December 4, 2017

Embracing the Gift of His Presence & Giveaway

Today, I’m excited to welcome my friend, writing and editing mentor, and Proverbs 31 Ministries sister, Glynnis Whitwer, to share from her new book, Doing Busy Better. As we get swept up in the busyness of the Christmas season, Glynnis reminds us  to not only embrace God’s gift of work, but also of His gift of rest. Jesus tells us to come HIM first. HE is the one who gives us rest. Be sure to read till the end and enter Glynnis’ giveaway!

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Embrace the gift of God's presence this season. #doingbusybetter by Glynnis Whitwer.

It was a Christmas I’d like to forget. With five children at home, I should have planned a Pinterest-perfect experience – complete with decorations, cookies and crafts. But the stress of a crazy year had brought me to end of my strength.

The tree got put up, but no ornaments. It only had lights because it was pre-lit. That’s how bad it was.

Every day I felt like a failure. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t get ahead.

When that happens, I usually switch into go-mode. Checking items off my to-do list can easily supersede my desire for the quieter priorities of life, like time with God or my loved ones.

How can I possibly sit when there’s so much to do? That mindset has made me miss some of the most precious moments in life, and it’s a way of thinking I battle daily.

Somehow in the midst of that overwhelmed Christmas, God reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible.

Luke 10 records a day when Jesus came to visit at Martha’s house. It’s a very short story, but we know that Martha fussed at Jesus because her sister wasn’t working hard enough. Rather than helping fix the food, Mary was sitting listening to Jesus.

Jesus loved both Mary and Martha. But in that moment, as the story records, Jesus was more delighted with Mary’s heart to be with Him than Martha’s heart to serve Him.

I can be a fusser too. Too busy with the details, too worried about planning for what’s next, too preoccupied with my to-do list. Even worried about other people’s to-do lists.

It’s not that I don’t love Jesus. I do. But so did Martha. She dearly loved Jesus. And I’m sure she loved having Him as a houseguest, where she could hear Him talk as she went about her daily tasks. Maybe she asked Him questions and served Him lunch.

But she didn’t stop to sit at His feet. She didn’t pause her preparation to give Him wholehearted attention. She didn’t embrace the gift of His presence.

Jesus so gently and lovingly corrected Martha saying:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)

Jesus loved Martha’s heart of service, but He just wanted her to stop what she was doing and prioritize spend time with Him.

I wonder if Martha changed her habits. Did she check her heart and consider where Jesus fit? Did she review her priorities and put Jesus before cleaning up?

We don’t know the answer. The only thing we can know is what we decide to do with this story.

It’s so compelling to jump into our days ¾ whether it’s fixing breakfast for children or leading a meeting at work — without ever pausing to sit at Jesus’ feet. It’s so much easier to whisper a prayer while driving carpool or listen to the Christian radio station and consider that time with God.

That crazy December day I decided to follow Mary’s example and sit in the middle of my mess to spend time with Jesus.

Normally, I feel as if everything has to be clean before I can “treat” myself to some down time. I believe I have to have the dishes clean, counters cleared, urgent emails addressed, laundry going. By the time I’ve done all that, something else has demanded my attention, and my time with Jesus is neglected – much like what happened to Martha.

But not that day. That day I made a cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table and looked at my mess. It was big. There were papers, dishes, clothes and blankets strewn over every surface. The floor was filthy, and the list went on. I had to fight my instinct to get up.

Closing my eyes, I pictured Jesus sitting across the table from me. Sighing deeply, I felt the stress melt away, as my heart filled with peace. It was pure pleasure … and the mess amazingly faded from my view.

The presence of Jesus brings me more joy and satisfaction than checking 100 things from my list.

This Christmas, whether you’ve gotten your house decorated or not, whether you’ve mailed out cards or not … Jesus has come to your house for a visit. He longs for us to pause our preparations and sit with Him. What a gift.

Giveaway Ended

Congrats Kay (comment December 4, 2017 at 7:42 am) – you won! Please check your email and reply with your mailing address.

Glynnis is giving away a copy of Doing Busy Better to one of my readers! Comment below and let us know how you are embracing God’s presence this month. U.S. Addresses only please.

Doing Busy Better by Glynnis Whitwer.

P.S. The winners of last week’s giveaway were announced here.

About Doing Busy Better

In Doing Busy Better, Glynnis helps you examine your heart and your schedule in order to seek a healthy, holy, and enjoyable balance between work and rest. Most importantly, she shows you that your worth is found not in your accomplishments but in the love of the One who made you for work and for rest.

Glynnis Whitwer is the Executive Director of Communications at Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 950,000 daily readers. She is the author and co-author of 10 books, including her latest Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest. Glynnis, her husband Tod, have five young-adult children and live in Glendale, Arizona. She blogs at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com.

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November 6, 2017

When You Are Tempted – Suzie Eller Message and Giveaway

Hey friends! Before I introduce you to my friend, Suzie Eller, I’m announcing the winner of “Living So That” from last week’s giveaway. Thank you for taking the time to share your favorite verses to pray, and how you pray them. I will be copying many into my journal … so many good ones.

WINNER of “Living So That” is Lisa S. who posted on 10/31 at 9:19 p.m. Lisa, please e-mail me at deuteronomysix@aol.com with your full name and mailing address.

Okay, now it’s time to meet my friend and fellow Proverbs 31 Ministries author, Suzie Eller. She’s written a beautiful new devotional, “Come With Me: A Yearlong Adventure in Walking with Jesus.” After you read her post, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. You can find more about her devotional book by clicking here.

Incredibly Loved and Made for More

“When you are tempted, remind the enemy — and yourself — that you are incredibly loved and made for more. ~ Jesus”

We tend to think of temptation as BIG.  

When I think of temptation, I tend to think of BIG things. It’s cheating. It’s stealing something that’s not ours. It’s something news headline worthy, or at least fodder for local gossip.

Yet that’s not normally our greatest temptation. Instead, our greatest temptations come in ways that no one sees. We are tempted to discouragement. We are tempted to give up. We are tempted to look at ourselves and see a mess.

Those temptations may not be defined as BIG, but they pile up like mountains in our heart and thoughts. They get in the way of God’s best for us, and they trip us up.

Just this past week I was tempted.

No one saw it. If I wanted, I could push it down, down, down where I didn’t have to acknowledge it. Rather than be ashamed of temptation, the truth is we all struggle with it. If I pretend that I don’t, I’m lying to myself (and to you).

It started innocent enough. Richard and I were enjoying a rare night out together. He said something, and I disagreed. I pushed back, and so did he. Before we knew it, it sat between us like a boulder.

I was tempted to make him see it my way.

I was tempted to keep talking until he “got it.”

I was tempted to be angry when he didn’t.

I have to be honest. I was more than tempted. I caved in to all three of those things.

Don’t do it.

Oh, no. Not you! Not the Holy Spirit when I’m fully ready to cave in. After all, I’m right (even though he thinks he’s right).

So, I tried to compromise (because I was tempted, so more caving in).

Okay, I won’t say anything more.

I won’t try to make him see it my way. I’ll just be silent. Deafeningly silent. On the outside, we’ll look like the perfect couple enjoying a night out. Richard will reach for my hand, and I’ll hold it. I’ll nod and maybe say a word or two, but we’ll all be aware that I’m still angry. I’ll be so miserable that he’ll be miserable too.

Don’t do it.

There it was again. That invitation to take a different path. To resist temptation that seemed small, but Jesus knew had the power to create a divot in my heart (and relationship) if I chose.

Temptation isn’t reserved for a few. In Luke 4, the enemy tried to tempt Jesus. Some of the temptations were big, but others incredibly small. Jesus met each with the same response.

He faced the enemy head-on, declaring that His love for His Father was greater than a right-now temptation. He refused to be deceived by one who cared less about his Him, and more about the destruction of His soul.

Jesus understands how hard it is to be tempted. When we are tempted in any way, we are offered an invitation. We are invited to remind the enemy — and ourselves – that we are made for more.

That night I had a choice. First, to acknowledge that every temptation is BIG, when it filters into an enemy’s plan for my heart, or my marriage.

Second, to go the other direction of that temptation.

I reached for Richard’s hand, and said I was sorry.

I still felt I was “right,” but being right was less important than a right relationship with the guy I loved. He saw it one way. I saw it another. We are two different people, and that’s going to happen.

Sure, there are times we have to work through BIG conflict to find what is right for us as a family or in a relationship, but in this instance, it really was small. Even if I was right, it didn’t change anything.

However, realizing that I was made for more than a petty disagreement did change something – it changed me.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been tempted. It won’t be the last. We all face temptation.

Whether it’s BIG or incredibly small (in the eyes of the world), we are not without help when temptation comes our way.  And if we fail – because sometimes we all do – we won’t be tempted to give up or hide, because Jesus offers all of us forgiveness and a fresh start.

Are you tempted?

Look that temptation in the eye. Remind the author of it that you are incredibly loved, and made for more.

Suzie has a free gift for you:

“13 Prayers for Come With Me”, a free PDF to encourage you to accept the invitation to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Click here to subscribe and receive the PDF in your inbox.

Leave a comment for the giveaway

We would love to hear what tempts you and the truths that help you fight temptation. Suzie will choose one name to win a copy of her new devotional “Come with Me.”

Come With Me Devotional by Suzie Eller

Suzanne Eller (Suzie) has served Proverbs 31 Ministries for 10 years. She’s an author, international speaker and Bible teacher, top 100 Christian women’s blogger, and popular media guest. She loves nothing more than watching God work in the heart of a woman.

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February 20, 2017

Marriage Wisdom from Sharon Jaynes (w/Giveaway)

I’m excited to welcome my friend, Sharon Jaynes, to my blog today to share her new book, “A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage.” You will be blessed by her words of wisdom AND her GIVEAWAY! Read through to the end of the post for a chance to win a copy!

What do you do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ in your marriage?

Maybe you truly adored your husband in the beginning, but now you can’t remember why.

Maybe you honestly admired his finer qualities, but now you can’t remember what they were.

Maybe you appreciated his wonderful attributes, but now you take them for granted.

Between taking out the garbage, paying the bills, running the car pool, mowing the lawn, disciplining the kids, and folding the laundry, sometimes the passion of marriage gets lost. It happens to all of us at one time or another.

We can get so busy taking care of life that we forget to take care of love.

None of us got married so we could have a long list of chores. If you’re like me, most likely you got married because you were madly in-love and couldn’t imagine life without your man! You got married because your heart skipped a beat every time you laid eyes on him.

You couldn’t wait to tie the knot and build a life with this incredible person God had miraculously brought into your life. Maybe you still feel that way. But maybe you could use a little reminder—a re-stoking of the romance.

In the book of Revelation in the Bible, God had this to say to the church at Ephesus: “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).

Ephesus was one of the most loving churches in the New Testament, and yet somewhere along the way they lost that initial thrill of knowing Christ. Their love for each other and for God had grown cold.

So how do you get that lovin’ feelin’ back?

God gave the church two simple steps, and I believe we can apply them to our marriages as well. “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5, emphasis added).

Remember how it was in the beginning.

Return and do the things you did at first.

One day I took John’s words in Revelation to heart, and decided to remember and return by romancing my husband for fourteen days straight.

Can I tell you, I was a little bit nervous about it?

What if he thought I was silly?

What if he didn’t respond?

But I took a deep breath, push the fear aside, and began to romance my man like I did in the early days.

Every day wasn’t earth-shaking romance, even though there was some of that.

One day I simply put a sticky note on his bathroom mirror that said, “I love you.”

Another day I placed a box of Red Hot candy on his car seat with a note that said, “You’re a hottie.”

One morning I warmed up his towel in the dryer and had it ready when he got out of the shower.

And you know what happened? At the end of the fourteen days, Steve had a skip in his step and smile on his face like a Cheshire cat.

And what happened in me? I can hardly describe the love that welled up in me, as I loved my man well. Hear this…I changed.

I don’t have a big, bad personal story of how God took a terrible, tumultuous marriage and miraculously transformed it into a storybook romance filled with white-knight rescues, relentless romance, and rides into the sunset leaving all danger and darkness behind. Although our marriage has been all that at one time or another, it’s no fairy tale.

Our marriage is a daily journal, one page after another, one day after another. I’m guessing just like yours.

Some entries are smudged with tears; others are dog-eared as favorites.

Some days are marred by unsuccessful erasures that couldn’t quite rub away hurtful the words said; others are finger-worn by the reading of precious events time and time again.

But on those days when I see my marriage slipping back into the mundane cadence of passionless routine, I pull out my list of ideas, and put a smile on Steve’s face.

And that’s my challenge to you and to me today. When we see the fire needs stoking, remember and return. It may be a little scary at first, but be brave and begin!

What is one thing that you can do for your husband today to remind him of how much you love him?

Leave a comment and tell one thing that attracted you to your husband when you were dating. We’ll randomly pick one name and send a FREE copy of Sharon’s new book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage. I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday.

Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker, devotion writer for Girlfriends in God and Proverbs 31 Ministries, and author of 21 books. Her latest book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage will help you step out of the mundane routine of life and captivate your husband all over again. With encouraging stories, Biblical principles, and over 250 simple ideas on how to romance your husband, Sharon will show you how to put a smile on your husband’s face. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!