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Byways to Courage

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Twenty-seven houses in 24 years was my calculation as I wrote a short summary of my life—an autobiography of sorts.

This realization left me feeling frustrated but also empowered. The girl with all of the instability in her life had turned out to be one strong woman. Although unsure of the roads it would lead her down, she was always up for a new adventure—whether it be a new city, new state, or new church.

I remember my first major move like it was yesterday.

It was third grade. As I sat in my bedroom packing belongings, scenarios played out in my mind as my imagination ran wild. Would my new peers cleverly ask me if it was possible to count all of my freckles? Would they make fun of the gap in my teeth? I wittingly came up with sarcastic comebacks and practiced cold glances.

It was a cold rainy Mississippi afternoon when the U-Haul truck backed into our driveway. As my mom loaded our possessions, I had more important things to do. It was Halloween night. With my trick or treating bag in tow, I had a few hours to conquer as much candy as I could by visiting our neighbor’s homes one final time.

The harsh rain began to pick up and it was time for us to leave.

While our destination was only a few hours away, the distance between who I was leaving and who I became as a result transcended any state line.

The first day at my new home mirrored the beginning stages of a science experiment. The young student in me attempted to gather information and study my new surroundings. What would impress the neighborhood kids the most? Determining that the answer was my big, black “jambox” and blue gymnastics mat, I quickly brought the items outside on our front lawn.

In order to achieve optimal observation, I bravely positioned myself to face the new homes surrounding me as I felt the warmth of the bright sun penetrating my freckled skin. “We Built This City” blared through the speakers. My imagination began to overshadow my insecurities as I carefully repeated the words, “This new city was indeed built for me.”

Fast forward 15 years and many moves later. This freckled young girl had begun to embrace who she was.

As I slipped each foot into my beautiful, white gown, my old self was slipping away. More than marrying my handsome groom, I was also marrying a calling that God had placed on our lives. This calling, we believed, was to introduce people to Christ and to shepherd them into who God called them to be.

Many months after we uttered the life changing promises that were our vows, we were given our first ministry opportunity. My husband, Brian, was offered the position of Lead Pastor at an inner city church plant.

Just like I had done so many times in the past, I began to spout off to God all of the reasons He had the wrong woman. To name a few, I was very strong willed, outspoken, and opinionated. My voice wasn’t soft, sweet, or submissive. It was deep and harsh. To top it off, I didn’t even play the piano! Just what could He be thinking?

Regardless of my struggle, this was a new and exciting time in our lives. All of our idealistic philosophies and late night dreaming were about to manifest into a reality.

Scripture about restoration, hope, and healing began resonating in my soul. Being the dreamer that I am, visions like scenes out of a movie, began reeling in my mind. The lame were walking, the deaf hearing, and the blind seeing, all while rejoicing and praising God.

As my convictions solidified, it was time to share my new revelations. Clutching my bible in one hand and all of my security in another, my feet began to make their way up the steps to the office of one of the integral leaders of the church plant.

The unassuming man invited me in. I introduced myself and took a seat. As my sweaty, shaking hands opened the Bible, my voice began to crack. With all passion and zeal, I nervously began to read a very long passage about God’s purposes for His church.

The man was willing to listen. With a thick Southern drawl, he thanked me and we prayed together. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine what he was thinking. But whatever it was I left an impact and, as a result, he later offered me my first vocational ministry position. I would be mentoring low income at risk children and their families. This ministry was a sister ministry to the church plant.

Walking into the building for training the first day was reminiscent of my childhood years. After a few glances and an awkward silence, I took my seat at the long, metal folding table. Sitting next to me were others who would later become my team members. This was an eclectic group ranging in age, race, and socioeconomic status.

Honing in on the scientist in me, I once again studied my surroundings. I noticed that graffiti was artistically placed on the walls. Bright colors of orange, red, and blue surrounded me. The words read: “When I need a Shelter, when I need a friend, I go to The Rock.”

Part of our “job” responsibilities included introducing kids in our individual groups to Christ. This was the umbrella for everything else we did—which included art, dance, boy and girl scouts, tutoring, computer training, and meal provision. At the end of the day, team members would huddle together to recall the day’s events. It was at one of these meetings that my idea of ministry would change forever.

With a huge smile on my face, words exuberantly began to flow out of my mouth, “We had three kids come to Christ!” Looking around my eyes were met with cold stares. There was once again an awkward silence and my smile quietly faded.

Walking out to my car was a lonely experience. Putting one foot in front of the other, insecurities began to overwhelm my thoughts. As the scene replayed in my mind, judgments began masquerading in the form of questions. What would cause them to not respond with excitement? Was I prideful in my proclamation? Did they not care about kids coming to know Christ? If not, why were they working here to begin with?

That day—and the unsupportiveness I felt from my team members throughout the summer—left a mark. Much like scars on my body, there was a tough exterior forming to cover the healing of a wound. Living out this calling of being in ministry was proving harder than I realized.

I found myself questioning: Is it probable that my bible had become my “jambox” and gymnastics mat? Were the words of “We Built This City” still playing on the recorder of my soul? Had I determined that it was my spirituality that would impress these new “neighborhood kids?” Although I had grown in stature, was I still using the problem solving skills of a third grader?

In the development of theories, questions are necessary. But once data has been gathered, it’s time for the experiment to take place. Since seeing my idea of ministry changed from that of an idealistic dreamer to a battered veteran, I’ve traveled many roads—some straight, some curvy, and some dead ends. The bumps have resembled doubt, fear, complacency, and apathy. And at some points, even despair. But I’m coming to see—as I move from the questions to letting the experiment happen—God will steer me in a new direction as I willingly let go of the old and anticipate the new.

And I eagerly anticipate chartering this new territory with Him.

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Karin Hume is a Mississippi girl healing from the wounds of life while hoping to inspire others to do the same. She lives with her visionary husband Brian, aspiring journalist, teenage son Tayler, and rockstar toddler Chase. When she isn't chauffeuring or potty training, she enjoys having coffee dates with friends, creating recipes out of whole foods, running, cycling, and Yoga. Writing is not only her passion but an outlet God has used to transform her life. She blogs at allpointswhole.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Byways to Courage

by Karin Hume time to read: 5 min
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