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Author Archives: Suzie Eller

  • Will God Forgive Me?

    Posted on January 2, 2015 by Suzie Eller

    SUZIE ELLER

    SUZIE

    "And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly." Luke 22:62 (NLT)

    We waited on the front porch. Moonlight filtered through the trees as tires crunched over the gravel driveway. When he stepped from the car, we rose. He saw us and hung his head.

    He had come to live with us because he needed a safe place. That night he was supposed to be home at a certain time. Hours had passed beyond that curfew, and worry had led us to wait in the cool night air.

    We said we’d talk in the morning.

    The next day I walked into the living room and he sat on the carpet, head in his hands, rocking back and forth.

    "Do I still get to stay here?" he asked.

    Surely, he knew we wouldn’t reject him.

    Except he didn’t know. Nothing in his former experiences led him to that belief. He expected punishment, perhaps not physical, but at the minimum he thought he was no longer welcome.

    My husband and I knelt beside him. We placed our arms around him and began to pray.

    Years have passed since then. Today that beautiful young man is a dad. A loving husband. A pastor and a strong man of faith.

    In the New Testament, we encounter another man who worried if he’d be forgiven: Peter, a man who loved Jesus with his whole being. Yet, in Luke 22, on the night Jesus was turned over to the authorities, Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Peter fled the scene weeping bitterly. Angst and grief were his companions.

    Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there.

    Later we find Jesus talking with Peter on the shore (John 21:17). In the brief conversation, Jesus reminds Peter of who he is.

    And Whose He is.

    Yes, Peter made a big mistake. One that seems impossible to overcome, but Jesus sees beyond the mistake to the heart.

    Over time, Peter became a teacher and speaker, leading crowds to Jesus (Acts 2:14-36) and watching as miracles unfold. He authored 1 and 2 Peter, two books of the Bible that have influenced millions around the world and across generations.

    After his failure, Peter could have rejected Jesus one more time by refusing His love. He could have ignored the words Jesus spoke and allowed failure to define him forever.

    Instead, He accepted that His Savior forgives a repentant heart. That Jesus loved Him still.

    Maybe you failed and you failed BIG. Your greatest regret is feeling you let Jesus down, and it’s the last thing you ever wanted to do.

    In this crossroad moment, you have a choice.

    You can let shame keep you stuck.

    Or, you can lean into Jesus’ love for you.

    Maybe you have amends to make. With His help, make them.

    Maybe getting up seems hard because condemnation weighs so heavy. Release that burden. One day you’ll look back at this pivotal moment and realize getting up led you right back into the arms of Jesus.

    Maybe your former experiences have led you to believe failure equals rejection. That when you fall, you’ve blown it and there’s no way back. Except that’s not truth. This is:

    God will finish the work He began in you (Philippians 1:6).

    His response to your repentant heart is forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

    Your Heavenly Father transforms you as you accept that gift (2 Peter 1:3).

    The young man who once lived with us grew through his mistakes. That incident wasn’t the first or the greatest challenge we walked through together, but every time he leaned into love rather than running away from it, he stood stronger.

    Until one day he knew who he was.

    And Whose he was.

    Your God still loves you. His plan has not been erased because of your mistake. In this crossroad, run toward His open arms and begin anew.

    Dear Jesus, though I want to hide from You, help me to reach for Your love and forgiveness. Teach me through this, and let it grow me. Thank You that I have a future because of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Acts 3:6-8, "Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Instead of running from your mistake, change your viewpoint as you look for ways to grow through it.

    What is one thing you can you learn from it? What did you hope might happen, and what actually took place? What might you do differently next time?

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • How Do I Trust Again?

    Posted on December 17, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    SUZIE ELLER

    SUZIE

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

    We walked into the doctor's office fully expecting good news.

    We walked out carrying a slew of pamphlets and news that we didn't see coming.

    Cancer is a place we've been through before as a couple. Except back then it was me, and now it's him.

    In the hours after his diagnosis, we attended a sweet birthday celebration for a grandchild. We danced under the stars at a family wedding. When the busy weekend finally passed, I sat in the living room with my Bible in front of me. Sun streamed in through windows as I grieved.

    Lord, I don't want to do this again.

    I glanced at my open Bible and read the Scripture verse in Jeremiah I'd committed to memory the week before:

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."

    As I memorized it, I had pictured a tall tree, its leafy branches hovering over the water, roots reaching for nourishment. The tree was laden with fruit, though everything else around it was burned and dry.

    Now I sensed the heat coming our way. Hard decisions. Financial burdens. Emotional uncertainty.

    With tears, I whispered the beautiful words over and over until they soaked into my heart: Blessed is the {woman} who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

    Maybe you are in a hard place today. Perhaps it's a place you've encountered before, and it's the last place you wanted to be. I pray that Jeremiah's words bring guidance to you, as they do to me.

    First, Jeremiah reveals that we can be honest about how we feel.

    Sometimes, in that hard place, we don't give space to the feelings trapped in our hearts. We somehow believe that acknowledging our emotions is a lack of faith.

    Jeremiah doesn't paint a pretty picture with his words about what is taking place. Instead, he describes intense heat that withers everything around the tree. But He also points to a God who is close by. Our God knows what we are going through. He's our safe place.

    While we are being strong for others, He will be strong for you and me.

    Second, we can run to the life-giving Source.

    Hard places require wise choices. Hard places can make you feel empty. Yet there is a promise of refreshing that runs so deep that we are strengthened and nourished in spite of what is taking place.

    Last, let's settle into this promise found in today's key verse: When we remain close to God in the hard places, there's fruit.

    Because I've walked this path before, I know it to be true.

    Fruit might come through joy that makes no sense in relation to circumstances.

    Fruit can spring forth in laughter that erupts where darkness wants to take hold.

    Fruit is the very real promise of eternity.

    Fruit is planted inside of us as we hold tightly to a faith that is bigger than we are.

    I'm still rocked by the news, and I still don't want to be in this hard place, but I know what to do. I'm pushing my roots deep in my faith. I'm scooting closer to my God in the midst of drought. I'm even anticipating the fruit that will drop from our lives as a result.

    Today, let's whisper it together. Let's hold close to it in the hard place: Blessed is the {woman} who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

    Dear Jesus, today I intentionally walk to the water and I dip my roots in deep to find all that I need in this hard place. Thank You for being my Source. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (NIV)

    Psalm 118:14a, "The LORD is my strength and my song." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Matthew 11:28-29 offers rest when we feel overwhelmed. Isaiah 40:29-31 promises renewed strength. Romans 8:37-39 assures us that He keeps us company in hard places.

    Read these verses and underline the words that describe what you need from God today.

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • How Do I Trust Again?

    Posted on September 19, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

    Years ago, hurtful words from a friend landed in a tender spot in my heart. It was already damaged by a previous incident with her ... and the one before that.

    When this friend was frustrated or lost her temper, words just tumbled out. Words that went straight to my vulnerable places.

    Each time she said she was sorry, and she meant it.

    I knew we could work through it, but part of me wanted to give up on trusting her altogether. Why trust someone who might let you down again?

    In fact, why trust at all? Why not just close my heart and keep it safe from any potential harm?

    King David understood this struggle. In Psalm 28, David asks God for help. Many scholars believe that this was written at the end of David's life. At this point, he knows what it is to hide from words and actions that harm. He understands how it feels to be surrounded by people who say they are loyal to him, but sometimes let him down.

    Even at this late stage, it may have been tempting to shut everyone out and never trust again ... not just the people who intentionally sought to harm him, but those who loved him and messed up. It might have even crossed his mind that he should trust no one at all.

    Instead, in verse 7 we see David's thoughts and attitude change and find him singing a beautiful song to his Heavenly Father. In this place of hurt and uncertainty, he reveals a secret: He can trust because God is trustworthy.

    With my friend, I found that same hope.

    The Lord is our strength and shield.

    Like a triple-plated silver shield, David needed God's protection for his heart. David may have wanted to isolate, but God had handwritten a plan for his life. People were an integral part of that blueprint.

    The reality is that people are messy. My friend was a mess. Sometimes I'm a big ol' mess, too. The words my friend spoke hurt and we needed to work through it, but God's shield of protection allowed me to see the areas where He was still working in both of us. It also offered His truth to counterbalance hurtful words.

    This shield allowed me to approach her from a place of resolution, rather than a place of offense or retaliation.

    Our hearts trust in Him and He helps us.

    We need wisdom to know what to say, when to say it and when to hold those words back. God offers that guidance (James 1:5).

    We need discernment over what is ours to fix and when to step back as God does His part (Psalm 55:22).

    We need to know what to do when someone is destructive or unwilling to change, and how to transfer our trust to God in that hard situation, rather than take matters into our own hands. We can ask for hope and healing in our hearts while God performs His work in someone else's heart.

    Our hearts leap for joy, and with a song we praise Him.

    Conflicts, difficult conversations or poor behavior can make you want to give up or shut people out completely. In David's case, trusting in God produced a strong foundation that led him out of seclusion and into a plan and a purpose.

    Have you been tempted to climb into a cave of isolation?

    Do you sense God asking you to trust again? Maybe not even in a specific person, but in Him? In others? In the fact that He's completely with you as you run after His plan for your life?

    My friend is still my friend. She's changed a lot in the past few years, and it's delightful to have watched that transformation.

    Is she perfect? No, but neither am I. We're two imperfect women whose hearts trust in God.

    Dear Lord, someone has hurt my heart and my response has been to hide or build a wall. Thank You for wisdom, compassion and discernment as I trust in You first, and You show me how to trust others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 37:4-5, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    When someone breaks our trust repeatedly, that can impact relationships that are innocent of wrongdoing. In essence, they pay a price for someone else's actions.

    In your journal, write down the names of those closest to you who are innocent of wrongdoing but who are paying a price due to someone else's wrongdoing in your past. Ask God to help you trust again.

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Feel a Little Stalled

    Posted on July 1, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

    I hung on to a vine to climb over one more rock. My heart was beating hard, and I struggled to catch my breath.

    My friend turned in concern. "Are you okay?"

    Well, yes and no.

    When we started the hike I knew it was challenging, but I hiked often and this wasn't my first tough trail to navigate. What I didn't anticipate was the combination of elevation and the steepness of the climb.

    I paused for a few moments until my heart rate settled down and my lungs expanded to catch a breath. While waiting, I soaked in the sight of water splashing down over huge rocks and tree branches bending down as if to pray. Roots from hundred-year-old trees laced up the trail.

    Yes, the path was hard, and it required more of me than I thought, but it was worth it.

    Sometimes our faith can feel the same way. We started this journey because we wanted more of Jesus, but somewhere along the way it got hard.

    Really hard.

    In those hard times you might even feel stalled. And it's at those moments when the enemy can declare you're a failure or you don't measure up. May I share something with you?

    Feeling stalled is different than being stagnant.

    Feeling stalled can be a result of moving forward. There was a time you didn't even know you weren't moving, and now — because of what God has done in your heart — you are aware of those days when old behavior or feelings creep in. You know when you feel further from God.

    Stagnant, on the other hand, is never moving. It's staying away from the hard parts. It's throwing your hands in the air and giving up.

    So, what do you do when you feel stalled?

    Celebrate how far you've come.

    Look back. Where did you begin? How have you grown? Check out the beauty of what God has already done within you.

    Ask for wisdom.

    You don't have to figure out the entire journey. Ask God for the next step, and the next after that. He promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5).

    Allow Him to work in you before you move on.

    On the mountain, my body was signaling that I wasn't getting enough oxygen. I needed to breathe deeply. To allow my heart rate to rest. Perhaps this is the perfect time to allow God to fill you or give you the necessary tools before you move ahead.

    Invite God into that stalled place.

    In Isaiah 43:2, we are promised that God walks with us through hard times. Our key verse says: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."

    When I stopped to rest on the mountain, my friend sat beside me. That harder place turned into a time of conversation and kinship.

    Your stalled place can be a time of intimacy with a God who loves you deeply.

    And what about when you finally arrive?

    When I finished the hike, I lay in the grass and threw my arms out at my sides in exhaustion and joy.

    I had experienced sights that I would have never experienced otherwise. I learned what I could do, and what might help me the next time around.

    If you've been feeling a little stalled, take heart. Feeling stalled is different than being stagnant. With God's help, your stalled place can become a beautiful part of the adventure.

    Dear Lord, I feel a little stalled today, but I praise You because I am not stagnant. Thank You for helping me find You in the hard places of my faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 61:2, "From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety." (NLT)

    Isaiah 30:15b, "... in quietness and trust is your strength ..." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    C. S. Lewis said, "Feelings come and go, and when they come a good use can be made of them, but they cannot be our regular spiritual diet." How does this quote resonate with you?

    Just as Suzie filled her lungs with air when she was feeling stalled, what is one way you can fill up spiritually when you feel a little stalled?

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Thank You, Dad

    Posted on June 13, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

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

    Moments after I stopped by my parents' house, my dad clutched his chest.

    Knowing the hospital was close, my mom and I helped him to the car. I pressed hard on the gas pedal, keeping an eye on the man who reclined in the passenger seat as I raced toward the nearby emergency room.

    The news was not good. Doctors said his heart was badly damaged, and open-heart surgery was the only option.

    Doctors scheduled the procedure for the next day. Since I lived in another city, I drove home to gather my things before returning the next morning for a long stay.

    The sun crept over the horizon as I drove westward to be with my parents during my dad's surgery. Visits were strictly limited, and my time with my dad was to be an hour before he would go in to the operating room.

    When I arrived, a nurse informed me that my dad wasn't in his room.

    I rushed up the stairs to the surgical floor waiting room. "They took him back a half hour ago, Suzie," my brother said. "It happened so quickly we just barely got to see him." I buried my head in my brother's chest and wept.

    My dad was in surgery with his chest split open ... and I didn't get to say thank you.

    Thank you for taking the place of our biological father who should have loved those tiny girls but for whatever reason didn't.

    Thank you for taking two little girls who didn't have a father and making them your own.

    Thank you for never seeing us in a different light than my brothers and sister who were born later.

    Thank you for rejoicing that you won the prize another failed to claim.

    When I was younger I didn't always appreciate this gift. I loved the man I called Dad, but often wondered about the other one. Did I look like him? Where was he? Did he think of me? What might it be like if I had my biological father in my life?

    As an adult, and as a parent, I saw it differently. Being a dad isn't always tied to DNA.

    One man was there at my conception, but another took the more difficult path. He went to work every day. He showed up at events. He disciplined and loved me, watched me graduate and marry. He took the name "Papaw" as he embraced my children.

    I know not every woman who grew up without a biological father's love has this type of experience. But all of us can know the love of God as our heavenly Father.

    Psalm 68:5 describes God as "a father to the fatherless." It's a theme woven throughout Scripture from beginning to end. Our God loves orphans and rescues the abandoned. This is a work close to His heart.

    Later that evening, after Dad's surgery, I sat in the shadows with the rhythmic swish of the respirator the only sound in the room. I silently offered up gratitude.

    First, because my dad had made it through the surgery.

    Second, because this man partnered with God's heartbeat when he stepped in to love two little girls without a daddy.

    I leaned over the bed and whispered the words I could no longer hold back: "Thank you, Dad."

    And thank You, God, for loving me with a perfect Father's love.

    Dear Lord, thank You for loving me as a Heavenly Father. Thank You for bringing people into my life who partnered with You in that love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Matthew 25:35-36, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." (ESV)

    James 2:15-17, "Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?" (The Message)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    We can get so busy, or even focused on what we don't have, that we neglect to love others as God loves us. How might you love someone today with God's love?

    This Sunday is Father's Day in America, and we know not everyone has a strong example of a father. However, many of us have experienced unconditional love from someone older and wiser. How can you show appreciation? One way is to say thank you. Write a note (don't wait!) to say thank you to one person who showed you the love of a father.

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Jumping Out of Airplanes

    Posted on May 16, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "But Jesus said, 'You feed them.'" Luke 9:13a (NLT)

    Each Wednesday, a few women come through my door. They bring with them stories of past addiction, abuse, childhood dysfunction, and second and third chances.

    They also bring friendship. Laughter. Honesty. A heart for more.

    One week we went around the kitchen table and shared five things that described us. Not five things from the past, or five things we see in the mirror. But five things that described who we are as changed, Jesus-filled women of faith.

    When it was my turn, I shared three of my five things: I am kind. I am loved by God. I am an adventurer ...

    As I listed number three, I also casually mentioned how one day I'd love to jump out of a plane. Before I could move on, the conversation erupted.

    Jump out of a plane? Why? That's crazy!

    Our study took a quick detour. After several minutes, I realized our discussion had taken a God-turn as these women began sharing their deepest fears, such as: taking a healthy risk within a relationship; believing they were capable to lead others; going on a mission trip (which requires flying). Even riding a ride at an amusement park.

    Events and people from their past had convinced most of these women they were not intended to live adventurously, but rather to be limited by their past and fears. Did Jesus' disciples feel that way too?

    In Luke 9, the disciples approached Jesus with a big problem. The crowd was massive. They were in an isolated area, and there was no food.

    The disciples wanted the people sent away.

    Instead, Jesus turned to them and said, "You feed them."

    It made perfect sense for the disciples to ask Jesus to send the crowd away. In the natural, there simply wasn't enough food. In the natural, they were accustomed to Jesus taking charge. In the natural, they were faced with a crowd of 5,000 men accompanied by women and children, bringing the total to more than 20,000 people.

    "You feed them" was a call to step out of the natural and into the supernatural. It was a jump-out-of-the-airplane faith moment.

    Jesus wasn't asking them to do it in their own power. John 15:5b says, "apart from me you can do nothing" (NIV). Jesus was letting them know He was prepared to do a lot with the little they had to offer.

    I asked the women in my home what it might look like if they were to respond to Jesus' call to adventure.

    One said she'd ride rides with me if we went to an amusement park.

    Another expressed she was willing to open her heart to loving others, even if they were still a work in progress.

    Another, who has never been on an airplane and is scared of them, is a recovering addict who desires nothing more than to tell others about Jesus. She said, "I would be afraid, but if God told me to go on a mission trip, I'd get on an airplane because my God would be there with me."

    I wanted to dance in joy! Something significant was taking place. For no matter how small the adventures might seem to others, God could do big things with each of us.

    Have the words of others or your past put limitations on you?

    Have they caused you to fear, or to think that Jesus can't use you because of your story?

    Does it seem too hard, or too big?

    "You do it."

    That's Jesus, putting His vote of confidence in you, knowing He can supply all your needs.

    It's a call to move from walking in the natural to believing in the supernatural. To learn things about yourself that God has known all along, and to watch the miracle of faith unfold in your heart.

    Father, thank You for seeing beyond my fears, beyond my broken places, to the real me underneath. You see a strong woman of faith and a trusting child of God. Today, I trust that I can do all things through You, and with Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 3:20, "Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." (NLT)

    Isaiah 43:18, "Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write down five things that describe you as a woman of faith, separate from your past or the negative words of others.

    Take those words and hold them up in prayer. Ask God what He can do with what you have to offer.

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • When a Thief Steals Your Heart

    Posted on April 23, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds." Titus 2:14 (NLT)

    Melissa was walking home from the bus stop and stopped to talk to the friendly neighbor who always sat in his driveway. He waved her over and invited her to follow him into his garage for a piece of candy.

    She walked into the garage an innocent, trusting girl, but she walked out broken.

    As she grew up, Melissa spent many years trying to heal herself. Over time she perfected the art of wearing a mask, while on the inside she felt unworthy of any good thing. She often wondered if she'd ever be whole.

    Perhaps, like Melissa, a thief stole a piece of your heart. You might have even wondered if God cared that it happened. God does care and to prove it, Titus 2:14 tells us Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice: "He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds."

    In this verse, the apostle Paul describes the death of Jesus as an offering. It was given for those who couldn't make it themselves. Jesus gave His life willingly and to free us from every kind of sin.

    We often give thanks for His sacrifice that removed the debt of our sin. But there is more. Jesus took our sins, but that same act freed us from the effect of others' sins upon our hearts and lives.

    Let that soak into the wounded places for a moment.

    A thief may have tried to steal away your heart, but you aren't destined to be marked by that person's sin. Hurtful touch no longer defines you, for Jesus' touch brings you from death to life. From old to new.

    Because of His sacrifice, this becomes your truth, your new legacy:

    You are beautiful, not because of what you have to give, but because of whose you are.

    You have value, not because of what someone wants from you, but because of what has always been inside of you.

    You are in the process of restoration, and you have purpose because of Christ's love.

    Healing is a transformative process, peeling away one layer at a time. That process begins as we accept that Jesus boldly walked into the den of a thief on our behalf and reclaimed what was His own. That act took the damage inflicted on your soul and carried the burden you were never intended to bear.

    And what happened to that little girl, Melissa? After years of trying to fix herself and hiding her hurt, she asked Jesus to touch the broken places. Today Melissa Taylor is a mom, a wife and a woman who finds joy in pouring out God's hope to others.

    She leads thousands of women across the world in online Bible studies through Proverbs 31 Ministries. If you were to ask Melissa who she is, she would say she doesn't see herself as a woman marked by a thief, but a woman reclaimed and restored by her Savior.

    Father, You see who I am, ready to burst forth because of Your sacrifice. Thank You for touching my heart and my thoughts in a way that is holy and restorative. Thank You for taking away the mark of others' sins upon my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Suzie Eller’s latest book speaks to this topic of healing. Click here to order your copy of The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.

    Visit Suzie's blog for a giveaway of her book, The Mended Heart: God's Healing for Your Broken Places. Also on her blog are an online study and the first chapter of The Mended Heart.

    Would you like to bring Suzie Eller to your church? Click here to find out more about considering Suzie as your next retreat/keynote speaker.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Read Isaiah 64:8.

    Jesus never saw a single person as too damaged or broken. How do you believe God, the One who created you, sees you? What might His vision for you be?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 20:28, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." (NLT)

    Hebrews 7:25, "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Jesus Mourns With You

    Posted on March 20, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "Jesus wept." John 11:35 (NIV)

    Colorful balloons and gerbera daisies filled the stage. Amber had asked everyone to wear something bright and cheerful — something that would have made her feisty, beautiful 8-year-old daughter happy had she been there.

    But Callie wasn't there. When this precious girl died, a piece of Amber's heart went with her. Some days, Amber went to bed amazed she had made it through another day.

    Well-meaning people told her to move on or to be grateful for the time she had with Callie. But the more she pushed her grief down, the more it came out in places she didn't want it to, and in ways that she didn't understand or expect.

    The Bible tells of others who grieved this deeply. In John 11, we are told Martha and Mary deeply mourned the loss of their brother, Lazarus. Four days had passed, and they learn that Jesus and the disciples approached the city gates.

    Martha rushed to meet Jesus. Mary did not.

    It's significant that Mary did not immediately come to Jesus. Mary is the one who had sat at Jesus' feet, capturing every word. Mary is the one who loved Jesus as a brother, but revered Him as Lord.

    Though Scripture doesn't share specifically why Mary initially remained behind, it does paint a picture of her state of mind. As Mary finally approached Jesus, she fell at His feet. There, she held up her questions, her doubt and her grief with open hands.

    And the Bible tells us, Jesus wept.

    One commentary describes this response to Mary as an "expression of the Divine in contrast to the human spirit." Jesus was so moved by the depths of sorrow from Mary and the others gathered, that the heart of God reached from heaven to weep with them.

    Not long after His encounter with Mary, Jesus experienced a sorrow greater than anyone has ever known. In Isaiah 53:4 it was foretold, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (KJV). Heartache was an intimate companion to Christ's suffering on the cross.

    As Jesus wept, He understood the weight of Mary's grief. He didn't tell her to move on. Or that she shouldn't feel this way. Instead, Jesus offered inner peace for inner anguish as He mourned alongside her.

    Perhaps today you understand Amber's pain. You desire to live whole, but you live with untended grief.

    May I share comforting news? In the presence of Jesus, you don't have to numb it, escape from it or push it down. Your heavenly Father requires none of these. Just as Jesus welcomed Mary, He beckons you to come to a safe place, where your Savior is not afraid of sorrow. This safe place is a haven where the mending of your heart begins, as you are invited to express your grief with the One who was wounded and broken, and who carried your heartache upon Himself on the cross.

    It's been two years since Callie left this earth. Amber said her healing began the day she felt free to mourn her sweet Callie with the Savior who loved her best. Does she still miss her? Certainly, for Callie is a part of Amber's heart that will live on. But on those days when Amber meets grief — and those days will happen — she knows there is a safe place as she throws open the door to her heart and invites Christ in.

    Loving Savior, who promises never to leave me or forsake me, who understands the weight I've carried, today I invite You to weep with me. I feel joy that I can come to You with open hands to receive renewed life in the midst of my grief. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Designate a specific time and place to express your grief with Jesus. Write your thoughts in a journal.

    Each week, go back and note the times you sensed God with you.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (NLT)

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Jesus Came to Heal Hurting Hearts

    Posted on February 21, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me. He has put His hand on Me to preach the Good News to poor people. He has sent Me to heal those with a sad heart. He has sent Me to tell those who are being held that they can go free. He has sent Me to make the blind to see and to free those who are held because of trouble." Luke 4:18 (NLV)

    "Why can't you get it together?"

    "If you would just try harder."

    Have you heard any of these statements? Maybe you've even said them to yourself.

    Perhaps those who stood on a hot hillside in Nazareth were asking themselves the same questions. Many tried hard to follow all the religious laws, but knew they fell short. Would Jesus give them more rules to follow? Imagine their surprise as Jesus spelled out His personal mission statement:

    I've come to open the eyes of the blind.

    I've come to set the prisoner free.

    I've come with good news for the poor in spirit.

    I've come to heal the brokenhearted.

    The crowd must have been shocked by His words, for they expected a warrior, not a heart surgeon. Jesus Himself was setting the record straight. He came so that we might be made whole ... through Him.

    For those who had been trying harder, striving more, it was a transforming message. They were accustomed to following rules or meeting expectations of man, rather than resting in the power of their almighty God.

    When I became a believer, I didn't understand Jesus' mission statement. I was dealing with untended brokenness and trying everything to fix myself. When I grasped the power of Luke 4:18, this truth changed me: The power of the cross is not found in what I do, but in what has already been done for me.

    Jesus didn't mean for us to do this alone. It's not our strength or power that will transform us. Yes, we make changes. Yes, we open our broken heart to His tender touch. Yes, we allow Him to move us in uncomfortable directions to discover new paths — and leave old ones behind. But we are in a partnership with God ... and He's bigger.

    I also discovered I didn't have to earn God's love. Maybe, like me, you thought God would love you one day, when you had it all together.

    Jesus' mission statement proclaims that He loves us today. With our baggage and hurting hearts. When we grasp that kind of love, it changes us. It compels us to return that love, and to trust Jesus from our hearts.

    This trust helps us listen for His voice. We sense when He is teaching or redirecting us. We weigh temptation in light of our love for our heavenly Father. This relationship helps us discover our "true selves, [our] child-of-God selves" (John 1:12, The Message).

    Last, Luke 4:18 reminded me that I didn't have to run away just because I felt broken.

    A hurting heart can send us running down paths we may regret, searching for something or someone to ease our pain. Jesus' mission statement invites us to stop running and rest in Him, expectant that our true selves will emerge with His healing touch.

    The truth of Luke 4:18 is ours today to hold close, for Jesus came to heal our hurting hearts.

    Dear Jesus, for the longest time I've been concentrating on my efforts, but today I expectantly rest in You. Thank You that the power of the cross is not in what I do, but in what has already been done for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Today, you read about what you don't have to do. You don't need to fix yourself, or earn God's love or run any more. In fact, the more you don't do these things, the more you live in Him. The more you don't do these things, the more you build a foundation of rest and trust. The more you don't do these things, the more joy you rediscover in your faith.

    What will you not do today?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 147:3, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (NIV)

    Psalm 34:18, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Finding Your Sweet Spot

    Posted on February 12, 2014 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    “There are different kinds of gifts. But it is the same Holy Spirit Who gives them. There are different kinds of work to be done for Him. But the work is for the same Lord." 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NLV)

    This past year I fell into the Pinterest frenzy. My Christmas gifts were wrapped in burlap, tied with twine and adorned with decorative pinecones and silver snowflakes.

    I repurposed a hutch, painting it creamy white with grey edging.

    I happily pinned new recipes, remedies and decorating ideas to my boards in hopes of one day seeing them come to life.

    Well, that is, until my daughter surveyed my work on the hutch. She walked around it, one time, then again, shaking her head. And in her honest way she said, "Mom, sometimes you just have to know what your sweet spot is ... and what it isn't."

    The hutch was a Pinterest fail. The paint was streaky. There were brown spots shining through, and not in the cool, distressed way like in the picture. My burlap presents were a hit, but the amount of time it took ... did it really make me happy? I love cooking, but lettuce wraps with hoisin sauce? They were so bad I wondered if I'd picked up "poison" sauce instead.

    There's nothing wrong with learning something new, and if your sweet spot is repurposing furniture and making your home beautiful, I love that about you. But we often spend a lot of time trying to be something we aren't.

    In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes the church (you and me) as multi-faceted and uniquely gifted. We were designed differently on purpose so that we can come together to make a whole.

    What is your sweet spot? How has God gifted you for His purposes?

    Apparently I'm not the next decorating diva, but I am still gifted. Here are a few of my sweet spots:

    • Sitting in my living room and writing words to encourage others.
    • Teaching the Bible and seeing it come to life in the heart of a woman.
    • Making a hearty meal and having people around my table.
    • Dancing in the living room with my grandbabies.

    God can use these sweet spots for His purposes. In a devotion like this. Or opening my home to study the Bible with friends. God uses my unique design when I invite a neighbor or friend for dinner and board games after.

    And my dancing with my grandbabies? I love to think this sweet spot matters as I plant the joy of the Lord in their tender little hearts.

    How has God formed and fashioned you? If it's hospitality and making a home beautiful, then there are people who will be touched by that gift. If it's humor and laughter, then someone needs to find that joy, too. If it's teaching, teach. If it's dancing in the living room with your babies, then dance away.

    And then, together, let's use those sweet spots to draw people to a God who loves them and is waiting to reveal their gifting, too.

    Dear Lord, I've often compared myself to others, or underestimate what You can do through me. Today I offer up those things I love the best, and ask that You show me creative ways that I can use them to impact others for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Brainstorm! Write down your sweet spots (those things you love or areas where you are naturally gifted), even if it seems insignificant.

    Then pray this prayer: God, I love You and I love {fill in the blank}. How can I use these two things to bring glory to You?

    Power Verses:
    Romans 12:6-8, "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." (NLT)

    © 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

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