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Celebrating the Release of Atlas Girl

by Emily Wierenga

we love

July 1, 2014

Celebrating the Release of Atlas Girl

Hello, Darling. It's time for a celebration, don't you think? Our own Emily Wierenga is releasing her memoir today, and we couldn't think of a better way to share it with you than giving your an excerpt. (Plus, she's giving away 3 free copies!) We know Emily best through her beautifully penned words that capture the intimacy of ife's intricacies. We love the way she shares her current life with us, and we thought you'd enjoy a glimpse into the events that have shaped Emily along the way. Anyway, here's Emily...


 

Friends, this is an excerpt from my new memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look, releasing July 1st through Baker Books. I am excited to give away THREE copies today. Just leave a comment below to win. 

        

 

Excerpt

The smell of my hands reminds me of Africa.

Of mangoes mashed, of Mum feeding me, and my brother too, and now, I’m feeding her, and she doesn’t open her mouth when I ask her to.

The sky is pretty, like Mum’s pink silk scarf, the one hanging in her closet, and the windows are dirty, maybe I’ll clean them today. Mum thinks today is Sunday—funny, because yesterday was Sunday too, she thought—“and there’s church and I will need to take my blue purse with my Bible and where are my glasses?”

This is what she would normally say, but suddenly she can’t speak, kind of like me until the age of four because we moved so much, and Dad says I just watched people. Just stood at the fence in Congo and watched our neighbors.

Mum is trying to ask me something, but her mouth won’t work. I busy myself with the spoon and the mashed fruit. I might as well be buying baby food, for the way Mum can’t chew. I don’t have children of my own and this is something Trent wants, and “Maybe one day” I tell him.

I didn’t use to want children at all, and now I’m bathing Mum, who’s had brain cancer for five years, and I’m changing her and cutting her toenails and my womb is too full of grief and wonder to make room for a baby.

Funny how the two go together, grief and wonder, kind of like when Jesus died and his murderers realized he was God even as the sky tore. The sky is bleeding red, and in a month it will blaze cerulean with late August heat. The fields of corn and canola misting as combines whirr and the air, thick with the meaty smell of harvest.

And Mum’s still fumbling for words, and when she does talk she has a British accent but now she has nothing and I wish, I wish she knew how much I loved her.

“Bigger,” Mum says finally, and I know she’s trying to say, “I love you bigger.”

“I love you biggest,” I tell her, wiping drool and mango from her chin with a cloth and it’s not supposed to be this way.

I’m helping her stand, now, and she’s light. She hasn’t been this small since Africa, where she knit afghans with local women while Dad taught blind men how to plant and Keith and I played in the mud, him in his cloth diaper and me in my underwear.

I read somewhere that stress can trigger brain tumors. Perhaps Mum’s grew when she found Nanny in the bathtub, dead. Or maybe this tumor is my fault. Maybe it’s from when I got anorexia, Mum holding me at night when she thought I was asleep and her crying. Or maybe it’s from all of those pots and pans flying across the room when she and I would fight. Or maybe it’s from when I left the house at 18 and didn’t look back. Mum’s diaper is poking out of her stretchy pants, the ones she always wears because they’re easiest to pull up if she’s unconscious, and there’s someone at the door and I’m helping her across the floor towards her blue recliner.

And Mum is asleep in her chair even before I answer the door. 268386_Wierenga_WB

From the back cover

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”

Click HERE for Chapters 1 and 2. 271486_Wierenga_WB I'm also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and then head HERE to receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir -- an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva. Atlas Girl_700x175_2 ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards a non-profit founded by TBM's Joy Forney and myself, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel. 


 

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.


 

If there were a story from your life that deserves writing, what story would that be?

Related topics: Reality, Parenting, Inspire, Emily , Emily, Books

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My story of struggling with eating issues and poor self-image for years, mostly behind closed doors until 2 years ago with the birth of my son. My life was turned upside down with post-partum and migraines. Then being given a second chance at life with the birth of my third child this March.

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Sara, thank you for sharing! Your story sounds like it would impact many people.

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What an incredible-looking book! My own story would be one of how much God has worked despite hard and sad circumstances. It's amazing how he can bring so much beauty through pain.

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It really is, Laura. He weaves beautiful things into our lives.

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I can look back on this gift of my life and see my growth from daughter to wife to mother of 2 daughters to single mom for 20 years to finding love and becoming a wife once again and stepmom to 2 boys and gaining a son-in-law and looking forward to becoming a grandmother someday...and all these years I have prayed to God for blessings and answers and find that His answers are not always what I wanted but they are always what is best for me and they come in His time and not mine...what a gift this life has been so far! Lots of mountain-top moments and plenty of dark times in the valleys and I know without a doubt that He carried me through the valleys so I could shout with joy when I reached the summit - we can not know joy until we have felt sorrow - how else would we know the difference? These things I share with those who come and go in my life to help them know that if I can survive, they can, too!

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Thanks, Jennifer. Sounds like an incredible journey you have to share!

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I relocated from another state and during the course of a women's bible study, I was asked by a young mother in my group to be a Mentor Mom for MOPS - what a blessing this has been and I am doing it again next year. How I wish I had known about MOPS when my children were little! MOPS is terrific!

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That is wonderful you are loving on other mom's!

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My infertility journey

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Hi, Amber. I know your story would impact many women!

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I think there is a story God is writing in my life about continual re-location and re-adjustment, finding home, finding church, finding friends and keeping long-distance ones, and learning how to find a supportive community when family is far away.

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Connection and community is so essential! In our age of travel, I know many folks would connect with your story.

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It wouldn't necessarily be exciting or insightful, but mine would be the story of my life as a mother so far :)

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Lindsay, a wonderful story because it is yours!

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Wow, I read the sample chapters and can't wait for more!! I'm in the process of writing and telling my ever-unfolding personal story right now. A story of God's redemption, and the twists and turns along the way.

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Brittany, love that you are in the process of writing your story!

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I would love to read this book! I would tell the story of the process of making my faith my own, of the process of living my life in the way that reflects how I see God. It's a story that's not finished, but it's been the most life-changing thing that's happened to me.

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Thanks for sharing, Holly! A wonderful story to share.

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The story of a trying so hard to earn God's (and others) approval and how He pursued me and showed me how much he loves me no matter what I do.

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What an amazing lesson learned. Many would be impacted by your story.

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My birth journeys, from csection to vbacs to homebirth, and the incredible power our mind has.

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It sounds like an amazing journey you have to share!

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Probably our miscarriage and then the healing with the birth of our daughter. It's allowed us to talk with people in a way we never saw coming.

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Thank you for sharing, Kim!

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The story of how I lost my fiance in an apartment fire my senior year of college, fell into the pit of despair, struggled with depression and suicide, and was pulled out by the grace of God through my friend who later became my husband. I never dreamed when I met my husband and we began our friendship my freshman year that he would play such a dynamic and amazing role in my life! God is good!

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Wow! What an amazing story, Amy!

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the story of how God used my battle with an eating disorder to introduce me to my husband and how he healed me

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Thank you for sharing! The people brought into our lives are so important.

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The story of how our daughter was adopted, and how that led to us being saved!

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It sounds like you have a beautiful story and legacy to give to your daughter.

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Buying and living in a fixer-upper (house)! The entire process, from selling our former house in a short time, to the daily adventure of living in a construction zone with small children, has been a refining process and a huge blessing for me. Also it has strengthened our marriage. And all this after I did not want to move in the first place! It is truly a picture of God's faithfulness.

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It sounds like it is a whirlwind story! Amazing to see how all the pieces weave together in time.

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I don't have a specific story from my life that deserves published writing. The only thing worthy of writing about is when God saved me from sin and exchanged my filthy rags for a robe and a crown. Thank you, Lord!

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Rebecca, the story of God's salvation is always a great story to share!

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Growing up on the river and the adventures that we had.

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Wow, that sounds like a fun story! Thanks!

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I would tell the story of my mom's life and death. Losing her shattered me, and gave me the opportunity to decide how to rebuild myself and my beliefs.

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Sounds like a story that would impact many people! Thanks for sharing!

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How my daughter's brief (in years) life forever changed the direction of my own life and the lives of many others.

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That is a powerful story! I hope you can share the full story sometime! Thanks!

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Isn't it beautiful how even a brief earthly life can change our own lives and hearts forever?

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The story of God sending me to Africa and how it changed my life and my families of future generation even.

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Being in another country has a huge impact on us and provides great stories to share!

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The story of how God is leading us and teaching us through having a large family.

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Cristin, I bet there is a lot of learning that happens in a large family! Thanks for sharing!

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Gods faithfulness in our journey to start a family.

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That sounds like a story many people would benefit from hearing! Thanks for sharing!

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Our family's latest adventure where God has directed and lead us to Southern California, a place I never thought we would live but absolutely love!!

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I love the stories of faithfulness! That's a great story to share!

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Becoming a mother, and all the little unexpected changes/joys wrapped up in that!

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Yes, parenting can provide lots of stories! Thanks for sharing!

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My life as it was before Christ and the journey that I have taken with Christ now that I am saved.

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Your testimony can be such a powerful story!

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God's faithfulness in all of life's stages, even through our faith struggles

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Kimberly, it's always great to share the story of God's faithfulness!

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The 4 months that I spent in south India, and when I went to visit the Taj Mahal! mysticbutterfly37 at yahoo.com.

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Traveling can create great memories and great stories! That sounds very interesting!

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Trusting God All the Way to Vegas

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Wow, that sounds very interesting! I would love to hear that story!

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My story would be about God's continual guidance from place to place in my life.

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That is a great story! It's great to reflect and see God in all the places you have been!

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How to pick up the pieces after divorce.

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This would be an encouraging story for many to read/hear about! Thanks!

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The love story of my husband and I after my first failed marriage and my sheer faith in God that I had been wrong not He which led me to my husband , the true love of my life and father of my child.

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Thank you for sharing! That is a great story to share and one that would be encouraging to many!

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My story would end up being a biography of my entire life. It would be a story of growing up the daughter of unbelievers, about the tragedies I faced as a small girl, the challenges of poor self-esteem as a young teen, and then how it all turned around when I met Jesus!

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What a powerful story! Thank you for sharing! I hope you get the opportunity to share your story sometime!

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My story would be about God's faithfulness and patience with me as I learn to love myself, my family and ultimately a God I always thought as judgmental and powerfully mean.

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That is a powerful story! It's always hard to try to relearn something we believed to be true. Thank you for sharing!

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Life is about surrender to our all-loving God, not control. And so many beautiful surprises along the way.

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That is a great story to share! Thank you!

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My story would be about God's perfect timing and His plan that sometimes has been more like a slow, curvy, winding river rather than a direct path. I love seeing how He works things out for my good even when His will doesn't seem to make sense at that time.

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Kelly, the journey that God takes it usually not the journey we had in mind. That is always a good thing to share and encourages others! Thanks!

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Uniquely Yours Oh Lord.....I Am Unique-- With God I have a Story!

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Yes! Thank you for sharing!

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It would be about parenting. How I didn't even think I'd like my first child and how my heart just about burst with love the first moment I saw him. And how I have three now and how all I can do is pray that I don't screw it up!!

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The journey of parenting is always a great story share!

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Good question! I would share about how God stepped in to the darkest time in my life, and blessed me with a beautiful life. I was addicted to drugs, a heavy drinker, and lived my life trying to find my next fix. I was depressed, suicidal, and didn't care about anything other than getting high. I know I would not have lived long had I stayed on the road I was on. God intervened. He changed my heart, and got me out of that situation. I truly don't even feel like the same person I was then. I am grateful for everyrhing I went through, because it has given me so much love for the hurting around me. He also blessed me with a great husband, and 4 wonderful children. I believe my life is a miracle, and that is what I would share about. :)

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That's an amazing story! Thank you for sharing this with us!

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What a testimony, and a testament of God's forgiveness and saving grace! May God bless you and your family!

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Can't wait to read it!!

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The love story of my grandparents

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Those stories are always fun to remember and retell!

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I wouldn't know where to start, but I think on my faith, and how it has gotten me as far as I am!

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The story of faith is always powerful!

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My life from simple quiet girl to the journeys God has brought me through as a Pastor's Wife and friend to others.

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It's always amazing to see where God takes us! Thank you for sharing!

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Each of us has a unique story worthy of print with far too many chapters to fit in one book. Perhaps the wonder that God chose the one trait that was so ingrained in me by my father, self-sufficient independence, to prove to me that He is the one in control, not me. That brokenness brought me to the foot of the cross for which I am forever grateful.

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oh wow Ellen, this is SO insightful! bless you for sharing friend. e.

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My journey of faith raising an infant and caring for my husband during his cancer treatment

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oh sister; this does not sound like an easy journey at all. May God continue to give you strength. bless you, e.

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Jerilyn, it sounds like you have been on an incredible journey. Praying for you and your family today!

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I think I would write about our journey of planting a church and all the struggles and triumphs that came along with it! God has shown us such grace, mercy and faithfulness through it all!

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i would love to read this Amy! love the work you are doing. bless you, e.

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It is amazing to look back and see how all the pieces of our stories are being woven together. All the best in your church plant!

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My story of trusting God in the midst of fractured relationships, particularly in loving and honoring someone with mental illness, is something I am currently writing about. It's a story of anger, fear and finding my identity in Christ for roles that I was very afraid to live out - mother and wife - not having a godly example of that myself. I am trusting God to work through this writing project of mine, to bring healing and restoration.

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oh Holly, trusting in that with you! Lord, please bring healing... amen.

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It sounds like you are on an incredible journey in sharing your story.

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