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“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Today may you possess the confidence that comes from knowing you are valuable to God.

May you feel the certainty that God is watching over you always.

May you believe you are capable of all things through Christ who gives you strength.

May you daily be aware of the God who holds you lovingly in his care.

Today I pray you know the peace of God’s presence and feel his unwavering love. Know that you are the cherished child of our Father in Heaven.

Amen.

What are you praying for today? How do you recognize the peace that faith in God gives?

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“Are you awake?”

Some mornings I find it difficult to drag myself out of bed at 5:00. I shuffle to the sink to brush my teeth, then pull on yoga pants and tie on running shoes. When I open the front door and step outside, the sky is just beginning to brighten beyond the trees.

Despite my reluctance some days, I enjoy these early morning summer walks when the air is still cool and most of the world sleeps. Our path takes us on three winding miles over tree-lined trails and past still-snoozing suburban housing. Wildlife occasionally wanders in our way. We’ve seen opossums, raccoons, and rabbits too numerous to count. Once a deer watched us warily as we strolled by.

My morning walks all seem the same: the smooth and slowly unfolding trail, the peaceful and slumbering houses, the sheltering and whispering trees.

Yet every morning walk is different.

The wind constantly changes directions – cool and rushing one day, heavy and clinging the next. The light changes by the minute, bringing brightness and clarity to areas that were wrapped in shadow. I never know what four-footed creature may choose to cross my path. Every walk is an adventure. Every step outside explores a new and altered world.

Like early morning light, our lives are always changing. Every sunrise is different, and each day is the start of a new journey. Every moment offers the chance to choose our next move differently, and each step we make may lead us in a new and unexpected direction.

The only way to fail is to stop moving. Only when we refuse to step forward do we get left behind. If we choose to stay safely behind our locked doors and curtained windows, we miss the changing sights just beyond our point of view.

After the three-mile hike, I’m ready to return to my safe and welcoming home, but I am never the same when I unlock and enter the door. My day lies ahead, filled with opportunity, and I am awake to a new beginning.

This morning I encourage you to greet your day as the start of a new adventure. I pray you step forward in faith that God is with you on your walk.

How will you choose to begin your morning? What do you hope to discover on your journey?

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The bell jingled when we opened the door. We walked through narrow aisles, between shelves piled high with teacups and toy tractors. We passed towering stacks of cookbooks and photographs, angled through crooked passageways to rooms overflowing with tools and jewelry.

I love shopping for antiques in quiet corners of dusty shops. I collect pitchers, and I love to discover a unique and valuable treasure that someone else has left behind. I pluck my prize from the dust and disorder of the cluttered shelf, clean the piece carefully in my kitchen sink, and proudly display it atop my kitchen cabinet. I enjoy the unique beauty of each piece I bring home, and I am grateful I can give each one a new place and new beginning in my possession.

It occurs to me that God performs a similar function in our lives. He sees each of us as useful and valuable, an original piece of unique beauty. He lifts us from the disarray and uncertainty of our lives and cleans us carefully in his loving hands. God sets us where he can enjoy our presence and appreciate us as his cherished treasure. He gives each follower a new life in a new home, where we begin again with new place and purpose.

I enjoy antique shopping because I love to find the pieces other people leave behind. I am grateful because I know God has seen my value and he has claimed me for his own.

Do you know your own unique worth? Do you realize how God treasures you?

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I have been back at the sewing machine. The hum of the needle feels peaceful and relaxing. I am rewarded when the pieces I’ve patiently cut from old pajama pants come together to form a new and original finished piece.

My pattern of choice is usually boxy squares. The straight lines are easy to sew, and my projects fly together quickly. I realize my preference for squares indicates a need to fill my life with neatly arranged corners and angles. Random sizes and shapes of material are cut down into manageable blocks that neatly stack and form straight corridors. My masterpiece of quiltwork included old sweatshirts and nightgowns and now covers the daybed in my office.

God does similar work within our lives. He disassembles the worn and ragged areas, cuts away the excess borders that no longer work or fit. He rearranges the pieces to form a new and original pattern, then he carefully stitches us together again to form a greater and more colorful whole. God uses the scraps that would be discarded by others, and recreates our lives into something useful, new, and beautiful.

When we allow God to shape the fabric of our existence, he makes our lives more manageable. He forms the straight lights and corridors that lead us where he wants us to go. Under God’s constructive hands, everyone can be remade with a new purpose: to warm, embrace and comfort others, to cover with softness the others in our care.

We are all like quilts, and God is our Creator. He cuts the pattern and places the pieces into his great and masterful design.

 

How has your life been remade in God’s hands? How have you become a new and useful masterpiece?

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Show dogs are trained in gaiting --- trotting around the ring with their heads held high. Keeping the dog’s head up displays her form and motion for the judge who awards the final prize.

My dog is no show dog. On our morning walks she strains on the leash with her head down, snuffling along the pavement. She pauses at every abandoned candy wrapper and discarded cigarette, sees only the dead leaves and clumps of dried grass left withering on the sidewalk. Ahead of us rabbits leap for cover and birds flutter to higher vantage points, but my dog never notices them. She is too distracted by the clutter and garbage that litter the ground, and she misses the excitement and activity that cross our path only feet away.

Too often we keep our heads down, focused only on the road under our feet, gazing at the small patch of earth only inches ahead of our toes. We forget about the wide world, and we become unaware of the rest of life teeming just beyond our sight. We limit our perceptions and stifle our experiences when we do not raise our heads to see what lies before and around us.

I want to always be looking forward, scanning the distance for new and exciting opportunities. I want to be always fully aware of the broad and beautiful world that lies beyond my next step, and I ask God to guide me as we travel the path together. I pray I am always ready to discover all that lies behind each new horizon.

My dog is no show dog, and neither am I, but I can lift my gaze from the pavement of our daily walk and see the sights beyond my own small circle. I pray I will always examine the wider view and explore everything God puts in my way.

Have you ever limited your view of the world? How can you look beyond your immediate surroundings to perceive a broader horizon?

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