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Posts by Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.

(Psalm 145:3, NASB)

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I fell in love with my husband Brad more than half-my-life ago, yet with twenty-seven years of marriage under our belt, there are still moments that I shake my head and wonder, “who is that man?”


And while I may not have every mystery about him solved, I DO know my husband. I know his voice, his touch, and his quirks. I can bear witness to his character, his personality, his strengths, weaknesses and ways.


The same is true about my relationship with God. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know God intimately. I talk with Him regularly in prayer. I’ve learned to hear the voice of His Spirit, to recognize His touch, and to understand many basic truths of

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Today’s Truth

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isaiah 43:1b-3a, NIV).

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Thunder cracked the sky when a lightning bolt ripped through the roof of our home, igniting a fire that redefined our normal that Tuesday night in March 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. Our neighbor Jeff ran across his yard to ours yelling a confirmation, “I think you got hit! I saw lightning hit your roof!”


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

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Today’s Truth

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19, NIV).

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Have you ever wanted to travel back in time to witness the celestial celebration that took place in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born? Now, I’m a bit fussy about fashion, but I’d even consider donning a shepherd’s garb and hanging out with a few sheep for that opportunity!


To see angels fill the sky, to hear the voice of God through the cries of a baby.


To catch a glimpse of the brilliant Star of David, and to satisfy my curiosity as to what exactly a host of heavenly angels sounds like.


To soak in the amazingness of it all.


Oh, and to talk to Mary!


Wouldn’t that be incredible to hear what she was thinking as she witnessed, and took part

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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).

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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 trauma 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 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 game

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Today’s Truth

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

(Matthew 6:33, NIV)

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When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was to twirl in the grass. With arms out-stretched, I’d spin around and around until I was silly-dizzy, and then fall to the ground with a giggly heart. It was thrilling, invigorating and a fun, simple way to spend a lazy summer day in the rolling hills of southwestern Pennsylvania.


Now that I’m older, I can’t handle spinning in circles. My body rejects any twisty endeavor. Nausea quickly sets in and reminds me that I’m not a young “spinny-girl” anymore.


Several years ago, while my family and I were at an amusement park, in an effort to gain favor in the eyes of my kids and earn

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Today’s Truth

For I know that my Redeemer lives.

(Job 19:25a, NIV)

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God can restore any life.


In the beginning, when rebellion collided with perfection and darkened the hearts of humanity, God set in motion a plan of redemption. His plan was Jesus – the one who gives beauty for ashes, comfort for mourning, and freedom to the shackled.


Scripture introduces us to a guy who experienced God’s redemption in deep ways. His name was Job. Job was a good man. I mean a really good man. No joke – the Bible says so! This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1b). He lived life the right way. He honored God, loved his family and was both faithful and patient. Good man.


You’d think that because Job

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Today’s Truth

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

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My husband and I recently started a new business. While our optimism is high, the days have been long, and the learning curve has been brutal. We’re 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 mentor on the regular, desperate for direction and understanding. Who should we use for payroll? What should our employee orientation and trainings include? What forms are essential for a client intake?


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

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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)

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You would think she had just won the lottery the way she was screaming and jumping up in 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 very 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 in 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

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Today’s Truth

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

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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. The outbursts are

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Today’s Truth

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

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The prophet Isaiah said, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor is his ear to dull to hear.” (Isaiah 59:1) Though I know in my heart this is true, I still sometimes go back and forth between trust 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 are grown. Mine are teens. Her daughter just got married. My oldest just went to college. Mama to mama we shared and cared.


“My daughter and her new husband might

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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)

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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 our vows were exchanged. 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 action lawsuits, private

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Today’s Truth

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)

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Okay. As much as I HATE to use the bathroom on airplanes, on this particular flight it just simply couldn’t be helped. The water bottle that I’d drank on the way to the airport, combined with the several essential cups of morning coffee mandated the mid-flight excursion. So, at about 30,000 feet up – somewhere over rural Alabama – I unbuckled and walked the narrow, balance-beam aisle to the rear of the aircraft.


After tapping a chatty, aisle-strewn gentleman to squeeze by, I entered the shoebox lavatory. Upon closing the folding door my eyes adjusted to the incandescent lighting, and I began to prepare for my nature call. Then it happened.


A tiny “Pop!”


And the button on the top of

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Today’s Truth

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

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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 waters’ edge, cares for wee-little humans like you and me.


The very thought of it leaves me breathing deep, 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 on

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Today’s Truth

“I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.” (Psalm 119:174, NIV)

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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, and his loved ones, way more than he anticipated.


Initially, the evil White Witch was shocked by Edmund’s presence in Narnia, but she quickly implemented a crafty plan to destroy him, and her plan of destruction 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

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Today’s Truth

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

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A nasty storm had blown through. Lots of thunder and lightning. Buckets of wetness. The Twitter feed from our local fire department alerted us to the dangers of high winds and encouraged the community to hunker down at home until the storm passed.


The next morning our grass was vibrant green from the watering, but the yard was a disaster. Leaves and sticks were a blanket. I grabbed coffee and caught up on a few tweets that the fire department had sent out following the storm.


One of the tweeted photo-updates gave me chills. In the middle of a neighborhood just a few miles away, a tree had been uprooted by the strong winds and it annihilated a car. Crushed

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Today’s Truth

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:3, ESV)

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My son Hunter had been home from school for days on end following the concussion he sustained in a high school basketball game. In an effort to occupy his time productively, he picked up an old interest one afternoon and invited me to join in.


The interest? Graphology.


Yep. I was pretty excited too. Wait … no. No, I wasn’t. Not really. But I strapped on my mama smile and obliged him by doing what he asked: write three random sentences on a blank sheet of paper.


He left the room with my sentences and spent well over an hour doing a thorough analysis of my handwriting. He evaluated, measured, and contrasted the angles of each letter. He observed the way

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Today’s Truth

The Lord is with me; He is my helper.”

(Psalm 118:7)

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I’m not sure enough can be said about the goodness of God’s love. The psalmist celebrates it time and again in both Psalm 117 and 118. “For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” (Psalm 117:2)


The more we know the depth of God’s love, the more courage we have to rise up in times of trial, confident in His faithfulness and strength. “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.” (Psalm

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Today’s Truth

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

(Psalm 133:1)

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I’ve got lots of opinions, not gonna lie. You do too, right? I’ll go even one step further by assuming that your opinions and my opinions are not perfectly in sync. Agreed?


Differences of opinion among people 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 got thrown into a situation once that caused some harm and confusion. The perception and convictions of another was pressed upon us, and the consequences were anything but peaceful. Much of

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Today’s Truth

I love the Lord, because He hears [and continues to hear] my voice and my supplications (my pleas, my cries, my specific needs).

(Psalm 116:1, AMP)

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“He left me on read.” “She left me on open.” These are a few phrases young people use to describe when they’ve reached out to someone on social media, via direct message or text and the person never responded.


They aren’t positive statements. They’re expressions of frustration about a snubbing-situation of sorts that leaves many a young heart swirling with insecurities, feelings of rejection, and questions. Why? They wonder. Why would she not answer me? Why would he ignore my message?


I’ve seen this scenario seriously stir the pot of teen emotions up close and personally over the years. And, in some ways, I’ve felt tinges of this myself.


We all want to be heard.


We want to be understood, cared about,

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Today’s Truth

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

(Colossians 3:17)

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Having played division one college volleyball doesn’t usually affect my ministry opportunities. Most women’s ministry directors that invite me to participate in their conferences care primarily about my speaking, Bible teaching and worship leading skills, not my ball handling, vertical jump and net skills. But over the years, I have had some pretty cool niche ministry invitations due to my athletic experience.


Case in point, when my daughter Kennedy was in middle school, I spoke and led worship for an FCA volleyball camp in Georgia several summers in a row. It was the best. Kennedy joined me and we made a mommy-daughter adventure of it. She attended as a camper; had great small group time, meaningful corporate worship moments,

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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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John the Baptist told God’s people to “prepare the way for the Lord” … to purify their hearts and get ready for Jesus to come, redeem, restore, heal, love, challenge, and change the world. (Matthew 3:3)


I read this and smile because I like preparing things. I like to cook. I love hosting gatherings, planning party details, and preparing for guests. My son recently graduated from high school and I spent countless hours prepping for the celebration we had in his honor. It 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

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Today’s Truth

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

(Romans 12:21 NIV)

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It’s recorded in the book of Genesis that at the dawn of creation God made the heavens and the earth, separated light from darkness, and that everything was good. Then He held the sky away from the water, established day and night, and it was good. Next He spoke the land, seas, sun, moon and stars into existence, and again all good. He went on to fill the earth with fish, birds, and animals, and fashion man in His own image … and it was good, good, good and good. Then He rested – which we ALL know is awesome. Amen? Amen.


Peace covered the earth like a warm blanket.


God had a perfect relationship with all that He created.

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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)

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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

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

(Colossians 2:6-7)

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Sir Isaac Newton wrote a book that was published in 1687 called The Principia: Mathematical Principle of Natural Philosophy. In this book, Newton unpacks research that redefined the way the world looks at science and physics. One of the three Laws of Motion he wrote about is this: an object in motion tends to remain in motion unless an external force is applied to it.


Interestingly enough, this particular law of motion presents a compelling analogy for increasing growth and progressing toward mature faith. When it comes to growing in spiritual maturity, the most important thing to do is getting started. Once you begin to move, it is much easier to stay in motion. To progress. To mature.


Motivation often

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Today’s Truth

The eyes of every-one in the synagogue were fastened on him.

(Luke 4:18, 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 joint, I relish the transfer of goods that conveniently finds its way to my front door. Oh! 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

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Today’s Truth

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

(Psalm 107:29)

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Some called it a teeter-totter, but I always 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

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Today’s Truth

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 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 4:7-9)

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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. It was a difficult time. From Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York to North Carolina, we made our way across the East Coast with three little ducklings in tow. Back then, the uncertainty of tomorrow caused me a great deal of stress. A certain muscle in my back is twitching just thinking about it.


The chaos began when we lived in

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Today’s Truth

The wisdom from above is first of all pure.

(James 3:17a, NLT)

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All throughout the Bible, we see that wisdom is the real deal when it comes to spiritual must-haves. I like to think of it as the little black dress of faith. An essential must-have for every Christian woman to possess and wear. And surely one that we all look good in!


But in today’s world, it can be tricky to make wise decisions and choices. We’re surrounded by foolish and conflicting messages. Messages that oppose the wisdom of God as revealed in Scripture. We get hit from all sides with opinions, posts, and tweets about what people have and want and do—and about what people think is right and wrong.


They write it on signs and walk picket lines in

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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

For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.

Psalm 109:22

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Some dog owners teach their pups to attack, pursue or chase someone by using the command, “Sic ‘em!” This short, sharp prompt gives dogs permission to aggressively pounce on an enemy or targeted individual.


I sensed this type of request from David to God as I read Psalm 109.


My God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
2 for people who are wicked and deceitful
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
5 They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.
(Psalm 109:1-5)


Having been betrayed by people in his community, David was furious with the

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Today’s Truth

You are precious and honored in my sight.

(Isaiah 43:4a, NIV)

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Years ago, I bought my daughter a really cute jacket at the mall. It was a hoodie made of a cuddly fabric with cream, lavender, and mint green horizontal stripes. The jacket zipped up in the front and was well crafted, stylish, and simply adorable.


When I bought it, I felt like the price on the tag was a fair one, so I gladly pulled out my wallet and paid the retail amount. I was a kid in a candy store on the way home – fully anticipating a shriek of happiness from my little bag-of-beans when I gave it to her.


I wasn’t disappointed. Kennedy loved her new coat, and I was pleased with my purchase. Happy dances all

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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)

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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

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

(Isaiah 43:2a, NIV)

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Sometimes we come face-to-face with bad and even tragic news that we never saw coming. Life can turn us upside down at a moment’s notice, leaving us spinning and searching for answers.


Ever been there?


“We just picked up your son for drunk driving.”


“I want a divorce.”


“Your position has been terminated.”


“Your electricity has been shut off until you make a payment on your bill.”


“You haven’t been accepted into our program.”


“I’m sorry, there has been an accident …”


In 2013 our family received some unexpected blisterings …


“You have a polyp on your right vocal cord and a nodule on your left vocal cord. In addition to that, Mrs. Smith, your esophagus is yellow and inflamed because of acid reflux. I know you

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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)

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When my son, Hunter, was ten years old, he came to me one night with a humble confession. He said that because he hasn’t been spending much time with God lately, he has been grumpier and grumpier. He quietly admitted that 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 with his behaviors … recognizing that there was a direct correlation in his life.


Boy, can I relate!


Tears welled up in my eyes as we talked it through.


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

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Today’s Truth

But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked.

(Psalm 106:30)

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Phineas and Ferb was one of my absolute favorite cartoon shows 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? I mean, c’mon! I want me a secret agent pet platypus too!


It was one of those shows clearly and creatively crafted for both children and their parents. The writers of Phineas and Ferb didn’t forget the fact that mom and dad were watching. They remembered us, and cleverly wove subtle humor into episodes that entertained the littles as well as the larger humans who

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Today’s Truth

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

(Colossians 2:6-7)

Friend to Friend


Sir Isaac Newton wrote a book that was published in 1687 called The Principia: Mathematical Principle of Natural Philosophy. In this book, Newton unpacks research that redefined the way the world looks at science and physics. One of the three Laws of Motion he wrote about is this: an object in motion tends to remain in motion unless an external force is applied to it.


Interestingly enough, this particular law of motion presents a compelling analogy for increasing growth and progressing toward mature faith. When it comes to growing in spiritual maturity, the most important thing to do is getting started.


Once you begin to move, it is much easier to stay in motion.


To progress.


To mature.


Motivation often follows the simple

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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)

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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, I was blown away that palm trees don’t just produce coconuts! Did you know this? There’s actually a type of palm that produces dates too.


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

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

(John 14:13, NIV)

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A few years ago, I was on my way home from running errands. As I approached our neighborhood, my cell phone rang.


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


“Hey, baby! I ran some errands and will 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?”


Oh. No. She. Didn’t!


Don’t say ‘no’? I thought. Really? C’mon girl. I’m the parent. You’re the child. Get a grip.


What I said to her was, “Honey, we are several weeks away from swim season. I’m not sure that today is a

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Today’s Truth

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.

(Psalm 100:4)

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Sometimes I don’t feel like going to church. Yeah, I know. I’m probably not supposed to admit that. But it’s true. Even still, it’s amazing how my heart shifts once I’ve positioned myself in His presence. It happens when I read the Bible and get with Jesus on my own as well.


I could go to God mad at my man. (Happens.) I could go to God frustrated with my kids. (Hap- pens.) I could go to God wounded by others. (Happens.) Yet, when my gaze turns from my frazzled to my Freedom… from my distance to my Deliverer … from my mountain to my Mountain Maker… from my anger to my Answer, everything changes.


Every. Time.


Grief yields to gratitude.

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Today’s Truth

The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

(Psalm 121:5)

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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 is looking for shade as well.


1 Lord, hear my prayer;
let my cry for help come before you.
2 Do not hide your face from

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Today’s Truth

The Lord has made his victory known.

(Psalm 98:2, CSB)

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“I got a call back!”


This statement can mean different things to different people depending on the context. To an actor or actress, this is a declaration of excitement that stirs up dreams, desires, aspirations and goals. To a woman who just had a mammogram, this is an expression of concern that stirs up fears, unknowns and anxiety.


Context matters.


It shapes the narrative of the story being told.


Psalm 98 helps me to see the matters of my heart, the matters of my now, the matters of my heavy, in the context of eternity. These verses establish a narrative where the context of life is eternal, not temporal. They establish a narrative where the bigness of my circumstances shrink when placed

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Today’s Truth

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

(Acts 16:25, NIV)

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Trials can lead us to a greater dependency on God and a deeper trust in His sovereignty if we let them. In every situation I come to a crossroad and have a choice: I can pout, or I can praise.


I can turn away from God because I don’t understand, or I can turn toward God confident His understanding is enough for the both of us – even if it hurts – even if anger lingers – even if doubt looms.


Have you been to these crossroads?


God shows us a powerful example of praise-over-pout behavior in chapter sixteen of the book of Acts. During the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his ministry buddy Silas encountered a collision of

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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)

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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

How Awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth.

(Psalm 47:2)

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My husband, Brad, and I celebrated 20 years of marriage by taking a trip to several cities, far away. We planned our days and 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 up creaky, dusty, windy staircases of old cathedrals and up small steps in tall buildings. We climbed fancy-schmancy staircases in opulent castles, up ancient stone staircases

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Today’s Truth

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

(Isaiah 53:5)

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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

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…

(James 1:2, NIV)

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Several years ago I bought a box of Cheerios that came with a free children’s book. The little book that came with the O’s had a darling and oh-so-prickly little varmint on the front cover. The title? How Do You Hug a Porcupine?


The story is about a young boy who witnessed a bunch of his friends hugging a myriad of animals. They hugged dogs, bunnies, cats, horses, cows… you get the picture… all cuddly and relatively safe.


All the while, the young boy was wondering how he could hug a porcupine. The main character tried several creative ways to affectionately approach his quilled friend. He didn’t want to get hurt, so at first he dawned some baseball catcher’s gear,

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Today’s Truth

Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

(Matthew 11:30, MSG)

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I had just arrived at my favorite coffee shop. As I opened the door, the smell of freshly brewed java greeted me and filled my creative mind with possibilities. I was eager to get to work and excited that my warm, happy coffee-friend would come along with me for the ride. As I grabbed a cup from the counter and paid, I asked the barista how she was doing.


“I’m exhausted!” She lamented with a sigh.


I knew exactly how she felt.


I feel that way a lot!


I’m famous for trying to put ten pounds of living into a five-pound sack.


She was tired. Stressed. Drained. Over-committed. Under-rested. Exhausted.


Yep. I totally know that feeling.


Have you been there? Ha! Of course you have!

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Today’s Truth

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”

(Lamentations 3:24, ESV)

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I sometimes run to God as if He’s a celestial Target store, purposed to satisfy my every want and craving…


Change my family.


Fix my job problem, God.


Do it my way!  


Instead of leaning in to hear the whispered will of the Lord, I selfishly shout my will, my desires and my demands.


Lord, give me relief from life-pressures instead of giving me strength to endure them.  


When I’m desperate to fill my mega-sized heart-cart with things that I want, I rob myself of what really matters: the pursuit of God and the blessings found in Him alone.


The truth is that even those of us who are Jesus-girls, you know… good Christian women who strive each day to live

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Today’s Truth

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

(Lamentations 3:24, ESV)

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I am a lot of things, but low maintenance is not necessarily one of them. Straight up, I am a girl with some constant cravings. Though I try to savor life moments with gratitude, I fail all the time.


Many days, I find myself looking beyond my now to my next, longing in discontent. I seek God’s blessings instead of seeking God. I seek His hand instead of His heart. This frazzles my peace and messes with my joy. It tangles my heart in knots until I begin to dance through my days to the tune of, “I can’t get no satisfaction!”
Why do we desire God’s presents in our lives more than His presence?


Isn’t that what we do when

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Today’s Truth

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.

(Psalm 37:23, ESV)

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God used a crock-pot that day.


Not mine – hers.


Her: the casual friend I ran into at the grocery store who looked put together on the outside but was pulled apart on the inside by a heart-wound that dripped of fear, insecurity, and doubt.


She was at the store because her crock-pot mysteriously didn’t work that day. Though it had been loaded in the morning, the chicken was not edible come dinnertime because it was still raw. Her crock-pot was turned on and plugged in, but never heated up.


It was time to feed my people and I was in a rush to grab what I needed. Always a rush.


We met at the corner of eggs and pretzels.


It wasn’t a coincidence.

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Today’s Truth

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

(Micah 6:8 NIV)

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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 older, 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, but it’s a rarity. And I miss it.


I love locking fingers with my people. There’s a beauty and intimacy to it. A tangible

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Today’s Truth

Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come.

(Proverbs 31:25)

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For years I loved watching a makeover show called What Not To Wear. On each episode, two professional fashion experts worked with a fashion-mistake-maker, threw away or donated all that was wrong with their pathetic, what-were-you-thinking wardrobes, and taught them how to select garments and a hairstyle appropriate for their shape, coloring, lifestyle, personality and workplace.


It was fascinating to watch the makeover-target light up when they finally stepped into the look and style that best showcased the person they really were on the inside and wanted to be on the outside.


Tears were usually shed, often on my sappy, I’m-so-happy-for-her couch, and confidence always rose in the heart of the one who’d finally learned the right clothes to wear.


At

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Today’s Truth

My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress and I will never be shaken.

(Psalm 62:1-2)

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In Psalm 62 the phrase “I will never be shaken” appears twice and pops up like 3D on a flat surface. Who says this type of thing? What’s behind such a statement of confidence?


David wrote Psalm 62 when he was on the run. Literally.


His own son, Absalom, was trying to kill him in order to take his throne. Nice. Talk about a prodigal child! Ugh.


Absalom’s rebellion was reckless and ruthless. Yet, in the thick of this difficult, dangerous situation, David didn’t complicate matters by freaking out – like I often do. Instead, he called out to God simply, with what appears to be a calm courage.


“My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him.

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Today’s Truth

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

(Isaiah 40:30-31, NIV)

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There’s a scene in the whimsical and quirky film The Princess Bride in which some bad guys were chasing the movie’s two main characters, Princess Buttercup and Wesley. In order to escape, Buttercup and Wesley ran into the treacherous Fire Swamp. (Insert scary music and creepy feelings here.)


The Fire Swamp has three challenges: fire spurts, quicksand, and the ROUS – rodents of unusual size. (Stay with me…)


At one point in the Fire Swamp adventure, Princess Buttercup fell into a pit of dry quicksand, instantly vanishing. Her brave hero, Wesley, quickly grabbed a sturdy vine then plunged in to save his true love. Moments later both characters emerged from the quicksand gasping for breath, stunned by the events that

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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 co-pay 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’ve 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 examining 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

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NIV)

(2 Corinthians 1:20, NIV)

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When my son, Preston, was in sixth grade he chose to plant spinach for his science fair project.


He planted seeds in four plastic cups and watered each batch with a fixed daily amount of four different liquids: water, orange juice, cola, and milk. (Yes, you are correct! By day three of his fourteen-day project, the milk cup reeked to high heavens with a stinky-sour smell!)


His hypothesis was that he believed the seeds watered with water would grow faster than the seeds that were watered by orange juice, cola and milk.


Once his hypothesis was determined, he and I (his faithful mommy-research-assistant) diligently went about the task of collecting data, watering the seeds, taking pictures, and documenting his findings. The

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Today’s Truth

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.

(Psalm 96:8a)

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Long, long ago in a land far away, there lived a young girl in a house full of children, all of whom had to entertain themselves. During summers, this young girl and her siblings were booted after breakfast to play in the yard, at the community pool, with friends or on a ball field. If the weather was nice, she, her brothers and sisters were permitted to go inside their house for lunch and dinner… and little else. (Or so it seemed.)


When car rides were long, the squad of sibs played games like “I Spy,” “Punch Buggy,” “License Plate Scavenger Hunt” and “Hangman.” Occasionally, however, their mom would buy them a frivolously fanciful fill-in-the-blank book that she’d store

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Today’s Truth

All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols. (Psalm 97:7)

(Psalm 97:7)

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The mug in my hand was filled with warm, dark roasted incentive. I cozied onto my favorite couch corner, breathing in the quiet of dawn. Prayer-whispers rose to heaven as I settled my heart before the All-worthy One. I was desperate for God’s presence and power to fuel another busy day.


To my surprise and great delight, as I cracked open the Good Book a tiny distraction flew into my peripheral vision. A hummingbird had made its way over to the orchid arrangement on the side table of the deck outside. The artificial orchid arrangement.


The nourishment that little flyer sought could not be found in a plastic and silk imposter, so the hummingbird flew away. I smiled and shook

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Today’s Truth

They did not remember your many kindnesses.

(Psalm 106:7)

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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 adorably 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,

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Today’s Truth

He must increase, but I must decrease.

(John 3:30, ESV)

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I once listened to a talk on the foundations of contemporary discipleship given by scholar and apologist Ravi Zacharias. Toward the end of his lecture, Ravi spoke of a conversation he had with a former Muslim who had become a Christian. The gentleman humbly explained to Mr. Zacharias that there is a compelling contrast between the way he was taught as a Muslim to view faith and the way he sees faith being perceived in the lives of many Christians.


He drew a circle and a small dot inside the circle.


After this, he drew another circle and a small dot in the other circle.


Then he told Ravi that since he’d become a Christian, what he sees is that the

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Today’s Truth

The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.

(Proverbs 13:20, CSB)

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Who we hang out with is a big deal. “One bad apple can spoil the bunch.” Remember that old saying? Well, I found out it’s actually true about apples! Here’s the deal. There’s a gas that’s a “fruit-ripening hormone” called ethylene. In apples, the level of ethylene gas rises continually as they ripen, go through their life cycles, and eventually rot. Because the release of ethylene gas increases as an apple rots, it accelerates the ripening (and rotting) of all the apples in close proximity to the rotting one. (Yay! Biology!) Don’t fall asleep on me.


Another old saying with a similar sentiment is this, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”


Some say, “Show me your

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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)

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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

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

(Psalm 86:11, NIV)

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“Mom! We have to go buy sponge rollers! They’re incredible! Last night, before we went to bed, Mrs. Robertson rolled our hair in sponge rollers and when we woke up this morning our hair was curly! Can you believe it? My hair was curly!”


My flaxen haired little girl bounced with uncontainable effervescence.


I’d been out of town at an event. Gone just one night. While I was away, my then eight-year-old daughter, Kennedy, had spent the night at her girlfriend Catherine’s house. I came home to a groundswell of youthful enthusiasm.


“Wow! That’s pretty exciting, Kennedy,” I replied amused. “I used sponge rollers when I was a little girl too… but I wasn’t a big fan. They made my head

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Today’s Truth

Remember the wonders he has done.

(Psalm 105:5, NIV)

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Ants have been known to ruin a picnic or two, but a while back they messed up my beach time and flustered my heart.


Yeah. I know. God made ants to live on the earth and we have to share space. I get that. I just wasn’t prepared for my first afternoon away from home to be altered by the annoyance of their small yet mighty presence.


I’d really been looking forward to vacation and wanted to relax. To sit by the shoreline, chill out in peace, and soak in the sun with my people. I wanted to enjoy the presence of God in the glory of His creation, not flick uninvited ants away from my towel and off my

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Today’s Truth

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

(Luke 2:19, ESV)

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On the night that 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

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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)

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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 recently got all three of our young-adult children settled into college and are now figuring out how to settle into a new season with just each other. We left huge portions of our hearts in each dorm room and apartment.


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,

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Today’s Truth

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

(Hebrews 12:2a, NIV)

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Several years ago, I was invited to speak and sing in Tennessee at a women’s event. I was extra excited because my daughter Kennedy was able to join me. The two of us are all about “mommy-daughter time” so we were all smiles as we started off on the three and a half hour drive.


Prior to the trip, I had given Kennedy permission to use my iPad to watch a movie. Once we hit the highway, she got cozy with her pillow, her headphones went on, and her attention became fixed on the rectangular screen in front of her. Random giggles floated from my little movie-watcher as I drove and prayed for the event we were heading to.


It

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Today’s Truth

...holiness adorns Your house for endless days, O Lord.

(Psalm 93:5, NIV)

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After lightning struck and the fire destroyed seventy percent of my home, we rebuilt. Every item seared, soaked and smoked was lifted and sifted. Ashes were removed. All things broken and tattered were excavated and evaluated in pursuit of total renewal and restoration.


Then a new plan was put in place.


A plan paved with promise and purpose.


It was time to rebuild. Time for prayers of protection and direction. Time for beauty to rise. Time for fresh peace and paint to adorn rooms that had been wrecked by a storm that brought fire.


Echoes of healing and hope filled the hallways of home with each swing of the hammer and hanging of drywall.


Relief and resilience rose as painters brushed beams and

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Today’s Truth

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits

(Psalm 103:2 ESV)

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Llamas are a thing lately. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a llama on a book, card or wall art. And I’m good with that. This mama loves llamas! Llamas are like sunshine on a cloudy day.


With my llama-love in mind, you can imagine the effervescent excitement going down in my heart when Julie told me there was a llama on the grounds of the conference center where I was speaking.


“We can go see him right now if you want,” she offered from behind the wheel.


Ummm… YES, PLEASE!


And off we went to see the llama!


It had rained for several days before my arrival, so the path to the pasture was pretty icky with mud. Undeterred, Julie

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Today’s Truth

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

(Psalm 94:18)

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I can fall with the best of them. Really. It’s almost a spiritual gift for me. When I was in second grade, Mr. Traynor came once a week to take me out of Mrs. Bryan’s classroom for an “extra phys-ed class.” I loved getting out of bookwork to juggle beanbags and play fun games with Mr. Traynor in the gym and I thought it was so cool that I had the privilege of extra playtime. Yay me.


Years later I learned that “Mr. Traynor time” was actually a special school program to help kids with under-developed coordination. Yay me. Ahem.


Back in those young, uncoordinated days of mine, my family vacationed at the south Jersey shore. We stayed in a

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Today’s Truth

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

(Psalm 105:1, ESV)

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In the year 1925, a Kentucky native named Thomas Chisholm put pen to paper and wrote the lyric to a song titled, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” History tells us he wrestled with health challenges and worked humbly behind a desk as an insurance agent, likely causing him to feel average and ordinary on most days, much like you and me.


Yet, in spite of the mundane, messy and miniscule matters of Thomas Chisholm’s life, he celebrated and savored the significance of God’s unfailing faithfulness when he wrote this song. A hymn of hope that’s been an anthem of gratitude now for decades.


Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy

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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.


He set the earth on its foundations,
so that

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Today’s Truth

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.

(Psalm 91:5, NIV)

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Basketball is a game of hustle, teamwork and strategy, all of which I love. My introduction to the sport, however, was a good bit lame and un-strategic. Not sure why, but my parents signed me up for a rec league team in the fifth grade where I was the only girl on my team. Possibly the only girl in the league.


Now, before you go waving your girl-power pompoms and break out in resounding choruses of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, let me assure you it was neither pretty, powerful or pompom worthy, because at that point I knew more about quantum physics than the game of basketball. Yep. I knew nothing. And it frustrated me to no end that they wouldn’t allow

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Today’s Truth

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

(Psalm 95:2)

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It’s not every day you come close to death. Especially when you’re young. It was a beautiful spring day in Akron, Ohio. I’d just gotten off work and was excited to meet with a manager of the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner for my wedding would be held. One of my bridesmaids and best friends was going with me and we planned to sample several items to select the final menu.


Michele worked just down the road from me, so we met up in the parking lot of my workplace then she followed behind my car in hers as we headed to dinner. The restaurant was in an area called “the valley,” and there was a long, steep hill

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Today’s Truth

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

(2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

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Karen was a godly woman who lost her battle to cancer. In spite of the medical struggles she faced, and the pain that terrorized her body, Karen’s faith was immovable. She knew God to be her refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). Her unwavering faith inspired a community of believers, as she held strong to the very end. Though many prayed for Karen to be healed of cancer, God’s answer was “no.”


As she said goodbye to all she loved here on earth, Karen was comforted in knowing that she worshiped a risen Savior who was familiar with suffering. She held tight to Jesus, and because she did her life boasted of God’s glory.


It

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Today’s Truth

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love.” (Psalm 62:11-12)

(Psalm 62:11-12)

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In the summer of 2002, Shira and Joey Arnold were delighted to learn that they were expecting their first child. They excitedly shared the news with family and friends as they began to plan for their new family. Weeks later, however, Shira and Joey got dream-shattering news. Routine tests at the doctor’s office revealed that their baby was not developing correctly. The couple was advised by medical professionals to consider termination of the pregnancy.


They adamantly refused.


Though Shira and Joey grieved deeply when they heard the news, they determined to trust in God and prayed for a miracle. Little Cayden was born blind, deaf, lame, and with only half a brain. The doctors had expected him to live only

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Today’s Truth

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

(Ephesians 1:18, NLT)

Friend to Friend


I was in Illinois. My husband was in North Carolina. I am usually the video girl, but Brad stepped up to film our daughter’s volleyball tournament since I couldn’t be there.


I had shown him how to operate the camera and how to set up the tripod. He had filmed several matches before and had done a great job, so I was surprised when I got his phone call.


HIM: Honey! The match is about to start, but the camera is telling me that it is too dark to record. I’m not sure what to do. Got any ideas?


ME: This is just a guess, but I think you might need to take the lens cap off.


HIM: {Laughing} Oh my. Okay.

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Today’s Truth

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

(Isaiah 40:30-31, NIV)

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There’s a scene in the whimsical and quirky film The Princess Bride in which some bad guys were chasing the movie’s two main characters, Buttercup and Wesley. In order to escape, Buttercup and Wesley ran into the treacherous Fire Swamp. (Insert scary music and creepy feelings here.)


The Fire Swamp has three challenges: fire spurts, quicksand, and the ROUS – rodents of unusual size. (Stay with me…) At one point in the Fire Swamp adventure, Buttercup fell into a pit of dry quicksand, instantly vanishing. Her brave hero, Wesley, quickly grabbed a sturdy vine then plunged in to save his true love. Moments later both characters emerged from the quicksand gasping for breath, stunned by the events that just

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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)

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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 child, 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” (v. 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

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Today’s Truth

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

(Romans 13:12)

Friend to Friend


When you grow up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and summer yields to fall, you root for the Steelers. It’s not even an option. It’s culture. You bleed black and gold. The home team binds every borough, city and suburb into a greater community that r09-23-19-Monday-GSises in unison to wave Terrible Towels and high five complete strangers. In the stadium, in the grocery stores, in the workplace… anywhere.


To this day, even though I’m now a Carolina girl, when I see any random person in public wearing Steelers gear, I see family… and I stroll over to chat with them as if we graduated from high school together.


Yinz guys. Not even kidding. Rilly. We Steelers fans love our team fiercely.


And we

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Today’s Truth

God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

(1 Timothy 6:15b-16)

Friend to Friend


It was shockingly early when the alarm clock invaded my dreams, screaming at me to wake up that morning. Even the sun was still sleeping as I rose. With heavy eyelids and a groggy mind, I crawled out from beneath the cuddly warmth of my bed and ventured downstairs.


The kids had set their alarm clocks as well. We trickled down, one sleepy Smith at a time, and met in our jammies for the big event. It was April 29, 2011. Prince William and Catherine Middleton were about to be married and we were giddy-excited to watch it live from the cozy comfort of our living room couch.


It was worth the early wake-up just to see the hats that

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Today’s Truth

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.

(Luke 10:1-2)

Friend to Friend


I had been reading through the book of Luke and freshly looking at how Jesus interacted with people. How he responded to their interruptions. How he reacted to their pain. How he met their spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. Jesus was quite the man of action.


When people encountered Jesus they were changed and challenged, healed and helped. They longed for His presence in each town and looked for His purpose in each teaching.


Jesus fed the hungry, healed the diseased and paralyzed, ate with sinners, cared for the children, and just plain showed compassion in crazy-practical ways. What an amazing picture of love. A perfect picture of love. Perfect love: Jesus.


Perfect love cares.


Perfect love makes time for the interruptions

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Today’s Truth

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

(Psalm 147:4, NIV)

Friend to Friend


One day when my kids were little and playing with Play-Dough at the kitchen table, they enthusiastically called me over to view their creative masterpieces. I noticed that my son Hunter had used a small cookie cutter to make a bunch of blue stars. As I looked at the work of his small hands, I was reminded of a Bible verse. So I asked them, “Did you guys know that the Bible talks about stars? It says that God made all of the stars in the sky and has named each one!” (Psalm 147:4)


Without hesitation my daughter Kennedy, who was five years old at the time, excitedly responded, “Like George, Junior, and Kelsey?”


After the laughter waned we had

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Today’s Truth

“...Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

(Matthew 26:10, NIV)

Friend to Friend
I am completely crazy about cool jewelry, so when the Lord prompted me to take off my favorite necklace and give it to the woman who had just admired it, I tried to pretend I didn’t hear Him.


“It’s mine, God!” I reasoned. “It isn’t replaceable! Why would ask me to do that?”


My self-plan didn’t like the God-plan that was laid out before me.


He was asking me to give up something that meant a lot to me. And the nudging didn’t even make sense. It seemed crazy. Unnecessary.


Reluctantly, I chose to obey even though I didn’t want too.


Moments later God softened my childish heart as the woman wept at the Lord’s blessing. Selfish thoughts faded to deep, humble joy

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Today’s Truth

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

(Isaiah 49:15-16, NIV)

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I’ll be the first to admit that I am a woman who is easily distracted. More times than I care to even discuss. Sigh. I would love to say that the detail-oriented-woman in me rocks my days, but that’s not always the case. One crazy day, a few years back, the absent-minded-scatter-brain in me dominated big time. Here’s what happened…


After I dropped my kids off at school, I swung into the local gas station and ran inside to prepay. I handed the cashier forty dollars in cash and headed out the door to pump my gas. As I left the mini-mart, I held the door for the woman behind me. As she passed in front of me, we

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Today’s Truth

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

Exodus 4:11-12, NIV

Friend to Friend
On the far side of a desert, high upon the Mountain of God, a voice called out to Moses from within a curious, fiery bush. He had been tending the sheep of his father-in-law’s flock – going about his normal day-in-day-out tasks on the day that God spoke to him from the flames. On the day that God called Moses to a fresh and fiery mission. A mission of deliverance.


Once a noble prince of Egypt with the world at his feet, he had become a lowly shepherd with dust on his sandals. His crown had been traded in for a staff. The palace days were far behind Moses now. He fled them because of what he had done.

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Today’s Truth

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 62:5

Friend to Friend


There’s a scene in Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope – where Princess Leia, Hans Solo, Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker find themselves on the detention level of the Death Star in a trash compactor whose walls are closing in quickly. Their efforts to slow the walls down were ineffective. Leia and Hans tried every way conceivable to brace the walls with something to stop the progression of eminent death. Chewbacca tried to use brute force. Steel poles were snapped like toothpicks as Luke desperately called out to C3PO on his com-link to shut the system down.


Meanwhile, in another area of the Death Star, C3PO thought that Storm Troopers might have captured the crew, but he couldn’t

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Today’s Truth

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations…

1 Samuel 8:19-20a

Friend to Friend


It was spring break and we were home. Social media posts of friends were showcasing sandy beaches, yummy meals, and fancy-schmancy hotel lobbies and pools. I was doing laundry, finishing up my taxes and wrestling with cravings stirred by the glittery things “everybody else” was eating and doing.


As I turned to the Word of God I was reminded that none of this is new. I was also reminded and convicted that looking at and longing for what other people have, are, and do is NOT God’s best for me.


In the Bible, the Lord used a strand of strugglers just like you and me. I’m so glad about that. Aren’t you?


The book of 1 Samuel introduces us to a

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Today’s Truth

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.

Proverbs 1:7, ESV

Friend to Friend


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 of my parents who lived on a farm. I didn’t much care if these people were nice. I didn’t much care what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. It wasn’t the beach, and I wasn’t overly thrilled to be in Ohio for a vacation. (No offense, Ohio people.) But I had heard they had horses, and that calmed my

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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

“Long ago the Lord said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.’”

Jeremiah 31:3, NLT

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When our kids were younger, we had gathered as a family around the pull up bar in the upstairs hall to see our oldest son, Preston, display his thirteen year old man-cub strength. Like a chimpanzee, he pulled his lanky frame up and down with ease, impressing us all. When he tired to exhaustion, Preston dropped down and met our enthusiastic applause with a satisfied grin.


As the clapping and praise died down, my then nine-year old daughter, Kennedy, decided to give the pull up bar a try. Lifted to the high metal pole by her strong daddy, she gave her best effort but fell short of her desired goal. With a slightly disappointed – but not defeated –

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Today’s Truth

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Acts 9:3-4

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He had no idea that he was moving in a dangerous direction. The cute, little box turtle was just trying to get where he was going. Doing what turtles do. Thinking what turtles think. The fact that he was crossing a busy road that is paved for fast moving cars, not slow crawling reptiles, wouldn’t have even entered his tiny turtle brain.


I’m a fan of turtles. Always have been.


Maybe it’s because they look tough on the outside, but are really softies on the inside.


Maybe it’s because they seem shy and vulnerable when they retreat into their shells and pretend that nobody’s home.


Maybe it’s because for a brief time as a kid I had a pet turtle named Raspberry…

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Today’s Truth

Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life?

Romans 2:4b, AMP

Friend to Friend


I was speaking in Georgia that particular weekend. On day two of the retreat I woke up early and turned on the water in the beautiful tiled shower. As it heated up I noticed that the showerhead was mounted on an off-centered pole. It seemed very low, and was spraying straight along the plane of the wall. Odd.


I’m a tall chick, so as I stepped in and positioned myself under the showerhead I had to squat and stand very close to the wall. {Awesome. A quad workout! Shower bonus.}


As I shampooed my hair, my legs were on fire from squatting. And then a thought crossed my mind… MAYBE the showerhead can be raised!


I turned around and tried to

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Today’s Truth

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Isaiah 40:31

Friend to Friend


A friend of ours has struggled with heart problems for years. He has gone through seasons of wellness and seasons of strain. Recently, his health challenges moved from the back burner of his life 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 are talking valve replacements, ablations, hole repairs and more. You name it – and the surgeon pretty much had to do it.


In the wee hours of the morning prior to his surgery, our friend’s heart decided to cause problems that led them to the Emergency Room instead of the Operating Room. Thankfully, his surgeon rushed to

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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

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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 on a soul level.


The Bible shows us that Nehemiah prayed. He was pressed but not crushed. He told the Lord that he was sorry for the way he and his people had rejected God and for the ways they had disobeyed His commands. He remembered the instructions

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Today’s Truth

Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - so that his hands remained steady until sunset.

Exodus 17:12b NIV

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After the Lord had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt they spent 40 years in the desert. During that time God provided for them both miraculously and practically. One practical way God moved was through His people.


Much like today.


Moses was God’s chosen leader, but many others were used as well. We see this demonstrated in Exodus 17 when a savage, nomadic tribe called the Amalekites attacked the Israelites. The Amalekites lived in in the desert region near the Dead Sea and were quick to destroy anyone who got in their space. I imagine that when they went into battle with the Israelites they had no idea that if they messed with Moses and his traveling companions they

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Today’s Truth

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Joshua 8:1

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We see a vibrant example of courage and obedience in the book and life of Joshua. He served humbly and faithfully in the shadow of Moses until the Lord took Moses home and chose Joshua to be the next leader His people.


I’d be shaking in my size 10 shoes if I had to fill the sandals of Moses! I’m sure that in his humanness Joshua was intimidated too, but he was well trained because he had served under Moses for 40 years.


I mean – he wasn’t exactly a spring chicken when God gave him His incredible I-made-you-for-greatness and I’ve-got-your-back motivational talk. Have you ever thought of that?


“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days

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Today’s Truth

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

Psalm 73:23

Friend to Friend


It was Corrie Ten Boom who said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” The text of Psalm 73 helps this truth rise vividly.


If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed… “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3)


They. They. They.


“They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take

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Today’s Truth

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

Ephesians 6:10, NIV

Friend to Friend


In his letter to the believers in Ephesus, the apostle Paul talked straight about the spiritual battle of faith. He exhorted them to:


Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:10–13 ESV)


In recognizing

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Today’s Truth

You have forsaken your first love… Repent and do the things you did at first...

Revelation 2:4b-5, NIV

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I watched a movie about the end times that left me longing for a few answers. So I grabbed my Bible and sat to read from the book of Revelation. In this apocalyptic, end-of-the-Bible book, John speaks of a vision from Christ that he received while on the island of Patmos. In this vision, Jesus unveils events yet to come – which, ultimately, echo His eternal love, power, and justice.


In chapter two, the words leapt from the page to my heart as Jesus spoke to the Church in Ephesus. His tone was heavy and serious, yet intimate, tender, and loving. Clearly this message was meant for Christians throughout history, not just the church of Ephesus. It was meant

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Today’s Truth

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.

Philippians 3:13b, NIV

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It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.


Amen! I thought.


The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”


My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.


The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Chris followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.


Instead of wallowing in

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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

Friend to Friend


I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t know your purpose, you will be distracted by the voices.” The same principle applies to the purpose of our words. The Bible has a lot to say about the ways we should use our words.


To ENCOURAGE – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)


To WORSHIP – “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit,

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Today’s Truth

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

(Genesis 50:20, NIV)

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God is faithful. He can use all circumstances for His glory. Let’s take a brief look at the life of Joseph (Genesis 37–50). Joseph was a man of integrity who did right in the eyes of the Lord, yet he faced hardship, betrayal, and temptation. As a young man, he was less than humble a few times with his ten older brothers. Okay. Straight up, he actually came across as a puffed up little braggart. His bragging fed the jealously of Joseph’s brothers because he was clearly their father’s favorite child. Now granted, Joseph threw gasoline on the fire of this jealousy when he gushed about the dreams God had given him, but imagine how he must have

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Today’s Truth

Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

(Psalm 84:4)

Friend to Friend


The bedrooms of my children house more memories than a library full of books. The doorframes have been gateways to relationship. Access points of intimacy. Invitations to community.


Over the years the space beyond each threshold has fostered fun, friendships, frazzled feelings and family. It’s been a meeting place of life and love. An incubator for growth, depth, conversations and dreams.


The floors have held dance parties, dirty clothes, discipline, and daily drama. The air has held honest whispers and lingering lullabies, screams and songs… prayers, promises and plans.


That space is a place of misunderstanding and tantrums, of teaching and reaching, of decorations and celebrations. A beautiful dwelling place of knowing and being known.


Psalm 84 echoes this type of warmth,

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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)

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My hubs and I are obsessed with the TV show Person of Interest. The plot is fast-paced, and features two main characters, John Reese and Mr. Finch, a presumed-dead, former CIA agent and a mysterious, tech-savvy billionaire. The duo prevents crimes using technology and their own take on vigilante justice. Brad and I binge watch the show on Netflix when time permits and are depressed that we only have five seasons to enjoy.


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 don’t often see while watching Person of Interest are people in

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Today’s Truth

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in sprit and truth.

(John 4:24, ESV)

Friend to Friend


In John 4, we see a tired Jesus. He was exhausted and thirsty from the journey he and the disciples had just made from Judea to Galilee. Having sent the disciples into town for food, Jesus sat down by Jacob’s well and talked with a woman of Samaria – ignoring cultural, racial, and social norms of that day. {Jews did not associate with Samaritans and often tried to avoid Samaria all together on their journeys. In addition to that, respectable Jewish men did not talk women whom they didn’t know in public.} But Jesus was clearly not concerned with public opinion as He was on a mission of mercy.


He asked this unnamed woman for a drink then engaged

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Today’s Truth

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

(John 15:2, NIV)

Friend To Friend
Our hotel room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.


As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.


After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.


Seriously.


The pruning made such a difference!


Jesus spoke to His disciples and said,


I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He

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Today’s Truth

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

(Galatians 5:16, NIV)

Friend to Friend


The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Galatia during his second missionary journey. He was frustrated that many believers were wavering in their faith. Not good.


In Galatians 5, he reminded the believers that Christ died so that they could be free. And he was careful to distinguish that their freedom was not to sin but from sin.


He went on to tell them of the spiritual battle that was taking place between their fleshly desires and their holy desires. Between walking by the Spirit and walking by the flesh.


So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and

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Today’s Truth

I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.

Psalm 52:8b

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I remember lining the hallways at West Hempfield Elementary School when we had severe weather drills. The teachers would have us sit side by side against the inner concrete walls, quiet sticks up, until the training exercise was complete.


Fire drills took us outside.


Severe weather drills, inside.


We knew which way to go based upon the type of drill.


Sadly, nowadays students don’t just have drills for fires and natural disasters, but also to prepare for evil attacks on humanity by humanity. We teach children how they should respond in the event of a shooter being on school grounds so they know the places to go to find protection and safety. My heart doesn’t even know how to process the angst

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Today’s Truth

God, knock the teeth out of their mouths.

Psalm 58:6

Friend to Friend


In the first few moments of the movie we watched her light up and ask hard questions as her beautiful mama told her stories at bedtime. Brave curiosity and fearless adventure twinkled in her eyes as she ran about and soaked in the activities and people of the all-female, Amazonian warrior-filled island of Themyscira.


Diana, princess of the Amazons, grew in skill, wisdom and stature, training as an unbeatable warrior. She loved justice. Loved peace. Loved goodness. It was all she knew… until the day a handsome American spy, Steve Trevor, crashed his plane in the waters off the paradise island and Diana dove in to save him.


As she grew to know Steve, Diana learned of the danger, death,

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Today’s Truth

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.

Psalm 67:4

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.


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 joy rises to

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Today’s Truth

He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.

Psalm 66:9

Friend to Friend


Church camp helps young hearts feel held, healed, loved, and seen by an immortal, invisible God. It did for me as a teen and for my children as well. There’s just something special about cabins, games, songs and Christian community under a canopy of trees.


In the summer of 2012, our Smith kids had all gone off to church camp while Brad and I snuck away to a marriage retreat. As we headed into the first session, Brad got a call from the church camp informing us that Preston was being taken to the local urgent care facility. The camp director had announced that it was time to toast smores, and in his excitement to get there quickly from

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Today’s Truth

Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border…”

1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV

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Years ago I worked with a woman in Nashville named Cindy. She was a no-nonsense publisher for a major music company. Each month she listened to the songs I wrote and gave honest, constructive feedback that required this songwriter-chick to have thick skin and wear big-girl-panties. She was salt and light to me in the work place, but not in ways that I expected or necessarily appreciated at the time.


I didn’t always love what she had to say.


Total honesty? She. Scared. Me. Silly.


I wrestled with her strong, bristly opinions while at the same time grew from


the pruning of her wise, professional words. She challenged me toward greater excellence and she wasn’t afraid to speak difficult words of truth.


One

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Today’s Truth

Protect my life from the terror of the enemy.

(Psalm 64:1b)

Friend to Friend


Battles are everywhere… in our homes, in our hearts, in our humanity, and in realms unseen. The Bible actually has a lot to say about this: Our struggle isn’t just against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) No weapons formed against us will prosper. (Isaiah 54:17) Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4) When we submit to God and resist the devil, he has to flee! (James 4:7) And there’s tons more.


Let’s be honest, that’s a lot to take in. It all sounds so major-motion-picture.

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Today’s Truth

Don’t turn to the right or to the left.

(Proverbs 4:27, CSB)

Friend to Friend


Knowing her soul was filled with sorrow, I sent my girlfriend a few texts with links to worship songs, hoping they would cushion her grieving heart with comfort. A while later she responded. Listening and worshiping. I have death certificates and head stones here, but we know that he has eternal life and the glory of God all around him. For that, I will ever praise the Lord.


The funeral had passed, but the sting of the death was still fresh and fierce. At the hand of a tragic, senseless accident, her young-adult son was gone in an instant. Shockwaves of horror ripped through the community, leaving thousands with a raw reminder of the frailty of life.


One treasure

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Today’s Truth

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

(Psalm 55:22, CSB)

Friend to Friend


I like to filter things. Get the junk out. Keep it pure. I have a filter for water on my counter and on my refrigerator. I replace them regularly. It makes me feel safe.


My fondness for filtering often flows over into the prayers I pray. I search for cleaned up words when I talk to God. Unconsciously believing He’ll like me better if my thoughts, emotions and desires run through a “good-Christian-girl” screen. It makes me feel safe.


Then I see David all up in the mess with God in Psalm 54 and I’m challenged again.


David prays unfiltered. He’s brutally honest with God. In a way I admire but hesitate to emulate. He doesn’t clean up his God-talk. He

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Today’s Truth

This I know: God is for me.

(Psalm 56:9, CSB)

Friend to Friend


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 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

On high, he summons heaven and earth in order to judge his people.

Psalm 50:4

Friend to Friend


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, boobs, 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 my lips, but

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Today’s Truth

All this has happened to us, but we have not forgotten you or betrayed your covenant. Psalm 44:17

Psalm 44:17

Friend to Friend


Not gonna lie, sometimes life gets really hard. At times our battles are an intense, invisible boxing match, and the enemy seems to not only make contact on every upper cut but also win every round. There are seasons when we feel defeated, wounded, abandoned, vulnerable, frustrated and forgotten. The psalmists felt this way sometimes too.


“You make us a joke among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
My disgrace is before me all day long,
and shame has covered my face,
because of the taunts of the scorner and reviler,
because of the enemy and avenger.


All this has happened to us,
but we have not forgotten you
or betrayed your covenant.
Our hearts have not turned back;
our steps have not strayed from your path.”


(Psalm 44:14-18, CSB)


The

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Today’s Truth

“This God, our God forever and ever— he will always lead us.”

Psalm 48:14Friend to Friend 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 bus in each area, the guide gave specific instructions about what we could eat and drink, the time we had for the stop, the dangers of the area and the challenges the locals were facing. I was grateful for his direction and knowledge. It helped me know what to do and how to respond. Made me feel more confident. More safe. With the guide, the trip was far better than it would’ve been had I tried to explore the region on my own. Psalm 48 celebrates God’s presence and showcases Him as our Security, Defender and Guide. A good guide knows his stuff. He’s got the backstory on places you go and is able to answer the questions that come up along the journey. A good guide stays with you, even in the scary places, and helps you see and understand the history, significance and culture as you pass through new places. A good guide welcomes your questions, warns you of danger and points out tennis shoes on power lines. It’s easy to feel lost and trapped by barriers of life that keep us from understanding or knowing which way to go. “For this is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14, NIV) As I read Psalm 48:14, I breathe in a fresh confidence. God is not just a good guide, but the one and only perfect Guide. He’s the Guide I need. The Guide that walks with me along the path, offering protection and direction. Our security and peace are amplified when we listen to and heed God’s instructions. Let’s Pray Dear Lord, In Your presence I find joy and security. Thanks for being my Defender and Guide. Thank You for offering me access to Your endless protection and direction. Please help me know what to do with ____________________. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Now It’s Your Turn Read Psalm 143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” What two requests does the psalmist make? What’s the chosen response? Will you make the same request and response today? What do you need to trust Him with? More from the Girlfriends SPECIAL OFFER: If today’s message is where you are and you need more practical help, we have a resource called Trusting God. Gwen is offering a 20% OFF discount on the Trusting God book from her site when you use the coupon code: 20OFF. Click here to get yours now. PSST! If you’re on Instagram, Gwen would love to connect with you! Follow here.

Friend to Friend


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)

Friend to Friend


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.


And she’s J Lo on the dance floor. Unhindered. Exuberant in celebration of her big day.


Brides are often consumed with the details of wedding planning. They reach out to 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

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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

Friend to Friend


I’ve got lots of opinions, not gonna lie. You do too, right? I’ll go even one step further by assuming that your opinions and my opinions are not perfectly in synch. Agreed?


Differences of opinion among people 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 got thrown into a situation recently that caused some harm and confusion. The perception and convictions of another was pressed upon us, and the consequences were anything but peaceful. Much of

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Today’s Truth

Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!

Psalm 61:4

Friend to Friend


Psalm 61 is a powerful reminder that no matter where we are or what we’re going through, we can cry out to God for help. David was in a fragile place, desperate for God. Forced to flee because his son Absalom had rebelled against him. He’d been betrayed by his own flesh and blood, and the sting of betrayal, as we all know, is painfully damaging.


He ran to God seeking refuge when he was hurting and overwhelmed.


“God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for you have been a refuge for

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Today’s Truth

He drew me out of deep waters ... He rescued me because He delighted in me.

Psalm 18:16-19

Friend to Friend


Debbie was a pastor’s wife who felt worthless for years. She was verbally abused and emotionally abandoned in her marriage from the very beginning. She had been a virgin when she met her husband, so she knew something was very wrong when, seven months into their marriage, her husband went out of state for a “business trip” and gave Debbie a severe pelvic inflammatory disease when he got home.


Her doctor explained that she had gotten a bacterial infection that can only be sexually contracted. Debbie was hospitalized for five days and placed on strong medications. The IV antibiotics she received unknowingly rendered her birth control pills ineffective, and a pregnancy with their first child resulted. So Debbie stayed

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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