Rhinestones on My Flip-Flops Book Excerpt

Rhinestones on My Flip-Flops by Jane Jenkins Herlong.

Chapter 1: I Did Not Want to Hear This…Period!

Daddy had just tied the Minx, our little boat, at the dock on Abbapoola Creek. My heart was filled with a combination of summer memories and sadness as Momma and Daddy told us to wave good-bye to my favorite beach, Bird Key. Fall was in the air in the Lowcountry; change was coming.

Back at home, I sat on my bed fighting the tears; the summer fun at Bird Key beach was over. My thoughts were interrupted with, “Jea-un, I need to talk with you!” Momma’s voice had a tone of urgency.

I sat at the yellow table and watched the hands on our clock. When is my mother going to be finished with this “important talk”? I wondered. My twelve-year-old mind heard only the words once a month . . . body changing . . .

Finally, Momma said, “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I lied.

“Okay, do you have any questions?”

“Yes. When does Daddy do this?”

The crease between Momma’s eyebrows deepened — a sure sign I had stretched her patience to the limit. She said, “Daddy does not do this. He shaves.”

But women shave too. “What do you call this thing?” I asked.

“It is your period,” Momma replied.

Now that I have experienced this event and all the highly charged emotions that go with it, I think the name period needs to be changed to exclamation point. Girls should be told, “Once a month, you will experience your exclamation point,” which sounds much more appropriate to me.

After that conversation with Momma, I told my BFF all the details I thought I knew.

“So how do you protect your clothes?” she asked when I finished.

Before I share my brilliant answer, let me remind you that back then only one feminine protection product was marketed: Kotex. “Momma says you wear a Q-tip.”

My conversation with Momma introduced me to “the curse” and the word cycle. No more training wheels, skateboards, or pink bicycles with white banana seats. My childhood innocence was moving quickly into womanhood.

I did not like it one bit; it was my first major life flipflop.

The reality is that our lives are one gigantic wheel of change. During adolescence, I was worried. I wondered if I would mature along with other girls my age and eventually look like the super-cute, older girls. It seems like once those changes start, our lives transition into light speed with marriage and children, followed by more interesting changes. And as life unfolds, we will experience inevitable challenges or flip-flops that affect our sense of self, security, and faith.

Rhinestones on My Flip-Flops shows women how to thrive in the midst of life’s changes and challenges. Prudent women search for living examples, or WOW (women of wisdom), as a how-to manual.

Iconic women of the Bible also give us instruction. Here is a partial list of remarkable ladies who have had some major flip-flops and rhinestone moments too: Deceived Eve; Domestic-Diva Martha; Fearless, Fabulous Esther; Mother-of-Nations Sarah; Salty Mrs. Lot; and Dynamic Duo Naomi and Ruth. Coupled with some modern-day ladies, these biblical women provide insights with their personal flip-flops.

I have learned from many WOW in my life. Do you surround yourself with great friends who teach you about handling stress, sickness, marriage, children, aging, and other things? I have my long list of girlfriends who give me sound advice whether I like it or not.

So strap on your sandals — Y-shaped, strap, or thong (for your feet, that is) — and let’s walk the journey of womanhood. I can guarantee that you will get sand between your toes on this wonderful, terrifying, and exhilarating trip. We’ll climb mountains, cruise into the plains, and plummet into some valleys as we search for our eternal heavenly summer. The unknown route of your journey can be rewarding and fulfilling if you pack your suitcase with humor and sound teaching. It’s all about learning how to keep the sparkle and shine on our God-given talents as we experience life’s inevitable flip-flops.

Chapter 2: Deceived Eve

Adam and Eve were the first people who failed to read Apple’s Terms and Conditions.

Here is the account of the first family’s major flipflop:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:6–7 NIV)

I remember my mother teaching Sunday school at St. Johns Episcopal Church on Johns Island. She was loads of fun and always had a unique perspective on Bible stories. Practically every Sunday, Momma would say in her unique Lowcountry brogue, “Chur in’ repeat after me — Gawd is love” and “Jea-un, pay attention,” since I was a convenient target.

Momma’s lesson about Adam and Eve was “classic Eleanor.” It went something like this: “Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden,” said Momma. “Gawd said, ‘Adam, don’t eat the fruit off this tree ’cause the day you eat the fruit is the day you gonna die.’ Then Gawd told Eve the same thing. But the snake said to Eve, ‘You want to be smart, then eat this fruit.’ So Eve tasted it and so did Adam. Then they hid. Well, Gawd could not find them in the garden, so he asked, ‘Where did y’all go?’ Adam said, ‘We are in the bushes.’ Then Gawd asked, ‘Who ate the fruit?’ ‘Eve did,’ said Adam. ‘Adam did,’ blamed Eve. Then the snake said, ‘Both did.’

“Well,” my mother concluded, “Adam and Eve were so ashamed, they ran out the back door through the garden and jumped the fence. AMEN.”

THE CORE ISSUE

My mother loved to color her stories with common sense and humor. She knew the basics. But when you look deeper into this story from the second and third chapters of Genesis, it is filled with the theme of this book: flip-flops and how we handle our mess-ups. The good news is that God is faithful to help us clean up our mix-ups.

We can learn a lot from the mother of us all, Deceived Eve. The serpent had Eve convinced that she would be like God and experience supernatural enlightenment. Oh, yeah, the crafty serpent left out the ugly details of her consequences. That shiny fruit had a nasty aftertaste.

Think of Eve as a dear girlfriend who is fixin’ to make a bad mistake. You pray and seek wisdom to do or say the right words to help her avoid being deceived. Bottom line, you know this person is playing with fire. Do you know anyone like this? Or maybe you are dealing with a moral dilemma?

Remember the tale of the farmer and the snake from the Fables of Aesop?

A farmer takes pity on a frozen snake and brings it home. Thawed, the snake reverts to character and bites all. The wicked show no thanks.1

I bet that serpent in the garden had Eve so mixed up that she could have been convinced to count Adam’s ribs just to make sure there was not another woman around.

My point is the enemy’s greatest tool is deception, and many, beyond reason and common sense, fall prey. I have been told repeatedly that in order to say yes to the laughter of a lifetime you first learn to say no to the passion of the moment.

No question, Eve was deceived. She even reclassified the forbidden tree by location instead of by what it is. She refers to the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” in Genesis 2:17, changing it to the “tree which is in the midst of the garden” (Genesis 3:3). Have you ever justified your thoughts by altering a few innocent details? Yep, I have.

IN A PERFECT WORLD. . .

When I think of Eve, I visualize her as drop-dead gorgeous — the ultimate Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss World. And she didn’t even have to address the number one beauty queen issue: world peace. The Garden of Eden was the World, and there was eternal peace. The girl just had it all.

Eve also lived in an “all natural” world. Nothing was processed in the Garden of Eden. Just walk around in paradise and eat and drink whatever you want. If there had been a label to read, it would have said Perfect.

I started shopping at one of those expensive, natural-foods places. The free-range chicken breasts I bought cost $17.50. The supplier could have at least included a GPS route to find where the chicken roamed to justify the high cost.

“After God created the world, He made man and woman. Then, to keep the whole thing from collapsing, He invented humor.” -Bill Kelly, “Mordillo”

In my mind, the Garden of Eden was like a holy nudist colony. Not only was Eve perfect, but so was her garden home. In “What Was Life Like in the Garden of Eden Before Sin?” Robert Driskell writes:

The world in which Adam and Eve lived would have been the perfect temperature, the perfect humidity, without pests or diseases, and without anything that would detract from their enjoyment of knowing God in a perfect, undiluted way. Surely, this is what is meant by the word “paradise.”2

DID ADAM WEAR THE “PLANTS” IN THE FAMILY?

When God questioned him, Adam blamed Eve. Then Eve blamed the serpent. What else could she do? There was plenty of blame to go around. So God said to both Adam and Eve, “Sorry, out you go.”

The Scriptures also say Eve was attracted to a thing of beauty. God made her that way. Eve wanted to be wise, and she liked beautiful, shiny things. So that means it’s okay to shop, right? But there was a deeper issue about to bite into Eve’s character. The enemy used her natural attraction to beauty to entice her closer to disobedience:

When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6 NET)

Sadly, Eve believed the lies of the enemy. Honestly, we fight the battle of the “shiny things” every day. Learn from Deceived Eve. This beautiful woman who lived in a perfect world made a bad mistake. Yep, Adam and Eve starred in the pilot episode of Naked and Afraid.

But even though Adam and Eve turned on God, He still loved them. We also see how God’s heart was grieved and how passionate our Father is about fellowship with His children.

“The Lord made Adam, the Lord made Eve, he made ’em both a little bit naive.”3 -Yip Harburg

The New International Version states that Adam named his wife Eve because she would become the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20). Is it fair to assume that Eve also knew more than the Lord wanted her to know? Have you ever contemplated that? I’ve matured enough to realize that sometimes not knowing is a healthy option. When someone wants to speak ill of another person, many times I do not want to know. Knowing that kind of information may pollute my mind. What if this person speaks ill of you? I learned a great lesson years ago: what others think about you is none of your business, so do not make it your business.

In Bury Me with My Pearls, I share some stories in the chapter titled “Dark Pearl” about a heart-wrenching time my family experienced. During all the drama, there was a family member whom I trusted. She was so loving toward my mother, and I felt very close to her. Several people warned me that she was betraying me. As my second momma, Tootsie, often said in her Gullah brogue, “Jea-un, bess not trust she.”

I decided to focus on how well this family member treated my mother. Turns out, she was the kind of person who gathered information so she could use it against you. She admitted it was her way of being “in the know” and having “friends.” Basically, gossiping made her feel wanted. Rather than recall how she deceived me, I choose to focus on her many acts of kindness toward my mother. This is an example of deciding to close your ears and mouth. Refuse to let unhealthy words and thoughts poison your mind, just like the forbidden fruit poisoned Deceived Eve’s judgment.

THE FRUIT THAT BITES BACK

The biblical account of our first family is a tale of not-so-beautiful consequences. It is a story about making a split-second decision that can rule the rest of your life.

Beautiful Eve had a great husband and lived in paradise. But she wanted more. Sadly, believing the lie that she didn’t have it all cost her all. This was “man- or womankind’s” first major flip-flop.

What we as women learn about Deceived Eve is to beware of the lie that we need more of something. Be thankful for what you have and count your blessings every day. In the midst of temptations, serious mistakes can be made. You can recover with time, prayer, and the right people in your life. Let’s face it, we all have flip-flops, but how we handle them depends on our level of commitment in developing godly character.

In Eve’s case, she had to accept the fact that there was no going back. She had to adjust to a new life in a not-so-perfect land. Maybe she also had to learn how to forgive herself in order to adjust to her new life.

This story is about Adam and Deceived Eve’s life-flops that flipped humanity, including deception, blame, consequences, and mercy. Always remember, in the eyes of our Father, there are no flip-flops too large to overcome.

In the midst of the mess-up, there was good news about our first family: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21 kjv). How about that — God was merciful then and still is today.

There is no way I can conclude this chapter without mentioning my father-in-law’s infamous toast he was asked to share at various weddings and other celebrations.

“Daddy Big John” loved sharing this colorful toast that always made my precious mother-in-law, “Mama Jewell,” blush:

Here’s to Eve, the mother of our race.
She kept every leaf in its proper place.
Here’s to Adam, the father of us all.
He knew just what to do when the leaves would fall.

Eve’s Flip-Flop: She allowed herself to be deceived. She wanted more. Eve did not realize she had it all until she lost it all.

Eve’s Sparkle and Shine: She gave us a gift, a “fruit” basket. Watch out for subtle deceivers, own your mistakes, and don’t play the blame game. Bless Eve’s deceived heart, she persevered and accepted her consequences.

How can you shine in the midst of your mess-ups? Remember, there are no flip-flops too large to overcome.

1. http://fablesofaesop.com/the-farmer-and-the-snake.html.

2. Robert Driskell, What Christians Want to Know. Copyright© 2010–2015. Telling Ministries LLC, www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-was-life-like-in-the-garden-of-eden-before-sin/.


We hope you enjoyed these two chapters from RHINESTONES ON MY FLIP-FLOPS by humorist and speaker Jane Jenkins Herlong. If you’d like to continue reading the book, it is available for purchase in trade paperback and ebook formats wherever books are sold, including:

Copyright 2017 Faithwords, a Division fo Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.
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