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  • If I Have to Fold One More Piece of Laundry …

    Wendy Pope AUGUST 17, 2015

    If I Have to Fold One More Piece of Laundry … WENDY POPE

    "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault.’" Philippians 2:14-15a (NIV)

    Dear Mom, I refuse to accept the fact that I have to do my responsibilities by myself. Love, Blaire

    My 6-year-old daughter wrote this letter to me in protest of her chores.

    Her bold stance cracked me up, and the articulate manner in which she stated her case made me proud.

    I went to her room to explain, that although I appreciated her initiative, she still needed to complete her chores … and with a good attitude.

    Throughout Blaire’s young life, we taught her that her attitude was just as important as her responsibilities. Like most children, she still complained and argued.

    Sometimes it would have been easier for me to do her chores rather than train her to adjust her attitude. But I knew that wasn’t the best approach. So I prayed and asked the Lord how I could teach my children not to complain and argue about their responsibilities. God gave me this answer: Lead by example.

    One day, as the kids were watching a movie in the living room, I dragged in another basket of laundry and plopped it on the couch.

    As I folded, I started to murmur under my breath, "If I have to fold one more piece of laundry …" before I stopped myself. Looking back, I realized I often complained while completing my responsibilities.

    It was time I acknowledged to myself that I’d been setting the wrong example.

    Philippians 2:14-15a says, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault.’"

    When we complete our responsibilities without complaining and with a happy heart, our children will know how to do the same.

    Children imitate what they see. At that time in my life the Lord was refining and pruning my attitude, and one area that needed care was how I approached my chores. My heart harbored negativity toward caring for my household tasks. This directly impacted my children’s behavior and dispositions. I determined to allow God to change my heart so I’d be a better example for my kids.

    I decided to:

      • Renew my heart each morning. (Psalm 90:14) I quickly realized how different my attitude was when I started each day with prayer.


      • Repent of the sin in my heart daily. (Psalm 51:10) I had to confess my wrong attitudes every day. Otherwise, my heart became heavy when I carried them from day to day.


      • Rend my heart. (Joel 2:12-13) What I put in my heart definitely came out. There were changes I had to make about what I put in my heart and mind. This meant adjusting what I heard and saw to keep a positive attitude.


    • Rest my heart when necessary. (Psalm 127:2) Rest needed to be more of a priority. It was hard with children and the amount of work I had to do, but I had to set a bedtime and stick to it even if the laundry wasn’t put away.

    Whatever duties are yours to finish today, set your heart to do them without complaining. You’ll bless the Lord and inspire those around you.

    Lord, thank You for encouraging me today with Your Word. I pray Your spirit will prompt me to respond to my responsibilities in a way that is pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Trusting God for a Better Tomorrow: A Psalms Bible Study by Wendy Pope is available in e-book and soft cover.

    Visit Wendy’s blog for more encouragement about cultivating a happy heart.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Ask the people around you to point out any time you complain. Sometimes we don’t notice it in ourselves, but others do.

    Look for the blessing in your responsibility. For example, if it’s folding laundry, thank the Lord for clean clothes. If it’s washing dishes, praise Him for running water. Gratitude kicks grumpiness out of the heart.

    © 2015 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Let’s Stop Begging for Acceptance

    Lynn Cowell AUGUST 14, 2015

    Let’s Stop Begging for Acceptance LYNN COWELL

    "Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong." Acts 3:7 (NIV)

    I shouldn’t even be thinking this.

    But that didn’t change the fact that I was.

    The parade of beautiful women dancing at the game during halftime sent my mind reeling.

    How did they get to be so … perfect?

    To be honest, my thoughts caught me off guard. Of all things! Body image is a topic I often speak and write about to girls and women. Why was I thinking these thoughts, especially considering most of the women were probably 20 years my junior?

    My body was in the bleachers, but my mind was at the gate.

    Let me explain.

    In Acts 3:1, Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, were on their way to the temple to pray when they saw a crippled man. Every day this man was put outside the temple gate to beg. Because of its size and magnificence, the name of this entrance into the temple court area was called Beautiful.

    When the crippled man saw Peter and John entering the gate, he asked them for money. "… Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them" (Acts 3:4b-5, NIV).

    The crippled man had a need and he looked to others to meet it.

    As I read this encounter, the name of the gate struck me.


    I immediately thought of our children as they head back to school. Our culture’s obsession with external, physical beauty can put them in a place similar to the beggar. Ads, TV and social media constantly shout what acceptable looks like. And it doesn’t stop there. They might even receive signals to become beautiful from friends and yes, even from us, their family.

    Other times, pressure to arrive at Beautiful comes from within. Every day many of us go to our closets, mirrors or make-up bags for the tools we think we need to achieve beauty.

    The gate called Beautiful might be the scale we hope will tell us the right number, the gym we join to become the right size or the mall we cruise through looking for the right outfit.

    We go to the gate Beautiful and there we beg for what we need for that day: acceptance, approval and affirmation. It’s not enough to sustain us, though. Tomorrow, searching again, we’ll return.

    We’ll go back and so will our children. They’re watching us, taking their cue on how to be acceptable from us.

    The crippled man had to beg every day as well. I’m sure he never dreamed Jesus would meet his needs for good.

    We each desire value and significance. As our children head back to school, they also need to find approval in their world.

    Like the crippled man in today’s key verse, Jesus offers His helping hand to each of us. It’s the hand that will heal us, and put our begging days behind us. Jesus wants us to stop begging at society’s gate for what He freely gives.

    With the power of the Holy Spirit we can say: "No more!" No more will we beg when Christ died to give us the acceptance we need. Like the crippled man, let’s take His hand and look to Him each day for strength and approval.

    Dear Jesus, I don’t want to go to the gate of society’s definition of beautiful. I don’t want to pass this burden on to my friends and family, either. You are the One who has everything I need for significance and strength. Today, I come to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 3:3-4, "Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on jewelry, or beautiful clothes, or hair arrangement. Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is so precious to God." (TLB)

    Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you know a young woman who needs to become strong in Christ, purchase Lynn Cowell’s book Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants for her. Magnetic is a study based on God’s view of strong and beautiful — the fruit of the Spirit!

    Bring today’s message to the women and girls of your community. Stop by Lynn’s blog today for more information on hosting or attending an event.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What things in culture trigger self-doubt in your life when it comes to seeing yourself as beautiful? Make a conscious decision to reject those today in light of who God created you to be.

    Ask God to show you how to develop beautiful strength in the life of someone around you.

    © 2015 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Received

    Alicia Bruxvoort AUGUST 13, 2015

    The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Received ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed)" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (VOICE)

    The best marriage advice I ever received was to stand on a chair and clap.

    I was 20 years old with a sparkling ring on my finger and shimmering dreams in my heart. And I was certain my upcoming wedding marked the beginning of my own happily ever after.

    I’d made it a habit during my engagement to meet frequently with my mentor about love and life and marriage. We’d huddle together in the back corner of the Student Union, chatting about the challenges of two selfish people becoming one. We’d discussed intimacy and affinity, fighting fairly and forgiving.

    And we prayed. Oh, how we prayed over the marriage that would soon change my name and my life.

    Then, one afternoon, I asked, "What’s your best advice for a happy marriage?" My mentor cupped her coffee mug and paused. Suddenly, she smiled and looked me straight in the eye.

    "Be your husband’s greatest fan," she said. "Find something to celebrate every day, then stand on a chair and cheer out loud for your man."

    She swallowed a giggle and glanced at her own wedding ring. "It may sound silly," she conceded, "but it’s worked for us."

    I laughed and promised to refine my cheerleading skills. And, for a while, I kept my word.

    As a newlywed, I stood on a battered old kitchen chair in our tiny white-walled apartment and applauded my man with gusto. I cheered when he landed a job delivering pizzas, when he made omelets for breakfast, and when he hauled home baskets of clean clothes from the laundromat. I cheered when he passed his school exams and when he fixed our leaky faucet.

    But I wasn’t the only cheerleader in our little family.

    My husband climbed on chairs, too. He applauded when I made a batch of un-burnt brownies. He cheered when I survived my first day of student teaching. And he whooped and hollered when I got my first article published in the local newspaper. My man rooted for me when the rest of the world seemed silent, and his cheers drowned out my own internal critic’s noisy clanging.

    Time passed, seasons changed and eventually those hands that had clapped with unabashed abandon became filled with babies, bills, diapers and the daily grind. And one morning, five kids and 10 years after I’d promised to be my husband’s greatest fan, I awoke to the hopeless hush of a weary heart.

    I watched a sweet older couple strolling hand-in-hand through the park as I sat in the sandbox with my little ones, and wondered how anyone could keep love’s flame alight for a lifetime. I was only a decade into marriage and some days, I felt like the spark in my heart was waning dim.

    That night, while my husband worked late, I complained to the Lord about the sorry state of my marriage. As the moonlight cast silver shadows on the dirty living room floor, God whispered, "When was the last time you cheered for your husband?"

    I’d rooted for my son when he’d caught a fly ball at his baseball game. I’d clapped for my daughter when she’d made it across the monkey bars. And I’d cheered for my toddler when he’d eaten all of his peas.

    But I couldn’t remember the last time I’d applauded my husband for anything.

    The image of a beat-up kitchen chair flashed through my mind, and hot tears filled my tired eyes. I dropped to my knees with a tidal wave of conviction flooding my heart and an earnest prayer spilling from my lips, "Dear Jesus, show me how to become my husband’s greatest fan once again."

    In today’s key verses, the Apostle Paul doesn’t mention standing on chairs or clapping our hands, but he does command us to celebrate always

    Not just when we feel like it. Always.

    This kind of celebration isn’t a well-planned party or inspired whimsy; this kind of celebration is a choice. It’s a deliberate barrage against ingratitude, a calculated attack on apathy.

    To celebrate our spouse always means looking for what’s right rather than bemoaning what’s wrong. We focus on hope rather than wallow in disappointment; we acknowledge extraordinary grace in life’s ordinary grit.

    To celebrate always is a daily decision to fan the flames of love in every season of the soul … ’til death do us part.

    Standing on furniture and clapping loudly is optional, but rejoicing in good times and bad is not. Of course, if I were you, I’d practice a few spunky moves when nobody’s looking.

    ’Cause after 22 years of sacred matrimony, I’ve learned that cheerleading may be hard on my kitchen chairs, but it’s good for my marriage!

    Dear God, I want to be my husband’s greatest fan. Grow in me a grateful heart and teach me how to celebrate my marriage in all circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 12:12, "Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer." (VOICE)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Dr. Kim Kimberling’s new book, 7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage: Strengthen Your Most Intimate Relationship, can help you revive the spark of love in your marriage.

    Visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog for more encouragement and the chance to win a celebration package for you and your husband.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Find one reason to applaud your mate today. Stand on a chair and cheer or express a word of thanks through a text or a written note.

    Pray for your husband today. Confess any ingratitude to God and ask Him to give you one tangible idea to show your mate you’re his greatest fan.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Want to Quit

    Chrystal Evans Hurst AUGUST 12, 2015

    When You Want to Quit CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    " … Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1b (NLT)

    My youngest son is an athlete at heart. He runs every race hard.

    During track season, he frequently walks off the asphalt in tears, heaving, because he has given every drop of his energy to running his race.

    At a recent track meet, my 6-year-old was the third leg runner on his relay team. As the runner before him got closer, my son moved forward and extended his arm back to receive the baton.

    At that point, they were in fourth place. Well this son of mine hates, and I mean HATES, to lose. So he sprinted fast.

    Too fast in fact.

    From the sidelines, we saw how much energy he exerted. He was trying to close the distance between himself and the three teams in front of him.

    He did it too.

    He passed the guy in third quickly.

    He zoomed past the guy in second.

    And before the first 100-meter curve was complete he had moved in front of the little guy in first place!

    He held that first place position for the second 100 meters. But somewhere around the 200-meter mark, his energy waned, his legs started "talking to him," and he started slowing down. He was tired after having spent so much energy catching up — and it showed.

    During the third 100 meters, he fell from first to second and it appeared that he would soon fall back to third. But right at the moment that the runner behind him threatened to catch him, my little runner heard a familiar voice.

    My husband was waiting for him at the last 100 meters. He was shouting to our little runner that the finish line was near. "Focus on the finish, son!

    "Don’t quit!

    "Hold your ground!

    "Dig deep and focus on the finish!"

    Between the sound of my husband’s voice and the breath on the back of his neck from the boy in third place, my son apparently found a new source of strength.

    The look on his face changed from numb exhaustion to a grimace of pure agony and determination all mixed together. A renewed focus made all the difference in his ability to fight to the finish. His legs starting moving faster as he held his ground and pushed to the end of his race to hand the baton to the team member to run after him.

    Life is like that sometimes. It’s like a race you’re trying to run, even though you’ve exhausted your resources and are simply out of steam.

    Yet the writer of Hebrews encourages us in today’s key verse to "run with endurance the race God has set before us."

    Maybe you’re worn out from doing too much, too fast. Maybe your body presents a challenge as you battle physical ailments that slow you down. Maybe your emotional or mental energy is low as you fight to maintain a positive outlook and trust God for His best, even though it seems like you only fall further behind in your finances, relationships or career.

    Focus on the finish, my friend.

    Don’t quit.

    I want to encourage you today to hold your ground and dig deep. Run that race with endurance.

    Whatever God has asked you to do, do it well. Your race will not last forever, so give it all you’ve got. I can’t promise that it won’t be hard or won’t require some serious determination, but I can promise you God is watching and cheering you on as you fight to the finish.

    Dear God, I’ve been running and I’m tired. I’m tempted to give up and quit trying, but I want to run my race well and live my life well for You. Help me to fight to the finish on this leg of my journey. Help me to renew my focus, hold my ground and dig deep. I want to run my race in a way that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’d like to know more about embracing the race that God wants you to run, check out Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst.

    Click here to download a free printable Chrystal has made available for you to stay focused on your race.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What race has God asked you to run that seems especially difficult right now?

    What is the "finish line" you will focus on today as you "hold your ground" and "dig deep"? What will you do differently after reading today’s devotional?

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Nobody is a Nobody

    Jennifer Rothschild AUGUST 11, 2015

    Nobody is a Nobody Jennifer Rothschild

    "… In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God’s Somebody." Hosea 1:10 (The Message)

    She greeted me as I entered the cafeteria on Parents’ Day, with a voice as warm and sweet as hot chocolate. Our eldest son, Clayton, was a college freshman and this was the first time we’d been back to visit him. We’d met faculty members, the dorm resident director and lots of his new friends. So, when this woman greeted me, I politely asked, "Now, tell me who you are?"

    The woman hesitated. Her pause made me wonder if I had said something wrong. Maybe she wasn’t accustomed to being asked this question. Maybe, I thought, I should know who she is. I imagine she looked down and saw my white cane and realized I was blind, and that might be why she answered in such a kind tone: "Oh, Ma’am. I’m nobody. I just clean tables."

    I reached toward her and found her hand. "You are not a nobody! You are not just a table cleaner!" I told her. "My name is Jennifer. What’s yours?" She laughed and told me her name.

    As I said goodbye and walked with my son to our table, I thought to myself, That woman is not a nobody! Nobody is a nobody!

    And it’s true, isn’t it? Nobody is a nobody, and nobody is just a table cleaner. Or, just a mom. Or, just a clerk. Or, just a housekeeper. Or, just a teacher. Or, just an … anything! But we often find ourselves in places or seasons of life where we feel like a nobody. It can be hard to see our own value if we feel constantly overlooked, or when we associate our value with our virtue. You know, if we are good, we are worthy of being acknowledged. If we behave, we merit attention.

    There was a woman who lived back in the 8th century B.C. who probably felt like a nobody. Her name was Gomer. I bet if someone asked, "Who are you?" She’d probably shrug and say, "Oh, I’m nobody." Or, she might say, "I’m a mess. I’ve got a past I’m ashamed of. I was a prostitute. I’m nobody."

    But her answer should be, "I am not a nobody, I am Gomer. I am loved and accepted and, yes, I am prone to wander."

    Gomer had been a prostitute, but she became a prophet’s wife. Her identity changed when she said "I do" to Hosea. When you declared "I do" to Jesus, you received a new identity, too.

    You became God’s somebody! When you are in Christ, you are a new creation!

    You are not your current failures or your past mistakes. You are not your successes or your virtues. You are not what you do, what you did, what you haven’t done, what you should have done or what you wish you’d done. You are not what you have gone through. You are not what someone else has said about you. You are not a nobody! You are a chosen, loved woman whom God calls His beloved.

    His beloved … that is who God sees when He looks at you. Can you begin to accept the you God sees?

    Just like Gomer, you are a somebody — a loved, significant somebody. God chose you even when you felt like a nobody. He loved you while you were still a sinner (Romans 5:8). God didn’t choose to love you because you were some spectacular somebody. He didn’t choose to love you because you were already lovely. He loved you and, then, you became lovely. Your value comes from His inherent value.

    You’re already loved, so you just need to embrace how God sees you. Yet, how do you do this … especially on those days when you feel like a nobody?

    Here’s one sentence — just one little sentence — packed with big truth to help you when you feel like a nobody. Write it down, memorize it and repeat it to yourself: How I feel is not who I am.

    Now, say it to yourself out loud! How I feel is not who I am! Good job! Say it over and over. How I feel is not who I am!

    From one somebody to another, let’s remember the truth that we are not how we feel! We are God’s somebodies!

    Lord, because You are worthy, I have worth. Help me to find my identity and value in You and You alone. Protect me from the lie that says I am what I do or how I feel. I choose to walk in the truth today with Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Titus 3:4-7, "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve ever felt unimportant or insecure, you’ll discover like Gomer, that you have never been invisible to God. Get a Free Audio Book and other freebies with your purchase of Invisible: How You Feel Is Not Who You Are, a brand new book by Jennifer Rothschild.

    To get Jennifer’s blog updates by email, visit her website.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Invisible: How You Feel is Not Who You Are by Jennifer Rothschild. In celebration of this book, Jennifer’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, August 17.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When was the last time you felt like a nobody?

    The next time you begin to feel like a nobody, remind yourself: You are God’s somebody. How you feel is not who you are. You are God’s chosen beloved.

    © 2015 by Jennifer Rothschild. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House 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

  • How to Trust God With Your Children

    Tracie Miles AUGUST 10, 2015

    How to Trust God With Your Children TRACIE MILES

    "It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command." Hebrews 11:23 (NLT)

    When my first-born child Morgan went off to college, I didn’t handle it well.

    Even though I was excited for her and this new stage of life, anxiety, worries and concern over her safety and her future began to feel like a tourniquet on my heart.

    As the summer months after graduation flew by, Morgan and I spent lots of fun time together making all the preparations for college living. August finally arrived and we were all filled with nervous excitement. I managed to make it through the move-in day without shedding a tear. But when the time came for us to head home, I felt like I was leaving my baby on a doorstep in a tattered basket and walking away.

    The tears started pouring! And continued over the next week. I cried so often, I thought my tear ducts would dry up completely.

    These were not necessarily sad tears, just mama tears filled with mixed emotions, coupled with the reality that my little girl was growing up and this new season of life was here to stay.

    After a week of being teary-eyed, I received a wake-up call from my other daughter Kaitlyn. She said, "Morgan didn’t leave forever, Mom, she just went to college."

    Her comment took me by surprise, and we had a good chuckle. But it also helped me recognize that I needed to stop stressing everyone out (including myself) by being overly emotional, and start trusting God with my most precious commodity — my children.

    I realized I’d spent so much time worrying about Morgan, that I hadn’t spent enough time entrusting her into God’s care.

    This experience brought to mind a biblical mother who literally did put her child in a basket and entrusted him into God’s care. Moses’ mother Jochebed knew Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had ordered all Hebrew baby boys be killed. Pharoah feared the Israelites would soon outnumber and overpower the Egyptians.

    Jochebed hid her newborn son Moses for three months, but then knew she could protect him no longer. So the Bible tells us, "she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River" (Exodus 2:3b, NLT).

    Leaving my daughter at college was hard, but imagine how Jochebed must have felt, watching her precious baby floating down the river in a basket. A million things could have gone wrong; she could have fretted over every worst-case scenario possible. Instead, she entrusted her child to God Himself.

    Although we don’t know exactly what Jochebed was feeling, I like to think she believed God had a plan and purpose for her child’s life, giving her the courage to step away from the basket. Jochebed soon learned God orchestrated Pharoah’s daughter to bathe in the river at the perfect time, rescue Moses from the basket and commit to raise him as her own. Then Pharoah’s daughter even hired Jochebed to nurse him until he was older.

    Jochebed must have believed God loved her child more than she did, especially as she saw His incredible plans fall into place.

    As moms, we want to keep our kids safe, protect them from pain, fix their problems, make their decisions and steer them in the right direction. However, there comes a time when we realize we aren’t in control anymore and have to accept that our children’s futures are in God’s hands, not ours.

    Whether your child is starting kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, this is the time of year when parents can trust God and believe He has good plans for their children’s lives.

    What comfort and peace it brings to remember God is always in control and ever present in our children’s lives, even when we can no longer be.

    Lord, help me keep my worries at bay as I send my child off into the next phase of life. Give me a confident faith to believe You are always with them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Joshua 1:9, "This is my command — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (NLT)

    Isaiah 40:11, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Visit Tracie Miles’ blog for six tips on what not to do when your child goes off to college.

    For encouragement on how to make God’s peace a reality in your life when parenting seems to be a source of stress, consider purchasing Tracie’s book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you trusting your abilities to protect your child(ren) more than you’re trusting God’s? How might you need to change that perspective?

    Think about your top three fears for your children. Ask God to replace those fears with trust and help you live in courageous faith that He is in control.

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Planning the Perfect Life

    Amy Carroll AUGUST 7, 2015

    Planning the Perfect Life AMY CARROLL

    "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

    I was the girl with the Five-Year Plan. In my heart, I carried a list of all I wanted to achieve, experience and accomplish. When I talked about the Five-Year Plan, I’d act like it was no big deal, and I’d laugh about it. Yet in reality … It. Was. No. Joke. I held it tightly.

    At the age of 20, my Five-Year Plan included finishing my education degree, teaching for a year, going to Bible college for a year, and then heading to the mission field. It seemed logical to me.

    When I was 8 years old, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. At 12, a missionary who spoke at my church planted a seed of growing passion for the nations. So I designed my schedule to achieve these plans the millisecond after I left college. After all, God had planted these dreams in my heart. It was my job to fulfill them, right?

    Sounded perfect to me!

    About two years into the Five-Year Plan, my "perfect" plan was interrupted by a tall, blue-eyed man who wasn’t part of what I had written onto my extended calendar. I told my mom he wasn’t my type before our first date.

    Then I married him.

    That might seem like an odd juxtaposition, and it was. Nine months after I declared Barry Carroll "not my type," I walked down the aisle toward him, my white dress trailing behind me. I was so choked with love and the overwhelming solemnity of the occasion that I could barely gasp out my vows.

    This year we celebrated our Silver Anniversary, and my bridegroom is the best interruption to my plans that ever happened to me. It turns out, God’s Word is true. "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21).

    Sometimes it takes an interruption of our perfect plan to start the life that’s perfect for us.

    When I was young, I thought plans were revealed, but it turns out life unfolds. Those dreams God planted in my heart as a girl? They’ve come to pass one by one over the past 25 years, and I’m living some dreams I never imagined at all.

    Are you a planner? Good for you! Plan away, but hold those plans with open hands and a heart ready to wait.

    Just this morning as I read 2 Peter 3, I found plans that all of us should hold tightly while we leave the unfolding of our circumstances to the Lord. "What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2 Peter 3:11b-12a, NIV). We should all plan who we’re going to be, rather than what we’re going to do.

    Are you frustrated by a lack of plans? It’s okay. Really. God is no less in control of your life than the other planners’ lives around you. Wait. Watch for Him, and let His plan unfold. You’re probably better off than we planners who constantly struggle to let go and recalibrate as God works. You can help your planner friends relax and go with God’s flow!

    I’ve given up my Five-Year Plan, and I’m learning to wake up each day determined to sync my calendar to God’s. He’s the faithful unfolder of my days.

    Lord, I trust You to fulfill Your plans in my life, and I surrender my own plans to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)

    2 Thessalonians 3:5, "May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: In Amy’s new book Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You, she reveals how we all can find more joy in a less-than-perfect life.

    Amy invites you to stop by her blog today, where she’s giving away a of copy Breaking Up with Perfect.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Are you a planner? List some of the things you’ve included in your Five-Year Plan. Put a check by the ones that have come to pass. When you look at the rest, can you identify places in your life that have been better than your original idea of perfection? Write those events on your list, and thank God for them.

    Are you frustrated by a lack of plans right now? Write out a prayer thanking God for holding your life in His hands. Tell Him you trust Him for every detail of your future, even though it’s unclear to you. Ask Him to help you on the days that fear and uncertainty seem overwhelming.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • What Are You Missing?

    Lysa TerKeurst AUGUST 6, 2015

    What Are You Missing? LYSA TERKEURST

    "The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." Psalm 14:2 (NIV)

    A few summers ago, my son Mark was working at a family camp. While the mountains were breathtaking, the friends were plentiful and the food was every teenager’s dream, he missed home. Not horribly — but just enough to tug on the vulnerable places of his heart.

    I knew he needed some sweet comfort from home. So, I packaged up some things he needed and a few items I knew would make him happy and sent my gift of love.

    After a few days, I kept wondering when I’d get a text from him with smiles and "Thank you!" and "Wow! You’re the best mom ever!" messages. A girl can dream, right?

    But no text message came.

    Each day that went by, I grew more and more frustrated by his lack of acknowledgement of my gift. I started to wonder if he’d even received it. So I had Art, my non-emotional husband, call because he could simply ask, "Did you get the package from Mom?"

    Our son answered, "Oh yeah, I did get a box from Mom, but I haven’t opened it yet."


    Who receives a gift of love packaged up and sent to them and doesn’t even take the time to open it?

    In that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit prick my soul, "Lysa, sometimes you do this very same thing. Oh, if you only knew the number of experiences God Himself has packaged up and sent your way that you didn’t take time to open …

    "Or the number of times God has planted a bunch of wildflowers at the end of your driveway just to make you smile, but in the rush of where you were headed, you didn’t notice …

    "Or the number of times God has treasures in His Word waiting for you to uncover that would perfectly prepare you for something you’d be facing that day, if only you’d lingered with Him a little longer."

    Today’s key verse, Psalm 14:2, reminds us, "The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."

    I wish this verse were worded differently. I wish this verse read: "The LORD looks down from heaven to see MANY who understand, MANY who seek God." But that’s not the reality of the verse. And sadly, sometimes in the rush of all I feel I must do, it’s not the reality of my life.

    I want it to be. But my soul is so prone to distractions.

    Seeking — really seeking — is more than just reading a few verses from the Bible in the morning and trying to be a good person that day. Seeking requires me to sacrifice the things I feel compelled to chase so I can be available to notice God’s clear direction.

    Whatever we chase, like it or not, gains our full attention.

    And I wonder sometimes why I feel a little insecure — a little unsettled — a little disappointed with things I thought would make me so happy. I guess you could say sometimes I get a little homesick.

    While I love vacationing here in this world for however many years the Lord will give me, I know where my real home is, and I know Who is waiting for me there.

    And now I know He takes time to tie up little care packages from home — a few things I need, a few things I’m supposed to pass on to others, and a few things He knows will simply bring me joy.

    Then God waits … to see … if I’ll notice — if I’ll remember … if today will be the day … that I lift up my face … pause in the busyness … and really seek Him.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for all the times I’ve rushed by Your gifts and overlooked Your blessings. Today, I want to pause and really seek You with all I’ve got. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Learn more about un-rushing your schedule so you can experience God with Lysa’s book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Purchase your copy here.

    Slow down this week and join us for a free, 5-day "Unrush Me" Challenge. Each day, you’ll have biblical encouragement sent to your inbox. Sign up now!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take time out of your schedule today to look at the gifts from God in your life and thank Him for each one.

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Giving God Your Not Enough

    T. Suzanne Eller AUGUST 5, 2015

    Giving God Your Not Enough SUZIE ELLER

    "As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’" Luke 21:1-4 (NIV)

    I put my 2-year-old twins in the back of the shopping cart and my 3-year-old in the front seat. I only needed a few items and didn’t want to drag out the double stroller with the extra seat in back.

    Everything was going well until I passed a line of shiny new Big Wheels. I scooped the twins out of the cart and then turned to get Leslie. I thought it would be fun to show them to the kids.

    That’s when I heard a whoosh!

    Ryan jumped on one Big Wheel. His twin-sister, Melissa, on the other. Like rockets, they blasted off.

    While Melissa jetted to the back of the store, Ryan shot toward the front where the double doors opened into a busy parking lot. It took nearly 10 minutes to capture my runaways.

    I left the store, overwhelmed.

    As a mom of three toddlers, I often experienced feeling "not enough."

    Not enough sleep. Not enough hours in the day. Not enough of me to go around. But on that day my "not enough" went deeper. I judged myself far too harshly.

    In today’s passage, we meet another woman who has experienced "not enough." She’s clutching two farthings … barely 1/100 of a day’s wages … surrounded by men with overflowing resources, who gave large offerings. Yet Jesus told the disciples her offering was greater.


    The rich men gave out of their excess while the widow gave out of her not enough.

    Maybe you’re a mom and there are days you feel as if you give out of your not enough all day long, or you compare yourself to others.

    What does the widow’s example teach us?

    She gave all she had.

    When it’s all you’ve got, it’s significant. As moms, we bring everything to Jesus — all of it, the good parts and the hard parts. You bring your desire to make a difference. You bring your personality and talents, whether you are the mom who jumps on the bed with her kids, or the mom who makes the tastiest cupcakes ever.

    You also bring the harder parts, like your doubts.

    When we place our "not enough" like doubt or impatience or lack of knowledge in His hands, it translates to trust in Him — believing that He’ll help us fill those gaps.

    She willingly gave.

    The widow’s two farthings were of great value to her.

    Willingly offering your child means that you understand that God has a stake in this, too. He has a plan and a purpose for your child. He loves him or her. He knows your child’s DNA and the number of hairs on his head.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Just as He loves your babies, He treasures you. Don’t hide because you feel like you made a mistake. Willingly walk into His presence and give Him all of you. He’ll meet you there.

    She trusted God with her offering.

    Parenting is a continual process of putting in our two farthings. Trust God for the long-term, friend. You’re parenting every single day, but it all adds up as they become the human beings God created them to be.

    If I could go back to that young mama in the store, I’d wrap my arms around her and say, "The ‘not enough’ you give day in and day out is seen by God and by His grace and power it is more than enough."

    Father, today, I give everything I have and everything that I am to You. I joyfully bring my "not enough." In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you can relate to Suzie Eller’s story, you might appreciate her book, The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future.

    Visit Suzie’s blog where she offers two giveaways of her book, The Mom I Want to Be.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: The enemy would like to camp out in our "not enough" and make us feel inadequate.

    Thank God for one thing you do well as a mom. Then, offer Him the one area where you feel least equipped. Praise Him for His work in enabling you to do both.

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Want Faith Like That

    Priscilla Shirer AUGUST 4, 2015

    I Want Faith Like That PRISCILLA SHIRER

    "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

    I couldn’t wait for the chance to have lunch with her. Not to eat or talk, but to listen.

    After watching her for a while, I knew this woman from my Bible study group was different. She radiated the power of God, seemed overwhelmed with His joy and consumed with His peace.

    Not just occasionally … always.

    It was obvious she heard God’s voice clearly. Her interaction with Him was relational and refreshing. She consistently saw evidence of His activity in the rhythms of her life.

    God’s Word was alive to her — because He was alive to her.

    Maybe you’ve known one or two of those women yourself: She prays and believes. Expects then sees. Asks and then receives. She’s not easily discouraged or paralyzed by fear and insecurity, and she has a laundry list of very practical experiences with God to prove it.

    I had to know how she got to this point in her life, so I pressed my friend for details on her walk with the Lord and what made it so vibrant, fresh and alive.

    The secret she shared with me that day over salad and sweet tea is the exact same one I want to reveal to you. It can all be summed up in one tiny, but very critical, power-filled word: FAITH.

    "Priscilla," she said. "Be a woman of faith — not just a woman who talks faith — and you’ll never regret it."

    Faith is one of the most overused, yet underutilized, expressions in Christian circles. Which is completely backward, because talking about faith is not the same as having it.

    The true meaning of faith is plain and simple: Faith is an action.

    In fact, action is the thing that makes faith, well, faith.

    By definition, faith is not talking about, thinking about or even celebrating God’s truth. It is the process of adapting your behavior, your decisions and ultimately, your whole lifestyle so it aligns with what God has asked you to do — without needing to see the evidence it will all work out in the end.

    My father and pastor, Dr. Tony Evans, puts it like this, "Faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that it might be so, simply because God said so."

    My friend told me that, as far as she could tell, what enhanced her experience with God was that she was willing and committed to translate her beliefs to active faith — acting on the promises and directives of God, not merely talking about them.

    It could be a seemingly small thing like giving a gift to a stranger or being the first to mend fences with a friend. Or something larger, like moving from one state to another — her commitment to identify and follow the Lord’s leading in her heart was the key that not only unlocked the door to spiritual vibrancy, but also kept her from falling prey to the enemy’s attacks to distract, dissuade and discourage her.

    Was it always easy? No.

    But over time, she said she learned to trust God enough to move forward at His Word. And what an amazing life of adventure with the Lord has followed!

    I left that meal with a full tummy and a full heart, wanting to have a life that mirrored hers.

    Father God, I want a vibrant, intimate relationship with You. Help me walk with You in faith, even when I can’t see what You are doing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 2:26, "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead." (ESV)

    2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we live by faith, not by sight." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you want to know how to follow God in faith, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Priscilla Shirer’s new Bible study, The Armor of God.

    For more on trusting God, visit Priscilla’s blog.

    Enter to WIN a copy of The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. In celebration of this book, Priscilla’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, August 10.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Pastor and theologian A.W. Tozer once said, "Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith." What areas of your life are you not living by faith?

    Ask God to help you hear His voice, trust His plan and follow His leading.

    © 2015 by Priscilla Shirer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks LifeWay 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

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