This week we’re doing some early Christmas shopping. And for guys who usually wait until December 24th to shop for their wife, this is early-early Christmas shopping. But we’re hoping that with the extra time you’ll have from getting your shopping done early, you’ll have more time to serve your family and enjoy the day.
To get started, here are three personal favorites that would make an excellent choice for every wife, no matter what season of life she’s in. Plus a fourth that you’ll have to resist the urge to buy for yourself.
#1 – The Gospel Primer for Christians
By far, the book that has impacted my life more than any other this year (apart from God’s Word) is a tiny volume called The Gospel Primer for Christians. I first saw the Primer featured on GirlTalk, next heard it recommended by my pastor, and purchased it at our church bookstore later this spring. The description on their website says it well, “The Gospel Primer is a handy guide designed to help Christians experience the gospel more fully by preaching it to themselves every day.”
Through a busy year of settling into a new city, homeschooling, welcoming a new baby, and serving my family – this book has been at the top of my reading stack. I love its small, portable size, and the spiral binding makes it easy to read at the gym, while feeding a baby, or even while stuck in Minneapolis traffic. (I wouldn’t recommend the last one, however.)
Because every Scripture reference is printed as a footnote on the same page, I can grab this one volume to feed my soul with the pure milk of God’s Word, solid theological teaching, and meaty personal application. Some days, I would only read one page, or only one paragraph – but it always inspired me to meditate upon God’s word throughout the day.
Your wife would be blessed by having this helpful volume on top of her reading stack, too.
Find it from Cornerstone Fellowship Bible church here.
Gift-giving ideas: Since this book is quite affordable, it fits almost every budget (and is even downloadable from the CFBC website). You could also include it as part of a larger gift, like tucked in a new handbag or wrapped up with a Journaling Bible or LSB (see below). Thoughtful bookmarks would include a Starbucks gift card, or a coupon for free babysitting so she can get a quiet moment away.
#2 – The Valley of Vision
After being up through the night with a new baby, many mornings it is difficult to organize my thoughts in prayer. Let’s just say my mental capacity is often far below the likes of Owen and Calvin – to something more along the lines of Blue and Barney.
But I don’t think that malady is reserved only for tired mothers. All of us have days where the words come slowly, or prayer seems rote. The Valley of Vision has been a tremendous means of grace in teaching me how to pray through these days.
Simply reading the thoughtful, Cross-centered prayers from faithful saints has helped me to identify areas to grow in my own approach to the throne of grace.
Gift-giving ideas: Tony knows of my fondness for the VoV, and last year kindly gave me the spoken CD version – along with the Sovereign Grace “Valley of Vision” music CD (where 12 of the prayers became the basis for incredibly Cross-centered, worshipful songs). Then we made a custom “mix CD” that merged the two. We took the audio prayers, and inserted them before each of the corresponding songs. (The CD jacket in the Sovereign Grace CD lists which prayer each song was based upon.) We have already worn out one copy of this CD, which we’ve kept in the car for some incredibly sanctifying road trips and surprisingly spiritual grocery runs.
#3 – A New Bible
Some long-time TSS readers might remember the small Bible project Tony started for my birthday two years ago. The “Blank Bible” was originally intended as a gift for me, and I still have the trial version he made which I treasure.
When Tony developed the new-and-improved blank Bible design, however, somehow my name got put on the “backordered” list.
Tony made up for the backorder, and I received two new Bibles this year. First, Tony gave me a copy of the ESV Journaling Bible, and that is the one I have used most this year. The wide margins are helpful for note-taking and personal reflection. It’s much more portable than the 4-volume blank Bible, too. (Find Tony’s review here.)
More recently, I got in on the excitement surrounding the new Literary Study Bible and received a copy from Tony. (Find his review here.) We’ve talked about going through the reading plan together next year, which is an area where you might like to encourage your wife. Setting aside just a few minutes a day to talk about what you are reading is a practice that is a blessing for many couples we know. For now, I’m following along the reading schedule (albeit a few weeks behind) in the LSB, but still taking notes in my Journaling Bible.
Gift-giving ideas: Present your wife a new Bible, with a personalization that shows your love and care for her. Select a few of your favorite verses, and write in the margins why they are meaningful to you. Include a personal note in the front of the Bible, and perhaps a favorite picture of your family together. Your wife knows how busy your day is, so the extra time you take to personalize her gift means so much.
#4 – an iPod
As many of our friends know, we are a Mac family. So I hesitate to include this last category for fear that it shows our partisanship to our
better than Windows chosen computer. So the first disclaimer, right off the bat is: Any mp3 player or electronic media is fine. And the second disclaimer is: Yes, I admit this recommendation is not a book. But it’s still an excellent gift for your bride.
Almost four years ago, Tony surprised me with a new iPod for a combined birthday-anniversary gift. To this day, it is one of the most-used gifts we own. In fact, Tony uses it almost as much as I do. And it really has proved to be a valuable means of grace in our lives. We both use it at the gym (just not at the same time — Tony prefers to do his Jazzercise alone), and it turns our workouts into precious time for meditation upon spiritual truth. It keeps us moving on road trips, and we listen to it daily at home. Even the kids have their playlists, from Narnia to Potter (the Beatrix one).
One way we are using the iPod lately is with a common “sermons” folder, where we each place favorite sermons from the week. It’s fun to see what the other is listening to, and to share in each other’s listening gems as time allows.
Although an mp3 player can be a bit of a stretch to the Christmas budget, they are becoming more affordable. Our four-year-old black and white flywheel model works just fine, and we recently pre-loaded a new Shuffle (these start under $100) for Tony’s dad with dozens of great sermons that he listens to all day at work.
Gift giving ideas: If you decide to invest in a new mp3 player, try to have it ready to play for your wife when she opens it. Pre-load it with sanctifying sermons and gospel-centered music. The Sovereign Grace store is an excellent place to start, where you can choose a song-at-a-time from the Songbox, and download hundreds of great sermons for free. Even without an iPod or mp3 player, you can take the time to choose a few songs and sermons for her and burn them to CDs. Your thoughtful care for her soul will be a blessing in any electronic form.
Ultimately, the best gift you can give your wife is not one that can be wrapped in shiny red paper and tied with a bow. Centering your home around the Gospel, loving her as Christ loved the Church, and faithfully serving her in humility and grace is a gift that will prepare her heart not only for the year ahead, but for a lifetime with her Savior. Most importantly, the price tag of the gift doesn’t matter, because the ultimate price for our sin has already been paid by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Loving her with this glorious Gospel is a priceless gift.
May God be glorified in your homes this Christmas!
Stay tuned this week as we serve up gift-giving ideas for: