Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

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 new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

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 and follow her on Substack

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

Memories are What Matter—Watch the Chevy Holiday Ad Making Us Cry

In: Living
Chevy holiday ad

I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more I find that this time of year feels fragile. I love the holidays, don’t get me wrong. But these days I recognize a comingling of joy and sadness that envelopes so many during this season. It’s a giant heap of emotion as we sort through the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad of the past year and try to make sense of where we are right here, right now, in this moment of time. So when I saw Chevrolet’s new seasonal ad last night, I was...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

6 Things You Can Do Now to Help Kids Remember Their Grandparents

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Grandfather dances with granddaughter in kitchen

A month ago, my mom unexpectedly passed away. She was a vibrant 62-year-old grandma to my 4-year-old son who regularly exercised and ate healthy. Sure, she had some health scares—breast cancer and two previous brain aneurysms that had been operated on successfully—but we never expected her to never come home after her second surgery on a brain aneurysm. It has been devastating, to say the least, and as I comb through pictures and videos, I have gathered some tips for other parents of young kids to do right now in case the unexpected happens, and you’re left scrambling to never...

Keep Reading

When You Need a Friend, Be a Friend

In: Friendship, Living
Two friends having coffee

We have all seen them—the posts about the door always open, the coffee always on, telling us someone is always there when we need support. I have lived with depression my entire life. From being a nervous child with a couple of ticks to a middle-aged woman with recurrent major depressive and generalized Anxiety disorder diagnoses. Antidepressants, therapy, writing, and friends are my treatments. The first three are easy, my doctor prescribes antidepressants, I make appointments with a therapist, and I write when I feel the need. RELATED: Happy People Can Be Depressed, Too The fourth is hard. As I...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

To the Parents Who Coach: Thank You

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother with young son in soccer uniform, color photo

I always planned on being an involved parent, whatever that would mean. Never an athlete, always athletic, I joined the swim team in high school, taught swim lessons for spending money as a college freshman, played intramural soccer at 10 p.m. on weeknights on a college team with a ridiculous name. Later, mama to only one baby, finding extra dollars wherever I could, I coached track. And then, my own babies really started to play sports. I promised myself I would volunteer as possible, but something always stood in the way, and all I could manage was to get my...

Keep Reading

Now That I’m There, 30 Doesn’t Seem That Old

In: Living
Woman holding a sign with the number 30 and chocolates, color photo

I turned 30 this year. The change of a decade has caused me to reflect a lot. This is the first time I’ve hit an age ending in zero and sort of wish I could go back a ways. At 10 and 20 years old I was still eagerly waiting to get older. That desire slowed down and stopped around 25 years old. Still, I haven’t lived my first 30 years with a lot of regrets. I have four little ones who call me mom. Some days they make me feel old. Often they keep me acting young. Dance parties...

Keep Reading

Teachers Carry the Weight of Their Classroom in Their Hearts

In: Living
Stressed teacher sits with hands on temples

I would like to argue there really isn’t anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s job. Oh, there are overwhelming, too much to do moments. And exhausting moments. And early morning, long day moments. But there isn’t really anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s work. It’s the being a teacher that’s hard. For in being a teacher, your heart splits open with all the things you cannot fix and all the things you cannot do or cannot do enough of. When your heart aches for a family you barely know and you long to comfort...

Keep Reading

Give Me Friends to Do Everyday Life With

In: Friendship
Two women at a sporting stadium, color photo

She sees me coming. A small wave from her house window and a silent invitation to come on over for our morning coffee. An unsaid invitation to connect with someone who gets the joys and challenges of being a mother. A quick, small, and valued break from life and stress and my house messes has become the perfect way to start the morning. A neighbor who has become a dear friend. Prior to this encounter, alarm clocks were ringing, breakfast was made, backpacks were packed, and shoes were missing. School mornings are rough. Motherhood is rough. The world around us...

Keep Reading