Reading About Women: Fictional Characters and Real Women

The local library is a great institution. When I was a child my parents brought us to the public library regularly. I have always enjoyed reading stories.

Now I read widely to be informed, to learn and for enjoyment. I read to become a better writer. Today I picked up a book on canning and preserving in small quantities. I enjoy making jams and jellies from the berries in my yard.

I also picked up the latest book in Laurie King’s series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. The title is Island of the Mad. I have read all the previous books in the series and appreciate Mary’s influence on the character, Sherlock Holmes.

Another series of books that I have thoroughly enjoyed follows the life of a character, Maisie Dobbs, from WWI through WWII. Maisie participates in WWI as a nurse.   Following the war she becomes a  private  investigator. The development of her character kept me reading.   Jacqueline  Winspear is the author of this series.

Recently I finished reading a fascinating story of a young woman fleeing from grief and loss in the aftermath of WWI. Emeline leaves northern France and finds a small town on the Mediterranean, a town on the border between Spain and France. The rich description of place and culture kept me interested. Laura Madeleine wrote Where the Wild Cherries Grow.

The Wonder Years, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields, is a collection of essays written by 40 women over 40. (This is a book that I picked up at a literary conference.) I recognized the names of some of the 40 women: Luci Shaw,  Lauren Winner,  Joni Eareckson Tada,  Madeleine L’Engle.   Other names are new to me. The writing is excellent.

Do you visit your public library? It has much to offer!

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Memories of Another Festival and A Book About Sex

My sister-in-law invited me to the Festival of Faith and Writing many years ago, and it has become a regular event where we meet for a few days. I have kept the programs from every Festival that I attended. In 2004 Lauren Winner was a presenter—just 26 years old by my calculation. A couple years older than my daughter. She had written Girl Meets God and was speaking about memoir.

This year I saw her book, real SEX: the naked truth of chastity with books offered for sale. My thoughts turned back to the memory of the bright, sophisticated young women I had heard speak many years ago. This book was published in 2005, but the title is relevant today. I bought a copy.

Lauren became a Christian as a young adult. In this book she reveals her promiscuity and premarital sex. As a new Christian she began to study scripture and realized that it was sin.

She laments that the Church has not had a strong voice in the culture.

Turn back time to the sexual revolution; some key events took place.//

The birth control pill became available in the 1960s.

In 1972 The Joy of Sex was published.    It was a popular book  and  my husband I both read it.

In 1973 abortion was legalized.

The pleasure of sex was increasingly being extolled, separated from procreation. Sex is pleasurable but it has a deeper meaning. It is a sacred bond between a couple. It unites them and provides  the  potential  for  establishing a family.

Married couples in our generation were encouraged to limit family size to avoid over population in the world. My husband thought we should have just two children. God had other ideas when my second pregnancy was twins . . . lol.

Even though we had both grown up in Christian homes we were influenced by messages in the culture.    And the messages  have  become  louder and more confusing since the 1970s.

It is so important to study God’s word and understand the full text, New Testament illuminated by the Old Testament.

The Bible does not contradict itself.

Lauren Winner writes that it is important to start with Genesis. God made us with bodies; that is how we begin to know that He cares how we order our sexual lives.   There is—and  we  will  walk  through it here—evidence aplenty from both scripture and tradition about how God intends sex, about where sex belongs and where it is disordered, about when sex is righteous and when it is sinful.*

The pain and confusion about sexuality nibbled at the edges of the Festival. Jen Hatmaker was interviewed about  the  stand  she  has taken on homosexuality and the criticism she has received.

In a discussion group, a woman pastor talked about the distress and anger she experienced when her church did not support her lesbian daughter.

The Church is divided and struggling with the confusion in our culture over sexuality. How do we show compassion and yet uphold the truth of scripture? I think about Jesus. He received the sinner but also said, “Go and sin no more.”

As believers we all need to do some soul searching. We need time in the Bible. We need to pray and look for guidance from the Holy Spirit. May our words be gentle but true.

This post is shared with Five Minute Friday. Our prompt is: TURN

Also linked with Faith on Fire.

*Lauren Winner, real SEX: the naked truth about chastity, Brazos press; Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005, p. 32-33

Books at the Festival of Faith and Writing

In the year 2000 I began attending the Festival of Faith and Writing, a biannual event at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Over the years I have met authors and been introduced to many good books.

Lauren Winner was a speaker one year, telling about her path to faith. I have read Mudhouse Sabbath and Girl Meets God. This year I picked up her book, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity.

Marilyn McEntyre, a former professor of English at Westmont College, presented another year. I was intrigued by her focus on language and read her book, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies. This year I picked up her book Word by Word: a daily spiritual practice.

This year, in addition to the keynote speakers, the Festival had a number of panel discussions and workshops for writers. It was a wonderful experience to spend a weekend with people that share a love of reading and writing.

A few years ago I became acquainted with Deidra Riggs through her blog. This year I attended a panel discussion that she participated in titled Platforms and Privilege. The presentation was thought provoking and explored white privilege in the publishing industry. I picked up Deidra’s book, Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are.

Kate Motaung had a reception for the launch of her book, A Place to Land. You can read my review of her book here.

An anthology, The Wonder Years: 40 Women Over Forty, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields, made its debut at the conference. I went to a reception and heard some of the women read the essay they had contributed. Women over forty have much experience and wisdom to share! I purchased book and look forward to reading it.

Stay tuned for my review of these books. I hope you will follow my facebook page—click here to check it out.

Book Review: A Place to Land

Kate Motaung’s memoir is a story of God’s grace throughout the events of her life.

A Place to Land

She has a relationship with God that grows through her college years and motivates her to pursue missions. But she couldn’t know the great challenges she would face in the ensuing years. As she tells her story she takes the reader along with her from Michigan to South Africa.

This author shares her moments of struggle and doubt.     A thread of brokenness runs through the book—we live in a broken world. We all experience some brokenness in our families. But there is hope.

Throughout the book Kate writes about painful life experiences but notes the provisions of  God’s  grace. God provided for her during the difficult months of her mother’s battle with cancer. God provided for her mother’s needs. The book has a wonderful tone of Christian community—people helping and  supporting  each other.

I enjoyed reading about South Africa and the friendships that developed. Kate shares vignettes from her marriage, childbirth, beginning motherhood and adoption.

Within the memoir I was impacted by the legacy of faith that Kate’s mother gave to her daughters. A beautiful portrait of a mother’s love.

The major themes of this memoir are faith, community and hope. It is a testimony of God’s faithfulness and points to the future Jesus promised. This memoir is a good read–it will  broaden  your  perspectives.

In an interview Kate gives insight into her purpose in writing.

Q: What do you hope readers gain from reading A Place to Land?

My hope and prayer for my readers is threefold:

1) I pray that A Place to Land would increase their longing to spend eternity with God.

I don’t presume to have any idea as to what heaven will be like, except for what Scripture has revealed to us. But I do think that the vast majority of us have a diluted, lukewarm view of eternity. We lack a depth of eager anticipation, and I believe that negatively affects our choices and attitudes in this life.

A Heavenly Home

I’ve learned through writing this book that     intentionally keeping an eternal perspective at the forefront of my mind does wonders for my countenance, attitude, and actions. It has changed me in ways I never expected.

2) I pray that they would find hope in Christ in the midst of their suffering and grief.

He is the only one who can relieve our pain. I pray that the readers of this book will find their anchor in Him amidst the turbulent trials of this life, holding fast to the truth that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

3) I pray that they would be reminded that this world is not our home.

For some, that is a comfort, knowing that one day those who trust in Christ will lay asideall their pain and suffering in exchange for a sin free existence forever in the presence of their Redeemer. For others, this realization could be a bit disconcerting. Many of us make a great effort to find comfort, fulfillment, and satisfaction here in this life, and we don’t like the idea of giving it up.

Before writing this book, I struggled with that a lot. I would get incredibly sentimental over certain material things. Now, the Lord is teaching me that those are all part of what Jesus calls “treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves breakin and steal” (Matthew 6:19).

Instead, He calls us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). Writing A Place to Land challenged me to consider where I’m storing my treasure.

Kate Motaung

Book Review: Updated and Expanded LIES WOMEN BELIEVE

Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free stimulated discussion among Christian women when it came out in 2001. I read the first edition many years ago. I looked through it again as I read the new and revised edition.

Lies Women Believe

I am so pleased with the new and revised edition. It has been updated and expanded. Running through both editions is this theme: When we believe lies about God, ourselves, sex, marriage, etc., we are in bondage. The truth of God’s word has the power to set us free.

The recently released edition displays a deep understanding of the complex issues that women face in the current culture. I have truly enjoyed reading it. I know I will go back to review the truths that are confirmed by Bible verses, listed at the end of each chapter.

A chapter on sexuality has been added to this new edition. Dannah Gresh participated in writing the chapter. She shares her personal story and perspective. Dannah provides examples of the way that women are wounded in sexual relationships, along with the forgiveness and healing that is offered through Jesus

In the chapter about marriage, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth discusses the difficult and often misunderstood concept of submission. What does it look like in a marriage?  God created Eve to be a helper suited to Adam. The Hebrew phase [ezer]  means  “a helper matching him”  or a  “helper  corresponding to him.” p. 169

Nancy gives examples from the lives of a variety of women, including her mother. She shares insights that she has garnered in her three years of marriage. She also addresses domestic abuse.

The chapter about children has been revised. Mary Kassian participated in the rewriting.   I am  glad  that a brief history  of  contraception is included. The birth control pill became popular in the  1960s  and  led to the  sexual revolution.

It would be hard to overstate the far-reaching, lasting effects of Margaret Sanger’s life and influence. Our culture has embraced wholesale the idea promoted  by  Sanger  and  Planned  Parenthood—that  controlling  our  fertility is a basic human right. p. 198

The reader is encouraged to know the way contraceptive methods work and to seek wisdom about marriage and family from the Bible. Couples should prayerfully seek God’s guidance when making decisions. I appreciated the inclusion of Holly Elliff’s experience as a mother.

Many aspects of motherhood are opportunities to grow in relationship with the Lord. Financial worries, parenting challenges and the mommy wars are addressed.

In the chapter about circumstances, Nancy explained that a friend had sent her a framed calligraphy with these words:

Coram Deo
Living all of life
In the presence of God
Under the authority of God
And to the glory of God. p. 270

In a world that is broken and full of deception we need to be pointed to the truth of God’s word. This book does that. It is useful for personal or group study.

Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free

In full disclosure,  I received a copy of this book from  the  publisher  in  return for an honest review.

For more information click here.

Sharing this post with Grace & Truth,  Booknificent Thursday,  Literary Musing Monday

A New and Revised Edition

It is Five Minute Friday—the day that we take five minutes to write on the prompt that Kate Motaung gives us. If you would like to join this group of writers click here for Kate’s information.  Today’s prompt is: WHY

When the first edition of Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free was published in 2001, I read it. Some of the women in my church also read it, and the book opened discussion on sensitive topics.

A new and revised edition will be available on February 19th. I have been privileged to receive an advance copy as a member of the launch team.

Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free

Why is there a new edition? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth explains in the preface:

Our world has been shaken by seismic cultural shifts since Lies was first released in 2001. For example, social media as we know it today did not exist back then. And certain sexual issues and themes that were peripheral twenty years ago now touch most of our lives in personal ways. I’ve added an entire chapter on lies about sexuality and made some other needed updates.

She mentions the letters, e-mails and conversations that she received in response to the first book. She has listened and clarified her message.

Seventeen years have gone by and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has  been  married for three years now. She writes: At selected points in this book, I’ve added thoughts or illustrations from my older/married vantage point.

Next week I will post a review of the book. Hope you will come back!

UPDATE: The book is available now. For more information visit LiesWomenBelieve.com

Sharing this post with Faith on Fire link-up

Book Review: Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia

The progressive loss of brain  function  in  Alzhiemer’s  disease  and     dementia is difficult to observe in a loved one.    My  mother’s  loss  of memory and physical skills has been gradually progressing. It would be wonderful to have a knowledgeable and experienced Christian doctor give guidance for both victim and the family.

Dr. John Dunlop does that in his book,  Finding Grace in the  Face  of  Dementia. He explains the disease in terms that non-medical people can understand.

As I read the book, pausing to take in the information in each chapter, I developed a better understanding of what is happening to my mother. (I wish that this book had been available four years ago; it is so helpful.)

Dr. Dunlop explains the progression of the disease along with suggestions for relating with the person with dementia. When the disease is well progressed an individual may not remember the past and have little interest in the future. But they can still enjoy moments in the present. He writes:

Dementia does not alter a person’s ability to experience pleasure. Victims of dementia may enjoy pleasing aromas and be put off by offensive ones. They may like good music and admire pretty scenes or pictures . . . They will often enjoy human touch. They may want their loved ones to hold their hands or put an arm around them . . .

He encourages both the victim and family members to turn to their faith in God. Prayer, Bible verses and hymns can all bring comfort. Being involved in the care of someone experiencing dementia can deepen our understanding of self-sacrificing love. Dr. Dunlop gives reference to Bible verses throughout the book.

In the last chapter of the book Dr. Dunlop discusses end of life issues. I greatly appreciate the explanation of decisions that may need to be made. He offers wise counsel and demonstrates his faith in God’s eternal plan.

I enjoy sharing books that have been a blessing to me. If you found this post helpful you might enjoy  my Facebook page  where I post articles  related to family and health.

Sharing this post with Faith on Fire,  Booknificent Thursday and Literacy Musing Monday

A Song of Home: Book Review

This past October I met Susie Finkbeiner at the Breathe Conference for writers. I went to her session on dialogue and picked up helpful tips for my writing. I learned that Susie writes historical fiction. When given the opportunity to be on her launch team for A Song of Home, I signed up. It is the third book in the Pearl Spence series. Having finished this book, I will go back and read the first two.

A Song of Home

The book is set in 1935. Pearl’s family has moved from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to Michigan. Pearl is a thoughtful girl, eleven years old. Through her eyes we see the complex troubles in her home and town. Her relationship with her mother has painful wounds.

Will Bliss, Michigan ever feel like home? She attends school and church, but has deep distress over her mother’s choices. She is a reader and finds comfort in the local library. Stories linger in her mind; her musings about life are touching.

Opal Moon brings some order to the Spence household. She offers friendship to Pearl and gives her an outlet for her energy. With music streaming from the radio, Opal teaches Pearl the new dance steps. (I learned about the Swing Era.)

Other women provide guidance for Pearl.   Aunt  Carrie  is  a  rock  of  stability. Mrs. Trask, the librarian, has a gentle kindness. Meemaw isn’t physically present, but her words of wisdom come back to Pearl. Pearl makes a connection between lessons from the Bible and events taking place in her life.

A Song of Home is a well-crafted story of love, forgiveness and hope.

Sharing this post at Booknificent Thursday 

Meeting Life’s Challenges

In the past few weeks I have read a couple of books about women overcoming difficulties in life. Sue Detweiler’s book is about the value of prayer. My review of Women Who Move Mountains is here.

Mountain View

Kristina Cowan wrote about birth trauma and post partum depression. She has included research as well as her experience as a woman of faith walking through this most difficult time. The number of women experiencing birth trauma seems to be rising. My review of When Post Partum Packs a Punch is here.

When Postpartum Packs a Punch

Currently I am reading Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood. Our culture has so many mixed and confusing messages about sexuality. The author takes us through her own misconceptions and what she has learned. How do we recognize error? How do we guide the young women in our area of influence?

Julie Roys’ book is thought provoking and worthy of discussion. When I have finished the book I will write a review.

Every season of life has challenges. We can be victorious through prayer, study of God’s word and thoughtful discussion in the community of believers.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is OVERCOME.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Linking with Booknificent Thursday

When Postpartum Packs a Punch: Book Review

As a former labor/delivery nurse and Lamaze instructor, I am an advocate for prepared childbirth. Women need information and guidance as they make choices about childbirth care. They need to know what to expect.

But in the preparation for childbirth, the postpartum time period may be given brief attention. Women benefit from knowing what to expect in the weeks following childbirth. According to research cited in the book, When Postpartum Packs a Punch, the range of women experiencing post partum depression is 12% to 25%.

When Postpartum Packs a Punch

 

As I read through the book I found the author’s observations consistent with my own as a nurse. Ms. Cowan tells her experience of postpartum depression, along with the stories of women that she has interviewed. She provides a discussion of treatment options. She explains the way her faith in God guided her.

Like the author I have experienced help and healing by trusting God when experiencing suffering. I believe that God helps us grow when we turn to him.

Inspirational quotes appear throughout the book. The tone of the book is hopeful, pointing to healing. Women experiencing depression and the people that support them can find help in this book. The book can also provide a greater awareness of the needs of women in the weeks following childbirth.

Sharing this post with Booknificent Thursday