Monday, September 19, 2011
Book Review + My First Giveaway!
eBook available at visionarywomanhood.com, $4.99
When I read Natalie Klejwa's description of her book, Visionary Womanhood Gatherings, on her website, her enthusiasm for her subject and her love for the women to whom she ministers was apparent. And this made me want to know more. So, when I had a chance to read an advance copy of the book, I took it and now I'm happy not only to be able to review this book, but to give away a copy of it to one lucky reader (more on that at the end).
This book is first and foremost a mentoring tool. As someone who longs for good mentoring, I really appreciated reading this. Klejwa starts by explaining to readers what she means when she talks about "visionary womanhood" and she emphasizes why a vision for the future is so important. From there, she describes what she sees as necessary components for any mentoring group(she calls hers visionary womanhood groups) and then tells readers how they can take action and start similar groups of their own.
Those familiar with Max Lucado's Wemmick books will quickly grasp the points Klejwa makes in the first section of her ebook. And even those unfamiliar with these books will catch on easily as she does use clear language to explain her ideas. The author compares and contrasts those who have a vision and focus on putting God first in their lives and those who do not.
And that's where we hit the first part of this book that can make readers a little uneasy. After all, the people who don't have a vision for themselves and their families can look a little like people we know - or even like us. These are folks who love their families, but who spend lots of time watching TV, gossiping, and basically enjoying all the usual forms of 21st century American entertainment without stopping to think about them. Klejwa then contrasts this picture with a woman who looks an awful lot like a modern Proverbs 31 lady. However, I did appreciate the author's discernment here. She made quite a point of the fact that most of us carry bits of both examples within us.
From here, I found Klejwa's message very encouraging. She clearly intends this book to be a tool for readers to not only allow God to work through them to change their own focus in life but also to bless their families. Her own story of feeling the need to be in community with other believers to pray for their families and to encourage one another in their ministry from the home sounds like the kind of community that many of us long for. And when she describes that wonderful feeling of not being in this Christian walk alone, I found myself thinking of the wonderful groups of women I have known and worshipped with over the years.
Given what has happened to many American families in recent years, I agree with the author that Christian women serving one another in community to pray and build up each other and their families is exactly the kind of thing that we women need to be doing in the church. As Klejwa points out in her book, "...choices we make today don't just affect our own lives. They affect our posterity." Her idea of visionary womanhood groups provides a blueprint for a way in which women can not only seek Scripture and pray for each other's families together, but also allows women to disciple their daughters and model for them the role that they will one day assume in their own families.
There are some ideas mentioned in this book or the recommended group materials that I don't 100% agree with, such as opposing youth group for teens in general or opposing the traditional college path for young adults in favor of stay-at-home daughterhood or other options. I've known of some youth groups that whose poor teachings harmed some of the teens in attendance or which functioned to separate teens from their churches as a whole, but I've also known plenty of people who came to Christ because of the way God worked in a particular youth group. I can say the same about traditional four-year colleges, both Christian and secular. In fact, my experiences in college probably strengthened my own faith more than anything I would have encountered had I not attended that school, and I do not doubt that God called me to go there. However, I've also known several stay-at-home daughters and the ways in which they lived out that calling have been a blessing to them and to their families, and they were very much following God's calling in their own lives. I would point out that these ideas I mention are by no means central to Klejwa's book. They are referenced in passing as part of her worldview, but the real meat of the book contains information which I suspect will lead readers to start accountability/visionary womanhood groups of their own.
I tend to be an introvert by nature, so I found the third part of this book very helpful. In it, the author describes how one can start her own visionary womanhood group. Her plan is a simple one and she lays it out in ways that make it accessible rather than intimidating. It's also a plan that I think would be easily adapted to fit different styles without losing its core meaning. For example, I tend to find slightly informal settings for small groups and accountability groups makes them feel more welcoming, so I probably would use less formal language and a slightly less formal structure than does the author in her examples.
I also don't unreservedly agree with with some of the sources of teaching that the author suggests using in group, so if I led such a group, I would probably substitute other books and materials that I do trust and perhaps write a slightly different vision statement for the group than the one given as an example in this book. However, the author lays out her core ideas in such a way that one can figure out ways to change things stylistically without losing the purpose of having such a group.
You've heard the saying that, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"? Well, if we are to set a tone in our homes, Klejwa's theory is that we need to understand why what we do before our families is important and how it can have effects that reach down generations. While we each have doctrinal differences on nonessentials (i.e. items not essential to salvation) that will affect some of the teachings we want to espouse, the fact remains that how we as women minister to our spouses and families will have long-term effects and if we approach this calling of ours with vision and purpose, we can not only encourage one another but draw strength from seeking God's will for our families.
So - are you curious to read the book for yourself? Well, this is launch week for Visionary Womanhood Gatherings so you can buy the book yourself over at Visionary Womanhood. The book will normally cost $4.99, but this week only, you will be able to buy it for $2.99. Just use the code LAUNCHWEEK.
AND - thanks to the generosity of the author, I'm giving a copy away here on my blog. To enter, you simply need to leave a comment below. If you do not have a blog, please leave your email in your comment or send your email address directly to me (my email address is on my Blogger profile). I'm not going to make anyone follow me or like my blog on Facebook unless you want to do that anyway, but I will give you an additional entry if you mention this giveaway on your own blog or share it on your Facebook page and let me know in the comments that you've done that. Giveaway is open from now until 5:00 pm EST on Friday, September 23, 2011.
And a final note: If you purchase Visionary Womanhood this week because you want to take advantage of the launch week special, but then end up winning my giveaway, Ms. Klejwa has told me that she will refund your money so that you will still get your giveaway prize.