Wednesday, January 30, 2008

She Falls, He Gets Her Up, She Writes, SHE SPEAKS

"Lelia, I didn't know you were a Christian!"

This is what my friend and co-worker Deb told me at my wedding reception in the summer of '99. Basing her revelation on what was sung and said in my wedding, she was excited to discover I was her quiet sister in Christ. I was equally shocked for I've been a Christian since second grade when I asked Jesus into my life on the playground led in prayer by Miss E'Lise Christensen. Twenty-two years saved so what part of Jesus didn't Deb see in my life?

Deb's comment didn't leave my mind anytime soon. I had worked 40 hours a week with this woman for a year. I was aware of what she believed about Jesus. I knew that all of her activities centered on Him. I knew that she loved Him passionately and I knew of her reputation of being a woman of God. So what if I lived with Gene before we got married and had two kids out of wedlock ? So I never told any of my co-workers about Him. I would've invited them to church like Deb did if I faithfully attended one. I still loved Jesus.

When life settled back into place after our honeymoon, I thought more about Deb's words spoken in shock to find out I loved Jesus. It really bothered me and so I opened my Bible and read

1 John 1:5-7

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

God's own words changed my heart and my life. I now try to live a life that daily speaks love for Jesus. A life that's on fire to share about the One that saved me from the pits of hell. My walk with Jesus isn't something I take for granted anymore. My life now tries to reflect what I believe and in Who I believe. I crave Him and want others to have Him too.

In God's own timing He's taken me from writing in the comfort of my home to the jailhouse downtown to share with women what He's done and is doing in my life. He's wiped my tears when I've seen tough acting women behind bars with rap sheets as long as their tattoo-covered arms break down in tears after reading something I've written and ask me to tell them more about the Saviour I write and talk about.

In His own timing, He has graduated me from writing in my journal to writing poems to stories, from stories to blogging and daily sharing about His awesome ways with old friends and new blogging buddies. I point to Him when I'm told I should get published and accept the desire He has placed in my heart to write a book. He knows that whatever I do, say or write to Him be all the glory. I have tried writing solo and all I end up with is a lot of frustration and a blank computer screen.

So daily I have to acknowledge that the gift of writing He has blessed me with is just that...HIS gift. I have humbly laid this gift at the foot of His cross and promised Him that I will use it to glorify Him. It blows me off the top of Calvary as I kneel, soaked in tears of thanksgiving trying to grasp that He actually wants to use a woman with a past like mine to draw others to Him. I am so unusable, but yet by the hands of my Redeemer I am a new creation ready, willing and able to be used by her King. A creation that wants to encourage other woman to seek Him, love Him and never turn away from their True Love. A woman that when she speaks it's not Lelia Chealey they hear, but God's grace, mercy and hope that fill their ears and hearts instead.

By faith, I keep walking through the doors only He can kick open. I walk over His holy threshold with trust, amazement and obedience not having any idea what lies before me. This year alone through the world's eyes, I should have thrown the towel in on Him. Pregnant teen daughter, teen son in trouble with the law, financial strain, one thing after the other, but yet, I trust. I follow, I cry, I yell, I love Him and I lean on Him. I write and talk about Him and I watch as He throws the towel in for me on my enemy, who by God's grace cannot take me down.

I'm sharing all of this because I believe the next door opening for me is to attend the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks conference in June in North Carolina and learn more about the direction God is pointing me in. This is a conference that is led by godly women ready to share with other women the gifts that God has entrusted to them. Gifts of speaking, writing, blogging and how to lead a women's ministry. Gifts to raise up young girls ages 12-17 years old that desire to serve the Lord. This teachable, hungry, heart wants to learn from the ones God has chosen to put this conference together.
"I am very passionate about this conference for speakers, writers and women’s ministry leaders because I’ve experienced first hand the amazing things God does with the ladies that attend. "
~Lysa TerKeurst~
President/Founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Financially there's no way possible I can attend this conference. I can barely afford the gas to drive to work so asking my husband to buy a plane ticket to NC would make him laugh. My van in the shop as I type, bills that need to be paid and diapers to buy for a granddaughter due to arrive in the Spring are just a few of what is before me. If you've read my blog you know the story about my couch from God so you know I have no doubt in my Saviour's ability to provide for the desires of my heart. Even though finances can be tough, He always provides for our needs.

There is a scholarship opportunity that if it is God's will, I will be chosen to receive it and will praise Him. If He has someone else chosen to receive it then I will praise Him. I believe in my heart that He wants me to attend this conference and I'm excited about the moment He clues me in on how He's going to get me from Nebraska to North Carolina this summer.

So unknown to me of the details of my travel, I await my trip to North Carolina willing to look beyond an empty checking account and say "yes" to a God who has His best interest for me at heart. A God who is looking out for me. A God who loves me, forgives me and even slaps me upside my head when I need it. A God who never forsakes this girl who in the past has chosen to forget Him. Oh how I love and need Him!
Thank you sweet Jesus!

If you have an interest in writing, speaking, women's ministry or even leading a Bible study, this conference is for you. Click here for more details from Lysa TerKeurst of how you too can apply for the scholarship.
~Many Blessings~

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nothing but the truth...

This morning after I got ready for church I began to question the choice of my ensemble. My pants were clinging to me like a baby monkey holds on to her momma, and of course I had no anti-static cling spray anywhere in the house. Oh, who am I fooling, I haven't owned a bottle of Static Guard for years. Anyway, I liked the look of my outfit, but just not so sure about the pants; so, I went to seek out my husband for his trusted opinion. I found him in the kitchen eating and he had no idea I'm about to ask him a question that will determine the temperature on our Love Thermostat.

"Gene, how do these pants look?" He stopped eating, looked me up and down and if memory serves me correct even asked me to turn around. He then answered me sweetly with, "Honey, I think you need to go to the gym." Okay, let's just say the man's answer made the Love Thermostat quickly drop into the negatives. The gym?? Are you serious? "Well okay, honey, tell Pastor Jerry that I'm at the YMCA instead of church today so when I decide to wear pants that cling to me and show every lump and bump I can LOOK GOOD!!" Oh my goodness!!

At first, I didn't quite know how to respond, so I just said, with teeth clenched together, "I know I need to go the gym Gene, but do these pants look okay?" Now if you don't know my man, your mouth is probably open...well, I take that back, even if you do know him your mouth is probably open like my mom's was when I told her. He tried to defend his answer to her, but she just kept saying, "Ouch...ouch" while shaking her head at him and laughing.

I know that Gene didn't mean any harm with his answer, it's just his twisted way of trying to motivate me. That is why I was able to sit by him in church and worship the Lord without having to ask God to forgive me for a regretful reply to his not so thought out answer. Dumb answer I might respectively add. Did the man not realize that I was looking for a thumbs up for my pants and not a workout plan for the body in the pants?

I did think about this during church and God told me that I'm the same way with Him. I ask Him a question, but sometimes I don't want to hear the answer. This has happened many times in my relationship with my heavenly Father. Sometimes I don't want to hear the truth...instead I want Him to sugarcoat it and tell me what I want to hear. Have you ever felt like that before? God answers you and your just standing there, or kneeling before Him with your mouth open thinking, I cannot believe He just said that! I have experienced this before and often times still do.

I want to completely surrender my life to Him and when I beg Him to tell me what changes I need to make so I'm usable, truth be told sometimes He hurts my feelings.
One of many things I've learned about God is that He wants me to stand before Him with hurt feelings that leave my jaw on the ground in disbelief, and a willing and obedient heart to make the changes that allow Him to be able to do His thing.

After service, I walked out of the warm, soft lit sanctuary with my clingy pants into the bright foyer and engaged in conversation with our 13 year old man-child who just started shaving last year. I can't even tell you what we talked about since he interrupted me to whisper, "Mom, you need to shave right here" as he was pointing to his clean-shaved upper lip.
NOTE TO SELF: Don't talk to the boys in your family!

Well, girlfriends, I'm off to the gym, then a quick pit stop to get the lip waxed...

~Many Blessings~
These are in no specific order, just Excellent blogs that bless me! These blogs make me laugh, cry, think & most importantly they all push me closer to God. Thanks Ladies!

1.) Susan at Forever His

2.) Kimberly from Planting of the Lord

3.) Cindy from Still His Girl

4.) Liz from Liz's Letters

5.) Pamela from In His Graces

6.) MaryLu from Creative Homemaker

7.) Linda from 2nd Cup of Coffee

8.) Sue at Praise and Coffee

9.) Mrs. Proverbs 31

10.) Heather at Heather's Ponderings

11.) Tami at The Next Step

God bless all of you!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

God is so good---can I get an Uh Huh?

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

This past Saturday night my husband Gene and I were talking and I mentioned that I wanted to get rid of our pool table. We've wanted to get rid of it for a long time now as it has gone from a recreation table to an I don't feel like folding these clothes so I'll throw them on here table. I casually said to my husband, "We should get rid of the pool table and put a big sectional couch down here." His response, "Uh huh." The "uh-huh" was said sarcastically I might add because financially we could never pull it off right now. My response to his sarcasm: "You just wait Gene, God can do it."

Sunday after church I told Gene he had a message on the answering machine for him from a buddy of his. I walked into the kitchen just in time to hear him tell Chris, "Oh, thanks man, but we don't have the room." I start whispering, "For what, for what?" Finally, he covered the phone and said, "Oh a friend of Chris' just bought a new couch and love seat and is getting rid of their sectional couch for free and wanted to know if we wanted it." Gets back on the phone and tells Chris that he's sure, but thanks for thinking of us.

Okay, you know I was in shock as I stood staring in disbelief at the Crusher of my Desires. Did the man forget what he had said "Uh huh" too not even 24 hours ago?? Did he not hear me faithfully challenge God when I said that He can do it??? After pulling myself out of my state of shock, I asked him if he was crazy. He confirmed that he wasn't and left the room. OK. Choice time for girl who wants sectional couch for free.
1.) I could pull the old Lelia out and cuss at and call Gene names I've never even heard before, wear him down until he finally reaches his breaking point and screams, "FINE, whatever Lelia get your stupid couch!" OR
2.) I could ask God, the sectional-couch-for-free Provider, to intervene here.
I opted for choice #2 and so glad I didn't do it my way.

Gene's reason for saying no thanks was because of the poor track record I hold when it comes to implementing big plans for furniture hand me downs. This past summer, our garage stored 2 dressers and 2 desks. I have the best intentions, just not the room to store my projects while I await the time and energy to tackle them. This time though is different because I have envisioned a sectional in our basement for a long time. See, I want to have Bible studies at my house and the upstairs is just not big enough, but the basement would be perfect...if we had a sectional couch.

At first Gene held his ground, but then he listened as I promised to get rid of the pool table and move the couch down to the basement soon. He ended up giving me a "yes", but only if I would store it in my sister's empty guest bedroom versus our garage until the pool/laundry table is gone. I agreed, we kissed and my sister and I went to look at the sectional to see if I really did want it. I saw it and decided it wouldn't be a big deal to move the sectional with a sleeper sofa and 2 recliners not once, but twice, SO...I have my sectional!!!! Oh, I wish you could all see this~it's so pretty and in perfect shape and in my husband's price range!!! God is just too good! Again, I'm so glad I didn't handle this with choice #1! It would be mighty uncomfortable relaxin' on a couch I had disrespected my husbandto get! Thanks for the helping me make a no-regret decision Lord!

Don't you just love when He pays attention to the desires of our heart and then delivers them in such a way that ONLY He can? I LOVE that about Him!! I can't wait to move my God-couch out of storage to my basement. My sister called me tonight and gave me a little extra motivation to get rid of our laundry table sooner than later when she said, "I love your couch." I can't let her get too comfy now can I? So anyone who wants a multi-purpose table for their basement, call me! I may even throw in our teenagers as they know how to wash and dry clothes really well so all you'd have to do is fold!

Jesus~You've outdone yourself again and I just love your unique and holy style. You are really awesome and so fast! I know I've had the thought of wanting a sectional in my basement for a long time, but the first time I verbalize my desire my phone starts ringing? Are you kidding me?? Author of my life...You simply "wow" me!

Oh, and consider the job done Lord...I got your message of not letting "Uh-Huh" sit in the recliner for at least a month! I'll make sure he sits on the floor...I promise!

Have a great weekend!
~Many Blessings~

*UPDATE: Sunday, 1/27/08: Ad run in local newspaper, Pool table sold: 6:15pm, Sectional moving home next Saturday morning! Thank you JESUS!! xoxo

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gift of Love

During Christmas the kids have always made something special at school for the parents . I couldn't wait to see what our youngest was making as our other two kids are teenagers. Needless to say, I haven't received something like this for quite some time and I always treasure whatever the kids have made.

This year, our 1st grader, Alivia, was very excited about her gift. Carefully wrapped and tied, hidden inside was something that she had made with her tiny hands. No Made in China sticker on this gift, for this was a one of a kind creation by Alivia. I couldn't wait until Christmas to open it.

I had watched as she carefully pulled it out of her backpack and laid it on the table. Then she looked at me with the biggest smile and said, "Mom, since I don't ever get to see Uncle Willie, I made this for him." Oh my, I thought. "Uncle Willie?" I sweetly asked her as I picked it up and checked the name on the package in case she was mistaken. In pencil was spelled out To: Uncle Willie Love, Alivia. "I never get to see him and I want him to know that I love him. It has my picture on it and he never gets to see my face, so this way he'll be able to see my face." I held the gift in my hand and told her how sweet that was of her and how much he'll love it.

When our daughter Alivia, was only 2 years old my brother-in-law, Will visited us. My husband Gene returned to college after a 20 year break and completed his degree so his brother surprised him and flew down for the graduation ceremony.

Will arrived while the two older kids were in school and Gene was at work so Alivia had Uncle Willie all to herself. This was the first time they met and it was love at first sight for both of them. Well, it did take her awhile to warm up, but once she did she was stuck in her Uncle Willie's arms. He spent hours with her outside playing with her and singing the Itsy-Bitsy spider song to her until she could sing it along with him. To this day, at the ripe old age of six, she still talks about him teaching it to her, as that is one of her first memories.

Since we live in the Midwest and my husband's relatives all live down South, we don't get to see each other often. Alivia hasn't seen her Uncle Willie since we visited him and his family 2 years ago, but the love she has for him is still as strong. Reminds me of how it is with God. We don't "see" him in the physical, but we know He's there and we know He loves us. Even though Alivia doesn't get to see her uncle, she doesn't doubt the love he has for her and doesn't stop loving him. And even though there are miles that separate them she wants him to see her face.

Oh, if this is what it means to come to Jesus like a child I want it. I want Jesus to see my face even when I can't see His. I want Him to know I am thinking about Him and I love Him. Just like when Alivia fell in love with her uncle when she met him, I want Jesus to know that since the day I was introduced to Him I have loved Him.

If Uncle Willie is reading this, please know I haven't opened your gift like I wanted to and I promise to send it to you soon. :)

May we approach our King like a child with a picture of our face that shows the love we have for Him.

~Many Blessings~

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good Cooker

This is an article that I am re-posting for a writing contest sponsored by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries. This is a story close to my heart about my son and just another way God has shown me that His love for me endures forever despite my shortcomings.

Recently I was cooking dinner when my tall, handsome 13 year old son Aaron followed the smell of food into the kitchen and asked the question he asks me every night... "what's for dinner?" I told him on the menu was chicken, brown rice and salad. "Chicken?", he questioned in a disappointing tone of voice as he reached into the fridge for the package of hot dogs.

Aaron is definitely the pickiest eater in our family of five, but it hasn't always been like that. When he was not quite 2 years old, we stayed in this apartment that had a tiny kitchen. It didn't matter what I would be making, he'd come into my small cooking space and wrap his arms around my leg. He would then look up at me with his big, dark brown eyes and in the cutest voice he'd say, "you're a good cooker mom".

It didn't matter to my little guy if I was making dinner out of a box or preparing a gourmet meal, to him I was a "good cooker." His compliment always made me feel so good. Now he's taller than I am, would worry me if he wrapped himself around my leg and usually complains about what I have on the stove.

Over the years, my son's likes and dislikes for what I cook has changed. Green beans used to be his favorite vegetable, and now the only green food he'll eat is a salad. He used to love pork chops and will now go on a hunger strike if I make them. If it were up to him, we'd be eating a Mexican dish every night. According to his taste buds I no longer meet the qualifications needed to be called "Good Cooker".

One thing I love about Jesus is that He has never changed and never will.
Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

To Jesus, it doesn't matter how bad we mess up in our life, His love for us is unconditional. It doesn't matter what we have cooking on the stove of life, His love for us remains the same. When we choose to create our own recipes instead of following what is in the Holy Cook Book, better known as the Bible, we create such a mess in the kitchen, but He still loves us and even helps us clean it up. Fortunately for us, He doesn't base His love for us on our actions.

We may have an affair baking, gossip frying, or even pride simmering on our stove. Whatever it is that we have cooking on our stove of life, Jesus loves us. He may not like it, but He still loves us.

The day we decide to follow the recipe for life that Jesus has created for us, is when our Head Chef wraps His arms around us and with love says, "You're a good cooker."

How I long for the days of looking down and hearing praises from my toddler's lips, but I also love looking up and seeing a smile of approval on my teenager's face on Mexican night. People change, taste buds change, but thankfully, Jesus never does and never will.

Lord, thank You for your five course meal of mercy, patience, grace, forgiveness and enduring love that You offer to me daily. May I choose to fill my recipe box with your recipes for my life and not substitute a single ingredient.

~Many Blessings~

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Out of the Dog House

The other day I was in our oldest daughter's bedroom talking with her and I looked out the window to look at our son's dog Kane. I started laughing at what I saw. Right now it is very cold where I live and so we do what we can to stay warm. Kane spends his nights at the foot of our son's bed, but he enjoys being outside during the day.

Aaron got Kane this summer when he was a 2 month old puppy, so until he was big enough, he stayed in the house with us. This fall we decided it was time to make the transition with the agreement that he could still spend his nights at Aaron's feet.

Our neighbor Ben gave Aaron a dog house that he had built and being the handyman that he is, spared no detail. It's a replicate of our neighbor's beautiful home down to the same shingled roof. It's very roomy so Kane will be able to live in it as an adult dog when he tips the scale at 140 like our vet predicts. The house is even insulated so he'll probably stay warmer during the day than at night in our drafty home.

Well, when I looked out of the window, there was Kane in the 20 degree weather all curled up outside of his warm, custom built dog house. He had dragged the old comforter that Aaron had put in there out onto the snow covered patio and was laying on it. Here was this dog huddled up on this cold comforter trying to stay warm only a foot away from protection and warmth. The thing that kept coming back to me throughout my day is how often I exhibit Kane's behavior.

How often in my life have I gone through a spiritual dry spell...feeling distant from God, not in the Word, not wanting to go to church, not praying, just wanting to do it my way for awhile. I know there are many times that instead of dwelling in the warmth of God's presence I've chosen to drag myself out away from His Holiness and sit in the cold with no protection. For some reason those times don't make it into my memory scrapbook. I'd rather forget them, learn from them, but I don't want to revisit them.

Psalm 27:4
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
Lord, please pull me by my tail when I start dragging that comforter out of your house! You know my heart's desire is to be by You, so please help me to stay steadfast and focused on only YOU. I don't want to be like the puppy on the cold comforter!
~Many Blessings~

Monday, January 14, 2008

Team Jesus

Today I'm trying to comfort my husband Gene. Last night his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys lost to the New York Giants.
No Super Bowl party at our house this year.

Gene has been a faithful fan of the Cowboys since he was a kid. A die hard fan who wouldn't think of changing teams based on their performance. He is passionate about his 'Boys and everyone knows it. Thankfully, he had a meeting to attend last night when his friend Paul, who is a huge Green Bay Packers fan called him after the game. Based on Paul's laughter, I'm sure he wasn't calling to comfort my sad Cowboy.

So, America's team reluctantly hangs up their cleats until next season. Gene is so bummed. I don't even think a favorite meal would console this Dallas Cowboy cheerleader right now as he has lost his appetite.

Sounds a bit melodramatic to you, I'm sure. It's just a game, get over it. No, it's his passion. He loves the game of football. Could tell you anything you need to know about it. Names, stats, scores, college the player came from. You ask him, he has an answer for you. Knows the history and not just of his team, he knows the NFL. He knows the game. He could join the best sports announcers behind an ESPN desk and capture your attention with his knowledge. He rejoices when his team wins, stands amazed at the athleticism he sees weekly and stays faithful no matter how they perform.

When I look at the relationship I have with God it is just so much the same. He knows me. He knows everything about me and no matter if I win or lose this week, He remains faithful to me. He may be disappointed in me, but He doesn't turn His back on me when I mess up. You ask Him, He could tell you everything about me. He knows where I've come from and where I'm going. He knows me.
Jeremiah 1:5
Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.

The Cowboys had on all parts of their uniforms last night. They had their pads on, their socks, their helmets, their mouth guards. They were protected from head to toe. They came prepared to win, but somehow they still lost the game.

Doesn't that happen with us sometimes? When we put on the full armor of God as we are told to do in Ephesians 6 sometimes we still may feel like we've lost the game if we don't get the outcome we thought we were going to get. Everyday we put on our belt of truth, our breastplate of righteousness and our feet are fitted with readiness from the gospel of peace. Our shield of faith is in hand, our helmet of salvation is on our head and we have the sword of the Spirit, our Bible in hand and in our hearts. We are ready for an attack from the enemy and yet at halftime we're questioning God. "Lord, what is going wrong here??? I'm doing everything you have told me to do and yet the scoreboard is telling me that I'm a loser."

Gene played ball for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 80's and he has told me how the players have huge playbooks they have to memorize. They have to know what to do when the team they're up against tries to attack. They have to recognize what plays their quarterback is yelling out. Our playbook is our Bible. If we memorize it then when we are faced with an attack from the enemy, we will recognize what to do based upon God's Word.
Imagine God being your Holy Quarterback. Are you willing to run where He tells you to go? Are you willing to follow His instruction when you don't understand why He's asking this of you?

My parents do foster care and recently had to return a baby that has been in their lives since she was 2 months old. This Thursday she will turn two years old . She was in a home where she was loved so much and returned to a young mom who has verbalized her hate for this child. Doesn't make since, but they had to trust their Quarterback because they are not running the plays here, He is. They are just a teammate. After she was taken did they turn in their foster care license and not take anymore kids in? No, they now have a 1 month old in their home that they picked up from the hospital when she was only a few days old.
New game, new plays, same Quarterback.

This morning on ESPN there wasn't one Dallas player who blamed their quarterback. Not one of his teammates turned their back on him and walked away. They put on their protection before the game, and ran the plays he told them to during the game. At half time they may have asked questions, but when they came back on the field they put their trust right back in him and continued to follow his lead. What they wanted, they didn't get. Super Bowl Champs is a crushed dream for them.

Sometimes, God says "no" to us for a better "yes" down the road for He's the only one who can see the whole picture. Will you choose to trust Him when you don't understand the plays He's asking you to execute or will you hang up your cleats and walk away? Lord, help me to follow my husband's example and no matter what, never change teams. Help me to be faithful to You no matter how defeated I may feel.

Be ready to receive a catch from your Holy Quarterback, for you never know who may follow you into the Eternal End Zone.

And as for my saddened Cowboy who told me this morning that he is boycotting the Super Bowl this year, I will join you in fasting and prayer tonight that Paul's Green Bay Packers lose! (Just kidding!)
I love you Geno!

~Many Blessings~


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Take me deeper Lord

John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.
Does it ever just blow your mind that you've been chosen by Jesus? Handpicked by the Creator of everything to do His work for Him? To serve and love others for His glory? Does mine.
Takes away my breath to know that while He was walking the dusty roads with the Disciples that we were on His mind. I cannot tell you how much I think of Him. It seems like especially lately that my thoughts are just all about Him.

Since this past summer, my love for Him has grown beyond what I've ever known it before and I want more of Him. Sometimes when I'm in the Word I get so overwhelmed because I want Him to know how much I adore Him. I want Him to know that when my actions don't reflect Him, my heart is crying out for Him. I want Him to trust me. I want Him to know...this girl has my best interest at heart.

A few years ago when my heart was hardened, I'd go over to my parents house and see my Mom always reading her Bible. It was like she couldn't get enough of it and when I didn't want to hear it, she'd share it with me anyway. Of all the things about my Mom, that's the one thing that sticks out in my mind about her. She'd have no idea I'd be stopping by so it's not like it was anything staged. I'd just drop by and there she'd be-whether it was on her porch in her swing or in her glider in her living room-she was in the Word. What a Godly example~what a legacy. Thanks Mom.
When I gave my heart back to Christ, I wanted what my Mom had unknowingly impressed upon my heart. Then I heard Beth Moore speak in Believing God and she said, what you lack, pray for and see if God doesn't give it to you. So, I began to pray for a passion for His Word and boy did He answer! There have been nights that I wake up with my Bible on my chest. What a way to fall asleep!
I just share my heart with you today to tell you that I have no idea where you are with Jesus. What I do know though is that Jesus Christ has chosen me and if you've invited Him into your life, then He has chosen you too. If you knew my past you too would ask why her? I used to be so ashamed of my past that I allowed the enemy to keep me in the mindset of my past. I now base my past failures on Philippians 1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.
If my ugly past brings just one person to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour, it was all worth it.
To Him be all the glory!
A very ugly, shameful past full of stupid, selfish, hurtful choices. Choices that I wouldn't trade for anything though because of the testimony I now have. A testimony that opens the hearts of the girls in jail here in town...that allows me to share about Jesus with them. Girls in jail that walk into Bible study looking and acting tough....and yet by the end of the hour are hugging me and in tears wanting to know more about Jesus Christ. That is what this is all about.
Time on earth is short-just ask my friends Carol or Dena. Carol buried her 18 year old daughter Jennifer 18 years ago this past December and Dena her little Matthew 6 years ago, who would have turned 15 this spring. I want to make the most of the time He's given me. I want to be used by my Father to enhance His Kingdom. I want other women to know that it doesn't matter what your past is full just give it to Him and let Him deal with it. See where He takes you, you won't be sorry. You will no longer carry the shame that bad choices have left you with. When you surrender your heart and life to Jesus there is nothing like it when He lifts your chin off the ground to gaze into His eyes.
I thank God that over the years I've had people in my life that covered me in prayer while I was out living my life. People besides my parents that just wouldn't throw in the towel on me. My uncle Chris and Aunt Brenda in Alabama, along with my parents never gave up on me. My uncle would make me so mad sometimes because I had already given up hope, so to have an uncle riding the waves with me was just unbelievable. Without prayer coverage, I can't imagine the life I'd be living.
The song playing just speaks my heart. When I think about you Lord, how you saved me...I am so undeserving of You Jesus, but yet I need and want You! I love You! Tears flow at the thought of what You've done in my life because You didn't have to do any of it. You are truly the Love of my life. Thanks for never throwing the towel in on me.
Thank You Jesus.
Take me deeper with You Lord.
~Many Blessings~

Monday, January 7, 2008

Good Cooker

I haven't been feeling good at all this weekend & felt worse today. I have that respiratory thing going on. So, last night before bed after doing my breathing treatments, I decided to take a long, hot, relaxing shower. Got out, dried off and put on my comfy pj's. After walking around the house for a few minutes, I took the towel off my head, took off my comfy pj's and got back in the shower. Our teenage daughter heard the water running again and came into the bathroom to ask me if I had just taken a shower. "Yes, but I forgot to rinse the conditioner out of my hair." She just laughed as she left me alone in my hot, relaxing shower...again. I blame it on the NyQuil I had taken.

Tonight as I was cooking dinner, our very tall, handsome 13 year old son Aaron followed the smell of food into the kitchen and asked the question he asks every night... "what's for dinner?" I told him on the menu was chicken, brown rice & salad. Chicken? He said with a disappointed tone as he reached into the fridge and grabbed the package of hot dogs. After his hot dog appetizers, he ended up eating some chicken with us but he is definitely the pickiest eater in our family.

It wasn't always like that though. When he was not even 2 years old, we stayed in this apartment that had a tiny kitchen. It didn't matter what I would be making, he'd come into my small cooking space and wrap his arms around my leg. He would then look up at me with his big, dark brown eyes and in the cutest little voice, he'd say "you're a good cooker mom".

It didn't matter if I was making Hamburger Helper or a gourmet meal, to my little guy, I was a "good cooker." It always made me feel so good. Now he's taller than I am, would worry me if he wrapped himself around my leg and usually complains about what I have on the stove. Unless of course it's Mexican, then I'm a good cooker!

Over the years, my son has changed. Green beans used to be his all time favorite veggie, and now the only green food he'll eat is salad. He used to love pork chops, especially when I cut them up for him in little pieces. Now he hates pork chops and would die if I cut his food up for him. He used to eat whatever I would put on his plate and now he'll go to bed hungry if he doesn't like what he sees on his plate. Time has changed him.

The one thing about God is that He has never changed and never will.
Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Doesn't matter how bad I mess up in my life, His love for me is unconditional. It doesn't matter what we have cooking on the stove of life, He will always love us. When we create our own recipes instead of following His Holy Cook Book, the Bible, we create such a mess in the kitchen, but He still loves us. Fortunately, He doesn't base His love for us on our actions.
We may have an affair baking, or gossip frying, or even pride simmering in the crock pot. Whatever it is that we have cooking on the stove of life, our God loves us. He may not like it, but He still loves us. And when we reach that point of wanting to follow the recipe of life the way He created it to be, then our Head Chef wraps His arms around us and with love says,
"You're a good cooker."
How I long for those days of hearing that little toddler's voice call me a "good cooker", but I also love hearing my little man-child say "thanks mom" followed by a kiss on my cheek when I make something special for him.
Maybe I can bribe him with some enchiladas if he'll call me a "good cooker" again...
worth a try!
~Many Blessings!

Friday, January 4, 2008

No Mountain, No Valley

Okay, I know Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye is not the typical praise & worship song,
LISTEN to the words and imagine God singing them to you...

Listen, baby
Ain't no mountain high
Ain't no valley low
Ain't no river wide enough, baby
Psalm 139:7
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If you need me, call me
No matter where you are
No matter how far
Just call my name
I'll be there in a hurry
You don't have to worry
Jeremiah 29:12-13
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

'Cause baby, There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough To keep me from getting to you
Romans 8:39
Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Remember the day I set you free?
John 8:32
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

I told you You could always count on me
From that day on I made a vow
I'll be there when you want me
Some way, some how
Psalm 9:9-10
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

'Cause baby, There ain't no mountain high enough Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough To keep me from getting to you
No wind, no rain
Psalm 40:2a
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire

My love is alive
Revelation 1:18a
I am the Living One
Don't you know that
There ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you

Psalm 36:5-6

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.

Now, wasn't that fun to look at that old classic and pretend like God is just singing that over you? I have always loved that song, but for the first time when I was singing to it the other day, I heard it differently. Better, with so much promise. I was able to block out Marvin and Tammi singing & just let the Lord let me know that Lelia....

There is nothing that can keep me from loving you. I love you and it doesn't matter what pit you jump into this week, the love I have for you endures forever.

By choice, I have regretfully walked away from the Lord, but one thing I have learned is that it doesn't matter how deep my valley is, doesn't matter how big whatever mountain is in my life, He loves me. He's crazy about me.

And He knows me. He knows my heart and knows that despite my failures, my true hearts' desire is to just love Him right back.

Have a blessed weekend my dear friends!!

~Many Blessings~


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Real Deal

I'm touched to hear that you and Gene gave up your bedroom!! How touching. Please don't be discouraged by everything that you are doing. You are teaching Alyssa how to take care of your child no matter what. You are showing her the sacrifice that it sometimes takes as a parent for our children!! She will remember that, she will pass that on to her child. You are a wonderful mother and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise!!
I'm so proud of you.
That was an e-mail I received from my dear friend Melissa who I go to church with. She read my last post where in the 1st paragraph I shared how Gene & I gave our pregnant teenager our bedroom while we took the basement room.
Now for the ugly truth...
We got home from church and immediately changed into working clothes. Alyssa and her friend Courtney went to the basement and began bringing her belongings upstairs while Gene and I moved our stuff to the basement. Before I could even get my thoughts organized, my living room was filled with dresser drawers. My couch was covered with my bedding & our 6 year old daughter's bedroom was taken over with clothes, shoes and keepsakes belonging to Alyssa.
Feeling overwhelmed with all of the piles surrounding me I asked Alyssa to do the dishes hoping a clean kitchen would lower my rising blood pressure.
Then I go downstairs and begin to cry & converse with myself.
I like my upstairs bedroom.
I don't think I'm going to like my basement bedroom.
I love the warm glow of gold color painted on my walls.
My walls are now cold, white paint-chipped wood paneled walls.
I love how my feet feel on my wood floors.
I now stand on rough, stained carpet.
I love my ceiling fan/light.
My drop ceiling has a fluorescent light/no fan and holes in it.
Years ago our son wanted to see if his pool cue could make holes in the ceiling by pushing really hard-mission accomplished.
I love my recently organized closet.
My closet's now a rod hanging in the furnace room.
I love feeling the warmth from the furnace blow out of the vent above my side of the bed.
How much space does a space heater heat?
I love to close the door and escape behind the four walls of my room.
I have no door and my oak headboard is also a room divider.
I love the elegance of our huge, oak dresser with a mirror, a wedding present from my parents.
My elegant mirror's now in storage as it's too tall for my low,
hole-filled drop ceiling.
After my pathetic pity party came anger. I stomped upstairs, glared at my husband and let loose on anyone in sight. I believe Alyssa's words through tears as she did the dishes were, "You're the one who's pouting. Mom, I'm sorry you had to give up your room, but I'm trying to save up money because I know you don't want me here."
Oh Lord, all the grace I've tried so hard to show my pregnant teenager over the last 6 months was just thrown out the window by feeling sorry for myself. By throwing a major temper tantrum in front of her friend. Let's just call it like it is---by being a spoiled brat. I'm sure my Heavenly Father was disgusted with me as my daughter's interpretation of my tears mixed with anger was that I didn't want her in my house, instead of just my room.
Far from the truth, but don't our actions speak louder than our words?
So, my dear friend Melissa, thank you for your kind words straight from your heart, but I had to be honest with you. I didn't want to switch rooms with her and unfortunately, I let her know it. I asked her and
God both for forgiveness for my ugly heart and attitude and I did my best to assure her that I do want her and Baby Girl in our home.
Last night I peeked in on her and her room looked beautiful .
She looked beautiful and I whispered a prayer of thanks to my Father that she's in our home as I headed to my basement bedroom.
~Many Blessings~