Wednesday, August 22, 2012


In my attempt to fill my mind and heart with wholesome things, I read several Christian blogs.  One of them is Christian Women Blogging on, and I urge you to check it out.  Several women of varying backgrounds share how they live day to day as a Christian woman, as well as devotionals and Bible studies.  One of the authors is Ms. Julie Cosgrove.  We'll be sharing a guest post from her in the near future.  You can find her website at  In my communications with her and with the Christian Woman, I have found that she is also a fiction writer.  She recommended I read a novel of hers called Focused.

This book is about a middle aged woman named Christina and her journey to accept herself and her husband as empty nesters.  Like many couples, after her son left home, she and her husband often felt like ships passing in the night.  To compound the problem, her parents had died a few years before, leaving her feeling emotionally raw and adrift on a sea of routine.  In the beginning of the story, Christina and her husband, Jeff have a non-fight (I definitely related with that term!), and she decides to call in sick to work and visit her family's old summer home in the nearby Texas hill country.  While there, a major storm causes flooding that strands her.  She receives some help from the elderly neighbors she grew up with, not knowing that their son, her old beau, is also in town after his recent divorce.  At this point, I got nervous.  There is little I hate more than infidelity, and I was afraid the author was going down the road to adultery.  I don't think it will spoil the story too much to tell you that Christina remains faithful to her husband throughout the book.   

During her time in the hill country, Christina does a lot of thinking and decides to change her life, including her relationship with her husband.  Jeff also does some thinking while she is gone, and it appears that their marriage will be happy once more.  Except that in a moment of muddy thinking, Christina invites Bud, the old boyfriend, to stay at their house while he looks for a job.  Bud doesn't call first.  The rest of the novel explores how Jeff and Christina deal with their own marriage with the solid presence of an old flame in their home. 

There are several things I liked about the book.  Ms. Cosgrove has the ability to make you feel what the characters are feeling.  In fact, I had to put the book down several times in the middle simply because I was getting depressed!  Don't worry; the ending is happy, but it took some time to get there. That is another thing I liked about the book; it was very realistic.  Christina and Jeff fight (or non-fight) several times and make up again throughout the course of the book.  Although this honesty can make for some frustrating reading (can't they just get over it?!), it is much more like a real marriage than some books I've read.  Too many times plot lines of Christian romance books are too neat.  Real people do rehash the same arguments more than once!   

The best part of the book, though, is how the title, Focused, means so many different things throughout the book.  Christina has always lived as though the whole world focused on her.  She called it the fishbowl mentality.  She comes to the understanding in the book that she can't live her life worried about what other people might think.  She also realizes that her focus has been on the wrong things in life.  She was focused on herself too often, and it hurt her marriage.  She comes to determine that her attention does not to be on herself or even on her husband.  She needs to focus on God, and the rest of her relationships will fall into place.  There is also some over 40 humor in the title.  Christina has had a pair of bifocals for several years that she can't see out of well.  Buying a new pair of glasses serves to symbolize her ability to see everything in life better, not just her computer screen.   

Christina definitely made some choices that made me cringe.  I don't believe it was a good idea for her to invite an old boyfriend to stay in her home.  The Bible commands hospitality, but I think Jesus would draw the line at an old flame who still holds some attraction.  Christina also tends toward passive aggressive behavior.  When she is angry at her husband, she's liable to lock herself in the bathroom, turn on the shower, and ignore him.  Even her sister tells her she's being foolish there!  I decided to blame it on hormones.  I've done similar things, except that I react more aggressively.  I got angry beyond all reason yesterday when I found my husband had used all the quarters in the drink machine, and I didn't have one for the shopping cart at Aldi.  I guess I can be just as silly as Christina!

Overall, this book shows a realistic view of the journey of a couple back to intimacy of every kind. They have a lot of roadblocks in their journey, but this novel shows that hard work and commitment from both husband and wife can overcome many obstacles, even handsome former sweethearts, mood swings, and demanding jobs. 


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