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Author Archives: Suzie Eller

  • When You Have a Choice to Make


    "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)

    According to recent statistics, I made 5,000 decisions today. Seriously?

    Well, I made a decision to get out of bed. I made a choice to put on my tennis shoes and run at 6 a.m.

    I chose peanut butter Cheerios™ over oatmeal. I decided which bills to pay. What to make for dinner. Whether to answer a phone call. Which clothes to wear. Whether the plants needed watering or if they could wait another day. I chose to fill up the small car instead of the gas-guzzler.

    I may have made more than 5,000 decisions today!

    Some of our everyday choices are random, others weighty, but many of our decisions are choice points. Choice points are seemingly insignificant decisions yet they lead us in one direction or another.

    I choose whether to react in anger, or respond with understanding to my husband.

    I choose whether or not to create drama with a friend who hurt my feelings.

    I choose time with my Heavenly Father, or push that time to another day ... again.

    I choose whether or not to say those words that cause my child pain.

    Recently I was on a mission trip and the team was exhausted after nearly six days of intense travel. We had missed a train and stood on the platform in the moonlight. It was nearing midnight and cold and wet. Our next ministry event was early in the morning.

    The coordinator walked over. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I didn't mean for it to work out this way."

    There I stood with a choice to make.

    I could share my frustration. I could explain that my sleep tank was on empty. I could say nothing, while sighing with a martyred expression. Or I could choose to override my fatigued irritation and be gracious.

    As she waited for my reply, a gentle voice softly spoke to my heart: "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

    I knew it was definitely the leading of the Holy Spirit, just as Scripture promised. Yes, I was exhausted, but I reminded myself what a privilege it was to be there. Ease and comfort were not readily available to Jesus, and losing a little sleep was nothing in comparison to anything He went through. The Holy Spirit nudged me to recognize that everyone around me was just as tired as I was. He led me in the way to respond.

    "I'm fine," I said. "In fact it's been an amazing day and I can't wait to see what God does tomorrow."

    She grabbed me and pulled me in a huge hug. "Thank you, Suz."

    I wish I could say I handle every choice I have to make that way, but sometimes I fail and gripe, nit-pick, am critical and grouchy. It's my prayer that I'll remember how much my choices matter. You see, they don't just affect me; they affect those within the vicinity of my decisions.

    In the 5,000 decisions you make today, take a moment to pause before deciding. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance and counsel. And choose to follow as He leads the way.

    Dear Lord, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all my choices, and it makes me cranky. Today as I make my 5000 decisions, walk with me, remind me of how my choices affect others and help me follow Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond: Keep a journal this week of choice points. Note those that lead you in the wrong direction. Are there common themes?

    If you were overtired, how can you implement rest?

    If you were trying to live a packed life with your spiritual tank unfilled, will you stop and fill it up?

    Power Verses: Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (ESV)

    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • White As Snow


    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

    We were friends in youth group. That led to Saturdays at her house. Double dates. And slumber parties where we talked about boys and did each other's hair.

    But more than silly teen stuff, Michelle and I were among the few in the youth group who attended church with no family support. Consequently, we encouraged each other spiritually and often knelt and prayed together.

    A year after high school, sadly we lost touch. We moved to different cities. Married. Had children. Our lives no longer intersected.

    Until three decades later.

    Her message on Facebook caught me by surprise, and I couldn't wait to see her again. When we met she told me all that had transpired in thirty years, and my heart hurt for my friend.

    So much had taken place, beginning with college and the party scene. She met men who said they loved her, but hurt her instead. Those unhealthy relationships led to more than one marriage. She endured abuse, and eventually began to believe that somehow it was what she deserved.

    Bravely, she left the abusive men. She went back to school and secured a job, taking care of her children on her own.

    But there was still something missing inside of the heart of this woman. Though she had once found sanctuary in an altar at a small church, she wondered if she had strayed too far to find her way back. Did too many men, too many parties, too much sin stand between her and Jesus?

    In Psalm 51:7-9, the Psalmist confronted those same fears. It led to this prayer of repentance.

    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity" (NIV).

    Like the Psalmist, Michelle felt the sorrow of her sin and the path that had taken her so far from her once-vibrant relationship with God. But she also knew there was a place to find restoration.

    Not just to be forgiven, but to be restored, renewed, and to rejoice in Whose she was again.

    Michelle reached out for God's love saying, "I knew that I couldn't go back and try to fix the past. I could only make amends and claim the forgiveness that God had ready for me."

    Maybe you know of someone ... maybe you are that someone ... who believes you've gone too far.

    Repentance begins with sorrow or remorse over sin and leads to a change of direction. You turn away from your old life and turn toward God to accept His immense forgiveness. The burden of sin is removed as God cleanses you and takes your sin and replaces it with His righteousness.

    If this is you, return to the love of Jesus. Put the past behind you as you accept the complete forgiveness He freely offers. Don't wait one more moment. Your past may shape you, but it doesn't define you, and it certainly doesn't limit what God can do in and through you.

    Today Michelle is an example of what takes place when we are washed white as snow. She no longer feels ashamed or guilty for her past actions. A light heart and a joyful perspective have replaced these feelings. She volunteers in a rehabilitation home for women who have been abused or are homeless. Michelle delights when a woman opens her heart to receive God's cleansing and healing touch. She knows first-hand the hope and freedom that comes when anyone takes a U-turn back toward all God freely offers.

    Dear Jesus, it is no accident that I read this today. You are inviting me to change my direction and to run toward You for forgiveness. I do so freely and with joy. Thank You for washing me white as snow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Reflect and Respond: When God enters the picture, your past is reframed. How can your past story be used to encourage others to live free?

    Tell one person your story today.

    Power Verse: Matthew 9:6a, "But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Looking for God


    "Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!" 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)

    My granddaughter Elle is almost three. Recently we had a family event and Elle and her parents arrived before we did. It had been a few weeks since we had seen her, which is unusual. When we walked in the door, a wide smile filled her face and she ran into my arms.

    For the next several minutes Elle circled around the crowded room. Each time she made her way purposely back to me, placed both hands on my knees, looked me in the eye and said, "There you are!"

    It was as if Elle wanted me to know that, in the midst of a crowd, she delighted that I was in the room.

    I wonder if I show my Savior this same joy? I wonder if I seek Him like 1 Chronicles 16:11 teaches me to.

    In a crowded schedule, do I carve out time to find Him?

    The reality is that sometimes, if I am not intentional, my time with Him can get pushed to second or third place behind deadlines, bills to pay, errands to run, events to attend. And yet when I seek Him out and sit in His presence, I realize all over again how beautiful it is to worship Him, to feel the pleasure and love of a Heavenly Father.

    In my crowded thoughts, do I pause and say, "There You are!"

    Or do I let anxiety, anger, frustration, or worry take center stage, forgetting His promises of comfort, of strength, of peace in the midst of storms. Yes, He's there for He assures us that He is (Joshua 1:9; Romans 8:38-38; Hebrews 3:15). But do I ask Him to shine His Light on my troubled thoughts?

    In my crowded life, do I invite Him in to every area?

    Time with God is not confined to a prayer time or a few moments reading Scripture. Instead, we are invited to live and move and breathe in Him (Acts 17:28). That means that He is with us as we parent, as we go to work, as we reflect on a beautiful sunset, or as we comfort a friend. As believers, we don't just have to live. We live in Him, and He lives in us.

    Elle had many options that day. Aunts and uncles held out open arms. Toys and books were offered at every turn. Cousins gave her kisses.

    But she delighted in me instead. She didn't have to, for I love that little girl with every fiber of my being. But the fact that she loves me back with abandon is sheer joy for this grandma.

    How long has it been since you delighted in God? Or experienced His pleasure in your presence? He loves you; that we know for certain. But what if today you pushed aside crowded thoughts, a crowded schedule, and a crowded life to proclaim with delight, "There You are!"

    Dear Heavenly Father, I delight in You. Not for what I might receive, but simply because of Who You are to me. I love You with my heart, my soul, my mind. No matter the crowd I find myself in, with You is where I long to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    NIV Real Life Devotional Bible with devos from the Proverbs 31 Ministries team, including Suzie Eller.

    Reflect and Respond: Find a "There You are" moment in your thoughts or schedule today. Speak a word of praise or breathe a prayer of gratitude.

    How would things change if, instead of responding to situations with stress, doubt or worry, you looked for God in the moment? Instead of choosing these other things, decide to find the Lord and delight in Him in the middle of your moments today.

    Power Verse: Psalm 92:4, "You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • But Then I Let Go


    "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles." Isaiah 40:31a (NIV)

    I used to have a fear of heights. I think it has something to do with the fact that my dad held my little brother over the Grand Canyon when he was three, and I was 10. I completely panicked, thinking my brother would tumble over the side and be gone forever.

    Regardless of how it arrived, the fear was real.

    My son bought a zip lining package for two on sale so I could put a checkmark on my bucket list next to "get over fear of heights." When we arrived, I noticed several towers, zigzagging zip lines and people harnessed in a series of straps and buckles. My heart immediately went into overdrive when we were asked to climb a moderately high tower.

    The higher I climbed, the more my brain informed me that I was afraid. Yet I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Up, up, up!

    My son flew from one tower to the next with ease. Then I stepped up. The platform was tiny. One inch in front of me there was nothing between me and the ground, hundreds of feet below.

    I put my gloved hands on the zip line. Everything in me was screaming to turn around and go back to solid ground. But then I let go ...

    .... and it was exhilarating.

    I soared through the air and slid in semi-smoothly to the tower where my son fist-pumped in the air with a "Way to go, Mom!"

    I wish my fear of heights was the only challenge I've ever faced, but sometimes God asks me to do something that seems just as impossible. That happens when He leads me into the harder parts of my faith.

    That looks different for all of us, but for me it was to forgive those who had hurt me in my past. God was nudging me to soar, but in order to do that I had to let go and trust that He knew what was ahead.

    Perhaps His request goes against how we feel, or it just doesn't feel possible in the natural. But when we choose zip line faith, we learn to release or overcome things that might otherwise keep us trapped.

    Is zip line faith (going down the harder paths of obedience) easy? No, it might challenge you. It might take you way outside your comfort zone. It might even cause you to fall down a few times as you practice. But you do grow through it, sometimes in surprising ways.

    A few weeks after my zip lining experience I was in a high-rise hotel. I stepped out on to the balcony because I heard music below. Peering over the edge, I watched a wedding in process.

    And then it hit me. I wasn't afraid!

    Before I zip lined, I couldn't have stood near the edge of the balcony, and I definitely wouldn't have peered over to the scene beneath. Stepping off that ledge and soaring to the next tower helped me to overcome a fear I thought was too big to conquer.

    Maybe I'm not ready to bungee jump ... yet. But my zip line experience showed me that my fears, though valid, didn't have the power to hold me back forever.

    Whatever God is speaking into your heart today, are you willing to climb up, up, up as you follow Him into the harder (and freeing!) parts of zip line faith?

    Dear Jesus, my heart longs to soar. Thank You in advance for walking with me through the tougher parts of my faith, and for dancing in celebration with me as I climb over that mountain to soar to the other side! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible with devos from the Proverbs 31 Ministries team, including Suzie Eller.

    Reflect and Respond: Write down the one thing you feel God is asking you to do.

    1. Does it line up with Scripture? 2. What is your greatest fear about this assignment? 3. What might you gain if you take a step of faith?

    Power Verses: Ephesians 3:16, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Can't Forgive Myself


    "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

    The workshop had ended. Most of the moms had left the room while she fidgeted with her bag. I could see she wanted to flee, but willpower and a great desire for freedom kept her feet rooted to the floor.

    We sat down and she blurted out: "I've been told for years that when I forgive myself I'll be free. But I can't do it. I've tried."

    I reached for her hands. "I've searched in Scripture. It's not there."

    She looked up in surprise. "What do you mean?"

    Forgiving ourselves. It's not there.

    There are a multitude of scriptures that show us how to offer forgiveness to others, as well as how to receive it. But none that asks us to remove the burdens from our own hearts.

    Thankfully 1 John 1:9 offers a promise. When we hold up our sin before God, He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins.

    Faithful to us? Yes, to us. But also faithful to who He is, and His plan for our forgiveness through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as He bore our sin.

    But it doesn't end there. You see, when we are forgiven, our sin is reframed. Yes it still happened. But God removes it from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We are seen as covered in mercy, spared from the punishment that was ours to take.

    My new friend had been trying for years to do a job that wasn't hers. By trying and failing, she saw herself as shameful. That shame affected every aspect of her life: her relationships, her role as mom, and her faith as she tried to please God through service or acts, all the while seeing herself as "less than."

    I asked her if she was willing to allow Christ to do what she had been unable to do for nearly a decade. Rather than forgive herself, would she accept the gift of forgiveness Christ so willingly offers?

    Later that week I received an email from her. She shared that when she walked through the front door that night, her husband said, "Something's different about you."

    It's been nearly three months since this young mom stopped trying to forgive herself, and scooped up the generous gift of God's grace instead. She is still surprised by the transformation. But more so, her family believes she found a miracle.

    One that had been waiting for her all along.

    Perhaps you carry shame. You've been trying to forgive yourself, but realize you can't undo the past. You've said you're sorry. You have changed. But the guilt or burden remains.

    Hand that shame to your Savior today, and allow Him to hurl it as far as the east is from the west.

    It's not your burden to carry any longer.

    Dear Jesus, You paid a heavy price for my sin, and yet I am still carrying it as if it is mine to absolve. I have said I am sorry. I am changing. But this burden isn't mine to carry. Today I joyfully receive Your gift of mercy and grace, and see myself as washed clean because of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

    Reflect and Respond: Imagine a child carrying a large boulder on his back. There's a sign on the side of the road that says, "Place all boulders here," but he passes it day after day, the burden weighing heavier and heavier. What would you say to that child?

    Today, speak to your own heart as a child of God through these scriptures.

    • God desires to carry my burden (Psalm 55:22) • My Savior paid a dear price for my shame (Colossians 1:13-14) • God set me free, so today I will be free (Galatians 5:1) • My God sees me through His love, so I will see myself that way, too (Psalm 103:12)

    Power Verses: Psalm103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." (NAS)

    Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Live Where You Live


    "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11 (NIV)

    The spring air was crisp. Just right for a hike up Sparrow Hawk Mountain. Richard and I stood at the edge of the cliff, watching the winding river meander along the banks below.

    When we moved here three years ago, this quickly became one of our favorite places to hike. "It's so beautiful," I said. And then with a sigh, "I wonder if we'll live here after you graduate."

    Richard took me by my hands. "We live here now, Suzie," he said. "Don't you see that?"

    No, honestly I didn't. We had moved to this small college community when Richard went back to school to receive his master's degree. We stayed on as he earned the 3,000 hours needed for his license. I saw our move as temporary, and even though it had been three years, I mentally lived in limbo.

    I thought about our next move often. Where would God take us? Would it be somewhere new? Perhaps God would lead us back to our old community. I dreamed and planned it out over and over again. Not knowing where we'd end up made me discontented. I didn't feel settled or at peace.

    That day, after coming down the mountain, I wrote in big letters in my journal: Live where you live.

    It was time to put down roots right where I was, and be content in the present, regardless of where God might take us in the future.

    Paul the apostle never knew exactly where he might be next. He landed in extremely difficult situations for a few days, and at other times lingered with new friends. Sometimes the doors opened immediately for his next move, and at other times he waited for years. But Paul was content where he was, wherever that might be, in whatever situation he found himself.

    What was his secret? One commentary shares it like this:

    Paul learned to leave it to others if they would, to be discontented. But he, on his part, learned by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and the dealings of Providence (Hebrews 5:8), to be content in every state.*

    As I determined to "live where I live," rather than living with my thoughts and heart wrapped around a future I could not see, I began my days like this:

    Father, show me Your plan for today and help me accept it.

    God, let me not be so farsighted that I miss the miracles around me right now.

    Lord, help me to celebrate small gifts of this day.

    Slowly the door to contentment opened. I began to invest in the community I lived in, enjoyed the scenery even more, and developed relationships with those around me.

    It's been two years since our conversation in Sparrow Hawk. Richard and I found out this past month that we are moving. God did indeed open a door that will uproot us to a new state with a new church, new friends and new possibilities.

    I'm packing my house and preparing for the move, but just yesterday my neighbors dropped by with their girls.

    Trinity, who is six, showed me a turtle she had found. Macey, age two, climbed in the flower bed to peek at a purple-striped petunia.

    Yes, there are new adventures ahead, but today I celebrate the joy of having close neighbors, and am satisfied with sitting with a sweet toddler with a pretty petunia in her hair.

    Dear Jesus, You are the God of my future. You whispered plans in my heart, but the journey to that destination is just as important. Help me plant roots in today, and be content with what is in front of me as I trust You with tomorrow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Walk In Faith by Karen Ehman

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    Reflect and Respond: We often celebrate the greater events in our life, but today let's celebrate the smaller ones: A neighbor who is kind. A good meal. Laughter of a child. A beautiful sky.

    Breathe a prayer of thanksgiving as you celebrate each and every one of those gifts throughout the day.

    Power Verses: 1 Timothy 6:6-7, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." (NIV)

    * Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Php 4:11). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Her Hands


    "Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." 1 John 3:18 (NLT)

    She held out the soft white blanket scalloped in pink ribbon. "I'm not sure I want to give it to her," my mom said. The stitches were a bit looser than my mother's past handiwork, but I could see love in every crocheted inch.

    I held her hands in my own. Her once slender fingers were bent and swollen at the joints. I imagined her holding the crochet needles and weaving the yarn in and out for hours and days, until the blanket was complete. It is an heirloom for her first great-grandchild, one created with pain and love.

    I think I take my mother's hands for granted. They have caressed my cheek. They have made me wear a coat (even when I protested that I was a mother of three grown children). They have dialed the cell phone she loves, and hates, so she could talk to "her Suzie." Her hands have penned cards that showed up in my mailbox saying "I love you."

    An old 70s song says, "Time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future." There is truth in those lyrics. I see the passage of time in my mother's hands. I also see it as moments pass into hours and then into days in a whirl.

    Life is always busy, like this month when the white board on the refrigerator lists church events, dentist visits, showers and weddings and graduations, as well as other details like pay the bills, mow the lawn, clean the house.

    Recently I realized that my mother was moving further down on that list. A week passed. A month flew by. The phone calls came. "Hey, Suz, just calling to say I miss you."

    One day I received an email from a friend. Her mom was sick. For the next few weeks I prayed, reading every update. One night I read the email from my beautiful friend that expressed her love for her ailing mom, and prayer for strength to say goodbye.

    Suddenly it hit me how little time I actually devoted to my mother. I looked at the email and wept. The next day I made a date with my mom. She was like a girl; she laughed on the phone as we made plans.

    My mom and I had the best time at lunch and I was inspired to make a point to love on her more frequently. So I came up with "Love Points" which include a few things I try to do each week.

    Write. Leave a note in an unexpected place.

    Give. Spend time with no strings attached (help work in the garden, go to lunch, sit and chat).

    Touch. Especially if your loved one is older or widowed and they are not touched in positive ways any more. (Massage their hands. Hold their hand. Touch their face or hair.)

    Affirm. Tell them one encouraging thing that you believe about them.

    I pray I stay committed to showing my mom love. And that I have many more opportunities to hang out with her. But more than that I pray I don't take her for granted.

    Life most likely won't slow down. But as I devote time to worthwhile endeavors, I don't want to forget that in the grand scheme of things, holding my mother's hands is one of the most priceless investments I'll ever make.

    Dear Lord, thank You for my loved ones. Life gets so hectic, and sometimes it's hard to slow down long enough to show them how much I care. Please help me to slow down and recognize what is of little value so that I can invest in people with immense value. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: Homespun Memories for the Heart by Karen Ehman

    Reflect and Respond: Is there someone you need to spend more time with? Make plans today to do so.

    Share this devotion with your siblings or friends as a reminder to them to spend time with their parents too.

    Power Verses: John 15:12b, "Love each other in the same way I have loved you." (NLT)

    Matthew 6:21, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Entertaining 'Those' Thoughts


    "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

    Elle's tiny hands hold tight as we fly high on the swing. Every time I visit, she runs into my arms, glad to see her grandmother but more excited about the possibility of walking to the playground.

    There's another playground I used to visit, one where I spent countless hours. It was the playground of my thoughts.

    When someone made me angry or when conflict arose and it hurt my heart, that's where I ran to entertain 'those' thoughts. I escaped there to think about all the things I should have said. Swinging high and then low, I reminded myself of how right I was and how wrong they were. Words or situations replayed, just like a child going in circles on a merry go round.

    In this playground I didn't have to deal with conflict in a healthy way, or speak the truth when it was needed. I didn't have to admit my own errors, because there I was always the hero.

    One day I sensed God asking me to leave the playground. Like Elle, I wasn't ready to go. But He took me by the hand and led me away to a place of grace for those who hurt me with their words, reminding me that we all stumble.

    God brought me to a place of well-being where I recognized that conflict takes place even in the healthiest of relationships.

    And He guided me to a place of letting go of those things I could not change, so that I could fully embrace those that I could.

    There were days I wanted to go back to my playground, but each time I saw a closed sign on the gate.

    Not for you, My daughter.

    Instead of hanging out in an imaginary place where I could avoid conflict and hurt, I embraced real life, with real people and real struggles. Although it took work to process hard situations, with each one I grew. It involved loving the people around me, enjoying each new day, and releasing hurtful events and people from the past.

    Our Heavenly Father knows when we struggle with our thoughts. They can be a place where we work through issues with wisdom and care, or a playground where bitterness sprouts and anger is fed.

    Is He taking you by the hand, like He did me so many years ago? If so, I celebrate with you. For He's leading you into growth.

    My prayer is that you'll swing high in day-to-day joys of real life as a strong woman of faith.

    Dear Jesus, I can spend hours in my angry thoughts, or thinking I'm the hero. Sometimes in my mind I put others in their place. That's a trap of the enemy. Today I shut the gate to the playground of unhealthy thoughts, with Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzie Eller

    Reflect and Respond: What thoughts are you struggling with today?

    Commit to leaving the playground of your mind. Choose a verse to meditate on, instead of negative thoughts.

    Power Verses: 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." (NIV)

    Ephesians 4:26, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger," (ESV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Cranky Pants


    "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all." 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)


    I thrashed the covers in the small bed, punching my pillow, trying to ignore the green numbers on the clock that flashed 2:00 a.m.

    Recovering from a recent illness, I was exhausted. My laptop was evidently just as sick as I was, for when I booted it up, numbers and scrolling messages exploded on the screen.

    This normally happy girl was grouchy ... overly sensitive ... emotional.

    Earlier that evening I had been quiet. if I opened my mouth, I wouldn't be happy with what came out. The last thing I wanted on this ministry trip was to be the girl with her cranky pants on. Yet here I was wearing them with a capital "C."

    As the numbers flashed to 2:30 and then to 3:00, I wrestled with God.

    Lord, what is wrong with me?

    Father, how can you use a girl who's wearing such a giant set of cranky pants?

    That's when the scripture came to mind. Soft. Gentle. Like a whisper it played through my thoughts, filtering down to my heart:

    "The LORD your God is in your midst..." (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV).

    Right then. Right there. He was with me.

    "He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love." (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV).

    My spiraling feelings. My fatigued brain and body. He saw them all, and yet His gladness poured over me. He would quiet my whirling thoughts with His love.

    "He will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV).

    That's when the tears came, because right there, even in my cranky pants, God saw me and was singing a majestic lullaby over His daughter.

    I curled up in the blanket, closed my eyes, and sleep finally came.

    Maybe today you're wearing your cranky pants with a capital "C." You're out of sorts. You're biting your tongue to keep harsh words away from those you love. You're tired spiritually or emotionally, or maybe it's been a long time since you've rested physically.

    He sees you. He sees all of you. Not just the cranky pants, but your heart, and that you want nothing more than to be yourself again.

    My prayer is that you hear that lullaby gently playing. That you sense Him drawing you close. I pray that you'll remember that we all have those days when we are out of sorts, or when everything seems to be going wrong. But most of all, I pray that you remember that our Heavenly Father doesn't turn away from us in those moments, but brings peace to our troubled thoughts when we hold up them up with absolute honesty.

    That next day I woke up tired physically, but rested on the inside, and my cranky pants were nowhere in sight.

    I know they'll pop up again. Life does that sometimes. But when it does, rather than hide from God, I'm going to run to Him instead ... cranky pants, and all.

    Dear Father, some days I stay away from You because I am ashamed of my feelings. Thank You that I can rest in Your grace as You pour out peace and quiet my thoughts with Your peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Unglued Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond: God's grace is needed on good and bad days, but it's often sought only on those days when you feel worthy and approved. But whose approval are you looking for? Yours, or the One who knows you best?

    When you have your next cranky pants day, ask this question: Will I live today ACCUSED or will I be RESCUED by my Heavenly Father who promises to quiet me with His love?

    Power Verses: Zephaniah 3:17, "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (ESV)

    Philippians 4:6-7, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Change a Life


    "Love is patient. Love is kind." 1 Corinthians 13:4a (NIV)

    I knew what it was like to sit on a curb and weep, wanting to run away. I knew how it felt to be locked in a closet by an older sibling. I knew what it meant to feel fear as a parent grabbed a gun and threatened suicide.

    But when I became a Christian at 15, I didn't know anything about what it meant to live a Christian life.

    I didn't understand Jesus or His love. Although far from mature in my faith, the Christian adults in my small church began to show me what His love looked like. Without knowing my story, they still reached out and touched my life.

    I was drawn in to my faith by the presence of God and His spirit, but grew in faith because of caring and well-meaning people. They taught Sunday school and youth group. They shushed us when we talked too loud during service. They herded teens onto the bus every Sunday afternoon so we could go to the nursing homes and sing, letting wrinkled hands rest on our smooth ones.

    Looking back, I know I was trying at times. Like the time I kissed the boy on the youth group hayride. Or when I shared my testimony for the first time and uttered a curse word in the middle. I ran out of the room in embarrassment, but a woman found me outside. "Maybe you could say it a different way next time," she said with a smile. Her hug made me feel safe and accepted.

    Maybe there's a behaviorally challenged teen in your world. They act on impulse. They say things that make you cringe. They run hard after God, but fall just as hard in the process.

    And yet you keep loving them, teaching them about God, and showing them their life matters to God. Maybe their home life is a secret, like mine was. Lots of teens need spiritual moms and dads because the only way they'll see Jesus is through you.

    A few years ago I visited my old church. When I thanked a couple, now in their golden years, for all that they had done, the response was, "We didn't do that much. We just loved you kids."

    What they didn't realize is their love helped that sometimes annoying teen with a very hard home life grow up to be a good mom, a loving wife, and a grandma whose life is wrapped in Jesus. I want them to know that every word I write, every message I speak, every time I kneel and pray with someone to know Christ, it is linked back to that group of faithful adults who loved me right where I was. Their patient example showed me Jesus. It inspired me to work with teens for years and to open our home to teens in crisis.

    One day in eternity I know they'll understand. But for now I want them to know they transformed my life.

    I'll always be grateful. Maybe you're grateful to someone too.

    Dear Lord, help me to be faithful to show Your love to a teen or a child who needs it. Help me to be patient and serve as an example. We don't know every story but You do. Thank You that small acts of faithfulness can be multiplied in Your hands. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


    Reflect and Respond: To impact a teen, you can:

    • Open your home to your children's friends for a fun night. • Pay a teen's way to youth camp or a mission trip (if parents aren't involved, they normally don't get to go) • Ask your youth pastor if there is an at-risk teen in the church. Commit to pray for them daily.

    Power Verses: 1 Timothy 2:1, "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them." (NLT)

    1 Corinthians 13:13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

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

Our heartbeat is to help orphans and widows in need, as our Father calls us to do.
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