It’s Throwback Thursday wherever you lurk online. And I just finished reading Atlas Girl. (honestly this happened last week, it’s been sitting in my drafts folder that long unfinished- because, “life happened” again)
Atlas Girl (click to purchase) is a new book/memoir by my friend Emily Wierenga.
The book that struck heart-cords and took me back to my own journey of longing and looking for love. Of emotions eclipsing reality, and typical childhood desperation to find validation.
And sadly for me, a journey through unbelief in love even when it was true and demonstrated due to acute awareness of self and my flaws.
Although our growing up lives were worlds apart-Emily a missionary’s kid experiencing broad travel adventures, living on faith and hope, and I, a firstborn dairy farmer’s daughter barely ever leaving home except for attending school . (Because you know, calves need to eat, cows need milking and cleaning up after. Every. Single. Day.)
Of the dozen children, the first five of us were girls, and we worked “like a brother”. I always wished I had an older one. You know, for a little reprieve. And it’s not that I didn’t love the farm, it was just the never-ending, daily that would wear on us. It wears on every diary farmer, of that I’m sure.
I am the one with the uber-cool striped pants. 🙂 And Yes, besides feeding, cleaning, and milking cows, baling and stacking hay, and a myriad of other farm-chores, I babysat a lot too.
Come to think of it, farming is a lot like mothering. You love it, but it is tiring and you just want granny to offer to take your kids sometimes.
I had a wonderful childhood, if children only ever had to be in a family and learn their place, but there was a whole wide world out there, and finding my place was difficult. I struggled with feeling accepted by my peers, and placed blame on perceived flaws. Usually based on how I looked or how I performed.
The way our minds reason as children is not surprising. We rely on our experience, observation, feelings and people. Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to either polish our theories on our own, or we transform the patterns we lived by as children with God.
Freedom, joy and peace for me has come through the counsel of God through His word and with His people sowing truth into my life.
In order to see truth, I needed a much broader perspective than my introverted soul. God sees the whole picture and reveals progressively as much as we need or can handle. Other people have limited scope, but in the abundance of counselors there is wisdom. Proverbs 11:14
Seeing truth heals our hearts and sets us free from false conclusions. But solidifying a soul’s belief in unconditional love comes from experiencing God’s love by way of His unearned gifts.
First there’s the spectacular gift of the cross. The mercy of Jesus freely pardoning my sins. This should be enough for anyone to fall to their knees in humble gratitude, and rise up with great dignity, but it’s most often not the case -complex (and slow-to-learn) creatures that we are.
Then there are daily God-given gifts of family and friendships. Of healing, provision, answered prayer, continued mercy for our failures . . . beauty, fragrance, life . . .
And most recently, some of my childhood dreams -fulfilled.
Through all of Emily’s traveling and searching for love, in her book, Atlas Girl, she ultimately finds Love at home.
Traveling was always on my ‘dream list’, and after my farming life, getting married young, having children, and the ensuing cost of living, travel continued to remain a dream.
Until my first-ever flight in the fall of 2003 when D and I decided we needed to just do it when the kids were 11 & 14. He let me pick the destination -and we flew into Boston in the fall, toured New Hampshire for a week, and paid for with a credit card.
My travel-thirst increased. But our means did not.
Until a few years ago, after the economy turned south (true story!), D’s job took him ‘on the road’ with free airline tickets every month for marriage maintenance…and when he was working in Florida, Montana, and North Dakota, I was treated to more than a dozen round trips, and my heart soared in the clouds.
I was romanced by God (and my husband) month after beautiful month.
We watched the sun set over the ocean and from mountain tops. We took bike rides along ocean beaches, through Florida fields, and round Montana mountains. We dined at fancy restaurants and had salads at Ruby Tuesday more times than I can count. I spent my days away from home (usually 10 days each month) writing, reading, running, and sunning by the creek. I met blogging friends for lunch or coffee, and met new people in coffee shops, and campgrounds.
All of that intoxicating romance by God expanded my view and perspective of life and love and beauty exponentially.
This unmerited gift of travel, my dream fulfilled unexpectedly spoke volumes of truth to me.
Love is ALWAYS and ONLY a free gift of God, and any effort on my part to make myself lovable reeks of pride and is ultimately futile.
It seems from opposite directions, both Emily and I arrived at the same destination: Pure and perfect love is found in the heart of God. This is where we all long to live and most of us can sing the song, “God bless the broken road that led me straight to You.”
No doubt your own heart will be stirred and you will reflect on your own story as you read Atlas Girl and Emily’s tender way with words. And if you purchase the book, your dollars will go to benefit The Lulu Tree, a ministry that Emily founded “Preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.”
Hop over to the Emily’s #AtlasGirl blog for more info and links to purchase the book.