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February 19: Brighter Hills Ahead

Dark Seas across the view from Praiano to the Faraglioni and Isle of Capri, Italy

February 19

Brighter Hills Ahead

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

In 2005, I indulged my love of painting by taking lessons from a local artist, which taught me a lot in a very short time. The best lesson was watching the artist work on her own canvas. She skillfully used lights and darks to create highlights and shadows. The bright colors were important, but darker shades lightened the highlights and brought the painting to life.

We all have dark, gloomy valleys to walk through. Tragedy strikes us all, through broken relationships, lost jobs, rebellious children, loss of loved ones, and natural disasters. Through our shattered dreams and crushed loves, God holds us close. He is beside us through each long, dark valley.  

A life can’t shine as brightly without its contrasting shadows. The master Painter allows the dark places of life to give our colors their richness and depth. He has the answers to our many questions. For now, we can rest assured that his faithful presence and healing comfort are all that we need. There are brighter days ahead!God comforts and protects us

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 18: On the Right Track

Positano, Italy, from the Path of the Gods

February 18

On the Right Track

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. (Psalm 23:3)

I find that trusting God with my life is easy—for about two minutes. Then I get off course and forget the character of the God I trust. Fear sets in and logic doesn’t help. 

We can’t stay on the right path by ourselves. It sounds funny to say that we need to trust God in order to keep trusting him, but it is true. Only God can give us the faith we need when we ask him for it.

We know that we are on God’s path when we check the signposts marking our track. God’s Word is a great road map for daily life. It provides wisdom and knowledge about our Lord.

At times, we naturally become impatient with our progress. We think that we should move faster toward our desired destination. As we grow restless, we look for shortcuts that may speed things up. Unfortunately, shortcuts on God’s path usually slow us down.

Trust that God is leading you along the right path. He will give you the faith and patience you need. Follow him today—the best is yet to come!God leads us along his path.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 17: Lupine Meadow

Lupine field, Somes Sound, Maine

February 17

Lupine Meadow

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.(Psalm 23:2-3)

One summer, our family vacationed in central Maine’s Acadia National Park. On Mount Desert Island, mountains rise right out of the ocean. There are lush forests, quaint towns, and a scenic lighthouse. As we drove through one town, an eagle flew overhead. We stopped, and I grabbed my camera and set out after him. 

When the eagle disappeared over Somes Sound, something even more majestic captured my attention. At the edge of the sound was a breath-taking field of purple lupine. I stood surrounded by this beauty, enjoying the most peaceful and restful moments of my life. My soul was strengthened and my heart was bursting, as if God had made it just for me.

God knows how to touch our hearts. He gave me a purple lupine meadow. For you, the details will be different, but the feeling will probably be similar: restful, peaceful, enchanting, and laced with love. We don’t have to look for such serene moments; we just have to be open to them. God knows our hearts and will lead us to special places of rest. 

Open your heart to God’s restoration of your body, mind, and spirit.

God restores our strength. 

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 16: Good Fences

Jennifer Lyn painting

February 16

Good Fences

The Lordis my Shepherd; I have all that I need. (Psalm 23:1)

Where else but at a zoo can ordinary city-bound folks experience the near proximity of exotic wild animals? We can enjoy the close presence of magnificent animals such as lions because of a zoo’s good fences. The boundaries are essential for the safety of visitors, animals, and zookeepers. The fences keep large, wild, and potentially harmful animals in, and they keep the spectators from being hurt. Then everyone is free to enjoy their time there.  

In life, good fences also make for joyful adventures. Within the protection of a fence, we know our boundaries and are free to explore, learn, and live fully in safety.  

David, the writer of Psalm 23, says that God is our Shepherd. Like sheep, we need the guidance and protection of God’s boundaries. When we choose to stay with our Shepherd, we have everything that we need, because he knows our needs before we do and loves to provide for us. Just as good fences allow for enjoyable experiences, God’s guidelines and boundaries found in the Bible help us to live within his protection and care. 

Trust God’s care, respect his boundaries, and enjoy the adventure of life. 

God cares for our every need. 

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 15: Keeping Watch

Lake Como at Sunrise, Northern Italy

February 15

Keeping Watch

God will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. . . . The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. (Psalm 121:3, 5, 7)

Baby monitors are a huge blessing for new parents. The monitor relays sounds from the baby’s room to the parents’ receiver. Many television sitcoms joke about the overuse of the baby monitor, and such stories usually get a big laugh. A paranoid mom wants to hear her baby’s every heartbeat, so while she sleeps, she brings the receiver to her nightstand. She turns it to the highest volume and jumps out of her skin when baby makes the slightest sound. Yes, we tend to dote on our loved ones—for safety’s sake, of course.

God tells us that he never sleeps as he watches over our lives. There is hope and assurance in God’s protection, day and night. God is the Creator and Life-giver; we can rest easy in his care. He can move mountains and deter circumstances, and change hearts and minds according to his plan.  

We can trust our safety and well-being to our all-powerful Protector.

God watches over our lives

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February 14: Petal Trails

English Rose bouquet

February 14

Petal Trails

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is desirable in every way. Such . . . is my lover, my friend.(Song of Songs 5:16)

A close friend and mentor once told me with a twinkle in her eye of the plans her husband had made for their Valentine’s Day. Chocolates and a trail of rose petals through their house brought her to his invitation: a romantic evening of dinner and dancing. They had been through many hard times in their fifty-year marriage, but their love and romance had not faded. She said that their love had sustained them despite the stresses of life because they were mutually committed to expressing their love each day.  

On this day for remembering those we love deeply, give something beyond a card. Just as Solomon’s wife communicated her love to her spouse in the Song of Songs, we should give our loved ones our deep love and appreciation. Have you expressed how much you love them? Have you put words to the cute little pleasures of marriage—such as the way he smiles?  

Slow down and go out of your way to show all your loved ones how important they are to you. Keep saying “I love you.” Your relationships will be richer for it.

Express love and appreciation each day.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 13: Love Notes and Evening Strolls

daylily

February 13

Love Notes and Evening Strolls

Keep on loving each other. (Hebrews 13:1)

Romance enriches our lives in the simplest ways. The fog of warm breath on a chilly evening, the frost lining wintry windows, and the waning colors of the setting sun are treasures of living present to each moment.  

Instead of spending an evening on the internet, you could venture outdoors and soak up some God-given beauty. Add a little love to the peanut butter sandwich by sending a note in a child’s lunch box. Greet and leave your loved ones with a hug, a kiss, and an “I love you.” Go for an evening stroll, holding your sweetheart’s hand. Let your loved ones know how much you love them.  

Romance is alive when we live fully. It requires the creativity of a love-filled heart connected with an adventure-bound head. Life will not disappoint this type of outlook, and God provides endless experiences for you to enjoy. 

Let your romantic side express itself freely today. Make another great memory. Show your love and admiration for those you love. Do something you’ve always dreamed of doing. Pursue adventure and live fully. Today, slow down and soak up life’s loves and simple pleasures.

Be present to each moment.

Read more about EnJOY Today here.

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February 12: Beauty

beauty butterfly

February 12

Beauty

He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning. . . . Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor . . . and everlasting joy.(Isaiah 61:3, 7)

On summer days, I enjoy the colorful flower gardens, the lilting flight of the butterflies, the sweet song of the goldfinch, the gentle breeze, and the murmur of the fountain. Summer soon passes into the shorter days of fall and then into winter, leaving the gardens bare, brown, and abandoned. Except for birds foraging for seeds, there is little movement. The coneflowers still stand tall into winter, their seeds salvaged for the finches.  

One late winter morning, I discovered a crown of dazzling ice and snow on a brown coneflower head. Such incredible beauty brings joy in the dead of winter.

God brings beauty from our browned and broken souls. He takes our ashen struggles and exchanges them for a delicate crown of beauty. When we come in faith, God gives us his honor and his everlasting joy.  

Today, allow God to exchange your ashes for his beauty and joy.

God will free you to joy!

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February 11: All for You

Thankfulness, Flowers, and Grace

February 11

All for You

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring. (Hosea 6:3)

We go about our days to the low hum of man-made machines. As our technologies enable us to process things faster, we tend to forget the Creator of life and time. God’s plan for our lives is full and rich, even in our fast-paced world.  

Whatever the weather, take a walk outside today and observe the beauty of creation. If you were the only person in all of history, God would still have created this big and beautiful world—all for you. He loves each of us so much that he longs to reach out and touch us through creation.  

God created the sweet melody of the songbird to grace your ear, the gentle breeze that softly brushes your face, the sweetly-scented spring blossoms to perfume your walk, and the refreshing colors of flowers, grass, and sky to bless your vision. 

Awaken your senses and appreciate God’s great love. Enjoy a walk outdoors and listen to God’s love expressed in the voice of creation. 

He made it all for you!

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February 10: Outstretched

Maremma, Italy

February 10

Outstretched

For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:11-12)

“So-o-o-o much!” she said, stretching out her arms in response to “How much does daddy love you?” Children are cute as they learn to make sense of their world. My niece knows how much her daddy loves her, but as adults, we often forget how much our heavenly Father cares for us.  

The psalmist David’s response to “How much does your heavenly Daddy love you?” is “As far as the height of the heavens above the earth!” My small mind has trouble wrapping itself around the infinite distance from here to heaven, but David tells us that God’s love for each of us is unending.

God’s love for you and me is so great that he cancels all of our wrongs when we are sincerely sorry. God doesn’t sweep our sins under the rug for use on a later day. He outstretches his arms and reminds us that our wrongs are as far from us as the east is from the west, which will never meet.  

Train your mind to appreciate how much your God loves you.

God’s love for us is infinite. 

Read more about EnJOY Today here.