Dragon Slayers!

So they're not dragons, and he didn't slay them, but don't you just love that smile? Left to right: El Salvadoran, hubby, me, princess

So they’re not dragons, and he didn’t slay them, but don’t you just love that smile? Left to right: El Salvadoran, hubby, me, princess

If you’ve been following my blog long, you know I adore my husband. For so very many reasons! But early in my marriage, I often missed out on his dragon-slaying heroics, not because they weren’t there, but rather, because I was far too focused on the burps and hiccups and casually-tossed dirty laundry. Our marriage changed dramatically when I surrendered fully–my mind, my thoughts, my perceptions–to Christ and began to view my husband through His eyes. (I shared a bit of this in a recent Crosswalk.com article. You can read it here.) Once I began to voice all those accolades God sparked within my heart, a gloriously beautiful and tender thing occurred–those dragon-slaying heroics became more frequent as my husband steadily stepped into his God-given role of provider, leader, and protector.

Today a sweet friend, author of At the Edge of a Dark Forest,(a book I’m reading now and LOVE!!!Connie Almony, talks about her dragon slayer and the impact each of us headshot1have on that hidden hero lurking within each of our spouses. She’s also giving away a copy of her novel, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, to one of you, randomly chosen from the comments left on this post. 🙂

Does Your Man Slay Dragons For You by Connie Almony

Whenever I begin to write a story it always starts as a romance. Of course, my characters take off and do things I’d never have expected when I first “birthed” them (they’re like children that way). But in the beginning, it’s always JUST a romance. With this in mind, I know there will need to be a defining moment where the man must slay a dragon (of some sort) for his lady.

You may think this idea is sexist and old fashioned. “Why can’t the woman slay a dragon for him?” You ask.

Well that’s fine and dandy, and most of my heroines do some slaying too, but if I’m going to fall in love with the man (which is unnecessary for me with the ladies I write) he will need to be willing to take a personal risk to get the heroine what she needs.

In my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, my female protagonist, Carly, explains this idea to her counterpart, Cole, when he teases her about her penchant for reading the genre. He, being a double amputee, wonders if he could measure up as a dragon slayer.

He does!

Why?

dragon-46429-mBecause dragons come in many forms.

Early in my marriage, I’d scheduled one of those free offers to check our heating and air conditioning to clear it for winter service. FREE, I thought, who could pass up FREE? I was a little naïve back then. Of course, after the check, the technician handed me a very long list of repairs we could have done at a “reduced” price by their company if I signed NOW. I was warned, if not done soon, the whole unit would blow, costing me thousands of dollars in the end. My heart pounded. What should I do? I don’t want to miss this opportunity, and I didn’t want to risk the larger expenditure that would surely come.

I called my husband as the technician huffed loudly and tapped his toe in front of me. I could hear the comforting smile in my husband’s voice as he asked to speak to the man. I handed him the phone. They chatted. A few minutes later, the man gave me back the phone and packed his things as my husband told me not to worry. He’d consult a friend who could advise us and potentially do the work for much less than this company. He did, costing a third of what I’d been quoted.

I don’t know why this seemed a big deal to me, but I felt like a dragon had been slayed that day. A dragon in the shape of a scam-artist who’d infiltrated my home and planned to drain me of my life’s blood … or at least some cash. It gave me great peace to know my husband knew how to interrogate this man to get to the truth, to call on resources, and to ensure his family’s home was properly cared for.
My husband slays dragons every day in his office, where he manages employees, ensures goals are met and a salary is gained to feed his family. He is my hero. My knight in shining armor. He is also the biggest encourager in my writing. I am blessed.

I once listened to a woman complain that her husband never thanked her for the work she did in the home. I hear ya lady—it can be a thankless job. But I was stopped cold when she recounted how he asked of her, “When have you thanked me for going to my job every day?”

I wondered, “Had I ever thanked my husband for his provision?” I hadn’t. I try to rectify that now … To thank him for the work he does and most of all delaying HIS dream of being a writer (for which he is very gifted) to provide for his family so I can pursue MY dreams.

Thank you, Rick Almony, for slaying all those dragons!

Have you thanked your dragon-slayer today?

Dark Forest--Final CoverAt the Edge of a Dark Forest:

Cole Harrison, a war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.

Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.

***

Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and, LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.
You can also meet her on the following social media outlets: TwitterFacebookPinterest

 

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! In what ways does your spouse help you slay dragons? Pause and list them all right now, then thank God for them. It’s easy to lose sight of the heroics in the busyness of life, but they’re there. Let’s take notice! And let’s attempt to respond in kind. 🙂 (using both meanings of the word.)

We all want our spouses to be heros and heroines, but do we also want to be heroic–in our love, encouragement, words, our servanthood, our persaverance, and our commitment to Christ? Because we have no control or say in how our spouses respond. God’s assumed full responsibility for them and their behavior. But we are responsible for our responses–for being our spouse’s helpmate, encourager, and cheerleader. The question is, how are we doing? What are some things you do, each day, to honor the hero in your spouse?

Some ways to show your appreciation:i-love-you-786729-m

1) Tuck a note in his/her lunch or jacket pocket telling him/her what you love most about him/her

2) Send him/her a link to a sappy song, telling him/her it made you think of him/her

3) Buy a card for them and actually send it to them in the mail!

4) Engage in an activity they love (with them, of course!)

5) Buy them their favorite treat and let them know you bought it just for them

6) Send them random texts letting them know you were thinking of them

7) Ask them how you can pray for them then commit to doing that.

Share your thoughts here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Decade Old Newly Weds (Is that Possible?)

This morning as I drove to meet my mentor, KLOVE radio shared a story of a homeless man who had been given a second chance. I imagine you’ve heard this story by now as it’s circulated the web and airwaves quite a bit, but one thing that hit me was that it was his ex-wife who prayed for him first. That reminded me how powerful marriage is. The Bible tells us spouses become one when they wed–like two slips of paper glued together. Or perhaps more accurately, like threads of yarn tightly woven. You can rip the couple apart, or unwind the threads, but neither paper nor thread will ever be the same again. The torn paper will be shredded and the strands of yarn frayed and stretched. In most cases, (I don’t have the wisdom or knowledge to address marital unfaithfulness, abuse or addiction) it is far easier to do what it takes to make a marriage work then deal with the stress, pain and long-term consequences of divorce.

Often, it is easier to build on the good until the good overshadows the bad, then it is to chase fires, if that makes sense. This month on reflections, we’re going to build on the good, the lovely, and the praiseworthy. We’re going to shower our spouses with affection, focus on their positive traits and ways to build, encourage and affirm them. I invite you to join us.

Stop for a moment and think back to your first date with your spouse. Relive the moment when he/she first said, “I love you,” and visualize the love in his/her eyes when marriage was first discussed.

Often you can spot newly weds in a crowd. They’re the ones that steal glances at one another, bright smiles on their faces. They hold hands and giggle…alot.

But if we’re not careful, time, the stress of life and the pitter-patter of feet running in a million different directions saps the giggly, lovey-dovey, googly-eyed  romance out of our marriage–if we let it.

Today on Reflections we’re taking steps to rekindle that flickering flame.

And, join me on Rose McCauley’s blog as I talk about Clash of the Titles and why I’m so passionate about Christian fiction.

Then, come back Monday to hear how God used one of my friends to touch a hurting woman with His love.

In the meantime, be loved, be blessed, and as you listen to this, never forget, God is the God of second chances and every day is a chance for each of us to begin again. And for those of you who’ve prayed for loved ones so long, you’re discouraged and tired, don’t give up! God’s working, even now, even when you can’t see His hand.

Join Me At Gail’s

If you were looking for something profound, inspirational, or comical, sorry. You’ll have to come back next time as we continue to examine our hearts. (I’d like to stay on one topic for a week, mainly because my skull’s so dense it takes awhile for things to sink in. Then, it takes even longer for real change to occur.)

You might remember Gail from my top 20 of 2010. She wrote the wonderful devotion entitled, “Oh, To Be Magnetic,” reminding us of our need to shine for Christ all the time, where ever we go. After I asked her to share her devotion here, she sent me a request to visit her site. So…I’m sending you all over to her blog where you can here a bit about my “work-in-progress”, With Reckless Abandon. Yep, it’s an inspirational romance. Never thought I’d be a romance writer, until this story infiltrated my brain. At first, it surprised me. Could this story idea really be from God, or was it just a temporary creative respite in between some of my other projects? But then I remembered, the Bible is the ultimate romance! Page by page reveals God’s pursuing love for us, and our human romances give us but an imperfect glimmer of the Divine romance.

Marriage is an illustration of the relationship between God and the believer, which is why it is imperative that we do everything we can to strengthen our marriages. Each Friday, you can join me on Reflections as we explore potential marriage busters as well as marriage strengtheners. But beginning this Friday, I’ll be addressing the entire family unit. My new column is called, “Heart and Home.”

And as a friendly reminder, for those of you who are joining me in my intentional living series, don’t forget to pray for your heart today!

“Create in me a pure heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  And may we all be steadfast, diligent, and intentional in our walk with Christ today.

Meander Scar by Lisa Lickel

The title of this novel alone was intriguing enough to draw me to it, and today, 120 pages in, Lisa Lickel has not disappointed me. This novel begins in typical romance fashion–with a twist. Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy likes girl, girl and boy can’t be together because…ah, now here is the twist. We’re used to reading about beautiful twenty-somethings falling in love with their dashingly handsome Prince Charming, and for those of us who have left the twenty’s far behind, I wonder if we don’t read the story with some degree of nostalgia. Oh, to be young and beautiful again with smooth skin and colorful, sans gray hair.

In Meander Scar, Lisa challenges our thinking by presenting an older heroine–I believe she’s in her late forties or early fiftiees–falling for a younger man. Eleven years younger, to be exact. Ah, scandelous, I know! Even worse is the fact that Ann, the heroine, is still married. Okay, so now you’re wondering why I’m still reading, right? Why haven’t I gotten offended at this point and tossed the book aside? Well, its complicated. True, Ann is married, but she hasn’t seen or heard from her husband in over five years. In fact, by all accounts, he is dead. If only she could convince the courts of this, everything would be fine and she could marry her handsome young beau without incident…but her husband’s wealthy and extremely powerful mom gets in the way and continually sabotages the court proceedings.

What can Ann do? Stay in a dead–literally–marriage for the rest of her life, tied to a house that drains her meager finances, unable to access the money that should rightfully be hers, or…I don’t know…sever all ties and make a mad dash for Vegas? Okay, so maybe that’s a bit rash…how about a mad dash for the Mall of America? Did you know you can get married right there in the mall? It’s true. Buy your dress, get your nails and hair done, pop by their wedding “store” and you’re good to go.

Obviously I was intrigued by the “flip of the tables” this book presented. Twenty years ago we only heard of older men falling for younger women, but today, things have changed and it seems fairly common to see an older woman dating a younger man. Lisa’s novel challenges us to look past the superficial labels and quantifications to the weightier matters of the heart, and for that, I am appreciative. Of course, having been married to a man older than I for fifteen years now and having fielded all the false notions and erroneous judgments that come with that, I may be more sympathetic to Lisa’s novel than most. But regardless of your views on the dating scene, this book is definitely a page turner. For me, it took about fifty pages for me to really get hooked, but by the 100th page, I found myself staying up much later than I should have.

I think this book might be an interesting discussion starter.

Meander Scar by Lisa Lickel