Free Shipping. Click to learn more.

FREE SHIPPING — all orders over $50!
  • $5 Music

User Archives: Karen Ehman

  • Answer Envy

    Posted on May 17, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

    Do you ever envy God's answers to someone else's prayers?

    I recall the twinges of pain that shot through my heart each time I would open my mailbox discovering yet another baby shower invitation. As a young bride longing to become a mother, the joy of my positive pregnancy test was shattered a few months later when I suffered a miscarriage. And, although I was genuinely thrilled for my friends who were pregnant, I was also heartbroken that it wasn't my name on those pale pink or baby blue invites.

    I call this answer envy. It is that "poor me" mentality that creeps into my heart when God answers someone else's prayers more quickly than mine. Or when His answer seems to be a "no," or at least a "not right now."

    I've had my fair share of answer envy outbreaks over the years, at all stages of life.

    As a child, I was envious of the kids who came from two-parent homes while I resided in a family torn apart by divorce. No matter how hard I folded my little hands and prayed to God, my daddy didn't come back to us.

    In high school, it was other girls' good looks, cute clothes or even cuter boyfriends that I longed for. Instead, I was granted average looks and wore hand-me-down fashions. And, as sports editor of our school paper, although I was every guy's pal, I was usually nobody's gal.

    In college, I envied those whose prayers for a knight in shining armor (complete with a diamond ring) were answered while I remained single.

    My heart was filled with questions. God, why did my daddy leave? Where's my knight? Why don't I have a baby to hold? When will it be my turn?

    Over the years I've discovered the cure for answer envy isn't always easy. Rather than stay stuck in disappointment, I must play an active role in my healing.

    What I need is a shift in perspective. When I call out to God with my questions as encouraged in Jeremiah 33:3, I must trust He will keep His word. He will tell me "great and unsearchable things" that I do not know. Sometimes those things He provides are the answers to my request. However, do you know what those great and unsearchable things more often are? They are the reasons He seems not to be answering my original request!

    While God is generous to answer my requests, I also need to ask myself some questions. Questions like, "What is my Creator trying to teach me that I might never learn if He were to suddenly pluck me out of this situation?" Or, "What character qualities is He trying to grow in me? Patience, trust, compassion, contentment?"

    Not available in quick microwave form, the cure for answer envy has to be cultivated moment by moment.

    We must believe that God will answer. He will clearly say "yes," "no," or "not right now." He is able, ready and willing to answer our prayers—here is the catch—as He sees fit and to grow us to be more like His Son in the process.

    Sometimes we'll have a long stay in God's waiting room. Having been there myself, I now know this to be true: I must not merely seek the answer to my prayer. Instead, I must seek a deeper relationship with the answer Giver.

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your perfect plans ... Your perfect timing ... and the perfect way Your development happens in my times of waiting. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    If you have trouble trusting God's timing and try to "fix things" yourself instead, check out Karen's latest book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.

    Follow us on Facebook.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think back on a prayer request or two from your past where God seemed not to be answering. What else did you learn about Him as you waited for His reply?

    List out personal prayer requests you currently have. As you continue walking through life in the next few months, next to your requests, chronicle all of the peripheral blessings that come from the waiting.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 38:15, " But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer." (ESV)

    Romans 8:25, "But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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



    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Jeremiah

  • The Micromanaging Mama

    Posted on May 6, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Don't let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9 (HCSB)

    I couldn't think of anything more exciting than going to Sylvia's house for the afternoon. She had fancy clothes and the neighborhood's only built-in swimming pool. But best of all?

    Sylvia had one amazing dollhouse.

    There were bedroom sets with dressers, cloth curtains in the windows, and colorful spreads on the beds. There was a living room set with a tiny television and a kitchen with real-looking appliances in the trendy shade of turquoise.

    To top it all off, it came with a family - pliable, lifelike miniature human beings who smiled no matter how I posed them. There was even a trusty canine I named Scrappy.

    I could arrange the furniture any way I desired. The petite pots and pans were just the way I liked on the stove to simmer. The baby woke up from her nap just when I wanted. The family members entered and exited on my cue. No object missed a single prompt in the scenarios that played out at the ends of my chubby little fingertips.

    However, my perfect little world was easily shattered. Sometimes, when I had to go home to eat dinner, Sylvia wanted to play with her own toys. Later I'd return to find the house rearranged by someone who was not going along with my program.

    I never liked when someone messed with my plan. In fact, it made me angry.

    Today my days still revolve around a house. The furniture is bigger. The dishes and rugs are real. The people are too. And I still don't like anyone messing with my plan.

    Messing with my plan often looks like this: abandoned dirty dishes, shoes scattered haphazardly, newly washed windows dotted with sticky fingerprints, mud tracked floors, crumbs trailed, trash not taken out as asked, homework undone, pokey kids making the family late for church. Again.

    And sadly, messing with my plan can also find me behaving like this: sharp words strategically hurled, a caustic demeanor meant to snap my family to attention, or a "martyr mom" pose I suddenly strike to convey my "I-do-so-much-for-all-of-you-people-and-what-thanks-do-I-get?" message.

    At times like this, as today's key verse from Ecclesiastes 7:9 states, my spirit rushes to anger. When anger takes the lead, I can go from mild-mannered mother to micromanaging mama in three seconds flat to try and make my family "get with the program—and PRONTO!"

    Rushing to anger in an attempt to micromanage can lead to hurt feelings, crumpled spirits and fractured relationships in need of repair. Of course we should expect our children to do as they are asked, to perform their chores or remember their school responsibilities.

    But, when they don't—because they are kids and like us, not perfect—how will we chose to behave? Do we choose to be like Jesus who would respond appropriately and with self-control or like a wild woman who somehow thinks yelling is effective although it has never, ever worked in the past.

    Will you join me in a challenge to pause before pouncing? To not rush to anger and instead rush to Jesus' side? It is there we can allow Jesus to temper our tempers and filter our words so we can behave in a way that honors Him—and our family members too.

    Dear Lord, teach me to rush to You instead of rushing to anger. I want others to clearly see You reflected in my actions and reactions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For a more in-depth study of the topic of this devotion, check out Karen's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think back to a time when you rushed to anger over the condition of your home or the behavior of a family member. What happened?

    How could the situation have been different if you'd rushed to Jesus' side instead, seeking His wisdom and self-restraint?

    Power Verses:
    James 1:19-20, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Ecclesiastes

  • The Boomerang of Blessing

    Posted on April 15, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." Proverbs11:25 (NLT)

    I tried my best to smile for the camera in the grocery store. Tears welled up in my eyes and cascaded down my cheeks, dragging my mascara along for the ride. I had one toddler on my hip and a baby on the way, a pressing concern when our only income was from my husband who was paid straight commission. Some weeks he earned money; others brought no paycheck at all.

    That day in the store, my budget was so tight my dollars squeaked! As a result, I had to remove a few items from the conveyer belt as I watched the total mount. As I paid for my order, the cashier handed me a scratch-off card from the store's current promotion. Customers could get money off of their order by matching dollar amounts revealed on the card.

    I used a dime to rub away the shiny silver coating, revealing a $10 match! Smiling, I handed the clerk the card and asked for the "can't afford them" items back. "Sure!" she replied. "Now, do you want to use the remainder of your prize today or on another trip?"

    My puzzled look must have clued her in. "What?" I questioned. She then showed me I'd actually won $100! A manager quickly snapped my picture to display alongside the other smiling winners on the store's wall. Only in my photo, my smile was saturated with grateful mascara-smudged tears.

    During those lean days God always took care of us, often through generous people in our lives: groceries left anonymously on our porch, cash in an envelope tucked under our windshield after church, and hand-me-down clothes from an acquaintance who wanted to share her children's outgrown clothes.

    We learned to live frugally during that time, and yet God also challenged us to give. As we did, we found ourselves blessed. Sometimes monetarily. Always spiritually.

    Nowadays, although at times our family experiences layoffs due to the nature of my husband's employment, we are in a place where we can more consistently be the "bless-er" and not just the ones being blessed. What a thrill it is to treat, secretly pay, or stealthily provide as we ourselves become spiritually blessed and ultimately God—the giver of all things—is glorified. As Proverbs 11:25 states, "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed" (NLT).

    Will you willingly contribute to God's work and also to others, refreshing them as God also refreshes you? What we have—both our money and possessions—all belongs to God. When we give, we receive. The boomerang of blessing comes right back around.

    How might you seek to display generosity toward someone today? You just might make their day. Or perhaps, even make their mascara run.

    Dear Lord, teach me to treat all I have as Yours. May I give willingly and cheerfully as I seek to be a blessing to those in my life who might need a helping hand. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    If you want to learn to increase your faith and trust in God, check out Karen's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Name a time when you were blessed by someone's generosity, whether in person or anonymously. How did it make you feel to be the recipient of their kindness?

    Do you know someone who is currently in financial need? Bless them this week with either money or needed items.

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver." (HCSB)

    Matthew 6:3-4, "But when you give to the poor, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Junk Closet Heart

    Posted on April 5, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults." Psalm 19:12 (HCSB)

    Our basement furnace room is not a pretty sight right now. This out-of-the-way space is a catch-all place for off-season items and assorted memorabilia. To combat clutter and keep objects organized, we've purchased shelves and large plastic totes over the years to neatly house our family's stuff.

    In my perfect plan, bins are labeled, shelves are stocked tidily with homemade canned goods, and holiday decorations nestle themselves neatly in our oh-so-organized furnace storage room. And truthfully, this is how it usually goes. Well, 82% percent of the time.

    However, when we are not intentional to actually walk into the room and place items in the proper bin or situate them on their assigned shelf, we tend to revert to the open, drop, and shut method of organization: open the door, drop the item just inside the room, and shut the door tightly so that the accumulating pile of clutter is not visible from the adjacent family rec room.

    The result is an unattractive pile of stuff that slowly grows and messes with my plan of an orderly storage room. When this occurs, I have to stop what I'm doing and carve out time to sort and situate the items back to their proper place.

    At times my heart can become a catch-all for clutter and junk too. It is not my intent to have a messed-up heart that harbors incorrect attitudes or contaminated thoughts that eventually might lead to wrong actions or even unconfessed sin. However, when I am not intentional to put those thoughts and feelings in their proper place—under the authority of Christ—they can soon breed a bunch of unwanted and sinful "stuff" in my spirit that messes with God's plan for me to behave like His Son. And although the outside world may not see it, behind the door of my heart I know the junk pile is there.

    For believers to keep this spiritual clutter at bay, we must make a regular habit of asking God to show us if we are collecting such unwanted attitudes, thoughts and issues.

    Are we harboring anger, bitterness, envy or ill-will? Have we accumulated spiritual laziness or a love for something that is greater than our love for God?

    Without putting these away soon by confessing them to God, we might end up with an unintentional pile of spiritual junk that often can lead to sins we never set out to commit. Hidden anger in our heart toward another becomes harshly hurled words. Secret envy morphs into gossip. Behind-the-scenes bitterness begets public bad behavior.

    Let's make today's key verse our heart-cleaning plea, "Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults." God is the Master de-clutterer who alone can help us deal with the messes we might make.

    Let's allow Him to clean out the clutter of our hearts and make our spirits whole again. This is spiritual pile-busting at its very best.

    Dear Lord, teach me to bring any unconfessed sins to You early so they do not pile up making a mess of my heart. I want to daily be more like Your Son. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

     

    Reflect and Respond:
    Name a time in your life when you allowed unhealthy thoughts and attitudes to pile up in your heart. What happened? How did it affect not only you but also others?

    Spend some time alone with God asking Him to show you if you have any unintentional sins or hidden faults that need to be surrendered to Him. Write out what He shows you. Then, one by one, confess them to Him asking Him to clean them away and make your heart new.

    Power Verses:
    1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (HCSB)

    Psalm 66:17-19 "I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

  • Following from Afar

    Posted on March 19, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the high priest's courtyard. He was sitting with the temple police, warming himself by the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they could find none." Mark 14:54-55 (HCSB)

    At the back of the little country church, I clumsily thumbed through the pages of the worn pew Bible. It was Easter week and I was a senior in high school. I had given my life to Jesus just over a year prior at a youth campfire gathering and was still uncertain about the location of certain verses.

    That Good Friday, I was at a drop-in service. This wasn't a traditional service at an appointed time with a message and singing. People could stop by the church at any time to individually and quietly work their way through a devotional reading and accompanying verses.

    It was during that time of reflection that I met the Apostle Peter in the words of Scripture. Peter, who later became a bold witness for Christ, was not so valiant at the time of Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion. Although Peter claimed that even if everyone else ditched Jesus, he would remain faithful, Jesus knew the truth. The truth was that Peter would deny Christ not once, but three times in one night.

    Before Peter's denials came, something else came: a widening space between Peter and Jesus. Although Peter was a close companion of His, when Christ was suddenly arrested, Peter stopped his "right-beside-ya" stroll. Today's key verse from Mark 14:54-55 clearly states where he stood, "Peter followed Him at a distance" (HCSB).

    My teenage heart broke as those words stung my soul. They cut a bit too close. As a new believer I'd eagerly told others about Jesus. However, when I saw that my new-found faith wasn't so readily accepted by certain friends at school, I'd backed off from associating myself so publicly with Jesus. Like Peter, I was following at a distance.

    The remedy to my problem lay squarely in my hands. It was so obvious I almost missed it. The Bible.

    To walk closely with Jesus we have to walk ourselves daily through God's Word. Tethering our hearts to Scripture helps grow our friendship with Jesus. As a result, He becomes more important to us than others or their opinions of us. The more we learn about God's character, the more we fall in love with Him and the less likely we'll be to turn from Him when the crowds tempt to sway us. Or when fear of judgment or persecution comes.

    Have you been following Jesus at a distance? Walking far enough behind that you can still see Him but others don't see you right next to Him? Grab a Bible. Crack it. Get into God's Word and get His Word into you. No more lagging behind. Let's walk right beside the Lord, unashamedly, and allow others to see our desire to be near Jesus in hopes they will long to get to know Him too.

    Dear Lord, help me to follow through with my intentions of immersing myself in Your Word and then walking close with You day-by-day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unpack Scripture with us on a deeper level! Our team has compiled 366 of our devotions in the new Proverbs 31 Ministries' NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women.

    If you want to learn to walk more closely with Jesus, check out Karen's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Was there a time in your life when you felt you walked so closely with Jesus that others readily associated you with Him? When was it? Describe your relationship with Him.

    If over the years you feel that you have started following more from a distance, what factors do you feel contributed to this?

    What is one action step you can take to start to walk more closely to the Lord when it comes to reading, studying or memorizing the Bible? Write it out. Now, whose help can you enlist to enable you to follow through with that commitment?

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 16:24, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.'" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Mark

  • Wait Training 101

    Posted on February 22, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "... but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

    Ever feel like God signed you up for an intense "wait training" class?

    You pray. You ask. You anticipate God's answer, but like an Internet page taking a long time to load, you must wait.

    And wait.

    And wait some more.

    I had to wait years before I became pregnant. During that time I attended baby showers while choking back tears.

    I had to wait nearly three years for our too-expensive-for-our-new-financial-situation home to sell. During that time, I pinched pennies and lost sleep.

    And I'm still waiting on many prayer requests: for a spiritually lost loved one, a family friend in ICU, a plan for my high school son's future. Waiting, waiting, waiting ...

    But just as physical weight training builds strength, so does spiritual "wait training." We are promised this in Isaiah 40:31:

    "... but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

    How can waiting renew our strength? After all, doesn't waiting seem to sap our strength as we worry and fret and drum our fingers impatiently? It's exhausting playing the "What if?" game in our minds:

    What if this doesn't work out?
    What if God's answer is "No"?
    What if the thing I fear the most actually happens ... what then?

    All of this worry-laden waiting drains rather than strengthens. How can we turn this around and actually find ourselves renewed?

    I have found that to shift my perspective in the waiting times replenishes my strength. I try not to think of those times of seemingly silence from God as waiting in the sense of sitting and anxiously anticipating a response. But as in waiting like a butler, maid or restaurant server.

    Those who "wait on the Lord"—as in serve Him, cater to Him, help Him accomplish His work; those who take His order and bring Him what He wants—they are the ones who renew their strength.

    They mount up with wings as eagles.

    They walk and do not faint.

    As we serve, we become more aware of what the One we are waiting on desires. We become alert, attentive, and in tune with His wishes. We begin to take our eyes off of our problems and fix them on the Lord instead. As we do, we get a glimpse into His heart.

    Then, instead of the wait sapping our spiritual strength, it is renewed as we seek to do the Lord's will ... to make Him famous ... to give Him glory. Even in those long, hard times of waiting for an answer, we continue to serve Him.

    Will you sign up with me for Wait Training 101?

    You'll grow stronger spiritual muscles if you do. But we must commit to this perspective: we won't just "wait on the Lord," we'll wait on Him. Trust me, the tips He leaves are out of this world!

    Dear Lord, teach me to shift my perspective during those times of waiting and doubt. May I stop fretting and worrying, and busy myself serving You instead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you want to learn to stop trying to make things happen and trust God instead, check out Karen Ehman's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Name a time in your life when you had to wait on God for an answer. Rate yourself from 1 to 10 on how you did in the waiting (10 is patiently worshipping and 1 is freaking out).

    Now, think of something you are currently waiting on God for an answer. Write down two or three new actions you will take to "wait" on the Lord.

    Memorize either today's key verse, Isaiah 40:31, or one of the power verses below. During the times you are tempted to fuss and fret, quote the verses to yourself.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 40:1, "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry." (ESV)

    Psalm 100:1-3, "Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Isaiah

  • The Joneses are Overrated

    Posted on February 4, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13 (HCSB)

    Psst ... I have a little secret.

    The Joneses are overrated.

    Oh, I know we'd never think that from the way the Joneses appear, but they are not all they're cracked up to be.

    In my mom's day, you only saw the Joneses a few times a week. Maybe you bumped into them on your way into church or perhaps at the PTA meeting. You know, as you were getting into your dented and faded grey mini van while they were piling happily into their new spit-shined Chevrolet.

    What a difference a decade (or two) makes! The Joneses now perpetually parade in front of our eyes nearly 24 hours a day. Where?

    On our computer news feeds. And smart phones. On Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. The "look at me!" Joneses and all their profile-picture-perfect lives. It can tempt us to become jealous and discontent.

    One day an online friend posted: "Fettuccini Alfredo, fresh beans from the garden, and my famous raspberry cheesecake. It's what's for dinner!" A second friend's status read: "Who-hoo! Paid off the mortgage. We're now debt-free!" And still another, "Our Jimmy got student of the month!"

    All of this took place while I was ordering pizza (for the second time that week!), piecing together the mortgage money and answering a call from the middle school vice-principal's office where my son sat, busted for an inappropriate prank.

    Yes, the Joneses invade our homes and our thoughts several times a day through social media and the Internet, robbing us of contentment. Why?

    Comparisons.

    Comparisons always deal a deathblow to our contentment. When we see others owning, enjoying, or experiencing what we do not have, but wish we did, it may make us discontent.

    In a letter to the believers in Philippi, the Apostle Paul penned Philippians 4:11-13 which begins "For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."

    The Greek word rendered "content" here denotes more than just a throwing up of arms in reluctant acceptance. At its hub it literally means: "to be satisfied to the point where I am no longer disturbed or disquieted."

    God has already prepared a place of contentment for us when the car breaks down, the bills are hard to meet, and our "Johnny" acts out ... again. We find that place when we take our eyes off of our situation (and off of the screen) and fix them solely upon God.

    When we adopt this attitude, we live out the truth I once heard author Elisabeth Elliot declare: "The difference is Christ in me. Not me in a different set of circumstances."

    To truly embrace our circumstances, we must decide to stop pleading, "God, get me out of here!" and learn to humbly ask instead, "Lord, why have You brought me here? What are You trying to reveal to me that I would never discover if You were to suddenly pluck me out of this situation? What godly character qualities are You trying to grow in me? Patience? Trust? Faith? Compassion?"

    When we cease making comparisons and instead willingly embrace our current lot in life, welcoming all that God will teach us through it, we will finally unearth the secret Paul knew. True contentment is not merely having what you want, it is wanting nothing more than what you already have.

    We can only do this when we stop looking at the Joneses and turn our eyes to Jesus Christ who gives us strength.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for looking around and comparing myself or my circumstances to others. May I look only to You for contentment and peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you want more encouragement on this topic, check out Karen Ehman's new book and DVD curriculum LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.

    Reflect and Respond:
    In what areas of your life do comparisons impact your contentment? Marriage? Children? Finances? Work? Relationships? Looks?

    Pick one of those areas and write out a prayer to God asking Him to shift your perspective from comparing to being content. Post it next to your computer screen or on your bathroom mirror.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 14:30 "A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones." (HCSB)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Philippians

  • Giving, Not Getting

    Posted on December 24, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ..." Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV 1984)

    "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The loudspeaker blared out the joyful lyrics of the familiar holiday song that snowy Christmas Eve afternoon.

    Everywhere I glanced, people were searching for last-minute gift purchases, holiday baking ingredients or that one final string of twinkle lights that would make their Christmas downright Norman Rockwell perfect.

    However, as I stood in line paying for the ingredients for my assigned Cheesy Potato casserole for our family gathering, a lump formed in my throat. Soon my lips quivered and hot tears fell onto my wind-chapped cheeks.

    How can everyone be so happy? Why is the world going on as if nothing happened? My friend Julie died last night leaving behind a husband and eight children who need her. Doesn't anyone care?

    I wanted to scream. And I wanted Christmas to be cancelled that year. There was no holiday cheer in me and I thought the rest of the world should follow suit and just 'humbug' the whole celebration.

    Our family made it through that holiday. My young children, although sad about their friends' mother's death, perked up Christmas morning, eager to open their gifts. My husband and I carried on with our normal life and, over the next few months, tried to help lighten the load of our now widower friend.

    Several in our circle of friends made meals on a weekly basis. A college girl offered to clean their home. One of Julie's sons joined our home school for kindergarten a few days each week. Although we still experienced great heartache knowing our friend wasn't coming back, lightening her husband's load and cheering the children made us feel as if we were fulfilling the mission God had for us.

    Ever since that year, our family has become even more aware of the fact that for many, Christmas isn't the most wonderful time of the year. It is downright painful.

    Loneliness looms. Depressions darken. Even suicides soar. While scores of us delight in the season, drinking the sights, sounds and smells, others are numb from pain and despise the season.

    And so I'm reminded of what a sweet neighbor of mine once told me, "Christmas is an excuse for making someone's life better." She was so right! There are souls waiting to be encouraged and included at the holidays. If only we would cease our own sometimes self-focused hustle and bustle long enough to see!

    After that sad season, we've made it our mission to reach out at the holidays more than we play the commercialized "gimmee game."

    Christmas is not about getting. Its very essence is giving.

    When our family has been intentional about being Jesus' hands and feet at the holidays, He has allowed us to brighten the lives of many. We sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, decorate homes and address Christmas cards for widows, shop for the needy, bake for the brokenhearted, and often include the lonely in our normal Christmas activities as if they were part of our family.

    Because really, they are. Maybe it is your family God wants to set a lonely soul in this year.

    Let's vow this Christmas to make someone's life better, richer in love, and fuller in the comforts of knowing they are noticed and cared for.

    Dear Lord, at this time when You sent Christ to earth, may I too reach out to make someone's life richer, fuller and far less lonely. I want to be Your hands and feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith by Karen Ehman

    Reflect and Respond:
    Gather the family. Solicit responses to the following questions, "Who do you know that might be lonely at Christmas this year? Now, what creative way could we help to combat their loneliness and make them feel loved?"

    List the action steps you will take to make these ideas a reality. Mark the calendar to ensure it happens.

    Has there ever been a holiday season where you felt gloomy or alone? Did anyone do something to make you feel loved and included?

    How can reaching out to the lonely be a reflection of God reaching down from heaven to us on that very first Christmas?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Christmas, Giving

  • An Unhurried Holiday

    Posted on December 10, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." Luke 2:16 (NIV)

    "Hurry up! We're going to be late to the choir concert!"

    "Come on kids. Help me unload these groceries right now. I've got to get these cookies baked before bedtime."

    "Is it 6 a.m. already? I gotta get to that door buster sale as soon as it opens so I don't miss out on the deals!"

    With the holiday season upon us, the music at the mall announces that folks are dreaming of a white Christmas. That may be true. But in reality, many women are dreaming of something else white: a little more white space on our December calendars!

    Pageants. Parties. Shopping trips. Baking days. Wrapping nights. At every turn there are people to see, things to do, stuff to buy. The hustle and bustle of this supposed-to-be-happy season can knock the holly-jolly right out of our holidays and replace it with hurried-up headaches instead.

    As a result, our calendars become overloaded, crowding out the spiritual significance of the season.

    I wonder if the participants in the original Christmas story ever dreamed that the celebration of Christ's birth would become so hassled and hurried. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph too?

    Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? We might think that it was not. But actually, there was hurry present that night. However, it wasn't to the mall or grocery store that people were rushing.

    The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly an ensemble of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16 says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger.

    If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there. Being around a newborn baby makes me speak in a hushed tone and feel such awe as I see new life. In the presence of Jesus I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.

    Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, we could stop; leave our work. We could slow down long enough to hurry in another direction. We could put our activities on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.

    As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy.

    How about it? Will we pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about? The tasks will wait while we do.

    Here's to more "white space" this Christmas; space that creates more room in our days for meeting with Jesus!

    Dear Lord, remind me daily that it's You I should rush to during the holiday hustle. Not things. Not activities. I want to seek and find only You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith by Karen Ehman

    Reflect and Respond:
    What activities and responsibilities threaten to make you rushed and stressed at the holidays?

    Pull away from the holiday hustle and spend time with Jesus.

    Power Verses:
    Luke 2:15, "When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'" (NIV)

    Proverbs 8:17, "I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me." (HCSB)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke, Holiday

  • God Wants His Job Back

    Posted on November 19, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Colossians 3:23 (NLT)

    I have a confession to make: I crave control. You know—as in I like to be in charge; the shot-caller; the boss.

    I'm pretty sure I was born ready to be in charge. As a toddler, I lined my frilly dolls and any willing playmates or siblings up in a way that suited my preferences. In elementary school, I couldn't wait to be selected for special duties, like heading up a game or putting on a play.

    Yes, from birth I instinctively ordered and organized anything within my reach—objects, circumstances, and later in life, even living, breathing human beings. I didn't need a boardroom to prove that I was a natural born boss.

    In my defense (and the defense of my fellow control-craving friends), this is often a much-needed skill. Being able to multi-task, identify duties and delegate is beneficial on many fronts. Just glance at my partial to-do list for the week:

    Prepare meals and snacks for the week
    Make appointments for the eye doctor
    Do a few loads of laundry
    Haul kids back and forth to sports practice
    Help kids with homework

    Whew, I'm worn out just writing that!

    But, it helps to see that we need to be able to juggle a lot: home, school, family, careers, and church duties. The problem lies with our failure to know where to draw the line; to differentiate between leading and bossing; to know the difference between taking charge and taking over.

    Competency carried to an extreme can morph into control.

    I've struggled to find a balance between taking charge and ultimately taking over for most of my life. Colossians 3:23 helps me remember that managing my life and to-do list is ultimately an act of worship and service to the Lord. In it we're told, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." (NLT)

    When I work willingly as though I'm working for the Lord, I set about my tasks and navigate my relationships with a humble heart and open hands. I willingly let go of my preferences and desire to be the one in control.

    When I work willingly as though I'm working for the Lord, I focus more on caring about others' feelings than controlling their opinions and resulting actions.

    When I work willingly as though I'm working for the Lord, I want to please Him, not myself.

    I've discovered there exists a minuscule line between being conscientious and being controlling. What I have to constantly keep in mind is the difference between being conscientious (my part) and being in control (God's part).

    I'll probably always have long to-do lists and lots of activities. It's just the nature of my personality. But I'm trying to remember each day that it is God who is ultimately in charge, not me.

    It's not easy for this control-craving woman to let go and let God run the show. It takes emotional effort and intentional change of my ingrained habits. But I am learning to work diligently without being controlling.

    This week as we set about our tasks, lets remember just who the boss is: God. We are on His time clock. May our thoughts, actions and reactions make our Boss proud and accurately reflect His character.

    Dear Lord, may I purpose to learn the difference between being conscientious and being controlling. Help me remember You are God and I am not. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    If you crave control but want to learn how to let go and trust God more with the everyday details and decisions in your life, check out Karen Ehman's new book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. It will empower and equip you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about your week ahead. What tasks must you perform? How can you go about tackling these in a way that is conscientious but not controlling?

    Power Verse:
    Colossians 1:10 "... walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (ESV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Colossians, Karen Ehman

Items 21 to 30 of 36 total

Helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith
Who doesn't love free shipping!? At Family Christian, you can qualify TWO ways:

1. To your door (just $50 minimum)*

No coupon required! Simply add $50 worth of merchandise to your cart and select the "Free Shipping" option under "Shipping Method." Easy as pie.

* Valid on merchandise totaling $50 or more before taxes. Please keep in mind this is valid on domestic ground shipping to addresses within the U.S. only, not valid toward international delivery. Additional charges apply for express shipping. Terms subject to change without notice.

2. To your store (no minimum order required!)*

At checkout, select "Ship to your local Family Christian store" and enter your zip code to find our closest location. Not sure if there is a Family Christian nearby? Find your local store now.

* Valid on select merchandise only
Loading... Loading...