Marriage and Family Life

Help with Marriage preparation, planning the ceremony and guidance in your married life.
Help with raising children within a Christian family.

Archive - Books reviewed in 2011

Outside the Womb

- Moral Guidance for Assisted Reproduction

by Scott B. Rae & D. Joy Riley

This book is dedicated by both authors to those who have to deal with the pain of infertility, whether they are an infertile couple, concerned professionals or simply friends who ‘walk alongside’. Scott Rae writes as an ethicist and Joy Riley as a physician. Both write as ethically conservative Christians.
The book is in two parts. In the first, a general overview is attempted. This introduces the reader to the ways in which people experience infertility and to the many bewildering medical terms they will encounter as they consider the possibility of reproduction Outside the Womb. Throughout these chapters related biblical themes are also interwoven and explored.
In the second part, the authors consider a number of techniques and procedures including: intrauterine insemination and egg donation; GIFT, ZIFT and IVF; surrogate motherhood; prenatal genetic testing. Technical terms and complex techniques are fully explained.
The book does, however, approach all of this from a very definite standpoint. This is summed up in an Afterword by Susan Haack, an obstetrician-gynaecologist: ‘Our understanding of embryos as persons who are beginning a journey of their own, created and ordained by God, must be the primary principle governing our approach to the use of any technology.’

Review by Alan Billings  (27/09/11)
Publisher: Moody Press from Trust Media Distribution
Published: 20 February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-802-45042-5

The Pregnancy Book

- Spiritual & Emotional Survival for First-Time Parents

by Will & Lucinda van der Hart

Full marks to this vicar and his wife for writing a book about pregnancy and the first year with a baby, while adjusting to these life-changing events in their own lives.
Will and Lucinda write with immediacy, honesty and humour, and never play down their times of anxiety, fear and tiredness. The reader is therefore ready to trust their integrity and their carefully and prayerfully thought out ways of preparing both emotionally and spiritually for the addition of their new family member.
The sharing of the writing between husband and wife makes for a balanced book which is enhanced by a useful reading list and prayers for pregnancy, birth and the early days of parenthood. Expectant parents would do well to read this valuable book which I really enjoyed.

Review by Margaret Walker  (14/07/11)
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-844-74440-4
Price: £7.99

Side by Side With God - In Everyday Life

- Helping Children to Grow With God at All Times

by Yvonne Morris

Everything has its time and there is a time for everything, but in our fast moving, ever changing society too often family time is pressured and cultivating a time to get alongside our children and a good book is squeezed out, let alone time to talk through some of those existential questions!
This book offers a helpful rhythm to sharing and unpacking bible stories with children in the home. Arranged thematically based on Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, each section starts with the bible to set the scene; leads onto ‘wondering questions’; encourages conversation; identifies further ‘bible links’ before ‘capturing the question’ we might want to ask God; a further story enables us to ‘dig deeper’ before we ‘chat with God’.
This is not a book that gives a neatly packaged interpretation or message; it is a gem that will stimulate thought, engage with uncertainties and provide a safe place to explore new understandings as parents nurture their child’s developing spirituality. Make time to journey closer to God side by side with your children.

Review by Siân Hancock  (05/10/11)
Publisher: Barnabas imprint of BRF
Published: August 2011
ISBN: 978-1-841-01855-3
Price: £7.99

Just the Two of Us?

- Help and Strength in the Struggle to Conceive

by Eleanor Margesson & Sue McGowan

“It may vary in intensity with different women and men, but as one of my friends put it, infertility is a chronic grief: the long unknown.” p160 In this book we meet a number of people who have and are still struggling with infertility. Some have tried a number of treatments while others have resigned themselves (not joylessly) to life without children of their own.
As someone who has been diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’ I found this book immensely helpful. While I do not relate to every story, I have over the years experienced heartache at the start of another cycle, disappointment when the third pregnancy test is still negative but have over the last few years come to accept my lot in life. We may still go for treatment or consider adoption but I am content to follow where God leads. Nonetheless, I was challenged to think about what the future will look like, keeping my marriage strong and how I saw myself without a family. I know that in the future there will be more struggles to come and that is exactly why I think that anyone who has known someone or is suffering with infertility should own a copy of this book.
Broken into four sections Eleanor and Sue look at where God is in all this pain, coping with the stress of childlessness. They briefly discuss how the professionals can help before challenging you to think about the future. All these sections have personal experiences from a number of aliases.
Each section ends with a small ‘reflection’ which gives you something to read, something to do, a section for friends and pastors and further reading.
I would highly recommend this not only for those who are diagnosed with infertility but also for anyone who knows someone in this struggle as well as councillors and pastors.

Review by Charmaine Hill  (17/01/11)
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 16 July 2010
ISBN: 978-1-844-74475-6
Price: £7.99

We Really Need to Talk

- Steps to Better Communication

by Paul J.Donoghue & Mary Siegel

This is a very good book on the art of talking and listening; easy to read but with real depth to it, it covers the range of situations from spouse, children, work and friends in a clear way, giving insight into how sometimes we can trigger reactions without meaning to and how to avoid them, at the end of each section is also a ‘reflections’ section with questions that really make you think. It then goes on to address the ways we shouldn’t talk, ie in a judging or blaming manner etc and finally has a good section on how we should talk – the skills needed like listening and effective communication strategies. On the whole it is a great book for anyone looking to learn communication skills and could also be used as the basis for a training manual for groups and teams either engaged in ministry or just to build up better church and group communication.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (19/07/11)
Publisher: Ave Maria Press from Alban Bks
Published: October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-933-49523-1
Price: £10.99

What Did You Expect?

- Reclaiming the Realities of Marriage

by Paul David Tripp

Tripp’s book is obviously designed to help those who are struggling in their marriages, but the foundations and practical applications are exactly what’s needed for every season of marriage. As the man himself writes, this book is “a detailed description of the daily work of love that must be done with commitment and joy when a flawed person is married to a flawed person and they are living in a fallen world.” That covers everyone in every situation this side of eternity.
The book begins with some key principals that underpin the rest of the work, namely the problem of selfishness, the focus on day by day small decisions/actions that lead to the big crises of life, and most importantly the realistic hopefulness that comes from the Gospel. After these foundations come six commitments, each of which receive multiple chapters. Each chapter features the story of a couple in crisis, how they got there and then Tripp offers the solution that is drawn from the application of the commitment, those being drawn from the foundational principals, which in turn are all drawn from the Gospel. This is the reason that I give absolute, unabashed recommendation for this book. Tripp doesn’t lead his readers down some self-seeking inwardly-fixated therapy session. He is not prone to the modern tendency to blame one’s parents, environment or breakfast. Instead, he calls sin for what it is, points to Jesus as the only way to deal with sin and then models that same forgiveness in marriage. One of Tripp’s vital themes is the healing that comes when we align our lives with God's Kingdom.
You see and feel the heart and pulse of a pastor on every page! Possibly in the top four marriage books of all time! Written with intensity, passion, skill and biblical verve. Top drawer meaty stuff!

Review by Johnny Douglas  (21/04/11)
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 18 June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-844-74474-9
Price: £9.99

A Time to Care

- Loving Your Elderly Parents

by Emily Ackerman

Regardless of who we are, we all have parents and they will at some stage face their lives shrinking as they get older and possibly suffering from ill health. At what point do we become more involved in their lives, taking on the caring role for them that they will be needing in the last few years of their life?
Emily Ackerman is a doctor who has seen the caring from both perspectives – looking after her own aging parents and then becoming a parent in need of care herself due to physical ill-health. This is no dry list of what we should and shouldn’t do as Christians for our parents when they become frail. It is inherently a practical book dealing with most aspects of an aging parent’s life and current health problems. She strives to encourage us not to feel guilty that we can’t be in several places at the same time, with our own work and family commitments and then on top with a parent or two that we have chosen to care for.
She deals practically with some of the issues facing carers, and also looks spiritually at how we can best honour our parents when they have become less independent and the parent/child relationship appears to have become reversed. What makes this a very authentic book is that the author is coming from a place of ‘really knowing’ what it’s like to be in the carer’s position and to then have had the roles reversed, and she has been able to consider and learn from her own situation, writing with compassion and depth.

Review by Jackie Scott  (20/01/11)
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: 17 September 2010
ISBN: 978-1-844-74487-9
Price: £7.99

Where has My Little Girl Gone?

by Tanith Carey

The author of this book is a seasoned journalist, already writing for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including the Guardian, the Independent and the Daily Mail, in which this well-researched how-to book has been serialized. Tanith Carey writes that celebrity children such as Suri Cruise, designer brand names, social networking sites like Facebook, game consoles, mobile phones, the internet, easy access to porn and lewd music videos have created a generation of girls who are old before their time. She encourages parents to talk frankly to daughters about sex and complain to broadcasters about unsuitable violence in popular shows such as Waterloo Road – adding that big corporations hate bad publicity. She says that many mothers don’t kick up a fuss because they are afraid to appear politically incorrect and mentions the name Mary Whitehouse more than once, but stresses that a daughter is not a confidante, or a best friend, but an ultimate responsibility. This is a refreshing and honest book which should be on the shelf of every mother and mother-to-be.

Review by Alice Collins  (13/10/11)
Publisher: Lion
Published: Summer 2011
ISBN: 978-0-745-95542-1
Price: £7.99