If You Want to Move Mountains

February 14, 2017






I sat on that rustic wooden church pew for what seemed like forever.  Waiting.  I was waiting for God to point someone out to me that needed prayer. Perhaps someone to sit with and pray over.  But that wasn’t what happened.  As I sat on that pew, looking up at the dimly lit cross hanging from the ceiling, I felt God whisper to my own heart.    


Are you going to release this to me?  You’re not wrong.  Yes, I am asking you to step out in faith and do this.  Stop fighting me.  Stop doubting.


It happened at our annual women’s prayer retreat.  I was one of the ministry team leaders hosting the event.  The morning was filled with problem solving, greeting women, and making sure things went smoothly.  It’s funny how God will remind you of who is actually in charge of how things go. 


I walked into the room where I had carefully crafted each prayer station for the morning.  The stations were designed for women to discover areas in their lives that had become a barrier to a closer relationship with God. As I sat down, I waited for The Lord to prompt me with someone who I could help pray for in the room.  


But all I could feel was a heavy weight on my own heart.  I sat there, paralyzed in fear at the thought of truly surrendering myself to what The Lord was calling me to do. I could do nothing but repeat, are you sure Lord?  His words kept replaying in my mind. 


Are you going to release this to me?  You’re not wrong.  Yes, I am asking you to step out in faith and do this.  Stop fighting me.  Stop doubting.


My neck got hot and the tears started to pool in the corners of my eyes.  I sat there gripping my hands around the edge of the pew, practically on the edge of my seat.  I could muster only one word.  Yes.  Yes Lord, if you’re calling me to this, then I will obey.  If you’re asking me to release my dream to you, then yes, I will do that.  Yes Jesus, I will trust that you’re going to be with me on this journey. 


You see, I desire to be a woman who moves mountains for God.  A woman who sparks change.  A woman who calls for generations of women to come together for Kingdom purposes.  And I’ve had this one dream tucked away in the back of my heart for years.  A dream that I thought was merely a daydream but is now being called out and put right in front of my face. 


And I’m absolutely terrified.   But throughout this journey of calling dreams to life, God has reminded me not to focus on the mountain in the distance, but on the hill in front of me.


Sometimes our dreams can feel like huge mountains.  Sometimes our lives can feel like we’re endlessly climbing uphill to get to the view we’re promised will be a good one.  And if I’m being honest with you, as much as I want to be a woman who moves mountains, I’m terrified to start the journey up the hill to get there.  But friends, I know it’s in those very hills where Jesus becomes more real to me than if I’m standing in the valley.


Maybe you find yourself there today too.  You want to be a woman who moves mountains for God but you find yourself looking up at this ginormous mountain in front of you and you’re thinking it’s simply impossible to climb.  Maybe it’s your marriage being restored.  Maybe it’s a prodigal child that won’t return home.  Maybe it’s a dream you have tucked away in the secret places of your heart. 



If you want to move mountains, focus on climbing the hill in front of you.




Some hills are small and we conquer those easily.  They restore our trust in God and we’re able to see his provision during times of difficult circumstance.  Some hills are treacherous, full of thorns and muddy ditches and overgrown bushes.  We need every bit of faith we have just to keep climbing.



Friend, if we start worrying about the big mountain in front of us and remain fearful of the big dream inside of us, then we miss the good work God does in us on the hills.



It’s on the hills where the molding takes place.  It’s on the hills that our character gets defined and we learn our strengths and weaknesses.  It’s on the hills where our callings are shaped and developed.  It’s on those very hills where our dreams become deeper Kingdom-seeking works. 


It’s in climbing the hills that God equips us, steady’s us, and draws us closer to Him.  It’s on the hills where He centers our focus on Him so that when we get to the mountain top, we proclaim His glory and goodness. 


Right now I find myself staring at a monumental mountain.  This dream that I believe God has planted in my heart, it seems so very impossible when I stare at it from the valley.  Because you see, from the valley looking up it seems that I might as well forget this God-sized dream of mine.  It’s seems too hard.  Too scary.  Too unknown.  And yet I sense God continuing to prompt me to start my journey up the hill. 






If you want to be the kind of woman who moves mountains for her God, for her Jesus, then be the kind of woman who bravely takes the first step without knowing where the hill will lead. 


I know it’s scary.  I know it takes a lot of faith.  I know everything inside of you probably wants to run from what He’s calling you to do.  But fear is no match for our God.  So start up the hill.  Your hill.  

It’s in those moments, the moments when you do things even though they are scary, even though they make you tremble, that make the view from the mountain top all the more worthwhile. 


 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.
Matthew 17:20 (NLT)









This post was inspired by the newly released book: Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie.  Fear Fighting is one of those books I will pick up time and time again.  Kelly writes from an honest place of experience and hope.  I read the basis of the book months ago and knew that as soon as it was available for release I had to have it.  If you’re someone like me, like Kelly, like so many other women who struggle with fear, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Fear Fighting.  It shines a light on something women need to talk more about-fighting our deepest and darkest fears and claiming victory through Jesus.  




If this post encouraged you, would you consider voting for this post in the Fear Fighting Writers Contest?  It would truly mean so much  and this writer girl would be forever humbled and grateful.  Simply head over to this site and vote for 48!  
Thank you friend!




The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Marriage

January 24, 2017








I looked at the clock.  Seven o’clock on the dot.  It was time to start.  Our wedding director motioned for my bridal party to come and I stayed behind for just a few moments with my dad. 

It was time.           

                 
I had waited three and a half years for this moment.  This moment.  It would be the moment we looked back on in years to come as one of the most precious, sweetest moments of our lives.  Any second now and the doors would open, revealing us to one another for the first time as bride and groom. 

 
It was dream-like.  Not the wedding itself, though that was beautiful too. But the moments when we caught one another’s eyes and knew that from that evening on, we were different.  We were man and wife.  Joined together as one.  Now our own family unit. 



I remember a lot of tears during our ceremony.  Not from me (I had cried the hour leading up to the ceremony), but from Brian.  I had those beautiful sweet bride tears. You know, the ones that casually sneak down your check during a prayer.  But my guy?  Well, he was…feeling some things, we’ll say that.  During one of the prayers, I handed my tear stained handkerchief to him, the one my grandmother gave me to carry on our special day, and snuck it to him so no one would see him wiping his eyes. It was a moment I will never forget because it was just between the two of us.  Sweet.  Secret.  Loving.





That was seven years ago this week.  It seems like it was yesterday when I donned that white dress with lace and traces of pearls and he wore that silky black suit and cream vest.  We were mere youngins when we got married.  I was 22, he was 24.  We knew everything and nothing all at the same time.  


What we thought we knew when we got married and what we actually learned after being married were worlds apart.  Sacrifice looks a lot different to me now.  The tests and trials that love can endure look stronger to me now.  Who God is and what His plans are for marriage are more clear to me now than they were that day I walked down that aisle covered in red rose petals.


I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in the seven years we’ve been married.  But there is one lesson that I come back to over and over again.  It’s helped me in times of trouble and brokenness.  It’s helped me to see my husband not only as the man I love, but as God’s son.  It is a lesson I want to pass on to my daughters in future years when they take on this holy covenant of marriage.



Remember who the real enemy is.



I know.  It's not some romantic idea is it?  But it's a cold hard truth I have needed to remember time and time again.  Remember who the real enemy is.  And friend, the real enemy is not your spouse.  It’s not your children.  It’s not the bills piled up on the counter.  It’s not even the person you see in the mirror every day, wishing things were different.  The real enemy is Satan and he’s simply waiting for his invitation to wreak havoc on your household.


You see, God loves marriageGod loves sex and intimacy. He loves forgiveness and acceptance. He loves praise and support.  He created all those things!  (Genesis 2) But often times those are the hardest things to find in a marriage.  I find myself wondering why marriage in itself can be so difficult at times.  Why can’t it just be easy?  It’s because we try to connect two worlds together that were never supposed to equal to one another. 



God’s original design of marriage and the world’s view of marriage were never designed to be the same.  But often we try to make them the same.  And when we try to take something God designed and fit into a box marked with worldly standards, guess who shows up?  Satan.  The real enemy.



The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.”

John 10:10 (THE VOICE)



When there is discourse in a household who serves the Lord?  Satan eats it up.

When there is resentment that builds and issues that go unresolved?  Satan revels in it.

When a wife withholds her love from her husband because he didn’t do something the way she asked him to?  Satan rejoices.

When a spouse uses pornography as a means for intimacy instead of their partner?  Satan just devours it. 

When husbands and wives undermine one another’s parenting and fights ensue in front of children?  Satan celebrates.


Oh how he loves it.  If he can make his way into your home, into the strongholds of your marriage, he can and will create a life of chaos, bitterness, and utter destruction. 


And if you don’t think you are on his radar, sweet friend, let me speak this truth to you today.   You absolutely are.  Satan will get you wherever he can get you.  Your finances.  Your sex life.  Your past.  Your children.  Your family relationships.  Your secret sin.  Your career.  Your unfulfilled dreams.  Your calling. 


There is no area off limits to him and if he sees a way in, he’ll surely take it. 



A godly marriage full of love, spiritual discernment and forgiveness, is a legitimate threat to the enemy. 



If you think I’m writing this from a place of expertise or some moral high horse, let me tell you, I’m not.  I’m writing from a place of experience.  A place of sadness.  A place of hope. A place of realization that we too had let Satan into our home and slowly but steadily, it was destroying us. 


We were blissfully unaware of the small attacks from him.  The attacks that seemed like nothing, but spiraled into everything.  And now, we’re fighting back.  Remember who your real enemy is. 


It is not your spouse.  Oh, it may look that way at times.  It may masquerade as money issues, parenting woes or intimacy struggles.  Please understand, these things are serious and often times we do need help in these areas from counselors, pastors and other professionals.  But in themselves, they are not the enemy.  It goes so much deeper than that.  It is the source in which they come from that we need to be made aware of.  We are in a battle and we must fight for our marriages.


{Let me also add here, I’m not saying if abuse is present in a marriage you should stay (or some other heavy issues I’ve not listed).  Not at all.  This post isn't about reasons to stay in a marriage or reasons not too.}


I recently watched a message from Lisa Bevere in which she stated her biggest regret in life was that she didn’t love her husband more fearlessly.  A lot of their marriage, though she loved him deeply, she had kept him at a safe distance from her heart.  Always afraid that being hurt and abandoned was just around the corner.  She said looking back she wished she would have been braver in loving him.  She would have encouraged him more, given more of herself emotionally to him, and not been so afraid to truly love him and be loved in return.  I don’t want to have the same regret.  Do you?


Listen, marriage is hard.  Some days it’s really hard.  Some days it’s desperately hard.  And some days you wonder how you ever lived a day without one another.  It’s beautiful.  It’s messy.  It forces us to confront the best and worst parts of ourselves. 


It is two sinners that have vowed to take on one another’s brokenness.  To take on sickness and financial stress. To take on past hurts and family trials.  To accept each other’s faults.  To celebrate each other’s victories, both big and small. 





It is entrusting the darkest parts of yourself to someone else.  It is believing every day that change can happen.  That God works in marriages because He believes in them so much.  I believe God designed marriage and gave it to us as one of the greatest means to glorify Him. 


Remember who the real enemy is, but also remember who The Victor is.  Satan sets out to destroy marriages while God works to redeem them.  Satan wants to divide where God brings together.  Satan enforces pride and bitterness.  God offers grace and forgiveness. 



When you’re on the brink of destruction and you think you can’t fight one more day.  That you can’t even look at your spouse without feeling hurt or bitterness or anger.  I want you to dig your heels in the sand as deep as you can and I want you to suit up and fight.  Fight the real enemy.  Fight for redemption.  Fight for forgiveness.  Fight for love to win.  

Do You Want to Write for Give Her Grace? I'm Looking for Guest Writers!

January 17, 2017

Have you recently felt the call to write and share your words?  Have you ever wanted to share your story to encourage others?  Has God been working in your life and you want to share it with others?  If your heart just leaped up into your throat and you whispered a quiet yes, then I’ve got some exciting news for you friend. 


I’m looking for guest contributors for Give Her Grace!







I could hardly type this all out because I’m so excited!  God has been showing me so much about fear and bravery.  My thoughts are all jumbled up as I'm trying to make sense of all he's put on my heart lately.  I know if I'm experiencing some of this, many of you are as well.  

This upside down time of trying to be brave and fearless has prompted me to invite you along the journey with me.  I'm looking for similar stories from you.  Stories of fearlessness and faith. 


  Fear. 


That can be a scary four letter word, I know.  But here’s the thing friend, that word can encompass so many things.  Calling, gifts, difficult seasons, waiting, hurt, redemption.  Hard stuff.  Good stuff.


What has God done in your life as it relates to fear?  Has He brought you out of a long season of waiting or difficulty?  Has He called you to pursue a dream?  What is God showing you about fear in your life?

Fear is something I have long wrestled with.  To be frank with you, I’m sick of it really.  As this New Year started I vowed to be more fearless and brave in my own life.  I'll be writing more on that in that future, but for now, let's talk about YOU.  Perhaps you have felt a similar tug.  Here's your invitation.


Will you be brave with me?  Will you take a chance on sharing your story?  


Here’s what I’m looking for in a guest post:

-Posts should center on Christian-living and should be encouraging in nature. 

-Please limit posts to no more than 1200 words and no less than 500.

-DO NOT include a featured image or title image.  I will take care of this for you.

-DO include a photo of yourself and a short bio. If you already have a blog, feel free to link it in your bio. 



FAQ’s:

Do I have to have a blog to contribute a post?
            Absolutely not!  Having a blog is not a requirement, but if you do already have one, feel free to post the link in your bio so that readers can follow up with you. 


When do I need to submit a post to you?
            Deadline for posts will be February 28th


Who do I submit my post to?
            That would be me, Amanda!  You can submit a post via email to me here.  


Can I submit more than one post?
         For now, please only submit one post.  There may be opportunities in the future to submit more, so hold onto those posts!


What else should I know about submitting a post?
            Please know that as the author of this blog, I reserve the right to format the post and edit the post as I see fit.  I will do my best not to take away the original content of your post, but I need to stay true to the format of posts I use and to the mission of Give Her Grace.  If you have any questions about the guidelines, feel free to contact me!




I can’t wait to read your words sweet friends.  I’m ready to be brave and fearless.  Are you?

What if You Just Start?

January 6, 2017

I spend a lot of my writing time staring at a blank white screen with a blinking cursor. 


That cursor.  


It’s surprisingly intimidating.  The constant blinking reminds me with each passing moment that I’ve not put a single word down.  Which for a writer, isn’t too great.  We’re sort of required to put words on a page. 


It’s always the first sentence that makes me clam up, makes me hesitate.  Part of my COMPEL training was centered on nailing the first sentence in a post.  Grab their attention.  Make them want to read more.  Draw people in.  Every time I start a new post I have that in the back of my mind.  I just have to make it through that first sentence.  


In these last years of writing, I've realized that I have let that first sentence have way too much power over the rest of my post, even over my confidence as a writer. 


As I sat down to write this week I had a thought. 


What if I just started and didn’t obsess over that first sentence?  What if I simply poured out my heart and didn’t worry about whether it was perfect or whether it would get likes or comments?  What if I just wrote and didn’t look back?


It may sound like a silly thought, but I’m wondering how many of you are hung up on your own first sentence.  Now it may not be actual writing that’s got you hung up, but nevertheless, you’ve got your own battle with your “first sentence," whatever it is. 


Maybe you want to start your own business but you’re afraid to take the plunge.  Or you’re worried about chasing your dreams, because what if you fail?  What will your family and friends think?  There are so many things that can be “first sentences” for us. 


They symbolize the fear that runs deep in us.  It’s not the actual first sentence (whatever it is-the dream, ministry, idea, etc.) that has us fearful.  It’s what they represent.  Change.  Challenges.  Possible rejection.


But what if we didn’t worry about the big picture of things for once and we simply just started




   

Years ago before I started blogging, I was at a conference with our Acteens group and recognized a writer and blogger whom I knew in the crowd.  I debated whether or not to talk to her.  I certainly didn’t want to bother her but I was also intrigued by her story of how God had stirred up in her the calling to write. 


As the conference ended I found myself standing near her and decided to go up and introduce myself.  I had long felt the stirring in my own heart to write and start blogging and so I asked for her best piece of advice for a new comer like me. 


“Girl, just start. Just go for it!” were the words she said to me.  About a month later I did just that.  I simply started.  It hasn’t been a perfect journey.  When I go back now and read some of my first posts as a blogger I actually cringe.  {I wouldn’t recommend you go back and read them either! } But it’s all part of the journey.  Not only has my writing changed but my relationship with God has drastically changed as I’ve gotten closer to Him.


I’ve been writing and blogging now for five years.  It's hard to believe it's been that long already.  Over the years the focus of my blog ministry has shifted, my calling is now a bit more within reach and I truly know in my soul that no matter what the lifelong outcome of this is, I have to write.  I have to.  It is ingrained in my soul. 


But it didn’t just happen.  I had to start. I had to lay it all down at the foot of the cross and be obedient to what God was calling me to do.  It was scary.  It still is. 


The hard truth is this: 

If we let fear grip us and we never start, then we’ll never know what God can truly do in us and through us. 







Author Annie Downs says this in her book, Let's All Be Brave:

"You just have to start, my friend.  That thing that is whispering on your insides?  That conversation you need to have or that place you need to go?  That job you want to try or that ministry you want to attempt?  That major you want to pick at college or that mission trip you want to go on?  You've got to start somewhere.  So do.  Tell somebody you want to be brave."



Five years ago I was just a girl at a conference with a big dream but a slight hesitancy to obey what God was calling her to do.  Thankfully a fellow sister stepped in and offered me the encouragement I needed to start. 


Today, I want to give that same encouragement to you sweet friend. 


Just start.


Stop worrying about failing.  Stop trying to make everything perfect before you even begin.  Stop thinking that you’ve heard God wrong.  Stop ignoring that tug in your heart that He’s placed there that maybe, just maybe, you were designed to do more. 


It doesn't matter where you begin.  Just take a small step towards that dream you've got tucked away in your heart.  Just start. Achieve that goal you have.  Do the thing you have always wanted to do.  Leave behind the what-if's and let God open the doors that are in His will for you to be opened.  


Just think: what if you left behind all those “first sentences” and all the other hang ups that leave you feeling unqualified and unworthy?  What if now is the time you bravely step over the line and lay it all down for Him? 


"You know the thing God is doing in your life better than I do.  It's time to get quiet before the Lord and ask him what it looks like for you to live a life of courage today.  To start."

Annie Downs, Let's All Be Brave




Friend, what might happen if you just start?

Dear Mama, at Christmas Time

December 14, 2016




Dear sweet mama,


I know that we may not know each other.  If we passed by one another in the store we may not even make eye contact.  It’s not because we don’t want to look at each other, it’s just that we’ve got so much we are trying to remember to do.  We are probably juggling at least one child and trying our best to keep them from grabbing unwanted things and throwing them in the cart.


I want you to know that even though it doesn’t seem like it, someone sees you.  I see you. I see how you’re trying to juggle it all.  




Shopping.  Baking. Wrapping.  Cleaning.  





I see how you’re giving it your best effort to teach your children the real meaning behind this beautiful season.  Jesus.


But it’s hard, isn’t it?

  
I want you to know that it’s okay that everything doesn’t get done.  It never does, does it?  Even despite our best efforts, something always gets left undone.  




And it’s okay.





This Christmas season my prayer for you isn’t that you get everything done.  It’s that you take moments to breathe.  That you take this all in.




I know it’s hard to stop and just be during this busy season.  I know that even when you are trying to push everything aside and be present with your family, in the back of your mind you’re still going through your to-do list.  



I get it.  I am right there with you. But let's not miss this precious time because of our shopping and Christmas to-do lists.  Oh God, I pray I remember to breathe in these precious moments.  Help me to savor this time.




As you prepare for the busy week ahead, here are the things I am praying most for you:



I pray you snuggle up under cozy warm blankets with your kids, and hold their little hands, which are probably sticky from eating too many candy canes, and you breathe in these moments.





I hope you get to sit back and not worry about the mess that is being made, and you watch your children light up with joy as they open their presents.  A joy that cannot be taken away.



I want you to soak up the smells of your mother’s home cooking and your aunt’s famous dishes.  Those are the smells that fill the house with a warmth and love that cannot be recreated.  For those smells won’t be there forever.  



I pray that beyond all the chaos of toys on the floor and wrapping paper everywhere, you remember The One whose birth we celebrate, never intended for you to be overwhelmed with anything other than joy and thankfulness during this sweet season.








Our kids won’t remember that everything didn’t get done. Or that the house was a mess or that your cake never did get baked for the work Christmas party.  



But they will remember the moments you create with them.



They will remember snuggles on the couch and staying up late watching Christmas movies. They will remember singing Jingle Bells and Silent Night at the top of their lungs on the way to look at Christmas lights.




They will remember that this season isn’t about us at all.  It’s about Him.  Our sweet Jesus.





So to my dear, precious mama at Christmas time, I know you may be overwhelmed with your running lists.  I know you’re worn out from school parties and wrapping presents and helping put on the church Christmas play.



But, don’t miss this. 



Every year I look back after Christmas has passed and I think to myself, what was I doing the whole time?  I feel like I missed it.


  
But not this year.  This year I will be intentional about Christmas.
  


I will sit down in the wrapping paper mess and play with my girls.


I will bake a birthday cake for Jesus.


I will hold my husband’s hand as we watch our girls play with their gifts.


I will sit back and breathe.  And enjoy.  And I will be thankful for the blessings we don’t deserve in so many ways.


And mostly, I will be reminded that this time, although it is fun, has meaning because of Him {Jesus} and not because of anything I could ever do.




Dearest mama, let us not miss it this year.  




I am praying this for you and so much more.  I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!






Photo Credit: Heather Gunter of Rustic South Photography


Merry Christmas!

Love, 
The Martinsen's



                     *This post was originally published on December 22, 2015.*



Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs