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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Signing with Ree Drummond-The Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, did a book signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati on Friday, February 18. I was lucky enough to go to this and wanted to share with my readers. I attended the event with a good friend of mine and we had a blast. The signing started at 6:00 pm with Ree taking questions from the crowd. The book signing started about 6:30 pm and to tell you just how many were there to see her, we got our books signed at 10:30 that night. The store was almost ready to close as the final ones in line were able to get to her and talk for a brief moment while getting their books signed. However, we had a great time as we ate some delicious food in their cafe, shopped for books, and read while waiting for our spot in line. I must say that waiting that long to see Ree was completely worth it. She is beautiful and a fashion maven, as well as, funny and articulate as many see daily on her blog. Please check out her blog at www.thepioneerwoman.com


I wanted to share some pictures that were taken at the signing.

















Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: The Paris Wife

Title: The Paris Wife
Author: Paula McLain
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published Date: February 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-345-52130-9
Pages: 318

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

Synopsis:
In Chicago in 1920, Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness-until she meets Ernest Hemingway and finds herself captivated by his good looks, intensity, and passionate desire to write. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group of expatriates that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
But the hard-drinking and fast-living cafe life does not celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy. As Hadley struggles with jealousy and self-doubt and Ernest wrestles with his burgeoning writing career, they must confront a deception that could prove the undoing of one of the great romances in literary history.


About the Author:
Paula McLain received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been a resident of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She 9is the author of two collections of poetry, as well as a memoir, Like Family, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives in Cleveland with her family.


My review:
I could not wait to get a copy of this book to read. I am a fan of Hemingway and I love reading about the lives of actual people. The book takes you back to a time period that was rich with literary figures and their involvement with each other. McLain's writing pulls you into the story to where you felt like you were Hadley's best friend. As a woman reading the book, I could relate to her and the insecurities that she felt. Yet, it was very much a love story that urged you to want to fight for their relationship and make sure they made it. Although the book is a novel and mixes some fact with fiction, as I read, I wanted all of it to be true so that I could feel that I really did share part of the lives of the Hemingway's.
McLain's writing is fantastic and I couldn't pull myself away from the pages until I had read every one of them. I was immersed into a world I couldn't get enough of, in fact, I finished this book in a mere few hours. I urge everyone to get a copy of this book. For myself, I now have the urge to read all I can find about the Hemingway's and their life together.
Be sure to check out the site HERE on the book for more information.

Giveaway:
I have 5 copies of this book to giveaway, thanks to the generosity of the publisher. Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite love story couple-whether real or fictional. Don't forget to leave an email so I can contact you. Winners will be chosen on March 10.




Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Giveaway: 21-Day Weight Loss KickStart

For years, Dr. Neal D. Barnard has been at the forefront of cutting-edge research on what it really takes to lose weight and restore the body to optimal health. Now, with his proven, successful program, in just three short weeks you'll get fast results-drop pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve blood sugar, and more. With Dr. Barnard's advice on how to easily start a plant-based diet, you'll learn the secrets to reprogramming your body quickly:

* Appetite reduction: Strategically choose the right foods to naturally and easily tame your appetite.
* Metabolism boost: Adjust eating patterns to burn calories faster for about three hours after each meal.
* Cardio protection: Discover the powerful foods that can help reduce cholesterol nearly as much as drugs do in just weeks.


Whether you are one of the millions who are anxious to get a jumpstart on weight loss or who already know about the benefits of a plant-based diet but have no idea how or where to start, this book is the kickstart you've been waiting for. Complete with more than sixty recipes, daily meal plans for the 21-day program, tips for grocery shopping, and more, this book will teach you how to make the best food choices and get your body on the fast track to better health.


I have two copies of this book to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canada only. Please leave a comment and email to enter. The winners will be chosen on March 31.




Monday, February 21, 2011

Giveaway: The Story of Beautiful Girl

It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught.



I have one copy of this book to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canada and the winner will be chosen on March 31. Please leave a comment with your email to enter.




Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Giveaway: Satori

Nicholai Hel--genius, mystic, and the perfect, formidable assassin--was first introduced to readers in Shibumi, the classic #1 bestseller by master storyteller Trevanian. Now, critically-acclaimed author Don Winslow continues Hel's story for the first time in this all-new, blockbuster thriller. It is the fall of 1951 and the Korean War is raging. Twenty-six year-old Nicholai Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Hel is a master of hoda korosu or "naked kill," fluent in seven languages, and has honed extraordinary "proximity sense"-an extra-awareness of the presence of danger.



I have one copy of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email to enter. The contest is open to US and Canada and the winner will be chosen on March 31.




Saturday, February 19, 2011

Giveaway: Tiger Hills

As the first girl born to the Nachimada family in over sixty years, the beautiful Devi is the object of adoration of her entire family. Strong-willed and confident, she befriends the shy Devanna, a young boy whose mother has died under tragic circumstances. The two quickly become inseparable, until Devi meets Machu the tiger killer, a hunter of great repute, and a man of much honor and pride. Soon, they fall deeply in love, an attraction that drives a wedge between Devi and Devanna. It is this tangled relationship between the three that leads to a devastating tragedy -- an event that changes their fates forever and has unforeseen and far-reaching consequences for generations to come.


I have one copy of this bok to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canada. Please leave a comment with your email to enter. The winner will be chosen on March 25.




Friday, February 18, 2011

Giveaway: Toys

James Bond and Jason Bourne have just been topped! A battle for the world is set into unstoppable motion and Hays Baker is the only one who can save it. Hays Baker and his wife Lizbeth possess super-human strength, extraordinary intelligence, stunning looks, a sex life to die for, and two beautiful children. Of course they do--they're Elites, endowed at birth with the very best that the world can offer. The only problem in their perfect world: humans and their toys!

The one with the most toys--dies

The top operative for the Agency of Change, Hays has just won the fiercest battle of his career. He has been praised by the President, and is a national hero. But before he can savor his triumph, he receives an unbelievable shock that overturns everything he thought was true. Suddenly Hays is on the other side of the gun, forced to leave his perfect family and fight for his life.

Now a hunted fugitive, Hays is thrown into a life he never dreamed possible--fighting to save humans everywhere from extinction. He enlists all of his training to uncover the truth that will save millions of lives--maybe even his own. James Patterson's Toys is a thriller on a hyper plane--with a hero who rivals both James Bond and Jason Bourne.


I have one copy of this book to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canada. Please leave a comment with your email to enter. The winner will be chosen on March 25.




Thursday, February 17, 2011

Live Webcast Today!

Join Gabe Lyons and Tim Keller for a Live Webcast Event at 2:00 pm EST. The topic will be Gabe Lyons new book entitled The Next Christians.

Click below and get the Livestream.

Watch live streaming video from WaterBrookMultnomah at livestream.com

Book Giveaway: Started Early, Took My Dog

Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective-a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other-or so decides Tracy, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge.

Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories, is embarking on a different sort of rescue-that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished.


I have one copy of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email to enter. The contest is open to US and Canada and the winner will be chosen on March 18.




First Card Book Feature

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.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



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.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

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

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


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.




Be sure to watch my blog for my upcoming review of this book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Giveaway: Sixty-Nine

It's New Year's Eve 2008, and best friends Magnolia Butler, Rebe Richardson, and Darla Clark, all born in 1969, are about to turn the dreaded 4-0 in January 2009. Magnolia, a New Year's Day baby, is childless, and always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Rebe, the mother of a college-aged daughter named Trinity, has just gone through a divorce from a man whose sexual appetite far exceeded her desires and abilities. Darla is also a New Year's Day baby, still mourning her husband's death after five years.


I have one copy of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email to enter. The contest is open to US and Canada and the winner will be chosen on March 18.




Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First Card Book Feature

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.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


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.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

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



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


contents

Foreword by Napoleon Kaufman

xi

Introduction: Have You Been Brainwashed?

1

Lie #1: God made men superior to women.

13

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

29

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

49

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

69

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

85

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

99

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

113

ix

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

135

Lie #9: Real men don’t cry.

155

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

169

Conclusion: The Journey From Wimp to Warrior

187

Appendix: Every Man’s Secret to Spiritual Power

195

Notes

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

—Confucius

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


10 LIES


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

13


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
lifetime.9


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.

Guest Post: Steve Schaefer

Steve Schaefer provided a great guest post for my blog today. Be sure and check out my review of his book Living In The Overlap.


A few years ago my friends from Ukraine, Lena and Igor, took their family on a vacation to Switzerland. As they were sitting on the plane, waiting for it to take off, their three-year-old son Samuel noticed a button on the back of the seat in front of him. (They don’t remember what the button was for. It probably had something to do with the table tray that folds down.)
If I push that button, what will happen? Samuel wondered. So he pushed the button. And immediately the plane started rolling down the runway.
“I just made the plane move!” he exclaimed.
“No you didn’t,” replied his five-year-old brother Daniel. “There’s a pilot up front who made the plane move.”
“No,” Samuel insisted. “I made the plane move.”
Afterward, Lena remarked, “I wonder how often we assume that our ‘button pushing’ has accomplished certain things that were actually done by our Unseen Pilot.”
I confess it’s sometimes easy for me to overlook the presence—and blessings—of the unseen pilot I’ve entrusted my life to. It’s easy to assume that the roof over my head and the food on my table are the product of my labor, or that my friendships are the product of my irresistible charm. (Okay, maybe that last one is a stretch.) But I need to sometimes remind myself that I am just a branch who receives everything from the vine I’m attached to.
“Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus tells us (John 15:5). As C. S. Lewis explains, we are like a child who asks his father for a sixpence so he can buy the father a birthday present. The father is glad to do so, but only an idiot would think he’s gained a sixpence from the transaction.
“Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already,” Lewis says. (Mere Christianity, book 3, chapter 11)
Do you ever struggle with acknowledging your Unseen Pilot? What advice would you give to those who are wrestling with this?




Book Review: Living In The Overlap

Title: Living In The Overlap
Author: Steve Schaefer
Publisher: Wine Press Publishing
Published Date: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-57921-968-0
Pages: 229
Genre: Christian Life/Spiritual Growth

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

Synopsis:
How should we deal with our doubts?
What should we keep in mind when we pray for healing?
How can we share the gospel more effectively?

Steve Schaefer contends that when we understand Jesus' central message-the kingdom of God-we can better handle such issues. The Old Testament prophets predicted the coming of God's end-time kingdom, but the New Testament reveals a surprising twist: the kingdom arrives in two stages. The first stage arrived with Jesus' first coming. The second stage will arrive at His second coming. So what happens in between?

About the Author:
Steve Schaefer holds a Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Regent University's School of Divinity. He has traveled the globe as a Managing Producer in the International Programming Department of CBN WorldReach, and is a popular speaker and teacher.






My review:
I am currently doing the Revelation study by Beth Moore and I can't seem to read enough about the end times and what is to come. I think many of us focus on what was before and what is to come, without really focusing on the right now and Schaefer's book helps to give a focus on that and how to live in the present time in your faith. Schaefer calls this present time, the overlap and explores how we can focus on our walk with Jesus until the second coming.

The book is based entirely on scripture and the author does a fantastic job at presenting it and then explaining just what it means for our lives. The author includes Biblical history and scripture but uses modern day examples to show the relevance of the Bible today. Schaefer goes into great detail to describe what the characteristics of the new Kingdom of God will be and even includes the Kingdom Dartboard diagram of this. The Dartboard is a fantastic tool that you can hang up and look at each day as a reminder of what you have to look forward to and what you can do today to prepare for that Kingdom.

I had many favorite passages as I read through the book, but perhaps my favorite one left me really thinking about passion for God and I wanted to share it with you.

"I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please."

It made me think of life today in general and how many people just want enough to get by. Whether it be just enough at work, just enough on schoolwork, or just enough in marriage. It made me look at my life and think just how much better my life could be if I wanted more than just enough and that I could ever get enough of God.

I highly recommend this book and hope you will all check it out. For more information, www.livingintheoverlap.com




Book Giveaway: The Linen Queen

Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-centered, unstable mother, Sheila McGee cannot wait to escape the drudgery of her mill village life in Northern Ireland. Her classic Irish beauty helps her win the 1941 Linen Queen competition, and the prize money that goes with it finally gives her the opportunity she's been dreaming of. But Sheila does not count on the impact of the Belfast blitz which brings World War II to her doorstep. Now even her good looks are useless in the face of travel restrictions, and her earlier resolve is eroded by her ma's fear of being left alone.


When American troops set up base in her village, some see them as occupiers but Sheila sees them as saviors--one of them may be her ticket out. Despite objections from her childhood friend, Gavin O'Rourke, she sets her sights on an attractive Jewish-American army officer named Joel Solomon, but her plans are interrupted by the arrival of a street-wise young evacuee from Belfast.


Frustrated, Sheila fights to hold on to her dream but slowly her priorities change as the people of Northern Ireland put old divisions aside and bond together in a common purpose to fight the Germans. Sheila's affection for Joel grows as she and Gavin are driven farther apart. As the war moves steadily closer to those she has grown to love, Sheila confronts more abandonment and loss, and finds true strength, compassion, and a meaning for life outside of herself.


I have one copy of this book to giveaway. The contest is open to US and Canada only. Please leave a comment below with a way to contact you to enter. The winner will be chosen on March 11.




Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Giveaway!

I would like to remind you all of a posting that I put up on my blog on February 5. I posted a review of the book The Science of Kissing, along with a giveaway of one copy of that book. Be sure to go to that post here and sign up to win! However, because this is my 400th post and it is Valentine's Day, and the great people at Hachette have offered me more copies to giveaway, leave a comment below with your email. I have 3 more copies to give away today! Today is the only day to enter as I will choose the winners tonight.




First Card Book Feature

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:


30-Day Marriage Makeover

Siloam (February 1, 2011)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Douglas Weiss, PhD, is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The author of Intimacy, The Seven Love Agreements, and Sex, Men, and God, he is a regular guest on national television (both secular and Christian) as well as radio.



Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Based on principles from his best-selling book Intimacy, Dr. Doug Weiss offers thirty daily teachings for married Christian couples that will help them discover what true intimacy looks like, learn how to overcome the five main roadblocks to intimacy, and help them fall in love all over again.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Siloam (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161638140X
ISBN-13: 978-1616381400

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask

for, it will be done for you by my "ather in heaven. "or where

two or three come together in my name, there am ! with them.

—Matthew 18:19–20


Throughout my years of counseling, I have discovered that many marriages lack structures to encourage intimacy. We grow up believing that one day we will get married and live happily ever after. We enter marriage ill equipped for intimacy and are disappointed when our husband or wife doesn’t possess the secret code to intimacy either.


At first marriage is fun as you begin to learn about your spouse, go to work or school, get your first apartment, pick out furniture, go to church, and are physically intimate together without guilt. The sheer complexities of your new life together, along with the many new decisions you must make, can keep you talking and sharing regularly. Slowly and subtly it happens. No one really knows when or where it happens, but something changes within the relationship. You don’t seem to talk as much.


Decisions are not met with the same excitement as when you were first married; instead, they are delegated, then discussed. Purchases become fewer, and sex and life take on a routine. You don’t feel as close but seem just to be living together. What happened? Where did the passion for one another go? Americans believe that people are either passionate or they are not. But this kind of thinking is incorrect. Passion is a dividend of consistent investments made into a relationship. Let’s reflect back a minute to when you were dating. You were selling your spouse on the idea that being married to you was a great idea. Remember the passion you had for your future spouse? Of course you remember the passion, but what you may have forgotten is the foundation of that passion, the priority of the relationship. Do you remember how you “made” time to be together? You planned your days and weeks around each other’s work schedule, including your days off. Those of you who were attending school in another city away from your future spouse, as I was, had the phone bills to prove your passion and priority. In my case, those phone bills took a giant bite out of the little income I made just so I could tell her about my day. If you were a Christian at the time, do you remember how spiritual you were? You prayed together as often as you could and perhaps even read the Bible together. You desired to know God’s will, and you wanted God to help you stay pure and still express your love to one another. Do you remember the gratitude you had for the smallest things your spouse did for you? ,is was especially true for me when Lisa cooked for me. I was so grateful! I 5lled her life with a constant stream of praise. Do you remember when you thought she was so smart and attractive and had so much potential? You believed in her and regularly encouraged her.


Understand that passion is a result of setting priorities. Too many people attempt to get back the passion instead of getting back their priorities. Once you get the priorities back, the passion follows and grows

naturally. What priorities? I will discuss priorities shortly, but before I do, I want to share an analogy I often use in counseling sessions. Many couples come in for help with sprains or fractures in their relationships. I liken the repair of a marital relationship to 5xing a broken bone. When your bone is broken, you can continue to function in a limited way, but you look and act unusual. When you go to the doctor or emergency room. The first thing the doctor does is order an X-ray of the bone. Sure enough, he looks at the structure. Regardless of how it happened, the X-ray shows a damaged structure (your bone is broken). The doctor and nurse apply a structural treatment to your structural problem in the form of a cast. The cast is a structural treatment that allows the bone to heal. The cast itself is just plastic or plaster, and it has no healing properties. But when it is applied to a broken bone to hold the bone in place, surprise! Healing can and does happen. The same thing happens when you place the priorities back into your

marriage. No matter how sprained or broken a marriage is, healing can and does take place. I have seen genuine miracles of restoration in marriages when priorities were put back into the relationship. One of

the structures I apply is what I call “the three dailies.” I want to add a personal note of testimony. As I have stated before, I would never ask you to do something that Lisa and I have not done or are not doing presently in our relationship. Lisa and I have done two of the three dailies every day for years, with only a few exceptions. When I developed the third exercise, we actively applied it to our marriage routine also.


These three exercises help Lisa and I maintain our relationship priorities. They are part of our bedtime routine. Neither of us expects to go to sleep without our relational ritual of the three dailies. They are a major highlight of my day. I get to hear about my wife’s day, hear her heart, and she gets to hear about my day and heart as well. ,is relational structure has richly developed our skill for intimacy to such a level that it can weather the day-to-day challenges of children, writing, and media demands, together with all of our other commitments. When your marriage priorities are restored, your passion will be restored. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for Lisa.


I love her and really like her as well. This passion is the fruit of disciplinethat is born out of a heart of love.


THE THREE DAILIES

1. Prayer

Prayer is an absolute necessity in your marriage. I am constantly amazed when couples tell me that the last time they really prayed together, not including praying over food or a good night prayer with children, was years ago. Sometimes they say, “We both pray, just not together.” Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” The Lord must be part of building your house. Prayer is an active way to include the Lord as part of the building plan of your marriage.


Matthew 18:19 says, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” As we’ve previously noted, this verse discusses the importance

of two or more agreeing in God’s name. It doesn’t say when one agrees—it says when two agree. Since Christ’s resurrection, He intercedes with and for His bride, which is the church. The Lord sees prayer as being extremely important. God’s pleasure is for us to commune with Him not just as individuals,

but as a couple as well. Prayer is one of the priorities that must be set in place by a couple desiring more intimacy. Remember, intimacy is three dimensional, involving spirit, soul, and body. As we grow together spiritually, our intimacy in the other two areas will grow as well. Prayer is just talking aloud to God with your spouse, similar to talking with a friend. Prayer doesn’t have to take long hours in any particular

position. It is the principle of connecting with God that is essential. As a couple, within your governing style in your marriage, process the decision of daily prayer. As a result of your decision as a couple, place a

check by which of the following statements you agree with.


* We have agreed to pray daily together to improve and maintain our intimacy for the next thirty days.


* We have agreed not to pray together daily for the next thirty days, knowing that it will negatively affect our intimacy. The structure of prayer taking place within your marriage is one essential part of the three daily exercises. This structure will also be a part of your thirty-day log at the end of each day. Hopefully you have agreed to daily prayer. I know better than most that each couple has many variables. Some of these differences include sleep preferences, work schedules, children’s school and extracurricular activities, church, and fellowshiping with family and friends.


Look at your schedules. When can you pray together? In the morning? At lunch? In the evening? Take the time to discuss this with your spouse, and see if you can agree on a time to pray together. In the space below, write your first and second options to pray together.


Option one is ________ a.m./p.m.

Option two is ________ a.m./p.m.


In your thirty-day log, it’s important to track your progress regarding this exercise to maintain the consistency that ignites the passion and intimacy you both desire. Those who travel often ask how to maintain the thirty-day program while out of town. In this day of modern technology, it is a non issue for the creative person. You can use your calling card or mobile phone to pray with your spouse over the phone. This really demonstrates a commitment to maintaining your spiritual intimacy. Even if you’re in Hong Kong, you can e-mail a prayer to your wife and chat with her. Remember that the structure first brings healing, then passion. As you walk together spiritually, your intimacy over the next thirty days can

nourish.


I love walking in the garden of my life with Lisa and coming with her into the presence of our loving Father. I really believe this has been instrumental in developing the strength and intimacy of our marriage. couples come in for help with sprains or fractures in their relationships. I liken the repair of a marital relationship to fixing a broken bone. When your bone is broken, you can continue to function in a limited way, but you look and act unusual. Then you go to the doctor or emergency room.


The first thing the doctor does is order an X-ray of the bone. Sure enough, he looks at the structure. Regardless of how it happened, the X-ray shows a damaged structure (your bone is broken). The doctor and nurse apply a structural treatment to your structural problem in the form of a cast.


The cast is a structural treatment that allows the bone to heal. The cast itself is just plastic or plaster, and it has no healing properties. But when it is applied to a broken bone to hold the bone in place, surprise! Healing can and does happen.


The same thing happens when you place the priorities back into your marriage. No matter how sprained or broken a marriage is, healing can and does take place. I have seen genuine miracles of restoration in marriages when priorities were put back into the relationship. One of the structures I apply is what I call “the three dailies.”


I want to add a personal note of testimony. As I have stated before, I would never ask you to do something that Lisa and I have not done or are not doing presently in our relationship. Lisa and I have done two of

the three dailies every day for years, with only a few exceptions. When I developed the third exercise, we actively applied it to our marriage routine also.


These three exercises help Lisa and I maintain our relationship priorities. They are part of our bedtime routine. Neither of us expects to go to sleep without our relational ritual of the three dailies.


They are a major highlight of my day. I get to hear about my wife’s day, hear her heart, and she gets to hear about my day and heart as well. ,is relational structure has richly developed our skill for intimacy to such a

level that it can weather the day-to-day challenges of children, writing, and media demands, together with all of our other commitments.


When your marriage priorities are restored, your passion will be restored. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for Lisa.


I love her and really like her as well. ,is passion is the fruit of discipline that is born out of a heart of love.


THE THREE DAILIES


1. Prayer

Prayer is an absolute necessity in your marriage. I am constantly amazed when couples tell me that the last time they really prayed together, not including praying over food or a good night prayer with children, was years ago. Sometimes they say, “We both pray, just not together.”


Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” The Lord must be part of building your house. Prayer is an active way to include the Lord as part of the building plan of your

marriage.


Matthew 18:19 says, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” As we’ve previously noted, this verse discusses the importance

of two or more agreeing in God’s name. It doesn’t say when one agrees— it says when two agree.


Since Christ’s resurrection, He intercedes with and for His bride, which is the church. The Lord sees prayer as being extremely important. God’s pleasure is for us to commune with Him not just as individuals,

but as a couple as well.


Prayer is one of the priorities that must be set in place by a couple desiring more intimacy. Remember, intimacy is three dimensional, involving spirit, soul, and body. As we grow together spiritually, our

intimacy in the other two areas will grow as well.


Prayer is just talking aloud to God with your spouse, similar to talking with a friend. Prayer doesn’t have to take long hours in any particular position. It is the principle of connecting with God that is essential.


As a couple, within your governing style in your marriage, process the decision of daily prayer. As a result of your decision as a couple, place a check by which of the following statements you agree with.


We have agreed to pray daily together to improve and maintain our intimacy for the next thirty days.


We have agreed not to pray together daily for the next thirty days, knowing that it will negatively affect our intimacy.


The structure of prayer taking place within your marriage is one essential part of the three daily exercises. This structure will also be a part of your thirty-day log at the end of each day.


Hopefully you have agreed to daily prayer. I know better than most that each couple has many variables. Some of these differences include sleep preferences, work schedules, children’s school and extracurricular

activities, church, and fellowshiping with family and friends.


Look at your schedules. When can you pray together? In the morning? At lunch? In the evening? Take the time to discuss this with your spouse, and see if you can agree on a time to pray together. In the space below, write your first and second options to pray together.


Option one is ________ a.m./p.m.


Option two is ________ a.m./p.m.


In your thirty-day log, it’s important to track your progress regarding this exercise to maintain the consistency that ignites the passion and intimacy you both desire.


Those who travel often ask how to maintain the thirty-day program while out of town. In this day of modern technology, it is a non issue for the creative person. You can use your calling card or mobile phone to pray with your spouse over the phone. This really demonstrates a commitment to maintaining your spiritual intimacy. Even if you’re in Hong Kong, you can e-mail a prayer to your wife and chat with her.

Remember that the structure first brings healing, then passion. As you walk together spiritually, your intimacy over the next thirty days can nourish.


I love walking in the garden of my life with Lisa and coming with her into the presence of our loving Father. I really believe this has been instrumental in developing the strength and intimacy of our marriage.