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Author Archives: Glynnis Whitwer

  • I Don't Want to Miss This Moment


    "Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." Proverbs 14:22 (NIV)

    Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about the wonderful ways you'll celebrate the next special day on the calendar?

    That usually happens for me when I go on Pinterest and see beautiful photos of food, crafts, decorations, and gifts. I imagine myself taking time to create the little extra touches that turn ordinary days into memorable ones. But then I look around me and the reality of an over-crowded life squashes my dreams.

    There have been too many special days that whooshed by me, leaving me with regret and wishing I'd stopped and enjoyed more moments. Too many times I should have paused to do good for someone.

    Increasingly I sense God asking me to be more intentional with my days. Maybe it's because of many years that are a blur now. As I look into the faces of children growing up too quickly, of parents aging, of friends packing to move, I often want time to stop so I can breathe in the holiness of the days God has given.

    Remember this moment, my heart whispers. Remember what this feels like.

    It's too common for me to look back and wish the simple moments had been celebrated more. That there'd been a few more pauses. More times when I'd said "you matter" with my actions.

    Not the big flashy moments. Not the expensive trips. But the humble quiet times that declare what we treasure. Our values. What makes us us. The everyday moments are the ones treasured in the hearts of those we love.

    Some women excel at these special moments. They turn from their computers and whip up an experience that leaves everyone feeling loved. Not me. Although I love special times, I'm not spontaneous.

    How do these moments happen for me? I have to plan for them. Not the moments themselves, but the opportunity for them to happen.

    Proverbs 14:22 shows us the importance of planning: "But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." This verse inspires me to plan good things for those dear to me. And in doing so, we will experience God's love and faithfulness in greater measure. What a great promise from God's Word.

    Christmas is an ideal time for me to put this into practice. If I'm not careful, December can pass me by without any special notice. I might get something done, but it will be obligatory rather than a celebration of Christ's birth and a time to show His love.

    So this month I'm working on a plan. It's not set in stone, but it is a list of things that are important to my family and me.

    For example, my husband wants to cook a special breakfast treat called scrapple, a Pennsylvania Dutch sausage his father made. I'd like to read Advent devotions as a family to ponder the meaning of Christmas. My plan also includes opportunities to spend time as a family and reach out to others.

    So I'll pencil ideas in my spiral notebook, write out shopping lists, and research dates and times to add events and phone calls with friends. Planning to do good takes time, but I've learned when I plan my priorities, they get done.

    This month I'm taking some time to schedule what matters most ‐ time honoring God and remembering His gift, time with those I love, and time sharing God's blessings with others. And in January, I'll start planning again.

    Heavenly Father, You model intentional love. You planned to send Jesus to earth and You planned a way for me to live with You forever. Help me to plan the same intentional love to those I care about. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: What's one thing you want to do this month? Write it on your calendar and to-do list.

    Do you resist planning? Why do you think that is?

    Power Verse: Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • The Sacrifice of Thanks-sharing


    "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13:15-16 (NASB)

    Enough. That's what I have. Really, more than enough.

    More than enough clothes in my closet. Food in my fridge. Shoes spread on the floor. Cans in the cupboard.

    My children have books, warm jackets, tennis shoes, pencils, and opportunities for more. I have clean sheets, soft pillows, a kitchen table, and indoor plumbing.

    My husband and I have never taken our provisions for granted. Every day we are thankful for the blessings of our home and family. Yet eight years ago we were increasingly aware of what Luke 12:48b tells us, "When someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." (NLT) We felt an obligation to do something more with our blessings.

    So in 2005 our family of five put a plan in place to share what we had. We had enough home, enough time, and enough love. Our gratitude to God for His blessings couldn't be kept to ourselves any more. We started with some rearranging. Two of our three sons moved furniture around so they could share a room, Then we bought two little white beds, pink curtains, and some dolls. I bought matching calico comforters and guessed at sizes of dresses.

    After months of planning to share what we had, two little orphaned sisters stepped off a plane gripping the hands of their new daddy and walked into our hearts and homes.

    They wore "African suits" bought from the place of their birth, brightly colored dresses that hung on tiny bodies. So proud they were to own their first new pieces of clothing, wanting to greet their new family in their best. As we wrapped our arms around these little girls, our family of five became seven.

    As weeks turned into months, and typical family issues mingled with trauma from our daughters' pasts, we learned God's call to share isn't always easy. Oh, at first it was great, before the first blush of excitement wore off. But the magnitude of sharing our lives with two wounded little girls was harder than we ever imagined.

    When worry about the future threatened to overwhelm me, God quietly reminded me that He didn't ask me to have the answers. That's His job. My job is just to share what He has given me–my love, my home, my life–with two not-so-little girls now who call me Mama. With a heart of thankfulness, and an open hand of generosity. That's all He's asking me. That's what blesses Him.

    God's Word confirms what pleases Him. Hebrews 13:15-16 teaches us that we must link thanksgiving with sharing. But it also says it will be a sacrifice: "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (NASB)

    As we walk together as a family, we continue to learn that showing thanks to God involves sharing, and sharing involves sacrifice. God still calls us to share out of our abundance, and it still involves sacrifice. But when we share our lives, our homes, our money, our hearts, our skills, and our time as an outpouring of thanksgiving, God is pleased.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for Your generosity with me. I don't deserve Your favor, and my heart overflows with thanksgiving. Help me to show my gratitude through words and actions that are pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: At this season of Thanksgiving, what can you share with someone else?

    Do you struggle with sharing what you have? Consider if God is calling you to a deeper trust in Him as your provider.

    Power Verse: 1 Timothy 6:18, "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • When Nobody Notices Your Work


    "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

    After finishing a big project at work, I was pretty proud of myself. Although most of my part had been behind the scenes, I hoped someone had noticed. The next few days, I checked and rechecked my emails and texts, waiting for an "atta girl" or "well done" message. But none came.

    I wasn't really bothered by the lack of acknowledgment until another person completed one small task as part of my bigger project. Then I was copied in a round of emails where that person was praised effusively.

    While I joined my thanks in the responses, my heart got a little dent in it when my name wasn't mentioned.

    The lack of notice hurt more than it should have. And over the next few weeks, my feelings got hurt with increased intensity each time my work wasn't noticed. Shoes on the floor that I picked up, dirty dishes I washed that weren't mine, the dinner I cooked after a long day. The original hurt was growing.

    When I finally broke down in tears one quiet Friday afternoon, I realized something had gotten mixed up. Somewhere over the past few months, my heart had gotten bent out of shape when I didn't receive praise from others.

    Jesus talked about this very topic in Matthew 6. He specifically taught about our motives when doing good deeds and cut right to the core issue in verse one: "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:1 NIV). Jesus knew our hearts can get twisted. Even the right behaviors can start with wrong motives and end with harmful outcomes.

    In those days, many religious leaders made a big show of their good deeds in order to garner the respect and admiration of others. Jesus called these people "hypocrites" and taught how doing great things, like giving to the poor and praying, can go awry when motives are bent out of shape.

    Rather than leave off with a stern warning, Jesus gave them, and us, instructions on how to do right things in the right way.

    In secret.

    Verse 6 says, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

    Jesus wasn't saying don't ever pray out loud; He was giving the key to break our desperate need for approval. According to Jesus, we receive God's approval when we fly under the radar of others and don't parade our deeds in front of them.

    While working on that big project, my time alone with God had been almost non-existent. I managed to read a few Bible verses before bed and whisper a few prayers during the day. But the truth was, I'd neglected time with God. I'd exchanged His whispers of approval for the inconsistent and unfulfilling applause from people.

    I needed to get alone with God, and quiet my desire for the world's feedback, so I could hear His voice.

    One word from God is worth more than a hundred atta-girls from others.

    The next time disappointment creeps up when I'm overlooked, or I think "Why not me?" ... I'll see it as a little warning. It's my reminder to spend time with God in secret.

    That's where I'll get the only approval my heart really needs.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for seeing what I really need and want. The approval of people never satisfies. Help me to see it as a poor substitute for Your approval – which brings me true joy and meaning. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond: Why is the approval of people often more important than God's esteem of our work?

    What is one thing you can do in secret this week to try and break the addiction to applause from others?

    Power Verse: Romans 8:5, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • My Super-Sized Reactions are Hurtful


    "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)

    My teenage son took an extended mission trip this summer with a friend. It was the longest we'd been apart. By the time he returned home, my mama's heart was looking forward to spending time alone with him.

    I envisioned it all-he would have missed me and be overflowing with stories. We'd lounge on the couch, talking and laughing, going through his photographs.

    The night he returned we planned a welcome-home celebration with the family of his travel friend. Holding plates of chips and salsa, munching on tacos and sipping icy soda, the night was wonderful until I overheard my son making plans to work out the next day ... with the same friend he'd just spent two months with.

    The wise-mama in me, the one who'd worked hard to come to terms with her children wanting to be with their friends more than her sometimes, tried to keep me quiet.

    But the hurt-mama in me ignored that good advice as something prickly started growing in my heart. Trying to appear jovial but still wanting to make my point, I said, "I might not let you out of my sight ... ha, ha, ha." The potentially awkward moment was laughed off. At least I thought it was.

    Later my son kindly asked, "Mom, please don't make a big deal if I want to work out tomorrow, okay?"

    Knowing in my head he was right, I promised, "I won't." I gave him a tight squeeze before he headed to bed exhausted.

    Collapsing in a chair, weary from an emotionally tiring day, I should have been overflowing with gratefulness. However, the prickly response I'd felt earlier started to grow again.

    Based on one comment about working out, I started to build a case. Well, if he'd rather be with his friend, then I'll let him. I won't say anything. In fact, he can just go spend the entire day with his friend. I'm not going to ask him to spend any time with me, that's just what I'll do!

    Staring across the room, tears banked like an infinity pool, threatening to overflow. Hurt and indignation swirled for a few moments.

    Thankfully the wise-mama didn't completely abandon me. Before my wayward thoughts could go further, I recognized the need to get to the bottom of my super-sized response. For heavens sake, my son only wanted to work out. Why was I acting so out of sorts?

    Digging into my thoughts and emotions, I realized I was hurt because my son hadn't met my expectations for how his return would be. The simple truth was he hadn't worked out in two months. It had nothing to do with his feelings for me-yet my reaction selfishly made it about me.

    Then clear as could be, I "heard" God speak to my heart: Can you love someone who doesn't meet all your expectations?

    Pondering this question, I had to acknowledge the many times I don't meet the expectations of others. I'd certainly let God down many times, and I hadn't met my son's expectations that day either. So why was I expecting him to meet mine?

    My unfair expectations led me to an unfair interpretation of his motives, which led me to a potentially hurtful reaction. My desire was to love my son; my super-sized reaction would have sent an entirely different message.

    Proverbs 17:9 say, "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." The only offense that day was made up in my mind. Yet the truth of this verse applied.

    The next day ushered in a fresh chance to react in a loving way. Having set aside unrealistic expectations, I was able to enjoy time with my son. And he was able to work out with his friend and come home to a much more gracious mama.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of the fact that I'm not perfect. You continually see the best in me. Help me to see the best in others and stop super-sizing my reactions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Do your feelings get hurt often by others? Dig into your thoughts and emotions to determine why.

    Can you love those who don't meet all your expectations?

    Power Verses: Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)

    1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • "Harmless" Little Lies?


    "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." (Luke 16:10 NIV)

    My job was overwhelming, yet I was desperate to appear competent. As a young college graduate, I was grateful for the position. But over time, both the company and my work level grew to the point where I was drowning. And, as I fell further behind, I began to give misleading responses to my boss.

    My employer was very hands-on and often called me into her office for an update on my projects. I dreaded those meetings, knowing she'd be displeased with my lack of progress. And that is when the lies started: "Yes, that project is coming along nicely." "I'm almost finished." "Just waiting for a few more pieces of information."

    After our meetings, I'd rush back to my desk and frantically try to make my progress match the inaccurate response I'd just given. Over time, the lies and truth became jumbled. I'd crossed a line of personal integrity that nagged at the edges of my conscience, but not enough to make a change. Until one day my boss gave me another request: to lie for her.

    She hadn't gotten something done, and asked me to lie to someone else. This wasn't right. She hadn't even started the project. And now I was supposed to cover for her? It was as if God made me do a 180 and stare at the line of integrity I had already crossed.

    I'd compromised my character one half-truth, one excuse, one rationalization at a time. But no more. I had some decisions to make. Would integrity be a mask I put on at church and took off at work? Was my career more important than my character?

    Those were heavy questions for a young woman. But they were necessary. God used this situation to help shape the person He wanted me to be.

    Knowing I could lose my job, with humility and respect I told my boss I couldn't, no I wouldn't, lie for her. Amazingly, she didn't fire me. With a huff and a sigh, she accepted my decision.

    While I wasn't up to confessing all my lies to her, I did confess them to God. And I made a commitment that day to honesty, no matter how personally difficult it was.

    God cares about what may seem like harmless little lies: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" (Luke 16:10).

    God was watching me then, and He's watching me now. Which is why every word I speak is important. Choosing truth is hard, especially when it reveals a weakness. Yet with God's help, I'm making progress to become the woman of integrity He's called me to be.

    Dear Lord, You are the source of all truth. Forgive me for the times I've been deceptive in order to manipulate the opinions of others. I want to be a woman who is filled with Your truth. Help me to uncover whatever stands in the way of becoming that woman. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember Choosing to live without a shadow of dishonesty will establish you as a trustworthy woman before God and others.

    Reflect Is there an area of your life where you are less than 100 percent honest? If so, confess that to God in prayer. What little decisions of integrity can you make to help strengthen your character?

    Respond Keep a pad of paper and pen with you today and make a tick-mark every time you are not 100 percent honest. Confess these instances to the Lord at the end of the day, and ask Him to use this exercise as a reminder to always strive to speak the truth (in love).

    Power Verses 2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Peter 2:12

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Words that Linger


    "Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD ..." Psalm 102:18 (NIV)

    "Well, you get what you pay for!" I muttered under my breath, frustrated as I held the broken weed eater. Were these things supposed to be disposable? Or was my family particularly hard on garden equipment?

    Stomping to the garbage can, I shoved the rickety weed eater in with force. I brushed stray blades of grass from my hands and strode back to the house, thoroughly annoyed with my frugal habits that caused me to "save money" by buying the cheapest model. Again.

    Later that day, I stood in the lawn and garden store, shopping for a replacement. Normally I pick the least expensive one, but obviously that approach wasn't working. Could higher priced weed eaters really be that much better? Deciding to give it a shot, I selected a mid-range model that has now survived my lawn, and my teenagers, for over a year.

    Thankfully, someone, somewhere built a weed eater that lasts longer than a few months. There had to have been intentionality in the design, higher quality of parts and more attention to detail during the assembly for this to happen. The care put into the building of my new weed eater has made a difference.

    Isn't this true of many things in our lives? When a carpenter builds a cabinet to last, it is built with quality woods and hardware. When a seamstress makes a dress to pass down to her daughter, her stitches are tighter and straighter. The same is true with words.

    Words crafted to last are chosen with care.

    The Bible demonstrates this statement. Whether spoken to hearts, etched in a tablet or recorded on a scroll, God made sure His words were written to be passed from one generation to the next. His Words were penned to change lives—the lives of the people who walked through the water, those who tried to walk on it, and ours! Psalm 102:18 evidences this truth: "Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD ..."

    Words written for a future generation are chosen and assembled differently. They are selected intentionally, pondered over and placed in just the right order. This isn't the sticky note reminder you jot down quickly, ready to toss when the task is done. However, some life-changing words have been written on the backs of envelopes or scribbled on napkins. The medium doesn't matter—the care given does.

    This verse in Psalm 102 speaks directly to me. My written words matter. Whether it's a letter composed to a loved one, a note in a lunch box, an email to my co-workers or a book, I can write the first words that come to mind, or I can consider them carefully. My words can have lasting impact for those I love.

    A few weeks ago I opened my lingerie drawer (the perfect hiding place where children won't look) and withdrew a wrinkled envelope. Sitting on the edge of my bed, I lifted the flap and withdrew a folded letter. Smoothing it out, I saw my husband's teenage sprawl covering the page. I read the words, smiled and refolded the letter. Placing it in the envelope again, I tucked it back under silky things. For now, I keep this letter close to my heart. But one day I'll share it with our children as a record of their parents' bond.

    Because words written to last matter.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for making sure Your words were written carefully for me. They are a lifeline in hard times and help me know and love You more. Help me to give more care to my words, In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond: What writing has impacted you most in your life?

    Write a note of encouragement to someone this week.

    Power Verses: Jeremiah 30:1-2, "This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: "Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you."'" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Your Easiest Day is Always Tomorrow


    "The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied." Proverbs 13:4 (NRSV)

    Numbers intimidate me. So I put off doing anything that involves counting more digits than are on my hands and feet combined. This approach tends to have significant consequences, especially when those numbers are connected to dollars. Hence a few bounced check charges in my banking history.

    Avoiding uncomfortable (but necessary) parts of life is a dangerous habit to develop. With very few exceptions, problems don't resolve on their own, no matter how long we procrastinate in fixing them. A leaky faucet never stops leaking by itself. A root of bitterness toward my husband will grow. The squeal in my car brakes will get louder. And putting off medical tests is never a good idea.

    I've also delayed pursuing dreams because there's discomfort involved. Maybe you've done this too. Your dream could be to write a book, take a vacation or find a new job. But you know it will involve sacrifice, so you put your dream on the back burner while time slips away.

    Sometimes God tells me to wait while He initiates a solution, but usually, the reason for my delay tactics is my own fear of the work, or the possibility of failure, or the inconvenience and self-sacrifice it will take.

    A few years ago I read a book by Josh Riebock that helped give me perspective when I want to postpone a difficult assignment. In it, he says, "Everyone can change tomorrow. Everyone solves problems tomorrow. But the only changes that matter are the ones I make today. Tomorrow is the easiest day I'll ever live. Today is the scary one, which is probably why I've spent so much time avoiding it."

    Scripture also offers wisdom about dealing with procrastination. Proverbs 13:4 uses some challenging words, but it also includes hope: "The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied" (NRSV). This verse gets to the heart of the matter, which is my hunger. While I bristle at being called lazy, the reality is when I procrastinate, I am hungering for comfort or safety. I might be busy, but I'm never accomplishing anything when my goal is ease.

    It's easy to know I shouldn't procrastinate, but it's much harder to do something about it. That's because my reasons are mixed. Sometimes I am afraid like Riebock says, and sometimes I am lazy like the Bible says. Other times I'm overwhelmed and can't think straight.

    Whatever the cause of my procrastination, I've found some approaches that help combat my reticence to tackle an assignment. And it starts with something easy:

    I present my concerns to God with honesty. I tell God why I don't want to do something and ask for His help, strength, wisdom and courage. When I'm honest about my hesitations, God can start to build up my weak places. But then I get practical.

    I keep my to-do list short and manageable. Long to-do lists discourage me from doing anything. That's why I keep two lists going at all times: A master list of projects and a to-do list for the day or week.

    I divide big tasks into smaller tasks. For example, I needed a better filing system for organizing receipts for taxes. So the next time I went to the office product store, I purchased hanging files and a desktop organizer and moved that project forward.

    I assign small tasks to a specific day. Instead of doing a lot of things I don't like on one day, I'll spread them throughout the week.

    Whether it's numbers or words that intimidate you. A relationship that needs to be addressed, or a dream that needs to be followed. There is nothing we have to handle alone or in our own power. The truth is God has already gone ahead of us into these scary places. He knows the future and He's already got it under control.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for going ahead of me when I want to hold back. Help me to deal honestly with my reasons for procrastinating and allow You to work in my heart and life. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:

    Reflect and Respond: Consider one project or task you've delayed starting. What are some of the real reasons?

    Power Verses: Proverbs 31:17-18, "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night." (NIV)

    James 4:17, "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Running on Empty


    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    People often ask me, "How do you handle it all?"

    Depending on the situation, I answer in a variety of ways:

    1. I'm wired this way. And that's partly true. I have a God-wired ability to stay focused in the midst of chaos ... most of the time. I'm more left-brained than my husband, and he's an engineer!
    2. I stay organized ... most of the time. Usually, I can find what I need when I need it. Usually, I prepare in advance. There are times when life gets the best of me, and someone wears the same socks two days in a row. But systems and schedules help me stay on top of responsibilities.
    3. My kids are older. We still have issues that derail my best-laid plans, but they're different than when my kids were toddlers and one tried to use my car keys to unlock the back gate, dropping them in the alley by accident. That threw me into a meltdown of monumental proportions.

    But when people ask "How do you handle it all?" it's usually when I've shared something that has changed my life more than anything else. An act of obedience my family made eight years ago has pushed me to the edge of myself, made me question who I am and question God about His choice of me for this assignment. But it's also made me cling to Him with more desperation than ever before. What is it?

    Adopting two little girls from Africa.

    I haven't written much about these challenges due to respecting my family's privacy. And I also don't want to discourage adoptive parents with how hard our journey has been. It's one of the most important things I've ever done. But also the most costly.

    In 2005 we adopted two girls, ages 8 and 10, from war-torn Liberia. We knew nothing about their background, other than it contained deprivation even other poor countries don't experience. No running water, no electricity, no school, no exposure to books or even television. Just basic existence for years.

    Welcoming these little girls into our family at first seemed easy. They responded well to our love. They thrived with good food and education. But very soon we realized challenges. And then very sad truths about what happened in Africa started being uncovered.

    One daughter has cognitive challenges that will impact her ability to live independently the rest of her life, and ours. With the other we faced behavioral challenges-significant issues based on an early history of neglect and abuse.

    Sometimes there are Hallmark-channel-endings, but that's not our story. We live every day with our daughters' wounds and challenges. And these hardships have deeply affected me and my husband. They have affected our three biological children.

    Here's what I've discovered: all my God-wired ability to think through chaos, all my attempts at organization and having older kids didn't prepare me for this.

    But God's strength did.

    So how do I manage it all? Every day I turn to God and rely on what 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches me ...

    I don't have it in me to do this one more day, I need Your strength.

    I don't have the patience in me for this … I need Your patience.

    I can't think straight right now ... I need Your clarity.

    I'm not even sure I have love in me right now ... I need Your love.

    And I get my portion for that day. I get just enough strength, patience, and clarity to make it through. And a new definition of love that's stronger and tougher and more determined than I have ever experienced.

    I wish I could write more about my family's story, and maybe someday I will. But for now, it's brought me to my knees; it's made me more humble; it's made me less judgmental, and it's made me depend on God more than ever.

    God's strength is enough. But I had to get to the end of mine to learn that.

    Heavenly Father, although I didn't know I'd be facing my current challenges, You did. Thank You for offering to step in the gap between my needs and my insufficient reservoir of strength with Your peace, wisdom, strength and love. Help me to lean on You when I feel like things are falling apart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

    The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.

    Reflect and Respond: The way to truly experience God's power is to get to the end of yours. What are you facing that makes you feel powerless?

    Ask God for one thing you need to make it through today. Then watch for His response.

    Power Verse: John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Why Bother?


    "Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.'" John 6:68-69 (NIV)

    If the following two statements were true, which would cause you the most anxiety?

    1. You have no money.
    2. God is not real.

    When my pastor asked that question during a sermon on finances, my heart did a funny jump. God not real? Just the thought of it made me feel sick. Kind of like when you wake up from one of those eerily-real nightmares and have to convince yourself it was only a dream.

    The sermon continued, but the question haunted me. And I wondered what other people thought. Which statement made them queasy?

    A few days later, I posed the question to a young college student I know. He paused before answering, then said: "If the second were true, it would make my life a lot easier."

    His honesty touched me deeply. But my heart hurt over the reality of his world. My young friend was raised a Christian, and I knew it was hard for him to hold to his beliefs with so many temptations facing him. I wondered how many times he came close to giving up his faith. Did he ever think, Why bother?

    Oh, how I longed to tell him all the reasons why Jesus was worth everything he had to give up. But it wasn't the right time. In that honest moment, it was right to let him know I understood the hardship of following Jesus. I'd been where he was.

    Days later that conversation continued to challenge me. My young friend's faith was defined by rules he had to obey. And I wondered if I had represented Jesus to him in that way. Did people watching my life see Christianity as a list of don'ts, can'ts and won'ts? Did they not see the joy? The thought of it made me want to change. Immediately.

    My desire is to represent Jesus as compelling, intriguing and appealing. I want God's kindness to shine through me rather than my unkind judgment. After all, that's what drew people to Jesus.

    His compassion, generosity and love caused men and women in the New Testament to willingly walk away from careers, reputations, possessions and power. People gave up everything to gladly and joyfully follow Jesus. In the face of persecution. In spite of hardship. Disregarding their desires for things of this world.

    I came away that day with a commitment. I want to make my life as a Christian so appealing that when people look at me, they see the benefits of following Jesus more than the sacrifices. Oh, there are sacrifices; it would be wrong to portray following Jesus as easy. Following Jesus involves daily choices to set aside my natural self-focused inclinations (with my money, time and emotions) and put God's requests above my own. But this isn't a guilt-driven faith; it's a grace-filled one. That's how I want to represent my Jesus.

    It hit me that I don't want a why-bother faith. I want to live a what-better faith, which is what the Apostle Peter saw when he evaluated his faith.

    A time came when some people decided it was too hard to follow Jesus. Jesus asked His disciples if they wanted to leave too. Peter boldly answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God."

    In other words, what could be better than following Jesus?

    Many people are watching me, starting with my own family. Perhaps I've spent too many years thinking about the rules rather than the benefits. Perhaps I've portrayed faith that really doesn't require much faith ... and therefore little passion or life-change. Thankfully, it's never too late to change.

    Heavenly Father, please forgive me for portraying life following You as a burden. Help me to live in such a way that the joy of following You far outshines the cost. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst and Hope TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond: When people look at you, what might they think about a life following Jesus? Would it seem joy-filled? Or duty-laden?

    What one thing can you change about your attitude that will make your faith more appealing to others?

    Power Verse: Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Will You Give Me Your Son?


    "And she made a vow, saying 'LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.'" 1 Samuel 1:11 (NIV)

    As my arms wrapped tighter around my son, I squeezed my eyes hoping the hot tears stinging my lids would stop. Forcing a smile I knew he'd want to see, I released him and stepped back on the airport sidewalk.

    Despite my efforts, tears dripped down my cheeks. I grinned and shrugged, unable to speak. Thankfully my son's gentle teasing helped get past the awkwardness of the goodbye. With a final hug, my 19-year-old left for a mission trip to China.

    Having children willing to serve God was my heart's desire before they were born. It was what I've prayed for since they were small. And it is what I have worked toward for years. I just didn't know it was going to stretch my faith so much.

    You see, long ago my husband and I dedicated our children to the Lord, and we raised them to serve God. I was thrilled at my son's decision to go on a mission trip, but the reality of releasing him to God's calling felt like a piece of my heart was being torn away.

    It was so much easier to dedicate my children to God during the three years my husband and I struggled with infertility. Each time I read the story of Hannah and her struggle with infertility in 1 Samuel 2, my heart leapt in hope. Just as she pledged her child to the Lord if He would only give her one, I was willing to do the same.

    It was also easier to dedicate my children to God once we finally had them, while they were wrapped safely in my arms.

    But standing at the airport, there was a fragile part of me that wanted to take back that offer. Fears rose up. My son is so adventurous, what if something happened? What if I never saw him again?

    I tried to put the fears aside, but hours after our final goodbye, I still had a crumpled tissue in my hand. It was then, I heard God speak to my heart. It was unmistakably Him. I'd never ask myself this question: Will you give Me your son?

    By that time my son was on a plane, so the question seemed pointless. But what I wanted to say was this: Well, now that You've asked ... the answer is no, I've changed my mind about all that dedication stuff I said years ago.

    In the weeks since that day, I've often wondered why God would ask that question since He didn't really need my permission. I've come to believe it's because He knows the influence a mother has on her children, even when they're grown. With words spoken or withheld, tone of voice, and emotional and financial support (or lack thereof) a mother can influence her children's obedience to God's call at every age.

    And in my case, God knows my fears have affected my children. Ten years earlier when my oldest son wanted to go on an international mission trip, my fears stopped him. At that time, I thought he was too young and the destination too far. Without my active support, his plans fizzled.

    Over the years, God has helped me overcome that fear time and time again, and eventually that same son went on other mission trips. Every time I've released my tight grip on my children to obey God, my faith has grown. Apparently my faith needed to grow again, hence God's heart check that day: Will you give Me your son?

    Gripping my soggy tissue, I whispered a shaky "yes." Hoping it was good enough, but sensing it wasn't, I answered again, this time with confidence: "Yes! You can have my son!"

    Immediately peace started to grow in my heart as I turned my eyes from my own situation to His plan for my son. Peace and joy continued to grow stronger each day.

    Sometimes I wish I were one of those mothers who never deals with fear. They seem so confident and faith-filled. But I've learned when I give God my weaknesses, His power is displayed and His kingdom is advanced. So in spite of a bit of trembling, and a few tears, I'm going to say yes each time God asks if He can have one of my children.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of my weakness. I want to trust You more and confess the times fear has held me back. Help me to be honest with You and receive Your strength. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond: Fear has the power to stop us from obeying God's calling for ourselves and in how we support others in their calling.

    How has fear affected your obedience?

    Power Verse: Psalm 56:3, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

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“to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27 NIV

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