Sharing God’s Love in the Face of Fear

verse image of 1 John 4:18

Fear is a destructive, enslaving emotion that, when fed, pushes us farther from the life God desires for us. The more we give in to it, the uglier and more selfish our behavior becomes until we bear little resemblance to our generous and loving Savior Jesus Christ.

We all remember the Great Recession of 2008 that leveled countless Americans. Banks collapsed, over 2.6 million lost their jobs, and almost four million saw their homes in foreclosure.

We were living in Kansas City at the time, and though our neighborhood hadn’t been hit as hard as those in Los Angeles, Detroit, or Orlando, the devastation was obvious. Piles of furniture and other belongings littered the sidewalks and red foreclosure or for sale by auction signs stood in numerous lawns—evidence of loss, financial ruin, and deeply hurting families.

Fear dominated. People worried the economy might never bounce back and began to fill their pantries and basements with canned foods and dry goods. Anxiety and survivalism rose dramatically while charitable giving plummeted—at a time when millions of Americans desperately needed aid.

Maybe you were one of those desperate Americans, or maybe you joined in the stockpile craze.

As we’ve seen again and again, chaos and need can trigger fear, and fear can lead to hoarding and selfishness. To apathy and isolation.

But fear can also be a catalyst to faith—an emotion that drives us not to ourselves but to our God as we seek His wisdom and power in our most chaotic situations. When we do that, what a testimony to grace we provide!

This was precisely what the ancient world witnessed in a group of beaten down and oppressed new believers living in Thessalonica. While experiencing “severe suffering” that scholars believe included economic persecution and property seizures, they excelled in faith (1 Thess. 1:7), in their evangelistic efforts (1 Thess. 1:8), and in generosity (2 Cor. 8:2). So much so that Paul used them as an example of faithfulness in his letter to the Corinthians:

“In the midst of a very severe trial,” Paul said, “their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing this service to the Lord’s people” (2 Cor. 8:2-4, NIV, emphasis mine).

Despite their “persecutions and hardships” (2 Thess. 1:4), they gave above and beyond, from a human perspective, what they were able.

What a statement this must have made to the watching world! It’s one thing to tell others about Jesus our Provider; it’s another matter to live as though He is. People might ignore our proclamations of God’s power and sovereignty, but when we behave as though we believe our words are true—that’s when questions arise, curiosity is stirred, and God-willing, our faith becomes contagious.

Sadly, there are times when I resemble the 2008 survivalists more than those world-changing ancient Christians. When that happens, it’s usually because I’ve lost focus. Somewhere between my struggle and my reactions, I forget my role and what’s at stake—that this world won’t last forever, and once their time on earth ends, my friends and neighbors will spend eternity in one of two places—experiencing the joy of God’s presence in heaven or forever separated from Him in the darkness of hell.

When I remember that, my desire to self-protect and sock-pile fade as God’s love for His broken and sin-ravished world take hold.

Let’s talk about this! When you feel afraid, does your fear normally drive you to Jesus? How might focusing on Him, His heart for you and the world, and the gospel, change your response in the middle of your greatest chaos? Share your examples, stories, and victories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

If you struggle with fear (like, I believe, most of us do), I encourage you to come to our next Wholly Loved Bold and Brave event, hosted by Calvary Community Church in Lincoln. You can find out more and register HERE. (Or, contact me HERE to host your own Bold and Brave event.)

Before you go, make sure to sign up for Jennifer’s free quarterly newsletter (HERE)!

You’ll receive great content sent directly to your inbox (a short story, devotion, recipe, and more) cover image for study based on 1 Timothyalong with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook) based on 1 Timothy (sent separately via a clickable link in the follow-up welcome letter). Note: If you signed up for her newsletter but never received your free ebook, please contact me HERE.

Want Jennifer or one of her team members to come speak at your next women’s event? Contact her HERE. 

 

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Becoming What God Desires

Mirror images of a womanWe all have an idea of who we want to be, who we think we are, and who, in Christ, we’re becoming. Sometimes those “identities” contradict one another, leaving us feeling confused, frustrated, and defeated. If you’ve entrusted your life to Jesus, Ephesians 2:10 says you’re His masterpieces, handcrafted for a specific purpose, planned before you took our first breath. As my guest today illustrates, the more we allow God to chisel and mold us, the more we discover who we truly are–who God created us to be.

 

Becoming What God Desires

by Katie Clark.

It’s hard to live as the person God created me to be. Sometimes this contradicts who I think I am. Other times, discovering her involves pain and heartache. I criticize, talk down to myself, and obsess over all my failures.

Broken dreams, failed plans, and unexpected roadblocks have diverted my vision and altered my steps. Instead, I find myself on a different path—the one God put me on.

I’m slowly learning how to be whom God designed instead of the person I thought I would be. I’m also learning, even in my broken places, I’m still the person I always thought I was. I’m broken andflower image with some broken petals and text from the post whole. Broken because of the path my life has taken, but whole because of how Jesus put me back together.

I struggle with knowing whether I can be both at once, but I know it’s true because I’ve lived it. 1 Peter 2:9 tells me I’m chosen, whether I feel this or not. Daily Bible reading, devotions, and prayer time are my most trusted means of coming to terms with who God made me to be.

But I’ve also found being this person—this broken yet whole person who struggles with grief and pain—allows me to connect with others in a way I never knew was possible before. I can see the brokenness in others now, and I want to help them. I believe serving others can bring healing and wholeness in a way nothing else can.

I still struggle with self-degradation and living in regret. Questioning all my choices that led me to this place. But through a gentle walk with God I’m learning I don’t have to listen to those negative voices in my head. I can stand boldly in Christ and be the person He fashions me into each day.

What about you? How do you find strength and courage to step into God’s role for your life? What are some ways you combat negative, self-defeating thought patterns? Share your thoughts, tips, and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

***

Before you go, make sure to sign up for Jennifer’s free quarterly newsletter (HERE)!

You’ll receive great content sent directly to your inbox (a short story, devotion, recipe, and more) cover image for study based on 1 Timothyalong with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook) based on 1 Timothy (sent separately via a clickable link in the follow-up welcome letter). Note: If you signed up for her newsletter but never received your free ebook, please contact me HERE.

Want Jennifer or one of her team members to come speak at your next women’s event? Contact her HERE. 

Get to know Katie!

Katie's author pictureKatie Clark started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes adult inspirational romance, including her novel Securing The Handyman’s Heart, and her Christmas novel Radio Wave Romance. She also writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, her supernatural survival novel, Shadowed Eden, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

Check out her latest release, The Rejected Princess:

When Princess Roanna Hamilton’s parents arrange a marriage with a prince of Dawson’s Edge—the cover image for The Forgotten Princessmysterious and backwards kingdom to the south—Roanna reluctantly agrees. But when Roanna is introduced to Dawson’s royal family, strange mind-bending anomalies are awakened within her, and she discovers the Dawsonian royal family holds secrets of their own. With threats growing daily, Roanna comes to realize the danger she is in. If Roanna is to save herself and her future, she must stall her marriage and squelch the growing rebellion—all while discovering how deeply her power runs.

When Our Loved Ones Self-destruct

Sad woman sitting in the darkI’ve been on both sides of today’s topic. I’ve self-destructed myself to the streets of Tacoma, and I’ve also grieved the self-destruction of those I care for. Having experienced the pain and utter hopelessness rebellion causes and the freedom found in surrender deeply impacts how I pray, speak, and act. I want to do something, and yet, though there are countless ways to reveal Christ each day, in this spiritual battle over hearts and lives, I often feel powerless and ineffective.

But Scripture promises the opposite. As my guest today reminds us, there’s something we can always do, whether near or far, that has the capacity to change lives for all eternity. (James 5:16)

When Our Loved Ones Self-Destruct by Linda Samaritoni

Have you ever known someone who walked away from God? Maybe a colossal disappointment shattered their world, and they assumed if God allowed such a thing to happen, then He didn’t really care about them. Maybe temptation overcame them, and they blamed God for not preventing their headlong charge into sin. Maybe… Well, there are millions of possible maybes.

What happens to those individuals who remain separated from Christ?

For many, stepping away from faith feels like a relief—at first. Even in their misery, they welcome the release of pressure, similar to ratcheting down a steam valve before the pipes blow.

Such pressure is self-induced. In a performance-driven society, people often fall into the trap that Graphic using a quote pulled from the postGod is expecting them to succeed at an A+ level. They don’t understand His grace. They don’t trust this grim deity who takes note of every mistake. Once they withdraw, the burdens of their own making ease off. No more straining to “be good.” No further obligations to “do good.” Since they’d already proven themselves way short in every category of life, why not abandon efforts to please God?

Before those individuals decided to turn away, they chose to keep a death grip on their lives, not allowing God to control the pressure valve. They added more weight to God’s expectations. They kept spinning the wheel harder and harder to the right, edging into the red zone until the pounds per square inch became unbearable.

I’ve agonized over a dear friend for years. He felt betrayed because God didn’t say “yes” to his one big prayer. He had worked for a positive answer. He had tithed, taught Sunday school, attended church every week, and led a Bible study.

Instead of seeking his Father in the midst of disappointment, he marched in the opposite direction, jerking that wheel farther to the right. He would never ask God for a thing ever again. A wrench of the wheel. He would do as he wished since no amount of work met with God’s approval. Wrench.

At first, he enjoyed the release from assumed church pressures and any obligations to join us in prayer or Bible study. He turned his back on the guilt resulting from his sin against God and others.

His relief was short-lived. Since he’s not on speaking terms with God, life is terrifying, yet he remains tied to performance-based objectives as a way of life. He knows every one of his character flaws, and nothing he does will ever be adequate.

These days, shame drums endlessly like a nagging headache, and he has no resources to assuage it. He won’t call on God for help. He refuses to take his hands off the controls as the needle on the gauge trembles further into the red zone.

Ultimately, the freedom to please self turns sour. God’s beckoning hand either draws the person to eternal refuge or the individual resists Him and spirals downward into hopelessness and poverty of soul.

Words from the latter part of James 5:16 and image of two women prayingWhat can we do for our loved ones head toward self-destruction? We model Jesus. We pray. And we pray, and we pray. If only they would turn that wheel in the opposite direction—toward the Lord!

God doesn’t give up on His children, and we shouldn’t either.

Jesus knows the perfect time to intervene and lift the crushing constraints, sending the dial below the red zone. Only He can release the pressure and bring our friends and loved ones to freedom.

***

Let’s talk about this! Is someone you care about self-destructing? Have you felt powerless as you’ve watched them head toward a spiritual or emotional train wreck? Did anything in Linda’s post give you hope? Or maybe you have a miracle story regarding someone you’ve prayed for over the years. Share your stories, examples, and suggestions with us in the comments below, because in this area, I’m pretty sure we could all use the encouragement!

Before you go, make sure you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great, inspirational, and entertaining content sent directly to your inbox. The next edition releases at the end of this month. You can subscribe HERE.

You may also enjoy my latest article on Crosswalk, 10 Things We Can Learn From the Adulterous Woman.

Get to Know Linda

Linda Sammaritan assumed she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five, but God cut those plans short by a couple of decades when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. After blowing goodbye kisses to her students, she now dedicates her work hours to learning the craft. Every once in a while, though, she finds her way back to school so she can teach creative writing workshops. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.

Linda often travels across the country to visit her grandchildren, regaling them with “Nona stories,” life lessons from her childhood. Visit her online at her personal website and group website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Our Life is Our Worship, How Beautifully Tuned is the Music it Plays?

image of a girl with worship quote pulled from text

Most of us can sing “loud and proud” as my husband would call it, during worship service, but if, according to Romans 12:1, our life–how we live and love–reveals presents our true and most meaningful worship to Jesus, and, I’d add, a proclamation hymn to a watching world, than how beautifully tuned is the music we play? Are there areas that, perhaps, throw the entire melody off?

Today’s guest, a music and Jesus lover, shares a thought-provoking analogy that will have us all cranking up the volume.

How Beautifully “tuned” is the Music of Your Life

By Amber Schamel

Picture of a piano

Image by Markus Gjengaar on unsplash

Does God like sour notes any more than we do? Imagine your favorite song being played by a talented musician when all of a sudden, they just start banging on the instrument and making a ruckus. How annoyed would you be? Imagine if the music our lives played created the same type of sound.

I’m a music lover. I have a beautiful piano that sits in our living room, and very few things bring me as much joy as sitting down to play for an hour. Best of all, I love to play all by myself when it’s just me and God and my piano.

Lately, something irked me. The D in the middle. When I attempt to play a song, that key malfunctions, and it makes playing a full song difficult. I’ll be in the middle of a powerful stanza, and that one note misses, leaving a hole in the music. Oh, the irritation! And it has only been a couple months since the piano was tuned.

The other evening in church, I was musing about this stubborn key as the pastor unknowingly drew aImage of someone playing a keyboard with pull quote text parallel. He spoke about how every part of our lives need to be in tune with the Bible, God’s Word. If one part is out of line, it throws everything off. How true that is! Like my piano, if my personal life is in line, but my family relationships are “sticky, the music of my life is “off key”. My behavior may be exemplary, but if my prayer life is stagnant or sporadic, my song won’t be complete. A note is missing somewhere.

I must continually ask myself, is my life in tune with my Savior? Are there any “sticky” places that I need Him to help me to work out? The Master conductor has made His Handbook, the Bible, available so I can make sure my every note is perfectly on key.

***

Let’s talk about this! What resonated most with you in today’s post? Probably the area I most need to grow in is my prayer life, which I’m ashamed to admit considering that should be the place I excel! Jesus died to remove the barriers between myself and God so that I could have a close, personal relationship with Him, and yet I take that for granted. Sigh. What about you? What area of your life tends to be the first to get “out of tune”? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!

And before you go, make sure you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great, inspirational, and entertaining content sent directly to your inbox. The next edition releases at the end of this month. You can subscribe HERE.

Author photo of Amber Get to know Amber!

Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”. A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and has been awarded the Christian Indie Award in Historical Fiction twice. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites. Amber is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Visit her online at www.AmberSchamel.com/ and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!

You can also connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, and make sure to check out her author page on Amazon!

Check out her latest release, 12 Sisters Who Changed History:

The remarkable lives of twelve sisters who changed the course of history.Cover image--12 Sisters Who Changed History

Historians paint pictures of amazing men and women who influenced the world, but seldom do we hear about sister duos that forever altered the course of history. Whether fighting together—or against each other—these twelve women set armies to flight, guarded homelands from invasion, transformed countries and religious systems, and begat nations. From mythical Athena and Artemis, to the English thrones of Mary & Elizabeth Tudor, the influence these women left behind is taken for granted. Join us on an inspirational journey through time as we explore the extraordinary lives of Sisters Who Changed History.

*Athena & Artemis (Ancient Greek Mythology)

*Rachel & Leah (Ancient Palestine)

*Tru’ng Trac & Tru’ng Nhi (Vietnam)

*Mary & Anne Boleyn (England)

*Mary & Elizabeth Tudor (England)

*Angelina & Sarah Grimke (United States)

Grab your copy HERE.

Courageous Impact

Joshua 1:9 with rainy background

Throughout Scripture, and often before miraculous events, God issued the command: Do not be afraid. Each day, He calls us to live on mission and empowers us to do so, but we tend to be a fearful bunch, and sometimes we can feel as if we’re caught in the middle of a tumultuous river with little more than a canoe and some paddles.

If that’s how you tend to feel, when called to step out in faith, I hope Leeann Betts’s post brings you encouragement today!

Small Boats and Big Waves

By Leeann Betts

Small boats—and the thought of drowning, terrify me. This fear paralyzed me and caused me to miss out on numerous things—until God helped me see the bigger picture.

As a result, I don’t do small boats.

I don’t do small boats.

I won’t enter anything smaller than a cruise ship.

And this from a girl who grew up on an island in the Atlantic.

When I was a kid, my grandfather built a small, flat-bottomed boat. No motors for him—oars only. He’d kit us out in our life vests and fishing poles and take us on a small lake near his summer cottage. I’d sit in the middle seat, and my white knuckles on the edge of the boat could have lighted our way home in the dark.

A couple of times he pried my fingers loose to hand me my fishing pole, but my fear paralyzed me to do anything but hold it. All I could see was the dark water mere inches away. All I could think about was that the water was over my head, that the lilies and weeds would probably entangle me, and who knew what was in the water? All sorts of monsters dwelt there.

Fast forward about fifty years, and I’m heading to Peru on a mission trip with my church. In fact, I’m going to the jungle. I already know I’d have to take a boat from the port to the camp, but that’s okay. I focused on “port” and “camp”, not “boat”.

We arrive at a collection of tiny structures in the middle of nowhere, providing food and supplies for weary travelers. We slip, slide, and scramble down a muddy bank to the water’s edge where our sailing craft awaits. I look upstream. Nothing but a couple of canoes. I look downstream. A metal boat about ten feet long, its canvas covering long rotted—a tiny outboard putt-putting to life under the tentative ministrations of a teenage boy.

My hubby helps me clamber in, and I sit in the middle of the middle seat, clinging to the edges of the warped board. The rest of the team is chatting, laughing, leaning against the side, ignoring me, for which I’m thankful. I think, “Okay, God, I can do this. I just have to do this one more time, on Sunday, when we leave.”

I ask about crocodiles, and they laugh and say there aren’t any. Phew! “But keep your hands out of the water,” somebody says. “There are piranha.”

Oh, nice.

When we reach the camp, everyone decides to go to the zoo the next day (another round trip in the boat), and to church on Sunday (another round trip) before we leave (the only trip I made a deal with God about).

Seriously?

But the Lord showed me the riverbanks, which in some places looked like sculpted sand. He reminded me that the river didn’t carve these banks, because although we’re at the headwaters of the Amazon, the water is slow-moving.

God pointed out the wake of the boat nudging up against the riverbank, and told me that the hundreds of boats that ply these waters daily made the contours in the riverbank.

“You are like the waves,” He said. “A little touch here. A nudge there. Your presence changes the waves with quote pulled from the postlives of people, just like the wake changes the shoreline.”

Suddenly, the reason for the trip became clear. It wasn’t about what I did—like painting walls, or teaching English, or cooking—it was about being there. Touching the lives of the children. Of the people who were so appreciative that strangers from the US would come to their country because we love them.

My fear of small boats and deep water didn’t vanish, but at least now I had a reason to tell them to stay quiet. I made those extra trips gladly, knowing that it wasn’t about the trip but about the time I spent with the boys. Nice tie in.

And I discovered in the process that I left my heart in that jungle, at the camp alongside the river, where the only way to get there is in a small boat. I’m looking forward to going back—hopefully soon.

I may sail in a small boat, and there may be big waves, but the good news is I serve a huge God Who can overcome this island girl’s fears and help her see the bigger picture.

***

Let’s talk about this! How does that imagery Leeann presented–the analogy of our influence being like the waves that gently tug at and transform a seashore? How might viewing our lives that way give us the courage and inspiration to step out and reach out?

It doesn’t take much to make a lasting, life-changing impact. Sometimes the best thing we can do is leave our air conditioned home, cross the street, and engage with a neighbor. Yesterday, an article I wrote for Crosswalk on loneliness went live, and the response blew my mind, telling me this is something many women struggle with. You can read the article HERE.

So many of us are living disconnected, but this is NOT God’s desire for us. He wants us to engage! If you’re one of the many who’ve allowed fear of rejection hold you back and hinder your relationships, I encourage you to come to one of our Bold and Brave conferences–we have one in Lincoln on July 21st, another one in Lincoln on Aug. 25th, and another one in Elkhorne on October 6th. Find out more HERE and connect with us on Facebook HERE.

Want us to come to your next women’s event? Contact me HERE.

And before you go, make sure you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great, inspirational, and entertaining content sent directly to your inbox. The next edition releases at the end of this month. You can subscribe HERE.

Get to know Leeann Betts!

Leeann Betts' author photoLeeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released seven titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with number 8, A Deadly Dissolution, releasing in June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published two books on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold and More Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at AllBettsAreOff. All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.

Visit her website and receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter. Read her writing on her blog, connect with her on Facebook or Twitter, and check out her books on Amazon.

cover image for a Deadly DissolutionCheck out her book, A Deadly Dissolution:

The total lunar eclipse of October 2004 leaves more than Bear Cove, Maine, in the dark. The town’s newly-elected mayor, Walter Akerman, hires Carly to audit the town’s books but is then caught in a compromising situation with his secretary Evie Mack. A journalist in town to cover the eclipse turns up dead. Tom and Sarah’s adopted son Bradley comes to stay overnight to see the eclipse, then goes missing on a walk in town. When Mike’s car is in a serious wreck which the police say is an accident, Carly thinks somebody is trying to send her a message to stay away. How can she solve all these mysteries while not completely wearing herself to a frazzle?

 

Grace For When Our Speech is Less Than Gracious

nature image with grace quote

I’ve said things I’ve quickly regretted many times. The less time I spend in God’s presence, resting in His grace, the higher the likelihood ungracious words will come out of my mouth. But living daily, deeply, in God’s grace, as my guest today reveals, changes everything.

Grace For When Our Speech is Less Than Gracious by Darlene Franklin

I have a serious problem with my tongue, and this frequently run into challenges at the nursing home where I live. Apart from God’s presence with me,  I would give up the battle.

Only a few hours have passed since I tore into my aides for not getting me dressed until lunch time. With all the time prior, why wait until I might miss lunch? They replied that it had all worked out. I was out of the shower exactly when they passed trays so I was making a fuss about nothing. I just kept complaining, because I felt like no one was listening. I shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. According to my care plan, I’m to be showered and dressed by seven in the morning.

I understand the principles of speaking with kindness and compassion,  that is, speech that is directed by God’s Spirit living within me so that I know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6). But sometimes my words sting and offer minimal honey (Proverbs 16:24).

Some days I do really well, Other times, like today. I falter.

Thank God for His grace. As I child I learned a simplistic definition:

G od’s

R edemption

A t

C hrist’s

E xpense

That redemption freed me from the bondage to and penalty of sin. The power of Christ’s sacrifice became mine the moment I admitted my sin and received His gift of salvation.

But “redemption” has present and future implications as well. One day, in God’s eternal kingdom, wrong doing won’t tarnish my life or my world.

In the here-and-now, God empowers me to live as He desires—and picks me up and helps me start again when I fail. He is Darlene's quote with a sunrise background imagealways ready to forgive me when I come to Him, after I made a mess yet again.

God doesn’t hold what I said yesterday against me, nor expect it to dictate what I say today. Instead, He gives me discernment, guidance, love, and forgiveness when I need it.

Experiencing God’s grace on a deep level allows me to move past my feelings of condemnation when I’ve spoken harshly and helps me speak and behave graciously in the future. If I’m healed of past hurts, caused by my sins or someone else’s, I’m less likely to lash out against someone else.

Whatever I encounter, God’s grace helps me to consider, is this problem important to complain about? And if I do, is this the person who can help? The standard is God’s grace and how He views the person who has hurt me or I’m in conflict with.

Living in grace means I accept what Christ has freely given me and and then pass it on to others.

Sometimes my soft answers turns aside another’s anger and conflict is avoided. But not always. Regardless, returning anger for anger doesn’t benefit anyone, and it’s certainly not how Christ treated His enemies.

The more I live in the grace Christ extends to me, the more likely I am to speak in grace.

***

Let’s talk about this! When do you most struggle showing others grace, whether with your words or your behavior? How does taking time to rest in Jesus and remind yourself of His grace help you in those moments? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another. And before you go, make sure to sign up for me free quarterly newsletter, releasing at the end of this month. You can do so HERE.

Get to know Darlene!

Darlene Franklin's author photoBest-selling Amazon and ECPA author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she continues to write from a nursing home. She keeps going because God keeps giving her more assignments. She’s written more than fifty-five fiction and nonfiction books, including Pray Through the Bible in a Year and Of Cash and Cats in Love Comes on Kitten Paws   

Keep up with her online HERE and visit her author page on Amazon HERE.

Check out her latest release, Cinderella’s Boot:

Two romantic novellas where fairy tales do come true.

Cynthia Ellen Cooper—known affectionately as “Cinderella”—left her wedding boot in the dust when she ran away from her wedding to work on a sheep station in Australia.

Four years later, she’s back home—and so is her ex-fiancé, now a DVM from Oklahoma State University. They reach a truce and work side by side in his father’s animal clinic.

Cyn soon discovers she wants more—but she has to battle bad history and a demanding pet owner for Keith’s attention.

How can Cinderella find a second chance at love? 

HILLBILLY CINDERELLA

When Cindy Lou Hopkins turns twenty-five life will get better. She knows it. She’ll no longer be under the thumb of her stepmother Geneva or tormented by her stepsisters. She just has to stay alive that long.

The only kink in her plan for independence is the handsome, Lance Moore, she jokingly calls the town prince. A man who wants to get to know her better. A man Cindy isn’t worthy to be in the same room as.

When Lance throws a barn dance, Cindy is determined to have one night with him that will carry her through the rest of her life. Can she set aside prejudices from a bygone time and embrace her happily ever after?

The Dangers of Pain Avoidance

danger signPain avoidance can lead to devastating, enslaving, and life-squelching results. No one enjoys pain, whether physical, mental, or spiritual. In fact, most of us will go to great lengths to preserve our comfort level—many times, unfortunately, to our own harm.

Admittedly, I’m likely more pain adverse than most. My husband and I became engaged in Nebraska (where I live now), and at the time, one needed blood tests before they could receive a marriage license.

This scared me on a couple levels. First, my past was far from squeaky clean and I’d always harbored a fear that I’d become infected with HIV. Second, I hated needles. So much so that the mere thought of one pricking my skin caused my pulse to rise, my muscles to tense, and my stomach to engage in enough fluttering to initiate a violent sense of nausea.

But I loved my fiancé (now husband) and desperately wanted to spend my life with him! So, each day, I’d drive to the local hospital, add my name to the blood-draw list, and wait. And wait. And wait.

And in my waiting, my anxiety grew until, ten to thirty minutes later, I walked out and drove home in defeat. Finally, my husband took time off work to drive me there himself, sitting with me in the waiting room to make sure I didn’t leave.

All fear stems from pain avoidance, and often, this avoidance ends up costing us much more than what we may have experienced had we simply confronted our fears.

We fear the pain of rejection and so we hold tight to unhealthy relationships or become relational chameleons. But by presenting a false self, we rob ourselves of the gift that comes from connecting with those who know us fully and love us anyway.

When our daughter entered public school after years of homeschooling and a short stint in Christian education, she suddenly found herself in the throws of a completely different culture. One that, at times, could be quite antagonistic to people of faith. I feared her desire to fit in, to make friends, to avoid the sting of rejection and loneliness, would sway her behavior, potentially leading her in a dangerous direction.

Until she told me about an incident during her social studies class. The teacher asked the students, if they could change the world, what would they wish for? Ashley raised her hand and said, “That everyone would be Christians, because then there’d be more love and less hate.”

Knowing how much she longed to make friends in this new environment, I was flabbergasted and asked, “Were you worried how the others might respond?”

“No,” she replied. “I’d rather they know who I am, and either like me or not for that.”

In other words, she was prepared for the possible sting of rejection, and though I have no doubt some amount of fear lingered at the thought, she faced that fear, and in so doing, embraced a deeper level of freedom.

She also discovered her people—friends who loved her for who she was, not who she could’ve pretended to be.

When we think of pain, usually our minds jump to the physical, and that can be daunting for sure. But emotional pain—loss, rejection, betrayal—has the capacity to hurt us most. Because of this, pain avoidance can become our driving motivation. It can cripple us and hinder our ability to live fully alive, if we let it.

But like I did in that hospital lab so long ago, and my daughter did in a middle school classroom, we can face our fears, even if that means embracing potential pain, to live in freedom.