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.

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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.

The Miracle of Us


Marriage isn’t easy.

I don’t want to burst any bubbles out there, but what begins as a miracle of seemingly chance encounters and that sudden knowing that this person is the one, takes some work to maintain.

At the start, that person, who you swear you’ve always known somehow even though you’ve only just met, sweeps you off your feet. You confess you’ll never love another and  he or she is your one and only love.

If you’re anything like us, you witness miracles, maybe a dozen or more (in our case) that let you know with certainty that this is meant to be. You say yes to the proposal and the dress and begin planning your dream day. For us that happened across two continents. COVID-19 long distance has nothing on us!

The wedding is pure bliss even with its few unplanned mishaps (like our crystal champagne flutes that didn’t show up on time), and you waltz from the dance floor to the honeymoon in ecstasy.

We did. Ahh…

Then begins reality.

The moment when the fairy tale becomes real life.

The best love story comes after the wedding. I have a quote something like that framed with a picture of us a year after the wedding. The best comes when you fight through the worst. The worst of both of you, the worst circumstances, the worst heartache. All of that brings out the best of your love story.

The rest of our story will be told in Beyond the Miracle: When the FairDSC_0002y Tale Meets Reality, but until its release (projected for May 2021), we celebrate the now of this year’s anniversary with a throw-back to where it all began.

In honor of our eleventh anniversary, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater is FREE on Amazon for your holiday weekend reading.

Get your e-book copy here.

What are some of your wedding or marriage miracles?

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.

Different, Not Wrong


Photograph Laura Bennet - artist unknown

Photography Laura Bennet – artist unknown    (Do you see a waterfall or a flat surface?)

My husband and my first golf experience revealed a core issue in our marriage.

My husband plays golf. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s good at it. Unlike me, who has been on a golf course twice. And, I spent more time playing in the cart than in the game.

However, my dad taught me all he knows about golf. He’s good at it.

Despite my lack of actual course experience, I’ve hit dozens of balls on the driving range (I’m not even counting putting on miniature golf courses). I know how to hold the club and keep the arm straight and knees slightly bent. I’m not saying I’m consistent or good, but still…

So how did what should have been a pleasant activity turn into a forced, disappointing situation? Why did our fun evening digress into an argument? Brendan thought his experience would benefit me. I decided to stick with what I had been taught.

We both wanted to do things our way and couldn’t see the other’s perspective.

It seems we aren’t the ones who coined this dilemma. From what I understand, many people struggle with the same issue. World conflicts, politics and the ongoing argument of which way to load a dishwasher are proof. Knives down, people!

Whether it’s about golf or any other number of situations, we both have understanding and opinions based on legitimate past experience and information. Even if it’s not the same, they’re both valid.

Neither is wrong or right, they’re just different.

In a healthy relationships, we do the following:

  1. Listen to the other person’s experience and perspective
  2. Validate that the other person’s view is legitimate even if we don’t share it
  3. Be open to considering the other view as a way to broaden ours
  4. Be willing to compromise when it will better serve the relationship
  5. Choose the best way for each of us given the new information
  6. Voice our position calmly, honestly and without condescension, excuse or defense
  7. Allow the other person to choose their way without judging or criticizing them

We’re still figuring out the healthy way.

Those opposites that attracted us often lead to frustration as well. Initially, I appreciated that my husband’s strong opinions could stand in the face of mine, but later I discovered  I didn’t like being challenged. Both of us believed the other one should hold our same perspective without any question.

I don’t think either of us were often very open to the other’s perspective.

The good thing is it’s never too late to change. Being in relationship, whether a marriage or with a friend, family member or co-worker challenges us to become better people. It broadens our scope of how we see life. It makes us compassionate. That’s why God created us for community.

The Bible puts it this way:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

Our last golf experience during Father’s Day was better. We encouraged each other, let the other person do things as they wished, and I asked Brendan for some help. Well, maybe once.

I guess we have grown some.

You can read more of the story along with the miracles God did to connect us online and bring my Australian husband to America in The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater.

What Triggers You?


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No, I’m not talking about guns.

(But fun picture, isn’t it?)

Milan and Kay Yerkovich define a trigger as

…a strong reactive feeling about something that is happening in the present, a feeling turbocharged by a hurt in the past.”

Ever have one of those?

Yeah, I thought so.

It took me years to understand that when my reactions to situations or people were far greater or stronger than the setting warranted, it meant that some hurt or trauma from my past was amplifying my current emotions. I did learn to recognize the pattern, and it has helped me navigate my life better. But today, I discovered through reading How We Love, that ANYTHING can be a trigger.

Anything?

Apparently, and it makes sense why communication in relationships can spiral out of control so quickly and easily. If the tone of someone’s voice, or their opinion, attitude or behavior can trigger an unexpected, agitating reaction in me, then I can become defensive or angry at the other person whether they said or did something good or bad in that moment.

Even my sincere, valid emotions can trigger another person.

Wow. I had no idea.

Perhaps because of what that person has suffered and not fully dealt with in the past, my comment or start of a conversation that to me is neutral, or my sharing a feeling about something that occurred during the day or my tone of voice because of that situation can cause the other person to react negatively.

I probably wonder why they are reacting and may take it personally. After all, if I don’t know what is happening for them, and don’t know to ask, it seems reasonable that their response is directly related to me.

So I respond in a defensive manner.

They do likewise. I react back. See how that happens? We’ve now set a pattern of communication which is not desired, nor intended, but spins out of control leaving both parties shaking their heads in confusion, hurt and disbelief.

Crazy, huh?

Well, the good news is if we are aware of triggers in ourselves and others, we can deal with our past and have grace for the other person’s stuff. Maybe we can even help each other by using the following practical tools to build rather than destroy our relationship.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Settle yourself. Take a brief time out if necessary.
  3. Ask yourself three things:

When have I felt this way in the past? Who was I with? What soul words describe my reaction? What would I like to say to that person (in the past)?

See, that wasn’t too hard, was it?

Okay, so it’s not always easy, and it can be painful. But the benefits to removing triggers by dealing with these issues is two-fold. We become healed and stronger, and we develop healthier relationships.

But there’s also a third benefit.

If we share those feelings with our spouse, and willingly listen to them share with us, we’ll build trust and a stronger, more intimate bond with them.

That’s a win-win.

I credit the Yerkovich’s with all these insights. I’ve been sharing what I’m learning from their book, How We Love. The great thing is that our church has been presenting a series on marriage called, A Love that Lasts. Our pastor’s teaching lines up with this as well.

I don’t believe that is coincidental.

As our pastor, Matt Keller, has shared (and I agree) we have an enemy who is out to destroy every marriage. Marriage is the foundation of community. There is a power in family that can’t be denied. That’s because the union between a man and woman was created by God as a picture of his relationship through Jesus Christ with his bride, the church.

Satan hates us and anything that displays God’s love for us.

So if you thought even for a moment that the enemy I mentioned in the earlier paragraph is your spouse, think again. Our enemy is Satan. But oh, how he’ll use each of us to hurt the other one if we let him.

But our spouse isn’t the enemy.

I for one am going to work hard to remember that, to deal with the triggers in my life and be open to the probability that triggers cause grief for my spouse as well. And other people with whom I interact.

Maybe that’s why God has grace for us, and asks us to love others the same way.

I’ve linked a number of resources in this post. I’d love to know in the comments below if you find any of them helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

Can You Relate?


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Moving our life forward means navigating relationships.

This week someone introduced me to a website with tests and tools for discovering our style of relating in relationships based on our past experiences.

“Your childhood relational experiences are wired into your behaviors and beliefs, creating imprints called “love styles.”

The couple, Milan and Kay Yerkovich, who created the site were frustrated by their inability to relate well during the first fourteen years of their marriage. When they examined their lives, they discovered some interesting insights.

After years of struggling and research, they developed their quiz and passed on the information they learned. I took the test and learned some valuable things about myself.

I believe this is worth exploring.

Check out howwelove.com and take the quiz. I’d love to read about your results in the comments below!

How to Rebuild Your Life


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Corinth, Greece

Today I’m sharing an adaptation of a popular post I wrote a few years ago. It seems to have been helpful then, and I think it is relevant in new ways at this time in our nation and our individual lives.

There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah. 

He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.

I love this story for a number of reasons. 

First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.

I believe that’s how God feels about us.

Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed. Words can communicate compassion, but action shows love.

God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.

Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.

I’ve heard those same lies so many times.

At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.

So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.

Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:

  1. Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
  2. Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
  3. Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
  4. Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect marriage” ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me. I stayed in a place God had tried to release me from and didn’t ask me to stay in.
  5. Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy us and our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.

Rebuilding our lives can be scary.

We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.

Rebuilding happens one day at a time.

We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks

Do you have what you need today? Can you believe I’ve got a good plan?

The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives.

His plan rarely turns out to be what we think we need or want.

It’s actually far better. The marriage I once tried so desperately to hold together fell apart. My ex-husband went his own way, but about eight years later God brought me an incredible man – my true love and soul mate . We will celebrate our eighth anniversary in a couple of months. (Read our story.)

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My one and only love – Brendan

God continues to rebuild our lives and the lives of our seven children and nine grandchildren. We are committed to an amazing church family where we are growing and able to serve others in our community.  While we still have struggles, God is bringing such healing and joy to our daily lives. We praise him for the way he has redeemed our past and rebuilt on the ruins.

How is God rebuilding your life?

Is Your Foundation Crumbling?


laura-half-moon-bay-026For those of us raised in church we remember the song about the man who built his house on the sand. When the rains came down, as preschoolers we delighted in smashing the house.

But the truth of that song can’t be denied.

Anyone who builds a house knows how important a strong foundation is. Living previously in Southern California, I’ve watched enough beach houses clinging to the side of a sandy cliff, crumble into the sea!

Not good.

And the same principle applies to many areas of life, right?

Marriage. Parenting. Friendship. Business.

All require a solid foundation. Thank God, he has an answer for that. (Are you surprised?)

We’re in the book of Luke (6:12 & 19, 46-49). Jesus has gone off and spent the night talking to God, his Father. When he comes back he has power to heal people, deliver them from demons and teach them. He had to spend time with God, in his presence, before he was equipped to carry out his daily life.

Jesus tells us to start with a firm foundation.

He says that there are 3 things that will lay that solid and deep foundation:

  1. Come to Jesus – Hang with him. Spend time in his presence.
  2. Hear his words – Don’t let them pass over, or read them without taking them in.
  3. Put his words into practice – Do what he says, and you will be on solid ground.

Jesus is a rock. Our rock.

He’s happy to have us stand on him, cling to him, even lie down and soak up some rays. No matter what storm or flood comes, we can stand firm when we’ve claimed a spot on the rock. Otherwise, life’s storms will destroy us.IMG_1131.JPG

Our power and strength come from being with God.

If you don’t know Jesus or call him your Lord, what a great way to start the New Year! He’s waiting for you to recognize your need for him, confess your sinfulness and receive his great love and forgiveness to take you forward into a solid way of life.

If that is you, getting solid is as easy as this:

Jesus, I acknowledge you are the Son of God. I need you. I’ve done things my own way, but I’ve been wrong. I want to turn around to you and your ways. Thank you for forgiving me by your death and making a way for me to be with you by your resurrection. Amen.

If you’ve decided to make Jesus the foundation of your life, please let me know at laurabennet14@gmail.com. I’d love to celebrate with you!

Moving into Maturity


In the aftermath of election drama, social media feeds rant for both sides.Kookaburras at Australia Zoo

Some are elated, some disappointed. But it seems the most beneficial stance for all of us no matter how we feel about the outcome is to wait and see.

The Bible tells us,

Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth. (Prov.27:1)

In the meantime, how can we each move forward?

The author of Hebrews 5 gives us some insight. It instructs us to:

  • Deal gently with people.

We are all subject to weakness. (vs.2) Regardless of our beliefs, we can show maturity and love to others when we are slow to anger and speak with grace and gentleness. We all do or think things that may not make sense to someone else. We can all get stuck. Go easy on each other.

  • Focus on growing in maturity.

Every struggle in life gives us the opportunity to get mad or get better. Do I want to become cynical and bitter? Or would I rather improve to be a better version of myself? To increase our maturity Hebrews 5:8-14 says we can do these three things:

  1. Cry out to God in reverent submission. Understand that God has all the answers. We may think we know what’s best. We may be convinced we know. But when we lay our understanding down and look for God’s view we will find some pretty significant “ah ha” moments.

 

  1. Hold onto the truth we’ve learned about righteousness and live it out. Put it into practice. Is it right to speak kindly? Forgive? Not hold a grudge? Consider another viewpoint? Hold my tongue? Then do that.

 

  1. Train ourselves. Yeah, becoming mature takes practice. Like going to the gym. We don’t always like it. It’s inconvenient, and we get sweaty and tired. Sleeping or television is so much more appealing. But if I want to be strong and healthy, I’ve got to exercise my muscles. If I want to have a good attitude, be a blessing to people and show Christ’s love, I have to practice doing those things. And the result is being able to hear God more clearly and more often.

 

How do I apply this today?

Here’s my example:

I’ve allowed the bad habit of using swear words on occasion when I become hurt and angry in a discussion with my husband. It’s wrong. It may be a vehicle that temporarily dissipates some of my anger, but it doesn’t help me, my husband or our marriage. It is destructive and offers nothing positive.

I have a choice.

  • I can hold my tongue.
  • Count to ten.
  • Say I need a break.
  • Go for a quick walk.

 

Any of those options allow me to consider how to use gentleness, ask God for help and listen more carefully to what‘s happening beneath the surface of our argument. In my husband’s heart and mine. This past week I decided that I Will. Not. Do. That. Again. Ever.

Practice. Choose. Practice. Choose. Practice.

Leads to better choices.  And maturity.

Enough said.

Can you think of an area you can apply this to and move forward into more maturity?