How to Write Books with Babies In Your Lap (Giveaway)

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

You don’t.

You don’t write books with babies in your lap, you don’t even check your email because four boys are honking your nose and pulling at your hair and coffee spills all over the overdue bills on your desk and you wonder again, why you said Yes.

Why you said you’d take in your friend’s two children when she called saying she couldn’t do it anymore, she couldn’t be a mom anymore. And rather than see that one-year-old and three-year-old go into the foster system you said you’d take them in, in addition to your six-month-old and his two-year-old brother.

Because some things are more important than sleep. Or a hot cup of coffee. Or that novel you’ve just been contracted to write because of course, you finally got a contract right after you took the boys in. Because God cares more about the least of these and he’ll reward you for it, too.

But it doesn’t feel like a reward. Especially when one of the boys forgets to lock the gate behind him and your six month old tumbles down the stairs in his walker and you grab him, weeping, you run with him to the office and close the door and hold your baby close to you and sob to God, I can’t do this.

Rock your baby and sobbing, and then somehow, God reminds you that you can. And you rise, open the door, turn on some music for the boys in the living room and they run dancing around the coffee table.

The story only gets written because you hire a nanny–a Dutch girl from your hamlet who makes homemade pasta noodles and laughs with all of her upper body and brings crafts to do with the boys. She brings her keyboard and songs fill the insides of your walls and she makes you mugs of tea and you call her Angel.

But even as the characters begin to form on the screen in your Word document, even as the plot thickens and you try to avoid those excessive adverbs and cliche descriptions, you hear the boys laughing outside the office door.

And you miss them. Your house is full of children but they’re no longer climbing all over you, they’re climbing all over somebody else, and you wonder if they aren’t the greatest story your life is writing?

These four boys whose noses and legs never stop running, who never get enough stories at bedtime, who always want more songs and more snuggles and more glasses of milk and more of you.

boys in the corn

All you’ve ever wanted is to be a published author and now you have the chance and you can’t help thinking, this isn’t what life is about.

It’s incredible to be able to make up stories but it’s even more incredible to live them. To hear the words tumbling from your child’s mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight as you lie beside him in his bunk-bed. “Some flashlights are small, and some are big, and some are tiny and some are huge,” he says as he slips his hand into yours there in the dark.

Catherine Wallace writes, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

Yes, I write books, but I don’t make a living from them. I make a living from being a mother and a wife, from nurturing life and love through the main characters of my story: the Dutch-German man I fell in love with back in Bible School, the one who converts his car to run off vegetable oil, who cans his own salsa and snowboards mountains. Who hikes up his pajama pants and dances for me in the middle of the living room, who throws his boys on the bed and eats their tummies, who downloads Parenthood for me and goes geocaching with me and kisses me like he means it.

And the two Filipino boys who now only visit us once a month because they’re back with their mama, and she thanks me every week for saving her life last year, and my biological sons–the ones I wasn’t supposed to be able to have–who make me feel famous every time I enter a room. Who squish my cheeks together in their dimpled hands and say, “I lah you Mama.”

This, friends–this is the story worth telling. The one we’re in.

novel ad

I am honored to be giving away my debut novel, A Promise in Pieces--which releases this month–today to you friends… it’s about a woman like me, named Clara, who loves passionately while struggling to believe she is loved.

From the back cover: “It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.”

If you want to win one of two copies, just leave a comment below and we’ll choose two winners within the week. Otherwise, you can download a free chapter and purchase the novel HERE.

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

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  1. Leslie says

    Emily, your words here resonate with my soul as I read them this morning! What a God given perspective on life. My life drastically changed last year after we adopted two beautiful, energetic toddler siblings and became first time parents. I would be lying to say it’s been all good and easy. God is shedding the old of my heart, and making my desires for this life line up with what He calls “success” and a “good life”!! For me that has certainly meant less slow morning with hot coffee, and changes like a break from my ministering on the worship team at church, but more serving our lil ones in return for the best love imaginable!! Keep up writing, but (puhleese!) for the sake of the call keep up loving these children the way your heart wants to!!
    I would so enjoy this book, too. :)
    Be blessed!

  2. says

    What an encouragement this morning. “I make a living from being a mother and wife, from nurturing life and love through the main characters of my story” so well said and a great reminder of our roles as wives and mothers as we also pursue our dreams. Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to read the book!

  3. says

    “It’s even more incredible to live them” So true. May we be alive to our stories and the attentive to the precious characters in it.

  4. says

    I loved getting this back story on you. I’ve been piecing it together, post by post for the last few months. This was a great perspective on writing, motherhood, stepping up, and letting help come in. It’s such a poignant reminder for me that when we really, really let God lead us by His Spirit, we are never, ever, going to fit into a neat box. a definable role, a type, or a subgroup. It is not high school anymore. So many woman are still living out those expectations of making sure you figure out your parameter and be awesome at it “I am this…” I still struggle to do that…what am I/who am I? You always illistrate with your words that really we are just followers of Christ, who said He is not a respecter of persons. I hope your novel rocks the charts!

  5. Sarah Shore Leonard says

    I read your blog posts and am so excited to read your first novel. Thank you for always sharing your heart!

  6. says

    Emily, I have enjoyed learning more about you as I follow your blog here. I am a grandma with three beautiful DIL and as I watch them i see the challenges of parenting now. blessings on you and your boys (big and little)

  7. Pam Impson Sheldon says

    wiping away tears (as always) after reading this post! oh my, i would love to win a copy! thank you for the opportunity.

  8. Bre says

    You are such an inspiration to me! I’m a young Mother of 3 trying to find myself as a woman, mother, and follower of God. Your everyday writings honestly help me push forward, and keep my focus. Thank you for continuing to write, and for the opportunity to win the book! God bless!

    • Emily Wierenga says

      oh Bre, I’m so glad my journey encourages you… may God continue to give you joy and strength to serve him… e.

  9. Cynthia Quiroga says

    I so needed to read this post! Thank you for using the words you used and the way you used them. They were just what I needed to read.

    I will also look for the other books mentioned in the “about” at the end of the column.

    Much grace and many blessings to you,

  10. Ada LeDoux says

    I love your blog! My family uses the menu each week, and it helps to make things flow smoothly in our kitchen with two young children. I forward a lot of the articles from your blog to a good friend of mine because they touch my heart and I know they touch hers too.
    This new book looks awesome! I hope I win a copy!

  11. Kelly says

    What a great post! I work from home and I am always pulled between the work and the kids (or I type around my one year old in my lap!). Thanks for the opportunity to win your book. Sounds like a great read!

  12. Satin P says

    As I read your post, tears formed in my eyes… I’m a wife, step-mamma, career woman & writer who started a blog this past December & is trying to figure out what exactly God’s calling me to do, here & now.
    “you wonder if they aren’t the greatest story your life is writing?”
    Emily, those words brought tears to my eyes. While I can’t stay home with my stepson, we are trying to expand our family & the thought of not working & the financial burden it would bring scares me, yet it’s my ultimate hearts desire. I know that God is putting things in place all around me, preparing me for such a time… because my heart longs to be nothing more than a mother. I don’t know how He’ll do it-but I’m trusting Him to bless & enable us to take that step & walk that journey.
    Your words affirm to me my hearts call, yet challenge me my faith in God-to provide the means to walk where He sends me.
    THANK YOU for sharing your journey! Much Love ♥

    • Emily Wierenga says

      Dear Satin, I’d love to send you a copy of my novel. Can you email me your mailing address? ( Bless you sister. e.

  13. Lori says

    Your writing is inspiring and also gives me hope that I, too, may one day be able to tell my story, help others who have similar struggles, and hold my own book!

  14. Janet says

    Emily – of course I want a copy of your book! I’ve already devoured the free chapters. If it’s even possible, I like your book writing even better than your blog writing. But how very true you are today – all those things that kids say are big things to them… I still see it with my daughter – even though she’s not technically a kid anymore – who just discovered a couple of weeks ago that she has Down Syndrome – not that I ever tried to hide it from her… “Mom, I am a young adult with Down Syndrome.” She tells me everyday, now that she knows! How fun, right? Thank you for sharing this with all of us – on writing, on kids, on family! On balance!

  15. Carol Ann says

    I am sharing your blog with my daughter, who is a young mother. I remember those days. You describe them beautifully. Thank you. We would love to read your novel,btw. :)

  16. says

    Emily, this is powerful — like you, I share the dream of becoming a (traditionally) published author, but I really appreciate the reminder that what matters most is to live the story that’s right here, right now, right in front of me. xo

  17. Juli Vrotney says

    I would love to read your book. I love to read and with little ones…it is hard to make time…but every once in awhile I get to. Thanks for the opportunity and for sharing your journey.

  18. says

    Wonderful story Emily. I am sure your novel is just as lovely. I too struggle with being the ‘perfect’ mother and wanting to created a future for my children. A future free of pains and financial struggles. A future where they will not have to struggles and worry about the day to day living like I do today.

    I am glad you found your balance and was also able to open your heart to bless the lives of those two babies. I know that I am on my way to finding my balance too through God’s grace.

    Peace to all.

  19. Alecia says

    God bless you for your obedience. What a great reminder that life is bigger than ourselves and children are more precious than any dream. Thank you.

  20. MANDY says

    I don’t usually read anything that is fiction, because I only have some much time to read. I think everything you read should teach you something, but I think this book might teach me something even though it is fiction. I want so bad to just love people all the time, yet my anger comes through way more often than love, and that makes me sad. Looking forward to reading your book!

  21. SimplySaidMom says

    Emily, your words were precious today – thank you for sharing them with us! This book sounds like tears and joy wrapped up in pages of beautiful words.

  22. Heather says

    I love that Catherine Wallace quote! And reading your book would help me be more present to hear the big things my kids have to tell me.

  23. Danielle Hull says

    Your book sounds like something I can relate to! So many books and speakers just don’t deal with what I do. Looking forward to reading it! Thank you!

  24. Ava Sophie says

    I’ts an amazing story you’re living! I can relate, though I haven’t started writing a novel(yet), I’m doing other things while missing my baby girl that seems to grow up right before my eyes. Loved this description, “And you miss them. Your house is full of children but they’re no longer
    climbing all over you, they’re climbing all over somebody else, and you wonder if they aren’t the greatest story your life is writing?” and I love the quote from Catherine wallace. It’s all so true!

    I hope I get the chance to read the book– as I tend to be one of those “who loves passionately while struggling to believe she is loved”.

  25. Melissa Lynn Benham says

    I would absolutely love to win and be able to read this book. I love your story! Thank you for sharing. Please pick me as one of the winners. :)

  26. mb welch says

    It is true that you have to be ready to listen when your children want to talk…and you will have children who want to listen to you and others because they know that “stories” are important to people. The book sounds great. If I don’t win, I will definitely try to purchase it for the inspirational section at my library.

  27. Jennifer McLarty says

    Sounds like a great book! I’d love to win! Are you from Neerlandia? :) Read your “About Me” on your blog and the only Dutch hamlet I know described that way is Neerlandia, AB (and I know tons of Wierengas live there! :) )

  28. Lisa says

    This is such a good reminder to me as a mother to 4 living as a missionary in the Philippines. Bless you for welcoming those little boys.

  29. Denise says

    Wow! I am amazed by your story! I have no children but during the day I care for my nieces and nephews so I know the feeling of trying to get things done with a child in your lap or on your hip. Even yesterday, while in the throes of vertigo induced vomiting, my 2 year old nephew wouldn’t leave my side so with one hand I’m holding him trying to comfort him and with the other holding on to the trash can for dear life to steady myself. I went to this blog post for a manual thinking how to get my life together and I am walking away knowing it is perfectly stitched together by the moments God gives us. Thank you- you are a blessing!

  30. Rachel Lipford says

    I started writing a story three years ago, and in the intervening years, have added two foster children (one is adopted now and ours forever) to the two bio kids. I resonate so much with this, the desire to write and create, but also to not miss the beautiful lives being lived already. Much love to you on your publication!

  31. Adriana says

    I love reading… and I like to write too. I have enjoyed learning your story… as I can relate to some of your experiences. I love my two boys here and our child waiting for us in God’s arms. Thank you for your words and your giveaway.

  32. Katy Busse Groeneveld says

    I connect easily with this blog….all too often….reading it, saying out loud….this is my life. Thank you for reminding me daily (almost) that I’m not alone…..I’m not the only one with coffee stained overdue bills :) Thank you

  33. Lindsey Whitney says

    Wow. What a great post. I can totally relate. Thank so much for sharing. I cried as I read this. :)

  34. Robin in NC says

    Oh my gosh Emily, you touched my heart! I’m a Grandma now, but those sweet moments linger with me & the tougher ones fade into the background. Thank you for sharing!

  35. Loni in MI says

    I’ve read your words numerous years, wept and rejoiced. I’d love to hold your words in my hands to not only read but share with my readers as well. Blessings to you!

  36. Lisa Sharp says

    Sounds like a book I not only would love to read, but one I need to read.
    He is your strength. And you are blessed.

  37. says

    This post is breathtaking and so poignant for me right now. I feel like I need to print it out and hang it on the fridge. There will be later years for doing other things … right now my life is pouring into three babies. And that time is brief.

  38. Donna says

    Oh, I can remember the times I said “I can’t do this anymore.” And although my children are now adults with children of their own (and even their own grandchild on the way), there are still times I wonder how I did it.
    But you have renewed my faith in motherhood.
    And question — do you live in the Netherlands? the comment about a Dutch nanny from your hamlet brings this question to mind. We were fortunate to be able to live in Stein in southern Netherlands when my children were young.

    • Emily Wierenga says

      I don’t live in the Netherlands :) I live in a Dutch hamlet in Canada though… called Neerlandia. Bless you, friend… so grateful this post spoke to you! e.

  39. Natalie Holmgren says

    As a mom who has had 8 little ones on her lap plus a grandson…life gets really full & busy…one perk….it adds writting material to your data base though! :)

  40. Kari Soto says

    This is one of the only posts I’ve read immediately this week. I just don’t have time. I usually put them in the reading list section of my browser, or email the web address to myself with good intentions. This one hit home and I read it. Thank you so much for writing it and for taking in those baby boys. God bless you.
    Would love to win a copy of your book. Sounds like a great story.

  41. April says

    I am always wanting to add to my reading collection, especially when they have a positive Christian influence! Thank you!

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