Look at My Heart

With summer around the corner, I wanted to talk about modesty again. If you’re interested, read my last post on this topic: Beautifully Modest.

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Personally, I’ve always had a sense of modesty, and am pretty conservative in the way I dress (if we’re looking at the culture in general, that is.) The hem of my skirts and dresses usually fall at least to my knees. I wear knee-length shorts, or sometimes a few inches above the knee. I try to keep the necklines of my shirts fairly high to avoid gaping and such. And I generally avoid clothing that is too clingy or tight (though pants can be hard since the style these days is very fitted.) I don’t wear leggings as main bottoms, bikinis, etc.

So yes. When I look around and consider what most people wear, I feel pretty modest. And I usually feel comfortable with what I’m wearing and how I’m presenting myself.

Of course, there are still often times when I’m just not sure. Bathing suits? It’s so hard to figure out what’s actually modest when it comes to those. Is this shirt showing too much skin/have too small of straps for being out and about in town? What is actually showing too much skin? Is this dress too clingy?

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I believe the Bible very much promotes modesty – but it doesn’t exactly give us a manual.

The more I think on it, the more I believe that modesty and purity truly start in the heart. In your thoughts. In your private life, and inner dreams and desires.

When Jesus Christ is the desire of a woman’s heart and she is wholeheartedly seeking the Lord, I don’t think she needs to stress and panic about modesty.

Matthew 6:31-34

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Yes, certainly be informed. Humble. Wise. Have a teachable spirit.

But when we’re walking by the Spirit, we don’t have to be afraid and live in bondage. We can trust Him to lead us, guide us, mold us, convict us.

Maybe we’re getting too consumed with outward appearance and forgetting the inside.

A girl dressed in short shorts might have a more modest heart than the girl wearing a long, full skirt. Maybe the girl in the skirt is sticking to the rules, but she presents herself in a sensual, flirty way – her heart consumed with self and lust and all manner of worldly passions that she’s taken no care to root out.

It starts in the heart. A heart surrendered to Jesus Christ. And then He can began to work in us. To sanctify and perfect us. Maybe He will convict you about an attitude of the heart, or maybe about the scanty clothing you’re wearing that don’t rightly reflect Him and who you are as His daughter.

Don’t let this issue of modesty steal your joy and hope in Christ.

Modesty isn’t what makes us good, Christian women. Purity isn’t what makes us good, Christian women.

Christ is who makes us good, Christian women.

Romans 8:33-34

33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Modesty is a big, controversial subject. And, sometimes, a painful one.

I’ve talked with sisters and brothers in Christ about modesty and I truly appreciate those conversations. I would like to have more!

But I’ve also heard comments and been told things that are hurtful. Things that make me wonder …

Men, do you see me first as a child of God, or a temptation?

A sister in Christ, or an object?

Do you see me as a friend and care about my heart, or are you always stuck on what I’m wearing? If my dress is a tad too short or there’s maybe a little too much skin exposed somewhere?

Don’t you see my smile? My gesture of friendliness and welcome? The genuine joy I feel from hearing from you, my brother, my friend?

When men stress and go on about modesty, it can start to make me feel objectified. That I’m more a body than a soul.

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It’s one thing to thank a girl for dressing modestly and encourage her in that. A total different thing to make her feel condemned, afraid, and confused – like she’s responsible for your sin … And make her always fearful that she might be tempting you.

Not that I’m trying to undermine men’s struggles. I know that God created men to admire a woman’s body – a beautiful thing He created for within the covenant of marriage.

And I know that many, many women go around flaunting their bodies in a very sexual and sensual way. A way that doesn’t honor God, or cherish and respect what God designed for marriage alone.

Hebrews 13:4

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

But, guys, please remember that there are also a lot of women out there who do desire to honor God, respect men, and present themselves in a beautiful, non-sensual way.

But it’s hard. Our culture, our clothing designers promote the sexy way of dress. And then there are so many opinions of what is modest! It’s hard to know what is actually supposed to be covered, and what is just a man-made rule that perhaps promotes rather than discourages the objectification of a woman’s body.

In my personal opinion, it seems like common sense to keep all the area from one’s chest to a good portion of one’s thighs covered – including the midriff! I’m not a fan of crop tops and such that give peeks at the stomach or show off the bellybutton. But shoulders, knees, a little bit of your upper back … it depends.

Different people have different convictions. People see modesty differently – no matter if we’re adamant that everything should be black and white. So we have to be careful with our rules and our words.

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I’ve had people say things about the way I dress that hurt me. Someone once said something I wore was a stupid choice on my part, more or less.

Yes, this dress showed a little more skin around my shoulders and upper back than I’d normally show, but it very well covered everything I’m firmly convicted about covering. And truthfully, when I wore it was one of the few times I felt like God’s princess. I was in a sorta-healing-but-still-struggling stage of life, and I just remember a peace about that evening – I simply believed it was God’s gift to me. It had been bathed in prayer and worked out when I thought it wouldn’t. It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time … dress up in a pretty dress and go to a social event. I remember thinking often that night: Is God honored in this? In that? And I just had this peace that He was and I was okay.

Later, I thought: If Jesus had walked into that room that night, what would I have done?

Hid? Tried to cover up some more? Wait awkwardly in the shadows?

No, my heart said. I would shamelessly run into His arms, knowing He loved me. I was confident He wouldn’t measure how much shoulder or back was exposed, but He would see my heart and know my intentions were pure. He would just see me – His daughter, His sister, His servant, His friend, His beloved – and He would smile at me in the way that gives me my security.

Friends, as a woman, I freely admit that I want to look beautiful. But I truly don’t want to look sexy, sensual, or temptingly alluring. That I want to save for my husband alone.

So I try to be modest, and then just leave it in God’s hands – knowing that He sees my heart and it is His Spirit that leads me.

Galatians 5:16-18

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

And sometimes I do have to ask Him to create a clean heart within me! I’m not perfect, and all you women who struggle, know you are not alone.

Psalm 51:10

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

But know, first and foremost, that He loves you. And know He is faithful to create a clean heart within the surrendered woman.

Lady Grace ❤

Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

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Summer Hiatus … ?

Well, dear readers, my laptop crashed. And died. So thus, no post was scheduled for today.

I may be going on an unexpected summer hiatus.

I have my Kindle Fire, which can be handy, but definitely not for blogging. And the family computer is not readily available to me. So … I will probably be able to do posts every now and then, but I may be on a summer break of sorts until I save up for another laptop.

Eek. This was unexpected.

But, God is good and He has a plan.

Thursday night I was praying, and trying not to freak out, and freaking out a little, and praying. Sick (hasn’t even been a month since I was last sick!). Laptop dying. Unlikely to get the job I was so hoping for. Feeling emotionally down.

But I kept telling myself that God had a plan. He’s taking care of me – maybe it’s all just looking different from His perspective. I can’t see why these certain things are happening. But there’s a reason, and I can trust Him.

Well, I got an email that night saying that I was hired! It was pretty unexpected. I’m supposed to start work on Monday! ❤ So, if you all would pray that I’m better by then, I would really appreciate it!

I have a sinus infection and allergies … maybe not a cold/flu at all. I was feeling pretty miserable, but I’ve been sleeping, drinking lots of water, and taking all kinds of natural remedies. I drank some Kombucha today and I’m actually feeling a lot better.

Just trusting the Lord with this. If He wants me to have this job, He will make it work. He is worthy of my trust. 🙂

Tomorrow I go to Sunday school for the first time at the new church I’m going to! I’m pretty excited about that. Hoping to meet a bunch of people and make some friends at last!

Oh, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY (almost) to all the mothers out there! God has given you a priceless job. Never doubt your worth. Know you are loved. Press into the Lord and love on those precious souls He’s given you.

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I’m so thankful for my dear, beautiful mom. ❤ So blessed. I can’t imagine life without her. She’s a unique and precious daughter of God!

Random note: I bought a lovely pink blouse ($1) and cute wedge heels ($3) at a yard sale today! Both appear to be about brand new. Happy about that.

Anyway, I must go! God’s blessings to you all!

TELL ME HOW LIFE HAS BEEN FOR YOU!

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT SUMMER?

Hey, Singles …

Ah, that dreaded word.

Singles.

Actually, it’s not all that bad. 😉 When I stop thinking about “single” as a label that defines me completely, I began to stop worrying, fussing about, and dreading hearing it.

Now, I still do sometimes have a problem with how some people treat unmarried people … “When are you going to get a boyfriend?” “Why aren’t you married yet?” “You’re being too fussy.” “Aw, you poor, lonely thing!” “You’re not making yourself available enough!” Like, how about encouraging us to thrive where God has us instead of making us feel incomplete, behind, or lacking (as we already tend to struggle with feeling like!)?

But that’s a whole different post.

I’m glad to say that I’ve been doing much better with accepting my place in life right now and learning to blossom. Last year around this time I was feeling really down and just wishing I could be married and having children like (almost) all of my friends and cousins were.

I feel like God has done a lot of work on my heart since then.

I still have a deep heart’s desire to be married one day.

But, I’m finding joy in other things that God has given me and actively pursuing life right now as an unmarried woman.

Today, I want to present a few points – things that are helping me get to this place of excitement and passion and contentment. I’m still a work-in-progress! But God is ever teaching me. Oh, how faithful He is. We just have to stay humble and pressing into Him and His goodness.

1) Don’t be Single, be in a Relationship with Jesus Christ

Friends, I know the loneliness can feel excruciating. Numbing. Depressing. Especially in some seasons of life where other negative things are going on as well. I can’t give a perfect solution to take the loneliness away. So here’s my advice:

Let your lonely heart drive you to Jesus.

Your loneliness, your broken heart, your confusion, your hopelessness, your unmet desires, your fear, your shattered dreams … instead of letting them crush you, let them push you toward God.

I know it’s hard. But open your hands. And surrender. Again, and again, and again.

As you grow closer to Christ, you’ll begin to realize that this is what you need. Him. A closeness with God. A dependency on Him. Hope and joy and peace in Him. Because this is the lasting stuff! These are the things that will never let you down or let you go. Because our God is faithful.

And He is love.

On those days when being single feels very hard and very solitary, guess what? God can meet you there. And He will, if you allow Him.

If you’re too busy surfing the web, checking Facebook for the hundredth time and stalking cute boys, watching movie after movie … anything to fill your loneliness … (anything but God, that is), then you’re going to miss His gentle, awesome Presence.

But if you aren’t desperately scrambling to fill the void of a boyfriend/husband, you’ll start to realize that God is always there beside you. Waiting to hear your voice. Your whisper. Your cry.

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He walks with you. And in the moments when you feel rejected or lonely or sad or just down, you can talk to Him and share your whole heart.

I love the idea that I can go to God with my feelings at any moment. Anywhere. I love that I am His and He is mine. I love that my life is one exciting, beautiful love story with Him.

Yes, sometimes the ache for a human companion and best friend is nearly tangible.

But God keeps reminding me that He is here and He’s taking care of me and providing me with all I need.

And in that is incomprehensible peace, joy, love, and passion for life!

If you don’t have a close relationship with Jesus Christ, your life is going to be fraught with loneliness, unmet expectations, and discontentment – whether your married or single!

You have to come to this place of emptiness where you feel like all you can do is cry out to the Lord. And then, wow, let Him fill you up.

Psalm 23:5

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

2) Realize there are a lot of Mr. Wrongs out there

Okay, so I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding “Mr. Right”. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about all the “Mr. Wrongs”; and they are out there, let me assure you!

So let me explain. There have been times in my life where I’ve been like, “I just want to get married! Why does this have to be so complicated? I’ll just find a nice, Christian guy and we’ll fall in love and live happily ever after.”

But listen, ladies. There are a lot of nice, Christian guys out there that aren’t right for you.

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They aren’t pursuing a close relationship with God like you are. They don’t have the same passion for glorifying God in everything and living out His plans for their life like you do. Maybe they don’t have a love for Jesus like the one you feel in your heart. Maybe they aren’t actively working through struggles and hurts in their life because they don’t trust God enough yet. Perhaps he’s a great guy, but he has such different convictions, passions, and ideas about life. Maybe he doesn’t have hardly any convictions or passions at all.

Just because he goes to church and believes in God doesn’t make him the right partner for you, dear Christian woman.

I’m not saying you’ll find a perfect man. Because you most certainly won’t. (And if you think you will, you’re going to fall a mighty long way from cloud nine.)

But if you’re desiring to live your life for God’s glory (and this is His will for you!) then don’t you think God wills for you to have a man who’s deeply desiring the same thing?

If you’re going to be partners, don’t you think you need to be moving in the same direction?

I don’t know about you, but I want my husband to be my soul mate. By that I mean, I want him to understand and share the deepest parts of me – heart and soul. My relationship with a very real Creator God. My love for Jesus Christ, God’s Son. My firm belief that I’m God’s daughter by Jesus’ blood and my faith in Him. My belief that the Bible is absolute truth. My hunger for Him, His Word, and prayer time. My desire to live my life for Him, use my gifts (which He gave me for a purpose) for His glory and people’s good, raise children to know and love Him … !

I’m not perfect. But as I desire and seek … and over and over again find God and His will as my central desire … why would I bind myself to a man who can’t understand & share in that?

It makes no sense.

So, as I grow in the Lord and realize that I do have very specific desires when it comes to a husband, and not all the guys out there are going to meet those standards, it helps me in some way.

To be patient.

I so deeply desire a godly husband that I know I’m one-hundred percent willing to wait as long as it takes!

It perhaps helps calm my anxious heart that worries as all these guys pass me by. I say to myself, “I’m seeking God’s will for my life and I’m not willing to settle for a man who’s not desiring the Lord like I am. I can’t just dash out there and find a suitable guy in mere seconds because my standards are high. Therefore I must surrender and trust God to work out my earthly love story if He has marriage in store for me.

I let go … and I find peace and joy.

3) Find a Community. Build Relationships. Look for ways to Bless and Serve People!

Love people and live life! ❤ Don’t let singleness stop you, folks. There was never any reason that it should!

So come out of that dark hole. Press into the Lord and realize your standards – what you want in a husband … what God would want you to choose/seek!

Next, find a community. I believe when God speaks of alone-ness in Genesis, He’s not just saying marriage is good. He’s saying people being with people is good – family is good and friends are good and community is good.

Genesis 2:18

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

We should be doing life with other people whether we’re single or married. We should have close friendships and wise mentors in our lives. We should be looking for other people to bless and mentor!

Now, there are some seasons where we’re just alone. And God uses this. Most times to draw us to Him! (That’s what I’ve found in my life. In that way, being alone can actually turn out to be a beautiful thing … when it draws us to the Lover of our souls.)

But we’re not meant to be without human companionship forever. So find a church community and make friends! 🙂

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For myself, I’ve been visiting different churches! I like the church that my family goes to – the teaching is solid and encouraging. However, I’m having a hard time getting involved. So I’ve been visiting different churches, looking for one that has great fellowship and I can really be in community with. It’s been fun, trying out new churches! I get a little nervous at times, but I love meeting new people! (If they’re the ones to introduce themselves and strike up a conversation, haha!)

I’ve involved myself in Bible studies. Even started one for my younger sister and her friends. Now, we haven’t been able to do any study nights recently, but I’m hopefully we’ll be able to again soon! I’m plotting and planning and toying with ideas of going through this book or that book. 😉 And I might try out the Wednesday night Bible study at the new church I’m going to currently.

I’m grateful for the chance to grow closer to siblings, family & relatives, and long-distance friends. Yes, sometimes it’s hard because my life can be so monotonous. And then I start feeling down and don’t feel like putting any effort into building old relationships.

But, that’s why I’m trying to get into a community and try new things. Keeping a spark of excitement in life helps me to remember the people already around me and how I shouldn’t let this stage slip by without growing close to them!

One thing that continues to be really hard is not having any friends my age. I have a few long-distance friends, but we don’t get the chance to talk very often.

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Do you all have any advice for me? 🙂 Besides looking for a church family to get involved with, what can I do to meet new people and make friends?? Haha. It’s been difficult, but I’m thankful for my siblings and their friends, aunts, my mom, cousins, etc.

Last night I went to a disc-golf course with my thirteen-year-old brother and seventeen-year-old sister. We enjoy disc-golf! Well … my brother loves it. I enjoy it. 😉

So there’s another tip … look for ways to hang out with your younger siblings (or cousins or something.) Look for ways to invest in their lives. Mentor them, maybe.

That’s been helpful for me. It pulls my focus off of just me and my life and my struggles and my hurts, and starts investing my heart and emotions in other people. So I can find hope through their lives. I can feel joy for them when good things come their way. I can pray for them. I can help them through the hard times. I can rejoice when they succeed. Grow. Receive their dreams.

So whoever God has in your life right now, find ways to serve and bless them! Get involved in their lives and journey together! Share emotions, hopes, hardships, and dinners. 😉

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4) Pursue your Dreams. Invest in your Talents. Don’t wait to do what you feel like God is calling you to.

Y’all, what is God calling you to? Don’t be deceived … if your heart is beating, you have a purpose! Don’t miss out on this wonderful thing because you’re too busy waiting to get married.

If you can break away from the depression that comes from a broken heart and the listlessness that comes from shattered dreams and the hopelessness that comes from lack of trust …

You will realize that there are beautiful things out there within your reach, but you’ve been so consumed with one beautiful thing (aka: marriage) that you’ve been blinded to all the rest.

What was it you always wanted to be when you were younger (for me, it was an author!)? Or what opportunities do you see around you that tug at your heart? A younger person who needs a mentor? A group of young people who would be blessed by a Bible study (ladies, you could start a girl’s Bible study using Love Defined!)? A Crisis Pregnancy Center that could use some volunteers? Maybe your church is going on a mission trip and you have a heart for overseas missions.

Ponder it. Dig deep. What do you have a passion for? What do you feel God might be calling you to? Maybe He is calling you to marriage … someday. But right now there are other opportunities available while your future spouse is out of sight!

As for my personal life, there’s a chance I’m going to have a full-time job very soon. (I’d appreciate your prayers!) Meanwhile, I’ve been novel-writing quite a bit and absolutely adoring it. I’m remembering that God gave me a passion and a gift for writing and I should definitely be pursuing that and using it for His glory! ❤

1 Corinthians 10:31

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

So yes, I’ve gotten excited about that once again. I have a desire to publish more books – stories that I hope will touch reader’s heart for God. I know that I have a few loyal fans out there and they remind why I love writing. I’m not exactly sure what God has in store for me, but I’m trying to use my time wisely and write whenever I can. If He wills it, I want to publish again soon!

I tried my hand at making soap and it was a good experience! Not as hard as I thought. Though I was a little scared about mixing the lye. Good news, it all went well and I didn’t splat any on myself or my sister! :p So we have a beautiful batch of charcoal soap that smells of lavender and tea tree oil stacked on the top of my sister’s bookshelf. We’re hoping to make some more this coming week.

And yeah. Blogging, booktubing, Bible studies, and more! I’m trying different things and just seeing where God takes me.

I hope you all will too! Pursue God. Trust Him with your life. Take steps of faith. Enjoy life! Try some new things. Do what you love, all for His glory. ❤

Matthew 6:31-33

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

***

That’s what I have for today. Hopefully it wasn’t too long-winded! Happy Saturday, readers! I’m probably off yard-saling while you all read this post. 😉 Hope you enjoy your day – breathing in God’s love and looking to Him to direct your life.

Live loved, dear fellow singles, and live to the fullest.

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Books for the Fearful Heart

Happy Saturday, readers!

Today I’m excited to share with you some books specifically addressing fear that have really impacted me. I have a heart and mind that tend to fret and be fearful, and are often within the iron grip of anxiety – and it’s taken me a long time to learn some of the lessons these books teach.

If any of you out there can relate, I wholeheartedly recommend these Christian Living books to you. First get out your Bible, then purpose copies of these books. And prepare to go on a journey.

Face your fears. Grow in faith. Lean on your heavenly Father. Find joy.

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Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for Your Anxious Heart by Maria Furlough

(I haven’t finished this book yet, but so far it’s been phenomenal. I believe God is using what Maria went through to impact my life here and now.)

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Fearless: Building a Faith That Overcomes Your Fear by Cheri Fuller

(Read my review HERE)

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Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back?: Facing Life With Courage, Not Comforters by Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield

(Read my review HERE)

So there are just three books, besides God’s Holy Word, that have helped me in my battle against fear and anxiety (and even depression). I hope you will find the courage to acknowledge your own fearful heart and find help.

You don’t have to live within anxiety’s clutches.

God has so much more for you! If you could just surrender to Him! ❤

***

As a parting note, I’m going to change my blogging schedule back to posting here on Lady Grace just once a week – Saturdays. I have some things coming up in life and I’m realizing I’m not going to have time for everything. So I have to cut back a little. I hope you all will keep joining me here on Saturdays!

And also check out my other blog: Between the Pages of This Bookish Life. I post there on Thursdays and share my Youtube videos on Mondays. This coming Monday’s video has to do with love & romance!

Imperfect but Beloved

Hi, readers! I completely forgot that I had to post today. Ah. Letting myself stress too much or something. I’ve been making soap, cleaning houses, and doing other work-related stuff, so I suppose it just slipped from my mind.

What are you all up to?

I’m currently reading Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for Your Anxious Heart by Maria Furlough. And I’m doing two devotionals on YouVersion about letting go of the past and beginning again. They’re truly messages I need to hear.

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Let go of the past. Mistakes, regrets, hurt, fear.

Begin again. Start fresh! Rejoice in this new day that God can do wonders in.

Break the fear cycle. Constantly give over your anxieties to God. Pour out your anxious heart before Him – again, and again, and again.

And lean on Him. Rest. Completely secure. Forever loved.

It dawned on me that oftentimes we think that we need to be strong, and perfect, and have it all-together. We don’t give ourselves grace for past mistakes and stumbles. We try to tough it out, keep ourselves in order, and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We put so much pressure on ourselves, and then wonder why we crumble at the slightest provocation.

What if it’s not about us being strong, but about His strength shining through our weakness?

What if it’s not about us being perfect, but about His perfection working in our inadequacies?

What if it’s not about having it all-together, but about complete surrender to Him?

What if it’s not about us being something, but about Him loving us despite our sin, brokenness, and failure?

Instead of hiding, covering up, holding yourself together, and desperately trying to find a way to redeem yourself, your past, your sin, your errors … If I just do this, this, and this, maybe I’ll be good enough. Maybe I’ll be worthy of respect and love. Maybe I’ll be liked and cherished and wanted …

Maybe you can just open up your hands and surrender.

I found that when I just took hold of the truth – allowed myself to be weak and helpless and unsure what to do – it was okay. Because I realized that along with these things I was loved and cared for by a compassionate and powerful Father. I gained hope and security, joy and confidence.

I am weak, but He is strong.

This is how it is to be, and I believe I see His role as my Warrior when I surrender.

I am helpless, but He is my Helper.

He is my Provider, and I trust that He will sustain me and I have faith that He will provide all that in need in His timing. All I do is pray and step forward in obedience – trusting Him with results.

I am unsure, but He is all-knowing!

I can open up my arms wide and say, “God, do with me what you will!” He sees all, He holds me in His hand, and He has a future for me.

So I let myself be weak. Surrendered and obedient.

I am only human, but my God is the Alpha and Omega. In Him, I have all I need.

I listened to this Youtube video from Joseph Solomon this morning that was talking about being secure in God’s love for us. I found it interesting. I hope you listen to it and comment with your thoughts below!

God’s peace, friends.

❤ Lady Grace

Accepted in Christ, the Beloved // Joseph Solomon

Fight for the Faith

In a world where right is wrong and wrong is right (or, there are no absolutes at all), it is time for Christ-followers to step up and fight for the faith. For your own sake, you need to fight for what you claim as your beliefs.

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Do you know that when we stop fighting for things, they gradually – moment by moment, year by year, generation to generation – slip out of our grasp? Freedom needs to be fought for. Marriages need to be fought for. Dreams need to be fought for.

Faith needs to be fought for.

Do you know that the Bible instructs us to fight for our faith?

Jude 1:3-4

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This doesn’t mean arguing all the time, writing scathing comments online, or hating on people or groups we don’t agree with.

It does mean immersing yourself in the Word, leaning on God, and standing firm on the Truth.

Do not waver. Do not listen to every new idea that comes your way. Don’t let the winds of doctrine toss you around until your head is spinning, your knees buckling, and your heart afraid. We, as Christians, do have a firm foundation to root ourselves in.

God’s Word.

I know that sometimes the Bible is hard to understand. But you’re not going to figure out more about God’s truth by listening to the culture, the media, or secular speakers and movie stars. Friends, as confused as you may be, you need to delve deeper into the Holy Bible, not go chasing after other voices that supposedly have spiritual revelations of what truth really is.

Fellow Christians may be able to help you understand, but make sure you are lining up what they say against the Word of God. Study your Bible and grow in knowledge of God and His nature.

And don’t just read. Pray. Pray that God will teach you. Seek Him. Ask for a desire to know Him intimately. Do you know that the Bible says that if you seek God will all your heart, He will be found by you? Do you know it says those who seek wisdom will find it? Are you claiming these truths? God’s Word is living and active and sharper than any sword.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity;

Proverbs 1:20-23

20 Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
21 She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
23 Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

Hebrews 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

So stop letting the world push you around.

Dust off your Bible – pick up your sword.

This is your weapon with which to fight. Your Bible is a crucial part of your walk with God. It has the power to change you. To change your life. To grow you in wisdom. To pull you into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. -Filled with the fullness of love, unbreakable hope, deep joy, immense power, and peace that passes understanding.

Philippians 4:4-7

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 God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I challenge you to read your Bible daily. You need it in order to stay rooted in God as you face conflicting opinions and differing worldviews and Satan’s fiery darts each day.

Ephesians 6:11-13

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

What warrior goes into battle without his sword?

Why would you go out into the world without God’s Word in your heart? Fresh on your mind? Ready on your lips?

Ephesians 6:16-18

16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit

We need to stop living so passively. This world is our battlefield. We do have a very real Enemy prowling around. And without our sword, he will began to succeed in stealing our abundant life.

John 10:10

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

So grab your Bible, join your fellow soldiers (aka: a community of believers!), and live courageously and to the fullest under the shadow of the Most High!

Psalm 91:1-2

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

SOLDIER by Unspoken

Who Does God Say I Am?

In a world of confusion, comparison, insecurity, identity crisis, and anxiety, it is easy to fall prey to the lie that we are not enough. Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Not independent enough. Not aggressive enough. Not busy enough. Not enough.

It is easy to become down on oneself and feel the strain of desperately trying to please everyone and earn their love and respect.

It can be easy to feel unwanted and unqualified, hopeless and alone.

This burden is extremely heavy to bear. It’s stifling and suffocating and wounding.

But the truth is, we were never meant to look to the world and ask: “Who am I?” We were always meant to look to our immortal and all-wise Creator and ask humbly and trustfully: “Who am I?”

If we look to His precious Word, this is what we find:

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He (Jesus) says that He loves me as His Father loves Him. I am fully and deeply loved.

John 15:9

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

Zephaniah 3:17

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Romans 5:5

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

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***

He says I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” – that His work in making me is “marvelous”. I am beautiful.

Psalm 139:14

14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Song of Solomon 4:7

You are all fair, my love,
And there is no spot in you.

Psalm 144:12

12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
That our daughters may be as pillars,
Sculptured in palace style;

Isaiah 44:24

24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;

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***

He says that there is “now no condemnation for me” and I will not be put to shame. I can walk in confidence.

Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the SpiritFor the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Psalm 34:5-7

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.

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***

He says I am set high above the Enemy’s schemes and lies, and have His Holy Spirit within me. I have power.

Ephesians 1:19-21

19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

1 John 2:20

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

Philippians 4:11-13

11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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*** 

He says that He calls me His child and He is my everlasting Father. I am His cherished daughter.

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Deuteronomy 33:27

27 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;

2 Corinthians 6:18

18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

Romans 8:15-17

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

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***

He says not to fear – that I can be fully confident in my trust of Him because He has overcome the world, and I belong to Him. I can be fearless.

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Isaiah 43:1

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?

John 16:33

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

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***

He says I am forgiven and made clean through faith in Christ Jesus. I am pure.

Psalm 51:7

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Ephesians 1:4

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

Colossians 1:22

yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 

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***

He says I am a temple of God – chosen and special – and and I am His workmanship. I’m secure and can walk with my head held high. I am valuable and worthy of respect.

1 Corinthians 3:16

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,

Matthew 10:29-31

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

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***

He says that nothing can snatch me from His hand, and that He will present me blameless on Judgement Day. I am saved.

John 10:27-30

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 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. 30 I and My Father are one.”

Jude 1:24

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

Romans 10:8-13

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

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***

He says He knows my days, sees when I sit and when I rise up, and delights in guiding all my steps! I am seen and cared for.

Luke 12:22-32

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.

Psalm 103:13-14

13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 37:23-24

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

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***

He says that my design as a female is good. My femininity is beautiful and filled with purpose.

Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 2:18 & 21-24

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Proverbs 31:25 & 29-31

25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,

29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

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 ***

He says I am an important part of the Body. My personality, gifts, and passions are unique and needed.

1 Corinthians 12:15-26

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Romans 12:4-8

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

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***

He says He knew me before I was born and that I am fully known. He understands me better than I understand myself.

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;

1 Corinthians 13:12

Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

Isaiah 49:15-16

15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.

Psalm 71:6

By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.

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Christian Living Titles I Want to Read

Happy Saturday, readers! I’ve been so busy novel-writing that I forgot about posting today, so I’m just going to give you a list of Christian Living books that are on my To-Read list. I’m really excited to read them all.

How about you? Any of these on your TBR? Or do you have some other Christian Living titles you could add to the list? 🙂

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Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Published: 1952

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Let Me be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

Published: 1966 (Tyndale Momentum)

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True Woman 101: Divine Design by Mary A. Kassian & Nancy Leigh Demoss

Published: February 1st, 2012 (Moody Publishers)

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Redeemed by Angela Thomas-Pharr

Published: August 1st, 2016 (Lifeway Church Resources)

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Without Rival: Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison by Lisa Bevere

Published: August 16th, 2016 (Revell Publishing)

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When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind by Elizabeth Laing Thompson

Published: March 1st, 2017 (Shiloh Run Press)

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Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood by Julie Roys

Published: September 12th, 2017 (Thomas Nelson Publishing)

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Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel

Published: September 19th, 2017 (Baker Books)

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Lord, Prepare Me to be a Godly Wife by Tiffany Langford

Published: November 13th, 2017

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Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose by Sadie Robertson

Published: February 6th, 2018 (Thomas Nelson Publishing)

Love Defined

Love Defined: Embracing God’s Vision for Lasting Love and Satisfying Relationships by Kristin Clark & Bethany Baird

Expected Publication: May 1st, 2018 (Baker Books)

 

Stress and Rest + a New Devotional

Hello, lovely readers!

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about stress and rest + devotionals. 😉 Life can get stressful, right? And overwhelming. And wearying.  And sometimes it just threatens to squeeze the breath from our lungs.

I had a little bit of a rough week. First I was dealing with a flare up of some health issues, then I came down with a cold/flu. I had to cancel my young adult Bible study and also wasn’t able to film my Monday Booktube video. 😦 I wasn’t writing as much as I’d hoped to. Missed church. And didn’t want to bring in a job application as I’d planned because I felt yucky and sounded quite hoarse. Ha.

So I was just feeling down emotionally too. And then, this morning, my laptop decided to go crazy and I was terrified it had a virus or was going to crash on me. After working on it all morning and afternoon – reinstalling my antivirus protection, restarting it a *hundred* times, etc. – it is faring much better. Thankfully! I hope it will continue working fine.

Anyway, I was feeling stressed and run down. And very discouraged about life in general.

Sometimes we have those days, you know?

So I want to talk about some ways we can fight that stress. By resting. Resting physically, or resting emotionally. Or something in between.

Philippians 4:6-7

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

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Today, what helped me to calm down and ease my anxiety was listening to kid’s praise music with my little brother. 🙂 Something about the peppy music and worshipful words reminded me that God is on the throne and He sees my life, and I really don’t have to panic about my laptop potentially crashing (and everything else in my life).

It reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for.

It reminded me to just be.

Sometimes I think people want to make life too busy. And, in my case, my mind wants to grab onto every little thing possible that it can stress about and just pull me down into despair.

Psalm 55:6-8

So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness. Selah
I would hasten my escape
From the windy storm and tempest.”

That’s not good. I don’t think that that’s what God wants for us. I don’t think that’s the kind of life He meant when He said life more abundantly.

Psalm 23:1-3

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;

What are some things we can incorporate into our days to promote restfulness in your heart and soul?

  • Listen to invigorating praise music
  • Listen to heartfelt worship songs
  • Play a lighthearted game with family or friends
  • Take a nap (sometimes you just really need to catch up on sleep!)
  • Go a long, quiet walk (and pray aloud! 🙂 )
  • Bake your favorite recipe
  • Read for awhile (even just reading for like six minutes is supposed to reduce stress)
  • Go out to coffee with a good friend, just the two of you
  • Snuggle with someone for awhile 😉 I always find it calming to hold tiny babies or get on the floor & play with my three-year-old brother
  • Sit down with some tea and your Bible
  • Call a good friend who you know will speak truth and encouragement to you
  • Go to bed early
  • Read your Bible and pray + read a little bit from a fun, lighthearted novel before sleep
  • Do a devotional

Have any ideas to add?

Speaking of devotionals, I want to let you all know about a new devotional on YouVersion, the Bible app. It’s a 7-day devotional called Love Defined, and is a part of Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird’s coming book release. They’re talking about God’s design for love and romance. I just started this devotional today! There’s Scripture and a devotional (an excerpt from the book, Love Defined, I’m guessing?) to read. I hope you’ll join me in this! ❤

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Be sure to check out Kristen and Bethany’s first book, Girl Defined, as well as their Youtube channel and website!

I’m part of the launch team for Love Defined, so look for more news on that from me in the coming days. I’m so excited to read this book!

That’s all I have for now. Rest in the Lord, dear friends!

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.”

My Testimony

Those who read my blogs know that I am a Christian. I don’t attend churches only of a certain denomination, so therefore I do not associate myself with a certain denomination.

My parents grew up going to Apostolic Lutheran churches. I was moved around a lot during my childhood, and my family attended a lot of different churches. I went to Apostolic Lutheran churches for some periods of my life. I went to Baptist churches. Evangelical Free churches. And churches that described themselves as non-denominational, Bible-believing churches. Today I attend a non-denominational-church, but I believe it has Baptist roots.

Regardless of what church I go to, I prefer to call myself simply a Christ-follower. 🙂 Jesus Christ is my Savior, I am free in Him, and I’m on a journey each day of understanding more what it means to love and serve Him and others. My life is a love story with Him. I am certainly not perfect, and people may not always see my efforts and the heart behind them. But I feel it in my soul, the way He gently woos me and teaches me.

So I’ve told you all that I am a Christian. Now I want to share a little of my testimony.

my testimony

I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every Sunday. I had a good childhood, and remember my mom telling me often that Jesus loved me, and that she would love me always, no matter what.

Just as I trusted that she would always love me no matter what … even if I did something bad … I believed that God was, indeed, God and He loved me. I trusted that Jesus had died on a cross which took away my sins and because of that, I would live in heaven one day with Him.

I had a simple childlike belief. And no, I don’t remember a day when I prayed a prayer to become saved. But I do know that even back then as a little girl I was a saved child of God, because I believed.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:11-13

11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

(Fun fact: I started reading through the Bible, from Genesis, when I was eight or nine-years-old. I finally finished it at fifteen!)

When I was still pretty young, my mom did a Bible study on the book of Proverbs and wisdom with us kids. During that study, I prayed that God would give me wisdom. I wasn’t exactly sure what that would mean – or even the big deal about wisdom – but I prayed for it because the Bible said to get wisdom, to seek knowledge! And King Solomon, as a young person, had prayed for wisdom.

Proverbs 4:5-9

Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

1 Kings 3:9

Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.

As I grew older, that simple message of Jesus’ love for me got twisted into something like: God is displeased with you and you need to earn Jesus’ love.

Around twelve-years-old, I remember having some questions about the Christian faith and such. Because of this doubt, I became very afraid and cried myself to sleep many nights because I was afraid that the world would end before I worked through my doubts and I wouldn’t go to heaven.

I guess I had somewhere along the line lost hold of that truth of Jesus Christ’s love for me that I had simply believed as a child.

Romans 8:34

34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

I struggled for a few years. One day I confessed these doubts and fears to my mom, and she grabbed my hand and held it tightly while speaking truth to me.

I think a few different thing made this struggle so hard for me. I was homeschooled all my life and sheltered from a lot, but I still heard other worldviews. And I think because I’ve always been such a deep thinker and feeler, I went through that sort of journey of figuring out what you believe for yourself a lot younger than some people.

I was just entering my teenage years, and becoming very insecure at that point. I didn’t share a lot with other people, which kept me isolated inside my own little world of overwhelming fears and doubts. (When you don’t share some things with others, they can become magnified and instead of fighting and finding help, you retreat further into yourself and only deepen the struggle.) And I was a people-pleaser and it wounded me a lot when people got upset with me. I questioned if my presence was wanted in many places. I questioned if I was loved.

Now, I still knew my mom loved me. But we have different personalities and we kind of clashed during some of my teenage years. I wondered sometimes if she cared about things I was going through – though she did! I just didn’t know very well how to communicate with her (or probably anyone else, for that matter.)

So if I was questioning if I was loved and wanted by the people around me and closest to me, it’s not a huge wonder that I was questioning things about my faith. I think at the root of it all was a question: Am I lovable to God?

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Can I trust Him with my heart and my soul and my life and my everything … or am I going to have to figure something else out?

And what was that “something else” that I was going to have to figure out??

It was a process. Sometimes during church, I would feel like the preacher (once it was my uncle 🙂 ) was speaking directly to me. But I was too scared to hope that it was God pursuing me.

But He did pursue me.

One night, when I was fourteen or fifteen (probably), I was sitting on my bed reading my Bible. I don’t remember what I was reading, but I started to cry. I just knew in that moment that God was there and it was going to be okay.

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I got baptized at fifteen-years-old. I was still struggling at that point, but I knew the Bible talked about getting baptized and I wanted to be obedient to the Lord in that. Even though I was struggling, I knew what course I was going to pursue. I was going to follow God.

Joshua 24:16-18

16 So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

I think it was around that time that I started developing friendships with some great Christian people and got more involved in youth group, was a co-counselor at a youth camp, went on an inner-city mission trip, and eventually joined the young adult/singles Bible study that really, really impacted me.

The people in this Bible study were some of the few people that made me feel absolutely welcome. Like I was wanted there. Like I was part of them. Like I was accepted and even liked and cherished. They are beautiful people and truly touched the lives of my older brother and I.

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1 John 4:15-16

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

I was growing and learning and enjoying time with my friends. I read some books by Eric & Leslie Ludy and the like that really touched me.

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There were days I felt amazing passion, joy, and peace as I sought the Lord. I was serious about my walk with Him. I started a prayer journal and tried to read my Bible more often.

So even though there was still struggles, a deep desire had been born inside me. I want to know God more.

After graduating at seventeen and moving with my family to another state, my anxiety got pretty bad.

See, I had grown a lot in my faith, but I was still struggling with trusting God with absolutely everything. And I do believe, in my case, this is pretty deeply rooted in insecurity and not feeling wanted.

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So my life went. Faith blossomed, and faith waned. I struggled and I fought. I fretted and I feared.

But my deepest heart’s desire stayed the same through it all, I believe. I want Jesus.

And somewhere deep down I was started to truly believe. He wasn’t going to give up on me. He wasn’t going to let me wallow in this fear and anxiety and lack of trust for the rest of my days. He had begun a work in me and He is going to finish it. Because He cares.

Philippians 1:3-6

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

1 Peter 5:6-7

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.

It was last year that I started praying out loud. Going on long prayer walks. Pouring out my heart to the Lord. Though sometimes I felt very aware of my small voice all alone in the big world, I also felt close to God during these prayer walks. I felt such peace. I felt fearlessness. I felt hope. I felt a true delight in Him awakening in me.

Psalm 63:3-4

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

I started being more intentional about reading my Bible everyday. Starting my morning with a devotional and with my thoughts on the Lord.

The end of last year/beginning of this year I finally actually faced how truly insecure I was. I’ve mentioned this before in some posts. And I realized, I need to claim God’s love for me. I need to believe that I am His cherished daughter. I need to find my security in Him. I need to stop comparing my spiritual journey with other people’s. I need to fight dark lies with prayer, the Word, and Jesus Christ’s powerful name. I need to take hold of His promises and step into His love.

Enough trying so hard to serve Him while still wondering if I’m truly wanted and delighted in, and therefore withholding some of my trust.

Enough hiding from my fears – stuffing them deep inside and not addressing them.

Time to get honest.

Lord, I’m afraid. I don’t understand. Please help my unbelief.

Time to speak truth over myself.

You, Shantelle, are a beloved daughter of God. And nothing can snatch you from His hand. Don’t you see? You never earned His favor, He just wanted you and chose you and now you belong to Him forever because of Jesus’ blood.

He sees me. He won’t give up on me. He won’t let anything take me from His loving grip. And I will fight all the darkness and strive to keep my eyes on Him.

John 10:27-30

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 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. 30 I and My Father are one.”

I’ve watched my faith grow amazingly. I’ve felt myself hunger for God’s Word. My passion for prayer and belief of its power has deepened. I feel the assurance of His love fill my lonely heart. I’ve watched myself change by His work in me – little by little. My desire to live my life for His glory and honor has only grown through the years!

And my eyes have been opened to the reality that I am not alone and my life can be a love story with Him. In a world that can be so uncertain and unstable and harsh, He is constant and no one can take Him from me.

Dear reader, I am not perfect, but my God is.

And if you are struggling, I want you to know that your life can be a love story with Him too! He has more than enough room for you to be His cherished daughter (or son) too! You can have a personal relationship with God and truly experience His genuine, forgiving, redeeming, beautiful, all-encompassing love.

Seek Him with all that you are!

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

God is faithful and holy and pure and love.

May He bless you and wrap you in His love.

❤ Lady Grace