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    More Than Just a Day for Chocolate

    Do you happily celebrate Valentine’s Day or bitterly avoid it? In years past I revolted against this “Day of Love.” The only benefit in my opinion was the half-priced chocolate offered the following day. You might have mixed emotions the same as mine. But this year I propose a solution to transform this “Hallmark holiday” from one of stress and sadness to fellowship and friendship: Celebrate like a Mexican. Mexicans see February 14 as El día del amor y la amistad (The Day of Love and Friendship) and share cards and small gifts with close friends, family, and coworkers. Yes, much of the United States’ Valentine’s Day marketing has made…

  • Heartprints

    4 Ways to Encourage Strong Faith

      Colossians 2:4 “…I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable.”   It used to be that we could feel pretty safe about the influences in our children’s lives until they hit college age and were exposed to a more diverse culture. It seems, however, that radical views are coming into play as early as 3rd grade. And, by middle school, many church going children have decided they do not believe in God.    Some religions are more obvious in how they contradict Scripture; but, many religions have an element of truth which make them seem feasible which makes them dangerous. In fact,…

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    We Were All Foreigners

    Lady Liberty looked on as the immigration officer stamped my great-grandfather’s passport at Ellis Island. He had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from the Netherlands to New York. He ultimately settled in central Iowa. Other ancestors had immigrated before him and their reasons varied. Many simply wanted a better place to raise families. Others fled Europe to escape the atrocities of the Great World War. The Dutch immigrants built homes, planted crops, started bakeries, and established churches. Frugal, yet tidy, their gardens bloomed with tulips from their European homeland. But their lives were not without struggle or prejudice. Not everyone welcomed them. During the First World War (when the Allied…

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    A Single Girl’s Revolt Against the Day of Love

    Many cultures and countries consider a woman over the age of 30 to be an “old maid” (in Spanish: solterona). So at the age of 34, I was definitely past my prime according to many. I disliked Valentine’s Day. Too many past disappointments and brokenhearted moments meant I just tried to survive until February 15. (Para español, lea abajo.) I ignored the flowers on my female coworkers’ desks. I ignored the male coworkers’ conversations about dinner plans. I ignored the heart-shaped cookies sold at bakeries. I ignored the stuffed teddy bears and candy boxes at grocery stores. I viewed Valentine’s Day as “The-Survival-of-the-Fittest” Day and I used various tactics throughout…

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    Bloom in the Right Climate

    I grew up in Southeast Texas, where azaleas bloom in abundance. My husband has enjoyed only limited success with them here in North Texas because of harsher winters. The record snow and ice and consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures in 2011 resulted in near death to those in our yard. With sadness we replaced them with other plants that thrive here. If you find yourself struggling as a believer, consider whether you are in the right climate to bloom. Look at these factors for your present community (not just your church but your go-to friends): Do you feel free to share your sins and failures because you are given grace?…

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    Around the Table: Why Gathering Matters

      Gathering is nothing new. All throughout sacred history, women and men have been gathering around tables to celebrate, reflect, feast, and remember. From Israel’s inception the sacrificial system ushered people into God’s presence and then around a table as they often enjoyed a meal as part of their offerings and festivals. In the book of Ruth, Boaz sat around the table with his workers, inviting an unknown Moabite woman to eat of his bread. In Psalms David celebrated God’s banquet table. And in the New Testament, Jesus gathered around tables with friends and sinners, and then he instituted his memorial supper around over the Passover meal as he and…

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    Philippians and the Big Story

    For this post I’m delighted to have as my guest Dr. Lynn H. Cohick, author and Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. I require Dr. Cohick’s terrific work, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians, for students in my Role of Women in Ministry class at DTS.  Today Zondervan released her latest book, a work on Philippians in The Story of God Bible Commentary series. I'm enthusiastic about this new series because of its emphasis on narrative. Before we talk specifically about your writing on the book of Philippians, what can you tell us about this new The Story of God Bible Commentary? The commentary…

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    Spiritual Family Gatherings

    This week my husband and I are back in the Chicago area, where we both grew up. We’re enjoying a few days with his family first, and then mine. Both of us are from large families; I’m #1 of seven children, he’s #3 of six. Most of our siblings have children, and some have their own grandkids, which means a lot of people when we gather. There are no intentional, earth-shaking conversations, but important conversations happen while we’re just hanging out with each other. They’re important because they solidify our connections with each other. In our families, there’s fun too. Different kinds of fun, since our family cultures are quite…