When Life Looks Different Than What You Had Planned

Every week I am privileged to spend an hour or so of private time with my pastor’s sweet wife, Becca. We talk, we share, we cry, we pray, we simply do life together. She is young enough to be my daughter, and I love her as if she were. She is a beautiful, honest, all-out-crazy-for-Jesus young woman. Her heart is very much for seeing those who do not know Jesus come to Him, and she is a blessing to me in a dozen different ways.

Recently we were talking about how God’s plans often end up looking very different from the plans that we make for our life. I shared with her how true that is for me, especially in regard to ministry.

 

When Life Looks Different Than What you Had Planned

 

I told her that when the Lord called me into ministry in 2007, He made it so clear that I was to speak and teach God’s Word. He confirmed it through several avenues, and so I stepped boldly into that calling. To be very transparent, I secretly hoped I would be the next Christian teacher ‘star’….’the next Beth Moore’, as so many told me at my speaking engagements. I know….ten years into this wild ministry ride, I see how ridiculous and prideful that sounds, but I’m just being honest with you.

For about seven years all of my dreams seemed to be on track. I spoke at ladies events all over the southeast. I was blessed to write and publish four books. Ministry life was good and going according to ‘my plans’. I held on tightly to a quote I read on a flip calendar somewhere. It said something like this: It can take ten years to be an ‘overnight sensation’.

As Becca and I talked, I shared with her that when my ministry began to change, at first I was not happy with God about it. I saw other speakers going on to bigger and better things, while God seemed to be drawing down my ministry. Oh, He was not pulling me out of ministry. Rather, He was changing what ministry looked like for me. Instead of the big stage, it was more one-on-one and small group ministry. Instead of preparing messages to be delivered to a few hundred women, I was pulling together ingredients for making biscuits and pound cakes and chicken and dressing. Instead of spending time writing more books, I am spending face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder time loving on, mentoring, and doing life with women. And you know what, now I love it and I cannot imagine doing anything else.

 

God uses broken things

 

 

I had a choice about how I would respond when God changed up ministry. I could have been angry with Him and pouted. (yeah, that would have worked out well!) I could have been jealous over the speaking opportunities and book contracts that other people received. (hmmm, that would have been pretty!) Instead I bent my knee to God’s plan and have found incredible peace and satisfaction in ministry. Don’t misunderstand me, there were fleeting moments of ‘why, God?’ questions and green-with-envy jealousy, but those were only for a moment. I knew that God sees the big picture, and whatever He ordains for me is for my good and for His glory. I realized that to grasp for anything else is relational suicide as far as my relationship with God goes.

Sometime after Becca and I shared that conversation I received a text from her that made my heart so full of love for her and gratitude to God for how He is allowing me to serve His kingdom.

I love you so much, Leah. I’m so, so, so, so thankful God didn’t make you the ‘next Beth Moore” because our time on the porch feels like the closest thing to Heaven on earth to me. I am so glad you’re in my life. Thank you.

I do not always do life and ministry perfectly, but I love that He trusts me with it at all. Me! A woman who has made her share of mistakes and oopsies in life, but who falls so heavily on the grace and mercy of Jesus.

Part of the ‘new’ look for ministry for me is the upcoming Come Away retreat that I am hosting in September. I’d love for you to pray about attending.

 

Come Away Retreat

 

Come Away will be an intimate time of leaning into Jesus through worship, Scripture study, and prayer. We will set aside tweets and posts and hashtags in order to hear from Jesus about how crazy He is over us. The retreat will be held September 15-17, 2017. Pop over HERE to learn more details.

SDG/FCA!!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

It’s My Birthday and I’m Giving You A Gift

Happy Birthday this week…..to Me!

I remember as a child being so excited about my birthday. My Mother always had a birthday party for me, and there was cake, punch, onion dip and chips….and of course, birthday gifts. My friends were invited and a great time was had by all.

This week I will celebrate my birthday. Turning 52 is not a milestone, but it is something that I want to celebrate with you, because you are my friends. And to do that I am going to give YOU a GIFT.

I am excited about offering this gift to you because it has the potential to be a wonderful blessing to you.

It is not a piece of clothing, but you definitely want to put it on.

It is not food, but consuming it will strengthen you.

It is not a book, but the words contained within have the power to grow your faith in God.

 

What I am giving to you as a BIRTHDAY GIFT is a little something I made that you can personalize and use in your quiet time with Jesus. I have taken familiar (and perhaps not so familiar) Scriptures and created a way for you to personalize each one with your name in it so that the Scripture promise contained within speaks intimately to you.

 

Scripture Promises Gift

 

Many of you who signed up to receive my weekly newsletter have received a copy of this with your name already inserted. The download that I am offering this week has a blank so you can insert your name or another person’s name into the verse.

Praying Scripture is a wonderful way to communicate with God because we are praying His Words back to Him. It is also a super way to deeply embed Bible verses into our hearts and souls. So, here is my GIFT TO YOU. Simply click the DOWNLOAD button and it is yours. No purchase required. FREE to YOU from Me! NOTE: You will receive an error message asking you to enable a payment gateway. Ignore it. Just click on through and finish the download. You will find a link that says “Scripture Promises” on the Payment Confirmation page. Click on that link and the download will begin.

Oh, and feel free to share this post with friends, so they can have the FREE GIFT as well.

 

I’m taking the rest of the week off from the blog to rest and relax with family. I’ll be back next Monday with another Revelation post. Have a wonderful week.

Meet My Friend, Jan Morton

I am blessed, blessed to have many wonderful friends. Older, younger, married, single, moms, and grandmoms. I have a beautiful rainbow collection of friends, both IRL (in real life) and on the WWW. Today, I am tickled pink to have the opportunity to introduce you to one of them.

Jan Morton, aka Gran Jan, is a friend I met about 7 or 8 years ago. She is a Georgia girl, although she is the south-Georgia variety, while I plant my feet in north Georgia. Jan is a mom, sister, daughter, Gran Jan to some adorable grands, pastor’s wife, gardener, cook, friend, and beautiful, beautiful soul. Jan will soon wear one more label, but more on that later.

 

Jan Morton

Recently, Jan posted on her blog about a God-ordained opportunity she had last year to share her story on television. I was so taken with the whole thing that I asked her permission to introduce her to you, my faithful readers, and link to the television program where she shared.

You will be hearing more about Jan in the coming months because……………………..

Jan and I have co-authored a new Bible study that will be in stores on August 1st. It is called Tasting Grace and is based on my Tasting Grace mentoring in the kitchen ministry. Jan began a similar ministry in her church and called it Taste & See, and when she posted about it on her blog, I was completely smitten.

I will be sharing more about Tasting Grace, the book, in the coming days, but for now, I want you to meet my friend, Jan Morton. Here is just a snippet from the entire testimony that Jan gave on Life Today. The link to the entire interview is below.

 

 

Please introduce yourself to Jan in the comments. Click the link below to be taken to Jan’s blog where you can see her entire testimony on Life Today.

Jan’s Appearance on Life Today

 

 

 

The Loft Link-Up – Mothers

Today at The Loft our topic is “Mothers”. Having just celebrated Mother’s Day, this is a topic that should resonate in the hearts of many.

It has been almost 18 months since my Mother went to be with Jesus. I miss her every day. As I pondered on today’s topic, I decided to share with you a few lessons that I learned from my Mom.

 

 

Lessons from My Mother

 

LESSON ONE: LIVE GENEROUSLY

My Mother lived generously. She was the kind of mom whose singular focus was her family. She and my Daddy were always in attendance at anything my sister and I were part of….ballet recitals, football games, band concerts, and more. She was equally generous toward her friends, sending a bazillion greeting cards for birthdays, to those who had lost loved ones, and those experiencing illness. Anytime there was a death of a close friend or church member, Mother would be one of the first to show up with a casserole or salad.

LESSON TWO: LOVE GENEROUSLY

From the time I was six years old, my Mother stayed home and cared for her family. She was a wonderful cook and always prepared delicious meals for us. She was also an amazing seamstress, making beautifully tailored dresses, pants, coats and tops for my sister and me. Mother loved my Daddy in an amazing way. Daddy was stricken with polio at the age of 16 and walked on crutches the rest of his life. To the outside world, he was handicapped, although those who knew him would likely not have placed that label on him. After he died, my Mother told me that she was certain God placed her on earth to be Daddy’s helper. She assumed that role with honor and love. She loved her sisters and brothers, her Sunday school and Bible study classes, and her weekly lunch ladies. Most of all, she loved Jesus.

LESSON THREE: ALWAYS ACT LIKE A LADY

Mother was a lady….a true Southern lady. She got up each morning, showered, put makeup on, and dressed….every day until dementia took the Mother I knew. She interacted with others with kindness and gentleness, even when she disagreed with them. She never used curse words or told crude jokes. Mother loved to laugh, but was never obnoxious with her laughter. She was never rude or unkind.

I was extremely blessed with a wonderful, godly, caring, giving Mother. I can only hope to be half the woman she was.

I hope you will link your post on the topic of Mothers with us today. You will find the linky tool at the bottom of my post.

THE

 

We are a topic driven link-up, which means that we link posts that pertain to the topic of the week. Posts that are not on topic will be deleted.

We will offer a month’s worth of topics each week so you can plan and prepare for a post that helps you enter into the conversation. Here are the topics for the next month:

May 11 ~ Mothers

May 18 ~ Spiritual gifts

May 25 ~ Pot Luck

June 1 ~ Summer Vacation

Just a reminder that the link-up goes live on Wednesday morning at 5am and will stay live until the following Monday at 5pm. If you link up at The Loft, please do not link-and-run. We want to create conversation and community, therefore, we ask that if you linkup one post, please visit two others. There are some beautiful people who link-up each week, and visiting their posts is the best way to get to know them.

Now, it it time to get to today’s link-up. Our prompt today is MOTHERS. Link up a funny post today. You will find the linky at the bottom of my post. Enjoy the fellowship at The Loft.

The Loft

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft

 

Now it is time to linkup!

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My Life { In Pictures }

Hello there!

Most of the time I offer Biblical teaching and encouragement here in this space because that is the calling on my life from God. Today, however, I want to offer something different…something I hope you will enjoy.

I love to get glimpses into the lives of the writers from which I draw knowledge and wisdom. Seeing their families, hobbies, and homes makes them a bit more real, more personal. Today I am choosing to do an iPhone photo dump right here on the blog. It may not be your cup of tea, and if not, that is fine. You have my blessing to click out and go about your day. But, if you enjoy seeing pictures and getting a peek into my life, grab a cup of something hot and let’s visit. It has been a long time since I have done a photo dump here, so there is no telling what you will get, although it is a pretty good bet that there will be food involved. We are FOODIES at our house. Here we go:

 

 

We love deviled eggs. (See, I told you there would be food!) Recently I found a new deviled egg recipe that was the BOMB. I discovered Tex-Mex Deviled Eggs in the 50th anniversary edition of Southern Living. Greg and I ate these 10 halves in 2 days. Mmmm, mmmm good. They have a little bite to them because of the jalapeño, but you can give them as much or as little bite as you want by removing the seeds from the peppers before you stir up the filling. If you are a deviled egg peep, you MUST. TRY. THESE.

 

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Last weekend, Greg’s cousin, Kathy, and her husband, Jerry, were in the mountains of North Georgia for a little vacay. They attended church with us, and then came to our home for lunch. It was a sweet time of fellowship that included Jerry and Kathy, Greg’s parents, and his sister, Angie. I snapped a quick picture of the three cousins together, Angie, Greg, and Kathy. Love this picture.

 

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I love a good book, and I just finished one that YOU NEED TO READ. It is entitled Audacious by Beth Moore. Y’all, I have fallen in love with Jesus all over again. I never imagined I could love Him more than I already did, but this book…! Wow! His love for me, and for you, is AUDACIOUS. Because of that love, you and I can love AUDACIOUSLY. Moore uses tons and tons of Scripture, and lots of beautiful and hilarious word pictures to tell the story of AUDACIOUS love. My small group will be using this book as our spring Bible study. It is small and easy to read. Order your copy NOW.

I snapped a picture of one paragraph that really spoke to my heart. I have not always chosen my relationships wisely, especially in my 20s, so this excerpt spoke loudly to my heart.

 

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Late in 2015 I decided to go old school and purchase a 2016 planner in which I could write and scribble. I had used the electronic calendar on my iPhone for years, but missed having a day planner. So, after much research and querying friends about planners, I settled in on a Passion Planner. What a great choice! I love it. Passion Planners offer loads of space for calendaring, pondering, planning, and just being creative (which I am not). Each week there is a quote and a challenge for personal consideration. Here is one that I took a picture of and shared on Instagram.

 

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In January I scooted down to Atlanta to attend a ceremony where Bree was being inducted into Who’s Who Among American College Students. We are so stinkin’ proud of her. She is an engineering major and is rocking  her studies. She is actively looking for an engineering internship this summer. She would like to obtain an internship outside of Georgia, and I would be good with that. Of course, I would have to go visit her!!

Greg and I love this young woman so much, and it is hard to believe that only 5 years ago we did not even know her. Jesus has given us a love for her that absolutely blows me away. We are so blessed by her presence in our lives.

 

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I truly have the BEST in-laws in the world. Charles and Betty Adams are the real deal. They love me as if I was their natural-born daughter. I have known these wonderful people since I was in high school. Charles was my high school chemistry teacher, while Betty taught my sister in elementary school. They are retired educators who, at 83 years young, are probably more active than Greg and me. Jesus blessed me far more than I deserve when He allowed me to be part of their family. This picture was taken by our son, Charlie, when we were all in Destin, Florida at Thanksgiving. I think it is my all-time favorite of Charles and Betty.

 

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Last year for Mother’s Day, Bree gave me a package that contained 52 envelopes…each decorated by her in beautiful colors. On the front of each envelope was written, “I love you because you…….” Inside each envelope was a small square of paper on which Bree had written reasons why she loves me. People, do you know what kind of time that took? I was absolutely flabbergasted. It was one of my all-time favorite gifts. I have opened one envelope each week, and what a joy it has been. I’m still stunned at the time and effort that Bree put into making this amazing gift. Here are a couple of the envelopes.

 

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Ok, enough of my life in pictures. I hope you enjoyed them. I enjoyed going back and pulling them out. They remind me how blessed I truly am. I will see you back here on Monday, Lord willing.

The Loft Link~Up ~ Family

Good morning! Today’s topic at The Loft is FAMILY. You are welcome to link up any post you have written~~new or old~~ on this topic of FAMILY. I’m linking up a post from a few months ago that reminded us that FAMILY often looks very different than we might expect.

 

THE

 

Welcome to The Loft!

We are a topic driven link-up, which means that we link posts that pertain to the topic of the week. Posts that are not on topic will be deleted. We will offer a month’s worth of topics each week so you can plan and prepare for a post that helps you enter into the conversation. Here are the topics for the next month:

February 3 ~ Family

February 10 ~ Love

February 17 ~ Contentment

February 24 ~ Pot Luck – Any post, any topic!

Just a reminder that the link-up goes live on Wednesday morning at 5am and will stay live until the following Monday at 5pm. If you link up at The Loft, please do not link-and-run. We want to create conversation and community, therefore, we ask that if you linkup one post, please visit two others. There are some beautiful people who link-up each week, and visiting their posts is the best way to get to know them.

 

Now, it it time to get to today’s link-up. Our topic is Family.

You will find the linky at the bottom of my post. Enjoy the fellowship at The Loft.

The Loft

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft

Now it is time to linkup!

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