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Who Is Our Neighbor?

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 Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. —Mark 6:30-31Who is your neighbor? Is it the people living next to you? Is it your fellow man? Or is it the strangers you might never meet?Rey and I recently served at Second Harvest Heartland. We were at the tail end of the boxes. Rey put in Instant Potatoes and Dried Milk Powder in each package. I put a flyer in, date-stamped it and then sent it through the taper. The guy on the end loaded it onto a pallet. A week's worth of food goes into each box. Feeding the most vulnerable around us. It was such a gift to us to be able to serve. We were so blessed by the experience that we'll be back serving the first week of June.All of us, at some time or ...
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A Blessed Memorial Day to you...

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We remember all those who served our country... and those who still serve. THANK YOU!  
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God's Gentle Hand

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Only when you create space for your dark parts to speak, and you listen to what they have to say, will they truly begin to lower the volume of their screams. They need to trust that you will listen to them rather than attempting to shut them up. Attempting to shut them up will, in the end, only make their screams louder; begging to be heard. Even in your shame, even in your fear or your darkness, God is bending down, trying to gently lift your head so He can look into your eyes. This is what I believe he may say… "Even in your shame or darkest moments, I still love you, no matter what. Nothing about you is too much to handle. You are beloved. Your shame will be drowned out by my love if only you let me in. I will shine light in those dark places, and you can break free from the chains that...
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Healing Father

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A grenade exploded. COVID-19. And through the embers and debris, our world became almost unrecognizable. Like I had entered an episode of The Twilight Zone.In this new world, people's stories swirl in my brain in a never-ending cycle. A friend whose pain is growing almost intolerable because she no longer has access to her physical therapy. A young farmer dressed in a soft blue flannel and cowboy hat in tears as he loses the farm that has been in his family for generations. Nurses and doctors in New York in their scrubs, exhausted and overwhelmed. Just when they think they have the treatment for this new virus figured out, another precious life slips away. A dad sits outside crying, pain in his eyes, as he shares with the world how his son just took his life from the isolation and despair....
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Singing in The Street and Whispers of Hope

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With an international phenomenon of social distancing in pandemic proportions taking over our daily lives, I am amazed at the human spirit and creativity that has the potential to ooze out of us all. It seems that in tough times our power to choose the good is highlighted as our only road map to hope. That God tenderly whispers ideas to us, to encourage our neighbors and maybe even love them a little better than we were before and to me this is very humbling and full of life.In my little corner of the world, the UK, it all started with my dad asking me whether I wanted to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow out on the street a couple of weeks into lockdown. I said I would be happy to and since then we have been out on the street every week. The idea emerged as the nation announced a weekly mom...
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A Poem on Spring

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I wandered lonely as a cloudThat floats on high o'er vales and hills,When all at once I saw a crowd,A host, of golden daffodils;Beside the lake, beneath the trees,Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.Continuous as the stars that shineAnd twinkle on the milky way,They stretched in never-ending lineAlong the margin of a bay:Ten thousand saw I at a glance,Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.The waves beside them danced; but theyOut-did the sparkling waves in glee:A poet could not but be gay,In such a jocund company:I gazed- and gazed- but little thoughtWhat wealth the show to me had brought:For oft, when on my couch I lieIn vacant or in pensive mood,They flash upon that inward eyeWhich is the bliss of solitude;And then my heart with pleasure fills,And dances with the daffodilsWilliam Words...
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In the Garden

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In the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden containing a new tomb in which nobody had yet been laid. Because it was preparation day and because the garden tomb was conveniently near, they laid Jesus in this tomb.On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb, very early in the morning, while it was still dark, and noticed that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been lain.They said to her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they have put him!" she said.Then she turned and noticed Jesus standing ther...
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Easter Hope

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Suicide rates are climbing. Uncertainty fills the air like a bonfire on lighter fluid. The air swirls heavy and dark around us, smothering at times. We breathe deeply to steady ourselves.Then fear comes at us again, like a wasp that won't leave us alone. Or like an evil character in a nightmare we try so hard to escape from.For some, it is fear of the virus itself. Of losing our health. Or fear of losing a dear loved one whose systems are already compromised. And for some, this fear becomes a reality and their world will never be the same.Others watch as their business they had been dreaming about building since their young days, pouring their aspiring ideas and overflowing energy into, evaporates away like dew on grass. Others find themselves trying to work their job from h...
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Simmer, Soak and Rise

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Passover and Easter are with us again this week and boy does the world look different to last year. These two biblical accounts are profound markers on our walk as believers and their interwoven presence in the life of Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) as He lived and walked towards the cross and resurrection.The story of the first Passover can be found in Exodus 12. It speaks of unleavened bread, the tenth and final plague of the death of the first born, and a communal instruction and response in the most difficult and gut wrenching situations. It also speaks of being home with your household and a light being in the midst of that home as you do as the Lord instructs. The story speaks of redemption, salvation and the freedom that comes with the path of God redeeming His people and the ch...
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African Violets

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​This is written by my precious kid-sister growing up... Sally Blick Page.The Amen of nature is always a flower. —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.Well over a year ago, a friend gave me an African Violet. She was going to throw it away because it was getting crowded in the pot it was in, as it had 3 different plants, and it wasn't blooming anymore.I told her I wanted to take it home to see if I could salvage it. I separated the 3 individual stems and repotted them into 3 different pots. I used special African Violet potting soil; I bought a special African violet pot for the biggest of the 3 plants. It's a porous smaller pot that fits into the larger pot that is filled with water, so it continually gets water to its roots. I even bought African violet food to add to the water! I put the pots...
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Second-Guessing Myself

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Don't be anxious about anything... —Philippians 4:6I don't know if you've ever experienced this or not, but I have found that sometimes after I have said yes to serving the Lord in one capacity or another, I begin to second-guess myself. I think of all the other qualified folks out there who could do a much better job than me, and I grow a little weak in the knees. But then, just about the time I have convinced myself that I really ought to bow out of my obligation, God encourages my quivering heart by reminding me of the type of people He used in the past.Take Amos, for instance. When God needed a preacher to talk some sense into His people Israel, He didn't go to the nearest synagogue or seminary to find His candidate; he chose an ordinary man who tended fig trees for a living.When he wa...
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Stephen: Liquid-Gold Truth

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They were embarrassed. So they looked at each other with an evil glint and a nod of their heads. Their pride had been slashed with a sword. A sword of truth. "None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke." So they went after him. Stephen, this wise truth-teller who was selected to help run the early church because he was "full of faith and the Holy Spirit."Their pride wounded, they persuaded men to lie about Stephen, saying he was speaking against the law of Moses, the Temple "and even God"; the people, including elders and teachers of religious law, became so angry they arrested him. They dragged Stephen before the high council, but all they could do was stare at him "because his face became as bright as an angel's."Fina...
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The Interruptions of Jesus

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The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life — the life God is sending day by day.—C.S. LewisInterruptions: to be stopped or hindered by others with remarks or questions.From the start of his ministry to his death, Jesus couldn't finish a sentence, attend a dinner, a Wedding or even find time away without being interrupted. When Jesus was teaching in a house, four friends couldn't get their paralyzed friend in, so they climbed up on the roof with him in tow. They decided to let him down from the roof. So, they tore a patch big enough to lift him down and because of their precious faith, Jesus healed him. Despite...
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David: Fight or Flight

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David means 'Beloved of God' and recently I have gained a deeper appreciation for what this could mean from an essence point of view. Who was this man, who was once a boy? How did it feel to be anointed so young? Did he know how much story he would have to write before he sat on a throne? How many miles did he walk with his men? How many nights did he stay in caves vs canvas? His life plays a melody with romantic ruddiness to show more than a fluffy romantic notion. Maybe he suffered melancholy in moments but so many times we also see him choose gutsy right-action and take another step. His essence as 'Beloved of God' was full of learning and leaning and I want to touch on some of this today.As I sit and write I slow my breathing down, deeply inhale and exhale and bring to my imagination a...
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A New Beginning

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My friend Melody wrote this blog on her new beginning...  The beginning is always today. — Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Thus begins a new column on a new day. I have not written a column on new beginnings before. Maybe because the phrase new beginnings is redundant! Can there be an old beginning?When you encounter a beginning a range of feelings can be felt: openness, excitement, fear, sadness, freedom, happiness…We get to choose what feeling we are going to hold on to. With each column I write I never know what the finished product is going to look like. It is an exciting adventure each time I sit down to write.I have a theme and goals for each column as well as an openness. Then I engage with the ideas and the column has begun. There are twists and turns in the process.Eventuall...
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Count Your Blessings

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Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. —VoltaireThroughout the years, it has been my habit to keep a Faith Journal. I call it a Faith Journal because what I have written on those pages... when my faith is firm and the eyes my heart are open to see the various blessings that God has touched my life with... have been the greatest source of encouragement to me when my faith is especially thin and my eyes so clouded with tears that I have a hard time seeing God's presence anywhere.As I flip through that journal, I am reminded that yes! God has walked with me through every twist and turn along life's way. He has whispered my name on the wind and touched my innermost being with beauty. He has embraced me through the hugs of friends and spoken deep into my h...
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Lovely Ragtag Church

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When strangers walked through my front door along with a diverse mixture of people I knew, I wasn't sure how this would go.My daughter had organized this gathering, feeling strongly that those of us who are Christ-followers and also passionate about digging below the surface of what is really going on in our world, should meet. We gathered our tea and snacks and then I ushered them into a small sitting room with glass doors overlooking the lake.As we talked, the sky turned black as quickly as water going through my Keurig. At one point the man across from me got a funny look on his face as he looked past me. "It can't be that time." His wife's mouth shot open and her eyes became large buttons. I craned my neck around to look at the huge metal wall clock hanging behind me. No way it co...
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Be a Pine Tree

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 At least there is hope for a tree…if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its root may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.—Job 14:7-9Pine TreesBefore straight-line winds tore through our neighborhood one summer, we used to have stately pine trees gracing the fence line of our backyard. Despite the trees determined effort to withstand the storm's fury that fateful day, several of them, looking more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, had to be cut down. Three rather defiant pine trees managed to remain rooted in place, although they were snapped in two in the process. After all the debris was cleared away, those three broken pines stood as the only evidence of the ...
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New Beginning

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I was asked to write on new beginnings for this weeks blog post and although I had a few ideas of the directions I could go I ended up wrestling with these two simple words. This left me wondering how I might best express these thoughts and a poem emerged. I hope the questions in this short poem and the overall prose will help you see the art of taking time within new beginning seasons, for what goes around comes around and Gods cycle is one of grace.New Beginning I wonder how I will read the past from this moment?Is it place or time or both?Something never lost but never again to be walked.Mine and yours and ours.I only have the past to look back on this day, this moment, new beginning.And now. And now. And now.But I do get to write it anew, from a new beginning point of view.We walked th...
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Voice

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The loud shrill of a toddler makes me scrunch my face as I resist the reflex to shoot my hands up to my ears. While my ears are being pierced, I can't help but smile, my heart melting. This is the sound of a voice being found, practicing and playing with different tones and volumes, and it is a beautiful thing. Language and vocals are one part in developing a voice, but it's not the whole. It is just the beginning. It seems to me that some are born with their voice fully formed and developed, able to express their needs and wants without any problem. While for others that expression is harder and takes much more work and time to develop. I'm among those who have had to work hard to find my voice. Often being a quiet observer rather than a vocal contributor in life. Part of that is the pers...
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The Journey

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I tramp a perpetual journey. Walt WhitmanAs a five-year-old girl, we moved to Minnesota from Pennsylvania. And it was to Pennsylvania we'd travel for summer vacations, and if we were lucky, for Christmas too.We had many relatives in both states and precious friendships as well. There was always excitement in the journey home to PA. It was, after all where my mom, sis and I were born. We married the summer before Rey's senior year of college. As soon as he graduated, we packed up and left for France. A journey nothing like home. So foreign to us. Different language. Different food. Different everything. Yet, somehow it grew to be home to us. The basketball team became like brothers to my hubby, the Bonnet's (the President of the team) became like our parents, and Bonnet's daughter, Maryse, ...
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Goals

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New Years. A time of year we observe that God did indeed make each of us one-of-a kind. One friend says, "I never make resolutions," and laughs carefree. Another will pull out her latest New Year's Resolutions typed in serious Arial or Calibri on 90 lb. bright white paper from her nicely-labeled folder. This year I observed some cementing their 2020 intentions on Facebook. Others reflected on the woes of the past year. Still others looked forward to the new year with the same excitement they did when pumpkin spice lattes came out in the fall.I love this diversity. But some of you may be feeling New Year's stress or ambivalence; I hope some of the following thoughts are helpful.​When is not important. Self-reflection and goal setting are beneficial, but when can be what makes sense for you....
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Burdensome Baggage

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Carrying any baggage with you into the New Year? Oh… I'm not talking about those extra pounds we all put on over the holidays. Or even the balance pending on your credit cards. What I'm talking about is the emotional stuff we lug around with us—old junk that we just can't seem to shake off—excess luggage like old grudges, hurt feelings, discouragement, nagging worries and cares.I sure feel like I am carrying a big old suitcase or two with me this year. The problem with carrying that burdensome stuff around with us is that it doesn't just weigh on your mind, it weighs down your heart and impacts your life. It leaves you wide-eyed at night. It shadows you during the day. You try to release it. You beg God to take it. But somehow it still haunts you. Over the last few weeks I've been reading ...
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Christmas Blessings

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Wishing you and yours a precious holiday season filled with love, joy and gift of the Savior’s presence into the New Year! 
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A Little Change

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Do you have a container somewhere in your home where you collect all the loose change from your pockets and the bottom of your purses? Somehow over the span of weeks, months and years the change accumulates and you wonder how much might be in the jar. Well, we have had a jar in our kitchen, a jar that is so big that it would take at least 10 years to completely fill, and this past weekend we went to a local store and had it counted and returned to us in dollar bills. The amount was fun and surprising.The jar had not only accumulated US dollars but other currency as well, including Pesos, Canadian dollars, Israeli shekels, Euros and British Pounds. As we filtered our coins through the machine the unrecognizable coins made for a handful of foreign change, and so my winter tale begins.Amidst ...
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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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