Q and A with Sharla Fritz, Author of Divine Makeover

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My friend, Sharla, has just released her new book, Divine Makeover. Sharla’s graciously agreed to be here today to share a little bit about her book.

1)      How did God prompt you to write this book?

After my first Bible study, Divine Design, came out, I heard about some groups of mothers and daughters doing the book together. It was so exciting that women of all ages could come together and discover their true beauty in Christ. But I thought young women would enjoy having a book that taught the same principles while using examples of their own struggles. So I wrote Divine Makeover—essentially Divine Design for a younger generation.

2)       What struggles do you see the younger generation having?

I remember as a teen thinking that no one would ever think I was beautiful, no one would ever love me. Almost all of us go through an awkward stage where we doubt our beauty and worth. (Some of us never outgrow that stage!)

Plus, in this age, the emphasis on physical beauty is greater than ever before. Celebrities are scrutinized for their hair styles, makeup, and clothing choices. Ordinary girls are slammed when they don’t wear the coolest brands. Every year hundreds of thousands of teens are so dissatisfied with their looks that they resort to plastic surgery.

I’m hoping that Divine Makeover will help young women discover their worth not in what clothes they are wearing on the outside, but on the clothing of their character.

3) How did you get the young women’s point of view for this book?

Admittedly, I am a long way from the teen years! So I met with some amazing teens at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Illinois every week. They candidly shared their views and struggles. I was truly impressed with this group of young women who clearly loved the Lord. Their faith and commitment to serve was very inspiring. Some of their words and stories are included in the book.

4) You talk about some myths of modesty? What are they?

I think three modern myths of modesty are: Modesty is old-fashioned, modesty means wearing a burlap bag, and modesty means following a strict set of clothing rules.

Modesty is an enduring principle because the Bible tells us that “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1Timothy 2:9). Because God’s Word never goes out of style, this advice is not just for women of Timothy’s day, but for us too.

We might think that if we dress modestly we can’t be stylish, but that isn’t necessarily true. It may mean that we have to adapt styles: wearing a camisole under a too-low top, adding leggings to a dress that’s a bit too short, or wearing a cute jacket or sweater over a top that’s too form-fitting.

I have seen sites and books that give strict rules for lengths of skirts and depths of necklines. But I think rules sometimes beg to be broken, so I think a better way to view modesty is as a way to dress with respect: respect for the beauty God gave you, respect for God’s Word, and respect for the gift of sexuality—which God has reserved for marriage.

5) What are some of the other topics discussed?

Divine Makeover is a “What Not to Wear” for the soul. It talks about hanging up the uniform and letting go of your inner control freak. It encourages young women to get rid of the handbag of worry and live with an attitude of trust. It tosses out the prom dress of pride, the boots of selfishness, the bitterness sweater, and anything the color of envy green. Instead, in Christ we can wear humility, love, forgiveness, and contentment.

6)      You include some dramatic stories of teens who struggled with their self-image. Tell us about them.

Yes. Some young women graciously shared their stories with me. One young woman battled anorexia for a time in her life. When she looked in the mirror, she saw herself as fat, even though she definitely wasn’t. She bravely shared her story of how she eventually discovered that she had become obsessed with food and a totally skewed view of her body. Eventually she learned to choose to see herself as God saw her—His much-loved daughter.

Another young woman discovered she had alopecia. She lost all of her hair. In this society that worships thick, long manes of hair, she struggled to see herself as beautiful. She doubted that any man would ever love her. She has never regained her hair, but she has regained a healthy self-image because of her trust in God.

Both of these women are now in their twenties and happily married.

7)     What practical tips do you share with readers?

The book concentrates on our inner beauty, but does have some fashion fun. Every chapter ends with some Fashion Finesse: a few words about finding the right clothes, building a wardrobe, and looking your best. Some of the practical tips include choosing a cute yet useful purse, finding your best colors, and discovering the best style of sweater for your shape. After the chapter on the prom dress of pride, I included seven tips for a fabulous formal.

8)      What one thing should potential readers know about this book?

I pray that every girl who reads this book will take away one important truth: that in Christ she is beautiful. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we always look lovely in God’s looking glass. Our heavenly Father sees us not as we are, with our mammoth mistakes, our messy sins, our major bedhead. He sees us as we will be—perfect. The Bible tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

9)      Tell everyone a little more about yourself.

I’m a Christian speaker and author who loves to communicate the truth of God’s transforming grace. I love meeting women around the country at retreats and conferences.

I live in the Chicago suburbs with my husband, who is the pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. Together we shared the adventure of homeschooling for 15 years with our two children. They are all grown up now and moved away from home. My daughter moved far from home—she now lives in China!

In my other life I am a church musician and piano teacher. I love traveling (especially to China!), going out to lunch with friends, and reading. If I’m not sitting at the piano or my computer you might find me at the thrift store stalking fabulous fashion finds.

10)     Anything else you’d like to share about this book?

Divine Makeover has eight chapters with each chapter having five days of devotions and Bible study questions. A girl could read it on her own, with or without doing the questions. But it would be even more fun to do with a group of gabby girlfriends!

Interested in having your own copy of Sharla’s new book, Divine Makeover? Enter to win here. Simply share your makeover story, and Sharla will select the winner from the comments received. The winner will receive a gift basket containing a copy of Divine Makeover, a Concordia Publishing House gift card, and a variety of other goodies.

 

 

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The Locust Effect

Despite our best efforts, we’ve somehow missed it.

Even in the midst of our generous financial donations, volunteer hours, mission trips, and letter writing, we’ve failed to see what should have been glaringly obvious: the global poor lack the most basic ingredient for forward progression — personal security.

In their recently released book, The Locust Effect, Gary Haugen (founder of the International Justice Mission), and Victor Boutros (federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice) convincingly argue that all our best work to eradicate poverty — even while worthwhile, helpful, and well-intended — is for naught unless we concurrently address the epidemic of violence and fear facing the poor in the developing world.

Read the rest of today’s post here.

Via thelocusteffect.com

Womanhood by the Book

As a 30-something, married mom of four, I am no longer a girl. But the word “woman” is a weighty term I’m not sure I qualify for.

To me, woman designates someone of enormous and quiet strength, bearing the weight of her world with grace and a smile. Hardworking, savvy, and smart, yet kind, nurturing, and warm. Much of this image comes from my own mother, of course, but a large part of it also comes from the pop culture I grew up with.

Our popular definition and image of womanhood bends and stretches to encompass new realities and lifestyles as times change. Women are caring for aging parents and young children. They are entering ministry and moving their families to further burgeoning careers. They are keeping house and earning paychecks and feeling torn in different directions by all of it. They’re struggling (like I am) to understand how they measure up against the generations before and the representation of womanhood they internalized over the years.

Read the rest of today’s post at Her.meneutics by clicking here.

Book Explores “God’s Radical Notion” of Feminism

Blogger extraordinaire and self-described “happy-clappy Jesus lover” Sarah Bessey has just released her first book, Jesus Feminist. In it, she explores “God’s radical notion that women are people, too.”

This is a (mostly) hyperbolic statement. Bessey actually explores the radical notion that women have worth and a calling all their own, both separate from and equal to that of men. As Bessey puts it, “Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance … to those of men, and we refuse to discriminate against women.”

Despite Bessey’s use of the “f-word” that many (erroneously) associate with anger, bitterness, and man-hating, she has a soft voice that is lyrically feminine, and full of love for men and women alike. Bessey is poetic, prophetic, and, at times, downright folksy. But one should not be fooled by her inviting and easy tone. Her words carry force and conviction, and all the more for their accessibility, as readers find themselves nodding in agreement at well told stories calling for love and justice in a hurting world.

You can read the rest of the book review at Sojourners by clicking here.

Women and Taboos: Leaning In, and Getting Frank About Faith, Sexuality and the Bible

In this age of third-wave feminism, many Americans may not realize that Christian women continue to struggle with what many would deem outdated gendered notions. This includes things such as a woman’s calling being second to her husband’s, women as unwitting temptresses who therefore must hide their bodies, and that women may not lead (or sometimes even speak) in church. Both external and internal pressures and fears have historically kept women silent on these matters.

In the recently released Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, edited by Erin S. Lane and Enuma C. Okoro, 40 women under 40 were provided a much-needed pulpit from which to break the silence. These 40 women addressed head-on many of the taboos remaining at the intersection of faith and gender, and how they are stepping out of historical oppression to make real change within the church.

You can read the rest of the review at Sojourners by clicking here.

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Book Review: Listening for the Light

Tallman, Laurna. Listening for the Light: A New Perspective of Integration Disorder in Dyslexic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolarity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Substance Abuse. Marmora: Northern Light Books, 2010. Print.

Listening for the Light (LFTL) by Laurna Tallman is a case study of one family’s experience with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, dyslexia, and substance addiction, among other illnesses. LFTL was originally published in 2009; however, it is not widely known, nor has it been widely reviewed, and despite the passage of four years, its content remains relevant.

Tallman begins by meticulously describing the stressors she and her family faced over a span of several years: Tallman and her husband both suffered from CFS, four of her five children had varying degrees of physical or mental illness, and one child was severely dyslexic. The family also contended with poverty, broken school systems, dysfunctional communities, and even murder.

It is against this backdrop that Tallman and her husband decided to use a monetary gift to send their son, Daniel, to Toronto’s Listening Centre, so he could get help for his dyslexia. The Listening Centre uses a “listening training program” to help people with a variety of issues, including dyslexia and autism. While at the Listening Centre with her son, Tallman briefly received her own listening training, which greatly alleviated her CFS symptoms. Daniel achieved great success as well; however, shortly after his Listening Centre experience, he suffered from a psychotic break and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Up until this point of the book, Tallman’s prose has been largely poetic. Indeed, in addition to her academic work, Tallman is also a poet and artist, and her talent shines through:

“On a warm afternoon at the end of the summer I had left the kitchen to rest on the steps of the stoop…. I climbed the steep bank and stepped through the shadow… across the slippery loose hay and began to speak.”

Whether intentional or not, Tallman’s poetic style has a pleasing effect that helps offset the at-times disturbingly sad and chaotic vignettes of a highly stressed household.

Shortly after describing Daniel’s breakdown, Tallman demonstrates her wide-ranging writing skill by transitioning in style from poetic recitation to medical case study.

She painstakingly outlines the treatment both she and Daniel received at The Listening Centre, then walks the reader through how this experience, combined with her study of medical and scientific literature, led her to undertake an investigation into the healing powers of music.

She concludes that “…dyslexic syndrome, psychosis, and a number of other mental disabilities or instabilities appear all to be related to auditory-processing deficits and to fall on specific places along a comprehensive continuum of ear-related forms of mental function that includes the range of normal, ” and that healing for dyslexia, CFS, various mental illnesses, and other forms of trauma can come through “wise use of music” and “listening retraining.” (p. 333) This is a vast oversimplification on my part; however, I am far from equipped to summarize all of Tallman’s findings.

Tallman’s writing is always enjoyable, but at times I found the subject matter too complex for my liberal arts understanding. I have a deep interest in the subject matter of LFTL, so it was worth it to me read and re-read passages, but for readers who are not so inclined, the middle of LFTL may be a bit much to plow through. Even if so, I still recommend reading at least the first and last of Tallman’s book, the former of which reads like a novel, and the latter of which summarizes findings in a more easily digestible format. The last chapter of the book also presents deep theological and sociological questions about how society does and should treat the mentally ill.

Tallman may disagree with my reading suggestion. In her introduction, she “craves the patience of those in positions of absolute power over their patients to listen to one story that may have enormous implications for their understanding differently the function of the brains of the spectrum and mental patients under their care and for considering revision in their modes of treatment.”

Indeed, I would take this further than Tallman, and add that those in the criminal justice and foster care systems would greatly benefit from reading this book and considering its implications for treatment and rehabilitation for the acts that lead clients to either system.

I would also beg those who choose to read this book to use patience to move past areas of potential disagreement, such as Tallman’s belief in the limited use of medications, that boys are unfairly treated by today’s classroom structures, faith-based references (though these are minimal and not at all taken into consideration in Tallman’s scientific research), and any other typically polemic area. These opinions are not relevant to Tallman’s findings, and can be glossed over to get to the end result (Tallman’s take on psychotropic medication perhaps being an exception to this).

End result: Listening for the Light is lengthy, and at times perhaps too complex for most lay people. It is also poetic, operatic, moving, and absolutely fascinating. Not to mention it is a book that could do great things for those suffering from mental illness. If you have a deep desire to explore options to fix our broken mental health system, this is a great place to start.

Related posts: Dual Diagnosis, When Christian Moms Get the Blues, Postpartum Depression: How My Church Helped and Yours Can, Too.

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Book Review: Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe

Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe: On a Mission to Save Sanity, One Mom at a Time, by Jenny Lee Sulpizio. Leafwood Publishers, 2013. 224 pages.

What it is: A how-to book of organizational- and self-care tips for moms.

Who should read it: Any mom could benefit from reading this book (COAWWW). Even the most organized, OCD, multi-mom could pick up a tip or two. New moms and moms who struggle with putting the daily pieces of motherhood together in an orderly fashion will especially benefit from this book. If you don’t fall into that category, check out COAWWW anyway, and make it a regular baby shower gift for new moms.

What I thought:

I have a favorite book I read the first (and second and third and fourth) time I was pregnant: The Baby Book, by Dr. William Sears. I have kept this book within arms reach for the last 19 years—when a baby/toddler question comes up, I flip open this great tome of a baby manual and search the table of contents. Nine times out of ten, I find what I’m looking for, and then some. The Baby Book has become the definitive, go-to book on parenting infants and toddlers in our home.

While reading Sulpizio’s book, I thought repeatedly that COAWWW should be “That Book” for new moms and moms who struggle with putting life, parenting, and self all together in a way that will save them from going over the deep end of mommy madness.

Moms who are born naturals at organization and keeping it (mostly) together won’t benefit as much from COAWWW as other moms will, but even the OCD mamas could learn a thing or two. Vomit, fashion, diapering, praying, couponing, meal planning, how to get to church on time…  Sulpizio covers all the necessary bases and then some, and does it all in a casual, easy-to-read tone.

While reading the first couple of chapters of COAWWW, I thought, “this is a good, fun book, but it isn’t for me. I’ve got all this stuff down after almost two decades of parenting!” But the more I read, the more I realized Sulpizo has true household-CEO wisdom to offer. She doesn’t preach, or tell you how to parent, or diagnose your issues or your kids’ issues, but instead offers bite-sized tips on keeping “it” all together in an organized way so you can feel more relaxed and have a life outside of toilet cleaning. And as moms we need those tips! We even need someone to tell us our ’80s hairdo is out of date and that it’s time to hit the salon. Sulpizio does that too, but with a smile so that we know she isn’t picking on us.

We can’t fight the big battles of parenting if we don’t have the basics under control, and this includes keeping our pantries stocked, meals cooked, budgets balanced, and personal hygiene emergencies at a minimum. Sulpizio’s book tells us how to better do all these things, and then gently reminds us that none of it really matters. What matters is loving our family, taking care of ourselves, and remembering that no matter how many times we don our Wonder Woman underoos and cape, God is the one who’s really in control.