How do I say, “I love you” so you hear me?

Roses

My husband and I recently celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. (The above picture shows some of the roses my husband bought for me as part of our celebration.) For some people twenty-two years seems like a very long time. For others, we’re just getting started.

I’ve been reminded lately that we are still two very different people with different ideas, different ways of doing things, and different responses. Often I do things for my spouse the way I’d like him to do things for me. The problem is, he isn’t me. And if I expect him to appreciate what I’m doing, I’ll be disappointed.

Most of us are familiar with Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. He explains that there are five main ways people tend to express and want to receive love: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and gift giving. If you are still figuring out how to say, “I love you” in a way that is meaningful to your partner, have him or her do The Five Love Languages Quiz and share the results with you. Once you know what love language your partner “speaks,” check out How to be Romantic and do something for your spouse that will communicate your love to him or her in a way he or she will understand.

Today my husband and I had a conversation about the roses he bought for me. He thought I liked the fact that he bought me flowers, period. And I do enjoy their beauty. However, for me, the note he gave me with the roses was more important than the roses. (Can you guess what my love language is?) After twenty-two years, we can tell you many things about each other, but we still have more to learn 🙂

Something else that we’ve been learning is to be more intentional about demonstrating our love for each other with daily habits we can consciously insert into each day. It’s easy to start taking our spouse for granted. Life gets busy, kids require time and attention, and it’s all too easy to put our marriage on the back burner. We’ve found it helpful to:

  • Greet one another cheerfully every morning
  • Kiss and hug each other throughout the day
  • Make time to talk to each other each day
  • Reserve time to do something together that we both enjoy (date night)

How about you? Have you figured out how to tell your spouse you love him or her in a way he or she understands? What do you and your spouse do to keep the spark alive in your marriage?

 


Name the Novel contest

Farm scene with tractor, hay, and sheds

My current work-in-progress is a historical fiction novel with elements of romance and mystery. Here’s a brief synopsis:

Twenty-two-year-old OLGA TYMCHUK, a newly graduated teacher, looks forward to marrying her fiancée, VIKTOR in July 1959. However, before they marry, Olga is committed to teaching for a year in Gillmore, Alberta as a requirement for the bursary she received in university. Viktor and Olga are separated when Viktor accepts a challenging job as a scientific researcher for the National Research Council in Ontario.

Olga feels deserted when Viktor leaves for Ontario. He promises to write often and gives her a ticket so she can visit him at Christmas time, but Olga feels like she’s losing Viktor. Olga still needs to work through the loss of her father, who died in a tragic tractor accident when she was fourteen. Olga’s afraid she’s going to lose Viktor just like she lost her dad. She’s still angry with God over her father’s death and doesn’t know what she’ll do if Viktor is taken from her too.

Teaching is more of a challenge than Olga thought. Although Olga misses Viktor, her work keeps her motivated. Olga develops a strong relationship with many of the students in her class. However, one student, little JIMMY, seems determined to cause trouble no matter what Olga does to reach out to him. Olga discovers sometimes her students teach her more than she teaches them.

A week before Christmas, Olga and her brother, STEFAN, use the tickets Viktor provides and take the train to Ontario, their first trip outside Alberta. When Olga tries to contact Viktor, she discovers he has been involved in a serious accident at his workplace. Olga and Stefan spend most of Christmas vacation at the hospital visiting Viktor. Olga and Viktor have time to talk through many issues and discuss wedding plans. Although Viktor received severe burns, his body is healing well. Olga and Stefan say goodbye to Viktor and return to Gillmore.

The train arrives back in Gillmore and Olga is handed a telegram which contains information that turns her world upside down and sends her on a quest for truth about what happened. In the process she discovers many things about herself, God, and true love.

My working title for this novel is Olga’s Discovery. The publisher I’m working with has indicated I need to come up with a more captivating title. Some other options that have been suggested are: Enduring Love, This Fierce Love, Unending Love, Undying Love, When Love Abides, All My Love Olga, Forever My Love, and Love That Won’t Let Go.

Please help me name my novel by commenting with your choice of title. If you have an original title idea, share it. I’ll send everyone who participates by August 31, 2014 a free electronic version of the first chapter. If your title choice is used by the publisher, I’ll send you a free autographed paperback copy of my novel when it’s published (hopefully in 2015). I look forward to your feedback 🙂

 

 


My God Love Story

bandaged heart

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”

-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I’m enjoying another Proverbs 31 online Bible study. This one is based on Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? … and Other Questions Every Mom Asks. This week we’ve been studying the section titled, This is All I Have to Give. For our blog hop this week we were given three topics to choose from:

  1. My God Love Story
  2. Favorite Ways to Relax and Refill
  3. This is All I Have to Give

I would have found it easy to write about topic 2, but God told me I needed to share my God love story with you. So here goes . . .

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to feel weak, or flawed, or broken. In contrast, God’s Word says:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I Corinthians 1:27

For the past year, God has been taking me through dark places, allowing things to happen to me and my family that I would never choose. I haven’t been happy with God. These dark places hurt. They’ve shown me things about myself I didn’t want to see. These places have left me weak, flawed, and broken, utterly dependent on God. Most people have no idea of what I’ve been going through, because I haven’t been at liberty to share. I’ve had to trust God. And, surprise! He’s been faithful (actually, that’s not such a surprise, is it?!)

In June I attended the Write Canada conference in Ontario. I thought I was going to learn more about writing and to spread the word about InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. God had other plans. He wanted to demonstrate His love to me through complete strangers who love Him.

Two women hugging

The first “hug” came through two ladies from Alberta who shared a hotel room with someone they’d only talked to on Facebook. Instead of having to pay the full cost of a hotel room, I only had to pay 1/3. Not only that, but these ladies shared from their hearts about the dark places God has lead them through. It was as if God was saying, “You’re going to make it. Hang in there.”

The second “hug” came through a pastor from British Columbia who prayed over me for no reason other than that God placed it on his heart to do so. He had no idea what I was going through, only that I was burdened.

The third “hug” came through a lady from Ontario. She has the same first name as me, grew up as a missionary kid like I did (but in a different part of the world), and has just finished going through the exact same deep dark place God is taking me through. We had never met before the conference. I went to encourage her after she asked a question during a session, and she started sharing with me about this deep dark place God had led her through. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She understood, because she’s walked the same rocky path I’m on. God used her to tell me, “There’s hope. You’re going to make it through to the other side. Trust God. He has a good plan for you.”

My way is still dark, but I’ve been reminded that God loves me, because His followers have been faithful and obedient. He cares, and He will bring me through. In fact, I think He’s carrying me right now. I can almost see Him smiling down at me saying, “We’re almost there. Just a little bit further. You won’t believe what I have in store for you!”

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but God does. Let’s trust Him together. He really does love us, and sometimes He uses other people to remind us of His love.


Book Signing information from Heaven Sent

New Paperback and July 30 Book Signing

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The author team of “The San Francisco Wedding Planner” will be releasing the “Complete Series” ebook & paperback this Thursday evening!
Who is on the author team? Jen Cudmore,Patti J. Smith, Mishael Austin Witty, Sheila Seiler Lagrand,and Ruth L. Snyder!
Heather Donovan has no time for her own romance—she’s busy making wedding dreams come true for other people and trying to reel her lonely and lovesick widowed mom Gloria back from beyond the brink of good taste. Her receptionist, Raul, is as interested in his hair style as he is in the clients. Indigo, the wedding photographer, never goes anywhere without his beret—or his attitude. Toss in Skye, the mommy-track best friend who wants to breathe organic air, Mario, the talented, hotheaded caterer with an eye for the ladies, and a tall, dark, and handsome stranger visiting the office on the eve of the busiest weekend ever, and you have a recipe for disaster. Or love. Or maybe both? Along the way discover how duck-hunter ice sculptures end up as rehearsal dinner décor at an upscale hotel, why the young doctor has a broken heart, and whose will prevails when the photographer challenges a young couple’s vision of the perfect wedding.

SONY DSC

On July 30th I’ll be at Heaven Sent in St. Paul from noon to 4 pm to meet you and sign copies of the books to which I’ve contributed. Copies of Rise, The Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas, and The San Francisco Wedding Planner will be available for purchase at special prices. I look forward to seeing you there!


Children in car

Church Tales: Being a Mom is Tough

Children in carI don’t know what your Sunday mornings are like, but mine are rarely the peaceful, worshipful times I would like them to be. They usually start off well, especially when I get up to have a bath and spend a few quiet minutes reading my Bible and praying while everyone else is still fast asleep. However, once I rouse the rest of the household we start down the slippery Sunday slope.

First there’s a mad rush to get dressed. One son can’t find matching socks (even though I put ten pairs in his drawer a few days ago). My youngest daughter complains she’s still tired and hides under the covers. Another son has his dirty clothes on from yesterday, even though not five minutes ago I told him to put on CLEAN clothes.

Then, there’s the breakfast fiasco. Children squirm and fidget when my husband asks what we read about yesterday in our family devotions. No one remembers. He expresses his frustration, and everyone quiets down. Then, five minutes after we start eating, our youngest daughter has to “go pee,” something that seems to happen at every meal. One of our sons reaches for something and tips over his full cup of milk. Another son is refusing to eat because he doesn’t like what’s on the table this morning.

Next comes the ride to church. We all sit in the van, waiting for our sixteen-year-old daughter. She gets in and glares because she wasn’t allowed to drive this morning. It takes a few minutes for everyone to get their seat belts on and then we’re off. Two minutes later, one son is crying because his brother walloped him across the face. When I ask “Why’d you hit him?” he shrugs his shoulders. “Hands to yourselves, everyone,” I plead. A couple minutes later our younger daughter starts whining that she’s thirsty. There are no water bottles in sight. Fortunately the drive to town only lasts ten minutes.

We’ve finally made it to church. While I’m catching up with my friends, one of my sons is running laps. I catch him and remind him to walk. We resume our conversation, only to be interrupted again. Another son is using the bathroom and forgot to close the door. When we enter the sanctuary, I focus on quieting my heart and mind. That lasts a couple of seconds—until my kids start fighting over who gets to sit beside me. We get the seating arrangement sorted out. Then my youngest son suddenly needs to go to the bathroom. Of course he’s sitting the farthest from the aisle, and he trips over someone’s foot on the way out. Now his nose is bleeding. I rush him to the bathroom, holding his nose with my hands as we walk. When we make it to the bathroom, I discover my son has splatters of blood all the way down his brand new shirt. We clean up the best we can and return to the sanctuary.

Again, I try to calm my heart and mind and focus on what God wants to teach me. Sometimes I actually grasp most of the Pastor’s message. Many times I don’t. But I’ve come to love and accept Sunday mornings with my imperfect kids and my even more imperfect parenting. After all, God doesn’t love me because I’m perfect; He loves me because He chooses to love me.

I’ve discovered that some of life’s greatest lessons are taught not by what happens, but by how I respond in messy situations. (Click to Tweet) I’ve also found peace in the midst of the turbulence of raising five challenging children, because God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. Here are some choices that help me cope:

  1. Celebrate the “gifts” I receive every day, no matter how small or insignificant. (e.g. My washing machine works, I’m alive, The sunset is beautiful)
  2. Acknowledge that I cannot successfully do anything without God
  3. Spend time reading the Bible and praying
  4. Practice God’s presence – remind myself that He is always with me and talk to Him about my joys and frustrations throughout the day
  5. Share my journey with other women who will be brutally honest with me—I still struggle with this, but Facebook helps 🙂

What about you? Can you relate to my Sunday morning mishaps? What helps you cope?


Summer Reading Blog Tour

Introducing Heather Donovan from the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series

Shadows and Sunshine cover

On July 2nd Shadows and Sunshine, volume 6 in the San Francisco Wedding planner Series was released on Amazon. Today I’d like to introduce you to Heather Donovan, the main character in the series.

What is your name?  Heather Marie Donovan
What one word best describes you?  Some people call me creative, talented, stubborn. I would use the word persistent.

How did you first become involved in the story?  Since I’m the main character, this is my story, but I’ve built a team around me that helps me succeed.

What worries you? Several things, actually—I’m a bit of a worry wart 🙂 I worry about my business failing, about losing people close to me (I lost my dad when I was a teenager), and about being single the rest of my life.

What’s your favourite song?  What a feeling by Irene Cara

http://youtu.be/4Rvs6mNoMcs
What’s your favourite food?  You mean besides chocolate and comfort food? Lol  I enjoy all kinds of food, but Mario’s Cotoletta Alla Milanese is my absolute favorite. (If you want to prepare your own, check out the video below.)


What do you think of the other characters?

  • Skye is my BFF, so of course I think she’s wonderful. We are opposites in many ways. She’s an absolute health nut who insists on organic food with lots of fruit and vegetables. You already know what I like to eat.
  • Gloria is my mother. She and I have a love/hate relationship. Her choices frustrate me. I mean come on, she’s supposed to be the mature adult leading the way. Unfortunately, when my father died suddenly my mother seemed to lose her moorings. Now she works as a real estate agent, which has been helpful for me lately. However, her flirtatious behavior is annoying and embarrassing, especially when she hits on MY dates.
  • Raul is my diva admin. assistant who answers the phones and keeps us all organized. (He also likes to dish out advice on fashion, which I usually ignore.) Although he can be very annoying sometimes, he actually is very responsible. In fact, he’s helped me out of a scrape or two.
  • Bryan is an orthopedic surgeon and Raul’s older half-brother—the tall, dark, and handsome one. He knows how to make me feel special and can be very funny, but sometimes I wonder if he’s ready for a serious relationship. Baggage from his past relationships seems to come between us fairly often.
  • Indigo is one of the best photographers in San Francisco. I count it a privilege to have him on my team, but he also causes me the most trouble. You see, I have to handle his ego with kid gloves. He often complains no one understands his art.
  • Mario is a chef extraordinaire, and has been a great addition to my team. He also tends to be a bit of a lady’s man, but a recent love interest is taming him. Mario is one of those people who is everyone’s friend. I don’t think he knows what the word enemy means.

What do you think should happen?  I think me and my team should provide the best event experience for everyone in San Francisco. The Pendergast event is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our skills. If we can pull this off, the sky’s the limit.

I also think that Bryan and I belong together, but I despair that will ever happen. We’re both extremely busy and he seems to have a lot of baggage from past relationships.
Are you happy right now?  Most days, yes. But sometimes I dream about what my life will be like when (I guess I should say IF?) I marry Bryan.
What do you hope to do with your life?  I hope I will be successful in my business and be surrounded with good friends

DRAW for free e-book:  Leave a comment below and your name will be entered to win a copy of volume one of the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series 🙂

Rafflecopter contest: For your chance to win a copy of the whole San Francisco Wedding Planner series, enter at the right.

Want to read more about Heather? My novella, Life Lessons, is scheduled to be released on Thursday, July 24th. Stay tuned for more details. In the mean time, check out some other suggestions for your summer reading list by following the Summer Reading Blog Tour:

Summer Reading Blog Tour

 


Shadows and Sunshine cover

News Release: Ruth L. Snyder, Canadian Author, hits #1 on Amazon.ca’s hot new release list

Ruth L. SnyderRuth L. Snyder, an author from Glendon, Alberta, hit #1 on Amazon.ca’s Hot New Release list in the Christian romance category with her second novella, Shadows and Sunshine, which was released on July 2, 2014. The story is the entertaining conclusion to the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series. This series takes readers on many interesting twists and turns, since five authors collaborate on a single plot throughout the six volumes. All the volumes are available from Amazon.

Tracy Krauss, Canadian author, artist, and playwright says, “Author Ruth Snyder does a wonderful job of ‘wrapping it up’ in this installment to the series. There were lots of loose ends and they come together naturally and with the right amount of believability. It was romantic without being over the top.” Snyder likes a good clean love story and aims to give her readers an enjoyable read. Snyder says, “There’s a lot of negativity about love and marriage these days. I hope my writing gives people a realistic and positive picture of true love.”

Shadows and Sunshine cover

In Shadows and Sunshine, Heather and her crew are determined to pull off the wedding of the year for their high profile client. The stakes have never been higher—this single event could make or break the business. The venue is set, decorations are ordered, and the menu is one-of-a kind. Two days before the event, one thing after another goes wrong. Mario knew he should have made back-up plans, but he didn’t. Bryan thought his past was behind him, but it reappears at the worst possible moment. Heather is forced to deal with personal issues while responding to the challenges of running a business. Does the wedding planner team have the resources and creativity to bounce back and pull off the perfect event?

Ruth L. Snyder has had articles published in Testimony, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and FellowScript magazine. This is her second novella. She is working on a Twitter manual for writers and her first full-length novel, Olga’s Discovery. Ruth is a member of The Word Guild and The Christian PEN. She is currently serving as President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.


Differences in marriage: wedges or building blocks?

couple feeding birdsMy grandfather used to say, “If you marry the right person, there’s nothing like it; and if you marry the wrong person, there’s nothing like it.”

Here are some other quotes I found on marriage:

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” Martin Luther

“Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory.” Abraham Lincoln

The quote by Abraham Lincoln makes us smile and chuckle, and perhaps wince. Why is it that some marriages are so happy while other couples seem to hang on for dear life, simply enduring the ride? All couples have differences, all couples struggle at times, and all couples make choices. How we respond to our differences and struggles can literally make or break our relationship.

Here are some of the differences between my husband and I:

  • night owl/early bird
  • spontaneous/planner
  • caramel/chocolate
  • talker/listener
  • realist/dreamer
  • relaxes by snowmobiling or motorbiking/relaxes by reading or going for a walk

We can allow our differences to drive wedges between us or we can choose to celebrate our differences and use our differences as building blocks. If I focus on trying to make my spouse the same as me, things don’t go very well. In fact, the harder I try to make my husband like me, the farther apart we grow. Marriage works better when there’s give and take. We are very different from each other and we need to accept those differences. There’s a reason opposites attract. My husband has strengths and weaknesses and so do I. We need to learn to allow each other’s strengths to offset our weaknesses. When we do this, we are stronger as a team than we are individually.

Michael Hyatt says, “Think about it. If you married someone just like you, then you wouldn’t have to grow, you wouldn’t have to get out of your comfort zone, and you wouldn’t have to enter into someone else’s world.”

Gary and Barbara Rosberg encourage us to ask these questions:

  • Where do I need to show some grace, real grace, to the person I married? Where do I need to let go and let God do His thing with my spouse?
  • Who needs my words of affirmation more than anyone in my life? Is it easier for me to affirm my kids and my friends than it is for me to affirm my spouse?
  • What are we doing to build safety into our marriage so we can take the risks to love unconditionally?
  • When was the last time we took time to go deeper with each other? Are we making time to connect with each other daily?
  • Am I studying my spouse? Do I know his or her strengths as well as his or her weaknesses? Am I helping to build on the former and strengthen the latter so that I can best become one with my mate?

For more helpful tips, check out: Happy to be Stuck with You.

What have you learned about changing differences from wedges into building blocks? Please share 🙂