Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Quick to Give Our Anger to God {Anger Series}


Last week, on the day I started this series on anger, I opened an email with this Verse of the Day from BibleGateway.com 
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. James 1:19 CEB
Appropriate, don’t you think? God’s perfect timing.

I’ve been thinking about each part of this verse and what it means in my life.

Quick to listen – not just hearing someone speak, but actually listening to what she’s saying.

Slow to speak – thinking before jumping to conclusions and stating my opinions.

Slow to grow angry – controlling my feelings so that anger isn’t my first reaction. Anger lashes out and shuts down communication. {<==Tweet this}

For many, anger has been an initial reaction for so long, it takes over without even thinking about it. To change this first response takes intentionally recognizing how I feel and why.

On my own, this can be difficult, which leads me to a fourth point to apply:

Be quick to give it to God.

I don’t mean what might be a common prayer…God, change her! She’s making me mad.

No, I mean tell God how I’m feeling and ask Him to help me figure out why. Am I short-tempered and low on patience today? Is my anger stemming from old unhealed wounds? Is there a legitimate reason I’m growing angry?

And then…pay attention to what He shows me, and seek His guidance in my reaction.

God diffuses my anger better than I can, no matter how hard I try. When I rely on Him, I am able to act less out of the emotion of anger, and more out of conscious control of what I might say or do.

By taking it to God, I make the intentional decision to address it with Him, instead of letting it boil inside.

Talking to friends and family may help, but it’s important to realize that it often just gives momentum to the anger. Talking to others helps us feel justified—we want reassurance that we have every right to feel the way that we do. However, if you feel more irritated after sharing, it probably didn’t help the situation at all.

But, talking to God is different. He never adds fuel to the fire of anger. He doesn’t encourage negativity, and He doesn’t condemn me for my anger. Just as much as He loves me in that moment, He loves the one I’m unhappy with. That’s not always easy to remember, I know.

It’s a humbling reminder that He loves each of us, no matter what we’ve done. We like to rank sin from the worst, to the not-as-bad, but to God, sin is sin. Which means…if I let anger control my actions, it’s just as bad as whatever was done to me. (Ouch.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this anger issue. What do you struggle with most?


In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hold My Tongue {Anger Series}


I was so angry last week I wanted to yell. But…with yelling usually comes saying things I shouldn’t. (I kind of know this from experience.) So, before I went huffing and puffing into the next room, I prayed.

I asked God to hold my tongue and not let me say what I was thinking. And then I asked Him to help me calm down and diffuse the emotions that were overcoming me.

I didn’t always know to do this, to ask God to keep me from speaking. And even though I know it now, I still don’t always want to pray first because it means thinking first and speaking second.

Or maybe not speaking at all.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 NLT
My words were going to be harsh. Anger does that. It makes us act in ugly ways. But, we can learn to control it…if we want to.

God created us with emotions, and anger is a human emotion. It’s not a sin to be angry, but how we act while angry can be sinful.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV
Acting and speaking out of anger fuels the fire in a disagreement. It keeps it going back and forth, and no one wins. Except the enemy. Satan loves it when we give him an easy way in, and uncontrolled anger is an open door.

Whatever I was angry about last week was not worth it. I stayed where I was until I felt calmer. I was still angry, but not like I had been. I believe God answered my prayer by keeping me still and my voice silent. It’s a prayer I’m trying to pray more often.
A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. Proverbs 12:16 NLT

This post begins a new series titled Anger…regaining control. I’d love to hear your feedback. Whether it’s a quick temper or feelings built up over the years, do you struggle with anger?

I don’t have a specific time frame for how long this series will run; we’ll just see how it goes. (Please note: I’m not trained in anger management, counseling, or anything in between. I’m just writing from my own experiences and what God is showing me through His Word.)

In Christ,
Laura 

Friday, May 20, 2016

God’s Strength to Persevere


I drove home the other day almost in tears. No reason really. Just. Life.

You know those days? You’re handling what comes your way without upset, taking the unexpected issues in stride, keeping up with the schedule, and then…you hit the point when you realize just how tired you are, physically, emotionally, even spiritually.

Yep, that was me. Tears and driving don’t mix, so I talked to God. And one word was His only answer.

Persevere.

It was His gentle reminder. Persevere is my One Word for this year, but I haven’t been thinking about it much. Just trying to do it.

Now I can’t stop thinking about it in very specific ways.

Persevere—through the tough days that string together for too long.

Persevere—in holding on to hope, when it seems others have given up.

Persevere—in following Jesus, especially when I know I’m under spiritual attack.

Persevere—when it feels like it would be easier to quit.
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11 NIV
In God’s reminder to persevere I felt comforted. And strengthened. I realized that it’s not enough to keep going on my own. I need to lean into His strength…and His compassion.

In Christ,
Laura  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Leave a Legacy of Faith


How do you hope to be remembered someday? Whether it’s your children, family, co-workers, or the person you met one time, what would you like them to remember about you?
I know I’ll be remembered differently depending on how close I was to that person. For example, my daughter will remember me in personal ways from our time spent together, while a co-worker might only remember me from the office environment.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve realized that the greatest legacy I can leave my family, friends, or someone I meet once in my lifetime is my faith.
Legacy, by definition, is something handed down or received, often from an ancestor or predecessor. Among the synonyms for legacy is gift. (dictionary.com)
The greatest legacy or gift I can leave to others is the way in which I live out my faitheveryday, with everyone.

I'm sharing this post over at LifeLetter Cafe. Please follow me over to continue reading...Leave a Legacy of Faith.

In Christ,
Laura 

[This post originally appeared at 5 Minutes for Faith in 2012. Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Small Steps Are Big


“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’Matthew 25:21 NLT

We like to skip the small stuff and move right to the big, don’t we? Small steps take time, and that’s time we don’t want to “waste.” We want to move to the end result—the bigger office, the better promotion, the nicer house that’s not quite affordable…we like to get to the big ending, and the faster, the better.

But lately, I’ve been noticing the small stuff more—the small goals I reach, the quiet opportunities I’ve been given, the small steps outside of my comfort zone that stretch me just the right amount.

Small steps are good. In fact, the smallest steps can be the biggest leaps of faith.

I'm so excited to be guest posting today over at TheLaundryMoms.com! I hope you'll join me there to continue reading my post...Small Steps Are Big!

In Christ,
Laura 

Photo credit: TheLaundryMoms.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Five Years and 500 Blog Posts


This is my 500th blog post. I wasn’t counting, or even paying attention. I just noticed it when I posted my 499th post last week and realized it’s been five years since I felt God “suggest” that I start a blog and host an online book study for women.

By “suggest,” I mean the idea came completely out of nowhere—I hadn’t even thought about it before that moment. But, as will happen when God whispers a part of His plan, the idea didn’t go away.

Here I am five years later. I look back at those first blog posts and cringe, but then I see how I’ve grown as a blogger and a writer, and how I’ve grown personally. Blogging has been a way for me to process and share what I’ve learned, and what God is still teaching me.

It’s been five years of walking outside of my comfort zone…because every time I start to feel comfortable, God stretches me in a new way.

This past weekend, I attended my first writer’s conference. At times, I felt overwhelmed and intimidated. I questioned why I was there and doubted myself—but I never regretted my decision to go. Instead, I moved forward through all of those feelings, speaking with editors, publishers, and fellow writers. I left having made new friends and with some new goals in mind.

Clicking “Publish” on that very first post five years ago was a big step in faith, and so was registering for a conference where I knew no one. But God’s plans are like that—they require stepping out in faith, even when that first step is all you can see.

For you, it might not be writing, but something completely different. No matter what it is, if you feel God has called you to something, trust Him and don’t let fear overwhelm you. If you let it stop you, you will miss out on where God wants to take you.

Although I would like to know all of the details in advance, I’m learning that it’s not necessary when it’s God’s plan. He leads at just the right time—His time, not mine. Then one day I look back and see how far we’ve come…and I realize time flies when you’re walking in obedience to the One who has called us.

In Christ,
Laura 

Photo credit: FreeImages.com