Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Peddling My Wares

I’ve always hated the hard sell. Of all the things I love about being a writer, marketing is the hardest part. Even though I think my books are wonderful, full of life-giving words, hope, laughter, and solid content, it’s still hard to sell my own stuff.

Two things have me thinking about this. One, I received an email from someone wanting to know the best ways to market their book. I felt like a fraud even answering, much less giving advice. 

Who am I? A little known author who valiantly studies, researches, and writes every day. Then I edit and rewrite, and rewrite. I love my work and can’t imagine doing anything else, but there’s not a lot of monetary reward. I write to craft a product that will glorify God and rightly represent His heart and Word, but selling is difficult. How can I advise when I feel like a poor example?

The other reason I’m thinking about sales is because there’s been an individual who’s been pushing me pretty hard to buy their products. They love them and think everyone else should too. I feel the same way about mine. 

But not everyone wants to buy my products—they don’t like them on Facebook, leave comments and reviews, or come to hear me speak. And it hurts my feelings a little. Especially when they even refuse freebies.

I’m not peddling quilts, tickets to a one-time sports’ event, or organic produce (which are all good things I like and support). All those are great, but they don’t last. After all, I’m selling LIFE! “How could anyone reject my babies?” I cry. Why would anyone not want to buy?

But I remind myself not everyone is a reader. They don’t all appreciate my writing style. Not everyone is interested in the message I offer—choosing to walk with Jesus every day with faith, courage, and commitment.

Then I think of our Father, God. He freely gave His Son so we could be released from the power of sin and death, to walk a new and glorious life with Him. Yet many people don’t buy into His offer of a lifetime. They say they’re not into religion. Don’t have time to invest. That it costs too much. They say they’re using other products right now that better suit their needs. And God grieves. “How could they reject my Son?”

Yet He continues to make Jesus available to all who will give Him a try. No gimmicks, no sales, no changing the product to attract today’s customer. Because the product is already perfect—always has been, always will be. But only a few will discover the eternal life Jesus offers.

In a sad way, that makes me feel a little better about my book sales. My product may not be perfect, but I give it my all every day—each book, every article, every post, contains a little of the un-matchable JOY our Father gives. For those who will buy, they lead to God’s greater gift of love like nothing they’ve ever experienced before. That’s customer satisfaction. And so, like my Father, I continue to peddle my wares, hoping to draw all who will come to Jesus Christ. 

“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

#Jesusforsale #lifeofawriter #marketingstrategies  #whowillbuy #Isaiah55:1 #sellingproducts

Friday, March 2, 2018

How to Keep a Husband

I’m excited about the interest in my latest post, “How to Keep a Wife.” The readership numbers keep going up. That delights me because it means people want better marriages. We can always improve at loving our mates. That is a noble cause indeed.

 I’ve had requests to do a similar post for women. So here are a few ideas.

Remember Sleeping Beauty? The prince catches sight of her; she is innocent and mysterious. They talk, they dance, and he’s smitten. He’s willing to give up everything to marry her. When he finds out she’s in trouble he rushes to her rescue. He defeats the dragon and saves her from the sleep of death with true love’s kiss. Then she wakes up and they get married.

Have you ever wondered what happened next? Does she lose her mystery? Does she stop singing, dancing and dreaming? Does she ever laugh, go barefoot or just have fun? She was beautiful when she was asleep. After the wedding, however, does she nag him for wearing his boots in the castle, talk endlessly about her feelings, and complain the palace isn’t cozy like the cottage where she grew up?

Although I’m not an expert (not being a man and all), here are a few things I’ve learned from my guy, men in general, marriage retreats, and reading the Bible and great marriage books. What men want most:

1    1. Honor and Respect
Women want to be loved; men want respect. They need it like women need love in order to be happy in a relationship. Not that they don’t want love too, but when asked whether they would rather have love without respect or respect without love, men overwhelmingly choose respect. They want to be the hero, the rescuer, the fix it guy—admired and adored.

2    2. Welcome
Men want a cheerful greeting, whether they’re coming in the door, calling, or texting. A woman’s tone and facial expression can either say, “Bug off, I’m busy” or “I’m glad to see you/hear from you.” Even in a serious discussion, it’s not so much what a woman says; it’s how she says it that makes a man feel either welcome or rejected. And how special it is when his wife tries to look nice just for him! If a man’s home is his castle, he should feel wanted there. 

3    3. Touch
This is where it can get, well, touchy. Most husbands want sex more often than their wives. Most women prefer being cuddled and held more. Therefore, communication is essential. Learning the best ways to touch each other, and the best timing, in order to satisfy both partners is the goal. A man wants his wife to desire his touch. If she recoils, or tells him what to do or not do at the wrong moment, it can kill his passion and cool his love for her. If it feels disrespectful to him, he will withdraw.

4. Praise
My dad called it “ooh and aah time.” This was our cue to go look at what he’d been working on and say good things about it. Everyone needs to hear encouraging words, but men especially crave this. Women gain their identity mostly from relationships; men gain their identity from what they do—work, hobbies, sports, and dreams to conquer the world. They love direct praise and a wife who talks him up to others.

5    5. Gratitude
What if the Prince kissed Sleeping Beauty and the first thing she said was, “Why did you wake me up? I was having a good dream!” The average man may not have to slay a dragon to win his wife, but he would like a little gratitude for what he does. Negative comparisons—to her Dad, her girlfriend’s husband, or men in romance novels or movies—can immobilize a man from action. He can’t ever seem to get it right.  But a grateful heart and thank you’s for small efforts will let him know he’s appreciated.

6    6. Learn the Language
Hints and subtle cues don’t work. A woman leaves a basket of clean laundry in her husband’s path, and expects him to put them away. The average guy will walk around or step over it, for days, without realizing it’s a message. She’s not speaking his language; she’s speaking woman. Most men are willing to help out, but they need to be asked. Instead of fuming about how he won’t lift a finger to help, women fare better with straightforward, pleasant requests. “Sweetheart, I washed and folded these clothes; would you please put them away?” To which he might reply, “Sure, Babe,” and head off with the basket.

7    7. Follow the Leader
Women complain their husbands won’t lead. A man will say his wife won’t follow. When he tries, she argues, or complains he’s doing it wrong. So he gives up. Or, if he feels inadequate to lead in an area she’s stronger or more experienced in, he will let her do it rather than fail. But a woman can build his confidence by praising his efforts (even when he’s not very good yet), respecting his position of leadership, and asking for his help and advice. He can’t fulfill his God-given role as head of the household without her support and cooperation.  

    8.  Pray
Men need praying wives. Prayer is the ultimate intimacy—where husbands and wives lay their souls bare, in trust. Prayer is not a weapon for a woman to use against her husband, but a weapon to fight with for him, against the spiritual forces that seek to pull him down. Men carry a heavy burden to provide, protect, and lead. Everything in our culture works against that. Manhood is belittled in our society, in the media, the workplace, and entertainment. A praying wife puts a hedge of protection around her man and frees him to be who God created him.

9    9.  Godly Girlfriends
Let’s face it, most men don’t need to talk about their feelings as much as women do. When women get together to share and encourage each other, they do their husbands a favor. For one, they use up some of their words so there’s not such an excess. Secondly, they provide each other with a healthy sounding board to gain perspective. Godly friendships energize women and relieve pressure on their husbands who don’t know what to do with so many words.

1    10.  Know God
Finally, the best thing a woman can do to keep a husband is have an intimate relationship with the ultimate Lover of her soul—Jesus Christ. He’s the only One who will never let her down, always understand how she feels, never tire of her words; who can rescue her from every danger. This takes a lot of stress off her husband, who wasn’t created to meet all these needs. A woman who seeks satisfaction in God can relax and enjoy her husband and be the companion she’s intended to be.

I hope these suggestions spark some discussion between you and your husband or fiancĂ©. Printing out both “How to Keep a Wife” and “How to Keep a Husband” might be fun for your next date night, or to discuss in small group.

#howtobeabetterwife #marriagetips #happyhusband #whatmenwant

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How to Keep a Wife

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, you men may be breathing a sigh of relief. No more romance for a while…at least not until your wife’s birthday or your anniversary, right? But until then, how do you plan on keeping your love alive? Is that all women want—flowers, candy, and endless romance?

Take Peter Pumpkin Eater for instance. I’ve always been a little confused about him. Could he not keep a wife because he couldn’t afford a house of his own? That would explain why he was thrilled to find a jumbo-sized pumpkin, big enough to set up housekeeping in. Or could he not keep a wife because he wasn’t a good husband? In an effort to prevent her escape, did he then lock her in an abnormally large pumpkin (which sounds damp, smelly, and cramped) and thereby “keep” his wife? 

No matter how you look at it, it doesn’t sound like an ideal romance, much less an admirable children’s rhyme. But it is thought-provoking. Just what is the best way to keep a wife (or husband)? 

These ten ideas are not a comprehensive list, but they are the yearnings I hear most often from women.

1    1. Pursue
Women want to be pursued, not just before marriage, but for a lifetime. Women want to feel like they’re interesting enough to motivate a man to action. It doesn’t have to be big—an occasional text or call to say hello, an invitation for a walk, regular date nights to laugh and talk without interruption.

2    2.  See
Women want to be seen—beyond their facial expression, curves and outer appearance to who they are inside. She’s a wondrous creation of body, soul, and spirit, with dreams and longings. She longs to be known, really known; by the one she loves the most.  

3    3.  Connect
Women want a meaningful connection with their husbands. But there are many variables—differing work schedules, hungry kids, evening activities, so you have to pick a time that works for both of you. Then turn off the TV, put down your phones and reconnect. 

4    4.  Cherish
To cherish means to adore, be devoted to, treasure, prize, and hold dear. Women long to feel cherished—more than the vintage car her husband’s restoring; more than the business opportunity he hopes to land; more than his next fishing or hunting trip; more than time in his man cave. 

5    5.  Protect
Women are smart, capable, strong, and resilient, but they still want the protection of a good man. They don’t need their husbands to solve everything, or fight all their battles. But a woman needs to sense her husband is on her side, watching out for her best interests; that he has her back.

6    6.  Provide
This is most often what men think proves their love (remember Peter Punkin Eater?), but a woman’s definition of provision might differ from a man’s. True, she needs a house, food, clothes, and basic necessities, but these things should give her comfort, not stress. If her husband is always working, or thinking about working, she won’t feel loved.  She will feel alone.

7    7.  Touch
A young mom, surrounded by clingy children needs a touch that replenishes, instead of demands or expects. Women of all ages constantly give to others. A long hug, holding her hand, a foot rub, stroking her hair, or rubbing her back, without the expectation of sex, tells a woman she is loved. And is more likely to elicit her touch in return. 

8    8.  Lead
The best kind of leader is not a dictator or tyrant, but one who truly cares about his “subjects.” He seeks wise counsel in order to make the best decisions for his “kingdom.” Wives want to give input and contribute, but they’re not created to bear the burden of leadership. Leadership is a privilege and a responsibility of manhood. A man who leads as Jesus did will bless his wife immensely.

9    9.  Pray
A woman whose husband prays with and for her feels a special kind of intimacy with him that goes deeper than sex, because it touches her spirit.  A self-serving man prays at his wife, attempting to manipulate and change her; a godly man seeks God’s best for her in intercessory prayer.

1    10.  Know God
The best way to “keep” a wife, by far, is for a man to know and love the One who created her.  How? By reading and studying the Bible, being an example of Christ-like love, and sharing a life of faith-filled JOY. 

These are the longings of a woman’s heart and some of the best ways I know to build a lifetime of love. No pumpkin required.

#whatwomenwant #howtoloveawoman #10waystoabettermarriage #lifetimelove #reallove

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Stories Part 2: It’s the Little Things

King Solomon said , it’s the little foxes that spoil the vines (as they romp through the vineyard in their quest for love, food, or adventure) in Song of Songs 2:15—a racy little book from the Bible you might want to read with your spouse. It’s also the little things that make for a great harvest—and a great love. That’s what we treasure most in our marriage.
In the nine years Kelly and I have been married, we keep finding more and more little ways to say I Love You. Foot rubs, running the other a bath after a hard day, silly texts, and learning to love (or at least show interest) in what the other is excited about. Words are especially important.
Before the tile was done on our kitchen counters, we wrote love notes and encouraging scriptures on the plywood. Even though they’re covered now, we know all the love we expressed to each other is still there.  
The other night on our way home from a movie, Kelly took a side street and circled back to the intersection. Then he suddenly leaped from the car and raced into the darkness. I didn’t know what was going on. I kept glancing behind the car to see if anyone was coming, and out in the direction he went. Was there an emergency; did I need to go help? Suddenly he reappeared and leaned over for a kiss as he got back in and handed me a daffodil. He had seen one blooming in a random patch of grass and knows how I love them.

This is what others said when I asked what their husband or wife does that makes them feel loved. I hope these make you smile and give you a few ideas of your own.
Hugs and kisses, and my morning text, to name a few.

I can't pick just a couple.
Kisses on the forehead, bare belly bumps, when he does laundry, dishes and makes dinner, when he tells me he loves me, brings me coffee in bed, when he calls to check on me. I claim the calling to see if I'm ok is annoying because being me isn't something fixable, but it makes my heart warm and reassures me that we are in this together.  I also love when he still laughs at me. Having a relationship like ours and going through it all and making it hasn’t been easy. Being able to see and hear him laugh is easily the best since we came so close to not being together. He also fixed the toilet paper holder.

She puts my work shoes on the boot heater to warm them up for me.

She scratches my back .

He does the dishes after I cook dinner and leaves coffee cards in my car to surprise me.

He sends me random love texts, encouragement and belief in my dreams, and gives me his undivided attention.

He rubs my feet, snuggles on the couch with me, and reads me Sherlock Holmes.

He makes me a fresh pot of coffee for the morning.

List is to dang long to write!

She makes my lunch in the morning.  

He takes me on date days, finds flowers on the sidewalk on the way to our bus, brings me my favorite coffee when I've had a hard day, gives me sweet notes with a single flower, draws love notes on the mirror, when he takes both kids on walks so I can take a special bath time or an extra nap.

Happy Valentines to you all! Whether you’re married, dating, or single, these are great ways to show someone else you care about them. All love comes from God—He created beauty, touch, humor, coffee beans, and surprise. He can show us how to be aware of other’s needs. So go to it!

#Valentines #lovenotes #itsthelittlethings #improveyourmarriage #howtoloveyourmate