What is Grace?

As Christians, we often hear about grace, but what is grace? Webster Dictionary defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification b: a virtue coming from God c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance.” Biblically Romans 3:23-25 defines grace also being unmerited divine assistance given to us through Jesus Christ.

‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; ‘ ROMANS 3:23-25 NASB

Grace is something we experience daily. As believers, we know that His grace and mercy are new every morning in our life from Lamentations 3:22-23.

‘It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. ‘ Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV

So how can we see grace, how is grace manifested? I think the easiest way to identify an undeniable “grace moment” in your life it is to recall a situation where you know the outcome should have been bad, all the ingredients were present for the worst possible outcome but somehow divinely it didn’t turn out that way, that’s grace.

When I was backslidden and living in the world, I remember one night in my 20’s I was driving drunk from a friends house in Aberdeen, MD to my house in Baltimore, MD more than 35 miles away. I remember people not wanting me to drive but I fought them off and I left anyway and they couldn’t stop me. After getting in my car I backed into someone’s else’s car. Everyone just stood there in shock as I pulled off.  After that, I blacked out and didn’t remember anything that happened after I backed into the car and drove off. I made it home it home that night, but I knew that I should have been dead or in jail because I was severely inebriated and in no condition to drive. However, God showed up and extended His grace to me and everyone else that was on my path that night.

Of course, the ultimate example of grace is Jesus dying on the cross for our sins! I find it amazing that even after sending His only son to die for our sins, God STILL extends grace to us daily and I thank God for His mercy. I’m a living witness that grace is “mercy, not merit.”Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and not getting what you do deserve.

I would love to hear your grace story share it with me below in the comments!

Is It Time Yet?

is it time yet

 

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Habakkuk 2:3

As I ended 2018 and began 2019, this is one of the scriptures that has spoken the most to me. Why? Because, as a single girl looking forward to married life, it’s hard to remember that God’s timing is perfect. No matter how frustrating it may seem to me, God knows why this isn’t the time yet.

Is that what I wanted to hear? Absolutely not.

Is it what I needed? Yes.

This scripture is encouraging to me — and hopefully to you, as well — because it isn’t a “no” kind of answer. It’s all in the timing. Even if the vision before me, the things I want so badly, aren’t here yet, they will have their time.

Timing isn’t my favorite subject because let’s face it, I can be just as impatient as the next guy. Waiting? What’s that? Why do I have to wait? Why can’t I have what I want, when I want it?

Why do I have to wait longer? Hasn’t it been long enough?

These are questions I’ve prayed and journaled over and over again. I’m a hopeless romantic, so why can’t I see some romance? (Can I get a witness, somebody?)

The truth it, God never said I wouldn’t see my romance. He’s just been telling me to wait.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Psalm 27:14

Even in my period of waiting, God supplies the courage and strength for me to go on. To endure and to thrive in this time of preparation.

I know I’ve been talking a lot about timing lately, but that’s what God has been placing in my heart. His timing is best and He always asks us to do things that will benefit us in the end.

For example (STORY TIME!!!):

I write. Constantly. Mostly books, because I love to craft stories. So, when the beginning of December came and God told me to take a break from writing until January, I admit to balking a little.

Okay, so it was more than a little. I desperately wanted to just push on. To keep going while I had momentum and to start something new while I was at it. However, after a lot of prayers and arguing with Jesus (not my brightest idea), I did as I felt led to do. I stopped writing for the duration of December.

Of course, when I started, I didn’t know that my computer would crash a week later, leaving me without anything to write with. I didn’t know that during that time I wasn’t writing, I would discover a beautiful new idea for an awesome new book and be able to spend all that writing time fleshing out characters and scenarios and places in the story world.

But God knew. And His timing was perfect.

If I hadn’t listened, how stressed would I have been when my computer crashed? I would have lost so much work and been so upset. But I wasn’t, because all my finished projects were backed up.

If I hadn’t listened, would I have been able to hear the new ideas for this story I’m so excited to start? Maybe not. Because I would have been too focused on what I was doing.

God’s timing applies to each and every area of our lives. He knows what’s best for us and He wants us to live to our full potential. It makes Him exuberantly happy when we listen to the things He whispers to our hearts.

Which is why, today, I want to leave you with one last scripture.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…”

Ecclesiastes 3:11a

If it isn’t His time yet, that thing you’re waiting for probably just hasn’t blossomed into something beautiful. It will, if you’re patient, and if you keep the faith while you’re waiting.

Keep fighting for the things you’ve been promised! I’ll be right here beside you.

When Happy Seems Far Away

is god perfecting you_ (1)

There are so many things I could discuss with you guys. So many emotions that go through my mind and heart on a daily basis. So many hopes and dreams that I’m sure you all share with me. However, as we don’t have time or coffee today, I’m going to share with you one thing I’ve been learning recently.

As single women, we often feel that this is a time in life to “get through”. We long for the day our man sweeps us off our feet. We secretly plan our future wedding (don’t deny it, you know you do). We imagine what lazy days will be like after we’re married. How our hubby will treat us. And somewhere in the middle of all that dreaming, we lose our sense of peace and contentment.

We start to wonder why it’s taking so long. If only… 

It’s those thoughts that will drag you down into the quagmire of depression. Did you know that we’re stronger than we think?

So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (TPT)

Even though we may feel like it’s the end of the world. Like nothing will ever go right and maybe, sometimes, like God is keeping things from us, I can assure you that isn’t the case!

God sees all, knows all, and is all. He knows the timing that’s going to make your future relationship beautiful. He knows everything you need and everything you want. He knows your heart and He is willing to inconvenience you to bless you with everything He has in store.

Our job is to let His strength move through us. We can’t give up! Even if we’re taking it one day at a time (and believe me, I am), we have to live each day to God’s standard. We have to believe that He knows what he’s doing. There is no one who cares more about us.

So how do we stay positive when the world is looking bleak?

“for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

Philippians 4:11b

According to Paul, contentment is a learned art. So what do we do? We let God teach us.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines contentment as “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.”

So where are you feeling unsatisfied? If you can pinpoint that, it’s not as hard to turn it around and find a new perspective on it. Find the beauty in where you’re at right now. It may seem difficult at first, but trust me, it gets easier with time.

So what are you going to thank God for today? How are you going to walk down the road of contentment while you’re still in this season of preparation?

Acts Of Obedience

 

Acts of OBEDIENCE

We’ve all been there. The place where God is telling you to do something. In my case, an act of faith. He doesn’t always tell us how, He just asks us to do. In my case, after a lot of prayer about what to do, God’s answer came in three simple words: prepare for rain.

Sounds easy, right? Except it wasn’t. The direct order was followed by a whole lot more prayer and a lot of questions to myself about what to do. How to do it.

You see, God’s instructions are always simple, but they’re not always easy. Take practically any direct order from the Bible, and you’ll see.

For example:

Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”

Judges 6:14 (NLT)

See? Simple but not easy.

I love the story of Gideon, because I relate to him on so many levels. Gideon had the potential to be a mighty warrior, but he didn’t see it in himself. His own insecurities ruled his life.

He was hiding, a cynical man who didn’t think God would ever use him. Gideon wasn’t actually a warrior of Israel. He grew wheat. But he also feared God. He knew, deep down, what to do, but he was scared to do it. So he asked for signs right from the get-go.

Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me. 18 Don’t go away until I come back and bring my offering to you.”

He answered, “I will stay here until you return.”

19 Gideon hurried home. He cooked a young goat, and with a basket of flour he baked some bread without yeast. Then, carrying the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out and presented them to the angel, who was under the great tree

Judges 6:17-19 (NLT)

And of course, everyone knows that after that, he asked for more signs. I so relate to this! Sometimes I find myself asking God “can you just give me something to work with?” when I should really just be trusting His plan.

Deep down, we all want to obey God. We think we really trust Him. We know He’s good and has good plans for us. But then, sometimes, His timing just isn’t as fast as we’d like. He makes promises, but they don’t come to pass as quickly as we expected.

It’s in these seasons of life that we learn how to obey even when we don’t feel like it. It’s here that we “prepare for rain”, even when we don’t see a cloud on the horizon.

I won’t say it’s been easy to obey this command. It took a solid two weeks for me to figure out what I could do as an act of faith. I procrastinated another week before I started working on it. I’m still in the middle of the project. And there still doesn’t appear to be an answer to the original prayer. But I’m obeying, despite what I see. Because I know my God is good and His timing is perfect. Because I know, if I follow His commands and obey what He says, the best is in store for me.

IS GOD PERFECTING YOU?

 

Is God Perfecting You_

 

Have you ever prayed and asked God for something and then immediately it seems like everything goes wrong or gets worse, and everything that you don’t want to happen happens? If you’ve ever felt like this, you’re not alone!

A few months ago I was on my break at work, and I was talking with God in prayer, and as I was just sitting in His presence, He spoke to me. He said, Daughter, my people seek me in prayer, and I respond to them, but when I answer their prayers they cry out to me again asking me to make it stop.

I was in shock, and I ask the Lord what He means. He said my people pray for strength, so I allow a difficult situation to come their way to strengthen them, but instead of being strong and pressing through, they cry out to me saying make it stop Lord. They pray to grow in love, so I bring people to them who have been written off by the world as “too difficult to love,” yet they come back to me asking me to remove that person from their life. They want to grow in the fruits of the Spirit, yet when I place them in the fire to stretch and mold them, they cry out for me to stop. How can you grow in love if your love is not tested? How can you grow in kindness, if your kindness is not tested? How can you grow in patience if your patience is not tested? How can you grow in joy if your joy is not tested? How can you be strong if your strength is not tested?

When I tell you it took everything in me not to shout in that stairwell at work!!! That thing hit me, and all I could say was WOW, forgive me, Father!

The Bible tells us that we are tested and tried:

James 1:2-4 ESV

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

1 Peter 1:7 ESV

So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Some of us are stuck in situations because we don’t want to go through anything, but God wants us to walk through the fire so He can refine us, so He can shape us, stretch us, mold us, and purify us! So count at all joy my sweet sister when you are faced with various trials trust that God will see you through. He is our strength when we are weak. So as you are pressed past your comfort zone, trust that the Creator of the universe will lead you through. Be encouraged!

 

 

You’re Kind of Pretty

I was in high school, going through one of those phases where it seems like “everyone has a boyfriend but you”.  I was tired of being home alone when my friends went on dates.  I was over and done with being the third wheel on outings.  I didn’t understand why I was not on anyone’s radar.  Even to the point where none of my friend’s boyfriends were thinking of introducing me to their friend.  I didn’t get it.

One night, I was watching my friend finish up her hair and make up.  I was third wheeling it, once again.  I cried out in lament, “What is wrong with me?  Why can’t I get just ONE date?”; tossing myself on her bed in the most dramatic way possible.  My friend, of about 12 years at that point, said:

I really don’t know.  You’re kind of pretty.

Kind of.

Certainly not the encouragement one would hope for from her best friend.  Nor was it followed up with any sort of help either.  If she told me that I dressed like a hobo or needed to talk about something other than unicorn collectible figurines… that would be something.  But nothing.  End of sentence.  Back to hair styling and lipstick.

Kind of pretty.

I knew that in a sea of sun-kissed blondes, in S. Florida, I was an oddity.  Porcelain skin and fiery red hair sticks out like a sore thumb around these parts.  I had never considered that I wasn’t attractive at all, or not fun to be around.  I had loads of guys as friends.  But, my dance card remained empty.

In this time of being alone, I learned a few things.  I watched my friends navigating in and out of relationships.  I began to get a better idea of what I did and didn’t want out of a relationship.  I also learned something about my friends, as I watched each of them alter their personality to fit the interests of their new beaus.

He likes country music, she likes country music.  He is into deep sea fishing, she is into deep sea fishing.  He loves Mountain Dew… oh my gosh, so does she.  Music preferences changed by the month.  How the girls dressed and what fashion trends they followed created a mountain of clothes hiding in their closets and spilling out their drawers.  I also watched these same girls being ultra conservative with the guys they picked up at youth group, and then wearing next to nothing when it was the guy they met at the beach.  In order to stay in relationships and never be single, these girls were compromising their “true self”… all of the time.

I learned in my season of drought, that I needed to be true to myself.  I needed to really figure out who I was, what I wanted out of life, and where I was heading before I could even consider who would becoming along for the ride.  If I don’t really understand myself, how could I ever find my place in a relationship?  How could a relationship be built on honesty and commonality if I transformed myself at every flash of a cute smile or twinkling in a casual eye wink?

On an even deeper level, I realized that the relationship I wanted to focus on most was between myself and God.  If I was going to conform to anyone, I wanted to conform to His image (Romans 8:29).  I needed to embrace the way He knit me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), and the very hairs on my head that He knew the count of (Luke 12:7).  And so, I began to make new decisions.

I would stop dying my hair to hide the fiery locks that He chose for me.  No more bottles of various temporary tan lotions would scatter my bathroom.  The time to stop wallowing over boys was upon me.  I was going to choose to focus on all the wonderful things about being single.  From not having to share my popcorn and drink at the movies, nor having to worry about someone stealing fries off my plate.  I didn’t have to worry about what activities WE could afford to do, but what I could afford to do.  I learned to be brave and go places by myself.

I can assemble furniture, change the oil in my car, get a quote on home repairs, and so much more.  It wasn’t that I didn’t “need a man”, but rather that I became more comfortable with myself until the right man came along.  I was no longer on the hunt, but living life to the fullest.  I have great memories of that drought season, and that independence has served me well even in my marriage today.  I am great helper to my husband because he can count on me to do so many things in his absence.  I was exactly the kind of woman he needed in his life.

The season of drought allowed me to figure out who God wanted me to be, and to travel those roads.  I had no idea, that at the very same time, God was working on the heart of a guy who was among our circle of friends.  In this same time that I was figuring out my way, the Lord was changing him from a boy into a man.  One night, many years later, hanging out as a group like we had always done… something was different.  These two familiar faces were suddenly being seen in a new light.

Less than a year later we were married.  That was twenty years ago.

We tend to think of droughts as bad, negative forces.  However, for the wetlands, droughts are wonderful news.  It actually allows the land to rejuvenate itself, the old becomes new again.  Now when I feel like I am in a dry spell, I embrace it as a time to rejuvenate myself.  Whether the dry season is related to relationships (romantic or friendship), your career, or even your ministry calling… droughts allow us to focus on God and His purposes.  Lean in to Him, to be the living waters in a dry land.  Lean into Him, to cleanse the dust from your heart.  Allow Him to work IN you, rejuvenating you from the inside out.

Hands Off

 

Hands Off (1)

There are times in life when you want something so badly it hurts, keeps you up at night, and pervades most of your thoughts, actions, and purposeful direction. I’m at that stage in life right now, aching for several things. Things I’ve been working toward for years and still seem no closer to achieving.

This morning, I opened my current devotional book and found:

“The LORD said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you’.”

Genesis 12:1

At first, it didn’t seem like this has much to do with this deep, aching, all-consuming desire within me. Until I looked past the surface and saw what God was really asking Abram to do.

Leave your country. The people you’re loyal to, the ones who influence your personal culture and tell you what is acceptable. Your people… The ones you’ve grown up with and value their opinions. And your father’s household… Your family, the ones who put expectations on you and advise you. Go to the land I will show you. 

God looked at Abram and told him; “Take your hands off this situation and let me handle it. Do what I say and trust Me to know what’s best for you.”

Girls, that’s hard. Sometimes it’s the hardest when we want something the most because a nagging little voice asks us “but what if God doesn’t want this for me?”

Let me tell you something. God is good. He wants what’s best for you, and he placed those desires in your heart. If it’s a Godly desire, he wants it for you! He wants you to have the best, and He’s willing to give it to you. Don’t doubt that He will give you the absolute best of everything. If what you’re wanting lines up with His word, there’s no reason for Him to say no.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.”

Psalm 73:25

You see, the trick is to get so lost in God that you don’t care if you get those earthly things! He wants what is best for you, so why would you need anything but to love him? If my eyes are so focused on God that I don’t look around me, it seems so much shorter a wait when his plan finally unfolds before my eyes.

Girls, we don’t have to fret, because God has this! Throw your hands up and let it go, let him take it off your shoulders. There’s no need to fret and there’s no need to stress. Take your hands off and let the hands of the sovereign, beautiful God crush you to His chest. Get lost in Jesus and watch God bring you blessing after blessing, even things you never thought would happen!

I love you all, and I want only the best for you, just like your Jesus. Stick with me, girls! Hold on and keep the faith. I promise you everything will be so worth it in the end.

Is Singleness Your Calling?

singleness

Like me, you may still be getting those unsolicited lectures from relatives asking: “When are you going to get married?” “When are you going to have children? We won’t be alive forever.” Don’t let society’s view of relationships and singleness discourage you. Some people are called to be single. While that may sound like bad news to the world, the Bible states it as ideal.

“He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife” 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 NKJV

“But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 NKJV

The benefit of not being married is that you can focus your thoughts on the Lord and what pleases Him. When you are married, you have the worldly obligation to care for your husband or wife. This is not a bad thing for those who are married. The Bible says it’s far better to marry than lust after someone.

Being a single young Christian woman with the desire to get married I understand the struggles that many women face. Make God your priority in your single season. Use this time to build your relationship with Christ and serve Him wholeheartedly. I urge everyone who is single and wants to be married to consult God. Spend time praying, fasting and sitting at God’s feet. If marriage is God’s plan for you, it will happen in His perfect timing. If we seek God above all else, He will provide all the things that we need. Let’s stand on the promise of God’s Word!

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NKJV