God is For You - Even When Life Isn't - Guest Post by Emily Wierenga

It's been awhile since I've had a guest here in my Living Room, sitting beside me upon that orange couch, with the word FAMILY like a cushion beneath our feet - talking through life amidst young children and dreams - our sense of self-worth bouncing perilously between the two. But these are conversations we simply must make time for. And so it is with a heart full of gratitude that I introduce you to one of my very favorite authors. Emily Wierenga is the person and the pen behind last year's bondage-breaking memoir Atlas Girl, and this year's moving sequel, Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose.  


God is For You—Even When Life Isn’t (FREE webcast!)

By Emily T. Wierenga


“I don’t know how to tell you this, Emily, but—they said no.” I’m on the phone with my agent two weeks after giving birth to my nearly nine-pound Kasher and I’m crying before she starts because I know.

“It’s been so long,” I whisper. It’s all the breath left in me.

“I know—I’m so sorry,” she says, and we’re silent together, except for my hiccupping sobs. An editor has been courting the manuscript for a year, and after three hundred and sixty five days of waiting, the publishing board has said no and I have nothing.

Forgetting how doctors had said I wouldn’t be able to have children, forgetting about the miracle that lies in my arms and the other one that’s coloring a picture at the Ikea kids’ table. Forgetting about the man who lives to make me laugh, who’s making wine in the kitchen, forgetting the sound of Mum’s voice on the end of the line, the voice of a woman I’d thought would die now lives, healed of her brain tumor.

Forgetting that a book deal is not what gives me a name, but it’s all I hear: the sound of rejection on the other end of the line, the sound of me, being made a fool, for all my waiting and hoping. The champagne bottle unopened in the fridge.




“Everything okay?” Trent mouths the words at me. I shake my head. Kasher asleep in my arms and my agent telling me I should spend some time writing what I want to write. To put this book aside and just do something that brings me joy.

I don’t know what that means. I don’t know how to do anything for joy and then I remember dating Trent. I remember that kiss in the rain outside his townhouse; I remember hours on the carpet with my head on his chest, talking, listening to the radio and I remember midnight bike rides to Rundle Park, playing Frisbee golf and watching movies just to hold each other’s hand.

A joy that writes what it wants to.

“Alright,” I say, and my agent prays with me and we say Goodbye.

I wonder how long she will put up with me. I haven’t sold anything yet and Aiden’s showing me his picture. It’s a scribble of green marker—his favorite color—and he’s got green on his lips and he’s smiling but his eyebrows are raised. He’s wondering if I like it, and he’s only two. His mommy’s fears course through him and I kneel down and hug him, tell him, “It’s magnificent, son, I can’t wait to hang it on the fridge,” and his small body relaxes.

He knows in this moment that I love him because I said I like his picture but I want for him what I want for me: the long-lasting sense of self in spite of what the world tells him. I want him to be so at peace that he can sleep in the boat while the storm rocks and I want him to know without a shadow of a doubt the confidence that makes a person walk on water.

And maybe if I learn it, he will too.


This excerpt is taken from Emily Wierenga’s new memoir, Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose. Order HERE.


What does it mean to be a woman and to make a home? Does it mean homeschooling children or going to the office every day? Cooking gourmet meals and making Pinterest-worthy home décor? In Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose, author and blogger Emily Wierenga takes readers on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting and the daily struggle of longing to be known, inviting them into a quest for identity in the midst of life’s daily interruptions. Get your copy HERE. Proceeds benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree.


Get FREE downloadable chapters from Making It Home HERE.


Sign up for the FREE Making It Home webcast featuring Liz Curtis Higgs, Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Jo Ann Fore (with Emily Wierenga as host), 8 pm CT on September 10, 2015, HERE (http://eepurl.com/bqa8fX). Once you sign up you’ll be automatically entered for a giveaway of each of the authors books.



Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, columnist, artist, author, founder of The Lulu Tree and blogger at www.emilywierenga.com. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Relevant, Charisma, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Dayspring's (in)courage and Focus on the Family. She is the author of six books including the travel memoir Atlas Girl and speaks regularly about her journey with anorexia. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Trenton, and their children. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Iraq, Ferguson, Israel, martyrdom, and the Holocaust


It hit me hard, there in the In N Out drive through lane. The reality that half a world away mothers were handing over babies to evil men, while I was handing over burgers and fries for lunch.  I pulled over and wept as my children ate.  Then I told them the truth as gently as I could, people were dying in the world today because they would not disown God. The next day I couldn't bring myself to eat, because my faith felt small.  Calling it fasting doesn't seem right.  I needed to hear from The Lord and food just didn't seem the right highway to His voice.  So again I pulled to the side of the road, metaphorically this time, and bowed low.  All day long.  And after much heartsickness I felt God meet me in the posture of my broken faith.


(and) I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; (Revelation 6:9)


In my hunger for food and my hunger for Him, God reminded me that He sees each pain, hears each cry, and catches every tear.


However atrocious evil acts are, God's mercy hands which grab hold of His saints are more glorious.  And the martyrs throughout history and around the world, who in their death actually see God's face, have experienced His powerful presence more than our safe souls can fathom.  And a deep part of me yearns for that nearness.  Like Stephan, and so many since, "to see Heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!" (Acts 7:55-56)


Oh to see His face,

And to know He sees mine;

Fear, joy, and the forever promise of glory must mingle in the exchange.


We went to a fundraiser a few years back, my husband and I, for a ministry that trains local Christians to preach the Good News of Jesus' love within the borders of the Islamic world.  That was the weekend "suffering for the Lord"  became more than words, as they took on the faces and stories of real people.

Testimony after testimony flooded over safe people with deep pockets.

The story of the pregnant woman who was kicked in the belly until she gave up her child.  Her eyes lit up at the retelling, for she saw Jesus' eyes and heard His voice.  And a young man shared his story or those same eyes, for in his suffering he saw them too.  And the two women imprisoned and abused, that just had to preach truth to their captors again and again, for the spirit of God's nearness compelled them.

Then Robin Williams died, and a new sadness washed over me.  More than grief over one lost life, more than another great talent gone too soon, I was heartsick again over a hurting world.  Hurting people in a hurting world, needing Those Eyes to penetrate their pain, my pain, and yours.



The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)



And Ferguson.  Does He see the ongoing pain of His black children too?  My heart's still digesting this one.  And I've never moved past those dear girls in Nigeria, stolen.  How can we ever move past that?



Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His Sight.


In. His. Sight.


And He sees throughout the land of Israel and into each Palestinian home, and across all the desert lands surrounding.  He sees.

Seeing into the fearful hearts of children, stranded and scared on the other side of their border-home.  And into orphan hearts and prostitution rings.

I know He sees, but the hurting parts of me cry out "Why"?  Like the elderly man who stood beside me looking at the gold-leafed, brilliantly illustrated pages of the Gutenberg Bible a few years ago.

We spoke of the historic achievement of Johannes Gutenberg's printing press, among other things. It was a nice, albeit short, conversation. And when he turned to leave I said something I rarely say to a stranger. Maybe it was the presence of the Bible in the room, or the very Spirit of God leading us into what would come. I said, "God Bless you today."

In an instant he turned with twisted face and hissed, "God? God ?"  Then rolled up his sleeve and laid his forearm bare. The numbers on his old thin skin spoke of an evil unfathomable. "God? You really believe there is a God? A God who would allow this... evil?" Shaking his fragile fist he waited for my answer.

This is what spilled out of my mouth that hot afternoon, out into the cool, dark room where history is stored. "I am so sorry you've had to endure such hatred. But God does love you, Sir. God loves every one of us, however He doesn't force us to love Him back. He gives us all the freedom to choose. For that is love. But with the freedom to choose love, comes the freedom to choose hate. And evil. And those who chose evil did evil to you. But God does love you, Sir. He does." We both stood there, strangers, with tears rolling down our faces. His old and weathered, and mine still young. Both wet.

He took a step back, and said, "I've never thought of it like that."


Today I am thinking of it like that.


Because, again, pure evil is being chosen out of free will.  Again and again.  And so I pray for the innocent oppressed by their hatred today.  And I'm praying for you.  And I'm praying for me.


How are you coping today?  And how is your faith faring these storms?


Wendy Speake


- My current series on "knowing my children" can wait another day.

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

In the weariness of cooking, cleaning, and making things just so for beloved family and friends, sometimes the devil finds a foothold and turns...

You are Welcome here

...into heavy sighs that say, "This is costing me too much."

I began the summer with three back-to-back weeks of non-stop, desperately wanted, lovingly invited house guests.  But between you and me... I was worn out by the end of week two!  Not because they'd been anything but wonderful, just because that's a whole lot of going and serving and picking up and cooking and washing towels and getting ready for the next big meal.  Even now as I look back, I can see myself bellied up to the sink, sleeves rolled high, head bowed in prayer...

Search me, God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)


Because, "You are Welcome here" requires more than a clean sink, it takes a clean heart.

Now that our guests are gone, all that's left is our party of five.  But the "You are Welcome here" mentality must remain.  Because the way we love our little ones each ordinary day, is supremely more important than the extrordinary ways we serve our special guests.  Yes, I know, it's our little family that usually wearies us most, but the joy of serving them is much more important than our fresh enthusiasm over extended family and out of town guests.  Theirs are the little hearts being hardwired as we Welcome them to each new day, as we Welcome them into our laps, as we Welcome them to the table. Let us dare not save our smiles in the linen cabinet with those white laundered napkins; serving flimsy paper towels with grumbles to our most treasured house guests.  All this Continual Feasting!  It feels terribly inconvenient amidst our summer plans.  But these are the darlings our Welcome means the most to!  And they turn little faces upward and say,  "Thank you, Mama."

You are Welcome

They say thank you and we respond, "You are Welcome."  And they are!  But we need to make room as we make muffins.  Making room for them, by cleaning out the grumbles hidden in our hearts.  We must make room as we make their scrambled eggs and fry up bacon.  Making room to run back into the fray of serving; back to the sink, back to the prayer, and back to those hungry kid bellies, with clean hearts. Because we love them!


I leave you with this most amazing, and incredibly simple recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins! These are a favorite here in our home, amongst guests and residents alike!

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

(makes 24)


4 cups Pamela's (Gluten Free - Wheat Free) Baking & Pancakes Mix 2 tsp salt 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 1 TBS cinnamon 4 TBS cocoa powder 1/2 cup melted oil (I use coconut oil) 4 large eggs 4 cups finely grated zucchini (3-4 zucchini) 2 tsp vanilla 1 bag chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare two greased muffin pans.  Combine wet ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another.  Mix them together until there are not lumps.  Pour muffin mix into prepared pans and bake for about 20 minutes.


Serve them hot from the oven for breakfast, or as an afternoon snack with a schmear of goat cheese and a pot of tea. Or cover with chocolate ganache for a tasty chocolate cupcake dessert. (I haven't done the latter suggestion because I love chocolate ganache frosting more than life itself!  I would not be able to stand the temptation of a big bowl of frosting, and so I mustn't actually try this at home!  But you let me know how it goes!   photo-125

More than Red, White, and Blue


The Fourth of July is stars and stripes, with color coordinated, jam filled layer cakes.  Independence day fun in backyards, from sea to shining sea, with a bowl full of cherries, and a great big platter of corn bread.  American food sustaining American kids as the sun dips down and fireworks ignite the sky.  

But The Fourth is more than our freedom to play,

more than decorated porches.

So much more than red, white, and blue.




The fourth is a picture of salvation.

A glorious, sweeping tale of Amazing grace.

An epic story of a people redeemed and set free.

And a challenge to live free indeed.


So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)


But what does freedom look like when so many are still oppressed?   In other countries and our own free land as well.  What does being "free indeed" mean with over 200 Nigerian school girls stolen?  What does freedom look like when my water is free of parasites, and my soles are clear of chiggers, and my father didn't sell me to a brick maker for a meager debt he never could repay?

With fireworks three nights away, I am aware that the Fourth of July must be more than red, white, and blue. More than our history and our independence, it is our responsibility to live free indeed; free to fight for justice on behalf of those still bound.  It must, in this age when the number of men, women, boys and girls enslaved is the highest in human history.



We think of slavery as a practice of the past, an image from Roman colonies or 18th-century American plantations, but the practice of enslaving human beings as property still exists. There are 29.8 million people living as slaves right now, according to a comprehensive new report issued by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation.

This is not some softened, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership.  (The Washington Post)


The 4th of July is more than red, white, and blue

when black, brown, and yellow are still enslaved.

But our awareness of this ugly reality is not enough;

it's the beginning, but it's not enough.




I don't want you to forego celebrating our Nation's Independence.  Celebrate it to the skies, where fireworks decorate our blessed joy.  But let your freedom propel you forward to live free indeed, as an advocate for those enslaved.  I'm committed this holiday to not grow complacent as the days and weeks and months spread out since the last big atrocity grabbed our hearts and attention. #bringbackourgirls empowered us in May, but now here we are in July, celebrating freedom while our Nigerian sisters are being sold for $12 to husbands.


Here are 3 things I suggest we do to advocate for those held in bondage today.


1 - Fast and Pray

The purpose of fasting in Biblical times was to fight with power against spiritual darkness.  What is darker in our present world than slavery?  Join me each Monday as we lift up the 60,000 women held captive in the sex industry right here within our free Nation's borders.  Or choose any country on any continent and pray for the poorest of the poor, where evil preys like pestilence.


2 - Join with International Justice Mission

Organizations like IJM are doing the dangerous but necessary work throughout the world, bringing detectives into hostile areas, finding slaves, and working with local governments to set them free by bringing perpetrators to justice.  By partnering with International Justice Mission you learn first hand the reality of this epidemic, how to pray, and how to give.  But the joy that comes from the testimonies of families set free is like the Fourth of July again and again and again... because freedom is still hard earned.  And you can be a part of it!


3 - Discover your Part

Honestly, I don't know my part yet.  But I know it starts with a hashtag and the signing of a petition like this one.  And I know that as our hearts becomes more supple to the reality and pain of  sex trafficked women, child soldiers, and mulit-generational families enslaved together, our individual freedom becomes more than red, white, and blue.  What exactly it will look in your life, I can't fathom.  But it will be as glorious as the unfurling of Old Glory.  Red, White, and Blue.


Please tell me how you are praying, and what you are doing;

That we might inspire one another

from Living Room to Living Room;

From purple mountain majesty,

across the fruited plains

of America.



From my kitchen to the ends of the earth


Today I invite you into the heart of our home. My kitchen. See it there behind the orange couch.  It’s not the biggest kitchen I’ve had, but larger than the smallest. My husband painted those cabinets a light grey when we moved in, with a promise to one day remodel it all. But I’m happy as it is; even with that cracked side of the electric stovetop and broken down microwave.

Because what I like most about my kitchen... is that I don’t see it.


Smack-dab in the middle of our home, a breezeway between Living Spaces and loved ones.

Turn around to find our breakfast nook.  Surrounded by windows, encircled by flowering plants; where hummingbirds and bluejays join us for lunch.




When we moved in I bought a glass top kitchen table for the nook, because I didn’t want to see a table.  Again,  I wanted only to see what is lovely to me;  my sons, their handsome Dad, family and friends.

Blessed here in our own little world.  Having picnics in our park, three meals a day.

Lovely, isn’t it? I could end here, with encouragement to focus in at home and love on your beloveds. Nourish them, from the heart of your home. Be content with the broken stovetop burners and chipped cabinets.  But I can't stop here; we must press on beyond our nooks, beyond our glass windows where light pours in.




The only decorations within our nook are a set of 3 dry erase board and an antique coal bin I painted bright green. On the boards I scrawl verses and prayer requests. Pictures of the children we sponsor through Compassion International are tucked in the pages of our Jesus Storybook Bible.

And deep in the belly of that little green bin... blank bibles. Each of our sons owns a leather bound bible, filled with nothing but blank pages. We bring them out and pray for the people groups throughout the world, who don't yet have a bible in their own tongue.


 And suddenly the world gets a little bigger than our kitchen nook.


But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)


We weren't called to dwell forever in the comfort of four walls.    We are called to the ends of the earth.  Made for the ends of the earth.  Given the power of the Holy Spirit, that we might go.  But it starts here... in our home, reaching out to our hometown, then one town over, and a little farther out still...  to the ends of the earth.

Glass houses are lovely as the light shines in.  But the light must shine out too.


We must see beyond our lovely homes, to that which is unlovely.  Those in need.  At the ends of the earth.  If we are ever to lead our children to their great commission!

This is Red Letter Truth... just waiting to spill like life blood all over blank pages.  But the life blood first spills from the heart of our home, to those Living in our midst.


From our Kitchens to the ends of the earth!


I am eager to share with you a ministry the boys and I are passionate about.  The Seed Company is the fundraising arm of Wycliff Bible Translators, working together to End Bible Poverty and bring the written, red-letter truth of God's great love to the farthest reaches of earth.

Living beyond our four walls is difficult with young ones, but The Seed Company makes it easy!  Click on this link, or the button in the side bar, then go to "find a project" with your children. Get out your globe, discover where they live and how to pronounce their name; what are their needs, then pray for them as a family, and consider giving to that specific people group.

It costs approximately $35 / verse to translate God's Word into a new language.  And so, back in our kitchen, for each $35 check we write, we add a verse to our Bibles too.

Join us, as we fill blank bibles.