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Tag Archives: Amy Carroll

  • Tired of Trying to Be Perfect

    Posted on June 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll JUNE 10, 2015

    Tired of Trying to Be Perfect
    AMY CARROLL

    "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

    I’ve always struggled with perfectionism — in every stage of life. When I was young, I strove for excellent grades. As I grew older, I wanted to be perfect in my friendships. Not only did I want to be the best for my students when I became a teacher, I aspired to earn awards and accolades, too.

    If you’re also a perfectionist, I bet you can relate.

    My losing battle with perfectionism was at its worst after I had my first baby. As a resource junkie, I was sure I could research my way to being the perfect mom. My friends loaded me up with their recommended parenting books and being a voracious reader, I dug right in.

    Soon, I envisioned two very different supermoms in my mind. The first was Earth Mama. She wore a bohemian skirt, chandelier earrings and a quilted baby sling as her predominant and most important accessory. Earth Mama cheerfully flexed with her baby’s every need, cuddling up together in the family bed at night or confidently supplying her — ahem — natural sources of nourishment at a moment’s notice no matter where they were — home, a restaurant or in the middle of a department store.

    Then there was supermom number two, Right-on-Schedule Mom. This mom wore chinos and a dry-cleaned shirt that was always unwrinkled because she only picked up her baby when it was time — time for a meal, time for a nap or playtime. Right-on-Schedule Mom’s baby slept through the night at two weeks in her own snazzy crib and sat up before anyone else in their Mommy and Me group. Any natural sources of nourishment were tented in public and permanently covered at precisely one year.

    How to choose? How to choose? Each model seemed perfect in its own way, and I vacillated between them until I ended up confused, worn-out and frustrated.

    Whether you’re married, single, a career woman, or a domestic manager, creating an image of perfection is a never-ending, exhausting activity. Because the measure of perfection keeps shifting, the stage we’re in and the crowd we follow determines the units on our current measuring stick.

    The perfect sorority girl tries to live up to a very different image than the perfect athlete.

    The perfect socialite works to have an image that is in stark contrast to the perfect revolutionary.

    The perfect preppy disdains the perfect punk.

    Not only do these personas divide women instead of creating relationships and community, these perfect images start a cycle of never-ending shape-shifting.

    Maybe you’re the career woman who works more hours than you’d like to gain the approval of your team.

    Maybe you’re the single woman who accepts blind dates your married friends arrange even though you’re content in your singleness.

    But God didn’t create us to be shape-shifters. God crafted us to reflect His image, not create our own.

    As a young mom, I finally realized that I was trying to figure out the wrong thing. I didn’t need to choose an ideal supermom. I needed to allow God to show me how to be the best mom to the baby He had given me.

    Living fully in the knowledge that we are one of God’s wondrous works is our greatest praise to Him! It’s in becoming our truest, God-created selves, reflecting His image in the gifts and wiring He’s given us, that we’ll connect most deeply with our Creator and with others.

    Lord, I’m worn out from trying to be perfect. I long to walk in freedom and to become the woman you intended me to be when You wove me together. Help me be authentic, instead of shape-shifting to please others or to attain an impossible image. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Genesis 1:27, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (NIV)

    Genesis 1:31, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You by Amy Carroll releases next month. Click here to pre-order your copy.

    Amy invites you to visit her blog today to celebrate the release of Breaking Up with Perfect. There will be a terrific free resource and a giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you live life as a shape-shifter or an image-bearer?

    In what ways would you live freer by giving up a "perfect" image?

    Write a written response to this verse from the Bible, "The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks

    Posted on May 22, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll MAY 22, 2015

    Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks
    AMY CARROLL

    "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

    From my days as a teacher, I remember the sinking feeling of being ignored. Glazed eyes, slumped postures and fidgety fingers signaled to me my students had tuned me out … again, and I knew we were about to face failures.

    "But I didn’t know what to do on my homework," a child would exclaim.

    "You never taught me this," I’d hear after handing out a bad test grade.

    "Why didn’t you help me?" another tear-stained face would plead.

    On one hand, I was sympathetic. I remembered being a child, sitting at school, wondering if the day would ever end. Other enticements — the sunshine outside, my new bike at home, my best friend whispering beside me — would capture my attention, and my teacher’s voice was drowned out by shinier thoughts.

    Although I understood my students, my sympathies didn’t run very deep. I had taught them the material, and it was my passion to make the lessons as fun and interesting as possible. But I couldn’t make them learn. They ultimately had to choose to be good students in order to avoid the pain of failure.

    Remembering my school days led me to ponder my own adult learning patterns. More often than not, I seem to learn from the school of hard knocks. Recently, I created drama among my friends when I felt the need to fix a problem that was none of my business. The pain of my mess rolled over and over in my heart until I cried out to God, "Lord, I feel beaten and bruised from my failures. Thank You for teaching me through them, but isn’t there an easier way?"

    Immediately, today’s key verse came to mind. Our wise and kind Father gently reminded me of His infinitely better way. He’s given us His Word, the Bible, to instruct us so that we don’t have to stay continually in the classroom of pain and failure.

    As I thought through the pain of my busybody ways, God used Scripture to show me how I could have avoided the situation. He brought I Thessalonians 4:11-12a to my memory. "… Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders …" (NIV).

    God was using His Word to do exactly what was promised in our key verse, 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

    His Word teaches us. God taught me to desire a quiet life instead of being embroiled in the drama around me.

    His Word rebukes us. He showed me that I wasn’t minding my own business. Ouch!

    His Word corrects us. Instead of being focused on others, I need to have my eyes fixed on my own calling and work.

    His Word trains us in righteousness. As I live these lessons, they will keep me from repeating my mistakes, and I’ll represent Jesus well to those around me while avoiding the consequences of my own sin.

    As God’s girls, let’s make it our desire to graduate from the school of hard knocks rather than staying permanently enrolled. I’d much rather learn from God’s Word than the painful consequences of my choices.

    Knowing my flaws, I’m certain I’ll have more opportunities to learn from my mistakes, but I’ve embraced a new and improved pattern. Each day, I gaze intently into the face of my Teacher, give Him my full attention and trust Him to show me how to grow and change.

    Lord, I’m willing to learn through my mistakes but I ask You to make my heart responsive to the teaching of Your Word. Show me where I need to change as I read Scripture each day, and help me to transform before I struggle and fail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Matthew 22:29, "Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.’" (NIV)

    Proverbs 2:6-7, "For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Join our next Online Bible Study of The Mended Heart by Suzie Eller launching June 22. Click here for more information.

    If you’re looking to shift from the desire to change to the ability to change through Christ, Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places might be helpful for you.

    Amy Carroll invites you to visit her blog today where you can get a free printable of Scriptures about God’s wisdom.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Which way have you most often learned — the school of hard knocks or the instruction of Scripture?

    If you answered, "school of hard knocks," how do you think your life would change if you decided to graduate?

    If you answered, "instruction of Scripture," pause now and thank God for His grace to learn hard lessons the best way.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Sleep Worry Free

    Posted on April 29, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll APRIL 29, 2015

    How to Sleep Worry Free
    AMY CARROLL

    "But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’" Luke 18:16 (NIV)

    A friend looked deep into my eyes and asked, "What do you miss about being a child?"

    In the middle of playing a silly game of questions with a group, the room faded away and memories of my childhood popped into my mind like bubbles surfacing from deep waters.

    Playing with my brother in our treehouse.

    Fun Fridays with my favorite teacher at school.

    Riding my banana-seat bike down the street with friends.

    Most precious … moments snuggled between my parents while our family read together at night.

    Although it sounds idyllic, it wasn’t perfect. Just like I’m an imperfect parent, my parents weren’t perfect either. But as a child I felt loved, encouraged and most importantly, safe and carefree. As I longed for the feeling of safety that blanketed my childhood, I looked at my friend and answered, "I miss having no worries."

    Being an adult is fraught with pits of peril — financial shortfalls, job instability, parenting challenges, marriage conflict and the general stress of being responsible for yourself and others. For me, childhood was free of all those things. But that day, as I faced my friend’s question, adulthood felt like a heavy weight.

    The next day as I sat in the quiet of early morning, God whispered a single word into my heart … trust. He gently showed me the weight of adulthood I had shouldered. He nudged me to consider the hours I’d spent awake staring into the dark ruminating, with no resolution. He refreshed the sense of deep longing I’d felt the day before when I’d expressed my desire for childhood. The good old days of no worries.

    And He called me back.

    Trust is the mark of a child. Of course I had little girl concerns when I was young, but why didn’t I feel the weight of worry? It was because I trusted my parents. They took the weight of responsibility to shelter me — allowing me to feel safe and worry-free.

    Although not all parents do this well, protecting our children from adult problems is still part of a parent’s job description.

    The funny thing is my trust was partially based on illusion. As parents, my husband and I have tried to do exactly what my parents did for me. We don’t tell our kids about adult problems because we don’t want them to worry about things they can’t fix.

    It’s not that we don’t have problems or that we’re completely in control. The truth is, we’re not in control. But there’s good news for those who are faking control while lying awake at night and for those who have never felt safe.

    God is a Father who is entirely trustworthy because He is truly in control.

    As God’s children, we have a heavenly Father who is worthy of trust. All our obsessive worry over our responsibilities and concerns doesn’t change a thing, so let’s resolve to try something different. Let’s give up our illusion of control and rest peacefully like children in Jesus’ unfailing care.

    Now, instead of letting worry consume my nighttime thoughts, I’m learning to pray childlike prayers. I lay in the dark handing over my worries one by one to my faithful Father instead of grasping them in my powerless hands. I’m still in the process of training myself to trust, but I’m sleeping well at night while the One who never slumbers carries it all.

    Lord, I’ve shouldered my cares as if I’m the one in control. Help me become like a child, handing all my stresses, worries and responsibilities to You, my faithful Father. I trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    I Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

    Philippians 4:6-7, "Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (MSG)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Prayers for a Woman’s Soul by Julie Gillies can help you learn to pray for your needs.

    We all pray … some. But wouldn’t we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? If you can relate, you’ll appreciate Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado.

    Visit Amy Carroll’s blog today to enter to win a unique prayer journal that will help you turn your cares to prayers.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What worries and responsibilities fill your thoughts and keep you awake at night? Write them on a list.

    Reflect a moment. How has your worry changed the situations on your list?

    Before bed tonight, pray through your worry list and hand each burden to God. Tell your Heavenly Father you trust Him with each one.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • The Day I Wanted to Punch Somebody

    Posted on March 4, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll MARCH 4, 2015

    The Day I Wanted to Punch Somebody
    AMY CARROLL

    "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Romans 8:5 (NIV)

    At first it seemed like a wonderful idea to take my boys to the mall on the craziest shopping day of the whole year. We piled into the car and left home excited about all the deals we’d find. My optimism soon faded as we reached the line of cars twisting out of the parking lot onto the road.

    I dropped my sons off in front of their favorite store and promised to join them as soon as I found a parking space.

    However, each space I saw was immediately filled by the nearest car, and the weight of frustration began to press on my chest. My blood pressure rose with each passing minute.

    I inched my car around the corner of the next row, hoping to be released from the snarl, only to be blocked by an enormous SUV driven by a man chauffeuring his family. One of us had to back up, and it seemed like he had more room behind him than I did.

    So, I smiled and motioned a request for him to back up to let me pass. Shockingly, the man motioned back at me with an obvious lack of the pleasantness I had hoped to convey. He refused to budge.

    Suddenly, the girl many have referred to as "sweet" … the girl who usually doesn’t struggle with anger or take quick offense … the girl who knows violence is the wrong solution to conflict … suddenly that girl’s imagination began to swirl. I pictured myself getting out of the car, screaming insults and jabbing my finger in the man’s chest until he humbly backed his car out of my way. In the heat of my rage, I seriously contemplated creating a scene.

    However, the still-functioning part of my brain realized this man wasn’t going to give way, so roiling with anger, I carefully backed up into traffic for him to pass, glaring at him and his posse as he drove by.

    About an hour later, after I finally found a parking space, I nearly walked right into the man and his family coming out of a store. My heart sank, and I was filled with shame.

    Suddenly, I had a new picture in my mind: Me in the parking lot with a sign on my forehead that said, "I love Jesus and follow Him."

    Until our close-encounter outside the safe buffer zone of my car, my still simmering fury seemed justified. Now deflated, I faced my own fault.

    Today’s key verse calls my initial reaction "the flesh." In studying this verse alongside another translation, I found an exact description of my response. "If you live your life animated by the flesh — namely, your fallen, corrupt nature — then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit — namely, God’s indwelling presence — then your focus is on the work of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5, The Voice).

    Although it’s my heart’s desire to live by the Spirit, reflecting God’s indwelling presence to those around me, that day I allowed my flesh to rise up. Instead of being fixated on the things of the Spirit, I focused on what my flesh wanted … a bargain on material things, a parking space and my own way.

    Where our mind is set determines where our actions go.

    Thankfully, the man and his family didn’t seem to recognize me, but I was instantly humbled and repentant when I saw them. Whispering a prayer to God, I asked for His forgiveness and for restoration in my heart and mind to the work of the Spirit. When our flesh rises up, asking God to reset our focus returns us to right relationship with Him and others.

    Lord, my mind’s focus can stray so easily, leading me to live in the flesh instead of in the presence of Your Spirit. Help me start each day by gazing at You so I can live each moment setting my heart, soul and mind on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Galatians 5:22-23, "The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this." (The Voice)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst is a practical guide for dealing with raw emotions.

    Visit Amy Carroll’s blog today to read more about the beautiful work of God’s Spirit in our lives.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are indicators in your own life that you’ve moved out of the Spirit and into the flesh?

    Write a plan for how to set your mind on the Spirit the next time you recognize these indicators.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • A Mess on the Inside

    Posted on February 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll FEBRUARY 2, 2015

    A Mess on the Inside
    AMY CARROLL

    "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Ephesians 3:16-17a (NIV)

    Making my tidy-up rounds one morning, I walked into my son’s room with hands wrapped around a stack of clean towels. My pace slowed as I picked my way through the maze on his floor. I wove around piles of clothes, an empty shoebox and exercise equipment, barely avoiding stubbing my toe on a barbell.

    Sighing with exasperation, I threw open the curtains to let light shine into the room, and I gazed into the yard. Instantly, a piercing insight beamed into my heart like the rays flooding through the window.

    Just the week before, my family had worked feverishly to ready our home for company. The windows gleamed, the sidewalk was mildew-free and green grass neatly carpeted the yard. Flowers graced the front porch. An arrangement hung on the door, and everything was in its place. I loved how well-kept our home looked.

    Our company had departed, but the outside of our home still looked spiffy. I opened my son’s curtains to further the just-so appearance for the world to see, but there was a much different view from where I now stood.

    Shiny on the outside. A mess on the inside.

    Goodness gracious. How often could the same phrases be applied to me? I’ve become adept at polishing up the outside. Make-up, hair, jewelry, clothes and cute shoes go a long way in gussying up a girl. Following the rules, fitting in and creating just the right image help me convince others I’ve got it all together. Volunteering, smiling and measuring my words may even make me seem godly.

    But what if my "house" could be turned inside out as easily as a t-shirt? What if the world saw my inner clutter?

    What if people viewed my thoughts, emotions and spiritual condition instead of my carefully constructed shell? What then?

    Here’s the truth: There’s One who views us like no other. He sees us from the inside out all the time. God’s Word tells us, "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (I Samuel 16:7b, NIV).

    While the world around us obsesses with external makeovers, God longs to begin His work on the inside.

    God does His beautifying work from the inside out.

    Our key verse tells us He wants to strengthen our inner being with the power of His Spirit and out of His glorious riches. What an adorning that will be! When God is the One at work in us and when we join Him by changing our focus from external perfection to His internal perfecting, our beauty will come from our truest, God-created self.

    Trying harder, doing more or behaving better isn’t what we need. Those are the things we do to try to create perfection, shining ourselves up on the outside. Jesus’ clean-up, His perfecting process, isn’t about our work. It’s about taking one step of faith and asking Him to dwell in our hearts.

    Only then can Jesus fill us up on the inside with His strength, power, love and light. Only then will our outside radiate with the beauty of what’s within.

    Lord, please forgive me for focusing too much on the externals of my life. I invite You to dwell in my heart so You can do a work in me from the inside out. You are beautiful, and I want to be like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 3:17b-19, "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Have you ever asked Jesus to work in you from the inside out? Have you ever offered your heart as His dwelling place? If you’d like to read more about knowing Jesus, click here.

    Read more at Amy’s blog about her journey to let go of external appearances and to embrace Jesus’ internal, beautifying work. There will also be a giveaway for Living So That by Wendy Blight.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are some of the externals (clothes, appearance, "good behavior," popularity, material possessions) that you’ve used to shape others’ perception of you? What internal mess are you hiding?

    Write a prayer asking Jesus to dwell in your heart, strengthening and straightening your inner being.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Building on the Past's Foundation

    Posted on January 9, 2015 by Family Christian

    Amy Carroll JANUARY 9, 2015

    Building on the Past's Foundation
    AMY CARROLL

    "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

    Each year as the New Year arrives, I feel the familiar conflict … make resolutions or avoid them? On one hand, there’s the excitement of starting fresh and the hope for better outcomes. Most of the time, however, I don’t feel expectancy at all. Instead, I’m overcome by the fear of failure and the "what ifs" of trying again.

    This year, I found a principle in Scripture that helps me approach resolutions with anticipation instead of dread. Today’s key verses show us how to plan our future with a focus on thankfulness. They help us plan for the future from a past with a solid foundation and a present pattern of growth.

    "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:6-7, emphasis added)

    When I think back over the years, it’s amazing to look back at how life changes once we’re dedicated to Jesus as Lord. Through mountaintop experiences, the thrill of learning new truths, and the shaping of hardships, we become rooted and strengthened. Jesus builds a foundation in us that can’t be shaken, so we can thank Him for the past.

    Today, in our present, He calls us to "live in him." With all the demands of life around us, we can struggle to concentrate on living our life in God, but His benefits — peace, guidance, love and forgiveness — are the valuable payoff for our focus. He has given us the precious gift of living in Him, so we’re thankful to Him for our present.

    As we remember the past and intentionally make Him the most important part of our present, we will be "built up in him." Here’s where it gets exciting for the future! The Greek word for "built up" here means "to increase the potential of someone or something, with focus upon the process involved."

    It’s amazing and true. God created each of us with a well of talent and budding gifts. Scripture says that God has good works created for you in advance (Ephesians 2:10), so plan away for the New Year! Ask God to build you up in 2015, revealing the potential He’s embedded in you. But as you look toward the future, don’t forget the past or the present — cover it all with a blanket of thankfulness.

    This morning I sat in silence watching the first rays of dawn creep into my windows. There was no fanfare or pageantry. It was a humbling moment brimming with deep peace and overwhelming gratitude, so …

    I thanked God for my past:

    My parents who raised me in a home where we loved God.

    All the hard times and bad decisions that have made me see my need for Jesus.

    The Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders who have taught me.

    Blessings He poured out along the way: family, jobs I’ve loved, jobs I’ve disliked, home.

    Then I moved on to simple, present gifts:

    The steaming mug in my hands.

    A fire warming the room.

    My little, red dog snoring on the coach.

    Companionship of friends who fully know me and yet love me.

    Love and kindness from my husband.

    Laughter from my boys.

    Grace poured on me by my Creator.

    Finally, I thanked God for 2015 with all its possibilities:

    For lessons yet to learn.

    For dreams yet to be fulfilled.

    For growth experiences.

    For all the things unknown.

    Now it’s your turn. Even if 2015 hasn’t started out the way you wanted … be thankful. Dream. Plan. Make resolutions built on the foundation of your past and the abiding of your present. I’m anticipating the rest of what God has in store for you in 2015!

    Lord, we thank You for this new year and new beginnings, and we also praise You for the present moment. God, use pieces of the past and gifts of the present to build the future You have planned for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 4: 2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (NIV)

    Psalm 28:7, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst can help you make wise decisions in the midst of endless demands.

    Visit Amy Carroll's blog for more about dreams for the future.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are you thankful for in 2014? Write your list in a journal or on a piece of paper to post in your home.

    Spend time in prayer thanking God for all He did in your life last year.

    Ask Him to help you set divinely-inspired goals for 2015.

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

  • Love Rest

    Posted on December 7, 2012 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

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

    I read books about it. I listened to sermons about it. I wrote about it. I sang about it. I thought about it. I was completely immersed. So why couldn't I get it?

    God loves me.

    It's a simple truth. How could a 44-year-old woman who has loved Jesus since she was 10 not feel loved by God?

    Deep down I was going through the motions of believing ... hoping ... but truthfully, I had fallen into the mindset of working for God's love and acceptance. I could have given a theological dissertation on grace and salvation by faith, but my perfectionistic, I'll-do-it-myself attitude blocked a full, heart-changing understanding.

    One day I blurted out to a dear friend and mentor, "Why can't I feel the love of God? I'm working so hard!"

    She let the silence sit before a big grin spread across her face. "Did you hear yourself?" she asked.

    "You can't work to know the love of God. You need to rest in the love of God." Then she encouraged me to relax and pray, asking God to reveal His love to me in a deep, transforming way.

    Several months later, still in the midst of my wrestling match to understand God's lavish love, my eyes drank in the site of a bent and wrinkled woman wearing a bridal veil and carrying a tattered bouquet of silk flowers as she hobbled down an aisle of women. I was in Kolkata, India, helping with a mock wedding at a women's conference. Although the atmosphere and the message on being Jesus' bride was largely celebratory, tears streamed down the old woman's face.

    The scene gripped my heart. Here was an elderly woman who, because of the fear and superstition of her native religion, missed the love of God most of her life. He, however, had loved, drawn, and wooed her heart. She had resisted until the onset of sickness and the pronouncement of her numbered days spurred her to abandon everything to take hold of His love.

    As she walked feebly down that aisle, His love healed her of a lifetime of hurts and made her radiant and strong, despite her fragile frame.

    As I watched her weep, something broke inside me. I found myself kneeling on the cold, concrete floor sobbing.

    In John 15:9, Jesus tells His followers, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."

    Growing up, I learned of His love every day as my mother and father watched me mature from an infant to an awkward teenager. But I didn't stay and rest in His limitless love that had surrounded me from birth to adulthood.

    I had walked into a place of self-sufficiency that left me with a weary hollowness that only God's presence and love could fill.

    Seeing an impoverished, old woman who had little left to give to God be fully encompassed in His love illuminated truth like a piercing ray of sunshine through a foggy morning.

    It's a simple truth. He loves me, not because I have anything to give Him, but simply because I'm His. God doesn't call me to manufacture a feeling but simply to rest in His love and remain it.

    He loves you too. Limitlessly. Profoundly. Lavishly. Relax, rest and bask in His love today.

    Dear Lord, Your very nature is love. You surround me and fill me with it just because of who You are. Help me to rest and remain in Your love instead of walking in the exhaustion of my own efforts. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Crazy Love by Francis Chan

    Reflect and Respond:
    What makes you feel loved? Reflect and journal about times that God has revealed His love for you in these ways.

    Pray and ask God to help you remember evidences of His love and to see new ones today. Relax and watch.

    Power Verse:
    Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" (NIV 1984)

    © 2012 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

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