Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Living Life with Less Regret

Dear Friends,

Several weeks ago I was praying, as I often do, early in the morning. I walked over to open the blinds and saw someone walking their dog. Because we have a corner lot, I often catch people letting their dog potty in my yard without cleaning up their dog’s deposit. If there’s one thing that annoys me more than slow drivers in the fast lane, it’s land mines in my yard. So I watched and waited.

That’s when I heard God say, “Look away.”

It was all I could do to look away. But, then I realized, what was I going to do if they didn’t cleanup said biscuits? Chase them down? No, I would seethe, complain, and harbor animosity toward them for 20 minutes. If I looked away, I wouldn’t know if they cleaned up after Fido or not, so how could I be upset? 

“Look away” gave me peace and helped me to love my neighbor.

I didn’t just look away from the doody incident. For weeks, I kept hearing “Look away.” When my husband was doing something I normally would correct him about (something colossal like using the wrong dish towel), rather than belittle and disrespect him I heard, “Look away.”

“Look away” helped me nag Chris one less time about something that didn’t really matter in the big scheme of things.

When I thought I overheard someone saying something derogatory about how one of my kids played in basketball, I heard, “Look away” again. I would never confront them, but I would harbor anger and hatred toward them (even though I would smile and make pleasantries to their face). When I heard, “Look away,” I became calm enough to pray and decided maybe I hadn’t even heard them correctly.

“Look away” helped me give someone the benefit of the doubt.

When my kids were driving across the state and I wanted to check my stalker app every five minutes to make sure they were okay, God reminded me again to look away.

“Look away” helped me enjoy the people in front of me that day, instead of being consumed by fear over something I couldn’t control anyway.  

How do I know God told me to look away? After all, looking away isn’t rocket science. It isn’t a deep theological truth unearthed by hours of Bible reading and meditation. Morgan Freeman in a white suit did not show up in my office and tell me to look away.

I know God told (and keeps telling me) to look away because in doing so my almost daily prayers to love my neighbor, experience more peace, and become a nicer wife are being answered. I know God whispered those words into my little Asian head because it has stuck, allowed me to do life differently, and is helping me live with less regret.

How do we hear God?

By praying continually, then listening carefully for His merciful whisper in the mundane but meaningful moments of our day.   

In Him,

Laura Sandretti


Laura Sandretti is an active speaker and blogger. She is currently pursuing her master's degree in Theological Studies at Trinity International University. Laura and her husband, Chris, have three teenagers, and live in Sussex, Wis. Visit her blog at www.laurasandretti.com/blogger

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Forever Grateful

Dear Friends,

Our preschool granddaughter reaches for my hand anytime we walk. Recently as we walked together, she heard the rumbling of a train nearby and, reaching up for me, said, “Nana, I ‘fraid”  (afraid). I immediately picked her up and gave her a hug. She knows I’m there for her. She knows I will rescue her. 

We are God’s kids. He wants us to know that He is there for us. Sure, walking with God does have its payoffs. I have a happy marriage and three terrific sons who are smart, capable, and contributing citizens. I have amazing friendships, and I get to work doing what I love. I’m blessed to travel to many exciting places and meet some interesting, inspiring people. I have a safe home and enjoy the hope of heaven. But these aren’t the reasons I believe in Jesus. 

When I was in college, I discovered a thing called Christian music. I was introduced to an artist named Evie, who sang a song titled “If Heaven Was Never Promised to Me.” The song caused me to ask, “Why do I believe in Jesus?” Sure, I have the amazing gift of heaven, but what has God done already here on earth?

Although everyone would answer this question differently, here’s what some of the earlier entries on my list look like: 
  • God heard my cry for help when my abusive father was out of control. 
  • God walked me out of chaos through the wisdom of a godly mentor. 
  • God challenged me to rethink how to have a love relationship. 
  • God sent food when Bill and I were struggling, poor students. 
  • God gave me a bicycle to ride when my car died.
  • God gave Bill and I hope in the face of death, disease, and disappointments. 
  • God gave me wisdom when I was perplexed in my parenting. 
  • God gave me love when I was angry or frustrated in my marriage. 
  • God has always been with me to process my emotions so Bill is spared the drama! 
  • God sent me Bill, an amazing partner in life and love. 
I fell in love with my husband when he explained the meaning of a simple phrase on the front of his leather Bible—“That they may know You.” This phrase comes from John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” 

Eternal life means knowing God now, not waiting until heaven. To know Christ is to know the one called “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). It is to know the God who said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). It is to know the God who promised, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb, 13:5, NASB). When I look back, I see how God has been with me, with us, and I am grateful. 

And daily, my Grateful to God list continues. Begin your own list of why you are grateful to Jesus. You may consider writing a line of thanks each day on your calendar, or keep a running list on your refrigerator, or drop your thanks on slips of paper into a jar to reminisce over on Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Eve, or on your birthday. Take some time alone and with your spouse, family, or close friends to review and thank God for all He has done to create a portrait of love, grace, and provision in your life. 

Blessings,

Pam Farrel


Pam Farrel is an international speaker, relationship specialists and best- selling author of over 45 books including her newest books: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience. Pam and her husband, Bill, are Co-Directors of Love-Wise.  Follow them on Twitter (@pamfarrel)  and  Bill and Pam Farrel on Facebook.  

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Happy Dependent


Dear Friends,

“I just want to be happy.”

“You deserve to be happy.”

We have become happy-dependent. We rationalize what we’re doing and what our lives should or shouldn’t be based on a happiness-quotient, which is based on what? Mainly, our feelings and preferences. It’s as if we think the world will be a wonderful place for everyone if we can just be happy.

We can’t all simultaneously be happy, nor can any individual be happy all the time—through every mess of life. We live in a culture that wants to give trophies and accolades to every child who puts on a team t-shirt just to avoid any discouragement for anyone. We post on social media and declare, “What a great life you lead!” But life is difficult. And we can’t be happy about it all the time. By placing “happy” as our right and goal, we misconstrue reality. We miss out on the tools we need to live an intentional, purpose-filled life. We set aside the discipline, pruning, and trust that comes from focusing on God’s purpose more than our own comfort. We might appease ourselves and others temporarily, but we end up doing more damage to ourselves and others in the long run. What we expect or demand in our “now” robs us of the fullness of someday. Happy gets in the way of joy and contentment. Pride gets in the way of faith and trust.

We can be happy-dependent. It’s our choice. Even if we declare we want more meaning and purpose in our lives, our daily choices and attitudes might reveal we are more happy-dependent than we plan to be. We tell people we love we just want them to be happy, but doesn’t that desire for them have limits? Would we truly be content and supportive if they were genuinely happy while doing hurtful, destructive things to themselves and others?

Happy is often defined by our own parameters of happiness. There will always be issues with striving for happiness. We are all too different, and each of us changes over time. That’s why there’s no reliability in happiness. We can’t depend on happiness, so happy-dependence is a worthless pursuit.

Contentment is a worthy pursuit. Joy is a worthy pursuit. Peace, faith, and humility are worthy pursuits. Any attribute of God is a worthy pursuit, but most of all, pursuing God Himself is worthwhile. Pursuing Him provides us with purpose. 

What does God want for you? Your pursuit of that truth and your response to it will not be easy but it will give you purpose. That you can depend on.

Blessings,

Susan Lawrence


Susan Lawrence is a writer and speaker who blogs daily at PurePurpose.org. You can also connect with Pure Purpose on Facebook.