laura l. smith a 30-day devotional discovering who you were created to be
INTRO So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27 NLT There are too many personality tests out there to count. By
Anyone with me?
answering a few questions online or reading through a book you can decipher what number you are on the Enneagram
So the next thirty days, I thought we’d spend some time
or what Disney heroine you most identify with. And
being intentional. Not letting the homework, evaluations,
although these assessments range from fun and silly to
laundry, and carpools overtake our identities. Instead, let’s
truly helpful in examining our strengths and weaknesses,
spend the next thirty days digging deep into who God
the truth is no matter where we fall on any specific chart or
created us to be, in realizing that if we were made in the
diagram, we were created in the image of God.
Lord of Lords’ image we must be fairly spectacular ourselves, and should probably walk into that amazingness.
This is who you truly are. No matter if you’re an introvert or
Are you ready?
an extrovert. No matter if you like to make lists or fly by the
seat of your pants. Who you are—your true reflection—is
someone carefully crafted by the Creator of the Universe in His holy image. I know it doesn’t always feel like that. In fact, most days I just feel like me—a wife and mom, trying to figure out dinner that everyone in my family will eat and not be allergic to, attempting to get all the kids to their practices or rehearsals on time, hoping to get some work done and that I’ll remember to run the dishwasher. In the midst of all the doing, I forget to reflect on who I am, why I’m doing it all in the first place, and what special traits I bring to the table to accomplish those to-do lists plus all the other stuff, in a way only I can do.
are you ready to
walk into your amazingness?
reflect Write down below any personality types youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been identified with. Now take your favorite color pen, marker, crayon, colored-pencil whatever and write I AM CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.
the truth is:
we are created in the image of God #mytruereflection
I DON’T BELONG
You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here. – Ephesians 2:19 MSG Here I am again—awkward, introvert me—in a group where I
statements can’t change my value, or self worth. They can’t
am not part of the conversation. Ever been there?
change yours. Because I was created in the image of God. And so were you. That’s who we truly are.
For me it might be a family gathering where everyone chats about sports, and I honestly can’t make a single comment,
When the lies cloud our brains, we should shout to the
because I know absolutely nothing and care even less about
voices in our heads, I am not an outsider! I belong! God’s
the topic. It could be at a conference where people are
kingdom is my home! It’s amazing how quickly rooting
discussing an author I’ve never heard of or a book I haven’t
ourselves in our true reflection turns the tables. We belong.
read, and I can’t interject, because my mind is void. While
God says so. Let His voice be the one filling your head, your
my wheels churn in search of something—anything to say, I
heart, your life.
hear the whispers—You don’t belong here. You’re not important.
I’ve heard them all my life. And believed them way too many years. But they’re lies. And if you’ve ever heard anything similar, those were lies, too. First, the fellow family members and conference attendees did not say those things. So, someone talked about something I’m not informed about. No different than if I told a story about a place I’ve visited they haven’t. That doesn’t exclude me or lessen my value; it’s just an opportunity for me to listen. Secondly, even if someone said; What are you—a loser? Have you been living in a closet? Don’t you know anything about football? That wouldn’t mean I am a loser. Those
what lies are
you telling yourself?
reflect What situations have you been in where you felt you didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t belong? What false comments have you told yourself or have others told you in these situations? Write out the verse (Ephesians 2:19) above to remind yourself of who you truly are.
the truth is:
you are not an outsider.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. – 1 Peter 2:9 Have you ever watched the show, The Voice? The first round
God, has already picked us for His team, He’s already
is called the “blind round.” Four judges are turned, their
declared us as chosen, as royal, as holy, as His special
backs facing the stage. Singers come on stage, begin to
possession. This is our true self. We don’t have to rehearse
sing, and are judged solely on their voice. If a judge loves
until we’re hoarse, work harder, or make sure our outfit
what they hear, they push their button, spin around, and in
looks pulled together. We don’t need to worry about getting
doing so are offering that particular vocalist the opportunity
knocked out in the rounds to come. It’s already a done deal.
to be coached, and to move on to the next round. Watching
Jesus pushed His button, turned His chair to face us
the show, there is such a thrill, a high, when someone with
one-on-one, and Jesus is applauding for us. Not because of
an incredible voice gets “picked” by a judge.
something special we’ve prepared, but because He loves us.
Because, don’t we all go around hoping we’ll get “picked” by the judges in our world?
I hope I get chosen to head the committee, get the job, start in the game, sing the song, write the book, get the raise. I hope someone notices my new boots, my hair (because I spent half an hour curling it), my new throw pillows I found for a steal at TJ Maxx, that I cleaned the kitchen. Because, it’s nice to be noticed. And it feels good to be picked.
are you waiting But we already are. Noticed. And Chosen. By the ultimate Judge of all mankind, the One whose opinion truly matters and hushes all the other voices we hear or try to impress.
to be picked by the judge?
reflect Take a moment to write down some of the things you are evaluated on, that you rate yourself on, and/or you hope people will notice in your current roles in life: Now say out loud, “God chooses me. I am chosen. I am God’s special posession.”
the truth is:
God has already chosen you. #mytruereflection
THE SWORD OF GRYFFINDOR
For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. – Luke 11:10 True confession? I’m a giant Potterhead. Whether you’re a
the wise men to help them find the infant Jesus (Matthew
Harry Potter fan or not, the final installment involves a giant
2:1-10). He sent angel armies to protect Elisha (2 Kings
battle scene at Hogwarts, the wizarding school—good guys
6:15-17). God even put a silver coin in the mouth of a fish to
v. bad guys. When things look quite bleak, Dumbledore, the
cover the disciples’ taxes (Matthew 17:27). What He sends is
headmaster, tells Harry, “Help is always given at Hogwarts
usually not where we’d expect it, or how we’d think it
to those who ask for it.” And sure enough, spoiler alert,
should play out, but even when we feel helpless, like we’re
when we least suspect it, one of Harry’s friends finds the
flailing, God is there for us. So much better than a fictional
golden sword of Gryffindor concealed in the Sorting Hat.
wizard, our heavenly Father knows exactly what we need.
It’s just the thing he needs to fight his battle.
God does the same for us. He sends help to those who ask. Not usually how we envision things—much like a sword in a floppy hat—but always exactly how we need it. We might think we need money to pay a bill, but instead of receiving more cash, something ends up costing less than planned. We might think we need to watch ten more YouTube tutorials to learn how to start a podcast when what we really need is to have a conversation with an existing podcaster who answers all our questions over one cup of coffee. The cool thing is, God knows this, and He’s a God who provides.
God sent a flawless lamb to Abraham, when Abraham was desperate for a sacrifice (Genesis 22:13). He sent a star to
what do you need
to fıght your battle?
reflect What do you need most today, or in this season of your life? Pray this prayer, or a similar one. (If it helps you to write it out, go for it.) Dear Jesus, thank you for knowing what I need even more than I do. Right now in my life I wish I had ____________________. I believe You know better than I do what this should look like. Help me be patient and in tune to how Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll provide precisely what I truly need. Amen.
the truth is:
God already knows & He will provide. #mytruereflection
I’ll CATCH YOU
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 Did you ever play the game, “Trust Me”? It’s often played at
Over breakfast I pulled my son close, and said softly, “Hey
team building retreats. One person stands behind another.
bud. I have some bad news.” I inhaled gathering my words
The front person leans back, completely back, like falls
and my breath, “You didn’t get the part.”
backward into space. The person behind is supposed to
He replied, “Okay,” leaned his head against my chest for a
catch the person in front, which builds trust between the
moment, and then went back to his gluten-free blueberry
two. But what if the person in back isn’t paying attention?
waffle. I don’t know what went on in his brain. I’m sure his
Isn’t strong enough? Lets the person in front fall? There’s
heart hurt, at least a little. I’m sure he wondered why he
always that risk. And therefore the leaner usually hesitates.
wasn’t selected, or why someone else was. But he didn’t cry
There’s the half-second when they wonder, “What if?”
or grump, and tonight he seems fine—definitely not wrecked. God heard my prayer and held my son. Because
Life is full of uncertainty. But God is constant. He tells us,
God is good. Because God loves His people (including me,
“Trust me. I’ll catch you,” but we’re hesitant to lean back.
my boy, and you and your clan, too).
Just today I had to tell my son he wasn’t cast in a play he auditioned for. I did not want to deliver the news, to make
With God there’s never a risk. He’s not going to be
him sad, but he needed to know. I didn’t have the right
distracted from you. He’s always strong enough to catch
words to make this a happy moment. I couldn’t stop him
you. He won’t let you down. That doesn’t mean you won’t
from feeling disappointed, but I knew God inexplicably
ever fall in life—He gives us free will, and plenty of chances
loves my son even more than I do. I knew God was
to make mistakes on our own. But it does mean if you trust
completely aware what was best for my son, and somehow
Him, He’ll catch you. For my son, that didn’t mean the part in
him not being in this play is best. Which meant I also knew I
the show, but it meant a less hectic schedule when he was
had to lean back and let God catch me on this one. So, I
already committed to basketball, and maybe avoiding a
prayed. I asked God for the right thing to say and the right
difficult experience. God promises He will use everything
way to say it.
and work it out for glory. That is a promise I long to lean into.
wondering what if? #mytruereflection
reflect What are you struggling to trust God with today? Write it down. Now picture Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s giant arms, reaching out and catching you. Tell Him you trust Him. Ask Him to catch you, to take this thing, so all you have to do is lean into Him.
the truth is:
He will catch you.
TAKE A BREAK
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. – Exodus 20:8 When my kids were little, they fought bedtime like bandits.
called you to rest and to trust Me. That’s part of the
They didn’t want to miss a single story, snack, or snuggle.
But I knew they needed sleep—that they would be happier, healthier, and more productive if they rested. And although I
know this for my kids, I’m personally bad at resting. I run around on high speed all day, paying a bill or shooting a text
But our culture is not set up for rest. We can be accessed
right before bed to check one more item off the list. You?
24/7. Grocery stores and Amazon are open all hours. Streaming lets us watch our favorite shows nonstop. Only
I feel responsible for all the things and all the people, and
one person can make you rest—you.
want them all to go well. But when I operate on full-steam-ahead no-time-for-a-break, I eventually hit a
What day of the week can you dedicate to rest? It doesn’t
brick wall, get a splitting headache, fumble for fresh ideas,
have to be Sundays. Sabbath looks different for all of us.
and get snippy with my family—as if it’s their fault I’m
What do you need to take a break from? What do you
obsess over the most—a clean house? Exercise? Your job? Social media? What’s the hardest thing for you to lay down
God created the world, and on the seventh day, He rested.
for a day?
He’s God, so I’m pretty sure He wasn’t tired. No, God took a day off to model how important this rhythm of work and rest
For me, I rest from “writing stuff” on Sundays. I’m often
is. God the Father says, “You’ll be happier, more productive,
tempted to complete a couple of quick tasks. But when I
and healthier if you rest one day each week.” And like
truly rest, it’s a relief to not look at any of the work, to free
stubborn toddlers, we stomp our feet and resist, because we
myself from those responsibilities and more fully engage
don’t want to miss a single opportunity or interaction.
with Jesus and my family. Come Monday, I’m fresher and better equipped to tackle my to-do list.
Doing the good work God puts in front of us is a fabulous thing. But respecting His boundaries, the “bedtime” our
Throughout these thirty days, we are going to be
Father has designed for us is part of doing that work. I
intentional about rest. It might be hard at first, but I promise
think, If I accomplish one more task… God answers, Do you
we’ll benefit. If you started this study on a Monday, each
really think your one more thing—one more message or
Sunday there will be a verse and short idea about Sabbath.
load of laundry—when I told you to rest is going to move
Feel free to meditate on the verse, read the entire chapter
you forward? Do you think I can’t take care of what needs
in the Bible, journal, or skip it all together—whatever
to get done? I have called you to this work. But I have also
reminds you to rest on those days.
reflect Do you currently take any kind of Sabbath? Describe it (how often, what you rest from, how well you adhere to it). What is one thing you could do tomorrow to improve your Sabbath?
the truth is:
we all need to take a break #mytruereflection
the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest,
a holy day dedicated to the Lord.
PHOTO BY MANDY LEHMAN, @THEMANMANS
You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. | Exodus 31:15 | How will today look different than your other six days of the week? How can you devote some time to God today?
be still and
take this day of complete rest
NO ONE WILL SEE
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:11 My semi-annual dentist appointment revealed a small cavity
sin—when we keep it from the people closest to us, when we
between two of my top back, left molars. It was tiny, but
even try to hide it from ourselves, it’s still there. And no
matter how well we think we’ve concealed our secret habit, thought pattern, or hatred, it’s still flashy and foreign in our
My cavity was tricky to get to. My dentist had to use a metal
band to separate my back teeth. He was also worried about being able to aim the heated light that sets the white filling
That is, until we turn it over to Jesus. And then Jesus doesn’t
trade out a silver filling for a white one. No, He’s much cooler
“We might need to use the old-fashioned silver kind,” he said.
than that. He takes the chunk of metal lodged in the enamel
“That’s fine,” I answered. “It’s not like anyone would see it.”
of our existence and transforms it back into a resilient, healthy
“The only person who would ever see it is me.” My dentist
pearly white. Jesus completely renews us—taking us from
someone marked by sin to full and whole children of God. This is our true self, our true reflection.
And it struck me as so strange that my dentist, who’s a super nice guy and all, but still, he alone would see this secret thing
Jesus already knows about our issues. Even sins we think no
about me. My dear, sweet husband would never see the silver
one can see. In fact Jesus already paid the price for all our
filling. Me, the owner of the mouth, tooth, and filling, would
sins by dying on the cross. But Jesus is still eager for us to
never see the filling. But just because no one would see it,
talk to Him about all the places we’re stuck, so He can fill our
doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be there. The filling, although
hearts, minds, and souls with love and grace. So He can heal
hidden, would still be shiny and alien lodged in the back of
us where we’re hurt and fix us where we’re broken. And that
is something to smile about.
It made me think about sin, dark and secret, hiding where no one can see. But even when we think no one notices our
what are you
reflect What sin might be hidden in your life? Something you would be ashamed if anyone knew? Pray with me: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner, saved by Your grace. There is something You already know about, that I wish was not part of who I am. I am so sorry. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to be a part of it anymore. Please heal me, Lord. Please replace any rot or decay in my life, not with a fast fix or filling, but with your love, making me whole once more. Amen
the truth is:
Jesus already knows all your secrets. #mytruereflection
God, teach me lessons for living, so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me – my whole life one long, obedient response. Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway! – Psalm 119:33 MSG When you’re handed a blank piece of paper are you one of
But when we let God pick if we paint or use pastels or do
those people who immediately start doodling, or are you
origami, if we let God choose if our blank page should be a
the kind who stares it, pondering what to do with the
journal entry, a to-do list, a Bible bookmark, or a place to
write out a song of praise, our days become more peaceful. We feel more like ourselves. We find more joy, and less
Our lives are like those blank pieces of paper. Full of
stress, and feel more satisfied.
possibilities, opportunities, options. And each morning we can choose to scribble all over them or to sit down and ask
Not everything will be sunshine and rainbows, like our crayon
God what He wants the pages of our stories to look like.
drawings from Kindergarten, but things will be sunnier and
What if we handed God a Sharpie and said, “Here, you take
brighter. The tough stuff will be more bearable. We’ll get
it. Write. Draw. Solve equations. Make a sign. Fold it into a
through. The good things will be more joyous and complete.
paper airplane. Whatever You want, Lord. Let that be how
And when we lay our heads on our pillows at night, we’ll be
this sheet of my life looks.”
able to look at that piece of paper, close our eyes, and know we used it for good, for God, and for His glory.
This sounds good, until we want to go somewhere God is telling us not to go, take on a task God is warning us to avoid, say something God is urging us to keep to ourselves, stay at home when God is nudging us to step out, or call a person who God has warned us will be a negative influence. It can be tempting in the moment, but when we try to fill our pages and days with our own plans, they fall flat. We might end up feeling empty, exhausted, unfulfilled, or regretful.
are you filling your life
with your plans or God’s?
reflect Find a blank sheet of paper. What do you want to with it? What is your instinct? Write words, draw pictures, rip it to pieces? Go for it! Now that you’ve got it out of your system, how about turning things over? Dear Jesus, thank You for all the endless opportunities, second chances, things I could learn, and people I might interact with. What do You want me to do today? What “art supplies” (translation: skill sets, talents, resources) do you want me to use? How? Please help me live this day, and all days for You and Your glory! Amen.
the truth is:
God will help you stay the course. #mytruereflection
SCRAPING OFF THE WINDSHIELD
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2 NLT On winter days in high school if I wanted to see on the way
I put it? Dang, we’re out of milk, which means I need to go
to school, which I did, I needed to exit my house five
to the store today, even though I was just there last night.
minutes earlier, turn on my ignition, blast the front and rear
Why didn’t I remember?
defrosters to hot and high, and start the back and forth motions with my plastic scraper against my windows.
Crystals of concern begin to cover the windshield of my
Because every night winter frost decorated my windshield
faith. By the time my kids head out to school, my head is
with delicate, icy crystals. Although I griped about standing
cluttered and has limited visibility. Does this happen to you?
outside in below freezing weather, the crisp air actually did
Is there a time of day that’s crazy, where there is so much
wonders to wake me. And the effort was worth it, because
juggling you lose sight of love, peace, and patience?
the combination of my scraping and the car blowing warmth on the glass, cleared the windows, and I could drive
We need to scrape it all off, so we can see Jesus again. So,
safely and confidently to school (well sort of
we can see how much He loves us, has perfect plans for us,
confidently…I’m not that strong a driver).
and promises to always stay at our sides, so we can see our true reflections. In the silence after my kids scurry, I pull out
I see this in my life, too. Each morning I wake to an alarm,
my Bible and journal, read and write until my mental
and barely take time to yawn before diving into what needs
windshield is clear again, until I’m ready to put my foot to
to be accomplished in the next forty-five minutes—fix five
the pedal and truly start my day. Because it’s only by
breakfasts, dole out vitamins, get out lunch boxes, write and
starting with Jesus, that we have a clearer view of who we
insert notes, and double check everyone has what they
are, where we are going, and what truly matters.
need (the $1 for an out of uniform day, the friend’s jacket left at our house). Nothing hard, but a lot of moving parts for a short amount of time. My brain cranks on rapid fire and starts to stress, worry, and fuss—one of my kids seems down, are they okay? Why can’t I find my wallet? Where did
when do you lose sight of
love, peace and patience?
reflect Do you have any crystals cluttering the windshield of your faith? What are they? What can you do this morning to scrape them off, before driving into your day?
the truth is:
Jesus gives us a clear view. #mytruereflection
WHICH WAY SHOULD I GO?
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 I have zero sense of direction. If I’m in a new town and enter
compass. Meandering aimlessly through a cute town is one
a coffee shop, when I come out sipping my robust dark
thing, but walking through real life without purpose,
roast laced with a couple of pumps of sweet, chocolate
without being connected to Christ in our lives, taking wrong
syrup, I need to look both directions, assess landmarks,
turns, and heading down dead ends is a whole different
then take a wild guess as to which way I came from. When I
story. Why put our life in potential danger or chaos, when
recognize a sign or window display I know I’m on the right
there is a best way? A beautiful pathway designed
track. When nothing looks familiar, it’s usually time to do an
specifically by God for us?
about face. I can’t help it. I don’t try to not know where I’m going. Directions simply do not stick in my head. And so I
Jesus is the ultimate GPS, the most superior Map App. He
wander. And get lost.
has a perfect plan designed uniquely for you that utilizes your personality, skillsets and station in life. He will guide
Sometimes this wandering is wonderful—I discover a
you there, if only you ask. It’s filled with excitement, joy,
boutique or bookstore, pop into a funky art gallery. But
sometimes this wandering is less than great. I end up being late due to my detour, or I interrupt a suspicious-looking
When we don’t know which way to turn, we simply need to
exchange as I walk straight into the dodgy end of town.
turn to Him. Since Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, He is definitely the map I want to follow. The Way. That’s
Wandering through life is like this, too. You might luck out
the road I want to travel. How about you?
and land someplace fascinating or fun. But going the wrong way may end you up somewhere disappointing or dangerous—pursuing something or someone God never intended for you to chase. Ending up exhausted or disappointed. Or both. The thing with wandering is you’re putting it all to chance. It’s risky to move about without a
what road do
you want to travel?
reflect Where in your life are you wandering or wondering today? What questions do you have about turns or transitions you should make? Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s talk to Jesus about it: Dear Jesus, there are so many choices in life. Right now, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m specifically trying to discern what I should do about ______________. Thank you for being The Way. Please help me be open to Your directions. Please help me clearly understand Your path for me. Please help me understand how to live my life to please You in this circumstance. Amen.
the truth is:
God is the map we should follow. #mytruereflection
THROW IT AWAY
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 My oldest daughter has an entire crate of yellow and black
“No. Not really.”
warm ups and uniforms for her club soccer team, the Tigers. Well, it was her club soccer team. Now she plays college
The same should be true for us. When we join Christ’s
soccer and interestingly, her college mascot is also the
team we get to live life more intensely, at a more
Tigers, and their colors are, you guessed it, yellow and
prestigious level of play, as one who has been chosen by
black. But even though the colors and mascots match, even
the King, and our new coach is the guy who knows all the
though her old uniforms are still her size, all of those Dri-fit
best plays, Jesus. Realizing our new elevated status, it
shirts, Puma shorts, hoodies, and sweats are now useless.
should be easy to give away some of our previous choices and habits to Goodwill or the garbage can. We don’t need
These clothes no longer fit who Maddie has become, who
it any more. It no longer “fits” who we have become:
she has evolved into. It’s time to get rid of the old gear. It no
Children of God. Players for His team.
longer serves a purpose.
The same holds true for us once we become followers of Jesus Christ. We’re still us, but we need to shed some habits, relationships, or ideas that no longer fit who we’ve evolved into. Maddie is still Maddie. She still loves country music, mochas, and going for morning runs. But she’s no longer a Cincinnati United Tiger. She’s a DePauw Tiger. And in her new role, she has a more intense training schedule, a higher level of play, an elevated status, and a different coach. Because she embraces her new role, when I showed her the crate full of old clothes and asked if she wanted to keep any of it, it was easy for her to shake her head and say,
what do you need
to throw away?
reflect Are there any lifestyle choices you made before you gave your life to Jesus that don’t make sense anymore? List some here: What do you need to give away? If so, what? Why? Take a minute to ask Jesus to take this thing from you. Say out loud, “I don’t need it anymore!” And thank Him for recruiting you to a richer, more fulfilling life.
the truth is:
you can always trust Jesus. #mytruereflection
PAID IN FULL
Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we’re in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God’s plan is that we all experience that rescue. – Galatians 1:4 MSG In line at the farmer’s market my arms were wrapped
didn’t want to take this stranger’s money.
around a round, black cannonball watermelon. One of my sons held a bag of plump tomatoes. My daughter held up a
“Nope. I’ve got it. This is something I feel God wants me to
sack of caramel corn, eyebrows raised, asking without
do. What you do next is up to you.”
words if we could add this sweet treat to our loot. There
He wasn’t taking, ‘no’ for an answer, and wrestling him was
was a large man, who looked like he could be a member of
out of the question. There was no one behind me to ‘pay it
the 80’s band, ZZ Top, fully tattooed arms, waist length
backward.’ I felt guilty for the produce in my hands. Like I
beard and all, in front of me.
should put something back. Maybe the caramel corn? Oh dang, this man’s heart was so simply beautiful. I thanked
He seemed friendly as he chatted with the farmer’s son who
him again, and that was that. He took his food. I took mine.
ran the register about rain and blackberry crops. The man
I’ve never seen him again. He didn’t expect anything. He
turned, motioned our way with his head, and said in a deep,
didn’t ask for anything. He just gave me a freebie out of the
baritone, “I’m paying for theirs, too.” He grinned and turned
kindness of his heart.
back to the register. It all happened so unexpectedly I wasn’t quite sure what he’d said, or how to respond.
That’s how Jesus’ love works. He gives us grace. He forgives
There was silence for a beat, then the worker said, “Ma’am?
our sins. He pays our debt. Not because we babysat his kids
Can I weigh your tomatoes, so I know how much to charge
or mowed his lawn, not because we selected the best
ingredients or our children were perfectly behaved. Jesus just loves us, and showers us with grace and forgiveness,
So, it was true. This man I didn’t know. At all. Wanted to pay
because He wants to. No strings attached. What we do next
for my produce. What?
…is up to us.
Ohmygoodness. "That is so incredibly kind of you, but so not necessary. I appreciate it, but we’ve got it.” I tried to sound grateful, but
what you do next is
up to you... #mytruereflection
reflect Can you fully accept that Jesus’ love for you is free? No strings attached? If not, what’s holding you back? Close your eyes and thank God for the free gift of His love and salvation.
the truth is:
Jesus’ love for you is free. #mytruereflection
the Sabbath was made to
meet the needs of the people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.
PHOTO BY ROLANDS VARSBERGS ON UNSPLASH
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.” — Mark 2:27 Sabbath isn’t a rule to follow, it’s a gift from God to His people—a time to inhale and exhale, to calm our minds, hearts, bodies, and souls. What can you do today to find calm in the midst of your otherwise busy routine?
the Sabbath is
a gift from God.
HOLD UP YOUR HEAD
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. —Jeremiah 17:7 My husband is teaching me how to lift weights. It’s not
all our shame and nailed it to the cross. Why? Because He
something I want to do, but I know it’s good for me. I have
loves us! And not only does Jesus clean up our messes, but
approximately zero upper body strength, yet apparently it
then He hands us a crown, and says, “You are mine. You
comes in handy. The first time I entered the weight room at
belong with me.” He chose us and delights in us (Matthew
the University’s rec center, I noticed something. It seemed
12:18). No matter how many reps we can do, or how much
everyone there stood tall—heads held high—not in
we can carry. We simply earn the status of royalty, because
arrogance, but in confidence.
we’re with Him.
There were fraternity boys, senior citizens, middle-aged
If you don’t know Jesus yet, all you have to do is hang out
moms (*raises hand), and personal trainers. Some were
with Him, talk to Him. If you ask Him to be your Savior, then
using free weights, others machines. Some looked like they
He’ll hand you your own V.I.P. card on the spot. You’ll be
were lifting Legos, and others looked like they could lift a
able to stand taller, because you will be confident in whose
house. But all of them had an air of poise, as if this thing,
you are, in your true reflection.
the act of lifting weight gave them clout. Just being in the presence of all this self-assurance honestly made me stand a little straighter. It wasn’t about how much you could lift or how many times; it was the fact you were doing this thing to take care of your body. It made me want to bottle up this confidence and take it with me everywhere I go.
But I don’t need to. I already have access to the best credentials around. And, if you love Jesus, so do you. He died to erase our muddy mistakes; the ones that make us hang our heads low, slouch, feel unworthy or weak. He took
what do you need
to do to stand a little taller?
reflect Where do you feel confident? It could be the ease you exhibit running a board meeting or the look on people’s faces when they taste how delicious your blueberry pie is. Describe the place and feeling you have when you’re there. Consider where you’ll be this week that you don’t feel confident. Imagine the feeling of confidence you described above in your mind. Tell yourself out loud you can be confident in __________ (that awkward or tricky situation), because your confidence doesn’t come from your abilities but from God. Now repeat it three times.
the truth is:
you’re already royalty status. #mytruereflection
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. —Hebrews 12:2 MSG My mother in law suffers from Alzheimer’s. We had a
beautiful thing in the world. And isn’t that what we should
family gathering at Christmas, family members shuffling
be focused on?
back and forth, filling plates, grabbing napkins. The Grinch flickered green on the television in the family room.
What if we set our eyes on Jesus like that? What if we
Multiple conversations flitted over and around this sweet
went through life so utterly dumbfounded by the fact
woman who was mesmerized by a snow globe on the
Jesus, the King of Kings loved us enough to suffer
dining room table. Someone told her, “You look so pretty
unimaginable pain on the cross for us. He, the Ruler of
tonight!” Someone else asked about her breakfast, “What
Heaven, wants to talk to us, longs for us to bring our
did you order this morning?”
worries to Him, is there for us? All. Of. The. Time. Because these truths are gorgeous. If we keep our eyes on Jesus,
But Alzheimer’s is a tricky thing. The brain focuses on
we’ll be less worried about our insurance plans, if we
some things so intensely and seems to skip right past
should email that person or not, who’s starting in the
others with no rhyme or reason. She responded to the
game, and where our name falls on a certain list.
questions without taking her eyes off the globe, “Thanks,” and “Pancakes. They were really yummy.” And as if it were
Although it might seem a bit odd to those around us, if we
part of the same idea she added, “The blue snow is my
keep our attention on our Lord, all of the other things in
favorite. Isn’t it beautiful?”
our lives, the good and the bad, can be seen through a better perspective. Today, let the glorious fact that we are
She was present in the frenzied family celebration around
redeemed and loved by Jesus mesmerize our thoughts.
her, but her eyes remained fixed on the swirling flakes in the colorful globe. From a bystander’s view she seemed not attentive enough to the world, and too focused on the snow globe. But to her, in that moment, it was the most
what are you
reflect List some distractions, which take you away from God’s promises: Write down at least one thing you’ll do today to keep redirecting your attention to Him. This could be making “Jesus” or the verse above your screen saver, committing to a short prayer every hour on the hour, taking a moment to thank God for His love before answering every text, etc. Be creative, and then stick to it.
the truth is:
Jesus is mesmerizing. #mytruereflection
All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ. —Colossians 2:17 My daughter and I stirred up a box of Funfetti cake mix,
better. I think God does this for us all the time—gives us a
spooned blobs of batter into our cake pop cooker, and
split second reminder of something grander—of heaven. It
closed the lid like a waffle iron. After a couple of minutes we
lasts only a moment, and it’s hard to place why that thing
had golden brown balls of cake. Once cooled, we dipped
resonates so deeply, but God hands us a glimpse, a little
them in white chocolate, drew faces with a black frosting
preview, a taste of eternity.
pen, and added mini marshmallows for ears. Voila! Adorable polar bear cake pops! They were delicious, which surprised
We might smell Queen Anne’s lace in a summer field. The
me, because although I have a crazy sweet tooth, I’m not a
aroma is so sweet and thick, it seems our noses can’t even
fan of white cake or white chocolate (did you know white
handle the fragrance. Or maybe we’ll spot a bluebird
chocolate doesn’t even contain cacao? Please!).
spreading its wings and revealing a jewel tone almost too rich for our eyes to gaze upon. The most mesmerizing
I’m a real chocolate girl—the darker and richer the better.
sunsets, the most robust pasta sauce, the loveliest of
But these? They tasted like something I knew, something
melodies—all just foreshadowing of the glory we’ll
almost magical, but what? Then mid-bite of maybe my sixth
experience in heaven.
cake pop, I remembered. Our polar bears tasted like the fancy petite fours one of my dad’s clients gave us when I
If these are the things we experience on earth, can you
was a girl. I remember being amazed anyone could
imagine the magnitude of heaven? It makes me want to
construct such a tiny cake, layer it with raspberry filling,
keep all of my senses on high alert, to truly drink in the
cover it so evenly, and even put a flourish—a candy flower
beauty of this world, and ponder for a moment how
or swirl on top. Those petite fours seemed like magical food
glorious our futures will be. Our true reflection is one of
baked for royalty in a fairytale.
royalty, invited to a feast more delicious than frosted petite fours, gazing, and experiencing beauty with the true King
Our cake pops were far from the designer petite fours from
my youth, yet the power of taste took me back to them.
what is God trying to
Sure, the cake pops were yummy, but the fact that they
remind you of?
reminded me of something marvelous made them even
reflect List some of your favorite sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Can you imagine how much more incredible heaven will be if these are only previews? Take a moment to thank God for the free samples He gives you of what is to come.
the truth is:
glory is all around you.
TIME TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. —1 Peter 3:18 NLT I got a text from the dentist; it’s time to schedule a
But one day over 2000 years ago Jesus took nails in His
check-up for my youngest. My husband’s barber
hands and feet to remove the sins of all the believers then,
emailed—time to rebook. My roots were a wreck, so I visited
now, and even those who still haven’t been born. And it’s
my stylist. I need to call a chimney sweep, because after a
wild, He doesn’t just erase the mistakes we’ve committed to
freezing-cold winter the ashes are about to burst out of our
date—He uses His Jesus Super Powers to foresee all the
fireplace. And any day the exterminator is due for his spring
ways we’ll mess up in the future, and goes ahead and erases
spraying around our house.
Life is full of recurring tune-ups, oil changes, trims,
There’s no need for another check-up, tune-up, or cleanup.
cleanings, basically re-fixing what has already been fixed,
Sure, we will have times we’ll need to make a character
because nothing seems to stay fixed for longer than six
adjustment, say we’re sorry, or redirect. But those things
months. Except for our sins. True, in Old Testament days
will help us grow into the glorious living Christ has in store
you had to take another bird or goat to the Temple, or
for us. They’re not necessary to re-clear our slates. No
maybe go wash yourself in the fountain every single time
matter how dark we dive or how badly we foul things up, if
you messed up.
we truly believe Jesus is our Savior, we are one and done saved forever.
But then history changed. Jesus died once and took ALL our sins. Yup, every single one. We still mess up daily. At least I do. Yesterday, I got that gross jealous feeling when I saw a friend speaking at an event I’d love to speak at. I made the sassiest remark when a certain person’s name came up in conversation, and I snapped at my son. Ugh.
do you have any
sins you haven’t let go of?
reflect Have you ever asked Jesus to be your Savior? If not, what’s holding you back? Are there any sins you’re holding onto? Ones that still haunt or taunt you? Close your eyes. Picture yourself carrying that sin/sins in a sack to Jesus on His throne. Imagine yourself actually laying that sack down at His feet, and saying, “I don’t want these anymore. I believe You died to take this baggage from me.” Now inhale. And exhale. And thank Jesus for His gift with no expiration.
the truth is:
Jesus’ forgiveness never expires. #mytruereflection
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. —Romans 13:14 I usually lay out my clothes for the next day the night before. Because mornings around here are cray-cray. And
But what we wear spiritually is way more important than our
because if I rise before my husband I don’t want to disturb
physical clothing (don’t get me wrong, I am all about a cute
him as I root through our closet. But mostly because it
outfit). As ridiculous as the examples from my boys seem,
helps me settle into sleep if I think through what I have
this is how we look spiritually when we put on the wrong
going on the next day, and prepare myself to accomplish it.
attitudes, pull on our egos, or slide on judgment instead of clothing ourselves in Christ. We’re out of place or unable to
On mornings I run I need running clothes, which are
function properly. Just like we’ve all probably worn a top
completely different than the cute outfits I like to wear to
with an unflattering cut, or something itchy or oddly baggy,
church. Soccer tournament weekends I need adaptable
we’ve also probably had moments where we’ve said the
layers to take me from chilly mornings to warm afternoons.
wrong thing, told a lie, hidden a mistake, and then felt
We need certain clothes for certain situations to best live
awkward, uncomfortable, and self-conscious as a result.
out our days. Every morning we make an intentional decision about what Most of us have unfortunately experienced the other
clothes we put on—even if the only time we’ll leave the
side—the “fashion don’t” moments. The times we over or
house is to walk the dog. There’s still that moment when we
underdressed for the occasion, wore an unflattering color,
say, “I’m going to be cozy and wear sweats and a hoodie.”
or felt like we couldn’t breathe all day, because those jeans were a little tight. My son, a bit over zealous, once put on
What if we also got out of bed and made a spiritual outfit
his full uniform instead of a t-shirt and shirt for his first
decision each day? Declaring, “Today I’m going to choose
basketball practice. My husband recently got stuck, arms
Christ, choose love, choose joy, choose to trust Him.”
flailing inside a black Under Armour because it was actually
Clothing ourselves with Jesus will never go out of style.
one of our kids’ black Under Armours, so many sizes too small. Notice how I shared their fashion don’ts, not mine?
what spiritual outfıt
will you put on today? #mytruereflection
reflect Is there a way you consistently connect with Jesus in the morning? Write, “Clothed in Christ” on a sticky note and put it on your mirror or closet door to remind yourself to wear Jesus as your spiritual outfit today.
the truth is:
Jesus is the very best outfıt. #mytruereflection
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. —Philippians 4:6 My daughter Facetimed me from Peru. It was awesome! She
moments when you’re both talking, and you’ll have to wait,
was on a study abroad program, and we’d been able to text
so you can hear what He was trying to tell you. It can be
back and forth to stay in touch, but actually talking to her
about big stuff—like if you should move and if so, where? Or
live was a million times better. I got to see my girl’s smile
about small stuff—like why it seems no one else notices the
and hear her voice. We exchanged infinite more information
garbage is full, and how you wish this fact didn’t annoy you
and sentiments in our fifteen-minute Facetime then we
so much. Just talk to Him.
could ever communicate via text. God is there. Waiting for us to “call.” We’ll never get His The same is true with “Facetiming” God. You don’t need
voicemail, and He’ll never be too busy to pick up. There are
your phone or a special App. You just have to open your
so many ways to get in touch with Him, but it’s hard to beat
mouth and pray. A lot of us are great at closing our eyes
actually talking one-on-one with Jesus.
when our pastor prays, or saying a blessing over dinner, or maybe even reading a prayer at the bottom of a daily devotion (wink wink). We’ll often tell someone, “I’ll be praying for you.” Or even ask someone else to pray for us. But how often do we actually open our mouths and start talking to God?
Reading a Christian book, listening to Christian music, these are all great things, but they’re like texting, when you could be Facetiming. It doesn’t have to be elegant or well thought out. Much like Facetime, you might have pauses when you’re waiting to hear how God will respond, or crazy
do you need to
get in touch with God?
reflect Take ten full minutes to talk to Jesus. If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have time right now, set aside some point in your day (I know you have ten minutes) where you two can talk. Commit to it.
the truth is:
Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s never too busy to pick up. #mytruereflection
all night he continued in
prayer to God.
PHOTO BY CAROLINIE CAVALLI ON UNSPLASH
take a break
In these days he (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Luke 6:12 Even Jesus took a break from His work. He literally got away from everyone to talk to God. Find a place to get away todayâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a walk by a stream, a park bench, a coffee shop where no one knows you. Talk to God. Listen to Him. Refuel.
talk to God.
listen to him. refuel.
And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Ephesians 5:18 NLT One of my kids requested a certain meal. I made it for
tender, from grimacing to grateful. God’s gift to me of my
dinner last night, but they didn’t eat a single bite. This
children is so enormous. Framing this reality made a groggy
morning the same child was in a mood. They growled when
teen who wasn’t chatty menial.
I told them, “Good morning.” When I went in for a hug as they headed out the door, I got the cold shoulder.
We have so much to be thankful for! Roofs over our heads, air in our lungs, spring rain watering the earth, the saltiness
My entire insides felt like a ball of knotted yarn—all tangled
of a tortilla chip, an open parking spot, a country where we
and fraying and tight. I tried to just keep moving—fold some
have freedom of religion, the soft, rumbling purr of a kitty.
clothes, put away dishes, but the distractions didn’t help me
And when we start listing all the things we can be grateful
unwind. I half-asked God for peace, but kept moving, and
for, our woes shrink and our troubles fade. Because God is
even I could tell my prayer sounded insincere. Because I
good, and gives us so much. When we pay attention to
was mad. And sad. My feelings were hurt. I wanted this
what we have, we are reminded God loves us and gifts us in
child of mine to gush love for me as I oozed love for them.
countless, beautiful ways.
Which is unfair. Because they’re not me. And they have stuff—tests, friends, etc. they’re dealing with.
So, I got on my knees, and started praying—that my kids would get safely to school, and they would know how loved they were by God as they interacted with teachers and peers. My requests for protection segued into gratitude. I thanked God for each of my children, that I get to be their mom, for their individual spunk and spirits, specifically for the sweet, Jesus-loving heart of the one I struggled with this morning. And everything changed. I went from tense to
what are you
reflect List ten things youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re thankful for. Did making this list change your mood or outlook in any way?
the truth is:
we have countless blessings. #mytruereflection
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. —Matthew 6:33 NIV One of my teenagers mentioned their new face wash was
loves us, and when we talk to God to hear what He has in
really working, keeping their skin clear. My desire to impart
store for us, how He understands us, how He will not leave
mom-wisdom kicked in, and I made a comment like, “Yeah,
us—then our hearts are healthier. All of a sudden we feel
just a little bit of intentional care of our bodies can make a
less overwhelmed and bitter, more joyful and at peace. We
difference.” I’m surprised I wasn’t completely tuned out
feel more grounded and supported instead of indecisive
after my comment. Instead their response was a short
and confused. When we intentionally seek God, we hear
laugh and, “Yeah, but you don’t have to do anything for
Him say over and over, “I love you. I have plans for you. I
your skin.” Ha!
made you on purpose.” And we can see our true reflections more clearly.
I still get zits and have wrinkles. It’s a lovely combination. But overall my skin is fairly healthy. Not because of magic. Every morning and night I wash my face with my Clarisonic. And, in the mornings I slather on eye cream and face lotion. Plus, in the evenings, I smooth on overnight cream. I also drink approximately four gallons of water a day. No one tells me I have to do these things. There aren’t any rules on how to care for my skin. But when I tend to my face; it’s healthier. It’s not hard, but it takes intentionality.
It’s like this with our faith. Being intentional is not mandatory. There aren’t rules on how much quality time we spend with God. But when we read the Bible to see what God has to say, what He’s promised, how much He
are you intentionally
reflect What does your skincare routine look like? Do you spend more time on your skin or on seeking God each day? Name one thing you could do to make connecting with God part of your morning and/or evening routine.
the truth is:
spending time with God makes us better. #mytruereflection
HICCUPS & EAR POPS
When the time came, he (Jesus) set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. —Philippians 2:7-8 MSG I feel it on most flights, but this was a doozy. I told my
He didn’t have to. He could have stayed up on His royal
husband if I was a baby I would have been screaming. I
throne. But Jesus chose this humbling condition—hiccups
turned to all the tricks—chewing gum, drinking water, fake
and all—out of love for us.
yawning. And I was doing them all a bit too fervently, hoping for even the slightest relief in my ears. Then,
Jesus probably got splinters, experienced headaches. He
probably, because of all the bizarre antics of chomping and
sweat, got chilly, had to blow his nose. And maybe broke His
swallowing, I got the hiccups. I attempted to contain them,
ankle playing in the hills with His brother, James. Jesus most
because although my husband sat on my right, a stranger
likely had nosebleeds, and definitely had his share of bad
sat on my left, and I didn’t want to weird him out too much.
nights of sleep.
So my body twitched every four seconds and my ears felt like they were going to explode, and I was trying to breathe
Whatever your body is experiencing today—migraine,
deeply, in and out, but I felt like a cartoon. The plane could
fatigue, sore muscles—Jesus knows what you’re up against.
not land quickly enough.
He doesn’t just sympathize, but empathizes. So talk to Him about it. And take comfort knowing the King of the universe
Somewhere in the midst of all the ridiculousness, I realized
loves you so much, that He experienced all kinds of peculiar
Jesus also got the hiccups. Jesus’s ears popped. I giggled in
bodily pain so He could relate to you.
my seat—more antics. There was relief in this fact. It’s silly. And trivial. But also pretty cool. God, who designed oak trees to grow 80 feet tall and produce tiny acorns, less than an inch tall, with a point on the end so they could plant themselves ensuring oaks won’t become extinct. That same God came down to earth to experience everything about being human. Everything. So Jesus could understand us better.
what ache or pain
reflect Take inventory of your body. What’s working well—a healed cut? Cleared sinuses? Praise Jesus for it. What’s not—cramps? Allergies? Ask Jesus for relief. Thank Him for taking on a human body, so He could truly understand.
the truth is:
Jesus has walked in our shoes already. #mytruereflection
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” —Matthew 6:25-26 NIV I heard their shrill barks and smelled their fishy odor before
No, they showed up after an earthquake struck coastal
I saw them.
California in 1989. One day they weren’t there, and then they were—all sunning and flopping on a floating dock,
On a recent trip to San Francisco I strolled along the
splashing each other, and swimming about.
Embarcadero, the street that flanks the city’s eastern shoreline. A large crowd gathered around Pier 39
The little cove was protected from weather and predators
interrupted my sightseeing of the gorgeous bay. What was
and had a large herring population, which for sea lions
everyone looking at? I walked toward the crowd and heard
equals free lunch. It’s as if God guided these curious
those barks and smelled that stench.
creatures to a safe haven—to the exact place that could supply everything they needed. That first little gathering of
Piles of sea lions waddled on the wooden docks, dove into
sea lions has become quite the place to be. Typically 300
the cold water, and darted back out again, nudging other
gather on Pier 39, but the number peeked at 1700.
sea lions with their necks as they angled for prime positions in the sun.
God created sea lions, all of their wacky, stinky, silly ways. He also guided them to safety in the middle of a storm,
These crazy creatures are bigger than Great Danes, slippery
and provided food for them when they’d been dislodged
like eels, have flippers similar to dolphins, and resemble
from their homes. If He did this for sea lions, don’t you
giant weasels. Sea lions are such unique-one-of-a-kind
think He’ll do this for you—no matter how quirky you are?
creatures (just like us). Why is this large colony all huddled
Guide you somewhere safe? Provide exactly what you
together on this particular pier? They weren’t put here on
display by the city of San Francisco like a zoo attraction.
what are you
reflect What are you worried about today? Write it down. Find peace in the fact God knows exactly what you need, and He longs to take care of you. Turn over your worry to Him. He’s looking after sparrows and sea lions. He’s certainly looking after you.
the truth is:
He’s looking after you. #mytruereflection
No weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord. —Isaiah 54:17 NLT We should have known as soon as we walked into the gym and saw the plethora of banners hanging from the ceiling
So even if we’re way down at halftime, let’s wipe the sweat
touting the past several years’ basketball seasons; League
off our brows, take a drink of water, and ask God to come in
Champs, City Champs, Undefeated. If that didn’t do it, it
and play for us. He’s an All-Star, and has never been and
was apparent just a couple of minutes into the game. The
never will be outmatched. With God as the captain of our
other team was taller, faster, and better at shooting. The
team, how could we lose?
halftime score was 0-26. Ouch. It wasn’t that our guys weren’t trying. They were working so hard. They were simply outmatched.
Sometimes life feels this way. Like we’re not tall enough, fast enough, or good enough to succeed. When we’re exhausted from giving it our all, God is there. He sees us. He’s on our side. And God is the strongest, fastest, best shooter around. With Him on our team, it’s our enemies—the spiteful remarks toward us, the demeaning comments we’ve internalized, anxiety, chronic pain, depression, debt, stress, etc. that are outmatched. God tells us no weapon being used against us will succeed!
do you feel
reflect Is there any area in your life where you recently felt attacked? Imagine the thing assaulting you (the slanderous words, the unpaid bills, the migraine, etc.) as a sword. Then picture God, stepping on, crushing, and breaking the sword in two. Write out: When I turn it over to God, no weapon turned against me will succeed.
the truth is:
youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re on a winning team. #mytruereflection
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another. —Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let’s grab coffee soon!” Final last well-intentioned words. If
God has called us to, plus a giant dose of encouragement to
you’re anything like me you have a dozen friends you’d love
fuel us through the rough patches.
to spend an hour with over lattes gabbing about all the things. But life is busy and the people you’ll probably end
It cost us both over an hour on a busy morning where we
up having time to talk to in the next few days are those
had long to-do lists awaiting. But the investment of time
already in your built-in schedule—the folks you work with,
reaped immeasurable value. We motivated, inspired, and
the other parents on the sidelines of your kids’ games, the
fortified each other, pointed each other back to Jesus. We
people you got scheduled to work with at the concession
left knowing we’d not only been heard, but also understood.
stand or nursery. And that’s great. Those are opportunities to visit with (most likely) some wonderful folks. But it’s also
We both parted with a broader perspective of how God is
important we invest in relationships with key people who
on the move—because I saw how faithful He’s been to my
God has put on our path to aid our spiritual journeys.
friend, and I could share with her the ways He’s been guiding me. I saw bigger than my personal narrative, and it
I connected with one of these special friends the other day.
was exciting. This is how our faith and God’s kingdom
We walked and discussed everything from kids, writing,
multiplies, by sharing with each other how God has been
exercise, rest, what God had done for us in the past year,
there for us, how we need Him, and what He’s taught us. It
the Bible, and how we were desperately trying to juggle all
doesn’t have to be a formal or regular setting, but it could
of it. We walked for over an hour (and would have
be. No matter what this looks like, we need to seek out
continued if it weren’t for other commitments), because in
Christian friends who can remind us of our true reflections.
those laps around the track we shared hopes, excitement,
Because, we were never meant to live this life alone.
fears, things in our way, doors that had been opened, prayer requests, and resources. We both came away with heads full of ideas, newfound energy, and excitement for the work
do you need to invest in today?
reflect Do you have any Christian friends you regularly connect with? If so describe those connections, and what you get out of your shared time. If not, write down the names of three Christian people youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to connect with on a deeper level. Commit to shooting at least one of them a message today asking if they can meet for a cup of coffee. Give some specific dates and times so youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll make it happen.
the truth is:
friends hold us accountable. #mytruereflection
learn the unforced
rhythms of grace.
PHOTO BY MANDY LEHMAN, @THEMANMANS
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” —Matthew 11:28-30 MSG Jesus offers us rest, real rest. Doesn’t that sound lovely about now? Are you accepting the free and light life Jesus offers? Or are you resisting? Ask Jesus to help you accept His unforced rhythms of grace today with open arms.
accept living life
freely and lightly.
And don’t for a minute let this Book of the Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and mediate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. —Joshua 1:8 MSG Each morning I pull out a variety of vitamins and dole one
For clarity, reading the Bible is not a requirement. If you’re a
of these and one of those into little piles for everyone in our
follower of Jesus, you already have a free VIP pass into
family. The girls get extra iron. The younger kids get
heaven’s gates. But if you truly believe Jesus loves you,
chewables. In flu season everyone gets one orange-flavored
don’t you want to learn more about Him? About His
Vitamin C gummy to fend off germs. During the cold, gray
character? About who He says you are? About your true
days of Ohio winter, I add a Vitamin D, liquid sunshine, to
reflection in Him? This is where the Bible comes in. It tells
everyone’s pile. Every day it’s important to fuel our bodies,
the story of God’s great love for His people. How we mess
and as the mom I feel responsible for making sure my
up, time and time again, and how over and over our Sweet
family gets what they need.
Savior, picks us up, cleans us up, loves on us, and helps us get back on track.
But our souls also crave “spiritual vitamins” to help them run well. The Bible, the Living Word of God, is like a mega
You don’t die if you don’t take vitamins, and you won’t go
multivitamin. It provides stimulation for our brains (like fish
to hell if you don’t read the Bible. But if you have this
oil), calms our anxieties (like magnesium) and strengthens
amazing resource at your fingertips pointing you to
our spiritual muscles (like protein.) We don’t have to figure
courage, hope, and love, why wouldn’t you open it up each
out our dosage—how much or which parts to read or when.
day, swallow a mouthful of truth, and let it fortify your heart
Reading the Bible in some fashion on a regular basis will
increase our spiritual health.
what is your
soul craving? #mytruereflection
reflect How often do you read the Bible? Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Tomorrow is the final day of our 30-day study. When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re finished, why not pick a book of the Bible (John is a great place to start. So are the Psalms.) and start reading? Heck, why wait? You could start right now!
the truth is:
the Bible nourishes our souls. #mytruereflection
WORK OF ART
For 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 My favorite museum in the world is in Paris. L’Orangerie
les Nymphéas (French for water lilies) is a masterpiece.
sits in the corner of Tuileries, a giant park that used to be the backyard for the King’s palace. The museum houses
Similarly, God is the Master Artist. He painted each and
eight of Claude Monet’s famous water lily paintings (he
every one of us. We are all masterpieces specifically and
painted over 250 in all) which fill two entire rooms
intentionally designed by our Creator. Some of us are
covering almost three hundred feet of width with their
larger, smaller, brighter, paler, darker, more tranquil, bolder,
beautiful, ethereal colors. Each painting is six and a half
morning people, night owls, neat freaks, carefree, or
feet tall, and although each one is painted by Monet of the
focused. We prefer sweet, salty, spicy, rap, classical,
same scene at his pond in his yard in Giverny, each one is
country, romance, adventure, poetry, hot, cold, beach, or
mountains. We excel at numbers, words, theories, concepts, details, the way things work, or the ways people
The paintings are different lengths so they can hang along
think. And yet, despite all of these differences, we are all
the curved oval walls and feel like one continuous canvas. I
dazzling in God’s eyes. He looks at us, and says, Wow! She
cannot get enough of them, can’t drink them in fully. I walk
is a masterpiece! I want the world to see her, to see how
from panel to panel. Four depict sunrise. Four depict
exquisite she is in all of her unique and original ways.
sunset. Some are predominately the sleepy mossy greens of leaves. Others are washed in the peaceful blues of the
This is who you truly are. This is your true reflection. Not a
pond ranging from pale to jewel tones. Still others are
blurry image in a pond of who you wish you were or how
shocking contrasts of violet and gold. Monet is famous for
you wish you were more like someone else. No. You were
his Impressionistic style, yet some of the canvases look like
planned brushstroke by brushstroke by the same One who
they were painted by someone else all together—an
created Saturn’s rings, the arc of a rainbow, the
abstract painter perhaps? As the years went by, Monet’s
iridescence of pearls, and the colorful prisms of light
eyesight diminished. As a result his brush strokes got
reflected by diamonds. You, my friend, are a masterpiece.
larger and sloppier compared to the precise strokes of the
Step into that reality.
earlier panels. Try as I may, I cannot pick a favorite, because they are all so exquisite. Each painting depicting
reflect Name two of your favorite pieces of art. If you’re not into art two of your favorite songs or two of your favorite foods. How are these things the same? Different? List some qualities about you: Thank God for making you distinct—for putting together all of the shades of you to create one beautiful masterpiece. I pray that throughout this study you’ve come to appreciate who God made you to be and how much He loves you. Write below in big, bold letters: I AM A MASTERPIECE!
the truth is:
you are God’s masterpiece. #mytruereflection
for more information from Laura L. Smith subscribe: www.laurasmithauthor.com/blogs Instagram: @laurasmithauthor Facebook: LauraLSmithAuthor
True Reflections Copyright ÂŠ 2019 by Laura L. Smith All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For information, contact Laura L. Smith at www.laurasmithauthor.com. Printed in the United States of America Cover photography: Cristina Gottardi Interior photography: Mandy Lehman