Are You Angry at God?


pexels-photo-247314.jpegMaybe you’ve never really thought about that question. Or maybe you shake your fist at him daily. Perhaps you’ve had a loss or tragedy occur in your life, and you can’t reconcile the idea that a loving, all powerful God could allow something so horrific.

You’re not alone.

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t at one time or in a lifetime question where God was when ________ happened. I certainly have.

As a matter of fact, for six years I was angry at God and didn’t even realize it. You see, I loved Jesus and believed God was good so I never considered that I could be harboring anger towards him. I believed he was in control in a good (well, mostly good) way and had brought me into a better place than I’d previously been in.

And he had.

But when God had spoken through someone that “turn around time” was coming for my life, I believed God meant that my failing marriage and business, my soon to be foreclosed on home and my hurting children would all suddenly turn around and come out rosy – you know, butterflies and unicorns stuff.

But it didn’t.

We lost our business and home, were forced to file for bankruptcy and ended up divorced with kids that had suffered far more than I ever thought possible.

What the heck?

So, six years later, to the exact day, when that someone who had spoken those promise-filled words showed up at my now different church (in a different state) speaking promises to people, I found myself perturbed. Conflicted. Angry.

I knew our pastor to be full of integrity and completely trustworthy so I wrestled with what I felt had been lies spoken to me years earlier. Later, after a strategically orchestrated meeting (only God made that happen, but that’s a different story), I drove away, parked my car in a remote location and let God have it.

Screaming, crying and recognizing my anger at him for the first time.

Until he whispered in my heart, “Didn’t your life turn around?”

Well…uh…yes. I guess it did. Because up until that point, I had accepted behaviors in my marriage that never should have been allowed. All that tragedy caused me to decide that I wanted a different life. As a result, I made new choices, and my life completely changed.

What I believed God meant and what he said were two different things. My perspective was shallow and off. We both wanted better for me, but he saw big picture and I saw immediate. He had change in my heart while I looked for change in circumstances. He set my course on a new, amazing life that would never have come if I had gotten what I asked for.

I realized I had to forgive God.

Forgive the one who forgives? Yep. That’s right. And thankfully, his grace and love for us it so great that he doesn’t hold our anger at him against us. He took care of me and my kids and blessed us incredibly during those six years that I was angry at him and didn’t know it. He knew it and waited for exactly the right time and orchestrated my circumstances perfectly to gently speak to me.

I cried, told him I was so, so sorry and our relationship grew deeper that night. I’ll never forget that night. Sometimes I share that story and it helps other people too.

As a matter of fact, I wrote a book, Rachel’s Son, about a young woman who felt that same anger when her only son was murdered. It took her many years and a path of destruction in her life until she could face her hurt and anger and finally forgive the Forgiver.

You can get the kindle version FREE on Amazon right now through tomorrow, March 3. And, the print version is more than half off. This is what one woman said:

“…I just finished reading Rachel’s son and it has changed my life. It was a gripping book. Couldn’t put it down but the most amazing thing has happened. When u got to the end…I sobbed.” (omitted words to avoid spoiler!)

It might be something that helps you handle anger with God, even if you don’t know you have any. I pray it will bless you.

Promises and Process


“Even as we cling to the promises of divine truth, we scrutinize our natural world for answers that require supernatural solutions. Somehow we inherently believe that if we can understand the motivation and contextualization of our crisis, then we can contain it, reduce it, and eliminate it.” (Author Unknown)
It’s encouraging to know that this is a normal, not sinful, lacking faith response. DSC_0020 (2)
Whether we suffer due to our own choices or because of life’s tragedies, God is in it, using it to draw us closer to Him and build our character. He wants to comfort us.
I can rest there and allow the grief,
the pruning,
the process.
“For we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
II Corinthians 4:8-9
Where are you in grief or in process? What has God promised?

The Uncertainty of Life


20171018_074229Hundreds of posts this week have regaled thanksgiving blessings mixed with multiple cyber sales, and many venture solidly into a coming Christmas season. It’s enough to make my overloaded inbox cry.

I don’t want to be that article.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m beyond grateful for God’s amazing blessings. As a matter of fact, I don’t go through a day without thanking him numerous times, many including heart-filled tears. And I’m a girl who appreciates a good sale.

And while I’m never ready to embrace Christmas decorating or festivities until after Thanksgiving, unlike one dear California friend I’m thinking of (you know who you are JG), I love Jesus and his birthday and all the joy, peace and goodwill towards men it brings.

But let’s be real.

Friends have lost loved ones and are stumbling through the holidays. Couples are separated or worse, divorced, and wondering how they will bear another party alone. Illness or a diagnosis just wiped the joy off the face of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and someone is missing a child who seemed to die too early, was never conceived or who is walking along the edge of death with their life.

Life holds great uncertainty.

And pain, disappointment, fear, anger along with many, many questions. No black Friday or Monday cyber sale can make a real, solid dent in that. Maybe for a moment, until the regret and shame and credit card bill comes.

While fires rage, destroying homes and earthquakes, war and poverty wrack third-world countries, when rebuilding progresses at a crawl after a hurricane, tornado or a  flood, how do we hold on?

How do we go on?

What holds us during those moments, days, months or years? Where is our hope that life will right itself again so we can draw another shaky breath and see a new day without fear?

I am the Lord. I will sustain you. I will hold you with my right hand and comfort you in your darkest night. Cling to me. Come to me all who are heavily burdened with pain, sorrow, expectations and fears. Let me take those on me and make your burden lighter. Wait on me, and you will be able to breathe and keep walking when you are so weary you want to curl up in bed and never wake up. Don’t try to figure it all out. It’s too big for you to comprehend. The sin of the world knocks at your door all day and night, and you can’t grasp the full significance of a spiritual enemy that wants you to blame me and end the life I created in you. You can’t assimilate all I’ve created and brought life to: creatures, people, dreams, visions, greatness beyond your imagination. So don’t try. Just be still and know that I’m God so I’m bigger than your biggest disappointment, fear, tragedy, crisis or pain. I see you. I’m here to comfort you and lead you through it. I’m here. I’m here. Lean on me. Let me into your heart and life. I’m here to love and comfort and sustain you. I gave my life so you could live yours, and no matter what destruction the world throws at you, I have a way to make it turn out for something good. Better than you hoped, though probably not what you expected. I love you. Let me love you.

I believe that is a word from God for someone. Maybe a few or dozen someones.

Those are God’s words typed from him to you through cyber-space just as he spoke them to me. Those are words from his word, the Bible, so I know they are true. And you don’t have to believe me, you can go there and find them for yourself.

I didn’t wake up this morning expecting to write this. I didn’t have a plan or map out what I should write. I know our world is hurting, and I know what hurting is. But more importantly, God knows.

I don’t know what your circumstances look like. Trusting in and leaning on God doesn’t necessarily change the circumstance, though sometimes it might. What it changes is how we live in the tragedy or loss or fear. The presence of God and the name and power of Jesus changes things. Usually, our heart or our view.

He’ll heal past hurts and show us where the fears come from. He’ll comfort us and open our eyes to his love and care. He can “turn the heart of a king” like a stream or river, bending it the way he wants it to go. Maybe that’s our heart.

I’m thankful. Oh yes, so very, very thankful for the love of my God, my Lord and Savior, Jesus. I couldn’t live or breathe without him.

And I’m thankful for you. Each one who reads my blogs posts. May God bless you in every way. Today.

 

 

Have We Been Warned?


pexels-photo-753619.jpegHave you ever been warned?

There’s plenty of warnings in our world. On cigarette packages, at the gas pump or by an exit door. Lawn signs tell us a house is protected, and TSA tries to protect us by telling us what we can’t take on airplanes.

But what about the small voice in your spirit that tells you what to do or not do multiple times a day? Maybe it comes as a whisper, a word from a friend or a verse you’ve read in the Bible. Do you heed it? I’m trying to listen to that voice better each day.

I believe it’s God helping me navigate life well.

Recently, I read about Paul in chapter 27 of Acts. He was a prisoner on a ship  headed for Rome when he sensed danger ahead. A storm was headed their way. After a radical change in his life, Paul was now pretty in tune with listening to God (another story) so it wasn’t unusual for him to sense instruction from God.

He shared his concerns, but no one listened.

Ever been there? Yeah. Not a fun place. But even more important is what we can learn from the situation, both from the ones who didn’t listen, and Paul who voiced his concerns. Here are some insights I gleaned from the story.

  • The captain of the ship believed he knew the situation better based on his expertise on a ship so he didn’t listen to Paul. No matter how much we think we know (or do know!) God knows more. It never pays to lean on our own understanding.
  • Initially, after they made their choice, it appeared that they got what they wanted. God cannot be mocked. Eventually his ways, truth or insight will come about.
  • Their choices took them into a hurricane force wind they couldn’t fight against. They were forced to give into it and were driven along in a way they never wanted to go. We may think we’ve made the right choice, but if we don’t heed God’s warning, we’ll be caught up in something more powerful than we can handle.
  • They ended up having to throw cargo and belongings overboard. We have to realize that if we don’t choose to heed God’s ways, we are by default choosing Satan’s, and he is out to destroy us. We WILL lose peace, possessions, life, relationships, etc. along the way.
  • They were hungry, tired and finally gave up hope of surviving. Denying God’s warnings will lead us to a weak, hopeless place.
  • God offered a promise to Paul that he would spare their lives, but they would lose everything else. God is gracious in wanting to save us even when we don’t listen to him. He will still allow us to suffer consequences, but ultimately, he’ll rescue us if we do what he says.
  • In order to save themselves, they looked for another way out, pretending to do something else. God used Paul to sternly rebuke them and tell them that the only way to live was to stay in the boat. We can “pretend” to accept God’s way while still looking out for ourselves, but our lives are actually in God’s hands. We have no power to save ourselves outside of doing things his way.

In the end, the boat was lost, but all on the ship were safe and well-cared for by the people on the island where they ended up. Paul suffered no harm because he continued to trust God in the storm.

Maybe you’re the receiver who didn’t listen. Or maybe you’re the speaker who wasn’t heard. Either way, God has good for you. I love that about God. Even when we bring dire circumstances upon ourselves and others by ignoring or discounting what he says, he will still make a way to be gracious to us.

And when we are at the mercy of others’ choices?

God sticks by us and still uses us to speak to the situation. He doesn’t give up and neither should we. It’s natural to feel afraid in a crisis. But God’s already there, knowing what will be and how to save us.

For those of us who have experienced trauma, it can be difficult to trust God when something traumatic arises again, especially if we are not choosing the situation. I know it’s been a challenge for me at times. But we do have the choice to put ourselves into God’s care and do what he tells us.

Maybe that means leaving a situation if that option exists, or as in Paul’s circumstances, sitting still and waiting where he was at. Either way, we can believe that God is in control.

And if we haven’t heeded God’s warnings to us, it is never too late to go back and change our course. God promises that when we turn around, he’ll set us in the right direction without condemning us.

Is God warning you about something today?

Hope in Desperate Times


Terrible situations deplete of us hope.

It’s easy to lose hope when faced with hardship, broken relationships, illness or a crisis. Or perhaps we’ve been waiting for something to happen – a relationship restored, a loved one to be healed, a wayward child to come home – and it’s been a long, long wait.

But what if we can find hope in the midst of and as a result of those broken places?

That’s what author, Deborah Malone, writes about on her blog and in her new book, Blooming in Broken Places.

Deborah is no stranger to the trials of life. She takes us on her real-life journey beginning with being her mother’s caregiver, to the rocky time of caring for her severely disabled daughter and finally to the disappointment  and trials of an abusive marriage that left her broken and feeling worthless.

But Deborah’s journey doesn’t stop there. Through healing and a gradual realization of God’s unlimited love, Deborah discovered how He could use her despite her limitations. In her book, Deborah delves into how numerous women from the Bible were all used by God, even while they were in broken places.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Deborah. It was great to get to know her a little better.

First, a couple of easy questions…

Are you a coffee or tea drinker?

Definitely tea. However, I do love my one cup of flavored coffee in the morning with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Where do you write?

I have two places I like to write. If I’m not on a deadline then I will write in the family room sitting on the couch with my laptop. If I’m on a deadline then I will write in the office, at the desk, where it is quiet and I can concentrate.

I think people don’t realize the time that goes into writing a book. How long did it take you to write Blooming in Broken Places? In what ways did you find it healing?

Love this question. This book is so dear to my heart. Many have asked me to write my story for many years. I wasn’t in the right place at the time. I didn’t want it to be negative or depressing, and I didn’t want to breathe life into long buried feelings. I was asked to speak on my life to a group of women who needed some encouragement. So many came up afterwards and told me I should write about my life to share with other women.

I didn’t write it then, but it sparked a flame in me. While I was writing my third book in the Skye Southerland Cozy Mystery Series, I was led to write Blooming in Broken Places. I came up with the idea of weaving my story between twelve women from the Bible that were broken, but whom God used in a mighty way even in their darkest times. In this way it would encourage those who read it. It took a year from conception to publication.

I am not going to say it was easy. After my first draft my editor and publisher both said I needed more me in the story. I knew then I could not get away with writing the bare bones. I would have to dig up feelings long buried for the story to be authentic enough to touch others. I never realized in the writing process I would find the healing I had been longing for.

From the reviews of your book, I would say people really appreciated the “you” factor. Well done delving into those difficult areas.

If you had to pick one women from the Bible that you wrote about, who would be your favorite? Why?

Oh my goodness. You would have to ask this question. During my research and writing I fell in love with all the women and came to admire their tenacity and faith. I call them my posse now. But, if you insist, I would have to pick the Samaritan Woman at the well as my favorite. It is such a beautiful story. Jesus went out of his way to put himself in her path. He had a plan for her life – and he didn’t wait until she was perfect to use her in a mighty way. This tells me I don’t have to be perfect for God to use me, too.

She’s my favorite too! She even ended up being one of the secondary characters in my new book, Rachel’s Son. I love the way Jesus interacted with her.

So what’s the most important message you want your readers to get from your new book?

We are all broken in some way. God can and will use us mightily even in our darkest moments. Also, if our goals haven’t been met yet it doesn’t mean they won’t happen. God’s timing isn’t always our timing. I was 57 when my first book was published.

Hope you don’t mind a final personal question. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Well, I guess it would be walking on trails in the woods. It’s a great way to get outside and get some fresh air. I’m looking forward to warmer weather. I still enjoy reading, but I don’t have a lot of time to read.

I completely understand. I’m an outdoor kind of girl myself. Maybe outdoors with a good book. 😉

If you’re like most of us, in need of hope, you can find Deborah’s new book on Amazon. Visit her blog and let her know you read this article. Deborah is also the author of mystery novels set in Georgia.

Deborah Malone’s first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest. Deborah was also nominated for 2012 and 2013 Georgia Author of the Year in Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer for the historic magazine, Georgia Backroads, since 2001. She has had many article and photographs published, and her writing is featured in Tales of the Rails, edited by Olin Jackson, as well as the “Christian Communicator” and “Southern Writer’s Magazine.” She is a member of the Georgia Writer’s Association, Advanced Writer’s and Speaker’s Association and the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Are You Worn Out?


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As the year winds down and winter winds blow us toward giving thanks and a white Christmas (unless you’re in Florida like I am), do you feel worn out?

I do.

This year has been one of the toughest of my life and though the calendar may say it will be over soon, the trials continue to drag on. I believe many all over the nation and the world share my heartache.

Our world is a broken, dangerous place these days.

That’s why I really appreciate a new book one of my favorite authors, Mary DeMuth, Image result for mary demuthhas written. Jesus Every Day releases in less than two weeks, on DECEMBER 1 and already has impacted the lives of those of us who have been privileged to read an advance sample copy.

Mary reaches deep into our soul with heartfelt prayers based on her own life joys and struggles. Her vulnerable, lyrical prose grabs my heart and leaves me whispering through tears “Yes. Me too..”

Today, these words captured my heart:

“Help me know that it is not failure on my part when I can’t carry a burden–it’s simply a signal that it’s time again to surrender.”

Loss, heartache, illness, crisis load us down with burdens of sorrow, grief, fear and worry. But God doesn’t ask us to carry those. He asks us to surrender them to him. When I’m weary and worn it’s a reminder that I’m weighed down by things he never intended for me to bear.

I’m not a failure when I can’t stand under the weight.

That thought alone lifts my heart and gives me feet to move forward in life. How can I take my life forward when I’m dragging bowling balls of burdens behind me? I can’t. But isn’t it good to know that God doesn’t count that as a failure but rather an opportunity to surrender the burden to him?

Jesus promises he will exchange our heavy load for his light one.

He doesn’t insist we carry it, or ignore it but offers to carry it for us and let him replace our weariness and sorrow with his strength, peace and joy.

All it takes is letting it go.

Picture the commercial for letgo in which the man is hanging by one arm clinging to a truck on the side of a cliff while holding a bowling ball in the other hand. Funny, yes. But also life and death stuff here, folks.

When I take time to surrender to Jesus and let him take the burden from me, I find peace that is beyond my comprehension.

And you don’t even need an app for that.

I encourage you to embrace the idea that you have not failed and let God take over for you. And I highly recommend Mary’s new book. You can pre-order it here to enter a drawing for a chance to win a free Bible. Or get it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

I’d love to pray for you and the burdens you’ve been carrying. Let me know how I can help in the comments below or email me at laurabennet14@gmail.com

 

When Hope is Lost


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The past few months have devastated our nation with natural disasters in abundance. Fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and the tragic shooting in Las Vegas leave us reeling with anger, grief, questions and perhaps hopelessness.

One nation under God.

A nation begun by those seeking God’s ways and freedom to live in them the way they chose. A nation whose pilgrims initially embraced help with gratitude from those who lived here before them as they all celebrated the unique offerings their differences yielded.

But now that nation is torn apart.

Hatred, racism, politics, disrespect and tragic disaster reign as each person tries to fix the issues in their realm or in their own heart.  Many turn their anguish and heartache toward God with a shaking fist asking

“Where are you, God?”

I’ve certainly had my days of wondering where God is in all of this.

And I believe the answer to the question isn’t that God is absent, but that he’s present in each circumstance and life offering love, hope and something good to come out of all the bad. Maybe the good is a sense of unity like what happened in Florida and across the nation as a result of Irma. Perhaps it’s finding our neighbors and how we can help each other. It could even be someone turning to God for comfort.

God is with us.

It’s interesting to me that when good happens we are quick to point to ourselves—how we invented or accomplished or created something. But when bad happens we are quick to point at God with an accusing finger.

It’s our glory and God’s fault, right?

What if we flipped that around? What if all the mess of the world is actually us doing our own thing, going our own way, believing that we have answers and know what’s best but in reality we’re arrogantly messing things up?

What if God truly has the answers, has a way for our lives to work well, offers us good for the taking?

This side of heaven, nothing is going to fix this world. Oh, we can improve on things, feed the poor and take care of orphans and widows (just as Jesus told us to do). But since man chose to do his own thing from the beginning of creation, God turned the world over the to the father of lies, the one who kills, steals and destroys, the current ruler of earth.

Does that mean God isn’t in control?

Nope. He’s much greater than his and our enemy. His love far surpasses the evil of the world (Wonder Woman recognized it.) But he also doesn’t force anyone to follow him, love him or obey his ways. He gives us a choice. And much of the crisis in the world has been our choice.

Maybe not yours or mine in a given situation, but ours as a nation.

I love that even if we choose not to follow God, he pursues us, woos us and stays close to us waiting for us to turn around and embrace him. Like a lover—the lover of our soul desires relationship with us and longs for us. He will even allow something difficult to put up a roadblock so we will turn around and see him there with open arms.

In the end, God is our only hope.

He creates life in the face of death, streams of water in wastelands, rescue from bondage and offers an eternity in his presence. Each day, when I keep my eyes and heart focused on the One who loves me most and best, I am settled in peace and hope no matter what rages around me.

The same can be true for you.

Maybe it already is. But it’s not always without difficulty. Keeping our thoughts focused on someone we can’t see isn’t an easy task. That’s where faith comes in. Creation around us, God’s word and the testimony of others who know and follow Jesus help keep us on track. Listening to soothing music helps keep me focused.

Hope is never really lost.

We may feel hopeless at a point of crisis or loss or when we look at the devastation and wonder what we can possibly do to make a difference. But for each simple act, like a prayer or a few dollars or a bottle of water, we offer hope and our hope is restored.

After all, God, who is love, is also our hope.

If you are feeling hopeless, I would love to pray for you. Let me know in the comments below or email me at laurabennet14@gmail.com

To receive a FREE copy of Taking Your Life Forward a guide for moving ahead in your life, sign up HERE.

Am I Missing Something?


Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, CADifficult times abound.

Drought, terror, fires, disaster and personal challenges. Yesterday, I heard of a family who has been out of work for nearly three years, blown through all their severance, savings and retirement funds and don’t know how they will meet next month’s rent.

I so get it.

And as believers in an almighty amazing God, we can feel a bit lost. Right? It isn’t actually God I doubt, it’s me. Did I hear Him right? Did I miss something? Is there an area of disobedience where I thought I was obeying? Why are my husband and I hearing different things from the same God?

But recently when talking with a friend, we realized that some of the challenge is simply learning to keep our hands open or off entirely and let God do his work in his way and timing. But I confess, the journey feels a little like river rafting in rapids…without a paddle, or even a boat.

Bruised, battered, exhausted and drowning. Or so it seems.

But I’m finding that by relaxing and looking up (like floating in a pool) and going with the flow, the struggle is far less painful than fighting the current and scrambling for a handhold. (Never been in rapids before so I’m guessing here.)

And every day I’m a little surprised – okay, I know I shouldn’t be, but I am – that little pieces smooth out, fall into place or even vanish. I believe that God is sending the right help at the right time if I am at peace and ready, but not freaked out.

Close my eyes.

Focus on Jesus.

Take a deep breath…and wait…for a minute. Or five.

I think that is what God means when he says in the Bible…

Be still and know that I am God.”    Psalm 46:10

So often, what I’m missing is the presence of God. But if I just take the time to settle into it…

He’s there. Waiting.

He says he’ll quiet me with his love and sing over me because he delights in me. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I think maybe he’s saying the same thing to you.

How do you find peace when things are crazy difficult?