The Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver (My Review)

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the happy wives clubThe Happy Wives Club Discover the Best Marriage Secrets from the World’s Happiest Wives held some surprises for this reviewer.

Surprise number one;  The author is a business woman who can write! It’s a research book but it’s not boring, especially if you are married, interested in being married or wish you had known how to stay successfully married! This is a  well-written account of one woman’s travels to find happy couples and learn how they built their successful marriages.

I had “liked” The Happy Wives Club on facebook over a year ago, delighted to support the founder and author, Fawn Weaver’s, idea that it’s important to let the world know that there are a lot of happy wives in the world. And there ARE a lot of happy wives in the world, if the 688,000 members of THWC are any indication.

The book reads a little like a travel diary as the reader listens in on Fawns’ interviews with happily married couples across more than six continents and eighteen cities. Readers also get to vicariously enjoy the scenery, the food and the glamor of Fawn’s jet setting lifestyle as they read.

And, therein lies the books weakness (Surprise number two). As a successful businesswoman,  Fawn has been married for more than ten years and is childless (although she and her husband want children…now). Her interviews with happily married couples are helpful because her research reveals that the secrets to a happy marriage are the same in spite of cultural differences! Good to know.

However, this wife of thirty-three years believes that Mrs. Weaver overlooked some crucial couples in her research. What about those couples who have endured years of misery and come out on the other side, happy and more committed? What about those who haven’t had successful careers and have, perhaps endured great poverty and struggle? What about those with more than two children?

Studies reveal that couples who were on the brink of divorce but stayed married considered themselves happily married three or more years later! Sometimes, commitment to marriage is really all it takes.

As the reader gets to know Fawn a bit through her writing, Fawn shares some of her worries and insecurities about the effect that a child might have on her husband’s relationship. Her questions often probed couples to find out how they “shared” responsibilities. She continually highlights equal sharing and partnership in the married couples she interviews. Because Fawn is a Christian, I found this approach to be a bit disheartening.  Foundational to a Christian marriage is knowing that it is a covenant before God regardless of whether or not the responsibilities are equally shared. A shared-and-equal marriage will work until a child or two is brought into the equation and, then, that shaky foundation crumbles.

As the mother of eight children I wanted to tell Fawn that some marriages create a mini-nation where equal sharing becomes an impossibility. I wanted to tell her that for many years, outsiders looking into our family would have seen two exhausted parents just trying to make ends meet. During those hard years, those same outsiders couldn’t see the respect and esteem that were growing in both my husband and I (he, because he saw me transformed by the hard work of motherhood and I, because I saw him develop a strong work ethic to support the children of our marriage). There was no equality or sharing during those years…just survival.

I wanted to tell Fawn that there is something so much richer and deeper and more wonderful than an equal marriage with constant companionship. It is the knowledge that your marriage is building something far greater than best-friends-in-love.

That’s what I feel Fawn missed in her research. Not all happy couples are happy the whole time and many have endured long years of struggle but an understanding of the covenant of marriage causes it to endure.

Fawn’s observations of couples all over the world makes the book fun to read. In the course of her travels, Fawn delights the reader by sharing the wisdom she learns from happy and successful people all over the world.

the happy wives club

Fawn Weaver is an American black woman and rightly recognizes that black marriages are in trouble. Her research is encouraging to women of any color and nationality because the secrets to a great marriage are the same across all cultures.

I do recommend this book, I just don’t know if I would give it to anyone going through a really tough time in their marriage.

I received this book for review purposes only from HarperCollins Christian publishing.

Preparation by Effie Waller Smith

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mother lifting child

“I have no time for those things now,” we say;

“But in the future just a little way,

No longer by this ceaseless toil oppressed,
I shall have leisure then for thought and rest.
When I the debts upon my land have paid,
Or on foundations firm my business laid,
I shall take time for discourse long and sweet
With those beloved who round my hearthstone meet;
I shall take time on mornings still and cool

images silhouette of children swinging

To that great Soul in whom we live and move.
All this I shall do sometime but not now–
The press of business cares will not allow.”
And thus our life glides on year after year;
The promised leisure never comes more near.
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Perhaps the aim on which we placed our mind
Is high, and its attainment slow to find;
Or if we reach the mark that we have set,
We still would seek another, farther yet.
Thus all our youth, our strength, our time go past
images mother looking at child
Till death upon the threshold stands at last,
And back unto our Maker we must give
The life we spent preparing well to live.
Effie Waller Smith was born in Pike County, Kentucky, in 1879. Her parents, both former slaves, insisted that Smith and her siblings receive the highest quality education available. After attending Kentucky State University, Smith began submitting her work, and published three volumes of poetry before her death in 1960.
Thank you, Johannah Banham, for introducing me to this thoughtful woman!

It’s Almost Spring…You Can do This!

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I wish I had a magic recipe I could give to my friends that they could spray around the house to make their joy come back; kind of like the lavender counter spray that makes me feel happy every time I clean my kitchen!

Joy can be elusive; one minute we feel pretty good about the world and the next minute we’re telling ourselves we’ll never do anything worthwhile and that we are lower than dirt.images woman at window

If this happens to you a lot you may have a physical reason for feeling so lousy. We women are a marvelous mixture of hormones. We are biological beings but we can forget that about ourselves!

My husband had a friend who used to say, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing a woman can do is get a good nights sleep.” I would look at him and wonder what in the world is he talking about?

Then, one night my husband and I had a heated argument that we couldn’t resolve, so I decided to go to bed. I was so sad and upset and angry that I thought it would be easier to face the reality of our horrible marriage in the morning.
You can guess what happened. I sobbed myself to sleep, slept deeply and woke up rested. I sat up and yawned and thought, what a beautiful day and look at that cute man I married!

Yes, sometimes the most spiritual thing a woman can do is to tell herself that maybe she’d better not do anything until she rests, eats less sugar or takes a walk in the fresh air!

Simple decisions can make a huge difference in this busy life we live. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail. If you need to confess a sin and repent of it, then do it knowing that God who is faithful and just will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. But, if you keep making poor choices because you are exhausted…give yourself permission to breathe deep, eat right and take a nap.

Listen to your Auntie Jill :-)!

Of Nanny Goats and Carpet Shampooers

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images.jpg goat
The Day is almost upon us and a woman can hardly enter a grocery store or florist shop without bumping into a man with his arms full of flowers.

Have you ever noticed that a man holds a bouquet of flowers up and out from his body, kind of like an Olympic torch? Take a good look at the next man you see who has just purchased some Valentine’s flowers and see if you don’t catch a look of triumph and pride on his face.

That look of victory is there for good reason. After surviving the stress of Christmas, here come the Valentine’s Day ads. These ads are targeted at women but the pressure is on men. The message to men is clear, “Men, if you really love her you will buy her something…and that something will be very expensive.”

In the back of every good-hearted man’s mind there lurks that niggling question,
“Will flowers be enough? What if she is thinking jewelry?” Oh help me Lord!

Men have good reason to worry because, let’s be honest ladies, Valentine’s Day is a big deal for women. It’s a big deal for us because, way back in our minds we have this niggling little worry,
“Does he really love me? Is this love that we have ‘it’?”

We want that sweeping, swooning, love like we see in the movies (that’s why most marriage books are read by women and the chick-flick industry is going strong).

We also like foo foo and candy and sweet little nothings written on cards and carved into chalky tasting candy hearts and (if we’re honest with ourselves) we love the envious looks our friends and relations give us when the man in our life makes some crazy, creative, romantic gesture.

Valentine’s Day is fun. It’s romantic. And it puts a lot of pressure on our men.

As a younger woman, I put a lot of pressure on my husband.

I thought I knew what love looked like and the flowers he picked out of the New Mexico State University Agriculture garden for free did not look like love!

While I was busy getting my feelings hurt, I failed to notice all the ways that he showed real love to me.

He’s always defended me. He’s really good at that.

Over the years he’s worked at jobs he hasn’t particularly liked just to provide for us.

He gets angry and blows it…and apologizes.

He’s put his jeans back on in the middle of the night to go hunt up something at the store to make my pregnant stomach feel better and he’s done this more times than I can count.

He’s rented a carpet shampooer to clean baby vomit off the couches and ended up spending his one free weekend doing the entire house because I insisted.

He once brought home a pregnant nanny goat in the back of our mini-van because I got it into my head that our little acreage was The Little House on the Prairie except I forgot we didn’t have a truck or a trailer to transport the brainless mother-to-be. I’ve never forgotten the look on that poor man’s face as he drove up our driveway with the van full of excited children and a bleating goat. He had that what-has-she-gotten-us-into-now look…

He says those magic words to me, “What would you like me to make you to eat?” and then he makes it…better than a restaurant.

He thanks me, often, for giving him eight children. That really makes my heart go pitter pat.

My husband has also gotten really good at giving special gifts and beautiful cards. Those are fun and wonderful and sweet but they don’t really prove his love like all the other things he does.

We have that swooping, swooning, epic kind of love but it looks and feels different than the movies. It is better. Real love means commitment and forgiveness and sacrifice and being there.

So what if he buys you a new set of dish towels for a gift and doesn’t bring you a soppy card or a box of chocolates? I’ll just bet that the man in your life is doing an awful lot of things right.

“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”
― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Give him a big kiss and tell him that out of all the men in the world, he is your hero.
Choose to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Love Their Tummys! Yummy Ideas for Valentines Day!

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What is Valentine’s Day without special treats?

If the love of your life gets happy over a big ol’ hunk of meat and a bunch of greasy fries and salt, give it to him for Valentine’s Day! Why not? The point is to make him happy, right?

Then, have a little fun and follow it up with one of these gooey, ooey sweet things. I’ve thrown in a few that are good for you, too!

coconut snowballs

or… a cherry pie from the store that you decorated a bit!                      images

or, how about yogurt parfaits? Just layer vanilla or honey yogurt with granola or nuts or coconut and fruit or jam. Healthy and pretty!11024559_T.jpg fruit parfait

or, even, pretzel sticks dipped in melted chocolate (chocolate chips work) and rolled in sprinkles. Don’t they just look like a party?images.jpg chocolate dipped pretzals with sprinkles

You don’t have to spend a lot to let someone know that you are thinking of them.

Happy Valentine’s Day Generational Womanhood readers!

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the History Of Valentine’s Day

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old fashioned wedding picture
The roots of Valentine’s Day seem to be obscured by time and a number of stories are told about why it began. This story is one that has enough historical details to be plausible.

In the days of ancient Rome, the fourteenth day of February was a pagan holiday honoring Juno. Juno was the queen of the Roman gods as well as the goddess of women and marriage.

The next day, the fifteenth, was the first day of the Festival of Lupercalia. This festival honored Juno and Pan who were two Roman gods. images married hands

Fertility rituals were held on this day. On the night before the festival started, it was customary for the names of the Roman girls to be written on slips of paper.These slips were then placed in a container and then each boy drew a name of the girl who he would be coupled with for the entire Lupercalia festival.

Rome was under the authority of Emperor Claudius the Second, and he was a vicious warrior (not to mention the fact that he was insane). His armies lacked the sufficient number of soldiers it needed, and Claudius could not figure out why more young men didn’t want to go to battle. Finally, he determined that the young men didn’t want to leave their wives, families and girlfriends. In order to remedy this, the Emperor instituted a new law and canceled all of the marriages and engagements in Rome.

In the meantime, there lived a priest in Rome by the name of Valentine. He did not believe in the Emperor’s new law, and he refused to abide by it.  He continued to perform wedding ceremonies in secret. Valentine lived in constant fear that he would be caught by Emperor Claudius’ soldiers, but he persisted in doing what he knew was right. justtwoofus

Finally, the day did come when Bishop Valentine was caught uniting a man and a woman in the bonds of holy matrimony. The soldiers dragged him to stand before Emperor Claudius’ throne. The Emperor condemned the Bishop to be put to death for his violation of the law.

While the priest was imprisoned, waiting for his execution, many young couples threw notes of thanks along with flowers and other gifts into the window of his cell.

Among these young people who admired the priest for doing the right thing, was the prison guard’s own daughter. Her father allowed her to visit Bishop Valentine in his cell.

They became friends.

Finally, the day arrived when Bishop Valentine was scheduled to die.

It was the fourteenth of February in the year of 270 AD.images.jpg old people in love

While he was waiting for the soldiers to come and drag him away, Bishop Valentine composed a note to the girl telling her that he loved her and would pray for her. He signed it simply, “From Your Valentine.” A short time later, Valentine was executed.

guy-stafford-the-happy-pair-an-unidentified-couple-from-stafford-england
In the year 496 AD, Pope Gelasiu finally did away with the pagan festival of Lupercalia, citing that it was pagan and immoral. He then chose Bishop Valentine as the patron saint of lovers, who would be honored at the new festival on the fourteenth of every February.

Over the years, Valentine’s Day has evolved into a holiday when gifts, cards, flowers and candy are given to the ones we love…all because of a brave, righteous man named Valentine.

Author unknown

All You Need is Love! (and, maybe, a glue stick)

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It’s a toss-up for me…Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving Day? Which one is my favorite?

In the grey blah of February, I’ll take lots of pink and red and sugar anytime!

Our family has tea parties this time of year and it’s a good excuse to pretty up the house.

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to tell your entire family how much you love them. Here are some awesomely creative ways to do that and they don’t cost much at all. Check out this Exploding Love Box.

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Or…how about a message in a balloon, complete with confetti?

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Here’s one that might be especially meaningful to a child. Simple and special! Fill a jar with lots of reasons why you love them!

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For fruity, fresh and simple, try some fruit kabobs! fruit kabobs

The Happiest Life by Hugh Hewitt (My Review)

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  • the happiest life

I wanted to review this book for one simple reason; I want a happy life.
But first, who is Hugh Hewitt (I wanted to know)?
Turns out he’s an attorney, a Professor of Law at Chapman University, an author and the host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Hugh Hewitt Show. Apparently, I have been out of the loop and haven’t heard of him.
I do sit up and listen when successful people have something to say about true happiness. I am assuming that these folks have tried to look beyond outward success (beyond material things) and find satisfaction and joy in intangibles, so I was interested in what Mr. Hewitt had to say.
Hugh Hewitt’s The Happiest Life reminds us what is most important and (surprise), it’s not money or possessions. Hewitt focuses on seven “gifts” and spends a chapter on each one. Most of these, you and I have heard before; encouragement, friendship, kindness etc. Several of them were a bit too generic for me (enthusiasm and graciousness, for example).

Along with the seven gifts are the seven “givers” (spouses, parents, teachers, and others). These relationships are those in which we, also, have the opportunity to become givers.
Again, nothing terribly new here except a reminder that, perhaps, the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is your time. It’s also a great reminder that climbing the ladder of success may result in great disappointment if we don’t cultivate these “gifts.”
Hewitt then moves on to the Greatest Giver–God. He speaks generically of God as a God of peace and goodwill. Hewitt defines himself as a “layer-cake Christian;” an “Evangelical Roman Catholic Presbyterian.” Hmmm.

Perhaps his approach to Christianity is the same approach he takes to writing a book; in an effort to be all-“inclusive” and positive, he writes an easy-to-read book that placates the reader but leaves them wishing for something substantial.
Ultimately, I think this book misses the mark.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Chicken or the Egg? (In Other Words, Don’t Be a Dumb Cluck!)

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chicken counting eggsOur new house is looking a little more homelike; books are on shelves, the kids mattresses are up off the floor and the dining room table is no longer piled high with clutter.

Yesterday, I finally met our neighbors because…uh….our chickens got out. Sigh.
Fixing the backyard fence is next on our list.

I’ve  had  taken some time to read. Life is good.

Believe it or not, it’s not just my imagination that reading calms me down.

Neurodevelopmentalists say that reading really does stimulate the brain in a wonderful way. In contrast, videos and movies activate the sleep center of the brain which is why, even after we watch an action movie, we yawn and feel unmotivated, leading us to look like this cute creature.

images.jpg goat

For more interesting articles about learning and how to stimulate the brain in the right way (especially for parents of struggling learners), visit the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists. Start with the articles. Fascinating stuff.

On another topic, ever been accused of being bitter when you are just plain hurt? As people who have been forgiven much by a gracious God, forgiveness and bitterness are important to contemplate. What does bitterness look like? How do I know I’ve really forgiven someone who has wronged me?

This article gave me some meat to chew on. Little Red Hen

And for you fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books; here’s a mom who has compiled a virtual tour of the actual places where the Ingalls lived! She gives readers the real timeline of the author’s life along with maps and videos of the museums. If you’ve been hit by the January cold and cough that is making the rounds, take a few moments to look back on those days of no running water, carpets, tylenol or kleenex.Abby and Eggs

Read, ponder and pray! Don’t be a dumb cluck!

Aside

Aside by Peter Marshall

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Marriage is not a federation of two sovereign states. It is a union–
     domestic
          social
               spiritual
                    physical.

It is a fusion of two hearts–
     the union of two lives–
          the coming together of two tributaries,
which, after being joined in marriage, will flow in the same channel in the same direction… carrying the same burdens of responsibility and obligation.

Modern girls argue that they have to earn an income, in order to establish a home, which would be impossible on their husband’s income.

That is sometimes the case, but it must always be viewed as a regrettable necessity, never as the normal or natural thing for a wife to have to do.

The average woman, if she gives her full time to her home
     her husband
          her children…

If she tries to understand her husband’s work…
     to curb his egotism while, at the same time, building up his self-esteem
     to kill his masculine conceit while encouraging all his hopes
     to establish around the family a circle of true friends…

If she provides in the home proper atmosphere of culture
     of love of music
          of beautiful furniture
               and of a garden…

If she can do all this, she will be engaged in a life work that will demand every ounce of her strength
     every bit of her patience
          every talent God has given her
               the utmost sacrifice of her love.

It will demand everything she has and more.
And she will find that for which she was created.
She will know that she is carrying out the plan of God.
She will be a partner with the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.

And so, today’s daughters need to think twice before they seek to make a place for themselves
     by themselves
          in our world today…

Dr. Peter Marshall (Chaplain of the U.S. Senate in the 1940’s who was a gifted speaker and passionate Scotsman)