Category: Reviews


“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God…?” Romans 11:33 (MSG)

 

This was my fourth time to attend the WOF Conferences and, to be completely honest, I wasn’t planning on going this year.  They had decided to split the core group of speakers and welcome “some new friends to the porch.” While I was certain that these new “friends” were wonderful women, I was not excited about missing-out on hearing from Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll, and Mary Graham. Besides…I had heard their inspiring messages before.  What new messages of hope, love, and encouragement could they possibly be bringing to Oklahoma City?  Fortunately, God had other plans…I was contacted and selected by Thomas Nelson Publishing through their blogger program Booksneeze, to be their guest at this years conference and to write about my experience.

 

I am so thankful and overjoyed that I went.  As Patsy Clairmont says, “Change can be good.”

 

I have decided to make two posts regarding the WOF conference so that I can fully share the wisdom that was given during this two day conference.

If you have never attended one of these events, it is difficult to fully explain the experience.  No matter who your are, where you are from, or what is going on in your life, the stories shared here will resonate with you.  Even having heard the narratives of Marilyn Meberg, Patsy Clairmont, and Lisa Whelchel before, I realized that the stories shared at this event were different; moreover, that I was in such a different place in my life as well. I have already found myself sharing the truth of “more” and finding real contentment, as shared by Marilyn Meberg, with several of my patients over this past week.  The testimonies of each of these incredible women (and wonderful man–Andy Andrews) were poignant, transparent, and pointed fully to the power of God in each of their lives.  Each of the speakers share with such intimacy, despite being with 7,000 of your closest girlfriends, that you leave feeling like you really know each of them and share a special bond.

 

And then there’s the music…

There is nothing more moving than singing worship with 7,000 women.  I still get chills thinking about singing  Revelation Song as led by the four talented women of the Rejoice   Worship Team.  The entire Chesapeake Arena was energized as we danced & sang with Mandisa and the Worship Team. Amy Grant shared a very intimate and beautiful concert with us that concluded with the entire WOF lineup dancing on the stage with her.  I am always in awe of the incredible talent of Sandi Patty and so grateful to be able to hear her sing my favorite song, The Prayer with her husband Don Peslis.

It was an energizing weekend filled with truth, wisdom, renewal, and hope….truly it was Over the Top.

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Laugh and Be Married!

Review:  Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage by Mark Gungor

After one of my dear friends proclaimed that this book, “Laugh Your Way  Better Marriage” had saved her marriage, I decided to check it out for myself.  After reading the first section, I actually found myself laughing out loud.  Mr. Gungor presents a very solid look at marriages: the myths, realities, and land mines that can occur.  Gungor begins with the supposition that there is no such thing as a “soul mate” and that relationships succeed by learning to live well with the person chosen to be one’s mate.  He presents the “Laws of Marriage Physics”, most of which have been well established in various books on male-female relationships (men and women are different and have different wants, needs, and communication styles), in such a way that is both insightful and entertaining.  I found myself in agreement with most of Mr. Gungor’s assessments and advice: “Marriage takes courage…discipline…endurance…forgiveness.”  I recommend this book for any couple in any stage of marriage.  While most of the information is not novel, it is refreshing to find a book that doesn’t encourage people to “follow their bliss” but rather teaches them how to work together and cultivate their relationship skills.

The Invisible Woman: A Special Story for Mothers by Nicole Johnson

The Invisible Woman is a small, gift-book that I became aware of after seeing Nicole Johnson, a dramatist with Women of Faith.  I was fortunate to see her perform the monologue of the same name which tells the tale that is so familiar to many women who are wives and mothers: the tale of becoming “Invisible”, her term for being under-appreciated and unnoticed.  Johnson takes a profoundly different approach to this predicament: instead of promoting the need for validation by suggesting ways to gain applause and demanding attention to oneself, she promotes a very different perspective of service.  Through the journey of Charlotte Fisher, Johnson guides the reader into an appreciation for the “big picture”.  Johnson compares motherhood to being one of the countless, nameless workers who built the cathedrals in Europe; who did so not for their own glory but for the greater glory of the ultimate project.  This insightful book would make a sweet gift for any mother or grandmother, but will especially encourage any woman who is feeling “less than” because the position of “mom” isn’t compensated by prestige or money.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

by Bob Stahl, PhD and Elisha Goldstein, PhD

I have a confession: I am a huge fan of Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founder/father of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a non-religious form of meditation, that is based on training our consciousness to be in the “present moment”.  This type of meditation can be learned though attending 8-week MBSR classes or clinics (of which there are presently none in Oklahoma), figuring it out from Kabat-Zinn’s book: Full Catastrophe Living, or by attending professional training programs.  Dr. Kabat-Zinn leads such programs through the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY and Watsonville, CA…neither of which are convenient to Edmond Oklahoma.  While I may still attend one of these courses eventually, I was thrilled to find another option:  “A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook.” Written by two of Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s students, Bob Stahl, PhD and Elisha Goldstein, PhD., this workbook presents Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Stress Reduction program (MBSR) in an easily accessible workbook-style that is intended for self-study by individuals.

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook does a wonderful job of leading the individual step-by-step into a meditative practice while explaining the mind-body connections.  It includes mp3 files of guided meditations, a “must” for beginners, and includes sections on mind-body yoga as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches for anxiety and stress. Although it would be preferable to attend the full eight week MBSR program, this workbook is a delight for those who are unable to do so, yet desire the benefits of mindful living.

 

The Art of Comforting: What to Say and Do for People in Distress by Val Walker

Do you ever hesitate to say something to someone who has just lost a loved one or experienced some other tragedy for fear of saying the wrong thing?  Is the thought of spending time with someone who is grieving or even just crying anxiety provoking? If so, The Art of Comforting may be the book for you.  In our fast-paced world, comforting has become a lost art.  With each step we take away from face-to-face communication in favor of texting and emoticons, we grow increasingly unfamiliar and unskilled with expressing real compassion and warmth to others who are experiencing distress.

With The Art of Comforting, Val Walker has written “the book she needed but could not find.”  Ms. Walker contrasts the “quick-fix” ways of mainstream culture while clearly delineating the characteristic of being “comforting.”  She expands on many of these characteristic, including: being present & listening, empathetic, respectful, calm, hopeful, validating, and others.  Throughout the book, she shares the wisdom she’s gleaned from interviewing some “comforting professionals.”  Ms. Walker provides useful lists of “do’s & don’ts” as well as “less helpful & more helpful” statements.  The book concludes with lists of comforting things: books, movies, and music. However the items included here are not entirely intuitive. Did she really need to include music by The Pussycat Dolls and the movie Mad Max? Despite being somewhat disorganized and rambling at times, this is a good review of a much needed subject. (expected release date: 10/28/10)

I was inspired by one of my patients who reads a chapter from Proverbs each day as her daily devotional.  I thought this sounded like a great idea; after all, Proverbs is one of the original “self-help books” and contains such incredible wisdom such as “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver” (Prov 16:16) and “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov 17:22) However, Proverbs also holds such admonitions such as “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” (Prov 11:22) and “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Prov 21:2) I quickly found myself discouraged, convicted, and wanting to abandon my devotional.

Fortunately, I soon discovered a a book by one of my favorite people from Women of Faith, Patsy Clairmont: Kaleidoscope: Seeing God’s Wit and Wisdom in a Whole New Light.  Described as a “whimsical look at Proverbs”, Mrs. Clairmont approaches Proverbs with chapters devoted to topics and particular verses.  Mrs. Clairmont’s lighthearted, humorous, yet faithful examination of Proverbs is very pleasant, easy-to-read, and encouraging.  This book is intended as a daily devotional, with 33 short chapters, but could be read straight-through as well.  I recommend it to anyone looking to explore Biblical wisdom in a non-intimidating way, with applications for our present-day lives.

50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behaviorby Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry Beyerstein.

Do most people in their 40’s to early 50’s experience a midlife crisis? Do psychiatric admissions go up during a full moon? Can playing Mozart to infants boost their intelligence? Do most people only use 10% of their brain power? Is low self-esteem a major cause of psychological problems?

From Oprah and Dr. Oz to the nightly news, we are constantly exposed to psychological concepts on a daily basis.  While some of this information is factual and can be useful, a great deal of what we believe to be true is actually myth and misconception.  Professors Lilienfeld, Lynn, and Ruscio have taken on the task of “Mythbusting” in the field of Psychomythology.  This is a refreshing and fun look at many of the concepts that have been accepted as fact by our popular culture.  It is refreshing to find a scientific, evidence-based approach to psychological ideas in a time that has become so dominated by subjective experience.  This books reviews 50 of the most popular psychological myths and explores both the facts and misconceptions  surrounding each of these topics.  This book is sure to spur interesting conversations at your next cocktail party or social gathering.  Prepare to join the ranks of the Mythbusters as you will soon be equipped to set the record straight.

The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist’s Reflections on Healing in a Changing World by Dora Calott Wang, M.D.

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a psychiatrist? To know the intimate thoughts and struggles that go on in the minds of those who are charged with the restoration of health and well-being? The Kitchen Shrink might be the book for you.

The Kitchen Shrink is a beautifully written memoir by Dr. Dora Wang detailing her life as a psychiatrist, wife, and mother and her experience of the shift that has occurred in medicine over the past twenty years.  Dr. Wang is an incredibly gifted writer and storyteller.  Unfortunately, the story she has to share is not as beautiful: there has been a paradigm shift away from patient-centered, “cradle-to-grave” medicine to a more business-centered, insurance driven model that focuses, not on quality, but rather on efficiencies–where the patient has been removed from the center of attention and remade as a “cog” in the health care machine.  I found myself wanting to share my patient-care stories with Dr. Wang as I read her poignant and all-too-familiar accounts.  While I know that her story is both emotionally-wrenching and true, I am left to wonder who, outside of physicians and those interested in health care reform, will find and read this book. While Dr. Wang does not suggest any specific health care reform options, she does a wonderful job of illuminating many of the problems with our current state of health care while reminding us of medicine’s noble history as the healing art.  Through the intimacy shared in her writing, Dr. Wang feels like a kindred-spirit in the quest for balance, happiness, and contentment.  I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Lost in Time

Review: Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern

One of my favorite lectures from residency was on “Unchangeables.” This list of core characteristics, thought to be unalterable, included such things as empathy, sense of aesthetics, sense of direction, being a “reader”, organizational ability, and sense of time.  With the permission afforded me by this list, I have spend many years indulging in “tardiness.”  I would tell myself, “I can’t help being late, I have an imperfect sense of time.”   I routinely get lost in activities and lose track of time, or miscalculate how much time a particular activity will take, and I am always late.  This defect in my “sense of time” has caused a great deal of consternation in our family as I am married to a man with a perfect sense of both time and organization. Needless-to-say, he doesn’t buy into my excuse nor does he care about “timeliness” being an unchangeable.  So in an attempt to maintain peace and harmony in our home, I went in search for the seemingly impossible: a way to become aware of time.

What I found was a book: Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. Ms. Morgenstern promises a “foolproof system for taking control of your schedule and your life.”  What she delivers is a system of time organization that takes into account the individual’s quirks and shortcomings.  She begins by having the individual do a “three level diagnostic” looking for particular obstacles, then teaches several pneumonic driven “take-charge” programs (WADE: write it down, Add it Up, Decide, Execute your plan; the 4 D’s: Delete, Delay, Diminish, Delegate).  Ms. Morgenstern’s strength lies in her organizational expertise and she applies her strategies adeptly to “time.”  While I will likely always struggle with accurately predicting how long it will take me to do a particular thing, it’s encouraging to learn and implement some strategies to prevent my particular time management challenges from derailing my entire day.  If you find yourself frustrated at the end of the day, asking where the time went, this may be the book to help you “Analyze, Strategize, & Attack” your way into better time management.

Are you always searching for “something more?”  Do you identify with any of the following drives or characteristics:

  • Extreme Confidence
  • Constant Need for New Challenges
  • Need for Recognition based on Performance, not gender
  • Greatest pleasures come from work place achievements
  • Learn best from Experience

Have you been frustrated by managers or situations that don’t challenge you to grow, provide opportunities for connecting, or sufficient validation?  This may be the book for you.

Always searching for tools, tricks, and tips to share with my girlfriends and patients, I was thrilled when presented with the opportunity to review Marcia Reynolds’Wander Woman. (obligatory disclosure: I received a review copy of the book at no cost with no obligation to provide a positive review) Going beyond the traditional call for finding “balance”, Wander Woman presents as a self-help book for “high-achieving women who are confident, ambitious, driven yet anxious, discontented, and above all, restless.”  This book succeeds in this endeavor and is a fascinating character study as well.

Dr. Reynolds begins by defining what constitutes a “Wander Woman” and explores the conditions that have contributed to the formation of such persons.  She then describes the process of “intentional transformation” and does a beautiful job of elucidating the many archetypes that characterize the various aspects of one’s personality: the Victim, the Saboteur, the Rebel, and so on…  Dr. Reynolds utilizes her masterful coaching expertise to provide specific exercises to aid in the discovery and development of these aspects of personality, provides instruction on correcting distortions of thoughts (“debunking your assumptions”), as well as gives specific directions on how to gain useful insight through the technique of “Appreciative Dialogue.”

Although I initially was interested in this book as it would apply to others, I quickly found myself relating to this Wander Woman phenomenon…with one exception: I no longer feel the need to “wander.”  I was fortunate enough to find and create the conditions I needed for contentment and fulfillment in my personal and professional life by becoming self-employed.  This solution, while appropriate in my situation, is not an option for many.  Fortunately, this book guides women through the process of self-discovery and provides specific resources for developing a “conscious strategy to find your direction and plan for your future.”

I recommend this book to any woman interested in introspection, not just those who set out to become “high-achievers.”  Wander Woman is full of great insights and is a wonderful exercise in personal development and transformation for any woman who wants “to know what they can accomplish in this lifetime without feeling exhausted and lonely in the end.”

(from the publisher)

Dr. Marcia Reynolds is fascinated by the brain, especially the nuances of the female brain. She is a master certified coach with a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing on the needs and challenges of smart, strong women in the workplace. She travels around the world speaking at conferences and teaching classes in leadership, emotional intelligence and organizational change. Her book Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction was released this summer.

You can read more about the book at wanderwomanbook.com and follow the author on Facebookand Twitter.