Dreaming With Your Eyes Open (Book Review)

I've always liked the saying, reading is dreaming with your eyes open.

It describes the way I feel about books. Fiction, nonfiction, memoirs -- I like them all -- but I think biographies are my favorite type of book.

Reading how people meet the personal challenges of their lives is so interesting to me, and I especially get absorbed in the daily details if the biography's subject lived in an earlier time.

I want to know how they cooked their meals, cleaned their houses, and entertained their friends. I want to know too, how they found happiness after a heartache, gathered the courage to try again after a failure, and enjoyed success after a defeat.

So if you've ever wanted to imagine life as a women in ancient times, a new book by Jill Eileen Smith, offers readers the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of 12 Biblical women who experienced a life that  didn't quite measure up to their dreams.

In When Life Doesn't Match Your Dreams, I expected to find the usual cast of Biblical characters of Sarah, Hannah and Rachel, but I was a little surprised to find Lot's wife, Potiphar's wife, and Zipporah, the wife of Moses, included too.

Smith is an author of a number of biblical novels featuring women who lived long ago, but this is her first nonfiction book about women who didn't always have their lives turn out as they had hoped and dreamed.

She shares that her inspiration for featuring the women in this collection is to give us a different glimpse of their lives through her creative narratives.

"When we can't see the dreams anymore, when life is more trial than triumph, that's when we can let our faith either come to a grinding halt or grow stronger."

Smith invites us to consider that Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt for turning to watch fire engulf her home, may have looked back because leaving all she'd ever known was unthinkable and she couldn't trust that God still had a future ahead of her.

Or that Zipporah, the wife of Moses, with minimal mention in scripture, emerges as a strong woman who struggled to understand her husband and wrestled with her feelings to make compromises to experience peace and freedom in her life.

And there's Potiphar's wife, who disrupted Joseph's life with her false accusations, but may have felt forgotten and empty, tempting her to act on her feelings.

Smith's words remind us that these women of long ago were far from perfect but are more similar to women today than we might think.

Where we live, what we wear and what we do may change, but what stirs our hearts is the same. We want our dreams to become a reality, our prayers answered, and our hopes fulfilled.

But even when they aren't and life is harder than we expected, God is nearer than we imagined.

Smith urges us to press on with the inspiration of these 12 women from the Bible.

"We might have to let our dreams die, but like a seed planted in the ground, whatever we give up to God has the potential to grow into an amazingly impossible dream far greater than we could have ever asked for or imagined."

Opening a book has always transported me to a new place, giving me space to dream as I turned the pages of a compelling story.

The journeys of these ancient heroines, though flawed, offer a glimpse of the past, reflections for the present and hope for the future.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review, but my thoughts and opinions are all my own.


  1. Valerie, I have missed you and I was thrilled to see a new post here on Grace With Silk. I think of you often and wonder how you are and how life is going for you. Your friend, Susan.

    1. Hi Susan,
      How nice of you to stop by here, looking for me! :) I committed to do a book review a few weeks ago but I'll admit it was a bit difficult coming back to write in this space after so long of a break! All is well here and I hope it is with you, too. I must get over to your little online space soon and see what's new with you :) I can't tell you how nice it was to see your words here -- sending much love! xo

  2. I know it's been a long time, but you crossed my mind today. I have missed seeing you and the beauty you share. This book sounds like a must read for me. I like that it is on women in the bible you don't often read about. I'm currently reading Michelle Obama's autobiography, Becoming, and it is reminding me that a good autobiography does inspire, and that I should be reading more biographies than I have! Hope you are well!


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