Even Then

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Hello, readers. I hope you all have been doing well. I feel like it’s time for me to give a life update to any of you who still follow me. If you’ve read my blogs often, you’ve probably heard me mention anxiety and depression. Today I just want to talk a little bit about my continued journey with that and what’s up in life.

So back in March I moved out-of-state, away from my family. I felt like I had been in a particular season of struggle, loneliness, and lack of community for a long, long time, and God was now calling me out of it.

It all really started when I went to the Cross conference back in January of 2019. I started seriously praying about moving. I backed out, in a decision made in fear. But about seven months later, the idea of moving was put on my heart again. I pretty much made up my mind to go. But the time wasn’t quite right yet. So I waited. Another seven, prayer-filled months ensued…filled with days of deep faith, and also days of deep fear and depression. Some days I felt like I could hardly keep my head above the “water”. I kept going back to 1 Peter 5:6-11, which had long been on my heart. I even memorized it. Amidst the struggle, God provided beautifully right where I was at – no outward circumstances changed. But I truly believed that He was calling me out of those circumstances slowly but surely, and into a time of healing where He would more firmly establish His purposes for me.

1 Peter 5:6-11

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

So, my tentative plan was to move spring 2020. But as spring drew near, my anxiety grew. I desperately needed a new car. I had no job lined up in my place of destination. I wasn’t 100% comfortable about a living situation. And I didn’t want to make this trip alone – I’m a nervous driver. How was I going to do this?? Was I really ready for this? Was I running away? What if my depression overcame me in a new place away from my family and comfort of familiarity?

I even had a woman tell me that she thought I shouldn’t move and God was telling her all these things about my life contradictory to what I was thinking. In that moment, though, as I prayed through fear, I felt a boldness rise up in my spirit. As if God through His Holy Spirit was prompting me: Tell her what God has been telling you. How He’s been confirming this move through prayer, your godly counselors, Scripture, and sermons. Don’t be tossed about by every wind and wave that comes your way. Be steadfast. Don’t doubt the Lord’s work in your life. Don’t doubt what He’s been growing a pleasing faith for in you.

So I did. And I kept praying. And committing this to God. And seeking godly counsel. And I surrendered this into my Father’s hands. “Make it happen, Lord.”

Within a couple weeks of really surrendering, a cousin offered to drive me and haul all my belongings. My living situation was established. And I had peace and hope that God was going to provide all that I needed – including a car and job. (Matthew 6:25-34)

I was officially moving March 17th. It felt good to have a set date.

A day before I was supposed to get on the road, all the covid-19 stuff started really blowing up. That night people were literally whispering about a national lock-down. I had my few minutes of freaking out. But there was no turning back now. Did I believe God has opened up the doors for this? Yes! I was going to do this! No more wavering and weakness. I was taking the leap of faith in obedience and leaving the rest in God’s hands. So be it.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

So I moved. Shortly thereafter, social distancing and shelter-in-place happened. But God provided so abundantly even through these strange times.

And by the end of March, I had a car! April 6th, I started a job at a grocery store! Wow! It was so stunning to see God do above and beyond what I expected. Demolish my fears. Grow my faith. He is my provider.

An even bigger blessing is the way He has gifted me with incredibly sweet and deep friendships, and kind, wise spiritual mentors. Rich, faith community in a way that I’ve never experienced it before. I got a taste of it at the Cross conference. And now I’m here in the midst of it. I marvel at the group of godly young people the Lord has established here and I nearly weep at the thought of how He in His Fatherly love has settled me among them.

John 15:7-8

7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

God answers prayers, indeed. I’ve talked often on this blog about how important I believe a tight-knit, sound, loving church and authentic fellowship is. How deeply I long for friends who grow my affection for Christ. How much I need spiritual leadership. I’ve shared how I’ve been petitioning God for such things in my life. So let this be a testimony to you, my dear readers. God answered. I am overwhelmed by what He has poured into my life.

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

I have recently been able to actually meet for church on Sundays and I already feel at home. This small, solid, loving, Christ-exalting church is what I have prayed for. The pastor is such a spiritual leader/mentor for me already. And again, I can only marvel at God’s goodness and faithful hand in my life.

Oh, how He loves His children.

I don’t believe I have ever felt so loved, belonging, sheltered, and cared for. This is faith community. This is fellowship. This is doing life together. This is encouraging each other in the Lord. This is making much of His name together. Already I have such an affection for my church family.

It does my soul good to recount this journey of faith and ponder my God’s grace toward me. To remember all the prayers He’s answered in such a short time and where He’s brought me!

Luke 12:32

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

In many ways, I’ve moved out of my season of struggle and into a time of being enfolded into a dear flock of brothers and sisters in Christ.

But in other ways, I struggle on. This is life.

Depression and anxiety come for me periodically, without fail. Almost always they linger in the dark, back corners of my heart and mind. And some weeks, even here amidst a dear church family, I feel near hopeless and my thoughts scream for me to escape myself. For days, I try to get away from the dark cloud, but it lingers and heavily oppresses.

Today I am perhaps coming out of one such week. Glimpsing the light! I spent all afternoon at a park, walking and talking with God. And yesterday evening I was out on the water, kayaking, which seems to be very good for my soul.

The darkness that plagues me is every bit as black even after moving. As I knew it would be. But still, it makes a tremendous impact on me when my pastor pulls me aside Sunday morning after church and listens to my heart and prays over me. And when several others express care and concern and also pray.

See, life is full of troubles. But to have a community of believers to walk alongside you and bear your burdens with you brings deeper hope.

We are His, and Christ is ours forevermore.

So I fight on through depression/anxiety. And I pray for victory. And I know I already have victory. I will not be overcome, because of Christ. I claim the joy that is mine because I am His. The joy of the LORD is my strength.

I do not – can not – give up because of the Holy Spirit within me and the eternal joy and goodness that awaits me. Christ is mine and I am His. And nothing can change that, no matter how numb and “feeling-less” I feel. No matter how the darkness and questioning press. Now matter how the hopelessness and panic squeeze my soul.

I cling to Truth.

And I lift my hands and worship God for Him. And praise Him for putting me here and giving me these people.

This week I’ve been blessed to have trusted friends who listen to me talk and process and agonize and talk some more over this thing I face. They empathize, and pray, and turn my gaze to my precious Jesus. I’ve been blessed to be out on the water – it is soothing and still. I’ve been blessed to go alone to a park and spend hours talking aloud to God – pouring out my heart, reading Scripture, quoting memorized passages, doing devotions, writing,  calling my mom and sister, and practicing disc-golf.

In the midst of depression, I often feel like I’m never going to find my way out. I know that’s not true – I always do come out. But yet it always comes back. I get so sick of it. I become panicky at the thought of fighting one wave after another for the rest of my life.

In the darkness I oftentimes feel like a really bad Christian. A failure. Spiritually immature. I wonder if I’ve been doing something wrong and this is God turning His back. I fear I am too much of a burden for people.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And yet God brings me through again and again and I find my joy again. And I see His work in my life. And I see the purposes He has for me. And I feel His face shine upon me. And my heart is filled with passion and love, and I rest in His embrace. He is my desire.

I still pray for victory over this … healing. But in the meantime, may my Lord’s power be on display in the face of my extreme weakness. May the dark days increase my dependence on Him. May the numb mornings make me long ever more for the day when I will be more alive than I have ever been – when He returns. Then I will be made whole. I will know and be fully known. I will feel perfect love and love perfectly. There will be no more questioning or tears or darkness. I will be truly united with the Lover of my soul.

May you grow in this hope with me.

❤ Lady Grace

Psalm 34:1-5

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing

Book Review: What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles

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What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles

My Personal Review ~ 4 stars

Cindy K. Sproles certainly knows how to write an unexpected adventure. I’d only read one other book of hers before What Momma Left Behind, but I wasn’t worried about this book boring me. Cindy’s writing style is so unique and different, it’s bound to capture you in one way or another.

I was transported back to 1877, in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. Worie Dressar is a tough, seventeen-year-old, mountain girl. She’s used to the hardship of her people’s way of life, but with influenza and typhoid snuffing out lives left and right, the burden on her shoulders becomes heavier than she thinks she can carry.

Worie was a unique character. Her battle with bitterness, anger, grief, love, and faith was thought-provoking and moving to watch unfold … The emotions. The relationships. The tragedy. The hope. The love. It was intense. My heart was especially touched seeing her heart change with the children as this story progressed. It was so tender and deep. I really loved how things turned out – it was profound and filled with purpose.

But there was at least one thing about the story that I really struggled with. *Spoilers* A faith-filled woman who commits suicide. I wrestle over that, because if you’re in the Word daily and pressing into the Lord, how can you not know that He bought you at a high price – yes, His own blood! – and that your life is not in your hands to take? You are not your own. Because of despair or self-sacrifice, suicide is not right, and I struggled with how this book portrayed it. It is so grievous and such a heavy subject. My heart aches for those who have lost someone to suicide or struggle with suicidal thoughts, and I think we have to be so careful how we approach this topic. Your life is precious and sacred and belongs to God.

So in many ways, What Momma Left Behind was raw and harsh … perhaps much like the mountain life back then. There were a lot of awful things that happened. But there was also such a beautiful, redemptive aspect to this tale. Where love triumphs. Where faith runs deep even in the brokenness. A well-done story. I sincerely look forward to reading more Cindy K. Sproles.

I received a complimentary copy of What Momma Left Behind from Revell Publishers. This review is my own, honest thoughts.

Book Review: A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

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A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

My Personal Review ~ 4 stars

A Mosaic of Wings is another enjoyable, Christian historical romance novel. And it definitely had it’s unique aspects that set it apart. I found myself transported to another era and culture … which is always a delight.

Set in the late 1800s, this story focuses on Nora Shipley, a young woman going to college for entomology and trying to find her purpose in life. It explores father/daughter relationships, and we walk alongside Nora in grief, bitterness, confusion, hurt … and hope. Friendship, faith, conviction, and love blossom on an exciting trip to India.

I really liked getting to know these characters. Nora was a little harsh and headstrong at times, but there were also moments when we saw her heart softened and heard her apologies. The complexities of some of the relationships were intriguing and thought-provoking. I loved the depth and the hard decisions made in India – and the ultimate beauty coming from destruction and chaos.

There were some aspects of the book that got a little edgy in my opinion. Feminism was pushed a bit. Some sinful behaviors and attitudes seemed to go unchecked.

But overall it was a good read. A touching historical fiction. I enjoyed learning more about butterflies and insects, journeying through Indian forests, and watching Nora grow.

I received a complimentary copy of A Mosaic of Wings from Bethany House Publishers. This review is honest and my own. 

To Be A Sweet Fragrance

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I want to be liked. I want to be affirmed. I want people to enjoy being around me. I want to have something special to add to the world.

As a teenager and even into my adult years, I was severely insecure and self-conscious. I was never part of the inner circle … felt like I was always on the outside looking in. I was awkward and shy, and worst of all, I wasn’t anything special. Nothing about me or my abilities made me stand out. I often felt overlooked. And when I was noticed, I stammered and blushed and felt stupid.

There was always this longing inside. I wanted to belong – to be wanted!

Over the past couple years I’ve worked through a lot of these insecurities and have even become a part of some “inner circles”! It’s an incredibly sweet thing, I must say.

But I still find myself drifting to that insecure place deep in my heart at times. I wonder if I’m being real and if I was being real would people still like me?

People say I’m sweet. But am I really sweet inside? Or is that just how I come across because I’m quiet when I’m first getting to know people?

Am I truly calm, kind, wise, mature, sweet, and happy? Or are those just fronts I find easy to put on for a day … but would fade with time and show that I hide an unstable, unlikable person inside? Maybe my true self is actually more critical, tumultuous, selfish, prideful, and passionate to a fault?

I’m afraid that time will reveal my true colors and people’s admiration or liking of me will ebb and vanish. And I’ll be alone again.

So there’s that.

And now here’s what I believe God’s been teaching me.

I do hold a lot of ugliness inside. I am a fallen, broken, sinful human being. I am selfish, prideful, critical, tumultuous, and can be intense/passionate to a fault. I have a big capacity to hurt people and drive them from me. I walked in darkness, and at times it shadows me still.

But there’s a beautiful part to follow … I am also a new creation in Christ! As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

  • Made in the image of God, as it says in Genesis 1:27: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
  • A child of light, as it says in Ephesians 5:8-10: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
  • Of a special people, as it says in 1 Peter 2:9-10: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
  • Christ’s ambassador here on earth, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21: Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Holy and beloved, as it says in Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
  • Cleansed, as it says in Hebrews 9:14: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

So on one hand I am at war with my old self. And I don’t have much to offer when I’m letting my old self get the upper hand. If I try to be liked, worthy, acceptable, and beautiful to people around me, I struggle and strive in vain. Because I’m broken! And my broken edges often wound and push people away.

But on the other hand, when I press into Christ and my identity in Him, I do have something to offer and there is something beautiful about me.

Psalm 127:1-2

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

And people can affirm Christ in me! This is glorifying to God.

Because truly, without Christ I am not a pretty picture. But with His Holy Spirit within me, radiant things spring forth! The fruit of the Spirit starts blooming in my life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

And when people affirm those qualities in me, I can rejoice without fear, knowing that God is working out this loveliness in me and it is good.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I (and you) don’t have to struggle to be liked, accepted, affirmed, and wanted. We don’t have to fear that the real us is unacceptable.

Because in Christ, the real us is beloved. Dearly loved children of God. And He will finish the work He started in us. And He has prepared good works in advance for us to do them. And the Holy Spirit does dwell within us. And we are new creations. And it is beautiful and worthy to be affirmed.

Ah. To be a child of God. To be a daughter of the Most High. To be chosen. Pursued. Adopted. Cherished. To be Christ’s representative here on earth. To be part of the Bride of Christ! To be the fragrance of Christ to those around me.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

It is incredible. I don’t deserve this. These titles.

But I find myself in sweet wonder wanting to grow in those identities. And I no longer desire so desperately to be liked, and fear so deeply being rejected, but I long for people to see and affirm God in me.

And I have this faith that as I keep growing in the Lord and living in His Word and walking by the Spirit, they will and they do.

And this is an identity I don’t have to fear losing because it is Christ doing the work in me. I can rejoice when people say I’m kind or sweet or wise or steady because this is the Spirit within me. This is God’s work in me. Glory be to His name! He is worthy! He is good! He is faithful.

How rich and sweet it is to belong to Jesus Christ and to His Church.

So, dear brother or sister in Christ, do not fear being unwanted. Recognize your identity in Christ. Recognize the Spirit’s work in your life. Press into the Lover of your soul and delight to spread the beautiful fragrance of Christ wherever you go. ❤

My pastor recommended a book to me called “Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God” by Sam Crabtree and it talks a lot about the idea of affirming the character of God in others and wanting to be affirmed in Christ. It’s been an amazing read so far and I highly recommend!

Walk forth in grace, dear readers!

 

 

Movie Review: Unplanned

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Unplanned

~ My Personal Review ~

I am so torn up inside right now. I knew this movie was going to be hard to watch, but I didn’t quite realize to what extent. The gruesome, shocking reality of abortion is portrayed in a very raw way in Unplanned. It left me so deeply shaken, yet I want everyone to see this film so our eyes are opened to the real battle for life in front of us, and the butchery that goes on in clinics like Planned Parenthood. It is truly unfathomable. The fear. The lies. The deception. The money. The blood. The evil. There is a spiritual war here that is enormous.

Unplanned is based on the true story of Abby Johnson, the youngest director at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Her career started out volunteering at this abortion clinic, and built up from there. Until one day, around eight years later, she saw something that would change the trajectory of her life.

Life. Life is sacred! Yet every day in our civilized nation, helpless babies are being ripped from the womb in most horrific ways. I could hardly watch as it played across the screen – the ultrasound showing this tiny baby fighting for its life as it was being suctioned out of its mother’s body. This is the standard abortion procedure. Oh, my heart is heavy.

Some scenes are like watching an awful crime movie where the doctors are the serial killers. And they openly murder babies each day … yet the extent of what they’re doing is kept somewhat under wraps. So many women have no clear idea of what they’re doing when they go in to end that unwanted pregnancy. I can’t even find the words to describe it. The horror. So cold. So calculated.

Maybe you’re wondering why I recommend you watch such horrible things. I say because it’s not just a movie. It’s real life. This brutal killing is happening every day. These ignorant and afraid expectant mothers are being lied to and abused. Life is treated so carelessly. So maliciously. These babies … these women … need our voices. Unplanned shows with raw, gritty detail that abortion is a declaration of war against the unborn, against life, against womanhood. Against God. For each of these unborn babies is an image-bearer of Him. May He have mercy.

Despite the darkness portrayed and the heaviness this movie brings, it had it’s light moments sprinkled in here and there. It was well-done. Truly gripping and intense. Very moving … this story strikes deep and forces you to face the reality of abortion. And there were beautiful moments of redemption. Scenes that gave hope.

So what are we going to do with the truth we now hold? The truth of what abortion and being pro-choice mean. The truth of what goes on in clinics such as Planned Parenthood. We have to be a voice for those who have none.

With a strong caution attached, I recommend you watch this movie. (It’s free with Amazon Prime.) Especially if you’re not 100% pro-life or unsure in cases of rape or incest. Watch it if you’re pro-choice. Watch it if you’re pro-life. Hear the true story of a director of Planned Parenthood and the brutal truths she uncovered.

And more than just watching a movie, truly stand up for life. Pray. Pray at the gates of an abortion clinic! Support, donate to, and volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center! Participate in a march for life. Educate women with love and gentleness. Champion behind adoption. Place high value on and esteem women, motherhood, children, and pregnancy. Value life.

Unplanned is truly a needed film in our day and age. Incredibly important. Don’t miss the chance to be impacted.

Unplanned Movie Website

Watch the Movie Trailer

Buy the Book

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Abby Johnson’s Website

Abby Johnson on Facebook

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Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, on Facebook

Lila Rose on Instagram

The Candace Owens Show: Lila Rose

Updated Cover Reveal: Dare by Tricia Mingerink

Hello, dear readers! You don’t know how excited I am about today’s post! It brings such a happy feeling to my heart. ❤ I read Dare by Tricia Mingerink years ago … around the time I released my Cinderella retelling novella … and absolutely loved it! The whole series has been amazing and has such a special place in my heart. So it’s with honor that I reveal the updated cover for Dare {book one in the BLADES OF ACKTAR series} and it is one-hundred percent epic! 😀

Check it out!! And don’t miss the one-of-a-kind, non-magical, deeply Christian fantasy series! It’s sure to become a favorite!

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Today is the cover reveal of the new cover for Dare, the first book in THE BlADES OF ACKTAR series. It has been nearly five years since Dare released, and it was about time to spruce up the series a bit.

Savannah Jezowski at Dragonpen Designs did the new cover, and she did a stunning job. She is currently hard at work on the covers for the rest of the series.

Here is the new cover!

The whole cover is so amazing, here is a peek at the full wrap cover:

The new cover goes live on Amazon today. It may take a little while for the new cover to work its way through the system, so I can’t guarantee that paperback orders placed today will have the new cover.

Book Review: Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr

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Secrets of the Happy Soul: Experiencing the Deep Delight You Were Made For by Katie Orr

My Personal Review ~ 5 stars

This is such a deep and beautiful book! Friends, I highly recommend Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr. It is well worth the read, the ending even leaving me in tears. So good.

When I first saw the simple, pretty cover and read the title of this book I thought it might be kind of a fluffy read, if you know what I mean. People are always trying to give us a number of steps and things to do and attitudes to adopt to make us happy … but their advice often ends up being shallow and short-reaching. Not so with Secrets of the Happy Soul. Katie Orr truly seems to understand what a happy soul is. She constantly points to Christ and the focus is on living a life centered on Him. “The Happy Soul is attached to God’s Word.” “The Happy Soul is dependent on God’s provision.” “The Happy Soul is surrendered to her King.”

The Happy Soul presents her doubts and questions to God, then sermonizes her soul toward the truth of His character. ~ Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr

This is the advice we need. Solid, Biblical advice that urges us to keep our eyes fixed on our Lord Jesus. Katie Orr is a pastor’s wife and she goes pretty deep with theology, and the Greek meaning of words, and different things. I get the feeling that she really studies her Bible and seeks God. She doesn’t just have a surface level relationship with God. This is beautiful and I feel like it gives her the credibility to write a book like Secrets of the Happy Soul.

… consider the views you hold: your actions and speech, the way you spend your time and money, what you believe about parenting, marriage, and sexuality. … Examine the conversations you hear and the teachings you have received through the lens of what the Bible says. ~ Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr

It’s not all shallow, self-focused, fluffy, and feel-good, but it is richly moving and deeply good. We’re reminded that we’re here for the glory of the King of Kings. And that we are happy souls, and how to claim that truth.

The key to realizing “success” in the Christian life is not in trying harder. Intimacy with God is found as we believe better. As our view of God grows, our actions naturally follow suit. Our desires change. ~ Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr

This book shares a lot of Scripture. It also has “soul searching” sections, questions, and prayers at the end of each chapter. It doesn’t gloss over the hard things. It digs deep. Katie Orr writes in an engaging, authentic way and keeps the reader interested. I did a lot of underlining, and like I said, teared up at the end of the book. Such a perfect book to read during confusing, dark times of struggle.

We need to be steeped in a continual communion with Him, because we can never be truly sweet on our own. We need the presence of God to permeate every part of us. ~ Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr

As always, I like to remind my readers that books are written by imperfect humans! They’re not going to be one-hundred amazing and accurate. But I think it’s wonderful and important to read books (testimonies, in a way) from our brothers and sisters in Christ and learn from them, and grow, and glorify God! I believe that Katie Orr is a mature, humble sister in Christ, and Secrets of the Happy Soul a truly helpful and Biblically-based read.

I received a complimentary copy of Secrets of the Happy Soul from Bethany House Publishers. This review is honest and completely my own.

Sermons & Podcasts: Relationships, Gender Roles, Romance, and Marriage

Hello, lovely readers! I just listened to a sermon from David Platt today while cleaning windows that was so powerful! And so I want to share some snippets from that sermon as well as some of the other sermons I’ve listened to on this subject … The subject of marriage! 🙂

Relationships, Gender Roles, Romance, and Marriage – the Best Sermons/Podcasts I’ve Heard

David Platt – Attachment: The Gospel and Marriage

“How we respond to these texts [on marriage] has a direct affect on our ability to show the gospel to the nations.”

“All across the culture – all across the Church – Christ is being slandered by how we live out marriage.”

“Husbands, when you ignore your wife, you’re telling the world that Christ ignores His Church.”

“Wives, when you disrespect your husband you’re telling the world that the Church does not respect Christ.”

“Husbands, I believe that Scripture teaches that you have a responsibility for the loveliness and holiness of your wife. … You are accountable to God by the way you lead your wife to loveliness and holiness.”

“This picture of headship should have every husband trembling before God.”

“Together, Husband and Wife, you preach the gospel to the world by the way you love each other.”

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David Platt – Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Part 1

David Platt – Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Part 2

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Ben Stuart – Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Single

Ben Stuart – Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Who to Date

Ben Stuart – Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: How to Date

Ben Stuart – Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: How to Know that You Know

Ben Stuart – Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: The Best Marriage

Ben Stuart – Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Marriage on Mission

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Voddie Baucham – Biblical Manhood

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9am Plenary Wed 20 October 2010.Photo: Micah Chiang

Is a Similar Sense of Calling Required for Marriage? // Ask Pastor John

John Piper – When a Man Loves a Woman Well

Peace, My Child

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Good evening, my dear readers. It’s been awhile. I wonder how you all are doing … ? This is a strange time we’re going through right now. Indeed, when I envisioned 2020 I certainly did not picture a pandemic and America just slowly shutting down. It can be a little scary, and overwhelming, and frustrating, and depressing if you ponder on it, so I wanted to take time today to help us refocus our minds.

  • Love.
  • Truth.
  • Rest.
  • Joy.
  • Patience.
  • Hope.
  • Peace.
  • Purpose.
  • Courage.

We all talk about fixing our eyes on Jesus, but are we really doing that? Are we remembering to cast all our cares on Him and rejoice? Are we recalling that the joy of the Lord is our strength? Are we internalizing the truth that God is our provider and protector? Are we finding rest for our souls in Him?

1 Peter 5:6-10

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devourResist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

We preach a whole lot about these things, but what does the world see while it watches us react to covid-19? (And life stuff in general).

I was listening to a sermon called Releasing Anxiety by Ben Stuart (great guy) this morning and I was really struck and convicted by something he said. “The world is not impressed when we sing about the Prince of Peace, yet are living lives of stress.”

So what are we telling the world through our emotions and reactions and actions? Are we exuding the fruits of the Spirit:

love

joy

peace

patience

kindness

goodness

gentleness

faithfulness

self control

Read those – no, really read them – and think about how they’re manifesting themselves in your life. Are they?

Galatians 5:22-25

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

We go around calling ourselves Christians … Christ-followers … Christ’s ambassadors here on earth … God’s children … and then we turn around and start freaking out about everything we can possibly find to freak out about. (Oh boy, am I preaching to myself right now.)

We’re afraid of coronavirus. We’re afraid of government control. We’re afraid of the economy collapsing. We’re afraid of persecution. We’re afraid of the end times. We’re afraid of being alone. We’re afraid of losing jobs or not having enough money. We’re afraid of losing loved ones. We fear death, disease, loneliness, change in plans, and the unknown.

We’re afraid.

And we go running around in a panicked frenzy trying to act like we can fix this if we try hard enough. We research and study to try to feel like we’re in control. We rail against certain people and come up with conspiracy theories and scare other people.

There is a serious disconnect in what we say and how we live.

If we as Christians believe what we say then we should conclude that there is nothing to fear but the wrath of God. And, in Christ, we are free from the wrath of God!

No fear should overtake us!

Psalm 56:3-11

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me.
10 In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
11 In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

I know, I know, I know … it’s hard. It’s difficult to digest this truth. And I think some of us have it harder than others – we’re just so naturally prone toward anxiety and depression.

Friends, I know. This is all coming from a girl who has struggled with anxiety and depression for years. It’s a normal part of my day. I wrestled through it this very morning.

And you know what? I don’t think the answer to being fearless and happy is trying harder.

Rather, I think the answer comes through uncovering and rejecting lies from Satan that we believe.

Through intentionally resting in God’s presence.

Through bravely confessing our faults, fears, and sin to God and other believers.

Through boldly proclaiming truth over ourselves even when we are drowning in deep, dark fear or feel nothing at all.

Through consistently soaking in Scripture.

Through praying fervently and honestly – laying our hearts bare before the Lord.

John 8:31-32

If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Read the Word. Read it! And meditate on it. Do you believe it’s true? Like gut-level believe? You’re assured in your heart and convinced in your mind? Do you believe God’s promise that as you are anxious for nothing, and let your requests be known to Him, and worship, He WILL guard your heart and mind with peace that passes understanding? Do you believe that? Or do you carelessly recite this well-known passage and then go on worrying all the day long as you did before?

Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to Godand the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

And think about this. How often do you confess your deep, dark fears to God? How often do you confess your deep, dark fears to your brothers and sisters in Christ? How often do you confess your sin to God? To other believers? There is something radically, unimaginably freeing about confession. About speaking those nasty, dark things that linger always in the back of our minds.

Secret sin. Secret fears. Secret struggles. They isolate us. And that is perhaps the most fearful thing of all. To feel isolated from people – most particularly our family in Christ. And even worse, to feel isolated from God.

Sometimes my thoughts are so dark and troubled that I come to the verge of panic, the brink of despair. But when I speak those supposedly unmentionable things aloud to God and cry out for His mercy, suddenly a light shines onto my trembling heart.

I realize that I am not alone and irredeemable. It is only what Satan wanted me to believe. God is, indeed, here. Only when I feed anxiety and hopelessness and fear and despair I block His presence.

As a human I struggle with all sorts of outrageous and deceptive and terrible feelings. Sometimes I feel nothing at all. I struggle with sin and distorted desires.

But at the same time, as God’s child I am held securely within His hand. And nothing can snatch me from it. Not my terrible fears and feelings and despair. Nothing. He already knows what I’m feeling. And thinking. He already knows my struggles. And I don’t think He turns away from my weakness. Instead He invites me to cast it all on Him and let Him fill me with His strength.

John 10:27-30

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.

Indeed, I am a mess and sometimes feel I am a hopeless case. But with God, all things are possible.

So confess to God daily. Every time a new fear or anxiety pops into your head, immediately, intentionally reveal it to God. He already knows. But maybe you need to really, really know that He knows! Oftentimes we are unconsciously believing that He does not know … we certainly act like it! So tell Him. Confess it. Out with it.

And confess to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Just speaking those fears that have such a deep hold on you out loud can be a such a magnificent release! Like the sun busting through gloomy clouds, you realize that you are not the only one. And you realize you have an army around you ready to fight for you. The rest of the Body of Christ!

Proverbs 12:25

25 Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad.

If you are deeply struggling, I encourage you to ask people to pray with and over you. Get counsel from a godly pastor. Find a spiritual mentor and meet with them often (over zoom during this time, perhaps!) Be raw and honest about what you’re dealing with. And pray for a heart of humility. And that the Spirit would be at work within you. And listen. And let yourself be comforted. And rebuked. And encouraged. And sharpened. And lifted. And spurred on toward Christ.

Seek rest in Christ. Don’t miss what God is trying to tell the Church during this pandemic! Don’t let fear crowd out His voice. Come to Jesus for He is gentle and He will teach you and you will find rest for your soul.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Lastly I want to give a few practical tips to embracing rest and ingesting truth. First, be sure to be reading the Bible daily. Maybe while you eat breakfast each morning. You could rotate reading a chapter from the New Testament (why not start in Matthew?) and then Psalms every other day.

Pray daily! I pray aloud on my 20-minute drive to work each day. It is such a beautiful part of my day. Even though I tend to feel numb and disillusioned in the morning, praying aloud in the car really works for me. I find myself earnestly pouring my heart out to God and trusting His provision and guidance for the day. My heart is calmed.

Carve some time into each day to read. Maybe for a half hour before bedtime or something. Studies show that reading reduces stress and helps you sleep better. So maybe this is when you do your Bible reading. But if possible, I encourage you to add some good, Christian novels and Christian nonfiction into your life! I’m currently enjoying The Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr, Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas, and The Bride of Stone by Thomas Williams.

Do your best to make time for rest and stillness on the Sabbath. Read your Bible. Pray. Fellowship with close friends and family. Color in an adult coloring book. Go for a walk. Soak in the sunshine.

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Unplug from social media for awhile. Give yourself a break from Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, the news, or all of them. Sometimes there’s just too much negative news and scary headlines and tragic happenings and temptation to feel discontent.

Go out amidst nature often! Glory in God’s creation. What beauty! What magnificence! Oh that we would stop a moment and soak it all in. He is such a masterful designer. Also, getting exercise out in the fresh air is a good way to lift your heart.

Seek out good conversations. Talk deeply. Share your heart. Be vulnerable. Laugh. Share what God’s doing in your life. If you’re like me, sometimes a nice, long talk is just what the soul needs.

Worship in the waiting. Stirring music. Amazing lyrics. Songs can be so powerful so I encourage you to listen and worship more! Worship when you’re happy. Worship when you’re sad. Worship when you’re waiting. Worship when your prayers are answered. Worship when you rejoice. Worship when you grieve. Worship when you’re fearful. Worship when you’re confused. Worship when you’re numb. Here is my worship playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLV7fB-3In6dqLodOhgVD-ISlBKkNqApC

So there are some thoughts and ideas! Until next time!

❤ Lady Grace

Luke 12:6-7 & 22-32

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Book Review: The Art of Friendship by Kim Wier

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The Art of Friendship: Cultivating and Keeping Relationships That Matter by Kim Wier

My Personal Review ~ 3 stars

Friendship. What an important topic for us to be delving into in this day and age! (Especially with all the social distancing going on with covid-19…maybe as a result of this we’ll desire to put more effort into our relationships! And speaking of covid-19, that’s one of the reasons this review is so late, I’m sure. *hides face*)

Anyway, The Art of Friendship is the first book I’ve read by Kim Wier, I believe. While it had some good points, I unfortunately had a hard time really getting into it. I feel so passionately about friendship, fellowship, community, deep relationships, etc., but I didn’t feel like this book delivered what I was looking for when I read the title. And the writing style wasn’t my favorite. That’s just my personal opinion. It might be the perfect book to help you cultivate deeper, Christ-glorifying friendships! *smiles*

I don’t remember there being anything in this book that I really disagreed with or felt like was not Biblical. So yes, if you’re looking for reading material on friendships and relationships, I would say give this book a try and see if it’s helpful for you.

I received a complimentary copy of The Art of Friendship from Bethany House Publishers. This review is honest and completely my own.