I started my blog back in May of 2016, however, the process of God leading me to this venture began almost a year and a half prior to the day I clicked “publish” on my very first post. As truly simple and miniscule this blog may seem to others, it was part of a defining journey of discovery about who I am, what the Lord has for me, and my personal relationship with Him. Dreams and gifts have unfolded as I’ve walked this path and I’ve grown in more ways than I ever thought possible.
Reading back to those days of journaling my heart to the Lord about starting a blog, there were not only trends of self-doubt, but also fear of what others would think. I wanted to follow God’s leading, I wanted to just be an encouraging voice in the midst of such a discouraging world. I didn’t quite know how to begin or what to expect, but I took a leap of faith and decided to create “Nina Grace Blogs”.
Throughout my first year of blogging, so much happened in my personal life. I finished my degree, my first niece and nephew were born around the holidays, I found out I was pregnant, I started working full time, and am now in a season of waiting before my precious baby arrives and I will begin my new chapter as a stay at home mama. During these seasons, reality kicked in regarding my ability to maintain my blog the way I wanted to. The way I was “supposed to” if I wanted to see it “succeed”. Slowly my inspiration turned toward desperation as I tried to simply keep my site afloat. I had limited time and as the months continued, my vision and inspiration was getting harder and harder to find. I continued on, under the assumption that once I stopped working in preparation for the baby, I would have the time and energy again to do everything I was doing the first summer to expand my blog. I buried my head and pushed through the long hours and busy seasons, keeping a focus on the light at the end of the tunnel when my schedule would be my friend again and I could refocus on what I wanted to do.
Finally, that season of rest came, but you know what didn’t follow? Inspiration. I would scroll through endless social media posts from successful blogger after successful blogger, and instead of feeling encouraged and inspired to do the same for myself, I felt tired. I felt discouraged. I felt doubtful. How could I ever keep up with this race? What is the focus of my blog even about? Why do I still find myself thinking “I really should blog today” rather than wanting to? When did it become a burden on my heart? I was struggling. I would often share with Mike my personal tug-of-war with wanting a successful blog, seeing what it takes to get there, but not wanting to do it. I didn’t want to worry so much about my instagram being perfect. I didn’t want to worry so much about getting so many posts out per week, with xyz content, and building my “tribe”. I was getting exhausted trying to keep up with the expectations of social media and I considered throwing in the towel more than I ever thought I would. I felt lost, discouraged, uninspired, and frustrated.
One day, I was spending some time with the Lord after a morning of feeling defeated and frustrated about my blog. I felt Him lead me to a website I have absolutely loved for a few years now called Well-Watered Women. One of their recent posts was titled “Why I Won’t Quit Social Media“. I opened it, and began reading what felt like my own personal journal published right before my very eyes. I couldn’t believe it! Everything I had been feeling, all the emotions and pressures, were right there. Someone else understood, and she found the answer.
The heart behind it all.
This moment, it was as if a veil was taken off my eyes. It’s all about Jesus. And yet, I had been making it all about me. Essentially, within her posts and a few others that I bunny-trailed off into reading like this one, she shared her heart about social media and the tendency to use it to bring ourselves glory. How often we compare ourselves and compete with others (sometimes without even realizing it) because our goals are focused inward rather than on Jesus. Social media is an incredible tool and has the potential to be used for the most God-glorifying ways. It depends on how we choose to use it. She shared some questions she asks herself before posting anything and they truly convicted me. Oh how my eyes had been so inwardly focused. I instantly started journaling about how I realized my blog, my social medias, my heart, had all been striving toward perfection. Striving toward success. Striving toward approval of others. Instead of just striving toward Jesus.
It was as if my whole heart flipped upside down and everything was made so clear to me; I don’t want to strive toward more people following me, I want to strive toward more people following Jesus. My goal shouldn’t be for someone to look at a blog post or an instagram picture, and think about if I am good enough at what I do, but rather for them to walk away thinking about their relationship with Him! If I share something, I want it to have value. I want it to be exactly what God wanted me to share that day to draw people closer to Him. I want people to scroll by and stop and feel the genuine love of God through whatever He would have me do in the middle of the endless other things they will scroll by that day. I want the glory to be always pointed toward Christ. I want my eyes off me. I want to stop thinking of my blog as a business or a hobby and start thinking about it as a ministry to build the kingdom.
Back when I started my blog, I named it Nina Grace Blogs due to a lack of focus. But also, possibly due to a focus on myself. It was as if God was showing me how symbolic that was of my journey the past year. I knew God was calling me to change the way I blogged, the WHY I blogged. And I knew that meant changing the name. Not only to reflect how and why I was going to be relaunching my website and the heart behind it, but also to reflect my own personal revelation that I do not want the focus to be on me anymore. I want it to be all about Jesus.
Now, weeks later, I have poured over my journal and soaked up as much truth as I can from God’s Word and I have found a direction for my blog that I am so excited to share with all of you! My heart is that this blog would still be a place of encouragement but that as you read what God puts on my heart, you would walk away feeling closer to your Savior. Every minute I have been spending with Jesus lately has brought me to a place of sweet freedom in Him. I have so much to learn. There is so much He’s doing. I don’t want to miss any of it. And as life gets hard, and seasons come and go, I want to live to flourish in His kingdom.
Throughout the time I spent seeking the Lord, there was a common theme and word that kept reoccurring. Flourish. It was almost as if everywhere I went, God was using that word and confirming to me the heart behind this new direction. One of the more special things God has used to reveal things to me has been through finding my mom’s old study bible. Somehow, it ended up among my collection of things and I started using it during my quiet times. The first day I opened it, a piece of paper fell out on which I had written the passage of Psalms 1:1-3 over and over.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
What does it mean to be like a tree planted by streams of living water? This theme had been consistent in my life and heart. What does it mean to delight in the law of the Lord? I want to live like this. I want to live to bear fruit. I want to live to flourish.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree; they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.” -Psalms 92:12-13
With all my heart, I want to be planted in the house of the Lord. By streams of living water. I want my roots to grow down into him (Colossians 2:7). I want to drink from the well of living water that can only be found by abiding in Christ (John 15:5). I want to flourish. As I poured my heart out to the Lord, I asked him, what would this look like practically? What does this mean in the everyday life of someone who is seeking the Lord?
He directed me to the greatest commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37). I started praying asking the Lord, how can I learn to love you with all my heart? All my soul? All my mind? So that I can love you fully and love my neighbor?
Step 1: Create in me a clean heart oh God (Psalm 51:10) so that I may love you with all of it. Start searching my heart, and scrubbing it clean of whatever doesn’t please you Lord. Mold me to be like you.
Step 2: Anchor my soul to you Lord (Hebrews 6:19) so that I may love you with all of it. Don’t let me wander. Anchor my soul through the storms, through the waves. No matter what I face, never let me stray to far from you Father.
Step 3: Fix my mind on things above (Colossians 3:2) so that I may love you with all of it. Pour your Word, your truth, and your spirit into my heart, soul and mind. Teach me to walk my daily life turning my eyes constantly to you instead of things of this world. Taking every thought captive to you. Purposefully choosing to spend time in your word so I might learn to delight in it. Purposefully choosing to spend time praising you and listening for your guidance so I might learn to delight in you. Purposefully seeking to love you with my whole heart, soul and mind, so that I might learn to delight in your kingdom and flourish in you Lord.
Practically speaking? The new direction of my blog is this; learning to draw near to the Lord. Learning what it means to delight in him. Soaking up this heart-scrubbing, soul-anchoring, mind-setting, relationship to abide in Jesus Christ and living to flourish in every area of life! As I walk through my faith, family, and friendships, I want to be saturated in the Word, equipped to face each season, learning about my sweet Savior and learning how to genuinely and effectively love others better.
Moving forward; I will be streamlining my blog to posts solely about living to flourish in this way. Living for the Lord in any and every area of life. I am not going to continue writing about DIY’s, recipes, make-up favorites or any of the other things I have been previously posting about. Not because there is anything wrong with those things at all, but simply because my heart is not in them anymore, and God has made His vision and purpose for my blog clear. And I want to walk confidently in that direction.
Starting September 5th, my goal will be to blog once a week about whatever the Lord lays on my heart. Throughout the week I intend to use social media (facebook, instagram, etc.) to share little moments that will hopefully be a refreshing reminder of God’s grace and presence for all of us as we scroll through the constant sea of posts. I am working on revamping the weekly newsletter to bring more value into your life, I am praying still and working towards a ministry idea God has put on my heart that I’d love to incorporate into my blog in the future, but most importantly, I want to share with you all what God is teaching me, so that we can grow and flourish together!
This blog has opened doors for me to have such beautiful conversations with people I never expected. It has lead me to new friendships. It has allowed for all of you to comment and share about your own lives and what God is teaching you that has in turn helped me grow so much in my own faith. That’s the part of this blog I want to thrive and pursue. Living to flourish for God’s glory, to build the kingdom, and to walk through life together hand in hand, hopefully feeling encouraged and equipped to make the most of each beautiful day.
Thank you so much, as I have always said, for reading along. Jesus is incredible, He pursues us, guides us, and gives us exactly what we need each day. His mercies are new every morning, and I can’t wait to dive into them with all of you.