Control Girl to Jesus Girl: Kim

During this twelve week series, I’m sharing stories of women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Like me, these women would not say that they’ve arrived. They can’t claim to be perfectly Christ-like. But they are heading in a new direction.

Not all of the stories in this series will be shared by video, but I was blessed to have Kim share at our Kregel Parable Release Party. Here’s what Kim said: 

“About twelve years ago, my husband and I were going through a divorce and we separated for two years. After a lot of ugliness and trying to control each other, God got ahold of both of us. He shook around a bit and woke us up, and we decided we were going to follow His plan for marriage. We’ve now been married for close to 22 years. So having been someone who almost lost my marriage, I could really relate with this statement in Control Girl:

My culture may cheer me on when I’m pushy, independent, demanding, and domineering, but when I turn on my heel and bring these attitudes to my marriage or other relationships, I inevitably drive in wedges. The more controlling I get, the less happy we all are. God provides a better way. (Control Girl, p. 51)

“God restores marriages like mine, but what about our culture? And what about women? The first time I read this quote from Shannon’s book, we were in the midst of the presidential election…”

Listen to the rest of Kim’s story here:

Faced with today’s political climate, many women feel the burden to take control. They heap the weight of the world on their shoulders. But Kim says, “God’s plan is bigger and better than anything that’s going on in our world right now.”

She also mentioned timing. God’s timing. She said, “I remember reading those words on page 51 in November and thinking, ‘Wow. Shannon couldn’t have known the timing of this book.'”

It’s true! I fully expected that the book would be published in 2015 instead of 2017. But as Kim said, God’s timing is perfect.

Friend, are you feeling anxious, angry, frustrated, helpless, confused, or stressed out about the future? Perhaps this message is meant for you. Today. I invite you to consider the truth woven throughout Control Girl: God is in control, not us. And when we live accordingly, we find the peace, joy, security, and hope that vying for control never brings.


Are you a Control Girl? (Take the Quiz.) Do you want to be a Jesus Girl? For more informationgo here.

More in the Control Girl to Jesus Girl Series:

  • Elizabeth’s Story

 

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Control Girl Quiz

Are you a Control Girl?

First of all, you should be commended on your willingness to engage the question. Many women  avoid it.

For years, I saw myself as having the best of intentions. I took matters into my own hands because I cared so much! I was invested! The last word I would have chosen to describe myself was “controlling”. Besides, nobody else told me outright that I was controlling–not even my husband. Yet, there were signs….

  1. Do you struggle with anger? Do you erupt when something doesn’t go your way? Do you lose your cool over small, insignificant interruptions—either disruptions to your afternoon commute or your life trajectory? Do you inwardly (or outwardly) seethe at people who make your life difficult or who disagree with you—even over small things?
  2. Do you struggle with worry or anxiety? Are you gripped with fear over the future? Do you fret about your own safety or the safety of those you love? Do you obsess over small concerns because you’re worried about where they will lead? Do you tend to project into the future, consider all of the “what if’s”, and overreact?
  3. Are you irritated by other controlling people? Is there a controlling person in your life who deeply frustrates you? Are you more bothered by this person than others? Do you react in a passive aggressive manner when a controlling person gives you no choice or violates your “turf”?
  4. Do friends or family members send subtle hints? Do others give tactful clues that they’d like you to back off?  Do they ever roll their eyes and say, “I got it, the first six times, Mom!” or “I can handle it,”? If we cornered the people who love you most, would they privately admit that you are pushy or overbearing?
  5. Do they call you the “Food Nazi”? Or the “Seatbelt Nazi”? Or the “(Fill-in-the-blank) Nazi?” Do other people resist your efforts to get them to do what is in their best interest? Are there people at work, home, or in your community who might say that you micromanage, overstep, or insist on your way?
  6. Does your husband feel disrespected by you? Does he get angry because you interrupt? Does he get frustrated when you give suggestions or tell him how to do it? Does he often become sullen, explosive, or withdrawn? Has he opted out of parenting because you’ve corrected him so much? Has he started spending more time out than in?
  7. Do your kids feel like you’re nagging them? Do your young children have closed hearts toward you? Do your grown children withhold information or try to avoid your questions? Do your kids bristle when you come in the room?
  8. Are you undisciplined? Do you regularly eat too much, spend too much, stay up too late, or spend too much time on social media? Are you constantly late? Do you struggle to live within any sort of boundary lines or limits?
  9. Are you rigidly perfectionistic? Do you obsess over every calorie, every cent, or every minute spent? Are you a perfectionist with your home, your car, your appearance, or your work? Do you feel peace, only when you have everything under control? Do others think of you as rigid and inflexible?
  10. Do you keep hidden agendas? Do you tend to conceal information or only tell part of the story, to give yourself leverage? Do you use information to manipulate people? Do you use relational equity to your advantage?
  11. Do you have a lifestyle of “image control”? Do guard yourself against hurt by trying to control of what people think of you? Do you throw yourself into your work, ministry, or appearance to ward off feelings of worthlessness? Do you put up walls in relationships or limit yourself to superficiality?
  12. Does God seem far away? Do you picture God as distant or uncaring? Are you suspicious of His motives? Do you think of Him as too indifferent, apathetic, or disinterested to concern Himself with the things that matter to you?
Are you a Control Girl? Take the Quiz to find out! #ControlGirl Click To Tweet

12 Week Series

So, how’d you do? Did you answer yes to some? Most? Do you think you might be a Control Girl?

Over the next twelve Mondays I will publish a post unpacking each of these twelve questions. I hope you’ll check back weekly. Also, over the next twelve Thursdays, I’ll be telling your stories in a “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series. If you’re interested in having your story told (we can keep it anonymous), use the contact form to get in touch with me.

If, as you engage these series, you conclude that you are indeed a Control Girl, don’t despair. I have good news for you:

No woman has to be a Control Girl.

Yes, women tend to have a bent toward wanting control, but God offers us another option. Another path. He invites us to a life of surrender. To say, as Jesus did, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Control Girls of the Bible

My new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible, is a study of seven Control Girls of the Bible who struggled with control in the same way we do—they pushed for their own agendas, tried to make everything turn out according to their plans, and made everybody miserable in the process.

As we watch God interacting with these Control Girls of the Bible, we gain perspective on our own control struggles. Just like back then, God is in control and we aren’t. He invites us to live accordingly.

Enter the Giveaway

Through February 21, use this link to enter the “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” prize pack giveaway, valued at $100! Here’s what you can enter to win:

Thanks for taking the quiz and entering to win! Let’s go from Control Girl to Jesus Girl, shall we?

 

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Control

Control.

The desire for it wells up from somewhere very deep inside of me. I crave it. I feel compelled to lunge for it; to do whatever it takes to have it. I feel an urgency to take control, wondering what might happen if I don’t!

And so I go for it. I leap for it. I run for it. I grasp it as tightly as I can and clutch it with all my might.

Then without comment, control slips through my fingers like a mirage. It flutters like a leaf, blown upward into heaven.

I see now that it was all a tease. I never did have a grasp on that blasted control.

This makes me angry and frustrated. I shout at it to get right back here, and jab my finger at the ground in front of me. Then I whimper like a child because I need it so badly. But control is not mine to be had. It doesn’t belong in my hands. It belongs in God’s.

I look up to search His face, wondering why He has taken the control I so deeply long for. Is He taunting me? Is He Indifferent and aloof? Does he even see me all the way down here, beneath his throne?

I wave my hands frantically, to let him know that I need Him to send it back down. I’m ready to hold on more tightly, now. I won’t let go this time.

There’s movement. He sees me! He’s stooping low. For a moment, I’m terrified, and then I see kindness in His eyes. He whispers something into my soul and I lean forward to hear it. You were not designed to carry the burden of control. Won’t you let me carry it for you?

And then He shows me His hands. His massive, wise, holy hands. They are good, God hands.

And at first glance I didn’t notice, but now I do! He’s holding something, there. Are they threads? They’re translucent yet as strong as steel.

I look closer and see a trillion plotlines being woven together in such complexity and beauty, such that I’ve never laid eyes on. His strong fingers are twisting and tying and looping the details together—details of people who are known and loved by Him—in intricate patterns so that each thread moves the story along toward a conclusion that fills my heart with such joy I can hardly breathe.

I can’t see the ending; I can’t see the full pattern. But I just know that it is good.

“It is very good,” I hear Him say.

But when I turn my eyes back to His face, He is gone. Hidden from sight. Just like that.

It was only a glimpse, but it was enough.

I am settled now, at peace with what I can’t see and what I don’t know. I no longer feel the angst in my soul, pressing me to take and keep and have control.

He’s in control, so I don’t have to be.

This was first published on KateMotaung.com as a “Five Minute Friday” post–a challenge for writers to share their five-minutes-only writing. Come read what 98+ other bloggers have said about “Control”–or better yet, join them!  Five Minute Friday: Control

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Mary’s Exemplary Faith in God’s Strange Timing

When [Jesus’] mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18).

Notice that God waited until after Mary was betrothed to cause her to be “with child.” But God didn’t wait until after Mary and Joseph had come together. Pretty precise timing, right? And pretty awful timing for a young couple trying to maintain an honorable reputation.

Think of it.

If Mary had become pregnant after she was married, neither her reputation nor Joseph’s would have been affected. But at that point if Mary had tried to explain that her baby was from God, even Joseph would have thought she was crazy. She might have even doubted it herself!

And if the pregnancy had occurred before the betrothal, only Mary would have been affected. But without Joseph by her side as a character witness, it would have been doubly hard for anyone—us included—to believe that this baby was from God.

I think God had our faith in mind when He arranged the timing of this story. He made sure that this happened to a couple, not just a young girl. In His wisdom and kindness, God was providing tangible evidence and witnesses so that thousands of years later we would hear and believe that His Son truly was born to a virgin, just as was prophesied (Matt. 1:23).

But still. This was terrible timing for a teenage girl.

Mary’s Fearlessness

Mary was in a very vulnerable situation. She had no control over what Joseph would think, believe, or do. She couldn’t control how her parents would react or how the community would respond. Women convicted of immorality in those days were stoned (John 8:4–5). The community would gather around the woman, pick up rocks, and throw them at her!

Obviously, this pregnancy could have caused Mary an enormous amount of anxiety and agitation. However, Mary was fearless. How do I know this? Two reasons: Mary left town. And she viewed her pregnancy as God’s favor, not His curse.

She Left Her Reputation to God

Immediately after the angel told Mary about her impending pregnancy, Luke 1:39 says that Mary “arose and went with haste to the hill country” to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Can you picture Mary on the path leading out of town, her frame getting smaller and smaller just as all the gossip kicks up?

“Did you hear?” someone whispers. “Mary’s pregnant!”

Mary?” asks the friend, incredulously.

“I know,” says the first friend. “And she just left town.”

When I’m worried that someone might be spreading rumors about me, I don’t want to leave the room, let alone leave town! I want to stay close and manage the situation. I want to stick around for damage control. In Mary’s shoes, I imagine myself telling the angel story repeatedly to anyone who would listen.

Instead of this, Mary left town. She left her reputation in God’s hands. She was fearless.

I confess that I am often less than fearless. Unlike Mary, I obsess over what people will think or say about me or how they will react. You, too? Especially at Christmas, with all of our heightened expectations, we can get tangled up in anxiety, with fears like:

  • What will my agnostic cousin say if I read the Christmas story at our gathering?
  • What will my adult son do if I refuse to let his girlfriend stay in his room over Christmas?
  • What will my kids think if I limit gift purchases instead of loading up my credit card?
  • How will my extended family react to the idea of going to church rather than opening gifts on Christmas morning?

The woman of God is fearless, not riddled with doubt or anxiety. She leaves her reputation in God’s hands, because she knows He can manage it much better than she can. Look how God took care of Mary’s reputation. After Joseph learned about Mary’s pregnancy, and as he was contemplating what to do, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife’” (Matt. 1:20).

See? Problem solved! Mary didn’t have to run a campaign to get Joseph to marry her. In fact, she was probably already out of town (with no cell phone) when Joseph came to see it her way. She fearlessly trusted God with her reputation and her future.

She Rejoiced in Suffering

My second reason for calling Mary fearless is her demeanor during the scene when she arrives at Elizabeth’s house. We might expect an average teenage girl to burst in, wailing, “My dreams are shattered! My life is over! Elizabeth, I’m . . . I’m pregnant!”

Mary could have interpreted her pregnancy this way, but she didn’t. After being greeted by an exuberant Elizabeth (who somehow not only knew that Mary was pregnant but knew it was a good thing!), Mary did what we least expect of a teenage girl. She burst into song!

Here are some phrases from Mary’s “Magnificat” in Luke 1:

  • “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (vv. 46–47).
  • “For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (v. 48).
  • “For he who is mighty has done great things for me” (v. 49).

Rather than being undone by the shame and sacrifice to her own personal story, Mary revels in the unfolding of God’s bigger, more glorious story—which is all about His Son! She interprets her life from this vantage point and considers this pregnancy to be God’s favor, not His curse.

Again, I confess that I don’t always maintain Mary’s perspective. When my dreams are shattered, my soul often doesn’t immediately magnify the Lord. When I tell a cousin or friend about my struggles, I don’t often (ever) sing about how “he who is mighty has done great things for me.” It’s hard to think of my trials as evidences of God’s favor. But actually, I think they are.

This is far easier to see, when I look back in life. The things that brought pain or heartache are also the things that God used to draw my attention to Him. In the absence of struggle, I’m far more tempted to put myself at the center of my story rather than connecting my story to God.

Mary was newly pregnant when she arrived at Elizabeth’s house. She didn’t have years or even months to gain perspective. Almost immediately, she lifted her eyes above the pain and sacrifice to her own personal story and considered it all from God’s perspective. She rejoiced over the role she got to play in God’s story, as the mother of God’s Son. Indeed all generations have called her blessed. And she was blessed to have this perspective.

My Perspective

This Christmas, God has inserted some challenges and difficulties into my life’s storyline, and I’m guessing He’s done the same for you. So how will we respond? Will we cower in fear and worry about the future? Will we obsess over what people think? Will we try to do damage control? Or will we be fearless like Mary and revel in the fact that God is inviting us to play a role in His story?

When God ordained the specific and unique timing of Mary’s pregnancy, He had our faith in mind. And in the same way, God often has the faith of other people in mind when He inserts difficulties into our lives. When we fearlessly leave our futures and reputations in God’s hands as Mary did—rejoicing even in the midst of suffering—we point others to Jesus and make our stories all about Him.

What are you worrying about today? Are you obsessing over what people think or running ahead to do damage control? What is one way you will entrust God with your reputation and future? Consider your hardship from God’s perspective. How might this difficulty be used to point others to Jesus?


This post first appeared on the True Woman blog, a ministry of Revive Our Hearts.


For more information on my Bible study, Control Girl, which releases in January, or if you’re a leader considering this resource for your group, please check out all of my free resources here.

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Were You A Christmas Control Girl?

With Christmas just behinds us, perhaps it’s a good time to consider whether we behaved like a Control Girl this year.

For me, Christmas often brings out the worst.

Every year, when I flip the calendar to December, I get caught up in making Christmas turn out “right.” It’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but knowing this only causes me to have heightened expectations about how everything should look and taste and be. Rather than visions of sugar plums, I have Pinterest pictures dancing in my head driving me to new ideals for decorating, gift-wrapping, and treat-making.

Without meaning to, I evolve into a “Christmas Control Girl” who makes my family think it’s anything but the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Controlling Christmas

There is such irony in this, especially when I consider the first Christmas. For Mary, nothing was turning out “right”—at least not humanly speaking. But then Mary was human! She was a normal teenage girl with plans for her future and dreams of how everything should go. And just like the rest of us, Mary could have been a Control Girl.

In my upcoming book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women of the Bible, I investigated what God’s Word has to say about the struggle women often have with control. As I studied the stories of seven women in the Bible—which is ultimately a story about God—I was surprised to note the way these women were making the story all about them!

Sarah wanted a baby. Hagar wanted freedom. Rebekah wanted to control the future. Rachel and Leah wanted to outdo each other. And Miriam wanted to be honored. In each instance, a woman was contending for her own purposes rather than surrendering her story and her family to God’s greater, overarching purposes.

Mary could have been like the rest of these Bible women. She could have clung to her own small-minded ideals and plans for her family and her future. She could have tried to control even the Christmas story.

Just think of it.

When the angel arrived with news of her impending pregnancy, Mary could have become stubborn and feisty, saying, “Oh, no, I’m not having a baby. I’m planning my wedding! WED-ding. You got that, Mr. Gabriel?”

Or she could have become fretful and agitated, pacing back and forth, saying, “What is my mother going to say? What will my cousin say? Oh, no! What will Joseph say? What am I gonna do . . . what am I gonna doooo? Don’t tell me to calm down!”

Or she could have taken a manipulative, damage-control approach, saying, “Joseph, let’s get married right now. If we hurry, we can make this look like a honeymoon baby. We have to! If you love me, you will.”

Later, when Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house, she could have been self-absorbed, saying, “Elizabeth, my life is over! All of my dreams are smashed! No, I’m not being dramatic; I’m pregnant!”

At the end of her pregnancy, as Joseph saddled up the donkey for Bethlehem, Mary could have stamped her foot, saying, “Are you kidding me? Do you see this belly? I am not going. You can go by yourself, and I’ll stay with my mother.”

Then in Bethlehem, with contractions coming, she could have been entitled and rude, saying, “Joseph, did you tell that innkeeper who I am? I am the mother of God’s Son, for crying out loud. How dare He stuff me in this stable!”

A Jesus Girl

Of course, Mary did none of these things. She was anything but a Christmas Control Girl. Instead, she was a beautiful example of a Jesus Girl. She gave up control and centered her life around Jesus.

Listen to the deep surrender in Mary’s words when she responded to Gabriel’s message. She said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). This is remarkable, because for all the honor of being chosen for this role in God’s story, there was just as much dishonor and sacrifice to Mary’s own personal story. Her life was going to be upturned, her plans and security threatened. Yet rather than objecting or panicking or obsessing, Mary responded with sweet, trusting surrender.

The fact that she reacted this way immediately (rather than needing time to warm up to the idea) leads me to believe that this wasn’t the first time Mary had said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Turn-on-a-dime surrender doesn’t just happen. It’s cultivated over time. I’m guessing that in the weeks, months, and years leading up to this point, Mary had made a practice of saying, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

This practice is what separates Control Girls from Jesus Girls. Jesus Girls enter the day or the season with a disposition of surrender toward God. Control Girls habitually clutch their own small-minded plans for how everything should go.

Disrupted Plans

Notice that when Gabriel burst into Mary’s life, disrupting all of her plans, he called her, “O favored one” (Luke 1:28). Apparently, Gabriel saw this life-interruption as God’s favor upon Mary. And the same is true for us.

God isn’t trying to make our lives miserable when He disrupts our idea of how things should go. Like with Mary, God’s interruptions in life are often invitations to play a role in the unfolding story that centers on Jesus. He asks us to set aside our plans and let our story get swept up into the bigger story that is all about God and His people. And like Mary, we have a choice. Will we try to take back control? Or will we surrender?

Cultivating Surrender

As a woman who craves control, I’m learning that I can’t live life both ways. I can’t clamp down on my own self-focused ideals and surrender to God at the same time. I can’t give vent to my desire for control over the future and surrender my future to God. I can’t develop a habit of insisting on my own way and keep Jesus at the center. This is especially true at Christmas.

Because I have heightened expectations at Christmastime, I must be careful to enter the season with extra focus on surrender. It’s ridiculous how bent out of shape I can get over little things like how the ornaments are arranged or the orderliness of gift opening. But surrendering in these little, momentary ways can train my heart for the bigger things God might ask me to surrender.

This Christmas whether I face big interruptions to my plans or small ones, I want to avoid the mistakes other Control Girls of the Bible made. I want to keep sight of God’s bigger story, which centers on Jesus, not me. Like Mary, I want to cultivate a heart of surrender that says, “Behold, I am the Lord’s servant; let it be to me according to your word.”

This is the way to make Christmas (and every other season as well) the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Did Christmas bring out the worst in you? What heightened expectations do you need to manage or let go of in the future? Which small thing can you surrender today, which will help cultivate an attitude that says, “Yes, Lord” to whatever big thing He might ask of you?


This post first appeared on the True Woman blog, a ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

For more information on my Bible study, Control Girlwhich releases in January, or if you’re a leader, considering this resource for your group, please check out all of my free resources here.

 

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Reflections on Surrender

Just in time for Christmas!

Reflections on Surrender is an adult coloring book, filled with truth about control, ourselves, and God–messages that closely correlate with my soon-to-be released book, Control Girl. While you don’t have to work through the Bible study to enjoy the coloring book, we thought it might be nice to offer them as compliments to each other.

“God never intended you to carry the burden of trying to control everything. Though most of us would agree God is in control, we find ourselves living as if he needed a little assistance from us. Let us entice you to a different perspective.

Inside these pages, you’ll be invited to surrender to an all-powerful, loving God. As you find a restful place to color and reflect on the truths contained here, you’ll find peace soaking into your very soul.”

The original artwork in Reflections on Surrender was done by  Janyre Tromp (who, by the way, was also the editor for Control Girl). Janyre and I hope that as you add color and design to the artwork, you’ll also soak your heart in the truth on the page.

Special Pricing for Groups:

If you’re interested in buying a lot of these books for your group, or as gifts, please contact me in the form below or at shannon@shannonpopkin.com. The price on Amazon is $9.99. However, I can offer you a rate of $5.99/book if you buy 10 or more, and $4.99 if you buy 20 or more. Thanks so much for your interest!

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Control Girl: What Christian Leaders are Saying!

Dear Friend,

We are just weeks away from the release of my book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible. WOO HOO!! I’m so excited about this book. It’s amazing to me that I started on it with a completely empty file and a blank notebook. God gave me the idea, I took a step of faith to propose the book, and had to trust Him to fill the pages.

How faithful He was!

Over and over, God opened my eyes to truth in his Word, and guided my pen, as I wrote about a rather sensitive topic: women and their control issues! It was truly a worship-filled experience as I dug, struggled, listened, waited, and then rejoiced as God gave me just what I needed for each and every lesson. Thank you, Lord!

Endorsements

I want to share with you the endorsements listed below,which I am very, very grateful for, given by Christian leaders. Did you know that endorsements are biblical? Repeatedly in the New Testament, we see established church leaders endorsing newer leaders and commending them to the church. (Barnabas first spoke up for Paul in Acts 9:27 and then Paul repeatedly endorsed other leaders, such as in Rom. 16:1-16). This is essential because God wants us–his people–to be guarded about who we allow ourselves to be influenced by (Rom. 16:17-18). Relying on endorsements from those we trust is an important part of guarding ourselves against error.

Yet endorsements require a huge amount of time and sacrifice! I am so very thankful for each and every one of these recommendations below, given by trusted, faithful men and women of God. Thanks especially to Chris Brauns and Erin Davis for their help, as I sorted out several of the more difficult parts of this book. Their help was invaluable to me.

Know Anyone Looking for a Women’s Bible Study?

If you know of someone in church leadership, or a women’s small group leader, would you consider passing this email on to them? You could also point them to the “Control Girl” tab on my site for information about the book, a FREE downloadable discussion guide (coming soon), plus other resources related to the book.

Group leaders work tirelessly to find well-written, interesting, doctrinally sound resources for their women. (I know this because I’ve been on those committees!) I would love it if you could let your friends and leaders to know about my book, Control Girlas an excellent choice for their groups.

The book’s official release date is Jan. 27, but it is available for preorder now (here are links to AmazonChristianBook.com, and Barnes & Noble). Thanks so much, *|FNAME|*, for your help in getting the word out! I’m so thankful for this opportunity to share truth with women who long to go from “Control Girl” to “Jesus Girl”.

Warmly,


“Shannon has a wonderful ability to translate the truths of God’s Word into interactive Bible studies that speak to relevant issues women face today. Control Girl is a penetrating look at how selfishness and self- protectiveness wreck lives—and why surrender and trust are God’s life- giving pathways to true freedom and joy.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author and Revive Our Hearts teacher and host

“Psst . . . You there . . . the one with the control issues. I know you have a craving to control. We all do. We have since the garden of Eden, but there’s hope! In this funny, tender, and truth-telling book, Shannon Popkin peels back the layers of our control problem. If that sounds a bit like a root canal, wait until you crack the cover. In a tone that feels like coffee with a close friend, Shannon bravely goes first, letting us see the reality of her own need to control while simultaneously pointing us to the hope found in God’s Word. You will find your heart warming, your lips smiling, and your fists unclenching as Shannon leads you away from control and toward sweet surrender. A must-read for every woman east of the garden.”

Erin Davis, author, blogger, and recovering Control Girl

“Delightful. Insightful. Helpful. Popkin’s sweet blend of storytelling and Scripture helps the medicine go down. If you’re a control freak, this study is just what the doctor ordered.”

Mary A. Kassian, author of Girls Gone Wise

“In the style of Liz Curtis Higgs, Control Girl is an easy and entertaining read, yet Shannon Popkin packs a punch where we so need it if we are to be set free from the stressful habit that robs our joy and ruins our relationships!”

Dee Brestin, author of Idol Lies

“Authentic, relevant, and truth-filled, Control Girl is written especially for any woman longing for security, peace, and joy. Through her Bible-based teaching and humorous stories, Shannon reminds us God never intends us to carry around the burden of control, and instead offers us the gift of sweet surrender to him. I finished Control Girl being reminded afresh that for those who love God, there awaits the happiest Happy Ending imaginable. Hooray! Highly recommended!”

Cindy Bultema, women’s speaker, Bible teacher, and author of Red Hot Faith

“If you’ve ever struggled with control issues, read this book. With personal vulnerability, biblical depth, powerful personal illustrations, and pointed application questions, Shannon Popkin reveals how seven women of the Bible can teach us how to surrender our will to God’s design for our future. It’s ideal for personal use or for small-group studies.”

Carol Kent, speaker and author of Becoming a Woman of Influence

“Shannon gets painfully honest and to the point as she challenges all of us Control Girls to surrender that burden and experience the Happy Ending God has planned! . . . She takes us through the lives of seven women from Scripture to help us discern more readily when we are grabbing for control rather than walking in the rest that Christ provides.”

Kimberly Wagner, author of Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior and coauthor of Men Who Love Fierce Women

“No one wants to be enslaved to anger, anxiety, or fear. Yet many battle those emotions without making any headway in their struggle to fix themselves and others. In Control Girl, my longtime friend Shannon Popkin offers an alternative strategy. She shows how biblical thinking helps readers understand the conditions of their hearts so that they can find freedom in true spiritual growth through the wisdom of the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend it.”

Dr. Chris Brauns, pastor of The Red Brick Church and author of Unpacking Forgiveness and Bound Together

“When you start out reading a book for an endorsement and it becomes your Bible study, that is a good sign. Instead of making notes about how good the book is, I found myself writing down how God was using Shannon’s words to address the heart of my own control issues. Control Girl is helping me solidify my foundation as a Jesus Girl, giving me confidence to practice surrender first and be OK with God not answering all my questions.”

Jen Ferguson, coauthor of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography

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I Returned His Christmas Gift

(An updated repost from 2013). 

I was a new wife. He was my new husband. And I returned his Christmas gift.

It was a jewelry box–one of those big wooden ones–and he spent a fortune on it. But he encouraged me to take it back if I didn’t really like it.

I thought I was being reasonable when I took his word for it and exchanged it for something I ‘needed’. But now I think I was being foolish.

In fact, if I could talk to my twenty-six-year-old self, here’s what I’d say:

“Ok, I get it. You like to shop for deals. You only buy things on sale. You feel good when you prove that money has elastic in it. And yes, money is tight right now. I get that you want to be conscientious about spending.

But here’s the thing. You weren’t the one spending. You didn’t buy jewelry box. He did.

And yes, of course he said that you could take it back. He did that because he’s a great guy. But did you see that little searching look in his eye, when you opened his gift? Did you see how he watched you, carefully measuring your reaction, as you pulled the paper away from the box? He wasn’t looking at the price tag. He was looking at you. He was loving you, and trying to please you.

Now, here’s something that you don’t yet know about yourself. You’re a Control Girl. You naturally gravitate toward wanting to control. And guess what? Gifts are one of those things in life that you can’t control. You don’t know what will be under the wrapping paper. You can’t control what he’ll buy.

That won’t stop you from trying, though. In the coming years, you will return so many gifts that your sweet husband will lose heart and quit trying so hard. He’ll just go to the store and buy whatever you circled in the sale ad, wrap it up, and hope to see you smile. But by reducing him to a circled-ad gift buyer, you stamp out some of the glowing embers of Christmas.

Here’s my advice: Keep the jewelry box. Keep the sparkle in his eye. Enjoy his choice, and let him choose how much to spend on it. Don’t be a Christmas Control Girl! Be a cheerful, grateful wife, and let yourself delight in your husband’s gift! By doing so, you’ll be a delight to him–both on Christmas Day and the days following, as well.”

Now that I’ve given my younger self some adivce, I’m thinking it might apply to my older self, as well. How about you? Are you a Control Girl at Christmas? If so, let me just say that I get you. I know you’re not trying to exasperate anyone; you’re just trying to make everything turn out right!

But let me ask you. When you clamp down on everything from who will buy what for whom to who will open what when, does this fill your family with Christmas cheer? Or does it make everybody miserable?

I’m learning that the only way to conquer my control problem is to do the opposite of taking control: surrender. To give up control, rather than lunging for it. In my soon-to-be-released book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, I talked a lot about surrendering to God, and His plans for our lives. But there’s also something to be said for surrendering to the people that we love.

When we doggedly insist on keeping the same menu or having the Christmas party at the same place as last year, the people we’re most trying to make everything “right” for–our husbands and children and cousins and aunts–are only getting frustrated and discouraged.

Christmas is a great time to practice surrendering. It’s a great time to give up control and put someone else’s wishes above your own. So what’s one thing you can let go of this Christmas? A tradition or an expectation? The guest list or the order of events? What’s one thing that you’d like to control, but won’t?

Perhaps like me, you need to rethink how you respond to your Christmas presents. Gift receiving is a great way to practice surrendering control. When you open a gift from a loved one, this Christmas, why not give in to his or her preferences?

Wear the scarf.

Read the book.

Plug in the appliance.

Delight in both the gift, and the giver. Surrender yourself to the joy of others, and you’ll find more joy for yourself, too! I should know; I’ve tried it both ways.

PS. (I have no idea what my husband will get me for Christmas this year. I haven’t even made a suggestion! But here’s one thing I know: I’m going to keep it, and enjoy it, and savor the time with him.)

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Join my “CONTROL GIRL” Launch Team!

Dear Friend,

control-girl-cover-amazonI am beside myself with excitement to let you know that my new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From Seven Women in the Bible will be releasing this January! Woo hoo! There have been challenges and delays along the way, but I can see how God’s timing is perfect.

I have absolutely loved working with Kregel Publications to get this book ready for the shelves. But we can’t do it alone. I’m looking for at least 50 people who are willing to be on my “Launch Team”. The first 50 to sign up will receive a launch kit, including a copy of Control Girl. Are you interested? Great!

But first, are you worried you might not be what I’m looking for? Don’t be! I already have asked various authors and speakers to help me promote the book. What I’m looking for in launch team members are:

  • Women excited about the Control Girl message
  • Women who enjoy using social media and sharing with friends
  • Women who love Jesus and want to invite others to walk with Him!

Is that you? Will you consider joining my Launch Team? I would LOVE to have you! As you know, it means very relatively little to someone when I say, “You should read my book. It’s a good book.” Of course I’m going to think my own book is good, right? But if YOU recommend the book to your friends, it means oh so much more.

As a member of the Launch Team, here’s what you’ll be committing to:

  • Participate on private facebook page. This is how I’ll be communicating back and forth with the Launch Team. In early January, after you’ve received your book/launch kit, I will host a live video chat to get you all the information you need and answer any questions you have. The time frame will likely be early January through mid-February.
  • Share on social media. I might ask you to…
    • Share a picture of yourself holding the book
    • Pass along a provided graphic that correlates with the book
    • Share a link on how to purchase the book, or how to sign up for a giveaway
  • Pass out provided post cards to friends and family, at your church, at your bookstore, etc. Consider using the cards to invite a group of friends to work through the book with you.
  • Invite people to the virtual Launch Party on facebook (and try to attend if you can!). I’ll be doing giveaways, some video chats, etc. It will be fun! Date: TBD.
  • Writing a review on Amazon or Goodreads. This does NOT have to be a professional review. Or a long book report. Just share one or two sentences about why YOU like the book. You could start your sentences like this:
    • “As a writer, Shannon is… “
    • “This book will help you…”
    • “One thing I learned is…”
    • “I liked the chapter on _____ because I learned…”

And that’s it! Are you interested? I hope so!! Send me a quick sentence about why you’d like to join, along with your mailing address. You can either comment below, email me at shanpopkin@gmail.com or send me a private message through facebook.

Thanks so much for considering. Please feel free to forward to a friend. I’m SO excited about the book. Can’t wait to see what God will do!

Warmly,

Shannon

PS. Have you liked my Facebook Author Page? This is a great way show your support and get updates.

PS. Have you signed up to receive my once-in-a-while updates and announcements, along with subscriber-only freebies? You’re going to LOVE the freebie I have available right now. Sign up here:

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The College Goodbyes I Wasn’t Ready For

The College GoodbyesI Wasn't Ready ForIn some ways, I’ve been preparing for her to go to college for years. So why did I feel so unprepared? For instance…

…I wasn’t ready, on move-in day, to wake up with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

…I wasn’t ready for the stress rising in me because all of the emails about orientation had gone to her, which meant I had to rely on her for information (which doesn’t feel natural to me).

…I wasn’t ready, as she walked the sidewalk leading to the freshmen cookout/welcome, to drive past and see the brief look of apprehension flicker across her face. I wasn’t ready for how this would affect me, or the emotion it would invoke.

…I wasn’t ready, the next morning, to say goodbye. To walk one way and see her walk another. To know that nothing will ever be the same.

…I wasn’t ready for the wave of regret over things I should have done more of or things I should have done less of; the feeling that time had run out.

…I wasn’t ready to point the car toward home, knowing that once we got there, her room empty room, the empty spot at the table, and her empty car in the driveway would all be there to greet me, but she wouldn’t.

I wasn’t ready. But she was.

She told me so as we went walking, the night before moving her into her dorm.

We had driven thirteen hours that day, and arrived at our hotel just after midnight. Wanting to stretch my legs before bed, and wanting just one more moment alone with my girl, I suggested taking a walk and she agreed. Our hotel was just across the street from her sparkly new campus, so we wandered that way, walking under the street lights on the empty sidewalks, peering into empty buildings and stadiums, and dreaming about what this place would become for her.

In the soft darkness, I asked again, “How are you doing? Do you feel ready?”

She said yes, she was ready. She reasoned that of course it would be hard–not knowing anyone, and starting from scratch. But she knew she would be okay. How did she know? “Because for my whole life you’ve been pushing me to try things I didn’t want to try, and encouraging me to do things that were hard. And I’ve learned that it’s hard at first, but then it gets easier.”

I smiled at this, remembering…

…In fourth grade, we talked about her switching schools. She didn’t want to, but we pushed and encouraged and said, “We’ll be here. God will help you.” And by the end of that year, she had made lifelong friends, and felt a part. She learned to trust God a little more through that experience, and we saw her grow.

…Then in sixth grade, we encouraged her to try the swim team. She didn’t want to, but we pushed and encouraged and said, “We’ll be here. God will help you.” And she loved it. She spent the next seven years swimming down lanes, diving off starting blocks, and shaving off seconds. She learned the value of team spirit and cooperation and developed the tenacity and endurance of a swimmer.

…In seventh grade, she did something she regretted and hurt someone’s feelings. We said she needed to go apologize. She didn’t want to, but we pushed and encouraged and said, “We’ll be here. God will help you.” And when she slipped back into the car after pushing that doorbell and saying those hard words, she felt better. She had learned the value of humbling herself to ask forgiveness, and began making this a habit.

…In tenth grade, we suggested that she gently remind the church leader (who hadn’t followed up) of her interest in playing keyboard in the worship band. She didn’t want to, but we pushed and encouraged and said, “We’ll be here. God will help you.” Her brave persistence led to years of involvement, including dozens of weekends serving with the band by playing in our church’s multiple worship services. She made friends, grew musically, and put down roots both in our church and her faith.

Over the years, we pushed and encouraged, she reluctantly agreed, and God did help her! She grew so much.

And now, she was ready to go. She felt confident because of all God had brought her through in the past. What a courage-inspiring thought. The morning before she moved into her dorm, I took this picture in the hotel room:

Linds Bible

It’s her Bible, resting beside her pillow, where she had been reading before I even woke up. I sent the picture to her later that day, saying, “This is how I know you’ll be okay.” She’ll be okay because she has Him. Because she’s learned to rely on Him to help her.

And now, it’s time to push and encourage–not just her, but me. It’s time for me to try something new. Something I don’t want to do. Something that is hard at first but will get easier. It’s time to let her go. (That’s hard for a Control Girl Mama like me.)

I’ll still be here for her. And God will still help her. And He’ll help me, too.

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