I have wanted to read this book for quite awhile and No Greater Joy graciously sent me a copy of the book in return for my honest review of it.
I grew up in a pretty traditional, rural-American household. I went to public school, my mom worked part-time, we always had a horse and a few goats or sheep around and a big garden. I had heard our pastor read the verses about the husband being the head of the household and didn't have a problem with that idea. I was surrounded by respectable men, my uncles, dad, grandpa... So I was surprised when I found the ideas presented in this book difficult to read. To get my head wrapped around. But I am finding myself so extremely blessed by it. I think the difficulty I had in reading it is that so much of what she says goes against what the world around us says. Whether or not I knew it I was still affected by our society, by the media, by my peers. But Debi Pearl shares freedom giving wisdom based on the word of God. And the world tries to sell us captivity, a wolf in sheep's clothing. It looks innocent but it's death on the inside.
I think that the book can be summed up by a sentence from chapter 12: By Divine Appointment
"God is focusing our attention on the heavenly pattern. The emphasis is not on women submitting to men, but rather on women showing, here on earth, the heavenly pattern of the Son submitting to the Father."
Reading the book
At times I found myself offended by this book. Like the part where she says that having sick kids, a new baby and starting to feel sick yourself is no excuse to neglect our other duties(dinner, getting dressed, cleaning). "ummm... Excuse me?" What is she talking about? If that's not a good excuse, what is? But she goes on to explain that doing a better job of planning will allow you to maintain even when life gets crazy and will be a blessing to not only your husband and children but to you as well. And in a way, it will prove yourself able to stand up to the test and be strong. So I decided to give it a go. Later in the book she talks about making a simple meal plan. How every week her mother used to make the same food on certain days. She gives a sample menu that includes her plans for how to prepare for the next day too. I decided to follow it exactly. Where she said put beans in the crockpot overnight to soak, that's what I did. When she said that an hour before supper I should go tear up some lettuce and set out taco salad fixings, I did that. And you know what? We have had some chaos recently (our house is for sale and we have had Open Houses and surprise viewings) and we still have managed to eat out very little! I'm not quite in the groove yet with this, but man is my life easier! I don't have to menu plan and I have one basic grocery list. After the first week, I did customize the menu to fit my family a little better. And now I know that everything on the menu will be eaten by everybody and I don't have to think up what to have for dinner. It's amazing!
And even though menu planning isn't necessarily "marriage" related, it's such a good example of the common sense way of writing that fills this book. I have heard so many times the advice to take care of your own attitude and problems first. And then your husband will change in response. But I don't think I quite understood how to do that. Mostly because my five minutes of working on myself did not bring about the desired change so I had to take charge again. You know... But in the book I ravenously read responses to letters she received like this one:
How can I have a merry heart when my husband treats me harshly? Do I just pretend he is a good man instead of a lazy TV-watching, selfish jerk? Do I just let him walk on me? How can I have a merry heart when all I feel is pain?"
You have two choices. You can doubt God and say, "I know God does not expect me to honor this mean man." Or you can say, "God, I know your Word teaches me to be a woman who is there to help meet all of my husband's desires and dreams. Make me that woman." God made you to fulfill this eternal vision. Until you embrace that divine plan for your life, your life will never make sense. You will always be struggling. When you finally let go and believe God, life will become so simple that you won't have to wonder what you should do. You will know. This eternal vision will change your mind, thus changing your actions, and, most importantly, it will change your reactions. Ask God for wisdom to become the very best help meet."Even in my half-hearted attempts to follow her advice I have seen such a change in our household. It's small, but there's been more joy in our conversations. More contentment in being together.
At the end of each chapter there is a summary of what was covered and often a challenge to go to the Word to see what it has to say. And the way she presents it lets you dig out the answers for yourself, not just go to a certain verse that she has pre-picked for you. I think this is vital to why this book is so helpful. She shares applicable help and then you go to God's word to hear him speak his will into your life.
There's so much to this book, I could go on and on. But I think it would be better to delve into this book for yourself.
Right now at www.nogreaterjoy.org you can get 25% OFF storewide if you order during November or December 2013.
You can also get a free subscription to their magazine at any time. I really like their magazine too. It's got lots of great stuff in it each time. I even save mine to re-read.
If you have read the book or plan to read it I would love to hear what you think!