I found this rock with purple painted flowers beside the walking trail in my neighborhood. Someone took the time to decorate this fragment of stone and leave it there for me to discover. I took it home and placed it on my desk – a visible reminder that we often find good and beauty where we least expect it.

Unexpected discoveries add joy and color to our lives. A chance conversation that reconfirms our faith, a sudden opportunity that perfectly meets our need, a moment of joy in an otherwise normal day – all serve as reminders that God hides gifts and bounty where we least expect to find them.

God is always surprising us. He places brightly colored blessings along all the paths we walk. When we remain open to receiving his gifts and take the time to look for the clues he leaves, we find evidence that he is always present, good, and active in our lives.

For now the rock remains on my desk, reminding me to watch for the surprises God sends. Soon I may return the rock to the gravel beside the walking trail, an unexpected and colorful gift for someone else to discover and enjoy.

Today I encourage you to welcome the unexpected moments of color you encounter. Remember God is always giving, we just need to watch and welcome the blessings he sends.

What unexpected blessings have you uncovered recently? What gifts has God left for you to find?

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I have never been a peaceful sleeper. Most nights I sleep in fitful and erratic snatches of time, waking often. Sometimes I give up at 1 or 2 in the morning, slip out of bed, and sneak downstairs to read a book.

I could turn on the hallway lights, wake up my husband, and startle the dog. Instead, I prefer to creep through the house in the midnight dark, tiptoeing down the stairs and through the silent shadows, imagining all the scary things that haunt us about dark houses.

My midnight walks are a form of test, a way to force myself to face my fear.

Each time I arrive downstairs and snap on the lamp, I find my safe and familiar living room, the same comfy sofa, the dog toys scattered on the floor. Every time I reach my destination, I remember that all I imagine could be lurking in the dark is not the reality I see when I fill the room with light.

So it is with all our fears. Often, the problems that we imagine, the shadows that scare us, will no longer exist when we arrive and turn on God’s light. When we confront our fears directly, they lose their power to influence our decisions and will no longer keep us frozen in the dark.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7.

Today I encourage you to directly face one fear that has been holding you back: descending the dark and mysterious midnight stairs, tackling an ambitious job interview, risking a new and promising relationship, or moving on to some new adventure. I challenge you to take any step into strange and unknown territory where shadows linger and shroud the path ahead. I pray you see that when we shine the light on what we fear, what we discover is often safe and comfortable after all.

What fear can you challenge yourself to face today? How do you feel when you bring light to a dark situation?

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September 1st approaches, the time I always think of as the real New Year. School terms are starting. Church programs begin. We buy fresh clothes, shoes, pencils, and backpacks. We adjust to changing schedules and expectations. Fall is a busy time, a final flurry of activity before the holidays and then settling in for a long winter’s rest.

Each season promises an exciting new beginning. Every new start gives an opportunity to learn and grow. A change in the weather brings a chance for building friendships and exploring ideas.

This September I pray you welcome the new season. I hope you receive the inspiration and experiences to propel you into a time of expansive growth and understanding. Know God is with you always, through every season of your year.

What are you looking forward to this fall? How do you greet the start of a different season?

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