The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength

The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength


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Start embracing the wonder of life after 40

We're all getting older. How do we make the second half of our lives the best half? Forty incredible women of faith from 40 to 85 tackle aging anxieties head-on—and upend them with compelling first-person stories full of humor, sass, and spiritual wisdom. Including:

Elisa Morgan on Dogs and Belonging

Elisabeth Elliot on Sacrifice and Offering

Jennifer Dukes Lee on Drinking in God’s Love

Jennifer Grant on Diving In

Jen Pollock Michel on Facing the End

Joni Eareckson Tada on Pain and Provision

Kay Warren on Joy and Holy Fun

Kendra Smiley on the Freedom of Fun

Lauren Winner on Living with Intention

Luci Shaw on Embracing Adventure

Lynne Hybels on the Necessity of Pleasure

Madeleine L'Engle on Honoring Touch

Patricia Raybon on Answering the Phone

Paula Huston on Living Outdoors

Shannon Ethridge on the Miracles in Mistakes

Sheila Wise Rowe on Following God's Lead

Vina Mogg on the Beauty of Mess

And many more

In three thematic sections—Firsts, Lasts, and Always— these women provide much-needed role models for aging honestly, beautifully, and faithfully, with surprises all along the way. These are indeed the Wonder Years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780825445224
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 299,351
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

When you see her, Leslie may be wearing a silk dress and fishnets or wearing XtraTuf boots and carrying fishing nets, depending on whether she's at her fish camp in the Alaska wilderness or on a speaking tour "outside." She's happy in both places talking about the books, places, and topics that move her most. Her eleven books include The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty and Strength; Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas, which won Christianity Today's 2017 Book of the Year in Christian living; The Spirit of Food; Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers; and Surviving the Island of Grace: A Life on the Wild Edge of America. Her essays, appearing in The Atlantic, Christianity Today, Beliefnet, and Orion, take on an uncommon diversity of interests: wilderness, theology of the body, culture-making, motherhood, narrative theology, and points between and beyond.

"As much as I love words on the page, I'm not fully satisfied until I get to speak them in person with others," Leslie adds. She's honored to travel and share from her passions nationally and internationally at conferences, universities, churches, and retreats. With three master's degrees, she has taught collegiate classes for many years, including six years in Seattle Pacific University's MFA program. If she can't see her audience, radio is a good second. She has appeared on more than 150 radio shows including Family Life Today, Prime Time America, Focus on the Family, and Chris Fabry Live!

She conducts writing workshops around the country and is the founder of the Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop, a writing and spiritual retreat center on the Alaskan island where her family lives and fishes commercially. Recent guest writers have included Philip Yancey, Ann Voskamp, Luci Shaw, and Bret Lott. Find out more at

Leslie lives on Kodiak Island, Alaska, with her family and her Yorkie, Sophie, who thinks she's a sled dog. She can be reached at

Kay y su esposo Rick Warren fundaron la congregación Saddleback Church, en Lake Forest, California. Kay es una apasionada maestra de la Biblia y defensora infatigable de los que padecen enfermedades mentales, VIH y SIDA, así como también de los niños huérfanos y vulnerables que son abandonados. Además, creó la fundación Saddleback's HIV & AIDS Initiative. Sus hijos son Amy, Josh y Matthew, que está en el cielo; además tiene cinco nietos: Kaylie, Cassidy, Caleb, Cole y Claire.

Table of Contents

Introduction 7


Cupped Hands Jennifer Dukes Lee 15

Cultivating Creativity Brené Brown 21

Of Bodies and Birds Michelle Novak 27

Turning Jill Kandel 31

Where Have All the Hearing Aids Cone? Laura Lynn Brown 37

Forty Lauren Winner 41

Rowing into the Wild Luci Shaw 47

Merging Branches Amy R. Buckley 53

This Is My Body Charity Singleton Craig 57

The Whole New World of Horses Heather MacLaren Johnson 61

Something BIG Elisa Morgan 67

Awakened to Adventure Sheila Wise Rowe 71

My Body, My Fixer-Upper Amy K. Sorrells 75

My First Padded Bra Leslie Leyland Fields 79


Never Again-Period! Shelly Wildman 89

Leaving the Night Behind Julie Owens 95

I Renounce Snap Judgments-Again Jeanne Murray Walker 101

Make No Mistake Shannon Ethridge 107

The Fetters and Freedom of Family Amy F. Davis Abdallah 111

No More Comparing Andrea Stephens 115

The Gift of Regret Michelle Van Loon 119

Learn When to Stop Luci Swindoll 125

Skin Blotches and Jiggly Thighs Margot Starbuck 129

Life in High Def Nancy Stafford 135

I Lay Down My Doubts, I Take Up My Pen Leslie Leyland Fields 139

Pay Attention to What Makes You Cry Jennifer Grant 145

Enough of Not Enough Suanne Camfield 149

The Grace to Be Diminished Win Couchman 153


What Do You Love to Do? Lynne Hybels 159

Answer the Phone Patricia Raybon 165

Three Turns of the Ramp Joni Eareckson Tada 169

How Can I Not Keep Reaching Out? Ann Voskamp 173

Make Me a Cake Elisabeth Elliot 179

Messy Edges Vina Mogg 183

Joy Is a Choice Kay Warren 187

The Freedom of Fun Kendra Smiley 191

The Good Earth Paula Huston 195

Building A Stone Wall K. Martha Levitt 199

The Flesh Is to Be Honored Madeleine L'Engle 205

A Pilgrim in Progress Gina Ochsner 209

This Is Forty Jen Pollock Michel 215

Naked/Came Jill Kandel 219

Epilogue: The Book of Wondering 225

Acknowledgments 231

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The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
michelemorin More than 1 year ago
Some mornings, crawling out of bed feels more like crawling out of a car wreck. Arthritic feet and ankles protest against the floor, and I straighten a stiff back mumbling, “I’m too young to feel this terrible.” Two summers ago, when the gang landed here on Memorial Day I broke my toe playing kick ball. (Let it be known that I DID make it to first base.) All summer, whenever I tried to put my foot into a dress shoe, I was reminded that maybe I should have been more careful. Could I be getting too old to play kickball with abandon? Leslie Leyland Fields has hung a glorious and fitting banner over these years past the mid-point: The Wonder Years! These are the years in which we may hear (or tell ourselves!) that we are both “too young” and “too old.” However, with gathered wisdom,The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength shares insight from warrior-women who have lived and loved past the mid-point, offering both a resource and a tribute to women over forty. Firsts Crossing the threshold into middle age often frees women to embark upon new, first-time adventures, to explore career options, to pursue possibilities, and to take a few risks. Of course this will look wildly different in every life. Luci Shaw writes beautifully about her heroic 120 mile rowing expedition at the age of 71, while Brené Brown settled into a tamer understanding of creativity and found herself painting gourds. As Fields explains in her editorial notes: “There’s no one single party line. You’ll find convincing support to slow down, to speed up, to launch out into new places, ministries, relationships, and ideas. Prepare to be inspired!” Lasts Naturally, in the process of moving forward in The Wonder Years, there are burdens and obligations, stages and seasons that are left behind. Shelly Wilder waves the pom poms for menopause, and Michelle Van Loon recalls the moment she cast off the weight of regret she had been carrying over a past decision. Irrational obsession with appearance and youthfulness, perfectionism, and over-commitment all find their way to the discard pile as one by one, wise women share in their essays how they discovered that “even the releases we think look like losses can actually be occasions for greater grace.” Always In this fifth decade of life, I know there are some things that will be with me forever: family, ministry, writing, gardening, gathering people around a table on this country hill. These have all become convictions–activities and responsibilities that have been engraved on my DNA. Several essays in The Wonder Years urge readers to continue this very thing, to lean into whatever brings light and holy joy into the room. Because loss and pain are also part of the terrain we’re traveling, we can take strength from the experiences of others: Anne Voskamp shares a story about going forward in spite of a friend’s cruel diagnosis, and Elisabeth Elliot discovered that when pain was all she had, it became the offering she surrendered in thanksgiving to God. Madeleine L’Engle and Jen Pollock Michel offer compelling thoughts about time and mortality, for part of moving into the second half of life is the challenge to flourish as we hold life’s goodness close, all the while preparing to release it with grace. And so, The Wonder Years are aptly named for, as we tackle aging head-on, we will certainly find plenty to “wonder” about, while also finding an abundance ... continue reading at Living Our Days.
LisaPClement More than 1 year ago
I love the whole idea of this book. Being in my late 50's sometimes I start thinking about all the life that is behind me and what is ahead for me. My perception of what is ahead can sometimes bring me down but since reading these stories complied in this book I am looking at things a bit different. 40 women, all over 40 with 40 different views that all make me say "lets do this life and do finish well" Every woman ought to pick this book up and read it and get ready for the time of their lives as they begin to see the age of 40+ from a whole new perspective. I was given an advanced copy of this book and I recommend every women take the time to read it Must Read!!
KatieAndraski More than 1 year ago
Since I’ve coasted past the 60 year mark, I wanted to read The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over Forty to find out how other women in my age group have lived their lives. Have they stayed active or has disability stopped them? What about community? Do they have friends or have they all died off? Has age stopped them from exploring the world? These essays came alongside to reassure me that I’m not the only one who experienced the challenges and joys of the downhill run toward mortality. The diverse voices and subjects of The Wonder Years made it a fast and entertaining read. There are stories of women whose lives didn’t turn out the way they thought and stories of women who pushed back against the idea of their age. Heather MacLaren Johnson writes about how she learned to ride horses in her forties. Charity Singleton Craig marries for the first time at 42. She writes about the unique challenges of friendships with men in church before she meets her husband. Laura Lynn Brown returns home to care for her great aunt and finds the rewards and humor in watching over an elderly relative. Shelly Wildman celebrates the arrival of menopause. Luci Shaw writes about rowing around the South Gulf Islands of British Columbia. She says, “I wanted to test my resolve and claim my genetic identity, proving to myself that I could keep up and forge ahead even in my eighth decade.” The Wonder Years is a great read for women of any age because if offers a hopeful vision of the backside of life. For younger and older women it proves how vital and alive these years can be. If life seems unbearable in a woman’s twenties and thirties, this book offers hope that it gets better not worse as we age. I highly recommend it. I received an advanced copy from the publisher and am offering my honest opinion.