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In Long Days of Small Things, Catherine McNiel invites moms to see motherhood as a spiritual discipline rather than busywork that keeps them from a spiritual life. Weaving biblical teaching, spiritual disciplines, and stories of motherhood, Catherine invites her sleep-deprived reader to see these daily tasks as rich spiritual practices.
Number of Pages: 224
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)|
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Dirty laundry, crayon-smeared bills, and smashed crackers . . . And theres your Bibleburied under a pile of diapers. Bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, without a moment of peace and quiet, you wonder if the spiritual life you crave is even possible. But God sees you. He designed this parenting journey, after all. He understands the chaos of motherhood. And he joins you in everythingwhether youre scrubbing the floor, nursing a fussy newborn, or driving to soccer practice. Catherine McNiel invites you to connect with God right here, in the sacred mundane of every mothering moment.
Aubs5 Stars Out Of 5GREAT READ FOR ALL MOMSApril 6, 2017AubsQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Beautifully written and full of theological truth about mothering and Jesus. This is a book that every mom should read. Catherine teaches us how to find Jesus in the midst of our daily lives, rather than making us feel guilty about all the things we moms aren't doing. It's refreshing, freeing, and such a lovely worthwhile read.
ATaylorAge: 35-44Gender: female1 Stars Out Of 5Long Pages; Little TruthMarch 27, 2017ATaylorAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 1Meets Expectations: 1Since I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Ive been extra wary of even small threads of mysticism that find their way into the fabric of a book dedicated to teaching others how to live the Christian life. One might suspect, then, that I wouldnt readily choose to review a book endorsed by her . . . but I did. By the end of this review, I think youll understand why Im glad I read Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNiel.
Perhaps my main reason for selecting this book to review is the subtitle, Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline. For better or for worse, as I stand on the precipice (hopefully) of my own foray into parenting, I wanted to know what she meant by this. The spiritual disciplines of Scripture reading and meditation, prayer, worship, service, fasting . . . these are familiar to me. I wondered how the author would nestle motherhood into this list of soul-sanctifiers. I found my answer on p. 4: Pursuing a deep spiritual life is simply not possible in this season [of motherhood], at least not in the ways we were taught. It seems the spiritual quest is one place where mothers, at least, cannot go.
Turns out, she didnt intend for motherhood to fit in that list of traditional disciplines of the Christian life. . . . my responsibilities [as a mother] rarely allow me to take a shower, much less sharpen spiritual practice. Silence and solitude? Never, ever, day or night. Prayer? Harder than youd think after years of sleep deprivation (p. 4). McNiel makes a few references to things she heard from the pulpit, things like to have a genuine commitment to knowing God, we must spend at least an hour each day in silence and solitude (p. 4). Were these pages typed in response to legalism, or to a standard she felt she couldnt meet? In the first chapter alone, I took away three things:
The author seems to view herself as a victim.
She is willingly replacing the traditional disciplines with something else (to be determined at that point in my reading).
I didnt suspect that I would finish this book.
I made it to p. 25 before giving up the ship. Here is why.
On p. 11, the author recommends emptying the mind as a good way to practice redemption. First of all, I dont even have a category for how these two things are connected. Second of all, Scripture never tells us to empty our minds; it tells us to fill it with the Word and meditations on it.
Many times in the first chapter, the author suggests that you do physical things to connect with God. An example: Be aware of your steps, the way your feet connect with the ground, the movement of your muscles in each step. Scripture says that God speaks to us, connects with us, through His Word, not the muscles contracting in our legs.
This quote: If, in becoming human, God somehow blessed the very act of being human, isnt it possible that in all these daily acts of living he left a sacred residue as well? (p. 25). What?
Ill be honest; at this point, I began skimming. Quickly, and mostly the application sections. The mystical qualities of each chapters introductory text made little sense to me, and seemed tenuous and threadbare. I chose to skip those paragraphs.
I think, ultimately, the author had small, but valuable, jewels of truth buried in the pages of this book. But you have to dig, and the two tools you need to unearth them are discernment and a solid grasp on what God requires of those who follow Him.
We should slow down and live intentionally. I agree, but I think McNiel and I believe that intentional living serves different purposes. Best I can tell, the author prescribes intentional living for the purpose of being present in every moment, and that being the end, in and of itself. I would take that a step further; we must be present in the moment, such that we can discern how best to glorify God in any given situation. On p. 32, she urges, Keep your mind on the task. But the task is empty, not life-giving. In these moments of folding laundry and sweeping floors, can the mind not settle on the Lord in prayer? turn over verses of Scripture that have been buried in ones heart?
We should use challenging circumstances as opportunities to grow. Again, I agree. But it should be remembered that the author asserts substituting things like driving, cooking, working, and sleeping for the traditional spiritual disciplines, as motherhood (according to her) does not afford one the time to pursue them. I am uncomfortable with this. If circumstances do not cause us to lean harder on the Lord and call out to Him in prayer, then are we not walking in our own strength?
We should remember our position as image-bearers of the Creator God. Yes and amen. But each time I encountered this concept in the book, it felt like a sweater that doesnt fit correctly. I could be misunderstanding the words on the page, but it seems that the authors reason to do this is to look at oneself for the miracle that one is. Yes, each human being is a miraculous creation of God! But creation should point to the Creator, right? And in seeing the Creator, one should desire to know if she, as an image-bearer, is reflecting His character properly to the world (turning to Scripture, of course, to know the depth and breadth of His character, such as a human on the earth can do).
I could go on, but I think the point is made. I am glad I read this book, because now I know not to recommend it to other women. The small bits of truth are not plentiful or readily available enough for consumption.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House.
AmyT5 Stars Out Of 5Long Days of Small ThingsMarch 21, 2017AmyTQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNiel is a wonderful book. It is refreshing and reviving for a weary mom's soul.
Are you a mom, who feels alone, under-valued, exhausted and weary? Then this book is for you. Catherine brings you through 9 chapters, of stories, encouragement, scripture and small but reviving practices. These chapters help you to realize you are not alone and that the love and life of being a mom is really a "God" thing and that you are not alone.
Read this all the way through, with whatever time you have, or read it little by little as a devotional and encouragement. Either way you will walk away, knowing that as a mom you are serving our King and doing one of the most valuable tasks on the planet and in His Kingdom.
I highly recommend this book.
Thank you Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book.
Laura Rene5 Stars Out Of 5ExcellentMarch 15, 2017Laura ReneQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I did not expect to like this book as much as I am! I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but so far it's exceeding that! What a beautiful, inspiring, and even gently convicting book! Ann Voskamp has a review quote on the cover of this book and I can see why-- it has something of the mystic/poetic prose style that she uses when she writes. This book goes deep into the soul of motherhood by using the simplest, earthiest everyday things. The author writes about the (sometimes monotonous) things we experience as mothers and encourages us to find God in them...the God who became a baby, a child, to bring us closer to Him. He is in our children today and wants us to find Him in them...and to find Him in our own weary, changed bodies as well. One of my favorite parts was when she wrote about Jesus being one of us in the messiness of life-- how He lived with and joined the normal, everyday people and talked about fish, yeast, water, taxes as He ministered and taught the kingdom of God. I mean, I know this already but somehow reading her words and seeing Jesus like that was very tender for me. I also appreciated the Catholic vein woven throughout the book even though the author herself is not Catholic-- she writes a lot about the sacramental realities...God using tactile, tangible things to give grace and spiritual meaning to our lives (reminds me of another great book I'm reading by Laura Kelly Fanucci: Everyday Sacrament). At the end of each chapter, there are several reflection and practice points to integrate into your own life. This has been a very meaningful book to me and one that I will likely read more than once.
Kendra4 Stars Out Of 5Long Days of Small ThingsMarch 14, 2017KendraQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4At times, mothers seem to be excluded from spiritual disciplines. Finding time for prayer and meditation is difficult, quiet seems impossible to come by, church worship times are spent in the nursery, study and fasting...well, it just doesn't happen for most of us. The subtitle of this book is a good summary statement for the book. Catherine McNiel invites us to consider how motherhood itself is "spiritual boot camp" and a great demonstration of spiritual discipline. In nine chapters with titles such as Consecration, Nurture, Service & Solitude, Sacrifice & Surrender, and Perseverance, McNiel teaches how these disciplines are inherent to motherhood. Each chapter includes three examples from a mother's daily life to practice that discipline. These examples include everything from breathing to breastfeeding, menstruation to sleep, household tasks to eating.
I found it helpful to think about how my daily life is and can be spiritually shaping, and encouraging to think that these "momentary trials are achieving an eternal glory that outweighs them all." (2 Cor. 4:17) The practice examples felt sort of mystical to me. Maybe the endorsement by Ann Voskamp on the cover should have given that away. =) All the mindful being and breathing and touching and so on just doesn't feel natural or particularly spiritual to me, but I can see how cultivating more of that "fully present" mindset could be helpful to me, particularly in the areas of gratitude and contentment.
Most mommy blogs and books I've read recently tend to focus on what I'd call sympathetic encouragement ("You're amazing and you're doing an amazing job even though you feel like you'll never survive." "Yay me!"). This book does some of that, but in a different way than most, since the focus is on recognizing and cultivating spiritual discipline. Even if one does not resonate with each application, I think there are insights and encouragement for everyone.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.