Monday, October 15, 2018

Important Moments

I’ve talked before about being present in your marriage, but it's on my mind right now. In the days of smartphones and Facebook, it can’t be emphasized enough. Our society is heading in a direction where quality time is just not a priority. I want to be specific in encouraging you to be present today. Be present in the moments that matter. Be present when it’s most important.

This week, I was spending some time with Laura when we had a long drive, but it seemed like everything was going wrong at work without me there. To be honest, I worked more than I had to. To be even more honest, I didn’t help solve the situation at work very much either. I just wasted an afternoon. This wasn’t one of those important-times-that-I’ll-remember-for-the-rest-of-my-life moments, but it got me to thinking about them.

As I’m writing this, we are at a family retreat for Laura’s family. It’s one of those times when we’ll make memories that actually do last a lifetime. We have nephews and grandparents and everything in between. I got to thinking about times in my life when I haven't been present for those moments. A phone call comes in or a work emergency presents itself. Has that happened to you?

Every day, there are moments with our spouse or family to cherish. These are times we’ll never get back, and we may never get to have again. Only God knows what tomorrow holds. Don’t be the absent dad, mom, husband, or wife that only got to see the video. There is no replacement for the best of memories. Be there for all the “remember that one time” that you can.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Letter to the Not-Yet Mom

To the Not-Yet Mom from a Not-Yet Mom:

I’ve been on this not-yet journey for seven years, and I was thinking recently about how much pressure I have felt—and sometimes still feel—about all the things I could “do” to make this desire in my heart a reality. (As if I am sovereign, and He is not.)

Do you ever feel that way?

Well-intentioned people will have plenty of suggestions about what you could or should do, like stay away from plastic, gluten, dairy, sugar, diet drinks, and so on. Or they'll suggest a variety of products, vitamins, regimens, etc. because of someone they know who did X or Y, and SHE got pregnant.

That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the fertility conversation—what doctor to go to, what hormones to take, what procedures to do.

Here’s the truth: People mean well—they really do. And for the most part, they don’t know what to say or how to help, so they fall back on what they know or have heard, especially if they haven’t actually walked through infertility.

But friends, can I be real with you?

It’s way too easy to get sucked into the “if I do this, then” trap.

Bottom line?

Women get pregnant every day—because God opens their womb and causes them to carry a baby.

The Bible is very clear that God creates and sustains life. No one else. Nothing else. Period.

Read your Sarah stories and Rachel stories and Hannah stories and Elizabeth stories. Want to know why they conceived? Because God opened their womb at the exact moment, at the exact time He said He would.

I’m not saying you can’t take the pills and eat the diet—or even that those things don’t help. (Trust me, I've done them—and am doing them.)

But what I want for you, and for me, is FREEDOM from the pressure that we have to do or be or say just the right things to MAKE this happen in our bodies.

Be prayerful about what you do or don’t do—but the only voice of wisdom you have to hear from is God’s. And fortunately for us, He’s promised to give us wisdom anytime we ask for it (James 1:5).

Rest, my friend, in God’s goodness and in His perfect plan. I know the LAST thing you want to hear right now is to wait on His timing. Believe me, I went through a season where I loathed the phrase. But it’s the truth—He knows what He’s doing.

I’m here if you need me. And I’m always praying—for you and for me.



Monday, October 1, 2018

Brag much?

Do you want to make your spouse feel loved?

Of course you do! I think most married couples desire to demonstrate their love to each other, but sometimes the problem is knowing how to make your spouse feel loved. That's why books like The Five Love Languages stay on the bestsellers lists (and if you've never read it, I'd highly recommend you do).

But I was thinking this morning about one way to make your spouse feel loved that is perhaps a universal love language:

Brag on your husband or wife--in public!

This is something I think Howell does really well. Last week, I shared with you about my experiences at ACFW. I've had some people ask me if I knew I was going to win the award beforehand because Howell was already filming before they announced it.

Nope, I definitely didn't know. And neither did he, except in his gut.

Not only did he capture the moment on video, but he started sharing it with all our friends and family--and eventually on Facebook.

On Monday, he came home and was talking about how he'd showed the video to his coworkers.

Y'all, my heart floated right out of my chest.

He was bragging about me? And my Christian fiction romance book? To a bunch of men? At work?


I know this demonstration of love goes both ways. When I brag about Howell to my friends or in front of him, it makes him feel loved and respected.

It's a small thing, but it means so much. This week, be mindful of moments when you're in a group with your spouse--and then take a second to brag.  You'll fill your spouse's love cup. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

That's a Wrap - ACFW 2018

Another great ACFW conference is in the books. I will try to hit the highlights like I do every year post-conference (see 2015 and 2017), though I am not sure I can do them justice this year.

1. Debbie Macomber delivered our keynote sessions, and y’all she is as cute as her Hallmark movies. While I’ve read a few of her series, I did not know much about her personally, and I so enjoyed her transparency and humor and heart for the Lord.

2. Liz Curtis Higgs received the Lifetime Achievement Award and led part of the workshop track I attended on Friday AND showed up at our Hartline Literary Agency dinner on Friday night (her hubs is represented by Hartline). I tamed my fangirl feels (I think), but I did manage to sneak not one but two pictures with her! Ha!

3. As always, I learned A TON! But my two favorite sessions: getting to hear from the editors at three different publishing houses talk candidly about expectations and preferences and attending Julie Gwin’s session on proposals. I still have much to apply, but I’m grateful for the knowledge!

4. Every year, I make new friends, and this year was no exception. I’m grateful for the catch-up time with my critique partner and the new friendships formed—some of which were social media friends I finally got to meet in person.

5. The Gala must be mentioned because it was so fun! My agent won Agent of the Year, and the shock on his face was priceless. He is a humble man, but so very deserving! Tamera Alexander sat at our same table, and I got to see her win not one but two Carol awards. And I’m still pinching myself two days later that I won the Genesis for the Short Novel category. What a dream come true!

My hubs went with me to Nashville, and even before we left, he kept asking if I was going to prepare an acceptance speech. I dismissed the idea, thinking there’s no way I actually will win. I was pleased to just be a finalist this year. But he continued to say, I really think you should write something down.

When I went to the rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, I was chatting with a fellow finalist, who had won Genesis in a previous year, and she asked if I’d written anything down. When I said no, she said, you really ought to because when I won, I hadn’t prepared anything, and once I got up on stage, in front of all those people, I wished I had.

So, you know, an hour before the Gala, I’m getting ready and jotting down some notes. No time like the last minute, right?!

When the announcer called my name, Howell leans over to whisper “I knew it!” in my ear. He captured the entire speech and had texted it out to everyone we know before I could even get back to my seat. I sure love him and love his support for me. (If you want to see the video, it's on Facebook here).

I’ve been overwhelmed by the congratulations I’ve received, the videos and text messages and social media comments. God really does get 100% of the credit in my mind. It’s His gift and all for His glory!

If you attended this year, what are your favorite moments? 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Complementary Strengths

As I write this, the ACFW conference is only a few days away, and Laura is preparing pitches and finalizing one sheets. This is always an exciting time of year for us, with optimism and anticipation abounding. It also reminds me of our differences, though. I am not a brilliant writer, and frankly, I don’t want to be. But I’m so glad she has found this thing that she is both passionate about and very talented at. As her husband, I get to use my business and management talents and have the chance to help her network and make career turning decisions. That is very exciting for me! I’m thankful that we have different strengths and weaknesses so we can complement each other.

I can’t think of a single couple whose strengths and weaknesses even come close to aligning. We all have different things we are good and not good at. For a big part of our dating and then early marriage relationship, these opposing strengths and weaknesses really seemed to make our lives more difficult. We each had expectations of the other to do and think like we did. Guess what, folks?! We didn’t. I see this all the time in other relationships, and sometimes it evens tears them apart.

If you are reading this, have you recently thought this about your spouse: “Why would he/she say/do that?! It’s infuriating and makes no sense!” Well, your spouse is different from you. They see things differently, and they may just not be as good as you at certain things. For example, I have a terrible memory. If I’m going to remember something, I have to write it down. Laura remembers just about everything. It was really hard for her, for a long time, to understand how I could forget that we had this or that event coming up or that I needed to take care of this or that. Once she realized that remembering wasn’t my strength, and I realized that I needed to try to write things down more, we rarely argue about that issue. I have other strengths that she finds really helpful, and we balance each other out.

Looping back to ACFW, we are a team. Each of us has different talents and strengths that offset one another, and hopefully, someday, we'll get to see Laura share her incredible stories with the world. As her husband, that teamwork makes me very happy. So, if you find yourself bothered by your spouse’s differences, try teaming up by aligning your complementary strengths. I think you’ll like it much better.