Thursday, April 28, 2016

A "Love-Wink" from God

I'm always amazed when God gives me a little love-wink, his way of saying—I see you, and I love you. When I look for it, I see his little gifts all the time. And last week, He out-did himself.

I attended the LCU annual fundraiser, which hosted Jen Hatmaker.  If you haven’t heard of her, find her hilarious and inspiring blogs here, read my all-time favorite posts here and here and here, and find her latest book (which is, you guessed it, also hilarious) here.

I’m grateful that my parents—who know how much I love Jen’s writing—got me tickets to not only hear her but also meet her! My sister and I were on cloud nine—and five days before the event, we began texting our hypothetical questions and conversations with Jen (e.g. “So, what’s it like being awesome?” “When should we plan our next get-together?).

Of course, the VIP meeting was really like 2.5 seconds as we took a quick picture together, and I was among hundreds of other women as eager to be Jen’s buddy as I am.

I am terrible at meeting famous people—not that I’ve had a lot of experience either. I brought her latest book, determined to ask her to sign it, but when I was next in line, I lost all sense of words and talking and stuff.

She actually said ‘Hi!’ to me first and asked for my name—all before I had said a word. EEK! But then, after I had managed to state my name, she hugged me, and I thought, Awesome—she’s not too famous for my fumbling, introverted self. Woot!

I became, naturally, obsessed with getting a do-over to meet her again and ask her to sign my book. Those were my 2.5 seconds, and I fumbled the ball!

I kept trying to get back into “the room” even though we’d been ushered out after our picture. I begged my sister, who was literally ONE TABLE away and who always has connections, to do something.

But the evening began, and Jen was there, on the stage, and then ushered off, and my moment was gone.

I decided to get over it. It wasn’t that big of a deal. I even considered writing her a letter—creatively capturing the evening and my 2.5-second moment and my utter regret; hoping, perhaps that she would sign my book and return it.

And then, when the evening was over—and when my door of getting a signed For the Love copy really was closed—my sister walked up with a signed book and hands it to me.

I could have melted into the ground.


I love my sister. I love her precious heart to give me her signed copy that was part of her table decorations. She really is awesome—more awesome than meeting famous people.

I also love that my Heavenly Dad knew my heart, knew my desire, and gave me a little love-wink that night.

It’s like his way of saying, “Hey, calm down. I had this figured out.”

“Hey, calm down. I’m much more impressive. Watch me do.”

“Hey, I give the best gifts.”

“Hey, I love you.”

Share your favorite 'love-wink' from God below!

Click to Tweet: When God gives a love-wink, we're reminded He cares about the small stuff. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Serving Together

Serving others has really made a big difference in our marriage. There is something about doing good together that brings us closer. It’s one of the things that brought us together when we were first dating and has helped sustain us over the years.

I can’t think of anything better for a couple of people who have fallen in love than having quality time. The more time Laura and I spend with each other, the better we are at loving each other. We have done missions and volunteer work, and we often serve at our local church in various capacities. We do just about all of these together, and they continually build up the same priorities of service within us. Our ideas of whom and how to serve have grown to give us a united sense of purpose that helps drive our marriage.

Laura and I had not been dating long when we took a mission trip to Mexico over Spring Break that really brought us closer and helped build a firm foundation for our marriage to come.
First Mission Trip: On the bus to Mexico

We went on a mission trip to Guatemala before we even celebrated our first-year anniversary, and that trip bonded our marriage in ways that only third-world mission trips can do (side note: our bathroom didn’t have a door, and let’s just say we were both pretty sick for most of the trip. #forbetterorworse).

The Construction Crew

We found that serving others opened our eyes and our perspective and allowed us to serve each other better, too. Since those early years of marriage, we have made it a priority to hear from God about where and whom He would have us serve.

Serving brings you closer to God, and thus, you are better for each other. By serving others and the Lord, you bring yourself and those with you in line with God’s will. In Matthew 25, Jesus says “Truly, I say to you, as you do unto one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.” Jesus is our example, the model for us. His entire purpose was about people and serving others.

In my life, serving others has proven again and again to bring me closer to Him and His will for my life. The same goes for our family. Our marriage is built on serving the Kingdom of Heaven; it’s our mission and purpose in life.

If you and your spouse are both believers, we encourage you to ask God how you can serve others in His kingdom. Volunteer together and see how much it blesses you.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Come toward the Light: Lessons from Easter Lilies

My sweet friend bought me Easter Lilies and brought them to me the Wednesday before Easter. 

Normally, these flowers don’t last very long, but mine are still blooming and beautiful.

Last week, I don’t remember what I was doing, but I was rushing around the house, and the Lord said, Stop and look. Notice.

All the blooms on the flowers had stretched toward the light at the window.

Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with the new Bethel album and love the song “Shine on Us,” but I’ve been thinking about light and darkness a lot lately.

He is light, and His light displaces darkness. Darkness and light cannot co-exist.

The same day, He said, Look—notice, I was feeling so emotional and all over the place. I felt overwhelmed and not enough, and I knew I wasn’t walking in who I am in Christ.

It was like I knew it—but the feelings were so real too.

But His truth is light; it shines on those dark places in my heart where lies hide and wait, where false words sneak and slither.

When I speak His truth, when I believe His truth, I shine light there—and the darkness cannot stay.

Oh that I would position my heart—as the lilies have—to be stretched toward the light, to be turned entirely toward it, to desperately seek it, to hunger and thirst for it.

That His light of truth would be my greatest need.

Without it, I cannot survive.

I love Psalm 139—“Search my heart and know me, try me and know my thoughts; see if there is any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”

David’s prayer is a prayer for light: let the light come closer, let it examine, let it know and see.

God’s light on our heart is never bad; it never hurts or burns.

Like the light for the lilies, it brings life and hope; God’s light restores truth and brings peace.

Dear friends, let’s walk in the light as sons and daughters. Let’s be drawn to Him. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Writing WITH God:" A Refreshing Weekend in the Springs

For the first Saturday in April, I was blessed to attend the ACFW “Write in the Springs” event with the local Colorado Springs chapter. (Although I’m here in Texas, my closest chapters are Colorado Springs or Dallas—both six hours away!)

I didn’t know anyone attending the event—and as an introvert, meeting new people feels scary sometimes. But God truly went before me to open doors.  I sat between two multi-published authors, and I was overwhelmed with their kindness and advice.

Allen Arnold’s message for the day could not have been more timely. (If you’re going to ACFW in Nashville, I encourage you to go to his “Two Realms” session.)

I won’t divulge his message too much, but suffice to say—I approached my writing from the wrong realm. He talked about writing with God, not for Him or about Him. What a powerful concept!

Writing with Him means positioning my heart to be open before Him, to be led by Him, to hear Him.

And to do that, we have to walk in who we are in Christ, so we can approach Him and know Him as the relational Father, not as a distant or uncaring or angry or disappointed Father.

At one point, Allen asked us to spend time with the Lord individually and ask to receive from Him how He feels about our writing.

I don’t know why I had never done that before—and I don’t know why I expected something negative (like the voice of an angry critic: do more of this, don’t do that, etc.), but what I heard from Him I will treasure forever.

I finally have a vision statement for my writing, and I can see my work as He sees it, which means I can see the purpose He has for it. I feel so encouraged to keep pursuing this journey.

But the BEST part of my weekend came later that day—when Howell and I got to spend the evening with my favorite author and her husband. She is an award-winning, multi-published author, but she treated me as a friend and offered incredible advice and direction.

She even asked to read my first chapter. (*SQUEAL!*) I was scared to send it to her (But she’s so awesome, and I’m so…) But I’m glad I did because her suggestions and comments were positive and encouraging and incredibly helpful.

It’s been almost two weeks, and I’m still on cloud nine from that trip. I made new friends, I received great advice from several people, and the Lord refreshed my soul! What a blessing!  

There’s a Hillsong line that says, “To your glory, for your glory.”

That’s what I continue to speak over my work and over my writing journey.

This semester is soon ending, and I feel more revived than ever to keep writing and editing and pursuing options to get my work out there!

Writing friends: How are you feeling these days? Do you need the Lord to refresh your soul? Ask Him how He feels about your writing. I promise you’ll feel restored. >>> Click to Tweet

Monday, April 11, 2016

Positioning Our Hearts For Gratitude

This week the Lord put it on our heart to write about gratitude. 

Gratitude allows us to see God’s goodness despite what we think, feel, or experience at the moment.

When I pause to give thanks, the tentacles of bitterness, jealousy, or self-pity lose their grip on my heart and fall away.

Gratitude protects my heart relationships—with the Lord and with others.

Anytime I feel like God’s holding out on me—that He doesn’t really love me, and He’s not really for me—I have learned that practicing gratitude forces those false feelings to flee in the presence of the light of His goodness, of who He is and all that He has done.

Truth wins when we position ourselves to be grateful.

The same applies to your marriage.

When you start to feel like your spouse is holding out on you, doesn’t really love you, or isn’t really for you—begin to give thanks instead for whom he or she is, for all that your spouse has done before.

If you can’t think of anything to give thanks for, if your spouse is not walking with the Lord, then begin to ask God to posture your heart to receive a spirit of gratitude for your spouse. Ask the Lord to show you how HE SEES your spouse.

Regardless of how you feel, the Lord has great things to say about the son or daughter He created.

Even if your spouse seems undeserving of your gratitude, begin to prophesy—to speak truth—to whom he or she will become, whom he or she was created to be.

One final thought: Be careful with whom you associate. If your girls’ night out is a weekly husband-bashing party, if your conversations with co-workers are joke sessions about your “dumb wives,” be cautious.

What you listen to and associate yourself with will affect your heart condition: how you view your spouse and whether you speak gratitude.

Surround yourself with people who are proud of their marriage and who speak positively about their spouse—it will make a difference.

Dear ones, God is for your marriage. Even if it seems hopeless now, He doesn’t feel that way.

Position your heart to be grateful and see how powerfully your marriage is affected! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Beyond the "About ME"

I give full credit for the inspiration of this post to Teresa (via Laurie’s post, which is where I found the idea initially! :)).

I love the notion of going beyond our short bio lines or ‘about me’ pages to really connect with readers. I enjoy reading acknowledgement pages—not so much to see who is acknowledged, but to see what I can learn about the author in how he or she acknowledges other people—especially family.

So, here we go! I’ll share some random facts, and you’ll see pretty quickly that I have some OCD issues. Don’t judge. ;)
  1. I have to finish anything I’ve started (a song, a book, a TV show, a movie, a series, etc.). Apparently Sheldon Cooper has a similar problem—a compulsion for closure. 
  2. I only eat one food item at a time, in a particular order on my plate, and I’ve done this for as long as I can remember, although I am somewhat ‘reformed’ for some dishes (as a child, I ate the fruit loops by color—all reds, then all greens, etc.). 
  3. I hate for my feet to touch the floor or the bathmat when they’re wet. It grosses me out! 
  4. I don’t like heights (but I love rollercoasters).
  5. I was the youngest person in my cohort for my PhD program, and I’m the youngest person in my department, and sometimes that makes me feel ‘less than.’ (Come on, 30!) 
  6. I wish that I loved to work out as much as I love to eat—but I don’t. 
  7. I love Kate Beckett, Ziva David, Sydney Bristow, Jane Rizzoli, and Lorelai Gilmore. (See a pattern? Strong, beautiful, independent women! As my best friend loves to say: Power to the SHE! ;-))
  8. I was not initially a good reader; in first and second grade, I was in the lower reading group.
  9. My childhood dreams consisted of becoming a large animal vet, a physician assistant (PA), or a famous writer. (Which of these is not like the other!? :)) 
  10. I was in the audience for the Oprah show when I was 11—and I was on TV for about 15 seconds responding to her guests on the show: Hanson. (*squeal*) 
  11. I would consider myself moderately introverted, and I’d say I’ve grown from extreme to moderate as I’ve learned to be confident in who I am in Christ! :) (#INTJ!) 
  12. I admire Amy Sherman-Palladino’s witty writing, and I am stoked that Netflix is bringing Gilmore Girls back! 
  13. I started keeping a journal in the second grade, and I have filled over 100 journals from cover to cover with my writing, prayers, and blogs. (Yes—from cover to cover; remember #1.)
  14. When I was 12, I caught the drummer’s drumstick during an Enrique Iglesias performance on the Today Show. 
  15. My family is ‘blended’—and I’m so proud of who we are. (More on this someday! :))
  16. I love sentence diagraming. I diagram sentences in my head or to de-stress. (Before you think I’m crazy, plenty of math people like to do math problems to de-stress!) 
  17. I'm very much in favor of the Oxford comma. 
  18. I live by sticky notes, and I love that they were created by accident! 
  19. I became a professor because of a professor I had in college who inspired me and encouraged me to go to graduate school. 
  20. I am obsessed with duct tape. I’ve duct taped high heel shoes, picture frames, and even the fender on my car. 
  21. I am a planner, but sometimes all my plans get thrown out the window. I'm still learning how to be at peace with change and uncertainty. 
  22. I love to travel! At 29, I’ve been to 17 countries and 23 states. 
  23. I kept my nephew for one day every week for his first 18 or so months. (I've been a little less consistent since then, but I still try to see him every week; he holds a HUGE place in my heart!)
  24. I’ve driven through a tropical storm with landslides, and I’ve witnessed the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. 
  25. I’m guilty of screening calls—often. I hate the phone because I have to do the impossible like talk and stuff. 
Thanks for reading about some of my quirky traits. :) Share some of your random facts in the comments below!