This is my friend Shauna.
She is beautiful and amazing. Wise and talented.
Shauna is one of those friends that I have only ever corresponded with, and haven’t (yet!) had the chance to hug in person. (Although I have met her husband and mother. Now isn’t that funny?) One day our stars will align and I will sit in her kitchen and let her cook me an amazing feast. Or maybe she will sit in mine and I will fill her belly with my Granny Mary’s Chicken and Dumplins… Someday.
I discovered Shauna’s books several years ago and was immediately smitten. When I am reading her books I imagine that we are having a conversation and that I am simply listening intently to her stories, while eating pie. My copies of her books are marked and highlighted and often quoted. When I was writing A Homemade Year I made a wish list of who I wanted to ask about for endorsements, never dreaming that they would all say yes. Shauna was on that list, and I will forever be grateful. Not only did she write the loveliest endorsement, but she also chatted me up on her blog.
Today I am celebrating the release of Shauna’s newest book, Savor, by posting this interview with her about the intersection of Faith, Art, and Motherhood in her life. I think you will find her spirit and her words to be as beautiful as I do.
So without further adieu – Ms. Niequist:
Blog Name: shaunaniequist.com
Kids Ages: Henry is 8, and Mac is 3.
Relationship Status: Married to Aaron, a musician and pastor and incredible dad
Other Job(s) besides blogging/creating: Guest teacher at my church
Expression of Faith: Non-denominational church that my parents started the year before I was born.
Where Do You Live? In a little house in the suburbs of Chicago, on the same street as my brother.
How did you find your creative niche? Was this something you have always done, or did you fall into it by accident?
My mom is a reader and a writer, and she raised me on books and stories. I’ve always loved to read, and books have been my guides all my life. I wanted to be a part of that, to create something that would make someone feel less alone, the way so many books made me feel less alone.
Where do you create? Office? Kitchen table?
On our couch, under a blanket, next to the window, laptop on my knees.
Do you create best in solitude or in the middle of chaos?
I like a life full of chaos and noise and people and parties, but I can only write in silence. So the rest of our life is really noisy, and then when it’s writing time, I carve out quiet.
How does your faith influence your creative process?
My faith influences everything, and I feel like it’s hard to talk about marriage without talking about forgiveness, which is really about trusting that God can change us. It’s hard to talk about parenting without talking about fear, which is really about believing that God sees us and keeps us safe. So I write about God as I write about everything else—love, family, the table, fear, anxiety. It’s all connected.
How does your creative process influence or enrich your faith?
I don’t know what I think or feel until I write, and especially when I’m feeling anxious, writing reconnects me back to my faith and my awareness of God’s goodness and presence.
Sometimes I feel as if writing, parenting, and the practicing my faith are all drawing from the same well inside me, that they tax the same part of my heart. This means that quite often I find that I have depleted all of my resources pouring into just one of the three, leaving the other two wanting. Do you have this same issue, or is it just me?
I think maybe I feel the opposite—that one fills the other, and that I’m always dipping from the overflow of one to water & nourish the other.
What do you do to recharge, or refill the well,
In your creative process?
Read, read, read.
In your parenting?
In the practicing of your faith?
Connect with my people, through prayer & conversation.
Do you have any advice for other mom’s out there who are also trying to learn how to live out their callings as artist, mothers and followers of Christ? What is something you wish someone had told you earlier on?
Make the time to create, every week, even if it’s just for an hour. Put it on the calendar like a dentist appointment, and keep it like you would a dentist appointment. And if you’re having a hard time doing that, meet up with someone to write or paint or edit photos, and let peer pressure work in your favor.
What are some specific challenges you are facing right now in all three of these areas?
Sheesh: do any of us have enough time? It there such a thing as enough time? In this season, i’m trying to be ruthless about things that don’t need to be done in order to be really present in a quality way to the people I love, the work I love, and the practices of faith that connect me to God. I want to be ruthless, focused, completely simple—and then I think: I should learn how to make a real cassoulet. Ten hours later, kitchen a disaster, I realize I have a long way to go toward ruthless & simple.
Easter is coming up – are there any practices or traditions surrounding Easter that you celebrate at home with your kids that you would encourage other parents to try?
Oh, I could use some suggestions. I feel like we’re just getting the hang of a meaningful Advent & Christmas season, and I’d love some ideas for how to walk well with our boys through Lent and Easter.
How can I, and my readers, pray for you?
Thank you! I’d love your prayers for courage toward that ruthlessly simple, deeply connected life. It’s so easy for me to say too many yeses, to want to please people and be responsible and helpful. And when I do that too much, the writing suffers, the time I spend with my boys suffers. It’s not worth it to me, and I’m trying, in this season, to unlearn a lifetime of those patterns.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers regarding the interplay of art, faith, and parenthood in your life? Any experiences or practices you would like to share?
Thanks so much to Shauna for taking time to answer my questions during this busy season and thanks to all you other creative momma’s out there who keep me inspired and encouraged!
Now go eat something scrumptuous and grab a copy of Savor!
Other Faith, Art, and Motherhood Interviews can be found HERE (including Sarah Bessey, Christa Wells, Megan Tietz and more!)