Author Teresa Tomeo is a familiar syndicated talk-show host that I hear almost daily on my local Catholic radio station. I enjoyed and reviewed her bestseller, “Extreme Makeover.” Co-author Cheryl Dickow is new to me but I find her biblical approach a wonderful balance to Teresa’s fact-based fervor. With separate viewpoints, they bring us ten gifts God gives women.
My favorite is God’s Gift of a Joyful Attitude. Cheryl writes, “We find true, complete, and lasting joy when we discern God’s call upon our lives in our unique vocation. That is the miracle of seeking God’s perfect and holy will.” She explains that however joy presents itself it embodies God’s love for each of us as a wholly unique creature with a special place in his heart. Joy expresses, “the reality that God is with us in all things.”
Teresa gives her take on joy. “Real joy comes from having less and giving more.” Her statistics show that volunteers (such as pro-lifers) are healthier, happier and they live longer than non-volunteers. They are a gift to others and to themselves at the same time. “Joy is truly the gift that keeps on giving,” while “happiness is fleeting and much more dependent on feelings.”
Teresa uses her husband’s garden to teach us about the gift of suffering, intertwining it with the analogy of the vine and branches. Pruning hurts, but ideally produces from us a “Thank-you” along with the “Ouch!” We grow when we hold still for God’s special pruning so we can produce abundantly.
Cheryl’s treatment of the Gift of Letting Go started with a personal disappointment and ended with a comparison between the letting go attitudes of Lot’s wife versus Mary Magdalene. When tempted to cling to the past, God’s Gift of Letting Go helps us cling to him and look to the future. Teresa recalled how she had to walk away from the secular media to discover God’s grand aspirations for her.
The Gift of Your Sisters in Faith highlighted a lack in my childhood where I had sisters but not the bonds of sisters in faith when we grew up. As an adult I can relate to many spiritual sisters and recognize that the Holy Spirit makes this sisterhood happen. I know my faith-filled friendships bring richness to my life but Teresa’ statistics show that friendships also can extend my years of life.
The Gift of Setting Priorities involves aligning our will and desires with those of God by eliminating distractions that take our focus away from his priorities for us. The Gift of Being You means taking seriously your God-given talents and your God-given dignity as a woman. Teresa closing encouragement is to share the gift of yourself freely and confidently with the world, wrapped up in the arms of Jesus.
For personal or group study Cheryl and Teresa provide abundant notes and a bibliography, plus a Companion Journal. This book is a classic from Servant Books 2012.
(© 2013 Nancy H C Ward)