Posts by Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Have you missed Girlfriends in God devotions arriving daily in your inbox?


We sure have missed you.


As you recall, after much prayer, the team decided to end this 17 year season of Girlfriends in God. We ran our last devotion June 30, 2023. However, Sharon, Mary, and Gwen are still sending out weekly devotions from their individual sites. While it may look different, the encouraging biblical content will be the same.


Many of you have already signed up to receive our weekly devotions, but if you haven’t, the encouragement is just a click away.


Click here to continue receiving devotions from SHARON JAYNES on Tuesdays.


Click here to continue receiving devotions from MARY SOUTHERLAND on Wednesdays.


Click here to continue receiving devotions from GWEN SMITH

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Today’s Truth

Have you missed Girlfriends in God arriving daily in your inbox? We sure have missed you.


As you recall, after much prayer, the team decided to end this 17 year season of Girlfriends in God. We ran our last devotion June 30, 2023.


However, Sharon, Mary, and Gwen are still sending out weekly devotions from their individual sites. While it may look different, the encouraging biblical content will be the same. Many of you have already signed up to receive our weekly devotions, but if you haven’t, the encouragement is just a click away.


Click here to continue receiving devotions from Sharon Jaynes on Tuesdays.
Click here to continue receiving devotions from Mary Southerland on Wednesdays.
Click here to continue receiving devotions from Gwen Smith

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Today’s Truth

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)


 


 


Friend to Friend


A friend of ours has struggled with heart problems for years. He’s gone through seasons of wellness and seasons of strain. Recently, his health challenges moved from the back burner to the front when his doctors recognized the need to operate.


He didn’t just need a simple procedure. He needed open heart surgery to the max. I mean we’re talking valve replacements, ablations, hole repairs, and more. 


In the wee hours of the morning before his surgery, my friend’s heart decided to cause problems that led them to the Emergency Room instead of the Operating Room. Thankfully, his surgeon rushed to the scene and took him right into surgery.


Hours later his heart was repaired. In the days that followed, scary

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Today’s Truth

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Isaiah 43:2 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


Thunder cracked the sky when a lightning bolt ripped through the roof of our home, igniting a fire that redefined our normal that night in 2017. The house snapped dark and shook. It was as if a bomb had gone off.


“I think we got hit!” Hunter screamed from the family room. We hurried outside to see if it was true. 


The next few minutes were a blurry race against the clock. Get the dogs out! Get the cars out! I’ll grab the computers! And that’s pretty much all we had time for. The flames and smoke kicked us out of our home and were far from warmth or comfort.


Sirens roared. Red lights flashed. 


Fear and helplessness stood in the rain beside me

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Today’s Truth

Enoch walked faithfully with God (Genesis 5:24a NIV)


 


 


Friend to Friend


When our kids were itty-bitty my husband Brad and I used to hold little hands a lot.


Sometimes it was to protect them from danger, like if we were crossing a street.


Sometimes it was to calm fears or to help them to feel secure.


Sometimes it was because we were on a mission to get through or to a place quickly.


Other times it was for the simple pleasure of strolling, skipping, and smiling together.


Now that they’re young adults, my kids aren’t so keen on holding hands with Mom and Dad anymore. Sigh. There’s still the occasional watching-a-movie-on-the-couch-at-home handhold when they are in town, but it’s a rarity. And I miss it.


I love locking fingers with my people. There’s beauty and

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Today’s Truth

Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:7 NIV)


 


 


Friend to Friend


It’s common for us to doubt our value and significance. Yet, in Psalm 144 David is struck by the mind-blowing reality that the God of all creation, the One who bids billions of stars to shine in the heavens and commands the powerful waves of the oceans to stop at the waters’ edge, cares for wee-little humans like you and me.


The very thought of it leaves me breathing deeply, shaking my head in wonder with the psalmist. “O Lord, what is a human that you care for him, a son of man that you would think of him?” (Psalm 144:3 CSB)


Jesus had a lot to say about this topic. When it comes to knowing the value God places

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Today’s Truth

But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold (Psalm 106:13 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


My daughter calls me Dory. She even gave me a small travel-sized tin for cotton swabs because Dory is on the lid. Think back to the adorable movie Finding Nemo. Yeah. That Dory. The optimistic, lovable blue fish-friend who struggles with short-term memory loss. Ahem.


I do forget things.


Regularly.


Where I put my keys. Why I was going upstairs. Who that person is. What I was talking about… mid-sentence.


Now, let’s pause for a reality update before you start sending me emails advising me to take ginkgo biloba, use essential oils or meet with a doctor… it’s more my personality than a brain function issue. I’m good, people. Just a bit forgetful and easily distracted.


But as I read Psalm 106, my heart

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Today’s Truth

Fear not … I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:1-2 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


While walking into the opening session of a conference, my husband’s cell phone rang. He answered the call, then as the emcee welcomed us to the weekend, Brad leaned over and whispered in my ear. “Preston fell on a rock at camp. They’re taking him to urgent care to get stitches in his chin.”


Deep breath in.


Less than an hour later, Brad’s phone rang again. “The doctor said Preston actually broke his jaw. They need us to pick him up and take him to Charlotte. He might need surgery.”    


Gripped by his words, I struggled to think clearly … A broken jaw? Surgery? It was supposed to be just a few stitches! Bags were packed quickly and by the time darkness

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Today’s Truth

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20b NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


For years my abortion story went untold. It was a secret held tightly by a locked heart – my worst nightmare and darkest memory. Not something I wanted to talk about. Certainly not a story that I thought could be used for good.


Conversationally, it was unapproachable… simply impossible to discuss. On the rare occasion when I allowed my mind to go there, I wished I had a different story: one of life, not death – of joy, not pain. A story of a time when I’d made the best choice, not the worst choice.


But that’s not my story.


And because it’s not, for years I was convinced that my mistakes demanded silence. That because of what I’d done and

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Today’s Truth

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


As the basketball game heated up and the man-to-man coverage got up close and personal, he took an elbow to the ear. Seconds later his world went silent on the traumatized side. Stunned, he continued to play and pointed to his ear as he ran down the court telling his coach about the situation.


“I can’t hear in my left ear!”


Wait, what? I read his lips from the stands and wondered if I accurately interpreted what my son had just communicated. (My stomach did the I-hate-when-my-kids-get-hurt twist.)


“I think he just told the coach that he can’t hear out of his left ear!?” I said to the friend beside me.


My guess proved to be accurate. Preston came out of the

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Today’s Truth

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


I’ve been through hard times. I’ve asked the question “why?” on many occasions. I’ve begrudgingly said goodbye to family and friends in order to say hello to strangers and scary new places. I know the matter of being shattered. 


There was a season when Brad and I lived in four different homes, in four different states, within four years. From Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York to North Carolina, we made our way across the East Coast with three little ducklings in tow. 


So much of what had been comfortable and familiar was stripped away. God was surely leading me to a place where I would have to trust Him and lean on Him in ways I never had before. And

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Today’s Truth

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3 ESV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


The prophet Isaiah said, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor is his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1 NIV). Though I know in my heart this is true, I still sometimes go back and forth between doubt and worry as if God’s arms are short and his ears are dull. My friend Erica does too. 


She came to my door with a package to deliver and a story to share. I signed for the package, and we began to catch up. Her kids were grown. Mine were teens. Her daughter had just gotten married. My oldest had just gone to college. Mama to Mama we shared and cared. 


“My daughter and her new husband

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Today’s Truth

Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1 ESV)


 


 


Friend to Friend


Both his stature and demeanor were unimpressive to elite breeders. He was exercised with harsh tactics, under cruel restrictions and publicly dismissed by a professionally acclaimed trainer. Eventually the horse, Seabiscuit, became a wild, bitter, and angry animal that was considered worthless to the racing world and was sold for a very small price.


The new owner, a wealthy auto salesman, hired an experienced trainer to work with the racehorse… a broken man who others would no longer hire… a man who, like the horse, had been beaten up by life a bit. 


This new trainer had his hands chock full of rebellion with the stallion, but he patiently and painstakingly trained him as best he could. He watched closely

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Today’s Truth

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


When my children were little, they watched the same VHS tapes over and over and over. Classics like Big Trucks, Little Bear, and Arthur. Fun shows like Veggie Tales and an adventurous video series featuring first-responders called Rescue Heroes.


One of their favorite Christian videos featured a guy called the Donut Man. He taught Bible stories and used simple songs to point kids to the Lord. While holding a donut in his hand, he’d sing the theme song each time that went something like this. “Life without Jesus is like a Donut… ‘cause there’s a hole in the middle of your heart.” Then at the end of the tune he’d stick a munchkin-like circle donut in the middle of

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Today’s Truth

Remain in me, as I also remain in you (John 15:4a NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


The first time I went to a drive-in theater I was about six years old. The motion pictures on the reel that night were not just exciting – they were epic. A double feature of Godzilla and Star Wars. It was a rare treat for our young family. With five kids and an educator’s salary, movies were a luxury. 


The details of that evening are foggy, but there are several things that I remember. Daylight ended as Godzilla began. Dad went to get popcorn while mom spread a blanket out and helped the three oldest littles get to the best vantage point for the show: the roof of our station wagon. Pillows were handed up to the roof perch

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Today’s Truth

Search me, God, and know my heart (Psalm 139:23a NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


A few years ago, I was given a 12x magnification hand mirror as part of a gift. The gift-giver told me that she uses hers all the time and expected that I would love it. Never thinking I would actually need or use it; I thanked her with all the grace I could muster and put the mirror away where I put the gifts that I never plan on needing or using.


Fast-forward a few years … My son was working on a self-portrait for art class and asked me if I had a hand mirror. I remembered that the 12x magnification mirror had a normal-mirror side, so I ran and got it for him.


After his art project was

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Today’s Truth

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


All who pause for reflection and allow their hearts to wander in wonder down the Way of Suffering feel the darkness of this day in history. Good Friday was anything but good – yet, because of God’s unsearchable love for you and me, it was the pathway to our hope, to our forgiveness… and to eternal life.


Injustice took center stage that day as Pilate turned Jesus over to a rowdy mob though he had found no fault in him. Roman soldiers rendered Him wounded and weak as they flogged an innocent man – the perfectly innocent Son of man – with 39 excruciating lashes.


A twisted crown of thorns was placed on his head and a purple robe draped

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Today’s Truth

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Romans 14:19 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


I’ve got lots of opinions. You do too, right? I’ll go even one step further by saying your opinions and my opinions are likely not perfectly in sync. Differences of opinion are more numerous than grains of sand in the ocean. Disputable matters in the church are no exception. Freedoms and convictions are not the same in every heart. Unfortunately, these areas of contention can cause conflict in our hearts, relationships, and communities of faith if we let them.


My family and I once got thrown into a situation that caused both harm and confusion. The perception and convictions of another was pressed upon us, and the consequences were anything but peaceful. They were layered in judgment and accusation. 


We

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Today’s Truth

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


We need to be fully engaged and alert because our enemy is fierce. You don’t have to wear camo but as a follower of Christ, you do need a battle plan. It begins with acknowledging that there is a spiritual battle raging all around us that requires we keep watch. 


I was excited that evening because I actually had a dinner plan, which isn’t always the case. I busted out my griddle to whip up some yummy grilled-chicken quesadillas. I grabbed a knife, a chopping board, and the leftover chicken from the fridge. Minutes later, the chicken was ready for its cheese and tortilla companions. 


While the griddle was heating up, I turned my attention to a few other family

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Today’s Truth

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


From the time I was a young girl, I wanted to be beautiful. In the fifth grade, I resorted to desperate measures in a very eleven-year-old kind of way. I distinctly remember some bright blue eye shadow being involved. 


I can even picture in my mind what said unauthorized makeup looked like in its case – like a pallet that would normally hold watercolor paint. Five fabulous, or not-so-fabulous, color options ranging from pale green to bright blue were available. 


Mercy!


It was the early eighties. Blue eye shadow was all the rage and a very accepted beauty solution. It was everywhere! On magazine covers, in commercials, and on every older woman at church. I think even Marsha Brady was wearing

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Today’s Truth

Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight (Psalm 119:143 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


In C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series, a young Edmund Pevensie is a fictional character who, at one point, almost traded his soul for a Turkish delight. He naïvely gave into cravings that ended up costing him way more than he anticipated.


The evil White Witch was initially shocked by his presence in Narnia, but quickly implemented a crafty plan to destroy him that began with temptation. First, she pretended to care about him. Then, like the crafty serpent in Eden’s garden, she warmed him up by providing a sugar-coated death delight. And just like the first Adam and Eve, Edmund, Son of Adam, took the bait.


Similarly, our very-real enemy tries hard to get you and me to

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Today’s Truth

I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith… (Philippians 1:25 NIV).


 


 


 


Friend to Friend


When I was growing up, ours was on the doorframe between the kitchen and the hall with the red carpet. A vertical trail of penciled dashes and dates that marked the growth of my siblings and I – that eventually got painted over. An archive of ages and heights that proved physical progress was really happening in the Eisaman household.


And boy did I want my growth to show.


Each time my dad lined us up to draw lines just above our highest hairs, I would stretch my spine to the sky. (It’s even possible that I might’ve lifted my heels occasionally. Possible. Just throwing it out there. Don’t judge me. Dad always bumped us back down.)


I loved seeing the

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Today’s Truth

In Him was life, and that life was the light of men (John 1:4 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


I wanted to hurl my screaming alarm clock into an abyss. The warmth of my cozy covers and the safety of sleep beckoned my heart to stay, linger and forget what lay ahead of me that day. On that afternoon, I would sing for the funeral of a precious eighteen year-old family friend who had died in a tragic car accident.


Her name was Macie.


She was a girl who enjoyed life.


She babysat my kids when they were small and would often catch a ride home from church with us. She always had a spring in her step, a hug for a child, a kind word on her lips, and a sweet smile on her face. To know Macie was

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Today’s Truth

The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire (Nehemiah 1:3 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


Some friends of ours just experienced a devastating loss. Their lives will never be the same and we are hurting with them. When news like what our friends just experienced arrives, it often shakes us to the core, leaving us swirling with questions and feeling overwhelmed with emotions.


Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of a land far from his home. (Which means he held a trusted position that allowed him personal access to the king.) When some old friends came to town, he found out that his people, the Jews, were in a terrible situation. Deeply burdened by the news, he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. He took the devastation of his people to heart and responded

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Today’s Truth

There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10 NIV)


 


Friend to Friend


You would think she had just won the lottery the way she was screaming and jumping up and down. In fact, to her she practically had! She’d found her lovey and wanted everyone within hearing distance to celebrate with her.


Gabriella had lost her lovey a few weeks prior. This was a big deal to a four-year old, especially since she’d had the little white and tan bear blanket from the time she was four months old. Lovey comforted her when she was sad or hurting, rode with her on car trips, slept with her during nap and nighttime, and was her most treasured possession.


When her comfy blanket friend went missing, Gabriella was understandably upset. She mentioned it to

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Today’s Truth

Do everything without grumbling or arguing (Philippians 2:14 NIV


 


Friend to Friend


My friend Ellen is a preschool teacher who regularly contends with entitled toddlers and privileged preschoolers who know how to major on some minors and throw down some serious tantrums.


I want the red crayon, but Tommy has it!


I’m not eating this because it has white cheese. I only like yellow cheese.


I want to go first!


I’m allowed. You’re not my boss.


Miss Ellen calls these little escapades “princess problems,” and she does her best to lovingly redirect the heart of each young complainer toward the reality of his or her blessings and toward the virtue of patience, selflessness, kindness, sharing, etc…


Hardly a day goes by that the kingdom of her kiddie classroom isn’t inundated with princess problems. Outbursts are common.

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Today’s Truth

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked (Luke 3:10 NIV)


 


Friend to Friend


When my husband and I started our business, we worked non-stop. While our optimism was high, the days were long, and the learning curve was brutal. We’re a few years in now and still a ways away from the business being the well-oiled machine we’d like it to be, but one thing we have going for us is this: we aren’t afraid to ask for help.


We call our corporate office and our business coach regularly, desperate for direction and understanding. What should we do in this payroll situation? What should our employee recertification trainings include? What best practices increase client satisfaction?


Each question we ask is met with answers that bring us greater clarity and direction. We want to

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Today’s Truth

For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night (Psalm 90:4 NIV)


 


Friend to Friend


There was a time I would hide in the bathroom for an ounce of quiet and reprieve. An intense time when diapers drooped, binkies bobbled, and toddlers toddled all over the busy, boisterous Smith house.


Those days are gone.


My husband and I have three young-adult children, and a wonderful daughter-in-law, and are figuring out how to settle into a new season with just each other. Huge portions of our hearts are now spread across three states and another country.


Empty nest. I get why they call it that, but I don’t think it’s an empty season at all. On the contrary, it’s quite full.


Full of exciting dreams and complicated feelings.


Full of unknowns, uncertainties, and unrest.


Full of stretching, stirring and stillness.


Full

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Today’s Truth

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19 ESV).


 


Friend to Friend


On the night divinity merged with fleshy humanity as Jesus came on the scene in a stable, things of earth were shaken and stirred with fresh glory and awesome wonder.


A host of heavenly angels appeared in the sky praising God and celebrating the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. They left their veiled existence to speak and sing to a few lowly shepherds in a field.


Wait, what? Why?


To announce the good news of great joy that came as a gift from God in a cloth-clad baby-package named Jesus. The singing sky-creatures pointed the shepherds to the swaddled Savior who was in a manger near-by and urged them to go and check out the Christ child.


When the shepherds came on

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Today’s Truth

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17 NIV)


 


Friend to Friend


Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. Case in point…


My husband asked if I could run to pick up his dry cleaning while he was on a conference call for work. Sure. So, I drove across town, paid, grabbed what they gave me, and then headed home.


“Are my suit pants cleaned too?” Brad asked when I brought the dry cleaning in the house.


“I’m sure they are, honey. I remember seeing them in the bag when I dropped them off.”


I checked the items I’d brought home. No suit pants.


“There are only shirts here, Brad, but I do remember there being a dark pair of pants in there last week when you gave me the bag!”


“I definitely had pants in

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Today’s Truth

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken (Matthew 12:36 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


During the holiday season, when interaction with family and friends is increased, I find myself with extra opportunities to bite my tongue. Anyone else? Jesus said that the words we speak reflect the true condition of our hearts.


“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

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Today’s Truth

This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him (Psalm 91:2 NLT).


 


Friend to Friend


While at my son Preston’s football game, I had a moving conversation with another team mom. It was the first time we’d ever connected beyond socially expected niceties. Between cheers that went up to our football-playing boys, she stumbled upon the fact that I was a Jesus-loving girl and was excited to share about how God has intimately drawn her heart to his over the past five years… how He met her where she was and ministered to her through the hands of others. How He sparked life into her soul through His Son Jesus Christ.


She was radiant and she spoke with excitement, joy in every sentence, praise on her tongue for the God who gives her strength

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Today’s Truth

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy (Psalm 67:4 NIV).


 


 


Friend to Friend


I’m obsessed with gymnastics and figure skating. Obsessed. For two weeks, every four years. You know… like everyone else in America… when the Winter Olympics games come around. Pour me a bowl of Wheaties, hand me a flag with stars and stripes, and let’s get it on! Stick that landing! Land that triple salchow! You got this! USA! USA! USA!


And you can’t miss the opening ceremonies!


There’s just a beyond-ness to them! Bright colors. Epic music. Intricate costumes. All the things.


Athletes from every nation, coming together in harmony. The pride of each country celebrating their unique heritages, while at the same time vibrantly displaying the beauty of humanity that binds us all together.


Songs are sung, dances are danced, and

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Today’s Truth

Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


Cammie is a children’s ministry director at her church. One day, as she was preparing for the lesson she would teach on Sunday morning, she had an idea for a fun illustration that would require a few props. She asked her four-year-old daughter to help.


“Hey, Taylor! Can you please bring me a few of the Fisher Price people from your dollhouse?”


This reply came from her preschooler who was sitting across the room…


“No, Mom. They just want to chill out. They’ve had a long day.”


So funny… yet so not funny.


My word, people! When our children’s toys need a break, you know that it’s time for you and me to hit the pause button.


And, truth be told, I live smack

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Today’s Truth

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14 NIV).


 


Friend to Friend


I’m needy when it comes to love.


Remember that game Hungry Hungry Hippos? Well, I’m pretty much Hungry Hungry Gwenno. (Don’t remember that game? Google it and then buy it for your four-year-old nephew, neighbor, or grandkid. You’ll thank me.)


It seems our old friend Moses was a bit of a hungry hippo too.


In Psalm 90 he asked God to fill him and God’s people full of love: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). Love this! Note that Moses connected the love of God with a satisfaction that put a song in his heart and a skip in his step.


Yes. I want this

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Today’s Truth

You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean… (Leviticus 10:10 ESV).

 



 


Friend to Friend


When I think about the books in the Bible that encourage and inspire me, the Old Testament book of Leviticus would rank near the bottom. Not kidding. It’s a tough read.


But it’s important to approach God’s Word holistically, so I have to take the good with the bad… the easy-to-read chapters with the hard-to-get-through chapters. And I’ve found that in doing so, God reveals powerful, life-changing lessons.


Here’s a doozy He taught me recently that will change the way you approach your day.


Leviticus is a historical narrative that reveals God’s holiness in ways large and small. It’s intense. Full of complex instructions (detail upon detail, instruction upon instruction) given from God to Moses so the sins of the Israelites

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Today’s Truth

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father (John 14:13 NIV).


Friend to Friend


I was on my way home when my cell phone rang.


“Hi, Mom. It’s Kennedy. Where are you?”


“Hey, baby! I’ll be home in just a few minutes. What’s up?”


“Well, I wanted to see if you and I could go shopping for a new bathing suit this afternoon, and— don’t say no —I’d like to get a feather in my hair. Can we, Mom?”


Don’t say no? Really? I’m the parent. You’re the child. C’mon girl.


“Honey, you’re free to tell me if you want something, but you don’t get to tell me what I can and can’t say no to. I’m pulling into the neighborhood and will see you in a minute.”


Later, as I considered the way my daughter positioned her

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Today’s Truth

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7 ESV).

Friend to Friend


When I was a little girl, one of the highlights of every summer was going to our family reunion at White Oak Park. I loved reunions because there was always a seven-layer salad and lots of desserts. All of us kids played fun games that filled us with joy and drenched us in sweat. Then after the kid games were done, some adults would join us for a final competition: the tug-of-war.


When it came to tug-of-war, I had a strategy: wherever my dad went, I went. Because in my little-girl mind, he was superhuman strong. (I was ever the rational one.) Dad always positioned himself at the far end of the rope as our anchor, and his strength

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Today’s Truth

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26 NIV).

Friend to Friend


I’ve always loved connecting dots. In my childhood it was dots with numbers on paper that stranded together to form an object. As I threw my attention to the page and followed the numbered steps, a picture developed. A new creation appeared that brought joy to my little-girl heart.


My grown-up dot-connecting challenges are far from a kid’s fun sheet. There are daily life dots that need connecting, like: family dots, faith dots, emotion dots, relationship dots, job dots, parenting dots and decision dots. I continually struggle to make sense of situations and circumstances and I long for a simply numbered life sheet to give me guidance and direction.


Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever wonder how

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Today’s Truth

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT).

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Every family has one… that certain kid who gets injured and banged up more than their fair share. That one who spends the majority of your family’s health care budget on their copay needs because, for whatever reason, accidents mysteriously, regularly, and relentlessly hunt them down and throw a good bit of hurt on them. In our family, this person is my oldest son, Preston.


We’d been up, down, and all around when it comes to Preston’s breaks, bandages, and bruises. So, it was a bit old-hat to be sitting in a small examination room winters ago, waiting to see the doctor about yet another injury.


This one happened in gym class at school.


Preston climbed up a rope, made it

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Today’s Truth

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13 ESV).

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I love spinach. Love it in salads – especially with grilled salmon, goat cheese and pine nuts. I love it on a turkey sandwich with sourdough bread, a thick slice of avocado, and sharp cheddar cheese. I love spinach sautéed with EVOO, garlic and a pinch of Himalayan Sea salt. Straight up, I guess I’m just a spinach-kind-of-girl. Anyone with me?


Now that we’re clear on my love for this wonderful, dark green leafy veggie, imagine my disappointment when I was told by the evening news that I had to throw out the two bags of fresh spinach in my refrigerator! A few years ago, there was an e-coli outbreak that was linked back to some manufacturing plants in

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Today’s Truth

Search Me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24 ESV).

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My son Preston called from the nurse’s office at the middle school early one morning. Here’s how the conversation went:


“Hey mom. It’s Preston. I’m not feeling well, and I have a temperature of 96.5. Can you come get me?”


“96.5 degrees?” I asked. “Honey, that’s below normal! That doesn’t sound right.”


“I know,” he said, “but I don’t feel well. Can you please come pick me up?”


“Sure, honey. I’ll be right there.”


I chuckled the whole way to the school at what he had said. Surely he misread the thermometer! A normal temperature is 98.6 degrees. Something was off.


I got to the school in a North Carolina minute and headed straight to the nurse’s office. While Preston packed his bag to

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Today’s Truth

You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game (Psalm 76:4 NIV).

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The glasses we had to wear looked ridiculous. They came in lots of shapes, colors and styles and were sold for weeks leading up to the big event. Some people made viewing machines out of cereal boxes. Others went against the warnings and attempted to see the celestial wonder without eclipse glasses.


The epic 70-mile-wide “path of totality” stretched across fourteen states, from Oregon to South Carolina, changing day into night for a few unforgettable moments. It was the longest total solar eclipse of the century, the first in forty years, and all of the North American continent was amped up to see it.


The day was electric.


People from every state and around the world celebrated the light show.


It was

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Today’s Truth

“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him” (Matthew 3:3b NIV).

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I like preparing things. I like to cook. I love hosting gatherings, planning party details, and preparing for guests. When my kids graduated from high school, I spent countless hours prepping for the celebrations we hosted. When my son got married, we hosted a bridal shower and the rehearsal dinner. Each party was packed with preparation, and each was wonderful.


When presidents, dignitaries, and heads of state are going to visit a particular town they often send people ahead of them to make sure the area is made ready for their visit. This is a different type of preparation than my domestic kind. They are serious about vetting each location regarding security. They vet out the people that will

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Today’s Truth

Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field (Luke 10: NIV).

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Several years ago, when our neighborhood hosted a garage sale, I rallied my family to set up a water/soda stand to raise some money for a local charity. While this may sound somewhat noble and exciting, I assure you, it was a brutal battle of stubborn wills. My kids fought me the whole way to the curb and tested my love-o-meter to the max.


Quite frankly, I wanted to fold up my card table, put away the homemade signs, write a personal check to the charity, and call it a day. It would’ve been easier. Yet in the tangled middle of my frustration, I felt God nudge my heart.


I was reminded that in order to serve Jesus I needed

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Today’s Truth

The eyes of every-one in the synagogue were fastened on him (Luke 4:20 NIV).

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Long, long ago, royalty would send letters and packages with trusted servants, often having sealed their personal communications with wax and a signet ring. Before our current American postal system was in place, the Pony Express is how letters and packages got from place to place. Now, deliveries are not only physical, but can even be sent electronically.


I love deliveries. Doesn’t matter if they’re from Amazon, UPS, Fed Ex or the local pizza shop, I relish the transfer of goods that conveniently finds its way to my front door. And flowers! I love when flowers are delivered too! Although that very, very, very rarely happens around here as the hubs is not the romantic type. Oh, well!


Whether it’s

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Today’s Truth

Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy (Psalm 99:9 NIV).

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When my son Hunter was ten, he came to me with a humble confession. He said that because he hasn’t been spending much time with God lately, he had been grumpier and grumpier. He quietly admitted he had been mean to his siblings and had said some unkind things. With amazing insight, he connected the amount of time he spent with God to his behaviors … recognizing that there was a direct correlation.


Boy, can I relate.


I told Hunter that I experience the exact same thing in my life. That when I don’t carve out time in my day to spend with the Lord, I often say and do things I shouldn’t. For that matter, even when I do

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Today’s Truth

Blessed are all who fear the lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor. Blessings and prosperity will be yours (Psalm 128:1-2 NIV).

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My husband Brad and I were the poster kids for financial stewardship. Larry Burkett junkies and cash-budget-nerds from the day we exchanged our vows. Thirteen years into marriage, we got a bit unsatisfied with our bank numbers and borrowed to invest in several lots of land.


The plan? Flip them for a quick and hefty profit. Change the bank numbers. Secure our financial future.


Our intentions were sincere. Brad wanted to be able to retire from corporate by the age of 50 so he could join me in full time ministry. Surely God would bless and prosper such a noble mission, right?


Yes. He did. By allowing us to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and endure excruciating years of class

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Today’s Truth

In the night, LORD, I remember your name, that I may keep your law. This has been my practice: I obey your precepts. You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words (Psalm 119:55-57 NIV).

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I’ve always been an athlete. Growing up, I played on different sports teams all year round, but volleyball has always been my jam. I played in college and coached my daughter’s high school team. I’ve been around this game for more than thirty years and I’ve spent more time on the court, on the sand, and on the grass playing and practicing volleyball than most people ever will.


You’d think that after all the hours invested, I’d have the game perfected by now, right?


Not hardly.


There are still times when I shank a pass and hit into the net instead of over the net.


There are still times when I miss a serve.


No matter how much I’ve grown as a player,

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Today’s Truth

Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them (Psalm 74:11 NIV)!

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My hubs and I were obsessed with the TV show Person of Interest. The plot is fast-paced and features two main characters: a former CIA agent, and a mysterious, tech-savvy billionaire. The duo prevents crimes using technology and vigilante justice.


Each episode features complicated characters in critical situations. Life and death situations. Tensions are always heightened, and people often look over their shoulders to see who might be after them. As you’d imagine, what I didn’t see while watching Person of Interest was people in danger, casually hanging out with their hands in their pockets.


When we have our hands in our pockets, it means we’re relaxed… that our guard is down… that we’re neutral – not on the offense

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Today’s Truth

On high, he summons heaven and earth in order to judge his people (Psalm 50:4 CSB).

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When a skilled jeweler places a diamond under a microscope, he is able to authenticate and determine its value based upon the color, cut, clarity and carat weight of the stone. Flaws are visible in the testing, and any jeweler worth his salt can easily see the difference between a man-made cubic zirconia and a real diamond that’s been forged in pressure over time.


I like to think I can spot fake from a mile away too. It’s everywhere: the lashes, spray tans, hair color, eyebrows, puffy lips, and high cheekbones. Beyond the substitute beauty efforts, there are a million other ways humanity serves up fake… Passing off that gossip as a prayer request. Praying from our lips, but

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Today’s Truth

God is love (1 John 4:8b NIV).

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My mom tells a story that when I was a toddler, I used to push my older brother and sister off my dad’s lap so I could cuddle with him all by myself. I still do this with my kids and husband. It might look different today, but my goal is the same: I want more love… and I’m not above pushing someone else out of the way to move myself forward.


My love hunger stumps me. I’ve been a Christian since I sat on a little plastic Sunday-school chair and learned Bible stories from a flannel-graph board. If I’m so into Jesus—and I promise you, I am—then why am I still needy?


Why is my heart such a love

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Today’s Truth

Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching’ (John 14:23a, NIV).

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There is a feature on my cell phone that allows me to decline an incoming call. There are a thousand reasons why I might choose to hit the “decline” button when my phone rings. Sometimes I have a deadline to meet. Decline. Sometimes a call comes in when I’m mid-conversation with a friend or when I’m connecting with my family. Decline.


Similarly, there are times in my life when I try to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if I were declining a cell phone call. Times when I just don’t feel like doing what I know God wants me to do. Times when I don’t want to hear the still small voice that whispers to my

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Today’s Truth

How Awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth (Psalm 47:2 NIV).

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For our 20th wedding anniversary, Brad and I celebrated by taking a trip to several cities. We painstakingly plotted touring strategies in order to see the sites, view the views, eat the foods, experience the local charms, and soak in the unfamiliar cultures as best we could. Each city boasted different personalities and attractions, but one thing was consistent about our approach in every location: we climbed to high places.


And. We. Climbed.


We climbed and we climbed… thousands of steps. I kid you not! We climbed creaky, dusty, windy staircases in old cathedrals and up small steps in tall buildings. We climbed fancy-schmancy staircases in opulent castles, up ancient stone staircases in an arena, up earthen lava trails on

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Today’s Truth

This God, our God forever and ever— he will always lead us (Psalm 48:14 CSB).

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I couldn’t help but notice the flying shoes. Strewn across power lines all over El Salvador was pair after pair of dirty, old tennis shoes that had been tied together and strung over the wires that lined the streets. On the bus, our guide pointed them out. Telling the story that those tennis shoes serve as territory markers for the violent gangs and drug cartels.


They establish boundaries and stake claim to who runs what in particular parts of town.


My heart sifted through the language, economic and cultural barriers that separated me from them. I was stirred to understand more deeply. Distressed by the implications and evil. Moved to do something. To help. To protect.


As we got off the

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Today’s Truth

In colorful garments she is led to the king (Psalm 45:14 CSB).

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Rarely do I see more beauty on the face of a woman than on the day of her wedding. She’s the belle of the ball and she knows it. Her eyes twinkle as she walks down the aisle toward her groom and her smile speaks to the confidence she feels.


Brides are often consumed with wedding planning. They dream of details with best friends, family, co-workers and loved ones. They invite others to share in the big day.


There are showers and parties and cake-tastings.


There are presents to buy and dresses to try on, menus to peruse, and tuxes to rent.


Brides know their wedding day is special. They know this is their day for the spotlight. Their day to shine.


A

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Today’s Truth

Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered (Psalm 108:6 NIV).

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Back when jelly bracelets, Aqua Net hairspray, blue eyeshadow and parachute pants were a thing, I wrestled with frustration every time radio disc jockeys talked over the beginning or ending of a song.


Why?


Because before the days of digital, I used to record songs on audio cassettes with my handy-dandy cassette recorder so I could listen at leisure.


Truth be told, we technically did have the option to buy a 45 and spin the song, but I had very little money. So instead, I’d hover my pointer finger over the red-circled record button and wait for a popular song to come on the radio.


When the music began, I’d press the magic button, then dance giddy knowing I’d soon be able

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Today’s Truth

This I know: God is for me (Psalm 56:9 CSB).

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I often try to quiet fear by pretending it doesn’t exist. Clever… I know. But alas, it does exist and that’s not always a bad thing. To the contrary, it can actually keep us safe in the proper context. When my house was struck by lightning and lit with fire, fear sounded an emotional alarm, insisting that I escape – and fast. In this instance, fear was good. It kept me safe.


In many instances, however, fear is not good.


I’ve found that while it’s natural to be afraid at times – human, even – it’s best to not allow feelings of fear to consume and control large spaces of real estate in my heart. In Psalm 56, David handles

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Today’s Truth

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting (Psalm 104:19 ESV).

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Gravity. It’s not just the title of amazing songs written by John Mayer and Sara Bareilles, though I completely love both of these songs. Gravity is a mysterious force that holds the universe together. One that sustains flight and orbit. A force that cannot be seen yet cannot be denied. A bit similar to grace!


Gravity echoes the majesty and mystery of our unsearchable Creator. It’s a celestially adhesive influencer. Powerful. Essential. Incredible.


Here on the pale blue dot gravity keeps humanity grounded and presses fleshy body parts to plunge and sag with age. In the distance she spins the world on its axis and dances between the barrier of earth and sky.


The Psalmist wrote of it beautifully. “He set

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Today’s Truth

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

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The New Testament begins with the book of Matthew and showcases more drama than a Hallmark movie. The book starts off with a genealogy trail that leads from Abraham to the birth of Jesus. This list of names might make you yawn, but it’s actually really important – and even exciting. (Yes. You read that right!) It’s fascinating because it gives evidence to a family line that shows Jesus was a descendant of both Abraham and King David, thus fulfilling what the Old Testament predicted about the lineage of the Messiah.


Scandal steps onto the page in verse three of Matthew chapter one when a woman’s name shows up. (Traditionally, only the names of men appeared in these family

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Today’s Truth

But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked (Psalm 106:30 NIV).

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Phineas and Ferb was one of my absolute favorite cartoons when my kids were little. Seriously. The plots were intriguing, and the characters had whimsy, depth and layer-after-layer of peculiar personality. To top it off, they had a pet platypus named Perry who was actually a secret agent. Is that not epic?


This show was creatively crafted for children and parents. The writers of Phineas and Ferb didn’t forget that adults were watching too. They remembered us, and cleverly wove subtle humor into episodes that entertained both the littles and the larger humans who were in charge of the remote. Well played, writing team. Well played!


Aside from this likable cartoon character, Phinehas isn’t a name you hear much in

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Today’s Truth

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).

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My husband and I were in a waiting period. His company had gone through a merger and was collapsing positions and territories, which left his employment in jeopardy. For months we didn’t know if Brad would keep his job or if he’d need to find another one. During that time, we had to choose to trust God. And it wasn’t easy.


Choosing to trust God is so daily, isn’t it?


When I only looked at the “what-ifs” of Brad’s job situation – the possible unemployment, the stress of job-hunting, the financial strain of unemployment, and the uncertainty of the economy – my faith and God-confidence shook and waned. Fear and doubt knocked on the door of my heart, suitcases in

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Today’s Truth

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon (Psalm 92:12 NIV).

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There’s an abundance of palm trees in Israel. I’m not sure why that surprised me as we traveled throughout the Holy Land, but it did. Not only was I blown away by the populous palm presence, but I was also blown away that palm trees don’t just produce coconuts! Did you know this? There’s actually a type of palm that produces dates.


What? Yep. Date palms are all over Israel. Farm after farm of them. And here, my whole life I just gave palm trees coconut creds.


Silly, Gwen.


I learned a few other interesting insights about palms on the day we visited Magdala, an ancient city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, near the small, present day

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Today’s Truth

Today’s Truth Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings (Psalm 61:4 ESV)!

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Our boo boo bunny was pink and lived in the freezer. When my kids were small, I loved to take them to the park for play dates. Often there was at least a dab of drama, usually because someone got hurt. When they fell and skinned their knees, my littles didn’t run to their friends… they ran to me. They knew I would help clean up boo boos, get them a Toy Story bandage, wipe away their tears and hold them. Because I’m their mom. The one who loves them and could be trusted to care for them.


In Psalm 61:4, the psalmist cried to God saying that he longed to take refuge in the shelter of His wings.

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Today’s Truth

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed (Psalm 107:29 NIV).

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Some called it a teeter-totter, but I called it a seesaw and it was one of my favorite playground amenities in elementary school. There were always risks involved when it came to mounting a teeter-totter during recess. If you rode it with someone heavier than you, you struggled to touch your feet to the ground. If you rode it with someone lighter than you, you struggled to get off the ground. If you rode it with someone who was untrustworthy, they could ditch you while you’re in the air and send you crashing to the ground. The best rides on a teeter-totter back in the day were usually with a trusted friend who was about the same size.


Up

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Today’s Truth

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7 ESV).

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Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be afraid.


Case in point. I was a tween with pimples, long, lanky limbs, and an attitude the summer our family went to Ohio to visit friends who lived on a farm. I didn’t much care if these people were nice. I didn’t much care what activities we would do. It wasn’t the beach, and I was disappointed to be in Ohio for a vacation. (No offense, Ohio people.) But I heard they had horses, and that was enough to calm my grump a bit because I was giddy

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Today’s Truth

The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand (Psalm 121:5 NIV).

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The sun’s intensity pushed me toward any shaded spot I could find. We were just south of the Judean desert, close to the Dead Sea, in Israel. And it was H-O-T, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot. From the heights of Masada, we were able to see for miles. Beige and brown. An eye-full of arid. Heights and depths. Dust and dirt. Almost no life, save that of a few date palms. The smatterings of shade I found made the desert heat less draining and more bearable, but those pockets of reprieve were hard to come by.


The writer of Psalm 102 was looking for shade as well. (Pause now to read Psalm 102 in its entirety if possible!)


4 “My heart is suffering, withered like

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Today’s Truth

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary (Isaiah 50:4 NIV).

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I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t know your purpose, you’ll be distracted by the voices.” The same principle applies to the purpose of our words. Oh, how I wish I had this perfected. But I don’t. My words still put me to shame sometimes. It is only by the grace of God that I can speak in ways that honor God.


Without God’s intervention my sparky emotions can become a destructive force just looking for a place to happen. Especially with my family. But thankfully, God helps me when I look to Him. And when I go off track, the Lord convicts me… reminds me that I am His… that His Spirit is within me, and that His

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Today’s Truth

Have you ever felt lonely, scared, angry, confused and hurt all at the same time?  Ever felt like running away from a difficult situation?  I have.  There was a time, several years ago, when I wanted to run – hard and fast – from life as I knew it.  I had just birthed three babies in three  and a half years.  Then, to everybody’s surprise – especially mine – my husband got a promotion that moved our young family across the country to a place where we knew no one. I had two babies in diapers and one “big boy” struggling to say goodbye to his binky.  There was always a diaper to change, a mouth to feed or a

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Today’s Truth

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”


Psalm 91:1-2



 


 


Today’s Truth

Several months ago I went to Dallas to be interviewed on LIFE Today (with James and Betty Robison) and to write a few songs for my next CD. The genre of songs for this project is worship. I’m prayerfully writing these songs so that they might be sung by the church for the glory of God. I’m asking the LORD to breathe an anointing on each word and note so that the songs might be used to connect the heart of worshipers to the heart of the worthy One. Here’s one of my new favorites…


My Strength, My Song
by Jourdan Johnson & Gwen Smith


You speak to my weakness
You tell me Your grace is strength
Your power

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Today’s Truth

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. 5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.


Psalm 24:1-6, NIV



Amen


Today’s Truth

GiGs,


I’m humbled to share this interview that airs today on the Life Today TV program. Please join me in asking the LORD to bring many hearts to healing, hope and restoration through this testimony of redemption. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” (Psalm 107:2)


You can watch the program online here: http://lifetoday.org/video/from-broken-to-beautiful/



Feel free to share it with someone who might need to hear this word of hope.


In His Grip of Grace,


Gwen


 


Today’s Truth

May we never stop inviting the LORD to speak into our hearts.


Lord, please forgive us for the times when life gets so noisy that we forget to listen.
In Jesus Name, amen.




Today’s Truth

Today is a big day. Really big. CAPITAL LETTER BIG!! 😉 Why? Today our new, interactive GiG devotional book, TRUSTING GOD, A GIRLFRIEND IN GOD FAITH ADVENTURE releases. Woohoo! (Happy dance with us!)


God called Sharon, Mary and I to write this. We believe that the message of this book will bring women to a deeper place of faith because it is stuffed with Scriptures and stories that are purposed to connect the heart of each reader to the heart of God.


Because you are a friend to this ministry: we do life together. So that makes you the best people to share this book with those in your circle of influence! Bottom line: we need your help in getting the word

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Today’s Truth

There always seem to be a million voices vying for my attention. Can you relate? True confessions: I often choose good things instead of the Best thing. Instead of the Best One.


I wish it weren’t the case, but it is. I get easily distracted and frazzled. I never seem to satisfy my to-do list and I struggle with time management. It surprises me continually that God would choose to use a cluttered woman such as me. But His grace abounds. It reaches my most unfocused, unproductive heart places. Grace covers my mess and uncovers His faithfulness.


God’s loving goodness constantly draws me back to His peace.


Oh, how I want to live life in simple grace. To listen intently to the heartbeat

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8