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Hi Friends!

I've been posting on and off here throughout the summer for a few different reasons.  Some I'm in the process of writing about, so I'll save telling you about those for another time.  But the other reason is that I'm giving this blog a fresh new look, and new blog designs take a lot of time!  Every year around this time I re-evaluate the "feel" of Give Her Grace and where I want to go in the upcoming year.  

With that, I'm super excited to reveal a new blog look to you all very soon.  I'm working on several new aspects to the blog I think you will like.  

I can't wait to show you and in the meantime, know that you are on my heart and in my prayers!

Love, 
Amanda





How to Host a Women’s Retreat on a Budget

Our plans were grand, but our budget was not.  Our women’s ministry team had a long standing dream of hosting a women’s retreat, but we didn’t have a lot of money (around $250.00) and would need to pull from as many outside resources as we could.

God was good to us, and so were the people He surrounded us with that helped us pull it off. 

If you’re familiar with church budgets and line items for ministry, you know that sometimes you have to figure out creative ways to make things happen. But how do you host a women’s retreat or event, meet your event goals, and stay on budget?  I hope that by sharing my experience of retreat planning on a budget, it will help spark some ideas and tips for you if hosting a retreat is one of your dreams.



Head over to More to Be and check out 5 helpful tips for planning a women's retreat on a budget.

30 Things I Want to Do in My 30's


Today is my 30th birthday.   To say that time has flown by is an understatement.  Quite frankly, I couldn't wait to get out of my teens and go into my twenties because that was definitely an era I was ready to leave behind.  I wanted to grow up, start my life and settle into adulthood.  

So here I sit, not officially thirty until the clock turns 5:03pm, basking in the last moments of my twenties.  There were so many great things that happened in my twenties. Getting married, having my girls, going to a job I love everyday, buying a house, cultivating what God was calling me to do with my life, and the list goes on.

All week I've joked with friends and family about living up my last days as a twenty-something.  But the truth?  I'm extremely excited about going into my thirties.  (shhh...don't tell anyone!)

I'm looking forward to my thirties for a lot of reasons. I feel like my thirties are going to be such a great time to really cultivate the plans that God has for my life. To really dive deeper in my relationships with those around me. To see the fruit of my labor within my ministry work, including my first ministry of being a wife and mom.

There are so many things I want to accomplish in my thirties.  The best part of that being that I'm not so afraid anymore.  Thirty comes with a little more courage and a little more boldness.  So I'm not so afraid to mess up because life has already taught me that at some point I will.  I'm not as afraid to step out in faith or to fail.  After living some years and seeing God's provision, I know that He will work all things together for my good.  (Romans 8:28)


So in light of today, I thought I would share with you thirty things I want to do in my thirties.  In no particular order, here we go...








1.  Go on a mission trip 
2.  Vacation in the Caribbean
3.  Take my girls to Disney World
4.  Visit New York City 
5.  Begin a mentoring program in my church
6.  Take a family road trip in an RV to visit places across the US
7.  Get my life coaching certification 
8.  Make some new friends
9.  Pour into the women around me 
10.  Find a mentor 
11.  Mentor someone else 
12.  Release unforgiveness I've been holding onto 
13.  Experience healing from my anxiety 
14.  Skydive (if I only have the guts to indoor skydive does it still count?)
15.  Go deeper in my friendships 
16.  Listen more, talk less
17.  Have people over to my house more often for coffee or dinner 
18.  Memorize more scripture 
19.  Give more grace to others
20.  Try new foods 
21.  Prioritize my relationship with my husband and my girls
22.  Teach my girls the value of prayer
23.  Worry less about the number I see on a scale
24.  Really believe who my identity is in Christ
25.  Help and equip other women for their God-given callings
26.  Take a trip to The Holy Land.  
27.  Cultivate my calling for ministering to women 
28.  Write a book.  
29.  Commit to getting healthy: mind, body, and soul.  
30.  Start a non-profit ministry


So there you have it!  This list was so much fun to come up with.  What about you?  Do you ever set goals for yourself on your birthday? 

Mommy, Are You Afraid to Tell Others About Jesus?






I had just slipped my foot into my right shoe when my oldest daughter came around the corner and asked to sit on my lap for a minute.  I began to brush her hair and make sideways piggy tails per her request. We talked for a minute and I explained to her that I would be home late since I was going to speak at a church. 

“Mommy is going to tell others about Jesus.  Isn’t that cool?” I said as I pinned her favorite bow in her hair.  

“Yeah it is.” She said.  

But then she paused for a moment as if she had something else on her mind. 

Mommy, are you ever afraid to tell others about Jesus?”


Her question flabbergasted me for a moment.  I wanted to answer with an immediate “No, absolutely not! Mommy is never afraid to tell others about Jesus!” But this was a teachable moment, and one I wanted to be honest with her about. And so I answered her the best way I knew how.


“Sometimes I do get little butterflies in my belly when I talk in front of others because I am nervous, but I love telling others about Jesus and His love.  But yes, sometimes sweetie, I do get a little afraid because it isn’t always easy to do that.”  


She turned towards me with her signature crooked smile. 


“Yeah, well when I tell others about Jesus, I’m only a little afraid too.  But only a little.” She said as if she speaks to crowds of people all the time.  She ran off to chase her sister with her sideways piggy tails bouncing behind her and I sat back contemplating the weight of what she had just asked me.



I have to tell you friends.  That simple question from my four year old has weighed heavily on my heart for weeks now.  The truth is that sometimes I am afraid.  Sharing our faith with others, and explaining our relationship with Jesus, can be hard sometimes.


Often, things like fear of rejection or judgment or uncertainty hold us back from telling others about Him.  Maybe one of these statements rings true for you:

I don’t know the Bible as well as I should. 
I might get asked something I don’t know. 
I might be judged for sharing too much.
I make it clear I’m a Christian so they know how I feel about Jesus.
I don’t want to offend them; it might turn them off for good.

I get it friend.  You see, it’s a lot easier for me to stand up in front of a group of seasoned believers and preach a message of encouragement and hope in Jesus.  It’s safe there for me.  It’s comfortable.  But could I do this with someone I’ve just met? Someone I don’t know?


I cringe at the thought of how I hesitate at that.  


You see, I want to raise girls that are warriors for Jesus.  Girls that are fiercely protective of the Kingdom of God and its people. Girls that aren’t afraid to stand up for the lost.  The broken.  The devalued. The forgotten of society.


And to walk Jesus strong, they’re going to need an example to follow. My conversation with my oldest daughter led me to a stark realization.  It’s time for me to warrior up and stop wasting time by not telling others about my love for Him. 


Listen sweet friends, moment of hard truth.  We don’t have time to spare.  I say this with urgency because people need Jesus and they need Him desperately. They don't even know how much they need Him, but they do.  And we need to be the ones to tell them about Him.


About His mercy. His grace. His forgiveness. How by His blood we get to live a blameless life. 


We get pulled into a thousand directions every day.  The world promotes a gazillion and one methods for finding peace and hope in the midst of a chaotic world.  


But there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that will replace the peace Jesus gives us.  


There is not a marketing tool or product that can dispense the hope we so desperately need like Jesus. 


He is my answer.  He is the answer.


I am nothing without Jesus.  I am nothing without His love.  I am nothing without His grace or mercy.  I am nothing without His forgiveness.  For because He paid it all, all to Him I will forever owe.

And I will fight tooth and nail so that others can know this too.  I don’t want to be afraid to tell others about Jesus.  I don’t want to hesitate when it comes to showing others who is my all in all. I won’t choose comfort anymore.  I will not stand back and watch the world teach my girls who they are created to be...who I am created to be. 


I will not allow fear to dwell within me any longer.   


We can spend our days worrying about offending people or getting their approval or waiting for the perfect time to talk about Jesus, or we can start sharing about His love in any way we can.  


Now is the time to testify.  Now is the time to warrior up and make known whose Kingdom we serve.  We serve a mighty God who is still alive.  Who still works miracles.  Who still redeems.  Who still reaches out to us for a personal relationship.  A God who is calling for His people to rise up and make His name known. 


You don’t need to be a missionary in a far off land to tell others about Jesus. Our mission field is where God has planted us in our current season of life.  Our work places.  Our homes. Our churches. Our neighborhoods.


Telling others about Jesus isn’t about walking up to them and shouting the Bible at them.  It comes in showing others who we are in Him and what He’s done in us. 


Let your life be your testimony. Practice an attitude of thankfulness in every situation. Tell people of the miracles He’s performed in your own life, big and small.  Tell them of the chains you’ve been freed from.  Tell them about His goodness.  Tell them about the God you love and the Son who went to the cross for you.  For them. For us all. 


My daughter’s question sparked a change in me.  My work as a mother has a clearer vision now and a clearer purpose.  I want them to watch me as I grow in my faith and know that they have a mother who loved Jesus with everything she had and wasn't afraid to tell others about Him. A mother who was never fearful or ashamed of The Gospel message.  


May my life, and yours, be reflective of Acts 20:24:


“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned to me by Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”


Forever yours Jesus, Amen. 

It’s Okay that You’re Not Okay





Hey friend,


I know you’re trying so hard to hold it together right now.  I know it seems like everything is falling apart and you don’t know which way to turn.  I know that it all seems out of control and grasping at straws is how you live your life nowadays.  Can I tell you something?


It’s okay that you’re not okay right now. 


It’s okay that life seems restless and chaotic.  Topsy turvy even. That doesn’t mean it feels good.  I know it doesn’t.  It’s draining. It’s daunting. Sometimes even down right painful.   
  

But friend?  


Just stop. Stop pretending right now. You don't have to fake it another minute. You don’t have to pretend that it’s all okay or that you’ve got everything under control. You don’t have to keep trying to figure out what is coming next. You don’t even have to pretend to like your current circumstance. 

I know the guard you’ve got up. Hell-bent on trying to prove to others that you’re holding it all together, that you’re taking it all like a pro. That you can handle anything that is thrown at you. 


But the reality of it friend? We can't. We can't handle any of it without Him.


You don’t have to always be okay.  Because it’s during the times of being unsettled and restless when we will continually seek God.  We will probably seek Him harder than we ever have before.  And we should.  We should chase Him down because He is the only hope we've got to get through it.  

It's during those times of not being okay when our prayers are prayed in desperation and sometimes hopelessness.  And all of that works together for our good in the messiest and most beautiful ways. 


Friend, just hang in there. 


This is where God often does His best work.  Oh yes.  The times when you're on your knees in desperation and complete surrender. Unsure of the future. Even downright burdened and overwhelmed with the current circumstance. Stuck in the ick and can’t get out.  This is where we draw close to our Creator.  The One who goes before us and knows our every need. 


This season of not being okay is temporary.  You need to know this.  I know that right now it doesn’t feel that way.  I know that right now you can’t see an end to it all and you’re wondering where in the world God is in all of this and what you’re supposed to do next.  


How can God redeem this?  How can He bring good from this?  


Oh sweet friend, you just watch.  


I know it's hard, but it’s okay to release those things to Him. The things you want to hold so tightly to, but know you can't.  Your children. Your marriage. Your dreams. The things you don’t understand in this world.  You can release it all to Him.  You can stop worrying about whether or not God will come through on His end.  He will. Because He’s the same God He’s always been.  He hasn’t changed.  


The same God that provided manna each day for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness is still the same God we serve today.  The same God that walked in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and allowed them to come back without even a hair singed still lives today.  The same God who took the widow’s two mites and blessed them still reigns.  And the same God who came down on this earth in human form is alive and wants to be Lord of your life.  



So get desperate for Him.  Be hungry for His word and His promises. Wait with expectation that He will do something in you.  Something only He can do.   


It’s okay that you’re not okay today friend.  Maybe tomorrow you will be okay. Really okay, not the fake okay. And maybe it's next week. Next month. A year from now. At some point you will be okay again.  


Until then, know that in the stillness of waiting, God is there with you. He will not give up on you and He will most certainly not fail you. You can let go.  You don't have to pretend with Him.  He's got you and He's not letting go.  





Need a little extra encouragement today?  Try this friend



Hope for the Overburdened Leader

I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.  I’ve been thinking about your service and how you’re chasing hard after your calling as a leader. I’ve been thinking about the way you handle everything as well as you do.  The way you care.  The way you love the people you serve.

I see your passion.  I see your perseverance.  I see that sometimes, even when you don’t want to admit it, this leader thing in its finest and truest form can become too much for your soul to bear.

I’ve been thinking about how you pour your heart and soul into your small groups, your ministry projects, your family, and even your dreams. You want to give everyone and everything your best. You’re giving it all you’ve got, letting your passion and heart for the Lord push you from one thing to the next.

It’s all good work, right?  That’s what we tell ourselves.


We convince ourselves that we’re doing all this good work for everyone else, but we never stop and think about how it affects our own souls.

I see you, friend.  Called to lead.  Called to mentor. Called to give of yourself in mighty Kingdom ways.

But if you and I were across from each other right now, sipping on our favorite beverage, maybe a chai tea for you and a mocha for me, and we were brutally honest with one another, we would say the words we’re afraid to say.  We’re afraid to say them now because it might affect how we’re perceived as leaders.  Afraid that by voicing the very thing we’re scared to say, it might mean we somehow don’t care.

If we were to put our drinks down for a minute, look one another straight in the eyes, and say that brutally honest thing to each other, we would say this:

Head over to More to Be to read on friend.  



How God Redeemed Our Birth Story







"Erupt with thanks to the Eternal, for He is good
and His loyal love lasts forever.
Let all those redeemed by the Eternal—
those rescued from times of deep trouble—join in giving thanks."

Psalm 107: 1-2 (VOICE)






This past weekend my youngest daughter Georgia turned two years old. The time has gone by quicker than I ever imagined it would. It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years since we spent those days in the hospital waiting for her to come. Days filled with lots of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation at what life with two little ones would be like.


You see, both of my girls are miracle babies. Just in very different ways. Before you read any further, I would encourage you to start here. Years ago I wrote about Brooke’s birth story and it will help you better understand the miracle of how God redeemed our birth story the second time around.


My pregnancy with Brooke was high-risk. I developed Cholestasis of Pregnancy, or ICP, during my second trimester. ICP is a liver disorder that effects the flow of bile and cells in the liver. It is extremely dangerous because if not diagnosed, there is an increased chance of still birth. There is no cure (besides delivery) but it can be managed with medication. The main symptom of ICP is moderate to severe itching. I spent hours a day clawing at my hands and feet. To sum up, it was not fun. You can read more about my experience with ICP in Brooke’s birth story and I will include some resource links at the bottom of this post.


I say all that to say, this is where God’s redeeming work began. He redeemed our birth story long before we ever set foot in a hospital. During my pregnancy with Georgia, God healed my body of ICP. Let me explain. You see, there was no medical reason that I should not have gotten it again. Statistics show that with each pregnancy, a mother’s chances of developing ICP only increases if she’s had it in a previous pregnancy. Let's just say the odds weren’t in my favor.


Every few weeks I would have my doctor test my blood work levels. I waited in fear for the itching to begin. I waited for the sleepless nights of clawing at my legs and arms. I waited to feel the fear of a high risk delivery again. I waited and waited.


I knew I couldn’t hold onto the fear anymore, so one night during my second trimester, I prayed fervently over Georgia in the name of Jesus for healing. I prayed that He would not let my body go through what it had before. I prayed that there would be no trace of ICP during this pregnancy. Tears fell as I released my body to Him. To this day it’s still one of the most powerful prayers I’ve ever prayed. A prayer prayed out of desperation and release.


I felt God’s peace flood over my entire body. I knew I didn’t need to worry about ICP anymore. God was in control and He had healed my body. The itching never came. My blood work came back at normal levels every time. No ICP. No early delivery. No high risk pregnancy.


Already God had redeemed our story, but He was just getting started.




The time had finally come for us to check into the hospital to have Georgia. As we checked in, the nurse led us to the corner room just on the other side of the nurse’s desk. I paused as she motioned for us to come around the corner and get settled in. Please, no. Not that room. I thought.


For it was in that room where my first baby had to fight for her life. It’s in that room where I saw panic come across Brian’s eyes as he watched his wife and baby girl face obstacle after obstacle. Nothing in his control and nothing in mine.



It was in that very room where my daughter came into this world not breathing. That room. That room was not a source of joy for me. I remember emotional pain, worry, despair, hopelessness, and an exhaustion I’ve never felt since.


No, God. Don’t put us in that room. You know the trauma and awful memories this room holds.


As the nurse handed me a dull blue hospital gown I felt God’s presence. Do you know my power child? I’ve got you. Do not worry.


As the day progressed, several of the same issues we had with Brooke’s labor and delivery happened again. They had trouble locating Georgia’s heartbeat and I spent much of my labor time moving from position to position trying to get a heartbeat read. I was terrified that we were going to repeat the same birth experience.


But God.


God knew that my heart’s desire was to have a positive birthing experience with Georgia. He knew everything that happened with Brooke because He was there through it all. He was there as the team of doctors and nurses rushed around her to keep her alive. He was there in the moments afterward when my body was utterly give out from exhaustion. He was there on the empty hallway when my husband broke down sobbing on my father in law’s shoulder as we waited for doctors to confirm whether or not Brooke would need to be air lifted to a children’s hospital.


God was there. He never left us. His healing power saved my first daughter and I believed He would do it again.


God absolutely redeemed our birth story. After she was born, she went right up on my chest, perfectly healthy. Perfectly redeemed. There was no respiratory team or anyone that took her from me. God gifted us the moment I had wanted for a long time. Just me, Brian, and our new healthy (and pink!) baby girl. Georgia Hope. Yes, the middle name was very intentional.


We were able to take our time with her, take in every one of her features. When Brooke was born, I had no idea what she looked like until I saw her hours later in the NICU. But not this time. God showed us His power and His love by giving us the sweetest moments after Georgia’s birth.


We spent a few days in the hospital, not because of Georgia, but because of me. Because I had hemorrhaged a few weeks after Brooke’s birth, doctors kept a close check on me throughout our stay. I was ready to leave the hospital but also a little nervous at the thought of what the next few weeks might bring. What if they missed something and I hemorrhaged again? What if this time was worse than the last?

But I knew God was with us and this was an experience He was going to redeem to the end. Weeks went by and I never hemorrhaged. Glory to God.


I spent some time thinking about why it’s taken me so long to write this story out. I think in part, it’s very difficult for me to go back and relive the trauma of Brooke’s birth story. I've spared a lot of the details here, but the experience was a difficult one. God healed her, Praise Jesus, but the experience left an emotional scar that is hard for this mama to open back up. But I needed to open it up, because opening it up allows me to look at both my girls and realize that they are both miracles.


Writing this story of redemption has been very healing for me. I am so very thankful for all of God’s mercies and His protection over us. We had a wonderful team of doctors and nurses during both experiences and I praise God that with each birth, He put the people in place that I needed most to be there.


Nurses that prayed over me and my babies, a doctor who took me seriously when I had concerns that my ICP was back a second time. He obliged me with each blood test I requested, even though the results came back negative each time. Nurses who were encouraging and patient and comforting as I shared with them the experience of the first go round and how I was scared out of my mind we would repeat the process. None of it an accident. Each person placed there so God could continue out His redeeming work. I find it simply amazing that God would pay that much attention to the little details.




Georgia’s birth healed me of the trauma I had experienced during Brooke’s birth. God took every fear that had remained there since Brooke’s birth and delivered more over.



And that fighter baby, the girl who spent time hooked up to wires and machines that helped her breathe the first hours of her life, she’s four now. She runs and plays and throws the most Oscar worthy tantrums I’ve ever seen. When I look at her now, it’s hard to believe where she started. But that is the power of our God. She is a walking miracle and testimony of God’s faithfulness and love to us.


And my Georgia Hope never ceases to amaze me. From the moment we found out we were expecting her, God’s hand has been all over that child. Through her, He has given us such immense joy. He has repeatedly shown us His power through her.


Credit: Mallory Kate Photography 





Let me tell you something friend, God is still a God who redeems. You need to know that. Whether it’s a birth story, a marriage, a prodigal child or a diagnosis that seems hopeless. He is still the God who redeems.




"This is why I keep telling you not to worry about anything in life—about what you’ll eat, about how you’ll clothe your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than fancy clothes. Think about those crows flying over there: do they plant and harvest crops? Do they own silos or barns? Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn’t it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds! "


Luke 12:22-24 (VOICE)





Friend, if you think God has forgotten you or you’re worried about a situation, find comfort in these words from His Son. “Remember that you are more precious to God than birds.” God is still working. Trust in His power. Trust in His timing. Trust in His faithfulness.



My Prayer

God, first and foremost, I love you.  Thank you for my miracle babies and the fact that you are a God who is in control of every situation and every single thing.  You are magnificent in your ways.  I pray that each person that reads this story of redemption knows that you have the power to do the same thing in their life.  I pray my words have pointed others to you, because you are the only reason this has all happened.  God, you transform us.  You give us the desires of our hearts and want us to testify to your goodness.  I want to do that today and all of my days.  I want to testify to your faithfulness and the wondrous redeeming work you do in all of us who call you Father.   In Jesus name, Amen.  





ICP Resources:

What is ICP?


Signs & Symptoms


ICP Care Facebook Page













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