God has a way of piecing together His promises in ways we would never expect. In her debut novel, A Promise in Pieces (Quilts of Love series from Abingdon Press/April 15, 2014/ISBN: 9781426758850/$13.99), Emily T. Wierenga presents the story of two women who met under the worst of circumstances but were able to turn their grief into healing for those they came into contact with.
Q: Most authors draw inspiration in some form from an event or person in their own life. What personal connection do you have with A Promise in Pieces?
I connect with the main character, Clara, who is a very broken person. She’s a pastor’s daughter, like me, who’s disillusioned about religion and desperate to encounter God for herself. As I wrote in my memoir, which is coming out this coming summer, I needed to get away from home in order to realize God had been there the whole time. My relationship with God was also restored upon returning home to care for my mum (who had brain cancer). I’ve also battled infertility and miscarriage and could relate to Clara’s fear of loss.
Q: Up until now, you’ve written non-fiction titles, especially on the topic of motherhood. Has writing a novel always been a dream of yours?
Yes, it has. My bedside table is full of a stack of library novels I never make it through. I love a good literary read where you can dive into the characters’ minds, and it’s always been my dream to write one.
Q: Tell us about the quilt in A Promise in Pieces. What was it about the quilt that brought healing to the hearts of all those associated with it?
The quilt in A Promise in Pieces is filled initially with the names of babies born to women following World War II, as a way to honor their dreams for their children, as well as provide a family (or sorts) for the widow who donated the quilt, Mattie. It also serves as a comfort for Clara’s mother, who lost multiple children through miscarriage. Eventually the squares of the quilt are also filled with names of sons who’ve been lost to war, and it becomes a memorial that is eventually archived in the National World War II Museum.
Q: Were you able to talk with any World War II nurses to gain insight into what life would have been like for your main character, Clara, during the war?
I watched a few interviews online of nurses who had been through World War II, and I also read extensively.
Q: Clara fled from both her pastor father and the church when she left for the war because she tied the two together. Do you think one of the reasons so many young people are leaving the church today is because of something that happened at home? What can parents do differently?
Well, I would hate to blame it on parents, as I myself am a mom now and know how hard it is; parenting is truly the hardest calling, extremely vulnerable and reliant on grace. However, I know my own relationship with the church was greatly affected by my relationship with my father — who was the pastor of the church. I do think God intended for family and marriage to be a representation of the unity of the Trinity and the kind of love that is possible if we lean on one another. When those relationships are broken, it’s hard to continue to have faith in a loving heavenly Father. So yes, the two are interlinked, more than we know, and family and parenting are divine callings that have a holistic effect on our children. Nevertheless, God is bigger than our mistakes and can redeem the most broken of relationships.
Q: Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, Clara remained a “good girl” out of fear. Do you think we tend to live our Christian lives out of fear of God rather than living in His love and a life that serves Him?
Absolutely, yes, I believe one of the greatest tragedies of modern-day Christianity is having the wrong kind of fear. We fear man when we should fear God. Perfect love casts out fear of man, and it creates an “awe” of God that brings us to our knees in humility and worship.
Q: Speaking of fear, the fear of losing someone you love plays a major role in the relationships between several of your characters. Certainly losing someone is something we all must face at a point in time, but how can we overcome that fear so it doesn’t cripple us and keep us from loving relationships?
I would not have been able to answer this question before my recent trip to Uganda and Rwanda where I met countless women, men and children who’d lost loved ones to the war and genocide. Having seen their faith in a God who is beyond time, who holds every lost person in his arms, who promises life everlasting in heaven — a life where there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more loss — I know now it is possible to continue to live, and believe, and hope, in spite of loss. And all because of heaven.
Q: What is the one thing you hope readers will take away from reading A Promise in Pieces?
I hope readers find the courage to love after reading A Promise in Pieces.
Q: Every Quilts of Love author donates a quilt to an organization. Your donation will be to the World Help Organization. Can you tell us more about your involvement with their ministry and your recent mission trip to Uganda and Rwanda?
Yes, I was a blogger with World Help — a Christian humanitarian organization — on a recent trip to Uganda and Rwanda, where we met with orphans, widows of the genocide and former child soldiers, and saw how God was using World Help to equip them with homes, clean water, churches, skills and a future. We are currently hoping to adopt a little girl through Destiny Villages of Hope in Kampala, Uganda, and I want to donate my quilt to Mama Evah who runs the Villages, so she can continue to blanket the babies she saves from the slums. You can read more about the trip here: http://worldhelp.net/bloggers/trips/africa-2014/.