What Women Want

I wasn’t aware we were supposed to bring our portfolios,” I joked to my friend as the album containing photos of our speaker in an evening gown and swim suit circled the room.

We both giggled and quickly passed the unopened book on to the people sitting next to us. The perfectly made-up woman standing in the front of the room was not what I expected in a session on “developing inner beauty.” For the next 45 minutes, I heard about her path from normal wife and mother to her crowning as Mrs. USA. Looking around the room, I noticed similarly perplexed looks on the faces of my fellow “real” housewives of Southern California. A stunning beauty pageant winner was the last person we wanted to hear tell us to cultivate our insides and allow that to be the beauty we portray to the world.

If her insides were anywhere as lovely as her outsides I really hated her.

The session ended with a platter of Oreos passed around the room, and the beauty tip that sugar is wonderful for the skin so we should rub the filling on our faces. I’m sure more women grabbed a handful of those cookies for comfort rather than firm skin.

Somewhere along the line a disconnect had occurred. Here was a roomful of women looking for camaraderie, empathy and encouragement in a world that tells them they need to look like super models. Who had decided that a super model was the right one for the job?

I know I’m not alone in experiences like this…the typical Christian women’s event can leave us feeling empty, lonely and talked down to. Innumerable times I have gone into a weekend retreat with the desire to grow in my faith, be challenged by God and create lasting bonds with the women in my church only to come back home more exhausted then I’d left.

For this reason alone I have shied away from women’s events. I was tired of hearing that my role as wife and mother should absolutely satisfy me, that my greatest joy should involve flower arrangements and memory books, that all I need to learn about in the Bible is that one chapter in Proverbs.

Raw, vulnerable and transforming experiences were what I craved.

It was with hesitance that I signed up this summer for the opportunity to attend a Women of Faith event as a BookSneeze blogger. However, over the past year I have read books by Women of Faith authors, frequented their blogs and followed them on Twitter.

What I’ve read has impressed me.

So, in one month I will be attending the “Over the Top” Women of Faith conference in Seattle. My past experience with women’s events leaves me a little gun-shy, but I have high hopes for this one.

That being said…if I see even one modeling portfolio I’m outta there!

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Permission to Speak Freely: Book Review & Giveaway

After reading Mad Church Disease earlier this year I eagerly anticipated Anne Jackson’s latest book, Permission to Speak Freely.

Once again, Jackson is tackling a topic within the church today that’s not getting much coverage. This time instead of showing how the church asks too much, she’s pointing out that it doesn’t ask enough.

In May of 2008, Jackson asked the readers at Flowerdust.net,

“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church.”

She then complied some of the hundreds of responses she received into a beautifully broken piece of literature. As you turn the pages of the book you’re met with one confession after another.

The purpose of this book is simple: to share the confessions I’ve received from the website or through the mail, as well as stories from my own life and experience, to show you that you’re not alone in your battle with fear and secrets.

::

Growing up I never thought about the eccentricities that made my family unique. My assumption was that all families pretty much ran the way mine did. It wasn’t until I started dating Josh that I began to see that not every family is the same. There are different ways of doing things.

I grew up in the church. Here too, I never really questioned much. The topics of sex, depression, pornography, divorce, and doubts with God were not appropriate topics for sermons. Maybe once a year one of these topics would come up, but as with the annual tithe sermon the pastor tried to get through it as quickly, and apologetically, as possible.

In the last few years I’ve begun to recognize the importance of getting these struggles out into the open. Paul says in Ephesians 5:11-13, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

We need to begin to bring these unfruitful deeds into the light to help people come out of the darkness to realize they’re not alone.

::

Anne Jackson isn’t looking to provide a self-help book that tells you how to start talking about these topics. She’s just talking about them herself…and she’s providing a place for others to start their own discussion.

I loved that she didn’t wrap it up neatly in the end.

She leaves you hanging, she leaves you responsible.

Each time we decide to take a step away from fear, we begin to move forward into a life completely energized and right in the freedom God has for us. And as we take more steps into freedom, our actions have the power to set other on that same course of freedom as well.

Only you can give yourself permission.

Not me. Not this book.

Not the church, whether you go to one or not.

Only you can give yourself the permission to speak freely.

::

This book touched on a topic that is close to my heart and I loved Anne Jackson’s handling of the topic. My copy is all marked up, but I want to give one away.

So, I’m going to buy one for one of my readers.

I’ve never done a giveaway before, but I feel like this book has a lot to say on an important topic.

I’m not doing this to grow readership and I’m not guilting you into it by making you sign up for my blog or follow me on Twitter. You can if you want, but it won’t gain you more entries.

Just leave a comment below by midnight PST Thursday 9/9 stating that you’d like the book and I will randomly pick a winner and announce it on Friday’s blog post.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What’s in a Word: A Book Review

When I first saw this book I was really excited to read it. I have this memory of being 10-years-old and sitting in the back of my mom’s sedan. We were listening to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” on the radio and he was explaining the origin of a common phrase. I found it so interesting to discover the history behind the phrase and told my mom it would be cool if someone wrote a book about it. I’m not making this up…and yes, I was that much of a nerd.

So, fast forward to 2010. I see on BookSneeze this book by Webb Garrison entitled What’s in a Word? I waited expectantly for it to arrive in the mail and opened it as soon as I received the package. Maybe I’m not as much of a nerd now as I was at 10, but I found it to be boring. It wasn’t a book I wanted to sit down with for an extended period of time. The first chapter was about technological terminology and it seemed outdated (floppy disks?).

I set it aside, thinking that it would make a really good bathroom reading book or coffee table book.

Then, one night we had a friend over and he picked it up. He skipped around in the book instead of trying to read it cover-to-cover. He spent the next hour sharing with us little tidbits of knowledge that he gained from the author. It was interesting and fun.

So, what do I think of this book? I think that it’s slightly outdated, not for someone who’s seriously into the study of etymology and, yet, can still provide some entertainment on a quiet night.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God: Book Review

“So this is a book about trust: how hard it is to trust, how we learn to trust, how we live with trust, and how our lives are transformed by trust.” ~ Sheila Walsh

{Overview}

I was slightly turned off by the title.

For the second book in my book reading challenge I was browsing the available titles in the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program and this one popped out at me; not in a good way.

I thought, “Great, another fluffy book for women that will say a lot without actually saying anything.” I’d never heard of Sheila Walsh and so all I had to go by was the title and the cover. I judged the book by these.

Despite that, I chose to read it. And I got the usual result of judging: I was completely wrong!

{How much?}

Christianbook.com $14.99 (purchase currently includes a free download of her book “Living Fearlessly”)

Amazon.com $14.95

{What’s included}

By relating personal hardships (a battle with depression that led to a month-long stay in a psychiatric ward) and delving into the lives of ten Biblical characters, Sheila Walsh portrays the impact that trusting God in all areas can have on your life, relationships and future.

She has an engaging style of writing that made me eager to read the next chapter, while her genuineness and honesty caused me to feel like I was sitting down talking with a friend. Her intelligence and education showed in her handling of scripture and I found myself looking at passages I’ve studied before in a new light.

There is also a Bible study included with the book that allows you to delve deeper into the subject and look at it from a personal perspective.

{What I Liked}

  • So often devotional books meant for small groups or personal study force you to purchase a separate workbook; this one has the Bible study included in the back of the book. Each chapter has Scriptures to study further and questions to answer that transform the book from just a good read to a catalyst for personal growth.
  • Sheila Walsh has been speaking with Women of Faith for over 10 years and yet her book comes across in a humble, relatable way. She doesn’t shirk away from sharing her fears and doubts, but also shows how God utilized Biblical figures and people in her life to walk her through them.
  • As someone who personally struggles with times of depression, it was refreshing to see a woman who is such a public figure discuss her own battle with it. Sheila addressed the shame, guilt and rejection that so often accompanies depression, but also offered hope for what God has done in her life despite it.

{What I Didn’t Like}

  • I already mentioned that I didn’t really like the title. I don’t know if I would have bought the book if I’d just seen it on the shelf at the bookstore. But, I’m glad that I ignored my initial instinct.
  • I forgot that the Bible study was there until I’d finished the book. I wish that there would have been a reminder or something at the end of each chapter (i.e. “For dig in deeper turn to the Bible study at the back of the book). If I was reading the book in a small group setting, this obviously wouldn’t have happened.

{Verdict}

I really enjoyed reading this book and I now follow Sheila Walsh on Twitter because I want to know more about her. She is genuine. I highly recommend this book and would love to do a woman’s small group with it someday. It isn’t the type of book that will lose its value over time; the truths in it are universal. Go get it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255