by Alycia Morales
I’m an avid reader. I love all types of books, from poetry to memoir to crime thrillers to non-fiction for women, marriages, and families. Sometimes a book flops (especially if it’s obvious it hasn’t been edited). Other times it grabs hold of you and won’t let go even after you’ve turned the last page and set it down. Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga is one of those books.
When I had the opportunity to review Atlas Girl, I took it because part of her tagline is “Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look.” Having been on the move with my husband and our family for the past six years, I’ve found myself longing for a place to call home. Emily’s tagline caught my attention, and I wondered how far she had to travel to find “home.” I wondered if our stories would mingle.
In some ways they did. In others they didn’t. But I couldn’t put down the poetic prose Emily shared her life story through. And I learned a few things about faith as I read.
1. Surrendering our character to Jesus is an ongoing process. Emily was asked what part of her character she needed to surrender to Jesus before she married her husband Trenton. As I read that question, I remembered surrendering so very much of my character to Jesus as I prepared to marry my husband Victor. But the surrendering didn’t stop there. It continued through the first five hellish years of our marriage as we adjusted to the step-family dynamic of life. It continued through the next ten years as we continued to grow into one flesh and walk in unity with one another in Christ. And even this month, my husband and I are surrendering character traits to Jesus that we see in ourselves now reflecting in our children and begging God to release them of the negative and sinful before it becomes a deep-seeded part of them.
2. Too often I wake up (and go to sleep) fretting over the day and its laundry list of things to do. In doing so, I’m living a task-driven life instead of a life of anticipating moments. More than once my husband has reminded me of my need to participate in life, not watch it go by in my camera’s lens or miss it entirely as I bury my head in my work, blocking out all but the computer screen’s glow. Emily mentions learning to relax, knowing that if something is meant to get done in a day, it will. And if it isn’t, it won’t. She says, “I’m learning to live in community and to create, because for me, that makes life meaningful. We were born to create. We are creators in his image.” Here’s the part that really struck me, being the mother of four kids and wondering if I’m doing anything right by them. “The world may not be perfect, but we can make it seem perfect for the people we love.” I want to anticipate the moments in life. Every moment of every day. I want my children to grow into the men and woman of God they were created to be, even in the midst of an imperfect world.
3. Home isn’t a place here on earth. It’s not a particular house or a particular church building or a particular city. No, home lives inside of us. Home is an eternity spent in the presence of God, His presence dwelling inside of us. Because home is the kingdom of heaven. And the kingdom of heaven is within us. Within me. Within my husband. Within my children. Within those I love with all my heart. “The kingdom of heaven is where I belong. It is where all of my journeys have been taking me. And no place on earth can match the welcome that is found in God’s arms.”
There are so many rich nuggets of truth about life on this earth and our deep desire to find ourselves, “to be truly known, entirely forgiven, and utterly loved” within the pages of Emily’s book. If you are trying to figure out your faith, struggling to find that love you’ve missed, or just looking for home, Atlas Girl is a book you’ll enjoy.