I love stories. In fact, they’re kind of my passion. I’m delighted to point you toward a collection of stories written by women who are “of an age” — women with a few miles on them, with some hard-won wisdom and with a perspective that’s so needed in our world.

I so appreciate the stories and the beautiful women in this book. Several are friends, both on the page and in real life, and as I read each piece, I was right there with them, hearing and experiencing these “slice of life” moments.

  • entering a whole new world of adoption and horses
  • the first nudge from God to write
  • buying that first mid-life padded bra
  • braving deep waters in a kayak at an age when most of us are choosing an easy chair
  • choosing to laugh when humbled by a collision with cancer
  • when baking a cake is a sacrifice of thanksgiving

There’s so much richness here, broken down for us into “Firsts. Lasts. Always.” I could go on and on, but I yield the floor to a couple of women who have given me (and you) the gift of a window into their lives.

Heather MacLaren Johnson lives with her husband on a ranch in Wisconsin. There, they’ve raised three children, all adopted from Russia and all with special needs. Here, Heather talks about her essay on becoming a horsewoman at age 42 and why our stories matter:

I often sense God calls us to move completely into our unknown, completely out of our comfort zone, not knowing what He will/might do with our obedience. Before Anna, my daughter, developed a love of horses, horses were not on my radar. I’ve always loved animals and loved living with a dog. Horses? Never even thought of them. Then came Anna. Then came horses. Our daughter introduced an animal into my (our) lives that I had no idea would usher me into an intimate experience with God in such a way that I’d learn, first-hand, God’s great love for the wounded, for the abandoned, for the invisibly needy of His healing. Horses are magnificent looking creatures. And so are humans. Yet, even the most magnificent in appearance can be he most needy of love, true love.  Through our daughter’s love of horses, I came to realize my own need to be loved. I came to realize my own love to be loved would only come through loving another’s need to be loved. Daughter with invisible disabilities. Horse with invisible disabilities. Me with invisible disabilities. You?  Don’t we all need to be loved for who we are and not for what others see? This is why I wrote this story. Whether we’re women or men, whether we’re over 40 or under 40, knowing that we’re completely loved for who we really are, apart from how we may appear, is what we all most want, really. It’s important that women over 40 share their perspectives because we’ve lived more of life than those younger, right? Not that age necessarily equals wisdom. But there is something to be said for those who have lived more of life, who have been broken and smoothed by trials that perhaps gives us something to say that might help our younger brothers and sisters stay the course toward a true life with God. God’s will is that we finish our course, that we allow Him to finish us, to complete us, to make us ready for our meeting with Him at the altar, all perfect as we always have wished to be perfect. Our individual stories of our journey help all of us keep on keeping on until that final day when we will all meet Him face-to-face. Who doesn’t want to hear our Lord say, ‘Well done, faithful servant’?

Leslie Leyland Fields is a a fisherwoman and a lifelong writer. Her essay about taking a turn on stage in a community theater production (and so much more) is one of my favorites in the book. The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over 40 is Leslie’s brainchild and she is the editor. These are her comments from the introduction of the book.

These are indeed the Wonder Years. In writing and compiling this book, I have been astonished and inspired by my fellow writers. I know you will be as well, but we have another audience in mind too. We’re taking up the mantle the apostle Paul gave us in Titus 2:3-5, for “older women” to “teach what is good” to “younger women.” All of us in these middle and later years have gained a storehouse of memories and experiences that surprise us in their depth and breadth. We find ourselves, unexpectedly at times, experts in a whole host of areas: We’re mothers and grandmothers, wives, mothers-in-law, and step-mothers. We’re professionals. We’re farmers and fisherwomen. We’re pastors, writers, teachers, ministry leaders. As we have learned, stumbled, and grown, we must pass on all that is good and true to those coming behind us. Many of us had no such encouraging voices as we lurched through our own earlier years. We send these notes on to you, our younger sisters, with joy and love. We commit ourselves to easing your passage as well!

I have two copies of this book and I’d like to send a copy to two readers who would hold and treasure it for the gift that it is — a gift of life and inspiration. Please leave a comment below and, if you’d be so kind, share this blog post with your friends on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’ll draw a name from those who comment here and on social media through Monday. Feel free to snag and share this beautiful image as you send good thoughts about The Wonder Years out into the cyber-world.