So… I saw Bad Moms, and I laughed.

In case you don’t have any clue what movie I am talking about, here is a promo shot:

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First, I’d like to admit right out of the gate I didn’t walk into this movie with naive expectations.  The trailers gave a pretty good indication that there would be some inappropriate humor.  Second, I am not planning on giving away any spoilers.  There were definitely some parts I thought the movie could have lived without, not only for the story line but even in the presentation.  Sometimes it could go too far.  Third, there were some parts of this that were REALLY unrealistic when you are talking about any group of moms.  Lastly, there were also a LOT of truths.

Overall, I laughed and I laughed hard.  At one point I laughed so hard (as I was taking a sip from my straw) that I pushed air through the straw, which caused a small tidal wave in my cup, and that resulted in my drink landing in my eyes.  Which just caused a whole other fit of laughter for myself and those sitting around me.  I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt.  Yet, there were some moments that I nodded in solidarity.  There were moments that were uncomfortable.  And, yes… as I said before totally unnecessary.

What I want to write about (and I’m up for conversation too) is WHY a movie like this not only resonated with moms but was drawing us in like moths to a flame.

My first thought is probably the most obvious, there is an enormous amount of pressure on moms to be it all, do it all, and do so perfectly.  Whether it is the perfect birthday party, bento box lunches, or simply making it to every school and sport activity… we feel the pressure.  We notice so much of what is around us, like the mom who has the perfect hair and make up in the parent pick up line… when we were struggling to get out of the house with a bra under our pajama shirt.  We see the kids with the perfectly styled hair, accessories, and sparkling white sneakers…. and we just spent the last 40 minutes looking for eyeglasses or a belt.  Other moms dropping their kids off early, and we are 10 minutes late because we had to go back home and pick up the flute that was left behind… or because our darling child took 15 minutes to brush her teeth.

How do these moms do it?  We cast shade in their direction, but really we are asking ourselves… why can’t I do it?

I think there are a number of moms who have run the scenario through their head of just saying no.  No to the requests by the husband, kids, school, coaches, etc.  An opportunity to just walk away from the pressure and enjoy life again.  To make the choice of not being the perfect mom anymore, and instead be the bad mom.

This brings me to my second thought, as you watch the trailers you see a group of women having fun. We are not talking bunko party fundraiser fun, but the kind of fun we had as teenagers  and young single adults.  The fun we had when we didn’t care what others thought, where it was ok to be silly, and there was an expected freedom in the general knowledge we were going to make mistakes and bad choices.  It takes us back to a time when we didn’t have to be an adult, and could just let loose and be free.

With motherhood came some sort of unwritten code of conduct, that we couldn’t be silly anymore.  We began to take everything too seriously, including ourselves.  Let’s face it, books and the advice of television “experts” reinforced this.  Reminding us over and over again that it was time to grow up, put away childish things, and get our heads out of the clouds.  As we did this, many of us sent fun sailing away for good.  We stopped smiling, we stopped laughing, and we stopped being silly.

The movie Bad Moms called out to that free spirit inside of us, that desperately wanted to laugh… and laugh hard.  So, it pulls out all the stops.  The women let loose in a way we couldn’t, and we live vicariously through them.  They say the things that roll through our minds & do the things we secretly wished we could.  (Ok, maybe not all of the things they say and do, but you get the point).

I also believe this appeals to Christian women so deeply because of the bar that is set for our expected behavior.  If other moms are feeling the pressure to be perfect in their every day life, Christian moms understand the additional expectations put on the Christian mom.  To have perfect children that love Jesus, quote the bible, volunteer with the elderly, and gladly donate all their birthday money to the missions fund.  To be women who are serious about the study of the Lord, leading small groups, inviting women over to mentor and pray together, to dress in simple clothes, and be ever diligent in our choices of entertainment.  There is a pressure that all of our time should be so seriously focused on Christ, that we can’t let loose and laugh until our sides hurt.

Confession… I saw the movie on opening night.  It’s taken me almost a month to admit I saw it, because frankly… I expected to be judged for it.  I was worried about what my church friends, my readers that look to me for wisdom, the women or leaders who are reading through my blog trying to decide if I would be the right speaker for their next women’s event… what would these people think of me?

I learned something from the movie though… my eyes were opened to how long it had been since I had laughed so much and so hard.  I realized how seriously I take myself and made the decision not to.  I embraced that silliness is okay and even healthy for my kids to see.  I made the decision that I wanted to laugh more, but with those whom I am the closest to… not a theater full of strangers.  I want that girl posse who has my back, in the most biblical way possible… and who will be silly with me.  Women who know how to laugh, smile, and stop trying to be something that is impossible to attain… perfect.

All of those parts of the movie that I thought were unnecessary, they don’t have to be part of my life.  But the good stuff… I welcome it.  We are all GOOD MOMS despite our imperfections and the times we muck things up… because we are LOVING MOMS.  In the end that is what matters.  The Lord didn’t call us to a life of misery, but of fulfillment and joy as mothers… and laughter.  So much laughter.

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EVERYONE LOVES A GIVEAWAY! Read on…

Today, we are going to begin a very special social media give away!  And it is simple, and easy to play.  You will have 3 chances to win!

Step 1:  Follow Me on Social Media:  Facebook Group, Instagram and Twitter.

Facebook Group:  Gena McCown – Valued More than Rubies and Pearls

Instagram:  gmc3mompsl

Twitter:  GMC3Mama

Step 2:  Try to Guess Which Item I Spy!  — Now pay attention, this is important… I have selected a different item for each mode of social media.   You can choose to select 1 item and enter it as your submission on all 3 social media sites – OR- select a different answer for each of the 3 sites.  Your choice.  Leave your choice in the “comment” section on Facebook/Istagram, and REPLY/RETWEET on twitter.

For example:  If we were doing a Halloween Ispy game… I would pick the Pumpkin for Twitter, the Black Cat for Instagram and the Candy Corn for my Facebook group as the winning token.  If you were on twitter and said “candy corn” – you wouldn’t win.  But if you were on facebook and said “candy corn” you would.

ISPYGAME

Step 3:  Wait!     The game starts on Monday and will close on Wednesday at Midnight.  Winners will be announced Thursday afternoon.

SO, WHAT IS THE PRIZE?????

To win… you must be the FIRST PERSON to correctly guess the pre-selected item, and you may only win ONCE.

One winner from Istagram, Twitter and Facebook will receive a free E-Book of “Pulling Back the Shades”.  Winners will be announced then contacted with their redemption code & instructions.

book_headerEBOOK… Courtesy of Moody Publishers, Inc….

@AuthenticIntimacy #AuthenticIntimacy #PullingBackTheShades #DanaGresh #DrJuliSlattery

 

WHO DOESN’T LOVE A DEAL! (40% off -or- FREE)

While I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, I have read romance novels and books that fall under the heading of erotica before. Let’s be honest, no matter how I justified my choice to read them… I always felt like I was doing something wrong.  Even before I was a Christian, I felt it was wrong.

Women have a longing that isn’t being met, and the Church… well, it’s not talking about it either.

God designed marriage to have a sexual component.  Not just a static, let’s procreate, component… but one that embraces intimacy, oneness, and a deep connection.  When our marriages don’t fulfill that need… we can look to other places.  When we feel less than adequate, we can look to other places.

We fall into a book, like 50 Shades, for a LOT of different reasons.  In the end, it causes more harm than good.

The point of the book “Pulling Back the Shades” is not to shame those of us who read, or have read erotica or “harmless” romance novels.  But instead to start a conversation about sex, intimacy and those real longings of a woman’s heart.

There have been several survey’s on the topic of the 5o Shades book series.

Do you know the youngest reader to admit to reading the series to NY Times was FOURTEEN YEARS OLD.  The authors of the book, found another reader who was only TWELVE YEARS OLD.   The youngest reader of EROTICA… was NINE.

Your initial response might be to blame the parents, for letting them read it in the first place.  However, many parents are not even aware.  Did you know that there book stores that had placed the series in the “Teen /Young Readers” section of their store?  Or, that there is no legal age restriction on books, like you find with movies or magazines.  Since there are no PICTURES, they are not subject to any restrictions on ages (regardless of how graphic content might be).

And then, they are passing them on to their friends to read.  The first book I was ever given, that qualified as erotica, I was a junior in high school.  The book was being passed around our group of friends.  This isn’t anything new.  But instead of it being a little “housewives secret” like it would have been many years ago…. it’s more accepted & growing in acceptance.

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So… what about that deal?

If you would like to read Pulling Back the Shades yourself, as apart of your small group, or gift it to a friend(s)

Moody Publishers has given our Book Team a special coupon code that will give you 40% off the purchase price!  And there is free shipping when you spend over $25.    Just go to http://www.moodypublishers.com/ and enter the coupon code SHADES40

You can read it for FREE… by simply mailing in your copies of 50 Shades for a special TRADE IN program.  Upon receipt, they will mail you back a copy of PULLING BACK THE SHADES for FREE.   Simply go to http://pullingbacktheshades.com/ and at the top left, you’ll see “TRADE YOUR SHADES”.  Click there, and follow the steps.

Uncertain about how you feel?  Read the book, and ask yourself again when you are done.

Pulling Back the Shades – What You Should Know

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Do you know that some of the strongest opponents against the 50 Shades of Grey books and movie are those who are part of the BDSM community?

That means, those who actually participate in this type of sex IN REAL LIFE… call the scenes from the book inaccurate, misinformed & dangerous – on a mental, emotional and physical level.

Why is this important?
Because many a Christian wife has justified reading the series or seeing the movie as a way to HELP her marriage.
Those within the community express valid concerns that this will NOT help your marriage, but in fact do a lot of harm.
Let’s remember that we are called to keep our marriage bed pure.  That doesn’t mean that we cannot have fun with our spouses, and enjoy a spiced up sex life.  However, our marriage bed is also be to a place of respect, safety & love.

Pulling Back the Shades Book Team

I am very honored to have been selected to participate in a special team of bloggers and writers who will be talking about the upcoming movie 50 Shades of Grey, it’s impact on women and marriages and Dana Gresh and Dr Juli Slaterly’s book “Pulling Back the Shades”.

Come back daily to read, participate in discussion and learn more about protecting your marriage bed.

Throughout this process, I will also be consulting with a secular contact who actively participates in the types of sexual fetishes that the books are based around.  Shocking to most, is that those who are in this “community” have strong opinions against what is depicted in the series.

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PULLING BACK THE SHADES

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This month I got the opportunity to review a new book by Dannah Gresh & Dr. Juli Slattery called “Pulling Back the Shades“.  This book is written as a response to the popular 50 Shades of Grey series, and upcoming movie.  This will be different than my usual book review, a little more personal, and not in the format I usually do book reviews in.

Before I begin I would like the make 2 things very clear.

1) I have not read the 50 Shades series, but in my past I have read books of the same genre.

2) I am aware that some of my very own Christian & non-Christian friends have read the 50 Shades series, as well as other series from that genre.

Knowing all of this, I ask you to just keep reading.

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I can’t tell you how old I was exactly when I was first exposed to any type of pornography.  I can pin point it to my elementary years, I’d have to say it was third grade or even younger.  My father kept his collection of Playboy magazines in his living room.  When I say “collection”, I mean it.  It was a dedication shelf unit, of multiple shelves with stacks and stacks of magazines.  My father gave clear instructions to us that we were not to look at them, ever.  Which pretty much means, as some point we were curious enough to do so.  My father gave the classic “for the articles” excuse, and as photography was a hobby of his… I wouldn’t exactly say it surprised me that he would look at the pictures.  As a fan of art myself, from an early age, I had seen plenty of nudes in museums.  While I looked at some of the pages, I was not really impacted by what I saw.    Or, at least I didn’t think I was.

Fast forward a few years, and my mother would bring me with her to a friends house.  It was in their home, when I asked to use the restroom, that I would come across my first “Hustler” magazine.  Unlike my father’s Playboy magazines, these images were a lot more graphic.  I knew I shouldn’t be looking, yet I thumbed through the pages.

By high school I was reading books that were certainly not on the high school reading list, but recommended by some friends.  They would definitely fall into the realm of erotica, even back then.  Let’s be honest, erotica has been around for quite some time.  Just more hush hush, in the background conversation.

As time progressed, and movie and TV standards have loosened, there is hardly anyone I know that hasn’t seen a movie with some sort of graphic sex scene.  Long since have the days of suggested sex scenes passed, and very little is left to the imagination.  This isn’t just confined to mutual consensual sex scenes in movies, but also graphic and violent rape scenes.   And, now, with the release of these books and the upcoming movie… a darker side of sex is being brought to the forefront.  A side that combines violence and sex into a singular encounter, normalizing it, taking the taboo off of it and making it mainstream.

You can’t deny this, as of date statistics state that over 100 million women alone have read one or more of the 50 shades books.  And, there is very little difference between the % of Christians vs. non Christians who are reading it.

Over time, as I became a Christian, I began to find conviction about reading these books, watching these TV shows and movies.  It was easy to convince myself that you can flip past the pages or fast forward through these scenes and enjoy the rest of the material.  There is some naivety to that thought process though, as we have all learned at some point, or another, where that attempt failed.  Not to mention, leaving these tv shows sitting in your DVR is no different than leaving a romance novel (which is a tame erotica) on the coffee table,  or a magazine carelessly on your bathroom counter.

If you do not believe your kids will key into it, you are gravely mistaken.  There has never been a copy of 50 shades in my house, I’ve never talked about the book in the presence of my family.  Yet, my 15 year old daughter knew enough about it that when a promo played at the movie theater about the 50 Shades movie… she knew what it was and questioned how they were even allowed to show it in theaters.

A mom was collecting books for a book drive, and before she sorted through the box herself, one of her daughters sifted through it looking for anything interesting.  The mom had no idea that her daughter, who was probably 12 or younger at the time, had grabbed a few romance novels and shuttled them off to her room.

I also think back to a friend from high school that would tell me about all the “things” her mom kept locked up in her room, in a special chest.  She had been told to stay out of it, but when her mom was a work she found the key.  She wanted to know what her mom was hiding.

Kids are curious.  They will look at things we never expect.  They will disregard rules to satiate that curiosity over what we are hiding from them.  Group all of this with the internet, which can answer (with pictures) just about any question a kid has about a taboo topic from school…. well, there you go.

I began to purge my home of anything related to these materials, in essence I asked myself … “How would I feel if my kids walked in while I was watching this?”… “Would I want my teenager to pick up this book and read it?”…. and “What would God think about me watching this?”.   Truth is, I already know what God thinks about it.  His word is pretty straight forward.

I also began to realize the double standard I was setting.  I would never allow my husband to watch porn, go to a strip club, or subscribe to a “mens magazine”.  Yet, somewhere in our minds we can convince ourselves that they are just words on a page.  No pictures.  No harm.  The encounters are part of a bigger story.  I challenge anyone to read any of these books, skipping the sex scenes, and tell me that they are well written books and story lines that hold on their own without the sex scenes.  Fact is, the sex scenes are exactly what makes these books different.  Calling out to a need not being met in the lives of women, everywhere.  Christian.  Atheist.  Pluralist.  Married.  Mother.  Single.   Grandmothers.  Mothers. Daughters.

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When I grabbed the book, PULLING BACK THE SHADES, I expected this would be a book that would tell us all about how awful we are to read such material.  I figured a good finger wagging was in order, anyone reading it would walk away with shame and guilt.

I WAS WRONG.

Instead you find quite the opposite, you find frank discussion about Christianity, sex within the confines of marriage, a gentle approach toward the single woman, and some real honest truth.

The co-authors take turns speaking from their own perspectives … one who read, one who didn’t… one who writes and speaks on modesty and purity, one who helps counsel couples who have struggles in their intimacy.

This is not a book bashing 50 Shades, but dealing with the entire industry of erotica… which is growing.   It doesn’t shame you for being a Christian woman with sexual needs and desires, but instead points you toward HEALTHY sex life within the confines of marriage.  It explores the damage that can come from erotica to your marriage relationship, to your expectations of your future spouse, and your relationship with God.

While it would be great to avoid it, the book accepts that some of us are past that point.  We have been exposed at early ages, or later ages.  They don’t call erotica “mommy porn” for no reason.  So what do you do?  How do you get those mental images out of your head?  How do you stop seeing your husband as someone who doesn’t measure up to the hero or main character from your stories?  Why isn’t a book like 50 Shades safe?  (Guess what… even within the bondage community, the 50 Shades series is not supported and considered inaccurate, and dangerous)

Certainly Pulling Back the Shades is NOT suggesting you should read 50 Shades or erotica, or permissing it as ok.  It doesn’t support the idea that porn is ok, when a husband and wife watch it together.  Instead it gives us permission as women that our fantasies are OK, we don’t need the book or movie… we have our husband in the flesh!

MOST IMPORTANTLY, the book addresses something that is plaguing the Christian Woman today.  The book addresses how over the generations Christian women have been so pressed about sexual purity, that they will find guilt in sex IN THEIR MARRIAGE.   The place it has been reserved for, the very place we are supposed to have sexual freedom… we feel GUILTY because specifics about healthy marital sex have been avoided entirely in the church -OR- so much emphasis on shame that it becomes hard to escape it.

There is a reason women are flocking to erotica.  There is a reason women are flocking to romance novels and movies/tv shows.  They wouldn’t be a success, the industry wouldn’t be growing if it wasn’t meeting a need.

What need is it fulfilling?

Why does it meet it?  Emotionally, physically & psychologically?

What is the truth, we need to hear?  What are the risks?

How can we, as women, gain control of our God given sexuality in our marriages?

What if it’s too late?  What if you are addicted?  How do you overcome this struggle?

PICK UP THIS BOOK.  IT’S A QUICK, EASY READ.  READ IT.  SHARE IT.  RECOMMEND IT. 

50 Shades gained so much popularity that a hotel in Europe replaced all of it’s Bible’s with copies of 50 Shades.  It can’t be denied that society as a whole is normalizing this material, and that Christian women are not apart of their readers.  With online shopping, no one has to worry about their Pastor’s wife seeing them shopping in the Adult Literature section of the local book store.

Personal stories shared in this book clue us into how something as simple as reading a romance novel can impact our lives, relationships and marriages in the long term.

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I wish I could take back the images that have been ingrained into my memory.   I wish I could erase those magazine pages, the things I saw.  Fact is, they did impact me long term.  The way I look and feel about myself, at minimum.  Lord, I pray that you unbind these images from my mind.  Take them from me, let them never be used to distract me again.   There is always hope.  For my hope is found in the Lord.  He has saved me.  He has washed me, white as snow.  Protect my marriage.  Protect my children’s eyes and ears, hearts and minds.  Amen.

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Pulling Back the Shades

Author:  Dannah Gresh, Dr. Juli Slattery

Moody Publishers

ISBN: 13-978-0-8024-1088-7