Each Thursday for the next few weeks, we are talking about breaking free from insecurity, comparison, and shame. We are sharing our raw and messy real life stories. But also, more importantly, we are sharing the truths that set us free. We have bathed this series in prayer and ask now that the Father knit our hearts together and strengthen us to slay this giant called “insecurity” in our hearts.
Today I have the wonderful pleasure of introducing you to a sweet online friend who has just published a book that speaks to me in a thousand different ways. Jennifer Lee is an Iowa girl who loves Jesus. Her new book is entitled Love Idol: Letting go of your need for approval—and seeing yourself through God’s eyes. Whew! Now, that’ll preach.
I would bet my handmade cathedral window quilt that more than a few of you, either perceptibly or imperceptibly, let out a low whistle when you read that title. Who among us has NOT sought the approval of another human being, AND based our worth on what that person thought and said about us? Raise your hand if you can identify. I’ve got mine raised right alongside yours.
Friends, I have had a chance to preview Love Idol (and I talked about it in this post earlier this week). I’ve drained one hi-lighter dry underlining passages that spoke to me. Today, I want you to meet the author of Love Idol and hear about the book. At the end of my interview with Jennifer Lee, you are going to have an opportunity to win a copy of Love Idol. I want to bless one of my readers with their very own copy.
Now, please welcome Jennifer to The Point!
LA: I may have readers who have not had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ you online. What would you like for my readers to know about you? Please introduce yourself to them.
JDL: First of all, I wish I could reach through the screen and hug you, Leah. I wish I could see the beautiful faces of all your readers. So, I’ll wave hello and just tell you how delighted I am to be here.
My name is Jennifer Dukes Lee. I am a storyteller and a grace dweller. My farmer-husband and I are raising crops, pigs and two humans on our farm in northwest Iowa. I am a former news reporter and a former adjunct journalism professor. I still love to tell the story, and — as the old hymn says – “t’will be my theme in glory.”
LA: What occupies your free time? Hobbies, interests?
JDL: There’s nothing quite like propping my feet up on the rim of an old aluminum boat, somewhere out where the loons cry and a lone eagle soars and the sun melts like orange sherbet on the western sky. I can see it now: I’ve got a fishing pole in my hand, and it doesn’t matter a bit whether I’ve hooked into a walleye or a large-mouth bass … or nothing at all. Because I’m hooked by the glory of God out there on those rippling waters.
There’s more to my hobby life, but right now, I am thinking of lazy summer days on a fishing boat.
LA: What are some items on your bucket list?
JDL: I am one of those people who doesn’t have a bucket list. Which may make me sound rather boring. But I’m learning that I am most content when I dwell in the now, when I inhabit the moments I’m living. Life is so fleeting. So I seek the remarkable in what some find unremarkable – that’s where the burning bushes are. The sacred happens when we’re feeding the cats, and packing school lunches, and folding denim, and fishing for walleye, but catching nothing at all. It’s when the bed gets crowded on nights when thunderstorms rumble. Those sacred moments taste like maple syrup — and they put fresh fingerprints on my Windex-ed windows.
LA: How did you develop an interest in writing and when did you begin writing seriously?
JDL: I have been writing professionally since I was 16 years old, when I took my first job as a news reporter at our local weekly. I covered sports and small feature stories. I went on to study journalism at IowaStateUniversity, where I served as the editor of our campus newspaper, putting out an 18-page paper every day. I worked internships around the country and landed my first news full-time job at the Omaha World-Herald in 1995. I went on to work several years at The Des Moines Register, where I covered the 2000 presidential election and state politics. We moved to the farm after our first daughter was born. I started a faith blog in 2008. That’s where I began to process my faith life out loud, which eventually led to a book contract with Tyndale Momentum in 2012.
LA: Every book has a back story. What is the back story behind Love Idol? What was the impetus for you to write this book?
The book is about letting go of our need for approval, and seeing ourselves through God’s eyes. Approval is a powerful force in our world. We want to be loved, and liked, and known and validated. And sometimes, we want all that from people – more than we want it from God.
I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy since I was a child – even though I was a perfectionist child with the A grades to prove it. I had always hoped that my good performances would fill the desire for significance and value. I wanted the approval of parents, peers, and pastors – of everyone.
Retraining my heart would take years. But I knew it was worth the fight – not only for me, but for our daughters. Children are mirrors, reflecting what they see in us. I’ll never forget one Thanksgiving several years ago. I found one of the girls crying in the corner of a bedroom. She had drawn a self-portrait and labeled the parts: “Boring brown hair. Stupid glasses. Dumb freckles. Bad teeth.” She had scrawled across the top of the paper: UGLY.
So many of us – as girls – feel like we’re never enough. And we grow up into women who feel the same way.
I sat on the floor next to my daughter that afternoon and held her for a long time. I vowed that I would provide a firm foundation for my girls to know that a woman’s identity is found in Christ alone. But I would need to live that truth out. I would need to model my Christ-identity.
My girls and I started saying these words out loud: “We’ve had enough of the not-enoughs.”
I started journaling my experiences, writing on my blog, and speaking about the issue of approval. On paper, I could see how my life had become a long journey of seeking approval in the classroom, the corporate cubicle, and my own family tree. After talking with women across the country, I’ve learned that my journey is every woman’s journey – even though the details of our stories differ.
That’s when this book was born: Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes.
I felt called to walk with other women to a place of freedom.
LA: Share with us a bit about Love Idol.
JDL: This book is a journey. It’s a place where we can lay down all of our “not enoughs.” It’s not a book of how-tos or tacked-on requirements for the Christian life. It will not tell you what you must do to earn or gain more love and approval from others. Instead, it’s a book that woos women to open their hands to receive a love that is already theirs.
LA: Why should someone read Love Idol? What does it offer them personally?
JDL: Even before the book’s release, we saw how women are so hungry for this message. During the season of Lent, many women began to lay down their love idols. They were eager to open their hearts to real change—and real love. Together, we began to ask where the idols of approval and love lurked in our lives. Whose approval do we seek? How could we practically and prayerfully give that idol up – for good and for GOD?
The book is designed to help women lay those idols down. I pray that the book helps dismantle what’s separating us from true connection with God, and to rediscover the astonishing freedom of a life lived in authentic love.
The reader will find a lot of my own stories in Love Idol, but there’s plenty of space (and a four-week discussion guide at the end of the book) devoted to helping women identify and evict their own love idols.
Together, we are discovering how we are already approved; we have nothing to prove. In Christ, we are preapproved.
LA: How can my readers find you? Blog? Social media?
JDL: I’d love to connect with your readers on my blog at http://www.jenniferdukeslee.com/. They can subscribe to my posts, which are delivered three times a week by email. Also, I love to connect with people on my Facebook author page, on Twitter, and in our Love Idol Movement page on Facebook.
LA: When and where will Love Idol be available for purchase?
JDL: The book is available everywhere books are sold. You can find links to online retailers at www.loveidolbook.com.
LA: What final thoughts would you like to share with my readers?
JDL: A prayer, if I may …
Gracious and loving God, Thank you for a love that is already ours. We don’t have to work for it, don’t have to beg for it, don’t have to earn it, or squirrel it away for a time of famine. We can turn around and receive Cross-bought love, freely given, abundantly. We don’t have anything to prove. In You, we’re preapproved. Thank you for this incomparable gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photos by Angie Green of Angie Green Photography.
GIVEAWAY: If you would like to be entered to win a copy of Love Idol all you have to do is leave a comment ON THIS POST. The giveaway will be open until Monday morning, April 7th. On April 7th, I will draw a winner. Please be sure and leave me your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.
You have up to 4 chances to win. Here is how:
Leave a comment here: – 1 chance
Link to this post on your blog – 1 chance (be sure and come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did this)
Tweet this post – 1 chance (be sure and come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did this)
Share this post on Facebook – 1 chance (be sure and come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did this)
I’m excited to share Love Idol with one of you!! Thanks for stopping by!