Category Archives: Book Project

Alone in Marriage, TBP #30

Alone in Marriage: Encouragement for the times when it’s all up to you. Because every marriage has moments — seasons — in which extra encouragement goes a long way…

“Sounds depressing.” The sentiment came from a friend when I told her I ordered this book when it came out nine years ago. Actually, I ordered five copies. And this is the last one I have left. Is it just me that’s struck by the reality that I’ve found four other women to give this book away to while I still have three out of five copies of The Love Dare sitting on my shelf?

We’re currently 22 years into this journey. You know it’s not all mountaintop experiences. And those valleys? Phshew! Some of them are looong. And dark and cold. And claustrophobic. And lonely.

So when Susie Larson came out with this book, Alone in Marriage: Encouragement for the times when it’s all up to you, I bought a copy for myself as well as some to give away.

“Beloved, the Spirit of God has come to release you of the effect of dis-appointment. He reminds you, ‘Your appointment with your destiny is still set.'”                                                                                                                              — Francis Frangipane

22 years. And I can honestly say it gets better and better. Easier? Well, not on some days. Definitely richer, more complex. Like starting the marriage fast-food style and eventually learning the art of the succulent cuisine experienced in a five-star restaurant featuring exquisite desserts.

I couldn’t agree more with Larson when she writes, “Marriage is worth fighting for, and prayer is the most effective way to battle for results. If only we had a glimpse of the activity taking place in heaven because of the prayers of God’s people!

…We either give up or gain ground based on our faithfulness in prayer. Oh, may God give us eyes to see the impact of our intercession! When we live only in the moment, we lose sight of the bigger picture.”

Today… LeRoy and I have spent the day embracing and making out every time we walk past each other. (I’m not exaggerating. Some days are just like this for us. Like one really long day of foreplay.)

Three days ago… we got in such a big argument that we shouted at each other. (An hour and a half later, I couldn’t remember what on earth the argument had even been about! I asked LeRoy the next day what we argued about and he couldn’t remember either. Well then.)

Do you ever experience times when you feel like the responsibility for the marriage is all on your shoulders? I’ve felt that way before. Susie Larson is an encourager. Alone in Marriage is for you or someone you know who could benefit from bold hope and love spoken into your soul, spoken from a place of understanding and compassion.

Rating: 3 stars

Takeaway: I love Susie Larson’s personality. And I really appreciate how she shares from the broken and healed places in her own story. At the end of each chapter, there’s a section for you to simply receive encouragement through her “Lending A Hand” with succinct points to steady you during those especially precarious parts of the journey. She prays for you and with you with a written prayer. And then gives you a few passages of Scripture along with some questions for introspection or journaling.

Like sitting with a friend during a difficult bout in our marriage, Larson’s words speak encouragement, power, and love over relationship as well as over each woman. From the first page to the last, she offers reassurance that we’re not alone. And that there’s Hope. And sometimes, we could all use that little bit of extra encouragement to go the journey.


Love For A Lifetime, TBP #29

Love For A Lifetime: Building a Marriage That Will Go the Distance, by Dr. James C. Dobson and published in 1987. It would be six more years until I got married.

I have no idea where I got this book. And I’m sure I’ve meant well by keeping it on my shelf… I’m sure I’ll read it someday.

But, listen to this, Dobson writes in the first chapter,

[Regarding the five out of ten marriages that don’t end in divorce]… “According to clinical psychologist Neil Warren, who appeared on my “Focus on the Family” radio program, all five will stay together for a lifetime, but in varying degrees of disharmony. He quoted the research of Dr. John Cuber whose findings were published in a book entitled The Significant Americans. Cuber learned that some couples will remain married for the benefit of the children, while others will pass the years in relative apathy. Incredibly, only one or two out of ten will achieve what might be called ‘intimacy’ in the relationship.

By intimacy Dr. Warren is referring to the mystical bond of friendship, commitment, and understanding that almost defies explanation. It occurs when a man and woman, being separate and distinct individuals, are fused into a single unit which the Bible calls “one flesh.” I’m convinced the human spirit craves this kind of unconditional love, and experiences something akin to “soul hunger” when it cannot be achieved. I’m also certain that most couples expect to find intimacy in marriage, but somehow it usually eludes them.

He goes on to ask this question, among others, “When the story of your family is finally written, what will the record show?”

On a couple’s date night last Friday, the six of us wrote down the answer to this question: What are three words you want to define your marriage? In other words, a year from now, three years, five years, when someone asks you to describe your marriage in three words, these three words would be a pretty good description. The cool thing about this exercise is that couples are writing their own words, individually. This way — unless they inadvertently use the same word — they end up with six words that cast vision, purpose, and mission.

Do you want to know mine and LeRoy’s?

Mine were Bold, Creative, Fun. LeRoy wrote down Adventurous, Globetrotting, Peaceful. One of the other couples came up with words that were all synonyms of intimacy.

No rating or takeaway, only because I haven’t read it.

I’ll keep it on my shelf a little longer. Tipped on its’ side so that I’ll know it’s unread.

What are your’s and your spouse’s words you want to describe your marriage? Let me know in the comments.


The Love Dare, TBP #28

Three copies sit on my shelf. Because sometimes, I believe so passionately in an idea that I invest in more than a copy for myself. Surely, I think, someone else will benefit from this, too. I think I originally bought five copies of this particular book.

The Love Dare is based on the hit movie, “Fireproof.” Written by the same authors who wrote the movie, Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick created the 40-day dare to give marriages a practical way to act on the principles from the movie.

Each day consists of 1) “a unique aspect of love… [to gain] a new understanding of what it means to genuinely love someone,” 2) a “dare to do for your spouse,” and 3) space to journal the journey, what you’re learning and how your spouse is responding. “These notes will record your progress and should become priceless to you in the future.”

Wanna know how far I’ve gotten in the dare? I think I’ve taken on the dare three or four times and I don’t think I ever got past day eight or nine. [Is that a gong I hear?]

Rck. I’m not even going to analyze this, People.

just move forward

The rating I give this book? 3 starsif you actually implement it. I think. I mean, how would I know? I’m supposing it’s three stars. (We may have to revisit this one in the future.)

The takeaway: “Love sometimes needs to be extravagant. To go all out. It sometimes needs to set aside the technicalities and just bless because it wants to.” (from Day 38, Love Fulfills Dreams) My best friend since seventh grade immediately comes to mind. Amy loves like this. Extravagantly. All out. Fiercely. Devotedly. And not just her husband and children — though they definitely get the best of her. She loves the people in her life with this kind of lavish, no-holds-barred thoughtfulness and devotion.

Whether cooking, putting together an intricate salad, conversing, gift-giving, or working on a project, she exemplifies what it looks like to live life from a place of deep, abiding love. Her mother is the same way. Living over 5,000 miles from her doesn’t make a difference. She’s found ways to demonstrate love to me in ways that have only deepened the intimacy in our friendship. And although we let the time between our conversations go for a long, long time — a year sometimes! — we always pick up right where we left off.

I wonder if following through on the whole 40 days would teach me to love more like that.





More Than You & Me, TBP #27

First, that last post?


I tried. I promise. But with a reading list a few miles long, I realized it’s better to move on than to punish myself with a book that simply doesn’t resonate. Annndd… three months have passed since working on this Book Project! Whaaat?!

Folks, I have to tell you… when I looked to see which book was next on my shelf, I got giddy. One of the very best books I read at the beginning of our marriage is More Than You & Me by Kevin & Karen Miller.

This is the core of why I ever wanted to get married in the first place. It may sound altruistic (it is), but I was genuinely delighted to be single… until I could marry the man whose strengths would combine with my strengths setting the three of us — him, me, and God — on an audacious adventure to impact the world and leave a legacy. In fact, I prayed, “Let me be the happiest, most content single person… unless there’s a man who’ll strengthen the mission of living all in with Jesus.”

I remember my heart beating wildly when I heard Kevin and Karen on a radio interview. We were newlyweds, and though we didn’t have much money, I ordered the book. …And devoured it when it arrived.

What could possibly bring more joy to a marriage than one that utilizes the strengths of their marriage to serve others? Even as I write this, I’m giddy!

This is seriously what lies at the core — the vision — of why I wanted to be married, train up children, and what has led me to study the field of leadership for the last 29 years. 

The inside flap reads, “In these pages, you will both learn how to:

  • develop a life vision
  • identify your God-given talents
  • grow closer while working together
  • include your kids in your marriage mission
  • overcome limitations caused by emotional and time restraints.”

(I think I might explode with passion right about now. Nothing revs my engine like being on mission — on a grand, Kingdom-sized adventure — with the people I love most in this world.) 

In an article in Relevant Magazine, February 23, 2011, Kevin and Karen write,

“The Book of Genesis, for instance, takes us back to God’s drawing board, where we see what He designed for man and woman. Marriage was meant for companionship—”It’s not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 NASB). It was meant for raising children—”Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28 NASB). Most Christians would agree on those two goals. But Genesis assigns a third meaning to marriage: joint, fulfilling service. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and said: “Take care of this, you two. It’s a big job, and you’ll need each other. Together—till, plant, replenish, create” (see Genesis 2:15; 1:28).

We hunger for this today: cooperating together, meshing, working like a mountain climbing team, ascending the peak of our dream, and then holding each other at the end of the day. God has planted this hunger deep within every married couple. It’s more than a hunger for companionship. It’s more than a hunger to create new life. It’s a third hunger, a hunger to do something significant together. According to God’s Word, we were joined to make a difference. We were married for a mission.”

“We were married for a mission.”

Interesting that this book is next in my line-up of book reviews in this project. LeRoy and I are in the throes of creating a course to train families to live beyond themselves. To dream of possibilities when the family is on mission together. And this… taken into corporate cultures…

Yep, our family is dreaming together of possibilities. (Good thing I’m not connected to an EKG at this moment. My heart rate might cause concern. Ah, passion!! Love it!)

More Than You & Me is on Amazon starting at $0.01 cent.

**Hence the forthcoming book on leadership, relationships, and pursuing dreams. The idea of us living beyond ourselves written by yours truly. =) 




The New Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem, TBP #26

Written by Dennis & Barbara Rainey, The New Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem.

This is most likely a great book. I mean, who doesn’t want someone in their life intimately invested in noticing all the great things about them? Someone building them up? Believing the best? Verbalizing accolades?

So, I don’t know why I’ve picked up this book a handful of times and can’t seem to get past the second chapter. My motive each time for cracking it open, fully intent on reading all the way through and applying the principles? I really do want to know how I can be a more encouraging person, not just for my spouse, but in general.

The introduction begins, “This is a book on motivating people to believe in people.” That sounds good. I’m in.

But then, the title of the first chapter, “Giving Your Mate a New Image,” causes me to want to put down the book and go eat an entire chocolate cake.

To be fair, I read through to the end of Chapter 2 where I arrived at the first “Esteem Builder Project.” Let me back up a little, the project is explained at the end of the chapter with big, bold letters that read, “Your Mate Needs You.” The immediate heart palpitations and blurred vision as I read those words is probably indicative of the need for some sort of therapy or counseling in my life. Ah well, onward.

Not one to back down from a little challenge, I decided I’d pursue the suggested conversation, “Ask your mate to describe what he thinks and how he feels about himself.”

And how did that go? you may be wondering…

[Cue stare and the sound of crickets chirping in background]

277 pages. 6 days. Approximately 47 pages per day. I can do this. I’ll assign it to myself. I’ll learn something. Surely. (I’ll get back to you on this.)

No rating, yet.






Everything Men Know About Women, TBP #25

and then. Remember I said that I wouldn’t leave any books out or move them around, but go in the order that they’re on my shelf and review every single one?

Welllll…  Everything Men Know About Women by Dr. Alan Francis, America’s Foremost Psychologist, is the next one in this project.

*128 blank pages.

I’m keeping it. It’s kinda silly and, well, true. Though, I think we better get the companion book, Everything Women Know About Men.

Seriously, we think we know so much about each other. What’s the fun in that? I relish the idea of spending a lifetime getting to know my man. smile.



Etiquette To Please Him, TBP #24

Humor me? I found Etiquette To Please Him: How to Be The Perfect Wife on my grandmother’s bookshelves.

The book was written by Barbara Taylor Bradford and published in 1969. I haven’t read the book. I’m fairly certain I took the book home with me because the title captured my intrigue. Whatever I thought then, I now think, mercy!

So I looked up Barbara Taylor Bradford and found that this 82-year old woman is a renowned author of the best-selling fiction work, A Woman of Substance. On the site, it says, “She lives in New York City with her husband, television producer Robert Bradford, to whom all her novels are dedicated.” They’ve been married for 52 years. And all her novels are dedicated to him. (Her 30th novel releases in 2016.)

I have to say, I’m impressed by the woman I found on Bradford’s website. She comes across as classy, elegant, confident, strong. But what on earth? A series on how to be the perfect wife?! goodheavens! Then again, married for 52 years definitely lends credibility. All right, I’m still intrigued, I guess. When I get to New York City, I’m looking her up. To take her to lunch.

Anyway, here’s something interesting: apparently Bradford wrote this book before she became famous. When A Woman of Substance took the world by storm in 1979, it propelled Bradford to literature fame. Like owning one of those baseball cards in mint condition of a rookie who goes on to become famous, that’s the case with this book. I could only locate one copy of this book on Amazon and it’s a used copy going for $90.

No rating, as I haven’t read it.

I’m leaving it on my bookshelf. Bradford — the woman herself — has sparked my imagination.





The Book Project, #23, You Can Be the Wife of a Happy Husband

Well, huh. Another book that I can’t give a review on because I haven’t read it. And I’ll put this one in the donate pile unread.

You Can Be the Wife of a Happy Husband *By discovering the key to Marital Success was written by Darien B. Cooper and published in 1974.

I have to say, I flipped through this book real quick. I chuckled at one illustration that depicted an old IBM tape recorder with the enormous tape reels as the recording station in our minds. And then went and asked LeRoy if he’s a happy husband. He laughed. (That’s a sign of happiness, right?)

I don’t know, Folks. I wonder if there was an all-out counter-assault on the women’s libbers back in the day. I think I’ll make it a point to have coffee with some of my friends who are part of my mother’s generation. I’d like to hear their take on the culture back in the early 70’s.

No rating.

And I wouldn’t recommend this book. One time, I was enthusiastically sharing some advice that I’d heard from an acquaintance with a friend of mine who is also a mentor. She listened and then said, “Oh Sharon, be careful. She isn’t healthy.” She wasn’t being judgmental or snobby. She saw something that, in my naivete, I didn’t see. Over time, I saw that other woman’s life crumble around her. And I learned to be more discerning about whose advice I listen to. I know that the author, Cooper, means well in this book. But it raises a lot of questions and red flags for me.


The Book Project, #20, 21, & 22

I’m combining these three books by Charlie W. Shedd into one post:

Letters To Karen on keeping love in marriage (1965),

Letters To Philip on how to treat a woman (1968), and

How To Stay In Love (1981).

I haven’t read these… but I will. They’re fairly short reads, Letters to Karen has the most pages at 158. I flipped through them to see if maybe I had a bookmark in any of them — the telltale sign that I at least started it.

I found a business card in Letters to Philip that reads, “Immer klar sehen… mit dem Team fur den richtigen Durchblick,” which is the place we bought our eye wear when we lived in Spangdahlem. Then I found underlining and writing in the margins in the first part of the book. grrrr. But then… I read my husband’s notes… ohmygoodness… I won’t write them here, but I will tell you they are sweet…

Okay, so there’s this one part that my man underlined and put a star next to. Want to know what he thought was so important?

“When she offers various items for your improvement, I would train myself to make the first word of reply, ‘Thank you!’ Then when you are sure you won’t argue, sure you won’t pout, sure you won’t retaliate, you can add ‘I didn’t know I was doing that. You and I make a great team!'”

Smile. Ya, it sounds corny. But one of the things I love that LeRoy does, is that he tells me he appreciates that we both want to grow. Even if sometimes that means hearing a hard truth. Know what else? (And I believe other women think this about their husbands, too…) Humility is sexy on my man.

Anyway, I’m tabbing these unread and putting them back on my shelf.

No rating yet.


The Book Project, #18, Never Stop Holding Hands

A sweet, simple coffee table book, book number 18 is Never Stop Holding Hands: and other marriage survival tips by Shara Grylls (wife of renowned adventurer Bear Grylls)

126 pages. No more than about 60 words on any given page. Pictures.

Thoughts like, “The best marriage is perhaps the one where, under the love of God, each lays his or her life down for the other.”

And quotes, “If music be the food of love, play on,” by William Shakespeare.

Sage advice offered, “Always retain the ability to laugh at yourself.”

And, “Enjoy lots of sex.”

Takeaway: “Don’t wear anything in bed,” “Never sleep on a grievance,” and “Every day look for some small way to improve your marriage.”

3 stars. Not sure I’d recommend it unless you like nick-knacks (which I do not). I’ll probably put it in the donate pile.