Last week I inhaled Emily T. Wierenga’s Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look in my precious spare moments: riding in the car; in the bleachers during baseball practice; late at night while my house slept; and finally getting up early and reading in bed until I finished.

I messaged Emily immediately because I had to talk about the book. Although I planned to review it, she offered me a guest post and a giveaway copy and that’s even better. Leave a comment to win!

 

What My Mum Taught Me About Church (giveaway!)
By Emily T. Wierenga

“So, I lied,” my husband says, poking his head into the bathroom where I’m showering.

And I’m thinking five minutes honey, just five minutes without the kids or anyone, just five.

“I said we had 15 minutes until we have to leave for church,” he says, “but actually, we have three.”

This happens every Sunday. Somehow, without fail, I’m always behind and shoving boys into pants they grew out of overnight and trying to find an outfit that I didn’t wear last week only I know those things shouldn’t matter, so then I repent and that makes me even later, and then there’s makeup. Because you can’t go to church without makeup–someone might see who you really are, and some weeks we’re so tired we opt for BedSide Sabbath.

Which means, stay at home in our pajamas and eat popcorn and watch “Cheese Guys” as my boys call them, or Despicable Me, because God has called us to rest.

And maybe I’m a church-rebel because I’m a pastor’s daughter and was never allowed to be. Maybe I skip sometimes because I had to be on my death bed to skip it as a kid, and maybe I’ve realized that no amount of feeling tired will earn me any rewards in heaven.

But entering rest will.

And this is something Mum taught me when I took care of her for three years. Mum, who had brain cancer, and I moved home from Korea where my husband and I were teaching English. I moved home to live in my parents’ basement and make art on large pieces of canvas. I moved home because Mum was dying and she needed me and in spite of traveling the globe trying to find the God I said I believed in at eight, when my dad sprinkled water on me; the same God who saved me from anorexia at thirteen and then again at twenty-six, I didn’t really find him until I entered her room.

Mum’s bedroom, where she slept for hours on end, the crimson blanket across the window, the sheets smelling of urine, and when I sang to her in that room, songs like Blessed Be the Name and Better Is One Day and Amazing Grace, she would always sing with me, from somewhere deep. Her eyes closed. Her feet, moving.

After twenty years of being a pastor’s wife my Mum had finally found rest and when she awoke, no matter what day it was, she always thought it was Sunday. Her blue bag packed and ready by the door, filled with her Bible and her notebook and when Sunday would actually arrive, she’d often sleep right through it. We’d push her to the front of the church in her wheelchair, and she’d droop over and I’d cry because all she wanted was to be awake in time for church.

Mum’s better now. After eight years of brain cancer, she’s better.

I’m no longer anorexic either, and the doctors were wrong. I’ve had two babies, and they said I wouldn’t be able to have any, and that’s because God is bigger than all of our Sundays.

He’s bigger than our wildest mistakes, he’s bigger than our theologies and our hypocrisies, and he’s bigger than our church buildings. Big enough to chill with us in our pajamas while we watch Cheese Guys and eat popcorn.

I used to hate church, because I had to go. I love it now, because I choose to go. And that day Mum called Sunday, it’s a day of rest for me. A day when I find myself by her bed again, singing hymns with her and holding her hand.

A day of broken hallelujahs.

 

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including an upcoming 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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I am excited to give away a copy of my new memoir, ATLAS GIRL, today. Just leave a comment below to win. 

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I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl, today. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll receive The House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing the Story in Your Soul (which the above post was taken from) – 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 The Lulu Tree ~ preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. 

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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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Post image for Summer Reading List: Finding Spiritual Whitespace
This post is part of the “Finding Spiritual Whitespace Blog Tour.” To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

 

There’s something decadent about curling up with a good book, probably because as women we deny ourselves downtime, like a privilege we must earn. Surely that’s not just me.

Questioning the idea that it’s wrong to rest is one of my greatest takeaways from my friend Bonnie Gray’s new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest (affiliate link). Bonnie defines spiritual whitespace as rest for your soul; I need that.

If you’re a long-time reader here, you may remember Bonnie’s guest post The Day God Took My Picture. I was with Bonnie the day she found out she had an offer to publish her book, and now that I’ve read it, I truly understand how special our time was while taking her photograph.

Something unthinkable happened when Bonnie began to write: she experienced panic attacks, insomnia, and finally a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of her childhood. Instead of joy, this personal milestone spiraled Bonnie into months of anxiety triggered by writing her book.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Even if your childhood was free of the psychological trauma Bonnie experienced, there is something here for every woman.

My story is really every woman’s story. Because every woman has felt burned out and tired. Every woman longs to dream, to feed her soul and rest. Everyone longs to move beyond coping and surviving.

Yet we often put ourselves to the side, numbing the stillness by doing rather than by becoming vulnerable and real.

Part memoir, part self-help, packed with journal prompts, Finding Spiritual Whitespace encourages you to nurture your soul and draw closer to Jesus. This soul-rest is not a call to inactivity: whitespace categories include creativity, friendship, adventure, and soul-care. The Whitespace Challenge section at the end of the book contains practical ideas for awakening your soul to rest and reducing stress in your life.

[Email subscribers click here to watch the book trailer.]

Interestingly enough, my summer reads are calling me to analyze the ways we as parents affect and influence our children. I can’t wait to share my list with you. Hopefully you’ll find good books to cuddle up with, too.

Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista.com who wrote a book about her inspiring, heart-breaking journey to find rest, which garnered Publisher’s Weekly starred review. I’m taking the journey to find rest through this guidebook and invite you to read it too. You can get a copy HERE.

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July 2014 Desktop Calendar!

by Dawn Camp on July 1, 2014

in photography,wallpaper

Post image for July 2014 Desktop Calendar!

Where has this summer gone? Anyone else want to go back to May for a do-over? I took an early run yesterday before the heat set in (94° degrees forecasted for tomorrow—yuck!) and saw our day lilies in bloom: perfect for July’s desktop calendar.

The kids and I spent last week in Alabama for singing school, and our day lilies and rose of Sharon arrived just in time for our return. I love perennials that just keep on giving.

I photographed these in morning bloom, fresh from the rain. I’ve owned my macro lens more than a year and it still challenges me, but I’m happy with the depth of field here. I hope these perky orange blooms brighten your desktop this month!

Download July’s Desktop Calendar

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A New Season at (in)courage

July 1, 2014
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Sorry I’m late sharing my monthly (in)courage post with you—my kids and I spent last week in Alabama at singing school. As the mother of two newly engaged sons, I’m entering a new season in life and I covet your advice, whether from the point-of-view of mother-in-law or daughter-in-law. Please click over to my post, A […]

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Mary & Martha’s Semi-Annual Sale!

June 30, 2014

Mary & Martha’s Semi-Annual Summer Sale is here with items discounted up to 75% off of retail value! There are four full pages of sale items here with links to featured items. Click on an image to see it enlarged. To see the full sale, go to my Mary & Martha site and click Shop. There’s a blue […]

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June 2014 Desktop Calendar

May 31, 2014
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Our family spent last weekend in Oxford, Mississippi, where we visited Rowan Oak, the home of American writer William Faulkner. This flowering bush grows on the grounds and although I’m not sure what it is, I think it’s been there for some time. Do you know its name?  I pray this calendar blesses your socks off […]

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Secret Places

May 21, 2014

Sometimes when I look through my camera, I think God shows me secret places: reflections in raindrops; the veins of a leaf; pollen on the antennae of a bee; beams of light that skim branches and illuminate honeysuckle on the vine; an insect’s shadow as it crawls across a leaf above me. Will another human […]

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If Your Mother’s Day was a Fail

May 17, 2014

It’s been almost a week since Mother’s Day and advertisers have shifted the focus to fathers. So, how did you fare? Was the day fabulous or a fail? Mother’s Day can be rough. Don’t let the snapshots of cards and flowers and big smiles on Facebook fool you. It’s hard for a day surrounded by so much hype […]

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Sister, You are Marked Today at (in)courage

May 16, 2014
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John chapter 13 tells the story of the last supper, when Jesus sat down with the disciples to prepare them for what was to come: His betrayal; His crucifixion; His glorification. Although this shouldn’t have been a surprise—He’d told them before—they’d never truly understood or accepted His fate or purpose here. They expected their Messiah […]

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