Monday, January 31, 2011

The Silversmith

I want to share a story with you before going any further.

Refiner's Fire

There was a group of women in a Bible Study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest or her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot- then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered "yes," he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eye on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh that's easy. When I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of this world's fire, just remember that God has his eyes on you.

--Author Unknown

May I be a bit transparent with you today? I believe I've been going through the refiner's fire for about 8 weeks now. I actually prayed for THIS VERY THING to take place back at the beginning of December. Sounds crazy...I know. But, I'm desperate for God to move in me. I'm desperate for God to clean me up. I'm desperate to know Him more. In order for any of this to take place, I knew I had to be refined. At first, I didn't really notice any changes taking place. But then...little by little...the refinement began. Friends, the fire has been VERY hot lately. Sometimes...I feel as if I'm literally going to burn up (so to speak). But, I really do want this. Through tears, I can honestly say I want this. I'm so tired. I'm almost at the point where I'm at the end of me. And you know what...that's EXACTLY where He wants me. He works best in me when I move out of the way.

How about you?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seven for Sunday

Happy Sunday Bloggy Friends!

I can't believe it! I forgot to post a Seven for Sunday last week! I think I was sidetracked with it being my daughter's birthday and announcing the giveaway winner...yada yada yada. Bottom line - I simply forgot. Oops.

That said, I did remember this week. :-)

You've probably seen me write this before: I don't like New Year's Resolutions. I honestly believe they set you up for failure before you even begin. Goals, on the other hand, I'm ALL about long as they're measurable. Having short-term goals are good, having long-term goals are important too, having lofty goals are fun...but, only if they are all measurable. So, as I began setting goals for 2011, these are 7 of the ones I wrote down. And...while a couple of them might seem vague, I have written, measurable ways of determining if I'm on track with them. I can honestly say that 1 month in already...I'm on target with 5 of the 7. I'm a little behind on two of them, but I'm actually working on all of them! It's going to be a great year!

Seven Goals for 2011:

1. To know God better...
2. To know God's Word better...
3. To lose weight...
4. To serve my family better...
5. To become a better time manager at home...
6. To write more...
7. To fast regularly...

What are some of your goals for 2011?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Joy-filled Cleaning!

It has been the BEST morning! I've been cleaning house. No - I'm really not crazy. I don't like to clean, per se, but I love to clean with the songs of my iPod filling the entire house. My hubby was out playing in the woods with one of his friends. My daughter had school today (yes - Saturday - makeup snow day). was the Clorox, the Windex, my iPod, me and God! Sometimes God speaks most clearly to me through a dirty rag. Kinda reminds of me the old passage from Isaiah,

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." Isaiah 64:6 NIV

Don't I know it? I tend to go the "other way" quite often. I had this conversation with a friend two weeks ago. There are essentially two kinds of pride. The one kind is where we never give God credit for all that He's done...instead, we take the credit...we puff our own selves up. We tout our own name. Then, there's the other kind...the kind where we put ourselves down. We never give God credit for the amazing things He's done for us and through us. It's kind of like we have prideful humility (if there is such a thing). Friends...I find myself there often. I don't take compliments well...I always tend to shrug it off, "thanks, but...". There's always a "thanks...but" in my reply. I'm always afraid that if I simply say thank you that, as my daughter would say, I'm trying to "be all that". I'm so afraid of taking ANY credit for fear of not appearing humble. That's just as prideful as the person that takes all the credit.

Anyway...I've digressed a little here...

My point in all of this is that God has been doing some AMAZING things in me lately. I mean Uh. Maz. Ing. I can only recall one time prior in my life that I was walking as closely with Him as I am now. Now, before I go any further, I have to say that these are mostly internal things. Externally speaking, my life is still a mess in areas. I'm still crying out to God with many of the same prayer requests that I've had for months or years! Life is VERY hard right now. Time is my enemy these days. I catch myself crying a lot. But...God is still working and MORE THAN EVER!

So, back to my cleaning this morning. As I was sweeping the kitchen floor, listening to a sweet praise song on my iPod...I was completely overcome joy!! I literally felt paralyzed as the joy took over! Isn't God amazing that even in our dark days, He can make His presence known in such clear ways that we can't help but feel pure joy! It reads this way in the Psalms,

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." Psalm 94:19 NIV

Friends, only God can do that. I truly don't understand how people that don't know Him can possibly make it through this thing we know as "life" on earth. I would be utterly hopeless without Him. Instead...even the midst of difficult circumstances, unanswered prayers (or delayed answered prayers, I should say), confusion, heartache, and disappointment...he gives me great JOY!

May I hear a loud AMEN?!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Need Suspenders?

I pray your week has gone nothing short of spectacular! Got big weekend plans? I've got another FULL weekend, but it's mostly from the comforts of my own home. I'm planning to catch up on some things that have been on the backburner for awhile, and we're also hosting my daughter's birthday party tomorrow evening. She's actually having a double-party with a sweet friend of hers. They are only two weeks apart, and this is the weekend between both birthdays! We'll have a house full of 13 and 14-year-olds. I love it! Really...I do. I've always loved this age group of girls. Some may call me crazy,'s true (not the crazy part - ha!)!

Anyway...I've been somewhat fretting the fact that there will be pizza and cake/ice cream at the party. As you know, I've been on a weight loss journey for a little over a month, I've also been reading, studying, chewing on (no pun intended) Lysa TerKeurst's newest, best-selling book, Made to Crave with a fun group of gals for almost three weeks now. Hands down...the book has radically changed my thinking towards food. No doubt about it. So, why the fretting you ask?

Well, I'm still living in this sinful skin of mine, and I've been afraid that one day I just might "mess up". I'm not saying that pizza and cake are eliminated from my eating plan forever. But right now...I'm learning to crave God more than food. So, I'm deliberately choosing to stay away from those foods that might cause a little more temptation than I can handle right now. That said, I've still been slightly afraid that I'll blow it this weekend...well, that is until yesterday and today.

One of my co-workers came up to me and said, "Girl, do you need me to bring you some suspenders?" What did she say? She started chuckling and then began to comment about how she could SEE that I've been losing weight and that my pants were starting to reflect a bit of a...well...need for some assistance. :-) Soon after, another lady came up to me and commented that she could notice my weight falling off. Today, someone told me I would be needing a belt soon. Blog friends...let me just say...cake? pizza? tomorrow night? NOT A CHANCE!!!!!!! That's all it took friends. Just a little encouragment. Actually, a lot of encouragement. Sometimes, just a dose of "good job" or "you look great" or "need suspenders?" is enough to keep a gal motivated. At least it was for me. I'm getting into the nitty gritty now. The water weight fell off, but now I'm slowly burning fat. I say slow, because I'd rather be losing it Biggest Loser style (5-30 pounds a week), but I also know that 1-2 pounds a week is average. So, weigh in day is tomorrow. I guess I'll get to see if I'm average.

As for encouragement...yes, we need it from friends and family (at least I do), but faithful, steadfast, true, lasting source of encouragement comes from my sweet Abba Father. And, this is what He told me today...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers (or daughters), whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Susana's Story Reaches Matt!

Hi Friends!

Can you believe this is already day 27 of my 40 day blog writing journey? WOW! It has truly been an amazing experience for me, and I pray you've enjoyed being on this journey with me. Because I never write my blog posts ahead of time (at least not during these 40 days), I'm always fearful that I'll run out of meaningful things to write about. Sure - I can write all day long - ramble, more like it. However, I want there to be some "meat", some truth, some encouragement in most of my messages.'s simply a place to share. And...I love sharing this life journey with you. This is another one of those days. I want to share something utterly precious that I saw moments ago.

If we're Facebook friends, then you may have already read this post written about Susana Whittaker, the youngest daughter of some sweet missionary friends from our church that has neuroblastoma cancer. You can read some of my earlier posts to get more information about the recent, gut-wrenching change in her condition. But, before reading any further now, please read the linked post by clicking on Susana's name above. Trust me. You don't want to miss this.'ve read it? What did you think? A little convicting isn't it?

Well, Susana's story reached across the ocean miles to Matt Redman - the singer/songwriter of her favorite worship song. He sent her a video message and sung part of HER song! (If I can figure out a way to share the video here - I will. But, right now, I can only view it on Facebook. Feel free to "friend" me, if we're not friends already, and you can see it on my wall.)

I truly believe we're just seeing the beginning of how God is going to use her story!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Need a Little Prayer

Hi friends!

Allow me to confess right now. I don't feel like writing today. How's that for a little honesty? I remember the last time that I did a 40-day blog writing journey that I had a slump once or twice when either I felt I had nothing to write about or just had no desire. Well...that's me today. My heart's not in it for some reason. I love sharing with you all each day. I love hearing the comments either on this platform, Facebook, Twitter, or email that I'm not writing in vain - that it's touching many of you in some way, shape, or form. That's God friends. It's certainly not me. I'm just the vessel. I love the new connections that I've made as a result of my Made to Crave journey. God is so good! But, can I ask something of you today? Will you please pray for me? I really need a special dose of prayer today. I'll share some of the requests, but please know there are others that simply need God's intervention but don't need to be shared in a public forum.

Please pray...

(1) For me to find wisdom in my "busyness". I am simply burnt out. I feel like I have no control over my own time anymore. Something has to go. I just need wisdom to know what.

(2) That I stay consistent with my "amped up" Bible study. Friends...I'm digging in the Word pretty deep lately, and want that fire to continue. Because of #1 above, I'm feeling more and more drained, and I don't want this to slip at all. God has been teaching me sooooo much.

(3) For all areas...spiritual, physical, financial, mental, and emotional.

(4) For anything else God lays on your heart to pray.

Prayer is something I'm passionate about. I never tell people I'm praying for them without actually doing it. I actually just returned from my weekly prayer group at church, and I always walk away knowing God was in our midst. Tonight was no different.

I know God is powerful. I know God can do ALL things. I know that He can meet every need I've listed above. I'm just tired and weary and need to call in some warriors to stand in the gap for me. Are you willing? Thank you - in advance!!!

Oh - one more thing...the speaking ministry that I'm part of, Speaking Thru Me Ministries (STMM) will soon have it's first free newsletter. We'd love to share it with you! If interested, please send me your email address, and I'll add you to the list! You can opt out at anytime after you start getting it if you choose to! Thanks bunches!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

He Cried All the More!

I know what some are long will this weight loss effort last? when will she quit and go back to the status quo of unhealthy eating, no exercise, too many soft drinks, loads of sugar? I can almost hear the whispers, because...honestly...they are the whispers of my own heart. If you've followed any of my blog posts this year, you know I'm on a new journey of weight loss, as I make my way through Lysa TerKeurst's newest book, Made to Crave. In all honesty, God began working on my heart this past December, before I read even one page of the book. However, reading the words that God gave to Lysa has only solidified the truths that He was speaking to just made those jumbled up thoughts of mine a little clearer. So, why is this time different? Why did I so boldly proclaim earlier this month that I'm more confident than ever that this GIANT in my life WILL BE DEFEATED this year? I'll tell you why, but I have to share a story about a man named Bartimaeus. A friend of mine pointed out something so profound to me from this story that I'd never really noticed before, and I've actually camped out there for a couple of months. Let me share "Bart's" story with you...

"And they came to Jericho. And as He was going out from Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.

And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage, arise! He is calling for you."

And casting aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

And answering him, Jesus said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And the blind man said to Him "Rabboni, I want to regain my sight?"

And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he regained his sight and began following him on the road.

I certainly understand my new friend Bartimaeus. I, too, want healing so badly. I want to be free from the grip of food on my life and all the other issues that it causes. I want to be healed from the wrong thinking and behaving that I've embraced for years, and I want this to be a permanent freedom...a permanent healing that can only come through Christ.

My friend, that I referenced earlier, showed me something profound in verse 48 just a few months ago. Bartimaeus didn't let the stern warnings of the crowd stop him, he didn't allow the "shhhhs" to send him back into defeat. It said, "he kept crying out all the more"! The Greek word here for crying (krazo) means the same thing as scream, shriek, croak (like a raven). He screamed above the crowd. But Jesus heard him, and Jesus healed him, and Jesus honored his faith.

Friends...I haven't been "shushed" by the crowds or told to be quiet by friends and family. It's been my own thoughts. It's been my own doubts. It's been my own shortcomings. But, this time...I cried all the more. I screamed. I shrieked. I may have even croaked like a raven.

I know Jesus hears me. I know Jesus is healing me. day...I pray to hear, "Go my sister, your faith has made you well."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Learning to Listen...

Good evening friends!

I just finished watching the weekly Made to Crave webcast a little while ago. Such meat! (No...I'm not talking about the edible kind.) While this book, the webcasts, devotions, my support group, etc. have all been extraordinarily resourceful along this journey...the ultimate change in me has taken place in learning to hear God's voice in those TRUTHFUL thoughts that fill my mind rather than the lies the enemy wants me to latch onto. And...let me tell you, I had my share of lies to work through this weekend. Here's a little peak...

My birthday was Friday. Months ago, I asked my daughter if she would make her famous chicken enchiladas for my birthday dinner. She was delighted and couldn't wait to lavish me with the one thing that she makes from scratch - to perfection! I couldn't wait. I've been living for these enchiladas for months. But...yes, there's a but here...I knew that God was whispering to me "while all things might be permissible for you to eat, all things are definitely not beneficial". I know...I know...I really do desire to please Him more than my taste buds. I really do want to know Him better than I know the ingredients in my food. I really do want my day to revolve around my sweet time of fellowship with my Savior than around the meals I'm going to eat (even though the enemy wanted me to feel deprived in not getting the enchiladas).

So, I had the displeasure of seeing the look on my daughter's face when I told her I needed to postpone the enchilada dinner for now. She looked so hurt. I almost changed my mind over the whole thing. But, God redirected my thoughts. Praise Him! I then shared with my sweet girl that her enchilada dinner has been THE thing I've been looking forward to about my birthday for months. That I've never had enchiladas taste as good as hers. But...there's that but again...I'm trying very hard to retrain my mind and my body to crave God more than food. I knew having the enchiladas in the house would cause me to succumb to temptation beyond my abilities to overcome right now. She was still disappointed, but we agreed to try the enchilada dinner a little later in the year when I'm feeling a little mentally stronger. I'm getting there, but I know my weakness is one accidental bite away, so I had to resist...this time.

So, we actually went out to eat instead. You might think that sounds ludicrous, but I actually surprised myself with the fact that I could go into a restaurant and make wise, low carb choices. I ate only those foods that were on my personal "permissible" list. And...I was so pleased with the small successes, as this was my first meal out since the first of the year.

Then...yesterday was my daughter's birthday. We promised her we'd take her out to eat, and she could pick the restaurant. Yes - another restaurant in the same weekend! I think I can...I think I can...I think I can... She ended up picking a spot that has THE best all you can eat bread - the melt in your mouth kind. Oh my heavens...just looking at it made me want to down the whole basket. (The enemy was right there cheering me on also!) As soon as the mouth watering began, the Lord spoke to my heart once again, "Does your mouth water for me that way? Do you want to devour my word like you do that bread?" Ouch! Friends, I'm still a work in progress. I'm still learning to crave God more. This has to be a daily CHOICE. But, He so sweetly reminded me, "Leah, you were made for more than this." Yes...I know. Boy, do I know. He saved me from a huge mistake. Once again.

I love this journey friends. I absolutely LOVE it. I love what He's teaching me. Sometimes, the lessons are difficult to learn, but...WOW...I feel and know that He's pleased with me. He loves me regardless of my size or what the scale says I weigh. But, I know He's tickled to see me gaining victories rather than pounds. All Glory goes to Him!

Speaking of pounds...I'm still dropping...I weighed Saturday and lost another 3 pounds last week. Total of 23 pounds now gone!!!! Woohoo!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And the WINNER is...

Thanks to all of you that participated in my 2nd annual birthday blog giveaway. It was a lot of fun for me to do again this year. I especially loved praying over each and every request submitted. What an honor and a privilege to go to the throne room on your behalf. I praised Him, as I prayed for you, and I KNOW that God inhabits the praises of His people!

Before I announce the winner, I want you to know that you've been prayed over specifically in regards to this giveaway AND prior to your entry even being randomly selected. I prayed that God would allow the person to win that He knew needed this for some reason or another. Maybe He wants you to read the book. Or maybe He knows you'll share it with the exact person He has in mind to read it. Or maybe you just need a little TLC in the form of the other two items. Only God truly knows. I wish I could give each of you something, because it made my day to simply have you participate. That said...the winner is...

Melanie - entry on 1/22 at 9:49 am

You go girl! Just email me your mailing address (, and I'll pop it in the mail to you tomorrow!

Thanks for the sweet comments and emails I've received about the Whittaker family (that I've written about yesterday and a few days ago). We had the privilege of praying with Cody and for his whole family this morning in our Connect Group (a/k/a Sunday School class) at church. was the most difficult day I've had at church in a long time. I think I literally cried a river. But, this I can assure you...they exhibit the faith that we read about in Hebrews 11:1. The kind of faith that is certain of what they hope for and do not see. This kind of faith challenges me daily in my own life. And...seeing it lived out in what has got to be the deepest of valleys to walk...whoa...humbling, moving, and most assuredly convicting. May the Author and Perfecter of my own faith continually reveal more of Himself to me each matter the cost. May all glory and praise be to Him alone! Maranatha!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mixed Bag of Emotions

Good evening bloggy friends!

No. I didn't almost forget to post today. I promise.'s been a busy day. Partly...I've been a mixed bag of emotions.

Yesterday turned out to be a wonderful birthday! I have so many sweet friends, and I truly felt most blessed yesterday! I also loved being able to pray over the prayer requests that have been posted in conjunction with my giveaway post. And...if you're up late reading this, you have less than an hour to go before the giveaway officially closes (see post right below this one). I'll announce the winner sometime tomorrow evening! I'm almost giddy about it personally...I can't wait to see who wins!

I've also been getting ready for my daughter's 14th birthday party. It's birthday central around here. I so remember this week 14 years ago. She was already 10 days late, but I really wanted her to have her own birthday, so I consented to being induced two days after my own birthday (rather than ON my birthday). My "little" 9 pound, 3 ounce bundle of joy hung in there too. I was secretly hoping she'd arrive on my birthday anyway...ssshhhh...don't tell her I said that.

But, aside from all the birthday festivities, I've shed lots and lots of tears since Thursday. Honestly...I'm having a tough time coping with the recent news from the Whittaker family. I shared a post from their blog a couple days ago, but the latest one that I read this morning caused a new outpouring of tears. Please read it when you get a chance, but grab your kleenex first. It will not only cause you to feel more grateful...I just bet it might challenge you a bit too. Click here to read more of Susana's story. I'm still grasping to find the right words to convey my feelings about all of this. My heart hurts. My eyes burn. But, my mouth continues to praise the God of the universe!

I also spent some time today with another family from our church. They just went through a grueling process with their 14-year-old daughter that has spina bifida. She broke her hip on Christmas Day. While this is tragic for any person, this is especially tragic for a child with spina bifida. But, their attitude astounds me. Their faith refreshes me. And...yet again...I find my mouth praising the God of the universe!

Lastly, I've been following the blog of another woman - my own age - that just suffered a massive stroke earlier this month. For more on Joanne's story, please click on the "Praying for Joanne" button on my sidebar to the right. I've been reading the updates posted by her friends and family. I've been praying for this sweet woman, that I've never met, as if she were a close friend. And...then I had to laugh at myself for a moment, because in Christ, we are ALL family. We hurt for each other, we laugh with each other, and we rejoice together. So, yet again...I find my mouth praising the God of the universe!

One who may not know this great and loving God that I intimately know won't understand how I can praise Him in the midst of such devastation. And...honestly...apart from Him, I don't have the capacity to do it either. But, He gives me the ability to those things that I otherwise can't - including offering up praise in the midst of difficult circumstances. As I type this, I'm reminded that even through my mixed bag of emotions...I'm to praise Him not FOR all things but IN all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV, 2010)"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

So, for today, this is me. Mixed bag that I am. But, still lovin' Sweet Jesus!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Giveaway Day is Here!

Good morning blog friends!!!

It's Friday! Woohoo! It also happens to be my 39th birthday. Yep...last one in those thankful thirties! Where has time gone?!

Like last year, I've decided to do another birthday giveaway! Nothing tickles me more than being able to bless someone else on this day, because God has blessed me beyond belief in my 39 years!'s giveaway includes a few of my favorite things:

1. Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick - This is a pretty new release by the lead pastor of one of the fastest growing churches in the US - Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. We actually had the privilege of visiting that church in August when we happened to be in town, and God blessed our socks off with Pastor Steven's message. So, when his new book came out a few months ago...I had to get it! WOW! It is amazing. If you already have the book or already read the book...please forward it to a friend (if you happen to be the winner). The message is too good not to share!

2. $10 Starbucks gift card - Think of me drinking my favorite: Skinny Hazelnut Latte - hold the whip! :-)

3. Mary Kay Vanilla Sugar Hand Cream - Doesn't the name just make you want to eat it up? But...promise me you won't do that. It's for the HANDS! :-)

You actually have 4 ways to enter today, and feel free to do all 4! Here's how it works:

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me how I can pray for you today. It would be my privilege, and I promise to do it!

2) Become a follower (see sidebar to the right). After doing so, come back and leave another comment saying you've done it! If you're already a follower, simply leave a comment (after you leave comment #1 above, of course) saying that you're following already.

3) Post and leave a link to this blog post either on your own blog or Facebook page and then come back and comment telling me that you've done so.

4) Lastly tweet about the giveaway on Twitter, including a link back here, and include my Twitter name @LeahSGillen so that I know you've done it and give you credit for another entry.

Honestly...if you don't have time but to do one of the above...I'd still love to have you participate. I just know some of you are as competitive as I'm am (ha! ha!) and will use all 4 entries! Am I right?

I will leave this giveaway open for comments through the 22nd and will come back and announce the randomly chose winner sometime the evening of the 23rd (my daughter's 14th birthday)! Busy weekend for us!

Thanks for sharing this special day with me here! Love you!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Praying Through Tears...


I really wish I could write an encouraging blog tonight. Or maybe something a little funny and lighthearted. Or - how about something to give you a little food for thought. The problem? I'm heartbroken.

We've been praying for months for a sweet family in our church that also happen to be missionaries to Haiti. Their precious 4-year-old daughter, Susana, was diagnosed with cancer in early in 2010. We learned to today that it appears God will be calling her home soon.

To read this latest update in their own words, click here.

As they put it...words fail me. I've never been one to be without words. But today I am. Please, I beg you, please pray for the Whittaker family. Pray they feel the arms of the Comforter surrouding them now like never before. Pray for sweet peace...the kind that passes our human understanding. Pray for their other daughter Isabela. I can't imagine the confusion and pain that her little life is experiencing as well. Continue to pray for healing and comfort for Susana. Please, just pray.

I'm honored to call you...friends!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Standing Alone

I can't recall the number of times I've taught my daughter to stand up for what she believes in...for the needy...for the broken...for right over wrong...for truth. I've taught her to never compromise who she is...who God says she is, as He is the ONLY One who determines her worth. I've cautioned that sometimes standing up for what's right means we have to stand alone. Do it anyway. I've shared that this can be a lonely road at times, but it exalts God, and He always blesses His faithful children! Always.

My daughter was given this opportunity to exalt God today.

I've always longed for my daughter to be in a private Christian school or to be home-schooled. I shutter to think of the influence she's surrounded by in public school. It was tough when I was going through school, but it's drastically different now. As a Christian, my daughter frequently meets opposition at school. There are lots of children that come from Christian families, but honestly - there is nothing in them that resembles Christ. Some chalk that up to be adolescence, puberty, and immaturity. Maybe so. But, I've always prayed...for as long as I can remember...that my sweet girl would be different. I prayed that she would not be a stereotypical teenager, that she would be bold in her faith, a missionary in the school, that she would be warm and loving to her friends, and obedient and respectful to her parents. I prayed that she would defy the odds and that she would remain in the palm of God's hand.

Yesterday, she came home from school and shared that it had to be one of the most awkward days ever. In the 8th grade, they are learning to debate and are using current events as some of those jumping off points to debate. In preparation for the debate that was to take place today, the teacher asked the students yesterday to go to one of three places in the room, depending on where they stood on the matter. Everyone got up to scatter to those areas, and my daughter immediately realized that she was the ONLY one standing in her group. Actually, ALL of the students went to the first group in the room - the one made popular by the media, by our culture, and by the masses. Nobody went to the second group. but, my daughter went to the third group...alone. She was shocked to discover that she would be debating the class today...alone.

After sharing all of this with us last night, she was afraid she couldn't handle it. She couldn't believe she was the only one in her class to believe that way. I told her that (1) she may not be the only one, but she was the only one brave enough to stand alone, and (2) even if she was the only it anyway!! We took the matter to prayer last night. I prayed for her again this morning. And...God responded. The debate went well. She was empowered, strong, not nervous, emotionally sound, and never waivered. You know why? She was never standing alone. God was with her the whole time...and, I'm sure He was quite pleased, as was this mama!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Continued Victory

Good evening blog friends!

I hate to be posting so late tonight, but it's just been one of those days...

As I type this, I'm sitting in front of the TV watching the Biggest Loser. That is honestly the only show I'm committed to watching on TV each week. I watch very little TV, in general, but I can't stand it when I have to miss the Biggest Loser. I love to watch these people go from defeat to victory - all within a matter of months. Often, their story could easily be my story. And...I've been experiencing a few of my own weight loss victories lately.

I've already shared about my 20 pound weight loss. I'm still riding that victory wagon these days. I'll weigh again "officially" on Saturday - maybe Friday - but, I've taken a few peaks already, and I like what I see. :-) But, you know what? The numbers don't rule me. Don't get me wrong...I like seeing the numbers drop, but I can't live by those numbers. As I've been going through Made to Crave with a great group of women, I've learned soooo much about the victories God gives me aside from the numbers.

1) Last week, I was sick...yucky sick. I ended up so run down towards the end of the week that I actually started running a fever. I really had no energy at night to do anything other than go to bed. In the past, feeling sick would cause me to abandon all good eating habits and only eat the foods that made me feel good. Not this time. I remained steady with my no sugar, low carb, no soft drinks, etc. new way of eating. God gave me victory.

2) By Saturday, my antibiotic had totally kicked in, my cough was gone, and I was feeling as good as new. We also had some dear friends come visit, and we had the best time together. Gatherings of this sort generally allow for overeating - heavy snacking - all in the name of fellowship. Not this time. I stayed with my eating plan. God gave me victory.

3) The past couple of days have been some of the worst I've had in awhile. Very difficult. Very stressful. All excellent reasons to "drown my sorrows" with a piece of cake or several cookies or even a banana split (bananas are fruit...right?!). While that may have been my course of action in the past...not this time. God gave me victory.

Friends...I'm learning that regardless of my emotional state - whether I'm extremely happy, extremely sad, angry, full of joy, sick, disappointed - my emotions don't control me. God is in complete control. As I learn to crave Him more each day, He gives me continued victory in this battle.

Remember the word that I shared in my January 1 post that I felt God revealed would be my theme, of sorts, for 2011? DELIVERANCE. I'm seeing evidence of that taking place in my life already. I can't wait to see what lies ahead in the days and weeks to come.

Oh one other fun thing to on this link and take a look at who made the Success Stories page on the Made to Crave website? You just might recognize the girl in pink at the bottom of the page. Continued victory. All Glory belongs to Him!

Monday, January 17, 2011

20 Pounds Gone!

Thank you friends for such an outpouring of encouragement and congratulations regarding the excellent news I received on Saturday morning. And...if you're hearing this for the first time and have no clue what I'm talking short,

I'VE LOST 20 POUNDS!!!!!!!

Yes, indeed! 20 excess pounds on this body of mine are GONE! I can't tell you how ecstatic I am about this, and let me just say...this is only the beginning. As I've said before, for the first time ever...I feel I am finally being delivered from this bondage. I say "being", because this is ongoing. This is not a one-time, wave a "magic wand", drink a special concoction, and call it "done" kind of thing. This is a process. And, from my history with processes, they often hurt...they are often difficult...but, they often bring the greatest victories!

I've had a couple of you ask me how I'm doing this and what plan I'm following. That's actually not easy to answer. I wish I could say I signed up for "such and such" plan, and I'm on Day ____, but that's not the case this time. I believe there are some wonderful programs available, but in all honesty...I've done so many that this has to go deeper than that. This is between God and me, and because I've "failed" on said plans many time before, I'm letting Him direct me exclusively on this. So, here's a brief synopsis that's led to the 20 pound loss:

1. In November, I was diagnosed with some health problems - multiple, actually.

2. In December, I had surgery to correct one of them, and the other two miraculously "disappeared". Seriously.

3. Also in December, God started revealing to me during our quiet times together that 2011 was going to bring something significant in my life: DELIVERANCE. In my heart, I knew that to was to include deliverance from my weight problem.

4. Towards the end of December, God started dramatically changing my eating habits. Friends, I know this was a God thing, because it was completely outside of my "normal" habits.

5. In early January, I participated in a Daniel Fast and began eating only fruits, veggies, and beans. I fasted from meat, dairy, and sugar and totally placed my physical body in subjection to God's Holy Spirit. I had actually planned a "no food fast", but God wouldn't let me do that this time. Funny thing is...I've done several no food fasts successfully, but I firmly believe that God was teaching me something during this fast that included food!

6. God also revealed to me in January that I'm to give up sugar. Not just during a fast, but entirely. And I have. I'm not about to say that I'll never eat sugar again, but for now - it's gone!

7. I've given up sodas - even the diet ones. I eat very few carbs, and those that I do eat are not of the refined type.

8. Exercise is not yet part of my plan but will be VERY soon.

9. Prayer and Bible STUDY (real STUDY) are my cornerstones, and

10. Reading Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst and journeying through MTC with a group of ladies that God has allowed me to join up with has provided encouragement beyond explanation.

There you have it. That's the "plan". Honestly, the only reason I feel I've been successful up to this point is because...each day, I have to die to self...each day, I have to let God take control of my food choices, and each day, I choose to crave God more than food. It's a choice friends. And, God has undeniably honored that choice!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Seven for Sunday

Happy Sunday blog friends!

That's right...Sunday brings round two of my "Seven for Sunday" lists.

Can I just say that I love my iPod? I got it for Christmas in 2009, and it's definitely one of my favorite electronic toys. I've loaded it up mostly with some of my favorite praise and worship songs or Christian pop with a few other things mixed in. You'll often find me blogging to the tunes of my iPod, because it helps to put me in the mood to think or attempt to be spiritually creative. Music has always been one of the ways I hear from God most clearly. So...for today's Seven for Sunday, I thought I'd share a list of 7 of my favorite titles I'm currently listening to A LOT on my iPod. If you're ever looking for some amazing praise and worship tunes, maybe this short list will give you a few ideas.

7 Amazing Tunes on My iPod:
1. Overcome by New Life Worship
2. I Stand Amazed by Aaron Keyes
3. How He Loves by the David Crowder Band
4. A Mighty Fortress by Christy Nockels
5. Nothing But the Blood by Matt Redman
6. Your Great Name by The People's Church
7. To Know You - by Casting Crowns

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Scripture Memory Verse 2

Happy Saturday blog friends! Guess what today is? You got it - it's January 15, meaning it's time for us to choose our next scripture memory verse. For more information, read my January 1 post!

Before we post our 2nd verse for 2011, how's it going so far? How did you do with your first verse? If it was too long and more difficult to memorize, you might choose a shorter one this time. Consistency is key friends...not the length of the verse. If you found you had it memorized in no time at all, then maybe you might like a little more of a challenge. I just love that we're doing this together. I know that a LOT of you told me you were also doing this through Beth Moore's Living Proof blog. Woohoo! I'm so tickled to hear that! I'd love to know what verse you're doing on Siesta Beth's site too, but if you only want to post once - no biggie! I'm just curious what verses everyone's doing.

The verse I'm choosing this month literally jumped out at me at the beginning of the month! I can't get away from it, so I'm sensing it's the one God wants me tackle for this second half of the month. If you haven't chosen a verse yet or feel the Lord nudging you towards a certain verse, you're more than welcome to join me with this one. Be sure to write it down right away in your spiral, notebook, journal, or wherever you're keeping up with your verses. Then...come back and post a comment here with your first name, city & state, the verse, reference, and translation. we go...

Asheville, NC

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age...

Titus 2:11-12 NASB

Friday, January 14, 2011

God is Still Answering...

Happy Friday Bloggy Friends!

I pray it's been a great day for you, and you're ready for an amazing weekend!

This post will be a little different than most, but I just had to share this with you, my sweet blog friends. A little over 18 months ago, I wrote a post about how God answered BIG TIME for my brother and his wife during an adoption process they experienced. If you never read that post (or don't remember it), please click HERE to refresh your memory.

OK...memory refreshed? Great! As I mentioned in that post, GOD ANSWERED...

Well, friends...God is STILL answering prayers. Here's little Jonah now ("officially" their son, by the way). Isn't God GREAT?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Gave Up!

Astronauts in space could have heard me as I screamed in the shower this morning, "I give up!" (Except for the small fact that my voice is practically gone.) Enough is enough. Last night was the straw that broke the camel's back. I've been suffering with what medical professionals deem "the crud" for 10 days now! Heavy congestion, coughing that won't quit, chills, headache, and a side that hurts from all the coughing. Now...before I go any further, let me just say I'm not typically "wimpy" when I'm sick. I'm a pretty tough cookie with a high pain tolerance and will generally self-medicate and self-diagnose. I've found quite the OTC remedy that will cure just about any upper respiratory ailment and pride myself in the fact that I'm not often knocked down for long (see the "pride" word...yep, it goeth before a fall).

So, when I woke this morning (after having been awake most of the night), and I actually felt worse...well, let's just say this girl wasn't gone take it anymore! I didn't care if several of our roads still had ice on them, and it was 18 degrees outside this morning. I didn't care if my car was covered in a new layer of snow that fell last night and required a bit of "attention" before heading out. I didn't care if my gas tank was near empty...I was going to the walk-in clinic at my doctor's office and nobody was going to stop me! As I was making all of these great plans from under the warmth of the my hot shower, I heard a gentle whisper in my spirit...

"Are you done yet?"

Oh no. Not again.

"Daughter, are you done trying to control everything?"

Yep - here we go again. That control word. I knew a lesson was coming out of this one. I could almost see God smiling as soon as I figured it out. Once again, I tried to take matters into my own hands for a little bit too long. I tried to control everything to the point of making myself miserable and rendered virtually ineffective. God could have taken care of this long before now if I'd just taken my own hands off of it. This morning, God used the professionals in my doctor's office to help with the healing process. And...they so gently reminded me that I was actually a pretty sick kiddo.

So, once again...I gave up! And...once again...God smiled!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Was Made for More Than This!

I shared the other day that I was thrilled to be participating with a group of gals in a 21-day journey following Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Made to Crave. Part of the journey involves reading and commenting on some daily devotions relating to the principles she teaches in the book. Today's topic was an extremely sensitive topic for me, because I've had to learn it first-hand, the hard way. It's a topic that I actually speak on at women's events.'s a topic that part of me still needs to be reminded of every now and then. Allow me to share a snippet of today's devotion with you...

"We were made for more! More than this failure … more than this cycle … more than being ruled by our taste buds, body image, rationalizations, and guilt. We were made for victory. Sometimes we just have to find our way to that truth."

For me...I KNOW...I really KNOW that I'm made for more than "this". I'm made for more than mediocrity...made for more than settling with where I'm at on my health journey...made for more than the shame I feel every time I emotionally eat...made for more than failure at diets...made for more than feeling disgust each time I step on the scale. Yes - I'm made for more than this. So, why don't I live that way sometimes? Simply put...I'm putting more stock in my own negative thoughts than in the truth of God's Word. I'm allowing past regrets to dictate my todays and possibly my tomorrows. So, how do we stop that vicious cycle?

Abide in the truth of God's word. Your mind must be transformed by it (Romans 12:2). Who does He say you are...not who do you say you are? Friends...God's plans are not our plans, but his plans are not harmful...rather quite the opposite. In Jeremiah, we can know that God's plans are actually plans to give us a future and a HOPE! He has no plans of ever abandoning us. Romans 8 teaches that "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us". That kind of hope screams..."YES, you were made for more than this!"

I went out on a limb...a limb of faith, so to speak...and posted on my blog last week that yes, I'm on a weight loss journey again. But...this's really about so much more than the weight loss. Yes, I've shed some pounds, actually pretty significant pounds in just a few weeks. But, I'm not even going to share that total just yet, because God is doing a greater work in me than just trimming fat. He's trimming lies I've believed for years. My desire, my yearning, my craving for Him happens to be stronger than it's ever been. And...I think, actually I know, that this is one craving that He's happy to see me indulge in. As a result, He'll take care of the pounds.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wait and Become...

Competitive. Ambitious. Driven. Competitive. Motivated. Determined. Competitive. Passionate. Emotional. Competitive. Some words that define me...competitive being the common denominator in this grouping. Yes, I'm very competitive. Just ask my family, and they'll back me up on that one. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not competitive in the bloodthirsty sort of way - just in the spirited, ready for action sort of way. As a matter of fact, whenever I have what I deem to be a "brilliant" idea that I'm ready to run with, I tend to work hard at it with all gusto until I either (1) succeed, or (2) burn out while waiting to succeed. Patience is not my virtue, in all honesty. But, I'm working on that.

Lately, I feel like my competition has been ME! I'm constantly competing against me for time, energy, emotion, creativity, etc. Part of me wants to go, go, go all the time. The other part says "slow down, girl". This past summer was, lets just say...challenging. It was full of wonderful, amazing things...a mission trip to Africa, a new job, a women's speaking conference to name a few. And each of these things gave me ideas that I just NEW I had to get started at right away. I was anxious, ready for action...a bit spirited. Then...I waited. Nothing. I waited a little longer. Still nothing. Maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe God was trying to tell me "no". I was ready! But, apparently God had other plans that produced a bit of delay. Then I was reminded of one of the most beautiful things I learned this summer from speaker, writer, and all around amazing woman of God, Angela Thomas. As she so eloquently shared, "While waiting, BECOME the woman who's ready when He says NOW!"

WOW! Let that resonate for a minute...

"While waiting, BECOME the woman (or man) who's ready when He says NOW!"

Sometimes, the miracle occurs during the process. Sometimes God's light is brighter while waiting. The problem comes when we don't slow down long enough to see Him shining or listen to Him speaking or feel His nudging and direction. Then, we miss Him all together.

Friends, I challenge you..."while waiting, become the woman (or man or child) who's ready when He says now!"

If waiting for a new job...become that employee...

If waiting for your house to sell...become that home closer...

If waiting for a new baby...become that new parent...

If waiting for a healing...become that healed person...

If waiting for a prodigal...become that forgiving family member...

If waiting for a miracle...become that miracle recipient...

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 NLT

Monday, January 10, 2011

Made to Crave

I'm so stinkin' excited! I've been asked to participate in a 21-day journey, beginning today. A group of us are reading, studying, and prayerfully living out the principles taught in Made to Crave, the new book by Proverbs 31 President, Lysa TerKeurst! Blog friends, I believe with every ounce of sincerity and faith I can muster that this book is going to be a life-changer. Not another book that elicits a little temporary glee and short-term lifestyle change but something much deeper for those really wanting to change. The overwhelming support for the book has already been very exciting to see. Additionally, there are a wealth of resources to help with the journey on the Made to Crave website, including a live webcast teaching by Lysa at 8:00 pm EST tonight!

For me personally, this book has been helping me discover my "want to" in healthy eating and weight loss. I know how to eat properly. I know how to exercise. I know how to drink lots of water and take vitamins. I've studied nutrition so much, that I'm just waiting on someone to award me an honorary degree. While all of these things are good and generally honorable and virtually necessary when attempting to lose weight or get into shape, they are simply powerless without a "want to". However, Made to Crave is not talking about the shallow, short lasting desires to get into your thin jeans or show up skinny at your class reunion. It's not even talking about your desire to finally have a normal cholesterol exam. This is much, much deeper than that. We're all made to crave something...and that craving must be met by God, and God alone.

I'll post again at the end of the 21-day journey (and maybe sometime in between) to let you know how God ends up using these 3 weeks! I anticipate glory stories in the making!

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Seven for Sunday

Today's post will be a little different. For those of you that have been following my blog for quite awhile, then you may remember the day I would post LISTS...lists of this, that, and the other. I would list my favorite Bible books, or 10 random facts about me, my favorite bloggers, etc. I quit doing them, because I thought there really wasn't a lot of meat to them and they were really focused on getting to know me better (and this is not supposed to be all about me)! But, since those days, I've heard several times that the lists are missed. People apparently appreciated getting deeper peeks into my life...what wires me, what I like, what I don't like, my favorite books...shocking, but okay. So, for a season (not quite sure how long), I'll resume blog list making on Sundays, but I'm just going to stick to lists of 7. It's my favorite number. It's God's number signifying completion, and perfection. And seven starts with an S, so alliteratively - it sounds good paired with Sunday. Ha! I know, I need to get a literary life. :-)

That said, today's "Seven for Sunday" group is a list of 7 spiritual sisters that I love doing life with! These aren't necessarily my top 7 (so, please, please, please don't get your feelings hurt if you're not included). These are just 7 precious Jesus girls that have impacted my life in various and significant ways. As a matter of fact, I'm a complete unknown to a few of these gals...I just follow them from afar, but oh...meeting them in person would be nothing short of delightful! Please God? All of these precious sisters have websites or blog addresses, so I've hyperlinked their name to link it up as well. Go check them out when you get a chance! May you be as blessed by these women as I've been!

In alphabetical order by first name...

7 Spiritual Sisters that I Adore:

Angela Thomas - She makes me laugh and cry at the same time and taught me that God can do extraordinary things with ordinary people.
Beth Moore - My spiritual mama! When I grow up, I want to be just like this lady! Her biblical knowledge blows my mind and continually challenges me! It would be nothing short of epic to be able to spend some time with this sweetie in person someday. But, we've always got eternity!
Carol Davis - Chief encourager! Always faithful to pray. God crossed our paths in very direct ways at His appointed time, and my life has been beautifully changed, as a result.
Kandi Hampson - A true gem and one tough lady! I've known her longer than any other gal on this list. She journeyed with me during the darkest days of my life, and her prayers carried me through to the other side. Would never have made it through without her!
Jill Toth - She opened my eyes to the world-wide orphan epidemic. She not only talks about it - she's doing something about it! A true hero in the faith!
Lorie Newman - My sweet friend and accountability partner. Always faithful to speak truth in love and will drop everything to pray when asked. Mom of 7 (2 adopted internationally). A real-life superwoman!
Melanie Dorsey - Another precious saint that I've never had the privilege of meeting in the flesh just yet. Her faith before, during, and after the death of her precious son, Andrew, in December of 2009 was nothing short miraculous! I've learned so much from this spiritual giant!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

This is One Contest I Want to Win BADLY!

I know I've already posted today - my 8th consecutive daily post out of a planned 40! So, why am I here again...twice on the same day you may ask? Well, simply put...I'm here because of CHARLIE and APRIL. Sure enough...Charlie and April caused me to come back again tonight and write some more. Well, those girls AND the fantastic giveaway they're offering. This one is for a blog makeover! know what? I need one! Allow me to elaborate...

I'm 38-years-old (for a few more weeks, that is), and I'm a passionate Jesus girl! I'm the wife of the most precious man in the world and the mother of a dahling teenage girl - both have captured my heart for life! I work full-time, speak part-time, "play makeup" with some fun pink ladies part-time, write in my spare time, think about Africa all the time, and hang out with girlfriends, and we have a BIG time! On top of that, I'm passionate about God and His Word and "doing life" with the people whose paths are crossed with mine! This blog is simply an expression of ALL of that! It's a place to share, to vent (a little), to confess, to encourage, to love, to laugh, and prayerfully...TO BLESS! I want this to be a place a know the kind, where you can hopefully stop in a get a refreshing drink and then can move on with the rest of your day. Above all...I want to be real with you, to be authentic about this journey called life that we're all on together. And...I want it to be a place where we can CONNECT! I love that about the blogging community most of all.

Hence, that's why I need a blog makeover. I want you to keep coming back. I don't want you to tire of looking at the same background over and over and over and get the idea. I want it to look refreshing, fun, aesthetically pleasing to the eye! But, you know what? I have no knowledge of how to do my own redesign, no time to do it even if I did, no spare dough to pay somebody to do it at the moment, and it would be the best birthday present EVAH for my final year in the thankful thirties! :-)

Honestly, I blog because I love to write. I blog because I love people and the connections I've made here. And...I'll keep blogging to share the love of Christ and the amazing way he's taken my messed up life and redeemed it for His glory! And...I'll keep on doing it with my same old background. But, wouldn't it just be the SWEETEST to win this contest? Yep...I tend to agree!

Saturday Morning Paradise...

I love Saturdays...especially when they're spent from the comforts of my own home. Today has begun perfectly! Here's a glimpse...

God awakened me. Not the alarm clock.

I did a few of my normal morning routines...potty. scale. drink. TMI? Ha!

Then...I opened one of the blinds in the bedroom, and God's glorious morning light shown through. The sun's rays exploded on my face as I climbed back into bed and soaked in the warmth from the light He produces.

I put in the earbuds to my ipod and loaded up my favorite praise and worship tunes and simply sat back with a huge smile upon my face as I drank in thoughts of my great God. My truly magnificient, wonderful, amazingly good, merciful, compassionate, loving God.

With my spirit now in check, I opened His Word and read, studied, chewed on, and swallowed the stories of old that give me hope for today. I never tire of reading God's glory revealed through the miraculous pregnancy he gave Abraham and Sarah in their old ages of 100 and 90, respectively. I read that story every year, and each year...I'm reminded that NOTHING...NOTHING...NOTHING is impossible with the God of the universe.

I continue studying His Word a little longer, allowing the words to penetrate my heart, mind, and soul. Then, I return to the music on my ipod. God speaks to people in different ways, and there are certain avenues that create an atmosphere that allow His children to hear from Him greater than in other settings. That's how I am with my praise music. He often speaks to me through song. Today is no exception.

As He speaks to me this morning, I start whispering back to Him. Sometimes, my whispers get a little louder, but's just a whisper this morning. It's not always like this, but there are days that the sheer presence of God surrounding me can cause nothing more than a whisper to come from my lips. He overwhelms a good way!

I continue speaking to Him. He speaks back. Not audibly...just in the deep recesses of my spirit in a silent language that belongs only to Him and me. This will continue throughout the day, but nothing as sweetly as our early morning "talks".

I am so full...spiritually speaking. This is simply a little piece of paradise to me. My Saturday morning paradise.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Africans are Praying for Me!

Good evening bloggy friends!

I just realized that I posted several days ago that I'm usually a morning blogger with an occasional evening post or two. Well!!!!! I guess I just proved that's NOT the case this week. I'd love to get back into my morning blog routine, but I can't seem to get there right now. Spending lots of time with Jesus these days! So...bear with me!

I was so excited to get a sweet email from a friend of mine in Africa a couple of days ago - Pastor David - the dad of the one and only Baby Grace. THE baby that has been the center of many of my blog posts since June. They're back in Liberia after having spent several months here in the states with their miracle baby. I'm not going to repeat that whole story here, but if you're new to my blog...go back and read some of the prior posts about this adventure! It'll knock your socks off to see how amazing God truly has been throughout this journey!

Anyway...I just had to tell you THE MOST COOLEST (I know...I know...that's not grammatically correct) thing he shared with me in the email. He said that his family and other African friends of theirs are praying for me! This was not just a blanket "we're praying for you" statement. They are praying over a VERY SPECIFIC thing I shared with them while they were visiting with me in my home in NC. Friends, I was brought to tears when I read that. I shared a prayer request very near and dear to my heart while they were here in November. So near and dear that I'm not really ready to share it on my blog - maybe sometime later this year. Anyway, they were ecstatic that they could do this for me. They agreed to pray then, and they've not forgotten. They told me they have nothing else to offer, but they CAN and WILL pray! They live in a poverty-stricken nation. They've seen depravity at it's worst. But, they know the same miracle-working God I know, and they know that prayer works! They've been continually praying over this request, and they are just as committed to praying for it as they were for the healing for their daughter. And...I witnessed first-hand what those prayers led to. I'm ecstatic! Knowing that my Christian brothers and sisters in Africa are praying for me blesses me more than you can imagine!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Tried Not to Write This...

I really did. I really tried not to write this post. Every single year...I talk about this, write about this, agonize over this. I've been doing everything I can to avoid talking about it again at the beginning of this year. I feel like if I mention it - it sounds sort of resolution-like (and...I'm not a fan of those things). But, I've been praying for God to lead to me to those posts that I'm supposed to write during this 40 day blog writing journey, and 6 days into this, I realized I can't escape it any longer. The writing is on the wall. So, here we go...

I'm working on weight loss...STILL!

Ugh! Why do I constantly have to work on this? Why can't I just be done with it and be at my goal weight? Why do I have to start out each New Year exasperated over the fact that I'm still within 10-15 pounds of where I was last year. And, for me, 10-15 pounds is a drop in the bucket for what I want to lose.

Blog friends...I'm not writing to say that I'll achieve my goal weight in 2011. I'm not even writing to say I'm going to increase my level of exercise or run a 5K or drink 64 ounces of water a day. I'm certainly not writing to say this is my New Year's resolution. So, what am I writing to say?

I am more confident than I've ever been in my life that success at defeating this GIANT in my life will happen in 2011!

There, I said it. It's not that I've got some grandiose Biggest Loser style plan to drop the pounds and get fit. So, what's the difference? I honestly feel that I'm so committed to following after Jesus with all my heart, that I know it will please Him for me to succeed at this. But, He'll get all the glory, because I can do none of it without Him. I'm choosing to put Him let Him seek His be obedient with His help. I'll maybe share more about this - maybe towards the end of the month. But, for now, this is where I'm at, and I CRAVE your prayers more than I crave food! That is truth sweet friends!

I tried not write this post, because I didn't want to feel accountable to something in which I felt I had no control over the outcome. And...putting something in writing on the world wide web for who knows how many people to read...well, that's just a bit daunting. But, you know what? That's not evidence of my faith. My faith knows differently, believes differently, and therefore had to respond differently.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Family Devotions

I'm curious...what does your family devotion time look like? Do you even have a family devotion time? If so, is it everyday or just a few times a week? I'm seriously curious what you do as a family (for devotions, that is)? So, leave a comment or drop me a message via Facebook, Twitter, email, space shuttle, whatever...

Can I be very transparent with you? This is an area that we've failed at miserably in the past. And...I mean miserably. We've discussed God and His Word quite often and in various devotional settings but nothing consistently. It's my heart's desire that this change in 2011.

Last year, my prayer group of gals that I meet with weekly read through and discussed the One Year Bible together. If you haven't ever done a Bible reading program with this particular Bible, I highly recommend it. It's chronological, in the way events unfolded historically, and the commentary contained within is fabulous! So, guess what? You guessed it! We're doing that as a family this year, and we're not only reading it daily in our own quiet time, but we're coming back together to discuss what we've read...point out new and interesting things we've never noticed before, etc.

If you're's not too late to start. It's really never to late start. Just jump in whenever you get your Bible and start on that day's reading. As you honor God in this way, He'll bless your socks off!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Became That Girl...

Growing up, I was quite shy. Those that know me now might laugh a little at that statement. But, trust me. I truly was very shy. Allow me to paint a picture for you...

I was the teacher's pet. I was the spelling bee winner. I was the friend that the other parent's didn't mind their children having around. I kept my room clean. I seldom got in trouble. I was the sibling that received maybe one spanking for every 50 my brother and sister got. I was the one always prepared. I memorized all my scripture verses for Sunday School. I had friends from all circles - poor, rich, popular, geeky, known, unknown, smart, not quite as get the picture? It was nothing I did. I was just wired that way. And...possibly being a bit timid and afraid of getting in trouble didn't hurt. This was me...

In high school, my timidity started to drift a bit. I actually got a bit of a backbone, and nothing unnerved me more than seeing others picked on. I developed a bit of a "voice" and didn't mind speaking truth - when it needed to be spoken. But, I was still nothing like THOSE girls. The ones that I could be their friend in front of them but couldn't stand who they were internally. They only cared about the material. They judged other teens on what type of house they lived in, what type of cars their parents drove, and what type of clothing they wore. They were two-faced. As I mentioned previously, I had friends in all circles - including this one.

The more vocal and less shy I became, ironically, the more fleshly and false I grew to be. I found myself being one person when in this circle and somebody completely different in another. I found that while I still didn't do anything really mouth became a weapon. I wound up gossipping one day about a friend to another "friend". words got back to my friend. As surely as I sit here today, I can still hear the words that she spoke to me when she learned I had been talking about her behind her back, "Leah, I thought you were different. I now see you're like all the others."

Ouch. I became THAT girl...

Those words wounded me, and they needed to. I'll never forget them as long as I live. I wanted to scream, "Nooooooo...that's not who I am!" But, it was too late. I was a fake.

This incident vividly came back to my mind today. I'm praying with all sincerity for God to bring me to a place of true authenticity. I don't want to ever pretend to be somebody I'm not or to feel something I don't. I desire authenticity in my relationship with Him above all. I've prayed for Him to reveal any element of falseness within me and continue refining me through the Refiner's fire! Sometimes, this is tough to go through. But...oh so very necessary! I long to be His girl. I don't ever want to go back to being THAT girl.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Open Hands

I want Him to have it all. Really I do. Why do I continually try to hold onto those "things" that I feel I can't live without? I desire above all else authenticity in my relationship with Him and with others. Being controlled by things (material, emotional, physical) often prevents that from taking place. I'm learning. Slowly. But, I'm learning. He continues to strip more and more of me away from me, so that HE becomes first place. My desire to serve Him consumes me. God, please help me as I continually "die to self" in order to be of earthly good to you. Continue to teach me how to live my life with open hands.

This is my prayer...

Open Hands by Matt Papa. To watch on YouTube, click HERE

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What's Your Name?

Allow me to share a brief snippet of a message that I had the privilege of sharing multiple times with several groups of people in 2010. God has really blown me away at how He's used this story to reach so many. I pray it blesses you as well...

My name hasn't always been Leah. It used to be Julie. Yep. Hang with me for just a minute here. As a matter of fact, I went by the name Julie...for a WHOLE DAY, in kindergarten. Yes I did! Now, I guess this needs a little explanation.

When I was a little girl, my parents shared with me that they almost named me Julie Diane instead of the name they ended up giving me at birth...Leah Kristen. I was simply devastated to learn that I almost had the most glamorous name my little ears had ever heard at that time...Julie Diane. Instead...I was Leah Kristen. Boooorrrring. I just didn't like my name...couldn't stand it at that time actually. fine Kindergarten day, we had a new girl introduced to the class. Throughout the day, we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to her, and when we were all alone in the "puppet center" together, I shared my name with her...Julie Diane! I sure did. I lied right then and there, and I actually got away with it - for the rest of the day! The charade ended, however, when the teacher took role the next morning, and Julie Diane didn't exist.

Did you know that many years ago, in the land of Canann - the Promised Land - in the time of the Judges, there was another person that called himself by a different name? To set the stage a bit, Joshua had just led God's people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. in the past...God's people chose to disobey Him again. When obedient, God gave them favor. When they disobeyed, God's hand of favor was lifted. If you look in Chapter 6 of the book of Judges, we get to know a bit more about Gideon, a great hero of the faith. God's chosen people, the Israelites, had just beeen ravaged by the Midianites. The Israelites, once again, cried to God for mercy, and God was once again about to pour out mercy on them. He even had His battle leader already hand-picked. But, this was not just any battle leader...this was Gideon, a simple wheat thresher. What's fascinating to me about this story comes in the following passage from Judges, chapter 6, verses 12 thru 16:

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon (the simple wheat thresher), he said, "The Lord is with you, MIGHTY WARRIOR."

"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."

The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"

"But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."

The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."

God saw Gideon as He was making Him - into a mighty warrier. You see, in the very next chapter, God uses Gideon to totally defeat the Midianites. Gideon had a different name for himself - weak, the least, a simple wheat thresher. But God turned Gideon's name of weakness into strength.

What name has God given you that you have yet to discover or take hold of? What name have you placed upon yourself that has crippled you? Are you pretending - like "Julie Diane" did that day many years ago? Are you living below the name that God has called you? Or - are you choosing to walk by faith with your new name?

For me, one of my names used to be "Abandoned". I took on that name when my parents separated when I was eleven-years-old and even later when my husband left our marriage of over ten years. That was my name. Until God...

God revealed some of His names for me...Loved, Chosen, Princess, and even Beautiful. And...He reminded me in Deuteronomy 31:6 and again in Hebrews 13:4 that He will NEVER leave or forsake me. My name could no longer be Abandoned.

I now love the name my parents gave me at birth, and I love the names God has given me. Those are the names I go by now. And you? What is your name?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Scripture Memory Verse 1

Happy New Year bloggy friends!

WOW! 2011 is here! Can you believe it? On top of that, my 40-day blogging journey begins today. As I wrote about previously, I'll be blogging for 40 consecutive days and would LOVE to have you following along on this journey with me. I make no promises about writing inspirational, thought-provoking blogs that keep you panting with excitement until you can read the next one (oh...that would be a dream!). However, I do promise to be consistently on here for 40 days and to honestly share whatever God puts on my heart to share. And...I pray that at the end of the 40 days, you will have been challenged, inspired, and find yourself walking closer with Christ! I typically try to have my posts ready for early morning, but I can't promise that will be the case everyday (hence - yesterday's post at 11:45 pm).

Additionally, I mentioned in my Getting Ready post that I'd be participating with Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Verse Team again this year. For more information, read that post by clicking HERE first. Friends, this is what it's all about for me...hiding God's Word in our hearts. To know Him more, we must Know his Word better. What better way to know His Word than to memorize it!

I'm copying Beth Moore's format here, but for those of you that desire to participate along with me in this scripture memory verse are the "rules".

1. On the 1st and 15th of each month, we will choose (or be led to) a new verse to memorize. Please use a verse that you don't already know by heart - that's not much of a challenge is it?
2. Write it on an index card, or better yet - pick up one of those spiral bound index card packs. Then, all of your verses will be self-contained and easy for you to keep together and continue to recite as the year goes along.
3. Come here on the 1st and 15th of each month and leave a comment stating the following things: your first name, the city & state you're from, type out your verse, the scripture reference, and the version you've chosen for this verse. This is an accountability measure - we all need to be held accountable or we tend to "quit" things a little easier - right? Just think - at the end of 2011, you'll have 24 verses memorized.
4. You are always welcome to use my verse if you're having trouble coming up with one for the month, but ask God to help you find THE verse He wants you to memorize. we go...

I believe the WORD that God has given me for 2011 is deliverance! I believe it will be a year full of deliverance. I'll blog about the details of that more as it unfolds, but I'm so stinkin' excited about what this year holds that I can hardly contain my excitement! So, I asked God to lead me to a verse that reflects this deliverance "theme", and He did indeed! Being the first to "report in",

Asheville, NC

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 32:7 NIV

OK - from those of you that choose to participate (I hope that's lots of you), let's hear your verses! I'm so excited to start this journey with you!