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Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. C.S. Lewis

7 Spiritual Growth Lessons Learned From My Grape Vines

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Grapes at Cave Ridge Vineyard photographed by Rod Shepherd and used with permission For years, we had lush and lovely grape vines growing along a wood-and-wire fence behind our country home. We pruned, watered, and fertilized them, enjoying the sweet, luscious grapes and turning them into juice, jam, jelly, conserve, and even pie. Having lived with grapes and […]

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Heaven Is Closer Than You Think: A Book Review

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Miracles from Heaven: A Little girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing Written by Christy Wilson Beam Reviewed by Elizabeth H. Cottrell I was approached by this book’s publicist to read and review it (with absolutely no compensation or pressure for a good review), and while I was somewhat skeptical of […]

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Belonging: The Ultimate Connection

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I welcome The Very Rev. Alexander D. MacPhail, Connection Messenger* and today’s guest blogger. This piece appeared in a recent parish newsletter, and I share it with his permission. It speaks beautifully about three of the essential types of connections that we focus on here at Heartspoken: connection with self, connection with others, and connection with […]

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God Uses Us Wherever We Are

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Inspired by a song of praise I heard a rich, melodious contralto voice the moment I got out of the car at my aunt’s nursing home about 8:30 yesterday morning. From her wheelchair, a black woman’s song of praise to God filled the morning air from where she sat, just outside the facility’s doors, and lifted the […]

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Learning To Hear Our Shepherd’s Voice: Jesus, The Good Shepherd – John 10:11-18

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I preached this sermon at two services at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Woodstock, Virginia, on April 26, 2015. I hope it will bless you and expand your thinking on this familiar and much beloved passage of Scripture. A most comforting image Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, and there is probably no other scripture more comforting or more beloved than the […]

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A Prayer In Brokenness

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One of my favorite books of prayers is Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community. The prayers and meditations are based on ancient Christian traditions, and they reflect powerfully and beautifully the ebb and flow of life and all its challenges. It includes two sets of daily readings as well as many wonderful prayers for […]

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Widen The Circle Of Love

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OUTWITTED He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout, But love and I had the wit to win; We drew a circle that took him in.   ~Edwin Markham The need to be right is so intoxicating and so poisonous. How easily we can be hurt—especially by those we […]

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Decluttering isn’t just for closets and inboxes

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This post was originally published in 2012 on Cyndi Briggs’s blog, Letters from Your Wayward Sister. I was honored to have been a guest on her blog.  * * * * * “What I know for sure: Our internal space has to be given the same level of respect and diligent attention as the external.” Oprah […]

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We Are Connected By God’s Amazing Grace

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Negro spiritual music: only the black notes Gospel singer Wintley Phipps, speaking to an audience at Carnegie Hall, told his listeners that just about every Negro spiritual was written using only the black notes of the piano—the pentatonic scale or the “slave scale.” Songs written with this scale by white songwriters were called white spirituals, […]

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Overwhelmed? Beware This Spiritual Warning Sign

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We all feel overwhelmed sometimes. It can be caused by the circumstances of our lives that seem to converge in a perfect storm of pressure to which we feel vulnerable. At other times, we bring it on ourselves by overcommitting, failing to calculate how long something will take, refusing to admit our own limitations. One of life’s ironies […]

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Messages You’ll Never Hear From The Holy Spirit

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In the Christian tradition, the Holy Spirit is nothing less than God manifested inside us—a gift bestowed on us when Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world […]

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Sending You Christmas Love

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My dear Heartspoken readers: The editorial calendar says today’s post should be about connecting with one’s self, and when I reflected on that, I discovered something important: I need a break. I’m getting ready to go pack so my husband and I can get on a plane tomorrow and fly to New Mexico to visit our daughter […]

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Jerks In The Family Need Love Too

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This thought-provoking piece, written by my friend Rick Wilcox, appeared originally on his Literary Life blog. I am reprinting it with his permission, and I hope you’ll head over there and read other posts he has written. I find them both intellectually and spiritually nourishing. Rick is a greatly appreciated Heartspoken Connection Messenger.* Let all guests […]

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Reading Feeds Your Spirit: Spiritual Books I’ve Found Valuable

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Beyond the Bible Some Christians feel the only reading necessary to their spiritual well being is the Bible. I certainly incorporate daily Bible reading into my spiritual practices, but I have been helped enormously by writers and teachers who offer a fresh viewpoint, insight, “aha” moments. I always love knowing what my fellow seekers are reading, […]

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Chosen vs. Invited: A Potentially Life-changing Difference

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Today I want to share the sermon preached recently by our inimitable rector, the Very Rev. Alexander D. MacPhail entitled, “Many are called, but few consider themselves chosen.” I was caught up in the story and fascinated by the lessons he related from the gospel readings—especially the parable of the wedding banquet that speaks of those who were invited […]

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Use Holy Silence To Nourish Your Soul

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I’m trying to learn how to learn to cultivate holy silence. It doesn’t come naturally to those of us who are social creatures. My monkey brain kicks into high chatter when I even think about trying to meditate and pray, but I’ve come to cherish what I call my “quiet time” each morning and find […]

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Finding Encouragement Through Fellowship

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Welcome to Cari Bousefield, my guest blogger today at Heartspoken. She reached out to me about guest posting, and after reading some of her writing and sensing the sincerity of her faith, I am honored to have her share some thoughts about the joys and benefits of fellowship in our Christian journey. You can read […]

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Prayers For Peace

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My friend Jean Allen Davis recently shared these two beautiful prayers from an out-of-print pamphlet written by The Rev. Alan Houghton. On this 13th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack in the United States, the threats to world peace are ever-present and frightening. I call on everyone, whatever your religious affiliation, to lift up the […]

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Lessons From An Annoying Canaanite Woman

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Christ and the Canaanite Woman ~ c. 1784 by Jean-Germain Drouais (The Louvre) Matthew 15: 21-28  Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus […]

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Book Review and Give-Away: Notes From A Blue Bike

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Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World Written by Tsh Oxenreider, Founder of TheArtofSimple.net I was pitched this book by its publicist and was sufficiently intrigued with the premise to give it a try. I was not disappointed, but its allure was different and stronger than I thought […]

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