Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Couples Who Pray by SQuire Rushnell and Louise DuArt

The subtitle of Couples Who Pray is "The Most Intimate Act Between a Man and a Woman". Rushnell and DuArt prove this point quite effectively with the testimonies of various couples who pray together regularly, as well as statistics showing increased marital satisfaction among couples who regularly pray together. The book opens with Rushnell and Duart's personal testimony of how God has moved through their prayer time as a couple, followed by an introduction to other couples whose testimonies are included in Couples Who Pray. Next, the reader learns some statistics on couples who pray together versus couples who do not. It comes as no surprise that the couples who pray together report greater joy in every area of their marriage. The reader also sees how God improves and enhances the marriages of the couples who are featured in this book.
Rushnell and DuArt also propose that each spouse forget about "50/50" and commit to giving 100% to their marriage. This proposition is an expansion of the testimony of one of the featured couples, whose testimony is included in the book. The proposition is challenging, but the reader is reminded that he or she must rely on God to do this. There is more in this same chapter about communication, which readers will find helpful.
Next, the readers are invited to take the "40 Day Prayer Challenge", so named because the authors believe that it takes forty days to form a habit. Following this invitation, Rushnell and Duart make a case for the power of prayer by directing the reader to consider the power of God and the truth of the Scriptures.
There are also instructions about forgiveness, warnings about threats to a marriage, and practical tips on praying for finances. Finally, Rushnell and Duart share six practical steps to a happy marriage, and some results of couples who pray together regularly. The link to "The 40 Day Prayer Challenge" is provided, as well as a survey for each spouse.
The advice in Couples Who pray is helpful and practical, and the testimonies encouraging. The reader will enjoy reading each of the testimonies. The couples included in Couples Who Pray comes from a highly successful and prominent careers. It is reassuring to remember that even highly successful people have struggles and need to depend on God. At the same time, the reader may wonder how the 40 Day Prayer Challenge could work for everyday working couples. It would have been encouraging if the authors had included such couples in their book. Also, while the statistics are convincing, they are somewhat dry. The reader would benefit from more instruction from the Scriptures.
Couples Who Pray is written by SQuire Rushnell and Louise Duart and published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville: 2007. A copy of the book was provided free for review by Thomas Nelson, Inc., and I have received no other compensation for this review.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Christmas 2010, continued

After a beautiful Christmas Eve service at our church, we traveled to Al's brother's house for our Christmas celebration with Al's family. They made low-fat, low-sodium dishes for Al to eat, along with some regular dishes. The fish chowder (healthy) was delicious! We had a great time, as usual, and Gail brought her boyfriend, John. It was his first time meeting Al's extended family. We left there at midnight, Al and I each driving our own cars in order to make more room for everyone. Missy and Gail drove their cars too, but we had David with us, so we needed both our cars. We got home at 1, and Al went right to bed, but I filled stockings. It was before close to 2 before I got to bed.
Despite the late bedtime, I woke up before 7 on Christmas Day. I prepared the turkey to go into the oven and put the stuffing into the crock pot to cook. (We couldn't have ham so we made turkey instead.) In order to make it festive, I put cranberries in the stuffing. Cooking it in the crock pot was a suggestion from a friend of ours. She also suggested stuffing the turkey with orange and lemon slices, with onions and a sprig of rosemary. It came out good! Once the turkey and stuffing were cooking, I began preparations for our traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs and grapefruit, with oatmeal and cantaloupe for Al. When everyone woke up, we opened our stockings and ate breakfast. To my surprise, I found a scented candle in mine.... Al had slipped it in while I was filling the other stockings. Missy and Eric and Gail and John arrived just after we got dressed. After setting out snacks and making coffee, we sat down to open our gifts. Al read a Scripture, as he does every Christmas morning. It was a particular blessing this year! As we opened our gifts, we found a few unexpected surprises. For example, I had gotten (by request) boots for Janet and shoes for Erin, and one of the girls had gotten shoes for Caroline! I think Gail got shoes from someone as well. I was surprised and tickled to receive several gifts from John, as well as from Gail, and a pair of red Scottie dog pajamas from Missy. It touched me that she remembered how her grandmother used to breed Scottie dogs. Last year she gave her little niece, Noelle, a stuffed Scottie dog for the same reason. Well, finally we had finished with all of our gifts except a long rectangular package from Al to me, which I assumed was a bathrobe (one of the ideas I had given him), and then the surprise gift we were all anticipating from the girls to Al. Well, he brought me the box, and I opened it. I immediately saw that it was not a bathrobe. I saw these cylindrical drawings on the box and thought, "oh, good; he got me glassware.... we always need that! But this is a strange way to pack glassware!" Well, as I actually began to open the box, I saw the words "Personal Computer" written on it. I STILL didn't get it.... I thought "why would they pack glassware in a personal computer box?" I was floored when I opened the box and found..... an HP LAPTOP, the very one on which I'm typing this post! Well, needless to say, I was thrilled. It was one of those "I'd love to have it but it's impossible" things. Al said, "Well, that was the big gift for this year," little knowing what Missy, Gail, and Caroline had in store for him. They went downstairs ahead of us, and he followed, with me close behind. I got there just in time to hear him say, "ALL RIGHT!"and see his face when he discovered..... a TREADMILL! I had known about this for a couple of weeks and had been given the assignment of NOT letting him buy one. It was very difficult. The day we got the Christmas tree I had to enlist the help of one of his friends who was trying to tell Al where he could get the best deals on treadmills. Dinner was suppose to be at two, but we didn't actually eat till four. After dinner we played some games and had dessert. then Al helped me set up my laptop and tried out his treadmill. We had so much fun, and since the next day was Sunday, I did not have to go to work. We enjoyed the "afterglow" of Christmas in our church service with our brethren in Christ..... always a blessing, and we still had Dave, Becca's, and Noelle's arrival to look forward to on Tuesday evening. I even got an extra day off on Monday because of a heavy snowstorm!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas 2010

What a blessing to commemorate the birth of our Savior! As we prepared for our celebration, we were ever mindful of God's most precious gift to us: His Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We were particularly mindful of God's grace to us as a family, as Al was able to be with us and celebrate with us. We are still celebrating his life and his continued recovery from his heart attack. Because I was on leave of absence from work till December 13, I was able to do my shopping and baking at a more leisurely pace, a little at a time, while Janet or Caroline or Erin was home to keep him company. He was also able to be alone for brief periods of time while I ran errands. We did several things together, such as going to his rehab sessions, shopping at Trader Joe's for healthy snacks, and coffee (decaf) at Dunkin Donuts. I also kept him company while I wrapped gifts in our den while he worked online. We enjoyed participating in our church's Christmas program. "Lessons and Carols." We also enjoyed participating in our nursing home ministry, attending Erin's Christmas concert, and our Sunday School Christmas party. Caroline and a friend of hers put up the outside lights for us. Al could not do much of the preparations, in terms of shopping or decorating, so most of that fell to me and the girls.... including cutting down a Christmas tree the afternoon before "Lessons and Carols." Caroline and I went to a tree farm to cut down the Christmas tree. Al asked for one between seven and eight feet tall, and not too fat. Since I like a nice cone shape to a tree, it took a while to find one that would fit both our specifications, as well as one that would meet Caroline's approval. The weather was COLD that day, we had a deadline, and some of the trees were growing on a slope, so we had quite the challenge. Finally we found one that we thought would work. We borrowed a saw from the farm's owners ( they have the saws there for customers to use) and proceeded to cut the tree down. Well, neither Caroline or I are very tall (both of us are under 5'4"), so it was a great adventure! We got it cut., and then proceeded to lug this seven foot tree to the shed to pay for it. The young man in charge tied it on top of Caroline's car and after paying for the tree, we drove it home. We did decide that we needed some Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate to warm us up, so we stopped on the way home. When we got there, Al had a friend visiting to play Stratego. We asked him to help us get the tree into the back yard, and Al offered to help. We said NO, and I rushed upstairs to enlist Erin's help. She's tall, so she would be able to handle the tree well. I said to her, "Get outside NOW and help with the tree before Dad gets to it!" She did. Meanwhile, Al was insisting that he could handl the tree and we were insisting that he must not! His friend looked at him and very sweetly said, "Brother, you're not helping." Well, we got the tree onto our back porch. The next day, we had a friend of Al's sister's at the house helping with some (non-Christmas) lighting issues, and he helped us get the Christmas tree into the stand. Al and the girls put the garlands and lights on, and the girls and I did the rest! I was so thankful that the Lord provided people to help us when we needed it!