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Welcome to Nourish, a newsletter to help you be kinder to yourself and others. I'm Erin Strybis, a writer, yogi, bookworm and steadfast believer in grace and gratitude. In this issue find: some thoughts on saying "yes" plus an exciting announcement, ideas for celebrating the season and new, enriching reads.

Dear reader,

I’ve stopped and started this letter to you several times. Oddly enough, after bearing my heartaches in past writing, I’m struggling to share a triumph. Am I worried what you’ll think? Yes. Does the writer's path lend itself to people-pleasing? No. So here I am, shaking in my slippers, grappling with imposter syndrome. Perhaps I can find my way in with a story...

Mrs. Jackson commanded our third grade class with warmth and strength. She had glasses; I had glasses. She loved to read; I loved to read. I admired my teacher, so much so that when I found out cows were her favorite animal, they became mine too. The day she pulled me aside for a chat, though, I sensed trouble.

“You’re falling behind in science, Erin,” she warned, placing a stack of worksheets in my hands. “If you want to raise your grade, you’ll need to put in some extra work.”

My face reddened. Avoiding her eyes, I vowed to study harder. I needed to take my worksheets and go, but the shock of disappointing her paralyzed me. Holding back tears, I remained glued to my spot on the carpet, gripping those worksheets. Mrs. Jackson could have left me there to collect myself. Instead, she leaned in and whispered words that have called to me ever since: “Erin, you’re a talented writer. One day, I think you’re going to write a book." 


Since then, the call to write has influenced multiple chapters of my story. By the time I was pregnant with my son, I’d been writing professionally for nearly a decade, telling others’ powerful stories. The dream of becoming an author stayed buried. Then Jack came into the world in the most dramatic fashion.

Stories began spilling out of my fingertips onto the computer screen. There was so much I wanted to document and discover about mothering — its beauty, wonder, hardship and hope. Motherhood broke, healed and shaped me into someone new. Its demands pushed me to wrestle with faith and doubt, and gave me a lens for noticing the sacredness in the mundane: morning light streaming into the living room, a purple crocus popping up from snowy ground, my son's first shaky steps a year or so later. All the while, I claimed my stories on my blog, later submitting to publications.

When Jack turned two, God put on my heart an idea for a book of devotions for mothers. I began pursuing this dream in earnest in the fall of 2019, then pivoted to work on a book of essays on a different theme that I needed to explore. After sharing drafts of those essays in a writing workshop at the end of 2020, I realized I needed to shelve that book, too.


On New Year’s Day 2021, I picked at the broccoli in my veggie lo mein and wished for dinner to end. I was tired and cranky, but my husband wanted to have some fun. “Come on, everyone, let’s open our fortunes,” he said, gesturing to me and Jack.

Cracking Jack’s fortune cookie and then mine, I was in no mood for fortunes. It seemed that everyone on social media was setting goals for 2021, but after 2020's unpredictability and unmet expectations, I’d lost confidence in my vocation. The fortune in my hands, however, shocked me out of my stupor: EXCELLENT TIME FOR DUSTING. WHY NOT START WITH AN OLD DREAM?

That moment at the dinner table marked a return. I heard God's voice, reorienting my purpose.

Now I'm writing the grace-centered devotional I needed as a new mom, and the one I still need today. I’m grateful to be partnering with my dear friend and coauthor, Kim Knowle-Zeller. We recently signed with literary agent Trinity McFadden with The Bindery as we pursue a publisher for this book. I pray God blesses our work together and uses our words to bless other moms as well. 

This feels like a big step in answering a call to share God’s unconditional love with moms hungry to know the gospel. Reaching this milestone is incredibly humbling, and I also know that there's plenty of hurdles and possible rejection ahead. There's much more to this book's backstory, but I hope the stories I shared here show spaces of doubt and faith that nudged me toward saying "yes" to this call. 


Frederick Buechner famously said, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

You were created with gifts, passions and a unique capacity for serving others. Maybe you had a mentor like Mrs. Jackson who noticed your talents and encouraged you to shine. Perhaps you have a dream hidden away beneath the surface. Only you know what kindles joy inside, what it takes to say "yes" to your dreams, a call that I believe comes from the Holy Spirit.

My hope for you today is that you'd take a moment to still your hurried thoughts and reflect. How are you being called? How will you answer?

Nourish yourself
SIP + SAVOR: The wind's growing crisper, daylight's waning and crockpots around the country are simmering. Fall is here, and that means there's plenty of cozy fare to savor and toasty drinks to sip. Join me in enjoying a comforting cup of tea, warm apple cider steeped with cinnamon sticks, tasty turkey chili and/or the perfect pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies

WANDER + WONDER: I recently learned trees are not in competition with each other for sunlight and nourishment, as scientists once thought. Research by forest ecologist Suzanne Simard proved the reverse: trees work together in an interdependent network that Nature magazine called “the wood-wide web.” Organisms in the forest work actively for each other’s healing and flourishing, she discovered. This October, go on a nature walk in your area. If you have access to a forest in your region, visit. As you wander, pay attention to the changing leaves and what the trees might have to teach you about community, growth, death and resurrection. Wherever you go, allow yourself to be moved by the beauty of creation.
Nourish others

BLESS ANIMALS: Earlier this month, the church recognized St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. In celebration, many congregations offer (or have already offered) pet blessings. You can bless the dogs, cats, turtles, hamsters and other creatures in your midst with a simple prayer, found in this liturgy. Or you could volunteer at or donate needed goods to your nearby animal shelter.

BE A FRIEND: The Coffee + Crumbs podcast for moms is back! Whether you're a mom or not, I encourage you to listen to episode one and two of season seven for fresh ideas to nurture friendships. These episodes left me convicted and inspired to invest more deeply in my people. Looking for an easy seasonal idea to love on a friend? Check out this fun Halloween tradition, as captured by some Etsy artists, and start a trend in your area. Or, if you're looking for a low-key way to boost a friend's day, text someone you love and offer to drop off their favorite hot beverage or lunch. 

LEARN + HONOR: Did you know that Oct. 11 is Indigenous Peoples' Day? Though not yet a federal holiday, it's observed in various states and can be a wonderful occasion to enrich your understanding of history. With a friend or family, check out these lists of Native American authored-books for adults and for children, and pick up some to read this October. Another incredible resource to explore and share with others is this Land Acknowledgement Finder. Use this tool to learn about Indigenous culture and territory worldwide (this would have been so helpful for my elementary school report on the Pawnee Nation). 

CHECK IN: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please check out this important post by writer Sonya Spillmann on the early detection of breast cancer, and be sure to share it with your gal pals. For women readers, here's a helpful primer on regular check-ups, including information on self-exams, medical exams and mammograms. If your life has been affected by breast cancer in any way, please know I'm holding space for you this month. 

Nourishing words

Books on my nightstand:

  • The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan – My friend Laura recommended this book in her newsletter, and I'm so glad she did. Keegan's collection of short stories and essays, published posthumously, is youthful, passionate and inspiring.
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – Another friend, Molly, suggested this book in past newsletter. I adore Woodson's lyric voice and this memoir of her childhood split between the south and north didn't disappoint. Each poem spilled into the other and shifted in voice as the author grew more mature.  
  • The Yes Brain by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson – You guessed it, a friend also recommended this book (thanks, Steph!). I've only just started reading this, but it's already helping me with practical tactics for fostering positivity in our sweet, strong-willed son.

Other pieces that have stuck with me:

Recent writing I've shared: 

And that's all for October, friend. Thank you for being here, and for sharing in my joy!

I pray your month ahead is infused with holy listening and opportunities to say "yes" to God's call.

Grace and peace,

P.S., If you're enjoying this newsletter, would you mind taking a moment to share it with a friend? Or, if you received this newsletter from a friend, you may subscribe here. Look for your next issue in November!


"Love yourself.
Then forget it.
Then, love the world."
—Mary Oliver
Copyright © 2021 Erin Strybis, All rights reserved.

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