Long Days of Small Things, Book Review {Tool 18}

Anxiety as a mom is no joke. I used to be in this camp of people who thought, as long as you pray and trust God more, you shouldn’t have a problem with worry. But then I struggled with hormonal imbalance while simultaneously some deep-seated issues rose to the surface and I found that belief challenged.

Through treating my physical health with rest, breathing exercises and supplements, emotional health with counseling, and spiritual health through God’s word and some other resources, I finally began to feel at peace again. Life is complex. Trusting God with it is a crucial part of healing, but not the only piece to the puzzle.

Two of the roots of my anxiety were found in the belief that all the physical need-meeting I was doing as a mom didn’t matter spiritually, and that I by careful parenting could ultimately control my children’s destinies.

God used the book Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNiel to radically change my view on both those beliefs and to help me let go of the gnawing anxiety that kept me from enjoying my children.

She writes,

The beckoning my heart heard is not to run off into seclusion, shrouding myself in prayers and candles until I find him – as much as I would enjoy that, and as true a calling as it is for some women. No, for mother and householders everywhere, the beckoning is to go back into the flesh-and-blood world of crumbs in the car seat and missed-nap tantrums – and find him there.

Right where he met us in the first place.

Catherine explores Christ’s humanity and how he came down into this messy world and lived fully human to show us who God is, right in the middle of our seemingly mundane lives. This practical life we lead is consecrated by his presence within it. I felt seen and heard as a mother in the most touching way. Jesus loves my messy life, where I’m covered in snot and applesauce and spend the afternoon folding yet more laundry. He’s not waiting for me to move on into another season before he can show up in my life. No, he’s in the now.

Day 18From her chapter on sacrifice and surrender:

We kick and scream against those things we hate and fear but cannot change – but God invites us to let go and find his presence in this moment.

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.

This summer I soaked in this book during our family vacation – a week I hovered on the cliff of anxiety and fear over my children falling off the pontoon boat, bugging my in-laws while they tried to sleep, or slipping into the deep end of the pool. God spoke to me so clearly: If it’s my will that one of your children drowns in the swimming pool, there’s nothing you could do to stop that.

As crazy as that statement sounds, it’s what jolted me to the reality that I can’t control my children or their choices. I need to surrender to him.

Catherine lists 9 spiritual themes such as redemption, creation, service, perseverance, celebration, etc, and within those themes gives the reader practical disciplines to help her refocus on God in the middle of the long days and small things. Those disciplines include things like changing diapers, cooking for your family, breathing, disciplining, practicing routine, and noticing life around you.

This book blends the poetic, the spiritual and the practical in an incredibly beautiful way. It made me cry and underline and reread and journal all the way through it.

And PS, I bought it the moment I saw its cover. I’m pretty sure God is the one who organized my “Suggested Books” section on Amazon that day. Sensing a theme with my books of the year?

God is so kind and so wise. He knows just what we need.

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