The Garden That Love Planted

We all want someone who loves us this way.

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What Equals An Extraordinary Life?

Dead Poets Society- I love this movie. I find it inspiring and heartbreaking in equal parts. John Keating (played by Robin Williams) is attempting to open the eyes of his students to the idea that life can be more than what they have been told or what they have seen. Now, this causes problems but no one is left the same. Anytime someone challenges the status quo, there will be opposition.

Obviously, what some desired for their extraordinary lives others thought was wrong. So what makes for an extraordinary life?

Money? Huge House? Travel? Power?

I would wager that ,while those things above are out of the ordinary, these will not truely be extraordinary.

What I see people hungry for are those things that are not tangible. I feel I have an extraordinary life. What defines that for me is the relationships in my life mainly along with where I live and what I do for work and career.

Can I say that to have a relationship that is healthy and vibrant takes intentional work? These things do not happen by accident. Compatability is key, but compatablility is based largely on your perspective and reactions.

For example, Tony (my husband) is cautious and likes a book’s worth of information and time to think before he makes a decision. I lean towards risk and need only about a page of information and thirty seconds to make a decision. Tony does not love routine and scheduling or budgets. I adore routine and schedules and budgets make me feel secure. As you can see, our approach to just about everything is different. I looked at this as a positive, we balanced each other- and we do.

One evening while headed home from a Pampered Chef Party (about 20 years ago I was a Pampered Chef Lady) I turned on the radio and heard a program on marriage from Focus on the Family. Listening to the guests talk, I thought, “Wow, they sound just like me and Tony.” Because I jumped in the middle, I had not heard the title. Imagine my surprise when the title was announced, “How To Build a Marriage When You Are Not Compatible.”

Not Compatible?

What a shock, all this time I thought we were balanced. Actually, I did then and still think that is what we are- balanced. This is where perspective and reactions come in. I didn’t react to Tony’s need for more information as if he was wrong. He wasn’t wrong, he was just different. He doesn’t consider my tendency to jump before I look as a weakness. We balance. Our marriage is extraordinary.

I live in Galveston, Texas. I can walk to the beach daily, I watch the waves when I commute to work. Some may not really care about that, the beach doesn’t do anything for them. I find this VERY odd but you know- each to his own. Where I live is something and somewhere I consider extraordinary. Now, I could change my perspective. I could focus on the crazy traffic rules, the tourist that come here and act the fool, or the constant humidity of about 143%. But, I do not. I love this island and all its quirks.

Experiences- from buying ice cream from the ice cream truck on the BEACH (yes, that is a thing) with my grandbabies to snorkeling in Key West with my younger two kids and handsome husband is what makes life extraordinary. God has blessed me and I KNOW it!

What makes a life extraordinary? That is for you to answer. I hope you will pursue those things with all your heart.

These people make my life extraordinary. Thanks be to God in Heaven for the blessings.

Leave what makes your life extraordinary in the comments below- I want to know what it is for you!

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This One Thing That Will Bring Peace to Your Marriage

Grace.

That is the one element that will make your marriage better. Grace will make any relationship you have better- including the relationship you have with yourself.

What is Grace exactly?

grace

Definition of grace

 (Entry 1 of 2)1a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b: a virtue coming from God

c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

2a: APPROVALFAVOR stayed in his good graces

b archaic MERCYPARDON

c: a special favor PRIVILEGEeach in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage— Rudyard Kipling

d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency

e: a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE

3a: a charming or attractive trait or characteristic Among disagreeable qualities he possessed the saving grace of humor.

b: a pleasing appearance or effect CHARMall the grace of youth— John Buchan

c: ease and suppleness of movement or bearing danced with such grace

grace verb gracedgracing

Definition of grace (Entry 2 of 2)

1: to confer dignity or honor on The king graced him with the rank of a knight.

2: ADORNEMBELLISH graveled walks graced with statues— J. A. Michener

There is a lot to this one word, but I think the part that applies the most to marriage is “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency“. Frequently, we demand more from those we live with, especially our spouse. We let our anger show, our impatience colors our words, and we keep a long list of flaws and mistakes. But, what would our marriage look like if we responded with grace instead of “justice” or harshness?

I think sometimes, especially for women, we think it is our duty or job to fix everyone around us. The world tells us that we do that by pointing our every flaw and demanding perfection. That isn’t how God does it. He offers GRACE every second of every day. If we are in a new season, he offers grace. If we are struggling, he offers grace. If we are learning a new way of being or doing, he offers grace.

Grace is key to living at peace.

My therapist once asked me what I wanted to remember in January when I thought about the holidays.

Peace- Joy- Reverence-Laughter- Ease

But most of all, in every season of my life, I want peace.

You need grace to have peace. You can’t be at peace with yourself if you don’t extend grace to yourself. You can’t live at peace with others if you don’t extend grace to others. There is a time for calling someone on their sh*&$. But those times are NOT everyday and not in every moment. Plus, if you are constantly busting someone over every flaw and mistake, they are not listening to you. However, if you deal grace like a drug dealer deals meth, people will listen when you come to them out of love and talk with them about a problem or pattern that needs attention.

GRACE should be thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Give it freely because God has certainly given it freely to you.

I also looked up antonyms for Grace:

Bitterness. Disapproval. Hostility. Unforgiveness.

Wow, sometimes you can learn more by looking at what something is not than what it is.

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. How fitting that His Father is a God of Grace.

My Leading Man

Every writer has to have an inspiration, a muse, or archetype from which they draw. Because I am an incurable romantic, I write romance. In real life, I WANT everyone to get that happily ever after.

When it comes to the leading man in a story- regardless of the genre- I am only drawn to an Alpha male. I have absolutely no use for anything less. Power is a tricky thing, but one thing that it always is is attractive. I truly believe that is the appeal of a uniform, it represents power and strength.

Now, here is where we get into arguments. So many assume that an Alpha male is a bully, a brute, or abusive. Many book reviews I have read stated that they did not like the male lead characters because they were Alphas and Alphas were toxic. Here is where they are wrong. A true Alpha is a leader, a protector, a warrior, and a good guy. I wouldn’t follow anything less and I wouldn’t trust my future to anything less. This also means, that I wouldn’t write anything less.

Those men that are bullies, brutes, and abusive are actually weak men who act out loudly. They don’t have what it takes to lead and let others around them succeed so they beat them down either emotionally, physically, mentally or all of these above. This is not strength. A fearful man is just as dangerous. A man who shrinks back in fear cannot be trusted to protect or fight for what is important.

I have had the pleasure of being married to an Alpha male for nearly 30 years. When we met, I had a lot of unhealed wounds. He was the safe place for me to heal. He loved me as I was, took my anger (even when he wasn’t the reason I was angry), let me be myself without criticizing who I was. He even took the physical punches I threw, but not for long because he wouldn’t tolerate abusive behaviors. He never raised a hand to me but he scared me good and I never hit him again. That is what an Alpha looks like.

I have also raised an Alpha male. I have seen how the heart of a warrior develops by watching it emerge early on and seeing what it looks like through each stage. My son has a very different personality from my husband, but their hearts are the same.

There is a misconception that Alpha males don’t feel deeply or get attached. This is so wrong. They do feel deeply. They are loyal. They are driven. They love deeply, so deeply that they would sacrifice their own safety or life in order to protect what is theirs and who they love. I have watched Tony do whatever was necessary to ensure that our children had what they needed and I have never had to wonder if I was loved.

Because of their strength of character, they aren’t afraid to get physical. Both my husband and my son will settle an argument with their fists- if it’s needed. However, it is rarely needed. I feel safe knowing that if anything went down, my husband will take care of me. Honestly, I could be as wrong and wrong could be and Tony would defend me. We might have a serious talk when we got home, but he will have my back no matter what.

So, it is easy to see where I get my inspiration for the leading men I write. In each and every one of them, there is a piece of Tony Ross. The characters have different personalities, but that warrior heart is the same. My characters talk a lot more than my husband, so much of what he says is in what he doesn’t say.

He also isn’t very reactive. This is a good thing because I am VERY reactive. But in a good story, people need to react. So, I write scenes that would cause Tony to react. This means that the love interests gets physically attacked or threatened, and/or quite often shot at- but nobody dies because in my world everyone gets the happily ever after.

Everyman needs a battle to fight and beauty to rescue- these are the men I write. I simply write him again and again and thank God that every night I sleep next to Tony Ross.

Don’t let that easy going smile and quiet personality fool you, mess with me or one of his children and he will rain down hell.

I adore him.

Do This One Thing To Make Your Marriage Stronger

The one thing my husband tells our children and any other young person who askes is this, “Move at least 3 hours from both sets of parents.” I have to say I agree.

Lest you think we hate our parents, let me set the record straight- we don’t.

But, with that said, if parents are close at hand the process of leaving your family of origin and creating your own, new, nuclear family will be greatly thwarted.

I had an overbearing mother and my husband had an over bearing father.

To be clear, neihter was overbearing because they hated us. They loved us dearly. The problem was that they both thought that they knew what was best for us but they didn’t agree on what that was.

So there Tony and I were caught in the middle. This created a lot of stress on our newly born marriage. We hadn’t been “grown” long enough to be comfortable with not doing what we were told by our parents.

I can’t really figure out why either thought we needed to be told what to do. I mean we were all of 19 and 21!

Can you blame them? I am still weighing in heavy on my 19 and 21 year-old children’s lives. They were just being parents and we were just being children.

And that was the problem, we needed to stop being children and be adults.

My second daughter did what her dad said. She left Canton and moved to Galveston TX, 5 hours away, with her new husband. She said that even though we weren’t the meddling kind of parents, she would have continued to depend on us instead of her new husband. The distance caused them to forge a tighter bond faster.

So, do yourself a favor, put some distance between you and your parents so that you can become one.

A Christmas Novella Coming Soon

As you already know, I have been exploring the possibility of self-publishing. As I weighed the pros and cons and read many articles on the subject, I thought how it would be nice if I had a book to experiment with before I pulled the trigger on my novel, Out of the Shadows.

About three weeks ago I woke up with a story idea playing in my head. I thought, “What if I wrote a Christmas Novella and had it drop December 1 on Amazon.”

I liked the idea! If you don’t know, generally a novella is between 17,000 and 40,000 words. I did the math and knew if I averaged 2000 words per day, I could be done in 10 days.

Looking pleased with myself.

So, I sat down and began to write. 14,000 words in, the computer ate 10,000 words. I almost despaired. But, I wanted to meet that goal! So, I kept typing. Turns out, that was just an unexpected edit. I like this version better!

Now, I’m 26,000 words in and should be finished by Friday.

Yay, me!

Stay tuned, a cover reveal is on the way!

What I Wish I Had Known… Two things that would have saved me so much grief.

When I married my husband at the mature age of 19, I had no idea of what I was getting into. Who does? What I also didn’t know, at the time, was that the unrealistic expectations of perfection and “normal” that I carried were going to steal so much joy and make adjusting to married life so much harder.

Here are two things I wish I had known:

  1. I wish I had known that all of these big, hairy, problems I thought we had were just normal challenges that every young couple faces. It is so clear to me now (I am 48 as I write this) that it takes time to blend two different families of origins, two different communication styles, two different sets of needs, and two different approaches to life. Gracious, when you look at what must be done to become “one” its nothing short of a miracle that any marriage survives the first five years.
  2. I wish I had known that we had plenty of time to work things out- it didn’t have to be all done and fixed and perfect by day 27 after we said “I do”. You think I am joking. I kid you not. That is what I mean by unrealistic expectations. I hold myself and all around me to a ridiculous standard of excellence. If I have learned one thing in these 28 years, it is to let go of my timeline and standards and accept what people are capable of and to know that it will work out if I don’t give up. Not giving up and forcing my agenda are two very different things. I had to learn the difference.

So, there it is. If I had known/understood those two things, our first years of marriage would have been much smoother.

What do you wish you had known?