Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomband saw two angels in white,seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there,but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
God has not called me to be successful, He called me to be faithful.—Mother Teresa
If anybody understands, it would be Ruth. When her husband died, instead of returning home and starting again, she chose the harder path of traveling and taking care of her mother-in-law.
It was raining outside, the day I stared out the window of my mentor’s office, hoping our visit would help me determine my next steps. I had witnessed a horrible wrong, done not only to me, but to others like me. Many were suffering, and many more would suffer as news of this wrong spread. I wanted compassion. I wanted a shoulder to cry on. I wanted someone to listen and agree with my reasons for hurt, anger, and fear.
But I did not get my wish. Instead, I received a challenge to take that fear that kept me wrapped in a ball on her couch and toss it aside. “You have access,” she said. “You have a voice that others do not have,” she reasoned. “What if you are the one God has given this experience to so that you will stand up and speak? What if you’ve been placed in your position, in your situation, for such a time as this?”
I had heard those words before. “For such a time as this,” were words echoed to Queen Esther thousands of years ago when her uncle, Mordecai, let her in on a terrible secret—that all of the Jews of Susa were going to be rounded up and killed. That included her uncle, her friends from the village, and her—if anyone ever found out that she was not Persian, like she said she was, but was indeed a Jew.
I've invited my cousin's daughter, Amber Krueger, to once again grace our pages. Her thoughts are probably what all of us are thinking this winter...
Despite the forecast. Live like it is spring.—Lilly Pulitzer
Only God could say what this new spirit forming in you will be… accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose Wisely.—Karen Kaiser Clark
When the winds of change blow in it can be unsettling. Scary, even.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.—Matthew 6:33
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are beingtransformedinto his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.—2 Corinthians 3:18
We have this cute young lady who has been living with us for several months. My husband has dubbed her the Energizer Bunny. So it isn’t surprising that in her dialogues and answers she often uses an enthusiastic, snappy, staccato, “yep!”
It’s growing more and more popular with the new year to choose a singular word to set the course over the next 12 months vs. making resolutions.
I’ve done it myself—one year was “risk-taker”, another was “be”—and it’s a good, focused strategy that can really jumpstart people to become their better, created selves. Those years, I chose to bravely say yes to opportunities I may have otherwise passed up, and I was reminded to live in the moment instead of distracted by the buzz of my phone or the demands of tomorrow.
But last Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me a Giving Key necklace with the word “believe” stamped on the gold vintage key, and I haven’t picked a word since. It seems this simple accessory has pointed out more than once that it’s time to believe in God’s promises, actually live like His power and grace is real, and rest in His presence when circumstances and evil pull me away.
We're kicking off the New Year with our sweet friend, Hannah Sorvik Fordice, who has a blog of her own called Rubble and Rescue. If you've had a tough 2017, you too may be wondering how 2018 will unfold. Praying her words will minister to your soul...
Last New Years Eve, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table next to an unopened bottle of champagne I had planned to bring to a friend's house; in my hands was a pregnancy test with two pink lines in the viewing window.
At the time, my husband was in a work rotation that included night shifts, so even though it was 3pm he was sound asleep in our bedroom. I gently shook him awake (Im fairly sure my hands were shaking so hard, I probably only had to touch his arm for the effect), and said, "good morning hun, guess what?" and handed him the test.
Were you so engrossed in planning the "best" Christmas that you missed out on Christmas' best? Next year can be different. Author and mother Alexandra Kuykendall found herself burnt out from planning previous holidays, so she ushered in a new way of "doing" Christmas. Her experiment left her uttering words like hope, love, joy, and peace - keeping the focus on Christ and the reason for celebration.
Before you put away the decorations, listen in for some ideas that might have you singing a different tune next year.
Click hereto listen to Jo's conversation with Alexandra Kuykendall on her book, Loving my Actual Christmas: an Experiment in Relishing the Season.
As the days countdown to Christ's birth, we Heart Matters gals thought that the best gift we could give you is some time set apart with Jesus. This quiet time experience Julie Miller has written is really the gift that Ignatius of Loyola left for us as one of his many legacies. Ignatius loved God's Word and approached it uniquely. Rather than read the word to fill in blanks on a page, he stepped into it as if he were living the stories out.
So, in the words of Frederick Buechner...
A Christmas Quiet Time Devotional
Considering all the time we will be spending with friends and family during the holiday season,
we believe it would be beneficial to spend some quiet time with Jesus preparing our hearts for the holidays.
Amidst the twinkling lights, stocking stuffers, and your best-dressed outfits, it’s easy to forget why we actually celebrate Christmas. You get caught up in the giggle of your grandson, your stomach’s grumbling over that glazed ham, and it’s your responsibility to entertain the in-laws this year. The festivities are alive, and it’s no wonder the moments can all race together in one big blur!
Or you’re on the W-A-Y other end of the spectrum. You feel lost this season. That job you’ve been pining for? Given to someone else. That investment supposedly paving the way for an early retirement? Down the drain. Your boyfriend you envisioned your future with? No ring or explanation, gone. The minutes and traditions drag on, and nothing really seems worth celebrating this time around. But no matter how far we’ve wandered or how lost we may feel, no matter how perfectly our ribbons are curled or our bows are placed, there’s a hope, so boundless and crazy, offered to every one of us. And it’s found in the meaning of Christmas. Relevant to the hipsters, the nonconformists, and everyone in between, it’s a story that beckons with a plot that revives and replenishes. Jesus, the God of gushing love, came to this earth because we were wandering. We were lost. We were sinking in our defeat, error, and purposelessness. He saw our slumped shoulders and our worn out spirits. He heard our sighing and our groaning as we laid in our beds, the puddles of tears staining our pillows, waiting for some form of relief, some sort of hope, some sort of purpose. And He came.
Jesus was born into this world to start a new thing, to make a way for the wanderers, to bind up the brokenhearted, to set the captives free. Sequentially, Jesus’ birth isn’t just a religious holiday or a historical event that stood the test of time. But His birth turned our days of mourning into a lifetime and eternity of festive praise. And Christmas, Jesus’ date of birth, got the whole ball rolling. Pure and simple. That’s it. That’s all. That’s everything. This is why the wise men traveled on camel back and followed a star for miles and miles to see. This is the reason a Fisher Price manger scene can be revolutionary and hard selling. This is the glory of Linus reciting Luke 2 in the Charlie Brown Christmas. This Jesus and his uprising is the magic of Christmas, and it deserves to be shared, spread, cheered. So as you look around your dinner table today, take time to pause over the holly centerpiece and the clanging forks. Your aunt is feeling lonely without her spouse for the first time this year. Your mom is trying hard not to worry about the stack of bills hiding in the kitchen cabinets. And your daughter can’t get over the fact that she has one less present than her brother. As you pause, look each person in the eye. Remind them that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, angels or demons, fears for today or worries about tomorrow, the power in the sky above or in the earth below can keep us from experiencing God’s love around this table. And that’s the hype of Christmas. In all its splendor and majesty, in a few paragraph nutshell, God so loved us that He sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life. I’d say that’s something worth celebrating this Christmas, wouldn’t you?
When you grow up in the church, you know at a young age that you’re a child of God just as easily as you know your full name and can recite your home phone number. But it wasn’t until I started having kids and becoming a parent myself that the relationship between God the Father and me as His daughter took on technicolor meaning. And now, this correlation is all I see in my everyday, parenting moments.
For instance, no matter how long I’ve been potty-training my three-year-old, he still has accidents. And in those moments when I’m looking at his sorry face and rummaging through the drawers looking for clean underwear (again), I think of how God shows us the right way to live in His Word, but time and time again, we have accidents. And yet, every time, how patient He is with us.
Or when Oscar says thank you when I give him a snack, I light up, and as a mom trying to teach my kids to mind their p’s and q’s, I’m so proud when he says that on his own. Which leads me to wonder how much more does our Heavenly Father’s heart soar when we acknowledge the gifts He’s given us and actually take the time to thank Him.
“Life cannot be sustained without hope. That is what is so remarkable and intriguing about this tiny word.
It has a mysterious and generous quality. We know hope when we have it and feel miserable when we don’t.”
We were all in our twenties at one time. That place of struggling to find out who we are and where we fit in the world. McKayla has been a guest writer in the past and we love her honesty. I find that I always learn a thing or two from this spunky young woman. And I'm sure you will too!
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Our next contributor is a dear friend of Julie Miller's, Melody Martin. Mel has lived with cerebral palsy and all the struggles that a disability entails. She has endured the trauma of being hit and run over by a truck and has recently undergone two serious neck surgeries. It is through these times the Spirit has acted like an Energizer bunny and kept her going. She realizes it has been God, the Eternal Life force within her, that has gotten her through all the hard times.
We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
― William Shakespeare