International Women’s Day is nearing its end, but I still want to celebrate a little bit my most favorite way: with books!
Books written about girls who solved mysteries, conquered fears, and persevered through life’s hang ups formed my childhood. The characters became my friends in my inner life. From Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s adventures across the prairies to Trixie Belden‘s inquisitive mind which solved local mysteries, accompanied by her strawberry blonde hair and quick temper (which I may or may not have related to), I saturated myself in their worlds. Even today, I am grateful for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple who delights me with her wisdom and gentle advice all while locking up murderers left and right. (see my Instagram post for evidence!)
And yet beyond the women who populate my fiction, I am coming to appreciate and adore the works of women today who are writing about women, for women, and lifting up women in our society in the non-fiction context. I personally have felt empowered by their work and I would like to share two books in particular which debuted this month AND I want to give one of each away!! (Read to the end to find out how you can win!)
Thanks for that!
On March 1, Brave is the New Beautiful by Lee Wolfe Blum hit the shelves. I read Blum’s first book, Table in the Darkness last year and was stunned by her ability to tell a story. I felt as if I was immersed in her experiences growing up and as a young woman struggling with anxiety and an eating disorder. So much was relatable to me. I am eager to share with you her new book!
Brave is the New Beautiful is a collection of stories of women who are brave as they live the lives they have been given. Through her gift of storytelling, Blum shares the circumstances and experiences of the women and then reflects on how each one was brave. She also weaves her own experiences and questions with authenticity and grace, allowing us to see her and a bit of ourselves in her words.
Through Brave is the New Beautiful, Blum redefined beauty and bravery for me.
I have been telling my kids for over a year that we are brave when we are scared, but we do it anyway. Blum affirmed this message and then added to it. Beauty is not defined by or limited to our appearance. Beauty is the result of the risks we take when we are brave.
Women face unique challenges. From fertility, to working from home, to breast cancer, to eating disorders, to anxiety and depression, men do not experience the world the same way women do. We may hear stories of faith, doubt, and trust from the pulpit from a man’s perspective when there are times we really need to hear it from a female point of view.
Without giving answers, but inviting us to ask questions about God, ourselves, and others, Blum gives us the opportunity to explore our faith – and our fears – as women. Through Brave is the New Beautiful, she tells the stories of women who are brave – women who are beautiful – and invites us as readers to consider how our stories are similar or different. She offers perspectives on God’s care for us in the midst of our circumstances. And she encourages us that we, in our messy, complicated, emotional, upside down lives are also strong, courageous women of faith as we navigate our lives.
On March 7th (just yesterday!), Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNeil came out!
This book is the book I was looking for 8 years ago when I became a mom and I find it just as encouraging today. After years in seminary studying theology and the Bible, I suddenly found myself changing diapers 8 times a day, breastfeeding for 8 hours a day, and questioning my calling as a mom, God’s presence in my life, and my ability to even pray considering my sleep deprived body and mind. I see my story in McNiel’s as she too struggled to connect with God and sought His work in Her life.
Her resolution surprised me, the first time I heard it:
“I cling to a deep and certain conviction that motherhood is in and of itself a spiritual practice – that the Creator of wombs and breasts placed deep spiritual fruit into the seasons and tasks of motherhood.” (p. xvi)
While I love the classic spiritual practices and have sought to incorporate them into my life as a mom, McNiel sees motherhood as a spiritual discipline that brings us close to God in itself.
McNiel has a gift of thoughtfully exploring the experiences of everyday motherhood and connecting it to rich theology. Questions I struggled with as an early mom, such as “Do these mountains of diapers matter?” and “Does anyone see what I am doing every day?” are taken seriously and answered with hope and encouragement.
Not only does Long Days of Small Things explore abstract thoughts about God and moms, but McNiel ties us to God in our everyday lives by suggesting ways to be mindful of God’s presence with us, his message to us, and his love for us as we live. Things I would never have considered spiritual, like household tasks, driving, and even menstruation are given a new perspective as practices that can transform us and draw us closer to God.
Long Days of Small Things is an excellent book and I recommend it for any Christian mom. And with Mother’s Day coming up, it’s never too early to buy (or give) a gift to a mom in your life! 😉
Now the moment you have been waiting for – the giveaway! In celebration of International Women’s Day, I am excited to give away not one of these books, but both of them to one winner!!
To be entered in the drawing to receive these books, just leave a comment! For a second entry, share this post on your favorite social media (and be sure to leave a comment letting me know you did). It’s that simple!
Each of the links above are affiliate links. If you purchase through the link I will receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting me through your purchases!
I received a copy of each of these books for an honest review.