What Women Want (a memoir giveaway)

By Emily T. Wierenga

 

Courtney Joseph

I was drinking twelve cups of coffee a day, addicted to sleeping pills, and only eating supper.

We were newlyweds; we’d been married under the trellis in my parents’ yard, my Dad, a reverend, officiating the ceremony and the flowers in my bouquet as fake as the smile on my face. I was terrified.

I didn’t want kids, I didn’t know how to make a home—my mother made homes, I lived in them. So my farm boy and I went on a three-week honeymoon to the Maritimes, to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and PEI, and flew home to basement suite where I put holes in the walls.

I put holes in the walls because I was so hungry. I didn’t do love well. I didn’t let anyone close, because my childhood was spent moving, from one place to the next, and we always had to look the part—the perfect preacher’s family part—and I turned anorexic at nine years old. Because starving myself was easier than feeling lonely.

And here was this man, sleeping in my bed, and I didn’t know how to let him in.

And one day he came home from work to find me crying because I hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t get the living room to look just right. We had purple couches from the thrift store and a borrowed coffee table and we lived in a basement suite. Trent took my face in his and said, “I’ll make supper. You rest.”

I nodded. “Thank you,” grabbed a bag of marshmallows, and disappeared into the office to do some painting.

After a while Trent called, “Suppertime!”

He’d made hamburgers and what he calls “fancy salad,” the kind where he grates carrots and chops onions even though they make him cry.

And I came out of that room with an empty marshmallow bag and white lips. I sat down at the dinner he’d made and said, “I’m sorry babes—I’m not really hungry.”

It was a silent meal with the sound of Trent’s fork and knife on his plate and this anorexic woman with the white lips.

I’d only meant to have one or two marshmallows but they’d filled a hole in me. And then they were gone.

And I wondered why he wasn’t, too.

How many of us settle for marshmallows when we’re actually craving food that will last?

How many of us, sisters, sit down with a pint of ice cream after a stressful day, or binge on Oreos after the kids go to bed? How many of us try diet after diet but end up filling on junk because we’re just so hungry?

I think of Jesus at the well, with the Samaritan woman. How he asked her for water—but then offered her Living Water in return. He offers us Living Bread—his body.

Because this is what we’re hungry for, isn’t it friends? A love so deep and long and wide and high it fills every crevice of our souls; a kind of love that would die for us, a kind that sings over us, a kind that walks through fire with us?

We are born longing for the kind of affection only a divine being can offer. We are born aching for the kind of fullness which comes from an everlasting love.

But it’s not a bag of marshmallows. It’s not fast fame or fleeting praise or accolades.

No, it’s a slow cooked meal and we need to wait, to be patient, as this is the kind of love prepared by a gentle pair of hands which feeds your soul.

Trent still makes me fancy salads. He still makes burgers and corn on the cob and I no longer eat marshmallows. Because I’ve tasted real food and there’s no turning back.

There’s no turning back from love.

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My memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look
, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away THREE copies today!

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 orderAtlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look
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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**I attempt to read cover to cover all books that are mentioned at WLW. I apologize that I was not able to finish reading this book before it was time to post this post therefore, this guest post is not an endorsement of the book – but I do love Emily’s writing and heart.

Books I’m Reading & A Giveaway: 5 Copies of You Are Loved!

Publishers send me a lot of books to review and I simply can’t read them all and review them –  BUT there are three honorable mentions, I must share with you! I really respect Crossway Publishing for putting out doctrinally sound books. These three books are solid, Biblically edifying books for women (and easy to slip into your purse to read on the go).

3 books

1.  Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman

2. True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacre

3.  Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals For the Family by Jessica Thompson

I also have a dear friend, Tricia Goyer, who has published over 35 books – {gasp – unbelievable right?)!  And so I must mention a few of her brand new books released this year as well:

Tricia Goyer's books

2 of these are fiction books and to be honest, I rarely read fiction unless I am reading out loud to the kids – but I love Tricia Goyer – so here are her recent releases: An Amish Garden, The Kissing Bridge and Plain Faith.

And finally, my real life friends – Angela Perritt and Sally Clarkson have teamed up to write a beautiful Bible Study!

Courtney Sally Ang

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Angela writes:

You are loved…

Because some days I need to be reminded of that truth and I have a feeling you do too. I believe we all have a longing deep inside our hearts to be loved and cherished completely for who we are…unconditionally.

Sally and I wrote You Are Loved with you, dear friend, in mind because we firmly believe that once you embrace God’s unchanging love for you and let that truth soak deep down into the core of your soul, you will never be the same. God’s love for you will change you from the inside out. Once you embrace His unconditional love, you will be able to live more freely, more securely and more passionately in life.

Angela has offered to giveaway 5 copies of her new book!  Hooray – thank you Angela!

Enter to win below!

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Walk with the King,

Courtney

Who is the Spiritual Leader in a Mismatched Marriage?

www.geodun.com

Lynn DonovanLynn is back for part 3 of our series:

Who Is a Spiritual Leader?

Our online community at www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com often tackles many of the unique and challenging areas of living in a spiritually mismatched union. One of the common struggles we face has to do with spiritual leadership.

The spiritual direction of our home is monumentally important. We all wrestle with how to handle this issue well. In my own marriage this was an area of great confusion for me. Many difficult questions troubled my mind, such as,

•          Do I wait for my husband to become a believer before setting the tone in our home for prayer and Bible reading?

•          If I take any initiative to teach my kids about faith, will my actions be perceived as disrespecting my husband?

•          Can I be the spiritual leader of our home and yet follow my husband’s lead in other areas of our marriage?

•          Will my kids listen to me if I’m not the head of the household?

•          Does leading spiritually make me the head of the household?

•          Am I up to the task of spiritual leadership all on my own?

Tell me that I haven’t been alone in this! If you, like I have been, are in the midst of this kind of confusion, today I want to set your feet on a path to freedom.

Many years ago I heard this statement:

If your husband is unwilling to lead spiritually or has abdicated his position as the spiritual leader of your home, then God expects you, the believing wife, to step into this role.

Upon hearing this single sentence, I felt the cloud of confusion lift from my soul, and freedom flooded my heart. I will add that if you are raising children as a single parent, God looks to you to step into this role as well. Somehow I guess I needed permission to become the leader for my kids, and it came with those words. What a relief. But how do we step into this role and do it well?

It begins with our motives. The effectiveness of our parenting and successful navigation of our marriage greatly increases when we consistently check our motives. I had to ask myself, “Does my desire for my husband to lead our home come from a place that is me-centered or Christ-centered?”

Let me be specific. Here are some of my thoughts from years past:

•          If only he would believe, he would help me get the kids ready for church.

•          My life would be so much easier if only he was a believer.

•          If he believed, I wouldn’t have to sit with each of the children tonight and pray with them. I wish he’d help.

•          Going to church alone is so embarrassing.

Okay, I know I’m not the only one to have had these kinds of thoughts. But there comes a time when we must move past ourselves and truly focus on what is Christlike. Motives born out of love and humility will move us to wake the kids on Sunday morning and take them to church, even if we must do it alone. Out of a loving heart, you can say to your husband, “Sweetie, watch the television without me for an hour. I’m going to go tuck the kids into bed and say bedtime prayers.”

There are many ways you can build respect for your man and still quietly lead your family closer to Christ. More than anything, I go back to the truth of 1 Peter 3:1: win them over without words. Win your kids, your husband, your friends, your neighbor and a world that is lost and broken. Win them over with your boundless, crazy, passionate, fervent, zealous and adoring love for Jesus. When you love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, over time it is irresistible to people. And that’s a promise.
~Not Alone, Lynn Donovan & Dineen Miller

CONVERSATION: Have you struggled, wondering do I lead my kids in faith or do I wait?

See you in the comments. Have an amazing day.

*****

Congratulations to Gina M – our winner of Monday’s giveaway (I emailed you)!

Here’s our second giveaway of the week –  1 copy of

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Not Alone: 
Trusting God to Help You Raise Godly Kids
in a Spiritually Mismatched Home.

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Thriving in a Spiritually Mismatched Marriage – Part 1 {& a Giveaway!}

www.geodun.com

 

Hello Family of Women Living Well!

Lynn Donovan

My name is Lynn Donovan and I’m joining your community this week while Courtney is vacationing. I met Courtney years ago as a sister blogger. She is the bomb! And I love her book. She and I connected a few months ago as I was reading her book and I asked her to read my recent book. We both have a heart filled with love for Jesus and for wives and moms.

So, I hope you will sit with me for a few minutes, a couple of days this week while she is away as I share a story that I pray leaves you filled with a fresh encounter with Jesus. Thank you for welcoming me to your House: Women Living Well.

My friends, my story is about a Prodigal child – me (Luke 15:11-31). I fled my childhood Sunday school days in my twenties. I left my loving Father for all the promises the world said were mine. I met my husband in these dark years and we fell in love. We were married and for the first three years everything was fine. But the world’s lure proved shallow, unkind and untrue. I heard my faithful Father calling in the distance and He wooed me.

I went running home into the arms of my Papa and was thrilled to once again have a relationship with God. But, I ran home dragging my unbelieving spouse behind me kicking and screaming all the way. To say that my husband was unhappy about this new “Man” in my life, was a serious understatement.

I am unequally yoked.

There are many women such as me who sit alone week after week in church. There are women who are married to men who say they believe and yet they are also like me, living in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

My journey has been a crazy adventure, filled with loneliness at times as my husband and I view life through two different world views. On this journey I’ve had to face fears over my children’s salvation. And attending church alone as well as wanting to be a “normal” couple and the most difficult, the rejection of my faith by my best friend on earth.

But don’t feel sad for me….  Because I serve the risen Savior and through His love and power, I have discovered that the unequally yoked can truly thrive while living with an unbeliever. We can grow in our faith, love and respect our spouse, raise our children to a vibrant faith, and walk in the Presence of the Most High.

Throughout this week I want to share what I’ve learned on this 22 year adventure. I will tell you that by the grace of God my husband is fully supportive of my ministry and he encourages me to help others who are also spiritually mismatched. I call that a “Way cool God thing.”

For today I want to leave you with a powerful scripture that changed everything about my marriage.

(Jesus) answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:30,31)

When you love God, His Son and the Spirit with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength you are transformed. Your mind is transformed and then disappointment and bitterness no longer has influence in your life. You discover an unending joy bubbles out of you, flowing onto your husband and your children. This kind of love transforms a heart, heals a body, restores a marriage, and leads little ones to faith.

I had to remove my eyes and expectations from my human husband. And place all of my hopes upon Christ. When I did this our marriage moved into THRIVING. My husband found freedom to discover God in his own way without my manipulation and I found my expectations were replaced by God explanations. I was transformed by the love of God.

It’s a miracle! Woo Hoo!!!!

Tomorrow I have another passage that will Blow Your Mind. It’s a promise that an ordinary woman, an ordinary mom, CAN change the atmosphere when she walks into a room.

I love you my friends. Have a triumphant day in His Presence. Remember:

A man can ignore a nagging wife, but he can't ignore the truth of a transformed life.

With love and affection, Hugs, Lynn
www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Jesus. Let Your Holy Presence reign in this House. Today I ask for a powerful anointing to fill each heart, each soul. Let Your Holy Word go out and change the world through ordinary women. Lord, let us be carriers of your love. Let us walk into our homes and because we are anointed with your Holy Spirit, we change the atmosphere. Let love flood our kitchens. Let our grace and goodness pour over our children in such a tangible way that they see Your eyes. This week Jesus there are many who will come to this house to read. Place upon them wisdom, healing, a fresh anointing of hope. Lord, let us be the ordinary women who bring faith, hope and love to our homes, our communities and to a world that is desperately in need of a Savior. In Your powerful name, Jesus. Amen.

CONVERSATION: Today, if you are unequally yoked or you know someone who is unequally yoked, leave me a quick comment and I will pray for you.

Also, enter to win a copy of my book, Winning Him Without Words below:

winning him

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Balancing Family & Ministry Webcast + Everyday Confetti Giveaway!

This is it – our final webcast replay of the series!  Grab a big pile of laundry to fold and enjoy this 40 minute webcast featuring Karen Ehman as our keynote speaker and Darlene (TimeWarpWife.com) and Ruth (TheBetterMom.com) on the couch as we discuss balancing family and ministry.

Session 7b

(if you cannot see this video – click here)

Karen is giving away TWO copies of her newly released book titled Everyday Confetti (co-authored with Glynnis Whitwer)

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Here’s what’s inside Everyday Confetti (isn’t the cover adorable!!!):

When a busy woman looks at her calendar and sees a birthday, holiday, or special occasion, she has the best intentions for bringing joy to her family and creating lasting memories. Then reality hits. Amidst demanding responsibilities and an overloaded schedule, when is she ever going to have time to plan the perfect celebration or find the creativity to make it special?

In this go-to guide, Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer give women the ideas and the motivation they need to make such occasions less daunting. They provide creative ideas and menu plans for

· Holidays
· Birthdays
· Special Events
· Everyday Occasions

Readers will even find suggestions for reaching out to others throughout the year through celebrations that are simple, doable, and stress-free.

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Have a wonderful weekend!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**Winners will be posted here and will receive an email after the giveaway ends.

Living Loved: When Life Is Hard

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a guest post from Renee Swope

Do you ever ask God why life has to be so hard? Why certain things happen, all in the same week?

I remember asking God lots of questions during what I call my “year of impossible.” A month after we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia, my mom was hospitalized with pulmonary embolisms, my dad had emergency quadruple bypass surgery, I had an abnormal mammogram that led to multiple biopsies and a close friend died of breast cancer – all within six months.

I remember thinking: “Why has all this happened? Why does life have to be so hard?

Can I be honest? When life is overwhelming, I sometimes feel abandoned and wonder where God is and why He isn’t helping me. And I have a feeling Gideon, a man who was called by God but overwhelmed by his circumstances, felt the same way after all he had been through with his enemies, the Midianites.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

Listen to how Gideon responded with lots of doubts and questions: “Pardon me, my lord…but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (Judg. 6:11–13)

So how did God answer Gideon’s questions? “The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’” (Judg. 6:14).

God didn’t answer Gideon’s “why” question. Instead God told him what role He was calling Gideon to play in what HE was about to do next.

I’m learning to embrace my unanswered “why is life so hard” questions, and recognize when life is hard I am more likely to ask for God’s help. And that is a good thing.

Tough times often precipitate movement toward God and help us depend on Him more than on ourselves.

God used Gideon’s “why” question to draw Gideon closer to Himself, by shifting Gideon’s focus from hard things that happened in his past to what God was about to do in his future. Sometimes God answers our prayers by calling us to be part of the solution to our problems.

Instead of changing our circumstances, often God uses our circumstances to change us by bringing us closer to Him, making us more like Him, and helping us find our confidence in Him!

Jesus, I get frustrated when life is hard and troubles abound. Yet I don’t want frustration to push me away from You. If my circumstances can’t change, use them to change me – by bringing me closer to You, making me more like You, and helping me find my confidence in You through the circumstances I’m in. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

When I say… My life is too hard.

God says… I am with you in the middle of these trials. I will not leave you or forsake you.

I will be with [you] in trouble, I will deliver [you] and honor [you]. (Ps. 91:15)

*Today’s post from Renee is a partial excerpt from her new A Confident Heart Devotional book. Used with permission from Revell Books.
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About Renee
Renee has been married for over 20 years to her husband and best friend, J.J, and she’s a mom of three. She and her family traveled to Ethiopia in 2009 to bring home their beautiful daughter at the age of 10 months. Renee is also a best-selling author, speaker and radio co-host with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and her family live in North Carolina where Renee has served in leadership on the staff of Proverbs 31 Ministries since 1995. You can find out more about Renee and her family at www.ReneeSwope.com.
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About Renee’s NEW Confident Heart Devotional:
Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Does self-doubt leave you feeling uncertain about your ability to be the woman, wife or mom God’s called you to be? Expanding on her life-changing book, A Confident Heartthat has over 100,000 copies in print, Renee Swope has written a 60-day devotional that will encourage, empower and equip you to live confidently in your God-given roles, relationships, and responsibilities! Each devotion ends with a “When I Say…God Says…” statement to match a Bible promise and a prayer to help guide your thoughts and emotions that day. Plus you’ll LOVE an easy-reference chart that includes all sixty ”When I Say…God Says…” statements for days when you just need a promise to hold onto!
 
Enter to WIN a signed copy TODAY!
Enter to win one of 2 copies I’m giving away of Renee’s new Confident Heart Devotional book by sharing in the comments: Share why you’d like to read the book, and let us know what friend you’d give it to, if you won 2 copies. 

The winner is Jenni G!!! Congratulations! I am emailing you now!

 
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ENTER the Let God Love You Contest
Find out how you can WIN a $50 gift card, 2 additional signed copies of Renee’s devotional book, and a beautiful 8×10 print from Emily Burger Designs at www.ReneeSwope.com

Valentine’s Video & Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl Giveaway!

Valentine's Day Special 5 Marriage Bloggers

I’m interrupting our regular schedule for the Book Club – for this Special Valentine’s Day Video and Giveaway!

This video was done by 5 of the ‘Top Christian Marriage Bloggers’ including:
Sheila from ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com,
Fawn from HappyWivesClub.com,
Ruth from TheBetterMom.com, and
Jennifer from UnveiledWife.com

So sit back and relax and enjoy this 10 minute video:

(if you cannot see the video - click here)

We all pin to a Pinterest Board together at “Inspiring Christian Wives” if you’d like to follow us there!

Next up – Singles (or mother’s and friends of singles) this giveaway is for you!!!!

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Paul Hendricks writes:

Remember what it was like?

As Valentine’s Day approached you wondered if a secret admirer would finally emerge from hiding. But other than a lonely carnation and chocolates from your mom (no offense mom!), you came up empty . . . again.

This Valentine’s Day, do you know a girl who aches to be in a relationship?

If so, I have just the gift for her. Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl shares my personal journey from neediness to freedom.

Thanks for sharing this gift with the girls in your life,

paula

Paula

Paula blogs for teen girls and women by day (onLiesYoungWomenBelieve.com and TrueWoman.com) and journals her adventures by night. Her first book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, released September 2013.

She has worked at Revive Our Hearts for nearly nine years, where she currently serve as Writing and Editorial Manager. Here are a few more God-stories of how I got where I am today.
I finished reading Paula’s book tonight and it was such a sweet, transparent, Christ-centered book.  Paula writes openly about her 28 years of ups and downs with guys and relationships.  Her heartaches pulled at my heart-strings and reminded me of those hard days of dating, waiting, and dreaming.  Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl is not a band-aid for your soul but a true healing balm as she points to true satisfaction found only in walking with the King.

 Paula is giving away FIVE Signed Copies to WLW readers {hooray!}!  Enter to win a copy for yourself, your daughter or a friend!

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Chime In:

Are you single?  I rarely hear from my single readers – but I just heard from one today via email and was so blessed to hear her heart!  I’m glad you are here. And just a side note, I read marriage and parenting books  back when I was a teen – long before I was a wife or mother. ;)

Are you married – these questions go with the video above:
What is one thing you love about marriage?
What has been your favorite date experience with your husband?
What is one piece of advice you would share with other wives?

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The Winner of the Kitchen Aid Mixer is…

The winner of the Kitchen Aid Mixer is…..

Carol Imler!

Congratulations!!!!

My publisher will be contacting you!

For those who did not win -

Enter the final giveaway –> here <– !

pottery barn giveaway 2

These giveaways are from my publisher, in celebration of my newly released book titled:

 Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

PS. Did you miss last night’s webcast – it is available for only 24 hours – so go now to WomenLivingWell.tv to view it!!!