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. In a blink of any eye, my car was flipping in the median over and over. 

It was a surreal moment. 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 slumped in a pile when it came to rest.

I panicked. All I wanted to do was to get out of the car. Three young men were about to yank the door open and caught 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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Do your thoughts sometimes turn destructive?

 

We can’t control every thought that comes into our minds, but we can control what we choose to do with those thoughts when they come our way. This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Donna Gibbsas she shares helpful advice as a board certified Christian counselor on how to take destructive thoughts and replace them with the truth of God’s Word.

 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo's show, or join Jo live every Friday afternoon at 12 noon on Faith Radio Network on AM 900 KTIS.

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.

“The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate.”

Isaiah 62:2

 

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What’s in a name? Brings me back to my elementary days and the homework assignment to research your own name. My deskmate already knew hers and leaned over to enlighten me that the German variant meant beautiful and, in Icelandic, meant princess. After that, boy oh boy, I couldn’t wait to learn mine. It had to be just as good, if not more wonderful!

 

Well, noble was too lame a word for a 2nd grader when it was pitted against the beautiful princess sitting to my right. And my middle name? Meadow. I couldn’t believe it. A grassy field? As if I needed an identity crisis at age 8. My face was rightfully red in utter embarrassment when I had to present my findings to the entire class the next day.

 

After that, I kind of gave up on the whole “what’s in a name” thing. That is, until recently, when I had a son to name. I belabored on google searches, skimmed every baby name book I could get my hands on, and talked with trusted family members about their opinions and ideas. I didn’t want to decide on Rudolph, Bing, or Troy just because it settled well, like I would with a dinner menu and a slab of meatloaf. I wanted meaning. I wanted SIGNIFICANCE. I knew I turned out fine with the equivalent of meadow as my name, but what if there was something more for our baby?

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Is it possible to commit to sexual purity, even in today's world? This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Abby Ludvigson on how to remain sexually pure until marriage.

 

Abby is an author, speaker, and teacher who discovered she had a deeply rooted desire to better understand the issues bombarding our young people today and a passion to be an active role model for sexual purity. In 2015, she produced a film series entitled Sex by Design and is a contributor to the book by Dr. Juli Slattery Sex and the Single Girl.

 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo's show, or join Jo live every Friday afternoon at 12 noon on Faith Radio Network on AM 900 KTIS.

As we prepare our hearts for autumn...

I thought a reprise of this old devotional I wrote might be would 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

 

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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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There’s no real way to avoid conflict in marriage.  It is possible, however, to properly resolve disagreements as they arise and actually build a stronger relationship.     

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with author and Christian psychologist Dr. David Clarke about how to best address conflict in marriage.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Dr. David Clarke. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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!! 

 

 

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It is possible for our students to stay a Christian in college today? As parents, we can help them develop a game plan to avoid the spiritual pitfalls and stand firm amidst opposition. 

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with author and radio host David Wheaton about how we can prepare our students to continue their strong faith and convictions during college and beyond. 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with David Wheaton. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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As I breathe in the last few weeks of summer, I am reminded of one truth a wise mom shared with me when I was struggling with a couple of toddlers. “The days are long," she said, “but the years go fast.” At the end of each summer, I feel the truth of this statement weighing down on me. The years have gone fast, and they show no signs of slowing.

 

I cannot help but begin counting down the summers I have with my eldest child.

Just three.

I’m forced to recognize the numbers of summers I will still be in my forties.

Only one. (Yikes!)

I’m reminded of the summers I will still have with both of my parents still living. 

Hopefully many.

 

I am a summer girl. I love the sunshine, the green grass, the lake, and lazy afternoons. I love sitting on the dock with my feet in the water. I love popsicles, watermelon, and corn on the cob. I love watching baseball outside and feeling the sand in my hair after a day at the beach. I love golf and waterskiing and watching the sail boat races from our back deck. I love time with friends and staying up late.

 

But when August hits, I feel the relaxing tide begin to turn. I start thinking about preparing for classes, my kids start practicing for fall sports and start panicking because they haven’t yet made it through their summer reading list. The sun sets a little sooner and the weather feels a bit cooler. I stop watering my hanging baskets, and I start thinking about shopping for school.

 

 

My son saw the Sunday circular out on the table with the pictures of brightly-colored school supplies and his mood shifted. He grabbed the paper, crumpled it up, and threw it into the trash can with a vengeance. “Summer is NOT OVER,” he shouted.  You know what? He was right.

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What does it really mean to not be anxious about anything? Philippians 4 claims victory over our circumstances, but sometimes true peace is still difficult to find. 

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with professor and author Dr. Heather Holleman on how she struggles with anxiety, but finds peace in knowing that Jesus is not only with her, but protecting her heart from being riddled with fear.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Heather Holleman. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

 

 

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Ever feel like throwing in the towel on this season of life? Though we may be tempted, we don’t have to quit. God will give us the strength to finish strong in every area of our lives. 

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with author and speaker Nicki Koziarz  of Proverbs 31 Ministries on how to reach out for Godly wisdom, counsel and direction, especially as seasons are changing in our lives.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Nicki Koziarz. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

 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

 

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Great leaders encourage, inspire, and challenge us, but those leadership skills must be developed. Do you have what it takes to be a great leader?

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Dr. Hans Finzel about the key success factors of influence, and the positive traits that all of us should master in oder to lead well. 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Dr. Hans Finzel. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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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On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Brian Barcelona, founder of The Jesus Club. He tells us how God is working to bring about a revival in our nation’s schools and shares how we can be a part of it.

Brian Barcelona answered the call to start ‘Jesus Clubs’ in public schools to help high school students find and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. He shares examples of how students' lives have been changed as a result of hearing the gospel message for the first time.

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo Bender's interview with Brian Barcelona. Or, join Jo live every Friday at Noon on AM 900 / 90.7 FM. Listen to previous podcasts of Connecting Faith on myfaithradio.com

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