Purposeful Faith

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Stand Strong During Trials

During Trials

I have very good intentions to meet daily with God. As much as I can, I carve out morning time to spend with him. Most mornings, I put him first when I wake up. Although not lately.

This burdens me. Jesus is seed for my life. I either grow life, or…I don’t.

Many of us find seeds thrown down, but as shown in Matthew 13, one of these 4 things happens:

1. The birds eat them after they were thrown on the path.

The enemy comes and gets you caught in discouragement, despair or doubt. He steals clarity regarding this word and replaces it with confusion. Nothing takes root.

2. They fall on shallow soil with rock underneath. Plants spring up quickly, then die in the sun because they don’t go deep.

Your heart is not prepared to embrace it and the insecurity and worry underneath prevents it from growing. Trials become issues that cut off the life God wants to grow. Nothing takes deep root, so you fall over when heavy winds come.

3. Thorns choke out the tender growth.
Distractions of the world (phone notifications, schedules, agendas, television, worries and worldly pursuits) crowd out the faith, hope and love God desires to grow within you.

4. They grow deep into fertile soil.

Deep within you, roots grow. They reach not just the surface level of your being, but the inner heart-places of your being. They change you from the inside out with true and lasting transformation.

To let God in you, into the deep, is to have your life deeply changed.

What can you do to cultivate fertile ground? How can you prepare your heart to receive the best of God?

Here are a couple ideas and resources…

1. Seek God with humility: Be prepared to have him point out areas in your life He wants to change.

2. Get a good daily devotional. For example, I am a contributor to the 365-day (in)Courage devotional called, “A Moment to Breathe.” It is a great way to start your day from the place of the heart. Learn more.

3. Look for God. Take notice of themes and of moves of God in your life. He may be calling you to something or re-teaching you something he really wants you to grasp.

4. Yield to His ways. Rather than pushing forward with what seems right (see: #3), go with what God says is right and let him teach you through your discomfort along the way.

Fertile hearts get deep roots that keep standing during the worst of storms. The high winds and trials of life can’t knock them over.

About “A Moment to Breathe”

With 365 readings, from 80 writers (including myself) each day begins with a passage of Scripture, tells a story of everyday faith, and encourages you to take a moment to breathe with a simple but fun way to complete your day. So kick off your shoes and join us for a relaxing but special time, where friends come together and share the real stuff of everyday faith.

Learn more about A Moment to Breathe.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Giving Thanks Even When It Hurts

Post by: Micah Maddox

It was a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget. We gathered around a beautiful table and grasped hands for prayer. As I lifted my head and glanced across the table, I locked eyes with my dad, who had just been diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The incision on his neck was still healing and the extensive surgery to his mouth was so extreme it was hard for him to form words.

I tried to hold back the tears, but the sight of suffering was too much. I let the tears flow. We all did. No longer was Thanksgiving about the delicious turkey or pumpkin pie. Dad couldn’t eat any of it.

This Thanksgiving Day was different. It was a day to truly grasp hold of the people around the table and be grateful for their presence. We didn’t rave about the food or brag on the cook. We focused on each other this time.

We learned so many difficult lessons that year. We learned to live beyond the normal routines and traditions, and find joy in just being together.

We learned patience and strength as we watched dad struggle to speak and learn to eat again. We learned life is brief and you truly never know when you will sit around the table for the last time. We learned life is worth fighting for, even when it feels like the end is near. We learned to take our time and sit around the table for more than just the food.

Thanksgiving is always a time to remember and be grateful. But it’s taken on a new meaning for us. It’s still about gathering and gratefulness, but it’s more about who is seated around the table.

The seating arrangement changes from year to year, but I’m looking forward to glancing across the table at a cancer-free dad this year. And when I look at him this time, I will thank God for all we’ve been through because it bonds us, binds us, and brings us back to the table, stronger.

We might shed a tear or two, but what I’m looking forward to most is being together.

Who will you share Thanksgiving with this year? Let’s grasp hands and promise to be thankful for those seated at our table, for we never know when it’s our last chance to love, listen, and lean on each other.

Thriving through the hard times isn’t something that comes easy to any of us, but Micah has discovered the key to living a life full of God’s power when our circumstances make us feel power-less. You can find out more about Micah’s new book Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World at micahmaddox.com.

BIO: Micah Maddox is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, writer, blogger, and author of Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World. She is passionate about helping women find purpose, peace, and calm in our chaotic world. As a pastor’s wife and mother of three, she contributes her time to her local church – including serving as a women’s ministry leader.

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/micahmaddoxencouragement/

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/1501848674/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_.JN.yb52FVPZT

Give yourself a break

a break

Are you as hard on yourself as I am?

So, last night I met with a bunch of women. With one of them . . .let’s just say I was a little overzealous to connect. My mouth got ahead of my mind and I blurted out some totally weird comment. Later, when saying good-bye, I uttered an I-don’t-know-what-to-say-so-I’ll-complain comment.

“Oh, I’ve got to head-out. I’ve got to wake up at 5:30 AM to be with my kids.”

I rolled my eyes.

Why? I have no idea why. I have no idea why I just released a complainy comment in my awkward absence of words. But, I did. It came out of nowhere. Ever done that?

Well, these little mishaps didn’t end at that get-together. I got in the car and felt all guilty about me. I questioned what kind of Christian I am. I wondered why I can’t do things right. I kept wondering if the women thought less of me or if I seemed odd.

Do you ever question yourself? Constantly?

Jesus doesn’t do this to us. This is not his voice. He doesn’t tail us like we do. He doesn’t chase us at our heels saying, “Why did you do that? You really messed up this time. You really don’t know how to be like me, do you?”

Jesus doesn’t do this. We do.

What if we were to give ourselves a break? Like Paul does when he addresses the early believers and says, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What if we were to say to ourselves, in the heat of our self-hating moments, “Grace and peace to me, right now, from God my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And then, we let it in. What hooks might come out of our skin? What new places might our heart move to? What truth may we begin to swim in because we give our mind free reign to consider something other than self-condemnation?

It’s okay to be hungry for grace. Horribly. Desperately. Ravagely hungry for it.

Jesus knew we needed it. It’s why he died on the cross. Because we’ll never be perfect. We’ll never be spot-on. We’ll never be without fault.

We need him and we need grace. What if you gave yourself a break today and received his peace and grace so much that it set your mind free to receive Him?

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

 

When You’re 100% Certain: You’re Lost

Lost

As my husband put it, “Kelly, you need a day of relaxation.”

I tended to agree. Recently, stress sat on my shoulders. Grievances were monumental annoyances. My mind was having an affair with worry. To-dos were growing longer. Much was adding up to – too much.

With this, I knew: God was calling me elsewhere – to something greater. So, I went.

I drove to a local park to take the day off and to walk. I was confident I’d found relief right after the 30-minute drive of grueling, never-ending traffic. Except it wasn’t.

As I pulled up to the address shown on Google, the gates were slammed shut. Closed for business. No entry. Bye-bye day of relaxation.

No-go, Kelly.
No-go to where God called you.

More irritation climbed my back.

Have you ever gone where you believed God wanted you to go, only to find it a no-go? Only to have the gate shut? Only to feel lost?

Frustrated, but determined not to give up, I circled the mile-long block a couple times, wondering if there was another entrance. There wasn’t. I returned to the gate with the word “STOP” on it, trying to inch forward and back to see if it would open. It wouldn’t. I called a number to find out if it really was closed. It was.

“God, why did you take me here? To drop me? To leave me?”

“Kelly, I never dropped you or left you.”

I looked down on my lap, and I could see that along the drive to this location, God had been speaking all kinds of blessings to me. Words of encouragement, thoughts of learning, discoveries about my day. He had been with me all the time.

He invited me to a drive of delighting in him. Not to a destination I demanded of him.

He never left me.
He never dropped me.
He never lost me.

Often, we declare we’re lost when God knows we’re in the process of being found. We see our way as long and burdensome, but I believe God thinks, “I’m doing something amazing along this way. I am transforming this woman, my way.”

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)

Perhaps today, you don’t lament where you are, but you grab on to it and see what God has for you.

Friends, as a heads up, Jami Amerine’s book, Stolen Jesus is now available. Don’t miss it. 

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When You Feel You’re Losing

feel your losing

Jesus is your victory. Your victory and your destiny. You are secure.

Because it is: Won and done. (Let these words take root in your mind when you forget)

Jesus won, is winning and will win. Period. Always. Forever. And on and on…for always.
If everything is against you, Jesus wins. Won and done.
If you see death to cancer. Won and done. One day, you’ll be healed on earth or in heaven as your every tear is wiped away.
If your husband left you. Won and done. Jesus will be right next to you, never leaving your side, while leading you to his best thing.
If you get every door slammed in your face. Won and done. God will be your defender and restorer. Nothing gets by him.
If you can’t see out of depression. Won and done. In God’s presence there is fullness of joy.
If you are hated. Won and done. Jesus loves you and will fill the deep desires of your heart.
If pain overwhelms you. Won and done. Greater is God’s love than the substance of anything in this world.

Always, Jesus wins. Won and done. Always. Always. Always. Honor God by returning to this truth, in every case, at all times, in every way. Don’t delay.

He won for you and his victory is done.

“For those who honor me, I will honor.” 1 Sam 2:30

This practice is critical, vital and eternal.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Give Yourself a Little Grace

Post by: Christy Mobley

Recently while playing back a Facebook live video I discovered an ugly truth…

I don’t have a chin in my profile view unless I smile.
I stumble when searching for the right words to say.
And I forget to look and mention each person that tuned in—how rude!

As I watch the video again, I think, I should have done better. Silently I resolve never to do another Facebook live video.

The ugly truth? Gasp—It wasn’t perfect. The realization? Ugh, I’m a perfectionist.

Perfectionist: A person who demands perfection of him or herself.

A couple of years ago I would have never called myself out as being a perfectionist because to me, a perfectionist is someone who has to make everything perfect—meaning they accomplish the task. Since I knew I couldn’t make everything just so, I surmised I didn’t fit this description.

But I was wrong.

I do try to make everything perfect but it’s according to my own standards. And I set them pretty high then I beat myself up when I don’t measure up. This often leaves me feeling like I’m good enough.

And that’s sad.

This idea that I shouldn’t ever make a mistake—mess things up, well, it’s paralyzed me and boxed me in for years. It’s kept me from trying new things, from moving forward, from chasing my dreams.

Have you ever felt like this, even partially? If you have and you are like me, you probably don’t know where this need for doing things flawlessly originates.

I believe perfectionism is a scheme of the devil. Another kill, steal and destroy game plan.

It kills our drive. It steals our joy. It destroys our dreams

Satan feeds us lies to keep us stuck. Because when we hold ourselves to this unreachable standard we keep ourselves from taking a next step—from learning.

By God’s divine design we learn by making mistakes—trial and error. If we are scared of goofing up how can be ever move ahead to the great things God has planned for us—our divine destiny—our God-given purpose?

But there is hope. It’s called grace.

And grace looks like Jesus—God’s greatest gift to us.

I am good enough and you are good enough because Jesus was good enough to be the perfect sacrifice for us. Because Jesus took our place on the cross we’ve been made perfect in God’s eyes. No more striving. It’s already been taken care of. By God’s grace it’s been done.

“For by grace you have been saved though faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

His grace allows us the freedom to be all He intended us to be.

And though I now intellectually know this, I‘ve believed the lies so long its been a slow recovery. But I am recovering. You too?

So let us perfectionist types forge our way forward bravely running head on into mess-ups, blunders, goofs and mistakes, allowing God to refine us through each one. Knowing and believing that as His children, He sees as not only good enough but priceless, blameless and beyond compare. Already perfect.

So give yourself a little grace. God has.

Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball.
You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter

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What it Looks Like to Be a Good Friend

The checkout counter lady turned to me, right there next to my shopping cart and said, “Can I hug you?”

I wasn’t expecting it. I hadn’t done much to warrant it. I hadn’t ushered in world peace to the foundations of her life or dropped all my shopping goods to figure out her life plan or answered her every heart question. All I did was approach her in an authentic way.

When I came up to check out at Trader Joe’s (which I super-love, by the way!), she asked, “How’s your day? You sure bought a lot…” It was an understatement. My cart was so high the stuff was nearly toppling over on one side.

“I am trying to do a better job at taking care of the family. This is my attempt at it.”

She looked at the stuff and at me. Then she opened up about her stuff. I encouraged her and said a couple little things like, “I understand,” “I get that” and “It’s worth taking a risk. Risks you don’t regret, but regret, you do. ”

It wasn’t much. Not real brainiac stuff, but it was real. And this was the point, I suppose.

A couple days later, I met with another friend. She kind of shocked me when she did exactly the same. We were just hanging out and all of a sudden, she turned towards me, out of the blue, and hugged me. “Kelly, I’ve been through so much. It has just been one thing on top of another falling. Thank you for being here.”

I was taken aback.

Why are these people hugging me out of nowhere? I am doing nothing except being here with them.

With the checkout counter lady, I was with her as she talked about her future education, her fear and her boyfriend.

With my friend, I was with her as she explained how hard of a time it has been for her.

With.

Sometimes, the most impactful thing we can ever be is – with.

Not with – and giving advice.

Not with – and saying, “Oh you know, that once happened to me.”

Not with – and counting up what you’ll say next.

Not with – and thinking of other things.

Not with – and internally over their issues.

Just – with.

With…and understanding, feeling compassion, seeking to know, truly engaging, asking questions, responding generously, giving our true and painful story when led by God. Something I don’t do often, but I guess I did on those days.

The irony is that when you are with someone, you get touched back. God does it one way or another. People reach into your space and give you something you didn’t know you needed, but you desperately wanted. They cling to you and through authenticity, you realize you need them as much as they need you. They look at you in a way that lets you know your humility is shifting something in their life.

And one day, it’ll be you in their shoes – just needing to vent. It creates a security in your heart. Things will be okay.

“A friend loves at all times.” Prov. 17:17

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

The Price of Giving It All

Two shadows appeared. One was a small, old, hunched over man with a cane and the other a young and vibrant woman with a flowery dress.

Sitting, they leaned in toward each other and talked. A father and daughter? 

All I could think as I noticed this man’s feeble body, his leaning body on that old war memorial was, “He must be telling her about a life that counted.”

He’s saying, “Sure, I paid a mental price, seeing all that war stuff, seeing people fall. The battles, the pain, the sacrifice. But when push comes to shove, I gave my all. My life. I offered up what mattered.”

Only a few minutes later, I saw the “Vietnam War Veteran” pin on his cap. I wanted to remember this man, because without saying a word, he delivered to my heart a message from God: Kelly, if you give it all up for me, you won’t look back and regret your life. You’ll sit on a memorial of what I did and rejoice over it.

I asked the man if I could take his photo. And I did. But after, he couldn’t get up. His hands wouldn’t support his weight. When I reached out my hand, he looked hesitant at the thought of grabbing it, but he did.

“Pull hard,” he said. I gave it my all. And all I could think as I pulled up the strength of this man, who was so weak, was how Christ gave it all. And how, at the right time, his broken body beat the ravages of earth to reign in heaven.

Jesus gave his everything to bring us all life and hope. Jesus paid it all so we could sit under the shadow of that memorial cross. Jesus gave it all so that we could end our lives, knowing all will end up being okay as we leave this earth. Jesus paid it all so we could accept a helping hand on the days we feel weak. Jesus paid it all so we wouldn’t have to kill ourselves by pretending we are strong, when we actually are weak.

Jesus fought for and bought our freedom. He won.

And he is winning today. He is winning whatever war you face. He’s behind you. He’s in front of you. He’s your future. He is your life. He is your answer. He is the beginning of your new thing. He is your help.

Live for him in a way so when you get to that memorial of your life and you look back, you’ll say, “With Jesus, I gave my all. In him, I fully believed.”

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Finding the Treasure God has For You

Finding the Treasure

When the box arrived, he immediately tore it open, throwing pieces of tape behind him. It was the gift he’d saved up for after setting up summer lemonade stands, selling books online and doing odd chores around the house. I couldn’t be happier for him. Joy oozed out of him.

He pulled the metal detector out and held it high, seemingly admiring the little switches, dials and sounds it made. Now he could search for hidden treasure in the lawn. And that’s just what he did. He searched. Like a lawnmower, he went back and forth in precise lines…making sure not to miss a blade of grass. He worked so hard.

But he wasn’t finding anything. Nothing.

My heart sank.

He pressed on. He wasn’t going to give up. He even pointed to the other large lawn across the street and asked if we could go there. I motioned for him to finish up on this strip, before moving on to the next. Head down, he kept working at it. Nothing.

Wanting good things for him so badly and to reward his work, I had an idea. I snuck my hand into my purse, opened my wallet, grabbed a quarter and threw it onto the grass.

My son, pursued finding “treasure” with such heart, diligence and perseverance…I couldn’t help but secretly reward him.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8)

I can’t help but think, just as I couldn’t help but reward my searching son, God rewards our search too.

We keep asking…we get.

We keep seeking…we find.

We keep knowing…the door is opened to us.

God secretly drops a blessing right along our path, because he loves us. He sees us doing our part by faith, and he rewards us. It is not because we deserve it or because we earned it, but simply because he is good. He is a good daddy.

He sees our persistence. He sees our pursuit. He sees our dreams. He sees our hopes. He sees our desires. He sees our life. He sees our joys. He sees our pain. He sees how we drop down at his feet or ask him for help again and again and he doesn’t push us off or tell us we whine too much. Instead, he notices how we seek him as if he is our greatest treasure. Then, undeservingly, we dig up something amazing. Something that is just what we wanted. He does it in just the right way.

Because he knows us, we are his daughters. He is a good daddy.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Against all Hope

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Post by: Karina Allen

I’m not sure if any of you are like me. I have seasons where I am thinking all of the deep thoughts. I’m not sure what it has been about this summer, but my thoughts have weighed heavy on me. Since the Spring, I have felt a bit tormented in my thought life. It has come in waves and at times has overtaken me.

I have never really been one to deal with a scattered and heavy thought life, but here we are. I can’t help but think that the enemy can sense that the Lord has something of significance awaiting me.

I am also not one to look at the world around me and be so discouraged and yet, here I am. It seems as though there is attack and opposition and hate and oppression at every turn. The enemy is working overtime to destroy us.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he beat me. As far as I know, our God calls us overcomers. He says that we are more than conquerors. He calls us to continue to fight the good fight and hold on to hope. Hope’s name is Jesus.

What does it look like to be an overcomer and to have hope when all appears hopeless?

We stand on the promises of God.

“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

God’s Word is the ONLY the thing that has stood the test of time. Leaders and kingdoms have risen and fallen. Buildings and monuments have been built and have toppled to the ground. Religions have arrived and faded away. But, the everlasting God has never changed or left or lost His power. He is the same God who was before the foundations of the world. He is the same God that will reign for eternity when the world has burned away. This very God spoke and creation came to be. His word is a firm foundation. It doesn’t waver or fail. It is alive and active. It goes forth and accomplishes what He set out for it to accomplish. It does not return void. His Word instructs us to live by faith and not by sight. That requires us to hope despite what we can see.

We surround ourselves with truth tellers and encouragers.

 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-17

The world and all of its voices are unstable to say the least. Fair weather is the name of the game. One moment the crowd is for something and in the very next breath, they are against it. It’s honestly quite exhausting. I am ridiculously blessed to be surrounded by a strong community that is rooted in God’s Word. They have convictions and are not prone to compromise. They speak truth with all authority and call me up higher in my thinking and my doing. When I am hopeless, they have hope for me. They speak hope into my spirit. They remind me that my hope is in Christ and not in my circumstances.

We proclaim the grace of God boldly.

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11

The blood of Jesus and the Word of God are meant for salvation and changing lives. His Word is meant to bring hope to a hurting and hopeless world. And we were meant to conquer…to conquer the enemy, our flesh, fear. We were designed to be ambassadors and witnesses across the earth. But, how will the world around us ever come to know the hope we have in Christ? We must shed our fear and doubt and proclaim boldly His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for His creation. We must declare that He is trustworthy and that He is the bringer of hope and the lifter of our heads.

“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18

Abraham was the king of hope. He followed an unseen God to an unknown land. He believed the promises of this unseen God decades before the promises was fulfilled.

Oh, that we would be a people of God…

Who hope when our flesh is weak.

Who hope when others tell us to give up.

Who hope when the enemy is waging war.

Who courageously hope against all hope.

If you are in a hopeless situation, I’d love to pray for you!

About Karina Allen

Karina AllenKarina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”