Friday, February 13, 2009

Romantic Books for Valentine's Day!

Jesse and I are going to for dinner with our church at a local supper club. We're going to hear a speaker and have yummy chicken and sirloin tips. It's one of those rare occasions where I can dress up, so this afternoon I'll be tearing apart my closet looking for the perfect outfit! We can't stay out too late though because tomorrow Molly's cheerleading squad is competing at the state tournament. I'll post how they did when we get back tomorrow afternoon.

I Do Again
by Cheryl & Jeff Scruggs is an amazing story of a marriage lost and rediscovered through the power of God's love. Cheryl and Jeff fell in love in the early 1980s and after they married built a nearly picture perfect life together. They both had jobs they loved, a rich lifestyle, and were beautiful people. But they didn't have a deeper connection and Cheryl soon felt that something was missing and started looking for it elsewhere. They eventually divorced, but Cheryl still had a huge hole in her heart, and Jeff was completely devastated by his wife's defection. They both did all they could to make life stable for their twin daughters, but the animosity between the two was hard to hide. God had plans for the Scruggs though, and after years of prayer, faith, and rebuilding trust, the two remarried and now have a marriage counseling service. The Scruggs have a compelling story, and honestly I couldn't put it down. It's written with brutal honesty; Cheryl doesn't pull any punches as she reveals her infidelity and how she justified it. Her story isn't that unusual, and I think that a lot of women can actually identify with the self-pitying thoughts she had and the anger she felt toward Jeff. While the story is the Scruggs, it's really all about God and how these two people allowed Him to use them for His own glory. Their story is a warning for couples who are drifting apart and offer hope for those who don't think their marriage will ever change.

Love as a Way of Life Devotional by Gary Chapman is a 90 day study guide meant to accompany and deepen the reading of his book Love as a Way of Life. As in the original book, Chapman identifies seven ways to strengthen and enrich your relationships with everyone around you. Each day's reading is short, about two pages, and focuses on one of the seven traits. He employs Scripture and personal anecdotes to make each entry an enjoyable read, perfect for reading over a cup of coffee or just before bed. Chapman has an amazing understanding of what it means to truly love, and it's wonderful that he's sharing that knowledge with us!

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn is subtitled What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. I've read a couple of the other books in Feldhahn's series (For Parents Only, For Young Men Only), and even though I knew how good they were, I have to say I was shocked at how amazing this book was. Feldhahn did several surveys to get men to talk about what really matters to them and what their deepest feelings are about sex and what they want out of marriage. Respect is apparently number one, more than love, in what men require from their wives. Reading through what hurts men's feelings and how women can sabotage their self-esteem made me slouch down in my chair a bit as I realized that I have been guilty of many bad behaviors. Feldhahn treats men with deep respect, never playing to the stereotypes of sports-obsessed or couch potato, and she encourages women to respect their husbands more by understanding what makes them tick. I have to admit there were a few times that my jaw dropped (ahem, chapter six), and I'm working on making some things better (chapter eight). Feldhahn offers real advice that you can follow and writes in a chatty, easy-going manner. I gave my copy of this book away, but I'm going to have to buy another one, along with its companion volume!

For Men Only by Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn is subtitled A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women. Yes, I know that it says for men only, and I'm a woman, but I wanted to make sure that the writers got it right. I shouldn't have worried. Shaunti Feldhahn has a wonderful series of these books, and every one of them is spot on. After the first chapter, I sent my husband a text message telling him he had to read this book. I wasn't asking, I truly needed him to read it. After two more chapters, I asked him if he would mind if I put sticky notes on certain pages. Feldhahn surveyed lots of women asking for how they really felt about love, sex, and marriage, and it's amazing how accurate her findings are. There are things that I've never given thought to and couldn't put into words if I tried, but they nailed them. Chapter seven made me cry, and that was the first chapter I asked my husband to read (the book doesn't need to be read in any order). Along with For Women Only, these two books could seriously change a marriage, even a good one, for the better. This is a book that has made itself a permanent spot on my shelf.

The winner of all four of these books is Deb Lemere. Congrats Deb! And if you didn't win this time, don't give up! I'm starting another contest on Monday. Have a Happy Valentine's Day!