Thursday, October 29, 2015

Calling all NaNoWriMo buddies!

I have decided to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. And since I joined this week, I’ve only had a few days of #NaNoPrep!

I signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2011, and I was all set with a full chapter outline for my novel. I was very gung ho on Day 1, but that November ended up being a terrible month for us. We faced so much loss and grief in one month—and I don’t really care to go back to that month, but let’s just say, by December, I was broken-hearted:

The bitter taste that first experience left in my mouth had nothing to do with NaNoWriMo, but I’ve stayed away from any other attempts since 2011.

About a week ago I read Laurie Tomlinson’s post about NaNoWriMo, and I felt inspired to try it again. I only wrote maybe 15,000 words during my 2011 attempt, rather than 50,000 words, but those 15,000 words were the start of Restless Heart, a novel I just sent to an agent-hopeful.

15,000 is not 50,000—and, to be honest, I probably re-wrote most of what I created that month, BUT 15,000 is better than zero.

As I’m waiting to hear back on Book 1, I don’t want to just sit on my hands for the rest of this year. It’s time to jump on Book 2. 

The series is set in Baird, Texas--a beloved town close to my heart. I’ve only done a little planning for the second book but here’s a first draft of the hook:
Justin and Kaylee's comfortable marriage faces unexpected turmoil when, after thirteen years of marriage, the high school sweethearts suddenly aren't on the same page anymore. With three small hearts at stake, Justin knows their marriage is worth fighting for, but can he convince Kaylee to stay?
Friends, are any of you attempting #NaNoWriMo this year? Let’s support each other in our endeavors! [Tweet this.]

Find me on the NaNoWriMo site as laura.c.brandenburg. I'm going to need some Writing Buddies! :) 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thinking Positively about Your Spouse

How you think about your spouse affects your marriage. [Tweet this.]

So when you think of your spouse, do you think of your last fight or the last great conversation?

When you think of your marriage, do you think of how bad it is or of all the great times you and your spouse have had together? Many couples think their way out of marriage. I’m not saying you should brush over arguments or ignore issues, but those arguments and issues are not your whole marriage.

I hear people around me all the time complaining about their spouse or making light of how unhappy their marriage is. Sadly, our society has allowed this to become an accepted practice. The thing is, they are making a choice to think of their marriage this way. I know every one of these people loves their spouse somewhere deep down in there, and yet they choose to think of them in a negative light, and worse, they voice those thoughts, which further reinforces them. In doing so, they also betray the trust of their marriage to others.

As people, we make thousands of choices every day, whether it’s rushing through a yellow light or eating that last potato chip. Every choice you make has a consequence later. That yellow light might turn red right in front of a police officer, or that potato chip may clog your arteries. Our thoughts have consequences, too. When you choose to dwell on the bad parts of your marriage, you may make them bigger than they actually are. That nagging habit that your spouse continues to do is a much bigger deal when you think about it all the time and talk to your friends about it.

I encourage you to think about the great times you’ve had with your spouse. Think about the things that you love about your spouse. I know there has to be many for you to have fallen in love. Remember that they love you and give them the best shot at being loved. When you choose to talk about how great your spouse is, you might just start believing it yourself.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Power of Peace: When Time and Answers are Unknown

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
I have loved this passage for the message of verse 8, but I never realized I was skipping over the heart of verse 7.

When the disciples ask a Time question, Jesus says, “It is not for you to know the time or season that the Father has fixed by His own authority.” 

Jesus doesn’t answer the disciples’ question, but He offers something greater than that: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” 

He is sent in the midst of unknowns and unanswered questions.

The Holy Spirit empowers us in seasons of uncertainty, of chaos, of lost plans, of unexpected outcomes, of disappointment, of overwhelming circumstances. [Tweet this.]

He is our helper, our comforter.

He gives us power to overcome.

We may not get answers, but we get an even great source.

Today, I wade in the midst of uncertainty, and I hate the unknown with all my heart.

If I’m honest, I find a lot of security in the known: What are we looking at? What’s going to happen? What’s the plan? How much will it cost?

But right here, He still whispers His truth: 

Time is established by my Father’s authority. But you have the power of my Holy Spirit. You are empowered to overcome. 

And I am with you always. I am your provider. I am your comfort. I am your helper.

Embrace my peace in the middle of your unknowns.

Friend, if you feel anxious today—maybe you’re waiting for God to move in an area of your life, maybe you’re pushing a deadline that feels impossible, or maybe your plates are spinning with all that you have to do and not enough time to do it—whatever the cause, lean into His peace. He establishes Time. All of it. And right now, in the midst of this that you feel, you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

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Let the Holy Spirit empower you in the midst of the unknown. via @Grace2write #peace #blog #faith

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fighting for your Marriage

God has been speaking to my heart lately about how important it is to fight for your marriage. If you want a good marriage, it doesn’t just “happen.” Most of you probably know that any relationship takes work and effort, time and investment, if it’s going to be successful. Marriage is no different.

It’s seems obvious, but I don’t think it’s as practiced as we might think. Anytime we let a fight just “go” without working it out, anytime we leave something unsaid, anytime we go to bed or to work or to wherever and resolve to “fix it” later, we’re not fighting for our marriage.

We know that the enemy is real, and we know he is not passive. The Bible describes him as a lion, searching whom he may devour. That’s not someone kicking back in the LazyBoy watching T.V. (although, sometimes, I think he could do nothing at all, and we’d still manage to get ourselves in a pickle!). But he is active, alive, and always on the prowl.

And I firmly believe that the enemy attacks marriages in particular because it’s a two-for-one benefit—he can destroy not one heart, but two. And, similarly, if two become one, and as a result, become the extraordinary, powerful tool that God intends, then Satan is doubly defeated. So, of course he wants to destroy marriages. Why wouldn’t he?

If we know this, then we ought to likewise be proactive in our defense against his attacks instead of always reeling from the blows as they come. Most people, I think, are always on the defensive, instead of the offensive, and that becomes exhausting eventually. I believe there are three powerful steps we can take when we resolve to fight for our marriages:
  • Communicate. Howell loves to talk on communication, so I usually leave that to him, but it is one of the most important things you can do for your marriage (followed closely by having sex regularly—something we want to post about soon). As he mentioned in a recent post, communicating is much more than talking. Make it a point—a goal, if you will—to have a meaningful conversation with your spouse every day—even if you lose a little more sleep, even if you’re running late, even if dinner isn’t fixed on time, even if you miss your show.
  • Pray. Prayer is a powerful tool, and while there are some who are gifted to pray for hours (intercessors), we can all take a few minutes a day and pray for our spouse and pray for our marriage. Howell and I started doing this a few years ago, and we firmly believe we have built a defensive barrier against the enemy by doing so. Pray that God protect your marriage from the enemy, from the flesh, from sin, and from others. Pray that God would teach you both to love selflessly, to put the other one first, and to live graciously. Pray that God would transform your marriage from ordinary to extraordinary. Pray separately. Pray together. Both are powerful and important.
  • Forgive easily. This is the area I probably harp on the most, but it’s so important, especially for women. If you let an event—big or small—go undealt with, then it will take root in your heart. Anytime we refuse to forgive, we open the door to the enemy. He is waiting, believe me, for any signs of weakness—and he will attack. Don’t be his prey. Communicate your feelings, listen to your spouse, believe the best for each other, and forgive.
I realize these are simple steps, but often difficult to walk out. Our schedules get busy, we run out of time, we have some place to be—and so, we let things go. Don’t let anything get “too far gone.” It’s what Satan wants. Don’t let him win the battle—or the war.

Fighting for your marriage is not easy; it takes work. Plead the blood of Jesus over your marriage. Pray for his protection against the enemy. Rely on his grace that empowers us to be extraordinary. And then, take a stand. Take responsibility for your actions. Be proactive in the fight for your marriage. It’s a decision you make. Everyday.  A resolution. A declaration to fight.

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Take the steps to fight for your marriage via @Grace2Write #blog #MarriageMonday