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Author Archives: Samantha Evilsizer

  • A Light in the Dark

    Posted on December 25, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!" Luke 2:30-32 (NLT)

    "Don't get out of the car by yourself. Just honk when you get here and I'll come out."

    As I drove down the darkening street I questioned the wisdom of the 13-year-old who had just given me those instructions. Maybe one of the other youth group leaders should have come with me. Wouldn't honking alert the drug dealers in the neighborhood that Jake had warned me about?

    Turns out I didn't get an answer to my question. Approaching his house, I squinted in the dim evening light. The silhouette of Jake throwing a football in the air was fading against the night sky.

    Christmas carols escaped from my rolled down car window. Songs of the Christ child's birth and God's glory in the highest. Lyrics proclaiming that salvation had come—for me, for Jake, his neighbors, the world.

    "Hey buddy. How are ya?" Such a lame question in light of all he'd seen. His father in a jail cell just a few months prior. His father overdosed in his bed last week. His father in a casket three days earlier.

    Jake helped me carry the pizzas I'd brought over for his family. Couches brimmed with aunts and uncles; chairs overflowed with young cousins vying for a spot to sit. His mom, Norma, and several friends surrounded the kitchen table. Many had come long distances, weary travellers searching for peace.

    These pizzas would ease their hunger, but not their hurt. They wouldn't be truly comforted until they found what they were looking for: a light in the darkness of their grief.

    That dismal day as the television flickered in the living room ... as Norma declared she was moving out of that memory-laden house ... as Jake talked about playing football in a different school district ... I prayed, Lord please let them see You.

    My heart understood some of their hurt. I've been the one to receive meals. I've made plans to escape the memories and grief. And I've set my sights on what I wished would rescue me from painful circumstances.

    Maybe you've longed for that kind of help too? Eagerly looked for a light in the darkness? There was a man, Simeon, in Luke chapter 2 who had the great joy of pronouncing that help had come.

    Let's look at Simeon's amazing proclamation: "At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

    'Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!'" (Luke 2:25-32 NLT)

    Simeon knew that true help, true salvation, wouldn't come through anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ.

    That day standing in Jake's living room, I knew the same thing. No matter how many meals were delivered, or whether or not they moved to a new school or neighborhood, without the hope of Christ, they'd always be looking for something else to be their hope, their light. The same is true for me, for you.

    Simeon was a man of singular passion: to see the Christ Child with his own eyes and God's glory revealed. He knew that Jesus' birth meant salvation had come for those who would trust in Him and the work He would do when He died on the cross. His whole life would illuminate God's love to a desperate world. For those who believe that He is the Son of God and our risen Savior, we have the hope of eternal life spent with God and peace and joy here on earth.

    On this day when we celebrate Jesus' coming to earth, let's really focus on Him. He is our hope in despairing situations. And a joyful light to brighten even the darkest circumstances.

    Jesus, You alone are the hope the world needs. Thank You for coming from heaven to earth, from King to servant, from God to babe. Give me a singular passion to see You. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When your hope dips low, pray for help in re-focusing on the great gift of Jesus and who God is.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Combating Loneliness

    Posted on December 20, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." Psalm 25:15-16 (ESV)

    Don't look his way, her heart and mind insist.

    She doesn't want to look. Then again, she does. Though my friend did not check the "Plus One" box on her RSVP card, she wishes she had. Why had she come to this party alone? Maybe then she wouldn't gravitate to him.

    He's reckless and destructive. My friend knows better, but he's the only one who can relate to her. Even so, she avoids eye contact, hoping to make him believe she doesn't need him anymore.

    She succeeds until another round of laughter fills the Christmas party. Her resolve walks out as he walks up to her, extending a knowing hand. Fingers entwined, she falls in his snare. She can't stand him ... this companion called loneliness.

    In the midst of listening to marriage, baby, vacation, life-is-grand stories, she hears the voice of loneliness, high above the conversations: You'll never have this. You'll be lonely forever.

    She had promised herself she wouldn't turn her eyes to him this time. As she was getting ready for the party, she put this truth on: "My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." (Psalm 25:15-16 ESV)

    But she forgot this hopeful promise as she fell into the trap of loneliness.

    By the time the clock chimed an acceptable hour to bid her goodbyes, she was eager to be gone. One step out the door and she lowered her guard too soon. Loneliness had saved his best for last. Powerfully, he pummeled lies until she believed: You will always be lonely.

    When he trotted off, leaving her alone, a different hand reached down. One that is gentle and healing. Let me help you up. Rough night, huh?

    She looked up to see His scarred hand extended.

    How'd You know I was here?

    He tells her He's been there the whole time, always near, at the ready to rescue any time she looked to Him for help. As she faced Him, He began to untangle the false claims of loneliness with truth: I am near (Psalm 145:18). I will never leave (Deuteronomy 31:6). I am your joy (Psalm 16:11).

    Hollow parts of her heart filled with the confidence of Jesus. She knew it was time to break-up with loneliness for good. Not just at parties, during holidays, or weekends with nothing planned.

    Maybe it's your time too? Truth is, loneliness can tag along whether you are alone or surrounded by family and friends, on special days and ordinary days.

    There's only one way to keep loneliness from being a constant companion in life. It is to make sure our "... eyes are ever toward the LORD ..." Psalm 25:15a (ESV).

    Let's keep our focus on God and call out to Him when we feel loneliness setting a trap for us: in the festive times, in the quiet times, at all times.

    Dear Lord, my eyes are ever toward You, for only You will release my feet from the trap of loneliness. Will You please turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted? Thank You for being near and being my joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Christmas can be a time when loneliness is overwhelming. If you struggle with this, what can you do to combat loneliness?

    Choose a Bible verse to memorize that you will use to fight loneliness. Write it on a piece of paper or make it your phone/computer screen saver as a constant reminder of the nearness of Jesus.

    Power Verses:
    Deuteronomy 31:8, "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (ESV)

    Lamentations 3:22-26, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Slippery Friendships

    Posted on November 19, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

    The white snow clouds shadowed the faces peering down on me as I lay flat on the freezing ground. Squinting up at the group, my thoughts whirled: How did this happen? Are my bones broken? Did I take anyone down with me?

    Four winters in the mountains, coupled with countless sightings of others falling down, had taught me to watch where I stepped. I had gingerly led my Freshman Orientation group across campus as we picked our way through snowy sidewalks. But the brick steps outside the English building got the better of me.

    After carefully standing up, and gathering my book bag and pride, I spotted the culprit. A small patch of ice—that I thought was melted snow—winked up at me.

    Losing our footing happens, even when using caution. Stepping lightly isn't always a sufficient safeguard when walking into a potentially slick situation, especially one that involves our heart. Jeremiah 17:9 warns, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (NIV) My friend Mia learned this truth at her first job.

    In her new position, Mia often collaborated with people in other departments. She enjoyed getting out of her office and breaking up the day-to-day routine. There was one thing she most looked forward to though: meetings with her co-worker, Paul.

    Though their jobs were serious in nature, meetings with him were light-hearted. An hour of shuffling paperwork disappeared in laughter and conversation.

    Weekly meetings soon seemed like an eternity apart. To fill in the gaps, Paul and Mia emailed each other funny anecdotes. They'd catch a few minutes on the phone to tell about a snippet in their day. Eventually Mia and Paul shared lunches, inside jokes, and personal stories. When in a crowd, they'd gravitate to each other and sit together at staff meetings.

    I'd heard so much about Paul I wasn't surprised when Mia brought him up one morning over coffee.

    "I think I have a problem," she said. "I have a crush on Paul."

    Honestly, I wasn't surprised after all she'd told me about him—everything but one incredibly important fact: "He's married."

    In that moment, we both saw how little conversations and small confidences shared led her to fall for Paul. She'd stopped looking carefully where she was stepping and convinced herself they were "just friends."

    But Jeremiah 17:9 tells us our hearts are deceitful and sly. The word "deceitful" in the original Hebrew language is 'aqob, meaning slippery and insidious. In other words, our own hearts can cause us to lose our footing before we're even aware it's happening.

    When we fail to keep our guard up, we're at risk to fall down. And after the realization that we've gone too far, we may find ourselves asking: How did this happen? Are any marriages broken? Did I take anyone down with me?

    Looking back, if I had re-routed my tour around campus, I could have avoided the fall. And that's just what Mia did. She asked God for forgiveness and wisdom. Then she determined to change her pattern at work. Mia stopped spending time alone with Paul and limited their non-work interactions. It took time for her feelings for him to go away, and she admitted it was a bit awkward at first. But after a while they settled in to a professional relationship—nothing more, nothing less.

    Sometimes we don't recognize slippery spots on our own. But God does and if we ask, He will reveal these to us. Let's pause before taking another step in our friendships to ask the Lord for guidance. We might just spare our heart and avoid a damaging fall!

    Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship … Yours and others. I want to point others—and myself—to You by my actions, words, and deeds. Help me do this by testing my heart and removing anything that could put me at risk of slipping. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    If you have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex, does their spouse—and your spouse if you're married—know about the depth of your friendship? If not, why?

    Ask the Lord—and a trusted, Christian friend—if you are on a slippery slope. What safety measures can you put in place if you have to work with this person regularly?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 4:23, "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life." (HCSB)

    Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • What Can God Do with Difficult Circumstances?

    Posted on November 5, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2 (ESV)

    This past year, people I love have had to grapple with some very difficult things—home foreclosures, loss of businesses, empty cupboards, and dry gas tanks. Family and friends have endured marital affairs, children sentenced to jail, another year of unemployment, cars breaking down, churches falling apart.

    In the midst of such hardships, it's easy to doubt God can redeem the pain, recover what's lost, heal all that's broken. Can He truly fit the pieces of our suffering into a hopeful future?

    If we rely on what our circumstances imply, we may believe the Lord isn't able to make something good come from our hardships. Or that He won't. But the truth is, God can and does change our circumstances.

    Whether or not God alters our current situation, His power to give a future and hope never changes! We know this based on His Word that stays the same. That's why it's important to take action when difficulties weave doubt in to our faith in God's authority. How do we do this?

    For me, refocusing on the truth found in Job 42:1-2 makes a big difference, "Then Job answered the LORD and said: 'I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted."

    Reading accounts of God's faithfulness bolsters us up when all that is around us is crumbling down. When we focus on what God did for others, it reminds us He is able to work on our behalf as well. Take a look at God's redeeming plans for some of His people throughout the Bible...

    While Job's family, home, crops and health were demolished, God was preparing to give him double of what was killed, stolen, lost and damaged. (Job 1 and 2; Job 42:10)

    While Joseph was a slave and prisoner, God was planning for him to be second in command over Egypt. (Genesis 39:19-21 and 41:41)

    When Ruth was a homeless, childless widow, God was creating a home in Boaz's heart for her to be his wife. God also knew she'd one day be a mother and years later a great, great, great-grandmother to Jesus. (Ruth 1:4-5 and 4:13-17)

    When David lay down in adultery, God was laying the groundwork for him to rise up and repent. (2 Samuel 2:4; Psalm 51)

    When Peter lost faith and denied Christ, God knew Peter would be instrumental in growing the Christian church by proclaiming Christ to thousands. (Mark 14:66-72; Acts 2:38-41)

    While Mary watched Jesus dying on the cross, God had full knowledge of Jesus being resurrected and seated on His heavenly throne! (John 19:25-30; Revelation 3:21)

    No matter what the dire, dreary circumstances, God turned each into a hopeful future.

    God can reverse, restore, revive, and renew. Be on the lookout for His plans that are already in motion right now, even in the midst of your difficult time. Trust Him. He can take any circumstance and use it for your good and His glory.

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness shown to every generation, and for recording these stories where You turned dreary pasts into hopeful futures. I ask that You do the same for mine. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Today, take a moment to find and reflect on the Lord's faithfulness to you during hard circumstances.

    Write those instances down and spend time giving thanks to Him.

    Power Verses:
    Genesis 50:19b-20a, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good." (NIV)

    Psalm 40:5, "Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Sacrificial Love

    Posted on October 23, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samanatha

    "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mark 10:21 ESV)

    I had some misplaced priorities. I suppose at some level I'd known it for some time. But I didn't fully recognize how misplaced they were until I took a trip to El Salvador with a Christian humanitarian organization.

    I met two children on a home visit. They lifted their tarp door and invited me into mud puddles and dirt walls with just one bed where their family of five rested at night. One bed for dreaming dreams of being a doctor and police officer.

    I'd come to offer gifts of detergent and food. But the children's gifts exceeded anything I had to give. A tiny beaded bracelet smudged with dirt, drenched in love. They wanted it to be mine. They filled my hands with selfless love. Love shared in smiles and what few tangible gifts they owned.

    Feeling too shy to hand me the bracelet herself, the girl nudged her brother. He presented it to me as if it were a royal crown and slid it gently on my wrist. I declare, diamonds couldn't match the worth of their hearts, their gift in that moment.

    The next morning as I was getting dressed, I felt a nudge. Give your bracelet away like those children gave theirs to you.

    You see, I had another precious bracelet with me. It was one my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Just a simple wooden bracelet from South Africa, but it meant the world to me.

    How could I part with it? I wrestled with indecision. My heart soared, anticipating the moment I'd spot a mama to whom I would give my bracelet. Then my heart sank, anxious at the thought of giving up one of my treasures.

    And there lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.

    I'm embarrassed ... heartbroken. I'm sad to say I couldn't give it away. Couldn't? No; more like I wouldn't. Both bracelets journeyed back home with me. One bearing selflessness; the other, selfishness.

    I thought I was really something, bringing gifts to those kids in the form of beans and rice. Little did I know, I was the one in need. I needed God's mercy. I needed a new perspective. I don't want possessions if I'm not willing to use them to love others.

    I needed the one thing I lacked ... more love for the Lord than for my possessions. My heart held tighter to my bracelet than it did to what God had asked me to do. He beckoned, "Give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." A simple request, yet so difficult to follow.

    I don't want to be lacking in love for the Lord or those He cares for. Next time I'm giving it all. I'm starting by opening my hands and heart and looking for opportunities today. Are you with me?

    Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of giving. Thank You for new mercies, second chances, and a heart capable of responding to Your prompting. Help me to respond to Your prompting this day. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Remember
    You need more love for the Lord than for your possessions.

    Reflect
    You can choose each day to bear selflessness or selfishness. Why is it sometimes easier to hold more tightly to earthy possessions?

    Respond
    Set up a time to volunteer with those who have less than you to help gain perspective on what's important.

    Power Verses
    Matthew 6:20; 1 Timothy 6:18-19

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

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

  • If God Does Not Rescue Us

    Posted on August 30, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods ..." Daniel 3:17-18a (HCSB)

    She whisked the tears away fast, like a sailor scooping water from a sinking ship. My friend was trying hard to keep her heart from going under.

    She'd been carrying the joy of what she thought was a new life on the way. But this was a hope to be deferred. It wasn't time. She wasn't sure if it'd ever be time.

    Desperate aches to hold a baby of her own had begun to dictate her thoughts, emotions and actions. And she recognized she had to face a few big questions before they consumed her.

    Would her longing to rest her cheek against a soft head crowd out her praise to God? Might her days be full of trust in Him, even if her womb remained empty? Could she stand in awe of all God had already done ... or would she bow to discontentment and disbelief in His goodness and power?

    As she sat with me, my friend knew it was time to stand and face the music. Much like three young Israelite men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, did in the book of Daniel.

    These Israelites had been captured by the Babylonians. Many years into their captivity, the fanatical King Nebuchadnezzar held a ceremony. To fulfill his craving to be feared and obeyed, he demanded the people bow and worship a 90-foot golden idol when special music was played. If they didn't, death by a scorching furnace was certain.

    Everyone kneeled facedown; everyone but these three men of God. They stood above the crowd and literally faced the music.

    Going against the royal edict had sealed their fate, or so the king thought. Scripture tells the rest of their story: "Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. ... 'if you don't worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?'" (v. 13a, 15b HCSB).

    Little did the king realize the depth of confidence these men had in their God. They knew their fate was held by Him, not determined by the king's whims. Listen to how they responded. "If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king.

    But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods ..." (v. 16b-18a HCSB)

    Their strong rebuttal threw cold water on the king's burning demands. I love their resolute belief. Especially because the word rescue in this context indicates possibility, not certainty.

    They were assured in knowing that God possibly would ... and definitely could ... but He certainly might not save them.

    God miraculously rescuing them from the antics of Nebuchadnezzar wasn't their focus. Instead, they fixed their hearts on the fact God is good and wise and can be trusted, no matter the outcome. They stood against the lure to desire anything—even their lives—more than God.

    Almost a year after our conversation, I spotted my friend at church. I knew it hadn't been an easy year for her. Though her arms still didn't hold a baby, she was clinging tightly to her God—facing the music, remaining faithful. She was worshiping with all her heart.

    God, sometimes I don't understand Your ways. They fly in the face of my desires. Help me recognize doubt, frustration and fear as an indication that I am longing for something more than I long for You. Help me trust and love You. Amen.

    Related Resources:


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

    Reflect and Respond:
    Take a moment to feel the gravity of the declaration Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego made: "But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods ..."

    Is there a desire of your heart that God has not granted? What would change if you actively chose to long for God more than that desire?

    Power Verse:
    Mark 12:30, "And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Don't Like Her

    Posted on August 14, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3 (NIV 1984)

    Guns were loaded. Places taken. The showdown had begun. Her at one end of the table; me at the other. My plate a smoking gun; lima beans my bullets.

    I wish I could say I was a two-year-old toddler, throwing a tantrum. Instead, I'm embarrassed to admit I was a 25-year-old adult, sticking it to my then-boyfriend's mom; a woman I couldn't stand. Neither of us was backing down. Meeting her stealthy gaze, I methodically slid one lima bean after another to the side of my plate. I would not take one bite of her potpie until it was clear of the offending veggies.

    Oh, it's not that I dislike lima beans. On the contrary. What I didn't like was her.

    Her, my boyfriend's mother. Clinging tightly to her matronly apron strings. Sitting at the head of his table. Wedging herself between us. Serving his favorite meal.

    Me, her son's girlfriend. Building bonds. Sitting by his side. Finding my place between mother and son. Resenting her home-cooked food.

    My own mother's voice grew loud in my head with each lima bean I pushed aside. I could just hear her reprimand: it doesn't matter what she's done, you eat the limas, Sam. I held my challenger's stare as I flicked another bean and ignored what I knew my mom would say: put down your disdain and put her above yourself, Samantha.

    With determined purpose, I jabbed the last lima. Without a word I said it all: I will not honor your meal ... your feelings ... you. My mom's voice shook my inner core. Humility, Samantha Elaine!!

    After dishes were washed and guns put away, another voice resonated. I sensed the Lord speak gently, yet firmly. Why did you feel the need to battle your pride, and her, in having to be number one in your boyfriend's life? This would have been the perfect opportunity to "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Phil. 2:3).

    I was ready with my rebuttal. She's controlling and invasive. She doesn't respect me or my relationship with her son. She's impossible to get along with, much less honor. I don't like her!

    As far as I was concerned, she was the enemy, and it was my duty to draw the battle lines. Yet I knew my actions should not be determined by hers. After all, she had worked hard on that dinner. She was my boyfriend's mom. And most importantly, she was my sister in Christ.

    I knew God called me to be humble toward her. Not only that, but to go above-by eating (all) of her meal, and beyond-by complimenting her dish (it actually was tasty). It would have been a small thing, but it would have been the right thing ... and the God thing.

    Though my relationship with my boyfriend has since ended, my relationship with humility continues to grow. It may be through watching a television show that bores me but my friend enjoys it. Or speaking kindly when I'm frustrated, praying for someone who has offended me or taking a back seat when I want to be first.

    When my finger is on the trigger of my pride, I keep in mind that by being humble, I'm obeying God, which ultimately honors Him. This truth gives me the grace I need to tuck my guns away and ask, "May I please have seconds?"

    Dear Lord, thanks for being the best example of humility and honor. Please give me the grace to honor others, especially those who I find hard to respect. Thanks for Your Word that reminds me to put others first. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Reflect and Respond:
    Who do you struggle to be humble toward? Why?

    Pray about having an honest conversation with that person. If you're not able to, determine now how you will react in a honoring manner the next time you interact.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 12:10, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." (ESV)

    Colossians 3:12-13a, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another ..." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • Encouragement for the Daily Grind

    Posted on July 23, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer." 1 Peter 3:12a (ESV)

    It's common, everyday stuff. She tells me it's nothing, but I know better.

    This solo parent single-handedly holds each strand of her small daughter's hair. It's getting late, but she must continue ridding the unwelcome "guests." Comb, wash and comb again, fingers exhausted as the clock strikes midnight.

    I send her this text message, You're doing great. She writes me back, telling of her doubt. What's so special about picking out lice? she wonders as she finally collapses in bed, daughter enfolded under her mama's wings. Will this little girl remember her mother's sacrifices? Most likely not. But she will remember the safety and care of her mother's nest.

    And my friend? What will she remember? Shins kicked big by tiny feet, sleepy breath in her face, and trudging through the daily grind. These are what she believes she'll remember, and no one else will ever see or know. These exhausting moments when she wishes she were doing something more noble or noteworthy.

    But I know better. I know I'm not the only one who sees her sacrifices of love. I know that these common moments, built one upon the other, create great lifetimes. These moments are mostly free, yet they cost quite a bit, don't they? Their currency? Time, energy, selflessness, dreams and yes, sleep. All these investments build a life of loving high and deep.

    I'm reminded of a story I read years ago of a woman who opened the front cover of a coffee table book about magnificent cathedrals. She paused to soak in the inscription of this book that had been gifted to her: With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.

    A story, hidden in the pages of her book, is recounted: A rich man came to visit the cathedral while it was being built ... he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

    And the workman replied, "Because God sees."*

    Though my friend's efforts were unseen by the rest of the world, they were not unnoticed by the Lord. Her late-night labor of love was building something beautiful in the eyes of God. He saw her just as He promises in 1 Peter 3:12a, "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer."

    He watches over us as a mother bird keeps watch on her chicks. God's eyes of love, care and protection see each of our everyday efforts that can bring discouragement in the daily grind. Folding the 11th basket of clothes ... today. Cooking dinner with no "thank you" given. Stripping bed sheets in the middle of the night when kids get sick.

    Whether you are investing in your own children, or someone else's, keep up the greatness in the common moments. It may seem like nothing, but you matter. You're building. You're seen.

    Dear Lord, I can get so weary and tired of persisting in building greatness in the everyday moments of life. It often feels like no one notices or appreciates me. Thank You for confirming that YOU see me. That is more than enough. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Be affirmed of who you are, why you are here and how much you are loved in His Princess: Love Letters from Your King by Sherri Rose Shepherd.

    Our Facebook page offers daily encouragement for the daily grind. Join us by clicking here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    We need to replenish ourselves as we pour out love, energy, and prayer on others. Determine now to set aside time each day to spend with God and notice how He replenishes you.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 33:18, "Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love ... " (ESV)

    *The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You're a Run-Away Bride

    Posted on June 14, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people." Psalm 116:14 (NIV)

    As soon as the opening prayer ended, I knew I had to leave my wedding. Whispering a quick apology, I turned and ran.

    My patent leather shoes burned rubber, leaving my soon-to-be groom in a cloud of confusion at the altar. Fast down the aisle where my father and I had just walked. Past the curious wedding guests. Straight to the powder room where my purse and coat were waiting.

    I breathed a sigh of relief. There they were, my written vows, forgotten in the excitement of preparations.

    I hurried back to Joshua waiting patiently for me at the altar. Facing the man I loved, we exchanged our vows.

    It's not every day that a girl makes a lifelong commitment like that. But it is every day I get to carry one out. Not just to my husband, but to my God.

    Sadly, although I made a vow to follow God years ago, there've been times when I've left my vows behind. I've been a run-away bride, leaving Jesus and my commitment to Him in the dust as I took off for what I thought were greener pastures.

    The whole time, He waited patiently. Waited for me to return and say, "I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people" (Psalm 116:14).

    We can run all our lives, but we're never truly settled until we make and keep a lifelong pledge to the One to whom our heart truly belongs. In Him, we have all good things, including the gift of love—God's love.

    As I read my marriage vows out loud at my wedding, I realized they were vows my heart needed to make to Christ as well. So I took the promises I made to my earthly husband, and re-addressed them to Jesus, as a covenant with my Savior, to record my heart's vows to Him:

    There really is no place like home. I've come to know this with great certainty as my love for You, Jesus, has grown. You're my favorite place to be. That's because You are where I am most at home ... You are where my heart is settled, comforted and loved.

    I vow to always keep You as my home base. To never stray emotionally, physically, or in my thoughts.

    I vow to keep You as the center of my home. To seek You every day with all my heart, mind and soul, and to serve You with all that's within me.

    I vow to keep my home clean from doubt, strife and unnecessary cares, and will fill it with believing the best about You, humility, and prayerfulness.

    I vow to willingly submit to You as head of my life, to lean on You, and not be stubborn. And to allow You to serve me.

    I vow to stay healthy and keep active, inviting You into my everyday activities.

    I vow to dream and plan and pray for my future with You.

    I vow to love mercy, act justly, and to walk humbly with You.

    I vow to let You know every day just how very much I love and honor You. And to thank You for all the wonderful things about You that make You ... YOU!

    If home is where the heart is, then my heart will always be with You.

    I don't know where you stand with God right now ... how near or far you are. But I know from experience, the further away you are, the more lost you will feel. Today, let's run to Christ—and make or renew our vows to Him.

    Lord, You alone are worthy of all my heart, soul, mind. Please help me keep my vows to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Scripture is the best thing to read to reignite your relationship with God. The new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women is a great way to start.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Consider your relationship with God. Do you take it as seriously as a marriage covenant? Write your vows to Him today.

    Power Verses:
    Joel 2:12-13, "'Yet even now,' declares the LORD, 'Return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.' Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil." (NAS)

    Ephesian 5:25-27, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

  • What Were You Thinking?

    Posted on June 7, 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer

    Samantha

    "Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven't his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?" 1 Chronicles 19:3b (NIV)

    A sepia tint covers the photograph of her sunscreen-lathered face at the beach. This same coloring alters the picture he took of the dinner he made last night, and discolors their new puppy in the snapshot of him snoozing at the foot of the bed.

    Everywhere I look—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr—photographs are edited with a yellowish-brown filter to create a vintage look. I appreciate the artistry of it, but what happened to the bright vivid colors? Why does faded yellow get to layer itself over the clear blue eyes of a sweet child, making her appear like someone she's not? Or discolor the true pinks and oranges of a fabulous sunset, giving it a different appearance than it truly has?

    I've used the sepia filter when editing photographs. But I'm ready to see things as they really are. Not just with photographs, but in real life.

    For far too long I've colored things based on my fancies, moods or ideas, just like the men in 1 Chronicles 19 did. You see, King David, being kind, sent out a group of his men to console another king whose father had just died. But when the king's men saw David's group approaching, they assumed the worst.

    In verse 3 we get a snapshot of their conversation with their king: "Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven't his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?" (1 Chronicles 19:3b NIV).

    Their suspicion and assumptions about David's intentions led them to treat David's men poorly, which started a war between the two countries ... all because these soldiers colored David in an unfair and incorrect light.

    If I'm honest, I can do this quite easily myself.

    When my husband says he prefers broccoli to carrots, I've read between the lines and inferred he means I can't cook yummy carrots. I'm no Julia Child, so this perceived jab adds to my insecurity. My assumptions lead my emotions, and before I know it, I've cooked up an internal battle between fact and fiction. Rather than suspecting my husband's words contain a hidden meaning, I'm learning to take them at face value.

    It can happen beyond our home too. When we hear of a friend's party—that we aren't invited to—it can be easy to conclude they don't really like us. We pull away from our friend, causing a rift. It may be tempting to talk about the suspected snub with other friends who weren't invited either, causing more division. But the truth is, an intimate dinner party is just that, intimate: small and reserved for a few. Instead of coloring the lack of an invitation with malicious intent, it'd be best to step back and see the bigger picture of a smaller gathering.

    Layering life with thoughts that discolor other's true intentions is easy to do.

    But only God knows what a person is thinking. If we want to know, we have to ask for clarity and set aside the thoughts our imaginations conjure up (2 Corinthians 10:5). Instead of being easily offended, we can overlook another's actions and offer a way to create harmony (Proverbs 19:11).

    Negative assumptions almost always lead to war: either with others, or within ourselves. Let's commit to believing the best, before assuming the worst. And see through a different filter: the truth of God's Word. That's true blue (not yellow!).

    Dear Lord, please help me not infer more than what is said. And if I have questions, please give me the words to ask for clarity. So in all things, You will be lifted high. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Maybe you've struggled with knowing God's true intentions toward you. All you need to know about His character and heart is written in His Word. The new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women is full of God's truth and inspirational devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team.

    For more hope and encouragement, visit our Facebook page.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you readily jump to conclusions without substantiation?

    What will happen in your heart and relationships when you choose to believe the best and take others at their word? Is there anything you need to ask for clarification on from a friend or family member?

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)

    Proverbs 19:11, "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Samantha Evilsizer. All rights reserved.

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

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