“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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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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Many years ago I worked in a bank. Banking is a fine career for someone with financial aptitude; but for me, it was just a job, and not a job I enjoyed. I felt bored, stifled, and out of place; but I dragged myself through work each day because I was afraid to give up the steady paycheck and health insurance. I had many other dreams for my life, but I told myself I needed that job, and I settled for punching keys at the bank while wishing I were anywhere else.

God doesn’t want us to settle for life that makes us feel stifled and unhappy. He tell us we are capable of reaching the goals and dreams he gives us. Often it is our lack of faith that keeps us from achieving our full potential. Over the years I’ve noticed a few behaviors that keep people from achieving their best.

Limiting Beliefs:

I don’t deserve it. I’m not good enough. I can’t do any better.

Negative beliefs are usually fed into us by other people who believed the same about themselves. This has been the hardest area for me to overcome, and I’ve never found an easy answer. At some point in my journey I decided that I will never know how much I can accomplish until I try, so I at least want to be able to say I made the attempt. That new belief has kept me persisting despite my doubts and persevering toward my goals during many times I wanted to give up and settle for less.

Making Excuses:

I’ve worked all day and I’m tired. I have too much to do. It’s not my fault.

Excuses deflect responsibility, blame others for our failures, and free us from the expectation to work hard. Excuses also prevent us from becoming the people we are meant to be. Becoming all we are capable of means taking responsibility for our actions, discovering how to motivate ourselves, and making the effort necessary to reach our goals. When I stopped complaining about being trapped in my job and started looking for a way to change, my situation improved and new opportunities presented themselves.

Habitual Thinking:

I’ve always done it this way. It will never get any better.  

Habit thinking is hard to identify because so often our bad habits are unconscious and automatic behaviors. It is easy to stay in roles, routines, and relationships that are bad for us because they seem so comforting and familiar. The best way I’ve found for changing bad habits is to work in the smallest possible increments and build up to achieving greater goals and bigger accomplishments. When I decided to leave the bank and began college, I started with one class while I worked. Over time I added more classes and worked up to full-time enrollment.

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Each small step we take leads to the next phase of our journeys. I spent years of working to change my limiting beliefs and reach some of my goals; but I still have far to travel. When we choose to believe that God wants us to live more abundantly, we can faithfully follow wherever he leads.

For more information on changing limiting beliefs, check out this article. For an article about how to stop making excuses, click here. For information on how to change bad habits, check here.

How do you motivate yourself to reach your goals and dreams? How do you choose to live abundantly?

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