The Illusion of Control
By Glynnis Whitwer

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV)

My freshman son is on the school wrestling team. After an outstanding first season, Dylan had a disappointing loss – and he wasn’t happy. In fact, he was convinced the referee made some crucial mistakes.

Although I missed the match, I got a recap the next morning at breakfast. Dylan described his moves, and elaborated on the ones he thought should have earned him the win.

“I had this guy’s body in a scissor hold and had him on his back, but the ref didn’t give me points for getting that kid on his back!” Dylan explained.

His older brother, who also wrestled, offered, “You probably didn’t have control.”

“But I had him on his back,” Dylan countered.

“But the ref saw you really didn’t have control. That’s why you didn’t get the points,” Josh insisted. Dylan accepted that possibility and the conversation changed to other topics.

As the day wore on, the image of that wrestling match returned many times. And a parallel to my own life began to develop. I imagined myself wrestling with a personal struggle, thinking I’ve got it under control, only to discover I really don’t. I pictured God watching my struggle, watching me declare my victory, but knowing all along it’s only an illusion of control. I also pictured God standing there patiently, waiting for me to concede the struggle and ask for His help.

There are many areas of my life where I believe if I only try harder, I’ll succeed. Or if I could just figure out the perfect time management system, I could get everything done. Or if I could just hold my tongue, I could be more patient.

The truth is, the only way I’ll have victory over my struggles is to daily admit I don’t have complete control over them, and ask for God’s help.

I wish my son had won that wrestling match, but God used it to teach me a lesson. It is possible to have victory over my struggles … but I’m going to need some divine help.

Dear Lord, thank You for being patient with me when You watch me struggle again and again with the same issues. Help me to see the reality of my need for You every moment of my life. I ask for Your help to overcome my persistent struggles. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Six Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

God’s Purpose For Every Woman by various Proverbs 31 Authors, edited by Rachel Olsen and Lysa TerKeurst

P31 Woman Magazine

Visit Glynnis’ Blog for more encouragement.

Application Steps:
Get a note card and write on it one personal struggle you deal with. Commit to praying every day for seven days about this struggle. Admit you don’t have complete control over the situation and ask for God’s help.

Read 1 John 5:1-5. What does it mean to overcome the world?

What is the power source described in these verses?

How is faith and obedience to God connected to experiencing victory over your struggles?

Power Verses:
1 John 5:5, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (NIV)

Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV)

Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (NIV)

By Wendy Pope

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12 (NKJ)

Misunderstood: this word clearly describes how I have felt many times during my 15 years of marriage and if I am honest; my husband could make the same claim. I remember in our pre-martial counseling hearing the word communication and how important it is to a successful marriage. Keeping this in the forefront of my mind and having gone to great lengths to communicate, many times I still feel misunderstood.

My husband and I used to have "pillow talk." Well we still do, but not nearly as often. Pillow talk is honest, heart to heart talk, in the bed, in the dark. Not necessarily involving intimacy, just conversation. Somehow in the dark, you can shed light on how you are truly feeling about an issue.

Not long ago we had some pillow talk. I thought I was really making some headway in helping my man understand my needs. I shared my needs openly and honestly. He responded with a simple touch and a snuggle. At this point, I was feeling very understood. I fell asleep knowing that my thoughts were heard, appreciated and would be taken into great consideration the next time this issue came up.

A few days later, on the way to church I heard the following words coming through the speakers:

When we don’t talk, when we don’t touch, when it doesn’t feel like we’re even in love it matters to me.

When I don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do, don’t know if it really even matters to you. How can I make you see it matters to me?

As I listened to the words I thought, "Faith Hill can say it better than me." I just knew my husband was pondering Faith's words as well, and recounting our pillow talk conversation. This is when I made the mistake. I said, "Did you understand what I was saying the other night?" I won't bother to give his response. Suffice it to say, he is a man not a woman.

Instead of getting upset that he was unable to recall our entire pillow-conversation, I recited a “reader's digest version” of it and we laughed. Then as God would have it, I heard the following words from Ricky Van Shelton coming through the speakers:

I don't know why you want to start with me, I ain't done-nothing far as I can see and I'm worn out from working too hard, why don't you give me a break. I know that lately things ain't been so good, I'll make it up just like I told you I would but I'm tired and I want to sit down, to ease this old backache.

You say you're having trouble figuring me, I don't believe I'm such a mystery. Baby what you get is what you see. I am a simple man. I want a job and a piece of land, three squares in my frying pan. Don't seem so hard for me to understand, I am a simple man.

I had to laugh. Misunderstood: husbands and wives feel it. Faith says it matters to her when there is no talking or touching. Ricky Van says I know things haven't been good lately but I am working as hard as I can, I am just a simple man.

If being misunderstood is the question, what is the answer? The answer is to be Jesus to my man. I am to offer respect when I feel wronged, show grace when I don't feel like grace is deserved, and demonstrate love when it seems I have no love to give.

Jesus offers all this, and more, to me everyday. Respect, grace, and love many times aren't easy to demonstrate. However, in God's economy you give a little and get a lot, maybe not the exact return you desire at that moment, but abundant blessings from your Heavenly Bridegroom.

Dear Lord, help me to demonstrate Your great respect, grace, and love even when it is not easy. Forgive me for wanting the focus to be on me. Help me to remember that life is not about me, but about making you known. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

For more marriage encouragement, visit Wendy's Blog

Out of the Mouths Babes, by Wendy Pope

Capture His Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst

What a Husband Needs from His Wife, by Melanie Chitwood

Application Steps:
Ask your husband to talk with you about his immediate needs. Ask him to talk with you at a time that would not interfere with other plans he has. (Remember, Ricky Van wanted to sit down and rest his backache.) Pray, asking God to show you how you can meet those needs. Try not to be oversensitive.


Do I really listen when my husband speaks or is my own agenda playing out in my head as he speaks?

What can I do to make our home a peaceful place for him to rest "his backache”?

Power Verses:
I Corinthians 13:1,"Love is patient, love is kind." (NIV)

I Corinthians 13:13, "Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." (NIV)

Pretty, Pretty Princess
By Micca Campbell

“Your beauty should not come for outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

The other day I came across a photo of my daughter’s first school dance. She looked like a Princess. Part of her fun that evening was getting dressed up for the event. Like most girls, Peyton has loved playing dress-up since she was a little girl. I have many pictures of her dressed up like a bride, a princess, or a ballerina. Peyton loved playing dress-up so much that one year on her birthday I bought her a board game called “Pretty, Pretty Princess.”

Quickly, it became her favorite game. With each turn, the player had the opportunity to put on an earring, a necklace, or a bracelet according to which card was drawn. You won the game if you drew the Princess crown! I can still recall how cute it was watching her play with her daddy, and how fun it was to see him wearing the plastic jewelry. One time, he actually answered the front door wearing his Pretty, Pretty Princess jewels.

Looking back over the years, I’ve come to realize that Peyton is not alone. No matter how old we get as women, we still long to be as beautiful as a princess. That desire is a God-given desire. However, since we live in a fallen world, we often try to fill our God-given desires in unhealthy ways.

For example, the world tells us in order to be beautiful we must be a perfect size, have no defects, and a cover-girl face. Anybody measure up? I know I don't. Most of us probably don't but secretly we wish we did. How do I know? Just look at the millions of dollars spent every year on cosmetics, lotions, surgeries, and beauty aids. I can't say that I wouldn't like a lift and a tuck myself!

Turning on the TV or looking at what women are wearing today will give us evidence that we've allowed the world to shape our views on beauty. The world encourages us to seek a beauty that only lasts for a brief amount of time. God encourages us to cultivate a beauty that will never fade but only grow more beautiful with time. God's Word always has a way of bringing me back to truth. It removes the pressures of what the world says, and allows me to be nothing more than who God created me to be...beautiful in His sight.

Besides, if you’re a child of the King, then you’re already a princess. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). You and I were not only called out of our sin into the saving light of Christ, but we were made daughters of the King. As royal princesses, who cares what the world says? God’s princesses come in all shapes and sizes—and He loves them all!

Dear Lord, Help me not to focus on my outward appearance more than I should. Instead, give me a greater desire to cultivate my inner beauty that grows more attractive with time, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Visit Micca’s Blog, Reflections, for more encouragement.

His Princess, Love Letters from Your King, by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Do you know Jesus?

Authentic Beauty: the Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman, by Leslie Lundy

Application Steps:
Cultivate your inner beauty by recording and memorizing verses that remind you of who you are in God’s eyes. If possible, purchase the book “His Princess, Love Letters from Your King” to discover the truth of who you are.

How much time do you give to your outward appearance as opposed to your inner beauty?

How can you change the view that beauty is only skin deep?

In what ways can cultivating inner beauty be seen on the outside of you?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (NIV)

Exodus 34:29, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord” (NIV).

2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV).

By Holly Good, She Speaks Graduate

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

We call it “family time.” It’s my favorite night of the week. Several months ago, I felt the Lord convicting me, “Holly, I’m so glad you and your husband serve the youth in your church…you teach them, lead them, and pray with them on a weekly basis. But what are you doing with the two beautiful youth within your own precious home?”

I could not believe what had been revealed to me that day. I was amazed as to how simple this truth was, yet for some reason so challenging. It caused me to ponder, Why don’t we have family devotions? Why don’t we intentionally pray together? Why don’t we lift others needs up in prayer as a family – together?

Without hesitation, I talked to my husband and we determined a clear-cut plan for our family. We were going to have purposeful times with the Lord together. Just us – my husband, our 16-year-old daughter, our 12-year-old son, and me.

My friends often ask me what we do during family time. Here is our simple plan.

We read the Bible – We have our children look up key verses and we discuss them. Sometimes it will be a specific story, and sometimes it will just be a verse or two. We glean insight in both the Old and New Testament. I love the discussions that result from the truth’s we read and discover – together.

We memorize scripture – We choose one of the verses we’ve read and work to memorize it for the next week – together.

We marvel at how God answers prayers – My husband or I will read aloud from an incredible book called “100 Amazing Answers to Prayer,” by William Peterson and Randy Peterson. Each week we are truly amazed as to how God works in miraculous ways. It is filled with mind-boggling stories of testimonies to answered prayer. This is our favorite part of family time. We sit in awe of our God – together.

We Pray – We end our time in prayer. As we discuss prayer requests I marvel at the fact that it’s a great way to get a glimpse into our kid’s lives. They’ll talk about their friends, their teachers, their schoolwork and any concerns on their heart. It’s a time when they know that we’re completely focused on them. It’s also a time for my husband and me to share things as well. When my husband’s job was in jeopardy of being eliminated several months ago, we prayed as a family – together.

During our family time we attempt to show, explain, and discuss how God’s love is all-consuming, and is always available to us regardless of how our week has been. We certainly don’t come across as the perfect all-knowing parents – just parents who love our kids and love God, too.

Are our kids always running to family time with smiles, great attitudes, an eagerness to learn, and an open heart for discussion? Not usually! But they always leave visibly refreshed and encouraged. And that is why we do it – together.

Dear Lord, thank you for my family. Please show me how to love them and lead them according to your will. Give me the boldness to show them my love for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Pocket Parent: A Guide to Raising Godly Kids

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child, Character Chart and CD by Renee Swope

Building the Christian Family You Never Had, by Mary DeMuth

Click here to connect with Holly on Lysa’s blog, where she’ll be a guest writer today.

Application Steps:
Get intentional about having a specific time for your family to pray together.

Encourage your children to talk to you about their faith and questions they may have.

Create a safe environment for your children to share what is on their hearts.

What will you do today to show God’s love to your children?

What will you do today to get your children into God’s word?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when his is old he will not turn from it.” (NIV)

John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Her Secret
By Amy Carroll

“Be joyful always; pray continually...” I Thessalonians5:16-17 (NIV)

There's a woman who works at my local grocery store that just makes my day. She is ALWAYS positive and cheerful. I’m sure it isn't easy working with the public and spending long hours on her feet, so today I asked her for her secret. "My secret for bagging?" she asked in surprise.

"No," I explained. "I want to know your secret for staying so positive." She just gave a big smile and explained that God is her secret. She followed by telling me that she had to be at work at 6:00 am today, so she’d gotten up at 3:30 am to spend time with Him.

Tears filled my eyes as I thought of this precious sister in the Lord rising in the dark to spend time with the Lord so that she could minister to all the people that will pass her at the cash register today. She shares her enthusiasm, energy and smile equally with each customer. She is a beautiful woman, but she doesn't have the advantage of youth that many of her co-workers have. This woman had gotten up in the middle of the night, spent time with Jesus, and worked an 8 hour shift. She said that it isn't always easy. "By the 40th hour of my work-week, I'm very tired," she said. "But He is my secret."

R.A. Torrey once said: "The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came...Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory."

Lucia, the checker at the grocery store, is living proof of this quote. She prepares herself with prayer for the battle of each day. She's an ordinary woman just like me, but she has taken the ordinary and made it beautiful beyond measure.

I'm a "doer", and prayer does not come easily for me. I want to start attacking my checklist about the time I open my eyes in the morning. Lucia reminds me, though, of this truth. Prayer isn't preparation for the work. It IS the work. One tool that has helped me tremendously is a prayer journal. Writing out my prayers helps me to focus and not get distracted so easily. It is also a wonderful record when I want to look back and remind myself of what the Lord has done and how He has answered prayer.

Like you, I’ve got several battles that I’m facing. I needed Lucia to remind me today that time with God is invaluable.

Dear Lord, I want to be ready for the challenges of each day. Help me to remember that nothing prepares me like time spent with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Intimacy with God: Your Daily Guide to Prayer, by Tara Furman

His Princess, Prayers to my King, by Sheri Rose Shepherd

A Busy Woman’s Guide to Prayer, by Cheri Fuller

Do You Know Jesus?

For more encouragement please visit Amy's Blog

Application Steps:
Set a time aside to pray each morning. Make it a “standing appointment” with Jesus before your day starts.

Pray without ceasing. Talk to God all day long. Praise Him, cry out for help or tell Him that you love Him. He is there!

How am I different on the days that I pray?

How does God use prayer to prepare me for the battle?

Power Verses:
I Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (NIV)

Luke 18:1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (NIV)

Inspired Messages
By Lysa TerKeurst

“I am the way and the truth and the life…”John 14:6 (NIV)

There once was a little girl...with a battered heart.

She was told by the first love of her life...that she was unwanted.

Her Daddy's silence made her cry. His words made her broken.

Then one day she was given an old typewriter...
and when she placed her fingers on the dusty keys, her heart settled.

Words came from her fingertips that her lips couldn't produce.
Her poems cryptically told of hidden abuse.
Tears often smeared her little girl masterpieces.

Years passed... her fingers stilled, her heart grew cold, her lips cursed God.

But there were other people busy at their keyboards... pouring out inspired messages.
Messages that would one day reach her - in deep places - places long ago hidden away.
Messages that told her she didn't have to be a child of a broken parent. She could be a child of God. She was wanted.

She is me.

Jesus used their key strokes to produce words, messages, books, and Bible studies – their words unlocked me, released me, held me, exposed me, and helped put me together again.

And then my fingers found their way back... and dared to strike a key or two or ten thousand. Letters became words. Words became chapters. Chapters became books. And somehow others were unlocked, held, exposed and helped.

Every one of us has words inside that were never meant to just rumble about, hidden away. They are meant to be shared. Given. Released. Spoken. Written.

But somehow, Satan has deceived us by making us think we are not good enough, smart enough, educated enough, or eloquent enough to be able to share the reality of what Jesus has done in our lives. In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus calls us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He goes on to instruct us to let our light shine.

But we don’t have to do it in our strength. For right at the point we dare to say, “There’s no way,” Jesus steps in and calls Himself--- "The Way."

And your story is the best thing you have to share “the Way” with the world.

Dear Lord, thank you for weaving a story of redemption throughout my life. Give me the honesty to live it in such a way that honors you and the courage to share it in such a way that blesses others. Today, as you scan the earth looking to strengthen hearts fully committed to you, I raise my hand high and say, “choose me, I am willing.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Click here for Lysa’s Blog - She is doing a Q & A about She Speaks today.

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?, by Lysa TerKeurst

For the Write Reason, General Editor Marybeth Whalen

Application Steps:
Prayerfully consider attending the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference held in North Carolina, June 20-22, 2008. It helps women more effectively tell their story in both the written and spoken form. It’s also designed to encourage and train you to become a speaker, a writer, and a more effective women’s ministry leader. For more information click here to go to the She Speaks website.

Ask God who might be blessed by hearing your story.

Read through the verses below. Spend some time praying through each verse while asking God to reveal to you, how He wants you to use your story. Don’t let Satan try and tell you that your story is not powerful enough. Also, don’t let Satan deceive you into thinking your story is too shameful. Your story is the exact thing that when surrendered to God can be your most powerful witnessing tool.

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 1:5, “For in him you have been enriched in every way- in all your speaking and in all your knowledge.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)

Matthew 4:14, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (NIV)

What’s Wrong with Me?
By Renee Swope

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

"What's wrong with me?” Do you ever ask yourself that question?

Recently I noticed how many times I do. When I can’t find my keys, when I fight with my husband, when I let someone down, when I’m late for work, when someone hurts me, when I forget to do something important. The list goes on.

It dawned on me that every time I think, "What's wrong with me?" I actually tell myself that something is wrong with me. Then I try to figure out my illusive fault so I can change it. But what I need to change is the way I talk to myself.

Why? Because every time I say, "What's wrong with me?" I tell myself that something is wrong with me.

That is not what God wants me to say to myself – a woman He created. It’s not what He wants you to say to yourself, either. But there is someone who loves it when we do. He often whispers, what's wrong with you? He’s the enemy of our soul and he’s trying to convince us that we're incompetent, inadequate and all alone in our struggles – so that we never become who God created us to be.

He wants us take our eyes off of who we are in Christ and focus on our flaws; then spend our days figuring out how we can hide them. It's what he did with Eve in the Garden. I wonder if she might have even thought, "What's wrong with me?" when faced with her own inadequacies and failures.

But think back to what God said to Adam and Eve. He asked them, "Who told you that you were naked?" In other words, “Who told you that something is wrong with you?"

God acknowledged that there was someone casting shame on them and it wasn't Him. He warned that they had an enemy whispering lies into their hearts, causing them to move away from Him and each other.

Satan’s plot is the same for us. But we don't have to comply. Instead we can refute his accusations and lies with truth. We can stand on the promise of who we are in Christ – chosen, holy and dearly loved. We can discover and embrace our God-given design (and all the quirks that come with it), and we can accept that we are the way we are because it's all part of our "package."

None of us is perfect. All of us have strengths and weaknesses, but we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" - just the way God planned.

Lord, make me aware of the times when I am not so nice to myself. Help me recognize my self-doubt and the enemy’s accusations. I want to turn away from the lies so I can listen to and live in Your Truth. I want to become all that you created me to be! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Living and Leaving a Legacy, 2 part DVD by Renee Swope

Read more on this topic at Renee’s Blog

Self Talk, Soul Talk, by Jennifer Rothschild

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:

Today, if you have thoughts of doubt or self-criticism, instead of assuming that something is wrong with you, turn towards the One who created you and say: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

When I feel like I’ve messed up, do I turn to God for His thoughts about me, or do I beat myself up with my own critical words?

Would I talk to someone else the way I talk to myself?

Power Verses:
Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord endures forever - do not abandon the works of your hands.” Psalm 138:8 (NIV)

John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NIV)

Psalm 25:4-5, “Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long.” (NIV)

One Day Completely With God
By Lysa TerKeurst

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” Psalm 84:10a (NIV)

Why do I often want to settle for less than what God has for me? What if I truly lived today completely obedient to God's word and in tune with His voice? What if before every choice I make today, I held up my options to the Lord and chose obedience over convenience and righteousness over my rights.

God has never asked me to do great things for him. All He has ever required of me is to allow His greatness to enter me, change things around in me, and be revealed through me. Not to do for Him, but rather to simply be with Him.

So, just for today I will live this way. Just for today, I am making the choice to not settle. Just for today, I will not let the subtle influences of pride, what is best for me, what is easiest for me, and what I want overshadow my desire for more of God in my life.

Today, I will believe with absolute certainty. Today, I will obey with complete surrender. Today, I will seek with complete abandon. For today, I want God to find in me a haven in which to rest.

Isaiah 66: 1-2 (NASB) says, "Thus says the LORD, 'Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,' declares the LORD. 'But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.'"

My soul jumps at God's question, "Where is the house you could build for me -- where is a place that I may rest?" He is the God of the Universe - so big and so mighty and so capable. Yet, asking almost a vulnerable question to a completely unworthy human - "Can I abide with you today?"

If the president of the United States called me today to inquire, "Can I come and stay for a while? I’d like to sit and find rest with your family today,” I would be left utterly speechless. How much more so that the God of the Universe actually desires that with each of us today.

Unimaginable. Uncontainable. Unfathomable. Yet completely true.

There are no great people in the kingdom of God. Just simple people. But every now and then a simple person makes a great choice. Oh God, let me make that choice today. Even if it is just for a day - how I long for it to be more - but even if it is just for today, may it be completely so. For one day completely with You, is better than a thousand elsewhere.

Dear Lord, I desire You today. Surround me with Your presence. Remove the distractions from my heart and mind so I can see only you. Lead me, guide me and teach me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so click here for Lysa’s blog

Application Steps:
Spend time with God. Really spend time with Him. Every waking hour acknowledge him in some way. He will give you such direction, focus, and strength.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the thought of truly living the rest of your life in complete obedience to God? Why not make that decision just for today? Why not set aside today as the day that you are committed to living life exactly as Jesus would have you to? Sometimes looking at life a little more daily, enables us to make the bigger decisions in life. Do it and see what happens - just for today.

Power Verses:
Col 3:1-3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (NIV)

Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (NIV)

Psalm 139:23 “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (NIV)

A Runaway Ramp
By Marybeth Whalen

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” I Corinthians 9:24 (NIV)

My friend Melanie and I were coming back from speaking at a retreat in the mountains when I noticed several runaway truck ramps along the highway as we wound our way down the steep, imposing mountain roads. These ramps were installed so that large trucks have a place to go if their brakes fail, or if they are simply going too fast and could possibly lose control. I took note of the different styles of ramps—some dirt, some concrete—all designed so the trucks would have an “out” in times of danger. All put in place ahead of time, before they were ever needed.

I thought about how we could all stand to install runaway ramps in our lives. Some of us need to have ramps for when we get going too fast, committing to too many things and not saying “no” when we should. Some of us need ramps to slow us down when we our natural brakes aren’t working well as we travel down a path of temptation. And some of us need to have a ramp in place in our relationships; erecting boundaries that keep us from venturing down dangerous roads we have traveled with people before.

For each of us, these ramps will look different and serve different purposes. Like the truck ramps, we need to have them in place ahead of time so that when we get going too fast—when we are threatening to fly out of control—we can quickly get off the path we’re on and find refuge and rest. The ramps should provide us with a place we can sit and catch our breath. A place where we can gain a better perspective.

Do you have any runaway ramps? If so, what do they look like? Perhaps your ramp is a date with a godly friend for coffee to talk, laugh, cry or vent. Perhaps your ramp is exercise. Maybe your ramp is a weekend away to collect your thoughts, go for long walks, soak in God’s Word and spend extended time praying. Perhaps your ramp is a regular appointment with a Christian counselor to process current issues or problems from your past.

I have a friend who schedules a weekly time for her runaway ramp by hiring a sitter to keep her kids for several hours while she visits a local church prayer room and spends concentrated time talking and listening to God. The point isn’t what our ramp looks like—as that will be very personal—but to have a ramp erected, before we get into a desperate situation. It just might be the one thing in our lives that makes the difference between careening down the mountain or making it safely to our intended destination.

Dear Lord, help me to know when I need to get off the road. Help me to see when I am going too fast in the wrong direction. Help me, Lord, to have people and places in my life that are safe. Most of all, help me to remember that I can always run to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Visit Marybeth’s Blog

Show Me the Way, Worship CD by Gwen Smith

Breathe, by Keri Wyatt Kent

Application Steps:
Make a list of “ramps” you already have in place in your life. Then make a list of “ramps” you might need to have in your life.

What is a danger area for you? What gets you out of control and out of balance? Is it too many commitments, a bad habit, or an unhealthy relationship? Ask God to help you see where and how you can set limits.

Power Verses:
Song of Songs 2:4, “He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” (NIV)

Psalm 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (NIV)

Psalm 118:25-26, “O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.” (NIV)

Because He Said So
By Rachel Olsen

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” 2 John 1:6 A (NIV)

Is there a summer camp for kids destined to become lawyers? If so, I’m ready to sign my daughter up. No, I’m kidding. I love her dearly but she can wear me out with all her questions and challenges. She is a pre-teen now but this started years ago.

About the time she turned four, she had been out past bedtime at an event with her father. She’s an extrovert so being out late around lots of other people had her really wound up and talking non-stop on the way home. The more she talked, the more animated she became. Finally my husband said, “No more words, honey, we’re going to be quiet for the rest of the ride home.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because it’s late and you are tired, and you need to let your body wind down and rest.”

“I’m not tired at all,” she insisted.

“You don’t realize it but you are very tired; its past bedtime and you need to settle down.”

After a moment of silence she said very matter-of-factly, “You can’t know how I’m feeling.”

My husband, who has a Ph.D. in communication, came through the front door saying, “Our preschooler just out reasoned me!”

She wants to understand our plans, motives, and reasons for everything. If she doesn’t understand the logic of something she has a hard time accepting it. She loves us and truly wants to please us, but she wants to know why before she obeys. She’s usually very obedient, once she’s heard our reasons. Nonetheless, in response to her questions I’m sometimes tempted to use that infamous parental phrase: “Because I said so!”

I wonder if God ever wants to use that phrase with me?

I sometimes challenge His rules. Do not murder – check. Do not take the Lord’s name in vain – got it. Honor your father and mother – OK. Do not gossip – hum, not even in the form of a prayer request? Do not lie – you mean, not ever? Do not envy – is this even possible?

Other times I question His ways. Can’t You just feed the poor by making crops grow? Why do unbelieving drug addicts conceive babies, but my own girlfriend who follows You cannot? Why didn’t You give me more organizational skills if You were going to have me marry this man and do this job? … Are you sure You got the formula right when You made me?

God is infinitely more patient a parent than I am, and He is abounding in grace and love. He can easily handle all my questions without exasperation. But I wonder if He wishes I would just simply trust and obey – just because He is God. I know I wish I would!

The scriptures say: “Do what your king commands; you gave a sacred oath of obedience. Don't worryingly second-guess your orders or try to back out when the task is unpleasant. You're serving his pleasure, not yours. The king has the last word. Who dares say to him, "What are you doing?" Carrying out orders won't hurt you a bit; the wise person obeys promptly and accurately.” (Ecclesiastes 8:2-5, MSG). I want to be that wise person.

The Bible further assures me of His capable hands and creative purposes saying: “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:20-21, NIV). Yes, He certainly does. I want to be the fancy pot but I have to trust I will find the greatest joy when I accept the purposes He’s designed me for.

So my goal today is not to question God but simply to trust and obey... even if I don’t understand why and even if it’s hard to do. I will accept the way that I am made and the plans that He has set before me. Yes, I know I can take all my questions to the Lord and He will lovingly sift through them, but today I want to obey His commands in swift, willing obedience – just because He said so.

Dear Lord, help me to show my love for You and others by knowing Your commands and obeying them. Give me the mind and attitude of Christ today and help be a woman who says “yes” to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Listen to Today's Radio Show

Read Rachel’s blog

The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do, by Lisa Whittle

Application Steps:
Write out a declaration of intention to obey God at all costs. Pray and ask God to help you grow in obedience.

Have you been challenging the Lord lately about the way He made you? Or the task He has set before you?

Are there commands that you are struggling with obeying right now?

Will you leave this place of questioning and doubt and move forward in obedience?

Power Verses:
Romans 6:16, “Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 9:13, “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” (NIV)

While You Were Sleeping
By Marybeth Whalen

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

Do you ever lie in bed at night worrying about things that are completely out of your control?

Recently I was reading the story of Peter being set free from prison by the angel and it encouraged me to get some sleep and let God take care of my concerns. Acts 12:6 tells us, “The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.”

Peter was facing a public trial with a known enemy of the cause of Christ. He was chained between two guards—not the most comfortable sleeping position. And instead of scheming how he could be like Jack Bauer and bust out of prison and get past the guards, he was sleeping soundly. Though he certainly knew the dire situation he was in, Peter did not lie awake stressing and worrying, wringing his hands and strategizing. Instead, he got comfortable and went to sleep. How?

There are two answers to this question. First, the preceding verse in Acts tells us, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5). Peter knew that his brothers and sisters were interceding on his behalf. He could rest peacefully knowing that he was being lifted before the Lord, even while he was sleeping. Second, Peter had Jesus’ promise in John 21:18 that he would live to be an old man. While Jesus had prophesied that he would be martyred, he knew that it would not be until he was old. And so, he knew that—though the circumstances looked grim—God would make a way out of this situation. He simply took Jesus at his word, and it brought him much peace. Peter gave new meaning to resting in God’s promises!

This was a great lesson for me. I thought of all the nights I laid awake worrying over situations in my life. As I stressed and agonized, tossed and turned, I forgot the promises I’d been given. Instead of resting in God’s promises, I wrestled my problems away from Him and tried to solve them on my own. I schemed and strategized, plotted and worried. I lost sleep when God wanted me to let Him handle the problems His way and experience His peace in the process. I could have asked others to pray for me, allowing them to experience the victory of praying someone through something.

In Peter’s story, the believers who prayed for him can hardly believe how God answered what seemed like an impossible prayer request. They got to share in that outcome and hang onto that demonstration of God’s miraculous provision for the rest of their time on earth. Peter gave them an opportunity to build their faith.

While Peter was sleeping, God was at work. He had it all under control. From our earthly perspective, it is hard to see that sometimes. It is even harder to trust God when life seems to spin out of control and circumstances appear grim. I learned I can’t gain another hour by worrying, and I can’t solve anything by losing sleep. The next time my problems seem larger than life I’m going to ask others to pray for me, give God the situation in prayer, read some of His promises in His word, and then I am going to go take a nap. God can do great and mighty things while we are sleeping!

Dear Lord, You can handle all my problems. You already know the outcome and You have not forgotten me. You will care for me and You will fight for me, even when I am unaware. Thank You Lord for granting me peaceful sleep in the middle of life’s storms. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Marybeth’s blog Cheaper By the Half Dozen

Becoming a Woman of Influence, message on CD by Marybeth Whalen

Escaping the Stress Trap by Mary Southerland

Application Steps:
Make a list of promises that God has given you so you can cling to them and find rest in times of trouble. Keep an ongoing list as you hear God speaking to you or as He shows you through the reading of His word.

What do you normally do instead of sleep when life gets hard? (Eat, pace, cry, bite your nails, etc.) Write down what you do and then draw an X through those things. Then write down today’s verse. The next time you are worrying and losing sleep over something, remember this verse.

Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 3:22, “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (NIV)

Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” (NIV)

Psalm 127:2, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (NIV)

Linger Just a Moment Longer
By Lysa TerKeurst

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV)

Breathe in every moment of your day today.

Recognize what a gift today is.

Grab someone you love and let your embrace linger just a moment longer.

Take mental pictures of the toothless grin of your baby, the tousled hair of your toddler, the crooked smile of your teenager.

Hold your husband's hand.

Look past the dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry piled high, the stuff the kids left out and see the beauty entangled in all this evidence of life.

And thank God for it all. Right now, in this second, see the blessing.

I guess I am in a reflective mood this week because I sat beside a family that so unexpectedly had to say goodbye to their Dad and husband. One minute the mom and daughters rushed past him giggling their way to the mall. I imagine the typical quick, "Love ya, see ya."

Less than an hour later, he was riding his bike when a car veered across the center lane and struck and killed him in front of my home.

The next day the family came over to my house and together we prayed at the place where his body was found.

So many questions. So many tears. As we sat in the circle surrounded by broken bicycle parts, pressed down grass, and police paint marks - it all just seemed so unbelievable. My neighbor Holly and I prayed and hoped that somehow through our fragile words the peace of Jesus would fill the gaping holes in their hearts.

The thing that seemed to bring them the most comfort was knowing that we never left the scene of the accident. The minute we realized there was a cyclist involved, we started praying. We realized this was not just a victim – this was someone's Daddy. Someone's husband. Someone's friend. We were there when they pronounced him dead on the scene. We stayed until the accident was cleared and the coroner came and took his body. He was never alone. Not so much because we were there but because Jesus was there. I pray they know this.

Isn't this what every soul needs to know?

The very last words of Jesus recorded in the gospel of Matthew is, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I have no idea what I might face, today, tomorrow, next week, or next year. No idea. Experiencing something like this forces you to see the stark reality of the brevity of life.

So, I will breathe in every moment of my day today.

I will recognize what a gift today is.

I will grab those I love and let my embrace linger just a moment longer.

I will take mental pictures.

I will hold my husband's hand.

And I will thank my Jesus for the gift of one more day.

Dear Lord, I recognize you are with me and those that I love. Thank you for this comfort. Please open my eyes to all my blessings today. Cement in my heart what a gift today really is. And may I never take for granted those I love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog

Do You Know Jesus?

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Write a letter to a loved one today telling them how much they mean to you.

Look around your home today and see the evidence of life. Say a prayer of thanksgiving as you pick up each toy, piece of clothing, stray shoe, craft project, and dirty dish.

What are some ways you can keep an attitude of gratitude?

Spend some time in prayer thanking God for the gift of today.

Power Verses:
Lamentations 3: 22, “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.” (NIV)

John 16: 33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Dreams Come True
By Rachel Olsen

“The bride, a princess, waits within her chamber, dressed in a gown woven with gold. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king; accompanied by her bridesmaids.” Psalm 45:13-14 (NLT)

Once upon a time there was a handsome prince in need of a bride. Far away, in another part of the kingdom, lived a beautiful woman who possessed great potentional but was under the oppression of an evil one who was quite envious of her. This prince was strong and brave. He left the castle, came in and rescued the woman from the hands of the evil one, setting her free.

She in turn couldn’t help but fall in love with her noble rescuer. “You are the most handsome of all! You are so gracious! God himself has blessed you forever!” she exclaimed as she held tightly to his waist to steady herself on the back of his white horse. He took her to the palace where she was bathed and then covered in beautiful linens and sweet-smelling oils. The prince was captivated by her radiance and called her to his side. It seemed as if they were two pieces of the same whole, destined to come together as one.

She was advised, “Forget your people and your homeland far away. For this royal prince delights in your beauty; stay here and honor him!” In response she declared, “I will bring honor to his name,” and she set her heart on a future with him. Soon, a wedding date was set and you know the rest of the story … they lived happily every after!

How do you feel about this “fairy tale?” Do you wish that were the story of your life? Maybe you rail against fairy tales believing them to be dumb stories that keep women under men’s thumbs. Or maybe your reaction is, “Sweet story, but definitely not plausible!”

I can think of no better time than the week of Valentine’s Day to tell you that this tale does come true for millions of women. If you are a Christian woman – married or single – this is your story! The story above is based on scripture (Psalm 45) and parallel’s our relationship with Christ.

Jesus is your Rescuer … your handsome Prince … your royal Husband. He wants nothing more than to rescue you from the evil grip of sin and bring out the best in you. He wants to purify you with His Word and His Spirit and keep you by His side forever.

Can you hear Him calling your name today? Listen, He is saying, “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!” (Song of Songs 1:15, TNIV). Will you respond by leaving your past behind, setting your heart on Him, and bringing honor to His Name?

Dear Lord, purify me as your bride. Mold my heart that it would be befitting the honor of marrying the Prince of Peace. Help me to leave my past behind and focus on my eternal future with You. Show me how to serve and glorify You today. All my love…in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

For more encouragement on this topic, visit Rachel’s blog

His Princess, Prayers to My King, by Sheri Rose Sheperd

Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers

Application Steps:
Read Psalm 45 today. It is the story of a wedding, commonly seen as a prophecy about Christ and His bride, the church.

Think for a moment about how much you would, or did, prepare for your own wedding day.

Are you putting a similar level of effort into preparing yourself to be the bride of Christ?

What is required of the bride of Christ?

Power Verses:
Hosea 2:19, “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy.” (NKJ)

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

Psalm 45: 17, “I will bring honor to your name in every generation. Therefore, the nations will praise you forever and ever.” (NLT)

Adding Beauty to Order
By Glynnis Whitwer

“On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold.” 1 Kings 6:29-30 (NIV)

My second job out of college was for a developer of retirement and assisted living communities. The CEO of the company was a woman named Prill, with a passion for developing beautiful living communities for seniors. While she abided by all the right code restrictions and architectural guidelines, she pushed the envelope to make them lovely. Prill always imagined her mother walking the hallways or sitting in the dining room. Where would she rest and what would she gaze upon as she got her mail? These types of questions guided her philosophy of blending function and grace.

One of her pet peeves was cluttered-looking administrative offices. While people at other companies might tape notes to walls or windows, we had to put them in picture frames. We drank our sodas out of glasses and never ate at our desk. Clutter was abhorred and order was the rule of the day.

I learned a lot from Prill. When she was in town, she’d walk with the management staff around the community and share her philosophy of caring for the aging and creating a beautiful home for them. One such walk sticks out in my mind. It was the day my approach to organization changed forever.

As we walked around the administrative offices, Prill shared tips on how to keep our workspaces attractive and clutter-free. As she chatted she warned us to stay away from “the-cereal-box-on-top-of-the-refrigerator syndrome.” I sucked in my breath, wondering if someone told her about my house. The top of the refrigerator was exactly where my cereal boxes were, and had been for years.

I mused about her comment for days; alternately defending my approach (they don’t all fit in my small cupboards) and considering other options (I could put them in storage containers that do fit in my cupboards). Needless to say, the cereal boxes came down. I scrubbed the layers of dirt and grime off the top of the refrigerator and positioned a plant in an attractive pot there instead.

Now let me assure you, it’s fine if you have cereal boxes atop your fridge. What I learned from Prill is that when we put a little extra effort into organization, our surroundings look peaceful and nice. While I don’t pour my sodas into goblets anymore, I have incorporated Prill’s concern for making practicality as pretty as possible in my home and office. Because I spend so many hours each week at my workspace, keeping it attractive and organized is a priority for me.

Keeping things in beautiful order is a practice we also find in the Bible. In the book of First Kings, we find records of the temple Solomon built to the Lord. Not only are we given precise information about the details, but we get a hint of its beauty, complete with floors of gold, engraved cherubim, and the tops of pillars in the shape of lilies.

While our offices aren’t temples, they can be a place where God is worshiped and honored in our hearts and in our lives. Perhaps you’d like to bring a little beauty and order to your workspace. It may just take a few changes to create a place of organized inspiration. After all, God is a god of order and beauty.

If you would like to pursue this idea, I invite you to visit my blog where I just did a series on bringing order and beauty to our workspaces. I’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you might have.

Dear Lord, You are the creator of all things lovely. You are also the giver of peace and the designer of order. Help me bring that peace and order to my place of work. I long to bring honor and glory to You everywhere I am. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Glynnis’ Blog for practical tips on bringing order and beauty to your workspaces

work@home, by Glynnis Whitwer

Cleaning up the Clutter, by Emilie Barnes

Application Steps:
Look at your workspace with new eyes. What hits you first as being the most cluttered element? Make a plan to tackle that project first.

How does a clean and organized desk/office make you feel?

How does an organized work area affect your productivity?

What are your top challenges in organizing your office?

Power Verses:

Psalm 84:1, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!” (NIV)

Romans 1: 20, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

A Journey with God
By Leah DiPascal
She Speaks Conference Graduate

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22 (NKJ)

I was not looking forward to the trip. As terrible as it sounds, I would have done anything to send someone else in my place so that I didn’t have to face my mom. You see, many years ago my mother was diagnosed with an incurable disease that has affected her physically, mentally, and emotionally. It has been so painful to watch someone I love deeply waste away to nothingness and know there’s nothing I can do but pray and trust God.

The first three days of my stay were the toughest. Mom didn’t recognize me, which was extremely difficult. I kept asking her several times a day “Do you know my name?” or “Who am I?” but she would just look at me with a blank empty stare as if I wasn’t there.

I cried out to God. Please Lord, not yet! I still have so much I want to tell her. My heart was breaking. I asked Him, “How much longer are You going to let this go on? Just take her to heaven where she can be whole again. This load is much too heavy and we are all so tired and weary from the journey.”

On the fourth night after bathing my mom, brushing her teeth, and helping her get into her nightgown, I reluctantly wheeled her over to the bed. Bedtime is difficult for her due to restless sleep and bad dreams. Bedtime is always accompanied with tears. As I tucked the sheets ever so tightly around her and kissed her forehead, I was reminded of when I was a little girl and how she would do the exact same thing for me as part of my bedtime ritual. We said prayers and then ever so hesitantly I asked her once again “Mom, do you know my name?”

Slowly she looked up at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said “Of course, Leah. I know your name.” In that very moment, I was filled with indescribable joy and peace. Nothing else mattered. I didn’t care that we couldn’t go shopping anymore or that we weren’t able to have lunch with friends. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t read me those beautiful poems she had written so long ago or sit on the floor and play with my boys. She knew who I was, and that was good enough for me.

During my stay, I was challenged in countless ways, but God was so faithful and continued to assure me that everything was going to be all right. He even answered several prayers I had been requesting for months. I was also reminded of today’s verse. He wants me to cast my burdens on Him and allow Him to sustain me. He wants me to trust in Him and not to lean on my own understanding.

This is certainly not the plan I would have chosen for my mother yet through this experience I have come to realize that trials and challenges are inevitable. I must learn to expect them, submit to them and learn from them. All the while, realizing that behind each challenge I find a God who longs to pour out His love on me and to carry my burdens if I let Him.

Do you have a parent who is aging and needs your help, or a loved one who is suffering from an incurable disease? Or, are you carrying burdens that are much too heavy to bear? Perhaps you have been asking God tough questions and waiting for your prayers to be answered.

One thing I am learning is that when we ask our Heavenly Father for something, the journey He takes us on while we wait on Him is often times greater than the answered prayer itself. I hope you will let Him carry your burdens today and trust that He knows what is best for you and those you love.

Remember, you were not designed to walk this path alone. He is right by your side to strengthen and sustain you each step of the way.

Dear Lord, help me to trust in You when life doesn’t make any sense. To know that You love me unconditionally and are always there to carry my burdens. Remind me to seek you first when trials and challenges come my way and to recognize Your faithfulness and goodness throughout my journey in life.

Related Resources:
P31 She Speaks Conference

A Love Worth Giving, by Max Lucado

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Take time to reflect on some challenges in your past and write down the ways God has shown His faithfulness to you and how your prayers were answered.

Do I really expect God to carry my burdens or am I more comfortable carrying them myself?

When challenges come my way, who do I run to for help and advice?

In what areas of my life do I trust God the least?

Power Verses:
Psalm 68:19, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (NIV)

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (NIV)

The Real Me
By Renee Swope

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

I sat in the circle dreading my turn to talk. The facilitator of our “team-building” activity had asked our group of eight to answer these questions: What do you love to do? If finances were unlimited and failure was unlikely, what would be your dream?

I started praying we’d run out of time before they came to me. But just in case I had to answer, I listened to everyone else describe their dreams, hoping to get ideas. One wanted to be the first female president of the United States. Another friend said she’d always wanted to sing in a Christian rock band. I was in trouble.

Here I was 32-years-old (at the time) and didn’t know who I was or what my dreams were. Eventually everyone looked at me for a response. I stumbled over my words but finally admitted that I didn’t really know what I loved to do. I didn’t have a dream. I felt like a third-grader living in a grown woman’s body. Did I want to be a nurse, a school teacher, or a movie star?

Who was I? What did I like to do? Unfortunately, I’d never taken time to answer those questions. Instead, I had tried to be who others wanted or needed me to be. But honestly, I wasn’t very good at it. I often had this uneasy feeling in my heart and a sense of just not being happy. I was also a constant candidate for burn out.

Later the facilitator encouraged me to ask God what His dreams were for my life and to spend time getting to know myself better. She also suggested I read some books on personalities. I took her advice and began a process of getting to know the real “me” who’d gotten buried in the busyness of life and people-pleasing.

As I read books about different temperaments and personality traits, I started to recognize what I liked, strengths that came natural for me, and what I needed emotionally to encourage my heart. Instead of wanting to be like women I knew and admired, I realized there was a reason that I was who I was – with my passionate preferences and mixed bag of emotions. For the first time I felt like someone (the author of those books) understood me. I also sensed that God wanted to use the unique way He made me to shape my heart for ministry.

Isn’t it easy to completely neglect ourselves to meet the needs of everyone around us, and call it self-sacrifice? It sounds godly, but in doing so we risk shutting down a place in our soul where God’s dreams and gifts are waiting to be revealed. It’s not self-seeking but God-seeking to intentionally get to know and become the woman He created you to be.

So, how well do you know the real you? Have you ever taken time to think about what you like to do? How would you fill your free time if you had no fears, no insecurities and no doubts? (You probably have no free time, but what if you did?) What are your dreams?

I hope you’ll take time to get to know the woman God created you to be. In doing so I discovered the life I was meant to live, the dreams I was meant to dream.

Remember, God made you. He knows you and He loves you just the way you are. The only change He desires is that you become more like Him, as you become more like you!

Lord, I want to know the woman You had in mind when you created me. I don’t want to grow old and never know Your purpose for my life. Show me your dreams for my life so I can offer what You want to give to those around me through my unique desires, personality strengths, spiritual gifts, abilities and experiences. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Uniquely You! Read more about getting to know the real you, and share your thoughts/questions on Renee’s Blog.

Shaped with Purpose: A Practical Guide for Discovering Who You Are, Workbook and CD, by Renee Swope

Personality Plus, by Florence Littauer

Application Steps:
In her book, Personality Plus, Florence Littauer describes four personality types. See if you can relate to the desires and emotional needs of one or two of these:

Phlegmatic: Desires PEACE
Needs times of quiet, reduced stress, feeling of worth, relaxation

Choleric: Desires CONTROL
Needs appreciation for achievements, opportunity for leadership, and participation in decisions

Sanguine: Desires FUN
Needs attention, affection, approval, activity with people

Melancholy: Desires PERFECTION
Needs sensitivity, stability, support, space, silence

Reflect on today’s verse, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

Do I believe God created me with unique traits and dreams? Do I know what they are?

Do I like who God created me to be? Why or why not?

Power Verses:
Psalm 139:13, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,” (NIV)

Psalm 139:1, “Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” (NIV)

What is Real?
By Holly Good, She Speaks Graduate

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
James 1:12 (NIV)

Has your trust ever been shattered by someone you love? Recently I was faced with a very unsettling situation. I was shocked when I learned of hidden sin that had spun its way into the life of someone I care about deeply.

For weeks, I pleaded with God on my knees for an explanation, for understanding, for clarity. My sense of reality had been threatened and betrayed. I desperately cried out, “What is real Lord; tell me what is real. Because what I thought was real may not be.”

I went to bed one night trying to make peace with the fact that maybe I was never supposed to understand this devastating circumstance. I had many questions, but few answers. I had many thoughts, but few explanations. When I awoke the next morning, during my quiet time, the Lord gently began to reveal some answers to my wounded heart.

I was reminded of my need for Him – my never-ending, all-consuming need for Him. Too often I find myself taking my eyes off Him and attempting to live difficult situations in my own strength. I was profoundly challenged by Colossians 3:1-2, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (NIV). Unfortunately, my focus had completely shifted to myself and my questions. And apart from God, my focus had become distorted.

I was reminded that I needed to continue to seek the Lord and patiently wait for what He had in store. Like Paul with his thorn, I too began to beg the Lord to take this hurt away. Make it disappear, Lord. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). By admitting my frailty, God was able to affirm His strength in me.

And finally, He pointed me to what is real. He gently reminded me that He is real. My God is real. Though on this earth I will face many stressful situations, many disappointments, and many hurts, I know that my God is real and He will never leave me. I once again found loving comfort in the words from Moses to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (NIV). I knew I had to completely depend on God and believe in His goodness.

My assignment in this difficult circumstance was clear. The Lord was asking me to continue to pray, believe, trust, seek, wait, and focus on Him and Him alone. I am so thankful that nothing will ever separate me from His unfailing love. And THAT my friend is real.

Dear Lord, thank you for the life lessons you will teach me each day. Give me renewed strength as a wife and mother. Help me to continue to desire you and to seek you through each situation I will face. I want to completely depend on you God. I love you Lord, and I trust you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Love Worth Giving, by Max Lucado

Because, Worship CD by Gwen Smith

She Speaks Conference June 2008 in Charlotte, NC

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
Pray often.

Pray honestly on your knees as you seek the Lord in times of trial and persecution.

Read your Bible and ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to learn.

What have you been learning through this particular issue?

Have you recorded your thoughts, prayers, emotions, struggles, and victories in a journal?

Have you experienced growth in your spiritual life as a result of a tragic circumstance? Can you help others going through similar situations?

Remember that God is real and that He loves you completely.

Power Verses:

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

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Joshua 1:5, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (NIV)

Fixin' My Want To
By Wendy Pope

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
Luke 22:42 (NIV)

Have you ever been at place in your adventures with the Lord where you wanted to do His will so badly that your heart ached but somewhere in the depths of your soul you struggled to say, "Yes Lord, I will submit to your plan no matter what?”

I love the Lord so much, however, sometimes my response to His call of submission is not one that I am proud of. I question His leadership and argue with His ways. Out of one side of my mouth I confess that He is Lord while the other side lets angry remarks of disapproval of His direction slip out. I want to want to embrace His plan but it is hard when His plan doesn't make sense and causes pain.

My husband has been facing a health issue for over 18 months. It is been a trying time for all us. We have gone from one doctor to the next, with hope that "this doctor" will be the one who will have the answer. My faith and hope have been kept alive as long as we had a new doctor to see. (Allowing my faith and hope to rest in the hands of human physicians; now that is a problem in itself.) I have been led down so many dead ends that I have found myself in a crisis of belief.

As I faced this crisis of belief I knew that I was not alone. God was with me but my ears needed to hear Him. I didn’t want to submit to the possibility of a lifetime of suffering for my husband, and I was angry about the prospect. Basically, I needed Him to confirm to me that it was alright that I didn’t understand or like this situation that He was allowing to happen.

Recently as I was reading my Bible, I studied the various accounts of Jesus' crucifixion. As I reread the Gethsemane scene in each gospel I came face-to-face with the humanity of our Savior. He knew the Father's plan for his life. Yet in the last hours, He asked His Father to change the plan. I could completely identify with wanting to submit to the will of God but desperately seeking a change of direction.

I could hear Jesus saying, "I want to do your will. I will do Your will. But please, is there another way?" It is as if I had come to my own Gethsemane praying for my husband and asking, "if you could find another way, please do."

I want my "want to" to be fixed. I want my faith to be as real in a crisis as it is when I am celebrating His greatness. I want to, want to. It seems for the first time in a long time maybe even the first time ever, I fear saying "thy will be done" because if this is His will, our lives will be changed forever.

God has been faithful to lead me through my crisis of belief and continues to supply what we need each day. I still don’t understand the suffering my husband is going through but my “want to” continues to be nurtured by His loving hands.

Do you need a breakthrough? Do you find yourself at a crossroads in the midst of a crisis of belief? Let me encourage you to seek Jesus. He promises you are not alone. He understands what you are feeling at this very moment and wants to help with your “want to” as well.

Dear Lord, help me overcome my unbelief. I know You are with me. I know your plan is perfect but sometimes – like right now – I struggle against it. Please show me how You are working in the midst of this. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today's Radio Show

Do You Know Jesus?

Visit Wendy's Blog

Out of the Mouths of Babes, by Wendy Pope

Application Steps:
Think of what is troubling you most today. Ask God to help you trust Him through this crisis. Pray today's prayer aloud.

What or who are you putting your faith and hope in today?

When was the last time you struggled with saying yes to God? Why?

Has your faith grown since then? How?

Power Verses:
Various Verses from Psalm 91 (NLT)…

1-2, "Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him."

9-10, "If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.

14-15, "The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.

No One Else On Earth
By Marybeth Whalen

“In all their troubles, he was troubled, too. He didn’t send someone else to help them. He did it himself, in person. Out of his own love and pity he redeemed them. He rescued them and carried them along for a long, long time.”
Isaiah 63:9 (MSG)

Have you ever wondered why God created you? The Bible says that before the creation of the world, God had your purpose in mind. I believe that each of us is created to represent Him and His Word to the world.

All throughout the Old and New Testaments we see God choosing individuals to help His people. He found men who were worthy in character and integrity to represent Him and speak for Him. To be His hands and feet until the appointed time for His Son to come to earth and do what no man could do.

We see Abraham, tapped by God to become the father of Israel. He was seen as God’s friend and served Him in righteousness. He possessed a faith that is rare, one we still can go back and learn from thousands of years later. He went to an unknown place and lived as an alien simply because God told him to. He was certainly a man of God. But he was just a man.

We see Moses, singled out by God to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt. Moses was unsure and incapable in his own stead, but he obeyed God and walked his faith journey one faltering step at a time. We see that God used Moses in a mighty way simply because he was willing. But he was still just a man.

We see Elijah, a prophet whose words were God’s own, used to call out sin amongst His people and bring down an evil king. We see his fear, his inadequacy, his doubts, all wrapped up in his willingness to serve God at all costs and to stand for Him against incredible odds. We see a man who God used for such a time as this. But he was still just a man.
We see John the Baptist, chosen by God to prepare the way for the promised Savior. We see that he marched to the beat of a different drum. The people thought him a little strange, yet strangely irresistible. We see him developing a following that was effortlessly surrendered at the name of Jesus. For John it wasn’t about the praise of man, but the praise of God. He was chosen by God and he served God to the end. But he was still just a man.

The Bible is filled with men and women who served God according to their unique calling in this life. They beat incredible odds with God’s help and became His vessels simply because of their heart for Him. But in the end, there was only One who could do the ultimate work on behalf of mankind. These people could serve Him, stand for Him, and surrender their lives for Him. But they could only go so far.

They could not bring resurrection, atonement, and the kind of sacrifice necessary to bridge the gap that sin had ushered into this world. There was no one else on earth that could offer restoration between God and man, or could bear the burden of our sins being heaped on Him. Only Jesus could do that. He was not just a man. He was God and man.

So how do we respond to the legacy of these faithful people? How can we offer up our lives because of what Jesus did on the cross? Isaiah 66:2 tells us. “But there is something I am looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say” (MSG). God is still looking for people who will live lives of faith, sharing the good news of the Savior. We can still be used mightily in the lives of those people out there who are desperate for answers and hope. Though we are but “men,” we know the One who changed everything. The One who was, and is, and is to come.

Dear Lord, please prepare your people to stand for Jesus and to point to Him with strength and conviction. Help us to lead others to Your Son, because we know the world is desperate for Him. Help us to be confident not in what we can do in our own strength, but in what You can do through us because of your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Marybeth’s blog Cheaper By the Half Dozen

i am not but I know I AM, by Loui Giglio

Do You Know Him?

For the Write Reason, General Editor Marybeth Whalen

Application Steps:
What feelings does this devotion stir in you? Does it inspire you to action or leave you feeling inadequate and afraid? Write down how you feel right now and spend some time praying about how God would have you respond to this.

Have you been looking to other people to do what no one else on earth can do? Don’t put that kind of burden on people. Instead, lay your burdens on Him and allow Him room to transform your life.

Power Verses:
Isaiah 63:8-9, “He said, ‘Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” (NIV)

I Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

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