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Family Christian

  • Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson

    Many parents want to see positive character traits in their children but wonder how to instill them. As stars of the hit reality show "Duck Dynasty", Korie and Willie Robertson receive loads of letters and messages from fans asking how did they raise such good kids. As Korie will tell you, it wasn't easy, but it is possible. A straightforward approach to parenting, Strong and Kind helps parents identify the character traits they want to see in their children along with the tools for putting them in place.

    Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson

    At Family Christian, we believe strongly in the power of Godly parents who place God first in their lives and strive to raise their children to have a personal relationship with Jesus as well.  To help you along in your journey, we would like to offer four of our customers the chance to win their own copy of Strong and Kind.  Entering is easy...just use the form below.

  • When Parenting Is Scary

    Kristen Welch FEBRUARY 9, 2016

    When Parenting Is Scary KRISTEN WELCH

    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

    "But, Mom … will you please change your mind? It’s not fair!" my daughter said.

    I knew what my answer had to be since I’d grounded her earlier in the day. But it wasn’t going to be easy.

    Sometimes right before I tell my kids no, that split second before the word comes out of my mouth, I am afraid.

    I am afraid to be strong. I am afraid to follow through. I am afraid of what will happen when I say no.

    I think every mom knows this fear. We know it’s often easier to give into demands than to dig in to our resolve. Sometimes it’s easier to run away than stand and be courageous.

    I’ve learned the harder I work at raising grateful kids, the harder the job gets. When kids resist chores and grumble about dinner, slam doors and argue with their siblings, it can make a mom feel like a complete failure.

    Recently in the middle of a kitchen standoff, all of the above was happening.

    My husband walked up behind me and tugged on my arm before things escalated with my daughter. We left our kids to clean up dinner dishes and locked our bedroom door. And we asked questions we couldn’t answer: Why is parenting so hard? Are we doing this right? Do we have to go back out there?

    "If it isn’t hard, maybe we aren’t doing it right. We aren’t alone, honey. God says to be courageous because He will go with us wherever we go … and that means back to the kitchen, eventually," my husband said quietly in my ear.

    I let his words sink in. Because too often I believe the lie that says if I were a great mom, I wouldn’t fight or disagree or battle over opinions and attitudes with my kids. And we wouldn’t hurt each other.

    Some days, I feel really alone and afraid. I wonder if I’m the only one in this challenging stage or with a kid in that difficult phase. Sometimes I cling to silence instead of sharing my burden with other moms.

    I couldn’t help but think of the words spoken to Joshua, the newly appointed leader of the Israelites: "Do not be afraid … for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

    God was commanding him to lead the people into the Promised Land, a beautiful but daunting place. He was reassuring them that wherever He sent them, He would also go with them. When we journey with God, we can rest in the next steps, even when we can’t make them out. Of course, our children are hardly the Philistines, but the fear and uncertainty in parenting might feel similar.

    Just because the road gets bumpy, doesn’t mean we are off course. Actually, the right road is bumpy. The correct path does have obstacles and setbacks. The journey is broken and beautiful at the same time.

    I was encouraged with these truths and I hope you will be too: It’s okay for our kids to be temporarily unhappy, and their resistance doesn’t mean our failure.

    I swallowed the fear and shook off the discouragement, thankful for the reminder that these are normal feelings in parenting. I thanked God for being with me in the hard moments. As I headed back to the kitchen, I clung to the holy promise that I wasn’t alone.

    "No, I’m sorry, honey, you can’t go. You’re grounded for the day, remember?" I told my waiting daughter.

    I braced myself and stood my ground and calmly suggested another day. She let out a disappointed sigh. When I returned later, that same child was humming in the kitchen, making dessert for the rest of the family. There was no pouting. The anger was long gone. She didn’t ask again.

    Sometimes our kids ask for something or demand their way, not to get us to say yes, but to see if we will stick with no.

    Oftentimes, our kids surprise us.

    And many times, what scares us makes us stronger.

    So, the next time we are afraid, we must also remember we are not alone.

    Don’t give in. But mostly, don’t give up.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for the honor and blessings of being a parent. Please help me parent my children with the same love and discipline You give to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: It’s never too late to raise grateful kids with Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. With Kristen’s practical advice and tips for each age, get ready to cultivate a spirit of genuine appreciation and create a Jesus-centered home in which your kids don’t just say — but actually mean! — "thank you" for everything they have.

    Stop by Kristen’s blog, www.wearethatfamily.com, where she keeps it real, vulnerable and a bit irreverent.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. In celebration of this book, Kristen’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, February 15.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What are you afraid of in your parenting journey today? How can you take the next courageous step?

    © 2016 by Kristen Welch. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale Momentum for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • When You Hate Valentine’s Day

    Amy Carroll FEBRUARY 8, 2016

    When You Hate Valentine’s Day AMY CARROLL

    "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:17-18 (NIV)

    I remember the year I skipped Valentine’s Day and created my own personal boycott. I glared at cards and roses in the store as I shopped, snorted at commercials with lovey-dovey messages, turned my head away from couples holding hands and built a wall of protection around my aching heart.

    Just months before I stared uncomprehendingly across the table as my first love and fiancé repeated his previous sentence, "I just don’t know if I can be faithful to you for the rest of our lives."

    Suddenly, I felt an unfamiliar feeling. Instead of being drawn to this man, I had the overwhelming need to flee. My ears heard my mouth form the words, "Then I guess I can’t marry you," as I stood and walked out of the student union.

    In the exhaustion of mid-finals study, my tired mind and thudding heart could hardly grasp what had just happened. Not only had I allowed myself to love deeply and completely, but I was convinced marrying that man was God’s plan for me.

    Until that moment. When it all shattered.

    Where once I felt loved, I now felt rejected. Where once I felt secure, I felt rocked. Where once I felt sure of my happy future, I now felt lonely and unsure of myself.

    The despair lasted for months; the fog just wouldn’t lift. I kept trying to fix things, but the relationship was too broken. Still, I couldn’t seem to move on.

    I continued my regular activities with a plastic smile to cover my broken heart. I even went to church and kept going through the spiritual motions, but instead of turning to God for healing, I withdrew inside.

    One night, alone in my apartment, I felt God drawing me. At first I resisted. Finally, with a sense of dread (I was convinced God was angry with me for pushing Him away), I lay flat on my bedroom with my face to the floor. Waiting for God’s wrath, I experienced in a way I’ve never felt before or since, the overwhelming, physical presence of God’s love. He surrounded me, enveloped me, comforted me and began healing me.

    Maybe you’re facing Valentine’s Day this year without that loving feeling. Maybe you’ve been betrayed by a friend, rejected by someone you love or rocked by a bad romance.

    Can I gently remind you of an important truth? A truth that made all the difference to me?

    If you are God’s child, you are involved in the greatest love story ever created. Jesus created you, knows you inside and out, and loves you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. You can celebrate love this year just like everyone else, knowing that you’ve got a deeper understanding than anything that’s advertised or on the shelves in a store.

    Twenty-seven years later, I think back to those devastating days with a wry smile. The younger version of myself, who thought that things couldn’t get better, has walked through the hurt into a future that has turned out to be bright — not perfect, but definitely joyful.

    Jesus was there through every painful step of those early days of break-up, and He truly used heartbreak to do good things in me. Although I couldn’t see it then, God, in His infinite goodness, was there cupping His loving hands around my broken heart and shaping something beautiful. Even if you can’t see or feel that healing at work, I can confidently tell you He’s doing it for you even now.

    God, I come to You shattered and brokenhearted but with a heart full of faith. I believe You not only can heal me but You can turn this despair into joy. You can use my healed hurt to make me more compassionate. I pray You would give me the determination to celebrate Your love story this Valentine’s Day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:9, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." (NIV)

    Zephaniah 3:17, "The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (NKJV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Amy Carroll’s book, Breaking Up with Perfect, is full of stories showing how God redeems the imperfect circumstances of life. Purchase it today for more encouragement.

    Amy invites you to visit her blog today where she has a Valentine’s giveaway for singles. You can enter for yourself or for a single person you love!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Using the gift of hindsight, write a list of hard circumstances God has lovingly used to shape you.

    When the opportunity comes, spend time listening to a hurting friend. When the time is right, share one of your stories of hope.

    © 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Q&A with Becky Thompson

    We had the awesome pleasure of interviewing Becky Thompson, author of the upcoming book,Hope Unfolding Hope Unfolding. Below she talks about her initial success as a blogger, dealing with loneliness as a mother, and the book writing process.

    1. Becky, your hugely successful blog, Scissortail SILK, began as a fashion blog. How did it transform into a place to share your heart with other young mothers?

    I began my blog, Scissortail SILK, because a boutique owner asked if I was fashion blogger. It’s an interesting story that I actually share in Hope Unfolding, but my intentions were to simply post fun outfits and glimpses into my life. As I began to write, I quickly realized that I didn’t just want to tell women how to feel good by wearing certain clothes. I wanted each reader to know that her worth is found in Jesus. I wanted her to be confident of God’s love for her. I suppose the most authentic story we have to tell is the one that always rises to the top. For me, encouraging other women and reminding them of God’s love is the truest message I have to share.

    2. Your blog receives more than a million page views each month. In the beginning, did the overwhelming response from women surprise you?

    Six months after I first began the blog I wrote a post late one night about the importance of remembering to be a wife after becoming a momma. When I woke up the next morning, I was shocked by the response. The post was shared over 700,000 times, and my readership grew from one thousand monthly page visitors to one million monthly page visitors. In the months following, I received thousands of messages from women across the world who had been encouraged by what they had read. It was a lot to process as these women trusted me with their stories and shared their hearts with me. But I knew that if I always pointed them back to Jesus, if I always reminded them of God’s goodness and His grace, I would always have the answer that they needed to hear the most.

    3. For those of us who aren't in the daily trenches of motherhood, what are some of the greatest unexpressed needs among mothers today?

    More than anything, I think moms need to know that they are not alone. They need support, but they also need to feel seen in the stories of their own lives. Beyond this, they need to know that their best is good enough and that God doesn’t expect perfection from them.

    4. Loneliness is one of the main topics discussed in Hope Unfolding. With women connecting online in ways previous generations were never able to, what role do you think social media has played in either increasing or decreasing isolation for young mothers?

    I think that social media has created a way for mothers to be connected unlike any other generation before us. But while we live so much of our lives online, with access to millions of other moms, I don’t think that there has ever been a time when mothers have felt more alone. I fear we lack authentic relationships and community as we exchange them for digital friendships. We know facts about one another, which makes us feel like we are known, but we don’t get to connect deeply by sharing the realest places of our hearts. This is why I am so passionate about the online community of Scissortail SILK. As mothers across the world reach out for friendship and support from other moms, it is my hope that Scissortail SILK exists as a grace-filled place where women can encourage one another and say, “You’re not alone. You’re welcome here. I have been there too! Let’s talk about what really matters.”

    5. The notion of grace seems to saturate many of today’s Christian messages. Why is a true understanding of grace so important to a mother’s emotional and spiritual well-being?

    Mom-guilt is a real thing. We are constantly replaying the moments in our day where we feel like we have been less than perfect. We wonder if we should have handled certain things differently. We fear we are ruining our children with our own inadequacies. The truth is none of us are perfect. That’s why we need Jesus and His grace. He is forever filling in all of our gaps and the places where we come up short. And this includes our mothering. When we realize that it is okay to not be perfect, we find freedom from our own self-imposed expectations, and this brings a new sense of hope to a woman’s heart.

    6. What kind of response have you had from your readers as you move from the world of blogging into the publishing arena?

    I truly think of my readers as my friends, and as I have shared news with them about different parts of the publishing process, we have all been excited together. Many of my readers have said that they are excited to share this book with other moms not just because they are excited about the words inside, but because they feel as though they are offering other women an opportunity to join us in the adventure of grace-filled motherhood! We are looking forward to sharing our community in book form!

    7. What surprised you most about writing this book? What did God reveal to you during this experience?

    As I was writing Hope Unfolding, I considered how women outside of motherhood would also relate to many of the grace-filled truths found within the text. The truth is the issues that we face as mothers aren’t just as a result of having children. They are often lies that we have believed or fears that have taunted us long before motherhood held a magnifying glass over them. The truth is we all need to find grace for who we are and hope in Jesus. That is the promise of Hope Unfolding. It could be for anyone.

    8. What is your greatest hope for those who will read Hope Unfolding?

    More than anything, I want those who read Hope Unfolding to encounter Jesus. I want them to find confidence in the truth that He loves them, is continuously with them, and wants them to live in freedom. I want them to experience the promises of God’s love, and as they tune their hearts to His voice, I hope that they discover the one true Hope who will sustain their hearts.

    Learn more about Hope Unfolding on our website.

  • How Every Wife Can Fight Like a Warrior

    Alicia Bruxvoort FEBRUARY 5, 2016

    How Every Wife Can Fight Like a Warrior ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how!" Ephesians 6:17b-18 (VOICE)

    My littlest boy pattered down the stairs in the dark before dawn and found me sitting in the big leather chair by the window. On my lap were my Bible and the book I’d used for over a decade to prompt prayers for my husband.

    My son sidled up beside me and reached for the book. He examined the tattered cover with 5-year-old curiosity then flipped through the yellowed pages inside. He studied the words splattered with coffee stains and rainbow highlights and cast me an inquisitive gaze.

    "What is this thing?" he asked.

    "It’s a book that helps me pray God’s Word over Daddy …"

    My 5-year-old’s green eyes grew wide. "It looks like it’s been in a battle, Mommy!"

    I planted a kiss atop my son’s unruly tuft and murmured, "It has, sweetheart. It has."

    My son leaned his sleepy head against my shoulder and as we sat in comfortable silence, I remembered the day when God had called a younger and floundering me into combat.

    I’d stepped into marriage with grand plans to dance happily through life with the man I loved. But seven years and three kids later, our union felt more like a stumbling shuffle than a tantalizing tango.

    There were bills to pay and children to feed; problems to solve and jobs to keep. And as life settled heavy on our shoulders, our marriage spiraled into a jaded jitter of frustrations and unmet expectations.

    Sadly, I could name my husband’s shortcomings faster than I could list his strengths, and I could articulate my disappointment more keenly than I could define my delight. I knew God intended marriage to be more than a baffling boogie, but I didn’t know how to reclaim the joy that had once spurred our steps.

    One day in Bible study, I aired my grievances to an older and wiser woman. She listened quietly, then pulled me into a one-armed hug and whispered words of truth: "Honey, you’ve gotta decide if you’re gonna spend your energy fighting with your husband or fighting for him."

    My stomach lurched with conviction, and she held my tear-filled eyes in a silent gaze. "Every wife was made to be a warrior," she said with resolve.

    I felt a sliver of hope stirring deep inside, and when I got home, I scoured the shelves for that book of prayers I’d been given as a young bride. Maybe somewhere on those crisp white pages I’d find ammunition for battle.

    Later that night, I sat on the couch and begged God to teach me how to fight.

    Day after day, I took the Apostle Paul’s words to heart —"Pray about everything in every way you know how!" And like a baby learning to walk, I learned to speak God’s truth over our waffling and weary union.

    When I was tempted to fling hurtful words, I asked God to help me swing the sword of the Spirit instead. When I felt weak and discouraged, I asked Christ to infuse me with His strength and His hope.

    Eventually I found myself choosing to battle rather than belittle, to praise rather than pester, to believe rather than despair. And one day I woke up and realized I was no longer blind to the gift of my husband. My prayers had granted me fresh vision.

    Slowly and surely, our marriage dance began to change. We found ourselves waltzing to a new rhythm of joy. Not with flawless steps or perfect poise, but with confidence in the One who had joined our hearts.

    I looked at the worn book on my lap and whispered a prayer of thanks as my son’s sleepy stupor gave way to playful frolic. "Let’s have a sword fight before breakfast, Mommy!" he said as he leaped off my lap and raced up the stairs in search of his plastic saber.

    He paused at the landing and cast me a reassuring grin, "Don’t worry, Mommy. We’re just pretending."

    I mirrored his smile and swiped my Bible through the air like a dangerous dagger. "I’m not a bit worried," I replied. "I’ve had lots of practice in battle!"

    Dear God, Teach me to fight for my marriage on my knees. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 5:16b, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

    Matthew 21:22, "If you believe, whatever you ask for in prayer will be granted." (VOICE)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Capture His Heart, can help you strengthen your marriage and see your husband through fresh eyes.

    Stop by Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog today for more encouragement and for a warrior wife giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Find one Scripture to pray over your marriage this week. Declare God’s truth out loud by reciting it frequently and fervently.

    Next time you are tempted to tear your husband down, lift him up to God in prayer.

    © 2016 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • When Nothing’s Going Right

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 4, 2016

    When Nothing’s Going Right LYSA TERKEURST

    "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV)

    I was discouraged.

    I’d really started serving God with all my heart and spending more time in His Word than ever. But instead of circumstances getting better, they got much harder!

    In two months’ time, my life went from being wonderfully fulfilling and clicking right along to being completely topsy-turvy.

    My computer went a little crazy and some very important documents disappeared.

    A big book deal I was excited about fell through.

    Our well broke, and we went several days without water.

    My kids were much younger then and required more energy than my worn-down emotions had to give. I carried around this sense of guilt for not being a more patient and fun-loving mom.

    Then, on top of a host of other interruptions and haphazard happenings, my husband blew out his knee and had to have major reconstructive surgery, leaving him bedridden for nearly five weeks. I felt myself getting caught in a whirlwind of emotions.

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A friend of mine hit the nail on the head when she said, "Lysa, I think when you go with God to a new level, you get a new devil."

    While I’m not sure about the exact theological correctness of that statement, I do know Satan hates the radically obedient soul. He hates it when a person jumps off the fence of complacency and into the center of God’s will. A spiritual battle is raging around us and because of that, life can be hard. While saying yes to God does bring blessing, it’s not easy.

    If our desire for obedience is born merely out of duty, we may be quick to give up. Especially when everything in life seems to be going haywire. However, if our desire is born out of delight, out of a love relationship that burns deep in our souls, it won’t be extinguished — no matter the cost.

    One of my favorite love stories in the Bible is that of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob’s love for Rachel gave him purpose and perspective, which led to amazing persistence. He served Rachel’s father for many years to earn the right to marry Rachel because he loved her that much: "So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her" (Genesis 29:20, NIV).

    Do you see what love can do for a person’s view of his circumstances? When you are crazy in love with someone, you’ll do anything for him — and do it with the highest level of sheer joy. I want to be so crazy in love with Jesus that not only do I serve Him, but I do it with absolute delight — even when life gets hard and messy.

    You see, a real sign of spiritual maturity is looking to God for purpose and perspective instead of comfort and convenience.

    Trust me, I understand asking God for comfort and convenience, but I’ve seen that often leads me to complacency. Once God solves my issues, I move on and forget to look for lessons I need to learn from what I faced.

    But looking to God for purpose and perspective forces me to learn crucial lessons in perseverance and maturity. Then I can understand the meaning of Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV). This does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good, but that God will work in and through every situation to bring good from it.

    And let’s not miss the last four words of this verse, where we are reminded that it is all "according to his purpose." God has a purpose, and His plans to accomplish that purpose are perfect. Trusting God’s purpose, and seeking to understand that He takes all the events from our life and orchestrates good from them, leads to a changed perspective.

    So although it may be difficult to maintain the right attitude with technology on the fritz and a house that hasn’t been cleaned in weeks, it’s important to look to God for that change in perspective. We can trust that in the midst of all the things that seem to go wrong, something will go right.

    Dear Lord, I thank You for the purpose You place in everything. Give me Your perspective today as I struggle with some things that may not be going "right." I know You have a greater plan through it all. I love You and long to live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 1:2-3, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." (NLT)

    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: When all of life feels like it is spinning out of control, we can often end up acting out of control. Lysa TerKeurst’s book Unglued can help you discover how to gain a deep sense of calm even in the midst of situations out of your control. Click here to purchase your copy today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Praise can help change our perspective. What can you specifically praise God for today — even in the midst of great trials?

    Journal about a time in your life when you saw God use difficult circumstances for your good. Remembering His past faithfulness can encourage and strengthen us in the midst of our present struggles.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Most Beautiful Love Song You’ll Ever Hear

    Tracie Miles FEBRUARY 3, 2016

    The Most Beautiful Love Song You’ll Ever Hear TRACIE MILES

    "For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

    I remember those days as if they were yesterday. When each of my three children were babies, I treasured the time I spent rocking them to sleep, singing soft lullabies and trying to lull them into baby dreamland.

    I vividly recall how I felt when I sang over them, breathing in their sweet baby aroma, caressing their soft skin and hair, swaddling them close and longing to keep them safe forever and ever. As they looked up into my eyes with sleepy looks, so often tears of joy would trickle from my eyes, and I felt compelled to keep singing and soothing them with the melody.

    My mama heart felt overwhelmed. How could I be filled with such joy and love for someone so tiny and new? How could I delight that much over someone who couldn’t do anything for themselves, much less for me?

    As I read today’s key verse, it brought back all these sweet memories, and helped give new meaning to how much God loves His children. In Zephaniah, God is singing because He rejoices over His children, delights in them and feels joy over them.

    Zephaniah references a future time when God will have ended His judgment on His children Israel, and they will enjoy a time of blessing and safety from their enemies.

    The words of this verse remind us God is with us always, and He is mighty to save. He delights in us and loves us each so much that He sings melodies of love and rejoices over us. This delight is simply because we are His. And just as a mama’s voice calms and soothes a child with song, God quiets us with His love and soothes our hearts with His voice.

    I love to picture our heavenly Father singing and rejoicing over His children like that. Singing and rejoicing over me, and you.

    Sometimes it’s hard to understand how God could love us, especially when we consider all the mistakes and times of disappointment we’ve struggled through. Or, when we feel like we don’t measure up because we don’t do enough for His kingdom and His glory.

    Or when we feel unloved or rejected by others and wonder if God might have abandoned or rejected us as well. What comfort it brings to think about God loving us the same way a mother loves her babies.

    As moms, we sing over our babies because we love them, not because they deserve it or can do anything for us in return. They bring delight to our hearts, because they are ours. And the same goes for our heavenly Father when it comes to His own.

    God’s quiet love and gentle whispers of acceptance and delight are the greatest love song our spiritual ears will ever hear.

    Father God, fill me with an overwhelming joy at the thought of how much You love me. When I am feeling unloved or unwanted, fill my spiritual ears with Your beautiful love song and soothe my heart with Your comforting words. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 104:33, "I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!" (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve ever struggled with understanding how God could love you with such an immense love, your heart will be changed by Tracie Miles’ book, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past To Create A Beautiful Future.

    Visit Tracie’s blog to enter to win a special Valentine’s Day giveaway to enjoy and share with someone you love.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Sometimes February, the month we typically focus on love, can often feel lonely and disappointing. How might focusing on how much God loves and adores you, and sings and delights over you, help change your attitude?

    What are some ways you can reach out to someone who might need to be reminded they are loved this month?

    © 2016 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Interview with Alex Kendrick & Stephen Kendrick

    Below is an interview with Stephen and Alex Kendrick regarding their recent book, The Battle Plan for Prayer, which was written as a supplement to the hit movie, War Room.

    What is the intent of the new book?

    The Battle Plan for Prayer is meant to inspire, engage, and call the reader to an active, strategic, and passionate prayer life. We urgently need the church to pray in unity in these crucial days. (Alex)

    To inspire people with the importance of being devoted to prayer, equip them with Biblically training to help them pray more faithfully and effectively, and call them to unite with other believers and ask God to move mightily in our generations and bring healing to our families, churches, and nation. (Stephen)

    What is the single most important reason to have a prayer strategy?

    The book of James tells us that the “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much”. It’s our daily connection and communication with Almighty God. We would say that it’s a lifeline to the Father in our spiritual life.

    You can’t hit what you are not aiming at! When we pray Biblically, strategically, and specifically, we position ourselves to maximize the impact of our praying and to more readily see God glorified through the answers. (Stephen)

    How does the book teach preparing a prayer battle plan?

    The book will walk the reader through “boot camp” for an understanding of what prayer is, and how we are meant to use it. Then, we teach applications of biblical prayer with a focus on praying strategically in our various areas of life. In this manner, we learn to “fight” in prayer. (Alex)

    We inspire people with the stories and scriptures of answered prayer, train them in the fundamental locks and keys of effective prayer, then we give them 6 different tools they can use to help them pray. (Stephen)

    What scripture was the catalyst for the project?

    In Matthew 6:6, Jesus teaches us to go into our inner room and to pray to our Father in secret. Then, God rewards what is done in secret. So He desires for us to draw closer to Him in our secret place, and not just when people are watching us. (Alex)

    Matthew 6:6, James 5:16, Colossians 4:2, 1 Timothy 2:1-5 (Stephen)

    How has creating War Room the movie and the book projects impacted your prayer life?

    The more we study prayer, the more we are driven to make it a larger part of our life. It’s meant to go along with the Word of God in maturing us in our faith and making us bold in our calling. Both Stephen and myself have increased our time with the Lord in prayer. We’re also helping our families to do the same thing. We want to be warriors ready for His orders, not lukewarm believers that spend most of our time on the bench. (Alex)

    I have learned much more about prayer and have truly been inspired and challenged working on this movie and book. It has caused me to pray more joyfully, specifically, and with a greater faith - trusting that my Heavenly Father will answer in His timing.

    We serve a mighty God who answers prayer. He is not unaware, unable, uncaring, unwilling, or unlikely to answer the prayers of His children.

    Writing The Battle Plan for Prayer has caused me to pray with greater freedom and confidence in the Lord.

    Ephesians 3:12 - In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (NIV) (Stephen)

    2016BookOfYear
  • The Power of Ordinary Celebrations

    Sally Clarkson FEBRUARY 2, 2016

    The Power of Ordinary Celebrations Sally and Sarah Clarkson

    "This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

    Funny the way some childhood memories are etched in pinpoint clarity against the Impressionist background of our years. There’s one memory whose significance I never question; its setting was a blustery Sunday evening in the midst of a very dreary March. I know exactly why it remains so deeply etched in my thoughts, for in a dark, windy moment, I (Sarah) glimpsed the power of ordinary celebration — workaday beauty — to invade and redeem a moment of possible despair.

    To set the scene: a small, brick house in Texas, my mom wrapped in a sweater at the open front door, waving to my dad as his car, headlights eerie in the light rain, pulled away from us into the night. My three younger siblings pressed against her, waving too. I stood slightly behind, reserved in my new on-the-cusp-of-adulthood self-consciousness, quiet because of the dread that unexpectedly filled my heart.

    I was just old enough to perceive this was a difficult moment for my mom. On this, the fourth Sunday of its kind, she was waving goodbye to my dad as he left again for five days of work at a distance too far to cover each evening. We wouldn’t see him again until Friday.

    The keeping, feeding and entertaining of four children was in her lone hands — as was the housework, the driving to lessons, the making of meals. Beyond this was the fact of my baby sister’s nocturnal asthma and the newly diagnosed health condition that caused Mom to become intensely dizzy at the most inopportune of moments.

    I was freshly aware of the fact that life can be very hard, not in dramatic ways, but in small, daily realities. The ripening of adulthood had stolen the blessed innocence that is the gift of childhood. I was aware of myself as confronting something, responsible for grappling with it in a way I never had been before. I had no idea what to do.

    From behind, I surveyed my mother’s shoulders, saw the momentary sag as my sister asked to be carried with sweet, clutching little hands. I couldn’t see Mom’s face, but I waited, sure that when she turned I would behold a set of tired eyes or a resigned face that would mean a hushed evening, an early bedtime and maybe a strained week to come.

    I heard the sigh as my mother firmly closed the front door. She turned. "I think we need a party tonight. Cookies, burgers and a movie. We can pile on my bed and have an indoor picnic."

    I think I smiled, but I was too startled for it to be much more than a wondering half-smile at first. My mom certainly smiled, patting each of my brothers on the head. The boys cheered. Three-year-old Joy clapped her little hands. And the moment of farewell — that wistful, slightly frightening moment of watching my dad depart — was transformed by one sentence into a moment of possibility.

    As everyone moved toward the kitchen, my mom put her hand on my arm. "It’s going to be a good week, Sarah. Don’t worry. Would you make the cookies?"

    The rest of the evening passed in what can only be described as merriment. There was plenty of sibling squabbling and jostling for the prized seat next to my mom. But there were also our favorite cheeseburgers, fresh oatmeal crispies and lemonade in the gem-toned plastic sippy cups whose battered presence was constant throughout my childhood. There was an old Haley Mills movie and a raucous amount of shouted laughter with a bedtime a little too late after an evening enjoyed to the hilt.

    And there was a next morning — still rainy, still gray, still March at its worst, but all of us with filled hearts from the celebration the night before.

    In looking back at that memory, it remains with me because that moment profoundly shaped the way I encounter the difficult ordinary of life in a fallen world.

    Nearly 20 years later, I am deeply aware of the gift my mother gave me when the face she turned to a moment of real despair was one of hope.

    In her choice that night, she modeled what it means to look at life in a fallen world, every day, and meet it with a creative joy born of the Holy Spirit.

    Sweet Father, help me see in each day the possibility of bringing Your joy into every moment that Your presence can be reflected daily through my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:11b, " … I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES: In our deepest hearts, we want home to be a place where our spirits are filled. A life-giving haven of warmth, rest and joy that will encourage everyone who enters it; a welcoming respite in an isolating culture. Join beloved authors Sally and Sarah Clarkson to discover the path to The Lifegiving Home — from a mother who’s known for creating one and her daughter who was raised in it.

    Learn more about Sally and Sarah, and The Lifegiving Home by clicking here.

    Enter to WIN a copy of The Lifegiving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson. In celebration of this book, Sally’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, February 8.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What choices do you make to bring joy into the challenging moments of your life?

    What heart attitude gets in the way of choosing to celebrate life in your home?

    © 2016 by Sarah Clarkson. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale Momentum for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • Jesus My Peace

    Wendy Blight FEBRUARY 1, 2016

    Jesus My Peace WENDY BLIGHT

    "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 (NIV)

    A few years ago I found myself in one of those busy seasons of life. You know, the kind where your calendar is void of white space. Where you spend your days trying to balance the daily tasks that have to be done with the fun events that keep you a well-adjusted, delightful-to-be-with co-worker, girlfriend, wife and mom.

    Mentally, I thought I was balancing it all well. I was reading my daily devotional and praying my neatly ordered list of prayers.

    But my body said otherwise.

    My spirit felt uneasy. Anxious.

    My heart beat erratically.

    These symptoms escalated with each passing day.

    Night after night, I lay awake counting my heartbeats, faster and faster they came. Lack of sleep led to exhaustion. Exhaustion to withdrawal. I felt disconnected from everything around me.

    One morning I stepped into the shower. Within moments, I struggled to breathe. Inexplicable panic ensued. I flung open the shower door, enveloped myself in a towel and collapsed on the tile floor. Tears poured uncontrollably.

    What was happening to me? I felt as if my life … my faith… the very core of who I am was unraveling. I felt like a failure.

    I mustered what little faith I could find and dropped to my knees. It was weak faith, but it was there. And that’s when I realized I needed more. More of Jesus. The One who is our Peace.

    My sweet Savior met me right there on the carpet. He turned my eyes to my bedside table where my unopened Bible lay.

    My heart ached as I made a startling realization. I had not opened that precious book in weeks. Sure, I had been reading my daily devotional. Reading what another woman had to say about the Bible. But I had not been in my Bible, listening for what Jesus — God Himself — had to say about His Word.

    In fact, I had been spending very little time with Jesus. Not a single time did I simply take time to sit quietly with my Lord and Savior.

    I crawled over to my precious Bible, cradled it in my hands and opened it. With each turn of the page, truths spilled into my empty, thirsty heart … truths to cling to … to pray … to quench my empty, thirsty heart. Truths I want to share today.

    First, from the Old Testament:

    "For to us a child is born … And he will be called … Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6a & c, NIV).

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

    Then, from the New Testament, including our key verse, too:

    "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" (John 16:33, NIV).

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-8, NIV).

    Jesus is our Prince of Peace, and His Peace is ours. It’s a fruit of God’s Spirit that lives and breathes in those of us who are children of God.

    Believe it.

    Claim it.

    And the key to believing and claiming it? Personalizing and praying these truths. When we pray God’s living and active Word (see Hebrews 4:12), His Word comes alive in us. It infuses every part of our being.

    So, how do we go about personalizing and praying God’s Word?

    Here are a few of my prayers.

    Thank You, Father, that You will keep me in perfect peace when my heart is steadfast, because I trust in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

    Thank You, Father, that You fill me with Your Peace, not the world’s peace. It’s a gift from You. And thank You that when Your Peace consumes me, I need not be anxious, troubled or afraid. (John 14:26-27)

    Father, thank You for the promise that if I will stop being anxious and give everything to You in prayer, Your Peace, the peace that transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 4:7-8, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Save the date! Our in-depth Bible Study Class of Wendy Blight’s latest book, I Know His Name begins Monday, March 7. Click here for registration opens information.

    Do you want to experience more of the Prince of Peace in your life? Stop by Wendy Blight’s blog and sign up for her FREE 5-day devotional for a sneak peek at her new book, I Know His Name: Discovering Power in the Names of God, and a chance to win a signed copy.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Invite the Prince of Peace to rule and reign in your heart today. Personalize the promises we learned today. Insert your name and pray these heartfelt prayers.

    Wake up each morning for the next 7 days and invite the Prince of Peace to fill you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Keep His Name on your lips throughout the day.

    © 2016 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

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