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FeminineAppealCarolynMaha5989_f In Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, Girl Talk blogger and wife of pastor/author CJ Mahaney, tackles the famous and often debated Titus 2 passage  toward women focusing on the seven virtues as a godly wife and mother.

Titus 2:4-5 – “…and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure,working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Over all I enjoyed this book and found it helpful, not so much in changing my own views and opinions as they are already much in line with out Mahaney lays out. I found the book encouraging and helpful in that I feel I can better explain and talk about those more controversial aspects of the passage. Particularly the phrase that woman are to be “working at home,” which in the Greek literally means to work at home.

I’ve known many women to struggle with this, myself included, and I have to say that Mahaney’s interpretation is probably the best I’ve heard. Simply put, a woman’s greatest sphere of influence is the home and other endeavors may take her outside of the home (work or volunteer, etc), but her main focus is to be on serving her family and managing her home. If she can make commitments outside of the home as long as it isn’t to the detriment of her family. As Mahaney puts it, “Working at home must always remain a constant and ongoing priority in our lives” (104).

One thing that didn’t sit so well with me was how in some passages she described the managing of the home as the woman’s sole responsibility. Portions of the chapter came across that a woman should, essentially, take care of everything home-related to free up her husband to fulfill his tasks. While I’m not opposed to being the one “in charge” of managing the home it could come across that a man should not have to have any duties around the home. He should be completely served. I’m sure this is not what Mahaney is saying, but it definitely could be construed that way.

Toward the end of the book transitions seemed weak and connections between ideas lacking at times. It almost felt like there was a rush, but I also tried to keep in mind that this book originated in a series of talks Mahaney gave. Overall, I enjoyed, found the book helpful, and would recommend it.

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lgHidden-Art-of-HomemakingI don’t remember where I first saw this book, but I was intrigued. The Hidden Art of Homemaking? Sign me up! Of course, Edith Schaeffer isn’t really talking about a secret to managing your home, although I wish there was a secret or at least an “easy” button.

But the idea of “hidden art” is interesting. When Schaeffer says “hidden art” what she means is “the art which is found in the ‘minor’ areas of life. By ‘minor’ I mean what is involved in the ‘everyday’ of anyone’s life, rather than his career or profession. Each person, I believe, has some talent which is unfulfilled in some ‘hidden area’ of his being, and which could be expressed and developed” (31).

Everyone has a gift, some talent, that they can use to enrich their lives, home, and the lives of others around them. She goes on to say that when we don’t use those gifts in our everyday life it can have negative effects on the way we view ourselves and others.

We may think ‘If only…’ –If only I weren’t so tied down with the mundane things of life. If only I had a chance to go to art school. If only I had time to develop instead of being caught in this job. If only I hadn’t this endless round of housework and crying babies to overwhelm me. ‘If only…’ feelings can distort our personalities, and give us an obsession which can only lead to more and more dissatisfaction, as well as making us into ‘Eeyore-ish’ and uncomfortable-to-be-with people! (33)

Edith Schaffer approaches this “hidden art” mentality from the Christian perspective. She puts forth, and I think rightly so, that man is made in the image of a creative God and

a Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively. We are supposed to be representing teh Creator who is there, and whom we acknowledge to be there. It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator (32).

The book contains many useful and practical suggestions for using our own hidden art. Some chapters are music, interior decorating, gardening, food, drama, clothes, flower arranging, and painting among others.

I liked how Schaffer continued to emphasize throughout the book that it is not practical to attempt to do everything. She reminds the reader that we are finite creatures who are limited by choice, (often) talent, and resources and are not expected nor should we expect ourselves to pursue every area of ‘hidden art’ there may be.

Two things I really took away from the book were

  1. Suppressing our talents and desires for the creative does very little to help or fulfill us. More often than not it leaves us frustrated that our current circumstances are not conducive to our dreams and goals, which often times makes us bitter and disgruntled.
  2. All too often we wait for the right circumstances before we start our “dream,” whether it be planting a garden, learning a certain style of cooking, writing a novel, building a house, or learning to play an instrument. Schaffer’s advice is not to wait until “all the circumstances are what  you think they must be before you will find it worthwhile to start. You have started, whether you recognize that fact or not” (77).

That I think is the ultimate take-away from The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Pursue your talents, your dreams. Don’t wait until the “right” time presents itself and everything is aligned. Start something today, whatever desire you have milling around in your head. If you want to plant a garden, but live in an apartment begin with a container garden. If you want to write, pick up and start writing whether you have a story mapped out or not. Just do something.

“The only way to start, is to start.”

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radical_womanhood_webRadical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World wasn’t exactly what I expected. I thought there would be a greater emphasis on what radical womanhood from a biblical standpoint looked like. That being said, this is an amazing book and wonderful resource for understanding how feminism has shaped our culture and altered Christianity in America.

This is a must-read for women, whether Christian or not. This book goes beyond the surface of what we think feminism is or was (burning bras, anyone?). I for one, grew up thinking feminism was a good idea or at least what I thought it was. I wouldn’t have called myself a feminist. I knew men were important and vital to society and family, but that didn’t stop me from “breaking an ego” (as my friends and I called it) or saying that I can (or should) be able to do anything a guy could do. I’m thankful I realized the truth before I cracked into The Feminine Mystique.

Radical Womanhood takes you on a journey of the history of feminism, its implications for society and the Church, and what the Scriptures have to say. It’s a very easy to read and written in a friendly manner, with real life stories following each chapter. What I really enjoyed about this book, aside from the history lesson, is that McCulley articulates so well the response I wish I had in discussing biblical womanhood in today’s world.

Why do you need to read this book? As the author, Carolyn McCulley puts it,

…chances are that there are aspects of your femininity that have been negatively impacted by feminism, no matter how you identify yourself now. That’s why I believe it is important to examine the history of feminism, how it has affected our culture and our churches, and how its claims stand up to the teaching of Scripture. (p. 28)

The objective to gain

a better understanding of why God made men and women in His image–two sexes, equal in worth and dignity–and why He assigns different roles to us in order to accomplish His purposes in His kingdom.

McCulley blogs at Radical Womanhood.

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9781433502095I cannot say enough good things about this book. At first, I must admit, I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting something that was a little more deeper theologically. But Wendy Alsurper didn’t disappoint either.

Practical Theology explores the basics of theology, the study of the nature of God, and how it relates to our lives in practical ways.

The basic premise of Practical Theology for Women is to live your life based on the truth of who God is. It’s simply stated, but so profound.

Who God is and how we respond to life circumstances are in direct correlation with each other. If we know God to be faithful, then even in the most dire of circumstances we have hope. If we know God to be just, then we can be assured wrongs will be righted. If we know God to be loving, then we will have no fear in confessing our sins. If we know God to be Father, then we can trust his guidance.

The problem, as the author Wendy Alsup puts it, is “some of us don’t know the truth of the character of God” (p.99). We know of God. We know about God. We know stories of God. But, oftentimes, we don’t live as if we truly know God and he is real.

That’s what this book is about.

As I was reading this book, I posted about it a few times on my other blog (Reflections of a Princess). You can read those posts here, here, here, and here.

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