There is Freedom

Hi there, friends! It’s hump day and I pray you’re having a great week thus far!

Hey, have you ever had a song that you just can’t get out of your head? You know, the one that’s playing in your head when you wake up, when you turn on the radio and there it is, or when you walk by someone in the grocery store and they are humming its melody. Or how about a verse or a word that has been following you everywhere you go? I mean everywhere. You’re driving along minding your own and there it is on a highway billboard. It happens to me often and I can’t help but smile from ear to ear because you know there’s something more to it than a song or a sign that just won’t go away. We need to lean in and listen.

There’s this song that has been following me around for a few weeks called “Freedom Reigns” by Jesus Culture. Everytime I hear that song, whether on Pandora, during a worship service, or while driving in a friend’s car, I can’t help but think it’s because the Lord is trying to get my attention.

I wanted to share some of the lyrics with you…

Where the spirit of the Lord is


If you’re tired and thirsty | if your burden’s heavy | if you’re hurt and broken  


Freedom reigns in this place | showers of mercy and grace | falling on every face 


I’ve chopped it up a bit, but do you see where this is going? Freedom is ours!

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

And take a listen to Galatians 5:1 which says, Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.


If He said it, we can sit easy knowing that it is true. All of it. There's no “what if” or “maybe” or “perhaps” or “I’m having a good day so it must be” type of truth. Read the scriptures, dissect each word and breathe it in so that it may live in you.

We don’t have to live with anxiety; we don’t have to fear the unknown; we don't have to feel small or doubt our worth; there is no reason for us to be jealous of what others have; and there’s no reason for us to feel inadequate or ill-equipped.

Our redeemer has broken the chains and has set us free. Shake them off and step right out of them. Pry them off if you have to. We are free from the things that have held us and tied us and left us bound and paralyzed.


If the enemy can stop you from walking out your front door, have you cower in fear or make you step back from an opportunity because you feel ill-equipped, he slows you down (or completely stops you) from doing the things the Lord has set out for you to do.

He’s fighting hard because he knows your worth. But...(and there's a big 'but' there)...he will not win!! Look him square in the eye and let him know he is not going to win this one. Or that one. 

I want to leave you with this scripture today. This one is going to get written up on a note card and placed on my office computer as a daily reminder.

Philippians 4:6-8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Let’s live free, my friend.

Until we meet again,

Nicole :)

Guest Blogger: Mary Hunt | God Doesn’t Want Me to Be Rich

I met Mary Hunt when I was single and in my early 20s. I was attracted to her wit, kindness and her straight-forward way. I sat quietly on the front row while she taught thousands of women in church after church how to be wise financial stewards. She was always good. Too good. You would leave her session holding onto your wallet with a staunch determination to spend less and save more.

Many of her lessons shaped my young, financial life.

Mary is an award winning author, syndicated columnist and motivational speaker. She's the founder of Debt-Proof Living, which is an organization that has been providing hope, help and solutions for over 20 years to individuals who are committed to debt-free living. She's shared her knowledge on Dr. Phil, Good Morning America, Dateline, The Oprah Winfrey Show. . .

. . .and now with us.

Today, enjoy Part 1 of her guest blog post. . .and then come on back next Friday for the rest!

Bless you today,


Mary Hunt

I was 11 years old the day I made myself a solemn promise. It wasn’t a passing fancy or silly notion. I recall everything about that day—from where I was right down to what I was wearing when I wrote my promise in my secret journal. My plan was to re-read it and re-promise it every day for the rest of my life so I wouldn’t forget.

“When I grow up, I am going to be rich.”

That was it. No logic, definition, timeframe or strategic plan. Just a nine-word promise that would go on to shape, drive and nearly ruin my life.

I survived adolescence by dreaming about how happy my life would be when I was rich. I hung onto the promise for dear life. I didn’t rebel; I didn’t run away from home or take up shoplifting. I waited patiently, until one fine day I did grow up and left home for college.

I didn’t find a pile of money waiting for me in my dorm room. But I wasn’t bummed out. Sure, I knew I was now fully “grown up.” But it would take a little more time to become fully rich.

In the interim I discovered that if I could spend money it felt as though I had money. I could do it because I had a checkbook. It worked reasonably well for a while and for the time until I find a rich husband.

I married a banker. There. That should do it, I thought to myself. And when it didn’t, I kept my husband but headed down a more reliable financial path. I began collecting credit cards. How carnal, you must be thinking. What kind of ignorance would it take for a person such as myself to add up all of the credit limits and think of that as additional income? What kind of person would trust consumer credit more than her husband? More than God?

It’s not that I wasn’t well immersed in spiritual things. I was a preacher’s kid. I knew tons of Scripture. I’d listened to so many sermons that I could rattle off all kinds of platitudes on matters of theology and stewardship. All of that paled by comparison to my desire for riches.


I got into a lot of trouble waiting for God to grant my wish to be rich. Yes, I said wish. I prayed as if to a fairy godmother. “Oh, puleeeese, pretty please! Make me rich. I waaaaaaant to be rich!”

Let me cut to the chase here and let you know this did not turn out well. While waiting for God to show up (oh, how I’ve come to loathe that cliché, suggesting that in some way He gets lost, or forgets to keep an eye on the clock, but now and then happens to “show up”), I did what I had to do. And in the fall of 1982 my world came crashing down. I fell on my face before God. I asked for forgiveness, which of course he always grants because he is a forgiving God and he knows our weakness.

That was a life changing, major turning point in my life. As God provided the opportunities, my husband and I began to come back from the pit of financial despair. Without filing for bankruptcy, slowly we began to repay a 6-figure pile of unsecured, credit-card debt. We started to give and to save, even though deeply in debt. It wasn’t easy but it became joyful. It took 13 years to repay the debt completely, but we did. Our marriage survived. And I still wanted to be rich.

My new determined path to riches was that I would make a deal with God. I would for sure, cross my heart, you can count on me--always give the Lord 10 percent. Always. I liked that formula. He gives me 100%, I give back 10%. And the more I do it, the better my chances that my 90% will grow. Bingo! That’s it! I knew the Christian-speak, too: You can’t out give God! You’ll do better on 90% than you could on 100% without God’s blessing you for tithing.

I had my eyes on a million bucks. Heck, yeah! Why not? That would be a hundred grand for him, nine-hundred grand for me. The more I gave back, the more I’d get. Not a problem.

But that was a problem.  It was still all about me. . .

We will end right here for now but be sure to join us next Friday for the conclusion of Mary Hunt's blog post!


1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19

Upon graduating from college, I learned a new word to put in the place of my discontentment. The word was "comfort". Isn't this what we all have the tendency to do - call our sins something else to justify them? For example, I've often said, "I don’t have to be rich I just want to be comfortable." But, I'm learning that it's in our most uncomfortable seasons that we truly see our Father's face.

If this world is not my home, why would I seek ultimate comfort HERE? It’s because so often I forget that simple fact I'm not home. It’s like a solider going to Iraq and deciding to purchase property and build a dream home. Ludacris. His goal for being overseas is not supposed to be comfort, it's combat.

We are never meant to be “comfortable” here. Sure, God graciously grants it to us as we go about life but it cannot be our ultimate goal. Every part of our existence finds its origination in Christ so it is not until we are actually home in heaven that our spirits will be at complete rest.

If I'm honest, often times I think that the Lord is here for my comfort, too. Like He's supposed to be at my beck and call like a cosmic bellboy. But the heart of the matter is that I am here for His glory alone. And because He loves me so relentlessly, He throws in blessings here and there. I'm grateful but I have to remember that, that is never supposed to be what life is about. We are here to make MUCH of his name, and because we are his, He will take care of us.

So, yes sometimes God give us things we don’t want or that He knows won't be the most comfortable because ultimately He knows it’s best for us. But sometimes, like a sick child refusing medicine that the parent forces on them, our tendency is to fight against His good gifts that don't come in the packaging we prefer.

But, our Heavenly Father knows the truth - if life were always simple and easy and emotions were always peachy, we would never seek him. But it is on our knees that we WALK in faith.

On Our Knees

The word "discontentment" strikes a cord with me because since college it has literally been a plague. Usually I write blog posts in 3rd person but not today. Not when talking about this topic. Discontentment is my issue. It has been the killer of all joy and the robber of all peace. It has, on occasion, snuck in and infested my entire being. But God has a way of revealing it. Each and every time I am struggling with anxiety, He shows me that discontentment is at the root. But the moment I remind myself that His plans are perfect and that His glory is in ultimate authority, peace comes and rests and surpasses my understanding.

If you are struggling with discontentment today, don't ignore it or re-label it. Face it head on in the power of God's Spirit by disciplining yourself to seek Him and by deliberately reminding yourself of your primary purpose - to live for Him.


Guest Blogger: Annie Downs | I Believe

I've only been in the presence of Annie Downs once. And that was all it took.

Spending just a few minutes with her is all you need to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are in the presence of a woman who embodies grace and Godliness. Annie is resolved. She's firm on her values, her purpose and her passionate faith. When she opens her mouth to speak, the overflow of her relationship with Jesus and heart for others is readily apparent.

And she's smart. Just downright wise.

She's an author, blogger and speaker who devotes most of her ministry to young women and college students. Her three books - Perfectly Unique, Speak Love and latest, Let's All Be Brave - need to be on your bookshelf!

Like, for real.

So glad she is with us today! You'll be blessed by her post!


Annie Downs

The United States Men’s National Soccer team has this chant that has really caught on in stadiums and on social media. It gives me goosebumps every time I hear it (which has been a lot recently, since this is the summer of the 2014 World Cup).

It starts with one fan yelling “I!” and the crowd echoes, “I!” Then the lead fan says, “I BELIEVE!” and the crowd echoes. “I BELIEVE THAT!” The crowd yells “I BELIEVE THAT!” The chant continues, as words are added, until drums are beating and the crowd is screaming “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” over and over and over again. (Watch it here when you have a chance - it’s amazing.)

Tim Howard, the US goalie and United States Men’s Soccer Team hero of this World Cup, tweeted the chant before each game.

Tim Howard Screen Capture


There’s just something about that, isn’t there? This whole crowd yelling together “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” I’m a sports-loving girl, so this is bound to move my guts, but even if you aren’t into soccer, it still does something in you, doesn’t it? When a crowd gets going like that, you can’t help but go, “you know what… I believe that WE WILL WIN!” and suddenly you’re screaming like America’s biggest soccer fan and actually believing that they will win.

And can you imagine how that feels for the players? Down there on the pitch (that’s what a soccer field is called, next time you want to impress a soccer fan), they are surrounded by the chanting of those who believe in them. Really believe that they can win.

That must make them feel brave - like taking that next shot, running a little faster, and giving just a little more to see and grab that victory that’s at hand.

Can you imagine if an entire wedding party began to chant “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” as the bride and groom recessed down the aisle?

Can you imagine if a family stood on the front porch as the college student drove away and “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” followed him down the driveway?

Can you imagine a young woman being prayed for at the altar and the entire congregation shouting “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” as the pastors intercede on her behalf?

We all want to be brave, but we can’t do it alone. I need you cheering for me as I attempt to live my life for Christ with courage. And I want to cheer for you. We should stand up for each other, stand beside each other, and believe in each other- that what God has started, He will finish. And that we were made on purpose and made to be brave.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Let us always remember that we are surrounded - by that great cloud, yes. But also by the ones still here, standing beside you, ready to cheer for you as you choose to war against fear and fight for freedom.

In the battle to be brave, I believe that we will win.


Annie's latest book Let's All Be Brave releases Tuesday, July 15. But click here to check out all these prizes you can get if you pre-order by Monday the 14th!

I'm Just Fine, Thank You

I’m fine.

Sometimes that is the easiest response to give. And the majority of the time, that response is hiding an ocean of hurt. Neglect. Abandonment. Guilt. Shame. Fear. Confusion. You name it.

Let's be honest. We’ve become good at hiding behind a smile, playing the martyr role and keeping it all together. We say everything is okay but what we are really saying is:

I'm Fine

When I saw that picture I felt a bit convicted.  I sometimes hide and carry my burden alone with an "I'm fine". You wonder that if people even knew what you were really struggling with or how you were really feeling, they would run for the hills. But the truth is, there are alot of us hurting in some way, shape, or form, carrying a burden too heavy for our frame. We have band-aid covered wounds tucked away in areas of our lives that, if mentioned, would bring up a world of hurt and endless tears.

So, “I’m fine” is how we respond simply because it's easier to deal with.

Well, you know that burden you’re carrying around right now?

The one that is the first thing on your mind when you wake up and the one responsible for your restless nights.

You know, the one that keeps you on the brink of tears and feels like a weight sitting so heavy on your chest that it's impossible to breath.

That one. Actually, the several that you may have gathered and are lugging around. . . All of those. 

You don’t have to carry them alone.

Let's read that again. You don't have to carry them alone. You don’t have to simply because our Father says so. 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) to, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  

Did you hear that?  He knows that we cannot carry the burdens of life on our own! He wants to come to our rescue, walk alongside us, relieve the load that is on our back, and carry us through to a victorious ending. If we run to Him with arms extended, take His yoke and learn from His ways, He promises there will be rest for our soul.  That means peace; that means freedom; that means endurance; and that also means. . .sleep! It's a deal too good to be true but He considers it a more than fair exchange! 

Now, once you’ve made that trade and you are covered in His peace, fight the temptation to take back that burden to carry alone. I’m the first to admit that I sometimes leave one hand (and a foot) on the problem. . .just in case the Lord needs me to 'take it from here'. That's right, me. But who am I really kidding? I've given my problem to the God of the universe.  The universe! Do I really think that the God of the universe. . .the God with a capital G. . .the one who breathes and galaxies appear. . .can’t handle the problems I'm facing?

Today, let's make a commitment together to take God at His word.  Let's take Matthew 11:28-30, engrave it on our hearts, and put it into practice this very moment.  Let's live with certainty knowing that God is in control of all things.  Even our big (small) things.

Let us rest in Him.

Until we meet again,


Food, Fireworks, and the 4th of July!

Today is a holiday here in the U.S.!  One of the things that come to mind when a holiday is upon us is gatherings with family and friends around food...and lots of it. And for this particular holiday - the 4th of July - we also have fireworks!  But let's not forget the food.  I don't want to veer too far from where my heart is right now. :)

If you're in need of a dish to whip up to bring to a gathering today, I have one for you!  It's called a "Flag Cake" or "Red, White, and Blue Cake". It's fairly simple to make and it's been my 'go-to' dish for this particular holiday.  It's festive, it's colorful, and it's yummy!  It's also my favorite because of the ingredients.  I love food (and cake is no exception) but I've been making a conscious effort to make better food choices and this cake has a little healthy twist to it.  There's fruit involved!

Flag Cake

Here's what you'll need:

1 package of chocolate, yellow or white boxed cake mix

1 container of cool whip* (defrosted)

I container of strawberries all sliced in half*

1 container of blueberries

*I buy two containers of each to avoid running out. You may end up with a few leftovers to snack on later.

What to do:

Bake the cake in a 9x13 pan according to the directions on the box.  Spread the cool whip (like it's icing) on to the cake once the cake has completely cooled. Once you've spread the cool whip on to the cake, line strawberries and blueberries to form a flag. 

And wa-la!  You've just created a very festive and Instagram worthy cake! 

What are some of your favorite recipes for this holiday?  Share them in the comments below.  I'm always looking for new recipes to try.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Nicole :)

Curly-Headed Girl

Hey there friend!

Hope you are having an amazing day!

I'm turning forty in 6 months. . .and I'm itching for a change. So, I've decided to do something different to my hair. Although I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do, I've been searching the Internet for photos and ideas to give me inspiration. Along the way, I remembered this old post and thought that it'd be fun to re-post it for all of you who may have missed it the first go around.







BE FOREWARNED! If you came to our blog today looking for something spiritually edifying or theologically profound please RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. Today, I'm just having some fun. . .and hope you will too!

I’m a curly-headed girl.

It’s a fact. Leave it be – straight after a wash in the shower – and it’ll puff into a life-size afro reminiscent of Fat Albert’s.

Funny how my hair has become one of my most distinguishing and recognizable characteristics. Sometimes people write or email our ministry – not to ask some deeply theologically probing question – but to dig into the annals of my mind. . .about hair.

Yup. You heard me right.

H. A. I. R.

Makes me question my effectiveness in ministry. I mean, how would you feel if you’d spent weeks prayerfully planning a message that you hope will bring healing and encouragement to the hearts and minds of your audience only to have a teary-eyed woman walk up to you at the end, dramatically dab her cheeks with tissue and say: I’m so moved. . .by your hair. How’d you make it do that anyhow?

(For all of you that have ever written or talked to me personally about hair, relax. I’m joking. I don’t mind at all. I like conversation – any kind will do.)

And honestly, it’s understandable that women would want to talk hair – even after I’ve spilled my guts teaching God’s word. Sometimes for us women, concentrating on how to bring our thoughts into captivity to Christ, walk in spiritual victory, hear the voice of God or prepare for spiritual warfare is so much more difficult when our hair doesn’t look right – or at least fairly decent. (Cause let’s be honest; God may look at the heart but other women are looking at our hair.) Having a “good hair day” makes us feel strangely. . .better. Our day can be going terribly wrong but if we happen to flip down our car visors and catch sight of a head full of glossy, perfectly coiled curls that all decided to cooperate and go in the right direction, it makes us smile - even though we lost our dog, just got fired from our job and got stood up on a blind date. Good hair is analogous to being happy, clearheaded and able to get on with the rest of our lives.

(I’m exaggerating. . .but only a little.)

I digress. . .

So, I’ve been a curly headed girl for as long as I can remember. Even after I put a permanent straightener in it at age thirteen, childhood photos still gave away my roots (pun intended). I was one of those little black girls whose mother put my hair into two, sometimes four, sometimes eight or sixteen plaits (can’t believe she did that to me) all over my head fastened by colorful little thinga -ma-jigs that had hard plastic knobs that looked like gumballs attached to the ends. (Those things should come with a warning sticker: Will smack young children in their eyes if they turn their head too quickly – especially if they have sixteen plaits. I’m just sayin.) Those braids were not only my trademark but the consistent feature you’d find on the head of most every girl where I grew up.


We had tightly, curled hair that would break a comb that didn’t have enough girth to it in one second flat. And this – this - is what you did with it: put it in plaits sorted by perfectly angled parts that looked like a road-map to Mars.

We hated it.

I think I can speak in sweeping generalizations when I use the word “we” (my slight and hesitant apologies to anyone who actually enjoyed this atrocity). By in large, we wanted our hair to be set free from captivity – like a Siberian Tiger who broke out of his cage at the San Francisco zoo several years back and scared the dickens out of the whole city. Yup, we wanted our hair to be that kind of loose – which might have been just as scary as the tiger except that we had visions of it cascading down our backs and being. . .straight. So, we straightened it. . .permanently. . .the very second we got old enough and our mothers said we could.

(Although I saw a girl not much older than three in a salon chair recently who, under the watchful eye of her mother, was getting her very first permanent straightener. THREE. I know, right?)

I stress permanently purposefully because we had temporary straightening options that we indulged in as often as we could. And we have the scars to prove it. Those hot combs smoked up our kitchens and sometimes seared the tip of our ears when the smoke got too close to actual skin. But it was worth it. . .cause our hair was straight!

. . .until it rained.

. . .or it was humid.

. . .or we sweated.

. . .or we swam.

. . .or we took a shower without our extra-large shower cap securely in place (Darn those few strands that always escaped out the back.)

So, when our mommas pressed our hair. . .we checked the weather report, refused to sweat, wouldn’t dare swim (even with a swim cap cause they weren’t ever cute enough) and we took a shower with extra care, making sure that the humidity had completely cleared out of the bathroom before we dared remove the plastic from our heads – which never seemed to happen soon enough. So, we’d start sweating because we were too hot from the plastic caps.

Temporary straightening was SOOO high maintenance. Geesh. But we did it. . for a while. Then, we were too tired – and too broke - to keep it up during college so we walked down the aisle and made a covenant with a creamy, white solution that made all our dreams come true.

At least during the honeymoon phase.

Then some of us found out we’d been hoodwinked, bamboozled, conned, misled, deceived (and any other synonyms you can think of right now. I’ve run out). We woke up one morning, looked in the mirror at our beloved and realized it’d fooled us. Our curls had been tamed yes, but, in some cases, it took our hair out– and I don’t mean “out on a date”. I mean it literally took whole globs of hair straight out of our scalps by the root. Damaged it beyond recognition.

Which is why after more than a decade of permanently straightened hair, I let it grow back to its naturally curly beginnings. I had qualms about it. Visions and nightmares of those bubble-gum, plastic barette thingies hitting me in the face again. But I did it anyway in search of my hair’s original health.

I assumed that I’d hate the texture as much as I did when I was a little girl. But as my hair grew I was so surprised to find that now, as an adult, I enjoyed and loved every single curl. They became my own. It’s been 12 years of heavenly matrimony between me and my natural hair and our relationship is working out nicely.

Every now and then, just for fun, I straighten it – temporarily – with a flat-iron or pressing comb (and I’ve learned how to hold the tips of my ears down to avoid any first-degree burns. It’s much nicer that way). Don’t do it often but it’s fun to shake things up a bit.

Had it done this week in fact. And I’ve enjoyed it.


But. . .Wait For It. . .I miss my curls.

Can you believe it? I can’t. Never thought I’d say that. . .but it’s so true. I will enjoy some time wearing my straight new-do but I’m already excited about going back to my huge, curly afro that my friend Shawna says makes me look like a lion about to attack.

(She normally sits a few rows behind me at church and sometimes texts me messages DURING THE SERMON like: I wish I could see the pastor but I can’t because you’re hair is in the way. ROAR!)

(I’d be offended. . .if it weren’t so stinkin’ funny – especially with the pastor preaching and all. So, I laugh in a nice “don’t-disturb-your-neighbor-cause-we’re-in-church kind of way and then I don’t text her back. . .because good Christians don’t text in church.)

(But sometimes I do tweet in church, or instagram. . .or. . .well, never mind.)

Looking forward to having my curls back in a few days because. . they are mine. I’m sure the first good rain is going to take care of that. Or I’ll just stand in the bathroom while one of my sons is taking their shower. (They’ll just love that.)

So glad that God has made me ok. . .with me. . .just the way I am. Head full of curls and all.

Have a good day my friend!


Guest Blogger: Lauren Chandler | X-Ray Vision

The first time I met Lauren Chandler I cried. Like, for real. I just burst into a torrent of tears right in front of her.

She and her husband were kind - didn't look at me too strangely and at least acted like they didn't think I was a weirdo.

I was grateful.

Their family had just been through a series of sudden health scares that shook them to the core. I'd sat along the sidelines of their life watching and praying and thanking God for this couple I only new from afar. I'd thought about how this wife and mom of three young children was coping with her new reality and the bleak "what if's" that lurked in the future. Was she anxious? Sad? Overwhelmed? Frustrated?

When I met her, she smiled a joyous, Spirit-infused grin that bubbled over with peace and calm. She took me in a warm hug and then asked about me. She. . . asked about me. In the midst of all that was happening with her and her loved ones, she was thinking . . .of me.

So, I welled up and cried because this woman was showing me what it really means to trust in Jesus.

Lauren Chandler is a worshipper, songwriter, speaker. Her album, The Narrow Place, was released in 2012 and is available through iTunes. She believes every word she is singing and teaching and impacts others even when there is not a spotlight or stage - even if it's just through her hug and warm smile.

I'm grateful for Lauren and you will be, too.



Lauren Chandler

“Just walk it off; you’ll be fine.”

These words were not what I was hoping to hear from my dad, but apparently it’s his job to say it. The pain was still pulsing from the collision of soccer cleat and unguarded shin. It was a quick pick-up game after practice and my lower leg lost. I limped along to the sideline hoping for some compassion and got minimizing instead.

Months later (yes, months), the calcific knot that formed at impact did not dissolve as hoped. So we finally went to the doctor. He pressed the x-ray film against the screen.

“Yep. It’s broken. A hairline fracture clear through. The good news is it healed perfectly in place. There’s not much left to do.”

I’m grateful my leg didn’t heal at an awkward angle that made walking in wedges more comical than it already is. At times like these it would have been convenient to have x-ray vision. I knew something wasn’t right but I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t get past flesh and blood to lay eyes on the problem.

God isn’t confined to human sight. He has x-ray vision, but not like Superman’s or the kind I could have used that day on the soccer field. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that “no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” This is a terrifying thought if we don’t know Christ. But if we know Christ, we know God’s character because Christ is “the exact imprint of  His nature (Hebrews 1:3).” And what is Christ like? He willingly laid his perfect, sinless life down for His imperfect, sinful friends (myself included).

He is justice and mercy. He is good.


Since He is good, He is trustworthy even in His all-knowingness, and because of it, He can use his x-ray vision to see what’s broken inside of us. He is like a careful surgeon studying the film before He picks up the scalpel. His scalpel? In verse 12 He tells us that His word “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” He’s not the butcher that divides the flesh to consume it; He’s the surgeon who can identify with the patient (because of His son Jesus, our sympathetic high priest mentioned in verse 15) and slice into soul and spirit to save and heal.

Being exposed is humiliating if it’s exposure for exposure’s sake. In Christ, the exposure of the sin that still makes us sick or the wounds that warp us, is for our sake and the good of our souls. May we be willing to submit ourselves to the x-ray vision of God and the healing scalpel of His word.


Taking God at His Word

I still consider myself fairly new here at Going Beyond.  It's been over 5 months but I'm still making my way through new territory while each day gaining familiarity.

Several days ago I found myself browsing through past blogs from the women that have left their footprints on this ministry. Readers that have been a part of the Going Beyond sisterhood for a while will remember Linnae, Annetta, and Antrenette, who all frequently blogged alongside our fearless leader, Priscilla.  I so enjoyed reading their stories as they laid their hearts bare.  Some posts made me laugh, others a little emotional (I won't say if tissues were involved), but through their transparency I felt encouraged to reflect inward and dig deeper in my walk with Christ.

What I love about the word of God is that it is just as relevant today as it was last month, last year, or as far back as you'd like to take it. The Going Beyond team before Michone' and I had so much to share. And today, I'm excited to share a past blog that I pray will encourage you during your current season of life.  

Do yourself a favor and get comfortable, grab your favorite hot drink (or cold drink nowadays!) and enjoy!

Nicole :)

Bible on Picnic Table

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God”. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Recently the Lord has really cemented this verse into the depths of my heart. No matter what situation I face He continues to bring me right back to this Scripture....over and over again. I didn’t really understand why at first, but He later revealed areas in my life where I was not fully trusting Him. Doubt and fear were overshadowing my faith and I didn’t even realize it. It was affecting my prayers, my worship and most of all, my relationship with the Lord and He was using this verse to get my attention.

One thing He showed me is that I needed to start wholeheartedly believing that His word is true. I would say in one breath that I trust God, but then I would find myself secretly worrying about the situation. My Pastor says it perfectly. He says that it’s not enough to simply believe in God, but we as followers of Christ need to start believing God. Believing that each and every promise He has made in Scripture is available to us.

He also showed me that He is completely incapable of breaking His promises. If we ask God if His promises in Scripture apply to us, His response is going to ALWAYS be, “Yes”!

Lord, if I delight myself in you, will you give me the desires of my heart? His response will always be, Yes. Psalm 37:4

Lord, I am brokenhearted. Can I trust that you will be near to me? His response will always be, Yes.

Psalms 34:18. Lord, if I seek you with my whole heart, will I be able to find you? His response will always be, Yes. Jeremiah 29:13

Lord, I am weary and burdened, will I ever be able to find rest? His response will always be, Yes. Matthew 11:28-29

Lord, financially I am in a tight spot and I don’t know what to do. Can I trust you to meet all of my needs. His response will always be, Yes. Philippians 4:19.

Sometimes it’s so easy to believe God’s Word for somebody else and to stand in agreement that the promises of God are going to be manifested in their life, but when it comes to our own personal situations we quickly embrace fear and doubt.

My friend, God’s promises apply to you and to me! No matter what our past has been or the mistakes we’ve made, His promises are true and can be fully experienced in our lives. Will you join me in taking God at His Word?

Praying for you,


Guest Blogger: Michelle McKinney Hammond | To Marry or Not to Marry?

I was 24 years old, in a Chicago hotel and battling a fierce bout of writer’s block. The cursor on my computer screen blinked mercilessly, each flash taunting my lack of creativity.

Then the phone rang. . . and it was Michelle McKinney Hammond.

She invited me over to her downtown apartment (she’s since moved to Ghana, Africa) for a writing party. I wasn’t sure what that was actually. Nothing about “writing” matched up with “party” to me but it seem to hold more promise than anything I had going on.

And with Michelle, everything’s a party.

For several hours we sat in her office in our socks and comfy leggings with our laptops on our knees. She was writing another fantastic book for single women and I, at the time, was single.

We bounced ideas off of each other and wrote relentlessly for hours on end. She gave me a few of her creative ideas and my writer’s block got. . .well. . .unblocked. Cork unscrewed. Just like that.

That’s what happens when you are around Michelle – you are inspired to action in some area of your life. Michelle is the author of over 40 different books. She is also a speaker and singer who travels the world with messages that motivate everyone and anyone – but especially the single woman. Listen to me, if you are single run to the store (or to Amazon) and get Sassy, Single and Satisfied, What to Do Until Love Finds You or any of her other amazing offerings. You’ll be so glad you did!

So glad to introduce you to my friend Michelle today. Enjoy every single world of her fantastic blog!

You are fiercely loved!



I have to admit, the first half of my life marriage was on my goal list. Probably more because I thought it was supposed to be than anything else. Yes there was a real desire there for marriage but for all the wrong reasons. The external pressure became greater than my internal desire for marriage. As I grew to embrace my single status, my purpose, pursuing my destiny, and a deeper intimacy with Christ, marriage fell off my goal list and I realized that it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be married… I wanted to be married to the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. At the time I had not met that person. This is when I realized that the end goal should not be just getting married. The end goal should be spending your life with someone that you met who is so wonderful you no longer want to live apart from them. When no one like that is in sight I find that marriage is not on my list of things to do. There is no inspiration for it. I do not want to marry a dream or an oasis. I want to marry a real live man who adds to my world, who challenges me to be a better me, who takes me to a whole new level of understanding the love of God.


I believe it is important to understand the purpose of marriage through God’s eyes in order to put marriage in perspective. Marriage is more about God’s will and kingdom agenda than about our personal desires. God wants to put together power couples that reflect what the kingdom of God looks like and how it works. The intimacy, children, joy and validation we get are all extra perks, company benefits I will say, but they are not the purpose of marriage. With this in mind, those of us who are single need to live each day with great purpose– the goal of becoming the best we can be. Whole, thriving and joyful! Have something to bring to the party called marriage should you reach the altar. The more fulfilled you are as a single the greater your power to choose the right mate. Desperation will never have the advantage of deceiving you to settle for less that the best God has for you. The richer your life as a single person the greater your life will be as a married person. The more fulfilled you are as a single person, the least likely you will be to walk into marriage with unrealistic expectations that threaten to rob your joy and ruin your marriage. Should marriage be a goal? I think not. The goal is being where God wants you to be at any given moment, because that is the best place to be. In His presence is fullness of joy.

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