Getting Gritty with God: 5 Mindsets That Matter

When you are faced with difficulty and challenges, what is your mindset? How do you move from fear to freedom? In the last decade I have found myself faced with the decision to either give up and escape or persevere and put my hope in God. I found myself wondering if things would change, would life get better, was there a light at the end of the tunnel. My life did not look like I thought it would. I want to share with you how I have persevered during the most challenging time of my life. Walk through these 5 mindsets that matter when saying YES to GOD & GRIT and NO to FEAR & FAILURE. I believe this could help shape your life too.
Lamentations 3:24 declares “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him”. Another way I like to say that is “my hope is in my Lord because of who he is”. He is my portion because he is enough, he is the source of everything I could ever need, there is no more portion than him, he is it for me… because of that, I will hope in him.
When you find yourself challenged or desperate, fear-stricken or discouraged, focus on these 5 mindsets. Here is the key to each of them before you start: God is the subject and center. When we establish GOD as the subject, and not ourselves, everything shifts, and God is glorified, worthy of all praise.

Mindset #1: Motivation – the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Mindset #2: Momentum – the strength or force that something has when it is moving.

Mindset #3: Memorization – the process of committing to memory or learning something by heart.

Mindset #4: Mighty – possessing great and impressive power or strength

Mindset #5: Maturity – to evolve toward or reach full development

I had lost my way quickly. A marriage in its first year marred with infidelity, addiction, sickness, toxic relationships, and a new baby ended in divorce. But God. My motivation after that extremely difficult timewas to find myself again, being a new mom, I desperately wanted out of the way I felt and desired to look to something positive so I could be a good role model. I met Jesus after I heard the gospel shared at a church service.
I gained momentum and had the strength to secure a great job and establish myself in a new career. Each day/week/month that passed I was building a new foundation IN HIM. The fear that was gripping me about custody, or the pain and sadness that was surrounding me about losing my husband to divorce was shifting.
I looked to His word, memorizing His truths, and cementing verses onto my heart. I began believing The Bible and understanding I was made new in Christ, that I am a child of God. My situation and circumstances had not changed, I was still divorced and sharing custody of my young daughter, but a mighty transformation occurred in me by his Holy Spirit. I was connected to God Almighty through his Holy Spirit, and his power and strength helped me keep the first commandment first, my joy was
in the Lord.
Throughout the last decade I have matured in many ways, failing, and falling forward, facing rejection, seeking forgiveness, and working through real fear that continued to paralyze me because of my doubts. I now know looking back over more than a decade that he was maturing me in this time of suffering and establishing in me space to evolve and develop for His purposes.
His word says in Romans 5:2-4 And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
So now write your story, with God as the subject, giving him all the glory; and go get gritty with God – put your hope in him!

Reading time: 3 min

I wish I could remember the precise moment the world began to replace the innocent joy of my body
with feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy.

I must have been in middle school when I began to feel self-conscious about my hands even though they
served a profound functional purpose in my everyday life. I longed for my palms to be softer and my
fingers to be less wrinkly. I was self-conscious of a handshake and fearful of what a boy might think of
me if he were to hold my rough hands.

I suppose vanity and covetousness were part of the problem. However, at the root of my
discontentment and fear was that I did not yet know the One who lovingly gifted me these hands.

In 2009 my husband and I conceived our first son. My pregnancy humbled my body physically as I
suffered chronic kidney stones and ultimately went into preterm labor at 35 weeks. Our baby boy
soared into the world with strength and confidence however, as a preemie, his needs were more
complicated than I had expected, as was my post-partum recovery. I floundered through early
motherhood as I failed to measure up to my unrealistic expectations.

I know now that God was allowing me to struggle in my pride and as he dispelled the lie that self-
reliance and independency were a viable way to live an abundant life. When our son was about seven
months old a student of mine invited me to her church for a teacher supply drive. That divine
appointment would ultimately put a Bible into my hands and ignite a curiosity in me to attend church.

God began to dispel decades of unbelief. In November of 2010 at the age of 29, I surrendered my life to
Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and made the choice to follow Him wherever He called. The Father, in
His grace, adopted me as His beloved daughter (Ephesians 1:4-6).

Everything changed . . . including what I thought about my hands.

Today when I look at my weathered hands etched with calloused palms and carved with deep lines upon
my knuckles, I am reminded of my true lineage. I fondly think of the Potter who painstakingly formed
me in my mother’s womb (Isaiah 64:8). He had a great purpose for these hands.

They have held firmly the hands of a faithful husband for sixteen years, most recently at his ICU bedside
post stroke. When his hands could not function, God gave me able hands to assist him. These hands
have had the honor of caressing and nurturing two newborn babies. They have cupped the chin of a
three-year-old orphan in Hong Kong who found comfort in the kindness of my nonverbal gesture. My
hands touching her face would be our first physical connection as mother and daughter.

God has allowed my hands to pat three children’s backs to slumber. They have wiped runny noses,
changed messy diapers, written prayers, scripted lunchbox notes, plucked guitar strings, driven
countless hours, tied shoes, thrown balls, cleaned dishes, folded clothes, and were even used to type
the very message you are reading. Other times, my hands have simply rested in a posture of surrender
and gratitude to the One who made them.

Today will you join me in thanking God for the gift of our unique bodies – purposefully designed and
wonderfully made?! (Psalm 139:14)

Reading time: 2 min

Symbols are everywhere. Some we are taught from a young age, some later in life. A quick glance at a symbol can bring up distinct feelings for different people given various circumstances. For example, a symbol for birthdays is cake. For most, birthday cakes evoke happy emotions and drum up memories of fun parties with friends and family. This may not be the case for everyone, but you get the idea.

For most contemporary American girls, diamonds represent glitz and glamour and love. And has been said that, “diamonds are a girls’ best friend”. As a teen, I didn’t have much of a fashion sense, I couldn’t tell you who Louis Vuitton was or on which avenue Saks was located, but I knew I loved diamonds.

A diamond is a symbol of love.

When mu husband, Joe, and I had first began discussing marriage, we chose to forgo a large wedding so that we could save our money for the down payment on our first house. However, Joe knew the significance of picking out the perfect diamond ring for my finger. He knew diamonds are a symbol of a promise of commitment. He also knew that because I told him repeatedly, “Emerald cut, 1.08 carat, set in white gold, size 7”, no big deal.

A diamond is a symbol of a promise.

Benjamin Franklin said, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self”. As I have actively and purposefully chosen to transform my life from one of complacency to one of extraordinary opportunity and abundant joy, I have learned a lot about myself.

A diamond is a symbol of transformation.

Looking back to 2013, I seemingly had it all; an incredible husband, two beautiful daughters and a six-figure career. From the outside looking in, everything was wonderful, but I was a mess. I had no idea how much personal growth I needed. Overweight, in debt, drinking alcohol every day; I had no clue that my life, the normal American life, was pitiful. I began to view the world through a different lens and realized I was living a less than life and I wanted my girls to have more. Proverbs 3:15 states, “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her”. That is how I thought of my daughters. A beautiful friend spoke life over me and said, “Carrie, you are a diamond”.

Over the next five years, a number of people came into my and family’s life that transformed us in ways we never knew were possible. We truly learned that being average is not good enough, we were made to be set apart. To be difference makers, though, meant that I had a lot of personal growth to accomplish. And growing pains hurt.

“Everyone wants to be a diamond, but no one wants to get cut”, said Eric Thomas.

I was willing to be cut. I had a decided heart that I would do what it took to be who I said I was. I got cut and it hurt. I lost some old friends but gained my self. I am much stronger because of it.

A diamond is a symbol of strength.

A few years ago, I had a great conversation with my friend and business leader about the momentum on my team and the goals for the rest of that year. We spoke about the pinnacle leadership level in the company we were in at the time; the Diamond level. I never questioned whether or not I could or would reach the Diamond level. I have always believed I would be a Diamond leader, the only question was “when”?

After our phone call, that sent me an article on the topic of having faith to move mountains. As I was reading it, Clara came bouncing in and said, “oh yeah Mom, this came with your present. I don’t know if it was a mistake or what, but I figured I would give it to you”

It was a diamond! A DIAMOND FELL OUT OF THE BOX! Let me explain: Clara bought me an alpaca notebook from Etsy. Somehow, a plastic diamond found its way into the box with the alpaca notebook. The diamond was not found upon the initial removal of the notebook from the box, but made its entrance hours later, after I began reading an article about faith to move mountains. To those who have forgotten how to dream this may be considered a coincidence. For me, the plastic diamond was a God Nod and has now become a symbol of hope.

A diamond is a symbol of hope.

Fast forward to early 2021. I was invited to meet Sandra, founder of United and TRU. When her book, None Like Her: Awaken The Beauty With You was released, I immediately ordered a copy so that I could learn more about my new friend and the nonprofit that sprang forward from a vision placed on her heart. Within a few month, I was asked to become a part of the U+TRU leadership team. Over the past year, Sandra a has given many talks and we have had multiple chats about the symbolism of a diamond. More specifically, about THE Diamond. God is perfect and He made us in His image. Our beauty is within us because He is within us. Visualizing a beautiful diamond shining within our heart brings me pure joy. Reflecting that Diamond to the world is my purpose.

The diamond is our one true God.

“All along you were mean’t to reflect the beauty that is already wired deep inside of you.” – Sandra Coates

To check out Carrie’s blog, simply click here

Reading time: 4 min

It happens in such a noninvasive way I barely realize it until I’m 20 minutes into scrolling…the moment my mind isn’t stimulated enough or wanders off looking for an escape, I find it processing the images that flood my Instagram feed. It feels noninvasive, but really it’s more invasive than anything. Because the images I see are the lives and stories I compare myself to, and because I find myself observing so often, it reaches beyond a normal environment of comparison and into the walls of my home. Comparison happens in my hands at the end of my fingertips. The apparent success that others are championing finds its way into my heart and bleeds through every block of accomplishment that has been a part of building me. I should double tap and give it a “like”, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Mixed feelings of wondering why I am where I am and how she got where she is weighs me down to the point of scrolling even more just to forget why I was scrolling in the first place.

Why do we do it? Seriously, why do we scroll through social media? What is the intention behind it? Because I don’t want to use it as a measuring stick and means of evaluating myself and where God has me verses where He has someone else. Just because she is successful doesn’t mean I’m not. We are two separate people created in two unique ways for two specifically different purposes. She was designed for the plan on her life and I was designed for the plan on mine. When I compare myself to anyone else, it is an unfair comparison. Because I am not meant to what she does and she is not meant to do what I do.

Maybe if we just focused on where we are called to be, so obsessed and fulfilled and consumed with it, we wouldn’t have time to worry if we are where we should be because we would just know. We would know because we’re all there and we sense the impact of what that means. The impact of being all in. If I rest in knowing I am where I’m supposed to be then I can just let her be where she is without feeling the pressure to be there too. And that’s the thing, no one else has those expectations of me. Just me. So, as we scroll through the images that plague our minds and infiltrate our hearts, may we scroll knowing our life isn’t meant to look like theirs. And that’s not only okay, it’s beautiful.

Alexis Judy
Alexis Judy

Lexi Judy is a passionate writer, speaker, and Bible teacher. With a degree in Religion specified in Christian Ministry, Lexi is on staff at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, VA. She has a heart for connecting generations of women and championing the next generation for the cause of Christ. Lexi is the author of Because He Loved Me, a book that walks through her experience with cancer at 16. She also serves on the SBCV Women’s Ministry Strategy Team and core team of bloggers.

Reading time: 2 min

We are so excited to announce: United and TRU’s founder and CEO, Sandra Coates’ book is now available!

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We are a Christ-centered outreach organization and operate out of a Biblical framework. We are committed to proclaiming God’s message of beauty, worth, and identity to women and girls. From work, to home, relationships and ministry we commit to proclaim the freedom we have in Christ, and unity we have as a result. 


We believe no two women are alike on purpose. We honor uniqueness and believe nothing compares to the internal beauty and purpose of each woman and girl. 


We believe our confidence comes from Christ and we are already enough because of His power, love and the beauty within us. We choose to walk in this posture throughout our leadership, events and programs. 


We believe we are better together. Our goal is to foster a welcoming and caring environment to women of all ages locally and around the world. 

Reading time: 1 min

To all of us women in search of adventure…we got this! If you’re anything like me, I’m sure
there’s been a time in your life that you had a craving for more. More what, you may ask? More
adventure, more spontaneity, more road trips, more beach walks, more of all of life’s, “good
stuff”. It wasn’t until I was settled in life, finished with my Masters in Counseling, and a
newlywed- happily married in a world of romance, that I began to have this feeling and
yearning to find my own voice, and for a sense of self to be seen. I thought I was already
keenly aware of all of my passions and well attuned with my giftings, but sometimes God has a
way of surprising us with new joys and adventures, that can set our hearts on fire for the world
in front of us.

Almost out of nowhere, I fell into a love and fierce passion for fishing and being on the water! I
began to chase after this new adventure and love of the ocean and the salty air. I felt so much
confidence being behind the wheel of my own boat, with the wind blowing in my hair, and
knowing I was the Captain of my own ship. Fishing brought something beautiful out of myself
that I would never have otherwise discovered…confidence isn’t always birthed in us, it’s
cultivated through a reckless abandonment of our comfortable lives, and through the pursuit of
adventure. Fishing helped me to cultivate my voice, and provided me with a platform to
empower women and young girls to chase boldly after their dreams. Just a couple of short years later, my passion turned me into a full time professional Angler and YouTuber.

Now looking back, I can see God’s plans from the beginning, utilizing the most unlikely women, me,to help other women grab hold of their God given talents and dreams, and to help them use heir voice so they too can bring beauty and inspiration into the world around them. I was shaking in my fishing boots when I first started out, I didn’t want to fail or disappoint anyone. I was nervous of what people might think about me, starting a career so late in life, with absolutely zero experience what so ever. The outside voices where loud, telling me that I was, “too old”, “too inexperienced”, telling me what I should be and should do, or shouldn’t do. When I finally stilled my spirit, there was another voice within, whispering a different message, one of passion, and courage. I remembered praying that God would put the super on my natural, and help me to overcome what felt insurmountable in that season, to become a professional athlete in the fishing industry and to bring glory to God’s kingdom while doing it. Through that season, I trusted God, I dreamed big, and then I watched Him do some of His best work.

Fishing might not be your cup of tea, so don’t worry if that’s not your thing! But there will be something out there that will put a spark in your soul, and when you find it, I promise you that it will be one of the best joyride you’ve ever taken! I think the coolest piece about my story isn’t that I found fishing…but it’s that I ventured into a brand new passion, and that I owned it until it became a reality. I was so proud of myself for venturing out, not allowing fear to hold me back, and for pursing something brand new, wholeheartedly.

Whether you are chasing a new hobby, a passionate career, or something in-between, don’t be afraid to try everything and anything. I want the same for you, to feel the wind in your hair, and adventure at your fingertips. There is nothing more exhilarating than cultivating something new for yourself, and finding new joys in the midst of your own adventure- you might even surprise yourself with just how gifted you are at it. There are no limits for you my darling, if you are brave enough to dream it, you can be brave enough to venture after it.

Reading time: 3 min
Stronger Together

It’s Not Black or White

Since I can remember, I have had a deep love for my African American sisters. When I am with them something comes alive in me and I feel vibrant and full. There is a strength in their spirit that I just adore. I love their soulful spunk, their drive for success, their power and readiness to fight for what they believe in and their rhythm to the music.  They have a warrior strength about them and a unified legacy that cannot be broken. I admire the African American race. Is it their beautiful dark skin, their boldness and ability to stand up for themselves, their uninhibited worship or maybe how they freely express themselves and don’t seem to care what others think. They have endured a history of fighting for their worth and value largely because of the color of their skin. Where would we be without these strong, relentless women? They are a gift to us with boldness, beauty and courage. 

As friends we talk about culture and stereotypes and how black and white cultures may look different but inside we are all just human; women on a journey through this life hungry for love and value and royal identity. We admire and respect each other and get a lot of laughs too. That is what makes us better. I admire them because they know who they are and are not defined by labels or adversity or their curves. They vocalize their strength in a way I can’t and speak truth without apology or meekness. They give glory and praise to God in an uninhibited and powerful way that has been monumental for me to learn as I grow in my depth with God. I have been changed by it.  It is just the way they were made and that beautiful brown skin that blesses my  white soul. A few of my coworkers who have become lifelong friends and mentors to me have challenged me to do the same. They have taught me to stop comparing myself and stand tall; press into the pain but not let it define me. They have proclaimed what God says about me and  laid vision and goals in front of me that I only imagined from afar. They think I’m crazy because I’m always changing my hair styles throughout the work day while their hair stays perfectly sleek and in place all day long. We ask questions about white and black stereotypes to glean understanding with respect that no one culture is better than anyone else- like the way it’s supposed to be. We trust each other, we laugh and hang out together and we fight together on the same side as sisters in Christ, stronger together. This is the Gospel. This is how it’s supposed to work no matter what condition the world is in. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) 

(Note: This blog was written before the horrible deaths of our African American citizens. May we all be moved to change and see skin color for what it has always been- a beautiful display of God’s blessing and strength to our land. By the goodness of God may healing and newness emerge. )

Sandra Coates Sandra Coates Sandra is a RN and works with women in unplanned pregnancies. She is also a pastor’s wife, women’s ministry leader, speaker and model. She is passionate about every woman knowing her God given beauty and living confident and free. Read more about Sandra.
Reading time: 2 min

Waiting Around: Ugg or Ahh!

COVID-19 has changed our hustle-bustle world into waiting rooms and isolation chambers. Thankfully, most of us have smart phones, and virtual connections help a lot. Even more thankfully, most of us have families, and maybe we have’t spent this much face-time with them since we were little kids.

Even so, the whole world seems to be waiting around. All of us are wondering: will life ever be “normal” again? More likely, we’re facing a new normal, so we need to look for the meaning and purpose in it. Being flexible is the name of the new normal game. But what do we do in the meantime…?

In the Bible, God talks about waiting a lot. His stars like Abraham and Sarah, Zachariah and Elizabeth, Jacob, Joseph, David and Abigail did a whole lot of waiting on God to move– and their circumstances to change for the better.

But here’s the thing about waiting. It’s not about doing “nothing”. It’s not about entertaining ourselves (which can be the same thing as doing nothing).

Waiting is active. Waiting is planning. Waiting is connecting. Waiting is like halftime at a football game, and we’re the players. We rest. We re-energize. We talk to our team. We listen to our coach (God, parents, leaders).

We strategize about what we’re going to do in the second half… in order to win. If you like football, you may notice that the teams with the best halftime routines… often stay or step ahead to pull out the victory.

That’s us. Victorious. So… consider a few suggestions for current waiting time:

  • Appreciate your family! Show them how much you love them. (Too many people don’t have what you’ve got.)
  • Clean out your closets and drawers. Reorganize. A fresh start feels amazing.
  • Sort through pictures and videos on your phone. Discard. Group. Have fun.
  • Check up on family and friends regularly, especially those you think might be lonely.
  • Read. Paint. Draw. Study. Journal. Exercise. Write down your goals and plans for the next 6 months.
  • Pray for yourself. Pray for others. Read the Bible. Try a new devotion app and see if you like it.
  • Right now, the internet is FULL of webinars, live entertainment and virtual meetings of every sort. Free. Fun. Comforting.

Whatever you do, be productive and be thankful. So many people are experiencing far worse tragedies than social isolation. We are blessed and must continue to count thank God for every circumstance, great and hard—including this COVID-19 pandemic.

Carey Lewis Carey Lewis Carey Lewis is the founder of a world recognized talent development ministry, called Actors, Models & Talent for Christ (AMTC). From 1982-2018, AMTC scouted, coached and launched thousands of performers into film, fashion, music and theatre. Carey has won two Lifetime Achievement Awards for her contributions to the cause of Christ in arts and entertainment. She speaks, counsels and writes daily devotions geared to the media generation, and those called to influence it with light, love and truth. Check her out at or
Reading time: 2 min

Ya’ll, let’s talk about a topic that most people do not necessarily like to talk about…Anxiety! I know that A LOT of us experience it on a daily basis but there are some that don’t or are new to the feeling. I guess, I can say that I am very familiar with Anxiety, I have battled with it for as long as I can remember. The worst part about Anxiety is that I don’t always know when it is going to hit, but when it hits me, it literally “HITS” me! It is that elephant sitting on my chest, can’t catch my breath, room shrinking around me feeling….. It is rough! I can be sitting at home alone and just think about something sad or stressful and that emotion floods over me, or I am walking around Busch Gardens with my family and it feels just a little too crowded… and I start to panic! I don’t remember when it all started, all I can seem to piece together is that it started with little things; stress, the need to fit in, comparison to others and then those things grew! Plus, life gets bigger and when life is bigger, your stresses just grow with it.

So with all the stress and fear in the world right now, how do we even stand a chance? How does someone like me who stresses about the smallest things stand a chance? We are truly living in the unknown. We don’t know what is going to happen next, and being someone that suffers with OCD, that does not cut it for me. I try to stay positive and try to remain thankful for what I have. I focus on that fact that all of this craziness is really not affecting MY family drastically. I mean, I am getting more time with my husband, more time to let my son move at his pace with school work. I am able to finish projects that I would normally be “too busy” for! I am thankful for those things, but then……. I turn on the TV, or pick up my phone to check and see what “new thing” I am going to have to share on Facebook, and I am hit with the devastation that is really going on in the world! So I start to feel guilty, I start to think, “Wow! You are just living in a bubble and you should do more!” And then, the elephant shows up to plant his big ole’ tush on my chest, and the room (that is a relatively good size) suddenly feels like a coat closet. I lose my positivity and my thankfulness and I am in a dark place! I try to change my perspective, so I look up the CDC website and I am met with “Ways to Cope With Stress”……. Their list starts like this: Take deep breaths, stretch, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. As I am reading this list, I still can’t help but think about the person that doesn’t have a job to provide for their family, or the nurse, who happens to be a single mom, who is juggling her busy schedule and putting herself in harm’s way and still trying to homeschool her kids. I think about the poor 2020 High School Senior that will not have a prom, graduation, or experience any of those important milestones that we all remember so well, or not so well… (I had a terrible prom)… never mind, I digress. I think about my dear friend who just had to lay his father to rest without being able to have a memorial service or even be in the hospital with him during his last hours on this earth. I’m sorry CDC, your list is not working! So what do we do? If you are predisposed to anxiety and depression like I am or even if you are not, and are getting your first taste of it now, what do we do? What is the answer, and what does it all mean?

I think it is easy to get caught up in the need for an explanation, but the truth of it is, we are not meant to know. Bridging the gap between that sickening feeling of anxiety is not always easy but I don’t think we are meant to have all of the answers. We have Jesus! Jesus is the only answer that we really need! In Phillippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In this scripture we are given clear instruction to pray about what is on our hearts that is causing us to worry, but then leave it there. In the famous words of Elsa, “LET IT GO!” This is not our battle! It is a battle that has already been fought and won for us! We already have salvation. We have no need to worry nor to fear the best or worst outcomes. We have Jesus! We have eternal life.

So, in closing, all I can do is encourage you to have hope! Hope in what is to come and faith in what has already happened. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Additional Resources

Anxious for NothingCalm My Anxious HeartFreefall to Fly
Ashlee Hawley Ashlee Hawley
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