Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finally some wisdom sets in

This Sunday is the Lincoln Marathon. 
We live very close to the route of the marathon and after 12 years you think we'd learn where not to go. One Sunday a few years ago, the kids and I were at church waiting for Gene to show up. I waited and waited alone in the sanctuary and no husband. At that time Gene didn't believe in cell phones so I had no idea what had happened to him. 

We returned home after service to find out that he had only made it 3 blocks from our home and spent over an hour just sitting in traffic unable to go through the intersection due to so many runners. The wait was so long he turned off his truck and just sat there in frustration watching the runners pass by him.

This week I received an e-mail warning us of the traffic delays caused by the marathon. Here is the first paragraph: The goal of this e-mail is to make people aware that ingress/egress to 
downtown is best from the east on Vine, Q, P, or O Street once the 
runners clear 16th at the start. Also that motorists can avoid long 
delays trying to cross Capitol Parkway by actually looping around it.

The words you find consistent throughout the rest of the e-mail are: busy, delay, divert, congestion, very difficult.  

So often in life, I have found myself in a place that I have wondered, how did I get here? Places that have caused me frustration. Just like this e-mail warning us to not go certain places, God warns us in the Bible of places that aren't good for us. 

In Proverbs 5:7-8 He tells us to stay away from adultery: Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house.

And yet affairs happen every day.

In 1 Peter 5:8 we're strongly warned of the devil: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

And yet we're in shock when we are under attack. 

Throughout God's Word, we have warnings of what can happen to us if we go places we aren't supposed to be whether in person or in our mind. And yet, we let go of God's hand and wander off on our own path of destruction. 

Over and over again. 

When we do this we get very busy with meaningless things. 
We divert others from getting to know our Jesus. 
We get caught in the congestion of sin and the consequences of it. 
And when we part from God, our life is very difficult

We have to take our Father's words to heart and learn from our bad choices instead of repeating them. 
So many times we are repeat offenders for years before we realize that this just isn't working for us. As the 
e-mail above suggests, let's loop around the plans that Satan has for us and stay on course with God's plans for our lives. 

After 12 years of getting stuck in traffic and either missing church or being late, we have finally caught on. We'll be at church at 6pm on Saturday night this year. And on Sunday you'll find us 3 blocks from our home in lawn chairs cheering on our brave friends running in front of frustrated motorists. 


*Also...those that have contributed to helping me get to the Proverbs 31 Ministries writer/speaker conference this summer whether by prayer or finances...I am humbled, blessed and have been brought to many tears. Thank you so much for believing in this woman in Nebraska. 
May God bless you in ways you can't imagine like He has me. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two Miles

Last night I watched American Idol and Jacob sang a song by Luther Vandross called "Dance with my Father Again". Before singing, he shared how  when he was 12 years old his Dad died.
At the end of the song, judge Steven Tyler made the comment, "Your Daddy was up there listening to you."

I don't know if it's manners or what, but I hear this kind of thing often said about people that have died. People just assume that the person that passed away went to heaven, that they're "up there".
And we can't blame them. It would have been absurd for Steven Tyler to say, "You're Daddy was down there listening to you." So in our attempt to say the right thing and ease the pain, we paint this picture that when you die, you are heaven bound.

But let's put our manners aside for a second and get real with one another.

The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. 
We cannot wish our way to heaven. 
We cannot be good enough and get to heaven. 
Heaven is our eternal dwelling because of our choice of Jesus. 
It's not a prize we get after we exhale our last breath.

Those in heaven are there because of the choice they made to believe that Jesus Christ is more than just a nice guy. They confessed to being a sinner and accepted the free gift of salvation from God.

Twenty years ago on December 16th, after throwing a successful surprise birthday party for her Mom Carol, my beautiful friend Jennifer left the party. Two short miles from her childhood home, her car was struck by a drunk driver and she was killed at 18 years old. A week before Christmas, tragedy rocked our world.

I just talked to Carol on Jen's 40th birthday, April 6th. We always talk about Jen and wonder what she is up to and we can say with confidence that she is looking down on us.
It's not just something said that makes Carol feel good. It's a truth that fills Carol with hope because she knows without a doubt in her heart, she'll see her girl again.
All because Jennifer accepted Jesus Christ and the gift of His life on the cross. A choice that changed where she'd spend eternity. She didn't put off asking Jesus to be hers. And because of her choice, there has not been one time in the last 20 years that we've wondered where Jennifer is.

We have to confess our sins, ask Jesus to forgive us and choose Jesus and if we don't, heaven is not where we'll go. Many wait on this decision because they think they have to "get cleaned up first" and be perfect before they make this choice. But Jesus wants us as is now not later.

The next time you leave your house,
what if your life ends just 2 miles down the road?
Where will you spend eternity

I'd be a fool to assume everyone who reads this blog has a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you have never invited Him into your life, I want to encourage you not to wait.
He is worth getting to know.
My girlfriends over at Proverbs 31 Ministries have an incredible page on their website that walks you through responding to the free gift from God. Click HERE if you want to learn how to make a decision that will change where you spend eternity.

Easter is upon us and many will hear about Jesus for the first time
and how He died on the cross for our sins.
And rose 3 days later. 
Will they choose Him today or save Salvation for another day? 

I hope they choose Him today,
 for we never know when we're traveling the last 2 miles of our life on earth. 

~Many Blessings~

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No connection at this time

My Dad, Acey used to be on Facebook. 
Until he got annoyed with all the posts that notified him every time someone made a move or drove through a Starbucks. 

Still thinking he was MIA on FB, imagine my shock when I saw this on my sister Michelle's Facebook page...

I love ya, kid, Dad

March 30 at 10:42pm via Android ·  ·  · See Friendship

    • Michelle Jane I love ya too Dad, thanks I needed that:)
      March 31 at 8:43pm · 

    • Lelia Chealey What the heck????? He hasn't even accepted my friend request. Hmmmm.
      March 31 at 9:31pm ·  ·  1 person

Excited, I remembered that I had requested to be friends a long time ago, but since he had stopped any interaction on FB I thought my request got lost.
So I looked and I put my request for friendship in again and I waited.
And waited.
Then I was on my high school friends' page and saw he is my Dad's friend.
Then I saw Dad recently became friends with this kid at our church.

So I did what any confused daughter would do.
I clicked on the ADD FRIEND button to re-request my dear Dad to be my friend.
Only to get this instant rejection message...

Isn't it good to know that when we pray and try to  connect to God we don't have to worry about getting this kind of message?

 Jeremiah 29:12-13 tells us that when we pray to God, He will listen and when seek Him with ALL of our heart, He WILL be found. We may have to quiet ourselves enough to hear from Him and it may not be the answer we were hoping for, but one thing we know for sure is there won't be a delay in connection. He will be found for those who seek. We won't get a message back that says You have already sent a request to connect.

As of today, April 19, 2011 my Dad and I are still Facebook strangers.
Michelle's profile picture of the 3 of us mocks me every time she visits my page.
Ignoring my friend request is not a smart move 2 months before Father's Day!
Hopefully his FB BFF/daughter Michelle will take over my tradition and take him Key Lime pie!

Thank You Lord, that You are a Father that connects to His children! 

P.S. Michelle, send Dad a FB message that I love him. :)

UPDATE: As of 3:10pm my Dad & I are now Facebook Friends!
The threat of no pie must have got the best of him. :)  Love you Dad!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Missing out...for nothing

As a Mom, I want my kids to grow up to be respectful adults.
And in order to not have spoiled kids, parents must discipline their children.
Give them consequences that sink in deep enough that there won't be a next time.

This weekend is my son's first prom and he isn't able to go.
And honestly, it's killing me.
When I think of all the fun he'll be missing out on it breaks my heart.
I want to put the consequences on hold and just tell him to go and make good memories and choices this time, but I know this season of discipline is best for him.

He's my only son and I have thought of the day where he'd be dressed in a tux looking handsome.  And then I'd make him mad at me because I want just one more picture of him and his beautiful date. But because of his choices I'm stuck with heartache instead of pictures and probably a teenager that will try his best to be unpleasant.

This has me thinking of all the choices I've made as an adult and I wonder...
what have I missed out on from my Father
What plans has God had for me that I sabatoged for nothing and had miserable consequences instead of blessing?
Oh Lord...forgive me, nothing is worth choosing sin over You.

If Aaron is rude this weekend, perhaps I'll try squeezing into my prom dress from the 80's and ask him to dance with me.
That should adjust his attitude.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Me...write a book and speak? Are you crazy????

UPDATE (6/20/11) Thank you so much those who contributed financially and also for all the prayers in getting me to She Speaks. God is so amazing! I am heading to She Speaks because my scholarship was fully funded with enough that I am blessed to be able to go the day before to get settled and prepared for the conference that starts on Friday, July 21st. And a blog friend/sister in Christ asked me to be her roommate so I'm able to stay at the conference hotel. THANK YOU & may God bless you above and beyond! 

Since November 2007 I've written here on my blog.
I'm amazed at all God has taught me.

Being a writer and speaker wasn't my childhood dream.
Over the last 20 years of writing God has showed me as I grow up in Him that speaking and writing is exactly what He has in mind for me.

Shortly after starting my blog, God would allow our family to go through uncharted territories. Unfamiliar paths to us, but no surprise to Him.
On this blog He has prompted me to share things that I wanted to keep secret to my grave.
He has loved on me and my family though fellow bloggers and readers and used them to teach me much.
He has connected me to wonderful people through this blog.
People that have given me unconditional love, support and prayers and have been a huge encouragement in my life.
Some people I know and many I have never met.
I am so thankful for each of you.

Although the last 3 years have been tough, God has used the trials to teach us how to trust Him and rely fully on Him. We have experienced not only heartache, but much joy as we learned how to praise Him in the storm. The blessings He has poured down on us have been amazing.

Over and over again God has proven to be our
Provider, Great Physician, Comforter, Wonderful Counselor and the great
Honestly, I wouldn't trade where I'm at with God for an easier path.
He has been worth every step and He is so worth trusting.
As He has grown me spiritually, He has given me growth in my writing.
Doors have opened that should never be opened to a woman with my history.
And yet, my Doorman Who has been holding open the doors, is the only One capable of washing me white as snow as I walk through them.

One thing I've been asked over time is "when are you going to write a book?" and in the last 2 years I've been asked if I speak at women's retreats. A few years ago, I was invited to lead a class at a retreat on writing and I invited a friend to help me. Looking back, I see how God was giving me a taste of where He wants to take me.

Which brings me to where I'm at today. I feel strongly God is moving me in the direction of more writing and to start speaking. To learn more in this area of ministry, the Lord has laid it on my heart to attend the She Speaks Conference in July 2011.

She Speaks is a life-changing conference held in North Carolina for women seeking to step out in the passion God has placed in their heart. 
Hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, She Speaks encourages and equips women to make the most of their messages, communicating God's Word to others. It is a conference led by Christian women and each track is designed to fan the flame of what God has burning inside me. 

She Writes: (Writers Track) From basic writing guidelines to preparing an article or manuscript for submission and everything in between. In addition, the opportunity to meet one-on-one with some of the top editors, publishers, and literary agents in the Christian market.
She Speaks: (Speakers Track) Whether speaking in a large arena or leading Bible studies in church, participants will be equipped with the tools needed to effectively share the Word of God, create a bio sheet, market her ministry, and give successful presentations.

My first step is to raise funds which I am in the process of doing now.
Will you prayerfully consider helping me through a financial contribution towards a scholarship? If you feel led to join me in this exciting call, there are two ways to participate.

Call Proverbs 31 Ministries at 877-731-4663 to contribute by credit card; or send a check payable to Proverbs 31 Ministries to:

Proverbs 31 Ministries
She Speaks Scholarship/Lelia Chealey
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Please be sure to designate the scholarship in my name in order to credit my scholarship fund.
You will be receipted for your tax-deductible donation.

For more information you can visit the She Speaks website by clicking HERE.

Whether or not you can help financially, most importantly please keep me in your prayers as I step forward in faith. Thank you!

Excited. Scared. Humbled. Thankful. READY
If I wait until I think I have it "all together", I'll never follow His lead. 

Many Blessings,

*If you have a room at the conference hotel and need a roommate, please let me know. The hotel is all sold out, but I'm on the waiting list. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My new Un-comfort level

This morning Gene and I were talking about us. And Jesus.
Right now our church is doing a 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.
But we're not. We haven't.
We never have. And so we started talking about it. Trying to justify our "why" of not doing it. Why we are choosing to not model sacrifice to get closer to God to our kids.

And I began to share with my husband. Things I had just said inside my heart to Jesus. The tears fell and the lump in my throat got in the way of the words I tried speaking.

Putting aside our weak justifications we began to get real with one another. Why we didn't start a fast on Sunday is because honestly, we don't want discomfort.
We want Jesus to use us at our comfort level.

This past summer my mom's 63 year old brother committed a crime. His first one. One that the judge sentenced him last month to 30-40 years. Don't let your mind jump to wondering what he did that would give him such a lengthy sentence. If you go there, just leave my blog now because you'll  miss the whole point of this post.

My uncle has a family that he loves. Adult kids, grandkids and a beautiful wife that remains faithful to her vows and his BFF. He loves fishing with my Grandpa. He loves cooking and hunting with his grandson. He loves telling jokes. He had a new truck that he bought last spring with all of the bells and whistles. When he bought something it was the best of the best.
Now, all of his personal belongings, including his shoes, must fit into a space of 4 cubic feet in a small cell.

He made fun of the faith my Mom boldly shared all the years she was the saved minority in her family. He rolled his eyes at any mention of God at family gatherings. He didn't believe in "organized religion" he would daily tell me. He refused to acknowledge that his own Mom is a miracle when every organ doctor she had signed off on her life and gave her 3-24 hours to live in the summer of 2002. She's still alive. He considered Jesus to be the head of the "organized religion" he wanted no part of.

Until the summer of 2010 when caught in his crime he turned to Jesus.
I didn't believe his conversion at first.
Most people behind bars stumble upon God.
But this was different.
He wasn't behind bars yet when he turned to his Savior.
He still had his freedom and he chose to accept the gift of salvation.
He repented, truly repented and was forgiven.
And he went from not reading even the newspaper to being in his new crisp paged Bible for hours. He started going to church. He got baptized with his wife and Mom last fall. He'd cry talking about Jesus. At the begining he'd talk about choosing suicide over prison. But even as thoughts of ending his life he kept reading the his Bible. He welcomed his pastor over to lead a Bible study with his 80 year old parents every Tuesday.
And Jesus stood triumphantly over his enemy.

I received a letter from him on Monday. A letter addressed to me on the outside of the envelope but solely written to Aaron, our teenage son that Satan is having his way with to put it bluntly. Aaron has been in trouble with the law and here is part of the letter from my uncle: 

"Aaron, Please-Please don't go down the wrong path.
I'm sitting here trying to write this to you crying like a little baby.
I thank God every minute for my family and all the love they have shown me and I know they show the same for you.
Don't turn your back on God or your family.
I am sitting in a cell just crying and wishing I could be with my family.
Don't throw away what you have.
It's hard becoming a man---
But with God's help and the people that love you,
you will be a fine young man.
Please keep your act together.
You would never want to come to a place like this,
it is the closest thing to hell on earth there is.
Stop and thank the Lord you have a family that loves you so much.
Don't give up on God."

That's just a piece of this hand written 2 page letter sent to our son.
I look at how my uncle is living today compared to how he lived the first 63 years of life and he has more freedom now in a small cell than he did when he was camping, fishing and hunting when and where he wanted to.
He may never see his name on another fishing license again, but because of his choice to accept Jesus, he will see his name written in the Book of Life.
Freedom only God can give

I told Gene this morning that I want to be Uncomfortable for Jesus
If Jesus took on the flesh again and walked up to my front door, knocked and said, "Follow Me" like he did to the disciples, I want to go WITHOUT hesitation.
Gene shared too and we agreed that we both want this new un-comfort level.
I have never been in this place of complete and I stress complete desire for surrender until now. To the point that it hurts.  

This life on earth....
                                                 A mist
                  Here today, gone tomorrow
                                                 Too comfortable.

I don't want to waste another minute.
I want my life to be just about Him.
To go where He says to go.
To be obedient when He speaks through my pastor asking me to fast.

I want to be Uncomfortable for Jesus.
A Savior that is able to capture the hardened heart of my uncle and then use him in his uncomfortableness. A God who has His holy radar locked on my son from the walls of prison.
That's the Jesus I want to live for and be usable for. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

You are seen

Do you ever feel like one in a million in the Kingdom of God?
Like He isn't paying attention to you at all?

A few years ago, Gene was really struggling, unbeknown to me. He's a man of incredible faith and loves the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind, strength and even bad back. But after being in months of constant pain and continuous back surgeries, he didn't want to pray anymore about his back. He felt like he was just bothering God and he even stopped reading his Bible.

Working a night job and a day job and having very busy mornings, I failed to notice that he was watching TV instead of reading his Bible first thing after waking like he had forever. I didn't notice how down he was due to me being in my own world.

But God did.

One Sunday morning we were getting ready for church and nothing was going right. It was just one of those mornings.We had our granddaughter Amiyah with us and when we arrived at church I realized we had no diapers. When I told Gene and Alivia to go ahead inside and I'd be back after making a trip to the store for diapers, Gene threw his hands up and said, "Let's just go home". I had noticed at home that he was in a different kind of mood, but him throwing his hands up was out of his character. The urge to go into church was strongly on me, so I decided to see if the nursery had diapers instead of leaving. So into the house of God we walked, frustrated husband in tow.

I sent Alivia to children's church and Gene sat in the back of the sanctuary waiting for me. I went to the nursery and wouldn't you know, the package of diapers on top of the changing table belonging to the church just happened to be Amiyah's size? I changed her quickly and left her in good hands. As I was walking toward the sanctuary I looked up at the big screen TV in the lobby as I heard a familiar voice ask if my husband was present.

I stopped and watched as Linda, a woman in the church stood at the microphone. She was about to sing a song, but before she did she felt the Lord wanted her to give Gene a message. Keep in mind, nobody but God knew what Gene was going through inside.

She said,

"Gene Chealey...I just wanted to encourage you.
You've been on my heart a lot lately.
I know you're a Dallas Cowboy fan and so am I, but I just want to tell you I feel like the Lord is speaking to me to tell you not to give up.
To keep on keeping on.
Don't give up hope.
Many are they that say of my soul there is no help for him in God, but thou oh Lord are my glory and the lifter up of my head. (Psalm 3:2-3).
And He wants you to know...He doesn't want you to give up.
Keep running the race man and don't give up.
Don't give up."

I stood there smiling thinking, how sweet when Gene came walking out of the sanctuary with tears covering his face and neck and a bewildered look on his face. He just fell into my arms and began to tell me of how he had been struggling. How he didn't even want to come to church that morning. How he hadn't opened his Bible in over a week.

That morning God let Gene know.
I see you.
I see the struggle you're having.
I see depression trying to wrap itself around you.
I see the pain you're in 24 hours of your day.
Do. Not. Give. Up.
Seek Me.
Let Me lift your head.
Because I see you Gene Chealey.
And I love you so much that I'm going to give this woman a message straight from my heart to yours since I can't give it from a closed Bible.
I see you my son.

That moment changed the course of Gene's focus that morning and got him back in God's Word. Gave him a deeper love for his Savior. Took his level of belief to a height Gene had never known before.

WHATEVER you are going through that makes you feel forgotten by your Savior, know and believe that God sees you. He loves you and no matter what circumstance you face, He wants you to keep seeking Him. Keep walking with Him through it.

Gene would be the first to tell you He is worth anything He allows you to endure.

If anyone knows how to get a wpm file onto blogger, let me know. I have the clip of God's message through Linda, I just don't know how to get it on here & we'd love to share it with you.