Hopeless Marriage: A Book Review

At some point in our lives, “Hopeless Marriage” may as well be splashed across an arrow-shaped neon sign pointing right over each of our homes.

It happens to just about every marriage because marriage. is. hard.

Judy Bodmer and I have a lot in common, strangely enough. We’re both recovering Registered Dietitians-to-be. We’re both passionate about helping other couples stay married because we’ve both struggled in our marriages with emotional affairs (first time I’ve ever written that out loud!). The difference is that Judy has actually written the book to do it! And it’s a good one. I’d love to share it with you.

When Love DIes

When Love Dies: How to Save a Hopeless Marriage methodically explores all of the reasons why we think we should leave our spouse and speaks truth into those feelings. These feelings are so universally experienced that I believe there is not a wife out there who would not benefit from reading through her journey. Judy’s honest sharing of her experience falling out of love with her husband, but choosing to stay offers a roadmap of hope for every woman wrestling over the divorce question in her mind.

Each chapter sets up the struggle (for example, I can’t forgive or forget; I had so many dreams; We can’t talk, etc.), succinctly defines the problem, offers experiences and potential solutions, and finally ends with a challenge. (We can’t talk ends with the challenge- Take your weakest communication point (listening, interrupting, letting your motor run, etc.) and work on improving it this week.) Each challenge offers the reader the opportunity to take responsibility for their marriage and a sense of possibility for real change.

I don’t want to pretend, naively, that there are no reasons for divorce. However, in the absence of abuse and infidelity, Bodmer offers so many reasons for holding on to the committment that you’ve made and rediscovering the best friend that you married. (If anyone wants to borrow my copy, let me know- I’ll even ship it to you!)

Photo credit: Photography by Jewels, 2006

Photo credit: Photography by Jewels, 2006

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Apologetically Christian: A Blue Like Jazz Book Review

Blue Like Jazz is a must read for anyone who hates Christians.

Blue Like Jazz is the book that I wish I had written.

Blue Like Jazz is one of those moments in my life when so many thoughts and feelings finally converge into clarity and truth, bringing liberation and life.

Donald Miller somehow combines raw, real feeling and spiritual questioning into a masterpiece where Christians apologize to the “heathen” and Jesus’ true teachings are fully illuminated. Shelves could be filled with the books, seminars, messages from the pulpit, and writings defending Christianity, intellectually debating the legitimacy of scripture, and unapologetically proclaiming God.

Blue Like Jazz brings a brisk slap-in-the-face reality check, that perhaps Christians do need to do a little apologizing. Perhaps, laying down our defenses and loving unconditionally (no, really, unconditionally; not pretend “churchy” unconditionally) is just what this world needs to see the real Jesus. The real Jesus who was named a friend of tax collectors (the hated) and sinners (the despised). Blue Like Jazz challenged me to forgive myself for the times that I have failed to love, and to start now to love- unconditionally and apologetically.

Blue Like Jazz tells the story of so many of the kids who grew up in the church and had to leave when they found out that the “world” wasn’t full of demon-worshippers and hateful people. The kids who were confused at why the people outside the church were kinder than those who were in it. The kids who always felt like they were the red-headed-step-child, but found a place of belonging with the hippies in the woods (you’ll have to read it to understand that part 😉 ). The kids who desperately wanted to believe in Jesus, but got blinded along the way by His followers.  The kids who loved God, but didn’t want to be Republicans. Have you been there? Read this book.

Blue Like Jazz is the story of a kid like me. I wish I had written Blue Like Jazz.

Finally, Don brings into focus so many questions and lays out beautifully the clarity that can be experienced in the midst of the questions. There’s no guilt that having faith means having doubts. There’s no lie, no wall built as if Christians have all of the answers.  There’s just faith and a belief that following Jesus means life, because Jesus frees us from ourselves.  His teachings illuminate the greatest lie and free us from it.  The greatest lie is that life is a story about me. That my needs, wants, and desires, when fulfilled, will bring me the greatest happiness.  The truth is found in the teaching of Jesus that whoever loses his life will find it. Serving others is the highest calling. Loving others is the most powerful tool.

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I wish I could do Blue Like Jazz justice in a short book review. I can’t. You just have to read it.  If you’ve read it once already- read it again. I know I will. The pages are underlined and dog-eared, but now I need to find my highlighter. It’s just that good.

 

Al-Anonfiction

Hi.

My name is Denise,

and I’m a non-fiction addict.

[Ok, so I know that Al-Anon is for the families of addicts and not the addicts themselves, but it made for a better title. Bear with me. I have a confession.]

I don’t read fiction.

Isn’t that weird?

With the exception of a few of the classics and the Little House series, I find it hard to devote much time to reading fiction. I think it started somewhere around community college with my first copy (yes, I said first copy) of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

That is why you will find that my book reviews are primarily of the non-fiction variety.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Phew.

However, I AM interested in any recommendations for great reads- either fiction OR nonfiction. I’m looking forward to reading more as I stay home during this chapter of my life.

So, how about it? What good books have you read lately?

It started young- Thomas Edison's biography!

It started young- Thomas Edison’s biography!

Never Eat Alone (As if Moms Have a Choice): A Book Review

Moms-We’re lucky if we eat warm food, let alone eat alone. Here’s why that may be a good thing!

Since I’m home with an infant the majority of my time these days, I find a certain amount of comfort in reading books written by adults. I do love me some good Dr. Seuss and have already started reading it to my girl.  However, when I’m wandering around the pages of a good, made-for-adults book, it’s like I’m getting more adult conversation than I actually am.

A recent “conversation” I had was with Mr. Keith Ferrazzi  through “Never Eat Alone: and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time.”

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I would not hesitate to label this book the Bible of networking skills. It is clear that Mr. Ferrazzi has a passion and talent for networking. This is obviously relevant to someone’s career, but for moms provides a dual benefit to both the workplace and the home. The following are just a few of the many tips that I walked away with from this read.

Put People First– Do you ever feel torn between housework, work, your kids, your friendships, and a zillion other to-dos on your to-do list? Ferrazzi urges everyone to implement an important lesson. The sooner this lesson is learned, the more colleagues you will add to your network:

Deadlines second, people first.

Additionally, Ferrazzi reminds us of a simple lesson that your mom would be proud if you followed- respect everyone, not just the bigwigs. He highlights the importance in the business world of respecting the ‘gatekeeper’ or administrative/executive assistants for people who have those. For moms this may translate respecting other moms or people who may be down a rung or two on the social ladder.

Don’t Be Afraid to Have an Opinion– Ferrazzi dubs this section as “Be Interesting.” Often (especially in Minnesota!), we sugarcoat our opinion or don’t speak out loud about our accomplishments.  As long as these conversational tinders are couched in respect and humility, they are the neccessary fuel to keep the relational flame burning.  If you do not have anything interesting to say, the small talk will end at “what do you do?” and “here is my card.”  Another great question to ask yourself, would you want to invite yourself to a lunch date? I found that this is especially true for young professionals. Once you can get past the initial self-talk that tells you that you do not have as much experience of others in the room and believe that your opinion matters,  you find that your voice (as a young person and/or as a woman) brings new insights to the conversation that will not be there if you do not share. Check out this article for more on women and the need to speak up- In Business, Act Like a Gentleman, Behave Like a Lady)

Practical Tips– Some of the advice is just practical information that is great to know. For instance, Thursdays are a great night for dinner parties. Remember birthdays. Call people. Email people. Write people. Ferrazzi calls this “pinging.” Present yourself well and always, always remember names (so. hard. to. do!).

Conference Fishing– I’ve seen it work and it definitely has power. Being involved at large events whether that is the P.T.A., a conference, or even a kid’s birthday party, offers moms and professionals the opportunity to meet new people. The process is simple- know who’s coming, identify the people you’d like to meet and/or bump into, be sincere in your conversation, and secure their intention to meet again, preferrably in person. The last and most important step to conference fishing is to follow-up. Immediately. Don’t wait a day or two. Send a follow-up note, email, or card immediately. One conference caution that I appreciated the most is don’t act like you’re actually there for the agenda; be there for the people.

Although I highly recommend Never Eat Alone as a primer for those looking to make the most of relationships and stay connected despite a busy schedule, one point in which I disagreed with Mr. Ferrazzi was a chapter about work-life balance. He states that balance is not something that one should strive to find because as he treats his business relationships with the amount of sincerity as his family relationships he could “spend my birthday at a business conference and be surrounded with warmth and wonderful friends or I could be at home with equally close friends to celebrate (pg. 287).”  While I appreciate what he is trying to say and the level to which he is trying to bring his professional relationships, I wonder if (hypothetically) a significant other and/or children would feel happy about him being gone on special days. On the flip side, a point I particularly enjoyed in the same chapter was the idea that we all need more “refigerator rights relationships”- friends who can walk into your home and feel comfortable digging through the fridge. In our ever digitally-connected-age, it is easy to lose the art of personal and close relationships IRL (In Real Life).

Mr. Ferrazzi eloquently instructs the reader on the art of networking in Never Eat Alone- do you have any relationship building tips that you have found to be important in your life- whether with other moms, your spouse, or your kids?