May 012018 6 Responses

What the Last Year Has Taught Us

Six months before my book Friends, Partners & Lovers was published, I was introduced to a kind elderly lady. My friend who introduced me mentioned my book. Without hesitation, the person I just met said, “Oh, that’s going to be tough on your marriage.” Confused, I asked for clarification. She said, “If you want to feel like your marriage is under attack, write a book on marriage.”

It’s been a year since FPL published. While Jenny might think differently, this last year hasn’t felt like an attack on marriage or any part of our lives. It’s been an interesting year that’s taken us from LA to Toronto and a good number of places in between. During that time, one thing has become clear–I’m more convinced that the basic message of the book is important and can greatly influence a relationship.

Friends, Partners & Lovers was not written to be revolutionary. I’m not a research scientist uncovering hidden secrets. I’m also not a licensed psychologist proposing new ideas. As a pastor and writer, I’m simply in the unique position to see trends and discover different ways to convey fundamental truths. That’s the purpose of FPL. It was written to help young couples figure out what they are supposed to do in marriage. It was intended to reveal why some relationships are struggling and to give a basic pathway of how to begin the process to make it better.

The book isn’t perfect. Some don’t like it because it’s written through the lens of the Bible. The three roles are present in Genesis 2 and aren’t greatly changed by Genesis 3. Others dislike it because they don’t think it’s Biblical enough. I don’t quote chapter and verse with every point. If someone desires that, they should follow my YouTube page where each week I post my latest sermon. The book is simply intended to paint a picture of what marriage could be and to encourage people to start doing the work necessary to make it happen.

Twelve months into an eighteen-month book launch (yes, we still have 6 more months of the book launch), I hope the message is beginning to spread. If you haven’t purchased a copy yet, I hope you will consider. If you have read the book, I would greatly appreciate you writing a review on Amazon or encouraging your friends to look at the material. And of course, while we will spend the next six months promoting FPL, we are also starting to talk about the sequel, Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples who Laugh, Love, and Last. FPL looked at the “what” of marriage. Happily will consider the “how.”

Year One of FPL

As we’ve traveled, written, and spent the past year promoting the book, Jenny and I have learned many things. Here’s a few: (Jenny pointed out that only a preacher would consider a list of 16 “only a few.”)

1. Some people expect their pastor to write a book while others believe it’s a distraction from his real job. Good luck trying to please both.

2. When a new joke lands, Jenny has to prepare herself to hear that joke a lot. While in Maryland, I stumbled into a joke that killed. After the program, I went back to my seat and Jenny leaned over and said, “I’m going to have to hear that joke for the rest of my life, aren’t I?” I laughed and said, “Yes.”

3. When signing your book in a bookstore, get permission first. Some owners don’t like it and will make you buy your own book if you “destroyed it” by signing it.

4. Writing a blog and a book causes some people to assume your marriage is perfect. When they imply that, laugh hysterically. When you fail to communicate properly with your wife, prepare for her to say, “Didn’t you write a book about this?”

5. If you want to write a book, write one. But if you want to publish a book, you better like selling it. This process is more about selling than writing. Personally, I like the writing part better.

6. I hate assuming people have read the book, but I also hate repeating stories which they’ve already read. Half the time I sound presumptuous and the other half I sound repetitive.

7. Regularly, people who know me very well are surprised to find out about FPL or You Turn. They have no idea I’ve published anything. In those cases, I assumed they blocked me on social media. I don’t ask why.

8. A year later and Jenny still doesn’t love the title, but she hasn’t found a better word than lover. I think Friends, Partners & Paramours has a good ring to it. (See: Why Jenny Hates the Title of My New Book)

9. I’ll never forget those who have been supportive through this process. It has reminded me of how important encouragement is to everyone. I’ll also never forget some of the emails or private messages I’ve received. While criticism from people I know can be hurtful, harsh critiques from random strangers on the internet can be very funny.

10. I’ve been amazed at how vulnerable publishing makes you feel. A blog is vulnerable, but it can be deleted, changed, or hidden if you change your mind about something. The book is what it is and I can’t hide from it. I never realized how that would feel.

11. Radio and podcasts are a lot of fun, but I’m not made for TV. Every time I’m in the make-up chair, I start humming “Say A Little Prayer for You.”

12. I have some good friends. Many of my friends are so concerned with the book that they are quick to message me when the book isn’t in a store. They also love to show me what actually is in the store. Yesterday at a Lifeway, it didn’t have copies of FPL, but it did have anointing oil, Christian flags, and three books about President Trump. While my friends are concerned when a bookstore doesn’t have FPL, I’m quick to remind them that probably means the store is simply sold out.

13. I have some great friends. My great friends are quick to send me pictures of the book in the number one spot in bookstores. Of course, number 1 is subjective and the way I end up there is because my friends decide to put me there before taking the picture.

14. My favorite thing to do in a bookstore is to take FPL and put it as close as possible to 50 Shades of Grey. I figure its worth a shot that if people are going to read books that could hurt their sex life, maybe they will read a book that will help it.

15. I’ve learned my love language is time….time on the bestseller list. Sadly, because the 5 Love Languages is so popular, I haven’t spent much time there. However, in the greatest examples of how statistics can lie, it is true that FPL sold more copies in its first year than Love Languages did in its first year.

16. During this year, Steven Curtis Chapman became a curse word at our house. Chapman and I shared a publicity team so any time my phone call wasn’t immediately answered by the team, I blamed Steven Curtis. Of course, they were quick to call me back and always oozed about how kind, funny, and great Steven Curtis is.

What’s Next

The rest of this year promises to be full. In two weeks, my first national radio interviews in the US will air. (If you missed my appearance on Canadian TV, you can catch it here.) Happily is in final edits. Jenny and my high school English teachers are praying for the proofreaders because they know how big their task is considering my “creativity” with the English language. The rough draft of the next book is written and is with the publisher. My plan is not to write much this summer and then pick a topic for the next project in the fall.

Thank you for reading. If I can ever be of any assistance to you or your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I read every comment and email.

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