Guest Blog Posts

I wanted a baby, but God had other plans…



I am so excited that my sweet friend, Candise Farmer, of Enough Grace Ministries, said “YES” and wrote a guest blog for Joytime!

You will surely be blessed, my friend, as Candise shares a glimpse of her story:


Have you ever considered a disappointment of your life to be a ministry launching pad? Or perhaps, your astounding talent … could it be the springboard that catapults you into a new spiritual outreach? What about a profound life experience – might it serve as a catalyst that drives you into a fresh work for the Kingdom of God?

Everyone has one!

Each of us has a significant life event, a God-given talent, or a painful circumstance within our lives that can propel us into ministering to others. We find this Heavenly intent in II Corinthians 1:3-4 as the Apostle Paul reflects upon the purpose of our trials: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”


In 2012, I became an irreversible barren wife, and with that dreaded regret becoming a reality, I entered into a pit of depression, bitterness, and doubt. As a believer and follower of Christ, I knew that my only restoration would be found in my relationship with God. And so, with a broken heart and amidst my crushed dreams, I persisted in spiritually crawling to the Lord for my healing. I wish I could say, “Suddenly one day, all the despair left and I was instantly delivered into a life of contentment.” But that is not the case. It took time – quite a bit of time. But God was faithful. Over the course of several months, He gently used His Word to bring me life again, and with His healing, He called me to write my first book, Green Pastures of a Barren Land. God’s commission was simple, yet profound; I was to share my journey of loss and to extend to others the Biblical principles that He used to save my life.

Just this summer, at a student church camp in Dayton, TN, I was challenge by God – via camp pastor Tim Brady – to identify “my spiritual launching pad.” I had never thought about that before. A spiritual launching pad? Could it be that my encounter with infertility, miscarriage, and childlessness was the “starting block” that God had set beneath my spiritual feet of ministry? The more I listened to Bro. Tim’s message, the more I began to realize God’s plan. He had designed my walk through biological barrenness to be a Divine “take-off” for ministering to others.

This month marks the second anniversary of the inception of Enough Grace Ministries, a 501c3, non-profit organization that God led me to found. My failed reproductive aspirations have spiritually birthed much more than I ever anticipated. Springing off of my “childless platform” is a passionate team of EGM board members who desire to reach people with the message of hope which can only be found in God’s Word.

God has opened doors of ministry that have enabled me to share of His grace that has filled my emptiness of childlessness. Our ministry has been able to serve churches, women’s groups, and student assemblies by presenting, sharing testimony, and facilitating Bible studies across the country. Disappointments in life come with many faces, but God’s Word is the same restoring balm for peace and joy through those times.

God has a plan for our lives, and by recognizing our spiritual springboards, we can serve Him and others more effectively. What is your “spiritual launching pad?” Everyone has one! There is a thrill in the “take-off,” and there is a reward with the ride.

For more information on how to book EGM for your ministry event, please visit www.enoughgraceministries.com.

unnamedBy: Candise Farmer, author, speaker and founder of Enough Grace Ministries

Click here to view a video of Candise sharing EGM and its resources on Life Today with James and Betty Robison. http://lifetoday.org/video/green-pastures/

An Inspiring True Story!


Recently, I sat down and interviewed Collin Smith, a recent graduate of High Point University.  Last spring, I saw his story on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.  Take a look:

I was so intrigued by Collin’s story, that I wanted to meet him!  His story is one that will inspire you to keep persevering when life throws you hard circumstances.  Collin is a young man with ambition!  He has heart!  He has courage!  I asked him to write a guest blog for Joytime.  In his own words, his encouragement to you is below:


Picture your life as it is now, all the things you have going, on good and bad, the

things you enjoy and the things you don’t. Imagine what it would be like to have to

find new things and leave all the other things behind, never to do them again. I

found myself in that very situation, a three sport athlete starting high school. My life

consisted of God, family and sports. Balancing priorities in life is always tough, and I

was about to get a lesson in which ones to place in the right spots.

On August 19, 2005 I was in a car with two other people whom a regular everyday

ride down the road turned into a time which has given me some of the greatest joys

and greatest heartache I’ve ever had. I was a passenger in a car that flipped end over

end for 200 yards throwing one passenger out of the back and leaving me trapped

upside down in the car with no one knowing I was even in there. Although there is a

lot I don’t remember I was aware the entire time. My mom recalls coming into the

emergency room with me laying on a table and seeing my arm fall down. It me not

able to pick it up and it just dangled there. My memory picks back up in an hospital

room at Baptist hospital laying there not able to move anything. I was told days later

that I’d never walk again. A as hard as that was to hear it was time to pick up the

pieces I had and get to work! After 2 ½ weeks at Baptist hospital I was headed to

Buckhead, Atlanta for rehab at Shepherd Center the top spinal chord injury rehab

center in the country. In the meantime a man in my church, Ernest, felt a strong

calling to somehow assist me although he hadn’t met me and knew nothing about

spinal chord injuries.

Soon after getting to Shepherd Center Ernest met with my parents and expressed

what God had imprinted on his heart, that he felt God was telling him that he was to

assist me with care. Keep in mind Ernest had no knowledge of quadriplegia or even

what my care would involve. This is what God has instructed us to do, submit

ourselves and follow wherever he leads us with out question. Within a week he was

headed to Atlanta to learn how to take care of me.

After missing the first three months of my freshman year of high school, my parents

told me after Thanksgiving break I was going to school. This was a much needed

step that I dreaded but had to face. But to my surprise not everyone was that

welcoming, I had some of who I thought were my friends that completely ignored

me. But thank goodness I had good ones who were the same as they always were

although things were different.

Through out our lives we experience joyful and challenging situations, in my case

I’ve found both early in my life. My last nine years have been an experience that

many haven’t had but we all can relate to.

With God’s help and those he has appointed to help me I’ve managed to beat the

odds, I went back to high school and graduated. Then I went on to college and

completed that with Ernest by my side in class everyday and graduated Now I have

an assistant coaching position at one of the best high school men’s basketball

programs in the country this year, Greensboro Day School. An interesting point is

some of the coolest things in my life have happened after my accident.

Always remember if God is calling you to do a certain task, big or small, or even if it

seems somewhat crazy it will bring you some of the most fulfillment in your life. He

will have you equipped just like he did Ernest. No matter if you’re clueless as to how

to do that task, he will surround you with people who do know. I am thankful for

those people who God has called to help me. It’s very humbling to see his entire

plan being executed right around you.

Its amazing how in the worst situations God reveals his power. I am a living example

of bad situation flipped upside down! Keep the faith! With God’s help possibilities

are endless. Trust and be amazed!

Often we make things too complicated, do you follow God or do you not? When

you’re dealing with God, odds don’t exist, he will always come through! The key is,

are you willing to follow him and see what he has in store for you?

-Collin Smith

Continue Reading

A Story of Encouraging Faith!


Get out of the boat

Today’s blog post is from my friend, Jennifer, who stepped out in faith to do what she felt God called her to do as a Mom.  Let me first say that choosing to work outside the home or to be a stay-at-home Mom is a family decision and I know Godly women who do both!  This posting is not to discourage working Moms, for my goodness–I am one of those!  Instead, this posting is an example of real-life, practical faith and obedience that will hopefully challenge and encourage you to listen closely to God’s call on your life.  May we be brave enough to step out of our boat!

This is my story of following God’s calling, being obedient and having great faith. Faith that required me to get out of my comfort zone and trust God fully with my life.  It all began after having my first child. As many mothers do, I had a strong desire to stay home with my child. I could not fathom letting someone else care for my precious baby! However, as I prayed and listened to God’s guidance, I realized the timing was not right. So for three more years, I pressed on in my job. And during those 3 years, I had another precious little girl.  As I continued to work, my heart still went out to my children and my duties at home. I continued to pray for God’s will be done in my life. Not my own will or desires. I asked God to place the desires in my heart that were His, for His dreams to be my dreams.


The desire to stay home kept pressing on my heart. It the middle of the night one night, the Holy Spirit spoke to me so clearly. As I looked at the small, flawless face of my little girl, the Spirit told me that I had missed three years of her life, and I was not to miss another year. I walked out of her bedroom door and cried. For I knew it was finally time to be home with my two girls.


As I prepared to quit my job, I faced much criticism and questioning from friends and family.  It was very difficult for them to understand me quitting an amazing job that gave me financial security, flexibility, wonderful benefits and much more.  And I will admit that it was also hard for me to wrap my head around how this was all going to work out and how could my husband financially support us. 


But this was a not a crazy idea I had, it was a definite calling from God and I knew I had to be obedient to what He had called me to do. Over the next nine months of preparing for this decision, my heart turned strongly to home and to my children. I was motivated on the weekends when I was able to be home and care for the things of the home and be a helper to my husband. The pressing on my heart was strong and clear.  My husband and I spent much time praying and seeking God’s unfailing Word. 


I had my moments of being completely paralyzed by fear. Fear of if we can financially live off one income. I didn’t want my husband stressed each and every day trying to make ends meet. I was scared I would not be able to handle this job. Do I have the patience and wisdom to care for these two small children’s needs each day? Can I have self-control in my spending and live on a tight budget? But every time the devil came to attack my thoughts and get me away from God’s plan, I came back with God’s word as my sword and shield. I knew that worrying was telling God that I didn’t trust Him. And oh, how I trust Him with every detail of my life.


During these months of planning and preparing to quit my job, I learned to pray to Him, instead of worrying. I trusted that God would never ask me to give up something unless he had plans to replace it with something even better.  God’s word in the Gospel of Luke tells us that working and planning responsibly are good, but dwelling on all the ways our planning could go wrong is bad.


I have been a stay at home mom now for eight months now.  I clearly see this was God’s plan for my life. This title is much harder than my previous career. Each day is a challenge and an opportunity to trust and rely on God’s wisdom as I have two small children who depend on me. Each day I have to rely on God to give me whatever I need for the day.  I know God called me home and I’m so thankful for his perfect timing, wisdom, and perfect plan for my life. 


I encourage you to read Matthew 14: 22-32.  And ask yourself if you think Peter was a success or a failure? He did at least get out of the boat and acted in faith. The other disciples did not even attempt to get out of the boat. I encourage you to get out of your boat, whatever your comfort boat may be. Follow God’s calling on your life and where he is leading you. Be obedient. Have a spirit of faith and not fear. Trust the God of the universe with every detail of your life!





Meet the Guilarans! A guest posting from my friend, Lesley…


November is National Adoption Month, and my sweet friend Joy was so gracious in asking me to write on a topic so near and dear to our heart, adoption.  I want to begin by thanking Joy for taking the time to discuss a topic that is so dear to our Father’s heart and for allowing us to tell our story.

Our story begins in 1995, when at age 18 I was diagnosed with a 14 lb tumor in one of my ovaries.  The tumor was removed immediately, but left a great deal of scar tissue, which we found out years later, left me with a less than 5% chance to conceive a child naturally.  The Lord used this difficult time to work in both of our hearts.  God was teaching me that I needed to relinquish my desire to control when I wanted children in our family.   Fonsie, my husband, was not open to adoption, but over the next several months, the Lord showed him that the purpose of having children is to have an opportunity to love another human being; and if that is the case, then it does not matter if your child is biologically related to you.  At that point, we knew that God was calling us to adopt.  At that time, my husband was finishing up graduate school, so we waited to start the process, not wanting our imminent move to cause any disruptions in our adoption process.  In the fall of 2004, we moved to Indiana and immediately began to work with our agency and assemble paperwork.   In the beginning, we were all over the place; trying to figure out which direction the Lord was leading (twins? Sibling group?)  but we knew for sure we would be adopting from the Philippines.  However, one night in our living room, Fonsie had an amazing experience with the Lord, through which the Lord impressed deeply on Fonsie’s mind and heart that we were to adopt the most unwanted child that we could find, as a picture of the gospel.  Christ adopts us when we are in sin, when we are so unwanted…but not unwanted by God.  So I called our coordinator and began to speak with them about the hardest children to place.  Sibling groups and older children are difficult to place she told me; however, children with special needs were the most difficult.  Her exact words were “No one ever wants to adopt them.”  Having been trained in special education that was not a terribly shocking statement to me.  Prior to this conversation, and Fonsie’s encounter with the Lord, I had looked on our adoption agencies website and had seen information about a little boy which stated “Angel, 2 years old, congenital cataract”.  There is no reason that information should have stuck with me, but it did.  Sure enough, the agency was more than happy to send us Angel’s information.  I tore through it and cried, the hard beautiful cry, knowing, this was my child.  Fonsie never looked at it, telling me he didn’t have to, this was our son.  We suspected based on pictures that were sent, that Angel might have autism, but it was never confirmed before meeting him.  The day we flew to Legazpi to get Angel, we were told right before boarding the plane, that they suspected a hearing loss.  For about a minute, I could feel my heart in my feet, but I trusted the Lord.  I cannot possibly describe the first moments that I saw my sweet boy, toddling down the hall to me…after waiting for 6 years since first trying to conceive, I was about to hold my son.  He was so tiny…at 4 years old he weighed just 19lbs and was in 18-24 month old clothes.  He did not know how to chew food; he drank from a bottle, and was in diapers.  We would find out later that he would receive the diagnosis of Deaf Blind autistic.  I could not begin to imagine how much the Lord would teach us and those around us through our son. The next few years held many surgeries, many diagnoses, and many cries out to the Lord for help in raising a son with many challenges.  But this I know, the Lord has given me a fierce, deep love for this child.  A love God gave me that could be no stronger if I had given birth to him.  Once Angel had been home for some time, God allowed us to see a beautiful tapestry that He had been weaving, even before I was a believer.  In college, I went to become an education major with an emphasis on special education, but found out my junior year that special education was my major.  This allowed me to take American Sign Language as my foreign language, with a teacher who planted seeds of Jesus in my heart.  After coming to know him at age 20, He led us to Florida where I taught for three years.  He then led me to work for The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council where I later became a lobbyist, and then left to lobby for children in foster and adoptive care. He had prepared me in every way to parent children with special needs. He taught me to how to educate them, how to communicate with them, and how to advocate for them.   It was incredibly humbling and beautiful to see.

Five years after Angel came home, the Lord began to work on our hearts, preparing us for our second adoption.  The circumstances were incredible…God quietly nudging each of our hearts, then putting it on a friends heart to begin our adoption fund with a little bit of seed money.  Not knowing when God would call us to start the process, we patiently waited for direction.  That direction came in an email from a friend on November 11, 2010.  She had received an email from her agency looking for a home for a boy in China who was Deaf.  She asked if we would be interested in the info, and I said yes.  The next email came on November 13, 2010 with a sweet picture of one of the cutest children I have ever seen, and I thought, Fonsie will never go for this….another Deaf child?   I showed him the picture, and 4 days later, after time in prayer, we committed to begin the process to bring our Xiao Yu home.  This time, we did not have the money to bring a child home.  With Angel’s adoption, we used the profit we made on selling our first home along with our savings.  This time, we barely managed to scrape together the first $1300 we needed for the pre-approval process for China.  That’s the thing with adoption…it will build and increase your trust.  We knew God would provide if this is what He wanted us to do.  In my heart, I knew if we received pre-approval from China, we would be adding this sweet little boy to our family; for Fonsie, he was convinced that God would indeed do this but did not know from where the money would come.  In the middle of December, we got word from our agency that we had been pre-approved!  I was beyond thrilled and jumped right in the car to drive to Fonsie’s work to tell him.   Two days before New Years that year, a friend came knocking on our door, telling us that her father had given her a stock…and either the week we found out about Xiao Yu, or the week after, the Lord raised that stock 40% overnight, in a  recession.  Having just read David Platt’s “Radical”, they committed that they would give all the profit to whoever the Lord directed, and every time they prayed, the Lord told them to give it to us.  That gift was $10,000.  We were stunned, and knew immediately that this was the final confirmation to bring our Xiao Yu home.  Throughout the entire adoption, the Lord provided over and over and over.  We received checks from all over the world and even from complete strangers who learned of what God was doing.  We did do some fundraising, but not much.  As Fonsie likes to say, the Body of Christ brought Xiao Yu home.   On December 12, 2011, we walked into an orphanage in Shanghai, China and met our little boy for the first time.  He waddled over to us, and then we all cried.  What beautiful love you see when that little one toddles to you, it gives you such a picture of how we, as sinners, toddle in our weakness to the cross throwing ourselves into the arms of Jesus, our Savior.  How beautiful.  Xiao Yu has been such a gift to our family, and a wonderful brother to Angel.  We prayed that the Lord would knit their hearts together, and I could never have imagined how beautifully He would.  I cannot imagine our family without Xiao Yu.  He is a bundle of joy, love, comedy, and so many other things.  I deeply love that sweet boy.

Parenting our boys is not easy.  It comes with many trials and with deep suffering at times.  BUT, it also comes with deep joy, sanctification and love.  We have seen the grace of God lived out in each of our children’s lives, and I cannot imagine my life any other way.  We have learned to trust God through amazing circumstances and have firsthand seen His incredibly deep love for the fatherless.   Scripture is filled with His provisions for the fatherless…it is all throughout the Old and New Testaments (Ex. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; Deut. 14:29; Deut. 24:19-21; Deut. 27:19; Psalm 82:3; Isaiah 1:17; James 1:27).

So how might He use you to care for the orphan?  He does not call all of us to adopt, but He does call all of us to take care of the fatherless.  There are many wonderful organizations through which children can be sponsored and funds given to help families who are struggling financially to adopt.  My prayer is that you will seek His Face about how you will help the fatherless.  I know He will lead you as He is so very faithful.

“Sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts; His name is the Lord; exult before Him!  Father of the fatherless and Protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.”  Psalm 68: 4-5