I received a copy of "Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends," by Melanie Dale, from Family Christian Stores for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.
And great news! Family Christian has offered to give away a copy of this book to one of my readers. You may enter to win a copy at the end of this article.
I have a friend... She loves books just like me. We both like fine dining. Both of us could discuss the Bible for hours. In fact, we read it daily and share our findings with a group online. Once, as we discussed our women’s ministry at church, she said,
“I just don’t understand why women wouldn’t try to attend every event we do. Hanging with girlfriends is so fun!”
I have a friend... We slowly eased into our friendship over several encounters. Our relationship was secured during a weekend trip to Louisville for a “Women of Joy Conference.” She’s a bit of a germaphobe and I am, well, not. My son and her daughter are about three years apart and have very little in common. Our “dates” usually don’t include our children. We’ve each accompanied the other to biopsy appointments.
I have a friend... Who lives in another city hours from here. We get a chance to see each other 3-4 times a year and every time we cram in as much fun as we possibly can. She has a daughter just a few years older than my own and they are forging their own long-distance friendship. Years ago, this friend moved from a girlfriend to a sister. In every way that counts.
Thinking about the friends I have and how varied they are, I could understand the book title: Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends. Building friendships takes time and vulnerability.
In my ministry work with women, I know we have to do the work because we must have girlfriends. They fill a need in us that can’t be met by anyone else.
Here’s what author Melanie Dale had to say about our great need:
In the ‘burbs where I do life, we live in an independent, isolated culture. As I’ve traveled to uganda and witnessed material poverty in the village with which we’re partnered, I’ve discovered that my culture struggles with a different kind of poverty. We don’t lack food, clean water, or clothing, but we lack relationships.
The rest of the book, she explores this poverty of ours. She’s a creative, funny writer who offers real advice mixed in with the right amount of humor. For example:
I still go to these things called women’s conferences. They’re filled with lovely ladies and prayer and I’m always just a little on edge, like I don’t quite fit and if they only knew what was going on inside of me... you know, besides gas.
So, the readers go on this journey around the bases with Melanie. That’s how she our “dating” experience with our girlfriends. She offers tips for what to do, and not to do, when your friendships are on 1st base (acquaintances who see each other at activities), 2nd base (organized play dates), 3rd base (invitation to one another’s homes) and 4th base - or home plate as her husband informed her (hanging out without the kids).
In addition to laugh-out-loud moments, the book has its tender parts too. She suggests things you can do during group dates (2nd base). Organizations you can help like Ornaments for Orphans and Cupcakes Kids, all while you’re hanging out together.
Melanie has a friend... who sits squarely on her homeplate. She and Rose no longer live in the same town but they text all the time and visit often. Melanie shared about her struggle with infertility. Specifically, one time she found out some of her frozen embryos didn’t develop. About the same time, Rose became pregnant. The friendship they shared during these very different chapters of life left me in tears.
If you need friendship advice, you’ll find it in this book. If you’re looking for a book that just helps you celebrate friendship, this book delivers. If you want to better understand the “scary women” in your life, she’ll do her best to help you understand. If you need to break up with a friend, or someone seems to be breaking up with you, she walks you through this too. She’s there to help.
We need momlationships because they help us to be brave. They give us strength to stick up for our kids when they’re drowning in school, to chase the dreams that glitter like diamonds nestled in our souls, to fight for truth and justice for the kid down the street or the kid across the work. My friends provide a safe place to wrestle with faith questions and marriage questions and parenting questions.
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In our Christian walk, even good things can get in the way.
I've taught Bible study for seven years now. I’m not the best at it. There are others who know more than me. I still talk more than I should. Follow up with all those ladies requires a lot of work. I constantly struggle with following the plan and yet letting the Holy Spirit do His work.
Still, I love being a Bible study teacher. God reveals Himself to me and these days I sit in awe almost every time I read from His Word. These ladies, they make up my tribe. If I’m ever thrown in the lion’s den, I want them thrown in after me. Maybe that didn’t come out quite right...
This summer, God tapped me on the shoulder. Not an actual tap. Spirit taps I received from several sources over a period of weeks. In His own way, He communicated something clearly to me.
Bible study is good but it’s time for you to take a break.
So I am. It feels weird. I spend a lot of time each week mentally preparing, carving out time to do any homework and make discussion notes. For six weeks, I’m not doing any of that.
Our enemy, the roaring lion, has already started trying to wreak havoc with my mind.
They won’t come back, he says.
When you jump back in, the next study has a ton of homework and they’re going to balk at that, he says.
I’m sure these ladies could find way better things to do on Wednesday nights, he says.
Now, I’m used to his voice in my head. He’s been lurking around for years. I hand him right over to Jesus.
Something else has occurred to me though. A surprise. I’m feeling like I’ve lost a big part of my identity and seem a bit lost. That speaks volumes to me.
As a teacher, I remind folks all the time, we must find our identity in Christ. If we remove all our titles, can we still honestly say it’s enough to be His?
To the parents all wrapped up in making sure your child has an adequate social calendar. Who worries if they’re reading and writing and mathing enough right smack in the middle of summer vacation. You are His.
To the grandparents who wonder if they’re involved enough in the lives of their family. Who try to find the balance between retirement, hobbies and babysitting. You are His.
To the adult child of aging parents. With each passing year, you grow more thankful for all the sacrifices your parents made for you over the years. You worry about the choices you’re facing for their well-being now. You are His.
To the teachers who find themselves in the rhythm of learning and teaching. Repeat. The one who cares so deeply for each and every student around seated around the table or at their desks. You are His.
To the choir member, worship leader, pastor who hates to miss a single Sunday. You argue that you're needed but sometimes you wonder in the back of your mind if it’s because you’ve grown to need the audience. Who starts to think maybe the service might be missing something if it didn’t have you in it. You are His.
To the deacon making such important decisions for Christ’s church. All those hours put in with little recognition. Who can so easily become convinced the church would fall apart if you didn’t spend more time doing your work. You are His.
Good work. Worthwhile titles. But when it’s all stripped away, we must rest in this:
Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete. (2 Corinthians 1:20-22 The Message)