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V Day: When roses are dead, and Romance is too...

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By Kara Ranck PC: Unsplash My mind wandered back this week to the days before I had a Valentine. My thoughts also turned to friends who are facing this holiday alone and some who are celebrating for the first time after many years of waiting. I haven't forgotten how challenging it was to face a holiday about romantic love when I had yet to share romantic love with another. It's not that I wanted to be in a relationship just so I'd have someone to celebrate the holiday with, but Valentine's highlighted what was missing in my life leading to feelings of sadness, hurt, and isolation. Then in 2011, I finally had a Valentine, and he was worth the wait. This week on our Valentine's date, we remarked how the holiday day has become less romantic over the last nine and a half years of our relationship. If we are looking for romantic love to become more outwardly extravagant with time, my guess is 99.9% of the time we'll reap disappointment. Why? The most important thing

When You Don't Measure Up

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 By Kara Ranck PC: Unsplash The shutdown in March provided the opportunity to tackle an extensive home renovation in our 1889 farmhouse. From March through June, you could find me removing wallpaper that my husband’s great-grandmother hung, scraping chipped paint off ceilings and spindles, spackling, sanding, scraping again, sanding again, and priming. By July, I was ready to paint. It’s mid-September, and we are finally done—with that project, that is. As I look around my home, I can make a long list of jobs that still remain. That’s the nature of home ownership, especially owning an old house. There is always something to improve and maintain. An update to satisfy the standard of living we desire. The list never ends; the paint keeps chipping. Our lives are a lot like our homes. We keep improving, trying to update ourselves to maintain or satisfy who we desire to be. I have spent most of my almost 34 years attempting to measure up on my own strength. Even as a professing Christ fo

Surgery of Body, and Heart: A Testimony

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By Meghan DeWalt On December 7, 2015, I came home from work in immense physical pain. My right hip was coming up out of its socket with multiple pins in it from the July surgery. A surgery meant to give me some quality of life back from 11 years living with chronic pain from hip dysplasia. I didn’t know that hip was coming undone. I didn’t know my life and faith were coming undone, only to be mended and healed again. I didn’t know that the last eleven years between diagnosis and surgery, that God was good for me . I knew in a vague sense that he was good—but that I had to trust him in the pain and not question, not doubt. And so I kept him at arms length with a shallow, tentative faith where I knew where my hope for eternity came from—but not for the present. What I did know was fear. A lot of fear in those eleven years of chronic pain. Fear that no man would ever want to marry me with such a disability. Fear of being a burden. Then with this December where my hip came apart

We Never Walk Alone

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By Guest Writer Fall of 1997 was no different than any other. I was a perfectly happy 9 year old, the oldest of three, and only girl. My dad farmed with his brother. Late nights in the field harvesting corn and milking a barn full of cows twice a day was a normal part of dairy farming. When a seemingly healthy 34 year old dairy farmer goes to see the family doctor that time of year saying he’s been having some headaches, and has been tired it’s not exactly alarming. More likely than not it’s due to pulling long hours and not enough sleep. In our small town of mostly Amish a fundraising meal at the local fire company was common, and something to look forward to—the food is amazing! My grandparents would often help serve, and because my dad volunteered with the ambulance, we would go for supper and left overs were sure to make their way into our fridge. One particular night we came home from a meal and some of my dad’s family had stopped in to eat more and just hang out. Dad a

God's Sustaining Hand

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By Missy Linkletter Trip Advisor When we were a family of seven, I dimly understood that there was no guarantee of tomorrow. But, on July 15, 2017, I saw in full the meaning of the phrase, "This life is a vapor." (James 4:14)   It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and my firstborn, Justin, and two of his buddies were taking a day trip to go to the lake. They met up at the local Cracker Barrel and enjoyed an early dinner together. Afterward, they piled into Justin's Explorer and headed out for the lake. After driving through the city, they turned onto the Apache Trail, which is known for its switchbacks and winding turns and an altogether dangerous state highway here in Arizona. As the story goes, Justin and his two friends were taking turns riding on the sideboards of his truck, one on each side. When it was Justin's to drive again, he slowly rounded a corner and then hit gravel. His two buddies jumped off of the sideboards when it was almost at a c

Walking Forward by Looking Back

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By Wendy Van Wingerden Unsplash “I surrender all … I surrender all.” Do I? Do I really surrender ALL? I wondered this as I stood singing a favorite hymn in church one Sunday. It was easy for me to consider the things in life that I could do without. My home, my possessions, my status, my talents, BUT…Oh! not my children or my husband. Those things, I could not, would not surrender. I could not imagine surviving without them. Fear of losing them strangled my inmost being, it consumed my deepest thoughts. If I surrendered them, He might take. My relationship with the Lord was growing deeper, yet something held me back. Something kept me from knowing Him fully. With each word of each song I sang, he beckoned me to him. “Blessed be your name in the land that is plentiful, where the streams of abundance flow, blessed be your name.” God, you have bountifully provided for me, I know how to praise you in abundance. “Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering, though

A Journey Worth the Struggle

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By Sonya Grace Naugle* Unsplash It was on a Sunday morning at church that I knew something was severely wrong.  As a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four children aged ten to sixteen, I had many responsibilities at church and at home—sitting on committees, attending meetings, mentoring women, managing my household, speaking to groups, coaching volleyball. I was also traveling 130 miles back and forth to care for my parents, with my mom living in a group home and my dad battling stage 4 colon cancer. All this was taking a toll on my marriage and family. Still, I carried on. I had always been one to take care of others’ needs.  I began experiencing heart palpitations accompanied by dizziness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, digestive issues, joint and abdominal pain, muscle weakness, lower than normal blood pressure, and the inability to get over a head cold. Unfortunately, I kept going—homeschooling, coaching, serving at church, taking occasional speaking engagements