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Tag Archives: Tracie Miles

  • Never Say Amen

    Posted on July 14, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles JULY 14, 2015

    Never Say Amen
    TRACIE MILES

    "Never stop praying." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

    "Are you still talking with her?" I asked my daughter Kaitlyn. She’d been texting with a friend for what seemed like hours.

    She nodded and continued texting.

    "I just don’t see how you can have that much to talk about. Does the conversation ever end?" I asked.

    "Nope," she proudly exclaimed. "We never really end the conversation or say goodbye. We just take breaks and then pick back up later where we left off."

    I rolled my eyes and suggested she force herself to take a break, or I might just help her take a really long break from her phone altogether. We chuckled as she slid the phone into her pocket.

    As I thought back to her answer, it made me wonder about my conversations … particularly with God. How might my relationship with God grow if I simply never said, "Amen"? If I just kept the conversation going all day, picking back up where we left off or talking about new things?

    In today’s key verse, Paul urges us to pray continually. Not because God requires it, but because our hearts long to feel close to Him.

    Talking with God throughout the day invites Him into even the smallest details of our lives. Of course He doesn’t need us to fill Him in on our problems, prayer requests and praises. Instead, we receive the blessing because we will feel His presence throughout each and every day.

    Just as my heart leaped at the idea of continual conversation with God, my mind chimed in with logistics: How can I possibly pray all the time when I obviously have other thoughts going through my mind? How can I stay focused on prayer in the midst of the chaos of work, to-do lists, daily obligations, frustrations, parenting and busyness?

    Praying continually doesn’t mean we have to stay on our knees all day and never stop to do anything else. It simply means maintaining an attitude of prayer. A mindset that God is always there, like a trusted friend walking beside us or merely one text away. A friend with whom we can jump back into the conversation — with confidence that He will be there.

    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (NLT). Having a heart attitude of prayer simply means developing a focus on joy and gratitude.

    When we focus on the good, instead of the bad, we develop a mental attitude of thankfulness. When our hearts are full of thankfulness for God, we will find ourselves longing to talk with Him more and more and learning to recognize His holy whispers.

    We must be aware that Satan will do everything in his power to distract us and try to keep us from having an attitude of prayer and thankfulness. He knows the more time we spend talking with God, the more we will depend on Him and trust Him with our whole hearts.

    I can keep my daughter from having a never-ending texting conversation, but no one can keep us from having an ongoing conversation with the Most High. Nothing can stand in the way of us conversing with God unless we let it, and prayer is a conversation worth continuing and never saying "Amen."

    Lord, fill me with a desire to talk with You all day long and to feel Your Spirit leading me through our conversations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." (NLT)

    Romans 12:12, "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    For tips and encouragement on growing closer to God and learning to hear His voice in the busyness of everyday life, consider purchasing Tracie Miles’ book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World.

    Visit Tracie’s blog to download her free "7 Days of Prayer" printable to help you pray daily for your children, husband, work, finances and faith. Also, enter to win a copy of her book Stressed-Less Living!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is it that keeps you from talking to God more often? What can you do to change your mindset about praying without ceasing?

    Consider the worries that have been heaviest on your heart, or those issues keeping you too busy or distracted to spend time in prayer. Open up a conversation with God about those things and invite Him into the details of your everyday life.

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Survive the Stress of Summer

    Posted on June 5, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles JUNE 5, 2015

    How to Survive the Stress of Summer
    TRACIE MILES

    "The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace." Psalm 29:11 (NLT)

    The threat of summer craziness was becoming a reality. I settled in a chair at my kitchen table, surrounded by the clutter of information sheets regarding work obligations, sports practices, mission trips and church activities. Pulling out my family calendar, I mapped out the summer months.

    After writing down all our commitments, I stared at the endless scribbles etched across practically every date. We had only one free week during the entire summer. With a heavy sigh and swirling thoughts, I felt a twinge of stress and anxiety slowly rising up in my chest.

    I couldn’t help but wonder, Isn’t summer supposed to be footloose and fancy-free? What happened to sleeping in and time to rest and unwind? Are relaxing summer days merely a thing of the past?

    Instead, now it seems like summers are filled with days when the kids get bored and whiny, camps get cancelled, work gets in the way of vacation plans, the AC goes out, and traffic is horrendous.

    We have more and more days when we lose our patience or harbor a bad attitude, or have had quite enough of "family time." Days when we feel powerless against the exhaustion of our busy schedules and stress rules the roost.

    It may seem that easy summers are long gone. However, we can make it through the hectic days and stay at peace despite the chaos. In today’s key verse, God promises He will help us with whatever we face: "The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace" (Psalm 29:11).

    There are several keys to God’s peace overriding the mayhem. When we remember to focus on God’s sweet goodness, instead of all the scribbles on our calendar, we can proactively manage our summertime. We can receive God’s calm, even in a busy and sometimes stressful time of the year.

    Here are some practical tips to keep summer stress at bay:

     

    • Focus on all the good things God has done for us so far this year, instead of the challenges of the summer months.
    • Remain calm and pray for God's peace when the demands of family and life seem overwhelming.
    • Ask God to give us rest and strength when we begin to feel stretched thin and worn out.
    • Take daily mini-vacations. Try to set aside at least five minutes per hour to stretch and take a break, and stay committed to your time in God’s Word each day!
    • When you take days off from your work or daily routine, unplug completely — meaning no phone or emails.
    • Keep a checklist or a detailed calendar of all scheduled activities so you can stay organized and less stressed.
    • Do something for yourself once a week: take a bubble bath, read a good book, spend time outdoors or take a nap.

     

    Busyness and stress can heat up quicker than the summer sun. But it is possible to stay cool on the inside. Whether we are low in spirit or low in energy, depending on God and seeking a daily infusion of His strength and peace can ensure a less stressful summer.

    Dear God, sometimes I allow the chaos of summer to distract me from spending time with You. I neglect to claim Your peace and allow myself to get bogged down with the stressors of the season. I get frustrated with my children, rather than treasuring this time with them. Help me focus on You when I begin to feel overcommitted and to seek Your peace with each rising sun. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 13:6, "I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms — I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers." (MSG)

    Proverbs 8:30, "Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Consider purchasing Tracie’s book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in Your Chaotic World to help prepare your heart for the stress of summer and life in general.

    For more tips on having a less stressed summer, visit Tracie Miles on Pinterest and check out her Summer Survival Series pinboard, which offers tips for stay-at-home and working moms, working women, vacation planning, free checklists, back-to-school and college send-off tips and more!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do the stressors of summer zap your strength and rob you of your joy and peace in Christ?

    What can you do differently this summer than you have done in the past to prevent summer stress?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • The One Thing We Can All Have in Common

    Posted on May 15, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles MAY 15, 2015

    The One Thing We Can All Have in Common
    TRACIE MILES

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

    As I read her email, my heart felt heavy. She had endured so much pain in her life, none of which she deserved or caused.

    Then I read another email. And this person’s story was completely different, yet the pain and heartache of her life seemed unfair, too, and more than one person should have to endure. Then another email. Then another.

    Countless emails sat in my inbox — each one saturated with intense emotion and vulnerable honesty. All sharing a different experience and a different level of hurt, shame or regret.

    One had been physically abused. One was betrayed. One battled addiction. One divorced. One had been sexually abused. One struggled with fear and anxiety. One had chosen abortion. One had been unfaithful. One had a serious disability.

    The list was long, and every one of these women had something in her past that once made her feel insignificant, void of value and unlovable to God. Yet, despite their different experiences, all these women had one amazing thing in common, which stood out loud and clear.

    You see, each one had allowed God to transform her pain into purpose, and as a result, their lives now shine as a living testament to the power of a Holy God. Each one had watched God turn something difficult into something that would glorify Him.

    Romans 8:1-2 says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (NIV). This verse reminds us that no matter what has happened in our lives, or what we have or have not done, God loves and values us unconditionally.

    Later in that same chapter, in today’s key verse, we read God not only loves us, but has a plan and a purpose for our lives — not despite our past, but because of it.

    Paul experienced pain and suffering through various forms of persecution: imprisonment, beatings and rejection. He spoke from the wisdom of his own experiences and exemplified the transforming power of God’s ability to turn any mess into a message.

    Paul encouraged believers to embrace God’s promise that He can use all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, not only for God’s good, but also our own.

    Regardless of how difficult our pasts are, as children of God we have a commonality in Christ Jesus our Savior: God will use for good what the devil intended for evil. When we allow God to use our pain for a purpose that glorifies Him and ministers to others, we enjoy the blessing of spiritual healing and transformation like never before.

    No matter how different our prior experiences, we can still have one precious thing in common. We can each choose to live as proof of the power of Jesus to change a life. All things truly can be used for the good of those called by Him.

    Lord, I’ve always felt I couldn’t be fully loved or forgiven because of my past and that maybe You had no purpose for me. Help me embrace the promise of Romans 8:28 — of Your love and plans for my life. Help me discover the amazing purpose You’ve ordained just for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Genesis 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people." (NLT)

    Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Ever wondered about your value to God, and if God could really use you for a divine purpose? Get your copy of Your Life Still Counts by Tracie Miles and embark on a journey of healing, life transformation and the discovery of purpose.

    To help you remember Romans 8:1 every morning and how precious you are to God, Tracie is giving away two Your Life Still Counts Keepsake Coffee Mugs to enjoy your favorite beverage during your quiet time or prayer time. Visit her blog for a picture of the mugs and find out how to enter to win!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What has happened in your life that made you feel unworthy of God’s love? Surrender those things to God and pray for a new perspective, peace and purpose.

    How has God used a difficult experience in your past to equip you to minister, help or comfort others in a special way?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • The One Sin I Thought was Unforgivable

    Posted on April 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles APRIL 10, 2015

    The One Sin I Thought was Unforgivable
    TRACIE MILES

    "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NLT)

    The event speaker spoke the one word I didn’t want to hear. She said the one word that elicited painful memories, shame and regret. One word that left me weeping silently in the pew, hoping no one would notice my brokenness.

    My eyes were closed, but I sensed God’s eyes were wide open and focused directly on me. Part of me felt afraid and confused, but a bigger part of me felt peace in light of the gift God was offering.

    Amid the flood of hot tears that burned in my swollen, tightly shut eyes, I pleaded with God for His forgiveness of the one sin — the one word — that I felt was unforgivable. I meekly, humbly and reluctantly dared to ask God, once again, the prayer I had uttered so many times, yet never believed could be answered.

    Could You … would You … possibly … forgive me for that, Lord? Really?

    If You could forgive others for their sins, could You maybe, just maybe, forgive me too?

    If You can still love them, despite their pasts, can You love me too?

    Will You still love me, God?

    I felt like a little girl sitting at her daddy’s feet, asking forgiveness for not listening to his words of instruction, and longing for him to scoop her up and reassure her of his love. My heart was gaping wide, and I waited, anxious for God to fill me with all the things I never thought I deserved to ask for, much less receive.

    I felt sure God was wondering if I were a broken record instead of a broken soul. I had asked for His forgiveness for 14 years, never feeling worthy of it and never expecting Him to actually grant it. But this time, in this place, I actually believed I was forgiven.

    I felt the lightness and freedom of a prisoner set free. Joy caught in my throat, and I could hardly swallow. The unbearable, heavy burden of my shame, regret, sorrow and haunting memories were all lifted the moment I embraced God’s promise that ALL sins are forgivable through Christ. Including mine.

    Abortion. The one word that made my heart shudder — that was a tragic choice made by a scared 19-year-old. And unfortunately, statistics show that more than 56 million U.S. women may have shuddered at that one word as well, since abortion became legal in America.

    Yet despite the reasons we made bad choices, God longs to offer forgiveness. The enemy doesn’t want us to believe that truth. He wants to keep us in bondage to shame and secrecy … to prevent us from living as a testament of God’s grace and power over sin. As our key verse notes, Scripture states quite the opposite: "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

    The "one word" you dread might be very different from mine, but God can free you from whatever keeps you from embracing how much you are adored by Christ. Might today be the day you learn to fly in the freedom of His forgiveness and peace?

    Father, You know the "one word" that makes me shudder. Forgive me and cleanse my heart. Fill me with overwhelming peace and acceptance of that gift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ephesians 1:7, "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins." (NLT)

    1 John 1:9, "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." (NLT)

    Psalm 34:5, "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    April is National Abortion Recovery Awareness Month and Tracie’s heart is to help women find healing who are still struggling with regret or shame over abortion, or any sin or experience that has made them feel unforgivable or unlovable. Visit Tracie’s blog for tips and resources on overcoming shame and embracing your value and worth to Jesus.

    To read the rest of Tracie’s story of how God transformed her heart and life after abortion, you can purchase her book Your Life Still Counts. Tracie also offers other study material on her blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is the "one word" you don’t want to hear? Embrace God’s forgiveness and freedom from it once and for all.

    Let God guide your thoughts as you sit in His Presence. Utter the words you never felt capable of uttering, and be ready for God to move in your heart.

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • There’s no Such Thing as a Perfect Mom

    Posted on March 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles MARCH 2, 2015

    There’s no Such Thing as a Perfect Mom
    TRACIE MILES

    "Her children arise and call her blessed;" Proverbs 31:28a (NIV)

    A teenage pregnancy landed me in an abortion clinic. And for years afterward, I was tormented by regret and shame, worsened by the secret fear that God would never bless me with another child. Yet 14 years later, as I held my first baby in my arms, I began thinking hope-filled thoughts for the very first time.

    I peered into Morgan’s little blue eyes and wondered … Maybe God doesn’t despise me after all. Maybe He does see some good in me. Maybe He does love me, despite me. After all, if God would allow me to be a mom to something so tiny and precious, could He really hate me?

    Those questions were the start of my healing, as Jesus began to mend my shattered heart through the cries of a newborn.

    Over time, I embraced God’s love for me. Yet I still believed I had a lot to make up for. I was convinced I had to be the best mommy in the history of all mommies. I intended to prove to God, this baby and myself that I deserved her. I devoted every waking moment to meeting every need of this treasured child.

    Irrational? Obsessed? Overachieving? Yes, I was all of those things. I desperately wanted to be a good mom, the best mom. In fact, I hoped I could make up for my past mistakes if I were the perfect mom. So I set standards for myself that I couldn’t meet — no one could — and constantly felt like a failure.

    I imagine many moms feel that way at times. We set our minds to being the most patient, loving, thoughtful, caring, kind, generous and selfless mothers ever, but life and reality get in the way. Colicky babies, tantrum-throwing toddlers, defiant third graders, disrespectful middle schoolers, and hormonal teenagers shake our quest for perfection.

    No matter how hard we try, we can’t live up to the standard of being perfect moms with perfect kids who rise up every day and call us blessed.

    When we read today’s key verse, it might make us wonder if we’re enough as a mom — especially on those days when we don’t feel like enough. But the truth is, this woman’s husband and children, who knew her better than anyone else, were recipients of her love, care and unselfish habits. They believed she was a good mother and wife and respected her faith and who she was overall, and they were proud.

    It doesn’t say she was perfect, just that she was perfectly loved and respected.

    All of us have made mistakes or endured hardships in life, but we don’t have to let our past become a stumbling block for our future or impact the futures of our children. God has called us all to a divine purpose in this life, and sometimes the highest, most divine calling of all, is being a mom.

    Not a perfect mom, but a mom who loves the Lord, and seeks grace when she stumbles and strength when she’s weary. A mom who pushes past her lack of confidence and regrets from the past, and allows God to use those experiences to shape her into a faith role model for her kids.

    A mom who simply tries her best, while remembering she has a God who will guide her through each season of parenting, one imperfect day after another. A mom who loves her children enough to teach them to love Him too, even in the midst of her own short-comings.

    And one day, those sweet babies just might rise up and call us blessed, simply because we built a legacy of faith and love. Then every prayer for grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience and perseverance will be well worth the wait.

    Jesus, sometimes I feel like a failure at mothering, and often wonder if my past choices affect my ability to be a good parent. Help me to remember I am flawed, but dearly loved, and that in Your strength and wisdom I can succeed in this calling of motherhood. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 22:6, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    For more encouragement on being the woman and mom God called you to be despite the mistakes of your past, consider purchasing Tracie Miles’ book Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future.

    Visit Tracie’s blog for 5 Tips of Encouragement for the Less-Than-Perfect Mom and learn about her upcoming book study.

    Want to help put Truth into your children’s hearts? ABC Scripture Cards were designed to bring Scripture memory to life in the heart of your home. Each decorative card contains a verse to memorize with your child as you help instill God’s word into their heart and mind.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    How have you held yourself to unreasonable standards as a mom?

    How might this journey of motherhood be different if you stopped trying to be perfect?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Remember Whose You Are

    Posted on February 17, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles FEBRUARY 17, 2015

    Remember Whose You Are
    TRACIE MILES

    "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 (NLT)

    Because of mistakes in my past, I spent a lot of years not liking the woman who stared back at me in the mirror.

    Maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe you’ve even played the "wonder" game, like I did, for far too long.

    Wondering who you really were. Wondering if you were forgivable. Wondering if you were worthy. Wondering if you were loved by God and others. Wondering if you were lovable. Wondering if you were beyond repair. Wondering if what someone did to hurt you stole your value. Wondering if you were a good enough person, wife, mom, employee, boss, sister, daughter, friend, servant. Wondering if you measured up in any area of life.

    Maybe you still wonder if your life counts for something beyond your responsibilities and obligations, or if you were just meant to march through your daily routines with no real purpose or direction. Maybe you wonder if the lies you hear in your head are true: that not only does your life not matter to God, but that you probably don’t matter either.

    Today’s key verse is a reminder that these whispers from the enemy are nothing but lies. We are each royal heirs to God’s kingdom, but sometimes life gets in the way of that truth. We think we are either too sinful or too messed up to be loved by a Savior, or that our past voids our chances of being loved by God, much less useful to Him.

    Whether we are the sinner or the victim of a sinner, shame can slither in and shape the way we see ourselves. Then it becomes easy for the enemy’s deceptive and damaging schemes to weave a web of lies deep into our hearts and minds. Gradually, we lose sight of who we are in Christ, which is exactly what the devil wants us to do.

    Satan’s ultimate goal is to get us to believe the lies, and live them out in our everyday lives, apart from God. But it is up to us whether he reaches that goal or not. We can thwart his plans by claiming God’s sovereignty over our hearts once and for all.

    It’s possible you have been living in the shadow of the enemy’s lies, either because of your own mistakes or because of someone else’s choices to sin against you. I wasted many years believing the enemy’s lies were absolute truths. When I finally began to believe I did matter to God, I thwarted the enemy’s plans and began to follow God’s instead.

    If you have been living the lie, too discouraged to allow yourself to believe how much God loves you, or too ashamed of your past to accept God’s gift of grace and mercy, let today become the day you begin seeing yourself in a new light with a new reflection looking back at you. Be proud of who you see in the mirror, not because of who you are, but because of Whose you are.

    Today’s key verse reminds us that we are, without question, beloved children of God. As Beth Moore once said, "If you are not royalty, He is not King." We are rightful heirs to God’s kingdom — and His love and acceptance. You are a royal and dearly loved daughter, and He is the King of all kings!

    Oh Lord, how I want to break free from the pain and shame of my past and embrace who I am in You. Cleanse my heart and mind of the lies I have believed, and transform the reflection I see in the mirror into a dearly loved child of God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 139:14, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it." (NLT)

    Matthew 10:31, "So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you long to begin seeing yourself in a different light, accept how valuable you are to Christ, and discover a divine purpose for your life, not despite your past, but because of it? Sign up for Tracie’s free online Bible study of Your Life Still Counts, which begins March 16th! Click here for all the information.

    Tracie is giving away three Your Life Still Counts gift packs valued at $35 each. Visit her blog for more information and find out how to enter!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What occurred in your past that has caused you to believe the lie that God may not love you? How might accepting His truths change your life today?

    Write the lie or lies you have believed for far too long — those thoughts about yourself that God does not agree with. Surrender them to God today and ask Him to help you begin seeing yourself through His eyes, instead of your own.

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • What if I Fall?

    Posted on January 23, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles JANUARY 23, 2015 

    What if I Fall?
    TRACIE MILES

    "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." James 4:17 (NLT)

    It seemed like a great idea at first, until my fear and procrastination caused me to miss a blessing.

    I’d been invited to speak at a summer camp and my daughter Kaitlyn joined me. In between attending the worship events, we were given the opportunity to sign up for outdoor activities, one of which was a ropes and zip line course dangling high in the mountain trees.

    After putting on safety gear and listening to basic instructions, Kaitlyn and I waited our turn in line. Yet while she was filled with excitement, dread filled my heart.

    I watched each girl clip her carabineer and climb up the towering tree to the first platform landing. My heart raced and my inner voice of reason worked overtime. What was I thinking? Why would anyone want to climb all the way up there, just for fun? What if I get up there and I’m too scared to get back down? What if I can’t finish the course and get embarrassed? What if my rope breaks and I fall?

    The more I procrastinated, the more people moved ahead and the more I convinced myself I could not accomplish this task. Finally it was my turn. I started up the tree. Slowly. Hesitantly. Fearfully. I looked down the entire time, though the camp leaders constantly encouraged me to look up instead. After just a few moments, I caved into all those irrational fears, climbed down the tree and removed my safety gear.

    Later, I watched Kaitlyn climb high into the treetops, safely attached to the ropes, moving from platform to platform. I regretted my procrastination and fear of taking a risk. As the wind rustled through her long blonde hair and the sun shone on her face, she smiled and hollered down how beautiful the view was from high above. As she zoomed down the zip line and splashed into the lake water below, I could sense the accomplishment and joy that washed across her face.

    And then I realized I’d missed the blessing of experiencing something new — seeing the beauty of the forest from a higher view instead of my limited view from the ground. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time I’d let fear and procrastination interfere with God’s blessings in my life.

    Jesus knew we would struggle with procrastination. He gave us Truths in His Word to combat it. But in today’s key verse we also see that not doing what we feel called to do is not only procrastination, but sin.

    When God calls us to make a "risky" move for Him, we often worry and try to reason ourselves out of it. We might spend time looking at our obstacles rather than at God, which makes courage flee and fear paralyze us. In fact, when we wait for every life circumstance to be perfect before we step out in faith, the devil is happy to spend his time trying to bring us down and convince us to never move at all.

    Procrastination may seem to come normal for us, but it is never God’s best for us. We don’t often think of it as sin, but anytime we don’t do what God called us to do, when He calls us to do it, it is sin. It’s easier said than done, but we mustn’t let fear outweigh faith.

    Jesus encourages us to fulfill the work He called us to do and not to waste time procrastinating. Not simply because it’s a sin, but because time is precious, and He promises that obedience brings blessings. How sad to miss the abundant blessings that come when we follow God’s call, simply because we keep putting it off.

    Not pushing past my fears to a zip line obviously was not sin, but not doing what God instructs me to do always is. I’ve finally learned that when we take a leap of faith, with God, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose but fear.

    Father, give me the courage to take a risk for You and the strength to take a leap of faith in whatever You call me to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 9:4, "We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you struggle with procrastination, be inspired to take a leap of faith by registering for Tracie’s free Online Bible Study of Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create A Beautiful Future. Visit Tracie’s blog to participate and find out all the fun things that will be happening in this study!

    Ready to take a risk for God this year and reap the blessings He has in store for you? Sign up for Tracie’s free 5-Day Faith Zone Challenge to help you move from comfort zone to faith zone.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write two things God’s prompted you to do that you procrastinated in obeying. Pray for God’s strength and courage to act.

    What is one step you can take this week to push past procrastination?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Tired of Waiting

    Posted on November 23, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them." Genesis 25:26b (NIV)

    Do you ever get tired of waiting on God to answer your prayers? I do.

    I get tired of saying the same old prayer day after day, month after month, year after year. Tired of telling God about the same old problems still going on. Tired of hearing myself pray about the same old issues, leading me to wonder if God is as tired of hearing my prayer requests as I am of praying them.

    Recently I bowed my head and admitted to God that I was simply tired of praying and waiting.

    In a heavy state of emotional exhaustion, I turned to my Bible. I hoped a few verses would jump straight into my heart and give me patience. That day I read about when Isaac's wife Rebekah gave birth to twin sons. One sentence in particular caught my eye and God used it to speak hope into my soul.

    Genesis 25:26 tells us that Isaac was sixty years old when his twins were born; a simple Bible fact, yet profoundly meaningful to me on that specific day.

    You see, Isaac had waited patiently for the Lord to provide the perfect wife. He was forty years old when he married Rebekah. That means Isaac waited twenty years for Rebekah to bear children!

    He was a man of great patience who waited on God. And eventually his patient faith was rewarded.

    In Genesis 25:21a we see that "Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children." (NLT) He earnestly and strongly prayed about their desires to have kids. He did not half-heartedly ask God for a son, he pleaded! He begged. He poured his heart out.

    He trusted that God would provide and continued to pray the same desperate prayer for a son, day after day, month after month, year after year.

    Isaac never gave up hope that his Lord could make the impossible, possible. And after twenty years, God gave him a son.

    Are you tired of the wait? Tired of pleading with God just like Isaac? It may take twenty years for God to answer, or it may only take twenty minutes. But today, let's find comfort in remembering Isaac's patient faith and take hope in believing that God is not tired of hearing our prayers.

    Dear Lord, please help me have patience and faith while I wait to hear from You. Help me live in excited anticipation for the day when I will see how You answer my prayers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

    Reflect and Respond:
    Consider prayers that have not been answered, but which you have not prayed about lately. Ask God to give you a renewed hope about those desires and faithfully wait on His timing.

    Have you stopped praying about something because you've grown tired of waiting on God?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (NIV)

    Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (KJV)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • More Than Crumbs

    Posted on November 6, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "Give us today our daily bread." Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

    As I sat on the beach enjoying the sunrise I watched a few seagulls wander aimlessly, looking lost and confused. I wondered why there were so few, considering the normal flocks that swarm overhead filling the air with screeching cries.

    Then I realized they had no reason to be on the beach, much less to be excited or active. There were no people around to generate crumbs.

    I'm pretty sure seagulls can smell potato chip crumbs a mile away. They stay at a distance until they think someone has something they want. Then they come running, or should I say dive bombing. Even if no birds are in sight, one tiny crumb falls on the sand and suddenly dozens of seagulls swoop down out of nowhere.

    Memories of hungry seagulls interrupting our picnics at the beach made me chuckle until I felt God whisper to my spirit: Sometimes Tracie, you are just like those seagulls.

    In Matthew 6, Jesus shares with His disciples how to pray, in what is commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer.

    Today's key verse is taken from the middle of the Lord's Prayer. In it Jesus reminds His disciples to stay in close union with Him through prayer, because He knows they need the spiritual nourishment and physical necessities only He can provide. Jesus calls His disciples to seek Him and trust His provision for their daily needs.

    Unfortunately, there are times I don't follow this wisdom and instruction. I may go days or weeks, aimlessly wandering like those seagulls on a deserted beach — flying through my tasks and routines, without consciously seeking God.

    But as soon as something happens that makes me mad, sad, worried, frustrated, discouraged, or stressed, I fly straight to God. Swooping in out of nowhere, I dive bomb into His presence. Expectantly, I wait for Him to give me a profound thought or an answer to prayer. In essence, to toss me some crumbs of spiritual encouragement.

    Unlike a seagull who seeks temporary satisfaction from random crumbs, I want to be consumed with a spiritual hunger that's never satisfied. A hunger that pains me if I fail to get a daily portion of God's wisdom, love and guidance. A hunger that when met, replaces my discouragement, worry and stress.

    I don't want to live with a seagull mentality, being satisfied with mere crumbs. Instead I want to enjoy the fullness of God's presence and a constant supply of His Word each and every day. What about you?

    Dear Lord, forgive me for not seeking You daily. I ask for Your physical provision and spiritual nourishment to get me through every day. Help me develop an insatiable desire for Your Word and to spend time with You in prayer. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

    The One Year Chronological Bible

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you been putting God on the back burner, and then dive bombing for spiritual crumbs when life gets rough?

    How can you begin to make God a priority, and seek Him daily for your every need?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (NIV)

    Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Our Thoughts Have Wheels

    Posted on October 22, 2012 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7a (KJV)

    The day started off just fine, but ended with confusion and tears. As a timid middle-schooler, I climbed the steps of my school bus eager to get home after a long afternoon.

    Sitting quietly in my seat, all of a sudden I got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Although my surroundings appeared to be the same, something was not right.

    The bus was the normal sunshine yellow. The seats were standard black vinyl, displaying rips and tears from years of students. The floor was littered with the usual misplaced pencils, erasers and wadded-up papers. Yet, I felt out of place.

    That's when I realized I did not know any of the kids sitting around me. And I had never seen the bus driver before. Frantically, I searched for anything familiar. My cheeks grew hot and my heart raced with panic as I realized I was on the wrong bus.

    Although I WAS headed somewhere, it was NOT where I wanted to go.

    I'd been distracted by conversations with friends, thoughts of sleepovers, and how much homework I had. My thoughts were not focused on where I was going. The actions that followed caused me to end up somewhere I did not want to be.

    Thinking back on that day, I've considered how our thoughts determine a lot about the direction of our lives. Like my school bus, our thoughts will always take us somewhere, but it may not be somewhere we want to end up.

    If we spend time thinking about how our boss does not appreciate us, our thoughts will take us straight to a bad attitude at work and possibly poor performance.

    If we focus on how much we do for others and how little we feel appreciated, our thoughts will take us to a place of resentment, with lack of patience and love.

    If we spend an entire day fuming over something our husband or kids did, and mentally practice the harsh words we plan to say to them, those thoughts will lead us into a place of arguments, hurt feelings and damaged relationships.

    If we dwell on why God has allowed certain problems in our lives, we will transport ourselves into a state of insecurity and unhappiness as we stop trusting God.

    If we focus our thoughts on money, career, success and pleasure, we will find ourselves in the land of the lost—feeling frustrated and discontent.

    Our thoughts are powerful and need our navigation. If we allow them to run rampant in negative directions, focusing on things that lead us away from God's perspective, we will eventually end up stressed out - from the inside out.

    In today's key verse, God shows us why we should choose carefully what we think about, because our thoughts determine who we are and how we live.

    Reacting to stressful situations by becoming a chronically negative thinker will eventually increase our stress and possibly take us to a destination we would never choose.

    My childhood memory reminds me to consistently ask God to help me keep my mind on Him and on the thoughts He has for me. That way I can live according to His plans and with His perspective, seeking to be acutely aware of where my thoughts may lead me.

    Our thoughts really do have wheels. Where are your thoughts taking you today?

    Dear Lord, please help me take my thoughts captive, and focus on things that are pleasing to You. Please give me the desire to control my thoughts and maintain a Godly perspective about the circumstances in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    For more to manage stressful emotions and navigate negative thoughts, consider Tracie Miles' new book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you been guarding and guiding your thoughts, or have your thoughts been leading you to a place you don't want to go? Is it possible that you've allowed negative thoughts to bring more stress into your life?

    Make a list of all the negative thoughts you have had lately. Ask God to help you replace those emotions and start new with a fresh attitude and a healthy, Godly perspective.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 12:2a, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (NIV)

    Ephesians 4:23-24, "Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." (NLT)

    © 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

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