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I met God in a mental hospital

I am the only preacher’s kid in the psych ward.

Eleven years old, and my parents have admitted me into a mental hospital and I am curled up on the bed in my green gown counting my ribs, feeling the wind in my chest, my stomach growling like the night Mum snuck into my bed to hold me, because I wouldn’t let her during the day, and that’s when she’d stifled a scream because her daughter was all bone.

Someone is muttering down the hall, and I curl tighter, staring at the blank wall.

No one likes a fat preacher’s kid.

I’d stopped eating at nine years old.

It wouldn’t be the first time my parents would stick me in a hospital and tell me to eat. The next time I’d be 13 and dying. Sixty pounds and dying. This time I am eighty pounds and still too much alive.

But religion feels dead, stuck up there on a cross in the church where my Dad preaches, Sunday after Sunday, me sitting there in my thick leotards planning quietly what to eat for the next week, and then Dad shakes people’s hands for hours and everyone wears that same Cheshire cat smile which peels off the moment the cars peel out of the parking lot.

But sometimes I can still see Him.

And lying there on those white sheets staring at the white walls of the psychiatric ward I can still smell him.


He smells like the rain on the red roads of Africa.


I’d met God as a little girl in the Congo and Nigeria, standing behind a wire fence staring at my neighbors with the night skin and the real kind of smiles, the kind which leap like exclamation marks.

And these people sang while they hung up their bright colored fabrics on the line and they washed their dishes in buckets of soapy water out in the sun, the same kind of buckets my brother and I would bathe in, watching the lizards scurry under the house.

There was dancing, there were women’s hips swaying even as they cooked their supper over a fire and there were no steeples or cars peeling out of parking lots.

There was just a red dirt road and a lot of hard working people.

I lie there on that white bed missing Him.

My Mum comes to the door with a brown paper bag, pulls out a mug which says “I Love you Beary, Beary Much,” and hands it to me.

I look at her, this woman who’s stuck me in a psych ward and then left to spend the day with the family at a theme park, and I scream, “I don’t want your presents!”

She shakes her head. “It’s not from me—it’s from your brother,” and I hear him shuffling outside the door.

I walk to the door in my green gown and he is standing there with his hands in his pockets, my little brother. Girls and boys wandering the halls, all with mental illnesses like me, and I look at this boy who’d sat in the bucket in the hot African sun with me, and I say, “I’m so sorry Keith. I love it, I’m so sorry.”

He looks down.

His hands in his pockets and I meet God there in the mental hospital.

I find God in my brother and his bear mug.

He walks away.

I walk back to bed.

Crawl back into the sheets.

The mug in my hands, and me, counting my ribs.

A Note from Emily

atlastgirlcoverMy memoir, Atlas Girl, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away five copies today to Art of Simple readers!

Just leave a comment below to win.

I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders a copy of Atlas Girl. Just order here, and send a receipt to, 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.

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.

This giveaway will end Friday night, July 18, 2014, and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter. I hope you win!

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Jennifer

    I just heard about Atlas Girl from Moneysavingmom’s monthly reading list and was intrigued but now I really want to read it! I’d love to win a copy.

    • emily wierenga

      Thanks Jennifer! Bless you! e.

  2. joanna

    Sounds truly inspiring. Hope to win it!

  3. Carrie

    I just teared up a little reading the brief introduction and want to know your story. I hope I win a copy of your book! Thanks for the opportunity…

    and I’m so very happy you found God wherever and under whatever circumstance. He loves you so very, very much and you have an important story to share’ thank you for being brave enough!

    • emily wierenga

      Wow, Carrie, this encouraged me SO much tonight! Thank you sister!

  4. Sarah M

    This was very powerful, I was surprised to see it as part of a book–I’m definitely going to read it. Thanks for the opportunity.
    Sarah M

  5. Margaret Petry

    Sounds fascinating! I hope I win. 🙂

  6. Amanda

    I have been liking forward to reading this! Would love to win 🙂

  7. the

    How touching! Would love to read more of the book too!

  8. Vicki

    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  9. Steph

    Thanks for sharing. I’d love to read the book.

  10. Beth Anne

    Beautiful. I would love to read this.

  11. Becca

    I have been wanting to get this book! 🙂 I hope I win!

  12. ~va~

    The more of your story I hear, Emily, the more hooked I am!

    • emily wierenga

      Wow, thank you friend! Grateful for the encouragement. Bless you, e.

  13. Laura

    I see that red dirt road but instead of red it is dulled yellow and located in Nicaragua.
    the smiles alight on faces with dusty light brown hair that won’t get darker because of poor nutrition. I enjoyed how that excerpt was written. Of course I would love to read more.

    • emily wierenga

      oh girl. I LOVE your heart sister… your Africa-beating heart… bless you! e.

  14. Danielle

    I find myself following your trail all around the internet. THank you for sharing your intimate spaces with us. Truly profound and touching. I would LOVE to read your memoir. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

    • emily wierenga

      oh Danielle, thank you! I love that you are “following my trail” 🙂 and that we are walking this journey together sister. Bless you, e.

  15. Danielle

    Wow. Just. Wow. I would be so humbled to be able to win and read this book.

  16. Heather

    I would love to win your book. thank you.

  17. Lisa Evanoff

    You have me hooked…hope I win

  18. Dean

    Sounds like an incredible story. Would love to win!

  19. Tara Vines

    Looks like a wonderful book!

  20. Kimberly

    I keep hearing wonderful things about this book. I would so love to win a copy. Thank you for this generous giveaway!

    • emily wierenga

      I’m grateful and humbled, Kimberly. Bless you sister. e.

  21. Lucy

    Congrats on getting it published! I’d love to win a copy.

  22. Tammy

    From this excerpt this looks like a good book. I’d love to win, thank you for the chance.

  23. Laura

    Oh wow. I would love to win!

  24. Amy

    Wow. This sounds like a great book!

  25. Lauren

    I’d love to read this! Sounds like a great book.

  26. Christine C

    How moving and lovely. I’d love to read this.

  27. laura W.

    I would love to read your book. Thank you for sharing!

  28. Lisa Tabor

    Emily, thank you for your transparency .
    Too many of us have people idolatry to be
    vulnerable enough to admit our weakness.
    God’s Grace is definitely sufficient!

    • emily wierenga

      oh Lisa yes–I lean so heavily on God’s grace. Bless you friend! e.

  29. Angelica

    I want to read more…

  30. Kristen

    I love this book already.

  31. Pam

    I don’t have words after a post like that but am simply in awe of the love of our Savior. I would love a copy and thank you for the opportunity.

    • emily wierenga

      oh Pam, yes, isn’t our Savior amazing? Bless you friend. e.

  32. Dawn Renee'

    You already had me crying, your book is a must read. Hope to win and thank you for sharing this chance and your story.

    • emily wierenga

      Wow, Dawn, I’m glad it resonated with you! I love your heart sister. e.

  33. Alexis Dunigan

    Wow! I would definitely love to win a copy of this book – looks like its a good one 🙂

  34. Jacque K.

    Wow. I truly don’t know if I could read your book. I suppose, like the wreck everyone has to stop and see, I would be compelled to continue. But, honestly, this excerpt has me so emotionally choked up, I’m not sure how well I will handle the rawness of your story. The prose and cadence are stunning. No doubt, they continue throughout. Well done!

  35. April

    Oh I have goosebumps reading this. Definitely going to have to pickup the book!

  36. Jennifer P

    Mesmerizing. Thanks for the give away.

  37. Jessica H

    Wow! This small excerpt is so moving — I would love to read this book.

  38. Piper S.

    Thank you for your bravery in sharing. And thank you for sharing copies for free.

  39. Beth

    Intrigued. Very interested in reading your book!

  40. Emily

    Sounds like an amazing read! Sign me up!

  41. Elizabeth

    Wow! Reading this little bit, I want more.

  42. Laura

    this sounds fantastic! thanks for sharing about the book.

  43. kayce hughes

    i would love to win a copy!

  44. jai

    wow. the rawness and truth struck my heart strings. I Love this. Thank you for writing! And thanks for the opportunity to win. =)

  45. Andrea

    Gorgeous writing. I’d love to read this!

  46. Ashley

    What a great preview.

  47. Emma

    I would love to read the book.

  48. Mandy

    Bless you for sharing. This book is on my list and I would love to win a copy.

  49. Kayla

    Wow… someone shared the link to this book on facebook and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to read it.

  50. Deb Harris

    What an amazing story & what a strong person you must be. I would love to win a book but I’ll have to read the story even if I don’t. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • emily wierenga

      oh Deb, I’m not strong 🙂 But God is… I’m so very, very weak… and He is so gracious… Bless you sister–I’m so grateful this story resonated with you! e.

  51. Christina

    I CAN’T WAIT to read this book!

  52. Lana Waldrop

    Sometimes our “mental hospital” is not a facility. It can be our own home. Sometimes our “eating disorder” presents by another name, depression. Sometimes our not wanting to be loved by others is the same lonely experience so eloquently described by Emily. Always, in His Wisdom, He brings to us a conduit of love, chosen and placed right up against the crack in our armor for the purpose of effectively oozing His Love into our pain as a healing balm. Thanks be to God that He never leaves His children to themselves.

    I am reminded of His Love by this excerpt from the words of His Emily. The balm is always welcomed and often comes as a surprise gift.

    • emily wierenga

      “Always, in His Wisdom, He brings to us a conduit of love, chosen and placed right up against the crack in our armor for the purpose of effectively oozing His Love into our pain as a healing balm.” This brought me to tears Lana. Thank you. So beautifully expressed! e.

  53. Julie

    It sounds wonderful.

  54. Jennifer

    Wow. Thank you for sharing part of your story. I would love to read more. (My family is moving to Africa!)

    • emily wierenga

      Jennifer, I’d love to learn more about what you and your family are doing in Africa! My family and i are moving to Uganda September of 2018. Bless you sister! e.

  55. Barefoot Hippie Girl

    Emily’s writing is so…wow. It grips you. It makes you hurt. I’d love to read this book!

  56. Miriam B.


  57. Marty Walden

    What a precious story. Can’t wait to read the book!

  58. Amy

    Thanks for sharing! I appreciate the way you write and hope to read your book!

  59. Charlotte

    So moving. Looking forward to reading more!

  60. Heather

    Your writing is beautiful. Would love to read more.

  61. Amy J. Bennett

    This has been on my list but haven’t picked it up yet. Would love to win a copy.

  62. Tashia D

    I would love to read this!

  63. Melissa

    I love to hear stories of the movement of God amongst His people. Thank you for sharing your journey with Him.

  64. Cindy Freeman

    My heart ached when I read your post. I would love to read the book!

  65. Susan

    I was struck as I read what you wrote, at how many ways our enemy seeks to separate us from Love by blinding us to Him, using even the things supposed to be best – parents…church… – to do it. And I am equally struck and blessed to read again how God’s infinite heart finds us anywhere. I hope to read the rest of your story soon

    • emily wierenga

      Susan, YES… how the enemy twists the very things God wants to use to bless us. Thank you for articulating this so clearly for me tonight. Bless you friend! e.

  66. laura

    This looks like a very good read! Thanks for sharing.

  67. Chris

    II’m hooked so I want the rest of the story!

  68. Katie Harding

    Sounds totally fascinating, I can’t wait to read the whole thing!

  69. Mary Stewart

    Okay, you got me! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this book!

  70. Nancy Heiner

    I look forward to reading the rest of this intriguing book. Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

  71. Mia White

    Beautifully written, would love to win!

  72. Carmen Woitas

    Congratulations on your new book, your story sounds amazing and it sounds like a fast read. .. which is saying something for me. Good luck on your journey.

    • emily wierenga

      I’ve been told you can read it in a day 🙂 Bless you Carmen! e.

  73. Michele

    This sounds like a beautiful and inspiring book. I spent a lot of time in Africa and I would truly love to read this.

    • emily wierenga

      I would love to learn more about what you did in Africa, Michele! Bless you, e.

  74. Amy F.

    Wow…I’m speechless. I would love to hear the rest of your story and I’m glad you are able to tell it.

  75. Niki Blake

    If I don’t win, I ll buy a copy anyway. Sounds amazing! Ill live my dream of going to Uganda by reading yours. 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity!

    • emily wierenga

      I love that we have the same dream Niki! Bless you! e.

  76. Rebekah

    Beautifully written!

  77. amy

    I too have met God in places that I did not expect nor were looking for Him. Bless you and thank you for sharing your self with others. I feel that is how we learn….from others…..that is how we find God…..from others.

    I hope you continue sharing your thoughts, experiences & love with us.

    amy 🙂

    • emily wierenga

      Dear Amy–I love how Abba doesn’t stop pursuing us, don’t stop caring, just LONGS to delight in us and hold us close. I’m grateful he met you sister, in those dark, lonely places. Bless you, e.

  78. Lauren

    Wow! This was so beautiful. I hope to win the book and read more of your story!

  79. Kelly Meharg

    The way that you describe your surroundings and feelings in the place where your parents are, it is exceptionally impeccable. As I was reading it, I felt like I was there- seeing what you were seeing, feeling what you were feeling. Finding God in places where you never thought to look is a beautiful description of gaining hope and faith, finding God in unknown places and seeing him in other’s faces- what an important, vital happening to someone’s being.

    Your sentences are beautifully constructed, each word picked out ever-so-carefully, laying the foundation of a beautiful masterpiece.


    • emily wierenga

      Wow Kelly! Your comment here is SO encouraging! Thank you sister, truly. Bless you, e.

  80. sam

    I would certainly like to read the rest of this story. Powerful stuff.

  81. Kelly Meharg

    The way that you describe your surroundings and feelings in the place where your parents felt the need to place you**, it is exceptionally impeccable.


  82. Tracy Stone

    Amazing. I would truly like to read this book.

  83. Adelle F.

    This excerpt really makes me want to read more! What a beautiful sounding book!

  84. julie

    So raw. I’d like to win and finish reading it.

  85. Stephanie S

    Sounds like an amazing testimony!

  86. Laura Hix

    I cannot wait to read Atlas Girl. Your story is very compelling and I cannot wait to read the rest of it. Thanks for this opportunity

  87. Kristin Thomas

    I need this book! I can’t wait to read it!

  88. Teresa Ward

    Absolutely beautiful writing – looking forward to reading the whole story.

  89. Mel

    I would love to read this book. 🙂


    What a deeply personal and insightful message, written so eloquently. Even in this small excerpt, it wakes one up to the message that we each are on a personal journey. Also, it’s a reminder that children are searching for answers and wholeness, although they may not be equipped to realize it, much less communicate it. I hope to read more!

  91. Deb

    I would love to read your story. Thanks for sharing part of it today. 😉

  92. donna

    Your story drew me in from the start. I am sure it will be an encouragement to those that read it. Wishing you much success.

  93. Briony

    oh gosh!! i am so touched by your raw honesty!! what a delight… you arrested my attention and gripped my imagination with the above excerpt!!
    i would soooo love to win one of the copies of your book. thank you for having enough courage to lay it all bare. you are brave and beautiful.

    • emily wierenga

      aw Briony, thanks girl! I’m so grateful it resonated with you friend. Bless you! e.

  94. Bethany

    Would love to win your book. I had an experience similar to yours. I realized that my life is not as bad as I think it is and that was a turning point for me .

  95. Anne Wight

    So visual. Would like very much to win this book.

  96. Cathie

    So poetic. I will read this, whether I win it or not.

  97. Dawn

    My heart was sinking as I read the intro….and now I want more!!!

  98. Missy Robinson

    It sounds like an interesting and real read.

  99. Anna

    I’d love to read this with my book club! Beautiful and sincere writing.

    • emily wierenga

      I’m grateful, Anna, thank you friend! e.

  100. Heather

    Wow! He excerpt is heart-breaking and beautiful! Your memoir sounds excellent! As someone close to girls with eating disorders, the excerpt really intrigued me.

  101. Patti Cunningham

    Riveting! I really want to read this book….could be one for my bookclub!

    • emily wierenga

      Honored, thanks Patti! e.

  102. J McAuley

    Wow, compelling. I have seen those Cheshire Cat smiles.

  103. Jill Dixon

    Wow, I would love to read this book!

  104. Maggie

    I think I need to read this. My heart is pounding now.

  105. leah

    it’s on my reading list!

  106. Lori

    Can’t wait to read this book. I keep getting these signs that our family needs to go to Africa, and here it is again, mentioned in your post.

    • emily wierenga

      Africa is something special, isn’t it, friend? Bless you! e.

  107. Tori

    sounds like a really great read. an important read….

  108. Kristi C

    This sounds like a wonderful, real read!!

  109. Julie cameron

    Wow, what a gripping excerpt! Would love to win a freebie to read the rest!

  110. Lisa L

    Fascinating story, would love to read more. Thanks!

  111. Denise

    Oh my goodness, as a mum to a 16 yo very much in this same situation, I’d love to read this for some much needed hope
    Love & best wishes xx

    • emily wierenga

      oh Denise, my heart goes out to you… there is hope, friend. praying for you, for wisdom and patience as you wait on God to redeem … e.

  112. Kim McCulley

    Oh! I would love a copy of this book. This his home for our family. It sounds like a powerful read.

  113. cynthia hobson

    one page and I am bawling. wonderful writing.

    • emily wierenga

      so grateful it resonated with you Cynthia! e.

  114. Kim McCulley

    *hits home. Pardon the typo.

  115. Judy Bonnell

    Congratulations on your book, it sounds intriguing and honest! Would love to win a copy.

  116. Ruthie S.

    This was so beautiful and poetic I would love to read the book!

  117. Diane

    I already had this book in my amazon wish list, and now I know it is a must read. This brought tears to my eyes. I can’t wait to read the rest!

    • emily wierenga

      I’m so grateful it resonated with you friend. Bless you! e.

  118. Jessica McDonald

    As a product of a dysfunctional ministry family I’m always intrigued to see how I relate to others from the same situation. Hope I win!

  119. Chris

    Thanks for the opportunity! If I don’t win, this is certainly one to follow-up with and read. Sounds very good!

  120. allyson

    Looking forward to reading your story – whether or not I win a copy. I’m a preacher and I love to hear about where people have seen God. Thanks for sharing this.

    • emily wierenga

      Bless you, Allyson, as you minister to others! e.

  121. Sarah

    I need to read this story.

  122. Tammy Abernethy

    Powerful. I would love to win a copy of this book!

  123. Olive

    Her imagery is amazing. I was there with dirt, bright cloth, dark skin..I saw it all in my mind. I even felt the heat of the African sun. If I don’t win it I will buy it for sure.

  124. Andrea L.

    I am a PK as well. Although my challenges have been different, I do believe we have our own unique of blessings and challenges. I pray that I will be a blessing to PKs now that I’m an adult. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • emily wierenga

      Wonderful to meet you, fellow PK! Bless you as you minister to others… e.

  125. Mary Beth

    I would love to read it!

  126. Rachel Perez

    I would love to win a copy, but will buy one if not…I look forward to reading this story of God and your journey

  127. Sarah

    As a pastor’s wife and mother of 3 beautiful PK daughters , I would really like to read the rest of your story.

    • emily wierenga

      Bless you, friend, as you minister to others…

  128. Mary Beth Williams

    Your book speaks to my heart after having spent my childhood raised by a mother who equated physical beauty to worth and value and having a sister who was a virtual beauty queen. I’ve suffered most of my life feeling unattractive and less than worthy. At the age of 58 I have made some progress. Being a mother has helped me move beyond the shallow norms of society to embrace what truly matters and nourishes the human heart. I raised my now 17 year old daughter to know it’s truly what’s in her heart and soul that keeps her aloft. Your book is a must have for me. My plan is to work in Africa in an orphanage after my daughter is through with college. Thank you for your courage, bravery, and deep humanity in sharing your story.

    • emily wierenga

      Wow, Mary Beth, you sound like a kindred spirit! May the Lord continue to strengthen you in your innermost being friend. I love your heart. e.

  129. Deb

    Whoa… sounds like an amazing journey – definitely want to read this one.

  130. Jenny Kelly

    Beautiful! Deep honesty and lyrical writing. I love how you described their smiles!
    I look forward to reading your book!

  131. Donna Lohr

    Hi, I have a friend who needs to read this book and I would love to read this book. You are brave.

  132. Lisa B.

    The excerpt drew me in immediately. I’d love to read more!

  133. Karalea

    Beautifully devastating.

  134. Daphne

    Hope I win, looking forward to reading the book!

  135. Jamie

    Thank you for telling your story!

  136. Sue T

    I would really love to win and read this book! Deeply touching!

  137. Ruth

    Sounds amazing can’t wait to read!

  138. Karen Heumann

    thank you for offering free books…

  139. Becky Connet

    I would love to read your story! I grew up as an MK in Papua New Guinea and can relate to the way you described God as smelling “like the rain on the red roads of Africa.” God was and is very “real” to me when I am in any 3rd world country and it can be very confusing trying to sense God when I am here in the U.S. I hope you have a blessed day!

  140. Sharon

    Wow. Beautiful and sad. I want to know how u healed!

  141. Janica

    Wow. Sounds like an incredible story. Would love to win a copy 🙂

  142. Kelly

    Wow- just this little bit brought tears to my eyes. Would love to read the rest!

  143. Vanessa

    So powerful and now I’m hooked! Would love to win a copy!

  144. toni

    i’m searching too it feels like its been so long that I can’t remember when I found hum before maybe your story will help me open my eyes again.

  145. Sara

    Wow, so powerful! I didn’t want to stop reading!

  146. Krista

    I would live to read about your spiritual journey and recovery from an eating disorder as I am on this journey myself.

  147. Beth

    Would love to read this memoir!

  148. Cheryl a

    Would love to read this!

  149. Debbie

    Can’t wait to hear read the rest of it.

  150. Maureen

    I found myself holding my breathe as I read. This goes on my “to read” list.

  151. Mandi


  152. Elena

    This sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for the giveaway!

  153. Kristy B.

    This sounds like a great book! So glad that she decided to share her experiences.

  154. Lauren

    Thanks for sharing your heart! Would love to win!

  155. Laura

    This is beautiful writing, Emily. It makes me very excited for the book! Blessings on the release!

  156. Morag

    A great excerpt – I really really want to read more now!

  157. tina

    I was so captured by the blog entry that I immediatly went to Emily’s website and read Chasing Silhouettes. I’m in desperate need of her insight and wisdom as I am working with a loved one with an ED. I would love to read Emily’s story.

  158. Cerissa

    After reading this post, I need to read your book. What beautiful words!

  159. Emily

    I’d love to read this!

  160. Corinne

    A memoir that exposes the light of darkness, would love to have a copy

  161. Mel Newburn

    Wow! Just wow! I feel compelled to read more. To see the ways God meets you. To see your journey and feel your story. To be reminded, as I was from just this taste, of my broken places past and present and how the real God meets me as gently and big as I need him, no pretending required.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  162. Jennifer

    Would love to read this book!

  163. lorissa

    Really special and touching! Thank you for the opportunity to read some of your words.

  164. Tonya

    Would love to read this.

  165. Sarah Barham Stuart

    This small snippet spoke to my heart. I would love to win a copy.

  166. Erin

    Amazing. This story needs to be told over and over again. People need to know that there is hope. People need to know that they are not alone. Thank you, Emily. Thank you for being brave.

  167. Christine

    What a journey you must have had–and are still having. I would love to read the details.

  168. Penny

    Riveting. Thank you for sharing your story and being so kind to help others tormented by the pain of this.

  169. Haley

    So far a great story. Can’t wait to read more!

  170. Suzanne

    I am completely touched by this excerpt and would love to read the book. I believe it will inspire in unexpected ways.

  171. Kim

    WOW. So profound. The vividness of Emily’s writing is phenomenally powerful. I WILL be reading this (winning a copy would be fantastic!).

  172. Amanda

    You already have me in tears, Emily. It’s amazing how God can show up in the smallest, biggest ways. Can’t wait to read your book.

  173. Briana

    This is beautiful and heartwrenching. I look forward to picking it up and reading it 🙂

  174. melissa breedlove

    I would LOVE to read more!

  175. Karen M

    I’d love to win a copy of the book!!

  176. Elzabé Meyer

    I know how it feels when the woman called your mother and the girl called your sister, leave you behind in a mental hospital. I also know how it feels when God meets you there in that cold, white, lonely place…

  177. Nicky

    Would love to win a copy of your book.

  178. Heather M

    This book sounds inspiring! Can’t wait to read it!

  179. Karina Savelio

    Wow, that was so powerful. I’m hooked! Can’t wait to read the rest.

  180. Karina

    You’re story sounds incredible! Looking forward to reading more about the ways God ministered to you.

  181. Amy

    A story about God using our imperfect families. PK or not, we’re all the same. Would love to hear your brother’s perspective and what you did inside the institution after God met you there.

    Thank you

  182. Shelley

    You are a beautiful writer and clearly have an amazing story to tell. I’d love to win a copy.

  183. Crista Lindberg

    I found God, or peace or Buddha, while an ex-pat too (in Tokyo). I also dabbled in bulimia after college so I understand the trials that your mind can play out on you. I’d love to learn more about your story! I’m afraid I’d understand all too well.

  184. Marlo

    Would love to keep reading and learn your story. Thank you for the chance to receive one.

  185. Candice

    This book sounds wonderful and truly from the heart! Can’t wait to read it!

  186. Kate

    If I dont win a copy, I’ll have to buy one. That powerful little passage left me wanting more!

  187. Gabriela

    Really caught my attention. Hope i can win this book

  188. Leonie Mueller

    The excerpt from your book grips me … It’s written beautifully and vulnerably … I will be ordering this book and recommending it to my book club!
    Thankß for letting us glimpse inside your heart

  189. Arcelia Castro

    I teared up just with this post. I hope to win and if not I’ll find a way to get my hands on that book. Thank you!

  190. Mary Johnson

    Would love to read this book.

  191. Sarah

    Would absolutely love to read your boo and hear your story!! There’s is nothing more powerful or more humanizing than sharing your story. Thankful and excited to hear it!

  192. LCM

    This post is very powerful. I’m believing your book will be the same. God bless ALL you do!

  193. Rebecca Urban

    Wow, I want to read more! Beautiful writing.

  194. Sara

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your story.

  195. Bonnie

    this feels like such an inspiring read. would love to win 🙂

  196. Rachel Cook

    My six precious children (3 bio, 3 foster) sat around the table just last night as I made dinner and wrote letters to Emily, Joy, Harima and Mama Evah after I had read to them about Lulu Tree. I would love to get to read Emily’s book along with my older daughters. So grateful for how our almighty God is at work!

  197. Jamie R.

    Your writing captures my full attention and heart. I look forward to reading more. Thanks for the chance to win.

  198. Emily

    Can’t wait to read this. I’ve been hearing so much about it. Thanks for sharing!

  199. Jen5253

    Wow! I would love to read this book!

  200. Jordan

    I’d certainly be interested in reading this book.

  201. Kelly

    wow! what a story emily has lived; i would love to read more about it.

  202. Sharmista

    Fascinating. I would love to read the whole story.

  203. Jennifer

    Thank you for your authentic vulnerability. God shows up, He gets your attention. Who knows when, where, or why, but He ALWAYS shows up. Thanks for sharing your story…it’s like throwing a buoy to the many drowning, pleading for help without having the words.

  204. Kyla

    Sounds like a touching read. I can’t imagine all of the things you went through as a young child, but isn’t it wonderful knowing God was watching over you the entire time! I am definitely looking forward to reading!

  205. Heather

    Thanks for the opportunity, sounds like a powerful story!

  206. EmilyA

    Would enjoy reading the rest of this story

  207. Tori Lane

    The excerpt was a really good read!!! Can’t wait to read the rest!!!

  208. Beth Jones

    I’d been praying for years to go to Africa. The drums of Africa beat in my heart. Last year I was finally able to go, to speak at a women’s conference in Kenya. I remember the red roads and how everyone was walking on them -very few cars. Walking the red roads under the hot African sun. Women carrying baskets on their heads. Children who would stare curiously at me because my skin was so white. Abject poverty but yet they are such a happy, grateful people. Thankful for the smallest things. And they sing so beautifully.They taught me much about gratitude – and how blessed I am here in America. I’d love to read your memoir. Your sentence about being a pastor’s kid in the mental ward was shocking and intriguing.

  209. Chelsey

    This sounds so beautiful and profound.

  210. Eva

    Sounds beautiful

  211. Tammy

    Thank you for sharing, God bless you!

  212. holly

    I am so interested to read the rest of your story! The small but shared has me hooked!

  213. Danielle Hull

    Can’t wait to read it! Thank you!

  214. Renee

    Would love to win a copy, sounds interesting!

  215. Sherri

    So much power in such a short piece… would love to read the whole book!

  216. Nina

    Sounds fascinating.

  217. Angie

    Would love to read this as a survivor of an eating disorder and someone who is still working on their food issues daily.

  218. Amy P Boyd

    I look so forward to reading this book and see how God will use it.

  219. Stephanie

    Would love to read this book!

  220. Holly

    Sounds like a good book!

  221. Karen

    And now I have to read this book… Would be great for when I’m out of college, and to share with my mother. Thanks for the snippet!

  222. Kendra

    I just moved this to the top of my “to read” list! Beautiful writing.

  223. Heather

    Wow. Can’t wait to read the rest!

  224. Anna

    This really got my attention and sounds like a great read. Hope I win!

  225. Jennie Cochran

    I am excited for this new “read”. Looking forward to reading the whole story!!

  226. Lindsey

    Thanks for sharing this. I remember not feeling very connected to God growing up with a father that was often one way at church and one way at home. Too many times we put on brave faces as we walked in the door at church after being yelled at before church. Took me many different seeds to get me where I am today, I never lost my testimony of God but I wasn’t always close enough to feel him.

    I would love to read this. Thanks for the preview.

  227. Marta

    I’m hooked now! I would love to win a copy of your book. Blessings.

  228. Lisa

    I was moved to tears. Can’t wait to read the rest of this captivating testimony.

  229. Vicki I.

    I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I’m so glad you accepted your brother’s gift-both the mug and the connection.

  230. Anna

    Pick me! Sounds like such a good book to read and perfect for a summer read.

  231. Lauren L.

    Pinning to my Books to Read board!

  232. Rach

    Beautifully written I would love to read more 🙂

  233. Deborah

    Emotionally moving!!

  234. Mary

    I can’t wait to read this book!

  235. Debbie Onishi

    Oh my!!!! I want to read this! Thanks for offering an opportunity to win a copy.

  236. Kim

    Beautiful and moving. Sounds like a inspirational story to read. Thank you for sharing a part of your story

  237. carrie

    Would love to read–thanks!

  238. Angie

    Wow, it sounds great!

  239. Robin

    That excerpt wasn’t long enough – it makes me want to read more!

  240. Karen Jo Moseley

    I’ve been there. In that mental ward. Your words awoke memories. Wish I’d known that young girl, sitting in her tights at church…planning her meals. I’d hug her. Can’t wait to read your story.

  241. Kristi


  242. Ember

    Plan to read the book either way. Would be fun to win!

  243. Kristi

    Oh, just that excerpt physically hurts my heart. I want to read the rest and see that you found peace. Thank you for sharing.

  244. Erin

    Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  245. alyson

    Fantastic writing and compelling story- I’ll most likely buy the book anyways, but would love to win! Thanks for sharing your story.

  246. Sharon

    I loved that excerpt and would love to read the entire book. I hope I win. Congrats on completing this book and bringing your lovely message to us all. 🙂

  247. Joyce

    Oh my. This sounds like a great book. I would love to win!

  248. Savannah P

    I would love to win a copy.

  249. MelissaJoy

    I want to read your book! You have a way with articulating your faith through your pain that is such a gift to us. Thanks for the opportunity.

  250. MelissaJoy

    I want to read your book! You have a way with articulating your faith through your pain that is such a gift to us.

  251. Trish

    Oh my, I would love to read this and to share it too.

  252. Tammy

    I’d love to win a copy! After reading this, I realize that I met God in my children – what a beautiful way to put it! Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  253. Sarah Westphal

    What an incredible journey! Hope I win!

  254. Melinda

    Living and ministering in Africa, so definitely want to read this book!

  255. Laura

    Looks like a great book. I too am a preacher’s daughter. Lots of pressure in that title.

  256. Brianna

    Sounds like an inspirational read! Would love to win a copy

  257. Margarquet Fortunato

    You have such power in your words. I know you will be an inspiration to millions of young ladies/women with your book. Good luck and God bless and keep you well on your life’s jouney.

  258. Beth Hemmer

    Would love to win this book! Def interested in reading it!

  259. Catherine Irwin

    A journey of pain is the journey of anorexia.
    I would love to read this book.

  260. Rachel Taylor

    Wow! I need to hear the rest of this story!

  261. Jen

    I have dealt with mental illness in my family. It is hard for people to understand that it is an illness. I found your story very interesting. Thank you for putting this up for us to read.

  262. Julie

    I’m covered in goosebumps. I can’t wait to read your book, whether I win it or not. 🙂

  263. Christina

    Sounds like an interesting read!

  264. Erin

    It sounds like a beautiful book.

  265. Sarah Buckle-Dykes

    I just saw a link on FB and read this page of your website. I don’t know your story from a bar of soap – but i’d love to read more. I cried at the bear mug -and your mum’s hurt and your brother’s gift and of how your thoughts carried you through this time, wondering where God was. I’m a preacher’s kid too. Thanks for sharing. Sarahx

  266. Heather

    I would love to read this book!

  267. Diane

    sounds amazing, I would love to read it!

  268. Angel

    Intriguing and eloquently written! So excited for you and your upcoming book.

  269. Erin

    Thanks for the give away! I want to read this challenging book.

  270. michelle t

    Your non profit is so wonderful, beautiful. Thank you for a chance to win. I relate to part of your story. Michelle t

  271. amy smith

    Looks like a heart wrenching read.

  272. Diana Trautwein

    Oh, Em. I don’t need to be in the drawing – I already have my own well-read copy of your book. But this is so well-done here. So very evocative, so very sad. I weep for that 11 year old. I do.

  273. Grace

    Like the posts before me have already stated, I would love to have the opportunity to read this book. Raw. Transparent.. Honesty.

  274. Kathy

    I would LOVE to win this book 🙂 thanks for the chance

  275. Kristin C

    I’ve also been an admirer of Emily’s strength, bravery and voice. I’m so excited for the release of her book and even more so of the creation of The Lulu Tree. I look forward to seeing how God continues to work in your life, Em. Thankful for this giveaway opportunity! Live Inspired, Kristin

  276. Sara S.

    Wow! This is definitely going on my must-read list. Thank you!

  277. Danielle

    I would love to continue reading!

  278. Nikkirae

    Your words are real, engaging, and bring out a thirst in me for more. I’d love to win a copy of the book and add it to my personal library. Continue on your journey. I can’t even imagine how many lives you’ll touch as you walk those precious steps every day.

  279. alison

    sounds like a very interesting book!

  280. Julianne

    I can’t wait to read this.

  281. Karen

    I think God likes to hang out with the mentally I’ll…we’re more open to the possibility of the impossible. Thank you for your honesty.

  282. Rebecca

    This is now in my reading list whether I win or not

  283. Bob Hatch

    As a psychiatric social worker and a former missionary, I can’t wait to feel the rest of your story.

  284. lisa

    rawness & the mercy of God’s grace, even in this brief excerpt…. I would love to read more.

  285. Mary

    I loved the excerpt that I read … I live with depression and anxiety (on and off) and have let them both get in between me and God … hoping this book will help me reconnect. (If I don’t win it, I’ll buy it anyway) God bless!

  286. Michele

    Very interested in the book and would love to win.

  287. Adrienne

    Beautiful. I would love to read this. Thank you!!

  288. Beth Werner Leehi

    I’d love to win a copy, but if I don’t I could order it and get the free ebook too, so it’s a win-win. Thanks!

  289. Keijo Bollinger

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  290. Monica

    Really excited to read this book.

  291. Cindy

    Such a compelling excerpt.

  292. Kendra

    This book sounds incredible – I would love to win a copy, but look forward to reading it either way!

  293. Tara

    This really caught my eye.
    A very good friend of mine was a ministers’ daughter (both parents). She too used to plan her food intake and at one point attempted to ‘go to sleep’ until I intercepted the attempt.
    Unfortunately my beautiful friend passed away after complications from a car accident 9 years ago.
    I suppose that may be too much information. I look forward to reading this book whether I win it or not.

  294. Jennifer S

    Thank you for your transparency. Would be a privilege to read this.

  295. Tiffani


  296. Samantha

    What a poignant excerpt. I’m sure you wrote the rest of your story as honest as this excerpt. I would love to read the rest of your story. Thank you for sharing.

  297. Susie

    Wow, I was already hooked, ready to lap up the next paragraph! So well written!

  298. Kaitlyn Winn

    Wow, what a powerful writer. I would love to have a copy!

  299. Mary Henry

    God bless you young lady <3

  300. shonda

    Wow! I want to read more now.

  301. Michelle G

    I’m very excited to read your book! Something in your rings deep inside of me. I definitely wasn’t a pastor’s kid, in fact I was raised quite the opposite. Praying that your book blesses many, many people!

  302. Warren

    Sounds like a great book! If I don’t win it, I’ll buy it!

  303. Joanna Nelson

    You’ve got me hooked, love to read the whole story

  304. Rachel

    Oh my. This seems like a great read.

  305. Rhonda

    Hooked – can’t wait to read it!

  306. Karen F.

    Compelling. Can’t wait to read more.

  307. Jennifer

    I found this post thru a FB page. I am in awe and want tk read more!

  308. Melissa

    Looks like a good read- thank u!

  309. Stephanie

    Powerful words. Thank you for sharing. Look forward to reading it all!

  310. Debbie

    I’d love to read this book!

  311. tonilea

    I don’t know a lot about eating disorders. I do know about hypocrisy. I do know about mental institutions. I don’t know about Africa. I do know about God. I would like to win your book.

  312. Grace

    Wow! I can’t wait to read this! Thank you for the giveaway!

  313. Carol

    I really want to read this book!! After reading this teeny piece of your story, I’m so curious. I want to know more!

  314. Nerissa

    Tears. Thank you for sharing your rawness. Your writing is art. May God bless you as you shine His light!

  315. Caroline

    You communicate so well in writing and thoughts., Because you have lots to say. Sharing from the place of brokenness and healing with transparency is powerful! Thank you for speaking truth and humbly sharing the dark parts of your world and the deadness religion offers as well as the victory and freedom you now have in Christ. Have you read the Mundane Faithfulness blog? She also writes with humility and transparency and testament to God’s grace during the hard.

  316. Debra Hanlon

    Thank you for the opportunity to win your book

  317. Kathy Ericksen

    Sounds intriguing. Thanks for the information.

  318. Charlotte

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and bearing your soul in such a raw and honest way. I can’t wait to read more!

  319. Erin Willis

    My husband just got back from Africa this week and is rocked…in a good way. Definitely want to read this book!

  320. Emily

    Authentic, vivid writing. Can’t wait to read more!

  321. Christina Yerke

    This book sounds amazing! I am putting it on my list of must reads! Would love to win a copy 🙂

  322. Hayley

    I would love to read your story, it sounds so do fascinating and incredibly encouraging. I love reading about other’s journeys with God, thank you for sharing and I wish you all the best.

  323. Michelle

    I am in awe of your story and your writing! Would love to read your memoir!

  324. Brenda Miraglia

    Thanks for the give-away! I hope I win.
    I’ll read it regardless. 🙂

  325. Courtney

    I can’t wait to read your book. Hope I win (-;

  326. Angie smith Krogman

    That little but from your book has touched me. I can tell already that the world needs to hear your story. Bless you

  327. Deborah Morris

    I just saw this on FaceBook and read the excerpt. I would love to read it, and I will probably buy it even if I don’t win.

  328. Laureen Fox

    Adding this title to my Must-Read-List!

  329. Traci@tracesoffaith

    What powerful words! So thankful for God’s saving grace.

  330. Faith

    Would love to win it / if not I’ll sure buy it!!

  331. LoriSF

    I’m hooked! I’d love to read this book.

  332. Brooke

    Very captivating writing, I’d love to read this. I’m putting it on the list, whether I win one or not.

  333. Kelli

    Sounds like a great read and powerful testimony.

  334. Stacey Woodard

    I would love a copy of this book. This is the type of boom that I love to read. It sounds very powerful and intriguing, and I think I could help people with this book.

  335. Brooke

    It’s something how I came across your post. Usually I delete threads but this time I decided to open and read it and your post touched my spirit and put a smile on my face. I can relate with you about meeting God. I went to visit the country South Korea a couple of years ago to visit a friend, boyfriend, and find a job. Everything to me seem to have gone wrong. My friend had to work and didn’t have time to spend with me. My boyfriend dumped me, and then my with my job search I got rejected by each school I had applied to.

    I felt depressed and discouraged. I already had family members back home who didn’t support my decision of visiting a country and thought I was wasting time. So I felt like a failure and that I lost and they were right. I remember sitting on the floor of my best friend’s apartment in this small room and crying my heart out to God and praying. To make this short my situation changed and I met God in South Korea. It’s something because I grew up in the church but that’s where I actually met Him and saw many miracles that he did for me.

    I’m definitely going to check out your book to read and thanks for sharing your post. It’s truly an encouragement and blessing.

  336. Jennifer Dougan

    Hi Tsh, and Emily,

    Tsh, thanks for hosting Emily here. Nice to meet you. 🙂

    Emily, I remember this touching moment from your book Atlas Girl, and have loved getting to “know” your family through your book: your brother Keithm the fellow bucket bather, and the man who speaks tenderly now about you writing memoir with them in it, and your sisters, mum and dad.

    Hopping over to say hi today,
    Jennifer Dougan

  337. lynuska

    My heart echoes your own story. I would love to read your story.

  338. Nikki

    Thank you for sharing – sounds awesome!

  339. Sandy Rasmussen

    Beautiful prose that glorifies God. I’m in! Thank you for sharing this story!

  340. Catherine E

    Someone was telling how great this book is earlier this week! I would love to win it!

  341. Cheryl Ives

    Hooked by the title alone. Definitely seems like a great book to read.

  342. Brina Harwood

    After already following your blog, I read a wonderful review on Glynn Young’s blog. This is beautiful. Even if I don’t happen to win a copy, I will purchase one.

  343. Sharon

    Wow! I haven’t read a book with this much depth in a while. I’d love the chance.

  344. Susan P

    I lived in Kenya for a few years growing up and this post made me homesick! Everything just seemed more real there…

  345. Jennifer and Katharine


    My heart breaks for you. It sounds like a nightmare of an experience.

    You seem like a wise person who is able to learn from the mistakes of others. I’m sure you are a fantastic, loving mother. I pray that it soothes and heals your heart to be able to give out the love you so desperately needed.

    My daughter, 15, an avid reader, said, “Ooooh, that sounds really interesting. I would LOVE to read that.”

    We wish you well. ♥

  346. Jamie

    God is so much bigger than we make him isn’t he? Would love to hear more of your story.

  347. Crystal

    Bless you. This was beautiful and heartbreaking.

  348. Christi

    Thank you for the chance! Would love to win a copy!

  349. Tara

    I just read this introduction for your book on Jennifer’s Facebook page . I am looking forward to reading it . So glad I stumbled upon iti. I have the feeling it will be a book that I can’t put down .

  350. SarahS

    This essay is beautiful and I’ll bet the book is, too. I’d love to win!

  351. Rebecca

    I will be reading this whether or not I win a copy. Can’t wait!

  352. Marisa

    I am hooked already! I’d love to win this book!

  353. Connie

    This is the second time in the last several weeks that I have tripped over one of your posts… I cannot wait to read your book! I saw a glimpse of Him today… in you! Blessings

  354. julie

    Thanks so much for the opportunity. In case I don’t win 🙂 I’ve requested my local library buy it so I can check it out. I’m first on the list.

  355. Melodee

    Looking forward to reading your book. I love a good memoir.

  356. Linda

    Intrigued. Would be interested on reading.

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