Monday, June 25, 2018

Taking an Interest

Today, I want to talk about something that I’ve touched on before, but I think is really important and often overlooked, so I’m bringing it up again. I really believe this is one of the dividing lines between “okay” marriages and great marriages. What is it? It’s supporting your spouse’s interests and endeavors.

What do I mean by these? It’s easiest for me to describe how it works in our marriage, and maybe you can apply it to yours. Laura supports me by taking an interest in things I like or participating in personal projects that I’m attempting. She goes to see comic book movies with me, she watches sports teams I like, she goes to historical sites, and she even goes on long hikes with me to help me toward my fitness goal of rucking events.

This isn’t how most couples function, and I don’t think you have to share every single interest in your life. But I do think you need some overlap. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have gone to see Justice League on her own, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t watch all those Hallmark movies at Christmas time on my own. That’s the beauty of it, though. We truly do enjoy those crossover things. Not because we would do it on our own, but because seeing someone you love find something they really like and enjoying it with them is a really good feeling.

This is quality time I’m talking about here. I see so many husbands and wives say things like, “I don’t care about antiquing, she can do that with her friends” or “I could care less about going out in the woods and sitting in the cold.” There is a new level of friendship, which is important in your marriage, that is achieved when you just do things together.

Try it out. I really think you’ll find it makes a difference. I don’t think diving head first into every interest or activity that your spouse is into is a good idea. It will probably overwhelm you both. Start with their favorite thing. Take an interest. Go participate. See where that leads you. I think you’ll be happy with the time you get to spend together.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Recommended Reading--June

We're halfway through the year. Hard to believe, huh?

I've shared with you already how reading is changing my writing. Books have always been my thing. In fact, as a kid, I was grounded from reading--the only consequence my parents could think of that removed what was dearest to me.

But now I'm reading as a writer, and it's rocking my world, in a good way. :) I set a goal to read 50 books this year, and I'm already at 35 books--70% of that goal. (Time to up it?) I've read all five of the books on my "can't wait to read in 2018" list, and they did not disappoint.

It'll be hard to narrow 35 books to my top five favorites, but here's what I'd recommend so far:

1. Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay. I am so glad someone recommended Reay to me. I am in love with her books and am tearing through everything she's written. So, so good. Unique. Clever. Well-written. If you have any affection for Jane Austen or British literature references, you'll love these books.

2. Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay. Read this one with a Kleenex, but the emotions are so worth it. My family has experienced breast cancer, and Reay captures this journey well.

3. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I loved the way this plot was presented with two story lines. I couldn't put it down. Heart-wrenching, especially that it's as much fact as fiction. But a powerful ending.

4. Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter. I loved both of these characters immediately and wanted them to make it. A great message of hope for marriage, even when it feels hopeless.

5. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. Similar to the Before We Were Yours contemporary / historical flashback style, the plot for this book is brilliant, weaving one thread through 100 years. My heart ached for the 9/11 connections, but beauty despite tragedy is a powerful message.

What about you, friends? What are you reading right now? What's on your "to be read" list?

Monday, June 11, 2018

My Man's Father's Heart

I love this man of mine. He is not a father, but he has such a father’s heart. 

The other day, my nephew had a birthday party. There was tons of water and four-year-old laughter in my sister’s backyard. Howell taught Canyon how to squirt the water soaker before the party started (which means he had half the adults in our family soaked before the kids arrived—thanks, Uncle Hal).

At one point, I look up, and he’s on the playground, pushing a kid on the swing we barely know.

A week before my dad had sent me this picture of him with my youngest nephew, Case. We had a girls night at Board and Brush, and Howell hung out with my nephews and brother-in-law. At the end of the night, I think he said he saw the same three trolls episodes 47 times. Now that’s love.

A week later, we’re in Killeen with his brother’s kids, celebrating a niece’s graduation. Anytime Howell was seated, the youngest was in his lap, and wherever he went, his nieces and nephews were not far. 

And just this week, I’ve listened to him mentor young men, encouraging them at work and counseling them about their marriages or families.

We may not have kids yet, but already God is using him as a father figure in the lives of so many. 

It reminded me of the time I learned about Having Faith in the Gap, that morning when my tears were not lady-like and my hubs pulled me to the front for prayer and a man and a woman who are now friends of ours prayed over us. And I’ll never forget—this is almost 5 years ago—the man looked at Howell and said you were created to be a father. And then he prayed for Howell’s father’s heart.

We’re still in the gap, but you know what? Time doesn’t stop while we wait for answered prayers. And God has the opportunity to impart His Father’s heart into others because of Howell’s willingness to love and invest in those relationships. 

So, Sunday is Father’s Day. If your hubs is a father, thank him for the role he plays in your kid’s life. Don’t criticize, even if you wish he’d do something different. Just thank him. 

If you're a single mom, thank the father figures God's put in your children's lives. 

And if your hubs isn’t a father yet, then speak life into those dreams and encourage him to use his gifts for other young people, the ones we get to practice on til we have our own. :)

This is the body of Christ working together to demonstrate God's heart for us, His desire that we know Him as a good Dad--the best Dad ever. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Smells like Skunk...Again

Last weekend, Rizzoli was sprayed by a skunk. Again. It wasn't quite so bad this time. We think she was running away (lesson learned?) and was only slightly dusted.

But the experience reminded me of this old post, which my heart needed to read this morning, even if it makes me miss my Charlie.


Do you see these two? Don’t they look like angels?

Perfect angels, right?

We all remember Rizzoli’s three near-death experiences, so maybe only one of them fits that description. Unfortunately, even Charlie, “the good kid,” was on my bad list a few weeks ago when both of our dogs got sprayed by a skunk in our backyard.


They had the creature cornered where he could not escape, and they were not deterred by the stinky smells at all. We’re convinced they got sprayed more than once at close range.

It took about four days to get the smell out of the house—and even still, I swear it lingers in a few places.

We gave the dogs 11 baths (Rizzoli, the lucky one, receiving one more bath than Charlie) with all kinds of home remedies, Pinterest suggestions, old wives tales, and vet-recommended solutions. Nothing helped with the smell—at least not on first application. We did have some success with the de-skunk shampoo the vet’s office sells, but it took three applications each.

Even now, almost two weeks later, I still smell it when Rizzoli shakes her ears, her now-shedding hair flying in the air, and I groan.

What a mess!

The timing was terrible, of course. It initially happened just before bed, on a night when we were already getting in bed late.

I fell into bed at 1:00 a.m., exhausted.

The next day we were leaving town, and I just wanted to give up, to lay down and say, “I can’t do this.”

(For the record, my hubs, as usual, was the rockstar. I think he gave 5 or 6 baths in a short span of a few hours.)

Two days later, the smell wasn’t better—for the dogs or our house. I felt so discouraged.
We’d light candles and spray aromas and bought every imaginable wall plug, but all of that only temporarily masked the smell.

Now that I’ve had some time and space from what really was an unpleasant experience at an inopportune time, I feel like the Lord has used that to speak spiritual truth to my heart.

Y’all, maybe I’ve only been masking the smell, but this has been a challenging six months. I’ve been tested to what feels like my core. My patience. My attitude. My humility. My leadership.
Even my values have been tested.

What’s more important: What God says about me or what people say? Pleasing God or pleasing man?
What’s do I value most: Being recognized, validated, defended, appreciated? Or being a daughter, accepted and beloved?

It’s been tough, and I’ve seen my flesh on a new level.

I felt like the Lord reminded me that when I try to do this life stuff on my own, it’s like spraying Fabreeze around my house and hoping it will make the smell go away.

Funny, right? Because it’s so foolish.

Only the Holy Spirit can do the real work, the under-the-surface work, where the skunk’s poison resides, where it’s settled and seeped into pores and pockets.

I recently had someone speak a word over me, and he said that I needed to unyoke myself to the things that trouble my heart. Howell told me afterward that he immediately felt like that meant unyoking myself to other people’s opinions of me.

This isn’t new information or a new struggle—of course I shouldn’t care what others think, and I’ve known this is a habit of mine for a while.

But something about that phrase—unyoke yourself—really got my attention.

I always thought of the “do not be yoked” verses as relating to marriage or relationships. But Howell’s exactly right. I’ve yoked myself to what other people think of me rather than yoking myself to the Lord and letting His opinion rule.

If there’s a spiritual smell to being yoked to others’ opinions, I guarantee it’s worse than a skunk.

What about you, friends? Do you struggle with performing, pleasing, striving?

I understand completely! Let’s let Holy do a major detox in our hearts today.