Although we met online years earlier, I first met Ann Voskamp in real life three years ago — walking along a beach, against the soft brush of waves upon smooth sand.
I was standing at the cusp of my journey as an author. I hadn’t written a single word of my book yet. I hadn’t even gotten a book contract.
But, I had felt the whispers of my childhood story wanting to be told. But, I was afraid.
There are so many easier books I could write. Books about what I’ve learned about God. But, separated from my little girl self.
I write for DaySpring (in)courage and one year, they invited all the writers for a beach house retreat in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
After lunch one day, after we first said hello in the kitchen the day before, I asked Ann if we could go take a walk out on the beach. I wanted to ask Ann about her journey to put her soul out in print in One Thousand Gifts, which had just published that year.
It’s amazing how a farmer’s wife in Canada and a girl born in Chinatown San Francisco could somehow meet on a beach and talk about the stories that whisper to us in the quiet places of the soul. About fears and prayers, about the turns in our stories and God’s pull to write those whispers out on paper.
Little did I know the next day at the beach retreat, I would wake up to find a little email in my inbox with news that Revell had offered me a book contract to publish my debut book Finding Spiritual Whitespace.
With a heart beating with flip-flop amazement, I carried my laptop over to share the good news with Ann. Her eyes lit up with sunshine, and a exploding peal of “Thank you Father!” sung out from her, as her hand stretched up towards the heaven, as if she was doing a high-five with God himself (which I’m sure God gave one right back).
Today, Ann invited me to her front porch over at her blog A Holy Experience — to share an excerpt from Finding Spiritual Whitespace.
There were so many chapters to choose from. How would I introduce myself to Ann’s readers? Which excerpt should I share?
I felt torn. Couldn’t decide.
So, I decided to cast my fate to the 100 kindreds who signed up to help me get the word out about the book’s release: the Whitespace Launch Team.
I listed 5 chapters I was deciding between and asked for their vote:
Which chapter was most powerful *for you* personally. gut reaction please! thank you!
The Most Vulnerable Chapter
Of course, the most vulnerable chapter turned out the one with the greatest votes — The Pink Outfit.
The other chapters listed are vulnerable too, but there’s something about that pink outfit. I don’t know if I would have dared to pick.
The Pink Outfit feels safer in a book with the other chapters sandwiched next to it — rather than just out alone by itself in a blog post. It feels risky. What would people think, without the context of the whole book?
So, I’m stepping out into the air of God’s grace today… with the gracious hand of Ann Voskamp pouring me a cup of friendship-mocha on the farm.
This chapter isn’t how I imagined introducing myself as a debut author: with a moment I have kept hidden away and wallpapered over.
But, this is pink outfit moment is the moment Jesus has never been closer to me, more intimate as a Father holding his newfound daughter — and this is how He has chosen to introduce new friends to meet with me between the pages of our stories.
Join me at Ann’s porch for a sip of rest
Join me now friends on this journey of rest. Because the best way to be your real self — while shaking and unsure if you’ll be accepted or rejected — is to do so with kindreds who walk the journey of rest together.
Gather your stories and your beautiful hearts. Click here to read my guest post at Ann’s place A Holy Experience — “The Pink Outfit: How To Move Beyond Surviving”.
As you read, may your heart be prompted and encouraged to know this:
Your voice matters.
Your story matters.
Because Jesus is living your story with you.
Because Jesus is your story.
He will always be faithful to carry you through everything and anything.
Because He loves you.
“We, though, are going to love – love and be loved.
First we were loved, now we love.
He loved us first.”
Is God prompting you to share a vulnerable glimpse into the real you – through your choices to dare and rest?
Pull up chair. Click to comment. Your words make this place real.
Take The Journey of Rest With Me
Take the Finding Spiritual Whitespace journey to make space to rest, despite whatever chaos and stress clutters our everyday lives.
You will find journal prompts for personal reflection and intimate group exploration. Let’s live a better story of rest. Together.
Purchase a copy of my memoir-driven guidebook for yourself and your friends. Because rest isn’t a journey we need to take alone. We need each other.
Because some stories can’t be told on a blog. They are so intimate, they can only echo in the sacred space of the printed page. Letters from my heart bound together for you.
Let’s be kindreds. Let’s meet between the pages of Finding Spiritual Whitespace.
I feel sometimes that I have been in survival mode most of my life. From a home where abuse, neglect and criticism were the norm, to a teen marriage that failed. I felt undeserving when I met, fell in love with and married my soul-mate. Then in 1991, our oldest son took his own life just before his 10th birthday. I have journaled for years, starting the night before he entered first grade as a matter of fact. So naturally I’ve continued to pour my heart out into pages and pages of volumes…never to be shared with anyone except God. Your bravery in sharing with us, your readers, has helped me realize how necessary “whitespace” is in order to live a life filled with peace and joy. There is so much more to my story, but I am not ready to go there…yet. Thank you, Bonnie!
Dear Diane, thank you for sharing your story and honoring the wounds that you’ve suffered through — I would love to hear how whitespace is being created in your life… and hope that it is doing so at tender and gentle movements.
Thanks Bonnie. My whitespace moments have always been there…I just never thought about what they were. My moments of joy in the garden, watching spring life yield to winter’s death. The birds singing from the heart just for the sheer joy of doing so. Spending time with Jesus as I tend my garden. The NEWNESS for me now is taking still photos and capturing the beauty! I am not a professional and only have a simple camera, but I’ve amazed myself! Also, while I am not an artist in the “conventional” way, I am most definitely creative! After all, I am created in the image of my Heavenly Father. I recently took up “mixed media” through a “Soul Restoration” class offered online through The Brave Girls Club. I never suspected that what I thought was going to be mostly an “art” class would be the beginning of a soul excavation!
So, that coupled with your wonderfully inspired book, has helped me to really start to love and care for Little Girl me. In Soul Restoration, I went to get her and bring her to live with me forever, where she will be safe for all time. I am teaching her the things I have learned, and honoring the woman she became. Soon, maybe I will be brave enough to write my own book.
I’m trusting God to use THAT chapter to whisper love to reader’s hearts, and know that many will be amazed at the fact that someone (YOU!) could relate to their own “pink dress story.” Breathe in more of Him… SO glad that you have this opportunity!! 🙂 YAY God!!
Your story moved me to tears–not just for your loss and your pain of seeing something so beautiful and loved destroyed unceremoniously–but for the times in me as a mom–where my pain, my hurt, my past, my feelings have propelled me in situations where I inflict that hurt on my children. I’m praying my way through raising these two cherubs and give God praise that he is changing me, but I bought your book today, even though finances are tight because when I am most likely to hurt myself and consequently inflict hurt on others is when I am feeling pressed–emotionally, for time, and to the brink of my ability to be kind and be loving…and now have a term for what I’m wanting…spiritual whitespace.
Dear Jane, I feel so touched that you would feel safe here to share your story… and I’m hoping your heart will be comforted as you read the book — to know that you are important — and those angry feelings are really the cries of the little girl in you, who is longing for love, comfort. Who hasn’t had her wounds seen and heard — who needs kindness and healing. I hope you can find a therapist who can help you take a new journey to heal your heart and give yourself the love you’ve always deserved. A therapist helped me to uncover these stories so I can have spiritual whitespace, so there’s no need to feel ashamed (that is how I felt). So that your two little cherubs can receive what you’ve always longed for yourself: kindness, love and gentleness — and emotional safety.
Bonnie I’m so excited to read your book. I ordered it a while back and left it in the bubble envelope to bring with me to my ‘happy place’ a cottage on Lake Huron. I can hardly wait to sit on the beach turning pages because with what I’ve been through the last four years of my life – I know there is something about this book that was written for me. I promised I would email you about it when I’m done discovering and I will!
Also, I have to share a similar moment about @Annvoskamp. the first time I saw her was at a homeschool conference where I purchased a copy of One Thousand Gifts, not because of anything in particular that she said, but because a fellow attendee asked her to share the story about the counting gifts dare and the light that filled her eyes and the giant grin as she practically bounced over to share with the woman who asked had me hooked. I needed to begin my own search for joy and this woman knew how!
That said I am happy and blessed by how both your stories are combining to reach my heart in exactly the way I needed.
Looking forward to sharing!
Love also from Canada,
Hi Jan… it’s such a special feeling hearing how the book is speaking to you and touching your heart. and so honoring to know it is with you at such a beautiful place as Lake Huron. please do share as you feel prompted about how the book taking you on a journey… and a new discovery. Thank you for taking the time to visit and share a virtual cup of soul coffee here.
My life has been a series of pink outfits…from being declared ugly at my birth, through years of childhood agony due to my awful clothes and the horror of seeing my few decent things ruined, and on to discovering how my husband had betrayed our marriage vows…ruins paint my life with hurt.
I have had times when I did well with white space in my life…and other times when I feel such a need to rescue other children that I cannot be still…and times when it just feels totally futile.
Thank you for sharing your hurts, showing your courage, and shining God’s light in some very dark places.
I am deeply touched by reading your story…and encouraged to be driven to God instead of just merely driven.
Dear Muchalone, it pained me to read of the betrayal yo’ure experiencing. I think that need to rescue other children is really the cry of your own heart. For someone to rescue the little girl in you. You and I can help the little girl in us now. It’s time for YOU. You’re loved. You’re cherished. you’re worth it — living the life of the Beloved. Thanks for sharing your story.
I am almost finished reading your book, Bonnie, and there are times I feel as though we must be sisters. We’ve lived in some of the same deserts. Though many things about us are different – many are the same. I wept as I read some of her memories. I could relate. Thank you for being brave enough to keep going to Dr P and for sharing your journey with us. Honest. Open. Trusting that we could glean from it – and that Jesus was and is in your story, and ours. Your faith rings deep and true. I’m sorry your parents couldn’t love you – you deserved to be loved. You are a beautiful person – chosen, blessed, broken, given. Keep writing!! I will be watching for any and all books you write.
we are… soul sisters… thank you for taking the time for a cup of soul coffee together here. I feel so honored to meet with you between the pages of our stories and it moved you to feel your heart, Barb.
Thanks for sharing and here is a response inspired by your writing… a gift song from the Lord for you and Ann. http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/24615998/ – Joy is the oil.
The Lord bless you with joy and peace.
Thank you Ai… as always, such a soulful gift to us.
So incredibly proud of you friend, for taking that leap of faith. For doing the hard work with Jesus, to bring you to this place of rest. Your example is so inspiring! Your book is more than words on a page; it’s your life written out in black & white so that we too might see the hope that comes from a life fully surrendered to Resting in Jesus. I’m learning & growing from your example & oh so grateful to share this Journey to Rest with you & other soul-full kindreds! Much love ♥
thanks Satin, for all your encouragement and kinship. may you know how loved you truly are, which each passing day.
I read that chapter this week and aloud to my husband today. Struggling with joy, the idea of it, so alluring but to a lifetime “survivor” who feels like the next shoe will drop soon, it is hard.Disappointments and crushed dreams have dried my heart like a raisin. I will be meeting with God and exploring the helps at the end of the chapter for much needed refreshment and healing. Thank you for pouring out your heart and helping us walk with our best friend, Jesus.
By the way, I am sure you looked so pretty in the pink outfit. I hope you and Jesus will go shopping one day for a new pink outfit-just for you-from Him.
I hope to meet you someday!
Nirma, I feel so honored that you would share a whitespace moment with your husband. I hope it brought you two a special moment on the journey, sharing stories perhaps from the soul with each other. Thanks for seeing the little girl in me with the pink outfit. Blessings. happy you’re here.
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