December’s Winner!

Every month, I give away beauty treats, new products, books and more! December’s winner is Sarah from Dakota.

Sarah wins a set of luxury hand-made soaps from Auromere. The fragrances include Himalayan Rose, made from Damascus and Indian roses, and Lavender-Neem. Both use coconut oil as a base, with no chemicals, dyes or harsh ingredients. Perfect for winter-chapped skin that needs a little TLC!

If you sign up for our quarterly newsletter, you’ll be automatically registered to win every month. There’s nothing else you need to do.

Plus, soon I’ll be sending out sneak previews for my new series of novels about the most powerful women in history, and the legends of the angels who protected them. The first novel, IN THE SHADOW OF LIONS, is in final edits right now and special advance reader copies will start shipping in July.

The Art of Receiving

I have an Advent calendar hanging by my front door. Every morning one of my kids gets to open a new pocket and receive a little Christmas treat. It’ never much (to me) but they dance around in delight with the simplest of treasures. Just getting the gift makes them deliriously happy.

I’m learning from them.

Jesus wants us to receive the gifts of God like a little child. But I’ve been too busy, and too suspicious, to receive well on most days. How often has my husband told me he thinks I’m lovely–and I just push him away? How often have I walked past a beautiful garden in bloom, too busy to stop and admire? Everywhere, I see and hear evidence of God’s love for me, and I don’t receive it.

So this Christmas season, just before I go to sleep at night, I’m making a mental list of everything I received during the day. I dwell on the Christmas lights I saw, how good my mom’s soup was, and how adorable my daughter was when she attempted to style our sheepdog’s hair. (Apparently sheepdogs look best with butterfly barrettes and glitter spray.) As I focus on receiving the good things in my life, I find my breathing slows, my tension dissolves, and my heart beats with contentment.

Life isn’t always good, but God is. Learning to slow down and fully receive His gifts has made this holiday season exquisitely beautiful, and my problems seem, indeed, far away.

Wishing you a beautiful Christmas!

Top Picks for 2007: Best Nonfiction

Every once in a long while, a book comes along that challenges you to become everything you were created to be.  My pick for the best nonfiction of 2007:

Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home, by Jonalyn Grace Fincher

We’re all caught up in the gender wars: what should a woman be, do and say? What is femininity: a liability, or a deeply intuitive expression of the Divine?  Ruby Slippers is beautiful, persuasive, and rich, a feast for any woman who longs to be her truest self.  

I recently caught up with the author, Jonalyn Grace Fincher, and asked her a few questions: In Ruby Slippers, you encourage women to re-examine their definition of femininity. After spending years in research and study (and life!) how do you define it now?  

I used to define it by all the outer trappings, the heels, the styled hair, the hourglass figure.  But when I realized that anyone, even a man can copy this “feminine” look (that’s what drag is all about), I thought, wait a sec, this sort of femininity is really superficial.  Sometimes all the outer fashionable “feminine” things give us a clue about an inner trait we really want to have.   I think being a woman goes much deeper than a look or even a role. Femininity is about the way I am, my beliefs, thoughts, feelings, choices.    If I had to sum up femininity in one word, I’d have to say vulnerable.  I know it’s not exactly a comfy, feel-good word.  But vulnerability is something most women have experienced, both in good and bad ways. Vulnerability is a key ingredient for any kind of intimacy.  Friendship is good when we are vulnerable.  Sex is good when we are vulnerable.  How do we interact with that word? Do we fear it? Do we seek to understand it?  The different ways we wrestle with our vulnerability are apparent all day long, from our clothing, to the way we move, the way we laugh and date and make love and marry. The most feminine women I know are not the ones with French manicures and heels; they are those women who have learned to own their vulnerability.   

As we struggle to reconnect to our femininity, why does this lead us to reconnect with God? If God is always spoken of in the masculine, what can He teach us about the feminine?It’s easy to think of God as male.  In the Bible, there are these places where God seems so uber-masculine. He did, after all, come to earth as the man Jesus.  Because of all this, I had this deep down belief that God perhaps prefers men to women.   I couldn’t have been more wrong. I mean from the first chapter of the first book of the Bible God announced that he would make men and women in his image.  So from the get-go we have a God who used woman (and man) to show the world more about God.  From there we see God use specifically womanly pictures to explain his love. “I’m like a woman nursing you,” he says in Isaiah 49. “I’m like a mother who’s weaned you, but still holding you near” (Ps 131). And my personal favorite is when Jesus explains the new life with a female metaphor. “You must be born again” (John 3).  The “born again” phrase has been so overworked that we forget the source of it. Any birthing process involves not just the baby, but also the messy, straining, grunting, crying work of labor done by a woman.  If we’re born again, who’s doing the birthin?  That’s the picture God chose, an intimate, physically engaged, vulnerable, female experience.  

Ruby Slippers broke open places in my heart I haven’t expressed before. How did writing this book change you, as the author?Writing Ruby Slippers was a huge way God helped me come home to my femininity.   Writing is a curious thing, it calls you to the carpet, to get honest about your real motivations and fears. For instance, I was horrified to find that I was actually prejudiced against most women that I compared and competed for men’s attention more than women’s. I was eager to take someone else’s definition of femininity and slap it onto my own life than I was willing to work out what God thought about me and my femininity.  Writing helped me own these inconsistencies and publicly confess them.  There’s something about confession that breaks old patterns.  God gave me a fresh start to own my femininity, like Dorothy owned her ruby slippers.  I realized that I needed to create new templates of womanhood with him. These freed me to move into a new state, write more widely, speak more frequently with less fear and more boldness.  The best part of writing was the unexpected pleasure of finding so many healthy, unique things in women.  I was thrilled to find that these were also characteristics of God. When I realized that, I was like, WOW!  I couldn’t have foreseen that at the beginning of the project. 

As women embrace femininity, with all the mysterious strength and beauty it brings, we begin to be more aware of our sisters and their needs. What can we do to encourage another woman in her journey to wholeness?(Laughing) Well, that’s what my next book is about.  I’d recommend walking in our sister’s shoes for awhile. Learn to ask questions about her experience of femininity. Usually women are not wholly pleased with their womanhood. If you ask them, “Why are you glad you’re a woman?” you’ll be able to hear their ambivalence and often anger.  Stuff might bubble out, like, “Why am I GLAD??!” We need to give our sisters freedom to name the harmful, unnatural corsets they’ve been wearing, to realize that femininity is often more of a curse than a blessing in their lives.  We need to free them to embrace their own God-given, unique femininity. It might not look like our own, but if we are full of freedom and grace, they will feel released to revisit femininity. Encourage them to level their complaints with God, to ask him what He thinks.     

Catch me on Sirius 161!

On August 8th, you can catch me, together with hosts Randy Singer and Lorri Allen, on Sirius Satellite Channel 161 at 6am–6:27am CDT. The program is Mornings with Lorri  & Friends. We’ll be talking about the timely subject of women and political power, plus a few examples from biblical history that are still making tongues wag.  Randy, as you might know, is king of the courtroom drama, and author of the new novel False Witness. He was our guest on the TV show DeeperLiving recently–you have to catch the interview of you want to hear a terrifically funny author faux-pas. (Check it out on deeperliving.com)

GAYA Nomination

I’ve been nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award from the Georgia Writers Assocation. You can see the full list of nominees at: http://georgiawriters.org/43rdnominees.htm

I’ve benefited from the Georgia Writers Associations in many ways: they helped me land a gig writing for tea boxes (true! Look for me on Celestial Seasonings “Persian Mint Spice Decaf”) and introduced me to freelance editor Anne Fisher, who broke me of my love of commas. (Almost.) Everyone in the organization is passionate about writing and it was a great place for me to get started.

April marks the beginning of Awards Season for writers. No one is offering to let me wear their dresses, or stroll around in their jewels, or even do my hair, which is quite disappointing. Realisitically, writing nominees should get fresh pajamas, a complimentary bottle of eyeglass cleaner, and a package of Extra Strength Tylenol. (Actually, that’s for our spouses.) I have no expectation of winning, but I’ll let you in on a secret: taking a shower, dressing up, and attending a dinner where the food is hot and you use a knife AND fork, all while spying on your favorite authors in the room: that’s the real prize.
Continue reading GAYA Nomination

The History of the Refrigerator

I was a tennis widow once again. With the kids sleeping and the hour indecent to call my girlfriends, I watched a fascinating show on the history of the refrigerator. (I made some herb tea and caught the double feature: The History of the Vacuum.)

When the modern refrigerator was invented, every woman wanted one. That was good for business. Nearly every woman bought one. That was bad for business.

Once a household had a refrigerator, they did not need another one. Refrigerators last a long time; the market quickly reached saturation and the manufacturers were faced with bankruptcy. Until one man had an epiphany: change the colors.

Make the having the right color of refrigerator as important as owning one. Manufacturers began creating seasonal colors. If you had an avocado-colored refrigerator when burnt umber was the style, you no longer had a useful appliance. You had a social disaster. Once refrigerators became a fashion item, the buying market surged. Manufacturers have had steady business since. Marketing breeds discontent, discontent leads to purchases to recapture contentment, which marketing will upturn again to return you to the store.

It’s important that I share this. My refrigerator is white. Let the reader understand.

New Fiction Deal Announced!

Hi all!

I’ve been remiss in updating my blog recently, only because I’ve been immersed in the business side of writing, which tends to get me a little “confusedable” as my kids would say. Recently, I was so distracted during a discussion with my agent that I accidently took the dog’s vitamins instead of my own. Sigh. At least my coat is shiny now.

Now for my big announcement:

I am thrilled to tell you that I signed on with Cook Communications to create a new series of novels called The Scribe. The first is due to the publisher at the end of this year. I’ll keep you posted on release dates as I get them. This series is so exciting to me—I’ve rewritten this post a hundred times because I don’t want to say too much—but I want you to know how cool I think it is!

Also, Beauty Secrets of the Bible is going into its final galley stages, meaning I get one last look at them before the book is printed. I get so many requests for this book already—make sure you sign my guest list on my home page so I can send you advance notice before it hits the shelves. We’re going to have a lot of fun with this one.

Finally, thank you all for your encouraging notes and kind words. Every person needs them and this author surely appreciates them—and you. Thanks for sticking with me!