Transformation is often hard, the dramatic change in form or appearance from one phase to another. I’m no butterfly, gracefully shifting from creeping grub to bright-winged wonder. But for me, September is all about change as my two oldest children head to college, another begins high school, and my two youngest ride to school for the first time. After two decades of full-time mothering and nearly as many years of homeschooling, this season is full of transformation.
One way I prepared was by reading Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives (Paraclete Press, 2017), by the Redbud Writers Guild, of which I am a member. With 41 essays, personal stories and poems written by Christian women from around the US and beyond, the anthology reflects on the many dramatic changes women experience – from the rootlessness of moving, to overcoming fear, to trusting God, to the challenges of motherhood, losing a child, facing cancer and finding ones voice. Each passage is followed by a prayer and writing prompt for personal reflection or journaling.
The book’s contributors take an unflinching look at how such changes affect our faith, such as Oklahoma writer Lindsey W. Andrews essay, “Trust God with our Anger,” after the suicide of her younger brother. “We try to confine our emotions, perhaps because we are terrified of what may happen if we are honest,” Andrews writes. “Will we still believe what we have been told all our lives if allowed to question what we know? Is questioning God blasphemy?”
And Ohio writer Mallory Redmond’s words in “Stories and Scars” after the loss of a significant relationship. “What has fallen apart can be put back together—certainly not always in the way we desire or imagine, but often in a manner that teaches, strengthens, and refines us. Our scars, the ones on our hearts and our bodies, help make our stories.”
Yes, I have questioned God. And yes, I have counted my scars along my own journey of transformation. I have also, locked myself in the bathroom, desperate for a moment alone like the writer Ashley Hales; avoided filling out personality tests, like April Yamasaki; cared for a dying mother, like Adelle Gabrielson; and felt God pursuing me, like Nicole T. Walters. In reading these women’s stories of transformation, I find stories I myself have lived with the benefit of distance and insight.
So in this new phase, as I look about my occasionally empty house and settle in my writing chair to begin an exciting new project for children, I have the comforting words of other women who have walked similar paths of uncertainty, transformation and faith. From the roots to the trunk to the branches to the blossoms, a redbud has many parts, like the writers in this collection. Together they produce a lovely fragrance.
Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. She received a free copy of Everbloom from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.