Yep, all week I have reviews and giveaways planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day. So, for those of you who get my blog posts emailed, I’m sorry. This’ll be a heavy email week, but I won’t send emails every day for the rest of your life. I promise!
As my apology, and to make it a little less painful, I’ll have the giveaways for you!
And our first book of the series… Bless Your Husband
They introduced our new secretary that evening. I don’t know if I caught her name in all the laughing and teasing because I spied something that told me I’d liked her already. “Plum Paper?” (I talk about my love for Plum Paper Designs planners and notebooks HERE and HERE).
She gave me a smile that lit up the room. “Yes!”
Kindred spirits all in the love of good planners and luscious paper. Anne Shirley never had it so good.
She was working on contemporary romance, and something told me, just by the way she talked about it, that it’d be good. I couldn’t wait to follow her journey.
We didn’t have her for long. Illness kept her at home. I prayed for healing. Tragedy struck. I prayed for a miracle. Grief struck. I wept with her as she wept.
I don’t think she knew it. And it didn’t matter that she didn’t.
A change came in the things I saw on social media, but I couldn’t put my finger on them. I just kept praying.
Have you ever seen something and thought, “God’s doing something here,” but you had no clue what it was? Yeah. That.
Then the news came. She had a book contract. For non-fiction! My anxiousness for her contemporary romance shifted to an eagerness to see what she’d write. She offered me a review copy, and I agreed. Of course, I did.
The book? Bless Your Husband.
My first impression was that of being impressed. It’s not just because the design team used my favorite color scheme or because I really love that the title is an imperative sentence (although both are awesome!).
Trying to quantify a reaction to a non-fiction cover isn’t easy, but it boils down to that it feels like Angela to me. With a book so personal to her and her journey, that only makes sense.
The box with the book, some promotional cards, and a delicious-looking cookie arrived while I was out of state. I didn’t know. I found it in my room weeks later when the cookie would have cured pneumonia, but wasn’t going to cross my lips. Since the launch date had passed, I had a choice.
Read now & post or save it for a special time when it would shine. I chose the latter.
What better time than Valentine’s Day to choose to learn about ways we can do our husbands “good and not evil” the rest of the days of our lives? For me, it’s extra poignant, because our wedding was four days after Valentine’s Day. Those who have excellent memories might find that a little off. After all, I got married in November, right?”
Yep. Married in November, wedding in February. Everyone has two anniversaries, right? Ahem.
Ten years into our marriage, someone gave me a book on how wives should behave to ensure marital bliss. I read it, and horrified is not a strong enough word for how I felt. In fact, I was so revolted in places that I read sections aloud to my husband. His response:
If you did that, I’d divorce you.”
Point of clarification: he was being facetious. I think. 😉
Everything a woman was to do was silly, inane, childish. Even worse, the ideas were designed to manipulate your husband into doing what you wanted. Disrespectful at best. Would this book be like that?
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How to Bless Your Husband for Valentine’s Day
Angela Mills writes in a casual, engaging style. Anyone who has ever spoken to her will feel her personality come across the page. In fact, several times it felt like she was just sitting there encouraging me personally.
Full of personal anecdotes, most of which will make you laugh, this book leads you on an easily-achievable journey to remind you to put that man you promised to make first in your human relationships… well, first.
Designed as a “challenge,” rather than a book to extrapolate lofty ideas from, Bless Your Husband has weekly and then daily goals and ideas to get your mind thinking in terms of remembering the little things and allowing them to build up into something big and beautiful.
Look, I live in the desert. I know what a sprinkling of rain does to our parched ground. If you’ve never seen it, you might not imagine, but that first raindrop hits and bounces off the soil. The second one does the same. Third… fifth… Fiftieth.
It’s why we have “flash floods.” When the rains begin, the water can’t soak in, so it tries to roll “down.” Wherever “down” is. Usually, a “wash” that will eventually intersect with a road and sweep unsuspecting cars away.
Desert dwellers know. If the heavens open and the rains descend… watch out!
However, when the rains come… and come… and eventually penetrate that hard, crusty surface of the ground, the latter rains will soak in. They can. It’s almost the opposite of say, an Iowa cornfield.
Relationships can be that way, too. If you sprinkle efforts into the crusty soil of a heart, sometimes those efforts bounce off and make no difference in the soil of that heart. However, if you keep at it… let those efforts go unappreciated and valued… keep going… something magical happens.
Eventually, it’ll seep in.
This is the beauty of Angela Mills’ approach. She doesn’t just give you twelve-steps to proving your love. She gives you an easily-applied set of ideas to show steady, consistent appreciation for the man we’re supposed to love more than any other man in our lives.
So often strangers get more consideration than him. Why is that?
In Bless Your Husband, Angela Mills becomes that older, Titus 2 woman, teaching us to show love to our husbands through small, non-intimidating, actionable steps. Once I realized that I dove into the book with gusto. And off I went.
The first week looked like it would be a breeze.
- Day one: take stock
- Day two: create a gratitude list
- Day three: your song
Uh oh. Um… we don’t have one of those. Still, the next two fit. I breathed easy again. After all, one lack of “our song” shouldn’t derail a whole process, right?
I can hear the questions. “Why would not having a song be that detrimental to a simple challenge? Just skip it!” Well, there was also a list of things… and in that list, it recommended recreating our first date.
Um… we never had one.
The challenges went on to recommend things like praising him, serving him like Jesus, and how you behave on social media. I should confess here that I did become concerned that it would be like that book from all those years ago.
So, I went and reread part of the introduction. The part that reminded us that this book is about us blessing our husbands because it’s right. Not because we want to manipulate him into being who he isn’t or because we want to “get something out of it.” I recommend anytime a reader starts seeing these challenges as a “to do” list rather than “to love” ideas, she just goes back and rereads that intro.
Here’s the thing.
I’ve read a lot of marriage books over the years. I’ve loved ones others hated and hated ones others loved. Generally, people get their noses out of whack when a book says to do something because it’s right and not to focus on whether the other party is doing what is right.
Anytime a book becomes about how my husband should be treating me (and is written to me as a wife), I run. Sorry, but the last thing I need is someone planting seeds of discontent in my mind. I have the world’s greatest husband, but, as Ms. Mills shows in comical anecdotes of her more “bratty” moments, those seeds germinate and sprout in a blink. No thank you.
But when a book, such as this one, focuses on my responsibility to my husband and leaves his responsibilities to me to someone writing for him, I know I’ve got something that is going to bless us both.
Angela Mills shows care and concern for our fragile hearts while still calling us to do what is good to our husbands. She doesn’t pull the punches, but she does often dress them up with flaming red hair, trademarked lipstick, and wacky antics a la Lucy Ricardo. I love her for that.
If you’re looking for an overnight fix to years of neglecting your relationship with your husband, this book isn’t it.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for an in-depth study on marriage that will dig deep into your psyche and unearth all the problems that keep it from being heaven on earth, this isn’t the book for you.
But if you just want to know that you’re doing something, if you just need confidence that you’re making an effort because you know it’s the right thing to do… More than that, if you feel like taking on a big project would smother you right now, this book might just be the thing you’re looking for.
Because, you see, with these simple little daily challenges of encouraging him to take time to spend with his friends, praying for him, or wearing something you know he likes… they seem so silly outside the context of all the rest (okay, praying doesn’t). However, piled, one on top of the other, they do something beautiful not only to your marriage, watering it until your relationship is saturated with attention, but they do something to you.
They reform your character, soften your heart, and even build your faith.
This is why implementing the ideas in this book is such a great Valentine’s gift. Because by doing something that requires the investment of four to six weeks (that’s a month to a month and a half!!), you make that gift something heartfelt and sincere rather than feeling like a “token” of a holiday.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;”
In a sense, this book is how to demonstrate 1 Corinthians 13 love for our husbands in the practical, ordinary everyday.
If you’d like to win a copy of Bless Your Husband, just leave a comment below and let us know the one thing that you like to do to bless YOUR husband or that you think you might like to or once did.
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