In Review

About the Author

Jennifer Jill Schwirzer has authored or co-authored 10 books and has published many articles that have featured in several magazines, including the Adventist Review and Liberty. She is an accomplished musician and over the last 30 years has recorded more than 150 original songs. Schwirzer holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling and has her own counseling practice. She is a frequent speaker at camp meetings and women’s ministries retreats.

13 Weeks to Love

The idea for Schwirzer’s latest book, 13 Weeks to Love: Allowing Jesus to Heal Your Relationships, came about as she was writing her previous book. “As I was working on 13 Weeks to Peace, it occurred to me that because God made us in His image of love and because love can’t be experienced alone, we can’t really be in sync with God’s design, and thus be healthy, without being in relationship. Right then and there, I determined that I would write a sequel. It would move the focus from healthy individuals to healthy relationships, both of which are essential and paradoxically intertwined.” 

13 Weeks to Love examines the universal hunger for love that transcends gender, age and social status. Beginning with the fracturing of relationship that occurred in the Garden of Eden, Schwirzer skillfully traces the fallout from Eve’s choice and shows how the resulting brokenness is not necessarily a bad thing — because of Jesus who promises to give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3, NKJV).

Schwirzer says, “We can’t be healthy individuals without relationship. Loneliness is on the rise and can increase mortality by 50 percent. That is comparable to the mortality risk of smoking, and it’s about twice as dangerous as obesity. We need a vital connection both to God and to our fellow human beings.”

13 Weeks to Love looks at many of our relationships: our first bonding lessons at birth; siblings and friends; dating, courting, engagement and marriage; and the relationship we have with one another in the church — as the body of Christ. It also explores healthy communication in the chapter "The Lost Art of Talking." Filled with helpful diagrams and well-resourced data, this book is also formatted as a workbook and can be used in a group setting. Discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter and, as in 13 Weeks to Peace, the "Toolbox" section at the end of the book provides an invaluable resource for readers.     

 

Excerpt: 13 Weeks to Love

Every fall the tomato plants in my front yard die a rather tragic death. Just about the time we gather the last few fruits, the leaves and stalks curl in on themselves, brown with starvation. I love a neat garden, but my husband tells me to leave the plant corpses to nourish the soil. Winter assaults them with cold and layers of unfeeling snow. By the time the warm returns and microorganisms multiply, the broken-down plants have begun to join the humus layer that forms the basis for new growth. The brokenness of one plant becomes the life of another. That is how the cross of Jesus works; His death becomes our life. He calls the church to flourish by that same principle. Through our brokenness, we nourish other broken people.

God designed the relationships that come to us along the life cycle as a school in which we learn to love and be loved. Through the years our bonds deepen and strengthen with each stage. The Redeemer-God is on the march every step of our journey to heal the wounds of the past and show us the way to love and be loved.

A Portrait of Jesus

The church is a marvelous, multifaceted community that, in God’s plan, elevates and blesses its members. But it is not all about us. It is about revealing the love of God through community. Heaven and earth watch longingly to see a portrait of Jesus in the human race. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV). Heaven and earth watch longingly to see a portrait of Jesus in the human race. Jesus Himself prayed “that they all may be one, an You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). Will Jesus’ prayer be answered?

Yes! This little planet, twirling in space, has become the focal point of a universe torn by sin. Can God heal the deepest of wounds? Can He bind the most estranged hearts? Can He transform the darkest curses? Our love one for another in Christ answers those questions with a resounding “Yes!"

Side Bar:

Special features include:

  • Discussion questions;

  • A "Toolbox" section at the end of the book contains additional material and worksheets arranged alphabetically. These include Biblical affirmations, breaking cycles, establishing empathy; the five Cs of choosing a life partner, Social Skills 101 and Walking With Jesus;

  • Room to take notes in the pages;

  • 13 chapters make it perfect for use in Sabbath School classes, small groups, prayer meeting, ladies' Bible study groups, etc.

 

Find 13 Weeks to Love

13 Weeks to Love is available at Adventist Book Centers everywhere, online at AdventistBookCenter.com, and can also be ordered on the toll-free line at 1 (800) 765-6955.

Karen Pearson writes from Nampa, Idaho, where she works as publicity director for Pacific Press Publishing Association. As a favorite part of her job, she gets to read all the great books reviewed here.

February 13, 2016 / Perspective
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