The Journey Home

Author: Jessica Stinson

Recently, I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend.  We got to talking about Romans 8:28. We acknowledged it is easy for us to think when it says “all things work together for good,” it means good for us, but a lot of the time, good for us is not really what is best.  

Sometimes God leads us to good after what seems like a lot of bad.  Yet His good is way sweeter than the best good we could have imagined.  That is because when we surrender our lives to God, He orchestrates every moment to bring glory to Himself.  This describes my last year, and the seven moves within it perfectly.

The first three moves were a result of graduating college and waiting out fifty applications.  By July, I was offered a 4th-grade teaching position, and amazingly already had housing lined up; things seemed perfect.  Three weeks after moving in, perfect was farthest from the truth. My uncle’s sister offered me a safe place to live while I searched for a better situation, and within hours my belongings were in a pile in her garage.  That moment seemed so backward. Here I was now living 1-1 ½ hours away from work depending on traffic, not to mention a different state! Yet, I wouldn’t trade those next 11 weeks. I began to heal and got to spend precious time with her parents who were visiting from Nigeria.

Jessica Stinson Home

 

Each night as I walked in the door, Grandpa would look up with a warm smile and sparkling eyes and say, “Jessica, you are home.  Welcome.” My aunt was happy to let me rent from her and joked I could stay until my wedding day. However, we both agreed the commute was killer and could be dangerous come winter.  By then all the other housing situations I had looked into had fallen through, and I told God that I gave up on looking.

Isn’t it funny that the next Sunday at church I was approached by a friend and asked to consider renting a room from him and his wife?  It was everything I had been praying for, except I couldn’t afford it. I was so disappointed. I cried and asked God why He would show me such a great situation but not make it possible?  Silly me, 3 weeks would change that.

The weekend after Thanksgiving I moved in with my two friends and their two kids; knowing that we would move again when they bought a house. I’m not going to lie, though I was excited to move in with them, I had fears of everything falling apart.  What if it turned out to be everything like Move #4? I’m so glad it has been everything but. I have continued to heal and come back out of the shell I retreated to after being hurt. It has been refreshing to witness the genuine love they have for each other, and a joy to play with their kids.  Every day I find myself thanking God that I get to live with them, knowing only God could have carried me through this crazy year.

Home Jessica Stinson.png

Clearly, I have thought a lot about home this year.  Home is not just a place to rest your head, home is a place to be at rest and belong.  The thing is, I can guarantee no matter how great your home is now, it is not perfect. That is because as Christians, our true home is in Heaven.  The fact that Heaven is home, gives us hope and freedom while we remain on earth.  This year has been an adventure.  But my ultimate adventure is following Jesus every day.  Which means home is wherever God has called me to be in this moment.  That is why I have been able to call the side of a mountain, a foreign country, a dorm room, where I live now, and so many other places home.  It does not need to make sense to others, because God will be faithful to provide for me.

I still live across the state border from work.  But God has blessed me with a reliable car, a safe place to live, a joyful place to work, great music for the ride between, and funds to survive. Plus, who else gets to see skyscrapers, mountain sunrises, a pink limousine, and cows in their commute?

In return, I will be faithful to go where God leads me and do what he has called me to. Looking towards the future can be ominous sometimes. But by trusting God, and doing what He says, I can be sure that He will make a way.  It may not always be perfect, or what I imagined, but it will definitely be good and leave me with a grateful heart as I follow my Savior to my true home.


IMG_5532Jessica is a lover of laughter and adventures. She enjoys pointing out the fun and beauty of learning to her 4th-grade students. The best compliment she ever received from a student was, “Miss Stinson, I feel like everything you do relates to Jesus, math, or singing.” Outside of the classroom, you will most likely find her hiking and taking pictures. Mountain summits, sunrises, s’mores, hot apple cider, dalmatians, and puns hold a special place in her heart. Her ultimate adventure is following Jesus each and every day.
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Finding Home

Author: Karly Grant

What do Chris Daughtry, Macaulay Culkin, Bowflex, and The Bible have in common? They all, in varying ways, have used their platform to influence our culture’s ideas about home.

What is this vague, yet familiar idea of “home” that we all use in our daily lives, yet have a hard time defining? Is it a place? Is it people? Is it an ideal? Is it a concept that can never be fully understood or reached?

This elusive ideal seems difficult to pin down because it is subjectively based on our own life experiences. Below are some of the influences that have shaped my view of this seemingly abstract word.  

Music

Music has always played a huge role in my life.  Often songs can put my thoughts and prayers into words better than I can. Musicians have long tapped into the nostalgia that we create around this place called home. From classics like “Home on the Range” to holiday comforts like “I’ll be Home for Christmas” something about our dwelling places awakens our emotions.  

This is where Chris Daughtry comes in. If you recall, Chris Daughtry was on the fifth season of American Idol (and got sent home way too early in my heart-throbbing opinion). After the show, he successfully made a career out of being a musician. One of his most popular songs is simply called “Home,” with lyrics such as, “I’m going home, back to the place where I belong, and where your love has always been enough for me.” Is home a place? Is it people? Is it about having somewhere we belong?

Growing up in the church, another voice that influenced my teen years was Steven Curtis Chapman’s. In 1997, he released the song, “Not Home Yet” and you better believe that CD was spinning in my Discman on repeat. The idea is that, no matter how comfortable we are, we will not really reach our home until we’re in Heaven praising God. There is a longing only met outside of this world, a longing that awakened after the exile from Eden.

Movies

Another vociferous influence in our lives is the film industry. Home is an ideal that we can all relate to, so there are several movies that focus on this. One of the first things that pops into my head is Macaulay Culkin and the beloved Home Alone franchise. I can’t tell you how many times I watched and laughed through these movies as a kid. I watched the first two again around Christmas this last year, and sadly (maybe proudly) could still recite most of the lines. Just in case you need a refresher, Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone while his family goes on a vacation, people try to break into his house, and hilarious shenanigans ensue. By the end of it, while he had technically been home all along he misses his family. So what is home? Is it people more than a place? Is it knowing to whom we belong?

Home Karly Grant (1).png

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Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all influenced by advertisements every day. From billboards to infomercials, from radio ads to catchy jingles, it is impossible to avoid. One major selling tactic that is used is to convince you that you never need to leave your house because you can use this product or that “from the comfort of your own home” (i.e. Bowflex home gym)! Whether it be online shopping, working out, or even taking college courses, these advertisers are all about comfort. So what is home? Is it where you’re most comfortable? Is it our belongings?

The Bible

Why is there so much confusion about this idea of home? Is it about comfort? Is it about people? Is home where your family is? This is something I’ve been pondering a lot in my own life. If it’s about people, how does that fit with where God has me as a single person who lives alone? We often use comfort or familiarity to define home. For instance, our place of employment is often called our home away from home because it’s where we spend a large chunk of our lives. We call our places of worship our home churches. All of these things seem to play a role in what we see as home, but I think that maybe the reason we have a hard time pinpointing what exactly defines this idea is because Steven Curtis Chapman had it right all along. We’re not home yet.

Karly Grant Home

Our home is ultimately with Christ, in a world without sin, where we will know ultimate comfort, peace, and be in the presence of our perfect King who loves us more than anyone in our current lives ever could. It is where our hope belongs.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2, ESV).


Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption.

 

 

Images found at Pixabay

 

Who am I?

Author: Karly Grant

One thing that never ceases to amaze me (although I shouldn’t be surprised by it) is how when there’s something I’m supposed to hear or learn, God uses several different people and situations to teach me. He reminds me of that thing and makes it abundantly clear that I need to listen to what He has to say. Well, folks, it’s happened yet again. Over the last couple of weeks, the words in Psalm 139 have played this role. I’ve heard them in podcasts, sermons, and even Instagram stories. On sleepless nights when I need these words to seemingly random Facebook posts, I’ve been dwelling on, proclaiming, and praying over these words more times than I can count as God consistently lays them across my path.

While dwelling on the theme of identity, I was almost instantly reminded of something that I wrote a while back and knew that I needed to find it. After a little perusing, I found a note that I had posted on Facebook a decade ago. Guess what passage I’d included at the end? That’s right, Psalm  139.

I have edited the note a bit, but the message remains the same. I pray you are blessed and see how perfectly God created you in His image through these words.

Who Am I?

I am Karly Grant.

Possibly one day that will change.

I long for the day when I meet the man that God has for me to spend the rest of my life with, the man whose name I will take.

Who is He? When will God reveal His plan? What is His timing?

I long for that relationship, that companionship, that connection that can only be found in a marriage lived out by God’s design.

I long for the day when my husband and I will raise children: teach them God’s love, teach them to ride a bike, teach them to swim, teach them…

I long to hear their laughter, their tears, to play with them, pray with them, and comfort them.

I long for a family of my own.

I long to be a wife and a mother through the joys and the pain.

Someday, I may have this, but even if not, God is still good.

Karly Grant Identity

I am Karly Grant.

Who am I?

I am a follower of Christ.

I am created in the image of my God and live to bring Him glory.

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He has rescued me from an eternity in hell. For that alone, I owe Him my everything, so why don’t I give it?

I strive to follow Him, to live a life after the example that He gave.

By His grace alone, I have come a long way.

I have been so blessed.

My life has drastically changed.

I know this, yet still, I wander.

Still, I fail, yet even when I fail, He is still there, still holding on to me.

I am His child. He never lets go.

I strive to live a life that is pleasing to Him,

Strive to let his light and love pour out of me and onto others.

I want to be like Him: love like Him, live like Him, serve like Him, pray like Him, bless like Him, follow Him.

I am a follower of Christ

Who am I?

I am many people, yet only one. I have many names, yet I am one person.

I am a child of God

I am a daughter

I am a sister

I am a friend

I am a prayer partner

I am forgiven

I am a co-worker

I am a worshiper

I am a witness

I am a shoulder to cry on

I am a ball of laughter

I am God’s chosen one

I am a woman

So, who am I?

I am many different people,

but most of all I am exactly who God has made me to be!

Identity Karly Gant

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
 behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
 How vast is the sum of them!
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
 Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139: 1-4, 13-17, 23-24 (ESV)

Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption.

Slow Down, Love God, and Love Others

Author: Karly Grant

Slow down, love God, and love others. These have been the convictions on my heart lately. When the word conviction comes up, I automatically think about it with negative connotations, and I imagine you do too. That doesn’t always have to be the case. While conviction comes with changes that need to be made, it doesn’t have to mean living a life of guilt, it simply means allowing God to work in and through you to make you more like Himself.

I am always in need of conviction. My flawed self needs to constantly be welcoming the Holy Spirit to move in me and change me. How have I been noticing these things lately? While God’s Word is essential, He has also used the words of others lately to stir up these convictions. Through both a quote and a book, I have been encouraged to slow down, love God, and love others.

Karly Grant Conviction

Slow Down and Love God

I recently saw a quote on Pinterest that seemed simple enough, but hit me so hard that I immediately posted it on social media, set it as my lock screen on my phone, and printed it out to post right by my front door so I would see it often. I couldn’t find the source of the quote, but it reads: “Don’t be in a hurry to leave God’s presence. Slow down. Let Him empower you. He has so much to show you, to teach you & tell you.”

More often than I’d like to admit, I find myself in such a hurry or distracted by things in life that aren’t as important. If I don’t spend time with God, seeking His truth, listening, and praying, then I am quick to focus on things that aren’t important (i.e. Netflix, comfort, social media). If I truly allow God to speak to me through His work and through prayer, and start my day like that, I can better see Him as work as I leave my apartment and encounter the world. My day is off to a better start when I start by allowing time to speak to my God and study His Words. When my day starts like this, I am more likely to trust Him and go to Him in prayer throughout my day.

Love Others

“Love God and love others” is a mantra that I heard repeatedly as I grew up in the church. At times it seems rote and redundant. Other times, such as this last month, the simple message hits me hard. As a part of a summer book club, I read the book No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert. Simply put, this book rocked my world. Coming highly recommended, I knew I’d like this novel, but I didn’t realize how deeply impacting a novel would be on my views of the world or how deeply it would stir up a desire to love God’s people.

Conviction Karly Grant

Several topics are presented in this book that are relevant to the United States today (i.e. racism, classism, adoption). I was convicted of areas that I thought I was doing pretty well in, but God used Katie’s words to show me how I could love others around me better. You never know the stories of the people around you. We are quick to judge, even when we think we aren’t. Our job as followers of Christ is to love those around us, no matter what their beliefs, lifestyles, or abilities.

Allowing God to move in and through me right where I am is how I grow and find the refreshment my soul craves. There is a reason that He had me in places physically, mentally, and spiritually different than what I anticipated. He drew me deeper and used words of others to convict. I long to grow closer to Him by slowing down, loving God, and loving others well, and I’ve turned toward just that.


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. She is both terrified and excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

3 Women of the Bible Who Brought Unexpected Celebration

Author: Karly Grant

June is often a time of celebration. From graduations, end of a school year, Father’s Day and the beginning of wedding season, there is often one party after another. In my family there are several birthdays and retirements as I have always been surrounded by educators. All of these milestones are absolutely deserving of recognition, the accomplishments honored, and an acknowledgment of the hard work it took to get there. However, I would argue that it is equally as important to celebrate the victories, blessings, and accomplishments in life that may not be as planned or anticipated in our lives.

Life has not been easy lately as I’ve seen plans that I have made seemingly unravel around me. Things that I anticipated celebrating simply haven’t happened. However, God has remained faithful in showing me the small victories hidden in every day. He has used these disappointments to pave the way for His plans to find life down the road.

For example, I recently started a new job. A job for a company that I didn’t plan to work, in a state that I didn’t plan to be in, and at a different time than I would have liked. On paper, this new path I’m walking is the exact opposite of what I had planned. However, with this job comes opportunity down the road that I hadn’t anticipated, which may actually make my eventual move an easier process. I can celebrate the fact that God is opening doors, even if they are different than the doors that I have been trying to pry open myself.

Celebration Karly Grant

As I have been rejoicing in these unexpected celebrations, I can’t help but think of women in the Bible who found themselves also celebrating things they may not have anticipated or that worked out completely differently than they planned.  

Mary

The mother of Jesus. I have never walked in her shoes, who has, but I doubt that as a child she dreamed of growing up and immaculately conceiving as a teenager, which led her to give birth in a stable to the Messiah.

Even when we dream big, we can’t out dream God. His dream is likely grander than anything we have ever dreamed for ourselves. Mary didn’t plan this life and was understandably terrified as the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” Yet it didn’t take her long to trust God and celebrate. Luke 1:46-55 tells of Mary’s song which begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:46b-47 ESV). Mary rejoiced even when things didn’t go as planned.

Sarah

Let’s go back in time to another example of a woman rejoicing about pregnancy. Genesis tells the story of Sarah and Abraham. God had promised that Abraham’s offspring would become a great nation, yet Sarah found herself in her 90s with no children. She was so set in her own understanding of God’s plan that she laughed when she heard that it had been prophesied that she would give birth in her old age. She doubted God, as any of us would in that situation. Yet her laughter was turned to celebration when she named her son Isaac which means “he will laugh.” Genesis 21:6-7 records her response, “And she said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.

Esther

While childbearing was a common theme for women in the Bible and often seen as a sign of God’s favor on these women, God uses women such as Esther to show you don’t have to pop out a baby to be powerful. Esther’s bravery brought about celebrations that she never could have anticipated. When her own people were being threatened with death, she entered the palace and became the queen.  She boldly approached the king, which could have led to her death, and pled for the lives of her people to be spared. Esther trusted God and believed Mordecai’s encouragement, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV)

She confidently went to the king, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16, ESV). Esther was shown favor and her people were eventually saved from the fear of death. Esther became a leader in the land as a female, and that was a huge thing to celebrate. Even though God is not mentioned at all in the book of Esther, it is clear that He was using people in this story, and especially an orphaned girl who seemed to have no hope, to show that He gives strength and boldness to those who serve Him. Not only was Esther’s life spared, but so were many others, and we still learn from her story today. She only saw the beginning of the celebration that came from her faith and boldness.

Karly Grant Celebration

Mary, Sarah, and Esther are all examples of women laying down their own plans and living out God’s, and this is worth celebrating. Not only in the lives of these biblical characters, but also in our own lives. I have seen His faithfulness in my own life and trust that it will continue. Celebration doesn’t always come in the form of long-awaited successes or recognition. Sometimes there are blessings that God simply offers us that we can’t strive for, things to celebrate that only He can provide. I am grateful to serve a God who sees where I’m at, knows what is best for me, and shows me how to celebrate what He celebrates.


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year, she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

Diagnosing Fear

Author: Kate Franken

I hung up the phone, after having received the results of my liver ultrasound. I felt strangely calm, despite the words the doctor had spoken. I dialed my mom. The minute she picked up, the calm dissipated and the tears formed. With a shaky voice, I relayed the call, “The calcifications they found on my liver likely mean I have cancer in a nearby organ.” In response, my mother remained calm. Her words reassured.

In the hours that followed, my mind raced. I sat stuck in my classroom, grade sheets strewn about, unable to regain the pace I had been working at. Amidst the wandering of thoughts, I recalled a sermon a few Sundays before. Our congregation had been ruminating on Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” and my pastor had posed the questions: “Can, in all honesty, I say for me to die is to gain? Do you believe that departing and being with Christ would be far better than your life?” I had wanted to say “Yes” and for it to be true of me. But now as I contemplated, feeling the ticking of life’s clock, I knew “No” to be the more accurate response. I didn’t want to die.

Once I escaped the classroom, a long weekend unfurled. Visits and phone calls from friends and family kept me fairly occupied, helping me process the potential diagnosis. I got lost a time or two or more on a trail of google searches. From one conversation to the next, a long list of questions to ask the doctor arose. Invariably, tears streamed. An inordinate amount. I couldn’t control the tears. In addition, to the puffy eyes, the tears left me with redness under the eyelids that burned to the touch.

Fear Kate Franken

I felt shame that I worried. I tried to muster strength, repeatedly assuring others with “God’s got this!” A while later, in a Sunday morning sermon, God addressed this shame. The guest pastor averted our eyes to Jesus, how he wept, and how he was emotionally invested in the world. Then he posed the question: “Does Jesus know that the Father is in charge of everything? Of course, Jesus knows.” He owns his emotions and doesn’t put up a facade. Our hurts our real and we shouldn’t put up a pretense either. I loved the guest pastor’s directions to, “Feel. And look to the glory that is coming”.

Finally, Monday came. I sat before my doctor, listening to him expound on a number of potential causes for the abnormal findings on my liver. He eased my tension, conveying less certainty I had cancer than the doctor on the phone.

The next six weeks slowly passed as I took the tests ordered originally by my primary care doctor, then by my gastroenterologist, and then by my oncologist. The tests were never hard. It was in the waiting, that I crumbled.

I attempted to soften the blow of a diagnosis by imagining I already had the disease being tested for. I was already considering the cut and color of the wig I would purchase when I lost all my hair. These thoughts would come and go, particularly when I was alone. But largely, after that first week of processing my ultrasound results, I felt peace. It didn’t make sense, with what seemed to loom ahead. Frequently, I was questioned as to why I wasn’t more distraught. I didn’t have to search for an answer.

Only God can give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. No human can fabricate it. But they can pray for it. For me, God used community to bring about peace. The frequent check-ins, the intentional visits, the prayer said over and for me were constant reminders that I am not alone, God is with me.

In time, breast cancer, cervical cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, ovarian cancer, lymphoma, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, B, & C, and HIV were ruled out. However, it was discovered that my liver and the surrounding lymph nodes were enlarged. The concern for the size of the liver and lymph nodes was debated upon, but ultimately a tumor board determined that it likely isn’t cancer. I will have a cat scan in a few months to check, just in case.

Sarcoidosis remains a potential cause of my liver abnormalities. It is hard to diagnose, and even with a diagnosis, nothing can be done. There’s no cure for Sarcoidosis. I will be monitored annually with blood tests, to be privy to changes in the functioning of my liver.

I’ve learned a lot, having walked this road with its’ roller coaster hills. The fears it stirred up reminded me I’m not God. I am powerless and dependent. Power emanates from God alone.

I gained awareness of how I misplaced fear. Only God is worthy of fear. I feared cancer, just as the disciples feared the wind and the waves one stormy night. Cancer, wind, and waves are not to be feared. God controls all things. With a love that is unwavering, He chooses how to exercise His sovereignty.

Kate Franken Fear (2)I tackled a question that gnawed at my trust in God: Does God care? When things aren’t going the way we think they should, it’s easy to wonder if God even cares. But all one has to do is look at Jesus on the cross. He knows our pain. His sacrifice shows he cares infinitely. Author Bob Goff says it like it is, “Fear calls out doubts; God calls out our names. Be picky about who you listen to.” Don’t be ruled by your doubts, but be attuned to God’s voice amidst your wilderness.

 

 

God has awoken me from my slumber. While there’s is no definitive answer to my liver abnormalities, there is greater clarity on how I want to spend my life. I want Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21 to be my own. Pastor John Piper restates the verse in his own words as, “Christ is most magnified when we’re more satisfied in him than in what we lose in death and what we have in life.” May we continue to grow in our hunger for Christ and remember this is not our home. May we be like Paul, not caring what happens, just wanting the gospel to be advanced.

 

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

Finding Confident Faith in the Face of Fear

Author: Karly Grant

All of my life I’ve been a worrier. I still remember the prayer that I prayed every night before I went to sleep as a child, “Dear God, thank you for another day. Please help my family to sleep well and to stay safe. Please don’t let there be any fires, earthquakes, or anyone breaking into our house while we sleep. In Jesus name, Amen.”

As I’ve grown up, and grown in my faith, most of my fears have lessened and my prayers have become less rote (although I’m definitely not one to skimp on the “Help me, Jesus!” prayers that I often need). While most of these childish fears only return if I’m in real danger, there is one that has stuck with me from childhoodthe fear of failure. God desires for his children to live in freedom, and as he guides me through my current struggles, I am taken back to my childhood where this fear rooted long ago.

Karly Grant Fear

I revealed the litany I ran through nightly as a child, but once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I would also ask God not to let Jesus return that year. One of my earliest memories is accepting Christ at four or five years old. While I fully believe that I was saved that day, I didn’t automatically have all the answers and that scared me. I cried to my mom one day when I was about six because I was terrified of Jesus returning. I didn’t have the Bible memorized, and in my mind, I was going to get to Heaven and there would be a test. I was afraid I would fail God. My mom lovingly explained the truth to me, but for many years, I thought God would find I failed, and if I could just postpone a little longer surely I would get there. I still haven’t found perfection, but I have found grace.

God was on his own level but this fear seeped down to my relationships with family as well. There was a time when I was about eight that my family was visiting friends overnight. I woke up the next morning and the lady we were staying with told me that my parents were at the hospital because my mom had been struck with a migraine. This was a semi-common occurrence during this stage of my life, but somehow, being in a different city made it seem different. I, being the oldest of three kids at that time, felt the pressure of telling my sisters and comforting them. What if something happened to my mom? Would I know what to do? I piled unnecessary pressure on myself as a child, and I was afraid I would fail them all as I reached for my self-imposed unrealistic expectations.

_On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate._ -Psalm 145_5

Now I fear failing at life in general. I took some huge steps of faith in a direction that I felt God calling me and it looks nothing like what I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder am I failing those who supported me? I am currently unemployed and still living in a place that I am prepared to say goodbye to. My timeline has failed me, and the enemy is quick to step into this area of my life and hiss lies.

Here in the waiting is where God and I are camping. I’ve been fighting against the enemy and speaking truth about who God is and who He says I am, going from fear of failure to confidence that can only be found through God. Scripture and music have been key to remaining saturated in truth. My times of musical worship at home are anything but pretty. I often cry, sing horribly, and pound on the keys of my keyboard. While I may look miserable to an onlooker, these are sweet times with my Savior and some of the strongest points of warfare against our enemy. Michael W. Smith has a song that I’ve been listening to often these days called Surrounded. Some of the lyrics are “This is how I fight my battles… It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.

I’ve been doing a Bible study called Psalms for Prayer. While I read these Psalms that I’ve read many times before, they have been hitting me anew.

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” -Psalm 145:5

I find that reading scripture out loud and declaring the goodness of God is life-changing. God is so good. I realize in these times that I can be confident in Him. I don’t have to fear failure. He has a plan. He is with me. He never fails.


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year, she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. She is both terrified and excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

My Zealous Adonai

Author: Linda Kruschke

Adonai, my Lord of love
How I long to see Thy face
Alight on me, Holy Dove

Bread of Life, strength for the race
Thy Word, my faith, sustain me
Resting, resting on Thy grace

Creator, who made the tree
Sun and moon, all life, mankind
Thou gave us but one decree

Deliverer, oh so kind
Even when I break Thy law
Giving sight when I am blind

Elohim, I kneel in awe
Before Thy majestic throne
In Thee is nary a flaw

Father, mercy Thou hast shown
To Thy undeserving child
Though to wander I am prone

Good Shepherd, meek and mild
Keep me in Thy safe lockup
Bring me back when I’m beguiled

Holy Spirit, fill me up
By Thy abundant measure
Overflow my blessing cup

Immanuel, my treasure
Savior of humanity
Surpassing all life’s pleasure

Jesus Christ, Thy majesty
Bestowed Thy eternal gift
Poured out upon Calvary

King of kings, Thy scepter lift
As Thou lifted on the cross
From me to Thee guilt did shift

Lamb of God, my gain, Thy loss
Light of the world shining bright
Burn from my heart wicked dross

Messiah, Thy way is right
By Thee death is defeated
Prophets foretold Thy great might

Name above all names seated
Now at the Father’s right hand
Thy work, my soul, completed

One True God, salvation planned
Setting Thy people apart
On Thy sovereign grace I stand

Prince of Peace, reign in my heart
That Thee be my legacy
Never let Thy grace depart

Qanna, in Thy jealousy
Oh, let my trust in Thee grow
Remember me tenderly

Redeemer, Thou love me so
Though my days with sin are rife
Paying all that I did owe

Savior, ransom of my life
Answer my fervent requests
Rescue me from pain and strife

Truth upon which wisdom rests
Count me in Thy census
Free me from temptation’s tests

Unchanging God, most gracious
To sing Thy holy praises
Beseech Thy faithful chorus

Vine, the severed branch blazes
Abandoned fields lie fallow
Lest a new crop Thou raises

Way, Truth, and Life, I’ll follow
Word made flesh, Thou art divine
In Thy grace life’s not hollow

Examine my spirit fine
Tune me to Thy lovely gaze
Holy Spirit, gift of mine

Yahweh, the Ancient of Days
Thy virtues I will extol
Help me follow Thy ways

Zealous protector, my soul
Under Thy gaze from above
Make my broken parts a whole

Adonai, my Lord of love
Zealous One, my Holy Dove


Linda_2017_01Linda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.
This poem was originally published at Another Fearless Year.

5 Bible Passages to Quiet the Thirst of a Noisy Soul

Noise is constantly slipping through the cracks of the quiet I long for. When I seek to escape into muted moments, the chaotic racket lurks ominously in the shadows, increasing the hunger I hear growling within me. I thrust myself into the delusive peace of TV binges and smartphone apps to no avail. Even in the silence, I hear it. To-do lists loom, notifications whip out onto screens with a snap, and the world tells me, “do more, be more, give more. More, more, more.”

The loudness of expectation from a world begging for me to listen to the seductive songs of leisure and mediocrity has threatened to leave my nerves strung out and dry. I feel alone, withering away on the scorching asphalt of the demands of everyone and everything except the one I long to serve most—my Lord and my God.

It is only in his presence that I can hear my soul delicately whisper, “shhhh, I am listening for the words of my Master.”

The only antidote I have found to the barrage of solicitation and thirst for more is the familiar cushion of truth found in the scriptures. These five passages bring balm to my blistered efficiency and calm to the chaos.

1.Luke 10:38-42

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

This is the perfect remedy for the overstimulated soul. In the midst of the clatter that arises from within and around us, it honestly directs us to where the truest peace, power, and purpose is found—at the feet of Jesus.

Hunger and Thirst Chara Donahue

2.Psalm 46:9-11

“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

We don’t always think of peace when we think of sitting in a fortress, but what this passage reminds our battle-weary thoughts is that God is the ultimate maker of peace. While rumors of wars accost our eyes as we scroll through news feeds, God is not to be forgotten. He is to be known. He is mighty and strong, just and merciful, and he is the one who was, is, and always will be. Our enervated hearts can know victory is his. He will be exalted, and because of him, our souls find quietude.

3.1 Kings 19:11-23

“The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

In this passage, Elijah is in hiding. The threats from Jezabel swung over his future, and he ran for the hills, even after seeing God rain down fire and give victory when Elijah stood against the prophets of Baal. I hate that I recognize this pattern in my own life. That life reaches a high and I see the goodness of God right before my eyes, and still, I can turn, run, and hide when pressure pushes in. However, just as God meets Elijah, not in the wind, earthquake, or fire I find God gently leading me back to the places I can find him speaking. His patience relieves the shame that blinds me.

4.Philippians 4:12-13

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Few suffer as Paul did. He rejoiced and remained content in all circumstances. This verse reveals his secret—Christ who gives him strength. This passage takes away all our right to add to the noise that surrounds us with complaint. Yet it replenishes us by emphasizing that even here, even there, that wherever you are you may be content because you are one of the saved, redeemed, and children of the Most High.

Chara Donahue Hunger and Thirst

5.Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What relief there is in the simplicity and succinctness of this verse. It meets me in my tired and tried places and reminds me that Jesus is not a slave driver. He is a refuge, and there is no true rest away from him. The voices from competing sources are drowned out when we bask in the truth—we are welcome with all we are to enter Jesus’ comforting care.


chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at iBelieve and her words have appeared at Christianity Today’s Women Leaders, (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Prioritizing Hunger and Thirst

Author: Karly Grant

Recently I had one of those hard/sweet times with God as He has graciously showed me some of the areas in my life where I am hungering and thirsting after other desires instead of Him and His Word. Some of these areas may appear to be good things on the outside, but inwardly they are at war with the place that belongs to God alone. Sadly, he hasn’t been number one overall. As things that I took for granted have been stripped away, my need for God is causing my Spirit to growl. I’m being renewed and reminded that He is truly all I need.

So what has been so distracting? Let’s start with actual, physical hunger and thirst. For the first time in my adult life, I find myself unemployed and waiting on God to provide a place to live as I take steps of faith that He has called me to take. My moving date has come and gone, and all the pieces I thought would be in place have still not revealed themselves, so I am waiting. However, waiting has a cost.

Hunger and Thirst Karly GrantGrowing up, I was taught to be independent. Suddenly, I find myself with no income, and honestly, some days, not knowing where my next meal is going to come from or if bills will be paid. I don’t like to ask for help and feel like I’m doing something wrong without a job or way to provide for myself in the meantime.

When I can’t provide for myself, God provides for me. When I do provide for myself it is actually a gift from him anyway. As I wait for His timing and provision He has provided for my basic physical needs. Just when I don’t know how I’m going to buy groceries, I get a call asking me to babysit, someone invites me over for dinner, or I have even had people give me money. God has satisfied my physical hunger and I know He will continue to do so.

But what about areas of hunger that are not life threatening but feel like it? I have been known to thirst for relationship. I have wanted to be a wife and a mother all my life, but that has not yet come to be. Unfortunately, the lack of this sometimes leaves my emotions weak.

Yet as I find myself seeking God more, I can truly say that I am satisfied single. I’m an introvert, yet I like having close friends to do things with. Though, when waiting for God to open the door to the next phase of life it’s not always easy on the wallet to go out and do things with friends. Those who understand that hanging out in the parks or on couches with conversation, are like water to dry bones. I am assured that the relationships that are woven with fabric stronger than circumstance and convenience will continue, and in the meantime I am cherishing the super sweet times with Jesus I am finding in this time of transition.

Karly Grant Hunger and ThirstThis season of life is about God and my reliance,and I have made peace with that. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

I definitely don’t have it all together, and I am okay with that. I am willing to let God strip away the parts of my life that skew my priorities. I haven’t prioritized time in His Word or prayer enough, but I am asking and trusting Him to help me hunger and thirst for those things. I know He is faithful and will always be there. I may chase other things in life, but the God who loves me calls me back to Himself. He is quick to forgive and providing what is needed, so I don’t need relentlessly worry for anything. I can rest in Him and His ways.

 


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is  both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.