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    In a Culture of Never Enough, a Culture at War, “Learning” Real Contentment

    Contentment and I have a troubled history. Many reasons: physical limitations, a vivid imagination, a propensity to live in the future… In addition, our culture of More and Better torches our desires with the gasoline of glossy mags, dark theaters, Facebook vacation pictures, clothes we’ll never need for a life we’ll never live…   Election year aggravates our struggles. Each side is spending billions to cast their vision of the better life we’ll live once they are elected. Between now and November we will be subjected to an endless parade of speeches, promises, ads, polls and robocalls designed to inflate our expectations so we will vote for change. It’s all…

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    Give Thanks for a Little

    "Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot." — West African Proverb I tore those simple words out of a health and wellness magazine a year or two ago and hung them on the fridge. After a while they started to blend in, feeling ordinary just like the other papers and cards and magnets cluttered around them. I'd glance at them occasionally, but their poignancy seldom stuck with me.  The page hung that way for weeks, and even months, until I started reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts Devotional. The book’s challenge to count my blessings and daily write them down—until I reach one thousand of them in…

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    What Is Your Voice: Expert or Fellow-Traveler? 5 Tips to Communicate with More Influence

    Whether to friends and family or to an audience, whether consciously or unconsciously, we all assume a certain voice when we speak. Take this little test to find out if you are more of an expert or a fellow traveler… 1. Have you demonstrated mastery of a particular interest or passion? 2. Have you demonstrated over the long haul the ability to love well and have great relationships? Have you raised an outstanding family? 3. Have you demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit in your life out of deep devotion to prayer and God’s Word, or in the crucible of suffering? 4. Have you demonstrated mastery of a profession…

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    IF: the (mostly) under-40’s rock at their first un-conference

    The 1200-seat Austin Municipal Auditorium sold out in under an hour. So they offered live streaming to anyone with a computer. And from around the world 20,000 more registered, many of those inviting friends and even churches full of women. It was as IF the organizers had blown a giant whistle and thousands had come running…to what no one was exactly sure. Not even the organizers.   But here is my hunch: In Bird by Bird: instructions on writing and life Ann LaMott says that “Having a great narrator is like having a great friend whose company you love, whose mind you love to pick, whose running commentary totally holds…

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    Giving Thanks in a Hard Place

    My husband and I are ministering in part of the former Soviet Union while I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. She focuses on seeing and living life through the filter of eucharisteo, the Greek word for “giving thanks.” The title refers to the fact that she recorded a thousand little ways in which God revealed Himself and His goodness to her, most of which were a pleasure to receive, some of which were painful. She worked to practice gratitude, which not only built her faith but also made her aware of how deeply she was loved. This is a physically and spiritually challenging place to be, so…