to not subject myself to that inner voice that whispers “not good enough”. But, I have to know…I have to know if I can play this instrument “well enough” to be a part of the circle of musicians who already surround me. I have a kind but exacting teacher. And I have a job to do. It’d probably be better for my family if I cleaned or cooked instead of practicing. But-while they’re at work and school (one at parochial; one at public), I’m going to try. I may or may not be able to pull this off….but I need to try. At the very least, I’m modeling to my girls that it’s never too late to try to follow a passion. If I fail, I will get to model my response to that too. To me, being artistic is being open…in the scary places as well as the comfortable ones. That’s why it’s possible to be an artist in an accounting office as well as a concert hall. But it takes courage! And now I stop reading and go start practicing…my lesson is today at 1:30! 🙂

  43. Lately children- like babies …come along and help me give color to life. Unexpected, beautiful messy, color. This family will be my masterpiece offering.

  44. Natalie W says:

    I feel most creative when I am in the kitchen preparing yummy food for my family. As a kid, we always ate food from a box or a takeout window, so it never ceases to amaze me what I can whip up in my own home!!

    I bought my daughter Emily’s teen version of Grace for the Good Girl and love her writing. I am excited to read A Million Different Ways! 🙂

  45. Lindsey S. says:

    Right now, I do a lot of functional crafting-baby gifts, party decor, etc. But, I’d really like to be more brave in the future. Maybe painting!

  46. I love hand lettering right now! And just general crafting? Does that count? 🙂 so excited about this book!

  47. Michelle Zang says:

    Because most of my time is spent in the kitchen preparing three meals a day for my family, my artistic expression is in the food I prepare and how I serve it to my family. Whether it’s simply putting their oatmeal in a pretty glass bowl with a little dollop of strawberry jam in the center, arranging fruit slices in a starburst pattern or slicing chicken breast at an angle on top of a salad & adding lots of color & texture with chopped carrots, tomatoes & homemade croutons. I serve it with love & appreciation for the beauty (& yumminess) in what God has provided us.

  48. Music is/has/always will be my favorite creative outlet. When it comes to using my hands, though, taking something old and worn out and making it new is an amazing feeling! But then I also like to use my words and write – how do you pick a favorite.

    The book looks fantastic. I can’t wait to read it and I can already think of several friends who need a copy as well.

  49. Lately my hand have been working with fabric. Creating quilts has become my zen place—my way to relax and reflect. And in the end I have a beautiful quilt to share with others or wrap myself in!

  50. Jessica Pahl says:

    Cooking and baking are definitely my favorite artistic forms, I love to make something amazing out of random ingredients. Photography and knitting are close at hand as well. Sounds like an amazing book!

  51. Writing. But also, teaching. I’m a writing professor, and I find I have to be creative every time I step into the classroom. It’s a challenge I love.

  52. I make jewelry and teach 7th graders how to be decent human beings.

  53. Beth Gillespie says:

    I love to sing and make music, and love to sew – I don’t often make the time to sew, but feel so whole when I do.

  54. I love to express myself through food! Cooking and baking for my family every day is a great way for me to get creative!

  55. Singing is my very, very favorite, but sometimes that involves more people than I know (or would like to be around at the moment), then I turn to needlework.

  56. Crafting in some form — sewing, knitting, etc is my art.

  57. I don’t really have a creative hobby but lately I have enjoyed decorating my house for fall using only things I have on hand or can make myself. It has been satisfying to see how I can bring it all together.

  58. Processing ways to present God’s Word so that the women I teach can understand it and grasp it a little better!

  59. I’ve come to realize that one of my favorite forms of “art” is canning. 🙂 I love trying new recipes and filling my basement with delicious food for the coming year.

  60. Photography – what a beautiful way to see life.

  61. Creating photo books from the pictures I take and journaling the story along side the pictures.

  62. I find decorating my home is my own personal way to express myself! It brings me such joy to see ourselves reflected in our house.

  63. By making up (sometimes really bad) songs with my kids. Oh, and we kind of live in a musical. Because tricky times can be so much easier if you just sing through them!

  64. I like music. Both the fast, happy stuff when I run and the melodic, beautiful instrumental music. I like that music can paint a picture for us in our minds, or take us back to a memory. And I am in awe of composers who can write separate pieces for dozens of instruments and make it all come together so beautifully.

  65. I love taking old things and making them new – thrift store finds!

  66. I love writing (journaling and poetry) and scrapbooking (Project Life), but right now I’m focused on uncovering/discovering simplicity in our home. I loved the trailer — so inspiring! — and would love a chance to win. Thanks for the opportunity, Tsh and Emily!

  67. Ever since my dad bought me a used camera at a yard sale, photography has been my thing.

  68. Gardening, writing, and baking. And learning!

  69. I love writing and photography!

  70. Tending our garden is my favorite form of art – although, with not much of a green thumb, it requires a little bit of science, too.

  71. I’ve never considered myself a talented artist but I do like to paint for my own enjoyment. I’m currently a stay at home mom and I’m struggling with the decision to continue staying home with my daughter or go back to work. This book sounds like it will be refreshing and possibly teach me to be content whatever I do 🙂

  72. Beth Anne says:

    I am loving reading my sister’s copy of A Million Little Ways so much that I want one of my own. I am a student studying piano performance, but my most natural art is teaching small children. My little students fill my week with fun and joy.

  73. My current favorite way to make art is in up cycling. I love the idea of taking something old and making it beautiful. I also find knitting especially rewarding.

  74. My Grandchildren are my favoorite artistic expression. I love doing things with them. Watching their faces glow with delight as we explore new things that only grandparents and grandchildren discover together. Beautiful leaves, mudpies in the summer, yummy homemade cookies in the fall, and books for bedtime!

  75. I love the art of henna and intricate designs be it any form. I would love a copy of this book as I’m feeling stuck in a rut lately. Thank you for the opportunity.

  76. Another photog here! 🙂

  77. Photography! Although I am trying to teach myself to knit. 🙂

  78. Kathy Weeks says:

    Playing the piano is my favorite form of creative expression although I do enjoy photography as well. Thanks for the chance to win!!

  79. My favorite forms of being creative are baking, gardening arranging my home a little bit at a time. Just got a family photo wall complete (for now) after working on it for a year. Also raising a toddler 😉

  80. Music 🙂

  81. I haven’t felt creative in a very long time. I used to love acting. I really enjoy reading to my babies now. That’s a creative outlet for me : ) I also love praising The Lord in song!

  82. I LOVE to sew! Clothes for me, toys for my boys, cute cloth diapers… I have a deep obsession with fabric and love turning cloth into something beautiful!

  83. Cooking, a little bit of photography is about all I have time for in this stage of my life.

  84. I guess I’ve never really considered myself an “artist” per se. I’m crafty. Does that count? I love to sew, quilt, crochet, and am addicted to the DIY category on Pinterest. 🙂

    I just found your blog this week, and I’m truly enjoying it — even though my kids are grown and I’m now a grandmother. Even though your kids grow up and you don’t interact with them as much, you will always “mother” them because they are part of you. Just FYI.

  85. Atsquared says:

    Singing, photography and scrapbooking are my creative outlets. I don’t have time for much with three little ones, though!

  86. One of my middle boys is really into art right now, and draws robots constantly. Before motherhood, I never thought I would think a robot is a beautiful thing, but it is! 🙂

  87. photography . . . . of my kids. 🙂

  88. I love sewing and crocheting. Making things with my hands, especially to give as gifts. With 2 littles though, I rarely have time for it!

  89. Sewing, when I have time. More commonly, cooking and baking. Love this giveaway!

  90. Writing is my favorite art form. But I also love photography and crocheting!

  91. I like to write, draw, paint and knit.

  92. As a mom it is often so hard to find time to pursue my creative interests. I have always tried to see the “art” in fitting all the clothes on the line or making a great dinner from leftovers. Everyday “creating” a home for my family. Then when I have time to actually sew, decorate, etc. it is just a bonus.

  93. I love how art is in us all! Currently I am enjoying creating life with my kids…whether it’s by sharing a yummy meal on our fine china, reading a great book together, or learning something new during our school time

  94. Tanya Park says:

    I have always felt I really am not a crafty person. I can copy what someone else had started and make it look ok. I guess I struggle with finding my unique individuality because as a Wife, mother of 5, and Pastors wife I really don’t have much time to. I pray God shows me what His specific artistic expresion for ME is. Thanks!

  95. Baking is my current favorite.

  96. On a daily basis it is cooking. I also love to knit, but don’t make as much time for it as I’d like.

  97. My creative outlet is knitting. I love having a pattern to give me a general direction, but all the choice’s are mine in how I make it look.

  98. Writing and storytelling

  99. Lorraine M says:

    Adding color in my day somewhere. A rosette on a piece of clothing, bouquet on the table. Taking a few minutes to read or listen to music. Anything I can work into the ‘must be done today’ list!

  100. Hoping to add this book to my nightstand soon. My own art form is writing. What I love right now is seeing my young children explore art in many forms for the first times.