RACHEL’S SON


Rachel's Son Book Cover (2)An Easter story of redemption

Rachel’s only son, two-year-old Micah, is slaughtered by Roman soldiers searching for the prophesied Messiah, sending her life on a trajectory of angry bitterness and further devastation.

Titus, a Roman soldier, harbors a terrible secret and would do anything to rid himself of the guilt he carries. But when circumstances force him to revisit the place of his treacherous deed he can’t reveal the truth.

Unexpectedly thrown together, Rachel and Titus both seek peace, but finding it with each other isn’t enough. Only an encounter with Jesus can force them to face the trauma of their past.

Will Titus release the burden he’s concealed? And what will it take for Rachel to forgive the Forgiver and find life again?

A Sneak Peak


A Journey of Broken FaithRachel's Son Book Cover (2)

I’m all about taking our lives forward into more abundance. When we deal with our past, God can heal us, offer us hope and redeem the broken places in our heart. That’s why I’m so excited about my new book, Rachel’s Son. Rachel’s heart has been broken by the murder of her son, and that’s not the only challenge she faces.

As a result, she’s shattered and lost, not understanding God or his purposes. She can’t get past the pain to find freedom, love and life again.

Ever felt that way?

Yeah, I have too. But what I’ve learned is that by pushing through the pain, not hiding it, ignoring it, denying it or burying it, we will step into an abundance of joy. But it’s not easy. It’s scary. And it hurts. It may even feel as if we won’t survive.

It may take us months, or years or decades, but when we finally decide to step through, like pushing through the wardrobe or sea in Naria, we will learn to live again.

“The deeper my past sorrow, the greater my present joy.”  Simeon, Rachel’s Son

Rachel’s journey is a grueling one, maybe like yours and mine have been. But with God there is hope, healing and redemption.

Rachel’s Son releases on March 20th. I thought you might like a sneak peak 😉

“‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’”          Matthew 2:18

Chapter 1

Rachel pulled a loaf of crusty bread from the fire as the ground began to quake. Terrifying reverberations shattered the morning peace. Thundering hooves. Neighing horses. The roar of an approaching army.

Micah!

She dropped the bread and lurched for the front door.

Within seconds an army flooded the village. Soldiers on horseback pounded through the street, weapons ready. Children scattered, mothers screaming their names. A two-year-old lay trampled in the dirt. Another ran, wailing. A soldier speared him through the back. A man jumped off his steed and forced his way into the home next door. Rachel’s neighbor shrieked, “My baby, my baby!”

The soldier reappeared, blood covering his hands.

Rachel froze, her knees buckled beneath her.

“Micaaaah!” She stumbled into the road, darting between horses, “Micah!” A roughened hoof clipped her hip. She fell to her knees and crawled out of its path. Dust caked her face, the stench of blood suffocating her.

Her closest friend, Elisabeth, staggered from her house, the battered body of her baby son in her arms. Her keening tore through Rachel’s heart.

“Stop!” Rachel forced herself to her feet. “Stop!”

A grim soldier scooped up a toddler and dashed his brown, curly head against the stone wall of his home. A woman laid crumpled outside her door, a swaddled baby in her arms. Their blood pooled together in the dirt.

Bile rose in Rachel’s throat. Chest heaving, her muddled thoughts rushed over each other in a torrent. The only clarity in the chaos was the certainty that Micah was dead.

She dodged around the corner of their house. Her worst fear materialized. His chubby little hand still clutched a stone he had been playing with. A shriek pushed out of her.

“Nooo!”

“Oh, dear Jehovah, please no.” A bleak whisper tumbled from her lips as she stumbled to his body now crumbled in a tiny crimson heap. She fell on her knees in the wet dirt where earlier he had played, stacking rocks and chattering to himself.

“Miicaaah!” The scream burst from her lips as she scooped him up, hugging him to her chest.

“Oh, Micah.” She wailed, rocking his bloody body back and forth.

Her only son. Her miracle from Jehovah.

Why? Why? Her heart screamed. What kind of war was waged against helpless, innocent children?

Look for Rachel’s Son on Amazon March 20th. The digital version will be FREE for a limited time.

For updates as well as behind the scenes information and extra material not found on the blog, sign up for my email list here.

 

The Third “D” Word


IMG_4658Ever feel like smashing something?

I certainly have. And I have smashed, slammed, thrown and torn up things. Sometimes our pain lashes out in rage. Whether it’s with words or objects, towards others or ourselves, destruction is never a healthy answer to our distress.

But how do I stop?

In the book of Romans, Paul says

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…for what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.”  Romans 7:15 & 19

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. Me too.

We ALL struggle with feelings of depression, despair and even destruction. Even if our destructive patterns are “minor” like not taking care of ourselves – overworking, eating poorly, not getting enough good sleep – or something more serious like abusing alcohol or drugs or cutting our body, the underlying issue is a lack of a healthy view of our value. Paul’s answer in that letter to the Romans was that Christ is the one who saves me. He makes a way for us where there seems to be no way.

So how do I get a handle on my destructive behavior?

  • Discover your value. You are loved. God created you to be special, unique and he wants a relationship with you. Write out the words to I Corinthians 13:4-8 as a love letter from God. “God is patient with (insert your name). He is kind to (your name). etc. Then write the same verses out to yourself. For example, mine reads: Laura is patient with herself. She is kind to herself. Eventually, I started reading “I’m not easily angered with myself.” Read this every day until it sinks in. God is love. He loves you. Love yourself. (I can’t take credit for this – my counselor had me do this.)
  • Discover the root of your anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. What is underneath?  Are you hurt, disappointed, frustrated? Feeling betrayed, abandoned or scared? It takes some work, but the next time you feel angry, try to stop and consider what is really going on under the surface of that rage.
  • Deal with your past. Past pain reveals itself in present problems. It may hurt, but any destructive behavior is adding to your pain, not relieving it.
  • Realize you have choices. Often we feel the compulsion to destroy because it gives us a sense of control. Especially for those of us who were in abusive situations where we were being controlled by someone who hurt us, as adults we now find we can take charge. But often we are taking control as adults with child feelings and action. When we understand that we now have choices to make, we will feel less out of control.
  • Ask for help. When you let a couple of trusted individuals know you’re struggling and ask them to hold you accountable, you’ll find that the compulsion loses some of its power. That’s because hidden things control us, but revealed things that are let into the open offer freedom. Think of a festering sore. If you kept it wrapped up in an old, dirty bandage, infection would set in and cause further damage. But letting in light, air and cleaning it out creates an environment for healing. It’s the same with our wounded hearts.
  • Last, but certainly not least, is understanding and accepting that we have an enemy who hates us because God loves us. Satan wants to hurt God and if he can destroy God’s children, it breaks God’s heart. The enemy wants us to be like him – destructive to ourselves and others. He wants to keep us in pain, bondage and away from our loving Father. The more we move forward, the harder he will try to hold us back. But knowing this is empowering. God can do all things. He’s bigger than the bad guys.

I’m not an authority.

And this list isn’t exhaustive. But these are a few things that have really helped me. Oh, and one last thing…remember it took us time to get messed up so it will take time to become free. I slammed a door the other day. My fear and frustration got a hold of me before I could get a handle on it.

It’s been a few months since I’ve done that. And as I was forceful with the car door, I realized it. Fear produces adrenaline and adrenaline seeks fight or flight. I fought with the door. But I’m learning to deal with the feelings first or remove myself from certain situations.

That’s actually progress. 

I just don’t want you to think I’ve got it all together. 😉

If you’re struggling with destructive behavior of any kind and you’d like to connect, shoot me (no, wait) I mean send me an email at laurabennet14@gmail.com or comment below.

 

Are You Being Restored?


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A friend, my son and I remodeled a house once.

Planning and designing a new layout for the kitchen, closing in a breakfast nook for a bedroom, re-structuring the fireplace and a bathroom counter afforded hours of fun. Trips to the store for paint swatches, granite and tile felt like an adventure.

And then the actual work began.

At first, we jumped in full of enthusiasm. Even moving the kitchen temporarily to the dining room didn’t deflate our excitement. At least, not until about the third week when dust covered everything in the house, and painting the cabinet doors required an extra coat of paint. Or when standing on a ladder painting crown molding left us with aching arms.

In the end, the place looked amazing and we were proud of our hard hours of labor, but during the process, we often lamented the time, effort and expense of such extensive projects. Exhausted and paint spattered, we spent many evenings sprawled across dusty furniture (somehow not protected by the plastic sheeting we’d erected) wondering if we had what it would take to finish.

I think moving our life forward can be like restoring or remodeling a house.

My life is currently in a state of restoration. I didn’t expect it take this long. (We never do.) But I’m reminded of that project we accomplished and the house shows I love watching like Property Brothers or Fixer Upper. I think there is a correlation.

Sometimes your pipes are leaking. Or a joist is rotted. Maybe the plumbing has rusted through or the electrical wiring is shot. We don’t also see those problems until we’re in the midst of a remodel.

But I trust that God sees all the issues that need fixing in my life.

Each day I ask him to reveal what the current project is and wait for his instruction. Maybe it’s being open to thinking differently about something. Perhaps I need to have a hard conversation with someone. I may need to repent of a behavior, apologize to someone I’ve hurt or forgive a person for hurting me.

At times it requires me digging into the past.

A closet (our heart) can only hold so much junk before it spills out. Wounds from the past can be rotting away a place in our heart like unseen water leaks ruin wood. Old thought patterns can be like wiring that is no longer up to code with a potential to start a devastating fire.

Viewing my life like an old house gives me hope.

If Chip and Joanna Gaines can take a falling apart disaster and turn it into a beautiful, special masterpiece, then God can certainly do the same with my life. It may turn out differently or take a little longer than I expect, but His handiwork is incomparable. He’s in the business of redemption.

Where is your life being restored?

For those who love old house restoration, here’s a link with and interesting story and some great advice:

https://www.oldhouseonline.com/articles/11-tips-for-surviving-a-restoration

Feel Like Your Life is in the Gutter?


monterey ca

Ever question the choices you make?

Do you wonder why you act the way you do? Or react in certain ways? Do you find yourself in the middle of a road rage moment, a fight with your spouse or yelling at your best friend and question how you got there?

Like, what just happened?

I’m discovering that most of us have. And while it’s bewildering to experience those situations, it’s even more surprising to learn what causes them. Not just that we’re sinful creatures or lacking self-control, although those certainly explain a lot.

The underlying secret is imprints.

So, what’s an imprint you say? I’m glad you asked. An imprint is an impression or a groove in your soul created by prolonged or traumatic experiences in childhood. Especially during those “formative” years.

Imagine pushing your hand into wet cement.

After it dries, the cement hardens with your hand print forever imprinted in it. Or think about cars (or wagons in the old days) driving through mud on the the same road. Eventually the traffic forms a rut.

Our impressionable young lives take on imprints.

All parents do the best they can with what they have. Some do better or worse than others. But let’s say you had a parent who showed great affection and enthusiasm only when you did well in sports or brought home good grades. You subconsciously become a performer for love and attention.

Or suppose you suffered some kind of abuse, lost a parent or sibling, survived cancer or saw your father beat your mother. Perhaps your parents were addicted to drugs, sex or alcohol. To survive trauma and constantly stressful situations, children adapt the way they relate to compensate for something they can’t handle.

Imprints.

The rough part is that if we don’t know this (few people do) and never deal with whatever issues caused these impressions on us, we will act and react in the same unhealthy ways as adults without even being aware of it. And we’ll hurt ourselves and others including our children in the process.

This is why I’m so thankful for  a book I mentioned a few months ago called How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage by Milan & Kay Yerkovich. They set out to figure out why, when they both loved each other, they couldn’t seem to make their marriage work.

But this book isn’t only for married couples.

Everyone can benefit. I read a lot of various books, but no book has helped me like this one in dealing with the bottom line issues of my soul. (Okay, besides the Bible.) I’ve been to counseling over the years. I talk a lot about my feelings and questions, and I thought I’d figured most of it out.

Now I understand the depth of the even the little things.

Why I react the way I do in certain situations. How I think about other people and why. The way I use anger as a defense, and an explanation for why I can suddenly explode in rage at times when I’m a generally optimistic, happy person. Why I’m afraid to speak truthfully to some people, and why saying “no” used to be so difficult.

I can’t tell you all of it here.

Go to www.howwelove.com and take the quiz. Find out your “love style.” Order the book on their website. Read it alone, with a spouse, a friend or in a group and work through the workbook in the back. Take your time. Cry, pray and keep pressing through it. God will use it to reveal your pain and bring you healing and freedom.

You will not be sorry.

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything for this. I don’t get paid anything for promoting or if you buy the book. The authors have never heard of me. These opinions are based on my own gratitude and excitement. I wish I could offer a money back guarantee.

What’s your style…if you feel courageous enough to share?

 

Facing Our Pain


068I’ll come straight to the point.

I’ve come to recognize other women like myself who have tried to protect themselves by denying the truth of trauma, abuse or sexual addiction in their lives or their spouses’ lives. But the protection we think we create actually prolongs our pain and hurts those we love as well. Yes, it is painful to deal with our experiences, both present and past, but the cost down the road is much greater if we don’t.

I wish I could shout it.

Look at the fruit of our denial in our children.  I understand the despair, but we can’t be afraid to look at the truth. When we struggle, lost in a hurting, hopeless world, our children also take on our pain. Even if we aren’t aware or think we will keep them from it.

I know. I’ve been there.

I put my kids through hell because I allowed myself to be blind to the abuse in which we were living. I am to blame for my choices that put us there and kept us trapped. Even years later, my heart aches for them. I failed miserably to give them a solid foundation of what healthy relationships look like. They went into their adulthood with tremendous pain and anger behind them and little training of how to navigate a future marriage.

I’ve watched them live my broken life in many ways.

I never intended for my kids to take that kind of past into their future. The pain inflicted upon them was far greater than I imagined. I didn’t realize how badly they were hurt because of the trauma of their parents’ lives.

But I was more afraid of facing my past pain…

…more afraid of being divorced than of an abusive marriage…

…more afraid of what people thought than what my children needed…

…more afraid of my shame than if my family functioned well…

We can’t even count the price for those choices, and the longer it goes on, the higher the cost, as if interest is added.

But there’s good news.

Surrender and repentance changes everything.

God waits for us to surrender to him so he can uncover our festering wounds, bind them with his loving touch, and lead us into a place of healing and wholeness.

We must be willing to open our eyes to the truth, repent of bad choices and turn around into a new way of thinking and living.

God promises us that when we come to him in broken repentance and surrender, he doesn’t condemn or shame us. His love for us, exhibited through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, covers us, soothes our soul and protects us with true safety.

However, doing so requires a difficult choice for us.

We must let go of our pride, fear and self-reliance. We must step out in faith with even a tiny step, believing that God will meet us as he promises. We must allow ourselves to experience the pain of our past and present, grieve the losses and move into our future.

But the exchange for us and our families is worth it.

I think of it like this:

When one of my children was very young, they couldn’t grasp the concept of exchanging their pennies for a coin of equal value. Five pennies seemed much better to them than a nickel, two nickels trumped a dime and no way would they give up any combination of coins for a quarter!

Our perception of what we are giving up is skewed by our limited understanding.

And God gives us even more than an equal share! He offers us a massive sundae dripping with fudge and topped with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry if we will hand over our McDonald’s soft serve cone.

There’s really no comparison, is there?

Be brave. Take action. Step into your future and shed your past.

Make a way for generations after you to be healthier, happier and living a hot fudge sundae life.

How Transparent Are You?


“Being transparent is not always easy, but it’s healing and can be a blessing to others.”           Jerry Rose

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Jelly fish at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Monterey, CA

The November 2016 issue of Today’s Christian Living offered a great article by Jerry and Shirley Rose titled The Power of Authenticity. The couple talked about being real with others when we face difficult situations in our lives, and how it can open up lines of communication as well as create a place for others to feel safe in being vulnerable.

I experienced this when speaking at a women’s retreat a number of years ago.

Our team sensed we needed to be vulnerable in sharing the broken places of our pasts and how God was redeeming those places. Our stories offered hope to hurting women, most of whom had never opened up and shared any specific suffering of their lives before this event.

After our team bared our souls to these women, one by one they approached us to pour out their hearts to us and request prayer.

Lives were touched.

Aching hearts were healed.

New relationships began.

It was an experience I will never forget. The impact on my life equaled if not exceeded the change in those I spoke to and prayed for. I still carry those women collectively in my heart and pray for them.

Our progress forward can stall when we hide our failings, hurts and secrets.

In the above mentioned article, Jerry Rose shared his own story about having hearing loss that he refused to deal with until it began to cause problems in his work and relationships. When he finally made the decision to be honest about his situation and get help, he says it was “incredibly freeing.”

Being up front about his challenges meant he no longer had to work so hard at hiding.

Jerry states that once we embrace and name our problems, we can “move forward toward healing.”

He says,

“Whatever it is you are hiding, ask God to help you to be honest with yourself and have the courage to bring those secrets into the light of day. That is where true healing and ministry can happen.”

Taking our life forward means being honest with ourselves and others about our stuff.

Not only do we move ahead in our lives, but our transparency helps others grow too.

I call that a win, win!

Your turn. What area of your life do you need to open up about? Is there a time when you shared something that made someone else feel safe about telling their stuff too?

Post a comment or contact me @ laurabennet14@gmail.com if you’d like to share in private.

Are You Struggling?


My personal interpretation of Psalm 6:

God, please don’t be angry with me because I’m weak right now. I’m struggling to trust you and not be afraid when my situation looks bleak and frightening. I need your healing.

I know your love never fails so I ask you to save me. I know you love me. Please deliver me.

If I die, how can I praise you? And I feel like I will die because my enemies are out to do me harm. Their actions leave me weeping and groaning on my bed.

But God hears me and will deal with my enemies. He will be merciful to me even as I struggle through this.

David, who wrote this Psalm, had real time enemies.

His father-in-law, King Saul, had betrayed him. He asked David to sing to him and then threw his spear at David to kill him. On Saul’s “bad” days, he was chasing David down with an army. On his good days, Saul told David he loved him and was sorry. And that’s only part of the story! (see 1 Samuel in the Bible)

Some of us have been in relationships like that, haven’t we?

Our enemies may be people in our life, destructive or negative thoughts or actual circumstances. No matter what the physical reality is, the spiritual reality is that our enemy is Satan and his demonic forces.  Real events affect us in real ways, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Satan uses those events to destroy us and whispers lies to enforce the negative impact.

God embraces us in those events to bring comfort, healing and a deeper knowledge of his love and power.

God understands our struggles. He doesn’t condemn us for them. And when we call out to him for help, he will show us love and mercy, and He will save us.

What is your struggle today?

In the Image of God


I just finished a great book.

Not only did the riveting writing make it a great read, but the impact of the message kept me wanting more. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters drew me in as if I were making new friends, and I cared about their struggles. The author did a fabulous job of giving just enough plot sprinkled with back story to make me feel like I was reading a mystery. But there’s nothing mysterious about the truth presented. We are created in the image of God.

The unfolding story subtly gripped my heart.

The next thing I knew, tears were falling. Especially when I came to these excerpts:

He hasn’t treated me with respect. He wanted to use me for his own purposes. He wasn’t interested in what’s best for me. I can forgive him for that, but I don’t have to be in relationship with him. I don’t want to let him treat me, one of God’s creations, like that.

And…

All those things she said…they came from hurt. Deep, piercing pain. And I was never strong enough to stand against the power of that pain when it came out in her words.

Read it for yourself and see how it speaks to you.  Invisible

Thanks, Ginny. I have a feeling you wrote out of a place of your own pain. God’s using you to heal.

What is a book that has changed your perspective of yourself?

HEALING: To Be or Not to Be?


That is a good question.

Anyone who’s ever been sick thinks of getting well. And as Christians who follow a Savior known as the Healer, we pray for it, claim it andDSC_0128 stake our faith on it.

But what happens when healing doesn’t come?

Or at least, not healing as we’d like it.

It’s been almost a year since I began feeling consistently unwell. This is the second year since my husband, Brendan, and I have been married. Two yearlong illnesses in less than five years. Not quite how I envisioned our newlywed life.

I can point at all the underlying issues: mold, stress, a driven way of life; but I also still believe God holds my health as well as my life in his hands.

He can heal instantly.

I’ve experienced him healing me a few times pretty much within minutes of someone praying for me. But I’ve also struggled with illness for more than a few weeks. He has healed my emotional wounds both in the moment I realized them and asked, and in decades of slow motion. I’ve known people who have been healed from debilitating diseases like cancer, and those who have died from them. All those folks believe God is sovereign and holds their life as precious and valued.

So what gives?

Here are my current conclusions:

  1. God cares most about our relationship with him. We are spiritual beings living in a physical world—someday purposed to spend eternity with him. While he cares immensely about our illness, wounds and brokenness, he most cares how it will draw us and others closer to him, and show him to those who haven’t yet met him. Is my illness bringing me closer to the Lord? Absolutely. I have a friend who suffers from a life-long illness. He claims he is a different person as a result, and while he would love to feel well all the time, he is grateful for the way God has used his illness to change him. I’m grateful too. For both of us.
  2. God wants to heal us. And he will. Whether today, in two months or in heaven, we will all be whole and with new bodies someday. The question isn’t whether God can or will, it’s what will I do with my illness in the meantime? Continue to ask for healing, while asking what I can learn in the process. Look to the Lord for what is most important today. Thank him for whatever he is using my illness to accomplish. I must keep focused on the good, the positive, the hopeful, all the way to the grave whenever that day comes. I can easily get discouraged from day to day based on whether I feel well or not if I don’t keep my eyes and heart on Jesus.
  3. Sometimes well-meaning people don’t see the big picture. Remember Job’s friends? I have to be willing to listen to advice, but ultimately God is my leader. I have to keep asking him what he wants for me in each given day, or hour or sometimes moment. I can’t do something because I’m concerned about what other people will think.                                                                                                      Last night I planned on attending an event at our church. I wanted to be there to serve, support my family, see my children and grandchildren, and interact with my church family; but midway through the day, I knew I shouldn’t go. I prayed, hoping the little nudge I felt to stay home and rest was imagined. But the more I wrestled over it with the Lord, the more I knew the answer. I kissed my husband and children goodbye and curled up with a bowl of veggie soup, praying for the event to make people feel safe and welcomed by the Holy Spirit on a night filled with evil. I worried briefly about what others might say about my not being there. I felt a little sad to not partake of the creative way our church campus was transformed into an adventure in space. But I knew I was where God wanted me. Resting and praying.
  4. I want my time of being ill to glorify God. My faith has been so strengthened and encouraged by people who have battled or continue to battle in the face of terrible illness or heartbreak—most far worse than mine. When I see the way those people carry on, loving Jesus with abandon, trusting him with each moment of each day even in the pain and tears, I feel empowered. I feel the spirit of God. Thank you Jo, Jeff, Margaret, Ashli, Dabney, Bill, Brian, Jen, Pamela, Ariana, Sharon, and so many others. Your lives testify of God’s goodness in the midst of a broken world.

I don’t have all the answers. I haven’t been fully healed—yet. But God is good and is teaching me to be more like him. Isn’t that the point?

 
If you disagree with me, or have some of your own conclusions, I’d love to hear about them.