Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Recommended Reading

Y'all, I've been a reading fiend this last month. Maybe because ACFW made me want to now read all. the. books. Maybe because I'm so over what's on TV these days. Maybe--and best of all--because I'm learning how to create margin in my life with time for something besides work. (Hallelujah!)

The Bookshop on the Corner has the best book dedication I've seen--a dedication to her readers. She describes all the smart ways to read books these days, and my favorite: "Stolen book time." 

I used to believe I couldn't read because I didn't have time, but that's only because I thought I needed a full hour or so in my schedule to sit down and read. But Jenny's dedication inspired me and reminded me that I don't have to be such a planner about reading. Now I snag ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there, and y'all, I am loving it. 

So, enough from me. Here's what's on my recently read list: 

*Christian nonfiction

*Not Christian fiction

*Not Christian fiction

And my "currently reading" list because, ya know, I've got to finish the series (thanks, Laurie Tomlinson, for recommending the first book!): 

What about you, friends? What are you reading these days? 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Yes, Dear!

I often hear husbands say that the two most important words you can know to keep your wife happy are "Yes, Dear" or that the best phrases to learn are "Yes, Dear; I'm sorry; You're right; and It won't happen again." 

Among men, this is a joke, but it’s also taken seriously. I'm not saying that as men, you can never be wrong, but I am saying that we can't just say what our spouses want to hear to get out of an undesirable situation. I have several issues with this cultural paradigm that has arisen.

I'll be the first to admit that for years, I was very guilty of this. I'm what we like to call a natural pleaser. I don't like conflict in my relationships, and before I was truly transformed by the Holy Spirit, I would do or say just about anything to make Laura not upset with me anymore. What did this really yield? More heartache and rejection feelings on both sides, not to mention, it doubled the length of our arguments.

This attitude is really saying, "Yes, Dear, I'm lying to you by saying what you want to hear so I can go do what I think is best, no matter what you think." BE AN ADULT. Real relationships are defined by truth, and if this is your way of dealing with issues, then it isn't a real relationship. I know that sounds harsh, but when I compare the time in which I just told Laura what she wanted to hear and the time in which I've been truthful and really dealt with issues head-on, in a loving way, the two don't really even look close. 

What if, instead of just saying whatever you think will end this discussion the fastest, you have your spouse sit down with you and have a face-to-face discussion about the issue. Don't completely assume that you are right or wrong immediately. Listen to what she has to say about the problem; ask her how it makes her feel. Tell her what your true intention was and talk about how you think things may have gone better if one or both of you had approached the situation in a different manner. Now for the tough part, you may have to actually apologize and mean it if you are wrong. Usually though, in my experience, after we have figured out what the root cause was, one (or both) of us is sincere about apologizing for what happened.

I hope this insight helps you as much as it has helped me. 

Howell | @g2whubs

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Do you need a RECHARGE?

Last week we had a much-needed fall break on campus, and I was able to take a couple of vacation days to spend Thursday through Sunday with my family. We rented a house, and for the first time since I’ve been married (now going on nine years), we took a family trip together: my parents, siblings and spouses, and nephews.

We haven’t quite settled on a name for our now annual trip to Wimberley (we’re thinking reunion is over-used), but the tentative name is recharge (props to my sister for that ;)).

Y’all, my heart is full, and I certainly feel recharged.

I finished three fiction books.

I laughed until I cried on several occasions (literally, tears streaming down my face!).

I swam in 65-degree water with my three-year-old nephew because, well, he wanted to.

I started a short story.

And I got to spend real quality time with family.

Nothing makes me happier than some good ole quality time.

Perhaps my favorite memory is watching my nephew air guitar and sing during our impromptu worship jam while my brother-in-law made breakfast. (If I haven’t said so—you should buy the Pursue Worship album! It’s incredible!)

There’s a song on the Pursue album titled My Shepherd, and the chorus begins, “I won’t want for anything.”

Isn’t that God’s promise to us?

At this point in the semester, the craziness is cranking up. Piles of grading. Work events. Church events. And October is only the beginning—then it’s Thanksgiving, then Christmas.

“I won’t want for anything.”

Time. Energy. Provision. Grace. Strength. Patience.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He quiets my soul.”

Reciting that verse brings so much peace to my heart.

Friends—do you need to recharge at this moment? Do you need the Lord to take you beside still waters?

Whatever you’re facing today, this week, this month, He is enough. You’re not lacking anything you need in Him. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

R E S P E C T!

R E S P E C T!

Did you know that the iconic tune sung by Aretha Franklin was actually written and originally performed by a man (with slightly revised lyrics)?

You’ve maybe heard that a man’s greatest need is respect. In fact, I recently heard this stated so strongly that the person suggested a husband doesn’t need his wife’s love; he doesn’t need her to buy books or go to conferences to find out more tips for “how to love her husband.” What he needs is her respect.

If you’ve heard of Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s book Love and Respect, the above may be familiar to you. Howell and I are leading a marriage life group this fall that focuses on the curriculum from that text. Although I’m not new to Eggerich’s ideas, the importance of these truths seems more profound to me than ever.

I can remember the first time I encountered Ephesians 5:33 as a college student who was (though single at the time) thinking realistically about what it would mean to be a wife someday.

The Amplified version of that verse gives a tall order for wives: “…and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].”

Sometimes the idea that women should respect their husbands feels abstract to me—and I think, how do I actually do that?

We know what love looks like, right? Love is patient, kind, longsuffering, etc.

But what does respect look like?

I think the Amplified version gives us a good idea: Respect means to delight, prefer, care about, treasure, honor, and hold dear.

Howell and I have a little board that we write notes to each other on. We’ve done this for years, but recently (with the Love and Respect curriculum in mind), I’ve thought more about the content of my notes.

In the past, I’ve always just focused on sharing how much I LOVE Howell and what he means to me. But Emerson said that men want to be recognized for what they DO as an extension of who they are.

So, a few weeks ago, I wrote a note that said something like “You’re an incredibly hard worker. I am amazed at your work ethic—always going in early and staying late. I’m so proud of you.”

Do you know that he thanked me for my note probably fifty times?

To recognize his WORK, to recognize his accomplishment—that meant everything to him.

I encourage you, wives, honor your husband by meeting his greatest need: tell him not just that you love him, but how much you respect him, especially for what he DOES to provide for, protect, and lead you and your family.

I promise you he will respond in love!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Best Memories from ACFW 2017

Remember when I told you my last ACFW experience would be hard to top? Well, folks, I stand corrected.

I love that my hubs is always willing to go with me. I NEEDED him this time for sure. 

Whoot Whoot!

And apparently the ACFW conference has become the place where my most embarrassing moments happen—but unlike the last experience, which just made me blush a little, I’m still recovering from this year’s moment. It’ll make a great story someday, but it’s too soon to laugh about it now.

Although nothing will ever compare to that first-timer’s experience, the star-struck gaze and fan-girl feelings of being among the GREATS of Christian fiction, this year’s conference took me to a deeper level, a level that I needed to become more serious about this goal of mine.

You might recall it all started when I dared to call myself a writer (also here and here).

This time, it’s something more. It’s not just about a dream. It’s not just about one book.

I feel like I’m finally stepping into the vision that I have for myself to truly become a professional author, a multi-published (and hopefully someday award-winning, best-selling, etc. etc. :)) author.

I’m more eager to fight for it than ever before, and it feels attainable in a way it never has.

Perhaps sitting in a session with Susan May Warren and learning that she’s written 50-something novels in a little over a decade or taking a continuing ed class with Cara Putman and finding out she’s a lawyer and a professor and a multi-published author inspired me greatly. I don’t have to choose one or the other—and that is quite freeing!

So, as promised, here are my top five memories from the 2017 ACFW Conference:

1. Spending a few days with my virtual friend and critique partner. Y’all, I can’t say how much this woman blesses me! She is a gift!

2. Hearing an agent tell me that he doesn’t just like my story idea—but that he loves it. Wow. What an encouragement!

3. Re-setting my heart and mind during worship. For whatever reason this year, my emotions were all over the map. I felt discouraged before I’d even pitched anything—but Friday morning’s worship time gave me a full reset, and I left charged up and full of grace.

4. Making connections with published authors (and friends!) who are ahead of me on this road. I am grateful for their wisdom and their willingness to help me succeed.

5. Getting a second chance with an agent after what was a truly embarrassing moment! Again—it’s too soon (I'll tell you someday, maybe), but man, God sure redeemed my mistake. What a good Father!

If you attended this year’s conference, what were some of your favorite moments?