With Friends Like That...

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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

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.

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I'll Leave the Light on for You

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Give light and people will find the way.

—Ella Baker

The sun room 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.  

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Lake Country Booksellers - Book signing

Lake Country Booksellers - Book signing

We 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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Quick… Pass the Popsicles

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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.

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A Love Letter from Jesus

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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...  

Love Letter from Jesus

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

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The Real Reason Getting Healthy is so Hard (And How to Overcome it!)

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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.  

 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.My counseling training has led me to believe that sometimes it’s important to look back before we can move forward. Each of our lives is a collection of past choices. And those decisions have created today.Sometimes, we chose independently. The consequence, good or bad, was solely our responsibility. But sometimes we were impacted by someone else’s choice. We didn’t choose. They did. And we suffer the consequences. Sometimes, we inherit a mess. Never has this been more true than with Adam & Eve’s choice in the Garden of Eden. We didn’t eat that piece of fruit. They did. They paid the price for their decision. And so did we. Our struggle for healthy living is included in this fallout. Why?Because Adam and Eve were given a choice. Life or death.Life was abundantly available if they trusted their Maker and resisted the only thing in the Garden they couldn’t eat... a single piece of fruit (ironic, huh?). But death was promised with just a single bite of that forbidden fruit. It was up to them.And they bit.The crunch resounds today. Can you hear it?  Death became their inheritance. And ours. We can’t undo their decision. We’re tempted... daily... to follow in their footsteps. It’s easy to listen to wrong advice, give in to temptations, and stay stuck in a cycle of defeat. That’s exactly what the serpent wants us to do.If we do this, the serpent wins.But, it’s not the only path. We can choose differently.Though death is ultimately promised to each of us (our inheritance), we can choose abundant life in-between our start and end date. It starts with a small decision. And then another. And another. What kind of decisions?Daily ones. Small ones. Ones that enhance or life rather than detract from it.Eat an extra vegetable. Drink a glass of water. Walk for five minutes. Give thanks for the body you have today (that’s a tough one... I know). The healthier our decisions and the more we practice them, the better able we are to carry out the unique purpose God has for us while we’re here. I can promise you, our purpose goes far beyond a number on a scale or the size of our jeans. The quality of our choices around things like food and exercise impacts our ability to be fully alive and well. But it’s hard sometimes. So I decided to write a book to make it a bit easier. It’s the part of the story we haven’t talked about before. It’s the part that makes all the difference in finally making peace with your life... mind, body, & spirit. It Began In The Garden is blanketed in Biblical truths observed in the Garden of Eden. When applying this new perspective alongside new strategies, we experience release from the shame, guilt, and self-punishment we’ve inflicted on ourselves for years because of food and our body. More specifically, It Began In The Garden will help you:Make small daily changes for big impactRelease the blame and shame that have kept you stuckHave a “good enough” relationship with food Embrace life beyond the scale     Live at peace with your bodyYou will find hope, encouragement, and resources for making fresh choices that will lead to a healthier future. The one you really want.Caution... you may lose weight.You may also develop better discipline and willpower. You may build new habits and break old ones. You may learn to eat better and exercise more consistently. If you really dive in and apply the principles in this book, you likely will. After all, physical, emotional and spiritual weight loss are the side effects of healthier choices. It’s about wellness... the whole body kind.Adam and Eve made their life-altering decision. Now it’s your time to turn the same power of choice into the catalyst for your healthier future. One decision at a time. Welcome to your fresh beginning. 

 

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On Baking Bread and Remembrance

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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.

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A Cat with No Name

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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 

"Did you hear a cat too? Or am I crazy?"

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Waves

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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

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

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Hello, Goodbye

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

—Jimi Hendrix 

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.

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Sally Page
Awww, Jule, precious words, and such precious memories. This got me teary-eyed. I'm so glad you were able to make the trip back Ea... Read More
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 18:57
Betty Miller
Beautiful reflexion my dear sister-in-law. It surely brought tears to my eyes but we are assured that we will meet again one day ... Read More
Thursday, 22 June 2017 21:45
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Kids Can Be Mean

Kids Can Be  Mean

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

John 13:35

Kids can be mean.

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What I Didn't Do Over My Summer Vacation

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As my kids have been counting down the days to summer vacation, I have been counting them down too. As a teacher, I too look forward to the end of the year—a break from lesson plans, grading, and lectures. I look forward to three months of rest, rejuvenation, and refueling. Everyone has their favorite time of the year. Summer is definitely mine. 

But wait… I have kids of my own…and they require my attention. Perhaps rest and relaxation will need to be redefined. 

When my kids were young, I remember wondering how in the world I was going to keep the little cherubs busy for 15 hours a day, 12 weeks in a row. I set up an elaborate calendar of playdates, swim lessons, and activities to keep their minds and bodies active. I tried to make every day a fun adventure. I compiled a list each summer of places we’d visit on sunny days, and places we’d go on rainy days. I took trips to my parents’ cabin, trips to McDonald's, and trips to Daddy’s office—just to let him know how much fun we were having. My kids loved summer, and wanted it to last forever. And part of me loved it too. But by the beginning of August, I was praying for deliverance from my scheduled craziness and together time. The start of the school year felt like a vacation from my summer vacation.  

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Layers

Layers

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. 

—Romans 13:14 

Anyone who lives in Minnesota understands with sincere familiarity the concept of dressing up in layers.

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Crazy Treasures

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There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Once I found her sitting in the bathroom sink. She was fully clothed, and the sink was overflowing as the faucet water continued to cascade down the sink like Niagara Falls as she brushed her teeth with my toothbrush. She was enjoying her self-created mini-pool immensely. 

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Aging Isn't for the Faint of Heart

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I’ve reached the age where my train of thought often leaves the station without me.

—Maxine 

I’m aging. And it’s getting more and more apparent: from the crow’s feet around my eyes to my ever-growing wattle neck. Yep. Inherited that lovely item from my grandma o. There were so many wonderful traits I would have loved to have inherited from grams, but, this is the one I got. 

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My Little Copycat

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We officially have a one-year-old on our hands, and I have to admit, this stage is F-U-N.

Sure, there’s still nap struggles and defiance in the face of vegetables and blowouts. It’s a “nose goes” game anytime we hear the rumble. But at this age, there’s an unquenchable curiosity, a little mimicking, that’s just downright amusing. 

We clap, she claps. We scream, she screams. We laugh, she fake laughs back. I moo like a cow; Mabel moos like a cow back. Every day, we play this game of back-and-forth.

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Is there a right way to pray?

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I was always a little nervous about praying out loud in a group. Even praying a dinner blessing would sometimes cause a bit of stress. I would worry that I was somehow doing it wrong. The words always sounded fine in my head but when they left my mouth they were somehow less than lovely. I wanted to take them back, to edit, and then put forth my prayer in perfect grammar and proper theology.

I have tried acronyms in order to craft the perfect prayer: P.R.A.I.S.E., ACTS, PRAY, P.R.A.Y.E.R. They are all wonderful tools and have brought great clarity to my prayer time. But for me, I find myself holding back. I find myself more concerned with the format than I do with the subject. 

At least I know I’m not alone. Maybe you’ve struggled too? Jesus taught his disciples to pray. They wondered how to communicate with the God who loved them, so Jesus encouraged them to come to him whenever they felt a need. He wanted them to know that the door was always open. 

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Nells Wasilewski
I am reminded of Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but ... Read More
Thursday, 04 May 2017 12:03
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Grab Bag

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'Cause Jesus paid it all All to him I owe My sin had left this crimson stain, he washed it white as snow

It's washed away, all my sin And all my shame

—Jesus Paid It All, Elvina M. Hall

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Bend Low to Bless

Bend Low to Bless

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”

Mandy Hale

“I tell you the truth, anything you do for the least of my people here, you also do for me.”

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Taking Easter Egg Hunts a Little Too Far

Taking Easter Egg Hunts a Little Too Far

Growing up, I remember my dad hiding Easter eggs in the best of spots.

Inside the cabinet of our piano, on top of the ceiling fan blades, nestled in the strings of our basketball hoop, and scattered across our backyard in the mesh of leaves, dirt, and lawn furniture. And my brother, sister, and I would play like sleuths, elbowing each other for the biggest eggs, and each secretly hoping for another quarter to add to our piggy bank. 

Now since my own toddler has come of age to participate in an Easter egg hunt, you can bet your bottom dollar it is on. My husband jokingly (but not so jokingly) left a stack of eggs on our kitchen table with these instructions: “So Oscar can practice. Try to get him to find the gold ones first—they have the biggest prizes.” Welcome to the inside of #andersonpartyof4.

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When Memory Fades

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I was determined to learn a new language, even if I was well past the age of a typical college student. But I found that I struggled retaining many pieces of information—from simple vocabulary to complex verb conjugations. My professor noticed my difficulty and gave me a simple suggestion, “Study right before bed,” he said. “Your brain functions well while you’re sleeping.”

After years of pulling all-nighters as a graduate student, I found this concept difficult to believe. But a recent sleep study published by Notre Dame found that studying before sleep had some significant memory benefits. The study tested college students who were divided into two groups—those who were given information to memorize at 9 am, followed by 10 hours of wakefulness; and those who were given information to memorize at 9 pm, followed by 10 hours of sleep. Those who studied the information and went right to sleep could recall that information 10 hours later and were even able to process complex information and processes while they slept. Those who studied that information during the daytime were less able to recall even simple formulas and vocabulary.

Could it be true? Could it be possible…that I just needed to study and then sleep? I could hear mothers across the country rejoicing…college students celebrating.  I thought I owed it to my professor to try it.

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Julie Miller
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 12:58
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Destination

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This very idea that we have individual homes in heaven is really neat... Mansions are the personal expression of this person in house form... Mansions are big and different and have friends like striped cats and furry dogs that you knew as a kid. 

—Josiah Cullen 

It was bound to happen. 

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Loved... from Ordinary to Extraordinary

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We gals grew up hearing and reading love stories and fairy tales from the time we were little. One of my very favorites was, and still is, Cinderella. 

Perhaps I am drawn to her story because, like myself, she was just an ordinary gal. 

And, she, like many of us, found herself stuck in what felt like the inescapable drudgery of daily life.  

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Solidarity, Mamas

Solidarity, Mamas

Play dates are the best. The other day, all of us moms lugged in our car seats with toddlers in tow, we spread out some toys across the living room carpet, and our babies just sat there staring at each other. The ladies cracked open some sparkling waters while the toddler boys roamed the room, and in no time, it was pretty apparent we didn’t get together for them anyways. Because really, a play date? Who are we kidding…more like a mom therapy group.

“So when did you introduce a second meal?” “How many ounces is he drinking these days?” “Can you take a look at her rash?” And on. And on. And on. No one else could possibly be interested in hearing about potty-training for a half hour, or my woes on how my baby’s sleep schedule has rocked my world. It would be a complete and utter snooze fest, a wasted hang out, to everyone else. Everyone else, except the very people going through the EXACT SAME THING. To them, it was like finally finding a lemonade stand on a hot summer day.

How have you experienced this in your season of life? You know who those people are. They’re the ones giving jerky, emphatic nods whenever you share the highest highs and the deepest lows of what’s really going on, chiming in to every detail with a, “Yes! Yes! YES.” Don’t you just love them? When you meet these people, you can almost feel the connection, the electricity in the room that comes from finally being understood, finally feeling like you aren’t alone, finally pulling back the curtain and getting a standing ovation. You walk away feeling nothing short of a kindred-spirit-kind-of-bond after all the confessing, debriefing, and empathizing.

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Why I like My Dust Bunnies

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My son came home from school one day and grabbed the dust pan and broom. I had wondered if this boy who rarely jumps into chores without my prompting had suddenly become responsible and independent during the course of the school day. As I was getting ready to sit down and congratulate myself for training him right, I heard him say, “Got it!” With that declaration, he grabbed a Ziploc bag from his pocket and carefully poured in the dust bunnies he had collected from under our couch. 

By the expression on my face, he could see that I was quite confused. “It’s for science,” he said. “We are studying what kind of stuff makes up dust. We’re dissecting it!” 

I didn’t know if I should be proud or offended that he knew just where to find these suspicious little dust-bunnies. I thought that I’d been successful at keeping those little buggers hidden. When it was time to host a party or even just a friend or two, I would take great pains to go through the house collecting and eliminating these dusty little reminders that people actually live in my home. I much prefer creating the impression that my family is so squeaky clean and happy that even the dust bunnies don’t gather here. 

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Julie has been inspiring children, youth, and women as a speaker, teacher, silent retreat leader, author and mentor for over 30 years. She was the Director of Women's Bible Studies at Eagle Brook Church, is a certified Spiritual Director and the owner of Heart Matters Publishing Company. She is an alumnus of Bethel University and Christos Center for Spiritual Formation. As an author she has written Bible Study Curriculum and Devotionals, including her latest collaboration, Whispers of God's Grace. Julie draws on her wide range of life experiences, humor and love of God's Word and His creation for her writing. When she is not writing, you will find her absorbed in a good book, puttering in her garden or dreaming of France. Julie and her husband, Rey, live in White Bear Lake, MN and are the parents of two grown sons, Erik and Kyle.

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