Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016: Merry Christmas ... Break

December is upon us! Can you believe it? Only 25 days until Christmas.

Every year, we like to take a break for December to prepare for the holidays and enjoy our time with family.

So, from the Brandenburgs...

We'll be back in January--and might even have a new nephew the next time I write! :)

In the meantime, catch up on our old posts:

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

This holiday always reminds me of my grandmother. She was a unique woman, full of elegance and grace, and her holiday table would’ve made Emily Post proud.

Her kitchen portrayed an absolute rotation of chaos and cleanliness—dishes were dirtied and washed and dried and the cycle repeated. She loved to cook and bake

As a young child, I was given easier jobs, like stirring the pot, drying dishes, or licking the bowl of batter.

Bammie and me in PJs :) 

Later, my tasks included making the crescent rolls, and I became the best crescent-roll-maker you can imagine.

At some point, I graduated to dessert duty, where I got to help with making pumpkin and apple pies. One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories involves my cousin, Kelley—the year we made the apple pies completely on our own. The crusted strips on top did not look like Bammie’s, but we were quite proud of our accomplishment.

This year marks the 10th Thanksgiving without my grandmother, and I always miss her most this time of year.

The holiday might be based on historical events and long-standing tradition, but to me, it’s always been about family—at least as much as it’s about food. ;) 

I’m thankful for my family, for my in-laws, for my husband. Life is precious, and relationships are valuable.

You might be feasting on turkey and green bean casserole, and you’ll be overloaded with potatoes and crescent rolls and carbs, and you’ll likely have a sugar high from all the cakes and pies and holiday goodies.

But take some time to give thanks, to share your gratitude for each other, and to relish each memory. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

What I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving

I want to take the time, in this season of Thanksgiving, to say how thankful I am for Laura. Hopefully, in saying all this, your appreciation for your spouse will grow. God put us together to be greater than the sum of our parts. We met 10 years ago, and my life changed. I think that back then, we were really good together, but we have both grown in ways that make us great together now.

When I met Laura, I thought I was on a path that would ultimately lead to success in many ways. In my own eyes, I was mature, ambitious, and “going places.” After meeting her and falling in love, I found out what really mattered. I found the reason behind the drive, and we have gone places in our lives in ten years that I thought would take thirty.

Proverbs 31:11, in talking about what a great wife is, says, “Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.” That verse sums Laura up to me. I know that whatever she does, she will enrich my life. When she speaks or acts in public or in private, she represents our family with dignity and forthrightness. She always keeps me in mind in her decisions, and her choices reflect my best interest. My goal, as a husband, is to do the same for her. She inspires me to be a better husband without ever trying to. That is an incredible quality in a wife.

Laura and I have journeyed through many great times and difficulties, and I’m sure that many more will come. Through both of these, we have grown together. We know each other to a point that we actually finish each other’s sentences and have the same thoughts, often at the same time. This amazes me because when we were dating, it seemed impossible to be on the same page sometimes. I know her deepest desires and fears, and she knows mine. It is an incredible thing to share this bond, and I will fight forever to keep it and grow it. I pray that same desire comes for everyone who reads this  because marriage is something that must be fought for and cared for constantly.

She is the person whom I am most thankful for, in this season and every season. Laura is an incredible wife to me and an incredible friend and influence to so many others. I praise God every day that she is in my life. 

Who are you most thankful for in this time? What has your spouse meant to you?


Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Christmas-Break-Binge-Reading Wish List

The holiday season is upon us, and I’m already dreaming about the sides at our Thanksgiving dinner, the fireplace, all the yummy baked goods at Christmas, decorated trees and lights on the house and time with family. Time with myself. Just. Time.

Sitting down with a book, when I have free time, is still my absolute favorite. It’s hard to read during the semester because so often I’m reading for class preparations or I’m reading papers as I grade them.

And now, we're at the end of the semester, which means student conferences and final papers and final exams.

When the break hits, I end up binge-reading during my time off—this year that’s 12 days to binge. ;) 

So, for this post, I thought I would share my reading wish list, the books I hope to get to over the break:

1. Long Way Gone by Charles Martin. Charles Martin’s book has been out for over a month, and I’m a little shocked at myself that I haven’t already devoured it. He’s one of my favorites.

2. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.  What can I say? I love Gilmore Girls. I even loved Lauren's fiction book, Someday, Someday, Maybe. And I can’t wait for the Netflix release or this book release, which are, not coincidentally, a few days apart.

3. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  You all know I’ve been dying to read this one since the Belong Tour in September. I enjoyed Shauna’s message and the heart behind it; I think this is a timely lesson for me.

4. The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore.  I can’t wait to read Beth Moore’s first piece of fiction. She has a gift for writing and studying the Word, so I don't doubt this piece carries that same anointing. I’ve already heard good things about it!

5. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. Ann had me from page one of One Thousand Gifts. I love her writing style as much as I love the depth of her words. I’ve read all her books since then, and I’m thrilled to see she has a new one out. 

What about you, my friends? What are you reading these days? Any recommendations you’d give me for my binge fest?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Planting Seeds of Faith: Reminders This Harvest Season

It’s harvest season around here—a time of year when our farmers work long hours.

At 10:30, in full darkness, after the kids are all asleep, and you’re in your PJs, many of our farmers are still on the combine, their headlights like bright stars in an expansive darkness.

We don’t farm, but we live next to a field, and this year they planted cotton.

For weeks, I’ve been driving by and thinking, I’ve got to capture that field—a blanket across the land with bolls like big, fluffy snowflakes.

I’ve always admired fields of white cotton. I remember as a kid, after the farmers had harvested and taken their modules to the gin, their trucks left behind white sheets along the side of the highway.

As a five- or six-year-old kid, I remember thinking it had snowed.

Only it wasn’t flakes of frozen moisture.

For the last several weeks, I keep looking at white fields.

Every day passing them on my way to and from work.

And thinking of the fruit of one’s labor—the present reality of a promise delivered.

What was once only seed and hope is now birthed and fully grown, ready to be received.

When they planted and watered and waited, they were believing for, hoping for the evidence of things unseen.

Isn’t that what faith is?

Pastor Paul said last week that we exercise our faith by standing in the presence of the future.

A leap of faith is a leap only because one’s feet must leave what is present reality for what is unknown, uncertain, unseen—and one must stand, placing her foot on the other end of the gap, to say, “This is what I believe for my future.”

I shy away from that sometimes, from making bold declarations of faith because aren’t I then held to that expectation? Won’t I be judged for whether it comes to pass?

But to remain so means my feet are stuck, are glued only in reality.

No leaping. No daring. No believing. No planting.

That’s the picture I’ve had lately as I pass these fields.

I’d be like a farmer who didn’t put seed in the ground for fear that nothing would produce.

Yet our farmers live by faith ever year, season to season.

And now, it’s harvest time—the blessing of yesterday’s unknown becomes the present of what was once future.

So, I’m daring today, to plant a seed of faith—a word that’s out there that I’ve been too scared to say in this space.

I am healed.

Despite former diagnoses related to infertility, I believe God has fully healed my body, that my reproductive system is whole and restored.

He doesn’t call me Barren One.

He has opened my womb, and He’ll make me to be the joyful mother of children.

So why would I be scared to say so?

Well…this didn’t just happen. God has healed my body every month for about 18 months, and every month, I witness the evidence of my healing.

If I’m taking this leap of faith only to silence the doubt, then so be it.

Doubt says, why have we not conceived if I’m healed? After 18 months, why is my status unchanged?

I don’t have an answer for that.

But I submit my heart to His Lordship.

I submit my heart to the King.

He knows all things.

He knows what I need and when I need it.

He holds time in His hands.

But for a year and a half, Howell and I have been timidly holding this little seed of faith.

In secret, we water it; we shower it with prayer.

We expose it to the sunlight and comfort of only those closest to us.

But on the whole, it’s been hidden.

And now, I feel like the Lord keeps telling me, it’s harvest season!

It’s time.

I’m planting my stake, the word of my mouth and all that’s in my heart, in the Promised Land.

I’m standing today for my future reality.

I used to read Joseph’s story and think he was crazy for telling his brothers about his dream. Why didn't he just keep his mouth shut?

But I now know it took courage and boldness to share what he did. And to continue to believe.

It says in Psalm 105:19, “Until what He said came to pass, the Word of the Lord tested him [Joseph].”

God’s word over us—that He’ll make me to be a joyful mother of children—continues to test us, month after month when we see no result.

But we believe the words we’ve heard, and the dozens and dozens of prophetic words spoken over us, we receive them.

I pass fields of white cotton.

Promise upon promise of yields planted in faith.

And I declare, our harvest will come.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Remembering 2006: A Trip Down Memory Lane

It’s good to remember.

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

We remember the finished work of the cross. We remember God’s faithfulness. We remember the miracles. The challenges. The storms we’ve weathered.

We remember all that He’s done for us.

Our remembrance leads to gratitude: a thankful heart for all we’ve been given.

I’ve been thinking about memories lately, about how important it is to remember.

Yes, we can’t go backward.
Yes, our best days are in front.
Yes, let’s be present.

But sometimes, it’s good to remember.

Howell and I started dating this month—ten years ago.

Howell's birthday (and one of our first pictures together)  

My birthday that same year :) 

We met on October 23, 2006. Our first date was on November 11. And we were officially ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ on December 7.

I must confess that Howell is the one who remembered all these dates. After we were first married, maybe a little over a year, he snuck up behind me, wrapped arms of comfort around me, and said, “We met today.”

I couldn’t believe he remembered. I had forgotten.

Well, I guess if I’m confessing, I should admit that I don’t actually remember meeting him on October 23. In my mind, we met a few days later—maybe on a Thursday, when Ann brought me over to “the guys’ house” for some games and a movie. (I didn’t know it was all a ploy for a second encounter.)

That night, Howell and I sat—just the two of us despite a house full of college students—at his kitchen table, talking about the Lord. (We were so spiritual in those days. :))

That same night, or maybe the next hangout, we sat side by side on his worn-down loveseat as he attempted to teach me how to play an X-Box video game.

A week later, I was informed by some of our mutual girl friends that he liked me—and asked, did I like him too?

On our first date, I think we talked non-stop for four or five hours. There was no movie, no entertaining distraction like bowling or putt-putt.

We ate dinner and sat at the park and drank coffee at my apartment—and we talked and talked and talked.

I’ve been sentimental about our story this month, maybe because it’s been ten years and that feels like a big mile marker.

I remember those dating years—my initial intrigue. I was so attracted to Howell’s heart, his goodness, the easy way we could be together and talk for hours, the comfort and calmness he held.

But once it got even a little bit serious, I stepped into fear. I pushed and pulled and ran and escaped.

In fact, I did a lot of up and down for a long time.

But Howell was constant.


He never once stopped pursuing me.

If you think I’m exaggerating or mis-remembering, if my characterization is too flat, too heroic, too perfect—I’m sorry. I can’t characterize him any other way.

I used to hate our story, our beginning. I hated that I couldn’t remember meeting him. Isn’t that a necessary part of your meet-cute?

I hated that I was so mean to him. My parents would tell people about our dating years and how awful I was—especially the first few times I brought him around my family.

He was so great, and everyone loved him, but I would pull away and ignore.

When my parents would share those beginnings, those memories, I would get defensive in my heart.

Our story should have been a love story with a perfect beginning and dating years of bliss.

I should’ve been the heroine, the rescuer, the saint. That’s the character I wanted to play. Isn’t that the role I’d always played, by dating guys who needed to be saved?

But Howell didn’t need to be rescued. I did.

I embrace that now, not to shame myself but to remember how awesome and humble and loving Howell was to pursue me still.

My heart needed to be healed from the fear I felt. My heart needed to be opened, to be placed securely in my Heavenly Daddy’s hand instead of gripped tightly in my own.

I had a lot to learn about love.

But He knew. And Howell knew.

When I remember our beginning, my heart is filled with gratitude.

I thank God for His gift to me, for sending me just what I needed.

I thank Howell for his love, for his pursuit, for his faithfulness even now.

10 years later: October 23, 2016

Married friends—it’s good to remember. Remember where you’ve been. Remember the years of bliss. Remember the times you’ve overcome.

Let your heart be filled with gratitude. Let your heart be re-kindled with love for your spouse. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NaNoWriMo: Writing Exercise for Showing v. Telling

This semester I’m co-teaching Creative Writing, and we just wrapped up my favorite unit—short fiction.

We always do a fun lesson on showing versus telling, a critical skill for any creative writer.

NaNo friends, as you’re chipping away at your daily word count, perhaps these tips will help:

Take whatever scene you’re working on.
  1. Show us the senses: What does your character see, hear, smell, taste, and touch?
  2. Show us the action: What is your character doing? What’s her motivation, conflict, tension?
  3. Shows us the feels: Don’t tell us your character is angry; let us see her face flush and her jaw clench. Don’t tell us she’s tired; let us see her rub her eyes, the words on the screen unfocused, her eyelids heavy and closing against her will.
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One of the fastest ways to know if you’re showing or telling is to check your verbs.

‘To be’ verbs tell us. (e.g.: am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been)

Action verbs show us.

In class, I gave my students the following paragraph and asked them to rewrite a scene, showing instead of telling.

Maybe you’d find the exercise as fun as they did?

Jane is a timid freshman at State University. The youngest of six children, she misses the comfort of her home and her small graduating class of twelve. Her new roommate, Carol, is nice, and although the young man in her freshman math class makes her blush, she is thinking of him more and more.
Carol says she should give him a sign, but Jane isn’t sure how to do that. College is so different from Small Town, America. But maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

Using what you’ve been told about Jane, Carol, and the intriguing classmate, write a more descriptive paragraph, an action scene, or a conversation with dialogue that demonstrates one of the following:
  • How Jane feels
  • What Jane’s dorm, roommate, or male classmate look like
  • What Jane decides to do
You have full license to write in whatever genre you wish. Is this a love story? The start of a mystery? A feel-good inspiration? Is it set in our world? Another world? Are these humans? Etc.

Put whatever twist you like, but be sure your scene is showing and not telling.

Jane unlocked the door to her dorm room and dropped her backpack next to the built-in, oak-colored desk that only masked the laminate particle board.

The memory of she and her five siblings framed in a pose in a field of white cotton bulbs welcomed her. She stared at the glass until at last she saw her reflection, reminding her of her new home, her new season. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

NaNoWriMo - 2016

Can you tell I’ve been writing lately? :)

When I pause and take the time to put pen to paper, He causes the words to flow.

Remember my September take-aways?

Be you. Be still. Be present. Be willing.

My journal’s cover design is simple—a light brown paper cover that looks a bit like recycled card board—and in the center, one word: Write.

It commands, implores, urges, reminds, and encourages me to steward my time with writing.

November 1 begins NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month.

Last year, I started a new novel, and even though I didn’t meet my NaNo goals of 50K words in 30 days, I took the time to be intentional with my writing.

That’s my goal again this year.

I told you this summer about the contest I won. One of the editors who read my submission liked my writing style, but didn’t think the story was a good fit for their typical publications.

I agree completely; I had a different target in mind, and what I submitted doesn’t really fit what this particular publisher does.

But now that I know what they look for, and now that I’ve made that good connection with that editor, I’d like to finish a story idea with them in mind—something on the shorter side that’s inspirational romance but more subtly Christian.

So that’s my plan for November—to finish!

I am continually reminded of what Jen Hatmaker said at the Belong Conference: “Jesus didn’t ask us to be famous; He asked us to be faithful.”

My part means doing just as my journal cover requires me to do—Write!

Every week, I get to teach and be an administrator; every week I’m stewarding those gifts. So I don’t mean to imply that I’m not doing what I love or that I’m not right where He’s called me.

But in the midst of that, in the middle of this fall season, He’s asking me to be faithful to write. To exercise the creativity He’s put inside of me.

My short novel’s working title is Facing the Farmer, and I'm still working on the hook:

Blake Griffen might feel high and mighty in his twenty-foot green combine, and his family might raise corn on half the land in Elton, Texas. But his mischievous acts have gone too far for Emerson Lane. She devises a counter attack to confront her enemy, but is her strategy for a face-off thwarted by her heart’s wayward fancy?

All of this is, of course, a work-in-progress, but please feel free to share your ideas and responses.

Any other NaNoWriMo attempters out there? Care to share your novel ideas? 

Click to Tweet: Calling all #NaNoWriMo buddies. @Grace2Write shares her WIP. Care to share yours? #NaNoWriMo2016 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Keeping your Connection On

This has been a busy season for Laura and I. I’ve had a lot of work trips that have forced us to be apart for a few days at a time, and even on the normal weeks, we’re both busy with work, and we seem to have something every night.

This busy season has brought to mind memories of when we were dating and first married and how staying connected when we’re apart or when we’re busy was such a struggle for us. Not to say it isn’t difficult now, because it certainly is. We’ve learned a lot along the way though, and I think we do it better than we used to. Many couples handle this differently and for some, it doesn’t seem to be as big a deal as it does to others.

We are quality time people, though, so it’s definitely a thing for us when we don’t have time together.

When we were dating, our relationship was a long distance one for about nine months. Let’s just say it was dicey. Neither of us likes talking on the phone, and both of us were insecure people. Throw on top of that, that quality time thing. We had great weekends together, and we grew together a lot during those times, but then we fought all week. It was a long nine months. However, we did learn something from it. WE HAVE TO COMMUNICATE. Sound familiar?

It really helps both of us when one of us just says it: “I don’t feel connected to you right now.” That tells us that we need to communicate more and better. It’s so easy to be focused on where I am and what I’m doing and get distracted. But when I’ll take the time to let Laura know that I’m thinking about her and that I miss her, it can make all the difference.

Practically, this means that we try to talk more than usual when we’re apart and text multiple times a day. I also credit Skype and FaceTime with improving the quality of our time when we are apart. It helps so much for a couple to see each other when they are apart for long stretches.

And when we’re both in town, but flying all directions at all times, we have to be intentional—not just to communicate but to create time and space for us to be alone.

This may not be helpful to everyone. Not everyone struggles to stay connected when they are apart or when they’re busy, but hopefully it can provide insight for those that do. It’s tough. We’ve been there. But just saying it out loud—“I don’t feel connected”—is a great start. 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Is It Time to Change the Water Filter?

This summer I wrote a post about my experience with weeding out the gardens of my heart.

I described how I felt like I had just picked all the weeds and yet—without tending to my flower bed—the new ones had sprung up, catching me unawares.

Recently, God used a different picture to remind me of that same truth—the one that says I have to keep a daily watch on my heart connection.

We have a Brita water filter that connects to our faucet. We’re supposed to change the filter every three months, but usually, we forget.

We don’t notice it at first, that the water is slower to come out, that filling a glass or the coffee pot takes longer than it used to.

It’s a slow process, the inner workings of the filter sneakily getting built up and blocked by the city’s hard water.

And then, eventually, one of us asks, “Is it time to change the filter? Seems like it’s been a while.”
So we do.

Every time, we are amazed at how the water rushes out like a river breaking the dam, and in seconds, our glasses overflow.

We’ve become so used to the slow fill that we are surprised (seriously, every time) by the renewed flow.

When we changed our filter recently, I felt like the Lord reminded me that my spirit is like that.

I need the Holy Spirit to continually fill me, to give me His grace and power and strength.

But if I’m not consciously checking the connection, if I let it go a little longer, and a little more, and a little more, it’s easy to get bogged down by the circumstances and the stress and all the feels, like “I’m overwhelmed” or “I can’t do this.”

If I choose, however, to reconnect, to change the filter and let the Holy Spirit fill me again—refresh and renew—then I find the source of power and grace and strength once more.

Friends, if your source of water feels slow right now, maybe it’s time for a renewed flow. Let the Holy Spirit empower you to do His work this week!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Belong Tour: Slurpees and Take-Aways

Remember when I said that finding time to write was a battle to overcome? And that it’s a fight I want to win?


And then the very next week, I missed my first-ever Thursday posts out of the last 53 Thursdays. (Now, not once but twice!)

Key *audible sigh*

I’m in that kind of season.

But the Lord is good, and He always meets me where I am.

I am amazed by His grace every day.

At the end of last week, when I had accomplished more “to do” list items than I thought was possible, I told my best friend, “That’s a miracle. Literally, God’s miracle to me.”

I’ve added Shauna Niequist's Present over Perfect to my reading wish list. Doesn’t that sound like a title for me?

It’s currently #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for Religion, Spirituality, and Faith.

At the end of September, I had the privilege to hear Shauna speak—along with absolute favorite: Jen Hatmaker. 

My sister and I enjoyed a girls weekend in Dallas where we attended the Belong tour—a women’s conference that in addition to Niequist and Hatmaker, included Nicole Nordeman, Sharon Irving, Patsy Clairemont, and JohnnySwim.

Jen Hatmaker has the gift of making me laugh while also making me think

Nicole Nordeman might be known for her songs, but she's a very talented speaker!

Slurpees makes EVERYTHING awesome! :) 

My take-away?

Be you.
Be still.
Be present.
Be willing.

This fall already feels so busy. But isn’t that always true?

It’s my choice to be intentional, to be present.


When I choose that, I always find Him waiting, ready to refresh and refill.

When I choose that, I’m reminded that He’s surrounded me with great friends and family and a husband who is a rockstar.

That’s my choice to choose in this season--to be still, to slow down, to see, to be present. 

What about you, my friend? Is this a busy season for you? At work? At home? With your kids and schedules?

I encourage you with the same take-away I had:
Be you.
Be still.
Be present.
Be willing.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Making a Home: For the Working Wife

As women, we play a vital role in establishing God’s kingdom in our home.

We are carriers of His peace, love, and joy, and our homes should be bursting with the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit.

But when you need to get dinner out of the oven while simultaneously moving over a load of laundry, feeding the dog, and checking your kid’s homework, it sure doesn’t feel like a Sunday morning worship song.

For me personally, I have to battle the excuse that hangs on the tip of my tongue: “But I work too!”

And for whatever reason, this is the most challenging for me when it comes to dinner. Those infamous words that put me in my pain cycle: “What’s for dinner?”

The screaming crazy woman in my head—the one in business slacks and a nice blouse, setting her laptop bag down and taking off her heels—wants to shout, “I don’t know! I work too!”

Any working wives relate?

But my job is to establish my home; in fact, Proverbs 14:1 says,

The wisest of women builds her home, but the foolish, with her own hands, tears it down.

Do you see what power we have in our home?

I’ve also learned that I’m not supposed to build my house alone. I’m not a martyr, falling on the sword of unending laundry and “What’s for dinner?” conversations.

Dinner was my struggle, and all I had to do was tell my sweet hubs how hard that was for me to come home and figure out dinner after working all day.

Our guys want to help—yes, your husband too.

They often don’t know how to help us or what we need.

So, how can I build peace in my home between the hours of 5:30 and 6:30 when dinner needs to supernaturally appear?

Well, I work best with a plan. We plan what we can cook—emphasis on we. We plan what nights will be leftovers or something easy (e.g. hot dogs). We plan what can be pre-cooked and frozen—usually those are the best plans.

We grocery shop on Sunday, and we make a plan for the week. The screaming crazy woman disappears and is replaced by joy and peace.

If you want peace in your home, you’ve got to communicate with your family. Get a cleaning schedule. Create a chore chart. Plan your meals for a week (or a month!).

Whatever you need to do, talk to your husband and do it.

When we establish peace in our homes, we are a blessing to our husbands and our children; we bring God’s kingdom there; we invite the Holy Spirit to move; and we influence His reign in our families.

Don’t you want some of that in your house? I know I do!

This blog post originally appeared on the HCF Blog, Among Friends

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When the Word Tests You

"Until the word of the Lord came to pass, the word tested [Joseph]." Psalm 105:19
I've been meditating on this verse all week. It's a favorite of mine, and in the past I've always used it to encourage us to have faith in the gap.

You know, the gap of confrontation, that hole between when God gives you a word or a dream or a promise and when He accomplishes it.

In that place, you learn to stand on God's word, to declare His truth and His promises over your circumstances, over your feelings, over your enemy.

I know that gap because I've been in it for five years.

We've heard God that we'll be parents, and we know He's going to give us children.

So we continue to wait and trust His plan., and when I feel discouraged, Psalm 105:19 is my go-to verse.

But this week, I've meditated on it for a different gap. Maybe I'll call it the writer's gap.

I know He's put this dream in my heart. In fact, I believe He's called me to write, which is why I named this blog "Obeying the Call."

I'd spent many years hiding from my calling, and I started this blog--six years ago--as an act of obedience.

Do you know what happens when we step out in faith and do something?

Well, sometimes we get tested.

I have so much that is calling for my attention now that it's a test to even write.

I'm not saying that I'm in disobedience if I don't write. I'm not out of God's will if I'm
not popping out book chapters or blog posts.

That's not God's heart.

The truth is, I feel free when I write. It relaxes my mind and brings joy to my heart and refreshes my soul.

Even if I'm not writing to share the words, the act itself blesses me and draws me closer to God.

It seems natural, then, that I might face opposition before getting to that place of serenity, of chosen time, of consecrated words, pushing pen across paper or clicking keys to a screen.

Wiring in this season might look differently than it did this summer, when I could devote entire days to working on and editing my book.

That's okay. In fact, I have to be okay with that.

But I believe writing--finding time to write, regardless if it's to be shared or to be cherished--is a battle I'll have to fight and overcome.

It's a conscious decision I'll have to make, and it's not about the words, where they'll go or what they'll say. It's about me and my heart and my joy.

What about you, friend?

Do you have a dream God has put in your heart? Do you find yourself in the gap of confrontation?

I pray you'll dwell on His word, His truth for your life.

Keep dreaming. Keep fighting for your dreams. He is faithful.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Living Like Royalty

A few weeks ago, Howell and I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Tech football game—in style. We were given passes to a suite and VIP tickets to a private tailgate and an after-the-game celebration. We had tickets, passes, and lanyards around our neck that literally said VIP.

Everywhere we went, we had access to free food and drinks, and we had incredible seats to the game with a great view of the field.

As I was soaking it all in, I thought, Man, I feel so privileged, so important.

And I immediately felt the Lord nudge my heart—You always are.

That night, we felt like royalty, but the Lord reminded me that I’m always royalty. I’m a daughter of the King. His word says I’m a royal priesthood, chosen and called out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

A friend of mine posted this meme on Facebook recently, and I saved it and have looked at it regularly.

Too often, I forget who I am. I forget whose I am.

I allow circumstances and my own thoughts to beat me down and tell me I’m inadequate, but that’s never who God says I am.

He says I’m enough. He says I’m whole, complete, and lacking nothing.

I’ve been reading The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson for several months—maybe even a year. It doesn’t usually take me that long to read a book, but I’ve been having a hard time soaking in the truth.

I have lived with a pauper mentality where I operate out of a feeling of "lack" and try to protect what’s "mine," including sometimes, my heart.

But a prince (or princess) mentality knows that I’ve been given everything I’ll ever need, that I have a rich inheritance, and that I’ll never lack—physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Bill Johnson says it this way: 

"I can't afford to think differently about my life than God does." 

I’m always chosen. I’m always important. I’m always the VIP in God’s eyes.

And He desires to bless me. He’s given me every spiritual blessing in Heaven, and He’s given me favor with people and with my circumstances. Those are the privileges I get to enjoy as His kid.

What about you, my friend? Do you see yourself as a prince or princess? As a son or daughter of the Most High? If you struggle, as I so often do, I pray He’ll whisper truth to you. Receive what He says about you—both who you are and whose you are.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Honor in Marriage (Part 3)

I’m struggling to write this week’s marriage blog because I don’t want to sound judgey when I say what I feel like the Lord has put on my heart.

So, hear me reader—I’m not being judgey. I hope to speak truth in love! We have posted before about honor in marriage—both honoring husbands and honoring wives. This post is related; we want to talk about honoring our spouse in public. 

A few weeks ago, Howell and I were talking with a woman and her husband, both of whom we don’t know very well. They’re perhaps an acquaintance at best.

Within two minutes of the conversation, the woman had managed to make fun of her husband’s intelligence and some other lacking characteristic—and I was done chatting.

I asked Howell later if it was just me or if he had noticed, and he had. His first response was, “I feel sorry for that guy.”

When women put their husbands down publicly, I am turned off immediately. Every time it happens, I cringe a little. It feels uncomfortable. I’m not going to laugh, so now there’s this awkward silence. The husband shrinks a little, if he’s present, and no one quite knows where to go from there.

Somehow the practice of making fun of or putting down our spouse has become common, even in Christian circles.

As wives, we play a powerful role in honoring and esteeming our husbands.
I’ve been thinking about the Proverbs 31 woman (for a great post on this passage from a dear friend, read here). We know a few things about this woman’s marriage:

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life” (v. 11-12).

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” (v 28-29).

And we know from v. 23 that “her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” He has an honorable reputation, and she becomes a famous figure: she is, to us, the epitome of a wife—who works with her hands and provides for her home; who creates and makes and cares for her household, her children, and her husband; and who is praised and beloved for all that she does.

I think there’s a connection here. She does her husband good all the days of his life. He praises her. And both of them are recorded in the Bible with an esteemed reputation. Look at how they’ve honored each other!

When we honor and praise our spouse, we affect the reputation they have; we can affect how others see them.

I’m not saying that we can’t be sarcastic or give our spouses a hard time. Certainly Howell and I do this to each other regularly, and we’re both good natured about it. But it has to be in the right context—with close friends or family, people we trust who know our heart and who know each of our character.

And even in those spaces, we’ve always been careful not to correct each other. This was a particular pet peeve of Howell’s, and when we first got married, he asked me seriously if I would agree to not correct him in front of others. If he did something wrong or if he mis-remembered an event or if he said the wrong thing, he asked that I would tell him privately, but not publicly.

There are so few things he’s ever asked me to do, and I’ve taken that one seriously for over eight years.

Public spaces are not places to correct, condemn, or cut down our spouse.

I encourage you to guard your mouth and filter everything you say about your spouse to others.
If it’s not honoring, uplifting, or positive, then perhaps it doesn’t need to be shared.

I also encourage you to surround yourself with men and women who honor their spouse, who speak lovingly and positively about their spouse. I have many great women friends, and one of the things I love most about them all is the way they talk about their husbands.

I hope you hear my heart in this post. We’re certainly not perfect, but we are intentional with our words in this area. If you struggle with this, the best advice we can give is that practice makes perfect. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rain That Refreshes, Renews

Sheets of rain are pouring down as I work on this blog post, and I’m thinking about the expression, “When it rains, it pours.” 

I’ve felt that way a little these last few weeks as I’ve recently had a lot of busyness, uncertainty, and ever-growing ‘to do’ lists. 
But rain can also be refreshing: the ground soaks in the moisture while thirsty crops catch drops of water on glistening, bright green leaves.   

 For me, the rhythm outside my window calms me, and I’m renewed, revived. 


Be still. 


I’m in your midst. 

I hear His words in the beat of the drops on my windowsill. 

And after the rain stops, after the stormy clouds and unpredictable precipitation recede, He washes me clean again; he restores my soul. 

Sometimes I wonder why I ever stress at all. When it’s all said and done, He’s always taken care of me. He’s never let me fall. 

I breathe in fresh, clean air. Don’t you love the smell of rain? 

I breathe in more of His Spirit, His grace, His strength. 

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

His grace is sufficient for me.

Friends, if you’ve been near me these last four weeks, I’ve been a hot mess. But today, it’s as if the Lord hit the reset button with all this rain, and I get to resurface with a renewed purpose and joy. 

If you need to be renewed, I pray the Lord would rain sweet drops of grace and mercy over your soul today.