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  • The Most Beautiful Love Song You’ll Ever Hear

    Tracie Miles FEBRUARY 3, 2016

    The Most Beautiful Love Song You’ll Ever Hear TRACIE MILES

    "For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

    I remember those days as if they were yesterday. When each of my three children were babies, I treasured the time I spent rocking them to sleep, singing soft lullabies and trying to lull them into baby dreamland.

    I vividly recall how I felt when I sang over them, breathing in their sweet baby aroma, caressing their soft skin and hair, swaddling them close and longing to keep them safe forever and ever. As they looked up into my eyes with sleepy looks, so often tears of joy would trickle from my eyes, and I felt compelled to keep singing and soothing them with the melody.

    My mama heart felt overwhelmed. How could I be filled with such joy and love for someone so tiny and new? How could I delight that much over someone who couldn’t do anything for themselves, much less for me?

    As I read today’s key verse, it brought back all these sweet memories, and helped give new meaning to how much God loves His children. In Zephaniah, God is singing because He rejoices over His children, delights in them and feels joy over them.

    Zephaniah references a future time when God will have ended His judgment on His children Israel, and they will enjoy a time of blessing and safety from their enemies.

    The words of this verse remind us God is with us always, and He is mighty to save. He delights in us and loves us each so much that He sings melodies of love and rejoices over us. This delight is simply because we are His. And just as a mama’s voice calms and soothes a child with song, God quiets us with His love and soothes our hearts with His voice.

    I love to picture our heavenly Father singing and rejoicing over His children like that. Singing and rejoicing over me, and you.

    Sometimes it’s hard to understand how God could love us, especially when we consider all the mistakes and times of disappointment we’ve struggled through. Or, when we feel like we don’t measure up because we don’t do enough for His kingdom and His glory.

    Or when we feel unloved or rejected by others and wonder if God might have abandoned or rejected us as well. What comfort it brings to think about God loving us the same way a mother loves her babies.

    As moms, we sing over our babies because we love them, not because they deserve it or can do anything for us in return. They bring delight to our hearts, because they are ours. And the same goes for our heavenly Father when it comes to His own.

    God’s quiet love and gentle whispers of acceptance and delight are the greatest love song our spiritual ears will ever hear.

    Father God, fill me with an overwhelming joy at the thought of how much You love me. When I am feeling unloved or unwanted, fill my spiritual ears with Your beautiful love song and soothe my heart with Your comforting words. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 104:33, "I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!" (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’ve ever struggled with understanding how God could love you with such an immense love, your heart will be changed by Tracie Miles’ book, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past To Create A Beautiful Future.

    Visit Tracie’s blog to enter to win a special Valentine’s Day giveaway to enjoy and share with someone you love.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Sometimes February, the month we typically focus on love, can often feel lonely and disappointing. How might focusing on how much God loves and adores you, and sings and delights over you, help change your attitude?

    What are some ways you can reach out to someone who might need to be reminded they are loved this month?

    © 2016 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Time to Start a New D.I.E.T.

    Tracie Miles DECEMBER 28, 2015

    Time to Start a New D.I.E.T. TRACIE MILES

    "Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT)

    The holiday hustle and bustle may be behind us, but perhaps you’re like me and find you have a few regrets over the neglect of your health. It’s so simple in the rush of the season to find a few bad habits sneaking in … times where we take the easy route over the best route.

    For example, on a busy day, it’s quicker to zip through a drive-through than grill some chicken and veggies at home.

    Not only can we take the easy way with our health, we can easily slip into bad spiritual habits as well. When we’re exhausted, it’s easier to slump onto the couch and seek comfort in milk and cookies, rather than open God’s Word for encouragement.

    It’s so enticing to sleep late on Saturday mornings, rather than get up and spend quiet time with God.

    Let’s face it, easier and quicker isn’t always better — either physically or spiritually. The best choices often take extra time and effort, but they are crucial for our health and a strong faith.

    Our key verse reminds us we have a responsibility to care for ourselves spiritually because of Who resides inside: "Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).

    This year, as we think about New Year’s Resolutions, what if we focused on the inside? What better time to begin committing to a healthy spiritual diet that feeds our spirits, lightens our hearts, nourishes our souls and fuels our walk with Christ than right now?

    Below is some "food for thought" for how to kick off a strong spiritual D.I.E.T. and become a spiritually healthier you in the coming year.

    D — DISCIPLINE: 1 Chronicles 16:11 says, "Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him" (NLT). The Bible gives us guidelines for living through His Word that help us grow spiritually healthy and mature in our faith. A daily dose of disciplined faith, which includes setting aside time every day to seek God through His Word and prayer, goes a long way to helping us achieve spiritual health.

    I — INTENTIONAL: A strong faith doesn’t happen on its own but needs to be intentionally pursued. I have to make a deliberate effort to put God first in my life. Acts 2:42 says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (NIV). What a beautiful example we have of the intentionality of the first followers of Jesus — they gathered together daily to study, pray and share the Lord’s supper.

    E — EARNEST: Being earnest in our faith takes effort to the next level. Have you ever read a passage of the Bible or listened to a sermon, and forgotten the topic 10 minutes later? Me too. I listened, but apparently my mind and heart weren’t fully engaged. Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (NIV). When we sit down to spend time with God in any form, He longs for our full, zealous attention and the reward for our intentional and earnest faith is the development of a deep spiritual hunger.

    T — TRUSTING: My weakest times are when I doubt God’s plans or purpose for the hard times. Psalm 9:10 says, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you" (NLT). When I start to feel weak, I need to uncover any doubt that has settled in my heart and choose to trust God. Trusting God, in the good and bad times, is an essential part of a healthy spiritual diet.

    Is 2016 your year to start a new D.I.E.T. plan with Jesus? Why not start today? After all, it is a Monday, when all new healthy diets begin.

    Sweet Jesus, I long to have a deeper relationship with You and commit to making my faith a priority. Give me the desire and strength to follow a healthy spiritual diet this year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 7:1, "Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Discover a great tool for kicking off a healthy spiritual diet by using our First 5 app and joining us for a study of Exodus. The study begins January 4, but you can order your Book of Exodus Experience Guide today by clicking here.

    Visit Tracie Miles’ blog for a few of her favorite healthy recipes, sprinkled with spiritual encouragement.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If I’ve let my physical and spiritual health decline, what three things can I do to be healthier in 2016, inside and out?

    Who can I ask to join me as an accountability partner in my quest to be more spiritually healthy?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Being Thank-full Goes Beyond Counting Your Blessings

    Tracie Miles NOVEMBER 25, 2015

    Being Thank-full Goes Beyond Counting Your Blessings TRACIE MILES

    "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan." Luke 17:15-16 (NIV)

    So, ’tis the season to be thankful. Everywhere you look, people are talking about being thankful, focusing on expressing thankfulness and even posting the reasons they’re thankful on social media every day.

    But you know what? Being "thankful" does not automatically mean we are being thank-full. Being thankful for the good things is really just being glad we are benefiting from those good things and appreciating God’s blessings upon us. But being truly thank-full requires looking beyond our blessings, to the One who blesses. It’s about being full of gratitude for Christ, not just being full of thanks for what He has given us or done.

    If someone were to ask me today to spontaneously list the things I am thankful for, my list would probably be very similar to yours — food, a home, clothes, family, jobs, transportation, friends, health, etc. Each of these things are huge blessings, and tremendous reasons to be thankful, all of which I am very grateful for.

    But I began to wonder: Is appreciating those blessings which I can physically touch or see really creating a solid attitude of thank-full-ness? Do I still feel thank-full when life is hard?

    What about when we feel we don’t have anything to be thankful for from this past year? What about those of us who are out of work, lost homes, had children stray from the Lord, had marriages split up or received a challenging health diagnoses? What about those grieving the loss of someone they loved or struggling with infertility?

    Maybe you can relate to one or more of those situations or are experiencing a different hardship in life, and if so, maybe the thought crossed your mind that possibly this is just not the year to feel thankful. But Thanksgiving isn’t just about counting our blessings.

    Thanksgiving Day originally started with the Pilgrims, a group of believers who in the midst of extreme hardship, loss of loved ones and minimal food and supplies, still believed they were extremely blessed. They chose to celebrate and thank God for His blessings even though life was difficult and their blessings were few.

    As I thought about this topic and the Pilgrims' unwavering thankfulness, I recalled the story found in Luke. In Luke 17:11-19, we read a story about a man whose heart was focused on Jesus, not just focused on his blessings. It’s the story of when Jesus had compassion, mercy and grace for ten lepers on the roadside, and healed each one of them … but only one returned to say thank you. Only one healed leper recognized that not only was his body healed, but also his soul. Only one man was so overwhelmed and full of thankfulness, that he took the time to say thanks.

    The leper surely still had lots of problems in his life to face, but due to being thank-full, he heard Jesus give him the greatest blessing of all, when He said in Luke 17:19, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

    As I read this story, I had to ask myself some hard questions: Am I thankful for what I do have and what Jesus has done in my life, or feeling unthankful or negative about what I don’t have and what I feel Jesus hasn’t done for me yet? I couldn’t help but wonder if my faith was helping me have an attitude of true gratitude in my heart, like the Pilgrims and the healed leper, even though everything in life wasn’t as I wanted it.

    There will always be things we may not feel thankful for, but we can still be thank-full by putting a different focus on what thankfulness really is. Let’s open the door for our hearts to be transformed as we focus not on just thanking God for our blessings, but thanking Him for being the One who blesses.

    Lord, forgive me for focusing more on the negatives in my life than the positives. Thank You for Your blessing of love, grace, mercy and eternal life. Fill my heart with Your spirit this Thanksgiving so I can be thank-full. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 107:1, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Visit Tracie Miles’ blog today for more encouragement and to enter to win one of two beautiful Gratitude Journals!

    Check out Tracie’s books, Stressed-Less Living and Your Life Still Counts, to help you begin focusing on God’s goodness and grace in your life in the coming year.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have you been focusing more on the negatives of life, instead of the positives?

    If you become more thank-full and take your gratitude for Christ beyond just counting your blessings, how might that new perspective change your heart, mind and life?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Why We Should Stand Our Ground

    Tracie Miles OCTOBER 26, 2015

    Why We Should Stand Our Ground TRACIE MILES

    "But Shammah stood his ground in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. And the LORD brought about a great victory." 2 Samuel 23:12 (ISV)

    Fall is one of my favorite times of the year — but not for familiar reasons, like cooler weather and colorful trees. I love fall because it’s football season!

    My family loves football, and we attend games practically every weekend. Home games are my favorite.

    Having the home field advantage makes a huge difference to players. Being in familiar territory with devoted fans cheering them on helps players feel empowered and motivated to win.

    When you’re the away team, it’s a whole different game.

    Players don’t feel as appreciated or supported. They aren’t used to the environment, and the taunts and jeers from opposing fans can be so loud they become a distraction. As a result, away team members have to stand their ground and play harder to fight for victory.

    With football season upon us, I recently found myself pondering how much football and faith have in common. You see, after watching the news, I began feeling discouraged. A world filled with broken people making so many choices that break God’s heart and can detrimentally affect generations to come.

    So with a heavy heart, I turned to God’s Word and discovered the story of David’s mighty warriors in 2 Samuel 23:8-17.

    Here we see three men who stood firm in their faith, trusted God and claimed victory despite insurmountable odds.

    Josheb-Basshebeth killed 800 enemies with a single spear, because the Lord gave him victory.

    Eleazar, with only David by his side, fought the battle against the Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him victory.

    Then in today’s key verse, Shammah singlehandedly stood his ground against a large troop of Philistines to prevent them from plundering an entire crop of lentils, and the Lord gave him victory.

    Each man stood firm in the strength and name of the Lord.

    These men didn’t start out as mighty warriors. They were just normal people with flaws and insecurities. Yet they trusted the Lord and were willing to fight for righteousness. As a result, they found victory despite the odds or the size and power of their enemies.

    The truth is, even Jesus never had the home field advantage. He was a member of the "away team" in the public’s eye. Always considered the outcast. Always opposing laws and government that went against what was right in His Father’s eyes.

    He was scoffed at for not accepting sin and immorality as acceptable, and He was possibly considered intolerant. He was seen as a threat to the ever-changing social norms and persecuted for standing His ground and preaching righteousness.

    Opponents whose voices seemed louder and more powerful than Jesus’ (from an earthly perspective) were perpetually trying to silence Him. But He never accepted defeat and instead stood firm.

    When the game got harder, Jesus stepped up His game. He stood His ground in the face of persecution. He persevered. He boldly stood up for the Truth without hesitation, all the while maintaining godly character, thoughts and behaviors. He portrayed peace, grace and love to His followers — and even His opponents — in all that He did.

    Believers today play the game of life in a territory often opposed to the Word of God. A territory becoming more volatile, dangerous and sinful by the day, making it clear that God’s team of earthly believers is officially the away team.

    But just like David’s mighty warriors, we are called to stand up for God’s truth, and stand firm in our faith, even when the odds are against us or it appears we are falling too far behind in the game to gain the upper hand.

    Followers of Jesus may feel like the underdog, but we can choose to embrace a mindset of victory and let Jesus be our motivation to keep standing strong in God’s Word.

    Let’s allow His voice to be louder in our hearts than any opponent. Let’s trust the Lord will bring victory, and let’s never give in to defeat.

    Lord, empower me with courage and enthusiasm to stand firm for Your truths and be confident in my faith, remembering You are still in control. Show me how to stand my ground for You and make a difference in this broken world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 6:13, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Need a resource to help you step out of your comfort zone and live out loud for Jesus? Consider purchasing Tracie Miles’ book, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future.

    Visit Tracie’s blog for more encouragement on standing up for Christ in today’s world, and learn about her new inspirational series called Media Mondays.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Have do you let the frustrations of this broken world cause you to lose hope and feel defeated?

    How can you stand firm in God’s truths today and get excited about living your life for Him?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Your Life Can Display God’s Power

    Tracie Miles SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

    Your Life Can Display God’s Power TRACIE MILES

    "‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.’" John 9:3 (NLT)

    Have you ever wondered why God allows you to suffer? Was it something you did wrong? Or was someone else at fault? We want to find someone to blame, especially when so much bad happens in our world.

    I struggle with these thoughts as well, but years ago God’s Word helped me see a different perspective. Jesus’ disciples had these same questions, and John chapter 9 records Jesus’ interesting response.

    Jesus and His disciples were walking through the streets of a city when they encountered a blind man. One of the disciples asked Jesus why the man was blind: "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’" (John 9:1-2, NLT)

    Jesus lovingly put their confusion to rest with today’s key verse, "‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him’" (John 9:3).

    I imagine the disciples standing there, looking perplexed by Jesus’ answer. How could this man’s blindness display the power of God? How could this physical infirmity bring glory to God? How could his life serve a higher purpose?

    The passage continues, "Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, ‘Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam’ (Siloam means ‘sent’). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!" (John 9:6-7, NLT)

    The blind man’s sight was completely healed, but notice that his healing wasn’t immediate. He wasn’t healed when Jesus spat on the mud and smeared it on his eyes, but only after he obeyed what Jesus instructed him to do.

    The blind man was healed when he chose to obey the command of Jesus to "go." Without questioning or hesitating, the man went and his obedience resulted in not only healing, but discovering a holy purpose from his pain.

    Like many, this man had been suffering with undeserved physical and emotional challenges for decades. He may have lived his entire life feeling inferior, unloved, rejected, excluded and possibly believing he had no purpose. He may have also assumed his past and his current limitations rendered him useless. After all, he didn’t have any special skills or qualifications … or even eyesight.

    But here stood Jesus, telling everyone this man’s life could serve as proof of the power of God. But it only happened because of obedience.

    Unlike the blind man in this story, we often talk ourselves out of obedience, rather than trusting and obeying God’s command to "go." But when we walk in faith, even when we don’t feel ready and have to push through our doubts, fears and hesitations, true healing and purpose can begin to take shape in our hearts and lives.

    We don’t always get answers to why something happened. But regardless of our circumstances or our limitations, when we choose to take a leap of faith, we too can experience true spiritual healing and see a new perspective about our past for the very first time.

    What a wonderful world this would be if we all caught a glimpse of how God wants to turn our pain into purpose and use our lives as proof of His power.

    Lord, I want my life to serve as proof of Your goodness. Fill me with courage and motivation to go and share with others what You have done for me. Show me how You can turn my pain into purpose and make my life count for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (NLT)

    Psalm 119:60, "I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Do you long to discover how God can use your past to glorify Him and bring joy and purpose to your life? Purchase Tracie Miles’ book, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Our Past To Create A Beautiful Future.

    Looking for a life-changing Bible study for your church or small group? Longing to inspire women to step out of their comfort zones and serve God in new ways? Consider offering Your Life Still Counts as your next fall series! Visit Tracie’s blog to find out how to get a free Bible study guide for all participants, with video teachings, when you purchase eight or more copies of the book.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How might God be able to use your past for a specific purpose to glorify Him?

    What fears do you need to overcome in order to step out of your comfort zone and allow God to use your life as proof of His power?

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • How to Trust God With Your Children

    Tracie Miles AUGUST 10, 2015

    How to Trust God With Your Children TRACIE MILES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Never Say Amen

    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

    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

    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

    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

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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