Julie Miller

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We're kicking off the New Year with our sweet friend, Hannah Sorvik Fordice, who has a blog of her own called Rubble and Rescue. If you've had a tough 2017, you too may be wondering how 2018 will unfold. Praying her words will minister to your soul...

 

 

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Last New Years Eve, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table next to an unopened bottle of champagne I had planned to bring to a friend's house; in my hands was a pregnancy test with two pink lines in the viewing window. 

 

At the time, my husband was in a work rotation that included night shifts, so even though it was 3pm he was sound asleep in our bedroom. I gently shook him awake (Im fairly sure my hands were shaking so hard, I probably only had to touch his arm for the effect), and said, "good morning hun, guess what?" and handed him the test. 

 

It was a new year, a new life, a new start - everything was full of promise. My resolutions included informing our parent's of their newly minted "grandparent status", creating a birth plan, learning how to change diapers, and decorating a nursery.

 

But like most new years resolutions... it didn't quite happen how I planned. 

 

Tomorrow it will be New Years Eve again, and I can't help but look at the last year and wonder, what the hell happened? 

 

My parent's house burned down, my dad died, I miscarried our baby and had emergency surgery, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer, I quit my job to become a caregiver, had a complete mental break down, frequented the doctor for various health concerns, my niece and my uncle had open heart surgeries and seven months after her diagnosis, my mother-in-law also died. 

 

That is SO not how I thought 2017 would go. 

 

Call me crazy, but here at the turn of another year, instead of resolutions I keep having reservations. 

 

How do I believe that God has good plans in store for my life when so much bad has happened? How do I trust in the promise of an abundant life when so much has been taken away? How do I start to dream again, to open my heart again, to love again? 

 

And maybe, just maybe, you find yourself asking the same questions this year. 

“My heart’s been torn wide open, just like I feared it would be, and I have no willpower to close it back up.”
— Marie Lu, Champion
 

To be honest with you, I don't really have the answers. I wish I didn't fear the phone ringing, the fireplace crackling, or the possibility of becoming a mom again. I wish I knew how to expect good news instead of waiting for the other shoe to fall. These fears are real and I don't deny the uncertainty of life. 

 

But this I do know: living in anxiety instead of anticipation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you constantly worry, even the wondrous becomes wistful and opportunities become wasted.

 

To live in fear is to suppress a fruitful life. 

 

This year has broken me time and time again and it sure as heck wasn't what I dreamed of at the table last New Years Eve. Perhaps you know the feeling.

 

- But - 

 

Hopefully I have been formed into a better shape, pruned into a more fruitful person - and my gosh, I pray the same for you friend. 

“I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape. ”
— Emily Dickinson
 

Whatever questions you bring to the table here at the turn of the year, whatever baggage is weighing you down, I propose this resolution: 

 

To be open to love and in turn, to cast out fear. For "There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear." (John 4:18) 

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open up to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. ”
— John Lennon

We pray that you had a blessed Christmas our dear readers. And as we ring in a New Year,

that you remember this...

 

 

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The Heart Matters gals,

 

LuAnn Adams

Heidi Lee Anderson

Julie Miller

As the days countdown to Christ's birth, we Heart Matters gals thought that the best gift we could give you is some time set apart with Jesus. This quiet time experience Julie Miller has written is really the gift that Ignatius of Loyola left for us as one of his many legacies. Ignatius loved God's Word and approached it uniquely. Rather than read the word to

fill in blanks on a page, he stepped into it as if he were living the stories out.

 

So, in the words of Frederick Buechner...

 

 

We really can’t hear what the stories of the Bible are

saying until we hear them as stories about ourselves.

We have to imagine our way into them.

Frederick Buechner

 

 

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May you be blessed as you sit with the Savior today...

 

 


 

Today I invite you to imagine yourself up in the hill country near Bethlehem where only weary shepherds trod with their sheep. It’s a lonely place. Especially at night with only the stars for companions…and predators who remain hidden out of view.

 

It may take a certain amount of creativity and imagination on your part, but, you will be blessed if you allow the Spirit of the Living God to move how and where He wishes during this prayer experience. There is no right or wrong way to do this. So, set the Spirit free and breathe in what God has for you today.

 

A. To get the gist of what is happening in this passage, begin by reading through the passage slowly. It is printed at the bottom of this devotional.

 

B. It may help you to enter the story more fully by prayerfully breaking the passage down into smaller sections. Listen for the Spirits whisper to your heart. Stop wherever or whenever you feel the Savior wanting to dialogue with you further about a passage. Then, journal whatever you sense the Spirit is stirring in you.

 

If it proves helpful, you may want to use the following as a guide.

 

Take some time to sit with the following verse:

 

There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks.

 

Using all your senses describe what you might be experiencing in the deepening darkness. What might you hear, see, smell and taste throughout the long hours in silence. What senses sharpen? Jot your thoughts in a journal.

 

To keep watch all night long you must remain vigilant, attentive, alert, and focused. Hours pass slowly. How do you stay awake and observant?

 

C. Read verse 9 again.

 

It wasn’t during the busy hubbub of the day that God appeared to these ordinary shepherds. It was in the quiet stillness of the night. When is the best time for God to get your attention?

 

Only in silence is one’s heart ready to hear God’s.

Frederick Buechner

 

Imagine for a moment the sky suddenly bursting with light and the angel of the Lord appearing out of nowhere from deepest darkness. I can hardly imagine it, being a Western-minded, analytical American that I am. But, to really understand what the shepherds were feeling we must try to imagine the scene. And the startling terror.

 

Jot down any thoughts that come to mind in your journal. Has God ever jolted you awake? Has he ever startled you with a thought out of nowhere?

 

D. Read verse 10. Imagine hearing those words in first person. They still ring as true today for us as they did for the shepherds. How do these sweet words minister to your heart… to your circumstances… today?

 

E. The startling terror that had once gripped them was quickly overcome by the grip of God’s love. Read verses 11-12. Can you imagine it? It wasn’t to kings or to the high priest this announcement was made. It was to lowly shepherds. And it was into this poverty that Jesus was born. Christ, the longed-for Messiah, wasn’t born a rich prince laid in a golden cradle, but, a poor little babe lying in a manger. What impact would that have had on those shepherds? What impact does it have on you today?

 

F. Re-read verses 13-14.

 

It’s breathtaking, isn’t it? Sit with this for a moment and journal your thoughts.

 

Peace had come down to dwell with men forever. No matter the suffering, the fighting, the storms, the distress, nothing now could ever take from the lovers of God the gift of his peace.

Elizabeth Goudge

 

G. Finally, read verse 15-17 and 20. Life would never be the same for those shepherds. Oh, their existence, shepherds as they were, would remain the same, but, their hearts had been changed forever. What might the Spirit be whispering to your heart as you ponder these verses in preparation for the holidays?

 

Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus, is your time on earth filled with glory.
―Betty Smith

 


 

There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, 10 but the angel said to them, “Fear not. Do not be afraid. I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. 11 This very day in David's town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! 12 And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

13 Suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about. 16 So they hurried off and found Mary, Joseph and the baby in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the good news concerning what they had been told about this child.

20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.”

Luke 2:8-17

A Christmas Quiet Time Devotional

 

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Considering all the time we will be spending with friends and family during the holiday season,

we believe it would be beneficial to spend some quiet time with Jesus preparing our hearts for the holidays.

Sitting quietly meditating on this passage of Scripture will surely set our hearts aright.

 

  • Spend a few minutes in silence to settle your spirit.
  • Ask God to meet you here in the quietness of this moment and to speak His heart to you as you sit with Him.
  • Have a journal and pen/pencil ready to jot down any thoughts that come to you during this experience.
  • Read the passage below over once.
  • Read it again. This time slow down and listen for God’s Spirit tugging at your heart. Are there any phrases that seem to jump off the page? Jot those down.
  • Go back and read the passage one more time. This time pay attention to any words that seem to stand out to you. Take some time to sit with those words and phrases. Pull out your journal and write down anything that is moving in your spirit.
  • Take some time now to dialogue with the Savior about these things. You may want to write out what you feel God is speaking into you by inserting your name, just to make it personal.
  • Close your journal and your eyes and take some time to sit quietly enjoying God’s presence.
  • As you go, know that we will be praying that God’s Spirit fill you to overflowing and shine through you as you live His heart this holiday season.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

 

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

 

Colossians 3:12-17 The Message

Thanksgiving Thoughts to Prepare Your Heart 

 

...all which we behold
Is full of blessings...
William Wordsworth

What do you behold today? Whom do you behold?

 

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, — a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
—George Herbert

 

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O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
—William Shakespeare

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It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach.

—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

Let the poor and hungry among you come and harvest the crops that spring up in your fields. Whatever is left over, the beasts may eat. Do the same thing with your vineyards and your olive groves.

—Exodus 3:11

 

My first introduction to real poverty occurred when traveling with a friend to spend a little fun in the sun at a resort in Dominican Republic. My friend, Nancy, had tried to prepare me. But, there’s no way to prepare oneself for what I was about to see.

 

We had barely driven away from the airport and onto the road when the gravity of poverty hit me full force.

 

Scattered along the roadside were makeshift shanties made of whatever materials folks could gather. Children hung about in various stages of undress. Dirty. Big-eyed. And no doubt hungry.

 

As we continued our journey we passed beautifully manicured lawns that led to gated resorts. Palms trees waved. Coral-colored condo’s and high-rises peaked out above the palms. As well as snippets of white, sandy beaches and the sparkling, blue ocean as wide as the eye can see.

 

I tried to absorb the dichotomy. Desperate poverty just outside the gates of incredible wealth.

 

 

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When we arrived at our destination, Nancy took me on a tour of our new abode’s beautiful grounds. There were tropical flowers like the bright blue Isabel Segunda, the crazy-looking Bird of Paradise, and flaming red Delonix regia, better known as Flamboyants, that I had seen only in magazines. Not to mention pink Bougainvillea’s and bright orange Penta’s. It was breathtaking.

 

But, I was haunted.

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Our next contributor is a dear friend of Julie Miller's, Melody Martin. Mel has lived with cerebral palsy and all the struggles that a disability entails. She has endured the trauma of being hit and run over by a truck and has recently undergone two serious neck surgeries. It is through these times the Spirit has acted like an Energizer bunny and kept her going. She realizes it has been
God, the Eternal Life force within her, that has gotten her through all the hard times.

 

We know what we are, but not what we may be.”

― William Shakespeare

 

Who do I say that I am? This question is an essential question to be reckoned with throughout our lives. During the first twenty-some years of our lives one of our main tasks is to develop a sense of our identity.

 

We get a lot of input from outside sources on this topic from family, friends, coworkers, teachers and ministers… We usually end up with a sense of identity that is based on the roles that we have, what we are able to do and how we look. Look at how people introduce themselves: I’m name; I work as a job title at employer. I’m married with # of children.

 

 

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On one level we know who we are. Yet, on another level we don’t have a clue as to what we are. Some of you might be thinking, “That’s pretty easy. I’m a human being.” However, is that all we are? We could say we are energy that is vibrating at a low frequency. But, that feels too basic. We’re missing a key part of who we are.

 

In the Judeo-Christian tradition there is the belief that we are made in God’s image. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? How we answer that question will depend on how we define God and how we relate to God. For example, God as father, creator, judge, love, mystery, life force and spirit are a few of the ways I have related to God. Given this, I have identified myself throughout my life in various ways: a child of God, sinner, co-creator, beloved, mystery and spiritual being.

 

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As we continue our discussion on our Identity, we've invited our precious friend, Lisa Harrell, to add her voice from a single woman's perspective... be blessed dear readers!

 

Another single friend and I were talking recently and she recounted again her frustration about having to do everything herself.  “If I were married, someone else would at least be mowing the lawn or balancing the checkbook or getting the oil changed. Sure, I can do each of those things but it’s trying to keep up with it all while working a stressful full-time job, cooking, getting groceries, cleaning, doing laundry, working out, keeping up with friends, caring for my parents, and attempting to tend to my spiritual life and relationship with God that overwhelms me. Heaven forbid I should get sick or some other unwelcome emotional upset, relational conflict, or life event disrupts my life.  There is no one to share the load. I need a partner! I want a companion.” While it may sound strange to call this full, busy, often frazzled and overwhelmed way of living lonely, it can be excruciatingly so for a single woman – be she single by choice, a lack of choice, death, or divorce.

 

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Of course, the quick “Sunday school” answer often offered us single women (right after the placating ‘you’ll find someone’ or ‘there’s a good man out there somewhere for you’) is, “You already have a partner, it’s Jesus!” Okay, yes…but how do I experience this in regular life? I haven’t seen Jesus using spot remover in my laundry room lately nor has he surprised me by filling my tank with gas.

 

Who is Jesus to me, a sometimes lonely one who needs him so much? Who am I to him? At core, I am beloved, I am seen, I am understood, and I am sustained by him. He shares his breath with me. He hears me.  He weeps with me.  He laughs with me (though I so rarely notice it). He prays for me. He comforts and encourages me. All these things are what I need most and long for in a partner. But for lack of skin and bone presence, there are times I still feel lonely. After years of fighting, hating, being embarrassed by it, and bemoaning it, I’ve come to believe and accept that loneliness is actually my unique flavor of invitation from God, an invitation to come home to Him, to myself, to reality as it is (yep, along the way he invites me to let go of my demand for something better). And in coming home, I find that it is good, very good.

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We gals at Heart Matters would love to hear from you as we continue our discussion about our Identity.

If you'd please leave your comments - we will pray for you!

 

How do you view yourself?

How have you listened to the lies of the world?

If you are struggling with what you believe about yourself...what verses from God's love letter help you remember that you are loved?

 

 

 

LuAnn, Heidi and Julie

 

*Jo is on sabbatical...

Today you are You, that is truer than true.

There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

—Dr. Seuss

 

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

Oscar Wilde

 

I love walking through a field of wildflowers. Every season there is something new to surprise and delight me.

 

As summer shifts quietly to autumn, the wildflowers change too. Gone are the purple columbine, the yellow primrose, and the red poppies. They’ve been replaced by purple asters, and yellow goldenrod with a few straggling red cardinal flowers thrown in for good measure.

 

God has painted our world with a vast variety of flowers in every hue. Anne LaMott in her book Grace Eventually speaks of God’s creativity this way, “The meadow was a crazy jumble of flowers, giddy experiments of a Painter trying ideas out together: How about this with this? Isn’t it wiggy?”

 

If God saw fit to bless this world with such unique beauty and variety, it is only fitting that he created you and I uniquely beautiful in all our diversity.

 

In fact, David wrote Psalm 139 in awe of how intimately God made and loves us…

 

13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! 17-18How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!

 

The thing is, I didn’t always believe that. Most of my life I struggled like crazy to conform to other people’s expectations: to be thin, not chunky (as I was often called in childhood), to be stoic, and not so emotional. To be strong, and not weak. To be ambitious, not a daydreamer.

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God’s angels are watching over us.

David Jeremiah

 

Aren’t all the angels ministering spirits who are sent to serve

those who are going to inherit salvation?

Hebrew 1:14

 

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Do you believe in angels? Oh, I’m not talking about those cute little chubby cherubs that you can buy in the stores. Or even the D’Amico angels, which I collect. No. I’m talking about ministering angels that appear on earth to guard and protect us.  

Forty years ago this past August, I had an encounter with an angel...at least that’s what I believe.

It happened when I least expected it, but, when I most needed it.

I was nineteen at the time and living in the city. It was Friday and I was eagerly awaiting my work day to end. I had made plans to head north for a fun-filled weekend celebrating my eight-year-old brother. After a quick stop at my apartment to change into more comfortable clothing, I hit the road.

About halfway to my destination, my life turned upside down. Literally.

Going 60 miles-an-hour in the left lane on a major highway, my car suddenly jerked left toward the median. The tires hit the gravel and spun my car around 180° to face the oncoming traffic. The skid sent my car back into the gravel and in a blink of an eye, my car was flipping in the median over and over. 

It was surreal. The windows blew out. Glass shards flew, as did I. (There weren’t seatbelt laws back then.) The next thing I knew, I was being slammed upward onto the roof of the car, then into the passenger door, where I was left crumpled in a pile when it came to rest.

I panicked. All I wanted to do was to get out of the car. Thankfully, three young men were ready to yank the door open and we're able to catch me as I lost consciousness.

The next thing I remember I was laying on my back in the grass with grasshoppers bounding over me.

My mind whirled, my heart raced, but, my lips were dumb.

Just then a gentle-faced man leaned in close to my own. He slipped his hand in mine and whispered, “Julie, my name is Jerry _____. You’ve been in a car accident. You’ve been placed on the ground to keep you stabilized until the ambulance comes for you. Do not be afraid. I am here. Try to rest quietly.”

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A beautiful letter from a daddy to his 1st child as he heads off to school...

 

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My hands paused for an extra moment this morning; hovering over the shoes that would carry you off to Kindergarten. For a fleeting moment I thought if I waited long enough I could turn back the clock. Perhaps time would settle into stillness long enough so I could revisit all the times I've rushed you out of childhood and forgotten you are still beautifully wrapped in innocence and wonder.

 

My throat tightened the way it always does before the tears start to fall. Your feet danced back and forth with excitement, this new beginning pulsing through your body. Your sister and brother helped you with your new backpack and asked you questions you were too excited to hear. As the oldest you not only forge this path for yourself, but you also make a way for them when their time comes.

 

I felt myself slipping towards shame, replaying all the moments I've gotten it wrong, all the moments you deserved more of me, all the moments I'd wished for a do over. I could have wallowed there in the shame and guilt, but instead I received a simple gift of grace. I looked down at my hands again and remembered. I remembered how they'd received you on the day you were born. They were gentle with you and held you close. They protected you and provided for you. They comforted your hurts and pains. They tickled you until your belly was full of laughter. They did whatever they could to reassure you that you belong.

 

So my son, as you begin this new adventure take a look at your hands. Think of all they will help you create, and all they will help you do. Some of your creations will earn you gold stars and the praises of your teachers, but there is something even more important that your hands can do. They can be a gift to your classmates. Think of they way your hands could receive the lost and lonely ones. Think of how gentle your hands could be towards the hurting and the broken ones. Think of how your hands could protect the most vulnerable ones.

 

As you gave us your final hugs before skipping into your new classroom you whispered in my ear the phrase you've learned to repeat whenever we part ways, "I am good, I am loved." I smiled through the emerging tears, hopeful that you were beginning to understand that there is nothing more true about you. And so from that place you are sent out. You get to go, and dream, and play, and learn, but you also have the chance to do whatever you can to reassure your classmates that they belong. And when you start to forget what's most true about you, or you start to live too deeply into shame and guilt my hands will be gentle with you and hold you close all over again and whisper in your ear what's most true about you; "you are good, you are loved."

 

Godspeed my little adventurer. I'll be waiting at the bus stop.

As we prepare our hearts for autumn...

I thought a reprise of this old devotional I wrote might be just the ticket we need to refocus our thoughts as the blustery winds blow in.

 

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 become. The worst part of it is I cannot seem to make out God’s voice over all the confusion. I cry out to Him, but my words just echo off the walls. 

“What’s wrong with me, Lord?” I ask. “Is there some sin issue in my life that is separating us?  Is that why I am struggling so?” I lay my heart out before Him and confess my sad propensity to stumble; yet, the tumult continues. I wonder then if the enemy of my soul is behind this menacing disruption between my Savior and me; perhaps he is the one creating this disturbance in my mind. I whisper a prayer of protection and thank God that He is greater than anything the enemy can hurl at me…still the blustering continues.

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Have a blessed and rest-filled weekend dear readers!

 

LuAnn, Heidi, Jo and Julie

 

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

 

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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.

Poor Job even tried to stop his friends after their droning deluge of words and pleaded with them, “You think you are wise. But, my spirit is broken. If only you would listen carefully to my words and let this be the way you comfort me.” (12:1-2, 16:2-3, 17:1 and 21:1-2) Unfortunately, the droning continued. His friends just didn’t get it. 

Some folks never do.

Proverbs 18:2 tells us that a fool “only wants to tell others what they think.” 

That’s precisely what Job’s friends intended to do. In response to his pleas, they said things like, “I cannot keep from speaking.” Or “Listen to what I have to say.”

The minute I meet some people, I know how the conversation is going to go. No matter how hard I try with some, a whirlpool sucks us in and we swim in never-ending circles…”

Carole Mayhall 

Job’s friends desperately needed a class in Listening 101.

When we listen, really listen, we pay thoughtful attention to our friend; we hear what is being said and unsaid, in order to fully understand what’s on her heart.

But listening is hard work. Especially when our friend grows quiet. Some of us are uncomfortable, nervous even, with silence. We feel the need to fill the air with words.  

I love the quote by one of the Desert Fathers, Arsenius, who said, “I have often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent.”

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Give light and people will find the way.

—Ella Baker

 

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The sunroom 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.

 

But, the view at day’s end is equally spectacular. As the sun slowly slips out of sight, the lights of the village begin to flicker on, polka-dotting the mountains darkening silhouette with a warm glow. Dusk paints the sky in broad strokes of watercolor pinks, purples and oranges.

 

It’s a scene I rarely miss. I tuck myself into a comfy chair and breathe in the beauty of God’s unfolding majesty.

 

As nightfall descends, and with it the waning hours, one-by-one the lights of the village go out.

 

Save one.

 

A solitary light shines out against the deepening darkness from Lone Peaks starry summit.

 

From my bed, I can look out the window and gaze up at that light. It is strangely soothing to me. Like the words that Galadriel spoke to Frodo in the book, The Lord of Rings. “And for you, Frodo Baggins, I give you the light of Eärendil our most beloved star. May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out.”

 

The light atop Lone Peak is a light in dark places when all other lights go out.

 

As my thoughts begin to tumble one-upon-another in my head, I quietly slip out of bed and back into the cozy chair that I love, and give freedom to my thoughts.

 

I scribble down the first three words that spring to mind as I gaze up at Lone Peak: Protection. Direction. Comfort.

 

I stand to look out the window and scan the horizon from east to west. It may seem crazy, but, the mountains seem to all but disappear in the blackest darkness.

 

Protection.

 

I imagine a light brightly shining from the tallest peak in the region would surely be a blessed gift of protection, especially for pilots. Think of the tragedies that would occur if the light atop Lone Peak went out. Like the light on top of transmission towers and skyscrapers, the light atop Lone Peak warns pilots of impending danger and thereby safeguards against loss of life and cargo.

 

When I ponder further, an old saying whispers to my heart, “I’ll leave the light on for you.”

 

What do you think of when you hear that statement? (Besides Motel 6.) Close your eyes and think about it for a moment. When someone leaves the light on for you, what do you expect to find when you arrive?

 

We happened to arrive quite late to a friend’s house last spring, but, they didn’t just leave the light on for us, they waited up to welcome us. When someone leaves the light on for you, you expect at the very least a safe place to lay your head.

 

I pray that the light I bear will also be a beacon of protection, a safe place for people in this ever-darkening world.

 

You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all.

Matthew 5:14-16

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Tagged in: Be a light

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_0503.JPGWe Heart Matters gals are really excited to share our latest devotional with you! So, please mark your calendars! We'd love to see you!! 

 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...

 

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Love Letter from Jesus

 

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

Days feel like thousands,
Not having you close,
Thoughts that consume,
My heart yearning most.

Your scent like a rose,
A smell like no other,
That reaches to Me,
Excitement uncovers.

Soon I will come,
My arms to then hold,
And take you with Me,
The place we'll call home.

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Tagged in: You are loved

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.

 

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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.
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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.

 

Today I turned off the television, turned away from social media, did my best to shut out all the distractions and baked bread.

 

 

 

There is something about the process of baking bread– the taking of simple ingredients like flour, water, and yeast; the working of dough in one’s hands and making something wonderful out of it– that helps to order one’s thoughts and soothe a troubled soul.

 

 

Our lives require more silence than we’re typically given. When I was younger I avoided silence at all costs. Now I find myself seeking out the few moments I can get.

 

The resting of the dough reminds me to take time for silence, for reflection, for prayer.

 

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