Fitting In
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Devotional:
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"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". 
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Commentary:
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Do you ever feel like you have trouble fitting in?  Fitting in with your friends, your family, your community?  When I was a child my mother told me the story of a mother hen who had six beautiful yellow chicks and one ugly grey one.  The ugly one had a difficult time growing up because it seemed he was always being picked on by all the other chicks. He was made fun of, rejected, and made to feel like he didn't belong and that he was somehow not as good as the others.  Years later, when all the chicks were grown, a flock of beautiful swans came swimming by.  The ugly duckling thought to himself how lovely they were and how much he wished he looked like they did.   Then he looked into the water and saw his own reflection and realized that he was not an ugly duckling afterall.  He was a beautiful swan and after that moment, his life was never the same.
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At some point in our lives, I believe all of us feel like that ugly duckling.  We feel like we are a misfit and we just don't fit in with everyone else.  Many people go through most, if not all, of their lives feeling that way, and it's sad to think that they miss out on so much.   Sometimes people say cruel things to hurt us, and even though those things aren't true, they stick in our minds and are difficult to forget.  And if someone tells you that you are ugly, then it's natural that you might believe them and the memory of that hurt could take years to erase.  When we believe that we are ugly it can have a profound effect on our self-image, the way we act, and the way we deal with our lives and the situations that confront us.  When people tell us we are ugly, clumsy, stupid, or any of the other mean remarks that are so often heard, their words become a part of us and we tend to act in the way that we have been described, no matter what we may believe about ourselves.
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God does not see us in the same way man sees us, and when we look at ourselves the way God does, our lives become changed.  God looks beyond our faults and our imperfections and sees the unique people He created us to be.  He sees us through His eyes of love, and sees in us the people He envisions us to be.  Sometimes we spend our days trying to measure up to other people's expectations, striving to be as beautiful as the person we so admire, never realizing that our true beauty comes from within.  When God's presence is within us, His beauty shines through, and like the reflection of that ugly duckling in the water, the reflection of God's characteristics show through us.  Be willing to set aside your ideas of the way the world sees you and dwell on the way God sees you; a person with great beauty, potential, and most of all, His beautiful, precious child.  Michelangelo, the great artist, once said, "I saw the angel in the marble and chiseled until I set it free".  We are all angels in God's eyes.  We don't know the plans God has for our lives, but He does.  Put your faith and your trust in Him, and let Him lead you through the days ahead.   I pray that you will see yourself as God sees you, His perfect creation, that you will use your God-given potential to better your life and to become the person He created you to be.
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Meditation:
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Father, I thank You that You have created me in Your image and that You love me just as I am.   Thank you Lord that I never have to be anyone other than the unique person Uou created me to be.  Thank You for Your presence in my life, Lord.  Help me to see myself as You see me and with Your help, may I become that person.  In Your holy name.  Amen.

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Stories to Touch the Heart and Warm the Soul:
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A small child walked daily to and from school.  Though the weather one morning was questionable and clouds were forming, the child made the daily walk to the elementary school.  As the day progressed, the wind whipped up, along with thunder and lightning. 
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The mother was worried that her child would be frightened walking back home from school, and she herself feared the electrical storm might harm her child.  Following the roar of the thunder, lightning would cut through the sky like a flaming sword.  Being concerned, the mother got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school.  Soon she saw her small child walking along, but with each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up and smile.  One following another, each time her child stopping, looking at the streak of light and smiling.
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Finally the mother called and asked, "What are you doing?"  Her child answered, "God keeps taking pictures of me."