Finding Purpose in the Pain of Christmas

Author: Karly Grant

Christmas. For some, that word brings feelings of excitement, glee, celebration, and magic. For others, that word invokes grief, dread, lost hope, or sadness. Or maybe you find yourself at a crossroad of all these emotions like I do? No matter where you find yourself this holiday season, I want you to know that you are seen, you are heard. The One who we remember and celebrate this season cares so deeply for you, about the real you and your emotions, more than you can ever imagine.

I am the first to get excited when Christmas decorations start going up, music with jingle bells starts playing, and Hallmark publicizes their list of new cheesy movies. I literally squealed with excitement upon arriving at work one day to see that decorations had started going up. I love the magic of Christmas; the excitement, the beauty, the memories, the laughter, the family time.

Karly Grant Christmas.png

When I dig a little deeper beyond the surface aspects of the holiday season, that’s where the fairy tale ends. It is so easy to be reminded in this season of all the hopes, dreams, relationships, and people lost. It’s amazing how quickly, with just one thought, the feelings of cheer can switch to those of sadness.

For me, as well as many others, cheerful Christmas memories include estranged family members and people who have passed away. Where these losses are felt year-round, they can be especially hard during this time of year. It is difficult to gather with family and reminisce about the good ol’ days, when there is someone dearly loved that is not there to celebrate with you.

Another area of pain in this season comes in the form of unfulfilled hopes or dreams. We all have that perfect Hallmark picture in our minds of families gathered around the Christmas tree, caroling, festive parties, and happiness. While I love all of these things, nothing brings up thoughts of inadequacy or dreams lost for me as quickly as a holiday party. As a woman in my mid-30’s, I am reminded almost immediately upon arrival at such festivities of my singleness. I know it is never the intention of the people hosting the parties, but I quickly notice the seemingly happy couples and feel left out of a part of the cheer.

I always dreamed of being a happy family. I looked forward to the day that my husband and I would stay up all night assembling gifts, only to be awoken too early by our children and relish in the joy on their faces as they opened gifts on Christmas morning. The older I get, the less likely it is that I will get to experience this dream that I’ve placed on a pedestal and that hurts.

So the question remains, how do we find the balance between the cheer and the pain? How do we embark upon this season while keeping it real, but not allowing the enemy to speak lies that will either gloss over the pain with fake cheeriness or allow ourselves to have a pity party that brings gloom to the whole season? For me, I’ve found the answer is in Advent.

Advent is a season recognized by some churches that leads up to celebrating the birth of Christ. It is not something prescribed in the Bible as something that Christians must do, but something that I have found helpful in the last couple of years. As a child, my great-grandmother used to give me an advent calendar. I looked forward to opening up a window every day in December and eating the waxy piece of chocolate hiding behind the yuletide art. As an adult, I find the depth of diving into the words of God so much more fulfilling.

Last year was the first year that I purposely focused on the season of Advent. I did it imperfectly and missed some days, but it was definitely helpful to remember how much God loved me and to combat the lies that Satan brings during this season.

Last year during advent I focused on the word “joy” and even bought a little nativity set with this word prominent among the display of the manger. It was a year of hope as I looked forward to what I thought was ahead. I thought it would potentially be the last holiday season with my family for a while. God had another plan, but that’s another story. Joy is not the same as happiness. I still felt the pain of the hard times, but I knew that I had true joy because of the baby in the manger and the sacrifice that He made.

Christmas Karly Grant

This year, I still have the nativity set on display in my window sill, but as I look forward to the advent season, my word is “intentional.” I am going to intentionally spend time in the Word of God, intentionally focus on being real with Him in my prayers. Hard times will come. Emotions will come, but as I dive deeply into God’s Word and remember the truth of why we have so much to celebrate this season, I will be intentional about not allowing the lies of the enemy to overtake me or lead my thoughts down a road that only leads to destruction.  I pray that this year people will see the joy that comes from Christ as I am intentional about celebrating Him, even amongst the hard times, as I try to live out the words of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”


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, but she is willing to trust Him.

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God’s Faithfulness in the Gathering

Well folks, ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. As much as I love my family and friends, this season can also be immensely stressful and draining for me, the introvertiest of introverts. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the festivities and the people that I get to celebrate with, but I also cherish the times of solitude, rest, and recharging that I plan for myself before and after holiday get togethers.

While it’s easy, especially this time of year, to get caught up in the fanfare of the large gatherings, or conversely spending too much time in solitude, God has been faithful to show me the sweet spot in between. As King David declares in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

It is often in these times of dwelling, that in the background of the merriment and crowds, God uses a gathering within the gathering of just one or two other people to encourage me in my faith. In these small moments of big events, God reminds me of who He is and who He has created me to be.

Gather Karly Grant

While many of these experiences happen with good friends and family, one-on-one or in a small group, one time that sticks out to me happened just recently in a large church gathering. It was a Sunday morning and I was feeling particularly down. I almost didn’t go to church that day, feeling full of self-pity and loneliness. I was struggling with where I was at in life and feeling like God wasn’t hearing my prayers or at least not answering them in the way that I thought he should be. I couldn’t see his direction to a clear path. Not one part of my humanity wanted to go to church that morning, but that’s precisely why I knew I needed to be with God’s people.

As I was sitting in church, feeling sorry for myself, I cried out to God. I couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about that day, but I was praying prayers truer than I had allowed myself to say in a while. There having a personal moment amongst hundreds of people, I   felt alone and unseen by God as I desperately tried to trust. As service dismissed, I began to wonder why I had even bothered going to church that day. Couldn’t I have prayed the same prayer in the comfort of sweats at home? Then a young woman approached me. I had never seen her before.

She had been sitting a few people down from me in the pew. She seemed nervous but said that she had noticed me during the service and had been lead to pray for me. She told me that she felt like God was urging her to let me know that He saw me, He hadn’t forgotten about me, and He had a plan for my life. She then handed me a prayer that she had written for me and told me I could read it later if I wanted and asked if she could pray for me right then. This was exactly what I needed that day. I haven’t seen that girl again since, but that “chance” encounter, that small gathering of just two people inside the clearly seen larger gathering of the church service, was orchestrated by God and blessed me more than that lady will ever know.

I am one who too easily retreats to solitude when times are tough. While some alone time is good and healthy, it is the sweet moments of being real with friends and allowing God to speak to and through me in day to day life that have the largest impact.

Karly Grant Gather

There is a reason we have the church, that God has called us to gather, and it’s not just spiritual, it’s scientific too. The New York Times posted an article in December of 2016 titled, How Social Isolation Is Killing Us. They reported that research shows all kinds of ways that isolation negatively affects us, makes death come more quickly for those who are sick, and greatly increases chances for things like heart disease.

God created us for one another, this is why he reminds us in Hebrews 10:24-25 to, “… consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

What does all this mean for us, for me? As this season of celebration approaches, I will still have times of introversion, but I will also relish the gatherings. And in the chaos of them look for ways to have smaller gatherings as I pray that God will speak to and through me as we celebrate. For there, his faithfulness is palatable and present. In a world that tempts us to feel alone, God reminds us we never are.


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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Trusting the Sovereignty of God

Author: Karly Grant

Sovereignty. It seems like such a big, daunting word, because it is. To those of us who claim to follow Jesus, God’s sovereignty is at the core of what we believe and walk in. The dictionary defines sovereignty as, “supreme power or authority.” I believe that God’s power and authority is evident throughout scripture and in my own life. The idea of God’s sovereignty seems so intimidating, but really it is simple and allows believers to experience deep freedom.

God's character Karly GrantWhen I think about the sovereignty of God in the Bible, I immediately think about the book of Exodus. A few years ago I was in a Bible study that went through this book in depth. Every week when we’d get to the last question of the study about how to apply what we had read, my answer was, “God is sovereign. I need to trust that.” The story of Exodus really begins in Genesis with God’s promise to Abraham to make him a great nation–offspring that would be as plentiful as the stars.

Abraham may not have lived to see this promise come to complete fruition, but God, in His sovereignty, ruled Abraham’s descendants. In the book of Exodus, God leads them out of exile and eventually to the promised land. God called Moses to set His people free. He hardened and softened Pharaoh’s heart, and eventually set His people free. Even while the Israelites were wandering in the desert, God was sovereign. He was in control. He provided what they needed and, with love, ruled over them.

God’s sovereignty continued into the New Testament. God sent His son to save us. He has the power to do that. It is because of His authority over the earth that Jesus came down, lived a sinless life, told us how to live, and paid the ultimate price. It is because of God’s sovereignty that He rules over us today and called us to be His children.

During those years I was weekly (if not daily) reminded of God’s sovereignty, and they were needed as I learned to trust His plan and rule in my life. That is still the case today. I am a slow learner, and, really, I think it is a lesson that will take a lifetime to learn.

When my world seems to fall apart, I need to trust God’s authority. The last few years have been extremely difficult for my family. Things have happened that I never imagined, and quite frankly, they tore my family apart. I don’t know why these things happen, and other than a miracle, I don’t see restoration happening this side of Heaven, but I know that I can trust the God who is sovereign in my life. I can rest peacefully and wake up every morning knowing that He is in control.

Karly Grant Character of GodCurrently, as I plan to take a huge step of faith by moving to another state, I am so grateful for the steadfastness of my God. The last few weeks have been stressful as I nail down specifics, such as a place to live. I’m holding closely to Proverbs 16:9 in these times, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” 

I know that God is in control. He hasn’t stopped providing for me yet, and he won’t. In His time, He will provide a home and a job for me. He is in control. He is sovereign over the world and over my life. I can keep putting one foot in front of the other and following where He leads. He was sovereign over Abraham, Moses, and Jesus’s life on earth. He has had authority and power over my life. He will have all sovereignty for eternity. For that, I am thankful.


image1 (1)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. 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.

5 Verses to Combat Bitterness

Author: Karly Grant

When I think about the role of bitterness in my life I quickly become prideful. I am either too proud to admit that I am one of “those” people who are bitter, angry, and miserable, or I go the other route and think that I deserve to be bitter because nobody understands how I’ve been wronged or hurt.

Bitterness Karly Grant (1)Admittedly, the last few years I haven’t been a shining example when it comes to bitterness. There have been some extremely difficult times in my family and in other relationships. There have been periods when I was too proud to admit to being bitter or unforgiving. There were periods when I thought it was my right to just sit in bitterness. Then I think of Jesus and the rights to be bitter he could hold over me.

During these times, Jesus reminded me over and over that I was not alone in this. I have a God who cares about me, and to him I long to bring glory. My bitterness and pride does not give my God the sacrifice of praise I desire to lay at his feet. I have often heard a paraphrase of the Josh Shipp quote, “You either get bitter or you get better…” combined with some version of “the difference is just one letter, and that letter is I.” I am here to tell you that I have seen a lot more healing and growth when it’s not all about the “I” of pride, but when it’s about the J-E-S-U-S who paid the ultimate price to give me freedom.

His wisdom is better than my own. His words are true and have helped me through difficult times. I have held to the following verses to help me in this fight against bitterness:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)

“Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.” Isaiah 38:17

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:14-15

Bitterness Karly Grant“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:19-21

“Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.” Psalm 4:4-5

These are just a few of the amazing words that God uses to speak into our lives and hearts. Many other verses could be used as well, but I think the biggest message is that God is for us and Bitterness is against us. It breeds angst and pride. As I have gone through, and will continue to go through difficult times, I am so thankful to have a God in my life who accepts my repentance my bitterness and leads me to glorifying Him for all the blessings I have in life.


image1 (1)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. 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.