Unexpressed Anger

I have never been good at expressing anger. I tend to stuff it down claiming that it is better for everyone. I worry that expressing my anger will hurt someone. Needless to say, that means I have a lot of unexpressed anger. I have warned my family that I am working on expressing my anger. They are amused by that. Apparently, my version of anger isn’t very angry.

I have always believed that there are places where anger is completely appropriate. Grief is one of those places. Expressing anger at the loss of someone is one of the stages of grief. My dad died 19 years ago when my oldest was only 3 months old. He died unexpectedly in his sleep. It has taken all of these years to realize that I had unexpressed anger regarding his death. I was angry that my children wouldn’t get to know him.

Unexpressed anger stays in the body. It doesn’t go away. It becomes this underlying stress that can lead to depression, anxiety and forms of chronic disease of which the list is long. I think that’s why we are told to go ahead and be angry and not hold it in as Paul tells us in this scripture.

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. (Ephesians 4:26 MSG).

Once again this scripture reminds me that God cares for our emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing. His way shows me how to care for the whole whole person not just the spiritual side of me. He cares about my relationship with Him and my ability to share his love to others by caring for my physical and emotional health.

My attempts to control my emotions and suppress the expression of anger have only caused other issues both physical and emotional. It also teaches those around me that anger isn’t an emotion we are to express. This hurts my family. Learning to follow this scripture will not only improve my health, but my relationships, as well.

How do you handle anger? Have you learned healthy ways to express this natural emotion? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Mama’s Heart

Recently, my husband has been noting the different way a mom (me) approaches parenting versus a dad (him). He has his approach and I have mine. The truth is we do approach things differently. A mama’s heart is fiercely protective, nurturing and focused on the well-being of her cubs. It shows itself in the way this mama comforts, cares, and teaches.

This has shown itself in the last few months as we have pursued the best way to support our son’s health. I will research, analyze and pursue the best options with proven results. I tend to pursue treatments that don’t involve medication until it’s a last result. The dad version would move to medication sooner.

Men and women, moms and dads are created differently. I believe that God intended us to be different, yet we are all created in His image. God is fully male and female and we are all a mix of those characteristics. Yes, we all have feminine and masculine traits to different degrees. Yet, male and female are uniquely different.

Since we often use male pronouns in referring to God (self included), it’s easy to forget about the more feminine aspects of God. It’s easy to forget that I’m created with those characteristics. Living into those traits allows me to express God to others. It allows me to be fully who I’m created to be.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” … (Proverbs 31:25-30 ESV).

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV).

Scripture reminds shows us the mama heart of God. It shows us the intention placed within the feminine. Mother’s Day is a great time to pause and celebrate the special characteristics God gave women to bare most fully and uniquely in the world.

How does the mama’s heart show up for you? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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An Empty Quiver

Sometimes I’m fortunate to read a book that ignites my faith and encourages me to continue to pursue God’s will in my life. I’m encouraged to use every arrow and end with an empty quiver.

Erwin McManus uses the Old Testament story of Elisha and King Jehoash. He uses this story to show that we should keep going and not stop in life until God says stop. It seems simple and straightforward. Yet, I know I pull back when life gets hard. I’m reluctant when God is challenging me to move forward and do more. Here are a few quotes that are challenging me.

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity.” “It requires that we defy the odds. You have no control of whether you have been endowed with above average talent or intelligence or physical attributes. What you can control is whether you choose to I’ve your life defined and determined by the status quo. Even when the law of averages works against you, you can still defy the odds.”

“We need to raise the bar of our standards of our faith, of our sacrifice, of our expectations of ourselves, of our belief of the goodness and generosity of God.”

I have no trouble believing in God’s goodness and generosity for others, but often am left questioning “Why me?” Why would God be good and generous to me? But, it’s believing in exactly that, that allows me to have an empty quiver. Holding this scripture close remind me that God will go to great lengths for His children including me.

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, “He throws caution to the winds,
    giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
    never run out, never wear out.” This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God. (2 Corinthians 9:8-11 MSG).

The Last Arrow is a great read for encouragement and renewed passion for what God is calling us to. I was given a renewed excitement to live into what God has charged me with knowing that His generosity is extravagant and will give me what I need to accomplish His goals. I will use every arrow I’m given and end with an empty quiver.

How do you live into God’s generosity? How does He encourage you to live into all He calls you to? Share your experience here and breathe live and bring hope to others.

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Peace Is With You

It started as a regular Sunday. During the message at church, Pastor shared the scripture of Jesus returning to the disciples. Then he shared tht as he typed “peace be with you” his auto correct changed it to “peace is with you.” Those words sunk deep within me. Peace is with me. It wasn’t until later in the day that I would realize the full depth of those words.

You see, we went to a movie as a family. It was a great time with the four of us. I’d been looking forward to it for weeks. There was a sad moment during the movie and I started to cry which was no surprise to the family. I do cry easily. This time I struggled to stop crying. I wanted to sob uncontrollably. It was a sad moment but not that sad.

After the movie, I was really crabby. I was struggling to be nice to hubby. Inside, I wanted to cry some more. I knew this was more than a movie, but what? Then it hit me. It was the two year anniversary of my niece’s death from cancer. Then came the real ugly cry as I though about her and the scripture from this morning.

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:19-27 NIV).

When Jesus appeared, the disciples were grieving. He entered their midst and said, “Peace is with you.” In the same way He entered in the midst of my grief and brought peace. Peace is with me. It’s the gift of Jesus. He reminded me that Steph is not gone, but always with us through Him. Even though my heart still hurts, there is peace.

How has God entered your midst and said, “Peace is with you.” How has He brought you comfort in sadness? How has He reminded you that you are not alone? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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The Power of Belief

I am known, within my family, as the one who looks for any alternative form of healing than a path that includes traditional western medicine. I don’t have anything against the healthcare system. It serves a lifegiving purpose to many. I have and will continue to use it as needed. However, I also use diet, exercise, homeopathy, naturopathy, essential oils, functional medicine, herbs etc to bring health. I believe there many ways to get to health including the power in belief.

I learned this in my early teens. My aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I don’t remember a lot about her diagnosis except that she wasn’t given long to live and began agressive chemotherapy. She lived a couple of hours away from the hospital where she was receiving treatment, so she stayed with us during treatments. I watched my mom care for her as she fought through the sickness the chemo brought.

Often, I would come into the living room and she would have headphones on listening to a cassette. Yes, a cassette-this was a few decades ago. I finally asked her what she was listening to. It was a meditation that helped her visualize the cancer being eaten by super powered cancer fighting cells and taken out of her body. As I recall, she had a grand baby on the way and was determined to live to see this little one enter the world. What was a death sentence turned into remission through the power of belief.

Cancer did eventually take her life, but she left me with a gift. Belief is a powerful force that can change the traditional prescribed outcome to a situation. She taught me that there is much more to this world beyond what I can see and touch. I am so grateful for her gift beyond my pursuit of alternatives in healing.

John 20:29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” NIV.

I believe in grace, mercy and forgiveness. I believe in a God who loves unconditionally. I believe that Christ came as a living example of that unconditional love who died and rose again so that I could have life eternal. I believe there is power in that belief.

What do you believe? How has God shown you His power through your bief? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others..

Mom in My Corner

Once you reach a certain age, you think you don’t need your mom anymore. I will always want her in my life, but I didn’t think I needed her in my corner the way I did when I was young. I didn’t think I needed her cheering me on. It was my turn to be there for her, so I thought.

She’s a spunky 88 years old. Our conversations and time together has changed over the years. We can’t shop for hours like we used to do. We don’t take the kids and walk the neighborhood like we used to do. Now, I worry about her health, preventing falls, and keeping her safe.

My sister sent me a text message saying she was bringing Mom up to hear me preach. I was shocked. It is hard to travel that far. I’m about an hour away from her. I was touched that she wanted to hear me and make the trip. I felt her love and encouragement. The tears started to roll down my cheeks as I realized I still need Mom in my corner.

It’s easy to forget, as an adult, what it feels like to have someone cheer you on. It’s easy to forget that God is my corner cheering me on.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

Yes, I still need mom in my corner, but more so, I needed to be reminded that God is in my corner. I always have Him cheering me on. I always have His encouragement. I am never alone.

It’s easy to think of God being there for me when times are tough. He’s my rescuer, my comforter. It is hard for me to think of God being proud of me. Why is that? I need to remind myself that He made us in His image, that His works are wonderful. He desires our success. He is cheering us on.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. (Psalm 139: 13-14 NIV).

I have to force myself to imagine it, and when I do, it makes me smile. It fills my heart with joy. It’s worth taking the time to see God in our corner. Try it. You might be surprised.

Who is cheering you on? How is God in your corner? SHare your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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He Chose You

This is a bit of a divergence from my usual posts. The audio is about 17 minutes long. It is for anyone who has every struggled with forgiveness especially God’s forgiveness or forgiving self. If you are still carrying around guilt and shame this is for you. If you don’t have the time, I encourage you to read Psalm 32 multiple times and hear what God is saying to you.

As we approach Easter, this is a helpful reminder of why this season is so special to many of us. Enjoy the Joy of Forgiveness.

Thanks for endulging this divergence. As always, share how God has brought you to forgiveness and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Parent’s Heart

Something profound happens when one becomes a parent. Love overwhelms the heart. We gain a parent’s heart. We want the best for our kids. We make decisions. We guide. We set boundaries. We teach right from wrong. We strive to impart only the best parts of ourselves. The problem is we fail at least I have.

In an effort to raise young adults who are compassionate, self sufficient, and grounded in faith, I have put them under pressure. I have sent the wrong message. What was intended to teach was received as inadequacy.

Recently, I was wallowing in self guilt feeling like I failed my kids. My logical brain knows there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Proclaiming unconditional love is often received as conditional. I haven’t done a good job of knowing when to push versus guide. In all honesty, these are my feelings. I have no idea how my kids have received my version of parenting. I want my parental guilt replaced with a parent’s heart, a parent’s heart that is molded by God.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV).

God’s love is perfect, unconditional, giving, guiding, provides boundaries and leaves us feeling whole, valued and worthy. I need to forgive myself for my shortcomings, learn from God’s unfailing love, and share that love with others.

Forgiving myself has been one of the hardest things for me to learn to do. I struggle to let go of hurts I cause other particularly my children. I know God forgives me as soon as I ask, but my heart often doesn’t want to let go. I have learned to say to myself, “I forgive myself.” I have to be that explicit for my heart to change. It seems strange, but it works.

A parent’s heart that is God’s heart is the goal. I remind myself that I am forgiven and that I forgive myself. I’m done with parental guilt for today, anyway. I am a work in progress.

How have you struggled with guilt? How has God changed your heart? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Change My Heart

It happened again. Anxiety took over. There was no logic behind it. I became a puddle in a good old ugly cry. I didn’t come to the answer on my own. With the work I’ve been doing with a professional, it became clear that as a teenager I had decided that I was unlovable, unworthy of love. All I could think was change my heart, God.

The tears continued to pour out as we talked through this pivotal moment. I had decided it was safer to be alone than let others in. Is was safer to alone than seek approval from others. It was safer to be alone than trust God’s love.

An unconscious decision as a teenager changed my heart toward, myself, others and God. It caused me to put up a wall, a wall between myself and others, as well as, a wall between myself and God. I knew His teachings and believed in Him, but kept him at arms length.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV).

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

I wanted to change this subtle underlying belief that was still impacting my life. I wanted to claim this scripture from Ezekiel as a promise for my heart. I wanted to continue to chip away at the wall I had put up between myself and God.

I was invited with eyes closed to envision Jesus taking all the hurt and feelings of being unworthy. I saw Him wrapped in white lights to bright to look at absorbing all the hurt and pain. I was then told that Jesus had a gift for me. She asked what it was. I told her He handed me a diamond. She asked why. He said it was because I’m precious. I was overwhelmed by what a simple guided meditation could do for my heart. At the same time, I knew this is exactly what God would do to let me know how great His love is. This is exactly what He would to do change my heart.

Have you heard lately that you are precious? Are you in need of a changed heart? Cry out to God. See what He has for you. You are precious in His sight.

Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Yet another snow storm strikes. Everyone I know is sick of snow, shoveling and poor road conditions. When I’m out in a storm, I just want to get home. There is something about home that calls to me when I’m away. That calling multiplies when storms hit. I want to get to where I’m safe, warm and protected. It’s my place of refuge, but it’s just a building.

Refuge is a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. It is something I seek in when storms hit. I want shelter and safety. It can be a building, but I can’t take it with me. I have to go out. I have to leave my place of comfort and safety. I have another source of refuge that never leaves me. I want that sense of comfort no matter where I am or what I face. God is that source of refuge that I can seek at any time.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV).

You, God, are my refuge and strength. You are where I run when Iife is hard. You are where I turn for comfort. You are the source of peace in my heart. You are the calm in my storms. You are always with me even in the midst of life’s turbulence.

As I seek to restore my heart and calm anxieties, You are with me. As I face difficult memories from my childhood, You bring me comfort. As I explore the choices of a young girl trying to make sense of the senseless, You push away the fear.

Why would You hold me up when I want to crumble to the floor? Why do You wipe the tears off my face? Why do you bring strength when I feel so weak? Why, because You always keep your promises. You want me to share those promises with others. You want to be everyone’s refuge in the storm.

Where do you go in a storm? How has God been a refuge for you? Share your story here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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