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User Archives: Lysa TerKeurst

  • Even a Great Husband Makes a Very Poor God

    Posted on May 22, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

    I've often wished I could travel back 21 years ago and give my "young bride self" some advice. But since that's not possible, I love sharing what I've learned with others.

    Not so long ago, I had dinner with a friend in her twenties who would love to be married one day. During our time together, the conversation flowed freely about all sorts of things. Blogs. Writing. Leaving your comfort zone because God said so. You know, girl stuff. And then we moved on to the subject of relationships and marriage.

    I shared with my friend that when I was single, I thought marriage was all about finding the right partner. I thought if you found "the one," you'd be happy, secure and fulfilled.

    I do think it's good to have a list of standards you desire in a spouse. However, it can never be with the expectation that if you find that special someone, he'll right all your wrongs and fill up all your insecurities. The problem with this thinking is the pressure it will eventually put on your spouse.

    To expect another person to make you feel happy, secure and fulfilled will leave you disappointed at best and disillusioned at worst. Even a great husband makes a very poor God.

    Only God Himself can settle those deep heart-needs. Our key verse, Philippians 4:19 reminds us of this, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

    If a husband could meet every need his wife had, we'd have no need for God. Therefore, instead of just focusing on finding the right partner, let God work on your heart to help you become the right partner. The time to start working on becoming a wife is now. Before the white dress, delicate bouquets, unity candle, bacon-wrapped shrimp and reception punch, there is some heart stuff to consider:

    Getting married doesn't instantly make you selfless ... it makes you realize how very selfish you can be at times.

    Getting married doesn't make you feel loved ... it makes you realize love is more of a decision you make than a feeling you feel.

    Getting married doesn't take away loneliness ... it makes you realize true companionship comes not when you demand it, but rather when you give it to another person.

    So, what does marriage give? A beautiful chance to make the choice to ...

    Laugh whether or not the jokes are funny.

    Love by folding his collar over his tie every morning.

    Talk things through by addressing issues rather than attacking him personally.

    Cheer him on through both failures and successes.

    Look for a positive quality in him each day and take the time to tell him.

    Thank God for the privilege of being his wife.

    After our time together, my friend thanked me for our talk. She said it gave her a lot to think about. To be honest, it gave me a lot to think about as well.

    Dear Lord, only You can fill my heart, right my wrongs, and make me feel loved. I pray that You would show me how to keep my expectations of my husband in check. Help me be the wife he desires. And help me remember that marriage was never meant to make me happy all the time. Marriage is a decision to honor You by honoring the one you've entrusted to me to be my husband. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NIV)

    2 Peter 1:3, "Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!" (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    If you aren't married yet, think of some ways God might want to work on your heart before marriage.

    If you are married, think of a way you've tried to get your husband to fill a need only God can meet. Pray and ask God how you can rely on Him for this need instead of your husband.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Philippians

  • Might We Dare to Be a Little More Uncommon

    Posted on May 15, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "The Spirit told Philip, 'Go to that chariot and stay near it.'" Acts 8:29 (NIV)

    I have to admit ... when our guide pulled over to the side of the road at this unmarked, unremarkable looking place, I was underwhelmed. We filed out of the bus with a vague sense we were studying something in the book of Acts.

    There were no signs in this part of the Holy Land.

    No other tourists.

    Our teacher walked to a place covered with brush and pointed to a rocky path. We gingerly made our way behind him and soon came upon a road.

    With great enthusiasm the teacher said, "This road is where a man learned of Christ and received the Good News!" We walked a little farther and:

    "This place of water is where this man was baptized shortly afterward and went away rejoicing. We should rejoice! We should rejoice!"

    And then we opened the Scriptures to Acts 8:26-39, the story of the Ethiopian eunuch.

    Can I admit something to you I'm not very proud of? Even after reading the Scriptures, I wondered why our teacher picked this spot. We had so little time in Israel and wanted to see so much. I felt like there were bigger events that had taken place in much more well-known places. Shouldn't we focus on those?

    Why this place? Why this story?

    And then as quickly as we arrived, our teacher whisked us back on the bus with one final statement, "Individuals matter."

    Those two words have lingered in my thoughts and have honestly made this underwhelming stop one of my favorites to consider.

    Recently, I opened Acts 8 and reread it. Here are three things from this Scripture I want to let have their way with my heart and mind:

    1. Go near.

    Verse 29, "The Spirit told Philip, 'Go to that chariot and stay near it.'"

    This Ethiopian eunuch wasn't like Philip. He wasn't in his inner circle, comfort zone or part of his immediate sphere of influence. And yet, the Spirit instructed Philip to go close.

    God help us. We must break out of the boxes of our normality and dare to go close to those we don't understand. We must not use words like, "those people" with pointed fingers, hard hearts and spiritually superior attitudes.

    By going close, we see things we need to see. We hear things we need to hear. And our hearts become tender in the way we must be tender.

    By going close, we might actually dare to let love guide our approach.

    2. Gain understanding.

    Verse 30a, "Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet."

    He ran. This took effort, energy and intentionality. Next, instead of wielding God's Word like a weapon and haphazardly throwing Truth at this man, Phillip listened.

    Then based on what he heard, Phillip asked this eunuch if he understood what he was reading. Philip discerned a need and sought to meet that need. Philip let the man's agenda come before his own.

    God help us. Instead of running alongside people seeking to understand them, we sometimes have tendencies to run them over with our agendas and perceptions and points of view. We must seek to be discerning, not demanding.

    3. Earn the right to share.

    Verse 31b, "... So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him."

    Once Phillip dared to go near and gain understanding, then he earned the right to share. Verse 35 goes on to reveal that Philip began where this man was and "told him the good news about Jesus."

    God help us. We must go to people. Listen to people. Start where they are, not where we want them to be. And from their point of need, lovingly share the good news about Jesus.

    And might I share one more thing Philip did that I love?

    Philip continued to travel down the road with this man for a bit. Verses 36-39 reveal, "As they traveled along the road, they came to some water ... Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him." And the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.

    Looking back at that seemingly uneventful day in Israel, I'm so thankful our teacher took time to bring us to this place. Remember, there were no signs and there were no tourists.

    This was an uncommon stop in the Holy Land.

    Uncommon.

    Might we all dare to be a little more uncommon, more often.

    Dear Lord, I want to love others like You do. Help me to be a little more uncommon today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 15:7, "So reach out and welcome one another to God's glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!" (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which of the three thoughts Lysa shared today resonates with you the most?

    How might you tangibly show this to someone in your life today?

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Acts

  • Am I a Bad Mom?

    Posted on May 8, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God'..." Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

    Have you ever struggled with letting a circumstance define you? This seems to be a lesson God lets me live over and over again. He wants to be my only definition of who I am.

    I am a child of God, holy and dearly loved.

    I know this. I teach this. I believe this. Yet it is so easy for me to slip into redefining myself when situations arise.

    Several years ago, one of my precious, precious, precious yet just-as-apt-to-sin-as-the-rest-of-us kids was called to the principal's office — on the very day I received an invitation to speak at a national parenting conference.

    With my head I was able to see the situation for what it was: My child is in the process of being shaped. My child is strong, and while this will serve her well later in life, strength in an immature little person begs to be disciplined. She is a sweet child who made a not-so-sweet choice.

    However, in my heart I felt like a failure. I wanted to decline the opportunity to speak and crawl into a hole. A part of me felt as though I'd personally been called to the principal's office, as the voice of condemnation started haunting me: You are a bad mom. You have a bad child. You have a bad home.

    Quietly, I slipped away with Jesus and did what I'd done a hundred times before. I held those condemnations up to the Lord and asked Him to help me see this situation the way He wanted me to see it. Not the way others see it, not the way my heart is tempted to see it, but the way He sees it.

    Matthew 7:24-27 brings some perspective: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (NIV).

    Do you know what amazes me about these verses? Both the person doing right and the person doing wrong experienced hard times. In each case the rains came, the streams rose and the wind blew and beat against the house.

    Just because we're parents living out God's principles for life doesn't mean we won't face difficult circumstances.

    God's Spirit spoke to my heart that day and said, "Let Me invade your natural flesh reaction. Instead of letting your mind run wild with this, sit with Me for a while. Be still, and know that I am God."

    So I sat and prayed. I went from defining myself as a failure of a mom to being a praying mom who can face hardships in a godly way. The frustration diffused as I determined to look at the situation from God's perspective.

    God's truth reassured me. I am not a bad mom. My child is not a bad child. My home is not a bad home.

    This situation is a call to action.

    There is a character issue that needs to be addressed within the heart of my child. And kids are supposed to have character issues that need to be addressed. That's why God gave them parents. That's why God gave me this specific child. God sees within me the ability to be the one He's perfectly designed to raise this child.

    When hard times come and beat against our stability, we must determine to hear God's words and put them into practice. Then nothing can topple our peace, security or true identity.

    I'm not sure who else needed to hear that — but I know I did. So dry your tears, sweet mama. Today is a new day. A day when we will only be defined by God's truth and grace as we navigate this wild wonder called parenthood.

    Dear Lord, help me to be the mom You've called me to be today. I want to honor You in everything I do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 3:20, "If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write down a condemning thought you have often. Spend some time with God praying against this thought. Then, cross out that condemning thought and write down God's truth about who you are to Him instead.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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

  • The 5 Best Things to Say to a Friend Today

    Posted on May 1, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)

    I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.

    I'd survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls' locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher's sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.

    They weren't laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.

    No, they were laughing at me.

    I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.

    And it hurt.

    I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives.

    • When your co-workers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren't invited.
    • When that other preschool mom says, "Several of us moms are concerned with how aggressive your child seems on the playground."
    • When everyone else's social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you're crying yourself to sleep.

    Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly you're not alone.

    I want to be that friend for you today.

    In the midst of whatever it is that's made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And then might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?

    This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled "Love."

    1. "You're wonderful."

    (Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope ...")

    What a loving thing to infuse joyful hope into your friend's life by reminding her why you think she is wonderful.

    The world is quick to tell us girls all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.

    So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she's a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful co-worker, a wonderful person.

    2. "Me too."

    (Romans 12:12, "... patient in affliction ...")

    What a gift to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.

    The patient friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. "Me too" acknowledges that I'm no better than you, but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we're all in this together.

    3. "I'll pray."

    (Romans 12:12, "... faithful in prayer.")

    Wouldn't it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in your prayers for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts me Scriptures she's praying.

    But here's what I really love about her. She doesn't just pray about my situations. She prays me through them. I honestly don't know how she hasn't gotten tired of praying for some of my same issues for so long. I get so tired of me ... but she never does. What a gift. A gift I know I must pass on by being faithful in my prayers for others.

    4. "I'll share."

    (Romans 12:13, "Share with the Lord's people who are in need ...")

    When we notice a need in a friend's life, might we be willing to step in and be part of the solution?

    I have a friend who lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a "Job (like the man in the Bible) Party." Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.

    We didn't come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance that God was working on their behalf.

    5. "Come over."

    (Romans 12:13, "Practice hospitality.")

    Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There's just something about relationships that are less pixilated when we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.

    Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.

    Yes, these are 5 great things, maybe even the best things, to say to a friend. So, today, I pause and say them to you.

    Now, I haven't quite figured out how to do that last one. It would be such a hoot trying to fit you all in my kitchen, but I sure am dreaming about it!

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can encourage today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you put into practice with her today?

    Power Verse:
    Hebrews 13:16, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Romans

  • 6 Prayers to Pray the Week After Easter

    Posted on April 21, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: "He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him." Now I have told you.'" Matthew 28:5-7 (NIV)

    I don't think Easter is quite done with me yet.

    I know what glorious things this Holy Day says to the world at large.

    But what does Jesus want me to know, to think about, to wrestle through at this time of year? This season of new beginnings.

    So, I'm lingering here a bit longer.

    I feel like the girl who wears the same outfit to school two days in a row. Easter is done now. Time to put it back in the closet. Only for me it isn't. I want to wear it again today, tomorrow and many more tomorrows.

    After all, Easter is no longer a ritual to me. It's a revelation. A time where Jesus splits my soul along the fault line of a scar deep within: I was an unwanted child to my birth dad.

    Unwanted.

    But to Jesus ... I was wanted so much that He gave His life for me. It feels so personal. Even though I know God so loved the world, He gave His son, it becomes very individual if we let it.

    Be personal.

    With Jesus.

    Yes.

    So, in the midst of a world putting Easter away, might we let it sit with us for just a bit more?

    I keep my Bible open to the place where the angel spoke to the women at the tomb. And I tangle my thoughts around His words from Matthew 28 as six prayers emerge ...

    "Do not be afraid," - God, I hand over to You those things that make me so afraid. Resurrect the parts of my faith squelched by fear.

    "I know that you are looking for Jesus," - God, when my soul is searching, help me know the answer to every longing can be found in You.

    "He has risen," - God, the fact that Jesus is risen should lift my head, my heart and my attitude. Help me to live today as if I really believe this with every part of my life.

    "just as he said," - Jesus, You keep Your promises. Help me live as though I believe that with every part of me. Help me trust You more, obey You more and resemble You more.

    "Come and see," - Jesus, You had the angels invite the women in to see for themselves that You had risen. You invite me into these personal revelations every day. Forgive me for sometimes rushing about and forgetting to come and see for myself ... You, Your Word, Your insights.

    "Then go quickly and tell his disciples," - Jesus, I don't want to be a secret keeper with my faith. I want to be a bold and gracious truth proclaimer. For You. With You. Because of You. Me, the unwanted girl whom You loved, redeemed and wanted.

    In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Yes, let this miraculous Easter be personal. And prayerful. And linger a bit longer.

    Dear Lord, I want to let Your Truth sink deep down into my heart and soul today. Help me stay focused on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Find Matthew 28 in your Bible and read through that chapter in its entirety. What verse sticks out to you?

    Take that verse and write it down or speak it out loud in prayer. Let God's Truth sink deep down into your heart and soul.

    Power Verse:
    1 John 3:16a, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Matthew

  • The Unsaved Christian

    Posted on April 17, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'" Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV)

    God wants us to have a relationship with Him. But what does this really mean?

    A few years ago, I met a woman at a conference where I was speaking. I didn't know many details about her life, but I did learn she'd been going to church for a long time.

    And she'd been serving, giving and doing all the right church stuff.

    But something was missing.

    "I never could quite put my finger on it until I heard your message," she whispered. "I never knew what it really meant to have a relationship with Jesus. But hearing you explain it, something clicked. I walked forward today. I gave my heart to Jesus."

    I wondered, What part of that day caused the profound click in her soul?

    Of course, it was the Holy Spirit moving ... somehow in the midst of my sharing the broken places of my life, things came together in hers.

    It got me thinking about us doing life together here through this daily devotion. Each day, we spend a few minutes together over the Internet learning how to navigate life as Jesus' girls. But all that talk is for nothing if our hearts stay far away from Jesus.

    It's not about momentary motivation to make it through today.

    It's not about spiffy quotes to ponder and put into practice.

    It's not about relationship tactics and turnkey solutions.

    It's not about bite-size pieces of peace to make life a little more manageable.

    It's not about making our lives look and feel a little better.

    It has to be about Jesus. And drawing our hearts into His reality. His grace. His love. His hope. His forgiveness. And most of all, the free gift of salvation because of Him.

    Have you ever felt like you couldn't put your finger on what was missing? Maybe you bounce from one religious activity to the next, but your heart feels far from God? Oh, sweet sister, can we chat?

    God doesn't want us to have a religion. A religion is where we follow rules hoping to do life right, and serve God out of duty because we think we have to.

    God wants us to have a relationship. A relationship where we follow Him. A relationship where we serve God not out of duty, but out of delight because we've realized who we are in Him. A relationship where our obedience is born out of love.

    For years, I went to church to get a little "God goodness" in my life. But it was like putting fresh paint on rotting wood. I was living just like those talked about in Matthew 15:8-9, "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'"

    I realized I didn't need to be just following the rules ... I needed to be following Jesus. God Himself.

    I didn't need a little "God goodness" to rub off on me ... I needed God to invade the deepest parts in me.

    So, I knelt down in the midst of my messy, chaotic, confused life and started a relationship with Him by simply saying, "Yes."

    Yes, I am a sinner in need of a Savior.

    Yes, I acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, sent to die on a cross and resurrected on the third day to save me from my sins.

    Yes, I want Jesus to be the Lord and Master of my life.

    Yes, I am now and forever will be a forgiven and saved child of the Almighty God.

    Yes, I will follow Jesus today, tomorrow and every other day I'm blessed with life on this earth.

    Let me quiet the voice of Satan screaming to resist this process. He wants to trip us up by whispering how we won't be able to live this out perfectly. Jesus has never ever asked us to be perfect. He simply wants us perfectly surrendered. I often pray, "Oh Jesus, I am such a mess, but I am Yours. Show me ... help me ... forgive me ... reassure me ... and pour Your tender mercy upon me."

    And He does.

    And He always will.

    My imperfections are safely resting in the reality of His perfection.

    And I simply press on by continuing to say yes moment by imperfect moment ... day by imperfect day.

    Dear Lord, I am such a mess, but I am Yours. Show me ... help me ... forgive me ... reassure me ... and pour Your tender mercy upon me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    In this devotion, Lysa said, "So, I knelt down in the midst of my messy, chaotic, confused life and started a relationship with Him by simply saying, 'Yes.'"

    Think of simple ways you can say yes to God today. How would that look? What would change in how you live your life?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 53:2, "God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Matthew

  • The Day I Lost My Smile

    Posted on April 10, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

    I looked at my schedule and an overwhelming sense of dread started creeping into my heart. "What's wrong with me? Why am I always running late, running behind, and running after my people who all seem to compound this issue?"

    Because time refused to stand still while I pondered, it was necessary to jump right into task mode. There were lunches to pack, permission forms to sign, and tangles that needed gathering up into ponytails. I put one foot in front of the other and kicked into automatic, mentally crossing off one thing after another on my morning routine checklist.

    I gathered up backpacks and lunchboxes and started announcing from the front door that we had to leave right this minute. And then I said it again. And then I yelled it in a tone that finally got my kids to appear. I quickly checked to make sure we didn't repeat yesterday's mistake of letting one leave with no shoes on. Then I marched out of the house while tossing out a stern reminder to please shut the door quickly so the dog didn't get out.

    But the dog did get out.

    As I slipped the car in drive, the dog darted right out in front of me causing me to simultaneously slam on the brakes and spill both cups of orange juice I had gingerly perched between my purse and the little stacks of toast.

    I jumped out to usher the dog back into the house and let hot tears just have their way. The green numbers of the dashboard clock seemed to simultaneously mock and remind me I had no time to sit and cry it all out.

    I handed my kids their soggy toast and in a rare moment of silence, they took it without protest.

    We pulled into the carpool line at school and I stared at the long line of cars ahead of me. I imagined all the wonderful smiling mothers who were doing this better than me. They probably had organized systems for packing lunches the night before and making sure their kids kept up with their shoes. They probably did family devotions each morning, ate breakfast at the table, and sang songs all the way to school.

    I compared all that to the realities of my morning and came to one heart-sinking conclusion: "I stink at this."

    Almost at that exact moment my phone buzzed with a text message from a friend: "I had a really hard morning with my kids today. I'd love to have coffee some time and learn how you do it all so well."

    I couldn't believe it. I half sighed and half chuckled at the irony.

    I turned around to my kids in the back and said, "Hey guys, I'm really sorry Mommy was such a grump this morning. I think I misplaced my smile. So I just want you to know while you're at school today I'm going to do everything I can to find it."

    After I dropped them off, I called that friend and told her what a gift it was to get her text.

    I shared with her. She shared with me.

    Together, we brainstormed better ways to prepare for these morning pitfalls we both kept finding ourselves in.

    Together, we gave ourselves the permission to admit how hard motherhood can sometimes be and that it's okay to feel caught off guard by the endless demands.

    Together, we listed reasons to be so very thankful.

    Together, we found strength.

    Together, we regained our sense of dignity.

    And it wasn't too long until we both found ourselves laughing together.

    It reminds me of our key verse, Proverbs 31:25, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." But sometimes it takes a friend to bring us back to the place where we can live this verse.

    We need each other. The key word that day I processed life with my friend and gained a better perspective was, "together." It's such a powerful word and the exact reason I wrote this devotion today.

    You are not alone.

    Oh, how easy it is to lose our smiles and forget to laugh at the craziness of our lives. I need reminders. Just recently, I bought a necklace with a gold pendant that reads, "She laughs." (See below in related resources for more information.) When I see the reflection of this necklace in the mirror I remember laughing is one of the best ways to show those I love that I enjoy them and I like doing life with them. What a gift for them to have memories of me laughing.

    I imagine, though the circumstances might be different for you, you know that place where I was. And maybe you need a reminder to laugh too. We all have times where we feel like failures. We feel like others are doing life so much better. We feel so very alone in our struggles and issues and chaotic emotions. And we look up one day and feel like it was a lifetime ago since we laughed.

    So, I slip this little devotion into your life and whisper, you're not alone. You're doing this so much better than you think you are. God has entrusted you with your life, your loved ones, your unique challenges because you are perfectly equipped for it all.

    Just don't lose your smile. And if you run into me today looking a little worn out, might you remind me of this as well?

    Dear Lord, help me not to lose my smile today. I want to find my joy in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What friend can you share your struggles with today?

    Choose someone you can be honest with, and determine to encourage each other through meeting for coffee, praying for each other, and sending text messages throughout the week.

    Power Verse:
    Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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

  • If You're Feeling Overlooked and Unappreciated...

    Posted on April 3, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'" Acts 13:22 (NIV)

    Sometimes I wake up in the morning feeling a little grumpy. Time to do it all again. I'll buy food that gets eaten. I'll wash clothes that get dirty again. I'll sweep floors that will be littered with crumbs an hour later.

    Is there more to all this than just doing the tasks of everyday life?

    Before I jumped into the normal routine this morning, I sat with Jesus. And I found some big truths as I read my Bible and took a little glance into David's life. Despite how others saw him, his own tendency to sin, and lack of position in his own family, David had the sweet reassurance of God. And that was enough.

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    To his older brothers, David was a pest. To his father, Jesse, he was just the youngest son. To onlookers, he was just a shepherd boy. But to God, David was the one destined to be king. And not just any king. He was from the bloodline from which Jesus would come.

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    Even the way David was anointed to be the future king is a telling story. In 1 Samuel 16, God tells Samuel that He has rejected Saul as king and chosen one of Jesse's sons to be the replacement.

    Think of the list of qualifications that must have run through Samuel's mind for such a position: tall, smart, articulate, brave, groomed, well-mannered, a natural-born leader. Samuel saw some of these characteristics in Eliab, David's brother. "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his outward appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV 1984).

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    Samuel had Jesse line up all of his sons before him. All of them were to be considered. Yet, Jesse didn't call David in from tending sheep. Was this an oversight? An assumption? A judgment call? A deliberate choice?

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    Samuel passes on each of Jesse's sons and then asks, "Are these all the sons you have?" I imagine Jesse with a quizzical expression replying, "There is still the youngest ... He is tending the sheep." (1 Samuel 16:11, NIV) Surely one who spends his time taking care of animals is not the one to take care of a nation.

    Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

    As soon as Samuel saw David, he knew he was the one. David was anointed to become king. But he was not immediately ushered to the throne. It would be many years before David was recognized by the world. So, where did he go after being anointed as king? To a refining school? A government academy? Military training? Nope.

    He went back out to the fields and continued to shepherd his flock. A king doing lowly tasks. A king whose character was being refined in the fields of everyday life to prepare him for his calling.

    How like us. In the midst of smelly laundry, dirty dishes, snotty noses, misplaced keys, overdue library books, bills, and that birthday gift that still needs to be mailed to Grandma – there is training there. There is character building. There is attitude shaping. There is soul defining. All of which must take place for us to become what God intends.

    Do you ever feel overlooked by the world? Take heart – we are handpicked by God.

    I am not just doing tasks. I am building a legacy. I am shaping God's Kingdom. I am in the process of not only discovering my calling but that of my family as well. And I don't know about you, but it sure does make me look at my everyday tasks (yes, even the smelly laundry) in a whole different light.

    Dear Lord, I'm grateful that even when I feel overlooked, I can rest in the fact that I am handpicked by You. Help me to live my life for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What tasks have you viewed as mundane or pointless?

    Determine to change your perspective on those tasks today. When you're feeling discouraged speak these words out loud: "I am handpicked and called by God. This is my assignment today from Him and I'm choosing to see how important it is!"

    Power Verse:
    1 Corinthians 15:58b, "Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort." (MSG)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Acts

  • How Much Will This Choice Really Cost Me?

    Posted on March 27, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "... in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

    A few years ago I sat at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with my daughter Ashley while an officer told her the importance of good choices. Ashley was getting her learner's permit and entering the scary world of teenage drivers.

    "We've had 320 teens killed this year in fatal car accidents so we want to do everything possible to keep you safe," the officer said sternly as she highlighted for Ashley all the many rules for new drivers. Then she suggested signing a contract with her parents incorporating these rules.

    I've never wanted to hug a DMV officer. But, it was all I could do not to reach across the desk and throw my arms around her. For you see, my husband and I had already created a driving contract that we've made each of our teenagers sign.

    I'm sure our kids have thought our contract was a bit over the top. After all, none of their friends have had to sign such a document with their parents. So, it was good to hear another adult speak truth into the life of my child.

    And what I loved most about the officer's sermonette on safe driving was her emphasis on the cost of wrong choices.

    How I wish we could all see the cost of our choices as clearly as a price tag on items in a store. If I know how much something is going to cost me, I make much wiser choices. But we have an enemy who schemes against us to keep the cost of dumb decisions concealed until it's too late.

    Satan wants to defeat, discourage and destroy our families. His attacks are not just willy-nilly attempts to trip us up or knock us down. He wants to take us out.

    That's why, as parents, we've got to boldly fight for our families. We must get intentional with teaching our kids to think through their choices. And we must get intentional about modeling good choices as well.

    Do you know why Satan's tactics are called schemes in 2 Corinthians 2:11? A scheme is a plan, design or program of action. Satan's schemes are well-crafted plans specifically targeted to do three things:

    1. Increase your desire for something outside the will of God.
    2. Make you think giving in to a weakness is no big deal.
    3. Minimize your ability to think through the consequences of falling to this temptation.

    Satan is a master of keeping that cost hidden until it's too late.

    Sweet sisters, this is something worth thinking about. And it is something worth talking about with our kids. Consider age-appropriate examples of how costly wrong choices can be. Be real, raw and bold as you walk them through different scenarios of temptations they might face.

    That DMV officer was certainly bold in her explanation of the cost when a teen driver gets distracted by their iPod, cell phone or friends acting silly. Hearing her explain to my daughter how costly others' poor choices have been made these "rules" seem more like life-saving gifts.

    Think how different life might be if we all paused and asked ourselves this crucial question: How much will this choice really cost me? If we teach ourselves and our kids nothing else this week than to ask this one question, we will have invested wisely. So, so very wisely.

    Dear Lord, I am reminded that boldly following You is so much better than any short-term experience that's not pleasing to You. Give me Your eyes so that I can see temptation and its many different faces. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a current situation in your life that requires a decision from you. Have you taken the time to consider the cost?

    Have you taken the time to help a friend, child or spouse think through considering the cost of their choices?

    Power Verses:
    John 10:10, "'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" (NIV)

    Isaiah 30:21, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 2 Corinthians

  • Five Prayers for Your Daughter

    Posted on March 19, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "'... so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.'" Isaiah 55:11 (ESV)

    There is something I've come to realize I need to guard against as a mom. I sometimes want to be God in my kids' lives.

    I want to write their stories.

    I want to set the course for their futures.

    I want to determine what's best for them.

    I want to prevent them from ever being hurt.

    I want to be their provider and protector.

    And I want to be the one to set anyone straight who messes with my kids.

    Can you relate on any level? I think most moms can. We love these people God has entrusted to us more than we ever knew possible. And despite all the infant-stage sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, tween eye rolling, and the teen decisions that break our hearts slap in two ... they are ours. To love. To lead. To launch.

    And we want to make it all good.

    But then things happen so beyond our control we eventually have to face the reality that we aren't God. And we can't operate as if we are.

    So what do we do with that gap where our mommy capabilities end and trusting God begins? Where my kids are concerned, I want to trust God with everything beyond my control. But it's so scary. It feels so risky.

    And scary and risky are two words we moms don't want as part of our kids' lives.

    So, how do we deepen our trust in God? How do we make peace with the limits of what we can and cannot protect our children from? What do we do with the risky and scary feelings that can make a mom lose sleep at best and feel crazed with fear at worst?

    We must fill that gap with the only thing that bridges the space between our limitations and our trust in God: prayer.

    I know, I know. That answer can sound like such a cliché Christian answer. Typical. Too hyper-spiritual. Not the answer we want sometimes.

    But prayer is the only possibility with real possibility.

    Yesterday, my friend Brooke McGlothlin wrote a devotion about scriptural prayers for boys (see related resources listed below). It inspired me to write some specific scriptural prayers for our girls.

    Here are five powerful prayers to help you fight for the heart of your daughter:

    1. Let her learn early in life that to obey You, God, is the best way to the life her heart truly desires (1 Samuel 15:22).

    2. May she find comfort in Your ability, God, to reach her, hold her and rescue her (2 Samuel 22:17-18).

    3. Let her find confidence in You, God, even when hard times come and she doesn't know what to do, by keeping her eyes fixed on You (2 Chronicles 20:12).

    4. May she keep herself under control and not give full vent to people and situations that anger her (Proverbs 29:11).

    5. Let her walk in the security of Your assigned worth to her. Give her a strong work ethic and health to accomplish all her tasks. Give her a heart that desires to extend her hand to those in need. Protect her for the right husband, a man of respect and godly honor. And let her be a woman of joy and laughter whose Christ-centered character is what makes her most beautiful (Proverbs 31).

    I've prayed these prayers, and I've seen amazingly powerful things happen in the lives of my daughters.

    I can still fret and worry and want to mess with anyone who messes with my girls.

    My girls still make mistakes, cross lines and give the principal reasons to call me.

    But where would we be if the power of the One who answers our prayers wasn't in the mix of our lives?

    And what might these prayers be working out for my daughters' futures that I won't see for years to come? Yes, prayer is the only possibility with real possibility. And that brings me to the place where I can finally say ... "Hello, my name is Mom. Not God."

    Dear Lord, I know that Your Word does not return void and I'm believing great things for my daughter today. May we both grow in our relationship with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Choose one of the Scriptures mentioned above and write it down on a notecard. Place that notecard where you will see it every day (your bathroom mirror, your desk at work, etc.) and pray the Scripture out loud for the next week. When you pray the Word of God, you pray the will of God!

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Isaiah

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