Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thick Truth

Normally I don't post back to back, but some things are just too good to not share.

Back in "the day", you know like 20 years ago, I strutted my athletic frame down the halls of my high school, never having a thought that one day my many hours spent pumping iron and doing aerobic videos led by Jane Fonda would be hidden.
Never did I think that once a year at my annual physical exam I'd leave my doctor's office with a sheet of paper with the words "slightly obese" scribbled on it attached to a pamphlet of healthy tips.
When I voice my "I can't believe I let myself get like this" woes, my sweet friends try their best to comfort me with words like, "well, you have had three kids Lelia"; only to hear me desperately trying to remind them of the nice shape I had after I gave birth to Alyssa and Aaron.
And what is up with slightly obese...I'm either tipping the scale in the wrong direction or I'm not...there's no 'slight' about it.

It wasn't until before I got pregnant with Alivia in 2000 that I began to gain weight and only a few times over the last 6 years have I lost more than just water weight where people actually noticed. Over the years though I have not had long term success and have only "slightly" kept the weight off for a season.

I recently took a poll to prove to my husband that I'm not alone when it comes to doing things like eating frosting out of a can, indulging in raw cookie dough and pouring Hershey's syrup into my mouth. I suppose I do have some habits that send my husband into disgust mode and may just contribute to my weight problem. Gene can scarf down a whole bag of Chilli Cheese Fritos between commercials, but the man would never think of getting a spoon and eating Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Milk Chocolate frosting out of the can. Never. This is not a habit I do a lot, but when I do, he is quick to let me know that in the future my complaints about having to shop in the plus size department will be falling on his deaf ears.

Anyway, at the beginning of May I remembered this annual running clinic, but I was unable to find any information on it. Recently I was in a boutique when the sales girl started telling me about an upcoming clinic called Beginner's Luck. Just so happened that it is the same clinic I had been searching for. So,on Mother's Day after eating a waffle cone filled with peanut butter ice cream from Cold Stone, I took myself downtown to the Running Company store and picked up my registration form. Last week I filled out my form in hope of a better future and mailed it in along with my 20 buck commitment.

So, starting Wednesday, June 4th I will be in a beginner's running club that will meet for 8 weeks for an hour each evening. I will be taught the how to's of running properly so people driving by me don't slow down and ask if I'm okay.
I'll be taught how to put a whole can of frosting on a cake instead of in my mouth and choose to eat fruit instead.
I will be taught what running shoes are best for my feet instead of which shoes I think are the prettiest.
Then at the end of the 8 weeks we're encouraged to enter a 5K (3 mile) race in the Cornhusker State Games in July.

Just this past weekend the doubt was sinking in and the excuses started invading my mind as I was thinking of my new adventure.
Thoughts such as...
How I hate running,
How it might be hot and I'll sweat. A lot.
How I love frosting.
How I really want the body I had when I walked to my locker to get my Algebra books in the 80's.
Is it too late to get refunded my twenty dollar registration fee...

But just as I started to allow the excuses to snag my focus, God sent me a little reminder that this healthy lifestyle change is just the boost I need.
I need this weekly accountability group that has no desire to become like Bruce Jenner who I stared at every morning while eating my bowl of Wheaties when I was a teen athlete.God knows I need to be a part of this group of people who do not have the goal of running a marathon, but instead work their way up to running 3 miles by the end of the summer. People who want to run for pleasure and health.
So in typical God fashion, He sent me this last night...

Since tomorrow is the last day of school, my 6 year old daughter Alivia is cleaning out her desk and brought home her writing journal. I love reading what she writes and my face lit up like a Christmas tree when I saw the journal entry from May 6th titled
"My Mom".
Let me share...

My mom's name is Lelia. She is 37. My mom is white.

She is thick. My mom has brown and red hair.

My mom is THICK?
Not only am I white, but I am thick??
I lovingly smiled at the sweet child before me who just made herself a present-less birthday girl this July and I continued to read...

My mom and I like to read and go to the park. My mom and I like to ride our bikes and play at the library. We like to go the movies and the zoo to spend time together. She likes to write on her blog. She likes to talk on the phone. I love my mom she is very pretty. I love spending time with her. I hope you have learned alot about my mom.

On the way to church last night my 13 year old son Aaron was reading this touching journal entry out loud while laughing. He was quick to point out that he can't remember the last time he even saw me on a bike.
I guess Alivia's fantasy "in-shape mom" got mixed up with the real thing as she told her brother that some of it is "pretend".
I just said, "But Aaron, look how active she made me look to her teacher ....I go to the park and I play at the library!"

"Yeah, but you're thick." said the not so smart son with a birthday only two weeks away.

So while it is nice to save money on my children's birthday's and according to my poll, prove to Gene that I'm not alone in eating this...

I am now convinced that God wants me to eat these instead...

And also so that when my little Princess writes about me next year in 2nd grade, the description of me won't have to be filled with fake activities and won't cause her teacher to wonder when she sees me at Parent/Teacher conferences...
if she's so active then why is she so thick?

So next Wednesday consider yourself warned that between 7 and 8pm central time you will not be feeling an earthquake. It will just be a washed up athlete trying to run off her thickness here in the Midwest.

Weird that seeing "slightly obese" for 6 years written by my Doctor didn't get me motivated, but seeing the description"thick" written out in 1st grade hand writing did the trick...

Here's to my soon-to-be-gone thickness,

Here are the poll results. Gene got such a kick out of this and I proved that his wife is not the only one out here that does these things...Thanks for participating!

Yes, I eat frosting out of a can...37 admitted to doing this

Yes, I have eaten Hershey's Syrup directly out of the can...19 of us!

Yes, I have eaten more raw cookie dough than I've baked...27 in-the-closet cookie dough eaters!

No, your husband is right, you are gross and need help...1 vote...Probably Gene. :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blessing in the middle of crazy

The demands of daily life can be just so overwhelming.
Sometimes we can feel like we're getting pulled in many directions.
Somedays we feel like we accomplish nothing.
Here's a picture of what is laying on top of my desk at work just waiting for me...
But here is what is on top of the other side of my desk just waiting for me..

Sound asleep in her bouncy seat on my desk in the middle of phone calls, billing statements and wondering what to cook for dinner...

Isn't life good?

In the middle of this crazy life, don't forget to kiss the cheeks of those you love.

~Many Blessings~

If you haven't already, don't forget to participate in the poll upper right hand corner for I so value your input :) and also read yesterday's post about the new YES to GOD study beginning July 1st!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

YES to God during PMS?

I want to continue the Tuesday's YES to GOD because I enjoyed studying and discussing Lysa TerKeurst's book so much with you all. So much that on Tuesday, July 1st I will be hosting a discussion on her book/Bible study...
"What Happens When Women Walk in Faith?"

So...plenty of time to purchase the book and you can do that by clicking here and buy it directly from Proverbs 31 Ministries or wherever you can find it. Don't forget to mark your calendar to meet here on Tuesday, July 1st to grow with God, learn from each other and walk in faith! I can hardly wait to see what God teaches us! Don't forget to invite a friend with or without a blog. Also, I e-mailed Lysa last week letting her know we finished her book and how incredible it was. Here is part of her response and just wanted to share it with you..."I am working fast and furious on my next book. I'd love for you and the gals from your study to pray for me." Let's not forget to lift our fellow sister in Christ up to the Lord as she's working on her next assignment from Him!

I do want to continue meeting here on Tuesdays for YES to GOD discussions up until July 1st. I was originally going to discuss a characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit each week, but with all the stuff I have going on in June I thought better of it. Too detailed for my calendar right now, but wanted to do something fun anyway. Back in 2005 I wrote a series of poems on issues or things that women primarily deal with. Starting today, I will be posting one of those poems and feel free to give your story, advice, what God has taught you in this area....just whatever you want to share. Hope you enjoy it and I hope it's a fun way to kick off the summer. I believe God has a great sense of humor and loves it when we laugh together.

So here we go...

Dear Jesus,
The first thing I should do today
Is take the time to kneel and pray
I know that I am not always nice
I’m definitely not made of sugar and spice
Just yesterday I had a bad PMS attack
I showed no mercy and I cut no slack
My husband couldn’t do anything right
The kids laid low and kept out of my sight
Everyone tries to stay out of my path
So not to become a victim of my wrath
It’s the smallest things that set me off
My poor family is afraid to move or cough
But the good news is that it’s a new day
My goal is to be kinder in all I do and say
Please help my children and my mate
To forgive me and give me a clean slate
Today I feel my attitude has changed
I don’t feel the slightest bit deranged
But just in case my PMS demon wins
Please pre-forgive me for all of my sins
©2005 Lelia Chealey
*Please participate in my poll on the top right side of my blog. Thank you!*

Live today for Christ,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Interrupted death

In June of 2002 my Grandmother Lelia got very sick. We took her to the hospital on Saturday afternoon, she was admitted, the doctor removed 3lbs of fluid from her lungs and all was well, so we thought. My mom, her brother and I spent the night with her that night. Her pulse was low and her breathing sporadic. Suddenly she had taken a turn for the worst, and by the next day all of her doctors agreed that she had 3 to 24 hours to live. Everyone gathered around her bedside to say their goodbyes.

Didn't matter what the doctors predicted, God wasn't finished with her yet as He so boldly proved that He is the only One who knows how many days we are given on this earth. On Monday, we brought her home so if she was to die she'd be surrounded by familiarity instead of cold hospital walls. She was on hospice for about a day when the family decided to put her on regular home health care with us doing most of the care. My Mom took off two months of work to care for her and spent her nights and days helping her almost 80 year old Dad take care of her dying Mom. We began to have weekly family dinners with Grandma watching us as she lay in her rented hospital bed set up in the middle of the living room and she savored every minute of it. Everyone did their part and Grandma was daily surrounded with much love and laughter. Grandma's diet was changed, she began a regular exercise routine and soon the doctor's notes said, "She is a miracle." We actually have a copy of his notes and her story of God's healing was so amazing that the local newspaper and TV station did a story on her calling her "Miracle on Sewell Street".

My Grandma would be known for her love for her family or the game of Bingo before being known that she loved Jesus Christ, but when she was sick, whoever gathered around her she made sure to tell them that they had to know Jesus. She was insistent that we have Him in our life. Her grand kids and my Grandpa heard her often say, "you just have to believe" as she shared how He had saved her. There was a different kind sweetness I had never seen in her before.

She wanted to hear "Amazing Grace" all of the time. All the grandkids chipped in and we gave her a beautiful wooden music box that plays Amazing Grace and has some of the words etched in the top of the heart shaped lid. She would listen to it constantly and always had it displayed on the table next to her chair. Her TV stayed off and when she wasn't sleeping she was either listening to or engaging in conversation with loved ones. She suddenly wanted to attend church with our family and cried when the worship band just happened to sing her song the first Sunday she went.

Six short years later, times have changed.

The only family dinners we have are on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She has gained back much of the weight she lost. She stopped exercising and now uses a walker to get around the house. We stopped asking her to go to church because her excuses outweigh her need to go. Her music box is covered with newspapers and she is back to watching hours of soap operas and reading cheap paperback romance books to fill her time.

Jesus being the center of her grand kids lives is not a voiced concern anymore.

Isn't it just weird that we can forget what God has done for us?

Like the doctors marked my Grandma dead within 24 hours, we all have a death sentence on our life unless we have accepted Christ into our life. When we do, we become God's miracle as He gives us new life. New breath. A new beginning. I know from experience those times I've strayed from God, that the few weeks after my reunion with Him are some of the sweetest. I want to tell everyone about Him just like my Grandma did. I want to worship Him, sing about Him and talk about Him.

Then at some point I invite complacency to settle in my life, and soon He's not the topic of my conversations. I'm not so picky about what movies I rent. The candle of excitement I had lit inside my heart for corporate worship on Sunday is suddenly blown out. One on one time with God isn't a desired adventure anymore, it's a rushed burden into my busy schedule until eventually my Bible needs to dusted.

Jesus being the center of my life is not a concern anymore.

How do we prevent this from happening in our walk with God?

When Gene takes Alivia somewhere he tells her to hold his hand. He wants to keep her safe from getting hit by a car as we walk in a parking lot or separated from us if we're in a crowd. For the most part she obeys, but there are times when he has had to be stern with her little independent self and demand that she holds his hand. When she is hand in hand with him he knows right where she is and he is able to protect her. She is by his side or even a little behind him, but when she's close he is aware of her presence as she is aware of his. She goes where he goes.When Alivia is listening to her father's instruction and holding Gene's hand, nothing can separate her from her Daddy.

Let's avoid becoming a forgetful, complacent Christian and keep hold of our Savior's hand. For when we're close to Him we are aware of His presence and are under His protection. Be in His Word daily and listen to His instruction so that nothing can separate us from our Heavenly Father.

Let's go where He goes.

~Live today for Christ~

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The God who gives & takes away...we praise You!

This morning after watching my parents officially adopt my 4 year old brother Joe who has been in their home since he was 2, I read an e-mail requesting prayer for a family from my friend Kelley at Aroma of Joy.

Steven Curtis Chapman, well known Christian artist lost his little 5 year old adopted daughter, Maria yesterday. We need to lift this family up to our God who knows our days on this earth. As one family in Nebraska is celebrating the addition in their family of an adopted child, another family in Tennessee is mourning the loss in their family of an adopted child. Both gifts from God, one given and one taken.

I would guess that Maria was a believer in the Jesus that she heard spoken of and heard her Daddy sing of often in their home. Now she is face to face with the Savior we blog about, read about, worship and love. Can you even begin to imagine what this little girl is experiencing as you read this? Brought home from China to the parents God had picked out for her back in the days when Moses' roamed the earth and now brought to her eternal home. If she thinks the homecoming was fantastic when the Chapman's brought her home I can only imagine what welcome she received yesterday.

Thanks Kelley for the call to pray for this hurting family as we only hope their walk with God deepens to a depth they didn't even know existed. May this tragedy strengthen their walk and make their love for you even stronger. Please also pray for their teenage son that accidentally ran her over in the driveway as the family witnessed it. May he find strength in You on his knees as the enemy tries to defeat him with guilt. So hard to comprehend this kind of thing Lord, but may the Chapman family only draw closer to You. As Steven has blessed us with his music over the many years, may we bless You and him and his family by lifting their needs up to You today. And though our understanding of tragedy in the midst of the Chapman's celebrating an engagement and a graduation may we trust in You.

Click here to leave a message for the Chapman family on a blog specifically set up in memory of Maria Sue Chapman.

Now meet heaven's sweet addition...

Make today count for Christ,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Week 9: Tuesday YES to GOD study

Better late then never right? Sorry about the delay.

OH my goodness our nine weeks of reading and discussing Lysa TerKeurst's book, "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" has come to an end today. This has been nine weeks of God getting hold of my heart and giving me the desire to say YES to Him. I've gotten to know so many incredible women of God and have really been blessed with your testimonies of how great our God is. Okay, here we go...remember that words in blue are from the book.

CHAPTER 9: Radically Blessed

We can't pursue the radically obedient life and still continue to flirt with disobedience in certain areas of our life. We can't be both red and green toward God at the same time. It gets us nowhere. It's confusing. It's dangerous.

Oh wow! Lysa could not have written that anymore clearer for us. We can't have both God and the world. Just can't. Doesn't mix like oil and water doesn't. We either will live for Him or not. I love that God wants our whole hearts and won't settle for anything less than that. Those last three sentences in blue describes life to a tee when trying to fight your heart desire to live for the Lord. When we try to fight against the life that our hearts wants us to lead we are left confused, risking everything for nothing and not going anywhere. Scary place to be in. I know, I've been there, done that.

I loved how Lysa addressed all of our excuses for not saying YES to God.
1.) Not able...Christ's power is made perfect in our weakness!
2.) Make mistakes...Grace will shown to us!
3.) Bad mood or feeling rebellious...choice!

Obey based on your decision to obey, not on your ever-changing feelings.

Lysa also reminds us to ask God for help with keeping the desire to be obedient. We have a God who listens to us and will respond to our cries of help.
He will help us to want to obey Him and will give us His power to do so.

Listen closely to what Lysa says here: lasting obedience must be born out of desire, not duty. I just read a blog today that really hit on this. My blog friend Tracy tells a beautiful story of caring for her husband's aged aunt. God showed her that He is all that she and her husband needed in the times they got tired of tending to his aunt's needs. Click here to read it for yourself as God's reminder was sent to them just as their caretaking was becoming duty.

Lysa wraps the book up by telling us that if we choose to live a life of radical obedience to whatever God asks of us then we will be living a life that is...







and last but not least we will live a life that is


Now what woman in her right mind doesn't want that kind of life?

This book has really been a life changer for me.

My Grandparents own a Garbage company. They have two huge trucks and about 3,000 customers. Everyday Monday through Friday the crew picks up the trash that people don't want. People leave bags of junk out at the curb and our guys pick it up, throw it in the truck and run the blades. The blades crush the garbage so they can make room for more garbage. When the hopper is full, they drive to the dump and empty their trucks so the next day they can collect more trash.

What if my Grandpa decided he didn't want his sons to dump the garbage out of their trucks? What if he decided that he wanted them to keep everything they collected? If he did this, he wouldn't have a successful company because he wouldn't have room enough to haul every one's trash. He can't have it both ways. He can't tell his customers that he will haul their garbage for them and then keep it. To run a successful business he has to let my uncles dispose of the garbage at the landfill.

Same thing with us.

We cannot be a woman walking God while we are having an affair. We can't pray for our friends then get on the phone and mask our gossip as a prayer request.

Bottom line is that we can't be the garbage hauler and collector at the same time. We either dump the garbage and live for Jesus or keep the garbage and live a life full of confusion, danger and missing out on the plans God has for us.

I hope this book allowed God to reach a depth of your heart you didn't even know existed. I have grown so much during these last nine weeks I am just amazed at my Father. At the beginning of this study I was hit hard with some situations I had no control over. Husband's surgery and a granddaughter born in the same week just about drove this control freak out of state. Did I fail in how I reacted? You bet. Was I shown grace? More than I deserved, but this whole facing trials and living life under pressure has brought me so much closer to God. So close that I don't want to return to where I was just a week ago.

These last few weeks I have been so weepy with God. Not "boo-hoo", but overwhelmed at just the thought of Him. I want more of Him. I want to live my life completely for Him. I want to believe that what He has up His holy sleeve is so much more than I could ever imagine. I want HIM to be evident in my life to those who have no idea who He is and desire Him by the time we part ways. Oh friends He has to be EVERYTHING. Let's stop chasing the nothings in the world and start chasing the God who parted the Red Sea, raised Lazarus from the dead, turned the wine into water, walked on water and left the disciples breathless when He left the tomb empty.

He wants us. All of us. Let's give in and let Him have His way with us! Allow yourself to be used by Him for His glory.

Using unworthy women with a past seems to be His specialty...I know because I am one that just wants to say YES!

Please post your comments below and if you have a blog and have more to share...sign up under Mr. Linky. friend Rachel~please share what you have said Yes to God about in the comments section so we can have prayer warriors all over the nation for this Sunday.

Love you much,

*I will be continuing Tuesday's with looking at the fruit of the Spirit one by one beginning with one a week for the next 9 weeks.

Join me next Tuesday for more of saying YES to God beginning with a discussion about LOVE!

Galations 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Unwelcome guests

Friday night the kids and I were at my parents home. My Mom, my sister Michelle and I got to talking about the video that I put on my last post. The kids got curious so my Dad brought up his lap top and it was awesome to see the kids glued to it. I was thrilled that not only did my 2 teenagers understand the message, but my 6 year old got it as well. It would finish and the kids would say "play it again" so I think we watched it and talked about it at least 4 times. The coolest part was that Alyssa put it on her My Space afterward!!!! Lots of kids visit her space, so if you think of it, please pray.

That's one of the many things I love about God. He is the only One who knows what is stirring in my daughter's heart. The things she says sometimes just makes my heart skip a beat. For instance, I knew you all were praying for her when I let you know she was heading to the hospital to give birth to Amiyah and after Baby Girl was born Alyssa told me, "I don't know Mom, it was so weird. I wasn't scared or anything. It was like God just gave me peace during her birth." I think as a Mom I sometimes subconsciously judge my kids walk with Christ, or what I may view as a lack of. Meanwhile, Jesus is begging me to get out of His way because He's getting her back...even if it is just an inch here an there. He knows her heart belongs to Him, and I just need to keep praying and let Him work on her the way He knows how until she melts in His arms in complete surrender like she did at the age of nine.

Okay, so I was sitting at my computer the other morning when I heard a noise. Shhhhh I told myself. I actually did...out loud. We have a drop ceiling in the basement and the noise I heard was a mouse above my head scurrying about taunting me; knowing I couldn't get to him. I talked out loud to him anyway hoping my warning of a snapped neck in a trap would get his attention and he'd fearfully take his little gray self out of my house. He didn't though because a few nights later I heard him again.

See, around my house I don't play when it comes to uninvited guests. I don't like company that is sneaky, comes out only at night, destroys things I love and runs from me. I also don't like spiders and you cannot believe how many I've killed in my house as of late. One morning I even turned on my computer monitor to see 8 legs running across my monitor. His guts are still smeared across my screen in hopes that it will scare his family and friends off. The other night I ended up sleeping upstairs on the couch when as I was just about to crawl into bed I saw a big, mean looking tarantula on my bed spread. Okay, it was 50 times smaller than a tarantula, but even after knocking it to the ground and grinding it into the carpet, I couldn't make myself get under the covers.

What is the deal with a mouse and spiders trying to invade my home? Whenever I see something like a spider that doesn't belong here I verbalize how they picked the wrong home to crawl into, then they meet their death at the bottom of whatever shoe is closest.

So what if...when we recognize that something has entered our hearts that doesn't belong in it, we begin to speak out loud God's Word until it meets it's death.
For example...

Psalm 39:1
I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth"

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Get the idea? It's not like I just wake up one morning and I have this sharp tongue. This happens over time as I let things, habits, movies, bad music, come into my home and heart. So why am I surprised when I snap at my husband or the kids with words full of regret? When I allow junk to manifest in my heart, eventually what is in my heart will come out of me through my speech. If I didn't take the life of each spider I see, eventually cobwebs would begin to form in the corner of each room, showing that the spider has taken up residence within my home. Same thing in my heart, if I don't let God's Word take out the unwanted then I will have cobwebs within my heart. It is so important that I monitor what I allow into my life.
Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Okay, I'm off to cut a hole in my basement ceiling. They are drop ceilings but not the type that you can push up to get to the actual ceiling. The owner before us put in the type of ceiling in that if you push up a square out of its groove, it won't go back in place. It think the mouse knows this and that is why he is so brave to run around above me.

Anyway, I have my mouse trap ready to be put in place and I have recited my final speech to the rodent. Now I just need to figure out where to cut the hole in the ceiling so my husband Gene won't notice. Wish me luck so I can blog in peace.

~Many Blessings~

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I choose Jesus

Years ago I was a very confused young woman. Raised up in a strong Christian home I became the Prodigal daughter much younger than what I should have. I attended a private Christian school and in my early teens became very rebellious. Not sure why I chose the path I did as both of my parents are God fearing in love with Jesus Christ, very loving people. I have nothing but great memories when it comes to my childhood and my actions literally broke my parents' hearts.
Something happened as a young teenager to where all of my choices were married to consequences that were not good. It was when I was in my early twenties and things were just horrible between Gene and I long before we were married. We both came from Christian homes but we were both clearly not living a life that reflected Jesus.
The sins were too numerous to even try to recall or even share on this blog as some things God hasn't given me the nudge to share. I secretly hope He never asks me to indulge in certain things of my past, but if He does I hope I'm obedient. Like today. I am saying "yes" to God when really I'd rather keep this in my back pocket. Someone must need to hear of His greatness is all the reasoning I can come up with.
I'll never forget the despair I felt on this one particular day. Gene was off on his own sinful adventure and I just couldn't take it anymore. I remember his roommate asking me if I was okay and begging me to not do anything stupid. I promised I wouldn't and said I was fine and went home. An empty heart and empty apartment is not a good combination.
Alyssa was out of town camping with my parents and I was scheduled to go to work in a few hours. I remember making the decision that I was done. Done with life. I felt like I was the worst mom in the world to Alyssa and honestly at that time in my life I was. I loved her, but I just put my selfish desires ahead of her needs...all of the time. I was just plain sick of me and I was so tired.
Growing up loving Jesus I was so far from Him because of the lifestyle I chose to live. I had praying parents and an Uncle and Aunt, Chris and Brenda in Alabama who refused to throw in the towel on me though. I believe that because of their faithfulness in praying over me that God heard their prayers. None of them knew what I was about to do, but I know now that God was not done with this child of His. He had more plans for me.
I emptied a bottle of sleeping pills into my mouth as I was in the shower. I got out and got dressed for work. Then I started feeling incredibly nautious. I then called my cousin and my aunt who live in town who I didn't ever call. I was telling them goodbye as I was holding a picture of Alyssa and through whatever I said to them they called 911.
I can only begin to imagine the victory dance Satan did when the pills slid down my throat. Little did he know my God was about to rise up and knock my pathetic enemy to the ground.
I was taken to the hospital in the nick of time and spent a few days recovering. Was life perfect after that? No way...I still didn't live my life for the Holy One who rescued me that day. And because He knows everything, He knew I'd still live life my way and yet He still got off His throne to save me. It wasn't until I returned to church a few years later and realized that Jesus wanted a personal relationship with me that I gave my life back to Him.
Blows my mind that God would want to use someone like me, but I'd rather be used by the Almighty One versus Satan any day. I want my life to reflect who I love by my actions and my words. Some days I know my husband has to wonder, but I am thankful God has blessed me with a man that has turned his life around and is filled with much grace. A man who desires to lead others to Christ because of how Jesus has changed his mind and heart.
We are a couple in love with Jesus. A couple who has looked at each other and thought..."really Lord this is your gift to me?". A couple who looks to the world like they're failing in the parenting area when their teens act like they haven't been taught a single thing except how to say "please and thank you" to his parole officer and to her OB doctor. A couple who knows if they return to living a life with their Bible's closed and their backs facing God that they will be destroyed by their enemy who is trying hard to get them back on his team again.
Bottom line is I have no idea where you have been or are heading to. Don't know if you're in love with Jesus or know nothing about Him. What I do know is that after watching this video my Mom sent me, I am reminded that He has to be everything to me. I know that when I wake up each morning I have to make a choice to live my life for Jesus as the center of my life. I tell you from my own personal nightmare that I have lived that a life out of my Savior's grasp is a scary road to travel.
I have to be close enough to feel His heart beating because when I'm not ,the only beating I feel is the one coming from Satan's fist.
Please take the time to watch this human video is incredible. Thanks Mom for sending it my way.
~Many Blessings~

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Don't Rush Recovery

Yesterday I drove Gene to Omaha for his first post-op check up with the surgeon and also physical therapy. He had an x-ray done and all 6 screws are in place doing what they're supposed to be doing. He had a fusion done so it's as if the doctor cemented his 2 bottom discs together. Makes me squirm just looking at my bionic man.

On the drive to Omaha Gene verbalized the questions he wanted to ask the doctor...
~Can I drive now?
~What can I do for exercise?
~Can I go back to work yet?

The doctor answered the back to work question without even being asked. NO. Come back in 6 weeks so we can see your progress. Back fusion surgery is some serious stuff and Gene has to be wise and listen to the surgeon's instruction so that he can heal properly. He was warned pre-op that if he didn't follow the post-op instructions that he may have to go back under the knife again. Even though he knew the recovery would be lengthy, he was still bummed that he couldn't return to a life without restrictions.

The other two questions he forgot to ask until we were checking out with the receptionist. So he headed back to the nurses' station to find the doctor and returned like a little boy in a candy store who was told to pick out whatever he wants.
YES. He can drive. He was so excited! As we were standing there he jokingly said, "Woman, I don't need you anymore." The two ladies sitting behind the desk just gasped and then started laughing as I nonchalantly told Gene to tie his shoes.
Still needs me.

My husband is an athlete and this lack of mobility and restraint on certain movement is just driving him crazy. He wants to be able to mow the He wants to return to his He wants to run on the But after the surgeon looked at his x-rays and saw the inside of his body he said...not yet.
I think God does the same thing with us. He wants us to change so He performs the surgery on us and then gives us His post-op instructions through His Word. Sometimes I tend to get anxious during my recovery and I want to be trusted with things sooner than what God has in mind. If He gave me all that I wanted when I wanted it, I just may end up back on the surgery table.

Just like the x-rays gave Gene's doctor a view of his recovery progress, our Savior has a bird's eye view of our heart and what's in it. It's so important for us to check with the Surgeon first and see if our desires match up with His post-op plan for our life. Sometimes a "not yet" answer is for our own good.
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.
God tells us that when we pray and seek Him with all our heart that we will be heard and He will be found. Gene wanted to drive home yesterday, but he sought out the doctor first and asked if it was okay before getting behind the wheel.
When God gives us a "yes" answer or even a "not yet" reply, because we sought Him first before we acted, we'll be just like Gene was yesterday when he drove me back to Lincoln...
filled with complete joy.

~Many Blessings~

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Week 8: YES to GOD Tuesday Study

"What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" by Lysa TerKeurst has been incredible! We are on chapter 8 and next week will be our last chapter. I have enjoyed so much the faithfulness of your contributions and the testimonies and thoughts shared through the comments you've left here as well as on your own blogs. God is up to something in women of God and I feel so encouraged each week as I read Lysa's words in her book and then yours. I feel so honored to be able to host a table where we can come and sit together and not have one thing in common except our love for God and the desire of our hearts to say YES to Him. This has been a heck of a ride with each one of you and I love reading how God is showing up at the doorstep of your heart and your opening the door to Him. You all are such a blessing. Goodness, enough mushy talk, I feel like my son's dog Kane has just licked my face and I'm soaked in his's get started shall we? Remember, anything in blue is a quote from the book.


I really enjoyed the story Lysa started this chapter out with.
Her daughter Hope received a ten-dollar bill as a birthday gift. Lysa and Hope were in the drive thru of a fast food place and after placing their lunch order, Lysa realized she was short on cash. She asked Hope to borrow the ten-dollars, Hope declined.
The reasoning of a 9 year old mind: she was looking forward to showing her friends the ten-dollar bill.
Lysa: Do you trust that I'll pay you back?
Hope: yes, but I want the ten-dollar bill, not 2 fives or 10 ones, just the ten.
As they neared the window to pay for the food Lysa tried everything to convince Hope to lend her the money.
I loved what Lysa wrote: She did not want a ten-dollar bill later because she might miss showing off to her friends today.

Relunctantly Hope finally gave Lysa the money when they got to the window.
Read this carefully as Lysa points out how we do this very same thing with God.
Lysa had "special knowledge" that in the mailbox waiting for the birthday girl was a card from her grandma that held $50.00 in it. Her ten-dollar bill would pale in comparison.

God has special knowledge into our lives. He has blessings for the radically obedient that make the dime-store stuff we are so intent on holding on to pale in comparison. The question is, do we trust Him? Do we trust that He will bless us? Do we trust that His blessings are infinitely better than what He might first ask us to release?

Read that last question again...Do we trust that His blessings are infinitely better than what He might FIRST ASK US TO RELEASE?

My mind goes to my Mom and the special bond she formed with one of her foster children. I recently posted on this little one. This baby came to my parents unloved and despised by her birth mother and Mom nurtured her, loved her and gave her the best first year of life any mother could give a child. Carmie knew without a doubt that she was loved by my Mom. When the kids were returned to a biological mom that can't support them and has stated how she "hates Carmelita", my Mom was faced with a choice. Curl up in a ball and cry her heart out, which she has shed many tears over this child OR trust in God through the tears and pain. She had to believe that His blessings are better than holding on to Carmie. As painful as these last few months have been missing her, she had to release her to God, not to the biological mother but to God, and because of her obedience He is able to use her in the life of another baby girl.

The next section called 'The Floodgates of Blessing' is probably one of my favorites as my friend Yolanda from Higher Grounds would say, "Bragging on God" moments from Lysa.

Sacrificial giving is one of the few times God asks us to test Him.
On page 129, Lysa tells us how God ties in obedience with blessing.

He wants us to venture into truly abundant giving. He wants us to get out from under our own selfishness with our possessions and accept His invitation to become radically obedient with what we own. Then, not only will He bless us, but He will lavish blessing upon blessing on us.

Did you not love how Lysa shared of when she felt like an out-of-fashion speaker and so she saved $100.00 and invited her fashion conscience girlfriends to shop with her for new clothes? Then came the unexpected phone call from a friend asking for prayer regarding finances and how her family was in desperate need of $100.00 ASAP unaware of Lysa's stash. Lysa listened to God and gave her friend the money with a willing heart. Because Lysa's desire to obey God was greater than her desire to look stylish, she allowed God to open the floodgates of heaven and pour a huge blessing upon her. Instead of canceling her shopping date with her friends she went and tried on clothes with the plan to put on hold what her friends picked out for her and return when she had the money. Her plan was a good one, but God had something else in mind. While in the dressing room she had no idea her friends were also being obedient to God as they paid for the clothes and blessed her with a $700.00 shopping spree!

How awesome is our God?

We can never out do the blessings of our Lord. Never. He just has more up His holy sleeve than we can even begin to pretend to know and He will take us to our knees in praise every time He acknowledges our obedience.

We just have to trust Him ladies!

If we choose to obey and give of our resources in abundance, a feeling of amazing satisfaction will follow. The radical blessing of being able to take hold of a real life----a fulfilled and satisfied life we can't find any other way---will be ours.

The last part of this chapter really spoke loud to my heart. She titled the segment of this chapter, 'The Blessings of a Sacrificial Life'.

God owns it all. We are simply managers of His resources. When we pursue the beautiful opportunities of sacrificial living, we freely acknowledge that truth and then reap the blessings. When we come to understand that we're giving up what was never ours to begin with, we're walking in radical obedience.

I actually wrote the words "Get this Lelia!!" underneath that last sentence in my book.
My husband...God's.

Our kids...God's.

Our grand baby Amiyah...all God's.

Our paychecks...again...God's.

Our's His.

None of what I listed above are truly "mine" and until I get that and stop trying be the control freak that I naturally am, I am missing out on what God has waiting just for me and my family. Until I choose to have a heart that is radically obedient to whatever God asks of me...

My husband will never live up to my unfair expectations

I will have heartache when I don't trust God with my kids and grand baby

I will never feel like we have enough money and will spend foolishly

Housework will be a burden instead of an opportunity to show God I appreciate the shelter He's provided us.

Let's get this dear friends; let's get this today instead of tomorrow.

Please post a comment of what God lays on your heart to share. If you have a blog and have more to bless us with, please sign up below so we can visit you.
~Many Blessings~

Monday, May 12, 2008

Perfect in her eyes...

Yesterday so many woman heard the words, "Happy Mother's Day". It was my daughter's first Mother's Day and I loved seeing the pride in her eyes as she held her little Amiyah. I cried in church as our worship leader sang a beautiful solo dedicated to all the mom's as I rubbed Alyssa's back. It was very touching. One line I remember from it was that " you're changing the world one heartbeat at a time".

Before church my 6 year old daughter Alivia came into the kitchen with her gift that she made me in school. She also made a beautiful card to go with her poem. On the front of the card it said, "Happy Mother's Day", on the inside, "Dear Mom, your the best. Love, Alivia I love mom". It was the back of the card that got me the most....
"Your perfect.

I love mom"

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know most of the time I feel like the biggest failure as a
Mom? Does she know that I have had many times that I've whispered I love yous over her as she slept because I over-reacted to something she did?

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know of my ugly past that only God is big enough to handle all the details of? Does she know that I cuss when I get real angry? Does she know I sometimes disrespect her Daddy when I try to teach her to respect him at all cost?

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know that even though I tell her every morning before school to please God with her words, actions and how she does her schoolwork that some days I fail at doing that very thing in my job before her school day is even finished?

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know as I teach her how to talk to God through prayer that sometimes I feel so unworthy of praying with her? That I feel like God can't hear me? Does she know that I want a relationship with God like she has...innocent and pure?

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know when I found out I was pregnant with her since our oldest was 12 and I thought we were done having kids that at first I didn't want her? Does she know how overwhelmed I felt at the thought of having three kids and how I thought a baby would inconvenience my life?
Does she know I regret those selfish thoughts and how I can't imagine my life without her?

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know that when I teach her to treat her friends with love that there are certain people I avoid each week? Does she know sometimes I don't show love to those that are hard to stand?

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know as I try to teach her to tithe and be a cheerful giver that I often cheat God out of blessing us because I look at how big the bills are instead of how big our God is? Does she know that when she tells me after church how she took extra coins and shared them with her friends at church I worry it won't look like she's tithing while she's worried her friends won't be able to give anything to God?

She thinks I'm perfect?
Does she know that Jesus is the only One that is perfect?
Does she know that I'm so far from it?
Does she know I think she's perfect?

Sometimes the way others see us is so far off base. My 6 year old knows I love her. She knows she's safe with me. She knows I love our family. She just has no idea of all the junk in my past and how Satan tries to bring me down all the time. She has no idea how sometimes the Perfect One in me doesn't hear from me for days because I allow myself to get caught up in the lies of the enemy.

I love this little girl so much I just want to go wake her up right now from kissing all over her beautiful face. I won't because it's almost 2am, but I want to.

I have no idea what her definition of perfect is, but if she thinks I'm it, then isn't she in for a treat as her relationship with her Savior grows.

Jesus, thank you for this little girl.
I love the heart she has for You and her passion to pray for others.
I think she's perfect Lord because what I see in her is You.

She has no idea that without Jesus I am simply nothing and that He is the only perfect in me.

~Many Blessings~

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Psalm 46:10 Be Still and Know that I am God...

Do you ever get out of sorts sometimes with the daily pulls of life? One of my favorite parts of my day is spending alone time with God. Some days I sleep in and miss out. I find when I choose not to spend any time with God that the excuses start to roll off my tongue a lot easier every day.
Too tired, too busy, not enough time...

When my priorities are out of line and God is not number 1 in my life it is so much easier for the enemy to go at me. I become vulnerable and can talk myself into anything. When I am out of sorts, it is so crucial for me to regroup and make Jesus the center of my life again because without Him as my focus my attention is easily swayed.
This picture isn't the best quality because I took it on my cell phone, but I love how content Amiyah looks sitting on the lap of her Grandpa; his strong arms engulfing her tiny frame.

Sometimes we just need to crawl up into the lap of our Savior and just sit and allow ourselves to be surrounded by the strength of His arms. There is nothing that compares to leaning up against the chest of our Savior and just listening to His Majesty breathe life over us.

Today may I encourage you to take the time to crawl up into Jesus' lap and simply rest in His Presence.

~Many Blessings~

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Week 7: YES to GOD Tuesday study


I can't believe we're halfway through the book & Bible study, "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" by Lysa TerKeurst. I'm sure she is getting prepared for She Speaks coming up in June. If you have a minute click here to go to her blog and let her know what God has done in your heart through her book. I'm sure at this busy time in her life your words will encourage her heart. Let's get started...and by the way, anything in blue means I'm quoting Lysa from the book.

Lysa begins this chapter with a story of how her and her husband Art were blessed with some extra money and they had different ideas of what to do with the money. She wanted curtains for her kitchen. He wanted to give the money to ministry.

I loved Lysa's transparency as she talked of her harsh facial expression and how it was "reflective of something ugly in my heart. My desire about what to do with the money had been all about me, me, me! Never once did I stop to pray."

I wonder, as we are all about to receive our tax relief checks from the government if any of us are going through the same thing. If married, unexpected blessings can often turn into selfishly motivated heated arguments if we let them, unless we are focused on what God's plan for the money is like Art was. If we look into the mirror do we see harshness or obedience? Have we prayed and sought God's direction for the money? Never once did I take a step back to consider God's bigger picture and plan.

In the next section of the chapter, Lysa tells us to be radically obedient is to keep God's vision clearly in front of us, to be so busy looking at what He wants, looking at Him, that everything else becomes less important.

God doesn't want us to obey partially, He wants our complete obedience, full attention and absolute devotion.

I loved the story of Lysa's daughter Ashley. To get what it takes to obey God at such a young age is just so awesome. When Lysa tried to tell her it was okay to stop fasting and eat a little something Ashley's wisdom made me cry like a baby. "Mom , I know exactly what God told me to do and I want to be obedient. I did not call for you to talk me out of this. I just need for you to pray for me to have the strength to continue." WOW!!! Radical obedience, no compromise, just obedience. I want that in my life. Ashley desired God's obedience more than she wanted to fill her tummy with partial obedience. Let's learn from this of God here ladies!

The last part of the chapter Lysa talked of Simon Peter when he was in his boat. Didn't make much sense what God was asking him to do, but his response was what Jesus was after. "But because you say so, I will let down the nets" Luke 2:5.

Our calling is revealed as we walk in daily obedience in the little things.

Lysa shows us how Peter's life displayed a radically obedient life.

1.) Our call to obedience may challenge our pride.

2.) God uses our experiences to equip us for our calling. God doesn't waste our experiences in life. I loved what my friend Pamela from In His Graces said on her blog in a post last week. "Using my sufferings for God's glory may be painful but maybe one soul will avoid the same sins I have experienced, maybe one soul will come to know Christ. That is what it is all about."

Philippians 1:12 being lived out!

3.)Our obedience may inspire others to respond.

The last section of this chapter asks us where is our vision focused? What touched me the most about this whole chapter besides Ashley's testimony, is what Lysa said about playing games at the foot of the cross. "It's hard to imagine anyone playing games in the shadow of the cross..."

Playing games at the foot of the cross is what we do every time our heart wants us to follow the path of obedience and our flesh desires to take a different path and we give in to our flesh. Lord knows I've played a lot of games that have only resulted in regret. Got to obey.

Please leave your thoughts & if you have more to share sign up below and we'll come visit your blog.

~Many Blessings~

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pieces of Blessings

What a week this has been.

When we got home from our 2nd hospital stay in one week...first Gene in Omaha having back surgery, then our grandbaby Amiyah's birth...our church family stepped in and provided meals for our family. Tacos, meat loaf, chicken alfredo, chocolate cake, fruit, sausage was such a blessing to me as it gave me time to love on my new little granddaughter instead of spending time in the kitchen.

Well, last Sunday after the church service, I pulled the car to the front of the church so I could take in the box of dishes I needed to return to everyone. I lifted the box full of casserole dishes out of the trunk and there I was. Standing in the house of God's parking lot about to cuss up a storm, but thankfully, I was too shocked too speak. The side and bottom of the box had come apart and the dishes had fallen onto the rock drive.

Shattered pieces lay at my feet as I stood in unbelief. I was so thankful pre-Jesus Lelia didn't show up and say any 4 letter words as I cleaned up my mess, because a lovely elderly couple were quickly by my side helping me.

Almost in tears, I made my way into the church trying to hold together the box. Gene smiled at me, but could tell something was wrong. I sat the box down on a table and let him see for himself. "What happened?" he asked. I just looked at him and felt like saying, "Oh, I don't know honey I decided to show my gratitude by smashing every one's dishes."
But instead I said, "The box broke."

I wanted to go wait in the car and leave Gene alone to face the owners of the broken dishes, but I stood by my man. That's when our close friend, David, made his way over to us. Seeing what happened he began to hold up broken pieces asking, "Church, does anyone recognize this?" I did end up crying, but it was because I was laughing so hard when David called over the man who brought us tacos. David had covered the box with a towel and held up the corner of it asking if Jim could identify any of the dishes. Turned out that both of the broken dishes belonged to Jim and his wife.
Oh my.
David went on to say that in the future the church would advise providing meals in Tupperware containers when blessing the Chealey's.

Isn't it cool though that with Jesus He wants us just the way we are. Some of us have some really shattered pasts. A history that you carry around in a box because you think that God would never want anything to do with the likes of you. Because of your past you mark yourself as unusable and unworthy.
When Jim saw the broken pieces in the box and realized that they were both of his dishes, after much laughter, he threw them in the garbage. He didn't want them. He didn't take them home and fix them or use them the way they were.

But dear friends, that is not how God works. He takes our box of brokenness and when we allow Him to, He begins to use our PAST in our PRESENT. He takes our shattered past and makes into something usable to enhance His Kingdom. Fortunate for us, God doesn't see our past the same way we do and that is why He is able to use if for His glory.

We see shame, He sees redemption.
We see pain, He sees healing.
We see sorrow, He sees joy.
We see a mess, He sees a vessel.
We see regret, He sees promise.

Whatever shattered pieces are in your box, don't throw yourself away.
Instead, go to the King and let Him put you back together piece by piece.
Let Him use you just the way you are.
Life is amazing when your past is glorifying your Savior instead of haunting you.

Okay, now for the contest!
We loved reading all of the responses!
So, I asked the kids...
Alivia loved Lolly and Pop which was submitted by my uncle Chris and aunt Brenda in Birmingham & cousin Rhiannon. But she quickly found herself torn between "Lolly" and "Yo-Mama" submitted by Sita from Canada. Not sure if I trust her decision making skills at this point. Kind of hard to imagine being in public and Amiyah saying "Yo-Mama, can I have some candy?"

Aaron just looked at me as to say, "You want me to pick a name out for you to be called by someone who can't even talk for 2 years and I can't even figure out which girl I like this week?" Instead, he just shrugged his I'm too cool to cast a vote teenage shoulders and off to Alyssa I went.

Alyssa loved Ya Ya from Liz the best, but thought Lolly was cute too. Then she flipped on me and while laughing she said, "She's callin' you Grandma so get used to it!"

So off to Gene I went...

He loved MeMa from Rebecca and also could see us being called Lolly & Pop.

I personally loved Emily's suggestion of HOT GRANNY!

I am so humbled by all of the sweet compliments thrown my way and I have put all of them on 3x5 cards to make memorizing them easier for Gene!
You all are too sweet~thank you!
And no worries sweet Joy, I am completely cherishing being Amiyah's Grandma. I just don't want her to call me that, but rest assured if she does, I'll be the puddle on the floor because I've melted from the sound of her sweet voice.
OKAY...ready for the winner?
Congratulations Sandra!
When I wake Amiyah up this morning the first words she'll hear will be...
"Good morning Precious, your NONNIE loves you!"
What is really cool is so many of you talked of names that you called a favorite woman in your life...your Grandma. Growing up I remember my Dad always talking so fondly of his Grandma which he called Nonnie. She died when I was a kid, so I personally don't have any memories of her. He really loved her and she was a writer, which is a love of mine, so being called Nonnie will be an honor.
Sandra~e-mail me your address. I've got your book ready to go!
Thank you so much for your help. This was really tough, but lots of fun. And Uncle Chris & Aunt Brenda, tell Rhiannon that we loved Lolly & Pop and I have a feeling that Miss Alivia will be calling me Lolly since that was her first vote.
~Many Blessings~