Out of Control?


Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on Pexels.com

A number of years ago, I lived in Nevada where snow fell for the better part of the year. Many days, the roads were still covered in ice and snow, even with plows clearing them on a regular basis.

On days like that, I rarely went out. But on this one particular day, I had no choice so I piled my four kids in our old Bronco, set my four-wheel drive, and ventured out despite my longing to avoid the trip into town.

We lived outside Reno, in a little valley at the foot of the Sierras so whenever it snowed, the storm would swirl around in our valley as if it were trapped by the surrounding mountains and hills.

Getting out was hard enough, but going down the slippery hill, onto the highway, and into town proved challenging at best. Especially when the snow blew in blizzard, white-out conditions.

As it did on this particular day. (Did I mention I would have rather been at home with a cup of tea and a good book?)

Whenever we made the twenty to thirty minute journey into town (depending on what part of Reno we needed to arrive at), it seemed like a longish drive. But on snowy days, the are-we-there-yet question played every few minutes in what felt like a never-ending trek of epic proportions.

We made it down the hill, onto the highway, and the road was remarkably clear of traffic. (Those smart other people!) But it was not clear of snow and ice.

I drove clutching the steering wheel while reassuring my youngsters that all was good. “You all have your seat belts on, right? Mommy’s just double-checking.”

That’s when I glimpsed a flash of red up ahead of me through the blinding snow. The brake lights of a slowing, or stopped(?) car. I tapped my brakes lightly, but in an instant, the car spun out of control.

Kind of in slow motion.

But within a few seconds we were headed the wrong way on the highway.

I’m thrilled to say that we didn’t crash. Simply landed with a bump and poof of snow in the center divider. While we were shaken up, I was able to carefully navigate us into the right direction and off the highway. Thank you, Jesus! (I say that a lot.) I decided to take the longer, street route the remainder of the way into town. Yeah.

Here’s the thing.

For those few minutes, the scariest part was feeling like I was completely out of control. My car was turning and sliding and no amount of driving-in-snow protocol helped.

I was helpless, powerless, and sensed danger all around.

I think that’s how most of the world feels these days. Between the virus, job losses, the election, violence in our streets, and even friends and family turning against us on social media, we can spin out of control and land facing the wrong direction.

Isn’t that what we fear most? Being out of control?

Don’t we want to know what’s happening all the time and have a handle on it? Our family, our job, our finances, our spouse, kids, friends, and the outcome of this election?

But what if we don’t? What do we do then? How do we handle life when we feel like we’ve lost control?

It’s been a slow road, but I’m learning to trust the God that IS in control. He sees all, has already been where we’re going, and knows what’s up ahead. I may not know, but if he does and I trust him then no matter what happens, I can be at rest.

Even when I’m out of control.

What if God knows everything about this virus, the election, the violence, and what my spouse, kids or friends feel and think? What if he’s using every single good and bad thing to bring something good, or better for us or someone else? What if we trusted that what we can see is only part of the bigger picture and plan?

I could tell a multitude of stories of all the times I questioned what was happening from injury, sickness, death to job loss, financial struggles and misunderstandings with family or friends. I have plenty of material.

I know this from my sixty years of life. God is good. He is faithful. I can trust him with everything and when I do, my heart is at peace even in the midst of messy spin-outs. It took practice to learn, and I’m still in process, but I know my God, and he loves us.

Getting to know him is the first step. Getting to know him intimately (nothing weird, just up close and personal), is the next. First we try talking to him and trusting him with something, and then we can trust him with the next thing and the next. Anyone who would give their child so that we could be close to him must love us an awfully lot.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” I John 4:9

“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19

Hawaii

Today, when you feel out of control, maybe try talking to the God who loves you and is in control. You may find a new sense of peace to give up your control and leave everything in his very capable hands.

I have. I hope you can too.

Soul Weary?


Don’t give up.

Those words have popped up in numerous places in the past couple of days. How appropriate! This week has been a long one with deadlines, doctor appointments, sick kids, and pain. You know how it is. Right?

I love how God knows how it is for us too.

He offers us exactly what we need in various ways. A call from a friend, a hug, a listening ear, a walk admiring nature. All of those little places that remind us that he sees and hears us when we’re weary.

I was reminded of how the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty long years. That’s two thirds of my entire life! They were promised a trip into a land flowing with good things like plenty of milk and honey. After the first few days they were complaining. What about after five, ten, or twenty years? It’s hard to keep the promise in sight when we feel weary or worn out.

This year certainly has been a wearing us down one.

But God is true to his promises. Even when it takes years to see them come to pass. Even when everything around us looks or feels hopeless and exhausting. His word encourages us not to grow weary in doing good. He must have known that we would. LOL

When I watched this clip this morning, I was encouraged and thought someone else might need a boost too. So here is another encouraging word about not giving up.

Let’s make it through another day, another week without allowing weariness to stop us in our tracks.

The climb is always worth the view!

In what areas are you weary? What uplifts you?

Where is God When…?


One morning this past week, I set off on a morning stroll as I often do. Clouds showcased the rising sun against a splendid blue background. When I reached the point where I usually turn around, I pivoted to return home, and a stunning rainbow gracing part of the sky surprised me. It had been behind me, but I didn’t notice until I turned around.

How many times do we miss something beautiful because of our perspective or position?

As I walked home, the rainbow grew until it arced over the entire sky. I encountered four people on my way back. None of them had noticed the rainbow.

The first one was running. I said “hi” and barely got the word “rainbow out as she smiled and ran on. I don’t think she even saw it.

The second person walked by with a smile.

“Did you see the rainbow?” I asked, pointing to the sky.

She turned around and gasped. “Oh, my! It’s beautiful. No, I didn’t see it. I was headed the other way first, but it wasn’t there. Now look. Thank you for pointing it out to me.”

“God’s promises,” I said.

“Yes. I think every time I see a rainbow that there is hope.”

I agreed and wished her a great day.

As I continued on, the rainbow grew in clarity and intensity. I praised and thanked God, not only for the gorgeous sight, but also for every challenging and difficult thing in my life and the lives of my family. Without the flood, there wouldn’t have been a rainbow–the sign of God’s promise that he would never wipe out the earth again.

Yet, many things are wiping out our lives right now, right?

Those tragic situations can turn us to God if we let them. I think he often allows them for our benefit. He knows where our bottom line is; where we will finally fall on our face before him and cry to him for help. Only he can bring the rainbow times out of crisis.

The third and fourth people I met were a couple who had been walking and talking in full view of the rainbow, which by that point had become a double one. A light drizzle showered us even as the sun shone brightly around. When I pointed to the rainbow, they were surprised they hadn’t even noticed it, but were so glad to have it brought to their attention.

“God’s promises are true,” I said to the husband as his wife pulled out her phone to snap a picture. He smiled and pointed one finger to the sky. “Yes,” he agreed.

I wished them a beautiful day and left them still admiring the handiwork of God.

When I returned home, I saw a post from a man whose blog I’ve been following for about eight years. He just celebrated his 60th birthday after being diagnosed with ALS at the age of thirty-six. No one expected him to live for more than a few years, but his faith has inspired tens of thousands of people all over the world. You can read his post and story here.

A rainbow moment.

God is good. Even if he allows bad things. We may not understand his ways or his methods of showing us who he is, but we can trust that whatever he chooses, it will produce something beautiful, colorful, and remarkable in the end.

What is your rainbow situation?

My newest book, When the Wind Blows, has rainbow moments for the six main characters who are thrown together when a hurricane sweeps through Southwest Florida. It will be available on Amazon on October 20, 2020 and offered for FREE the first five days. If you want to get in on the action NOW you can use the contact form or email me at laura@laurabennet.com and I will send you a FREE PDF copy so you can be one of the first to read and review (if you would be so kindly inclined).

Coming October 20, 2020
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GZ7KFLG
On sale NOW – Load it FREE for your Kindle on Amazon

Show a Little Love


In a world of so much division and hatred, I thought I’d share a little short story that reflects how we might choose to handle life. This week, I want to be one that shows the love of Jesus in my reactions.

I’ve also made October the month of FREE books. With fall moving in, don’t you want to curl up with a good book and a cuppa (Aussie for tea, coffee, or hot chocolate)? Even here in balmy Southwest Florida, we’ve had a few nights of “cooler” (70 – LOL) weather. So after you read this little short story, head on over to Amazon where you can pick up the Kindle edition of Voices of the Past this weekend. It’s FREE starting yesterday, October 9 until the 13th.

Then from October 16-20th you can get Dangerous Ground for FREE.

New Release, When the Wind Blows, will be FREE October 20-24th. That’s a month of great reading! Starting with the story below. And don’t forget to show a little love…

Joy Wurshop yanked on the handle of her rolling briefcase. For the last time. The handle came off in her hand. The impact nearly threw her off her black high heels. Walking was no longer an option. She’d have to call a cab now. Ten minutes before her meeting started. Only a miracle would get her there.

“Taxi!” She scanned the crowded street for yellow while attempting to shove the bag’s handle back in place.

You’ll have to be aggressive in the big city. The unsolicited advice from her previous boss incited her to take a step off the curb. Without looking. A cab screeched to a halt inches from her black pencil skirt. Joy’s free hand flew to her mouth while her purse slid off her shoulder and down the grey and pink floral silk blouse adorning her arm.

“Lady, what the heck’re ya doin? Trying to get yourself killed? Do you want a cab or a coffin?”

“Cab, please.” She let the coffin remark slide. Gripping her broken briefcase and purse, she fumbled with the door handle. The driver turned, facing her, and yelled out the passenger window.

“Come on, lady. I ain’t got all day.” His booming expletive carried over honking horns blaring behind him.

Joy threw her belongings through the door and slid in beside them.

“Where to? Where to? Let’s get a move on.”

“27th Street. The Town Center Building. Please hurry. I have a meeting, and I’m already late.”

“Oh, miss fancy-pants wants me to hurry now. Dawdled getting in my cab, and now I’m the one to get her to her meetin’…”

Joy closed her eyes against the pooling tears as the man carried on. Not what she needed. Not today. Not when her career hung by a thread.

Drawing in a deep breath, she dug in her purse for a tissue, settling for a wadded piece at the bottom. By the time she removed mascara smudges and reapplied lip gloss, they turned onto her street. Joy prayed she had enough cash for the fare.

Flipping through all her cards, her heart plunged. Bank, credit, medical, pharmacy, Sam’s Club, library. Nothing. Opened her change purse. A couple of folded up ones and two pennies. They were pulling up to her building. Praying for a miracle, she peeked in a little, side pocket, fully knowing she never kept money there.

“That’ll be $17.50. No charge for not runnin’ ya over back there.” He howled a laugh.

Tucked inside the pocket was a folded bill. Thank God! But when she pulled it out, the sight elated and crushed her. A fifty. Since when…she never had that kind of money. But she knew what she needed to do. She closed her eyes with a sigh. A moment later, she opened them and handed the bill over, offering a shaky smile.

“Here. Keep the change.”

As she closed the door, she caught his muttering.

“Well, I never…”

And she guessed he never had.

When the Wind Blows is coming soon…

Looking Toward Possibility


“For nothing is impossible with God.”   Luke 1:37

     At our previous church in California, we hosted a week-long day camp for Vacation Bible School each summer. Every day, we would lead kids in chanting that VBS was F-U-N, and at the end, VBS was D-U-N. But one of the songs we sang that year, Nothing is Impossible, continued to play in my mind. God proved those words to me over and over during that year’s VBS, and I want to live according to that truth every day.

     As the VBS traffic directors for the first time, my husband, Brendan, and I really didn’t know what we were doing. We certainly had tremendous help from the previous director; we had the notebook containing all the guidelines for what to do and expect; and we had abundant encouragement and support from our VBS director. Still, as VBS drew closer, a bit of anxiety began to stack up against the peace I felt during the previous couple of preparation months.

     Within thirty minutes of arriving on Monday morning, I had a meltdown. My walkie-talkie wouldn’t work; I was on the wrong channel; people had questions for me, but I had no answers – AND cars we were supposed to be directing continued to steadily stream in while I struggled with my equipment and fought back frustration tears.

     Our director and her team were wonderfully helpful. They provided me with working equipment, showed me how to use it and prayed for me. Then she said something like, “Laura, VBS is going to happen. Cars will park and kids will arrive no matter what we do or don’t do. God is in control, and He will make it happen.” It clicked. Something I had known in my head shot straight to my heart, and I was able to grasp and actually believe it. What a relief!

     Then I recalled how at prep day, one of the guys had talked about the “nothing” he felt he had to offer. Like the widow with two small coins (Luke 21:2), or the boy with a meager lunch of bread and fish (John 6:9). I could relate. I felt like I had nothing to offer. No real grasp of the job I would be doing and not enough people to help us do it, but I could offer the “nothing” I had and let God make the impossible happen.

     And He did. Each day that week, God brought unexpected people to help us, and he gave us the ability to do our job. He even gave us some new ideas that were helpful. The week turned out to be—believe it, or not—easy, or at least relaxed, even in spite of some unforeseen traffic situations.

     In the years since then, I’ve attempted to live in that place of believing that NOTHING is impossible for God to make happen – in myself, in my marriage, in my family and in every aspect of life’s daily challenges. I think we can all agree that this year of 2020 has needed the hope that God will make good things happen, and nothing is impossible for Him!

No matter what the remainder of this year brings or looks like, we can be confident that God always has possibilities ahead for us. He promises that when we put our hope in him, we will not be disappointed even if circumstances bring pain, or people let us down. With God all things are possible.

New Release Coming Soon!


Deadly Silence CoverThe benefit of sheltering at home is more time to write. In April, I released A Deadly Silence. Here’s what a few of people have said:

“Sara and Brad’s story gripped me the second I opened the book. Laura Bennet weaves believable storylines and it’s like you are an invisible person witnessing it as it’s taking place. Emotions run high with the characters, but also the reader. Thank you, Laura, for such an outstanding book. Bravo!!!” J.Messmer

“I really couldn’t put this down. I enjoyed reading this, and I was surprised because it’s not usually my reading genre. A definite recommend, especially if you like reading about relationships, family, friendships, overcoming trauma, personal growth, spiritual growth, and learning.” J.N.

“I enjoyed this book as I have all of Laura’s books. Her honest writing style is refreshing in that things don’t always work out the way we think they “should” – just like in real life. This book covers a difficult topic but one that many people face. I’m glad to see an honest take on removing the stigma in talking about issues when they occur. Can’t wait for the next book!” Peggy I.

I’m glad to know readers are anxiously awaiting the next book because it’s almost here! Anticipating an October release, When the Wind Blows, shows how being in community brings hope, healing, and redemption.

when-the-wind-blows-1

Category 4 Hurricane Harriet slams Southwest Florida, throwing six high rise neighbors together in unexpected ways.

Alec and Jessica Freeman can’t seem to make their five-year marriage work, and Jessica’s secret isn’t helping. Author Dylan Davis loses himself in writing books about missing children as therapy for the daughter he lost. Bailey Crenshaw, a free-spirited young woman who’s been on her own since girlhood, finds family with strangers. Older, retired folks, Ralph and Edith Manning wonder if life is over for them, but experiencing trauma with neighbors offers a new sense of purpose. Within community, each one discovers that weathering a storm together is better than surviving alone.

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)

Exploitation in Plain Sight


I recently read of a young woman who was sold by her parents to men for sex. Not once, but on a regular basis from the time she was five years old until she escaped. Girls like her are left on a park bench, church pew, or in a bathroom and instructed to wait until a man comes to get them. He will later return her to the same place with no one suspecting that he isn’t a relative or friend.

I thought I knew the whole truth about sex trafficking, but I was wrong.

Most of us, (me included until I read Not For Sale and began research for my novel, Dangerous Ground,) believe that sexual exploitation happens in other countries or is so hidden we will never see the victims or perpetrators.

It’s not what we think.

After watching a few videos of these young women who have been rescued, I was stunned once again to learn of the depravity of this evil. This week, I talked with a friend who is a chaplain for a police department in California who shared her knowledge of similar experiences. Then after reading this article, the importance of sharing this information became compelling… especially since my book depicts a trafficking ring holding girls in captivity.

While Dangerous Ground has opened the eyes of people who weren’t aware of this travesty at all, I certainly don’t want it to be misleading in any way.

Often, victims sit beside us in our community, our schools, or in families we think we can trust. We need to have eyes to see the truth as well as the evidence in front of us if we want to stop this horrific situation.

“Instead of being kidnapped by their trafficker, nearly all victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are groomed by someone they love and trust. The trafficker then uses that love and trust to manipulate and sometimes blackmail their victims into being sexually exploited.

Very few victims of child sex trafficking are kept in a bunker or in chains.  In fact, many victims are still living at home and attending school.  Others might be living on the streets.  Traffickers more often keep their victims “chained” to them using trauma bonding and complex psychological abuse.” (quoted from “Fact or Conspiracy Theory?” by Kelly McKaughey, Shared Hope International, Aug.17, 2020)

While various conditions exist for victims of trafficking, let’s be aware of the fact that many times victims live right in front of us. If we know what to look for, we may be able to offer assistance where no other rescue would be available.

Check out this post from O.U.R – Operation Underground Railroad for signs to look for. Better yet, in the post, you’ll find a link to participate in their video training.

You can donate to any number of organizations that fight trafficking, rescue victims, transition victims back into life, and create opportunities for people to avoid situations that make them susceptible to trafficking. Here are a few I support:

In addition, half the proceeds from every copy of Dangerous Ground sold goes to support these organizations. You can read a novel, become more educated, and part of your money spent will be donated. That’s a win, win, win!

Full or Empty Cup?


close up of coffee cup on table
Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

An empty cup can be filled, but a full cup can’t hold what God wants to pour into us.

What are we full of?

Fear, hurt, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, anxiety, dread, depression, anger?

OR

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, hope?

Do we fill our cup each day with “what if’s” that breed fear?

OR

Are we filled with excitement, dreams, possibilities and “God will”?

Jesus said that for all of us who are heavily burdened to come to him and trade whatever is weighing us down for his life of love, joy, peace, and hope. Laying everything down at his feet, we can let him handle our concerns and let him lead us by still waters.

Sometimes we find it hard to empty ourselves.

Pride, fear, shame, and disappointment can cause us to not trust God. We feel the need to control. But every step of faith that gives God more control yields relief and a lesser weight on us. Then we are free to let God determine our journey.

And his ways are far better than what we think we need or want.

He blows my mind with the healing, blessings, fulfilling ways my life expands and gets to touch others. His word says he gives us the desires of our hearts. I testify to the truth of that!

So today, are you empty or full? What is your cup full of?

Confused?


DSC_0059With so many contradicting messages blasting through our world right now, it’s easy to be confused about what to think. Who’s sharing truth and who’s manipulating people’s emotions?

As someone who loves Jesus, the saddest aspect to me is when I see or hear about proclaimed followers of Jesus arguing about politics, doctrine, and their own opinions. Are we adding to the confusion or showing a hurting and broken world faith, hope, and most importantly, love?

Accusing various believers or specific organizations of not being righteous or godly because they worship differently, pray silently or openly, baptize in various ways, support a political party, or wear masks (or not) divides us and drives us into confusion rather than the unity that Jesus desires for us.

The first and most important issue is whether we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we receive his gracious gift of laying his life down for our sinfulness, we are part of a family. That’s good news no matter how we receive it—whether in a church service, at a beach worship time, or in our bedroom, car, or shower. We might be homeless in an alley or looking at a sunset when we realize the love of God for us and choose to follow him.

After that, Jesus gave us some pretty clear and simple instructions for the rest of life.

  • Love him. He loved us first. He gave his life and longs for us to respond to his love.
  • Love ourselves. We are created and loved by God. He has a great plan for us. Treat ourselves kindly.
  • Love others. We’re all created and loved by God. When we realize we’re loved, we can extend that love.
  • Seek God first. Everything else falls into place when we do.
  • Live humbly. While we have our own thoughts and opinions, so do others. God is God. We’re not.
  • Speak the truth in love. Be honest with ourselves and others always.
  • Mercy over judgement. God forgave us. Forgive others, and let God be the only judge.
  • Grace, not deeds. God’s showed us grace when we were a mess not because we did something right. Be gracious to others in the same way.

I’ve been guilty of seeking my way, thinking my way is the only way, judging others, and not wanting to show grace or forgive.

We all have.

But when we get caught up in whether others are doing it our way, or sharing our opinions, or applying God’s word differently than we think it should be interpreted, we divide rather than unite.

God says a house divided can’t stand. So naturally that’s the enemy’s plan. If he can use us in the church to divide the church, then it’s a win, win for him.

And a loss for us and for those who don’t know Jesus yet and are turned off by our portrayal of him.

We have to let go of ourselves. Our agendas. The way we think things should be done.

Die to self is what Jesus calls it.

Not because he doesn’t want us to be the thinking, creating, unique individuals that he designed us to be, but because he wants us to be free to live fully in those ways. And his plans give us so much more than we can secure for ourselves.

When he increases in our lives, and our broken, self-focused, my-way-is-best decreases, we can walk in love. Loving him, loving us, loving others. Loving life.

And the world will know that Jesus is Lord, and he SO loves them.