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Come, All Who Are Weary

Mental-Health
The month of May is such an important month. It is mental health awareness month which has led me to think about differing views/ways of addressing mental health in the church. It has also led me to reflect about my own mental health journey. I think some churches/people do a great job at making mental health and struggling part of the discussion, helping everyone know that they are not alone in struggling. Every single person has mental health, whether there is a diagnosable "mental illness" or not, and I believe that to some extent everyone struggles to cope with the pressures of life. Unfortunately, there are also churches/people who contribute to the stigma, shame, and isolation that can accompany mental illness or even struggling in general. Being open with struggle and open to hearin...
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Wrestling with Evil and Redemption

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Sometimes my hand with the pointing finger is stronger than my hand that holds a mirror. I extend grace and excuses to myself while my pointing finger pronounces judgement on others. How could they? Who would do that? What are they thinking ? As the Bible describes it, pointing to the speck in another's eyes while ignoring the plank in my own. (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42) Other days, the mirror reflects with too great a clarity my human state and yells loudly. How come you did that? What were you thinking? Why did you say that? And the accuser lying around my neck like a noose tightens and turns up the volume in my ear, calling me unflattering, unseemly names. (Revelation 12:10)  Where do I find the stable walkway across this swamp? Of accurately recognizing and naming the evil I see...
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Guilty

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Whenever the Lord raised up a judge...he was with the judge. The Spirit of the Lord came on them. — Judges 2:18 and 3:10 I was downtown St. Paul the other day and drove past the courthouse. Although it's been over a couple of decades since I was selected to sit on a jury for the murder trial of a sixteen-year-old, just driving by the place brought memories flooding back as if it were yesterday. I had been selected by the defense because I had a sixteen-year-old son at the time. It was one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. We handled the gun that was used in the shooting. We saw horrific pictures and videos of the victim sprawled out on the ground. Heard stories from both sides. It was nauseating. I felt torn in two. And I couldn't share anything with anyone. Yet, during the pr...
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An Easy Resurrection

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Part of my journey with community and how my inner spiritual walk participates in this season of Spring is to pay attention to both the Biblical feast of Passover and the Good Friday to Resurrection experience of Jesus, whose name literally means Salvation. This year Good Friday and the First night of Passover were on the same night. It was a full few days of spiritual practice, ritual, remembrance and community. The life force of our own stories entwined with God's story and glimpses of freedom and Salvation became tangible and marking moments for another year. So much of me was ready for the walk from slavery, the opening empty tomb and Jesus being the hero of faith, death defeated, slaves set free. It had been a long dark winter and this was the moment we had been waiting for, the savin...
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Woman, why are you weeping?

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Many of you are familiar with our guest writer, Hannah Fordice, if you've been reading us for the past year or two. She has had a difficult journey through grief and loss. Yet, this precious devotional is so full of hope.  The last time I went home was in early spring. It had become increasingly obvious that it wasn't feasible for us to keep the property any longer. After all, there was nothing on it anymore. My husband and I drove down the familiar dirt road in silence until we came to the mailbox I had passed a million times throughout my life. But that's where the familiarity ended. When we turned in the driveway, I was met with… nothing. That place where the log house my dad built stood nestled in pines like a postcard was now empty. It looked like a hockey player's mouth where th...
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Connection as Breath

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Loneliness is common in this high-tech day in age. We are more "connected" to our phones than we are to the people we see as we scroll. That does not mean that it should be accepted as normal or "just a part of life" that needs to be endured. We were made to be in relationship and community with each other, not isolated, left to deal with life's ups and downs alone. "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone… " (Genesis 2:18 NIV). Being in relationship is more than being in the same vicinity as others. It's about being able to be completely yourself; to show your wounds and vulnerabilities as well as your successes and strengths. To be fully loved and embraced for all of it. I've spent my fair share of time keeping everything to myself and thinking that I need to handle it...
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Unfamiliar

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I am dancing to a song I don't know. Is it in the key of C? I'm not sure. I don't recognize the tune. I don't know the song. I stumble along. Awkward. Disjointed. I have no idea what is coming next. Should I shuffle right, left, dip, jump, kick or twirl? I don't know. This is all new. I'm trying to figure it out. It is a new song. It is a hard song. Shouldn't I be catching onto the rhythm by now? Does anyone recognize that I don't know this song and am stumbling? Sometimes life finds us trying our best to dance to a song we don't know. And maybe don't want to. We'd rather be dancing to a different song. One we know. One we are familiar with. A happy song. But we don't always get to choose the song we dance to. Not in this life. A wayward child. Sick parent. Cheating spouse.....
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Inflection: Seeds that changed

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It's so good to smell Spring in the air even if you live in a place where you aren't necessarily seeing things popping up from the ground yet. I have been so struck by the change in energy all around, and even though it's still rather chilly here in Minnesota, there is a sense of things being new. The tell-tale signs of change are all around us and my thoughts have leaned towards those seeds that went into the ground all those months ago, from trees and plants. Check out this quote by Cynthia Occelli. "For a seed to achieve its greatest expression it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, And everything changes. For someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction." God tells us very early on in scripture that he planted seeds in ...
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Unlikely Friendship

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Friendship can be found in the most unlikely places, if you are willing to open your heart. — Unknown Lately, I have found myself flipping through catalogs filled with peonies. I know there is still snow on the ground, but a girl can dream, can't she? My friend Lynn and I have made our way out to Swenson Gardens in Cokato to walk through fields and fields of peonies. There is every variety, from simple single-petaled ones to big puffy ones that look like roses. And there is every hue, from pale yellow to peach, from bright red to a beautiful shade of burgundy. We each pick out our favorites, pay for them, and then make the trip back out in September to pick up our plants. This may sound odd to you, but the thing I love most about peonies is that if you plant a peony bush, ants will be sure...
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Beautifully Broken

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Do you ever feel like a child who needs to be told something many times before it becomes ingrained in your mind? I know I do. Lately, the image of the potter and the clay, from Jeremiah, has kept popping up in my life. First, in my devotional book, then in an online conference, and finally in another book that I am reading, It's Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst. I can hear/read something once, think, "Wow, that is a beautiful picture or lesson; I need to apply that to my life in this way or that way," but then I go on with my day and forget what I read that morning. Or sometimes, I completely breeze past what God is trying to tell me and totally miss the "wow" moment the first time around. But when the same image comes up at least three separate times, "Okay, God, y...
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Faith or Fear

Faith or Fear
Reading through the book of Numbers, there is a story that keeps playing in my mind reel. Moses and his scouting team. He sent twelve leaders from the Israelite community to check out the land the Lord had promised them and bring back a report. What kind of food grows there? What is the soil like? Who lives there? How many? What are the towns like?... Well, ten came back saying one thing... But two came back saying something entirely different. This is what the ten had to say: "We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are! The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there… Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that's what they thought, too!" But here is what Caleb and ...
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What Luck?

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Now that it's the month of March, that means that many of us will be celebrating St. Paddy's Day. The luck of the Irish and all that. So that got me thinking...  If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all. —Booker T. Jones When it comes to playing card games, I'm usually the one with the highest score. Which translates…last place. Some folks have all the luck when it comes to drawing the right card at the right time. Others of us don't. Is life just luck and happenchance? Or is there more to it than that? Some people fall into their careers naturally. Others of us flounder around and can't seem to find the right path. Does that have to do with luck or something else altogether? According to Serena Williams she believes it is all about hard work. Luck has...
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The Hard Stuff

The Hard Stuff
I love that all-powerful, all-knowing creator  God is also an intimate, patient, loving Father. That the One who spins a caterpillar to butterfly, knows my heart. And he cares. Just the other day he reminded me again. I was reading through the Bible by my fireplace when I hit a road bump. I said to God, "You know, this is why I don't like reading through the Old Testament. Some of this I just don't get. You're hard to understand. Like killing the first-born Egyptian sons. What is that?" Yeah I actually said that to God. I know. Seems a little nervy on reflection. But he didn't turn me into a pile of dust.  Awhile later I put my Bible aside and picked up one of my devotionals and turned to the page where my bookmark was. It was about how Moses re...
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The Yearning Heart

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I wonder, what comes to mind when you think of the word "yearning"? I'll be honest, it has me circling in my own bowels (maybe too much info although the language of scripture often speaks of bowels and yearning all as the same) with the deepening presence towards, and a longing and a thirst that's kind of uneasy, it's the feeling of want and desire. It is more tender than graceful than just a reaching or looking with intent, although we all know how that can unfold in real life; it's part of that beginning story in the Bible right!? Eve, life  in Hebrew, reaches from a position of, well, the only doubt question in the book, "Did God really say?" I mean, isn't this what happens in life ? We can confuse yearning for lust, and the longing becomes a straining reach, becaus...
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Love is... a Valentine for you

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This  is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him.  ― 1st John 4:9 To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us. ― Timothy J. Keller God  loved  the  world  so much that he gave his one and only s o n so  that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. ― John 3:16 To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly b...
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Frozen

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How cold is it? It's so cold... We don't clean the house — we defrost it! It's so cold... We wear layers of clothing so if we fall and can't get up, we can stay there until somebody finds us and rolls us home! Just a few days ago, we experienced blizzard conditions. A flurry of white. Now we are in a deep freeze. With below zero temperatures that drive you inside. But we Minnesotan's try to make the best of these cold temperatures. We like to experiment by blowing bubbles outdoors or throwing a cup of boiling water off our decks and watching them instantaneously freeze. If you haven't tried this, you must! It's super cool. We are hardy types. We build ice castles, make snow sculptures, throw a winter carnival, cross country ski, snowboard, skate, and even snowshoe. If you can't beat the we...
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She kept showing up: Hannah

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I was constantly challenged as a younger woman when it came to the concept of grace. I heard so many definitions and it never computed for me. I was your number one doer and giver and felt things very deeply (Two on the enneagram if you are into that sort of thing.) I saw the needs and met them, striving to experience the love of others and of God. Grace to me was this thing that was for everyone else and I wrestled inside whenever I heard the word or studied a scripture that highlighted the subject. This is where Hannah comes into the picture, an unlikely hero but a woman who exuded bravery, her name meaning Grace and her bravery being that she kept on showing up! We meet (Hannah) Grace in 1 Samuel 1, we hear a lot about what her life looks like, the rhythms that she kept with her family ...
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A Brave Heart: Hagar

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Can you imagine… the weight that comes from being named "Alien", walking through the streets, your body owned? The reality in your womb – your child, but belonging to another. Where did she come from, this stranger, before this was her story? What was the name her mother gave her the day she was born? (Perhaps it was Bravery.) Can you imagine… knowing it was nothing short of slavery, the reality that brought about this life inside you? To be cast out, ironically, for fulfilling your purpose? Then, to be alone in the wilderness at an unknown well, Beer-lahai-roi, and to be met there by the Divine, a presence you had never known. (But isn't this the place where God meets us all?) Can you imagine… the Divine granting you the privilege of giving it a name? "You are a God of seeing…" To be know...
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Rebekah

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I don't know about you sister, but I'm not a big fan of detours. Roads diverted. Plans foiled. Life interrupted. If I'm travelling to Iowa, I want to end up in Iowa. (You Iowa haters, hold your comments.)  No blown tires. No destination changes. I don't want phone calls blowing up my to-do list. Friends cancelling a night out. Last-minute project demands. A job in Minnesota when I want to live in Texas. I have my plans. You know? That's probably why when I was reading in Genesis and stumbled on Rebekah, I had to do a double take. Who just packs her bags and leaves her family and country with a stranger? In one day. And for the purpose of marrying a stranger? I mean seriously. Who does that? Abraham's servant was staying with Rebekah's family, having just met them the night before, whe...
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Finding Wholeness

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For the month of January we Heart Matters gals are going to be writing about brave women... women who had courage, women who faced into whatever life offered them. Women like you and me. Women from the Bible. We pray that their lives will be a blessing to you... She packed up her potential and all she had learned, grabbed a cute pair of shoes and headed out to change a few things — Leigh Stanley Have you ever been so desperate that you were willing to risk everything, even your reputation, to find healing for all your broken bits? To finally find the wholeness you've been longing for? Most of us are timid to share the truth about ourselves. Our secret struggles. The ugly stuff lurking just under the surface. I think that's why I love the story in Mark 5:24-34 so much. The character in...
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Who is the Salvation of the season?

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I attended a church that I don't usually go to this morning. It had a grand and yet approachable feel about it and its well executed form held my heart tenderly as indeed, I felt tender. There came a moment in the sermon presentation when the speaker turned to the advent candles on the stage and walked towards them with the candle snuffer (yes, that is the technical name and yes, it did make me smile as I googled to confirm I had the right name, snuffer). Slowly she extinguished each candle, one by one, slowly speaking of the advent season ending. The lights in the room all dimmed as well and in less than a couple of minutes the whole room was dark except for one candle, the Christ candle. It was powerful and a tangible picture of what this season might feel like. All the lights, glitterin...
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A Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to you all...

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We are praying that you, dear ones, will experience the very near presence of the Savior in all of your gatherings and celebrations. That you will know his peace despite your circumstances, his joy although you may feel despair and His deep, abiding love... for He loves you beyond words...for  that is why He came to earth... for the love of us. The Heart Matters gals, LuAnn, Sally, Nicole and Julie  
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Sacred

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Have you considered the word Sacred, How heavy we've made it, almost untouchable? We reserve it for things like Icarus wings, too hot to handle; not common enough to touch the ordinariness of a life. But then the snow starts to fall, and memories of a story flood in. An angel, a manger, a message... Simplicity itself. We remember how close the words "sacred" and "holy" live to one another. Easy neighbors, Whole. The snow starts to fall, and we remember what it is that the story is trying to teach us: The truth that Love conquers fear.
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Gifts: For Your Friends and Family

Gifts: For Your Friends and Family
Discovering God in the Ordinary: Four Women. Different Journeys. Same Pursuit. We often expect to feel God's presence in joyous mountaintop experiences or when walking through the darkest valley, but we mustn't forget that God can surely be found in the ordinary moments of our lives. In this devotional, we seek to inspire you to find God in your everyday life, whether it's dropping your kids off at school, waiting in the checkout line at your local grocery store, or meeting a friend over coffee. Because here's the truth: God wants to invade every part of our lives, but sometimes, it's just a matter of us opening our eyes to see his hand moving all around us. About our Authors : Heidi is a young wife and mom balancing two toddlers and an infant. Jo is busy balancing the many different roles...
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Beyond the Glitter

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​ When we create fantasy images in our heads, we slay the beauty in our lives. – Emily Ley, Grace Not Perfection It helps me to remember Martha this time of year. Had I lived nearby and in her time, we would have been pals. I'm sure of it. Instead, I view her from afar and learn from her story (Luke 10).  Martha was scurrying around, thinking she was doing all her guests a favor. "Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made."  And when she went to Jesus to complain about her sister Mary not helping, who instead  "sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said"  Jesus spoke truth to her. "Martha, Martha...you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be ta...
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We Heart Matters Publishing gals care about women. Their joys. Their struggles. Their everyday, ordinary lives. We write from those very same places hoping to uplift, challenge and encourage your soul and deepen your faith.

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The Heart Matters Gals

  • Julie

    Julie

    I’m turning 60 next month. I can hardly believe it myself. But, I’ve decided that I no longer want to live comfortably. I want to live with a spirit of adventure like I had in the past. To be unafraid of what’s new or different. I want to remain so open to the Spirit of the living God that his love compels me to go wherever he leads me.
  • LuAnn

    LuAnn

    I am passionate about people leaning into all that Jesus is. You. Me. Us. Journeying together with God. This is my greatest blessing. And now that my kiddos are out on their own, I’m learning to navigate my new normal. And I am finding there is life after little ones and teens after all!
  • Emilie

    Emilie

    I am currently a full-time nanny and will be returning to school in the fall of 2019 to finish mydegree in relational communications and graduate in the spring of 2020. I am using this break from school to grow, heal, appreciate a slower pace of living, and to invest more time into relationships with family, friends, and God. Through this process I am learning what I want to prioritize in my life and figuring out ways to make that happen. Most of all, I am figuring out that life is all about process, taking steps closer to where I want to be and celebrating the little victories but also accepting that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way.
  • Sally

    Sally

    Sally Cranham is a singer and writer from the UK. She uses biblical narrative and her own experience to write deeply into the heart of the human condition. She currently works as a volunteer for SourceMN as their Arts Outreach Coordinator and has lived as a Residential Volunteer at Source’s anti-trafficking transitional annex alongside women who have come out of the life of prostitution.
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