Sunday, September 06, 2009

Serious and lighthearted: Overheard at Atlanta's Women of Faith conference

By Theresa Shadrix
Consolidated News Service
The Anniston Star
September 5, 2009

ATLANTA — Some 9,000 women converged on Philips Arena here last weekend to laugh, cry and be inspired. They left the laundry, the chores, work, football games, family and to-do lists at home to attend the Women of Faith conference Aug. 28-29.

Women of Faith is a non-denominational organization that hosts events and publishes books and other resources for Christian women. With a rotating roster of Christian speakers and musicians, Women of Faith will tour 28 cities in the United States in 2009. The Atlanta event was the 17th stop on the tour, and the 11th time Atlanta has hosted a conference.

Steve Arterburn, author of Every Man's Battle and founder of the Christian counseling ministry New Life, organized Women of Faith in 1996. In 2000, Thomas Nelson Inc. purchased the organization. In 2005, the organization added The Revolve Tour for teen girls.

Arterburn is still heavily involved in Women of Faith and is one of the guest speakers this year. Also on the lineup are musicians Sandi Patty and Steven Curtis Chapman. Other speakers and musicians in Atlanta included:

• Marilyn Meberg, author and counselor.
• Sheila Walsh, author (including children's books), speaker, singer.
• Lisa Whelchel, former Facts of Life child star, now founder of MomTime Ministries.
• Luci Swindoll, sister of minister Chuck Swindoll, former corporate exec, art lover.
• Patsy Clairmont, author and speaker.
• Mandisa, fifth-season finalist on American Idol, now Grammy-nominated artist.

The issues raised by some of the speakers were deep and dark: abortion, guilt, adultery, childhood molestation, alcoholism, inappropriate friendships, temptations. But it was leavened with humor. Good Morning America comedian Anita Renfroe belted her YouTube sensation "MomSense." Clairmont, Meberg, Patty, Walsh and Whelchel all shared emotional stories but made them easier to handle with a dash of humor.

Below is a collection of overheard comments from conference speakers and attendees. They also mix the serious with the lighthearted.

"I didn't win, but the message of Jesus Christ was aired by the producers."
— Mandisa on her American Idol experience, which included telling Simon Cowell she forgave him after his negative comments about her weight.

"Mandisa changed my life. I'm going to lose this weight."
— Woman to a friend while waiting in line to use the restroom.

"All the men's restrooms have been converted to women's. Except one."
— Anna Trent, daughter of Sandi Patty and Friday emcee.

"As humans, we internally fuss with ourselves and we need to claim forgiveness."
— Marilyn Meberg

"All abuse makes us feel worthless. One fourth of women have been molested."
— Marilyn Meberg

"God is in charge of all things."
— Marilyn Meberg

"I think I'm going to faint."
— Self-admitted Women of Faith "junkie," as Patsy Clairmont passed her in the hallway.

"The real impact of ministry is you."
— Women of Faith president Mary Graham, when presenting information about the group's partnership with the World Vision children's organization.

"Hot flashes are my inner child playing with matches."
— Anita Renfroe

"I'm not defined by failure."
— Steve Arterburn, after sharing he started a conference one year before Women of Faith that only attracted 1,000 attendees in 12 cities.

"Some people spend a lot of time avoiding pain. Not all pain is harmful."
— Steve Arterburn

"It's a myth that we shouldn't look back. We learn from experiences."
— Steve Arterburn

"This is just the tuning of the orchestra until we go home."
— Sheila Walsh on the difference between earth and heaven.

"Forgiveness is God's gift to us in a world that is not fair."
— Sheila Walsh, after sharing a story about forgiving her husband after poor financial choices emptied their savings, retirement and banking accounts.

Copyright 2010 Anniston Star. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writing about home

Here is my latest offering at the Southern Authors Blog

My home's in Alabama by Theresa Shadrix
Kathryn Tucker Windham, Scarey Ann and Theresa Shadrix at the 2009 Alabama Book Festival.

With the latest issue of Longleaf Style magazine focusing on roots, even a Bubba could figure out why I’ve been thinking so much about home and the South. In the summer issue, we have Rick Bragg’s “Why I write about home”, Diane McWhorter wrote about Birmingham and the civil rights and Nathalee Dupree gives a tasty ode to Southern cooking. To think about anything other than the South would a downright shame after reading it.

Truth be known, I used to feel somewhat like a carpetbagger. Yes, I was born in the South and I’ve lived in the South for over two decades. But, my childhood memories of the South are slim, thanks to my mother’s second marriage to an Army man. (Vincent O’Neil, I so understand your post!)

With two separate tours in Germany, I was a bonified cultured girl. I toured castles and camped under the stars in Munich. I shopped stores downtown markets. I bought fresh pretzels from street vendors. I never went to church and didn’t know one single thing about VBS, GA’s, or Sunday School. I learned to play soccer with kids who couldn’t speak English. I listened to Oingo Boingo, Led Zeppelin and Generation X. I got my ears pierced in Frankfurt. I read C.S. Lewis and Trixie Beldon.

I was in the 9th grade when my family returned to the South and made our home in Alabama. I couldn’t have been more out of touch with Southern reality as I was then. In the mid-80s, I was a European-inspired fashionista who talked funny. My “oil” rhymed with boil and I had not grasped the concept that anything that came before “bless your heart” was probably an insult in sweet disguise. I didn’t eat biscuits or grits or lard in my green beans. I had never seen the Andy Griffith Show. I was really quite pitiful.

But, I’ve come a long way. I married a born-and-bred Southern boy almost 18 years ago. I live in the country and drive by pastures with grazing cows every day o my way to work. I can make biscuits from scratch, prefer creamed potatoes to rice, can’t stand to eat those five minute boxed grits and green beans are not cooked unless seasoned with a touch of lard. I reference tweezers to Barney and hunting tigers. I love my relationship with Jesus Christ more than I love fried okra and home-grown tomatoes. I also prefer to listen to Rick & Bubba than Larry the Cable Guy because they are real good ol’ boys. Speaking of which, I’m not scared of rednecks, overalls, trucks or camo shorts. I can’t wear white to before Easter, even if they do in New York. I don’t flinch if I see a Memaw put a pinch of chewing tobacco in her mouth after supper. And, for Heaven’s sake, I capitalize “South”.

And, I love Southern authors! As an editor, no writer has influenced me more than Kathryn Tucker Windham because she was one of the first “girl reporters” in Alabama. And, she has a mess of talent even at 91 and she really, really loves the South.


At the Alabama Book Festival, she told the crowd that something was wrong with people who put sugar in cornbread. She was serious too. She cried when I gave her a "Scarey Ann" doll that I found online. If you don't know why "Scarey Ann" means so much to her, well, read her latest book "Spit, Scarey Ann & Sweat Bees."

I really love to recommend Southern authors to my friend’s cause there is nothing like telling someone, “”One Mississippi” by Mark Childress will leave you feeling a little beside yourself but just remember that not everyone down here is crazy. He just wrote it that way for fun.”

Most recently, I recommended Cassandra King’s “Sunday Wife” to a northern writer friend, who is also a pastor’s wife. I also told one friend, who suffered minor headaches, to read “Ray in Reverse” by Daniel Wallace and she said she had to think so much that it cured her. (I’ve also learned to embrace my sense of humor, which, I think, comes from walking barefoot in red clay in Alabama.) The only books by northerners I recommend are “Life with Father” by Clarence Day, Jr., who died in 1935, and anything by Erma Bombeck.

My list of authors who influence, entertain and, sometimes, warp me is very long. I bet it will continue to grow. I like reading Southern authors because they make me feel at home. I may have lived for a few years in another country but I wouldn’t live anywhere else than in Alabama. I think it’s because the South has a way of wrapping her arms around you and squeezing the city right out of you. Bless all our hearts.

Theresa Shadrix is the managing editor of Longleaf Style magazine. Her first book “Naked before God” is in the Lord’s hands, on her agent’s mind and hopefully soon will be in a publisher’s heart.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mandisa: True freedom found in God

Mandisa's new album "Freedom" comes out March 24, 2009 and it is filled with both up-beat songs as well as emotional and reflective ones. I had a chance to talk to her this week about this album and what is going on in her life. I posted the article on The Christian Post but here it is:

Mandisa: True freedom found in God
By Theresa Shadrix

Gospel performer Mandisa defines herself not by the world’s standards, but God’s, and said she has finally discovered what freedom means. Her sophomore album “Freedom”, available on March 24, is a testimony to her struggles with food and deliverance from her addiction. After five weeks, the first single, “My Deliverer” is number 16 on Billboard’s Christian Adult Contemporary chart. “Lose my Soul”, her collaboration with Toby Mac and Kirk Franklin is at number eight.
“I used to think freedom was the fact that I’m free to do anything I want to do,” she said via telephone from her home in Tenn. “True freedom is doing what I want to do within the boundaries of God.”
The Grammy and Dove Award nominee had a goal to lose 100 pounds before the March release of “Freedom”. “I’ve lost 80 pounds,” she proudly admits.
In order to lose the weight, she had to change not only the way she eats, but she had to dig deeper into the word of God. “The more time we spend with God the more we are chiseled into the image of His son,” she said. “We need to reflect the glory of God.”
Mandisa hit the national scene as a contestant in the fifth season of American Idol in 2006. Her powerhouse voice garnered her loyal fans, but judge Simon Cowell brought up her weight with such comments as needing a bigger stage. Mandisa said his comments hurt, but she credits Simon with helping her learn how to forgive.
“I’ve just learned based on the word of God, that we should forgive because all that God has forgiven us for.” This is exactly what she told Cowell during the show and he apologized for his comments. She said she forgave for herself though. “I’ve learned that forgiveness is as much for the person. Simon would have gone the rest of his life not thinking about anything he said. I would have gone on and let a bitter root set in me,” she said. “I forgave him for me. As soon as you realize that you are holding on to anger, then forgive.”
Although she finished ninth on American Idol, she has found success as a solo performer in Contemporary Christian music. In 2007 she debuted “True Beauty”, the highest chart entry for a debut artist in Sparrow Records history and the only female soloist to hit number one in the 27-year history of Billboard Christian Retail charts. In 2008, “True Beauty” was nominated for Grammy’s “Best pop/Contemporary Gospel Album” and she was nominated for the Gospel Music Association Dove Award for “Female Vocalist of the Year” and “New Artist of the Year”.
She said last year’s nominations were a total surprise but she really didn’t expect her Dove Award nomination this year for “Female Vocalist of the Year”, which will air April 23 on the Gospel Music Channel at 8 p.m. EST. Among the nominees are Francesca Battistelli, Brooke Fraser, Karen Peck Gooch, Natalie Grant, Sandi Patty and Laura Story. “I don’t allow awards to define my success because I really want to let the fruit and the message speak,” she said. “But, these are saying you are on the right track.”
Mandisa is humble about all of her success and credits her relationship with Jesus Christ first and foremost. The Calif. native said one of the songs on the “Freedom” album, “Not Guilty” speaks to the message of grace from Christ. “We are given the verdict of not guilty. It is not by our works but it is the grace of Jesus Christ.”
For now, the 32-year-old said she is trying to stay focused on singing about this message of grace and freedom found in a relationship with Christ. “God has given us freedom over anything that will hold us captive.”
Copyright Theresa Shadrix.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Odd Eggs

I wrote a post about "Odd-Egg Editor" by Kathryn Tucker Windham, one of my favorite books and authors, for the Southern Authors Blog. Click here.