Friday, February 15, 2013

The Art of Falling in Love - Heading Down the Love Path With Eyes Wide Open

As I write this review it is Valentine’s day – a day where the people who see themselves as the “Forever-Alone Crowd” will be curling up under an afghan with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to watch The Notebook for the thousandth time, or will be hanging with other relationally-challenged guys to watch a Die Hard marathon.  It’s the day for singles to circle the wagons around their hearts and attempt to ignore the hearts and flowers.

It’s also a day where those who have embraced matrimony will either surprise each other with tokens of affection, or disregard the day entirely.

It is a day where love is either expressed with giddy anticipation or ignored with feigned apathy.
Overall, love is looked at as something that just “happens”.  It may last a lifetime, or it could fade.  It’s an emotion that we just don’t have any control over. 

If you fall into any of the categories above, and you’re feeling that love is just too fickle to trust, take heart.  According to relationship expert Joe Beam, there is a path to follow to fall in love – a path where you have complete control over each step you take.

In his recent book, The Art of Falling In Love: 4 Steps to Falling In Love, Staying in Love, Renewing Lost Love, Beam looks at the process of falling in love, demystifying it without making it seem clinical.

The Art of Falling in Love guides us on a journey down the “LovePath”- a relational road that takes a couple from attraction to acceptance, to attachment, and finally to the deep abiding love of aspiration.

Beam’s contention is that we all, at some point in our lives, head down the path, but how we proceed down that passage is our decision.  It does not have to be a journey that is arbitrary and out of our control.  It is a quest for true, abiding love that is gained by intentional and determined choices to love.

Beam’s use of the visual image of a path is helpful in charting your own personal journey.  It was useful to see where I was on the love path, and the book aided me in knowing what I needed to do to proceed to a higher level of committed love, or what some potential potholes were in the way, that might derail my travels down the path.

The Art of Falling in Love seems to be primarily written for married couples who may find themselves careening wildly off the path or waking up to the realization that somewhere along the way, they had taken a U-turn and are falling out of love.

The book gives every person struggling in a seemingly doomed relationship real hope.  The fact that the author, himself discovered the validity of this path after his own divorce from his wife, gives the book authenticity.  Wherever we are in our relationship – he’s been there too.  Considering he and his wife Alice remarried and are enjoying a relationship that is stronger than ever, certainly makes Joe Beam the poster child for the LovePath and The Art of Falling In Love.

So if you’ve been married for what seems forever, or contemplating heading into a relationship equipped to do this love thing right, buckle up and settle in for a ride down a path that will change how you love.

A free copy of The Art of Falling In Love was obtained from Howard Books in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 8, 2013

One Sunday - A Believable Story of Grace and Redemption

Miss Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole.  At least that’s how Alice Ferguson feels when she finds herself 40, pregnant, and living in Nashville – thousands of miles and a lifestyle away from her fast-paced vocation as a career-destroying tabloid editor from LA.

Because of complications due to the pregnancy, Alice determined that it would be best to move in with the baby’s father, a Southern-bred doctor determined to do right by her – and anxious to keep an eye on their baby.

But the move from the City of Angels to the heart of Tennessee isn’t sitting well with this west coast mover and shaker.  The switch from rubbing shoulders with the Hollywood elite to bed rest and baby showers is a hard adjustment.

And then there are the neighbors, Pastor Tim and LeChelle Jackson with their bevy of kids. When Alice’s doting fiancĂ© is out of town, she ambles over to the Jackson’s for LeChelle’s down home cuisine, and basks in the family’s love for one another – a love she had always longed for.

But along with the meals comes a generous slice of conviction from Tim.  Gentle and affirming, he also desires Alice to come to grips with her life and prods her to examine her relationship with God.  Finally, after successfully dodging several invitations to attend church with them, Alice gives in – if only to get them off her back.

One Sunday by Carrie Gerlach Cecil lays open the heart of a very lost, confused, and utterly wounded woman who hides her hurt beneath success and sarcasm.  Alice seems to have her life under control – even with an unplanned pregnancy, but as she sits through the Sunday service on the back pew of Bethel Church, memories she had buried begin to work their way to the surface, and she is faced with the pain caused by the life behind her and by the burden of choices she made.

Cecil crafts this story brilliantly.  Alternating between Alice’s acerbic analysis of each section of the Sunday morning service and flashbacks of her traumatic childhood and insecurity-driven adulthood, One Sunday allows us to look into a suffering soul who is trying to make sense of this Jesus thing.

One Sunday is never heavy handed.  Alice is a delight as a sarcastic, eye-rolling, self-centered mess.  I absolutely love her snarky attitude and her play-by-play of a contemporary Sunday go-to-meeting.  She made me laugh - and made me hurt for her too.  Alice’s journey back to God is authentic and at times earthy.  It is believable.

A novel with hope and humor, One Sunday will touch your heart with its story of grace and redemption. 

A courtesy copy of One Sunday was received from Howard Books in exchange for an honest review.