In Grit and Grace: Heroic Women of the Bible, author Caryn Rivadeneira steps into the shoes of fifteen women and re-imagines their stories. With a powerful foreword by Sarah Bessey, this lovely book draws the reader right into the lives of these women, so that you become part of their stories too.
I have to say that this book is so wonderful that I read it through in one sitting. Grit and Grace certainly deserves a place in the hands of your daughters, your sons, and on the shelf in every church library. I could say much more, but I’m going to let the author speak for herself. Here’s Caryn Rivadeneira.
(Oh, and don’t miss the two-book giveaway at the end!)
It’s great to meet you, Caryn! First of all, what is one fun thing we should know about you that we wouldn’t read in your official bio?
That I love all things spooky and creepy. Like, I really love them. Of course, this means I love scary books and movies, haunted houses, and Halloween. But it also means I also love the ook-and-spook of everyday life: Clouds. Crows. Bare tree branches against gray skies.
And while my home is a sweet suburban Cape Cod and decorated in a bookish messy-cozy, if you look closely at some of the doodads around, you’ll see they’re a little off. Let’s just say: sometimes Halloween decorations become permanent décor. And yes, that is a tiny tombstone next to the stack of hymnals on the piano. And indeed, that is a bat carving on the dining room bookcase. It goes on and on.
What inspired you to write Grit and Grace?
A year-and-a-half-ago, I got an assignment to write a quick “listicle” article on the most “beautiful and feminine” names for girls from the Bible. It seemed like a fun and easy article to write, so even though I was at the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing at the time, I took the assignment. I woke up early one morning, grabbed the Gideon Bible from my hotel room, and sat at the desk intending to flip through the Bible and quickly find these beautiful names, say what they meant, tell a brief bit about the women, and turn the story in. Well, two hours later, I was still reading through the stories of these women—some with beautiful (to our ears) names and some without—but I was weepy.
There’s just something about the practice of reading the stories of these women, one after the other, that’s so moving. It brought me back to when I was seven and my mom bought me two tiny square books. One about Dorcas. The other about Naomi. I loved those books. Because I related to their stories. Simply because they were women.
The men of the Bible are great. Their stories are important. But when we fail to fully study and understand how God used the women of the Bible in the great love story of God and God’s people, we miss out on so much.
Anyway, long story short: I ended up pitching the idea of re-imagining the stories of heroic women of the Bible to an editor friend of mine at the conference, and she bit.
I’m not surprised about that! The language you used for God is gender neutral. Talk a little bit about that. Was this a deliberate choice on your part, and if so, why?
It was deliberate. In that, I’m trying to avoid using pronouns for God. I like calling God, God. Or other names (Hagar gave God some good ones!)
Pronouns get dicey because of course, God is not a man. God is not a woman. But God is masculine. And God is feminine. (Whatever those words even mean! My editor will tell you I had trouble nailing what a “feminine” Bible name even was! Ha!)
But increasingly sticking God with a pronoun just seems to trip us all up. Using “he” limits God and using “she” politicizes. “It” doesn’t feel right at all! I wasn’t interested in doing any of this in this book.
That said, I have no problem with other people using pronouns for God. And every morning, I pray through the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father seven times (I say it “our” and then personalize it for me and my family). And each time I pray it, I say “Our Father…. My Father…” Although Jesus himself related to the Mother God, I like that Jesus called God Daddy. And I’m happy to follow suit.
I know this will be a hard question to answer, but if I picked up your book and I only had time to read one woman’s story, which one should that be, and why?
Oh, man. This probably should be harder to answer than it is. But Mary Magdalene immediately springs to mind. My all-time, hands-down favorite moment in the whole Bible is when the Risen Jesus says, “Mary” outside the tomb.
Even typing that now, I’m getting teary-eyed! It’s just the greatest moment. Not only because of what it means for all of us, for the way it changed eternity, but because it was so intimate. Jesus revealed himself by saying his friend’s name. A name—which I imagined hadn’t always been said so nicely throughout Mary’s life.
And then, of course, Mary became “the apostle to the apostles.” While this pales in comparison to what Jesus did for us on the Cross and the grace we all receive, that Jesus chose a woman, that woman, to be the first to preach the Gospel—the GOOD NEWS, the BEST NEWS!—is huge.
I so agree! What can we expect next from the pen of Caryn Rivadeneira?
I’m under contract to write three more books with Sparkhouse Family, the publisher of Grit and Grace. I can’t say too much about the projects yet, but I’m so excited to be able to get to work with them again. They are top-notch. Really excellent.
Aside from those, I do have another manuscript and a couple other ideas that I just sent my agent. So, we’ll need to plot the best next steps. But none of these next projects are Bible-story-specific. More straight fiction—with lots of silliness and even some ook-and-spook.
I love writing for kids. Lord willing, you can expect lots more projects down the pike.
Finally, what is the one question you wished I had asked, but didn’t?
Of course, I wish you’d asked about my affinity for pit bulls (spend any time on my Facebook or Instagram and you’ll pick up a theme….), but I’ll answer the question I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask since it’s the one I get most often: Will you write a book about the men of the Bible for boys?
So, first of all, kudos for not asking that. (I like people who ask different questions!) But since I do get asked this, I’ll say this. First of all, Grit and Grace is for boys too. Though I know little girls really need to hear that they matter in the Kingdom of God and that God has always called women and girls to do big, brave, mighty things, boys actually need to know this too.
And second, I do have an idea for follow-up to Grit and Grace that would include stories from some of the boys of the Bible. Maybe not the grand heroic ones. But the worriers, the trouble-makers, the unexpected, unlikely heroes. Those are the people I’m interested in. Their stories are so fun to tell—and they speak into our lives so well.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Caryn!
And now, I’m happy to say that Sparkhouse kindly sent me two hot-off-the-press copies of Grit and Grace to give away! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post.
Winners will be announced on Tuesday 20th.
I do hope you win the book… because you’ll love it!