attack of the Easter Bunny… and the enemy

so, the Easter Bunny just attacked our town a few days ago… what now?
colored eggs, unfound, cracked, left in fields, waiting to decay…

Easter Sunday at our church we had ‘no eggs. no bunny. just Jesus.’ 
we also have ‘no budget.’
we are a frugal church, with little excess finances for plastic eggs filled with candy and promises of tooth decay…
however, we did have four amazing services over the weekend, between our two campuses on the east side of Columbus.
we worshipped Jesus and celebrated His death and resurrection.
humbled by His great love, many lives were changed forever by His great name!
what else can we ask for?

to win the battle… against the attacks of our enemy, satan… our adversary… err, the devil. or the slithering snake, or fallen angel… whatever you want to call him. i usually don’t have very nice names for him.

about this time every year, we freak out.
it usually begins in January… and worsens as Easter Sunday approaches…
our stress increases, our blood pressure rises, fighting festers, the dread of tax season looms, sickness abounds, winter lingers… and the cloudy days drag on and on and on and on and on… 
and to top it all off, we have attacks from the enemy.
and we battle. 
worship increases. prayer increases. aaand… my spiritual dreams increase.
i have had several spiritual dreams since we began working in the ministry. i have heard from God in many ways ~ thru His word, His voice and His people. aaand… thru spiritual dreams. at the risk of sounding like a crazy person… you can just count me in as a lune for Jesus. i am obsessed with Him. there is nothing else i want more.

early last week, i had a dream where in the ‘first scene’ i was observing people in a large crowd. and three people stood out to me. two men and one woman. one of the two men was bullying a few people. and the woman was dressed in rags. i made note of it, but didn’t think much else. in the ‘second scene’, i was in an office building. it was a shared space between the office workers and a ministry. i was standing in line next to the break room, waiting to get coffee {of course.} and the woman (who i had seen previously dressed in rags) was accusing me of thinking she was a homeless person. this woman, was now dressed in office attire, and we were arguing about her assumption of me. i was growing angry from her accusations and defending myself and the truth of what i was thinking. in the meantime, i see one of the two men bullying one of the ministry workers. he was poking at the ministry worker with a long pointer stick, saying, ‘you don’t have a right to be here and have use of this building, etc…’. i grew more angry, and with boldness grabbed the stick from the man and threw it into the break room above the refrigerator. as i threw his stick, i was yelling at the man to stop it and leave the ministry worker alone. then i started to leave the room, and as i was walking out i said to the man, ‘i know you’re going to try and get me back for stopping you, and you can come after me, but i don’t care because i have Jesus Christ, and He is everything that i need!’ 

at that very moment, i woke up. my heart was beating fast and i knew it was a spiritual dream, and that i had just been in battle. next to me, our youngest daughter was in our bed. she had fallen the day before and busted her lip, so she crawled in our bed pretty early that night, since she wasn’t sleeping well from the pain. a few minutes after i woke up, i heard her say, “we love you” in her sleep. i don’t know if she had been dreaming and was talking to Jesus, but i like to think that she was 🙂

it is difficult to put into words all of the battles we endure <yes, even from me – a big talker – an external processor – who is rarely without words>
one common battle is sickness.
this winter, we have endured so much sickness as a family. we have dealt with sickness more than i would like to remember. our three kids have been sick so much, they have missed nearly too much school. i have been sick more than any other season in my life. and adam [who rarely ever gets sick] was sick. a lot.
although we always knew there was a light at the ‘end of the tunnel’… we grew weary, discouraged and drained with all of the sickness swirling around our household.

we changed our diet for a while – we became *temporarily vegan*. we ate a lot of canned beans. we cut out most of our dairy. it was rough. i mostly failed at the task. during one of our *becoming vegan* conversations, adam said he had been researching canned beans and found that there was BPA on the cans. my response, “oh. my. shit.” sorry for the explicative, but it is what i said. so we changed our diet back to being carnivores. not much changed. i am not shaky anymore from a lack of protein, but we still got sick.
i attacked the germs head on with vinegar and a rag. i disinfected every corner of the house. and even though sickness returned, i still stand by my all natural cleaners. all the other stuff gives me a headache. even when i pass the cleaning aisle at target, i get a headache and sick to my stomach.
and in the midst of these periods of sickness, other things were happening.
i really hate to give the enemy of our souls too much credit, but we were in the midst of a spiritual battle.
Jesus battled the enemy in Matthew 4, and in 1 Peter 5:8, we are warned to beware of the enemy.

the Saturday night before Easter Sunday, our youngest became ill with a fever, projectile vomiting and diarrhea. we had just been at the park playing together, ran an errand, went to eat dinner and suddenly she became sick. again… and the night before our Easter services, no less… hmmm…

so we battled. we worshipped prayed and cleaned up the mess. we moved forward in hopes that she would become miraculously better overnight. and she did. praise God.

our hunger for God will not been satisfied, and our desire to experience His presence will not wane.
two verses that have been continuously impressed upon my heart recently are Jeremiah 29:13 and Deuteronomy 4:29… “you will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all of your heart.”

the more we seek the Lord, hunger after Him, desire to walk in His ways, know Him better, worship Him more intimately, love Him more deeply, become obsessed with Himwe will find Him! what an amazing promise to stand on!!!

there is no greater joy than serving Jesus. and as we pursue Him, it is pretty much a guarantee that we will deal with spiritual battles throughout our walk with Him. we know He is with us in the battle that rages around us. He is leading us. He is fighting for us. He is our calm in the midst of the storm. He is our shelter at all times.

the Bible is full of stories and verses that speak to us about His presence with us in the battles we face. I am so grateful for a God who loves me so much, and has a personal relationship with me, and speaks to me thru His word, His voice, His people, and thru dreams…

there are so many more stories i could tell of battles and dreams and hearing God’s voice… but for now, i will leave you with this verse…
“So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” amen. 

In Him, Leslie

Xtreme Running

i used to be an extreme runner…
now it’s not like i’m an ultra runner that’s insane running.
i used to be extreme because i would obsess over running… it was like a drug. i couldn’t wait for my next running fix -aka- four miles on the trail.
i kept track of my miles and averaged between 18-24 miles per week. and i would be frustrated if i ran less.
this year i have lightened up a lot. i still like to run…but i don’t obsess over the number of miles i’m logging.
this is partially because i don’t have a current running goal. in the past few years, i completed my first 1/2 marathon and several other races. i loved all these experiences but…
this year i stopped keeping track and started walking more.
there are many reasons why… but mainly because i only want to obsess over one thing – JESUS!
even more than an extreme runner, i am an extreme worshipper.

today i was doing the dishes and strongly felt the Lords presence with the Jesus Culture – Live from NYC worship CD playing in the background.
doing dishes is seemingly a menial task but it can also be powerful. often times, i hear God when i’m doing the dishes.
several years ago, i read a book that changed my life… The Practice of the Presence of God – Brother Lawrence was a monk who served the Lord, and was preoccupied with having a sensitivity to the Lords presence, even in the simple daily tasks he was required to do.
Brother Lawrence primary job was cleaning up after others. sounds like motherhood, huh?

i also hear God when i am on a walk / run… or when i go “wogging”… or ”jalking”.
today i was planning to do 3 miles on the tread mill – a sure thing – easy peasy lemon squeasy – get on, zone out while watching t.v., 3 miles later get off. certainly nothing extreme about it.
however, today was a beautiful day, so adam really encouraged me to go running outside.
ugh, i thought. i’ll just go on the treadmill and get it over with – it’s safe – …but our God is not safe.

so i ran around my hood listening to the Jesus Culture NYC CD blaring in my headphones.
as soon as my foot hit the pavement, this became extreme running and extreme worship.
i ran, danced, skipped, jogged backwards, twirled, lifted my hands, leaped and jumped for joy, i felt like i was flying down the hills…
i looked crazy but i didn’t care it was wonderful!
and we don’t live in a quiet secluded neighborhood…
i felt like a gazelle running, leaping thru the air, but i probably looked more like an elephant pounding the pavement 🙂 still i didn’t care. and i didn’t cough – praise God – because of laughter this week! hahahahaha!!!
when we were attending Christ for the Nations Bible Institute, there was another student who was constantly looking up toward heaven everywhere she walked. i always thought she looked a little awkward, now i’m that girl.
today my soul was filled with freedom / song lyrics / reminder of my calling – worship / my need to dance before the Lord…

still, there are limits to extreme running – there is an attachment to our neighborhood where older folks live. i used to run there, but one day was stopped by a resident and told their streets were private and me walking thru there with my three year old would be likened to one of them coming and standing on my front lawn.  huh? that made no sense to me. their hood is an ‘off shoot’ of ours, where those residents have to drive thru the main road in our our hood in order to get to theirs. that day i was walking on the road, not near any of their houses – with my three year old. still i was told the residents had a right to call the police if any non residents were walking thru. and she kindly pointed out to me the ‘no trespassing’ signs. wow. i had just assumed those were for robbers or to discourage loitering. not for me and my three year old…

anyhoo – there might be boundaries in where you can go for extreme running, but there are no boundaries in extreme worship. in fact, freedom is encouraged. but beware, you might get a few stares if you’re dancing before the Lord, combining extreme running and extreme worship. 2 Samuel 6:14-16.

as the songs played and i went on, i was rounding a curve on the sidewalk listening to “Walk with Me” and i walked by one of my neighbors standing by her garage door. i smiled and waved and kept walking – but listening to the lyrics and the Holy Spirit, i turned around! she was now getting her mail, so i approached her, introduced myself and we talked for a minute. then i said ‘i don’t want to bother you, but i’m a Christian and as i was walking by you a minute ago, i felt like i should ask if you have any prayer requests’. she was very grateful and said ‘yes, i am a believer too’. she told me about her need, we talked a little more and i got to pray with my neighbor!

so maybe you can’t do extreme running, but everyone can go walking and give extreme worship a try! trust me, you will burn calories and so much more if you give it your all!