You Want Me to Search My Sole?
Lysa TerKeurst

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

Sometimes when I make reference to the fact that God speaks to me, there are some people that don't quite know what to make of that statement. But, it is true. God's voice is a gentle rush through my soul or a thought that pops into my head in a way that I know it's not my own. Throughout the Bible, God spoke to His people. And I'm convinced He still does. This is the most exciting part of my adventures with God...hearing from Him, experiencing Him... everyday!

Recently I had the wonderful privilege to speak at a conference with Renee Swope. Renee and I went thinking we were going to be giving out to the ladies at the conference, but God wound up giving to us in special ways as well. During Renee’s talk, she spoke about Isaiah 61 as her life verse given to her by God over ten years ago. She referred to verse 3 several times that promises God will make His people into oaks of righteousness, a display of His splendor. She said God's promise to her despite all the yuck of her past was that one day He would use her to "display" His splendor.

Toward the end of her talk, God spoke something that seemed quite strange to me. I felt God tell me to take the sticker off the sole of my shoe. I flipped my shoe over thinking it must be a price sticker. Instead, what I found took my breath away! Tucked safely into the arch of the bottom of my shoe, was an orange sticker that read DISPLAY! Instantly, the Lord spoke to my heart again and instructed me to give the sticker to Renee when she finished speaking and tell her that her life verse had been fulfilled. Today, she had truly become a DISPLAY of His splendor. She was to place the sticker in her Bible beside the Isaiah 61 verses as a reminder of God's fulfilled promise in her life. The sticker even matched Renee's orange jacket she was wearing!

Some may be skeptical that God would speak to ordinary women. Some may think it silly that God would use a sticker on the bottom of a shoe to reveal Himself. But Renee and I are absolutely convinced... from the bottom of our soles and souls!

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving us in the exact personal ways we need. Lord, help us to hear when you speak to us. I pray each day I let my heart get quiet just long enough to sit and listen to your encouragement and instructions. Then give me courage Lord to obey you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources

Lysa TerKeurst’s Blog

Do You Know Him?

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Renee Swope’s Blog

Application Steps
If you don’t have a life verse, why not ask God to lead you to just the right one today? Some of you may be like me and have different life verses for different seasons you've walked through with God. So, identify the most meaningful verse at this point in your life. Right now, mine is Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God!"

Have you heard God telling you to do something lately and you’ve been resistant to obey?

Write down what you feel Him telling you, and then find three Scripture verses that relate to what He’s asking of you.

Pray these Scriptures over this situation and get a friend to pray for your courage as well.

Power Verses
Isaiah 61:3, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” (NIV)

Psalm 50:1, “The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.” (NIV)

Psalm 81:5, “I hear this most gentle whisper from One I never guessed would speak to me:” (MSG)

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Little Girl Lost
Marybeth Whalen

“’Come back, wandering children! I can heal your wanderlust!’ ‘We’re here! We’ve come back to you. You’re our own true God!’” Jeremiah 3:22 (MSG)

This morning I was walking out of the library with my toddler trailing behind me. As I walked through the sliding glass door to the parking lot, I turned to look behind me and my daughter was gone. She had seemingly vanished into thin air. I began to call her name, my eyes darting around from the inside of the library to the parking lot ahead, then back to the corners of the lobby I was standing in. If you have ever lost a child, you know the panicky feeling that instantly wells up in your heart. I rushed back inside the library and asked the librarians if they had seen her come back in. They said no, but one went to look in the children’s section. My heart was racing and my blood pounding as I ran back out to the lobby, calling her name over and over, louder and louder.

“Lord,” I prayed, “please help me find my precious daughter. Please don’t let anything happen to her.” I thought of random scenarios of what could have happened. Every news report I have ever seen, every newspaper article featuring missing children flashed before my eyes. The librarian came out to where I was standing and asked me if I had checked the stairs. I eyed the set of stairs set off to the side of the lobby, reasoning that she wouldn’t go there. It couldn’t hurt to check, I decided. I walked up the stairs and rounded the corner to see that precious little face looking back at me. She was sitting on the stairs the whole time, listening to me call her name in a panic.

I swooped her into my arms and hugged her tightly. “Why didn’t you answer me?” I asked. She looked back at me with her big blue eyes, studying my face like I had lost my mind. To her, she was never lost, just enjoying a new hiding place.

As I have thought of that moment when I knew she was gone, I have pictured her listening to me call to her, but not answering my cries. She had made a wrong turn and was out of my sight. I know all the dangers in the world. I know how careful I must be with my precious child. But she didn’t see the harm in trying out something new, investigating something different.

How many times have I been like my little girl? How many times have I ignored my Father’s voice, choosing my own way instead of answering His call? How many times have I been lost and didn’t even know it? How many times has He sought me out, even when I was unaware of the dangers that were lurking?

We all lose our way. The important part is not that we fall short, but how we respond when we do. Do we cry, “I’m here Daddy! Rescue me!” Or do we try to answer our own questions and solve our own problems? Do we need to rely on God more and ourselves less? Do we need to allow Him to pull us from our hiding place and hear His voice say, “I’ve been looking for you, my precious daughter.” Today I saw myself in my child—in desperate need of being found, of being searched for, of being drawn out of my hiding places, of being protected from the things I foolishly think are safe. Today I saw my Father, so willing to do all those things—to go to the ends of the earth if that is what it takes, to send His own Son to die in my place, to swoop me up into His arms and say, “I am so glad I found you.” It’s good to be found—even when you didn’t know you were lost.

Dear Lord, thank You for searching for me and not giving up when I have been lost but didn’t even realize it. Thank You for calling my name and loving me enough to draw me out of my hiding places. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do you know Him?

Becoming a Woman of Influence CD by Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth’s blog

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps
What are your hiding places? Write them down as God brings them to mind. Ask Him to help you stop hiding.

Is there someone in your life who needs you to pray today’s scripture as a promise for their life? Do you need to pray today’s scripture, responding with, “I’m here! I’ve come back. You are my true God”? If so, don’t delay in praying that prayer aloud today.

Power Verses
Job 28:10-11, “He tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures. He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.” (NIV)

Psalm 143:9, “Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.” (NIV)

Psalm 32:7, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (NIV)

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Is My Jesus Enough?
Lysa TerKeurst

I was stopped in my tracks the other day as I was mindlessly singing a beautiful praise song. I say mindlessly not because I wasn't focusing on God. I was definitely lifting up my heart to Him. But the mindlessly part came when I realized I had no clue of the weight of the words in this song. Did I really mean what I was singing? The song said this: "(Jesus) You're all I want. You're all I ever needed."

Really? Did I really mean those words? Is my Jesus enough? Ultimately the question should be: Is my relationship with Jesus in such a place that if He was truly all I had today, would I still stand and sing those powerful song lyrics?

My husband Art is flying on a small private plane today. You know the ones you hear about that crash with no survivors... yes, that kind of plane. As I kiss him goodbye in a few minutes can I send him off with full confidence that no matter what, Jesus is enough?

My son Jackson just got his driver's license and will be driving to a friend's house to watch the football game in a few minutes. His friend lives less than five miles from our house. But don't the statistics show that most car accidents happen on the roads we are most familiar with, closest to our homes? Will I be able to smile, tell him to be careful and let him drive down our driveway with full confidence that no matter what, Jesus is enough?

I don't know what kinds of twists and turns might come during my life journey. But, I know the only way to travel with a joyful peace is to settle in my heart the answer to this question once and for all. So, today, I declare Jesus is enough. Before I even know in what way this declaration will be tested, I've made the decision to say it, believe it and settle it.

Jesus is enough.

I think this is why one of my favorite portraits of a godly woman in the Bible says, "she can laugh at the days to come," (Proverbs 31:25). She was filled with such incredible joy not because life was perfect but simply because she had decided to make laughter, peace, and true happiness the hallmark of her life. Proverbs 31:30 goes on to say this was a woman to be praised because she so reverenced God in the shrine of her heart that she knew without a doubt, He was enough.

Dear Lord, Thank You that in this world we don’t have to live consumed with fear of the unknown. For You know all things. Nothing will happen to us that does not first pass through your hands. May I find peace in Your love that is so consuming for us that You only have our best interests in mind. Help us to believe and trust that truth no matter what. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources

Do you know Him?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa’s blog

Application Steps
The next time you start to fret over the what if questions, verbalize that Jesus is enough no matter what. Write down the power verses below and keep them in your purse until you’ve memorized them. Being able to have access to God’s truth will guard your heart and your mind.

Have you ever thought about whether or not Jesus is enough in your life?

What are some ways to put this devotional thought into practice in your life today?

How would your relationships improve if you had this kind of peace?

Power Verses
Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (NIV)

Isaiah 54:10, “'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (NIV)

2 Timothy 1:12, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (NIV)

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The White Elephant
Susanne Scheppmann

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.” 1 John 3:18-19 (NIV)

‘Tis the season for parties. The invitation reads, “Bring a white elephant gift.” A white elephant gift doesn’t require much thought or money. It can be an inexpensive trinket, a used household item or a gag gift. These white elephant get-togethers create laughter and light-hearted camaraderie.

However, there exists another kind of “white elephant” social gathering—the type where everyone knows there is a relational conflict that exists within the group, but no one acknowledges it. This pachyderm problem might occur within families, between co-workers, or in a neighborhood. The more everyone pretends the white elephant issue isn’t there, the bigger the unseen problem grows. The denial is like feeding peanuts to a live elephant—it grows larger and larger.

Do you anticipate this type of white elephant intruding on one of your upcoming festivities? Do you dread being in the same room with a particular person? To my own distress, I usually attend at least one event where the unwanted guest arrives, blowing its silent trumpet and begging for peanuts. However, God does not intend for us to ignore the problem. He wants us to seek His wisdom and guidance. The Lord wants us to pray and consider carefully how we might apply the following scriptural principles to help prevent or dissolve the uninvited intruder of tension from our personal relationships:

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18, NIV)

Pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (Romans 14:19, NASB)

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18, NIV)

Let’s decide beforehand how God would have us handle any uncomfortable situation that might steal away the joy and peace of a Christmas festivity. If the white elephant isn’t gift-wrapped, it doesn’t belong at the party. So don’t pack any invisible peanuts in your holiday attire, but love as Jesus loves—with action and truth.

Dear Lord, I anticipate at least one party where a “white elephant” sits in the room. I ask that You teach me how to handle any situation like this with love, truth and action. Reveal to me if I contribute to the issue in any way. Lord, help me to reach out to everyone in Your love and compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources

Do you know Him?

Perplexing Proverbs by Susanne Scheppmann

The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your
Relationships by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Application Steps
Consider your upcoming holiday events. Identify any potential “white elephants” that might be present. Pray over the event and ask the Holy Spirit to direct your words and actions. Ask God to evaporate the “elephant” and to resolve the relational conflict that might be residing in your heart.

Does the same “white elephant” return every year?

How do I play a part in feeding it and allowing it to grow larger?

Is it possible that I could be the cause of the white elephant?

Power Verses
Psalm 40:10, “I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.” (NIV)

3 John 1:3-4, “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (NIV)

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Wendy Pope

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

OK, I confess, I don't like the title of today's devotion but in all honesty it was the best word to use. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines “duh” as a word as used to express actual or feigned ignorance or stupidity. Wikipedia defines “duh” as an American English slang exclamation that is used to express disdain for someone missing the obviousness of something. Someone missing the obviousness of something: I was that someone and the something was a Road Closed sign. Let me recreate the scene for you.

It was another hot day in July. We left the swimming pool. We were wet, smelling of sun screen and sweat, and riddled with hunger. To add insult to our misery we were stuck in traffic. I knew there was short cut if only I could get up to the light. YES, a break in traffic. As I make my way to the turn lane I noticed a huge orange road construction sign. The words clearly marked: ROAD CLOSED: NO THRU TRAFFIC. I paused monetarily but for some reason thought, "I can get through." Can you guess what happened next? The road was closed. I did not get through. I had to turn around. Duh!

As I began going back the way I came it was if I heard the Lord say, "Duh?" Notice I said "it was as if." I am sure the God of the Universe would use a bigger and more profound statement than “duh” when one of His children deliberately doesn't follow directions, then again maybe not. I answered back with a "Yea, I heard you loud and clear."

God's directives in our lives are not always clear. His paths for us are not always easy and at times very difficult to determine. But there are times when He gives us clear instructions but we choose to follow our own understanding, like me and the road closed sign. I knew what the sign said and I knew what the sign meant. However, my own understanding of the situation said that I could be the exception to the sign. I could have my way.

Today's key scripture tells us the key to avoiding “duh moments” is to trust the Lord with all our heart. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But it isn't. We want action. We want now. We want progress so we start to lean on our understanding to make things happen. By doing this we get to the end of road only to find that it is closed.

How do we trust the Lord with all our heart? Pray to Him. Ask Him to help you learn to trust Him. Ask Him everyday until you feel your faith grow. You will know your faith is growing when you look at a "road closed" sign and obediently turn in the other direction.

Dear Lord, Forgive me for trying to go on roads that you have closed for my benefit. I want to trust You with all of my heart. Will you help me to do that? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman's Guide to Peace in Every Situation by Grace Fox

Visit Wendy’s Blog

Do you know Him?

Application Steps
Start today asking God to help you trust Him. On a calendar mark the today's date as the beginning of your trust-walk. Check each day off after you have prayed. Record all evidences of your growing faith. Print the power verses and read them aloud when you feel doubt and fear creeping in.

What is holding me back from trusting God with all my heart?

Do I really believe God will make my paths straight? Why or why not?

Power Verses
Psalm 5:8, "O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; Make Your way straight before me."(NIV)

Psalm 23:2, "He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters."(NIV)

Psalm 25:5, "Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day."(NIV)

Psalm 31:3, "For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me."(NIV)

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Getting Stronger Can Be Painful
Glynnis Whitwer

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

A month into my newly-begun exercise program I wanted to quit. It’s probably because I’m the least athletic person I know. I’ve also been told I run worse than a girl and I’m pretty sure I flunked the President’s Physical Fitness test in grade school.

However, since I know in my head that exercise is the only path to getting stronger, I ignored my body’s protests and pressed on. But each week I discovered a new pain somewhere in my body … my shins, knees and arms all groaned with the discomfort of being awoken from their sedentary state.

During one grueling exercise class, the instructor had us do a lower back exercise. At the first twinge of pain, I stopped. I knew that some pain could be dangerous and didn’t want to continue something that could be damaging to my back. Watching me stop, the instructor stooped down to my level with a questioning look on his face. “It hurts,” I explained.

“I know,” he answered. “This exercise is going to strengthen your back. Stop when you need to rest, but try it again. And each time, hold it just a little bit longer.”

My first instinct was to stop at the painful feeling. I know pain is one of God’s warning signals to protect us, and my self-protection instinct was fully engaged. However, in order to get stronger, I had to experience the pain.

Pain seems to be a common side effect any time we try to strengthen an area of our lives. Whether it’s trying again after a discouragement, loving after heartache, or forcing ourselves to organize our kitchen when we’d rather be watching a movie, life can be painful.

I’m sorry to admit that my instinct to avoid pain or discomfort has often kept me from achieving goals in my life. Part of this is because it’s difficult to differentiate the pain that we should avoid, like getting burned from touching a stove, and the kind of pain that makes us stronger. Pain just seems like pain – something to run from.

But some pain is actually good for us. One thing that has helped me determine when pain is helpful, is to look at the end result. Hebrews 12:11 tells of the promise of the pain of discipline: “a harvest of righteousness and peace.”

This “Big Picture” approach has helped me push through many painful experiences in my life. As a follower of Jesus, my life doesn’t hold the promise of ease. In fact, it can contain quite the opposite. Much of what God asks me to do pushes me past my comfort zone. And yet His promise of “a harvest of righteousness” is worth any discomfort.

So I guess I’ll keep exercising, and look at my pain as a path to strength. As I do so, I’ll thank God for the promise of a healthy end-result – in all areas of my life.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for loving me enough to provide discipline in my life. Help me to see which pain means to stop, and which pain is necessary for my health. I want to be stronger in all areas of my life so that I can serve You more fully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Note from the author: Pain is God’s warning signal. If you experience any persistent physical pain, please seek professional help.

Related Resources:
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

For help strengthening your finances, visit Christian financial advisor Dave Ramsey's website. Through Monday, November 26, you can receive discounted prices on many of his best selling resources.

P31 Woman Magazine

work@home: a Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work From Home by Glynnis Whitwer

Application Steps:

Identify one area of your life that needs to be strengthened. What is one painful (yet healthy) thing you can do this week to strengthen that area?


What discipline did you resent at one time, but appreciate now?

Read James 1:2-4. (see below) What should be our attitude when facing difficult challenges?

What can help you persevere through some painful experiences in your life?

Power Verses:

Hebrews 12:10, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. (NIV)

James 1:2-4,Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)

Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (NIV)

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How to be Happy
Rachel Olsen

“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

“Happy Thanksgiving!” people wish me repeatedly this week. Seems like everyone wishes for happiness. Everybody wants some. Many people pretend to have it …yet few seem to truly possess it. Why is happiness so hard to find?

Pssst … lean in closer… I will show you a path that leads to it … the fourth chapter of Philippians. Look up and read verses six through thirteen, or read them below in the Power Verses section.

Notice in verse six, Paul gives three clear instructions for finding lasting happiness and contentment. He says:

1) do not worry about anything

2) pray about everything

3) thank God for everything

What if today we took this instruction to heart and put it into practice? What if today we decided not to worry about anything? What if when we found ourselves worrying, we stopped and handed the situation over to God in prayer? What if we then thanked Him for taking care of the issue? In fact, what if we spent most of our mental free time today thinking about what good care our awesome God takes of us? What would happen then?

Paul says in verse seven, if we begin to live this way we will experience amazing peace – a kind of peace we can’t even imagine. Peace that makes no earthly sense! This kind of peace is so powerful that it has a protective function on our hearts and minds – which only makes it easier for us to stop worrying and be thankful. That sounds like a state of happiness to me!

In verse eight Paul elaborates on what to think about instead of our worries – whatever is good, true, honorable, pure, lovely, praise worthy, and right. Many things can fall into these categories, but Christ encompasses them all! This is not just “positive thinking,” this is “spiritual thinking.”

Further down in Philippians 4:10-13, Paul goes on to attest personally to the truth of this 3-step process as he writes from a Roman prison. From behind bars Paul says, “I’ve learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little … I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little" (Phil. 4:11-12). Did you catch that verb? Paul LEARNED how to be happy and content. It didn’t just happen once he reached his goals. In fact, he claims his ability to be happy had nothing at all to do with his circumstances, but rather his increased trust in Christ.

So happy contentedness is not something that comes once our waistlines have slimmed, our wrinkles are erased, our houses are organized, our children are successful, our bosses have thanked us, or our husbands dote on us. Instead it is learned as we become prayerful (verse 6) and thankful (verse 6), as we practice spiritual thinking (verse 8), and as we trust totally in Christ (verse 13) despite our circumstances.

I can’t think of a better day to start practicing Paul’s process of prayer, thankfulness, and “spiritual thinking” than today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Lord, I’m turning over all my fears and problems to You to handle today. I can’t fix a single thing by worrying about it - but you can fix anything because nothing is impossible for You! Thank You for my blessings, big and small. Thank You for Your loving care for me. Thank You for being in charge of my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Rachel’s blog

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:

Open your Bible and highlight Philippians 4:6-7. Memorize those two verses.


Does thankfulness characterize me?

Do I think about what is good, lovely, pure and right, or do I think about what is depressing, frustrating, unfair and wrong?

Power Verses:

Philippians 4:6-9, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (NLT)

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Rolls versus Roles
Susanne Scheppmann

“You have many workmen: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as men skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron - craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Chronicles 22:15-16 (NIV)

Consider these why questions of the holidays:

Why do women usually mail invitations or the RSVPs to parties?

Why do dads usually put together the multi-million piece toys?

Why do men usually string the lights on the Christmas tree or house?

Why do women usually determine the dinner menus?

We perform most such why’s because they need to be handled by the most competent person. Some why’s are done because they are roles we want to assume, because the tasks come naturally to us. Other ones we perform because of expectations from others. Or perhaps, we just do them out of habit. Or worse, we do them to impress others with our ability to do everything!

I find this need to impress others especially prevalent in myself during the holidays. I want to be considered by family and friends to be the superhero holiday hostess. The Thanksgiving table needs turkey and ham. Buttered rolls, green bean casserole, potatoes, and homemade gravy are arrayed on a linen tablecloth. Then pecan, pumpkin, and apple pies with a dollop of homemade whip cream must follow. That’s only Thanksgiving, but it will give you a preview of my “Christmas superwoman complex.”

However, last month I discovered something very interesting. My husband is a great cook. He has hidden this talent away for twenty-three years. It wasn’t his role. But, the secret is out. From scratch, he baked a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake could have won an award at the local state fair. At first, I was shocked—pleasantly. As I devoured my portion of the tasty dessert, I began to think about the upcoming Thanksgiving menu. “Maybe he could make a carrot cake instead of one of the pies. Perhaps, he could create a new vegetable casserole. He just might be able to roast the turkey. I could carve it! Well, maybe not. But I do think I will attempt to switch one or two of our family’s holiday cooking roles.”

Honestly, it might be fun to start a new tradition. We could share kitchen tasks and teach each other our “specialized skills.” I need to learn to release a few of the holiday traditions to others who are just as capable as I am at creating a delightful dinner. For beginners, we’ll have carrot cake instead of pecan pie. And, I think my husband can take over the dinner rolls, too. We will try on a couple of role/roll reversals for this year’s festivities.

However, I will send out the party RSVPs. Why? I guess because it’s always been my role and it needs to be done.

Dear Lord, reveal to me the roles that I tend to control because of my own perfectionist tendencies or other’s expectations. Teach me to release some of the control I hold in our family’s holiday traditions. Teach me to share the work, the time, and the joy. Help us as a family to work together and enjoy each other’s company. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do you know Him?

Perplexing Proverbs by Susanne Scheppmann

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Women Who do too Much by Patricia Sprinkle

Application Steps
Ask your friends and family what new “role” they would like to try during the holiday season. Allow them the privilege of sharing in the traditions. Remind yourself to assume the role of an encourager. Don’t allow yourself to nitpick about the results of someone else’s effort.

What role do I always assume in the family festivities?

Do I aspire to the role of superhero holiday hostess?

Am I willing to let others share their talents in my holiday traditions?

Power Verses
Deuteronomy 16:15, “For seven days celebrate the Feast to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 10:15, “A fool's work wearies him; he does not know the way to town.” (NIV)

Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (NIV)

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Lisa Robertson, She Speaks Graduate

“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.’” Isaiah 40:3 (NIV)

“Prepare the way of the Lord” is the title of the production that I direct every year. As the producer, I am responsible for the props, costumes, food and the performers. Even though preparations are made throughout the year, the show opens and closes in just one day - December 25th.

As the mother of five children, Christmas day is not my most successful day. Pressures, emotions and very high expectations dominate what should be a day of joy, reverence and gratitude. One of my lowest moments of mothering was on December 24th one year. Arriving at our church barely in time for my children to be dressed as angels and camels, I sat in the pew weeping. A young woman came up to me and told me that she was touched by my deep spiritual sensitivity. That couldn’t have been further from the truth! I was crying because I knew that I was the worst mother in the world. Before leaving the house with the children dressed in their matching Christmas clothes, I had a complete meltdown. I forced them into the car and chased them into the church.

Is this the way that we are supposed to celebrate the greatest gift ever given in the history of humanity?

God set the stage for the coming of His Son! He revealed His plan to many people over hundreds of years to prepare His people for their Savior. Did you know that in the Old Testament, over 400 Scriptures describe in detail the life of Jesus Christ? We should be prepared for Christmas! Decorating, shopping, gift giving are not the most important preparations we make.

Advent is the season of preparation. It begins this year on December 2. A key element of Advent is the light of Christ. In many church traditions, the weeks before Christmas incorporate the use of an Advent wreath, both in the church and in people’s homes.

The Advent wreath includes five candles. On December 2, one candle will be lit. The next week- two candles are lit and the weekly lighting continues until the last Sunday before Christmas. The progression of the lighting of the candles depicts the progression of the light of Christ as He penetrated the darkness of this world. The gradual increase of the light reminds us of the gradual increase of sunlight at dawn.

Advent has become the most important part of my family’s Christmas preparations. In these weeks, we gather daily and learn about the faithful promises of God. Over the centuries, God spoke His word and has been faithful to fulfill it. The Advent readings reflect on God’s promises to send His Son. Such as in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel’” (NIV). “Immanuel” means “God with us!” He has also promised to return to the world again as the “...KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16, NIV).

Often on the day after Christmas I wonder what went right and what went wrong. If I spend time preparing my family during the Advent season for the coming of Christ at Christmas, the chaos of Christmas preparation becomes a peaceful radiance of Christ’s presence in our lives. This is the greatest gift that I receive each Christmas.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for the gift of Jesus. Help us to prepare our families for the coming of Christ this Christmas. Let Your light shine in our hearts and homes as we prepare for Christmas day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do you know Him?

Advent: Making Christmas About Christ by Lisa Robertson

The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel

Application Steps:
Begin a new Christmas tradition! This Advent season go to your craft store and buy the supplies for an Advent wreath. Make it, and place it on your dining table. Each day learn about how God prepared His people for the coming of Christ at Christmas by reading key Christmas passages in the Bible.

In what ways can you bring the light of Christ into your home before Christmas?

How can you make your Christmas preparations less about “stuff” and busyness and more about preparing to receive the gifts from your Heavenly Father?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 9:2, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (NIV)

Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” (NIV)

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A Matter of the Heart
Micca Monda Campbell

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful...” Proverbs 15:13A (NIV)

Shelly is the most caring, considerate, and joyful person that I’ve come across in a long time. Before she ever opens her mouth to speak, her glowing, cheerful face gives evidence to a heart that is content.

As the wife of a youth pastor, Shelly is sometimes bombarded with teens that are rude, selfish, and down right mean. Yet, Shelly always maintains her poise and Christ-like character. In fact, it doesn’t matter who she is speaking with—teen or adult—if they are having a bad attitude, their perspective will soon change after a few minutes with Shelly. Her positive outlook automatically takes them to new heights. No one can be around Shelly for long before their manner is changed and they feel uplifted, encouraged, and thankful. What’s her secret? Shelly maintains the right heart attitude in every situation, and in doing so, others are drawn to Christ in her.

On the other hand, being in the presence of someone who is gloomy, impatient, unthankful, prideful, selfish or has an undue attachment to worldly objects, leaves us unsettled. Usually, this is the type of person no one wants to be around. The unpleasantness can be detected quickly in both the countenance and speech of that person – it is the outward reflection of their heart. Matthew confirms, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34, NIV). Whether the condition of the heart is good or bad, it will be seen on the face and heard through the spoken word.

So, like Shelly, how do we cultivate the right heart attitude that results in a cheerful face and pleasant speech?

We Must Cultivate a Thankful Heart
Have you ever noticed that thankful people are thoughtful people? Thankful people never forget the kindness that’s been shown to them by God or others. As a result, they become more attentive towards the needs of others. Thoughtfulness is the fruit of a thankful heart.

We Must Cultivate a Trusting Heart
People who trust God are content and it shows. They have learned to say in troubled times, “Lord, this is not what I would have chosen, but knowing that You have my best interest in mind, I will trust You.” Psalm 61:8 states, “Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.” Those who learn to trust God’s heart when theirs is breaking find contentment and peace in times of trouble.

We Must Cultivate a Humble Heart
Humble people are happy people because they rely on God for everything through prayer. A humble heart runs to God for daily strength. “Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.” (Psalm 10:17 KJV). We don’t capture the ear of God by grumbling and complaining. God is eager to listen to our cries when we humbly depend on Him through prayer. Here is an easy example for praying with a humble heart:

P—Praise Him for all things—good and bad.
R—Remember to thank God for all He has done.
A—Ask God for His provision for others.
Y—Pray for yourself.

When we approach each day with a heart that is thankful, trusting, and humble, our happy faces will testify that we are content in God alone. Soon, others will notice and be drawn to the heart of God in you.

Dear Lord, I want to be the kind of person that reflects Your heart. Help me to always be thankful and humble, trusting in You for all things so that contentment may be felt on the inside and seen on the outside, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Visit Micca’s Blog

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

Application Steps:
On a 3 x 5 card, write down ways you can cultivate a thankful heart, a humble heart, and a trusting heart. Meditate on these until each one becomes a reality in your life.


How would others describe you? Cheerful or grouchy?

Who do you know that always has a smile on their face and contentment in their heart?

How can you cultivate these heart qualities and what would be the benefit?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 15:30, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” (NIV)

Proverbs 15:15, “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.”(NIV)

Ecclesiastes 11:9, “Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” (NIV)

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Ruined for Good
Lysa TerKeurst

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

If you have kids, then I’m sure you’ve felt the frustration of having things ruined. Maybe you’ve experienced grape juice on the carpet, scratches on hardwood floors, permanent ink on your favorite shirt, or something similar. Ashley once went up the stairway with a crayon putting tick marks on our freshly painted walls with each step she took. Then she dragged the crayon all the way down the hall to her room. Yes, I said freshly painted walls. I wanted to pull my hair out by the roots!

I’d like to be a mom who handles mishaps and messes with a graceful, “That’s okay, Dear.” But I’m wired with firecrackers in my blood. So, I have to make the choice to let the Holy Spirit reign me in. This means getting into God’s Word every day and praying for Him to give me grace, patience and self-control. I have to make the choice every day to invite God’s spirit to interrupt my fleshly tendencies so that I can have gentle answers that turn away wrath.

God helps me with this through perspective changers. He shows me a different way to look at and process things that trigger my emotions. In response to my frustration with my kids ruining things, He gave me a sweet change of perspective that improved my outlook and diffused my anger.

While visiting Art’s parents, I took a liking to a writing desk in their home. I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I’d love to have it if she ever decided to get rid of it. But she was quick to tell me that she would never get rid of it because it was priceless. She unlatched the fold-down lid to reveal what made this desk so priceless. In a little boy’s handwriting the letters A-R-T were scratched onto the surface. She admitted to being angry with my husband when this happened, but now the scratches that seemed to have ruined her desk are priceless treasures to her. Her little boy’s handwriting is saved for her to cherish and remember. The desk had been ruined…for good.

Dear Lord, Thank You for perspective changes that help us to see past the here and now so that we can see Your truth which sets us free. We are freed from anger, firecracker emotions, short fuses and explosive tempers…free to reveal the YOU in us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

She's Gonna Blow! Real Help For Dealing With Mom Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill

Visit Lysa’s blog

Application Steps:
In your journal, write about a frustrating experience that you’ve recently had with a loved one and how God might want you to change your perspective.

How might our actions change when our perspectives change?

What new thing might God be doing in your life today?

How would your relationships improve if you were less angry?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (NIV)

Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (ESV)

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The Drum
Rachel Olsen

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

“Pa rum pa pum pum” goes the line 21 times in one of my favorite Christmas carols: The Little Drummer Boy. Yes, I know it’s not even December yet – or even Thanksgiving - but I’m already listening to Christmas music. I can’t help it! I’ve even been known to play Christmas CDs in the middle of July. Carols just stir in me a heady, delicious, reverent awe of God.

The lyrics to The Little Drummer Boy tell the story of a young boy who has come to see the baby Jesus, the newborn King of the Jews. As he stands staring into the meager manger he tells the infant, “Little Baby, I am a poor boy too. I have no gift to bring that’s fit for our King.” And then he offers his services to the Lord by asking, “Shall I play for you?” Mary gives the nod and the little boy begins to play the simple drum hanging round his neck – wanting to play his absolute best for Jesus.

As I listen to this Christmas carol, I so identify with that little boy who has no fancy gifts to bring Jesus. Like him, all I can do is offer myself and what I know how to do in service to Him. For the little drummer boy that was to strike rhythmic beats on his instrument and make music. For me it’s to string words together to teach and encourage – whether at home, in the classroom, or in writing. Words are my drum.

We’ve each been given a “drum” to play – as today’s verse and the power verses below assure. What is yours? Are you playing it in service to Him?

As the song ends, it describes the baby Jesus smiling in pleasure at the little drummer boy. As our lives draw to a close we’ll have the chance to stand before Jesus and find out what He thinks of how we’ve spent our time and used our “drums.” Aim with me for the response, “Well done my good and faithful servant!” (Matt 25:21).

The Little Drummer Boy by Davis, Onorati and Simeone:
Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum
So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum
When we come

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum
Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

Dear Lord, help me make a pleasing chorus of my life. Show me where I can serve You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Shaped with Purpose CD and companion Workbook by Renee Swope

Family Enrichment Tool Kit by Michelle Weber

Visit Rachel’s blog

Advent: Making Christmas About Christ by Lisa Robertson

Application Steps:

Do something this week to “play your drum” in service to Him.

What knowledge, talents, experiences or spiritual gifts can I use to serve and glorify Christ?

Power Verses:

1 Corinthians 12:7, "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (NIV)

Romans 12:4, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function…” (NIV)

Ephesians 4:16, “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (NIV)

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Uncomfortable Christianity
Susanne Scheppmann

“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV)

We huddled around a large black granite conference table. We debated the needs of our church. “What would be the best approach to disciple new believers?” We flip-flopped between an easy Bible basics class and sessions on essential Christian concepts. “But, we don’t want to scare anyone off,” someone said. “We need to make it comfortable.”

A young man who sat directly across from me said, “I find nothing in the Bible that says Christianity is supposed to be comfortable or easy.”

The group stared in amazement. The truth of this young man’s words hung heavy in the air. I experienced two feelings at once. First, I felt a wave of humbleness flood my spirit. I recognized that I sat across from a man ready to die for his faith in Christ, if necessary. Secondly, I wanted to jump up and clap in admiration for this godly young man who was half my age.

I left the meeting with a renewed hope for the future of the Christian church. God is raising up men and women who will not allow their faith to be watered down by today’s secular culture.

This man inspired my faith. His readiness to sacrifice comfort for Christ stirred my own sleepy spirit. Revelation 2:4 popped into my thoughts, “You have forsaken your first love (NIV).” It’s easy for me to slide into my comfort zone of faith and away from the daily self-sacrifice that Jesus calls me to live.

Challenged, I turn again toward the cross with hope and expectation. It will not always be easy. It may make other people uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I desire to follow Jesus as He commanded, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Do you hear Jesus calling you out of comfortable Christianity?

Lord Jesus, I admit sometimes I replace my devotion to You with comfortable Christianity. Teach me to take up my cross daily and follow You. Help me never to replace my love for You with anything else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Perplexing Proverbs by Susanne Scheppmann

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Application Steps:
Go to your local library or Christian bookstore to obtain a copy of Jesus Freaks by D.C. Talk or Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Fox. Read the stories and be challenged in your faith.

Do I live in “comfortable” Christianity?

What self-sacrifice do I hesitate to make?

Am I willing to be love Jesus radically?

Power Verses:
Luke 14:27, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Titus 2:12, “It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (NIV)

Romans 14:8, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (NIV)

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It’s All In The Character
Michelle Weber, She Speaks Conference

“Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)

“I’ll race you to the top,” my 6 year-old daughter Emily shouted to her 4 year-old little sister Amanda. Emily was already at the top and headed into her room before Amanda was barely half way up the steps. I waited for Amanda as she carefully climbed the stairs, pulling herself up with her arms to compensate for the weakness in her legs.

As I tucked Emily into bed that night I asked her to please stop turning everything into a race. “You’re asking Amanda to play a game that she just can’t win and it’s making her very sad.” With a heavy heart Emily replied, “Mommy why did God give ME all the gifts?” Searching for the right words I told her that God didn’t give her all the gifts, just different ones. I reminded her that God has given Amanda a bunch of gifts too, but hers just aren’t as easy to see right now.
The following year my little Amanda was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. The world as I had planned it with my beautiful healthy children came crashing down around me. “How could this be? We are an active family. We are going to take ski vacations, ride bikes and horses together.” Everyday I found myself crying uncontrollably and thinking about how incredibly unfair life was. It just had to change, it just had to.

The first thing I had to do was kick myself out of my personal pity party and get serious about helping Amanda. I wasn’t the victim here and I wasn’t going to sign Amanda up to be one either. In addition to talking to other doctors, I examined my role and became very intentional about focusing on the one thing that made both of my girls special and valuable in their own ways. We began celebrating the gift God gave them both which made them each unique. We turned our focus to their character - who they are, not what they can or cannot do.

Now preteens, my husband and I celebrate our daughters’ character and the choices they’ve made which have led to many different kinds of accomplishments, both simple and monumental. Simple acts of kindness never go unnoticed. Perseverance and a good attitude are always cause to celebrate someone, their character, and the choices they’re making.

The perfect resource and teacher for me is Christ. Because I am a believer, I have chosen to be guided by His virtues, which mold my life and influence my choices as well. Before I could hope to see His virtues in my children I needed to first model them myself. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control became my personal mantra and daily cheat sheet. Galatians 5:23 states “against such things there is no law.” My children are learning about Christ through me and my daily dealings in the circumstances of life. His virtues are also plainly displayed in our kitchen as a daily reminder to all of us.

We’ve had our share of accomplishments and struggles over the past several years, each providing invaluable lessons and glimpses into each one’s character. Accomplishments and successes as well as struggles and failures in this life are temporary but necessary for developing the soul, which is eternal. My hope is that no matter what God’s plan is for Emily and Amanda, regardless of what he gives them or takes away, that they know they are special, equally valuable and amazingly unique.

Dear Lord, thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made so we can be so blessed. Give me the strength and wisdom to honor you as I raise and encourage my children to be virtuous and honorable adults who glorify you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Family Enrichment Tool Kit by Michelle Weber

She Speaks Conference

Applications Steps:
When was the last time you gave your child a compliment that highlighted their character? Tonight, take a recent accomplishment and think about the character shown and choices your child made which resulted in that particular success. Bring up that occasion and focus your conversation on the character traits they showed and choices they made. Help them understand and feel good about the many variables and choices which led to that particular success.

Power Verses:

Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”

Deuteronomy 6:7, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and whey you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

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I Thought
Luann Prater

“But Naaman went away angry and said, 'I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.'” 2 Kings 5:11 (NIV)

Leprosy is an infectious disease that is characterized by disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation. Being healed, with or without a dramatic flare should be appreciated. And yet, because God did not perform the miracle in the showy way Naaman thought, he was angry.

The job posting popped into my email. I hadn’t gone looking for it, but there it was. A store manager’s position was being sought for a local bridal shop. I wondered how in the world it ended up in my email. Always looking for God’s fingerprints on my life, I responded to the notice with a simple reply, “Hopefully God will bring just the right person with bridal experience to you, if he does not, however, call me.” And she did! She had only posted her job offer through the employment security office, so she was baffled why it ended up in my email. From the moment we met, we knew that God had meant for us to come together in some way.

I thought for sure that God had some miraculous reason for bringing our two lives together. At work each day I would watch and listen for signs of His purpose for having me there. Day after day, the drudgery of dealing with egocentric brides made me grow weary wondering if God really had a plan for me there or had I missed something.

The first week on the job I met an alterationist named Alexandra. She was from Ecuador and had not been home for 8 years. Only a month earlier I had discovered that our Proverbs 31 team would be traveling to Ecuador with Compassion International. “Okay God, is this the reason you brought me to this place?” I queried. I had many opportunities to talk with her about God. During my visit to Ecuador I hand delivered a care package from Alexandra for her family.

One day a bride was devastated when her wedding was cancelled. I wrapped my arms around her and asked if I could pray with her. Gently laying her head on my shoulder she shook her head and we prayed.

In the middle of the bustling busy day a bridesmaid came in with an attitude. She snapped at a young clerk so I stepped in and asked if she was ok. She grumbled that she had committed to be in a friend’s wedding this weekend but this was the last place on earth she wanted to be. It seems her mother had just been in a head-on collision and was struggling for her very life in ICU. The frivolous trappings of a wedding had become a frustration. I asked if I could pray for her. She took my hands and we prayed.

So there has never been a showy lightning bolt experience that told me, “Ah-ha, THIS is why you brought me here!” I've only found moment-by-moment happenings that beckon me to be Jesus with skin on as I live each day.

Looking back on my life I can see countless times where I thought I knew what God was up to, only to discover later that I had no clue.

Are you frustrated with where God has placed you? Do you wonder why on earth you are here? Or what in the world is He thinking? Our infectious disease may be anger at the way God answers our prayers.

I encourage you to look beyond your helplessness and behold: The Healer.

Father, We are so blind to your ways. Open our eyes to see past our circumstances and see Your plan. Give us contentment wherever we are in this life and a joyful spirit that gives You praise in the midst of all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

God Calling by A.J. Russell

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Application Steps:
Read 2 Kings Chapter 5 and discover that God delivers.

What causes me to doubt?

How can I see God at work in the every day things of life?

Why do I long for showy results from God?

Power Verses:
Psalm 68:3, But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” (NIV)

Isaiah 55:12, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;” (NIV)

Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (NIV)

Romans 4:20-21, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (NIV)

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Living Beyond Myself
Micca Monda Campbell

“The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Galatians 5:17(NIV)

I wanted to do the right the right thing, but when push came to shove I reacted according to my flesh instead of the Spirit of God.

My son had become the victim of a school prank. It just wasn’t any kind of prank. It was the kind of practical joke that could have ended in tragedy.

Mitch was on his way home from school when he noticed a foul smell. Suddenly, his car was filled with smoke. He pulled over, got out to check the car, and noticed that someone had pulled the rubber bumper down over the exhaust pipe of his car. Concerned about the deadly fumes, Mitch called from his cell phone to be picked up.

While I was furious that someone would play such a trick, I was also thankful that my son knew the danger of the situation and called for help. Had he not, and continued driving, the fumes could have caused him to pass out at the wheel injuring himself and possibly others.

The next day, my husband didn’t get the response he had expected while speaking with the school principal. Instead, he got a lesson toward the assumption that “boys will be boys.” Again, I was furious!

Instead of listening to my husband’s advice, I decided to talk with the principal myself. I prayed before hand in hopes of conducting myself in a Christ-like manner. It was my heart's desire to do the right thing. Unfortunately, when the principal said, “Hello,” I let him have it! In the midst of my angry outburst, I even blamed the principal for causing me to sin!

Later, I felt so ashamed. I felt convicted over my actions and for not representing the Name I carry…Christian. I could have defended my son and honored God if only I had obeyed the Spirit instead of reacting according to my flesh. I was hurt and confused. “Why do I struggle this way when I truly want to do the right thing?” I pondered within.

I wonder are you also confused to find that struggling with sin is the basic problem of your life. Aren’t we supposed to be free from the struggle with sin?

The Bible tells us that even though we are Christians, we will battle our flesh which works to keep us from God. Our key verse describes it this way:

“The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."

You see, before you and I received new life, we could sin and it wouldn’t bother us because the Spirit of God was not living in us convicting us of sin. Once saved, the Sprit of God convicts us of our sinful ways. Therefore, the struggle is on.

We each have old habits and old ways of thinking to break. The Holy Spirit in our hearts breaks the rule of sin in our lives and gives us a new nature and new life by purifying our motives, renewing our minds, and giving us the desire to become like Him. However, it’s a life-long process. Our flesh will trip us up sometimes, but allowing Christ’s life to flow through us will result in victory over sin.

You and I will continue to struggle while here on earth, but the good news is, one day, when we see Christ face-to-face, the fight will be over. Our flesh will forever be put to death and final victory will be ours!

Dear Lord, I want to live in a way that is pleasing to you but I’m weak and often give in to my fleshly desires. It’s only by your Spirit that I can live free from sin. Forgive me, Lord, and fill me with your enabling power, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Micca’s Blog

God is Not Through With Me Yet: Holding on to the One Who Holds You Close by Thelma Wells

She's Gonna Blow! Real Help For Dealing With Mom Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Using the power verses below, present yourself as a living sacrifice before God each day (Romans 12:1). Sacrifice your fleshly desires, asking God to fill you with His Spirit (Eph 5:18). Next, live by the power of the Holy Spirit so that you do not gratify your flesh (Gal 5:15). If you should sin, confess it and repeat these steps.

What sin do you struggle with most—pride, anger, lust, selfishness?

What sins have you already experienced freedom from?

How can recalling your freedom from past sins encourage you about the ones you are still struggling with?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” (NIV)

Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (NIV)

Galatians 5:16, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (NIV)

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Thanks and Giving
Zoë Elmore

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48b (NIV)

Okay, I’ll admit I’m no spring chicken, but I’m still full of life; so I decided that I would spend this year doing 51 things I’ve never done before (yes, that’s one thing for every birthday I’ve had). I wanted to do things I’ve always talked about doing, but somehow just never got around to doing.

It’s been fun to use the good china & crystal everyday, as well as the nice towels. I light my favorite candle each evening when I get home from work and I even drove a Jet Ski in the Atlantic Ocean while dolphins raced beside me. I’ve checked off many things from my list this year but there are still things to do before the year is done. Not to give the impression that I’ve only been doing things for myself this year, I also have a few items on my list that will allow me to “give back” to our community. For instance, I’ve always wanted to make dinner for the firemen at our local fire station.

When a neighbor’s home recently caught fire I was so impressed with the firemen who put out the fire and the care they gave to the gentleman living in the home who needed some minor medical attention. After the hoses were rolled up and the ladders stowed I spoke to the shift captain and volunteered to cook dinner for the men of the fire station. He replied “Thank you ma'am, people are always dropping off cookies; but no one has ever volunteered to feed all thirty-one of us.”

Thirty-one hungry firemen, oh my goodness! What have I gotten myself into? Oh well... numbers aside I said I wanted to do this and do it I will. I think a Thanksgiving dinner would be an appropriate way to say thanks and one way to give back to the men and women who serve my community.

As Thanksgiving approaches and thoughts turn to the food and the whirlwind of details associated with that holiday, I’m reminded that my blessings are too numerous to count or even measure. So this year as the turkey roasts and the marshmallows melt on top of the yams I will rejoice in this new Thanksgiving tradition. I indeed have been given so very much and now I want to find ways to give thanks to those who give of themselves everyday. I hope my list of fifty-one things to do will inspire you to find a way to give thanks to those who serve your community. I can’t think of a better time of year to do just that.

Dear Lord, You continue to lavish your blessings upon me and I am grateful. Help me to find ways to give thanks to those who serve and protect my community. Bless them and their families with Your grace and protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Homespun Gifts from the Heart by Karen Ehman

Sponsor a child in need through Compassion International

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Make a list of the blessings you have received this year.

When you see a fireman or policeman, do like my husband Tom does; go over and say “Thank you for your service to our community.”

Finds ways to involve your small group, Sunday School class or neighborhood in giving thanks to your community.

What are you doing to give thanks?

How can you encourage your family to become active in giving thanks?

Power Verses:
Acts 20:35b, “Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (NIV)

Proverbs 28:20, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” (NIV)

Romans 10:12, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, “(NIV)

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Waiting for My Portion
Amy Carroll

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”
Lamentations 3:22 (NIV)

It was going to be one of those days. I had gone to sleep with the long list of things to do rattling around in my head, slept fitfully and awakened with a knot of anxiety. I’m sure that you know exactly what I’m talking about. I was facing a day with more list than time and none of it could wait. I drug myself out of bed and through the morning routine with my children.

As I walked back into the house from the bus stop, I was tempted to skip the one thing that I can’t live without. “But, Lord,” I argued silently, “you know that I’m dust.” (Yes, that’s scriptural, but also one of my favorite cop-outs.) “You’ve given me most of the assignments on my list today, so I know that You’ll understand if I skip my prayer and Bible study time.” Even while I rehearsed the argument in my head, I felt the draw of the One who could bring order to this chaotic day.

At this point I need to say that many times I’ve made the argument and gone straight to my check list. On this particular day, however, God brought to my memory something that my friend and leader Lysa TerKeurst had said many times. She encourages us to ask God each morning for our assignment and then ask Him for our portion. Asking for my portion was a phrase that had really stuck with me.

Scripture has a lot to say about how God feeds and strengthens His children. When Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray, He instructed them to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
(Matt. 6:11 NIV) Notice that He didn’t say weekly bread (as if we could get everything we need at church each week and live the rest of the time on our own), monthly bread, or yearly bread.

The picture I love most, though, is that of the Israelites in the desert gathering the manna that God had provided as food. God’s direction was to gather as much as they could eat for the day but not to try to keep it over night. Some ignored this last part of the instruction and found themselves left in the morning with stinky, maggoty leftovers! (Exodus 16). God wants the same thing for us as He wanted for the Israelites. He wants us to trust Him each day for what we need. He wants us to be dependent on Him each morning as we face the day asking our Provider for our portion.

I recently heard a question that I’ve been chewing on for some time. If I could knock on the door of God’s office and ask for a look at His heavenly calendar, what would be on it that day for me? The speaker followed with an even more piercing question—what would NOT be on it that day for me? God clearly extends mercy to His overextended children, but I think that maybe the portion is for the items that He divinely has included on my daily agenda.

That morning I took the lesson to heart. I spent some time on my knees crying out for my portion, for God’s order for the day and for a change in my own rotten attitude. Friends, I want to testify that He is faithful! The day went smoothly, and I even had a few minutes to put my feet up, to close my eyes and to thank Him before the bus returned to bring home my next assignment. He is good!

Dear Lord, I thank You that You promise to provide just the portion of strength and faith to face each day. Help me to come to You trusting that You will be my Provider. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Start with a saying that I love: “I’m too busy today NOT to pray!”

Schedule an appointment with Jesus everyday. He promises to be there.

Be real in your time with God. Pour out your heart and talk to Him as you would a trusted friend. You can be reverent without being formal.

What is the source of my strength to meet the day’s challenges?

On the days that I don’t seek God for my portion, how is that working for me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 36:5, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV)

Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

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