Stewarding Your Passions in the Season of Motherhood

How to Steward Your Passions in the Season of of Motherhood at annswindell.com

This is the start of my newest piece for The Gospel Coalition. You can read the whole piece here!

I love to write; it’s one of the ways I feel most connected to God. Before my daughter was born, I wrote for several publications. But when she came into the world, my writing life was put on an abrupt hold. I often wondered: Do I have to wait until my children are grown to return to my passions?

As Christian mothers, this question bubbles up often: How do we navigate the years of childrearing with our own desires to create and innovate and learn?

While there’s no one response for every woman, it’s important to ask the right questions as we consider how to steward our passions and live faithfully in our current season. Here are four such questions.

1. In pursuing this passion, do I have the support of my family and church family?

When Hunter Beless was still nursing her second daughter, she considered starting a podcast for women, but she hesitated. “I thought motherhood wasn’t the season to explore my own passions and desires, and I feared not having enough time or energy to do something outside of caring for my husband and children,” she recalls.

Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that this was something she should pursue. “I prayerfully submitted both the dreaming and planning process to the Lord. After developing my ideas, I began to seek counsel from my husband, mentors, and friends. Things continued to align as I moved forward, which led me to ask, ‘Why not?’ At worst, it offered an opportunity to experiment, play, and create while my kids were sleeping, and at best it had the potential to encourage other women to glorify God.”

With the support of those around her, Hunter started the Journeywomen Podcast, which is growing rapidly and blessing women across the country and world. But it began with submitting her ideas to the Lord and her community, trusting him to guide her in the right direction.

2. What’s the ultimate end of pursuing this passion?

There are countless ways to pursue our passions, but we must always reckon with the centrality of the gospel. Is Christ at the center of this pursuit? Is the good news at the core of why I’m doing this? Whether you work a secular job, volunteer at a nonprofit, join a neighborhood committee, play in a tennis league, or serve in your church, it’s helpful to consider how this pursuit will give you opportunities to live out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20).

Dianne Jago started the magazine Deeply Rooted because she sensed a need for something other than what she was seeing in “popular Christian women’s ministry, which unfortunately included a lot of misuse and misunderstanding in the interpretation and application of the Scriptures.” She desired to see Christ exalted in media and to point other women to a right handling of the Word. Jago’s passion is anchored in the gospel, and it has borne beautiful fruit in her life and in the lives of readers.

Read the rest of the article here, at The Gospel Coalition!

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

The 2016 Writer’s Gift Guide

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m starting to see “gift guides” pop up online, and I wanted to join in the fun! I offered a Writer’s Gift Guide in 2015, and it was really well received–I think almost all of us know people in our lives who love to write (or we are the ones who love to write!), and this is an easy post to share with others (wink!). Here are my top 10 gifts to give the writers in your life this year!

The 2016 Writers Gift Guide is live--perfect for the writer in your life, especially if that writer is you!… Click To Tweet
  1. How else could I possibly start? A book. Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies is one of my all-time favorite books for fellow writers, both for its meticulous prose and also for McEntyre’s vision for language. She is calling us to use words as people of faith and love–and the outcome of that calling is deeply meaningful. A powerful text for any word-lover in your life!Caring for Words in the Writers Gift Guide 2016 at www.annswindell.com
  2. A beautiful journal set. I love this one from Dayspring–it reminds me that words travel so much farther than I can, and includes a journal, pencil pouch, and set of postcards ready for sending! Get this for the word-lover in your life who you wish you could hug more often! And use the code: SHINEHISLIGHT to save $20 off of a $60 purchase + get free shipping! Yay!
  3. Journal set from DayspringA planner. Writers need clarity when it comes to scheduling their days and setting aside intentional time to write. The planner that I use is from Anchored Press, and I even had the privilege of contributing to their weekly planner this year. These planners are GORGEOUS, practical, and filled with the truth of Scripture–just what we all need to keep us on track!
    Anchored Press Weekly Planner. Writing Gift Guide at annswindell.com
  4. Personalized Writing Coaching. Oftentimes, writers have ideas and dreams and projects that they want to work on, but they don’t know how to strengthen and sharpen their writing–or what the next best step is to take in their calling as a writer. Through Writing with Grace, I offer individualized coaching for writers, and am now setting up calls starting in January. If you want to invest in your own calling as a writer–or if you want to show the writer in your life how deeply you believe in them, this would be the gift that keeps on giving! My coaching clients walk away with practical steps to take in their writing career, along with encouragement and vision for moving forward. Email WritingwithGraceCourse@gmail.com if you’re interested in setting this up and we can chat. I even have a gift card that you can give to your recipient so they have something to open on Christmas day!Writing with Grace Coaching. Email WritingwithGraceCourse@gmail.com

     

  5. A Goal-setting system, like Powersheets from the Cultivate What Matters Shop. I’ve written about these before, but most writers have a hard time juggling both their writing dreams and their everyday commitments; what happens is that usually the writing goes by the wayside. Powersheets have helped me to set priorities in my life around my calling and my gifts, all while keeping the Lord at the center. I am a huge fan of Powersheets and already pre-ordered my set for 2017!
    PowerSheets by Lara Casey
  6. A book pillow! I’m a sucker for quirky pillows, and being surrounded by books is always delightful, whether it’s a stack of books on my desk or a delightful throw pillow that represents books on my couch. This is a fun pick–clean, bright, and just cheeky enough to make even a curmudgeon smile!Book Pillow at the Writers Gift Guide 2016 from annswindell.com
  7. Business cards. Sometimes writers need the validation of owning the truth that they ARE writers; it can be hard to say that you’re a writer if it’s never out in the open with others. Consider buying your favorite writer a pack of business cards as a way of encouraging her in her dream of writing–and make it stylish while you’re at it! I love these from Moo, which is where I purchase my business cards; the quality is extremely high. Click here and then search for “writer” in the upper right-hand corder to bring up a fun array of business cards related to writing!Writer business cards in the Writers Gift Guide 2016 at www.annswindell.com

     

  8. A meaningful magazine subscription. The best writers are thoughtful readers, and one of my all-time favorite publications is Deeply Rooted Magazine. This is a beautiful, theologically rich publication that is deeply encouraging and aesthetically stunning, all at the same time. I’ve written for them for years (and hope to do so forever)! Order the writer in your life a yearly subscription and keep the gift going for the next twelve months!Deeply Rooted Magazine Subscription in the Writers Gift Guide 2016 at annswindell.com

     

  9. A nice pen. Yes, most of us do our writing on screens nowadays, but there’s nothing like writing with a smooth pen on fresh paper. If you’re already getting the writer in your life a journal set (see #2), something like this would be a great stocking stuffer!Fringe Pen for the 2016 Writer Gift Guide at www.annswindell.com
  10. One more book. I couldn’t help myself–if you’re looking to encourage the writer in your life with spiritual truth (from a fellow writer!), you can pre-order my book, Still Waiting. It comes out April 4th, and I’ve been praying for the readers of this book for over a year. You can read more about the book here, but I think this is a great gift for the writer–and reader–in your life. I’ve poured my heart into it, and my prayer is that this book will be an encouragement to each and every person who reads it.

Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want www.annswindell.com

Well, there you have it: these are my top 10 gifts for the writer in your life–even if that writer is yourself! What else would you add to this list? Is there anything you can’t live without in your writing life? Share what you love with me!

May this holiday season be full of transformative words, conversations, and gifts that lead us to truth and beauty in Christ!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links,
all for products that I love and believe in–and use–myself!

The 2016 Writer's Gift Guide at annswindell.com

Easy Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

Easy Ways to Encourage your Pastor! www.annswindell.comThis is the start of my most recent article for the Deeply Rooted Magazine blog.
You can read the entire article here!

I love church. I really do. I love the Church with a capital C—the church universal that Jesus died and rose for, filled with every tribe and nation and people and tongue (Rev. 7:9). And I love our particular church that meets every Sunday in a building that used to be a funeral home (a reminder of the beauty of going from death to life every week!). And after years in church ministry, as a pastor’s wife and now as a seminarian’s wife, I can unequivocally say that while church is messy and challenging and sometimes deeply painful, I know that there’s nothing else I will give my life to—because that’s what Jesus did. If he gave his life for the church, then I will give my life to the church, to love and care for and serve his people.

If Jesus gave his life for the church, then I will give my life to the church, to love and care for… Click To Tweet

While my husband and I are not in full-time ministry right now, I know what it’s like to be married to a pastor, and one of the many things learned in those years of ministry is that most pastors live in the simultaneous reality of loving what they do and also being tired. Sometimes pastors are just kind of tired. But other times they are exhausted. Getting to pastor the people of God is an incredible gift, but it is also a job that doesn’t have very clear starting and ending times. Ministering is fluid; people don’t have important questions and life crises only between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm. Work and ministry and life bleed into one another. And yes, sometimes pastors need better boundaries. But sometimes life and ministry are one and the same thing—and that’s ok. And tiring.

Your pastor is meant to be a gift to you. But you are also meant to be a gift to your pastor: Click To Tweet

I don’t know who your pastor is, and I don’t know what kind of season your pastor is in. But this is the pastor that you have in this season of life, and he is meant to be a gift to you and your church family. The flip side of the equation is that you are meant to be a gift to your pastor, too. One way to do that is to intentionally encourage him and the other staff members at your church. So, as we end Pastor Appreciation month, here are some simple ways you can encourage the pastors in your life:

  1. Say thank you. Say thank you when you see him on Sunday. Send a quick note of thanks to the office. Write a thank-you email regarding something specific that meant a lot to you. This will go so, so much farther than you can imagine.
  2. Drop off coffee or food at the office. Find out when the weekly staff meeting is and drop by with donuts or coffee. You might just make the staff’s entire week! They will know they are loved and thought of on days other than Sunday.

Read the rest of the article here, at Deeply Rooted!

Spending Time with Him to Be Like Him

Deeply Rooted Resolution[Image by Kelly Kee]

This is the start of my most recent article for Deeply Rooted Magazine.
Read the full article here!

I’m not the type of person who is usually motivated by goals, and New Year’s resolutions tend to fall under this category for me. But there is one type of resolution I made nearly a decade a ago that has utterly transformed my life. 

I aim to spend time with Jesus every single day.

Of course, there are days when life gets a little too wild and I don’t manage to set time aside for the Lord, but by and large, I spend time with him every day of the week, every week of the year. I don’t say this because I’m fantastic; I say this because I’m a broken and sinful person, desperately in need of the healing and love of Christ every single day. It’s spiritual life and death for me; spending time with Jesus is the only thing that keeps me hopeful, kind, and loving—because he is hopeful, kind, and loving. When I spend time with him, I become more like him, and that is what I need most of all.

Read the rest of the article here, at Deeply Rooted!