Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife (a handbook for husbands)

Author: Doug Flanders, MD
Genre: Marriage, Interpersonal Relations
Publisher: Prescott Publishing, 2015

First Lines (from the Introduction):

Love God. Love others.

When Jesus was asked to name the most important commandment, this was His reply in a nutshell.

Goodreads Description:

Your wife is a reflection of your love for her.

- Do you wish she were more joyful and affectionate?
- Do you want her to show appreciation for all you do?
- Do you hunger for her admiration and respect?
- Are you wishing you could have more fun together?
- Would you like for your wife to stop nagging?

Then treat her the way you’d like to be treated.

My Review:

I was interested in reading this book since it’s written by a man and I wanted to see if he would get it right. He does – entirely! With more than 25 years of marriage under his belt, Flanders offers a lot of insight to the man who truly wants to show love to his wife. Addressing the physical, the spiritual and the mental, each chapter presents not only valuable information, but also a practical action plan for implementation. This is helpful for men who, as a gender, tend to be solutions-oriented fixers.

A few chapter titles give you an idea of what to expect: Don’t Leave the Seat Up; Give Her Time to Herself; Cherish Her Children; Actively Seek Your Wife’s Insights. Most sections include scripture references from the Bible, and all include relevant quotes from other sources.

Examples of content:

“When we fail in the area of long-term patience, it is often due to a lack of vision. We fail to see what the other person could become; we see them only as they are now.” (p. 100)

“Condescension crushes fellowship. It erodes trust and creates unnecessary obstacles that must later be hurdled if unity is to be restored.” (p. 139)

“When grudges are held, the relationship suffers or is non-existent. Forgiveness allows healing to begin.” (p. 149)

I was curious to see if Flanders would mention extended family and was gratified when he did. “You didn’t just marry her; you married her family. In some families this is an easy and pleasant task, in others it is not. Do your best. If it is hard on you, it is even harder on her, because she is the one with the relationships to maintain. As with her children, kindness to her extended family translates into kindness to her.” (pp. 120-121)

My Rating: 5 stars. Highly recommended for those who would like to improve and grow their marriages. There are lots of great ‘date your wife’ suggestions here as well.

Jennifer Flanders has written a companion volume, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband and I’m going to get it. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

Doug maintains a blog at; Jennifer’s is and you can also connect with the couple online at

Note: I received this book for free from the publisher through the Book Crash review program in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Review: Unspeakable

PictureAuthor: Caroline Pignat
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Canada, 2014

First Lines:
 "This way," the sailor coaxed us from where we huddled against the cold, hundreds of us on the deck of the small steamer. Dazed, we stumbled down the gangway into the early morning light.
This isn't real. It's a nightmare. It has to be.
But try as I might, I couldn't wake. I couldn't forget. And I couldn't stop shaking.
Goodreads Description:

On her first voyage as a stewardess aboard the Empress of Ireland, Ellie is drawn to the solitary fire stoker who stands by the ship’s rail late at night, often writing in a journal.

Jim. Ellie finds it hard to think of his name now. After their wonderful time in Quebec City, that awful night happened. The screams, the bodies, the frigid waters … she tries hard to tell herself that he survived, but it’s hard to believe when so many didn’t. So when Wyatt Steele, journalist at The New York Times asks her for her story, Ellie refuses. But when he shows her Jim’s journal, she jumps at the chance to be able to read it herself, to find some trace of the man she had fallen in love with, or perhaps a clue to what happened to him. There’s only one catch: she will have to tell her story to Steele and he’ll “pay” her by giving her the journal, one page at a time.

My Review:

I enjoyed Caroline Pignat's Greener Grass series (about the Irish Potato Famine), so very much looked forward to reading this book, which is about the sinking of the Empress of Ireland. The event occurred just two years after Titanic, but resulted in an even larger loss of life, so why is it that we don't know more about it?

Pignat creates believable characters and tells a story well. Being a teen novel possibly written primarily for girls, there's a romance angle that's fairly predictable. I personally didn't find Jim's journal entries credible - they didn't 'sound' like a young man's writings - but perhaps I don't know enough young men who pen diary entries.

The historical aspects were well researched and accurate.

My Rating: 4 stars (or 3.75). I liked it and can easily recommend it to teen girls looking for historical or romance fiction.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ten on Tuesday: When Someone Passes

Today's post is a bit more serious than some of the other Ten on Tuesday subjects. We've been asked to share ten things we can do to help a friend or family member when someone they love has passed away. I know a couple of people who've recently lost someone, so this really hits home. My son's teenage friend lost her mom after a courageous battle with cancer just before school resumed; just this week my friend's son passed away suddenly at 43. What can you do at such a time as this?

1. Don't just offer to help; do something. The bereaved are often in shock and feeling overwhelmed. Take a meal, sit with them, offer to clean their home (I don't think you want to do this last item without asking).

2. Lend a listening ear. They undoubtedly want to talk about their loved one and the grief they are experiencing.

3. Don't try to 'fix' their situation. It's not fixable.

4. As tempting as it is, don't offer clich├ęs. 'He's in a better place,' 'she's no longer in any pain,' may be true, but in many ways offer no comfort right now. A simple and heartfelt 'I'm so sorry for your loss' is much better.

5. Send flowers or make a donation to the charity of choice as indicated in the obituary. I usually make a donation one dollar for every year of the person's life.

6. If you have any, share your stories of the deceased, including those that evoke laughter. Laughter is always a good medicine. Also those that show the character of the person who's passed on.

7. Send a card. There's no need to say anything extra; let the card speak for you. But if this is someone who lives at a distance and you won't be able to be there for in person, feel free to include a note or letter that shares a story or two as outlined in point six.

8. Attend the visitation if you can. My husband and I really dislike visitations. They put the bereaved in a bad spot - they're forced to hold a kind of receiving line, offer comfort to others when they're in their own pain, and listen to far too many cliches. On the other hand, if everyone felt as we did, no one would show up at all, and I'm not sure how that would go over.

9. Attend the funeral service if you can. In some ways, it's less intense than the visitation and gives you the chance to show your support. There's nothing worse than going to a sparsely attended funeral - it seems like the deceased or their loved ones have no friends. You also learn more about the person and have a chance to share your stories with others afterwards. 
But don't just show up for the food!

10. If you're part of a group of mutual friends, coordinate the group's efforts. Have a rotation of meal-deliverers, listeners, comforters.  A burden shared is a burden lightened.

Life is busy and it can be hard to be there for someone who needs you. If we all have time for Facebook and blog posts, though, we have no excuse not to touch base with people who've lost a loved one. A quick e-mail or phone call can mean a great deal. And don't forget the person in the months that lie ahead, with all of those first 'anniversaries.' They often have a lot of support at the beginning but are forgotten as time passes. Remember to check in periodically to let them know you're thinking of them, especially on days that will be particularly difficult.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Question of the Month

“Who would play you in a movie of your life?” This is what Michael asked for October's question of the month (you can link up here). A toughie, but kind of fun.

I put the question to my Facebook friends while mulling it over. These were their suggestions:

Sally Field when she was younger. 

Melissa Gilbert who, like me, enjoys writing. 

       Mia Farrow. I'm going to go with the young version here      

Me (Lily) - nobody can play yourself better than you! (no pic required - it's in the sidebar)

My husband suggested Renee Zellweger, but that's because he's always had a crush on her.

At last I decided that if I were doing the choosing, I'd pick Michelle Williams. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but in my mind, she bears the greatest physical resemblance of the actors I could think of. She also lives a quiet life, not seeking the spotlight apart from her movies, and putting her family/private life first. Plus, she's a pretty decent actress, nominated for an Oscar three times and winner of a Golden Globe award. She'd do me proud.


But I'm curious, what comes immediately to mind when you, my readers, think of any of these actors? Give me the good, the bad and the ugly.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Review: A Trip Around the Sun

TripAroundtheSun_websiteSubtitle: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime
Authors: Mark Batterson and Richard Foth with Susanna Foth Aughtmon
Publishing: Baker Books, 2015
Genre: Non-fiction, Christian Living, Inspiration

First Lines:

[From the introduction]: 

Dick's Story - "Walking down the West steps of the Capitol, I hunched my shoulders against the cold. The conversation I'd had with an old friend proved to be life changing. As I looked down the National Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, the scene took my breath away. Golden rays of late afternoon sunlight softened the edges of the granite monuments and Smithsonian museum buildings, which frame the unique expanse that tells our nation's story. It made the line in "America the Beautiful" come alive: "Thine alabaster cities gleam." I still couldn't believe we were here. It was November 1994."

Goodreads Description:

What happens when we take Jesus at his word when he says, "I have come that you might have life and have it to the full?" "New York Times" bestselling author Mark Batterson and his mentor Richard Foth have done just that with their lives--and in "A Trip around the Sun," they show readers how they too can experience their life and faith as the ultimate adventure. 

In a fun, storytelling style, Mark and Dick challenge readers to shake off fear, dream big, and quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. The accumulated wisdom from their combined 117 trips around the sun radiates from every heartfelt page, invigorating those of us who have found ourselves stuck in a rut dug by our sense of duty and our fear of the unknown. Anyone who wants to grab life and squeeze every ounce of joy out of it will be inspired by this unapologetic celebration of the life Jesus died to give us.

Favourite Quotes:

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.~ Mark Batterson
As Edison is credited with saying, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." We all want to be successful, but most of us aren't willing to do what those who are successful did to attain it. We want success without sacrifice, but you can't have one without the other! ~ Mark Batterson
When Scripture says, "As a man thinks, so is he," it is raw truth. How we approach life and react to its vagaries determines the bulk of our character. How we love is locked into how we think about it. What angers us is triggered by how we think. It is between our ears that we decide how easily offended we will be. When it comes to harsh words from others, whether my skin absorbs like cotton or deflects like Teflon is a decision I make. All of that happens in a three-pound organ five-and-a-half inches across called my brain. In a very real sense, my world begins and ends between my ears. I don't have to be brain-dead to be brain-defeated.~Richard Foth
The difference between pushing my agenda or just living my life determines whether a listener feels like a target or a friend. ~Richard Foth
My Rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Extreme Self-Care

Author: Cheryl Richardson
Publisher: Hay House, Inc., 2009
Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help

Description from Goodreads

This life-changing handbook by best-selling author Cheryl Richardson offers you 12 strategies to transform your life one month at a time. Designed as a practical, action-oriented program, each chapter challenges you to alter one behavior that keeps getting you in trouble.

The book is filled with personal stories of how Cheryl and others have learned to make the practice of Extreme Self-Care their new standard for living. With chapters such as “End the Legacy of Deprivation,” “Take Your Hands off the Wheel,” “The Absolute No List,” and “Does That Anger Taste Good?” you will stop the endless cycle of self-betrayal and neglect that stems from daily violations of self-care.

Each chapter includes a relevant resource section that offers books, Websites, audio programs, podcasts, and more should you want to explore a particular topic further.

The Art of Extreme Self-Care is a sane and sensible program that gives you the permission you need to dramatically upgrade your life!

First Lines:
 In 1994, I made the decision to hire my first personal coach. Although I thought this decision would make me a better coach myself, it turned out to do much more. It gave me a better life. Thomas Leonard, founder of Coach University and the leading pioneer in the field of professional coaching, was the man's name, and I'll never forget what happened in our first session. (From the Introduction)
My Review:

The book's subtitle, "Transform your life one month at a time," speaks to the author's suggested slow-and-steady approach to self-care. The idea is to tackle one area each month. For example, learn to love yourself; learn to disappoint others by saying 'no'; find your own routine and rhythm for life... Each section concludes with a challenge and a list of resources to further assist you. Richardson suggests you read the entire book through before choosing the most difficult area and beginning your work with that.

As with any other self-help book, it's all in the application, and at this point I've only read the book through. I won't know how well the material works until I focus on the areas in which I need improvement. But I did think the book was informative and helpful. I borrowed my copy from the library, but am considering buying my own so I can refer to it often and take action. 

Richardson refers to Oprah a little too often for my liking. Either this was written when people still cared about O (sorry, it's true), or she's a devoted fan of Winfrey-style spirituality.

My Rating: 3.5 stars pre-application of theory

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ten on Tuesday: Fall Foods

We're starting to see autumnal weather, which means it's time to start thinking about the indoors, heat, and foods that bring us comfort at this time of year. This week's 10 on Tuesday theme is "foods I'm looking forward to eating (and cooking) now that fall is (almost) here." Join us at Carole Knits.

Here's my list:

1. Pumpkin pie. Yeah, I know nothing says weight loss like pie, but there you have it. I. love. pumpkin. pie.

2. Chili. I eat plant-strong, so my favourite chili recipes are vegetarian. Isa Chandra's recipe is particularly great, along with her corn muffins.

3. Apple crisp. I know you can eat this at any time of year really, but when apples are in peak season (i.e. fall), you've gotta make it.

4. Baked macaroni and cheese. This vegan recipe takes it! 

5. Indian Lentil Cauliflower Soup. I love that this recipe comes from a Canadian cookbook.

6. Susan Fish, author of Ithaca, has posted a bunch of soup recipes on her blog.  I haven't tried them all by any means, but Three Sisters Soup has to be one of the most fall-ish.

7. Lentil Shepherd's Pie. My favourite recipe comes from Vegan A-Go-Go.

I'll conclude with three favourite fall foods for the Thanksgiving Day meal (in Canada, this happens to be the second Monday in October, so not that far away!)

8. Dreena Burton's Festive Chickpea Tart

9. Homemade cranberry sauce - beats tinned sauce any time of year!

10. Stuffing, even if my plant-strong conscience bans turkey from the table

What are some fall foods you look forward to enjoying now that we're well into September ?