About the Author

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, and the author of six books including the new memoir "Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose" (Baker Books, 2015). Proceeds from Emily’s books benefit her non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta,...

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

    • Thank you for being so honest–for saying things as they really are and not glossing over them. You are correct to say forgiveness cannot happen without going back to take a closer look at what actually happened. Then, only God can work in me to forgive.

  1. Emily,
    Your story really resonated with me…fortunately I came to understand that my father tried his best before he passed away. I know many readers can identify, to some degree, with your story. It is a heavy burden that our earthly fathers bear – to be our first introduction to what a “father” is all about. I now see that my Heavenly Father is so much more than what our earthly fathers can be and what a gift that is. I’m now basking in my Heavenly Father’s love…thanks for a beautifully honest post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • I love that you are now basking in your Heavenly Father’s love, Bev. And that you knew your earthly father tried his best. It’s a peaceful place to come to, isn’t it? What a blessing! e.

  2. “it was easier not to eat than to feel” hasn’t been exactly how things have been for me, but I relate so much to the idea that so many hard things seem easier than feeling.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story….. I look forward to reading your book, whether I win it or buy it! 🙂

  4. The writing is riveting. I was one of the VERY lucky girls to have the perfect father. I miss him every day.

    • oh Ellen–I love that you had such a good relationship with your father, and I’m SO sorry for his passing… may Abba fill in the void, sister. Love to you, e.

  5. dear Emily, a number of years ago I read the story how God gave you a son, just recently, I found that story again, when I most needed to hear that He keeps His promises and resurrects dead and lost dreams.

    Thank you for this post, and reminding us of the love of our Father.

  6. Just found your blog this week. I have sad places in my heart that need to heal and your words are comforting as I’m on my journey to wholeness. Thank you.

  7. Even though my father was physically living in the same house, he was really an absent father and did not do anything with me. When I was a teenager he started spending more and more time at a neighbor’s house then with my mom and myself. It was hard for me at first to think of God as a loving Father, someone who really cared about me. It took a long time and counseling with my pastor to realize that God did love me and I didn’t have to earn it. Thank you for your post today. I look forward to reading your book. Karen

    • Karen, I ache for that little girl who wondered why her father didn’t want to spend time with her. May Abba meet that little girl and hold her close and reassure her that He was there the whole time, and will never leave or forsake her. Bless you, e.

  8. My story is different, but the result is the same…..I am just learning to be able to call God “father” and actually mean it.

    I can’t wait to read your book!

  9. my father did his best, and we are working on our relationship
    it was my mother who left
    thank you for your honesty and transparency

    • oh sister. I’m so sorry for that mother-ache… thank you for sharing, and I love that you and your father are working on your relationship. Bless you, e.

  10. This brought me to tears. I live with a legacy of difficult relationships between parent and firstborn. It’s always been hard for me to swallow the idea of God as our father.

    • Teish, may our Abba’s presence be so very near to you, and His promises — may they ring true. He delights in you sister, and sings over you, and quiets you with his love. Ephesians 3:17-19

  11. Your writing is lovely, and resonates with me. I would love a copy of the book, thank you for sharing.

  12. The more I hear about your story, Emily, the more I want to read it. Having an uninvolved dad right under my same childhood roof prompted me to really search for what it meant to call God “Father.” I’m eager to read your book.

  13. I always say, especially now that my own Father has passed, we have a heavenly Father. He loves us all unconditionally. Mortal Fathers will never be perfect. They can try to be but will always make mistakes. I’ve seen many Fathers try to show their love and ministry can be so involved that you feel cheated. However, in his quest to put God first, he probably didn’t even know how it was hurting you at the time. Thank you for this glimpse into your heart and healing. Good luck with your book!

    • Yes, that’s right Angie… my father thought he was loving me well by doing his job well… we’re all so human and broken and all of us, in need of grace. Bless you! e.

  14. Dear Emily,
    This touched me in parts of my heart I thought were healed over. I have never had trouble with the idea of God as my Father – but I have always struggled with the idea of my father as daddy. He was never that to us, never near to us , and he never apologised – perhaps he never saw the need. And so I made it my business to forgive him. Daily – hourly if need be – forgiving him for the hurt. Choosing forgiveness doesn’t always cure the hurt. And there is still hurt. But thank you for reminding me once again of my true Father and his glorious, beautiful love.
    God bless you and your ministry,
    Esther

  15. I sit here fighting back tears. Oh how I feel the words you’ve written and how deep inside the pain lingers. I too had a father who was more interested in what he was doing than what we were doing. I promised myself I would never marry a man like that. Yet somehow, I find myself holding back the tears for my own children’s sake rather than mine. My husband has become the same and there is nothing I can say or do to change it except pray. Praying that he may find his heavenly father as well.

    • my dear Beth… I’m joining you in praying. This brought tears to my eyes. Sister, no one is beyond God’s redemption… He has a plan. Keep leaning on Him, keep trusting Him…

  16. Emily,
    Thank you for sharing . . . I grew up loved by a Godly Dad however, that is where the story ends as I married a man who professed to be “godly”…served in the church – so respected by leaders – while brutalizing us at home in every way.
    I did divorce this man after 34 yrs. . .he estranged himself from his daughters (his life pattern) and never admitted guilt and, of course, no attempt to right things (he took his own life this year).
    The scars my two daughters bear as adults are overwhelmingly painful for them as well as the struggle with their faith and trusting God as Father.
    Forgiveness is necessary – I have and my girls will eventually and be able to trust their Daddy God.
    Ours is not a unique story – so many many suffer this way.
    GOD IS FAITHFUL through the tears and pain and does restore and brings joy and healing.
    Blessings,
    Connie

    • oh Connie, this breaks me … and yet I know, so many similar stories, so many living with someon wearing a similar facade. Oh Father, have mercy on us… and Lord, would you heal Connie’s daughters and restore their faith in you? In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. e.

  17. Ugh….my throat is down in my stomach just reading the excerpt of this book…how touching to the soul and heart-wrenching all at the same time. God helps us in our ministries and in our families to not forget those you have entrusted to us for such a short time…I pray we love them well and show them Jesus and the loving Father through the way we love them and you, God, love us. Oh help us!

    I have struggled with this…busyness in ministry and life and not slowing down, yet God has been gracious and has shown me through so many avenues the importance of this so I pray continually and yield again and again to love my children more than the ministry…..they are my ministry and they are those entrusted to me!

    Thank you for this reminder! Hugs and love!

    • Rachel, I TOTALLY understand the temptation to put ministry before family–I battle it all the time too. It is so much easier to understand my Dad now that I’m a parent–it’s hard to find a balance and yet, we must, for the sake of our little ones, for whom we are the image of Christ. Love to you, e.

  18. Mine was like yours, I know he tried. But it’s still hard to call God “father” and not feel all the baggage of that title. I’m sure He did it on purpose…He takes for Himself a title with which He knows most of us have primal issues. He invites the anger, tears, and hurt, He wants us to engage with Him. Which is a good idea…but I kinda wish He’d named Himself just “Lord”and left it at that. It would have been easier.

  19. “You can’t become healed until your revisit the past”. -Powerful, and I know this to be true. Thank you for your post on this. My story is not the same, but so much of what you said resonates. I’m almost 35 years old and have only just begun to learn to trust God, and it is hard. My father wasn’t always there for me, even though I knew he loved me and still does, he was emotionally absent and still can be. He tries harder now. I feel choices I made in life have been a direct result of the 9 year old girl watching a tear shed down her father’s eyes, as her mom was scuttering out in the background packing our things to leave him. I’ve often heard of how people can tend to relate their personal relationship with God the Father to their earthly father. I am slowly seeing this in myself. I believe as I do a lot of soul searching and seeking Him, he’s revealing these things to me. Because in order to move forward and find my place, I need to deal with the things of my past and heal from them. It’s hard, but I’m learning to be brave and transparent about it. It’s a struggle and there’s still so much I am learning about myself, but thanks be to Him who has never given up on me.

    • oh Melanie. How I ache for that nine-year-old girl… AND for her father and mother too… oh. This world is so hard. How I long for all of us to find our way home…

  20. Emily: Thank you for your transparency and honesty. Your story sounds similar to mine. I never developed an eating disorder, but I did have the perfectionism problem and could have easily slipped into anorexia because of constant messaging that I wasn’t attractive, was too fat, etc. I am still fighting the need for approval for my intelligence and work ethic. I’m hoping to get a nonprofit going that will help women facing similar struggles who have reached crisis situations and need legal and spiritual help. I think your book will be a valuable asset to my mission. Thanks for sharing.

    Mary

    • Wow, Mary, I LOVE your vision for a non-profit although hate that you had to go through so much pain… may you KNOW without a shadow of a doubt your worth in HIM. I also wanted to share about FINDINGbalance with you; it’s a Christian non-profit started by my friend Constance Rhodes for those desiring freedom from EDs: http://www.findingbalance.com. Bless you, e.

  21. I know how blessed I am to have had (and have) a father who cares. It makes God’s love for me even more meaningful, as I know that he loves me more than my earthly father ever could (and my picture of that earthly love is a good and abundant one). How wonderful!

  22. I’m headed out on the road for a month next week–Michigan, then New Zealand, then Alabama before I’m back to my home. I downloaded your book last night on my kindle, and I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for writing, Em.

    • Well, thank you sister–and I love that you’re going to New Zealand! That’s my dream destination. One day! Grateful to be going with you in some form or another 🙂 Bless you, e.

  23. So timely for us today…my girls “father” walked out on us 10 years ago today. They are now 18 and 15.

  24. Thank you for sharing your story to us today. Would love to read the book. GOD Bless You.

  25. Thank you for sharing this, Emily. My situation is different, but I still identify with the hurting little girl inside. I struggle a lot to trust God as a tender, loving Daddy, probably because of my earthly dad being a verbal and sexual abuser. But God is so patient with me, and He leads me on step by step.

  26. Emily,
    Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel. Book or no book, this spoke to me today in the places that still hurt.

  27. it hurts my heart to read the pain of others…thank you for your words…for coming out of it a better person….and trying to help others who feel the same as you. I hope my daughters grow up less painful and hopefully in a better place than some of us others who struggled out of.

  28. Emily~

    As a fellow “e.” I can certainly relate to you. 🙂 Although my story has been different, I am also a girl and can understand the emotions you feel. Thanks for giving me the chance to relate. Thank you for sharing today!

  29. The excerpts I’ve read of your book, sweet Emily, are absolutely amazing! (I can’t wait to write about it! 🙂 Your writing always lifts, inspired and encourages me. Your stories and your life are such a beautiful testimony to our infinite God! Blessings, sweet friend!

  30. Thank you. This is something so many people need to hear. I will need to pick up a copy of your book.

  31. Just finishes reading the excerpt…found you “coincidently” you know when God’s being anonymous…and I’m still blurry from the tears. Thanks. Hope i get a copy… someway…somehow…THANK YOU. I am slowly healing…and your words reassure me that I will be healed. XO.

  32. Your words really hit home to me Emily. I too am a Pastor’s daughter who felt invisible to my father, always taking a backseat not only to the church but to my older sister who seemed to inherit more of his prophetic gift of teaching and preaching.
    I was a quiet unexpected second daughter who always seemed in the shadow. There is a longer story in all that but I would rather focus on what God is doing now!
    I live in Lethbridge, AB and would LOVE to come visit and chat with you sometime. I am also a writer who desires to share God’s goodness in my redemptive story.
    The words of your book resonated deep within me.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and becoming vulnerable for others.
    Debbie

    • oh Debbie, you sound like a kindred spirit. May our Abba reassure you that you were created for Him alone and that He delights in you sister. Bless you, e.

  33. Wow! This book sounds honest and I know that is hard to be, but it will help me learn how to heal.
    Thanks for writing it.

  34. “You can’t become healed until you revisit the past. All of those aching, pulsing places.” JUST WHAT I WAS (TRYING TO) DEALING WITH TODAY. Hugely unsuccessfully. How these hurts tap into deep, deep places. Loved the excerpt. Loved it.

    • Angie, keep trying sister–one of these days, you won’t need to visit the past anymore. It will be all about stepping into today. Love to you. e.

  35. Your words bring me to tears, Emily, because your story sounds so much like my own. I wish my strength and faith came close to yours, but when the pain of my past haunts me, I find it hard to call upon God my father. I seem to struggle to find him. Thank you for your memoir – I’m so looking forward to reading it 🙂

    • My dear Claire, I had no idea our stories overlapped like this… oh girl, my faith and strength are SO often weak. I struggle a lot. We’re in this together sister. Love to you…

  36. Oh yes, very absent from my life. But God’s grace and the fervent prayers of my Mother & Grandmother, I would’ve kept running. But I stopped, finally stopped, and the prodigal daughter left the pig sty and ran home. Restored. Redeemed. Beautiful post.

  37. You are so right. This earthly house is such a lonely place and we are all looking for our true home and the father who waits there for us.
    Please enter me in your book giveaway.
    Thank you

  38. I’d love to read this book! My mother suffered from eating his orders when I was growing up bad it was so hard to watch, and hard to watch now as her body still suffers from the effects. I was also the little girl who tried to paint perfect pictures for my sometimes artist Dad, and wrote short stories and poems to try to get their praise. Funny how it all works out. 🙂

  39. This is the second time I’m entering a give-away for Atlas Girl. I would love to win a copy. You tell your story with such poise and bravery, and I am so deeply appreciative for the grace.

  40. This is just beautiful — the excerpt makes me want to read more. I love the line about missing home even when you lived there – even when you aren’t sure where home really is as a military family. If I explained it all this post would be way to long, — but thank you for your vulnerability, for your prose. I look forward to the rest of the book!

    • Hi friend, I think life in a ministry-family often reflects life in a military family, and vice versa… always feeling a bit lost, and overlooked… I am grateful for your story. Bless you sister. e.

  41. Love this post. There are so many in this world who have lived with ‘absent’ fathers. Sometimes those very fathers are struggling to do the best that they can and yet still miss the boat on how very much their very presence means to their wife and kids. I hope that God will take your book and use it to bring about hope, healing and reconciliation to many. But mostly, I pray that God will be glorified as many read and absorb the words of your testimony.
    blessings,
    Gay Idle@CaptiveHeart

    • I will never forget our glasses of wine and us talking about shepherding and praying together in the hotel, dear sister Holley. You inspire me. Love, e.

  42. What a beautiful post. I am very fortunate to have a father who has always shown me how very much he loves me. I’m glad you now know how your father loves you.

  43. Emily,

    My dad passed away on July 11. There were so many wonderful things about him, and so many things that were hard. He gave the best he knew how, but he was hurtful, condescending, and often mean. I love God, and see Him as my Heavenly Father. I know He loves me, but it is hard for me to imagine God as my Father…because Daddy was the opposite of who God is. This week, since Daddy passed away, I’ve though about how I need to change my view of God as my Father. I’m not quite sure how, but I look forward to reading your book and gaining insight from someone who understands the way our earthly fathers cloud the Truth.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Debbie

    • oh Debbie, SO hard… yet, I love that you are longing to draw closer to the truth about Abba. That is HUGE. Bless you on this journey friend, into the Heavenly Father’s heart …

  44. Emily, you put all the feelings I’ve ever felt into words I didn’t know how. It’s not only difficult to call Him Father, but to think of Him as one. It’s so incredibly hard and I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to let Him be a Father to me. I don’t know how. Thank you for writing this. I needed it.

    • oh Kelsi, God knows–he really knows. He knows every detail of your story and He longs to meet you right where you are, no strings attached. May His love overwhelm you sister. XOXO

  45. Yes, yes! You have so eloquently put into words the ache I feel surrounding the word and meaning behind “Father”. Thank you for so bravely putting your hurt and redemption into words.

  46. I don’t know what drew me here to read your writing and then the excerpt from your book but I was most intrigued. I am very choosy about what books I read but I will definitely read Atlas Girl. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  47. Oh I so love this idea of coming home. Even though I grew up in a loving home, it is still pulls at me. We were created to long for our heavenly home. So beautiful, Emily.

  48. I can’t wait to read this book! Such a timely word for me at this moment in my life. Forgiveness and grace God has been talking to me a lot about lately…. Thank you for being open and transparent and vulnerable like Christ.

  49. I just wanted my dad to see me — really see me. I wanted him to say I was a good girl and it wasn’t my fault. I wanted him to keep me safe. But, he was busy– he didn’t know. I didn’t tell him.

  50. My dad – my hero – left when I was 10 and I always wondered why I wasn’t enough to make him stick around. You nailed it. It took years, but I finally discovered and embraced the perfect love of God the Father. Thanks for your transparency. I’m sorry to hear of your past suffering but celebrate your freedom!

  51. Beautifully written Emily.
    Thanks for always being so encouraging through sharing so honestly your own experiences!
    Thanks also for the chance to win a copy of Atlas Girl!
    All the best.
    Bri. x

  52. Am I taking out my Dad on my Lord? Does the rage of rejection I experience with my earthly father distance me from my heavenly Father? Is my distrust misplaced? Where is the love?

  53. It is amazing how complex our little girl hearts are – even tho’ our bodies grow aged, that little girl is still tucked inside- thank you for these powerful words!! Even though I had a very godly daddy – I had my own issues-still do 🙂 , but our God is GREAT!!!!

  54. Thank you so much for your words. They bring comfort in a sometimes harsh world. Just know God has given you a beautiful gift. The gift to reach hearts and make each one feel you (and he) are speaking to them individually. What a precious heart you have! I pray for your peace and prosperity.

  55. Thank you for sharing your heart. You see I struggle with the absent mother and my father has tried . my mother was present physically but never emotionally or spiritually. So when it came to calling God my Father I knew that I couldn’t . I had done too much in my life for him to forgive. I had to be strong fornmy family for my father for myself. I couldnt let others see me hurt and I surely couldn’t depend on a God I didn’t see. But you know what I’m learning that in the end absent or not that God is always there. That regardless of who our earthly parents are that God is loving care accepting wanting a relationship with me and not his work at the office. He wants me. That is something i am learning to accept and trust. So thank you for being honest. Its helping others of us to start to heal our hearts.

  56. To be honest, your book kinda scares me. But maybe, just maybe this is what God intended. In God’s love, sheila

  57. I thank God for your beautiful heart. God met me at death’s door as well. I’ve met so many whose ability to receive God’s love and in turn love others, is impaired by father and mother wounds. It “incourages” me to see the healing and work of those He has called out of that pain. Thank you for sharing in obedience. May He continually be lifted up.

  58. Thank you for this article…it really touched me. I was just looking at a picture of myself when I was about two last night, and telling my husband, “you would think that my father would have just beamed about me, I wasn’t ugly or anything. But he didn’t, I don’t remember sitting in his lap or anything.” Your article helped me, in knowing that he probably did try the best he knew how, especially being raised by a mother who showed no affection. Thank you again.

  59. I loved this article. It spoke right to where I’ve been a thousand times over. Looking forward to your book.

  60. Emily, I just finished your book!! I wondered how you would write about your parents. I felt you were truthful and honoured them as well. I felt like having a cup of tea with your mom:). Reading your journey made me very emotional at times as I felt your loneliness and pain. Yes #AlasGirl is a great resource for girls ( and guys), and all parents . We would like to put it on our Facebook page at Freedom Session ( a healing discipleship program).
    Thanks so much Emily, blessings over you!
    Love Bonnie

    • Wow, Bonnie, I would be honored if you would share about #AtlasGirl at Freedom Session! Thank you SO much, and it means the world that you felt I was truthful and honoring towards my parents. That just made my day. And Mum would love to have a cuppa tea with you as well 🙂 Bless you sister! e.

  61. Emily,

    Growing up I missed home even when I was there, which was most of the time. My parents were older and not into social gatherings–even church. Basically it was get up go to school, come home finish home work, eat, watch TV and bed. Weekends were mow yard, clean house, watch TV, etc. I didn’t have many, if any, friends as I was quite shy and my sisters all lived out of state.

    I can truly relate to your circumstances. I pray this book helps many many people!

    Blessings for writing!!

  62. So glad you came back home to your Heavenly Father, Emily! And thank you for sharing your journey –

  63. I just found your blog and am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the chance to win your book!

  64. I had a wonderful father. The kind of dad I wished everyone could have had. He was sweet, kind, and above all the best listener. He always believed that the best advice was the kind you keep to yourself. People need to express feelings and concerns, they don’t want you to solve their problems.
    God took my father on July24,2011. The world is not a better place without him. We still are mourning his loss.
    I will NEVER call God father. I will not worship or step foot in church! I believe God enjoys watching our pain. So many suffer here, why?
    I know this is the circle, however, my dad wasn’t old.
    I know many of you have this blind faith. I hope its working for you….

  65. This is very touching and I can relate. Thank you for telling your story. I would really like to win this book. love and prayers Melody

    i