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Book Review:: Set Free to Live Free by Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D.

3 May

By Donna Landis Because Saundra Dalton-Smith is an internal medicine physician whose patients are mainly women, she brings a unique emotional and physical perspective to her book, Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves. Dalton-Smith identifies these lies as Perfection (Perfection Is the Goal), Envy (I Would Be Happy Too If I Had Her Life), Image (If I Do This I Can Look Like That), Balance (Life Is an All-or-None Activity),  Control (Being In Control Is Better Than Spontaneity), Emotions (Emotional Imbalance Is Only for Crazy Women) and Limits (Everything Comes with Conditions).

When I perused the seven lies, I realized I needed to read this book because as a woman I tell myself and believe many lies. While the beginning of the book did not grab me, I was drawn into the book as I explored the seven lies. Dr. Dalton-Smith discusses the way we women continue to tell ourselves untruths that affect the way we live our lives.  Consequently, we do not enjoy life or bring glory to God. Instead, we live a life of bondage to a mind-set that paralyzes the joy and freedom that God so wondrously wants to give us.

One of the most helpful and most powerful aspects of this book is the inclusion of many passages of Scripture to set right ways (God’s ways) of thinking into our self-talk. Various translations of Scripture are used to promote understanding of God’s intentions for us in expelling those seven lies from our lives and replacing them with God’s truth of love, joy, and freedom. I plan to re-read several of these chapters to continue to decimate the hold these lies have had on my life. More importantly,Set Free to Live Free points me to reading and believing the Bible so God’s truth will indwell my life continually.

You can download a sample chapter of the book by heading over to Baker Books or by clicking here.

Donna Landis is a retired teacher (over 30 years of teaching kindergarteners was enough).  She has one daughter, Amy, who is the head honcho of Backseat Writer.  She lives in Pennsylvania and owns a cute dog named Katie.

*Thanks to Baker Publishing Group for my review copy of this book!*




Additionally, between now and May 6, Set Free to Live Free Facebook fans can enter to win a Free Mom Care Package complete with a $100 Visa Gift Card to pamper yourself, flowers delivered to your door, and an autographed copy of Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves to break loose into freedom in every area of your life. Make sure you click “like” on the Facebook Page to become a fan and then click on the “Promos” tab on the far left to view the contest instructions and enter.

Which of the 7 lies do you find to be most pressing? Guys, what lies do the ladies in your life struggle with (or perhaps you struggle, too)?

Put On A Happy Face :(

13 Jun

The past few months, I try to blog when I feel happy. While there have been some “downer” posts here and there, for the most part I’ve been either upbeat or ranting or humorous (at least I think I’m funny). I’ve mentioned before that there’s a high cost of being real and admitting your struggles, even obvious ones to others. Who wants to be criticized for being vulnerable when already in a vulnerable state? Then again, someone’s got to be real or everyone will continue to masquerade through life never touching on what really matters.

So as I run my fingers across the keyboard this evening, I can admit that I’m melancholy. In fact, the rims of my eyes are still red from crying. I’m hormonal, Father’s Day is on Sunday (always hard), I hate the way I look, I feel lonely, I think I should be doing more with my life at 28, and I’m tired of writing about people who have way better lives than me. There, I said it. At least part of it. I’m sure there’s more crammed down there.

It all hurts and at first, I felt helpless. Then I remembered something from the introduction to A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren, something that brought me comfort in a time of deep sorrow. McLaren was going though a personal crisis of belief and felt suicidal. Finally, it dawned on him–if he could do something as radical as take his own life, then he could do something radical to change it for the better.

Of course, being me, I have a long list of things I should change and I want to do everything right away so I can be perfect and person that God can use. Obviously, I’m much too flawed in my present state to be of use to anyone. I mean, did you ever look in the mirror and take stock of your life and wonder, “Gee, why do people even want to hang out with me”? That’s how low I’m feeling.

Despite how I feel, I know that God views me as more, as someone precious in His image (even though I feel like the farthest thing from the image of God at the moment). Yes, I can make some changes, but let’s face it–I’m not gonna be financially blessed, married (or engaged!), have a job I absolutely love AND pays the bills, and live a fabulous life with amazing details that are in the mind of God right this second! And it’s so easy to see that I do have enough, I am doing something that I love (sometimes), and I have a best friend who is dearer than a sister. Oh, and let’s not forget my adorable dogs and bird.

I know that this, too, will pass. As I write, the rage I feel towards myself is fading because I am reminding myself of God’s truth. But it’s still there, in the pit of my stomach. I’ve heard people “pray” about deliverance and they find immediate recovery from these thoughts. That’s never been my experience though…I’ve wrestled with these things until I’m exhausted and even then wrestled some more. Yet I always arrive at truth…eventually.

There, I’ve done it. The mask is off and I’m letting you in on a bit of what’s rattling through my brain. I hope this helps someone out there realize he or she isn’t alone, that someone else has felt the same way.

Wii Be Fat

19 May

This is actually the Japanese Wii Fit box.  I’m pretty sure i couldn’t stand on one leg with my arms in the air.

Wii Fit which debuts May 19 in the U.S. was released last month in Europe (is it me or do they get everything first?) and apparently the game told an active 10 year-old girl that she was “fat” using the highly accurate body mass index (BMI). The BMI conversions don’t accurately measure the fitness of children.

Watch an exciting video about Wii Fit…

Naturally, the girl and her parents were upset that Wii Fit called the little girl “fat” and have caused an uproar (full story). Seeing the error of their ways, Nintendo has apologized to the family. Here’s a quote from the article about Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, “Fry, however, thinks the measurement is misleading and he’d like to see children banned from playing the game.”

OK, the measurements are wacky so kids should be banned from playing the game entirely? Huh? Aren’t we going a little overboard here? Tell the kids that the system is messed up and let them play on Wii Fit. I’ve heard people say, “Kids get fat and lazy from sitting around and playing too many video games.” Now there’s actually a game system that allows people to be actively amuse and a game is being banned for telling a girl she’s fat? Am I missing something?

Although, I am not encouraged to work out when I enter my height and weight into the BMI. It seems too impossible to get into that “perfect” range. Sometimes I just want to give up and go out for ice cream. Or I feel too fat to go to the gym or the pool…TO LOSE WEIGHT! How can one be too fat to lose weight? Yeah, we women struggle with our weight issues in interesting ways. I’d probably feel the same way if I had Wii Fit. As if everyone else in the world doesn’t tell me I’m fat, now my fitness video game is doing the same. Yeah, time to raid the fridge.

Whether Wii Fit or those pesky numbers on the scale or the image in our minds, how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us is only part of the bigger picture–there’s the way that God sees us. God created in us a beauty we can never understand, and though sin has ravaged our bodies and distorted our ideas of self, we remain in His image. It is so hard to accept who we are in Christ and the truth of what God calls us–beloved. This is an area in which I struggle in my own life and am working on constantly. The truth is so much harder to believe than the lies, whether in our heads or the BMI on Wii Fit.

The Confident Woman

4 Apr

“A Woman’s Shadow”, mixed media, by J. Holland Berkley 

Since I wrote the post, “I Wish I Was Beautiful”, I’ve had a lot of interesting comments.  In fact, I think it’s the only non-Hannah Montana post that’s generated that much “conversation”.  Interestingly enough, when I check out my blog stats to see what search terms people used to find my blog, one that pops up a lot is “beautiful”.  In some way, it seems, we are all searching for beauty–some image, some definition, some standard.  It’s undeniable–beauty attracts.

Yet a lot of people have mentioned that if I had more self-confidence, I would have a better time meeting guys.  I never wrote that post to lament my lack of a boyfriend; I have plenty of other opportunities to do that.  I was trying to dive to the heart of an emotion that is common to a lot of women.  Even though we spend money coloring our hair, hours putting on make-up, and lots of energy buying clothes, we still don’t feel beautiful.  We try to tell ourselves that “it’s what’s inside that counts”, and it should be, but it often doesn’t count.  Or at least it doesn’t count enough.

But, really, what does it mean when we say, “it’s what’s inside that counts”?  I love the idea of someone falling in love with my character, with my hopes and dreams, with my brain, with my humor, and with my ideas, but I’m not sure anyone ever has.   One of my amazing talents is gift wrapping.  After having worked for as a gift wrapper at a department store one Christmas season, I can also say I’ve wrapped professionally (or that I’m a professional wrapper…hahaha!)  When my roomie wants her gifts wrapped nicely, she comes to me.  Not only do I do a stellar job, but I’m fast, efficient, and I know where to stick a bow when I’m done.  Sometimes even the crappiest gifts look better if they’re wrapped nicely.  Seriously, don’t presents look better when they’re tied up in a pretty package?   I think so.  Although I’ve gotten some great gifts that were just handed to me in a plastic bag as well.  If I was to choose between a nicely wrapped present and something in a plastic bag, I’m going to take the former.  Although the plastic bag might entice me, just because I would want to see what was in it.  Perhaps the shoddy covering is misleading, and the true gem lies inside.

That probably comes from living life as great gal wrapped in a plastic bag body.  But what has been truly fascinating to me is that, not only do other girls (and boys) feel the same way, but that fact that some don’t.  In fact, I’ve been encouraged to “show off my stuff” and “grow my confidence” and all kinds of amazing advice (including one e-mail with tips on how to get a guy to buy me a Diet Coke across the room).  I’m surprised no one bought me a subscription to EHarmony (yet).  What troubles me about this is–I don’t feel that confident.

At times, I’m moderately confident and sassy and yes, these are the times I find guys most responsive.  But I don’t feel like that 24/7.  In fact, some days I’m lucky to run a brush through my hair and change my clothes.  So, how can I be expected to show it off to the world if I’m not feeling it?  Should I fake it?  If I fake it, won’t that be, uh, fake?  Why would I want to attract guys to a fake person, instead of the real me?  I mean, do I really have to be something I’m not all the time to be liked, to be loved, to be valued?  It somehow seems wrong.

Really, I just need more confidence in who I am, not in myself, but who I am in God.  It’s a slow train a’coming, to borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan.  I wish I had the fairy god mother of self-esteem just bippity-boppity-boo me into a confident (but not too confident) woman who can light up the room with a smile.  Yet I would be missing out on the wonderful and tedious experience of being molded by God into what He wants me to be–not what society, my friends, my parents, or what Mr. Right wants me to be.

I could have all the self-confidence in the world and lost my own soul.  I could have all the guys in the room buy me a Diet Coke and still be unhappy.  I could be phenomenally beautiful and when I die, still turn to ash.  Yet who I was, who I am, and who I will be in God –that’s something that’ll last whether or not Mr. Right comes.  But if he does come, he better be prepared to buy me a lot of Diet Cokes to make up for all the time he’s left me a lady-in-waiting.

I Wish I Was Beautiful

28 Jan

I wish I was beautiful. Breathtaking, traffic stopping, can-I-buy-you-a-drink beautiful. Not that I really go to bars and get drinks, but sending over a Diet Coke in a friendly dining establishment would work, too.

I’m not hideous or anything. I’m just, you know, me–freckles, flaws and all. The last time I stopped traffic, it was because I was crossing the street when the “Do Not Walk” sign was flashing (almost got run over, too) and the last time anyone honked at me was because I didn’t make a right turn on red due to the “Do Not Turn On Red” sign plastered to the traffic pole.

I may have felt beautiful once or twice. I definitely felt gorgeous when I want to the Winter Semi-Formal Dance my junior year in college. I had a great date, who bought me a beautiful wrist corsage, drove me in his BMW, and treated me like a lady. I asked him to go with me as a friend since I went to an all-women’s college. I mean, I could have waited for one of my classmates to ask me, but I don’t swing that way, though many of them did. It definitely freaked out my date to see girls dancing with girls cheek-to-cheek.

Sometimes I look back at pictures where I think I should have felt beautiful, and I just didn’t. A couple of times, I look at a picture of myself, usually one that’s not posed and unexpected and I think, just maybe, I’m beautiful. Or at least I can flicker within moments of beauty if the light hits me just right.

I’m trying to get over myself. I mean, does it really matter? I’ve listened to “Piece of Glass” by Caedmon’s Call (“Who are you that lies when you stare at my face, Telling me that I’m just a trace, Of the person I once was, Are you telling the truth or a lie, On you I just can’t rely, After all you’re just a piece of glass”) and “Beautiful You” (Beautiful you, all of the time, Jesus in you makes you shine, Beautiful You, Beautiful You) by Considering Lily so much, I could do a mean karaoke version of those tunes should the occasion ever arise. I’ve read Captivating, Falling In Love with Jesus, and a slew of other books that talk about biblical femininity and beauty, and yet I sigh when I look at the pictures of the authors on their bio page. They’re all beautiful.

Someone once told me that a woman at peace with herself is truly beautiful. My friend, Shannon, is like that. In her 50’s, she has piercing blue eyes, long flowing hair that’s brown highlighted in natural grays, and she’s tall and slender. Shannon is also one of the wisest, godliest women I have ever met. Whenever she talks, I want to soak up her words and etch them into my memory.

I spent time with her on her boat (Pacific Catalyst II) in October along with her husband and some friends and had many chances to seize upon her sagely wisdom. Shannon told me that she isn’t flirty and doesn’t use her feminine mystique to manipulate men. That’s how she’s earned respect in church circles, which largely remain a man’s world. The thing about Shannon is that she has no idea how dazzlingly beautiful she is.

I’ve noticed that a lot of truly beautiful people, ones who enchant me, don’t realize their true beauty. They just bounce through life like me, looking in the mirror, and singing the chorus to “Reflection” from Mulan. “Who is that girl I see, Staring straight back at me, When will my reflection show, Who I am inside” (see Mulan clip below).

I believe that all girls long to be beautiful. But even more they long to be beautiful on the inside and valued for their thoughts, gifts and talents. Yet a beautiful girl with amazing gifts and talents seems to get a leg up in the world of love and dating. Ordinary or even less-than-ideal girls only have personality to gauge the attention of the wandering male eye.

I wonder if I was really, really beautiful would I be married by now? Sometimes I think that what I perceive as my lack of physical beauty has held me back. Or that guys are just so repulsed by me they wouldn’t dare think of pursuing anything more than a friendship with me. I also ponder if I was a guy, then would I be married? Guys can be pretty unattractive and still hook up with a nice girl, who is usually easy on the eyes.

I’ve come to falsely believe the problem of my existence is that I’m not beautiful. True, beauty comes with its own problems. Beauty invites, and anything less than beautiful isn’t quite as inviting.

I know I should see myself as gorgeous because I was created in the image of God, but at the same time, it’s hard to think that way. It’s unnatural to women, I believe, because of the Fall. We lost the idea that we are beautiful and captivating. We don’t see that we are the image of God’s beauty, and in fact, we are often treated as being less than human by men throughout history and in some countries in the world today.

Besides, it’s not like Christian guys are any different. They all say they want a Proverbs 31 woman, yet many can’t even describe what a Proverbs 31 woman is in today’s culture. Yet Christian guys, committed Bible-reading Christian guys, still get goggly eyed over chicks in skimpy clothes. Not only do nice guys finish last, nice girls do, too. Maybe they could date each other.

I know that beauty is only skin deep and that character counts. I just need to let my inside shine out for all the world to see. I need to be a confident woman, a go-getter, full of enthusiasm, and content in my self-worth. That’s what guys want, I’m told, a chick who doesn’t care whether or not she’s a hottie, but one that is at peace with herself. That sounds really hard.

Still, I wish I could stop a guy dead in his tracks with one look. I wish I could get a guy across the room to buy me a Diet Coke. I wish I was what society generally accepts as “beautiful”, at least for one day.

Read follow-up post, “A Confident Woman”.

Here’s a clip of Mulan singing “Reflection” (vocals by Lea Salonga)

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