LuAnn Adams

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A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

—Proverbs 16:28

 

Recently I watched gossip about two people sweep through a group of friends.

 

It reminded me of the tornado that passed through our town a month ago. In the tornado’s wake I observed mangled tree limbs hanging precariously from tree trunks, yards littered with leaves and branches; thick roots from stately old trees and surrounding ground uprooted, laying on their side like opened lids on cans; medium-sized trees lay in power line hammocks, docks’ metal twisted like candy canes, pontoons doing back floats and torn-up roofs were letting heaven’s tears fall into its rooms unprotected.

 

The gossip tornado left behind destruction in its path also: distrust, loss of friendships, disappointment, anxiety, and anger. It was just as mangled a scene.

 

I even got swept up into the wind’s current for a moment. I thought the person speaking to me was doing so out of deep concern and love for another. Thankfully, some choice words revealed a deeper motive of self-interest that woke me up and gave me the insight to turn the conversation around and then leave the starting storm before I was swept up in it.

 

Unfortunately, this person just went on to the next person and then the next, and the next, and soon a tornado was in full force.

 

Words have no wings but they can fly a thousand miles.Korean saying

 

Words have the ability to speak life...or death. 

 

Gossip damages not only the person who it is directed at, but it damages our spirit when we get involved in it. We are shading someone’s view of someone else without that person’s say or explanation. And I think deep down we know this is wrong. We are grieving Holy Spirit residing in us when we use our tongue this way.

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When the hope of heaven fills your thoughts, the Light of My Presence envelops you. Though heaven is future, it is also present tense. As you walk in the Light with Me, you have one foot on earth and one foot in heaven.

 Sarah Young

 

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

 

The sun was finally out, the lake wasn’t busy yet, and I didn’t have anywhere to be. So I enthusiastically ran to the boathouse and grabbed my white and aqua paddleboard. It was a recent purchase, and I had only been out a couple of times.

 

I made my way out onto our dock with the paddle in one hand and the board precariously under my arm, the nose occasionally shifting forward and hitting the steel deck sending out a resounding “boom,” (so much for trying to be a discreet rookie). I carefully lowered the board into shallow waters and made sure to follow my instructor’s directions of starting out on my knees for two minutes until I got my sea legs.

 

We had bought a tippy paddleboard as they go faster and my daughter and I like speed. The water was a little rougher than the other times, but I adjusted pretty quickly. Soon I was sailing along enjoying the sunshine, yelling out to nearby fishermen if I paddled over a school of fish to let them know the hot spots they were missing. I happily watched the ducks and the loons keeping me company. I admired the variety of houses and trees along the shores.

 

Yes, I was paddling right along, happy as a puppy with a ball, with the sunshine burning down on me.

 

At some point, the fact that it was really windy hit me. I decided it would be wise to turn around as I had already gone a good distance.

 

That’s when I started to realize I might be in trouble. Turning the paddleboard around, which I had found incredibly easy before, was not working. At all. Anything I tried. Eventually I was able to maneuver back around by making a very large circle with just minor adjustments.

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by McKayla Adams

 

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. 

—Romans 13:14a

 

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

 

The brutal and lengthy stretches of the bitter cold season make the bulky jackets, tightly wrapped scarves, and thick hats an adapted attire.

 

As a resident to a state with seemingly endless winters, I’ve become more than accustomed to piling on layer over layer.

 

I’m familiar with dressing myself in other forms of layers as well, but these layers do more harm than good, and I have a feeling I’m not alone.

 

I think we often dress ourselves in layers to hide our insecurities, our doubts; to cover up anxiety, depression, and pain.

 

Maybe these layers—coverings of sorts—have even turned into bitterness, hostility or pride as a defense mechanism to protect our fragile hearts from the hurt. An outer garment of smiles and laughter to cover up the hole of emptiness we don’t want gaping through, exposing the truth.

 

We layer our outside world as well: the outer surroundings of social events, gatherings, and parties to mask the loneliness that is a constant shadow lurking behind.

 

So many coverings, layers, and masks dress our external existence—to convince the crowds that we’re content. But even more so, these layers that we dress up in everyday are to convince ourselves. Maybe if we have it together on the outside, then we can have it together on the inside too. Maybe we can convince ourselves that the brokenness, pain, and emptiness aren’t really there.

 

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

 —Eccleaiastes 3:1

 

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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.

 

Then, I found her in the backyard, “clothed” only in mud from head to toe, running and jumping around like a puppy who had drunk a full can of Red Bull.

 

At my husband’s out-of-town championship softball tournament, she again found a puddle. No surprise, she was covered head to toe in mud with no change of clothes in tow. (Yes, she and mud had a strong affinity from the start.)

 

One time when we were shopping, I turned to grab something off the shelf; when I went to put it in the cart, I was horrified to find it empty. I panicked and started racing around, looking like a crazy woman I’m sure, searching for my little escape artist. I found her a couple aisles away chatting with a stranger, having the time of her life.

 

Then there was the time I was working with my daughter playing by my side, but, the next thing I knew I heard a concerto of sorts on a piano down the hall. I quickly turned to see that she had indeed disappeared. I ran to find my daughter stomping up and down the piano keys, precariously hanging onto the ledge; she was just learning to walk!

 

The times are just too many count. Like when I found her completely emptying my kitchen cupboards. Or sliding down a slide head-first.

 

My daughter kept me hopping. And then some... Can anyone relate?

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Tagged in: joy motherhood peace

  

'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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One of my favorite people to visit when I was a young girl was my great-grandma, Anna Johnson. With her loud flower dresses, large-beaded necklaces, fancy hats, and solid build, she could have been quite intimidating. But with her frequent giggle and her busy hands sewing yet one more outfit for my dolls, she was anything but. And you knew every visit, you’d be greeted with encouragement to open the bottom doors of her homemade wood pantry to dig out a homemade cookie from one of her many large glass jars. (Even if she knew your parents wouldn’t necessarily approve because it was right before dinner.)

 

By the time I knew my great-grandma, she had settled into retirement in a small, second-story flat above our Main Street stores. A handy place to visit almost any time.

 

There was one time each year the street below my grandmother's place became quite loud: Crazy 8 Days. Held each summer, I loved Crazy 8 Days! The stores on Main Street would set their merchandise outside at a steep discount. It was a good time for my mom to stock up--with my help of course--and it was one of the few times our streets were buzzing alive with activity.

 

But, my first experience alone at this event was a little embarrassing, I have to say.

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Tagged in: Freedom salvation

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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.

 

March is crazy busy for airline staff. Families are flying away from the cold, after-school activities, and homework to make memories in the sun. College students are putting even more distance between them and their parents with their newfound independence, while giving their brains a break from the workout the profs demand. And then there are all the charter flights for the March madness basketball teams.

 

Combine a busy flight schedule with a gal that goes full-speed ahead, sometimes ignoring the details, and it was bound to happen.

 

The plane had just landed from a flight from Minneapolis. My daughter, a flight attendant, joyfully welcomed the travel-weary passengers to their new destination. “Welcome to Florida everyone!”

 

…Only, she was met with stares, surprise and confusion instead of the smiles she was expecting.

 

Another stewardess hissed to her under her breath.

 

“Oh,” she corrected. “I mean, welcome to California!”

 

She looked back at the other flight attendants sheepishly. “Well that explains the mountains… When I heard we were going to Palm Springs, I just assumed Florida!”

 

Have you ever had that happen? 

 

You were planning on going here, but you end up there.

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Tagged in: Eternal life

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.

— Francis Chan

 

 

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The sun was especially hot. As he reached for another heavy board, sweat dripped onto his dirty hand, creating a miniscule, muddy stream. Without thought, he wiped his brow, leaving a muddy trail onto his forehead. Then he straightened his back slowly, like a morning glory unfurling in the early hours, and he went back to the task at hand.

 

Board. Nail. Pound.

 

It was of no surprise when he began to hear the cacophony of cackles and derisive chuckles, increasing in volume after several more heartbeats as the sun increased its power. Especially on a day like today; hot days like this brought them out in full force.

 

There were the usual. The voices that enjoyed hearing their own rise above on a strong, conceited current and riling up the encircling crowd, like a mother with her chicks that followed blindly, although not to such a nurturing leader.

 

“Hey Noah!” He heard the familiar voice.

 

Board. Nail. Pound.

 

“Your feet are looking particularly dusty on this fine day. How interesting… Shouldn’t you be standing in mud by now?... Oh wait…” He shaded his eyes as he strained his head forward in exaggeration, focusing his eyes towards the distant horizon. His arm catapulted towards the sky, his finger pointing. “Is that a raincloud forming in the distance?... Look everyone, a cloud!”

 

The crowds’ eyes followed. The voice continued. “Maybe today will be the day our fine friend gets his much-needed rain! We might actually get…an inch, or maybe two! Just enough for the bottom board of your boat to get wet, Noah. How about that? What do you say, Noah?... Why so quiet?”

 

The laughter followed. More mocking. More heckling.

 

Noah reached down.

 

Board. Nail. Pound.

 

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Written by McKayla Adams

 

Not all who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

…but, maybe a lot of us are….

 

The “Not all who wander are lost” quote from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series has become a quote that is hard to escape. It's plastered across posters, photos, jewelry and journals. In fact, my mom bought for me an engraved necklace with the very quote.

 

The definition of “wander” according to dictionary.com is “to ramble without a finite purpose or objective—to go aimlessly or to stray.”

 

But, why would we wander in the first place?

 

For a lot of us, this quote stirs in us a desire to travel…to wander away from our routines and sameness. To discover newness. This can be an amazing thing! Stirring away from our comfort zone, growing in new experiences, or even leading to journeys of self-discovery and deeper faith.

 

Some of us, in fact, just love to wander. I am one of them. I am constantly in search of a new adventure. I’m sure that’s why mom thought of me when she saw this necklace.

 

Although wandering can be a journey of growth and discovery, I fear that sometimes the desire to wander can come from an unhealthy motivation of a broken state; that the desire to wander is aroused from a physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual discontentment.

 

Maybe we are even unknowingly trying to wander away from a painful storm we are in the center of. I know this first-hand.

 

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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.

 

As I was opening my latest envelope—from a charity I had never heard of—I perused the enclosed gifts; the Christmas address labels went into the trash—my name has been misspelled for years with a small “a” and I just couldn’t do it again. Then my eyes landed on the Christmas gift labels. I might keep those.

 

My relationship with labels, though, has become rather intense lately.

 

There are some labels I just love. I thrive on order, and anything that helps me achieve that is comparable to Sony and Cher (yes, I know they broke up later, but I’m still in denial).

 

Labels help my life run more efficiently. They let me know what I and my family and friends can find in certain bins without digging. Labels tell me what package goes to which special person. They tell me what ingredients and nutrition are in a bag or can. They tell me how I can most effectively wash each item of clothing.

 

There is another type of label, though, that I am disliking the more I get acquainted with it... And those are labels we place on people.

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Well it's crazy to imagine,

Words from our lips as the arms of compassion,

Mountains crumble with every syllable.

Hope can live or die.

So speak Life, speak Life.

To the deadest darkest night...

 –  Speak Life, TobyMac

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“Mouth.” That is one of my husband’s nicknames for me. My guess is when he calls me that, he is not being complimentary.

 

Once when he called me that I quickly retorted, “If you only saw the many thoughts floating in my head that never make it out my mouth, you would hand me an award!” 

  

Another time when he called me that I told him to stop giving me so much material.

 

Those statements probably didn’t do much to assuage his justification for the nickname.

 

Growing up in a family where sarcasm heavily permeated the air, I know the linger of it on my tongue can tire my husband at times, and rightly so.

 

The other day I was surprised when I overheard on the radio that we speak enough words in a month to fill a book the size of War and Peace.

 

In doing a little digging, I found that a study by the University of Maryland's College of Medicine several years ago found that on average, women speak about 20,000 words per day. Considering that the word count for War and Peace is 587,287 words, we do indeed speak enough words each month to fill the pages of one of the largest novels ever written!

 

So the question I pondered is, “What kind of book am I 'writing' each month?” 

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Keep your eyes open to your mercies.

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

— Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Blue, yellow, and red lay by her dirty, worn plate resting on the table, like a fallen, broken rainbow. These were her treasures. She guarded her treasures with pure delight, showing them to me with her sunshine smile.

 

We were in Verbo Sur, Nicaragua. Our team had just finished a balloon game with the nearly-forgotten, crumpled-up balloons I had grabbed on a whim out of the back of a drawer and thrown precariously in my suitcase.  

 

After the child laughter was dying on the wind from games completed, I picked up the leftover latex off the floor from the popped balloons and threw them in the garbage with the rest of the trash…only to see them emerge later by my little friend’s plate. 

 

Treasures. Thankfulness. Small strips of dirty, ripped latex became vibrant colors that could expand and contract with manipulations of small hands—all through the adjustment of the lens we see out of.

 

In a nearby village, where our other team was working, an elderly woman grabbed a discarded Target bag out of the trash and kissed it.

 

Treasures… Thankfulness…

 

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp states,

 

“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring the fullest Light to all the world….”

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TheLordyour God is with you;
    the mighty One will save you
and he will take joyful delight in you.

Zephaniah 3:17

 

“I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation

and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.”

Isaiah 61:10a

 

Lists. I love lists. I’m borderline obsessed with them. Checking off items on my list is pure magnificence. A half check means I’m about half way done with the task. I will even add an item I’ve accomplished that wasn’t on the list, just so I can check it off.

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Some of you are saying, “Wow” with wide-open eyes shaking your head, and you are writing down the name of a good therapist to send my way. But I know I have some fellow mates out there who are nodding, saying, “Yes! That’s me!”

I also have the gift of hostessing. I love to wait on people. This is mostly a good thing, but not always. I have actually offended other hostesses by waiting on their guests more than they are. Thankfully, most of my friends love me enough to extend grace when I overstep and just laugh at me and tell me to just stop and relax.

That’s probably why, out of all the women in the Bible, I relate to Martha the most.

I figure when I get to heaven, her and I will meet up quickly. If one of the holy hosts spills his or her beverage, Martha and I will collide on our way running full-speed ahead to get the paper towels to wipe it up.

Then again, maybe there won’t be spills in heaven.

But, hopefully by then Martha and I will have learned to put these gifts in their proper place and thus glorify God and truly help others in most meaningful ways (John 15:8; Romans).

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Tagged in: Lists Versus Listening

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Psalm 105:4 and 1st Chronicles 16:11

 

My legs were sticking to the bleachers as I watched people file into our high school gymnasium. I was eight years old and had come with my parents to see the traveling evangelist. Back in the day, before internet and cable, most anyone coming into our small town was quite an event and the buzz of the town.

 

Although I was excited to be there, I was clueless to the fact that this balmy summer day would change the trajectory of my life forever.

 

The preacher, along with his wife and daughters who were all dressed in long flowing brightly-colored dresses and a young lad in a vest and cowboy boots, took the stage.

 

Through the music and the energized preaching, I heard for the first time how God loved me so much he sent his only son to come to earth and live an incredibly trial-filled life and die a violent death to pay the penalty for my sin.

 

At the end, those who wanted to ask God to come into their life and begin seeking his guidance and learn his ways were asked to come to the front near the stage to speak with someone and pray.

 

My dad, who had never heard this message before either, looked down at me: “Do you want to go up with me?”

 

“Yes!” I exclaimed as his robust, rough farmer’s hand enveloped mine, and we made our way to the front along with many others.

 

I met Jesus that day, and I was never the same.

 

At a very early age, I remember sitting outside and lifting my head toward the skies and speaking to a God I didn’t yet know, but sensed was there. I remember asking Him who He was and who I was...asking what this life is all about. Now I had the beginning of my answer.

 

In the New Testament book of Luke we find Anna seeking the face of God. She was one of the first to meet and recognize the Savior of the world. And when she met him face-to-face, she was never the same.

 

 Anna, Zacharias, Elizabeth and Baby

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Then deem it not an idle thing

A pleasant word to speak;

The face you wear, the thought you bring

A heart may heal or break. - J. G. Whittier

 

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“You wouldn’t run into this if you would just preorder online!” he snapped as he walked away in irritation.

 

I was speechless. This was not the first time he had been rude.

 

“How does he keep his job?” I wondered. And I thought, “I definitely will not preorder. I’ll order however I want to order, thank you sir.”

 

I thought about calling the company he worked for to complain.

 

Instead…God gave me another idea. He whispered a reminder that I didn’t know his story. “In fact,” I began to wonder, “what is he still doing even working at his age?” And for once I listened to how He wanted me to handle this.

 

Over the next several months, I smiled at him; I expressed thankfulness and appreciation. I made sure the dogs didn’t bother him (he found my welcoming committee as irritating as me!). I started preordering, which helped his delivery route go quicker.

 

I started getting smiles back.

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Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.

Mark Twain

Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us.

Jerry Bridges

Trust.

Such a small word…such a hard word.

We say we trust God.

But, we often don’t.

It’s revealed by what we say and how we act.

It’s revealed by how we swim around, round and round, in our worry.

I hear the lack of trust often, many times from my own mouth.

“I trust God, but….”

As if our “buts” are too big for God.

I was with a friend the other day who was stewing once more about whom her oldest son was dating; she was a nice Christian girl, but she didn’t think she was good for him. I had been hearing about this for a long time.

“You’ve been praying about it, right?” I asked again.

“Yes, but….”

“Your son is a strong Christian who has been praying about it as well, right?”

“Yes, but…”

“You’ve had conversations about your concerns, right?

“Yes, but….”

“And God loves your son more than you do, right?”

“Yes.”

“Time to let it go, and to leave it with Him. Keep praying about it. Trust that God has this.”

But we keep hanging on to it. We stew over it.

I do the same. Especially when it comes to my kids. When I see them in a battle—whether that is emotional, mental, physical/health or spiritual—I want to go in and grab their shield and fight it for them. I want to solve it for them. I want the battle to go away. Now.

And when I know I can’t remove the battle or fight it, I tend to think about it incessantly. I can worry and worry and then worry some more. I sputter and splatter, splashing around in my own worry stew.

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But, what if God has other plans? What if the battle is needed for my child to learn something that will make him more like Christ? What if there is much more going on than I can see or figure out?

And who does the incessant thinking and worry benefit? …No one.

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Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5, 42:11, and 43:5

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.”

Psalm 69:30

 

Women of Faith conferences. I have attended many through the years. Unfortunately, I do not have the best memory so I remember very little from them. There is, thankfully, one thing I still do remember.

And it has been life-changing.

It was from a dear woman named Thelma Wells. She was telling a story about how her kids, once they were out on their own, would sometimes call her in a panic. “Mom! You cannot believe this!!!...”

One day her daughter called in just such a manner.

Thelma said, “I let her go on for several minutes ranting about the latest distress. Finally, when she took a breath to come up for air, I calmly said, ‘Honey, I love you. I want you to hang up the phone and praise God for at least 15 minutes, and then call me back.’”

Her daughter called back later completely at peace.

She started to say this whenever she got such a call. The calls became less frequent. And when they did call back, they had much more peace and sometimes even a complete 100-degree turnaround!

When we praise God, we may think we are doing it for His benefit. And He more than deserves it (Psalm 47:7). And He enjoys the praise of His people!

But interestingly, we benefit as well!

At moments when we feel overwhelmed with the burdens of this life—when we watch loved ones go through intense struggles and trouble, when we watch those we love make poor choices, when we feel defeated by our own struggles or sickness, when we watch Hollywood continue to increase their promotion of sin and darkness, when we watch the world war for reasons of self-interest….praise Him!

Praising Him reminds us...

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