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Grace for the Good Girl: A Review

My friend Emily would call me a “recovering good girl.” Actually, she did call me that in her new book, “Grace for the Good Girl.”

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I am a good girl gone bad.

My friend Emily would call me a “recovering good girl.” Actually, she did call me that in her new book, Grace for the Good Girl.

Emily Freeman and I met online in 2009, and we were instantly drawn to one another through the similarities of God’s grace-work in our lives. We were both girls who grew up without dramatic salvation testimonies, and we were both learning the truth that “good girls” weren’t so good as we had tried to be all our lives.

I’m a girl who knows all the right things to do and the right ways to act and exactly how to keep all my plates spinning all the time so I look like I’m doing everything right. I consider myself a “good girl gone bad” because I simply don’t do it anymore.

Before Emily wrote her book and asked me to share my story with her, I had walked out on what she terms the “try-hard life” into the nebulous, seemingly unproven idea that grace was more than “the power to do what is right.” I recognized a huge gap between “yielding” and “doing” and I quit trying to “do the right thing” and started learning how to yield myself as an instrument of righteousness unto God.

In the following years, God blew my idea of grace wide open, transforming my perspective on sanctification, retooling my view of myself, re-explaining grace in the context of Spirit-work and not in terms of “don’t you dare sin and take advantage of this grace.” He taught me how the sin that separates happens in the heart before it ever makes it into the actions, how wearing masks in order to be good was not the same as clothing myself in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

For a long time, I felt alone as I quietly — or not-so-quietly — figured things out. I walked out on faith, hoping God would confirm what He was teaching me in the lives of others. But the culture I was in and the people who surrounded me unconsciously lived “Christ-plus” lives, accepting the Cross as the understood and getting to work proving their spirituality.

Emily’s book is the most refreshing read I’ve had in a very, very long time. And I don’t mean refreshing in “oh this is so new to me — amazing.” I mean refreshing in the way that one is refreshed with a place to rest after a long, difficult journey. I mean refreshing in the “sit down in my living room and let’s talk about God together” sort of way. I mean refreshing in that I felt like my soul was breathing new air as I read what she wrote about her life (not so different from mine) and her walk with God.

Like Emily identified herself in her book, I was the responsible one; I knew that I put on masks to live my life every day. I have been – still am – the older brother Emily describes in her book, looking in at the Father celebrating the prodigal son, not always remembering that what I have is relationship with Him, whether I am good or bad.

Emily writes as a friend to her readers — she always has at her blog — and I closed her book feeling that I was no longer alone on my journey into grace. Her very personal voice – her book is almost a journal in places – fosters an intimacy that invites her readers into relationship with her and with the God who gave her grace.

If you’re a good girl, or a good girl gone bad, or even a bad girl ashamed with herself for not being good, this book is for you. It is mostly about redemption and all about grace, and the to-do lists for fixing yourself are conspicuously absent from Emily’s writing. Emily writes with love for her God and love for her readers splayed over every page.

I thought I had a boring testimony because I’d never gone through a rebellious stage, but God knew better. Grace isn’t just for the prodigal son. It is also for the one who keeps the rules.

The Gospel is not so much about overcoming sin as it is about sin that Christ overcame. Emily’s grasp of this truth makes Grace for the Good Girl one of the most freeing books I’ve ever read.

Grace for the Good Girl Giveaway Winner

grace-for-good-girl-2Thank you to everyone who entered for a chance to win a copy of Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl and Kelly Sauer’s 8×12 fine art print of this photo, “Grace.” We chose our winner, Amanda, using the Random.org’s Integer Generator. Congratulations Amanda! Please email your snail-mail info to [email protected] Everyone else, stay tuned for our next giveaway.

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Kelly Sauer is a writer, wedding photographer, restless heart, wife, and mama to two. She makes fine art out of real life, revealing beauty where it wasn't. She shares her art and her real life at www.kellysauer.com. You can find her on Twitter as @kellysauer.

36 Comments
  • Erin

    I’ve had a rough year. I lost my job in August and I am starting to wonder if I will ever find another one. I try to seek God to find His plan for me, but I worry that I have let Him down too much for Him to help me. I would really love to read this!

  • Erin
  • In the last couple of years, I’ve learned that even the “good girls” with “boring” testimonies (like me) will have dark valleys. And now I’m learning how to show others the same grace that God and others have shown to me.
    I’ve seen and read quite a bit about this book and would love to read it.

  • Elisha

    My story I guess is simple, I was saved at five and have always been the “good girl.” The first time I knew I sinned after getting saved I asked God back into my heart. I didn’t understand that he would keep me. My childhood was spent on a swing making up songs to God. I loved Him.

    Then I went through depression in my teen years. My hormones went crazy, but I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through because I was the “good girl.”

    Then for years I grew with God, and just enjoyed Him. His grace always felt near. This last year knocked me off my feet, and not in a good way. I’m finding it harder to feel God’s grace in the midst of everything. I feel like just when I start healing, BAM, more heartache.

    God is growing me. I’ve never been so loving before. I don’t hold people to invisible rules anymore. The unseen and unsaid good girl feels abandoned, and that it is my fault. I did recently ask God if there was grace for me…and I guess He has a sense of humor.

  • I grew up in a Christian home, was saved at the end of second grade, and regularly attended church activities. I always thought my life was a bore and not as important because I did not have a “radical life-saving” testimony. Not until later, a co-worker reminded me that God did radically save my life. . . He spared me from the pressures of the “in-crowd” by protecting me with a godly family. My mom always called my sister and I her, Jesus Girls. That title I gladly wear, but I still cannot fathom His grace and mercy for me.

  • I just tweeted!

  • I am anxious to read this book…I know that I will be able to relate to it very well. I am the first born good girl in my family. I always felt like I had to mediate and help my parents, help my brother and never had ‘big’ noticeable sins to anyone. :) The past few years God has shown me how I am in need of His grace just as much as others. can’t wait to read this!!

  • I was the oldest daughter who kept things running at home when my dad gained custody of us after a divorce when I was 5. I got good grades, didn’t party, and didn’t…well, that was my life, “I didn’t ______.” Over the years I have found God calling me to work in encouraging women. While so many want their daughters to have a childhood like mine, they feel they can’t relate to me because I didn’t ______ like they did. I think reading this would help me articulate to these women how I need God’s grace the same as they do.

  • I can relate to not having a “dramatic salvation story”. And because of that, I’ve never felt like my story was worth sharing. I have always been a good girl, afraid to step out of line in any way. I guess I was afraid it would make me less deserving of God’s grace. But I’ve been learning over the past year, that maybe that’s not true after all.
    I’ve flipped through Emily’s book in the bookstore and would love to read the entire thing!

  • Laura

    I am a stereotypical good girl. I’ve never had a big rebellion against God, always done exactly what was expected of me, to outsiders I’ve always seemed like the typical Christian good girl. And as you say, in some ways this makes me feel like it’s harder to connect to God, like my story is less worth telling. So I really feel like this book would be a good read – and I’m going to add it to my reading list anyway!

  • LeeBird

    I stopped pretending to have all the answers. I stopped believing that I had to be perfect because I’d make God look bad if I showed the real me inside…the screwed up hot mess. It was exhausting to live that way for close to 40 yrs. I’ve been learning to be real for about four years now. I’m starting to get the hang of it. :)

  • I am a good girl – never rocked the boat, followed the rules and was saved when I was in 3rd grade. I never had that “light pouring down from heaven” salvation moment. God has always been quietly present just as He has been for me. I’ve heard such fabulous things about this book and would love to read it.

  • I was saved at a young age, and by God’s grace was spared from a lifetime of rebellion. However, I can see the “good girl” tendencies in my life. Growing up in church and in a Christian home I learned to play the good girl. Sometimes I did the right thing because it was right, other times because it was expected of me, and other times I did the right thing only because of the “rules” of southern culture. I would love to have the opportunity to read this book by Emily.

  • I have always been a perfectionist, trying to earn my way into peope’s hearts. God’s grace is such a difficult concept to grasp. I want so much to be good enough even though He says I don’t have to be anything except willing to accept His gift.
    I realized just how hard I try to earn His favor several years ago. My nine year old daughter passed away from an illness and it was so hard not to believe I had done something to anger God. I spent so much time trying to figure out what I had done wrong to deserve such punishment. Most of the time I am able to keep these thoughts away and rest in His comfort but there are still many dark days.
    Trying to be good enough is so exhausting. It is good to know I am not alone.

  • Kristin Etem

    I actually was going to see if our library had this book so I could request it. I’ve been on a reading rampage the past 3 years since I started homeschooling my oldest. Never really knew I was reader, but something with homeschooling has brought it out in me. My first year my motto/mantra was to allow myself grace, grace for each day b/c I had been told if would have it’s ups and downs,challenges, and frustrations. I think my husband and friends would label me a “good girl”, I can’t tell a lie w/o it being completely obvious and except for the few years in college that I partied I also stayed pretty true to my beliefs, faith, and trying to honor the Lord and my parents. I would love to win it!

  • My testimony has a prodigal daughter ring to it. Repeatedly. Always, was the Lord there to welcome me home. Each time I have pulled away in 37 years. I am so grateful for His love and Grace and Mercy.

  • Tweeted about this article. Here is the URL: http://twitter.com/#!/frugalandfree/status/154010395378597888 Thank you. :-)

  • Melissa

    I’m a typical good girl. Grew up an over-achiever and was the one my brothers made fun of because I “liked church.” It was my parents divorce that pulled the rug out from under me and showed me I was relying on my own merits instead of God’s unfailing love. My faith grew tremendously and I began to believe I had a story even though I didn’t have a seemingly dramatic story of redemption. But I began to tell that story. the story that is a story of redemption–they all are, even for us good girls ;)

    But! I actually already read this wonderful book before passing it on to a friend who needed it too. I really hope to win one so that I can sneak some wisdom from it, and then pass it on again!

  • Laurie Rolfe

    I find myself intrigued to read more about the difference between “yielding and doing.” As a busy Mom of 7 and a pastor’s wife, something about that line caught my eye and refreshed me just in reading it. I think it’s because the older I get, the more I need that quiet place of yielding to the Lord or my efforts are just “wheels spinning.” I’d love to read this book.

  • Reading this post made me feel as though his book were speaking directly to me. I was raised in church, am married to a preacher, and try my hardest to do everything “right.” I could certainly use a grace reminder.

  • Such a great review of Grace for the Good Girl. I too, could relate in many ways as I have the tendency to be more of the older brother- the rule follower, at time judgmental, critical, etc. I have learned a lot about grace and have much to learn still.

    I pray this book will be used to touch a lot of people as I have no doubt it will.

  • Amanda

    I’m pretty sure I would be “the bad girl who tries to be good, but can’t seem to break these chains.” My resolution this year is to break these chains!

  • I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the little promo video for it. My husband was peeking over my shoulder while I was watching it and immediately told me that I’m a recovering “good girl.”

  • I sent out a tweet (from @cttRachel).

  • Sadye

    The idea of grace is conceptually alluring but practically illusive…I would love to hear how the gap can be been brought closer for each of us.

  • Justine

    What a genuine, refreshing thought – grace for the good girl. Similar to the author, I, too, struggle with understanding how my story of faith is worth hearing. Growing up in the church has been a blessing, for sure, but I often wonder how my story can impact the lives of others. I believe this book could be a tool that God could use to help me understand His grace in my life.

  • This book has been on my to read/get list for some time. I think I am caught between good and good gone bad but either way the grace is for all and learning to live in the grace is my challenge.

  • Shannon

    I would like a copy of this book in order to hear about a fellow good girl’s grace experience. Thank you.

  • Lisa B

    I have definitely been “the good girl” all my life – and I’ve always felt that my testimony is uninteresting because there was no dramatic reversal from an outwardly sinful life to an outwardly godly life. Now that I’m an adult, I see that struggles with sin in my heart can be as hard to overcome as sinful actions, and that serving God is not just about the things I don’t do, but the things that I should do as well. I would love to read this book and be reminded that God’s grace is for everyone.

  • Amy

    2 Corinthians 12:9 has been one of my mainstay verses recently. We talk about powerful life-changing testimonies and often are in awe of how others with more visibly broken pasts come to the Lord. But there is still insidiousness in quieter lives of trying to earn a sense of worth through works and living with the label of grace over us that doesn’t permeate our heart and being. I would love this book to read, and would then hope to mention it on my blog to other readers. x

  • Jennifer

    This books sounds really good. I grew up as a pastor’s daughter in Germany and then as an MK in Africa. I was pretty sheltered, though that never bothered me. There were times when I wish my testimony was more juicy, but I am now so thankful of all the things that God protected me from.
    Having children has really humbled me because it has shown me all of my “secret” sins. I never knew how impatient and selfish I could be until I had my kids. At the same time God is using them to grow me.

  • Jennifer

    I tweeted it :)

  • I relate with this quote below. At the back of my mind, I am amazed how it is easier to obey God when it is done in his strength and not me trying to live it out and not take grace for granted. It is a part of my journey I AM SO THANKFUL FOR.

    “In the following years, God blew my idea of grace wide open, transforming my perspective on sanctification, retooling my view of myself, re-explaining grace in the context of Spirit-work and not in terms of “don’t you dare sin and take advantage of this grace.”

  • I tweeted!:)

  • LoriM

    Another MK good girl here – and I’m 52….my story is much too boring to share….but I totally relate to all you gals are saying. I’m learning about grace, too, for all my hidden sins…. Will wish list this book in case I don’t win it….

Articles

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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Articles

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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Articles

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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Grace for the Good Girl: A Review

by Kelly Sauer time to read: 3 min
36