Search

what leah learned

"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is today," Hebrews 3:13. Adventure in progress…

The World Needs You

God made you to fit a specific shape and purpose in this world that couldn’t be fulfilled without your presence. You are unique, you are wanted, you belong.

Identity can come from many places, true identity comes from the Creator. Even if you don’t believe this, I want you to be encouraged by a few truths about how valuable you are and why it’s okay to believe it’s true.

Humility.

This is not the ability to degrade your own work or put yourself down in order to make others seem higher, it’s having an accurate picture of yourself and others, including God.

It is ok to look at your talents and strengths and say, “I am really good at that! I excel at this!” When you do, you are giving credit to the one who made you with that ability rather than denying how wondrously you were made by pretending you aren’t capable of wonderful things. In this, seek to align your heart with that of a servant’s, rejoicing that because you do have this skill you are able to both enjoy it (which is good) and bring joy and blessing to others (which is purpose and also brings you joy). This is glorifying to God, and it’s fulfilling. You weren’t meant to be a speck of dirt on the wall, you were meant to be radiant and in that bring light to others. That is what humility and confidence can do together.

Beauty.

You are beautiful, don’t you want to believe that? Then understand that at the end of your life when you look back on who you are and who you were and who you wish you had become, when you admit to yourself that you’ve always wanted to be beautiful, you’ll understand that at in times in your life you felt it was true and you will wish that you had the wisdom to hold on to that in the moment and keep it. You won’t be able to freeze that one fresh look you put together and keep it. You can’t depend on the approval of others that temporarily allows you to sustain a confidence in your appearance. You have to decide that you are beautiful, and choose to believe it. It doesn’t cost you are anyone else a penny. It’s free and it’s freedom. Choose to believe, ” I am beautiful.”

Skin deep.

I have learned a truth about beauty in this season of life.

The way you feel about your insides completely decides how you feel about your outside.

It’s true people say that beauty is only skin deep, but that’s looking at physical beauty in a way that removes false value and allows pretty and attractive to be appreciated as ascetically pleasing, crediting the creator for his skill. This is different. This isn’t about associating value of the non-physical with the physical, well, I mean it is, but I’m getting at something more.

Think about a person you heard about before you knew them and you decided you liked them. Perhaps a celebrity or friend of a friend or even your pet lab puppy comes to mind. The way you are able to appreciate what you know and like about them was superficial, real, but limited as if you had goggles around your eyes or only saw in one dimension. When you got to know them through personal experience and relationship, there was a depth their with three dimensional perspective.

It’s like that with beauty.

You can and should appreciate what is attractive and appealing to the eye, but you need to use all that you were given to see the depth and dimensions and layers. Like using every type of vision rather than just what your two physical eyes can catch. I’m talking x-ray, infrared, and those other weird ones I can’t remember but they look cool. Look without your eyes as much as you look with your eyes.

When I come home from a day of working hard, knowing I did my best with my heart and my mind, I feel beautiful. That feeling of knowing I am doing what I’m made to do and willingly putting in all my effort is satisfying in a way that changes my view of myself. I see myself as someone whole and worthwhile. I am thankful for the care I pour into others in my job. I delight in the fact that I’ve been able to use my skills and blend in my interests and hobbies. It feels beautiful, I feel beautiful. Beauty has become so much more than just what you can see, it truly can be felt.

Loved.

We people spend an enormous amount of time with our minds fixed towards others creating a list of how we should be like them. Meanwhile, they don’t notice how much cooler they are than us because  they are doing the same thing.

Imagine if we could get off the boat and stop riding these senseless patterns of behavior in favor of bending our thoughts towards what lasts. Or even what doesn’t last but needs to be continually replenished for our own good.

Like positive thoughts about ourselves and others. I’m not buying into a wishy-washy type of “positivity” fixes everything. I’m talking about power. Your thoughts lead to words and words have power. Have you ever felt better because someone gave you a compliment? How many times have you kept a compliment inside instead of giving it to someone? How would your world look different if you spoke every encouragement?

That type of thinking, on what is good in others’ behavior, is worth your effort. Taking a moment to acknowledge how far you’ve come when you have many miles left to journey, you need that, it’s worth your effort.

Take time to think about how loved you are. Remember the kinds words. Remember the gifts you’ve been given and the acts of service done to care for you. Place yourself in the shoes of those whom you have a positive impact on in your life and think about how valuable you are to them. When we have trouble showing love to others and just as much trouble remembering what we are shown, we need to make a habit of keeping these thoughts in mind to continually encourage ourselves and others.

Don’t wait to feel

Today I didn’t have a moment of sudden inspiration push from within my tummy like a hot air balloon of sunshine needing to be shared. Nope. It’s like that sometimes, the inspiration to write, but not today. I did it anyway. When I wasn’t sure what to do or how to encourage myself out of this rut that I’m trekking in (not standing still-no sir), I remembered the kind words from those who said I had an impact on them.

I don’t find certainty and constance in myself. I am changing in mood and feeling so often that as a human who is not perfect with feelings that lie, I know that’s not a place I can depend. At times it helps me deal with uncertainty by holding onto what I believe to be true. On days like this, I grab hold of a small truth and let it lead me to action.

I am made to love God and love others. If I know that my words can be an encouragement to others, then I use that gift that I enjoy to bring life to someone else today.

You.

I pray you are encouraged by these words today, and I hope that you will share your encouragement with those around you so that we might exponentially lift one another up. If we do that without ceasing, we might find that we’ve all begun flying.

It is Him that taught me and continually teaches me to love, my Lord and savior Jesus. And it is Him who gives us the ability to lift one another up and do so as long as it is today.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:30-31

Ice Cream & Pepper

I give myself permission to eat way too much (lactose free) ice cream and then throw the rest of the carton away in a furry. I give myself permission to do this as often as it comes. I give myself permission to “waste” my junk food in a moment of strength, tossing it down the trash can.

I also give myself permission to feel lonely when my plans for the day have ended and I am at home on the couch, alone, not bothering with pants (the American kind), getting addicted to another cheesy Netflix show (Fuller House).

I give myself permission to get addicted to new cheesy Netflix shows.

I give myself permission not to finish any of the new Netflix shows I start.

I give myself permission to both love and hate Once Upon a Time and to not watch it just because everyone else says it got good again. Until I break down and must check it out for myself. And I give myself permission to do that.

I give myself permission to be me, to be messy, and to fall down. Because I know I will get back up again; and perhaps by giving myself permission to hit the floor I will become more intimately acquainted with the art of jumping back up again with more and more grace.

I am giving myself grace. I will not remain a mess, for my Jesus is already renewing me day by day, for I have died with Christ and therefore I am risen with Christ. That is my end, my hope, my promise, and the life I already live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

But I am still messy as I’m under construction. Today I just needed to accept an extra dose of that wonderful grace I’m still learning the depths of that has been poured out for me out of love. And it’s okay if my sentences don’t flow and my thought processes confuse you and my reasoning that I’m an English teacher so it’s okay doesn’t make any sense-join me. Wherever you are right now, give yourself permission to be where you are.

Then look up, because we were not made to live life on the ground. We were made to fly on eagle’s wings.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

And I give myself permission to feel anger every time I experience the sensation of having a running nose. I don’t know why, but every stinkin’ time no matter how happy I am. It just makes me mad when I feel the cold clear drip and there’s not a tissue in my hand… 😦 #thingsyoudidntneedtonose #letitnose #thankyoujesusforpuffs #ithinkimallergictofakeicecream

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

#hope

I was Cinderella

“My dream has come true!” the little blonde 8th grade boy exclaimed with joy at the sight of me interrupting his English class in a bright blue ball gown, my neck elaborately embellished with a black ribbon necklace, a Cinderella bun atop my own blonde head.

My neighbor, Mrs. Panabaker, had adorned herself in red lipstick and fur (which was actually feathers, but who needs to know the minor details) as Cruella De Vil for Spirit Week and as Cinderella, I just had to stop in an visit my unlikely friend.

It brightened my day to hear my favorite student in Mrs. P’s 8th grade class (we are allowed to choose favorites if they’re not in our class-it’s in the unwritten imaginary bylaws). More importantly, it made not being able to take a full breath for a solid 8 hours absolutely worth it.

THE FIRST moment I experienced the fruit of being a teacher this year (my first year!) happened during English class, where a lot of things happen because that is the subject I happen to teach; my 7th grade Classic Lit. class to be specific. It was Cornell notes. Not the notes themselves, even as Cinderella I wasn’t luny enough to believe inanimate nouns could benefit from my teaching ability; it was the note-taker. His name was…

This is where I must choose to change the names of my students in order to protect their identity…

Harry, his name was Harry.

As Harry settled into his desk and chair, he looked at me with the same intensity he displayed every day beneath his spikey hair and he said the 7 (9?) words that would forever change the way I felt about teaching up until that point which had only been a mere 3-4 weeks but was life-changing nonetheless:

“I used Cornell notes in real life this weekend.”

What joy I experienced as he relayed to me the (rather short) story of how he used what I taught him, Cornell style note taking, to jot down the highlights of a town council meeting he attended for a Boy Scout event that Saturday. I was so proud, and thoroughly filled with purpose. I had taught something that mattered in real life. I, had taught something, so someone.

THAT’S why we work for 8 hours a day so that we can stay at work and put in another 2-4 hours before we stay at work and spend another 2-3 hours watching our students perform in choir or softball or football. It’s why we pack a ridiculous amount of food and joke about bringing our pillows as we settle in to spend the ENTIRE day at school, giving up our lunches for tutoring sessions. It’s that feeling that you just impacted the world.

It’s that sound of the drop falling into a bucket.

But it’s more than that, because they have our hearts in their grubby little hands.

IT HURTS to watch your kid lie on the painted astroturf with his head in his hands, helmet hiding the details from your sight. I imagine it must be even harder when he’s your own child.

These are our students, our kids in many ways. We think about them as we write their tests, talk to them as we hand back their homework; then we worry about them on the drive home and dream about them when we can’t sleep at night because we’re too busy worrying about their tests and the homework that they only pretended to do.

But we can’t go down to the green and give them a big hug, congratulating them on a win against our rival team or consoling them after a big loss. We’re they’re teachers. We’re only their teachers.

LAST WEEK at the end of our first quarter, one of my fiery 10th graders turned to me as he walked out the door and said, “Thank you for making me get my stuff together.”

It’s been an honor.

That was another big moment for me.

As a middle school and high school English teacher, I have a total of about 140 students that I strive to impact with more than lessons on grammar, literature and writing.

I don’t even like grammar and I’m currently in rebellion against the Oxford comma despite the fact that I teach it to my students.

I would wake up at 5am every day, make the 30minute drive, and spend the next 10-15 hours at school if English didn’t exist at all. I do it for them. Oddly enough, I love them.

WHEN I STARTED working at this school, actually from the first interview, God gave me a special love for them.

I grew to adore the principals upon which the staff stood as well as the staff themselves. I developed a soft spot for the families that came to cheer on their students in the spring musical with more heart than I had ever witnessed before a stage. I even felt that warm sunshiny tingle that whispered “home” as I walked through the blue and gold hallways for the first time. It was a calling that pulled at my whole heart and soul.

And no, it’s not perfect. That’s the beauty of it. They seem to need, or want me at the very least. I matter. I impact their lives. My students go home and they tell their parents about me. They talk about me with their lab partners in science class. But I’m not just here for the students. They would be fine without me, I’m sure. English is just English; I know anyone could fill these shoes. What’s beautiful is that in this light and shining place there is still darkness, and I am a light.

I AM GOD’S DAUGHTER

While I pretend this is so not my first year of teaching and I don’t know what I’m doing as I hide my dislike for the Oxford comma and avoid answering plot line questions on the reading because I am chapters behind my students, God is working.

He is working as I relay with joy to my coworkers how pulling up to the gas station on fumes 20minutes before I was due to teach actually set my day up wonderfully, giving me a renewed thankful attitude and fervor in faith as I dwelled on God’s provision shaped like a Shell.

He’s present when a bubbly 9th grader sings Hamilton with me after school while we both grade my 10th grade literature tests.

He is there when my entire 4th hour starts an unofficial gang called the “Geek Police” to find the alias maker who posted a mean comment on my class website last week.

I am loved.

THAT’S the other beautiful thing about this job, they seem to love me too.

I AM THANKFUL that I get to call this place home in many ways. I am also thankful that for the first time in my life I know what it’s like to love with absolutely no agenda, no expectations, and needing nothing in return. I’m still a selfish sinful human being but I know this is just a small taste of what good is to come.

Knowing that, I can only attempt to imagine what good lies farther down the road and into my eternal future.

 

Go to the river

riverwoodsuk

There once was this little girl who was lost in the woods. Surrounded by thick dark trees and complete stillness, not a creature moved past her eyes in the dimness of day hidden from the full light of the sun. She was alone.
girlwoodsflowers.jpg
Photo from Pinterest

The girl found a soft place to camp beneath a hard oak tree. Each morning she awoke from her mossy bed and left the protection of the branches in search of food and water.

One day she found a river.

Cold, refreshing, inviting waters that danced on the tip of her tongue as she eagerly filled her smile with life sustaining drink.

From her side pocket she pulled a small vessel of tin and filled it with water from the river. Eagerly she held the container in her hands and protected it from spilling the treasure inside. She walked back into the woods with her hands cupped, careful not to trip on a root.

Several times a nearby brightly flowered bush or gathering of (possibly poison-she was unskilled at telling the difference) berries distracted her for moments long enough to cause a few tear sized drops to spill over the edges of her cup.

When she reached the camp she had made by the tree she sat next to her hovel in meager triumph, the vessel of water in hand and admiration for its contents in her eyes.

Over the next few days she stared at the precious beaker half-filled with water as she lay on her bed. She thought about it while she was thirsty. At night she dreamed about the sparkling water within. Each day she longed to feel the cool stream run down her throat.

But she did not drink it. Nor did she ever return to the river.

_____

What does this story mean to you? Was the girl a hopeful or a fool? Did she live long? What would you have done if you had found a river while you were lost in the woods alone? 

_____

 

Maybe you wonder why she didn’t drink the water she had rather than letting herself die of thirst, idly admiring instead of using it for its purpose. Perhaps you would have told her to get a larger container or return to the river as needed?

The girl allowed her surroundings to distract her. She failed to understand the purpose of the river she found when she was in need. I personally wonder why she did not move her entire estate to the riverbank and never leave it’s side?

The river was her source of life. What kept her away?

I think this story can illustrate the type of interaction we often have with God’s word.

We take a verse or two, maybe even memorize one of them. Or at least we write it down on a post-it note and put it neatly scripted in a visible place to admire. But we don’t let it penetrate our heart.

How often to we camp in the word and drink our fill? Even when we do we like to wander off with plans to return later, maybe. Or we think we have enough not to make another trip.

Why don’t we start coming to the river with bigger glasses and thirsty hearts?

Better yet, let’s go to the river and plant ourselves in deeply to stay.

 

“They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:3

Studying Tips-

Cross-referencing: I just discovered this great tool for studying verses with the original Hebrew. Use it to find the deeper meaning of each verse and meditate on how it applies to you.

Start with this prayer from John Piper when you open your Bible:
Incline my heart to your word, Open my eyes to behold your word, Unite my heart (unscattered) to fear your name, Satisfy me with your steadfast love. Amen.

Write in a journal: You can go back and read what He has spoken to you in the past for encouragement.

Share with other believers: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

You Need to Know the Truth About Perfect

perfectdancerbooksbalancegold

Reading an article last Friday morning titled, “There Is No Such Thing as a Perfect Decision” reality finally hit me. There is no such thing as perfect.

When I was younger I was a self-proclaimed perfectionist. I demanded more from myself than anyone else and my standards were impossible. I left no room for errors, honestly believing all I needed to do was avoid messing up.

The problem is, for us humans, this isn’t possible.

Lie #1. I can attain perfection by avoiding messing up.

Can you drive car with crooked alignment down the road straight if you try really earnestly? What if it doesn’t have a connected steering wheel?

You might avoid crashing for a while, but eventually, I guarantee you, that car will crash.

Truth: We were broken from the start.

We were not born into this world empty canvases waiting to be freshly painted by a talented hand or doomed to be splattered by the problems we face.

We are not fresh clay misshapen by our darkest circumstances hoping for bright ones to undo the damages of our pasts.

We are each born broken.

A long time ago, God created the earth and made us perfect, calling His creation good, (Genesis 1:31). We had a relationship with him and one another that fully satisfied our purpose. (And when I say us, I mean humanity, but more literally I’m talking about Adam and Eve. Humans #1 & 2.)

We disobeyed God and received the consequence: Separation from him, and brokenness.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Lie #2. We can attain perfection if we try hard enough or work together.

Have you ever broken a bone? Imagine you broke both your arms. Bare with me here. Imagine both bones in both of your arms are cracked right down the middle, bending out of place under your skin.

Can you fix yourself?

Can 12 other humans who also have broken arms fix you?

Truth: We aren’t living in a world that has the potential to restore itself back to perfection.

Only someone perfect has the ability to create perfection.

Only GOD has the ability to take what is broken and restore it to perfection.

What does this mean?

We don’t have to struggle each day in fear of making mistakes; we are going to make mistakes.

That’s a guarantee.

(I hate it too, but denial will not bring you freedom.)

Freedom is trusting in the One who is perfect.

Whatever decisions we make in life, about our cars or houses or jobs or relationships, every single choice will come with its own set of faults and struggles because it’s filled with imperfect people in a broken world.

But that doesn’t mean you can make the best choice, or the wisest choice.

It simply means that your best choice and wisest choice do not mean the perfect choice, and they won’t while we live on this earth.

But we have hope. 

Out of His love, God is making us new through Jesus. He won’t stop until His work is finished in you.

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

This is my hope as I face a reality where I can’t be perfect: through Christ God is making me new and there will be a day I am made new and perfect.

Until that day, God promises to take care of me through whatever. He promises His love and good gifts, including wisdom and strength and comfort. He promises to work all things together for my good.

Life is going to be messy, but God will never change.

He will never leave me nor forsake me, and that is the greatest hope I could ever ask for.

Read: Streams in the Desert

 

An Unedited Entry from My Journal: What place do glory and fame have in my life?

552166_988352477118_220061400_n

Papa God,

I have this craving to show people their God-given talents and teach them how to become leaders who glorify you with them. I have a new longing to serve others in all that I do with a sincere heart. I don’t even know who I was before. When I looked out at my life, the future, I saw it as if I was the only one who existed. Everything is different now.

I want to be creative, but there are so many other skills, no, processes, I now desire to pursue. I don’t want to do things, I want to do missions. I want to effect people, change their lives. I want to see them grow and become all they can be for your glory.

I see what could be, and the gaps in what should be, and so many ways to fix them. But I’ve learned the power to change is not within me but within you, and if I were to do it that would truly be your power at work in and through me. So is that what you’re calling me to?

I’m a little confused lately. I wanted to write fiction. I guess I thought that my life, Lord, I thought my life was going to be like everyone else’s.

Now I want to laugh and cry. It’s not going to be, is it? I was meant for more. And the thing is, I think we all were. But that’s the world that fell and that I get to have some of that world now is a gift. A part of the life to come. Maybe we’re all settling for far too less. What if we all became leaders? Artists? Geniuses? What if we all glorified you in what we did? What if even the least of these served with all their heart and skill? What if we were fearless?

God, I want to be a part of making the world look a little more like that. I want to help others see you for who you are and know themselves as you made them to be.

I don’t want to be shiny; I want to be shining for you. I don’t want to stand on a chair or sit at the top of a ladder or stir up applause from a stage. I do want to be excellent, and I want to live to the fullest through you, but I think the idea that might possibly include some chair standing and stage shouting, is scary.

What does that mean? I don’t want to be famous, I want to make you famous.

What if…

What if I excel in what I’m good at and it looks a lot like famous? What if I get a lot of attention and others praise me for the work I did? I don’t have a plan for that. I guess I thought of it a long time ago, remembering that one moment you spoke to me about the future and purpose. I rejected the thought in part because I didn’t understand how to accept a great gift like that as it really was; a privilege to serve. A big responsibility. An opportunity to bring you glory that not everyone holds. Now, maybe it’s time to take a look.

So what if? What if I become famous? Even in a small way, I have started to receive a lot of attention for my work in Brevity Troupe. I want to know how others are affected and that they’ve enjoyed my work, benefitted from it. Words of affirmation is one of my strongest love languages. I love to hear that. But it’s not about the credit, or glory. I want you to get that; you deserve it God. I don’t want it.

I’m still learning how to accept praise for my work and skill, and I want you to teach me how to give you glory in all that I do-even when others praise me. How does that look? What does it mean when I’m up on a ladder with my talents? Is there a right way to do that? Is it right? What do I believe about that?

You put your people everywhere. Do they just rise like stars when they are running after you? I guess I’ve seen that. Seen your people shine for your glory. I follow some of them.

Am I to be one of those people who stands out for your glory? I’m putting to much emphasis on me now. On them. I glorify other people. Forgive me God, set my eyes on you. You’re right, if I do what I do out of relationship with you I’ll be on the right track. Living to glorify you in all I do. I guess if my heart is right with you then my actions will follow suit? It feels like I might fall, up so high, and that’s fear. But we weren’t made for the ground, we’re made in your image. Made to glorify you. Why don’t we live like glory matters?

Do I even know what glory is?

What is the function of glory? What is the purpose? Where is it’s place in my life and does it even have one?

One, yes; glory has a place in my life because I’m called to bring glory to God in all I do. But also, God talks a lot about glory so it’s not just about me. It’s what He radiates; a natural affect of His very nature. His IS glorious. But then, it must be like His goodness. If He is who he is, and that it’s glorious, he is glory too. So where God is there is glory. Like the sun, we see the effects and touch and feel it sometimes more so than others but it never ceases to stop existing in all functions of its being. Glory.

Okay so what about all this fame stuff? Is there ever a purpose to make someone famous apart from you? No, I don’t think so. Because we were made to be completely satisfied in your love, and we are headed towards unity as your people forever in heaven. Fame doesn’t exist in heaven, it won’t need to.

What do we do when others try to give us glory for what we do? Is it enough to know in my heart that you deserve it? Is it enough to say out loud that it was you who did the work? Is it enough to work and feel and speak as if it’s your glory alone all along? Or am I missing something altogether? Your glory doesn’t depend on others, it exists because you do. My effort doesn’t touch your glory, and we know our end game will be to bow before you. All of us. What is the point of your instruction then? Why do I glorify you apart from that it is just? I am blessed by it, or is the blessing a result of what cause you to be glorified? Loving you and others and humility and all that. The fruits of your spirit literally sooth the bones and feel good inside our hearts. Are we to experience your glory as a gift too? Is it then for our good in it’s existence? Our gift, your glory.

Honestly, wherever you are and are you, that’s the best for us because who you are is the most amazing, good, powerful, perfect, glorious, loving, triumphant, strong, intelligent, creative, everything wonderful and good and true! How can that be any less than the best for all of us? It’s just sad when people don’t know you they have no idea what glory really means, why it matters. I barely do and I’m struggling through it this morning.

Love. I think the answer to, “How do I know if I’m properly glorifying you in the shiny things?” Love is to be the motive and the measure by which I judge my own heart. In all that I do with people, I am called to love them. It’s how I check my heart for misdoing etc. In all that I do independently, I am still called to love and obey you. Obedience is how I show my love for you, says your word. Pretty straightforward, though not as complex as the whole of it were I to put it into words. In conclusion, I rely on you for wisdom and strength and humility and ask for help when I mess up, then I simply love you and others and seek to make your name known.

I feel the primary purpose of fame in a Christian’s life is to make you known. It’s supposed to be in the life of a small servant though too, so that doesn’t line up. One job is not more about your fame than others. That’s it then. If I have a right view of how You are to be glorified, period, then it doesn’t matter if I apply it to fame or loneliness or loving others or any skill I posses.

So maybe I’m going to post this on my blog, because people need to know they’re not alone. People need to be inspired. The way I struggle through analyzing the moral fabric of an entire concept might help others understand their own thoughts, or find their way to the end of their own questions. Or at the very least maybe I thought of something they hadn’t yet.

I want to help people, and I pray that it’s not for my own glory or even my desire to be known that I want to put this up there. Take it and do your work then Lord, and thank you for the privilege of speaking and writing to others. I love you. For your glory, wink*

Your Daughter Leah

What Good is Joy?

283758_10150938692361432_1765126621_n

Photo by Ali Kendrick

I gazed out the tinted grey window of the blue city bus that carried us through the hills of Ireland, the sunlight glowed beyond a canopy of clouds lighting up my first view of the sparkling emerald see. I nearly cried I was so filled with joy. It was supernaturally shiny, that moment. I could feel the Holy Spirit doing work that went far beyond the simple happiness a beautiful view produces.

The whole month, (month 1 of 11 on a 3 continent mission trip), was weird. I lived with my brand new family, a team of 7 strangers from all over the United States and 2 other freshly formed teams from our squad of 56, in the house of one Jim Moriarty.

That’s right, I was in Ireland living with Jim Moriarty, (that’s a Sherlock Holmes reference for all you sad people who aren’t acquainted with this classic).

Jim loved Jesus and as far as I could tell, was not the leader of a global crime syndicate…

We experienced physical, spiritual, and emotional trials that both challenged and bonded us as we began the first leg of our race (the World Race). Many of my teammates were dismayed to come face to face with wounds from their own past, but we worked through it together. It was the kind of month would continue to tell stories about as years passed. We laughed as much as we could so we didn’t cry, and sometimes we did cry.

Not for a single moment did that joy the Holy Spirit poured into my soul on the bus leave me. It was my rest, hope, and perseverance in everything I faced that extraordinary July.

Joy is so much more than a happy feeling.

Joy is thankful.

Joy is comfort.

Joy is strong.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1

Let’s say you wake up one morning with purple spots on your skin, dolphin ears (that was a joke, dolphins don’t have ears silly!), webbed feet, and you’re sneezing at 10 second intervals. What’s wrong with you?

There is obviously a strange illness at the root of your symptoms, we know that because of what we witness even when we don’t yet know the cause itself.

This like is our relationship with God.

When we know Him personally as His redeemed children, he works inside our hearts to change us from the inside out. Joy is a symptom, and it’s connected to the other work God does inside our souls.

Unlike an illness, when the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside us He continually produces new good work inside of us, manifesting in all sorts of ways, each work good spurring on more and more.

Joy is a fruit of the spirit that encourages other fruit to grow inside you and even those around you. Sometimes thankfulness, (you are grateful when you’re joyful are you not?), sometimes comfort (like the soothing smile of a friend when you are sad), and sometimes strength (because it changes the attitude with which you face your trials).

God gave me that gift of joy because he knew that I would need it, and so would my World Race family. They were each blessed by my joy in some way, and I was able to live it out because they understood the value of joy.

In Ireland, I did feel joy, but the work in my life and relationship with God that came with it lasted far longer than the feeling.

Encourage one another as long as it is today, and remember that joy is more than a feeling. Joy is a gift for you and others, a weapon against the trials we face, and a result of knowing the God who has already claimed victory for us through Christ Jesus.

That, is joy.   =)

292494_10150924877296432_424201980_n

(Ali, Alyssa, Emily & I in Ireland)

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

The Truth About Hard Decisions

 

black-white-tree-arial.jpg

FRIDAY AFTERNOON my car broke down on the way home from Ikea, (otherwise known as Disneyland), then I found out my license had been suspended. I was completely clueless as to how or why and racked my brain for any mistake I might have made without being aware.

The DMV and I had a fun chat about that, but this wasn’t the last thing to go wrong before the day was up.

I know each of you have experienced feeling out of control, unsure of how to make a big decision, and being overwhelmed by the feeling all your problems hit at once.

Life is hard.

Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with adulthood. Maybe it’s a result of the condition of our hearts.

Maybe it’s a result of sin.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24

I struggle to make decisions

This is a lie.

The truth is, much of the time you and I don’t like making tough decisions because we want to pursue our fleshly desires while reaping the benefits of wisdom.

You can’t put a cake in the oven and pull out a roast turkey dinner.

I can’t say that I want to be someone who eats food for the reasons God intended it, misuse the food He made for me to eat, and expect to be healthy and unaddicted to sugar 25 years from now, that’s not how it works.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

IMG_0425
Mels the day I bought her, Halloween 2013

Wisdom often means sacrifice

As I sit here typing I’m on the other side of an emotional breakdown entailing crying in the car and avocado pudding, more than one humbling lesson from the Holy Spirit, and an extremely long weekend filled with traffic school and car shopping.

The truth is, I didn’t want to wait for a mechanic to look at my car, I wanted to feel in control of the situation and I used safety as an excuse.

I savored the idea of road trips, trunk space and A/C.

I was so caught up in the future a new car would bring that I almost made a decision I would have regretted: Spending lots of money that wasn’t my own on a car I didn’t need.

The real source of the tension I feel when I have to make a “hard” decision, unless it’s fear, is my flesh at war with the spirit God placed inside me when He made me new in Christ.

God gives me all the wisdom, power, and self-control I need to make the best choices according to His standards, which are the best, because He can actually see and control the future, through his Holy Spirit.

His spirit is fearless.

Without the bias of my flesh, I can see the wisest course of action is to focus on the car I have right now, and finish stewarding that investment before I move on to a new one.

It may well be that I can’t fix Mels, or that I pay to have her fixed and something else breaks a few weeks down the road.

That’s a risk.

But the truth is I never have a guarantee of what’s to come, all I have is guarantee of the One who is to come.

Where is the placement of your hope and how is it affecting the way you make decisions?

Do you have peace?

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

A Letter to My Present Self

sparkly_little_girl_kitten

Dear Present Self,

I want fire and passion, and I don’t want you to settle for anything less. In life, in love, and in your dreams. Remember when God told you to dream bigger? Why was that? Because He made your biggest dream come true, (He was the one who gave it to you!), and after that you had to learn how to fly through that shattered ceiling and reach for greater. That was beautiful, I loved that time.

Now you’re at that moment just before you turn 25 and life is changing. You are changing. Can you feel it? You’re about to pursue the dreams God has given you and run wild under His grace. I want you to know that you’re already doing it, the calling. You have said, “Yes!” to God every time He’s called you, and this is no exception. You are a writer, an encourager, an inspirer, and a teacher in progress. You have a lot to learn but don’t sell yourself short. This life you have is amazing.

You are going to pursue your dreams and live your callings with passion and creativity.

That’s it. You can’t afford to take your eyes off the prize (Christ) and worry about the other stuff. A guy, men, the right one. That’s not your business. That’s your Father’s business. Have faith that God can and will do the same thing He did in the stories you read that inspire you. Don’t stop and certainly don’t accept less then what God has placed in your heart to ask for. A man who is worthy of your heart will win it, and He will have to go through God first. Don’t settle for less and don’t lose your focus, let him worry about spotting you. Better yet, let Him. Just live, run, be passionate and do what you’re called to do.

Set fire to this world, for Jesus, and don’t stop running.

He’s worth it.

Sincerely,

Your Lovely Self

1 Corinthians 9:24 “Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Check out: Stephanie May Wilson‘s blog post on finding the right person and “what to do in the meantime.”

 

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑