Thursday, September 23, 2010

No more being fake!

A block away from our home is the cutest house ever.
It almost looks like a little cottage out of a storybook and I've always loved the look of it.  
Back in the spring of 2003 the house was put up for sale and my mom, who has also loved it, wanted to see the inside of the home. 
She would call the realtor, but could never get a showing because as soon as there was interest, they would take it off the market. It was so strange. 

Watching the news one summer night explained why the For Sale sign kept getting taken down.
Neighbors had called the health department on the two women that owned the house. 
They were being reported for a smell coming from their home.
City officials responded and quickly removed 78 cats and 2 dogs from the home.  
Seventy-eight felines. 
In a small 2 bedroom cottage on the corner.

Recently I was visiting with my friend who lives next door to the former Cat Group Home and I commented on what a great job the new owners have done with the place. That's when she told me that when they began building their addition and started digging, they found graves of cats in plastic bags.
The health department again was called out and they discovered over 80 buried cats on the property. 
Little did I know all along I was admiring a cat cemetery, not a cottage that could be found in a
 Thomas Kinkaid painting.

My friend said that the new owners had to completely re-gut the house and put all new stuff in to get rid of the smell of the cat urine left behind. The paper reported that Animal control officers could smell the urine while standing 50 feet from their home.
I had never been that close to the house, instead just admiring it from a distance, so I had no idea. 
What my Mom and I thought looked good on the outside was actually unlivable on the inside. 

Don't we get like this sometimes? 
So worried about what the outside looks like that we forget about our heart?
We want to look good from a distance and can easily accomplish that goal.
So many of us can look like we have it all together to the naked eye, and the closer people get, the more they smell our stinking hearts. 
When we allow Jesus to take over, it won't be cats He carries out of our our heart, but instead things like jealousy, anger, pride...and so on.
Jesus wants to re-gut our hearts and fill it up with Himself.

When Jesus is what we're all about, the aroma of Christ will come seeping out of our hearts and our insides will match up with our outside appearance.
All because of our sweet Savior.
My girlfriend Lisa Whittle is much like this. What you see on the outside is what you see on the inside. 
Straight up beauty.
Pure Jesus girl.  
The real deal.
I just went to Lisa's blog so I could link her and read her post The Ugly Truth. Oh my goodness!!
 This is exactly what I'm talking about. Go read it. So worth your time.

Let's pursue Jesus Christ and let Him invade us from the inside out!

Join me next Tuesday for the next Yes to God study of Rachel Olsen's new book, 
It's No Secret front cover
 Get the book and join in anytime!
You don't have to be a blogger to join us.
Discussion of chapter 1 will be 
Tuesday, September 28th
See you here!
Click on the Yes to God FAQ's on the right side of my blog if you have never joined an on-line blog study before. 
And if you read this last post...I hope you are praying for the 3 women with cancer.
Thank you! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

3 women/3 cancers/ONE JESUS

Some people start dreading Monday's on Sunday and wake up every week with this attitude...

But then by Friday their attitude has flipped and they feel like this...

Not all people are like this though. 
There are some who wake up like this most days...

Just choosing to praise God before the day even has a chance to get to her. 

Over the last few weeks I have found out that 2 women I have blogged with over the last two years and have had the privilege of meeting both in person are battling cancer. Then over the weekend I found out that a guy I know through high school is married to a woman who is also fighting for her life. 
All three daughters of the King, wives and mothers.
Let me introduce you to Elaine, Veronica and Amy.

When I look at the things I complain about I feel so silly to know that there are 3 of my Sisters in Christ waking up every morning knowing that they have something in their body that doesn't belong. 
And as I have read through each one's blog and/or CaringBridge posts they are all three looking like Elaine does in this picture...

They may be the first to tell me that it's not all it seems to be and that they have their bad days too. That's fine, they're human, but when I see a woman in the midst of a battle for her life and her belief in God hasn't wavered, but instead increased, the picture above is what they each look like.

Just letting their Jesus soak through them.  
My heart is heavy for each one of them. 
They have children and husbands who adore them. 
They have already or will soon lose their hair. 
They are physically weak and sick. 
But even with all they are physically and emotionally enduring, each lady is
praising, seeking and trusting in
Jesus Christ, their Savior.

I introduced the 3 of them over the weekend via Facebook and through tears, laughed as I read Amy and Elaine telling Veronica how she is "rock'n" the bald head look.

 They are encouraging each other and praying for one another and they are sharing their stories.
And they know the One thing besides cancer they have in common is Jesus Christ. 
Three beautiful women in different parts of the country. 
Three different cancers invading their body. 
ONE Savior.
Not one of them has turned away or stopped trusting Him. 
In Amy's CaringBridge post today she expressed her anger at the enemy and I loved how real she is. 

The last time I talked to Elaine was over the summer.
She had just written her first book and I called to congratulate her. 
Book Release... "peace for the journey: in the pleasure of his company"
So now that she is in a battle, does she toss her own book out or rely on all God has taught her up to this point? I mean c'mon, can one really have Peace for the Journey when it comes to cancer?

So what am I learning from these three beautiful godly women? 
So far, I have learned to embrace my Jesus. 
Praise Him all of the time. Not just when it's Friday. 
Seek Him deeply.

You may not have cancer in common with these women, but if you are saved then the One thing you have in common with them is Jesus Christ. 
And whether we have cancer or not, He wants and desires our praises. 
He doesn't want to be your god who you turn to in an emergency or on Easter and Christmas. 
He wants to be your God that you want more than what your flesh wants. 
He wants to be the God that you talk to about every little and big thing in your life. 
He wants to be the God you surrender completely to.
He wants to be your Everything when you are sick and when you are healthy.
He wants to be the reason you leave yourself behind.

These are women filled more with Jesus than they are cancer. 
And that's what life should be about. 
Many of us may never get cancer or any other life threatening disease.  
We may just seek Him out of convenience, not desire.
I think what is scary is that we can go through life and not ever really get to know our Savior.
And by choice we may never get to know Him past the baby in the manger.
I don't want to wait until life takes me to an unfamiliar place before I get on bended knee. 
I want to choose to daily surrender fully to Jesus now.
I want to be like these women and do it before anything dangerous comes my way.

From what I know of Vern and Elaine and what I've read about Amy, these women were praising and seeking their Savior prior to their diagnosis.
Now they've just taken it up a notch.
How many unbelievers will cross paths with these women? 
Doctors, nurses, lab technicians, volunteers...
How many lives will be changed watching them stay faithful to the Faithful One? 
Their love and passion for Jesus that no matter what, will not be surrendered.  

Amy woke this morning to see one of her children in bed reading her Bible. 
Not playing video games. Not texting, not watching television. 
Reading God's Word!
What a way to start your day off. 

Three women 
Three lives 
Three cancers

One Jesus who knows exactly what we're going through.

Please keep these women and their families in your prayers and go visit them...

Veronica (Vern) Hutcherson at her CaringBridge website.

Elaine Olsen at her blog Peace for the Journey and to order Elaine's book, click here.

Amy Bowman at her CaringBridge website or her blog New Nostalgia

*And all 3 are on Facebook.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shhhh....It's a Secret, I mean, IT'S NO SECRET!

The current YES to GOD blog study that I'm "leading", or rather avoiding, has truly been the toughest. I didn't expect it to be hard and looking back I'm not sure what I thought it would be like. It's forced me to relive a part of my ugly past that I never wanted to return to. I've talked about my regret of choosing abortion over trusting God before, but I've never had to really look at my choice. Tomorrow I will blog on chapter 6&7 and next Tuesday, I'll wrap it up with the last chapter. I'm sorry to anyone who has been following it for my inconsistency to blog on time but one thing I realized about myself through this is that I would rather suffer in silence than deal head on with something so painful. The problem with stuffing such pain it's still fair game for the devil to use it against you. So, I will keep going and allowing God to slowly peel back layers of my heart that I would rather Him just leave alone. He never listens to me. So if you have been following along with that study, I will be posting tomorrow for sure. 

When I started the current study, I knew not everyone would be able to relate, thank God.
Knowing that it was near it's end, I've been wondering what book God would want us to do for the next YES to GOD blog study. And then along came Rachel Olsen of Proverbs 31 Ministries, unveiling her new book called
"It's No Secret" and it caught my eye. For the few women who have experienced love at first sight with their man, it was like that for me with this book, just by the cover alone. 
I mean, look at this and tell me you wouldn't be one of the first to order this.
It's No Secret front cover

I don't know if you can read it, but the red words say

Revealing Divine Truths?
Secrets about and from God? 
Lately my heart as just been longing for more of Him. 
I don't want to be one of those Christian women that keeps Him to myself. 
I want more.
I crave more of Him to the point my teenage son leaned over in church yesterday and asked me,
"Why are you crying?". 

Here are some things I found in Rachel's book and Sisters, this is just the intro...

In the pages of this book, you and I will find a dozen hidden treasures of wisdom Christ longs to reveal to us. These teachings run counter to what our culture tells us about successful living. I hope we will grasp each of these simple-yet-divine secrets for successful living in the kingdom of God, apply them, and share them with others. 

These God-sized secrets contain the keys we are looking for--answers to the issues of modern life, such as exhausting schedules, unpaid bills, relational conflicts, and unmet expectations. These secrets, and their Source, are the solution to the longings of our souls. 

God eagerly awaits to share with us great secrets from His Word.  

I want more of Him, don't you? 
He knows we need Him and He is never finished with revealing Himself to us. 
There's way too much of Him for us to ever be able to get to the point of being a "know it all Christian". 
There are just too many sides of Him that allows us the comfort of ending our pursuit of Him.

Not long ago, I found out after 20 years of knowing my husband that I didn't know everything about him like I claimed.
I knew Gene played basketball.
I knew he was good enough to be recruited and given a full scholarship to Nebraska in the 80's for football.
But what I did not know is that he was once a wrestler.
Once I got past the visual of him being in this sport, truth be told, it was rather exciting to find out this side of him that he had failed to reveal to me. For 20 years.
As exciting to my soul that it was to find out something new about my husband,
it can't compare to being revealed a side of our Savior we had no idea existed .
Yes, more thrilling it is to find out things about Jesus Christ than finding out your muscular, athletic husband once put a tight fitting outfit on and wrestled around on a mat with another guy.
Way more exciting!

Yesterday in church, we read Colossians 1:27 and it penetrated my heart  to the point of tears.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, 
which is Christ in you, 
the hope of glory. 

It was the reference to Christ as the hope of glory that got me. 
My past is part of Satan's resume, but to know that no matter what I have done, I have Jesus Christ, the Hope of Glory in me is amazing.
And to think that it's right where He wants to be just floors this once girl gone wild.
The Hope of Glory
And He has things that He wants me to know about Him, even after years of calling myself a Christian. 
He has used Rachel Olsen to write
It's No Secret
to deliver twelve divine truths into our heart. 
Let's get what our Heavenly Father has for us in this book. 

Yesterday Rachel and I were corresponding through e-mail and one thing I said was this...
There's not a study I've hosted that God hasn't done some changing in me. 
So, I anticipate much from my King as we begin a new book study because I know enough about Him to know He's not about women adding a book to their library. 
He's about us changing and letting us get to know Him more.

If you are looking for a blog study to participate in, I hope you will join me for the next 
blog study starting on 
Tuesday, September 28th to discuss chapter 1 of 
It's No Secret 
by Rachel Olsen
After Tuesday the 28th, we will continue to meet here every Tuesday, discussing one chapter a week. 
If you have never visited Rachel's blog, click here and go see her.
(She even has where you can read the intro and chapter one of the book if you want to in the entry from September 7th).
I met her at the women's Christian writing and speaking conference, She Speaks  in 2008 and she is as wonderful in person as she is through her blog. 

Don't just go shopping for another book. 
Buy the book and look forward to God doing some amazing things in your heart and life. 
Go into this with anticipation of a King that doesn't know how to disappoint. 
Allow Him to change you from the inside out and reveal truths that we need to know. 

I'm so excited! 
So, invite a friend or 2 or 4 and join me on Tuesday, September 28th
If you've never done a blog study before, on the right side of my blog there are FAQ's about 

  Click here to buy It's No Secret and then get ready my Sister, as our

 Hope of Glory
 leads us to a place we've never been before with Him. 

If you are interested in doing this blog study with me, please leave a comment below and know you will be lifted up in prayer. 
OH, and I heard this song before church yesterday and it stirred up a desire in my heart that was really crazy to feel. She just sang what was in my heart.
 I love the Lord so very much...I really hope He knows that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

YES to GOD Study: Surrendering the Secret/Week 5

Welcome, to 
on Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, my husband Gene had his 4th back surgery. I was in Omaha with him until Friday afternoon and now home helping him recover. I'll share with you this Friday the cool thing God did in a separate post, otherwise I'd be writing a book today.

This Yes to God study of Pat Layton's book, Surrendering the Secret 

has by far been the toughest for me to tackle.
And if you're anything like me, then when you don't want to deal with something you just stuff it. Over the last month of "leading" this study I have exchanged excuses for blogging. Some big things have happened, but I still committed to doing this with Jennifer and I have in no way done my part. If we were doing this in real life, I probably would have stopped showing up for the meetings. Because for a short period of time, when you stuff something so far down in your heart you can pretend that it's gone away. Until something happens to remind you of your secrets. Not a fun way to live.
So, no more excuses, no more avoiding the STS book, let's just let God get to it. 

SESSION 5: FORGIVENESS: A Giant Step Toward Freedom
Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

On the 3rd page of this session Pat has a section called: 
Objectives for this Session
*Increase openness to the concept of forgiveness
*Recognize what true forgiveness is an is not
*Understand the benefits of forgiveness and the consequences of not forgiving
*Separate the conscious choice of forgiving from our emotions
*Verbalize an understanding of God's forgiveness in our own lives

Then she wrote this...Put the burden of resentment in God's hands. Holding on to anger and unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die from its effects. 

I've never thought until this study that I've never forgiven myself for my horrible choice and how that has effected my life. I'm drinking in my own poison and it's effecting so many areas of my life.

One of the things Pat does is tells us what forgiveness isn't...
Forgiveness is
NOT forgetting.~Forgiveness does not imply amnesia.
NOT minimizing the hurt.~Forgiveness calls the violation what it is just as an umpire calls what he sees.
NOT necessarily mean reconciliation.~Forgiveness recognizes that reconciliation may be neither possible nor wise following an abortion.

At the end of the session, Pat addresses forgiving yourself.
It's common for post-abortive women to feel that while God has forgiven them, they need to forgive themselves. But the Bible never identifies the need to forgive ourselves. The key is not forgiving yourself but accepting God's forgiveness. 

I always make things about myself and yet Pat clearly is telling me, "Once again Lelia, stop making this about YOU. This is about really accepting God's grace and forgiveness."
When we as Christ-followers say, "I know God can forgive me, but I can't forgive myself," we are elevating our ability to forgive over God's ability. True healing and freedom only occur when we can accept the forgiveness God so graciously wants to give each of us. In not completely accepting God's forgiveness, you're essentially buying the lie that Christ's sacrifice on the cross was not sufficient to cover your abortion.

Can you even imagine standing at the foot of the cross back when Jesus was actually on it?
You've just watched Him get beaten beyond recognition, spit on and made fun of  by some dirty soldiers.
You've stood by in horror watching as they nailed his broken, bruised and bleeding body to the cross.
You watch as His helpless mother prays over her dying Son.
And then you walk up to His bloodied feet, look up to Him and wait until you have His attention and say
 "Not enough, Jesus. This isn't enough to pay for all I've done and will do. You got anything else?"

I think His mother Mary would've found the strength to take you out herself.
It sounds crazy, but this is what we all do when we don't accept His forgiveness.
What He allowed to happen to Him on that cross was, is and always will be enough for us.
More than enough. 
Our sins, no matter how big or small, were covered that day and continue to have complete coverage.
We just have to accept His forgiveness so our healing can begin.
Like Paul penned many moons ago...His grace is sufficient enough.

Please visit the lovely Jennifer for her insight to session 5. 
And visit the author, Pat at her blog, Surrendering the Secret.
Come back by in a few days, I have an amazing story about what God did last week.
He is just so worth this journey!