Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts

by Elizabeth Sandman

We love because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19

This verse has been hanging on our art wall in our dining room since Valentine's Day. My son, Noah, came home from school with a large, roughly cut out pink heart decorated with confetti and this verse glued crookedly in the middle. To an outsider this heart may appear insignificant or as trash, but to me it means more than I can describe with words. I have had this verse memorized since I was a little girl in Sunday school (so almost 25 years ago!), but for some reason when my son came home that day with this heart I began to tear up and was overwhelmed with emotions of both thankfulness and conviction.

God on a Post-It®™

God on a Post-It®™

by Ann Woelfel

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

It’s a whirlwind time of year in our household.  We often refer to it as our “celebration season.” Between May 1 and July 20, all six members of our family (dog included!) have a birthday.  My husband and I also celebrate our wedding anniversary, and we have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Not to mention other special days for our loved ones and holidays during that time. These occasions make for the best time of year for our family!  They are also some of the most challenging.   

The Greening Power of God

The Greening Power of God

by Maria Wilson

It was January and I was looking ahead to a new year and pondering what God would have for me in 2019. I had been reading books about sisters in Christ who lived long ago and how they nurtured their faith. I discovered Hildegard of Bingen who lived in the twelfth century. She had grown up with wealth and privilege but chose to live a life of poverty in service to others. She wrote music and poetry but spent a majority of her time caring for the poor and sick. She studied herbs and plants to treat illnesses.

An Empty Nest

An Empty Nest

by Penny Van Wyhe

Empty Nest Syndrome is defined as a transitional period in life that highlights loneliness and loss. It is a real phenomenon and one that I have been feeling lately, wondering if anyone else is experiencing it.  It’s definitely a loss when one has protected and nurtured a young one only to have them “leave the nest”.  

Good Gifts

Good Gifts

by Mike Kasdorf

Less than two weeks ago I was sitting on the sideline of my daughter's final spring soccer game. Between cheers and game-related commentary, the parents were discussing summer plans, sharing parenting insights, and taking turns to manage a couple of toddlers. The older and younger siblings were on a nearby field making up silly games and sharing Gatorade. Suddenly I found myself overwhelmed by an unexpected realization: we are incredibly blessed.

More than Picking Blackberries

More than Picking Blackberries

by Diego Sanchez

“Earth's crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

One of my biggest fears is that I would be a person who plucks the blackberries. Instead, I pray that I am a person who sees the glory of God in every moment. However, I am human. As a product of this American life, trained by the culture of hurry, I can readily forget that the rhythm of rest practiced in other cultures around the world is simply better. When I first learned that European shops close down midday for multiple hours for lunch, my mouth dropped, appalled. Now, however, I wish we lived in a place that appreciated the art of slowing down and seeing that every common bush is afire with the glory of God.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

by Cora Alles

I can feel the familiar tingle in my throat and occasional chills through my arms and legs, the signs of my body fighting an oncoming sickness. I have a smaller appetite than normal and less energy. My mind does not focus as sharply, and my body feels weaker and more fragile. It is nothing serious, but an annoyance all the same. Throughout the day today, I was tempted to complain about this and let everyone know how frustrating it is to deal with these symptoms. Yet my mind also wandered to this unexpected thought: How amazing it is that our human bodies function at all!

God in Small Spaces

God in Small Spaces

by Carol Becwar

My granddaughter Gracie called me from her fort, inviting me to join her. I lifted one of the blankets and peered in. Already snuggled in, her long legs took up most of the space. With her help, I adjusted the position of the framework of furniture and pillows, enlarging the fort by about a foot in length. She invited me in again, confident that her grandma could fit. I wasn't so sure, but couldn't resist her sweet, persistent invitation to join her.

Summer Blog Series: Finding God in Unexpected Ways and Unexpected Places

Summer Blog Series:  Finding God in Unexpected Ways and Unexpected Places

by Jen Akin

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5&6

I received an unexpected phone call in the summer of 1992 from the Director of Housing at UW-Milwaukee. I would be transferring there as a junior that fall, and he had a question. “Your friend has requested to room with you, but you have not requested to room with her. What would you like to do?” To be perfectly honest, I had left the space for roommate request blank on purpose. I was fully undecided, for a myriad of reasons, as to whether it would be a good idea to room together and so had left it to someone else to decide. Clearly, that plan hadn’t worked. Caught off guard, I remember standing there debating, knowing that the question was being asked directly and I couldn’t escape the responsibility of deciding any more. I took a deep breath, decided to trust the Lord for the outcome, and said, yes, I would room with her.

Reclaiming New Life

Reclaiming New Life

by Brooke Fossell

2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

It is easy to forget that we have been given a new life when we become a Christian. After all, we still have many of the same habits, family history, problems and people in our lives. Even as someone who has been a Christian for many years, I usually stop and pause when I read this verse, inviting God to show me ways of thinking and habits that I still have that do not line up with His word and His plan for me.

Faith Renewed

Faith Renewed

Catherine Alles

Spring is a season like no other. In April and May green buds start to form on the formerly bare brown branches, the grass transforms from a tired brown to a lush green, and flowers begin to bloom. But there was that freak blizzard a few weeks ago on April 28th. It was quite horrifying to see the green buds on the trees and emerging plants covered in snow. It felt completely backwards!

All Things New

All Things New

By Brooke Fossell

I always find it easier to believe in the Resurrection in the springtime, when dead-looking trees begin turning green and perennials make their miraculous-seeming reappearance. Could it be that God designed spring to help us believe in the new life in Christ that He intends for His people? It cannot be a coincidence that Easter falls in the spring, as we celebrate the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This visual reminder of new life in nature, together with the Easter story, strongly reminds me of the reality of the new life in Christ that He offers to all who receive Him as their Savior and Lord

Called to Forgiveness

Called to Forgiveness

By Kraig Sorvick

I remember when my twin brother Karl and I were seven years old, we became angry with one another for some foolish thing that mattered then but clearly does not matter now. Seeking revenge, I laid out an inconspicuous trap for him that would, hopefully, humiliate him. I sprayed cleaning fluid all over our linoleum kitchen floor, applying a liberal amount near the top of the basement stairs because I knew my brother was in the basement. After creating the trap, I sat in the living room to watch and wait. After waiting and waiting and waiting, the door finally opened…but it wasn’t my brother.

Fully Forgiven

Fully Forgiven

by Cora Alles

What is the worst thing someone has done to you? When have you felt most justified to be angry and hold a grudge? I can think of times when I felt like it was perfectly reasonable to be bitter and upset when the other person who wronged me did not deserve a second chance. Now imagine if your siblings sold you into slavery in a foreign country and lied to your parents, claiming you were dead. You are immediately taken from a place of love and safety to a life of servitude, false accusation, and prison. If there was one man who had justification to harbor resentment, I think it would be Joseph.