No bumper stickers ornament my truck. Confession: I just can't be trusted with them. No Jesus fish. Family stick figures. Church symbols. Product names. We do have a soccer magnet that my kids like to move around the side panels, but the sport's known for attracting hotheads. I guess if I make a traffic no-no then, I told ya so. 


January 23rd, The Annex at
Lifepoint Church - Wilmington, NC 

The #LivingFree Team Invites you to Join Us for a
"The Secret to Spiritual Health."

Facilitated by: Andy Lee

Author of A Mary Like Me and The Book of Ruth: Bible Study
Find her at: www.WordsbyAndyLee.com



Please join me in welcoming author and guest blogger, Kelly Balarie, to the Gritty Pearl this week. 

Her book being featured on both the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, and sitting on the "hot new release" list over at Amazon, this on-fire, woman of faith has something to say! 

Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith

God told me to pray with all my heart. So, I did.

I don't think they liked it very much. I think they had thoughts about it. Opinions. Perspectives. Perceptions. Ouch!

What do you do when God prompts your heart, but man judges it? 

I steal away to type these few quiet words to you as Christmas day creeps up on us once again. You'd think I'd be more alert. Ready. Over-prepared even. And yet, here I sit -  the sounds of a house brimming over with family alerting me to how quickly the year's flown by. Chattering voices echo up the stairs and I'm reminded that there's still work to be done, games to be played, and stories to be shared. Little sleep, lots of laughs. I'm worn out but full, as so many of us are. 

And so these moments arrive - the ones we've prepared for in advance, stocked pantries for, and turned over in our heads as we've laid our tired selves down to sleep at night. Maybe your house is a little too loud this year or perhaps the silence is deafening. Maybe it's just the right amount of crowded with a dash of "home-cooked," like mine. It could be that you've settled in for a quiet weekend of holy solitude or you're hitting the road if you haven't already...

Wherever you land this season, here's wishing you a Christmas Pause. Breathe. Repeat. 

Love is here,

So the Word became human and made His home among us. 
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. 
And we have seen His glory, 
the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. 
(John 1:14, Msg.)


A door left unlocked in the dark of night. Candles lit and placed carefully on window sills. Families lying still in their beds, expectant and praying that their risk to shine the light won't leave them vulnerable to further persecution. Christmas.

Our cards aren't in the mail. Fail. Received a note requesting a parent meeting at school. Could be an Uh-Oh. Coaching for the first time in ten years. High flop potential. Can't find the "perfect" gift for hubby. Feel shoulders tightening. Haven't called Grandma. House is a fright. Not a great cook. Family needs to eat. Behind on Advent reading. Article to submit. Skipped the gym. Ate the pie. Dog needs heart worm meds. Shut-in to visit. Meal to deliver. Gifts to ship. Errands for school. Errands for church. Errands for kids. Errands for errands sake. 

You're bombing this thing...

The dog leash is wound tightly around my wrist. Her little body begins to shake the moment the bus comes lumbering around the corner, eventually rolling to a stop. She chases her tail, excited and anticipating boy cuddles after a long school day apart. Oversized backpack slung over his shoulder and a coat hanging off one elbow, my youngest meanders down the bus steps, hollering final goodbye's to his friends. He doesn't notice that his brother isn't following behind like usual. ChatteringGathering things that have likely dropped on the floor during the ride. I think of a million reasons for a delay by my social butterfly.

But then, he appears. Eyes welling with tears, he stumbles down the stairs and throws himself into a bear hug, burying his face in my jacket. Alarmed, I guide his eyes up to mine and give him a questioning look. "She said our house looks stupid, Mom. She thinks we're funny and she made fun of Jesus." 


We pray that this Thanksgiving is your most restful, brimming-with-gratitude holiday yet. This pie is one of our ultimate favorites. Quick. Delicious. A crowd pleaser. From our family to yours, a PRINTABLE recipe "so easy the kids can do it!" 


Pie Filling Ingredients:
  • 3 pints blueberries
  • 2 Tbs. squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the blueberries, flour, cinnamon, lemon juice, and sugar. Place in the bottom crust.
  3. Dot the top of the mixture with butter pieces, equally distributing them.
  4. Cover with the top crust, rolling and pressing the edges together to seal the pie all along the edge of the pie dish. 
  5. Chill for 30 minutes, until firm. 
  6. Cut slits into the top of the pie, apply a thin layer of egg wash, and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the top.
  7. Bake pie at 425 degree for 20 minutes, turning the oven down to 350 degrees for the remaining 40 minutes. 
  8. The pie is done when the filling bubbles beneath the surface of the crust. Allow it to cool and "set" before eating. 
  9. Enjoy! 


Photo Credit: Printable Background- Dmytro Yakymuk, Bottom - All rights reserved @theGrittyPearl
My family's a little weird. Well, maybe I'm just weird and my husband goes along with it. It doesn't phase him when I come up with a "let's try something new" idea. In fact, one of my very favorite things about that man is that he's never bowed down to other people's opinions about him. "Sure, why not?" is the response I usually get. I've spent a lifetime trying to figure out how to do that - letting God sand down the rough edges of my "permission-seeking" over the years. 

This is exactly how we ended up with a Christmas tree in our living room.  

Don't trust any stories from Joe's Grandma! Let's get real about our relationships. A discussion on hearsay versus face-to-face friendships...

What's your friendship status? Do you have a lot of friends? A few close ones? What about those you're not as close to any more?