Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: Joy

 

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Keeping up with the Fruits of the Spirit in marriage today. 🙂 Next up: Joy.

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When I was younger, I used to think that joy was all about feeling happy, having fun, and laughing a lot. It is that, but it’s more than that when we invite God into things.

The world’s definition of joy is: “1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation. 2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. 3. the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety. 4. a state of happiness or felicity” (Dictionary.com).

The Bible, however, says a couple of things about joy. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, English Standard Version). And “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4, ESV).

Have you ever known someone who has gone through something terrible–a death in the family, cancer, abuse, etc.–but has still somehow maintained joy? I’ve been so fortunate to know such people. Honestly, on my side of things, I don’t know how they do it. But I know what they would say: it’s all God, not them. It’s a supernatural thing, something that, until you go through it, you probably won’t understand.

Joy is something that lasts. It endures, even through painful times. It’s different than happy. Happy is a feeling that comes and goes–joy sticks with us. I have joy because of God, but I’m not always a happy camper. Ask my husband and kids. (…Actually, don’t ask them. I don’t want your perception of me ruined. HA!!) The best explanation on the difference between happiness and joy that I’ve read can be found at GotQuestions.org.

So how does this relate to marriage? I believe when both people in the marriage have joy–the enduring kind of joy–their marriage is stronger. They may not always be happy, but they’re not as tempted to find that joy outside the marriage. Their love deepens and endures They can forgive more easily (note I’m not saying they can forgive easily, just more easily, in my experience). They rely on God first for their worth and are more complete, not looking to their spouse to make them complete or happy or to give them joy.

Does that make sense? (And oh, please know I’m talking to myself here, too!)

How do we get joy? The only time I’ve truly experienced joy is when I’ve given up my self: my desires, my ambitions, my goals, my dreams, my own fulfillment, and I’ve sought God: His desires for me, His ambitions for me, His goals for me, His dreams for me, His fulfillment in me. When I seek Him and find Him, I find joy.

For more verses on joy (and what it means and entails), visit Faith Gateway.

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Posted in Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday: Boho

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Don’t you love weddings? I do. Oh-so much. I might even be a little…obsessive. But only a little.

One of my friends tagged me in a photo today of the most beautiful boho wedding cake and said that’s what she wants for her wedding! (I wonder if she knows she’s already married??) So I thought I would take that and run with it! (Thanks, B!)

So let’s start with the cake, since that’s what I’m basing this wedding around!

The cake:

Incredible Edibles
From Incredible Edibles

Uh, yeah. That. Is. A. Cake. Isn’t it completely stunning??? What incredible craftsmanship!

The dress:

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From Bridal Musings: Lihi Hod
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From Bridal Musings: Lihi Hod

Bohemian chic, people!

The reception:

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From Funny Wedding Media

The flowers:

With a bonus headpiece!

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From DustJacket Attic

And because I adore jewelry:

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From One to Wed

The set is so unique, but isn’t it G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S??? I die.

So what do you think? Is boho your style?

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Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: Love

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I’ve been thinking long and hard about marriage and what it all entails. Can I just tell you? It entails a lot. There are so many characteristics and traits we need to bring to our marriages to make them work and balance one another out. I think the best list, however, outside of 1 Corinthians 13 (which I wrote about here), is Galatians 5:22-23. The Fruits of the Spirit.

I hope you all know that I don’t write from a place of expertise. I write from a place of learning. When I sit down to read things and study for these posts, it’s because they’re things I need to learn, not just for my marriage’s benefit, but for my own growth.

Because sometimes, I’m a lousy person.

So why don’t we sit on these two verses for the next number of weeks? And first, look at love.

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First, I think the best definition of love is actually not found in the dictionary, but in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Do you notice something when you read those Bible verses? Every description of love in there is a verb. An action.

My husband is a good example of love in action. He doesn’t just think of me and maybe buy me something when he’s out of the country. When he’s home, he’ll pick up the broomplate-629970_640 and sweep. He’ll put the dishes away (it’s my chore) to give me a break. He’ll take the kids out to give me a quiet house so I can write. He’s patient with me when I’m irritable. He’s kind to me when I’m not kind to myself. And so.much.more.

He’s showing me love in action.

I think it’s normal to be selfish and want someone to love you in action but not giving too much thought to how you can love them in action. At least, it can be normal for me. Sadly. (I’m trying to change, I promise!)

Christ is the perfect example–way better than my husband (don’t worry, the hubs would cross-1149878_640agree). He died on the cross (Matthew 27:32-56). Went through unfathomable agony. Then He defeated death and walked out of that grave (Luke 24:1-12). He showed Himself to people for 40 days (Acts 1:3) before He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:6-11) where He sits at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19), waiting for the day when we each face God. Jesus will either intercede and say, “I knew him/her, and s/he knew Me,” or He’ll say, “I never knew him/her” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Talk about action! Talk about love. Unimaginable love. Each day in our marriages, we need to lay down our lives. Maybe give up that five minutes of extra sleep socoffee-983955_640 you can get up and make a cup of coffee for your spouse. Or do something you find yucky to relax your spouse: rub their feet. (Uugghh…I shudder.) The list can go on and on.

So spend some time today thinking on how you can show love better to those around you, whether you’re married or not. And share your ideas in the comments, because I. Need. Help. 🙂

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Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: Submission (Don’t be afraid!)

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67a2ba26408228ee07e597e14c1836d0Submission. Oh, that nasty, hard-to-swallow word. But…

“I do not think it means what you think it means.”
~Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I’ve been thinking on this subject for a while now, as it’s a topic that keeps popping up online and among my friends. But I’m not nearly as eloquent (or, since she would smack me for saying that, I’m not nearly as experienced and/or wise on this subject) as one of my dear friends, author Jennifer Slattery.

So today, I’m doing something a little different for Forever Friday. I’m sending you all over to read Jennifer’s posts on her blog. Please. Go and read. Because seriously, submission isn’t the four-letter word we all think it is.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

Read part three here.

Jennifer has published four novels, all focusing on marriages. Trust me when I say, she breakingfree_n1664109knows her stuff. Find her books on New Hope Publishers, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and Amazon. Her latest is Breaking Free, and promises to be her best yet.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte.

 

 

Posted in Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday: St. Patty’s Day!

I know St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until next week, but Wedding Wednesday fell a week early, so…why not celebrate a week early? Right? Riiiight???

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So, I’m not Irish. (I’m actually Scottish, Norman, and German-Dutch.) But I love St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe because I can wear Kiss me, I’m Irish shirts and no one questions it. 😉

The dress:

Oh goodness. Do you ever watch those wedding dress shows? And you just can’t understand how a bride can spend so much money on two dresses because they can’t decide between the two?

I now understand.

So today, there are two dresses. Just consider the second one to be a reception change.

Humor me.

Dress
From Wedding Inspirasi.
Dress1
From Myday.

Isn’t this second dress cute?? And look at the gold sparkles. Perfect for the gold accents that show up a little later in this post! 🙂

The shoes:

Shoes
From Party Simplicity.

The hair:

So, apparently this week I’m indecisive. Because now I have two hairstyles. Ugh. The dresses call for an up-do, but really? Who can deny this half-up do?

Hair
From Liberty Hairstyles.

You can’t have a St. Patty’s Day wedding without some Celtic knots! And isn’t this the cutest place for them?!

So for the up-do for the dresses, though, here’s what I found. Braids. Too sweet!

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From Tutu & Fru.

The Bridesmaid dress:

You guys. I’m dying over this one. Dying. I need it.

Bridesmaid
From Storyboard Weddings.

The cake:

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From Wedding Chicks.

The one thing that you need to be careful of in themed weddings is going overboard. So nixing the green on the cake helps to up the elegance. (But I have to admit, I’d probably remove that shimmery gold clover.)

The flowers:

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From Ruffled.

I looooove the gold as an accent color with an emerald green wedding. So pretty!

Bonus! The ring:

When I spotted this, I had to include it. Because. Bling.

Ring
From Wedding Party App.

So what do you think? Would you want a St. Patrick’s Day wedding? What’s your favorite from today’s post?

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Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: A Verse to Focus On

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I’ve been reading the book of Psalms since August. Yes. August. I started out reading it because I could feel anxiety pressing in on me. There was nothing wrong in my life, no stress, worries outside the norm, or anything like that. Just plain, old anxiety slinking its way through the door of my heart.

So I prayed.

And I searched what might help me the most.

The Psalms were the answer.

bible-1031288_1920The moment I prayed and started reading Psalm 1, I could feel the battle within me. I felt that anxiety fighting back, fighting a losing battle. God’s Word, you guys. It’s Peace. It’s Love. It’s Truth. And it’s deadly to all those negatives fighting to draw your attention away from Him.

So, what does this have to do with Forever Friday? Well…not much. Ha!! But it does.

Anxiety, while it doesn’t threaten my marriage, does take my focus. I hide it from my family when I feel it because I’m embarrassed that I don’t have a reason for it. It just…happens. So when it does, it’s all I can think about.

(Though come to think about it, it could be hormones…I am getting to “that” age.)

And that isn’t fair. Not just to my family, but to me. And not just to me, but to the Lord. Because it takes my focus off Him.

Enter the Psalms.

They refocus me, give me hope, peace. They give me joy. I think more on the Lord. I speak with Him more. I’m more relaxed and less irritable.

When my husband does notice I’m more irritable, or he knows when I might be feelingholding-hands-1149411_1920 anxious over something, he’ll gently rub my back. He won’t make me talk, he won’t belittle me. He’s steadfast. He’s loving. He’s faithful.

And that’s what marriage is: steadfast love, faithful. When those things are present in marriage, righteousness and peace kiss. And those aren’t my words; they’re God’s.

“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10, English Standard Version).

My husband has his faults. I have my faults. (Lots of them.) (More than lots of them.) We hurt one another, anger one another, and irritate one another (hello snoring). But we choose each day to love one another. He makes sure he doesn’t leave for work without a kiss. When we go to bed, we make sure we’re not angry with each other. He unloads the dishwasher for me. (Hey, that’s a huge act of love in my books!) I encourage him to find friends and spend time with them. (I’m listening to him, our oldest son, and a friend play a game in the dining room as I write this, and it’s beautiful to my ears to hear their laughter and chatter.)

There’s only one way we can both choose to love a steadfast love and remain faithful, and that’s through Christ. Through His love, sacrifice, and presence in our lives. It doesn’t mean we won’t have our rough patches, arguments, or dirty q-tips laying around, but it does mean we have a God who will give us the strength to forgive and move on, remaining steadfast in our love, faithful to our vows, and who will fill us with His righteousness and peace.

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How do you ensure your marriage stays steadfast, faithful, and peaceful? Please do share ideas, tips, and your thoughts. I always need to learn, as I bet a lot of you feel. 🙂

Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: 1 Corinthians 13

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Last week, I started a new feature called Wedding Wednesday (see my first post here). However, we all know that while weddings are super stressful fun, it’s the marriage that truly counts.

I’m by no means a marriage expert, so this in no way, shape, or…anything…should be considered advice. It’s more of a “let’s learn together” feature.

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Every time I think of marriage, I hear this in my head from The Princess Bride:

The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.

I. love. that. movie. But I digress.

“Tweasure your wuv.” (Just in case you need help translating, that’d be “treasure your love.”)

What does it mean to treasure something? Dictionary.com defines the verb treasure as “to retain carefully or keep in store, as in the mind; to regard or treat as precious; cherish.”

holding-hands-1149411_640Society has changed the way a lot of people thing about marriage. You’re not happy? Divorce. You’re interested in someone else? Divorce. You’ve grown apart? Divorce. All these boil down to one thing: you don’t feel in love with your spouse anymore. (A quick note here: I do believe there are circumstances in which divorce is the best thing to do, such as abuse, infidelity, etc.  Here are some verses you can look up.) What society forgets, though, is that love isn’t a feeling. Feelings can lie to us. Love is, however, a choice.

We can choose, on a daily basis–sometimes a minute-by-minute basis if it’s that hard–to truly love someone. But how do we do that?

We’ve likely all heard 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of the Bible that describes tru wuv…a-hem, true love. The nitty-gritty description is verses 4 through 7. But let’s break it down. Love:

Where you see the words underlined, those are links to Dictionary.com so you can read the definitions (make sure you read the “adjective” or “verb” definition for that word!). Hey, sometimes you gotta do your own research to really learn. 😉

The list seems overwhelming. But Jesus is all these things…and more. And He created old-people-545232_640marriage, so I’m confident (I believe) that He has given us the capacity to achieve this list in our marriages.

And for you singles out there, use this passage as a measure for anyone you’re dating! Replace “love” with their name. If they don’t fill these things (or at least most of them since we’re all a work in progress), consider ending that relationship. Not because they aren’t worth it, but because you are worth it.

Until next time.

Posted in Forever Friday, Wedding Wednesday

New Weekly Features

Since my novels are clearly romance, and my “brand” is about bringing you faith, fun, and forever, I thought it would be tons of fun to bring you two special blog days each week!

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I don’t think it’s going to be any secret that I. love. weddings. For the longest time, I wanted to be a wedding planner. Only I don’t think I could politely handle a bridezilla. So I created a Pinterest board to fulfill my wedding planner self. But that just wasn’t good enough. 😉 So I started writing books that will include weddings.

That still isn’t quite enough for me. Ha! So here’s hoping Wedding Wednesday will do the trick! Twice a month (and it could increase in frequency because ❤ Pinterest ❤ ), I’ll post some of my favorite wedding themes, reception ideas, dresses, flowers, jewelry…whatever I can find that I adore! Because we all love to drool. At least, I do.

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Weddings are awesome, but marriage is forever. Hence, Forever Friday.

Often in books, we don’t get to follow the characters throughout their marriage. I’m by no means an expert on marriage, but I pray God will give me the words (again, twice a month) to write to encourage you in your own marriages–whether you’re currently married, currently engaged, currently dating, or currently single–and to share what I’ve learned in my life. I hope to even bring in a guest now and then to discuss marriage and/or their books about marriage.

So I hope you join me in this new venture! Because I love weddings, and I love marriage. But I love Jesus the most, and pray to be used to strengthen relationships, including my own.

Posted in Blog

Faith. Fun. Forever.

Hi all!

I’m actually writing on a deadline at the moment, but took a time-out for some dinner and was thinking of you.

You may have noticed the design change. If you haven’t read my Books page, I’ll fill you in. 🙂 (So I’m lazy. The next few paragraphs are copied right from my Books page. Not even gonna.)

I’ve always been drawn to humorous love stories. I love the deep, meaningful books full of gorgeous prose and imagery, but each time I try to write in that vein, I get stuck. Kind of like God is trying to tell me that He has other plans for me. Instead, I play the comparing game and think that if I don’t write the deep prose, I’m not as talented or hard-working as those other authors.

Lies, my friends.

I was at a coffee shop, brainstorming with three other authors yesterday morning and mentioned this to them. One of them, a very dear friend, said that there is a place for humorous love stories, especially in the lives of those going through some very difficult bible-896220_640times. (End of copying! The rest is fresh from my heart tonight.)

Obviously, my faith makes me who I am. I’m a work-in-progress. A messy, imperfect woman who loves Jesus and wants to share the joy of loving Him with others. So it’s just naturally going to come into play in my novels. I can’t help it. And I don’t think He wants me to. 🙂 (And that picture there includes coffee because it’s one of my favorite loves.)

The “fun” part? Well…I love humor! I love to laugh. Who doesn’t? And quite honestly, I’m terribly hilarious. 😉 At least, that’s what I tell everyone. Whether it’s true or not…. But bridal-636018_640really, I hope to get others to laugh, or at least smile, while reading my books. I want that woman who is sitting through a chemo appointment to smile and have her mind taken off what’s being put into her veins to help her be healed. I want that young woman hoping for a love story of her own to see that God loves and pursues her passionately–more passionately than any earthly man ever could–and does so with joy and laughter. I want that mum who’s so worn out from work or being at home with her kids all day to have a few minutes at night to just let go.

Forever. Oh, who doesn’t dream of forever? The romance of a new relationship, the stress ring-441783_640of planning a wedding, the joy in the ceremony and reception…then the forever. I want you, my readers, to fall in love with the characters. To join them in their celebration of “forever,” and dream of not just their wedding, but their “ever after.” I also want my readers to see the romance and joy of an “ever after” with their Creator! Jesus on the cross is the most stunning picture of love. A commitment to Him–and His to us–will make all the difference in our lives. Will it make our lives easier? Nope. He doesn’t promise that. What He does promise is that He’ll be there with us, through it all (Matthew 28:20).

Obviously, I’m a romantic at heart. And I make no apologies for it. So, expect it from me. 🙂 But also expect characters who are real, flawed, messy. Because those characters will also be redeemed through Christ’s death, resurrection, grace, and mercy.

Just like us.

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