Tuesday, December 12, 2017

There's Room at the Table

I am grateful to be surrounded by so many women who are on the same writing journey as me. Some are published. Others are not. Some have agents. Others do not. But we’re all in this together.

Having been on cloud nine for the last month with the piles of good news for my writing, I am more aware than ever how wonderful my support system is (friends and family included!).

When I was about to sign with Hartline Literary, I texted back and forth with three trusted authors who are ahead of me on this journey, asking super personal questions about their agent relationship that fortunately didn’t offend them.

My amazing critique partner has been Wonder Woman these last several weeks, from helping me prepare contest submissions to helping me with revisions to my proposal and manuscript. She is truly a gift from God, given to me at the most opportune time, and I’m thankful for our growing friendship.

Working on the short story with my ACFW friends, I’ve encountered writers who aren’t yet published and maybe aren’t yet represented. I’ve answered emails and given advice (which seems so surreal to me, given that I don’t feel all that wise in this area).

And in the midst of these last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what an honor it is to support my fellow authors on this journey.

I’ve become friends with contest semi-finalists and finalists (both from Genesis and from First Impressions), with women who write in my same genre, who want a slot at the same publishing houses.

But it’s not a competition, and I’m grateful for the culture of ACFW that cultivates this attitude among authors.

It reminds me of a word the Lord gave me a long time ago—that I’m a daughter of inheritance, not a daughter of reward.

I don’t have to strive to earn favor from him. He’s already called me Favored One.

A kingdom mindset says there’s always room at the table for more—for all. So I don’t have to kick or shove my way to the top, fighting for my place. Instead, I can embrace all that He has for me and for others.

If you’re on this journey, too, let me know how I can support you.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Holiday Tips for your Marriage

The Christmas holidays are sometimes stressful for marriages, not only because in-laws and travel are added to the mix but also because budgets are usually stretched further, as we spend more money for gifts, especially if you have kids or large extended families.

We recommend three tips to ensure the holidays don’t stress your marriage:

1. Get on the same page. Communication is always essential in marriage, but especially at this time of year. First, talk through your travel plans in advance—and make sure you talk to your spouse before you commit to being at Grandma’s house on Christmas morning. Even if you always do the same thing, this year be intentional about ensuring that your Christmas plans are what you both want to do. In doing so, you give honor to each other. Second, communicate about your spending plan for gifts, which leads us to number two…

2. Make a budget. Finances are often cited in the top three reasons for divorce, and this time of year is no exception. I’ve said before that most marriages have a saver and a spender. Whatever role you usually play, be sure to talk to your spouse about your spending plan. Howell and I make a list of everyone we buy gifts for, and we budget an amount that we’ll try to spend on each person. It’s not always a perfect system, but it at least gives us an idea of what our account balance is going to look like at the end of the season.

3. Take a break. It’s okay to take a time out from family and events. Save time for each other. If you’re at the grandparent’s for the weekend, ask them for two hours so you and your spouse can have a movie date. Even if it’s just to escape for a grocery item or a sonic drink, take a break for some alone time with your spouse. Whatever your love languages are, don’t starve each other from much-needed deposits into your love banks just because you’re surrounded by family for days or weeks. You spouse is still a priority!

This season doesn’t have to be stressful for your marriage. After all, we’re celebrating the birth of our Savior. Emmanuel—God with us. What a privilege to know we’re never alone, and we’re never too far from His grace and love. When it feels like too much, when the stress is too high, and the checking balance too low, remember the reason for all we celebrate this year. Jesus came down—what a gift to us!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season with your family and loved ones!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Are You Signed Up?

On Friday, I'll send my December newsletter with subscribers--and share a BIG announcement about my writing journey. :)


If you're not signed up, there's still time! Simply click on my website link above and enter your email address in the box in the top left corner.

Thanks for sharing in my joy!

Monday, November 20, 2017

As if unto the Lord

When I’m writing on marriage, I often talk about the conscious effort that must be put into it to have a great marriage. They don’t just happen. I always call this the best work, and it’s rewarding because I put the effort in, but so does Laura.

For some reading this, though, it feels like your efforts aren’t paying off. You’re doing the right things, you’re really trying, but your spouse just isn’t responding or putting the same effort in. You’re loving, respecting, and honoring, and they aren’t. It can be frustrating, and you might even feel that it isn’t worth it after a while. Let me tell you, though, it is worth it because it’s the right thing to do. We serve a big God, and He does work miracles. Sometimes, His timing is just different than our timing.

Ephesians 5 instructs both spouses in how to love and respect one another. It doesn’t say to do this if your spouse does that. In this passage, Paul instructs husbands to love wives as Christ loved the church and wives to respect husbands. These are ways to live, whether we see a response or not. However, I believe if you give it long enough, you’ll see a response. It may be small at first, but God will do a work through you to change your spouse. It doesn’t happen quickly every time, but where there is basic goodwill, change can happen.

Don’t you want to live every area of life as He has called us to? We read our bibles, and we try to live by the principles it teaches. Marriage is an area, like any other, where we can see a huge impact in our lives and the lives of our closest loved one by living out the principles taught by the Word. Marriage, as unto the Lord.

I encourage you who are feeling down, those of you who are honoring and loving your spouse, but haven’t seen those things reciprocated: Hang in there. Keep doing what is right. Keep loving, keep respecting. You got married for a reason, and you can still have a great marriage. I pray that God does a work in your marriage today!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Swinging Pendulum

Sometimes I feel like my life can be described in two modes—dieting or not dieting.

Do y’all know what I mean?

I’ll start a diet and count all the numbers and say No to all the yummy things, and then I’ll get down to a weight—maybe not my goal weight, but I start to feel good about myself, and those jeans aren’t so tight now, and so what would it hurt to throw in a cookie with my salad. I was healthy. I deserve a little treat, right?

And then BAM. Let the backsliding begin.

A little treat becomes a lot of treats. They’re oh so good. And my jeans still fit, so what’s the harm?

But before I know it, I’m back to that weight, the number that’s like my attention-getter, and I hunker down into serious mode, and everyone around me knows—okay, folks, it’s time to diet again.

No, sorry, I can’t eat your delicious dessert. I’m dieting.

Sorry, I’m not eating bread. Thanks.

And I tell myself, when I start to get back to that “Yeah, this is good” weight I will keep eating like this. It’ll be a lifestyle. Because I feel so much better when I eat the good-for-me food. And so of course, I’m going to stick with it this time.

But then we get invited for Mexican food. And yeah, I should order the taco salad, but man, there’s queso and those enchiladas…..

And voilĂ . The cycle repeats. It’s like Dr.Eggerichs’ crazy cycle but instead of love and respect, it’s salad or lasagna.

So, can I be vulnerable, friends? (Yeah, more vulnerable than just confessing what my nutritional cycle looks like on an annual basis. Ha!)

This journey with infertility feels a little like my diet cycle.

Although instead of ‘dieting’ or ‘not dieting,’ it sometimes feels like faith or fear.

I’m full of faith, completely believing that God has good things for us, that we’ve heard His Word on this, that I’m healed and whole and completely capable of bearing children.

And then there’s one little slip up. Like that cookie I eat with my salad.

Maybe I really thought I’d be pregnant one month, but I wasn’t. And instead of running to my good Father with my heart, I protect it. Just a little.

Then a small lie creeps in, a quiet voice that tells me it’s my fault. If I’d had more faith. If I’d done this or that (or not eaten all. the. bread.), then maybe we would’ve gotten pregnant this month.

And then that little lie blossoms into more fear, more doubt.

Before I know it, I’m not just protecting my heart, I’m full-blown hiding it, avoiding the topic, the prayers, the declarations of faith altogether.

But it’s harvest season again. This time of year does something to my heart. I told you last fall how inspired I felt by the neighboring farm, ripe with cotton to harvest.

Our farmers plant seeds, in faith, and expect to see the fruits. They hope for what they cannot see. But they believe—

That God provides.

That God is good.

That God creates and sustains all things.

So here I am—driving by bolls of white cotton every day—and I’m reminded of the faith that He deposited in me, of the promise He’s given me, over and over and over again.

“He makes the barren woman to be the joyful mother of children.”

Dr. Eggerichs talks about how the crazy cycle in marriage is not something we ever stay off of completely, even in the best of marriages (can you tell we’re leading this marriage life group, and I’ve got Love and Respect on the brain?). He says the goal is how quickly you can recognize that you’re ON the crazy cycle and get off it.

Maybe that’s the application here, too. It’s probably unrealistic to think that I’ll be full of faith all the time. Never doubting. Never struggling to believe. Never weary.

But when I get in that place, I’ve got recognize it and get off the cycle quicker.

How about you, my friends?

Maybe it’s not about fertility for you, but is there something you’re believing God for? Is there a dream He’s placed in your heart? Do you battle with fear and doubt?

Let’s recognize when we’re headed down the path of lies and speak truth to our hearts once again.