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  • Our Wants, God’s Will

    Our Wants, God’s Will by Wendy Pope

    “I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria ...” 2 Kings 20:6a (NLT)

    Several years ago it seemed my mother’s time to meet the Lord face‑to‑face had come.

    She had contracted an unidentifiable infection in her lungs following a routine gall bladder surgery. The doctors told us nothing else could be done to save her. As we sat in the Intensive Care Unit waiting room, my family prayed and wept. If only God would heal my mom and allow her to stay here on earth a while longer.

    Listening to the machines whoosh and beep, my mind roamed to a familiar prayer request in the Old Testament. Difficulties and hardships are no respecters of time or position, and King Hezekiah was no exception.

    The king had reached the prime of his life. Extreme wealth filled his coffers. He had achieved military success. Long-awaited peace rested over his kingdom, Jerusalem. You might say things were smooth sailing for him. Yet, without notice, a terminal illness struck the great king.

    Hezekiah responded as any of us would if faced with such news. He prayed and wept. He reminded God of his faithful service and wholehearted devotion and begged for more time. This is how God answered him: “I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria …” (2 Kings 20:6a)

    My family took a page out of Hezekiah’s prayer book and reminded the Lord of my mother's wholehearted devotion to Him. We begged for more time. Like Hezekiah, God sustained my mom’s life here on earth — over 20 years and counting!

    I rejoice daily over God’s gift of life to my mother. Yet I’m aware that many of my prayers aren’t answered the way I desire. I have prayed for other faithful servants to recover from illnesses, yet they’ve passed away at an age that seemed too young to me.

    I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve wrestled with God over this. My rationalization goes something like this: “Lord, they could have done more good for Your kingdom. He should have been able to raise his children in a godly manner. She would have served others in Your Name. Now they can’t.”

    Can you relate to my ponderings?

    After losing a dear friend, I knew I had to work out my questions once and for all. There was only one place to take them — Scripture.

    Studying prayer in the Bible, I found the answer I’d been searching for: When praying, I need to focus on God’s will, not solely my wants. Then I can expect Him to hear and know that no matter His answer, He will bring good out of even the hardest situation. This isn’t an easy thing to grasp when the answer is losing a loved one, but I am learning to lean on the Lord’s wisdom when circumstances feel hard.

    Neither my heart nor my mind are equipped to handle or understand the big picture. But God sees the beginning from the end and gives what is good. Difficulties and hardships will strike each of us at different times in our lives. Our best response to them is to cry out to God in prayer, according to His will and rest in His trustworthy answer.

    Lord, forgive me for the times I have focused more on my wants than Your will. I know in my head that Your will is perfect; please help me believe with my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 145:9, “The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.” (NLT)

    1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When circumstances are hard and have you tongue‑tied, you might pray this prayer for comfort and strength. You can follow the example Jesus gave when He taught His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9‑13:

    “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.

    May your Kingdom come soon.

    May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

    Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

    And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” (NLT)

    © 2016 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • What's Next For Widow Connection?

    Previously, we shared with you how Widow Connection started and how Family Christian has partnered with them along the way.

    Now, let’s take a look at what’s in store for 2016 and beyond.

    Along with her daughter, Valerie Neff Hogan, Miriam Neff plans to launch a brand new radio show, called $tarting Over Financially, which will be several 20-minute features that address starting over when life has brought unwanted change.

    “It’s primarily geared to widows but also addresses the same needs to people who have gone through divorce or whose spouse is incarcerated,” Valerie explained, adding that a few topics include assessing one’s financial situation, debt and surplus, document gathering to do a budget and building wealth and worth.

    Miriam and Valerie Miriam and Valerie.

    In addition to working at Widow Connection, Valerie is also an attorney and offers Christian budgeting counseling and financial planning, so her financial experience paired with Miriam’s counseling experience make for a perfect way to offer sound advice to widows in a loving and caring way.

    The idea for $tarting Over Financially came as a result of all the feedback they’ve received from listeners, who have often said they wanted to hear more advice surrounding money.

    Widow Connection’s work will also continue overseas, where they’ve provided skill training to widows in Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and Albania.

    In these countries, widows’ needs are different—compared with the U.S .—because these widows are truly in poverty. One example is the need for clothing. In the U.S., we have access to stores with inexpensive clothing—but these widows do not .

    Widow Connection stepped in to assess these widows’ needs and developed a plan to help. They empower women to support themselves by offering sewing classes, which allows them to provide clothing for their families and earn money by selling the clothing.

    These widows now have the means to earn a living for themselves. And many of them can afford to keep and feed their children, instead of having no other option than to put them in an orphanage.

    We are very thankful for all the work Miriam does and look forward to continuing partnering with her in her mission to help and support widows in distress.

    Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.


    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • Widow Connection: Lori's Story

    It’s difficult for anyone to understand the feeling of becoming a widow without having gone through the unfortunate experience themselves.

    “The temperature in your home isn’t the same. The refrigerator isn’t the same. Sometimes your children don’t want to come to your home because it reminds them of the sadness from losing their dad, and you want them there all the time because you’re lonely,” Miriam said, describing what a widow’s life looks like after she becomes widowed.

    In addition, upon becoming widows, women lose 75% of their friendship networks. That’s why Widow Connection has been a blessing to so many people, including Miriam.

    Through her nonprofit ministry, she’s met and served many widows around the world. One such example is Lori Fox-Ritter, a widow with whom she has become very close.

    Lori’s husband, Eric, lost his battle with ALS on April 21, 2010—four years to the day after Miriam’s husband. At the time, her two children were 7 and 13 years old.

    It wasn’t an instant connection, though.

    Through her friend, Lori found Miriam’s radio program, New Beginnings, about a month after her husband passed away. After listening to an archived version of the broadcast, she felt that Miriam knew her heart and everything that she was going through and wanted to learn more.

    A few weeks later, Lori purchased Miriam’s book, From Widow to Another, and was surprised at what she learned on the first page: Miriam’s husband passed away four years prior to the day Eric did. Both of their “vehicles to Heaven” were ALS, and Lori figured God was telling her to read the book—and that night, she finished it.

    Lori felt very connected to Miriam after reading the book, so she decided to reach out to her on WidowConnection.com. After corresponding over email, they decided to meet in Chicago that December.

    This would mark the beginning of a fresh start for Lori. After meeting Miriam, she was introduced to more widows with whom she could trust and relate to.

    Lori Reading Lori enjoying Miriam's book, From One Widow to Another.

    Following the death of a spouse, life is flipped upside down, but with the encouragement and love of God and others, widows can get back on their feet.

    “That period of time afterwards we can decide to just stay under a rock and not get healthy and not figure it out, or we can say, ‘God gave me this body, and it needs to serve me,’” Miriam said. “One of the things we encourage each other to do is to listen to and take care of yourself, and God is going to love you and comfort you.”

    Miriam noticed these positive changes Lori was making in her life.

    “When I saw the way you were growing and loving your kids, kind of getting your body healthy again, I thought 'this woman is going to encourage a bunch of other women with her journey. And it happened.”

    Miriam invited Lori to be featured on her DVD series, One Widow to Another, and she graciously accepted.

    “I was really excited when she asked me to be part of this. I wanted to be used to share the things that had helped me,” Lori said, when explaining the impact Miriam’s book, website and entire ministry had on her life.

    And it wasn’t just widows that God put in Lori’s life.

    Lori knew she had to be in a good place before entering the dating scene again. She prayed that God would prepare someone’s heart for her. She knew it had to be a Christian man and one with whom she would want to spend the rest of her life. And in 2011, God brought Lori and Todd together, and they’ve been happily married since 2012.

    Today, Lori uses her accounting skills to help her church and her brother with their finances and is more than willing to help new widows the same way Miriam helped her back in 2011.

    As for Widow Connection, they have plans to grow and continue helping widows all over the world. Continue reading to see more about their future.

    Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.


    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • Widow Connection Teams Up With Family Christian

    “Family Christian has been a partner that has literally helped put us on the map,” Miriam said. “They’ve been so important in what Widow Connection is doing today.”

    Miriam Talking Into A Microphone New Beginnings is a 60-second radio spot where Miriam offers wisdom, humor, and insights for widows.

    In our previous post, we introduced Widow Connection, a nonprofit ministry that equips, informs and educates widows in the U.S. and around the world—and all with a biblical basis. They also encourage people in widows’ lives to know how to care for them.

    The ministry was launched in 2007 by Miriam Neff, who only a year prior became a widow herself. After launching WidowConnection.com and authoring her book, From One Widow to Another, she began to think of ways she could reach even more widows.

    In 2009, Miriam’s next goal for Widow Connection was a feature on the radio. Through her research, she learned that stations would carry a one-minute program at no charge. But she still needed funds to record it—and that’s when she reached out to us.

    Soon after Miriam laid out her plan to us, we were on board and New Beginnings was born. The one-minute feature focuses on starting over, whether from a loss of any kind, divorce or financial turmoil—and is an encouraging word to those who listen.

    Once New Beginnings took off, more stations took notice and picked up the show, drawing more people to WidowConnection.com. The website is not only an excellent resource for widows to read other widows’ stories, they but can also email Miriam, who takes time to individually respond to every one of them.

    From a simple 60-second radio spot, many widows were reached and many of their lives were changed.

    Today, New Beginnings is broadcasted on more than 1,000 stations in the U.S.

    Continue reading to discover one widow who was dramatically impacted by Widow Connection, and more specifically, Miriam.

    Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.


    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • Widow Connection: A History

    Six years ago, Miriam Neff walked into a Family Christian store with her daughter, Valerie, and three adopted grandsons, who were in foster care at the time. Our store was hosting an orphan care event, and while the boys enjoyed a craft and snack, Miriam struck up a conversation with a store manager, expressing how impressed she was with the event for orphans and adopted children.

    Miriam with Picture of Grandsons Miriam proudly showing us her grandsons.

    She was thrilled to learn about our commitment to supporting orphans and widows in need through James 1:27, which says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV)

    “That’s awesome! Most people don’t get it. They may do the orphan piece, but they don’t understand that it also says widows,” Miriam said, reflecting on that day.

    In 2006, Miriam became a widow after her husband, Bob, lost his battle with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Immediately she felt ripped apart—feeling as if she was no longer whole—since when people marry, they become one, and Bob was taken away from her.

    Unfortunately, before his passing, Miriam had scheduled her retirement for that same year. So halfway through 2006, she was without her husband and a job.

    It left a large void in her life—one that she was unsure how to fill.

    At first, she tried to find resources that would provide her with guidance financially, emotionally AND spiritually, but what she found was very limited.

    Then she sought to find fulfillment by spending time with Bob’s friends and trying to connect with memories she struggled to hold onto.

    One of these trips led her to Burkina Faso, Africa, where she was asked to teach a group of widows about the Bible. The widows enjoyed it so much they asked her to come back at the same time the next day.

    That night, which also happened to be the seven-month anniversary of Bob’s death, Miriam was sitting in her hotel room when she realized God was calling her to serve widows.

    “I’d never had a calling before,” Miriam said, adding that God asked, “‘Miriam, if you’re not finding these resources, what are you going to do about it?’”

    That was the birth of Widow Connection.

    Miriam began by launching the website, WidowConnection.com, which has grown substantially into a place where widows can seek comfort by reading shared stories from other widows and find resources for their own current situation.

    Next , Miriam wrote her book, From One Widow to Another, and then began thinking about how she could further spread the word about her ministry and serve more widows—that’s when she asked us about our widow outreach, and our partnership would begin.

    Continue reading about how Family Christian and Widow Connection work together today.

    Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.


    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • Pray America: How You've Been Helping Feed Families

    Last November, we shared with you how families in Guatemala were still seeing the effects a drought in 2014 had on their food supply. Many of you donated to help purchase dry ingredients, including corn, rice, beans and salt, for Pray America to distribute to the neediest families in Chichicastenango.

    Your donations helped provide over 90,000 pounds of food. Your donations helped provide over 90,000 pounds of food.

    We’re thrilled to announce that your generous donations have raised enough for 1,733 food kits! Each food kit contains 52 pounds of food and will feed a family for 30–45 days.

    Let’s take a closer look at how God’s amazing plan unfolded:

    Winter 2015

    • Guatemalans are still seeing the effects of a drought in 2014. Ron Morin, Founder and Director of Pray America/Manos de Jesus, asks God how his ministry can be prepared if the drought returns. God responds to build a bodega, or food storehouse. Ron and his team begin to build, not knowing if they’ll have the funds to complete the project. He trusts God and acts.

    Spring 2015

    • God leads Family Christian to develop a ministry plan that includes a 10-day focus on famine relief in Guatemala. We commit to match the first $25,000 that is raised by our guests.
    • We share the great news with Ron, and through tears, Ron proclaims that he now knows why God called him to build the bodega. Still without the funds to finish construction, Ron is firm in God’s plan and continues to walk by faith.
    • A man in the U.S. contacts Ron, saying God put on his heart to donate money to Pray America for a special project. Ron is overjoyed. The funds pay for the bodega’s roof.

    Summer 2015

    • The bodega’s construction is complete. Now the need is to fill it with dry, natural food—corn, rice, beans and salt—that Guatemalans can survive on.

    Fall 2015

    • In November, our 10-day campaign to raise funds to purchase food for the bodega kicks off. Our guests respond, and more than $50,000 is raised in donations!
    • In early December, we learn the famine crisis continues to worsen in Guatemala.
    • Ron travels to our office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graciously accepts the funds to purchase the food for the bodega, and we celebrate God, our Provider.

    January 2016

    • The dry food is purchased and begins to fill God’s bodega.
    • The last week of the month, a mission team from Family Christian travels to Guatemala to serve with Pray America. The team distributes the critically-needed food to families in famine-stricken communities—and the team’s overwhelmed by the joy and relief from each recipient. God’s provision is clear.

    This is a great accomplishment, but there are still so many Guatemalans who need food, and YOU can help! Donate now >

  • Swing Like No One is Watching

    Swing Like No One is Watching by Shelly Faust

    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.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

    Week after week I watch my boy strap on his helmet, grab his bat and walk trembling to the batter’s box. Each time the ball comes, he stands paralyzed, unable to move. Starting Little League baseball as a rookie 10-year-old can be quite intimidating, especially in a small Texas town where most of your teammates have been playing since birth.

    But something about this night feels different. I watch him strap on his helmet, grab his bat and walk — still trembling — to the batter’s box. He digs his cleats in a little deeper, grips his bat a little tighter and stares with a determined focus at the pitcher. This time when the ball comes, he sends it flying into the outfield.

    This new baseball mama wants to jump over the strategically placed barrier fencing between us and tackle #21 as he slides into third base. But wisdom (and my husband) encourage me to practice restraint. So instead, I yell like a crazy woman from my side of the fence.

    What made this night different?

    I can’t say for sure, but maybe my boy decided he finally felt ready. Or maybe, as evidenced by his still trembling knees, he felt afraid but decided to push through the fear that kept him paralyzed all season, frozen in the ready position. Maybe he decided to swing the bat like he did every evening at home in the absence of his peers and opponents.

    Maybe he decided to swing like no one was watching.

    The truth is, my boy isn’t the only one who has stayed frozen in the ready position by fear and intimidation. I have too often given in to this enemy who wars against purpose and potential. I have sometimes walked to first base but rarely have I risked it all at the chance to get in the game and bring my teammates home.

    Maybe you can relate. You’ve trained, prepared and spent intimate moments with Jesus about this thing you’ve been called to do, but your arms and feet just won’t move. It feels too big, too risky.

    Like trusting God with your marriage.

    Leading a Bible study.

    Sharing Jesus with your neighbor.

    Or writing a book.

    The Words from our own Coach, God Almighty, challenge us to “be strong and courageous.” They command us to “not be terrified or afraid,” and remind us “the LORD your God goes with you.

    Whatever the assignment before us, no matter the opposition against us, God is always with us. And the opposing team is put on notice when we choose to act even when our knees tremble.

    Two innings later as my boy steps up to bat, we hear a voice from the outfield nervously yell, “Big hitter!” and the whole team takes a step back.

    The enemy goes scrambling when we choose courage over fear.

    When we believe God will do what He says He’ll do, we can do what we’ve been called to do.

    When we swing the bat like no one is watching, preparation and purpose explode in God’s power.

    Dear Lord, Thank You for creating me with purpose and empowering me to do the things You’ve called me to do. When fear tries to intimidate me and my knees start to tremble, remind me that You are with me. Let courage and strength be my companions. Help me push past every obstacle preventing me from playing my part in Kingdom-building here on earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (NLT)

    Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (AMP)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is one thing God has asked you to do but you’ve been afraid to do it?

    Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what is keeping you from moving forward. What can you do today to take that first step of obedience?

    © 2016 by Shelly Faust. All rights reserved.

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

  • When My Happy Gets Bumped

    When My Happy Gets Bumped by Lysa TerKeurst

    Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:11-12 (NIV)

    Most days, I wake up fairly happy. It’s not like I wake up in the mood for a party, but generally I’m not grumpy when I arise. I wake up and things seem pretty good, level and fresh with possibilities. But then inevitably something — or someone — will bump into my happy.

    An early morning meltdown by one of my people.

    Or a difficult email that makes my heart sink.

    Or me underestimating my time and suddenly everything is rushed, hurried and stressful.

    Or my husband, Art, lowering the thermostat in the house to 68 degrees and I can’t stop shivering until the temperature hovers closer to 72. It’s amazing how much difference four degrees makes.

    Things happen. Things that bump into my happy. And suddenly I’m a little off-kilter and a little less nice.

    Can you relate?

    Well, I’m learning something about a little mental perspective I need to have when things bump into my happy. In that moment, Satan is scheming to have me help him out. If he can just get me jostled to the point where I react out of anger, it’s like lighting a spark near a puddle of gasoline.

    Even the smallest spark can ignite quite a fire. A fire that can spread and feel much bigger than what the situation ever should have been.

    Take the temperature situation, for example.

    It should be just a simple discussion about the thermostat. But, add a little anger and suddenly things in my brain escalate to the point where I’ve just about convinced myself Art is completely insensitive and couldn’t care less about me.

    Is that true? Of course not. He just likes to sit in his house without sweating. Surely, we could find a compromise with the temperature or I could go put on some socks and a sweatshirt.

    Instead, when he bumps into my happy, a “growth opportunity” ensues that leaves us both feeling a little burned.

    In other words, I play right into Satan’s scheme and help him out. Remember, Satan’s plan is to cause separation. Be it a temperature issue, tight finances, a misunderstood statement or one of the millions of little things that can bump into our happy … we have a choice.

    We can choose to play into Satan’s schemes and enable his attempts to separate us from God’s best. Or, we can choose to fight for our relationships and against Satan’s divisive attempts. When I think about it in these terms, it helps me identify the real enemy.

    My real enemy isn’t any of the people who bump my happy. My real enemy is the one who tries with all his might to get me to jump into a grumpy mood and help him tear down all that I love.

    Knowing I need a strategy against these attacks, I turn to the wisdom found in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

    You better back up and back off, Satan. I’m onto your schemes. You are the real enemy, not my people. And now I have a totally new game plan for when my happy gets bumped.

    Starting with finding just the right pair of socks and a sweatshirt to wear in the ice cave.

    Dear Lord, sometimes my happy gets bumped and my emotions get the best of me. Help me react in a way that honors You instead of reacting in a way that will fuel Satan’s agenda. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What bumps into your happy and sends you off-kilter?

    Are there any relationships in your life where Satan is using those very things to cause division and strife? Stop and ask the Lord to help you see who the real enemy is and to bring healing and restoration to those relationships.

    © 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Note from Karen Kingsbury

    People ask why I chose to write about angels, why I was drawn to the light side of the supernatural. The easy answer is this: It’s in the Bible. In Hebrews 13 we are advised to entertain strangers, because in doing so some of us have entertained angels without knowing it.

    But there is another reason I wrote my Angels Walking series.

    It happened in 2007 on a hot, summer afternoon, when my father suffered a massive heart attack. One minute he was talking with my mom, and the next he was out. Laid back in his recliner like he’d fallen into a deep sleep.

    My nephew Andrew was thirteen at the time. He called 911 and an operator talked him through giving my father CPR for the next fourteen minutes. By the time paramedics arrived, my dad was blue and unresponsive. Andrew ran into the next room and started sobbing. He thought he’d done something wrong.

    The house was chaotic, the paramedics working feverishly on my dad. Suddenly a police officer rushed into the house and pulled my mother aside. “Do you believe in Jesus?” he asked.

    “Yes!” she cried. “We’re believers.”

    With a peace-filled intensity, the man looked straight into my mom’s eyes. “We’re going to pray that the power that raised Lazarus from the dead breathes life into your husband right now.” He pointed back to where young Andrew was still crying. “Otherwise that boy will spend the rest of his life thinking this was his fault.”

    The very second the officer said, “Amen,” from the other room the head paramedic yelled, “We have a heartbeat!”

    My dad lived another six weeks. We laughed and talked and remembered every wonderful moment. We prayed every possible prayer. When he died, our family was at peace. Later my mom tried to find the officer who randomly came into the house to pray with her that day. She called the police station. No one had ever heard of the man.

    We came to believe that the officer was an angel, sent in response to prayers being cried out from Atlanta to Los Angeles. An angel maybe on an Angels Walking mission. Now you know why I wrote this series, and why I can’t wait for you to read the final installment: Brush of Wings.

  • When You’re Not Ready for the Season of Life You’re In

    When You’re Not Ready for the Season of Life You’re In by Chrystal Evans Hurst

    Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16b (NIV)

    It's official ... I’m the mother of the mother of a child. Just call me the #MMC.

    I hope you understood what I’m trying to say because I can’t bring myself to say the “G” word yet.

    My daughter and her husband graced us with their daughter the day before Christmas. Yes, our new little princess is beautiful. Yes, I feel all of the love in the world for her. Yes, her birth was wonderful and beautifully surreal.

    But her birth means a change in seasons for me. And I’m not ready.

    But it doesn’t matter because she’s here, and I’m officially a gr … Mother of a mother of a child.

    Seasons change, don't they? Life shifts.

    One day you can describe yourself and your life one way, and the next day that description can totally change.

    Sometimes those shifts are welcomed and celebrated. Other times those shifts are regarded with a bit of anxiety. Life is always changing.

    Maybe the changes you've recently experienced or anticipate in the near future have you so excited you can't stand it. Or maybe those changes are making you so nervous that you shake a little in your boots every time you think about them.

    Either way, life has seasons — some of which we are ready for and some we simply don’t think befitting or suitable for who we think we are or what we think our life should look like.

    I don’t think Ruth expected her season of widowhood.

    A young girl gets married expecting to be happy, to have a family, to live together for a long time. Instead, as we read in Ruth 1:3‑5, Ruth faced a childless, widowed and destitute existence after her husband passed away. There was no one to ensure financial security, nuclear community or generational progeny. Her future was not what she expected, and her identity shifted as a result.

    Maybe your season in life has shifted unexpectedly...

    • Young wife. Now widowed.
    • Working. Now unemployed.
    • Healthy. Now ill.
    • Married. Now divorced.
    • Calm. Now stressed.
    • Comfortable. Now stretched.

    Not all shifts in seasons are negative. Some simply push us into places that require a major adjustment in our hearts, mind or will...

    • Employed. Now the promotion is more than you bargained for.
    • Childless. Now motherhood is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
    • Single. Now marriage is not as straightforward or simple as you thought it would be.
    • Content. Now God has led you to a place where dependence on Him means discomfort or uncertainty and forces you to grow in your faith.
    • Unbeliever. Now you know Jesus Christ, but reading the Bible is like reading a foreign language and you’re frustrated trying to figure out this Christian thing.

    The book of Ruth is the story of girl who trusted God with the unforeseen, the unanticipated and the surprising. She teaches us that by embracing the changing seasons of life and the circumstances that God allows, we can come to see God in a new light as we walk through new situations.

    Yet as we see in today’s key verse, Ruth tackled her new season head on. Even though her shift in season was unexpected, life-changing and unsettling, she embraced it.

    She moved fully into the season of life God allowed, trusting that in the end it was God who was her Sustainer and Provider. She trusted Him with her identity, her station in life and the direction of her story. And in trusting Him she learned that new seasons, even the unexpected ones, can lead to the most beautiful places.

    What does it mean to be a gr … grandmother?

    I have no idea.

    But I do know that Ruth’s decision to walk with bravery and boldness into a new season paved her way to be the grandmother of King David and ultimately in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

    Even though I probably will forever consider myself to be 27, I think embracing this new life-changing, redefining season of my life will allow me to see what God looks like as I walk fully in this place. And I might even be surprised by the impact He allows me to make in His power.

    What does it mean for you to be widowed or a wife, unemployed or promoted, divorced or in a blended family, financially strapped or financially responsible, a new Christian or a seasoned saint?

    I don’t know.

    But I do know we should walk boldly into the seasons that God allows, trusting that He will show us how to maximize each moment we have there.

    Dear God, I don’t know how to handle the season I’m in. Please show me how You would have me to operate in this place and give me strength to move forward in a way that brings You glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (NIV)

    Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” (NASB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you believe that the God Ruth served is the same God we serve today? If so, how do your words or actions show you trust Him?

    Do you have practical tips to share for embracing either the welcome or even the unwelcome seasons of life? Share those in the comment section so that they might be an encouragement for someone today.

    © 2016 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

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