Last week I said I hadn’t read any friends’ books lately, but I did read Michelle DeRusha’s “50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith.” I finished it before my vacation, and then we had a family funeral, so I never sat down to process it.
I did take time to send Michelle an email about the book: “I think one reason I liked your book is because for a lot of those women, the hard season never ended. They would never write a bestseller on overcoming in Christ. They did the best they could. That resonates with me.”
She replied back, “In many cases they simply learned to live IN the hard season and to survive it.”
As I went back through my Kindle notes, here are some of the quotes I highlighted.
Julian of Norwich: “He said not: Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be afflicted; but He said: Thou shalt not be overcome.”
Margery Kempe: “He who writes pleases me right much.”
Mary Lyon: “Be not hasty to decide that you have no physical or mental strength and no faith or hope.”
on Harriet Tubman: “God ‘knows all about mothers’ hearts; He wont break yours,’ Candace assures the bereft mother.”
on Amy Carmichael: “They yearned for success stories of hope and redemption, not the hard, unsweetened truth as Amy presented it.”
on Ruth Bell Graham: ““It was write or develop an ulcer. I chose to write,’ she admitted.”
on Flannery O’Connor: “The unseen was as real to her as the visible universe.” (and because it’s Flannery O’Connor—she gets two quotes!) “In my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.”
These quotes spoke to me personally, but in choosing to highlight these women, I left out others I already loved — Teresa of Ávila, Thèrése of Lisieux, Corrie ten Boom, Mother Teresa, Madeleine L’Engle (my writing hero).
Some of these sainted women from other centuries I’d heard of through the writings of Richard Foster. I’ve read about others on my own. But Michelle introduced me to women like Phyllis Wheatley, Pandita Ramabai, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Faye Edgerton.
These women are our heritage. Thank you, Michelle, for writing something of substance, something beyond the Christian fads. If these women all gathered for tea, they would disagree on many particulars, just not the most important thing.