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: 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.

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: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

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One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

My Personal Review ~ 5 stars ~

Truly a worthwhile read! This book surprised me and moved me. I am in love with Ann Voskamp’s writing style … it is poetic, deep, and rich. It reaches in and takes a hold of me at a soul-deep level. Oh, it was beautiful – pulling at deep, deep parts of me. Making me strive to understand, and also feel like maybe I could just let go and rest in God’s goodness and love.

Could it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God? ~ Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are is bittersweet, and triumphant, and marvelously revealing. My heart wept for the tragedy endured, yet exulted for the glory, and freedom, and love discovered! Ann Voskamp is very honest and vulnerable, sharing openly from her heart. I get a glimpse into this life of a farmer’s wife and a mother of six. This woman who has faced raw heartbreak and hardship, and struggles against anxiety and listlessness.

In the messy, Jesus whispers, “What do you want?” and in the ugly, I cry, “I want to see – see You in these faces.” He speaks soft, “Seek My face.” ~ Ann Voskamp

I loved reading about the day-to-day experiences and getting a look at Ann’s relationship with God as she cries out, grows, wrestles, surrenders, and rests in the security of Christ. I loved the triumph, the bittersweet, the struggle, the hope, and the glorious beauty.

When I choose – and it is a choice – to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness? ~ Ann Voskamp

This is a thought-provoking book that changed me. And I pray that I live in this change. I am so thankful to my God, and to Ann Voskamp for sharing her testimony.

What a book. I just really loved it and highly recommend. Such deep content. If you struggle with fear … depression … ingratitude … One-Thousand Gifts will challenge you and lift your heart.

I am a child in His arms and His breath falls warm upon my face and what I feel for this daughter He feels for me, and the gifts, all these gifts I keep counting, they are His love gifts and they’re slowly waking me up to the tenderest, fiercest Love of all. ~ Ann Voskamp

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!

Book Review: Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back? by Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield

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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

My Personal Review ~ 4.5 stars ~

This was a great Christian Living read! Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back? by Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield speaks to real struggles with frankness, applicable ideas, hope, and a generous dash of humor. These ladies know how I feel! *smiles* After just finishing Fearless by Cheri Fuller, this book felt like the perfect companion read. It addressed fear and anxiety – talked about facing life with courage and prayer – like Fearless, but was a bit of a lighter read and had me almost laughing out loud many a time!

Basically, Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back? helps you to be upfront with yourself, face your fears, and ask yourself if you’re going to keep hiding, or live the abundant life God has called you too. Honestly, people like myself, who struggle with fear, anxiety, depression, or listlessness, need books like this! I very much recommend. It’ll get you laughing while taking a look at your heart.

What did I learn? Run to God as soon as the fear/hopelessness hits! Pray continuously. Live life! Laugh! Walk by the Spirit. Sometimes I think we just take ourselves too seriously. God didn’t mean for us to live in bondage (whatever that may be), but to be FREE, walking by His Spirit. Trusting Him. With all that we are.

Easy to read, humorous, real, and heartfelt, Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back?: Facing Life with Courage, Not Comforters has the potential to help a lot of women realize they don’t have to hide anymore. God has it all under control. They’re alive and breathing, and He has a plan! I thoroughly enjoyed.

I received a copy of Can I Just Hide in Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back? from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

** Originally posted on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life June 18th, 2017 **

To Be Complete

My friends, I have been on a journey of rediscovering my joy and passion. In the past couple years, I’ve struggled a lot … but life is coming back to me! I’m learning to put my faith in my Lord. Find my hope in my Heavenly Father.

It isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be really hard work! Some days you feel like you’re taking two steps back for every one forward. But I am growing – and oh, isn’t that a lovely thing? ^_^

If you are feeling frightened and hopeless like I was when I wrote the post below (last year), then I want you to know you’re not alone. God is faithful to bring us out of the valleys in time. There is hope in front of you. And heaven is His promise for His children.

***

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Some days, I just want to go home. I’m talking about my home in heaven.

Because some days are simply hard.

I’m incredibly blessed in many ways – not lacking in food, or shelter, or material things. I have a family whom I love very much. And dear friends, whom I can at least keep in touch with online. But that’s not to say that I haven’t had a share of emotional and mental trials.

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I’ve had days of emotional pain, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and hopelessness. Where my deepest fears and hurts seem magnified into life-sized foes. When, after an exhausting battle with irrational terror, I just want to curl up in a dark corner and fade away in non-existence.

I’ve experienced being thrust into confusing and difficult times … where hope is dashed … And my joy in life suddenly wanes. One day I wake up and realize I can’t see a future for myself.

Even after the intense hurt diminishes, I’m still left with a frustrating listlessness. A lack of excitement for life.

I feel purposeless. What is the point of my life? I feel hopeless. I can’t change things. I can’t make it better.

Sometimes I struggle to trust God. God, do You really, really care? I mean, how could someone like me have Your love? You who created galaxies and conquered death and reign for eternity. There are so many people who serve You so much better than I do.

Do You really see me, God, down here, afraid of everything?

Other days, I think I get a glimpse of His glory, and suddenly my soul longs for heaven, the place it was surely created for!

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There, I will know and be fully known. There, I will know that I am utterly and completely loved. There, my doubts, fears, and struggles will be entirely gone. There, I will see Jesus face to face! There, I will run to His arms and feel love, security, and peace. –And awe. Awe for my King.

There, I will be complete.

And here on earth, where the heart is burdened, it sounds particularly beautiful, the thought of being complete. The thought of resting in Jesus’ presence. Of praising His holy name in abandon.

For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

2 Corinthians 5:4

But, I suppose there’s still work for me to do here. And as hopeless and bleak as I sometimes feel my future is, God must have a plan. Because I’m still here. The world is still turning.

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.

Jeremiah 29:11

So. I need to choose to trust God. To surrender to Him. Even in the hurt and the fear, I need to reach out and cling to Him, where He’s waiting for me.

Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:7-8

I must stop letting the darkness surround me and the Enemy’s lies cloud my thinking. Deep down, I know I’m letting darkness win when I stay in the hopeless place, afraid. Afraid of life. Afraid to reach out to the Lord.

No more. Because Satan does not claim the victory. I do. Through Jesus Christ and His awesome sacrifice and love! Because I am a Daughter of Light. And I can take my God’s Word and speak truth over myself.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:8

For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness.

2 Samuel 22:29

Speak truth! Always, always, speak truth. Cling to hope. Dive into love with abandon. God is love. And He loves me. He loves you. Even when we don’t believe it, He loves us absolutely, unconditionally.

My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.

Psalm 62:5

My dear friends, if you understand how I feel, if you’re afraid, if you’re feeling hopeless, please don’t struggle alone. I’m here for you, a sister in Christ. Let me know if you want me to pray for you, or if you need someone to talk to.

Speak truth, brothers and sisters. Live for Jesus. And look forward to heaven. –Where we will be complete.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

1 Peter 1:3-4

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

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** Originally published on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life, April 15th, 2016 **