Thursday, July 30, 2009

Timely words...

I have enjoyed Downhere's song, "Here I Am" since the first time I heard it. But today it seemed to take on a deeper meaning. Having a heart that says, "Here I am" has been my prayer and now it seems God is carrying through with the rest of the line. He is sending me, tomorrow I leave for the She Speaks conference and anyone who's been following this blog knows that is a huge step.

The words of the song spoke to me once again though and I'll pray they do the same for you...

Sometimes Your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes it comes in the Spirit's breeze
You reach for the deepest hope in me
And call out for the things of eternity

But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say

Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan,
Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands
Are You not the closest when it's hardest to stand
I know that You will finish what You began

And these broken parts You will redeem
Become the song that I can sing


Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness
And the fear that I'll fail You in the end
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but You can


Here I Am, all my life an offering to You, to You
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan
Here I am

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

8 years ago...

Wow, I can't believe my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary for the 8th time today. It just doesn't seem possible that it's now 2009 and we were married on a beautiful day back in 2001. When I take a quick look back it seems like it was yesterday and I feel myself getting older as I think, where has the time gone?

It's true I am getting older, but in those 8 years we've walked thru two thousand nine hundred twenty days together. Obviously a lot has taken place! The first thing that comes to mind is the children God has blessed us with - they've created some long nights and busy days, but brought blessings to our marriage that I never even expected.

Speaking of expectations, I'm not sure how much of our married life today matches up with what I envisioned 8 years ago. Our relationship no longer revolves around dinner out, long talks on the phone and time alone. Though our number of dates is down our relationship is stronger than ever. I'm so thankful God had a better plan than we did.

Does that mean it's always been easy? No, we've had misunderstandings, we've let each other down, we've walked through a miscarriage and struggled with normally daily life. The key word is "we" - whether times have been good or life's become hard we walk together. That alone isn't always easy, but it is what God meant when He said two shall become one.

Eight years ago we read the love chapter from 1 Corinthians at our wedding. At the time I'd heard the passage quite often and recognized it as wedding words, but now I'm grateful for the opportunity to not just know it, but have experienced it.

Love is patient and kind,
love is not jealous or boastful,
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on it's own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends.

I'm grateful for what the last 8 years have taught me and how God has strengthened our marriage and because of that I look forward to what He has in store for Job and me in the years to come.

I pray the same is true for you and your spouse - just remember as DC Talk sings, "Love is a verb." And I've come to find out the action begins with a choice - decide today to love your spouse unconditionally. God will be honored, your spouse will be touched and others will be inspired.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Before I pack...

In a week I will be in North Carolina for the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference. I am excited, overwhelmed and a bit nervous. But thankfully in the past few days in place of some of the fear God has provided peace.

Today I had some time set aside in which I intended to focus on some prep work for when I will be gone. Now as that time has faded, I realize nothing I envisioned accomplishing has been crossed off my list. That could be a reason for panic and frustration, but God had plans so much bigger and better than mine. He was doing prep work I didn't even realize needed to be done.

He has shown me before I pack I have more to do than the simple things that made my list. Before I can pack my bags to go, I need to set down the ones I've been carrying.

So you're not confused, I haven't just returned from a trip. In the last 7 years I've rarely left the state! So you ask what am I talking about? It's the baggage I carry around from my past and misconceptions about who I am. It's the stuff that weighs me down and keeps me from seeing myself the way God does.

Now in the past 6 months God has helped me lighten the load a bit as He's helped me become more secure in Him. He's shined His light in the bag I carry and revealed things I didn't even know were there. I'm trusting Him more and living to please others less. I'm beginning to realize He doesn't compare me to anyone else, so I shouldn't either.

Even yesterday I was visiting with a friend and she shared how she sensed I was more at peace. I agreed and driving home reflected on how God has moved me from there to here - what a blessing to see Him take my pain and replace it with His peace.

But this morning after a long talk with my husband, I realized I wasn't allowing God to work in all areas. I was still holding on to some things - mistakes God had forgiven and others had too, but yet I had not.

And as the day has continued, this precious on-going conversation with God has as well. He has reminded me His blood covers it all and I can't continue to beat myself up over things He has forgotten and I can't let mistakes I've made define who I am - His daughter, one He loves and has a purpose for.

I know He will meet me at this conference and though I don't know what is in store, I trust He has a plan. But before I pack, I have to empty the bags - I have to lay it all down and He will lift me up. He's shown me though it will be important to pack the right things, I will never be prepared until I let Him remove all the wrong ones.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Evening comes
& a storm may rage,
but morning breaks
& the sun will rise.
Rains may fall
& clouds can form,
but the sun shines
& lights the day.

The world grew dark
& pain was inflicted,
but three days passed
& the Son rose.
Struggles surround us
& hard times hurt,
but the Son still shines
& lights our way.

We will suffer
& get knocked down,
but God will strengthen
& we will rise.
The world is cold
& needs God's love
so we must shine
& share His light.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Leap of Faith

I recently picked up Liz Curtis Higgs book, Embrace Grace, which Lelia is doing as an online study. They are into chapter 4, "Embrace Faith," and what a timely chapter it is.

Higgs states, "Faith is not something you fall back on; faith is something you step into." Wow! How true is that. It seemed yesterday was a day of mixed emotions as I thought about what lied ahead for me in the next couple of weeks - the first shipment of my published book arriving (expected today) and preparing for She Speaks. It can all be overwhelming - sometimes in a wow sort of way and others in a very scary manner.

This is all so new and at times when I try to logically think about it, things don't always make sense. Though my analytical mind is at times tempted to know what this all means, I really don't know where God is leading.

But like Higgs says that is where faith comes in. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." This is all part of his plan - 5 years ago it may not have been mine, but it was his before time and now I must embrace it.

At times that sounds difficult - I want to be the one in control and have an idea of how things will turn out, but that's not the way faith works. God is in control - always has been and always will be. It's not for me to know what comes next, but instead trust the One who does. 2 Corinthians 5:7 puts it plainly, "We live by faith, not by sight."

So as I prepare to take a leap of faith, I will look to the One who is faithful, God will protect, guide and strengthen. He is trustworthy and as a good friend always says to me, "He hasn't brought me this far to leave me now." And that is true for all of us sheep who trust our Shepherd.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Be Small

As an individual who didn't break 5 feet/100 pounds until I was 15, physically being small has never been much of a challenge. But over the last week I've thought about this concept in a different way - "What does it mean to be small in God's eyes?"

Now I have thought about this before and at times thought I knew the answer, but I'm beginning to realize I may have been wrong. I know God doesn't want us, me, to be prideful and for the most part I lived in a way I thought wasn't.

I was one willing to go behind the scenes, do the "simple" jobs and the ones that aren't always fun. And if credit or compliments came I was one to shake it off and make others think it was no big deal.

This past Wednesday we started a women's Bible/book study at our church. We are going through Susie Larson's, The Uncommon Woman. As one of the leaders I have read much of the book already, but the first question she asked has been on my mind a lot lately.

She asks, "Have you ever considered that insecurity is a form of selfishness?" My answer, "NO!" But as I read this and discussed it, I realized you can't deny the truth of what she said. Webster defines insecurity as not confident or sure and as I look back over my life most of the time I could be the poster girl for insecurity.

I've doubted myself and let fear keep me from doing and saying things I probably should have. I've been small and taken the backseat at times because I didn't think I was worthy of anything more.

And yesterday as our pastor reminded the kids during the children's sermon of what it meant to "be small" I realized my idea of this has been wrong. It's true, God wants us all to be small - it just doesn't look the way I've always thought.

In no way does He want this to be the result of doubt, fear, worry or lack of worth. His word tells us He has not given us a spirit of fear and He advises us to worry about nothing. Not even what others will think!!

Our pastor went on to share from 1 Peter 5:4, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The key word? Humility, which Webster defines as not being proud or arrogant.

Honestly for many years if you asked me if I was a humble person, I'd say yes, but this morning God really had me thinking about insecurity. And as I did just that I wondered, "Can I really be humble and insecure at the same time?" I don't know, but it seems God is showing me the answer is no. I have to move from insecurity to humility.

I still need to be small, but the reasons are different. In place of doubting myself, I need to trust God. Rather than being self-confident, I need the holy confidence of Christ. Instead of tooting my own horn or looking for a pat on the back, I need to give God the glory. There's no need to worry about what others think and say when pleasing God and winning His approval is my goal.

For the little ones up front at the children's sermon it didn't seem being small was going to be real difficult and initially I felt the same, but it is a challenge. This doesn't just mean stepping up and doing the work that's rarely acknowledged and putting others before yourself - it's that and more. It also means letting go and letting God - sometimes we (I) need to realize when we're too small for a job, God is big enough. If we humble ourselves and allow Him to use us (whether it's cleaning up the nursery or publishing a book) He will be faithful and carry His work to fruition.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Right Thing

Awhile back our Pastor preached from 1 Peter 4:19, "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator." A common line through his message was "Do the right thing."

He went on to talk about how the right thing usually is the hard thing. It's true something else might seem easier, but just because the degree of difficulty is less doesn't determine it is correct.

It's a concept that is even making its way into the mind of my 4 year old. The other day I had told her to finish one of her jobs and all that was on her mind was getting outside to ride her bike. As she headed to the door, I asked her what she was supposed to do. I was expecting her to say put her clothes away, but she stopped looked at me and said, "I remember what Pastor Tim said, "I need to do the hard stuff first."

Well, not his exact words, but it's a start!! Now I need to follow her lead.

It is very true in our life today - it can be tempting to do the easy thing, the fun thing - but if I play with the kids all day and just read blogs we would never eat and our house would be a constant state of disaster. Our faith life is the same.

When we decided to follow Christ, He doesn't simply want us to go on living as we had been. We are a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17) and need to live that way. At times this may be easy - we go to church with others who feel the same. We can worship together, pray and discuss the scriptures. In that safe little place, the right thing is easy! (Well not always with 3 little ones in the pew!!)

But what about outside the walls and away from the ones who have a similar desire to praise the Lord and follow Christ? The life of a Christian isn't always so easy, so we must decide to do the right thing. What that is will be unique for each and everyone of us, but the fact that we each have a decision to make is universal. God will give us opportunities to choose between what is right and what is easy - what will you decide?

In the last month, I've wrestled with a decision myself. The opening verse I posted talks about suffering according to God's will and though I'm feeling no physical pain with this dilemma, in my head it has hurt.

Over a year ago I first heard about She Speaks, a conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. It sounded wonderful and every comment I read about it was encouraging and full of examples of God's hand at work in NC. As I was in the process of writing a book, the thought of me attending entered my mind, but it only lasted a short while as doubt entered and I was convinced the conference was great for everyone, but me.

Time went on and the thought was always there, so I prayed about it, honestly thinking it would eventually go away. Then in the fall we found out we were expecting and one of the first things I thought was, "The door has closed - I can't go away for 3 days with a new baby." And honestly that was OK.

Well, fifteen days later we had a miscarriage and the door was re-opened. As I wrestled with the emotions a loss creates, it didn't seem to matter though.

As the new year began, the idea in a way I wanted to fade away had not - She Speaks was still on my heart. I continued to pray and by the time registration opened, God continued to move. He had confirmed and with much needed support and encouragement from my husband and registered.

Well, 4 days later, I found out I was expecting and again thought about the conference. In my mind I didn't think it would work - flying by myself states away while nearly 28 weeks pregnant. Worry and fear told me none of this made sense, and at times I was OK with that.

I knew I had until June 30th to make a decision and though I kept waiting for the door to close, it never did. I can remember sitting in church the Sunday our Pastor gave this message and realizing I was torn between doing the right thing and the easy thing.

It would be much easier to stay home, attend my high school class reunion, visit my grandma on her birthday and send my husband off on his Canadian fishing trip. But he's cancelled his annual outing with the guys to stay home with the kids and though he's nervous about sending me off by myself, he wants me to do what God wants me do.

Really it would be easier to be who I've always been, stay where I've always stayed and do what I've always done, but like my little Joy-Joy said, "I need to do the hard stuff first." Though I take this step with plenty of worry, fear and doubt I know in God's eyes it is right, so I will do so and like Peter said, "entrust my soul to a faithful Creator."

Won't you do the same?!?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coming Soon...Letters from Leanne

The final step of the process has begun, we have started working on the marketing aspect of Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship. The official release date will be this fall, but copies will be available within the next month.

It is amazing to see this journey coming together...nearly 3 years ago God laid this book on my heart and approximately a year ago we started looking into publishers. This past September, Tate Publishers offered a contract and it's been an interesting learning experience the past 12 months.

As we begin to move forward we are excited and a bit overwhelmed at the thought of God putting our story in a book. Our prayer is that as others read it, they will see His. The book chronicles the first 10 years of our friendship - one that revolves around the ideas in Titus 2. Paul instructs the older women to train the younger and through our letters you will see the beauty of that.

For now I would like to ask you to pray about what lies ahead. A few specifics - that God would continue to guide and direct and that I would be strengthened to follow Him even when I move further and further away from my comfort zone. And also for the ones who don't understand the importance and depth of my faith, that seeds would be planted. Finally that God would get the glory and honor in all of this!