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Heart Matters Blog

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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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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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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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No Rain in Sight: Noah

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I beg you to step into whatever adventure God has for you, whatever the cost. He leads us down different paths,

but none of us is led down the path we would have chosen for ourselves…

Trust whatever He has for you. It will be better than anything you can plan for yourself.

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Wander

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Not all who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien 

…but, maybe a lot of us are…. 

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You probably base your self-image on past experiences. If you’ve failed, you feel like a failure. If you’ve made poor decisions, you think of yourself as stupid. That’s the old way of thinking. When you gave your life to Jesus, he made you entirely new. Your poor choices—made either before or after beginning a relationship with Jesus—do not define you. You need to feel good about yourself or you will never live the life God has for you.

 – Leon Fontaine, The Spirit Contemporary Life

The other day I received yet another free gift in the mail. It seems that once you give to a charity, your name gets around. It must be an effective way of incentivizing donations—mailing out calendars, note pads, labels, cards, coins, stickers.

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Mountain Dew Slushie

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“There is a Me that I cannot see.”

–John Ortberg

He was doing it again.

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Pretension's Pitfalls

by McKayla Adams

 

Counting other people's sins does not make you a saint...

 

Unfortunately, it’s a reality of this dark and fallen world. It isn’t one we like to talk about, maybe because we can hardly fathom the situations ourselves.

 

Maybe even you have been subject to the pain of this not-so-rare phenomenon; it knocks us off our rocker when the people we suspect the least commit a moral failure. Chances are you have felt the confusion, shame, or hurt in one way or another. A famous speaker, a local pastor, and even someone in our own friend and family circles.

 

It’s the very reason some have chosen to avoid Christianity like the plague saying they have no desire to be apart of a group that represents hypocrisy. Christians and non-Christians alike are all stuck wondering: how can someone who claims to follow God commit such actions?

 

Initially when I would hear about someone committing a moral failure, I separated that person as far from someone I could ever be as possible. Like I am walking on the side of light and good and that person like Anakin switched over to the dark side. Without doing it intentionally, I got this lens of disgust and belittlement while placing myself on this pedestal of Christian superiority. 

 

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Sunglasses

 

Our group of close-knit friends was outside enjoying each other’s company while the sun’s rays warmed and darkened our skin, like a toaster working its magic with a piece of bread.

 

Finally someone said something.

 

We’d all been thinking it.

 

“Lori. Seriously. Girlfriend… How can you handle those sunglasses?! That one lense is so scratched up. I don’t know how that doesn’t bother you?! That would really bother me. In fact, it’s bothering me just looking at you!”

 

Several of us chimed in with agreement.

 

Lori gave a hearty laugh as her brunette head bent back in amusement. She seemed highly entertained, and we were baffled as to why. Seriously. How can anyone find a severely scratched lense anything but irritating?

 

 

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“Girls, that is so funny. That’s my bad eye! I can’t see out of that eye, so it doesn’t bother me! I love these glasses, and the other lense is great!” She continued to laugh.

 

We offered up, “Ohhh, of course!... Yes, that makes sense!...” And tried to join in her laughter.

 

But secretly, a part of me was horrified.

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Little Things

Little Things

Her eyes laser beamed into each yard she passed. Squinting refined this endeavor. My husband saw her as he was working outside. Finally, he called out to her, “Hello ma’am!”

 

Her eyes shifted to him and became raisin-small as they zeroed in on him. “Are you new to the neighborhood?” she asked.

 

“Yes, ma’am.” my hubby replied.

 

“Do you have a large black dog and a small white one?” she followed up in no manner of friendliness.

 

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“Yes, that would be my dogs” my hubby replied.

 

“Well, your large black dog crapped in our yard!” she exclaimed with severe agitation.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” hubby replied. “I will be right over to clean it up! Our dogs were playing escape artists the other day when the movers were coming in and out with our furniture.”

 

“Oh” she replied more meekly, being thrown off for a moment from her anger pedestal.

 

My hubby followed her with our slightly “used” but efficient pooper-scooper. As he chatted with her, he discovered we moved from the same area and our kids had been in the same school. When he arrived in her yard, the husband was there, acting rather meek and embarrassed. Brent talked sports with him. The wife continued to complain about all manner of things, including the pesky mosquitoes. When Brent asked if another “pile” was from our dog Mia, she said, “No! That one is from Jake! I’m still trying to track him down!” Brent offered to pick that one up, too. But she said, no, she would track down Jake’s owners.

 

That was the second time we had been in the dog house with a neighbor that week. And literally both times it was because of the dogs.

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Wrong Turns

Wrong Turns

 

“I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

Isaiah 48:17-18

 

It was our annual girls’ getaway. A time when we could work on our photo albums and creative memories without interruptions from our family. This time I had traded in a timeshare for a place in the deep woods of Wisconsin. As my van rumbled over the windy, snow-covered hills, we finally found the place after many mis-turns. The building was hugged by trees and hills with no other manmade structures in sight. And not only was it secluded…it was empty. We were the only ones with beating hearts on the premise except for a lady who worked part-time in a tiny front office.

 

Although the place was nicely kept, it definitely was a throwback. There was only one phone at this resort. It was found in the common area, nestled among the racquet ball courts, pool, hot tub, and ping pong table, any of which we enjoyed whenever we felt the urge to emerge from our photos and cranked-up motivational music.

 

One day we were returning from a bowling venture in a nearby town, having gotten a tad claustrophobic at the resort, the city gals that we were. Lori and I were talking in the front seat of the van, when our friend Julie calmly poked her blonde head between ours from the seat behind us and said, “Ummmm, ladies, we are heading right towards a lake.”

 

What?!

 

Sure enough I had just crested the top of a hill when several yards in front of me was a lake, and I was heading straight towards it. I slammed on the breaks, and we silently looked at the cold, lapping water in front of us for a moment. Once we realized we were safe, we laughed for quite awhile. How did that happen?! Where were the warning signs? How could a main road end in a lake?!

 

We had gotten lost. Very lost. You'd think we would have learned our lesson...

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Trusty Old Cart

“Before your worries make you weary or your concerns get consuming, I pray that you will recognize what is happening and ask Jesus to give you a resting place for your restless heart… Remember who God is—and how good He is at being God.”

Renee Swope, A Confident Heart

 

“Sir, can I help you with that?!” I asked as I walked across the road. I was enjoying quiet time at the prayer cabin’s dock on Spirit Lake when I heard some clattering behind me. I turned and noticed an elderly man slowly loading 12-pack after 12-pack of pop from his truck in his garage onto a wheeled cart.

 

As I got closer I asked again. This time he heard me and looked up. “Ah no. I’m fine, mam. Got this here trusty cart. I used to unload each of these by hand and then carry them into the house. Then I thought, how silly is that? I have a perfectly good cart that is sitting by the garage wall doing nothing. It’s so easy now. I just load up the cart, and away we go into the house and down the stairs!”

 

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“Down the stairs?!” I asked incredulously. “That can’t be easy! Are you sure you don’t want help? It’s no problem at all.”

 

“No. It really is easy with this here cart. I can work hard or hardly work, and at my age, I choose the latter. And this cart sure makes it easy!” he said with a pleased grin that matched the sunny yellow color of his rambler.

 

“Well, that’s still pretty impressive. And a smart idea. Have a good day!” I called out as I left the man in the red, white, and blue plaid shirt to continue to load up his beloved cart.

 

Later, as I was doing some reading in God’s Word at my cabin and reflecting on the day, I realized we often are like that man and his cart. We have a cart with wheels sitting along the wall unused. When we remember to use the cart, it goes so much better for us. And, what we have is much more than a cart.

 

For those of us that have trusted in Christ’s saving power, we have the Holy Spirit living in us, ready to guide us, to help us, to make this life of ours that is filled with trials easier to beargiving us peace and joy in the midst of them.

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The Sneaky Side of Pride

“Pride blinds itself to its own presence, but it leaps up everywhere in our lives—it has a cup of coffee with us in the morning, and it puts us to bed at night. It is the forerunner of all sins, and it makes all other deadly sins even deadlier.”

Ed Young

 

“Pride causes a person to kick God out of the Oval Office of his life.”

Ed Young

 

“Pride can be like bad breath…You don’t know you have it, but everyone else does.”

Mike Smith

 

“Mom, my coach called; is that okay if I fill in tonight? Brenda is snowed in.” “Sure,” said mom. We bundled up and hopped in the car. As we headed out onto our windy, country roads in the snowstorm, we second-guessed the wisdom in that decision.

 

It was a hodgepodge of cheerleaders that showed up to the basketball game that night and not our normal squads; it was whoever could make it to the high school through the storm.

 

So, I shouldn’t have been too surprised at what happened.

 

For the half-time cheer, I bent over and put my hands on my knees. When a girl I normally didn’t cheer with tried to jump on my back, she didn’t quite clear as she should have. As most of my height is in my legs, it was a higher jump than she anticipated. So, as she fumbled into place, the back of my black skirt got tucked up with her.

 

And it wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been wearing my usual black under attire. But being last minute, I couldn’t find them in my drawers or the laundry and opted in my time crunch to not worry about it. Not a wise choice as it turned out.

 

Snickers ensued from the visiting team. Could you blame them?... A white, pink-flowered bottom staring squarely in their faces from a sea of black and orange? And I could do nothing about it, as she cheered away on my back oblivious. I don’t think my face depleted of its red color the rest of the evening.

 

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Many things happen in our lives like that little incident from my high school days that chip away at our pride. Most of them we can laugh about later, thankfully!

 

And it’s certainly good to have a certain amount of pride, a healthy self-esteem. We are God’s creation and sons and daughters of the most high, created to do good works.

 

However, the older I get, the more I realize how many problems in our lives have pride at the root.

 

On an episode of the TV show Castle a scientist develops this invisible suit. Unfortunately, it falls into wrong hands, and the user commits all manner of crimes including murder while wearing this invisible cover.

 

I picture pride that way now.

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Bold Prayer

“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.”

Mark Batterson

I found a t-shirt in the laundry bin I didn’t recognize the other day. I’d like to say that is unusual, but, not in our home.

 

Later, when my twenty-one-old daughter came into the kitchen, she said, “Mom I got a really cool t-shirt last night. I was hanging with Abby and the gang (old high school friends) and Jason said, ‘this t-shirt reminds me so much of you, Mc. Always going 100 miles an hour ever since I’ve known you.’ So I said, ‘If it is so me, then I should have it. Give me the shirt, Jason.’”

 

McKayla

 

So, Jason went home shirtless.

 

I think it was because of that conversation that later, during my devotion time, these words hit with a little more impact: “I am a God who heals. I heal broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships. You cannot live close to Me without experiencing some degree of healing. However, it is also true that you have not because you ask not…there is more—much more—available to those who ask.” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling; James 4:2)

 

So I wondered, “Am I as bold as my daughter in asking for what I want when I approach the throne of grace in prayer?” (Hebrews 4:16)

 

What do you need from God that you are not asking for as well dear friend?

God has chosen prayer as the channel of his blessings. So we need to pray. And we need to pray boldly.

 

Matthew 20:29-34 tells of the story of two blind men who shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd became irritated with them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted even louder. Then Jesus stopped and asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus forced them to define exactly what they wanted from him, even though he and everyone else knew what they needed. Jesus made them verbalize their desire and their faith.

 

I have been around people who have said, “I probably should pray about it, but I think God has more important things to do.” Have you ever heard anyone say that? Have you ever felt that way? That in this big world with millions of people, you and your requests don’t quite make God’s top ten on his “to-do” list.

 

What can inspire us to pray bold prayers?

 

I think it starts by knowing God intimately and by realizing how much God loves you; God made you, loved you to the point of death, and wants to work through you, for your fulfillment and for his glory. From the beginning of creation, God has sought to commune and have relationship with us.

 

Mark Batterson, pastor and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Circle Maker, says, “It is absolutely imperative that you come to terms with this simple yet life-changing truth: God is for you. If you don’t believe that, then you’ll pray small timid prayers; if you do believe it, then you’ll pray big audacious prayers… There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams. That is who He is. That is what He does.”

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Overexposed

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

Mahatma Gandhi

 

My cheeks went red. My jaw dropped. I was probably about five when I saw my brother and his friends, who were in fifth grade, running through the house and outside in only their tighty whities like they were being chased by a rabid coyote. Maybe it was all the sugar from the birthday cake and the Kool-Aid.

 

Regardless, I went scurrying to my mom to report this insanity—yes I was that annoying little tattle-tale sister.

 

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My mom just laughed and said something about boys and dares and got out her camera.

 

Fast forward to today’s world. Think of all the things our children are exposed to by age five. The escalating moral decay smashing into the thriving valley of social media has made for an explosion in our kids’ hands, minds, and hearts that they are hardly aware of.

 

Now a child goes from being bullied on the playground to picking up his phone to see that he is also the latest victim virally… Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, FB, Yik Yak (where you can be an anonymous bully).

 

One study shows that cyberbullying lowers self-esteem, increases depression and produces feelings of powerlessness. Over 70% reported being cyberbuilled once or twice a school year (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2013). Among overweight adolescents, 61% have received mean or embarrassing posts online and 59% have received mean texts, e-mails or instant messages (Anderson, Bresnahan, & Musatics, 2014). 

 

And then there are the sites that kids can access, often quite easily. My sister was shocked once at a morally-depraved site that popped up once with a few wrong key strokes while on Twitter on her child's phone. My son developed a "headache" once while at a birthday party and called me to pick him up. On the way home I learned that there was no headache and instead heard about what the grade school boys had been viewing on the computer in the basement. 

 

And there are the prosuicidal sites, message boards, chat rooms and forums our kids can access, and the growth of suicide pacts kids make together online.

 

Chat websites like Omegle, which is a free online text, voice, and video chat website that’s slogan is “Talk to Strangers,” are attracting a growing number of sexual predators. Local news in New York and Arizona both report that there are a growing number of Omegle-related arrests growing nationwide due to sexual predators. One of the things that is becoming common on these sites is called sextortion. The predator extorts increasingly sexually photos and videos from their young victims. They keep the child quiet by threatening to e-mail the intimate conversations or images their victims have already shared with them to that child’s family members, Facebook friends and classmates. 

 

Then there is the anonymous texting app Kik which has recently become extremely popular with teens. “Kik is the problem app of the moment,” said David Frattare, commander of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. It is a place where inappropriate sexual content and behavior can flourish. “The Kik app has become so popular, it’s probably the one where law enforcement has seen the most activity,” said Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general. Looking at recent cases alone where rape, kidnapping and even murder have occurred through meeting up on this app are heartbreaking.

 

In this growing access to darkness and depravity, it gets harder for us and our children to do as the Bible instructs by thinking about whatever is true, worthy of respect, just, pure, lovely, commendable, what is excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

 

However, it is soul-refilling and innocence-protecting to take this command seriously.

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Easter Passion

At the cross the work was finished You were buried in the ground But the grave could not contain You For You wear the Victor's crown.

Darlene Zschech

Victor’s Crown 

 

The other day I was recalling a conversation between my 21-year-old daughter and my 18-year-old son that happened a few months back:

 

McKayla: “Seriously, Austin, can you not find more uplifting music? This is supposed to be a season of celebration.”

 

“Oh…okay.” He tried two more songs, but when he looked up each time he was met with her wide blue-hazel-hued eyes that said, “really?” louder than if she’d spoken the words.

 

Upon the third try, he was sure he had found a winner.

 

“Austin! Seriously?!” (This time the scowl reached her mouth.)

 

“Mc, really?... Joy to the World. The title, Mc… ‘Joy’…” he said shaking his head and sighing in exasperation.

 

“Yeah, but they need to sing it joyfully, not joylessly,” she countered. “Or what’s the point? Who cares about the title or the words?!” she said before walking off.

 

Despite the fact that I was witnessing once again that my daughter will go to any lengths to win an argument, I had to begrudgingly acknowledge that she had a valid point as Austin and I looked at each other and continued to listen. Yeah, a little light on the joy we had to concede.

 

What the song lacked, really, was passion.

 

As Christians, we are about to celebrate the event that is the cornerstone of our faith: Christ’s finished work on the cross for our salvation. Easter. Or as some refer to it: The Passion.

 

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The Passion refers to the sacrificial suffering and death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion. Jesus foretold these events and made it clear that he would suffer freely for the salvation of the world (Mt 20:18-19).

 

Christ’s passion…his love to the point of bleeding out his life as a sacrifice and payment/atonement for our sins.

 

So, I asked myself:

 

What is the level of passion in my response to this ultimate gift?

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Unloved

Unloved

“The biggest disease this day and age is that of people feeling unloved.”

- Princess Diana

 

Feeling unloved.

 

We’ve all been there.

 

And days like Valentines Day can intensify those feelings.

 

Maybe you feel like Cinderella, knowing your Prince Charming is out there somewhere, but you are stuck sitting among the ashes while your friends attend the ball, and unlike Cinderella, you have no fairy godmother.

 

Or, sometimes worse yet, you think you married Prince Charming, only to find him not quite up to the task. He brings home a Valentines card he hastily bought last minute at the gas station at the same time he picked up his usual coffee; or, he bought you lingerie (which we all know is really his gift); or, he forgot you completely…again. As Abhishele Tiwari is often quoted, “I’d rather be alone and feel lonely and unloved than be in a relationship and feel the same way.”

 

Maybe you have recently lost love…the love of our life has passed on… You keep trying every day to figure out your new normal, and it is a painful and lonely endeavor. As I look around Perkins on a late Sunday morning, I often note an elderly man or lady sitting alone with their meal; I envision them seeing a shadow of their spouse sitting across the booth, as it once was, when they would talk over trivial or impactful issues they shared.

 

Or maybe, like too many people I know, the person you loved with abandon, has instead, abandoned you.

 

Wherever you find yourself, dear friend, you are reading this today because God wants to remind you that you are indeed loved. He wants to remind you that he is the true lover of your soul.

 

In the Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) we have a beautiful, poetic, portrayal of young love between and a man and a woman (The Courtship: 1:2-3:5; The Wedding 3:6-5:1; The Maturing Marriage 5:2-8:14).

 

However, as with most books in the Old Testament, not only is the story be read literally to help us understand the precious physical, mental, and emotional love between a man and woman when carried out in the manner God intended, but most early scholars believe it was also to be read allegorically as God’s love for us and as a foreshadowing of Christ’s love for his people; it also portrays “the intensity of divine love within the human heart” (Sparknotes).

 

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Folly & Friends

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

– Unknown

 

I had only left them alone for a few minutes. But, as I walked back into the kitchen, there sat little Alyssa in the exer-saucer, her face sporting some new vibrant colors. The two culprits were nowhere to be found. When I did locate the giggling girls, they wore finger paint “make-up” as well; the nice white paper that was suppose to display their bold paint, glared back, empty.

 

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Doing day care, I never wanted to leave these two gals together unattended for very long. Ever. One was my daughter, McKayla. She and Tara equaled high energy, out-of-the-box thinking, and when they were together, the fireworks they each created seemed to more than double in intensity.

 

One day they decided Mc’s curtains looked like a fun Tarzan rope… That didn’t go so well.

 

Another time they decided to empty every sunscreen I had onto the slide in the backyard to increase sliding speed… That didn’t go so well either.

 

McKayla’s younger brother, Austin and Tara’s younger sister, Alyssa, were their “dolls;” thankfully they came out in one piece through all of Mc’s and Tara’s escapades. (Conversely, Austin and Alyssa’s idea of a roaring good time was reading together.) 

 

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Friends definitely influence us. We influence our friends.

 

When my daughter got older, her friend choices became a more serious matter.

 

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Feeling A Bit Foolish

 

Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.

Frank Sonnenberg

 

The wise old owl sat on an oak,

The more he saw, the less he spoke,

The less he spoke, the more he heard,

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?

Charles M. Schulz

 

“Hold up! Stop!” I yelled.

 

The little boy with the mop of brown hair stopped suddenly on the playground, looking at me wide-eyed. I’m sure he thought by my reaction that a space creature had landed nearby or that he had done something terribly wrong.

 

I ran over, stooped down, started tying his shoe laces, and started in on my sermon. “Do you know how dangerous it is to run with your shoe untied? That makes me so nervous! You could trip and hurt yourself… Okay. Now you can run and play!”

 

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And he was off to bigger and better things, eager to escape the crazy shoelace guardian.

 

Although watching kids tear around on the playground each day brought me great joy, I was a stickler as a grade school playground monitor on kids having their shoes tied, among other safety virtues.

 

Fast forward to this past November.

 

I had been helping at a retreat all day and thought upon my return it was a good idea to get my dogs’ energy out by taking them on a quick run before dark. Soon after, our threesome ran into a couple that was moving at sloth speed along with their two bull dogs. They were not an older couple, and I couldn’t quite figure out why they kept stopping and why they were moving at about one mile per hour. Finally my impatience got the best of me as I was tired of reining my dogs back from their desire to introduce themselves to this pokey entourage.

 

I thought, “I’ll just run on the left side of the street for a ways and then cut back to the safe side once I’m far enough ahead of them.” I passed them in no time at all (maybe they were botanists studying a new hybrid weed, or comparing ant hill designs, or something else quite interesting). I saw a car coming down the street so I upped my sprint as I cut back to the sidewalk.

 

But, I didn’t make it.

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Christmas Blues: Manger of Hope

…Putting candles in the windows

Lights upon the tree

But there's no laughter in this house

Not like there used to be

There's just a million little memories

That remind me you're not here

It's just a different kind of Christmas this year…

There's one less place set at the table

One less gift under the tree

And a brand new way to take their place inside of me

I'm unwrapping all these memories

Fighting back the tears

It's just a different kind of Christmas this year

Just because you're up in heaven, doesn't mean you're not near…

It's just a different kind of Christmas this year

Mark Schultz

Different Kind of Christmas

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Luke 2:12

I remember the first Christmas without my dad. I was nineteen, and it was six months earlier that cancer had ravaged through my father’s body doing its final work and stealing him from us.

 

To be honest, I don’t really remember that Christmas very well. But, I do remember the feeling. And it wasn’t a good one. It felt wrong. Off-kilter. Even though my dear mom tried her hardest to make it a joyous time for all us kids. And as nice as it was for the rest of us to be together, it was still hard. I missed my dad who would wear his knit winter Packers cap indoors and be even more goofy than usual during the Christmas season. His presence, not his presents, were missed.

 

Is this where you find yourself this season, experiencing the Christmas blues? Christmas movies, carols, presents, the tree with its baubles, lights and ribbon, that usually bring merriment, and the treats and food that should taste scrumptious, all fall flat.

 

You see Christmas cheer and joy swirling around you, but that is where it stays. Outside. The beautiful, bright, winking Christmas lights outside, that reflect blurry greens, reds, and blues off the white snow and burst light through night’s frosty dark curtain, do little to bring light into the darkness inside your soul. Like the lighted reindeer displays frozen to the ground. You feel frozen as well.

 

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And maybe the pain you feel isn’t from a death of a loved one, but from a loss, a death of sorts: A death of a relationship through decisions made. A wayward child that has broken all contact. A loss of health. A loss of feeling safe. Pain can come in many forms. They are all losses to be mourned.

 

Each of us, if we traverse this world long enough, will experience a blue Christmas. We live in a fallen world. Those feelings are normal and okay.

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Floral Bouquets: Thanksgiving Thoughts

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude...I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

G.K. Chesterton

 

I am not one to spend money on cut flowers, even though I enjoy their beauty. But, as I walked through Sam’s club buying items for our annual fall neighborhood food shelf fundraising party, this fall bouquet caught my eye; with white daisies and carnations tinged in black, orange and white, mustard-colored roses edged in burgundy, burnt orange tiger lilies and black statice, topped off with a mini smiley scarecrow peaking over the bouquet beckoning, “Take me home,” what else could I do?

 

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Considering my fall decorations are down to one bin and take about five minutes to set out, I knew this bouquet would add some fun fall character to our home and put me a tad closer on the playing field with my more decorating-savvy Home and Garden-type friends.

 

I carefully trimmed and arranged the flowers, tried out different vases until I found just the right one, and then proudly displayed them on the kitchen island, the hub of our home.

 

Several days later when my daughter was visiting, I overheard her ask, “Dad, did you get these beautiful flowers for mom?”

 

“Ah no….I wonder where those came from?” he asked.

 

“Dad, really…haven’t you seen these before? I noticed them the last time I was home. And that was days ago!”

 

“Really?” he asked surprised. “Hmmmm. I hadn’t noticed. They are really pretty.”

 

Working in the mudroom nearby, the conversation made me laugh. I could pretty much visualize my daughter’s eye-rolling and head-shaking.

 

If the bouquet had been contained in a basketball vase or had a Vikings jersey peaking out of it instead of a scarecrow, he may have noticed the bouquet. Then again…

 

But, after my laughter faded, I began to reflect and wonder: How many “beauties” do I walk by each day without noticing?

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Seeking Jesus: Zacchaeus

  The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Psalm 14:2

 

He rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6b

  

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Two young teen friends spent months on their outfits. They had heard that the more noticeable the outfit, the better chance of them getting stage-side viewing of their favorite performer at her upcoming concert. One of the mom's, a friend of mine, was a little skeptical all this work would pay off.

 

But, the girls believed. So, they spent hours sewing taffeta, lights and various baubles and trinkets onto their outfits in an effort to stand out, to get noticed.

 

And it paid off.

 

As they were enjoying the night, the mother of the performing artist took note and said the words the teen girls worked so hard to hear, “Come with me.”

 

They didn’t look back. In fact, they quickly left their moms behind sitting speechless in their balcony seats, as they quickly and excitedly made their way upfront.

 

In the book of Luke, we find Zacchaeus exhibiting the same kind of urgency (19:1-10). He wanted to see Jesus. And he wanted a front-row seat.

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Express Yourself: Authenticity with God - David

“Come to Me with your defenses down, ready to be blessed and filled with My Presence. Relax, and feel the relief of being totally open and authentic with Me. You have nothing to hide and nothing to disclose, because I know everything about you already. You can have no other relationship like this one. Take time savor its richness, basking in my golden light.”

Sarah Young

I was babysitting my dear six-month-old grand niece the other evening. She’s in that fun exploring and discovery stage. One of her discoveries of great interest that night was her voice. Noelle was trying everything from raspberries, to clucking, to high falsettos, to delighted squeals and giggles. She was telling me many stories and was quite pleased with her many sounds. And I was enjoying the “conversations” as well.

 

Later, she tried out another voice…one that let me know she was not too pleased with me and this bedtime thing. Here’s my interpretation of what she was trying to tell me, “Auntie, I have more exploring to do. Let me out of here right now! I mean, really… right now! Don’t you dare sit and enjoy that mocha latte during my distress!”

 

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No hinting around there. She expressed herself loud and clear. She wasn't afraid to cry out.

 

I have always been drawn to people who can express themselves...that's probably why David has always been one of my favorite Bible characters. Yes, the throw-the-stones-giant-killer David. And, although I love that story and its amazing lessons, what blesses me at heart-level is his expressive communication with God in the Psalms.

 

David talks to God a lot…and about almost everything.

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Words

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Well it's crazy to imagine,

Words from our lips as the arms of compassion,

Mountains crumble with every syllable.

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Balloons and God’s Goodness: Thanksgiving

Balloons and God’s Goodness: Thanksgiving

Keep your eyes open to your mercies.

The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.

—Robert Louis Stevenson 

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We Heart Matters Publishing gals care about women. Their joys. Their struggles. Their everyday, ordinary lives. We write from those very same places hoping to uplift, challenge and encourage your soul and deepen your faith.

The Heart Matters Gals

  • Julie

    Julie

    I’m turning 62 this year. 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 finishing my degree in relational communications and plan to graduate in the spring of 2020!! I am thankful I have had time 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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