Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Do you need a RECHARGE?

Last week we had a much-needed fall break on campus, and I was able to take a couple of vacation days to spend Thursday through Sunday with my family. We rented a house, and for the first time since I’ve been married (now going on nine years), we took a family trip together: my parents, siblings and spouses, and nephews.

We haven’t quite settled on a name for our now annual trip to Wimberley (we’re thinking reunion is over-used), but the tentative name is recharge (props to my sister for that ;)).

Y’all, my heart is full, and I certainly feel recharged.

I finished three fiction books.

I laughed until I cried on several occasions (literally, tears streaming down my face!).

I swam in 65-degree water with my three-year-old nephew because, well, he wanted to.

I started a short story.

And I got to spend real quality time with family.

Nothing makes me happier than some good ole quality time.

Perhaps my favorite memory is watching my nephew air guitar and sing during our impromptu worship jam while my brother-in-law made breakfast. (If I haven’t said so—you should buy the Pursue Worship album! It’s incredible!)


There’s a song on the Pursue album titled My Shepherd, and the chorus begins, “I won’t want for anything.”

Isn’t that God’s promise to us?

At this point in the semester, the craziness is cranking up. Piles of grading. Work events. Church events. And October is only the beginning—then it’s Thanksgiving, then Christmas.

“I won’t want for anything.”

Time. Energy. Provision. Grace. Strength. Patience.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He quiets my soul.”

Reciting that verse brings so much peace to my heart.

Friends—do you need to recharge at this moment? Do you need the Lord to take you beside still waters?

Whatever you’re facing today, this week, this month, He is enough. You’re not lacking anything you need in Him. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

R E S P E C T!

R E S P E C T!

Did you know that the iconic tune sung by Aretha Franklin was actually written and originally performed by a man (with slightly revised lyrics)?

You’ve maybe heard that a man’s greatest need is respect. In fact, I recently heard this stated so strongly that the person suggested a husband doesn’t need his wife’s love; he doesn’t need her to buy books or go to conferences to find out more tips for “how to love her husband.” What he needs is her respect.

If you’ve heard of Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s book Love and Respect, the above may be familiar to you. Howell and I are leading a marriage life group this fall that focuses on the curriculum from that text. Although I’m not new to Eggerich’s ideas, the importance of these truths seems more profound to me than ever.

I can remember the first time I encountered Ephesians 5:33 as a college student who was (though single at the time) thinking realistically about what it would mean to be a wife someday.

The Amplified version of that verse gives a tall order for wives: “…and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].”

Sometimes the idea that women should respect their husbands feels abstract to me—and I think, how do I actually do that?

We know what love looks like, right? Love is patient, kind, longsuffering, etc.

But what does respect look like?

I think the Amplified version gives us a good idea: Respect means to delight, prefer, care about, treasure, honor, and hold dear.

Howell and I have a little board that we write notes to each other on. We’ve done this for years, but recently (with the Love and Respect curriculum in mind), I’ve thought more about the content of my notes.

In the past, I’ve always just focused on sharing how much I LOVE Howell and what he means to me. But Emerson said that men want to be recognized for what they DO as an extension of who they are.

So, a few weeks ago, I wrote a note that said something like “You’re an incredibly hard worker. I am amazed at your work ethic—always going in early and staying late. I’m so proud of you.”

Do you know that he thanked me for my note probably fifty times?

To recognize his WORK, to recognize his accomplishment—that meant everything to him.

I encourage you, wives, honor your husband by meeting his greatest need: tell him not just that you love him, but how much you respect him, especially for what he DOES to provide for, protect, and lead you and your family.

I promise you he will respond in love!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Best Memories from ACFW 2017

Remember when I told you my last ACFW experience would be hard to top? Well, folks, I stand corrected.

I love that my hubs is always willing to go with me. I NEEDED him this time for sure. 

Whoot Whoot!

And apparently the ACFW conference has become the place where my most embarrassing moments happen—but unlike the last experience, which just made me blush a little, I’m still recovering from this year’s moment. It’ll make a great story someday, but it’s too soon to laugh about it now.

Although nothing will ever compare to that first-timer’s experience, the star-struck gaze and fan-girl feelings of being among the GREATS of Christian fiction, this year’s conference took me to a deeper level, a level that I needed to become more serious about this goal of mine.

You might recall it all started when I dared to call myself a writer (also here and here).

This time, it’s something more. It’s not just about a dream. It’s not just about one book.

I feel like I’m finally stepping into the vision that I have for myself to truly become a professional author, a multi-published (and hopefully someday award-winning, best-selling, etc. etc. :)) author.

I’m more eager to fight for it than ever before, and it feels attainable in a way it never has.

Perhaps sitting in a session with Susan May Warren and learning that she’s written 50-something novels in a little over a decade or taking a continuing ed class with Cara Putman and finding out she’s a lawyer and a professor and a multi-published author inspired me greatly. I don’t have to choose one or the other—and that is quite freeing!

So, as promised, here are my top five memories from the 2017 ACFW Conference:

1. Spending a few days with my virtual friend and critique partner. Y’all, I can’t say how much this woman blesses me! She is a gift!

2. Hearing an agent tell me that he doesn’t just like my story idea—but that he loves it. Wow. What an encouragement!

3. Re-setting my heart and mind during worship. For whatever reason this year, my emotions were all over the map. I felt discouraged before I’d even pitched anything—but Friday morning’s worship time gave me a full reset, and I left charged up and full of grace.

4. Making connections with published authors (and friends!) who are ahead of me on this road. I am grateful for their wisdom and their willingness to help me succeed.

5. Getting a second chance with an agent after what was a truly embarrassing moment! Again—it’s too soon (I'll tell you someday, maybe), but man, God sure redeemed my mistake. What a good Father!

If you attended this year’s conference, what were some of your favorite moments?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Can you see the gold?: Finding Goodwill in your spouse

Guess what? Your spouse has goodwill toward you. This is a concept that I just can’t get off my mind lately. I see so many people getting frustrated and eventually despondent toward their spouse because of misunderstandings and misguided ideas that spring forth from them. This probably seems really basic to the newlywed, but may be revolutionary to someone who has been married a long time. Your spouse really does genuinely want the best for you.

Many times, we view what our spouse does through the lens of how we might handle a situation. The truth is, you married someone very different than yourself. Whether that is just because they are of the opposite gender or because they have a different personality type, YOU ARE DIFFERENT. You see things differently, you address issues differently, and you view your own actions differently.

So many times we say, “If they could only see this the way I do…” Truthfully, they may never see things the way you do, and that’s a good thing. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says "And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Multiple perspectives strengthen a team. This is one reason a cord of three strands is stronger. 

It’s easy, over time and as tension mounts from offenses, to forget that the person with whom you share your life actually does care about you. We get frustrated and offenses don’t get resolved because we can’t see the other person’s point of view. This compounds on itself, and the cycle continues for years, until one day, one of you just can’t see the point anymore. In reality, the entire time, both people probably have the same long-term goals for their marriage….love, happiness, and peace.

If you’re giving up or on your way there, know that this is NOT God’s will for your marriage. He created marriage to last forever, and he created us to be married for life. That person you fell in love with is still there. They haven’t changed as much as you think, and you haven’t changed as much as they think. It’s time to have a real reset conversation. Lay it all out there. It might be painful, but it’s worth it. Be real, be honest, but most importantly…listen. Listen for their goals and their goodwill. Let them hear your’s. Great marriages take work, but it’s never too late to start.

If we can help in any way, click on the "contact us" link at the top of the site. We'd love to chat with you.


Monday, September 18, 2017

ACFW Pre-Conference Mingle

On Thursday, I'll head to Grapevine for the Association of Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. In addition to getting to see my brother and his wife, I'll also get to learn from the best in the industry, meet with editors and agents, and connect with other writers who are on this same journey. To say I'm ecstatic is an understatement. :)

Award-winning author and writing friend, Laurie Tomlinson is hosting another pre-conference mingle on her site. Below are my responses. If you're attending, be sure to post your answers on your own site and link back to her page here.


Name: Laura Brandenburg

Location: West Texas

What you write/tagline/trademark: I write feel-good Southern love stories of redemption, forgiveness, and faith.

Place in the book world: Unpublished author seeking representation.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Definitely a hugger!

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? I usually get either a caramel latte or an Americano, breve with Splenda.

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Football, Gilmore Girls, grammar rules, and books by authors I love. (Kristen Heitzmann and Charles Martin are my absolute favs.)

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My hubs is coming with me (yay!), but we'll be leaving our surrogate kids behind: an 80-pound Weimaraner and a rescued Wheaten Terrier.

Conference goals we can pray for? Pray for opportunities to make new friends and establish good connections and for favor with agent/editor appointments.

Anything we can celebrate with you? The book I'm pitching won first place in the Ignite the Flame contest last year for the Inspirational Romance category, and it semi-finaled in the Genesis Contest this year.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can connect with me on Twitter or Facebook and subscribe to my blog, Obeying the Call.  

I hope to see you in Grapevine! Remember to link back to Laurie's page if you're participating in the mingle.