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