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Friends and Enemies

So the new school year is coming, and you’ll soon be back . . . back with best friends and old friends. You’re sure to make new ones, too! But you might even run into some not-so-good friends or some you don’t like at all.shutterstock_9793276

Maybe you weren’t invited to that birthday party, or you heard someone talking behind your back, or maybe your best friend turned against you, and now she no longer is. If so, those things can HURT . . . and you may even feel that friends you once had are now TOTALLY your enemies.

Well, you know what? Sometimes friends hurt us on purpose and other times not. Maybe it just was a misunderstanding . . .  when what you thought happened didn’t happen at all.

Have you heard that hurt people, hurt people? . . . that those who hurt us feel hurt themselves? Maybe they feel jealous or envious, or what they thought you said is not what you said at all.

God says in Matthew 5:44 to “Love your enemies . . . and do good to those who hate you.” Wow . . . how ever can we do that?! Well, what it means is even though we may not like everyone, God still wants us to be kind. And don’t forget to check things out, as maybe a misunderstanding is all that it is!

So the next time you feel like being rude to someone or even ignoring them, too, how about just loving them, and watch what He’ll do?!

shutterstock_37296523 HeartDream Chat – Do you have any enemies? Friends who are no longer friends? How about just doing what God says and watch what He’ll do.

End-of-Summer Blues?

Have a good summer? Or maybe you’re wishing it’s not over yet. Still thinking about that family vacation at the beach or that awesome week at camp? Whatever you did, I hope you had fun.shutterstock_78472801

Now with the new school year, are you ready to dive in? For some, you’ve already started.

But if you’ve found you’re not quite in that place, know that even though change may not always be fun, we’re all in this together . . . It’s just a part of life.

What’s cool is our memories and how God gave them to us . . . a place we can go, like it happened yesterday. And even though we can go there whenever we’d like, just know there are more memories to make and greater adventures ahead.

Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I make all things new.”

So how about envisioning this upcoming season? What are those dreams and desires in your heart? And once you can name them, remember it’s God who put them there.

So just go about your way and trust Him to bring them to pass, and I bet that’ll soon end those end-of-summer blues . . .

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HeartDream Chat – What’s your most awesome summer memory? What dreams do you have for this new season ahead?

What Do You Hear?

Our five senses are rather amazing. God pretty much thought of everything, don’t you think? It’s easy to take them for granted, but let’s take a look at one of them, and think about all that you hear. What do you listen to? And what are your favorites? If you have nothing else to do right now, why don’t you even make a list . . .shutterstock_67125739

Maybe it’s chirping crickets or the howling wind or some other late night sound on that camping trip you went on with your family this summer. Or how about the crunching as you’re munching raw vegies or popcorn or some kind of tasty chips? Or maybe it’s listening to favorite tunes with your friends . . .

Some sounds are loud, some soft, some you might love, some others you might love not! But whatever they are it’s quite truly amazing when you think of all that you hear throughout the day.

But have you discovered what the most awesome thing is to hear above anything else? God’s voice. The voice of the One who created the universe and the One who created YOU! He knows everything about you and everything you’re going through, and He absolutely knows what’s best for your life. Are you listening to Him? Are you hearing Him speak? If so, I’m sure you know there’s nothing like it, and you don’t ever want to stop. If not, just know He’s got something to say to you . . . all the time . . . about everything in your life. What you’re doing, where you’re going, and about those perfect plans He has for you.

John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” He speaks to us in “a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:12

So what’s He been telling you lately? If you haven’t heard, be still and expect and wait. Just know He’s got something to say . . . especially just for you.

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HeartDream Chat – What do you love to listen to? Are you also hearing from God? If so, tell a friend what He’s been telling you. I know she’d love to hear.

Summer Loves

Loving your summer? Doing what you love to do? Is it hiking to a mountaintop or in the deep woods? Spending days at the pool? Going to the family cabin or fishing at the lake?shutterstock_109956671

Whatever it is, remember that God loves you and wants you enjoying your life. He wants you doing what you love and trying new things, too . . . having new adventures . . . making new discoveries. And why is that? Because He’s the God of all creation, the God of adventure and fun.

So how about conjuring up a list of things you’ve never done . . . some things you’d like to try . . . like finding a cozy spot and writing a fun story or song, or inviting the new girl down the street on a picnic with your friends, or hiking a new mountaintop, exploring somewhere new. Then grab a friend and celebrate in God’s creation doing those things you love . . . those things that make you, YOU! Then remember to thank and praise Him for the life He’s given you!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

shutterstock_80556304HeartDream Chat – What are your summer loves? What’s a new adventure you’d like to try?

Who Do You Look Like?

Ever notice how dogs look like their owners? Doesn’t yours, too? Or if you don’t have one, think of someone who does, or look at the next person who’s walking their dog. That was once true about my cocker spaniel, Ebony, and me, because we both had curly hair. Amazing, isn’t it? And so funny, too.shutterstock_33265969

The thing is, we tend to connect more with those who are like us, with our same personalities. Wouldn’t you agree?

You’ve probably heard we become like those we hang out with. They’re a BIG influence on us just like we are with them. So it’s pretty important who we spend time with, right?

Well, it’s the exact same with Jesus. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control.” The more time we spend with Him, the more we’ll become like Him and look like Him, too. It’ll actually change our lives. And people will start seeing a difference in us and want to spend time with Him, too. It’ll be totally contagious. Now isn’t that cool?
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HeartDream Chat – How does your dog resemble you? How has Christ changed you to become more like Him?

What Are You Waiting For?

Waiting . . . we all do it. We wait for someone, or for someone to do something, or for something to happen, or for that special day that seems like forever in coming. Is it having your best friend who just moved away to come back and visit? To hear if you made the soccer or drama or dance team? Or is it waiting for that cute guy you have a crush on to even notice you? Whatever it is, it’s usually not easy and totally not fun, but just seems to be a part of life, right?shutterstock_112925209

When you think about it, if we got everything we wanted when we wanted it, it just wouldn’t seem right. And can you think of a time when something good happened after you had to wait? Like it maybe helped you grow up a bit and appreciate things more?

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Even though it’s hard to wait, remember that God’s right there with you and is working things out. And isn’t it awesome that He’s helping you and making you strong? That you’ll soar like eagles? And then when the time is right, He’ll bring about His awesome plans, and you’ll look back, knowing it was worth the wait.

So what are you waiting for? What does your heart desire? Whatever it is, just know there’s something good, really good, on the other side of that wait. And if you don’t get what you’ve asked for, just know He’s got something better . . . something greater than you could ever imagine. Remember, we’re talking about the creator of the universe here where nothing’s impossible. And while you wait, He’s making you strong, so the next time you wait, you’ll do even better. Could anything be better than that?

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HeartDream Chat – Tell us what you’re waiting for. Then come back and tell how God answered your prayer.   

Those Summer Camp Memories . . .

Church camp, growing up, was a blast. First of all, it was on an island, so how cool was that?! They’d put the fourth and fifth graders together, and we’d head up to northern Minnesota by bus on a two-hour ride for this week-long adventure. Once we’d  arrive we’d take a pontoon to the island.

I remember it all like it happened only yesterday . . .

Image courtesy of Dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • how gorgeous the island was all covered with trees
  • how the cabins were lined up along a dirt path . . . cabins one through four for the girls, five through eight for the boys
  • how we’d all claim our bunkbeds, who had the top and who had the bottom . . . I was a sleepwalker growing up so guess what I chose!
  • how our incredibly fun pastor would wake us in the morning, banging on the cabin, yelling into his megaphone
  • how we’d spruce up our cabin before breakfast, even with a vase of flowers, in hopes of winning the ‘neatest cabin’ award
  • how we’d congregate for meals, wondering whose names would be drawn for KP
  • how we’d have devotions with our counselor after breakfast . . . It made us feel so close
  • how I loved morning chapel and daily lessons about God
  • how at lunchtime the pastor would pass out mail, cracking jokes, as he’d fling it across the tables
  • how my mom would always send letters and a care package with cookies
  • how there were always cool activities in the afternoon and evenings . . . games and tug of wars and funny skits
  • how we’d take the annual hike around the island keeping watch for “Red Eye,’ the monster, who lived on the other side
  • how there was always fun stuff going on . . . I’ll never forget this mischievious kid we called ‘Twinkletoes’ . . . he was a tiny kid, sweet and funny, and had a great smile and laugh . . . you could always hear him laughing as he’d be up to something . . . So he was finally given some of his own medicine when someone tied him to a tree and sprayed him all over with silly soap (the very cool thing back then) . . . you’d think that would have quieted him down, but he still laughed the whole time
  • how I’d always have heartthrobs for some cute boy, wondering if he even noticed me
  • how the nightly campfires were so special as we’d sing about God’s love
  • how on the bus ride home when we’d all be tired, we weren’t allowed to nod off or else we’d get poked
  • how it always felt good to be heading home, but I’d leave feeling closer to God

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

I love pondering on memories of summer camp . . . learning more about God . . . how amidst those super fun times it always drew me closer to Him.

 summer camp 1  HeartDream Chat – What are your favorite summer camp experiences? I’d love to hear.

When You’ve Lost Something Huge . . .

Being born on this planet is pretty awesome, but sometimes life is rough. You probably heard this past week about the fire in Colorado Springs. You may have seen photos, or you maybe even saw it first-hand, like me.shutterstock_36119125

Over 1,000 firefighters, 36,000 people evacuated, 346 homes destroyed, several lives lost . . .

Devastating. That about describes it. Totally devastating. Incredible loss. Unbelievably sad.

Loss is painful. Any kind. You may be one who’s lost your home . . . to a fire, hurricane, or flood. You may have lost a loved one . . . a parent or grandparent, brother or sister, or maybe a beloved pet. Or you may feel the loss from your best friend moving away or your parents’ divorce. Whatever it is, it hurts. A lot. And maybe you wonder how you can even go on.

Just remember . . . no matter what happens, no matter what you’re going through, God loves you and is with you. And He cares about everything you’re dealing with.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” How comforting that God will never abandon or desert you, and He is always with you no matter what. He will walk with you and get you through. He will bring you peace.

So when you’ve lost something huge, cry until there are no tears left. Let Him hold you in His arms. Know that God is right there with you . . . He’ll always be there for you.

shutterstock_124875748HeartDream Chat – If you’ve lost something huge, talk with God about your pain. Pour out your heart to Him. Then listen and let Him comfort you.

A ‘God’s Girl’ Chat with Leorah

It was awesome chatting with God’s Girl* Leorah, age 15 . . . (*God’s Girls are those who are happy because God is in their life!)

Come take a look . . .                                                                 

What does it mean to become a Christian, and when did that happen in your life?shutterstock_15454783

To me, becoming a Christian means more than just going to church and praying before bed every night. It means to seriously have a relationship with Christ. To be friends with Him and to completely trust Him. I was five when I accepted Jesus into my life but it wasn’t until I was thirteen that I actually saw Him as a friend. As someone I could fully rely on and the day I was able to give Him everything was the best day in my life! I never felt as carefree or alive as I did that day.

How do you spend your quiet time with God, and what is your favorite Bible verse?

My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. It goes, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall make thy paths straight.” I love this verse so much because in my life, it has been the one that has helped me most. It is just so comforting and encouraging! As for how I spend my quiet time with God, I like writing letters to Him. I find that it is easier for me to write my thoughts and feelings down rather than word them out. And so by the end of each letter, I feel I have put more into my conversations with God than I would have if speaking, and as a result, I get more out of them.

What difference does God make in your life?

Wow! God has made so many changes in my life that it is hard to even think of them! I think the biggest change He has made though has been in me as a person. Without Him, I am afraid I would be a pretty…well, lets just say my parents have a lot to be thankful for! God has shown me my flaws and has helped me patch them up in a way I, nor anyone else, ever could. I have had many “Oh. Please. No.” moments in my life (too many I might add…) and He has turned each and every one of those dreaded moments into something GOOD. I honestly don’t know who I would be without Him.

You mentioned having 13 foster siblings. That’s so incredible, and what a gift I know you’ve been to them. Can you describe what it was like and the impact it had on you? Can you share any fun experiences you’ve had with them?

Being a foster sister to so many amazing foster siblings has been the best experience in my life! I won’t lie, there were times when I didn’t know if we would make it, but in the end, those hard times were what made the good times so beautiful and the whole adventure so worthwhile! I think the greatest impact foster care has had on me is that it opened my eyes and heart to all the pain in the world. I have had a first-hand look at what some have to go through, and I want to see a change. 

Moving onto a lighter topic…the list of fun experiences I have had with my foster siblings is absolutely endless! We’ve done so many fun and memorable things together. Making up these silly little plays for our parents…baking cookies…having huge pillow fights…daring each other to knock on the neighbor’s door and run away…getting caught by the neighbor…spending three days in our rooms as punishment…scheming our revenge the while…sneaking out of the house after our punishment was over with a couple dozen eggs and some – okay, okay. So some of the best memories weren’t those when we were exactly wearing halos. I’ll skip to the end and say after scandalizing the neighbor’s house, well, let’s just say the next three weeks were kind of…weedy. After weeding out the neighbor’s yard, we were forced to weed out our own and then our other neighbor’s house. You will be happy to know that this actually turned out to be a good thing though. We sincerely learned our lesson and our foster sister did too. Though we haven’t seen her since she left our place, we are still in contact with her and she says that whenever she wants to get revenge, she thinks of our weeding punishment and completely has second thoughts.

You also mentioned you love to read. That’s so great, also. What are some of your favorite books and why?

One of my all-time favorite book is “Christy” written by Catherine Marshall. The story absolutely swept me away and taught me just so many amazing lessons! I then love this series by this Christian author Jenny B. Jones called “A Katie Parker Production.” Besides the fact that Miss Jones writes in the most humorous style I have ever read before, I absolutely adored the characters in this series. They all reminded me of a loved one in my life and Mad Maxine (Grandma in books) was just the funnest character ever. EVER. These are just a few books I could mention though. Currently, I am reading and loving “The River of Time” series by Lisa Tawn Bergren as well as rereading my Nancy Drew collection that consists of 87 books. (Nancy became a hero to me at the age of nine and I have been collecting her books ever since…)

What desires has God put on your heart?

I have plenty of desires in my heart but I think the biggest desire God has given me is the desire for change. I want to change so many things in this world! Mostly though, I want to see more people helping out those in need. It is so sad looking at all the pain in this world. The worst part is that due to the fact there is so much pain, so many of us have turned a blind eye to it. I want to change that.

What dreams do you have for your life?

Like practically everything else, I have a lot of dreams for my life. Ones of joy, adventure, love, etc. When everything is said and done though, my biggest wish is that I live the life God has planned for me and that I live it to the fullest extent. Because no matter what it is, I know it is His will, and His will is always best.

Leorah’s ‘Favorites’ . . .

Favorite Color – Yellow: The color of birth…light…joy…life…old fashion vanilla ice-cream. :]]

Favorite Food – Enchiladas: Mmmmm! My mouth waters just thinking of them!

Favorite Place You’ve Visited – Oregon to visit my Aunt. I still can’t believe how green it is there! At least compared to where I come from…

Favorite Song – Too. Hard. My favorite song changes practically every day. Three songs I can never get tired of though are “My Deliverer” by Rich Mullins, “Walk on Water” by Britt Nicole, and “We Live” by Superchick.

Favorite Quality in a Friend – Love: Because love is the strongest emotion in the world. Also, with love comes practically every other good quality you can think of in a person. A person who loves you will trust you. Will be kind to you. Will be honest with you. Will always be there for you. Will have your best interest always in mind. Will long and short of it all be the friend you want to have.

Fun Fact – I use to write letters to my future self when I was younger. This next birthday, I will be opening one from my six years old self….most people find this cute. The rest think I am a little too self-absorbed. Or was. Me – I think I was bossy. Seriously, my seven year old being wrote this HUGE list of things she wants me to buy ‘her’ once I get my drivers license. And get this, I HAVE to get them for her because as she came before me, she is the elder of us two and I need to respect my elders. I know…I feel so bad my parents had to deal with me!

HeartDream Chat – Thanks, Leorah, for chatting with us!  It was awesome hearing about your life! Have a comment or question for Leorah?  She’d love to hear!

Ah . . . Summer!

So school is out . . . days are getting hot . . . and now it’s time for fun! So what plans do you have for the summer? Any adventures in mind? Maybe you can’t wait to spend days at the pool, eat ice cream, or vacation with your family . . . or maybe it’s picnicking in the park, having summer sleepovers, or camping in the backyard. Any special projects in mind? . . . like photography? or scrapbooking? or learning to train your new puppy? Or maybe you can’t wait to read or journal under the shade tree in your yard . . .shutterstock_35194045

When I was little, summer was about riding my tricycle up and down the driveway, birthday parties in the backyard, and running through the sprinkler. Getting older I remember having a blast at church camp (it was even on an island!), eating homemade ice cream, and family vacations at the lake.

Ah . . . isn’t summer about being carefree and fun? You can have plans or no plans. Get up early or sleep late. You can do what you love or delve into new adventures. You can be by yourself or with loads of friends. But whatever you do, remember that God’s got adventures for you, too. He’s got amazing things that you wouldn’t come up with on your own.

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” And what does that mean? That He has cool things planned for your life that are beyond your wildest imagination! Greater than you could ever imagine! Now how awesome is that?

So how do we know what He’s planned? Just get alone with Him, and listen to His whispers. Maybe you’ll start those horse-training lessons you’ve been dying to take or getting your friends together for a weekly bike ride or maybe you’ll start a cooking club . . . yum, now that sounds fun. Or He might nudge you to help an elderly neighbor in her garden, or bake cookies for the new family down the street, or pet-sit for families on vacation. Whatever it is, you’ll have fun doing what you truly love to do. And if you’re helping someone out, your heart will feel warm when you do. Just know that God is smiling when you’re being who He created you to be. He loves it when you are happy and YOU!

So now that June is here, think of all the things you can’t wait to do. Then jump right in and have an awesome start of the summer!

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HeartDream Chat – What summer adventures can you not wait to have happen?