Friday, December 20

A Million Little Ways: A Book Review

From time to time I get an email invitation from Revell asking if I'd be interested in doing a blog review about a new book they have coming out.

I used to say "yes" to more of these review invitations, but books require time, especially if you're going to read the entire thing and then write a review....Time is not something I have a whole lot of these days and so I've said more "no's" than "yes's" lately.

That said, back in October I got an invitation to review A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman and couldn't say no (despite knowing that I didn't have a whole lot of time for the "yes"!)

In part because I enjoy Emily Freeman's writing. I love her blog, Chatting At the Sky. I love the way she captures the simple and makes it profound.

I also love art, the idea of creating art (in the many different forms that can take for each person on an individual level), and anything on the topic of creativity.

Part of me knew I'd find it a challenge to get the book read on time. Part of me also thought, I shouldn't read this right now because it's going to inspire me to want to do things I don't have time to do or pursue. 

However, I said yes and I'm so glad I did.

And even though this review is an entire month late (sorry to the folks at Revel!)…I'm so glad to add this book to my repertoire of non-fiction, inspirational books on creativity.

In this book Freeman compels others to look within themselves for clues to who God created them to be, and to live from those truths in a way that blesses others through the sharing of our art; whether that take the form of something more traditional like a painting, book, or song. Or whether you find new ways to be creative in your gardening, house decorating, or cooking.

In reference to her title, there are a million little ways God creates us to create. We simply need to  listen more carefully and then live more artistically.

While I LOVED the book as a whole, I did find it hard to wrap my head around the first few chapters. I confess, if could just be mommy brain- I have a hard time wrapping my head around a lot of things lately! Whatever the case I mention that in case you start to read it and think, This isn't my thing. Stick with it, you won't be disappointed.

The beginning chapters seemed more theological and philosophical to me. You all know that I'm not in a very philosophical stage of life…we are practical and nitty gritty over here in the land of diapers and construction paper and finger paint. But the chapters seem to become more practical about a third of the way through the book and once I hit those chapters I was completely engaged, underlining huge chunks of text and making lots of mental notes!

Here is a quick summary from the publisher about the book: 
The majority of us would not necessarily define ourselves as artists. We're parents, students, businesspeople, friends. We're working hard, trying to make ends meet, and often longing for a little more--more time, more love, more security, more of a sense that there is more out there. The truth? We need not look around so much. God is within us and he wants to shine through us in a million little ways.
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 some of my favorite quotes: 

Our imaginations are endless. You get to frame things in a way only you can, with a voice only you have…Does the world need another book? Song? Painted living rom? Not necessarily. But the world does need you come come alive right where you are and not where you wish you were. If writing books or songs or painting living rooms is what makes you come alive, then that's what you'll need to do. (Chapter 6, See)

For those of us who have a dream tucked away in our back pocket, perhaps it's time to bend our ear toward the craziest of ideas and hear what they have to say. Over the years, that dream may have taken on many different names in your mind: Silly. Ridiculous. Hobby. Foolish. Impossible. Waste of time…Doubt and fear have convinced you to keep it hidden, convoked you to rename that dream Wrong.

What would it take for you to pull your dream out again, to stop taunting it with cruel names and to simply listen to what it has to say? No filters. No back talk. No eye rolls. Dare to handle it, to hold it in your hands and consider it with kindness and compassion.

What is your moon, your airplane, your boy-wizard book? What is your brave lyric, your odd first chapter, your new business motto? What is your crazy idea? No, not your perfect idea. Not your logical, well-plannd, power-pointed practical idea. There's a place for those too. But many times the most logical ideas start out crazy. What is your crazy idea and what should you do with it?

Maybe you should chase it.    (Ch. 7, Listen)

Wonder is normal for little ones. They haven't yet learned to categorize their appreciation of art into worth and waste…A child sees the wonder, takes it in, picks it up, and walks among it. A rock, a leaf, a  giraffe, a violinist-- it's all wonderful to him. He plays an air guitar, draws a picture of a tree, traces his hands on a piece of blue paper. Why not?

The east with which I am able to release the art I was made to live seems directly related to my willingness to embrace wonder. (Ch. 11, Wonder)

We are the mirrors of God on earth, the megaphones of glory, the hands and eyes and hearts of heaven.

God is the Artist and he has made us.

We are his poem and we will make art.    (Ch. 12, Create)

This book has something for everyone, whether you consider yourself the "creative" type or not. It is deeply spiritual and incredibly encouraging.

Here is a link to read more about it if you are interested…


  1. I can hardly wait to buy this book. It sounds right up my alley. I've been looking for something to help me know what is the right way to create and share my art.


Sharing thoughts is a valuable part of the motherhood community. Please share your thoughts, suggestions and ideas based on posts.