Four Gifts

Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength (Herald Press, 2018)

Four Gifts is available from Herald Press, AmazonBarnes & Noble, CommonWord, or your favourite on-line or local bookstore.

I can’t do it all,
and you can’t either.

Feeling overwhelmed by the pace and stress of daily life?

Find respite from superficial definitions of self-care and move toward deeper engagement with God.

From the Back Cover

Is self-care different from being selfish or self-indulgent? Is it the same as caring for your soul? And what does self-care look like in light of following Jesus, who called his followers to deny themselves?

In Four Gifts, pastor and author April Yamasaki addresses these and other questions about self-care. Drawing on the ancient scriptural command to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, Yamasaki helps readers think about the spiritual dimensions of attending to your own needs, setting priorities, and finding true rest in a fast-paced world. She weaves together personal stories, biblical and theological insights, questions for reflection, and practical ideas for self-care. Four Gifts helps readers sustain their spirits and balance competing demands. Feeling overwhelmed by the pace and stress of daily life? Find respite from superficial definitions of self-care and move toward deeper engagement with God.


This was the first book for our new Field Notes Book Club, and it was such a great read. A perfect start to the new year for me. I found it empowering, practical, spiritual, focused outwardly as much as it was inward. And there was a lot of acknowledgment that self-care should lead to us becoming MORE engaged not less as well as conversation about structural injustices that we can’t self-care our way out of either.  One thing she said that will stay with me is how so often we think self-care means “me first” and too often the church teaches us “me never” but instead true spiritual self-care is a simple “me, too.”

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and
Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith



As my sprint for justice has shifted to a marathon for justice, I have learned–sometimes the hard way–that soul care is not an indulgent luxury or a distraction from more crucial issues. Rather, it is simultaneously the work of justice and the sustenance that fuels the work. In my soul’s journey into the deeper, darker, and nutritious soil of soul care, I have looked to April Yamasaki as a trusted guide. I read everything she writes! In Four Gifts, her powerful insights are on brilliant display.

Christena Cleveland, author of Disunity in Christ and
founder and director of the Center for Justice + Renewal


Four Gifts is the most thorough and thoughtful exploration of self-care I have ever come across. With wisdom and sensitivity, April Yamasaki lays out the spiritual case for self-care and how to pursue it in harmony with life’s other treasures, including vocation, community, and justice. This wonderful book will show you how proper self-care is not selfish but a healthy component of a mature, humble, and generous life.

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, columnist for and
author of Start, Love, Repeat


We all need to feed our souls, even the future pastors that I help train. April Yamasaki uses the two great commandments as a frame to help us do that. When we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our growth becomes collateral benefit. I’ve read the book, but I also have seen with my own eyes as Yamasaki lives these words out, facing life’s challenges with courage. No ‘self-help’ here, but spiritual nourishment.

Charles Aaron, associate professor, Perkins School of Theology


I am touched by April Yamasaki’s intimacy with Scripture, her perceptive self-understanding, and her keen ability to draw practical illustrations and suggestions for self-care from nearly every aspect of life. Many tired and weary pastors, homemakers, and public servants will find abundant practical help through this book.

Palmer Becker, pastor and author of Anabaptist Essentials


April Yamasaki lives what she writes about in Four Gifts. The book is full-of-Scripture inspirational, conversation-over-a-cup-of-tea personal, and down-to-earth practical. Any book on self-care that includes a chapter on lament as self-care has a unique contribution to make to the genre.

Gareth Brandt, author of Under Construction and
professor of spiritual formation, Columbia Bible College


Here is a book about self-care that is a delight to read. April Yamasaki blends scriptural insights with honest stories from her own life and the lives of other writers. She explores the tension of self-care and self-sacrifice, discipline and flexibility, self-awareness and self-indulgence. She gives practical suggestions for living a compassionate life that includes even ourselves. Reading this book is like having a deep conversation with a faithful friend.

Carol Penner, assistant professor, Conrad Grebel University College


Amid the busyness of life, we look for ways to connect with God. Four Gifts creates the bridge to ease the journey. April Yamasaki’s experience as a pastor and author forges a book that is eminently practical. Biblical commentary weaves with personal narratives to illustrate strategies for the journey, and end-of-chapter exercises enable immediate application of lessons learned. Four Gifts enables conscious choices to simplify the journey, allowing for significant encounters with God.

Sharon R. Hoover, author of Mapping Church Missions and
director of missions, Centreville Presbyterian Church


April Yamasaki’s Four Gifts was just what I needed just when I needed it. Her honest confessions felt like they were coming from a close friend who was teaching me how to rest in this hurried world, to find peace in the now, and to embrace God in each moment. Step aside. Open these pages. In your hurry, seek self-care and let the four gifts become your friends.

 Chris Maxwell, author of Pause with Jesus and
campus pastor, Emmanuel College


Four Gifts is a virtual clinic for self-care. April Yamasaki opens the door and gently invites us in to a life of caring for our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. She reminds us that this clinic is not a destination in itself but a place for renewal that enables us to continue to serve our God and our neighbors. I found myself wanting to revisit this clinic often, both for the encouragement to take the time for self-care and for the valuable tools she has provided to put it into practice.

Sharla Fritz, author of Enough for Now, Waiting, and Soul Spa


Table of Contents

FOREWORD by Amy Simpson, author of Blessed are the Unsatisfied, Anxious, and Troubled Minds



  1. The Heart of Self-Care
  2. Boundaries of the Heart
  3. Hearts in Community
  4. Heart to Heart


  1. Tending Your Soul
  2. Sabbath as Soul Care
  3. The Soul’s Lament
  4. The Soul and the Fruit of Self-Discipline


  1. Minding Your Focus
  2. Minding Your Digital World
  3. Minding Your Mental Health
  4. Renewing Your Mind


  1. Strength in Weakness
  2. Strength in Healthy Sleep Habits
  3. Strength in Healthy Food Choices
  4. Strengthening Your Self-Care