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Family Christian

  • God, I'm Worn Out

    Posted on August 19, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." Psalm 142:3 (NLT)

    Have you ever had one of those late night come-to-Jesus moments where the weight of regret lays heavy across your chest?

    For me, it usually happens because in the hectic pace of the day, I blew up at one of my kids, I brushed past a moment of connection with someone God put in my path, or I rushed through all the moments without stopping to enjoy any of them.

    I've discovered a great source of stress, distraction and exhaustion in my life. I say yes to too many things. I take on too many good things, which causes me to miss my best things. It's so hard to say no and let go of opportunities that come my way. But if I don't learn the gift of release, I'll wrestle with a lack of peace.

    I saw this visibly a few years ago when I traveled to visit a friend. As soon as she picked me up from the airport and we started driving, I saw the fallout from the storm she'd tried to describe. A massive 20-inch snow in the middle of fall.

    But it wasn't the amount of snow still on the ground, or the snowmen proudly standing that grabbed my attention.

    It was the broken trees. The branches were piled everywhere.

    House after house. All down the street. Disastrous piles of limbs — big piles of trees — all still clinging to the leaves that hadn't dropped yet. And because the leaves hadn't dropped, the trees broke.

    That's what happens when a snow comes early. The trees weren't designed to face snow before releasing their leaves. They weren't made to carry more than they should. And neither are we.

    I know the weight of carrying more than I should. And usually it's because I've refused to release something before taking on something else. If I want to choose a Best Yes, it's crucial I make room for it first.

    Otherwise, a Best Yes can quickly become a stressed yes. And a stressed yes is like snow on a tree that refuses to release its leaves. It causes cracks and breaks at our core.

    If we refuse to release before we add, we will get overloaded.

    We see how refusing to release gets people in trouble all throughout the stories in Scripture.

    Eve refused to release the forbidden fruit. And because she became hyperfocused on that one thing, she missed out on the best things in paradise.

    Esau refused to release his urgent need for some stew. And because he became hyperfocused on eating that soup, he missed out on his birthright.

    Moses refused to release his fear that just speaking to the rock as God commanded wouldn't actually bring forth water. And because he struck the rock twice, he missed out on entering the Promised Land.

    Each of these people paid a high price for their refusals to release — to let go of their ways so they could walk in the amazing way of God.

    It wasn't God's desire for any of these people to suffer the consequences they did. Each of us has a free will, which means we have the freedom to make choices.

    God tells us the right way to go, but we have to make the choice to do so. Choices and consequences come in package deals. When we make a choice, we ignite the consequences that can come along with it.

    It was true for Eve, Esau and Moses. And it's true for you and me. Refusing to release often means refusing to have peace. I trade my peace for a weight of regret.

    Release is a gift to a woman weighed down, grasping her leaves in the midst of a snowstorm, so desperate for help. She can feel the twinges and hear the creaking sounds of a splitting break about to happen.

    She knows she can't take much more. She remembers Psalm 142:3, "When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." Tears well up in her upturned, pleading eyes. "God help me. It's all too much. I'm tired and frustrated and so very worn out."

    The wind whips past her, trailing a whispered, "R-e-l-e-a-s-e." She must listen or she will break. Her tree needs to be stripped and prepared for winter. But she can't embrace winter until she lets go of fall. Like a tree, a woman can't carry the weight of two seasons simultaneously. In the violent struggle of trying, she'll miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.

    I think sometimes I'm resistant to release because I fear missing out. But, in an effort to hold on to too much, I wind up stressed, exhausted and at my breaking point.

    Release brings with it the gift of peace. There are some opportunities I need to decline today. There are some things I need to say no to in this current season. There are good things I need to let go of so I can make room for the best things. Then and only then can my beautiful, bare winter branch receive its snow. When we release in peace, we signal we're now ready to receive.

    Receive what's next. Receive what's best. Receive what's meant for this season, right now.

    I don't know what you have to release right now. But I suspect you know. Just like I do in a few areas of my life.

    So let's release. With release comes more peace. I see that now. I believe that now. And soon, I pray you will too.

    Dear Lord, only You can help me with this release. My heart seeks to obey You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What do you feel like you need to release? Offer this thing up to the Lord in prayer and ask for wisdom, discernment, and direction.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Peace I leave with you

    Posted on August 18, 2014 by Family Christian

    John 14:27-Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    Storytelling is something I really enjoy. I hope you enjoy my short feature.
    with god

    Gazing out my window I see the slight movement of the leaves as they dance back and forth upon their branches. The sun is shining but that slight breeze causing the leaves to sway back and forth is providing the perfect sense of relief. It was a stressful day and all I could think about were the tasks at hand and the obstacles I was to overcome. Overwhelmed with the stress of the unknown. Fear was setting in, but that tiny brisk breeze blowing in through my window was enough…enough to relax me for just a moment. A moment long enough to take my mind off of the fears…the unknown.

    Suddenly I was starting to see things in a different light. My mind was turning and as the light shown in through the window onto the wall in front of me I knew…I knew there was a light at the end of my dark tunnel. At that very moment it hit me that I was no longer in control of my situation, I never really was to begin with. How quickly we forget that we are not in control. How quickly we forget that even when it’s dark and all doors seem to be closing, there is always a bright light. We just need to wait in the hallway and open that door when the time is right!

    But how do I know when the time is right? How do I know when I’m going to feel that peace, that sweet peace that overcomes my body and leaves me with the most serene and calm feeling? When will I be overcome by peace? And then my mind started to wonder…

    But it didn’t take long for that breeze to sweep in through my window. It catches my attention and leaves me thinking…wondering…mind in motion…

    In an instant…a sudden instant, my fears, my worries…they seem to disappear, because it is in that instant that I realize I haven’t truly given my worries to God. For had I given my worries to God I wouldn’t be struggling to understand the things that just don’t make sense. And in that moment I hit my knees and I was overcome with peace…sweet peace.

    When life is just to hard to stand…kneel.

    I pray that you find that peace. I pray that you are overcome with a peace and understanding. I pray that you can be the bright light to others that are struggling with finding their peace.

    John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

    This post was written by Mandee Suchland. Mandee is a very busy woman! She has 5 BOYS and is writer and owner of the websitmee www.raisingmy5sons.com, a site all about Mandee's life as the only female in a house full of males. She says life is Crazy, Hectic and LOUD, but it's always full of love and laughter and she wouldn't have it any other way. As if that isn't enough to keep her busy, Mandee is also the owner of www.sheblogsit.com, a site where she shows a little more of her writing talents and shares her faith with others.

     


    This post was posted in Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Peace, Parenting, guest blogger, moms

  • Finding Peace as a Christian Artist

    Posted on August 16, 2014 by Family Christian

    Chelsea Kops from Brian and Chelsea

    I remember it distinctly-- the song “One of Us” by Joan Osborne softly played on the radio in my mom's car. My interest peaked as I listened to the words “what if God was one of us?”

    My version of Jesus was a perfect man wearing iridescent clothing, floating in the sky and shaking his head at my life decisions. Yet, these lyrics described a different Jesus-- someone who understood my pain, who could relate to me, and maybe even talk to me.

    At that time, I rejected the idea of Christianity, avoiding Christian music at all costs. Oddly enough, the secular-- even controversial-- song, “One of Us” still lingered in the back of my mind, along with the idea of a loving Jesus. Music was especially close to my heart since I had just started writing songs. As the years rolled by, my music evolved with it.

    Then at age 19, I gave my life to Christ. I began listening to Christian music non-stop to fuel up and draw close to God. That was about the time I ran into a dilemma-- now that I was a Christian, was I supposed to write Christian music?

    I tried over and over again to write a “Christian song”, but it usually felt unnatural and forced. My style of writing had always been metaphorical and illustrative, where the listener could derive their own interpretation and personally connect with the music.

    Every time I wrote a “Christian song”, I felt like I was robbing the song of its true story by spelling out how the reader should think and feel. I was living passionately for God, but I felt guilty every time I wrote a song that didn't explicitly say “God” or “Jesus” in it.

    Then God opened my mind.

    I took a break from songwriting and He showed me how limitless He really was. I began hearing him in songs that I once considered “secular”. I heard him in the quiet melodies of an acoustic guitar, in the gut-wrenchingly honest words of a broken-hearted songwriter, and even in the soaring harmony of a symphony.

    I realized that God is everywhere-- he's in every type of music, whether it's in the “Christian” genre or not.

    That revelation helped me reconcile my faith with my voice as an artist. I let God pour through my songwriting, without any fear or inhibitions getting in the way. As a result, I finally have peace as a Christian artist.

    For more about Brian and Chelsea, visit: brianandchelseamusic.com


    This post was posted in Music, Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Music, Christian Music, guest blogger, signing, song writing

  • My Hidden Tattoos

    Posted on August 15, 2014 by Leah DiPascal

    Leah Dipascal

    " ... the LORD's declaration. 'I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.'" Jeremiah 31:33b (HCSB)

    I didn't mean to stare, but I couldn't help it.

    After exchanging a quick smile, she continued placing grocery bags into her cart, while my eyes glanced back at her arms.

    Tattoos covered every inch of skin from her tiny shoulders to her delicate wrists.

    Images of hearts, religious symbols, quotes and names of those I imagined she loved over the years. Woven together in a tapestry of flesh and ink.

    Some of the designs had faded with time, while others popped with fresh, bold colors. Forever inscribed with permanent ink from a tattoo machine.

    It was obvious she had a passion for art ... and a relationship with a trusted tattoo artist.

    If I ever wanted to get a tattoo, how could I possibly decide on one design? I thought to myself.

    As she gathered her things and left the store, I wondered about the sting of the tattoo gun and how it must have hurt.

    Lord, if I chose to go through the pain, where should my special tattoo be placed?

    To my surprise, today's key verse from Jeremiah immediately came to mind:

    "I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people."

    As a grin emerged from my soul, I whispered to Him, Thank You, Lord, as I pictured my heart covered with colorful tattoos.

    Inscribed Scriptures placed ever so carefully with great detail. Engraved instructions written by the holy finger of my Heavenly Father.

    Some had faded over the years. Weathered by life's trials.

    Others were stained with bold, fresh colors. Some were recently tattooed as I had claimed new promises.

    It was a fresh perspective right there in the grocery checkout line! Something totally unexpected, but wonderful at the same time. A teachable moment. His heart connecting with mine.

    Originally, God's teachings were written on tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18) and scrolls made from parchment or papyrus (Jeremiah 36:2). This was established under the old covenant.

    But as believers under the new covenant, God has chosen to place His Word on our hearts, at the very center of our being, making it familiar and readily available to us. He carefully positions His promises over our hearts to protect our emotions, desires and perceptions of ourselves and others.

    As life moves on and years go by, I long for the Master Artist to continue etching His Word on my heart until every inch is covered. Inside and out. I hope you do, too.

    Although these special tattoos aren't visible for everyone to see, I know they are there and that's what is most important to me.

    I can't wait to see my tattooed heart when I get to heaven one day. As I kneel before God and if I dare to ask, "Lord, do You have a tattoo?" I won't be surprised if He reaches out, and there in the palm of His hand, my name beautifully inscribed for all of eternity. A tattoo, of sorts, that will never fade away or be removed.

    "Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm." (Isaiah 49:15b-16, TLB)

    Lord, Thank You for placing Your Word on my heart so that it's always available to me. When life is difficult and nothing seems to go right, help me remember You are near and Your promises are true. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 119:11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (NIV)

    2 Corinthians 3:3, "And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you have a favorite Scripture verse? Is it one you've memorized recently or have you known it for a long time? Why not challenge yourself to discover a new favorite verse this week?

    How do you feel knowing God has written His Word on your heart? What words come to mind? Take a minute to thank Him and make a list of things you're grateful for today.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • The Two Most Powerful Words

    Posted on August 14, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" Matthew 3:17 (NIV)

    Not too long ago, I stood at the sink trying to ease the stabbing feeling of stress. I had so much pulling at me.

    I found myself rushing my husband in conversation. Rushing my kids out the door. Rushing to the next thing and then the next. Rushing to make dinner and then rushing my people through dinner.

    I had set my life to the rhythm of rush.

    Exhaustion gnawed deep places in my heart, demanding me to slow down. But how? I've made my decisions and now my decisions have made me. Me — this shell of a woman caught in the rush of endless demands.

    Have you ever felt this same way? I suspect most of us have.

    I'm starting to realize the two most powerful words are yes and no. How I use them determines how I set my schedule.

    How I set my schedule determines how I live my life.

    How I live my life determines how I spend my soul.

    When I think about my decisions in light of spending my soul, it gives gravity to choosing more wisely. Each and every thing I say yes to sets the pace of my life.

    After all, when a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she'll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul. An overwhelmed schedule leads to an underwhelmed soul — a soul with a full calendar but no time to really engage in life.

    If you've found yourself caught in a stressful pace recently, I understand. I think so much of why my schedule gets overloaded is because I'm afraid of missing out or not measuring up.

    One quick look at social media, and it feels like everyone else is able to live at a breakneck pace with a smile. Their kids are accomplishing more than my kids. Their business pursuits seem more important than mine do. Their marriage seems more romantic. Their home is cleaner. And they even have time to invite dinner guests over to eat food from their garden. Huh?

    It's interesting to me the timing of God's words to Jesus in Matthew 3:17: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

    At that point, Jesus hadn't yet performed miracles, led the masses or gone to the cross. Yet, God was pleased with Jesus before all of those accomplishments.

    His Father was establishing Jesus' identity before He started His activities. Jesus heard God, believed God and remained unrushed. In Christ, God has given us a new identity (Romans 6:4). But, unlike Christ, we forget.

    We fill our days and our lives with so much activity that the only way to keep up with it all is to rush. And I'm discovering that the source of much of the stress in my life is this constant need to keep up. But what if I'm chasing the wrong desire?

    Do I really want my life to look more like others? Or to look more like God's best for me?

    God's best for me means engaging with life and the people in it. God's best for me means noticing divine invitations and feeling the freedom to say yes — a Best Yes to the Lord's assignments.

    If I really want an unrushed life, I must underwhelm my schedule so God has room to overwhelm my soul.

    Today, we must stand moment-by-moment in the reality of our identity before we resume our activity. Grasp this truth and rub it in deep: "You are my daughter, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased."

    Well pleased because of who you are, not because of what you do. Well pleased because of an unfathomable, unconditional love that's not earned, but simply given.

    Dear Lord, unrush me as I set my schedule today. I want to step out of the rush so I can embrace Your best for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Romans 6:4, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Ask yourself these questions: Do I really want my life to look more like other people's? Or to look more like God's best for me?

    Honestly assess your answer and pray that the Lord would show you how to pursue His plan.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • His Eye is on the Sparrow

    Posted on August 13, 2014 by Family Christian

    Kelly Minter

    "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV)

    When I moved to Nashville years ago in pursuit of a music career, I never imagined I would land here. Here, on the Amazon River, where the day starts when the sun rises, and morning comes early.

    The complexity of the jungle sent my head spinning — the fact that all this grows and thrives without Wall Street, smartphones and us! I felt appropriately small. I couldn't get over the countless symbiotic relationships: this creature surviving off that tree, relying on that seed, transported by those birds. It was astounding how everything hung in this delicate balance, how in the beautiful and mysterious words of Colossians 1:17b, in Christ "all things hold together."

    Often I think I'm the one holding things together. I get busy with appointments, planning dinner, waiting to hear if a friend's news from the doctor is hopeful. I fall into this mentality that keeping all these plates spinning is life, while the jungle life appeared so effortless.

    The gentle and imposing stature of the jungle convicted and humbled me, as I crunched atop its brush and beneath its canopy.

    How much more, God seemed to be saying, do I care for you if I care for the birds who have no barns, the flowers who needn't spin nor toil for their splendor? In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He points to His custody of nature, proving if He cares for the tiniest of creatures, certainly we don't have to worry about what we're going to eat or drink or wear, because He knows our needs.

    I don't rely on this truth enough, since food, garments and shelter are readily available where I come from — at least for most people. I knew God called His people to meet the needs of the poor, to tangibly demonstrate He knows their needs and intently cares to meet them. I believed this, but what I didn't know was how personal it would feel.

    While there, I visited a village school in Chita. With about 20 children ages 3 to 10 in the room, our program included singing, a puppet show and Bible story.

    When asked if anyone would like to come up for prayer, a 4-year-old boy named Yan leaped from his chair. Yan turned back to grab his mother's wrist, dragging her forward. "We need a house," he said matter-of-factly.

    I bowed my head, realizing I'd never prayed for God to provide someone with a house before. Sure, I'd prayed with friends to "find a house," but what I meant was they'd find a good house in a solid school district with low taxes ... maybe near a swimming pool, good church and a park. I didn't actually mean find a house.

    When it was time to say good-bye to the villagers in Chita, there stood Yan alone on the shore. I hated to leave that little boy. As the wind blew across my skin and the banks thick with trees moved past us, I was lulled into reflection.

    A 4-year-old boy taught me something about dependence and prayer, and the jungle itself had also spoken. Walking through the rainforest was like walking through a cathedral.

    There was something holy about encountering creation the way the psalmist speaks of the heavens declaring God's glory, breathing out utterances that reach to the ends of the earth. Here I was, at the ends of the earth, and He was still there. And His eye was on the sparrow ... a little sparrow named Yan, and a slightly bigger sparrow named Kelly.

    Dear Heavenly Father, I proclaim You as my Provider. Worry, striving and fretting are not from You, because You care for my every need. Please give me the grace to trust You with all that's weighing on my mind and heavy on my heart. When my anxiety becomes overwhelming, give me the peace of Christ that transcends my understanding. Thank You for promising to never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (NIV)

    Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Pinpoint a present worry or concern, then meditate on the key verses of Matthew 6:25-26. What truth speaks to your current anxiety?

    We read in Colossians 1:17 that Christ holds all things together. What practical steps can you take to entrust your concerns to His Almighty care?

    © 2014 by Kelly Minter. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks David C. Cook for their sponsorship of today's devotion. Author photo compliments of Brooke Boling.

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


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

  • I Dread Saying Yes But Feel Powerless to Say No

    Posted on August 12, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa Terkeurst

    "... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10 (ESV)

    I have a confession to make: I want people to like me. I want to please people. And sometimes it gets me in trouble.

    I dread saying yes, but feel powerless to say no. Life seems to rush at me every day in the form of endless demands. And I just keep saying yes, yes, yes to the requests that come my way.

    But then my schedule is so packed it feels like I literally can't think straight. Because I have no margin, everything my kids do feels like an interruption. And anything extra my husband asks of me causes bitter resentment to rise up. Instead of talking calmly to those I love, I snarl, snap and scream.

    Saying yes to everything won't make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.

    Can you relate?

    I think to some extent we can all be people pleasers at times.

    We all want to be liked. There's nothing wrong with that. But as we travel the path toward love and acceptance, let's take a look at two of the possible motivations behind people-pleasing.

    One motivation is to give love out of the kindness of our hearts. In giving love, we feel love. That's good.

    Another motivation is to give to others out of what we hope to get in return — love. In getting love from what we do, we feel desperate to do more to get more. That's dangerous.

    It's this second motivation that gets us into trouble with people-pleasing. It's not wrong to want to make others feel loved, happy and pleased. But if we are doing it with the motivation of getting love and things in return, we set ourselves up for trouble.

    Being in a constant state of trying to get love by doing more and more leads to exhaustion.

    Exhaustion for the giver. Exhaustion for the taker. Exhaustion for the relationship all together.

    Ephesians 5:8-10 says, "... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

    I like the explanation of what the fruit or evidence is when we walk as children of light — doing what is good, right and true — as we discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

    I am challenged to make this a filter for the decisions I'm making today. If I'm seeking to please the Lord, I will ask some questions before agreeing to do something for another person: Am I doing this with good motives, right intentions and true expectations?

    Or am I doing this with:

    Fearful motives ... They might not like me if I say no.

    Skewed intentions ... If I do this for them, will they be more likely to do that for me?

    Unrealistic expectations ... I just know if I give a little more, they'll affirm me and I'm desperate for their affirmation.

    Wherever we focus our attention the most will become the driving force in our lives.

    The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please people, the more of a magnified force people-pleasing will become in my life. The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please God, the more of a magnified force He will become in my life.

    My focus. My choice.

    Dear Lord, help me break away from my people-pleasing tendencies with wrong motives. Guide me in my daily decisions as I battle fear, skewed intentions and unrealistic expectations. I want to make You the focus, Father, so that You continue to become the magnified force in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 2:4, "On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Have you experienced the cycle of doing more to get more?

    Search your heart and ask, What are my motives? Am I seeking to please people or honor God in this situation? You may need to place healthy boundaries in your relationships with others so that you can learn when to say yes and when to say no.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Why You Need a Friend

    Posted on August 11, 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Chrystal Evans Hurst

    "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

    I was that girl ... feeling like I didn't belong and wanting a best friend more than anything.

    In elementary school, there were the cool kids and the on-the-outs kids. I didn't fit into either group.

    I roamed around mostly a loner and struggled for the bulk of my childhood with the emotions of "not fitting in."

    I just wanted a friend. One. Good. Friend.

    Fast forward to high school.

    There was a girl I clicked with completely. I felt understood and thought I understood her well, too. I wanted to spend lots of time with her and talk to her a bunch — just like any pair of "besties" would.

    And then one day, I heard her refer to someone else as her "best friend."

    Oh, the devastation!

    I mean ... what was I? Just a little minion?

    In a word? Crushed. And on the outs again.

    Fast forward to adulthood.

    I have lots of friends. Lots of people I know in varying degrees. Two or three friends who are the "ride-or-die" kind. I know they have my back and they know I have theirs.

    And the other day, one of those girls referenced another person as her best friend.

    Was I crushed? Nope. I've since changed my outlook on the whole loner thing.

    I am not alone. Never have been. Never will be.

    First, I belong to God. He has loved me with an everlasting love. He is available any time of day to chat, and completely and totally accepts me just the way I am.

    Secondly, I believe in my value. As I understand more of who I am in Christ and stop looking for others to validate my existence, I am less and less tied to the need to fit in. Jesus died for me. If that doesn't validate me, I don't know what does.

    Third, I see now that fitting in is overrated. I have learned that friendship is about so much more than my elementary- and high-school-self understood.

    It's not just about me.

    As I've grown more comfortable in my own skin, I've learned that while friendship includes the wonder of belonging, it is about so much more than that.

    True, I am the beneficiary of my friendships. The life, laughter and fun are invaluable. But once I stopped looking for my friends to give me what only God could give me (my husband as well, for that matter, but that's another story), I was good to go.

    And now it frees me to BE a friend.

    Let me keep it real here. I'm busy. I have a husband and five kids. I homeschool, work, write and speak.

    It's hard to find time for friends. But I make time.

    Why? Because it's not just about me. I am validated because of God's love, but I still need connections. Jesus had friends. At least 12 of them.

    Not because He needed them to define or validate Him, but because the context of His ministry centered around His relationships.

    And here's what we can learn from His example. We need people in our lives whom we sharpen and who sharpen us.

    As God's Word explains, there should be someone in your life who knows she can count on you when she is down: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow," (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, ESV).

    Let's make it our business to encourage others on to love and good deeds, even it requires effort to find time in our calendars to chat.

    "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ..." (Hebrews 10:24-25a, ESV).

    Are you lonely? Seek to be a friend.

    Busy? Make time to be a friend.

    Maybe you could do without the d-r-a-m-a that friendships occasionally bring ... but you understand the importance and purpose of friendship. So be a friend anyway.

    Dear Jesus, thank You for being my friend. Thank You for being an example of what a good friend looks like. Help me value the relationships You've given me and show me how to cultivate others as You desire. Make me the kind of friend I want to have and let me always point my friends toward You. And where I need friendship for my journey through life, send just the right person my way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which friend or friends are in your life to help "sharpen" you? How are you actively sharpening others?

    In what practical ways do you make time to nourish your friendships? If this is something you haven't been doing well, what is one thing you will do in the near future to better cultivate your connections?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Peace: Unreasonable doubt or incomprehensible peace (scripture to combat mommy guilt)

    Posted on August 7, 2014 by Family Christian

    Bekah writes for  I Prefer My Puns Intended, a blog that explores the fact that life can be punny.  Her articles span topics like faith and family as well as education, wellness, and dapper infant style.  The titles of her posts may be cheesy, but the content gets feta.  Sorry. Better.

    I thought I was doing pretty well this morning.

    Little bear woke me up at 6 a.m., he ate at 6:30, and we played from 7:00 until 8:00.  He has gotten strong enough to sit up with the boppy and play with his toys.  It was an exciting playtime for this proud mommy.  I looked at the clock and thought, ‘if I leave now and run at my fastest pace with the stroller, I can be back in time for his nap time.’  It was a good plan.  I could, realistically, tick all of the boxes off of my very full mommy planner before our playdate.  Then, we could have the day free to do anything. No mid-afternoon sweltering run; just a nice, cool morning jog to start our day.

    Combatting Mommy Guilt

    Well, unsurprisingly, I didn’t hit my goal pace of 10:00/mile with the Bob.  I was struggling with side-stiches, which has been a new thorn in my side during my postpartum training. I was about a minute over my pace and six minutes away from home; my run had crossed over into nap time.  Most mommies know what happened next.  Little bear began to cry and fight the sleep he so desperately needed.  I felt horrible. There was nothing I could do but keep going and try to make it back home, ignoring the irritating pain in my side and devastating pain in my heart.

    And then, another runner passed by.  She was a tall, slender woman who looked to be in her mid-forties, and perhaps two miles into her run.  She glanced down at my little bear, and up at me.  I smiled, but she cocked one eyebrow up and pursed her lips.  It was a momentary glance that stuck with me the rest of our run home. ‘I bet she thinks I am such a selfish mom; I am sure she is wondering why I am out running when I should be tending to my baby. Am I selfish?’

    Little bear is asleep now.  He went right to sleep as soon as we made it home. No harm, no foul.  He will probably sleep for another hour or so.  So why do I feel so guilty?

    My mother-in-law once told me, “motherhood is guilt.”  Oh, how right she was.  My typical worries span the length of the day:

    Did I let him talk too much in his crib before I got him up for the day? Was he uncomfortable in his crib because of his dirty diaper and I waited too long to change it? Is this diaper rash my fault? Did I feed him enough? He threw up, did I feed him too much? Am I making enough for him to grow taller? Should I take him in to see his dad while he gets ready for work, or will that bother his morning routine?  Did I wake up his dad? Should I make myself breakfast? Should I just play with him and wait to eat when he takes a nap? Should I put him on his tummy now or will it upset his tummy? Am I interactive enough? Did I hold him too much? Did I hold him enough? I checked my phone.  I remember that article about checking my phone too much and missing out on time with my kids.  Will I teach him bad habits if I keep checking my phone?  I care way too much about how many people read what I have to say. The TV was on.  Bear saw the TV and watched it for a few minutes.  I remember those articles about how screen time ruins little brains.  Did I scar him for life? Did those two minutes of screen time delay his speech development? His eyesight? His language acquisition? Did he exercise enough? He is rubbing his eyes, but it isn’t nap time. Should I keep him up? If I keep him up too long he won’t sleep and then it is my fault for not putting him down soon enough.

    …and that is just a typical morning in our home. Imagine what your mind can do when your baby cries in public places; on a plane; in a restaurant…the guilt is unbearable. The doubt is unreasonable. Instead of looking to the real heart of the issue (i.e. baby is tired, hungry, or needs to be changed), moms tend to put all of the blame on their shoulders.

    In Psalms 38:4, David talks about guilt;

    My guilt is like a heavy burden.  I am sinking beneath its weight.

    Any moms in this boat? Pun intended.

    Some days, I find myself sinking in this endless sea of guilt.  Guilt, however, is stumbling block to righteousness and real relationship with Christ. If you aren’t a Christian, it is simply an obstacle to a fulfilled motherhood.  Instead of praising God (or celebrating the fact that we kept our baby alive through the night), we replace our joy with worries.  For Christians, this robs us of our witness.  For all mommies, this guilt gives us anxiety.  Here are a few scriptures that I use in order to replace worry,  doubt, and that ever-present “mommy-guilt” with joy and peace in the Lord.

    1. Take away my guilty thoughts.

    “Scrub away my guilt.  Wash me clean from my sin.” Psalms 51:2

    Am I sinning when I worry too much? Yes. Anything that takes me away from giving the glory to God is a sin.  I need to remember to let it go.  God has equipped me to be the mother that little bear needs. And that is enough.

    2. Remember the goodness of God.

    “You have forgiven the bad things your people did.  You have taken away the guilt of their sins.” Psalm 85:2

    It is so important to remember that God doesn’t keep a tally of our sins.  Or, if you want to think about it practically as a mom, he takes away our mommy-mishaps.  He promises to “take away the guilt.” We just have to let him.

    3. Direct us in how to “let it go.”

    “For my yoke is easy; my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

    God has given us the power to leave our worries with him and take on a much lighter load to carry.  We just have to praise him in all that we do, and seek him first. Don’t seek to be the “perfect mom.” That particular role is elusive and impossible to attain. We are not gods, after all.

    4. Become healed from guilt.

    “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are my praise.”Jeremiah 17:14

    No where in that prayer are the words, “my children are my praise.”  Parenthood is oh so important. We are tempted to believe that our children are our everything, however.  This is not the case.  God promises to heal our worried hearts and save us from the sinking ship of guilt if we focus on him.

    5. Release the guilt given to you from other people.

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

    I once read a Buddhist fable about a man walking up to Buddha and criticizing his teaching, sincerity, and intelligence.  Buddha said nothing and the man walked away.  An onlooker asked why he didn’t respond and Buddha simply said, “when someone offers you a gift you don’t want, you throw it away.  I refused to receive the negativity the man was offering, so I didn’t respond.”

    That really stuck with me.  God has promised us peace; the world gives us anxiety.  I would much rather choose peace; and yet some days I am riddled with guilt.  This particular scripture is so important when it comes to mommy-shaming, or even those sideways glances when you’re a few minutes from home and your baby starts crying.  Mommy guilt is real, but God’s peace is a much greater alternative than bearing it all on your shoulders.

    6. Live in the abundant peace that surpasses understanding.

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4: 6-7
    Paul suggested that the people of Phillipi live a life filled with the peace of God that “transcends all understanding.” All mommies want to know if what they are doing is best for their children.  Somehow, God beckons us to live each day apart from the full satisfaction of knowing whether or not we made the right choices moment-to-moment.  Living in the worry of our guilt will never bring us satisfaction.  As our children grow, the guilt will only carry higher stakes.  The sooner we release our anxiety to the one who rescues, the sooner we can live a life separate from our guilt, and full of the presence and peace of God.


    This post was posted in Guest Bloggers and was tagged with Peace, Parenting, Mothers, encouragement, guest blogger, mommy guilt, parents, moms, babies

  • Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

    Posted on July 11, 2014 by Micca Campbell

    Micca Campbell

    "When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep." Genesis 28:11 (NIV)

    I sat in disbelief as my doctor explained the results of my ultrasound. "There's a large cyst with tentacles that has consumed your left ovary," she explained. "We need to schedule surgery as soon as possible. In my expert opinion, there's a 70% chance you may have ovarian cancer."

    While my body felt numb, my mind raced with unanswered questions: What does this mean for me and my family? How will I get through this?

    I felt completely alone and helpless. With no good choice in sight, I was between a rock and a hard place, with no way out.

    Have you ever found yourself there, stuck without options? Maybe you're there now. It's a difficult, lonely, hurting place. For me, it's a familiar place. I was there when my first husband died, when finances were insufficient and as my health faltered.

    During that time of waiting for surgery, I found comfort in Jacob's story. Tucked in the book of Genesis, Jacob found himself in a difficult place. He had stolen the family's inheritance from his brother, Esau. Once Esau realized what Jacob had done, he was out to get him. Literally. So Jacob had no choice but to leave home.

    Our key verse explains that Jacob had a full day of travel, and "When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep" (Genesis 28:11).

    I find it remarkable that Jacob was able to lay his head on a stone and go to sleep after he had been uprooted and was running for his life. Jacob was out of his comfort zone. He was in a hard, cold place instead of his warm, comfortable bed.

    When cancer was likely, I had a restless night of tossing and turning. It was challenging for me to lay my concerns down on a soft pillow and go to sleep, but not for Jacob. He took a stone and put it under his head and slept. How? How could Jacob sleep unless his security was found in something other than his ability to outrun his pursuers?

    Perhaps Jacob knew a Rock that was more than a solid mineral. Maybe Jacob saw his rock as the Rock of Ages. How else could he lay his head and all his fears on a rock if it were not God the Rock as described in Psalm 18:2?

    "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." (NIV)

    What an amazing truth: God is our Rock!

    This means when you and I find ourselves "between a rock and a hard place," we can transform that experience from being stuck between a rock to resting on the Rock.

    After reading about Jacob, I decided to change my perspective. Instead of viewing my position as being between a rock and a hard place, I envisioned myself resting on Christ the Rock and leaving all my cares there.

    On the day of my surgery, I was at peace. The nurses noticed my calm disposition. I was resting on my Rock.

    When the surgery was over, I awoke to good news. The cyst was benign! I'm thankful it turned out well. But even if it hadn't, I would still find peace and rest in my Rock.

    Friend, I hope when you feel yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place, you'll see it as Christ the Rock. Then you can lay down your head and find rest in that hard place.

    Dear Lord, thank You for being my Rock, my shield, safety and salvation in troubled times. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Corinthians 10:4, "[All] drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you feel stuck today? How can you view your rock as God the Rock and rest in Him?

    The Psalms contain words of encouragement for those who feel trapped. Read Psalm 91 and other chapters to learn of God's faithfulness.

    © 2014 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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


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

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