By Caitlyn Carlson
Hello, friends! I’m an editor at NavPress and also the mother of an irrepressible two-year-old boy named August. I love being an editor because it means I get to spend my days engaging with rich, challenging, encouraging biblically based resources.
I’m thrilled to introduce you to two wonderful authors here today, as well as their books. Both of these women and their words have impacted my life profoundly as a mom and follower of Christ. I believe you will be blessed by them too.
Long Days of Small Things:Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline by Catherine McNiel
I first encountered this book when I was great-with-child. I was eight months pregnant and longing for a book on motherhood that honored our unique calling and also offered spiritual depth. A lot of Christian books for mothers that I’ve read tend to be lighthearted, or skim the surface spiritually, or add “one more thing” you can do to be a better Christ-follower while you’re a mother. But I wanted more. And that’s when Catherine McNiel’s book landed in my lap.
Catherine offers a unique perspective amidst a “do more” culture: She points us toward how God has uniquely created us as mothers, and the immense spiritual value he has placed in motherhood. As the subtitle says, motherhood itself is a spiritual discipline, used by God to refine us and draw us closer to Him. With beautiful writing and a tender heart for mothers, Catherine gently calls us to see how God is working in the midst of our everyday lives and how we can connect with him right in the middle of dirty diapers and screaming toddlers. Many a night while I was up breastfeeding my newborn, I would think back to Catherine’s words and be reminded to meet with God in the midst of that solitude and silence. It was an encouragement and a reminder that my loving Father is with me wherever I am.
These particular words from the book spoke deeply to me, reminding me of a scary season during pregnancy:
On my very first day of motherhood, I felt my heart pound in dread as the doctor declared my pregnancy high risk, with a likelihood of early miscarriage. My pregnancy-test emotions, swinging between shock and excitement, took a hard detour toward debilitating panic.
As I stood in my living room, I realized what choosing a life of love-induced anxiety would entail. It meant that, should I make it through the first trimester, there were two more trimesters to worry through. It meant that anything and everything could go wrong during labor and delivery. It meant that infants were so vulnerable, that SIDS was never out of the question. It meant my growing child would teeter toward swimming pools and busy highways, dangerous addictions and extreme sports. Should I decide to worry now, there would never be a finish line where I could safely conclude the project. Prenatal worry, even when warranted, was the beginning of a life sentence.
And so, with one hand outstretched to God and the other embracing my belly and the too-tiny-to-see cells that are now my ten-year-old son, I made a decision: surrender. Today, in that moment, I was a mother. There was life inside me that, with the help of God, I had created. Whatever might come, in this moment I would rejoice, I would be present, I would open my heart to all the dangers and joys of love and life for as long as I had them.
In motherhood, we meet the spiritual discipline of surrender up close and so very personally. But take heart, mama. Surrender is not a promise that our hands will always be open—it simply means granting God eternal permission to pry open our clenched fists.
Almost There by Bekah DiFelice
Although I was born into a military home, I never had to face the uprootedness that so often comes with it. A lot of you have known that kind of life as Nav staff—pulling up roots, starting over, again and again. And all of us, whether we are still in our hometown or find ourselves moving on a regular basis, can struggle with the impermanence of home. We might struggle with a sense of not belonging, of believing that the home of friendship and relationship is just out of our grasp. We might wonder if this new place we’ve landed in will ever feel familiar. Home is an ever-shifting thing in this world of ours.
Bekah DiFelice wrote this book over the course of several years and moves with her Marine husband. It’s a profound, relatable, encouraging look at home—and a reminder that our hope of home is rooted in an unchangeable God. Exploring themes such as family, church, marriage, pregnancy, and community, Bekah peels away the layers of the things we might find our home in and leads us toward where God is in the midst of our journeys.
It’s an extraordinary book—the first time I read it, when I was supposed to be editing, I mostly found myself highlighting things and saying, “Yes, this.” Bekah has wisdom beyond her years and a vulnerability and hope that’s contagious. (And, fun fact, Bekah is the daughter-in-law of Navigators Kevin and Katie DiFelice!)
It’s hard to find a short excerpt to include in this piece because all of it is so good. But I’ll limit myself to this:
I think that by nature we are agitated by this restlessness, by the enigma of belonging. We’re pestered by the notion that people and places and things are all important pieces of home but not the whole thing, at least not in themselves. Deep down we know there is a permanence of home that exists somewhere. There is a whisper of eternity that beckons in the heart of every one of us (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So it seems, almost by necessity, that home must expand beyond its physical definition and broaden into a more spiritual one. This, I think, is when the real search for home begins, when we look for Home in its singular, uppercase form, when we pursue it as a permanent destination, an orienting landmark amid the impermanence of everything else.
I don’t presume this is the case for everyone, but in my experience the pursuit of home has been a pursuit of God—because I need to know that peace and rest can be found in every place I am, that there is reason and rightness beneath the chaos of my days. I need a spiritual home so that when former iterations of home expire, I’m still assured that a deeper belonging holds fast. I need a Home that ministers to me the same way the tug and pull of an anchor murmurs solace to a ship: Take heart, restless one. You aren’t adrift after all.
Books are most valuable when they point us toward our true Home, the Father who sees us and loves us and wants to call us into deeper relationship with himself. Both of these books have done that in my own life, as a mom, a wife, a friend, helping me see where God is working in every step that I take. I pray they do the same for you!
Caitlyn Carlson is an acquisitions editor at NavPress. Outside of work, she enjoys reading thrillers, hanging out with her awesome husband, and chasing after an energetic toddler.