Guard the Fortress


There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and storms have broken out all at once. Not to mention sudden, crazy weather patterns of intense heat followed by September snow.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

Jesus told us that all this would happen.

“Jesus answered, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24:4-8

As the world becomes more desperate, I pray we will turn to Jesus. While the enemy attempts to destroy us and our belief in a good God who loves us, Jesus longs for us to run to him in our pain, fear, hopelessness. He will comfort and strengthen us and give us peace.

His word also gives instruction to help us in this time of crisis.

Recently, I read some encouraging instruction in the book of Nahum. In the second chapter, and the first two verses, this prophet warns the people to be alert when their enemy is advancing on them. While those words were meant for that time in a practical war sense, all of God’s word is relevant to us in some way even today. This is what I took from the passage that I believe can be helpful today.

  1. “Guard the fortress.” As believers in Jesus, our bodies are God’s “temple” where the Holy Spirit resides. I believe that God would have us guard our bodies and hearts against unhealthy living and the lies of the enemy. Fear is a spirit that is stirring up the world. Let’s guard ourselves against it, rather than letting it penetrate our bodies and minds.
  2. “Watch the road.” Our mind is what lets in thoughts and images like a road into our fortress. If we’re not careful about what we expose ourselves to, we may find that what we let in is infiltrating us in a destructive, poisonous way.
  3. “Brace yourself.” God’s word is the most powerful weapon we have. It is the “sword of the spirit” which is truth. The Bible is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” (Heb. 4:12) When we declare it, pray it, and speak it, we are bracing ourselves for battle.
  4. “Marshall all your strength.” Our only true strength comes from the Lord. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” In order to gain that strength, I must be in God’s presence. Worship, talking to him, and asking for his wisdom in every area will make me strong. It’s Jesus who strengthens us. (Phil. 4:13)

Battles aren’t without injuries or destruction, but the Lord will restore to us anything that is lost in battle. He makes us beautiful and splendid no matter what might be destroyed. Even in this era of the world going crazy, let us look to the Lord, God Almighty who is our only true refuge in times of trouble.

Praying for you as you consider where your help comes from. My help comes from the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-3)

Get Both Free!


If you’ve been waiting to read the rest of our story, you can get the e-book now. For 5 days, November 28 – December 2, it will be FREE on Amazon before it goes up to the regular price.

If you’re waiting for the paperback version, pray. It’s been a 3 day nightmare of formatting issues I’ve never experienced before. But, God will prevail and I’ll keep you posted for the print version too.

Not only can you get the NEW RELEASE free, but I’ve made The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater FREE through this Thursday so you can refresh your memory or read the beginning of our story for the first time.

If you read our story years ago and need a refresher of hope or if you’ve never experienced what trusting God for next steps is like, you can read our incredible story here. FREE this week only. November 27 – December 1

We pray you had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of beautiful memories. May these next weeks leading up to Christmas draw you into the hope, peace, and joy of Jesus as we anticipate celebrating his birth.

Grateful


In spite of the messiness of the world right now between election issues, shootings, floods, hurricanes, etc., nothing changes my love for Jesus and the fact that every day God provides multiple areas of thankfulness. If I were to list them all, I could write volumes of books. I’m sure everyone could. Here are a few of mine…

  • Jesus, my Lord and Savior is always at the top
  • My husband
  • My children and grandchildren
  • My family – mom, dad and my brother’s family
  • My dear friends
  • My pastors and church family
  • Music
  • Nature – ocean, flowers, animals, blue skies, and thunder storms
  • Books
  • Teaching
  • My current state’s leaders
  • Little things every day that remind me God is always with me

I’m also thankful that Beyond the Miracle is finished and ready for readers. The ebook will be out next week, but if anyone is interested in an advance reader copy, I’ll gladly set you up for this Thanksgiving weekend. Let me know in the comments below or send me your email address to laura@laurabennet.com

I’d ask that you be willing to grab a free ebook copy when it releases on Amazon and write a review – even a few words. If you don’t do Amazon, you can review it on Goodreads.

I’m thankful I get to write.

Thirteen years after the miracle meeting, courtship, and fairytale wedding of the author and her husband, Laura Bennet shares the raw and real story of the unforeseen and sometimes devastating trials they experienced, and how God used those challenges to heal and grow each of them and their marriage. Heartfelt encouragement and caution for couples ready to tie the knot or for those who have come undone and wonder if there is hope. The miracles don’t end when you say “I do,” but they may not look like what you expected.

I pray you have a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving and reflect this week on some of the little things you might forget about during each day. I pray for God’s peace to cover you, and his love through Jesus to fill you. Nothing earned, simply received.

Will it Matter?


Do you believe in heaven? An eternity in a glorious place with God our Father and Jesus, our redeemer and friend? Eternal beauty, love, kindness, and all things good?

Or do you believe that when we die, we disintegrate into nothingness? Life over means nothing more than done—game over? Two years, a hundred years, or any space of time in between equals zero for eternity?

Either way, what happens to every situation we’ve lived through? What about every bad thing done to us? Every mean word spoken? Will we take with us into eternity or oblivion all the awful, hurtful, damaging actions and works we experienced over the years?

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I accept what the Bible says about Jesus coming back to take us home to heaven for eternity. I look forward to the day I will stand in the glorious presence of my God. No more pain. He will wipe away all our tears. (Revelation 21:4) I also believe that hell is a real situation where anyone who chose to dismiss or curse Jesus will get to live out their desire to not be bothered with or subjected to anything of God. Eternal separation from him.

I also believe that according to the Bible, each of us will give an account to God for every word and act. I’m grateful that Jesus died for me because I could never do everything right enough to stand in the presence of Almighty God.

But regardless of what you believe, will it matter?

If your life ends in nothingness, will you care about the mean things spoken to you by a classmate, neighbor, or parent? Will you remain in pain from the abuse or evil inflicted on you?

If you, like me, believe in heaven as a follower of Jesus, do you really think your concerns over anything bad in your life will be your focus? Or will you be in awe of and enthralled by our Savior?

Every day, we hear or read stories of terrible things done to people. Or we experience something cruel done to us. In the moment, it’s reasonable to feel hurt or anger, and we need to grieve and process those situations.

But in the end, will they matter?

If we can admit that they won’t, then how long would we hold a grudge? Why would we retaliate? How might we act differently than what we’ve chosen up until now?

Eternal separation from God means an existence of torment. God gives us that choice. Perhaps, in that case, we will be tortured every moment by every harsh word spoken to us, or that we’ve spoken. Each hurtful thing done might replay over and over in front of us. Maybe every bad thing we’ve participated in will be a daily anguish to relive. I guess it might matter then…

The way I see it, letting it go, forgiving it all makes sense no matter what you believe about the future.

And that will certainly change our present.

Rebuilding Trust in Marriage


Honeymoon 2009 – the younger version of us!

Let’s be honest. Marriage is hard work.

We all love the “fall in love” romance, but at some point after the honeymoon (or maybe during it), we’re faced with the reality of making this thing called marriage work beyond the wedding.

For most relationships, past messes, sin, and broken places in our hearts get triggered by our spouse causing misunderstandings. Without proper help, those can lead to situations that make the marriage seem doomed. Maybe we end up in a season of not being able to communicate without hurting each other more deeply. Or perhaps one spouse, or both, have sought other situations or relationships that have broken the trust of their spouse.

No matter what your current situation or how devastated you feel, there is hope for rebuilding.

God is always about reconciliation, redemption, and restoration of relationship. He created that for us through Jesus and will make a way for us in every relationship we have.

When my husband and I separated due to multiple circumstances that led to us inflicting constant pain on each other, God helped us find our way into coming back together in a healthier, stronger way.

Here are some steps that helped us navigate the restoration and supporting verses:

  • Decide on a brand-new start. Start at zero to rebuild trust. Recognize, confess, and address the problems that got you to this place. Nothing hidden, covered over, or minimized. It’s okay if you still need to work through some issues, but be honest about what they are—whether they are seemingly small (little “white” lies) or something significant like addictions or affairs. (Gal.1:1-10 & 6:15; Eph.5:11)
  • Begin rebuilding by renewing your friendship. What is the foundation of your relationship? Sex can’t sustain a relationship. Both of you being committed to Jesus first and then each other will lead to a solid foundation. Look at this time apart as a courtship. (2 Cor.6:14-18; Eph.5:25-27; I Thes.4:3-8)
  • Speak the truth plainly and in love. No distortion or manipulation of words—not your own, each other’s, or God’s. Recognize that the enemy is the accuser and deceiver and choose to take no part in any form of exaggeration, misrepresentation, or deception. (Gal.2:3-5; 2 Cor.4:2; John 5:39-47; Eph. 4:15; Col. 3:9)
  • Each of us are responsible for our own relationship with Christ. That relationship has to be the first priority. Neither one can judge or control the other one in this either. This isn’t a place to try and impress each other with what you aren’t really doing, or decide you know what the other one should be doing. Share only about your journey, and what will bless your spouse. (Gal.1:15-24 & 2:6-10; 2 Cor.5:9-10; 1 John 1:4 & 3:9-10; James 5:16)
  • Confession and forgiveness. We have to own our own mess and be willing to confess it as well as repent of it. Change within us and in our relationships only occurs when we can honestly see the bad and have a sincere desire to turn around and go a different way. We should be quick to apologize to our spouse when we are in the wrong and not wait for them to have to point something out. Not to say that when they or someone else we trust sees something hurting us or others and gently points it out, we shouldn’t be open to receiving their insight. If we are confronted with something, accept it and pray about it. If there is a question about whether our spouse’s perspective is accurate, ask a couple of trusted, objective parties like a pastor or friend to confirm or help us see if there is truth to their perception. When our spouse is the one admitting faults, we should extend forgiveness freely. Jesus has forgiven all of us so we must learn to forgive ourselves and others just as he has done for us. (Col.3:13-14; 2 Cor.10-11; Gal.4:15-16; I John 4:6; Jude 10))
  • Be sincere. When we do something positive with or for our spouse, it has to be from the heart and not simply a way to gain their approval, affection, or reciprocated behavior. (Gal.3:1-4; 4:18 & 5:1-3; Col. 3:17; I Tim.1:5)
  • Use kind, quiet, gentle words. Be respectful of each other, family members, and others. If either of you feel your heart rate increase in frustration, take deep breaths and ask for a few minutes (or as long as it takes) to calm down. Make sure you specify when you think you can continue so as not to leave your spouse hanging and feeling abandoned. You might say something like, “I think I need some time to calm down and sort out my thoughts and feelings. Can you give me fifteen minutes?” Or “Can we try again after dinner?” (Eph.5:19-20; Phil.2:14; I Peter 3:7)
  • Be accountable to someone you both trust outside your marriage so that you each know that another person is on the journey with you and with your spouse. (Col.1:28 & James 5:16)
  • Be partners in action by discussing finances, parenting, household, etc. (Phil.2:2-4)

It might help to repeat the declarations below regarding the process. Good boundaries help both spouses know what to expect for themselves and from the other.

“I am willing to pursue a friendship and see where it goes. I am willing to spend ______ time with you each day/week. I am willing to get outside help from our pastor or a counselor. I am willing to encourage you, pray for you, and seek God’s direction for our relationship. I will obey whatever God directs or instructs. I am willing to implement these actions and read the accompanying verses.”

You can add or take out whatever works for you and your spouse. Make it your own personal declaration based on the areas you need to outline.

Regardless of whether or not you’ve separated, you can use these tips to grow and strengthen your marriage every day. Soon, you’ll be reveling in the romance once again.

That was then, this is now. 2022

Coming Soon…

Beyond the Miracle: When the Fairy Tale Collides with Reality

Thirteen years after the miracle meeting, courtship, and fairy tale wedding of the author and her husband, Laura Bennet shares the raw story of the unforeseen and sometimes devastating trials they experienced and how God used those challenges to heal and grow each of them and their marriage. Heartfelt encouragement and caution for couples ready to tie the knot or for those who have come undone and wonder if there is hope. The miracles don’t end when you say “I do,” but they may not look like what you expected.

Why Faith?


Fort Myers Beach at Sunset 2018

These are days of walking by faith.

If ever there was a time in which we must cling in faith to the unseen God—YH WH, Yeshua—by the power of his Holy Spirit in us, it is now.

But why?

Unless someone has absolutely no contact with the world, the events all around us from natural disasters to various forms of political unrest, are obvious. We have entered a time when no one is immune in some way or another to many forms of destruction of property, finances, beliefs, families, etc.

And while there is nothing new under the sun, according to King Solomon’s words in the Bible, the challenges experienced by millions over thousands of years have escalated and compounded in recent years.

So what holds people together? What is it that makes us persevere in the face of multiplying hardships?

Faith.

Every night most of us go to bed without questioning whether we’ll wake up the next morning. We sit down on our favorite chair not imagining its collapse. For many, turning on the shower or lights doesn’t make us hesitate and wonder if they will go on. Every day we exhibit some form of faith.

But if we engage in all those daily activities without giving a thought to having faith, what do we do when faith actually makes a real difference in how we think, live, and treat others?

According to Hebrews chapter eleven, it’s by faith that we understand this world was created and is sustained by God. A loving God who made each of us so intricately that science is still just figuring out how it all works.

People all through the ages have sought God and listened to him instruct them in his ways, many of which seem crazy.

By faith, Noah built a massive boat to save his family from rains that had not yet been experienced. Abraham and Sarah had a child at the age when most people have already passed away. Moses raised a stick to split a sea to save his people. Rahab believed in a God she had never known and saved her family when Jericho’s mighty walls crumbled. David, as a young shepherd boy, slew a giant with a sling shot and stone, and became a king.

That’s only a few of the countless stories passed down through the years.

Some might say “tall tales.” But I’ve seen God do enough crazy and miraculous things in my life and in the lives of others to know the truth of what God will do when we have faith.

That same chapter says that people have conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained promises, shut the mouths of lions, stood in the midst of flaming furnaces, and escaped death. They routed armies, fought various battles, saw their sick healed, and some even experienced loved ones raised back to life from the dead.

In every case, their weakness or fear was turned to strength and courage because of faith.

We can certainly use some of that today, don’t you think?

Imagine if each of us had faith enough to believe that giving a bottle of water or a hug to someone might change their life. What if we gave a few extra dollars to help buy someone’s groceries or a meal? Maybe faith looks like traveling to a disaster area to help pull people from fire, flood, or rubble. (We’re seeing that happen here in Florida right now.)

Faith might be worshiping God in public to offer hope, praying for a neighbor, or running for an elected office. Even simple social media posts created in faith encourage thousands, or millions.

It’s true that some have been and are currently being tortured and killed because of their faith. Persecution is real and not only happening in Ukraine, Armenia, or China. Those who choose faith in Jesus are empowered by God so that even if their body is harmed, they will live forever.

God tells us that those who put their trust in him will never be disappointed. He will never leave us and is always faithful to us whether we are faithful to him or not.

There will come a day when we will each be in the presence of Almighty God. He knows whether we believe what his written word, and his living word, Jesus, says to us. We’ve either responded to his love for us by putting our faith in him, or we’ve turned our back in disbelief.

If now is the time for faith, that day will be the one that matters most.

What have you put your faith in?

I choose Jesus.

Does Crisis Create Community?


Early during Ian

8:00 a.m. Thursday, September 29. The morning after Hurricane Ian ravaged the west coast of Florida where I live. I make my way through the dark interior of our small townhouse with the dim light of my phone that thankfully still has thirty percent charge left after a long day and night of texting with far off friends and family.

I pick up the damp kitchen towel resting on top of the rolled-up rug at the base of our front door. The empty silence is punctuated with intermittent gusts of rushing wind. Pulling back the rug, I push open our door against another brief squall and the pile of leaves plastered against the bottom. Sunlight and a blast of cool breeze streams into our home, refreshing after the humid, stale air and darkness of our interior. With no power, there is no air conditioner to keep homes temperate in the heat and humidity of our tropical environment.

Standing in the doorway, I survey the damage to my surroundings.

Leaves, palm fronds, and chunks of foot long bark from palm trees litter the ground and neighborhood cars. Trees are stripped of leaves on one side, still full on the other, evidence of the direction the wind blew with force. I’ve heard anywhere from 70 to 155 mile per hour winds. The towering palms stand like toothpicks waving limp lettuce pieces from one side. A tree across the street is missing a limb and another dangles a branch lodged in place over a neighbor’s car. Surprisingly, very little water remains in the street where only hours ago, the raging winds danced over the flooded areas creating miniature replicas of the stormy gulf.

Most of what I see is better than I expected. After surviving Irma five years ago this month, and hearing the predictions in the past twenty-four hours, I thought we might fare worse. Later in the day, I would learn that some friends did far worse. Their home was destroyed and flooded with waist deep water, and their cars swept away by storm surge. Unbelievably heartbreaking, especially by comparison.

After taking in the scene around me, I noticed something I hadn’t expected. Down the street, an older man shoveling debris into a pile. A young couple walking a baby in their stroller. Two women chatting, another walking her dog.

My next-door neighbor popped out. “Good morning. How are you doing?” she asked. We exchanged descriptions of how we spent the very long night and what little news we heard of the damage. She informed me that part of the Sanibel bridge collapsed. We compared notes. No power. Check. Still have water for now. Check. She had no cell service, but I did. Another passing neighbor, overhearing our conversation, asked my provider and if she could use my phone to let her parents know that she was okay. “Of course!” Isn’t that what neighbors do?

We returned to our cleaning up. More people ventured outside to walk through the neighborhood or sweep up debris. Brendan and another man rinsed off our cars, checking for signs of damage. I left the door open to allow the breeze to cool the house. Some folks began taking down the metal shutters covering most of our windows. One neighbor who had given us some missing hardware rushed over to hand me some bills folded up, insisting that she wouldn’t take the payment we’d given her the previous day. “When I have enough for me, I will gladly share the surplus.”

Later in the day, after many conversations, we heard from our other next-door neighbor that her sister, a nurse, was trapped in the flooded hospital near Fort Myers Beach. She had returned from caring for her elderly parents in Port Charlotte whose boat ended up in their neighbor’s yard. As she began setting up a generator and barbeque, she offered to let us plug into her power source to keep our refrigerator running.

As Brendan and I sat down together to eat a few hours later, I could still hear bits of conversations floating through our open front door. That was when it struck me.

This is how we get through a crisis.

Community. Sharing stories, helping each other, and comparing notes is processing the trauma. Each person deals with it in their own way: walking, riding, talking, cleaning, or giving.

It’s how God made us.

God always has been in community. “Let us make man in our image.” One God, a triune connection creating others like them to multiply.

His instructions for us are based on community. Unity with him. Abide, remain, nothing apart from him. Love one another. Don’t steal or murder or covet another person’s spouse. He puts the orphan in family and admonishes us to take care of widows. Bear one another’s burdens. Pray for each other. Lay hands on each other and greet with a holy kiss.

Community.

We were never meant to live life alone.

I think this is why people rally together when crisis hits. 9-1-1 brought the city together. School shootings draw support from all over. It’s why Go Fund Me works, and people have rushed here and to other disaster affected areas to offer help to strangers.

It’s also why I love our church. After Hurricane Irma, we donned bright orange t-shirts and set out to help our devastated communities. Unexpectedly, we became known as “The Orange Army.” In the past five years, we’ve made it a point to welcome everyone into our church, but we also intentionally go outside the building to serve our city on a monthly and in some cases weekly basis.

“Church” in the days after Jesus was crucified and rose again was about being together. Joining resources, sharing stories of being with Jesus, and helping those in need. It never was intended as a place of judgment, religious isolation, and exclusivity.

It seems that God reminds us of this with every crisis.

Maybe crisis doesn’t create community. Maybe we are simply drawn back into community as a result of crisis. God is all about unity and coming together. Come-unity.

If anyone is interested in helping with relief efforts, I can guarantee that any supplies or funds sent through our church will go direct to families in need. You can give or find out more here: https://nextlevelchurch.com/ian/

Don’t Be Surprised


Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

Every day I see a new headline or post that makes me shake my head even though I know that I shouldn’t be surprised. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus told his followers not to be alarmed when famine, wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and disease would start taking place all at once in multiple areas. He said that people would hate and betray each other and many believers would be deceived.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul gives a list of how many would act. He said that people would:

  • Not acknowledge God
  • Claim to be wise
  • Idolize people and lifestyles
  • Degrade their bodies with one another
  • Lust for the same sex
  • Commit indecent acts
  • Have depraved minds
  • Be full of evil, greed, murder, and deceit
  • Gossip about and slander each other
  • Be God haters
  • Be arrogant, insolent, and boastful
  • Be senseless, heartless, and ruthless
  • Know the truth, but deny it
  • Encourage others to do the same

Sounds a lot like television, movies, social media, politics, and the news, doesn’t it?

He also reminds us that one has only to look and acknowledge creation around us to know there is a God who made everything including us, so we have no excuse.

Everyone has free will. God loves us, but he won’t force anyone to love him back. If the act of giving up himself, his son, Jesus, to die on the cross and take all our sinfulness on him isn’t enough to show his love for us, what would it take for people to respond with gratitude, praise, and love in return?

But I understand that the majority of people won’t.

It makes me sad to see the heartbreaking mess the world is in, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus warned us. So did Paul, who was once someone who murdered those who followed Jesus. No one is beyond God’s grace. He doesn’t want anyone to be separated from him. But if that is someone’s choice, God loves them enough to allow their choice and let them go their own way.

Maybe things aren’t too different than they were then. Maybe they’ve simply escalated to where they are now. Perhaps, it’s just that now we have the technology to see everything all over the world as it happens so we are aware. But we’ve been warned.

And we have a God who loves us and will see us through to the moment when Jesus returns to draw those of us who love him to his side. In the midst of all the evil, heartache, and chaos, Jesus is our hope and peace.

I may be surprised when I see the things that are happening in the world because I can’t understand why people would choose those things instead of an abundance of peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (The fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives when we receive Jesus.)

But I’m not surprised. He told us not to be alarmed. I believe Him. I’m resting there in the midst of the storm until I see him face-to face.

Bitter Betrayal


We are approaching World Day Against Human Trafficking at the end of this week. July 30th marks a day when all over the world, more people will be made aware of this atrocity. This post titled Betrayal that I read recently on Red Tent Living, took this to new depths for me. I know that evil in the world is increasing and being uncovered. We as Christians are not perfect, but being perfected by the power of the Holy Spirit. But it seems that we are seeing a wider chasm between those who truly follow Christ and intentionally live that out daily and those who claim the title, but revel in the world’s spiraling downfall of sin.

Is there a more brutal betrayal?

On a residential street lined with leafless trees, I had just reached my car, feeling relaxed from a massage, when my phone rang. My husband was coming home. He worked so much my heart leapt. Maybe we’d get take-out and watch a movie as we snuggled up. Yanked from my reverie, I heard, “I’ve been accused of sexual harassment.” Suddenly, the overtime, the snazzy outfits, and the STD he’d explained away took on new meaning. I collected my wits. This wasn’t a phone conversation.

In a panic, I called my counselor and left a message. I can never repay her for calling me back that night and grounding me as the earth quaked beneath me. I’m not sure how I drove home safely.

In the privacy of our home, I learned that the harassment my husband was dismissed for was only the tip of the iceberg. There are no words for the pain of discovering that my beloved—the one man I had begun to trust, who knew my story of being trafficked as a child—was purchasing trafficked women. How could my beloved…the charming, respected, Christian leader…be a “john”? I well knew that Christians purchase trafficked women, but I’d married a good man, hadn’t I?

I reeled from the data of his unchecked sexual addiction. It was so like my childhood abuse, and he…suddenly so like my perpetrators. The level of duplicity, lies, deception, heinous sexuality, cruelty, and remorselessness… Perhaps the most difficult of all his betrayals—he had used my story to get in with women and to fan the flames of his twisted desires.

I tried to gather the pieces of the man I so desperately wanted him to be and put them back together, but they no longer fit. I couldn’t unsee the other man. Who would believe me? I couldn’t. And yet, I knew this other man; my abusive childhood had habituated me to betrayal. I used to question how I could have married a good man. Heartbreakingly, I now knew that he fit into my story like a missing puzzle piece.

Divorce wasn’t supposed to be my story.

We were supposed to be holding hands in old age. But it became clear he was committed to not engaging his brokenness, and I began to believe I was worth more.

As a divorcèe, I have learned that even in this modern era I am an outsider. A friend once told me, “The stigma of divorce is still very real.” I didn’t want to believe that but, sadly, it’s true. A thousand experiences conveyed this; I’ll share two.

Though few knew the details of my husband’s betrayals, in a coupled world there was immense societal pressure to repair or tolerate his addiction. It was bewildering and excruciating how seldom any responsibility was placed with him. This painted for me our cultural view of women. It didn’t matter what the betrayal, how profound it was, or how repentant or unrepentant my husband—it was my fault and mine to repair.

My childhood trauma is easy to blame, but his addiction pre-dated our relationship. And even if it hadn’t, what we don’t say is that there are things that no one should ask of his or her spouse. I’m not sure how it became woven into our cultural belief that men can’t help themselves, but they have as much agency as women, and it has been used to wield great harm. Dear reader, my husband chose to break our covenantal vows. He chose how he broke them. And he chose not to seek healing.

If I may be so bold, I know some of you may have a similar story. Your spouse also has agency and you deserve to be honored. However it comes about—whether through your spouse’s repentance or your leaving—you deserve more.

As I mourned, I came to see my trauma as a death. The death of my marriage. The death of my beloved in my life. The death of our dreams for the future. The death of my hope of having children in my arms. It was the rending apart of lives intertwined for a decade and a half. But I began to realize that in our culture we have no traditions of mourning divorce. There are no flowers or cards. No meals brought by friends. No mourning clothes. No bereavement leave. No funeral. No graveside service. No marker upon which to weep. I was wholly alone. It was me and my four-footed friend trying to wake for another day, sort out how to make ends meet, and fight for the hope of a brighter future…a future too far off to see.

I am in a better place now, but it’s still a battle. Every weekend, vacation, holiday, and child’s laugh, I’m reminded how alone I am and the dreams that once were.

The author prefers to remain anonymous.

I applaud this woman for choosing to move forward in spite of horrific situations. To survive being trafficked is horrendous enough without living through this on top of it. I pray her story will encourage many others in their journey.

You can do your part in the fight against trafficking.

If you have been a part of this–whether by choice or coercion– know that it is never too late to turn around. Jesus already forgave you and by acknowledging that, he can make a way out where there seems to be no way.

If you would like to help, but you aren’t sure how, you can become educated through reading or participating in local, national, or international organizations who are in the fight. Here are some I support and learn from:

  • A21 https://www.a21.org/– based in Australia this international group fights with awareness, intervention, and aftercare
  • Not for Sale https://www.notforsalecampaign.org/ – originally based in San Francisco reaches areas that are most impoverished to create better situations to reduce trafficking where it starts
  • Bridging Freedom https://www.bridgingfreedom.org/ – based near Tampa, FL is a safe house where trafficked children can heal

There are many others, but these are my current personal choices which I support from the proceeds of a couple of my books that deal with trafficking. I give half of the proceeds from those sales each year.

For this week, July 25th – July 30th, by purchasing either Dangerous Ground or A Mighty Wind, you will get to enjoy reading a novel while learning a little more about this subject AND you will be giving to an important cause at a crucial time. I will donate 100% of the proceeds to these three listed organizations. It can be a way of you giving to help those in this situation. Perhaps you would like to share a copy, give a couple to friends and family, or donate some to your local organizations!

Thank you in advance from those who are healing or still need rescue.

Afraid Yet Filled With Joy


Fear seems to be dominating the world right now.

War, shootings, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, food shortage, gas prices, violence breaking out all over the world, and political battles with court cases pummel us from every angle. Headlines rarely have something positive to report (unless you watch or read some positive news source like CBN, Newsmax, Epoch Times, Dailywire, TBN – just to name a few where you can see truth and positive stories).

Even in our daily activities, we’re stunned by shut downs, breakdowns, and everything down. Today, my husband went to a local Dunkin’ Donuts for a business coffee meeting and found them closed due to lack of help. And we live in one of the best, growing, open states!

But I love that in Matthew 28:8, it says that the women who had gone to the tomb where Jesus had been buried left there feeling “afraid yet filled with joy.” Why?

The tomb was empty.

Jesus had risen from the dead just as he said he would. Kind of a trippy, frightening, yet exciting experience for them, right? Also much like what those of us who are in relationship with Jesus feel today. Everything happening in the world is an indication that Jesus will take us to meet him soon. We don’t know exactly when that “soon” is, but while we watch the fearful events of the current day, we are also filled with joy.

I can’t wait to be with Jesus face to face.

Like a bride anticipating the moment she walks down the aisle to see her groom awaiting her. Heart fluttering. Palms a little sweaty while holding a stunning flower bouquet. The look of adoration in his eyes.

Verse 9 says “Suddenly, Jesus met them.”

When they least expected it, but expectantly anticipated it, Jesus was there. With them. Greeting them. Love flowing. Joy exploding. Peace replacing fear.

They worshiped at his feet, and he reassured them. “Don’t be afraid.”

That is exactly where we find joy and peace in the midst of fear. At the feet of Jesus. In his presence. His perfect love for us throwing fear away. No matter what things look like, how they appear, Jesus is there with us, reassuring us, promising us that he is in control. We can trust him.

And then he told the women to go tell everyone else where they could see him.

That’s what I want to do with everything I live and write, whether on my blog or in a book.

You can find Jesus in the room with you. Sitting in your car. Standing next to you at work. You may not see him like the women did when he physically walked on the earth, but he is here, there. If you speak to him, acknowledge him, seek him, he’ll suddenly meet you right where you are. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. He’ll speak to you through his spirit to your spirit. And when you agree that you need him, you believe he died for you, God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit will live in you.

God designed us to hear him. If we resolve to seek him when we are lost, afraid, wondering how to navigate life, and set our eyes on him, he will make us able to not be afraid. He will help us think like he thinks, having great wisdom that brings peace, humility, calmness, and patience.

In spite of awful situations in our life or around us, we can find joy in his presence. Even if we feel afraid.

That’s more good news, isn’t it? And these days, we need some good news!

I have more good news for those patiently waiting for the release of Winds of Change, book 4 in the Winds of Redemption series. The e book version is finally out! It will be FREE from June 11 – 15th. Click the picture to get yours!

Bailey Davis is headed to a California college to learn landscape design. New friends and beautiful surroundings offer her a great start and a promising future. But when she’s faced with prejudice, opposition to her faith, and the persecution of her and some friends, will standing for truth run her straight into danger?

Newly engaged Dylan Davis encourages his daughter’s dreams and independence. Their unforgettable road trip to settle Bailey at school launches them both into a new season of life. Until Bailey goes missing and Dylan must face the demons of his past.

As their faith is tested from every side, Baily and her father must dig deep to continue trusting the God who miraculously brought them together once before.

If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, you can find them here.

One Thing I Know


God is faithful.

I chose to follow Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade when I was nine years old. I grew up in church, but that was the first time I felt God speaking to me. Drawing me to him. I devoured the book of John in the bus on the way home which gave me a glimpse of how much Jesus loved me.

I’d like to say that my life was perfectly great after that, but that would be a lie. Family situations, my own rebellion, and outside events led me into many, many messed up situations.

But God is faithful.

Always there, even when I though he was mad at me. (See last week’s post) As I tried to be good enough for him. (He didn’t ever say that I needed to be.) When I rebelled and did my own thing even when I had his still, small voice tugging at me to go a different way. Through every heartache, broken place, trial, and daily life, he has walked beside me or called to me when I ran ahead or off somewhere.

Nearly every morning lately I’ve been listening to a collection of songs by Phil Wickham. This one makes me cry every single time. Why?

Because God is faithful. Jesus loves me.

And I just wanted to share that he’s there for you too.

It’s Always Been You

Phil Wickham

You saw me first
You let me in when I was at my worst
The moment when I heard You say my name
It’s the first time in so long I’m not afraid
I’m not afraid

You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
You are the light that shines in every tunnel
There in the past, You’ll be there tomorrow
All my life, Your love was breaking through

It’s always been You
It’s always been You

My northern star
Your love will be the compass of my heart
Oh, I just wanna be right where You are
Right where You are

You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
You are the light that shines in every tunnel
There in the past, You’ll be there tomorrow
All my life, Your love was breaking through

It’s always been You
And it’s always been You
It’s always been You
It’s always been You

Who stood with me in the fire?
It was You, it was always You
Who pulled me out of the water?
It was You, it was always You
And who carried me on their shoulders?
It was You, I know it’s You, You

You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
You are the light that shines in every tunnel
There in the past, You’ll be there tomorrow
All my life, Your love was breaking through

It’s always been You
And it’s always been You
It’s always been You
It’s always been You
It’s always been You