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Posts by Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13

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I promised myself that I would never buy a house that could be described as a “fixer-upper.” I don’t like fixing things. I want everything to be fixed before I move in. But there I was — buying a town house that needed so much work even the realtor couldn’t believe my husband and I wanted to buy it. Why didn’t someone stop me? No one did, so the sale was made and we went to work. Actually, my son and husband went to work while I went crazy.


I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. Layer after layer of dirt, grime, stains and ugliness was stripped away. Rotten kitchen cabinets were torn from

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Today’s Truth

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

(Malachi 3:3, NIV)

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The story is told of a group of women who met each week to study the Bible, hoping to learn more about the nature and character of God and how He works in our life. The women were puzzled and even a little troubled by the description of God they found in Malachi 3:3, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” One of the women offered to do a little research on the subject and report back to the group at their next meeting. The woman found a local silversmith and made an appointment to observe him at work, explaining that she was particularly interested in the process of refining silver. She watched as the

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Today’s Truth

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

(Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

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As a high school junior, I decided it was time to take Homemaking 101. I can still see Mrs. Johnson’s face as she naively gazed at her new students. Bless her unsuspecting heart! She had no idea the challenge I brought to that class or to her career as a teacher. For weeks, I muddled through each lesson with a respectable, but less than stellar performance, until we hit the section on sewing. It would prove to be her undoing where I was concerned.


Being the veteran teacher that she was, Mrs. Johnson took a deep breath and doggedly plunged ahead in determination, vowing she could teach anyone to sew – even me. I decided to make a blouse

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Today’s Truth

I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.

(Psalm 62:1)

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I took a deep breath and prayed, “Thank You, Father, for showing up tonight. Thank You for the magnificent display of Your power!” It had been a long time since I had witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit at work in such an amazing way. I felt as if each word I spoke, each step I took was saturated with His power and His favor. That night, it truly was all about Him!


I have been speaking for women’s events for 25 years … and absolutely love it! It’s my passion and my calling. I have had many jobs over the years – elementary school teacher, insurance agent, high school Bible teacher, choir director, church pianist, women’s ministry

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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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I simply could not take it any longer. The list of impossibilities had grown too long. Usually I could make things happen. I could make the difficult phone calls and sweetly cajole people into doing what I wanted them to do. Not today. Today every door slammed in my face. No one could be cajoled. I had to wait. And I do not like to wait.


I burst into tears. I felt the panic attack coming and could not seem to do one thing to stop it. Fortunately, my husband had gone to bed early. I was alone and found myself crying out to God, “I need someone to tell me what to do! I just need someone to

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Today’s Truth

For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

(Hebrews 11:10, New English)

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Our son was born to be a builder. From the time he could hold a plastic red hammer in his toddler-sized hands, Jered began hammering imaginary nails into the coffee table, fixing everything that was broken in our house, and drawing crayon blueprints of various objects he planned to build. No wooden surface in our home was safe from Jered’s scrutiny or design.


Since my husband enjoyed woodworking as a hobby, he decided to build Jered a miniature workbench beside his own in the garage. Several nights each week, Dan and Jered headed out to the garage to pound and hammer and do what they called “man stuff.” I thought it was cute – a philosophy that would drastically

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Today’s Truth

Between three and six o'clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water. When his followers saw him walking on the water, they were afraid. They said, ‘It's a ghost!’ and cried out in fear. But Jesus quickly spoke to them, ‘Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.’ Peter said, ‘Lord, if it is really you, then command me to come to you on the water. Jesus said, ‘Come.’ And Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind and the waves, he became afraid and began to sink. He shouted, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter.

(Matthew 14: 25-31, NCV)

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Jesus and His disciples fed more than five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Now that is what I call a miracle! The disciples not only saw the miracle Jesus performed, but were the ones Jesus actually commissioned to distribute the bread and fish.


Witnessing the miracles of Jesus was not a new experience for the disciples. In fact, I am fairly certain they considered themselves mature, devoted and unshakable disciples. But when Jesus sent them out onto the water in a small fishing boat while He went up into the hills to pray – their faith was put to the test.


Everything was fine – the disciples’ faith in tact – until the storm

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Today’s Truth

For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son … and having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself.

(Romans 8:29-30)

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Most people recognize the familiar line from every Mission Impossible movie, “Your mission … should you choose to accept it … “


God asks us the same question. We have a God-given mission. We are called by God to be a blessing in the world where we live, work, and play. But we choose to accept or reject that mission every single day.


Sometimes the call of God seems to make no sense … almost ridiculous. Gideon felt that way when God called him.


Gideon was a farmer, a family man just trying to earn a living and put food on the table. He felt inadequate to carry out God’s plan for his life.


But God saw what Gideon could be …

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Today’s Truth

Now as they went on their way, He entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

(Luke 10:38, NIV)

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Balance always requires a fierce and ruthless examination of priorities. Our true priorities are not only mere lists of activities completed or goals set, but also candid reflections of our heart desires. What we deem important receives the most time, energy, attention and resources. The importance of right and balanced priorities is illustrated by the life of Martha.


Jesus knew that He was always welcome in the home of Martha. Scripture tells us that Jesus “had no place to lay His head” but He often came to this home when He needed to rest or get away from the demanding crowds. At the age of thirty, the Son of God left His natural home and there is no record

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.

(Psalm 136:2, NIV)

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God loves you. He created you. The words of Psalm 139 beautifully express the heart of God toward each one of us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).


A healthy self-image is not one of pride or arrogance, but rather

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Today’s Truth

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”

(Romans 8:28, NIV)

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I have never met a single person whose goal in life was to fail, but failure is a reality of life. The key to success is not avoiding failure; it is learning how to handle failure.



Beethoven’s music teacher said he was a hopeless composer.
Abraham Lincoln campaigned for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly and failed.
Walt Disney was fired by the editor of a newspaper for lacking creativity.
The Ford Motor Company was Henry Ford’s third business. The first two didn’t work out.
A teacher told Thomas Edison that he was too stupid to learn anything.
Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.

I remember the first time I failed a test. I was in first grade and my teacher, Mrs. Martin, decided

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Today’s Truth

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

(Ephesians 3:20, NLT)

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Faith is the quiet certainty that God keeps His promises. Most of us don’t like to wait on God with “quiet certainty.” We see a need, and instead of seeking God’s wisdom and timing, we make a plan we think will meet that need … and then, with earthly resources, see that the plan is executed. As a result, we often settle for so much less than God had in mind.


“Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).


Many children seem to possess the “quiet certainty” that God is able. The prayer life of a

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Today’s Truth

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.

(1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV)

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I have struggled with weight issues since I was a little girl. Part of my struggle is rooted in “fluffy” genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of “fluffy” relatives. The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that I hate exercise, take medications that cause weight gain, enjoy eating, and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet and reward.


Over the years, I have tried just about every diet I could find. I could always lose weight. I just could not keep it off. The day came when I threw in the towel.


My name is Mary, and I am a Carboholic.


I was done. I was burned out on diets and quick fixes. I

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Today’s Truth

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

(Psalm 119:105, KJV)

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The Word of God is our blueprint for life. If we want to discover and live out God’s plan, we must know the Word of God. It is our life compass.


In 1804, British ship HMS Apollo was leading a convoy of 69 merchant vessels to the West Indies on a route that put them parallel to the coasts of Spain and Portugal, about a hundred miles from land. A storm arose on Sunday, April 1, April Fool’s Day, but the captain was unconcerned because his compass assured him that he was well into open sea. But in the middle of the night, the ship-wrecked against the jagged rocks of the coastline. Jolted from their hammocks, the crew desperately

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Today’s Truth

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

(John 10:10, NKJV)

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I must be getting older because I have six grandchildren. And they really do say the most hilarious things – sometimes. Other times, their words can absolutely nail me to the wall and put life in perspective in a split second.


Several years ago, I was keeping our then three-year-old grandson Hudson while our daughter took his older brother to the doctor. Hudson has strawberry-blonde hair, blue eyes, a killer smile … and he loves to snuggle. I know. It’s a deadly combination.


After Danna and Justus left, Hudson crawled up in my lap and just grinned at me. Then he began to gently rub my face with his little hand. My heart just melted. He was probably thinking what

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Today’s Truth

“A wise woman strengthens her family, but a foolish woman destroys hers by what she does.”

(Proverbs 14:1, NCV)

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Family means different things to different people. What is a family? A family is a group of persons with whom you are doing life. Family is where we learn about God then live out the very nature and character of God in relationships. Family is important to God. He created it before He created the church and, as with each of His creations, He made a plan for it to succeed. At the heart of that plan is love. To trust God with our family demands that we first love and trust God in our own lives then allow that love to spill over into our family. 


What a crazy day it had been! It was a day probably

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Today’s Truth

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)

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The whole family had been sick for a week, but our daughter was the last one standing … until she fell. Danna is a very hands on mother of two boys, so when Justus and Hudson were sick, Danna held them, laid down with them at night to help them fall asleep, snuggled with them on the couch … you get the idea.


Both boys and their father Sam were finally all cleared of any illness. Cue Danna getting very sick. But Danna tends to be like her mother and just keep going. When I asked her why she didn’t just go to bed when the boys were in school, her answer had a very familiar ring. “Mom, I

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Today’s Truth

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

(James 1:19-20, NIV)

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Learning to control anger is a crucial life lesson – one that we need to master and pass on to our children. Up until my young adult years, I had a huge temper. It took very little to make me furious. In moments of anger, I would slam doors, hurl various objects across the room and yell! I don’t remember anyone telling me what to do with my anger – until I surrendered my heart to God. And believe me, He had plenty to say about it in His Word.


As the years went by, I married and became the mother of two amazing children who inherited my huge temper. It was now my responsibility to train Jered and

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.

(Psalm 23:1-3, NIV)

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For most of my adult life I have wrongly equated being busy with being productive. I am guilty as charged when it comes to living each day in overdrive. The result has been exhaustion, burnout, and watered down living. God and I both knew that the façade I had so carefully erected was a spiritual monument to self-promotion and pride-filled goals.


I have always loved music and began taking piano lessons at the age of five. I will never forget that first piano lesson with Mrs. McKenzie, a very sweet, elderly woman who played the piano beautifully.


“Let’s get started,” Mrs. McKenzie said. I climbed up on the piano bench, waiting for her brilliant instruction to begin. She placed a

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Today’s Truth

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak.

(Isaiah 40:29, NCV)

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I love a great movie! To me, a movie is great when good wins over evil, the right guy gets the right girl, nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily ever after. A bit naive, I know. But I have decided that there is enough harsh reality ripping through daily life without paying to see more on a movie screen.


With these criteria in mind, I went to see the movie “Sea Biscuit.” There I was; popcorn in hand, minding my own business and enjoying my brief respite, when his words slammed into my soul, yanking me back to the tenacious essence and interminable power of truth.


“You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s banged up a little.”


I was

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Today’s Truth

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

(Romans 8:28, HCSB)

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I am sure you have heard the story of Ivory soap, the “soap that floats.” However, it was not always that way. Years ago, this soap was just another brand among many until a factory foreman made a mistake. He left a fresh batch of soap in the cooking vat and went to lunch. When he was late getting back and the soap had overcooked, the foreman frantically examined the burned soap. It seemed to clean the same. The only difference he could see was in the weight. The burned soap was just lighter. He could either report the mistake and risk being fired, or he could make the best of it and ship the soap out as

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Today’s Truth

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.

(John 10:4, NLT)

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As a child, I can still see my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Cash, as she wrote the word “grace” on the classroom chalkboard. “What does the word “grace” mean to you?” she quietly asked. Even though the word was somewhat familiar, I had no clue what “grace” actually meant. Mrs. Cash simply smiled at my best friend, Katrina, who raised her hand to explain that “grace” was a girl’s name. Evidently, that was not the correct answer.


The pastor of that small, country church I attended often used “grace” in his sermons and many of the songs we sang at church contained “grace” in their lyrics. I had heard it and sung about it, but when it came right

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Today’s Truth

We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion.

(2 Corinthians 6:5, NIV)

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I have never been beaten, put in jail, or faced angry mobs because of my faith. That kind of faith is foreign to me. But I came face to face with such radical faith in Mexico where it is a common occurrence for Christians to be imprisoned, persecuted, and even killed because of their faith.


My husband and I were invited to teach a conference for pastors and their wives in Chiapas, Mexico. On the first day of the conference, we met a young pastor who was so excited because many men from his village were coming to the conference with him the next day. For months, he had prayed and encouraged these fellow pastors and their wives to

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Today’s Truth

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

(James 5:16b, NIV)

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Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who worked with her father Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom, and other family members to help many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her home. Corrie and her family were caught, arrested, and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp.


While imprisoned at the concentration camp, Corrie tells a story of the time she had a terrible cold. She told her sister Betsie how much she just wished she had a handkerchief. Of course, handkerchiefs were impossible to find in that place. Betsie then suggested that Corrie pray for one, and Corrie just laughed at that ridiculous idea. Why would God be concerned

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Today’s Truth

Do not be surprised at the painful things you are now suffering. These things are testing your faith.

(1 Peter 4:12-13, ICB)

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I pray that your New Year is off to a great start. The holidays are wonderful but I am always ready for them to be over so life can get back to normal. Hmmm…that word “normal” can definitely mean different things to different people. I have to admit that “normal” is not a word people commonly use to describe my life or me. I have heard more than one person say, “Mary, you are not a normal pastor’s wife!” I smile and thank them for the compliment. Ignorance can definitely be bliss. Several of my closest friends are convinced that I could make millions by doing my own television reality show. “Nobody could make this stuff up!” they

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Today’s Truth

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

(James 1:2-4, NIV)

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John struggled with spelling. Staring at his spelling test, his heart sank. So many of the words seemed difficult, and he wasn’t sure how to spell most of them. Softly the enemy whispered, “Look at Jane’s paper. She’s an honor student and always gets them right!”


Mark hesitated, but he was desperate to make a good grade. He gave in and copied several answers from Jane’s paper.


The teacher noticed Mark’s actions and was really surprised because she had always thought of him as an honest boy. When it came time to collect the completed work, she saw Mark’s inner struggle reflected on his face of anguish. Finally, Mark bowed his head for a moment and then suddenly ripped his

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Today’s Truth

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

(Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

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Watching our daughter introduce solid foods to our grandson, Justus, was an intriguing process to watch. The faces he made when that new food was first placed in his little mouth were hilarious. When he liked the new food, his eyes got big and he grinned and made a big smacking sound as if to say, “Where have you been keeping this stuff?” However, a few foods elicited a very different reaction. He scrunched up his face, turned his head away, and promptly spat out the offending food. Danna quickly learned the art of mixing foods in a single bite. She also learned that the food Justus refused to eat on Thursday was often eagerly consumed the next

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Today’s Truth

Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace (2 Corinthians 1:12).

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I am always amazed by how much training Olympic athletes are willing to invest in order to win a medal. If Christians were willing to make the same kind of investment in running the race of life, I believe the world would be a vastly different place. How important you consider a race to be influences how hard you will run it, and determines the goals you set in order to win that race.


I believe every follower of Christ should have clear life goals based on clear spiritual truths. Many Christians are floundering because they have no spiritual goals. If you want your relationship with God to be motivating, it has to be making progress, accomplishing something, and

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Today’s Truth

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

(Matthew 21:22, NIV)

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”A Box of Socks” has become a Christmas tradition in my life – a tradition that is well worth repeating. The prayer of a little boy meets the heart of our faithful Father – and Christmas breaks out!


My sister loves socks! One day, we were shopping and happened to walk into a department store where neither one of us could afford to buy one single thing. We were just passing through, on our way to find the bargains we could afford. With a sigh and a wistful look on her face, Betty said, “I wish I could afford to shop in this store.” When I asked her what she would buy, she immediately replied with a smile, “Socks!

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Today’s Truth

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

(Philippians 4:8, NIVB)

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Have you ever watched an icicle as it is formed? Several years ago, we joined our best friends, Michelle and Jay Johnson, for a winter vacation in Vermont where a heavy snowstorm had arrived just ahead of us, dumping several inches of snow.


Everything was covered in a rolling, soft blanket of white. Icicles hung like fragile crystal ornaments from tree limbs and rooftops. One morning, I decided to be lazy. It was delicious to just sit, curled up in front of a crackling fire, gazing out at the beautiful postcard scene before me.


I watched the softly falling rain gradually turn to long strands of ice. The icicles formed one drop at a time until they were a foot

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Today’s Truth

Praise the LORD! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

(Psalm 28:6-7, NLT)

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God is constantly at work in our lives, preparing us to do with joy what He created us to do. When we understand that God integrates every life detail to accomplish His will, a deeper level of trust takes root and grows.


God wants us to trust Him in every circumstance. Trust is letting go, knowing God is more than enough. Trust is obedience because what I do reveals what I believe about God regardless of what I say. Trust and obedience go hand in hand. The more we obey, the more we will trust and the more we trust, the more we will obey, understanding that He is indeed Lord of all. The result is joy.


We should be

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Today’s Truth

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

(Psalm 23:5, NKJV)

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Many life battles are lost because our confidence and faith in God are eroded under the persistent battering of daily stressful situations. We often fail to recognize and embrace the truth that God defines and refines us through each battle in life. If the battle truly belongs to God, we win! We win before the first shot is fired. We win before one step of the battle plan is taken.


I would naturally assume that a victory banquet would be held after the victory was won. However, the Hebrew people blew that idea right out of the water when they held victory banquets before the battle even began. If I had been there, I would have surmised that the

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Today’s Truth

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

(John 3:16, NIV)

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It was one of those days. You know what I mean. The minute I opened my eyes, I could feel the weight of the darkness. All I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and pray that the world would go away and leave me alone.


But it won’t. I know that.


I have responsibilities – deadlines to meet, people who are counting on me, and things I need to get done.


So I do what I always do on those days. I take a deep breath, cry out to God for the strength to get out of bed, and literally make myself get up. That is the first victory of the day. Yes! I then get dressed

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Today’s Truth

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Ephesians 5:20, NCV)

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When we lived in South Florida, the grass in our yard grew year round. We learned over the years that the best way to deal with weeds was simply to take care of the grass. When grass is healthy, weeds have no space to grow.


When our hearts and lives are filled with praise and thanksgiving, worry is a weed that will die from lack of attention. Why? Because praise acknowledges the very character of God, while thanksgiving recognizes the work of His hand. Together, praise and thanksgiving are powerful weapons against worry and important tools to help us grow.


Many times we feel we have nothing to celebrate. We do not understand the true meaning of praise. Praise comes

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Today’s Truth

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

(Philippians 4:12, NIV)

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I once heard a story that offers a great prescription for joy. A young believer came to a man who had followed Christ for many years with this complaint. “I have lost my joy!” the young man said. The older, wiser Christian responded, “Go out and do something for someone else. Repeat that act of kindness nine times. Then you will find joy!”


When we develop the habit of looking for a need and then meeting it, we will experience joy as never before. Many times, instead of looking for a need, we look the other way.


Once upon a time


There were four men named


Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.


There was an important job to be done


And Everybody

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Today’s Truth

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

(Philemon 1:7, NIV)

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I once read about an African tribe that has what we might consider an unusual approach for dealing with people who make mistakes. When a member of this tribe does something wrong, they take the person to the center of the village where the tribe surrounds him. For two days, they remind him of the good things he has done. The tribe believes that mistakes are often a cry for help and hope to provide that help through the layers of encouragement they freely give.


I wonder how our world would change if we took the same approach to encouragement. It takes layers of love and great patience to replenish, restore, and put courage back into a heart that

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Today’s Truth

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

(Luke 6:38, NIV)

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I am on a mission. I have been thinking about and carefully planning every step of this mission for over a year. I have gathered the required supplies, notified all parties concerned, issued warnings, and marked strategic dates on my calendar.


It is “Go” time for Operation Purge!


I am systematically purging our home of every unnecessary, unused, or no longer wanted item. My husband is on board as well. Just to be safe, I said, “Honey, if you really, really want to keep something, it would be wise to put a yellow sticker on it, or it is outta here!” I think the gravity of Operation Purge began to dawn on him at that moment, but he solemnly nodded

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Today’s Truth

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

(John 10:27)

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Prayer really is so simple. We try to complicate it, and if I do say so myself, we manage to do a fairly good job of it.


Everyone prays when in crisis.


When the house is on fire, the kids are driving you nuts, the job is in jeopardy, the health challenge is serious, the finances are failing – it is amazing how even the ungodly will resort to prayer. It is built into our very being to cry out to God when we are desperate.


But is that all prayer is? Is talking with God only for desperate people in desperate moments?


I really do want to know God’s will for my life. I desperately need His wisdom to get through

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Today’s Truth

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

(Psalm 51:17, NIV)

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He was a friend … a pastor visiting my husband and me for a few days. He had come for help and advice because his wife was broken – a statement that made me just a tad bit angry for some reason. I didn’t really know why it made me angry, but it did.


“John, what did you mean when you said your wife is broken?” I asked. His eyes filled with tears as he explained, “She has been diagnosed with clinical depression. Mary, you have never met her, but she is the strongest woman I have ever known. She is talented, godly, and beautiful. But six months ago, she broke. It’s like she shattered into a million pieces

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Today’s Truth

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

(Colossians 3:5, NIV)

Friend to Friend


Cantaloupe may very well be my favorite food. When it is in season, I stock up and always have some on hand. On one particularly hot day, a lunch of cantaloupe sounded luscious … and it was. Afterwards, I was gone for several hours, running errands. When I walked back in the front door that afternoon, a foul stench nearly knocked me down. It was such a strong odor! A dead animal was my first thought. A plumbing problem was my next idea. I began a room-to-room search that ended abruptly at the kitchen sink. Opening the cabinet underneath, I nearly gagged at the stench that slapped me in the face, making my eyes water. I instantly remembered

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Today’s Truth

Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.

Matthew 7:24-27

Friend to Friend


We lived in South Florida for 19 years. Although we did not go to the beach very often, we always enjoyed it when we did manage to get away for a day or two. Dan and I loved walking on the warm sand, dodging the waves as they rolled in.


One of the first things I noticed was the diversity of the homes built right on the beach. Some were large and ostentatious while others were small and quaint – and some were either partially or totally destroyed. We had a friend in the church who built a lot of houses in that area, so I asked him why some houses seemed to withstand the storms while others didn’t.

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Today’s Truth

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. They are the people He called, because that was His plan.

(Romans 8:28, NCV)

Friend to Friend


The day of my surgery had finally come … and I was more than ready to have my separated shoulder repaired. Dan and I got to the hospital right on time … and began the tedious process of checking in. If you have ever had any kind of surgery, you know the routine.


I filled out several page of paper work and answered about a thousand questions. The nurse then clipped that oh-so-lovely plastic bracelet on my wrist to make sure the doctor did the right surgery on the right person. Actually, I was just fine with that step.


And then we waited … and waited until one of the surgical nurses called my name. She took me back to

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Today’s Truth

Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks.

(Philippians 4:6, GW)

Friend to Friend


History tells us that a group of Indians tortured and killed their enemies by staking them to the ground. They then took a wet leather strap and placed it around the neck of their enemy. As the leather strap slowly dried in the blazing desert sun, it would gradually cut off the air supply until their enemy finally choked to death. Worry does the same thing. “Worry” literally means “to be pulled in different directions.” The old English root from which we get our word “worry” means “to strangle.” Worry literally strangles our peace and weakens our faith.


Worry is a control issue.


Worry is wasted energy.


Worry is consuming and unhealthy.


Worry is a joy thief.


Worry is the interest that we

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Today’s Truth

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

Friend to Friend


I once saw a refrigerator magnet that said, “I know that God promises to never give me more than I can handle. But sometimes, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” When trials come and life seems hard, we plead with God to deliver us from the problem when many times, His plan is to deliver us in the problem. Praise does not depend upon an understanding of the circumstance or trial. Praise depends upon an understanding of and faith in God.


As humans, we will never fully understand God – this side of heaven. God is holy and without blemish. God is all powerful and omniscient. He is Creator of the universe and yet lives in

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Today’s Truth

When evening came, His (Jesus’) disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing, and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But He said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

(John 6:16-22, NIV)

Friend to Friend


My husband has struggled with a fib for almost 15 years. He has had three ablations and 46 cardio versions. I have the procedure down to the point that I think we could do the cardio version on our own. I know where the electrodes have to be placed. Dan tells the doctor not to shock him with both pads on the front of his chest which is the normal approach. One patch needs to be placed on the front of his chest and one on his back, shocking him with 250 volts. Using this technique, his heart has always gone back into sinus rhythm on the first try.


I also had the waiting routine down pat. Just before

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Today’s Truth

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Friend to Friend


The red bird gently landed on the tree branch in front of the kitchen window.


Carla gasped when the bird first appeared. But then a smile slowly spread across her face as she closed her eyes and whispered a reverent prayer, “Thank you, Lord.”


It was definitely a holy moment. I didn’t really know why. I just felt it.


“What was that all about?” I finally asked.


My sweet friend sighed, still staring at the red bird.


“Mary, it has been a really hard week. This morning, I couldn’t take it any more. I lost it, and just ranted and raved, pouring out all of my anger and frustration to God!” Tears began to down her cheeks. I hugged her … and then

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Today’s Truth

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

(John 10:10, NIV)

Friend to Friend


In April, I celebrated my 69th birthday! Honestly, I didn’t think I would live this long. Seriously! Where have the years gone? It seems every day of life has been jam-packed full of both wonderful and horrible things I wondered if I would survive and yet, here I am, going strong and wondering why there always seems to be some kind of helicopter still landing in my life.


I have some advice for you, girlfriend. If you are a young woman, it really is true that you should cherish every day and every moment with your friends and family because the older you get, the quicker the days fly by. I look at my children who are married and

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Today’s Truth

She works with eager hands.

(Proverbs 31:13, NIV)

Friend to Friend


I have had many jobs over the years. I started babysitting when I was twelve years old. In high school, I worked in a clothing store, as an aid for my choral director, and as a recruiter for an employment agency. In college, I was a secretary for the president of our social science honors program and often gave tours to visiting dignitaries. Some jobs I liked more than others but working in an insurance office when my husband attended seminary was one of my least favorite jobs. I soon discovered that I was not alone in my lack of enthusiasm as I read the following note posted on the office bulletin board:


“If you don’t believe in the

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

(Proverbs 27:6)

Friend to Friend


The highest goal for every relationship is unity at some level. The apostle Paul was committed to unity and peace, no matter how impossible it might seem. It was a commitment rising out of the love he found in his personal relationship with God. And it is out of this love that he writes a letter to the church at Philippi, a church that he established. His heart and life were there and his closest friends and deepest relationships were with these people. It caused him great pain to discover that there was division among them and wrote the letter both as an encouragement to confront the ones causing the division and as his own letter of confrontation

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

(Proverbs 27:6)

Friend to Friend


We are born helpless. As soon as we are fully conscious, we discover loneliness. Because God created us to need each other, it is in relationships that much of who we are is realized and fashioned. Throughout Scripture, God repeatedly emphasizes the value and benefits of healthy relationships. However, to my way of thinking, life would be so much easier at times if no one needed us and we needed no one because, honestly, relationships are hard work, especially relationships with sandpaper people.


Difficult relationships and people who rub us the wrong way are often assigned permanent seats in our world and don’t always come with the option of escape. So we must make a choice. We can either

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Today’s Truth

The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl.

(Proverbs 25:11, NCV)

Friend to Friend


I watched in awe as Mrs. McShan worked her magic on the group of third grade students seated before her. Mrs. McShan was the supervising teacher for my student teaching block in college. And she was a rock star in the classroom!


As I watched her teach, I mentally began to list all of the stellar techniques and valuable lessons I had already learned from this master teacher. She never raised her voice. If the classroom got a little noisy, she stopped what she was saying, smiled and stood like a queen overseeing her domain. It was only a matter of seconds until the room grew quiet. That technique was one of my favorites – but one tactic stood

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Today’s Truth

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14, NLT

Hebrews 13:14, NLT

Friend to Friend


It had been a wonderful evening with our daughter, Danna, and her then sixteen-month-old son, Justus. We ate dinner at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate Danna’s graduation from school and the fact that we had all survived. Since our daughter is basically a party looking for a place to happen and really knows how to tell a story, we laughed until we cried as Danna described her encounter that day with a teacher who seemed to be preoccupied with blue cornbread. I am not kidding! Justus may not have understood what his mom was saying, but he joined in the family celebration with gusto – laughing and clapping his little hands. After a delicious meal, we

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Today’s Truth

There are many rooms in my Father's house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

John 14:2

Friend to Friend


Heaven.


These days my thoughts seem to be centered on Heaven.


I know why.


Two good friends have recently gone there. One after a long battle with cancer and another very suddenly.


I have been following Christ for many years. I know that part of my eternal heritage is the promise of Heaven. But now that I am closer to the end of my journey here on earth than I am to the beginning, Heaven is becoming more important – and more real in my heart and mind than ever before.


I wonder what Heaven looks like. The Bible says there are streets of gold and that precious diamonds are mounted in the walls of heaven. What a beautiful sight that will be!


I

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Today’s Truth

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Friend to Friend


GPS has changed our lives. So much so that many people today cannot even read a map. We don’t have a clue how to figure out North, South, East and West. We don’t have to.


We have GPS. Global Positioning Satellite systems.


We have it in our phones.


We have it in our watches.


We have it in our cars.


GPS has changed our lives. It helps us know where we are going and how to get there.


To pursue God’s calling in my life, I must discover my spiritual GPS.


The G in spiritual GPS is gifts. Finding God’s calling for your life begins with gifts. The spiritual gifts God has given you. The supernatural, better than your average bear abilities He has put

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Today’s Truth

We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10, NLT

More from the Girlfriends


My husband, Dan, loves Mark Twain. He says that Twain is one of heroes. And I must admit, Twain wrote some great stuff over his lifetime. But my all-time favorite Mark Twain quote is this:


“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you


find out why.”


That quote gets at the heart of a set of questions that women everywhere ponder on a regular basis:



Why am I here?
Why did God create me?
Why do I matter?

As always, we turn to our Truth Source for answers. We look to the Bible for God’s answers to our questions.


Here is the verse for today:


We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in

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Today’s Truth

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 4:17, NIV

Friend to Friend


I was in a hurry. It was Wednesday and I had several errands to run before heading to the church where I teach a monthly Bible study for women. My last stop was the grocery store. I wanted to pick up snacks and drinks for many of the women who came straight from work to the study. It didn’t take long to fill my cart with drinks, chips, fruit and a few bags of the oh-so-necessary chocolate treats. Mission accomplished, I headed to the checkout lane.


I suddenly had the thought that I should check out the Christmas decorations. Huh? Where had that thought come from? True, it was only a few weeks until Christmas, but I didn’t even

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Today’s Truth

Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek Me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14, NCV

Friend to Friend


Our daughter Danna tries to shield her nine-year-old son from the gory parts of this world. Justus gave his heart to Jesus when he was five years old. It was the real deal! Since that day Justus has been so sensitive to the pain of others and seems compelled to do something that will make the situation better. When he can’t, he is desolate.


Danna tried to talk him out of making a decision for Christ. I mean, he was only five. Could he really understand the decision he was making? Justus was not having it! Every night at bedtime he said, “Mom, I’m ready! I want to give my heart to Jesus!” Danna went through the steps we

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Today’s Truth

But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT

Friend to Friend


While Flip Wilson, a talented comedian of the 80’s, is often credited with the origination of that well known and still popular excuse “The devil made me do it,” I think Eve actually beat him to the punch. Temptation really has not changed much since the Garden of Eden days. Like that juicy, red apple, temptation still entices us with delicious sin. We still engage in power struggles with God, we still flirt with the devil, and when we get caught, we still try to shift the blame to someone else.


Temptation is not a test from God but rather a trap from Satan that is baited with seductive snares in every size, shape and appeal. Paul reminds us

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Today’s Truth

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV

Friend to Friend


I have struggled with weight issues since I was a little girl. Part of my struggle is rooted in “fluffy” genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of “fluffy” relatives. The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that I hate exercise, take medications that cause weight gain, enjoy eating, and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet and reward.


I was a young adult and living on my own before I realized that part of the creation process included green things called vegetables. The motto in our family was, “If it ain’t fried, it ain’t right.” Gravy was a condiment and potatoes a staple at every meal. No bread? How can you have

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Today’s Truth

The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep’

John 21:17, NIV

Friend to Friend


Giving is not just about money. That does not mean we should be less than generous with the money God has given us. We should be quick and happy to share the financial resources we possess. But Kingdom giving encompasses every part of our lives.


The only miracle besides the resurrection of Jesus reported in all four Gospels is the feeding of the five thousand. As a teacher, I know the importance of repetition. If a truth is worth repeating four times, it is an important truth, and we need to listen up!


Huge crowds followed Jesus to the Sea of Galilee. Many of them were lame, blind, crippled … all seeking the healing touch of Jesus. And He healed

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Today’s Truth

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

Proverbs 25:28, NIV

Friend to Friend


It is not enough to acknowledge the presence of negative emotions, or even understand why they exist. We must take action. If we don’t, negative emotions will take control.


Many of us are imprisoned by feelings of inferiority, and the results are always disastrous. Constructive criticism is perceived as an emotional attack. Jealousy burgeons as others receive the accolades we desperately crave. Decisions are made, and a course of life is determined so that fragile egos are fed, excluding God’s plan and purpose. Comparison reigns as a false idol, attempting to validate worth and success. Inferiority crosses over to pride and sin reigns.


Emotions can be like runaway horses. You are trampled by a friend with a hidden agenda, kicked

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Today’s Truth

I will provide for their needs before they ask, and I will help them while they are still asking for help.

Isaiah 65:24, NCV

Friend to Friend


Despite a very shaky start, the weekend could not have gone any better! (If you have not read yesterday’s devotion, stop where you are. Go back and read it … now!)


Dan and I finally made it to Greensburg for my speaking event and checked into our hotel only to discover that the air conditioning in our room did not work.



Did. Not. Care.

I was so tired that I literally climbed into bed and pleaded with my sweet husband to just deal with it. He did. I vaguely remember the maintenance man kicking the air conditioning unit in our room, and the unit coming to life. Go God!


And God was all over the event from beginning to end. I totally

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Today’s Truth

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Luke 6:38, NIV

Friend to Friend


My requirements for a car are simple and few. It has to run. And it has to have both air and heat. I don’t like car payments. I am not about cars. They are not my “thing.” Consequently, we have bought many used cars and have even been given a few cars over the years. We drive them until they die. And then God provides another car.


A year ago, the car I was driving died. Since it was the beginning of summer and Dan was scheduled to have a month-long sabbatical in addition to his month of study and vacation time, we decided to wait on making a car decision. We could make it a few months with

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Today’s Truth

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11, NLT

Friend to Friend


I remember the first time I saw the movie, “Peter Pan.” I was a little girl, totally mesmerized by the character of Peter, wanting to be just like him. After the movie was over, I immediately ran into my back yard and jumped out of a tree – trying to fly! Fortunately, nothing was broken, and I quickly decided I could be contented with being like Peter in other ways. I immediately vowed never to grow up! I agreed with Peter that the adult world seemed frightening; it was very large and demanding, completely beyond my control.


However, life goes on and I somehow managed to navigate the treacherous waters of life, finding myself happily married with two children.

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Today’s Truth

The LORD does what is right, and He loves justice, so honest people will see His face.

Psalm 11:7, NCV

Friend to Friend


Worship is a word we often use but something we rarely experience. Oh, we say that we are going to a worship service each Sunday, but do we really encounter the living God or merely endure another weekly religious gathering? When was the last time you walked away from a worship service – changed forever – because God met you there? We misunderstand what true worship is and fail to recognize the requirements of worship.


A preacher, out for a walk, noticed a group of boys standing around a small stray dog. “What are you doing, boys?” he asked. “Telling lies,” one young man explained. “The one who tells the biggest lie gets the dog.” The minister was shocked

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Today’s Truth

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

Friend to Friend


Have you ever wanted to “freeze” a moment and make it last a lifetime? I have. I have also lived through certain moments that I wish I could change or even delete and pretend they never happened. But change is a natural part of life. We can embrace it, or we can fight it.


My husband often says that the only people who really like change are wet babies. However, I have discovered that some people thrive and live for change. Others dig in their heels and refuse to change a thing and ultimately become prisoners of old habits – good and bad. When it comes to change, we have a decision to make. Change is a sign of

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Today’s Truth

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.

Ephesians 2:10, NCV

Friend to Friend


The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are made of the same water that flows down, clear and cold from the heights of Hermon and the roots of the cedars of Lebanon. The Sea of Galilee is a place of great beauty because it has an outlet. It gathers in its riches and then pours them out again to fertilize the Jordan plain. However, the Dead Sea, with the same water creates horror. The Dead Sea has no outlet. It gets to keep.


When we come to God, one of our first “natural” responses is to serve Him. In fact, our service to God should be spontaneous, enthusiastic and tireless. If there is no desire to serve or

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Today’s Truth

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:14, NIV

Friend to Friend


On a visit to meet our new granddaughter, our son called to say he was running late and asked if I could take our grandson Jaydan to baseball practice. “I will meet you there, Mom. You can stay and watch if you want to, or you can head home,” Jered said. But I heard the hopeful tone in his voice. I stayed.


It was a beautiful night … in more ways than one. The years fell away as I remembered the countless times my husband and I had watched our son play in a game of some kind. Jered tried T-ball, softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, and football before finally settling on football that took him all the way through

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Today’s Truth

Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind’

Matthew 22:37, NIV

Friend to Friend


From the moment of birth, we are taught that successful people never give up. Yet, I have discovered the paradoxical secret that true success can only be found in complete surrender.


Dr. Billy Graham tells the story of a little child who was playing with a very valuable vase. The child put his hand into the vase but could not pull it out. His father tried to free the little boy’s hand but couldn’t. They were thinking of breaking the vase when the father said, “Son, let’s try one more time. Open your hand and hold your fingers out really straight and then pull.” The look of alarm on the boy’s face surprised the dad until the little boy

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Today’s Truth

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(Isaiah 41:13, NIV)

Friend to Friend


I recently received an email containing the following poem. It offers a simple but profound truth we would be wise to apply.


A basketball in my hands is worth about $19.


A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is worth about $33 million.


It depends on whose hands it’s in.


A baseball in my hands is worth about $6.


A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million.


It depends on whose hands it’s in.


A tennis racket is useless in my hands.


A tennis racket in Venus Williams’ hands is a championship winning racket.


It depends on whose hands it’s in. 


A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal.


A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea.


It depends on whose hands it’s in.


A

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Today’s Truth

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

(Isaiah 40:11, NIV)

Friend to Friend


As a little girl, I really did have a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow. I can remember the day my mother showed me the lamb and explained that she did not have a bottle with which to feed the lamb. I did. I agreed to let the lamb have my bottle if I could have the lamb. I have been fascinated by the unique relationship between sheep and their shepherd ever since.


Shepherds live with their sheep, finding places for them to eat and drink, providing shelter from the storms and protection from the heat. The type of shepherding referred to in the Bible is not the farming of fenced pasturelands, but nomadic grazing. The shepherd

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Today’s Truth

Ruth said to Naomi, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!’

(Ruth 1:16-17)

Friend to Friend


My husband is a huge Star Trek fan. Not of the TV series. But a big fan of the Star Trek movies. He likes the action. He likes the drama. And he really likes the relationships.


There is a scene in one of the Star Trek movies where Spock is dying. His last words to his captain and friend, James T. Kirk, are these: “You have been, and always shall be, my friend.”


The same kind of exchange happens between Ruth and Naomi in the opening chapter of the book of Ruth. Ruth declares his loyalty to her friend in clear statements:



Where you go, I will go.
Where you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people.
Your God will me
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Today’s Truth

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV)

Friend to Friend


The emotional demands on women are immense. One of the ways God replenishes us emotionally is through friendships. Many women are convinced that the risk of having close friends outweighs the rewards. I disagree.


There is no love without risk. Every friendship must contain the element of risk if it is to grow and mature, reaching its full potential. Ruth was willing to risk her very future for the sake of her friendship with Naomi.


John 15:13 says it well: “Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for his friends.” When we choose to lay down our life, we automatically take a chance on being hurt, rejected, betrayed, or misunderstood.


Anyone who knows me also

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Today’s Truth

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

(Colossians 3:13, NIV)

Friend to Friend


Do you remember the last words of Jesus as He hung on the cross? “It is finished!” The most literal translation would be “paid in full.”


I will never forget paying off my very first car loan. After sending in my forty-eighth and final payment, I celebrated the fact that I finally owned my bright blue and ever-so-compact Chevrolet Vega – from bumper to bumper. When I opened my mailbox to find the loan papers for my car, I danced a jig. Stamped in big red letters across the document were the words, “Paid in full.”


Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think they owe us. Refusing to let go of the hurt and pain

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Today’s Truth

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.

(Ephesians 1:7, NIV)

Friend to Friend


Several years ago, a family friend showed up at our front door with an electric sander for my husband, Dan, encouraging him to try woodworking as a stress relieving hobby. Over the next several months, Dan not only developed a love for woodworking, but he also created some beautiful pieces of furniture in the process.


For every birthday or special event, I bought Dan a power tool and strategically distributed a list of specific power tools for friends and family members to consider as a gift choice. Within a year, Dan enjoyed a fairly impressive collection of tools – which he proudly displayed in the garage – and I had several new pieces of furniture which I proudly displayed

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:2, NIV

Friend to Friend


I want it all. I want everything God has for me. However, I don’t believe my life really reflects that attitude. I tend to settle for so much less than God’s very best for my life.


God longs to pour out His blessings on His children. We have somehow bought into the lie that we will receive good things from God by working harder, trying to be better or doing more good things. Girlfriend, that is from the pit and smells like smoke.


We are saved by God’s grace and nothing we do or don’t do will ever be good enough to earn the favor of God. In Ephesians the apostle Paul tells us that salvation is a gift –

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Today’s Truth

Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you, Jeremiah 1:5, NCV

Jeremiah 1:5, NCV

Friend to Friend


We adopted Miss Becky and she adopted us. My husband was the pastor of a church in South Florida and our family lived in Texas. Miss Becky became a grandmother to our two children and a precious friend to me.


I took our two kids by Miss Becky’s apartment every couple of weeks. We always went to McDonald’s for lunch. I tried so hard to take her to a nicer restaurant, but she was not having it. She wanted a fish sandwich, French fries, and an orange soda – from McDonald’s.


After lunch, Miss Becky invited us back to her home for a visit. Translation? Jered took care of any needed repairs while Danna and Miss Becky made cookies. My

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Today’s Truth

“These (trials) have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” 1 Peter 1:7, NIV

1 Peter 1:7, NIV

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I am told that in the famous lace shops of Belgium there are certain rooms used for spinning the finest and most delicate designs of lace. Each room is completely dark – except for one small window. Through this tiny window, light shines directly on the work at hand. A solitary spinner works in the darkness, sitting where the narrow stream of light will fall on the delicate thread. The choicest pieces of lace, the most exquisite designs, are created when the worker is in the dark and only his work is in the light. When it comes to handling hurt, we often find ourselves sitting in the darkness of frustration and pain, wondering if anything good can

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Today’s Truth

I will provide for their needs before they ask, and I will help them while they are still asking for help.

Isaiah 65:24, NCV

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Despite a very shaky start, the weekend could not have gone any better! (If you have not read yesterday’s devotion, stop where you are. Go back and read it … now!)


Dan and I finally made it to Greensburg for my speaking event and checked into our hotel only to discover that the air conditioning in our room did not work.



Did. Not. Care.

I was so tired that I literally climbed into bed and pleaded with my sweet husband to just deal with it. He did. I vaguely remember the maintenance man kicking the air conditioning unit in our room, and the unit coming to life. Go God!


And God was all over the event from beginning to end. I totally

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Today’s Truth

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Luke 6:38, NIV

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My requirements for a car are simple and few. It has to run. And it has to have both air and heat. I don’t like car payments. Cars are not my “thing.” Consequently, we have bought many used cars and have even been given a few cars over the years. We drive them until they die. And then God provides another car.


A year ago, the car I was driving died. Since it was the beginning of summer and Dan was scheduled to have a month sabbatical in addition to his month of study and vacation time, we decided to wait on making a car decision. We could make it a few months with one car … or in

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Today’s Truth

The LORD answered him, ‘I will be with you. It will seem as if the Midianites you are fighting are only one man.’

Judges 6:16, NCV

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I was born to be an elementary school teacher – period. So, when a total stranger tapped me on the shoulder and said, “While you were singing, God told me you are supposed to be my Music and Youth Assistant this summer,” I felt sorry for him. He obviously needed to have his hearing checked.


I had just graduated from college with an elementary education teaching degree. A good friend was leading worship for a local church and asked me to sing a solo in the evening service. That’s all – or so I thought. When the service ended, my good friend introduced me to his good friend, the hard-of-hearing stranger, and said, “You should at least pray about

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Today’s Truth

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

(Romans 12:3b, NIV)

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A famous explorer in South America was once forced to abandon his journey by an almost invisible enemy. He was equipped to meet leopards, serpents and crocodiles. They proved to be no threat, but what he had failed to consider were the tiny insects called chiggers. Chiggers are so tiny that in North America we call them the “no see-ums.”


Pride and chiggers have a lot in common. Pride comes in little ways, unseen actions, subtle thoughts or inconspicuous comments. Unguarded attitudes and random thoughts are prime breeding grounds for pride. We must take charge of those thoughts, discipline our attitudes, training our thinking processes to give up and obey God.


Pride loves to take up residence in an undisciplined

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Today’s Truth

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

(Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

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In 1804, the British ship HMS Apollo was leading a convoy of 69 merchant vessels to the West Indies on a route that put them parallel to the coasts of Spain and Portugal, about a hundred miles from land. A storm arose on Sunday, April 1. Even though it was April Fools’ Day, the captain was unconcerned because his compass assured him he was well into open sea. But in the wee hours of the morning, the ship wrecked against the jagged rocks of the coastline.


Jolted from their hammocks, the crew ran to their posts and tried to save the ship from the cold sea. The waves crashed over the hull, flooding the ship from above amid the

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Today’s Truth

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.

(John 15:5, NCV)

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Who says dreams don’t come true? My son grew up with one dream in mind – to play college football. That dream came true. Jered was the starting fullback on his college football team thanks to an academic and football scholarship. (Of course, I taught him everything he knew!) When college football scouts from all over the country began to recruit Jered, I discovered it was quite a process. Football scouts keep track of the statistics on high school players, watching certain ones for three and four years. College coaches show up at high school games to talk with high school coaches and watch their potential players in action. Letters start filling the mail box along with promotional

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Today’s Truth

Be still and know that I am God.

(Psalm 46:10, NIV)

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It is totally true that we have to learn to get still and quiet in order to hear from God. This is why God tells us in the Psalms:


“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10


I love the story of Elijah the prophet who is waiting to hear from God about the man who will replace him and carry on the ministry. (Elijah’s story is found in 1 King 19.)


Elijah asks God to speak to him. Elijah goes through a great storm – but God does not speak in the storm. He experiences an earthquake – but God does speak in the earthquake. He sees a great fire – but again, God does not speak in

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Today’s Truth

God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1

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The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He feverishly prayed for God’s rescue, but with every day that passed, his hope weakened. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.


One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. Everything was lost. Stunned with grief and anger, the man cried, “God, how could you do this to me!”


The next morning, he woke to the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I

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Today’s Truth

LORD, even when I have trouble all around me, You will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, You will reach down and save me by Your power.

Psalm 138:7

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My father-in-law was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean when he was caught in a school of jellyfish. Dad was stung twenty-three times. In severe pain and a state of sheer panic, he began to swim furiously, trying to escape the poisonous sea creatures.


The only problem was that he was not sure which way was up.


Dad was soon running out of air. He prayed … asking God for help.


And then a thought occurred to him. His only hope was to stop, relax, and look for the light. As he forced himself to relax, he began to float. And then he saw it … the light. With his last bit of energy, he began to swim toward the light and

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Today’s Truth

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

Hebrews 11:1

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Valleys are lined with disappointment and discouragement. Some people seem to thrive on adversity, emerging from their valley with greater strength and deeper faith. Others stumble and fall, giving in to discouragement and dropping out of the race. The difference in outcome is determined by the way we choose to handle discouragement.


We must respond to each valley with trust and faith. The word “trust” means “to lie helpless, face down” and is the picture of a servant waiting for his master’s command or a soldier yielding himself to a conquering general. “Heart” refers to “the center of one’s being.” In other words, to trust God completely means that from the very center of our being, from the very

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Today’s Truth

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

Psalm 23:4

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The greenest grass is always found in the valley. Shepherds and sheep are well acquainted with the fact that both mountains and valleys are an inevitable part of life.


Remember – the shepherd has to figure out a way over the mountain and through the valley. If a sheep is injured, the shepherd must carry his sheep and tend to its wounds until they are healed and the sheep is ready to return to the fold. The shepherd’s whole world revolves around the safety and comfort of his sheep, even in the deepest valley.


Valleys are a certainty of life. Your job is eliminated. Your husband is having an affair, or your teenage daughter is pregnant. Financial pressure suffocates dreams,

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Today’s Truth

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.

1 Peter 4:10

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Hamburgers are a regular item on the Southerland summer menu … for several reasons.


Hamburgers are inexpensive, easy to prepare, and scrumptious.


Hamburgers can be cooked outside. We live in Kansas where the summer heat can be brutal. Why add to the rising temperature outside by turning on an oven inside?


On one particular hamburger-kind-of night, my husband offered to do the grilling, but he had just gotten home from work and looked like he needed a nap more than he needed to grill anything.


Being the wonderful wife that I am, I said, “Honey, why don’t you take a quick nap while I grill the hamburgers?” Being the wonderful husband that he is, Dan responded, “I will be glad to do

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Today’s Truth

How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings

Psalm 36:7

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In the early days of the automobile, a man’s Model – T Ford stalled in the middle of the road. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get it started. A chauffeured limousine pulled up behind the stalled car and a wiry, energetic man stepped from the back seat to offer his assistance.


After tinkering with the engine for a few moments, the stranger said, “Now try it!” Immediately, the engine leaped to life. The well-dressed man then identified himself as Henry Ford. “I designed and built these cars,” he said, “So I know what to do when something goes wrong.”


When our lives are broken, when the plan falls apart and everything goes wrong, we need to wait on

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely, goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23

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In my last devotion, I described a special Saturday evening revival service at our small country church. I sat in my usual spot, desperately clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children’s choir. I never missed a service unless I was deathly ill. I was a leader in our youth group, rarely failed to attend a youth activity and often brought friends who were lost, unlike me, of course, and needed to know God. How embarrassing to walk down that

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Today’s Truth

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends.

Psalm 100:3

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Shepherding was one of the oldest callings in Israel, even before farming. Shepherds traveled from place to place, living in tents while driving their flocks from one pasture to another. The sheep and their shepherd lived together every minute of every day. In fact, they were so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.


A shepherd owned and marked his sheep. In some cases, the sheep were even branded, although branding is no longer an accepted method of identification because of the damage it does to the wool. Today, the ears of sheep are pierced with identification tags

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Today’s Truth

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5

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Cantaloupe may very well be my favorite food. When it is in season, I stock up and always have some on hand. On one particularly hot day, a lunch of cantaloupe sounded luscious … and it was. Afterwards, I was gone for several hours, running errands. When I walked back in the front door that afternoon, a foul stench nearly knocked me down. It was such a strong odor! A dead animal was my first thought. A plumbing problem was my next idea. I began a room-to-room search that ended abruptly at the kitchen sink. Opening the cabinet underneath, I nearly gagged at the stench that slapped me in the face. I instantly remembered that I had thrown

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.”

Psalm 28:7

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I love the story of a tourist visiting the Grand Canyon. As he gazed in wonder at the sight before him, the tourist got too close to the edge, lost his footing, and fell over the side. Just before he went out of sight, the man grabbed a scrubby bush and held on for dear life. Filled with terror, he called out toward heaven, “Is anyone up there?” A calm powerful voice came out of the sky, “Yes, there is.” The tourist pleaded, “Can you help me?” The calm voice replied, “I’m sure I can. What seems to be the problem?” The man explained, “I fell over the edge of the canyon and am now dangling in space,

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Today’s Truth

He (God) is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven.

Ephesians 1:7

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The holidays have a way of resurrecting old hurts. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the choice to forgive those who have hurt us.


Forgiveness is not easy – but it is necessary if we want to experience peace and joy.


Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think they owe us. Refusing to do so extinguishes our joy.


Sometimes we just need to let go and cut our losses instead of allowing the weight of an unpaid debt deplete our mental and emotional energy. In other words, we can forgive the debt and set ourselves free.


Years ago, Dan and I decided it was time to sell one of our old junky cars.

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Today’s Truth

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

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As a high school junior, I decided it was time to take Homemaking 101. I can still see Mrs. Johnson’s face as she naively gazed at her new students. Bless her unsuspecting heart! She had no idea the challenge I brought to that class or to her career as a teacher. For weeks, I muddled through each lesson with a respectable, but less than stellar performance, until we hit the section on sewing. It would prove to be her undoing where I was concerned.


Being the veteran teacher that she was, Mrs. Johnson took a deep breath and doggedly plunged ahead in determination, vowing she could teach anyone to sew – even me. I decided to make a blouse,

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Today’s Truth

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

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According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 110 million Americans take medication for stress-related causes each week. During the holiday season, another one million people battle what experts refer to as the “holiday blues.” I am very familiar with depression and the pain it holds and must constantly battle to stay out of that pit.


Depression is an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual disorder. Something is out of balance. We have buried some pain instead of confronting it or we have misplaced our trust and sought help from impotent sources. In order to deal with depression, we must first come to a place of total and complete surrender to God and His plan of healing, even if

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Today’s Truth

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23:6

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Life is a marathon – not a fifty-yard dash. When the psalmist says, “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever,” he is reminding us that we were created for eternity. But instead of focusing on eternal things, we waste precious emotional energy and priceless spiritual power fixing our gaze on the here and now. I am not saying we need to ignore what God gives us to do today because the truth is that each step on each day’s path is filled with God ordained opportunities. What I am saying is that much of our stress comes when we measure life and hold it up against the wrong backdrop.


When our son was a little boy,

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Today’s Truth

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

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“You will never be able to have biological children,” the doctor said. After years of painful tests, expensive treatments, frustrating procedures and desperate pleas and prayers, our hopes of having children were shattered by his harsh diagnosis. “Then we will adopt,” my husband immediately replied. I wasn’t so sure. Could I love another woman’s baby as much as a child I would give birth to? I just didn’t know.


Months later, God called Dan to be the Youth Pastor of a church where we met a Christian attorney. “We’d like to talk with you about adoption,” Dan told the attorney. His response wasn’t encouraging. “I rarely do adoptions but come by my office and fill out the papers –

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Today’s Truth

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

Matthew 21:22

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My sister loves socks. One day, we were shopping and happened to walk into a department store where neither one of us could afford to buy a single thing. We were just passing through, on our way to find the bargains we could afford. With a sigh and a wistful look on her face, Betty said, “I wish I could afford to shop in this store.” When I asked her what she would buy, she immediately replied with a smile, “Socks! I want a big box of socks. I would wear a different pair every day.” I could think of several things I would have liked to buy in that store and socks was not one of them.

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Today’s Truth

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

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Every year, I make a Christmas list comprised of every person for whom I am buying a gift. Beside each name, I write a dollar amount – a limit for how much money I will spend on that gift – and whole-heartedly declare not to spend one penny more.


Somehow, the amount I actually spend rarely coincides with the amount I intended to spend, but I digress.


With every purchase, I then draw a beautiful red line through that name.


Done!


I carry that list everywhere I go because there are evil people lurking in my home who will go to any lengths to find that list. Why? Because I am the Queen of Christmas Surprise! I have to guard the Secret

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Today’s Truth

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

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I’m tired.


Tired of waking up each morning to face more trials – more noise – more chaos.


I’m tired of trying to “fix” people and circumstances.


I’m tired of dealing with angry people everywhere I turn.


I’m tired of senseless violence and the horrendous loss of life at the hands of broken people.


I’m tired of the incessant dealing with physical pain and constantly battling the darkness of depression.


I’m tired of Satan attacking my husband, my children, and my grandchildren!


What I want to do is quit. I want to give up. I want to take my computer and my cell phone and toss them in a garbage dump, cutting off my connections to so many people in the world I have carefully

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Today’s Truth

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Proverbs 11:3

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Flying home from a speaking event, I was thumbing through a magazine someone left behind when the title of an article caught my eye. “Image is everything” the author declared. For a few seconds, I found myself mentally agreeing with the author’s statement until I recognized the subtle lie hidden in the seemingly-benign words.


As followers of Christ, we sometimes focus on developing and presenting the right image while neglecting the spiritual discipline of integrity. Our public lives are only as authentic as our private lives. Image is who and what people think we are while integrity is who and what we really are. Billy Graham once said, “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together.

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Today’s Truth

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Proverbs 14:30

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We all know what it is like to be green with envy. We all struggle with jealousy at some point in life. Let’s be honest. How often do we look at another person and covet their success? How many of us are not content to serve God with the gifts He has given us while whining about the fact that others have the gifts we want. We convince ourselves that our longing for a bigger platform is to further the Kingdom when, in reality, that longing is for self-promotion, fame and recognition. Ugly, isn’t it? Jealousy is one of the most dangerous emotions because it is one of the most destructive.


“Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a

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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

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I try to avoid pain whenever possible.


Pruning sounds painful to me … cutting and tearing away and leaving behind. But I have come to realize that pruning is an important part of the growth process.


Lincoln Love was a member of the first church where my husband was the lead teaching pastor. Before he retired, Lincoln worked for the Department of Defense … or they worked for him … I’m not really sure which was the true chain of command.


Lincoln was short … but only in height. He was a brilliant man with a big heart. Sparkling blue eyes gave away the boyish charm and energizing perspective with which he lived life.


Lincoln and his wife Marion adopted Dan and

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Today’s Truth

The Lord's servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be patient with difficult people.

2 Timothy 2:24

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All relationships require patience. But the more difficult the relationship, the more patience is needed. As a result, we often find ourselves seated in one of God’s waiting rooms, waiting for that exasperating person to become encouraging, hoping that the difficult relationship with which we struggle will become easier. I hate to wait, for anything or anyone, which is the very reason I am in the waiting room to start with and the purpose behind the presence of sandpaper people in my life. They teach us to wait.


It is in those waiting rooms that the condition of the heart is exposed. Who and what we really are emerge from the unique pressure only a difficult relationship can bring.


When

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Today’s Truth

When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity’ 

Luke 13:12

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Have you ever wondered if God even knows your name? Have you doubted His awareness or even His concern about what you are going through? Have there been times when you felt totally alone and worthless? I have. I can relate to the woman described in Luke 13. Oh, our problems may not be exactly the same, but the feelings and emotions are – and so is the answer.


Jesus knew this woman. He knew she had been sick for 18 long years and that she had tried everything to be healed. He knew – but He looked past her pain and saw who she really was, and all she was created to be. He could have called her

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Today’s Truth

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21

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Hudson is only three years old, but he is already beginning to grasp the concept of accountability. Somewhere in his little heart, Hudson understands the truth that he needs someone to help him do the right thing. He knows he is weak. He wants to make the right choice, but sometimes he just can’t. And in those moments of weakness, he needs someone to take the decision out of his hands. Hudson has chosen his six-year-old brother Justus to be that someone in his life.


Justus and Hudson love the television show Paw Patrol which is a preschool action series about seven heroic puppies, Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Rubble, Skye, and Everest, led by a tech-savvy boy named Ryder.

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

Proverbs 27:6

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Dan and I just celebrated 42 years of marriage. And every single day has been filled with peace, marital bliss, more peace … and I need to stop right there before a bolt of lightning strikes me dead!


Dan and I have a great marriage – most of the time. Honestly, there have been days when I have thought about getting in the car and driving away. I am sure there have been more days when Dan has had the same thought. We have weathered some severe storms in our marriage, and it is only by the grace of God that we still love and respect each other after all these years. We are best friends – flawed and

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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

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I was in a hurry. It was Wednesday, and I had several errands to run before heading to the church where I teach a monthly Bible study for women. My last stop was the grocery store. I wanted to pick up snacks and drinks for many of the women who came straight from work to the study. It didn’t take long to fill my cart with drinks, chips, fruit and a few bags of the oh-so-necessary chocolate treats. Mission accomplished, I headed to the checkout lane.


I suddenly had the thought that I should check out the Christmas decorations. Huh? Where had that thought come from? True, it was only a few weeks until Christmas, but I didn’t even

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Today’s Truth

so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Romans 12:5

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A certain expert guide lived in the deserts of Arabia. He was known for his tracking skills and the fact that he never lost his way. The secret of his success could be found in the fact that he carried with him a homing pigeon that had a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When he had doubts as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, leading the guide accurately to his goal. Because of this unique practice, the man was known as “The Dove Man.”


We always need connections to those who will point us in

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Today’s Truth

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Romans 12:11

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I recently stopped at a local discount store to pick up a few things. When I went to check out, the cashier looked very familiar. He must have seen the question in my eyes because he smiled and said, “It’s good to see you, Mrs. Southerland.” When I heard his voice, I immediately recognized him as the manager of a local grocery store where I frequently shopped. Before I could say one word, he explained, “I lost my job at the grocery store. Evidently, I needed to change mission fields for a while.” Now that is what I call a heavenly perspective of an earthly job.


God uses our work as one of His tools to mold us into

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Today’s Truth

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3: 23

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Isn’t it amazing to think God has fashioned a “work” for each one of us to do? We often assume God is only interested in “church work.” Nothing could be further from the truth.


When Jesus lived on earth, He spent most of His time outside the temple walls, with people. He visited their homes, their workplaces, their parties – their lives. Jesus wanted to be with people. We need to have that same attitude when it comes to the workplace. God has placed you in your job for many reasons.


We all want to be successful in our work. Your office may be downtown or just inside your front door. Your work clothes may be a Casper suit or

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Today’s Truth

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

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As a grandmother, I can testify to the importance of gates. I remember when our grandson Hudson first started walking. He was a champion crawler and he especially loved stairs. We just happened to live in a townhouse that had three flights of stairs, much to Hudson’s delight. Oh, we bought him toys, but they were nothing more than momentary distractions from his favorite toy – the stairs.


When Hudson first learned to climb up the stairs, we bought a gate to keep him from falling down those same stairs. I wondered how he would react to his new confinement. It didn’t take long to find out. When our daughter dropped him off for a visit, Hudson played with

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Today’s Truth

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him”

Luke 8:23-25

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I hate storms! And yet, it seems that I have just come through a storm, am in the middle of one, or see dark clouds gathering just ahead. Storms are a reality of life. I have always thought of storms as bad things until I look back over my life and see what God has done through them.


Sometimes the storm came to disrupt my path and sometimes it came to clear it.


I have learned who God is on a whole new level and in a more intimate way.


I once thought that every storm was punishment for something I had done in my past.


Jesus and the disciples had just fed thousands of men, women, and children with a few

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Today’s Truth

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

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I will never forget the day I discovered that our son is not perfect. Jered was about six months old and crawling everywhere. I had just returned from running errands and was busy putting groceries away in the kitchen, which had a pass-through opening that enabled me to keep an eye on Jered while I worked. He seemed content as he played with his toys, occasionally taking a break to terrorize our two cats.


When Jered first began to crawl, we removed anything that could hurt him, most of our breakables and everything of sentimental value. We left a beautiful conch seashell on the living room coffee table and used it to begin the arduous but vital task of

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Today’s Truth

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.

John 10:27

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Voices.


Our lives are filled with voices clamoring for our undivided attention.


Every day … all day.


Have you ever had the thought that God loves you and everyone else has a plan for your life?


My husband was going back to seminary and I wanted a teaching job. Even though I applied early, successfully went through the interview process, and even met with a principal I really liked, my phone was silent. No teaching jobs were available.


Even though my heart was not in it, I began looking for another job. I had to make some money while Dan went to seminary. I landed a coveted job in downtown Ft. Worth at an insurance agency. The people I worked with were wonderful,

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Today’s Truth

The God who made you is like your husband. His name is the LORD All-Powerful.

Isaiah 54:5

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When Dan and I were first married, I really struggled with what to call his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Southerland seemed too formal, but Jerry and Norma seemed too familiar and did not address my level of respect for them. On the other hand, “Mom” and “Dad” were just a little too intimate for me – maybe because I was still working through a lot of issues concerning my dad who died when I was four years old. My mom was both mother and father to me for most of my life. It almost seemed disloyal to address another woman as “mom.”


I solved my problem by not calling them anything – which was not really a solution at

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Today’s Truth

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Psalm 23:4

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The greenest grass is always found in the valley. Shepherds and sheep are well acquainted with the fact that both mountains and valleys are an inevitable part of life. Again, the shepherd is the one who has to figure out a way over the mountain and through the valley. If a sheep is injured, the shepherd must carry his sheep and tend to its wounds until they are healed and the sheep is ready to return to the fold. The shepherd’s whole world revolves around the safety and comfort of his sheep, even in the deepest valley.


Valleys are a certainty of life. Your job is eliminated. Your husband is having an affair, or your teenage daughter is pregnant.

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Today’s Truth

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ Matthew 19:14

Matthew 19:14

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I believe that much of our stress is the result of a constant and innate quest to be loved and to love. As a result, the problems come when we look in the wrong places for love.


For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.


I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors were open. It was not until middle school that the spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God and

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Today’s Truth

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Ephesians 2:10

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As an elementary school teacher, I am fairly certain I learned a whole lot more than my students did. My first full-time teaching position was in a school of 900 students, K3 through second grade.


As I read over the files of my students, I was appalled at the labels that had been attached to these kids by their previous teachers. At the ripe old age of six, these children were described as corrupt, bad, failures, impossible to control … and one child was actually pronounced “stupid.” I was furious! I was also determined to change the way the children saw themselves. I pulled out all the stops to help them understand how special they were, but “Star of

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Today’s Truth

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since He had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

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I learn a lot from our grandchildren. When our grandson Justus was five years old, he came up with what I thought was an ingenious plan for disobedience. Our daughter called one day, laughing. “Mom, I have to tell you what your grandson just said.”


Now when Danna refers to Justus as “your grandson” it generally means he has done something wrong – an extremely rare occurrence as far as I can tell.


Danna said, “I told Justus it was time to put away his toys and get ready for his nap. He stopped what he was doing, and I could tell he was seriously thinking about what I had asked him to do. Then his eyes sparkled, and he

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Today’s Truth

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

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My husband is a surrendered giver. I struggle with giving. I tend to blame my reluctance to give on the fact that I grew up in a shack on the edge of town. My mother often worked two and three jobs a day just to put food on the table. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, lived in a very nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, and never had to worry about having his needs met. You can see where my rationalizations took me. Yep – to a place of sin.


God wants us to surrender everything we have to Him because the reality is that giving is the antidote to selfishness. I

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Today’s Truth

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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You have heard the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Truer words were never spoken when talking about encouragement. We all need encouragement – especially during the tough times. Those “tough” times can come in all shapes, sizes and forms and can vary from person to person.


We have one child who has been known to run an extremely high fever, walk around on a broken foot, and have a headache that would put me in bed … all without a word of complaint. The doctors have always been amazed at this child’s high level of pain tolerance. We have another child who has been known to dissolve into hysterics at the sight of a splinter embedded in

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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

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I was raised to be an independent and self-sufficient woman. At an early age, I learned that if I wanted something done right, I needed to do it myself. Consequently, when the hard times come, my first response is often to assure God and everyone else that I am fully capable of handling whatever life throws at me. Like the stubborn toddler, I insist that I can “do it myself!” I have trained my heart and mind to believe the lie that I am in control of my fate, fully able to run my own life, and prepared to call my own shots. In other words, I am playing God.


Several years ago, I underwent what I thought was

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Today’s Truth

Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’

John 5:1-6

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I opened my eyes and came face-to-face with darkness, a very familiar foe. I immediately knew it was going to be one of “those” days. I have struggled with clinical depression for many years and am well acquainted with its ugliness.


A heavy blanket of darkness seems to be weighing me down.


Each step is like trying to walk through quicksand.


Joy and laughter are buried under layers of gripping pain.


The smallest tasks seem like huge mountains to climb.


I don’t want to do anything or see anyone.


I know better. God’s promises have not changed nor has His faithfulness abandoned me. He is with me. He never promised I would have no pits in this life, but He did and does continually

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Today’s Truth

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

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Have you ever wanted to “freeze” a moment and make it last a lifetime? I have. I have also lived through certain moments that I wish I could change or even delete and pretend they never happened. But change is a natural part of life. We can embrace it, or we can fight it.


My husband often says that the only people who really like change are wet babies. However, I have discovered that some people thrive and live for change to the point that they are “change junkies” and have little stability. Others dig in their heels and refuse to change a thing and ultimately become prisoners of old habits – both good and bad. When it comes

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Today’s Truth

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

Psalm 18:28

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A beekeeper once told author F.B. Meyer how some of the young bees are nurtured to ensure their healthy development. The queen lays each egg in a six-sided cell, which is filled with enough pollen and honey to nourish the egg until it reaches a certain stage of maturity. The top is then sealed with a capsule of wax.


When the food is gone, it is time for the tiny creature to be released. The wax is so hard to penetrate that the bee can make only a very narrow opening. It is so narrow that in the agony of exit, the bee rubs off the membrane that encases its wings. When it finally does emerge, it is able

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Today’s Truth

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

2 Timothy 3:16

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If we really want to know God, if we really want to understand who and whose we are, the Bible must have the highest place in our lives. We don’t have to be a Bible scholar or have a firm grip on the Hebrew and Greek languages to know and apply God’s promises. As we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will give us understanding and teach us how to apply God’s truth.


A disciple is a follower and a student. If we want to follow God and be His disciple, then we must understand the importance of the Bible, love the Word, and spend time in it. I thought I was doing a fair job of loving God’s

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Today’s Truth

So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6:9

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The story is told of a great pianist who was scheduled to perform for a small country town. Everyone in the town was excited since they rarely had the opportunity to hear a famous musician. A young mother was especially excited. Her son had been taking piano lessons and showed great promise. However, he hated to practice. His mother was hoping that if her son saw the great pianist perform, he would be motivated to take his music more seriously.


The night of the concert finally arrived, and it seemed as if everyone in town had come. As the young mother settled her son in his seat, her attention turned to the crowd pouring in. Everyone was dressed in

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Today’s Truth

So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:18

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In an effort to escape the brutal summer heat of South Florida, our family headed to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. We splashed in the icy mountain streams until our hands and feet were almost numb from the cold and spent as much time outside as we possibly could; trying to soak up the cool, crisp mountain air. The Blue Ridge Parkway was one of our favorite spots for hiking, so we planned a day trip that included exploring a few hiking trails, a picnic, and a visit to the beautiful and historic colonial home of Carl Sandburg.


We woke to discover the beautiful weather of the day before had dissolved into a soupy mix of drizzle and

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Today’s Truth

But if we confess our sins, He will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.

1 John 1:9

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As a little girl, I always looked forward to the first day of summer vacation because it meant two things. First, I did not have to sit in a classroom all day wasting precious brain power trying to comprehend and learn what I considered to be useless information. Second, I did not have to wear shoes except when I went to church or when my mother handed down the decree, “If you are going with me, you have to wear shoes.” It had to be a really important errand for me to don even a pair of sandals or flip-flops.


Those first few days of my shoeless adventures were always a painful shock to my tender feet since my

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Today’s Truth

May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Psalm 20:4

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Did you know that the African impala is able to jump over ten feet high and cover a distance of greater than thirty feet? Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in any zoo by a three-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land.


I can really relate.


I like to consider myself a woman of great faith, but if I am brutally honest, I tend to be more like an impala. I want to understand every step of God’s plan, and I want to know exactly where the finish line is for that plan.


I have come to the conclusion that many of our problems stem from the fact that we are

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Today’s Truth

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:12

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Patience is not one of my greatest strengths. In fact, I tend to live each day with a schedule in mind – an agenda by which to live that day and several goals I need to meet before the day’s end.


God does have a sense of humor.


I can’t tell you how many times my schedule falls apart, the agenda is completely forgotten, and I have to move today’s goals to tomorrow’s list of things to do. I am learning that when God wants to build a certain quality in my life, He puts me in the opposite circumstance. For example, if God wants me to be more patient, He arranges the hours and minutes of my day in

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Today’s Truth

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.

Psalm 62:5

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As we drove through the scenic mountains of North Carolina, I could feel my soul begin to settle and my spirit grow quiet. It was a welcome feeling … one that was a long time coming.


We had been vacationing at Lake Lure since our children were toddlers. Now Jered and Danna are married and have children of their own. And we were about to meet all of them for a whole week of vacation together!



Could. Not. Wait.

But I really needed a little time to just be still. To set aside the busy schedule I had just left behind. To reset my heart and mind on the precious lives and legacy about to arrive, yelling “Mimi” as they scampered

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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