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Why We Renewed Our Vows (+ Valentine’s Giveaway)

DSC04306This past October, Hubby and I celebrated our 25th anniversary by renewing our marriage vows in front of family & friends at our church.

We chose to renew our vows for one simple reason–we wanted to reaffirm those promises we said so many years ago…years that have been shaped, refined and molded by laughter, by tears, and by standing together to face the many challenges that came our way.

Our courtship was quite unique. We met in May 1988 when Hubby came into the family restaurant where I had been working as a waitress for the summer. The moment I saw him, I knew my life was about to change. He had a presence about him and the way he carried himself that exuded confidence…he still has it. We became friends, and we communicated long distance for a couple of months by writing letters. Then he came home on leave, and we started dating. By that time, I was so in love with this man who made my heart swoon. I knew he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

We talked about a traditional wedding, set a date, and started making plans,. I even picked out the most beautiful wedding gown. Then we realized we didn’t want to want another six months to get married.

Wedding photo copyWe chose to elope three weeks after getting engaged. I wore peach, he wore gray, and we promised to love, honor and cherish one another in front of a judge, two friends, and the judge’s secretary. I tell people it may not have been my dream wedding, but I married the man perfect for me.

Like most married couples, our relationship hasn’t always been the fairy tale. We experienced challenges that could have broken us, but we refused to give up. Instead, we worked hard to turn those trials into triumphs. We’ve used the life lessons from our mistakes to help us to become a stronger couple and better parents to our incredible sons.

The beauty of the past twenty-five years is knowing the young love we first shared has matured into a deep-seated devotion that will outlast anything life hurls our way. Each day I spend with him is an incredible gift, and I’m so blessed.

 ~*~

I’m teaming up with fellow Love Inspired authors Jill Lynn and Jill Kemerer, fellow Books & Such client Jennifer Major, and romance author Jen Turano for a Valentine’s Giveaway.

Valentine's Giveaway finalThe giveaway includes:

  • After a Fashion by Jen Turano
  • A Recipe for Romance collection by Jill Kememer
  • Falling for Texas by Jill Lynn (her debut novel–Yay!!)
  • Lakeside Redemption by Lisa Jordan
  • Hand-stamped cards
  • Chocolate
  • $10 Starbucks gift card

Enter here for your chance to win: 

Lisa Jordan
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Why Marriage Matters: Embracing New Seasons as Couples

Embrace this new seasonThis week is going to be an emotional, yet exciting week for our family. Our youngest leaves on Thursday for college, which pushes Hubby and me into a new season of life—empty nesters.

After we came home from school shopping last Saturday, I posted a comment on Facebook stating I wasn’t ready for Thursday to come, and I asked my Facebook friends if the empty nesters had any advice to share.

I loved reading through all of the comments, which suggested tissues, enjoy it while we can since kids seem to come back home, etc, but one comment by my Ponderer sister Jennifer Annderson really struck my heart. She said,

“Embrace this new season to date your husband,

take on new challenges and focus some time on yourself.

Give the time and energy you so easily give to others

on your hubby and yourself.”

When Hubby and I started dating over 25 years ago, we had an unusual courtship. He was stationed 6 hours from me, so our relationship blossomed through letters, phone calls and weekend visits. We learned to make the most of the time we had together. Then after we got married and started a family, our couple time was pretty non-existent as we juggled family, work, church, school activities, etc.

Now that both of our boys will be in college, our evenings will be very quiet. So much of our relationship has been centered on our boys and their needs.

Now it’s our time.

Our time to reconnect.

Our time to rediscover the passion for one another that brought us together in the first place.

Our time for ourselves.

As I put on makeup before church on Sunday, I had to dry my eyes several times in order to apply mascara. I kept thinking it was the last worship service with my son before he left for college.

As a mom, I highlighted many firsts during my boys’ developing years. But as new “firsts” emerge, my mama’s heart wants to cling to some of those “lasts.”

My son has been in church since he was a young toddler. Sunday morning, I had a discussion with God as I unburdened my aching heart. God cradled me and reminded me He had to let his Son go too, so He understood my pain. But, He also reminded me our son has a rooted faith, and he wouldn’t be along as he embarked on this new adventure in his life.

I breathed in the knowledge that God’s got this. God understands my struggle to let go and let my boys live their lives, but He reminds me He has a plan and purpose for their lives. I need to allow Him to do a good work in them.

And He also reminded me of Jennifer’s words of wisdom to embrace our new season to date each other, to take on new challenges and to give the time and energy we poured into others and pour it back into our marriage. After all, God’s got that too.

 

Lisa Jordan
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Meant to Be

Sherry Kyle author photoPlease welcome my friend and fellow Bookie, Sherry Kyle! Her second novel, The Heart Stone, released April 1 from Abingdon Press. 

Sherry graduated from Biola University with a degree in Communications and a minor in Bible. She is the author of three books:The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style, a book for ‘tween’ girls about beauty, fashion, and character; Delivered with Love, contemporary Christian women’s fiction; and her latest contemporary release, The Heart Stone

Sherry and her husband live along the coast of central California. They have four children, three biological and one by adoption. To learn more about her, visit her at www.sherrykyle.com

~*~

I never thought I’d be the type of girl to steal a guy from someone, but that is exactly what I did. Not intentionally, of course.

One week into my freshman year of college, a cute blond surfer asked me out on a date.  I said “yes” before I really thought through what my answer would mean for me—and the girl across the hall, who had pointed him out all week as the guy she really, REALLY liked. Yes, I was in trouble!

What made the situation more awkward was that she was my R.A. (resident assistant) and had the power to turn all the girls on our floor against me.

The night before the date, I lay in bed contemplating my options. I could sneak out and hide the fact that I was spending time with her crush, which would be difficult at a relatively small Christian college, or I could come clean and tell her.

I knocked on her door close to midnight. When she opened it, the truth of what I was going to say hit me. I was a guy stealer. My stomach clenched. It smacked me harder when I saw the small picture frame on her desk with their pictures. UGH! This was going to be tough.

Surprisingly, she took the news well, even saying, “ You can go. He always did like blondes better.” She was a cute redhead. I think what helped her reaction was that I offered to back out of the date, and told her our friendship meant more to me than some guy I didn’t know. It was the truth.

That was September 1984. Doug and I have now been married close to twenty-five years. We were meant to be.

I’m glad my R.A. was so sweet about it, but there was another girl on our floor who didn’t take the news very well. But that’s another story…

Sherry_ Doug Oct. 1984

                Sherry_ Doug Sept 2012

                 

 

 

 

 

 Your Turn: What is your romance story? Did you steal someone’s guy? 

~*~

 

Sherry Kyle The Heart Stone book coverTwo women. Two journeys. A season that may change their lives forever. 

When the alcoholic father of Jessica MacAllister’s son reappears in their lives, Jessica takes Jacob to Santa Cruz to visit her uncle George for advice and refuge.

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. As she ponders her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister.

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope? Or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?


Lisa Jordan
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Why Marriage Matters: What’s Unique About Your Marriage?

Why Marriage Matters post 4_8_13Over the weekend, I attended a training for my day job. The presenter handed out index cards and asked us to write something on the card that is unique about us. We turned in the cards, and throughout her presentation, she pulled a card and read the unique quality and we had to guess who the person was.

Being from out of town, I didn’t know many of the women in the group, so I had no idea who owned the unique quality she mentioned. 

Each one of us has unique qualities. In my training setting, my unique quality was I wrote Christian romance novels for Love Inspired. 

However, in this setting, my unique quality is the reverse–I’m also an early childhood educator. 

While considering a blog post for today, her question echoed through my head. In the middle of Sunday’s sermon, I pulled a notebook out of my purse and wrote, “What’s unique about your marriage?”

 Your marriage may seem routine or boring to you. But someone else may be able to zero in on your marriage’s uniqueness. 

The unique qualities of my marriage are:

  • Hubby and I dated long distance for 18 months before getting marriage, communicating by letters, phone calls and occasional visits. 
  • We eloped.
  • We weathered a terrible storm in our marriage and not only survived, but grew closer together. 
  • In October, we will celebrate 24 years of marriage–something that’s becoming less common.

Your Turn: What’s unique about your marriage? If you’re not married, what’s unique about your parents’ or a sibling’s or a friend’s marriage?

Lisa Jordan
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Why Marriage Matters: Building Up Your Husband

Why Marriage Matters graphic

Therefore encourage one another 

and build each other up, 

just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Quite a few years ago, I “vented” to my then sister-in-law (she and my brother-in-law have divorced since then) about something my husband had or hadn’t done. I said, “I don’t mean to complain, but…”

She replied, “Yes, you do, but you’re frustrated.”

Her response floored me.

I meant to complain? No, I wanted to vent. There’s a difference. Right?

No.

Venting equals complaining. By doing so, I was tearing down my husband. 

Quite honestly, I get quite annoyed by male bashing because I’m the only female in my house. By lumping all men together, I’m saying my husband and my two sons are part of that group of men who can’t do anything right. 

And that’s not the perception I want any of them to see from me.

I saw a quote on Pinterest stating, “Don’t talk bad about your husband to anyone. Ever.”

I have to confess and say I was convicted by that statement. 

Yes, I get frustrated, but it’s my choice how I deal with that frustration.

I want my husband to feel like the most important person in my life. I want him to know I have his back. I want to build him up so he’s the man God created him to be. 

Here are my simple tips for building up your husband:

  • Pray daily. Pray for his spiritual walk. Pray for his parenting skills. Pray for his job. Pray for his health. Pray for his attitude. Pray for his devotion in your marriage.
  • Speak truth. Tell him how much you love him every day. Let him know what a good father he is. Share something about him that you love. Every. Single. Day.
  • Love always. Love is a choice. Love is a commandment from God. Love is essential to every marriage. Say “I love you” daily. Show how much you love him by doing something that pleases him, even if it’s something little like making his lunch or keeping his laundry washed and folded. 
  • Honor him. You made a vow to honor him for the rest of your life. A promise. When the marriage gets tough, don’t be so quick to end the marriage. 
  • Choose peace. Frustration happens because our insecurities surface or our expectations aren’t being met. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with your husband, consider why. If he didn’t take out the garbage like you asked, is it worth getting on the phone and griping to your best friend? Maybe he did forget. Instead of lashing out, let him know how you feel and what expectations you had in a way that strengthens your bond instead of biting his head off. 
  • Model Godly behavior. If you have children, you are modeling behavior. They notice when Mommy and Daddy fight, when they show love and how to have a strong marriage. Model the kind of Godly behavior you want your son or daughter to share with their future spouses. Instead of calling Daddy an idiot, make sure your child knows about Daddy’s intelligence or kindness. If you’re in a spiritually mismatched marriage, your Godly behavior will be noticed by your husband.

Building up your husband takes purposeful thought and effort, especially if you’ve fallen into a negative pattern. If you’re struggling in your  marriage, take it to God in prayer. Every marriage is different and no couple is perfect, but with God’s help, you can have the kind of marriage you desire. Building up your husband daily will go a long way in creating a marriage that lasts a lifetime. 

If you would like to write a guest post about Why Marriage Matters, please email me via my contact page, and I’ll be in touch. For Why Marriage Matters guest post guidelines, click here: Why Marriage Matters guidelines

Your Turn: If you’re married, how do you build up your spouse? If you’re not married, how do you see others build up their spouse? Share examples. 

Tweet to share: Are you building up your husband? @lisajordan shares Why #Marriage Matters: Building Up Your #Husband http://ow.ly/j8WVN 

Lisa Jordan
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When Infatuation Becomes Real Love: Reasons Why I Love My Husband
Hubby & I in Sanibel, FL.

Hubby & I in Sanibel, FL.

When I was nineteen, I fell in love with this sexy Marine. From the moment he walked through the door in that blue and white striped shirt and blue pants (Miami Vice era), I was captivated by the way he carried himself with confidence. 

Once I started talking with him, I was intrigued by his kind heart, quick smile and wonderful sense of humor. 

Since that fateful summer’s night, we’ve been married for almost twenty-three years. Some people said our marriage wouldn’t last. At one point, it nearly didn’t, but I married a true real-life hero, whom I thank God for on a daily basis. 

At the beginning of the week, Fawn from Happy Wives Club contacted me and asked me to be a part of her Happy Wives Club Link Up Party for Reasons Why I Love My Husband. 

Listing reasons in my head is easy, but to put them in a post, I wanted to articulate what my husband really means to me.

  • He loves me unconditionally. He is my true real-life hero who refused to allow a dark time ruin our marriage. He loves me in spite of my flaws, wrinkles and broader curves.
  • He makes me feel secure. Hubby is 6’1″ and I’m 5’5″. When he wraps his arms around me, I feel secure physically and emotionally. I know he’ll protect me. He gave me security when I needed it most. 
  • He is a wonderful father. We have two boys, and one looks like him and the other has his traits. They have been shown what a strong marriage looks like. Of course, there are things every parent could change, but he is the right father for them.
  • He is my Voice of Reason. I am quick to make decisions with my heart, but he takes the time to process the information and helps me to reason out the best decision.
  • He has a strong work ethic. When Hubby lost his job a few years ago due to economic downsizing, he decided to return to school to get his degree. He graduated with honors, then spent months searching for the right job. About nine months later, God rewarded his efforts, opening a door that uses his degree while giving us steady pay and decent benefits. 
  • He is financially responsible. Hubby is our home’s chief financial officer. With one eye on the future, he pays our bills on time and has money set aside for retirement. Even while he wasn’t working, we were able to meet our monthly outcome and pay off debt. Yes, at times, I stress a little about money, but God has been meeting our needs.
  • He supports my writing. From the first moment I told him I wanted to be a writer, he supported my dream. Once I signed my first contract, he has been my biggest cheerleader. When my books came out, he kept signed copies in his truck to sell to friends and co-workers. He rejoices in my successes and gifts me with things that show how much he cares about making my writing a success.
  • My "postcard" to Hubby while I was at a retreat in S.C.

    My “postcard” to Hubby while I was at a retreat in S.C.



    He is creative. Hubby is an artist in his own right. With his big hands and large fingers, he’s able to tie intricate flies for fishing, using quality materials. Yes, those hooks with bits of fur and feathers will get dunked in local streams and rivers for the trout and bass to feast, but they are true works of art. He ties professionally for local stores, and his name is known in fly tying circles. He attends fly tying conferences like I attend writers conferences.   
  • He makes me laugh. One of the most special things about our marriage is we can laugh about little jokes no one else would understand. It adds a rich layer to our relationship. His dry wit can make me smile even when I’m cranky and not fit to be around anyone. 

I can spend hours waxing my hubby’s qualities, but I’ll end with this. I may have been infatuated with Hubby when we first met, but through the years, our love continues to deepen into a lasting emotion that goes beyond fairy tales and romance novels. Like any marriage, there’s always room for improvement. But we have a love that has been challenged, a love that has been showered with tears, and a love that has been lifted with laughter. I don’t doubt his love for me because he tells me and shows me daily. Each day is ripe for new beginnings and new memories to be made. That’s real love. And I thank God daily I share that kind of love with Hubby. 

I’m linking up with the Happy Wives Club Link Up Party. Be sure to click on the graphic to read the other posts in this party! 

Why I Love My Husband

 

If you’re married, what’s one thing you love about your spouse? If you’re not married, what is one trait you’re looking for in your future spouse?

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger Casey Herringshaw: Not Always Waiting Patiently…

Casey Herringshaw is one of the sweetest, most encouraging people I know. We met through My Book Therapy, then in person at ACFW–American Christian Fiction Writers. She has a heart for Jesus and celebrating others.

She is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people. Taking the words and stories God has placed on her heart and putting them on paper is one of her highest passions in life. Casey is a member of ACFW. You can connect with her through her personal blog, Writing for Christ and her writing related group blog, The Writer’s Alley

~*~

I’m not a patient person.

Shoot, I just admitted one of my biggest flaws on the World Wide Web. But, I’m not. Never have been. My mom tells a story of me as a teeny bopper, cranking up the volume on the stereo between the silence before the next song.

Nope, patience is not my favorite skill and one I don’t employ often enough. But ask me about my publishing journey and I’ll gladly tell you I’ll wait as long as I have too. I’ll closet myself in the back corner, throw away the key, and edit until Christ comes back…instead of submitting, for fear I’ll send out an inferior product.

Ask me about any personal romance or love life and ooo baby, the patience flies out the window.  Suddenly I’m not so eager to refine who I am in Christ, not anxious to truly become the wife and child of the King I need to be, instead I want to jump in with two feet now…why have to spend all that time waiting?

As I sat here thinking about writing this post, I started comparing my two “goals” as you would have it. I would love to be published, but I’m willing to work and refine my craft until it becomes as good as I can make it—I’m willing to take all the time I need. But when it comes to romance and marriage, I’m not as willing to put in that patient work and effort. I mean seriously, at twenty-one, who doesn’t want to be snatched up and given a special new name? Suddenly I’m not so eager to spend as much time as I need.

Welllll…problem is God is saying wait. It’s not the right time. And if I’m not okay with that, I’m going to have a miserable existence. My question so often to myself, is why can’t I just accept His timing like I can with my writing?

If I’m willing to make my writing the very best it can, I should be just as willing to put in the time and effort to perfect my life in Christ.  Let’s face it, we are all works in progress, crafted by the Master’s hand, but we can only crafted as far as we allow ourselves to be sculpted to His will.

Maybe it won’t be this year. Maybe it won’t be next year, but like with my publishing future, I have to keep editing, keep revising and keep praying that God will mold me into the image of His love and perfect match for my future husband.

Will you join me? Revising, waiting, praying…patiently.

Your Turn: Is waiting a struggle for you? How do you get through it? What area of waiting are you in right now? How is God helping you?

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Author Krista Phillips: Why Can’t My Guy Be More Like a Romance Novel Hero?

I’m thrilled to have my fellow agent-mate Krista Phillips back as a guest author today. She was a guest author back in August with her wonderful post, Until…it is you.

I had the privilege of spending a little time with Krista at the recent ACFW conference and did a happy dance at seeing her book in the ACFW bookstore. 

Krista writes inspirational romantic comedy. She believes a sprinkle of laughter (and a wee bit of chocolate) makes everything a little better! She blogs regularly about life as a wife, mother, follower of Jesus, and mother of a child with a rare congenital heart defect at www.kristaphillips.com. Her debut novel, “Sandwich, With a Side of Romance,” released in September, 2012.

~*~

I love my husband.

That’s a pretty good thing, huh!

I LOVE writing romance, but one of the common things I hear from Christians who do NOT love Christian romance is that it creates an ideal in relationships that is unachievable.

To a point, I agree.

That perfect hero… six-pack abs, swoon-worthy manners, isn’t tempted in the least to look at another woman, and loves our heroine to distraction regardless of her faults. Oh, and he has a fabulous job and can easily support our heroine.

*sigh*

Why can’t MY husband be like that?

While I am madly in love with my husband, I’ll readily admit that he isn’t one that I would write as the hero in a book. He’s super quiet, work his fingers to the bone in a not-so-sexy job to put food on our table, has a little pudge around his middle, and his sweat isn’t quite as appealing as our heroine’s obviously feel like our heroes sweat is.

But he’s mine.

And I’m head over heels in love with him.

To expect him to live up to the standards of a romance novel is pretty insane.

And as a woman who reads romance, even Christian romance, I agree that to lust over fictional characters is just as bad as doing so over a “real” person.

So does this make Christian romance wrong? Lead us to temptation?

Maybe. If it does, then honestly, don’t read my books. I won’t mind.

But my real hope is that my readers won’t want my hero for themselves.

Instead, I hope…

  • For my single readers, that they will realize the importance of waiting for the man GOD wants for you, and how GREAT the romance can be when you do.
  • For my married readers, that just maybe the romance will remind them of the spark with their own spouse that sometimes needs a little kindling from time to time.
  • That we’ll remember that the ultimate romance between the bridegroom (Jesus) and his bride… US! 

Your turn: Do you feel romances (Christian or secular) create an idealistic view of romance? Why or why not?

~*~

She moved to Sandwich, Illinois, in search of a new life, but ended up in a giant pickle. 

Sandwich represents hope for twenty-year-old Maddie Buckner and Kyle, the eleven-year-old brother Maddie wants to spring out of foster care. Then she loses her new job after less than a day. It’s all Reuben-the-Jerk’s fault, and she’s determined to make him right the wrong.

He does so, reluctantly, by giving her a job at his restaurant, The Sandwich Emporium. Then crazy things start happening at the restaurant, and Kyle’s foster parents apply to adopt him. To stop it all, Maddie must learn the art of humbling herself and accepting the help God has arranged, risking her heart to Reuben in the process. And she’d rather eat a million corned-beef on rye sandwiches than do that.

Available for at…

Amazon.com
Christianbooks.com
barnesandnoble.com 
Booksamillion.com

or ask for it at your local bookstore!

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Blogger LindsAy Harrel: Five Ways to Intentionally Connect With Your Spouse

I met LindsAy Harrel online through my blog hopping. She read my first book, but mentioned I misspelled my main character’s name–LindsEy. So since then, I’ve made sure to emphasize the correct spelling in LindsAy’s name. LindsAy is a sweetheart with a love for Jesus and her husband. 

Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and an M.A. in English. In her current day job as a curriculum editor for a local university, Lindsay helps others improve their work and hones her skills for her night job—writing inspirational contemporary fiction. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of five years and a golden retriever puppy in serious need of training.

~*~

My husband and I have been married for five and a half years, but it hasn’t taken us long to figure out an important truth about marriage: it’s much easier to drift apart than stay connected. 

Oh sure, when you first get married, it’s easy to stay connected because you want to spend every waking moment together. But once the honeymoon is over, you simply can’t. There’s work (bummer!), maybe school, church, volunteer opportunities, you name it—and it’s easy to start drowning in the sea of responsibilities.

That’s how it was for us. Nine months after we got married, Mike started law school. Talk about busy! Pretty much the only time we saw each other that first year of school was maybe fifteen minutes a day when we scarfed down dinner so he could get to the library and study.

Then, during his third year of school, I decided to go to grad school in the evenings and work during the day.

Needless to say, we were busier than we’d ever been. And our relationship suffered.

No, we didn’t fight a ton and duke out our differences. Instead, we didn’t talk much at all. We were too busy. But that was the problem. Our goals were noble and our intentions were right, but we weren’t prioritizing one of the most important things in our life: our marriage.

With the encouragement of our mentors, we realized this and did something about it. Here are some things we did—and continue to do—to stay intentionally connected to each other:

Eat dinner together. It sounds simple but just taking 30 minutes out of your day to be a family and talk about what’s going on in your life is huge in staying connected.

Meet annually with mentors for a “marriage checkup.” We are fortunate to have a mentor couple we meet with once a year who ask us questions about all aspects of our marriage in order to get an honest picture of how we’re doing. It takes a lot to be vulnerable in front of someone else, but it also has helped to prevent some issues that could have blown up.

Plan creative dates—and put them on the calendar in advance. Mike and I alternate who plans the dates, and we do them once a month. These don’t have to be expensive at all. The emphasis is on creativity. In my opinion, date nights are one of the most vital things for a marriage. Fight for that time! Do everything in your power to make it happen. And once the dates are on the calendar, don’t let anything get in the way.

Do something special for your anniversary. Obviously, whatever you do depends on your budget and your situation, but whether you stay overnight at a hotel, cook a fabulous meal at home, or eat out at your favorite restaurant, do something special to commemorate the vow you took.

Pray for your spouse. Almost nothing I do makes me feel as close to Mike as when I pray for him. Nothing.

Last August, I finished school. Finally, we’re back to both “just working day jobs.” Of course, I’m still pursuing my dream of writing and we haven’t even had kids yet, so life has the potential to get really busy again.

But now I can say, regardless of how busy we get, we’ve got a plan to stay connected. And I indeed to stick to it.

Question For You: What tips do you have to stay connected to your spouse? If you aren’t married, what awesome examples have you seen from those you know who are married? 

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Author Dineen Miller: Loving God Helps Me Love My Husband

Dineen and I are kindred spirits in many ways–we are both new authors, we share the same agent and we understand the challenges of having a spiritually unequal marriage. When I met Dineen and her ministry, I realized I was not alone. I treasure her friendship. I hope her words bless you as much as they’ve blessed me. 

In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen Miller has won several prestigious awards for her fiction. She’s also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio. Married for 24 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adult daughters, who surprise her daily with their own creativity.

Meet Lexie Baltimore, who is in the supernatural battle of her life. In obedience to God’s calling, Lexie uses her art and dreams to help others. But will she have enough courage to help herself when she becomes torn between her atheist husband and a godly man?

A widower and a father, Pastor Nate Winslow is drowning in darkness. Will he resist his treacherous assignment to win Lexie’s heart, or give in to the attraction between them?

As events unfold, Lexie becomes entangled in a twisted plot. Can she overcome the evil assailing her, or will she yield to the dark side? View The Soul Saver trailer, then purchase your copy of The Soul Saver!  

~*~

I will tell you, in all honesty, that I cannot love my husband in my own strength. It’s not possible. I tried to for a many years and would do fine for a while, but inevitably I would run out of steam. Resentment would seep back in and these feelings and thoughts more often had to do with how little I perceived to be getting back in the relationship. That was my own selfishness creeping in. To truly love my husband requires unconditional love that’s centered in Christ, not me.

Especially since he doesn’t share my faith. My husband and I are spiritually mismatched. Marriage in itself is fraught with challenges, but add a spiritual disconnect and you have an additional conflict, which bleeds into everything else.

First, I had to ask God to help me love my husband the way He loves him. To put a love in my heart for my spouse that far exceeds what I am capable of. God answered that prayer and keeps answering it faithfully, but it truly starts in my love for God. The more we love God—the more we live for Him—the more we are able to love others unconditionally.

Take a look at Matthew 22:37-39:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

First, and foremost, we’re told to love God with everything we’ve got. THEN, we are to love others. Maybe, like me, you thought the part about loving God came first, because God wants to be first in our lives. You would be right, but I also think it’s because that second part isn’t going to happen unless we grasp the first.

Jesus boiled down the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, to two commands. Love God first, then love others. In that order. God never seems to have only one reason for anything He says and does. He is the most efficient being there is! He doesn’t just tell us to make Him first in our lives, He’s also telling us that in order to be able to love others like this, we have to love Him first.

Loving God first opens the door for God to love others through us. That is how we love sacrificially. This is especially crucial in my own marriage because this is the love that wins a heart to Christ. And that is my calling in my marriage, to love my “prebeliever” with a love that comes from God so that he can get a taste of who God is. In my love for my husband, I can be a sacred influence in his life.

The truth of the matter is, loving your spouse, or anyone for that matter, means loving sacrificially. And the only way to love sacrificially is through Christ. 

Your Turn: If you’re married, how has God helped you love your spouse?  If you’re not married, how has God helped you to love others?

~*~

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Lisa Jordan
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