“Chewed piece of gum.”
The youth of my generation know these phrases by heart.
With them, our elders told us we were “dirty” for having a crush. They claimed we were “used goods” if we held hands with someone. They insisted our worth was measured by the extent to which we had “given our heart away.” They criminalized affection to keep us “undefiled.”
What happens when an entire generation learns that their worth is found in their “purity?”
Welcome to life growing up in Christian Purity Culture.
Our well-intended homeschooling, conservative, and Christian communities wanted to keep us safe. They didn’t understand the toll inflicted by the heavy-handed and legalistic emphasis on sexual purity above and beyond anything else.
They wanted to safeguard our sexuality. Instead, they broke it.
They wanted us to be spotless before God. Instead, they drove us away from Him.
The Scarlet Virgins takes a vulnerable look at the Christian Purity Culture movement through the eyes of someone who experienced it firsthand. It seeks to identify what went wrong, and bring peace to the hearts of those who were wounded so deeply, all by exposing the truth:
It is Christ who makes us pure.
~ My Review ~
Since my conservative Asian parents wouldn't have spoken to me about sex anyway, you could say that being friends with people who grew up in the Purity Culture impacted me directly. I too was familiar with the side hugs, the only watch PG or G rated movies and up until a few years ago, I owned a copy of Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I never wore a purity ring but I wanted to keep myself pure until marriage.
Fast forward until I was 23 and living on my own with roommates, I had a few eye opening experiences, though thankfully, my experiences were all with my now-husband. But it was the after that always stuck with me. The feelings that I was used goods. That God doesn't love me. That I was too "dirty" to be loved. By anyone. I remember crying about it over my Bible and for a long time, I felt so unloved that I committed the "ultimate sin" (in my eyes), that my world spiraled out of control and I stopped going to church. I know I tended to be dramatic but my college thought was, 'guess I'm going to Hell, might as well do things that I never got to experience, including drinking alcohol or going to my first club. Things that your normal average college girl would do, yes, but you'd have to understand how much the "Culture" molded me. I also believed that I had to marry this guy now since I sinned with him and thankfully, I'm still very much in love with my husband, but can you imagine?
I should have read this book 15 years ago. I should have been able to tell my 23 year old self that God loves you because you are His child. As a mother, I get it. But for someone who grew up with the Purity Culture -even indirectly- it would take YEARS, a lot of prayers to fully understand that in spite of everything, I will fall short, I will fail BUT GOD will continue to love me.
Rebecca takes some of her personal experiences and those of her peers, and the things learned in the Purity Culture and lays out its flaws and the effects. She speaks with grace and understanding.
I can't recommend this book enough, especially to MY peers who grew up in the Purity Culture and are now raising children in this current society.
I was fortunate to have received this book for free, but I will be purchasing a hard copy that one day, I'll get to share with both my son and daughter.
***I received this book in exchange for an honest review. However, these thoughts and opinions are my own. I'm not required to write a positive review.***
About the Author
Oklahoma native Rebecca Lemke grew up in a tiny conservative homeschooling community. She has learned firsthand that the manner in which we approach modesty and purity can be the difference between life and death, both spiritually and physically. As the result of her deep-seated belief in holistic living, which includes holistic spirituality and sexuality, she strongly advocates for Christ to be our ultimate focus.
Rebecca has written a book entitled The Scarlet Virgins about her experience with legalism, spiritual abuse, and Purity Culture. She also releases podcasts on the same subjects at scarletvirgins.com. Rebecca now lives with her husband and toddler, enjoying the simple things in life with them, like root beer and bacon.
Being a mother isn't easy. Sometimes it's hard to experience a personal connection with God and community when you are caught up in the chaos of just "doing family".
Independent and self-sufficient, author Betsy Singleton Snyder lived a full and busy life as a pastor, missionary, and wife to a husband who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. She had her first child at age 44, then at 47, she found out she was carrying triplets. Suddenly finding herself overwhelmed is an understatement.
Stepping on Cheerios is a collection of funny, warm, and charming tales from the frontlines of parenthood, written for women who are juggling to accomplish everyday feats of work, motherhood, marriage, church, and more. It's a comical story of one woman's realization that her crazy life is a gift and how she found the grace in it.
Discover God's grace in the busyness of motherhood.
~ My Review ~
I needed to read this book a year ago when I was knee deep in prayers and needed a way out of my life. I had postpartum depression when my son was born last year, which stemmed from the anxiety of having a first born who was in the NICU for six weeks of her life. I had preeclampsia with both and although he didn't spend nearly as much time in the NICU as his older sis, he still spent 11 days in there. I was a wreck, as you can imagine and reading some of Betsy Singleton Snyder's memories conjured up my own. I remember the pressure of pumping milk for both. I remember well-intentioned friends and family that would come in and out of our lives that were both lovely to have but internally, I was screaming.
Motherhood is hard. Period. It's messy and only in looking back at our parenting mistakes do we learn to appreciate the messes and find God's comforting hands in the thick of it all.
I found myself both entertained at Snyder's words and nodding along, as if I needed some validation that I'm okay. My children are okay. And our household will more than likely be messy for a long time but God's love, and grace keeps us together when we're seemingly the only ones in the planet to not have picture/social media style lives. I appreciated Snyder's candor and found her disorganized thought pattern matched my own haphazardness views of motherhood messes and truths and faith....... but then again, perhaps we've both been Stepping on (too many) Cheerios.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review. However, these thoughts and opinions are my own. I'm not required to write a positive review.***
About the Author
Betsy Singleton Snyder, author of Stepping on Cheerios, is a pastor, former missionary to the arts community, writer, and blogger. She and her husband, Dr. Vic Snyder, who formerly served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years, live in Arkansas with their four sons, Penn (10) and triplets Wyatt, Sullivan, and Aubrey (8).
Visit her online at WomenadeStand.com.
One grand prize winner will receive:
What every parent needs to know in a world full of drugs, drinking and gasp! Sex.
Written from her experience as a Christian "wild child", now a mother and the wife of a recovered addict, Leah Grey sheds light on her childhood rebellion and how her life was ultimately saved- by finding her true identity in Christ.
If you're a Christian parent struggling with how you're going to successfully raise children in an increasingly sex-crazed, sin-filled, oh-my-goodness what can we do kind of world, this short book is one you'll want to read! With chapters like, "Wake Up and Smell Satan's Coffee", "The Truth about the Technological Era" and "We All Get It Wrong Sometimes" she addresses the problem of insecurity in our children (and their parents!) and how it leads to drugs, drinking and sex, what godly boundaries look like and where our children are really being influenced.
This is not a parenting book filled with "to-do" lists and "top ten ways to"... it's one girl's testimony to the importance of teaching children how to find identity in a broken world.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
-Romans 12:2 (NIV)
We all have an opinion on parenting. We all base assumptions on what we see at the playground, during and after the school drop off/pick up rush, at restaurants, etc. Everywhere we see a family, we unconsciously compare ourselves to how other people parent. As if there was a bar of measurements or a winning look that screams, PERFECT PARENTING DONE RIGHT HERE. In truth, we all have our bad days and our good days. And even though we know in our hearts we're doing "alright" for ourselves and for our children, this comparison thing drives us.
Leah Grey tells us a few things:
1.) You need to stop comparing your parenting styles to other people's parenting styles.
2.) There is no perfect way to parent.
3.) Let's reexamine this thought about doing "alright" as parents. Wouldn't you want to be better?
Being better parents means putting, and asking, and letting God into our parenting, and maybe trusting that He can do so much more for our children than you and I could ever imagine. Our children aren't really ours but God's. We truly only have our children for a short amount of time, and God has them for a lifetime, and then the rest of eternity. Over the course of their time with us, we need to make sure to put God into every aspect of their life, so when the time comes to 'let go' of the reins, their foundation in Christ has been set.
At the end of each chapter, there are discussion questions that let us reexamine how we are to our children. Do we engage with them? Are we on our phones all day long?
Sidenote and this one hit me hard: that we - those of us in our early thirties - "we are the end of an era. The last generation to know what it's like to play outside all day long....the last to use an encyclopedia, or to the library....the last to hear stories about World War I and II, straight from the mouths of veterans." Just sit on that for a moment. Our parents never needed to worry about social media and how that affects our teens. Our parents never needed to worry about having complete access to the things we shouldn't have access to, on our persons. Our children will never know the type of innocence you and I may have experienced in our childhood. And then that part about Paul Harvey's speech....CHILLS. I was shocked and saddened and it's no wonder that motherhood has taken up flak in today's society.
Let's move on. Leah sounds like that awesome friend who is honest about her past realities of being a wild child and then finding Grace in the beautiful mess. She's the kind of friend who will not only pray for us, but hold our hands to tell us that we need to be putting God first, and foremost in our lives. We need to actively seek Him, and have our children come to Him daily. Don't you want that kind of friend who cares about our souls and our children's souls? I know I do. I love the friends that I can message or call up and say, 'please pray for me.' They don't hesitate. They pray. That's the kind of thing you need in your motherhood tribe. The kind of friendship that tells you to stop comparing yourself to the way other people parent. The kind who will lead us back to the truth and tell us to ask God for wisdom. The kind of wisdom that no one else can give. We need to have the kind of friend that will stand in front of us, look at us in the eye, and say, "we're not okay."
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
Leah Grey moved to New York City full of hopeful aspirations until her husband went into long-term treatment for addiction. Unable to afford to stay, she picked up her childhood dreams and moved back to her rural, Canadian beach town with her two young children. From rooftop city skyline views to her parent’s basement, in the darkest time of her life, she created Grey Ministries to support, encourage and empower women with loved ones who struggle with addiction. With a practical faith-based approach, she challenges popular beliefs about addiction while teaching women in crisis how to find God’s peace within the storms of life. In March 2016, she launched her website, LeahGrey.com and online peer support community, “Live, Love, Hope”.
Join by visiting http://leahgrey.com/livelovehope.
Book Club Pick for March:
Leila's 2018 Challenge
I use Goodread's rating scale
1 star – didn’t like it
2 stars – it was OK
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was so amazing, it's on my reread pile!