The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner

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I’m interrupting my blogging hiatus to bring you a new book review . . .

When Jonathan and I were engaged, his parents loaned us their copy of the Love & Respect conference on CD and we listened to it on our forever-long road trip between Indiana and Minnesota. The concept, in it’s simplest terms, is that women need to feel loved and men need to feel respected. The truth resounded with us so much that we decided to incorporate it into our traditional wedding vows, each of us adding a line at the beginning . . .

“I promise to treat you lovingly as we serve God together . . . I promise to treat you with respect as we serve God together.”

Though I probably don’t think about it as often as I should, I’ve been amazed at the difference respecting my husband makes in our relationship. So when I had the opportunity to review The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner, I thought it would be a good refresher. The subtitle, 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband sounded great, like the women’s answer to The Love Dare.

For the most part, it was. Though I wasn’t able to read through and complete the dares one day at a time, I read through each dare, considering how I might answer the questions and how the challenges could make a difference in my marriage. I found a wealth of wisdom about being a good listener, making my husband’s interests my own, and stating the facts rather than speaking out of emotion. A few of the dares also challenged me to deepen my relationship with the Lord by making time for Him and trusting Him with life’s details.

Some of the dares, though, just seemed out of place—several were more focused on the wife described in Proverbs 31. While that’s also good information, it’s not what I was expecting. And many of the illustrations didn’t line up either. For example, Dare 19—Seventeen Frying Pans—was more about running an orderly home than it was about respect. While you could draw a connection between the two, Roesner failed to do so. Despite the subtitle, the book seemed torn between two purposes: highlighting the successes of her Daughters of Sarah program (which I’m sure is wonderful) and actually helping women to respect God and their husbands like the cover suggests.

That said, I still felt the content of this book was solid, and I’d recommend it for women who are ready to change their marriages by changing their attitudes. The dares are great for women in all stages of marriage—newlyweds and those who have been married for decades. And though I found it helpful to read on my own, I think it would be even better as a small group study. Reading through the book with other women would provide a safe place for discussion, wisdom-sharing, and accountability.

**I received a free electronic copy of this book from booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

When Lydia Pallas, a translator for the US Navy, meets Alexander Banebridge, her neat, orderly life gets disrupted in ways she never expected. Before meeting “Bane,” Lydia is wrapped up in making money so she can purchase and stay in her home. After meeting him, she gets caught up in fighting for a cause and consequently, for her life.

When I started Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but before I knew it, I got sucked into the story. The characters are realistic, full of the little quirks that make you love them. Camden does a great job of revealing their personalities and helping you understand the whys behind their words and actions.

The plot of Against the Tide was surprisingly similar to Unending Devotion, the Jody Hedlund book I reviewed last week. Though I enjoyed them both, I felt this one had a more satisfying ending, perhaps because there was more at stake for Lydia and Bane. That said, I’d recommend either book if you’re looking for a page-turner.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

https://i2.wp.com/assets.bakerpublishinggroup.com/processed/books/covers/listing/9780764208348.jpgLily Young arrives in Harrison, Michigan, in 1883, determined to find her sister no matter the cost. But on her first night in town, she bumps into Connell McCormick, the son of a local lumber baron, and her life takes a turn she never expected.

Unending Devotion was my second Jody Hedlund book, and it was even better than the first. (You can read my review of The Doctor’s Lady here.) Now that I’ve read two of her books, I can easily say that the greatest part of her stories are the characters. They’re so complex. So relatable. So human. So often, Christian fiction is full of characters that don’t seem quite right. They’re not realistic and you can’t quite figure out what makes them tick. But Hedlund creates believable characters. She’s honest about their flaws. And they become better versions of themselves by the end of her stories.

That said, you’ll fall in love with Lily, Connell, and the other characters in Unending Devotion. As a Michigander (at heart, if not by location), it made me sad to read about the history of my state as it relates to the lumber industry, but it made a great backdrop for Lily’s story and stubborn perseverance and passion to do what’s right.

I highly recommend this book. It’s one of the best historical Christian novels I’ve read this year. Hedlund is now right up there next to Julie Klassen on my list of must-read authors. (It doesn’t hurt her case that she’s a fellow Michigander who graduated from my alma mater . . . kinda.)

If you’re into writing fiction, she has a great blog full of tips and ideas.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You by David Murrow

David Murrow, who also wrote the bestselling book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, wrote What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You to help women understand what makes our men tick. He even spends some time explaining why they often won’t tell us themselves.

For the most part, I found the content of this book helpful. Murrow covers every aspect of men’s lives, at least briefly—the book is divided into sections about body, soul, and spirit. I gained new insight into my husband’s heart and now have a better understanding of why certain things are important to him—and why other things aren’t.

Some sections seemed a little over the top, so I asked my husband if he’d be willing to listen to what Murrow said and give me feedback. I could tell it made him a bit uncomfortable, but he complied, and we actually had some really good conversations.

One of the sections was about men holding the roles of “provider” and “protector.” Murrow spent several chapters explaining why men have taken on these roles and illustrating how they can play out in day-to-day life. My husband thought some of the information in this section was a little extreme, and we both agreed that some of it was probably over-simplified for the sake of making a point.

The other section I struggled with was on the topic of men being visual. No wife wants to hear that her man notices other women, so I was a little resistant at first. And some of his examples! In one story, he talked about following an attractive woman around the grocery store. Because I couldn’t imagine my own husband doing such a thing, I talked to him about it. We came to the conclusion that many of the ideas Murrow presented in the chapter were accurate, but the grocery store example was an extreme case. It may be true for some men, but not necessarily all.

If you want to have a better understanding of your husband, I recommend this book. Just keep in mind that Murrow over-simplifies and provides some extreme examples—most likely in order to help women recognize their own husbands within a broader spectrum.

And if your husband would be willing to talk about some of the things discussed, I recommend having those conversations, even if they’re uncomfortable. The conversations I had with my husband were, by far, my most valuable takeaway.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up by Dr. Michael D. Sedler

Recently I’ve found myself in quite a few situations where I didn’t know if I should speak my mind or shut my mouth, so when I was given the opportunity to read When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up by Dr. Micahel D. Sedler, I jumped on it.

Though it’s not a new book—it’s been repackaged and reprinted, and the cover boasts that over 200,000 copies have been sold—the advice Sedler gives is timeless. Using biblical, historical, and personal examples, he makes suggestions for a variety of scenarios, everything from keeping quiet when a friend makes a poor decision to respectfully letting your boss know you have concerns about the way he’s conducting business.

Some of Sedler’s stories and examples seemed a bit off-topic, but I finished the book knowing I had just received sound biblical guidance for future conversations. And I’m confident that, the next time I’m not sure what to say (or not say) in a given situation, I can pull When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up off my shelf and make a sound decision. I may have to spend some time studying up though, because I won’t always have the luxury of time to refer back to the book, and there are quite a few different lists of dos and don’ts.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who . . . well, just anyone, really. It’s great for employees and employers, for parents and children, for pastors and church members, for husbands and wives, for friends. If you need guidance for communicating concerns or staying silent, or even if you need help coping with anger and resentment that comes as a result of hard conversations, read it.

I liked this book enough that I’d do a giveaway for my copy, but alas, it got drenched and is now ruined. At least I got to finish it : )

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.

So Many Books, So Little Time

Do you ever feel like there are too many books and not enough time? I think about it on a regular basis. Sometimes I think reading 40 hours a week for the rest of my life wouldn’t be enough to read everything I want to read. In July, I realized I read about one book a month—if I’m lucky. That’s only twelve books a year! So I resolved to read more.

And I have (eight books in ten weeks!). They were all great reads, so I thought I’d share the book love—here are mini-reviews of the books I read for fun (if you want to read full reviews of the other two I read, click here and here) . . .

Letters from Yellowstone by Diane Smith
What made this book most enjoyable was reading about all the things I was seeing at the park while we were there, but it’s also a great story. Alex Bertram, a young woman with a passion for botany travels to Yellowstone in 1898 to classify plants found in the park. The only woman in an all-male party, she faces the disapproval and scrutiny of the men in her party and her own family and friends.

Journey to Riverbend by Henry McLaughlin
Written by a man, this historical western romance was a nice break from the endless supply of historical Christian romance written by women. The male perspective gave the story an interesting twist and brought in details a female author may not include. Though it was a little more gruesome than I’m used to, I enjoyed the change.

Wrecked by Jeff Goins
After following Goins’ blog for several months, I knew I would enjoy this book. (Confession: I have over 300 books on my Kindle and this is the only one I’ve ever paid for. It was worth every penny.) After all God had been teaching me, I knew I needed to read it. Wrecked challenged me to see beyond comfort and challenge myself to live a life that matters—one that pulls me out of my own little world, stretches me, and demands sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Saving Sailor by Renee Riva
This was a fun story told from the perspective of a pet-loving little girl growing up in the sixties. Though there are lessons to be learned from her story about fidelity and faith, the plot was secondary to the enjoyment I got from rediscovering what it’s like to be a little kid again.

Heiress by Susan May Warren
Oh my word did I enjoy this book! I finished it over the weekend and the story has stuck with me. I loved that this book had Christian values, but the characters were far from perfect. I feel in love with the flawed characters and several heart-wrenching plot twists kept my eyes glued to the page. It follows two sisters who grew up in New York City as they come of age and wrestle with following their heart and doing what’s expected.

You are a Writer by Jeff Goins
This was a quick read full of helpful advice and encouragement for writers. Though I didn’t enjoy it as much as Wrecked, it reminded me why I love Goins’ writing. He’s one of those authors who writes because he loves it, not just because he has something to say, meaning the quality of the writing is fantastic.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day by Garry R. Morgan

Understanding World ReligionsI’ve always had an interest in learning about religions. I’m a Christian, but I think it’s important to understand other religions because it helps you understand other people. My beliefs are a core part of who I am, and I imagine people of other religions feel the same way.

So I was excited to review this book. I’ve also read So What’s the Difference? by Fritz Ridenour and I took a world religions class in high school. Despite my interest and previous experience with the topic, this book still taught me things I didn’t know.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes was a great read. Morgan gave an overview of religion in general and covered each of the following religions:

  • Roman Catholic Christianity
  • Eastern Orthodox Christianity
  • Protestant Christianity
  • Evangelical Christianity
  • Animism and Folk Religions
  • Native American Religions
  • African Traditional Religions
  • Judaism
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Islam
  • The Nation of Islam
  • Baha’i
  • Hinduism
  • Jainism
  • Sikhism
  • Buddhism
  • Confucianism
  • Taoism
  • Shinto
  • Secular Humanism
  • Cults, “Isms,” and Contemporary Religious Movements
  • The Unitarian-Universalist Association
  • The Unity School of Christianity
  • The Unification Church
  • Christian Science
  • Scientology
  • Mormonism
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Neopagan Religions
  • New Age Religions
  • Transcendental Meditation

Each chapter is only about three pages long, making it easy to read when you only have a few minutes. And even though the author is a Christian, his explanations of other religions were mostly unbiased, making this a great resource for anyone, Christian or not. (I do recognize that, as a Christian myself, I may have missed biases others would have caught, but I did try to read with that in mind.)

I learned TONS from this book and recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about world religions, even the smaller ones like Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. It’s a great book to read through and keep on hand for reference.

Bethany House also has books on understanding the Bible and theology that break topics down into fifteen-minute segments. I’m looking forward to reading those as well.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.