December, more than any other month of the year, is when we often presume that God’s peace and joy will be felt in our hearts automatically – simply because it is Christmas. Yet when the memories of hardships flood our thoughts, the light of the Christmas spirit can get snuffed out quicker than a candle in a whirlwind, making it a challenge to find a reason to celebrate at all.

I have always been known in my household as a “Christmas-aholic.” I begin playing my holiday CDs at the end of October, and as soon as the turkey is cold on Thanksgiving Day, I can be found buried in my attic, pulling out Christmas decorations. To say it is my favorite season would be a profound understatement.

However, 2011 has been a trying year for my family. It would probably rank as one of our hardest years ever. You see, my husband and I have walked through some difficult situations together. The ripple effects of the economic recession hit my husband’s company in full force, and we faced a new level of financial hardship. We have two teenage girls and one preteen boy living under our roof, so the stress and worry that comes from parenting can speak for itself! And to top it all off, the bad news broadcasted throughout the media every day can eventually become overwhelming.

As a result of those hard times my little light felt snuffed. I found myself desperately searching for the Christmas spirit that had once burned brightly in my heart. I began to pray and admit my feelings to God. He responded, saying, “Tracie, life IS hard. But My gifts alone are reasons to celebrate.”

God is right. Life is tough. John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (NLT). God makes it clear we will experience hard times, and who likes hard times? Yet, in the same breath, He reminds us there is peace in Him, for He has overcome the world.

God’s compassionate whisper prompted me to refocus my spiritual eyes on His gifts, instead of looking at life through my human eyes. Instead of only seeing the discouragement, disappointment and frustration of the past year, I began to consider all the blessings
I had experienced … not just tangible blessings, but intangible blessings as well.

Intangible blessings included witnessing my daughters come alive in their faith this past summer as they spent days and nights on mission trips and in worship experiences. Or seeing God work in my husband’s life and heart, intervening in our marriage in amazing ways.

I also experienced blessings such as my own increased faith as I surrendered to trusting God completely – even when I found it difficult to understand His plans and purposes.

In addition to what God was doing in my family, He also gave us three gifts found
in John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s gifts include:

• the gift of God’s love,

• the gift of God’s Son,

• and the gift of eternal life.

These precious gifts are given unconditionally. All we need to do is open our arms and accept them with hearts full of faith and gratitude.

Despite the hardships we have endured over the past year, or the hardships we may face in the coming year, I’m counting the reasons I have to celebrate. The world can never take away the gifts I’ve been given.

If your light feels snuffed today, or if the memories swirling in your thoughts are squelching your Christmas spirit, the One who has overcome the world can help you overcome those feelings.

You can reclaim your Christmas spirit this year by remembering that December is not a time to celebrate the Christmas holiday. It is a time to celebrate Christ, and the blessings found in His intangible gifts.

That, my friend, is a joyous reason to celebrate.

Tracie Miles is a speaker and writer with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband of 21 years and their three children. She loves spending time with her family, attending children’s ball games, writing, shopping, playing tennis and participating in any activity that involves being outdoors. She enjoys writing, speaking and sharing God’s love and encouragement with other women. You can connect with Tracie at

Answered Prayer

By Suzie Eller

As I held my newborn daughter close, I thanked God for the beautiful blue-eyed, wispy blond haired miracle. My next words were just as heartfelt. “Dear Lord,” I whispered, “please help me not mess this up.”

As far back as you can see in my family tree there are broken women. One generation after another handing down a battered piece of baggage, well-worn by time, as
if to say, “It’s all I’ve got to give. Here’s your legacy. Hope it works better for you.”

When I was growing up, my mother dug deep into that legacy. It simply wasn’t enough. Her first child was born when she was only 16. She married a man who didn’t treat her right. One divorce, a remarriage and six children later she struggled with suicidal thoughts and a plethora of emotional lows and highs. Some days were normal. Others chaotic and frightening. My mother’s brokenness was fracturing me.

In high school a friend told me God was real. Hurting, angry, distrustful, I wasn’t sure if it was true, and yet somehow God worked His way past my damaged heart. That day nothing at home changed, but everything began to change inside me.

A few years later I was a young wife and new mom. When I prayed I wasn’t asking God for a perfect home, but a family filled with laughter, a stable home, and a life saturated with His love.

He answered that prayer, over and over again. It wasn’t easy becoming the mom I wanted to be, but I discovered with God’s help it is possible to grow a new branch of your family tree.

Let Go of the Past

To be the mom I wanted to be, I had to let go of the past. It could either be an anchor that kept me stuck, or I could discover who I was in spite of the past. To let go meant I needed to forgive.

Forgiving the past wasn’t easy in the beginning. But if I truly wanted to give my children something greater, I couldn’t hand them a legacy of unresolved anger or hurt. Forgiving didn’t make the events of the past acceptable, but it did allow me to look at the events through the eyes of an adult, rather than a child.

Forgiving was a choice – one that I made often. Sometimes I forgave only to pick up the resentment again. Even after my mother began to heal, I still struggled. Each time I struggled, my Heavenly Father asked me to let go … of the hurt … of anger. With time, I began to see my mother through the eyes of grace. But more powerfully, I started living fully in the present. The past no longer weighed me down.

Unpack Your Legacy

When I looked in my tattered baggage I saw a legacy of alcoholism, rage, an inability to handle conflict, fear, lack of confidence, and so much more.
It was time to start unpacking.

First, I had to be honest with myself. Was I carrying a version of this legacy into my present relationships? One trait that ran in my family tree is that when times get hard, the women in my family “run, baby, run.” For my grandmother, the inability to handle conflict meant that she abandoned her children for a week or two at a time. For my mother, it was threats of suicide. For me? I brushed it under the rug. I avoided fights at all costs, even if the unresolved conflict loomed as large as a mountain.

A parenting or relational pattern may not be as damaging in the next generation, but if we allow any version of it in our relationships, it’s still an unhealthy legacy. I had to learn that even normal families have conflict and learn to resolve conflict in a healthy way.

Grace, Grace, Beautiful Grace

As I sat down to write “The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future,” my mother and I talked through every chapter. We sat side-by-side and she told me stories of her own mother and the effect she had on her. She shared how it felt to be a mom long before she was ready. She explained how she desperately wanted to be a good mom, but no one had showed her how.

It created a new chapter in our relationship as I viewed our story through her eyes.
For some of you, the things you went through as a child were horrific. In no way am I saying that it is acceptable, but often, even after a person has changed, we hold them tight in the fist of their mistakes.

Sometimes grace is reconciliation. Sometimes it’s foregoing the need to punish for the past. In some cases it’s keeping your distance (if the unhealthy patterns continue) as you pray for God’s best for that person. Whatever it looks like in your unique situation, the end result is compassion.

Fill the Gaps

There were serious gaps in my mothering and relationship skills. Parenting books helped. Watching other mothers whom I respected showed me new ways to parent. Not being afraid to ask for help was key, but faith was also a valuable tool. You see, God knows me best. He didn’t see me through the eyes of my past, but recognized all the qualities He had so tenderly placed inside of me from the very beginning. There were moments I went into a dark room, saying, “God, I don’t have a clue. Will You show me the way?”

In those moments He gave me much-needed grace. As I walked back into the role of mom to three young children, He let me know that while the past shaped me, it didn’t define me, or what He could do through me. That grace also revealed the type of mom I could be, with His help.

One year ago I held another beautiful girl in my arms. My granddaughter Elle was born a blue-eyed blonde, just like her momma. When I held her for the first time I couldn’t help but acknowledge that 28 years earlier a young mother’s prayer had been answered powerfully. As far back as little Elle can see all that she will find is a healthy family tree.

I wasn’t a perfect mom. I made mistakes. But my home was a place of laughter and stability. It was a home wrapped in God’s love. It’s still the place I love to be.

Suzie Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries writer and speaker. She is the author of “The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future.” She hosts a thriving group of moms at She is a mom, wife and Gramma to the people she loves best! Connect with Suzie at

To-Do Lists Never Satisfy

by Glynnis Whitwer

By 9 a.m. this morning I was already overwhelmed. Deadlines loomed, laundry piled and my to-do list screamed. Two responses battled for attention:

1) Just start doing something on my list … preferably something easy.
2) Do something completely different, like play solitaire.

When my panicked instincts take over, I become a micro-manager. Instead of bringing focus to my work, I shift and shuffle the tasks before me.

Thankfully, I’ve got a deeper river of motivation: my priorities. It’s how I stepped back this morning to a place of simple, calm focus. Does it always happen? No. Sometimes I jump into the fray with both feet. Usually those days end with me shrugging my shoulders and wondering why nothing got done. It’s like going to the grocery store, spending $100 and having nothing for dinner.

Planning my day based on God’s priorities for me gives me a much greater sense of peace and purpose. My days can still fall apart, but they are less frequent.
Although there’s satisfaction in checking items off a to-do list, mundane work can easily fill our days. Then we find ourselves looking in the past, wondering where the time went. Weeks, months and years fly by, “If only” sprinkles our conversations, and we establish patterns of regret.

Can we know God’s will?

The Bible makes it clear we can avoid this type of reactive life and know God’s will. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Based on Scripture, we can know God’s priorities for us. However, there are two conditions:

• Not conforming to the pattern of the world.
• Being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The pattern of this world will obscure God’s priorities for us every time, because it creates a self-centered life — one in which we consistently choose the ways of this world. That typically means following our own desires, regardless of whether they line up with God’s desires.

Ephesians 2:1-3a explains in greater detail:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.”

We live among parallel kingdoms constantly in a spiritual battle for our hearts. When we weave between the two kingdoms – choosing between the ways of the world and God’s ways – our hearts are divided. A divided heart always faces confusion.

Years ago my own life reflected this conflict. Even as a committed Christian, I didn’t understand the need to seek God’s will above my own. For years I pursued priorities that took me further spiritually from where God wanted me. My inner struggle resulted in frustration and annoyance, which often spilled out onto those I loved.

Outsiders might have looked at my priorities years ago and thought they “looked” good. My resume included a career in public relations, serving on non-profit boards, leading ministries at church, singing on the praise team, and spearheading exciting projects. It was a full and productive life. Just not the one God had in mind for me.

My mind was stuck on me – my career, my plans, my needs. Apparently I needed an earthquake to get unstuck. Once that happened through a cross-country move, it didn’t take long to see the truth – about myself and my life. God sweetly began the process of renewing my mind, a process which continues to this day.

When I seek God’s priorities and not my own, renewing happens and clarity follows. Like a dancer who focuses on one point while twirling – I maintain balance no matter what swirls around me.

How to determine priorities

One way I evaluate if I’m living according to God’s priorities is to work through a set of questions. By taking the time to process them, I press the pause button for a few moments and reposition myself to a peaceful place outside the fray.

What can only I do?
What has God entrusted to me?
Am I a good steward of what I already have?
What has God asked me to do that I haven’t done yet?
What passion (or dream) has God put in my heart?

My questions always start with an evaluation of how I’m doing with the responsibilities I already have. If I’m neglecting the priorities God has given me, I’m not ready for new ones.

Once you have a clear vision for your priorities, don’t be surprised if it takes time to work it out. You may have to resign from certain responsibilities in order to fulfill others. Crafting your schedule to reflect your priorities takes prayer and ongoing revisions.

All this to say, it isn’t easy. To be a woman who lives according to priorities, I frequently check my motives. I choose to pull my heart back to a place of submission when I want to run ahead. I’m learning to wait on God’s confirmation of something rather than challenging Him to stop me. It’s a completely different way of thinking than I had 15 years ago. But it’s brought more peace – in my life and the life of my family – than any to-do list ever could.

Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Senior Editor of the “P31 Woman” magazine. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 350,000 daily readers. Her newest book, “I Used to Be So Organized,” was just released. Glynnis, her husband Tod, and their teenagers live in Glendale, Arizona. Visit or to learn more.

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A Simple Christmas
by Sharon Glasgow

This past year our family encountered more financial hardship than ever before. We desperately sought God for answers and provision, and He provided both. While we listened for His answers, we believed He was telling us to rent our cozy home to in-training missionaries we knew needed an affordable place to live. We moved out of our house and into a one-room dwelling on our farm so they could move in.

This wasn’t our first choice for how God would provide. This provision included sacrifice and living differently than ever before. When our kids heard we were moving, the first thing they asked about was our annual family Christmas celebration.

At first, I too was concerned we wouldn’t have our home. But then I remembered Jesus left His home. He traded comfort for something that paled in comparison - all for a greater purpose. Jesus left the portals of glory, the very throne of God, the kingdom of Heaven, and the presence of His Father, to be born to a poor family in a common barn with animals. He wasn’t born to just any poor family, but one of the weakest clans of Israel. There was no pomp or pageantry when He was born; He had nothing but strips ofcloth to cover His body. Mary didn’t get to order her favorite meal after the delivery or have the luxury of a comfortablebed to rest in that night.

When they returned home, there were no balloons or people waiting to celebrate His birth. In fact, many in their small town thought Jesus was illegitimate.

As a young man, He never acquired wealth or reputation. He even considered himself homeless, with nowhere to lay His head. In His final days, He was rejected, mocked and tortured before being crucified. His entire life was one of sacrifice and obedience for His Father.

When I thought about everything Jesus sacrificed to come to earth, it made me embarrassed about my own expectations for a traditional Christmas. For so many years, I packed December so full I barely had time to reflect on the simplicity of the real story of Jesus’ birth. It’s a story of sacrifice and simplicity from beginning to end. Remembering the reality of Jesus’ birth and His God-centered life assured me our move was God’s provision.

The past few years have been hard. God has reminded me of a winepress. Repeated crushing is crucial to producing fine wine. Sometimes God allows us to go through repeated crushing to press us into His greater purpose.

This Christmas is different. We will set aside many traditions, such as a big decorated tree and gingerbread houses sitting in a row. Instead, we will celebrate Christmas more joyfully and humbly than ever before. We are learning that the hardest circumstances are often the things that push us into His greater purpose for our lives. To celebrate Jesus’ birth, we will go to the barn, scatter clean hay on the ground, read the Nativity story, eat a simple supper and thank God for what He has taught us this year about provisions and sacrifice.

Next year, Lord willing, we will move back into our house. As a memorial to what the Lord has taught us, we will once again celebrate a simple Christmas, focused on Jesus’ birth. Maybe we’ll light a candle, read the prophecies of Jesus’ birth and the Gospelaccount on the floor near a window. Maybe we will look out at the stars and sleep on the floor with few provisions or comfort. Maybe we will eat crackers and drink grape juice together in remembrance of
everything Jesus lived and died for.

May you and your family press into God this Christmas. May you experience His peace and answers. Though His provisions might come with sacrifice, when you follow God’s leading, they always bring you into His greater purpose.

Sharon Glasgow is a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She a wife and mother of five beautiful daughters, she lives on a farm in Northern Virginia .

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What Makes a Family?
by LeAnn Rice

Thirteen years ago, I watched as a hospital bed was rolled into my living room. What an unlikely place for a bed. What an unlikely bed for my husband. Ron was young, athletic, my best friend, the love of my life and the absolute joy of our three-year-old son, Nick. How could this be?

Fragile days of hearing his raspy breathing became my “in between.” Life would soon be defined with the painful qualifiers of “before Ron died” and “after Ron died.” I hated that. I wanted to make these in between days rich with last conversations, last kisses and last memories. But Ron’s condition deteriorated too quickly and every “last” slipped by without regard to my desperate heart. Then I was alone.

Questions nagged. How would I raise our little boy alone? Who would play catch with him? Who would teach him to shave? Who would model a good husband and father to him?

Most people have a close support network … a soft place to land when facing such a loss. Not me. Physical distance separated me from my mother and in-laws, and differences in viewpoints created emotional distances with other family members. As a result, my landing place felt more like shards of glass. And it hurt.

Everything hurt.

Everything cut deeply with no concern for me being very alone.

Since then, I’ve walked through valleys I never thought I could survive. But I did. Finally, love for my son, Nick, helped me move on.

It broke my heart to think of spending holidays alone without family around. There would be no big birthday celebrations, and Thanksgiving dinner is quiet with just two. I missed the big traditional holiday celebrations. I even missed the noise and the mess. I didn’t want Nick to grow up without those memories. Clearly, we needed a family. But it wasn’t going to look like a traditional family.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in those 13 years is that marriage certificates and blood relation are not the only things that make a family. Over the years, God sent people to fill the empty spaces in our lives and in our hearts. But I didn’t let them in easily.

When you experience a tragic loss due to death or betrayal, it is hard to trust again. I was certain that any investment of my heart would return void. But there was one thing stronger than my fear of being hurt … my fear of betrayal … my fear of loss. I was motivated by my love for a little brown-haired boy who needed godly male influence, and a loving family with whom to celebrate life’s events – big and small.

God saw our needs, and over time, brought different people into our lives, each filling an empty space left by death, betrayal or simply the physical distance of 2,800 miles. I faced my fear of being hurt again, and slowly cracked open the door of my heart to allow these amazing people in.
Somehow God created a family by knitting our hearts together. My small “family” consists of people who love each other unconditionally, support and encourage each other, sit beside each other’s hospital beds, hold each other accountable and share in every achievement, failure and pain.

Do we look alike? Not so much. But we do share the same heart. Thankfully, God has given me a soft place to land.

LeAnn Rice is the Executive Director of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and her son, Nick, make their home in North Carolina with their very high-maintenance cat, Angel (name not appropriate). LeAnn shares her life, laughs, family stories and yummy recipes through her two blogs: A Widow's Might and She Cooks.

To read more about LeAnn’s “family” the different ways God has filled the empty spaces in her life, and for ways you can reach out to others and create your own “family,” visit Proverbs 31 Ministries and click on Everyday Life.

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Purses, Prayers, Priorites
by Shari Braendel

A few summers ago I walked into a department store and saw the purse of all purses. Oh, let me tell you, this bag was the most amazing of bags! It was the biggest, grandest, most beautiful Coach bag I had ever seen.

I asked the sales associate to unlock it from its case. You see, this bag was so expensive and grandiose it needed to be put behind glass doors. The sales associate went on to tell me that she had just gone to a training class where they said if you were ever lost in the desert, this bag would certainly be all you would need! It could hold a small child if necessary, I am not kidding you! I was impressed.

For weeks, all I could think about was that purse. I would go to sleep and wake up thinking about how amazing this purse would look with my outfits. I even dreamed about it one night. One morning I was having my quiet time and as I was praying, I heard God whisper to my heart: “I don’t care if they GIVE you that purse, you can’t have it.”

“Excuse me, God,” I replied. “Did you just tell me I can’t have that beautiful, amazing, large purse that I might need if I’m ever stuck in the desolate, dry desert?”

“Yes, Shari, you cannot have that purse, even if they give it to you,” God answered.

I was dumbfounded. Why would God care if I had that purse or not? Then I understood. I was spending more time obsessing about that bag than obsessing about Him.

A few weeks later, I was speaking with a woman outside a church when I heard God instruct me to give her my purse. Another conversation ensued.

“What?” I said.

“Give her your purse,” He answered.

“But God, I like this purse. You said I couldn’t have the other purse, and as a matter of fact, I just cleaned out my closet and I have two other really nice purses I can give her, but not this one, okay, God?”

“Give her your purse.”

Now mind you, this entire conversation was going on in my head as I was attempting to have a conversation with her. I excused myself, went to my car, dumped the contents of my purse in the back seat, went back and handed her my purse. “God told me to give you this,” I said.

She burst into tears and told me she was a single mom with three children, and couldn’t afford a new purse. When she discovered my expertise in fashion, she had hidden her purse on the chair next to her because it embarrassed her. Here I was, giving her a purse that looked like new to her.

God knows me and purses, and obviously wanted to teach me a few lessons. To do so, He used a couple of them to drive the point home. I often say purses are my Jesus love language! It must have been the other woman’s love language, too, because He certainly made her happy with one.

About a month later, I received a phone call from the manager of a local department store. She told me to come by the store because they wanted to give me a gift. You guessed it! She told me I could choose any handbag in the whole department!

Now remember, God had told me I couldn’t have that particular Coach bag, EVEN if someone gave it to me. So, I took my husband along to guard the Coach department so I wouldn’t be tempted! And guard he did. As the Coach sales associate was waving me toward her to see her beautiful bags, my husband told her, “I’m sorry, she can’t cross into this department; God told her she can’t have a big Coach bag!”

She looked at him like he had two heads and just shook her own. Isn’t God amazing? He didn’t mind if I had a purse, in fact, He didn’t even care if it was an expensive one. What mattered to God was that I had my heart right.

Shari Braendel, of Proverbs 31 Ministries, is the author of Good Girls Don't have to Dress Bad: A Style Guide for Every Women . This full-color style and fashion guide is the first of its kind in the Christian marketplace. Shari helps you develop your unique style by teaching you how to dress for your body shape, what colors to wear, how to find the perfect jeans and swimsuit and much more. For your free on-line color analysis, visit and find out what colors are best for you!

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The Value of Time Together
by Tracie Miles

“Our family is better than cable!” my son exclaimed from the back seat of the car. He laughed hysterically and flopped around in his seat, which made me laugh too!

When my son made this assessment of the comedic value of our family, my three kids and I were riding in the car. We filled our entire trip with laughter, jokes, silly stories and funny faces.

As odd as it may sound, some of our most precious times together are in the car. There’s something special about everyone trapped in that small space, and forced to touch each other. It seems we find ways to get along and spend quality time together. I love those pure, sweet family moments. At times like that, when life seems simple and carefree, my heart is full of happiness. Those are the times I am reminded how much of a blessing they are to me.

However, there also are “those times” when I have to remind myself of the blessings as I face over-flowing to-do lists, schedules, laundry baskets and mood swings from all said persons living in the Miles household. Those are the times when I feel underappreciated, fatigued and frustrated.

You know what I’m talking about - those days when you find yourself dreaming of escaping to a private island, with nothing more than an icy drink and a lounge chair. That’s when I become acutely aware of my need for God’s help to get through the day with love and patience, and keep my priorities intact.

Regardless of whether our family is having a wonderful or trying time, the most important thing is we are together. I believe time is the most precious gift we can ever give to our children.
Because we live in a society that thrives on busyness and over-commitment, it is harder than ever to make time for family. In fact, some families who love each other dearly spend very little time together, simply because they get occupied with working, doing good things or extra-curricular activities.

In other situations, families may be in the same house at the same time, but still not together. IPods, internet, television, email, Facebook, texting and cell phones are just a few of the distractions that keep us from focusing on meaningful togetherness.

Yet for some, family time seems like a distant memory. Life got busy, priorities shifted, children grew, and the pulls of daily life consumed most waking moments. The sad truth is the traditional American family is in crisis, and in turn, many families get caught up doing life for their families, and forget to do life with their families. Research has proven that dedicated family time, or the lack thereof, can make or break a family unit, and even something as simple as family meals in the evenings can have a huge impact on the security and happiness of a child or teenager.

Recently in my daily Bible reading, I came across Leviticus 23:10, where the Lord said to Moses, “… Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest’” (NASB).

God spoke to my heart as I read that verse, gently reminding me of the importance of giving Him our best in everything we do, including our faith, marriages and families.

So I began to ask myself regularly, Am I giving my first fruits to God every day? Often, I hesitantly answered with an honest “no.” I had to admit there were plenty of days when I got busy, distracted or frazzled and fell short of giving Him my best.

Then, I took that same principle and asked myself if I gave my best effort to my family every day. Again, my honest answer was “no.” Although I always intend to make them a priority in my life, admittedly, there have been times when I have put others needs above those of my own family. Sometimes I have given my sweetest attitude to people outside my family, while exhibiting a lack of patience and tolerance with my own husband and children. Other times I have been willing to go out of my way to help someone else, but felt resentful when I had to do the same for my husband or children. There have also been times when I was just too tired from a stressful day to sit down and play a not-so-quick game of Monopoly.

God calls us as Christians and as parents to prioritize both our faith and our families, and not give our leftover energy, love or time to either.

Life is busy, but time is something we can never get back. We need to seize the moments in every season of our lives, and focus on how often we are giving that sweet, priceless gift of our time, ensuring that our best is given to God and the people that matter most.

No matter how busy our lives may be, time devoted to our families, regardless of our children’s ages, is time well spent. By spending time with them on a frequent basis, we are not only teaching them important life lessons about priorities, but we are giving a precious gift they cannot receive from anyone else.

And who knows, as you focus on spending more time together as a family, your kids might even begin to think that your family is better than cable too.

Tracie has been married to her husband Michael for 20 years and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tracie believes motherhood is her highest calling, and her greatest treasures are her three children, Morgan, Kaitlyn and Michael. Tracie is a speaker and author with Proverbs 31 Ministries, and shares God’s love and promises to women’s groups across the country, inspiring women and teens to be passionate about God’s plans for their lives. You can learn more about Tracie and how to book her for an upcoming event at your church or organization at

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