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The Miracle of Christmas | Luke 1

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Welcome to Real Life. In the midst of this festive season, I long for the supernatural to invade my natural.  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”
—The Grinch He pulls aside the heavy curtain and silently slips inside. “Don’t hurry,” Zechariah tells himself. “Savor this. It may be the only time you enter this holy place.” His eyes survey the room, taking in the detail of resplendent gold articles, and resting on its centerpiece—the Ark of the Covenant. “Lord, you are present,” he whispers. The thought disquiets him. But then, he hears his fellow priests praying for him beyond the curtain. His courage rises. He approaches the altar and lights fresh incense. As its sweetness adorns the room, Zechariah is overcome by a sense that he is not alone. 

Zechariah serves as a priest in the Temple of the Lord. Though every priest is intimately acquainted with the building, not every priest has entered the Most Holy Place. …

Be Thankful... In All Circumstances

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Welcome to Real Life. It’s November, the month of Thanksgiving.

I was young, only married a year, when my first husband left. When I told my mother, she cradled my hands in her own and said, “Peggi, we’re supposed to thank God in all things.” Then, she prayed and thanked God.

Definitely not the reaction I expected! 
God had prepared my mother's heart. She had been reading a book on praise and thanksgiving.[1] I felt immense relief at her reaction. Even a bit hopeful. And I sure did love my mom in that moment. She taught me the power of giving thanks . . . in all circumstances.
Always be joyful.
Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NLT A thankful person is conscious of a benefit received.[2] Everything we have—life, breath, strength—are God’s gifts.[3] Let’s recognize them and be grateful.

It’s easy to give thanks for good things—sunshine, friends, weekends. Being thankful in all c…

Remain in Me | John 15

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Welcome to Real Life. Where was God today?
“Prayer is a moment of incarnation—God with us.”
–Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life “Where was God today?” Anna wondered. She'd had a busy day working as a court reporter. That evening, when our group met for Bible study, she confessed she hadn’t thought of God all day.

Remain in me. Like Anna, I have yet to learn the secret of staying vitally connected to Jesus in the midst of busy days, weeks, months. Recently, I’ve been meditating on “I am the vine, you are the branches” passages in John 15. The timing was perfect. Because it was an especially busy month. Every day, I was running out the door, praying on the road, distracted by a flurry of activities. I needed Jesus more than ever. Repeating three simple words “remain in me” helped me stay connected to my God.

. . . as I also remain in you.Jesus’ words wrap a warm, fuzzy blanket around my soul. He’s with us. Not only on the days we’re aware of his presence. He’s with us on the running-out…

The Secret Life of Church Bells

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Welcome to Real Life. Do you hear the bells?
“For bells are the voice of the church;
They have tones that touch and search the hearts of young and old.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me,” I sing out loud. Though I’m not in church. I’m walking down a street in my neighborhood. The church bell tower is ringing out a hymn as it does every evening at six. Hearing the bells takes me to my happy place.


The presence of church bells is a cool benefit of living in an old neighborhood. The church I attend meets in a newer building in the suburbs. It has a steeple sans bell tower. (Which is fine, by the way. I love my church!) But new churches don't usually have bells. Church bells seem better suited to past generations, my parents' generation. When summertime meant open windows and doors (before air conditioning closed them). Evenings on the front porch. People walked to church, the store, the ice cream parlor. And they hear…

Sin. Plain and Simple | Psalm 51

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Welcome to Real Life. Others sin. I make mistakes.
Counting other people's sins does not make you a saint.
–Anonymous What is sin? Our definition tends to change with perspective. If you wrong me. It's sin. Plain and simple. Yet, I excuse the same behavior in myself. I may have been a little rude. But I’m tired and he aggravated me.

David sinned. Plain and simple. But he didn’t see it. He saw what he wanted and took it. It didn’t matter that what he took belonged to someone else. He was king of Israel, after all—the highest authority in the land.

Except, David didn’t hold highest authority. God does. He is King of Kings. No one is above God’s law. David could deceive himself. After all I sacrificed for Israel, I deserve to get what I want. That is, until God sent his prophet Nathan. The prophet told David a story.


Two men lived in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had many sheep and cattle. The poor man had one small lamb. He raised it in his home w…

Come and Talk with Me | Psalm 27:8

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Welcome to Real Life. Let’s talk.
Communication is depositing a part of yourself in another person.
―Author Unknown
“Hi. It’s me. I’m sorry we haven’t spoken in a while,” I told him.

“I miss you. I've been calling, but you haven't answered. I’m glad you did today,” he replied. I could hear the smile in his voice.

“Really? You called? I didn’t get your messages.”

“Have you checked your messages?”

“Um . . . guess not. Sorry! I didn’t mean to ignore you. It’s just life gets crazy. Sometimes it’s hard to find time to think, much less talk.”

“I know. But you’re here now. So, let’s talk. Tell me. What’s on your heart?”
     _____

We all desire to be known and loved. This happens in the context of relationships. But relationships can be difficult. They require time, energy, and commitment. Those resources can get stretched pretty thin in our busy world. We often hurt each other—at times purposefully, other times cluelessly. We withdraw. Drift apart.

It’s true with people. It’s true w…

Ministry Spotlight: Elizabeth Englehart, Titus 2 Mentoring Women

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Welcome to Real Life! Join my conversation with Elizabeth on mentoring.

Elizabeth Englehart, Coordinator
Titus 2 Mentoring Women
Grace Church Women’s Ministry

They (older women) can urge the younger women 

to love their husbands and children,
to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home,
to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands,
so that no one will malign the word of God.

Titus 2:4–5 NIV

“I always wished I’d had a mentor.” After my youngest left for college, I began asking God, “What do you want me to do with this season of my life.” I wanted to be fruitful for God. I’m a wife of 29 years, a mother of four wonderful kids, and I have one incredible grandson. Mentoring has always been on my heart and mind. I always wished I’d had a mentor. Beth Moore became a type of mentor in that I did all her Bible studies. But I never had a formal or even organic relationship with an older woman of faith. And I really hungered for it. 
If I hungered for a mentor, I thought other women …