READ | Head & Heart {book review + giveaway!}

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Lately, with the holidays and a toddler who sleeps consistently (finally!) time has allowed me to dive into a few good reads. It’s a part of my 2016 goals to try and attempt finishing one book a month which I think is an attainable – depending on the book. I have been gathering a nice long list over the past few months of recommendations from friends, other blogs, and stories that have caught my eye while sifting through the shelves at local book stores and libraries. A few months ago, I saw a title a floating around a few Catholic circles I’m involved in that sparked my interest. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this (really awesome, but we’ll get to the review in a second) book to read and share about in the hopes that it can give you the same inspiration it has given me.

Let me start this post off by saying that I have always been a fan the non-fiction, self-help book genre (which may explain my degree in psychology). I’ve always loved learning practical steps that I can apply in the daily practices of my own life that will hopefully lead me to becoming a better person. I love reading books that leave me inspired, refreshed, and ready for a change whether that be big or small. The Head and Heart is a practical spiritual guide written by Katie Warner that is filled with concrete steps that I can easily add to my daily practices.

An area in my life that has been lacking lately is major spiritual growth in my relationship with my husband. Sure, day to day we pray for each other when there is something big going on in the others life and when we remember (or stay awake long enough) we pray with each other before falling asleep at night. These are all really great things and I’m sure more than some couples do on a regular basis – however, for us it seems like we are meeting the bare minimum requirements of a couple’s prayer life together. We aren’t necessarily finding challenging ways or new innovative ways to pray with and for each other so we haven’t been seeing a very drastic change in our spiritual life together.

In comes this book. It really was delivered into my hands at the perfect time – right around the time I was having this realization that our prayer life was dwindling and right before my husband went on his annual silent retreat. I was able to read the book before he left for his few prayer filled days and he was able to read it while on retreat. We have both come away after reading this book with a refreshed sense of what we both need and desire to do for the spiritual growth needed in our marriage.

I think what I loved most about this book was that it broke down the spiritual roles of men and women in relationships so concretely and specifically; explaining why females and males are drawn to providing spiritually in certain ways. It can be tough being an active practicing Catholic today’s culture. Especially as a woman, when I feel like the media and the world is shouting at us to be independent to the point of shutting ourselves off from any help, even more so when that help is provided by a man. But as a woman I have always felt the need to be spiritually lead. I have a hard time keeping tabs on my own prayer life and need the reminder of another human person to keep me accountable. I’ve always felt a little self conscious about this personality trait of mine until reading this book when I realized that craving spiritual leadership and guidance from my husband is natural, normal, completely acceptable!

Another tidbit from the book that I think both Eric and myself benefitted from was the reminder it provided that prayer doesn’t have to be this beautifully eloquent production in order to be worthwhile. I have always thought that if I don’t journal at the end of the day or make time for some lengthy form of prayer every day that somehow my small and constant conversation with God throughout the day didn’t count. Often times the fear of providing inadequate prayer for my spouse is what keeps me from praying out loud with him – when I just need to remember that anything, no matter if it is a single Hail Mary or a sleepy ramble of intentions at the end of the day, is a beautiful and decent prayer in the eyes of God.

I thought it was only fair that the husband had a chance to share his thoughts on the book in case you are interested in a guy’s perspective (or if you are met with some resistance from your spouse about this book – maybe an alternate viewpoint might help;):

I have never really been drawn to self-help type books, usually preferring fiction, or non-fiction that educates me about the world around me – but as its title hints, Head and Heart really does have something for everyone.  The way the complementary roles of husbands and wives were described really resonated with me – and kept me reading with an open mind to learn something new about myself, and my marriage.

A standout feature of the book is twofold – the author suggests, and even insists that you don’t try everything in the book at once, and each area has tiered options for improvement, based on your current proficiency or comfort in that area.  I was able to pick and choose the pieces that were relevant and at my level, without feeling the need to follow a one size fits all path all the way through the book, which really helped me act on the content in a meaningful way.

This book would be a fantastic addition to anyone’s Lent plans this year or a great Valentine’s present to give to your spouse and work through together! I really cannot recommend it enough. It’s a book that has brought some much needed inspiration to our life as a couple and I hope that it can do the same for you!

If you want to win your own free copy of this book leave a comment below and a winner will be picked next Thursday February 4th. Happy reading!

**CONGRATS SHARON! I will be contacting you about your free copy! (: **

 

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READ | the right book at the right time

You know those books that come into your life at the perfect time? They get thrown at you by way of friendly recommendations or Amazon suggestions. You purchase them on your e-reader and then there they sit, patiently waiting to be read and absorbed into your memory. A few weeks, maybe a month or two float on and life consumes your every moment and that little story that has been taking up space in your library is shoved into the dark and dusty corners of your mind, soon to be forgotten. Until, one day you stumble across said book and think to yourself that you really should have read that by now! What have you been doing all this time! And finally you turn that first page. Only to realize that the combination of this book + your particular, personal season in life at this very moment go hand in hand so well that you are actually glad you waited to read it.

I kind of love it when this happens.

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I can distinctly remember and wax nostalgic over important times in my life just by seeing the spine of a good book on our bookshelf. To me books are like smells and songs that people attribute to a certain time in their life. I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a girl – dreaming about what life must have been like and also secretly wishing the I could grow up to be a pioneer (#nerdalert). In high school I was obsessed with the book The Lovely Bones and remember having lunchtime conversations with friends about the morbid tale. In college, I was introduced to a bunch of Catholic literature by way of my ministry group and came to love my faith even more through books like this, this, and this. Then there was Tina Fey’s Bossypants. This book will forever remind me of our honeymoon in Saint Martin. After a year of wedding planning stress and then the craziness that was the actual wedding week, I wanted nothing more than to sit on a beach with my new husband, a good drink and a funny book. It was definitely the right book at the right time, and made me double over in fits of laughter while soaking up the warm Caribbean sun. Oh, and I will always remember the day my husband brought home the book What to Expect When You are Expecting, it was a few days after we had our first OB appointment and he was so excited to start reading it together.

Well once again, this kind of book/life/worlds colliding event is totally occurring in my life. Soon after Madeline was born I started getting into Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog Momastery. At the time I was overwhelmed with sleep deprivation and new mom [irrational] thoughts. With round the clock feedings, I picked up a few new blogs to read to keep me awake (especially those 3am I-feel-like-a-zombie-feedings) while I was with my new little babe. I had seen friends on Facebook share posts from Momastery before but hadn’t taken the time to really read them. So one night as I was rocking my little one (in the hopes that she might sleep longer than a 30 minute span) and decided to read a few posts from this popular mommy blog…and then I was hooked. It was that same evening that I saw that there was a self-help/relationships book penned by this beautiful blogger so off to Amazon I went and with one click that book was sent to my iPad where it waited to be read.

Well then sleep deprivation got REAL and I was also knee deep in reading The Fault in our Stars which I had started reading right before Madeline was born and HAD to finish. (Side note: I can honestly say – probably not the *best* book to read when dealing with the crazy of postpartum hormones – but all in all also a good read). So anyways, I just recently started reading Melton’s fantastic book, Carry on Warrior. It is such an inspirational read and has given this new mom life I’m living some much needed perspective. Not to mention her writing style is that of a long lost friend. She is so encouraging and somehow blends motherly advice with logistical life lessons and humor seamlessly. I would definitely recommend this book to any new (or veteran!) mama out there. Actually, I would recommend this book to any WOMAN out there – mom or not. I really do feel that while her book is intended for moms – it is one that could be read and benefited from no matter what walk of life you are currently living.

So in sum: books are awesome, but even more awesome when they intersect so perfectly with major events in your life.

What books are you currently reading? Anything I can put in my Kindle library for the time being? (: