Jesus is Alive! | Luke 24

Welcome to Real Life. Jesus is alive. I spoke with him this morning.
On the first Easter Sunday . . . “What are you two talking about?” the man asked.

We’d been so deep in conversation. We didn’t notice the stranger walk up behind us.

“You must not live around here. Everyone’s talking about it,” Cleopas answered.

“About what?” the stranger asked.

“What happened to Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet—no, he was more than a prophet. He spoke with the authority of a king. He opened blind eyes, raised the dead, even quieted a storm. Tell me. Who commands the wind and it obeys? And he spoke of God as his father. The religious leaders hated that. They accused him of blasphemy, arrested, and beat him. On Friday, they crucified him.

“We’re trying to make sense of it. I mean, Jesus Christ was so powerful. Why did he let it happen? We believed in him. We thought he was the One, the Messiah. Now he’s de-ad!” Cleopas's voice cracked. He wiped away a tear.

“That’s not all,” I continued for him.…

Flee Like a Bird | Psalm 11:1

Welcome to Real Life. There have been days when I’ve felt like a bird.
“Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here.”
–Jenny Curran, Forrest Gump Alone on my porch, I sat watching a solitary sparrow perched on a wire. I was a young mom then, battling postpartum depression. I was home alone. My husband had taken our baby and toddler to a family graduation party. I normally love parties. But the thought of maintaining a semblance of normalcy was beyond me that day.

Sitting outdoors—feeling the breeze, seeing the grass, trees, and animals of God’s creation—heals my soul. It did then. It does now. That’s me, Lord, a bird alone on a wire. I told him. Somehow the image brought me comfort.

Birds are skittish creatures. Easy prey if not for their ability to vanish in an instant. My husband and I have recently become avid bird watchers. We’ve learned to keep absolutely still. Scratch your nose. They flee.
In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a …

Ministry Spotlight: Michelle Virnelson, Love INC

Welcome to Real Life. In today's Ministry Spotlight, join my conversation with . . .

Michelle Virnelson
Love INC (in the Name of Christ)
Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly,
for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
There will always be some in the land who are poor.
That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 NLT
Michelle, tell us about your position at Love in the Name of Christ.

I’m the Clearing House Coordinator as we partner with local churches to help people in crisis. Every person who calls Love INC for help eventually goes through me. We take their information and then I match them with resources to meet their need.

How do people in crisis find Love INC?

They are often referred to us by their church, or an agency like United Way or Catholic Charities, and sometimes word of mouth.

Tell us more about the ministry.

Our mission is to mobilize the Church to transform lives and communities In the …

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Welcome to Real Life. Happiness is being nominated for an award!

Why did you start blogging? To inspire. My blog is called Real Life. Some would say our work-eat-sleep-repeat existence is real life. And I guess it is, because survival is real. But I want more, don’t you? God’s planted this something more desire in our hearts.[1] Jesus came to give us an abundant life. That’s the life I’m talking ‘bout. My blog is a reminder, an invitation, an inspiration to an extraordinary Real Life in Christ.

Who is your favorite blogger? I’ve listed a few below. Most recently, the wife of a blogger friend launched her own “my life with girlie” blog about their special needs daughter. Her posts grow my heart.

What keeps you going and motivated? God gave me a passionate desire to encourage others. That’s why I write. I didn’t start writing until my late 40’s. So, my skills aint the best, and I get discouraged. Still, I love it. When I write, I enter that parallel universe where I lose all sense of time…

Grandma's Gift

Welcome to Real Life. Some gifts never stop giving.

“Peggi, can you come over?” my grandmother asked by phone. “I want to give you something.”

I was a young wife then. My grandmother, the once robust matriarch, had grown frail after a recent by-pass operation. As I entered her kitchen, I noticed a box and some newspaper on the counter. She opened a cupboard.

“Peggi, I want you to take my china,” she said. My heart sank. Her china was gorgeous. I loved it. I felt deeply honored. But accepting her gift meant closing the door of an era.

“No! Grandma, you’ll use these dishes again,” I protested, fighting to keep that door open. Oh, the culinary delights I devoured on these dishes while safe and warm in childhood’s womb. I picked up the sugar bowl. And I saw my younger self in a gaggle of siblings and cousins. We huddled around our treasure on my grandparents’ dining table in the basement. We sucked our index fingers, dipped them in the sugar bowl, and licked off the sweet crystals. Sugar…

Kneeling at the Manger (with Job) | Job 38-42

Welcome to Real Life. It’s Christmastime. So, I took Job with me to the manger.

Where are you, God?
Why are you punishing me when I did nothing wrong?

Why won't you answer me?
I just finished reading the book of Job. Through most of it, he questions God. With good reason, for God allowed Job to lose everything—children, wealth, health, respect.

Finally, in chapter thirty-eight, God speaks. He doesn't directly answer Job's queries. Instead, he throws down a few questions of his own.
Where were you when I laid earth’s foundation?Who kept the sea in its boundaries and said, “This far and no farther will you come”?Have you ever commanded morning to appear and dawn to rise in the east?Have you visited the storehouses of snow?Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?Would you condemn me to justify yourself? “I am nothing. I cover my mouth with my hand. I repent in dust and ashes,” Job replies.

My own response mirrored Job's. “I stand in awe. I am almost nothi…

Ministry Spotlight: Kamila Burgess, Building Hope in the City

Welcome to Real Life.  Today's post is the first in a new Ministry Spotlight Series. Join my conversation with . . .

Kamila Burgess, Refugee Program Assistant
Building Hope in the City

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33–34 NIV)
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your position at Building Hope in the City.

I work with refugees and immigrants. I manage The Hope Center, coordinate volunteers, and direct the Refugee Mentoring Program.

The Hope Center is a community center where we provide three levels of free ESL Classes (English as a Second Language) taught by Tri C. We also offer tutoring to those applying for U.S. citizenship. The Center is the only place that provides free childcare (nursery and preschool) so mothers can attend classes. These children have never experienced an…