Steps to new beginnings

nye_2019Happy 2019! It is a brand new year! This year you can do anything or be anyone you want to be. If you are like me the year crept up on you. Have you made any New Year Resolutions? I have made many. If you haven’t there is still time, I know that it is the middle of January but you can always have dreams and goals that you want succeed in.

If you did, how it is going? Did you make it through the first hour, day, or week? Sometimes our goals are short lived, aren’t they? We have the best intentions. We tell ourselves we can do it. We are committed but when the day comes we fail miserably. Or sometimes we make it a few days, weeks, or months, but somewhere along the way we lose our momentum, and before we know it our progress and fall back into our bad habits. I know it happens to me.

heidi-sandstrom-259886-unsplashI think the problem we all have with having goals and dreams is they require more than positive thoughts and good intentions to complete them. They require action. They require tough choices, faith, determination, and endurance. They won’t come easy we have to work for them. In the end it will be worth it depending on how much we wanted it, and what we wanted for the outcome.

I was reading the Old Testament the other day about how God’s people had a huge goal that they had to accomplish. After they were driven from their homeland because of their friends’, parents’ and grandparents’ disobedience to God, they were free to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of God that had been destroyed.  They were committed to completing the task and had the resources to accomplish it. They successfully rebuilt the altar and set the foundation for the Temple just as they set out to do. But they weren’t finished. 

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Two things happened between them completing the foundation and reaching their ultimate goal: discouragement and fear. Some of those who remembered what the old temple had been like were disappointed and afraid that it couldn’t be as grand as the one that they once had, so they gave up trying or brought to much negativity to the project that caused others to lose heart. (I have been around people like that, especially at college. Have you?) Many also gave into their fear of their enemies who were threatening them and frustrating their plans, and fear for their own livelihood. They became concerned with meeting their own needs instead of trusting God to provide them the resources to finish their ultimate goal. 

“Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.” – Psalm 37:4 

One of the biggest obstacles I face is discouragement. If I let those people at school discourage me then I wouldn’t be able to finish my ultimate goal of working in the school systems interpreting for deaf children. I want to help them reach their full potential but I won’t be able to complete that if I let people that discourage me have power of me so I don’t let them. I let them motivate me to do better and study harder. When the results aren’t coming fast enough or if I make a mistake signing in class sometimes it can be easy to give up. Sometimes when others don’t understand what I’m doing or why I’m doing it their words can easily derail me if I chose to let it. It has the opposite effect on me, instead of having a negative affect on me it has a positive affect on me. It motivates me to do better and explain my ultimate goal.

templeAfter the progress stopped on the temple, God sent one of his messengers to speak to those who set the work aside. He encouraged them to keep going but he rebuked them from their fear and lack of obedience. They were reminded that they weren’t alone and that their work was important. He would be there with them, help them, and provide for them. There was still a lot to do, and it wasn’t going to be easy but with God’s help they knew they could complete their ultimate goal. They also knew that it wasn’t so much about accomplishing the goal but about what they were called to do. While I was reading I came across a verse that really stuck out to me and went along with this blog post. It is from Zechariah 4.

“Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” – Zechariah 4:6

We are all precious to God no matter what he has called us to do. Start with that belief that you are precious to him and see where it takes you. I know my ultimate BIG goal for 2019 is to let others see his light through my actions whether I am at home with my family or at work with my work family. I want them to Jesus through me. God can help me accomplish my dreams and that is amazing and that changes my perspective on everything. Often times when I try to accomplish things in my own strength, time, willpower, and resources it doesn’t work. I fail and fall short into discouragement and frustration.  When I live in his unfailing love, mercy, grace, and believe that I am precious to him the outcome changes. I succeed in my plans and people who try to distract me a discourage me don’t get to me. His unfailing love, mercy, and grace keeps me going. All those things keeps me on the path to high places with him.

step.jpgThis year I have decided that to complete my new year resolutions I need to focus on the next step. I have to realize that Goals and dreams take time to come together and that they don’t come together overnight, in a week or even in a month. If I expect it to come together in that amount of time then it will lead to frustration and discouragement. If I focus on each step I will be happier and will feel like I am accomplished even if I have a long way to go. For example one of my goals is to sign more everyday when my last semester of college starts so I will be ready for the final project. The first goal I will focus on is reviewing the signs that I am not familiar with and do not know that well. I can also ask God to help me stick with it.

What’s the next step to where God is leading you? Take the leap and let him guide you in this beautiful new year. That leap of faith can take you to places you never imagined to high places even. You just have to trust in God to take you there. Let him guide this new step to new beginnings. 

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” – Colossians 3:1

 

❤ Elena Grace

There is Always More

 

44435778_2001954873226305_3958156931310288896_n“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 

Recently my family went through a lot. About three months ago my grandmother lost her voice and she then had a CAT SCAN and it showed a mass in her throat.  From there it went down hill she was in Cabell Huntington and then the University Kentucky Hospital because they thought that they could remove the mass from her throat but they couldn’t so she ended up coming back here to a Hospice House and she was there for 2 days and she ended passing away.

When all of this started I thought ‘oh no it couldn’t get any worse” because I still had hope that she could make it through it and have a story to tell but she didn’t but I have my story of how I have grown in Christ and have realized there is ALWAYS MORE through Jesus Christ.  There is ALWAYS MORE to look forward to,MORE to be thankful for, MORE to give, MORE to learn, MORE blessings to receive, MORE growth in faith, MORE peace to experience, MORE wisdom to gain, and MORE reason to love.  Through God’s Love he helped me realize all this in a little time and I am truly grateful that he did.

When the doctors were sending my grandma to University of Kentucky my mom asked me if I could stay at their house and take care of their Dog Cody and I said ‘yes mom of course it helps me out with my homework and my online class since they have WiFi.” So to me it was a win-win I was helping them out all while being able to do my assignments without having to drive to the library to do them. So I moved into my grandparents house and it was my first time really living on my own and it really gave me of sense of what being an adult is like. During this time I read my Bible, prayed, worshiped 4 to 6 times a day because I knew if I didn’t I would have a breakdown. There was one evening that I was laying in my bed praying and crying during my prayer I got to the point where I couldn’t breathe because I was so worried and scared; my grandma that I lost was my best friend.

I talked to a lady at my church about how I was feeling and what I was going through because there were times that I felt like I HAD to be strong for my grandpa, mom, aunt, and dad, and brother. She said this to me ‘you don’t need to be strong for anyone don’t feel like you need to be. Your feelings are just as valid as your mom’s and grandpa’s.’ When Staci said this to me it really opened my eyes because it is true. I had no reason to feel like that I had to be strong for them. I just did and by feeling like that it put that much more stress on me. When this was going on I was living at their house, going to school, and working. So I was pretty stressed so once I accepted that I didn’t need to be strong for my family I felt a load come off my shoulders. Through all of this I was getting God winks left and right. My friends at school were always encouraging me and telling me that I could talk about anything with them.  So that was God showing me THERE IS ALWAYS MORE KINDNESS.

always mre 2

I knew during this time that I couldn’t lose my faith and how I trust in God. I went to Church one Sunday and when I walked in my pastor was surprised to see me and he asked me why I was there and I said This is the place I need to be right now.’ I needed to be there because I feel so much love and support at my church and being there really helped me even though I had tears running down my face pretty much the whole time.

When it was it was getting closer to the end of my grandmother’s life I came to understand that as MUCH as I want her to live and be here with us that God wants her to be with him in HEAVEN; that there is not a better place for her to be in. I have an angel watching over me always. As much as I will miss her and her hugs I am so thankful that she is with JESUS!

I came across Ephesians 3:20-21 during one of my many “quiet times” when all of this was going on. It was like God hit me in the head with a 2 by 4.  This is what it says:“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” As I read through this I realized that through Jesus Christ that we can do and have MORE! MORE JOY, MORE PEACE, MORE STRENGTH, MORE COMPASSION, MORE TO BE THANKFUL FOR, MORE TO GIVE, MORE TO LEARN, MORE BLESSINGS, MORE GROWTH IN FAITH, MORE WISDOM TO GAIN, AND MORE REASON TO LOVE THERE IS ALWAYS MORE THROUGH THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.

If we know Jesus and live a life for Jesus he will give you everything you need. He will make ME realize that even though my Grandmother passed away that there was ALWAYS MORE JOY, MORE PEACE, MORE STRENGTH, AND MORE FAITH AND ALWAYS MORE TO LOOK FORWARD TO. The morning that my grandmother passed away I was asleep and I got a phone call from my dad and he told me that she passed away. When I got off the phone with him I layed there frozen unsure what to do. I didn’t cry I was just frozen. It was like God let me accept that she was going to pass away before she did and that helped a lot. It also helped that I was able to read something I wrote for her at her funeral. 

Since then I have been on a youth trip and continuing to meditate in God’s Word, prayer and in worshiping in songs him and I feel closer to him than I ever have been before. He is helping me realize who he wants me to be through him. God has given MORE JOY, MORE PEACE, MORE STRENGTH, MORE COMPASSION, MORE TO BE THANKFUL FOR, MORE TO GIVE, MORE TO LEARN, MORE BLESSINGS, MORE GROWTH IN FAITH, MORE WISDOM TO GAIN, AND MORE REASON TO LOVE THERE IS ALWAYS MORE THROUGH THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.

As I bring this to a close remember that in every situation THERE IS ALWAYS MORE!!!MORE JOY, MORE PEACE, MORE STRENGTH, MORE COMPASSION, MORE TO BE THANKFUL FOR, MORE TO GIVE, MORE TO LEARN, MORE BLESSINGS, MORE GROWTH IN FAITH, MORE WISDOM TO GAIN, AND MORE REASON TO LOVE THERE IS ALWAYS MORE THROUGH THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.

 

always more

 

❤ Elena Grace

 

 

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Pure Gold

noah-silliman-107988“So be content with who you are and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you, he will promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God, for he is most careful with you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7

When you live your life for God and you want to serve him and bring him all the glory. You need to live carefree and not care about what others think about you because all that matters is what you are doing for the glory of God. You do not need to act a certain way to impress or make God see you. He already sees you! HE LOVES YOU! He wants you to live for him and be a disciple for him. He is walking beside you and has his hand on you and will GUIDE you always all you have to do is follow him and let him lead you and be in the “driver’s seat” of your car.

I chose this verse because it is so true. When you live your life for him and let him guide you he promote you at the right time. He has plans for everyone. We might not always understand or like his plans he has a plan for each and every one of you. He has a plan for me. I am living my life to the fullest because I am living for him and letting him guide me. Sometimes I might like what happens in my life and I might feel like it’s the end of the world but it’s not. He is teaching me through each experience I have whether it is good, bad, or sometimes ugly I learn through all of it. He puts me through a lot of things to make me stronger and to help me build my confidence and bring me out of my shell.

We all need to leave carefree because God is careful with us. When we live a carefree life we are more careful than if we do not live a carefree life. When we are carefree we are more likely to hear God’s voice than if we are focus on ourselves and making us happy. IF we focus on others and live a life for God he will bless us in more ways than we can count.  He will give us our hearts desires.

“Take Delight in the Lord and he will give you your hearts desires.” ~ Psalm 37:4

When we focus on living a life for God and are content with who we are in him he will bless us and listen to our hearts desires and give them to us. When we live like this we are pure Gold. We are radiating God’s light to others and sharing the Gospel with them.

Psalm 119105

❤ Elena

YOU ARE PURE GOLD

Live Abundantly.

blog background 16Recently, God has been teaching me about his love, grace, spirit, patience, trust, and most importantly his friendship.God loves everyone! We don’t have to buy his love. His love is already there. God shows his love for us because when we were all still sinners he sent Christ to die for us. God gives us a commandment to love one another and if we love one another then people will see God’s love through us. God’s love is steadfast and unchanging. His love comforts me and it is revealed to me through Christ Jesus. I believe to truly see and show real love to others that I need God’s love in my heart. I have to love him first before I can show him love. I strive to show people the never-ending love God has for us.  Through my experiences on the mission trip, at Flame On, and working as a camp counselor God has become my solid rock in this crazy life.

I got saved and baptized when I was seven years old but my true transformation began when I went on a mission trip to North Carolina three years ago. We led a Vacation Bible School at a local church and a beach ministry. Through fellowship with these children, God taught me patience and perseverance. During the VBS I met a first grader named Bethany. She had decided on the first day of the VBS that she was not going to have any fun.   I prayed every night that she would see God’s love. I worked with her and showed her God’s love her. By the end of VBS, she was helping us lead the movements in the songs. I learned that there is no limit to what God can do in me, for me, and through me.

New Years, I went to Flame On a youth conference in Arkansas. On the first night, the speaker spoke on living a life for God. While we were singing I asked God to take deeper me in his word and give me a deeper understanding. I expected to gain more head knowledge but I gained greater heart knowledge. He doesn’t just say “Believe in ME” and “Follow ME,” but shows me how in His Word (the Bible) and gives me the strength, reason and faith to do that. He has surrounded me with his unparalleled love. I learned that it is about believing and knowing He loves me. It is about trusting and following him, then letting him guide me. Since I learned that I felt so much closer to him than I ever did.

This summer, I worked as a camp counselor at a local summer camp. God became my solid rock as I was away from home for the first time. I realized that through prayer and Bible study I feel his holy spirit dwell in me. I learned that there is something to be learned in every situation. While I was away at camp my mom had to have emergency surgery and stay in the hospital. When one of the program staff came and told me that I needed to call my dad I was terrified. My first instinct was to think of all the bad things that could have happened. I didn’t stop and pray until the fourth day of camp. I let the news of my mom being in the hospital distract me from my work and my campers. After my head counselor came and talked to me, I realized that I needed to stop and pray. I prayed for my mom and that God would teach me through this situation and he did.  I learned that, when things get crazy, all I have to do is trust in him, pray and lean on Him.

God’s love for me is unstoppable. He has helped me see through all the experiences to find joy and happiness in every moment. I have learned to live more Biblically and cherish all that God has for me. I know that he’s the only one who knows the way to the high places; places I have never imagined. My life has radically been changed through the love of my God. I am living an enjoyable, satisfied life filled with many blessings. I am on the ride of a lifetime even with all the bumps, I will face them with the knowledge that I will walk every step with God right beside me and I know that he will help me face and overcome each challenge.

God loves each and every one of us. He is ready for you to come and seek him out, all you have to do is talk. He is there listening to you and waiting for you to come and ask him.

 

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” – 1 John 4:16

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8

 

❤ Elena

 

 

 

 

Anticipation \\ book review

Good Morning I write with great passion as I take part in a Book Review Blog Tour and write my first book review for my great friend Staci Thomas!

Staci has a B.A in Journalism from Penn State University, and has always enjoyed creative writing. It wasn’t until after heartbreak that she accepted God’s calling and began writing according to His Word. This is the first book that she has written but it is apart of a trilogy.


 

Anticipation Book
Click here to buy your copy on Amazon

Title:  Anticipation

Author: S.D Thomas

My Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

Cassie Smith wasn’t expecting to fall in love with her best friend, Mark Santos, or the emotional turmoil she encounters in the relationship. But, this newfound love has her questioning the only commitments she’s ever made: to God and to leaving her hometown. Will she change her mind and stay with Mark? Or will she risk everything she’s ever known and loved to continue with her original plan? FREE Bible Study Guide that corresponds with book is available via website http://www.sdthomas.net


Will she ever figure out what she wants I fell in love with this story from the very first page. It embodies the struggle that young christian couples face today. The story has every element a good story should have. It kept my attention from page one. I love how the story came together and I could see it in my mind as I read it. In Anticipation, Staci presents Biblical references, romance, well developed characters and plot line.

One of the elements I fell in love with was the character development. I quickly fell in love with the main characters (Cassie, Mark, Shelly, Eric, Jake, Cassie’s Parents, and Mark’s Parents). I thought that the characters were well development. The characters also learned lessons along the way. From the very first page I connected with Cassie and I felt what she was going through.  The roller coaster ride of emotion in your senior year is something I am very familiar with. As I just went through them myself. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until close to the end of the school year when I got my acceptance letter from the college I wanted to go to. Will Cassie figure out what she wants?

 

Anticipation 7Cassie has these plans to leave and go to the University of Georgia (UGA) after she graduates high school. In her mind she really wants to get out of her town but then she begins to think that that isn’t what she wants at all. She is just trying to figure out what she wants and make a decision on whether she should go after it with no regrets.

Mark says to Cassie in the book that their senior year can be great but Cassie thinks that the options of ‘great are limited within the confines of her town. Does she know what Great is? Will she find out what it is before she graduates? 

Anticipation 8

To decide what you want and then go after it without regrets… That is something vigorous that we all have to do sometimes and it can be challenging to let go of your plans and follow God’s plans. In the book when Cassie says this she is comparing her life to her best friend Shelly’s life and how Shelly went after the things she waned in her life. She just wants her senior year to end so she can get out of her town. Something happens that throws those plans upside down. Does she know what she wants? Will she let God guide her to where she is supposed to be?

 

Anticpation 9

One Friday evening Cassie and Mark decided that they didn’t want to go to the football game instead they wanted to hang out. Cassie tells Mark that she is jealous that he might be going back to the Philippines in August on a Mission Trip. When she says that he gets mad and tells her that he can’t talk to her about this and that he didn’t want to just be her friend.” What will happen since he doesn’t want to just be her friend?

Check out the book to find out how the story ends.

The most important thing that I loved about this book was how Staci incorporated Jesus into every page. It is rare to read a book today that has a biblical background. I was so glad when I found out this book had a Biblical background. Each chapter starts with a Bible Verse. It is so awesome to see how each Bible Verse comes to play in each chapter.


It is a beautiful story that show the struggles many young couples face today as they move into adulthood and how their faith impacts all their decisions. It shows how not to loose who you are as you fall in love with your best friend and in the process how to navigate and transition into adulthood. I absolutely love this book and I think you will too.  I highly recommend that you read this book if you are looking for a good Christian young adult book to read.  I hope that if you read this book that you will be touched by God’s unfailing love and grace.

 

Elena Grace

 

I hope you will check out Staci Thomas on these social media sites.

Staci’s Social Media

Instagram

Facebook

WEBSITE

Goodreads

 

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Trust in the Lord

 

“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Have you ever stopped and looked around you and given thanks to God for what he has blessed you with? I know for a fact that I sometimes fail at this, I get caught up in my own life, my school work, and things like applying for colleges and scholarships that I forget to take the time to give thanks to God for all that he has blessed me with.  God has blessed me with so much in my life; I have great parents, a great brother, an awesome and supportive youth group, and an fantastic and supportive pastor. Those are just a few things that I have been blessed  with in my  life.

One of my goals for this year is to give thanks to God through everything that I am going through and I can tell you that it is really hard but it is worth it because God has a great plan for me and all of the bumps,curves, and turns are part of his plan if I keep my eyes on him, keep him in the driver’s seat, and rely on his unconditional love he will show me his amazing and awesome plan for my life that I could have not imagined in my mind. This is the year for change and while I was at Flame on I made the commitment to God to be joyful in everything even the horrible and the sad things in my life. Having joy in everything I do has change my life so far for the better. My friends think I’m crazier now but it’s okay because the joy I have is from God

As we were on the road on the way to Flame On in Arkansas I thought a lot about this and being thankful. It seems like my life is flashing before my eyes and it keeps getting faster and faster. As a soon to be graduating senior in high school it is easy to “see” my life flashing before my eyes. I have been applying to colleges and scholarships and taking and retaking the ACT and SAT and it’s a lot. I have to remind myself to BREATHE and pray and give it to God sometimes when I am looking into colleges or working on my Portfolio, college stuff, and scholarships. As I am looking for a college to go to I don’t want it to be just my decision and where I want to go;  I want God to help me pick the right college.

I want God to lead me to the college that is perfect for me and that will fit me. I am constantly praying and asking him to give me the strength and patience to follow him and his plan for my life. It is very is to get distracted from following what and what God wants me to do when I graduate especially when my parents are breathing down my neck to just pick a college and a career. I sometimes wish that I could ‘just pick a college and a career’ but I can’t I find myself constantly praying and asking God for the right words to say to my parents when we talk about college. I constantly ask him for guidance in my life in what I’m supposed to do after I graduate because if I’m being completely honest I have no I idea what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go to college. The thought kinda frightens me.

As I kept praying about this and asking God to lead me to where he wanted me to go. I figured out that I could either start college right out of high school or apply for a six month school with a mission organization called Youth with a Mission. I don’t want to go off on a wrong path and not follow God. I could choose the safe option and start college right after I graduate or I could take a leap and follow God and let him take me to high places and apply for a six month mission school.  I don’t know which one I am going to choose but I am still praying about it.

I finally shared what I was thinking and still thinking with a friend and you want to know what she said?

God can use me wherever I am, whether it’s the “right” place or not.  When it comes to a decision like this, there is no right or wrong path with God. Where ever you land is where God will use you.

In the mist of all the craziness of being a senior I figured out something great. As I keep thinking about this it seems so self-explanatory. Of course God will use me wherever I am. Why didn’t I see that before? If we follow God and listen to him he will provide us with the answers to our crazy lives. If we trust in him and follow he will take us to high places.

Are you at a fork in the road wondering which path is the “right path” to choose? Take a leap and choose one there is no right or wrong path. God will use you where ever you land.

Follow him and let him take you to high places. No matter where you go God will use you. 

 “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” -Philippians 2:13

 

Trust in his ability to take you to high places and go for it! 

Elena

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” -Proverbs 3:5-6