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If Only: Regret and the Real Nature of Church Growth

Got regret? Today’s guest post is from my wise friend Michelle Van Loon, whose new book, If Only, focuses on the taboo topic of regret, and how in Jesus “past regrets can be transformed into present wisdom and a flourishing, free future.” Seriously. You are going to want a copy of this book.  My friend […]

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Loneliness, Community, and Loving the Common Enemy

I've been reading The Connecting Church by Randy Frazee for one of my classes. It talks about the epidemic of loneliness in the United States, the impact individualism has had on the American psyche, and how strong, cohesive groups, from the Crips to the Amish, the military to the Benedictines, create a sense of true […]

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Love Should Never Include Disclaimers: Why Christians Need to Stop Trying to “Fix” People

There was a time when I thought it was my Christian duty to point out anything I thought someone was doing wrong. I called out teachers for being too hard on other kids. If the pastor said something I disagreed with in a sermon, I informed him of it afterward. I made sure people on […]

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Mismatched Dishes and Thanksgiving: The Beauty of Imperfection

It didn’t occur to me until I saw the pictures cropping up on Facebook. Beautiful tables set with sparkling place settings. I glanced back at the picture my husband had snapped and posted. The food looked as good as it had tasted, but sure enough, our table was set with decades-old mismatched dishes. Instead of […]

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When We Are Impatient With God’s Work in Our Lives.

I read Isaiah 1 this morning. It's a powerful passage, one that is often quoted in justice-oriented circles because of it's condemnation of empty religious rituals and insistence that righteousness means helping the oppressed, defending the cause of orphans and fighting for the rights of widows. Good stuff. But, hoo boy. It's kinda dumb to […]

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“Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable”: Lament as an Act of Worship

Here’s the last post from my friend Pam on dealing with the “waves of adversity” in our lives. I am becoming an avid cyclist, some would describe me as a obsessive cyclist, but I enjoy cycling and participating in road races. It’s a newer passion and I find myself being coached and encouraged by those […]

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Are you going to live a little more or die a little bit? Joan Chittister on the spirituality of struggle.

My friend Pam and I spoke at a women’s conference in Moose Lake, MN recently, about the “waves of adversity” we all face in our lives. I’ll be posting follow-ups for the next couple weeks, so the women who were there (and anyone who wasn’t!) can continue to chew on and discuss the topic. This […]

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Stillness in the Storm

My friend Pam and I spoke at a women’s conference in Moose Lake, MN recently, about the “waves of adversity” we all face in our lives. I’ll be posting follow-ups for the next couple weeks, so the women who were there (and anyone who wasn’t!) can continue to chew on and discuss the topic. This […]

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Should Christian Women Color Their Hair? On Dissatisfaction, Cultural Conformity, and Battling the Inner Barbie

A couple weeks ago, I had about a foot of hair cut off my head. When you’re the busy mother of four, and have the sort of Hermione-meets-Rapunzel hair that you can almost watch grow, it’s easier to just twist the whole mass up on your head, secure it with industrial-strength hair accessories, and forget […]

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How Do You Preach the Gospel and Breastfeed? Adventures of a Female Evangelist

I’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post from Jessica Fick, who I met last week on Twitter and promptly fell in love with. (The fact that she happened to be in Wisconsin right then for an evangelistic crusade at UW-River Falls didn’t hurt, either–the photos in this post are from that.) Enjoy!  I pulled […]

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Faking It: Why You Should Stop Treating Your Husband Like a Toddler, and ACTUALLY Respect Him.

There’s something I’ve noticed about many popular Christian marriage books and speakers. They don’t seem to have a very high opinion of men. Oh, they think that men should be “in charge.” But often, it is implied that women should just wink and nod knowingly at one another, that although everyone knows women are the […]

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When Courage Means Picking Up a Guitar

Today, I picked up a guitar, and let my husband teach me four chords. It was a momentous occassion. You’ve got to understand. I have a HISTORY with guitars. Both of my parents play guitar. In the seventies, they had a folk rock band, and I would fall asleep (or not) to the sound of […]

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“Faithful”: My One Word for 2013

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. So I was thrilled to learn about the One Word movement last year. The idea? “Choose one word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.” My […]

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Good Christian Fears: Is Fear Crippling Your Walk With Christ?

I’ve never considered myself a fearful person. But recently, I’ve been discovering just how much my deeply-buried fears and anxieties have influenced and continued to influence my life. These aren’t conscious thoughts, or even things that I initially recognized as fear. But as I reflected on the decisions I’ve made and the things I’ve written […]

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Sexist Gender Roles or (Un)Common Courtesy? Why I Teach My Boys To Hold the Doors Open

Call me old-fashioned. But few things annoy me more than seeing an elderly couple or uncomfortable-looking pregnant woman standing in a crowded lobby while fresh-faced twenty-somethings slouch on the benches, fiddling with their iPhones. *visualize indignant mom-glare* Now, I’m hardly a stickler for manners. I don’t care if my kids put their elbows on the […]

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Picture Day Trauma

It’s picture day at my kids’ school. And picture day makes me cranky. Maybe it started when I was a kid, when our whole class was warned against playing too hard during recess for fear of getting dirty and sweaty. Maybe it’s the memory of strangers trying to comb the tangles out of my waist-length […]

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A Self-Indulgent Post About Blogging and Being Misunderstood

The blogosphere can be a bizarre place, a bubbling cauldron of controversy, rhetoric, and vitriol. Sometimes, I’m not too fond of it. I haven’t been blogging a lot lately. Yes, I’m still tired from a whirlwind summer. Yes, I needed to get the kids into their school routines. But mostly, I’ve needed to think. I’ve […]

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Running With Castles and Bishops: Would You Sacrifice Your Standards for Worldly Gain?

Today’s guest post is from Tim Fall. Enjoy! Like a good chess player he [Satan] is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop. (C.S. Lewis) ​I’ve been watching the Olympics and that means watching track and field. Olympic runners need no explanation of […]

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Friday Favorites: Chik-fil-A Edition

All week I’ve been thanking my lucky stars (and, erm, God) that I don’t live within 150 miles of the now-infamous poultry sandwich establishment, and that most of my far-North friends have no innate loyalty to the Southern chicken chain. For me, the ugly, aggravating, and to my mind incredibly stupid debate has played out […]

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Chicken Sandwiches, Christian Conquistadors, and Other Internet E.coli

After the flooding that hit my hometown, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued warnings to avoid several beaches. The sewer systems had been compromised, and high levels of E.coli bacteria were found in the water. In other words: Stay out of the water, or you’ll find yourself swimming in–well–you get the idea. That’s kind of […]

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When Children Are Treated Like Obstacles to “Real” Ministry

Well, my family survived Disneyland! I’m still vacationing in California, and still featuring some great guest posts. Today’s post is by my friend and fellow Redbud Michelle Van Loon, originally published on her blog in 2009. What does it say about our ministries when children are treated as an obstacle to be “dealt with,” when […]

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What’s a Nice Evangelical Girl Like You Doing With a Rosary Like That?

I have a confession to make. I’ve always been jealous of my Roman Catholic friend’s rosaries. Actually, it didn’t start with rosaries–it started with a Muslim friend’s prayer staff. He had come to our apartment in Liberia for dinner, and unrolled his prayer mat on our porch during the call to prayer. Afterward, he saw […]

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Why Christians Need to Break the Rules

I have a thing about “rules.” Like most individualistic Americans, I’m not a huge fan of them. But like most Good Christian Women, I’m really good at following them. Like that time they were doing road construction in West Duluth. My husband and I lived, worked, and worshipped in that neighborhood for several years. It’s […]

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Friday Favorites: Songwriter’s Secret

I haven’t had time to peruse a lot of blog posts this week. And most of the posts I did read were from bloggers I discovered through Rachel Held Evans’s #Mutuality 2012, which I featured in last week’s Friday Favorites. Part of the reason I’ve had so little time for blog-reading is that my husband […]

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How Much Money Does it Take to Be A Good Christian Woman?

When I was in my twenties, I attended a “Bible” study on how to be a Good Christian Woman. Good Christian Women, I was told, stayed home with their children. Mothers who worked outside the home were compromising, trading their morals for material gain. Good Christian Women decorated their homes with artistic flair, making a […]

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Walk With Me: Lessons Learned While Stranded in O’Hare Airport

Right now I’m sitting on a bed at the La Quinta O’Hare, foot propped up on a puffy white pillow, a small trash bag filled with ice from the vending area draped over my swollen, sprained ankle. It all started last night as I was (attempting to) catch my 10 p.m. flight home from a […]

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“You Are More Than…” Best Mother’s Day Sermon EVER!

Mother’s Day sermons are notoriously awful. Sentimental tripe that leaves some women feeling smugly self-satisfied, while others leave licking their wounds. But not this Mother’s Day sermon, given by my friend James Walsh, an associate pastor at my church. Seriously? You’ve got to love a sermon that begins with “Ladies of Mission Covenant Church, you […]

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We Are the Pharisees

Pharisees get a bad rap. I know, I know–there’s that whole “brood of vipers,” “conspiring to kill Jesus” thing. Not their brightest moments. But did you know that several of Jesus’ followers, and many, many members of the early church, were Pharisees? At the crucifixion, all but one of Jesus’ male disciples ran off–it was […]

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Taking Care of Business

Just for fun–this is some very shaky footage I took at the DeepWater JAM, our version of a “recital.” This is the song that kicked off the JAM, with some of our youngest students. The kids are 8-11 (except for the ringers on guitar and bass–and my hubby playing tambourine and directing traffic). The blondie […]

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Oppressors, Activists, and Spiritual Stinginess: St. Paul’s Guide to Praying Better Prayers

“And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.” -Philemon 1:6 I was reading Philemon this weekend, and many things stood out to me. Paul’s tone with Philemon, acknowledging Philemon’s friendship, fidelity, and good […]

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