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MOST RECENT

This post is in two parts. Part two will be up tomorrow.
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When I was 22, I was in my fifth & final year working at my first job I had gotten at 17. I have many fond memories working at Schlotzsky's: talking with co-workers over the headsets, playing harmless pranks on one another, laughing until my stomach hurt, being "in love" with my manager, &, of course, working. I loved cleaning & organizing. I would assign myself time frames to complete needed tasks, & I prided myself on the technique.
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Sadly, I'm not fond of all my memories. At 21, the manager I was in love with had left for new opportunities (& gotten married), so a new boy I worked with caught my eye. (I wish I could go back & tell that girl that no boy will ever satisfy her heart the way God will.) The boy was cute, sweet, knew how to make me laugh, & we were constantly talking. I told a couple girlfriends who worked with us that I liked him, & they gave me tips on how to flirt & land him as my boyfriend.
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Flirting isn't something that's ever come natural to me, & I must've been better at it than I thought because that week we made plans to go see a movie. It would be our first date, & I couldn't have been happier. My happiness would be short-lived though, & I'd soon discover its abrubt & harsh end.

Full surrender. Separately, those words are just that: words. But together, they can cause unnecessary stress. Why is it so difficult to fully surrender oneself to God? I think the answer is fourfold: fear, vulnerability, guilt and unbelief.
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Fear: We fear full surrender because we know what it can unleash. We don't want to reach into the places of our souls where we're the most vulnerable, so we avoid doing so. We're afraid to feel broken, empty, out of control and scattered because feeling comfortable is easier. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." -2 Timothy 1:7
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Vulnerability: We know that once one vulnerability is exposed, others will want to follow. Suddenly, that one unveiling creates a domino effect, revealing things we've desperately tried not to face. "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." -2 Corinthians 12:9
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Guilt: We feel guilty about full surrender because we know our hearts aren't pure. We long to feel better, and that's why we turn to God. It has nothing to do with our love for Him. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." -John 3:17
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Unbelief: We don't fully believe God's immense love for us. He can't be touched, held or kissed: actions this world equates love with. We can't feel His breath on our skin or cry on His shoulder. Talking to Him when we feel it's a one-way conversation makes it difficult to grasp the gravity of how intensely He loves us. "Can a woman forget her nursing child and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me." -Isaiah 49:15-16
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(I didn't realize this post would be too long for @instagram, so the rest is in the comments.)

Has anyone told you you're gorgeous today? Because you are!
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"For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." -Psalm 139:13-16
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You. Are. GORGEOUS!

The top picture shows my face in November. The bottom shows it this past Sunday, the last day of week six in @kayla_itsines #BBG program. I've lost 16 pounds!
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These five tips rooted in scripture have helped me in my progress!
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1. Stay the course (Proverbs 13:4).
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2. End the lies that say you'll never get healthy (2 Corinthians 10:5).
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3. Live by truth, not by feelings/circumstances (Galatians 5:16).
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4. Cheating once a week is fine but indulging isn't (Proverbs 25:16).
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5. Allow God's grace to cover you if you mess up (Hebrews 4:16).

Happy Easter! HE IS RISEN!!!!
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Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born of a virgin, humbly walked the earth as human, was mocked, suffered a horrendous death on the cross for our sins and rose three days later.
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Can we just go back to that fourth part a minute? Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Yours and mine. Sometimes, I can't even fathom the unconditional love He has for me. I'm so undeserving. Yet, He chose me. And He chose you, too.
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Choosing to believe Jesus died so I could live and accepting Him as my Lord and Savior is the most important decision I've ever made. Although I chose to believe and accept Him at an early age, it wasn't until July 2015 when a dear friend encouraged me to fall intimately in love with Him that I began chasing Him with everything I have. Since then, I've lived more joyfully, more abundantly, more confidently and more meaningfully.
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On this Easter Sunday, let's remember what this day is truly about. It's not about a bunny, eggs, candy, baskets, dresses and suits; it's about Jesus' beautiful sacrifice for us. He died, so we could live. So let's live. And let's do it with intention.

Why should we feel...
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-Alone? God is always with us (Matthew 28:20).
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-Defeated? God always leads us in triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14).
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-Inadequate? We can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).
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-Inferior? We are children of God through faith in His Son (Galatians 3:26).
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-Insecure? God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
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-Like failures? We are conquerors in all things through Christ (Romans 8:37).
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-Weak? God is our strength (Psalm 27:1).
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-Worthless? Christ became sin for us so we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
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Take hold of these truths as you go into your Tuesday, & remember that you are amazing!

I wrote the poem, "Individuality" when I was a sophomore in high school, and I knew Instagram was the perfect place for it. A little background: I had gotten rejected by a boy I liked because I wasn't the type of girl he normally dated. I didn't look like her, and I didn't act like her. Crushed and needing to make sense of my feelings, this is what came.
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Katie never thought she would change for a boy
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And then she meets one whose name is Troy
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Troy is so gorgeous with his dreamy blue eyes and perfect smile
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Wondering how to win his heart is on Katie's mind for awhile
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Katie sighs, "He can have any girl he wants. Why would he ever want to date me?"
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After a lot of thought, she decides to change into who she thinks she needs to be
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Changing her looks and personality, Katie puts herself away
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Afterward she smiles, thinking about what Troy will say
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When Troy sees Katie, he stares at her completely floored
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Seeing his expression, Katie knows she will not be ignored
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Katie walks over to Troy who says, "Wow, look at you!"
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And then he smiles shyly, not knowing what else to do
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Sadly, nothing new happens between Troy and Katie that day
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But Katie keeps pretending and is determined not to stray
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A few more weeks pass, and Troy still does not seem to care
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He no longer talks to Katie and does not acknowledge she is there
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With tears in her eyes Katie asks, "What is wrong with me?"
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"Did I not change into the girl he wanted me to be?"
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As you probably know, the relationship between Troy and Katie never came
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Katie never did figure out that she was the one to blame
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Katie thought that when she changed herself she would start to matter
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But she only caused her hopes of being with Troy to shatter
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Have confidence and do not be afraid to let who you are shine through
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If you are afraid, be careful; instead of Katie, that girl could be you
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God calls us more precious than rubies (Proverbs 3:15) and adores us more than any boy ever will. Cling tightly to Him, trust His promises and know if a boy is part of His plan, God will reveal him in His time.

A couple weeks ago I woke up one morning, ready to start my day. I start every day with a quick scroll through Facebook & Instagram, then move on to what's been planned. This particular morning, however, I halted my plans after I saw a friend's disheartening Facebook post. I immediately prayed for her & texted, letting her know I was always there. She was thankful, & that was that.
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I could've kept scrolling. I could've thought about all the other times before when I reached out hoping for something to click, but nothing ever did. I could've missed an opportunity to plant another seed.
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God doesn't scroll past us. He doesn't think about all the times He does something in our lives, but it never clicks. He gives us daily opportunities to know Him better (John 17:3).
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I'm thankful I got out of the way & didn't miss the opportunity to love my friend the way God loves me. I don't know if it'll ever click for her, but He knows. That's not my worry. I just let Him use me & allow His light to shine bright.

I was looking back on a letter I wrote to myself last year, and I realized there was no focus. The letter started with one, but my overpowering thoughts of "what ifs" and "I'm not sures" wouldn't let it breathe.
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Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever lost your focus in something due to thinking too much? What if we turned our focus to God and gave Him our "somethings" instead of trying to handle them ourselves?
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Ephesians 6:10 says, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
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Today, I encourage you (and myself) to let God be your focus in all situations. Remain strong in Him, and whatever comes your way, pray for guidance and peace. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than you could ever imagine through His mighty power.

I try to always begin my bible study time with worship music. Singing to God before soaking up His Word turns my songs into prayers & softens my heart.
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The lyrics in @lauren_daigle's "Here's My Heart" are my ultimate prayer to God. I'm a work in progress until I meet Jesus, & I try to renew my mind with His Word daily.
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This world is so loud, & if I don't keep my eyes completely locked on God, it can be so easy for my flesh to scream, "You don't need a relationship with God. You've got a ticket to heaven." Oh, but I do if I want the more abundant life He promised (John 10:10). God always softens my heart back to Him through life's daily moments. I love the lyrics in @laurastorymusic's "I Can Just Be Me". It reminds me that God just wants me. Nothing more.
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A few of my other favorites are: @itsbrittnicole's "Hanging On", @ryansmusic's "Eye of the Storm" & @carrieunderwood's "How Great Thou Art". Download them & the ones above if you haven't!
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What are some of your favorite worship songs?

Rejection stings. It stirs up the negative self-talk inside our heads & welcomes it to play its symphony. Rejection cuts deep. It pierces straight to our core & nestles in tight. Rejection is misunderstood. We see it as a brutal attack when it really is just a choice.
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Personal or professional, it doesn't matter. Rejection tells us that we weren't good enough. But that's a lie. We need (I need) to stop looking at rejection as a personal attack on who we are, & we need to remember who God says we are. I want to get these truths embedded into the forefront of my mind, so they can be stated at a moment's notice.
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God always has a purpose for our pain, & it's to grow us in some area. He always works everything out for our good (Romans 8:28), & our rejection is His protection.

Looking back on God's amazing love for me (and you)!
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"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." -John 15:13
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"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." -1 John 3:16
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"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." -1 John 4:8
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"We love Him because He first loved us." -1 John 4:19
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"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." -John 3:16
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"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in my love." -John 15:9
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"I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." -John 17:23
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"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." -Galatians 2:20

Happy Valentine's Day! This post is for all the single girls & women out there.
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Valentine's Day can be tough if you're a single female. At 33, I've never had a boyfriend, I've only been on a handful of dates (probably less than 10) & I never expected my life to look like this.
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I expected to be married to a wonderful Godly man with two sweet girls & a precious boy. I expected that on this Valentine's night we'd be leaving the kids at Grandma's & enjoying a romantic night out (or in 😉). The older I get, the more I realize life rarely goes as expected.
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The world is so quick to tell us that a man will make us happy, save us & that without one, our lives are empty (talk about putting the pressure on men). It tells us that if we're not married by a certain age, there's something wrong with us. We hold strong to these notions that we allow ourselves to believe, & when Valentine's Day rolls around, they can be exemplified to the point of tears & feelings of inadequacy.
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Today doesn't have to be that. Instead of believing the lies of the world, we can embrace the truth of God's words. We are beautiful (Psalm 139:14). We are valuable (Luke 12:6-7). We are loved (Romans 5:8). God loves us more than any man ever will. Our identities & true happiness are found in Him, & only He can save us.
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I wish I were married. I want to be married. But I want God's best for my life more. So instead of pursuing a man, I'm waiting on God. He's either preparing me for my husband, or He has a better plan for my life that doesn't include marriage. The latter is incredibly tough to admit, & there are many days I refuse to believe it as possible.
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However, if I remain single the rest of my days, I'll hold strong to God & His truths above. I don't say them aloud nearly enough, but today, on Valentine's Day, I'm shouting them for the world to hear.

I didn't practice these things well this week. My mind was filled with silly worries that became over-dramatized. Instead of fixing my eyes on God & giving Him my worries, I controlled them, & they were my fixation.
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Praise God that He never gives up on us or leaves us! Praise Him that His mercies are new every morning, & I have another chance to meditate on the things above!
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What are you praising God for today?

I don’t always stop to read in retail store props, but when I do, it’s because there’s a #book on life hacks.
📷: @krystalbearriere

Happy Wednesday! Let's head into today reveling in the truth of who God says we are.
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1. I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
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2. I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (John 15:16).
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3. I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him (Romans 8:17).
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4. I am God's workmanship, His handiwork, born anew in Christ to do His work (Ephesians 2:10).
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5. I am righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24).
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6. I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4).
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7. I am born of God, and the evil one -the devil- cannot touch me (1 John 5:18).

Patiently waiting for someone to use the "HIS" mug that sits alone in the cupboard.
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What are you waiting on God for? What if His answer isn't the one you want? Will you still trust Him? Or will you walk away?
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I've wanted to walk away before, but then I remember God's promises in Jeremiah 29:11-13.
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"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
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God's after the full surrender of our whole hearts. Many of us stop after verse 11 and don't continue. I used to. Then, it was explained to me in a bible study why reading forward is so important.
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God has good plans for our lives, and He wants to give them to us. All of them. This requires full surrender of our whole hearts. When we start picking and choosing what we want to happen instead of going to God and asking Him what He wants to happen, we miss His voice and best.
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God loves us unconditionally, and He sent His only Son to die in our place. He has the absolute best plans for our lives, and they're better than anything we could ever dream up. So, question: Are you willing to give Him the reins?

Theodore Roosevelt knew what he was talking about when he made this statement. Too often, we play a game with jealousy and that green-eyed monster always seems to win. Jealousy is where comparison flows from, & sometimes those raging waters can be mentally damaging.
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We see someone who is better-looking, skinnier, has a more successful career, is a "better" Christian, is further along in life, the list goes on & on. Suddenly, we see ourselves as less than who we were five seconds before.
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Our identity is found in God, not in material possessions, & we are the light of the world. We are all running our own life's race, & God never messes up. He never makes junk.
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So the next time you find yourself comparing, make sure it's to you. Strive to be better than you were the day before. Keep God first, & always remember to run your own race.

In December, I went to Discount Tire to purchase new tires. Arriving there before it opened, & first, to ensure speedy service, I was greatly dismayed when a man interrupted my conversation with a service technician. The man told the tech he arrived first & needed to be helped. I was bumped into second.
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After getting what he wanted, the man expressed his sorriness for what he had done in a very cavalier way, telling me he had to get to work. My response, "You didn't have to lie."
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God has a reason for everything that happens in our lives, even when we can't see, & He wants us to come to Him in all situations. I couldn't see this when my eyes were on myself & my problems, but when I put them on God, I saw my situation clearly & spent the next hour with Him in a quiet bible study on unfair treatment.
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In the end, I no longer saw the man as someone who wronged me, but as someone who made a way for my growth in faith, & for that, I'm thankful.
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In what ways has God grown you?

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