I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring you today’s book review. We were fortunate enough to be sent a review copy of Jennifer Smith’s Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband, a 30-day deeply-involved and extremely poignant marriage devotional. It is a perfectly compact marriage retreat in book form.
Jennifer Smith is a Christian wife and mother who blogs at Unveiled Wife. You can also find her on social media. She started out to share her struggles and healings from the early years of her marriage with other Christian wives.
She’s got email lists with daily prayers as well as new blog posts. I love that she’s brutally honest in her posts (and in her books!); for example, she says on her website’s biography page, “The first four years were wearisome, trying, heartbreaking, and even devastating.” To know that that’s where she started gives all the more credence to this devotional. She’s been in the trenches and has come back out the other side.
Did you happen to catch the post from a few Mondays ago, How to Keep Your Marriage Awake (When You’re Overscheduled and Exhausted)? We’re still both exhausted and time is definitely not just magically abundant right now. I know we’re not the only ones. Especially now, in this fast-paced, instant-gratification world, time is a precious commodity.
One of the major draws about Wife After God is that it’s designed to be a month-long, daily devotional. And, hey, if you choose a month with 31 days, you’ve got a built-in day to catch up on anything missed. Moreover, even though each day is packed with richness, the entire daily devotional won’t take you more than 15-30 minutes (depending on how studious, reflective, artistic, or into note-taking you are). I made it a part of my evening routine.
Yes. Yes, I’m fully aware that Catholics are Christian. This is not that discussion. This is that “does it align with Church teaching?” question that frequently arises when we’re handed highly-praised works by our Protestant brothers and sisters.
Though I’m not a theologian, I cannot see anywhere in Wife After God where the explanations and reflections offered by Jennifer undermine or conflict with the Catholic understanding of marriage. In fact, when I was reading the first few passages, I was amazed to see how much she was mirroring (albeit unconsciously, I’m sure) the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. As a Millennial and proud member of the JP II generation, that’s pretty awesome.
While I am not going to give away specific questions for journaling or specific reflections shared from the text, I am going to give you a very basic rundown of what you can expect on a given day.
Each day begins with Scripture (usually 1-3 verses). It’s followed by a reflection that’s simply called “Thoughts.” After that, there’s a prayer. Once armed with this spiritual fortitude, the day moves on to a challenge. These challenges differ throughout the devotional. Some of them are very easy to accomplish and others take a great deal of thought in order to implement. There are then some journaling questions, and nine times out of ten, they’re extremely thought-provoking. The day ends with a suggested social media status update, complete with hashtags. I actually love that part (again, I’m a Millennial!).
Bible journaling is HUGE here in Texas, especially among my Baptist friends in my mom’s group (more about that here). It’s truly beautiful, but we Catholics are still waiting for a reputable publishing company to take up the challenge of creating a New American Standard Revised Edition Journaling Bible. What has that to do with this book? Nothing on the surface.
Except…I am a note-taker and a doodler. I took this devotional time to sit down with my prayer journal and make notes and doodles, similar to the trendy Bible journaling, in my prayer journal. It helped me to connect even more deeply to the words I was reading, as I pondered the specifics of each sentence in order to journal it.
I am grateful for this book. While implementing the challenges and sharing the thoughts I uncover within the text, I noticed a difference in my marriage. I know that as a newlywed, you might be tempted to think that there’s no need for improving my marriage. Newlyweds and young marrieds, listen up: there’s always a need to strive to improve your marriage! Choose not to work on your marriage simply because it’s new or young, and you’re missing a great opportunity for early growth and early enrichment. You’re missing a chance to grow in intimacy and in holiness.
My husband deserves the best of me at all times. He won’t always get that, because I’m human, but daily I will do my best to give him that. There’s no shame in reading and utilizing wonderful, insightful devotionals like this one to help you along the way.
Do it. I’ve read through this book once and have reflected, spent time in God’s Word, and challenged myself. I’ll do it again. And again. I’m smart enough to know that each time will trigger a new reaction or make a new connection or have a different impact on my husband. I challenge you to buy this book today and get started. Not quite ready to take my word for it? You can get more information about Jennifer and the book here.
I am proud to say that I am a wife after God.