A LifeLong Love with Giveaway

The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge for January: Setting the Right Foundation. Click through to see the books and choose one!

This year on the blog I challenged everybody to read one book a month–that’s 12 books over the year–to boost your marriage. Every month we have a different topic (next month is sex! :) ), and hopefully it will help you all to get a new perspective on how to grow your relationship. (Check out all of the subjects for each month here!)

For January I gave you all a choice of three books–A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas, The Story of Marriage by John and Lisa Bevere, and Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge. I’m so thrilled so many of you took me up on the challenge, and today I want to share some of the gems I learned from A Lifelong Love–and then leave you with a giveaway!

And bonus–I just realized that Gary’s publisher put the ereader version of A Lifelong Love on sale this week! That wasn’t even planned. So you can pick it up on Kindle or Nook, etc., for only $3.82!

A Lifelong Love--January's book choice

Gary Thomas always takes you to the feet of Jesus. When I read his book The Sacred Search, about finding a mate, the thing that stuck with me the most is that in looking for a spouse, as in everything else in life, Matthew 6:33 must be our guiding verse:

But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and then all these things shall be added to you.

In A Lifelong Love Gary shows how to live this out once we’re married.

I write about marriage all the time, but sometimes I reread what I’ve said and I worry that it’s missing something. It’s not that I don’t agree with what I’ve written; it’s just that it’s all so practical. I’m usually talking to people about how to solve specific problems; and so I give them specific steps. But Gary reminds me, and us, that in everything, it’s all about what we’re doing for God. It’s all about our attitude about Jesus. And our marriages are about far more than our feelings.

Ironically, when we realize that, we can find true marital bliss.

Gary’s book takes you to the feet of Jesus. It’s divided into three parts: The Magnificent Obsession (remembering that the mission of our marriage, just like everything else, is pleasing God; Growing Together, or how to overcome significant hardships in your marriage; and The Journey Toward Love, or how to live out a real oneness with your husband.

I felt this book would be perfect for our January entry of Setting the Foundation, because if we get this “magnificent obsession” right from the beginning of the year–that God needs to be the centre of our focus, our aim, and our worship–then the rest of marriage will fall much more easily into place.

If I could sum up what Gary says, it would be this:

A good marriage is something you make, not something you just find!

“A good marriage isn’t something you find; it’s something you make.” (click to tweet)

I can’t sum up the entire book, but what I would like to do is give you three snapshots, one from every section, that meant a lot to me. And I’ll be adding other thoughts on my Facebook Page to give you fodder to think throughout the weekend, so do stay tuned there!

God desperately cares about how you treat his son

The night before Gary married his wife Lisa, Lisa’s dad broke down in tears and said to him, “I don’t have to worry about Lisa. She’s found a guy who will take care of her. She’s going to be okay.”

And he was so relieved.

Now that I have a daughter getting married I totally get it. You pray so hard for your kids to find someone who will cherish them, and treat them well, and serve God with them. And when they find that person, you relax so much!

And one day Gary realized that just as Lisa’s earthly dad was so concerned about her happiness and well-being in marriage, so her heavenly father was, too. God wasn’t just Gary’s father; God was also Gary’s Father-in-Law. And how he treated God’s daughter desperately mattered to God.

So Gary turns that question back on us: what if one of the singular best services that you can give to God in this life is to love your husband? Even if he isn’t always loving back. Even if he’s difficult. Even if he doesn’t understand your love language, doesn’t get your personality, doesn’t love sharing his heart.

Gary tells the story of one mom of five who is exhausted and complaining about her husband–and feeling so distant that they rarely make love. She has reason to feel ticked off. But he asks her, “how would you feel if one day your son grew up and married a woman who treated him just like you are treating your husband?” The question floored her.

So let me ask you who are moms that same question: how would you feel if your son grew up and married a woman who treated him the same way you treat your husband right now?

That question has made me refocus my evenings with my husband. I want to make sure that when he gets home from work and we have some time to spend together that he knows I’m glad he’s home. That he knows I waited for him all day. That he knows there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Gary talks about how loving like this IS hard–but it’s what draws us into God’s arms and what grows our own spiritual dependence. And God does notice your acts of love, even if your husband doesn’t. And there will be a reward for those acts, even if you don’t see them on this side of heaven.

Be careful of power imbalances in marriage

In the second section of the book Gary gets practical about the really difficult seasons in marriage–what it’s like to be in a lonely marriage, and how to overcome that.

I appreciated his emphasis on the idea that marriage IS a battle–but it shouldn’t be a battle we fight against each other. It should be a battle we fight WITH each other. Together we form a team that God uses to transform the world. When we see that–that we are part of this epic struggle and epic story that God is waging and writing, then marriage has a deeper purpose. Indeed, that idea that there is a bigger story behind our marriage than just whether we feel loved is the key theme in all three of the books I chose for this month. Think of you and your husband on the same team, fighting for God to transform this world, rather than on opposing teams bashing each other.

In fact, this idea–that we should be on the same side engaged in the fight together, can truly transform marriages because it gives you a sense of purpose.

lack of purpose

Nevertheless, sometimes we do feel on opposing teams, and Gary outlines how this often manifests in power imbalances. These occur when one spouse appears to care more for and is fighting more for the marriage than the other.

Here’s an example: when dating, the guy woos you and dates you and is romantic, but once you’re married all he wants is sex. The romance seems to end. And she feels lonely.

Or when the baby comes, she becomes all tied up in being a mom, and the husband feels left out.

Here’s the danger of power struggles that women need to understand. Gary writes: “One thing I’ve learned about men: if we don’t think we can win, we usually won’t even compete; we just start focusing elsewhere.”

And so you drift. And the biggest sign that power imbalances are causing one or both of you to check out of the marriage? your social circles become distinct and separate. You start confiding in and hanging out with people your spouse doesn’t even really know.

Fight against the drift. Remember that marriage must be something intentional, so that when we feel ourselves drifting, or when we notice our spouse starting to check out, we don’t just get mad. We do something to rebuild intimacy.

Gary says, “When couples say “I do” on their wedding days, I wish they’d add, “and I will, every day of our lives.” “

Love isn’t a feeling. It’s something that you are intentional about. It’s not about being “in love”–it’s about practising love.

How can I bless you?–not How can I get my needs met?

Here’s where the rubber hits the road, where the real heart attitude shows itself. In your interactions with your husband, what is your motivation? Is it to get your needs met? Or is to bless him? Gary urges us to keep our eyes on how we can love. What if the greatest lesson you can have on this earth is not how to find love but how to love? When we learn to love, we become more Christlike. We’re transformed into the likeness of God’s son (Romans 8:29). We grow.

And so when you are at a standstill in your marriage, ask yourself, “what can I do to bless my husband?” And start doing! When we act love we feel love. I know you’ve heard this all the time, but it is real. Why is it that you feel so attached to your kids (those of you who are moms). Have you ever read a story about a horribly neglectful mother and said to yourself, “How could anyone do that to their child?” But it isn’t that hard if you haven’t acted love. When you get out of bed in the middle of the night repeatedly to soothe a child; when you give up your own time to spend with a child; when you spend hours on homework and wiping dirty noses, you are so invested that you feel those loving feelings.

When you don’t invest time and energy, the feelings aren’t there.

So how do you bless your husband?

I really appreciated one example Gary gave that is something I say repeatedly here, too. Blessing your husband means you care about his ultimate good–not just about his feelings. So he gives the example of a woman who throws away her husband’s stash of porn against his wishes. A woman who wants to bless her husband will not allow him to do something that will harm their intimacy and his relationship with God. He won’t enable sin.

But it’s our attitude her that matters. When you confront your husband, are you doing so because you want your own needs met? Or are you honestly looking after his own interests? The result may be the same, but the heart attitude dictates how the whole interaction feels. And the heart attitude is what brings God into the picture.

A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is about More Than Just Staying Together?I appreciate Gary Thomas so much, and I know this book will help you see your husband and your marriage in a whole new way, pointing you to Jesus. A Lifelong Love is only $3.82 on Kindle right now–a huge sale! So pick it up today.

I’ll be announcing February’s books next week, but just a heads up: they’re about sex! And we’re going to have fun! :)

But today I want to leave you with a giveaway, featuring many of the books that I’ve talked about this month on the blog. You can win one of 9 prizes of:

One prize of: A Lifelong Love, The Story of Marriage, Love and War, and Choosing Him All Over Again
Two prizes of: A Lifelong Love
Two prizes of: The Story of Marriage
Two prizes of: Love and War
Two prizes of: Choosing Him All Over Again

January Prizes in the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge of 2015!

Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win! Remember: you get 5 entries if you leave a blog post comment with a question you’d like Gary to answer! I’ll send the top 5 questions his way and ask him to respond on Facebook!

I’ll draw the winners next Wednesday night at midnight EST, and then announce them on Thursday when we do our next marriage challenge post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Some other bloggers have taken up the challenge to read and review some of my picks as well!

Check out Mom’s Morning Coffee with her look at Setting the Right Foundation, too.

(If you’re a blogger who has also reviewed some of these books, leave a link in the comments. If I get enough of you, I’ll start a Linky next month!)

10 Projects You Can Do This Weekend with the Ultimate DIY Bundle!

Ten years ago I used to have a little soapmaking business. I ran out of time to pursue it, and all of those materials sat in my storage room. But a few months ago I decided I was going to start making some things again! And lately I’ve made some lip balms, started learning about aromatherapy (it can do major things in the bedroom!), and creating new lotions to attack problem areas.

And it takes just minutes.

And it’s fun! I love crafts. I’ve been a knitter my whole life, and there is just something about creating that makes us feel more productive, more purposeful, even more in line with God. God, after all, is creative, and when we can tap into our own creativity, I think we touch an important part of ourselves that is often dormant.

And so I’m excited to share with you today about the The Ultimate DIY Bundle– a collection of carefully curated DIY and crafting eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry.

For the crazy low price of just $34.95, you get access to a carefully curated library of over 76 eBooks and eCourses. And let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) has spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information.

Topics in the bundle include:

  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design
  • …and a whole lot more (76 eBooks and eCourses in total) – to help you be inspired or get started with your next DIY or crafting project!

There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, January 21 until 11.59pm EST on Monday, January 26.

But when you buy it, you get access to the books right away. And you can start crafting today! I’ve been having such fun looking through the books, and I wanted to share with you TEN ideas that you can do this weekend to get yourself feeling more creative and productive!

1. Lime Coconut Body Scrub

Lime Coconut Body ScrubIt’s just epsom salts, Vitamin E, some essential oils–and some actual lime and coconut! If you don’t have any essential oils on hand, you can often buy them in a health food store, or get them on Amazon. I use them all the time now (and I’ll be posting soon about 10 ways to use essential oils in the bedroom!)

It’s from Kimberly Layton’s Homemade Gifts for Every Occasion, part of the Crafts collection of the Ultimate Bundle:

2. Make Gift Bags Out of Old Clothes

I love using gift bags for hostess gifts, birthday gifts, thank you gifts–even gifts when I speak! And the book Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose (also in the Crafts section, above), has some great ideas on how to make purses, bags, and gift bags out of old clothes! Your kids will love doing this with you, too. It’s simple–you could make a dozen in a day.

Gift Bags

3. Spray Paint Old Knick Knacks White

I loved this idea from 21 Inspiring Thrift Store Transformations! Take ugly knick knacks, like old trophies, animal figurines, or pitchers, and spray paint them white. She explains how, and all of a sudden they’re useable again!

Paint White

She also lists the 10 most important things to watch for at a thrift store–the things you can use easily. It’s awesome, and it’s part of the Home Decor section.

4. Choose New Paint Colors

Need a pick-me-up for your house? How to Choose Paint Colors (in Home Decor, above) helps you choose your style, understand color theory, and see how all elements work together! Read it today, pick out the paint tonight, and go to it!

paint colors

5. Figure out How to Use Those Camera Settings

Have a great camera, but don’t know how to use it? Say No to Auto is a simple book that explains what terms like ISO, exposure, and shutter speed mean, and how you can manipulate them to take great photos–no matter the conditions! It doesn’t take long to learn, and then you can spend the weekend practising.

Say no to auto

It’s part of the photography section.

6. Get Ready for Mother’s Day!

I love this Mother’s Day Pillbox–it’s part of a book of printables for gifts for every season of the year. And you can put 7 Mom Quotes in the pillbox, too, to show her much you love her! I think making these with the kids for Grandma would be a riot, too.

Mom Pillbox

It’s part of the Crafts section, above.

7. Use Your Scrapbooking Stash

The bundle also comes with a bunch of e-courses, and one of them helps you take all your scrapbooking extras–and figure out how to use them up! Love it.

Use Your Stash

Here’s just one of the amazing ecourses offered!

 8. Scan Your Old Photos–and Use Them!

You can even scan your kids’ artwork (you can only put so much on the fridge), their first writing projects, and more! This ecourse also teaches you how to organize your digital files so you can find things easily when you need them (like, for instance, when you have to start preparing a slide show for your daughter’s wedding. :) Tee hee. My daughter just got engaged!)

Scan Photos

It’s part of the e-course section, above.

9. Make Your Own Household Cleaners

I made up a batch of laundry soap last night using the recipes from this bundle! And it’s so easy (and cheap). Most of the ingredients you likely have on hand right now.

cleaners

The book Clean & Simple is part of the Home and Garden Section.

 

10. Learn to Knit Socks

I couldn’t leave knitting off my list of 10, since I love it so much! With this bundle you also get a ton of free bonuses, including a Craftsy video course of your choice. And I’d recommend Lucy Neatby’s course on knitting socks. I’ve knit about 30 pairs of socks, at least, in my life, and I just love them! You can keep them in your purse because they’re a small enough project, so you’ve always got something on the go!

knit socks

So there you go! 10 Reasons to Get the Ultimate DIY Bundle.

There are crafts for everyone, and you’re sure to find something that you’ll love.

You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.

Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 5 awesome bonuses, worth over $150. That’s 4x the price of the bundle alone! These include…

A free $15 Store Credit PLUS 8×10 Art Print from Hope Ink ($43 Value), a free online class from Craftsy (up to $60 Value), free $15 store credit to Fawnsberg.com, a free sewing pattern PLUS a Premium Video Class from UpCraft Club ($19.99 Value), and free, full digital copies of Where Women Create Magazine and Greencraft Magazine ($20 value) from Stampington and Co.

So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 76 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by midnight on Monday, January 26!

This amazing deal ends in just…

motionmailapp.com

Pick up your copy right now, before it’s too late. Or, learn more here.

Have a fun and crafty weekend!

 

 

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

 

Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge of 2015

Join the Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge! Each month choose 1 book on the subject to read to boost your relationship! Get a chance to ask authors questions, read author interviews, and discuss the books, too!

Do you want 2015 to be an awesome year for your marriage, or do you want to just get by? Do you want to grow and be stretched this year, or do you want to run from one thing to the next without being proactive?

Most of us want to grow, but life often gets in the way. And sometimes we just need new ideas and a fresh perspective to help us figure out how to do marriage better!

So I’d like to challenge you to read 12 books with me this year. Just 12 books. And two are even novels–so it honestly won’t be that hard!

I know some of you haven’t read a book in a long time, and some of you are wondering how you’ll ever find the time when you have little kids. But in a month you really can get through a book.

  • Put it in your purse to read when you’re in line.
  • Keep it in the bathroom to snatch precious moments!
  • Grab some time on your lunch hour.
  • Read for 10 minutes before you turn it at night.
  • Read on the treadmill!

It’s just one book a month!

Here’s how it works: in this Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge, I’ve given each month its own topic. And then I’ll suggest 3-5 books each month for you to choose from (since not every book is applicable to everybody!). I’ll choose one particular book to talk about on the blog, but I’ll have interviews with authors of hopefully most of them up on Facebook, I’ll have discussion forums for each book on Facebook, and we’ll have giveaways and prizes!

What do you have to do to join? Just choose a book and read it! You’ll get the most out of it if you also join my Facebook Page, since that’s where the authors will periodically be hanging out to answer questions and give away prizes. But you don’t have to pay to join. You don’t have to sign up. You don’t have to prove you’ve read it. You just have to get a book and jump in!

The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge:

  • Interviews with Authors
  • Discussion Forums
  • Book Giveaways
  • Blog Tours
  • Ask your own questions to the authors
  • And more!

So let’s get started!

The Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge for January: Setting the Right Foundation. Click through to see the books and choose one!

Choose from these 3 books on Setting the Right Foundation for Marriage:

A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is about More Than Just Staying Together?Gary Thomas, A Lifelong Love: What if Marriage is about more than just staying together?
(this is the book I’ll be reviewing!)

Few authors do a better job of showing how marriage and God’s purposes for our lives go hand in hand. In his newest book, Gary Thomas offers practical insights on how to keep your marriage not just intact but thriving as you grow closer to each other–and spur each other on to a closer relationship with God. Great insights, lots of great stories, and I’m so looking forward to sharing this with you!

Choose this book if: you’re looking for something deep but relatively easy to follow that will make you think–and give you practical ideas for follow through!

Pick up Livelong Love here.

Join the Lifelong Love Facebook Discussion Forum!


The Story of MarriageJohn and Lisa Bevere, The Story of Marriage

This is an interactive book–not just a teaching book. As the Beveres show you God’s story of marriage, you’re invited to figure out your own story in the devotionals, discussion questions, and prayers.

Choose this book if: you’re working through this challenge as a couple, or you like guided exercises to think about what you’ve learned.

Pick up The Story of Marriage.

Join the Story of Marriage Discussion Forum.


Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your MarriageJohn and Stasi Eldredge, Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage

John and Stasi are poetic. Their books are rich and are lovely and make you think deeply. In this book, they explain how the fact that we’re often incompatible is actually God’s design: how we’re forced to be more Christlike in marriage, and that helps us to grow. And then they help us to see the bigger picture: how marriage is one of God’s designs to help us enter the bigger battle He’s waging on earth–and how we can get excited about our ability to fight in it! It’s an exciting book that will help you feel proud of your marriage, and excited about the adventure God has for you together.

Choose this book if you like deep books, love to think, and love more poetic works.

Pick up Love and War.

Join the Love and War Discussion Forum.


Just pick a book, start reading, and keep an eye on the Facebook Page and on this blog for more updates, events, and giveaways! And be sure to click through to the correct discussion forum for the book you’ve picked and go on over and “like” the forum (even if that’s all you’re going to do for now!), because then you’ll get notifications whenever a discussion starts!

And if you blog, I’ll also have a linky at the end of my review post for the month where you can post your own reviews of the book (or books) that you’ve read to get more traffic!

One book a month. You can do this! And it will make a difference in your marriage!

The Incredible Value of the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle–with Bonuses!

Who among us doesn’t want to lead a life worth living?

With great kids, a loving marriage, a successful career or business and a closer, faith-filled walk with the Lord. But for many of us, making that a reality is big challenge!

Balancing life’s priorities can seem a bit overwhelming at times. The pressures of work, the need for finances, the demands of parenting and the resulting strain on marriage can leave us weathered, weary and wondering what really works in life?

That’s where the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle comes in. Ultimate-Bundles.com called in some best selling authors, leading experts and top business professionals to address the most common challenges faced by families and individuals today – all from a solid, Biblical foundation.

How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the Storms of Life, Second Edition_medium_image_attachmentAbout 3 times a year I share with you awesome opportunities to buy bundles–tons of books bundled together for one low price, that will never be seen again! So many books that there are bound to be several dozen that you really enjoy and find helpful. And this bundle is no exception–I especially love the parenting, devotional, and sharing your faith resources (and I love the four novels simply because I love NOVELS!) Plus my book, How Big Is Your Umbrella, about walking through grief, is also included.

 

 

For the ridiculously low price of just $34.95 (for the PDF version) or $39.97 (for the eReader version), you can get access to a carefully curated collection of eBooks and eCourses with a total combined value of over $1,140 that addresses these issues with stunning clarity and practical application.

For the family…

The bundle contains 10 wonderful books focused on incredibly inventive ways you can craft the marriage you signed on for. To complement that subject, they added 8 more books focused on parenting and passing on your faith to your kids. That wouldn’t be complete without books just for kids so they also included 8 children’s books that parents can read with their children. To close out the content for family life, the highly praised Singing Bible MP3 version was added (a $25 value all by itself). It actually teaches children the story of the Bible not just random stories.

Sheila says: one of the best books for kids is A Perfect Pet for Peyton by Gary Chapman which explains love languages to kids!

For your professional life…

You will find John Muratori and Michael Pink’s six -hour Christian Wealth Building course ($77 value) which was complemented with Bob Lotich’s 31-day devotional Managing Money God’s Way. There are a total of 14 business related books and courses including Zig Ziglar’s powerful Born To Win course (that Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey rave about), Dr. James B. Richards, Wired For Success – Programmed For Failure and Untold Secrets for Creating Wealth by Brig Hart and John Beehner. You’ll even find one of the best selling Christian business books of all time, The Bible Incorporated – In Your Life, Job & Business.

To ignite your faith…

Rounding out the package, Bridge Logos and Moody Press made a series of classic Christian literature available from generals of the faith like Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, A.W. Pink, E.M. Bounds, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards and more who wrote about grace, prayer, faith and an overcoming life.

In addition to these wonderful classics, the Ultimate Bundles team snagged 12 heart-stirring devotionals from authors like A.W. Tozer and Nancy Leigh DeMoss that speak to matters of faith that are sure to inspire. Let’s not forget Gary Chapman’s Extraordinary Grace or Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master for sharing your faith with others. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, don’t miss Philip Cameron’s, They Call Me Dad, the story of one man’s fight to save orphans from human trafficking.

they call me dad

 

Sheila says: Oh, my goodness, They Call Me Dad is amazing and riveting and I was crying by page 2. What a story! It kept me from some serious work yesterday for several hours while I was devouring it. Now I want to head back to start an orphanage in Kenya…

 

 

 

The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle is an extraordinary value.

But it still gets better…

Bonuses BundleThe Ultimate Bundles team asked several sponsors to step up to the plate and with no strings attached, provide meaningful BONUS GIFTS. One of the first to step up was Dayspring Greeting Cards who offered a choice of heart-warming gift card packages to choose from. Another, is a downloadable DVD workout series for getting in shape and maintaining health. With a retail value of $62.99 it includes a Biblical study guide for stewarding your health. Bonus gifts alone have a total retail value of over $160.

 So now you know…

For as little as $34.95 you can receive over $1,140 worth of valuable eBooks and eCourses that address the issues of life most of us face at one time or another, from a profoundly Biblical worldview. The BONUS GIFTS alone are worth more than four times the price of the bundle! So, if you want to ignite your faith, strengthen your family and help your professional life, there’s no better place to start! All the hard work has been done for you…

The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th until 11:59pm (EST) on Monday, November 10th.

But don’t wait until the last moment – there are only 18,500 bundles available and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

 

You can buy with confidence because your purchase is covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day guarantee: you have a full month to enjoy all the books and courses in the bundle, and if you don’t feel like it’s made a huge difference to your family’s life, you’ll get your money back in full!

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 8 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, November 5th until 11:59 p.m. (EST) Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

What?  84 eBooks plus eCourses and more, PLUS over $160 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle HERE.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth over $1,140, and it’s yours for as little as $34.95. Sweet deal, right?

When you’re ready, you can either buy here directly, or right through the website. It’s fast and easy, and you’ll have your bundle sent to you via email within minutes.

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

Want to know exactly what’s included in the bundle?

Take a look through the categories, as well as the full list of included resources.

Business & Personal Finance

Christian Classics Series

Christian Living

Devotional Life

For Children

Inspirational Novels

Married Life

Parenting

Reaching the Lost

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

What I’m Reading This Summer

Top 10 Summer Reads

Summer is one of the only times I get to read novels. Or rather, it’s one of the few times I let myself read novels, because I’m one of those people that can’t put a book down until I’ve finished it. So I’ll ignore everything else in my life until it’s done. That’s why I only read on holidays.

Recently my husband and I were camping just outside of the city where my husband works, so that his commute wouldn’t be as long and so that we could relax together at night at the campground.

I brought my Kindle along, but it wouldn’t connect to their wifi, so I ended up browsing the library of the campground to see if there was anything interesting.

I picked up a romance novel by a very popular writer (it doesn’t matter who) and sat down to read it. It was SO BAD. I mean really, really bad. My daughters make fun of how formulaic Christian romances are, but secular romances are just as awful.

In this one, she described a man’s eyes like this (when the woman first met him at an airport):

His eyes were mesmerizing and intoxicating….no, almost dangerous. They were so dark she could almost swim in them. She felt herself shivering, trembling, as he turned his gaze towards her. And then she knew: in that brief, ten second glance those eyes knew everything about her.

Okay, what exactly do those eyes look like? I turned to my husband and said,

Honey, can you gaze at me as if your eyes know everything about me?

We ended up laughing hysterically for about fifteen minutes.

I couldn’t read it. It was just too awful.

I did pick up a thriller I enjoyed by Jeffrey Archer, though. So I thought I’d write a post on ten books I’m now reading, or have recently read, that I’ve enjoyed, to help you as you try to find something worthwhile to read this summer! I’m going to start with novels, and then finish the list with three non-fiction books.

1. Eve’s Daughters by Lynn Austin

One of my favourite Christian novels of all time. Lynn Austin writes the tale of a woman having trouble with relationships, but you can trace the root of it back several generations. And as she looks at how different generations of women have handled love, marriage, and heartache, she shows how understanding your roots, and understanding the real grace of our Saviour, can help rebuild a broken heart. From an immigrant woman not sure if she loves her husband, to a woman who lets passion result in a hidden pregnancy, to a modern woman trying to figure out whether to stay with her husband, we see how real love and commitment does triumph.

Eve’s Daughters is such a hopeful book, and it’s lovely.

2. Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde


The world is full of broken people, and everyone in this book is broken. An 8-year-old girl, living in a run-down small apartment building, is being neglected by her drug addicted mother. Her neighbors, though, are determined that she not be apprehended by children’s services and placed in the system. So they step in to fill the gaps.

In doing so, many of these neighbors have to overcome their own brokenness. And as they administer tough love to the mom, they start to see a family repaired. It’s just such a touching book. Not a Christian one, but it still shows the truth that even in broken people grace can break through. I don’t often weep at books, but I did at this one.

One of the big insights is that much brokenness is really isolation, and the cure for it is community. If we all lived in community, we could heal so much more easily. I think there’s a major message in there from the church. I thought Don’t Let Me Go was beautiful.

3.  Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

One of my favourite novels ever. I can’t read it without crying. It’s about the persecuted church in China, but it will touch you like little else you’ve ever read. The description of the motivations of Christians in China cut right through you. There’s a story in the book that actually happened–a village had everyone move out. They left all their homes behind. The reason? Everyone in the village was already a Christian, so there was no one left to witness to. They had to spread out. The whole book is like that. Tons of spiritual warfare stuff, too.

Safely Home will change you (in a good way).

4. Dominion, Deception, and Deadline by Randy Alcorn

I do love well-written Christian books with a great plot, and Randy Alcorn always delivers. Here’s his modern series focusing on homicide detective Ollie Chandler, investigating different murders with characters we’ll come to love. More John Grisham than the typical Christian novel, but with a huge focus on the spiritual element, with glimpses of heaven and spiritual warfare, too.

I really enjoyed the whole series, but you can buy each book separately, too.

5. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

This wasn’t my favourite of her books (I enjoyed Leota’s Garden and the Mark of the Lion series better), but I did like this one. A young student at a Bible school is brutally raped and impregnated one night by a stranger. The Bible college requires her to announce her rape publicly so that others don’t assume she has “sinned”. She refuses, and eventually is kicked out.

The book is more about the relationship between her former boyfriend, her new boyfriend, and her best friends and how everyone handles the rape. I thought it was far-fetched when I first read it (how can a Chrsitian institution blame a girl for being raped?), but my eyes have really been opened this year about how much legalism there still is in the church, and so I think Atonement Child is an important one to revisit.

6. Anything by Jeffrey Archer

I’m not the kind of girl who escapes to romances (and I’ve written about why romance novels can bother me). When I want to escape, I want a sweeping epic story. And I do love Jeffrey Archer for that. He’s not a Christian author, but he tells a good story, and there aren’t usually graphic sex scenes at all (unlike Ken Follett, who also writes sweeping epics).

I found The Fourth Estate in that library at the campground and devoured it, and it reminded me how much I like him!

7. Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga


What do you do when you grow up in a legalistic family to parents who have different dreams in life–and you’re caught in the middle? You develop anorexia at 9, and spend your life trying to please everybody.

Emily has written a touching memoir about battling anorexia, finding love, experiencing grace, and finally finding healing. The memoir takes us around the world as Emily tries to escape pain, but ends up right back where she started, as she finally finds healing.

Emily’s written on the blog before, and shared an excerpt of Atlas Girl here. She also wrote a while ago on why she couldn’t get undressed on her wedding night, a confession she also makes in the memoir. I’m reading it by the beach this summer, and I’d encourage all of you who need healing from your past to pick up Atlas Girl, too!

8. Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas

And now we’re on to nonfiction!

Do you struggle with doing devotions? Do you struggle with hearing God and experiencing God when you sit down for half an hour with a Bible and highlighters and a prayer journal? Maybe you just have a different Sacred Pathway.

Gary Thomas’ premise is that there are nine pathways, or ways that we most relate to God and experience God. One of those ways is through reading your Bible analytically, but many of them are not. You may experience God through nature. You may experience God through service. You may experience Him best through liturgy and candles and tradition.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. My whole family has read it now (my mother and my daughter are both trying to get Bible studies started in their respective circles of it). It helped me understand myself better, and why I need to go camping every year, especially in the rain!

As I’ve written before, many women don’t think their husbands are spiritual leaders, and long for someone to lead the family in prayer. But perhaps your husband just has a different spiritual pathway. Read Sacred Pathways. It’s awesome!

9. Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax


In this world where people are saying that men and women are interchangeable, Leonard Sax, a scientist, writes a groundbreaking book showing that gender is, indeed, hardwired into us.

I so enjoyed this easy to read book, and any parent will! It’s got great commentary and what kind of schooling works well for most boys and for most girls; for what moms and dads contribute to a kids’ development; to what discipline techniques work better for boys and what ones for girls; for how to handle teenage risk-taking among boys; and more. If you’re raising both genders, you’ve probably noticed how they’re different. This book will assure you that you’re not crazy; that girls and boys really do need different parenting–and different schooling.

Every teacher should read this, too, because it’s a great commentary to why boys are also getting left behind in schools. Check out Why Gender Matters.

10. People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck


Scott Peck took the New York Times Bestsellers List by storm in the 1980s, I believe, with his groundbreaking book The Road Less Traveled. Peck was (is?) a clinical psychologist, and his book about grace resonated with people (my daughter’s reading it now and loves it!). He wrote several more, and then followed up with this one, his most Christian. Peck was on a spiritual journey as he wrote, and I believe became a Christian in the middle of writing People of the Lie.

In this book, he’s making an argument that “evil” should be a psychiatric diagnosis. Some people are just plain evil, and there is no way to treat them. They aren’t just narcissistic or disturbed or anything like that. They are actually evil, and the only way to deal with it is with a spiritual, not a psychiatric, approach. And if we realized that some people were evil, we’d stop using psychiatric ways to cure them.

And who are these evil people? They’re everywhere. They’re often married. They’re often professionals. They’re all among us. Peck shares stories of patients he’s tried, and failed, to treat, that he now believes are simply evil. I started reading the book when my husband was having trouble with someone at work, and Peck’s description fit this person to a T. People of the Lie is riveting, and it will make you see the world in a new way.

Maybe that’s not a good book to end my list on, but it is hopeful at the end. And it is a fascinating summer read!

So there you are–whether you like fiction or non-fiction, I hope there are some books that can entertain you this summer while also making you think and turning you more towards God.

Now I’d love to know–what are you reading? What do you think are great summer reads? Let me know in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links.

 

My Daughter Being Hilarious–and More!

My youngest has an awesome YouTube channel, and here’s her latest installment:

What Books Taught Her (that the authors never intended). I dare you to get through the Twilight rant without laughing:

And now for Katie being more serious:

Last week she was one of 15 quizzers from the Eastern Canada district of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church sent to the international competition for Bible quizzing, which was held this year just north of Toronto (yay! We didn’t have to travel much. Next year it’s in Minnesota). They were quizzing on the books of Romans and James in the English Standard Version.

My daughter at internationals quizzing

Her team made it to the finals of the Consolation A division, and ended up winning that quiz. You can watch the whole thing here (hit the video that’s 79 minutes long–the times when Katie is featured are listed in the next paragraph). The first part of the video is a 20 question quiz. You get 30 seconds to answer a question, and most questions are jumped on after two syllables (in the district meets throughout the year you tend to get the whole question out–but this is internationals). To “jump”, the kids are sitting on benches with a sensor that’s hooked up to a board, and when you take your weight off the sensor, your light goes off. So that’s how they know who got the jump.

At 2:00 Katie leads in the national anthem. Katie jumps and answers 4 questions correctly–at 14:30, 28:15, 30:50, and 40:40–to win the quiz. It’s really pretty awesome to watch how well these kids know these books! Like I said, they have to be able to answer after just two words.

Katie (the captain) congratulating one of her rookie quizzers on pulling an answer out of nowhere.

Katie (the captain) congratulating one of her rookie quizzers on pulling an answer out of nowhere.

Katie can quote ALL of Romans and James, word perfectly. And she can tell you any verse. So proud of her!

Katie jumped on basically nothing, just said an answer--and actually got it right. Here's her surprised look.

Katie jumped on basically nothing, just said an answer–and actually got it right. Here’s her surprised look.

She ended up 6th out of 120 quizzers, and top Canadian. (But before you Americans get too proud, last year the top quizzer WAS a Canadian. Booyah!)


A Note About the Comments Section

I just want to take a moment and say something about the comments.

I want this blog to be a safe place where women can get great encouragement and inspiration for their marriage, their sex life, and their parenting. I’ve thought and prayed a lot about my perspective, and I’m quite comfortable with it, as are my publishers and the many people who hire me to speak.

However, I’ve run into trouble over the last 3-4 years with commenters who completely disagree with my stance on many things–specifically people who think that women don’t do enough in marriage; that most porn use is due to women’s refusing sex; that women should not set boundaries, since that is the job of the man who is in authority; that divorce is almost always women’s fault; and that the aim of marriage seems to be hierarchy rather than oneness.

In general, these commenters have been male, and they tend to comment critically multiple times on posts–and on multiple posts.

What I started to notice about two years ago was that my regular commenters–the women who come here day in and day out–were no longer commenting because the comment section was getting so nasty. My comment section was actually more dynamic 3 years ago than it is today, largely because of the negative tone that took over.

I didn’t want that, and I finally banned about ten commenters who were really spreading dissension. There is absolutely no problem with people having their own viewpoint, but I want this to be a safe place for the women who come here. And if my regular, faithful readers–who are the target of this blog–are being chased from the comments section, that isn’t good.

My eyes were really opened at the meetup I did in Ottawa a few weeks ago, because those women–who read me everyday–in general don’t read the comments because they either don’t care what other people think, or they don’t like it being so negative.

So once again, I think it’s time to restate my policy. I do not want to spread a view of Christianity which I feel is wrong, because 9000 people a day arrive here from Google alone–people who may have no Christian background at all, or who may be searching. For these people, in particular, I want to portray a positive image of what I believe Christ wants for marriage.

If people want to spread another view, they are free to do so on their own blogs.

Therefore, I will delete comments that I feel are harmful to the mission of this blog. I will let through contradictory comments, but, in general, I will only let through one from each person on a blog post. I won’t let arguments go on and on. And if certain people insist on criticizing me on every blog post, I will ban them, too. If I believe that comments spread a view of marriage that I think will turn visitors off of the church, I will also delete them, because I care very much about the witness of this blog and its chance to influence those who don’t know Christ.

And now I’d like to let my husband say something. Here’s Keith:

The main problem (it seems to me) is that these men are relentlessly putting forward the erroneous teaching that Biblical headship mean absolute authority.  In their view, women should not be permitted to set boundaries for their husband as he is “in authority over them” (as one commenter put it) and thus wives must submit without question to all the husband’s demands regardless of his attitudes and actions, be they sinful or not .  They further go on to characterize women who do not submit in this extreme sense as being disobedient to God and try to convince people that women (like my wife, Sheila) who teach a more moderate view are not following proper Christian doctrine.

Now I know there is a great deal of debate about what headship means, but I think we can all agree on one thing: our model as husbands is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  But a subtle (and deadly) error has crept into these men’s teaching. They feel they ARE Christ to their wives and demand the same obedience from their wives that she would give to Christ Himself. This is a gross misinterpretation of Ephesians.  In my mind, although Christ is my model as a husband, I fully recognize that (unlike Him) I am prone to sin, error and selfishness.  I have no problem with my wife “calling me” if I am slipping.  I believe the VAST MAJORITY of Christian husbands feel the same way.  And I think we all feel the same disapproval of men who demand this kind of absolute submission from their wives.

When Sheila first told me there were men specifically coming to her blog to disagree with her on issues of submission, I couldn’t believe it.  Do they honestly have nothing better to do with their time than troll around on women’s websites looking for fights about this issue?  That would just seem pathetic to me if it hadn’t been so hurtful.  So to all the women who have been hurt by what these men have said: Please know they are not the majority opinion and they do not have the monopoly on Biblical truth that they claim.

A successful Christian marriage works best when God is the one in complete authority and both husband and wife, in submission to Him, are seeking each other’s best interest. True, God has given a role of leadership to husbands, but the clear model of Christ is servant-leadership, not despotic-leadership.  Rather than proof texting from specific verses, we need to look at the whole teaching of Scripture in this area.  The clearest commentary I have is this: Jesus said you would know them by their fruit.  The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  To me it is very clear which sort of home is more likely to provide an environment for these fruits to flourish.

May God bless you in your marriages as you seek to honour Him.

Top 10 Books to Read in 2014 to Boost Your Marriage

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s Tuesday, so it’s time for a Top 10 list! And today I thought I’d share a list of the best Christian marriage books that will help your marriage this year.

I asked a while ago on my Facebook Page for recommendations for great marriage books, and so many of you left great suggestions. I’m sorry I couldn’t include them all! You can go over and read those suggestions here.

But I’ve included the ones that resonated the most with me. I didn’t include the “typical” marriage books, though–the ones that everyone has already heard of, like The 5 Love Languages, and Love and Respect, and Sacred Marriage. These are great books, but I talk about them enough that they’re everywhere, so I figured they’re already on your radar. I wanted to include books that likely weren’t.

Now, ladies, I’m not doing this to overwhelm you. I’m not saying, “you need to go out and read all ten of these books RIGHT NOW!”

I’m saying that we could all grow a little bit in our marriage this year, and that’s a great goal. So I’ve divided these books up into different categories, and why don’t you pick a category that you need to grow in the most, and then pick one book? Just one.

Decide to read one book this year and then actually put it into practice. That’s better than reading ten, anyway! So choose one book in an area that you know you need, and I know you’ll see some real benefits.

 10 Christian Marriage Books to Help Your Marriage Thrive

Christian Marriage Books To Grow a Healthier Marriage

1. Boundaries in MarriageBoundaries in Marriage

Drs. Cloud and Townsend open their book with a great story of two different couples. Both have been married for over thirty years. One couple is at a buffet restaurant with one of the authors, and when the husband is finished his main course, he gestures to his wife, and says, “Doris, dessert now.” He wants her to go get him dessert. She’s embarrassed but she does it. The other couple takes pains to care for each other. They don’t walk all over each other. They treat each other kindly, and marriage is a joy.

And yet both marriages started out on very similar footing. In both marriages she did most of the work, and he thought he should get the perks. But only one marriage ended up happy, because in only one marriage did the woman learn how to draw boundaries effectively so that they were each treating each other with respect, in a Christlike manner.

Most couples have no idea how to draw boundaries and how to resolve conflict. This is a really practical book, and it will open your eyes to some of the roots of conflict in your marriage. I highly recommend it!

Emotionally Healthy Woman2. The Emotionally Healthy Woman

Sometimes in order to build a great marriage we need to start saying “No”–no to overfunctioning, “no” to caring what other people think, “no” to feeling guilty. In The Emotionally Healthy Woman, Geri Scazzero tells the story of how she was way too busy. She did too much in her husband’s church. She allowed her husband to never be home because she felt that’s what a good Christian wife did. She pushed herself to her emotional and physical limits because she thought her only role was to pour herself out for everybody else.

And in the process she made herself miserable and her family miserable. Their family only started to heal and grow together in a healthy way when she started learning to say “No”. A great book for any woman who feels exhausted and wonders how to stop the frantic pace of life!

 Rocking the Roles3. Rocking the Roles

What does it really mean to submit? To love your wife as Christ loved the church? To be a leader in marriage? Robert Lewis and William Hendricks tackle that huge can of worms in this supremely practical book, filled with lots of examples.

Here’s what I really appreciated about the book: they didn’t just say “here’s what the wife should do” or “here’s what the husband should do”. They also provided a blueprint of what a spouse can do when the other ISN’T fulfilling their role. And I really appreciated the end of the book where they give some concrete examples of how church leaders should help when roles are going really unfulfilled–something I commented on in my post Are You a Spouse or an Enabler? Sometimes I think we look at roles in a vacuum–you have to submit, period. But what do you do if you’re in an impossible situation? They offer some help that is sorely needed.

Mystery of Marriage4. Mystery of Marriage

When I was compiling this list of ten books, I asked my agent, who has read every Christian marriage book under the sun, what book stood out to him. And he said, without hesitation, “Mystery of Marriage”. It’s twenty years old now, but still highly relevant. Mike Mason writes meditations on what marriage really means, and what intimacy really means. It’s highly readable, in a first person account, that will open your eyes to the deeper significance of marriage and propel you to make your marriage the best it can be!

Chip says, “It’s just really, really good.” And when he says that, it’s high praise.

Christian Marriage Books To Grow Your Sex Life

Good Girls Guide My Site5. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex

If sex has never been that stupendous in your marriage, you need this book! We were created to enjoy sex, and to have it unite us physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it’s not doing that in your relationship, don’t settle for that. Embark on a really fun research project to make it wonderful in your marriage, too!

I deal in this book with why God made sex the way He did, and then I look at how we can have great sex in each of the three areas: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In a survey I did recently of my regular readers, I found that 80% had not actually purchased any of my books yet. So I know many of you reading this have heard of this book but haven’t bought it yet. There’s so much more in it than is in the blog, and I know that it will bless your marriage!

Sex Savvy Wife6. The Sex Savvy Wife

J from Hot, Holy and Humorous has just come out with this gem–The Sex Savvy Wife: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Women. It’s great paired with The Good Girl’s Guide. J gets supremely practical, and deals with the “how-to” of everything you can imagine in the bedroom. It’s more detailed in that sense than my book. It’s even got–gasp!–some diagrams.

I love that she went where many are afraid to go, and I’m happy to carry her book in my store, too. If sex has seemed awkward, and you just don’t know if you’re “doing it right”, J helps you figure it out and make it amazing. And it’s only $4.99!

Books to Grow Your Prayer Life in Marriage

Praying Gods Word for your Husband7. Praying God’s Word for Your Husband

I just love Kathi Lipp! And in this amazing book she helps us be our husband’s best cheerleaders by showing how we can pray God’s word in specific areas of our husband’s lives to support them, encourage them, and help them thrive.

I love this approach because it gets our eyes off of what we want and it gets our eyes back where they belong–to what God wants to do in our husband’s lives. And Kathi writes so simply, and with such passion for marriages. I’ve spoken with her at MOPS conventions before, and she’s such a great, godly woman. All of that shines through in this book. If you’ve wanted to pray more deliberately, and to see great changes in your husband, pick this one up!

Little Book of Powerful Prayers8. Little Book of Powerful Prayers

It seems odd to put this gem in a list of marriage books, but I truly believe this will help your marriage!

Stormie Omartian has written a little book with prayers from each book of the Bible–and several from a few. So as you pray through it you see the story of God unfold throughout its pages.

But here’s the reason I love it for marriage: I think many of us have difficulty getting a prayer life going with our husbands. We’re not necessarily comfortable praying out loud, and we don’t know when to pray or how to pray. This book has awesome prayers that you can pray together. Just keep it by your bedside, and every night hold each other’s hands and one of you pray the prayer. Then the other can add something if they want to (but they don’t have to). I think praying together, even just for a minute or two, can add so much to a marriage. And if you don’t know how to start, this book can be your guide.

 Christian Marriage Novels to Help Your Thought Life

A Time to Dance 9. A Time to Dance

Novels can sometimes teach us truths in a way that a nonfiction book can’t, and so I’ve decided to highlight two novels (although there are many more that are uplifting for marriage!). I have to admit I don’t love ALL of Karen Kingsbury’s books, but I really loved this series. It follows a middle-aged couple who have drifted apart. Everyone thinks they have the perfect marriage, but years of not paying attention to that marriage have led to potential emotional affairs, lots of retributions, and distance.

How do you find your way back when you’re not even sure you like each other anymore? In this book the couple has decided to divorce, but they decide not to announce it until after their child’s wedding. And as the wedding approaches, they realize how much they actually do have to lose if they split up. It was uplifting, and it reminded you of the importance of working on your marriage so that drift didn’t happen. A great read!

Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers10. The Scarlet Thread

I love Francine Rivers’ books, especially the Mark of the Lion series. Or should I say, I love MOST of Rivers’ books (more on that in a minute). Rivers started out as a romance writer, and then was saved. So her books changed. But I think she writes of marriage so realistically and beautifully. And this book shows a woman who is doubting her marriage who finds an old diary, and in it she starts to see the hand of God in her ancestor’s life and marriage, and then begins to see it in her own, too.

And her marriage changes when she gets a new attitude and starts learning to love. It’s really quite beautiful.

One caveat, though: I really didn’t like And the Shofar Blew by Rivers. In that book, a pastor grows increasingly away from God as his church grows, and he eventually falls into an affair. Yes, he’s restored at the end and yes, their marriage is saved, but I felt that the wife was a complete doormat. If she had spoken up when her husband started to fall, and taken her concerns to the elders of the church, much of the heartache could have been avoided. I’m afraid that this particular novel tells women to do absolutely nothing when your husband is in sin, and that is not the message of the Bible that I see. So while I love The Scarlet Thread, and I absolutely adore the Mark of the Lion series, I’m not as fond of all of her marriage books.

So there you go–a list of ten books to help your marriage thrive this year. Why not choose one, in an area where you know you need to grow, and read it and put it into practice!

And leave your suggestions for great Christian marriage books in the comments!

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Top 10 Things I Gleaned from Happy Wives Club

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s a Tuesday, and that means it’s time for our Top 10 post! It’s a new feature I’m starting this year, and I’m so excited that one of my FIRST Top 10 posts is for my darling friend Fawn Weaver of The Happy Wives Club.

Fawn is a happy wife. But a few years ago she was just overwhelmed by all the negativity towards marriage in the media. So she told her husband Keith (my husband is Keith, too; Keiths are great!) that she was going to do something about it. She was going to start “talking up” happy wives, because she knew she wasn’t alone.

Happy Wives ClubFrom that dream started her awesome blog (where I guest post sometimes) and her fabulous Facebook Page. And now she has a book out which is hitting bookstores TODAY!

Happy Wives Club isn’t a self-help book. Instead, it’s more of a memoir, with a “Under the Tuscan Sun” flavor. She hops on a plane and circles the globe, interviewing couples who have been blissfully married 25 years or more on all the different continents, to discover the commonalities, the threads, the secrets to these happy marriages.

The book is about her travels, her discoveries, and even her introspection as she’s challenged to risk more, to love more, and to be open to change. And it will make you hungry. Seriously. She ate such great food!

I actually met Fawn two years ago when she was in the middle of all of these travels. She’s honestly a delight, and she’s so humble. And I pray that she meets her goal of changing the way our culture sees marriage!

In her book she gives away, at the end, the 12 “threads” that she found in happy marriages. Instead of trying to narrow those down to 10, to fit my Top 10 meme, I’ll just tell you to buy the book if you want to know all 12 (and you should buy the book!). I thought, though, that I’d share the 10 Best Discoveries About Marriage I found on the pages. Some of them are more minor things, but they stood out to me, and I know you’ll recognize these themes from my writings.

1. Sex is great. Why waste time by avoiding it?

Okay, Fawn would be MORTIFIED that I put that as my #1. Whenever she wants to write about sex she asks me to guest post because she’s kind of shy. But she included this little nugget in the book, and I’m so proud of her for opening up! And I think she said it brilliantly. After being away from her husband for several weeks traveling, they’re reunited in London. And they have FUN.

Making love is not equivalent to love. But not making love is most certainly a waste. We didn’t want to be wasteful.

Seriously, sex is lovely. If you look for a reason not to have sex, you will always find one. Instead, let’s just change our mindset, and not waste the time!

2. Gratitude is the Key to Happiness

Fawn writes,

Every happily married person I interviewed on my trip was grateful for his or her spouse, thanking God daily for one another.

Do you thank God for your spouse? Here’s your challenge from me for you today: before you go to sleep tonight, put your hand on your husband’s shoulder as you lie in bed and thank God for your husband. Bonus points if you do it out loud so he can hear!

3. Happy Marriages are Contagious

When I was reading Fawn’s book, my husband was sitting at the island in our kitchen, working on some corporate forms he had to submit to the government. It was seriously boring and he was aggravated. And as I was reading about these happy couples bubbling over with love for one another, I realized how happy I was to have a husband who would do the boring things so I didn’t have to. And I got up and gave him a big hug.

I did it because I was inspired by a couple from New Zealand that’s featured in Fawn’s book. Hearing about couples who love each other, and seeing how they hold hands, and finish each other’s sentences, and touch each other’s knees, is adorable. And it makes you want to reach for that, too.

Don’t be afraid to let others see your happy marriage. It will inspire them to love their spouses, too!

Happy Marriages are Contagious--10 Truths about Happy Marriages

4. A Happy Marriage Is a Key to the Fountain of Youth

Ever notice how adorable older couples are who are still in love? They look YOUNGER. And on her voyages, Fawn kept running into couples in their fifties, sixties, and seventies who looked a decade or so younger than their years. Staying happy keeps you young!

So treat each other well. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It pays such great dividends!

5. Deal with Problems When They Happen

Treating each other well and being grateful for each other doesn’t mean that you ignore problems. On the contrary: it means that you deal with them all the more, and as soon as they crop up, because you don’t want anything jeopardizing what you’ve got together.

Fawn writes,

I’ve known plenty of couples who choose to ignore budding problems or dissatisfactions because it’s easier in the moment. But too much of that for long enough, and you all of a sudden have a huge problem on your hands, or a midlife crisis, or a broken marriage.

Like I said in my post on being a Peace-Maker not a Peace-Keeper, keeping problems to yourself doesn’t help in the long run. Sometimes the route to peace lies through conflict, and that’s okay.

6. Listen to the Heart, not the Words

I’m a great listener when Keith and I argue. The only problem: I tend to be listening to the loophole, so that I can smash him over the head with it and win, rather than listening to what Keith is really feeling.

Happy marriages value the other person’s feelings. Instead of trying to “win” an argument, they try to make each feel respected and valued.

Kris, one of the women Fawn interviewed, understood this.

In that conversation with Richard, Kris did precisely what she’d done before offering her tennis quitting advice from years before. She paid attention. Instead of getting swept up in a reaction–regardless of how legitimate it would have been–she unseated herself and chose to focus on what Richard was saying. That kind of awareness is rare. It’s rare in a person and even more so with a couple.

But that awareness, when you let go of your own feelings and push them aside for now to truly listen to your husband’s heart–that makes all the difference in the world. You can always come back to your own feelings later. But if you don’t give him the right to air what he is feeling, and don’t give him the respect he needs, you’ll never come to a true feeling of intimacy or peace.

7. When You Get Into the Habit of Serving Each Other, Marriage Doesn’t Seem Like Work

Have you heard it said, “marriage takes a lot of work”?

I think that’s true–but I don’t think that’s the whole story. And so I was excited to see this echoed in Fawn’s book.

Here’s what I think happens: as you love your husband, you do nice things for him. You start to think, how can I make him smile right now? What could I do to make his load lighter, even if it’s only a small thing? Maybe it’s just getting him a cup of coffee, or giving him a kiss of the cheek as you pass by his desk. Yes, remembering to do these things takes work. But eventually it becomes so second nature that it isn’t work anymore.

That’s when things really get fun. I’m almost there in my marriage. I have a ways to go in getting my eyes off of myself and thinking more about how to show my husband love. But I am finding that marriage takes much less “work” than it used to because we’ve built good marriage habits. And now showing him love is actually fun!

8. Marriage Can Be One of the Best Healing Forces in the World

One of the things I so appreciated about Fawn’s book was her own story and struggles. She touches on some of the heartaches and problems and baggage that she brought into marriage. She felt lonely, and she felt useless, and she so needed to succeed to feel validated. And so she tends to overwork, and throw herself into business too much.

At the same time, she’s really nervous about having a child, because what if it wrecks her marriage? And what if she fails at that?

As Fawn talks to other couples, she relays how many of these fears are brought to the surface by God, as He starts to poke her in her tender places to get her to grow. But as you read the book, you realize that so much of that growth is not just between God and Fawn; it’s between Fawn and Keith, whom God is using to be a balm in her life.

I’ve had a week where baggage from my past has reared its ugly head again. I go through periods in my life where I feel paralyzed to open some emails, and the root of it is that I’m afraid people will reject me and not like me. It all stems from my childhood. But as I spoke to Keith about it, I realized that he is such a healing force in my life, and these things are slowly getting better. Marriage is a beautiful tool that God can use to heal some of our deepest wounds.

9. Life is More Fun when Experienced with Someone Else

Have you ever seen the most beautiful sunset, and then become immediately disappointed because your husband isn’t there to share it with?

Much of Fawn’s book is like that. You can feel how she enjoyed her travels and interviews so much more when her husband joined her. Yes, we need to have our own lives, and it’s important to develop hobbies outside of our husbands. But let’s never forget that life is richer when shared.

10. Happy Marriages are Alive and Well

I know many of you who come to this blog come here for help, because you’re not in a happy marriage right now. Perhaps that’s because we’ve lost that inspiration that it is possible. If more of us could sit at the feet of happy couples, we would move mountains to be able to have that for ourselves. I pray that both you AND your husband will feel that kind of urgency to create a truly happy marriage.

And let me end the way Fawn does, saying, it is totally possible! She writes,

Happy marriages are alive and well. The cries of their demise have been highly overrated, and couples happily married do indeed exist.

Happy marriages do exist--10 truths from happy marriages

Happy Wives ClubMay you one day experience that level of happiness, too.

Happy Wives Club hits bookstores today! Order your copy now, and you’ll be encouraged and inspired, too.

And now, just for your pleasure, here’s a happily married couple that will put a smile on your face:

Divergent is a Christian Novel–The Good and the Bad in YA Fiction

I am a big believer in reading novels. I read to my children every night from the time they were 6 months old (they’d still stare at baby board books). We graduated to chapter books when they were 4. And they’ve always found great pleasure in reading novels, too.

But I’ve always been really careful with what I let them read. Let’s face it: most teen fiction, and a whole lot of children’s fiction, isn’t good.

Yet I don’t think we should write off secular fiction as a whole, because books have the ability to transport us to other worlds and to really affect our hearts in ways that other things can’t. Books have the power to really heal and teach and challenge. I think it’s because when we read we need to create the story ourselves–we’re active participants. Because we can’t “see” the action or the characters, we need to imagine it. Unlike a movie, a book becomes a part of who we are.

And so today I thought I’d tell you about the good news and the bad news when it comes to Young Adult Fiction.

Stuff I Love: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant (Divergent is a Christian Novel!)

Divergent is a Christian Novel (in my opinion)Oh, my goodness, what amazing Christian books without being Christian. I was introduced to the Divergent trilogy  last summer, when only the first two were out. The author, Veronica Roth, apparently started them when she was only 19, and sold them in her early twenties. She is a Christian. The books are not–outwardly. But I have never read such a good Christian allegory as these books. I truly believe Divergent is a Christian novel. The central question she is asking in the series is this:

Is it possible for humans, on their own, to overcome original sin?

And the conclusion? Nope.

They’re full of action and suspense and an amazing plot. The writing isn’t the best; I don’t think there’s very many words over two syllables. But honestly, teenagers don’t care. And we heard about these books not from other Christians but from teens we knew who were reading them. Katie started reading, and then I read, and I was hooked.

The central theme is that society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Tris is born into Abnegation, but when kids reach 16, they are given a test which shows which trait they are best suited for. And then they get to choose: do you want to stay in your faction, or switch factions? And there’s no switching back. Once you switch, you leave your family behind.

But something happens to Tris. Unlike everybody else, she ranks for three virtues, not just one. She’s a Divergent. And because of that, she finds herself embroiled in a mystifying plot to try to deal with her and get rid of her. In the process, she ends up taking the whole system down. By the end of the second book, Insurgent, we find out how these factions started: humanity had tried to deal with original sin by “genetically” modifying out the bad. And it didn’t work.

Allegiant is the new and final book in the trilogy, and I haven’t finished it yet (though Katie did and she was really upset at the end!). I guess it’s a sad ending, but I think that’s okay, and likely in keeping with what Veronica Roth was trying to do (showing that there is no redemption this side of heaven). As far as I know she hasn’t publicly talked about the theological implications of her story; she’s hoping people pick up on it and that it makes people talk about it. But I think reading these books with your teens, or talking about them with kids who aren’t Christian, is an awesome conversation starter. I’m excited to finish Allegiant!

Often Christians think we can only read Christian fiction, but there’s great stuff out there in the secular world, too. You just need to be super picky. And even though these are marketed as “young adult” books, as an adult-adult, I can tell you I loved them.

Divergent is coming out as a movie soon and we’ll definitely be seeing it. Here’s the trailer:

I’m glad people are making intelligent books and intelligent movies that make you think about deeper issues. You can read the book and watch the movie and see only the action; but if you look at what’s really underneath the plot, there’s a lot of good theology there. It’s a great allegory, and I hope people think hard about it.

What I Hate: Fan Fiction

Every parent needs to be wary of “Fan Fic” as it’s called. Basically, fans of best-selling books, like Twilight, write their own books featuring the main character or side characters. They tend to sell well because fans of the books want more. Unfortunately, these books are often high sexually explicit or overly graphic.

50 Shades of Grey, after all, started out as Fan Fiction from Twilight.

Here’s the problem: Let’s say your children like a series that is relatively harmless. they go on all the fan pages for the book series. They follow it on Facebook. And then they see links to extra stories. They download them (lots of them are free, after all, because these new authors are trying to develop a following on the back of something that has already sold). But these books that they’ve downloaded aren’t nearly as innocent as the books they’ve read. (For the record, I never thought Twilight was that innocent, but it’s much less harmful than most of its Fan Fiction!).

The moral of the story: Really watch what your kids access on the internet. Even when it’s not out-and-out porn it can still be really damaging. Most of us adults have never even heard the term “Fan Fic”, but believe me–if you have teens, chances are they know what it is. So we need to keep vigilant and talk to our kids about what they’re reading, and how they’re accessing it.
Swimming Through Clouds-OfficialWithLogo(1)

Christian YA Special Deal

My friend Rajdeep Paulus has written a moving book about abuse, friendship, and the power of connection. I reviewed it here, but she’s hosting a great giveaway right now where you can win a bunch of prizes! She writes:

Talia and Lagan, the main characters in Swimming Through Clouds, met in the fall of their senior year in high school. To celebrate their unforgettably sticky, Post-it love story, I’m declaring fall as the best time to fall in love. :) And no better way to celebrate than with a MEGA-Giveaway with lots of Fun Fall Prizes including a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Fifteen Winners will win over $150 worth in prizes. You could be one of them! So whatcha waitin’ for? The Swimming Through Clouds family invites you to jump into our pile of prizes and find plenty of ways to rack up your chances to be a winner. See you in November when the Lucky 15 will be announced! Happy Swimming, all!

What books do you love for teens? Let me know in the comments!


Women Living Well–The Book and a Giveaway!

Three Marriage Bloggers!

Women Living Well–The Book

My friend Courtney, from Women Living Well, has her first book out! It went live this week, and she’s so excited, and I’m so proud of her! I’ve known Courtney for years, but we actually met in person at last year’s Allume bloggers’ conference. Here I am (in the middle) with Darlene, the Time Warp Wife, on the left, and Courtney on the right.


Courtney’s passion is to show women that they can find joy in embracing the “time warp wife” role–by Finding Joy in your role as wife and mom. We don’t need to listen to everything society tells us about how we need fulfillment in all kinds of ways. We need to remember that God ultimately gives us fulfillment, and that as we love those He has given us, we will find joy.

So in her book she takes us step by step into finding joy in the things that matter most–first with God, then with our husbands, then with our kids, and then with our homes. Let’s put first things first!

Courtney is really passionate about joy in service, and it shows through everything she writes. I’m sure you’ll love the book, and here’s a taste:

I talk a lot about marriage on this blog, too, and it’s something that I think a ton about. So rather than talking about what Courtney wrote about marriage, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about Courtney–and what I got from reading the book.

Courtney and Darlene roomed together at the Allume conference, along with another blogger. That takes a lot of guts. I don’t room with people when I go away. I really like my space.

But needless to say, we all hung out in their room because that’s where all the action was! It was fun, and it was loud, and they had food. At the time, Courtney was finishing up her manuscript for the book, and she was frantically writing whenever she had a chance.

One thing I vividly remember, though, is that whenever I went into their room to chat, her Bible was sitting open on her bed. That says a lot to me–she was constantly in the Word.

And that was the part of the book that spoke to me the most personally. I’ve always struggled with maintaining a meaningful devotional life. I think because I think and talk so much about Scripture, it almost seems like every time I open my Bible it has to be as part of a large, in-depth Bible study. And when I don’t have time for that, or don’t have the energy for it, I always feel a little bit guilty. What can I get out of the Bible today, then, if I don’t have 10 different coloured pencils and a notebook on hand?

But Courtney gave me a new way of looking at it. Instead of always seeing the Bible like it has to be a big study, ask yourself,

What specifically is God saying to me today?

And as you’re reading, look for that verse that you can meditate on. And I’ve started to do that. It’s such a little thing–finding a verse that speaks to you everyday. But I do it. And when I find that verse, I write it in my journal and write about it. And then I write it on a little verse card, and carry it around with me that day, and keep referring back to it. And it helps me focus.

Last week my blog was doing wonky things again, and I couldn’t edit anything. It was fine on the front end (the part you see) but not for me. And then I read a simple verse about protection:

For you, O Lord, are a shield around me, you’re my glory, and the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3)

I’d had my head in my hands all day, worrying, and God said, “I’ll lift your head, and I’ll fight for you.” And so I carried that verse with me–and the blog fixed all on its own, without me doing anything.

That’s what Women Living Well is like–big picture things about how to see our roles in life, but then little picture things of practical ways to put it into practice.

I love it! And Courtney is giving away two copies! Read below to enter.

31 Days to Great Sex in Paperback

31 Days to Great Sex is now available in paperback! Make your marriage sizzle.Meanwhile, I have my own “new” book out! It’s not really new; it’s just that I’ve finally put 31 Days to Great Sex in paperback as well! And I’m so excited about it.

I’ve sold thousands of copies of the ebook, and that’s still the most inexpensive way to buy it, but I know that many people wanted a book they could hold (and it makes a great stocking stuffer, too!). So here it is!

The only downside is that shipping from Canada is a little hefty. My shopping cart is actually overcharging for shipping by about $2 (it’s a glitch I can’t fix), so I’ve put the book on permanent sale from $12 to $10 to make up for it. And you can get an additional $3 off by using the coupon code “Sizzle” on checkout (because who doesn’t want their marriage to sizzle?).

And you can win a copy below by entering, too!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

I’ll be giving away 2 copies of Courtney’s book, and one paperback of 31 Days to Great Sex. The first two winners drawn will win Courtney’s book, and the third my book. These prizes are only available to those in North America, but if someone from another continent wins, I’ll substitute some ebooks for the prize.

I’ll do the draw next Thursday at midnight EST. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway