Monday, December 18, 2017

Merry Christmas Break - 2017

Hey, friends! Every December, we take a short break to focus on our family for the holidays.

We pray you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We'll see y'all in 2018!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

There's Room at the Table

I am grateful to be surrounded by so many women who are on the same writing journey as me. Some are published. Others are not. Some have agents. Others do not. But we’re all in this together.

Having been on cloud nine for the last month with the piles of good news for my writing, I am more aware than ever how wonderful my support system is (friends and family included!).

When I was about to sign with Hartline Literary, I texted back and forth with three trusted authors who are ahead of me on this journey, asking super personal questions about their agent relationship that fortunately didn’t offend them.

My amazing critique partner has been Wonder Woman these last several weeks, from helping me prepare contest submissions to helping me with revisions to my proposal and manuscript. She is truly a gift from God, given to me at the most opportune time, and I’m thankful for our growing friendship.

Working on the short story with my ACFW friends, I’ve encountered writers who aren’t yet published and maybe aren’t yet represented. I’ve answered emails and given advice (which seems so surreal to me, given that I don’t feel all that wise in this area).

And in the midst of these last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what an honor it is to support my fellow authors on this journey.

I’ve become friends with contest semi-finalists and finalists (both from Genesis and from First Impressions), with women who write in my same genre, who want a slot at the same publishing houses.

But it’s not a competition, and I’m grateful for the culture of ACFW that cultivates this attitude among authors.

It reminds me of a word the Lord gave me a long time ago—that I’m a daughter of inheritance, not a daughter of reward.

I don’t have to strive to earn favor from him. He’s already called me Favored One.

A kingdom mindset says there’s always room at the table for more—for all. So I don’t have to kick or shove my way to the top, fighting for my place. Instead, I can embrace all that He has for me and for others.

If you’re on this journey, too, let me know how I can support you.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Holiday Tips for your Marriage

The Christmas holidays are sometimes stressful for marriages, not only because in-laws and travel are added to the mix but also because budgets are usually stretched further, as we spend more money for gifts, especially if you have kids or large extended families.

We recommend three tips to ensure the holidays don’t stress your marriage:

1. Get on the same page. Communication is always essential in marriage, but especially at this time of year. First, talk through your travel plans in advance—and make sure you talk to your spouse before you commit to being at Grandma’s house on Christmas morning. Even if you always do the same thing, this year be intentional about ensuring that your Christmas plans are what you both want to do. In doing so, you give honor to each other. Second, communicate about your spending plan for gifts, which leads us to number two…

2. Make a budget. Finances are often cited in the top three reasons for divorce, and this time of year is no exception. I’ve said before that most marriages have a saver and a spender. Whatever role you usually play, be sure to talk to your spouse about your spending plan. Howell and I make a list of everyone we buy gifts for, and we budget an amount that we’ll try to spend on each person. It’s not always a perfect system, but it at least gives us an idea of what our account balance is going to look like at the end of the season.

3. Take a break. It’s okay to take a time out from family and events. Save time for each other. If you’re at the grandparent’s for the weekend, ask them for two hours so you and your spouse can have a movie date. Even if it’s just to escape for a grocery item or a sonic drink, take a break for some alone time with your spouse. Whatever your love languages are, don’t starve each other from much-needed deposits into your love banks just because you’re surrounded by family for days or weeks. You spouse is still a priority!

This season doesn’t have to be stressful for your marriage. After all, we’re celebrating the birth of our Savior. Emmanuel—God with us. What a privilege to know we’re never alone, and we’re never too far from His grace and love. When it feels like too much, when the stress is too high, and the checking balance too low, remember the reason for all we celebrate this year. Jesus came down—what a gift to us!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season with your family and loved ones!