Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife -- Book Review

Ruth A. Tucker’s Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse is her story of being stuck in a marital cycle of domestic violence and how she finally escaped.  She provides hope and encouragement to overcome abuse and its damaging effects.  This book is not normally one that would have interested me, but I enjoy spiritual memoirs by educated, intelligent women.  The timing of this book also peaked my interest due to the promotion of increased awareness of domestic abuse in media and culture, as well as the effects of physical and emotional abuse in lives of some dear friends of mine, whose marriages happen to be based on male headship.

Ruth Tucker has been a professor who taught missions and church history at evangelical seminaries and spent many years of marriage to a pastor who blamed her lack of submission for his hateful ways.  While she tells her story, she also includes stories of other women’s experiences.  She integrates theological and biblical discussion and explains how both the church and our culture have allowed the perversions of patriarchy and abuse of power.  Furthermore, she also shares how she was able to rebuild her life and find joy in a new marriage based on mutuality and equality. 

It was difficult to read of an intelligent, educated woman being emotionally belittled and physically harmed, but her conversational style and broadening her story to incorporate other aspects of the topic eased the burden and inspired me.  I researched some of the stories of other women that she weaved within her own story, such as Matt Chandler and the Village Church’s initial shunning of missionary Karen Hinkley, quick to point the finger of blame at her when she sought an annulment after her husband confessed to addiction to child porn.  Not only within the church, in which many leaders are not properly equipped to counsel marriages with domestic abuse, but within culture, laws, and government, it is alarming to see the subtle ways that misogyny continues to exist.
I was not aware of the breadth and depth of domestic violence before reading Ruth Tucker’s memoir.  In light of my close friends who have suffered at the hands of emotional and physical abuse in their marriages based on male headship, this book opened my eyes to why they do not leave and increased my respect for my friends who finally decided to end it, especially when their churches were to not supportive of them leaving the marriage. 

I may have wanted a male-headship marriage and held complementarian views for many years until recently, but I am grateful that my husband resisted and insisted on our egalitarian marriage of mutual submission, love, and respect, now going on 24 happy years.

I highly recommend this book to all women, whether or not they can personally relate to her story because it increases understanding and awareness of domestic abuse.  Furthermore, I recommend this book to church leaders as well as men to increase their awareness of issues that women face and how they might better respond.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

Live Free - an Adult Coloring Book

After my daughter's accident, she went to counseling for post-traumatic stress.  The counselor told her that coloring would help soothe her, that the coloring of patterns was healing by re-mapping the brain.  True or not, I bought my own Mandala coloring book and I did indeed find it soothing and helped me organize my thoughts.  I started writing words and thoughts on the adjacent blank page as I colored so that I could see the path that it carried me.

Recently, I discovered Margaret Feinberg's adult coloring book titled "Live Free: Craft God's Word in Your Heart through Creative Expression".  The theme of this coloring book is based on who you are in Christ with opportunity to reflect on how you define yourself and how God truly defines you.  The truth of who we are in Christ can set us free from expectations and from always trying to measure up.  

Each page has a coloring page with flowery/nature designs and shapes with a verse from the Bible and an adjacent page with a title, the verse, and lines for journaling. The pages are thick and of good quality, so markers may not bleed throughWhile coloring, I could memorize the verse, meditate on it, pray, write down my reflections, and draw closer to God because coloring gave me focus.  

This book could be an excellent tool for devotional time or to carve out a quiet space in your day to slow down and de-stress.  

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing

Knowledge is power, or so I’ve been told.  Uncertainty, ambiguity, and indecisiveness are supposedly weaknesses.  But simple decisions have become complex.  They say 90% of the world’s data was created in the last five years.  If I want to buy a new coffee maker, I can spend endless hours researching and gathering information.  I’m overloaded with facts and opinions and bombarded with contradictory information, almost to the point of indecisiveness.

“In an increasingly complex, unpredictable world, what matters most isn’t IQ, willpower, or confidence in what we know.  It’s how we deal with what we don’t understand,” says
Jamie Holmes in his new book, Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing.  He challenged me to think about ambiguity, uncertainty, and contradictions in a good way, to even embrace them.  It doesn’t really help me on selecting a coffee pot, though.

Indecision is unpleasant, but sometimes we just need to dwell in it longer.  Opinions on both sides of a controversial issue become amplified as people flee the uncertain ground in between, jumping to conclusions in order to reduce ambiguity and find something more predictable.  What we really need is adaptability and calculated re-evaluation.  Contradiction can make us productive, solving mysteries makes us find pleasure in puzzles, and missing information can lead to creativity.  We learn to invent, look for answers in new ways, and we deepen our empathy and understanding. 

Holmes uses numerous psychological studies and historical anecdotes to make his point, such as the FBI’s failures in the branch Davidian disaster in Waco and the success of marketers in the Absolute Vodka advertising.  He explains how our mental machinery works and  the idea behind wise versus hasty decisions.

Again, I still don’t know how to select a new coffee maker, so I guess I’ll just dwell in the uncertainty and ambiguity of not knowing and maybe invent my own.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crown Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

#Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World - Book Review

Is there such a thing as communication overload?  I love all the ways I can keep in touch with more people in my life, from a niece that lives 2,000 miles away to old friends from grade school.  I can see what is happening in their lives through social media and feel like we are all walking through life together.  Or so it seems. 

Instead, I find myself feeling guilty of my failure to maintain relationships.  There are too many people to text or message or ‘like’ on social media.  I should be texting my niece more.  I should be checking social media more to see what is going on in people’s lives to see if there is something to acknowledge or something major happening in their lives.  I should be calling my parents more. I should call PEOPLE more.  I should be updating my in-laws more on my husband’s battle with cancer.   I can’t keep up.  My relationships are broader, including so many more people than ever before possible, but they are definitely shallower.

Craig Groeschel addresses these types of technology struggles in his book #Struggles:  Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World.  We want to believe we are not the sum of our likes our last post received, but it still feels like those little clicks matter.  And why do we try to impress each other and put on our best front?  We generally connect with people best through our weaknesses, not by impressing them with our strengths. 

Groeschel is in his mid-forties (as myself), so he remembers how communication “use to be” and can compare to now.  He sees the positives of social media, but also points out the narcissism it can create, the decline in our ability to be empathetic to others, and the opportunity to state your thoughts and opinions and move on without caring or knowing about the destruction you create.  He discusses the struggle with counting “likes”, the struggle with being authentic, the struggle with comparing ourselves to others, the struggle of being constantly distracted.  He provides perspective and answers too – ways we can recover contentment, intimacy, authenticity, compassion, integrity, and rest. 

We can learn how to keep technology in its place, to enjoy its benefits and aware of its obstacles.  I found this book enlightening and could connect with many of the struggles.  Awareness of the problems with social media is a huge first step in managing it.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who frequently uses social media and also wants to follow Jesus.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Delighting in God - Book Review

Several of A.W. Tozer’s books that are now considered Christian classics are stacked in my “to read next” pile of books.  A Christian pastor and theologian who lived in the first half of the 20th century, A.W. Tozer is well known for his books The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God.  The book Delighting in God is a newly published book based on the sermons he preached after he wrote Knowledge of the Holy.  Because this was a newly published book, it ended up at the top of my stack, above his other classics, which is a pity.

Sprinkled throughout this book, I found some great ideas and quotes that I want to remember about the importance of our perception of God, His character and nature, and how knowledge of things stirs us up with a passion to follow hard after Him.  Tozer discusses head knowledge versus heart knowledge.  He views salvation as something beyond the idea evangelical idea that one day I’m going to die and go to heaven.  However, Tozer complains a lot about the church, how they worship (he died in 1963), and how they fail to delight in God.  He is opinionated but acts as if his opinions are facts, and I wanted to argue with him.   

This book is more useful as a devotional style book with 18 short chapters that stand rather independently.  Furthermore, each chapter begins with a prayer and ends with a hymn, If you are a big fan of A.W. Tozer, you might like this book.  If you have never read A.W. Tozer, I would not recommend starting here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I'm Happy for You (Sort Of....Not Really) -- Book Review

We live in a culture obsessed with comparison.  As parents, we feel the pressure intensely with our children, or in our careers as we see others succeed, or in our homes when we alternate locations for small group gatherings.  We may not even be aware we are suffering from a disorder – Obsessive Comparison Disorder.

How do you know if you suffer from Obsessive Comparison Disorder? 

  • Do you feel delighted when you do something better than someone else?
  • Do you feel like you do not measure up when someone else does something better than you?
  • Do you look on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram and wish your life was more like that?
  • Do you feel better at someone else’s misfortune?
  • Do you feel burdened by something unfair or unequal?
  • Do you feel embarrassed about something you have that isn’t new or trendy?

 If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you will enjoy reading I’m Happy for You (Sort Of…Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma.  We are content when comparison is not involved, and we may be oblivious to what we lack, but once we start measuring against a new standard, we either enter the Land of Discontent or the Land of Superiority. 

Full of anecdotes and illustrations from her life as well as highlights sprinkled throughout the book of others' experiences, Wyma shows how big the problem of comparison is and reminds us that things are not always what they seem. She also gives solutions without sounding preachy, weaving them into her stories by showing what happens when we can accept life’s inequalities, when we can say “I am happy for you” and mean it without comparing, and when we can know each other for who we are and not what we do.  When we can think less about ourselves instead of less of ourselves, then we can begin to overcome the discontentment or superiority that comes from comparing.
I thought this book was delightful, entertaining, and humorous while also exposing the painful layers of my heart that are guilty of comparison in ways I had never considered.  I highly recommend this book to mothers and grandmothers.  To learn more about this book, check out the following:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.