Are You Repellant or Attractive

Are you repellant or attractive? Pause to think of that for a moment. Consider your interactions with others. Are people drawn to you or do they try to avoid you? How do they feel after having spent time with you? This is an area I feel God has been challenging me in lately. Daily, He’s challenging me to take my eyes off myself, off my agenda and challenges, and look around. Because it’s hard to love others when I’m consumed with me.

Today my sweet friend Julie Arduini, author of Entrusted, shares her thoughts on lighting up our world.

melodylodgekoct132_editedThe Attractive Light by Julie Arduini

We moved into what we’re believing is our “forever home” a couple months ago. It’s a place where we can have ministry events, entertain, encourage, and I even have an office to write. What’s also new for us is it’s in a development. Even after daily errands we’re still like tourists gawking at the homes and finding new things to enjoy each day.

Earlier this week I noticed something. One home has a gorgeous light in their foyer that when turned on is something you can see as you drive by. The home was designed to showcase that light and it’s attractive. I’m drawn to it every time I drive by. When turned off, it looks like every other house. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was “that house” until I looked closer and realized the fixture was there.

Isn’t that the same for us as believers in Christ? For the most part, we’re an easy group to find. You can see the joy in faces. Kind eyes. Smiles that allow others to put down their guard and share. Trust. And hopefully accept the invitation to a relationship with the One who invites through His love.

The world? It’s a place that isn’t eternally attractive. There isn’t much warm and inviting about it, and people are driven to fill a gap with superficial things that will be as productive as a hamster wheel. When I’m at events that aren’t ministry related or church-affiliated, it feels dark. Honestly, I wish a lot of the times I could pass by and avoid it all.

But we’re called to be like Him. To be that light. And as I drove by the house later that day the light was back on. For me it was a reminder. This has been a stressful year and I’ve been tempted more than once to check out. Ignore the need I saw. Keep a grudge when I was ID-100179171wronged. But that’s a mentality much like the beautiful house with the light turned off.

It’s a dark world filled with people craving light. Let’s re affirm our commitment to be the vessels He will use to bring light.

***

Julie Arduini is an author with a passion to encourage readers to find freedom through surrender. Her first Adirondack contemporary romance, Entrusted, gives readers hope to surrender fear. A Walk Through the Valley will soon be available as an infertility devotional with 5 other authors. She blogs every other Wednesday at Christians Read and is a frequent contributor to Jasmine’s Place. To learn more about her writing and love of chocolate, visit http://juliearduini.com. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedEntrusted:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows—literally—into Speculator Falls with a busted GPS, arriving in town as the new senior center director. She has only one goal—that of belonging no matter how out of place she appears and how angry she makes town councilman and grocer Ben Regan.

Her new life is so rural there are no traffic lights, and when she learns her car isn’t equipped to handle the mountain terrain, Ben’s grandmother offers her late husband’s vehicle, further alienating the local businessman.

As she endears herself to the seniors at the center and creates a vision full of ideas, programs, and equipment, she ruffles Ben’s plans to keep Speculator Falls void of change, including the store his grandfather built.

The two work through community events and shared heartbreak only to face off in a town council meeting where Ben publically rejects her proposal for the senior center, causing Jenna to react out of her fears about belonging.

She returns to Ohio where she realizes she needs to surrender her plans for the center and fears about belonging and trust her Heavenly Father when facing fear, change, loss, and love.

Buy it here.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Pause to think of people you know. Do any of them draw you to them? Make you feel special? Valued? Loved? Why is that?m Now pause to ask yourself this question: How do people feel around me? Am I acting like a light? What can I do to shine more brightly? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Before I go, I wanted to invite my Omaha Metro friends to my next book sighing, which will be held this Saturday. Come, bring a friend, and your sweet tooth because there will be chocolate! (And candy corn flavored taffy, my new favorite candy! 🙂 )Jennifer Slattery Poster_Community (1)-page-001 And be sure to pop by Beth’s blog tomorrow for our next Beyond I Do Bible study lesson. 🙂

Other posts you might enjoy:

Shining in the Dark

Are You Cancerous or Contagious

 

 

 

 

Are You Teachable?

“I’ll do it myself!” the two-year-old cries, stomping his pudgy food with fisted hands. ID-100284325

“I know what I’m doing,” says the stressed-out teenager who’s convinced they have a strong grasp on reality–and that we, the adults in their world, don’t.

“That editor just doesn’t get me!” says the writer who’s convinced their book is the next big seller, even though others have alerted them to major plot holes.

And so, they dig in their heels and continue on their way… further and further from the finish line.

ID-100260522Early in my writing career, my skin was thinner than a pears and as easily bruised. But before long I learned, if I truly wanted to grow, I’d need to allow God to develop within me a teachable spirit. This realization has helped me in every area of my life.

Are you doing the same? Today my sweet friend and fellow ICD writer shares her thoughts on teachability.

Are You Teachable by Susan AkenSusan'sheadshot

     (Read Ruth 3:1-6)

How do you react when someone gives you advice that is scary? We don’t know all of Ruth’s motivations and reasons for choosing to go with Naomi but we do know she was determined to stay with her and was deeply attached to her. Ruth had great respect for Naomi. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth devoted herself to taking care of Naomi and providing for her. She always listened to Naomi and followed her advice. In chapter 3, verses 1-6, Naomi asks her to get all dolled up and go to the threshing floor where Boaz is sleeping. She tells her to uncover his feet and lay down there. Verse 6 tells us that Ruth “did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.”

She took a great risk here. She risked being rejected and embarrassed. She couldn’t know without doubt how Boaz would react. I think Naomi was sure of his reaction but there was no guarantee. Naomi asked Ruth to take this risk because she knew that Boaz (as next of kin) was her best hope for a future and she knew that he had taken an interest in Ruth since he told her to only glean in his field and instructed his workers to leave extra grain. When Naomi told Ruth to lie at his feet and then ask him to spread his garment over her, this was a custom of the time to let him know she was interested in marriage. You can read more about this HERE:

Ruth allowed Naomi to guide her and trusted her advice.

BeyondIDocover In Beyond I Do, Ainsley also has a mentor who gives her advice. Her friend, Deborah, who led her to Christ is also her coach and friend. Deborah encourages Ainsley to stay open to her mom and to forgive her even though she would prefer to just shut her out of her life. Deborah asks her to take a risk by opening her heart to her mom. Her mom has hurt her so many times over the years and she is afraid of being hurt again. But Deborah keeps gently prodding Ainsley to reach out. She remains open and teachable with her mentor. In one beautiful scene, when Ainsley realizes that she is not sure what is next in her life, Deborah asks her, “If you could do anything, knowing God would stand behind you 100 percent, what would that be?” When Deborah asks that question, Ainsley knows immediately what her answer is. She has known it in her heart but Deborah helps her voice that desire. She helps Ainsley find her ministry to hurting families.

If we want to grow as Christians, we must remain open and teachable. When we think we know it all or that we don’t need advice, we’re headed for a fall. When someone speaks into our lives what feels like criticism or makes a suggestion that would take us out of our comfort zone, God uses it to help us to grow and become more mature. I am experiencing that in my life. My good friend, Jennifer, has become a writing mentor (though I am older than her) and she has recently given me some challenges as a writer that would take me out of my comfort zone. She is also helping me realize that I need to be open to advice and constructive criticism in order to grow as a writer. We need each other!

Some questions to discuss, pray over, and ponder:

First, if you haven’t already done so, read Ruth 3:1-6

  1. How do you react when someone offers advice that scares you?
  1. Are you cultivating a relationship with a mentor? (I don’t think it has to be someone older than you, just someone you can learn from) Is there someone you could mentor?
  1. Would you be willing to share about a mentor relationship and what you learned either when you were mentored or when you mentored someone else?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below, join the discussion in our email loop, or at our Facebook Group page Beyond I Do Bible Study Group. 

***

Susan Aken is a homemaker, substitute teacher and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband and son (she is now an empty nester). Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends and writing. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! Visit her online at Soaring With Butterfly Wings. Find out more about her writing or pick up one of her devotionals here.

Moving Past the Comfortable to the Extraordinary

Is your love for the convenient and comfortable keeping you from the extraordinary?

melodylodgekoct132_editedToday a sweet friend and talented author of Entrusted, Julie Arduini, challenges us to evaluate our life, opening ourselves up to God’s nudging, even if that nudging terrifies us or leads us well out of our comfort zones.

Moving Beyond the Comfortable by Julie Arduini

As Ruth worked the fields under the harsh sun and I suspect the wandering eyes of the fellow laborers, she wasn’t comfortable. The hours were long. It was dry and hot. Had I been out in those fields I confess it would take all of five minutes before the muttering would start. I would have imagined my life had I gone back home. Surely it would have been more…comfortable. I’d be angry thinking how Naomi would be home, not as hot and dirty, and although grieving, she’d still be what I was not.

Comfortable.

Ruth in the fields symbolized her faith walk. It was outside the comfort zone. She could have returned home. She stayed with Naomi. She could have refused to work the fields, but she didn’t. She could have kept the fruits of her labors for herself but she went home and gave the grain to Naomi.

I’ve never had to work a field but I have been challenged to step outside the comfort zone. With writing I remember the day God whispered it was time to say goodbye to writing the newsletter for the local Mothers of Preschoolers group. There wasn’t a bad thing in what I was doing, but God was calling me to do more. I had no idea what that more looked like, and walking in obedience was definitely a leaving the comfort zone experience.

I’ve left the comforts of a life I thought I would spend the rest of my days. We were an Upstate NY family, it was all I knew. When the financial fallout of 9/11 hit our area my husband’s job changed. An opportunity came in the exact time frame his job was ending but it was nearly 300 miles away. It meant leaving everything and everyone in a season where our baby was very ill and my dad passed away. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

BeyondIDocoverIn Beyond I Do, Ainsley’s life is a fairly predictable package. Things are planned out. Her life, her future is…comfortable. How tempting it is to ignore His call and bulldoze forward on our own strength and hopes. Ainsley’s choice is what Ruth had to face. What I had to surrender was the comfort zone.

It isn’t easy but Ruth’s story offers a great look at God’s heart. When Ruth obeys and surrenders the comfort zone she has a protector and provider named Boaz. He makes sure she receives food, drink, the most fruitful land, and stalks that had already been pulled out for her.

The very first day we moved to Ohio our daughter, severely delayed at the time because of her sickness, pulled herself to stand. Our son blossomed in his new school. My husband thrived and had dreams fulfilled at church.

Ainsley received a happy ending.

Leaving the comfort zone isn’t easy. It’s a choice nearly every minute to fight resentment and grumbling. But eternal rewards are there and as Ruth 2:1-17 show, favor is abundant.

That’s the zone I want. How about you?

Could you relate to Ruth and her obedience to leave a comfort zone by working the fields?

Do you tend to resent people who don’t seem called to leave the comfort zone?

Have you ever been in Ainsley’s position with a future mapped out but God was calling you in a different direction?

Describe a time when you felt God’s favor and protection.

What do you sense God is asking you to do with what you’re reading in Ruth 2?

***

Julie Arduini is an author with a passion to encourage readers to find freedom through surrender. Her first Adirondack contemporary romance, Entrusted, gives readers hope to surrender fear. A Walk Through the Valley will soon be available as an infertility devotional with 5 other authors. She blogs every other Wednesday at Christians Read and is a frequent contributor to Jasmine’s Place. To learn more about her writing and love of chocolate, visit http://juliearduini.com. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedEntrusted:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. I often tell our daughter, I’d much rather receive God’s blessings than consequences. What I mean is, I’d rather be walking in His will then venturing away from it. There’ve been many times when following God’s will has been difficult, uncomfortable, and frightening. Moving to Papillion was one! (You can read about that here.) But in every trial and triumph I’ve learned God is good, loving, and faithful. He truly does have our best in mind.

Share your thoughts in response to Julie’s questions here, via our study email, or at our Beyond I Do Bible Study Facebook group. If you’re not a part of our email loop or Facebook group and would like to be, simply shoot me an email and I’ll get you added. 🙂

WhenDawnBreakspreliminaryBefore I go, I wanted to share some exciting events in my world. I recently learned my novel, When Dawn Breaks, is available for pre-order at 25% off! You can get it here.

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution forces her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 23 page excerpt here.

The Truth About Marriage

Standing at the altar, you have no idea what lies ahead. Oh, you’ve heard stories. And countless people–like everyone in your church, neighborhood, on the job, and at your local grocery–have bombarded you with advice: marriage takes work. Always be ready to forgive. Learn to eat burned food (kinda wish someone would’ve told my hubby that one. *sheepish grin*). The list goes on.

But then life happens, and this love thing becomes harder than you’ve ever anticipated.

Ane-PR.headshot copyToday a sweet friend and very talented and giving author, Ane Mulligan, shares her thoughts on this thing called marriage, AND she’s got a hugely fun give-away going to help celebrate her debut, Chapel Springs Revival, which I hear is HILARIOUS! (Details below)

 

But first, I wanted to share a fun video created by one of my favorite preachers, Francis Chan. Enjoy:

On Marriage by Ane Mulligan

Twenty years ago or so, I heard two young women in a church hallway complaining about their husbands. Let’s face it; we all joke about men coming from Mars and women from Venus, but that’s not what they were doing. They were stirring the water in a bitter well.

Another Sunday, I overheard another conversation (yes, I’m a writer and we tend to eavesdrop). It went something like this:

“I just learned that God has the perfect mate all picked out for each of us, and we’re supposed to pray to find that person.”

“Sure, so?”

“I didn’t do that! I didn’t know. So, that must mean Sam* isn’t the one God wants me married to.”

Uh-oh. The conversation went downhill from there to include the word “divorce.” I later pulled her aside for a “Titus 2:4” moment.

If a woman wasn’t a Christian before she married, God still knew her. He knew his plans for her. Jer 29:11. Her husband is His will for her.

I’m not talking about women in abusive marriages. That’s totally different.

The thing so many young women forget is marriage isn’t what the movies or secular romance novels show. Marriage is a contract. A commitment. For better or worse, the vows say. WhenID-10094774 we make this commitment, God expects us to stay committed to our marriage.

That takes making a purposeful decision to not dwell on our husbands’ faults. Oh, I know they have them; but so do we. Years ago, I found myself focusing on my husband’s faults. Jesus said we can’t get bitter and sweet water from the same well. When we start down that path, we lose sight of their good qualities.

Things went from bad to worse. Finally I got tired of trying to change my husband. I was out of love. There wasn’t a drop of sweet water left in the well. I knew what I’d been doing but I didn’t know how to fix it.

“Lord, I give up. I don’t know what you want, but from now on, I’m going to concentrate on You and me. Change me, Lord. I’ll leave my husband to You.”

I’m sure you can guess what happened. God changed me, but at the same time, my husband changed. I began to see his wonderful qualities and all the things he did for me. The well water became sweet again.

That’s when I realized if we don’t workout our love, it becomes like a muscle that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years—flabby. And stale. And atrophied.

Yes, love is a decision that demands commitment and work. But what a sweet ride it can be. Guard you love, your hearts, and your marriages.

CSR COVER copyChapel Springs Revival

Buy it here!

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

GIVE-AWAY DETAILS: Leave it to the crazy, hilarious, and insanely creative (or just insane? 😉 ) Ane Mulligan to come up with perhaps the funnest give-away EVER!

Today’s stops and there’s 4! Good luck.
Here! (As a fun aside, I’m on her blog today, too. Which I find incredibly cool because Ane has been a huge influence in my writing career. She ran the ACFW Scribes class when I first joined ACFW and taught me to use strong, vivid verbs. She taught me to name–be specific about sensory details (saying she smelled the faint scent of lilacs rather than flowers to trigger a deeper response in my reader), and I could go on. And on. And on, as could every other ACFW member, I’m sure!

She will also be on:
3 Men Walk Into a Blog
Jude Urbanski
Jo Huddleston

1. Each day you leave a comment on this blog during September, your name goes into the drawing.

2. Leave a comment on each of the blogs I’m on that day, and each one will earn you another name in the drawing. (For instance, if I’m on 3 blogs that day, and you leave a comment on each of them, you’ll get your name into the drawing 3 more times.)

3. If you post on your Facebook page that you have commented on a blog I’m on, tag me, and give the link, you get your name in two (2) extra times.

4. Tweet and tag me, giving the link, and your name goes in another time.

5. Google+ the same as #3, and you’ll get our name in two (2) extra times.

Today’s BONUS entries:
What do I believe about coffee?
What does Jennifer write?
Who are the 3 men in that blog linked to above?

As an aside, I’ve been told readers have had a tough time leaving comments. If you find this to be the case, please shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery@gmail.com and I’ll manually enter your comment.

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this!

Are you married? If so, what has been the biggest surprise in terms of sticking it out? Have you ever come close to calling it quits? What helped you persevere? How can we as parents help prepare our kids to work toward lifelong commitment once they get married?

Perhaps you’re divorced. Looking back over your marriage, can you see things you wished you’d done differently? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

My debut novel, Beyond I Do, addresses a bit of what we’re talking about today. As Ainsley Meadows’ wedding day draws near, nigglings of doubt begin to arise, leaving her unsettled. As she prays about this, she realizes something huge has been missing in her wedding plans–prayer itself! She was so swept away by the flowers and romance, she failed to take time to seek God’s guidance. These doubts grow to gut-knotting confusion when an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks within her a passion and ignites a long-hidden dream, one that threatens to change EVERYTHING! Read more here. You can buy it here! (or get an autographed copy at Takin’ it to the Streets’ Hope for the Homeless event.)

Other posts and articles you might enjoy:

My Marriage Before and After

Monkfish and Marriage

AND, where I’ve been this week:

Don’t Be Discouraged or Afraid

5 Tips for Stronger Writing

5 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Needs From You

 

 

 

 

The Dangers of Comparison

However strong you are, there’s always someone stronger. There’s always someone smarter, more talented, more patient… a better cook, a better parent, a better spouse. Surrounded by so many folks who are better than us in so many ways, how can we ever measure up???

DSC_0065Isn’t it nice to know we don’t have to? Today my sweet friend and Young Adult Author of Saving Yesterday, Jessica Keller, shares her thoughts on this ugly and self-defeating game of comparison.

Note: Jessica is giving away a free copy, print or kindle, of Saving Yesterday. Winner will be randomly selected from the comments left on this post. 

***

“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” -2 Corinthians 10:12

I’m going to come right out of the gate with a shocking confession for you—sometimes I compare myself to others and really find myself lacking. The situation changes, but the same thought still nags at the back of my mind. You don’t quiet measure up.

Have you been there?

The internet doesn’t always help this feeling. Pinterest tells me I’m not creative enough. Etsy says I’m not industrious enough. Facebook tells me I’m not liked enough. And Twitter says not that many people want to follow little old me.

It’s so easy to wander into the land of “if only” when these thoughts start to hound us. If only I were smarter. If only I if only I were...had more energy. If only I had more money. If only—then I’d feel confident and secure in who God made me to be.

In my book Saving Yesterday, the heroine Gabby Creed really struggles with this. She’s tossed into a world where everyone else knows all the rules and she’s making mistake after mistake. She just wants to belong—to be like them, all the while forgetting that she’s created special and different for a purpose.

We can all take heart because we’re not alone in these thoughts. In fact, the very first woman we meet in the Bible struggled with this too. From the moment God breathed life into Eve she knew her position as a child of God and the highest point in creation. She was surrounded by love from God and a man who adored her (Adam was pretty excited when she was created). Eve had what every woman longs for—love, intimacy, purpose, and significant. Pretty amazing, huh?

Even still, all it took was a whisper reminding her what she wasn’t and what she didn’t have for her to feel insecure. The serpent only had to say once that Eve could have more and be more if only God didn’t hold out on her—that’s all it took for doubt to take root and doubt almost always turns into poor choices.

If Eve in her ideal situation couldn’t help but measure her life against an absurd ruler that didn’t even exist—what hope do we have? Plenty. Know what would have changed everything in Eve’s situation—and can change us? Instead of focusing on who we are not and what we don’t have—flip that—and focus on who we are in Christ (a child of God) and what we have (a relationship with Him, keys to the Kingdom, an eternity spent worshiping the one true God).

You are loved beyond measure and understanding.

Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Romance. You can find her at www.JessicaKellerBooks.com, on Twitter @AuthorKeller, or on her Facebook author page (www.facebook.com/jessicakellerauthor)

SavingYesterday_CVR_MEDSaving Yesterday:

Her blood holds secrets she never knew existed.

Despite the fact that she acts as a parent to her alcoholic father, Gabby Creed feels pretty normal. But her life is turned upside-down on her seventeenth birthday when a bracelet appears on her wrist and sucks her back through time.

Turns out she’s not even a little bit normal. She’s a Shifter—a protector of humans and of history itself. And she’s not alone. The other Shifters believe Gabby is special, even more special than the mysterious Michael Pace. Oh, and the Shades—seriously creepy creatures who feed off of human despair—are determined to capture her.

It’s all a lot to absorb. So Gabby’s grateful to have Michael as her Trainer—or she would be if she could get her rebellious heart under control. Then again, if the rumors about her blood are true, saving yesterday will be the least of her worries.

Purchase it here: on Kindle and print.

Let’s talk about this! I’m pretty sure we all play the comparison game. We measure ourselves against what we “see”. The ironic thing is, we only see or hear the soundbites, the highlights, not the hidden struggles. In fact, that very person we compare ourselves to may livingbygracepic.jpbe comparing themselves to us! Oh, to see ourselves as Christ sees us: transformed, redeemed, immensely loved and set on a trajectory for eternal greatness. If we’d but take our eyes off everyone else and re-center them squarely on Christ, this journey toward growth and transformation would be so much easier!

So how do we do that? What are some ways you’ve successfully battled this cancer of comparison? What verses make this easier? How does your relationship with Christ help with this? We’d love to hear about your struggles and successes. 🙂 Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Forced to Choose

sorrow-and-worry-692910-mIt’s a choice I never wanted to make. It tore me up, tore my daughter up, and I’m pretty sure, it tore my husband up as well. But when a situation arose where I had to choose between my husband and my child, I knew there was really only one choice I could make. For if I followed my mother’s heart, the one that longs to buffer my child from every pain and surround her with nothing but abundant blessings, I honestly believe I would’ve robbed her of that which blesses her most–parents with a healthy, united marriage.

It was 2012, and my daughter and I were content. Happy. We lived in a great cul-de-sac filled with involved parents and great kids. The kind of neighborhood where parents kidsplayingfelt safe allowing their kids to play outside on late summer nights. We were involved in a growing church, had our hands in meaningful ministries. Our evenings were filled with family dinners, lots of hugs, and plenty of laughter.

Only my husband wasn’t happy. Not fully. Long story short, things outside our home had become toxic, and he was ready for a change. For peace. When his boss offered him a transfer to the corporate offices in Omaha, he saw his chance.

But this chance came at a price. We’d have to sell the home we loved, one we’d spent a great deal of time and money-making our “own”. We’d have to leave our church and the connections we’d made. Worse, we’d have to uproot our high school daughter. Surviving high school is hard enough. Her trying to navigate the inherently awkward halls as a newbie? The thought made me ill.

I’ve seen her weather enough broken friendships, unexpected rejections, and cliques to know this was going to be tough. Painfully tough. I worried about lonely lunches and even lonelier weekends as she waited, and waited, and waited to establish safe, lasting friendships. In fact, I worried myself sick, and prayed for a solution. One that could provide a much-deserved blessing for my precious husband while allowing our daughter to finish high school in Kansas City.

I knew if I complained or fought against it, my husband would stay. Because that’s how he is, always putting others first. But I also knew how much he needed this move, how much he deserved it. And I trusted if I put my husband first, God would bless our daughter for it.

So we went, and I’m pretty sure the summer that followed was the toughest our daughter had ever faced.

And I wondered why? Why did what was good for one have to come at the cost of another?

It didn’t. It just took time for us to catch sight of God’s blessing. Which is what this move has been–a blessing. For all of us. On New Year’s Eve, as I listened to giggles rising from a basement of teens, I thought back to our move and all God has done since078. God has returned to us all we lost in Kansas City triplefold. And our daughter? She didn’t really lose anything. Her truest friends held on, and they remain close to this day. But now she has many more friends to add to her circle. Great friends. Christ-centered friends.

In short, this move turned out to be exactly what our daughter needed.

Because when we do things God’s way, everyone wins.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this.

But… before we do, I want to invite you to pop on over to a new blog I joined with some of my sweet writer friends, Faith-filled Friends. We started this blog so we’d have a place to talk about our books, our characters, our fun research outings, and all the other things that make us smile. This month, we’re hosting a launch give-away. Join the conversation and get entered into the drawing for some great books and precious jewelry. 🙂 And make sure to subscribe, because you never know when there’ll be other gift baskets to win.

Then, join the conversation at Living by Grace as we chat about making difficult choices. Can you relate? Have you ever felt as if God were asking you to choose between a child and your spouse? If so, what did you do, and what was the result? Why do you believe it’s imperative, not just for us, but for our children as well, to put our marriage first?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

Stockinged Feet

Parents, everything we do and say affects not only the atmosphere of our home and family relationships, but has the capacity to penetrate deep into our children’s hearts as well. At each moment, we are either building up or tearing down.

I don’t know about you, but things can get pretty frazzled in the Slattery arguing-440262-mhousehold, and there are days when it’s all I can do to keep myself in check. Throw no fits, burn no meals, start no arguments…

Honestly, 99% of the time, it comes down to a choice: Will I fight for my rights or die to myself, ecarole180ven if that means surrendering the last piece of apple pie?

Today Carole Brown is back with us sharing one of the most beautiful true life stories I have heard in some time.

Stockinged Feet by Carole Brown

Have you ever had an event unfold in front of your eyes that caused it to become a “Stick-in-your-mind” remembrance?

We were young–my husband and I–and in our second pastorate with two young sons. As any pastor and his family can tell you, pastoring can be either a blessing or a trial, in it’s own way and depending on the characters, emotions and personalities of all involved. This one was no different: the neighborhood was–uh, unique, the people, kind of what would be called as isolated, and the church located a distance away from our families.

One week. in our pastor-ish duties, we visited a couple a certain evening. Now my husband, Dan, has always set high standards of dress and neatness for himself so why on earth we would be visiting with him wearing work boots is something I definitely don’t remember.

But I do remember the remark the wife made as we entered. “Wish my husband could afford new boots.”

These were new boots, only we hadn’t bought them. Dan’s brother (for whatever reason) didn’t want them and passed them on to my husband, who was happy to get them. You learn to be especially thankful for every little blessing that comes your way when you’re pastoring!

My husband said nothing, but after we were seated, he bent over and unlaced the boots and calmly slipped his feet from them. The evening went on as if nothing had been said.

When it came time to leave, my husband headed for the door, minus the boots and in his stocking feet.

Of course, the wife was flustered. But my husband was adamant that he was to give those boots to her husband. Any other man might have been suspect of a tinge of “pay back” or perhaps even loftiness, but not Dan. Knowing him as I did then, and even now looking back, Iold-worn-out-boots-1013579-m realize that his act truly came from a generous heart. He had two pairs of boots–the old and the new. He chose the old.

Silly? No. Because that action stuck in my mind and our sons’ minds. We saw generosity in motion. Ever after we will remember the boot episode and be grateful God gave us a wonderful–full-hearted man for a husband and father. That’s probably one reason why our sons consider him their best friend and why all these years later, he’s still my hero.

***

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here online at her blog, on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

Her novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman:

The Redemption of Caralynne HaymanHow far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

Order your copy now!  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1938499948/

More posts and resources you might enjoy:

Dying to Live

Death by Wheat Squares

Compassion is Caught and Taught

The Family God Uses by Tom Blackaby

Not Another Blog????

Um… yeah. For now, anyway.

heart-718085-mEach day, it seems, I encounter someone else struggling with chronic illness, and I’ve seen how much health can impact our mood, how we view ourselves, and our relationships with others and God.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I might have 0 answers, but I’ve decided to share my journey in the hopes that others will find encouragement and support.

The one thing I’ve heard from others struggling with chronic health issues is the constant feeling of blame–blame we place on ourselves, blame we interpret from others, blame others come right out and assign.

But friend, today, I want to say to you, “Its Not Your Fault.”  If those words resonate with you, come join me at Food, Faith, and Pharmaceuticals. 🙂