Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What's Your Super Power?

Spring is finally here, and I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the craziness already. March passed in a blur.

Can you relate?

This morning I was reminded of Romans 8:11, which says “The spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.”

I don’t always feel powerful, but thanks to the work of the cross, I am full of the Holy Spirit’s power, which means

I am a powerful woman!

I am an influencer for His Kingdom.

I have the power to change the atmosphere.

I am full of God’s grace and His favor.

Do I feel that way? Not always—definitely not when I’m in the midst of chaos and craziness. (Again, where did March go?)

But it’s the truth of God’s word, and I choose to believe it.

How about you, my friends? Are you facing a hard week? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you shrink back in conversations? Do you feel like you’re not enough? Or you don’t have enough—time, money, energy?

On Sunday, we'll celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. What a better week than now to be grateful for this finished work of the cross—and to step into all that He says we are.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Respect for Your Working Man

Howell and I are leading another Love and Respect Life Group this semester. My favorite video lesson is where Emerson gives women a glimpse into the ways men feel respected:
When we appreciate his desire to work and achieve 
When we appreciate his desire to protect and provide
When we appreciate his desire to serve and lead
When we appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel
When we appreciate his desire for shoulder to shoulder friendship
When we appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy 
I am a time person, and one of our biggest conflict areas early on in our marriage concerned time, especially if Howell was later than he said he would be.

For whatever reason—and not a justified one—it used to irk me so much if he said he’d be home at X time and instead came home at Y time.

We’ve since learned how to communicate through those scenarios (namely, I stopped having unreasonable expectations, and he learned to stop giving me a specific time—ha!).

But what I was thinking about recently, while watching the video, is how many opportunities I missed to tell him how grateful I was he worked so hard, how sorry I was he had to work late, or how proud of his work ethic I was.

I’ve heard so many wives over the years grumble because of the hours their husband works—and if you’re a quality time person (like me :)), it can feel like your husband isn’t loving you because he may not be speaking your language.

But friends, THAT IS A LIE. When your husband works, in his mind, he is doing it FOR YOU, for your family. It’s an act of service to him—an act of love.

While I’m not condoning workaholics, I am suggesting that instead of complaining about your husband’s hours or workload, tell him how much you appreciate the time he puts in to provide for your family. Even if he’s not the breadwinner, he needs to know his work and his efforts are valued because it’s in his nature, this desire to work and achieve, to protect and provide.

Your husband's greatest need isn't your love; his greatest need is for you to respect him. I encourage you to think through the list above and ask the Lord to show you ways you can meet this need in him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Some Writerly Updates

I’ve been quiet on the writing front lately, so I felt it was time for a few updates. At the moment, here’s a picture of my writerly life:

1. Waiting with bated breath to hear from a publisher. As you may know, I signed a contract with an agent last fall after the ACFW conference. He and my amazing critique partner helped me get one of my manuscripts polished and the proposal and sample chapters sent off to a potential publisher.

2. Editing an old manuscript. Over the last several months, any free time has been spent reading and re-reading authors I greatly admire, and I believe it’s improving my ability to revise my own writing. I now see sentence patterns and repetition in a way I never did before, and I’m re-working my first manuscript with a slight cringe at the weaknesses there. But I’m not discouraged! In fact, I’m all the more encouraged to see the caliber to which I want to raise my writing. Now to practice until it gets there… (p.s. Once this manuscript is revised (thanks again to my awesome critique partner ;)), my agent and I will work to get it ready to send to another potential publisher.)

3. Writing a new book. My progress is minimal at this point, but I am having fun crafting a new story. These new characters swim in my head throughout the day, as I get to know them, their quirks, their reactions, their motivations. My goal is to have a first draft completed by the end of June.

Whether I’m reading the old ms or working on the new project, I’m excited to see how my writing has progressed. I know I still have so much to learn (and so much to edit), but I’m a life-long student. Learning is my thing. :) 

If you think of me, please continue to pray for God's favor and grace throughout this journey. May it always and forever be about Him.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Keys to Financial Freedom: Part One

Laura and I have both blogged before about finances, but given that it is one of the most common causes of strife in marriages, I want to come back to this topic. Money, and the lack of it, is a tough topic in almost every relationship. It certainly has been one for us at different times in our marriage. I always say communication is key, and it really is. This is the first post in a four-part series on financial freedom for families: Planning, Income, Debt, and You. If you haven’t read this post about getting on the same page re: finances, it’s a good foundational piece to start with. In this series, I want to take an in-depth look at how to approach finances, as a couple. I want to convey basic principles to build an understanding of how to work together to accomplish financial goals, instead of letting money be what tears you apart.

Today, let’s talk about planning.

You can talk about money until you’re blue in the face, but without consensus on a plan with actual, measurable, and attainable steps, you are just talking in circles. So what does a realistic plan look like? Well, that varies depending on your situation. 

So why do you, as a couple need a financial plan? You may be saying, we’re okay. We aren’t rich, but we are making it. We put food on the table and have a roof over our heads. Maybe you have significant debt, maybe you don’t. Maybe you have more than you need, maybe you don’t. Maybe you fight about money, maybe you don’t. Your situation does dictate what the plan is, but it doesn’t dictate the need for a plan. Whether you need to get out of debt or retire, or you want to give more to missions, you need a financial plan.

Step one is sitting down and talking about your immediate need. I’ll give some suggestions later in this series for setting long-term goals, but I think you probably know what your immediate needs with your finances are. This is a difficult step because you may be on different pages about what your needs are. The most critical part of this step is agreement. You must agree to move on and that means that both of you will probably have to compromise somewhere. You don’t have to set massive, life-long goals at this point. Let’s just have a plan for the next six months right now. What do you want to do in the next six months, even if that is survive? If you can plan six months, you can plan a lifetime.

The next step is forming a plan. Figure out how much your immediate need will cost and go from there. I recommend looking at your expenses for the last three months to get a basic, monthly cost of living, subtracting that from your current income, and then looking at what is left. That is what you have for accomplishing your immediate need. If there isn’t anything left, you have two choices: more income or fewer expenses. If neither of those are options, don’t lose heart; we’ll talk about ways to find places to cut and gain in later weeks. 

Now that you know where you are, it’s time to agree on a plan to move forward. Find areas that both of you can cut expenses and decide an amount to save toward your plan. You’ll need a budget to follow. Maybe you are more disciplined than us, but without a real budget, we rarely achieve our goals. You can see a basic outline below. I think it can apply to anyone’s household finances.

So now you have a plan! It takes time, discipline, and lots of communication, but you can execute it. Over the next few times I blog here, I’ll be going over different aspects of household finances to help you modify and execute this plan. I’m praying that you’ll find this helpful. I’m no expert, but I believe that with good communication, you can achieve your goals.

Read Part Two
Read Part Three