"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
When my daughter Hope was in high school, she decided her senior year should be adventurous and a little out of the "normal" box. A lot out-of-the-box, actually.
She withdrew from traditional school. Applied with the state to homeschool. Enrolled in online college courses that would allow her to get both high school and college credit simultaneously. And planned to spend a month serving in Nicaragua doing missions.
This didn’t surprise me, really. Hope has always liked charting her own course. This thrills me now. But it didn’t thrill me so much in the early years of raising this strong-spirited child.
When she was really little I was scared to death I was the world’s worst mom, because Hope was never one to be contained. And I honestly thought all her extra tenacity was a sign of my poor mothering.
One day I took her to the mall to meet several of my friends with toddlers to grab lunch. All of their kids sat quietly eating Cheerios in their strollers. They shined their halos and quoted Bible verses and used tissues to wipe their noses.
She was infuriated by my insistence she stay in her stroller. So, when I turned away for a split second to place our lunch order, she wiggled free. She stripped off all her clothes. She ran across the food court. And jumped in the fountain in the center of the mall.
Really, nothing makes the mother of a toddler feel more incapable than seeing her naked child splashing in the mall fountain. Except maybe that toddler refusing to get out and said mother having to also get into the fountain.
I cried all the way home.
Not because of what she’d done that day. But rather because of how she was every day. So determined. So independent. So insistent.
I would beg God to show me how to raise a good child. One that stayed in her stroller. One that made other people comment on how wonderfully behaved she was. One that made me look good.
But God seemed so slow to answer those prayers. So, over the years, I changed my prayer. "God help me to raise Hope to be who You want her to be." Emphasis on, "God HELP ME!"
I think I changed my prayers for her because God started to change my heart. I sensed He had a different plan in mind for my mothering of Hope.
Maybe God’s goal wasn’t for me to raise a good rule-following child. God’s goal was for me to raise a God-following adult. An adult who was just determined and independent and insistent enough to fulfill a purpose He had in mind all along.
Today’s key verse reminds us we are training children so that when they are old they will not turn away from Biblical principles, but rather implement them in their life-long pursuit of God. Remember, the things that might aggravate you about your child today might be the very things that, when matured, make them great for God’s kingdom tomorrow.
I’ve certainly seen this in raising Hope.
I don’t know which mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:
1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.
And all the mamas of fountain-dancing children said, "Amen!"
Dear Lord, I know You desire for me to raise a God-following adult. Please give me Your wisdom as I seek to become the parent You called to this high honor. Redirect my perspectives and equip me for this task today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Deuteronomy 11:18-19, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (NIV)
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)
Learn how to make God-honoring decisions throughout your motherhood journey with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes. Get your copy here.
"The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry." Psalm 34:15 (NIV)
When my husband Art and I got married, we had a tough time transitioning from being two independent people into a unified couple. We didn’t have huge marriage issues to overcome — we had a lot of little everyday annoyances that started to chip away at the foundation of our relationship.
Slowly, we stopped seeing all we had and started focusing on all that was lacking in each other.
Honestly, enjoying each other got lost in all the efforts to fix each other. And that can be so disillusioning.
It can open your marriage up to a world of attack and the temptation to think, Did I marry the wrong person? I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.
Do you ever find yourself in this place? Me too.
The other day I came across the prayer Art’s dad prayed at our wedding. And it occurred to me this is much more than a wedding prayer. It’s a marriage prayer.
As I read back over this prayer, I am amazed at how God has answered so many of the requests intertwined in the words. This was being prayed over two broken, fragile, headstrong, needing-to-learn-a-lot individuals. Individuals who five years into our marriage weren’t sure we were going to make it. But we did.
And so can you.
I would encourage you to take your spouse’s hand and either have someone read this prayer over you or read it together. Use it as a reminder and recommitment.
And if your marriage isn’t at a place where that’s possible, pray this in the quiet shrine of your heart. As our key verse, Psalm 34:15 tells us, God hears you. He knows. He loves you. He will show you the way.
Father in Heaven, thank You for this husband, ______, and wife, _______, and their commitment to Christian marriage. As we look ahead, we pray that their future will never lack the convictions that make a marriage strong.
Bless this husband, ______. Bless him as provider and protector. Sustain him in all the pressures that come with the task of stewarding a family. May his strength be his wife’s boast and pride, and may he so live that his wife may find in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs.
Bless this wife, ______. Give her a tenderness that makes her great, a deep sense of understanding, and a strong faith in You. Give her that inner beauty of a soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. May she so live that her husband may be pleased to reverence her in the shrine of his heart.
Teach them that marriage is not living for each other. It is two people uniting and joining hands to serve You. Give them a great spiritual purpose in life. May they seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, knowing that You will sustain them through all of life’s challenges.
May they minimize each other’s weaknesses and be swift to praise and magnify each other’s strengths so that they might view each other through a lover’s kind and patient eyes. Help them every day to be kind and gentle, more like You. Give them a little something to forgive each day, that their love might learn to be long-suffering.
Bless them and develop their characters as they walk together with You. Give them enough hurts to keep them humane, enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough of success to make them sure they walk with You throughout all of their life.
May they never take each other’s love for granted but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, "Out of all this world, you have chosen me." Then, when life is done and the sun is setting, may they be found then as now, still hand in hand, still very proud, still thanking You for each other.
May they travel together as friends and lovers, brother and sister, husband and wife, father and mother, and as servants of Christ until He shall return or until that day when one shall lay the other into the arms of God. This we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Great Lover of our souls. Amen.1
~ ~ ~ Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to come before Your throne with every concern I have and blessing I desire for my marriage. I pray these blessings over my husband and myself today, believing You will do immeasurably more in us than we can imagine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
1 Adapted from Dr. Louis H. Evans’ Marriage Prayer for Bride and Groom.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 5:14, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (NIV)
Pop over to Lysa’s blog today for a free, printable version of this marriage prayer! Download yours here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Take time each day this week to pray specifically for your marriage and spouse. Ask God to breathe new life into your relationship and show you anything He wants to bring to your attention.
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
I pressed my forehead against my front door window while tears quietly slipped down my cheeks. I watched my husband pull out of the driveway and head off to another day at work. I then turned to look at what my day would hold — a crying baby, a messy house and an overwhelming feeling of dread. How could this be?
I finally had everything I ever thought would make me happy, fulfilled, significant and satisfied, yet I was more miserable and lonely than I’d ever been. Finally realizing a great husband, healthy baby and a comfortable house with a flowerbed planted out front, weren’t the answers to ultimate happiness in life, rattled my soul to the core.
There are deep places within our soul that God hand-designed and reserved only for Him to fill.
But my whole life had been focused on getting these other things that I thought would fill me up. So when they fell short, I slid to the ground and cried, "God, I can’t do this. Where do I go from here? How do I find You? Help me!"
A few weeks later, my husband called and said there was a woman in his restaurant who wanted to meet me. I glanced down at my spit-covered sweatpants, ran my hands through my greasy hair, and willed my mind to override the desire to pass on meeting her that day.
I couldn’t handle the relationships I had in my life, I certainly couldn’t make time for more. Plus, if I got too close to women who appeared to have their lives together, they’d judge me for the pitiful way mine was falling apart. I just didn’t have the whitespace for anything but my family.
But that was exactly the problem. I was giving everything I had to my family with nothing to fill me back up, no one to encourage me past the hard spots, and no one to share practical advice because she’d been there, done that.
So, I crammed my diaper bag full and headed out the door.
Over the years, I’ve thought about that pivotal decision to pursue and embrace the necessity of friendships. Not only have they helped me personally, my friendships have been crucial to my success (and sometimes survival) in my roles as wife and mom as well. They’ve made our key verse, Hebrews 10:24, come to life for me.
What I once thought would take away from my family, has proven to add a richness I couldn’t have gotten any other way.
If you can relate to the season I was in, here are 3 practical ways to find life-giving friendships:
1) Find a friend who does something well that you wish you were better at.
It may be managing paper piles, cooking, organizing kids’ rooms, creatively loving her husband, effectively disciplining her kids or a hundred other things. Whatever it is, ask her if you could spend time observing how she does what she does so well. Women love to talk about things they do well.
2) Choose a friend with whom you feel comfortable to pray.
There is no better gift we can give our families than to be wives and moms who pray. Praying with a friend about our families will not only knit our hearts closer to the ones we love, but to that friend as well.
3) Pursue a friendship with someone who is one stage behind where you are in life.
Offer them practical help in their area of stress and weave in the wisdom you gained as you went through that same stage.
Why not spend some time today praying for the friends you have and the friends you’ve yet to meet? God loves to answer those friendship prayers! And trust me on this — go ahead and wash your hair, just in case you get a call like I did all those years ago.
Dear Lord, You know the friendships I need in this season of my life. So I’m praying today for the friends I have right now and ones I have yet to meet. Help me be a God-honoring friend who always points them back to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Colossians 3:16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (NIV)
Relationships help nourish us in ways nothing else can! Learn how to be intentional in your most treasured relationships with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes. Purchase your copy here.
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)
I know the heart-ripping hopelessness of a relationship unraveling.
The silence. The rejection. The harsh words. The absence of intimacy. The questions. The lack of answers. The hurt.
The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations and extremely strong wills.
My heart aches for anyone in a marriage that’s struggling. Many of us have been there.
But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation and help you fix this relationship.
A situation like this is much more complicated than simple answers I could offer here. But might I give you one stepping stone upon which to stand, to stop the panic and balance yourself?
Decide today that you are worthy.
Because you are. Worthy. You may not feel like it. But a quick glimpse at Psalm 139 assures me, you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God who cares for you. Who loves you. And I’d rather depend on the solid truth of God than the rollercoaster of fickle feelings.
You are beautiful and captivating and attractive and smart and capable. But if you are in a relationship full of unmet expectations, unresolved issues and frustrating communication, I suspect you feel a little less than all I’ve described.
Broken-down relationships can really break down a woman.
And if you’re anything like me, when you feel broken down, those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and anxiety you layer regret, shame and the feeling that you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost that girl inside who used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world.
Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember: You are worthy because the Creator of the Universe says you are.
Then you can act worthy.
And step aside from the emotional yuck to make some levelheaded decisions. Get a plan. Talk to wise people who love you, provide godly counsel and will walk this tough journey with you.
Draw some boundaries with your husband, if some are needed.
Pray like crazy for clear discernment. Because Jesus is the best source of help.
Honest cries for help, lifted up to Jesus, will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.
Remember, you can’t control how your husband acts and reacts, but you can control how you act and react.
Reclaim who you are.
I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn’t, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters — the One who forever calls you worthy.
Dear Lord, my marriage is struggling. I’m struggling. Help me please. I need to hold on to Your truths that I am worthy. And God, please show me what steps to take to support my marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 54:10, "‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (NIV)
Psalm 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (NIV)
If you’re facing a hard season but want to make God-honoring decisions every step of the way, Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, The Best Yes, can help. Get your copy here.
Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage with the 5 Scriptures Lysa is sharing on her blog. Click here to begin speaking God’s truth over your relationship with your husband!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Write our key verse down on a sticky note or index card and put it in a place where you know you’ll see it each day. When a negative thought starts to cross your mind, say out loud, "God says I am worthy."
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ." Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT)
Have you ever had that deep-down knowing of what to do in a situation but ignored it? I understand.
My husband was out of town recently when a large box was delivered to my doorstep.
The delivery man graciously brought it inside. But I figured it might be a bit much for me to ask him to take it past the foyer, up the stairs, down the hall, and into the room my husband calls his man cave.
So there it sat, this mysterious, heavy box.
Deep inside, I knew this was nothing but some product one of my people had ordered.
But I didn’t listen to that awareness deep inside. I ignored it and listened to my fears instead. You know you’ve watched one too many mystery TV shows when your first thought about a mysterious box sitting in your foyer is that a person with scary intentions could fit inside. Yes, a crazy person with weapons could mail himself right into your foyer and sit there all day, quietly waiting until you went to bed.
So I kicked the side of the box to see if there was any kind of reflex action from a living thing inside of it. There wasn’t, of course. But then I decided just to be sure, I would stand around the corner from the box to see if I could step out of its line of sight and possibly hear something: a cough, a sneeze, anything.
I could leave no room for doubts, no room at all for any possible bad outcome from this box— a box that I eventually opened with a knife. Just in case. Only to discover a dorm-room refrigerator that someone had ordered.
I wasted half my day worrying about a box that contained a dorm fridge.
But we do this sometimes. We have a decision to make and we have that deep-down knowing. We know what to do. We know what the answer is. But we don’t go with that knowing. We over-process the what-ifs and the maybes until we find ourselves standing around a corner listening to see if a cardboard box containing a refrigerator might sneeze.
Now, there are certainly some decisions that need to be processed. But then there are other decisions we just simply need to say yes or no to and move on.
Find that courageous yes. Fight for that confident no. Know it. State it. Own it.
Sometimes it just comes down to that deep whisper within that says, "Uh-huh, yes." Or a simple, "No, not that."
God has woven into us the ability to discern what is best if we’re closely following Him. Philippians 1:9-10 says, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (NIV). Discerning what is best is something we’re capable of doing as we layer knowledge and depth of insight into our lives. Read those verses again and see that gaining knowledge and depth of insight will allow us to develop a trustworthy discernment.
Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth.
Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire.
Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.
I know a young mom who has really been struggling with the decision of whether to let her 2-year-old go to preschool a couple of half days a week next year. As I listened to her, I felt compelled to ask her three questions:
1. Have you been reading and praying through God’s Word?
2. Have you been applying God’s Word to your mothering?
3. Have you sought godly counsel and insights from wise people who know specifics about your situation?
The answer to all three of those simple questions was yes, so I reminded her that she was assigned by God to be this child’s mother. If she had done these three things, then she had the ability to discern what was best.
She didn’t need to wait for some big neon sign to drop down from heaven to know what to do. If she had that deep knowing this was a no answer for her child, then she should go with that. If she had that deep knowing this was a yes answer for her child, then she should go with that.
It’s not about trusting ourselves. Rather, it’s about trusting the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus promised us in John 14:26: "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (NIV).
When we’ve done what we need to do to acquire the knowledge and insight of truth, then the discernment of that truth is there. We must learn to trust and use that discernment because the more we do this, the more wisdom we acquire to make God-honoring decisions.
Dear Lord, I want to make decisions that honor You this year. Lead me as I develop a trustworthy discernment. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 119:66, "Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments." (NASB)
Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom-based decision-making process with Lysa’s book, The Best Yes. For a limited time, you can purchase your copy through Proverbs 31 Ministries for 25% off and receive a FREE People Over Projects printable set! Get your copy here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Consider the three questions Lysa asked her friend to check her discernment. Is there one you need to work on this week?
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
For years, I cringed every time I read our key verse about honoring God with my body and it being the temple of the Holy Spirit.
I wanted to please God. But did it have to be with my body?
I had set out with great enthusiasm to get healthy so many times but always slipped back into complacency. I didn’t want to try and be reminded of my failures again.
Then I found the most interesting story in the Old Testament about how serious God is about people taking care of the temple entrusted to them. It stepped on my toes and messed with my heart in the best kind of way.
Before the Holy Spirit was given to us and our bodies became the temple, there were physical locations for the Spirit of God to dwell. In Haggai chapter 1, God’s people had returned from being in exile in Babylon. One of the first things they set out to do was rebuild the temple.
They started with great enthusiasm and wonderful intentions but slowly slipped back into complacency and eventually stopped their work on the temple altogether. Other things seemed to be higher priorities, more urgent, and more appealing to work on. Haggai 1:2-8 says:
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘These people say, "The time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’s house."’
Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the LORD." (NIV)
Oh, this reminds me just how divided my heart can be when it comes to taking care of my body — God’s temple. Like the Jewish people, I could easily say, "I’m not in a season where it’s feasible to take care of my body. I just can’t find the time between the kids, my work responsibilities, running a home, paying the bills, and all the day-to-day activities."
However, if I am really honest, I make time for what I want to make time for.
Just the same, the Jews who returned from Babylon obviously had time to do things they really wanted to do as well. They found the time and energy to put paneling up in their own homes while ignoring the home of the Lord.
So, where’s the hope?
I found it in the challenge the Lord issues in verse 7: "Give careful thought to your ways" and make time to "build the house" so that He may be honored.
Verse 8 says, "Go up into the mountains." In other words, escape the ruts of my same old patterns by heading onward and upward. Give careful thought to each decision I make from here.
I realized each decision mattered.
So, I started waking up each day and lifting up my willingness to head in a new direction to the Lord. As I took positive steps, the Lord strengthened my heart day by day.
One good decision turned into two, turned into three and eventually turned into victory.
Slowly, I rebuilt my temple and learned to honor God with my body. Me. The girl who used to cringe at the thought of our key verse. Sweet sister, if I can do it, so can you. And my team and I want to pray for you. So come over to my blog today and tell us how we can prayerfully support you.
Dear Lord, I want to honor You with my body and my life. I commit to make good decisions that will lead me into a better place with my struggles. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 3:16, "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?" (NIV)
Has food become more about frustration then fulfillment? Lysa’s book, Made to Crave, is the missing link between your desire to be healthy and the spiritual empowerment you need to make it happen! Purchase your copy here.
If you’re struggling to make healthy choices, take the Made to Crave 21-Day Challenge for free! You’ll get daily, biblical encouragement sent straight to your email inbox. Get started here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you honoring God by taking care of your body?
Think of one way you can improve on that this week: take a walk during your lunch break, prepare healthy meals instead of eating out, etc.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Have you ever looked at other people and thought to yourself, "How does everyone else have it all together? And why is it I seem to have so many issues?"
I understand. For most of my life, I’ve struggled with my weight and committing to a healthy lifestyle. My soul was rubbed raw from years of trying and failing.
I wanted something to instantly fix my issues.
I wanted to stop calling myself awful names I’d never let another person call me.
I wanted to be naturally thin like my sister.
I wanted to stop crying when I walked into my closet to get dressed in the morning.
So when I lost 25 pounds a few years ago and kept it off for the first time in my life, it was a huge victory.
But my real celebration hasn’t been over the smaller clothing size and reduced numbers on the scale. My real celebration is over the spiritual insights I gained while losing the weight and maintaining my healthy progress.
For me, this has been a spiritual journey — a significant spiritual journey with great physical benefits. I had been overweight physically and underweight spiritually and finally tying those two things together was life changing.
One of the richest lessons has been realizing the amount of mental and spiritual energy I wasted for years just wishing things would change. All the while, I was beating myself up for not having the discipline to make those changes.
If you have an issue with weight and food, you know what I mean. But no matter what issue you are currently dealing with, can I offer a bit of encouragement?
Jesus wants to help you with that issue. He really does. But you’ve got to stop beating yourself up about it and determine to follow His lead.
We like to identify our shortcomings, form them into a club, and beat the tar out of ourselves mentally. Over and over and over again. We label ourselves and soon lose our real identity to the beaten and bruised fragility we call "me."
We compare, we assume, we assess, we measure and most times walk away shaking our head at how woefully short our "me" falls compared to everyone else. How dangerous it is to hold up the intimate knowledge of our imperfections against the outside packaging of others.
If there is one thing that living 40-plus years has taught me it’s this: All God’s girls have issues. Every single one of us.
But we can make the choice to identify our shortcomings and instead of using them against ourselves, hand them over to Jesus and let Him chisel our rough places.
The grace-filled way Jesus chisels is so vastly different than the way I mentally beat myself up.
My mental scripts are too often full of exaggerated lies that leave me feeling defeated. His chiseling is full of truth that sets me free.
Oh what a difference.
Jesus doesn’t compare.
Jesus doesn’t exaggerate.
Jesus doesn’t condemn. Our key verse, Romans 8:1, confirms this.
He simply says, "Hey, I love you. I love you just how you are. But, I love you too much to leave you stuck in this. So, let’s work on it together. You can do this.
There is something so powerful in really believing that with Jesus’ help you can do this. Say it with me, "I can." I can is a powerful little twist for a girl feeling deprived and defeated.
I can helps me walk into the dinner party and find the conversation more appealing than the food table. I can helps me stay on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresher, healthier selections abound and smile that I know this.
I can helps me look at the drive-thru menu and order a fruit tray without even giving a thought to the fried foods I used to snack on. I can reminds me to look online for a restaurant’s nutritional information before going out, ensuring wiser choices. I can reminds me no food will ever taste as sweet as victory does.
Having issues isn’t the absence of victory in our lives. It’s simply a call to action reminding us victory is right around the corner. Today is a great day to start believing you were made to walk in victory and to say to Jesus, "Yes, with Your truth as my guide, I can."
Dear Lord, help me see myself the way You see me. Remove the lies that defeat me more often than I want to acknowledge. You have set me free. Help me live like I truly believe that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (NIV)
Reach your healthy goals and grow closer to God through the process with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made to Crave. Purchase your copy here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When you read this part in the devotion, what went through your mind? "Hey, I love you. I love you just how you are. But, I love you too much to leave you stuck in this. So, let’s work on it together."
Instead of using your shortcomings against yourself, take some time today to hand them over to Jesus and let Him begin to chisel your rough places.
Craving a new read? You’ve come to the right place. We love books. And we love sharing our thoughts on them. Welcome to Bookbites, where we give the latest books a grade, brief review and include an excerpt—a “bookbite”—that grabbed our attention.
UNGLUED: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions
Grade A+ --- A re-reader, even better the second time. Perfect cover, fits the topic like a...crazy lady with a purse on her head. A+ for the cover alone but the inside grabs you too.
Appeals to all women, especially Moms, who've had their moments of becoming unglued and want a new plan to deal with it.
Bookbite: "Feelings are indicators, not dictators, child. They can indicate where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn't mean they have the right to dictate your behavior and boss you around. You are more than the sum total of your feelings and perfectly capable of that little gift from Jesus called self-control!"
Grade B --- Interesting, journalistic, somewhat too personal to author's experience.
Appeals to women with similar life issues such as weight, abuse, approval, fear.
Bookbite: "Becoming ourselves requires standing against the current--the demands, the expectations, the assault of daily realities, and our own histories. We cannot afford to indulge in our inner diatribes any longer. To become true ourselves will require that we speak the truth in love, even to ourselves."
Grade C --- Author makes a valiant attempt to explain in layman's terms the complexities of the brain God created and the science behind how we can change our life by how we think, however the book lacks real life examples for application.
Appeals to fans of TV shows like "Brain Games" and "Dr. Oz".
Bookbite: "When you think you change...Brain scans show that parts of the brain activated by action are the same parts of the brain activated by simply thinking about an action."
"You, God, are my God; earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)
I'm taking a break from having a quiet time. Because sometimes I can get in a rut. Even with good things. And having a daily quiet time is a good thing. Until it becomes more about routine than actually connecting with God.
When God becomes routine rather than revival, it's time to switch things up.
Otherwise, I might start seeing this time as less important. It becomes the second or third thing I do. After other things. Seemingly more pressing things. Before I know it, it's been days since I connected privately and personally with Truth.
And then my soul feels a bit off and sluggish. Like when my stomach has been denied food, a desperation starts creeping over other parts of my body. That happens with soul hunger too.
Only the triggers for stomach hunger are much more apparent. My brain quickly reminds me, "You feel awful because you need to eat."
Sometimes my brain isn't as quick to pick up on soul hunger. So I just lumber forward but wonder, "What's wrong?" I think of a list of reasons ... I'm tired, I haven't had enough fun, or my butt looks big in these jeans.
And while some of those things may be true—it's not why I feel off.
I need more time with God.
Not more quiet time.
More listening time. Like the writer in Psalm 63:1 needed. "You, God, are my God; earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." (NIV)
This morning as I sat with God with nothing but willingness to listen, three things popped into my mind. I can't say "God spoke to me" but it felt right. I need to do some new things as I listen.
Study wisdom by reading a chapter in Proverbs everyday.
Ask God to reveal "my verse" for the day and think of ways to apply it. I listen.
Read something from someone I admire.
I need to study leadership in this season of my life. So I pick up a book written on this topic by someone I admire and glean from their wisdom. I listen.
Read something from someone I trust.
There's a book I'm reading right now that is whimsical and grounded all at the same time. It makes me feel like this writer gets me. They get my struggles and offer up advice I know I can trust. I listen.
Maybe you think all this still sounds like a quiet time, but to me it's different. It's a listening time. A time to shake things up a bit and get outside my normal routine. A time to listen to God speak. And He does speak ... through His book of wisdom, through someone I admire, and through someone I trust.
And this morning? My soul felt that thrilling and comforting full feeling. Complete. Satisfied. Deeply nourished.
Dear Lord, I'm seeking to grow a stronger relationship with You today. Help me to break out of the routine so that I can connect with You and hear You speak. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
It's important to exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.
In Lysa TerKeurst's New York Times bestselling book, Unglued, she shares practical ways of spending time with the Lord.
In the midst of the holiday season, take time to gather with a few trusted girlfriends who get your struggles and study Unglued together. Click here for more information on the Unglued Bible Study bundle.
Reflect and Respond:
What do you need to break up with so you can connect more closely and listen more intently to God?
Write a list of things that you are placing as priorities before your time with God. Consider how you can prioritize so that God comes first, and to make sure that your time with Him isn't just another thing on your "to do" list.
Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)
2 Chronicles 7:14, "... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (NIV)
In a world of facades, Lysa TerKeurst’s transparency is a breath of fresh air. That’s why people are gravitating to her newest book, Unglued. There’s something empowering about accepting you can’t keep it all together, but realizing that God loves you too much to let you keep losing it. Our recent interview with Lysa had us feeling like we were catching up with an old friend…
Family Christian: Hey Lysa, could you start by telling us a little about your upbringing?
Lysa TerKeurst: I was raised by a dad who was an atheist and a mom who went to church when she could. I had a chaotic upbringing in that my parents got divorced. When my mom got remarried, they started having more children. One of my sisters, (my half-sister, but still very much my sister) tragically died at a very young age because of some medication that a doctor gave her that was in too high a dose for her small body. So a lot of heartbreak, chaos and a lot of sadness in my upbringing, but at the same time I still very much remember my mom, even in the midst of so much brokenness being such a cheerleader for me. I always thought that I would grow up to be either a country music singer or the President of the United States. But as I got older I realized that I couldn’t sing and I didn’t like politics (laughs), so that proved to be a little problematic. But even so, my mom was such a cheerleader. She would always say, “Honey I think you sing great!” and “I still think you’d be a fantastic president,” so she’s just the ultimate encourager. I finally did find my niche in writing and then eventually in speaking. She’s continued to be such a wonderful encouragement to me. And so that’s a nutshell of how I got to be where I was. The country music singing and the road to the presidency didn’t really pan out like I thought it would when I was a small child (laughs), but I love what I do today.
FC: So who is your favorite country artist?
Lysa: Well when I was a little girl I was an absolutely huge Loretta Lynn fan. Of course she’s not really on the radio that much anymore so now I guess I’d say Taylor Swift, although I’m not sure people would qualify her as country music, but maybe. I like her music and maybe it’s because I have five teenagers and they like her music. So then in terms of Christian music I love good old fashioned praise and worship songs. Hands down that is my ultimate favorite. I’m so fortunate, I go to Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC and our worship team is amazing. That’s probably my favorite.
FC: Lysa would you mind giving us a glimpse into how you were introduced to Jesus?
Lysa: Yeah, well, like I said, growing up going to church was very hit or miss. We didn’t go on a consistent basis. One of my memories about going was when I was little (I was probably about 8 or so) and the pastor was one of the preachers that would bang his fist on the pulpit. Very animated. I just remember sitting there as a small child and thinking, he needs to try to relate to the younger generation a little better. And I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea, but I told my mom that I’d really like to go have a meeting with the pastor and she thought that I wanted to get baptized, but that’s not at all what I intended to speak with him about. When we got into his office I started telling him all of the mini-ways that I thought he could be a better communicator. And my mother was absolutely horrified, we didn’t really go back to that church after that. So we took a break from that for awhile – so when I say it was hit or miss, it was probably more misses than hits. Even when I was there I was always thinking of how people could do church a little bit more effectively and probably listening from the wrong vantage point. So I knew about Jesus but I can’t say that I understand what it meant to have a personal relationship until I was in my early 20s and it was after my baby sister died. I was very angry and running away from God and I wound up getting into a relationship where I got pregnant before I was married and made the really, really sad choice to have an abortion. There was something about the depth of brokenness that happened in my heart after the abortion that I cried out to God in complete desperation. Really what I was doing was begging God to let me die – to put me out of my pain. But God was so sweet and sent a person into my life that constantly put Scriptures in front of me. At first she really got on my nerves, but eventually the Scriptures started connecting deep in my heart. One night after reading one of her notes and pondering the truth of the verse that she put in front of me, I didn’t know how to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior so I just kneeled down right beside my couch in my little apartment and I just said yes to God. And my life has pretty much been a string of many days and years that followed of me continuing to say ‘yes’ to Him everyday.
FC: That’s powerful. Thank you for sharing. Let’s switch gears a little and talk about your family’s story of adoption. Those who are familiar with you have probably already heard it, but could you tell us a little bit about how you and your husband decided to start down that path of adoption? And then how did that turn into impacting not just your family, but your faith community too?
Lysa: Well, I did not have any plans to adopt because we already had three little girls. My husband and I felt very complete and I kinda always thought that adoption was for people who A. Either wanted lots of kids and had a real international perspective of family and maybe a missionary family or B. Families who couldn’t have children. And we weren’t either of those! We were an everyday family living in America with three little girls just trying to get through each day. My kids were small at the time (they were 9, 8 and 4). Life was very busy, very full. We didn’t feel like I was a good enough mom to have more children – I felt like I was barely hanging on, but the Lord directed us to go to a concert one night because one of my daughters was in Brownies (a division of Girl Scouts) [and they were] studying Liberia, so we thought it would be a good cultural experience for her. In the middle of the concert the Lord clearly said to my heart “Two of those boys are yours.” And after the concert two of the boys walked up to me, wrapped their arms around me and called me ‘Mom.’
FC: And you had never met them?
Lysa: No. I had never met them before. So it was a crazy thing. I never thought my husband would agree that we should adopt two teenage boys from Africa. It sounded scary and unreasonable, I didn’t think we could afford it, I didn’t think it was safe for my girls, I mean there were a lot of obstacles and lots of fears. And really, they were healthy fears. I mean, when you have three little girls, it doesn’t sound reasonable to adopt two teenage boys from the other side of the world. But God confirmed over and over and over to me and my husband that this was part of His unique plan for us. So while it might not make sense for most situations, God just assured us by paving the way, opening every single door, helping us to meet every single obstacle. He really calmed our fears by sending people into our lives who would speak truth to us. It was really pretty amazing how God just said, ‘maybe this isn’t an assignment that sounds reasonable or rational for anybody else, but it is my assignment for you.’ And so we agreed to adopt and then our friends all thought we were crazy. But we decided to have a concert to invite all of our friends just to get to know our boys a little bit better and to see them sing as part of the last stop that their choir was going to do. At that concert all of our friends who thought we were so crazy, the Lord moved in their hearts and they eventually all came forward and decided to adopt the rest of the boys in the choir, and then we ran out of choir boys! So then mission trips were formed and they went over to Liberia and more and more kids were brought back. As of now, we’ve had over 45 kids from those orphanages adopted into the families of our community.
FC: That is unbelievable. Is it primarily people within your church or outside of your church too?
Lysa: Yeah, it’s outside of our church. And really, it’s even outside of our community now too. There have been many children that family members in other cities or states have adopted, so it’s expanded out probably more than we’ll ever know. I mean, those 45 kids are just the ones that we know about, but I’d imagine that there have been many, many others that have been adopted, because we were on the Oprah show and the Today Show. We could look at the rate of adoption from Liberia into America, it grew dramatically. And we didn’t know all of those people, but we definitely saw a spike in interest after our story went so public.
FC: We don’t know if you knew that here at Family Christian our calling is James 1:27, to look specifically after the orphan and the widow, so we have this huge campaign both inside and outside of our building to bring awareness and action. We are all about foster care and adoption. So to hear stories like yours is fantastic, near and dear to our heart.
Lysa: Yes, I spent some time looking at your website, so I could understand fully what you’re doing. It’s called The James Fund, right?
FC: Yes, The James Fund is our non-profit organization, and what they primarily do is help to seed other organizations and defray some of the cost of adoptions, but also to help build housing and make lives better domestically and abroad. We’re also part of the Nehemiah Project whose number one goal is to eradicate the foster care system within the United States. It’s bound and determined to find homes within the faith community for all of the kids within our foster care system. We believe that this is the church’s responsibility, and we want her to rise up and take initiative in this arena.
Lysa: That’s amazing, I love that.
FC: It’s a tall task, but we’re excited to see what God does with it. Ok, let’s talk about your new book Unglued. There are a few topics covered in your book and we were hoping you could comment on a couple of them. First ‘the working mother’s balancing act.’ You mentioned that “Women need to lean on other women to support them so they can let down their guard and become transparent.” How do you see that in your own life?
Lysa: I definitely think motherhood – no matter if you’re a working mom or stay at home mom – is really tough sometimes. It can really leave us each day with a sense of wondering if we’re doing it right. You know, it’s a long term investment. You don’t see big returns in the short term. Raising a child can easily pull you into being hyper-focused on the tough everyday moments of life. The toddler that doesn’t want to be potty trained and the infant that won’t stop crying and the middle schooler who is just getting into these hormonal fluxes – happy one minute and so upset the next that you can’t even figure out what happened, then teenagers who are really trying to push the limits – I don’t want to be a child, and yet I need a parent, but I’m not yet an adult. It’s all these things, I mean; it can be really hard on a woman’s heart especially when the everyday is filled with moments that don’t feel so wonderful. We love our kids, we treasure our kids, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the chaotic emotions around trying to understand how to raise a child. So in Unglued, I really go right into a big issue that mom’s face, women face, even a lot of men face, and that is: how do we react in that moment of conflict? There’s going to be lots of conflicts that we face every single day, but what do we do in that split second when we’re just about to react to that thing that’s happening? The relationship conflict, or the situational conflict, or the stresses of everyday life that pull at our emotions. And so in Unglued, I really help people see that it is possible to exercise self-control in that split second before we react to the circumstances of our life.
For the purpose of people better understanding themselves, I list out four different reaction types; there are two kinds of ‘Exploders’ and two kinds of ‘Stuffers.’ The Exploders need to add into that split second moment a pause and a dose of perspective. And in Unglued I show them how to do this. And then the Stuffers need to let go of pretending and let go of approving and I show them how to do those in the split second right before they react. It’s really amazing to see what kind of feedback we’ve been getting from people – not just moms. Certainly we’ve been hearing from moms because at the heart of who we are, we want to raise our kids right and be good examples, but sometimes the chaos of everyday emotion or circumstances make us question if we’re being good examples for our kids. We have been getting letters of marriages being saved, moms feeling like they’re becoming better moms, friendships being saved because people are having kind but honest conversations for the first time in their friendships, even work relationships are being repaired as people are learning how to better handle their reactions in the workplace. So it’s really cutting across all of the circumstances and situations that people face and equipping them to have better reactions. If you equip people to have better reactions, you’ll equip them to have better relationships.
FC: You’ve said that the purpose of Unglued is not to get people to a place where they are perfect at keeping their emotions in check; the goal is “imperfect progress.”What would you say to the woman who looks at your life or people on a talk show who appear to have it all together and think “they have a perfect life, but mine is a complete disaster”? How do you address this person who sees their imperfections, or their messy house and compares it with this pedestal of perfection?
Lysa: Well yeah, I’m one of those people because I look at other people all of the time and I think man, they’re so much better at life than me. So I am the woman who has the pile of laundry and the dirty kitchen (laughs) and the five kids who are sweet but sometimes disrespectful. It’s easy for me to compare myself to other people and really start feeling down because I compare their perfect outsides to my very imperfect insides. But here’s what the Lord’s really been teaching me: We aren’t supposed to strive for perfection everyday. If we were perfect, we’d have no need for Jesus. And it’s through our imperfections that we really feel the pull toward our need for a Savior. So the imperfections serve a wonderful purpose if we’ll let them. Now, do we always need to be striving to be better? Absolutely. But I encourage people in Unglued, to seek to make imperfect progress. Seek to get a little better each day. Wrap each step in grace and be okay that imperfect progress is at least moving forward, it doesn’t have to be perfect…
FC: Thank you Lysa so much for talking with us today and for your insight. Keep up the good work, and we’ll keep helping to get the message out.
Hearing From God In Your Daily Life
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