Friday, August 31, 2012

You're Invited to Join Tracie's Troop!

UPDATE: 9/4/12 - What an awesome response for participation in this special group!  Unfortunately all spots are filled now, but keep checking back for more opportunities to get involved! 

Hi friends - as I'm sure you've heard (because I talk about it all the time!), my new book is being released in four short weeks!

I thought it would be so much fun to have a special team of women walking along side me to help spread the excitement and create social buzz about this new book to as many people as possible. My goal is not to promote me , but to promote God's message that hope and deliverance from stress is possible when we learn to rely on His peace at all times. I want to help people discover that God is the cure for the stress epidemic!

When I was pondering the thought of forming this special group, I started praying about what to call it, and  suddenly God brought the word "troop" to mind. After looking up the exact definition, I decided that was perfect! Go God! :) 

The word "troop" simply means  a great number or multitude; a body of soldiers; people who flock or march together. 

And that is exactly what my desire for Tracie's Troop is -  a body of God's girls (aka soldiers) marching forward together in confidence to spread the word about the joy and peace that can be found in Christ. 

So why would you want to consider joining Tracie's Troop?

By being of member of Tracie's Troop, you will receive the following benefits: 
* A free electronic version of my new book Stressed-Less Living before the release date (which can be uploaded to your Nook or Kindle, if desired).
* Access to a private Facebook group where we can chat together.
* Invited to participate in a private group conference call with me at the end of September.
* Be the first to know about any new or exciting P31 news, Stressed-Less Living updates, special giveaways, etc.
* Be a part of a close sisterhood who all have one goal in mind - to glorify God!
* Automatically entered into a special Troop drawing to win a Stress Less Gift Pack, which includes two copies of my new book hot off the press, and some special spa items to help you relax.

As a member of the Troop, I would kindly ask for the following: 
* Pray for God to bless this message about stress, and reach His intended readers. 
* Have an active sphere of influence  and be willing to communicate through social media (through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, a personal blog, ministry organization or women's ministry, or large bible study).
* For those who have an active blog, chat with me about being a potential guest post.
* Get involved in some group brainstorming and fun discussions about how to best promote this message.
* Agree to write a brief review of the book and post it on Amazon before October 1st.

In a nutshell - members will be asked to pray, socialize, communicate and recommend. Easy enough, right?! My utmost prayer is that members will be blessed by the benefits they will receive by being a part of this fun initiative. So, if you have a strong social media presence and enjoy 'socializing' with others, then I promise you will enjoy the Troop!

What do you think? Are you interested in becoming a member of Tracie's Troop? 

If so - simply copy and paste the below information list into an email, answer the questions, and forward the email to me.  I can only accept 40 women into the Troop at this time, so if you're interested, don't delay!  Group communication will begin in September!

1. Copy and Paste Below List Into An Email  (put Tracie's Troop as the subject)
2. Fill in Answers 
3. Email to Tracie: 

Email address: 
Phone number:
Name and city of your home church: 

Your Blog or Website Address (if applicable): 
# Blog subscribers

Twitter Handle: 
# Twitter followers:

Facebook Address 
# Facebook friends:

Pinterest Address
# Pinterest Followers:

1. Why would you like to be a part of Tracie’s Troop? 

2. What special ways could  you personally or uniquely help spread the word about Stressed-Less Living?

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mom Alert: The One Thing You Might Be Missing

Today I am featuring my friend and P31 sister, Lynn Cowell, to help get the word out about her awesome new devotional book for teen girls releasing next week, called Devotions For A Revolutionary Year. This is an accompanying devotional book to her recent book for teens, called His Revolutionary Love, which I loved and have two copies of. 

This is a must have for anyone who plays a role in developing a young girls heart, especially if she lives in your own home. Read below for more info:


Do you ever worry that in all of your efforts to raise your kids right, to invest in the young people in your church or influence the teens in your family you might be missing something…something really important? 

I discovered that really important thing.

Although I said that it was important for my kids to know God’s word, my life didn’t reflect it was important. My life said was softball, piano, homework, voice lessons, youth group and school were important. In the craziness of the way we live life today, one thing was missing: reading my kids God’s word.

The problem was when. I had one child in high school, one in middle and another in elementary. With one driving, one acting like she could and another a long way off, it didn’t seem feasible that we could find a time to read God’s word together. I looked at the crowded schedule and came up with one conclusion: breakfast. If I would adjust the morning routine so we would all land at the breakfast table at the same time. I would read to them while they ate.

That was over four years ago. My son is now long gone to college, my middle child a senior and my baby a sophomore. School started on Monday and so did our routine of breakfast together before school.

Do my kids know every story in the Bible? No. In fact, I’m sure you could find some holes in their faith that I still need to fill. But I do find peace that each morning I am intentionally filling their heart with God’s truth before they hit the halls of their high school.

Do you need some help filling those holes too? I've got just the tool to help! Check out my 7 Day Faith Builder, which offers seven days of devotions straight from my new book Devotions for a Revolutionary Year which can be sent directly to your inbox. These devotions are designed to speak to the issues that girls face each day; especially as school is back in full swing.

Maybe you’re looking for a resource to last longer than seven days? “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year; 365 Days of Jesus’ Radical Love for You” is written specifically for girls ages 13 – 17, each day addressing issues close to a young girl’s heart such as body image, crushes, performance, and social media. “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year” fills a girl’s heart with the truth that only Jesus’ can fill the love gap in her heart. Seeing God does have something to say about the important things in her world, she can establish a history with God and a pattern to last a lifetime. 

 In “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year” I help young women to: 

* Begin each day with truth from Jesus
* Develop the habit of spending time daily with Jesus
* Apply God's wisdom to the choices she makes each day
* Find positive self-worth in Jesus' perfect love
* Make decisions that honor God & not follow her feelings 
* Empower her heart to choose relationships that are beneficial, not painful 

So stop by Lynn's website today at where is she is giving a Faith Builder pack, which includes a carry bag, a "Jesus" t-shirt, a copy of her book His Revolutionary Love and a "sweatshirt" journal!

Mom Alert: The One Thing You Might Be MissingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, August 27, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

The other night I was working diligently on the final proofread of my manuscript for my upcoming book, Stressed-Less Living, and as I progressed through the pages, reading words that I had written months ago, I began to feel very inadequate.

An onslaught of insecurities and doubts began to flood my thoughts, and I seemed to lose my ability to focus on the content of the pages. Questions began to swirl through my mind like debris caught in a tornado, clouding my ability to focus. 

Questions like....... Who do you think you are?  You're not a bible scholar, an ordained preacher, a doctor, or even possess any of the qualifications that might make someone qualified to write a book. You are not worthy. And you are certainly not always stress free. Remember just last week when you were so stressed your head was spinning? You are not equipped. In fact, why would you even think God called you to do this? Maybe you misunderstood? Seems a little presumptuous that God would call you to do anything, considering all your flaws. Maybe you should quit.

I suddenly felt paralyzed by feelings of inferiority, unworthiness, and fear of failure. But thankfully, within moments, I sensed God whispering to my spirit, gently overriding the other voice I was listening to, and reminding me that the enemy was up to his tactics again. Tactics that cause discouragement, doubt, self condemnation and fear. Tactics that lead to quitting when we feel unworthy, and when the path seems unknown.

You see, many times in the past, I have fallen prey to these tactics. On countless occasions, I have experienced this flood of insecurities raging into my heart and mind, like a knife plunging into my self confidence, causing me to doubt myself, my willingness to obey God, and even teeter with the idea of quitting.

So when the devil began to fill my head with these same types of insecurities again, I was prepared to fight back. I stopped what I was doing, closed my eyes, and prayed, asking God to reassure me of what He had called me to do. Asking Him for courage and strength and confidence., while seeking confirmation that I was following His will, and not my own.

The very next morning I opened my Jesus Calling devotion, and tears came to my eyes. God's Words washed over my spirit with sweet, unexpected reassurance.

The daily post that I read said this :

"Wait with me for a while. I have much to tell you. You are walking along the path I have chosen for you. It is both a privileged and a perilous way: experiencing My glorious Presence and heralding that reality to others. Sometimes you feel presumptuous to be carrying out such as assignment. Do not worry about what other people think of you. The work I am doing in you is hidden at first. But eventually blossoms will burst forth, and abundant fruit will be borne. Stay on the path of Life with Me. Trust me wholeheartedly, letting My Spirit fill you with Joy and Peace." 

As I allowed this divine message to sink into my heart, I was refueled by witnessing the reality that God heard my prayer for reassurance, and answered. Excitement coursed through my veins as I read that He has much to tell me; that I am on the right path, even though it feels unsure; and that although I feel unworthy and unqualified, He has a plan, though it may be hidden from me right now. A reminder to trust Him, even when I am feeling unworthy.

As I thought back about all those swirling questions that caught my focus that night, I realized they all had one thing in common.  They were all focused on what I am not - instead of what I am.

I am a child of God. I am imperfect, but made whole in Christ. I am blessed with a Savior. I am privileged to serve God, despite myself and my sin.  I am His child, His beloved, His chosen.

And so are you.
The devil's job is to discourage us from pursuing the assignments that God lays on our hearts, by reminding us of all the ways we don't measure up. We all sin and fall short of God's glory, but those shortcomings do not prevent us from being used by Him for good things. And those shortcomings definitely do not change who we are in Christ.

Have you ever stopped doing something that you felt God had laid on your heart, because the enemy fed you a heaping portion of insecurity and doubt? Have you felt presumptuous in assuming that God wanted to use you to glorify Him in some way?

Have you walked off the path you felt called to, because you felt paralyzed by your own limitations or flawed opinion of your self worth?

If so, take a moment today and pray for God to reassure you of His love, your value in Him, and His call on your life. Be aware of whose voice you are listening to, and ask yourself whether or not the things you have been believing about yourself can be backed up by God's Word.

Most importantly, make a conscious choice through prayer to stop focusing on all the things 'you are not'.  And instead, remember all the things you are, simply because of Whose you are.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

5 Tips for Abiding in Christ

(Note:  The Detox Challenge will not be sent out to regular subscribers right now, so if you're interested in participating and jump starting your journey to less stress, get signed up today!)

If you're hopping over here from my Proverbs 31 devotion today, then welcome!  For all my regular bloggy friends, happy Friday!

The message of today's Proverbs 31 devotion, Can't Do It Alone, was that although we think we are capable of handling life, and circumstances, on our own, we simply are not. Despite all the experience, training, skills or maturity we may possess,  we will constantly be faced with frustration and discouragement if we try to have authority over our lives, instead of surrendering to God's authority and recognizing our need for His intervention and help. 

The word "abide" means 'to remain, continue, or dwell in; to continue in a particular condition, attitude or relationship".  I think sometimes we make the thought of 'abiding in Christ' harder than it needs to be. Our minds envision someone 'abiding in Christ' as a person who is super spiritual all the time, quoting scripture, preaching on stage, or meditating for hours on end. Although those things are good, they are not requirements for abiding in Christ.

Let's look at it this way - the opposite of the word abide is 'to leave, quit or refuse'. So to abide in Christ means to live in Him and allow Him to live in you - the opposite of refusing Him, leaving Him, or ceasing to believe. 

Abiding in Christ is simply a commitment to be in a relationship with Him, and our commitment will compel us to carry out the behaviors that bear fruit in our lives.  Below are 5 tips for abiding in Christ to help you in your daily quest to stay connected to the Vine as we are encouraged to do in John 15:5.

1. Recognize your need for God. 
    John 6:35  Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.     Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

2. Believe that He is capable of handling your life, and the problems within. 
    2 Corinthians 9:8  "And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have               everything you need and plenty left over to share with others."

3. Remember you are chosen by God, and He wants to be in an intimate relationship with you.
   1 Peter 2:9 "......  for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own       possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the             darkness into his wonderful light."

4. Communicate with God as you go about your day and enjoy conversation with Him.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17  "Never stop praying."

5. Obey His Word. Allow His instructions to guide your behaviors and actions.
    1 John 3:24 "Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with            them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us."

Abiding in Christ does not determine our eternal security - only our faith in Him does that. Yet, His call to abide in Him is intended for our own good. He knows that when we dwell in Him, and experience His presence in our lives, we will be filled with peace, comfort and assurance of His sovereignty and unconditional love.  We will be equipped to handle stressful situations when they flood into our lives. We will be capable of surviving the storms of life, because we dwell in Him.

When we experience His love, we will live out our lives as an expression of His love, and that is a true sign of really abiding.

* My 10 Day Stress Detox would be a great tool to help you really focus on making abiding in Christ a priority in your faith walk and in your life! Sign up soon if you are interested!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Pigtails Forever

As soon as my mind lulled from a deep sleep to a state of partial awakeness, I knew it was the morning I had been dreading for 18 1/2 years. The first day of college for my first born child.

Before my eyes were even open, tears trickled down my face.

The mature side of me was so excited for Morgan. Thrilled about her new season of life and all the fun and challenging opportunities that lie ahead. But the mommy side of me felt like dead bolting her bedroom door so I could keep her safe and sound and always within an arm's reach.

Instead, I walked upstairs to her room, crawled under her covers and spent a few minutes talking and snuggling with her before we started our busy day.

We spent hours packing up all the items purchased for her new home away from home into the car, and then headed towards the university.

Up to that point, other than a few tears earlier that morning, I had held up pretty good. Things were going fine, until my husband tried to give me a pep talk - which did not pep me up, I must say. His intentions were good, and I listened quietly while he said things like "we have to let the kids grow up"; "she's an awesome girl and is going to be fine"; and "she's not that far away from home".

But when he said "and we can't keep them in pigtails forever" - the dam broke. Tears burst forth and I couldn't stop them.

But...but...but... I love pigtails! I love frilly dresses, and big pink bows! I love black patton shoes, stuffed animals and Hello Kitty pocketbooks. I love back-to-school shopping, taking pictures the first day of school, cheerleading uniforms and watching them play sports all year. I love tucking them in each night, praying with them, kisses on the forehead, and turning out the light knowing they will be safely snuggled into their beds each morning when I arise.

Fotunately that morning despite the busyness around the house, I had stopped to read my Jesus Calling daily devotion which said this:  "FIND ME in the midst of the maelstrom. Sometimes events whirl around you so quickly that they become a blur. Whisper My Name in recognition that I am still with you. Without skipping a beat in the activities that occupy you, you find strength and Peace through praying My Name."

Throughout the whirlwind of our day, although we were laughing and enjoying the move-in process, there were many moments when I secretly felt as if I were on the brink of an emotional meltdown. Yet each time that happened, I remembered God's message to me that morning, and I prayed the name of Jesus over and over. Secretly whispering His name under my breath - Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. With each utter of His name, a feeling of peace would wash over me once again, helping me hold back the tears.

When everything was in place and the room was decorated, the time came when we had to depart. I felt the ugly cry coming on. You know the kind where your face contorts, your nose runs and you can't talk like a normal person. But the name of Jesus brought strength once again, equipping me to say our goodbyes with smiles and hugs. And a few tears, of course.

I love being a mom to all three of my children, so the thought of my sweet daughter not being there every morning when I wake up, meandering downstairs with her sleepy look and bouncy bun on the top of her head just makes my heart heavy and my eyes blurry. The reality of not seeing her daily makes me ache inside.

After all, what mom doesn't wish her little girl could stay in pigtails forever?

But, I also love who God has uniquely created her to be. Not perfect, but perfectly beautiful in every way that matters. Not without mistakes, but with the ability to grow from them. Not without regrets of hard lessons learned, but with building of her character along the way. With a love of the arts, God-given talent, a decorative flair, and the courage to be her own person.I know I will learn to love this new season of life just as much, as I watch her become the woman God created her to be.

And who knows, maybe when she comes home for holiday break, she'll ask me to help with her pigtails. And that will bring a smile to this momma's face.

Maybe you are a momma going through a similar experience today, either a first day of kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college.

Or maybe you are facing an even more difficult circumstance, feeling afraid that you don't have the strength to get through it. 

Might I encourage you, no matter what situation you are facing, to whisper the name of Jesus throughout your day? Each time you feel weak and incapable, simply whisper His name.

You'll be amazed at the peace you will be filled with, even if your circumstance is not at all peaceful.

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Know A Twenty-something Young Woman?

Hi friends,  today I am guest posting over at my P31 sister Sarah Francis Martin's blog, and I would love for you to hope over and visit Sarah!

Sarah has a passion to encourage young women who are struggling through the years of their twenties, and help them deal with all the drama that decade brings. Oh, how I wish I had had someone like Sarah to talk to and learn from when I was in my twenties!

I answered a few interview questions with Sarah as she prepared her blog post for today, and as I pondered how to answer them, I realized that I was totally directionless in my twenties!

As I took a concentrated look back to try to remember what my focus was at that time in my life, it became so clear that I was so caught up the drama of trying to make it as a wife, mom and career woman, that I was completely directionless and clueless about God's plan for my life.

I know I'm not the only girl who felt that way back then, and that there are plenty of young women feeling that way right now.

The twenty-something era can be tough, especially for this generation with all the technological advancement, social media and lack of morality in our culture. And that is exactly why God calls women like Sarah to minister to and mentor young women who are trying to find their way in the world, without losing themselves, their faith or their purpose.

I also want to tell you about Sarah's new book Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama. It addresses so many issues that twenty-something women have to deal with at this stressful time in their life, and to encourage them to live for Christ.

If you are a twenty-something, or you know a twenty-something young woman, who could use some encouragement and girlfriend connection time, then check out Sarah's blog, and the Proverbs 31 She Seeks blog where Sarah contributes blog posts and vlogs every week!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hugs, God and Chocolate Ice Cream

Recently I have watched all three of my children be disappointed in something that has not turned out the way we had hoped and prayed for.

As I watch their hearts ache,  I can feel their pain in the deepest parts of my soul, as any mom does. I so desperately wish I could "fix" their problems as easily as I once could when a band-aid, a kiss, and a bowl of chocolate ice cream could melt away any hurt.

But unfortunately ice cream does not heal all woes, even though we wish it could.  In the midst of great disappointment, their emotions are fragile. They feel hurt, angered, frustrated, helpless, and sad. That's a mixture of emotions that even adults have a hard time dealing with.

I can understand their feelings, because I have experienced disappointment more times than I want to admit. I remember the negativity that coursed  through my veins, the less than godly thoughts that crept into my mind, and the doubt about God's protection and love that was ushered in with the ever changing waves of emotion.

But I vividly remember the day that God helped me to see that He can turn our disappointments, into His appointments.  On that particular day when I was down and discouraged, I slumped down on the couch and half heartedly opened my Bible, hoping that maybe God would join my pity party. And He did join the party - but with grace, understanding and comfort - not pity.

You see, I came across Psalm 25 which talks about trusting God and finding hope in Him alone. Verses 4-5 say, "Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.:

 As if my eyes were suddenly opened to what was going on in my heart, I became acutely aware that I was faced with a choice in that moment.
I could either allow this disappointment to make me feel inferior and discouraged, or I could allow God to use it as a divine appointment to trust Him and wait to see how He would be glorified through it. I could wallow in a pit of pity, or put my hope in the sweet promises of God.

Sometimes we get so stuck focusing on the disappointment, we forget that life will go on. We are blinded to anything beyond the hurt we are currently experiencing. But God wants us to see the bigger picture, to look for the good that might come out the hurt, and to trust that even though we can't see it right now, He has a beautiful plan and purpose for this hardship.

I have the benefit of looking back over my life and seeing how God used my disappointments for His better plans - which gives me hope and encouragement. However, this is a hard concept for a child, even a teenager, to understand.

But with experience comes grace and wisdom, and those two gifts are what helps moms tend to the hurts of their children and others with with love and compassion, without joining into the negative emotions that they are expressing out of hurt and disappointment.

Our disappointments are often God's way of saving us from taking a wrong path, and preparing us for something better. But they are often His way of equipping us to minister to our children, or to others who are hurting, when they face disappointments of their own. To encourage them to trust in God's bigger picture; and to believe God's plan is always best, even when life doesn't go our way.

Our families should always be our first ministry. And if that means being disappointed at times so that we can help them to learn to trust God and put their hope in His ways, then if you ask me, each tear of experience shed was worth it.

And thank goodness, no matter how old our kids get, a  hug and a little chocolate ice cream can still bring a smile.

Hugs, God and Chocolate Ice CreamSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Choose To Listen To The Truth

 My Proverbs 31 devotion last week about spiritual warfare apparently hit a nerve.

So many people all over the world are struggling with attacks from the enemy in all different forms, and it blessed my heart to read that so many are committed to trusting God in their circumstances.

However, as I read through all the comments, two things became abundantly clear......1) Satan does not discriminate, and 2) he has an infinite arsenal of tools to attack people's hearts.

In some cases, he uses challenging personal relationships to discourage us. He may use health, employment or financial difficulties. At other times, he uses addictions, abuse or self condemnation. And at times, he even uses people.

Unfortunately, all too often, the enemy works through broken people to hurt others physically, resulting in the horrific amount of abuse, violence and murder in our society today. But sometimes he uses more subtle tactics. Tactics that cause wounds that are invisible to the human eye.

Tactics as simple as a person's words.

Over the past few months, I have had several comments posted on my blog from someone who obviously knows my family personally, but who posts their comments as 'anonymous' - because their comments are not very kind. Comments that not only attack me and my faith, but also my children.

I will admit - it hurts to have your integrity and your faith questioned. It stings for someone to say negative and mean things - especially when someone's comments move beyond us, and onto attacking our families as well.

But as my thoughts and emotions stirred, rather than get upset, I chose to pray. I prayed for God to fill my heart with His reassurance, rather than allowing the words of a broken person to shake my confidence. I prayed for Him to help me respond in the right way. I prayed to forgive. And then I prayed for my accuser, because I know that 'hurt people', hurt people.

As my prayers floated up to heaven, God opened my eyes to see what was really going on. You see, these were not just words spoken by an anonymous person, but tools of the enemy in an attempt to make me discouraged. These were not mere verbal attacks, but spiritual attacks - exactly as I had talked about in last week's devotion.

I looked up the verses again in Ephesians 6:10-12, which tells us our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers of the unseen world. I also looked up Galatians 1:10 for comfort, which says,  "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."  (NIV)

What peace it brings knowing that God doesn't expect us to please everyone - only Him. He knows how imperfect we all are, yet He loves us anyway. And He knows that we will we mess up at times, but He always promises forgiveness, and unconditional love and acceptance.

In life we will always encounter people who criticize and judge, and their harsh words may cause us to feel discouraged and condemned.  But what I have learned over the years is that constructive criticism is something we all need and should value; honest, heartfelt words that can help us mature and learn. But destructive criticism never comes from God.

Maybe a parent spoke harsh words to you as a child which have haunted you ever since.  Maybe a spouse has criticized you and made you feel "less-than". Maybe a co-worker, an in-law, or a former friend ridiculed you and it's been difficult to forget the pain they caused.

Friends, let's remember this. When we feel hurt by the thoughtless words of a broken person, we always have two choices:
                    * we can seek and embrace God's truth in the midst of the criticism, and remember that
                      we are precious and honored in His sight
                   * we can listen to false truths of our accusers, giving them authority over our hearts and
                       succumbing to the enemy's lies to make us feel discouraged and worthless

I choose to seek God's truth. What about you? 

Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NIV)

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