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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For those who need some extra inspiration today, I offer a few of my favorite Bible verses.

“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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Remember that God knows all you need, and he will always act on behalf of your highest good.

“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).

Have faith that God is always with you, and let his presence give you peace.

“I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).

Believe he cares for you and has a plan for your well-being.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13).

Trust the Lord holds you in his mighty right hand.

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes . . . ; There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away . . . ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Revelation 21:4-5).

Know that no matter what happens, God is always in control, and he always promises a new beginning.

Today I pray you know that a loving God cares for you. Be at peace and trust that God is aware, and he knows everything you need.

What is your prayer today? What verses remind you that God has you in his care?

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Years ago I rode the bus to work each morning. I stood outside in the rain and cold, boarded the drafty and creaking bus, clung to my seat and fought off motion sickness throughout the jolting, jarring ride to my office building. The best part of my morning commute was the elderly, smiling bus driver. When we reached our destinations, the driver called after each passenger as we stepped down onto the pavement, “Have a blessed day.”

I carried those words with me throughout those days of gray cubicles, fluorescent lights, and narrow hallways. Have a blessed day. The bus driver’s blessing reminded me that someone cared enough to speak a prayer for my well-being and that blessings can be found in every place and situation we seek to find them.

We all share this jolting, jarring road through life. We sometimes face long and tiring travels, unexpected turns, surprise dead ends.

But God is always at the wheel. He takes us where we need to be and delivers us to each destination for a purpose. No matter what we face each morning; God, our driver, speaks words of protection over us and tells us that he cares for our well-being. He comforts and inspires us, and reminds us his blessings can be found in every place we seek to find them.

This morning I encourage you to speak a blessing over someone you know. Remind them that you care for their well-being and that God is always taking them where they need to be. This morning I pray you have a blessed day.

Where is your journey taking you today? What blessing do you need to hear?

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This week I’m exploring a few truths I have learned about God.

"For I know that the Lord is great" (Psalm 135:5).

God is always listening. I was raised to avoid conflict by keeping my mouth shut. I have learned that God is not offended by hearing our true opinions. He created us with minds and emotions, he knows our every thought and feeling, and he encourages us to share every truth with him. We need not keep any secrets from God, but we can always tell him how we feel and know that he will still accept us.

God wants me to listen, too. I have been guilty of not always paying attention, of being busy, self-centered, and caught up in my own agenda and goals. I forget to focus on others, to hear their stories and concerns, to offer my understanding and compassion. God wants me to listen to the people in my life, and he asks that I listen for his voice, too. He gives me quiet promptings about the next steps I should take, and I need to be receptive to those moments when he speaks to me.

God blesses me, whether I notice or not. An old friend once told me this simple prayer: “Thank you for my many blessings, even those I cannot see.” I often take for granted the good things that come to me each day: the loving friends and family, my safe and comfortable home, my gifts of health and purpose. I try to remember to thank God daily for all my benefits and blessings; but I know that on the days I forget, he is still giving. I have been richly blessed, and I am grateful to the God who always listens, loves, and gives me everything I need.

What are you grateful for today? What have you learned about the God who always hears and responds?

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While I'm enjoying a particularly busy week, please enjoy one of  my favorite posts from the archives! 

I spotted this little leftover snowman after last season's Christmas shopping frenzy. When I showed my daughter the picture, she said, "Notice he's still smiling!"

If a dented clearance-sale snowman can keep his smile, we all have many reasons to put on a happy face.

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

Smile when you are bent, bruised and damaged; because you know you are still valuable to God.

Smile when you feel alone, abandoned and rejected; because you know you still have God's company.

Smile when you are unsure, afraid and uncertain; because you know God still has a plan for you.

Keep your smile because you are keeping your faith, and know God smiles on you!

Be happily blessed today!

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As I greet 2018, I’m looking forward to a prosperous year ahead. I know this will be a year of action and change, and I’m ready for all God has planned.

I pray 2018 will be a promising year for all my coworkers, family, and friends. I hope that we feel the presence of God and see the evidence of his power at work in our lives. I ask that the new year brings many blessings, much joy, and abundant peace to all who share our world.

I pray we trust in God’s timing for all the good that lies ahead, we rely on his power to give us courage, and we remember his strength is made perfect in our weakness.

I pray we grow in faith, in hope for the future, and in confidence as we take the next steps on the path ahead.

May you be generously blessed in 2018. Know God is with you every day of the year.

What is your prayer as you begin the new year? How will you know God is directing your steps throughout the days ahead?

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As usual, I’m avoiding the mall and spending my Christmas in quiet contemplation, but there are a few gifts I have been grateful to receive.

Peace. At Christmas I will take all the time I can to relax and rest, to put my feet up, reread The Long Winter, and be grateful that I have a safe and comfortable home, warm central heating, and enough food to eat.

Hope. As 2017 ends, I am particularly excited about the future. I know 2018 will be a year of action, and I’m looking forward to all the positive changes ahead.

Purpose. This year I am grateful for the sense of meaning this season brings. I give thanks that I feel God’s presence in my life, and I know he is guiding the next steps I will take.

Friendship. Today I thank God for all the special people I am blessed to know. I am thankful for my loving and supportive family and the positive, encouraging friends who share my life each day.

Treats. One goal I hold for 2018 is to make better food choices, but the occasional indulgence reminds me that life is sweet. It should be savored and shared.

This Christmas I hope you receive everything you wish. What do you hope for this holiday season?

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Christmas can become a hectic and tiring time, even for those of us who try to keep the festivities simple.

Today I pray we take the time to rest and reflect on Christmas. I pray we consider the true meaning of the season and ask how we can contribute to the peace and joy of others.

I pray we are inspired to help and give to others, to share our gifts and resources, and to bless and serve the people in our care.

I pray we are confident in God’s concern for us, that we feel his presence throughout the year, and that we know he gives to us from the abundance of his love.

This holiday season, I pray you receive everything you wish. May God’s blessings fill your life and spirit this Christmas.

What is your prayer this holiday season?

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It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn toward gratitude, and we are made more aware of the many gifts and blessings we share. Here is my list of the top 10 things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

I love spending an evening at home with my family, and I’m grateful anytime we can share a quiet dinner together.

 

Apple pie and coffee are a perfect ending to that dinner at home.

I’m starting a new quilt to wrap around someone I love. I’ve collected a pile of old tee shirts that will soon become something new and useful.

 

I love to spend an afternoon reading on the couch. This is what I’m reading now.

 

 

This cute electric heating stove creates cozy warmth for my home.

 

I love my old soft, fuzzy slippers,

 

 

And my old owl print pajamas.

 

 

Every year I get nostalgic about classic Christmas films. My favorites are: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and Elf. Click here to check out the Freeform Channel’s 25 Days of Christmas movie schedule.

 

I love this great source for Christmas presents. I won’t spoil the surprise by showing photos of the gifts I bought, but I recommend ordering from John’s Crazy Socks. When I received my order, I was touched to also find a personal note from the company’s co-owner, John. A portion of sales proceeds supports the Special Olympics and Down syndrome awareness.

I am grateful for my family, for my husband, my daughter, and son-in-law, for Bratty Maddie, and all the friends who have supported and encouraged me throughout this year. Thank you all, and I wish you the happiest holidays!

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

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