Book Review: For Women Only

I’ve been trying to read more Christian nonfiction lately. Something that I did a lot of in college, but once I graduated adulting got in the way of any and all reading other than young adult fiction (not that I’m complaining, love me some Twilight). I also wanted to challenge myself to read different authors and genres than I’m used. I was mainly doing this to grow and develop my relationship with Christ, and wasn’t necessarily excited about expanding my horizons. However, it has been surprisingly enjoyable. Now, I’m one of those people that finds something I like at a restaurant and continues to order it for the rest of my life, and Heaven forbid they ever take it off the menu because I will meltdown right then and there claiming that I have suddenly lost my appetite and of course it has nothing to do with the fact that the one and only dish in the restaurant that I could possibly like has been removed from the menu. This philosophy on dining tends to overflow into other areas of my life…I like what I like, and if I haven’t tried it I probably wouldn’t like it anyway, so I’ll just stick to what I like, including authors and genres.

Recently, though, I started listening to the Catalyst leadership podcast. Catalyst is a Christian leadership conference. Adam and I have been to it a few times, and every time has been life changing. The first time we went to it is when I began to feel called to start blogging (I wasn’t obedient right away, but that’s neither here nor there). The next time we went was when our calling out West was confirmed, so it has been fairly pivotal to our ministry. Well, we realized this year that due to a variety of circumstances we weren’t going to be able to attend, which was a bummer to say the least, so I decided to pacify myself by listening to the Podcast. While it is not as powerful as the conference due to it being a 30-60 minute session once a week as opposed to 3 super intense days, I would contend that it is equally as good, just less intense. If you’re interested in it, you can find it here. So, I started listening to this podcast, and the majority of the people on there have written at least one book. As I’m listening to these people say all this life-changing, wise, highlight-worthy stuff, I’m beginning to think that I’m going to have to broaden my horizons away from my trustworthy authors because, as difficult as it was for me to believe, there were a lot of people other than Brennan Manning and Donald Miller (not the only authors I’ve read, but definitely in my top 5) that have good things to say and that God is using. So, I started making an Amazon wishlist of books by these authors I was listening to, and I am beginning to slowly make my way through them.

Now, the final thing I’m going to say before I get into my first review is that I don’t always sit down and read these books. In fact, I tend to mostly listen to them as I’m getting ready, cleaning and driving. Some people will claim that if you are not physically reading a book with your eyes, it doesn’t count. To those people I would say, I’m glad that you have ample time to sit around and read. However, my Netflix binging tends to get in the way of that, so you do you, and I’ll do me…no judgement needed here, thank you very much.

With that being said, allow me to introduce you to the first book I have chosen to review:

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

Image taken from Amazon.com

This book actually didn’t come from the Catalyst Podcast family of authors. It was recommended to me by the hubs. He was reading it and its counterpart, For Men Only (along with the accompanying series for young men and women), as part of his research for a series on relationships that he was doing with the youth group. The subtitle for this book is “What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men”. Now, my first thought was if I haven’t learned it in 10 years of marriage, I’m pretty sure I don’t need, or want, to know it, but my dear, sweet, loving husband had asked me to read it, so I downloaded our Kindle copy anyway and began to listen.

Obviously, by my previous admission, it is evident that I didn’t exactly go into this book with the best attitude. However, I have to say that this is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. I, honestly, can’t believe that the series is not required for all premarital counseling. It mentions somewhere that it is often times incorporated into premarital counseling. I, personally, think that every church should adopt it as part of their requirements (that and a Financial Peace University course by Dave Ramsey). Seriously, this book would have saved Adam and I a blue million fights, and we don’t even fight that much. This book is a game changer. GAME. CHANGER.

However, just as a quick disclaimer, I do want to say that this series and the accompanying For Young Men Only and For Young Women Only, are not only for those in relationships. I would contend that if you have ever thought, “What was he/she thinking?” Or “I totally do not get men/women”, then these books are for you, which is pretty much the entirety of the human race. Also, while the author is a Christian, and does mention her faith or faith related matters occasionally, I would not consider this a Christian book, although it is written from a Christian perspective.

“How does this woman know so much about the inner lives of men?,” you ask, “What makes her such an expert?”. Lots and lots of research, that’s what. Now, don’t shut down on me if you’re not a statistics nerd, I’m not one either. I fall asleep every time Adam begins to talk about research (ya’ll, he watches documentaries for fun…I can’t even process that!), so I understand the turn off. However, it’s not just research. She has also interviewed/surveyed thousands of men from all different walks and stages of life and compiled all the data, but it doesn’t read like a research paper. It is written in a conversational tone that makes you feel like you are sitting down with your girlfriend to chat over coffee only this girlfriend has a glimpse into men’s brains, thus making her invaluable and this coffee date the holy grail of coffee dates.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m just going to list a few of my big take aways:

  • Men face more pressure than what we may realize, and our support and confidence is more important than they can often express.
  • When we nag men, or as I like to call it “check in with gentle reminders”, they see this as a lack of confidence in who they are and their abilities (I, seriously, thought my husband was the only one on this, and to find out that the majority of the thousands of men she surveyed got ticked off when their wife, gently and lovingly of course, reminded them of something they needed to do was HUGE for me)
  • Men often need time to pull away and think before addressing issues. When they do this, it is because they love us, not because they can’t stand being around us.
  • What we look like is more important to our husbands than what they are often willing to admit. This is not saying that we have to be Barbie-size and only eat salads (cause that ain’t happenin, am I right, ladies?), but they want to see that we care enough to make an effort to look nice for them. So often we fix ourselves up for church and work and even going out with the girls, but then he comes home to a hot mess in stained two day old sweat pants (okay, that might just be me). This doesn’t exactly communicate to him that he is more important than everyone else. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t still put on my jammies as soon as I walk through the door most days. However, I have started to try to put more effort into my appearance when we go out to dinner or on a date, rather than thinking eh, it’s just him.

There’s so many other topics covered, and she goes into so much more detail on each of these. She not only includes the statistics of her research, but also quotes and personal stories from her interviews that really help drive the points home.

I absolutely cannot say enough good things about this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s married or in a serious, adult relationship. For those that are not married or are a bit younger, there is also For Young Women Only. The For Women Only version does deal with some issues that are more specific to marriage, so if you are thinking about this for a teen/young adult, I would definitely recommend the younger version. If you would like to know more about the author, you can find her webpage here.

Finding the Familiar

Sometimes things are crystal clear and life makes perfect sense, and other times you don’t even know what you are thinking and feeling from minute to minute (or maybe I’m the only one?). During those times, it’s hard to put into words what you’re going through, but I think it’s important to try. I think that when we do this, other people are encouraged by our efforts and can find commonality…at least that is my hope. These past few months have been one of those times for me, and this is my attempt to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

Adam and I moved across the country, and we love it here! In many ways, I have never felt so at home. The culture here fits us so well. Y’all, it’s called “The Land of Manana (tomorrow)”, meaning that most everything starts late, many people are not on time for things, and everything is pretty laid back (including the speed limits, which is glorious). And if you know us at all, you know that what I just described, makes this place sound like we were made for it, and that’s true. It’s got tons of hiking and outdoors-y options, while at the same time being a bigger city, with board game cafes, theaters, cinemas, shopping, museums, and other fun things. So, the culture is fantastic and a great balance for us.

The church we are at is absolutely amazing. I already feel like I have known most of the people there for years. In the few months that we’ve been here, I’ve developed many real, genuine friendships. I love our youth and am so honored to be able to work with them and help them grow. Ever since I graduated from college, I have wanted to work with college students, and I am finally able to here! The Bible study I am doing with the college girls, I know I have to get more out of it than they do, because it just gives me so much energy and life. I’m finally starting the tutoring ministry that I have dreamed about for years. So, our church is wonderful, and I cannot imagine a church that would be better for us.

I’ve found a school that I am currently substitute teaching at that I truly cannot say enough good things about. It is my dream school. It’s a sign language school with both deaf/hard of hearing and hearing students. You guys, I didn’t think a school like this existed! This school has intentionally worked to create an environment of acceptance, love, and individuality. Students of all ability levels work together to be successful, achieve goals, and live in community together. I LOVE IT! And, totally not the most important, but an added bonus, is that many of the employees have tattoos and fun colored hair (which again, if you know me, you know is kind of made for me). So, my job is outstanding and a dream come true.

We bought a house that I love in a neighborhood that I love! It’s a very traditional, southwestern, adobe home, and it operates mainly on solar energy! We have an acre of land where there’s all sorts of wildlife, and almost every morning there are hot air balloons above our backyard. There’s a fenced in patio for our dogs, and they are so happy out there. The house, itself, is so quirky and unique. It has two stain glass windows, a gorgeous fireplace, huge windows with an amazing mountain view, and two carved, tree statues (one of various animals and one of St. Francis). So, our house is wonderful and fits us very well.

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Meet Frankie, the statue of St. Francis in our backyard.

Everything is fantastic! God lead us here, and there have been a million things to confirm that, which is exactly why this next part doesn’t make sense. I have been so homesick. I absolutely love it here, and wouldn’t want to change anything. At the same time, I really miss Kentucky. Yes, I miss my family and my friends, and I know that I always will. However, I expected that, so I feel like I was somewhat prepared for it even though it hasn’t been easy at all. It’s all the things I wasn’t prepared for that have been so difficult. I thought I was, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared for how much I would miss my places. You know, those places where you walk in and everyone knows your name (essentially, I miss my Cheers). I miss walking into the Starbucks on my way to work and them greeting me by name. I miss walking into Purdy’s and seeing 5 people I know before I sit down, and I dearly miss walking into Café Meeples and them asking me if I want my regular. I miss knowing where I’m going and driving without a GPS. I miss familiarity. I worked at my last school for 7 years, so I knew that place inside and out. If the copier was jammed, I could fix it. Need to know where something was? I could tell you or at least point you in the right direction. As much as I love my new school, I am completely clueless on where anything is, and I have no idea how to work the technology.

These are the things I didn’t think about and prepare for when we moved. I know that over time we will develop our places here. There’s this fantastic little café near our house called Nate and Hannah’s that we have been to a few times, and I’m sure that before too long they will start to recognize us. And I can now get to and from church and work without GPS, so I’m making progress. AND, let the people rejoice, I made copies by myself at work the other day! So, things are getting better and, as they do, my homesickness is subsiding some. However, in the beginning I felt guilty over my homesickness, which only made it worse. What I’m realizing, though, is that being homesick doesn’t take away from how much I love it here. It just testifies to how much I also enjoyed Kentucky, and that’s not a bad thing. I can miss one place and still love another place. So for now, I’m going to work on continuing to find the familiar here, letting places here become our regular spots, people here become our “family”, and this place become our home. But I’ll also reminisce occasionally about places and people in KY, and rejoice when we go back to visit. And I’ll find joy in both.