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.
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.
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 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.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
In late 2000 the Lord placed within my heart a ravenous hunger for studying the Bible. Honestly, I had no idea how to do it and do it effectively. Oh sure, I had been in church since 9 months before I breathed earth’s air, but had only spent a year or so doing any sort of study of the Scriptures. Yet, in those days in 2000 I knew that I MUST begin to study God’s Word.
Thankfully, I had a friend who had done a Beth Moore Bible study and she, too, was experiencing the same hunger as I. We prayed a lot and with the Lord’s leading organized a small ladies’ Bible study group. We began with Beth Moore’s study, Jesus, The One and Only.
Y’all, I was like a starving person who had just pulled up to a banquet table laden with every food imaginable. I was like a dry sponge who had been submerged in a sink of water. I could not get enough of the Word of God. I would spend at least an hour a day drinking in the sweet taste of Scripture. My faith began growing and my heart began changing into one that looked more like that of Jesus.
That is what the study of God’s Word will do for you. An expanding faith and softened heart.
Seventeen years later, I still cannot get enough Bible in my heart. God’s Word is living and active and speaks into any situation in my life. It is my corrector, my comforter, my teacher, my encourager. In good times and bad I run to Scripture for sustenance.
Over the years, I have used many different methods for studying Scripture. That is why I am so, so excited about my friend, Arabah Joy’s, new resource Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days. Because really, Burger King was onto something when they used the “have it your way” slogan for 40 years. Bible study is not a one size fits all thing. The method that I use to study God’s Word may not appeal to you and vice versa. AJ has put together a resource that I believe will be the BOMB to many people who are unsure of how to study the Bible. It will also provide new and different ways to do Bible study for those of us who are Bible study veterans and anything in between.
Let me tell you a bit more about this exciting resource.
This 7-day course will:
- teach you 7 different Bible study methods
- streamline the learning process so you don’t spend weeks or months figuring it out
- give you tools for going deep into God’s word in as little as ten minutes a day (perfect for busy moms!)
- provide ready made templates and printables you can choose from
- show you exactly how to do each method with the daily videos
- revolutionize your time in God’s word and discover fresh intimacy with God in the process.
- equip you to nourish yourself with the Scriptures
- teach you how to develop your spiritual senses
- help you establish a Bible study habit!
Plus, you can go at your own pace and you’ll have lifetime access to the course materials.
What’s not to love about that!
Bible study is one of those things about which I am dogmatic. There is NO OTHER WAY to grow your faith and develop a relationship with Jesus than the study of God’s Word. Period. It just will not happen if you do not study the Bible. You will remain a spiritual baby without Bible study.
So, are you ready to learn new ways to study the Scriptures? If so, I want to invite you to purchase Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days and get started on your own journey to intimacy and vibrant faith in Christ. Simply click the links in this post and you will be taken to AJ’s website where there is lots more information about this resource.
BONUS: Arabah Joy is offering a BONUS for everyone who purchases Bible Study Methods this week. It is a 6 week Bible Study Plan for the book of Ephesians using the 7 methods taught during the course. How awesome is that!!
I, too, want to reward you for taking a step toward a deeper walk with Jesus and here is how I am going to do it.
First, if you purchase Bible Study Methods using my links in this post, I have a FREE resource that I will send you. It is a listing of 11 Bible studies that I recommend. All you have to do to get it is send me (via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, direct message, text, carrier pigeon!) proof of purchase of Bible Study Methods. That’s it. Then I will email you the 11 Bible Studies resource.
Second, everyone who purchases BSM this week using my links will be entered to win a copy of any of the Bible studies that I have written (you choose the study): HeBrews: A Better Blend, Tasting Grace: A Mentoring in the Kitchen Bible Study, or Legacy: It’s What You Leave Behind. In order to be entered to win, however, you must leave me a comment here telling me you purchased or email me at email@example.com.
Sweet blessings, friends, as you study God’s precious Word!
Today for our Sharing Life series I am recycling a post from many years ago that has gotten a lot of traffic. It is a message that is especially tender to me because God took me to the woodshed over it. In fact, my name is emblazoned on the woodshed wall because God seems to take me there quite often. It is called sanctification, or cleaning me up. You too?
In this post we are reminded that sometimes humor is not funny.
Recently I attended a local community event and overheard a conversation that disturbed me greatly. A couple sitting near me were discussing making fun of an obese gentleman who was part of the event, but was not close enough to hear their conversation. After a few moments, their conversation turned to a different topic, but I was left pondering what I had heard.
Allow me to offer a disclaimer of which I am not proud: ten years ago I probably would have joined in the discussion and laughed right along with the couple.
I can still remember my mother telling me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately I did not learn that lesson very well and for many, many years used my tongue to make fun of others and talk about them behind their backs for a host of reasons. Unconsciously, I suppose I reasoned that as long as the person did not actually hear me doing it, I was safe. In truth, it really never occurred to me that my actions were displeasing to God and a sad statement about my relationship with Jesus. My actions spoke like a megaphone to the world about the state of my character. I called myself a Christian, but I was a hypocrite. I looked nothing like Jesus when I made fun of others and talked about them behind their backs. My words were neither encouraging or helpful to anyone.
In 2008 I was confronted with a quote from a flip calendar I received when I attended one of the awesome CLASS speaker training events. The quote by Patsy Clairmont was like a sword piercing deeply within my heart and it placed me under a wagonload of conviction about my actions and words. Consider the quote:
Humor: if it is at someone else’s expense, it isn’t funny.
Suddenly I saw my actions for what they were: sin that grieved the heart of God. I was making fun of another person just so I could have a laugh or, Lord, help me, feel superior to another person. What arrogance! What ugliness!
Over the past few years, I have consistently prayed for the Lord to help me see my sin as He sees it and to help me turn from it. He is doing that!
Do you make fun of others? Do you talk about others behind their backs and in a way that is not pleasing to the Lord? I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal any tendencies toward this kind of sin in your heart. I know you want to leave a godly legacy and getting rid of this sin is one way to do just that.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
Now, here are links to some books that are funny.
Fridays are all about Sharing Life with YOU! Women Sharing Life with other women. Titus 2 mentoring.
Sometimes we talk about Friendship:
while other times we talk about Faith.
Today, however, we are talking Food, and specifically a kitchen hack that I learned last year that has been a money saver. Not huge sums of money, but every penny counts, right?
So, how many of you have recipes that you love or that you would love to try and they call for 1 tablespoon or 2 ounces or some other ridiculously small amount of tomato paste? Yeah, me too.
The smallest size can of tomato paste that I have been able to find is 6 ounces and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste is only 1 ounce, so what do you do with the rest of that can? Well, if you are like me, you just throw it away. UGH, WHAT A WASTE!
Well, not anymore.
I learned last year that you can FREEZE tomato paste.
So, I proceded to take myself to the grocery and buy a large can of tomato paste (12 ounces).
I tore off small sections of plastic wrap, measured 1 tablespoon portions of tomato paste into each little piece of plastic wrap,
sealed it up and put them in an airtight container in the freezer.
Abracadabra!!! Now any time I need tomato paste in small amounts I simply pull my pre-measured portions out of the freezer and use them in my recipes. It is quick, easy, and economical. How ’bout that!!!
I would love to hear some of your kitchen hacks in the comments. Come on! Let’s share kitchen life!
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
Since we are talking about kitchen hacks, I wanted to give you links to some of my favorite kitchen products. If you are reading this post via email and cannot see the links, please click HERE to go to my website where the links will be visible.
Hello Friday! Glad you stopped in!
How are you friends? I hope you have had a great week. Our Sharing Life series is focused on women mentoring women, and the words we offer here are centered around one of three themes: Faith, Friendship, or Food. There have been some wonderful posts in this series and I hope you have had a chance to read them all. Today, I want to lighten things up a bit and give you a glimpse into one way that I take mentoring very seriously.
If you have explored my website at all, you know there is a link to my Tasting Grace events. In case you are not familiar with Tasting Grace, may I tell you about it?
Tasting Grace is a mentoring in the kitchen event. So many women did not have the experience of standing beside their mothers or grandmothers in the kitchen learning how to prepare home-cooked meals. Because of this many women either do not have cooking skills or are intimidated by the idea of preparing meals from ‘scratch’. It is into this setting that God has called me to help women learn about preparing home-cooked, delicious meals for their family.
Once a month I invite 5-6 women into my kitchen for a short devotion and a couple of hours of standing shoulder to shoulder in order to learn to make a few homemade dishes that they can replicate at home for their families.
Our time in the kitchen has brought forth some tasty dishes like pound cake, chicken and dumplings, chicken and cornbread dressing, chicken noodle soup (um, chicken seems to be a theme here), fruit cobblers, cheese rings, salads, canned strawberry jam, and so much more. While we chop and mix and sauté we share life, marriage, children, joys, and heartaches. We have laughed and cried together. We have prayed and eaten together. We have made new friendships and renewed old ones. We have tasted the good grace that God showers on women as they do life with other women.
Not only do I host Tasting Grace sessions in my home, I take it on the road to other homes and churches. I love sharing the fun that is Tasting Grace.
Last year all this fun turned into a book by the same name. Tasting Grace: A Mentoring in the Kitchen Bible Study offers ladies the opportunity to host a Tasting Grace session in their own homes and churches. The book is a combination 4 week Bible study focused on the topic of mentoring AND a how-to guide for hosting your own Tasting Grace event. The picture of the book below is my affiliate link to the Amazon page for the Bible study in case you would like to pick up a copy for yourself.
Now, I would love to share a few photos from previous Tasting Grace sessions so you can see what kind of fun we have. I hope you enjoy them AND I hope you catch the fever for mentoring in the kitchen.
Ready to make homemade biscuits
Measuring and sifting flour.
Chicken and Dumplings!
Last week in our Sharing Life series we began a look at suffering and how to prepare ourselves for it. We explored the fact that LIFE IS HARD, BUT GOD IS GOOD. Y’all, no one is exempt from suffering. It is simply part of the human experience in a world that is tragically and fatally broken because of sin. Today we finish by considering two more thoughts that lend courage and perseverance when we are in the heat of suffering.
Experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac bypass surgery is a life-altering event, physically and emotionally. I know this, not because of personal experience, but because I worked in cardiac rehab for a few years late in my career at Emory University.
When individuals walk through one of these events, they often come out on the other side feeling frightened, isolated, and unsure of how to move forward. One lady shared with me that she was terrified that even the simple act of walking up her stairs at home might cause another cardiac event. Fear crippled her so much that she was unable to make herself go up her stairs to the bathroom the day she was released from the hospital. She said, “I wet myself because I was too afraid to try the stairs.” After participating in a cardiac rehab program, she emerged confident in her physical abilities and ready to move forward.
These very feelings are the reason cardiac rehabilitation programs are such a blessing. Not only do cardiac patients receive coaching and monitoring for exercise, stress management, and diet, they receive something else that enables most to journey on. They are surrounded by others who have walked the same road; others who can come alongside of them and encourage them to keep moving forward. So often this camaraderie, this coming alongside of, reminds the patient that others have experienced what they are experiencing. They are not alone!
This is the second thought that I want to share about preparing ourselves for suffering seasons.
We Are Never Alone
While suffering may cause us to feel distraught and alone, the truth is that we are not. There are other people who have walked a similar road…maybe not the identical one, but a road similar enough to be able to show empathy and understanding. Our tendency in the middle of suffering seasons is to withdraw and hide, thinking that no one understands or cares. But, the truth is that there is always someone out there…a person with skin on, as well as Jesus….who will walk with us.
Paul, the apostle, knew the truth of this and shared it with the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 1:3-9. He told the church of the utter despair that he and others felt in a suffering season…despair that caused them to be certain they would die. They did not die, and the lesson he taught the church as a result of his suffering season was that God allowed that season so he could come alongside others who suffer. I’ve linked to the passage because it is an absolute go-to passage for me in times of suffering. I hope you will read it.
We are never alone in our suffering seasons, friends, but we must not isolate ourselves. We must be willing run to Jesus with our hurts, and allow God to bring others alongside us for comfort.
There Will Be An End
The final thing we need to remember as we go through suffering is that there will be an end to it. That is why it is called a ‘season’. Seasons come and seasons go. In Isaiah 43:1-3a (ESV) the prophet told Israel:
1 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (emphasis mine)
Every person in Scripture experienced a suffering season. Even Jesus, especially Jesus. But, there was always an end. If God has allowed suffering in our lives, there is a reason…a purpose, and He will bring it to the desired end.
Are you in a season of suffering? I hope these two posts will provide comforting reminders of the love of God toward you. Reminders that
- God is good, even when life is hard
- You are never alone in suffering seasons
- Your suffering season will have an end
So, friends, I leave you with the wisdom of the writer of Hebrews. For those of us who are in a suffering season,
1 let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Here I offer you my Amazon Affiliate link to another of Dr. Charles Stanley’s wonderful books on suffering. This book is one that you will want for your library.