My Not-So-Pinterest Life {and a memoir giveaway}

I met Emily in person last year at Allume.  I’m pretty sure she’s part angel.  I know you’ll love her, too.  I am honored to welcome her to the blog today as she launches her memoir Atlas Girl into the world.  I continue to be in awe of people who tell their stories with courage and compassion.  Bless you sweet Emily on this special day!  

Making a home

The cookie jar is empty.

The laundry, piled six loads high on the dryer and the boys won’t sit through homeschool. I didn’t sleep well last night and I haven’t had my coffee and all I can think about is needing to make those cookies. Because what kind of mother doesn’t have cookies in her cookie jar?

I am constantly failing Pinterest’s Martha Stewart standards. I don’t have a chalkboard with tonight’s menu on it — goodness, I don’t even have meat thawing, and it’s day-old Chinese for lunch. Again.

I’m rushing the boys, yelling, taking my pent-up mother-guilt on them, forgetting that home is not a casserole or color-coded towels or clean toilets.

Home is mommy’s arms, is Daddy wrestling with his sons on the floor, is a stack of board books piled precarious on the coffee table because your two-year-old is addicted to building towers.

I don’t have to be a great housewife in order to make a home. It’s not about my casseroles or my manicured lawns; it’s about my state of heart, and unless I am filled with peace and joy, my home will feel distant and cold.

Home is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and pulling your boys to you with tears in your eyes and begging them to forgive you for getting stressed out over an empty cookie jar.

Because your life is beautifully full.

And you sit there for a while, a tangle of arms and hearts.

It’s taken me 33 years to find this place with the broken doorbell and the dirty door mat. I traveled the globe searching for it. Because we’re all, deep down, searching for our Father’s house—our eternal dwelling.

Home is a place for the broken to break bread. And in my traveling I learned the comfort of a cooked meal, of a welcome mat at the door, of family’s open arms, and when my Mum got sick with brain cancer I returned to take care of her and found God at her bedside. In the eyes of a woman who homeschooled me, who baked bread every week, who made home for me.

How about you friends? Do you feel the pressure to keep your cookie jars filled, your floors squeaky clean, your laundry neatly folded and put away? Can I say something to you, if you do?

Stop! Stop, and rest. Because friend?

You are more than your clean floors. You are more than your folded laundry or your stocked shelves. You are more than the role of Mom or Homemaker or Wife. You are a woman. You are an intricately designed creation woven in your mother’s womb, whose hairs are counted by the Maker of the Universe. You are loved.

[box] Our lives are not Pinnable. They’re messy, with peanut-butter fingerprints and toy cars and runny noses. And you know what? They’re perfect.[/box]

Because in the end, it’s the family that makes the picture, not the frame.

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My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away THREE copies today. Just leave a comment below to win!

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.”

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Click HERE for a free excerpt.

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I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll 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.

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ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, 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.
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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 www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Thank you, Edie and Emily, for a wonderful reminder that Mommies (especially the stay-at-home ones!) are so much more than the chores list we have for ourselves! My 3 kids are out for the summer and after reading your post today, I am going to pack them up and we will do something fun as a family, to truly appreciate the gift of rest that God has given us in the way of summer break!

    I would LOVE a copy of Emily’s book! Thank you so much for all your inspiration!

  2. I need to read this book. I am very hard on myself when it comes to keeping the house and work responsibilities up.

  3. Wow – your life has been interesting! As the mom of a two teens trying to walk the line of balance between letting my kids grow and providing structure and rules, your mention if rigidity is especially interesting to me right now.

  4. This is the reminder I needed today that my family needs me as I am, not the perfect version I wish I could always be.

  5. I am gearing up to be a single parent in the near future and really needed this reminder about what is important for me and my children.

  6. That description was so poignant. Thanks for reminding us that we all have those days/months/years!

  7. I didn’t cook dinner last night and wrestled the guilt all night. I fed them but I did so by picking something up. I decided I needed a break. It felt good and bad all at the same time……only mom’s know that feeling. Would love to read this one.

  8. I wept when I read this. I had spent the morning pondering what is “good enough” for myself, my family, my home, and then read this post. Today is a good day to focus on that which has meaning in my life.

  9. always trying to find god
    in every face i see
    every smile
    every frown
    these help make me part of
    humanity

  10. Beautiful. . . “It’s taken me 33 years to find this place with the broken doorbell and the dirty door mat. I traveled the globe searching for it. Because we’re all, deep down, searching for our Father’s house—our eternal dwelling.”

    Though I haven’t traveled the globe, and have spent a few more than 33 years on this spinning rock, I have long felt this search for my Father’s house. . .

  11. Phew… this was right to me today. I get so caught up in how everything isn’t perfect… Need to stop and be thankful and choose to let things go a little. Excited for your book, Emily! Would love to win a copy, but I’ll order one if not 😉

  12. I so agree with you, Emily must definitely be part angel, like you! Thank you for
    the opportunity to win anything that she has written!! I definitely see the Lord in her words! I so enjoy your blog too!!

  13. Looks like a wonderful book – thanks for the giveaway! The idea of ‘home’ being not quite what you expected is exactly the topic for me these days. Blessings to you both!

  14. Such sweet words of grace to a Mom of two young boys who has been trying to get just one chore complete with little success today. 🙂 Thanks Eddie and Emily!

    As a Mom, friend to many Moms, and professional counselor (to many a Mom) at a Church, I would welcome the opportunity to get my hands on this book. : )

  15. What a timely post! I have piles of laundry, piles of bills and tons of Pins telling me it should all be different. Hank you for reminding me that my life is more than those chores- my life is the people I love and the joys we share. I’d love to read Atlas Girl and would love to win the book! Thanks for the giveaway and for introducing us to a another interesting, thought-provoking author!

  16. Thanks for being real and sharing your heart. I would love to join you an this journey through reading your book.

  17. This is such a fantastic post and a great reminder that our children will remember us, the time with us and things we do for them and with them and not really how clean the house was during their childhood. I look forward to reading your book!

  18. i am a full-time working mom and wife and praise team leader — and i read this post while sitting at my desk and now eyes brimmed with tears… thank you! a perfect reminder that every good thing in us comes from the Father… and that he will never put more on us than we can handle.

  19. I am a wife and mother of three incredible children. I’am at the point in my life that I should be considering retirement. My husband is in a wheelchair and unable to work so I’m the only income and I also take care of my dad who is in a nursing home. My life is busier now than ever. I struggle with the house not being clean or dishes not done or dinner not on the table. We as women were not made to do it all. I need to learn what rest and relaxation is. Resting in the Lord is my first step. Thank you so much for “listening”.

    • my dear Kim, you have so much on your plate–I pray God will help you find that rest, in the corners of your day, in the crevices of each hour. I pray he will give you strength as you serve, sister. Bless you, e.

  20. Emily’s story sounds like a story you will not be able to leave behind when the last page is read. Cannot wait to take away something of value after reading her story.

  21. Thank you for being transparent and letting young mothers like myself benefit from the roads you have traveled.

  22. I am loving the exerpt I have read here so much – how wonderful it would be to read the rest! Thank you for the entry and prayers for your book to reach many.

  23. Sounds like an amazing book to read. Exactly the kind of book this pastor’s wife needs to read. Our family isn’t perfect and I don’t need to try and make it look like it is. Thank you for offering your book to us!

  24. THANK YOU!!! Ever since I have discovered your blog Edie, it has been a blessing!!! Please keep doing what you are doing because it means so much. You’ve encouraged me in more ways than one and I just really appreciate your words at this point in my life!!! And thank you for sharing Emily’s wonderful words too! I so needed to see that today. My to do list is growing and I have no idea where to start but that’s ok! It’ll get down! Thank you ladies and God Bless!!!

  25. This is just what I needed to hear today! I’m so hard on myself and need to understand my value just as I am to the lord. Thank you!

  26. I’m sitting at my island at 5pm straight up with all the ingredients for dinner still in individual bags and packages feeling like a failure for not being able to “get it all done” today…and I clicked on your blog. Like a cool breeze in the middle of hot and humid Memphis summers, these were welcome words that have refreshed my soul. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  27. Emily’s heart is beautiful. I love that most of the blogs I read are giving away her books! If I win, I’ll be able to share with a friend or the church library. 😉

  28. Emily’s book sounds wonderful…and familiar, at least the beginning of the story.
    The video wouldn’t play for me. 🙁

  29. Beautiful and Amen! Would love to win a copy of the book but will be reading it either way!

  30. Today after stressing about work, my boss begging me to work unpaid overtime, my husband trying to clean the house and keep in my good graces while trying to look for a job like the one he lost in May, and my two children knocking on my office door asking if it’s time for swim lessons, squeezing in two doctor appointments for one child, the reliable car starts making a very loud noise which I’m listening to as I idle in the driveway, open the garage door to hear the spring break and cables snap–this is exactly what I needed. I need the reminder to take a deep breath and step back. I have a healthy family, a happy family, and while the car, garage, and the custom orthodics will set us back, life goes on.

  31. This is so encouraging – as my bathrooms are dirty, toys are everywhere and dishes are still in the sink. My baby girl was sick tonight and just wanted me to hold her – and I’m glad I did instead of doing all the other “things”.

    I would love to win your book – I read the exerpt and am so intrigued!

  32. My favorite friend gave me The Nesting Place (from Edie’s recommendation:) for my birthday. I just finished it, and Atlas Girl sounds like a great next read. I can’t get enough reminders that I am still an OK person without realms of perfection! Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!

  33. A much needed reminder today. Thank you. Just got my two year old down and I am taking a break before I start digging out my kitchen floor from the piles of toys, water, towels, and life that happened in there today. Gotta get ready for tomorrow! It starts all over again but maybe I can meet the day with a little more grace. Thank you.

  34. Oh my, if this wasn’t God speaking to me, I sure don’t know what that would be!
    As I end my day reading this, thanking God for these words I am realizing this is the third message on this topic God sent me today! My to do list is long, my laundry piles big, my floors are dirty…it is summer & I want to spend every blessed moment with my 4 little school aged people in ways that make us smile…I want to hold them, laugh, play, just be with them…the other stuff, it does not matter! Thank you Emily for your reaffirming message tonight. I cannot wait to read your memoir! And by the way, if I am filling the cookie jar, its gonna be while my sweet kins help me do so!!!! Life is way too short!!

  35. I think I am stressing over the cookie jars these days while trying to juggle house, mission work and two thirteen year olds in homeschool. Your post is stirring something deep but unspoken. I look forward to reading your story. Thanks for sharing & being a blessing to others…

  36. This is beautiful! These words are exactly what I felt as a young mom. I tried to keep things in perspective, but there was always that pull to “do it right”. I thoroughly enjoyed my two kids. Recently, our 18-year-old set out on a journey similar to Emily’s. Our home is much like the one Emily grew up in, and now I am trusting God to help our child write her life story HIS way. So far, it’s an ugly horror story. How I need to read a story of restoration, Emily’s story of finding God in all her wanderings! As I seek to daily keep my eyes on God, I pray for my child to be covered by the blood of Jesus as protection from Satan. My child, a Christian, has lost her way…temporarily. Although I grieve…heavily…moment by moment…To God be the Glory in all things!

  37. I just read a devotion by Emily on proverbs 31, then I jump over here to see her again. Never heard of her until today, but I will definitely be reading the blog. Would love to receive this book. God bless…

  38. Sitting here on the brink of tears with 4 littles and trying to homeschool in the midst of what feels like a chaotic mess, and feeling like I’m not enough for challenge. Thank you for this reminder to embrace the beauty of just being their mama. I would love a copy of your new book too. Thank you for sharing your story.

  39. Thank you Edie and Emily…as a mom to three teens I ask myself if all of the investment over the last nearly 22 years even had “weight” – I needed to hear these words today! The Lord bless you gals!

  40. sounds like you certainly have a story to share….would like to read it and how you came to have a ministry, too.

  41. Yes. Relating (a little too?) whole-heartedly to the intro about sitting with my boys on the kitchen floor with tears… been there already this morning. Looking forward to reading AtlasGirl, whether I win or not!

  42. I’m reading this through tears. Perfect timing and powerful words! Thank you 🙂 Looking forward to the book!

  43. Wow. Powerful words, Emily! I can’t wait to read this. Can we all agree to have cereal and popsicles for dinner so we don’t have to clean the kitchen but go catch fire flies instead? Love. 🙂

  44. Home has been one of my favorite concepts for years! This looks like a beautiful book. Thank you for sharing your story!

  45. wow! i want to start reading this now. as i sit here and type this, there are toys strown thoughoutout the living room, dishes that need to be put away, and sewing that i want to get done. i am a person who constantly sets unrealistic deadlines for herself, and loves to have the house picked up, but the reminder that those things are not important couldn’t have been more timely. shutting down now to go love on those that make me wife and mama.

  46. thank you, I really needed those words today! I strive for perfection in our home and honestly, it’s unattainable: the floors will always be dirty five minutes after mopping, there will always be a spoon in the sink…it’s called living.

  47. Oh wow. . . This really hit home for me. I needed to hear this and would love to read more!! Thank you so much for the opportunity!!

  48. This sounds like a wonderful book, and I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it yet! Thank you for sharing with us, Edie! xo

  49. Wow! Moved to tears…..this hits me at home, because I was/am that mom that finds comfort in the full cookie jar, well planned meal and tidy home. I am approaching the empty nest, and have found myself filled with so many regrets as I realize that I would like a “do-over” button, in order to parent so very differently. I pray that this book will find it’s way into the hands of those that will be touched and changed for the better. Can’t wait to read it myself!

  50. I would love to win a copy of this book. I think God would really speak to me through her. Thanks for sharing your life with us, Edie! And thank you, for the chance to win.

  51. As a mom/foster mom and wife….I often catch myself believing the lie that I have to do it all and do it all perfectly. I am comforted by your words and look forward to reading your book. Thank you for writing it!!

  52. It makes me so happy to know you two know each other. Emily has always inspired me with her words. I imagine this book is going to continue the tradition.

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  55. Emily, thank you for the needed reminder that home is not a place, but the people we’re with; and our ultimate home is with Christ.

  56. Your message is for all moms, of all ages…whether you have toddlers at home or kids with toddlers of their own. Thanks!!

  57. Just. Beautiful! And very timely. As I read this post the floor needs to be swept, a mountain of laundry needs to be folded and put away and there is still another mountain just waiting to get washed. But I’ve a full day planned with my girls tomorrow and they need a mother who will be patient and loving and enjoy them in good times and in bad. So maybe I should lay my head to sleep… Know when to fold. (Yes, pun intended).

  58. Wow! Why do I constantly need to be reminded of this? I know spending time and being with my children is the most important thing I can do, and yet it is so easy to get bogged down by others, and my own crazy expectations! Would love to read the rest!

  59. loved what you wrote, thanks for sharing. It is good to hear that others feel the same as I do dometimes.

  60. I have been that over doing it kind of mom, and see it in my daughters. I pray for them often to change the cycle. Would love your book.

  61. This made me run upstairs, tell my girls to stop with their chores and go outside and enjoy the summer day!! Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I forget my worth is not measured by my clean house and everything in it! I needed this today…thank you!!!

  62. Beautifully put, especially for this working mom, who serves and serves, and wonders if I am not serving my family because of the dishes that in my sink and laundry piles in my hallway. I run out the door to my “big time” job and run home to curl up with my baby boy. We read books and play games and snuggle every night. Thank you for helping me to feel less guilty about investing in the most important things now.

  63. I moderate a facebook fanpage for homeschooling moms. Some days I just want to weep for the ridiculously high standards they are failing to meet. I’m an old lady (almost 50) and have been led by the Lord to let that stuff go. I often pray they will find the importance of “home” in homeschooling! I’d love to see more of your book.

  64. Ah! I am fighting this a lot especially this week. I’ve been a bear… and not a mother bear. The tasks seem more important- cause if I don’t do them, well then other things happen because I didn’t. It’s a viscous cycle. I know I’m supposed to sit and cuddle- or as another blog said- be kind. But I am ragged… and so are my words and actions. Thank you for posting this blog. I needed it.

  65. Emily, thank you for allowing us to read the excerpt from your book. I was deeply touched by your life and struggles, but saw hope and can’t wait to read more! I would love a copy. Thank you, also, to Edie for introducing us. You both are wonderful at putting your heart out with pen and paper. Blessings, Cindy

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