GL grad details lessons learned in writing process for new book ‘A Short Walk with Emma’ | Local News

Brian H. Rhen’s new book “A Short Walk with Emma” tells the story of eight lessons that Rhen learned after the loss of his second child of five, Emma Grace Rhen. Initially written as a form of grieving, the book transformed into a way for Rhen to help others find a way through the hardships in their own lives through learning more about his family’s journey through suffering.

A 1986 Greater Latrobe Senior High School graduate, Rhen has his roots in the Latrobe area. After graduating high school he studied for his bachelor’s degree in business management at Bucknell University, graduating from the college in 1990. While Rhen cites southwest Pennsylvania as feeling “the most like home” out of the places he’s lived, in 1990 he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.

After moving to the Bay Area, Rhen became an active member within his community as a pastor at Peninsula Covenant Church, where he has been for the past 27 years. Volunteering his time, Rhen formerly assisted with Big Brothers Big Sisters and youth athletic programs as a coach. With his children growing older, he currently acts as a board member for the Malawi Children’s Mission, a nonprofit organization created to help address the growing crisis facing orphaned and vulnerable children in Malawi, Africa.

Starting in the summer of 2002, Rhen began what he calls a “20-year journey that had a 15-year delay.” That same summer he started the journey, he actually had most of the book written and publishing was the barrier holding him This, he said, was because obtaining a publisher in 2002 was a much more daunting task than it is in today’s digital climate.

Eventually though, in 2017, Rhen was able to find an editor and publisher who helped him through the process. Without her help, he does not believe he would have had the expertise or experience to get it out to the public. In the four years after meeting, leading up the January 2022 release of “A Short Walk with Emma,” the majority of Rhen’s time with the book was spent finalizing and editing its content.

With so much going on and unexpected barriers arising, Rhen had to have some form of support throughout the process, for which he credits his family. From the age of 12 on, Rhen said that his oldest daughter Sadie pushed him to find a way to get the book out there. His wife Missy and other children were endlessly supportive through the final stages of the book’s editing, he said. After finishing the book, speaking on those closest to him, Rhen said, “It was beautiful how the completed work drew relationships back together again years after having a common experience.”

Rhen that the type of reader he explained would be most interested in reading “A Short Walk with Emma” is someone who has gone through the loss of a loved one. He also added that he believes “people seeking perspective during a difficult time and those who wonder why God lets bad things happen” could take away lessons from the book. When asked what one lesson he’d want all readers to walk away with, he responded with, “We will all experience grief in some way, but these lessons if applied provide a way through the grief journey.”

“A Short Walk with Emma” can be found on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format for those interested in reading it for themselves. Other digital distributors such as Barnes & Noble and Apple carry the book as well. Rhen asks that those interested look into the Malawi Children’s Foundation and noted that 10% of the proceeds from “A Short Walk with Emma” goes toward the foundation as a donation.


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