Choosing to Focus on Our True Beauty

Woman holding her face in her hands

Social awkwardness finds me. In fact, the more I try to avoid it, the more inevitable it is to come. I’m the girl who packs my daughter’s shoes instead of mine to a weekend writer’s conference, only to discover they’re about half a size too big—enough to cause them to slip, very unglamorously, with every step.

I’m the girl who discovers, after a speaking engagement, that my lipstick turned my teeth bright pink.

And I’m the woman who once attended the Cattle Baron’s Ball in North Platte Nebraska wearing glittery pumps and a full-on gown.

I wanted to look beautiful. To stand out.

I did, but so not in the way I’d hoped.

So, there I was, a grown woman looking like a prom queen wanna-be, surrounded by a bunch of cowboys. Standing in the middle of that hay-covered barn, the aroma of horse manure mingling with grilled hotdogs, I was mortified, and wanted to go home immediately. I told my husband that very thing, Again and again, stomping my sparkling, mud-covered shoe for emphasis. Maybe I hoped if I tapped them hard enough, they’d work like Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the Great Wizard would whisk me home.

All I could think of was what an idiot I must’ve looked like. And all my husband could think about was how much he loved Image of woman standing in dirt and straw in a gownme. He grabbed my hand and pulled me close, his arm forming a protective barrier around me, and whispered in my ear, “You’re here with me. You’re mine. Who cares what anyone else thinks.”

Ladies, I think God’s saying the same thing to us.

So often, we can feel like we donned our best dress shoes only to step ankle deep in a pile of manure. The poo smells, sure. We’re bummed about the shoes and nylons, but what cuts deepest are the inadequacies those experiences expose.

When did we allow our identity to get tied into our looks and fashion choices? When did we trade the depth of beauty, true beauty, for such a shallow lie? There’s nothing wrong with dressing nice or getting one’s hair done, but in doing so, may we never forget where our true beauty lies.

We know this intellectually, but it’s easy to forget this in our self-obsessed, photo-shopped culture. To remain centered in Christ takes work, determination, and practice. We have the power to control our thought life and protect our hearts. But we must, daily, make the choice to do so. When we walk into a room full of other women, we can either feed all our self-defeating thoughts that tell us we’re not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough, or we can remember God’s presence and power within us, what He says about us, and we can determine to live in that.

Truly, we can.

We can soak in God’s truth and rest in His grace. We can give Him the final say.

We can filter absolutely everything—every thought and interaction—through the lens of His love and grace.

We can live victoriously, like the beautiful, radiant masterpieces God created us to be. Wholly Loved wants to help us do just that. This week, we’ve been talking about focusing on our inner beauty and taking steps to develop that. Join us on Facebook, engage in the conversation, and be encouraged in your walk with Jesus! For those of you wondering what it’s like to attend one of our conferences, check out this video!

Before you go, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month. Subscribers image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyreceive great content, like a short story, devotion, recipe, and more, sent directly to their inbox along with a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, sent separately). You can sign up HERE.

If you have signed up for my newsletter and haven’t received the ebook, please let me know. You can contact me HERE.

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Creeping, Pestering Sins

Image of women hiding behind a plantSome sins are blatant and appalled by all, but others seem to be much more tolerated, perhaps even welcomed. Until we see the destruction they cause. Unchecked, these sorts of pests tend to multiply as one white lie bleeds into another, one casually spoken gossip expands to a story, and that pride that, initially, went unnoticed, grows to dominating proportions, soon destroying friendships and hurting those we love.

Sin, big and small, hidden and seen, infects and destroys. But as my guest today shares, our lives and relationships don’t have to be casualties in our battle against sin. There are steps we can take to find and maintain victory.

Creeping, Pestering Sins

by Amy Anguish

I was sitting here, pondering what wisdom I could possibly impart to help someone else with her life when mine isn’t always perfect. And then I saw it.

A mouse.

Funny thing. I actually had a pet mouse when I was in high school. That’s when I discovered how cute they are. Awe. I was like Cinderella – you know, minus the whole evil step-family and slaving away during the day thing.

But undomesticated mice are a different story. They aren’t quiet, clean, and don’t ask if they can share your food first. They just rip a corner off the package and dive in—literally. And when they die under a refrigerator they stink worse than my son’s diapers.

We have our fifth mouse in two months. We’ve disposed of at least four so far. We’ve tried three different kinds of traps. Evidently, they talk to each other, because each trap only works once. We have the wavelength emitters in our plugs that are supposed to discourage the beasts from coming in, but at this point am beginning to doubt anything will work.

I think I found the hole they’re coming in through this afternoon. As long as that opening remains, more will come, no matter how many we exterminate. It’s inevitable. We’re in a quiet neighborhood with trees nearby so there will be mice. But if we can close off how they get from the crawlspace to inside … that’s going to be the cure.

Sin is similar. I can trap and evict things like worry, gossip, anger, hate, or jealousy but if I don’t “stop up the hole” where they’re coming in, I’ll have to do it all again. Now, I know I can’t just plug up my head and keep bad things out of it. But I can avoid the places and entertainment and spending extensive time with friends who are prone to using such things. And I can spend more time engaging in better things and interacting with more encouraging people.

It’s like the story Jesus told in Matthew chapter 12 about the house swept clean: “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.  Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first.” Matthew 12:43-45 (ESV)*

So, let’s take Paul’s advice in the letter he wrote to the Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8,9 (ESV)

So, maybe I don’t want to be Cinderella, having mice live in my home. Instead, in my house and my life, I think it’s time to plug up some holes and keep the nasty little buggers out.

Let’s talk about this! Do you have a “rodent” problem? What kinds of holes are letting bad things into your life? Share your thoughts and stories–and your sin-exterminating tips–in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

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Before you go, make sure to sign up for my (Jennifer’s) free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month. Subscribers image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyreceive great content, like a short story, devotion, recipe, and more, sent directly to their inbox along with a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (ebook, sent separately). You can sign up HERE. And make sure you stop over at the Wholly Loved Blog to watch a great video devotion by speaker and worship leader Christa Cottam’s.

 

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Amy Anguish's Author photoAmy Anguish grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a cat or two. Amy graduated with a degree in English from Freed-Hardeman University and hopes in all her creative endeavors to glorify God, but especially in her writing. She wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

 

Check out her book!

An Unexpected Legacy:

“Smoothies brought them together, but would the past tear them apart?”Book cover image for An Unexpected Legacy

When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it’s like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond. Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies.

Buy it HERE!

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The Result of Self-obsession

 

sad woman in the dark

“You don’t have to be so down, you know.”

Perhaps I should’ve been offended, except I knew my husband was right. I’d been in a funk for a while. For no particular reason. Though I could’ve named numerous “causes”, I had to admit, I, not my circumstances, lay at the root of my gloom.

Bit by bit, one thought merging into another, I’d become self-obsessed, and it was making me miserable.

Our world tells us to focus on ourselves, to take care of number one, promising this is the key to happiness and fulfillment, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. The more I’m fixated on boring ol’ Jennifer Slattery—what I want or don’t want, what’s happened or hasn’t happened, what’s hard or disappointing—the more miserable I become. But when I take my eyes off myself, step out of my tiny little world and into someone else’s, the miraculous happens.

I experience joy. Peace. Fulfillment. And incredible intimacy with my Savior as He loves others through me. As some of you know, I routinely deal with pain and fatigue. When I was first diagnosed, I slipped into a funk, thinking of how difficult my days were and how unpleasant my condition.

foliage in the sunset image with quotation on loveFor a while, I retreated further and further into my own, miserable world. That’s what self-obsession does—it inevitably leads to isolation, and often, bitterness soon follows. But then, I began to listen as others shared their struggles. Of arthritis. Cancer. MS. Clinical depression. And I realized, we’ve all got something, and in fact, many were suffering much more than I.

Over time, and by God’s grace, my view began to shift, and my world began to widen as love for others squelched my self-obsession. Allowing room for joy and contentment to grow.

In 1 Corinthians 10:24, Paul says, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (NIV)

I’m convinced, not only is this a command and a tangible way to live out the great commission, but it’s also a huge piece of grabbing hold of joy.

Self-obsession is perhaps the most destructive, most insidious type of idolatry. There’s only one way to break this, and that’s by turning our view upward and outward—onto Jesus and those He loves.

I’ll still have down days on occasion, and there will be times when I regress to self-obsession, but I’m learning the more I lay my life—my wants, expectations, hurts and disappointments—down, the more I die to myself so that Christ may live unhindered through me, the more I experience the full and abundant life Christ died to give me.

*Please note, this post is not related to clinical depression. There are those with biochemical mental health challenges who need medical intervention. If that’s you, get help.

Let’s talk about this! Do you ever tend to self-obsess? What’s normally the result? Have you ever, while in the middle of a period of melancholy, focused on others? What happened? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (R) Copyright (c)1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Before you go, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly newsletter to receive short stories, devotions, recipes, and more sent directly image of cover for study based on 1 Timothyto your inbox. When you sign up, you’ll also receive a free, 36-lesson study (ebook, sent separately) that springs from 1 Timothy You can sign up HERE. And make sure to visit me at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud to read more encouraging messages from myself and other authors. You can find my site HERE! I also encourage you to visit Wholly Loved Ministries for more inspirational messages that can help you discover, embrace, and live out who you are in Christ. You can find us HERE!

And some fun news! Coming soon:

Dancing in the Rain:

On the verge of college graduation, Loni Parker seeks employment as a music teacher, but no one will hire her since she’s blind. Or so she thinks. To take her mind off her troubles, her roommate invites her to spring retreat at Camp Hope in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains. Unbeknown to Loni, Michael Ackerman, the director, is an ex-con responsible for the accident that caused her blindness. When Loni warms up to camp and wants to return as a summer counselor, Michael opposes the idea, which only makes Loni want to prove herself all the more. Though she doesn’t expect to fall for the guy. Still, her need for independence and dream of teaching win out, taking her far away from her beloved Camp Hope . . . and a certain director.

Camp director Michael Ackerman recognizes Lonie instantly and wants to avoid her at all costs. Yet, despite the guilt pushing him from her, a growing attraction draws him to the determined woman. She sees more with her heart than the average person does with his eyes. But her presence also dredges up a long-buried anger toward his alcoholic father that he’d just as soon keep hidden. When circumstances spin out of control, Michael is forced to face a past that may destroy his present.

Releasing the first week of June!

When God Says Give Up

Women with head down

Image by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

I’ve tried running my life, and it landed me in a mess. The more I fight for control, the more that which I’m fighting for begins to control me. But surrender …

My guest today, novelist and pastor Nathan D. Maki, shares how God called him to give up something he held dear, and what resulted from that. Read his thoughts then share yours in the comments below.

***

Have you ever felt like giving up? Sure you have. Exhausted by the race, flattened by the burden, devastated by the loss…we all hit the wall at some point. If I can be perfectly candid, I’ve been teetering on the edge of giving up writing. Between pastoring a small church, managing a business to pay the bills, and being husband and father to my wife and son the thought of releasing one thing – my writing – is seductive.

“It’s more of a hobby anyway,” I told myself. “It’s not really taking off or paying off for the amount of work and time involved. Maybe you’re a hack anyway.”

Yes, that kind of uplifting, positive self-talk.

But then God told me to give up.

God told me to give up my selfish struggle for success. To relinquish the dream of quitting my day job and just writing and pastoring till He comes or my days end. To give up this book, The Keeper’s Crown. As a symbol of that surrender, he told me not to put a penny of its profits in my pocket.

I’ll be honest, that wasn’t easy. This book is my baby that I’ve worked on for three years hoping it would be my break-out novel. A year ago, when I was still querying agents and dreaming of a deal with a major publisher it probably would have been unthinkable. But God had brought me to a place of surrender. Of giving up. And instead, I gave it to Him.

And you know what? As soon as I agreed to give up peace settled over me. It’s like my whole perspective changed in that moment, and I suddenly realized that I’d Man sitting in nature, contemplativebecome jaded because I was measuring success all wrong. I was measuring in copies sold and dollars and cents, in fame and recognition, in book deals and all the rest. But that’s not how God measures success. In fact, that’s what The Keeper’s Crown is all about, how to measure Godly success – which the Apostle Paul would say is simply obeying what God tells you to do, regardless of the results. I guess I’d kind of forgotten that until God smacked me upside the head at that altar on a Sunday morning not too long ago.

So half the proceeds of this book are going to Hope for Orphans, an orphanage my parents started in a little village in Congo. Half to our church’s breakfast fund, where my wife and our ladies have been serving disadvantaged kids a hot breakfast every Sunday for the past 8 years. That’s what God asked. Jesus sure does love the little children.

The Keeper’s Crown and my writing career are God’s hands now, and looking back through the Scriptures, that’s an exciting thought.

quote imageGod asked a man named Abraham to give up his son Isaac, and he not only received his son back alive but became the Father of the Faithful. (Genesis 22:2)

God asked a nervous wreck named Gideon to give up the safety of his winepress, then turned him into a warrior who brought safety to his entire country by driving out the invaders. (Judges 6 and 7)

God asked three young Hebrew captives in Babylon to give up their lives to the furnace and then brought them out unscathed to make a believer out of King Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 3)

God asked a handful of fishermen to give up their ships and nets, and they founded the Church. (Mark 1:16-20)

God asked Paul to give up his freedom, and he preached to the Emperor of Rome and converted even those of Nero’s household and his Praetorian Guard. Paul gave up his life, but attained a victor’s laurel and immortality. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

What will God do with what I’ve given up? Only time will tell, but I’m crazy excited to find out!

What is God asking you to give up? And how will you answer?

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cover image for the Keeper's CrownCheck out Nathan’s novel, The Keeper’s Crown!

Quintus

As a boy, he dared to fight Nero. Worse, he won.

Stripped of his family, the love of his life, and his self-respect, he sets out on a quest to win a victor’s crown, rescue his parents, and restore his family’s honor. But his path to glory in the restless province of Judaea is threatened by the corrupt governor Felix, the murderous priest Melechi, and most of all by the rabble-rousing Paul of Tarsus.

When Quintus finds himself in Rome chained to Paul all hope of a crown seems lost, but Paul’s example makes him question the true meaning of success. And why does Jael, the mysterious young Jewess who once saved his life, now respond with barely restrained flashes of hate?

Jael

The Romans took her father and her brother from her.

Now Jael vows to fight for her father’s faith, fulfill her brother’s oath, and avenge their deaths. But the further she travels with Paul and Quintus the more she feels torn. Can she follow her heart and still keep her vow?

Paul

He turned the world upside down.

Paul never expected to end his ministry in chains, but even still, he is determined to carry the gospel to Rome and the Emperor Nero himself. But what if those who need the gospel most are those closest to him?

As the Great Fire strikes Rome, fanning Nero’s persecution of the Christians to a white-hot fury, murderous secrets, impossible choices, and steadfast faith will lead to tragedy and triumph.

Grab a copy HERE.

Join Nathan on Monday, April 2 from 11-3 for a fun, Facebook launch party. There will be Q & A with yours truly, trivia and games, a virtual tour of Rome via pictures he took on his trip, hourly e-book giveaways, and two grand prizes of signed proof copy paperbacks (of only 5 proofs ever printed.) Plus, you’ll get to connect with other book lovers!

Get to know the author!

author headshiot--Nathan MakiA life-long love for historical fiction and a passion to create high-intensity, realistic novels from a Christian world view has propelled Nathan Maki into his writing career. He is the author of the War Within series of novels set in Ancient Rome, and most recently The Keeper’s Crown, a novel of the Apostle Paul.

A recent trip to Rome to walk the ancient streets, explore the Catacombs, and stand in the Coliseum plunged Nathan even deeper into the ancient world he brings to life for his readers. Nathan’s novels combine the faith and romance of Francine Rivers’s Mark of the Lion trilogy with the action and adventure of Bernard Cornwell or Conn Iggulden. Nathan lives in Ontario, Canada, with his wife, son, and three very spoiled dogs. He pastors a church and manages his own business in addition to his writing. Sometimes he even sleeps.

Connect with Nathan online:

Facebook

on his website

Follow him on Twitter: @NathanDMaki

Email him at: NathanDMaki(at)hotmail(dot)com

Revealing a Faith That Stands

mother and child and inspirational message

Moms, what you do each day matters. How you live your faith, it matters. When you pray, turn to praise music, or simply power through—it matters.

They say children learn more about faith from watching us than they do from anything we might tell them. And though I think that’s probably true, I hope it’s not. Because there’ve been so many times I’ve messed up. Times when I’ve chosen selfishness over love, pride over forgiveness, and disobedience over surrender.

If left on my own, I would’ve completely messed our daughter up ten times over. But whenever my heart would begin to stray or deception set in, God would gently nudge me, saying, “This is the way, My daughter. Walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). And because of that—because of Him—situations that could’ve destroyed our family and greatly hindered our daughter’s faith had the opposite effect.

The most memorable occurred when we were living in Louisiana. The year before, my husband had quit his job and we packed our things and headed south, far from the church and friends we’d grown to love, only to find our lives uprooted less than six months later.

I was angry, frightened, and confused, and began to withdraw within myself, so consumed with what was going on within me, I was completely oblivious to how my growing irritability and sadness affected everyone else.

women and childUntil one morning, while laying in bed, Bible spread open before me, I read Proverbs 14:1, which says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (NIV). The moment I finished reading the verse, my daughter said, “Mommy?” and I looked up to find her standing in my bedroom doorway, watching me.

My heart wrenched as realization took hold. My daughter needed me, and she needed to see Jesus in me. She needed to see not only the faith that shouted hallelujahs on Sunday mornings or carted her off to Bible class. She needed to see the type of faith that could stand when it felt like the world was crumbling.

She needed to see what it looked like to lean on Jesus—that this Christianity thing was more than cheery slogans adults say to one another. She needed to see a real, living, steadfast faith, and our season of chaos offered the perfect opportunity.

From that morning on, I determined to behave differently. I was still sad and frightened. I was still angry over some of things that had happened, but instead of pulling within myself, I began to focus on Jesus. Dinner turned from times of tension and silence to prayers and family devotions. Bedtimes turned to faith discussions where we openly talked about what we knew to be true in the midst of all that was going on.

And as a result, our family grew closer and I believe, Jesus became all the more real to a young, impressionable, and equally frightened little girl who needed an unshakable faith to stand on.

Let’s talk about this! What are some ways you reveal enduring faith when life feels hard or uncertain? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Before you leave, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter.

Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat, free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up HERE.

Heart Gunk — Making a Clean Break

Woman praying and Proverbs 20:9

Though my house has never reached hoarding capacity, there’ve been times my heart has. Sadly, I’ve been known to harbor offenses when God calls me to forgive, to rehash old hurts when God beckons me to heal, and to nurse all those ugly heart-cluttering sins like pride and selfishness when the Spirit works to purge them from me. Clutter, of any variety, has a way of piling up unexpectedly until one’s buried. This is true of my closet, office, and sadly, at times, my heart. Reading Donna Schlachter’s post below reminded me how necessary it is to engage in regular deep-cleaning.

Making a Clean Break

by Donna Schlachter

Mess in boxes

Photo by Christopher Flynn on Unsplash

Boxes stacked to the ceiling blocked my way, and I gritted my teeth in frustration. After a long day of sifting through papers and files, I’d had my fill. I was ready to toss the whole mess into the trash.

A while back, my husband Patrick and I spent a weekend cleaning out a storage closet to make room for a bathroom renovation. We had thing we moved into the house more than three years before that we hadn’t looked in. Not once. Stacks of financial records going back to 1979, and college books from further back than that.

We accumulated stuff.

And that’s nothing compared to what we used to have. We’d already sifted through an eight by ten storage shed’s worth of things we couldn’t bear to part with before we moved. Papers we were sure we’d need again. Records we weren’t certain of but didn’t want to destroy. We got rid of a lot of clutter by calling up a local thrift store and holding a couple of yard sales.

While we now own less than before, my basement still wasn’t ready for the renovation. If I couldn’t move around down there, how could I expect workmen to carry in supplies and materials?

I might have reduced the junk in my storage room, but you’d never know by looking at it.

Our spiritual lives can be like that, too. We try to make changes. We stop a bad habit or curtail a destructive behavior. Maybe we even adopt spiritual disciplines or simplify our schedules. And yet our lives can look just as messy as before.

Needless to say, this can be very disheartening. It is for me. We invest time and energy, yet heart renovations take longer than we thought they would.

Our spiritual lives aren’t easy to clean up. In fact, by ourselves, we can’t succeed. Sure we can make positive changes. We can do some things different. But the truth is that without God, we can’t truly live as He desires.

On our own, none of us can say, “I have made my heart pure. I am clean and without sin” (Prov. 20:9). We must rely on God, because only He knows what changes are needed and only He has the power to bring them about. We must trust His judgment as to the timing and the process. Trying to change our behavior on our own won’t work since behavior is a symptom of a deeper issue. God knows what’s going on inside us. The real reason we’re clean, if indeed we have been made clean, is because of the free gift of grace and mercy, paid for by Jesus.

So the next time you think that making a heart-change—even a minor one—is up to you, think again. Think about what Christ did on the cross, how He rose from the dead, and the promises of God.

And then ask God what areas need to be addressed and how to go about doing that. He alone knows what needs to be done.

Spend time with God this week asking Him what you need to throw out and what behavior or attitude to adopt in its place. His answers might surprise you.

Lord, thank You for being patient with me as I seek to be made into Your image. Allow me to be a witness to Your grace and mercy, and mold me into what You need for the work of Your kingdom. Amen.

John and Mary in my novella, Train Ride to Heartbreak in the “Mail-Order Brides Collection” realized they needed to make a clean break in their lives, too. However, once committed to another in a loveless marriage, they meet and fall in love. Will they settle for duty and second-best, or will they step out in faith to encounter the promises of the Living God?

***

Let’s talk about this! How often do you pause to consider your heart? Can you share a time when you behaved in a way you wished you hadn’t and God used that moment to reveal a heart-issue? What happened? How did that experience grow you or draw you closer to God? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Before you leave, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter.

Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat, free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up HERE. (After you subscribe, you should receive a welcome email with instructions on how to download the e-material. If you don’t receive that within 48 hours, please let me know through my contact page on this site.)

Give-away Fun!

Leave a comment to be entered to win a print (US only) copy of “Mail-Order Brides Collection”.Mail Order Bridge Cover Image

Mail Order Brides follows 7 brides as they meet their grooms for the first time—after they answer an ad for a wife.

A Train Ride to Heartbreak By Donna Schlachter

1895, Train to California

John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.

 

Get to know Donna:

Author Photo: Donna SchlachterDonna Schlachter lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Visit her online: HiStoryThruTheAges

(Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!)

On Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

 

Scripture used is the NIV translation from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R), NIV(R), Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.(R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

How Living in Grace Helps Us Guard Our Words

Man holding hand over his mouthMy words have gotten me into a heap of trouble. I’ve initiated and meddled in arguments I shouldn’t have, fought to be right rather than understand, and wreaked destruction in the name of self-defense.

Considering the consequences wrought from my careless, and often damaging, statements, one would think I’d have learned to guard my words. But though I’ve memorized, prayed, and recited verses addressing this issue numerous times, I continue to stumble.

Here’s why: I’ve been fighting the symptom instead of the cause.

Whenever my mouth (or keyboard) runs a muck, my pride’s at fault. The solution, then, is surrender—making Jesus, obedience to Him, and the intimacy that follows (rather than man’s opinion) my treasure.

Let me explain using Proverbs 18:2 as an example: “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.”

Because we believe we know best, need to defend ourselves, or prove our point.

Often, this is triggered by fear (which, 90% of the time is rooted in pride)—fear of losing face or not getting something we want or hope for. But in our desire to elevate or defend ourselves, we can miss crucial unspoken “heart talk.”

Let me give an example. A while back, I engaged in a somewhat heated discussion with someone, one that revealed considerable miscommunication—things that were heard that were never said, statements taken out of context, and others extrapolated in confusing ways. Focused on the miscommunication, I attempted to unpack each one.

Remaining oblivious to the insecurities and wounds underlying it all and therefore only exacerbated the problem. Had I focused on the person’s heart more than their words, I could’ve responded with more wisdom and grace.

Reading through Proverbs 18, I thought of this interchange, and as I often do, of my propensity to talk myself into trouble. Only this time, I went deeper, to my heart. How, I wondered, could I respond differently the next time when, so often, my words tumble out before my brain catches up?

Evaluating the whys behind my behaviors, I came up with a list:

  1. Recognize I don’t need to defend myself. When someone criticizes me, if their complaints are valid, acknowledge this and prayerfully consider two women friendsways I might change. Because living in grace means I’m in need of it. I’m broken and prone to sin and nowhere near who God would have me to be, and yet I’m accepted and deeply loved. This disarms my pride with humility as I recognize my need for Christ, and this in turn gives me the courage to grow.
  2. Recognize God’s opinion and my obedience to Him is more important than man’s perception of me. When I base my identity in Christ and treasure intimacy with Him more than “saving face,” I don’t need to defend myself or prove a point.
  3. When I begin to feel defensive, uncover the fear beneath, and then remind myself of who I am in Christ. He’s my defender, protector, perfect guide, and the One who holds my future in His hands.
  4. Don’t own whatever’s not true. Simply disregard it, reminding myself of action steps one through three.
  5. Finally, listen for the fears and insecurities behind my “opponent’s” words and address those before attempting to resolve anything external.

Relational conflicts can be messy, confusing, and cloaked in emotion and false perceptions. To resolve them grace-fully, putting a guard rail on my tongue in the process, I need to take time to go deep—to my and my opponent’s heart, surrendering my pride and resultant emotions to Jesus so that He can love that other person through me.

Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to guard your tongue? When considering times your words have gotten you into trouble, can you see similar “root causes” as I mentioned in my list? In the above, I suggested pride is often the root of our fears and fear is often the root of much conflict. Do you agree or disagree, and why so? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

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