Saturday, February 26, 2011

Medela and Sleepy Wrap Giveaway Winners

The winner of the Medela Breastmilk Labeling & Storage System is #8 lilbabyvenus! She said she would love to try out the Medela FreeStyle pump. She's heard it has great suction, and she loves the idea of the handsfree pumping.

The winners of the Organic Sleepy Wrap Bears are #18 Linda Kish she said she likes the Boba Classic - Dusk and Sleepy Wrap Classic in brown AND #19 katychick! She said she likes the Sleep Wrap Classic in beige and she likes the Boba organic in pine- b/c they look sturdy and comfortable for her and her baby and they look like they have soft material.

Congrats again to all the winners! I will contact each winner by email. If you did not have your email posted please post it here so I can email you! Thanks to all those who participated and don't forget to enter in my contests/giveaways that are going on now! I will also be adding more posts and giveaways soon so stay tuned!

*All winners are chosen by my True Random Number Generator.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Valentine's Day

My husband works a rotating shift and so sometimes he works on holidays and sometimes he doesn't. This Valentine's was great because my husband was off work and I got to spend it with him. We watched Netflix movies and he brought home cheese biscuits from Red Lobster and a sour cream lemon pie from Shari's. When my husband bought my Vitamix as a belated Christmas gift for me from Costco we got it cheaper with a Costco membership so, on Valentine's we also all went to Costco and picked up a dog bed for Prince, doggy biscuit treats and I gave him one of Tatiana's blankets she had from a hospital stay that I must say quite suits him :) It has doggies, paw prints, and dog bones on the fabric. Yes, he is one very spoiled pup!

I also just bought myself a bangle bracelet and a scarf as a late Valentine's day gift because one of my favorite stores, Sir Alistair Rai, was having a 75% off sale online on some of their items and Brian said I could get something for myself :) My mom sent a package with her fudge, fruit leather, dried apples and Valentine's. She also found a pie plate, a pretty crocheted snowflake doily and a carved wooden box for me at an estate sale.

Zari is rolling all over to get places now. She wants to be where her siblings are. Teela had croup which is a viral cough that sounds a lot like barking this past week and the doctor said that we just had to wait it out and let it pass and get better over 6 days...and it mainly has. Teela loves to go outside and play when it is nice out. It has been rainy a lot lately here. Both Teela and Zari received a jacket from their Nonnie for Valentine's Day too. Teela received a nice rain coat that is just Teela's style (Teela adores pink, purple, and ponies) and Zari received one with Baby Einstein critters all over it :) The boys received some Almond Toffee from her as well.

How was your Valentine's Day? I hope it was great too!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Free Creme of Nature Shampoo Sample

Become a Fan of Creme of Nature on Facebook and then sign up to get a free sample, while supplies last, of their Sunflower & Coconut Detangling Conditioning Shampoo. This shampoo is infused with the a great mixture of flower and fruit to hydrate and nourish your moisture starved hair. It has organic Sunflower and Coconut oils that gently cleanse and condition for soft, silky, and shiny hair. At least that is what they say on their website. I am going to try it out for myself with my free sample that I will be getting.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I saw this on Facebook and signed up for this myself and thought my readers would like the chance also. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. No monetary exchange took place.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Forgiveness Project: The Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace by Rev. Dr. Michael S. Barry FWCT Book Review

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:

and the book:

The Forgiveness Project: The Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace

Kregel Publications (December 22, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cat Hoort, Trade Marketing Manager, Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***


Rev. Dr. Michael S. Barry is the author of four books to encourage and strengthen patients and their caregivers in their battle with cancer, including The Forgiveness Project: The Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace (January 2011, Kregel Publications). Dr. Michael Barry joined the Cancer Treatment Centers of America as their Director of Pastoral Care at Eastern Regional Medical Center when it opened in November 2005.

His journey with Christ began in his late twenties, in the midst of a successful business career in Texas. In his mid-30s, he responded to God’s call to ministry. Dr. Barry is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, having served several Presbyterian churches in Arkansas, Texas and Illinois.

Dr. Barry currently serves as the principal investigator for the research project Release! which focuses on the topic of forgiveness as it relates to cancer patients. He is a featured seminar speaker on topics including “Spirituality and Health” and “Forgiveness: Healing for the Body and Soul.”

His philosophy of caregiving for cancer patients is based upon the Christian concept of joy and is the subject of his book, The Art of Caregiving.

Married and the father of two, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, his master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1990 and his doctor of ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1999.


All religions value forgiveness, but only Christianity requires it. Internalizing anger is destructive to our spiritual health and can destroy families, marriages, and even churches. But what about our physical health? Is there a relationship between a spirit of unforgiveness and cancer? Between forgiveness and healing? How do you really forgive?

After thorough medical, theological, and sociological research and clinical experience at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), author and pastor Michael Barry has made a startling discovery: the immune system and forgiveness are very much connected. Through the inspiring stories of five cancer patients, Barry helps readers identify—and overcome—the barriers that prevent healing and peace. See how a breast cancer patient named Jayne experienced spiritual and physical renewal when she learned to forgive. Meet Cathy whose story illustrates how forgiveness can positively change relationships. Be inspired by Sharon’s story of spontaneous remission. With each true account comes proven strategies, tested and used by CTCA, that readers can implement to find peace with their past, relief from their hatefulness, and hope for healing.

Competing titles may talk about forgiveness, but none specifically address the connection between forgiveness and physical health or offer forgiveness as a specific step toward healing from cancer. The Forgiveness Project presents scientific findings in easy-to-understand, accessible language and offers practical steps to help Christians let go of past wrongs and find peace.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (December 22, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825426561
ISBN-13: 978-0825426568


Chapter 2


“A feeling of lightness”

Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Among the more dramatic miracles I’ve witnessed is the one experienced by Jayne Rager, which is described in this chapter. No story incorporates the principles of finding forgiveness more than hers. She is the poster child for finding and living in freedom.

After she developed cancer, she learned how to battle her way back into good health, leaving no stone unturned. She sought out every possible advantage in her fight against cancer, including the benefits of forgiveness taught at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Today, she eats a healthy macrobiotic diet, exercises regularly, and even does chin-ups in her living room. (Can you do a chin-up?) Jayne has a publishing contract for a book she’s writing, and a Dateline NBC program about her tragic experience in Mexico.

Here is her story.

In June 2007, on a little-traveled country road less than a mile from their home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Jayne Rager Garcia Valseca and her husband, Eduardo, were surrounded by armed men and dragged from their Jeep at gunpoint. Eduardo was struck on the head with a hammer. Injured and frightened, the couple were forced into another car, their wrists and ankles bound with duct tape and pillowcases pulled over their heads.

The day hadn’t started like this, of course. Summer vacation was just around the corner, and the Valsecas and their three children were looking forward to the break. The family lived on a ranch just outside the small town where Jayne and Eduardo had founded a not-for-profit elementary school for the town’s children—including their own. They dropped their kids off at school that morning, and on the short drive home their lives changed forever.

Jayne’s journey—at least as it applies to the topic of this book—begins here, at the depths of despair and sadness. And I don’t think it will ruin the story to tell you that her journey has brought her to the emotional heights of forgiveness, which she describes as a feeling of lightness.

She certainly had a lot to forgive. About twenty minutes after the abduction, she was dropped off on the side of the road with only a ransom note to keep her company. “We have your husband,” it said in Spanish. Her husband was held captive for nearly eight months. He spent much of the time in a box no bigger than a small closet, with just enough room to stand up or lie down. He was kept naked on a hard, cold, rough floor, tortured with beatings and with blinding light and loud music day and night. He was shot twice at close range, once in the arm and once in the leg. Several of his ribs were broken.

For her part, Jayne spent some thirty long weeks in a living hell. “There were moments when I thought that I couldn’t possibly go on,” she said. The criminals sent her photographs of her husband to coerce her into paying a multimillion dollar ransom, one that she couldn’t afford to pay even if she were willing to deal with these horrible men. Eduardo’s captors force him to write notes and make phone calls at gunpoint. Throughout the whole experience, Jayne “felt the deepest kind of hatred for these people and what they were doing to me and my family.”

Jayne says this of her thoughts of revenge: “These thoughts became fantasies of all of the creative ways I could torture them, even kill them. My favorite one was of being a giant, female Samurai, beheading all of them in one clean sweep of my sword. Thinking about these things brought me great pleasure.”

Not necessarily the best thoughts for a person to have, but certainly understandable for a woman in Jayne’s horrific predicament.

Although she felt helpless against these feelings and emotions, Jayne knew they would do her absolutely no good on the inside—especially since she had already battled cancer. Jane had been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2005. After going through conventional treatment (along with several holistic therapies), she found herself cancer free, full of energy, and happy to be alive.

The emotional trauma brought by the kidnapping threatened to change all that. “I knew the negative potential it could have,” she said. “I sought professional help, which was hugely comforting, but my anger, rage, and resentment were extremely hard to get a handle on.”

Jayne wasn’t terribly surprised when her breast cancer returned in the spring of 2008. She wasn’t surprised, but she was devastated. She was almost numb.

What else could be taken from me? she asked. Why me? How could all of this be happening to me?

Still, it made sense when she thought about all of the unresolved rage she had been clinging to for so many months. Jayne realized that in order to heal completely—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—she needed to go in a different direction than before. Her search for a holistic approach to cancer care led her to Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia, and then to my office for a conversation about forgiveness.

The first time I met Jayne, she was wearing her trademark straw cowboy hat, the kind that rolls up easily on the side and can be shaped in a pointed fashion to easily cover her eyes. She wore a pink bandana underneath to mitigate the all-too-common embarrassment of losing her hair. Though she is Caucasian, her time in Mexico lent a Hispanic flair to her clothing. Almost always, she was able maintain her natural beauty and usually displayed the all-important cheerful, hopeful, and optimistic attitude that is, as the experts tell us, the telltale sign of long-term cancer survivors. As hopeful as she was, though, she was always rightfully concerned about her health and her future. Jayne wanted to live.

By this time, Eduardo had been released from his captors. At the end of January, two months before Jayne’s second diagnosis, she had recovered her husband—though when he returned, he was almost unrecognizable. His weight had dropped from 160 pounds to ninety.

Despite his injuries and depleted physical condition, Eduardo came back ready to jump into life, grateful for every breath of freedom. He was amazed that he could go to the refrigerator and eat whatever he wanted, that he could talk with others whenever he wanted—or at all. He was immensely thankful for everything that you and I take for granted. Strangely enough, he didn’t seem to have forgiveness issues with his captors. He wasn’t angry. His happiness to be alive, home with his family, and free, overrode any hatred, anger, or bitterness.

Jayne, on the other hand, was still stuck in her desire for revenge. She was angry and hated the kidnappers for what they had done to her family. She hated them with all her heart. Jayne had become so hardened that she hadn’t been able to cry for months. At times, she would shake uncontrollably, but she could no longer shed even one tear. She had been running on adrenaline, like a soldier on the front lines of battle, afraid that if she let her guard down all would be lost. Her way of processing things (or not processing them) was her way of surviving, and it worked—but it took a toll, and now she had breast cancer again.

As I talked with Jayne during our first meeting, it became apparent that she was aware of her need to forgive, her need to let go off all the negative emotion that she kept bottled up inside. But, like so many people, she hadn’t figured out exactly how. She needed more direction in order to apply it to her life in a new, permanent way—one that she hoped would help her along the road to health and wholeness.

In short, she needed to let go of her painful memories. She needed a clean slate.

I’ll let Jayne tell the next part of the story:

At one of our first meetings, we talked for about an hour. Dr. Barry heard my story and was compassionate, but to my surprise I didn’t get a whole lot of sympathy. Now, don’t get me wrong: he was sympathetic, but that was not his focus. I had kind of gotten used to having people cry when I told them the story; they would embrace me and mirror my feelings of injustice. Dr. Barry’s reaction was very different. It was nonjudgmental. The conversation was more about his wanting me to find peace again, which often requires learning to feel empathy toward the kidnappers. At one point, he even suggested that there might be some self-righteousness in what I was feeling. Well, that was the last thing I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear about how right I was to feel the way I felt, how wrong and despicable they were and that sooner or later there would be some sort of divine justice.

Jayne wasn’t having it. She told me how she had already tried to find empathy for the men who had taken so much from her. She had even tried praying for them. She had tried to find forgiveness in the midst of her pain, and had come up empty-handed.

“How in the world can I find empathy for these reptiles?” she asked me. “They ambush you, snatch you from your life and your family. We lost our home, our business. We were devastated financially. We had to flee the country leaving our belongings behind, everything we had worked for seventeen years and built as law-abiding citizens. I lost my health from the months of stress, and my children are traumatized. How can I possibly find empathy for these horrible individuals who kidnap, destroy families, and harm and kill people for money?”

I never suggested that life was fair or that forgiveness would be easy.

I reminded Jayne that, under the right circumstances, every one of us is capable of great evil. No one is exempt—not Jayne, not you, and not me. This isn’t easy to hear, of course, but it’s true.

“It’s not about them, Jayne,” I said. “They’ve moved on, maybe to the next victim. You’re still angry and they probably haven’t given you a second thought. You are only harming yourself by holding on to this. Forgiveness is a gift that you can give to yourself. As a concept, forgiveness transcends any particular religion. It’s not that it’s the Christian thing to do or the Jewish thing to do, or the Buddhist, Muslim, or Catholic thing to do. It’s the right thing to do, if what you want is the best chance of beating your disease. It’s the human thing to do.

“This is what you do can do for you, Jayne.”

I left Jayne with a homework assignment. I told her to go home and write a letter to the men who had kidnapped her husband and thrust her life into chaos. She didn’t have to forgive them right then and there, and she didn’t have to conjure up eloquent words for some grand pronouncement of empathy and understanding. She simply had to tell them how she felt.

Jayne’s letter was five pages long. “It felt good to write it,” she said. “It really did. It felt like some kind of emotional release. Like getting it off my chest.”

The next time I met with Jayne, we talked about the letter and about how she felt while writing it.

“It felt good,” she told me, “but I’d feel even better if I had an address to send it to, and maybe just a tiny bit of anthrax.”

Funny—and honest—but not exactly what we were working toward. I told Jayne that she should do some more writing. This time, she needed to work a little harder toward finding empathy. It isn’t something that comes from the head, I told her, but from the heart.

When she sat down to write for the second time, Jayne found herself stuck, not sure what she could say that hadn’t already been said. The cursor on the computer screen blinked at her silently. She decided to clear her mind and meditate on empathy. The answer eventually came to her, and when it did, it took a surprising and inspired form.

“I decided to use my creativity to create a mental movie set. I imagined the kidnappers as babies. I’m a mother of three and I adore children. I’ve often thought that all babies come into the world as blank canvasses. I’ve seen as a mother how they absorb, like little sponges, information about the world around them, about their environment. I saw these little babies in my mind, innocent and new, and then took them forward in the imaginary movie, creating what they must have gone through in order to ultimately become what they became, capable of doing what they do. I did this for each one of them, one by one. All seven of them.”

Suddenly—after an hour and a half of stretching her mind and creating a script by which she could understand these men and their motives—she felt it. “I felt an enormous wave of relief,” she said, “as if the weight of the world had just been lifted from my shoulders. It was amazing. I felt so much lighter.”

Sharon Whitmore, a fellow cancer patient, described the result of forgiveness in similar terms. “I woke up the next day and had this feeling,” she said. “It was a lightness. It was a lightness in my heart. You know how you have a heavy load? It didn’t feel heavy anymore.”

Moreover, and much to Jayne’s surprise, she felt the most relief in the places where she had the disease. “I had gotten it off my chest,” she smiled. “Literally.”

The process of releasing her anger made her ask some questions, as well. How much of this is the result of my own emotions? How much is the result of my own way of thinking and processing things?

Jayne felt amazing for the rest of the day. She had a smile on her face that could not be contained, and a lightness in her step that was noticeable to everyone around her. She had more energy. Her chemotherapy infusions felt easier to take. Most importantly, she had a renewed love of life and was ready to move into healing.

The lesson has stayed with her and has begun to change the way she lives her life in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

“Now, I remind myself daily to apply forgiveness to my everyday life—while driving, while in the grocery store, and at home with my family. Every time I feel myself going into anger or judgment, I instead choose empathy and forgiveness. I get better at it every day. Doing this has been life-changing for me and has had a ripple effect in countless encounters.”

I believe that everyone can experience the same life-changing feeling of lightness that Jayne describes. It isn’t going to look the same for everybody—which is perhaps one of the reasons that forgiveness has been overlooked and underused in the recovery process. It can’t be precisely quantified. The notion that the process of forgiveness requires a predetermined number of steps in order to arrive at the final destination is a notion that must be put to rest.

In short, there is no easy equation that says

(action a + understanding b) x (y2 empathy)
————————————————————— = forgiveness
x days

Such equations simply do not exist. There are too many psycho-spiritual variables involved for a step-by-step process to work. This isn’t as easy as setting the clock on the DVD player; it’s more complicated than ensuring that, at the end of the cycle, your whites are whiter and your colors brighter.

In light of how complex we are as human beings, why would we expect our emotional experiences to be identical?

This does not mean, however, that there aren’t any common threads between individual stories. Even as religious conversion experiences are often quite unique, they also share similarities. So, too, is it with experiences of forgiveness.

For example, one woman tearfully approached me after a sermon I preached on forgiveness. She told me that when she learned I was preaching on forgiveness, she almost decided to skip church altogether. Instead, she decided to stay. During the sermon, “something happened.” What happened can be explained spiritually as a miracle, for anytime a heart hardened by hatred is transformed, suddenly or otherwise, into a heart of flesh able to forgive, it is a miracle.

On the other hand, I have worked for several months with people who were unable to get to first base. In one case, after months of work, a woman harbored just as much hatred against her father as when she had begun.

Just as no two stories are the same, no two paths to forgiveness are identical.

Your path to forgiveness may happen miraculously, a change of heart at a moment’s notice. Like Jayne, it may require a fresh and creative approach to discovering empathy. It may take days, weeks, months, or years. There is no way of knowing until you begin the process.

But I do know this: the most important variables are not the time and effort a person is willing to put toward forgiveness. Rather, it is motivation. It relies on whether or not a person has the wholehearted desire to let their painful past go. Without the firm desire to be healed and whole, a person could go through a hundred steps and spend many long months working at the issues at hand without ever experiencing the change of heart required for true forgiveness.

Forgiveness, then, is a process with a definable beginning and end; but the road linking them is often as distinctive as each individual.

The one trait that each story—including Jayne’s—seems to share is the strong desire to live. Like Jayne, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to increase your quality of life, even if it means facing your demons—and forgiving them. Jayne faced her demons with anything but a feeling of helplessness. Rather, she exuded resiliency, the ability to bounce back from her situation with a strength and personal power that came from a potent will to live.

Her life, as dark as it had become, now blossoms with numerous opportunities to speak before impressive audiences. It would be trite to suggest that there is a silver lining in every cloud; but if ever there was a dream that I hoped would come true, it is the dream that is coming true for Jayne, her husband, and their wonderful children.

We’ll close this chapter with some final thoughts from Jayne:

My gratitude to Dr. Barry and everyone at Cancer Treatment Centers of America is beyond words. I believe that going through the forgiveness process has been an essential part of my recovery, and I feel so blessed to have had access to this complete approach to healing from cancer from the inside out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

10 Lessons from a Former Fat Girl by Amy Parham FIRST Wild Card Tour Book Review

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:

and the book:

10 Lessons from a Former Fat Girl

Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Christianne Debysingh, Senior Publicist, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Amy Parham co-authored with her husband, Phil, The 90-Day Fitness Challenge and The 90-Day Fitness Challenge DVD. She and Phil were contestants on Season 6 of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Over a seven-month period, they recorded the highest percentage of weight loss of any couple in the program’s history. Married for more than 20 years, they live in South Carolina with their three boys, Austin, Pearson, and Rhett.

Visit the author's website.


Former fat girl Amy Parham offers a practical, proven plan for changing not only the fat-girl body but also the fat-girl mentality. Focusing on the mental ,emotional, and spiritual aspects of our relationship with food and exercise, Amy shows how readers can make this a healthy partnership that brings permanent change.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736938656
ISBN-13: 978-0736938655


We All Have an Empty Place

We’re all searching for something to fill up what I like to call that big, God-shaped hole in our souls. Some people use alcohol, or sex, or their children, or food, or money, or music, or heroin. A lot of people even use the concept of God itself. I could go on and on. I used to know a girl who used shoes. She had over two-hundred pairs. But it’s all the same thing, really. People, for some stupid reason, think they can escape their sorrows.

  —  Tiffanie DeBartolo, God-Shaped Hole

My earliest memories were such happy ones. Mom had dinner on the table when Dad came home from work, and my two sisters and I laughed and talked about our day with our parents. It was the best feeling. Everything about our family felt so right and secure. I remember Mom walking me to kindergarten every day at a church around the corner from my house. In that same church parking lot, my dad taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels. He also taught me to fly a kite, and with his help, I won a blue ribbon in a kite-flying competition at my school.

I had my own bedroom with a yellow gingham canopy bed and a playhouse in the backyard. There was also a dogwood tree that I climbed all the time. My best friend, Teresa, lived across the street, and my grandparents lived nearby. Life was good and felt normal, but when I turned eight years old, my seemingly perfect life changed forever.

A Growing Hole

Dad quit his longtime job at a local radio station in South Carolina to pursue a job at another radio station in West Palm Beach, Florida. We had to sell our house immediately and move to what seemed to me to be a different planet. I will never forget the image of Teresa and me standing by the “For Sale” sign in our front yard. We bawled our eyes out and held each other so tight because we knew we might not ever see each other again.

When we got to Florida, the five of us moved into a tiny apartment. There was nothing wrong with the apartment, but I was uncomfortable because I was used to living in a larger space and having a big yard to play in. My sisters and I barely had enough room to squeeze past each other on the way to the bathroom. My new school was huge compared to the one I attended in South Carolina. But the worst thing was that while everyone knew and loved me at my old school, I was now the new girl at school, and I got ridiculed for it. I felt insecure, unsure of myself, and alone. I wanted to go back to my happy, carefree life.

This was the first time I remember being unhappy and having no control over my circumstances. I was deeply sad, and it felt like I had an empty hole in my soul. Thankfully, we only stayed in Florida for one year, but things would never go back to how they were before. I would never regain the sense of normalcy I had so desperately craved.

When we came back to South Carolina, we moved to a different city, and my parents bought a restaurant and ice-cream parlor. It was hard work building a new business, and the stress took a toll on Mom and Dad. They began to fight all the time about money and other issues. It got so bad that they divorced.

When my parental situation turned upside down, I found myself in a world that lacked security and stability. Suddenly, I was being raised by a single mother, and as the oldest daughter at ten years old, there was a lot of pressure on me to help my mom care for my two sisters. She worked very hard (sometimes up to 18 hours a day), and I know she did her best to keep food on the table and clothes on our backs. She usually had no time to tuck us in at night and tell us bedtime stories because she worked such long hours.

My sisters (who were four and six years old) and I spent a lot of time at home alone. As much as we tried to pick up after ourselves, you can imagine how messy three kids can be. I felt terrible when my mother would come home, tired from working so much, and be cranky because the house was such a disaster. I never felt like I could do enough to make Mom happy or fix our broken home life.

Many mornings she had to get to work at the crack of dawn and woke us up at three in the morning to take us to the restaurant. She made us a makeshift bed on the concrete floor in the back room and let us sleep there while she worked. This was not an ideal environment for kids, but she was doing the best she could.

It wasn’t her fault. The problem was me. I felt the hole inside my heart growing bigger and bigger, and I desperately needed something to fill it.

Enter the Banana Split

I remember one particular day when I was playing outside the restaurant and decided to go visit the couple who worked at the dry cleaners next door. The owners were in their late twenties and had no children of their own. They were kind enough to let me hang out with them sometimes, and it made me feel good.

In my mind, I felt “less than” because my life had changed so drastically in only two years. I was nothing like the other kids at school and always felt out of place. This couple welcomed, accepted, and loved me just the way I was. They talked to me like I was one of their peers, and I appreciated the kindness and warmth they showed me.

This day was like any other day that I would drop by for a visit. I had been sitting at the counter and talking to the wife for about 20 minutes when her husband walked in. He abruptly told me that it was time for me to go. He said that their business was no place for children and that I shouldn’t hang out there so much.

I was hurt to my core and very embarrassed. I thought they were my friends, but they were abandoning me. I tried my best to maintain my composure and make myself believe that it didn’t matter. I reassured myself that I didn’t need them and was fine on my own. I remember announcing to them that I was leaving, anyway, to go to make a banana split for myself.

I guess in my own childlike way, I was trying to hold on to my self-respect by pointing out that I could have a banana split anytime I wanted one. Maybe it seems silly, but for me that moment was a turning point because it concerned food. I ended up making myself that banana split and hoping it would fill some of the rejection and the emptiness I had been feeling for so long. It was the first time I used food for comfort, but it would definitely not be the last time.

Bigger and Bigger

As I got older, I gained weight and came under the attack of my grandmother who constantly told me I was chubby. My two sisters were in this weight battle with me. What else would anyone expect from kids who ate fast food and ice cream every day for years? Being overweight compounded our problems in school. Not only were we still the new kids on the block, but we had also become the fat kids.

My youngest sister had an especially hard time with children teasing her. To this day, she talks about the negative memories — one of which was having to shop for clothes in the husky department at Sears — that have haunted her through the years. Not only did she suffer from a kidney problem that made her gain even more weight, she also had an eye condition and had to wear coke-bottle glasses. She felt like such an outcast, and it broke my heart. At this point, I had taken on the role of surrogate mother for my sisters. I felt responsible for them and believed it was my job to protect them. I hated to see them suffer so much.

I don’t say all of this to blame my parents. I know they both loved us girls very much and did their best at the time, but the fact was I felt very alone and abandoned. While my mom worked long hours to support us, my father took up a new life. He started dating a woman soon after the divorce. We didn’t realize how serious the relationship was until we found out they had gotten married. My sisters and I weren’t even invited to the wedding.

Yet again, I felt I was left behind as he started a whole new life without my sisters and me. This feeling was further reinforced when he purchased a two-seater sports car. I remember thinking that there wasn’t enough room for my sisters and me. Where were we going to fit in? To me, the car was a symbol of how we weren’t a part of Dad’s life anymore.

My void grew deeper with each passing day. As I shoved more food into my mouth to soothe the pain that wouldn’t go away, my weight crept up.

When I was eleven years old, my friend Beth invited me to attend her church youth group one night. My grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher, and church was a big part of our lives. We visited many churches through the years and spent many weeks during the summers at different vacation Bible schools, which were hosted by local congregations. I had even accepted Christ into my heart at a young age.

Since moving back to South Carolina, however, our family had stopped going to church. I missed it. The thought of visiting one with my friend absolutely thrilled me. When I arrived at the service, I immediately felt as if I belonged. I was in a wonderful place where people loved and cared about each other. It felt like I was home again. Church became my refuge. I especially felt drawn to the youth pastor, Sam. He quickly became a father figure to me, and I felt like I could tell him anything.

This reconnection with church sparked the beginning of a deepening relationship with God. Every Tuesday night, the church bus would drive to my house and take me to church. It was there that I experienced overwhelming love from others, and I discovered that God wanted to fill up the empty hole inside of my heart.

My faith commitment didn’t mean that my problems were suddenly solved. I didn’t ride off into the sunset of my new, happily-ever-after future. It just meant that for the first time in a long time, I felt like I had a lifeline. I had hope. My heart had a chance to become whole.

By learning about God’s love for me, I realized that because we are all human, we all carry with us a certain measure of hurt and pain. This is a part of the sin nature of humankind. But that was not all. I also discovered that God created us with a space that only He can fill. He wanted to be the one to fill my voids and heal my hurts. The pain I was trying to mask with ice cream was a pain that only He could mend.

The Fat Girl Thinks She Is in Control

I want you to know that emptiness is normal. If you feel as if you need to numb the pain or soothe your soul with something outside of yourself, you are not alone. We all endure suffering from time to time. It’s a normal process of living in a sinful world.

While emptiness is normal, it is how you fill the emptiness that will determine whether you are a fat girl or a fit girl. These two chicks cope with problems in different ways. The fit girl chooses God. The fat girl chooses unhealthy addictions. The fat girl can use many different ways to try to heal the hurt on the inside. Some abuse food, drugs, or alcohol or become addicted to work, hobbies, or unhealthy relationships. It might be hard to believe, but some folks can even abuse exercise to an addictive level.

Let me tell you something. The hole that is formed inside of us is not shaped like an ice-cream cone, a vodka bottle, a cigarette, or a good-looking guy. The hole is shaped like the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. He is the one who is meant to fill our empty places and heal our hurts.

I like to think about it this way. We have been created like puzzles with a missing piece. That piece is a relationship with God. He wants us to invite Him into our hearts. The closer we walk with God, the less we will search for other things to fill the hole. This is something the fit girl knows and understands.

I will be honest with you. There have been many times in my life, especially as a fat girl, when I have drifted away from my relationship with the Lord. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I believe that because of the instability I felt as a result of my parent’s divorce, I made a decision as a little girl that when I became an adult, I would be self-sufficient. I would take care of myself so that bad things would never happen to me again.

As most of us know, life usually doesn’t turn out as smooth as we hope it will. Bad things happen to everyone. Here’s a reality check. In life, people will disappoint us one way or another. If you have never been hurt or offended by someone, then you just might be an alien from outer space. The fact is none of us can measure up to perfection, and since we can’t, then certainly life will never be perfect.

My sense of independence severely impaired me when it came to trusting God with my life. I voiced my commitment to Him, but when things got tough or trials came my way, I wanted to take back my commitment. I wanted to do things my way instead of His way. When I turned away from God, that original hole in my heart would reappear, and I temporarily filled it with something. My choices were usually food, of course, and sometimes alcohol or the attention of the opposite sex. None of those things ever gave me true contentment because nothing outside of God could fulfill me.

A significant time I pulled away from God was when my son Rhett was diagnosed with autism. I was 35 at the time, and Rhett was 3. Autism is a spectrum disorder that presents different social and psychological abnormalities in some children. The main challenges we had with Rhett were that he screamed nonstop and was very sensitive to certain sounds. He also had a high threshold for pain. If he was hurting, he didn’t know how to tell us, and so my husband and I were always afraid that he might be sick and we would never know.

We faced other obstacles with our son. Rhett acted as if he had no fear. He was always jumping off the top of the sliding board, and one time he even climbed out of his bedroom window and onto the roof. He exhibited destructive behaviors, colored on the walls, overfilled the bathroom sink or tub with water, and broke things around the house at random. Because he couldn’t communicate in a normal manner, he was easily frustrated.

It was a very sad and dark time in our lives. I was utterly exhausted. I couldn’t believe that God would allow my child to be this way, especially because I tried to live a good Christian life. For goodness sake, I even served Him in ministry at church! Why me? This was the question I constantly asked myself whenever I threw a pity party, which was quite often. This should not happen to someone like me, I thought.

I determined that if my son could suffer from autism when God was supposed to be in control, then maybe I should take back the reins of my life and chart my own course. I would figure out how to fix Rhett. I would find a way to make him better by myself. Who needed God? I was pretty sure I could handle things on my own.

As I focused on being in control, guess what happened? That’s right. The hole that formed when my family fell apart grew bigger. And that’s when the fat girl came out in full force. When it came time for bed, I was so exhausted from trying to do everything on my own that I would fall into a heap on the sofa. I spent many nights with my new comforters—a bowl of ice cream or a bag of chips. Oh, I still had conversations with God, but they were more like yelling matches. I would demand that He fix Rhett in the spirit of “You got me into this mess, God, so You’d better get me out of it.”

One day as I was driving down the road and screaming at God yet again, He gently put me in my place. A still, small voice spoke quietly to my heart and said, “Amy, you aren’t perfect, and I love you. Why does Rhett have to be perfect for you to love him?” Talk about getting hit right between the eyes! I knew that God was absolutely right. I was definitely not perfect, and instead of loving Rhett for who he was and dealing with the situation at hand, I had been focusing on making him normal (whatever that even means). At that moment I shifted my focus and asked God to forgive me. I asked Him to help me trust Him with Rhett and the other challenges in my life.

I quickly came to the realization that when I controlled my life, I only made more of a mess of it. It was a lesson I would continue to learn even after I lost the weight and transformed into a fit girl. (By the way, you’ll quickly find out that the fit girl is always learning!)

A week later, I was at church, and as I listened to the sermon, the pastor stopped in the middle of what he was saying and told the congregation that he felt led to say something specific. He said that there was someone in the service who didn’t know how much longer they could hang on, and that they should be encouraged because God was about to perform a miracle in their life.

I was stunned. Only a few days earlier, I mumbled something to myself about not being able to take these problems anymore. Not only was I dealing with my weight  —  I was 230 pounds at that point  —  and Rhett’s autism diagnosis, but my husband, Phillip, and I had also lost a business right after we had purchased a home that needed thousands of dollars worth of renovations. I was emotionally drained by these problems. It seemed I couldn’t get a break.

I felt as if the pastor was talking to me. It was the encouragement I needed to hear. Maybe my life would get better! Within days, the miracles started happening. First, we found out about a therapy called “audio integration” that proved to be a miracle cure for Rhett. It stopped his sensitivity to sound and his constant screaming. We were able to catch and keep his attention for a long period of time, and for the first time, I felt he could actually begin to learn. Second, our financial situation started to turn around as we found new careers in real estate.

When things started changing for the better, Phil and I specifically realized we had been feeding our physical bodies instead of filling our spiritual bodies. In the process, we had become morbidly obese. It was time to begin the journey to lose the weight. For me, it was time to say good-bye to the fat girl and hello to the fit girl.

What about you? What’s your story? I have met people all over the country who have stories that make mine seem like a walk in the park. One such lady that I met recently told me that her problems with her weight began right after her husband committed suicide. That in itself is a horrifying traumatic event, and now this woman is left to pick up the pieces of a family torn apart by tragedy. This affected her and her family emotionally, mentally, and financially. Five years later this lady is obese, depressed, and struggling to support her family. My heart goes out to people like this because I see the magnitude of their holes and how they are desperately trying to fill them.

Pascal wrote, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” In this he describes the search that is familiar to the fat girl. So many people are on this journey to fill that hole in their hearts.

Another time I met a beautiful young woman with an incredible singing talent. She is tall and blonde and beautiful in spite of the more than 100 pounds she wants to lose. She shared with me that when she was in high school, her stepfather was murdered. Before that she had never had a weight problem, but that event threw her into such a depression that she could hardly get out of bed in the morning. Her grades suffered, and she had to drop out of school for a while. She began eating to comfort herself in her grief.

These people suffered a pain that pierced their hearts like a bullet and left a hole that couldn’t be healed. They needed the Comforter to heal them, but instead they turned to food. Does this sound familiar? Have your fat-girl tendencies to heal yourself left you more depressed and burdened with extra weight? Have you suffered in a way that you feel no one can understand? Do you feel that there is no way out of the pain that plagues you day and night? It’s time to become the fit girl.

What a Fit Girl Knows

Fit girls know that making the right nutrition choices and getting regular exercise are only half the battle. The real key to losing weight and keeping it off is in fighting a spiritual and mental battle. When I lost all the weight while on The Biggest Loser, I found that many issues from my past reappeared. When it was time for the fit girl to deal with her internal fears and let go of the crutches the fat girl held on to for dear life, I felt like a scared kid curled up in a corner in a fetal position. I had to give that scared little girl permission to rise up and be strong. Why? Because fit girls are strong and are not afraid to face challenges, obstacles, or their fears. I had to show the fat girl what a fit girl is capable of.

As a fat girl, I focused on naming things I couldn’t do. After I started losing weight, I was on a mission to prove the fat girl wrong. I climbed mountains, kayaked rivers, hiked the Grand Canyon, and endured physical challenges that I never thought I could face. Being able to witness my own strength for the first time in my life and overcome the impossible was just the beginning of my fit-girl transformation. Healing my heart on the inside would prove to be a bigger challenge than climbing the biggest mountain I could find, but it was only when my heart healed that I was able to find the fit girl.

You may be asking, “Who is the fit girl?” The fit girl is you when you discover that the hole on the inside of you is designed to be filled by God, your heavenly Father and the Creator of the universe. The fit girl is you when you realize that the compulsion to fill an internal void with food, alcohol, or other stuff is futile because only God can fill that place. The fit girl is you when you realize that you don’t need to comfort yourself with anything but God because you know He loves you very much and wants nothing but the best for your life.

The Bible says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (see Hebrews 11:1 nkjv). Faith in God is the belief that He is the substance you need for the life you dream of but have yet to see. For the fit girl, a life worth dreaming about is one where she doesn’t have to fill the empty places in her life with things outside of God when pressures get to her.

Remember how I said I would continue to learn this lesson? Well, when I was going through the process of losing weight, I faced different kinds of temptations to fill the void. My new alternatives to filling the void were worse than the food addiction.

For instance, as I got thinner, I was getting attention from men other than my husband. I hadn’t experienced that kind of attention in years, and to be honest, I liked it. In fact, I liked it so much that I realized that even though I was a happily married woman, I still sought after male attention to prove that I was attractive. I liked it when other men thought I was pretty, and so I didn’t discourage harmless flirtations. As you can imagine, my husband didn’t find this behavior an acceptable replacement for my food cravings.

Before I knew it, I found myself switching from one addiction to another. I stopped caring about welcoming glances from men and started drinking red wine. That occasional one glass of wine quickly turned into two or three glasses a few nights a week. Obviously the fat girl wasn’t just an outside issue but an issue of the heart. I had a heart problem, and I needed a healer.

So once again I turned to the Lord and asked Him to heal me and be my guide. I asked Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit and show me how to change my heart. I asked Him to reveal to me the keys to change my reactions to life and its challenges and pressures. It was then that God, once again, asked me to have faith in Him and trust Him with my life. He didn’t want to be my acquaintance. He wanted to be my Lord. Thankfully, I said yes to that process. I haven’t looked back since.

What about you? Have you noticed that your struggles are similar to mine? Do you have a hole in your heart that you are trying to fill up with addictive behaviors like compulsive shopping, drinking too much, or smoking cigarettes? Have you lost weight and found yourself holding on to things that have replaced a food addiction? What’s your new drug of choice?

Often weight can be a security blanket to keep from having to deal with sensitive things going on in the heart, and uncovering those hurts can be a painful process. Know this: God loves you and wants you to be whole and fit. He wants to build a relationship with you so that you can allow Him to fill every part of your life. It’s not enough to occasionally chat with Him through a prayer. God wants to be your partner and your friend. He wants to transform you from the inside out! He wants you to be a fit girl.

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Transformation Tips

I want you to do something for me. Find a really quiet place and go there by yourself.     I know this might be hard if you have little kids or a busy schedule, but carve out some time to sit in the quiet and set your daily routine aside for a while.     This is important. (By the way, finding a few minutes alone to meditate and pray is a great thing to do at the end of each of these lessons.)

During this quiet time, pray and ask God to reveal some things that may be holding you back from being the fit girl He made you to be. He may bring things to your mind that you haven’t thought about in years. You may have buried feelings, situations, or experiences you didn’t want to deal with back then — things God wants you to uncover today.     God can show you these things through dreams or even nightmares. Identify whatever comes to your mind and write them down in a journal.

Here is a list of questions that will help you with this process and show you some things that may be keeping the fit girl at bay.     Take some time to meditate on these questions and pray about your answers.     Ask God to speak into your heart.

What are my earliest childhood memories? Are they happy ones? Sad ones?
How have these memories shaped my life?
Are there people from my past who I need to forgive or ask to forgive me?
What role does God have in my life? Can I draw closer to Him?
In my relationships with others, does the way I act cause hurt feelings? Concerning myself, does my behavior cause harm or is it self-destructive?
These might be hard questions for you to think about, but it’s what you have to do if you want to transform yourself into a fit girl.     Finally, I want you to pray about each revelation and ask God to show you how to make changes in the areas that need some work.     Trust that He will give you the strategies to heal the places that need healing.

Commit to having a closer relationship with God and listening more closely when He speaks to your heart. He may ask you to call someone and ask them to forgive you for being angry with them. He may tell you that you are going to have to end relationships in your life that are unhealthy.     Whatever it is you feel He is leading you to do, do it.     This is the beginning of the healing journey and finding the fit girl in you!

Your Prayer

Father, please help me realize that only You can fulfill me, and that I need only You to fill the empty spaces inside me. Help me turn away from the temptation to fill my empty spaces with anything else. I pray that You would give me the strength to continually make the choice to relinquish control of my life to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash Review and Giveaway

Babies are adorable, but they do get dirty. From the moment they are born they need a safe, effective soap that will be gentle on baby's sensitive skin. Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash is a great smelling shampoo and body wash for babies that is just that.

It is organic and USDA Certified. Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash is a safe, oil based soap - not a harsh detergent. It has soothing organic calendula, organic vanilla and organic sweet orange essential oils for the natural scent. It has zero: toxins, artificial or synthetic fragrance, foaming agents, sulfates, preservatives, petrochemical, surfactants, and dyes. It's perfectly safe as a baby shampoo, body wash, or hand soap for the entire family.

Of Note: This is not a "no-tear" formula, so please use extra care around your angel baby's eyes! The ingenious self-foaming bottle makes sure the pure castile soap stays just where you want it. If you purchase a refill size, please make sure to use one of the self-foaming bottles to properly dispense and foam your Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash.

I love this product because you can use it as a hand soap as well and the smell is divine!! It makes everyone that uses it smell really good and have soft skin. It foams up wonderfully and you only need a little bit to wash an entire baby with :) My 4 month old Zari loves it and so do the other members of my family!

You can even Make Homemade Baby Wipes with the Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash!

Saponified Cocos nucifera (organic coconut) oil, Saponified Olea europaea (organic olive) oil, Aloe barbadensis (organic aloe) leaf juice, Vanilla planifolia (organic vanilla) bean extract, Citrus sinensis (organic orange) oil, Kosher vegetable glycerin, Potassium citrate, Butyrospermun parkii (organic shea) butter, Calendula officinalis (organic calendula) extract

You can also send ecards for free from Earth Mama Angel Baby :)

The Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash 50 ml (1.67 oz) is $5.95, Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash 160 ml (5.3 oz) is $10.95 and Angel Baby Shampoo refill (34 oz.) is $49.95. Earth Mama Angel Baby also has other wonderful all natural and organic products for mom and baby that you can also purchase!

Earth Mama Angel Baby has generously offered another Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash.

1. Go to the Earth Mama Angel Baby website and tell me by commenting on this post what else you would love and why.

Additional entries:
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11. Tweet this: @finamoon: @earthmamahq #WIN Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash #giveaway (Daily Extras are Available)

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Make sure you leave me your email in all posts so that I can contact you. If you subscribed, blogged about this, listed it, commented on another post, or faved me on Momfaves leave 2 entries saying you did. This contest ends on Friday March 18, 2011 at midnight (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada). This Giveaway is open to all 18 years and over in the U.S. & Canada Only!!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Earth Mama Angel Baby for providing me with the Earth Mama Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash to test and review and another to giveaway for free. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

10 Lies Men Believe by J. Lee Grady FIRST Wild Card Tour Book Review

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:

and the book:

10 Lies Men Believe

Charisma House (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


J. Lee Grady is contributing editor for Charisma. He was the magazine's editor for 11 years. He has been involved in Christian journalism since 1981. A native of Atlanta, he has been with Charisma since 1992, serving as news editor, managing editor, and then becoming editor in 1999. Lee's book 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, published in 2000, opened a unique door for him to preach internationally. He has since traveled to 12 nations, challenging the church to release women in ministry and to end abuse and gender discrimination. He and his wife, Deborah, have four daughters.


10 Lies Men Believe is a compassionate but confrontational look at the reasons why so many Christian men today are in serious crisis. The author, who has spent eight years confronting the abuse of women in more than twenty countries, believes men are failing in marriage, fatherhood, friendships, and careers because of ten wrong mind-sets inherited from culture. With gut-level honesty, the author offers practical answers for men who struggle with a variety of issues, including addiction, abusive tendencies, pornography, controlling behavior, and emotional problems rooted in a lack of proper fathering. The book is also an excellent resource for women who are suffering because of mistreatment by the men in their lives.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161638137X
ISBN-13: 978-1616381370



Foreword by Napoleon Kaufman


Introduction: Have You Been Brainwashed?


Lie #1: God made men superior to women.


Lie #2: A man cannot be close to his father.


Lie #3: A real man is defined by material success.


Lie #4: A man is the ultimate “boss” of his family.


Lie #5: Sex is primarily for the man’s enjoyment, not the woman’s.


Lie #6: It’s OK for a man to hit or abuse a woman.


Lie #7: Real men don’t need close male friendships.



Lie #8: A man should never admit his weaknesses.


Lie #9: Real men don’t cry.


Lie #10: A man should never receive spiritual ministry from a woman.


Conclusion: The Journey From Wimp to Warrior


Appendix: Every Man’s Secret to Spiritual Power



201 The relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.1

—Aristotle, in Politica

One hundred women are not worth a single testicle.2


It is only males who are created directly by the gods and are given souls. Those who live rightly return to the stars, but those who are “cowards” or [lead unrighteous lives] may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation.3

—Plato, in timaeus

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made
some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their
property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the
unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part
you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in
the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not
seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.4

—The Quran, 4:34

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a woman.5

—Ancient prayer of Jewish rabbis

The souls of women are so small, that some believe they’ve none at all.6

—Samuel Butler, English poet


Lie #1

God Made Man Superior to Women.

Millions of women around the world are subjected to the horror of male domination. They are gang-raped in Latin America, their genitals are mutilated in parts of Africa, they are forced to wear burkas in Afghanistan, they are sold as sex slaves in Thailand, and they are denied education in India. Yet most of us westerners are oblivious to this cruel injustice. It’s out of sight, out of mind.

But in 2009 a movie that exposed the cruel abuse of women in Iran hit theaters just a few weeks after Iran’s authoritarian government came under international scrutiny. The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on a book written by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam.7 It tells the true story of a woman named Zahra, who is distraught because the men of her village—she defiantly calls them “devils”—have killed her niece, Soraya.8

Through flashbacks we learn that Soraya’s immoral husband decided to put her away so he could marry a fourteen-year-old girl. When Soraya dares to defy her husband’s scheme, he trumps up false adultery charges against her with the help of the local Islamic mullah. Zahra tries to stop the madness, but in the end the villagers commit


the Islamic version of a lynching. Along the way we learn how militant the antiwoman attitudes are in this part of the world.

“Women now have no voices,” Zahra says at one point. We see how Iran’s women, under the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini, were forced to live in prisons of silence and were valued only as sex objects and domestic servants.

The worst part of the movie’s twenty-minute stoning sequence is the way young men in the village click their rocks together while they wait for the signal to kill.

Why does this kind of madness still happen in the twenty-first century? I have seen it up close since I began confronting the abuse of women in 2001. I’ve traveled to more than twenty-four countries to conduct conferences and seminars, and I have interviewed many “Zahras” from every continent. I now carry a heavy burden for these women, and for the men who abuse them. Here are just a few of the statistics we know about this ignored issue.

Around the world, at least one in three women will be
beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused during her

In Latin America, the culture of machismo, or institutionalized male pride, has resulted in a dangerously low
view of women. A report released in 2009 by the United
Nations says up to 40 percent of women throughout Latin
America have been victims of physical violence.10

Forced prostitution, trafficking for sex, and sex tourism
are growing problems in many parts of the world. Each
year, an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across
borders. Eighty percent of these are women and girls,
according to the United Nations Population Fund
(UNPF). Most of them end up trapped in the commercial
sex trade. (This figure does not include the substantial

number of women and girls who are bought and sold within their own countries.)11

According to the UNPF, the greatest number of victims is believed to come from Asia (about 250,000 per year), the former Soviet Union (about 100,000), and from Central and Eastern Europe (about 175,000).12 An estimated 100,000 trafficked women have come from Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 50,000 from Africa.13

In Asia, at least sixty million girls are “missing” due to prenatal sex selection, infanticide, or neglect.14 In China, where young couples are only allowed to have one child, orphanages are overrun with infant girls, because boys are preferred. Baby girls are often thrown into rivers, left on doorsteps, or abandoned in forests.

Female genital mutilation affects an estimated 130 million women and girls, mostly in Africa. Each year, two million more undergo the barbaric practice.15 In most cases, a girl is forced around age twelve to undergo the cutting away of her clitoris so that she cannot feel sexual pleasure. Often this causes serious urinary problems as well as infections.

Violence against women also takes the form of other harmful practices, such as child marriage and dowry-related violence (especially in India), acid burning (in some Muslim nations), and abandonment of widows.16

In many Islamic countries, women die from what is known as “honor killings.” If a woman dares to disagree with her husband or even shows a hint of disrespect, her husband and other male relatives (and sometimes her mother) will drag her into the street, bury her up to her waist in dirt, and then stone her in broad daylight.

Although this practice is illegal, it is estimated that there

are five thousand such killings every year.17

Guatemala has the highest rate of unsolved murders
of women in the world. A report released in 2005 by
Amnesty International showed that murders of women
climbed to 560 in that year, yet not one murderer was
convicted. In many cases, the women victims are tortured
or their bodies are mutilated. Often their bodies are
dumped in the streets.18

In South Africa, older men who have contracted the AIDS virus believe that if they have sex with a young virgin they will be cured of the disease.19 So they actually search for young girls to serve as their “wives,” and they buy them from their poor parents. Needless to say, many of these innocent girls do not survive.

It’s easy to read statistics like this and just push them aside. After all, we don’t know these people, and we feel powerless to help them. But after I began traveling and speaking on this issue I began to match actual names and faces with these abstract numbers. Suddenly I began to feel the personal pain of the women and girls involved. Because I am a husband and the father of four daughters, I began to see these abused women in a different light. I identified with them. And my heart broke.

In Kochi, India, a desperate woman came to a house where I was having lunch. She was afraid to talk to me, so she spoke with the pastor’s wife, who was hosting our meal. This woman’s husband had just dragged her to a river and dunked her under the water repeatedly. He threatened to drown her until she promised to go to her parents and request more dowry money. She was risking her life to talk about the abuse because most women in India suffer silently. They consider it disrespectful to discuss family problems openly.

In Kampala, Uganda, a nineteen-year-old college student asked if she could meet with me in the church along with her pastor. Because I openly talked about sex abuse in a sermon, she mustered the courage to share her shameful secret: two male cousins had violated her when she was only thirteen. They took her to the countryside and told her they were going to ride horses, but when they arrived at their destination, both boys raped her repeatedly. When she threatened to tell their parents, one boy retorted, “They will never believe you. Girls are always the guilty ones.”

In Port Harcourt, Nigeria, I met a twenty-four-year-old woman who came to me in tears. Her Christian father and mother had a happy family of four daughters. Yet her father decided to divorce his wife after all the girls were grown. The reason? Because this woman had not given him a son. “Nigerian men think it is the wife’s duty to give them a boy,” the distraught daughter explained. “They don’t even realize it is the sperm of the man that determines the gender of the child.”

In Nairobi, Kenya, a tired-looking woman asked me for prayer at the altar of a church. She had not been sleeping much. She said her husband regularly visited prostitutes, but sometimes he also demanded sex from her even though she was afraid he would infect her with the AIDS virus. Often he forced himself on her anyway; if she locked the bedroom door, he kicked it open.

In Kiev, Ukraine—a city known for its mafia-run prostitution rings—I spoke to a conference of three thousand women about the healing Jesus Christ offers to victims of sex abuse. When I opened the altars for women to receive prayer, almost every woman in the auditorium tried to crowd to the front. A Ukrainian woman later told me, “Most women here have been abused like that.”

In La Paz, Bolivia, I spent many days ministering to the poor, indigenous people of that nation. I saw countless women on the streets of the city selling candy, cigarettes, stationery, and soft drinks from small wooden stands while their young children crawled on the dirty sidewalks or sat on mats behind their crude kiosks. The women’s husbands were nowhere to be found. I later learned that many Bolivian men force their wives to work in the streets while they stay home all day to drink alcohol. These women have a popular saying that everyone in Bolivia knows by heart: “Cuanto m‡s me pega, m‡s me ama.” This means, “The more [my husband] beats me, the more he loves me.”

And in Monterrey, Mexico, an articulate woman pastor pulled me aside after I had spoken about domestic violence at a conference. She wanted to tell me the unthinkable. “Every month I go to the hospital to visit a pastor’s wife,” she whispered, as if she was afraid someone might overhear. “Pastors are beating their wives. The problem is not just in the secular culture. It is also in the church!”

After hearing these kinds of stories from women all over the world, I decided I could not sit on my hands or close my ears. I went on the warpath against the oppression of women. I began to write about it, preach about it, and mobilize churches to confront it. I sponsored women’s conferences, men’s conferences, and pastor’s conferences so I could hit the issue from all sides.

I also realized that this violence won’t stop until men forcefully oppose it. I now believe that this is one mark of a true man: he stands up against all forms of social oppression—including this horrible sin of abuse and gender discrimination. Real men don’t put down women. Real men fight for them. Our mothers, sisters, and daughters need us to speak out. They have suffered long enough.

let’s talk about it

1. Were you already aware of this problem of violence against women? How did you learn about it?

2. How do these statistics about gender-based violence make you feel?

3. Is there something you can do to address this problem in your own church, community, or elsewhere?

a BiBlical View oF GendeR

One of the main reasons there is such pervasive violence against women is that men believe they are superior. We have several terms for this attitude. Some call it chauvinism, a word derived from the name of a French soldier, Nicolas Chauvin, who was fanatically loyal to Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon himself was the ultimate chauvinist. He once said, “Nature intended women to be our slaves. They are our property.”

In Latin America, this attitude is called machismo, and it is promoted not only by authoritarian men but also by women who teach their sons that they are superior to women. Chauvinism is also known as a patriarchal mind-set—and it includes the idea that only men can lead and that women were created only to have babies and serve men.

Ultimately, male pride has its roots in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the world came under the curse of sin. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect, intimate partnership without any shame or dysfunction in their relationship. After the Fall, the man began to dominate the woman, and her life became more painful. Adam blamed his wife for being deceived, even though he willingly chose to rebel against God. The Lord said this to the woman in Genesis 3:16:

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain

in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your

desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

You don’t have to look far to see Genesis 3:16 at work in the world. In every culture on Earth, especially those where the gospel of Jesus Christ has never been preached, women suffer under the domination of men.

If you examine the world’s religions, you will find that all of them except Christianity denigrate women and place them at severe disadvantage. In Islamic cultures, especially where Sharia law is enforced, women have no civil rights and are not even allowed to drive cars. In Hindu cultures, women suffer unimaginable discrimination; for centuries, in fact, a Hindu wife whose husband died was expected to commit suicide by jumping into his funeral pyre. In Mormonism, women whose “celestial marriages” are sealed in temple ceremonies are told that the only way they can attain eternal salvation is if they have babies.

Christianity offers a unique and revolutionary message of empowerment to women, and the Bible calls men to treat women as equals. Jesus Christ, who showed amazing compassion to women during His earthly ministry and who called women to be His followers, canceled the painful reality of Genesis 3:16. I like to preach that Genesis 3:16 was canceled by John 3:16! When Christ came into the world as the Father’s only begotten Son to save us, He made a way for men to be delivered from their pride and for women to be healed from violence and abuse.

Of course, Christian leaders themselves have not always walked in total deliverance from male pride. The church has not always reflected the heart of Christ. Some leaders, even today, impose their own gender biases and errant interpretations of Scripture—and this has led to much pain in the lives of Christian women around the world. That’s why it is so important for us to go back to Scripture and recover what the Bible actually says on this issue, rather than parroting religious traditions that were passed down to us.

Here are seven important truths about gender that have been clearly articulated in Scripture. You must allow the Word of God to renew your mind. These principles will help liberate you from the heavy yoke of male pride.

1. Men and women were created by God with equal value.

The first account of Creation in Genesis 1 says God created both the male and the female in the divine image. Genesis 1:26–27 says:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

In ancient Greece, philosophers such as Aristotle and others believed the male was created from the divine matter of the gods, while the female was created from inferior animal matter. The Judeo-Christian view of gender is in stark contrast to the pagan Greek mind-set. In the very first chapter in the Bible we see that men and women are created as equals.

The word picture that is painted in this passage is of two equal partners standing side by side. Then, in the Genesis 2 description of Eve’s creation, we are told that she was taken from Adam’s side. It is worth noting that God did not take the woman from his head (so that she would rule over him) or from his feet (so that he would rule over her). God’s intention for marriage was always for intimacy, affection, and partnership.

2. In their original perfection, the man and woman were both given authority.

Even some Christians believe that women can never have spiritual authority. Yet throughout Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments, we see that God anointed certain women with leadership gifts. Genesis 1:28 says:

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The word subdue in this passage is the Hebrew word kabash, which means “to subdue, dominate, tread down.” Women are called to do this also! This was always God’s plan: that men and women would rule together to advance His kingdom.

Of course, Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden created a huge setback. But when Christ came and paid the full price for our sins, He made full restoration possible. Now, because of His redemption, men and women can walk in divine authority once more.

3. God never intended for women to be viewed as appendages or as servants to men.

The woman is referred to in Genesis 2:18 as the man’s “helper” (or “help meet” in the King James Version). What does that word mean? If we have chauvinism in our hearts, we might be tempted to believe that God gave the woman to Adam simply so she could pick up his socks, fix his dinner, and meet his sexual needs whenever he pleased.

But actually the word helper does not imply subservience or inferiority. If anything, the passage shows that the man was totally incomplete without the woman—and that he could not fulfill his divine mission without her. The passage says:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be

alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

This word helper comes from the Hebrew word ezer, a term that actually refers to God more than fifteen times in the Old Testament! Of course we know that God is our helper, but we would never think of Him as inferior to us. Neither should we think of women as inferior or second-class just because Eve was created after Adam. (After all, Adam was created after God made all the animals, but we don’t consider man inferior to animals!)

4. God does not value boys over girls, so neither should we.

In many cultures in the world girls are at a huge disadvantage. In India, for example, many families choose abortion if an ultrasound shows the unborn baby is female. In many cultures males are considered more valuable because they will grow up and be more financially productive. But this is not how God views girls.

In the Book of Numbers, we read about five women who were the daughters of a man named Zelophehad. This man had died with no male heirs, and the traditions of Israel said that a man with only daughters would leave no land rights to his family. However, when these women came to Moses to protest, Moses asked God what to do. Numbers 27:6–7 says:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in their statements. You shall surely give them a hereditary possession among their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer the inheritance of their father to them.”

That one moment changed the course of life among the children of Israel. God contradicted the patriarchal traditions of the day and ruled in favor of the daughters of Zelophehad. He made it clear that women do indeed have equal value in His eyes.

5. Jesus Christ modeled a completely different approach to women than that of the religious leaders of His time.

When He began His ministry, Jesus challenged the religious and cultural rules of a male-dominated culture. While other rabbis believed it was improper to teach women the Bible, Jesus called his disciple Mary to sit at His feet. While other religious leaders refused to go near bleeding women, Jesus healed one. While the Pharisees shunned Samaritans and divorced women, Jesus had compassion on the Samaritan divorcée and commissioned her to be an evangelist.

Jesus’s approach to ministry was radical for His time. If a Jewish leader saw a woman coming down the street, he would typically get on the other side of the street to avoid her. Yet Jesus went out of His way to befriend women, even those who were the outcasts of society. He also allowed a group of women to travel with His entourage (Luke 8:1–3), and those same women became the first witnesses of His resurrection—in a time when women were not even allowed to testify in a court of law

6. The New Testament calls men to treat women as equals.

In the first century, marriage was a painful prison for most women. Husbands viewed their wives as property. Women had no right to seek a divorce, and there was no protection from violence. Yet to this male-dominated culture the apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Ephesians, which contains the most revolutionary description of marriage ever penned. Paul explains that marriage is not a hierarchy but a partnership that celebrates equality, tender intimacy, and unity of heart. He gave husbands these instructions in Ephesians 5:25 and 28:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her....So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.

Paul also challenged the Corinthian church with another radical idea about marriage. He told them that men and women have equal authority over each other’s bodies when it comes to sex. This concept cut deep at the heart of a patriarchal culture, because men believed they had the right to demand sex from their wives whenever they wanted. Paul said:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

—1 Corinthians 7:3–4

This passage offers the essence of New Testament teaching on marriage. Clearly, if God desires an attitude of mutual submission and equality in the sexual area, which lies at the very core of a man and woman’s relationship, then He also desires that husbands and wives treat each other with the same attitude in every other area of life.

7. The Holy Spirit empowers both men and women for ministry.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church on the Day of Pentecost, both the male and female followers of Christ were together in the Upper Room. The Bible says a flame of God’s fire rested on each person. It does not say that the men had blue flames, while the women had pink flames. The same holy power came upon men and women alike.

After that dramatic encounter, both men and women began to preach the gospel with power. Philip the evangelist had four daughters who were prophets (Acts 21:9). A married couple, Priscilla and Aquila, traveled with Paul and taught the Word of God (Acts 18:24– 26). Paul commended a woman minister named Phoebe because she was a powerful deacon of the church (Rom. 16:1–2).

Throughout Paul’s writings he makes it clear that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not given to people based on gender, race, or financial status. God anoints whomever He wills. Nowhere in Scripture are spiritual gifts linked to gender. In fact, Paul told the Galatians:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free

man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in

Christ Jesus.

—Galatians 3:28

Under the old covenant, only Jewish males from the tribe of Levi who were between the ages of twenty-five and fifty could serve as priests in the tabernacle. But all that changed after Jesus came. Because of His death on the cross and because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, all restrictions related to age, class, race, and gender were removed. Today, Christ has a new “holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9) that is made up of both men and women from every language, tribe, and nation.

let’s talk about it

1. How do you explain why there is so much violence and abuse toward women in the world? Is there a spiritual root to this issue?

2. What did God mean when He called Eve a “helper”? Have you ever treated your wife or women in general, as inferior?

3. What do you think it means to love your wife “as Christ loves the church”?

4. Secular feminists sometimes angrily demand women’s rights and use crude language to describe men. How does this form of angry feminism differ from a biblical view of gender equality?

5. The apostle Paul had many women on his ministry team, such as Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia, and Syntyche. Yet he seemed to limit women at times, such as when he told them to be quiet in church (1 Cor. 14:34–35). How do you explain that?

let’s Pray about it

Father, I don’t want any chauvinism or male pride in my heart. Please break my hard heart. Forgive me for any time I have mistreated my wife or other women. I want to have the heart of Christ, who showed respect, dignity, and compassion for women and recognized their equality. In Jesus’s name, amen.