Heart Matters Blog

Journey along with the Heart Matters Gals

Christmas Gifts: For Your Friends and Family

Christmas 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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The In-Between

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Distressing as these in-between times of the season may be, they can also be nourishing for the soul. —Macrina Wiederkehr Walking in the woods lately I've begun to spot signs of this in-between place. Many trees have long lost their coat of many colors and stand naked against a gray sky and chilly wind. It looks like winter. But it isn't quite yet. Although there is snow on the ground and the temperatures are falling, we have another few weeks before winter sets in in earnest. I can feel the seasons change as I continue to walk the woods. The air is brisker than it once was. Squirrels are fattening themselves for the months to come. And a layer of ice has formed on the nearby lake. There are fewer bird songs in these quiet woods. The trees groan as they relinquish themselves to this i...
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Delight, Beginnings, Purpose

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These last weeks have been hard, deep, full of prayerful heart murmurings, gutsy right action and a bucket load of grace, oh and tears, a whole bunch of tears. I want to tell you one portion of these past few weeks. A huge starting point was that my grandma passed away, back in the UK, we called her Nannie, she was 95. She passed on the morning of a day which couldn't have been more full if it had tried. I spoke to my dad at 6 am and he shared the news. We both wept. By 7 am I was on the road to sing at a church called Eden about half an hour away. By 11.30 am I was on route to my home church, Genesis, who were saying goodbye to a member of staff and mourning that loss. By 12.30 pm someone asked me what I needed and I said company and some food. We ate. By 3.15 pm I was at a rehearsal for ...
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To Start

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The goal is to start for we may never know our own finish. Don't strive for perfection. Don't try to impress. Just keep an open heart and forgive. Yourself. Another. All the others. Forgive what you think you can't so that your life can breathe and your days can play. So that God can send you joy and you will feel it deep in your bones.
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Look Up

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Our path was layered with thousands of red, yellow, brown, and orange-colored tree tears. My friend and I started to climb yet another steep hill whose sometimes calf-level leaves hid all manner of tricksters—branches, deep ruts, prickly vines, stones in sandy soil, loose pebbles, and slippery mud. Our eyes were glued to our path, our forward motion in the leaves making an amplified cereal-smacking sound. Suddenly we heard commotion above and to our left from the high barren trees. We stopped in our tracks and swung our heads around just in time to see two beautiful eagles swoop up and away from their secluded nests. After the eagles were out of sight, their glory no longer ours to observe, my friend said, "We need to look up more! Just think about how many birds up the...
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God Sees You

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If you sold a few sparrows, how much would you get? A penny perhaps? Yet, your Father in heaven knows when those small birds fall to the ground. Beloved, you are more valuable to God than even these. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. —Matthew 10:29-30 Tucked into the Wisconsin woods at a prayer cabin one afternoon, a sweet little bird flew into the picture window where I was sitting. The sickening thud stopped my heart for a second. I instantly jumped up, looked out the window and saw that little bird sprawled out on the leaf-covered ground. I grabbed a towel, like my mom always does when a bird hits her window, and went out to investigate. The little bird lay motionless with its tiny wing bent backwards. I thought it was dead. But, when I rea...
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The Holy Practice of Stopping

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We love to lift the voices of women who speak truth into our souls. Today we are blessed to have Sally Eliza Cranham. And we'd like to dedicate this to our Jewish friends grieving the loss of their loved ones in Pittsburgh. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. —Exodus 20:8 For at least the last ten years I have been on a journey of entering into Sabbath, or Shabbat. Shabbat literally means, 'to stop' and we first come across the word in Genesis where God, in the space of completion, stops and rests. Having many Jewish friends, I have been gifted with a deep experience of making Shabbat a set apart moment in my week. They have also helped me unpack an understanding of the commonly used phrase among Christians of, "resting in God". Shabbat is traditionally celebrated on a Friday...
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The Narrow Place

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We Heart Matters Gals are thrilled to announce that we have a poet who has joined our team. Nicole Duclos! We couldn't be happier! Please welcome her warmly... There is a tiredness, an ache in the bones, that calls us to wake up to all the things ignored. Things that extend so far back they feel like breathing, like they are layered into our souls. There are times (isn't it true?) after we have been rescued that we still call out for our prisons, our walls. We have been told, the way out is through the wilderness. When we are called, how many of us will go? Will we even hear it? How many of us will have the courage to trade our tiredness for freedom?
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When Blustery Winds Blow

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I am like a deaf man who cannot hear…  Be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. Psalm 38:13a / 35:22b The wind blew strong all through the night, rattling windows… and my nerves…and today it blusters still.Even as I sit here, it howls and hollers. Our neighbor's screen door slams open and closed, being pushed and pulled with each stiff gust. Leaves scurry and scatter across our lawn in every direction. The typical sounds of a neighbor's dog barking or of traffic hurrying along the nearby highway are muffled, if not silenced, by the wind's boisterous behavior. But, it is not just the wind that has been blustering of late. My mind feels tumultuous as well. Unsettled thoughts have been clamoring noisily in my head; yet, the more I try to pull them together, the more strewn they beco...
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Freedom

Freedom
I  read something this summer, and I couldn't get it out of my head. It was a "light switch-flipped-on" moment. You know the ones. Where the truth of it sinks into your inner soul while simultaneously making you wonder how you never saw it before. Here were the light switch words: "Our freedom of choice is so valuable to Him that He restrains Himself from manifesting His presence in a way where our freedom of choice would be removed…when He reveals Himself in fullness, even the devil and his demons will declare that Jesus Christ is Lord." — Bill Johnson, Encountering the Goodness of God He restrains himself. Wow. That's how important our freedom is to him. How important it is that we choose him. It makes sense though, doesn't it? We are made in his image and don't we want to be c...
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When you lose your child's future

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​We have the very sweet privilege to share the following story by Hannah Michele Fordice. When she lost her dad to a house fire, she also lost the precious child she was carrying. If you've experienced miscarriage or someone close to you has, you will blessed and encouraged by what you read today.  Although 15-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, I don't often hear about the effect this kind of loss has on the women who've experienced it. Its like society has gagged 1/4 of the female population into silent, invisible grief. And to be honest, I'm guilty of holding the gag in place. Its not that I haven't wanted to write about my miscarriage… I have. I just honestly didn't know how. Because how do you describe what it is to miss something you never got to have? I remember when my brot...
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The Art of Listening

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Listening seems to be a lost art these days. Most folks in today's culture would rather debate than dialogue. And we're rather an opinionated lot. Instead of being quick to listen and slow to speak, we tend to be quick to speak our minds and slow to bite our tongues and listen. It's so easy to talk over each other without really hearing what is being said. If we're honest with ourselves we are often formulating our response (or rebuttal) before the other person can complete their thought.  Listening is  truly an art form. Art, true beauty-filled art, requires skill. And skill is cultivated with hard work and study. The more time spent practicing one's skill, one's art, the more one develops an eye, ear, and feel for it. With time and practice art becomes ...
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Delinquent Daisy

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While the dogs were running around at a nearby park thick with surrounding woods, I called to them as it was time to skedaddle. Work to do. A growling stomach to fill. As usual, one was delinquent. This time it was Daisy. I'm pretty sure that every night after I go to bed they do rock, paper, scissors —a doggie version of course —to determine whose turn it is to tune me out. So my 90-pound newfie mix and I trudged back to the car. I gave Mia her treat for listening and got her settled comfortably in the car with the windows down. I called again to Daisy and was about to get in the car to drive closer when she bounded out of the woods. She came to a baseball diamond fence, however, and was just not sure what to do. The fence was standing between her and me. She looked at me expectantly acro...
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The Desert

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The desert is lovely in its restfulness—the great brooding stillness over and through everything is so full of God. —Lilias Trotter Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert...where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days... When the devil had finished all this tempting...Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit. —Luke 4:1-2, 14 It's hard to imagine going without food for forty days. Experiencing the darkest of temptations. And not only overcoming them, but, stepping out of the desert full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, that is exactly what the New Testament account states. I've never been to a desert. The closest I've come was out on the western range of Colorado and eastern Utah. It's considered to be semi-desert shrubland. B...
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A Blessed Labor Day to you!

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This summer flew by quickly... I'm sure you all feel the same way. And now autumn will quickly be upon us in all it's colorful beauty. It's chilly temps. The smell of fires in the fireplaces.  But, until then. We pray that you will enjoy these last fleeting moments before school begins and life shifts into high gear. God bless you dear readers - we are so very grateful for you! LuAnn, Heidi and Julie
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When Tensions Run High

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​ Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. —Dr. Wayne W. Dryer It's always a little harrowing to drive into a city that you're unfamiliar with. As I am the navigator or the directions person in our vehicle and my hubby the driver, invariably that can lead to high tension. I hadn't been to Pittsburgh in over twenty years. Besides that, whenever we did go we always drove down with my aunt and uncle, who knew the city like the back of their hand. But, Pittsburgh was precisely where the American Cheese Society Conference was being held this year. As we approached the city and crossed over Veteran's Bridge, we desperately searched for our exit into downtown. It wasn't until we passed the exit that we realized it went by another...
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Hidden

Hidden
As I was heaving the watermelon out of the cart into my mini black SUV trunk on a sweltering summer day, tiny silver hoops on a white card caught a glint of sun's rays and flashed a hello up at me. So I finished unloading the rest of the bags from the cart, slammed my trunk door, rolled the cart to its nearest holding tank and made my way back into Walmart with my errant earrings. I scurried to the nearest self-checkout. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a Walmart worker coming my way. So much for trying to remain unseen. I figured she was probably wondering what was up. As I began to explain that my earrings had been playing Hide-and-Seek, I realized she didn't want to hear about it. Instead I was being chastised for not waiting in line. There was a line-up for self-checkouts? Who knew? W...
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What God Might Say...

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Of my past, God might say, You are my child, then and now, and I have always loved you. Even in heavy moments of shame, the darkest of nights; in the hours you thought I would never love you again. Even then. Of my faith, God might ask, What is faith? Some people think it is just following the rules, abstaining; keeping your legs expertly crossed, and your hair brushed neatly. But faith cannot be shown in outside things. Except, perhaps, the kindness from your eyes as you look into the face of another while they share their pain. Faith comes down to the words of my Son: Love one another. No version of rule following can mean more to me than this. Of my future, God might say, I can promise you, if you stop living as if I am taking accounts, and live, instead, from loving… my love for you, y...
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Nourished

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  I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. —Psalm 63:1 It was raining in Big Sky the day I had all to myself to write. From our condo in the treetops I watched the pine trees sway to the rhythm of each gusty wind that blew. Rain splattered large sloppy drops across the window pane. Lone mountain was obscured from view in heavy gray clouds. And it was chilly. Sometimes the raindrops looked more like snowflakes. And it was July. But, oh was it green. We had traveled to Big Sky from Colorado. A state that hadn't seen a drop of rain in months. And it was parched dry. The fire risk has been at high alert. Several fires are still burning acres of land, homes and possessions as I write this. Oh, what they...
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Sum...Sum...Summertime

Sum...Sum...Summertime
​ Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. Henry James   Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. John Lubbock I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.  Violette Leduc Sweetest blessings on your summer! We Heart Matters girls are taking July off to soak in the summer sun, drink in the wild air and wade our toes blissfully in the cool lakes and streams! See you in August! LuAnn, Heidi and Julie
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Your Letter to Your Younger Self

Your Letter to Your Younger Self
We’d love to hear the letters you would write to your younger self, if you could bridge the span of time. What counsel would you give yourself? What do you wish you had known when you were a child, teen or young adult?  Please post your letters in the Comment section or on our Facebook page! We really would love for you to share them with us!
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Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Me
Dear younger me: Grasp and consume God's insatiable love for you. Understanding whose you are will help you to know who you are. When you get your identity from God, you won't need your identity from others. It's the only way you can begin to see people as God does and love them without subconsciously seeking to get something in return (e.g., approval). It's the only way you will risk and not worry about failing. It's the only way you will dance like no one is watching. It's the only way you will fight Satan's lies. You know; the ones where he whispers that God is disappointed in you. That a true Christian would never think those things or stumble like that. That what you are doing isn't good enough. He has already given you everything you need for godly living. You can stop...
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Dear Me...

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We are beginning a new series for the month of June called  A  Letter to My Younger Self . We pray that it will both resonate with you and encourage you. Dear Me, If I could impart some wisdom to you from this my 60th year, I'd like to tell you something you were never told growing up. You is kind. You is smart. You is important.* You is kind. Kindness is the gift of a tender heart. A heart of which you have. It is a heart that has experienced it's share of pain and trauma and yet sees the world as good, as beauty-filled. Because you are tenderhearted and a bit of a romantic, you will not fare well with the rigidity of your upbringing. You will feel the need to be molded into an acceptable version of you. The thing is...God made you YOU. So even if y...
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Hello June!

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​As long as the earth lasts, there will always be a time to plant and a time to gather the crops. As long as the earth lasts, there will always be cold and heat. There will always be summer and winter, day and night. Genesis 8:22 June is the gateway to summer. Jean Hersey I wonder what it would be like to live in a world that was always June. L.M. Montgomery  And since all this loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June. Abba Woolsen It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. Maud Hart Lovelace  Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January. Hal Borland  Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June. Al Bernst...
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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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