A Life Lived for God // A Grateful Heart

To me, there is nothing more inspiring than to see someone that truly lives their life for God. I think we all know those people. The people whose faith is never questioned because they so clearly live it, breathe it, and rejoice in it every single day. This little lady in this photo was one of those people. Nellie was the niece of my great-grandfather, Joseph Ezra (Uncle Ezra, to her), and the cousin of my grandmother that passed away in September.

When my Grandmother first got sick this past September, she told my Uncle that when their mother passed away, she would be glad to be their momma during the time she had left on this Earth. She told him that she prayed for her, and us, every day. A couple of days later, my grandmother passed away and just a few hours later, all 10 of my aunts and uncles (with my sister and I) drove over to see Nellie and to tell her that she had inherited 10 children (and 14 grandchildren/11 great-grandchildren) that morning. Her little room was full to the brim with her new children and the emotion of that moment was so evident. The smile on her face was ear to ear and it was one of the most beautiful moments that I had ever witnessed.

On a previous visit, Nellie had shared that she had never been able to have any children of her own. She shared that she often asked God why he didn’t give her any children. She told us that the Lord spoke to her and told her that he had already given her children in her relatives and the many neighborhood children that loved to frequent her home.

One of my uncles that lived the closest to Nellie, and would visit her nearly every day, shared with us that many of the staff members at the nursing home would come to Nellie with their problems and worries and that she would pray with them and for them. She had even been praying for my family and I in the past few days, once she found out that my paternal grandmother passed away and that we’d be traveling to California for the services.

Sadly, Nellie went to Heaven to join the rest of her family on Thursday afternoon, but her joy and sweet spirit has touched all that knew her. I had only known her and had been visiting her for about a year, but this kind, Godly woman was truly a blessing and I am truly grateful for her.

What are you grateful for this week?

I’m linking up this post with Ember Grey’s Grateful Heart linkup! Click the image below to head over to the blog.

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Make Your Mess Your Message

Recently, I was doing some blog reading and I came across the phrase “make your mess your message” and it stopped me in my tracks. So much of what I have been compelled to write on this blog has been about my walk with Christ and how that has carried me through a season of loss that resulted in losing five close family members in a two year time frame. Although my faith and my trust in God has never been stronger, let me just say that this journey of mine has been messy.

When I first began to carve out this little corner of the internet for myself, I didn’t necessarily go into it with the mindset of using it as platform for sharing my walk with Christ. At the time, my relationship with God looked a lot different than it does as I sit here typing this. I believed in God and believed in his promises, but I didn’t know Him the way that I know Him now. I knew God in the way that I know of the Eiffel Tower or Grand Canyon. I’ve heard about them, I’ve read stories about them, but I have never been to either place and I don’t know about them on a personal level.

For me, none of it truly hit home to me until I actually saw God moving in my life and saw His promises coming to life. Losing five close family members over the course of two years completely wrecked me. Death is a part of life, yes, but I was not prepared for it to come so suddenly and so quickly to five of the most important people to me and my family. Prior to this season, I had no idea that this space would eventually serve as a platform to share my story because I didn’t think that I had a story to share. I didn’t think that I had a place in the sea of other blogs, all with women much more capable and eloquent than I, to minister to others.

But oh, do we have a story to share, my friends. No matter how big or how small you may feel, your story matters. Because you matter to God and he has written the most amazing stories for all of us. There are days where I am so filled with gratitude and joy over what God has done in me and my family that I wish I could just take a megaphone out to the world and shout it from a rooftop. I don’t pretend to know why God writes our stories the way that he does, but I like to think that he wrote mine so that I could finally find my voice among the crowd. I had been a writer on the internet for years, but no pop culture article could ever matter as much as someone who is sharing their heart, all for the glory and honor of God.

The stories don’t have to be pretty and they don’t have to be perfect. The stories don’t need to be wrapped up in shiny things and presented to the world on a silver platter. My story is a mess. It isn’t pretty, it certainly isn’t perfect, and some days I feel like I am presenting it to you on a paper plate rather than a platter. But that’s okay. My mess has become the message of God’s love and hope, and I cannot keep it to myself.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” // Isaiah 52:7

Be Still and Know // A Grateful Heart

There is something so magical about the first snow of the season. It brings me right back to my childhood days; waiting by the window and wishing so fervently for those first precious snowflakes.

Winter Storm Jonas may not have dumped several feet of snow on us (thank goodness), but it brought us lots of ice and a wonderful snow day at work on Friday. Believe me, teachers enjoy snow days just as much as the kids. Until we have to start making up those days, that is.

One of the things that I love about snow days are the opportunity they provide for us to just be still. Sure, up North life still goes on in the snow, but down South everything pretty much shuts down for ice and a little snow. While it may be frustrating for some, I love the way that the snow causes us to slow down and just take our time. Plus, is there anything more beautiful than snow covered trees?For me, much of these snow days were spent reading, reflecting, and simply being,which I am so grateful for.

It’s in those quiet moments that I feel that I am best able to reflect and root myself in the Word of God. We can get so consumed by all of the “noise” of every day life that any time that I can get away with slowing down, I am all for it.

What are you grateful for this week?

This post is part of Ember Grey’s weekly Grateful Heart Linkup! Click the image below to head over to the blog to read all of the posts and even add yours to the list.

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

10 Bible Verses for Times of Grief

Grief is not an easy thing to feel. We shy away from it, away from this thing that is hurting us. I am not an expert on dealing with grief, by any stretch of the imagination. When you are grieving over the loss of a loved one, you’re never truly going to get over it but by the grace of God, we are able to get through it. As painful as it is to go through, times of grief are when we are best equipped to see God’s truth and promises come to life.

Since December 2013, I have lost five close family members. On Christmas Day in 2013, I lost my dad’s sister to ovarian cancer. Two weeks later in January 2014, we lost my dad’s brother to liver cancer. In September 2015, we lost my maternal grandmother on a Thursday morning and less than 48 hours later, on the same day as my grandmother’s funeral, we lost my mom’s youngest sister to a heart attack. This week, on January 20th we lost my paternal grandmother as well.

Two years ago, I didn’t know what it was like to grieve. I didn’t know what it was like to feel the pain of knowing that I wouldn’t be creating new memories with these special people in my life. Two years ago, I did not know what it meant to praise God in the midst of sorrow. And I certainly didn’t know what it would feel like to rely on God’s strength, rather than attempting to do it all myself.

During this season of loss and grief that my family and I have found ourselves in, there have been ten bible verses that I have found myself repeatedly coming back to and drawing strength and encouragement from. I pray that they might also bring some comfort and peace to you when you need it most.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end // Ecclesiastes 3:11

But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness // 2 Corinthians 12:9

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort // 2 Corinthians 1:5-7

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress // Psalm 59:16

My comfort in my suffering is this, your promise preserves my life // Psalm 119:50

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world // John 16:33

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. // Romans 8:26

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” // Psalm 91:2

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” // Isaiah 12:2

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffer produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” // Romans 5:3-5

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