When my sister-in-law gave me this little book for Easter, I thanked her and added it to my stack of books to be read. I was in no particular hurry, but thought it seemed pleasant enough. I expected to skim through it and then swap it at the book swap when I was done. But I think I just may keep it for days when I need a little encouragement. Thanks, sis!
The book is subtitled, “Prayers for Every Season of a Woman's Life”, and aptly so. Stroud has the heart and experience to touch on many topics that affect us as women. There are the obligatory, expected topics, like expecting a baby, retirement, guilt and forgiveness. These are nice, but I was hoping to find something uplifting on the topic of miscarriage, a loss I experienced last Autumn. While this was not touched upon, loss of a spouse was. It's not quite the same, but loss is still loss.
Still, there were a few surprises that hit close to home and touched my heart. One of my favorites was the prayer for shopping with a daughter! How many times have I looked forward to an outing with my preteen daughter, only to have one of her hormonal mood swings move in like a Category 4 hurricane, darkening the time I carved out so carefully just for us girls? The prayer Stroud wrote was honest . . . and helped me feel like I am not the only mom who loves to take her daughter out, yet worries about how the day will go.
There were a couple of prayers regarding work, both at home and on the job, and the attitude we as women can have towards it. So often in our society we are expected to go to a good college and earn a degree, and apply that degree to a career. Yet, our modern economy limits even willing workers, both men and women, because we no longer live in the corporate ladder era of our parents. Hard work and determination aren't always rewarded. As a woman, I know that I would rather be home, caring for my family, making sure the house is ever-clean and tidy, germ-free and cozy. I know I could cut costs if I stayed home full-time, cooking and organizing more. But the savings would not pay the mortgage, that's for sure! How many days have I been frustrated in going to a job (any job, not necessarily my current one) that while generally satisfying, is not my heart's deepest desire of hearth and home. This book encouraged me that while I do need to go out each work day to support my family, my job does not need to be the source of my self-esteem and self-worth! It's so easy to forget that, when so much in our culture is fairly screaming at us to find “meaningful” employment. Yes, I can and should find a certain level of meaning in my work at my job when I can – I enjoy helping people and being able to participate in the care of the elderly, for instance. However, my main sense of self and joy must come from how I spend my time off the clock and with those I love dearest.
The book is from Discovery House publishers, first published in 1998 in Great Britain, then in paperback in January 2010. (Readers will find a little bit of language difference, but these are mainly nuances. A handful of cultural-specific references are defined briefly in an appendix.) I was unable to find an ISBN # on this book (possibly due to its British roots?). The bar code simply read E3498. Read cover to cover, it's a brief read. I would say this took about a week, in between other books and magazines I was reading.