Advice to the Lovelorn by Hannah Alexander

Advice to the Lovelorn Man

Here we go again! If you enjoy fiction, or reading advice columns, here’s a combination of both as I attempt to guide fictitious characters in their love lives. I believe there’s always a lot of truth in fiction, so I hope we can find some truth here today.

Dear Hannah,

I’m upset. Livid, in fact. I just discovered my best friend, Myra, has been dating a man who nearly ruined my life last year. And she should know better, she’s a psychiatrist! With lies and manipulation, Weston managed to convince Zack, my fiance, that I was having an affair behind his back, and instead of coming to me about it, Zack broke off the engagement. I was devastated, of course. Then when I was at my lowest, Weston convinced me to go to work for him. Little did I know that he had other things in mind. After I worked at his clinic for less than a year–constantly on guard to keep his hands off me–he fired me. The man’s a lecher. And Myra knew all this. So why does she seem to be falling in love with him? What should I do?

And another thing, Zack is back in the picture again. We’ve reconciled, but I’ve found I’m not quite as trusting as I once was. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful man with a caring heart, but if he was willing to listen to lies about me one time, what’s to stop him from doing the same thing again?

Joy

Dear Joy,

First of all, do you trust your best friend? I agree that what Weston did was heinous, but people do bad things for all kinds of reasons, and unless you can see through his eyes–or, in fact, Myra’s–you’re not in a position to make a sound judgment. If Myra already knows Weston’s tendencies and she’s been seeing him anyway, then perhaps as her friend you should stand beside her. Listen to her if she confides in you. Don’t let her decision to date Weston destroy your friendship.

As for your relationship with Zack, just the fact that you still don’t trust him shows me that the two of you need pre-marital counseling. If you can’t trust him with your whole heart, there’s a break between you already. How much more unstable will the foundation of your relationship become after marriage? Saying those vows won’t change what’s in your heart. Make sure you have a solid foundation for marriage before you stand before the minister and say “I do.”

Hannah

 

Advice to the Lovelorn Man by Hannah Alexander

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I’ve always wondered what it would be like to include an advice column in one of my novels. It isn’t something I’d ever consider doing in real life, because I don’t want the responsibility of messing up a living person’s life with the wrong advice–and I’m capable of doing just that. I’m a novelist, after all, not a psychiatrist. However, I have a fictional character in need, and I’m going to attempt to help him here. If you have words of advice for him, I’d welcome them, because he’s in dire straits emotionally right now in the novel I’m writing. Prepare to suspend disbelief…

 

Dear Hannah,

You’re my last hope. I’ve done practically everything wrong my whole life, and in doing so have doubled my family’s wealth while hurting those most dear to me. I would give away my billions for a do-over. I realize you’re not a priest-confessor, but you have the power to change my life. I’m sorry for trampling the hearts of my ex-wife and my daughter in order to rake in the money. I nearly ruined the life of the best doctor who ever worked for me by breaking her engagement with lies to get her for myself. After a recent brush with death I’ve taken a new look at myself, and I hate what I see. My ex-wife has found love again, my daughter is growing up with me in the periphery of her life. There is a woman I truly love, but she’s so much more honorable than I. How do I make up for all the harm I’ve done? How do I become worthy of this woman I love?

Weston

Dear Weston,

In the Bible, Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all his wealth to follow Him. You said you’d be willing to give away your billions for a do-over, but would you really? Can you possibly stop depending on wealth to define yourself? You’ve lived so long for the next high of cutting a deal, manipulating others to serve you. Can you live without that? Money is all you’ve known or understood. If you were to marry this worthy woman you love, would you truly love her, or would you go back to your old habits? I’m sorry, but you’ll need to prove yourself by doing what you said. Let me know what you decide.

Hannah

 

True Character

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One of the things I do when writing a new novel is look for people who would make good, interesting, heroic characters in my books. That’s one of the most fun things to do, and I take them from real life. Here’s an example:

We have an office manager in our clinic, Bonnie, who hates germs. When she drew up the plans for the construction of the clinic and oversaw the work, she didn’t realize she’d soon be working there. She hates goo, she has a very weak stomach. When the rest of the staff starts talking shop, Bonnie gags, loses her appetite, covers her ears and gets away. She’s also shy. She sits in the back row at church. She’ll sneak over to an elderly neighbor’s house and shovel snow when they’re not looking, and get away before anyone knows. How she ended up in her position is a long story, but it wasn’t where she started. She wouldn’t have chosen to work in a doctor’s office, but due to a job switch, and the fact that I knew what a good employee she was, I kind of dragged her into it.

One evening last week I got a call from Bonnie. Her voice was shaking, but she had to tell someone. That evening, I believe Bonnie showed the world–and to her, it felt like the whole world–what she was made of. She was driving the company car behind an elderly man who was riding his small motorcycle slowly with his groceries behind him. Cars raced past him, honking their horns, yelling at him and harassing him to the point he wrecked his bike, tumbling over right there in the middle of the road, scraping blacktop as his groceries went flying.

No one stopped except our shy, germophobe office manager. Bonnie got out and ran into the middle of the road to find out if he was okay, and helped him to the side of the road, despite his protests about his eighteen broken eggs. He had an oxygen mask, and his arm was bleeding. Instead of throwing up, which she expected would happen, she ran to the back of the car and pulled out the medical kit, wrapped his bleeding arm, comforted him by sitting beside him and rubbing his back so he’d stop shaking. (She also stopped him from lighting a cigarette when she saw gasoline leaking from his motorcycle). Then she talked to him while he calmed down. She discovered he was a war veteran. Shy Bonnie tried to flag someone else down to help them because she couldn’t get the motorcycle out of the middle of the road, but no one would stop and help. All her patient was worried about was his eighteen broken eggs, but she knew there could be a worse accident if she didn’t do something.

She finally called 911. In minutes, an ambulance, firetrucks, highway patrol (which had sped past them earlier without stopping) came screaming toward her and this injured old man. I’m sure it was quite a spectacle, and poor Bonnie was just sitting there in the middle of it all, the center of attention with no place to retreat. Then, of course, proving her devotion to us, she pulled out a card for our clinic, and wrote her phone number on it in case the patient needed anything.

When it was all over and the road was cleared and the professionals took over, Bonnie drove to the nearest parking lot and had a mini-panic attack. She was on her way home when she passed a police car sitting beside the road. The policeman flashed his lights at her. She thought it was because he thought she was speeding, but he didn’t pull out and stop her. I think he was giving her a salute for caring enough to help when no one else would stop for an old man on a motorcycle.

Funny, Bonnie has this weird idea that she’s unworthy of attention. She won’t listen when I disagree. But next time she tells me what a mess-up she is, I’ll remind her of this day, and someday soon, she’s going to see her likeness in one of my heroines. It takes more strength to do something that terrifies you and hold it together, than it does if that’s your everyday job, and you’re just plain good at it.

I’m proud of Bonnie. She’s earned herself a place in a novel one day.

 

Too Perfect by Hannah Alexander

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I’m here at ICRS enjoying old friends and meeting new ones. If you haven’t heard of ICRS, it’s an international Christian retailer’s convention. Today I slung on all the bling I could wear to garner attention, then took my place at a signing booth. I guess the bling worked. I had an honest to goodness line! That never happens when I’m at a book signing back home, but then, people come here from all over the world to get free books. Back at the bookstores at home people are expected to buy my books. Here, the stuff is given away. It’s a reader’s heaven.

The signing was fun, seeing all those people who wanted to read my novel, but a problem arose that I could do nothing about. They say horses sweat, men perspire and women glow. I’m apparently a racehorse. It was horribly humiliating to drip so badly in response to the humidity that followed me from home. The bling I was wearing attracted everyone walking into the convention center, but when they got close, there was no missing the droplets coursing down my face and dripping from my hair. My eyeglasses were even steaming. Ick. I guess looks didn’t matter to them. No one declined when my publicist told us to draw close for a photo shoot.

After the signing I remarked to my publicist how embarrassing it was to break into a drenching sweat in front of all those people. She said she once fell down three stair-steps of chairs in front of a huge audience. She posted online about it the next day. You know what? People like us to have flaws. Especially if we’re being honored publicly in some way, tripping over our own feet or smiling with spinach on our teeth or dripping sweat lets everyone know that, even though we might be selected for something special, we’re still human. It’s true. I feel more comfortable with people who are as imperfect as I am.

I have a good friend who has a PhD in theology. She takes classes online and learns new things every day. Last night she helped me develop a gorgeous cover for my next novel. But she’s not perfect. She doesn’t figure numbers in her head. I love that about her, because being around someone too perfect can make me feel a little too flawed. I know how flawed I am, but it isn’t fun to have it rubbed in. I like my friends with flaws. So maybe sometimes it’s our flaws who draw people to us. You think?

This armadillo in the picture might have a hard shell on top, but he has a furry, tender underbelly. We all have a weak spot somewhere. Sometimes it helps to show those weak places to others. Not always, but sometimes.

 

True Love Takes Time by Hannah Alexander

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See this beautiful stream? It’s peaceful to me, even romantic. The small trickle of water has made a course down the easiest path, gently moving stones and earth, reeds and brush.

Flood it with too much water all at once, however, and instead of a peaceful work of natural art, you would see destruction, such as the tree that’s fallen over the stream–it probably happened when that same stream overflowed its banks following a storm. Had it been more destructive, a large tree might have blocked the stream altogether, destroying its beauty.

I’ve seen too many relationships and hearts broken–not just in romantic love, but in friendship–because those in the relationship made judgments based on immediate gratification, when the rush of emotion overflowed natural boundaries and the individuals placed too much trust too quickly in an unknown entity.

How do I know this? From far too much experience.

Have you met anyone online lately? Has someone contacted you on Facebook or Twitter because of something you said that resonated with them? Did  you quickly develop a mutual admiration for one another? In just a few weeks, or even less, did you decide you would be forever friends because of those experiences shared? I have. I’ve also seen it happen to others.

I’ve then seen too many of those relationships blow apart like a dirty bomb, damaging those who thought they’d formed a lifelong friendship, or maybe even a lifelong love. Why? Because it’s human nature to present your very best face to someone you think you might like. We hide our ugliness with sweet smiles and kind words. It’s especially easy to keep up a good front online. How many minutes a day do you spend sharing yourself with someone else via internet? All they see are your written words, nothing else. They don’t smell your morning breath or watch you eat or sleep or hear you complain when you drive in traffic.

People think they know me when they read a blog or a novel I’ve written. They don’t realize I’ve edited myself to death, and then have been edited again and again by a professional with my novels. They don’t realize I’ve deleted my first, second, third drafts, and worked hard to make my words pleasing. Some readers even think they know me through the characters in my novels. They don’t see the research that goes into developing each one. Those characters aren’t me. Sure, they might have parts of me, but my readers have no way of knowing which parts.

How many times have you watched a television show or movie and loved the actor because of the part they played? You might follow up on that actor and read more about him online and be extremely disappointed. It’s all fiction. Often, when we communicate online, it’s also fiction. We only allow our readers to see who we want them to, not who we really are.

That goes for physical, face-to-face interactions, as well. I put my best face forward when I’m in public because that’s what I’ve been taught to do.

When Mel and I went out on our first real, fourteen-hour date, sure, we got to know one another a little better, but it took many months of experiencing different situations together, difficult times, conflict, deep discussions, and meeting the families, relating with others, each seeing the other relate to mutual friends, before we truly had a concept about what to expect in a relationship of our own. If Mel had told me on our first date, or second, or third, that he loved me and wanted to marry me, or if I’d done the same to him, it would have made for a difficult relationship. It might even have destroyed what has become a beautiful marriage, not because we aren’t suited to one another, but because we needed that time of learning about one another, of gently growing closer with that slow trickle, instead of rushing forward with a torrent of premature passion. The torrent would have left our relationship damaged, possibly beyond repair. There’s a good reason the Bible tells us to delay physical gratification until after marriage.

All I’m saying is do what I have my heroes and heroines do in my novels; take your time in a new relationship of any kind. Get to know a person, allow him or her time to prove loyalty and constancy before giving them your complete faith. Once you feel you really know this person, continue to give it time. Don’t move too quickly or trust immediately. Whether we intend to or not, or realize it or not, we each wear a mask of some kind. Beware of the masks around you, and get to know the real people behind them before placing your trust there. Am I repeating myself? Yeah. And I’m not editing that out, because it needs repeating.

You can always trust God, but never take anyone else at face value. Time is your friend.

 

 

Grabbing Your Attention by Hannah Alexander

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I’m in learning mode today–hence the extremely late post. I apologize. Typically I like to blog about romance or medicine, but today I’ve been totally consumed with learning how to promote our clinic locally. Though I do find it quite romantic to be working with my husband to build up the patient load of our clinic, it’s also stressful for both of us. Now that the flu season is nearly over, we aren’t getting so many sick patients, and as we’re struggling to keep our clinic afloat, I feel the weight of responsibility. Marketing is my job since I’m the one who markets Hannah Alexander novels.

I’ve discovered, however, that marketing my novels internationally is worlds different from attracting local attention. On the one hand, it’s easy to promote the skills of my husband–I believe he’s the best doctor around. He cares, he’s brilliant and he has over twenty years of experience. Since our patients know this, all I’m doing is asking them to spread the word, and I’m having a contest for a free blood panel to the person who brings in the most patients for us this summer. This test would cost hundreds of dollars if they were to be tested on their own, so I have hopes that this is the right way to promote something I believe in–my husband’s doctoring skills.

On the other hand, marketing my own writing is difficult. I can’t honestly tell you whether or not you will like a Hannah Alexander novel if you buy it and read it. Too many people have so many different tastes. Sure, enough judges have believed in my books in the past to hand out a few awards. Others have left kind reviews beside pictures and descriptions of my books, but those were books in the past. Being a doctor and relying on learned skills and intelligence is different from creating a whole new world and new characters and making them likable enough to continue to draw readers to my pen name time and time again. Still, I continue to love writing, and I have two books releasing back-to-back.

Visit my website http://www.HannahAlexander.com and feel free to read the first chapters of some of my novels. Perhaps this way you’ll be able to decide whether or not you’ll want to find my books at a local store or order a book online. Take a look at Hallowed Halls (I love the cover) and then if you prefer something with a murder mystery, check out Collateral Damage. Both are available, with first chapters ready to read whenever you wish.

Now…time to get back to marketing…no, wait, that’s what I’ve been doing. Maybe it’s time for a nap.

Upcoming Release by Hannah Alexander

Friends, I’m thrilled to announce an upcoming release of a new Hannah Alexander title, Hallowed Halls. It should be in stores and available on ebook in the month of May. The reason I’m so excited is that this is the first book actually published in a hybrid format by Hannah Alexander via the promotional help of Jerry B Jenkins Select. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. It’s still a book you’ll be able to read soon. I’ll have a picture of the cover for you before long, but since this is a new undertaking for all of us concerned, we’re taking it easy and making sure everything is done perfectly. Four of our colleagues are working with us on this venture as novelists: Angela Hunt, Brandilyn Collins, Bill Myers and Sammy Tippett, a worldwide evangelist I’m sure many of you know very well.

Please watch for our books on endcaps in your Christian stores, and on ebooks sometime in May. Once I know the books are available to you, I’ll figure out a way (remember me? The technoboob?) to get the cover on my next post for your enjoyment, and to give you a better idea of what Hallowed Halls–a women’s romantic fiction medically thrilling non-murder mystery with quirky, small-town characters and some adorable animals–is all about.

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Iodine: A Break From the Usual by Hannah Alexander

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This is a break in our regularly scheduled post on romance to make a special report on your health, my health, the health of a majority of people in the world, and I think I can get away with it because, not only do I write about romance, but I write about medicine. Please bear with me, because this is something that might very well affect you.

I recently read that in the last century, an erroneous report was given by some so-called scientists who stated that iodine was bad for our health. Because of this error, the iodine that was used as an agent in commercially baked bread was switched to bromide. Gradually our cars, our clothing, our households were mixed with bromide as a fire retardant. Did you know that in 1994 Canada banned bromide from the country? In 1990, England had already done so. But us? The FDA didn’t see a problem, so we are still being inundated with bromide, which is a poison to our systems. We’re eating it, living in it, sleeping in it, breathing it every day. Thanks, FDA.

I, however, have recently discovered what to do about that. For the past 17 years I’ve struggled mightily against various physical problems that mystified me. First I had food allergies, then I developed fibromyalgia, in which the pain and fatigue were so great I was unable to function without narcotic pain killers–something I hope to soon stop taking. You must surely know someone who is struggling with some kind of weird illness that has come out of nowhere, and has changed their lives. Maybe that person is you or a loved one.

My husband can tell you I’m always willing to be a human guinea pig for him, for our patients at the clinic, for my own healing. My friend, Colleen Coble, who is always researching new ways to treat her own symptoms and sharing them with others–what a wonderful friend–shared her new treatment plan to several of us. This plan is the addition of iodine to our diets–but it takes more than just iodine alone. You see, when bromide replaced iodine in our bread, and when bromide was used as a fire retardant, our bodies were purged of the necessary iodine we need. The bromide became so powerful in our bodies that the iodine was forced out. When this happened incidents of breast cancer increased, prostate cancer, in fact, many kinds of cancers increased, and we were left desperately seeking an answer. No one realized, in the 70s, that bromide flushed our much-needed iodine from our bodies and set us up for a myriad of thyroid related illnesses.

Every cell in our bodies needs iodine, and we weren’t getting it. Oh, sure, a tiny fraction of iodine was added to our salt, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Millions of people developed symptoms, particularly hypothyroidism, which meant our thyroids didn’t have enough iodine to keep them working properly, and our bodies began losing the ability to control weight. Notice our overweight people? Maybe you shouldn’t blame them. All this weight increase began after iodine was yanked from our bodies.

Since Colleen convinced me to start an iodine protocol–I desperately want OFF my narcotics–I had only been taking the supplement Iodoral for two days when I found my energy again. A week later, my pain–which was constant until then–just didn’t return one morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about it, I stopped taking the majority of my narcs all at once. Bad idea. I ended up with some good research about what a drug addict goes through in withdrawal.

Because the addition of iodine in the form of Iodoral (easier on the stomach than regular iodine) begins to force bromides from the system, our bodies begin a toxin dump, which will make us feel worse for a while. Of course, I was dealing not only with that, but with nasty withdrawal symptoms from stopping my narcotics so suddenly. I got so sick I couldn’t take my iodine or the supplements needed to go with it, and my fatigue eventually came back, my pain returned, and I had to restart the narcotics–a personal failure for me.

I asked Colleen what I was doing wrong, and she lovingly kicked my butt for trying to go cold turkey off my narcs. She also explained that sea salt water and extra water is vital to detox the system of bromide, heavy metals and other toxins, so that was what I needed to do first. I now take up to a couple of teaspoons of sea salt (must be sea salt, unrefined) in water throughout the day, followed by more fresh water. I take Iodoral in the morning (my dose is 12.5 mg, but others are much higher, depending on how much one needs to get healthy) along with 200 mcg of selenium, as much vitamin C as my body can handle without upsetting my digestion (2,000 to 4,000 mg) and others take zinc and B vitamins, vitamin A, etc. I take a vitamin/mineral supplemental powder from Life Extension to ensure I have the support I need without getting confused about the supplements. At first I couldn’t take that because I was so sick, but now I can. I have a lot of detoxing to go, but this is working.

If you do this, I highly advise going to yahoogroups and finding an iodine support group that will walk you through this. There aren’t any iodine educated docs in our area, but Mel, my husband, the hunk on the picture, is learning now. He’s traditionally trained as a Doctor of Osteopathy, worked as an ER doc for 22 years, and now runs our clinic here in town. He, too, is doing the iodine protocol, and is mentioning it to his patients, as well.

If you’re interested, look up Dr. David Brownstein online. He’s one of the docs helping pioneer the iodine march, and he has a lot to say.

Please take my words into consideration. Please think about it. Iodine is vital to our bodies, and we simply don’t get enough. It’s an epidemic all over the world. We could be much healthier than we are, and I, for one, am desperate to get off my narcotics and other supportive meds and get on with life. How about you?

The Death of a Romance by Hannah Alexander

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I’ve been blogging about love and romance lately because that’s what I write about in my day job, but this morning it occurred to me that  I have also written about the fallout of a dead romance–divorce. Tragically, love dies far too often, and those hit by it are left floundering in an effort to put their lives back together again. It seems each person I’ve talked to lately, believer or nonbeliever, has gone through the horrible experience. Since I’ve endured the pain of being rejected by a spouse and fought the long fight of divorce, maybe I can give comfort and a little direction to someone reading this who has experienced divorce, or knows someone going through it.

First of all, I hope this doesn’t offend anyone who has lost a mate to death, but the victim of a divorce has experienced not only the death of a marriage, but rejection from the one person in the world who was supposed to know and love them more than anyone else. It’s like a double death. It cuts a person to the core and takes a chunk out of their confidence. My comfort for anyone at this stage is to resist the devil and he will flee, because he is the one whispering to you that you’re unworthy. You’re no less a person now  than you were when your spouse married you. There are multiple reasons–hundreds to thousands of reasons–for someone to ask for a divorce, but my comfort has been that the person who divorced me was unable to work through his own personal difficulties, much less work through the difficulties of making a strong marriage. Maybe the two of you didn’t take time to get to know one another well before marriage. Whatever the reason, divorce is seldom about one person, but about two people being unable to make a relationship work.

If you’ve been rejected by a spouse, particularly when that spouse leaves you for someone else,  you’re left wondering what’s unacceptable about you. What’s lacking? What did you do? If only you could go back and do it over, find out what they really wanted, and do that thing, then this wouldn’t have happened. Recognize this? It’s one of the much-touted five stages of grief. You’re bargaining to get your spouse back. You will likely endure all five stages at different times for many months, even years. You might be in a hurry to find someone else and plunge back into marriage. Don’t! This could easily lead to yet another divorce, and believe me, the second one is even more devastating than the first. The time after a divorce should be an opportunity for you to heal, find someone who can counsel with you, discover what could have been done differently. Take a divorce recovery class, grow strong within yourself so that, if you remarry, you’re better prepared to make sure the next relationship works.

If you’ve been rejected by a spouse, you might be losing your home, you will likely be losing your way of life, and you might be cut off financially–spousal support and child support can end up being empty promises, and you are forced to find an attorney to help you fight for them. Most vital, if you have children, you might fear losing them, as well. I recall wanting to crawl into a hole at this stage and never come out again. If you’re enduring this stage, you’re either gaining weight because eating is a comfort, or you’re losing weight because you’ve lost your appetite. You might be developing stomach problems from the stress, and you might even lose your temper more and more often-yet another stage of grief. You must remember you are not alone. This is normal. Learn to love and accept yourself, and work on growing. Discover your own likes and dislikes. Learn to do activities by yourself until you’re comfortable with yourself.

One small piece of advise I learned when I was helping teach divorce recovery was to pull myself together when I met with my attorney, and go prepared for the appointment. The hardest thing for me to resist was crying, but time with an attorney is expensive, and I needed to be ready with answers to any question I was asked, not waste time weeping. The attorney is not your therapist or confessor, but a legal entity who is there to ensure that you will not find yourself penniless and childless after the ordeal is over. Weep after the meeting, not during.

If you need someone to talk you through this time one-on-one, then find someone who specializes in counseling those going through divorce. Watch yourself, however. You’ve been freshly wounded, and the most natural thing for you to do is attempt to reconnect with someone, anyone. I would suggest finding a therapist not of the opposite sex, and often your friends can walk with you through this. The One who can best help you through this, of course, is always with you, always loves you, always accepts you. Turn to Him, pour out your heart and ask for direction. God is always there for His children.

There are so many more aspects I haven’t covered about the death of a romance. I could write a whole book on the subject, but multiple books have already been written, and I advise you to look for them and read them. Some of the best are written by those who have experienced the loss of divorce, themselves.

Until later, I wish you well, and I wish you healing. It will come. Never forget it always comes.

 

The Language of Romance by Hannah Alexander

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This is a true incident, so some points were changed to protect identities.

I was talking with a friend lately about the language of love. He’s seeing someone who is kind, witty, and always telling him how much she enjoys his company, how attractive he is, how much fun he is. My friend–we’ll call him Walter–very much enjoys Muriel’s (I’m calling her Muriel ;-)  ) company. She’s generous with her time, cooks fabulous meals for him and wants him to meet her family.

He’s holding back. I asked why. You know we often talk about battered women in broken relationships, but men can be verbally abused–even physically abused–by their wives. It’s happened. Walter, a widower, is afraid to test the waters again. Who could blame him? But he doesn’t want to live the rest of his life alone, so he started dating again, but he’s hesitant to get too close because Muriel might turn out to be like his late wife. He doesn’t believe in divorce.

Walter is uncomfortable when Muriel says sweet things to him–“You’re a wonderful man…I love your eyes…you’re so much fun…I love you…” Yeah, scary to get that close, and because the tendency for verbally abusive people is to say sweet things to their victim, then undercut them with a slice of venom–“Of course, you’re a pathetic loser”–Walter keeps waiting for the follow-up he got for nearly thirty years.

“But you don’t get the follow-up, do you?” I asked.

“No. It’s never come, I just expect it to,” he said.

“And you like Muriel, right?”

“Oh, yes. She’s a wonderful woman, and I enjoy her company so much, but it makes me uncomfortable because she’s always saying such sweet things to me, and she’s getting too serious.”

“If she truly loves you,” I said, “she’ll wait until you’re ready. Don’t let her push you. On the other hand, it sounds to me as if words of affirmation, from the Five Love Languages, are her way of showing her affection. If that’s the case, then you can encourage her friendship by speaking words of affirmation to her, even while you’re asking her to move more slowly.”

“But wouldn’t that just lead her on?” he asked.

“Not if you’re honest with her about how you feel. You can tell her the truth about how you feel about her–which is friendship and affection. From the time Mel and I met until he told me he loved me, it was almost a year and a half. I had to wait to hear those words. If I can wait, so can Muriel, but we eventually did get married, and now I hear those words every day.”

“Okay, gotcha. Say nice things to her.”

“Not just nice things,” I said. “Tell her how you feel about her beauty, her cooking, anything complimentary that is true, but also tell her the truth, that you need to move more slowly.”

I’m a firm believer in trying to speak the language of love as often as possible to my husband. I also believe that words of affirmation are helpful for any relationship–as long as they’re honest, and not being used to manipulate. If I like a friend’s novel, I’ll tell her. If I like a hairstyle, blouse, someone’s laughter or smile, if the situation calls for it, I’ll speak up about it. Everyone can use more words of affirmation. I think in a relationship, even if the other person’s love language is something else. words of affirmation can give anyone a lift and a new view of themselves, fresh encouragement, and joy.

Try it on someone today. Tell them how much you appreciate them, how you love their honesty, their kindness, or whatever else you admire about them. Done appropriately, it can make their day better.

 

Love is a Journey by Hannah Alexander

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Yep, I’m still writing about romance, both in my novels and on the blogs.  Why? because what beats love? There is romance between God and mankind, and girlfriends (had me some good girlfriend time this weekend, and it gave me such strength again.) There is buddy love between men who just can’t always tell their women everything, there is love of friends who will keep you straight and tell you the truth no matter what because they love you and want what’s best for you. There is painful love, and there is love with tons of laughter.

This weekend Mel and I went on a special retreat with some people we love–our clinic staff. At our last get-together, one of our staff members brought a date and announced they’ve decided to get married. I screamed–which might be why I don’t have much of a voice lately. We all hugged and loved on them–you’ve got to see our staff to believe it. God has blessed us.

So anyway, this weekend was the weekend of truth, in which our precious staff member (who is a widow at 66) and her man were thoroughly vetted to make sure he’s right for her (he’s in his early 70s) and that she’s right for him.  Both have recently lost their spouses, and so we wanted to make sure they weren’t jumping into something too quickly. I’ve always thought that those who have had a good marriage before will be eager to jump right back into marriage once again. Well, these two fit. We carried Pepto Bismol in our purses because there were to kissing couples at our retreat–Mel and me, and our two new lovebirds.

The wedding is set. Their romance is right. Why do we know? Because we questioned them both thoroughly, we made sure they both were able to accept one another’s denomination, that they were taking this all to God, and that they were both givers. Mel rode down and back to the retreat with our groom in question, and is convinced. They are now fast friends. The man makes our staff member laugh. He makes all of us laugh, he is trustworthy, and he doesn’t get mad when we forget his name and  call him Fred…no, Lee..no, Allen…no… Ralph…Oh, whatever, it’s your roll of the dice!

When they first announced their marriage, they were planning to wait a year to please everyone else. Now it’s going to be in July. Set date, no more waiting. I think we might have had something to do with talking them into not waiting. Ah, romance when you’ve done it all before and know what it’s like, and know better what to look for the second time around. I so totally believe in romance in all stages of life. I do, of course, believe in chastity, but since I do believe in chastity before marriage, I also can tell you not to make the engagement too long. Just sayin’…

What to watch for in a good future spouse who has lost that spouse to death: did he treat his former wife with love and respect? Will he respect your chastity before marriage? Does he put you first? Is he giving and loving? Is he willing to talk about anything? Are you open to listening to him talk and continue to grieve his loss? Can he do the same? Is he open to spending time with your friends? I’m sure others have more ideas. If you have them, want to help us lovebirds out?

 

 

A True Hero By Hannah Alexander about Diann and Jim Hunt

 

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Let me tell you about a friend of mine. Her loving, stalwart and amazingly blessed husband is kissing her in this picture. Her name is Diann Hunt, and if you love to read romantic comedy, you’ve likely read her work. In fact, one of her wonderful novels is being made into a movie. Watch for it late next spring or early summer. For Better or For Worse. Look for her blog at http://www.diannhunt.com You’ll be powerfully touched by her honest, loving, often hilarious words.

Today, Tuesday, December 3, her funeral is being held in her hometown, where I know the place will be packed with those who have been touched by her kindness. I know we’re always saying good things about those who have left loved ones behind. I can truly say that I’ve seen Diann grow spiritually in a powerful way as she has fought the hideous evil of ovarian cancer for years, and believe me, she was a powerful force for Christ before this cancer hit, possibly because before this, she battled leukemia. Oh, yeah, Diann’s been hit hard in the last decade of her life. During that time, she has drawn so close to God that her written words have reached out and touched many hearts with great power, as if spoken by the Holy Spirit.

Now that I’ve introduced you, please get to know Diann for yourself. And please, this morning if you think about it, and in the coming days, would you spare a prayer for the family and friends who loved her? We’ve lost a true daughter of God. We know without a doubt she’s in a happier place, and I can almost hear her laughter from here. Please pray for those left behind. She is past the need for our prayers.

 

Romance–Warts and All by Hannah Alexander

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Remember your first date with a guy you really liked? If you were like me, you spent days trying to figure out how to shape your eyebrows properly, how to make your hair hang just right, how to match the right clothes, and even practiced how to hold a decent conversation. I even purchased books about keeping a conversation going, and kept one in my purse the first few times I went out with Mel, because I sensed he was extremely shy, and wanted to be able to draw him out, since I was also extremely shy.

After your first date you probably returned home plagued with doubts about what you might have said or done wrong. Would he ever ask you out again? Did he like you as much as you liked him? Did he see the wart on the back of your neck? Did your breath make him sick to his stomach? Should you call him and tell him what a great time you had?

I know the feeling. Not the sick to the stomach feeling, but the lump in the pit of the stomach that agonizes over whether or not you said the right thing at the right time to entice him to ask you out again. And of course, with Mel, I was head-over-heels after our first real, planned date–not counting the multitude of dates my church staff sprang on us for three months to get us jumpstarted. (I did mention we were shy, right?)

From the time my friends (including my beloved pastor and his wife) began pushing Mel and me together, I started reading books on dating. They didn’t work well for me since I just happened to be in my late thirties, not my teens. I already knew about purity and mutual respect because I’d dated men who didn’t believe in those things. What I didn’t know was how to decide if this man was right for me. After all, I’d chosen unwisely so many times before.

The morning Mel was scheduled to pick me up for our first date (we went to the zoo and saw the dinosaur exhibit, my choice, visited friends of Mel’s in the hospital, his choice, went to see Forrest Gump, our pastor’s choice, and went hiking, my choice. Plus we ate out twice. And I insisted on paying half) I settled in my mind that this time, for the first time in my life, I was going to show my underbelly. (NO, not literally!) I was going to insist on hearing his personal experience with Christ. I was also going to address the age difference. He seemed so much younger than I.

When he finally picked me up (his wart, he’s always late for everything, but that morning it was because he was nervous, forgot if he’d closed the garage door, had to drive twenty minutes back to his house to check, ran out of gas…and on and on) I was immediately impressed because he had a four-wheel-drive Pathfinder, the kind of ride my friends told me I needed since I tend to drive to far out into the wilderness to hike. I’m hard on cars. Pretty much the first thing I told him was, “I hope this doesn’t put a damper on things, but I think I’m a whole lot older than you.”

He looked at me in surprised. “Really? You’re forty-three? Wow, you sure don’t look it.” (We actually used this scene in our book, Sacred Trust, because I based my main male character on Mel.)

“NO! I just turned 38.” And so I discovered Mel’s second wart. He was cursed with the inability to read ages correctly. But at least he was much older than I thought. My age didn’t bother him, and though he was so much like a kid that he occasionally wore me out with his energy, his age didn’t bother me.

Later during our date, I told him that I’d made a vow to God that I would never again have a close relationship with a man unless he was a rabid Christian. When I explained what I meant by that, Mel said, “Isn’t that what every Christian is supposed to be?”

Hurdle cleared, I’ve spent many hours, days, months, years with Mel, and the more willing we are to show one another our underbellies–warts and all–the more our marriage deepens.

I have a friend who found her husband on e-bay. Hmmm…no, wait, I meant eharmony. Not a huge difference, because you’ll find as many liars on eharmony as you will on e-bay, and just as many scam artists. My friend beat the system, though. She not only showed warts and all, but she weeded out the bad seed by asking them to answer questions most men out for something besides a godly relationship wouldn’t take the time to deal with. The man who did take the time was the man who was serious about the same things she was. He’s a precious treasure, and their marriage has been truly blessed, because she took the time to skim the dross, no matter how many she scared away, and go for the gold.

If I were to walk a friend through the dating process right now, I’d tell her to do the same thing. Skim the dross, weed the crop, scare them off if you can. If they’re serious about a relationship blessed by God, she’ll dig deeply enough to find the real man God intends for her.

So…got that? First date, show the warts. Show the real you. Be outspoken about what you need and will and will not do, remain pure so sex doesn’t mess up the growth of a lifelong friendship. I guarantee this will take you a long way toward finding the right kind of man in your life.

 

Love Means Saying You’re Sorry by Hannah Alexander

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Once upon a time many, many, many years ago, I recall walking out of a movie theater sobbing with several other young girls after watching Love Story. Yes, I’m dating myself, but now that I’m older and occasionally wiser than that young, very young girl, I realize that those famous words spoken by that dying heroine on screen were so totally wrong.

If you’ve never seen the movie, I’m talking about the scene in which a young married couple have a fight. It’s a horrible fight, especially since the heroine is dying. When heartthrob Ryan O’Neal returns after their fight to tell Ali McGraw he’s sorry, she stops him with a lie: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Okay, it was mushy and gushy and cutesy then, but it was such a lie. I’ve known men who refused to apologize about wrongs they’ve committed. I know one man, in particular, who was known for never apologizing. And then one day, he called his first wife, whom he’d treated very poorly, and told her he’d finally, after all these years, accepted Christ as his savior. He proceeded to tell her he was sorry for every single thing he’d ever done to hurt her. She helped him out by listing many of those things, and one by one, he apologized for everything. After forty years, he finally learned what love meant–it meant humbling oneself and apologizing for wrongs done. For his sake, he could have done so much sooner, because he died two years later. It’s sad to consider all the years of joy he could have had, instead of anger and fighting and loss of love.

Romance, love, true love, means opening one’s heart to another person, to saying “sorry” when that word is needed, and to trying harder next time. Most folks say marriage is a lot of work. I’ve found that’s not true at all. When both parties in a marriage are willing to apologize and forgive and give to one another, those actions become easier and easier until marriage isn’t a hardship at all. It’s joy and companionship and fun. Mel and I have tried it–actually, we started out that way, thanks to Mel and his tender, giving heart. I’ve never been so blessed in my life until marriage to Mel.

Think about it–what if you and all your loved ones could forgive old hurts and apologize and give love with an open hand? What if you started the process, and others followed your lead? That’s what Mel did for me, and it worked. I’m not saying it will always happen, because I’ve been in “friendships” where I gave and gave and never received anything in return. I ended those relationships. With Mel, the more I give, the more he gives back. I say give it a try. Real romance is made of giving love in both directions.

 

Romance–Young Love by Hannah Alexander

 

 

My first Christmas with my first step-grandson

Christmas with my first step-grandson

As I gaze at this first Christmas photo with this special little boy, I can’t help wondering what his life will be like. He’s quite a little charmer, and I imagine him to be breaking hearts before he even begins to notice girls. I know that neither his father nor his uncle ever spoke about crushes on girls when they were little, but little boys don’t often tell adults about things like that. Their sister did.

I think I was born with a romantic streak. Mom took pictures of me with our next-door-neighbor, Mike, when I was three. He was my first boyfriend. That was the age of innocence when romance was sharing a slide or swinging side-by-side. What would life be like if romance was always like that? When being friends and enjoying one-another’s company was all it was about? Mel and I have begun to seek out times when we can be together and cuddle, shutting out the pressures of the world for a few hours. How precious that time is for us, just being together. Those embers glow a little more brightly when we’re together, holding hands, rubbing tight shoulders, just being there for one another. Romance at its finest.

When I was a little girl of five, I also remember Johnny, who was my boyfriend in kindergarten. He was my protector; when the class bully socked me in the stomach so hard it took my breath away, Johnny told the teacher, and she took care of everything. I remember giving Johnny a chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but he couldn’t take it because his mother wouldn’t let him have sweets. Smart mom. He had red hair and freckles and was sweet and kind.

I earned a reputation as the Mad Kisser in fourth grade. There was this little boy named Willy in my class. I really, really liked him. I wasn’t a stalker, honestly, but one day I don’t know what came over me. He was working on his lessons at his desk in class, and I walked past him, leaned over him, asking how he was doing, patted his cheek, and to my horror and his, I kissed him right smack on the other cheek! The class roared with laughter–including the teacher. Willy turned as red as my step-grandson’s shirt in this picture, and he avoided me in the future. I learned early to live with public humiliation.

Billy was another boy in our fourth grade class. He was desperately in love with me, and he had Down’s Syndrome. In those days we were all placed in the same class, not separated into special needs classes. I learned early to be comfortable with children with special needs, and we had a special teacher who taught us how to accept and love one another for our differences. Well, I learned I couldn’t be too friendly with Billy, or he would cover me with wet kisses, follow me into the girls bathroom, grab me from behind at lunch and never leave me alone. My cousin attended class with me that year, and he spent the year running interference between Billy and me. Young love gone awry. I’m sure Willy thought the same about me. So even a childhood romance can be fraught with disappointments, but what a way to learn!

It seems to me that children are developing at a much younger age than when I was young, and I’m sorry for that. I had a childhood. I had time to experience carefree days and innocent romantic–if sometimes mortifying exchanges–without the complications that raging hormones drag into the picture. Oh, sure, hormone driven romance can be fun, too, but I’ll dwell on those memories another time. Today I’m focusing on childlike romance. Did you have one of those sweet romances as a child? Or maybe a mortifying adventure like mine? Don’t share if you don’t want to, but I would suggest you recall the distant past and enjoy some of those times once again. Ah, the memories…

 

 

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