50 Women Every Christian Should Know: A book and giveaway

50 women via kimberlyanncoyle.com

The woman stood slightly turned from the viewer with her arm raised, and a sword in her hand. She stood naked and powerful, her body muscular and beautiful in a way we rarely see in old paintings. Most of the women look soft, painted in a favorable light and the most fashionable clothes of the day. We know them by their married names, but not this woman. She is called by her own name, Judith. She looked strong and brave, brave enough to save the Jews from their enemy Holofernes, armed with her wit and her weapon. She raises her sword and fist in triumph as Holofernes lies lifeless beside her.

My son watched a movie recently with the most ridiculous portrayal of women I’ve seen in a long time. It objectified the lead female character in a way that made me wish he’d never seen it. We had a nice long chat where I stood on my soapbox and railed about the objectification of women for a while, and he pretended to have some clue as to what I meant. When I saw this painting of Judith in a museum recently, I knew this portrait of strength and power and brilliance is what I want my son and daughters to know about women. I want them to understand that a woman’s worth is not bound up in her beauty and sex appeal or her ability to please a man. A woman’s worth is in her ability to stand strong in difficult circumstances. Her worth is in her faithfulness, her wisdom, her intellect, her ability to keep on keeping on. And if that means taking off the heads of a few men who persecute her while she’s at it–then so be it.

I don’t always know where to find these women, especially women of the faith who have gone before us and done the good and hard work of bringing the gospel to others. I want to know about the Judith’s who have gone before me and my girls, the women whose footsteps I can settle into as I walk the narrow road of faith. Who are the female pilgrims whose progress encourages me to pick up my traveler’s gear and continue on my journey of faith? Who among us, loved Jesus more than they loved life itself? These are the women I want my children to see and model their lives after.

When my friend Michelle DeRusha told me she received a contract to write a book called 50 Women Every Christian Should Know, I felt at once excited and sad for her. Excited because she had a contract, sad because she would inevitably have to sift through mountains of boring research to write it. I felt fairly certain it would kill a lesser writer, namely me. When she finished the book and sent it my way, I felt a little thrill of excitement that someone had finally done the hard work of researching and writing about these women, and I only needed to settle in and read it.

I was so, so wrong. Reading about each of these fifty women challenged me to examine my life in a way I hadn’t expected. I thought I would come away encouraged by their stories, and in many ways I have, but more than that, I came away from the book wanting more of Jesus. Wanting to make an impact right where I am with the skills and talents I’ve got. These women suffered, friends. They lost husbands and children and their reputations. They lost comfort and social standing and security. They had deep doubts, as many as you or I will ever have, and yet they clung to the belief that God had a greater purpose for their lives.

This book is fascinating. Challenging. Wonderful. And Michelle would like to send one of you a signed copy. Leave a comment below telling me which woman in your life had the most impact on your faith, and in an entirely unscientific method, my son will choose one of your names from a hat. If you can’t wait, and really you shouldn’t, can I urge you to go buy this book? Buy it for you, for your best friend, for your mother, your sister, your daughter. These are the stories we need to keep near, the stories that bear repeating, the ones that will sing us home. Let’s learn from the Judiths of this world, and allow their stories to encourage us to become Judiths too.

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The giveaway for Michelle’s book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the heroines of the faith will remain open until Thursday Sept 18th at 9pm EST.

*****Update: This giveaway is now closed. Kelli is our winner! Kelli, check your inbox for a message from me:)******

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  • Kelli

    Great resource for my 4 girls!

  • Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    I would love to have a copy of this to use as a resource (and inspiration). I love biblical women like Jael (who killed the leader of a foreign army by putting a tent peg through his head!) and the midwives who subverted pharoah’s orders to kill all of the male children.

    • I thought of Jael when I saw the painting of Judith. Someone needs to paint her in her glory too.

  • Lynden Blossom

    I was so extremely fortunate to have known my 3 Great-Gramas (who all lived to be 98, 98 and 99!) and one Grama (who lived to her late 80s) !! ALL of them were Wonderful, Godly Women…who were Precious to me and I learned much from them. My own life has been full of tragedy and rejection, but I continue – minute by minute some days – to follow the Lord who they all led me to follow. I can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for mentioning it and for the opportunity to possibly win it! Loved your article! I have struggled with the ‘old-fashioned view of a woman’s worth’ (as Nothing) in my life and relationships. Glad to see this view – 8-]

    • What a gift to have known so many godly women, Lynden! The book speaks to all those places that make us feel less than as women. Michelle highlights a number of women who accomplished so much for God’s kingdom while under severe persecution, and in a time when women did not have the choices we have today.

  • Marie Bride

    Oh Dear Kimberly,

    Is it alright if I admit I hope your son chooses me in that nonscientific
    hat drawing method?

    Now to answer your question: I read again during our long freezing
    winter The Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Avila. I was astounded by how
    easily I connected with her and even more so than the first time I read it over
    twenty years ago, that her story had never left me and always made a deep
    impression with me.

    As I was looking at my list of activities with my parish last fall I included a
    seminar where one of the speakers referred to her several times which brought
    her to my conscious mind than one day on a post on the internet someone
    mentioned something that made me post about her and a linked was than posted
    refer to her amazing book The Interior Castle.

    I was very impressed and a little envious that Michelle had the opportunity to
    write about fifty wonderful women at one time, what a challenge!

    Thank You Kimberly for this amazing opportunity and your awesome post.

    Blessings!!!

    • It surprised me how much I connected with the women in this book too, Marie. Women all across the ages, from different countries and walks of life, all connected to the same Jesus. Amazing!

  • Hi Kimberly! It IS such a great book. It was much more engaging than I thought it would be. In fact, I loved it. Just making my way through the reviews linked up at Michelle’s place.

    • Hi Mary Bonner! So great, isn’t it? Such a lovely surprise in an unassuming package!

  • Sandra Piazza

    OK, so this may sound cheesy and predictable, but I would have to say it’s Mother Teresa. I know, I know…. But whenever I find myself overthinking the everyday goings-on of faith, I remember that I just need to do the right thing anyway. When I start stressing what next steps are, I remember to simply go ahead and love others. It’s Faith 101.

    • Not cheesy at all, Sandie! She’s such an inspiration, and rightfully so! Small things done with great love really will change the world, or at least our little corner of it.

  • This is SUCH a good review, Kimberly – thank you so much for putting so much time and thought into it. I’m so glad the book challenged you – I really hope it does the same for others as well. Thank you, lovely friend.

    • I’m thrilled to be a part of it, Michelle:) Such a wonderful look at our sisters in the faith.

  • Jenna O

    What a lovely review and book! 🙂

  • Great post! I loved every single point you made about woman here. Your comment assignment is a tough one for me because I am not that close to many women. But I think me courageous woman would be my grandmother on my father’s side. And I hardly even knew her. Lots of problems and circumstances, but she left behind poems that she wrote, that she never showed anyone. Such a window into a soul that is very familiar to me. These poems remind me why I write, and it makes me grateful that her writing talent, a gift from God, like all good things, is passed to me. No matter what she loved and kept believing in Jesus.
    Cheers,
    Leah

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