I Got {Almost} Nothing for You, But Just Wanted to Say ‘HI!’

Hello there!

Y’all, I’ll be honest with you…I’ve got {almost} nothing to give you.

That doesn’t mean there is nothing going on in my corner of the world. There is a lot going on, but so much of it is just heavy, hard stuff.

A dear friend hearing the ‘C’ word…cancer

Marriages shattering in a million pieces

Relationship angst

Friends with aging parents who are battling some serious limitations

You know….the really tough stuff.

My head spins with the nearness and seriousness of it all, and my heart just feels heavy. I stand at my desk to write and nothing comes. I sit to study Scripture and my heart feels dry. (I’m just being honest here.) I know there is life-giving, life-altering power in the Word but for some reason I feel numb, and I cannot even begin to serve up something to you that I am not feeling.

We writers go through these seasons when words won’t come. In fact, it was out of one of these dry, heavy seasons that my devotional When Words Won’t Come appeared.

 

So, today I am going to offer you a few pictures and words that I will use to share some of the highlights of the past month or so. It’s all I have to offer right now. (If you cannot see some of the pictures or links, go HERE.)

 

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On March 10th I represented my church in a local fundraiser called Super Chef Showdown that benefits Hope House. Twenty-five local ‘non-chef’ cooks prepared one dish of their choosing to offer as their entry into the Showdown. I chose to make Five Flavor Pound Cake. I had to make enough to feed a 4 oz serving to 200-225 people, so needless to say, I spent some time in the kitchen the day prior to the event.

 

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I made six pound cakes. Yep, six. I was a busy little cook for a full day.

On the day of the event folks from church came to help me slice the cakes and place the servings in the cups. In the picture below are L to R: Becca Medori (my pastor’s wife), me, Cheryl Dyer, Pam Corn, and Mike Medori (my pastor). We had a blast!

 

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Then, the doors were opened to the community and folks could move around the room, tasting all the chefs’ creations. There was a jug on each chef’s table. As the visitors tasted the food they voted for the dish they liked best by placing money in the jug. The chef with the most donations won the “People’s Choice Award”.  I was truly stunned when the winners were announced and I won 3rd place in that category. It was so much fun and I will definitely think about doing it again next year.

 

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What I am about to tell you may be TMI, but here goes. I got a couple of new tattoos recently.

Now, before you go looking at me all cross-eyed, I will tell you that they are cosmetic tattoos. For years and years I have had permanent eyeliner and I LOVE IT. It saves so much time in the morning during makeup application. So, recently I got my eyebrows done. I’m at that age where my eyebrows seem to have moved to a new zip code! So, I went back to my eyeliner girl and got my eyebrows tattooed. At this point, they are still a work in process.

For the first week I looked like Groucho Marx. Then for a few days I looked like I had a jungle disease of some type on my eyebrows as the scabs formed. It was UGLY! Now, I’m at the stage where they look okay, but I will be going back for a touch-up in a week to finish the work. Perhaps I will post a picture of the finished product in a few weeks.

Here is a picture immediately after the application. Yep, Groucho Marx. What you are seeing there is very dark ink (lots of it). That has lightened considerably.

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Here I am today, four weeks after the first application.

 

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If you have ever wanted permanent makeup, DO IT!! It is the bomb dot com!

 

For a writer in a dry, dry season, receiving word of not one, but TWO groups of ladies doing my HeBrews Bible study has been such a balm to my soul. One group is in New York and the other in Virginia and both groups are the cutest things you have ever seen. Take a look.

 

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Thank you so much, ladies, for choosing HeBrews. There are so many wonderful in-depth studies out there and for you to choose the one the Lord and I wrote is humbling. I pray that Jesus would be high and lifted up in your hearts because of this study.

 

One more picture….a beautiful reminder that the sun comes up every morning by God’s grace and with His favor. There is new hope and fresh manna for each day. Have a blessed Day~~~

 

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SDG/FCA!!

 

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Handshakes, Hugs, and Legacy

Two days before the calendar flipped to 2018 I stood among a standing-room only crowd in a tiny south Alabama Congregational Methodist church at the funerals of my husband’s uncle and cousin. On the 22nd of December, 94-year-old Uncle J, 93-year-old Aunt K, and their only living child, 75-year-old E were on their way to dinner near Mobile, Alabama. A woman in a pick-up truck had apparently already side-swiped another car before careening further down the wrong side of a four-lane highway. She hit our family members nearly head on before her truck burst into flames, killing her at the site of the accident. E, who was driving, tried to avoid the truck, but swerved just enough to take most of the impact on her side of the car.

Uncle J died at the scene. E was taken to the hospital where she underwent a couple of surgeries, but eventually died late on Christmas Eve from the trauma. Aunt K suffered a fractured sternum, broken ribs and other non-life threatening injuries. Her body should recover, but her heart is broken from the loss of her daughter and the man she had called ‘husband’ for over 75 years . Before I tap out another word, you need to know that these are three of the most precious Christian people I know.

 

 

Handshakes Hugs and Legacy: It's What You Leave Behind

 

 

As I stood in that church and listened to Uncle J’s nephew on the other side of his family offer the eulogy, I was touched by two things he said about Uncle J and E. As he reminisced, he told those of us in the church about Uncle J’s handshake. It was the handshake of a man who was a Southern gentleman. Firm enough to let you know he was serious about life and his handshake, yet not so firm that it hurt. Uncle J had developed dementia in his later years, yet his nephew shared that the handshake was still there, although it might not have been exactly like it once was. I have long been convinced that a handshake tells you a lot about a person.

While I do not recall ever shaking Uncle J’s hand, my memory of him over the 23 years that I have been part of the family is one of a true gentleman and gentle man who always had a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face. He was a retired civil servant who gave a lot of years of his life to his country. He lived in a brick home in the middle of cotton and peanut fields that he often farmed. The standing-room-only crowd was a beautiful testimony to the love that South Alabama community has for Uncle J, Aunt K, and Cousin E.

My memories of E are just as vivid and precious. She had a smile that would light up a room, and according to many in the church that day, E gave wonderful hugs. Her oldest daughter shared this fact with me in the hours after E met Jesus face-to-face. I can agree with them, having been the recipient of a few of E’s hugs. In fact, Uncle J’s nephew mentioned those hugs in his eulogy, which tells me that E was generous with her magnificent hugs.

If you know anything about me, you know that my jam, my heartbeat, is legacy…the legacy we leave each day for those who circle around our lives. Part of Uncle J’s legacy was his handshake that said he was a man of his word, a man of character and integrity. He was a faithful husband and a loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather. His handshake and life told you that he was a diligent worker and faithful Christian. Cousin E’s beautiful smile radiated the love and care of Jesus to all she met, and her hugs were God’s way of bringing comfort to many people, as well as a sense of being cared for by someone very special. Neither of these folks ever stood on a big stage, spoke to large crowd, or heard the call of fame or great fortune. Yet, they leave a legacy that will reverberate for generations.

Character

Integrity

Faithfulness

Diligence

Love

Joy

Comfort

Encouragement

 

All evidenced by a handshake or a hug.

 

I’d say handshakes and hugs are mighty fine pieces of a legacy, wouldn’t you?

My heart would be so appreciative if you would pray for Aunt K and for Cousin E’s three adult children and their families. I am so thankful that Jesus walks with them on this new journey.

 

SDG/FCA!!!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

 

Perhaps this post has you thinking about your legacy. You might want to change the life of a child in poverty through a Compassion Child Sponsorship. Please use the links below or on my side-bar to do that. Maybe you want to learn more about creating and leaving a godly legacy. I wrote a Bible study just for that. Click here or the link below to check it out.

Hope for the Hurting Wife: Author Interview with Rebekah Hallberg

It looks like I may be settling into an every Monday posting schedule here at the blog. We shall see.

Over the past couple of years I have had the pleasure of getting to know two women who have made lasting impressions on my heart. It all began when we ended up in a writing group together. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of those ladies.

Rebekah Hallberg is someone whom I have never met in real life, but I just know that if we did meet, we would be BFFs. Over the last year, Rebekah has been such an incredible encourager to me. Not only in words, but also in her actions. In addition to being a writer, wife, mom, and all around awesome friend, Rebekah is a virtual assistant. If you see almost anything from me on social media, you can be fairly certain that Rebekah was the one who created it. She is such a blessing to me because social media is a must in ministry these days, but I just do not enjoy spending massive amounts of time creating posts and tweets. Enter Rebekah. She is a master at Pinterest and Twitter and Facebook.

Today I am so excited to introduce you to Rebekah and her new book, Hope for the Hurting Wife. This book, y’all! It is the creation of Rebekah and another wonderful woman that I will introduce you to very soon, Jen Stults. I’m convinced that many wives out there would be so blessed by this book and its authors, because as wonderful as marriage can be and is, it can also be incredibly painful. So without more words from me, allow me to introduce you to Rebekah.

 

Hope for the Hurting Wife

 

LA: Rebekah, I may have readers who do not know you. Would you please tell them a bit about yourself?

RH: Thank you, Leah, for having me here! What a blessing to be able to spend some time with you and your readers! I grew up as a missionary kid. I was born in the states, but spent 4 years in West Africa when my parents followed God’s call to missions overseas. I learned about faith in God from a very young age, and my faith has always been a strong, important part of my life.

 

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I have been married for 18 years and my husband and I have 3 children. I hold a degree in education and have worked in both regular and special education settings. I originally started my blog as a place to document our family’s journey with special needs after our second son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Over time, I transitioned to faith-based blogging, telling God that I’d blog about anything except marriage. Let me just pause right here for a minute to say this:

Don’t tell God what you won’t do.

I now blog about marriage. God must have had a few chuckles when I told Him what I would not write about. More on that in a bit.

 

LA: What occupies your free time? Hobbies? Interests? 

RH: I spend a lot of my free time listening to piano music as all three of our children play the piano. Our oldest son is a piano performance major at a local university and while he practices a lot at school, between all three kids, there are still multiple hours of piano practice in our home each day.

I also enjoy a good cup of coffee and some quiet time to read. I enjoy watching movies with the family and spending quiet evenings talking and laughing with my husband.

 

LA: What are some items on your bucket list? 

RH: I recently read an article about someone who traveled across the US by train, making particular stops at scenic destinations along the way. I think that would be a great trip to take with my husband someday! I’d also love to see our oldest play at Carnegie Hall in New York City. What an amazing opportunity that would be! I’d love to see my younger two perform as well, but God may have other plans for their lives, and in time, it will be wonderful to see them following their God-given gifts!

 

LA: How did you develop an interest in writing and when did you begin writing seriously?

RH: Writing is one of my newer hobbies. I am not one of those people who always knew they wanted to write – quite the opposite, in fact. I never enjoyed writing in school. It was always such a chore for me. When I started blogging, the writing came a little more easily. I think that’s because I was writing about topics that I was interested in, and could write at my own pace. I’ve been writing seriously for about 4 years now. As I follow God’s promptings on my heart, the writing becomes easier.

 

 LA: What is the story behind your book, Hope for the Hurting Wife?

RH: Remember when I told God that I wouldn’t write about marriage? I had what I thought was a pretty normal marriage. We were both active in church, we loved each other, we loved our kids and were raising them to love the Lord – by all accounts things were good! One morning we were startled by a sudden knock at the door, followed by a lot of shouting. As we opened the door, the bottom fell out of my marriage and my world fell apart. I was completely blindsided and had no idea what was happening. Reality was being revealed and I realized that my marriage was not at all that I thought it had been. Heartbroken and utterly devastated, I started the hardest journey of my life – to pray for redemption for my marriage. It took me about 6 months to decide that I wanted to stay, that I wanted to work through the choices my husband made that nearly cost us our marriage.
I met Jen, my co-author, in a blogging group. While our backgrounds and stories are different, God brought us together and gave us a deep connection because of our stories. We realized that women needed the hope, the understanding, of another woman who has been through a crisis in her marriage. We first released a 14-day version of our book as a download in February, 2017. The response was so great that we knew we needed to do more. After a lot of praying and seeking God, we decided to combine some of our writings, and to add some content that has never been published before, and turn our book into a 30-day book that we hope will bless and encourage women at any stage of their marriage. We’re proud to share Hope for the Hurting Wife with you.

 

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LA: Tell us more about Hope for the Hurting Wife, please!

RH: Hope for the Hurting Wife is a beautiful story of God’s redemption in our marriages. The book offers 30 days of encouragement for your marriage (plus amazing bonus content at the end of the book). It’s also our story of how God has redeemed our marriages. Jen and I share personal stories from some tough times we’ve faced. We share how God used those times to strengthen us and to give us hope as we worked on issues in our own marriages.
Each chapter addresses a different issue that we have faced, and that most women will find relatable. We cover topics such as communication, dealing with our emotions, trusting God with your marriage, and feeling stuck in the “for worse” of marriage.
We hear from many wives who are in tough situations and want to make it clear that this book is not one that pressures a woman into staying in an abusive marriage. We support the need for women to get help and to find safety if they are a victim of abuse. Our book is not a guarantee to solve the issues in your marriage or to fix your broken marriage. While we’d love to offer that hope, only God has that power. What we can do is gently point you to God, to remind you that even amid struggles in our lives, He is faithful. We can’t make changes in your marriage, but He can! We use this book to offer that hope and encouragement.

 

LA: Rebekah, where can my readers find your book?

RH: Hope for the Hurting Wife can be purchased on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions. (Click links to be taken to the book page on Amazon)

SALE ALERT: The Kindle version of  Hope is available for 99 cents for a limited time, so click here to grab that deal.

 

LA: I would love for my readers to connect with you. How can they do that?

RH: You’ll find me at Sharing Redemption’s Stories (link to http://rebekahmhallberg.com ), on Facebook (link to https://www.facebook.com/rebekahmhallberg/ ), Pinterest (link to https://www.pinterest.com/RebekahHallberg/ ) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/rebekahmhallberg/ ).
I’d love to connect with you and be an encouragement for your marriage!

 

LA: Rebekah, do you have any final thoughts to share with my readers? 

RH: I’m positive that the devil came for my marriage they day they knocked on my door. I was so blindsided by all that happened, and I’m sure the devil planned for that to be the undoing of my marriage. But as I slowly waited on God, as I let Him work in every aspect of the situation, He kept reminding me how precious my family is and how much He loved each of us. He worked deep in my heart to remind me that redemption is for everyone, no matter what we’ve done. That reminder gave me courage to pursue redemption in my marriage.
And I want you to know that nothing is too far out of the realm of possibility for God to redeem. Nothing!

Hope for the Hurting Wife is a story of redemption because God still redeems today!

 

SDG/FCA!!!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

We Are In A War! Let’s Do Battle!

Good morning! I will just go ahead and warn you…this is a multi-purpose post. I’m all over the board with it, so hang on.

 

Doing Battle For Our Children

 

 

I’m pretty excited that it is Friday and the weekend is here. Really, what I am excited about is Sabbath and a day of rest and worship. Y’all, I am leaning into Sabbath like my life depended on it. Because really, it does! After reading Shelly Miller’s book Rhythms of Rest TWICE, I am absolutely convinced that Sabbath is an all-out necessity. So, on Friday I change the sheets on the beds. On Saturday I do a couple of loads of laundry and prepare food for us to have on Sunday. Then, at 7pm on Saturday I settle in for Sabbath. No laundry is done on Sunday. Very little food is cooked on Sunday. I gather my book and quilt and spend Sunday afternoon reading and resting. Sometimes I sit on my deck and pray, while other times I visit with family and friends. My Sabbath rest re-charges me for the week ahead and draws me closer to Jesus. I really, really want to encourage you to lean into Sabbath. You can do it, even if you have littles in your home. It may be a Sabbath hour while they are napping, but you can carve out some Sabbath time for your heart.

 

Ladies, there is still time to register for the Come Away [retreat}. I have a couple of spaces open and I would love to have you join us September 15-17th for some intimate time with Jesus. It is a time when we will study the Scriptures, worship, pray, rest, and just cozy up next to our Lord. Would you join us? Go HERE to learn more about the retreat and how to register.

 

Come Away Retreat

 

Finally, I wanted to share something with you that I heard on the radio this week. It impacted my heart greatly, and I hope it will be a blessing to you, as well. The pastor on the radio was named Randy Snyder and he was speaking about how parents can impact the lives of their children. This is not the word-for-word quote, but it is close.

As parents, we go to war for our children every time we pray for them. It is the most important thing we can do for our children.

 

It really is true. While I have no children to whom I gave birth, there are a handful that of young adults that I love with all my heart. Charlie, Bree, Parker, Coleson, Kalem, Erika, my Compassion daughters, and a few more. It is privilege to go to war for them on a regular basis. I ask the Lord to give them hearts that love Him deeply and to bring them spouses that love Jesus more than he or she love them. I ask Him to guide them and lead them each day. I go to war for these young adults because I love them as if they were my own.

Do you have children or young adults for whom you go to war? Suit up! The next generation needs our prayers.

 

SDG/FCA!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

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.

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