He’s Got the Whole Wide World in His Hands–Really

This past Friday after reading ATLAS GIRL: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look, by Emily T Wierenga, I sat on the steps that lead to my office. Thinking. Praying.

Completely blown away by Emily’s memoir.

I’m honored to be part of a blog tour to share the news of ATLAS GIRL, but for me, the book was so much more than that.

Staring at the cover, I remembered my own childhood–those family shaped places in my heart that sometimes still throb.

Growing up, I tried to hold our world together. I tried to hold us together.

In March of 1968, my mother gave birth to twin boys. My sister and I were thrilled. We’d each have our own baby to feed and dress–what fun!

But nothing stays the same for very long, does it?

Especially in families.

As our babies grew into rambunctious little boys, I thought …

If I try hard enough, I can fix my family. 

I can …

Run fast enough to catch my brothers and make them behave

Lighten my mother’s load so she can smile

Be smart enough to impress my busy father.

I had no clue our family would break in almost every possible way.

When my brothers were 15, Daddy died with a brain tumor. There was a suicide attempt,  mental illness, homelessness, prison, and addictions. When I was 34, I broke. I couldn’t hold my world together any longer. I experienced clinical depression and wrote about it here for Guideposts.

So this past Friday afternoon, I sat on the steps thinking.


Emily’s memoir is real and raw, and yet there’s hope and healing too.

Flipping through the pages, I re-read something I’d underlined.

Page 221:

“…The thing about God is, he sees the big picture. And that big picture is framed by grace and it includes us in it, and he cares more about refining our character and our spirits than he does about acknowledging our feelings. Sometimes he risks us not liking him for the sake of the bigger picture. For the better picture.”

God cares more about refining our character and our spirits …

Could it be …

The jagged places

The messiness

The sickness

The crooked lines I couldn’t straighten

Are somehow part of God’s bigger better picture?

Then I imagined His strong hands holding my lopsided world 

And my family.

Thank You, Lord. You’ve got the whole wide world in Your hands.

So I can keep letting go.

 Emily’s incredible book trailer …

Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. You can grab a copy here.

ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go to Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel. Find our more and connect with Emily on her blog at www.emilywierenga.comor find her on Twitter and Facebook.




  1. Thank you Julie for spreading the promise and hope found in God. In all things, He has us in His hands. Our stories of finding God in our personal broken places provides hope and Him to those seeking the strength. Blessings.

  2. lenora gambrell says:

    Oh my!!! I have experienced almost all of the above from my oldest son, since my youngest son died. I told God i knew he saw the whole picture when my son was sick but had no idea how horrible things would really get. I still keep believing he has the bigger picture in sight. We just got a contract (the house we built while my son was sick) and are planning our move to the beach in the next month. I am scared to death but we have been married 34 yrs and have always wanted to do this. Hopefully God’s picture for our future is beautiful with our marriage stronger than ever.

    • Ohhhh, Lenora…I can sense a little fear (just a tad) but so much hope, excitement, and expectancy in your ‘voice.’ I’m SO glad you’re getting to move, my friend. I’ll be praying for your journey.

      No other way but to believe He sees the bigger picture, is there?!

      All my love. Coffee. Soon. I mean it.


  3. lenora gambrell says:

    I will put this on my list to read at the beach:)

  4. Tears. I am SO moved by how similar our stories are, but more than that–how kindred you and I are. Oh girl. Yes. He’s got the whole world in His hands. The whole broken, painful world, and He’s healing it, one loving breath at a time. Love you so, sister.

    • I know, Emily. In my mind and heart, I see us meeting one day. We’ll talk and talk and talk. And hug too!

      I love you. I’m sooooo proud of you. I’m cheering for you–constantly. You were faithful. His love shines through you to so many.

  5. Anna Haney says:

    WOW! I have a coworker who so desperately needs to hear this, but she has hardened her heart so badly, I don’t think it would make a difference to her. Emily’s words are so true. Thank you, dear friend, for sharing this and for your constant encouragement. Love you

    • Wonderful, Anna! So glad–I’ll be praying for your coworker.

      And thank you right back. You encourage me so much more than you can imagine.

      Love you too!

  6. Wow. Beautiful.

  7. I am so glad you linked to your story in Guideposts. I’d never read it before and it blessed me very much. I, too, went through a struggle with depression in my mid-thirties. I lived in a gray fog for two years. God, wonderfully, met me in that darkness and showed me His treasures there.

    • Elizabeth….one fine day, we’ll have to meet. We have so much in common. I’ve heard of lots of women going through it in their thirties. And you’re absolutely right–there are treasures there–things we wouldn’t discover in the light of day.

      Thank you, my friend.

  8. the best part about family is, in all of the mess God is greater

  9. Emily’s trailer is terrific. Touching and heart-wrenching. Can’t wait to read the book.

    It sure is comforting to know that God has us, even in the most tumultuous times of our life.

    • Ohhhhhh, her book, B.J. I just can’t say enough…..

      Thanks for reading (always) and commenting (always) and for being my friend.

  10. Wow, Emily, your book sounds like something I HAVE to read. Thank you for sharing Emily with us, Julie!

  11. Shelley Elaine says:

    Beautiful, poignant post…so true Julie…so true…looking forward to reading Emily’s book

  12. Patricia Martin says:

    I love the sweet pic of you four! With the world in God’s hands, all we have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride! I am a first born as well, and it can be hard, especially when you are the only first born in your immediate family.(): Happy Fourth of July to you and your family-hope you have a safe and great holiday with lots of laughs! (((((((((:
    Patricia (:

    • I know, Patricia–that picture! I just love it.

      A first born too! So you understand. 🙂

      And you have a wonderful Fourth tomorrow too! So much love to you, my friend.

  13. marci says:

    Your blog touched so many of us.. So many Kindred Spirits. It touched me deeply– I want to read that book., even though I feel I should brace myself as it could get very emotional..

    This week was a treat. DGP had you as the writer for 6/30, then 7/1, and I am also reading from a DGP 1987 and enjoying your mom’s writings.

    I feel a kinship with you. I’m oldest. I too became as much a mother as sister to my little brother.. Our family also broken. As we become caregivers, we take so much on our shoulders, as if we have to keep the waters smooth and try to keep the pieces together. We try to be the fixers and it is a trait that is hard to break… . Also realizing that all we have been through also plays a part in God’s plan for us. Let me make us stronger and not weaker, See that it was God who had His hand on us all that time. Thank you !

    • I’m smiling, Marci. Yes, the book is emotional. Very good way to describe it. I just so admired Emily’s honesty.

      I couldn’t believe I was back-to-back with DGP! I had no idea they were doing that. 🙂 Such a fun thing to discover.

      Hugging you from here–you DO understand. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Loved reading your words just now.

      Blessings to you and yours.


  14. marci says:

    An oops! it should say “To make us stronger and not weaker.

  15. I remember singing “He’s got the whole world in His hands” when I was a little girl. I believed it with all my heart. When my mom and our little girl, Kristin, moved to heaven, I felt orphaned by the Father and I questioned- His Sovereign love and grace. I love that phrase- He sees the bigger picture- That is what He has lovingly, patiently, taught me and continues to teach me! Without the pain and struggles- we wouldn’t experience His awesome power and transforming love. He is Good and He’s got the whole world in His hands. Thanks for sharing this Julie. I’ve downloaded Atlas Girl and I’m waiting for a quiet weekend to read it! hugs sweet sister who writes truth and light!

    • Amen, my friend, Cindy. Amen! And I love how you said that your mom and little sister moved to heaven. Wow. So sorry……..

      It takes years to come to the place where we begin to accept His sovereignty. And I want to stay here–and never question Him again. I pray I stay close, Trusting.

      I’m so glad you got Atlas Girl. I said in an earlier comment that my mother bought copies for her Bible study group. 🙂 She read my copy in a day…and after she finished it she called and just said, “Wow. What is there to say? This book…”

      Love you. Wish we could meet each other one day!

  16. Anna Haney says:

    I ordered the book on Wednesday. It arrived yesterday and I could hardly put it down. IT was wonderful. WOW! Thank you for introducing this book to me.
    Hope you have had a good holiday weekend

  17. Julie Garmon says:

    Great Anna!! Bet you’ll love it! Xo

  18. Kathryn Richardson says:

    Speaking of going home…I just did this 4th of July week-end for an All Class Reunion. So many places have changed. Sad, but, a lot of happy memories. After leaving home, I have had a lot of ups and downs, but, I have always had faith and hung in there. You spread so much joy, Julie! I too read Daily Guideposts and feel as if I know all the writers personally. Look forward to the new one for 2015 to see what has been happening in everyone’s lives.

    • Julie Garmon says:

      Your comment is so kind, Kathryn. Thank you. Loved reading your thoughts–about going home again. Xo

  19. I need to write another book Julie to address this. The photograph so emotional and foretelling even with our dinky camera. Jennifer peeping. Both of you embracing your assigned baby. Forty eight years ago and today. Graciously. Lovingly. I too sang that song “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” decades before I dared to believe it just might be true. We did get broken. Our family. So broken. But the anguish surely drove us one by one to our Father. He embraced us right away. Tightly. I love this blog and that you had the freedom to reach out with truth. Truth always fascinates me. Truth sets us free. God has given you such a heart for hurting people. Even your mother. Bless you sweet child. I love you,Jennifer, Jon and Jeremy. goodness I love y’all.

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