Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
My name is Emily T. Wierenga. I am an author, artist, columnist, and award-winning journalist. I am the mother of two boys, and a foster mother to two more; wife to a math-teacher husband, Trenton, who also works on his father’s farm, and the daughter of a pastor and a homeschooling mother. I am the eldest of four, and I battled anorexia nervosa both as a child and as an adult. My passion, or my creative dream, is to use art and prose to bring healing to the hurting woman’s soul.
When did this creative dream begin?
This dream to help women discover their true worth began with the birth of my eldest son, Aiden Grey. As I struggled to lose the baby weight and to love myself just because I am “me” and not because I am holding a baby or doing anything amazing, I was blogging and writing about what I was learning. And I was moved by how many women could relate to these struggles.
My first book, Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, was a step on this journey toward helping others, followed by another book co-written with a colleague called Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy. Most recently I’ve put together an ebook called Canvas Child, which is a mix of poetry and paintings done while relapsing into anorexia as a young married woman. I created it as a gift for those who subscribe to my blog. (Dan King of Fistbump Media was the genius behind the operation.)
How did this project/idea get started?
While my dream was born alongside my eldest son, it’s happened in phases, as any dream does. This past January I received some healing prayer for issues in my past, and as I was praying I saw Jesus giving me a shepherd’s staff. I realized he was calling me to be a shepherd. Since then he’s spoken to me through other prophetic people who say they’ve seen me standing and speaking to women, and even as I’m speaking, they’re tearing off their skin. And it’s falling around them like rags, and they stand and they shine like polished rocks. Because of the God in me. I don’t know how, or when, or where, but I am his vessel. And every book I write, every talk I give, is merely an expression of what Christ has done for me.
The combination of art and words is unique; I am an artist both with paint and with poetry, so I think that stands out. The art satisfies one part of my soul, and the writing, another.
What are the goals and intentions of this project?
To bring healing and hope to a broken church. To set women free. To bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.
How does your project create community?
My books, blog posts, and paintings invite the audience to respond, to ask themselves whether or not they love themselves, and why/why not. I desire to create a dialogue, to learn others’ stories, to create a safe space for those with hurting hearts to be vulnerable.
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
My advice stems from Rainer Maria Rilke’s words:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves like
locked rooms and like books that are written in
a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers,
which cannot be given you because you would not be able
to live them. And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your project. Where do the ideas come from? How many are involved in the process? Does each contributer have a specific role?
I wait on the Lord. He is my main contributor, my agent (in addition to Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary ☺), my editor (as well as Jon Wilcox at Baker Books), and my friend. The Lord is my companion in this creative journey; he is the Creator, and I depend on him for every breath, every word, every brush-stroke.
What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground?
It takes patience, and sometimes you want to see results right away. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, to accept your own pace in life, the steps God has assigned to you, and not to become envious or boastful or self-pitying or proud. To be content with anonymity, while striving to work to the best of your ability.
What have you learned?
I’ve learned that the same girl who wanted to be seen and noticed when she was starving herself at nine years old often rears her head when she’s creating and longing for affirmation. And I’ve learned to be kind to that little girl, to listen to her, and to approach Abba Father’s throne and ask him to meet all of her needs. Because no amount of human affirmation will satisfy.
Often the paintings and the books or blog posts that you least expect to succeed, do. And the ones you had high hopes for don’t always meet up to your expectations.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about starting your project?
It takes time and prayer to develop an art. Don’t rush it; allow the Lord to dictate when, where, how, and why. Only then will you succeed.
What are some ways you promote your project?
Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised?
Marketing is hard — especially for an introvert like myself, but thankfully, the online world offers a lot of opportunity to market your books/artwork, etc. Nevertheless, it takes diligence and dedication.
Any marketing mistakes you would avoid?
Don’t spend money on a publicist. Take advantage of social networking and blogging. It’s free and it doesn’t get frustrated when you email it weekly wanting an update. ☺
What social network has worked best for you?
What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours?
Pray. Wait and pray and seek the Lord in it. Ask him for his vision for your life and to confirm he has indeed placed this dream on your heart, and if he says yes, then ask him to open doors, even as you quietly begin to seek out opportunities. Unless the Lord builds the house, friend, we build in vain.
Where do you see this project in five years?
I have a novel coming out next spring and a memoir next summer, so I see the Lord working through me in those regards. I hope to keep speaking, painting, and writing as long as he allows.
As a former anorexic, I know that being sensitive to the world’s pain and hurt and creating my way through that pain often go hand in hand—and this is something I’ve witnessed amongst many who battle an eating disorder.
How can we find your creative dream come true?
My website and blog is http://www.emilywierenga.com. When you subscribe, you will immediately receive a copy of my new e-book, Canvas Child: A Collection of Art and Poetry by Emily T. Wierenga, as well as a sample ebook of Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder.
Leave a comment below for your change to win a copy of Emily’s book Mom in the Mirror. Winner will be announced next week!