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Entries in Peace (6)

Tuesday
Feb272018

4 Steps to Dealing with Disappointment

I have no doubt Kathy Carlton Willis is qualified to teach us on the subject of disappointment in this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE. I was on her prayer team last year when she experienced what she calls, “back-to-back-to-back disappointments.”

"I started the year in the hospital for a post-surgical infection," Kathy says. "It required additional surgery, going home with a PICC line, and a change in plans to allow time for recovery."

I (Dawn) think most of us would struggle with just that, but Kathy's tale of struggle and disappoint went on and on. And so did her commitment to deal with those struggles in a "grin with grace way.

Kathy continues . . . 

I was so disappointed in how that impacted my year. I had to cancel contracts with clients and postpone a writer’s getaway.

My diet and exercise plans were on pause, too. Everything just felt off kilter.

Then, when I finally got back in the swing of things, I had four disappointments hit almost simultaneously.

  • I developed a urinary tract infection that wouldn’t go away.
  • The antibiotic I took for it caused a tendon injury.
  • Hurricane Harvey hit.
  • And if that wasn’t enough, it flooded a home we had in contract.

Notice I said, “had.” Harvey nullified the purchase.

Oh, and somewhere in all of that, I received a book rejection from a publishing house.

I’m not going to bore you with all the other commonplace disappointments, but these were the biggies!

You’ve had years like that, right? How did you handle the disappointments? Maybe you are going through a frustrating setback right now.

I’ve learned it doesn’t work to ignore the loss, and it’s not healthy to stay stalled out.

Each disappointment requires a process.

Here’s my 4-Step Process for Dealing with Disappointment.

1. Rightfully MOURN the loss.

Joy has left our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. (Lamentations 5:15 NLT)

Disappointments stem from losing something we had or not getting something for which we hoped. Either way, we experience sadness.

Grieving is a painful process, but if we try to avoid it, we only manage to delay healing. When we mourn, the sadness subsides, and we are ready to move on.

2. Receive more of God's COMFORT and peace.

Look up the words "comfort" and "peace" in the Bible and you’ll see it is the Holy Spirit’s role to soothe your soul. Don't feel guilty for needing it—we all do!

Will you invite God’s Spirit to embrace you, rock you, and sing songs of consolation?

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)

3. Ask God’s DIRECTION for something new or something to renew.

Once you’ve received God’s comfort, it’s time to look around to see what God has next for you, rather than continue self-reflecting.

It’s possible He will use your story to help someone else.

God helps you gain closure from your hurt so the pain no longer blinds you from your purpose.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

4. Move on with a RENEWED passion or project in something bigger than yourself.

There’s nothing like a new project to keep me going despite the let downs!

I anticipate seeing God at work, producing lightbulb moments.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT)

These are my four steps to deal with disappointment. Which step are you ready to take?

God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.

Tuesday
May162017

Four Ways to Get through the Storm

In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, Kathy Carlton Willis refers to a tremendous "storm" she's going through. I’m on the prayer team for Kathy and have been privy to her prayer needs. She doesn’t just share requests, but also how they affect her.

Kathy told me:

“I’m starting to look at the storms of life differently.”

That piqued my (Dawn's) interest. She’s been through plenty of storms—enough to provide a full education on how to be a storm dweller!

Kathy continues . . .

I had just been to see a surgeon and infectious disease doctor about an ongoing medical situation. While in the medical center, a tornado warning was issued. A twister had been spotted in the vicinity.

But I stayed putI needed to hear what the doctors would say regarding my health.

Their words still rang in my ears as we stepped into our car. Thankfully, my husband Russ was there to drive us the one hundred miles home.

The worst storm imaginable buffeted us from every angle. We’d driven through hurricanes and tropical storms and hail, but this was worse.

Every time I prayed for God to remove the storm, the storm worsened.

The sky grew darker, the rain pounded worse, no visibility, hydroplaning, wind, and more.

It wasn’t until I quit praying for God to remove the storm, and simply asked Him to be with us in it and to get us through it, that the rain lightened up a bit and we could see our way. Eventually we could resume our normal speed and found our way home.

Once I realized it was God’s presence that gave me such powerful peace through the storm, I thought of this verse in Joshua:

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT).

Brother Lawrence wrote a book titled The Practice of the Presence of God. This monk expressed the importance of not reserving awareness of God’s presence for church services. He taught how it took practice to focus on God and bring Him into everyday living.

Of course, God is always there, but this practice is a discipline to be mindful of His presence by your side (and in you). Brother Lawrence learned to do life with God, whether he was involved in a household chore, taking a walk, or something else. He turned mundane activities into opportunities to talk to God (and listen).

When we go through storms, it’s an important time to practice the presence of God.

When you let go of your expectation that God is the Great Fixer, and instead be content that He is the Great Friend, you can get through any difficult time.

Here are four ways to do that:

1. Be mindful of God with you.

He’s always there, but it’s up to you to sense His presence. Be on the lookout!

2. Swap prayers for praise.

When we swap our focus from our needs to His deeds, we realize His presence is enough to get through this storm.

3. Surrender your agenda.

He’s a big enough God to take care of us, no matter what the storm is.

(I think of how calm Jesus was when the storm hit the disciples’ boat. I want that calmness!)

4. Daydream about God.

Use your everyday, routine, mindless tasks as an opportunity to fix your thoughts on Jesus.

How much BETTER this is than to fill in the blank spaces with regrets about what is past or worries about what is yet to come.

And then when the storms do come, you’re ready to face them.

How will you invite Jesus to hang out with you in the midst of your current storm?

God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of skeeze at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Dec272016

Making Peace with the Dishwasher Door

In this Attitudes UPGRADE, Rhonda Rhea reminds us we may not be in control of circumstances, but we are all in charge of our attitudes.

"Forget all those personality tests," Rhonda says. "Never mind the character studies. If you want insights into your own psyche, try the dishwasher."

Try the WHAT? Like I (Dawn) said, Rhonda is a pro at twisting everyday stuff into lessons for us all.

Rhonda continues . . .

The dishwasher is a handy-dandy machine that can reveal what you’re really made of.

All you have to do is follow these simple operating instructions: 

  1. Leave dishwasher door open.
  2. Unwittingly apply shin forcefully to side of the open door.
  3. Repeat as needed.

There’s your temperament analysis.

A few years ago, there was a week or two when our dishwasher door wouldn’t stay closed. By the end of that time, I’m pretty sure I had taken a lot more personality tests than one personality can reasonably handle. Also more than one person’s shins can reasonably handle. My legs looked like a couple of old bananas.

Are those leopard print leggings?

No. No, they aren’t. … I wasn’t wearing leggings.

I’m not sure why I didn’t get better at maneuvering around that thing. Or even remembering that it was there.

Why didn’t I just learn to hurdle? I should’ve been Olympic-event-ready after the first few days.

It was, in fact, a strong leg survival instinct that inspired us to get the door fixed. And in the couple of weeks before it was fixed, there’s a good chance my family may have seen a little more of my “personality” than they wanted.

We often find out what we’re made of when we run into difficulties. Maybe even more so when we run into those difficulties really hard.

How do we respond when we hit a surprise painful situation?

  • Anger?
  • Bitterness?
  • Self-pity?
  • Thinking life is unfair?
  • Thinking God is unfair?

How we respond directly relates to the peace we will—or won’t—experience in a painful situation.

It’s not so much a personality thing. It’s instead about what we let happen by our own choices.

In Colossians 3:15 Paul says, “And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts” (HCSB).

There’s an important “let” in his instruction. We need to “let” His peace rule.

Sometimes we let personality—or some other aspect of ourselves—control our hearts. There are times when we focus on difficulty or injustice and end up letting bitterness rule. Or negativity. Or defeat and self-absorption. Sometimes we just plain surrender to sin and let it rule.

All those fleshly things certainly will control our hearts if we let them. They want that control.

Our flesh has a strong survival instinct.

The Greek word translated “control” in this passage is a word that means to be a referee or director—like one who presides over an Olympic game. The indwelling presence of our Messiah and the peace that He gives will referee our every internal battle. And peace wins the day at every point we will “let.”

Is there anything else you’re letting control your heart? Let His peace control instead. That’s the way to hurdle over any difficulty and win. Not just an Olympic win. A life win.

It’s at our humble surrender to His peace that we’re able to be fruitful, joy-filled, thankful—successfully passing every test. Even a personality test.

Yes, even the dishwasher-door-to-the-shin personality test.

What is your "test" this week? Will you let God's peace control?

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality, speaker and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?, Espresso Your Faith - 30 Shots of God's Word to Wake You Up, and a book designed to encourage Pastor's Wives (P-Dubs): Join the Insanity. Rhonda, a sunny pastor's wife, lives near St. Louis and is "Mom" to five grown children. Find out more at www.RhondaRhea.com.

Graphic, courtesy of HomeBuildingLessons.com.

Thursday
May052016

Passing on Our Peace of Mind

When I think of the word "peace," I think of Julie Sanders. She has weathered changes recently, focusing on the Lord, and she is excited to serve Him. In this Mother's Day UPGRADE, the writes about a special kind of legacy we can leave the next generation.

"Whether we are a grandparent, mom, foster parent, or mentor," Julie says, "children will challenge our peace. Parenting is not a place to lose our peace of mind and heart. How do we keep the peace and pass it on?"

As I (Dawn) think back to my early parenting days, I have to admit many nights I pillowed my head with the opposite of peace. I think many moms today are "wired," stressed out and searching for peace too! But having peace isn't just about us.

Julie continues . . .

Since we can’t impact what we don’t possess, passing peace to the next generation starts with practicing it in our personal life.

Before we can give kids "a peace of our mind," we have to have it planted firmly in our own.

Many children are more familiar with “meltdowns” and being “stressed out” than models of calm in the commotion of a day.

Because children today live in a conflicted world, they need to see a heart of peace modeled—to take a godly, grown up hand and walk pathways of peace through uncertainty.

Only when peace fills us can it pour out of us.

1. Pursue it

Faith in Christ not only makes the personal practice of peaceful living possible; it makes it a promise (Romans 5:1). Women who believe in Jesus move from grasping for out-of-reach peace to the promise of it.

The pursuit of a calmly-confident way of living is not unrealistic for those who know Christ. God has made it possible through His Son.

Confidently, expectantly, pursue the peace you are meant to experience in this life.

2. Prioritize it

It’s never been easier to be distracted from God’s ways. Instead of hoping to receive a randomly-grown peaceful spirit, take steps to cultivate it. Plan to read your Bible, be with God’s people, and practice prayer.

Children will learn to love the peaceful life, crave it and plan for it. Instead of focusing on worldly worries in our conversations and energy, setting our mind on the Spirit produces “life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Put peace at the top of your list of daily pursuits, and those in your life will be touched and taught by the calm that comes with you. If peace matters, plan for it.

3. Protect it

Your enemy works against your desire to pass on peace. Expect to be opposed, but determine to protect the peace you need, want and value (Romans 12:18; 14:19). When relationships in your home, workplace, church, or community stir conflict and drain peace from your heart, work to stop it. Refuse to focus on worldly worry.

Choose peace and guard its place in your life. Peace is worth having to give.

4. Pass it on

The next generation looks for hope they don’t see in the world. “Is there cause for hope?” they want to know. Those who have pursued peace as a priority say, “Yes, and ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope,‘”(Romans 15:13).

Women who walk in God’s peace pass on a heart and mind of peace to children who come after them. Mom? Grandma? Aunt? Friend? Mentor? Foster mom? Your gift of a peaceful life will serve the next generation well.

If we put our faith in Christ, we can expect peace of mind and heart. “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace,” (James 3:18).

Today’s children look for grown ups walking in peace, and as they find us, they will follow in pathways sown with the seeds of peace.

Our gift of a peaceful life will serve the next generation well.

What are you already doing to cultivate a life of peace? Would those around you say you bring peace with you?

Julie Sanders, the mom of two young adults and a mentor to teens and young moms, is purposefully passing on peace to the next generations. As the director of a program in the Inland Northwest for children and families in poverty, Julie believes living out God’s peace is a powerful way to bring hope to our hurting world. She writes from her online home: “Come Have a Peace.”

Graphic adapted, courtesty of pixabay.

 

Wednesday
Jun032015

Out with the Ick, In with the Peace

As a writer, I’ve often wished I could exchange brains with witty, truth-gritty Rhonda Rhea. She says more with 15 minutes of humor than most people spout in an hour. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Rhonda explains how a decluttered mind can help us grow in peace.

“O, they tell me of an unclouded brain!” Rhonda says. “How can I exchange brain clutter for peace?”

An unclouded brain. An uncluttered brain. I (Dawn) would like either one! Too much brain fog lately! Help me, Rhonda!

Rhonda continues…

I had a wrestling match with my vacuum recently. It was doing that wimpy-clean thing—you know, where you have to get down on your hands and knees and hand-feed it every little fuzz ball?

If I’m going to do that, I might as well not have a vacuum cleaner. I could just pick up the fuzz and throw it in the trash myself, right?

A vacuum that’s lost all its “suck-ocity” is not worth much. So I got the thing in a headlock to find the problem.

Hey, why are the contents of a vacuum cleaner always gray? It doesn’t matter what color your carpet is. Doesn’t matter what color dirt you’ve tracked in. The vacuum dirt is always gray. What is that?

Every once in a while I kind of wonder if I lost my mind, then vacuumed it up.

Amongst the disgusting gray matter, I found a problematic little lump of sock. Then there was that piece of string. While I call it a string, it was more like a length of yarn that could’ve been an entire sweater in another life.

I was also surprised to find what I thought was a loofa. But then I realized it was just a bunch of those little plastic fishing-line-like connectors that attach price tags to things. Who knew they could find each other inside the dark recesses of the vacuum and form their own little solar system? Weird.

At least it gave me a little reminder. When we let our minds suck up the wrong things, we can’t expect them to work the way they’re supposed to either.

We need to stay alert to emptying out the dirt clods and to filling our minds with thoughts that feed our spirits and grow our faith.

Negative, evil thoughts will find each other in the dark recesses of our minds.

And they multiply.

The next thing you know, you find yourself with a solar-system-sized problem in your thought life.

There’s so much garbage available to us. On the Internet, TV, movies, magazines—it’s accessible at every turn of the head. If we let our minds continually suck up trashy junk, we shouldn’t be surprised when we have difficulty walking out our faith-life well.

It’s not just a matter of emptying our minds. No one wants to stay empty-headed.

We don’t want our minds filled with mere fluff either.

It’s about filling our minds well. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 what we’re to feed on: 

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

There’s a lot less wrestling with our minds when we fill them with the right things.

Less wrestling, more peace. As a matter of fact, that passage doesn’t simply say we’ll experience great peace, it tells us that the God of peace Himself will be “with” us. Remembering His presence makes all the difference.

And as far as the vacuum is concerned, I think it’ll make a difference there if I clean the thing out a little more often. Pretty sure I found a gerbil. Even though we’ve never had one.

Ready to de-clog, getting rid of anything cluttering up your mind and stealing away your peace?

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist and the author of 10 nonfiction books, including Espresso Your Faith and Join the Insanity—Crazy-Fun Life in the Pastors’ Wives Club. She also coauthors fiction with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. Their first novel, Turtles in the Road, releases this fall with two more completed and coming soon. Rhonda speaks at conferences and events all over the country and she and her daughters host the TV show, That’s My Mom, for Christian Television Network’s KNLJ airing in mid-Missouri.

Article adapted from Espresso Your Faith: 30 Shots of God’s Word to Keep You Focused on Christ.