Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

The following is an excerpt from Create Anyway by Ashlee Gadd, available today wherever books are sold!

In those first few weeks at home with a milk-drunk newborn in my arms, I Googled every little thing, hopping in and out of online parenting forums, desperate for an instruction manual. Is it normal for a baby to poop six times in one day? Does breastfeeding ever get easier? Underneath my nitty-gritty questions loomed the ultimate insecurity every first-time mom battles: Am I doing this whole motherhood thing right?

Just a few months prior, I had quit my pencil-skirt-and-high-heels- wearing marketing job to pursue writing and photography. Within the span of a single year, I traded cubicle life for freelance gigs and my childless freedom for motherhood. In my head, I envisioned myself slipping into these new professional and personal roles gracefully, the way a ballerina glides across a stage. In actuality, the transition looked more like an overly confident kid falling off a skateboard.

I struggled with loneliness. At the time, my husband, Brett, commuted an hour to and from work, leaving me home alone with our son, Everett, from roughly seven in the morning to six in the evening each day. Our days were quiet, monotonous, and unseen. Sometimes we only left the house for a brief walk around the neighborhood. Around that time, I discovered podcasts and began popping headphones in my ears on our daily walks, eager to listen to my “friends on the Internet” who didn’t know me at all. I loved being home with my son, a privilege I did not take for granted, but most days, I felt utterly invisible. I missed having coworkers. I also missed the proverbial gold stars and the swell of pride I’d feel after being told, “Great job.”

Perhaps even more than that, though, I missed the comfort of having a supervisor sign off on my decisions. As a clueless first-time mom, I craved a nod of approval to accompany the wide array of choices I made each day, a safety net to fall into from time to time.

Having a boss seems like a weird thing to miss, but I often did. And not just because I wanted someone to cover for me on sick days or pat me on the back after I handled an explosive diaper change. Sometimes I simply wished for someone to grant me permission, for someone to whisper, “It’s okay to _______.”

It’s okay to ask for help.
It’s okay to eat cereal for dinner.
It’s okay to write while the baby naps, even though the house is a disaster.

I think I had been a parent for roughly thirty-six hours when it dawned on me: motherhood doesn’t come with permission slips.
One of the first things we learn about God in Scripture is that He created, and one of the first things we learn about ourselves is that we are made in His likeness. If God is the first artist—and we are a walking, breathing reflection of Him—this means our desire to create is hereditary, a fundamental imprint of His Spirit in us.

Right off the bat, God tasks mankind with taking care of the earth and naming all the animals. From the very beginning, God calls us to be good stewards of His creation and invites us to co-create with Him. God filled the world with good things and calls us to do the same—to showcase hope, light, beauty, and restoration as part of the ongoing process of God’s glory infusing the earth.

As Anne Lamott says, “To be great, art has to point somewhere.”

God did not create us to be mere spectators, watching on the sidelines inhaling popcorn while He does all the work. Rather, He invites us to be active participants, co-laborers in making the invisible Kingdom visible. The act of creating is part of our calling as image bearers.

There is no better permission slip than this: to know and believe with your whole heart that the God who made you, the same God who designed blueprints for the galaxies and poured the foundation of the earth, designed you in His likeness, on purpose, for a purpose.                                                        

Permission to create already exists inside of you. It’s running through your blood, your bones, every strand of DNA embedded in the body God made from dust. You have permission to pursue your creative gifts as a testament to who God created you to be. You have permission to make beautiful things in a broken world as a testament to God’s grace mightily at work in you.                                                  

You don’t need to wait another second for some metaphorical boss to show up at your front door with a permission slip to create. You can stop staring at the sky waiting for God to carve a yes in the clouds. He’s already carved a yes in you.

Provided from Create Anyway by Ashlee Gadd published by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2023. Used by permission.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Ashlee Gadd

Ashlee Gadd is author of Create Anyway: The Joy of Pursuing Creativity in the Margins of Motherhood and the founder of Coffee + Crumbs—a beautiful online space where motherhood and storytelling intersect. As a writer and photographer, Ashlee has spent her entire motherhood creating in the margins. When she's not writing or vacuuming Cheerios out of the carpet, she loves making friends on the internet, eating cereal for dinner, and rearranging bookshelves. She and her husband have three kids and live in Northern California. Learn more at ashleegadd.com and follow her on Substack

Friendship in Motherhood is Beautifully Unique

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Three mothers sitting on lawn watching kids on trampoline, color photo

Friendships in motherhood hold a unique and treasured place, distinctly different from any we’ve experienced before. The ones we meet in the trenches of parenting, as we nurture our kids and rediscover ourselves after becoming mothers—these are the relationships forged amidst the chaos of early morning T-ball practices, the joy of trampoline birthday parties, and the occasional playground meltdown. Motherhood friendships have a distinct depth that sets them apart from the rest. Of course, the friends from our youth are treasures—steadfast companions through the awkwardness of adolescence, through every scraped knee and heartache. Then there are the friends of our...

Keep Reading

Dear Graduate, I Love You Forever

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Kindergarten grad

I never imagined these days of preparing for graduation, senior prom, senior photos, and you actually moving out would come. A few weeks into your life, friends gifted you a 6-month sleeper. I remember the cuddly white footie pajamas well. But I swore you’d never get big enough to wear it. How could this 8-pound human grow to fit into 6-month clothes? Impossible. And then somehow they did fit, and then they didn’t anymore. Just like that. Everyone says the days are long but the years are short. Everyone, that is, who has had a lot of years. When I...

Keep Reading

Always Choose Adventure

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Two children looking at aquarium exhibit, color photo

Here’s the thing about traveling with little kids. Is it hard? Sometimes. Sometimes it looks like a whole carry-on dedicated solely to snacks, activities, and emergency treats. Sometimes it looks like buying a drink for the passenger next to you as a way of saying sorry and thank you all at the same time for the airplane kid chaos they endured. Sometimes it looks like altering your picture-perfect itinerary that you meticulously planned on account of missed naps finally catching up. Sometimes it looks like washing a car seat off in a hotel shower because your toddler got carsick, then...

Keep Reading

There’s No One Who Gets It Like a Mom Friend

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Mom friends in the park with strollers

I made my first mom friend at six weeks postpartum. I was pushing our son in his brand-new stroller not yet stained by sunscreen or covered in cracker crumbs. My husband spotted her first, gesturing to a woman who looked my age pushing a similarly unblemished stroller with the same bleary-eyed look. “Go talk to her,” he encouraged, sensing what I was too tired to realize at the time, which was how badly I needed a friend who understood what I was going through. We hit it off immediately and discovered we lived just seven doors away from each other....

Keep Reading

These Family Recipes Feed My Soul

In: Living, Motherhood
Old, messy, recipe book, color photo

There’s a recipe in my cookbook so caked with flour and cinnamon that my mother’s handwriting struggles to be seen. It’s for sweet roll dough, a recipe both my maternal and paternal grandmothers used and passed down. There’s just a difference in how many eggs and flour you choose to use. From this dough, meals that memories are made of take the shape of pizza, cinnamon rolls, Runzas (for us Midwesterners), or simple dinner rolls. For our family, it’s a Sunday night tradition of homemade pizza and a movie and Monday morning cinnamon rolls to start the week. Not much...

Keep Reading

She’s the Friend I Hope You Have

In: Friendship, Living
Two women smiling, selfie

Good friends are hard to come by. Life is busy and friendships take a backseat. I’ve never had a large circle of friends, there have always just been a few I’ve kept close. But the ones who stick around, the ones who stay with me when the waves of life are high and when the waves of life are pummeling me, those are the ones to treasure. You don’t talk every day. You don’t see one another every week. But she’s your go-to no matter what because . . . She’s the walk through the grocery store or an early...

Keep Reading

I Miss Being Able to Do It All

In: Living, Motherhood
Stressed mom sitting at table with two sons

I miss being wildly capable. It’s a character trait I never realized I would miss because I took it for granted. I never thought it would be something that wasn’t part of me. And if my therapist was reading this, he would pointedly remind me I am still wildly capable, I just have a lot more on my plate than ever before. But honestly, that feels like a cop-out. When I first started therapy, the goal was to convince myself I wasn’t Supermom. My therapist worked with me to see I didn’t need to hold it together everywhere all the...

Keep Reading

My Mom is a Hugger

In: Living
Older woman hugs grown man

My mother absolutely loves hugs. Not a normal, healthy amount of love for hugs. No, she’s crazy for human contact in the form of hugging. She hugs people when she’s happy, she hugs them when she’s sad, she especially likes to hug when people are angry with her. As if the full-body squeezing experience is going to automatically turn my mood in a different direction. But I must admit, sometimes it does work. Her hugs are rather explosively addicting. She doesn’t just hug you on the outside, she power grips your heart like a vice, turning you into a puddle...

Keep Reading

When It Looks Like I’m Doing Nothing, Really I’m Doing Everything

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom sitting with child on lap, color photo

My dear family. I love you. With my entire being. Today though, I’m crabby. I understand that a mother’s work sometimes looks different . . . hidden. Maybe it’s because after decades of motherhood and balancing all the things, mothers have become quite adept at “doing it all” or “making it look so easy.” I’m lucky, you all (especially you, husband) tell me how appreciative you are for my efforts. And I appreciate that. But here’s the thing—I need you all to pay close attention here—when it looks as though I’m doing nothing, I’m actually doing a lot. Case in...

Keep Reading

A Medical Mom Is Made of Toughness and Love

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother with young son in hospital bed, black-and-white photo

A medical mom is a mom who has a child with one or more medical complexities. A medical mom is medically trained, educated, and knowledgeable about her own child, their diagnosis, medical history, symptoms, and treatments. She may not have formal medical training, but she has dug in, researched, investigated, and kept records from day one. She knows the ins and outs of the medical system because she navigates it every day and lives it with her child. A medical mom knows how precious life is and has lived both the longest and shortest seconds of life. She knows how...

Keep Reading