Monday, September 25, 2017

Can you see the gold?: Finding Goodwill in your spouse

Guess what? Your spouse has goodwill toward you. This is a concept that I just can’t get off my mind lately. I see so many people getting frustrated and eventually despondent toward their spouse because of misunderstandings and misguided ideas that spring forth from them. This probably seems really basic to the newlywed, but may be revolutionary to someone who has been married a long time. Your spouse really does genuinely want the best for you.

Many times, we view what our spouse does through the lens of how we might handle a situation. The truth is, you married someone very different than yourself. Whether that is just because they are of the opposite gender or because they have a different personality type, YOU ARE DIFFERENT. You see things differently, you address issues differently, and you view your own actions differently.

So many times we say, “If they could only see this the way I do…” Truthfully, they may never see things the way you do, and that’s a good thing. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says "And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Multiple perspectives strengthen a team. This is one reason a cord of three strands is stronger. 

It’s easy, over time and as tension mounts from offenses, to forget that the person with whom you share your life actually does care about you. We get frustrated and offenses don’t get resolved because we can’t see the other person’s point of view. This compounds on itself, and the cycle continues for years, until one day, one of you just can’t see the point anymore. In reality, the entire time, both people probably have the same long-term goals for their marriage….love, happiness, and peace.

If you’re giving up or on your way there, know that this is NOT God’s will for your marriage. He created marriage to last forever, and he created us to be married for life. That person you fell in love with is still there. They haven’t changed as much as you think, and you haven’t changed as much as they think. It’s time to have a real reset conversation. Lay it all out there. It might be painful, but it’s worth it. Be real, be honest, but most importantly…listen. Listen for their goals and their goodwill. Let them hear your’s. Great marriages take work, but it’s never too late to start.

If we can help in any way, click on the "contact us" link at the top of the site. We'd love to chat with you.


Monday, September 18, 2017

ACFW Pre-Conference Mingle

On Thursday, I'll head to Grapevine for the Association of Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. In addition to getting to see my brother and his wife, I'll also get to learn from the best in the industry, meet with editors and agents, and connect with other writers who are on this same journey. To say I'm ecstatic is an understatement. :)

Award-winning author and writing friend, Laurie Tomlinson is hosting another pre-conference mingle on her site. Below are my responses. If you're attending, be sure to post your answers on your own site and link back to her page here.


Name: Laura Brandenburg

Location: West Texas

What you write/tagline/trademark: I write feel-good Southern love stories of redemption, forgiveness, and faith.

Place in the book world: Unpublished author seeking representation.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Definitely a hugger!

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? I usually get either a caramel latte or an Americano, breve with Splenda.

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Football, Gilmore Girls, grammar rules, and books by authors I love. (Kristen Heitzmann and Charles Martin are my absolute favs.)

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My hubs is coming with me (yay!), but we'll be leaving our surrogate kids behind: an 80-pound Weimaraner and a rescued Wheaten Terrier.

Conference goals we can pray for? Pray for opportunities to make new friends and establish good connections and for favor with agent/editor appointments.

Anything we can celebrate with you? The book I'm pitching won first place in the Ignite the Flame contest last year for the Inspirational Romance category, and it semi-finaled in the Genesis Contest this year.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can connect with me on Twitter or Facebook and subscribe to my blog, Obeying the Call.  

I hope to see you in Grapevine! Remember to link back to Laurie's page if you're participating in the mingle. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is Your Marriage Extraordinary?

Somewhere around year three of marriage, Howell and I determined that we didn’t want an average or an OK marriage. We wanted an extraordinary marriage. I’d say, after nine years, we’re still working toward what that means, but the truth is, I do think we have an extraordinary marriage because I think we’ve been intentional to sow into our relationship.

Both of us are even-tempered, and we both like most of the same things, so maybe have an advantage in that we genuinely could spend all our time doing stuff together.

But time has been a precious commodity these last twelve months, as we have faced serious transitions in our working lives. I changed position last fall, and the rest of the school year was quite a whirlwind. Howell accepted the position as Administrative Pastor at our local church in May, and his first five months have been equally as busy.

It’s always a challenge to learn a new position or to face a transition like a new job. But I think we’ve been extra challenged to have both changed positions in such a short time period.

Our chapel speaker this last week, Dr. Delvin Atchison, spoke about learning to rake leaves in windy conditions.

Isn’t that real life?

It’s always windy—especially out here in West Texas.

Despite what the last twelve months have looked like, Howell and I have stayed as close and as connected as usual, and I was thinking this week—how did we do that?

I've thought about four areas that I think are keys to an extraordinary marriage, keys that we try to practice: 

1. Communicate every day. This sounds simple, but I don’t mean talking every day, but actually communicating! Howell and I are both introverts—though I don’t think he’s nearly as introverted as me. So you might think that talking isn’t our thing. But we’re both intentional to connect every day, to ask about our days, to share the top stories, to share emotions that we’ve felt. Some days, we’re coming and going, but other days, we’ve got more time. Whether it’s short or long, whether it’s after work or right before bed,  try to find time to talk.

2. Have sex often. We’ve said before how important we think this is (see here and here, for example). In fact, I’ve even made the statement that most marriages fail when a healthy sex life fails to exist. Sex is the highest, most intimate form of communication you can have with your partner. If this is an area that’s a struggle for you, read a good sex book (we recommend this one), talk to your spouse, or talk to a counselor. The question of “how often” might depend on your season of life, but we’d recommend no less than once or twice a week. The most important answer to “how often” is a goal or desire that’s agreeable to both of you.

3. Set aside a date night. Whether it’s a night out or a night in, try to guard your time together for one evening every week. If you have kids, I promise this is the best thing you can do for them and for your marriage. Get a babysitter. Find a fellow friend with kids and swap date nights. Beg grandparents. Whatever you’ve got to do—find time to be alone. And then protect and enjoy that time together!

4. Forgive easily and permanently. When you're both in a season of windy weather, you're going to step on each other’s toes sometimes. But if you don't communicate through those conflicts, you'll create a disconnect that grows with time. You'll stop having sex. You'll make excuses to avoid date night. And the daily communication will break down. It's essential—the most essential key, in fact—that you learn to forgive easily and permanently. Don't drag it out, and don't drag it back up. Ask God to reset your heart to place of honor for your spouse, to a place that protects and cherishes your marriage.

Howell and I are not perfect, and we don’t always get it right. But I think it’s important that we try—that we’re always intentional. Our prayer is that your marriage would move from ordinary to extraordinary today!