My friend, Jennifer Camp is a Jesus follower who loves pointing women to Him for all their needs, ugly and messy and amazing. Her new book, Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things, is a fictional look at the real life struggles we all face every day and how God hears and responds to our prayers.
“I’m going to mess them up. I know I am” – Lucy
“God, please hear me: Really, I am so afraid to let go and fall” – Clementine
“Heaven feels far away from me” – Diane
“Why do children die, and why do their parents live?” – Hope
“This isn’t the dream I dreamed, for my children or for me. I want a new ending. I don’t like this one” – Janie
“Oh, God, I am tired, numb and stumbling. Will you lead me back home”? – Ruby
These prayers are whispered in bathrooms with door closed. Over kitchen sinks filled with grease-encrusted plates. In rocking chairs at 2 am while nursing a newborn. In sandboxes at the playground. At just-ajar doors of now empty rooms where children once used to sleep.
They are the prayers we sometimes say aloud but usually don’t. They are the heart cries to God. They are the prayers unspoken but unearthed by Him when we don’t even know how to pray.
They are the prayers too deep for words, unrecognized by our own hearts. They are the prayers of the daughters who mother, who are desperate for God to come.
As a listener—a writer who believed for most of her life that she had no voice, that her words did not matter, her opinions and feelings not worth much, I have been curious about prayers—about how God hears us, relates to us.
As a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend, I need to believe there is more to praying, more to having a relationship with God than sharing with him my thoughts, my desires, hoping He hears them, and moving on with my day.
I cannot receive hope, new life, if my prayer is not a conversation with the God who made me and knows me and loves me. He is my beginning. I am desperate to know what God says back.
Especially when I can’t find words to pray.
Oh, God, are you here? Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do you care?
And then God answers. In these long stretches of days—of shepherding and guiding, of cleaning and wiping, of bending and cooking and shopping and herding—we need to know what God sees in these moments. Otherwise, how can we get through a day?
In my new book Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things, I wrote forty fictional stories inspired by women’s real-life prayers. And then, for each story, I listened for what God has to say to her. Over a fourth of the conversations in Breathing Eden are by mothers. Here is a snapshot of some of the women you meet in the book—their heart cries to God and their struggles:
Motherhood and marriage: Laine feels disconnected from her husband. Marriage with kids is not the fairytale she hoped.
Motherhood and identity: Lucy struggles with her identity after giving up her high-profile career and becoming a stay-at-home mom.
Motherhood and exhaustion: Ruby, a new mom, wonders if she can find her way to God in the midst of exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed.
Motherhood and fear: Clementine mourns the loss of her mother’s death when she was young and worries that she will pass along her fear and need to control to her children.
Motherhood and legacy: Daphne, as well, worries that she, with the loss of her father, is not equipped to parent her children as he once parented her.
Motherhood and empty-nesting: Diane, an empty-nester and single parent, feels isolated and alone after her daughter grew up and moved away.
Motherhood and teenagers: Bree, mom of a teenager, misses connection with her son. She struggles with this new loss of control.
Motherhood and divorce: Janie, recently separated from her husband, worries about the effect of her upcoming divorce on her children.
Motherhood and the death of a child: Hope is mourning the death of her son. She is trying to move on, but her heart still aches.
These are a few of the stories of the women of Breathing Eden. For a mother’s heart is stretched and strong and tired and beautiful. A mother’s heart is filled with fear and hope— a tangle of emotions all at once. A mother’s heart is joy-filled and broken. Confused and distracted. Focused and fearless. Open and wild and free.
Oh, God, we cry: How can I mother? How can I carry this burden on my own?
Let’s not mother alone. Together, let’s listen to what God says.
Together, let’s participate in the conversations of these sisters and our God. Together let’s add our own conversation to the stories. Together, let’s invite God to whisper to our own hearts.
Together, we can pray. And listen. And trust that what God sees is going to surprise us, sustain us, breathe life into our tired bones.
Together, let’s breathe Eden.
Jennifer J. Camp knows what it’s like to chase down an identity not her own. And now she listens and writes and speaks to point women to Jesus. She is co-founder of Gather Ministries with her husband, Justin, and she’s passionate about encouraging women to live lives of identity, community and adventure, with Christ. Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with Justin, their three kids, and her very insecure dog. Connect with her at JenniferJCamp.com.
Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things is forty raw, honest, heartbreaking and encouraging conversations between women and God. These prayers are like our own: full of pain, celebration, anxiety, and joy. Each one helps the reader hear God whisper love and hope into their lives. And after each story, Jennifer offers readers a guided invitation to listen for what God is saying to them.
In these pages, readers will find hope and fresh perspectives. It’s an invitation to come. Breathe Eden.