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Encouragement

Preparing our Hearts for Him

Did you know that two days ago, we stepped right from a pink-and-red, candy-coated Valentine’s Day into a brand-new church season? We crossed off the calendar and began Lent, the 40-day season that leads us straight into Easter glory. During this somber season, many churches pack up their alleluias and save them for Easter Sunday as we remember the Passion of our Christ, His journey to the cross, and the 40 days He spent in the desert (which you can read all about in Matthew 4.) Often during Lent, people will include some kind of meaningful spiritual discipline, either adding […]

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For All the People Who’ve Lost Socks, Sanity, or Faith

At first, the story I’m going to tell you will sound like a sad story, a hard story. This story has been both of those things: sad and hard. But like most good stories, there have been surprises along the way, and that’s where the story gets good. Can I tell you more? If you read my blog or follow me on social media, you know that my family has been trudging through a season of hard lately. Dad underwent a leg amputation, and because of complications, he is still in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, my mom was hospitalized on Christmas […]

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Planning for a Winning Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is next week, a holiday just as likely to cause disappointment as celebration. Watch your Facebook feed on February 14 and you’re sure to see a variety of responses. I’ve mulled this over — because honestly, I’d like to offer up something that helps — and I wonder if our expectations are a big part of the problem, whether married or single, dating or unattached. These expectations, both spoken and silent, create an insane amount of pressure to do Valentine’s Day right. I’ve read that while women want a meal at home, men plan on taking them out […]

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Let Go of Your Plan and Hold Onto God’s Loving Hand

When I drew some simple flowers one morning and I wanted to share it with my friends online in my Whispers of Rest Book Club, a critical voice said,”This is child’s play. Please don’t embarrass yourself. Other artists will be like ‘pfft, please.'” But then I turned to Jesus, and I saw his gentle smile. And then I breathed. And I decided to share this moment with you. I hope it encourages you to be bold and be you. Don’t listen to the critical voices. Hear instead your loving Savior whisper — You are beautiful and beloved. And you are cherished, valued, […]

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Together… We Got This

Christmas was a long time ago. Not only that, but this new year is well under way. Calendars have been flipped and planner pages have been turned and now we are into February. I don’t know about you, but my January felt like it was about 247 days long. It was a little overwhelming and it brought change into our lives. Good change, but change nonetheless. Also it was really cold. I live in Minnesota, so when I say ‘really cold’, I mean like subzero cold. Cold. January got off to a good enough start. I didn’t make resolutions that […]

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Recommended Reads: Finding Hope in the Pattern of Seasons

 As I write this, it’s cold outside, as it should be, because it’s winter and cold is what winter brings. We don’t question this is as it should be, because there are patterns ingrained into our world: the sun rises in the east, it crawls toward its height by midday, and it sets in the west. The tides go in and go out. Our bodies, just the same, are made to fall into sleep and rise again. As there are patterns for our days, there are also ingrained patterns for our seasons. Summer gives way to fall and fall gives […]

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When You’re Afraid You’ll Never Be Out of the Woods

Last year (or was it two years ago? Now that we’ve entered a new year, I can’t keep my 20-teens straight.) my church read through the Bible chronologically. As we traveled through the desert with the Israelites and watched them make the same mistakes, over and over and over, I wondered if maybe we’re all programmed to repeat history. I wondered if getting stuck in a crazy cycle is inevitable, if it’s possible to avoid the experience of looking at a hard situation and realizing that you’ve been there before, that it’s not as new or surprising as you intitially […]

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Recommended Reads: Get Out of the Middle of the Road

In my mid-twenties, I had the opportunity to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, and to this day I count that experience as one of my favorite adventures of all time. My ride went exactly according to plan — a few miles along the coastline, a steep uphill climb leading to the bridge, a cruise across the bridge overlooking the bay, and a smooth downhill sail to the quaint town of Sausalito, where I ate lunch, rested, and then headed back across the bay by ferry. Perfect. Almost a decade later, I relived that San Francisco adventure with my daughter […]

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Happy First Birthday, Craving Connection!

One year ago, we released our very first book. One year ago, Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-life Engagement was launched into the world, landing on bookstore shelves and family rooms and in book clubs and women’s church circles. You shared your excitement with us (and we had SO MUCH FUN celebrating together!): We recognized that we all long for meaningful relationships, the Colossians 3:14 kind that fulfills our desire for unity and connection with God, our friends, and our community. We asked together, “Where do we start?” And we responded that Craving Connection is a journey with (in)courage writers sharing real-life stories, […]

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Loving Those Who Hate Us

Our heads bowed, our eyes closed. One final prayer and then the singing school our family attends each summer would come to an end. But I was startled by the minister’s words. After all, I’d never heard the phrase “hate my guts” used in prayer, much less in one at such a large, public assembly. “Lord help me to love those who hate me, who hate my guts.” Are there people who hate me? Who hate my guts? I would be naive to think otherwise. Make the wrong comment or express the wrong opinion on Facebook if you have any […]

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