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Trading Anger for Gentleness

Trading Anger For Gentleness   By Mary Zigan

“I’ll never forgive you!” my daughter yelled at me.

At the moment, I didn’t care. I was furious about her behavior, and to teach her a lesson, I let her know it by strapping her legs with her dad’s belt.

Though that was some 40 years ago, I can still feel the sting of regret when I think about my outburst. I was an angry woman back then, a rough and tumble hothead who had lost her way. I had been violated, a victim of abuse myself, and I was volatile. I didn’t trust anyone, and yet I wanted someone.

What I didn’t know at the time was that I was trying to find what I had lost, and I was looking for it in other people, in my work, and in excess food, but none of these could fill the emptiness.

Shortly after that incident with my daughter, I vividly remember sitting with a cup of coffee in the living room one morning, looking out the window and asking myself, “Is this all there is to life?” Then I cried out: “God, if you are real, come into my life and take up residence. I am a mess, and everyone and everything around me is a mess.”

The transformation didn’t happen overnight, but I have since learned that the opposite of anger is gentleness, which is the Fruit of the Spirit we are featuring in our blog this month. Gentleness means, in part: restrained behavior toward others. 

What a contrast! We can act in ways toward others that either help or hurt. And with our words and actions we can choose what influences will inform or misinform. Gentleness constrains and channels that power.

To be gentle is to recognize that God’s ways and thoughts are high above our own understanding (Isaiah 55:9). This change is not something we can make in our own power. It is the work of God in us. The gentleness of Jesus is bestowed on those who open their heart to Him. It’s a wondrous working of grace and transformation. And this gift is for all who will completely submit to God as Lord of their lives.

God’s gentleness places our willfulness under His guidance, and in its place, He gives us His help as a powerful tool in learning to love others. What a precious gift!

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing By Sharon Sheppard

A couple of years ago, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of my husband’s death, I invited my son and daughter and their families to my condo for an evening of tacos and reminiscences. I wanted our five grandsons to know the family stories—the fun and funny and serious—so they would never forget who their grandpa was and what he was like.

The grandsons joined in with their own stories about what they remembered and loved most about their grandfather, and at the end of the evening, I asked my son and daughter to tell their sons one thing they had learned from their dad that they wanted their children to know.

My husband was a can-do person, and our son said he learned so many varied skills from his dad because he instilled in him the idea that he could accomplish whatever he set his heart and mind on.

Our daughter said one of the most important things that has helped her in life and in managing her own business was her dad’s philosophy: Do the Right Thing: don’t cheat on your income taxes, don’t take unethical short-cuts. Be trustworthy.

During these past few months on the thewisejourney, we have been reflecting on the biblical Fruits of the Spirit (from Galatians 5:22-23). This month we are focusing on the trait of Faithfulness.

What comes to your mind when you hear the term Faithful?

An old and trusted employee? A favorite dog? A geyser in Yellowstone National Park?

Think of some of the characteristics you value in a close friend, a spouse, or an employee.

Probably words like loyalty, trustworthiness, and dependability come to mind. A faithful friend or family member is someone you can count to keep a confidence when you share personal concerns. Someone who will stand by you when things fall apart. Someone who always has your best interests at heart.

Certainly in a spouse we look for someone who takes wedding vows seriously, and who will be faithful “in sickness or in health, for better or worse. . .”

And ultimately, if we belong to God, we will take His Word seriously and try to apply it to our daily living.

As you think about how you might measure up in the area of faithfulness, how do you think your spouse, your boss, your kids, your friends, and God would rank you on this one?

What it pretty much boils down to is this: Do the Right Thing.

Peace vs. Pandemic

Peace vs. Pandemic By Mary Zigan

As I write this month’s blog post we are undergoing a pandemic with the coronavirus.  Fear is rampant, people are frantic, groceries are flying off the shelves, public places, are closing by the minute. We have had plans one day, and the next day they are gone, taken away from us.  Strangely, or not so strangely, this month we are looking at the character trait of peace, and we look to Jesus Christ, who is Perfect Peace. I recall today the promise in Isaiah as I remember memorizing this verse as a child from in my King James Bible:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is 

stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)

What does it mean to “have our minds stayed?” Webster defines it like a strong rope, a support to steady us, to keep up in the race, to fix or rest in reliance. We keep up in the race by remembering whose we are. Fear cannot overwhelm us when we are filling our minds with this truth, Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, our support to steady us. He can rest in this promise.

If you are not in the habit of lifting up your heart in prayer, I encourage you this month to begin the habit. We pray to demonstrate our faith in God, that He will do as He has promised in His Word and bless our lives abundantly more than we could ask or hope for (Ephesians 3:20). Prayer is our primary means of seeing God work in others’ lives. We have His promise that the fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much (James 5:16-18). Another good reminder if you happen to feel inadequate in prayer is, (Romans 8:26) which states; The Spirit helps us in our praying. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us.

May God glorify His name in your lives as you go on your way, may Peace go with you.

Mary Z.

JOY: My Word for the Year

JOY: My Word for the Year By Mary Zigan 

Like many of you who have adopted the “ONE WORD’ concept-choosing One Word you hold dear for a year, then seeing how that one word weaves itself into many circumstances of your life throughout the year–this is something I have personally practiced for several years. 

And since we at The Wise Journey have for the past months been featuring The Fruit of the Spirit: Attributes of God that we would like Him to develop more fully in our own lives, and since this month’s attribute is Joy, which is the one word I had chosen for the year, it seemed like a good time for me to reflect on Joy. 

The noun JOY is defined as gladness not based on circumstances. Joy comes from a deep conviction within us and is eternal. 

For the Scripture declares: “When the glory of the Lord rises upon us, our hearts are radiant and will throb and swell with joy.” How exciting it is to be a part of spreading joy all around us. I encourage you to read the 60th chapter of Isaiah. I also encourage you this month of March to feed on Scripture verses pertaining to joy or choose one or two of the following quotes I’ve included here to hold close to your heart. You will find yourself radiant with joy! 

  • Find a place inside where there is joy, and Joy will burn out the pain.
    -Joseph Campbell 
  •  Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. 
    -Mother Teresa
  • If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment. 
    -Carlos Santana 
  • Joy is the serious business of heaven.
    -C.S. Lewis
  • Find ecstasy in life: the mere sense of living is joy enough.
    -Emily Dickenson
  • To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide Joy with.
    -Mark Twain

Love is in the Air

Love Is in the Air . . . by Sharon Sheppard

If you were to Google Ideas for Celebrating Valentine’s Day, you’d get a long list of suggestions ranging from tacky to boring to erotic. All, of course, are geared for couples: 40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day / Romantic Ways to Propose to the Woman of Your Dreams / Creative Ways to Celebrate with Your Spouse on a Budget, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in marital romance. As a speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), my most frequently requested topics are “Is there romance after marriage?” or “How to fall in love with your husband all over again.” 

But since the specific Fruit of the Spirit we are emphasizing this month is LOVE, and the Bible commands us to “Love one another” (John 13:34), I’ve been thinking about people who may not feel particularly loved right now. While the media spew forth a barrage of products and entertainment options for romantic dates and gifts, many people who are not part of a couple feel their aloneness more acutely at this season of the year. 

People in nursing homes come to my mind. People who live alone. People who no longer have partners. I have a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law who each lost a spouse during the past year. And three women from my church lost their husbands between this past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know they are all hurting. I’m asking God to help me know how to comfort them.

Is there someone you know who might be feeling particularly lonely during this season when so much of the buzz is about lovers? Somebody who no longer feels special to anyone anymore?

How about surprising a lonely someone by dropping by a care center to deliver a chocolate heart and a hug? Or giving a co-worker some genuine encouragement.

Charlie Brown of comic strip fame says, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Be on the lookout for lonely hearts . . . 

I’ve Discovered The Secret to Happiness!

I’ve Discovered The Secret to Happiness!

By Sharon Sheppard

It’s found in I Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Okay, so it isn’t necessarily easy to be joyful 24/7.  But I find it does wonders for my morale when I choose joy instead of complaints.  

And pray continually?  I doubt that the Apostle Paul meant we should spend day and night on our knees. But it’s a comfort to know that God invites us to approach Him at any time, about any concern or any thoughts we want to share with Him. He won’t scold us for coming to Him too often. 

And, about giving thanks, we don’t have to wait until November 28 to do it. 

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!!!

Mary and Sharon

Meditations on Practicing Kindness

Meditations on Practicing Kindness ~ Mary Zigan

Kindness is caring for others, even when they may not care for you. 

The act of kindness is often its own reward.

Kindness is having the ability to speak with love, listen with patience and act with compassion.

Kindness can make a bad day good, and a good day better.

Kindness is a powerful reminder that behind all the negativity and malice, there lies goodness that has the power to change the world.

 Be kind to others. Your random act of kindness might become someone’s best lifetime memory.

 Sometimes, a single random act of kindness can become the spark that ignites a revolution.

 Kindness is never wasted. Kindness always makes a difference, blessing the one who receives it, and the giver.

Meditating on Goodness

Meditating on Goodness . . . God’s, and what He imparts to us

A Jewish prophet from several centuries ago was asked what God expects of us.

His response: “What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy 

and to walk humbly with your God.”    Micah 6:8

“Live in such a way that if people should see you, they could see God’s goodness in you.” (Anon.)

“Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible.”  Charles Dickens

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.” Anon.

We have no goodness of our own to impart, but the 23rd Psalm says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . .Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life . . .”

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  (Lam. 3:22-23)

For Goodness Sake! Whatever Does It Mean?

For Goodness Sake! Whatever Does It Mean?  By Sharon Sheppard

On Friday nights when my teenage son and daughter would walk out the door, I’d usually call out to them, “Have fun! Be good!” And often I would add the words, “Not necessarily in that order!”  (Meaning, of course, that if they had to choose between being good or having fun, I hoped and prayed they would opt for being good.)

Since goodness is listed in the Bible as one of the nine traits listed as a “Fruit of the Spirit,” that is, it is one of the traits the Holy Spirit plants in the hearts of those who belong to Him, how should that be lived out?

The immediate image of being a “Goody-Goody” comes to mind.  (Dictionary definition: “A smug or obtrusively virtuous person.”) Ugh. Quietly doing the right things? Yes. 

So is there something you could do today–maybe give a word of encouragement or a helping hand to someone who needs it? Ask God to help you become more aware of ways He may want to use you.

If I do enough “good” deeds, will I get to Heaven? 

No. None of us could ever be good enough to earn our way there.

Does goodness mean that a true Christian is perfect and never does anything wrong? (If that’s the case, I don’t think I have ever met a Christian in my life.)  Like it or not, we are all sinful people, and we all disappoint God.  

Fortunately, Jesus went to the cross on our behalf to work out a sacrificial arrangement with His Father.  Jesus would pay for our sins, and the Father would forgive us if we ask: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins . . .” 1 John 1:9

And one more thing: He wants to be our Savior, yes. But—and here’s the hard part—He also wants to be first in our life. Letting go and saying, “God, I give up. I want You to be the Lord of my life . . . “

Check it out and see what happens.

Who Is the “Goodest” Person You Know?

Who Is the “Goodest” Person You Know?  By Sharon Sheppard 

Would you like to be thought of as one of the “Good Guys?” Do you long to be known as a good person or parent or friend?”

Or to be really good at something?

What does it mean to be good?

Depends on whom you’re asking, I suppose.

When you think about people you know, who is the best (the “goodest”) person you’ve ever known? 

During the next few months, will be exploring that topic and other related questions.

Biblically, goodness is a quality identified as one of nine in a cluster called the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23. 
Stay tuned for next week’s discussion of What it means to be GOOD.