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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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Do You Believe in Marital Magic?

laughingBeth1 2012

My friend Beth K. Vogt wears joy and encouragement like a form-fitting silk dress. She embodies passion for Jesus, her family and her career. After reading her sophomore novel, Catch a Falling Star, I thanked God for her talent and praised Him for the way He’s going to be using Beth to minister to others through her words. Catch a Falling Star is a beautiful story that made me laugh, cry and stay up past my bedtime. Even when life doesn’t go the way we plan, God’s plans are always perfect.

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” After being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth’s second inspirational contemporary romance novel, Catch a Falling Star, released May 7, 2013 from Howard Books. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy (MBT), best-selling author Susan May Warren’s writing community. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

~*~

I love fairy tales – the classic ones like Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, and the modern day ones like Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon a Prince and Sandra Bricker’s If the Shoe Fits.

In my just-released novel, Catch a Falling Star, the heroine grew up listening to her grandmother read fairy tales to her. Those romantic stories shaped her dreams for romance and happily-ever-after.

And yet, one of the reasons I write inspirational contemporary romance is because I believe there is more to romance than the fairy tales tell us. After all, fairy tales have magic … and fairy godmothers … and impossibly beautiful women who sing and talk to forest animals … and incredibly handsome men (usually princes) who fall in love at first sight and drop everything to rescue the fairest of fair maidens …

I don’t know about you, but on my romantic journey, no fairy godmother showed up to re-do my wardrobe. There was no magic wand waving … no musical soundtrack playing in the background and no talking animals. (I admit talking animals would have freaked me out.) And one other thing was missing: The story didn’t end at the “found my true love” kiss.

I fell in love with a real person who – guess what? – also fell in love with a real person. Translate “real person” as “imperfect.” We promised to love one another “for better and for worse,” never imagining how bad “worse” could get. Miscommunication? Not us. Disagreements about finances? Nah. In-law strife? Nope. A season in our marriage where the only thing holding us together was the covenant we made with God and with our children where we promised there would never be a divorce? Never.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Wrong

And wrong.

It was during the times our marriage struggled the worst that I was most thankful that I’m not in a fairy tale marriage. I live in the real world – but even more importantly, I believe in a real God who cares about my husband, my children, and me. I don’t have to wait around for a fairy godmother because God is with me all the time. I don’t have to wait on the wave of a magic wand because I can lean into prayer and the truth of God’s word. I don’t have to hide my imperfections because God offers me grace, not judgment.

As a young girl, I read fairy tales because they promised me something more. The funny thing is, I found the “more” I was looking for in my real-world romance. I stood in the “wide open space of God’s grace” – with all my imperfections, doubts and fears – and discovered unconditional love. Not magic. Acceptance. Not a fairy godmother. A heavenly father who says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Not a handsome prince. But an oh-so-handsome husband who loves me, day in and day out – happily ever after or not.

~*~

Catch-a-Falling-Star-bookcoverWhat does a girl do when life doesn’t go according to her plan? At thirty-six, Kendall Haynes has seen some of her dreams come true. She’s a family physician helping kids with severe allergies and asthma achieve more fulfilling lives—a childhood struggle she knows all too well. But are Kendall’s dreams of having it all—a career, a husband, children—nothing more than a childhood fantasy? God says He knows the plans He has for her—why can’t Kendall figure them out and be content with her life?

Griffin Walker prefers flying solo—both as an Air Force pilot and in his personal life. But a wrong choice and health problems pulled him out of the cockpit. His attempts to get out of “flying a desk” are complicated by his parents’ death—making Griffin the reluctant guardian of his sixteen-year-old brother, Ian. How did his life get so off course? Can he get his life back on track…or has there been a divine plan all along?

Catch a Falling Star reminds readers that romance isn’t just for twenty-somethings and that sometimes letting go of your “wish I may, wish I might” dreams is the only way to embrace everything God has waiting for you.

Your Turn: What was your favorite fairy tale as a child? How has your perception of fairy tales helped you define romance today? I’m giving away a copy of Beth’s Catch a Falling Star to one commenter (U.S. residents only). 

 

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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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 Pat Trainum: Foundation of a Lasting Marriage

Please join me in welcoming one of my writing support group friends–Pat Trainum. Pat is a woman of many talents. In addition to her writing, she is also a potter who crafts beautiful jewelry and mugs. I’m thrilled to have a one-of-a-kind Pat Trainum mug sitting on my desk. Pat writes romantic suspense under the name of P.T. Bradley. She is represented by the Mary Sue Seymour Agency. Her short-stories have been published in Woman’s World. Although she isn’t published (yet), her manuscripts have won or finaled in several contests, including the 2009 Maggie (Inspirational Category), 2nd Place in the 2011 Touched By Love contest, semi-finaled in the 2011 Genesis and bronzed in the Frasier. She is also an abstinence/healthy relationship speaker and have spoken to many students…and adults. When she’s not writing or speaking, she throws mud on a wheel and tries to make something beautiful. Learn more about her by visiting her site at www.ptbradley.com

~*~

I’m one of Lisa’s unpubbed friends. We met at Susan May Warren’s very first Deep Thinkers Retreat in Melbourne, Florida. Right away I knew she was one of those Happily Ever After (HEA) types. She just gives off that sweet aura.

Now me, normally I kill people. Now don’t get me wrong, I love romances, especially Lisa’s Lakeside Reunion and Lakeside Family, but when it comes to writing, that’s what I write. Romantic Suspense. Actually suspense with a little romance thrown in. Before that, I taught teens how to have healthy relationships which hopefully would lead to healthy marriages. 

Huh?  I’m sure you’re asking how one goes from teaching how to have a HEA to writing about murder. I’m so glad you asked, but Lisa didn’t ask me to do a blog for her on murder. Her blogs are all about love and marriage and relationships and weddings. You’ll have to come over to my blog for the one on romantic suspense.  No, today I want to talk about some things you might not know about love and marriage and weddings.

First, I want to ask if you have any idea what couple currently holds the record for the longest marriage in the United States. I’ll wait while you Google it. …….Yep, if you found Marshall and Winnie Kuykendall, you’re right. Eighty-two years. Theirs is an interesting story.

I tried to find out about wedding costs when they wed back in 1929, but couldn’t find any statistics. I did run across a lot of interesting facts about weddings today. Like, did you know June is the most popular month for weddings, then August, followed by September and October? Or that 2.3 million couples wed every year in the US. And the average couple spends $20,000 for their wedding. That fact blew me away. When I got married, I didn’t know you could have that many zeros behind a dollar sign.

The average age of a bride today in the US is 25.3; Winnie was 20. The average cost of wedding rings for the bride and groom are $1,016. That’s considerably more than the thirty-five dollars Marshall paid for his bride’s.

It’s no wonder that the wedding industry is a 72-billion-dollar industry. In the US, that’s 72 with 9 zeros behind it. Another 19 billion is spent on wedding gifts and 8 billion on honeymoons. All this for one day. Or a week if you count the honeymoon. In my classrooms, I always told the students that the wedding lasted only for a day, but the marriage was for a lifetime.

When Winnie was asked how they’d been able to stay married so long, she replied that their elopement was a foolish act of kids. It was not great planning that built the foundation of a lasting marriage. (“We didn’t have a bit of sense,” she says.) It was the daily decisions they made for each of the 82 years that followed. “Being good to each other, I guess.”

Your Turn: If you’re married, how old were you when you said, “I do”? What advice would you offer to newlyweds…or even oldlyweds?

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 Keli Gwyn: Shifting into Romance

Keli Gwyn is one of the most encouraging people I know, who is quick to promote others. We became friends through the blogophere, and we share the same agent, Rachelle Gardner.  

Keli writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives is currently available. When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell. To learn more about her, visit her website

Widow Elenora Watkins is determined to provide for herself and her daughter without relying on anyone else. Can she run a successful business after falling for the competition? Miles Rutledge finds himself willing to do anything to keep Elenora in town. But can he win her heart while putting her out of business?

*** 

Is your guy into cars? Mine is.

Judging by the malespeak heard during the fellowship time after church on Sundays, many men have a thing about their vehicles. We have fellows who are into British cars, a guy who’s getting his Cobra back on the road, and Jeep owners who are rock crawling enthusiasts.

 

Gwynly owns a ’68 MGB roadster he’s had since 1970. His pale yellow sports car, Midge, brings him a lot of pleasure. He likes working on her engine, polishing her until she gleams, and taking her for a spin.

Because I know how much enjoyment Gwynly’s blonde British beauty brings him, I’ve worked to develop an understanding of his bond. I’ll never be as attached to Midge as Gwynly is, but for his sake, I searched for ways to share his interest and found five.

1. Shift my focus. Rather than thinking about how I’d like him to romance me, I’ve realized that if I put his hobbies and interests first—in this case his car—I can romance him.

2. Learn some car talk. Since Gwynly spends upwards of half an hour each Sunday talking with his male friends about cars, he must be as into them as I am into writing. Thus, it’s important that I expand my vocabulary. For example, over dinner recently he mentioned how much better his gas mileage is since his mechanic adjusted Midge’s SUs. That might not mean anything to you, but to the wife of this MG enthusiast that means Lawrie changed the mixture in the carburetors so the “B” is running leaner and cleaner.

3. Wax eloquent about his set of wheels. After Gwynly’s spent hours applying polish and rubbing it off, I run my hand over the shiny surface and tell him how nice Midge looks. If our guys have been hunched under the hood for half a day replacing a part, we can ask them to show us the results of their hard work and thank them for it.

4. Put the brakes on the complaints. There were days early in our marriage when I was jealous of the time Gwynly spent with Midge. I’ll admit that I wasn’t very understanding or supportive. OK, I was downright grumpy. I griped and complained and whined and wheedled because I wanted his time and attention. These days I park my tongue when I’m tempted to moan and groan.

5. Enjoy the ride! Making the effort to connect with our guys by showing genuine interest in their cars can pay off. We can rev their romance engines with a compliment or a word of gratitude about how well they maintain their fleets, fueling their desire to romance us in return. And we can literally enjoy going on rides with our guys. I’ve found Gwynly relaxes, opens up, and converses freely when he’s behind the wheel. Put him in the driver’s seat of his B with the top down and his gal by his side, and the romance shifts into high gear.

Your Turn: Do you compliment your guy on his car and his car care? Do you enjoy going on rides with your guy? Do you know what your guy’s dream car is?

Keli is giving away a copy of A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Lisa Jordan
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Date Night: Gone Fishing

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

~Chinese Proverb

Before Hubby and I married, our relationship developed through letters and treasured phone calls as we were 6 hours apart most of the time. That’s what happens when you fall in love with a Marine stationed out of state. For two months from our first meeting, we wrote, getting to know each other on paper. Then Hubby came home on leave to go fishing with his dad and brothers in Canada. While there, he wrote me a love letter on birch bark, which I still have. 

I knew I’d end up marrying that fisherman. And marrying him meant embracing his interests. Then, as we had boys, I had to choose to join them or stay behind. I’m sure several of you may be thinking, “I’d stay behind.”

One of my favorite dating memories is going fishing with Hubby. I had fished with my dad as a child, but Hubby took the time to reteach me out to bait my hook (I use meal worms, but totally draw the line at touching maggots that Hubby uses.) and cast my line. With the sun shining on our faces, the gentle breezes blowing through our hair and birds serenading, we stood knee deep in the water casting and talking. 

After the boys were born, we fished together as a couple with his dad and brother. This time the boys stayed with Grandma. That day is another one that gets stored away in the Favorite Memories mind bank. With the hustle and bustle of parenting, it’s great for couples to get away and enjoy one another. Again, he took the time to help me cast. And we talked. And laughed. And smooched in the shadows of the covered bridge over the stream where we fished. A definite Happy Moment. 

He teases me about using my paper towels and hand sanitizer. Doesn’t bother me. I may be embracing his interests and having fun doing it, but I’m not crazy!

Sadly I allowed a disastrous fishing experience and my phobia of snakes keep me from going fishing again and adding more memories to the Favorite Memories mind bank. 

Recently we went fishing with the boys. I had forgotten how peace the streams were. With the craziness in our schedules and all the noise we hear during the day, it was so nice to unplug and head for the water. I pulled on my hip waders, adjusted the brim of my hat, and trudged down the path with fishing pole in hand while begging God to keep all snakes out of my path and line of vision. And the day couldn’t have been more perfect. And yes, God answered my prayers about the snakes. And I caught a fish!! My sister asked me what kind, and I told her “a spotted one.” I caught a brown trout. 

If you’re looking for an inexpensive Date Night (or Day), consider going fishing. If neither of you know how to fish, find a local Trout Unlimited chapter or other fishing organization in your area and learn! 

Lisa Jordan
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