A silence fell over the group that went on…and on…and on. So, I started to talk. I chatted on like a radio.

Carole Mayhall

 

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I’ve been reading through the book of Job from the Bible this summer. It really is a painful little book. It’s painful, not only because of the horrific catastrophes that happen to Job. That is excruciating enough to imagine. But, to have to listen in as his closest friends carelessly prattle on and on as Job suffers…well, that just breaks my heart.

Poor Job even tried to stop his friends after their droning deluge of words and pleaded with them, “You think you are wise. But, my spirit is broken. If only you would listen carefully to my words and let this be the way you comfort me.” (12:1-2, 16:2-3, 17:1 and 21:1-2) Unfortunately, the droning continued. His friends just didn’t get it. 

Some folks never do.

Proverbs 18:2 tells us that a fool “only wants to tell others what they think.” 

That’s precisely what Job’s friends intended to do. In response to his pleas, they said things like, “I cannot keep from speaking.” Or “Listen to what I have to say.”

The minute I meet some people, I know how the conversation is going to go. No matter how hard I try with some, a whirlpool sucks us in and we swim in never-ending circles…”

Carole Mayhall 

Job’s friends desperately needed a class in Listening 101.

When we listen, really listen, we pay thoughtful attention to our friend, we hear what is being said and unsaid, in order to fully understand what’s on their hearts.

But, listening is hard work. Especially when our friend grows quiet. Some of us are uncomfortable, nervous even, with silence. We feel the need to fill the air with words.  

I love the quote by one of the Desert Fathers, Arsenius, who said, “I have often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent.”

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Give light and people will find the way.

—Ella Baker

 

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The sunroom in the condo where we’ve stayed in Big Sky, Montana the last couple of years overlooks a small lake hedged in by the small ski village. The village sits at the base of Lone Peak. And the view at sunrise is breathtaking.

 

But, the view at day’s end is equally spectacular. As the sun slowly slips out of sight, the lights of the village begin to flicker on, polka-dotting the mountains darkening silhouette with a warm glow. Dusk paints the sky in broad strokes of watercolor pinks, purples and oranges.

 

It’s a scene I rarely miss. I tuck myself into a comfy chair and breathe in the beauty of God’s unfolding majesty.

 

As nightfall descends, and with it the waning hours, one-by-one the lights of the village go out.

 

Save one.

 

A solitary light shines out against the deepening darkness from Lone Peaks starry summit.

 

From my bed, I can look out the window and gaze up at that light. It is strangely soothing to me. Like the words that Galadriel spoke to Frodo in the book, The Lord of Rings. “And for you, Frodo Baggins, I give you the light of Eärendil our most beloved star. May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out.”

 

The light atop Lone Peak is a light in dark places when all other lights go out.

 

As my thoughts begin to tumble one-upon-another in my head, I quietly slip out of bed and back into the cozy chair that I love, and give freedom to my thoughts.

 

I scribble down the first three words that spring to mind as I gaze up at Lone Peak: Protection. Direction. Comfort.

 

I stand to look out the window and scan the horizon from east to west. It may seem crazy, but, the mountains seem to all but disappear in the blackest darkness.

 

Protection.

 

I imagine a light brightly shining from the tallest peak in the region would surely be a blessed gift of protection, especially for pilots. Think of the tragedies that would occur if the light atop Lone Peak went out. Like the light on top of transmission towers and skyscrapers, the light atop Lone Peak warns pilots of impending danger and thereby safeguards against loss of life and cargo.

 

When I ponder further, an old saying whispers to my heart, “I’ll leave the light on for you.”

 

What do you think of when you hear that statement? (Besides Motel 6.) Close your eyes and think about it for a moment. When someone leaves the light on for you, what do you expect to find when you arrive?

 

We happened to arrive quite late to a friend’s house last spring, but, they didn’t just leave the light on for us, they waited up to welcome us. When someone leaves the light on for you, you expect at the very least a safe place to lay your head.

 

I pray that the light I bear will also be a beacon of protection, a safe place for people in this ever-darkening world.

 

You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all.

Matthew 5:14-16

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Tagged in: Be a light

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_0503.JPGWe Heart Matters gals are really excited to share our latest devotional with you! So, please mark your calendars! We'd love to see you!! 

 

 

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It is possible for our students to stay a Christian in college today? As parents, we can help them develop a game plan to avoid the spiritual pitfalls and stand firm amidst opposition. 

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with author and radio host David Wheaton about how we can prepare our students to continue their strong faith and convictions during college and beyond. 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with David Wheaton. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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As I breathe in the last few weeks of summer, I am reminded of one truth a wise mom shared with me when I was struggling with a couple of toddlers. “The days are long," she said, “but the years go fast.” At the end of each summer, I feel the truth of this statement weighing down on me. The years have gone fast, and they show no signs of slowing.

 

I cannot help but begin counting down the summers I have with my eldest child.

Just three.

I’m forced to recognize the numbers of summers I will still be in my forties.

Only one. (Yikes!)

I’m reminded of the summers I will still have with both of my parents still living. 

Hopefully many.

 

I am a summer girl. I love the sunshine, the green grass, the lake, and lazy afternoons. I love sitting on the dock with my feet in the water. I love popsicles, watermelon, and corn on the cob. I love watching baseball outside and feeling the sand in my hair after a day at the beach. I love golf and waterskiing and watching the sail boat races from our back deck. I love time with friends and staying up late.

 

But when August hits, I feel the relaxing tide begin to turn. I start thinking about preparing for classes, my kids start practicing for fall sports and start panicking because they haven’t yet made it through their summer reading list. The sun sets a little sooner and the weather feels a bit cooler. I stop watering my hanging baskets, and I start thinking about shopping for school.

 

 

My son saw the Sunday circular out on the table with the pictures of brightly-colored school supplies and his mood shifted. He grabbed the paper, crumpled it up, and threw it into the trash can with a vengeance. “Summer is NOT OVER,” he shouted.  You know what? He was right.

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What does it really mean to not be anxious about anything? Philippians 4 claims victory over our circumstances, but sometimes true peace is still difficult to find. 

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with professor and author Dr. Heather Holleman on how she struggles with anxiety, but finds peace in knowing that Jesus is not only with her, but protecting her heart from being riddled with fear.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Heather Holleman. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

 

 

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Ever feel like throwing in the towel on this season of life? Though we may be tempted, we don’t have to quit. God will give us the strength to finish strong in every area of our lives. 

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with author and speaker Nicki Koziarz  of Proverbs 31 Ministries on how to reach out for Godly wisdom, counsel and direction, especially as seasons are changing in our lives.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Nicki Koziarz. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

 Our fourth guest is a writer of poetry. Her name is Denise Smith Collier and her beautiful words can be found on her Facebook page, Heart of Worship. May these words from both of her poems bless and encourage you today...

 

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Love Letter from Jesus

 

My beautiful bride,
I long so for you,
With sharing our love,
Communion of two.

Days feel like thousands,
Not having you close,
Thoughts that consume,
My heart yearning most.

Your scent like a rose,
A smell like no other,
That reaches to Me,
Excitement uncovers.

Soon I will come,
My arms to then hold,
And take you with Me,
The place we'll call home.

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Tagged in: You are loved

 

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Great leaders encourage, inspire, and challenge us, but those leadership skills must be developed. Do you have what it takes to be a great leader?

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Dr. Hans Finzel about the key success factors of influence, and the positive traits that all of us should master in oder to lead well. 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Dr. Hans Finzel. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

It's our third week and we are really excited to share another lovely lady's blog with you. Her name is Heidi Zwart. She has a wonderful blog about health and wholeness that you will be so encouraged by. Follow her at www.heidizwart.com.

We pray that these words that Heidi wrote will resonate with you today as you move toward a healthier life, day by day.

 

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Have you ever blamed yourself for not eating well, exercising consistently, or having a body you just can’t seem to love? Me too. And, there’s a reason we share this struggle.
Getting healthy is hard. 
But it’s not because we lack willpower or haven’t found the right diet plan. It’s not because we haven’t mastered good habits or broken bad ones. The truth is, we were born into this fight. Our struggle began long before we were born...  
Our story started with Earth’s first inhabitants, Adam & Eve, a beautiful garden, a serpent, and a piece of fruit. One small not-so-great decision has impacted everything since. Everything.
Including our health.
Even if you’ve never been a regular church-goer, you’re probably familiar with the story that unfolded in the Garden of Eden. Whether or not you believe the Genesis account to be an accurate reflection of history, I encourage you to lean in and give this story a chance. Keep the door open to the possibility that this story matters.
More importantly, consider that this story just may hold the key to healing not only your health but your life.
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On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Brian Barcelona, founder of The Jesus Club. He tells us how God is working to bring about a revival in our nation’s schools and shares how we can be a part of it.

Brian Barcelona answered the call to start ‘Jesus Clubs’ in public schools to help high school students find and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. He shares examples of how students' lives have been changed as a result of hearing the gospel message for the first time.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Brian Barcelona. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900 / 90.7 FM. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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 This week we Heart Matters gals are highlighting Amber Krueger's beautiful blog. She uses her gifts of creativity and artistry to bless and encourage others to do the same.

 

Check out her blog: https://byambershands.com/. It's a wonderful collection of yummy recipes, creative crafts and ideas to inspire you to tap into your own God-given gifts and abilities.

 

 

 

The last few days have been incredibly difficult ones for me.

 

On days like today, when my heart is heavily burdened, when my thoughts are clouded and my spirit is grieved, I find myself drawn to performing simple tasks with my hands.

 

Today I turned off the television, turned away from social media, did my best to shut out all the distractions and baked bread.

 

 

 

There is something about the process of baking bread– the taking of simple ingredients like flour, water, and yeast; the working of dough in one’s hands and making something wonderful out of it– that helps to order one’s thoughts and soothe a troubled soul.

 

 

Our lives require more silence than we’re typically given. When I was younger I avoided silence at all costs. Now I find myself seeking out the few moments I can get.

 

The resting of the dough reminds me to take time for silence, for reflection, for prayer.

 

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Even when we are going through difficult life circumstances, we can still experience happiness. Author and Bible teacher Lisa Harper reminds us that happiness doesn't depend on life's circumstances, but is more dependent on the posture of our heart towards God. 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Lisa Harper. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900 / 90.7 FM. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

 

During the month of July, we gals at Heart Matters want to lift the voices of other women who write beautiful blogs.

I'm delighted to re-post a beautifully written blog by Hannah Sorvik Fordice.

 

“I don’t know who I am! I’m like cat here, a couple of no-name slobs. We belong to nobody and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.”
— Breakfast at Tiffany's
 
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"Did you hear a cat too? Or am I crazy?"

 

My husband and I paused on the sidewalk, our dog Valkyrie, anxiously pulling us backwards toward the river. There in the middle of the sidewalk behind us was the tiniest orange kitten mewing forlornly. My hubby crouched down and low-and-behold that wee kitty ran right up to him and started purring. 

 

The little dude was probably only 5 weeks old and covered in dirt. We waited for awhile to make sure that momma cat wasn't hiding in the bushes or out on a quick hunt but no one ever showed. So we took a few steps forward and our new furry friend followed right on our heels. We casually walked home, with neighbors gaping at that strange couple walking their giant German Shepherd and small orange kitten. You know, totally normal. 

 

When we got home we washed the kitten off in the sink, wrapped him in a towel, and gave him some cat food, which he consumed so fast that I had to wonder when his last meal was. My hubby held him, all bundled up, and stroked his ears and he purred his way right into the type of sleep one only experiences when completely safe. 

 

I can't help but think that me and that kitten have a lot in common. I may not be feline, covered in hair, or orange (except that one time I used tanning lotion wrong), but I am in so many ways seeking safety, sustenance, love and ultimately a forever Home (capital "H"). 

 

If there is one thing that I have learned over the last five months it is that none of us are invincible and none of us get to escape from this life unscathed by suffering. The more loss I experience the more my size in relation to the world seems to shrink. I have gone from the belief that I am a lion, king of the jungle, to the belief that I am a kitten, vulnerable and lost.

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When the hope of heaven fills your thoughts, the Light of My Presence envelops you. Though heaven is future, it is also present tense. As you walk in the Light with Me, you have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven.

 Sarah Young

 

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The fact that I’m a novice paddle boarder was made very evident the other day.

 

The sun was finally out, the lake wasn’t busy yet, and I didn’t have anywhere to be. So I enthusiastically ran to the boathouse and grabbed my white and aqua paddleboard. It was a recent purchase, and I had only been out a couple of times.

 

I made my way out onto our dock with the paddle in one hand and the board precariously under my arm, the nose occasionally shifting forward and hitting the steel deck sending out a resounding “boom,” (so much for trying to be a discreet rookie). I carefully lowered the board into shallow waters and made sure to follow my instructor’s directions of starting out on my knees for two minutes until I got my sea legs.

 

We had bought a tippy paddleboard as they go faster and my daughter and I like speed. The water was a little rougher than the other times, but I adjusted pretty quickly. Soon I was sailing along enjoying the sunshine, yelling out to nearby fishermen if I paddled over a school of fish to let them know the hot spots they were missing. I happily watched the ducks and the loons keeping me company. I admired the variety of houses and trees along the shores.

 

Yes, I was paddling right along, happy as a puppy with a ball, with the sunshine burning down on me.

 

At some point, the fact that it was really windy hit me. I decided it would be wise to turn around as I had already gone a good distance.

 

That’s when I started to realize I might be in trouble. Turning the paddleboard around, which I had found incredibly easy before, was not working. At all. Anything I tried. Eventually I was able to maneuver back around by making a very large circle with just minor adjustments.

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Do you struggle sharing your faith with others? What if it were more about having a conversation and asking questions than memorizing a script.  Author and Missions Director Holly Melton, of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), reminds us that it's important to God for help, and trust that the Holy Spirit will equip us with the words to say. 

 

Click here for a link to the podcast of Jo Bender's show. Or, catch Jo live every Friday afternoon for Connecting Faith at 12 noon on AM 900 / 90.7 FM on Faith Radio Network/KTIS. For more podcasts of Connecting Faith, Live the Promise with Susie Larson, Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and more, go to myfaithradio.com

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, it is hello, goodbye…until we meet again.

—Jimi Hendrix

 

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One of the advantages of advancing years are all the memories that are stowed away in the heart. Like treasures that have been carefully tucked away up in the attic, we brush the cobwebs aside, lift the trunk lid and memories come spilling out.

We recently returned from a trip out East. Since many of my favorite memories from childhood have their roots firmly planted in my hometown in Pennsylvania, the few days we spent there were a pure gift.

Staying with my uncle and aunt, I dragged them down to the banks of the Allegheny River where my grandparents had lived. Past the home where my little family had lived. Up to Jakes Rocks to hike. Downtown to eat Greek at The Plaza. And we even made a pitstop at Bon Ton to stock up on Pittsburgh Steeler gear.

Each memory tied to my past. Yet, they were brand new memories-in-the-making, as well.

As we pulled away to head back home, tears streamed down my cheeks. Standing in their driveways, my uncle, aunt and their neighbour, who just happens to be my second mom, Mary Blick, whom I had just spent a lovely morning with, waved goodbye… I was undone.

Soon after, it was time to say goodbye to our son in Cleveland. Wasn’t it only moments early that we had hugged hello?

We made a stop to see friends in Michigan. There were warm embraces with every family member upon arrival. Our time together—a blessing—as if no time had passed between visits. Then before we knew it, we were hugging once again. Goodbye.

Hello, goodbye.

Isn’t that life in a nutshell? A series of hello’s and goodbyes?

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Are you a good listener? This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talked about communication with relationship experts Mark and Susan Merrill. According to their research, one of the top mistakes that husbands and wives make is that they don’t always listen well to each other. This often leads to communication barriers and hurt feelings. 

 

You can listen to the podcast of Jo's show by clicking here, or catch Jo live every Friday at 12:00 p.m. CST on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM 

 

 

 

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:35

 

Kids can be mean.

 

I brought my toddler to his first arts-and-crafts camp of his entire lifetime, and everyone was pumped. It was just for an hour at a local park down our road, but still. I packed up baby too, and on the drive over, we were giggling over the idea of using scissors and the odds of handling a glue stick. What if we used popsicle sticks? Oh wait, can you imagine PAINT?! It was magical.

 

We pulled in, walked through the threshold of a newly-renovated cabin, and found a spot among the other toddlers and preschoolers chomping at the bit to throw glitter around like confetti. The director coughs, directing our attention her way, saying, “Welcome! Let’s get started with a game outside. Everyone grab hands with each other, and we’ll walk out in a chain.”

 

Cue the heartbreak.

 

Oscar, giddy and excited to run around in the open forest outside, runs to the first kid he sees, but instead of an equally welcoming reception from this child, the delinquent had the nerve to pull her hand away, hiding it behind her back so she didn’t have to hold his hand. What was her problem?

 

Oscar was somehow unphased. I guess he has a sister, so he knows girls can be girls. So he moves on, looks to his left, sees a boy his height, and runs over, bending over to try to grab his hand, and I see quickly we’ve got another hoodlum on our hands. This boy retreats and grabs the hand of someone else, shooting Oscar a death glare. What’s the deal, kid?

 

Oscar? Again, unphased. He must intrinsically believe the saying “third time’s the charm,” because he raced to what appeared to be a sweet girl at the end of the line. Sheep in wolf’s clothing is what I say. She puckers out her lip, and hides her hand under her armpit. Give me a BREAK, child.

 

I’m stressed at this point. Palms a little bit sweaty. I mean, how dare these kids. Oscar is the sweetest, funnest, coolest kid on the block. Every single one of them would be lucky to be his friend. Also, re: Who are their mothers, what kinds of things are they teaching them, and where are they anyways?

 

As I’m scanning the room for a face that looks remotely nice, Oscar must have decided it wasn’t worth wasting another second looking for a hand to hold, because I then saw him sprint past the curtains, run into the open space of the field, and while waiting for the other kids to catch him, he threw his head back and giggled. So happy to be there, just so joyful, and ready to play the game.

 

Although the rest of the hour raced by fantastically with no other altercations, I came home a little hung up by that slight exchange in the cabin. Not in an over-reacting kind of way, but more of a realization that this was just a taste of what he (and I) are sure to experience in the years ahead.

 

Kids can be mean. They won’t all want to be his friend. And as much as I wish it weren’t true, not everyone will offer a hand to Oscar even when he’s looking and asking for it. And no matter how often I chaperone field trips, volunteer in the classrooms, or invite his friends over to our house, I most certainly won’t always be there watching, cheering him on, rebuffing a hard situation, exchanging a smile over the heads of other kids, and reassuring him that they’re not worth it anyways. He will be alone in that sometimes. And that really makes me sad.

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Sometimes the trials of life steal our energy to the point of total exhaustion. But in the midst of carrying heavy burdens, we can still cling to the promises of God.

This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talked about pain and suffering with authors Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton, who each suffer with chronic pain and disease. Their shared experience with pain also has a shared hope in the goodness of God. 

You can listen to the podcast of Jo's show by clicking here,or catch Jo live every Friday at Noon on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM 

Today Jo is interviewing Hans Finzel about the Top Ten Ways to be a Great Leader. Listen in at 12 Noon CST.

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