Leslie’s Learnings: I thought a thought last night that I’ve never thought before. As my precious Frank and I climbed into bed, I thought, “I don’t want to say goodnight to today.” It was the most wonderful day. Full of memories for daydreaming moments. I close my eyes and smile picturing Tiffany, Heather and Danielle boldly standing on the altar and wooing our hearts as they share about their first week as minimalists. The need for new hangers sparks the realization that the need is not for more hangers, but less clothes.. The cleaning out of a forgotten drawer reveals a thought-to-be-lost-forever diamond earring. And money earned to buy more for self is given generously to offer hope for another. Together, we celebrate getting rid of the old stuff. Then almost in the same breath, our breath is taken away as our Ms. Opal walks down the aisle to meet her future husband in a church decorated by her great granddaughter. “Morning has Broken” fills the air, and together, with weepy eyes, we honor and stand in awe of the old. Heads bow reverently. The words to an old poem are put to song by young Alejandro and a prayer is prayed for our precious couple. Holy happens. It’s true. I didn’t want to say goodnight to yesterday. But oh what delicious memories I have for today. For this, O Lord, I give you thanks! [Today is Day 7 in our minimalist journey. If you want to join us, PLEASE give us a call and we would love to send you a thirty day prayerbook/journal, which you can begin on any day. Blessings!]
Today, Lord, How many faces will we see? How many words will we read? How much time will we spend with our family and friends? As our fingers type and swipe Bring us, Love, into Your Light. Yours is the Face we want to see when we strike a messaging key. Love listens. Love learns. Love forgives a wrong turn. Love seeks to always find something good – something kind. Love never wants to turn away from what His people have to say. Love gives us space to make a fuss refusing to give up on us. So, today, Lord, may Your Face fill the space between us and our friends. May Your Love from above be our button marked “Send.”
Rory’s Learning . . . (Ms Leslie’s son 🙂 ) Is God my friend? Nope. I bet that shocks a lot of people? Growing up I was taught to have a personal relationship with God, I did…but I ended up creating God in my image. I fell in love with Jesus, however…whenever I sinned I would find my buddy God telling me “it’s okay, we’ll just keep working on this together”. My main man would give me a very nice comfortable pat on the back and nod of the head towards my sin. I could not have been more wrong. You see there is a reason Christ refers to God throughout scriptures as Abba…or father…not buddy, the dude, big guy, or even brother. Even though as a Christian you could argue if any one person who’s been on this planet could refer to God as a peer he could, but he didn’t…why? Christ wanted to impart the parental relationship we have with our father…he is our father, we are his children. In case you have a problem with this relationship, let me put it in another light. Some of you can remember your teenage years, and some of you reading this may be going through them now. Say when you were a teenager…you were super lucky to have that one Jimmeney Cricket friend. That one friend who didn’t give into peer pressure, didn’t look at you with rose colored glasses, and told you right from wrong. Now, say you find yourself in a situation where you are about to do something you know is wrong and your with Jimmeny. Jimmeny kindly reminds you hey you know this is not good…but there is no real strength behind it and you do it anyways. Now, say you are in that same situation…but your dad is standing behind you. Need something else? Okay…because it goes both ways. The football player falls in a heap on the field. He’s lying there writhing in pain. You see his fist pound the turf, PT’s are surrounding him. You can sense the complete anguish in his face. His best friend Jimmeny is in the stands thinking “oh man that had to hurt, it’s okay he’ll get better and we’ll work on this first thing tomorrow morning!” But there is someone else in the stands. The crowd of 92,000 is deathly quiet…yet you can hear this one fan’s heart beating like a bass drum. This fan is the only one standing, eyes fixed on the player…so much so that the 92,000 have completely disappeared. He’s defining every second of movement, totally encompassed with the situation. With every ounce of his essence he is shouting inside…”GET UP!”… Dad. God is not Jimmeny Cricket. Today I challenge us (you and I) that before we fall in our sin to not think “okay, the big guy knows I’m struggling with this”…but to know that our heavenly father is looking at us with the most passionate love and his heart is shouting…GET UP! In Christ and Love, Rory
Do you ever feel alone? No one understands your pain? No one gets what it’s like to be you? Too much to carry. Too heavy a load. Too tough to handle. Wherever you are – whoever you are – this is for you. God gets you. You were His idea. You were His thought. He thought you were such a good thought that He made you. Very intentionally He made you. You weren’t a mistake. You were an inspiration! He loved the idea of you so much that He crafted you and placed you on this planet to be in a relationship with Him and with those around you. You know that chair you’re sitting in right now – floor you’re standing on – bed you’re resting in? God is more real than any of those, and God is right there to offer you greater support. It’s hard to have a meaningful relationship with someone you can’t see, isn’t it? Right now you can’t see the specific spot on which your body is resting. But you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is supporting you. You can’t see the One who thought you were one of His best ideas ever. But you can see what He created. Take just a second to look at one finger. It’s amazing! It bends, extends bleeds, feels, lifts, points and touches. It contains bones, tissue, tendons, nerve endings, blood vessels and a print that identifies you as you. All that in a few short inches! He’s an amazing God! He loves your finger. He loves that it makes a print – an impression that no one else in the entire world can make. And He loves you! He loves that you are right where you are, making an impression that no one else in the entire world can make. The people around you? They’re there for you to love. No one can love them like you can. That’s why you are there. It will be hard sometimes. Love takes courage and guts. You have to choose to be patient and kind. To not keep a record of their wrongs against you. But the one who gave you that fantastic finger is right there with you. That’s why He’s there. To help you do what He created you to do. Love. You can do it. And most of all . . . so can He! We’re leaning on You, Lord, because You are strong enough, wise enough, powerful enough to catch us when we fall. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Catastrophes. Crises. Concerns. They insist on being a part of our days. They are exhausting. Distracting. Anxiety producing. Had any of those lately? I sure have. You can’t control them. And you want desperately for them to not control you. But they refuse to be ignored. They tug at your heart and taunt your expectations. “I thought things were okay.” But they’re not. “Everything seemed great.” But it’s not. And so we worry. Fear manifests itself in high blood pressure and sweaty palms. We wonder how things will possibly work out. Solutions sneer and stand beyond our grasp. Then suddenly, unexpectedly enters God. The enormous, all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present God makes His presence known to you and to me. And the demons of despair tremble. A promise shouts across the universe. “ALL THINGS – ALL THINGS” – ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE LORD!” Romans 8:28 A new reality reveals itself. God is in control. Perfect Love proclaims, “I love you. I’ve got your back. And the ones you love? I’ve got theirs too. Trust me. Keep talking with me about it. I will give you strength to persevere. Wisdom to see what others can’t. And a peace that passes understanding. I will use this for good. As wretched and wrecked as this situation seems, trust Me. I will use it for good.” Help us, Lord. Help us look to You in trust, rather than to circumstances in fear. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Has the Lord placed a troubled child in your path? Maybe a step child – grandchild – neighbor’s child – your child. Their needs are beyond you. Their behavior frustrates you. You want to ease their pain, but you can’t. Short term or long term, their problem poses a problem in your life. Guilt holds your heart. Heavy rides your back. And confusion clouds your mind. That’s how I went to bed last night. Aching for a child I love, but cannot help. All night I tossed. All night I turned. And, all night I heard the same six words sung over and over again in my sleepy soul. “Our God is mighty to save.” “Our God is mighty to save.” “Our God is mighty to save.” It’s true He is. We aren’t. But there is one thing we can do that He can’t. We can bring the children to Him. He already knows them. He already loves them. But He needs us to let go of them and leave them with the One who knows and loves them perfectly. If God has placed a child with a problem in your path, as He has mine, believe it or not, it’s a privilege. He’s trusting you and He’s trusting me to persistently, insistently “Let the children come to me.” How? When our eyes look into theirs, PRAY. When our hands fold their clothes, PRAY. When our hearts hear their name, PRAY. Why? He is able to do what we can’t. “My Savior, He can move the mountains, My God is Mighty to save, He is Mighty to save.” Move the mountains, Lord. Ease our children’s pain. Help us flee fear. And give us the courage to leave the ones we love with the One who loves them most. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
A question grabs my soul and refuses to let go: How do we love those who don’t love us? Like hugging a prickly porcupine there’s no easy way to do it. It’s going to hurt. It would be much easier to avoid the barbed beast than embrace its unembraceable self. Who wants to be kind to one who speaks unkindly about us? Who wants to keep no record of wrong doing with one who insists on keeping us in a box? Who wants to stop judging one who judges us unfairly? Not me. But we follow a Lord who has this thing about loving the unlovable. We can ask Peter, the one with foot in mouth disease. Or Mary Magdalene, the one with seven demons . Or Zacchaeus, the one who stole hard- earned wages. Or the Roman soldier who drove nails into His hands. They will all tell us the same thing. “I don’t know why He loves me, but He does. And because He does, I’m different.” That’s why being a Christian isn’t for wimps. It takes guts to grab a pointy porcupine. Our Lord and Savior says to you and me, “Surround the ‘enemy’s’ presence with peace. Refuse to fight spike to spike. When you see them, see Me. I’m there, believe it or not. I created them in my image. Find Me in their face. Keep looking. Don’t give up. Call on Me. I will help you see what I see, and I will help them be who I made them to be.” Lord God, heal our hurt hearts. Free us from attaching strings and expecting things. Give us renewed courage to reengage in the battle to love as You love. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
God calls us to love our neighbor as ourself. Loving oneself is not as easy as it sounds. Like termites, our insecurities and inadequacies thrive unseen as they destroy our inner foundation. Self doubt hides behind a multitude of masks. Confusion. Pride. Arrogance. Stubbornness. Judgment. Failure. All of which falsely accuse and damage the body of Christ. We need pest control. I received a refreshing spray of Raid yesterday from the Lord. While worshipping in a wonderful church, full of people, programs, and outreach ministries, the too familiar voices of self doubt began taunting my soul. “You aren’t doing this at Luke, Leslie. You should be. You don’t know how to lead. You should quit. You’re just not good enough.” Immediately the Lord spoke to my soul. “Leslie, you are comparing apples with oranges. Stop! This church is an orange. It’s a great orange. Enjoy it for what it is. A delicious, ripe, and juicy orange. I called you to be an apple. You are to lead people in love. Luke is an amazing community of people who refuse to give up on learning how to love. They embrace intimacy, vulnerability, and flexibility. They are a delicious, ripe, and juicy apple. When you sit in another church and think, ‘I’m a terrible orange,’ you miss the joy of being an apple. Enjoy being what I created you to be. So you can enjoy how I created others to be.” The termites died. Comparing ourselves to others is one of the quickest ways to lose our joy and sense of direction. Lord God, free us to love ourselves as You love us. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
When someone hurts us we want to hurt back. It’s a natural instinct. Animalistic actually. A dog is bitten. A dog bites back. A dog is beaten. A dog fights back. But when a dog is beaten until it’s broken, the dog cowers in fear hurting itself more than the assailant. Naturally we humans view this behavior as normal. People hurt us. We hurt them. With our words. Our actions. We want them to hurt. And we want it now. But we have an amazing God who is asking us to fight, not others, but our own natural instincts. To let love become our natural response to hate. To separate ourselves in the animal kingdom. Behave differently. Refuse to attack. Refuse to cower. Remain constant in patience and kindness. Trash the records of others’ wrong doings. He knows it’s against our nature. And He knows we need Him – the One whose name is Love – to help us fight right. We are His wounded warriors. We reject revenge. We relinquish it to our Captain. (Romans 12:19) We bend low in love. And hold on valiantly to the hope for His Kingdom. So, onward Lord!!! Lead us into a land where love lives triumphantly! We are Yours now and forever! So be it!