GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

The Call of Zulina by Kay Marshall Strom BLOG TOUR


About the Book:

(Eugene, Oregon) – An arranged marriage, a runaway bride, and an ugly family heritage of brutal and inhumane slavery operations leave no room for a fairytale story. Grace Winslow, daughter of an English sea captain and African princess, finds herself in a horrific position of betrothal. Doomed to marry an obnoxious white man, whom she does not love, Grace runs away to escape the slavery she’s been surrounded by all her life. Instead, her journey from home brings her face-to-face with issues of extreme slavery, abuse and human trafficking. In the end she discovers slavery is more than just chains and finds grace that exceeds a name given to her by her parents.

Written by Kay Marshall Strom, The Call of Zulina links historical slavery issues with the modern-day crisis tainting many countries. On the heels of important legislature regarding human trafficking, Strom tackles the subject boldly as she sheds light on the practices and techniques used by angry slave traders. Seen as an advocate for those who have no voice, Strom finds words to communicate the message of history to today’s readers. While this book shines the light on an uncomfortable subject, the message of hope, freedom, and justice prevail and eternal truths discovered.

About the Author:

Author Kay Marshall Strom has two great loves: writing and helping others achieve their own writing potential. Kay has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. While mostly a nonfiction writer, the first book of her historical novel trilogy Grace in Africa has met with acclaim. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, writers’ conferences, and special events throughout the country and around the world. She is in wide demand as an instructor and keynote speaker at major writing conferences. She also enjoys speaking aboard cruise ships in exchange for exotic cruise destinations.

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Blog Tour Interview:

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1. How did you come up with the storyline of The Call of Zulina?
While in West Africa working on another project, I toured an old slave fortress and was struck dumb by a set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. The characters of Lingongo and Joseph Winslow, Grace’s parents, are modeled after real people who ran a slave business in Africa in the 1700s.  I "met" them when I was researching Once Blind: The Life of John Newton, a biography of the slaver turned preacher and abolitionists, author of Amazing Grace. The more I thought about them, the more I wondered, "If they’d had a daughter, who would she be? Where would her loyalties lie?"
2. What inspired you to write a book so entrenched with uncomfortable issues?
I used to think that non-fiction was the meat and potatoes of writing and fiction was the chocolate mousse dessert… fun, but not of much value. But I’ve come to understand that truths can be revealed through fiction just as powerfully as through non-fiction. Sometimes, more so! The fact is, for so long we have tried to look away and pretend that this horrible chapter in history never happened. But it did, and we still feel the effects today. Moreover, the roots of slavery–hunger for power and money, fear and diminishment of people unlike ourselves, and humanity’s endless ability to rationalize evil actions–abound today. The time seemed right.
3. How haveyour travels around the world equipped you for writing such a historical novel?
People ask me where my passion for issues such as modern day slavery come from. To a large degree it is from the things I have seen and heard on my numerous trips to India, African countries, Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia, and other places around the world.
4. Tell us a personal story regarding modern day slavery.
A most pervasive type of slavery is what is known as bonded servitude, where entire poor families are bound into virtual slavery–sometimes for generations–because of a small debt. This is especially common in India. I visited a village in central India where the women had been freed from bondage and set up with a micro loan that allowed them to raise a small herd of dairy cows. They worked so hard and saved every rupee. When they had enough saved, they persuaded a young teacher to come and start a school for their children. Then they used further profits to make low interest loans to others in the area so they could start their own businesses, too–a little bank. I sat in a circle with the five women who made up the "board of directors." Only one could read and write.  I asked, "How will the next generation be different because of what you have done?" They said, "No more will be like us. When people look us, they see nothing. But when they look at our children, they see real human beings with value."
From invisible slaves to human beings… all in one generation!
5. Grace, the lead character in The Call of Zulina, forsakes all to escape the slavery of her parents and an arranged marriage.How common is this scenerio today in other countries?
Horrifyingly common. Slavery today takes many forms. According to UNICEF’s more conservative count, there are about 12 million people living as slaves today–three times as many as in the days of the African slave trade. As for child arranged marriages, I have talked to girls "enslaved" to husbands in many countries. Examples include a girl in Nepal married at 9 to a middle-aged man, one in India married at 11, a 13-year-old in Egypt married to a man older than her father.  I’ve seen it in Africa, Eastern Europe… so many places!
 6. What about in America, are there slavery and trafficking issues here?
Unfortunately, there are. The U.S. State Department estimates between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the Untied States each year, although it concedes that the real number is actually far higher. And it’s not just states like New York and California that are affected, either. According to the U.S. Justice Department’s head of the new human trafficking unit, there is now at least one case of trafficking in every state.
 7. You’ve had 36 books published, and more written and contracted for future release. How has this one impacted your own life?
Some books report, some tell stories. This book has torn my heart.
 8. Briefly tell us about the next two books in this Grace in Africa trilogy.
In Book 2, Grace watches her reconstructed life smashed by slavers and revenge, and she is forcibly taken to London. There she faces a new kind of tyranny and another fight for freedom… and for her husband, who is enslaved in America.
Book 3 is set in the new United States of America, in the heart of the slavery. It is a story of slavery at it’s worst and redemption at its best

 
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What Can Concerned Citizens Do to Raise Awareness?
Find out all you can about Modern Day Slavery: then watch for chances to pass on what you have learned.
Write to your elected officials: Petition them to place a high priority on enforcing anti-slavery laws and to put pressure on countries that tolerate forced labor or human trafficking.
Buy Fair Trade products: Fair trade provides a sustainable model of international trade based on economic justice. To find out more, see http://www.fairtrade.net/ .
Support organizations that are in a position to make a difference. When you find an one that is doing a good job on the front lines, contribute to their cause so they can continue on.
Be willing to step into the gap. If you suspect someone is being held against his or her will, call the Department of Justice hotline: 1-888-428-7581. Or you can call 911.
 

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Giveaway!!!

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Kay Marshall Strom is giving the following books to one fortunate commenter from The Call of Zulina blog tour. The prize package includes several of Kay’s books:
 
Seeking Christ:  A Christian Woman’s Guide to Personal Wholeness & Spiritual Maturity
John Newton:The Angry Sailor
Making Friends with Your Mother
Making Friends with Your Father

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Last Breath by Brandilyn Collins and Amberly Collins


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

Brandilyn & Amberly Collins

and the book:

Last Breath (Rayne Series #2)

Zondervan; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Lindsey Rodarmer of ZONDERKIDZ for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brandilyn and Amberly Collins are a mother/daughter team from northern California. Brandilyn is a bestselling novelist, known for her trademarked “Seatbelt Suspense”. Amberly is a college student in southern California. She and her mom love attending concerts together.

Visit the author’s website.

Here’s a video about the first book in the Rayne Series:

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310715407
ISBN-13: 978-0310715405

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Your father sent me.

The last words of a dying man, whispered in my ear.

Were they true? What did they mean?

Your father sent me. The stunning claim drilled through my head, louder than the crowd’s screams.

Guitars blasted the last chord of Rayne’s hit song, Ever Alone, as Mom’s voice echoed through the Pepsi Center in Denver. The heavy drum beat thumped in my chest. With a final smash of cymbals the rock song ended. Multicolored laser lights swept the stadium, signaling the thirty-minute intermission.

Wild shrieks from thousands of fans rang in my ears.

I rose from my chair backstage. Tiredly, I smiled at the famous Rayne O’Connor as she strode toward me on high red heels. In the lights her sequined top shimmered and her blonde hair shone. She walked with confidence and grace, the picture of a rock star—until she stepped from her fans’ sight. Then her posture slumped, weariness creasing her beautiful face. Mom’s intense blue eyes usually glimmered with the excitement of performing, but now I saw only the wash of grief and exhaustion. How she’d managed to perform tonight, I’d never know. Except that she’s strong. A real fighter.

Me? I had to keep fighting too, even if my legs still trembled and I’d probably have nightmares for weeks.

Your father sent me.

I had to find out what those words meant.

“You’re a very brave young lady,” a Denver detective had told me just a few hours ago. I didn’t feel brave then or now.

“You okay, Shaley?” Mom had to shout over the screams as she hugged me.

I nodded against her shoulder, hanging on tightly until she pulled back.

The crowd’s applause died down. A heavy hum of voices and footsteps filtered from the stadium as thousands of people headed for concessions and bathrooms during the break.

Kim, the band’s keyboard player and alto to my mom’s lead vocals, stopped to lay a darkly tanned hand on my head. A strand of her bleached white-blonde hair was stuck to the gloss on her pink lips. She brushed it away. “You’re an amazing sixteen-year-old.”

I shrugged, embarrassed. “Thanks.”

Mick and Wendell, Mom’s two remaining bodyguards, approached without a word. I gave a self-conscious smile to Wendell, and he nodded back, sadness flicking across his face. His deep-set eyes were clouded, and the long scar across his chin seemed harder, more shiny. At five-eleven, Wendell is short for a bodyguard but every bit as muscled. Tonight his two-inch black hair, usually gelled straight up, stuck out in various directions. He hadn’t bothered to fix it since the life and death chase he was involved in just a few hours ago. Seeing that messed-up hair sent a stab through me. Wendell was usually so finicky about it.

Mick, Mom’s main personal bodyguard, folded his huge arms and stood back, waiting. Mick is in his forties, ex-military and tall, with a thick neck and block-shaped head. I’ve rarely seen emotion on his face, but I saw glimpses of it now. He and Wendell had been good friends with Bruce, Mom’s third bodyguard.

Bruce had been killed hours ago. Shot.

And he’d been trying to guard me.

My vision blurred. I blinked hard and looked at the floor.

“Come on.” Mom nudged my arm. “We’re all meeting in my dressing room.”

Mick and Bruce flanked her as she walked away.

Usually we don’t have to be so careful backstage. It’s a heavily guarded area anyway. But tonight nothing was the same.

Kim and I followed Mom down a long hall to her dressing room. Morrey, Kim’s boyfriend and Rayne’s drummer, caught up with us. He put a tattoo-covered arm around Kim, her head only reaching his shoulders. Morrey looked at me and winked, but I saw no happiness in it.

Ross Blanke, the band’s tour production manager, hustled up alongside us, trailed by Stan, lead guitarist, and Rich, Rayne’s bass player. “Hey.” Ross put a pudgy hand on Mom’s shoulder. “You’re doing great.” He waved an arm, indicating everyone. “All of you, you’re just doing great.”

“You do what you have to,” Stan said grimly. His black face shone with sweat.

Narrowing single file, we trudged into the dressing room. Mick and Wendell took up places on each side of the door.

Marshall, the makeup and hair stylist, started handing out water bottles. In his thirties, Marshall has buggy eyes and curly dark hair. His fingers are long and narrow, deft with his makeup tools. But until two days ago, he’d been second to Mom’s main stylist, Tom.

“Thanks.” I took a bottle from Marshall and tried to smile. Didn’t work. Just looking at him sent pangs of grief through me, because his presence reminded me of Tom’s absence.

Tom, my closest friend on tour, had been murdered two days ago.

Mom, Ross, Rich and I sank down on the blue couch—one of the furniture pieces Mom requested in every dressing room. Denver’s version was extra large, with a high back and overstuffed arms. To our left stood a table with plenty of catered food, but no one was hungry. I’d hardly eaten in the last day and a half and knew I should have something. But no way, not now.

Maybe after the concert.

Stan, Morrey and Kim drew up chairs to form a haphazard circle.

“All right.” Ross sat with his short, fat legs apart, hands on his jeaned thighs. The huge diamond ring on his right hand was skewed to one side. He straightened it with his pinky finger. “I’ve checked outside past the guarded area. The zoo’s double what it usually is. The news has already hit and every reporter and his brother are waiting for us. Some paparazzi are already there, and others have probably hopped planes and will show up by the time we leave.”

Is Cat here? I shuddered at the thought of the slinky, effeminate photographer who’d bothered us so much in the last two days. He’d even pulled a fire alarm in our San Jose hotel the night before just to force us out of our rooms. Now by police order he wasn’t supposed to get within five hundred feet of us. I doubted he’d care.

My eyes burned, and my muscles felt like water. Little food, no sleep, and plenty of shock. Bad combination. I slumped down in the couch and laid my head back.

Ross ran a hand through his scraggly brown hair. “Now at intermission folks out there”—he jabbed a thumb toward the arena—“are gonna start hearing things. Rayne, you might want to say a little something when you get back on stage.”

Mom sighed, as if wondering where she’d find the energy to do the second half of the concert. “Yeah.”

I squeezed her knee. If only the two of us could hide from the world for a week or two.

Make that a whole year.

Rich frowned as he moved his shaved head from one side to the other, stretching his neck muscles. His piercing gray eyes landed on me, and his face softened. I looked away.

Everyone was so caring and concerned about me. I was grateful for that. Really, I was. But it’s a little hard to know you’ve been the cause of three deaths. Under all their smiles, did the band members blame me?

Ross scratched his hanging jowl. “We got extra coverage from Denver police at the hotel tonight. Tomorrow we’re supposed to head out for Albuquerque. It’s close enough for Vance to drive the main bus without a switch-off driver, and the next two venues are close enough as well. But that’s just logistics. We’ve all been through a lot. Question is—can you all keep performing?” He looked around, eyebrows raised.

“Man.” Morrey shook back his shoulder-length black hair. “If three deaths in two days isn’t enough to make us quit …” His full lips pressed.

I glanced hopefully at Mom. Yeah, let’s go home! I could sleep in my own bed, hide from the paparazzi and reporters, hang out with Brittany, my best friend—who was supposed to be here with me right now.

But canceling concerts would mean losing a lot of money. The Rayne tour was supposed to continue another four weeks.

Mom hunched forward, elbows on her knees and one hand to her cheek. Her long red fingernails matched the color of her lips. “I almost lost my daughter tonight.” Her voice was tight. “I don’t care if I never tour again—Shaley’s got to be protected, that’s the number one thing.”

I want you protected too, Mom.

“I agree with that a hundred percent,” Morrey said, “but at least the threat to Shaley is gone now that Jerry’s dead.

Jerry, one of our bus drivers—and a man I’d thought was my friend—killed Tom and Bruce, and then came after me earlier that night. A cop ended up shooting him.

Kim spread her hands. “I don’t know what to say. I’m still reeling. We’ve barely had time to talk about any of this tonight before getting on stage. I feel like my mind’s gonna explode. And Tom …”

She teared up, and that made me cry. Kim had been like a mother to Tom. Crazy, funny Tom. It was just so hard to believe he was gone.

I wiped my eyes and looked at my lap.

“Anyway.” Kim steadied her voice. “It’s so much to deal with. I don’t know how we’re going to keep up this pace for another month.”

Mom looked at Ross. “We can’t keep going very long with only Vance to drive the main bus.”

Ross nodded. “Until Thursday. I’d have to replace him by then.”

“With who?” Mom’s voice edged.

“I don’t know. I’ll have to jump on it.”

“You can’t just ‘jump on it.’ We need time to thoroughly check the new driver out.”

“Rayne.” Ross threw her a look. “I did check Jerry out. Completely. He had a false ID, remember? That’s what the police said. I couldn’t have known that.”

“You might have known if you’d checked harder.”

Ross’s face flushed. “I did—”

“No you didn’t! Or if you did it wasn’t good enough!” Mom pushed to her feet and paced a few steps. “Something’s mighty wrong if we can’t even find out a guy’s a convicted felon!”

What? I stiffened. “How do you know that?”

Mom waved a hand in the air. “The police told me just before we left the hotel.”

We’d huddled in the manager’s office after the policeman killed Jerry.

I stared at Mom. “When was he in jail?”

Mom threw a hard look at Ross. “He’d barely gotten out when we hired him.”

Heat flushed through my veins. I snapped my gaze toward the floor, Jerry’s last words ringing in my head.

Your father sent me.

How could my father have sent Jerry if he was in jail?

“Rayne,” Ross snapped, “I’ve told you I’m sorry a dozen times—”

“Sorry isn’t enough!” Mom whirled on him. “My daughter was taken hostage. She could have been killed!”

Rich jumped up and put his arms around her. “Come on, Rayne, it’s okay now.”

She leaned against him, eyes closed. The anger on her face melted into exhaustion. “It’s not okay.” Mom shook her head. “Tom’s dead, Bruce is dead. And Shaley—”

Her words broke off. Mom pulled away from Rich and hurried back to the couch. She sank down next to me, a hand on my knee. “Shaley, you’re the one who’s been through the most. What do you want to do?”

My throat nearly swelled shut. Go home! I wanted to yell. But I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair. This wasn’t my tour. I didn’t have to pay the bills.

I glanced around at all the band members. Morrey was holding Kim’s hand. Stan and Rich watched me, waiting. A canceled tour wouldn’t just affect them. Rayne had three back-up singers, one of them Carly, who’d been such a help to me. Plus all the techs and roadies. They’d all lose money.

Wait—maybe Mom would let me go home and stay with Brittany. Now that Tom’s and Bruce’s killer was dead …

“Shaley?” Mom tapped my leg.

“I don’t … I can’t stop the tour.”

Ross exhaled. “Rayne?”

Mom looked at the wall clock and pushed to her feet. “We can’t decide this now. It’s only fifteen minutes before we have to be back on stage. I still need to change.”

Stan stood. “I say we figure on doing Albuquerque, and then we can decide about the rest.”

“Yeah, me too.” Rich got up, along with everyone else. I could see the business-like attitude settle on all their faces, including Mom’s. Soon they had to perform again. Every other concern must be pushed aside. In the entertainment world the saying was true: the show must go on.

Within a minute everyone had left except Mom, Marshall and me. Mom threw herself into a chair by the bright mirrors so Marshall could adjust her makeup. When he left she changed into a steel blue top and skinny-legged black pants.

I sat numbly on the couch, four words running through my mind. Words, I sensed, that would change my life.

Your father sent me.

Mom didn’t know what Jerry had whispered to me as he died. I needed to tell her.

But how? Like me, she was running on empty. It would be one more shock, another scare. I wasn’t sure she could take anymore and still perform.

Had Jerry told me the truth? Had the father I’d never known—the man my mother refused to talk about—purposely sent a killer to join our tour?

I needed to know. I needed to find out. Because if it was true—the danger was far from over.

My Opinion:

Brandilynn Collins has done it again and with her daughter, Amberly by her side. Dropped into the world of rock star Rayne and her daughter Shaley you need not worry of starting with book 2 in The Rayne Tour series – book 2, “Last Breath” gets the reader up to date quickly. The story is expertly woven and pulls you into it as soon as you begin and until the last page – at which point you want more.

Like all of Collins’ books there are no risque scenes or graphic crime desciptions. Of course there are scenes that are described in the book like a car accident or reference to someone being murdered but there are no stomach turning descriptors. Overall another wonderful hit in the book world by Brandilynn Collins and the mother daughter team adds to the great writing that is trademark of her books!

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Fire Station Field Trip – October 2nd


I’m behind – with my job as mom, wife and reviewer (LOL).  We’ve been very busy and actually updating my blog with our family and school stuff has taken a back seat these past couple of weeks.  We took a field trip with our homeschool group to the Fire Station where one of the dads in our group works.  We had a long but very fun and learning-full day!

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The children were able to get hold a hose and turn the water on and off.  Surprisingly Christian did not want to participate but the girls sure did!

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We also had the chance to see the firemen work together while using the hose.  I was telling the girls that this is how we did it in the Navy.  There was no specified firefighters onboard my ship so everyone onboard was a firefighter and the left hand would hold the hose and the right hand would be on the person’s shoulder in front you.  This way you’d know if you lost a person,  there were signals for getting out, running out of oxygen, etc.  The firemen didn’t really explain this to our group so it was nice to know what they were doing and be able to tell my children.  Some departments may do it differently or for different reasons but that was how it was done in the Navy.

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Then they were allowed to get on the rescue truck, you know the one, with the jaws of life and all the equipment medics and firemen need to get you out of your home or car quickly.  Christian began crying when he got left on there by himself as the other children exited – it was quite a site seeing me climbing up the truck in my dress with the wind blowing heartily!  I tried to snap Christian’s picture before he started crying but I didn’t have success. 

We also listened to a talk about fire and CO2 detectors and how important they are.  Also the fire fighter had the children answer questions about fire safety and talk about the need for an escape and meeting plan for each family.  He showed us his gear as well.

The children were also allowed in the medic unit (what we commonly call the ambulance) but due to all the children it was hard to get good pictures and I don’t want to inadvertently post pictures of another’s child without them knowing first.  This was a great way to begin Fire Safety month as well as meet our safety requirements for our school year.

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Mom Need Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood by Debora M. Coty


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

Debora M. Coty

and the book:

Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood

Regal (April 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Rebeca Seitz of Glass Road Public Relations, LLC for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debora M. Coty is the author or contributor to several books, including Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood. A resident of Florida where she lives with her husband, Coty raised two children and enjoyed a dedicated career as an Occupational Therapist before beginning to chase her God-given dream of writing. She is known for communicating sound biblical concepts with a refreshing, light-hearted style. Her writings can be read in her monthly newspaper column, Grace Notes: God’s Grace for Everyday Living.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Regal (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0830745920
ISBN-13: 978-0830745920

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

My Cups Runneth Over

Pregnancy

A baby is an inestimable blessing and a bother.

Mark Twain

As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.

Genesis 9:7, NASB

There are a few things I’ve learned while fulfilling the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate.

Pregnancy draws you closer to your spouse. During an emergency stop in our driveway while I tossed my cookies in the grass, my husband, Chuck, tried to comfort me. Soon we were throwing up side by side. It was the most romantic thing he’s ever done. Those two brown spots on our lawn were the envy of all my friends.

Childbirth classes are invaluable informational sources. At the country hospital we’d chosen, one young farmer raised his hand the week after we learned about Braxton Hicks false labor contractions. He earnestly addressed the nurse instructor, “Ma’am, my wife’s been miserable all week. Could you tell us again about them Briggs and Stratton things?” He was the same strapping fellow who confided the first week, “We ain’t ever had any babies, but we’ve birthed a lot of cows.”

The budding momma’s swelling belly and the ledge over her innie-turned-outie navel aren’t the only evolutions in the body’s profile. Average-sized breasts become huge globes that bump into everything. It’s like having volleyballs attached to your chest. These alien chest globes take on their own personalities. I called mine the Bobbing Twins, Freddie and Flopsie. I addressed them directly: “Freddie, stop bouncing around or I’m going to fall off this bike,” or “Flopsie, you’re gonna have to squeeze into this DDD cup—there is no E.”

Finally, you’re in your ninth month. Ah, but the surprises are not over. After hours of sweating, teeth grinding and PUSHing, you are rewarded with a tiny screaming miracle. The little bugger has a surprisingly strong sucking reflex, and when he latches on, it feels like a vice grip to this incredibly sensitive part of your anatomy. You’re awfully glad you did that desensitization with the washcloth beforehand. I once commented to Chuck after performing this unpleasant ritual that rubbing myself with terrycloth made me empathize with that old table he was sanding.

“Hmmm. Yes, dear,” he answered, only half listening. I later overheard him inform his sister on the phone, “Debbie uses sandpaper on her chest to get ready for the baby.” No wonder his family thinks I’m weird.

Shortly after giving birth, my friend Julia (also a nursing mother) and I decided to take a well-deserved tennis break. Leaving the babies with their daddies, we headed for the courts. The blissful quiet was shattered by a wailing infant in a passing stroller, triggering that mysterious internal milk breaker switch. Julia and I simultaneously clutched our chests like gunshot victims at the incoming flood.

“Stop it, Freddie! Not now, Flopsie!” I pleaded with the Twins as two dark, wet spots appeared in strategic locations on the front of my white tennis shirt. Julia and I mopped ourselves between points with a soggy sweatband, bringing strange new meaning to the term, “bosom buddies.”1

Son of Man, thank You for the blessing of family and the miracle of babies. Make me more like You because they may end up being like me.

Note

1. Adapted from “My Cups Runneth Over” by Debora M. Coty, first appearing in Today’s Christian Woman, November/December 2004 issue. Used by permission.

My opinion:

This is a refreshing look at motherhood with encouragement and humor. Debora Coty makes it feel as if you are sitting in her living room and talking about all things mom. She uses her parenting experience of her two children, who are now in college to relate and give inspiration and encouragement to moms – new, old, young, one child or 10 – this books gives you a bite sized chunk filled with love and humor (and some seriousness) and Scripture that will life you up as you go down the road of motherhood.

I will say that there were a couple times I couldn’t relate to some of the children’s antics because our life is different and I homeschool my children but I still found a lot in this book that can give you a laugh when a child just took a tumble and you can’t see anything to laugh at right now. With subjects like pregnancy, marital harmony, God’s omnipotence, heritage, depression, intimacy, Godly parenting, peer pressure and many more – you’re sure to find a lot that will relate back to your life and make for an enjoyable read.

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So Much More Than Sexy by Mark Atteberry


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

Mark Atteberry

and the book:

So Much More Than Sexy

Standard Publishing (July 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc.for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Atteberry has been a minister since 1975, serving at Poinciana Christian Church in Kissimmee, Florida, since 1989. He’s been married to his high school sweetheart, Marilyn, for 32 years. Mark is the author of six books including Free Refill, The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do, Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel (a Retailers’ Choice Award finalist), The Caleb Quest, and The Samson Syndrome(chosen as a Bible study tool by many NFL teams, including the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Miami Dolphins and used as team Bible study by both 2007 Super Bowl participants, the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, during their championship seasons). His books have been endorsed by Karen Kingsbury, Donald Miller, Randy Alcorn, John Maxwell, Barbara Johnson, Angela Thomas, Pat Williams, Steve Green, and others.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Standard Publishing (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078472119X
ISBN-13: 978-0784721193

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

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For Marilyn, Michelle, and Alyssa,

who make me so much more than happy.

Gene Fowler said, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”1 A little melodramatic perhaps. On the other hand, there are days when he doesn’t seem that far off base. Because writing is so hard, you need people in your life who make it easier. I am blessed to have a lot of them. Here are a few I would be ashamed not to mention.

Marilyn, my wife, who helps me in so many ways, I couldn’t begin to enumerate them. As the business aspect of my life accelerates, she keeps me organized and pointed in the right direction without ever letting any of it get in the way of our romance.

Lee Hough, my agent, who represents me with integrity and class. Long ago we moved beyond being author and agent and just became friends. We spend as much time laughing, telling stories, and sharing prayer requests as we do talking about my book projects.

Dr. Les Hardin, my friend and “Bible scholar of choice” when I need some deeper insights into a difficult passage of Scripture. He’s forgotten more about the Bible than I will ever know.

Dale Reeves, Lindsay Black, Sarah Felkey, and Lynn Pratt, my friends at Standard Publishing, who are true professionals in every sense of the word . . . and fun too. They somehow plucked a concept out of my head and turned it into something you can hold in your hands.

Diane Stortz, my editor, who blew me away with her keen insights. She understood what I was aiming at in this book and helped me zero in on the target.

Kelsey Kingsbury (yes, that Kingsbury), who wrote the foreword. Kelsey is a beautiful young woman who epitomizes the message of this book. I am so honored that her first published words are in my book. I doubt they’ll be her last.

Karen Kingsbury, a dear friend who gets the credit (or the blame) for my being a published author.

And you, my readers, who always inspire me with your kind e-mails.

Foreword

I grew up always performing. As a little girl I would gracefully dance across our living room floor while loudly singing a beautiful song to Jesus. I really believed that I would grow up to become a beautiful princess, meet my perfect and handsome prince, and we would live happily ever after. And I still do. The Bible says, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). My parents gave this verse to me when I was a little girl, and I still cling to the powerful message it holds. God truly has an amazing plan for my future handsome prince and me as long as I keep my eyes toward him.

When I was a freshman in high school, I made the cheerleading team, along with all of my very best friends. I soon realized that others around me considered cheerleaders as uneducated and simply sexy. But I desired to be an example of how a cheerleader—or any woman—really can be so much more than sexy.

Being female isn’t easy. Getting ready in the morning can be a huge battle, and ladies, you know exactly what I am talking about! First we take a shower, then we attempt to blow-dry and style our hair, and last but not least is putting on makeup and choosing an outfit—and don’t forget, we need to complete this mission in warp time. The time it takes a guy to get ready is no time at all (and trust me, I have five brothers!).

Women face a lot of pressure to look a certain way. We live in a celebrity-obsessed world, and we tend to look up to the stick-thin models we read about in gossip magazines. This unhealthy way of thinking is completely damaging to us personally and, in the end, to our society. I have gone through the many ups and downs of being a young woman. I’ve had guy problems, makeup problems, days when I felt fat, clothes problems, cravings for material things, and all of these incidents have left me feeling empty and never good enough.

Mark Atteberry’s book explains the importance of beauty coming not only from the outside but most significantly from inside, from our hearts. (My dad has always called me his precious princess, and I think all Christian women should look at themselves as God’s princesses.) While reading this book, I found that every chapter delivers an amazing truth I needed to hear. The way Mark breaks down these everyday issues of always trying to be sexy is brilliant. He gives us an inside look at a guy’s brain and promises us that there are real godly guys holding out for you and me. This book is a great reminder for all women to always hold a high standard for ourselves when dealing with men, dating, marriage, and especially our self-image. God made us in his perfect image; let’s cling to that truth. Whatever our age, we are so much more than sexy!

In God’s love,

Kelsey Kingsbury

daughter of #1 inspirational fiction author Karen Kingsbury

Introduction

“All men think about is sex!”

You’ve heard it a thousand times.

If you’re a woman, you’ve probably said it a thousand times.

But I’m here to tell you it isn’t true. My purpose in this book is to slide a stick of dynamite under this long-held misconception and light the fuse. I think it’s high time to explode this lie and let you in on a dynamic, life-changing secret: millions of men in this world are looking for so much more than sex.

Oh, I can understand why you wouldn’t think so. Sadly, there are just enough classless, immature men out there to make it seem true, and pop culture constantly portrays men in the tawdriest terms possible. In the movie Bruce Almighty, for example, Jim Carrey plays an ordinary guy who gets to possess all the powers of God. And what does he do? Wipe out poverty? Put an end to oppression? Bring peace to the Middle East? Of course not! Instead, he sends a perfectly timed gust of wind so he can get a peek under a pretty girl’s skirt. Then with the snickering glee of a hormone-crazed teenager, he has the brilliant idea of making his wife’s breasts larger.

Tacky, you say?

Of course, but what do you expect? He’s a guy!

Or maybe you remember the beer ad that shows two guys sitting in a crowded bar, dreaming up the perfect Miller Lite commercial. Their naughty little minds conjure up a couple of gorgeous women who start arguing about whether the beer is better tasting or less filling. Before you can say bimbo, the two women are pulling hair, ripping clothes, and tumbling nearly naked into a public fountain. As the scene fades, our typical males are shown back in the bar, nodding in hearty approval, hefting their brewskies, and pronouncing their fantasy a true work of art.

Oh yes, I can understand why you would think that sex is all men care about. But speaking as a man—and one who’s met and talked to thousands of other men across the country—I’m convinced there’s a lie being perpetrated here. I believe that Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44), has three reasons for working overtime to hoodwink you.

First, he wants to sow seeds of disrespect toward men in the hearts of women of all ages. God has given men great leadership responsibilities in the home, the church, and the world. Therefore, anything Satan can do to make it harder for women and girls to respect men strikes a mighty blow against God’s plan.

Satan also wants to sow seeds of sensuality in our culture. If he can convince you—especially when you’re young—that sex is all men care about, it’s inevitable that talking, acting, and dressing provocatively will seem the thing to do. And I can’t think of a word that better describes our culture than provocative. Bare midriffs, plunging necklines, and low-riding, skin-tight jeans are the order of the day. Even preteen girls dress (and sometimes act) like the pop culture divas they idolize.

Third, Satan wants to sow seeds of hopelessness in marriages. Every time a clueless husband is preoccupied, inattentive, or rude all day long and then suddenly morphs into Prince Charming when he crawls under the covers, he unwittingly reinforces the man-as-insensitive-sex-maniac stereotype that culture has already planted in his wife’s mind. She may give in to his advances, but it will likely be with a halfhearted, let’s-just-hurry-up-and-get-it-over-with attitude. Pile enough of those heartless, robotic exercises on top of each other, and any woman would feel empty and hopeless.

When I started writing books several years ago, I never dreamed I’d write one for women. I’m not into Bath & Body Works, HGTV, or any of the other girlie things I see my wife and daughter enjoying. To be honest, I don’t even pretend to understand women. After being married for more than thirty years, raising a daughter, and being a pastor to thousands of women, I still find them infinitely and wonderfully mysterious. I wholeheartedly agree with author Angela Thomas, who writes, “The woman is a mystery that the man can’t unlock. Her desires seem to him like a moving target.”2

But that doesn’t mean I’m blind.

As a pastor I’ve been observing this devilish lie about men and watching it undermine God’s plan for male-female relationships for a long, long time. I’ve finally come to the place where I have to speak up.

In this book I’m going to challenge you to reconsider some things you may have always believed about men and the best way to interact with them. No, I’m not going to try to sell you on the notion that all men are gentlemen. Clearly, many are not. But I do know without a doubt that there are still a lot of us left who can see beyond the swell of a woman’s breast.

Imagine how this new understanding could profoundly change your life.

For one thing, it would take some pressure off. It would allow you to be more real, to concentrate more on the development of your inner qualities rather than always thinking you have to compete with the pretty blonde in the deep V-neck who works in your boyfriend’s or husband’s office. For another, your relationship with your man could be invigorated if, instead of trying to breathe new life into your wheezing relationship with skimpy outfits and the latest perfumes, you started to build some new, more meaningful bridges from your heart to his.

If you’re skeptical, I’m not surprised. I know that many women have experienced the very worst that testosterone has to offer. If you’ve pretty much lost all respect for men and are thinking this book is a monumental waste of paper, I plead with you to keep an open mind.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being sexy. (Actually, I’m very much in favor of it!) I’m just saying that many women aim too low . . . that there’s something much higher and much more wonderful for you to shoot for.

Something millions of guys would give anything to find.

Something so much more than sexy.

1

The Myths in the Mirror

Tracy, I’m in love with you, no matter what you weigh.

—Link Larkin in Hairspray

I wouldn’t want to be a woman.

No way.

I wouldn’t be able to take the pressure to always look beautiful. A guy can have a paunch, wrinkles, thinning hair, gray hair, or even no hair, and still be cast as the romantic lead in a Hollywood blockbuster, but any woman with the same physical traits will end up playing the senile grandma with an afghan over her lap, spitting out saucy one-liners between slobbers.

And this foolishness all starts at birth.

Just listen to those proud relatives pressing their noses up against the hospital nursery window. If the baby is wrapped in a pink blanket, they’ll call her beautiful, gorgeous, a little doll, or a real heartbreaker one of these days. But if the baby’s wrapped in blue, they’ll likely predict a college scholarship for the little linebacker. I have no doubt that if you wrapped the girl baby in blue and the boy baby in pink, you’d get the same color-coded comments.

And the pressure builds from there.

It isn’t long before a little girl becomes enamored with the Disney princesses, all beautifully and flawlessly rendered, and ends up shrieking with delight when her parents give her princess paraphernalia for Christmas. You can bet that even before the wrapping paper is carted away, she’ll be stylin’—click-clacking through the house in her plastic high heels and sparkly dress, soaking up oohs and aahs from everyone except her bratty little brother, who’s too busy blowing things up on his new computer game to notice.

Then of course, there’s high school, where so much of the popularity pecking order is based on looks. It’s the pretty girls who are the best bets to be cheerleaders, homecoming queens, and Saturday-night dates for quarterbacks and cleanup hitters.

And don’t even get me started on the many doodads women use on a daily basis to ready themselves for public scrutiny. We guys only need five things in our bathrooms: a comb, a razor, a toothbrush, some toilet paper, and the sports page. We can knock off our whiskers with a dull razor, run a comb through our hair (even this is optional nowadays), brush our teeth, and we’re good to go. Ten minutes tops. But you are expected to address the cosmetic needs of every feature, from head to toe.

The hair has to be perfectly mussed.

The eyebrows have to be plucked or waxed.

The eyes themselves have to be lined and shadowed.

The nose has to be powdered so it won’t shine.

The lips have to be glossed so they will.

The ears have to have the proper bangle (or two or three) dangling from them.

The bra has to perform miracles.

The outfit has to coordinate.

And the shoes have to be cute or sexy. (It doesn’t matter if they cause excruciating pain, just so they’re cute or sexy.)

Finally, there’s the weight issue. It’s much easier to be a little overweight if you’re a guy. Among other things, you’ll be called strapping instead of fat (I don’t know what strapping means, but it definitely sounds better than fat), you’ll get to hit cleanup on the softball team, and no one will dare pick a fight with you—because heavy guys are assumed to be tough, whether they are or not.

But if you’re what the fashion mags call curvy or plus size, the pressure’s on . . . to buy a ThighMaster, to eat like a rabbit, to actually use your ThighMaster, to eat like a rabbit, to walk twenty miles a day, to eat like a rabbit, to sweat to the oldies, and to eat like a rabbit. If you fail to do these things with the fervor of an Olympic athlete in training, or—Heaven forbid—if you’re ever seen eating a doughnut in public, someone (probably a woman who’s never had a weight problem) will comment on how sad it is that you’ve given up or let yourself go.

Somebody, somewhere dubbed women the fair sex. I think maybe the unfair sex would be more appropriate because of the outrageous pressure you are under to live up to culture’s current definition of beauty. I say “current definition” because the standard constantly changes.

The very first Miss America, sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman, won her crown in 1921. I assume men back then considered Margaret to be a babe, yet any man looking at her picture today would have a hard time controlling snickers.

In the 1950s, all eyes were on a voluptuous Marilyn Monroe. Ten years later, all the magazine covers featured ninety-five-pound Twiggy. Fifty-year-old women were once considered way over the hill, but now women such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Oprah Winfrey, and Lauren Hutton—all over fifty—epitomize beauty, grace, and style. In fact, in 2005 Big magazine invited Lauren Hutton, at the age of sixty-one, to appear in its pages nude, something that would have been unthinkable a few years earlier.

No one can predict how beauty will be defined by our culture ten or twenty years from now. Who knows? Shaved heads might be the hot new trend. Absolutely nothing will surprise me. The only thing I’ll bet on is that whatever culture is demanding, women will still feel pressure to try and deliver it.

[A head] Mirror Myths

Lest you misunderstand, let me say emphatically that I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with a woman wanting to look and feel attractive. In the musical West Side Story, Maria sings with exuberance about how pretty she feels. It’s a joyous, refreshingly innocent moment in the story. There’s no haughtiness. No panting sexuality. Just a young woman experiencing what every woman seems to long for. “I truly believe that the longing to be known as beautiful is part of our design as women,” Angela Thomas writes. “God put us together this way on purpose. We are wired to long for beauty and to be known as beautiful.”3 Nothing in my experience with women would lead me to disagree.

And yet . . . I know that what you believe when you look in the mirror can be a myth. In fact, there are three spiritually and emotionally debilitating mirror myths I’d like to explode right now.

[B head] Myth #1: What You See Is What You Are

Wicked Queen Jezebel knew her days as the matriarch of Israel were numbered (2 Kings 9). Her idiot husband, Ahab, was dead, and God had chosen a young man named Jehu to replace her son Joram as king. And not only had God chosen Jehu to be king, he instructed Jehu to wipe out Jezebel and her entire family as punishment for their many sins.

Jezebel knew that Jehu and his men were coming. They had killed her sons and she was next. So what did she do? Run for her life? Assemble her bodyguards and batten down the hatches? Drink the Kool-Aid? No. “She painted her eyelids and fixed her hair and sat at a window” (v. 30).

Interesting, don’t you think?

Did she get herself all dolled up in an effort to seduce Jehu and perhaps change his mind about killing her? Possibly, but I doubt it. More likely she simply thought, If I’m going out, I’m going to go out looking good! And keep in mind, she was the queen. She would have owned the finest garments and the most expensive jewels. When she put the finishing touches on her do and pirouetted in front of the mirror, I’m sure she was pleased with what she saw.

But she was still a hag, and everybody knew it.

A beautiful face or body doesn’t make you a beautiful person, because your character is always going to trump your looks. Think about Britney Spears, once considered one of the hottest-looking females in America. There was even a TV commercial that showed a geeky, fast-food burger flipper allowing his burgers to burst into flames while he stared, open mouthed, at an overhead TV monitor where a scantily clad Britney was bumping and grinding like a cheap stripper.

But that was before her life began to unravel.

Britney’s foolish choices and reckless—even brainless—behavior made her a national joke. Her endorsement contracts and public appearances dried up, not because she suddenly became physically ugly, but because her character trumped her looks.

Have you ever wondered why many of the most beautiful Hollywood actors and actresses can’t stay married? You’d think if a guy was fortunate enough to marry a glamorous woman with centerfold looks . . . or if a woman snagged a hunky athlete or matinee idol, they’d never want to let go. Yet many such marriages last only a year or two and often end with much bitterness and hateful mudslinging.

Once again, character trumps looks. The person hasn’t been born who is gorgeous enough to overcome a corrupt heart.

Mark it down: what you see when you look in a mirror is not what you are. What’s in your heart is what you are. That’s why wise King Solomon did not say, “Above all else, make sure your eyeliner isn’t smudged and there’s no lipstick on your teeth.” Instead, he said, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23).

[B head] Myth #2: What You See Is What Others See

Check out these words from plastic surgeon Michelle Copeland. I found them right at the beginning of chapter 1 of her book Change Your Looks, Change Your Life:

Take a long, honest look in the mirror. You can do it for real (turn on that harsh overhead light and peel off some clothing), but my bet is that you’ve done it often enough to know what it is about your body or face that you’d like to change.

What is it, for you? Maybe you’ve caught sight of that wattle that blurs your chin line (or worse, that hangs over your crisp white collar) too many times. Maybe it’s the crow’s-feet that grab makeup and make a spray of fright lines at the corners of your eyes. Maybe it’s your nose or earlobes, both of which sag as we age. Maybe it’s your “Hi Janes” (the fleshy underside of the arm that continues to wiggle after you’ve stopped waving hello to your friend Jane); do they make you avoid wearing your favorite sleeveless blouse or halter top? Maybe it’s your breasts—how far down has gravity pulled them? Maybe it’s your stomach—are you willing to expose your midriff? . . . Maybe it’s your hips: Is there no A-line skirt out there that can hide hips that bear witness to every Krispy Kreme you’ve wolfed down? Maybe it’s those pesky spider veins, crisscrossing the backs of your legs like road maps of the East Coast. I could go on and on. . . .

That’s the bad news. But we’re positive thinkers here, and we’re going to leave harsh reality behind. Instead, let’s conjure that wonderful phrase again: “What if?”4

This does indeed seem to be how many of you look at yourselves. You ignore the big picture (which can be very attractive) and become obsessed with the details (which are never ever going to be perfect). I’ve listened to many beautiful women put themselves down because of this or that flaw. Sometimes I’ve stared and thought, Huh? What are you talking about? I literally could not see what they believed to be so obvious.

I once heard a young woman talking about how fat she was and how she needed to go on a diet. I asked her how much she weighed (yes, she was a good friend or I wouldn’t have dared), and she said, “I’m up to 120.” I shook my head. “Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?” I asked her. “There’s not another person on this planet who would call you fat.” And she began to argue with me, explaining that her clothes were tight and she had flab on her rear end and the backs of her thighs.

Please get this: what you see when you look in a mirror is not what everyone else sees. (Unless, of course, you’re the world’s tallest woman, but that’s another story.) Most people—guys especially—see the big picture. Yes, we are famous for checking out certain parts of the female anatomy, but that’s in our God-given DNA. I still contend that most of us are not looking for or expecting perfection. We’re smart enough to know that the glossy centerfold has had her pimples and moles and cellulite airbrushed into oblivion . . . and without her makeup on looks pretty much like any other woman.

I believe one of the best and healthiest things you could do for yourself would be to give up the microscopic scrutiny of every square inch of your body . . . and the whining and complaining that go along with it. I also believe God would appreciate not having to listen to you dis his handiwork. Remember, that nose you hate is a one-of-a-kind original designed by the master artist himself.

[B head] Myth #3: What You See Makes or Breaks Your Love Life

The movie version of the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical Hairspray released in theaters all across America in July 2007. My wife, Marilyn, loves musicals and so do I, so we were among the first to see it. We enjoyed it, but what really blew us away was how stridently it contradicts the message pop culture tries to hammer into our heads.

Set in 1962, the story focuses on Tracy Turnblad, a high school girl with big hair and even bigger dreams. She fantasizes about being one of the featured dancers on a locally produced American Bandstand–style television show. She also happens to think the lead dancer, Link Larkin, is the hunk to end all hunks. But alas, Tracy is considerably overweight. All the other dancers on the show are slim and trim, especially Link’s girlfriend, a snooty, drop-dead gorgeous blonde who happens to be the lead dancer. Even Tracy’s overweight mother (played hilariously by John Travolta) discourages her from trying out for a spot on the show, because she fears Tracy will only be humiliated. And as far as Tracy’s crush on Link goes, everybody knows a good-looking guy would never be interested in a girl with a weight problem.

But two hours and several production numbers later, the movie closes with Tracy and Link kissing center screen while snooty Miss Drop-Dead Gorgeous pouts in the background. Final score: size 16–1, size 5–0.

Unrealistic, you say?

I beg to differ.

Open your eyes and look around. The world is full of Tracy Turnblads, women who are not prototypical beauties according to society’s standards but who more than make up for it with character and personality. They often end up riding into the sunset with the love of their lives, while more than a few so-called beauties in this world spend their lives bouncing from relationship to relationship and never find true happiness.

The other day Marilyn and I were in a restaurant when a family of four walked in and took a table nearby. Dad was a handsome guy, fit and clean-cut. The kids were preschoolers, cute as they could be. And mom was, well . . . let’s just say she wasn’t going to win the Mrs. America pageant anytime soon. But there she sat, with a handsome husband, two cute kids, and a smile on her face.

I looked at Marilyn and said, “There sits Tracy Turnblad.”

Don’t think for a minute that because you aren’t centerfold material you have no shot at love. It just isn’t true. The next time you’re in a restaurant, at a ball game, or strolling though the mall, just look around at the couples. You’ll see Tracy Turnblads everywhere.

[A head] Drawing the Line

This morning when I signed on to AOL, a link to seven “beauty secrets” for women appeared. With everything you’ve just read fresh on my mind, I had to click on it. What I found were some very interesting products. Among them:

Control-It! Omega3 Nail Biting Cream. It’s odorless, invisible, and will not stain. But it tastes bad. No way you’re going to munch your pinkies with this stuff on. They say it’s guaranteed to give you beautiful nails in no time. No self-discipline required.

Fake Bake, Sunless and Skinny. The name says it all. It’s a cream that promises to tan, firm, and tone you all at the same time while you kick back and relax. Must be the seaweed it contains that does the trick.

But my favorite was Poutrageous Lip Plumper, “the answer to achieving the perfectly plump pout seen in all the magazines.” That claim alone should guarantee millions in sales.

Knowing where to draw the line in the pursuit of beauty and romantic fulfillment is one of the biggest challenges you face as a woman. All kinds of products, treatments, and surgeries promise to work miracles on your appearance, and their suppliers will try everything they can think of (including trashing your self-esteem) to get you to fork over your hard-earned money. Let’s face it. It’s in their interest to keep you believing those mirror myths I just addressed. The uglier you think you are . . . the more desperate you feel . . . the more you believe your looks will determine your happiness . . . the more you feel compelled to compete with that saucy little number in the next cubicle—the better the chance they have of getting into your pocketbook.

You simply must draw a line.

No, I’m not saying your bathroom should look like a man’s. I realize a girl needs her stuff. But at some point you need to slam on the brakes and say, “Enough is enough. I can be happy, feel good about myself, and have an interesting love life whether or not I achieve the perfectly plump pout seen in all the magazines.”

The challenge is knowing where to draw the line.

Allow me to offer three suggestions.

[B head] Suggestion #1: Embrace Reality

Do not, under any circumstances, deny who and what you are. Not long ago MTV created a show called I Want a Famous Face. It featured young people who were willing to undergo plastic surgery in order to look like their favorite celebrities. Ridiculous, you say? Indeed! But before you bang the gavel and pronounce yourself innocent, realize that you can make the same mistake in nonsurgical ways.

In her book God Chicks, Holly Wagner talks about the time she abandoned her God-given nature in an effort to become like a couple of older women who were successful Bible teachers:

I imitated these women in their teaching styles, their mannerisms, and their dress—all because I felt that if they were successful, then I needed to become like them. What an idiot I was!! One day as I was wrestling with my fifth pair of panty hose, and I was complaining about the sadistic man (I’m sure it was a man!) who invented them, I heard the Spirit of God laughing at me. (He does laugh, you know!) I felt that God was asking me what I was doing. I assured Him that I was getting dressed so I could go teach, and I was putting on panty hose because my two heroes wore panty hose and I needed to be like them in order to fulfill my destiny on earth. The Father quickly assured me that He didn’t need me to be like them. They were fine being themselves, and He didn’t need anyone else doing their jobs. He did, however, have a job for me to do on the planet, and He would empower me as soon as I was comfortable being who He created me to be.5

It’s not unusual to see both men and women living in denial when it comes to their appearance. The guy who wears a severe comb-over or the woman who’s still squeezing herself into size 8 jeans even though she hasn’t actually been a size 8 since the first Bush became president—both are living in fantasy worlds. So is the sixty-year-old grandma with bleached blonde hair and short shorts. So is the teenage girl with the bare midriff who looks like she just swallowed a football. Holly Wagner says she sensed God laughing as she, a non-panty-hose kind of girl, wrestled her panty hose like a python.

I can buy the notion of him chuckling at some of our fashion misadventures, but I can’t help wondering if there comes a point where he finds it all a little heartbreaking. When we refuse to be ourselves, aren’t we saying something about his handiwork?

I speak for a whole bunch of guys when I say that a woman who recognizes and embraces her reality is far more attractive than a woman who goes around every day wearing what amounts to a Halloween costume.

[B head] Suggestion #2: Build Your Look from the Inside Out

The apostle Peter wrote, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” (1 Peter 3:3, 4). When Peter says not to be concerned about outward beauty, I don’t believe he means you should get up and go to work with bed head and bad breath. He’s simply saying that true beauty flows from the inside out.

Isn’t it true that people get better looking on the outside when you get to know them and realize they are beautiful on the inside? And it works in reverse too. I’ve met many beautiful women who, when I realized they were self-centered or immoral, suddenly started looking very ordinary. I believe this explains how women who might be considered homely or unattractive end up having extraordinary romantic relationships. What they lack in outer beauty, they more than make up for with inner beauty. And because men are spiritual beings as well as physical, we’re powerfully drawn to those beautiful inner qualities.

Sadly, even though good character is the greatest beauty secret of them all, you will probably never see it listed alongside the lip plumpers and tanning creams, online or anywhere else. Oh, and one more thing—I don’t know what a six-month supply of Poutrageous Lip Plumper costs, but I know that good character is free.

[B head] Suggestion #3: Be Modest

I’ll talk more about this in the next chapter, but it bears mentioning here. As you try to decide where to draw the line in your pursuit of beauty and romantic fulfillment, you’re going to be tempted to believe that tighter and skimpier is sexier. Trust me when I tell you that every day we guys see women we wish would put more clothes on.

When I see a woman dressed immodestly, I wonder if she’s trying to fill a void in her life. Is she feeling insignificant and crying out to be noticed? Is loneliness driving her to pull out all the stops in an effort to snag a companion? Do the lustful stares of strangers help her stave off the whispers of tattered self-esteem? Perhaps not in every case, but it isn’t unusual for inner struggles to produce highly visible attitudes and behaviors.

The apostle Paul wrote, “I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do” (1 Timothy 2:9, 10). I once heard a woman who had just read those verses say, “It sounds like God wants us all to be frumpy.” (By frumpy she meant matronly, unattractive, the opposite of sexy.) This is a classic example of how Satan has brainwashed us. The very notion that modesty isn’t sexy has the devil’s fingerprints all over it. I’m convinced that there are millions of men who actually prefer a classy, modestly dressed woman to one who looks cheap and trashy. And the men who don’t aren’t worth your time anyway.

Jesus said, “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you” (John 15:19). This business of coming out of the world is the real issue here. It could mean different things to different people, but for a woman in our modern culture it certainly means wrestling with that image in the mirror. And wrestling might even be an understatement if you’ve been plugged into the world’s mind-set your whole life and are just now starting to realize that God has a different plan for you. Breaking free of culture’s grip and adopting a whole new way of thinking, dressing, and acting might be the biggest challenge you’ll ever face. Old habits die kicking and screaming.

But they do die if someone cares enough to kill them.

And they need to die if you want to be free.

As long as you allow the myths in the mirror to dictate the way you dress, act, and feel about yourself, you will be ruling out a world of wonderful possibilities. You might feel that the more you doll yourself up, the more your horizons expand. But I believe the opposite is true. The more makeup you layer on, the shorter your hemline gets, the more risqué your conversations become, the fewer decent men will be interested in you. Oh sure, you’ll grab their attention; but just remember, the monkeys at the zoo grab their attention too. That doesn’t mean they want to take one home.

You have a choice. As a woman, you can work to become what culture says you ought to be or what God says you ought to be. Ultimately, your choice and your future will be determined by what you believe when you stand in front of that mirror.
So Much More Than Sexy

Do you feel anxious about your looks? Is there something (or maybe more than one thing) about your looks that you’ve always hated? Do you have a tendency to compare yourself to other women? What’s the most radical thing (funny or serious) you’ve ever done to try to improve your looks?

Do you agree that character is the greatest beauty secret of them all? Can you name people who have become more beautiful in your eyes as you have gotten to know their character? What improvements could you make in your character that might make you more beautiful?

Read 1 Peter 3:3, 4. Up to this point in your life, have you worked harder on your looks or your inner qualities? What are some specific inner qualities you could cultivate that would make you more beautiful?

So Much More Than Sexy

Mark Atteberry

Published by Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, Ohio

http://www.standardpub.com

Copyright © 2009 by Mark Atteberry

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for brief quotations in reviews, without the written permission of the publisher.

Substantive editor: Diane Stortz

Project editor: Lynn Lusby Pratt

Cover design: Susan Koski Zucker

Interior design:

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation second edition. Copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc. 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920.

ISBN 978-0-7847-2119-3

15 14 13 12 11 10 09 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

My Opinion:

This was my first time reading Mark Atteberry’s writings and I am happy that I did, even though he’s a man he really hit home on how a woman’s thinking of men and of themselves can affect how see they see themselves. Using Scripture he backs up everything he writes about with sound Biblical advice. He also uses his wife’s input on some of his writings. I do admit given the nature of the title and the slinky black dress on the cover I have to turn it around backwards on the bookshelf so that my children don’t read it – but it’s a great book.

He addresses the myths us women believe in and tears them down one by one, such as what you see are what others see. As I read through each myth I realized how much Satan is at work in our minds to make us believe we are not beautiful when in acctuality we are because we were made by God Himself. He also gives ideas for overcoming the obstacles that are faced either in the mirror or elsewhere. I enjoyed the chapter on ‘Whatever Happened to Good Taste?’ when Atteberry discusses the fasions that women so find themselves squeezed into with certain areas that are meant to be hidden are on display.

Just because Mark Atteberry is a man does not mean he cannot write this book, he is very knowledgable on the subject of women. Mr. Atteberry wants to do away with the feminist mind set that all men think about are sex and that they don’t want a godly, feminine woman. That is what the world wants you to believe and Mr. Atteberry really cracks the feminist mindset on this way of thinking. I highly recommend this book even if you must turn it around on the bookshelf!

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Messages to Myself: Overcoming a Distorted Self Image by Dr. Helen McIntosh


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

Dr. Helen McIntosh

and the book:

Messages To Myself: Overcoming a Distorted Self-Image

Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (May 15, 2009)

***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc.for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Helen McIntosh has a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified in Reality Therapy, speaker, author, and inventor of The Peace Rug®. She spent 18 years in public education. As school counselor, she wrote the book, Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug® to help students resolve conflicts with peers. Fox News has shown interest in her work in school violence. She has written for Guideposts and ParentLife, and has been reviewed in BookPleasures.com, Good News Tucson, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, Daily Citizen newspapers, and will be reviewed on CBN.org, Miami Motherhood, Esperanza and hopetocope.com, The Christian Post, and others.

Messages To Myself: Overcoming a Distorted Self-Image is published by Beacon Hill Press (June 2009) and is endorsed by Stasi Eldredge, Kay Arthur, Steve Arterburn, Sheila Walsh, June Hunt, and Jan Silvious.

Visit the author’s website and The Peace Rug®.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (May 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0834124564
ISBN-13: 978-0834124561

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

1

What Are You Thinking?

I thought I handled the blows in my life and to my sense of well-being with a learned Southern charm and grace: “Well, okay—if that’s what you think” or “If that’s what you say, then it must be true.” After all, why would anyone intentionally wound me or cause me to question his or her words or actions?

I slowly came to realize, though, that not everyone—including my loved ones—understood the power their words had over me or understood that I allowed their words to dominate my thinking and what I believed about myself. Over time, I came to understand that there were feelings and emotions deep inside that I couldn’t account for. I didn’t remember how or why they resided in my heart, but I wanted to banish them and the damage they had caused.

I didn’t know that my thoughts and my behavior were linked in any way. So when I had a specific thought about a person’s actions or a word that was spoken to me, I didn’t realize how much it affected the way I lived.

The effects of these words and actions also affected the way I viewed relationships—my relationship with myself and my relationships with others. I knew I needed to reframe (“reframe” is a term I use to mean picturing something in a different light) years of pain and frustration, but I had no role model to follow.

The Truth Chart

The Truth Chart process that I developed was initially developed for my own mental health. I began using it in 1970, but it was many years before I began sharing it with others. Now I have almost daily opportunities to share this method, and I have been surprised and humbled by the results. The participants in the classes I teach and those I counsel in my private practice continue to share that they have had dramatic changes in their thinking patterns and behaviors. These individuals have encouraged me to put these ideas into this book so others can experience what they have discovered regarding depression, emotional anxiety, and personal thought life. They have shared that these ideas are novel, concrete, and practical.

For most of my childhood and into my adulthood, I thought of myself as vanilla—you know, just plain vanilla. No sparkle, no color, nothing memorable. Certainly not jamocha almond fudge or white chocolate strawberry—just vanilla.

Many damaging messages were delivered to me by people who were important to me during the course of my life: “Can’t you do anything right?” “You’re so weak, so stupid, so clumsy . . .” I had internalized those messages, and they had become a major component in my self-talk and poor self-image. Samples of my internal scripts were “I am a zero.” “I never do anything right.”

In addition to these damaging conversations with myself, I had never really internalized God’s view of me either. These became more than just internal thoughts—they became wounds that affected me deeply. The wounds were far deeper than a skinned knee here and there, although there were many of those. The wounds I’m referring to were name-calling, displays of anger and rage, and actions against me.

Since I invited Christ to come into my life as my Savior and Lord many years ago, I’ve been totally convinced that God loves me and has a plan for my life. I knew He had forgiven my sins and answered many prayers. I’ve taught Sunday School and Bible studies since my salvation experience, and I have taught biblical life principles to others and believed them as truth. But when I had feelings of not being special or had feelings of not being of value to God, I didn’t really label those thoughts as lies. I taught others about guarding their thoughts, but I never really internalized the application of these principles into my own thought life. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe I was special to God. But there were wounds—deep internal messages from others—that superseded God’s messages to me. Fortunately, that has all changed.

Not too long ago I asked God for the name He had for me. I first heard of this concept at a conference by author John Eldredge a few years ago, but I didn’t ask God right then. This idea originated in the passage of Scripture from John 10:3 about how “the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (nkjv, emphasis added). I knew it was important for me to hear God’s name for me; I just wasn’t sure I really wanted to know. I was confident it would be something vanilla.

Recently, though, I decided I needed to know. I didn’t hear God’s audible voice, but clearly and distinctly, after a time of prayer, came the phrase “Warrior Princess.” Wow! Nothing vanilla about “Warrior Princess!” God had reframed my thoughts even about who I am.

We make choices like that every day—every moment of every day. What are we to believe when we have certain ongoing thoughts and feelings? Thoughts and feelings may feel very real. But are they true?

The purpose of this book is to help you be attentive to your thoughts and feelings, but you must not get stuck in reflections and past hurts. Instead, look at your thoughts and feelings from the truth of God’s perspective. You are not wiping out the real and honest wounds or reflections or even the in-depth processing of these things that come to your heart and mind. They are to be validated; but don’t get stuck there.

Wounds in Action

Once you are able to see your wounds and reflections from God’s point of view, you can be freed from ongoing despondency, depression, anger, and anxiety. Remember the word I used earlier, “reframing”? Here’s a recent personal story to illustrate what reframing is.

It was the week before I was scheduled to speak at a women’s retreat. It was a cold, drizzly afternoon. I had just dropped off my granddaughter at her home and was only a few blocks away. I went through a fast-food drive-through and picked up some large containers of soup, which I put on the floor of my car to take to my mother-in-law.

Traffic was thick, as it always is on this busiest street at the busiest time in the afternoon—bumper to bumper. I have no idea how it happened, really, and I offer no excuses. But before I knew it, I was looking down at the soup that was wobbling on the floor—and I reached for it, consequently bumping the car in front of me suddenly. My car had moved forward—apparently my foot slipped—and I was thrust into one of the most embarrassing moments of my life! It was followed by such personal agony—a genuine shame attack. I am such a disaster. How could I have done that? I will never be trusted ever again to drive my granddaughters. A lot of people saw it. I felt totally exposed! I had stopped traffic, and I felt as if hundreds of pairs of eyes were watching and calling me stupid.

XXX

Hear the wound? Do you hear the stories under the wound? You can hear the ownership of responsibility, but mostly you hear the pain. We’ll reframe this in just a minute. Back to the scene.

The man in front of me was not happy. In what seemed only a second he walked back to my car and stood beside me. Oh, he was angry! And I even knew him—and his wife, who was with him. But he didn’t let that stand in the way! He quickly called the police, which, of course, you are supposed to do. Within five agonizing minutes we were summoned to drive a short distance to a service station on a corner where twice as many people could see us. There wasn’t just one police car—there were two. I was overwhelmed with an all-too-familiar sense of inadequacy and failure, by the feeling of being a bad grandmother. How scary to realize that my granddaughter was in the car only moments before! I’m too bad a driver to be trusted to drive my grandchildren ever again. These messages then multiplied and began to connect with my mother’s damaging accusations from decades before—her avalanche of accusations over the smallest of infractions. That tender place in my heart was hurting so badly.

Picture me: I stood with the police in the cold, wet rain. It was freezing outside, and I had on several jackets; but because I was fresh from a pedicure, I was wearing high-heeled jeweled sandals—and holding my teacup poodle. How silly I must have looked!

For hours and hours Satan whispered additional messages to the ones I was already having, such as “How can you possibly teach the women this weekend?” My agony was profound. It was time to reframe.

Reframing

I went to God and first said, Lord, I hurt so badly. I feel like such a failure. I feel like such a zero, so “legally blonde.” I’m very okay with the traffic ticket and the fine, and I’m fine with replacing the man’s bumper. Those things aren’t what bother me. I just hate feeling so inadequate.

Then I started looking at that accident through God’s perspective—period. I began to say to Him, The truth is—it was serious, but everyone is okay. I was careless, but I am not a failure as a person. God, I am so sorry. I hate what it feels like to be distracted. Lord, could you give me grace to bear this hurt—the grace that I enjoy giving to others but have trouble receiving myself? You are enough for this ouch. Thank you that I am adequate in you; thank you that I don’t have to be adequate in my own strength anyway. I would love to learn from this, Lord. I ask you to help me be a better driver. When I think of this accident, I choose to think of the ways I have already grown and choose now not to assume false shame. Thank you, Lord. You are enough.

This book is about the process of reframing thinking, feelings, and past or present wounds, and it’s based primarily on the following two Scripture passages. It’s also about restoring relationships—through both your self-talk and your other-talk.

Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).

A stronghold is like a worn path—but a path that is created by the enemy of our lives. Have you ever taken a shortcut across the lawn again and again? Pretty soon you have created a marked path. When you know you should go a different way but you keep returning to that same path, that is a stronghold. When someone has a difficult conversation with you, and the damage of the conversation is not repaired, you will continue to feel that hurt, that wound, for a long time. Then you develop sensitivity to similar wounds by others, and that, too, is a stronghold.

Maybe you tend to often take on false guilt or false responsibility from someone else’s words or actions. False guilt and false responsibility are strongholds. If you have a sad thought, then another and another—and they don’t receive attention—it becomes a stronghold. Maybe you’re plagued by recurring anxious or fearful thoughts that don’t get resolved as the wounds deepen. Those, too, become strongholds. You get the idea of how this pattern can deepen and spread to more than just one area of your life. You have not only developed a stronghold but have also established an agreement with your enemy.

It is the truth—biblical truth—that does set one free from these strongholds or bondages. Truth is the only thing that can provide freedom from these “strongholds,” “arguments,” and “every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.”

Before we explore this, let me clarify that I’m not speaking of truth that some might interpret as positive messages that sound good and cheerful for the moment. Examples of these well-meaning but often damaging messages include “Oh, you can do it!” “You can always get another dog,” “Time will take care of that,” or “Be happy—you have so much.” The reality is that when someone is mad, sad, anxious, or fearful, there’s more important information to be gained from the expressions of emotions.

We need to look long and hard at what our thoughts and feelings are telling us about our heart. Just being positive and cheerful could serve only to minimize pain, implying that there is a fast “cure” that is not realistic. Positive messages we give ourselves or receive from others will not have a lasting effect. Only Christ can permanently relieve the hurt of deep emotional pain. Though you can be available for friends and loved ones, and others can be available for you, cheerful counsel and unsolicited advice are not the answer. The mind of Christ is required.

Careful study of the Scriptures, learning scriptural principles, and looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance give us the wisdom to see truth from His perspective.

Truth: Where Does It Come From?

I believe that God is the author of truth, wherever it is found. As a counselor in the public school system for 12 years, I could not initiate conversations about God or use biblical scriptures, but I could talk with students about more general principles of “truth.”

It’s fascinating to see how truth and reasoning are handled by the secular professionals in our society. In the field of psychology, there is renowned research to show the truth and profound importance of disputing irrational thinking as the main antidote to depression and anxiety. I had been reframing my thoughts and feelings for decades before I found this research, but it confirmed the importance of what I had been practicing to deal with my thoughts. The research states that “cognitive behavioral therapy,” or the “disputing of irrational beliefs,” is superior to pharmacology, which is using medication to aide in someone’s pain management, or even a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacology. God’s perspective is the ultimate reframing, and it stretches beyond just knowing that irrational thinking should be disputed. The study of secular research and how it underscores the truth of what I’m sharing with you is discussed in more depth in a future chapter.

For now, let’s explore more fully what reframing of self-talk is and how to develop a mental outline to help when you are continuing the well-worn path of anger, depression, fear, or anxiety. Conquering these results of self-lies is possible.

Making It Personal

1. A suggested prayer: Lord, would you open wide my understanding of the issues of my own heart? Would you help me put a name on my hurts? Would you help me to see the damage? Would you give me the grace to cover this tender time of reflection and exploration of my thoughts and feelings? In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

2. Don’t rush this next step. Take your time. Think about what might be past and present wounds. You can list people, events, circumstances, conversations, anything in your life that has brought hurt.

Past wounds

Present wounds

3. Are there some common themes? What might they be called? Some examples: abandonment, rejection, feelings of inadequacy. These are possible strongholds.

My Opinion:

I can see where this book has it’s particular niche in the self help books but I couldn’t glean much from it and in fact I was even confused by it. Dr. Helen McIntosh definitely knows what she is talking about and is knowledgable in what she is writing about but this book is not for everyone. She agrees that those in the Christian pyschology field need to use the information and sources from secular pyschologists so that the Christians are seen as legitimate.

This book was also written in a way that parents could use it with their children but I had to find myself disagreeing with how she wanted parents to interact with their children. Some of the information was excellent while others seemed to give children to much freedom and no forms of chastisement was given instead discussion was given as way to make the child see the errors of their ways so as not to hurt their self image.

If you are someone who is looking for an alternative way of overcoming the past with a bit of Scripture thrown in then this book is for you. If you are a parent who wants a more relaxed approach in raising your children then this book will work for you. Overall, I do think this book has it’s place and can serve a good but as a slightly more conservative Christian I just couldn’t find myself devouring it.

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Let’s Walk the Talk by Danae Dobson


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

Danae Dobson

and the book:

Let’s Walk the Talk!

Tyndale House Publishers (September 3, 2009)

***Special thanks to Katie Anderson of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Danae Dobson is the author of Let’s Talk!, a popular inspirational book for teen girls. She has an active speaking ministry addressing women at church-related events such as banquets, teas, and conferences. She is also involved in seminars for teens as well as speaking to children at Christian schools. Danae was born in Southern California and published her first children’s manuscript at the age of twelve. The book was entitled, Woof! A Bedtime Story About a Dog. She received her BA in communications from Azusa Pacific University. She has authored 22 books to date, which have sold a combined total of over 400,000 copies. Danae resides in Southern California. She is the daughter of Dr. James and Shirley Dobson.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (September 3, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1414308108

ISBN-13: 978-1414308104

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

How to Be a Winner

Check it out: Proverbs 3:5-6

Would you like to know the secret of success? I’m not talking about how to acquire cash, cool cars, and designer clothes. If success were defined by the things we own, then Paris, Nicole, Lindsay, and Britney would all be respectable role models. No. When I mention success, I’m referring to a genuine sense of fulfillment that comes not from the outside but from the depths of the soul.

Every girl desires to feel good about herself, but what happens when she bases her contentment on something temporary like physical attractiveness, popularity, money, or fame? Well, it’s no secret that money can’t buy happiness, and as far as good looks are concerned, the Bible teaches that “beauty is fleeting” (Proverbs 31:30). Fame and social status are shaky too. I could give you a list of celebs, beginning with Marilyn Monroe right up to Anna Nicole Smith, who discovered that fame didn’t bring the satisfaction they craved. In fact, the success of those two beautiful women was short-lived, ending in tragic drug overdoses.

A friend and I were shopping in a clothing store recently and couldn’t help but feel disturbed about some of the products that were on display. The store featured drinking games, sexually inspired books, and T-shirts with disturbing messages on the front. One read “I Live for Kicks” and another, “Pleasure Victim.” Think about it. Those messages encourage you to believe that life is all about getting satisfaction from the world through fun and pleasure, but that’s a straight-up lie! Living for “kicks” won’t amount to anything substantial. It’s just short-term gratification—a way to feel good for a little while.

The world will tell you to rush after your passion to find happiness, but after you’ve obtained it and the fairy dust settles, you will still have emptiness of soul and spirit. Having money in the bank, credit cards, and a hot body won’t give you a real sense of purpose. The only way you can obtain lasting fulfillment is through someone who is not of this world—the Lord Jesus Christ! Only He can help you achieve the kind of success that endures.

You may have heard of the ’90s rock group Nirvana. The lead singer was Kurt Cobain, and if anyone appeared to have it all, it was this former teen idol. Cobain had screaming fans around the globe, and his albums sold millions. He’d won awards and Grammys, and had earned more money than he could spend. In addition to all this fame, he had an adorable baby daughter. There wasn’t one thing the world had to offer that Kurt Cobain hadn’t obtained. Yet in 1994, he ended his life with a gunshot. Why? From a worldly perspective it didn’t make sense, but from a spiritual viewpoint, it came into sharp focus. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, Kurt Cobain didn’t have peace and contentment. He might have felt the temporary rush of newfound success, but once the excitement wore off, he was still surrounded by everything he despised, including himself. He was so discontented, in fact, that he chose to abandon it all and take his own life.

Obviously, not every person who’s not a follower of Christ will become suicidal, but there’s something to be learned from Kurt Cobain’s horrific death: a person can have everything and nothing at the same time.

Jesus said in John 10:10 (NKJV) that He came so you could have life and have it abundantly. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to suffer trials and times of sorrow. You may have already been there—I know I have had my share of tough times. But what sets you apart from people like Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, and Kurt Cobain is that even in the midst of heartache, you can experience the peace that passes all understanding (see Philippians 4:7, RSV). Your life can have meaning and purpose, regardless of whether or not you have everything you desire. That’s the promise Jesus has given you!

In my own life, things haven’t always turned out the way I planned or hoped. I know what it’s like to suffer anguish and broken dreams, as I’ll describe in a later chapter. But through my tears, I’ve clung to the knowledge that my sense of value isn’t dependent on people or circumstances. During those difficult moments, I remembered that I belong to the Lord and my identity is rooted in Him. That assurance gave me strength to move forward and trust God’s plan for my future, even when things weren’t going my way.

Let’s return to the question I asked at the beginning of this chapter: “Would you like to know the secret of success?” The answer is revealed in one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” If you’re completely surrendered to God and if you follow His will, as revealed in the Bible, you cannot fail because He has already established the master plan for your life. Your obligation is to live it out. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

To adhere to God’s calling is to discover His purpose for your life. I can’t suggest what His plans might be, but I can promise you they’re more significant than anything you could envision on your own. And the best part is that whatever accomplishments you enjoy in life will bring glory and honor to Him.

Do you want to be a winner? Then “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). That’s your formula for success!

LET’S TALK ABOUT SUCCESS

DUSTY SANDERSON (student, age 17): I think success is living your life according to God’s plan and feeling like you’ve given all you can to Him. If you make God happy and please Him, then you please yourself. As far as my future is concerned, I’m considering becoming a pastor. I enjoy sharing the love of God with people who are lost—telling them what He’s done for me and how He’s changed my life.

MATT GODSHALL (student, age 14): I heard a pastor say that we sometimes think of our lives as our own story, with God just kind of thrown in. In reality, we are part of God’s story.

ERIN DIEFENBACH (student, age 17): I’m trying to focus on what God wants me to do rather than on what I think I’m good at. If I parallel my life with His purposes, I believe I’ll be successful. Right now I think God’s will for my future might be to become a marriage counselor because I enjoy encouraging my friends who come to me for advice. But I’m trying to stay open in case He has other plans. I think the best way to discover God’s will is to talk to Him about everything and to read the Bible to find answers. God wants to be incorporated into our daily lives, so if we’re paying attention to our circumstances and really trying to listen to Him, we’ll eventually get a sense of direction.

CHRISTIAN TURNER (student, age 16): I want to be part of something bigger than myself, so I’m excited to discover the plans God has for me. One of these days I’m going to be standing in eternity, and I’m going to have to answer for what I did with my life. I want to hear God tell me that I was a faithful servant. I wouldn’t want Him to reveal the wonderful things I missed because I was too busy following my own ambitions. I want to have peace in knowing that I was faithful to my calling.

PAUL HONTZ (student, age 19): Success is the direct result of our obedience to God. Through Him we are made complete.

ALYSON THOMAS (student, age 16): As far as my future is concerned, I’m still in confusion mode. Right now I’m devoting a lot of prayer to this issue. I wish God would send me an e-mail with the words, “Thou shalt do this for thy future,” but it’s not that easy. I’m trusting that He will reveal His plan for my life at the right time.

MARY SPAGNOLA (student, age 16): So far, a lot of things I’ve wanted haven’t turned out the way I’d hoped, but in hindsight they turned out better than I could have planned. I have faith that God knows what He’s doing and that His ways are so much better than my own.

SARAH UTTERBACK (student, age 16): I really want to become a chef. I’d like to go to a four-year college for hotel and restaurant management and then to culinary school. Eventually I’d like to open my own restaurant and catering service. As much as I want this dream for my life, I’m willing to submit to God’s plan if it’s different from my own. I’m trying to keep my heart and mind open to His will.

MR. AUSTIN SEFTON (youth leader): As far as my career is concerned, I don’t know where God is going to use me. Right now I’m attending a community college, but I’m not sure what I’ll major in. I’m spending a lot of time reading my Bible, praying, and asking God to reveal His plan for my life. Every Christian has a specific calling, and it’s different for everybody. Once we discover where God wants to place us, then it’s up to us to live it out in total surrender. The definition of success is to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Success is striving after His will and discovering our place in His Kingdom.

PASTOR AUSTIN DUNCAN (youth minister): Life may seem out of control for you at this stage of your life—your hormones are raging, you’re making friends, you’re losing friends, you’re having issues with guys. But God is on His throne [Psalm 115:3], and if you love Him, then He is using every single circumstance—both good and bad—for your good and for His glory. Every one of us has issues with discontentment, but discontentment is really the temptation to complain against the sovereignty of God. He is in control of the universe and of your life, so you can draw comfort from the fact that where He has you today is exactly where you’re supposed to be.

MR. MATT NORTHRUP (high school dean): I think the definition of success is to look more like Christ today than you did yesterday. It’s learning to sacrifice as Christ sacrificed, to serve as He served, and to love as He loved. *

What Say You?

1) What is your definition of success?

2) How do you think God defines success for your life?

3) What is the promise that Jesus has given you in John 10:10?

4) How can you discover God’s plan and purpose for your life?

My opinion:

I really enjoyed Danae’s book – it was a fast read but it was also very Biblical and it was geared to teens who are trying their best to be godly in an ungodly world. I liked the fact that she talked to the reader and not at or below, it made me feel as if I was having an actual conversation with Danae instead of reading her book. Her writing is very down to earth and I enjoyed that.

The two things I disagreed with was the dating section – I believe in courtship and about how to dress. It’s a conviction belief though and does not have a basis on Salvation. It seems that many today view women who dress in long dresses or skirts are frumpy – and that is far from the case. So I did disagree in earnest with that idea that those of us who believe in dresses only would be lumped together as frumpy. Make up is also addressed in the book – so that is just a little heads up for those families who don’t use make-up in order to make their features up to worldly values. As I said though this is a conviction belief and not everyone is convicted on courtship or dresses only as a form of modesty and femininity.

I would recommend this book for a teen girl who has already discussed certain relationship aspects with her mom – or even reading it together so that discusion can occur. I would not let my daughter read this until she was 14 or older because some content is for the older teen – like kissing, sex, and that nature of subject matter. At the end of each chapter questions are given that give deeper meaning to what has been read, Scripture is given at the begining so that the Bible is delved into at the onset of reading this book – as always weigh what you read against Scripture and pray for God’s wisdom. Overall though, this is a wonderful resource that a family can use to gently open up discussion in their daughter’s life so that all lines of communication can stay open in this turbulent time in a child’s life.

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Cooper Bookmarks from Five Star Publications


I’m a sucker for anything book related and my oldest daughter is becoming the same way, much to my happiness.  When I had the chance to review Five Star Publications‘ cooper bookmarks, I had to jump at it.  There are three different designs to choose from, paw print, angel and star – my daughter choose the paw print style.  I was very impressed with the desgin of these bookmarks – usually I can’t stand to use these kind and prefer sticky notes or the flat, paper kind of bookmarks but these were wonderfully useful.

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Usually with these types of bookmarks I find that the book’s binding becomes warped with the usage but with these bookmarks I found that the spine of my and my daughter’s books did not become broken or any in way warped.  This is a definite plus for any book worm who enjoys keeping their books binding intact for future reading.    Five Star Publications’ bookmarks are made with high quality cooper and Swarovski crystals and pearls to finish off the beautiful, elegant look that will please any book worm! 

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These bookmarks are wonderful and perfect for gift giving and with Christmas and Hanukkah right around the corner these are priced just right for a loved one or friend without breaking the bank.  Even if you don’t know of anyone who enjoys reading these would also make a ideal way to add a special touch to a Christmas tree or decorate anything that the bookmarks could hang from.  So I do recommend these bookmarks for anyone who is wanting an economical way (i.e. these wouldn’t have to be thrown away since they got torn) to do gift giving this year or at any time, birthdays, baptisms and more.  At $11.95 it’s a great way to give someone (or yourself) a high quality, beautiful gift.

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This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by: Five Star Publications for this review.

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Download N Go Autumn Treasures (FREE for now)


E-Book: Download N Go™—Autumn Treasures

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Are you looking for a simple way to do a unit study and lapbook together?  Do you have children close in age but working on different grade levels?  Would you like to streamline your school day and bring all the children together and do the same thing?  Not sure how to start a lapbook to go with a unit?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then The Old Schoolhouse’s new series is what you need.  The series is called Download and Go and this one in particular is the Autumn Teasures title.

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Amanda Bennett is well known for her excellent unit studies and teaming up with The Old Schoolhouse makes it a all time excellent resource.  Autumn Treasures is a one week, as will all Download N Go studies, unit study with accompanying lapbook.  Everything you need is included except for a few library books, the titles are given in the study and you don’t have to use all of them – pick and choose whatever catches your scholar’s interest!  You’ll have to provide the paper, file folder, glue, scissors, brads, markers or crayons and a pencil – these are minimal and most of us have these things laying around or they can be bought fairly inexpensively.  There is no reasearch that the parent needs to do, none, it’s all been done for you including links to watch each day on that particular part of the study.  With clickable links in the ebook it means no typing in the web address making it simple enough that it’s not something else that needs to be bookmarked ahead of time.

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The study is a way to open dialogue between parent and student while at the same time providing an excellent way to make school fun.  With the included lapbook, the ideas learned in the study are reinforced and provides a tangible way for the child to review what they learned as well as a school keepsake.  There are vocabulary words for each day that relate back to the topic, Autumn, this is nice so that the child can see how such educational topics are inter-related.  Also included are other activities that can be completed as the parent deems necessary to reiterate what they’ve learned over the week.  Also included are Bible verses that can be used for memorization and/or copywork that talk about seasons, autumn and treasures.  There are poems, again these can be used as a memorization assignment or for copywork.

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The lapbook is designed as such that a beginner lapbooker could easily complete but the seasoned lapbooker will enjoy this too.  There are several activities each day to complete that ties into what was learned during the lesson.  With 25 pages this is a good sized lapbook that a child will enjoy putting together especially if they can cut and paste everything – or color.  This is made so that the child can feel involved in the process of lapbooking.  Complete directions are given and any needed items are listed so that the parent can be prepared ahead of time.

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Overall, this unit study provides everything a parent needs to have an exciting week of learning for their school.  Without having to worry about researching and lesson plans it can allow a parent to have a relaxed week wether a break is needed due to illness, want a way to bring all the children into a study, or just need a slow week without taking actual time off – this study will allow it.  The mininal prepartion really is excellent for families with several children – I say minimal because you do need to pick up the library books and make sure you have items on hand for the lapbook – but that is nothing compared to what some preparations are needed each week for other curriculums.

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If you’d like to download your copy of Autumn Treaures visit TOS Schoolhouse Store. 

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I’ve recieved this ebook to review through The Old Schoolhouse. 

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Kiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson blog tour **not for young, unmarried women**


Summary:

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Many married women genuinely want to feel more desire toward their husbands.  But while sex before marriage was hard to resist, now resisting seems like all they do. In her new book, Barbara Wilson shows how couples can suffer for years from the “invisible bonds” of previous relationships without even knowing it. Hidden emotions of distrust, shame, and resentment can sabotage even the most loving marriage.
 
In Kiss Me Again, Wilson:
 
·        Shares her own story of healing and renewed desire
·        Helps women forgive themselves and their husbands for past choices 
·        Shows readers how to break free from “invisible bonds”
·        Explains God’s plan for helping a husband and wife to re-bond
·        Includes conversation helps for both wives and their husbands
·        Helps couples reignite the passion that they thought was lost
 
With assessment tools, write-in exercises, and gentle guidance, Kiss Me Again offers a biblical plan for rekindling the closeness and passion women long for in marriage. Because no past is beyond the reach of God’s healing touch. 

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Author Bio:

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Barbara Wilson is the author of The Invisible Bond and former director of sexual health education for the Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center in Sacramento. She speaks nationwide to youth and adults with her message of sexual healing, and she teaches frequently in the women’s ministry at the multi-campus Bayside Church in Northern California. Barbara and her husband, Eric, have been married for twenty-eight years.
 

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If you are interested in purchasing this book please visit Random House’s website.

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My opinion:

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Kiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson is an excellent resource for married women or those about to become married who want God to heal from their sexual past.  Wether it was abuse, rape or consensual Barbara takes women through steps to healing their relationships with their husbands to make their relationship more enjoyable and pleasing to God. 

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Using Biblical applications and Scripture references she offers a no holds bar approach in her writing about past relationships.  Sex before marriage goes against God and His establishment of what marriage is for – and bonding happens with each encounter that occurs before marriage – bonds that need broken so that a wife can fully enter into a physical relationship with her husband.  Wether you’re a newlywed, a couple who has been married for 10 years or 50 if you want to fully bond with your husband and be released from Satan’s guilt of your past then Barbara Wilson’s book is for you.

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I loved the fact that she gives many Scriptures for backing up her healing points, which only adds to the comfort feeling of God’s love despite the sin.  She also uses quotes from other authors who are known in the marriage field – which helped to reiterate her points.  I could have done without quotes from one particular author but the quotes she used flowed with her writing even though i don’t agree with him or his teachings.  overall this book is a wonderful read and one that can bring healing to the wife and even be used by the husband for combined healing.

 

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