Taking Comfort in God

Job loss, hurting children, struggling marriages, feelings of helplessness. These issues are real and painful, and often leave us feeling lonely. But how timely is our Lord? Last week, I talked about having confidence in God during uncertain times. Read on as Lisa talks about taking comfort in God.

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Cup of Comfort
by Lisa Flickinger

The garage door squawked at ten in the morning. Was that my husband? I padded across the hardwood and rounded the corner to the entry way.

“What are you doing home?” I asked.

brown-shoes-1150071_640His shoulders slumped as he replied, “They let me go.”

“No!”

Thirty-three years of dedicated service to the same company – all gone in one bleak moment.  The bosses could spin it any way they wanted to, and they did. The dismissal came down to one of the superiors wanting my husband’s job for his own friend. Was the decision influenced by my husband’s refusal to “get loaded” on company time? Probably. Was he an easy mark because he was known for saying grace at the company Christmas party instead of telling dirty jokes? Maybe.

Regardless of the reason, the feeling of betrayal from the outside world pushed its way through to the inside world and affected our marriage. We shouldn’t have played the blame game or the what-if game. We should have supported one another, cared for one another, and prayed for one another. Easy to say.

Jesus understood what we were going through. Isaiah 53:3 says “He was despised and cross-918459_640rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (ESV). Jesus was betrayed unto death by one of his closest friends. How crushing the blow must have felt coming from someone he loved, yet he still laid down his life for the betrayer and for us.

He also promised comfort, comfort as big as our trial. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5). Walking in the comfort of our Lord was a choice, a choice we needed to renew every day. And as we experienced the comfort of our Lord, by spending time in His presence, we were able to share His comfort with one another.

How good to know we serve an understanding and generous Lord.

***

All That Glitters CoverThe world has gone plum crazy over gold. Men and women alike would do almost anything to make their fortune. Leaving behind her family and a dying father, Ginny Connor follows the cunning Logan Harris up North to strike it rich. Twenty-year old Vivian Connor embarks on a cross-country chase to rescue her sister Ginny and they are both led into the chaos of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Meanwhile, Ben McCormack leaves his farm to retrieve his intended bride from a rowdy, tent town on the Alaskan coastline. Ben’s path inadvertently entwines with Vivian’s and he finds his heart tugging him in a different direction.

Danger and disappointment plague all their journeys to the far North. Will Vivian find her sister in time to return home to see their father? Can Ginny forgive herself for the decisions she’s made? Will Ben find the lifelong love he searches for? When the world listens only to the call of gold, redemption and love become scarce treasures.

***

Author PicLisa Flickinger lives in the shadow of the Rockies with her husband Matthew and their dog Zeke. When not writing or reading, you will find her combing antique shops, walking in the woods, or sipping a latte with friends. All That Glitters fulfills the lifelong dream of sharing the characters in her head with you, dear reader. Enjoy!

Find Lisa on her web siteFacebook, and Amazon.

 

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Let’s talk about this! When facing uncertainty, how does knowing that Jesus understands what you’re going through give you comfort? Do you have any verses to share with us that give you peace in the midst of uncertainty? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over at Living by Grace on Facebook.

 

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Defusing Conflict in Your Marriage

Early in our marriage, it seemed Steve and I spent more time fighting than talking, and with every ID-100160817argument, our hearts grew a little harder and the distance between us widened. More than that, we developed a pattern of behavior and a completely skewed perception of one another.

It’s amazing how quickly negative behavior patterns can take hold, and how quickly those patterns can affect our thoughts. The two are always interconnected. The more we fight with our spouse, the greater the tendency we have to see them as our enemy, and the more they become our enemy, the more negatively we view them. 

The latter is the kicker, and it creates a quickly spiraling hotbed of negative thinking.

20160602_101945Years ago, when Steve and I were just beginning to follow God’s way of loving one another, we went to a marriage retreat. While there, one of the speakers provided a visual that’s stuck with me. He held a quarter out at arm’s length, then talked about how he barely noticed the quarter. It was but a blip in his vision. But then he began to bring the quarter closer and closer to one eye. As he did, the quarter grew bigger, more dominant in his view, and everything in his peripheral blurred.

Now, imagine that quarter is one of your spouse’s behaviors. First of all, I’m not talking about abusive or destructive behaviors like addiction. I’m talking about stuff like leaving dirty laundry on the floor, the garage door open, or perhaps even saying something callus on occasion–it happens, folks. None of us are Jesus.

Back to the quarter/behavior. The more we focus on it, thinking about it, nagging our spouse about it, the bigger that thing becomes until it dominates our view. But if we pull back and consider that behavior as but one of many other quite positive behaviors, that thing shrinks … and our tenderness grows. 

This is a powerful conflict defuser, at least for the one practicing it, and when one participant in the conflict softens, the other has a much greater likelihood of doing the same.

So, step one is consciously, deliberately think of your spouse’s good. 

Here’s how it plays out in my home. Conflict often arises when both of us are tired or aren’t feeling well, because, well, honestly, that’s when we begin to self-preserve, but that’s a topic for another post. Looking around at all the things left undone that I have no energy to do, I can easily get irritated at my husband for “not helping.” (Largely because I’m quick to focus on how I’m feeling but slow to recognize when he’s feeling the same.)

BUT when I pause to remember all the times he’s gone grocery shopping for me, washed our cars, mowed the lawn, washed dirty dishes … you get the idea, I’m reminded he’s really a good guy at heart. And he truly does love me. He’s just having an off day. (We all have those, right?)

Step two: walk away. 

This can be crazy hard because our pride will convince us we need the last word, or will make us view the argument as competition or a challenge, as if winning the fight has any positive value at all. (Most often, to the contrary. We can win the fight and lose our marriage. It happens all the time. Almost happened to Steve and I.)

But don’t just walk away; walk away to pray–for your marriage and that God would align contemplation-176883_1920your heart with His. Because chances are, without God’s help, all we’ll do is stew. And become more angry, more hurt, and more committed to digging in our heels in this fight against our spouse, and we’ve already established how helpful that is. (Read sarcasm into that last phrase.) Granted, praying in the middle of a conflict is incredibly hard, but it’s also incredibly powerful. Marriage transforming powerful.

Step three: Return calm, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and with one goal in mind–unity. 

If your goal is anything else, return to step one.

Obviously, following these steps won’t resolve every issue you and your spouse will face, but man will it put you on the best footing for that to occur.

And if you try all those steps (really try, and recognize you might need to cycle through them more than once, especially when dealing with more difficult issues) and you and your spouse are still at opposing ends, get help. Seek out a Christ-centered, wise,  unbiased individual who can walk beside you. Because the marriage God intended is within your grasp, and it’s beautiful. Beautiful enough to work for. 

LoveThrivesVerseJpgEven if it means setting that ugly, prideful, selfish, wounded self aside. (Speaking to myself here, because when I get to the heart of things, it’s usually my self-centeredness that’s causing a chunk of our issues.)

Let’s talk about this! What are some things you’ve found livingbygracepic-jpto be helpful in defusing a conflict? Have you tried any of the steps listed above, and if so, what were the results? Share your thoughts and experiences with us, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Oh, and before you go, I invite you to join my alter ego, Jen Pheobus, at her new blog! You can do so HERE. You can also read Jen’s first post on Christian Reads, a piece on the importance of guarding our words when life squeezes us, HERE. And make sure to like her Facebook page HERE to stay up to date on her writing journey. 🙂

Christ, the Church, and Marriage

We often go into marriage expecting it to be easier than it truly is. Did you enter your marriage thinking that being a Christian would insulate you from struggles, only to stumble–or witness your spouse stumble–and have to walk a path littered with pain? If you have–or currently are–there is hope!

-Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.-Hebrews 10-23, E

Marriage: a Representation of Christ and the Church
by Toni Shiloh

A lot of us enter marriage with a heart full of love and expectations of happy ever after. When struggles appear we either fold under the pressure or keep trucking on. Then the portrait-119851_640struggles get harder. The tally sheet longer. Until you find yourself at the crossroads of stay married or divorce.

What I’ve learned in my ten plus years of marriage is that easy isn’t a path in marriage. I thought that being a representation of Christ and the Church guaranteed easy. It seemed it should be a representation of purity and righteousness.

Then I stumbled. Stumbled so far I fell into the pit, dragging my husband right along with me. Funny how rock bottom shows you your choices don’t just affect you alone.

Then God happened.

He made me see how sinful I was. Made me realize my need of a Savior and His grace.

Then my husband forgave me. He chose to let love cover a multitude of my sins. Watching his behavior, reading my Bible, talking to God, all of it made me realize the truth of Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

Our marriage was a true representation of Christ and the Church.

My husband died to his self and gave his life and dreams, hopes, expectations up all to sunshine-923890_640forgive me. He showed me unconditional love.

I was the church. The bride in need of forgiveness and salvation. My husband acted as Christ, forgiving me. We became one in our union and showed our friends and family what Christ’s actions truly meant.

I implore you, if you’re struggling in your marriage, remember Christ’s sacrifice. Cling to His hope and pick the road to resurrect your marriage. Seek His wisdom and guidance and He will be faithful to give it.

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A Life to LiveMia is headed to the famed Nottingham for a month long vacation. She never imagined she’d run into her high-school sweetheart thousands of miles away from her home town. Why would God throw them back together?

Caleb always regretted the way things ended with his high-school girlfriend, Mia. After a chance encounter in the streets of Nottingham, Caleb feels God is giving him a second chance to right the wrongs he committed. Unbeknownst to him, Mia has secrets that may require his forgiveness. Will her past overshadow his wrongs?

As Mia and Caleb work through old hurts and broken hearts will they let the blessing of forgiveness redeem their relationship?

Find A Life to Live on Amazon and Nook.

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Toni ShilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an Air Force veteran, and a member of the body of Christ.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She likes to volunteer at her children’s school. When she’s not writing, she’s reading. An avid reader of Christian fiction, she writes reviews on her blog and enjoys helping other authors find readers.

She self-published a Christian contemporary romance novella, A Life to Live, and is at work writing her next novel.

Find Toni on her website, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and the group blog, Putting On the New.

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Toni shared from experience how she stumbled in her marriage only to have her husband extend the love and grace of Christ. Have you experienced grace and forgiveness in your marriage? Or have you been the one to extend such love as Christ has for the Church? What Scripture helped you through such difficult times? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Living by Grace.

As a fun aside, Toni is highlighting my debut novel, Beyond I Do, on her blog today. Pop over to have a peak-see! I’m also on Jo Huddleston’s blog, talking about how we find our inner strength. Join me HERE.

Then come back Monday, because I’ve got some fun news to share, and some questions I want to ask you. 🙂

 

 

Marriage of the Minds

“Love never gripes.”

Ouch.

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t nag, pester, and stomp around, releasing exasperated sighs, either. Yet I’ve done my fair share of all those. But over the years, God has been showing both my husband and I a better way.

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Marriage of the Minds
By Gail Kittleson

Our marriage of nearly thirty-eight years has certainly tested the waters. The first decade, engrossed in childbearing and rearing, simplified life. So much to do, so much to child-1065633_640focus on, I rarely felt unfulfilled.

My husband agrees—his work provided purpose and satisfaction, although it took some time to settle into that work. Our missionary stint in Africa ended in seeming failure, but led to him finding his niche stateside.

We divided duties much as our parents, Greatest Generation members, did. I took care of the household and children, while my husband brought in the bacon. However, he helped out with the children in many ways—his mother commented more than once that his dad definitely never changed a diaper or took turns with night watches.

The “love chapter,” I Corinthians 13, read at so many weddings,
sets high standards for us, married or not.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NLT).

And Shakespeare agrees:

SONNET 116 PARAPHRASE
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Let me not declare any reasons why two
Admit impediments. Love is not love True-minded people should not be married. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds, Which changes when it finds a change in circumstances …

 

My husband and I married in 1978, after age 25 and earning master’s degrees. We were settled. But the third decade of our union brought more strife and tension than either of us expected.

Some of this might have been due to my husband’s two year + deployments to Iraq. But my slow emotional development played a role, too. During the early years, more than happy to take care of everyone and everything, I saw rescuing and fixing as my spiritual gifts.

Oops.

In fact, I neglected my own growth and gifts along the way. Looking back, I think I’d have old-people-275319_640been happier if I’d enjoyed the self-confidence to pursue my writing career. But I didn’t, and building confidence takes a long time. A patient spouse helps too.

I’m happy to say we continued our journey together in spite of some nasty bumps that jostled us out of complacency. This winter, we spent one of our most memorable months together, my husband enjoying his relatively new photography hobby, and me editing away on a novel.

I hope our story encourages anyone enduring a bumpy time right now.

“It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV).

***

In This TogetherAfter losing her only son to World War II and her husband soon after, Dottie Kyle takes a job at a local small-town Iowa boarding house. Her daughter Cora moved to California straight out of high school to work for the war effort, married a sailor and settled down in the Golden State—another loss.

Dottie cooks and cleans, volunteers at her church, and tends her garden. But she hungers to meet her two precious grandbabies on the coast. When troubles arise in Cora’s third pregnancy, Dottie longs to help, but old fears prohibit that arduous, cross-country train journey.

At the boarding house, complications arise that force Dottie to speak up for what’s right, and as her confidence grows, so does the unexpected interest of the widower next door. Dottie has no idea second chances wait right around the corner.

Find In This Together on Wild Rose Publishing, Amazon, Bookstrand, All Romance eBooks, and Kobo.

 

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Gail KittlesonGail, a late but sincere bloomer, taught college expository writing and ESL. Now she focuses on women’s fiction and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats. She and her husband enjoy family in northern Iowa, and the Arizona Ponderosa forest in winter.

Meeting new reading and writing friends is the meringue on her pie, as her heroine Dottie would say.

Connect with Gail on her web site, Facebook, her Facebook Author’s Page, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

***

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Let’s talk about this: Gail talked about how her marriage went through some rough times, and pointed us to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians. How do you and your spouse work through rough moments in your marriage? How do you bring–and keep–God as the center of your relationship with your spouse? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another!

Light Bulbs

Photo by stockimages taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by stockimages taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Reactions are just that: reactions. Sometimes we react without thinking…and it doesn’t turn out so well. When those reactions are more intense than the situation warrants, pay attention. Chances are, a deep, long-hidden wound is festering within.

My guest today, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author Shellie Arnold, shares a moment when she literally lost it, and what God did with her emotional explosion.

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A Light Bulb Moment
by Shellie Arnold

We’d just bought our new home, a strategic decision to make our lives easier and give us architecture-1279512_640more family time.

Our gas bill would drop, as would Stephen’s commuting time, by about 90%. And, I’d finally get to attend the church where my husband worked. Hooray!

I hadn’t actually been inside the home. Stephen had, but I hadn’t. I’d looked in windows and glass-sliding doors, and assured our two young boys Dad had picked a good one.

I loved the back porch, the large lot, and the four bedroom split plan. Privacy anyone?

That first night we all slept in the family room, an indoor camp out. I promised the boys the next day we’d unpack their toys and fix their bedrooms.

That first morning I walked into a bedroom and flicked the light switch. Nothing happened. Because there were no ceiling fixtures in the bedrooms. The 1980s building style meant occupants were expected to plug a lamp into the outlet wired to the switch.

light-bulb-376926_640Not one bedroom had a light. Not one.

Something inside me snapped. How could my husband have missed this important detail? How could he have picked this home for us? He didn’t love me, didn’t care about me.

I lost it, completely lost it, in a meltdown of epic, volcanic proportions. Not one of my better moments.

By the time I’d finished fussing and letting Stephen know exactly how hurt I was, I not only knew I’d screwed up in a big way, I knew God was uncovering a serious issue in me.

A missing light fixture should not provoke the reaction you had the Holy Spirit said. In my head and heart I knew that. But my response had been so instinctive, so knee-jerk, I also knew it was automatic.

I hadn’t thought about what I felt, what I said, or what I did. I had simply reacted. To a childhood moment when walking into a room without light had meant rejection and pain. A moment I’d learned my feelings weren’t important. I didn’t have a place, or a real home, and I had no right to expect any different. I simply had to adjust to how life was now, take it or leave it.

Over the next few weeks, I prayed over why I’d behaved so badly, and I fought not to continue behaving that way. The battle was tough. My response came from such a deep, wounded place, the feelings were as powerful as any I’d ever felt. At times I thought I’d Photo by David Castillo Dominicinever get past what I saw as a defect in our home and our marriage, even though we bought ceiling fans with lights and Stephen installed them in each bedroom.

Then, as God began healing the pain of those childhood events, He showed me the truth behind Romans 12:2. Yes, God could heal my hurt, but I also needed to change how I thought about certain experiences. Only then, could I react out of righteousness rather than pain, or wounds, or trauma. Only then would I truly be transformed.

Only then would my marriage benefit from God’s work in me.

If like most of us, you brought childhood wounds to your marriage, I challenge you. Ask God if you live reacting to those hurts, rather than what’s really taking place today. If you let Him, God will heal those wounds. But don’t stop there—let Him change how you think and how you behave. In the end, it will all be for His glory.

***

spindlechair_coverWhat happens when the miracle God gives you threatens to destroy your marriage?

Laurie Crane is happily married. And she is usually to overlook her husband’s moments of quiet sadness. If only God would give them a child…

Pierce wants a child as badly as Laurie and has spent years praying alongside her. But he has no idea that a “yes” from God will unearth long-buried memories and bring their marriage to the brink of disaster.

The Spindle Chair – book one of The Barn Church trilogy

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Shellie Arnold writes and speaks on marriage and family. She truly believes that despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes, when husbands and wives listen to God, they can live happily even after. Her passion is sharing how God has helped her do exactly that. She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com, and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources. Shellie is a mother of three and has home-schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of twenty-nine years.

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Shellie shared her heart today about how her reactions were hurting her marriage, and how God was gracious to show her what caused her reactions and what she needed to change. Have you had a similar experience? How did God change your heart? What Scripture verses encouraged you throughout your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. We can all learn from one another.

This has been a quiet week for me as I prepare to teach a class at the Wordsowers Christian Writer’s Conference this Saturday. I’d love to have you join me!

Yesterday I had the privilege of joining Angela Meyer on her blog, talking about perceptions in marriage can either create a bond or fracture it. Read the post HERE.

And this past Monday, I wrote a parenting post on a very needed topic: giving yourself a time out. Read it HERE and join in the conversation.

Forgive, Laugh, Pray

woman-1006100_1920It’s incredibly painful to live with a stranger you once called your best friend. It’s the kind of feeling that causes your heart to literally ache and your gut to knot. I remember, and may I never forget.

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for any length of time know it’s only by God’s grace alone that Steve and I are still together–and in love!–twenty years after we said our “I dos.” Seventeen years after we almost said our “I’m dones.” (You can watch a video of our story HERE.)

Today’s guess, LoRee Peery shares her experience of marital isolation and how God intervened. As you read her post, prayerfully ask what God is wanting to show you through it.

-Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.-Ephesians 4-32, ESV (1)

Forgive, Laugh, Pray
by LoRee Peery

Forgive ~~ Laugh ~~ Pray

In no particular order, these three elements are vital to a marriage relationship. Bill and I have been married over forty years, and will tell anyone God is the only reason we’re still together.

Forgive, laugh, pray. Too bad I didn’t take those verbs into account during the years we struggled. We both came from dysfunctional, alcoholic homes. Each is the oldest in the family, strong-willed and stubborn. Bill and I are what was once termed “Type-A son-388523_640personalities.” We didn’t agree on most things, especially when it came to disciplining our children.
Our Lord has done wonders in each of our lives.

When our children were small I cared for them physically and loved them as much as I was able, but I feel I failed them by not listening and giving them credit for having their own voices. Bill admits to being absent. I admit to being wrapped up in surviving as a single mom with my oldest, and distracted by grief as I fought PMS during three impressionable lives.

We attended church but it wasn’t a priority until the Lord brought me to Himself two years after we wed. Bill focused on providing. I kept busy with the children, caring for the house, and church activities. He often missed children’s and church activities during the week. He did become involved for weekend soccer.

I’m admittedly a hard person to live with, grumpy when I fight chronic pain. Bill lost breakup-908714_640himself in fix-it-up projects out of town, neglecting what needed to be done at home. I started writing, which placed my energy and focus on projects rather than all the little things that once bugged me to distraction. (I first typed that word as destruction. Apt, without the Lord’s intervention.)

Our marriage survived because the Lord used women’s Bible studies. Through one of those associations, Bill met biblical men. Unknown to me, two of those men revealed to Bill how a lifestyle practice affected his personal testimony in a negative manner. It took six months of going to lunch until the Light came on. Bill changed.

I changed as well. God worked on our hearts individually. We attended couples’ Bible study. We never did agree on child-rearing, especially discipline, but I gave Bill and our holding-hands-752878_640children to the Lord. The control and responsibility wasn’t mine to hold on to.

We remain two imperfect people striving to glorify the Lord by action and attitude. We fail every day, but fall back on our faith, and attempt to accept one another as we are. I know what makes Bill valuable. Christ died for him. And that man God put in my life loves me. He’s always protected me and had my back.

Forgive. Laugh. Pray.

***

Touches_revamp_300_FrontTouches of Time:

A decades-old unsolved homicide.

A grieving single mother-to-be.

A cold-case investigator.

Sarah Bishop goes through her deceased mother’s belongings and becomes immersed in the details of her grandfather’s unsolved homicide. Determined to find who was responsible, for the sake of her unborn baby, Sarah vows to seek out the answers her mother had failed to find.

Cold Case Investigator Ford Melcher is intrigued by Sarah’s dogged drive to solve the old mystery. His current case has reached a frustrating dead end, but he comes to believe it is somehow linked to Sarah’s quest. His desire to protect her from further hurt is put to the test, especially when he has secrets he’d rather not disclose.

Answers could remain elusive as to who struck Sarah’s grandfather and left him in a ditch. Will the search for those answers open doors for her to discover the life God planned? Can she accept that plan if it includes a man who wasn’t forthright with information?

Find it on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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Have I got a storyInspirational romance author LoRee Peery strives to remember the Lord’s redeeming grace each day when she surveys her sense of place in Him and where He has placed her. She clings to I John 5:4 and prays her blended family and dozen grandchildren see that faith. Her Frivolities Series and other publications are available at Pelican Book Group.

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Many marriages start off rocky because of different upbringings–or similar ones, sometimes–and there are a lot of adjustments to be made. If you’re married, did you and your spouse have a period of adjustment? Did you have differences of opinion in important things such as raising  your children? How did you work through those opinions? How did you see God moving in your marriage? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Facebook on Living By Grace. We have a lot to learn from one another.

But before you go, if you’re local, I want to invite you to join me at the Oakview Barnes and Noble in Omaha this Saturday where I’ll be signing copies of all my books.

FB Cover PhotoPop by to say hi and grab a mocha at the store cafe’! And if you live in the Lincoln, NE area, join me at their SouthPointe Barnes and Noble next Saturday where I’ll be doing the same.

For those of you who follow me online, here is where I’ve been this week:

Tuesday, I was honored to be on Wordsower’s Author Showcase before their conference at the end of the month. You can read my interview HERE. I also had an interview with Anne Weaver HERE.

And last Friday, I visited Carole Towriss’ blog for an interview. Join me HERE. I also ventured over to visit with Debra Butterfield to talk about removing cliches from your characters. You can read it HERE.

I was tickled to see Intertwined highlighted on the RIRS site last week. You can check that out HERE.

And… the highlight of this week? Tomorrow I have the opportunity to speak to local elementary school 3rd graders on crafting “reality fiction.” I have a feeling I’m up for an adorable morning! If you’d like me to speak to your school, university, or writing group, shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com. And if you’re local, I do hope you’ll join me at the Wordsowers Conference where I’ll be teaching how one can craft characters that grab hold of readers on a deeply emotional level.

Loving Fiercely

Their love is fierce, in the passionate moments and in the conflict, and though I know they’d rather skip the fighting all together, they’ve learned how to hold on. Tight.

Love isn’t always flowers, date nights, and long, intimate conversations. Even the best of marriages have teeth-gritting, foot-stomping moments. Those moments can absolutely shatter your marriage, or you can find a way to push through.

Today I’m honored and tickled to have my sweet brother and sister-in-law on my blog.

-However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.-Ephesians 5-33, ESV

Warm Cups of Tea
by HaYoung Jung Febus

I woke up this morning to a very awake husband whispering(ish), “Jakkiya, do you want 20160309_073940some tea?… Jakkiya, do you want some tea? … Jakkiya, I already boiled the water. Jakkiya, do you want some tea?”

Now, for those of you that hear about our marriage off-Facebook, know that my husband and I can be fiercely affectionate to each other…and equally fierce in our fights, as well. Like, really fierce. I think this is what makes these whisper(ish)’s and teas all the more special for me.

We have both felt “defeated” as we repeat certain conversations over and over and over. And over. A wise friend once told me of the 20151230_114539importance of “persevering in repeated conversations” in marriage. Yet there have been times we both literally felt like we had depleted every ounce of perseverance juice in our souls—every ounce.

However, through these warm cups of tea, the Holy Spirit is very much alive in our household, and I experience the Spirit’s love through my husband. I know my husband doesn’t make me tea in horrendous hours of the morning just because I am so great to him. I know that he’s seen the ugliest side of me—he will see more—and the miracle is that he still chooses to serve and love, because the Spirit is very much alive in him.

Even after this wonderful cup of tea, we will still fight. We will still have deadlock areas that seem impossible to figure out. We have baggage that will take a lifetime to unpack. And it still hurts that my husband doesn’t think I’m funny, because let’s be real people, I’m hilarious. But as long as we have these milk tea-moments in our marriage going on, I know we will only learn to love better. I 20160318_184554know we have already learned to love better and praise God for that every day. Well…almost every day.

Conclusion: Husbands, thou shalt make caffeinated beverages for thee wives every morning. Thank you, husband.

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Let’s talk about this: HaYoung shared a bit about her marriage and the fighting–and how the Holy Spirit uses simple peace offerings from her husband to show His love and keep hers and Raymond’s strong. Do you see “milk-tea moments” in your own  marriage? How do you intentionally reconnect after a conflict or during times of stress?

For those following me online, here’s where I’ve been this past week:

Today I’m on Putting On the New talking about intentional obedience and deliberate grace. Join me HERE.

Tuesday, I was busy! I dropped in at Seriously Write and spoke about how authors can get their books into libraries and stores. Join the conversation HERE. I also went over to Seekerville to share my observations about those who have a winning mindset. Join the fun HERE.

On Saturday, I had the joy of visiting Edie Melson on The Write Conversation. I spoke about narrowing the scope of your blogging. Join the conversation HERE.

And finally, last Friday, I shared how reaching the end of myself led to freedom on Elaine Stock’s site. Read the story HERE and join in the conversation.

10426573_10205915387019579_6039181238012022411_nFor those who live in or near the Omaha Metro, join me on April 9th at Barnes and Noble near the Oakview mall between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. I’ll be signing copies of my latest novel, Breaking Free (and maybe all my other novels as well. I’ll find out). Come in, say hi, grab a latte or mocha at the cafe’, grab an autographed copy of my novel for you or a loved one, and let’s chat! And help me spread the word by inviting your friends! You can do so by sending an email through the B&N link then click on “email” in the bottom right. Click HERE.