Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

What Kind of Reader Are You?

I have seen this quiz pop up on a couple of different blogs so I finally had to go take it -

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

What kind of reader are you? If you decide to take it - let me know so I can go see your results!

Cornelia Funke Challenge Wrap Up

Well, sadly folks there is nothing to wrap up here - We had 3 months to read 3 books. It hurt me that after waiting a month for the first book from the library - I finally went out and bought it! But that put me behind from the get-go so must say I didn't try very hard after that. I still am the proud owner of the first two books in this series with plans on buying the third - so they will be read! Just not before Sunday when the challenge is over!

Lit Flicks Challenge Wrap Up

Another challenge that is ending tomorrow is the Lit Flicks Challenge - The books I read are below - I also watched the movies - Holes and Ten Little Indians (And Then There Were None) and who hasn't seen the Harry Potter movies? I still want to get ahold of The Handmaid's Tale as I would like to see that as a movie! Am also eagerly awaiting The Lovely Bones and The Road!

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold - move set for release Dec 2009
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
The Road - Cormac McCarthy (Movie release for 2009)
Holes - Louis Sachar

Naming Conventions Challenge Wrap Up

Yeah - another challenge finished! This challenge started in September and went as many months as there were letters in your name (or the name you were using!)- so mine ended this month. I used Kristi and you can see the books that I read below.



K -King, Stephen - Duma Key

R - Rose, Karen - Scream for Me

I - Ishiguro, Kazua -Never Let Me Go

S - Simpson, Stephen - Assaulted by Joy

T - Tyndall, M.L. - The Red Siren

I - Ibomu, Afya - Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats and Cool Caps



I was glad to finish this one - and these were not my original picks for the authors!

Friday Fill-Ins 2-27-2009



Time for Friday Fill Ins! I haven't done this one before because I always make the mistake of reading other blogs first. Then I can't come up with different answers! So - this week I remembered not to do that!

1. I'm Henry the 8th I am, Henry the 8th I am, I am , I got married to the widow next door - she's been married 7 times before and every one was a Henry (ok - if you don't know the song by Herman's Hermits-you probably think I am a little nuts!)

2. Why do I have so many books to read and not enough time.

3. How does this snow blower work, anyway?

4. Every morning, I put underwear on my son.

5. I consider myself lucky because I don't have to go to work!

6. One day we’ll see God in all his glory.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hearing my oldest daughter sing a solo at her high school concert, tomorrow my plans include seeing if we can afford putting in a three season room and Sunday, I want to go shopping for threads for a new needlepoint project!

Go visit Janet at Friday Fill ins and play along!

The Friday 56 2-27-2009


Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.



The closest book to me is Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione - I just received this from Hachette Books this week. After reading these sentences on page 56 it really has me intrigued!



Her head snapped back as though he'd slapped her. "I would never wish this on you." She looked down at her hands, which were folded in her lap. "I know what it's like to love a sibling."

Friday Finds 2-27-2009


I "found" this author in yesterdays Shelf Awareness newsletter - It is Melissa Marr and the books are Wicked Lovely and Fragile Eternity.

Descriptions (from Fantastic Fiction): Wicked Lovely - The clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in this cool, urban 21st century faery tale.

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world, and would blind her if they knew of her Sight.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.

Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.

But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King and has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost! Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working any more, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Description (also from Fantastic Fiction) Fragile Eternity - which is due out April 21!

Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone - but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he'd ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen.

Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who'd always terrified her - but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she'd ever imagined.

In Melissa Marr's third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos.

What great books did you find this week?? Stop over at Should Be Reading and share yours!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Fruit of My Lipstick by Shelley Adina (Book Review)



Title: The Fruit of My Lipstick (Book 2 in the All About Us Series)
Author: Shelley Adina
Publisher: Faith Words/Hachette Books
Genre: YA/Christian fiction


First sentence: The New Year. . . when a young girl's heart turns to new beginnings, weight loss, and a new term of chemistry!

Christmas break is over and we are back at Spencer Academy with Lissa, Gillian, Carly, and Shani. Since Lissa was able to tell her story about Callum in It's All About Us (and Carly will share her story in book 3 - Be Strong and Curvaceous) it is Gillian's turn to come clean about her infatuation with Lucas Hayes - the smartest guy at Spencer Academy.

Lucas is working towards the Physics Olympiad when he and Gillian hook up. Gillian has never had a boyfriend before and is pretty quick to get swept up in the moment. While she likes Lucas, and always looks forward to seeing him, she doesn't always feel quite happy after her time spent with him - but it is nothing that she can put her finger on, so she just chalks it up to not having anything to compare it to. At the same time, though, she needs to concentrate on her own grads or her Type A dad will be coming down on her pretty hard!

Most of the other juniors are studying hard also, except for those that have been buying exam sheets from Source10. Nobody knows who this person is - but the whole junior class is going to be punished with F's if they are not caught!

First, one of Gillian's friends is suspended for the deed - then Gillian herself is put on house arrest as a suspect! They give their problems to God and pray that the truth will come out - but will it happen in time to save the semester? And where will this leave Gillian in her relationship with Carly, Lissa and Shani - not to mention Lucas!

I enjoyed this book as much as I did the 1st and 3rd books in the series. I like the way they gradually lead you into Christianity without being preachy. I think this series would definitely be good for those teens/young adults struggling with their faith.

The fourth book in the series - Who Made You a Princess? is due out in May 2009!

Booking Through Thursday 2-26-2009




  • Hardcover? Or paperback?
  • Illustrations? Or just text?
  • First editions? Or don't you care?
  • Signed by the author? Or not?

I don't really care if a book is hardcover or paperback - if it is an author that I like and the story is good, that is all that matters. I do have a bunch of authors that I "collect" their books - these are mainly authors that I started reading when I was a teen (Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul) and I have added some to the mix now (Anne Rice, Karen Rose, Ted Dekker, Robert Liparulo, Anne Perry). I think that you can tell what kind of books that I like to read!

I don't really care if a book is a first edition or not - it doesn't change the story within and that is really what is all about. Now as for being signed by the author? I think this is very cool - especially when you win the books from a giveaway and the author emails you personally to find out to whom he should autograph them. (Thanks Mr. Liparulo!!)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Deb here.

    Thursday Thunks 2-26-09




    Time for this weeks set of questions from Thursday Thunks! Head on over here to play along!

    1. What kind of dryer sheets do you use?

    I don't use dryer sheets - they clog up the lint traps and can start a fire - I use softener in my washing machine!

    2. How many times a week do you eat out/order in?

    We have pizza every Friday - sometimes out, sometimes in - then I usually take my son to Mickey Dees once a week for lunch if he has been good. And maybe once a month my hubby and I get to go out w/o the kids - otherwise only for special occasions (or when our power goes out!)

    3. What did you do the night of your high school graduation?

    Slept! But really - I don't remember - it was 25 years ago!

    4. So Octomom is rumored to have been offered a million bucks to do a porno. Would you do it for a million?

    NO WAY!

    5. If your child was born with an extra finger or toe, would you have it surgically removed?

    Only if it affected their health in some way.

    6. What was the last movie you saw?

    In the theaters - He's Just Not That Into You (It was just ok for me)

    At home - Vantage Point (Thought this was a really good movie)

    7. I wanna buy you a dozen roses, what color should they be?

    Who cares! Roses are roses!

    8. You are walking across the street, you are not quite halfway when a speeding car comes. . .you have to run to get out of the way, which direction do you run?

    Probably would depend which lane the speeding car is in! But most likely forward.

    9. Tell us about a time when you were invited over somewhere and had the most awful time.

    Hmmm.. Not really sure I have had an awful time anywhere - but we did have guests over once - and my husband had made some homemade spaghetti sauce (there was just the 4 of us) and the other wife loaded up her plate - hardly leaving enough for the rest of us - and then announced she didn't like it! Can I say that they weren't invited back??

    10. You open your front door and their is a box with a puppy in it. . . what do you do?

    Slam it quick before the two dogs that I have eat it! - no just kidding - but since we do already have 2 other dogs, I am sure that we would look for a good home for it - even though I would love to keep it!

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats and Cool Caps - Afya Ibomu (Book Review)


    Title: Get Your Crochet On! Hip Hats and Cool Caps
    Author: Afya Ibomu
    Publisher: The Taunton Press
    Ok - normally I wouldn't review a craft book - but I needed an I author for the Naming Convention challenge, which for me is ending on Saturday. I didn't think that I was going to make it when I saw the author of this book that I had checked out this month from the library!
    I love to crochet (and knit and needlepoint and cross-stitch) but of course, no one has as much time as they would like!
    This book starts out with the basics - covering what you need to crochet (yarn, hooks and all the extras people who are addicted have to have). It then has a nice section on color with a real quick lesson on color theory and the color wheel. This will be helpful to me in the future!
    The next section covers how to actually crochet. It seems like an easy lesson - covers all of the stitches that are used in the book - but I know how to crochet, so that might be why it seemed easy. . . It also has some neat tips for changing yarn colors, or weaving in ends, joining seams. All of those things necessary to create a hat (or bag or garment as you expand your crocheting!)
    Next up is the best section - the patterns! As in all craft books, you always have some patterns that make your eyebrows go up wondering who in the world thought of THAT one. This book has its share of - No Way Would I Ever Wear That - but there are also those - cool patterns, the ones that make you have to own the book! I checked this out with the good intention that I was going to make my daughter a hat. But seeing as it's the end of February and that hasn't happened yet - there is always next year.

    First Wild Card Tour - Love as a Way of Life Devotional; I Do Again; For Couples Only

    It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

    You never know when I might play a wild card on you!






    Today we are doing something special for Wild Card. Since February is the month of LOVE, we have three (really four, one is a boxed set) books dealing with love. The authors are:














    and the books:




    Love as a Way of Life Devotional by Dr. Gary Chapman



    WaterBrook Press (October 7, 2008)




    I Do Again by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs



    WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)




    For Couples Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn



    Multnomah Books (January 13, 2009)




    ABOUT THE AUTHORs:


    Love as a Way of life Devotional by Dr. Gary Chapman

    Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of twenty-six books, including Love As a Way of Life and the New York Times bestseller The Five Love Languages. An internationally respected marriage and family-life expert, he hosts the daily radio program A Love Language Minute. Dr. Chapman and his wife, Karolyn, live in North Carolina, where he serves on a church staff.

    Visit the author's website.

    Product Details:

    List Price: $13.99
    Hardcover: 224 pages
    Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 7, 2008)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0307444694
    ISBN-13: 978-0307444691

    I Do Again by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs

    Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs are the founders of Hope Matters Marriage Ministries, and for the past several years they have shared their incredible story of a marriage restored with audiences across the nation. Jeff is an account manager with OshKosh B'Gosh, and Cheryl has served as director of the Frisco, Texas, office of the Center for Christian Counseling. They live in Dallas, Texas with their two college-age daughters

    Visit the author's website.

    Product Details:

    List Price: $13.99
    Paperback: 208 pages
    Publisher: WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1400074452
    ISBN-13: 978-1400074457

    For Couples Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

    Shaunti Feldhahn is a public speaker and the best-selling
    author of several books. She contributes the conservative opinion for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's popular online "Woman to Woman" column, which is syndicated nationwide.

    Jeff Feldhahn is an attorney and the CEO of the tech company World2One. Jeff and Shaunti each hold graduate degrees from Harvard University. They are active small-group leaders in their Atlanta-area and the parents of two.

    Visit the author's website.

    Product Details:

    List Price: $19.95
    Hardcover
    Publisher: Multnomah Books (January 13, 2009)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1601422482
    ISBN-13: 978-1601422484


    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTERs:




    Part 1

    Love as a New Way of Life


    Bedtime Stories

    I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    —ROMANS 8:38–39


    When my grandchildren were toddlers, I read many books to them about farms, the alphabet, and how to have good manners. A more subtle theme among children’s picture books is unconditional love. “Mama, do you love me?” a child asks her mother. “How much do you love me?” a bunny asks his father. With a variety of settings and characters, countless books represent children asking, “What if I ran away? What if I hurt you? What if I traveled to the moon or broke a vase or hit my sister? Would you still love me?”

    “Yes,” the parent says. “I will love you no matter what. I will always love you.”

    These cozy bedtime stories reflect a universal need that we never outgrow: the need to know that someone, somewhere, loves us without restraint or condition. What a gift we give each other when we communicate that kind of love every day. We might not say it with words. In fact, we might choose to love by not speaking but by being patient in the face of frustration, kind when someone is rude to us, or humble when it would be easier to talk about our accomplishments. But every time we are purposeful about making love a way of life, we are affirming what we each need to hear— and what God speaks to us every day: You are loved. No matter what. Forever and always.

    Thought

    How would truly believing God loves you—no matter what—change your thoughts and actions in the next twenty-four hours?





    Prologue

    Cheryl

    October 1999

    Do you, Jeff, take Cheryl to be your wife, to love her, honor her, and cherish her, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for as long as you both shall live?”

    I looked into Jeff ’s eyes and held both of his trembling hands. He looked back at me, but neither of us could see very well for the tears—mine boldly streaming down my cheeks.

    “I do.” Jeff ’s voice was low but strong. The words echoed in my mind.

    I do. I do.

    The minister repeated the words, this time to me, and it was my turn to say it.

    I do. I meant it with every fiber of my being. I wanted to shout it to everyone within hearing distance, scrawl it on the walls, write it in the sky. “I do!” I glanced around me. The tiny chapel nestled in the Colorado mountains was awash with rainbow-hued sunlight streaming through stained glass windows, as if God was personally pouring down his blessings on our little ceremony. I felt a chill run down my spine.

    “What token of your love do you offer?”

    Jeff and I watched as our twin daughters, eleven years old and sparkling in off-white dresses with matching shoes and tights, stepped forward to offer the minister our wedding bands. Brand-new rings, simple and elegant, perfect for our brand-new life.

    “With this ring, I thee wed.” ”We repeated the words, mindful that we’d said them before but knowing this time it was different. I could barely remember the ceremony seventeen years earlier when I’d first promised to love, honor, and cherish Jeff. I didn’t keep my promise. But this time I would. As Jeff ’s eyes locked on to mine, I knew he was thinking the same thing.

    “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

    Such simple words: Now. Husband.Wife.

    So familiar, yet so…unbelievable. How long had I anticipated this moment? Seven years, for sure. Or was it more like eighteen? my entire life? Jeff and I shared a kiss and then pulled our daughters into the embrace. A family hug. We squeezed each other tightly while our tears flowed, and it was all I could do to keep my knees from buckling. We stood there, embracing, wiping each other’s tears, and laughing together. I smiled at my incredible husband, my heart overflowing with gratitude. So much gratitude. A whole new life together. It couldn’t possibly be real. We were a family again. Who would have thought? Who in the world could ever have thought this would happen?




    One

    Cheryl

    2007

    I don’t love him anymore.” Amy has barely gotten herself settled on the couch in my office when she blurts out her opening line. She is brunette, petite, and cute, wearing fashionable jeans and just a touch of makeup. She’s the picture of a suburban, got-it-all-together mom—every hair in place, her haircut the latest in chic. Only her expression gives her away. She stares at me, defiant. I recognize the anger. Been there, done that.

    “Your husband. ”Who else would she be talking about?

    “Actually, I don’t know if I ever loved him.”

    Here we go again, I think, my stomach clenching. How many times have I heard the grief, seen the desperation, felt the rage? How many times has my heart broken for a despairing woman who’s come for counseling because she’s lost all hope of her marriage ever working? There are so many hurting couples, so many troubled souls.

    “Okay. Let’s talk about it.” I open my notepad and prepare to hear the familiar words. She has no feelings left. She is numb. Wants out of the marriage. Never should have married him in the first place. What was she thinking? Picked the wrong guy. Amy takes a breath and hardly veers from the speech I’d anticipated.

    “We’re separated right now. John doesn’t love me—he doesn’t even know me. It feels like he never wanted to know me. We don’t talk—we never have. He doesn’t care who I am.” She pauses. “I know this is wrong. I feel bad about the kids and everything, but I can’t take it anymore. I don’t feel like I can do this one more day.” She looks away. There is more, but she’s suddenly clammed up.

    “Sounds like you’re in a lot of pain.”

    She fidgets. Her stony glare has departed, and now her eyes flit around the edges of the room. I try again.

    “Can you tell me why you don’t love him anymore?”

    “I told you—he doesn’t love me. It’s dead. There’s nothing there. This

    isn’t a marriage. I’m done.”

    “Why did you want to talk to me?”

    “I just… I didn’t know what to do. I want out. But I know I’m supposed to…you know, try. Everyone says get counseling. So here I am.”

    “Are you looking for a way out, or are you hoping we might find a way to make your marriage work?”

    The defiant stare is back. She looks at me, her eyes steely. “No, I… I

    can’t do it.” She is suddenly looking at her lap. I consider her eyes, her body language. I try to listen to the words she hasn’t spoken. She’s clearly battered, beaten up emotionally. She feels unloved and worthless. And I wonder, Has she met someone who makes her feel loved again?

    I’ve never met Amy before, but I’ve seen her countless times, sitting here on my office couch…or sobbing to me over coffee. Other Amys. Other women who find themselves at the same terrible crossroads. I was Amy once. And while my heart breaks for her, it simultaneously surges with hope. If only… Oh, God…My silent words are a prayer, both for Amy and for me.


    Cheryl

    1992


    August 21, 1992. The worst day of my life. Ten years after walking down the aisle as a young, hope-filled bride, I walked into a courtroom to claim a different kind of hope: liberation from my awful marriage. This was the day I’d obtain the freedom to be with my new love, the soul mate I thought I’d finally found. Today I’d hold in my hands the piece of paper I’d been coveting, the ticket to a whole new and much better life. I stood in front of the judge and told him I wanted a divorce. Earlier that morning, I lay in bed for a moment after shutting off the alarm, groggy with sleep. Something’s happening today. What is it? I tried to clear the fog from my brain, and then my heart lurched as I remembered. Today’s the day! I waited for the excitement to kick in. You’re free today, Cheryl! You’ve been waiting for this for so long! But I felt heavy and unable to move. What is wrong with me? The morning passed in a haze as I readied Brittany and Lauren for preschool and got the three of us out the door. I tried to ignore the dull ache in my stomach. Breakfast was out of the question, and it was all I could do to sip a cup of coffee. After dropping off the girls, I sat in traffic on my way to the Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas. With a few moments to think, I tried talking some sense into myself. Buck up, girl! This is what you wanted…the day you’ve been waiting for! You’re finally going to be happy. For the tiniest moment, I glimpsed a truth I didn’t want to see through a crack in the strong facade I’d built around myself. What if I was making a mistake? What if my traitorous stomach was trying to tell me something?

    No. I won’t go there. I’m almost to the courthouse; I’m about to get what I wanted. I’ve always worked so hard, and getting what I want has never come easily. Right now, what I want is freedom, and by gosh, I am going to get it. I can’t allow any negative thoughts to distract me. The cold institutional hallway of the courthouse gave me shivers as I stood waiting for an elevator. Although the hustle and bustle of people surrounded me, I had never felt more alone. But I had on a classy suit, stylish heels, and my best determined smile, and I maintained my composure like a pro. Nobody would know I had the least bit of emotion in me. The reality was that feelings swirled in side my head and my heart, and I just wanted to go home, pull the covers over my head, and pretend my life did not exist. I met my attorney at the door of the courtroom.

    “Good morning.” His voice was low and smooth, all business. “Today’s the day.”

    I nodded, uncharacteristically mute. I don’t remember what happened next. I suppose there were other cases before the judge, other lives being turned upside down. All I know for sure is that my internal battle was raging and I fought to keep it quiet, to disregard it altogether, and make sure the cool detached expression remained plastered on my face. Finally it was my turn, and I stood, trembling visibly, next to my lawyer, facing the judge. Words were spoken; questions were asked. Did I want a divorce? Yes. But at the moment, I couldn’t remember why.

    The judge wanted to know why my husband wasn’t there. How could I tell him that Jeff had not wanted the divorce? That he’d fought against it? Through tears of anguish he’d pleaded with me to change my mind. He prayed for reconciliation. He hoped for another chance. He yearned for my heart to soften. But he lost. At that instant, standing in the courtroom, I felt like a horrible person.

    I wanted to turn to the strangers around me and let them know I was a good person. I really was. I loved being a wife and wanted to be a good one. I absolutely loved being a mom. Yet I could not go on in the emptiness…or in the dreadful lack of intimacy. I was dedicated and loyal, trustworthy and sweet. But I could not see any other way out of the chronic ache I had felt for years. I had worked it out in my mind and saw no option other than to escape and start over. I knew I would have a label now, even in Jeff ’s mind, of being an adulterer and a mean person. But the truth was that I was broken and hurting. How could I tell everyone this when my actions seemed to say the opposite?

    “Jeff needed to work today,” I told the judge, who nodded. I don’t think he believed it for a second. Jeff was at the office, all right. I stood in front of the bench, wondering what was running through his mind as he sat at his desk attempting to work. Would he cry? Was he angry? How was he dealing with the fact that his marriage and family were being ripped apart? How did he feel knowing he would soon officially be a single, divorced dad? And what right had I to be worried about any of that? I was the cause of it. It was a little late for me to be worried about Jeff ’s feelings.

    “Divorce granted.” The gavel went down with an authoritative thud.

    Was it my imagination, or did the judge look a little sad? Perhaps disappointed. I wondered what it must be like to preside over the dissolution of families all day long. That word—dissolution—so cold and impersonal. I think the judge knew better. I think he knew he was seeing devastation… wreckage…sorrow…and there was nothing he could do but bang his gavel. The sound of that gavel nearly did me in. My hand went to my chest as I felt my heart explode into palpitations like I’d never felt before. The urge to throw up became overwhelming, and it took every ounce of willpower to steady myself and walk to the rear of the courtroom.

    My echoing footsteps seemed to pound in my head as I walked down the dreary hallway. Next to me, my attorney was oblivious, moving quickly as always, focused on his dinner plans or his next case. He stopped when we reached the front entrance to the courthouse. At the top of the steps, he offered his hand.

    “Congratulations,” he said, giving me a satisfied, I-just-won-a-case smile.

    “Mmm hmm…” I shook his hand, but could not muster a response.

    “Congratulations.” Did I deserve that? Did he? Something told me the answer was no. But this was what I’d wanted, fought for, worked toward. And here it was. As I drove away from the courthouse, I finally admitted to myself that I was confused. I had honestly expected to feel elated on this day, ready to break out the champagne and celebrate. I hadn’t allowed myself to doubt the course I was on. For over two years I had known in my heart that divorce was the right way to go. The only way to go. It was the single remedy I could fathom for my despairing hopelessness—the only way to find happiness. It was the only way to finally be with my new love, who was even now awaiting my phone call. I scolded myself for being so emotional and decided it was just the newness of the situation that was making me feel so desolate. Soon the excitement of freedom would kick in. Besides, I had no time for wallowing. I had to get to the bank. I stood in the crowded line, tapping my foot, my eyes darting around impatiently at all the people waiting to do their banking. Was anyone else here to divide up a shared existence? It struck me as odd that a relationship— a life—could be reduced to a few lines on a computer screen and declared finished as the numbers were separated and allocated. One life becomes two, just like that. Visions of my sweet family flashed in my mind—family portraits, candid shots—but I thrust them away, an expert now at doing so.

    “How are you today?” the teller asked, as I pushed my paperwork toward her.

    “Okay.” I managed a bittersweet smile. As she clicked her keyboard and took care of the details of financial distribution, she must have known better. But she gave me a perky smile right back.

    “Let me go print out the checks.” She walked away as I nodded. Half an hour later I stood hesitantly at Jeff ’s office and gave a small knock. He looked up and slowly leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head. His red and swollen eyes spoke volumes. But his face was hard, giving nothing away. If I had to say what I saw in his expression, I would have said disbelief. He truly could not fathom that this was happening. I inched my way toward his desk and held out the check for his half. I couldn’t say anything, and neither could he. Jeff looked at the check, then as he tilted his head, his eyes met mine. His hand did not lift to take the check. Slowly I lowered it to the desk, and Jeff ’s eyes followed it. He stared at the piece of paper. I read his mind and answered silently. Yes, this is what it comes down to. A number with a dollar sign next to it.

    I turned and walked slowly toward the door. When I got there, I stopped and faced him again, my eyes brimming with tears and my heart aching with sorrow. I wanted to run into his arms but held myself back, briefly wondering at this crazy desire. What was wrong with me? The look on his face stung. I couldn’t believe that after all this time he could still appear so…shocked. I had to ask him a question.

    “Did you really think this was going to happen?”

    I don’t know what I expected him to say. Part of me harbored an irrational hope that Jeff would suddenly be happy about the divorce—that he would confirm that I’d done the right thing. I needed to hear it. I needed absolution.

    “Not until this very moment, Cheryl.”

    For a moment I stood paralyzed as the truth hit me. There is not a more heartbreaking sight in the world than a man whose spirit has been crushed. That was the man I saw in front of me. My ex-husband. I quietly opened the door and walked out of Jeff ’s office, out of his life. For good, I thought. My life and my family’s lives were changed forever.



    Boxed Set


    RETHINKING

    RANDOM

    Why you need a new map of the female universe


    Like some guys I know, you might be tempted to skip this introduction and jump right to the sex chapter. And if you’re chuckling right now, it probably means you already did it. Or were about to. It’s not a bad choice, actually. Just a little self-defeating. If you’ve been in a committed relationship with a woman for more than, say, a day, you know that going just for what you want isn’t actually going to get you what you want for very long. A week, maybe? But let’s be honest—one of the main reasons you’re looking at this book is that you are trying to get something you want. Not sex (well, not just sex), but a more fulfilling, harmonious relationship with your wife, one that isn’t quite so hard or confusing. And the back cover gave you the wild idea that understanding her might actually be possible. Either that, or for some reason, the woman in question just handed you this book. Hmmm. Well, either way, take a look at the revelations we’ve uncovered. We think you’ll be convinced. Each chapter explains things about the woman you love that may have often left you feeling helpless, confused, or just plain angry. Each chapter points out simple, doable solutions. The only genius required is that you make a decision up front that you’re willing to think differently. This is a short book, but if you read it cover to cover, you’ll walk away with your eyes opened to things you may have never before understood about your wife or girlfriend.

    __Each chapter points out simple, doable solutions.


    That’s what happened with me—Jeff. And I’m just your average, semi-confused guy. (Actually, sometimes totally confused is more accurate.) And since us average, semi-confused guys have to stick together, that’s why, even though Shaunti and I are both authoring this book, I’ll be the one doing most of the talking.


    First, Some Background

    In 2004 Shaunti published For Women Only:What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men, which quickly became a bestseller. Based on a nationally representative survey, scores of focus groups, and other research, it opened women’s eyes to things that most of us guys had always wished our wives knew. Things like, most of us need to feel respected even more than loved. Or besides just getting enough sex, men also have a huge need to feel sexually desired by our wives. I’m not sure exactly why, but women everywhere were shocked. To me, those revelations seemed obvious. But by the flood of letters from around the country—from both women and their grateful husbands—we’ve seen how much good can come when the opposite sex finally has their eyes opened to things they simply didn’t understand before.

    _♦I’m not sure exactly why, but women everywhere were shocked by how men thought.


    In this book, the shock is on the other foot. Now it’s been Shaunti’s turn to say, over and over, “I can’t believe you didn’t already know that!” When Shaunti’s publisher first approached us about doing a companion to For Women Only to help men understand women, I had two major concerns. First, I didn’t think guys would read a “relationship” book since, for most of us, the last relationship book we read was in premarital counseling— and then only because we were forced to. But more to the point, I doubted that a woman could ever be understood. Compared to other complex matters—like the tides, say, or how to figure a baseball player’s ERA—women seemed unknowable. Random even. I explained my skepticism to one early focus group of women:

    Jeff: Guys tend to think that women are random. We think, I pulled this lever last week and got a certain reaction. But when I pulled that same lever this week, I got a totally different reaction. That’s random! Woman in group: But we aren’t random! If you pull the lever and get a different reaction, either you’re pulling a different lever, or you’re pulling it in a different way.

    Shaunti: What men need is a sort of map to their wives. Because we can be mapped. We can be known and understood terrain.

    Jeff: See, guys think of a woman as a swamp: You can’t see where you’re stepping, and sooner or later you just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand. And the more you struggle to get free, the deeper you get sucked in. So every guy on the planet knows that the best thing to do is just shut down and hope somebody comes along to rescue you. When I came to, Shaunti and the other women in the focus group assured me—and I have since seen for myself— that guys don’t have to live in a swamp. That realization led us to the eventual subtitle of this book: “A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women.”

    ∞_“Guys think of a woman as a swamp: You can’t see where you’re stepping, and sooner or later you just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand.”


    The Seven Revelations

    The most important key to “de-swamping” the woman in your life is to realize that some of your basic assumptions about her may be either too simplistic or flat wrong. By simplistic, I mean that we tend to operate with a partial or surface understanding of our wife or girlfriend. And to make matters worse, most guys have no idea how to make their limited understanding work in actual practice. For example, most guys have heard that women want security. Okay—but what does that mean, exactly? A regular paycheck? A big house? A growing retirement fund? It’s a huge shocker to talk to hundreds of women and find that while financial security is nice, it isn’t nearly as important to them as feeling emotionally secure—feeling close and confident that you will be there for her no matter what. And believe it or not, ensuring emotional security turns out to be a lot easier than ensuring the financial security you are probably busting your tail to provide. For Men Only will help you move from surface understandings to the all-important recognition of what those things mean in everyday life with your woman. Once you start testing out these findings, I think you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes for both of you.

    __For Men Only will help you move from surface understanding to recognizing what those things mean in everyday life.


    The book is organized around six major findings outlined on the next page. Some of these will be surprises to you. Some won’t, at least to begin with. (But that’s the thing about “swamps”—what you see is rarely what is really there.)


    OUR SURFACE

    UNDERSTANDING

    WHAT IT MEANS

    IN PRACTICE


    Women need to feel loved. Even if your relationship is great, your mate likely has a fundamental insecurity about your love—and when that insecurity is triggered, she may respond in ways that confuse or dismay you until she feels reassured.

    Women are emotional. Women deal with multiple thoughts and emotions from their past and present all the time, at the same time—and these can’t be easily dismissed.

    Women want security— in other words, financial security. Your woman needs emotional security and closeness with you so much that she will endure financial insecurity to get it. She doesn’t want you to fix it; she just wants you to listen. When she is sharing an emotional problem, her feelings and her desire to be heard are much more important than the problem itself. She doesn’t want much sex; she must not want me. Physically, women tend to crave sex less often than men do—and it is usually not related to your desirability. She wants to look attractive. Inside your smart, secure wife lives a little girl who deeply needs to know that you find her beautiful—and that you only have eyes for her.


    How We Found Out: Our Methodology

    For nearly a year, Shaunti and I worked to identify inner “map terrain” areas that are common to most women but that most guys tend not to understand. Besides conducting hundreds of in-person interviews, we gathered huge amounts of anecdotal information at dozens of women’s events where Shaunti was presenting materials from For Women Only. I spoke with stay-at-home moms, business owners, and secretaries; on airplanes, in focus groups, and over Shaunti’s book table as she was mobbed after women’s conferences. And I sifted through hundreds of e-mails and forum postings from Shaunti’s 4-womenonly.com website. In all these venues, I was really just the “embedded male.” Like the reporters who rode with the armored cavalry divisions at the opening of the Iraqi war, I kept my helmet on, my head down, and my notebook handy.

    _ I was the “embedded male.” I kept my helmet on, my head down, and my notebook handy.


    After all that research, we did a scientific national survey. As Shaunti had done for her previous book, we worked with survey-design expert Chuck Cowan, former chief of census design for the U.S. Census Bureau, and professional survey company Decision Analyst. They came together to help us design and conduct a groundbreaking, representative survey of four hundred women all over the country. In the end, between interviews, surveys, events, and other input, we estimate that well over three thousand women provided input for this book. I know you’ll be fascinated by the results. While some of the findings may be challenging or difficult to accept, most men have been surprised by how helpful many of these truths are and how simple they are to implement for a better, easier relationship.


    The Map Key

    Before we tackle each of the findings, some pointers on reading the map:


    • This book holds to a biblical world view. Our aim is to be relevant and revealing, no matter what your worldview is. But because Shaunti and I view life through our Christian faith, we have seen that these findings are consistent with biblical principles. We believe that relationships are most fulfilling when both people have a common commitment to serving Jesus Christ. We do not quote very heavily from Scripture, but we do draw from and reference it as the only truly dependable guidebook for relationships. For example, our starting-point assumption is that husbands need to love their wives just as Jesus does us—which means to love, serve, and be willing to sacrifice everything for her good, even above our own.

    • This is not a comprehensive marriage book. There are already plenty of marriage books on the market—including many terrific ones from Christian experts. So we stay away from well covered topics and areas that guys already tend to have a handle on, and we leave the heavy-duty theological discussions for those books. (If you want to investigate those further, we list several recommended resources at our website, www.formenonlybook.com.) Also, while we are writing more for married men, these insights will be helpful for anyone in a committed male-female relationship. That said, if your relationship is seriously on the rocks, this little book will probably open your eyes in some important areas, but it is not designed to cover a real crisis situation. We encourage you to get the kind of counsel and support your marriage deserves.

    • This is not an equal treatment. Just as For Women Only was purposefully one-sided—and if your wife read it, you may have benefited from that fact—so is this book. Yes, you have needs too, and there certainly may be relationship issues arising because she doesn’t understand you. But For Women Only addresses many of those, and this book is not about them. This is only about the inner lives of women, and we’re focusing entirely on how men relate to women, not the other way around. (That is also why the survey only polled heterosexual women.)

    • There are exceptions to every rule. Recognize that when I say “most women” appear to think a certain way, “most” does not mean all. We make generalizations out of necessity to be helpful in the widest number of circumstances possible. Inevitably there will be exceptions.

    • Our findings may not be politically correct, but we try to be true to the evidence. As a newspaper columnist on women’s issues, Shaunti sometimes receives e-mails from women complaining that she is doing exactly what we intend to do in this book—making generalizations about women. Add the fact that I, as a guy, am daring to make those generalizations, and we recognize the potential for controversy. We don’t quite know how to get around that, so we decided to just report what we learned. (For any woman sneaking a peak: We do not intend to be offensive; we just want to speak frankly to men, from a man’s viewpoint, about you. Our sole intention is to help your man understand and love you better. Even if we have to poke fun at the male preoccupation with sex to do it.)

    _♦We decided to just report what we learned.


    The Thing to Do Next

    We think in the pages ahead you’re going to receive a lot of very promising invitations to try some new things. Most are incredibly simple, but they may not come naturally. At least at first. Of course, if all you read about here is already instinctive to you, you wouldn’t be troubled by randomness, confusion, frustration…and did I mention swamps? My encouragement to you: Give the process time as you retrain years of incorrect assumptions and counterproductive reactions. Bring a humble attitude. Be willing to practice. Believe it can be done. Because I’ve learned that it can be. After several months of being the embedded male, I was watching a movie with Shaunti one night. Halfway through, I casually mentioned that I didn’t like the way one female character treated another. Shaunti sat up on the couch, grinned, and said, “You’re thinking like a girl!” Now, she meant it as high praise, but in the small Midwest town where I grew up, that kind of talk could get a guy slugged. But then I realized: Maybe I had learned a valuable thing or two about the female universe, just by listening in. Here’s hoping that you do, too.



    LIGHTBULB ON!

    How I Woke Up to What I Didn’t

    Know About Men

    The other half of the people

    on the planet already know what

    you’re going to read in this book.


    As newlyweds, my husband and I lived in Manhattan, and like all New Yorkers we walked everywhere. But I quickly noticed something strange. Quite often we’d be strolling hand in hand and Jeff would abruptly jerk his head up and away. We’d be watching in-line skaters in Central Park or waiting to cross the street in a crowd, and he would suddenly stare at the sky. I started to wonder, Is something going on at the tops of these buildings? Turns out, something was going on, but it wasn’t up in the buildings. Have you ever been totally confused by something the man in your life has said or done? Have you ever wondered, looking at his rapidly departing back, Why did that make him so angry? Have you ever been perplexed by your husband’s defensiveness when you ask him to stop working so much? Yeah? Me too. But now, after conducting spoken and written interviews with more than one thousand men, I can tell you that the answers to those and dozens of other common perplexities are all related to what is going on in your man’s inner life. Most are things he wishes you knew but doesn’t know how to tell you. In some cases, they’re things he has no idea you don’t know. This book will share those interviews and those answers. But be careful, ladies. You might be slapping your forehead a lot!

    •I can tell you that the answers to dozens of other common perplexities are related to what is going on in your man’s inner life.



    HOW IT ALL STARTED…

    Let me tell you how I got here. It all started with the research for my second novel, The Lights of Tenth Street. One of the main characters was a man, a devoted, godly husband and father. Because I wanted this character’s thought life to closely resemble what real men deal with, I interviewed my husband, Jeff, and many other male friends to try to get inside their heads. It took me a while to figure out how to handle what I found. You see, in the novel my character had a secret struggle: He loved his wife and kids and was a devoted follower of Christ, but he liked looking at women and had a constant battle with his thought life. A constant day-by-day, even minute-by minute battle with the temptations that beckoned from every corner of our culture, from the secret traps of the Internet to the overt appeal of the miniskirt walking down the street. In short—and this is what was such a surprise to me— instead of being unusual, my character was like almost every man on the planet. Including the devoted Christian husbands I was interviewing. That revelation led to others, on a half-dozen other subjects, and following those trails led to the hundreds of personal and written interviews with men—including a professional survey—that form the core of this book. I interviewed close friends over dinner and strangers in the grocery store, married fathers at church and the single student sitting next to me on the airplane. I talked to CEOs, attorneys, pastors, technology geeks, business managers, the security guard at Costco, and the guys behind the counter at Starbucks. I even interviewed a professional opera singer and a former NFL offensive tackle with a Super Bowl ring. No one was safe.


    Light bulb on!

    It turned out that these men shared some surprisingly common inner wiring. At their secret inner core, many had similar fears and concerns, feelings and needs.

    •oThese revelations were mostly things that my own husband always wished I knew, but couldn’t figure out how to explain.



    I discovered that there were many things I thought I understood about men—but really didn’t. In several areas, my understanding was purely surface-level. Once I got below the surface and into specifics, everything changed. I felt like a cartoon character who suddenly had a light bulb over my head. Even better, it turned out that those revelations were mostly about things that my own husband always wished I knew but couldn’t figure out how to explain. And that was a common refrain from most of the men I talked to. Although I still make many mistakes in my relationship with my husband—and will continue to!—finally grasping these things has hopefully helped me to better appreciate and support him in the way that he needs. I want that light bulb to go on for you as well

    ••We all know, for example, that “men are visual,” but, well…what exactly does that mean?



    Why was this surprising?

    In a way, I was surprised to be so…surprised. We women think we know many things about a man’s inner life. We all know, for example, that “men are visual,” but, well…what exactly does that mean? It turns out that what that means in practice is the key thing—the specific insight that will help you be a better wife, girlfriend, or mother. Using the “visual” example, the difference is vast between having the vague notion that men are visual and knowing that the sexy commercial he just watched has become a mental time bomb that will rise up and assault him the next day. The difference is vast between helplessly wondering what is going on in his head and having the insight of hundreds of men to help you understand not only what is going on, but also how to support him. Actually, there was a kind of double surprise in this research. When I interviewed men and drew some conclusions, they would often say, “But women already know that…surely they know that.” All too frequently, I found myself replying, “Well, I didn’t know that.” I began to realize that there’s so much about men that we don’t understand— and that men don’t even know we don’t know. And that sort of misunderstanding is the stuff that gives birth to a lot of conflict.


    SEVEN REVELATIONS

    So here are the revelations this book is going to cover— seven translations from “surface level” to “in practice” that you, like me, may not have realized before. As with all of us, the inner life of a man is a package, with these elements melded and wrapped up inside. Whether you are relating to a husband, boyfriend, or son, it is impossible to understand one part of his inner life in isolation. Every area affects every other area, and I’m only covering those few areas that I thought were the most important or helpful.


    The survey

    Thankfully, these revelations are also backed up by evidence— a groundbreaking professional survey of hundreds of men. Since I found no survey data like this on the market, two sets of experts, Chuck Cowan at Analytic Focus, the former chief of survey design at the U.S. Census Bureau, Our Surface What That Means Understanding in Practice and Cindy Ford and the survey team at Decision Analyst, came together to help me conduct this survey.


    “Men need respect” ➺ Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected.

    “Men are insecure” ➺ Despite their “in control” exterior, men often feel like impostors and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered.

    “Men are providers” ➺ Even if you personally made enough income to support the family’s lifestyle, it would make no difference to the mental burden he feels to provide.

    “Men want more sex” ➺ Your sexual desire for your husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life.

    “Men are visual” ➺ Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women.

    “Men are unromantic clods” ➺ Actually, most men enjoy romance (sometimes in different ways) and want to be romantic—but hesitate because they doubt they can succeed.

    “Men care about appearance” ➺ You don’t need to be a size 3, but your man does need to see you making the effort to take care of yourself—and he will take on significant cost or inconvenience in order to support you.


    The survey was blind, done at random, and meticulously planned and executed. Four hundred anonymous men across the country, ranging in age from twenty-one to seventy-five, answered two dozen questions about their lives and about how they think, what they feel, and what they need. The survey stressed that we weren’t dealing with outward behavior as much as with the inner thoughts and emotions that led to their behavior. Later, because the survey itself inevitably led to additional revelations, I conducted a more informal follow-up survey of another four hundred anonymous men—this time, specifically churchgoers—to ask a few additional questions (and some of the same ones). And later yet, I validated several of those additional insights with a second Decision Analyst survey. Amazingly, across all these surveys there were very few differences. After all the surveying, the results of my personal interviews were confirmed. Not only had I heard the same things over and over—quotes that I will include in the following pages—but those anecdotal results were now backed up by statistically valid evidence. I hadn’t just happened to interview the hundred weirdest men on the planet! (Since I am an analyst and not a psychologist, and since my grad-school statistics professor might politely question the statistical skills of someone who needed a whole semester to learn regression analysis, I was quite relieved that professional statisticians confirmed my findings!)

    ••Results were backed up by statistically valid evidence. I hadn’t just happened to interview the hundred weirdest men on the planet!



    In the end, the men I spoke with and surveyed appear to have been extremely transparent and honest about some very personal subjects. So, men—whoever you are—I thank you.


    BEFORE WE START:

    GROUND RULES

    You’re probably rarin’ to turn the page, but before you get to look inside the inner lives of men, here are some ground rules:

    • First, if you are looking for male-bashing or proof that your husband is indeed a cad, you won’t find it here. I honor the men who shared their hearts with me, and I hope that by sharing their insight, more women might come to understand and appreciate the wonderful differences between us.

    •If you are looking for male-bashing or proof that your husband is indeed a cad, you won’t find it here.


    • Second, this is not an equal treatment of male female differences, nor do I deal at all with how your man can or should relate to you. Yes, we women obviously also have needs, and many of the truths discussed in these pages apply to us too. But since the theme is the inner lives of men and my space is limited, I’m focusing entirely on how we relate to men, not the other way around. (That is also why the survey did not poll gay men.)

    • Third, recognize that there are always exceptions to every rule. When I say that “most men” appear to think a certain way, realize that “most” means exactly that—most, not all. I’m making generalizations out of necessity, and inevitably there will be exceptions. One reason I did the professional survey was to determine what was an exception and what was normal.

    • Fourth, I’m addressing what is normal inside men, not necessarily what is right in their outward behavior. And since these pages are not the place for a lengthy exploration of any one issue, you can always go to www.4-womenonly.com to explore more resources, including the entire survey.

    • Fifth, I need to warn you that some of the enclosed insight may be distressing because it affects our view of the men in our lives and our view of ourselves. It was tempting to exclude certain things, but I realized that I was hearing things men often weren’t willing or able to say directly to their spouses or girlfriends. So it was critical to include these comments. But please realize that in most cases, these comments have little to do with us— they are just the way men are wired. And we should celebrate that fact. After all, it is because he is wired as a man that you love him.

    •o The more we understand the men in our lives, the better we can support and love them in the way they need to be loved.


    • Finally, and most important, I hope that this book is not just about learning fascinating new secrets. The more we understand the men in our lives, the better we can support and love them in the way they need to be loved. In other words, this revelation is supposed to change and improve us. So read on, ladies, and join me as we look into the inner lives of men.

    Waiting on Wednesday: The Lost Hours

    This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:






    The Lost Hours by Karen White


    Publisher: Penguin Group


    Available: April 7, 2009


    The award-winning author of The Memory of Water delivers a gripping tale of family, fate, and forgiveness.


    When Piper Mills was twelve, she helped her grandfather bury a box that belonged to her grandmother in the backyard. For twelve years, it remained untouched.


    Now a near fatal riding accident has shattered Piper’s dreams of Olympic glory. After her grandfather’s death, she inherits the house and all its secrets, including a key to a room that doesn’t exist—or does it? And after her grandmother is sent away to a nursing home, she remembers the box buried in the backyard. In it are torn pages from a scrapbook, a charm necklace—and a newspaper article from 1929 about the body of an infant found floating in the Savannah River. The necklace’s charms tell the story of three friends during the 1920s— each charm added during the three months each friend had the necklace and recorded her life in the scrapbook. Piper always dismissed her grandmother as not having had a story to tell. And now, too late, Piper finds she might have been wrong.




    What are you waiting for? Waiting on Wednesdays is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    The Love as a Way of Life Devotional by Gary Chapman and Elisa Stanford (Book Review)



    Title: The Love as a Way of Life Devotional
    Author: Gary Chapman and Elisa Stanford
    Publisher: Waterbrook Press
    Genre: Christian Living/Devotional



    First sentence: Christ longs for His followers to love as He loves.

    I love this little book. I got about 1/3 of the way through it and thought - my family needs to hear and think about this, too. So I stopped reading it and now, every night at dinner, we read aloud another devotion as a family.

    The author takes seven characteristics of a loving person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity and honesty - and devotes a section to each one. There is also a beginning and an ending section on love. Each devotion starts with a scripture and ends with a prayer or a thought.

    I am hoping that it brings my family closer together as we continue to learn different ways that we can love each other and express that love, and how we can make it a habit. There are 90 devotionals (days) to get us there!

    For Couples Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn (Book Review)




    Titles: For Women Only and For Men Only
    Author: Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn
    Publisher: Multnomah
    Genre: Christian Living/Practical Life







    First up is For Women Only - I will be reviewing this book -



    First sentence: As newlyweds, my husband and I lived in Manhattan and like all New Yorkers we walked everywhere.


    Shaunti Feldhahn was doing research for a book when she began to stumble across the same answers from a wide variety of men. This led her to conduct a formal survey of 400 men ranging in age from25-71 and their answers are the basis of this book.


    She shows us seven revelations that are pretty similar across all men, showing first our surface understanding and then what it really means in practice:


    “Men need respect” ➺ Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected.


    “Men are insecure” ➺ Despite their “in control” exterior, men often feel like impostors and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered.


    “Men are providers” ➺ Even if you personally made enough income to support the family’s lifestyle, it would make no difference to the mental burden he feels to provide.


    “Men want more sex” ➺ Your sexual desire for your husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life.


    “Men are visual” ➺ Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women.


    “Men are unromantic clods” ➺ Actually, most men enjoy romance (sometimes in different ways) and want to be romantic—but hesitate because they doubt they can succeed.


    “Men care about appearance” ➺ You don’t need to be a size 3, but your man does need to see you making the effort to take care of yourself—and he will take on significant cost or inconvenience in order to support you.


    Each chapter covers a revelation and digs into it deeper from a man's point of view. She tells us why it is important to men and what we (women) can do to help or understand our man.


    I read this book last year after a speaker at one of our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meetings referenced it. I could not believe how it mirrored so many of my husband's actions. It also made me realize that what was important to me, was not what was important to him - or how I interpreted or responded to a situation differed greatly from his perspective. The first chapter is titled "Lightbulb On!" and it definitely went on for me!
    Next up is For Men Only - This book was reviewed by my husband.
    First sentence: Like some guys I know, you might be tempted to skip this introduction and jump right to the sex chapter.
    With the success of the book For Women Only, Jeff and Shaunti felt they needed to address the other side of the coin - so For Men Only was born.
    For Men only deals with six revelations of women - below are the men's surface understanding and what it means in practice:
    Women need to feel loved. Even if your relationship is great, your mate likely has a fundamental insecurity about your love—and when that insecurity is triggered, she may respond in ways that confuse or dismay you until she feels reassured.
    Women are emotional. Women deal with multiple thoughts and emotions from their past and present all the time, at the same time—and these can’t be easily dismissed.
    Women want security— in other words, financial security. Your woman needs emotional security and closeness with you so much that she will endure financial insecurity to get it.
    She doesn’t want you to fix it; she just wants you to listen. When she is sharing an emotional problem, her feelings and her desire to be heard are much more important than the problem itself.
    She doesn’t want much sex; she must not want me. Physically, women tend to crave sex less often than men do—and it is usually not related to your desirability.
    She wants to look attractive. Inside your smart, secure wife lives a little girl who deeply needs to know that you find her beautiful—and that you only have eyes for her.
    My husband did not like this book at all. It had a hard time keeping his attention. He felt that the only reason it was written, was because they needed to counter the For Women Only book. He also stated though, that because he and I talked alot, that the things he read in this book were not really revelations for him. (So guess that means that I can get my point across huh?!)

    I Do Again by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs (Book Review)



    Title: I Do Again
    Author: Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs
    Publisher: Waterbrook Press
    Genre: Christian Living/Love and Marriage



    First sentence: A man I know was walking to his car after a golf tournament when he realized the remote trunk opener wouldn't work.

    This is the true story of Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs. When they met, the attraction was instantaneous, but Cheryl would not go out with Jeff as she was in a relationship with someone else. Jeff did not give up though and eventually Cheryl broke up with her boyfriend. So the next time Jeff asked, she said yes.

    After about a year of dating, Jeff was being relocated from Memphis to California. He asked Cheryl to marry him and she immediately said yes! They were the golden couple in California - attractive couple, good careers, beautiful home - but they could not have children. Their twin daughters were born after successful in vitro. But still there was something missing.

    Cheryl began to feel like their life and relationship was shallow, so unfortunately she began to look outside of her marriage for her emotional needs. As the next couple of years passed - she continued to tell Jeff she was fine, when in reality, she was far from it. She eventually asked him for a divorce. Jeff was devastated - he did not see this coming at all. He begged Cheryl to work on their marriage so they could fix it. They even went to see some counselors, but Cheryl's mind was made up. She wanted out. Eighteen months later, they were divorced.

    About this time Jeff started to get more involved with the youth ministry at his church. Cheryl's friends were encouraging her that she needed to find a new church. She couldn't continue to go to the one that her and Jeff had attended. She eventually found one. Cheryl had been raised Catholic and couldn't understand how she had never heard or learned some of things she was learning at her new church. Like the promises and plans God has for us and our marriage in the Song of Solomon. Or that she could have a personal relationship with Him.

    I do not want to tell you anymore about the book (but you can probably guess from the title). Please come along and read about how Cheryl and Jeff learned to forgive each other and trust in God and the miraculous changes this made in their lives.

    This book was somewhat hard for me to read. I became a believer when I was 13, but fell away from God at 17 when my dad passed away. In the following years I went to college and got married at the age of 21. Eight years and two daughters later I also asked my husband for a divorce - for many of the same reasons that Cheryl did. It was a little scary to read my thoughts and actions in print as someone else's life! It also took us about 18 months to get divorced, as my husband did not want it, and I was content (and couldn't afford it) to just let things stay how they were. I remember when the judge asked me if I felt we had done everything to save our marriage and even though I answered "Yes" - in my heart I knew that I had done nothing. My story takes a different turn here from Jeff and Cheryl's though. God led me to a wonderful man just when I was considering quitting my job and moving back to my childhood home. We have now been married 8 years and have added a son to our mix. I am still very much in love with him!

    Where Are You? 2-24-2009


    I have just arrived at Hogwart's for my 6th year. Snape is going to be our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher! This is horrible, I thought that I would not have to have him for a teacher again. The good news is that I got into Potions with my O.W.L. grade- I thought I was done with Potions but I need it if I want to be an Aurer! (of course this is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

    Where is your reading taking you? Stop over at Adventure in Reading and share!

    Teaser Tuesday 2-24-2009


    TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
    Grab your current read.
    Let the book fall open to a random page.
    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    Please avoid spoilers!

    Palmer set alone in the media room with the shades all drawn, the glowing black eyeball rimmed in fierce crimson and ringed with flaming white staring out at him from a seventy-two-inch viewing screen. This room, like his home in Dark Harbor and the cabin of his medical helicopter, was kept regulated at exactly sixty-two degrees. (p91 - The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan)

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