Tag Archives: The 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.


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.



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.

The Book Project, #17, The Case for Marriage


Taking an intentional inventory of what I have on my bookshelf in regards to marriage books… is a bit boring. And that little epiphany is rather profound. Because, really, reading about marriage isn’t comparable to actually living the marriage.

In the beginning of our marriage, I read everything I could get my hands on about how to be the bestest, most loving, super supportive wife. Ever. I threw myself into this wife role with all the devotion and gusto I could muster. And you know what? About 20 months into it, I sat there sobbing, telling this man who I was so devoted to, that I was leaving him. I wanted out. Not really out of the marriage. Just out of the rut we were stuck in. And I didn’t know if he’d join me, so verbalizing it sounded like I wanted out of the marriage.

But I know people who have fought or are fighting for their marriage. They don’t want out. They just want out of the stinky rut they’re in. And all these marriage books… I think they mean well, but the bottom line is that our marriage personalities are all unique and there’s not a one-size-fits-all manuscript for marriage.

Which makes me realize that the way to make this project better is to give you my takeaway from the books I’ve read.


Book #17 is The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher.

The subtitle is bold. Yes? Saying vows on the wedding day seals the fate for happiness, health, and financial success? That seems so black and white. So, I perused the book this afternoon in hopes of gleaning enough from it to give it a fair rating.

1 star.

It’s appropriately titled in that the authors stick to making their case for marriage throughout the book. And it seems they do a great job of defending their position. I’m not sure what demographic would be interested in reading this book… perhaps those who are doing research or are investigating the soundness of marriage?

There’s two pages in the back of the book in the Resources section that I’m going to copy for future reference. You all know that we’re uber passionate about marriage… but what if cohabitation and divorce are so rampant because we’ve settled for a piece of paper, a ceremony and the expectation that we’ll be happy, healthy, and “better off financially”?

Of course health and wealth are useful, (that’s why I named this website 365 days to health and wealth), but perhaps those are shallow pursuits if kept only for the happiness of the beholder?

Takeaway: The reason that married people are happier, healthier, and better off financially is because, unlike their counterparts who “can leave whenever they want with no strings attached” they are committed to the relationship. Because they have so much at stake, they work harder to be happy, stay healthy, and be a team.

“…happier, healthier, and better off financially.”  LeRoy brought it home from a work conference he attended. The print is small. Really small. I’m glad I took the time to peruse it but seeing as I don’t need to be convinced of the validity of marriage and I don’t see myself referencing it to make a case with anyone, it’s going on the donate pile.

Pressing on… (I’m about a third of the way through the marriage books.)


Book Project, #16, Defending Traditional Marriage

Here we are. Sit with me? Ugh. Can I tell you, I don’t like talking politics or religion? I really don’t. It’s because I love you and I care deeply for you and I’d like to keep the majors in the majors and the minors in the minors. And loving you? Well, that’s major for me.

But remember when I promised back on Day 1 of this project that I wouldn’t skip over any books on my shelf, that I’d touch every single one and “give an account”… no matter how much it scares me?

So, I’ll be honest, the topic of same-sex attraction scares me. I apologize on behalf of anyone who has ever used “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Because it’s not only ridiculous rhetoric but it’s hurtful. And the plethora of layers to this whole topic of who we love and who we’re attracted to…

And who am I to judge another? And I look at my habits of gluttony and slothfulness and disbelief, and I’m daily grateful beyond belief that I don’t have a monitor on my forehead that reveals my thoughts. Because sometimes my thoughts are lustful or full of worst case scenarios or insincerity. Sometimes my motives are all wrong and at times I plummet into self-pity.

This natural bent we have toward chasing after our own comforts and pleasures… And, God knows, we’re determined to figure it all out on our own and defend our list of rights. And all these longings and disappointments and the constant digging of our own cisterns… we weren’t made for this.

And it really undoes me when I read that we’re made for paradise and perfection and an all-satisfying relationship with Jesus. And this is where we step into the tension because we’re living between heaven and this temporary sphere that wears us down, pulls incessantly at us, telling us that we’re not enough. We’re not enough. So we take all our preferences and self-protective tendencies and we gravitate toward that which satisfies temporarily in lieu of seeking Living Water.

I haven’t read Defending Traditional Marriage: It Starts with You by Willard F. Harley, Jr., although I will. I want to be able to love deeply on both sides. To listen.

Listen. And love.



The Book Project, #15, Dates on a Dime & Coffee Dates for Couples

I’m lumping these two little nightstand books together, Folks. Number 15 in this project is Dates on a Dime and Coffee Dates for Couples published by FamilyLife. I bought them when LeRoy and I went to the Marriage and Family Life Conference at the Coeur d’Alene Hotel and Resort in Idaho. Sweet memories.

In Coffee Dates, they ask great questions that get the two of you talking about more than how the day went at work and who’s running the carpool tomorrow. The questions prompt the two of you to dream together. Ah, yes please.

I’m putting these where we can refer to them often. It’s time.

3 stars. Yes, I’d recommend them.

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