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Come Alive

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"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive" (Brené Brown). I love this. Brene Brown has been one of my favorite authors for a long time and her words continue to inspire and challenge me. What if we had a whole world full of people who felt alive and full of life? That would be a stark contrast to the stress and fatigue that is so often felt in the world today. How do we work toward a world that is alive? God created each of us as individuals. We each have a unique set of gifts, experiences, and interests. It is our privilege to be able to discover those gifts. To explore the heart that God gave us and how our experiences have played a role in shaping the personality that we were born with. It is t...
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Unfailing Love

Unfailing Love
Isn't that what each of us is ultimately seeking? To be loved unconditionally and unfailingly? Our heart's cry at gut-level? To have our inner heart's yearnings and dreams understood. To have our ugliness exposed and received in love's care, with no worries of being shunned or discarded. We have sought this love in other people. And it fell short. Well below the mark of what books and movies promulgated, the fabrications spun. I want to know this unfailing love that the prophets and kings so often regale in the Bible. God's unfailing love. Our Creator. Our Father. David especially grasps this (NLT): I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love , for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. Psalm 31:7 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for...
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You love me this way

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It felt important to pick up the dead butterfly. I was out on my regular walk and much of my time on the path I am listening to a podcast or audio book, on this day I was listening to Falling Upward, a book by Father Richard Rohr. The other part of its title and the heart of the subject is "A Spirituality for the two halves of Life". Those words, this book, has come at such the season. A release, stopping, review and turning. A real life example to the phrase I was privy to a number of years ago, "It's a wise person who knows what time it is". I guess that's why it felt important to pick up the dead butterfly. My experience has been this. Fashioned upon the path that we all walk are the environments, stories, communities and sometimes painfully metaphorical and physical pictures that ...
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Dear Jesus, Do Something

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​ " Dear Jesus, do something." ― Vladimir Nabokov One of my hubby's favorite movies is Bruce Almighty . Bruce is a down-on-his-luck TV reporter who complains to God that he is not doing his job correctly. But, then God offers him the chance to try being God himself for one week. His first response was to answer all the prayers of the people with a simple yes. However, he soon learned it was not that simple after all. He thought if he answered yes to everyone's prayers it would all go smoothly. But instead it made a huge mess of things…fast. Sometimes we believe God isn't doing his job correctly either. Especially when he doesn't answer our cries for help in the way that we think he should. Or when it drags on for weeks, months or even years. Have you ever felt as if your prayers were bounc...
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Tomorrow

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This blog was originally written on Sally's personal blog, Feathers and Whirlwinds which can be found on her website www.sallycranham.com. She wrote this blog as the end of Fall was upon us last year. Although the seasons are not the same the sentiment and message of the moment remains. The imagery, poem and call to personal creative action is still speaking to this moment and holds an aspect of the season of the soul that feels a little out of the ordinary. Here are the words she wrote back then, for now. ​ Tomorrow For a number of days I have been saying in my head, "tomorrow, tomorrow, I will write again tomorrow." There have been no "the sun will come out tomorrow" moments or even that great line from that fantastic movie Bugsy Malone "Come back tomorrow" moments. It's just b...
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Two Four-Letter Words

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​ Don't give up before the miracle happens.  ― Fannie Flagg There are two four-letter words that tripped up folks in Jesus' day and they continue to trip up a good many of us today. Oh, I'm not talking about swear words, I'm talking about two little words that can literally change the course of one's life . The first word is can't and just saying this word suggests to us limitations, defeat and resignation. The second word is ​ won't ​ , and it can render us unapproachable and unbendable. When Jesus stepped into the lame man's world, he found not only a broken body lying there by the pool, he found a broken soul. Although the man lies by that pool in Bethesda looking for a miracle, he believed in his heart that it would never happen to him.Because he felt that no one cared about him, ...
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Balance

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Today when the sky stopped its flow of tears, several people in a white boat decided to take advantage of the lake's unexpected quiet demeanor. The water was smooth as bamboo linen and most people, like me, were still huddled behind their walls. I was drawn to look out my windows and then walk out onto my deck by sounds of cheers and clapping. I watched as the lean white boat carved gently to just the right distance away as the man in the water adjusted his rope, body and board. I quickly realized it was a newbie trying to figure out the whole wakeboard thing. At first he broke at the waist, leaning his torso too far forward, and the boat pulled him right up and over; head first into the water he plunged. Then again. And again. The people in the boat would cheer as the boat pulled him...
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Wonder Woman?

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We all have a Wonder Woman inside us. — Diane Von Furstenburg I used to be a Wonder Woman. I used to juggle leadership roles, writing, working, being a mom and wife well. Somewhere along the way, I seemed to have lost her. And I've been struggling to find her ever since. I don't know if it's hitting the 60's that's doing it. Or if it's the medication I'm on. But I can hardly juggle a single ball well. I know women who have gone back to school at my age. Maybe I just need to stimulate my mind a bit more. I know that winter has a chilling effect on me. I kind of do what the bears do… hibernate. Now that it is spring perhaps, I can find that rhythm again. I've come to the prayer cabin to rediscover that person that's down deep inside of me. A time to be alone with God and hear his heart for m...
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A Most Courageous Prayer

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It was a simple but maybe the most courageous prayer and it went something like this, "Yes". Quite frankly it's all I had left in me. After a week of doubting all the things and wrestling with God over the directions my heart was being pulled, I had to believe that a miraculous moment was close, because things felt impossible. I knew that deep in my belly God was leading me to a moment in time that went beyond my own pain, emotions and plans. I knew that somehow there would be an answer and it would come soon. I was faced with a decision to make and was wrestling with moving States or going back to the UK after spending a year and a half in Minnesota working for a non-profit. The winter had been long but it offered me this experience of solitude, stopping and healing, a hidden gift to the ...
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Come, All Who Are Weary

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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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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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