Saturday, June 8, 2019

2019 Book Nook Reading Challenge: 08

Title:  Hello, Beauty Full.

Author:  Elisa Morgan

Info:  Copyright 2015:  Nashville:  W Publishing Group

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✮✮

Where Acquired:  Purchased from the author.

Category:  This falls into two categories Impulse Reads and Recommended Reading.  The author spoke at a ladies' brunch at my church and shared insights from this book.  Her share time was so good, I decided to purchase of copy to get more of the story.

Synopsis:  Beautiful.  How many women actually see themselves as beautiful through the eyes of the Almighty?  Using scripture and personal examples, Morgan takes the phrase "Hello, beautiful" and expounds on the elements of each portion of the phrase.  Hello: the call to wake up to the hiss of enemy's lies.  Beauty:  The true godly elements of beauty that the world may or may not recognize.  Full: the call to truly live life to the full as God intended.

Favorite Quotes:

"More pleasing to me than all your prayers, works, and penances is that you would believe I love you." - Brennan Manning, p. xxii

Rather than abandoning me to act sinful, God invites me into acting saved.  Rather than leaving me indentured as a slave to shame, God releases me to unfettered freedom.  Rather than only rescuing me from how I've been wounded, God heals me whole, as if the evil never occurred. - p. 13

At the turn of the first millennium, a monk named Bernard of Clairvaux clarified four stages of love, each building in maturity on the others:

     1.  Love of self for self's sake.
     2.  Love of God for self's sake.
     3.  Love of God for God's sake.
     4.  Love of self for God's sake. - p. 73

Quaker Parker J. Palmer wrote, "Our deepest calling is to grow into our authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be.  As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human seeks--we will also find our path of authentic service to the world."  - p. 76-77

The Positive:
  • I've waited so long for a woman of great influence to say much of what was said in this book.  The message was very empowering to women without the need to emasculate men to accomplish it.  She talks about how men and women are called of God to work together and to exercise their influence to better the Kingdom of God.  This was so refreshing to hear.
  • I found the premise of the book quite clever.
  • Unlike many authors of this genre the author puts her own life into the book. She didn't distance herself from the reader as if to say, "Hey I've got this all figured out.  Now I'm going to tell you little people how to straighten up."
  • I enjoyed Morgan's dry, self deprecating humor.

The Negative:
  • Morgan wrongly asserts that "It's well documented that women uniquely struggle under the shadow of shame, both real and imagined." (p. 37)  Women are not unique to shame.  In fact, much of the research done by BrenĂ© Brown, whose material she cites and I have read, conveys the exact opposite.  Yes, Morgan's book is geared toward women, but men's experiences of shame and insecurity shouldn't be dismissed.
  • If she mentioned MOPS international once, she mentioned it a dozen times.  We get it!  Her time at MOPS is not what give her book credence, her honesty, her openness, her willingness to put herself into the book; that's what gave it credence.
  • Her assertion that female sexuality and the "ability to turn a head, just because I'm a girl" is somehow some gift from God is ludicrous, not to mention degrading.  Women are not just sexual objects for men to ogle over. 
  • While I thoroughly appreciate that this wasn't a wives and moms only book, her chapter on "Womb" left me cold.  While she acknowledges that every woman isn't called to be the mother of a biological child, her wording seemed to indicate that those who are called to "birth" other things are merely getting a consolation prize from God and are still second class citizens among "real" godly women.


I would recommend this book to any woman who struggles with her identity in Christ.  I most likely will reread this volume; there's so much to absorb and so much more soul searching to do.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Five Minute Friday: "Well"


I've known.  I've known for a long time, but I tried to muddle through for a while without it.  Wellness and total healing require community.  I'm not just talking about doctors, nurses, and mental health specialists, though those are great and necessary.  No, I mean the other things we don't want to admit we need; accountability partners, mentors, friends, and ourselves.

Yes, I said we need ourselves in the mix for total wellness. 

Everyone around me can want me to be my best, send me well wishes, offer to help, and be there for me, but if I'm not there for me, forget it.  That may be why Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda, "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:6)  Even the Lord Himself doesn't force wellness onto those who don't want it.  He continues to love, continues to draw us with His goodness (Romans 2:4), and all we have to do is ask.

Since I've been in Colorado, I have asked for such community.  I thought I could muddle through without it, but I was failing miserably without it.  Not only do have good medical doctors to monitor my physical health, I've also found a Celebrate Recovery, an affordable fitness facility, and a mentor/coach/counselor close by.  I'm slowly making friends and surrounding myself with healthy people.

Do I want to get well?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Yes!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

If I Leave Here Tomorrow: Stay Woke at Your Wake [My Mythical Year]

See my post here for more information on My Mythical Year. 

"I want to live a life and love in such a way that if circumstances dictate that I know when I'm passing away, [...] that there are people that love me so much that they drop whatever they're doing to fly from across the world or across a nation to see me one last time." - Charles Lincoln "Link" Neal III, Ear Biscuits. July 2, 2018.

Today is my 47th birthday.  Forty-seven years on this spinning orb.  Forty-seven years of attempting an authentic life.  Last year, when I heard Neal speak those words at a time of great pain for him and his family (the grandfather who helped raise him was dying), it got me pondering my own life and love level.  Have I lived and loved well enough for people to care when I'm dying or dead?  After nearly a year of thinking about it, I'd have to say no.  It's not been from not trying.  I've lived and loved in the best way I knew how, but I'm not convinced it's good enough.

It's a shame that who loves you or the impact you've had is never revealed until you're not there to hear it.  No, I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon--He ain't through with me yet.  And, no, this isn't an ego thing; I'm not fishing for words of affirmation.  I'm simply saying that I acknowledge that so far, my life hasn't been up to par.

So, I set before you two scenarios.  Those of you who are closest to me and remain must decide what kind of funeral I'm due.  Heck take a Facebook poll if you want to--I don't care.

Scenario One:
If, indeed, my life has had no positive impact, please do the cheapest, no frills disposal of my body.  Cremation is cheap.  Don't buy a fancy urn for my ashes.  Put them in a pork and bean can, a pickle jar, or an empty beer can--whatever.  Dispose of them as efficiently as possible.  Throw them away, give them to a coke head to snort--I don't care.  Since there will be no service, there's no need for an obituary.  I didn't deserve any better.

Having no positive impact also means that I'll most likely die alone.  Don't be alarmed, I'm not as concerned about it as most everyone else is.  As I've said before, whether I die surrounded by loved ones, or I unceremoniously pass in isolation, I'm still dead.  That doesn't change anything.

Scenario Two:
If, in fact, I have lived and loved well enough to have a real funeral....

My obit (it will be edited to reflect the most accurate data until I'm gone):

Funeral services for Miss Shannon Maddox, 47, will be held Saturday (date) at 2:00 p.m. at Colorado Community Church in Aurora, CO, with the Reverend Robert Gelinas officiating.  Visitation will be an hour before the service.  Miss Maddox died (where it happened).  She is proceeded in death by her niece, April Wade, her father, M. L. Maddox, and her brother, Melvin Brewster.  She is survived by her mother D. Maddox, her brothers, M. Brewster (Laura), T. Maddox (Marie), and D. Maddox; her sisters M. Cox (Jerry), M. Wade, L. Barlow, C. Bradford (Bernard), I. Guzman (Ramon), and a host of nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.  Known as "Auntie" by those who knew her, Miss Maddox, a native of Jacksonville, Alabama,  was an artist, musician, writer and Bible teacher.  In lieu of flowers please send donations to Colorado Family Life Center of Aurora, Colorado, Sav-A-Life of Calhoun County, Alabama, or Colorado Christian University.

My attire:

I wish to be buried in a wedding gown.  I don't care if it's a cheap one.  In fact, since I know that the back of it will be cut out and it will draped over my body (thanks, GMM), a nice looking, inexpensive, white wedding gown will suffice.  Why a wedding gown?  This world (and unfortunately the church) placed such honor on wives and mothers while it dishonored someone like me for never getting married and/or never having children.  I want to show honor to my Maker who is my Husband (Isaiah 54:5) by dressing for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9)

The music:  This is a celebration, so no sad songs allowed.

BTW--If anyone even HINTS at wanting to play I Can Only Imagine, please punch them in the throat.  I liked that song when it first came out, but I've heard it and played it at so many funerals it's ruined it for me.

What's said: 

Dear Pastor Gelinas, please let everyone know where I went, how I got there, and how they can get there too.  Plain, simple, direct.

Afterwards, have a party.

Love to you all.

This post will remain as a link on the homepage of my blog until such a time as it becomes unnecessary--which hopefully, won't be for a long time.