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.

Isolation or Hibernation?


Isolate – to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone.

Me at my desk

We may have to be isolated, but we don’t have to think of it as isolation. With technology, we can still connect with friends and family. We aren’t alone. When we go take walks or a drive in our 1991 Mazda Miata convertible, we see other people out and about. Even if we remain six feet apart, we are not detached DSC_0091completely from civilization.

What if we chose to think of our time as hibernation instead?

Hibernate – to withdraw or be in seclusion; retire.

animal animal world close up cute
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During hibernation, animals spend a season in resting, preparing, and slowing down. Their heart rate lowers, they eat less, and they are less active. Their bodies are preparing for the coming season of activity.

How does that relate to us?

What if we’re intentional about using this time to rest, slow down, focus on what matters most and prepare ourselves for a new season of activity?

Suddenly, we’ve been granted the blessing of more time with our family. Outside activities have come to a standstill. We have time to rest and reset our priorities.

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cropped-20170720_195840.jpgAnd I believe we’ve been called by God to turn our eyes to him. Seek his face. He longs for a personal, spend-time-with-me relationship with us. Jesus gave his life so we could have life. Forever with him. Whether that eternity comes now or ten years from now, the time in between is still full of hope, life, joy, peace and loving kindness with him. All characteristics we need at a time like this.

So maybe we simply need to embrace a different definition of this season. Spring always comes after winter. New strategies will arise through the creativity God placed in us. Life will continue, even in sorrow and loss. Let’s turn our hearts to the one who loves us best and most and find comfort, hope and peace in his arms.

Dream Big


IMG_3840Big dreams start with small steps.

I believe big things are coming in this new year. God has already done miracles in my marriage, family and business, and I believe he’s calling us to trust him for even more than we can hope for or imagine. (Eph. 3:20)

We have to think bigger.

Recently, in reading the passage in the Bible about Joshua and Caleb being sent with ten other men to scope out the promised land (Numbers 13), I was struck by a few things:

  1. God made a big promise – his plans were far greater than his people imagined.
  2. The land God was giving them was flowing with good things – abundance is God’s plan and promise for us.
  3. There were giants, obstacles and adversaries within the land God promised – it wouldn’t be easy, and they would have to fight for it.
  4. Only 2 of the 12 came back believing God’s promise, the other 10 chose fear instead and spread fear among their people
  5. The people had to step forward to move into the land. Just one step started the movement.

What does that have to do with me?

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) God’s promises may look different, but he is the same God able to speak what is relevant to us and make them come to fruition.

So, today, what is God whispering to your heart that he wants to do for you? Something bigger than what you think is possible?

Restoring a relationship? Starting a new business? Writing a book? Adopting a child? Overcoming an addiction?

Let’s ask God what his big dreams are for us. Let’s believe what he says – he’s the God of abundance and greatness. Let’s be willing to fight for what God promises – he will equip us and lead us to fight. Let’s speak  truth and hold onto God rather than giving way to fear. We may feel fear, but we don’t have to live in it and let it control us. Let’s be careful not to spread fear. We CAN dream big and see God deliver.

What are your big dreams? What is your first step towards it?

This is a message I received this past week from a reader. When I started writing books, it was a big dream that has taken years, tears and fighting to attain the promise, but God is faithful!
“Hi Laura,
I wanted to reach out and tell you that I just finished your book Dangerous Ground. I LOVED it so much. I read it in 3 days and never wanted to put it down. I especially loved all of the faith, and trust in God aspects you so wonderfully incorporated. It really helped me see many ways of looking for Christ in every situation. Such an amazing read. The trafficking awareness there is so important and I admire all that you did with this. I look forward to more of your books!” A.H.

Handling Grief


pexels-photo-247314.jpegIt’s been a grieving week.

I miss the presence of someone who belongs in my life very much and it grieves my heart daily that things between us are so stuck. I continue to pray and cry and praise God in the midst of the challenged relationship, but sometimes the sorrow floods over me.

And a few days ago, a dear friend went home to Jesus.

While I’m so glad for her to be in God’s presence, and so is her family, my heart breaks for them. She was a wonderful woman who befriended me, listened well and spoke volumes of wisdom in few words. Even though I moved away, she still held a special place in my heart. She will be missed greatly by all who knew her.

I’m so thankful for a God who understands our sorrows.

The Bible says that Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:35) and for the lost people in Jerusalem (Luke 13). When it came time for him to be taken and crucified, he prayed in anguish.

God says those who mourn will be comforted.

Jesus came to bind up the broken-hearted. God saves our tears. There’s an entire book in the Bible called Lamentations. Wailing and tearing their clothes was an outward show of inward grief for the Jewish people.

So why do we believe grieving is a sign of weakness?

I’ve felt foolish when I’ve needed to grieve in the past. As if tears and sorrow over a loss or trauma was not acceptable. Okay, maybe a tear shed and then, move on. But I’m learning that true grieving can look as different as each of us is unique.

Maybe we need time alone. Perhaps we grieve best with a friend simply sitting with us. Some people need to be held. Jesus went off by himself to pray to his father when John the Baptist was killed.

God’s presence is the best place to grieve.

God knows what each of us needs. Whether it’s a hummingbird or ocean waves, a mountain climb or glassy lake, he knows what comforts us. He may send a breeze, a friend with a hug, or a verse on a card. And he knows how long we need to process our grief.

Let’s not rush it.

I love that Jesus prayed for us before he died. He warned his disciples that they would weep and mourn when Jesus left them. But I love that he also said their grief would turn to joy.

Grief can’t turn into something else unless it’s grief first.

The only way for us to find joy again is to grieve first. When we grieve, we’ll be comforted. God will heal our hearts. And finally, our grief can turn into joy. God says that sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

There is a time to grieve. And a time to rejoice. Sometime we can do both at the same time. My friend is with Jesus so I rejoice for her, but I can also grieve the loss of her here. My heart breaks over my relationship that isn’t reconciled, but my God brings me joy every day.

I’m learning that grieving is good.

Right.

Fitting.

Thank you, Lord, for understanding our sorrows.

 

Are You in Chains?


woman in maroon shirt with black chain on her body
Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

“I will break the yoke of bondage from your neck and tear off the chains…”                                    Nahum 1:13

Say what?

This verse from the old testament prophet spoke of the ancient oppression of the Assyrians. The Lord promised his people that their freedom would come from his hand. So what does that have to do with us today?

We can be chained by pain from our past. Wounds caused by the actions of others whom we still haven’t forgiven or poor choices we made and their consequences, but often our bondage comes in the form of patterns we’ve developed to cope with daily life.

I love what author, Mary DeMuth, wrote in her devotional Jesus Every Day. Her words grabbed me with their simple truth.

“…the chains and yokes have become terribly familiar to me, like companions I nurture instead of anomalies I should shun. They are my normal. And so without even knowing it, I walk around shackled, and I can’t even see where they’re cutting my soul anymore.”

We all have those places that we don’t even recognize.

They can cause us to:

  • Get stuck in unhealthy ways of relating
  • Excuse our destructive behaviors
  • React unreasonably to the words or actions of others
  • Over react in common situations
  • Become isolated or suspicious of others
  • Feel haunted by our past

God wants to free us.

He uses his word, his presence and other people to do so. Connecting with a trusted, wise leader or good friend who will speak truth to us even if it hurts can reveal those hidden places of bondage and start us on a road to freedom.

Unfortunately, that can be scary.

We don’t like to be nudged outside our comfort zone. And as Mary writes in her “Chains” devotion Day 179, we like what has become normal for us because it’s how we navigate our lives.

“It’s like a comfortable blanket.”

The thing is, we might think those chained areas are secure, but they keep us from the abundant life God has for us. They keep us from good, healthy relationships with people who love us. They rob us by making our world very, very small.

So, I’m asking God to reveal those places to me that need to be freed up and changed. I’m trusting God can and will do it.

Will you join me?

 

 

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.

How to Keep on Track


DSC_0012Biking to work this week revealed more insights for moving ahead.

My path to our new work office stretches over a variety of sections of roadway. I travel through a quiet residential area to a busy road, a roundabout, another street without a bike lane, a private, peaceful gravel road and finally a long highway with a wide biking path.

It was on that last stretch that I had an “ah-ha” moment.

At every quarter mile, written in spray paint on the asphalt path, were fractions marking off the measurements. I assume the mile markers were created by a surveyor.

And was I ever grateful.

Because when I rode over the first one, I felt a glimmer or hope. I had ridden a quarter of a mile on that long stretch of highway. I looked up, but the scenery held only trees–no hint of the buildings that would promise my destination.

But before I knew it, I’d passed the next marker.

Half a mile, then three quarters of a mile and finally a mile and a quarter. I kept my focus on the road just ahead and with each marker, encouragement grew in me and so did a sense of accomplishment.

The next time I looked up, I saw my office building in the distance.

It amazed me how much shorter that ride seemed when I looked at small increments of progress rather than keeping my focus in the distance hoping for a glimpse of my future goal.

Isn’t life like that?

I believe God gives us a vision for what he has planned for us. I believe he has good things he created for us and created us for. And he gives us a sense of what those plans are. Maybe a desire in our heart or a passion for a vocation, helping a group of people or creating a solution to a problem.

But in my experience, those plans rarely happen within my time frame.

More often, I end up in what seems like a detour in my life. Writing books has taken years. Speaking to groups has been sporadic. My financial business is on hold. I was forty-seven when I finally met my husband, the man my heart adores. And now it is taking far longer than I ever imagined to work out some issues in our marriage.

Taking my life forward has starts, stops and twisting roads.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve heard God clearly. Or maybe I made a wrong turn and it’s taking longer because God is trying to get me back to where I took a path I thought was the only way to go.

Or maybe he’s developing me for the plans he has.

But what this week taught me, is that while it’s good to keep looking up and making sure I’m heading in the right direction to the vision or goal, I’ll make better progress if I’m focusing on what is right in front of me. One step at a time, one day at a time, one quarter of a mile at a time.

It’s the eating an elephant thing.

Tackling a five mile ride (okay, so I’m a little wimpy you pro-cyclists) happens each day in sections. When I get through one, I can focus on the next one. As I pass each marker, I’m that much closer to my destination.

Life is a journey.

Each plan or vision God has for us is tackled daily or sometimes hourly. Whether it’s a career choice, a relationship, or overcoming an addiction, each small step adds up to making it to our goal. And along the way, we’re being equipped to handle the challenges of that future vision.

Just like my wimpy muscles are getting stronger each day. Eventually five miles will seem like a ride around the block.

At least I hope so!

What’s a vision, goal or destination you feel is taking longer than you hoped? What can you focus on that will make the journey more hopeful and enjoyable? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or email me at laurabennet14@gmail.com

 

When Are Boundaries Good?


DSC_0057Driving after Hurricane Irma proved tricky.

The lack of street lights or traffic signals left everyone accountable for following the rules of the road without directions for when to stop, go or turn. Left turns especially created challenges because of timing. Which side should turn when? Should we turn together as a traffic light would indicate? Some folks decided they alone owned the road and made their own rules.

Accidents escalated.

City officials wisely set a curfew at 8 p.m. but many balked at the restriction, feeling inhibited by the temporary law. They seemed to believe the guidelines were set to hinder life rather than protect it. But without lights, no one could see to safely navigate around other cars or obstacles in the road especially through intersections.

One night while attempting to get to a friend’s house as dark closed in, I completely understood the reason for the curfew. The roads weren’t safe. My heart raced as I tried to navigate the turns and intersections still without power. I narrowly missed a tree in my lane. It was only a few minutes after curfew when I arrived, but that experience was enough to convince me I would never cut it that close again.

Those boundaries were created for our safety and protection not simply for the sake of the ones setting the rules to control us.

The incident reminded me of God’s commandments.

God gave us laws to create an environment for a good life. He created commandments for us to benefit us. His rules in the Bible help us know healthy things to eat, how to handle disease and environmental issues and how to deal with relationships.

His goal was to protect us and those around us out of his love for us.

Just as our Florida lawmakers didn’t sit around trying to think up laws to frustrate us after the disaster, neither did God attempt to come up with rules to control us. Rather, they both show a concern for our well-being.

In the same way, we set boundaries in everyday life.

Whether the boundary consists of keeping a child safe from oncoming cars or keeping ourselves safe from unhealthy communication or actions in a relationship, protecting ourselves and our loved ones is a positive thing.

Consider the ten commandments in light of this idea: what if God gave them not to shame us, but to help us? Like a promise to us or a covenant is what he calls it. What if we read Exodus 20:1-17 like this:

Remember that I made you and I love you. I proved this by rescuing you from people who made you slaves and treated you badly. (Historically, God is talking about leading the Israelites out of Egypt, but he does the same for us. See Exodus chapters 1-19)

Because of this:

  1. Turn to ME for help. No other god can do what I can do so it won’t help you to think there is one that can. (I Kings 18:21-39)
  2. Don’t make a god out of something thinking it will do something for you. Things that come from the earth and sky are created by me; they have no power in themselves. They don’t love you jealously like I do, as a groom loves his bride. It will not do you any good to worship (spend your time with) these idols, and it will break my heart because I really love you. If you make idols (gods), it will show me that you hate me and will cause your life and your future children’s lives to get messed up. I only want good for you because I love you, so sometimes I may discipline you to help you make choices that will bring you good. I would love it if you loved me too. (Hebrews 12:5-6)
  3. Be careful how you use my name. If you use it carelessly or as a word to swear with, you show your disrespect and disregard for me. Remember who I am. I am the Lord your God who loves you. (James 5:12)

Benefits for Us

  1. If you are respectful to your parents, you will show that you respect me. I’ve given them to you for your good and if they do not always do right or even good things for you, they must answer to me. Your job is to honor them. If you do, things will go well for you. (Ephesians 6:1-3)
  2. Rest on the seventh day after working hard the other six days. Your bodies and minds need rest and will work so much better if you let them have a break. You will be more creative and productive too! Plus, if you rest, it lets other people who serve you in various ways rest too. That seventh day should be great for you and me to spend together and begin your week well. It’s the same thing I did when I created the world so I know what I’m talking about. (Genesis 2:2)

Benefits for Others

  1. Don’t plan on killing someone even in your mind. I made people and I love everyone. People are valuable so please don’t hurt them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
  2. Recognize that marriage is a wonderful thing and should be honored and respected. Being faithful and loyal to the person someone is married to will bring them good if they honor their covenant even when it is hard. Respect the marriages of other people by encouraging them to be faithful to their spouse too. (Psalm 15:2-4)
  3. Respect others’ belongings. Don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you. Ask before you use something and return it promptly and in good condition when you are done. (Ephesians 4:28)
  4. Speak only the truth about others and situations they are involved in. Help others by being honest. (Ephesians 4:15)
  5. Be grateful for and content with what you have. Don’t keep looking at someone else’s things or abilities and want them for yourself. (James 4:1-3)

Remember that I love you because I made you and you are special to me. If you love me, like I love you and love other people like you love me and yourself, you will be able to follow these guidelines. (Matthew 22:37-40)

But when you do mess up, Jesus has you covered. It’s all good.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned…”  John 3:16-18a

Maybe it’s time to think differently about boundaries.

What is something intended to bring us good rather than harm that we’ve viewed as bad, restrictive or controlling? Are there boundaries you need to set in your life for the good of yourself or someone you love? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Nearly 20 Years Later…


Just Right
A rainy day and a backyard tree lead a little girl to discover that God made things exactly as they should be.

Sometimes moving our life forward means taking care of the past.

It all started with a silly poem I made up for my daughter, Ashley, when she was little. The poem traveled around with me, visited various illustrator possibilities and spent months pinned up on my double, sliding closet door.

In between, the being-refined poem and stack of illustrations resided in an unidentified large envelope in various drawers and cupboards making it’s way out for a few weeks or months at a time when determination overcame insecurity and fear.

I’d work on it until overwhelm set in and set up roadblocks, then I’d pack it away again in frustration. Maybe, eventually, I’d settle all the issues keeping it from moving all the way to completion.

Life’s like that sometimes, isn’t it?

We decide we want more. Something creative, better, whole or workable, but issues stand in our way. In a moment of bravery, we face the challenges and determine to set things right. Maybe we make a little progress, but get derailed by the difficulty, pain or inability to handle the questions.

Perhaps it’s a relationship that needs restoring or an addiction we want to be rid of. Or a habit that’s dug itself into our life against our will, and we desperately want it broken. Whatever it is, it can never be too late or take too long to finish.

I finished, and so can you.

The message of this little poem book is that God made things exactly right. Everything he created is the way it should be, and even though we mess things up or people mess things up for us, at the end of the day, we can rest in knowing that God is the one holding everything.

The Bible tells us that God who began a good work in us, will carry it on to completion. (Phil. 1:6) He won’t leave us hanging.

And he can make things “just right” again.

So, finally, Just Right in digital format is complete and available for FREE, but tomorrow is the last day.

But wait, that’s not all.

(LOL. I simply had to say it.) You can now also order the print copy of this rainy day, bedtime story book too!

AND if you order using this link, and send me (laurabennet14@gmail.com) some proof (copy of your receipt, an email saying you ordered, or a note on a carrier pigeon – okay, so that last one was just to see if you were paying attention, I will send you 2 freebies – my new booklet How Reading Grows Great Kids AND the Book Navigator (study/activity guide) for the book Five Children and It (book not included).

What a deal!

But the best deal of the day, is the chance you have right now to tackle something you want finished and know that God will help you get through it in his best timing. Even if it takes twenty years.

I’d love to know what you’ve completed or would like to complete that’s taken you way longer than you thought or hoped it would. Tell me your story in the comments below!

 

 

What Triggers You?


img_2087.jpg

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.