Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cultivating a Heart of Worship

Photo Credits: Kori Wissmann

Hello from across the miles! My name is Hannah and I am the ninth of 13 siblings who, with my parents, are my very best friends and role models. God has given our family the incredible opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ through music all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This was not something that our family had ever imagined doing, but God opens doors that no man can open and I am so grateful!

Photo Credit: Bethany Beasley

I’ve seen God answer so many different prayers over the years, and we’ve been able to tour places that most people only get to read about. But life on the road is also a significant amount of work and I have my challenges just like you. Life doesn’t always go as we plan, and we often run into unexpected problems. Maybe we are discouraged, or having health issues. Maybe something happened with a school or home project. Perhaps it’s just a wrong attitude that we are having a hard time changing.

That is the perfect time to cultivate a heart of worship, because God is so much bigger than our problems. I’ve found that when I take my eyes off of myself: what I feel like or what my “problems” are and instead focus on who God is and what He has done, then I am left in awe of God’s awesome power, faithfulness and goodness. He sees the big picture. If I fully trust that He will mold me into who He wants me to be for His glory, then worshiping and surrendering to Him with my whole heart is the best thing I can do. You can read in Psalms where David worshiped God when he was on a mountain top and you’ll find that he had the same heart of worship when he was in a valley with King Saul in pursuit of his life. Having a heart of worship and gratitude is not based upon outward experiences, but it is a constant trust in who God is. 

Sometimes worshiping Jesus is exactly what it takes to help me change my attitude or surrender my problem. Here are a few practical ideas which I have found to be helpful in cultivating a heart of worship:

                        Start each day in the Word.
There is nothing like starting each day with a firm foundation of truth! The Bible is living and active, and it is His very precious gift to us. There is nothing that can take the place of God's Word!

                    Memorize Scripture.
We need spiritual food just as much as physical food, and memorizing scripture is a wonderful way to keep God’s Word constantly before you.

                  Play worship music.
Music can be an extremely powerful tool and is often used to create an atmosphere in a room. Sometimes when I don’t exactly know what to pray I simply sing the lyrics of a worship song that says it for me.

Look to the needs of others.
Usually when I take time to see the needs of others, my wants become so minor, and I am soon just grateful for the blessings God has given me.

Photo Credit: Wissmann Family

Life is not about me. I don’t want it to be. It’s about Him! Having a heart of worship not only changes us and our perspective, but as we worship our Creator for Who He is, people around us get to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” 

Our family has adopted Psalms 40 as our theme, because it sums up the work God has done in our lives:
“I waited patiently for the Lord: and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth — praise to our God: Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” 
-Psalms 40:1-3-


That is who God is. It is what He has done in our lives. And I pray it is a description of what He does in yours as well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Who I Am In Christ

Who I Am In Christ sheet found HERE.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men.”
-Colossians 3:3-

In high school, you’d never find me on the basketball field or on the cheerleading team and certainly not running laps around the track. You’d probably find me in play practice or in a music rehearsal. I was totally the theater girl and would often get too wrapped up in the different roles of women that I would play in shows rather than focusing on the unique woman that Christ made me to be. 

I think that it’s so important in a high school experience to get involved because, hey, you only high school once (isn’t that how the saying goes?), but so often what we do becomes our identity of who we believe ourselves to be.

During my freshman year Health Class (moment of silence for those awkward times), a friend’s mom came in and we were talking about body image and self worth. She handed us a small, pink, laminated piece of paper that was titled ‘Who I Am In Christ". I took it home and taped it to my bathroom mirror and would read through the promises while I was getting ready in the mornings. 9 years later - that little pink paper filled with truth still hangs there.So, ladies, let me encourage you in 
saying that what you do is not all that you are. You are deeply loved as a daughter of Christ and, because of that, all of these promises are yours.

Isn’t this wonderful news?! You see, it takes the pressure off of our performance when we know that it’s not about us. As daughters of the King, everything that we do points to our infinitely greater heavenly Father. Eternally, whether we know every line perfectly in the play, know every dance step, sing or play every note correctly, or score the most points doesn’t matter. You are so much more than the things that you choose to fill your free time with. 

I love old hymns and this is a line from one of my favorites: 
“The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze on glory, but on my King of Grace. Not at the crown he giveth, but on his pierced hands. The Lamb gets all the glory in Emmanuel’s land.”

The Lord recognizes our beauty and the proper use of the good gifts that he gives us. But, more importantly, let us delight in His beauty and the free grace he gives us to utilize the gifts that he freely gives us each day. 

So print your own version of the ‘Who I Am In Christ’ out and put it on your mirror, or throw it in a Ziploc baggy or a page protector and put it up in the shower. Be tenderly reminded that you already are everything you need ever be in Christ.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nourished by God's Word

Being healthy is important, don't get me wrong. What if I told you that there was something even more important to have first? Proverbs 3:7-8 states: "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." 

How backwards we must have it these days to believe that being healthy first will be what brings us joy. I am reminded that this is an opportunity for us to get to know the Lord even more, and let Him be the FIRST source of health in our bodies. Here are two insights I wish I had known about health as a teen girl:

I can never be fully healthy in a physical manner, if I'm not healthy spiritually. The verses in Proverbs 3 sum it up best. How can you be healthy if God is not filling your soul? How you can you be full of joy and hope if all you have is physical health? The answer is…it's very hard and almost impossible. As a 20 something, I am now understanding what my 14, 15, 16 year old self had trouble believing. And this lesson is necessary for you to embrace. You are so much more than a physical being. You have a heart and a soul. These are deeply spiritual parts of you that need something more than the physical things this life has to offer. Just as you need physical health to fuel your body, you have to have spiritual health to fuel your life!

Being healthy spiritually allows you to pursue health in a way that is safe (for your body, mind, and ESPECIALLY your emotions). I know there are so many people and sources telling you to look a certain way, to be a certain way, to have certain physical attributes. But let me remind you first that the Lord created you, and those are not things He requires of you. As a teen girl, it can be hard to remember that your value doesn't come from society's standards. No matter your appearance, the Lord loves you and HE wants your heart. And knowing this helps you to pursue health in a logical way. When you are at peace with the Lord and who He has made you to be, it takes off the pressure to conform to this worlds standards. Rather than approaching health in order to look and be a certain way, you can pursue being healthy, strong, and able to live your life for the Lord!

As you are nourished and strengthened by the Lord, you will then be able to become physically healthy as well. Will you take the time to pursue God as your first form of health? 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Monthly Scripture Memory Program: December (John 1:14)

As we shared in September, one of the heartbeats of Grace Engaged is the scripture memory program that we hope y'all will join in with each month! Each school year we will be picking one "theme" to look at in scripture and for the 2015-2016 school year we have chosen "grace" as our theme. For the month of September we memorized a portion of 2 Corinthians 8:7 and for October we memorized a portion of Ephesians 2:8. For November we memorized Hebrews 4:16 and for December we are memorizing John 1:14 which states: "The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

One of the things that we are passionate about here at Grace Engaged is encouraging ladies to know that we have a Savior who not only loves us big and beautifully but one who is fully involved and present in our lives. 

This is especially important for those that are struggling with a difficult season of life. Despite the joy of the Christmas season, the holiday season can be especially difficult on people who are dealing with painful seasons of life. As much as there are things to celebrate there is just as much pain to cry through. The contrast of joy with the abundance of heartbreak and pain seems especially poignant at this time of year. It is at this season more than others the beautiful names of God, specifically the name Immanuel, God with us, becomes even more important. Immanuel is with us as we live and breath. This Christmas season and beyond let us celebrate the joy of having a Savior who has fulfilled the promise stated so long ago from the book of Isaiah. The beautiful promise of Immanuel, God with us. 

What a beautiful thing to be thankful for in this month as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Happy December friends! May you be encouraged as you memorize this verse!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Owning an Imperfect Life

Photo by Alison Turner

Human beings are interesting things. Perhaps you’ve already realized this, but honestly I think my own knowledge of this fact only grows with time. I’m continually stunned by the resilience of the human spirit… we go through sometimes unspeakable heartache, dreary monotony, and nagging fear, and yet we still hope - we still press on - believing that life is worth living… and it is. But sometimes I think we press forward in order to reach something that we’ll never quite grasp…

Perfection.

Ahhh, that word. That state of being that we all crave. Especially as young people, with our whole lives stretched out before us, the possibilities of that perfect life, whatever it may be that we’ve envisioned for ourselves (i.e. the perfect GPA, the perfect career, the perfect relationship), is hung ever before us… tantalizingly taunting us with it’s attractive promises.

“If you’re perfect, everyone will love you. Everyone will want to BE you. You’ll be remembered. You’ll be valuable.”

I’ve especially noticed people striving after perfection in the area of social media. Perfectly manicured Instagram accounts and Pinterest boards litter the Internet, their followers expanding daily. And “#GOALS” are shoved in our faces from every angle. We’ve been shown what we have to live up to, and we strive to reach it ourselves, subconsciously believing that if we reach their numbers, exceed them even, then we will be happy. It’s the same old promise repackaged.

“If you’re perfect, everyone will love you. Everyone will want to BE you. You’ll be remembered. You’ll be valuable.”

But here’s the Truth: no amount of striving or reworking or editing or manicuring or filtering can create perfection in you or anyone else. Others’ lives may seem perfect, but it’s a lie. And while they are posting about the best of the best in their lives, you’re sitting at home in your old sweatpants and a stained t-shirt, tears streaming down your cheeks because you’ve had the crappiest day, and you compare their best to your worst. What you need to know is that their lives are just as messed up as yours is. They just keep their messes covered, while you cannot hide from your own.

You can’t see the screaming child right outside the frame of the square-shaped Instagram image, and you can’t feel the exasperation and exhaustion of the mother as she wracks her brain for the right caption. You can’t feel the emptiness inside of the celebrity as he posts about that premiere while knowing that every smile, every laugh, was forced. And I know this is a legitimate summary. People such as Essena O’Niell of “Let’s Be Game Changers” have admitted to it.

But when you observe their feeds, all you know is that you yourself feel like you’ll never compare to these lives that appear untouched by the hurts and struggles of life.

I know because that’s been me. I’ve always dreamed big. I’ve always wanted a beautiful life. But when tragedy struck, I started to believe that my life must be some sort of second-rate existence because no matter how hard I tried to make everything perfect, I couldn't. My life was messy. And OCD, type A, idyllic-dreamer me didn’t like that.

But then I grew up a little. Or a lot. And God started to mold my thinking, so gently that I didn’t realize it right away. He showed me that perfection doesn’t exist outside of Jesus Christ.

For us as humans, we have no perfection in any area of our lives (Is. 64:6). Our lives don’t evenbecome messy. They are messy. Just as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, our lives are imperfect. And until Jesus rights all wrongs in the end (Rev. 21:4-5), they will be. Our one and only claim to perfection is Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). And that is actually a beautifully freeing thing!

Think about this… you are free to have an imperfect life. You don’t have to have a perfect body, a perfect home, a perfect marriage, or a perfect talent to be valuable or loved. Jesus loved you in your sin (Romans 5:8), and you have incomprehensible value because of His Blood which covers you. Your value? His love for you? It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Him.

And yes, this life is a journey of becoming more like Jesus — sanctification. But the goal while still on earth is progress, not perfection. Jesus perfects you before the Father, and when we are glorified with Him in Heaven one day, it will be realized in full.

So go ahead and own that imperfect life. Remember that we all have messes — tragedy strikes us all. Realize and rejoice in the fact that your value doesn’t lie in your followers on Instagram or the likes you get on Facebook. Know that your worth comes from Christ our Messiah and that will never change. As long as you have accepted Him and your Lord and Savior, you will be perfect before the Father.

Praise His Name.

xoxo,
Ali

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Soldier’s Gear: The Importance of Bible Study



I want you to take a minute to imagine this: A war has started, soldiers have been recruited from all over the place to fight in what could be the most difficult war of their lives. As some of you might know, soldiers spend an extensive amount of time in training. Training their endurance, their skill, and getting prepared for when the war breaks loose. Now, imagine if war had broken loose and all those soldiers hadn’t spent their time in training. Getting to know the ins and outs of war, strengthening their bodies for what’s to come. Imagine they didn’t have the necessary tools to work with and imagine they didn’t have the protection they needed, what would happen? I cannot predict the future, but one thing is for sure: That battle would have been lost. Just like anything else you dive into without being prepared. 

In Ephesians 6:13-17 the bible states: “Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, hold your ground…… In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God”. 

Now, I’ll be one to admit, bible studying definitely took time to grow on me. I would sit, and read, and not understand and simply close the bible. Not one bit of motivation to go back and read some more. Time was always an excuse; exhaustion after a long day was one as well. Until one day, where it all changed.  You see, I couldn’t take it anymore. 

People would ask me about my faith and I wasn’t able to give concrete proof or even answers for that matter. People would ask me for advice and I could not refer to one bible passage to soothe their crying hearts. I was loosing the battle. That was the day I DECIDED I wanted more of God, more of his word, more of his Spirit flowing through me, strengthening me for when I was weak, loving me for when I was unloved, forgiving me for when I could not forgive myself, and with his word I became stronger. I became prepared for battle. 

I am here to tell you to put on your armor of God. You have to make the choice. Dive into what is the most love-filled experience. May you ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding so you may fully dive into the words God has prepared for you. We find time for so many unimportant things in our lives, find time for what actually matters. 

May God continue to bless you and your journey, and may your battle be fought with love and compassion. Put on your armor, darling! You have been chosen!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Trust


photo: Zoey Orlans
“You lead me beside still waters….” 
-Psalm 23:2-

My senior year of high school. What a roller coaster of thoughts, emotions and events. At times my heart would be bursting with all of the blessings and joyful moments that the Lord brought in that special year. However, at other times the tears would come. That’s the thing about senior year. There are so many unknowns and change is racing towards you. Some of my classmates were extremely excited to go to college and leave our hometown behind. I, however, was not one of those. The Lord greatly blessed me with friends, teachers and mentors who poured in to me and encouraged me. I loved my life and was not ready for it to change. 
Photo: Zoey Orlans 
(Rebecca, thank you for having such a huge impact in my life. The three of us were so blessed to have you as a teacher, mentor and friend!)
Photo: Zoey Orlans
(“The Fabulous Five", Thanks for loving me unconditionally!)

But the Lord had different plans for me. He gave me that strong foundation of community and encouragement so that I could be launched in to a new phase of life. College was new and crazy, scary yet exciting. The one word that keeps coming to mind when I think of my first year in college is trust. It is clear now that trust is what the Lord taught me through all of the transition and change. I learned that the hard way and through many tearful nights, but the Lord was faithful through it all and kept saying to me – Zoey trust me. I have you in the palm of my hand. God blessed me with a new community at UGA and I had a deeper sense of community than ever before. I am forever thankful for the people He placed in my life.
photo: Zoey Orlans
(The most amazing group of people. They represent every sense of true community.)

My relationship with Jesus changed my first semester of college. He became the only one who could satisfy me and the only one who was there every moment of every day. It’s a hard but beautiful thing to be in that place of full reliance on the Lord. Your beliefs and faith really must become your own once you move out and make decisions for yourself. It’s a new time in life that comes with a lot of fun and excitement, but also makes you think about what you believe and who or what you are going to believe in.

Through all of the different lessons and growth in my relationship with the Lord that first semester of college, He was constantly changing my heart and teaching me to fully trust in His word. Little did I know that He was preparing me for one of the biggest tests of my life. One morning, towards the end of my freshman year of college, I woke up and the world was spinning. I could not maintain my balance and could barely even open my eyes. This strange vertigo spell was the first sign of what was coming my way. About three months later I found out that there was definitely something wrong. One doctor diagnosed me with Lyme Disease. Another said I had absolutely nothing wrong with me. Still another said that I had fibromyalgia and the list went on and on. While doctors could not decide and diagnose what I was dealing with, I continued to feel worse and worse and became a shell of myself.

 Fast forward two years and I’m taking a trip to Baltimore to see a team of experts. Still no answers. And now, almost three and a half years later I still don’t have answers. However, there has been a constant theme; the fact that trusting the Lord was and is the only thing that I could do and can do now. He gave me joy in that. I was never worried about what would happen during this time. I knew that God was sovereign and He would take care of all of the details. I just had to trust that He would bring me through it. Now it wasn’t easy, and every doctor appointment brought along anxiety, some fear, and sometimes anger that American doctors could not figure out the problem. But I was consistently reminded that doctors are human beings and they can’t have all of the answers. Only God knows all.

I share all of this to say, how did God teach me to trust? By giving me hard things. By turning my world upside down. All while consistently leading me and guiding me and loving me. When I had answers and when I didn’t have answers. I could have decided not to trust at all. To believe that God was not sovereign. However, Psalm 46 became my constant encouragement and came to my mind over and over again.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within HER, she WILL NOT FALL; God will help her at break of day. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Friends, the Lord is good all of the time. He is good when we are hurting. He is good when we are excited for what’s to come. He is good when we are doubtful about the future. I encourage you to take a leap of faith in whatever circumstance you might find yourself in right now. Trust in Him. The one who knows your heart, is full of grace and who is sovereign above all. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Monthly Scripture Memory Program: November (Hebrews 4:16)

As we shared in September, one of the heartbeats of Grace Engaged is the scripture memory program that we hope y'all will join in with each month! Each school year we will be picking one "theme" to look at in scripture and for the 2015-2016 school year we have chosen "grace" as our theme. For the month of September we memorized a portion of 2 Corinthians 8:7 and for October we memorized a portion of Ephesians 2:8. For November we are memorizing Hebrews 4:16 which states: "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."

One of the things that we are passionate about here at Grace Engaged is encouraging ladies to know that we have a Savior who not only loves us big and beautifully but that we can come to at any time, especially in our hour of need. He is always ready to meet us with grace and mercy. 

What I love about this verse is that there is great promise and hope that we can come just as we are. So many of our humanly relationships that we have are based off of what we have to offer someone. Lots of time in high school it always seems that we have to be "popular" enough to fit in with a certain group of people. The beautiful thing about the gospel is that we can come BOLDLY to our Heavenly Father and Savior knowing that we are approaching the King of Kings and that we will receive His mercy when we come and that we already completely belong. We don't have to do anything but come. 

Joni Eareckson Tada once said: "Scripture calls everyone of s to the throne of grace, but doesn't tell us how to get there. Maybe it doesn't matter. Run, walk, or crawl on your stomach through the muck. Come in your tears, come in your rage, come in your perplexity, come in your anguish of soul, just come and mercy awaits you."

What a beautiful thing to be thankful for in this month where thanksgiving and gratitude are the focus. Happy November friends! May you be encouraged as you memorize this verse!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fun Fall Fashion

Whenever I think of fall I think of cozy sweaters, lots of scarves, and adorable and fun fall fashion! Isn't it fun to be a girl? *smiles*
What are your favorite things to wear in the fall? 
P.S.- We are looking for pictures of your favorite Thanksgiving outfits for an upcoming post! If you would like to submit a picture send us an email at: graceengaged@gmail.com!
Happy Tuesday y'all!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Meditating On and Memorizing Scripture- Journal Ideas

Today I (Rebecca) wanted to share a subject that is precious to my heart- spending time meditating on scripture. Over the years I have studied scripture in different ways. In college Theology was my major and became the deepest study of my life. After college I felt incredibly blessed to have had the foundation of theology so that the relationship that I cultivated with the Lord grew more and more and was beyond just being based on emotion. I loved having the opportunity to study and understand the Bible and memorize scripture. The truth is I still  love getting into God's word everyday - and I see how "living" His word is in so many ways.

But one area that I used to struggle with is on memorizing scripture. Do any of you struggle with this to?  Honestly I would try so hard in my quiet time with the Lord but I just struggled. Memorization has not always come easy to me and I would marvel at those who seemed to be able to quote entire books of the Bible with no problem! 

Several years ago I came across Psalm 119:11 which states, "your word I have treasured in my heart" and immediately I was convicted as I wanted to memorize and treasure God's word in my heart. I started to pray about how I could memorize scripture better. I started thinking about how I am "wired" and how I could meditate on scripture so that it truly went deep into my heart. I bought a new Bible (I will share more about this in the future) and since I am a "journal writer/drawer/alterer" I knew that for me I needed to do something artistic with scripture.  I have found by writing, drawing, paining, and scrapbooking into a journal I have been able to truly mediate and memorize scripture. Here are a few examples:
One of my favorite projects I have done is to cut up strips of paper and then write down all of my fears, worries, or concerns. I then paint over them and then write scripture truths on top of that. I have done this many times and it is a beautiful way to treasure God's word in my heart.
{the picture below was an attempt at making a flower out of all of that *smiles*}
Sometimes I like to decorate certain words that are really speaking to me and things that are going on in my life!
I love cute stickers so sometimes I like to use them to write out the words of the scripture verse I am memorizing or meditating on. 
A couple of years ago I was on a precious trip with a senior class and I came across a precious and simple verse from Ezekiel. It was perfect for the time as I was struck by the hope, promise, and security that the verse promised.  At the time I had no idea that in the upcoming year I would be diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease and Cancer but the Lord was already writing this precious truth on my heart for the future! I spent time journaling it but I also "paper sewed" it into my journal. To this day it is still one of my favorite verses I have ever memorized!!

Last year I wanted to write down scriptures that I am praying for a dear friend of mine. I have also been working on memorizing these scriptures so this was a fun project I found the perfect picture frame to do this with and I love how it turned out!
These are just a few of the small ways that I meditate and memorize scripture through journaling. Some other ways I will show you in the upcoming weeks but in the meantime I would love to know if y'all use journaling to help meditate on scripture and memorize it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Senior Year Anxiety

Two months into my senior year of college, I am having some serious flashbacks to how
I felt my senior year of high school. The future seems so demanding and I can’t even
think about what I am going to eat for lunch tomorrow without getting stressed. I
immediately turn to calendars and planning out each day down to the minute to try and
find some sort of stability in a phase of such uncertainty.

In some of the more anxiety-filled moments, I love listening to the song “Captain” by
Hillsong United. Part of the chorus says:

Like the stars Your Word will align my voyage,
And remind me where I’ve been and where I am going
Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog,
Your truth is the compass that points me back north”

These lyrics remind us that the Lord has a plan for our future even when all we see in
front of us is fog and confusion. The song echos Proverbs 3:5-6 promising that God can
be trusted even when we can’t make sense of the situation. As an added bonus, He directs
us through the future as we remain focused on Him.

I wish I could tell you exactly what next year holds for you and what your life will look
like in 5 years, but there is so much beauty found in taking each day boldly, trusting that
your future will work out just fine- not because of incessant planning, but because you
are the daughter of a Father who delights in laying the path before you.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Monthly Scripture Memory Program: October (Ephesians 2:8)

As we shared in September, one of the heartbeats of Grace Engaged is the scripture memory program that we hope y'all will join in with each month! Each school year we will be picking one "theme" to look at in scripture and for the 2015-2016 school year we have chosen "grace" as our theme. For the month of September we memorized a portion of 2 Corinthians 8:7 and for October we are memorizing a portion of Ephesians 2:8 which states, "For it is by Grace you have been saved."

One of the things that we are passionate about here at Grace Engaged is encouraging ladies to know that our only hope of salvation is through the grace that God offered through Jesus Christ alone. If our hope is placed in anything besides Jesus Christ and His finishing work on the cross then we have no hope. Nothing that we can do - no matter how wonderful or awesome it may be will save us. 

As women I think we often feel pressure in our society to look a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way, etc., but the wonderful news about the gospel is that there is nothing that we can do to earn this beautiful gift of salvation. Instead, it is entirely a gift of grace from God that saves us. Isn't this the most beautiful part of the gospel? We have received the opposite of what we have deserved and it is a gift given to us free of charge. Jesus Christ paid our debt completely on the cross and it is by grace we have been saved. 

I once heard a pastor define GRACE as: "God's Riches at Christ's Expense". Isn't this a beautiful reminder that it is Jesus Christ who paid our debt completely? Throughout this month of October, let us memorize this verse and imprint it on our hearts and in our minds. Let us live our lives in thankful humility for the one who has given us everything! 

Happy October y'all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Grace Engaged Website is LIVE!


We are so excited to announce that are website is LIVE! You can find it at: www.graceengaged.com or by clicking HERE!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Press on to Know the Lord

Photo Credit: Laura Kinney
“Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him. 
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn 
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
-Hosea 6:3 NLT-

I just moved to a beautiful little city in North Carolina. I moved here to start graduate school, but it’s not at all where I thought I would end up. I had my sights set on a completely different school in a completely different state. God didn’t open that door because he knew what I needed better than I did. Ever since I surrendered my decision to attend school here and chose (very reluctantly) to be obedient to where he’s been calling me to go, I can walk in absolute confidence knowing that this was his plan all along. Nothing about my hesitance to spend 2 years in a city (that I had never been to before I committed) caught my Jesus by surprise, and I just love that!
Something that I’m still getting used to is the fact that it seems to rain every afternoon. Even knowing that, I still forget an umbrella or I accidentally leave my pink rain jacket in my car. But, in these moments where I found myself stranded on campus in a strange building until the pouring rain subsides, I have stumbled upon some of the sweetest spots on this BIG campus. There’s a cool solarium on campus with beautiful natural light, waterfalls, and cool music playing. It’s one of my favorite spots and I wouldn’t have found it had the rain not stranded me inside. This room is full of windows and I can even sit and watch the rain gently falling while I sit in awe and forced rest.

I was walking back to my car in the freshly fallen rain and there was a beautiful rainbow and everything was fresh and clean and new. I began to think to myself that this is such a good representation of what it feels like to walk with the Lord and to be sanctified by Him. I love Hosea 6:3’s promise that Christ will appear as surely as the dawn. It may seem that we’re stranded or caught in the rain and stuck and unsure of where to go, but our God will appear as surely as the dawn! He will appear as surely as the sun after it rains. It won’t rain forever; the sun has to come out. And when it does, everything is new and fresh and somehow makes sense. This is grace! He appears to us even when we find ourselves caught in the rain with no umbrella or raincoat, reminding us of our need for Him. Then, he gloriously appears to us in all His beautiful splendor having kept us in the palm of His hand all the while (Isaiah 46:9).

My encouragement to each of you this year is that you would press on to know the Lord, and grow to know Him more deeply. I’m thrilled to grow in grace with each of you ladies throughout this year as we both deepen in our relationship with our faithful Heavenly Father.
(Check out Ellie Holcomb’s song “As Sure As the Sun” to reinforce this great scripture memory verse! )

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a hard thing to do. It is even harder to say that you are sorry. Many friendships crash and burn because people are too afraid to admit their mistakes and just simply say "sorry." People, especially girls, are so bad at holding grudges. 

Do you remember when you were a little kid how easily your forgot about a fight with a friend after you both apologized? We need to have that same mentality as adults and teens. There is no point of living life holding grudges. It is a lot more fun to forgive and forget, and just simply be happy! 

A good friend of mine and I are so much alike, sometimes too much alike for our own good. With that comes arguments. Something that I have learned is that it is so much better to say sorry and talk about what is bothering us in a mature way instead of staying upset and holding a grudge. Sometimes you might be the only one taking the high road, but in the end it will be worth it. 

God paid the ultimate price for our sins. He is the ultimate forgiver. We sin everyday and he is always there to forgive us. He does not hold grudges but instead he loves us! In Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to each other, tender hearted, forgiving one another. Just as God through Christ has forgiven you!

If our ultimate creator can forgive us of our sins, we should definitely be able to forgive our friends and family of their sins as well! God rejoices when he sees his children happy and getting along! Not fighting and holding grudges. I challenge ya'll to forgive or say sorry to someone that you are close to or were close to. Try to mend that broken relationship and forgive as God forgave us!