When I moved to LA, I was starry-eyed with excitement. I saw the mountains in the distance, felt the perfect weather every day, and was excited to be in a new city in an attempt to accomplish my dreams.

From the people to the food, weather, activities, fashion, and lifestyle, it couldn’t have been be more different than my hometown. People loved to dress up every day in their newest outfit, work out in the trendiest classes, and do anything and everything to look and feel good.

Look, I’m not trying to judge anyone, because I quickly noticed I was doing the same. Within the first year of living there, I changed my diet, dyed my hair, got lash extensions, and joined the trendy gym, trying to fit in.

Now, while I don’t think there is anything wrong with any of these choices, it quickly became a self-obsession. It wasn’t until I sought out a counselor and nutritionist that I realized I was draining myself.


I made these choices from a place of hating my body and keeping up with people.I wasn’t genuinely trying to be healthy, working out because I loved it, but I was just doing things for my present self and not for my future self.

Digging into the why behind what we are doing is so important. What is your intention or your motivation?

Perhaps you relate to my story. What I’ve learned is that in pursuing a long, healthy life, bringing people and God into the process helps keep our motives and intentions pure.

Sometimes our desires aren’t wrong, but the reason behind them is.

The more we take care of the internal, the more it positively affects the external.

God wants us to take care of ourselves. He says in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 that our bodies are a temple, which means that our bodies are to be treated with care like a holy place. If God compares our bodies to a holy temple, it must mean that He wants us to treat them as such.

But to care for my body, I also had to attend to my soul. I like to think that your soul is what makes you come alive. It’s what responds to the things that bring you joy, immense exhilaration, and peace. It’s those moments that make me go, “Wow, I feel so alive! I want to do more of that!”


Think of a time when you felt so happy and overwhelmed by God’s goodness. Can you channel that again or—even better—re-create that situation? Was it maybe after you hiked somewhere and got to the top of the mountain and saw the view? Whatever it is, do that more often! As long as the things are God-honoring and good, do them!

Even though life will have its inevitable challenges, rejoice, pray, and give thanks to God through the storms.

I’ve seen my joy and mood improve significantly, and I believe it can be the same for you!

For more insights, watch our conversation with Jeanine and Hannah here.

*For further reflection, listen to 1 Corinthians 6 today.

  1. 1 Corinthians 6

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Adapted from Becoming Happy and Healthy by Jeanine Amapola, Bethany House, a division of Baker Published Group, 2024. Used by Permission.

Whether you’re caring for a new baby, a sick child, an aging parent, or you’re nurturing the work you love, some days can feel like the work is never done.

I often find it hard to go to sleep when all my tasks haven’t been checked off my to-do list. It feels like I can only draw my day to a close when I’m able to shut the book on that list. But what is a life when it’s lived chasing after a list?

I hope you’ll take a deep breath and receive this blessing today:

May you give yourself a moment to take a few deep breaths.

May the Lord guide you to the reason you work as hard as you do.

May you acknowledge that God is working and watching out for you, bringing peace to your racing heart.

May you remember that life is more than lists.

Life is moments connected by time and love: a hand slipped slowly into yours on a walk, the joy of a puppy, bedtime prayers recited together.

May you never give yourself so wholeheartedly to your lists that you forget to live your life.

You are more than the sum of your check marks.

Consider tomorrow’s to-dos. What can you rearrange or move to make space for life to happen?

These are the moments that will fuel your energy and passion for the work you must do.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22)

*For deeper reflection, listen to Proverbs 17 today.

  1. Proverbs 17

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Taken from Near in the Night by Emily Ley. Copyright © 2023 by Emily Ley. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.

When I turned 50, I said to myself, “I am not THAT old.” When I turned 60, my friends told me, “Sixty is the new forty.” Finally, when I turned 70, I admitted, “Seventy is THAT old!”

Now I am almost a decade older. I’ve written a book on aging. But I am still surprised by the experience of getting older.

My soul is growing as my body is aging.

To grow means to change. Paul wrote, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” (Ephesians 4:23). As we age, we are invited to allow the Holy Spirit to change the thoughts and attitudes we have held for decades. Some perspectives and spiritual disciplines that helped me when I was younger are no longer life-giving.

As my body ages, I have less energy and fewer opportunities. The Holy Spirit is changing my expectations and priorities.

I need to unlearn some of the things that I used to believe.

I used to feel responsible for many things. Now that I can do less, God is inviting me to think about my days in terms of fruitfulness rather than productivity.

The list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23 reminds me that it is more important to love others than to finish my “to-do” list.

I want to focus on the invitations God gives in my losses.

Jesus said,“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20). When I was younger, I had important jobs to do and places where I found significance. Now I am losing some of that sense of importance. Some days my spirit feels “poor” about all I have lost.

Jesus promises I will experience the Kingdom of God even as I experience this part of aging.

He said God’s Kingdom is like “a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.” (Mark 4:26-27)

What a comfort this is! I can toss seeds on the ground (when I have the energy!) and then go to bed. I don’t understand it, but whether I am asleep or awake, the seeds are growing.

I thank God for the fruit of this season of life.

*For deeper reflection, listen to Ephesians 4 today.

  1. Ephesians 4

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I picked up my phone off the nightstand that morning and opened it with dread. I felt anxiety fill my body. On social media, I knew what I would find: other people enjoying their lives while I cried about mine.

Life felt so unfair. Hot tears filled my eyes, and I immediately tried to blink them back while I whispered a desperate prayer, “Lord, am I going to feel like this forever?”

As I poured my coffee, I made a mental list of what I felt like I could no longer handle.

For starters, I battled relentlessly with my mental health. And I also juggled two kids under five, my husband’s unforeseen job loss, the sudden passing of my father-in-law, and ongoing financial pressures, just to name a few.

I saw no relief in sight. It was hard not to feel frustrated, fed-up, and maybe even a little forgotten by God.

My soul was exhausted, and I was tired of trying. It seemed I had prayed every prayer I knew how to pray and read every Scripture I knew that pertained to my circumstances. Yet, nothing seemed to change.

Maybe you know this season all too well. Maybe you’ve been hurting so deeply and for so long. Maybe you expected to handle this better and to be stronger when everything came crashing down.

But it’s okay that you’re feeling weak and unsure. God wants us to let go of trying to figure it all out, and let him do what he does bestsave us.

When God commanded Moses to save his people from their slavery in Egypt, they never expected their journey to freedom to take so long or be so very hard.

But God had not taken them to the wilderness to simply punish them. Instead, he brought them there to both teach them dependence on him and bring them to the good land he had prepared for them.

In Jeremiah 31:2-3, we see the Lord say in reference to that time, “‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel…I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.'”

God hears your cries for deliverance, and he has grace for you in your wilderness.

I continued to walk through my own wilderness. I realized God was using those things I thought were breaking me to make me more like Jesus.

I felt exhausted because I believed it was all up to me.

When I chose to trust him to hold my broken heart and receive his grace, he began to reveal the good plans he had all along.

Friend, will you dare to remember the heart of God when it is hard to understand why he is not fixing your most hurtful seasons?

Will you trust that, like the Israelites, you, too will find grace in our wilderness? Will you cling to the truth that he has rest for your worn-out souls and that he will never stop loving you?

Regardless of how you feel, you can stand in confidence that God will continue to be faithful.

Dear Lord, Thank you that you hear my prayers when my life feels like it is too much, and I am desperate for solutions. I pray you would help me to hold onto you in faith. Cause me to stand on the truth of who I know you to be; a good, faithful and loving Father. Thank you that you always have my best in mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*For further reflection, listen to Jeremiah 31 today.

  1. Jeremiah 39

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Enjoy further insights with Ashley Morgan Jackson in our interview with her here.

People’s experience of you is not who you are.

Many people think comparison causes insecurity, which is why many self-help and self-esteem books try to use positive affirmations to help you stop comparing yourself with others. But affirmations don’t work long-term because they don’t address the root of the problem.

Comparison does not cause insecurity; comparison results from insecurity.

Insecurity causes comparison because when our identity is secured to the unstable, ever-changing opinions of others, we think the only way to increase our value is to become whatever they think we should be.

  • Your mother says, “Your sister always does so well in math. Why are you struggling?” You respond by setting your sister’s performance in math as the benchmark for academic success.
  • Your friend says, “Maybe more squats will make your legs more toned like Barbara’s.” You respond by setting Barbara’s muscular legs as the benchmark for fitness success.
  • Your husband says, “Your mother takes such great care of your father. She irons his clothes and always has a hot meal ready.” You respond by setting your mother as the benchmark for being a good wife.

You begin to secure aspects of your identity based on the good things people say about others and then measure how far you are from their standard.

To please your mother, friend, husband, and manager, you give their voices credibility in your heart. You believe what they say and compare yourself to the ideal person in hopes of being more like them.

God, on the other hand, says this:

  • [You are] fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
  • Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

God says all this without the qualifier of comparison, which raises the question, “Which voice will we believe?”

The voices of other human beings or the voice of God?

Insecurity emerges when we believe the voices that diminish our value in comparison to others. Security and insecurity both begin with the voice we choose to believe.

The voice we believe becomes the voice we obey—whether people’s voice or God’s voice—and the voice to which we ultimately secure our identity.

*For further reflection, listen to Psalm 139 today.

  1. Psalm 139

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Taken from Killing Comparison by Nona Jones. Copyright © September 27, 2022 by Nona Jones. Used by permission of Zondervan.com.

The song “New Wine” begins

“In the crushing…In the pressing…You are making new wine.”

My early elementary report cards showed “outstanding” rankings, except for one “needs improvement” blot on my second-grade report card. The category described how I “handle disappointment.” Many were my youthful tears—whether shed behind a textbook, on the sidelines of lacrosse, or upon my bed. From my early days, I did not handle disappointment well.

Jesus talked about the need for “new wineskins” with new wines. (Matthew 9:17) The old wineskins would no longer suffice because the new wine would bust them wide open.

In the same way, as an adult, I needed to learn to let go of what I thought my life was supposed to be—the old wineskins—and embrace the reality of entirely new wineskins and the new wines they would hold.

Crushing and pressing are involved in making new wine. On the heels of two very crushing experiences, I faced a continual need to surrender in order to fully produce this new wine, and it all felt so disappointing.

Disappointment never crushed me more than when we had to leave our life in Hungary after I experienced my first mental health crisis.

However, amid all the horrible lies I heard during my manic episode in Orlando, God whispered more fervently, “Endure, beloved, endure.”

I didn’t know what this message meant except that I needed to hold tightly and remember that God was real despite all the lies.

All I could do was seek to hang on to the overarching truth of Christ’s redemption.Christ’s remarkable story would win in my life and in all things.

Sometimes, dear reader, this is all we can do.

With something like mental illness, when our minds are sponges for deception, we have to trust the greater truth of God. He is present beyond every crushing experience, making new wine for us and within us. And not just any wine, but full-bodied, rich, exquisite wine that will one day be served at the great feast of God in the new heaven and new Earth.

As we walk this long road home, there may be many times God calls us to endure. Every one of our beliefs may be tested, but our deepest truths can come to life in this pressing time.

We are made for God, and he will have us forever, basking in his love’s beauty and heavens’ fullness. Moreover, this new wine he makes of us will bear the stunning story of his beauty replacing the ashes of our sorrow.

*For further reflection, listen to Matthew 9.

  1. Matthew 9

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Adapted from A Million Skies: Secure in God’s Strength When Your Mind Can’t Rest © Abigail Alleman, 2022.

My working philosophy of God was this: Following Jesus can feel brutal. Living a transformed and transforming life, though, is everything and more.

Scripture says, in Colossians 3:23, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” And I had taken “Work willingly at whatever you do” to heart.

So when I received a job offer to promote The Chosen television series worldwide as Angel Studio’s Head of Global Expansion, I threw myself at it wholeheartedly. Two weeks after moving to Rome, I was too sick to work or even fly home.

It felt as though my heart had been twisted like a rag with its vital contents wrung out.

The whole thing left me asking, “What if my definition of wholeheartedness was just an over-functioning, all-in and all-out mentality?”

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

When I was in Rome, I was operating with the broken belief that I needed to prove myself and showcase my value to those around me.

So when I entered rooms with my version of a whole heart, I stood heartless, mindless, and unaware.

I couldn’t hear what people were saying because the explosion of my neediness was ringing in my ears.

However, when God calls us to work at something with our whole hearts, he asks us to bring our wholeness into his presence. God calls us to be guardians of our hearts because they determine the course of our lives. Our ears must be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who brings clarity and discernment.

With God, there is no burden of proof. God doesn’t require us to showcase our worthiness. Instead, he asks us to find our worthiness in him and then show up in the room——present, listening, clear, rooted, discerning, observant, and whole.

This is what it means to be “working willingly for the Lord.”

From this place of wholeness, the presence of God shines through and allows everything we do to flow.

*For further reflection, listen to Proverbs 4

  1. Proverbs 4

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May Cordila’s story encourage you in our interview with her (watch here).

I’ve never been a good sleeper. But years of motherhood, of getting up with babies in the night, did me in. My ears are tuned to the faintest sound of distress. So I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received was a weighted blanket.

Weighted blankets are filled with pellets, and when they are draped over a hyper-stimulated body, they can help it relax. These blankets work on theory that something called “deep touch pressure” helps the body regulate itself when under physical and emotional distress.

Deep pressure is also the phenomenon behind infant swaddling and might help explain why Mary wrapped the newborn Jesus “snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:7). Luke’s record of Mary wrapping her son in “swaddling bands” is the first record we have of the incarnated body of the Son of God.

The first thing you learn about Jesus’s physical humanity is his need for comfort and care.

“Swaddling clothes” also help a newborn transition from the womb to the world.

When birth ushers an infant into a world of intense physical sensation, his senses are bombarded—every touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight is amplified.

Now imagine this. The God of the universe chooses to come to earth as a baby. But to do this, he must cede control, even over his own body. So his mother does what any good mother would do: she wraps him tightly, knowing this will calm him. And suddenly his muscles begin to relax, his breathing is softer and finally, he falls asleep, safe in his mother’s arms.

When I think of how Mary clothed infant Jesus, it reminds me of how God clothed the naked bodies of Adam and Eve. After they’d eaten the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:7 says that instantly “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.”

Their sin ushered them into a new existence. And in the light of righteousness, they stand exposed and ashamed.

They try to hide themselves, but everything is out of their control. Then Genesis says this: “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife” (Genesis 3:21).

You might be tempted to read this as their nakedness offended God. Or you might read as if God stepped in to solve a problem he had not created.

But reading it this way would miss the heart of a good Father.

In Isaiah 66, he promises: “I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.”

And so he clothed them. He covered and comforted them.

Just as Mary cared for her son, God cares for us.

Seeing us helpless and exposed, he clothes us, wrapping us tightly in the bands of his merciful compassion.

And so today with eyes of faith, we learn to trust this care. We learn to trust that the God who clothed and comforted his restless children in the garden—the God who was clothed as a restless child—will do the same for us.

We trust that the bands of his everlasting love will hold us secure, today and for eternity.

*For deeper reflection, listen to Luke 2.

  1. Luke 2

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Adapted with permission from Heaven and Nature Sing: 25 Advent Reflections to Bring Joy to the World by Hannah Anderson. Copyright 2022, B&H Publishing.

Jesus says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).

In Deuteronomy 30, God addresses the whole company of Israel through Moses and says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessing and curses. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

We experience daily choices of “life” and “death” that we can be attentive to and receive guidance from God. 

They could be that slight tension headache we get as we interact with a particular person or the aspect of our job that is draining, or the life-giving energy we feel in the presence of art and beauty. They may also include the sensation of being “in the flow” when we are engaged in a particular activity, the feeling of peace we notice as we walk into a particular building or space.

God’s will for us is generally to do more of that which gives us life (Deuteronomy 30:11-20) and to turn away from those things that drain life from us.

Furthermore, God points out that the wisdom that enables us to choose life is not something we will find outside of ourselves – in heaven or across the ocean, but this knowing is very near to us; it is in our mouths and in our hearts for us to notice and to observe (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

Many of our smaller decisions and most of our significant decisions – even decisions that require you to choose between two equally good options – involve the ability to notice what brings a sense of life, freedom in the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17), and the peace that exceeds anything we can understand (Philippians 4:7).

These inner dynamics need not be attached to anything that is particularly momentous; in fact, they might seem relatively inconsequential until we learn to pay attention and trust what they have to tell us.

The opportunity to choose life is ours—in the day-to-day choices we face as well as in the larger decisions of our lives.

When we make it our habit to notice and respond to that which is life-giving, we are in touch with what is truest about God, ourselves, and our world.

*For further reflection, listen to Deuteronomy 30 today.

  1. Deuteronomy 30

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Are you harassed and helpless, distressed and dispirited, feeling alone in your struggles as if no one sees you? You may feel alone, but God will never leave you or forsake you.

In the book of Genesis, we find an Egyptian slave woman named Hagar alone, broken, insignificant, and rejected. Hagar, whose name means one who fears, is a socially marginalized woman with no control over her life circumstances.

As she sits alone and desperate in the wilderness, we encounter an extraordinary moment in Scripture. An angel of the Lord finds Hagar and calls her by name, something her mistress had refused to do and tells Hagar the Lord has heard her affliction.

In response, she calls God by the name El Roi, meaning the “God Who Sees Me.” The angel instructs her to return and submit to her mistress. Her circumstances won’t change, but the strength and perspective with which she faces them will be different.

Every character in Hagar’s story experienced their own fears, doubts, insecurities, and injustices along a broken road, lost like sheep. The original Hebrew word Roi’iy means “shepherd,” “seeing,” “looking,” or “gazing.”

When you feel vulnerable and alone, you can find hope and comfort in the “God Who Sees Me.” Take comfort in the fact your compassionate Good Shepherd is always looking for you.

Even when you feel desperately isolated, God promises that you are never alone.

Reflect:

1. In the seasons of life where you feel alone, how can you look back at your story and see ways God has met you along the way to find you and bring you encouragement?
2. How can you find a friend struggling through a season of loneliness in the wilderness and offer companionship and encouragement?
3. How can you find tangible hope in the God Who Sees You?

Pray:

God, my soul is troubled. I am weary with argument and conversation, and my bed at night swims with the tears of my distress. I worry. I see hurt. I feel alone. My eyes waste away with grief as conflict makes me weary. I know You hear my voice lifted in desperate prayer. Give me faith in times of distress. I ask for mercy in the midst of pain. Bring healing where there is conflict. Pour over me Your unfailing love. I know You accept my prayer. I ask You to walk with me daily, putting people in my path who will speak encouragement and the words of life delivered straight from Your heart to mine, with confident affirmation to remind me I am never truly alone. Amen.

*For further reflection, listen to (Psalm 6).

  1. Psalm 6

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Adapted from Behind Closed Doors: A Guide to Help Parents and Teens Navigate Through Life’s Toughest Issues (W Publishing Group, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing).