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Live Fully!

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Welcome to Real Life. How do we live fully? “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” –James Dean “I wish I had done more for God when I could, when I was strong and healthy,” my sister Theresa told me. She was in hospice care and contemplating the day she would stand before God and give an account of her life. Rather than contemplate this day of reckoning—some unknowable date in the future—we are more often encouraged to “Carpe diem!” [1]  Life is short, tomorrow is not promised, so make the most of this day. Book the flight. Laugh out loud. Eat dessert first. Don’t just live. Live fully! The Bible actually gives similar encouragement: Redeem the time. [2] Make the most of this day. But not by squeezing in as much pleasure as possible. Rather, fill this day with God and with good. Redeem the time because this life is fleeting. It is like a morning mist that disappears when the sun rises. [3] The longer I live, the quicker the years disappear. So, live fully e

White as Snow: God's Call to Holiness

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Welcome to Real Life . What does it mean to be holy? “True holiness is not achieved by what we do, but what we allow God to do in us.” –Mark Hart As we launch a New Year, I am pondering God’s call to holiness. It’s snowing. The whiteness is blinding after days of dull, dreary rain. Watching the snow, I sense God’s Spirit saying, “I am holy. I live in blinding light. I want you to be holy as well.” God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light , whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15-16 NIV emphasis mine)   Pure. Clean. Blinding light. God is holy. I am not. In fact, I’m far from it. A great gap exists between who I am and who God is calling me to be. Yet, He doesn’t give up on me. He still wants me to be holy. It almost seems unfair. Kindness, compassion, and maybe even love seem do-able. Holiness, however, feels out of my league—like an amateur ath

Christmas: God Invades the Ordinary

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Welcome to Real Life . Today is no ordinary day! “You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute.” –Mitch Albom On an ordinary day, in an ordinary home, to an ordinary young woman, God sent a messenger. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” [1] With Gabriel’s greeting, Mary’s life was forever changed. Ordinary transformed into extraordinary! Our God delights in invading the ordinary! He chose to enter this world as a baby—just like you and me. He came to an unremarkable town. His birth was announced to working-class shepherds. He was born to a couple with no special status or importance…except in God’s eyes. I wonder why God choose Mary for this extraordinary assignment. Perhaps the answer lies in her response. For although she could not fathom how this miraculous event would occur, she told Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” And so, it was. On that starry night in Bethlehem, only a few knew the truth. This was

Thanking God for Hard Gifts

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Welcome to Real Life . What are you thankful for? “Anything that causes us to need God is a blessing!” –Nancy DeMoss Wogelmuth In America, God has blessed us with prosperity. The more we have, however, the less we seem to appreciate it. Rather than thankfulness, prosperity often breeds a sense of entitlement and discontent. We continually desire more, better, and easier. In our land of plenty, thankfulness does not come naturally. It’s a heart attitude we must intentionally nurture and develop. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV) I hope 2023 has been an incredible year for you. I hope your heart sings with gratitude as you pull up a chair to your Thanksgiving table. But if like me, 2023 had its share of challenges, let’s choose to thank God in all circumstances. Because although thankfulness doesn’t come naturally, paradoxically, it often arises after hardship. The bitter opens our eyes to a new appreciation f

Though Mountains be Shaken

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Welcome to Real Life . I’m all shook up! “I welcome change as long as nothing is altered or different than before.” –Anonymous We all go through seasons of shaking. Often when we least expect it, life changes. We want to walk the old paths. We reach for the comfort of old routines, but they are gone. Israel was shaken in the prophet Isaiah’s day. Once thriving and powerful, in their prosperity, the people rebelled against God and removed themselves from his protection. And so, he allowed first Assyria, and then Babylon to conquer them. In their turmoil, however, God never has and never will abandon his people. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10) Grand Teton Mountains This year, my mountains have been shaken. Hills have been removed. After a decade of fairly stable health battling stage 4 breast cancer, my sister Theres

In Loving Memory of My Sister!

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Welcome to Real Life . Like it or not, death is a part of real life. Theresa (Salva) Keeler September 8, 1957 - July 7, 2023 Theresa/Terre/Tess [1]  was my sister, my friend from the moment of my birth until her last breath. I don’t know how to live without a sister. I don’t want to learn. Yet, in the midst of my sadness, I am incredibly grateful God blessed me with a sister. In many ways, Terre and I were black and white. We did not look like sisters. We grew up sharing a room, and drove each other crazy with her messiness and my neatness. She was Miss Morning Sunshine. I crawled out of bed and growled. Bone deep, however, we were the same. Our foundation stones were cut from the same quarry. We were the daughters of Slovak immigrants who were fiercely proud of both their US citizenship and their Slovak heritage. Our father arrived on this continent in his thirties with little more than the clothes on his back. Our childhood was simple and carefree. My mother did not drive, so we walk

The Watchman | Ezekiel 1

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Welcome to Real Life . The news is not always good. “And gradually, though no one remembers exactly how it happened, the unthinkable becomes tolerable. And then acceptable. And then legal. And then applaudable.” –Joni Eareckson Tada [1] The year is 593 BC. While in Babylonian exile, along the banks of the Kebar River, God calls Ezekiel to be a watchman. It is not an easy position. We like to give good news. But Ezekiel was called to speak the truth; and the news was not good. Judgment was coming. The remnant of God’s people living in Jerusalem had turned away from him and turned to idolatry, violence, and immorality. They had even begun sacrificing their children—Israel’s future—in the fire to the false god Molech.  A watchman protects an entity (such as a business or city) from robbery or enemy attack. If the watchman falls asleep and the business is robbed, the watchman will be held responsible. If Ezekiel failed to deliver God’s warning, and the people died in their sins, God would