Book review: Grace Filled Marriage

Early this year (but not early enough for it to count as a resolution or anything), I decided that 2013 would be my year of grace.  I decided to purposely extend grace to others, regardless of whether I knew them, or whether we had had a bad relationship or encounter in the past, or even if I was in an everyday relationship with them.  Let me tell you – that part about extending grace in your everyday life is hard.  My husband, who is a good man, is still human (or so I’ve been led to believe), and, as such, is entirely capable of driving me out of my mind.  Sometimes, I grit my teeth when I talk to him because I am furious  or impatient and that doesn’t really make him happy or feel warmly towards me.  (Wonder why that is?)  Also, I work in public service in a library (perhaps you guessed that from my blog name).  People ask the same questions over and over (different people, but still…).  The printers stop working.  The book that was supposed to be on the shelf isn’t.  There is someone who is trying to fill out an online application and they have never used a computer before and on top of that, the mouse doesn’t work properly so even if they are trying their hardest, it is difficult to be patient and kind.  (See, this grace stuff is hard!)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was given an opportunity to review a pre-pub copy of Tim (and Darcy) Kimmel’s Grace Filled Marriage.  It was awesome (you can see my review on Amazon here).  (Yes, I know it was already published, but this is my year of grace, not necessarily promptness, although I am working on that as well and hope that the nice folks at Worthy Publishing will extend some grace and let me review more of their pre-pub books.)

So, back to the review:  Really good book.  Really well written.  Practical.  And marriage is good, even when it isn’t perfect.  For all its (and our) flaws, it contributes to financial stability on a personal level and to the greater economic good.  It is a place of stability for children.  It creates safety nets that allow adults to explore careers and further their education.  So if you are in a marriage, even if you are not a believer, don’t you want to be in the best marriage possible?

Grace Filled Marriage gives you practical tools to extend grace to your spouse.  Even if they never read the book.  Even if they don’t get it.  Even if they never extend grace to you.

In practicing grace this year (and goodness gracious, I fail at this attempt in some way just about every day!), I’ve learned what a powerful force grace is.  No one can force you to offer something that you are extending freely.  You have the power to choose to be kind.  You have the power to choose to forgive.  You have the power to choose to let go of hurt and grudges.  You can make the choice to rejoice in the kindness you show.  Grace is a gentle assault; one that persuades your opponent to lay down their weapons because they need not fear being hurt.

As I said in my Amazon review, every married believer should have this book on their nightstand.  I stand by that, but amend it to say that if they can afford it, they should buy 2 copies, one for each side of the bed (and a third to go in the bathroom, if that is where they read).  Also, this is a great wedding gift, even for people who aren’t believers.  Even if you think they don’t have a snowball’s chance.

Book review: 7: an experimental mutiny against excess

Jen Hatmaker convinces her family and her closest friends to “pare down to what is necessary, what is noble.”  She undertook 7 months of fasting, with one fast per month.

Here was her order of fasting (and, incidentally, the order of the chapters):

  • Food
  • Clothes
  • Possessions
  • Media
  • Waste
  • Spending
  • Stress

She has small children, so they did not participate in the fasts of food or clothing.  As she said, “Some months of this project were simply not kid friendly.”  But some life events during the fasts were extremely kid friendly.  Did I mention that she adopted 2 orphans from Africa during the fast?  Without going over her budget?  Now, a friend paid for the second adoption, but taking on 2 strange (meaning unknown to you, not weird!) kids to live in your home and be part of your family, is not for the faint of heart.

Of necessity, this book is self-reflective.  But Jen is honest about what she sees.  And she admittedly cheats a little during a couple of the fasts.  And she obsesses a lot about what she can’t have.  But she also stresses the importance of the relationships she has with the friends and family who are participating with her, and how it helps her stay on track.  (Note to self:  If you ever decide to do this, don’t go it alone.)

I really liked this book, and plan to read it again soon, despite the uncomfortable proddings from the Holy Spirit about the excesses in my life.  Permit me to conclude with this passage from her conclusion:

We’re so conditioned to being a problem that we’ve forgotten we’re actually the answer.  God is not angry at you; how could He possibly be?  You are His daughter, His son; you’re on the team.  Don’t imagine He is sitting us all down for a lecture.  Rather, He’s staging a rally, gathering the troops.  The church is rising like a phoenix right now, collecting speed and power.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one know but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  (Rev. 19:11-13)

Something marvelous and powerful is happening in the church.  The Bride is awakening and the Spirit is rushing.  it is everywhere.  This movement is not contained within a denomination or demographic, not limited to a region or country.  It’s sweeping up mothers and pastors and teenagers and whole congregations.  A stream became a current, and it is turning into a raging flood.  It is daily gathering conspirators and defectors from the American Dream.  It is cresting with the language of the gospel:  the weak made strong, the poor made rich, the proud made humble.

The body of Christ is mobilizing in unprecedented numbers.  Jesus is staging a massive movement to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom for captives.  The trumpet is blowing.  We are on the cusp, on the side of the Hero.  So while we’re mistakenly warring with ourselves, Jesus is waging war on injustice, and calling us to join Him.

Maybe we should listen.