Dear Emily

A gift from Emily

Dear Emily,
I sit alone with a screen and shapeless words and I mold them–trace my mind along their outer edges and try to give beauty a face. But when I carry my words into a room of people…when I try to give them life outside of this solitude—well, sometimes they just dangle lifeless in the midst of all that breathing.
When I was given the joy and honor of introducing you at the Jumping Tandem Retreat, my tongue grew heavy with the weight of all I wanted to say. I came home to our little valley and the lilacs were blooming and the apple trees were flowered glory. And I went over and over that introduction and wished I’d said this or that; longed for more grace and a surer voice. But the truth is, there wasn’t time and those dear ones did not come to hear me stutter on.
So today, I want to introduce you to my friends again. I want to say some of the things that time forgot. I hope that’s ok. Because you matter to me.
You wanted me to tell the listeners that you are a broken woman. That God whispered into your life that you must speak to all of us broken women—encourage the hearts of all who stumble and struggle and strive. And I did share this, but what I didn’t say was how I have loved you over the miles and through a screen for so long now. And God has used your words to shape my life and so many others who read them. And how it is a piece of this very brokeness you wear so beautifully—this long struggle with an eating disorder—that God uses to feed others. So you wrote a book that gives hope. I wanted to say how brave and real and vulnerable Chasing Silhouettes is. And now there is another book—another voice of love spoken into the broken. Such gift.
And I so wanted to say that, for me—especially for me, this woman who gets lost in color and light and a carefully turned line—how the art you make with a paintbrush can bring a kind of healing in an instant. How part of your ministry is giving beauty—the kind one sees with the eyes and the kind only the heart can see. And how clear it is the ways you pour yourself out onto the canvas—all the love and pain and fear and anger and joy. I don’t think you do anything halfway, Emily. The generosity of your heart is astounding and it convicts me to give more of myself in all I do.
And then there are your boys. How you minister to mothers through your grace-soaked love of your boys—and how your heart made room for two other little boys because you know our hands carry the love of Jesus. In this same way your love for your husband opens doors in a heart. The steadfast leaning into God you model in your marriage is a reminder to us all.
Dear heart, I know you are not perfect. But the way you invite God to meet you in your brokenness is an offering this tired world needs. You are so special. You are so loved. And I am so grateful for you, my beautiful friend.
This, is Emily.


  1. says

    Willingness is worship. Willingness to lay it all out there, bare and bold . . . that’s where He is most evident. Because that’s where we meet His Holy covering of complete love, and where He transcends the darkness and blooms beauty. Radiant beauty. Emily is a remarkable gift of His tender and true love. And the rich outpouring of her heart is Him, all Him.

  2. says

    That is our beautiful Emily. I was blessed to share a seat with you and to witness that gentle, giving of self, lighting up, encouraging others to overcome, sharing Jesus, willing to bend down and extend a hand of love and grace and with that same hand lift up the broken hearted and the weary that is named Emily. I love you girls!

  3. Holly says

    I am in awe of how God chooses to use all of us to speak into each others lives. Laura, I pray that these honey-soaked, grace swollen words will drip down and around and all over Emily’s head and heart and soul. And I know that your meek yet strong words will help to calm some turbulent waters that have churned around our sweet Emily as of late.
    You and Emily are a gift. I am so glad that I got to meet you both at Jumping Tandem and that we are forever entwined by that experience and our word weaving.
    Thank you.

  4. says

    yes, Laura … it’s the broken, the wounded, those who’ve been there and done that who most inspire, give hope, hear well. thank you for this lovely piece!

  5. Emily Wierenga says

    You don’t know how I needed this today, my dear Laura. The Lord knew though and you know the Lord, and me, so, so well. I wish I could hug you and have tea with you for hours. Thank you. For lifting this weary heart today. Thank you. A thousand times over.

  6. Kim Hyland says

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul. Thank you for honoring Emily like this, Laura. Your words brought these to mind . . “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting (although Emily possesses these as well); but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Thank you for using your “city gates” to honor our friend.

  7. says

    While much of her message is for women, i still see genuineness and a passion to do the right thing — all the time. I love that in this woman I’ve never met

  8. Shelly Miller says

    Laura, I’m so glad you honored Emily this way, your words speak well of both of you and I’m honored to call you both friend.

  9. says

    “And how it is a piece of this very brokeness you wear so beautifully—this long struggle with an eating disorder—that God uses to feed others.” Yes. Of all the tender words here… I think that is probably my favorite line. I too loved you from “…..Hello. I’m Emily. I’m a broken woman…”

  10. Jody Collins says

    Laura, I got teary eyed reading this……..your love just shown through (shown through? is that right?) I’m so very glad that you didn’t let the Enemy steal away what you DID say in this just now with what you DIDN’T say then……..There is always a second chance to say what you forgot to say, and you proved it. And this time I got to ‘hear’ it………as if I was actually at the Retreat myself.

    Thank you!

  11. Diana Trautwein says

    Just lovely, Laura. Thank you. (ALL of it is lovely, your words, Emily’s face and that lovely painting. Thanks for sharing it with us.)

  12. says

    What a pleasure it was to meet you, Holly. I’m so grateful for this community of women and the ways they reflect Jesus. You and Em are such an wonderful part of that. When I think how God brought us together for such a time as this, I marvel at His kindness.

  13. says

    Maureen, you always say the kindest of things 🙂 Thank you. Let me know when you want to come visit to see some orchids. The conservatory is a tiny one but packed with loveliness. And Dr. Beck takes such pride in his work.

  14. says

    I knew you would understand! Maybe I need to take a class on doing proper introductions :). Honestly? All of those beautiful women who spoke at the retreat? There are too many nice things to say about them to distill it down into a quick intro. We did the hard work 🙂 Anyone can give an old keynote (grin).

  15. says

    God’s timing is so perfect. Here I was thinking how I am always behind…bringing up the tail end of all those retreat posts. But He whispered this one to me and I’m so glad, Emily. But there is so much more to say…

  16. says

    Yes… Yes.. As one of the guys who read Emily, I want to say that her words carry so much “God” that even though she writes of mother hood a lot, I can always be encouraged by the sheer depth of love she has for our Father.

    Beautiful, Laura.

  17. says

    Do you know, I cried a little in the writing (don’t tell anyone). It’s such a powerful thing, the ways we have moved into each other’s hearts. I feel the same for you, Jennifer. Love to you.

  18. says

    Coming from you, this means a lot.

    Writers are funny people, you know? I can get 20 lovely emails and then I’ll get 1 hateful one and I choose to latch onto that 1 hateful one too often.

    I know it’s Pride. And I deal with it each time one of those emails come in.

    I often view other writers as being so strong and someday, I’d like to be that way too.

    So thank you, for lifting me up a little on a day I got an email I didn’t like.

  19. says

    Yes Laura…. I think of the ladies who attend my Mom’s Bible study every week, I think of so many reflecting the light of God in their eyes, and in their lives. When I saw the wonderful picture of Emily I thought of all those women (and men too) that have inspired and enriched my Christian walk. I love this community, it is the church….thank you for shining the light with your own beautiful words! Lori

  20. says

    What a beautiful tribute to a fantastic woman! I am not even sure when Emily and I met – probably Write!Canada. But my heart has been tied to hers over the years. I love her painting and the way she can share deeply from her soul.

    Some day we will meet too I hope. Grateful for God for being able to meet all His children on the Internet.


  21. says

    Beautiful words about a beautiful woman. You two are quite a match. Would love to meet you both in person some day. Women of God helping others become women of God…

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