My wife’s first (and she says “only”) book, Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demandsis officially released today.

I say it’s Shona’s book because although it’s also got my name on the cover, it really is her story. We are co-authors but not co-equal authors. So how did that joint authorship work and how does the content of Reset for men relate to Refresh for women. What bits did I write, what bits did Shona write, what bits did we write together, and how can you tell the difference?

Having looked at various jointly authored books, we decided against writing Refresh as “we,” because it’s for women and, well, I’m not not a woman! We also didn’t like the idea of switching from “I (Shona)” to “I (David)” whenever we used material from Reset. That just seemed awkward. Therefore, although we wrote it together, “I” (Shona) is used throughout. So what are the differences and overlaps between the two books? Here’s how Shona puts it in her book.

Similar Structure
First, the overall structure of the two books, the chapter headings and most of the subjects covered, are the same in both books. As David explained in his book, so much of the wisdom we have gained has come through many years of us living this together, suffering together, studying together, and counseling people together, so that our thoughts are almost identical. This similarity in structure and subjects should help husbands and wives who want to work through the books together to be on the same page, as it were, and yet also be able to identify important differences in the male and female experiences of stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Substitute Story
Second, in Refresh my story is substituted for David’s story. In Reset David told of how burnout just about killed him—twice. Throughout Refresh I replace that with my own painful story of how I slipped into a deep hole of depression and anxiety and how God is graciously delivering me.

Third, I feminized the manly parts. Although we initially thought that we could write a book for women with just a few tweaks of the man’s book, we soon realized that for all the significant similarities, there are multiple important differences in the female experience of burnout. That resulted in much more work than either of us expected, but we both agreed that it was important to make it as feminine as possible for maximum usefulness. The feminization also involved the addition of some sections that have no counterpart in Reset.

Surprising Experience
Although we were both a bit nervous about how to navigate a joint project such as this, as usual God surprised us and used the experience to draw us closer together and give us an ever-deeper appreciation for the beautiful complementarity of husband and wife in God’s plan for marriage. Near the end of writing it, we celebrated twenty-five years of marriage and found that writing Refresh had been a wonderful reminder of God’s goodness and mercy following us all the days of our lives. We hope and pray that you will benefit from the wisdom God has been pleased to teach us through the years and that what we have learned will refresh you, lead you into a grace-paced life in a world of overwhelming demands, and help you experience the healthy balance of grace motivation and grace moderation as exemplified by the apostle:

Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1, 2)