Book Review: Falling Free by Shannan Martin

 

Shannan Martin had the perfect life: a cute farmhouse on six rambling acres, a loving husband, three adorable kids, money, friends, a close-knit church—a safe, happy existence.

But when the bottom dropped out through a series of shocking changes and ordinary inconveniences, the Martins followed God’s call to something radically different: a small house on the other side of the urban tracks, a shoestring income, a challenged public school, and the harshness of a county jail (where her husband is now chaplain). And yet the family’s plunge from “safety” was the best thing that could have happened to them.

Falling Free charts their pilgrimage from the self-focused wisdom of the world to the topsy-turvy life of God’s more being found in less. Martin’s practical, sweetly subversive book invites us to rethink assumptions about faith and the good life, push past insecurity and fear, and look beyond comfortable, middle-class Christianity toward a deeper, richer, and ultimately more fulfilling life.

I was really excited to read Falling Free by Shannan Martin. I started reading it during a time when I was struggling. A time where I felt broken. It sounded like an inspirational story about how a woman found peace after losing her perfect life. I tried really hard to enjoy the book, the message and the story, but I couldn’t get past page 70. There was just too much repetition for me.

Every other sentence in the book seemed to be “God this, God that…” etc. I knew that this was going to be a religious book, which is one of the reasons I wanted to read it, but there just wasn’t enough content to keep me engaged. I wish I could have sucked it up and kept reading because like I said, I was really interested in the story and looking for the inspiration. It just wasn’t enough for me. Can’t win them all.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

Book Review: 365 Devotions for Finding Rest by Christina Vinson

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Rest. Isn’t it a magical word? As a mom, it is something I think about all day, every day. We all need rest but resting is something easier said than done.  365 Devotions for Finding Rest by Christina Vinson is the perfect morning (or before bed) daily devotions book. Each day of the year is filled with ways to remind yourself that not only do you need rest, but you deserve it. Each page takes less than five minutes to read but the impact lasts all day.

The past two weeks have been absolutely exhausting. I have been sick, my son has been sick, and now my husband is sick. What we all needed to get better was rest. As parents, we were barely able to find rest, yet we made our mission to get our son to sleep better at night and nap better during the day. If only I had given myself the same type of medicine, rest, I probably would have bounced back quicker.

By reading  365 Devotions for Finding Rest by Christina Vinson every night before bed, I was able to calm myself down and remind myself that I needed to sleep well, just as much as my son did. As I continue reading this devotions book every day, I find myself thinking about God’s scripture when I am completely out of energy. I remind myself that God wants me to stop, breath, and recharge. This book has helped me get better. This book has helped me remember that God is with us, even when we are struggling to find time for ourselves.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

—Matthew 11:28

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Love Unending by Becky Thompson

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I am a huge fan of Becky Thompson. Her blog and her first book, Hope Unfolding, speak to me like nothing else I have ever read. When I found out she was writing another book, I knew I had to read it.

Love Unending is a lot different than Hope Unfolding. Hope Unfolding is about the difficulties (and joys) of being a mother. Love Unending is about learning how to like you husband again, after having children. You’re probably thinking, “What do you mean like your husband again?” But if you have had a child, you would know that even though you still LOVE you husband, liking him is sometimes easier said than done.(And trust me, I’m sure our husbands feel the same exact way about  us!)

Becky Thompson’s book is a 21 day challenge that encourages us to fall in love with our husbands all over again. Think about the first time you met you husband. How did you feel? Think about the first time you said, “I love you.” Think about the excitement you had every time you saw him after a long day, or in my case, a long week, since we only saw each other on weekends. Becky Thompson guides the reader through a journey to improve their marriage after taking care of little people all day long.

Taking care of a child is exhausting. Taking care of more than one child? Probably 3x more exhausting. If you stay at home, like I do, you count the minutes until you husband comes home. It may not be because you want to see him, kiss him, or hear his voice, it is probably because you want to hand child raising duties off to him so you can cook dinner, and pee in private.

Throughout your 21 day journey, Becky Thompson will guide you through 21 daily challenges and journaling. Some tasks will be as simple (or as hard) as greeting your husband as soon as he comes in the door, instead of bombarding him with immediate tasks or not acknowledging his arrival at all. Another task will encourage you to thank your husband for things that you may take for granted. Each daily task also includes a daily prayer to help you stay focused and committed to your faith.

Don’t get me wrong, this book is not one of those books that encourage you to “serve your husband because he is always right.” It is not even close to that. It is woman centered, and makes you nod your head and want to say, “Yes, yup, that happens, I could fix that, he could fix that.” Being married is about being a team.

I had an interesting experience reading this book. I like to think that my husband are in love (and in like) still, after almost 6 years of marriage (8 years of dating.) I told him I was reading the book for review so that he wouldn’t see it and think, “What is going on?” He kind of thought it was silly, but asked about it for the first two weeks or so. I told him some of the tasks, and kept some of the other ones private (he could have read the book, too, if he wanted to.)

As my journey through the book played out, I did notice our marriage getting even better than it was before. We weren’t struggling, by any means, but let’s be honest, no one’s marriage is perfect. I told him that I wanted a kiss every night when he came home, and even though we now joke about it every night, and laugh, we do it, even if our son is running a muck during witching hour. I realize that I do obsessively read, and I try to put my books down when he is talking and really listen instead of just half listening. Really listening to someone is a game changer, making eye contact is important, and although we are not big cell phone people, I have tried to put mine down after he comes out from putting our son to bed so we can talk about our day, child free.

We have tried to make cuddling a priority, even if it is just during a TV show, or while we are both reading (it helps that is is winter and he is a furnace of heat.) It’s funny because when we were dating, we would always say how we would NEVER sit on opposites sides of a couch. I truly do feel like we started to appreciate our marriage more during the past 21 days. Many of the days and challenges were things we already did. Jim buys me surprises like flowers, several times a year to show me he cares. I also leave him things to let him know I care. But I found some new ways to show my love and it really did make me think about the beginning. Love Unending made me want to focus on us even more than we already do.

I suggest all moms (and dads even) read Love Unending to make your marriage better. Even if you are not suffering a rut (which we weren’t) you could still benefit from this challenge. I must admit, I did not journal throughout the journey, but if that if you thing, or if you marriage truly is on the rocks, journaling may be the right choice for you. Your marriage should be your priority. Even though little ones need so much attention, if your marriage is suffering (or not thriving as it should) your parenting will start to suffer. To teach your children to love, you need to be able to show them how to love.

Someone should send Becky Thompson on a child-free vacation with her husband, she deserves it. As for me and myhusband, we make child-free vacations a priority; once a year is a must. couple of weeks. Every marriage could thrive from a few days away without kids.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.