Ten years ago today, my first child — only six days old — was sleeping soundly, as was my wife. I was exhausted too, but in the stupor of exhaustion, I decided to start a blog. My baby girl inspired my first blog post: “Six days into fatherhood, my baby teaches me a lesson about marriage.” And in the days, months, and years that followed, I continued sharing stories about discovering God in everyday life. Now, after 575 blog posts, essays, and/or online articles (plus a book!), I’m still writing.
It was a couple of days before Christmas and my wife wanted to go to the mall to do some extra Christmas shopping. I hate shopping — I’ve hated it ever since I was a kid. But that day, there was one store I wanted to go to more than any other.
My wife didn’t know what to expect the first time she met my dad, and I wasn’t sure how to prepare her for it. As I explained to Raquel, “My dad is like — I don’t know — this truck driver preacher who talks to everyone he meets. He’s kind of eccentric.”
This past year was a hard one for my marriage. My wife had to take care of me for a few weeks when I got extremely sick. I completed the final manuscript of the book I’d been working on for over a year (the book, which is about building a happy marriage, required me to rely on her heavily for insights and edits). Then I got a new job, which resulted in us selling one house, buying another, jumping through five temporary living arrangements and restarting our lives.
Most people haven’t had the opportunity to work with the book publishing industry and they don’t know how it works. I’m going to let you in on a secret: There’s a really, really important rule that all first-time authors have to live by (if they want to write another book).
Last week marked the release of Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage. The first thing people say to me is, “Congratulations!” Then this question often follows: “How’s it selling?” My answer to that is, “I don’t really know and I don’t want to.”
I had only been dating my girlfriend for three months when I decided to ask for her father’s permission to marry her. It didn’t go well — not at first. On a sunny Saturday morning, I sat across from her dad trying to make small talk as my omelet grew cold, but I couldn’t focus. My heart was racing and I just wanted to get it over with, so I went for it.
You want to know what makes a lot of authors feel insecure and uneasy about their work? It’s selling it. You spend all of this time and energy pouring your heart into writing something that makes a positive difference in the world — then you have to take your work and try to sell it to friends and strangers like it’s a box of Girl Scout cookies.
One day, my wife and I were listening to a playlist of Disney songs with our two little girls when the sentimental love song “I See The Light” from Tangled came on. I walked over to my wife who was in the kitchen, took her in my arms and started dancing with her slowly. I could tell it caught her off-guard and embarrassed her a little — it came out of nowhere. Thank goodness she stayed in my arms and danced with me anyway.
In all of my years of writing about relationships, there’s no story that has resonated with readers like the infamous baby monitor story. Here’s what happened: Early in our marriage, my wife, Raquel, and I got into a disagreement while visiting a family member’s home. We went to the guest room to hash it out privately but we had no idea how badly we were about to embarrass ourselves.
If you’ve been reading my writing for any length of time, you know that my goal is to find God in the ordinary of life — especially married life. There’s just so much material He has to work with. I spent 18 months writing my observations in a book called Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage. It’s being released on December 17 and you can find it anywhere books are sold — but I need to ask a favor: Can you please go ahead and pre-order it from your favorite retailer?
It was 9:20 a.m. on a Monday morning and I was about to appear on Fox and Friends for an interview with Steve Doocey. The interview happened after FoxNews.com published an op-ed of mine called “What happened when my daughter saw me kiss my wife” and it went viral. Two days later, I was sitting in front of a camera listening to Steve prep me for the interview. When the conversation began, Steve and I talked about the op-ed; but eventually, I shared how my wife, Raquel, and I had struggled for control during our marriage. I talked about the…
Today, I was in the car with my wife, Raquel, and the kids when she pulled out a package that had just arrived. “Go ahead and open it,” I said, knowing what it was. Raquel tore off the top of the envelope and pulled out the hardbound copy of Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage, the book I’ve been working on for over a year and a half. We came to a stoplight and Raquel handed it to me. I took a deep breath and opened the book, flipping the pages and watching the words…
I have never heard God’s audible voice before, but last year, He came pretty close. On Valentine’s Day 2018, my cousin was visiting from out of town, and after a family Valentine’s dinner, he made a random suggestion: “Have you ever thought about taking your articles about marriage and making a book out of them?” The idea seemed so far-fetched. My dad had just died, I was constantly drained from working overtime and I was depressed. But my cousin insisted so we kicked around some ideas for what a book on marriage might look like.
I grew up in the Deep South and in my family, there was an expectation that women should always be “ladylike.” That meant, in part, that a woman should never burp in front of others (seriously, I’ve never heard my mom do it). Another thing about the South is that the secret ingredient to 93 percent of entrees is grease, so if you’re someone who avoids fried foods, that requires building up a certain intestinal fortitude to digest the lard that permeates the Southern diet.