Sunday, March 11, 2012

Style, Sex & Substance: A Review

Guess what came in the mail on Saturday afternoon?

Guess what was completely devoured by Sunday morning?

Well, this book and six chocolate chip cookies.  

But the cookies are not as worthy of review as this book is.  And if you know my love for all things cookie, then you would see that as the ultimate compliment :)

So without further ado, here's my top ten reasons to go get this book:

10) You just signed up for a weekly Adoration time slot, but are still in that stage of your prayer life where quiet contemplation leads to constant daydreaming, and you're pretty sure that this book counts as "spiritual reading".  
Barbara's chapter on embracing and appreciating culture reinforces my way of thinking as she explains how the use of modern media allows us to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation".  And that is exactly what the authors of this book do, so your spiritual reading can be a bit more entertaining than usual this week!

9) Simcha makes you laugh out loud everyday, and you figure the least you could do is purchase the book in order to help her buy groceries for her multitude of children.  
Plus, her chapter on motherhood contains gems such as "I have nine kids.  You may think that's why I'm writing this chapter on motherhood - because I'm such an expert.  It's true - just as the kid who had to keep repeating third grade is an expert on third grade."  And some deeper revelations like: "When we conceive, gestate, and give birth, we are doing what all women are called to do whether they raise twenty children or none: to be receptive, to be creative, and then, when the time is right, to let go." So very, very true!

8)  You have just about had it with the overflowing laundry, dishes, and trash cans in your house.  You start wondering exactly how you are supposed to find prayer time in the middle of the chaos, when you come across Karen's chapter.   
She describes many concrete examples of how to live a holy life in the midst of real, everyday life.  She says "When my second daughter was born, I thought I'd never pray again.  Or shower.  Eventually I combined the two."  What great and practical advice she gives!

7) Beyonce's song All the Single Ladies, is not just an awesome dance tune, it's your state in life at the moment.  Good news, Anna has got you covered!   And her chapter is not just for those discerning their future vocations.  Even for those of us that have already been living out our vocation can find great advice like "There are so many times I've questioned why things were happening the way they were, and then later I would look back and see how God's hand was working.  I often have to remind myself to trust God.  His plans are always better than mine."

6)  That fashionable dress that once hung from your womanly frame now hangs at the back of your closet.  You struggle with the desire to be fit and healthy, but feel guilty that your role as wife and mother might suffer as a result.  
Hallie talks about balancing all these things in her chapter, Style: Balance, Beauty and You.  She writes "If you're tempted to shy away from tending to your needs, remember that, ultimately, it's not just for you: it's for every person you come in contact with.  A woman who feels confident, happy, and self-assured is a woman who will spread the light wherever she goes."

5) You "have five children spaced so closely together that fellow Catholics, when they first meet [you], often ask, 'Would you like to borrow our Natural Family Planning book?'"  
What, that's not you?  Oh right, it's me!  But don't fret if you are not living a similar life...Jennifer has a way of writing about it that will make you ponder deep mysteries of Catholic femininity while you laugh out loud at her awkwardly embarrassing encounters.  Seriously, her explanation of the propensity we have to confuse our sinful tendencies with our personality traits left me with so much food for thought that I read right through lunch!

4) You convince yourself that you do not need socialization, or do not have the time to foster friendships, because after all, you are a blogger, or a tweeter or a facebooker facebookie you use Facebook, and therefore fill your friendship quota via your computer screen.  Besides you have a husband and children with whom you can socially interact.
But Rachel, with all her Southern charm, points out the importance of having friends.  Real life friends.  Because, she writes, "Friends keep us sane, make life more fun, and help smooth out the rough edges of our human nature, helping us be the person we were created to be."

3) You are sort of kind of tired of comparing your marriage to everyone else's seemingly perfect partnership, and wondering if anyone else argues over the misunderstandings caused by male vs. female communication.  
Um, yeah, Danielle Bean will not only empathize with you, she has that special gift of making you feel a little.less.crazy by speaking of her own experiences in married life.  "My husband and I are madly in love.  I feel the need to announce this publicly because, on the surface, it can be hard to tell sometimes." Besides her engaging chapter in this book, she still reigns as Queen Bean in my reading lists...her blog and books on motherhood opened my eyes to this whole world of Catholic media, creating an outlet where I felt a little more connected and welcomed.

2)  You have questions about sex, passion, and purity.  
Well, by golly, that's the exact title of Betty Duffy's chapter!  Without wanting to offend any of the other awesome authors, this chapter was my favorite.  Mostly because I was nodding my head in agreement at the end of every paragraph.  Who can argue with a woman who can openly say things like "My husband and I are in our mid-to-late thirties.  We're practicing Catholics who don't use birth control.  To our happy surprise, the sex only gets better as the years go by, which makes you wonder, because it wasn't too terrible to begin with."  Amen!

1)  You will be supporting some of the most wonderful Catholic women bloggers I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  
This is the work of their hands, and as Rebecca writes in her important chapter, no matter if we are out in the corporate America, or a stay-at-home mom, we are all working women.  And we need to be mindful of how Christ-like we perform our duties.  She explains that "the ordinary way a person encounters Christ is not through explicit teaching but in the goodness of some Christian who touches his heart."  And with that in mind, I urge you to support these brave, funny, and poignant writers, who have touched my heart.

Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another....
~Thessalonians 5:11 

Thank you, ladies, for some wonderful words of wisdom, great advice, and practical solutions we can apply to our lives.  All wrapped up with a witty sense of humor and beautiful editing by Hallie!

(For some real life pictures and stories of *some* of these authors, see this.)


  1. I second the recommendation! I got the Kindle version and read it in one day. Excellent advice/insight in from every contributor.

  2. i can't wait to read it!

  3. Thanks so much, Colleen! And I, for one, want to hear more about the cookie.

  4. The only "complaint" that I have with this book is that I wish it had been longer. There were some essays that I felt weren't able to explore their chosen topic as fully as it deserved.

    What a problem to have, though, right? People complaining that the book is too short.

  5. OH, my gosh, I'm going to have to get this book!!!

    Love everything you wrote and I'm pretty sure I'll love it too!


  6. Thanks for such a terrific review! A gift on my baptismal birthday! :)

    And, ummm ... only six cookies? I hope you had plenty of dough before the baking ....

  7. Thank you so much, Colleen! I loved reading your thoughts! You're such a peach! xoxox

  8. they need to revise the book and include a chapter from you. your writing is very insightful.

  9. Colleen, thank you for this! What a lovely review.

  10. I'm behind on reading my favorite blogs so I'm barely seeing this today. I love your review. You summed it up perfectly. Great job.


Talk to me...