how He loves us

how He loves us

My cousins and I have filled in at our church with the Youth Group for the last four months. Our Youth ministers resigned on New Years’ Day of this year and we stepped in, a little blindly.

We had all three volunteered and served with our students previously. Jared taught Sunday School, Jamie is the Pastoral intern, and I served often to help Chris and Carrie. But we had no idea what it meant, especially me, to really step into that role.

I’ve told everyone who has asked about it the last few months, that it’s been one of the greatest blessings. I’ve been stressed and pulled in different ways. I’ve been busier than normal. I’ve cried. I’ve felt unworthy of this task. But seeing these students enjoy church? Building relationships with these kids? Seeing them grow in their walk with the Lord? It’s priceless. I never knew I could feel such joy, such pride, such thankfulness for them. I wouldn’t trade any of it for any thing.

Tonight in our youth service, Tyler, Anna, and Jared led us in the song “How He Loves.” I’ve heard this song a lot: in college, on the radio, and at church. Tonight, as our time stepping in gets closer to an end, it was special. The love that I’ve developed for these kids, for these students, is nothing compared to the love that the Lord has for me, for them, for everyone.

Think about it: the same God that created every thing in the world, created you. The all powerful, all knowing, all present Lord created you, loves you, and wants to know you. The love He has for us is bigger than the sky, more than we could imagine, and is our saving grace!

The song goes “He is jealous for me; loves like a hurricane, I am a tree. Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” His love is powerful. We are weightless compared to this great love that He offers us. I was reminded tonight that the love I have for these students and the prayer I have for them to know Jesus and to live for Him, is so minute compared to the love and prayer that Jesus has for all of us to know Him. It’s incredible and so humbling to think about. How faithful is the Lord to give me this reminder tonight! He knows exactly what His children need and when they need it. I needed His whisper of grace tonight.

Friends- the Lord loves you. His prayer is that we know Him and accept His gift of salvation. Think of who or what you love most in this world. The Lord’s love for us is incomparable to that, infinitely greater. Jesus has paid it all. All we have to do is accept His love and gift of salvation. Let His love be apparent in your life.

 

Until next time,
S

April 17th – One year ago

You’ll notice that I write a lot about my family. It’s because for my entire life, we have been weirdly close. I mean that in a way that I’ve met few people who is as close to their extended families as we are.

As a kid, instead of going to daycare, my Granny and Papa watched my sister, cousins Jared & Jamie, and myself. Every day. We also went to the same church so we saw each other six days a week. We spent 40+ hours together a week, if you wanna throw some math in there.

For every birthday, anniversary, holiday, we were at my Granny & Papa’s house. She would fix dinner, all by herself, for 13 people. As the grandkids got older and started dating, the 13 turned into 14, 15, 16. Then our oldest cousin had 3 kids and it upped the number even more. What I’m getting at here is this: my family is number one, behind God, and my Granny & Poppy the backbone of it.group family

One year ago, today, my parents & I were getting ready for church. It was a Sunday morning, Granny had been home from the rehab center for a couple of weeks and doing very well on the road to recovery for her femur break. Pop had called my Mom around 7AM, Granny wasn’t feeling well and needed help to get to the bathroom. So Mom and Dad went and helped (we live literally right next door), Granny was nauseated so she went back to sleep. As we were walking out the door for church at 9:45, Pop called. He said their nurse told him to call an ambulance and go to the hospital. So we immediately went over, called my aunts, and got ready to go to the hospital. I had never seen my Granny like that, her speech was slurred and something just felt wrong. It was scary.

We get to the hospital and after tests they determined she had suffered a stroke.

granny stroke

What? No. Not possible. I wanted to tell the doctor that he was wrong; that my Granny was strong, healthy, that this couldn’t have happened to her.

They still don’t know what caused her stroke. She didn’t have a blood clot somewhere. Her brain was fine. She just had a stroke.

But I tell ya, the Lord is faithful. He is good, all the time. He whispers grace to me when I need them most. He whispered grace in my ear when the doctor told us that the stroke hasn’t taken her mind or her speech; that she would need therapy but that she would still, essentially, be the same.

Today, one year later, I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for a God who never leaves nor forsakes us, who heals, who is a promise maker & promise keeper, and who whispered grace by letting me keep my Granny, with a few new, sweet quirks to her. And I’m thankful for how this stroke has changed her.

granny blog 2

She now spoils herself. For 62 years, she’s put her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren before herself. She’s never asked for anything. Now she has bought herself a Michael Kors pocketbook, has (fake) Jack Rogers sandals, convinced Pop to buy her a new diamond ring for her 80th birthday, goes shopping more than I do, and she deserves all of it. I’m thankful that she’s living life.

She’s snarkier, she’s sassier, and I’ve gotten even closer to her. We have guy talks and she always wants every detail after each date I go on: what I wore, where we went, what we did, all of it. She giggles with me, gives me advice, and has become one of my best friends. I’m thankful for that. She’s teaching me a lot, telling me a lot, and I’m soaking it all in.

When I think of who I want to be & what I want to be when I grow up, it’s always her; always my Granny. She’s the kind of wife I want to be, the kind of mom and grandma I want to be, and the kind of friend & person I want to be. Just ask around, she’s kind of a big deal ’round these parts.

grannygranny birthdaygranny blog

Last week, my Granny walked to the bathroom with my Poppy. She is celebrating one year with Cracker Barrel for breakfast tomorrow. She went to the nail salon for a pedicure last month. She is healing, she is living, and she is the snarkiest, funniest woman I know. One year down, my sweet Granny, and you’ve come so far. I just know that next year on April 17th, we’ll be able to say you come even farther.

Thank you friends, for letting me share my heart with you. This past year a lot has happened for me, and I’m sure you’ll get tired of hearing about it, but it was a defining year for me. Stick around though, there will be more to talk about because God’s work is never done.

granny group

 

Until next time,
S.

Accountability and its importance

encourage one another

Through college and into my adult years, I’ve learned a few of things about life. My Granny has taught me how to cook sweet potato soufflé, I learned how to do my taxes, and I’ve learned that you truly don’t find out who you are until later in life.

I’ve grown a lot as a person and as a Christian since I graduated high school. My sophomore year of college I lived with 7 girls who were weird, loud, crazy, and froze me to death in our dorm. They made me laugh until I cried, they encouraged me, and they gave me some of my favorite college memz. These girls showed me what it was like and how important it was to have people and a community that hold you accountable. Take a look at this gem from college below (a couple girls are missing):

 sobs

My junior year, Caitlyn’s sweet mama led us all in a Bible study. The other girls were about to graduate and I was going to be entering college without them. There was a lot of changes coming up and we were seeking His truth and encouragement in it all.

I can’t express how precious those sessions were to me. How precious it was that Lou-Lyn took the time to drive an hour to Anderson, cook us a whole meal, and then drive another hour home every week, just to pour into us. I began to see how important community and accountability really was in the maturity of a Christian’s relationship with the Lord. It encouraged me to join a women’s small group through my church once I graduated college.

I’m fortunate enough to have two groups of women that I look up to, that encourage me, that pray over me. They listen to my struggles, my fear, my frustrations, and they don’t judge me. They don’t mock me. They remind me of my worth, of my strength, and of my Heavenly Father that loves me unconditionally.

When it gets tough, when you want to give in to something that feels good but you know is wrong, when you feel like no one is in your corner.. Community and accountability partners are there to lift you up and encourage you. They remind you that the Lord is always good and that He always has His children’s best interest in the forefront of His will for our lives.

Overall, friends, accountability is important. The Bible tells us that as iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). Who we associate ourselves with, who encourages us, and who we seek counsel from helps shape us into who we are. Find your community, find your people, and make sure that they are worthy of the honor of sharpening you and who you are.

So- who holds you accountable? Who are you holding accountable?

Being broken and put back together

Last year broke me.

 

I was completely broken. My future plans, my life as I knew it, it all changed. I’ve always been the type to fear change. I mean, I would cry when my parents would sell cars when I was a kid because it was what I knew and the change scared me. I’ve always been the one in my family to stick to my guns about our traditions. I like to have constants in my life.

When two big constants in my life changed, it broke me. I battled depression, anger, confusion, and fear. But what I didn’t know at the time, was that God had allowed me to be broken so that He could put me back together.

My goal for 2017 is to find God’s truth in my life. To find God’s truth in what I’ve been through, in what my family’s been through. The first couple of months of the year so far have revealed to me a lot of things and one of those is why God needed to put me back together.

My entire life I’ve known that I wanted to be a wife, be a Mom, to have my own family. My friends have found their soul mates. They’ve gotten married, are having babies. It seemed every day there was a new engagement or baby announcement on my social media feed. Well, I thought I was ready for that. I thought I had found that. I had the best examples of a wife, a mom, and a marriage in my parents and my grandparents so I thought I was ready for it all. But I wasn’t, I hadn’t found it, and I wasn’t ready. God allowed for me to be broken to show me that. He allowed me to be broken to show me that He still had work to do in me before He gives me His best for me. He’s putting me back together for the man, the family, the future He has for me.

So for now I will seek His truth in these questions: who is God putting me back together for and what is He putting me back together for? One day, I’ll hear His whisper of grace when He says “that’s him” or “this is it.”

I know it has been awhile since I last posted, but life as been pretty crazy and I’ve been living it. I’ve reveled in the Lord’s faithfulness and His mercies. Thanks for reading and always remember to listen for those whispers of grace.

 

-S

Hello, 2017

2017

Happy New Year, y’all. It’s been a while since I last wrote but I haven’t really felt led to know what to write. I would think of topics, sit down, and the words would just jumble together and not make any sense. So today I’m going to try. I’m going to try because I want to write about 2016 and 2017. Bare with me, friends; I promise there will be a story in all of this.

2016 was a rollercoaster of a year. I experienced a lot of emotions, feelings, and different moments throughout the year. I experienced the ultimate heart break, emptiness, unknowingness, and fear. But, I also experienced joy, pride, and fulfillment. Unfortunately, it was one of those years when the bad overshadowed the good and I was more than ready to see the end of 2016.

I never make resolutions because I’ve never seen a point to them. For 2017 though, I’ve made two goals. The first is to be healthy again. Last year I didn’t work out, I ate unhealthy more times than not, and I was emotionally unhealthy. This year I made a goal for my physical health, my spiritual health and my emotional health. I want to be healthy, in shape, and feel good about myself, again.

The second goal is to fervently follow God’s plan and actively search for His truth. I’ve been blessed to have wonderful friends who do just that and they are such an encouragement to me. Today, two of my best friends displayed it by announcing that they will be leaving our church to accept God’s call to be student minister’s at another church. Sometimes having friends in the ministry can suck, if I’m going to be honest, because being in the ministry often means leaving. But, I am so encouraged by them and so excited for them to see what God has in store in this new chapter. I’m also really excited for future road trips to see them and sweet Addi that will join them in February.

So, shout out to God for already encouraging me in this year. I prayed for the ability to see His truth and ability to follow His plan. On the very first day, He encourages me through two of my best friends. He is a good, good Father, friends, and always wants the best for His children.

I’m hopeful for this year, and I’m excited to see what whispers of grace God shows me this year. There are a lot of exciting things to come. Two friends will welcome babies to their families, my Granny is going to continue to heal, and I’m chasing dreams. (I can’t wait to tell you those dreams, soon). It’s going to be a good year, friends. Make the most of it and always seek Him for guidance.

 

Until next time,
S♥

Whispers of Grace

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and things have been quite crazy! My sweet Daddy had shoulder surgery, my best friend from college came to visit for my 24th birthday, and then my sister had surgery with nearly a week long hospital stay. Whew – it was a whirlwind.

During that time, I was able to think about what I wanted my next post to be about. Since my blog went live, I’ve had a few people ask me: “What are whispers of grace?” I love being able to answer this question so I thought it would be best to explain it to all of you on here.

dandelion

During my life, when things go bad, I’ve had the tendency to tune others out; to shut down. During my teenage years I had a bad habit of keeping everything in until one day it all blew up. Vulnerability is scary. Trusting others is scary. And I hate being scared so I always tried to avoid those things. I’ve worked on that over the last few years and while it’s still hard to open up to people, it’s getting easier.

I’ve been using the phrase “whispers of grace” because for me, when I tune others out, I also tune out God. I don’t actively listen for Him. I don’t actively seek His words or comfort. They’re like whispers. Whispers are often hard to hear or understand unless you’re actively listening for them. Sometimes you don’t even realize they’re there until after it’s said and done with. To me, that’s what whispers of grace are.

When my Granny had her stroke in April, I only focused during that time on the bad, imagined the worst, and wasn’t seeking His words. I prayed for understanding and hope, but I didn’t actively look for that. All the while, He was whispering in my ear “Daughter, I have kept your grandma safe, she is still with you just like I am always with you.”

So I’m thankful for those whispers of grace throughout my life. Those “aha” moments when I realize what God is saying and showing to me. Those moments where I can revel in the wonder that God is and His ability to always get His words to me, even if I’m not actively seeking them. His faithfulness is astounding and always prevails.

I hope you seek His words, but I also hope that in those moments where you’re down and pull away, that you’ll always hear those whispers of grace.

Until next time friends,
S♥

Baby Hargrove Gender Reveal

For this post, I wanted to highlight one of the most fun opportunities I’ve had lately: planning a gender reveal party for my friends, Chris and Carrie.

Chris and Carrie are the youth ministers at my church and over the past 3 years they have become great friends of mine and their friendship is something I cherish. For about a year, I had been trying to convice them that it was time for them to have a baby (you know, so I could baby-sit). Well, in July I received a text from Carrie asking where I had gone after church that morning, followed by this picture:

announcement

When I finished screaming (in the middle of a restaurant, mind you) I immediately decided I wanted to throw their gender reveal party! (Sorry Chris, there’s no other way to call it.) So after a longgggggg first trimester and some weeks, it finally came time to find out what Baby Hargrove was going to be! I got to join their immediate family members the morning of at the ultrasound, and how amazing it was! Seeing Baby Hargrove move and then watch their family react to finding out the gender was surreal. Here is my favorite picture I took that morning of the grandma’s-to-be reaction.

grandmas

I asked Carrie a month before how she would like to reveal to their family and friends the baby’s gender. After perusing Pinterest, we decided on filling a gold balloon with the appropriate color of confetti, then pop the balloon in front of the party guests. I ordered the balloon from here about 3 weeks before and it came in plenty of time. Since we wouldn’t know the gender until the day of the party, I ordered both blue and pink confetti then used the right color.

balloon

Chris and Carrie are both from a town about an hour from where they live now and so I wanted to have the party in that city since most of the guests would be from there. Carrie’s parents were gracious enough to let the party be hosted in their beautiful home. For decorations, I just went with a simple pink and blue theme since Chris and Carrie hadn’t decided on a nursery theme yet. Most of the decorations came from Hobby Lobby, Target, and Party City.

reveal

The Mason drink dispensers were Sharyn’s left from Carrie’s sister’s wedding and were the perfect addition.

drink-dispensers

To know which “team” guests were on, they could choose a clothespin in the correct color and wear on their shirt. My cousin just had a gender reveal party a week before this one and gave me the clothespins (along with some of the other decor). You can buy them plain at any local store with a laundry or craft section, and then purchase tiny spray cans and paint away! The chalkboard is from Kohl’s and the buckets are from Target.

think

After a spread of tailgate type food and some fellowship, we all went outside for the reveal! It was quite windy so Carrie got a mouth full of confetti, but every one was thrilled to find out that Baby Hargrove is a GIRL! (Even their dog, Coal)

confetti

I am so excited for these friends, honored to have done this for them, and I can’t wait to love on Adeline “Addi” Grace Hargrove in February!

addi

I love planning events, so give me a follow and then contact me if you would like help with a party, event, or just a small get together!

Until next time friends,
-S♥

*A special thank you to sweet friends Susanna, Jackie, and Casey for helping with food, Sharyn and Kenny Walker for opening up their home, and the Walker’s and Gregg’s for helping decorate.*

A Year of Trials and Triumphs

The last year of my life has been one of the hardest for me. Beginning October 2015 with my sweet Granny breaking and having surgery on her femur and a shoulder surgery of my own, the past 12 months have been full of trials, with whispers of grace along the way.

This has truly been a season of complete heart-break, frustration, exhaustion, and then joy. Along the way, I had learned a lot about myself, my family, and my Savior. I dubbed my 2016 photo album on Facebook as “a year of growth,” and it really has been. I wanted to take a moment and share with you all a little about the two “game-changers.”

My Granny has always been one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve had the unique blessing of living next door to her and my Papa all of my life and for her to have been very healthy. Until now. Last October, she broke her femur and had surgery to repair it. In March, we found out the rod that was placed in it had broken in half and needed to be replaced with a steel plate. Mid-April, we took her to the hospital and was told that she had suffered a moderate stroke.

granny

I like plans. I like knowing what’s going to happen. For nearly two years, I had my future planned out. I knew who I was going to marry. Where I was going to live. I had a plan. In January it all changed when my boyfriend and I ended our relationship. I was completely broken. I doubted my worth. I felt empty. Having added that to the strongest woman I know going through so much, it was hard.

In the following months, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time sitting and talking with my Grandparents. Spend time with my girlfriends. Serve at my church. Spend time celebrating my best friend of 20 years as we prepared for her wedding. Most importantly- I had the opportunity to make goals for myself. What was the hardest season of my life, was also a season that gave me whispers of grace.

God whispered grace to me when He kept my Granny’s stroke from taking her speech and memory.

God whispered grace to me when He took me out of a relationship and gave me the time to spend with my Grandparents and to help them any way I could.

God whispered grace to me by showing that I was enough when I was offered a new job in the career field that I love in an office that I enjoy, and a job that will help me achieve career and personal goals.

God whispered grace to me by giving me the time to spend with my two best friends by celebrating one’s wedding and having quality vacation time with the other.

God whispered grace to me by allowing me to watch two kids in my VBS class ask Jesus to be their Savior.

God whispered grace to me by building meaningful relationships with friends that have prayed over me and over my family.

Mostly, God whispered grace to me by reminding me how lucky I am that this hard season of life is not the worst, that I am still extremely blessed, and that I have the ability to bless others.

Friends: this season may be hard; this season may be heart breaking. But never forget: joy will come in the morning, and never stop listening for those whispers of grace.

 

Until next time-
S.♥