Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Woman of Mystery: Unveiling the Secret to True Romance by Hayley DiMarco

Tour date: Thursday, April 2, 2009

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Woman of Mystery: Unveiling the Secret to True Romance

Tyndale House Publishers (April 1, 2009)


Hayley DiMarco is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, including Datable and Marriable.She spent the early part of her career working for a little shoe company called Nike in Portland, Oregon. After three years with the “Swoosh,” Hayley got fed up with the incessant rain of Portland and began to search for dryer ground. Soon she found just the spot—Nashville, Tennessee, where she became the manager of promotions at Thomas Nelson Publishers. While operating as the brand manager of Nelson’s new teen line, Hayley authored, edited, or had her hand in more than thirty-six different titles.

In 2002 Hayley left Nelson and founded Hungry Planet, a company intensely focused on feeding the world’s appetite for truth by producing books and new media, taking on issues of faith and life with a distinctly modern voice.

Shortly after founding Hungry Planet, Hayley successfully completed a nationwide executive search for someone to run the company so she could focus on writing. She describes her husband, Michael, as her most successful business acquisition! Hayley and Michael are now the proud parents of Hungry Planet’s thirty-plus books, including ten best sellers, three ECPA Christian Book Award finalists, one ECPA winner, and one amazing human, their daughter, Addison.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414324685
ISBN-13: 978-1414324685


I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss from her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. One.


I’d rather fight with you than make love to anyone else.


You’re a woman and you want him to appreciate you because of that. Being female is at the core of who you are, and you want him to notice. To notice your ability to communicate and the funny way you wiggle your nose when you’re happy. You hope he will catch the curve of your legs and the way you fixed your hair. You want him to follow the scent that lingers as you walk by. You want to allure the man you desire, and you realize that it takes all that is feminine in you to do it. But you also want him to love the parts of your personality that make you uniquely you: Your self-assertiveness and your ability to have strong opinions and ideas. Your sense of humor, your favorite and unfavorite things, the quirky habits that set you apart from everyone else. Your shyness, your strength. You want him to recognize your mind and all its creativity and power, your heart and its ability to love, your soul and its depth. You want him to find in you that thing he’s been looking for all his life.

Romance arrives when you realize that on all these counts he has seen you and found you alluring. In return, he shows honor and respect for those things in you that he finds so appealing. When he showers praise on your very essence, you are where you long to be—in the heart of romance. All that we define as romantic has the element of recognition in it. We are recognized for who we are, and we are loved for who we are. We are recognized as “other,” as different from the one who sees us, but still awe-inspiring.

When a man finds everything about you (even your idiosyncrasies) endearing, he is offering you pure romance. And it is intoxicating.

If you are like me, there is likely a part of you that is craving romance. Maybe you’ve tried to stuff it into the corner of your heart, or maybe you’ve tried to ignore it altogether. But it’s there, whether you acknowledge it or not. Like me, you might have tried to fulfill your need for romance with fantasies of romantic moments with a man, sexy clothes, romantic getaways, or idyllic decor . . . and more than likely, you’ve come up short. The romance your mind promises your heart never seems to arrive. And so you yearn for more, and you wonder what you are doing wrong—or what’s wrong with you. The search for romance seems never ending and always just out of reach.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. When we embrace the concept of womanhood as God designed it to be, true romance is possible. At her best, the Woman of Mystery is an echo of the divine, revealed in the romance of femininity (more on this in a moment). Her presence can transform a room. She is captivating

and inviting, and men find her unforgettable. If romance is a kind of aphrodisiac for women, then one could say that mystery is an aphrodisiac for men. The mystery of the woman who can’t be fully understood is an invitation to the masculine heart to come closer.

This woman is alluring and warm. She draws people to her. People who know her want what she has; people who observe her are intrigued by her charm and charmed by her beauty, though that beauty might be just beneath the surface. It is the atmosphere that surrounds her that entices others to her side. It is her soul that makes people curious, that causes them to follow her, pursue her, and want to know her.

Though mystery can keep many a man guessing, it is also what makes him desire a woman. Mystery says to the man who catches a glimpse of it, “That is something special,” and it compels him to explore the depths of it. But more than that, it can give him strength and hope. Mystery leaves his soul wanting more, so when a woman allows some things to remain hidden or unspoken, he is intrigued.

There are some women throughout history who have given us a peek at the mystery that captivates. Jackie Kennedy was one such woman who lived with a captivating sense of grace and dignity. She will forever be remembered as a woman who didn’t allow her grief and pain to become the focal point of her life. She maintained her personal strength in order to be strong for her nation. Lady Diana also had an air of mystery that endeared her to the world. Even in the midst of her own heartache, she reached out to the world and sought to bring comfort to the weak and neglected. Audrey Hepburn kept a certain sense of mystery about her throughout her life too, not only because of her physical beauty and the way

she carried herself, but also because of her dedication to helping underprivileged children in the poorest countries. She will live on in the minds of generations as a result. These women didn’t just let it all hang out; they lived with gentle reserve and unspoken confidence. They weren’t prone to fits of rage or given to public displays of emotional weakness or excess. Though their mystery might not have come from a life lived with Christ, they are still noteworthy starting points of what mystery looks like.

Feminine figures in the faith like Kay Arthur and Beth Moore demonstrate a compelling sense of mystery in their own way. They speak to thousands with confidence and yet also speak to individual women they meet with such charm that each woman believes, at that moment, that she is the only person in the world. I have personally watched Kay interact with hundreds of women and have seen how she treats each stranger as a friend. She looks into these women’s eyes as they share their hearts with her. She holds

their hands and hugs them tight. Her mind isn’t on herself or her next appointment but always on those she is with. This kind of compassion and love captivates anyone in her presence. It gives her an air of kindness and strength that draws people to her. God’s love is quickly seen in the lives of women like these.

The Mysterious Christ

“I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).

Christ himself is the author of mystery. His very presence here on earth was a mystery (see 1 Timothy 3:16). He maintained that mystery as he spoke in parables, suggesting that not all who listened would understand (see Luke 8:9-10). And in a way that defies human logic, when he was being persecuted, he didn’t seek to defend himself or argue with his persecutors but instead accepted their attacks with a sense of acceptance that God’s hand was in the matter (see 1 Peter 2:23).

Imagine how he walked while he lived among us; imagine how he talked and loved while he interacted with people. Imagine the calm he instilled in them. Imagine how captivating his words would have been to hungry hearts, how mysterious his reactions were even to the disciples who were with him every day. Though others disdained and avoided the Samaritan woman, Jesus loved her (see John 4:9-10). He ate with people who were viewed as the worst kind of sinners (see Matthew 9:10-12). His very nature went against the grain and baffled the minds of those who thought they knew God. And in the end, the world mocked him when he mysteriously refused to come down from the cross and save himself from such great pain (see Luke 23:35). To our human natures, Jesus was and is a complete mystery—his actions, his words, his heart. Mystery was his way of living. And dying. But to our spiritual natures, this mystery is revealed as we seek to know him more (see Matthew 7:7).

It shouldn’t be a surprise that our call as believers to imitate the life of Christ would also lead us to that same mystery that makes him so alluring, so different from the rest of the world. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul calls believers to imitate Christ. Beautifully, mysteriously, as we accept Christ, we find ourselves in the possession of his Spirit. “The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). As we accept the life of Christ and all the mystery that it entails, we also accept the mind of God himself. First Corinthians 2:16 states that “we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” Because of that, the imitation of Christ’s life, and therefore his mystery, is within our reach as we walk this earth and relate to those who love us and those who hate us. Rather than thinking of Christ as a mystery we must solve, we must embrace his mystery, as it is this mystery that draws people to him in the first place.

This call to imitate the mystery of Christ is not a gentle request but a God-initiated command. Yet how many of us take the words of imitation seriously? At times my heart lacks the strength to stand, so it retreats into the habit of fear and worry, and looks nothing like the heart of Christ. I depart from the imitation of the God I love, and I travel to the land of introspection and anxiety. And the mystery is lost. It isn’t until I look from the trials of life to the God who sustains me that I can reclaim the ground I lost. It

is a daily returning. I confess my retreat, and I promise to march forward in faith and hope. “Day by day” has become my battle cry. My constant fight is against the conflicting impulses that tug at my heart and distract me from the face of God.

For a number of years, I struggled with a horrific fear of flying. I would see images of plane crashes on the news, and I couldn’t get them out of my head. So each time I would get onto a plane, my heart would pound, my mind would race, and my gut would hurt. And although I didn’t explode like I thought I would—and neither did the plane—I would end up physically sore, emotionally tired, and literally sickened by the end of each arduous flight.

Each time we landed, I would look back over my stressful trip and say to myself, Why can’t I trust God with my life? I knew all the biblical responses. I coached people through their fears. But this fear controlled me. However, each time I wanted to give up flying altogether, I’d say, “No, I will not let fear, a sin, control me.” And so I would fly in spite of the difficulty and stress of it. After much prayer and much refusal to let anything other than God control me, I am happy to say that I can now fly without fear. There are days in my life when I look like anything but a believer, let alone like Christ himself, but I refuse to let that be the end of me or define me. Instead, I push forward to attain what God promised me—the ability to imitate the life of peace and hope of Jesus himself.

No matter what your area of struggle is—whether it’s failing to trust God with your fears, failing to keep the mystery alive, or failing to embrace his version of true romance—don’t give up. I want to make it clear to your heart that perfection isn’t attainable this side of glory. But the desire to imitate Christ is worth pursuing. As many times as we fall down, we can keep getting up and trying again.

Three Kinds of Romance

If you talked to a dozen women about what romance means, you’d likely get a dozen different answers. One woman might say it’s getting red roses; another might say it has to be wildflowers. Some might say it’s a mountain getaway; others might say it’s Times Square at midnight. Or maybe a picnic by the lake is better than a candlelit dinner at a fancy restaurant. Opinions on what romance is may vary, so it might be best to establish what the term romance means to the Woman of Mystery. I believe there are actually

three different kinds of romance: manufactured romance, earthly romance, and true romance. Manufactured romance and earthly romance are only imitations of true romance. They give us hints of its flavor but not the full taste.

Manufactured romance is the least genuine of the three. It is an attempt to force romance through setting and circumstances. It is the imitation romance of films and music. Manufactured romance is going to a chick flick in order to get a taste of romance for ourselves. It is opening a Pottery Barn catalog and believing that if we could just have that room, our lives would be magical. It’s the romance we arrange ourselves when the real thing is lacking. And it’s little more than a false high that leaves us feeling empty when the vision and the hope wear off.

Earthly romance is a closer imitation of the real thing. Not only can it peacefully coexist with true romance, but it can also amplify it. Earthly romance is that thing that happens between a man and

a woman. It is the way the world fades into the background when you look into his eyes. It is that feeling that keeps you up at night with excitement and hope, and it is those moments when your heart feels truly adored and loved by one man who is wholly and completely devoted to you. And in its truest form, earthly romance is something God created to be a natural taste of the divine. But it can never be a substitute for true romance.

True romance is what all other forms of romance seek to imitate. It comes from a relationship with a holy God and is more amazing than any earthly relationship could ever be. It comes as you worship, as you obey, as you love. When your heart becomes aware of God’s presence, feelings of peace, hope, joy, and even ecstasy can overtake you (see John 14:27). The world starts to look a little brighter and seem a little less harsh toward you (see Psalm 37:3-4). When your thoughts mirror God’s thoughts, and when you can say that he is all you ever really want or need, then true romance descends upon you.

This is a romance that cannot be shaken, no matter how bad your outward circumstances. It stands in the face of every trial, every attack, and every heartache. It brings you tears of joy and real feelings of comfort and support. When you experience true romance, you know in the very center of your soul that you are loved with the kind of love that is beyond compare. And that love will never disappoint. It is this true romance that is the answer to all other longings for love in your life. Without true romance, earthly romance becomes fleeting and unsatisfying, but with it, all earthly romance is enhanced and strengthened. Gain true romance and you will never again need to ask, “Where is the romance?”

When I was single I had moments of despair. Would I ever find a man to love? Would I be alone forever? It was an emotional time. I can remember feeling deflated and wanting so badly to have someone hold me and say I was beautiful, to romance me and make me happy to be adored. But no one was to be found. In a lonely funk one evening, I walked out onto my porch, sat down to watch the sunset, and found just what I was looking for. The breeze gently touched my skin, and I sighed. The smell of fresh-cut grass made me inhale deeply. And the orange sky made me say thank you. How foolish I had been, looking for earthly romance when true romance was there right in front of me. Who needs flowers when you have a sunset designed by the very hand of the one who loves you most? Who needs a hug when his very creation fills your lungs and surrounds your body with every breath? When I pushed out my thoughts of what I lacked and focused on the abundance that was mine, I realized that true romance wasn’t dependent on the presence or the lack of a man in my life.

When Jesus was nearing the end of his time here on earth, he offered us these words: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27). True romance is a gift the world cannot give. It is beyond compare, and it is available to everyone who seeks it. The Woman of Mystery is a woman who understands the secret to true romance and the need for it in her life. Because of her connection to God, she has an air of mystery that captivates those who are near her.

But becoming a Woman of Mystery can initially feel like a daunting task. Her qualities seem too perfect to be attained, her choices too impossible to imitate. I know from experience. I was not always a lover of mystery. I was an aggressive, successful executive type who took the world and the boardroom by the horns. I found it rewarding to shock people and to demand attention.

I can remember one particularly notable nonmysterious move that I once made that caused a few jaws to drop. I was presenting at an important sales meeting for the publisher I worked for. This conservative publishing house was, at the time, populated with middle-aged men who found me a bit of a wild card in the world of Bible publishing. In my belief that shocking people helped me to get my point across, I had chosen to wear an outfit that seemed to solicit a lot of comments. As I walked the length of the large—very large—mahogany conference table, the guys proceeded to make comic remarks about my attire. “You singing at a wedding later today?” They all laughed and murmured their snarky remarks. So,

when I got to my seat at the head of the table surrounded by some thirty men, I put down my papers and pulled out my chair. Then I stepped up on it and onto the shiny wood table. “Take a good look!” I pronounced. “Have your laughs now. Get it out of your system.” I twirled around slowly as they all sat in shock. As I came back around to face them, the huge doors at the other end of the conference room opened and the CEO of the company walked in. His very conservative jaw dropped, and a look of discomfort came over him. And I enjoyed every minute of it. Let’s just say that on that day I made my mark on the company.

Lest you think as you read this book that I’m now a quiet church-lady type and that mystery comes naturally to me, let me assure you that I am the exact opposite. I am, at heart, a driven, assertive woman who is at times both a social hermit and a show woman. When I’m expected to perform, I am the center of attention and take command of the crowd. But when I’m not on, I am shy by nature and would rather spend my days at home alone than with crowds of people. I can tell you that my desire to achieve has often made me do things even I am shocked by, both in the boardroom and in the romantic world. Most of the time, I’ve gotten it all wrong.

My dating life spanned almost two decades. And over those years I made many mistakes. For most of my adult life, I was the aggressor, not only in business, but also in love. I chased men, argued with them, and baffled them. I can’t tell you how many men said, “Can you just stop being the man in this relationship?”

And for years I couldn’t understand what they were talking about and why I was still single. I was a catch! (Isn’t that what we all tell ourselves?) Even after I got married, remnants of my “masculine”

tendencies remained. But more on that later. It wasn’t until after I started to discover the power of mystery that I was set free from this constant state of internal unrest. I was no longer striving or pushing against the world. I was living in step with it and the people around me, and I was finding beauty where I had never seen it before. I’m far from the picture of perfect mystery, but I’m miles closer than I used to be.

And so when I talk about this woman that we aspire to become, know that I have yet to get it all right. But as I embark on this life of mystery, I’m finding it is not only more relationally rewarding but more spiritually rewarding as well. I hope that these words resonate with you and that you will risk testing them to see if they are true. May this be a chance for you to find your heart full of true romance and the love that goes along with it.

Lifting the Veil


Don’t look for more candles or romantic music; try to look for opportunities to admire, even adore, God’s creation. And that includes your husband, if you have one, as well as your friends and family. Find the good in everything from nature to smells to tastes, and you will begin to discover the romance. Spend time each day taking it all in.

Meditate on the goodness in your life; disregard the negative. Refuse to become a slave to resenting what God himself has given you. And major on the positives.


Take a look at your life over the past five to ten years. What are some of the most romantic moments you’ve had? What has made them so romantic? What about the times romance was lacking? How did you handle its absence? Can you think of some ways you could replace those longings with God himself? Spend some time in prayer and Bible study, finding out how to fall deeper in love with Jesus.


I have found that if I listen to my favorite uplifting music while reading devotional and other inspirational books, I increase the degree of understanding and penetration to my heart. It’s the sound track of life, as I like to call it. So I encourage you to pick up your iPod or turn on the CD player and allow the sound track of life to add to the experience of reading and absorbing this book and other books you’re reading.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive by Karol Ladd

Tour Date: April 1, 2009

When the tour date arrives, copy and paste the HTML Provided in the box. Don't forget to add your honest review if you wish! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST WHEN THE TOUR COMES AROUND!

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive

Howard Books (March 3, 2009)


Karol Ladd is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Power of a Positive series. She is also the founder of Positive Life Principles, Inc., providing strategies for success both at home and work. A frequent guest on radio and television program, she lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and daughters.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (March 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416580492
ISBN-13: 978-1416580492


Part One

When Dreams Disappoint

Let nothing disturb thee,

Let nothing affright thee,

All things are passing,

God changeth never.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Don’t let your hearts be troubled.

Trust in God, and trust also in me.



Seven Common Disappointments in a Woman’s Life

Identifying Your Struggles and Realizing You Are Not Alone

There is no pit so deep

that God’s love is not deeper still.

Corrie Ten Boom

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 msg

You are not alone.

Somehow that statement brings comfort, doesn’t it? Knowing someone else is journeying with you offers encouragement and hope. Right now you may be thinking, I feel so all alone. No one understands my frustration and pain. Certainly there is no other person who knows exactly how you feel or has experienced the specific grief of your personal disappointment or loss—yet, my friend, I want you to know you are not alone.

You are not alone because there beside you, although you may not see him or feel him, is the God who cares for you. He is the God who sees all, and he invites you to cast your cares on him.1 Throughout the ages, God has been lovingly reassuring his people, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”2 In Psalms, we read David’s affirmation of God’s presence: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!”3 Try as we might, we can’t hide from God. His loving arms extend wherever we go. God will meet us where we are with arms open wide, saying, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”4

I cannot tell you why you are in the seat of disappointment, nor can I answer the question “Why did God allow this?” The answers aren’t always easy or evident. Although we may not understand why God allows the not-so-happy scenarios in our life, we can still trust his love and care for us. When we call to him, he is there. You may have been ignoring him for many years, but, my friend, it is never too late to cry out to him. The Bible assures us that if we seek him, we will find him.5 The God of all comfort loves you and desires a relationship with you.

The Bible describes God as “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.”6 Isn’t that an inviting description? What a wonderful heavenly Father we have! He is with us in the joyful times of our life, as well as in the difficult ones.

Picture with me just for a moment a loving parent who takes her child to the park and the zoo and the ice cream shop. Can you imagine the same parent dropping off her injured child at the hospital and saying, “I know you’re in a lot of pain, but I’m busy right now. I’ll come back and pick you up later when everything is okay.” No, a good parent will lovingly hold her child through the difficult and painful experiences. Now, if a human parent cares for a child in this manner, how much more does our perfect heavenly Father hold us with his gentle loving embrace through the trials we face? Our gracious God will never leave us.

Comforting Bonds

Although your pain is personal, you are not the only one who has experienced pain. We share a common bond with women throughout the ages who have experienced disappointments and loss, both great and small. From Eve in the Garden of Eden, all the way to you and me, no one is exempt from experiencing failed dreams and dashed expectations. Not only do we find camaraderie in the common experience of disillusionment, but we can also find hope from the strength, peace, and blessing other women have experienced through their struggles. Within each story of disenchantment is a nugget of possibility. Of course no one’s story is exactly like yours or mine; however, there still exists in every woman’s story an element of hope that can inspire and encourage us.

[[[DESIGNER: PLEASE INSERT CALL OUT: Although your pain is personal, you are not the only one who has experienced pain.]]]

Personally, I gain strength from knowing other women faced similar disappointments and not only survived, but thrived. If you are like me, you are inspired by the stories of women who passionately lived the life they didn’t plan.Whether we are reading about women in history or present-day accounts, we are heartened to know that we are not the only ones who have faced insurmountable odds or a change in our life direction. Consider my friend Jan’s story.

Jan always pictured herself as the mother of girls. In fact, she still has her childhood Barbie collection, which she had planned to someday pass down to her daughters. But Jan wouldn’t trade her four sons for the world. She says the one word that describes her life is adaptation. Of course, adapting to four sons instead of having daughters has been a relatively easy adaptation to God’s plan, compared to adapting to the fact that one of her sons is severely disabled.

When Connor, her third son, was born, Jan and her mother, Dede, recognized that something wasn’t quite right. Although the hospital sent him home saying he was perfectly healthy, they noticed a few red flags. He didn’t cry, and although that may seem nice, Jan and Dede knew it wasn’t a good sign. Every feeding was a struggle, and Connor’s eyes didn’t track movement. Jan and her husband, Patrick, took Connor to doctor after doctor trying to find answers.

As Connor grew, he couldn’t walk or talk or feed himself. His full list of disorders includes cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, cortical visual impairment (brain blindness), microcephaly (small head), severe developmental delay, mental retardation, difficulty swallowing, low muscle tone, and immobility. Even now at twelve years old, Connor functions like a newborn, totally dependent on others. He cannot sit up, roll over, feed himself, or talk.

When Connor was two years old, the Wrights’ fourth son was born. With a special-needs toddler and a newborn who both needed full-time care, in addition to their other two sons, Jan soon became physically and emotionally overwhelmed. Each day she seemed to simply survive, trying to get the two older boys off to school and then care for the younger ones with little or no sleep. Jan had wonderful family and friends who helped, but she still felt like she was in the pit of despair with no answers and no hope.

Jan remembers one day when she walked into the restroom and looked at herself in the mirror. When she saw her haggard face, she thought, Who is that woman? Then in the quietness of the moment, she heard God’s voice saying to her, Are you going to let this kill you, or are you going to rise to the occasion and get on with your life? You have a husband who loves you, and your kids need a functional mommy. You have a lot to keep you going! She realized that her self-pity, anger, and grief were getting her nowhere.

Jan knew then that it was a moment of decision. Although she didn’t have all the answers, it was time to accept her situation and do the best she could do for Connor and the rest of her family. She began to open her eyes to God’s provision and to take positive steps forward. Jan recalls that she and Patrick decided they were not just going to survive this, but they chose to thrive in it. (In fact, Jan’s words became the inspiration for the title of this book.) They knew they were called to be more than conquerors through Christ.

Jan is honest about her emotional journey through her challenges. She says, “I definitely did not feel adequate. I still don’t. But here I am!” By relying on God’s strength day by day, she has learned to passionately live the life she didn’t plan.

They have endured hardships, but Jan and Patrick wouldn’t trade them for all the blessings they have received from having Connor in their family. The Wright family is fun-loving and joyful. They continually reach out to help other people, and their home is always filled with friends. The family bond is strong, and their trust in the Lord has grown deep.

Connor will never walk or talk this side of heaven, but his life is a blessing. He has brought joy to each member of his family. Their journey has been long and challenging, but they are thankful for the life lessons Connor has taught them. Jan readily admits, “I have always felt very ordinary. But I know the Bible is full of ordinary people God called and equipped to do something special.”

Jan didn’t sign up for the challenges she has faced, yet she has learned to lean on God through her journey. Day by day, God gives Jan what she needs to step up and passionately live the life she didn’t plan.

Jan learned not only to adapt, but to live victoriously through her unexpected life challenges. In this chapter, we will explore seven common disappointments women typically face in life. Now, I’m not saying that every woman has experienced all seven of these disappointments. Goodness, how depressing would that be? But these seven are the most common ones women experience in life. Most likely you will be nodding your head as you read, saying, “Yes, I can relate to that one, and to that one, and boy am I glad I haven’t gone through that one!” My purpose here is not to open up your eyes to how miserable you really are, but to help you identify your struggles and recognize you are not alone.

So let’s jump in and identify the big seven. Keep in mind, we are not going to deal with how to overcome the disappointments in this chapter (that’s what the rest of the book is about); we are simply identifying them.

1. Disappointment with Marriage

Whether you are single, married, or single again, you have probably discovered “living happily ever after” occurs in our favorite fairy tales but not in reality. If you have been married at least a year, you undoubtedly have learned that your husband is not quite the “knight in shining armor” you thought he would be. If you are not married, you may be longing for that special man to come into your life.

Disappointments in marriage include issues regarding finances, personal frustrations, indiscretions, and incompatibility. Maybe the good-looking guy you married in college turned out to be a lazy bum or a flagrant spender and ran you into serious debt. Or your Mr. Faithful turned out to be Mr. Flirt. Or your attentive boyfriend turned out to have the sensitivity of a barn door once you were married.

People surprise us. Sometimes they change, and sometimes they are just plain different than who we thought they were when we married them. Let’s face it, marriage is not as easy as we thought it would be. Through our disappointments in marriage, we can still see God’s hand at work. Ultimately, we want to continually enrich our marriage, so it can be the best that it can be beyond these disappointments.

Perhaps you are single, though you had hoped and planned to be married by now. Or maybe you planned to live the rest of your life with your husband, only to have weathered divorce or widowhood. Possibly you never thought of yourself as being a single parent, but there you are. Please don’t get me wrong; being single is not a bad thing; it just may not be the place you had planned to be right now.

2. Disappointment with Kids

When it comes to our kids, many of us experience frustration, surprise, or concern. Possibly you have a child who doesn’t fit into the delightful box society calls the “perfect child.” A disability or disease or defiant attitude may have changed the picture of what you always thought your family would look like. Whether it is a young, uncontrollable screamer or a teen running around with the wrong crowd, our kids, more than likely, are not going to be exactly what we envisioned.

When they are grown, our children may not marry who we thought they should, or they may not go into the type of profession we thought they would. You may feel the pain of their poor or sinful choices even when you taught them so carefully to do what is right. They may have distanced themselves from you or from your faith, and you never thought they would be so far away. Take comfort in the fact that God has a plan for your child’s life, just as he does for your own. I’m glad God loves us even though we do not fit in the “perfect people” box, aren’t you?

There is also deep pain in not being able to have children of your own. This, too, is an area of great disappointment and grief that many couples face today, and it is easy to lose hope. Waiting on God’s timing and watching others with their kids can be a terribly painful road. You may feel as though God doesn’t hear your cry for a child. This is a very difficult journey of faith: trusting God even when you don’t understand why.

3. Disappointment with Self

Have you ever met a woman who was perfectly satisfied with the way she looks? Me neither! Even the most beautiful of friends complain about their weight or complexion or hair or veins. You name it, there’s a lot to whine about when it comes to appearance. But our disappointment with self is not just limited to our bodies; it extends to many different areas of life. We can be disappointed with our emotional weaknesses or our lack of abilities, talents, or strengths. There are times we may become discouraged in the way we handle relationships or our inability to get the right job or our lack of discipline.

A woman is never at a loss on ways to be down on herself. In fact, we are champs at beating ourselves up mentally over past choices or mistakes. Let me assure you, if you struggle in this area, you are definitely not alone. Unfortunately, most women don’t reveal their self-disappointment in a typical conversation, and this tends to make us feel as though we are the only one who is unhappy with the way we turned out. We feel alone when it comes to how we view ourselves; yet if we were to expose every woman’s inner communication with self, we would find most of us have an internal struggle with confidence—some of us are just better at hiding it than others.

[[[DESIGNER; PLEASE INSERT CALL OUT. A woman is never at a loss on ways to be down on herself.]]]

4. Disappointment with Others

It is probably safe to say that someone has let you down at some point in your life. The fact is even the noblest of people will disappoint us because we are all human, and we are all sinners. Friends will frustrate us, in-laws will annoy us, coworkers will anger us, and neighbors will be unkind to us. It’s the painful truth about humanity. If you think you are the only person in the world who has been wounded by another person, think again. People have been causing pain to others since the beginning of time (remember Cain and Abel?).7 The question is not whether we will be disappointed by others, but how will we handle it when they do? Will we allow this disappointment to grow into bitterness and resentment, or will we live in the realm of grace, forbearance, and forgiveness?

Loneliness can be a byproduct of our disappointment with people. It can develop as a result of our own choice to distance ourselves from a hurtful person, or it could be a result of someone distancing themselves from us. You may have trouble connecting with people because you have been hurt in the past, or perhaps you have a tendency to be critical of others. Loneliness can be excruciating at times, yet God can comfort us in our loneliness through his presence and through his people. He can also use our loneliness as a catalyst to help us reach out to others and draw closer to God.

5. Disappointment with Circumstances

Do you feel like life is not exactly blowing you kisses? Circumstances beyond your control may have turned your seemingly happy life into a completely different scenario. I’m not sure any of us will ever be comfortable with the fact that situations can dramatically change, sometimes altering our dreams forever. A debilitating injury, a devastating hurricane, an unexpected layoff, an unplanned pregnancy, a cancer diagnosis, bankruptcy, cancer, addiction, divorce—all can lead us into a life we did not plan.

Financial disappointments can be a constant source of frustration and pain. Whether it’s a downturn in the economy, job loss, or personal mishandling of finances, challenges can arise for people at any income level. You may feel as though you will never get back on your feet again, or you may feel frustrated because you are not living at the level you always thought you would. Although life seems unfair and unpredictable, I want to reassure you it is also full of potential and possibilities. The path you are on right now may not be fun or glamorous, but God can give you strength day by day as you move toward the hope ahead of you.

6. Disappointment with Religion

If you are disillusioned by established religion, you are a part of an increasing number of individuals, both Christian and non-Christian alike. Many young people today don’t see the church as a place where Christ’s love is exemplified; rather, they view the Christian community as hateful and condemning. Sadly, in many churches, Christ’s message of loving others as Christ loves us has faded into haughty attitudes and hateful disputes.

As believers, we need to be a community that shows the world what Christ’s love looks like, beginning with the gospel and moving out to touch lives with compassion. The authentic church based on the foundation of Jesus Christ is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, many have been hurt by religiosity, whether it was a bad experience in a church, a not-so-faithful minister, or cruel students at a Christian school. Gossip, cliques, or judgmental spirits can also cause disillusionment with religion in general. You may have some scars that need God’s loving salve. As we take our focus off religion and put it back on Jesus, we begin to see the glory and goodness of his sincere love.

7. Disappointment with God

You prayed and prayed, and no clear answer came. Or worse, you prayed fervently, passionately, ceaselessly . . . only to have the situation turn out exactly the opposite of what you asked. You thought God loved you and would take care of you, but your life fell apart.

When disappointments like these come into our lives, we find ourselves asking, “Where is God?” Maybe you have shaken your fist at God in anger or given up on him completely. Perhaps you just decided to slowly distance yourself in your relationship with him, because you haven’t seen him show up. Disappointment with God comes in many different forms. Usually it brings with it a fair amount of guilt as the enemy whispers in your ear, How could you give up on God? What kind of person are you anyway?

Believe it or not, some of our greatest Christian leaders have had moments of doubts or disillusionment. Even in the Bible we see Job’s questioning and David’s hopeless feelings. John the Baptist sent a message to Jesus from his dark prison cell asking, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”8 Often disappointment with God results from not being able to understand God. We can’t comprehend that a loving, sovereign God would allow bad things to happen in our lives, so we question whether he is really there or whether he is who he says he is.

As we walk through this book together, I hope you will experience God in a new and fresh way. He loves you and has not left you. Understanding why he allowed something in your life will not change the reality of who he is and what he can do through your circumstances. Whether we understand why God allowed something or not, we do know his comfort and care is available to us in the middle of our pain, for Scripture tells us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”9

A Beautiful Weaving of Hope

I’m sure you could relate to at least a few of the disappointments listed above (okay, maybe more than just a few). The good news is that although our lives haven’t turn out like we thought they would, all is not lost. Situations that seem frustrating or difficult could actually turn out to be an opportunity to see God’s mighty and redeeming hand at work. Although we may not be able to envision the end result, God has a plan that goes far beyond what we can see.

Throughout this book, you will read stories about women just like you and me who have weathered the storms of change in their lives. In every story I hope you will see the hand of God carrying her along through her difficulties and leading her to new possibilities. Yes, God can use the twists and turns in our lives to lead us on a new journey. He may have a greater, eternal purpose that we cannot understand right now, and we may not fully comprehend it until we see Jesus face to face. The question is, are we willing to trust God and believe that he will bring blessings out of our pain? Will we trust him to deign a new life that may be more beautiful than we ever imagined? Or will we settle for mere survival—or maybe even less than survival—will we fall into discouragement, bitterness, and frustration?

Hope in God can turn disappointments into appointments to trust God. As the psalmist said in the midst of his sadness, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”10

Personally, I have found great encouragement from reading the words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who is known as the “weeping prophet.” Can you believe that? Encouragement from the weeping prophet! But I think you will be encouraged too. As Jeremiah grieved over the destruction of Jerusalem, he turned his eyes toward the day-to-day faithfulness of the Lord. Notice how Jeremiah’s discouragement turns into words of hope:

The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.

I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.

So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.”11

Will you dare to hope as Jeremiah did? As he grieved his loss, he also declared, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” Yes, his mercy is new and fresh each morning. My friend, as you walk this new and different road, seek God’s goodness and mercy along the way. Cry out to him for help, and trust his faithfulness to get you through one day at a time. Not one of us has been guaranteed a perfectly happy life. The Bible reminds us, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”12

We will experience challenges in our life, but God will not leave us. We may be called to persevere through trials and be patient in tribulation, but God can still bring hope. Perhaps you have wondered, Doesn’t God want me to be happy? Surely he doesn’t want me to be miserable. The truth is our hearts long for a lovely and happy life. We long for heaven. The Bible doesn’t promise us perfect circumstances here on earth, but it does offer us the opportunity to experience peace and joy through Christ.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in the book of Nehemiah. God’s people had just returned to Jerusalem and had gathered together to hear the reading of the book of the law of God. As they stood there listening to God’s words, they began weeping. Their hearts moved toward repentance as they opened their hearts to God. Nehemiah encouraged them, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”13

As we turn our hearts toward the Lord, his joy can be our strength as well. It is not a joy brought on by our circumstances or by people; it is a deeper joy that comes from the Lord. Jesus said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”14 Certainly God wants us to experience an overflowing joy; a joy that comes from abiding in him and walking in his ways. Life may not always be happy, but the joy of the Lord can always be our strength.

[[[DESIGNER: PLEASE INSERT CALL OUT: Life may not always be happy, but the joy of the Lord can always be our strength.]]]

Hope and joy are two words that seem to be woven into the life of Corrie Ten Boom. Although she spent ten months in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and suffered the loss of four of her family members as a result of hiding the Jewish people from the Gestapo, she had a strength that could only come from the Lord. Here is a poem she wrote as she experienced God’s hand at work in her life.

Life Is But a Weaving

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Corrie added, “We see the back of the embroidery, God sees the front! He knows how beautiful it will be.”15 The circumstances of your life may not look pretty right now. There are times you will feel afraid or as though there is no hope. But God has not left you. He has a plan he is weaving together in his faithfulness and love. Wait and watch, my friend. Continue to seek God’s help and ask him for his hope to fill your heart. The Weaver of your life is not finished his work in you. The life you didn’t plan may lead you to a new purpose and passion in which you will joyfully thrive.

Stepping Forward


You are not alone. God is with you in the midst of your discouraging circumstances.
Every woman has experienced disappointments to some degree in her life.
The following are the seven most common disappointments in women’s lives.
Disappointment with marriage
Disappointment with kids
Disappointment with self
Disappointment with others
Disappointment with circumstances
Disappointment with religion
Disappointment with god

Every disappointment can be turned into an appointment to trust God’s plan.
We are not entitled to a happy or misery-free life here on earth.
Great is God’s faithfulness! Day by day we can experience hope and joy as we turn our eyes toward him.
God is a redeeming God who is weaving a greater, more eternal picture than what we can see right now.

Passage: Psalm 139:7–18

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

Prayer: Gracious and kind heavenly Father, I praise you for your loving presence. Although I cannot understand why disappointments happen in my life, I can trust that you will love me and be with me to see me through. I know you will redeem my disappointment and use you for using the difficulties and challenges in my life to help me grow stronger. Thank you for the strength you give me through the process. I believe you have a bigger plan I cannot see. Help me to walk by faith and not by sight. I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Plan: Consider the disappointments you are currently experiencing in life. Take a moment to write them down in a notebook or even in the back of this book. Now prayerfully go over each disappointment, asking God to comfort you and give you strength. Write down the following verse, Zephaniah 3:17 (niv), on an index card and memorize it as you journey through this unexpected path.

The Lord your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will quiet you with his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.