Saturday, October 31, 2009

Embrace the Struggle

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 authors are:

and the book:

Embrace the Struggle

Howard Books (October 27, 2009)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Willingham of HOWARD BOOKS (SIMON & SCHUSTER) for sending me a review copy.***


Zig Ziglar is the president of Zig Ziglar Corporation and has motivated the sales forces of multinational corporations and thousands of individuals. One of the leading stars of the “positive thinking” movement, he is the author of bestsellers See You at the Top, Secrets of Closing the Sale, Success and Self-Image, 5 Steps to Successful Selling, How to Be a Winner, and How to Get What You Want.

Visit the author's website.

Julie Ziglar Norman is the overly proud mother and grandmother of one son, three daughters, and twelve grandchildren. She lives in Alvord, Texas, with her husband of twenty-six years, Jim Norman; three horses, three rescued dogs and three rescued cats, and she is currently writing her first solo book to be published by Brown Books in 2010.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (October 27, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143914219X
ISBN-13: 978-1439142196



Zig Ziglar, my father, is in a struggle right now. A struggle so profound and so real that by sharing it with you I believe you will be filled with hope and encouragement. The gift that God has given Dad is the gift of encouragement and the ability to transfer hope to others so that they can rise above whatever circumstance they are in. As Dad has always said, “Getting knocked down in life is a given. Getting up, starting from where you are and moving forward, is a choice.”

On March 7, 2007, our family experienced what Dr. James Dobson calls “a suddenly.” I was out of town when I got the call. I went numb as I listened to my sister Cindy’s voice, “Dad fell down the stairs. He has a serious head injury.” Suddenly, our family joined millions of other families facing similar circumstances and life was very different. Dad, at eighty years of age, lost the vitality he was renowned for; he no longer moved with the energy and agility of a sixty-five-year-old man. Almost overnight he aged fifteen plus years, and thus began his struggle to live with and overcome the effects of a brain injury.

The next weeks were very anxious as we figured out the impact of the accident and the possibilities for recovery. The calendar became filled with doctors and more doctors. Life was changing fast. But the amazing thing was that Dad’s attitude never changed. I knew that he hurt all over from falling down a sixteen step staircase onto a marble floor. I could see that his balance was impaired and that his short-term memory was “really short,” as he likes to say, but still he was as optimistic and, if possible, even more loving than before the fall. As usual, he was more concerned for us than he was for himself.

“Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.” I have heard Dad say that hundreds of times. “It isn’t what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you that makes the difference.” “Go as far as you can see, then you can see farther.” These are words my father has taught and words he lives by daily. And that is why I’m so excited about this book. Once again my father is using his circumstances, as unfortunate as they may be, to encourage others in their own struggles. As my sister Julie says, he is willing to be transparent, and he continues to write and speak because he wants to show his audiences that life on life’s terms is well worth living. Life may never be the same again but that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as wonderful and fulfilling in an entirely new and different way.

My wish for you as you journey through this book is that you will count your blessings until your gratitude bucket is full, and if you or someone you love is in a struggle, take courage and press on, because, as the Ziglar family has learned, it is in the depths of the struggle that God reveals His eternal blessings.

Embrace the Struggle,

Tom Ziglar

Proud Son of Zig Ziglar


I’m convinced that in the last year the overwhelming majority of people have been struggling with some kind of concern—personal, family, business, health, relationships—you name it. I know I certainly have! It seems these are things that just happen over the course of time. The question is how do you handle struggle?

Through the years I’ve spoken about and written often on how to overcome negative situations, but as a motivational/inspirational speaker and author, I have to admit that I personally have spent the majority of my time focused on how to accomplish the next positive achievement. I believe I have given an honest and realistic picture of how to address struggles in the past but as you know, what we know is a result of what we’ve learned. The things we learn firsthand have a much greater impact on us and better position us to help others deal with similar circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us this is so; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of our mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3–4 NKJV).

Until now, my greatest life struggle has been dealing with the death of my forty-six-year-old daughter, Suzan. I wrote extensively in Confessions of a Grieving Christian about how I grappled with my grief and how God comforted me. Not surprisingly, that book has been the one of mine that has generated the most letters from readers. Why? Because that topic directly addresses an emotional struggle all of us eventually face in our lives. Generally, you don’t read a book about grief unless you are grieving. And you typically won’t gravitate toward a book on overcoming struggles unless you, or someone you love, are in the midst of a struggle. If you find this to be your case, you my friend, are reading the right book!

I know without a doubt that the personal struggle I’ve been going through since my fall has given me insight that I could not have had otherwise. I’ve been overwhelmed time and time again as I have discovered that the principles I’ve taught through the years apply to my present circumstances more completely than they ever have at any other time in my life. And, amazingly, the simplest concepts of all have proven to be the most applicable life buoys for me.

The pages that follow this introduction are full of inspiring stories of individuals who have faced struggles and not only survived, but live a life far more fulfilling than they ever experienced before their struggle began. Many of the stories come from individuals who, upon hearing about my brain injury, sought to encourage and comfort me with the comfort that God had extended to them during their struggle.

I will share with you the principles and scriptures that have served as lifelines for me and explain how I have applied them to my struggle. You will hear how my struggle has impacted and influenced the lives of my wife, the Redhead (When I’m talking about her, I call her the Redhead. When I’m talking to her, I call her Sugar Baby. Her name is Jean.), my son Tom, my daughters, Cindy and Julie, and my granddaughter Katherine. You’ll also learn how this has impacted my speaking career, my writing and the wonderful staff I’m blessed to have at our company, Ziglar, Inc.

My personal struggle is health related but this book deals with not only the struggle physical limitations create, but also financial, spiritual, family and relationship struggles. This book is about living life on life’s terms. It is about knowing what you can change and what you can’t change and learning how to live your life with an enthusiastic expectation for what is yet to come. Where there is a struggle there is life. For that we can be grateful!



I get lots of ideas when the lights go out at night and it gets very quiet. Sometimes they come when I first lie down to sleep, other times I wake up with an idea racing through my mind, but regardless of when an idea comes, I have made it a habit to get out of bed and write the idea down before it disappears into my dreams. You should do the same. (This book is not really about me and my accident . . . it’s about you having the benefit of my experience, good or bad!)

I’ve also made it a habit not to disturb the Redhead if I can possibly help it and that night was no exception. I quietly slid out of bed and hurried toward my office which is across the hall and to the right of the head of the staircase. As usual, I did not turn on a light. I had traveled that particular path thousands of times in the twenty-two years we’d lived in our home. However, in all of those years I had never accidentally put my left foot down where the second floor ended and the first step down our staircase began! Let’s just say that misstep more than disturbed the Redhead!

Most of what I am writing at this point is information my family filled me in on after the accident. Since I was unconscious for several minutes I have absolutely no recall of what happened after I fell but from what the Redhead tells me she grabbed the phone and dialed 911 as soon as she realized I was tumbling down the stairs. An ambulance was dispatched and help was at the house within a few minutes of my fall.


While the paramedics attended to me the Redhead called our children. By then it was about 10:30 p.m. so seeing our name come up on Caller ID at that hour struck fear into our children’s hearts. And this time, I’m sorry to say, their fear was not unfounded. My son Tom refers to that night as the night he got “the call.” I’m quite sure each of you has had “the call” at one time or another and can relate to what our children were experiencing. I’m grateful that all three of them, including Tom who was out of town, hurried to the hospital to help their “elderly parents”—that is what I call us when I’m about half-teasing and about half-relieved that our kids are hovering around us, willing and eager to help.

Over the next several hours it became apparent that my left side took the brunt of my fall. When I landed at the bottom of the stairs I hit my head on the marble floor and then slammed it against the front door. Please don’t ask for a reenactment—you get the picture! I had to spend a few nights at the hospital so the doctors could monitor the two areas where my brain had a bleed, and I needed some time to get used to the positional vertigo that I began to experience about twelve hours after I fell. Amazingly, I suffered no broken bones, but I can testify that I was one sore and dizzy guy!

What we didn’t know when I finally left the hospital was how seriously my short-term memory had been affected. Sometimes it is nice to be a little clueless. Everyone in the family has had ample time to adjust to the fact that my short-term memory is very, very, short. Now we are all learning how to live with that fact.

Life is change. On March 7, 2007, my life changed completely with one, simple, misplaced step. Some would say it changed for the worse, and by man’s standards they would be entirely right. Fortunately, and I can assure you this is not by chance, the one verse that I’ve written in the majority of books I’ve been asked to autograph, the verse that I believe encourages people most in the midst of their troubles, Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (KJV), is the verse that allows me to know that God will use this season of my life, difficult though it may be, for His glory and my ultimate benefit.

By man’s standards my fall down the stairs and the vertigo and the brain injury that resulted in my short-term memory loss would seem to dictate an end to my long and much loved career, but I’m here to tell you that even with its problems, life is more inspiring, more intriguing, and more fulfilling than ever. For me, when life does take an unexpected turn, it is somewhat like taking a hike on a new trail; I can’t wait to see what is around the next bend. If the going gets really rocky, I might start hoping smoother ground is just ahead, or that I’m close to the end of the trail where I can take a long desired break from the grueling journey. But my enthusiastic expectation for what is yet to come, for what God has planned for me and my life, never wavers. I trust Him.

I also trust my family. Many years ago I told my family that I was concerned that I might not be able to realize it myself if I started to lose my edge and my speeches were no longer as effective as they should be. I did not want to embarrass myself so I asked them to promise that they would tell me if they ever thought it was time for me to step down from the stage. As I got older and started experiencing some of what I’d call the usual memory loss that happens when we pass the ages of fifty, sixty, and then seventy, the children often checked on me to be sure I was still able to deliver. Thankfully, they were discreet and until after the accident I didn’t even know they had already begun checking me out periodically. They took their assignment seriously and I’m glad they did.

It is true that as I neared the age of eighty, I began to rely on notes to help me keep my place as I was speaking. But I figured that most folks rely on notes by the time they are eighty so I wasn’t at all concerned about how my audience would perceive my occasional pass by the podium to reference my outline. My daughter Julie reviewed the DVD of the Get Motivated Seminar engagement I did in San Bernardino, California on March 6, 2007, the day before my accident and she assures me that I was still completely stage worthy at that point. Unfortunately, my brain injury had such a profound effect on my short-term memory that the ability to reference an outline was beyond me. I could look at the outline but I couldn’t remember the last point that I had made. To add insult to injury, the vertigo I was experiencing made it virtually impossible for me to even walk around the stage safely.


Obviously, I had a real dilemma. I book engagements months and years in advance and there were several engagements pending when I fell. I know companies and individuals alike are negatively impacted if I can’t keep an engagement, so I have always done everything in my power to be where I’m expected. I’ve missed the funerals of my siblings and friends and I’ve spoken when I probably should not have due to illness, but I always felt like my responsibility to show up according to plan was paramount. I can still hear my mother saying, “If a man’s word is no good—he is no good.” I had given my word.

Situations like the one I’m in create circumstances that make a fellow really grateful to have good family relationships. I knew I could count on the help of my family and I got it in spades! The Redhead, Tom, Cindy and Julie enlisted the help of my doctors who were working with me after my accident, as well as the help of my friends and associates, to determine if I should find a way to continue speaking or stay home and concentrate on my writing.

My family was open to seeing how I would progress, but they were concerned about the very real possibility that my vertigo might cause another fall and that traveling would put me in more vulnerable positions than staying close to home would. When they discussed the idea that it might be time for me to retire from public speaking, it was quickly followed by a concern that God might not be done with using me on the stage and none of them wanted to be responsible for suggesting I stop if that was, in fact, the case. However, it was crystal clear that short of an outright miracle I would not be giving the kind of speeches my audiences had come to expect.

The doctors had said that I might recover more of my short-term memory with time as my brain healed but they couldn’t be sure of what the ultimate outcome was going to be. More than a year has passed since my fall and it seems that I have good days and other days. (You know there are no bad days. After all, some people didn’t wake up today and compared to them I’m having a better than good day!) Since I am over eighty years of age we are taking the conservative approach to my medical options. We’re taking our time and applying the good old Ben Franklin approach I’ve taught all these years; divide a page from top to bottom, put positive benefits of procedures/therapies in one column and possible negative outcomes in the other, and we’ll let the obvious, as well as prayer, determine our decisions.

I’ll go into more detail later about some of the therapies, supplements, exercises and medical treatments friends and even clients have suggested and that we’ve tried, but for now I want you to know that we’ve never stopped looking at possible treatments for what ails me. We pray about the treatments and supplements we are told about and if we feel God is leading me to try them, I try them. My doctors remain supportive and encouraging about the possibilities the future holds.

My associates, particularly those who also speak on public platforms, were and still are concerned about me retaining my dignity and going out on top. The thought of me, in many cases, their mentor, performing differently and faltering here and there before an audience is almost unthinkable. I love them for wanting to help me be remembered as I was before the accident. And I love them for personally helping me move ahead, to do what God puts in front of me to the best of my ability.


Thankfully, the only speaking engagement that I had to miss immediately after my fall was for my friends and business associates Peter and Tamara Lowe at one of their big Get Motivated Seminars in Houston, Texas on March 13, 2007. After a lot of in-depth examination by no less than five doctors, it was determined that I had retained almost all of the information I have taught over my many years as a speaker and author, and that I was totally “present” when being spoken to. The only new memory problem I had was with the most immediate short-term. When questioned I could answer without any hesitation, but if you asked me what you had asked me when I finished answering the question I could not tell you. Yes, my memory about current events is that short! (You’re probably wondering how this book got written and I’ll tell you—we are both the beneficiaries of the good help I have. Between my executive assistant, Laurie Magers, my editor/daughter Julie Norman and others on my staff, we got it done!)

Since I could recall information when asked, Peter Lowe came up with the idea of changing my speaking format. For years I have been known for my energetic, highly physical speaking style. Some people have even accused me of being more than enthusiastic during presentations. I liked to somewhat live out the stories while I was telling them, and I thought standing stock still behind a podium might block or slow down the words that came flying out of my mouth at the rate of 250 per minute with gusts up to 450. You would naturally assume that it was my vertigo that put an end to all my physical onstage activity, but it really had more to do with the fact that we couldn’t find anyone who felt comfortable chasing me around the stage to ask the next question in our new interview format! Sorry, I couldn’t contain myself.

Sitting down for one-on-one interviews on stage came about through a combination of me being unsteady on my feet and my mind not keeping track of what I’d already said. Peter Lowe interviewed me for the first time in Boise, Idaho on March 27, 2007, just twenty days after my fall but after a few engagements it occurred to him that my associates, Bryan Flanagan and Krish Dhanam, both of whom have shared the Get Motivated Seminar platforms with me on many occasions, might be a better fit for the job. They have both taught my material and they’ve studied it in order to apply it to their lives. They can tell most of my stories almost word for word, and in the event I had trouble recalling any answer to their questions they could help out by prompting me toward the answer or outright supplying the answer if it still eluded me. It made perfect sense to ask them to interview me at the Get Motivated Seminars. Fortunately, they both agreed and with great faith we pressed forward to keep my commitments.


Both Krish and Bryan did an excellent job of interviewing me on stage. They carefully laid out their questions so that we could cover several different areas of interest such as the mental, physical, spiritual, financial and relational sides of life. Their goal and mine was to continue to give the audience valuable, applicable, life improving information in an entertaining way.

I cannot express fully the gratitude I have for these two men. Engagement after engagement, they tweaked their questions as they learned better how to deal with my short-term memory. They spent hours and hours working on how to make me look my very best. They learned how to highlight the good and minimize the imperfections that were bound to happen with the kind of brain injury I suffered.

We continued on this course with the public seminars but we had to address what we, as a company, would do about my corporate engagements and about my two day Born to Win seminar that I had hosted since the 1970s. My son Tom was the president of our company at that time (now he is the CEO) and I sorely wish that all the weight of this problem hadn’t fallen squarely on his shoulders, but he handled and continues to handle the business beautifully.

Tom decided that we’d notify the corporations I was scheduled to speak for about my accident and the change to an interview format and let them decide if they wanted to keep their engagement or cancel, and that we would not book anymore corporate events for the foreseeable future. He also decided we would promote the upcoming Born to Win seminar as the final one.


I know rock stars have farewell tours, sometimes they have one every four or five years, but I had never considered that I might actually “plan” to do any of the things I do for the last time. I’ve always planned to die while I’m still doing what I love doing. When folks say they’ve heard I’m retired, I say with mock surprise, “Retired! Friend, you weren’t listening! I said I was reFIRED! I’m not gonna ease up, shut up, let up or give up, until I’m taken up! Matter of fact, I’m just getting’ warmed up!”

Some people might think that’s reaching a little far for a man who has celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his twenty-first birthday. (For those of you who are mathematically challenged that means I’m eighty-one years old.) But I am truly the kind of guy who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him! Which will help you understand that it was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to the “last” Born to Win seminar.

It wasn’t long before I understood why rock stars have so many farewell tours. They sell out—fast! I was overwhelmed at the immediate response to the announcement. Many who attended Born to Win did so several times through the years. Some brought their employees; others came with their whole family in tow. Larry Carpenter particularly stands out in my mind. He attended forty-five times over twenty-seven consecutive years. His beautiful wife Lisa and their three sons participated more times than I can remember. Larry also financially sponsored nearly 200 people down through the years because he wanted the people he cares about to experience what he experienced there. The last Born to Win was no exception. He brought his whole family and as we’d say down home, a passel of friends to boot! That event was like old home week for the Redhead and me. We got to see so many people whom we’d come to know and love. We were in “tall cotton” the whole time.

Because of my accident, my involvement had been scaled down a great deal but I was scheduled to have three different interview sessions with Krish Dhanam and a great deal of time mixing and mingling with the participants. Krish did the interview the first evening and later fell ill so another long time associate and friend Jill Tibbels agreed to do the Saturday morning interview, which went off exceptionally well. Jill always does an incredible job of anything we ask her to do. That’s just one of the reasons we’re so grateful her association with us spans more than twenty-five years.

Tom came up with the idea of making this final BTW more intimate and special by having a “family” session where the Redhead, Tom, Cindy and Julie joined me on the stage in a living room setting to tell stories about what it was like having me for a husband and father. I often tell people that if I’d known how much fun grandkids were going to be I would have been a whole lot nicer to their parents! I’d like to add that had I known my wife and children would be taking the stage to talk about me . . .

We all had a marvelous time but I suspect my jaw was dropped open most of the time. I had no idea that I had raised so many hams! All three of my children had the audience holding on to their sides. Honestly, I didn’t know that growing up and working with me had provided them with so much funny material! And then the Redhead chimed in and people were almost rolling on the floor. It was as if my family had been saving up for this one occasion. It was all in good, loving fun and the ones I love most in this world did get around to saying that they loved AND respected me, so all’s well that ends well.


Except, as is often the case, what appears to be an ending is anything but. That afternoon of August 25, 2007, was another beginning for me with my daughter and long-time editor, Julie Norman. I love seeing the hand of Providence in my life. Julie became my editor as a result of having won a place at the bi-annual Writer’s Workshop that Guideposts hosts to develop new talent for their magazine. John and Elizabeth Sherrill, long-time roving editors for Guideposts and well-known co-authors of Corrie Ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place, as well as Brother Andrew’s, The Cross and the Switchblade, noted that Julie was a natural at editing. When Julie told me they, and a few others who were leading the workshop, had commented on her editing ability, I immediately knew I needed her to help me with my books. Fifteen years and twenty-one books later we’re still writing away. This book is our first effort as co-authors. With my short term memory loss, the kind of help I needed was more in-depth than the usual editing Julie has done in the past.

And now we’re speaking together as well! Jay Hellwig, my driver and personal assistant and the husband of Jill Hellwig, our number one salesperson for more than thirteen years, noticed that the Born to Win attendees responded enthusiastically to what Julie had to say from the stage. He told Tom that he thought it would be a more natural fit to have Julie interview me at the Peter Lowe Get Motivated Seminars. He pointed out that because of our father/daughter relationship she could more comfortably interrupt me if I started to repeat myself and, after all, she had been editing everything I’d said in print for years, she knew all of my material. It was such an obvious fit I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself! Julie, it seems, had been being prepared all along to help me at this time in my life.

It made sense to Tom, too, and when he asked Julie if she would travel with me and her mother and interview me on stage, she agreed without hesitation.






Howard Books

West Monroe, Louisiana


To the Redhead,

My bride of sixty-one years, the only woman I’ve ever loved

and the most important person in my life.

Sure do love you, Sweetheart!

Our purpose at Howard Books is to:

Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!

[Howard Logo]Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Embrace the Struggle © 2009 Zig Ziglar

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Howard Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

[Add agent line here, if applicable]

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TK

ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-4219-6

ISBN-10: 1-4391-4219-X

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

HOWARD and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Manufactured in the United States of America

For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact: Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or

Edited by Denny Boultinghouse

Cover design by TK

Interior design by TK

Photography/illustrations by TK

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked AMP are from the Amplified Bible®, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission ( Scripture quotations marked ESV are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked KJV are taken from the Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. Scripture quotations marked TNIV are taken from the Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version®. TNIV®. Copyright© 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scriptures marked LITV are taken from the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible. Copyright © 1976 - 2000 by Jay P. Green, Sr. Used by permission of the copyright holder. Courtesy of Sovereign Grace Publishers and Christian Literature World.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Can God Be Trusted? review & GIVEAWAY!! CLOSED!

This giveaway is now CLOSED!! Congrats to Denise Reker, Sweeter the Berry, Erica G, kngmckellar, and dreamcleavers for winning. Winners chosen via

Full Description

Father Williams explores the most common obstacles that prevent people from trusting God, including personal betrayals, unfulfilled expectations, and seemingly unanswered prayers. He then explains what is reasonable to expect from God and offers practical tips for ways to grow in trust.

Williams is becoming a revered voice in the Christian community for his insightful writings on issues that really matter to Christians. In this new book, Father Williams will help readers understand, not only how to trust God in spite of doubts and confusion, but to truly know God can be trusted.

About Author

Thomas D. Williams, LC, ThD, is Vatican Analyst for CBS News and a professor of theology and ethics at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome. He has also worked extensively for NBC News and Britain's Sky News, covering church and ethical issues, including the final illness and death of Pope John Paul II, the 2005 papal conclave, and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Father Williams also regularly appeared in the MSNBC series The Ethical Edge and is author of several books and dozens of articles, both scholarly and popular.

-information taken from the Hachette Book Group website.


Can God Be Trusted has a very good message. I found the book easy to read with strong biblical content. I enjoyed the quotes from every-day people found throughout each chapter. I think this book would make an excellent group study as well.

You can take a look inside the book HERE.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me the review copy of this book as well as sponsoring the giveaway.


~ just leave a comment here telling me you would like to win!

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This giveaway is open to readers in Canada and the USA (no P.O. boxes though) and will end on November 13, 2009!

Don't forget to enter my other giveaways while you are here...

Faith Path

About the Faith Path DVD

Faith. Everybody lives by it—even atheists! That's right. Everyone you know trusts something they believe in but can't prove or know absolutely. They take it on faith. And if you want to talk to your friends about your faith, it helps to understand what they believe and how they got there. Because badgering people to change their minds just doesn't work.

The eight-lesson Faith Path DVD, based on Mark Mittelberg's book Choosing Your Faith, builds on the author's sensible, even-handed approach to evangelism. Filmed live with an audience, lessons include teaching from Mittelberg, short interviews with six fascinating individuals talking about the six faith paths they were on before they came to Christ.

Use this DVD in conjunction with the Faith Path workbook to start a discussion about faith today!

About the Faith Path workbook

Based on Mark Mittelberg's book Choosing Your Faith, this workbook (and the DVD it supports) builds on Mittelberg's sensible, evenhanded approach to evangelism. Inside you'll meet six fascinating people who looked at the world in six different ways before they embraced faith in Christ. Very likely you'll recognize people you know—and you may even recognize yourself.

Work through Faith Path and you will:

  • Understand people who approach life differently from you
  • Recognize the danger of paths that lead away from Christ
  • Deepen your own faith in Christ and reinforce your reasons for believing
  • Gain confidence in talking about Christ with others

Relativists, traditionalists, mystics, authoritarians, and others.they're all here. And after you understand how these folks think about faith, you can help them find a trustworthy pathway to truth. Because no matter what your friends believe, they still matter to God.


This is a great study. It is ideal for small groups but could really be done in any setting. The questions in the workbook are designed to reach everyone, no matter where they are on their own faith path. The DVD is easy to watch and quite enjoyable. There is a leader's guide found in the back of the workbook which would be very helpful. I think this is an excellent starting point for those wanting to share their faith without being obnoxious.

Last Breath

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:

Last Breath (Rayne Series #2)

Zondervan; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Lindsey Rodarmer of ZONDERKIDZ for sending me a review copy.***


Brandilyn and Amberly Collins are a mother/daughter team from northern California. Brandilyn is a bestselling novelist, known for her trademarked "Seatbelt Suspense". Amberly is a college student in southern California. She and her mom love attending concerts together.

Visit the author's website.

Here's a video about the first book in the Rayne Series:

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310715407
ISBN-13: 978-0310715405


Your father sent me.

The last words of a dying man, whispered in my ear.

Were they true? What did they mean?

Your father sent me. The stunning claim drilled through my head, louder than the crowd’s screams.

Guitars blasted the last chord of Rayne’s hit song, Ever Alone, as Mom’s voice echoed through the Pepsi Center in Denver. The heavy drum beat thumped in my chest. With a final smash of cymbals the rock song ended. Multicolored laser lights swept the stadium, signaling the thirty-minute intermission.

Wild shrieks from thousands of fans rang in my ears.

I rose from my chair backstage. Tiredly, I smiled at the famous Rayne O’Connor as she strode toward me on high red heels. In the lights her sequined top shimmered and her blonde hair shone. She walked with confidence and grace, the picture of a rock star—until she stepped from her fans’ sight. Then her posture slumped, weariness creasing her beautiful face. Mom’s intense blue eyes usually glimmered with the excitement of performing, but now I saw only the wash of grief and exhaustion. How she’d managed to perform tonight, I’d never know. Except that she’s strong. A real fighter.

Me? I had to keep fighting too, even if my legs still trembled and I’d probably have nightmares for weeks.

Your father sent me.

I had to find out what those words meant.

“You’re a very brave young lady,” a Denver detective had told me just a few hours ago. I didn’t feel brave then or now.

“You okay, Shaley?” Mom had to shout over the screams as she hugged me.

I nodded against her shoulder, hanging on tightly until she pulled back.

The crowd’s applause died down. A heavy hum of voices and footsteps filtered from the stadium as thousands of people headed for concessions and bathrooms during the break.

Kim, the band’s keyboard player and alto to my mom’s lead vocals, stopped to lay a darkly tanned hand on my head. A strand of her bleached white-blonde hair was stuck to the gloss on her pink lips. She brushed it away. “You’re an amazing sixteen-year-old.”

I shrugged, embarrassed. “Thanks.”

Mick and Wendell, Mom’s two remaining bodyguards, approached without a word. I gave a self-conscious smile to Wendell, and he nodded back, sadness flicking across his face. His deep-set eyes were clouded, and the long scar across his chin seemed harder, more shiny. At five-eleven, Wendell is short for a bodyguard but every bit as muscled. Tonight his two-inch black hair, usually gelled straight up, stuck out in various directions. He hadn’t bothered to fix it since the life and death chase he was involved in just a few hours ago. Seeing that messed-up hair sent a stab through me. Wendell was usually so finicky about it.

Mick, Mom’s main personal bodyguard, folded his huge arms and stood back, waiting. Mick is in his forties, ex-military and tall, with a thick neck and block-shaped head. I’ve rarely seen emotion on his face, but I saw glimpses of it now. He and Wendell had been good friends with Bruce, Mom’s third bodyguard.

Bruce had been killed hours ago. Shot.

And he’d been trying to guard me.

My vision blurred. I blinked hard and looked at the floor.

“Come on.” Mom nudged my arm. “We’re all meeting in my dressing room.”

Mick and Bruce flanked her as she walked away.

Usually we don’t have to be so careful backstage. It’s a heavily guarded area anyway. But tonight nothing was the same.

Kim and I followed Mom down a long hall to her dressing room. Morrey, Kim’s boyfriend and Rayne’s drummer, caught up with us. He put a tattoo-covered arm around Kim, her head only reaching his shoulders. Morrey looked at me and winked, but I saw no happiness in it.

Ross Blanke, the band’s tour production manager, hustled up alongside us, trailed by Stan, lead guitarist, and Rich, Rayne’s bass player. “Hey.” Ross put a pudgy hand on Mom’s shoulder. “You’re doing great.” He waved an arm, indicating everyone. “All of you, you’re just doing great.”

“You do what you have to,” Stan said grimly. His black face shone with sweat.

Narrowing single file, we trudged into the dressing room. Mick and Wendell took up places on each side of the door.

Marshall, the makeup and hair stylist, started handing out water bottles. In his thirties, Marshall has buggy eyes and curly dark hair. His fingers are long and narrow, deft with his makeup tools. But until two days ago, he’d been second to Mom’s main stylist, Tom.

“Thanks.” I took a bottle from Marshall and tried to smile. Didn’t work. Just looking at him sent pangs of grief through me, because his presence reminded me of Tom’s absence.

Tom, my closest friend on tour, had been murdered two days ago.

Mom, Ross, Rich and I sank down on the blue couch—one of the furniture pieces Mom requested in every dressing room. Denver’s version was extra large, with a high back and overstuffed arms. To our left stood a table with plenty of catered food, but no one was hungry. I’d hardly eaten in the last day and a half and knew I should have something. But no way, not now.

Maybe after the concert.

Stan, Morrey and Kim drew up chairs to form a haphazard circle.

“All right.” Ross sat with his short, fat legs apart, hands on his jeaned thighs. The huge diamond ring on his right hand was skewed to one side. He straightened it with his pinky finger. “I’ve checked outside past the guarded area. The zoo’s double what it usually is. The news has already hit and every reporter and his brother are waiting for us. Some paparazzi are already there, and others have probably hopped planes and will show up by the time we leave.”

Is Cat here? I shuddered at the thought of the slinky, effeminate photographer who’d bothered us so much in the last two days. He’d even pulled a fire alarm in our San Jose hotel the night before just to force us out of our rooms. Now by police order he wasn’t supposed to get within five hundred feet of us. I doubted he’d care.

My eyes burned, and my muscles felt like water. Little food, no sleep, and plenty of shock. Bad combination. I slumped down in the couch and laid my head back.

Ross ran a hand through his scraggly brown hair. “Now at intermission folks out there”—he jabbed a thumb toward the arena—“are gonna start hearing things. Rayne, you might want to say a little something when you get back on stage.”

Mom sighed, as if wondering where she’d find the energy to do the second half of the concert. “Yeah.”

I squeezed her knee. If only the two of us could hide from the world for a week or two.

Make that a whole year.

Rich frowned as he moved his shaved head from one side to the other, stretching his neck muscles. His piercing gray eyes landed on me, and his face softened. I looked away.

Everyone was so caring and concerned about me. I was grateful for that. Really, I was. But it’s a little hard to know you’ve been the cause of three deaths. Under all their smiles, did the band members blame me?

Ross scratched his hanging jowl. “We got extra coverage from Denver police at the hotel tonight. Tomorrow we’re supposed to head out for Albuquerque. It’s close enough for Vance to drive the main bus without a switch-off driver, and the next two venues are close enough as well. But that’s just logistics. We’ve all been through a lot. Question is—can you all keep performing?” He looked around, eyebrows raised.

“Man.” Morrey shook back his shoulder-length black hair. “If three deaths in two days isn’t enough to make us quit …” His full lips pressed.

I glanced hopefully at Mom. Yeah, let’s go home! I could sleep in my own bed, hide from the paparazzi and reporters, hang out with Brittany, my best friend—who was supposed to be here with me right now.

But canceling concerts would mean losing a lot of money. The Rayne tour was supposed to continue another four weeks.

Mom hunched forward, elbows on her knees and one hand to her cheek. Her long red fingernails matched the color of her lips. “I almost lost my daughter tonight.” Her voice was tight. “I don’t care if I never tour again—Shaley’s got to be protected, that’s the number one thing.”

I want you protected too, Mom.

“I agree with that a hundred percent,” Morrey said, “but at least the threat to Shaley is gone now that Jerry’s dead.

Jerry, one of our bus drivers—and a man I’d thought was my friend—killed Tom and Bruce, and then came after me earlier that night. A cop ended up shooting him.

Kim spread her hands. “I don’t know what to say. I’m still reeling. We’ve barely had time to talk about any of this tonight before getting on stage. I feel like my mind’s gonna explode. And Tom …”

She teared up, and that made me cry. Kim had been like a mother to Tom. Crazy, funny Tom. It was just so hard to believe he was gone.

I wiped my eyes and looked at my lap.

“Anyway.” Kim steadied her voice. “It’s so much to deal with. I don’t know how we’re going to keep up this pace for another month.”

Mom looked at Ross. “We can’t keep going very long with only Vance to drive the main bus.”

Ross nodded. “Until Thursday. I’d have to replace him by then.”

“With who?” Mom’s voice edged.

“I don’t know. I’ll have to jump on it.”

“You can’t just ‘jump on it.’ We need time to thoroughly check the new driver out.”

“Rayne.” Ross threw her a look. “I did check Jerry out. Completely. He had a false ID, remember? That’s what the police said. I couldn’t have known that.”

“You might have known if you’d checked harder.”

Ross’s face flushed. “I did—”

“No you didn’t! Or if you did it wasn’t good enough!” Mom pushed to her feet and paced a few steps. “Something’s mighty wrong if we can’t even find out a guy’s a convicted felon!”

What? I stiffened. “How do you know that?”

Mom waved a hand in the air. “The police told me just before we left the hotel.”

We’d huddled in the manager’s office after the policeman killed Jerry.

I stared at Mom. “When was he in jail?”

Mom threw a hard look at Ross. “He’d barely gotten out when we hired him.”

Heat flushed through my veins. I snapped my gaze toward the floor, Jerry’s last words ringing in my head.

Your father sent me.

How could my father have sent Jerry if he was in jail?

“Rayne,” Ross snapped, “I’ve told you I’m sorry a dozen times—”

“Sorry isn’t enough!” Mom whirled on him. “My daughter was taken hostage. She could have been killed!”

Rich jumped up and put his arms around her. “Come on, Rayne, it’s okay now.”

She leaned against him, eyes closed. The anger on her face melted into exhaustion. “It’s not okay.” Mom shook her head. “Tom’s dead, Bruce is dead. And Shaley—”

Her words broke off. Mom pulled away from Rich and hurried back to the couch. She sank down next to me, a hand on my knee. “Shaley, you’re the one who’s been through the most. What do you want to do?”

My throat nearly swelled shut. Go home! I wanted to yell. But I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair. This wasn’t my tour. I didn’t have to pay the bills.

I glanced around at all the band members. Morrey was holding Kim’s hand. Stan and Rich watched me, waiting. A canceled tour wouldn’t just affect them. Rayne had three back-up singers, one of them Carly, who’d been such a help to me. Plus all the techs and roadies. They’d all lose money.

Wait—maybe Mom would let me go home and stay with Brittany. Now that Tom’s and Bruce’s killer was dead …

“Shaley?” Mom tapped my leg.

“I don’t … I can’t stop the tour.”

Ross exhaled. “Rayne?”

Mom looked at the wall clock and pushed to her feet. “We can’t decide this now. It’s only fifteen minutes before we have to be back on stage. I still need to change.”

Stan stood. “I say we figure on doing Albuquerque, and then we can decide about the rest.”

“Yeah, me too.” Rich got up, along with everyone else. I could see the business-like attitude settle on all their faces, including Mom’s. Soon they had to perform again. Every other concern must be pushed aside. In the entertainment world the saying was true: the show must go on.

Within a minute everyone had left except Mom, Marshall and me. Mom threw herself into a chair by the bright mirrors so Marshall could adjust her makeup. When he left she changed into a steel blue top and skinny-legged black pants.

I sat numbly on the couch, four words running through my mind. Words, I sensed, that would change my life.

Your father sent me.

Mom didn’t know what Jerry had whispered to me as he died. I needed to tell her.

But how? Like me, she was running on empty. It would be one more shock, another scare. I wasn’t sure she could take anymore and still perform.

Had Jerry told me the truth? Had the father I’d never known—the man my mother refused to talk about—purposely sent a killer to join our tour?

I needed to know. I needed to find out. Because if it was true—the danger was far from over.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind review & GIVEAWAY!! CLOSED

This giveaway is now CLOSED! Congratulations to Ericka, amweeks, mytwogirls, CanAmBlond, and tutugirl for winning.

Full Description

A twenty-year veteran of the classroom, elementary school teacher Phillip Done takes readers through a lively and hilarious year in the classroom. Starting with the relative calm before the storm of buying school supplies and posting class lists, he shares the distinct personalities of grades K-4, what he learned from two professional trick or treating 8-year-old boys, the art of learning cursive and letter-writing, how kindergartners try to trap leprechauns, and what every child should experience before he or she grows up.

These charming, sweet, and funny tales of Mr. Done's trials and triumphs as an award-winning schoolteacher will touch readers' hearts and remind them of the true joys of childhood. We all have that one special, favorite grade school teacher whom we fondly remember throughout our adult lives - and every teacher also has students whom they will never forget. This is the perfect book for teachers, parents, and anyone else who is looking for a lighthearted, nostalgic read.

About Author

Phil Done is a 20-year-plus veteran of the California school system and has received the prestigious Charles Schwab Distinguished Teacher Award, was nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award, and has been honored as a Teacher of the Year in California.


I loved Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind. It made me laugh and a few times brought tears to my eyes. I enjoyed the easy going style of the book. Done tells fabulous stories and his years of teaching experience are obvious. The book is set up to go from the beginning of the school year to the end, month by month. As a parent of a second grader I found it hilarious to read just how similar kids are. If you are a teacher than I bet you would love this book. Perhaps this would make a good gift for your child's teacher too!

You can take a look inside the book HERE.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me the review copy of this book as well as sponsoring the giveaway.


~ just leave a comment here telling me you would like to win!

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This giveaway is open to readers in Canada and the USA (no P.O. boxes though) and will end on November 12, 2009!

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Mom NEEDS Chocolate

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:

Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood

Regal (April 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Rebeca Seitz of Glass Road Public Relations, LLC for sending me a review copy.***


Debora M. Coty is the author or contributor to several books, including Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood. A resident of Florida where she lives with her husband, Coty raised two children and enjoyed a dedicated career as an Occupational Therapist before beginning to chase her God-given dream of writing. She is known for communicating sound biblical concepts with a refreshing, light-hearted style. Her writings can be read in her monthly newspaper column, Grace Notes: God’s Grace for Everyday Living.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Regal (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0830745920
ISBN-13: 978-0830745920


My Cups Runneth Over


A baby is an inestimable blessing and a bother.

Mark Twain

As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.

Genesis 9:7, NASB

There are a few things I’ve learned while fulfilling the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate.

Pregnancy draws you closer to your spouse. During an emergency stop in our driveway while I tossed my cookies in the grass, my husband, Chuck, tried to comfort me. Soon we were throwing up side by side. It was the most romantic thing he’s ever done. Those two brown spots on our lawn were the envy of all my friends.

Childbirth classes are invaluable informational sources. At the country hospital we’d chosen, one young farmer raised his hand the week after we learned about Braxton Hicks false labor contractions. He earnestly addressed the nurse instructor, “Ma’am, my wife’s been miserable all week. Could you tell us again about them Briggs and Stratton things?” He was the same strapping fellow who confided the first week, “We ain’t ever had any babies, but we’ve birthed a lot of cows.”

The budding momma’s swelling belly and the ledge over her innie-turned-outie navel aren’t the only evolutions in the body’s profile. Average-sized breasts become huge globes that bump into everything. It’s like having volleyballs attached to your chest. These alien chest globes take on their own personalities. I called mine the Bobbing Twins, Freddie and Flopsie. I addressed them directly: “Freddie, stop bouncing around or I’m going to fall off this bike,” or “Flopsie, you’re gonna have to squeeze into this DDD cup—there is no E.”

Finally, you’re in your ninth month. Ah, but the surprises are not over. After hours of sweating, teeth grinding and PUSHing, you are rewarded with a tiny screaming miracle. The little bugger has a surprisingly strong sucking reflex, and when he latches on, it feels like a vice grip to this incredibly sensitive part of your anatomy. You’re awfully glad you did that desensitization with the washcloth beforehand. I once commented to Chuck after performing this unpleasant ritual that rubbing myself with terrycloth made me empathize with that old table he was sanding.

“Hmmm. Yes, dear,” he answered, only half listening. I later overheard him inform his sister on the phone, “Debbie uses sandpaper on her chest to get ready for the baby.” No wonder his family thinks I’m weird.

Shortly after giving birth, my friend Julia (also a nursing mother) and I decided to take a well-deserved tennis break. Leaving the babies with their daddies, we headed for the courts. The blissful quiet was shattered by a wailing infant in a passing stroller, triggering that mysterious internal milk breaker switch. Julia and I simultaneously clutched our chests like gunshot victims at the incoming flood.

“Stop it, Freddie! Not now, Flopsie!” I pleaded with the Twins as two dark, wet spots appeared in strategic locations on the front of my white tennis shirt. Julia and I mopped ourselves between points with a soggy sweatband, bringing strange new meaning to the term, “bosom buddies.”1

Son of Man, thank You for the blessing of family and the miracle of babies. Make me more like You because they may end up being like me.


1. Adapted from “My Cups Runneth Over” by Debora M. Coty, first appearing in Today’s Christian Woman, November/December 2004 issue. Used by permission.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So Much More Than Sexy

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:

So Much More Than Sexy

Standard Publishing (July 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc.for sending me a review copy.***


Mark Atteberry has been a minister since 1975, serving at Poinciana Christian Church in Kissimmee, Florida, since 1989. He’s been married to his high school sweetheart, Marilyn, for 32 years. Mark is the author of six books including Free Refill, The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do, Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel (a Retailers’ Choice Award finalist), The Caleb Quest, and The Samson Syndrome(chosen as a Bible study tool by many NFL teams, including the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Miami Dolphins and used as team Bible study by both 2007 Super Bowl participants, the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, during their championship seasons). His books have been endorsed by Karen Kingsbury, Donald Miller, Randy Alcorn, John Maxwell, Barbara Johnson, Angela Thomas, Pat Williams, Steve Green, and others.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Standard Publishing (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078472119X
ISBN-13: 978-0784721193


For Marilyn, Michelle, and Alyssa,

who make me so much more than happy.

Gene Fowler said, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”1 A little melodramatic perhaps. On the other hand, there are days when he doesn’t seem that far off base. Because writing is so hard, you need people in your life who make it easier. I am blessed to have a lot of them. Here are a few I would be ashamed not to mention.

Marilyn, my wife, who helps me in so many ways, I couldn’t begin to enumerate them. As the business aspect of my life accelerates, she keeps me organized and pointed in the right direction without ever letting any of it get in the way of our romance.

Lee Hough, my agent, who represents me with integrity and class. Long ago we moved beyond being author and agent and just became friends. We spend as much time laughing, telling stories, and sharing prayer requests as we do talking about my book projects.

Dr. Les Hardin, my friend and “Bible scholar of choice” when I need some deeper insights into a difficult passage of Scripture. He’s forgotten more about the Bible than I will ever know.

Dale Reeves, Lindsay Black, Sarah Felkey, and Lynn Pratt, my friends at Standard Publishing, who are true professionals in every sense of the word . . . and fun too. They somehow plucked a concept out of my head and turned it into something you can hold in your hands.

Diane Stortz, my editor, who blew me away with her keen insights. She understood what I was aiming at in this book and helped me zero in on the target.

Kelsey Kingsbury (yes, that Kingsbury), who wrote the foreword. Kelsey is a beautiful young woman who epitomizes the message of this book. I am so honored that her first published words are in my book. I doubt they’ll be her last.

Karen Kingsbury, a dear friend who gets the credit (or the blame) for my being a published author.

And you, my readers, who always inspire me with your kind e-mails.


I grew up always performing. As a little girl I would gracefully dance across our living room floor while loudly singing a beautiful song to Jesus. I really believed that I would grow up to become a beautiful princess, meet my perfect and handsome prince, and we would live happily ever after. And I still do. The Bible says, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). My parents gave this verse to me when I was a little girl, and I still cling to the powerful message it holds. God truly has an amazing plan for my future handsome prince and me as long as I keep my eyes toward him.

When I was a freshman in high school, I made the cheerleading team, along with all of my very best friends. I soon realized that others around me considered cheerleaders as uneducated and simply sexy. But I desired to be an example of how a cheerleader—or any woman—really can be so much more than sexy.

Being female isn’t easy. Getting ready in the morning can be a huge battle, and ladies, you know exactly what I am talking about! First we take a shower, then we attempt to blow-dry and style our hair, and last but not least is putting on makeup and choosing an outfit—and don’t forget, we need to complete this mission in warp time. The time it takes a guy to get ready is no time at all (and trust me, I have five brothers!).

Women face a lot of pressure to look a certain way. We live in a celebrity-obsessed world, and we tend to look up to the stick-thin models we read about in gossip magazines. This unhealthy way of thinking is completely damaging to us personally and, in the end, to our society. I have gone through the many ups and downs of being a young woman. I’ve had guy problems, makeup problems, days when I felt fat, clothes problems, cravings for material things, and all of these incidents have left me feeling empty and never good enough.

Mark Atteberry’s book explains the importance of beauty coming not only from the outside but most significantly from inside, from our hearts. (My dad has always called me his precious princess, and I think all Christian women should look at themselves as God’s princesses.) While reading this book, I found that every chapter delivers an amazing truth I needed to hear. The way Mark breaks down these everyday issues of always trying to be sexy is brilliant. He gives us an inside look at a guy’s brain and promises us that there are real godly guys holding out for you and me. This book is a great reminder for all women to always hold a high standard for ourselves when dealing with men, dating, marriage, and especially our self-image. God made us in his perfect image; let’s cling to that truth. Whatever our age, we are so much more than sexy!

In God’s love,

Kelsey Kingsbury

daughter of #1 inspirational fiction author Karen Kingsbury


“All men think about is sex!”

You’ve heard it a thousand times.

If you’re a woman, you’ve probably said it a thousand times.

But I’m here to tell you it isn’t true. My purpose in this book is to slide a stick of dynamite under this long-held misconception and light the fuse. I think it’s high time to explode this lie and let you in on a dynamic, life-changing secret: millions of men in this world are looking for so much more than sex.

Oh, I can understand why you wouldn’t think so. Sadly, there are just enough classless, immature men out there to make it seem true, and pop culture constantly portrays men in the tawdriest terms possible. In the movie Bruce Almighty, for example, Jim Carrey plays an ordinary guy who gets to possess all the powers of God. And what does he do? Wipe out poverty? Put an end to oppression? Bring peace to the Middle East? Of course not! Instead, he sends a perfectly timed gust of wind so he can get a peek under a pretty girl’s skirt. Then with the snickering glee of a hormone-crazed teenager, he has the brilliant idea of making his wife’s breasts larger.

Tacky, you say?

Of course, but what do you expect? He’s a guy!

Or maybe you remember the beer ad that shows two guys sitting in a crowded bar, dreaming up the perfect Miller Lite commercial. Their naughty little minds conjure up a couple of gorgeous women who start arguing about whether the beer is better tasting or less filling. Before you can say bimbo, the two women are pulling hair, ripping clothes, and tumbling nearly naked into a public fountain. As the scene fades, our typical males are shown back in the bar, nodding in hearty approval, hefting their brewskies, and pronouncing their fantasy a true work of art.

Oh yes, I can understand why you would think that sex is all men care about. But speaking as a man—and one who’s met and talked to thousands of other men across the country—I’m convinced there’s a lie being perpetrated here. I believe that Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44), has three reasons for working overtime to hoodwink you.

First, he wants to sow seeds of disrespect toward men in the hearts of women of all ages. God has given men great leadership responsibilities in the home, the church, and the world. Therefore, anything Satan can do to make it harder for women and girls to respect men strikes a mighty blow against God’s plan.

Satan also wants to sow seeds of sensuality in our culture. If he can convince you—especially when you’re young—that sex is all men care about, it’s inevitable that talking, acting, and dressing provocatively will seem the thing to do. And I can’t think of a word that better describes our culture than provocative. Bare midriffs, plunging necklines, and low-riding, skin-tight jeans are the order of the day. Even preteen girls dress (and sometimes act) like the pop culture divas they idolize.

Third, Satan wants to sow seeds of hopelessness in marriages. Every time a clueless husband is preoccupied, inattentive, or rude all day long and then suddenly morphs into Prince Charming when he crawls under the covers, he unwittingly reinforces the man-as-insensitive-sex-maniac stereotype that culture has already planted in his wife’s mind. She may give in to his advances, but it will likely be with a halfhearted, let’s-just-hurry-up-and-get-it-over-with attitude. Pile enough of those heartless, robotic exercises on top of each other, and any woman would feel empty and hopeless.

When I started writing books several years ago, I never dreamed I’d write one for women. I’m not into Bath & Body Works, HGTV, or any of the other girlie things I see my wife and daughter enjoying. To be honest, I don’t even pretend to understand women. After being married for more than thirty years, raising a daughter, and being a pastor to thousands of women, I still find them infinitely and wonderfully mysterious. I wholeheartedly agree with author Angela Thomas, who writes, “The woman is a mystery that the man can’t unlock. Her desires seem to him like a moving target.”2

But that doesn’t mean I’m blind.

As a pastor I’ve been observing this devilish lie about men and watching it undermine God’s plan for male-female relationships for a long, long time. I’ve finally come to the place where I have to speak up.

In this book I’m going to challenge you to reconsider some things you may have always believed about men and the best way to interact with them. No, I’m not going to try to sell you on the notion that all men are gentlemen. Clearly, many are not. But I do know without a doubt that there are still a lot of us left who can see beyond the swell of a woman’s breast.

Imagine how this new understanding could profoundly change your life.

For one thing, it would take some pressure off. It would allow you to be more real, to concentrate more on the development of your inner qualities rather than always thinking you have to compete with the pretty blonde in the deep V-neck who works in your boyfriend’s or husband’s office. For another, your relationship with your man could be invigorated if, instead of trying to breathe new life into your wheezing relationship with skimpy outfits and the latest perfumes, you started to build some new, more meaningful bridges from your heart to his.

If you’re skeptical, I’m not surprised. I know that many women have experienced the very worst that testosterone has to offer. If you’ve pretty much lost all respect for men and are thinking this book is a monumental waste of paper, I plead with you to keep an open mind.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being sexy. (Actually, I’m very much in favor of it!) I’m just saying that many women aim too low . . . that there’s something much higher and much more wonderful for you to shoot for.

Something millions of guys would give anything to find.

Something so much more than sexy.


The Myths in the Mirror

Tracy, I’m in love with you, no matter what you weigh.

—Link Larkin in Hairspray

I wouldn’t want to be a woman.

No way.

I wouldn’t be able to take the pressure to always look beautiful. A guy can have a paunch, wrinkles, thinning hair, gray hair, or even no hair, and still be cast as the romantic lead in a Hollywood blockbuster, but any woman with the same physical traits will end up playing the senile grandma with an afghan over her lap, spitting out saucy one-liners between slobbers.

And this foolishness all starts at birth.

Just listen to those proud relatives pressing their noses up against the hospital nursery window. If the baby is wrapped in a pink blanket, they’ll call her beautiful, gorgeous, a little doll, or a real heartbreaker one of these days. But if the baby’s wrapped in blue, they’ll likely predict a college scholarship for the little linebacker. I have no doubt that if you wrapped the girl baby in blue and the boy baby in pink, you’d get the same color-coded comments.

And the pressure builds from there.

It isn’t long before a little girl becomes enamored with the Disney princesses, all beautifully and flawlessly rendered, and ends up shrieking with delight when her parents give her princess paraphernalia for Christmas. You can bet that even before the wrapping paper is carted away, she’ll be stylin’—click-clacking through the house in her plastic high heels and sparkly dress, soaking up oohs and aahs from everyone except her bratty little brother, who’s too busy blowing things up on his new computer game to notice.

Then of course, there’s high school, where so much of the popularity pecking order is based on looks. It’s the pretty girls who are the best bets to be cheerleaders, homecoming queens, and Saturday-night dates for quarterbacks and cleanup hitters.

And don’t even get me started on the many doodads women use on a daily basis to ready themselves for public scrutiny. We guys only need five things in our bathrooms: a comb, a razor, a toothbrush, some toilet paper, and the sports page. We can knock off our whiskers with a dull razor, run a comb through our hair (even this is optional nowadays), brush our teeth, and we’re good to go. Ten minutes tops. But you are expected to address the cosmetic needs of every feature, from head to toe.

The hair has to be perfectly mussed.

The eyebrows have to be plucked or waxed.

The eyes themselves have to be lined and shadowed.

The nose has to be powdered so it won’t shine.

The lips have to be glossed so they will.

The ears have to have the proper bangle (or two or three) dangling from them.

The bra has to perform miracles.

The outfit has to coordinate.

And the shoes have to be cute or sexy. (It doesn’t matter if they cause excruciating pain, just so they’re cute or sexy.)

Finally, there’s the weight issue. It’s much easier to be a little overweight if you’re a guy. Among other things, you’ll be called strapping instead of fat (I don’t know what strapping means, but it definitely sounds better than fat), you’ll get to hit cleanup on the softball team, and no one will dare pick a fight with you—because heavy guys are assumed to be tough, whether they are or not.

But if you’re what the fashion mags call curvy or plus size, the pressure’s on . . . to buy a ThighMaster, to eat like a rabbit, to actually use your ThighMaster, to eat like a rabbit, to walk twenty miles a day, to eat like a rabbit, to sweat to the oldies, and to eat like a rabbit. If you fail to do these things with the fervor of an Olympic athlete in training, or—Heaven forbid—if you’re ever seen eating a doughnut in public, someone (probably a woman who’s never had a weight problem) will comment on how sad it is that you’ve given up or let yourself go.

Somebody, somewhere dubbed women the fair sex. I think maybe the unfair sex would be more appropriate because of the outrageous pressure you are under to live up to culture’s current definition of beauty. I say “current definition” because the standard constantly changes.

The very first Miss America, sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman, won her crown in 1921. I assume men back then considered Margaret to be a babe, yet any man looking at her picture today would have a hard time controlling snickers.

In the 1950s, all eyes were on a voluptuous Marilyn Monroe. Ten years later, all the magazine covers featured ninety-five-pound Twiggy. Fifty-year-old women were once considered way over the hill, but now women such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Oprah Winfrey, and Lauren Hutton—all over fifty—epitomize beauty, grace, and style. In fact, in 2005 Big magazine invited Lauren Hutton, at the age of sixty-one, to appear in its pages nude, something that would have been unthinkable a few years earlier.

No one can predict how beauty will be defined by our culture ten or twenty years from now. Who knows? Shaved heads might be the hot new trend. Absolutely nothing will surprise me. The only thing I’ll bet on is that whatever culture is demanding, women will still feel pressure to try and deliver it.

[A head] Mirror Myths

Lest you misunderstand, let me say emphatically that I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with a woman wanting to look and feel attractive. In the musical West Side Story, Maria sings with exuberance about how pretty she feels. It’s a joyous, refreshingly innocent moment in the story. There’s no haughtiness. No panting sexuality. Just a young woman experiencing what every woman seems to long for. “I truly believe that the longing to be known as beautiful is part of our design as women,” Angela Thomas writes. “God put us together this way on purpose. We are wired to long for beauty and to be known as beautiful.”3 Nothing in my experience with women would lead me to disagree.

And yet . . . I know that what you believe when you look in the mirror can be a myth. In fact, there are three spiritually and emotionally debilitating mirror myths I’d like to explode right now.

[B head] Myth #1: What You See Is What You Are

Wicked Queen Jezebel knew her days as the matriarch of Israel were numbered (2 Kings 9). Her idiot husband, Ahab, was dead, and God had chosen a young man named Jehu to replace her son Joram as king. And not only had God chosen Jehu to be king, he instructed Jehu to wipe out Jezebel and her entire family as punishment for their many sins.

Jezebel knew that Jehu and his men were coming. They had killed her sons and she was next. So what did she do? Run for her life? Assemble her bodyguards and batten down the hatches? Drink the Kool-Aid? No. “She painted her eyelids and fixed her hair and sat at a window” (v. 30).

Interesting, don’t you think?

Did she get herself all dolled up in an effort to seduce Jehu and perhaps change his mind about killing her? Possibly, but I doubt it. More likely she simply thought, If I’m going out, I’m going to go out looking good! And keep in mind, she was the queen. She would have owned the finest garments and the most expensive jewels. When she put the finishing touches on her do and pirouetted in front of the mirror, I’m sure she was pleased with what she saw.

But she was still a hag, and everybody knew it.

A beautiful face or body doesn’t make you a beautiful person, because your character is always going to trump your looks. Think about Britney Spears, once considered one of the hottest-looking females in America. There was even a TV commercial that showed a geeky, fast-food burger flipper allowing his burgers to burst into flames while he stared, open mouthed, at an overhead TV monitor where a scantily clad Britney was bumping and grinding like a cheap stripper.

But that was before her life began to unravel.

Britney’s foolish choices and reckless—even brainless—behavior made her a national joke. Her endorsement contracts and public appearances dried up, not because she suddenly became physically ugly, but because her character trumped her looks.

Have you ever wondered why many of the most beautiful Hollywood actors and actresses can’t stay married? You’d think if a guy was fortunate enough to marry a glamorous woman with centerfold looks . . . or if a woman snagged a hunky athlete or matinee idol, they’d never want to let go. Yet many such marriages last only a year or two and often end with much bitterness and hateful mudslinging.

Once again, character trumps looks. The person hasn’t been born who is gorgeous enough to overcome a corrupt heart.

Mark it down: what you see when you look in a mirror is not what you are. What’s in your heart is what you are. That’s why wise King Solomon did not say, “Above all else, make sure your eyeliner isn’t smudged and there’s no lipstick on your teeth.” Instead, he said, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23).

[B head] Myth #2: What You See Is What Others See

Check out these words from plastic surgeon Michelle Copeland. I found them right at the beginning of chapter 1 of her book Change Your Looks, Change Your Life:

Take a long, honest look in the mirror. You can do it for real (turn on that harsh overhead light and peel off some clothing), but my bet is that you’ve done it often enough to know what it is about your body or face that you’d like to change.

What is it, for you? Maybe you’ve caught sight of that wattle that blurs your chin line (or worse, that hangs over your crisp white collar) too many times. Maybe it’s the crow’s-feet that grab makeup and make a spray of fright lines at the corners of your eyes. Maybe it’s your nose or earlobes, both of which sag as we age. Maybe it’s your “Hi Janes” (the fleshy underside of the arm that continues to wiggle after you’ve stopped waving hello to your friend Jane); do they make you avoid wearing your favorite sleeveless blouse or halter top? Maybe it’s your breasts—how far down has gravity pulled them? Maybe it’s your stomach—are you willing to expose your midriff? . . . Maybe it’s your hips: Is there no A-line skirt out there that can hide hips that bear witness to every Krispy Kreme you’ve wolfed down? Maybe it’s those pesky spider veins, crisscrossing the backs of your legs like road maps of the East Coast. I could go on and on. . . .

That’s the bad news. But we’re positive thinkers here, and we’re going to leave harsh reality behind. Instead, let’s conjure that wonderful phrase again: “What if?”4

This does indeed seem to be how many of you look at yourselves. You ignore the big picture (which can be very attractive) and become obsessed with the details (which are never ever going to be perfect). I’ve listened to many beautiful women put themselves down because of this or that flaw. Sometimes I’ve stared and thought, Huh? What are you talking about? I literally could not see what they believed to be so obvious.

I once heard a young woman talking about how fat she was and how she needed to go on a diet. I asked her how much she weighed (yes, she was a good friend or I wouldn’t have dared), and she said, “I’m up to 120.” I shook my head. “Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?” I asked her. “There’s not another person on this planet who would call you fat.” And she began to argue with me, explaining that her clothes were tight and she had flab on her rear end and the backs of her thighs.

Please get this: what you see when you look in a mirror is not what everyone else sees. (Unless, of course, you’re the world’s tallest woman, but that’s another story.) Most people—guys especially—see the big picture. Yes, we are famous for checking out certain parts of the female anatomy, but that’s in our God-given DNA. I still contend that most of us are not looking for or expecting perfection. We’re smart enough to know that the glossy centerfold has had her pimples and moles and cellulite airbrushed into oblivion . . . and without her makeup on looks pretty much like any other woman.

I believe one of the best and healthiest things you could do for yourself would be to give up the microscopic scrutiny of every square inch of your body . . . and the whining and complaining that go along with it. I also believe God would appreciate not having to listen to you dis his handiwork. Remember, that nose you hate is a one-of-a-kind original designed by the master artist himself.

[B head] Myth #3: What You See Makes or Breaks Your Love Life

The movie version of the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical Hairspray released in theaters all across America in July 2007. My wife, Marilyn, loves musicals and so do I, so we were among the first to see it. We enjoyed it, but what really blew us away was how stridently it contradicts the message pop culture tries to hammer into our heads.

Set in 1962, the story focuses on Tracy Turnblad, a high school girl with big hair and even bigger dreams. She fantasizes about being one of the featured dancers on a locally produced American Bandstand–style television show. She also happens to think the lead dancer, Link Larkin, is the hunk to end all hunks. But alas, Tracy is considerably overweight. All the other dancers on the show are slim and trim, especially Link’s girlfriend, a snooty, drop-dead gorgeous blonde who happens to be the lead dancer. Even Tracy’s overweight mother (played hilariously by John Travolta) discourages her from trying out for a spot on the show, because she fears Tracy will only be humiliated. And as far as Tracy’s crush on Link goes, everybody knows a good-looking guy would never be interested in a girl with a weight problem.

But two hours and several production numbers later, the movie closes with Tracy and Link kissing center screen while snooty Miss Drop-Dead Gorgeous pouts in the background. Final score: size 16–1, size 5–0.

Unrealistic, you say?

I beg to differ.

Open your eyes and look around. The world is full of Tracy Turnblads, women who are not prototypical beauties according to society’s standards but who more than make up for it with character and personality. They often end up riding into the sunset with the love of their lives, while more than a few so-called beauties in this world spend their lives bouncing from relationship to relationship and never find true happiness.

The other day Marilyn and I were in a restaurant when a family of four walked in and took a table nearby. Dad was a handsome guy, fit and clean-cut. The kids were preschoolers, cute as they could be. And mom was, well . . . let’s just say she wasn’t going to win the Mrs. America pageant anytime soon. But there she sat, with a handsome husband, two cute kids, and a smile on her face.

I looked at Marilyn and said, “There sits Tracy Turnblad.”

Don’t think for a minute that because you aren’t centerfold material you have no shot at love. It just isn’t true. The next time you’re in a restaurant, at a ball game, or strolling though the mall, just look around at the couples. You’ll see Tracy Turnblads everywhere.

[A head] Drawing the Line

This morning when I signed on to AOL, a link to seven “beauty secrets” for women appeared. With everything you’ve just read fresh on my mind, I had to click on it. What I found were some very interesting products. Among them:

Control-It! Omega3 Nail Biting Cream. It’s odorless, invisible, and will not stain. But it tastes bad. No way you’re going to munch your pinkies with this stuff on. They say it’s guaranteed to give you beautiful nails in no time. No self-discipline required.

Fake Bake, Sunless and Skinny. The name says it all. It’s a cream that promises to tan, firm, and tone you all at the same time while you kick back and relax. Must be the seaweed it contains that does the trick.

But my favorite was Poutrageous Lip Plumper, “the answer to achieving the perfectly plump pout seen in all the magazines.” That claim alone should guarantee millions in sales.

Knowing where to draw the line in the pursuit of beauty and romantic fulfillment is one of the biggest challenges you face as a woman. All kinds of products, treatments, and surgeries promise to work miracles on your appearance, and their suppliers will try everything they can think of (including trashing your self-esteem) to get you to fork over your hard-earned money. Let’s face it. It’s in their interest to keep you believing those mirror myths I just addressed. The uglier you think you are . . . the more desperate you feel . . . the more you believe your looks will determine your happiness . . . the more you feel compelled to compete with that saucy little number in the next cubicle—the better the chance they have of getting into your pocketbook.

You simply must draw a line.

No, I’m not saying your bathroom should look like a man’s. I realize a girl needs her stuff. But at some point you need to slam on the brakes and say, “Enough is enough. I can be happy, feel good about myself, and have an interesting love life whether or not I achieve the perfectly plump pout seen in all the magazines.”

The challenge is knowing where to draw the line.

Allow me to offer three suggestions.

[B head] Suggestion #1: Embrace Reality

Do not, under any circumstances, deny who and what you are. Not long ago MTV created a show called I Want a Famous Face. It featured young people who were willing to undergo plastic surgery in order to look like their favorite celebrities. Ridiculous, you say? Indeed! But before you bang the gavel and pronounce yourself innocent, realize that you can make the same mistake in nonsurgical ways.

In her book God Chicks, Holly Wagner talks about the time she abandoned her God-given nature in an effort to become like a couple of older women who were successful Bible teachers:

I imitated these women in their teaching styles, their mannerisms, and their dress—all because I felt that if they were successful, then I needed to become like them. What an idiot I was!! One day as I was wrestling with my fifth pair of panty hose, and I was complaining about the sadistic man (I’m sure it was a man!) who invented them, I heard the Spirit of God laughing at me. (He does laugh, you know!) I felt that God was asking me what I was doing. I assured Him that I was getting dressed so I could go teach, and I was putting on panty hose because my two heroes wore panty hose and I needed to be like them in order to fulfill my destiny on earth. The Father quickly assured me that He didn’t need me to be like them. They were fine being themselves, and He didn’t need anyone else doing their jobs. He did, however, have a job for me to do on the planet, and He would empower me as soon as I was comfortable being who He created me to be.5

It’s not unusual to see both men and women living in denial when it comes to their appearance. The guy who wears a severe comb-over or the woman who’s still squeezing herself into size 8 jeans even though she hasn’t actually been a size 8 since the first Bush became president—both are living in fantasy worlds. So is the sixty-year-old grandma with bleached blonde hair and short shorts. So is the teenage girl with the bare midriff who looks like she just swallowed a football. Holly Wagner says she sensed God laughing as she, a non-panty-hose kind of girl, wrestled her panty hose like a python.

I can buy the notion of him chuckling at some of our fashion misadventures, but I can’t help wondering if there comes a point where he finds it all a little heartbreaking. When we refuse to be ourselves, aren’t we saying something about his handiwork?

I speak for a whole bunch of guys when I say that a woman who recognizes and embraces her reality is far more attractive than a woman who goes around every day wearing what amounts to a Halloween costume.

[B head] Suggestion #2: Build Your Look from the Inside Out

The apostle Peter wrote, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” (1 Peter 3:3, 4). When Peter says not to be concerned about outward beauty, I don’t believe he means you should get up and go to work with bed head and bad breath. He’s simply saying that true beauty flows from the inside out.

Isn’t it true that people get better looking on the outside when you get to know them and realize they are beautiful on the inside? And it works in reverse too. I’ve met many beautiful women who, when I realized they were self-centered or immoral, suddenly started looking very ordinary. I believe this explains how women who might be considered homely or unattractive end up having extraordinary romantic relationships. What they lack in outer beauty, they more than make up for with inner beauty. And because men are spiritual beings as well as physical, we’re powerfully drawn to those beautiful inner qualities.

Sadly, even though good character is the greatest beauty secret of them all, you will probably never see it listed alongside the lip plumpers and tanning creams, online or anywhere else. Oh, and one more thing—I don’t know what a six-month supply of Poutrageous Lip Plumper costs, but I know that good character is free.

[B head] Suggestion #3: Be Modest

I’ll talk more about this in the next chapter, but it bears mentioning here. As you try to decide where to draw the line in your pursuit of beauty and romantic fulfillment, you’re going to be tempted to believe that tighter and skimpier is sexier. Trust me when I tell you that every day we guys see women we wish would put more clothes on.

When I see a woman dressed immodestly, I wonder if she’s trying to fill a void in her life. Is she feeling insignificant and crying out to be noticed? Is loneliness driving her to pull out all the stops in an effort to snag a companion? Do the lustful stares of strangers help her stave off the whispers of tattered self-esteem? Perhaps not in every case, but it isn’t unusual for inner struggles to produce highly visible attitudes and behaviors.

The apostle Paul wrote, “I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do” (1 Timothy 2:9, 10). I once heard a woman who had just read those verses say, “It sounds like God wants us all to be frumpy.” (By frumpy she meant matronly, unattractive, the opposite of sexy.) This is a classic example of how Satan has brainwashed us. The very notion that modesty isn’t sexy has the devil’s fingerprints all over it. I’m convinced that there are millions of men who actually prefer a classy, modestly dressed woman to one who looks cheap and trashy. And the men who don’t aren’t worth your time anyway.

Jesus said, “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you” (John 15:19). This business of coming out of the world is the real issue here. It could mean different things to different people, but for a woman in our modern culture it certainly means wrestling with that image in the mirror. And wrestling might even be an understatement if you’ve been plugged into the world’s mind-set your whole life and are just now starting to realize that God has a different plan for you. Breaking free of culture’s grip and adopting a whole new way of thinking, dressing, and acting might be the biggest challenge you’ll ever face. Old habits die kicking and screaming.

But they do die if someone cares enough to kill them.

And they need to die if you want to be free.

As long as you allow the myths in the mirror to dictate the way you dress, act, and feel about yourself, you will be ruling out a world of wonderful possibilities. You might feel that the more you doll yourself up, the more your horizons expand. But I believe the opposite is true. The more makeup you layer on, the shorter your hemline gets, the more risqué your conversations become, the fewer decent men will be interested in you. Oh sure, you’ll grab their attention; but just remember, the monkeys at the zoo grab their attention too. That doesn’t mean they want to take one home.

You have a choice. As a woman, you can work to become what culture says you ought to be or what God says you ought to be. Ultimately, your choice and your future will be determined by what you believe when you stand in front of that mirror.
So Much More Than Sexy

Do you feel anxious about your looks? Is there something (or maybe more than one thing) about your looks that you’ve always hated? Do you have a tendency to compare yourself to other women? What’s the most radical thing (funny or serious) you’ve ever done to try to improve your looks?

Do you agree that character is the greatest beauty secret of them all? Can you name people who have become more beautiful in your eyes as you have gotten to know their character? What improvements could you make in your character that might make you more beautiful?

Read 1 Peter 3:3, 4. Up to this point in your life, have you worked harder on your looks or your inner qualities? What are some specific inner qualities you could cultivate that would make you more beautiful?

So Much More Than Sexy

Mark Atteberry

Published by Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, Ohio

Copyright © 2009 by Mark Atteberry

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for brief quotations in reviews, without the written permission of the publisher.

Substantive editor: Diane Stortz

Project editor: Lynn Lusby Pratt

Cover design: Susan Koski Zucker

Interior design:

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation second edition. Copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc. 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920.

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