Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. As soon as it arrived, I read it cover to cover. April’s descriptions of the challenges of self-care resonated within me over and over.
Using Jesus’ words recorded in Mark 12:30-31, the book develops a Christ-centered framework for taking care of ourselves. April notes that self-care is making space for God’s all-sufficient care. Four Gifts opened my eyes to the places where I still yearn for deeper engagement with God.
I am working my way through the book again. Now it is my guidebook as I explore the end-of-chapter questions. My I-don’t-dos list from Chapter 2 is helping me develop healthy boundaries. Understanding the feed-my-soul practices from Chapter 5 is opening the door for needed refreshment. Eating from the sad-food-group of Chapter 7 provides a safe space to work through grief. Studying 2 Timothy 1:6-7 and Galatians 2:22-23 is leading me toward greater well-being and self-control.
I’m excited to introduce you to author April Yamasaki. Friendships form in all sorts of wonderful ways! I first met April through Twitter and now we are connected in numerous ways, including our writer’s guild (Redbud Writers). I know you will enjoy getting to know her better and learn about her new release, Four Gifts.
How much research went into Four Gifts?
April: I searched Scripture, read a lot on self-care, looked up various original studies and statistics on health and wellness, but Four Gifts isn’t primarily a research project. I mean, I wanted the book to be well researched and well grounded biblically and theologically–I needed my search for self-care to be all of that for me personally and to write with integrity. But even more than that, Four Gifts is a personal reflection with questions and self-care practices to help readers reflect on their own lives and to take care of themselves.
What was the hardest thing about writing Four Gifts?
April: I think the hardest part for me was just finding the time to write. When my editor first suggested self-care as a follow up to Sacred Pauses that I had published with them previously, I was pastoring full-time and my writing time was already committed to another project. So to write this book on self-care, I had to start slowly in between other commitments, collecting articles and jotting down ideas and journaling my thoughts.
I bookmarked websites and started a secret Pinterest board. But all of that research and reflection, and a lot of the writing had to take place on the margins of my time–early in the morning, at night, on my days off from church work. And because the book was on self-care, I felt the added responsibility to take time to take care of myself too! Fortunately, my church was very supportive, and I’m grateful that they were able to give me a writing leave that contributed enormously both to the writing and to my self-care.
What got edited out of Four Gifts??
April: I have a file on my computer marked “Later” that contains a few stories and other bits and pieces that got edited out of Four Gifts, and that I will likely use on my blog or in a future writing project. Somehow moving them to my “Later” file was easier than deleting them outright!
What stands out to me most though are the many quotes I had come across during my research and earmarked for use, only to realize later that I needed to take them out. This basic definition of self-care from the World Health Organization was once part of my introduction, but dropped in favor of a less formal quote from another source: “Self-care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, prevent and deal with illness.”
This quote from Prayer by Richard Foster was originally in my manuscript too, but it didn’t quite fit the context: “The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find Him at all.” I also wanted to use this quote sometimes attributed online to tennis coach Carl Bryan, but since I couldn’t confirm the source, I felt I needed to leave it out, although I still appreciate the sentiment: “Taking good care of YOU, means the people in your life will receive the best of you, rather than what’s left of you.”
How can readers best connect with you — your blog, facebook, twitter?
April: I love to connect with readers! I blog weekly at Writing and Other Acts of Faith and usually every other week at When You Work for the Church: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how we can all do better. I’m also active on Facebook and Twitter.
Get a copy of April’s new book, Four Gifts, on Amazon today!
Posted by Sharon R. Hoover