Book Review: God Loves Single Moms

I have a friend who is a single mom with three young boys.  When I’m tired at the end of the day with my three, sometimes I think of her and how she has to parent alone.  I have my husband to divide duties with, but what about the single mom who doesn’t have anyone to relieve her for just a few minutes when she’s exhausted?  Phew, I feel for her!

Well now there’s a book to encourage single moms.  It’s written by Teresa Whitehurst and titled God Loves Single Moms. There’s an inventory in the beginning of the book that will help moms evaluate where they are in the different areas of life:  physical and emotional health, finances, relationships, organization, career, etc.  Then you do an inventory for your child(ren).  The book is all about learning how to breathe more health into your family.  Whitehurst writes from her own experience and is the encouraging voice of a new friend.

If you’re a single mom, this is a great book to encourage you and to move you forward into the life you dream about for you and your kids.  It answers tough questions about divorce, fatigue, loneliness, and restoring faith in your children.

God Loves Single Moms is available wherever fine books are sold.  Thank you Revell for a copy to review!

Book Review: Choosing to SEE

Steven Curtis Chapman is one of my favorite recording artists, so when Mary Beth’s book Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope came out, I wanted to read it.  Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.  My husband laughed at me because I kept making “Hmmm” sounds – a few every page – because I was either realizing something or feeling so much for this dear family who has faced death and seen a glimpse into eternity.

With total honesty, Mary Beth chronicles life before and after Maria.  I really enjoyed reading about Mary Beth and Steven’s early years – being so young (19 & 21) when they married, scraping by while Steven tried to make it in the music industry, getting pregnant because the dog ate the birth control pills (you gotta read about it – hilarious!).

Mary Beth says on p. 121 of the book,

“If you want a nice, tidy, organized life, you don’t marry Steven Curtis Chapman.  And you don’t adopt orphans.  And you don’t start an adoption/orphan care ministry.  But I did all that…”

Mary Beth’s story speaks to all of us who have ever wondered, How did I get here?  Am I really prepared to do this? Mary Beth found herself in a life she did not – could not – have ever planned.  And that was before her daughter’s tragic accident.

To learn all the details before, during, and after the accident was quite a gift and privilege.  The book was truly an insider’s pass into the Chapman’s lives.  You can’t help but love their family all the more after reading these pages of grief, reality, and hope.

I cannot recommend this book enough.  It’s a book of believing, of hoping, of yearning, of crying, of dying, and of living.  When I look at my almost 4 year old Noelle being so silly, I think of Maria.  And I’m sure Maria’s having so much fun in God’s big house and I pray a blessing over the Chapman family to help them while they miss her.

Authors Mary Beth Chapman and Ellen Vaughn have written us a gift.  There are no easy or pat answers in life.  But the God who created us is faithful to sustain us.  Choosing to SEE makes this ever clear.

Thank you Revell for allowing me to review this book.  You should have included a pack of kleenex with it.  Choosing to SEE is available wherever fine books are sold.  Get your copy and one for a friend today (and include the tissues!).

Book Review: Momology

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Shelly Radic, the chief of staff at MOPS International and the author of Momology.  I hope you will enjoy this Q & A, and get a copy of Momology for yourself or a friend!

Can you share a little bit about the research that went into Momology?

The research being done on parenting and families is extensive. To shape the content and better understand what moms are most concerned about, we spent several months reviewing research done by agencies and organizations such as the YMCA, Search Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as reviewing the thinking of multiple parenting experts, current university and government research as well as mom websites and blogs. About 1,800 moms of preschoolers also responded to surveys specifically for Momology. Momology is also based on what MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers, Intl.) has learned in over 35 years of working with moms.

How can moms shape a strong, resilient core?

Great question!

One very important way is to develop relationships and a safe community to mother within. Service providers like her nurse practitioner, friends in her neighborhood or mom group and, if she’s married, with her husband. If she’s single, with a parenting partner. Moms who know they are valuable to someone who cares for and about them are more resilient.

Another way is to understand and appreciate her unique self. Moms are more resilient when they understand that they are uniquely shaped to match the needs of their children. Personality, past experiences, special interests- a mom can utilize all these to interact in healthy ways with her child. Understanding her strengths can provide a foundation for a mom to work through both daily challenges and the big stuff that every mom has to face at times. Learning to recognize and handle her emotions- and sometimes that includes getting help from others- also helps moms develop resilience. In the midst of mothering, it can be easy to choose not to invest in ourselves, but moms need to practice self-care and life-long learning in order to meet the demands of raising our constantly changing and growing children.

Finally, I believe when a mom truly understands how much God loves her, when she seeks to discover the plan God has for her life, she understands there is meaning to life that is bigger and greater than “me” and “now”. The US Dept. of Health and Human Services identifies understanding that life is more than “me” as a key factor in resilience. So does God!

What are some suggestions you have for developing a strong mother-child bond and building it over time?

Because of my experiences as a foster and adoptive mom, I’m passionate about this topic. In Momology, I mention that attachment happens when moms are:

Loving- offer an unconditional love that gives time, energy, and yourself to meet your child’s emotional and physical needs.

Touchable- Get physical! Snuggle, hug, kiss massage, stroke, grasp fingers, tickle toes, massage temples, rub cheeks, wear baby in a sling. Touch, touch, touch.

Available- During the early months, give as much undivided attention to your baby as possible. As your child grows older, continue to connect frequently in response to your child’s current needs. Attachment is a matter of quality and quantity.

Predictable- Be known as a loving presence that routinely dries wet bottoms and dispenses warm drinks in the night, the strong arms that regularly envelope and sway fussy dispositions, the laughing person who readily sings silly songs and blows raspberries to relieve boredom.

Responsive- Study your child. Get to know what his cries and expressions mean and how you can best respond. Be patient with yourself. This learning can be hit-or-miss, especially at first. I have yet to see a mom who gets it right every time. So, keep studying!

Intuitive- Listen to what your heart says and respond accordingly, whether or not it’s what everyone else is doing.

Lastly, what impact does the health of the parent’s marriage have upon children?

Research consensus is that not just any marriage, but a healthy marriage is optimal for a child’s well-being. While single mom’s can have good outcomes, too, the best thing a married mom can do to shape a healthy, resilient child is to nurture her marriage. Not convinced, according to research done by the Colorado Healthy Marriage Project, a child raised within a healthy marriage is more likely to-

  • Experience greater overall success in school
  • Have better reading abilities
  • Attend college
  • Get a high status job
  • Marry
  • Avoid domestic violence and child abuse
  • Experience better physical and mental health
  • Live longer!

These are compelling reasons for moms to invest in a healthy marriage.

Thank you Shelly for sharing your heart and wisdom with us!   And thanks to Baker Publishing for a review copy of Momology.

Book Review: What Happened to My Life?

If you’ve ever felt like your life has taken an unwanted detour, this is your book! 

What Happened to My Life?  Finding New Passion, Purpose, and Joy by Danna Demetre is an honest perspective about what to do when life doesn’t go according to plan.  Danna speaks from her own experience with eating disorders and broken relationships.  In Danna, you will find a wise friend who speaks with empathy and hope.  She will not leave you to wallow in your sorrows.  Through biblical truths, she will help pick you up and set you back on course to live a better life. 

Danna’s book begins with chapters about “What’s Wrong with Me Anyway?” and “Discovering a New Path to Contentment.”  That’s followed by a 40 day journey of daily readings to bolster your faith and renew your spirit. 

I had the honor of hearing Danna speak this morning at the Professional Women’s Fellowship in San Diego about her book.  What a message of hope to be content in all circumstances.  Through her talk – and in her book – Danna shows you how.  This book is a great gift for yourself or a friend who needs to be refreshed and pointed towards a new perspective on life. 

Thank you Revell for a copy of this wonderful book to share.  What Happened to My Life is available wherever fine books are sold.

Book Review: How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?

I was instantly attracted to this book because of its title.  I have a little boy in kindergarten who isn’t really into super heroes (dinosaurs and cars are his thing), but he does tie a shirt around his neck and pretend to be a super hero from time to time!

Author Rachel Balducci is the proud mom of five boys – thus the book!  She has a wonderful way of bringing her home into yours.  As you read of her boys’ adventures, you will say one of two things: “Wow, I’m glad I don’t have all those boys” or “Wow, that sounds exactly like my home!” 

Rachel’s subtitle, “…And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys” is really what the book is all about.  It’s not prescriptive (this is HOW to tuck in that superhero), it’s more descriptive (this is WHAT happened in my house today).  You will be laughing within minutes of opening the book.  If you’re in a “relating to another mom” mood, you won’t be able to put it down. 

I loved all the humorous slices of life like her elementary school son coming home with the exciting news that he had been cast as the lead in the school play – he was going to be Omelet!  (It was Hamlet).  Or her son’s fascination not with dinosaurs or other popular animals – he loved cows.  Cows!

I must say for the most part, this book is for moms.  Perhaps no surprise there.  I read some parts to my husband and he didn’t find them nearly as funny as I did.  So if you know a mom who wonders if her wild boys are normal, point her towards this book.  It will make her feel understood and not alone.  Author Rachel Balducci is the kind of mom you’d love to run into.  Not only would she be easy to talk to, she’d always have a good story on hand!   

Thank you Revell Publishing for this wonderful book to review.  How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?  And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys is available wherever fine books are sold.

Book Review: 50 Ways to Feel Great Today

In the introduction, this book begins with a question:

Are you down and troubled?

Well, if you’re a mom, most likely you feel down and troubled once in a while!  The authors write that they want to help, not with easy answers or pious platitudes, but with 50 simple and inexpensive suggestions to boost your mood immediately.   Sound good? 

The fifty ideas vary greatly, from accentuating the positives to flying a kite to immersing yourself in nature.  There are some creative suggestions in the book like planning a treasure hunt for your child.  Other ideas are common and familiar (watching an inspiring movie, taking a nap) but the catch is…when was the last time you actually did one of these things?  My husband and I hadn’t been to the movies in months, but we recently enjoyed a date night and the movie, “The Blind Side.”

If you want some ideas old and new to inspire you to enjoy your life, this is a great resource book.  It makes a great gift for yourself or a loved one who needs a pick-me-up.  You don’t have to read each chapter because some of the topics won’t appeal to you.  But others will – for me, I grativated to chapters titled, “Name That Feeling – Before It Becomes a Mood” and “Save Your Day with a Nap.” 

Like all self help books, the outcome is really up to you.  If you take one or more of the ideas and run with it, you will feel great today as the book title promises! 

Thank you Revell for a complimentary copy of the book to review.  Available now at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Book Review: Fit for My King

fit for my king

If you need some divine intervention when it comes to weight loss, this book is for you!

Written from a Christian perspective, author Sheri Rose Shepherd shares how God healed her from an eating disorder and how she lost 60 pounds for good.  She encourages the reader to win the diet war once and for all, not with a complicated plan for counting calories, but by changing your heart and mind.

Fit for My King: His Princess 30-Day Diet Plan and Devotional is more devotional than diet plan.  You’ll find 30 days worth of devotionals that address your mind and heart.  If you’re looking for specific tips for avoiding those late night cravings, you will be disappointed.  Instead, this book looks at transformation from the inside out.  If you can see yourself as the princess God created you to be, then you will have the strength to make the right health decisions.  After all, royalty deserves the best, healthiest, freshest foods.

If you are struggling with self esteem and emotional eating, these devotions will help you find assistance in Christ.  There are wonderful prayers and action steps at the end of each devotion.  I would suggest getting an accountability partner to read the book with you to make the most out of it.  Then you have someone to keep you accountable to the diet portion of the book.  The diet plan is simple but hard:  fast from sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners, and artificial food for one month. 

The book also contains many “princess” recipes.  A few of the names are a bit cheesy (“Kingdom Kabobs”) but I’m sure they taste great!  If you want to feel like a princess while fasting from sugar, white flour and artificial foods, these devotionals will be a welcome companion for the Christian reader. 

Fit for My King is available November 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.