Night of Worship

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One of my first experiences at a ‘Night of Worship’ was in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, led by the worship leader Dennis Jernigan. I was 16 years old and one of my best friends invited me to attend the Night of Worship with her. I was eager to go, and I had no idea what to expect. But God…

My heart was beating to know God more. I grew up in church and “knew God”, but the desire for more was unquenched. I hungered to know Him more deeply. I sought to understand Him more intimately. As a 16 year old, my thoughts we on homework, friendships, choir practices, a few boys … and God. I attended youth group with my friends, but there was always something missing. My soul was searching to know God personally, beyond what I learned from my parents, my youth group, my youth pastor, and thru friendships.

During the Night of Worship, I weaved between listening to the voices around me singing, observing expressions of worship I had never seen before, and participating in a realm of worship I had never experienced. At one point during the evening, Dennis gently said, “Lift your hands to the Lord” … and I did. I had never lifted my hands in worship before. The moment my hands were surrendered, heat filled my palms. The Holy Spirit touched my hands. I didn’t fully understand what I was experiencing, but after that moment, my life was forever changed.

My friends and I continued attending Nights of Worship with Dennis Jernigan. They were crazy and wild. We would worship for hours, dancing before the Lord. Every single time, we would leave the church drenched in sweat. Those sweet moments with the Lord began to build upon a foundation of worship I would grow in.

Twenty years later, and I am a changed Worshipper.

Worship is a force that changes people. When all our affection, our attention and adoration is focused on the worship of Jesus, everything changes. As we worship, He changes the atmosphere. I am forever changed in worship. I am changed when all my affection, my attention, my adoration is focused on Jesus. Worship is our response to Jesus. When we are surrendered in worship, we are surrendering to Jesus. His great love for us changes us. And our response is more worship of Him. 

Dennis Jernigan’s story is one of redemption and response. After experiencing the love of Jesus, he was redeemed from a homosexual lifestyle, and his response was worship. As his life was changed by Jesus, he began leading worship… leading others into response toward Jesus. His journey as a Worshipper has profoundly impacted mine. His songs spoke profound truths I would sing continuously, carrying the melodies beyond the Nights of Worship and into my daily life. One Night of Worship can change everything – Here is a quote from his testimony.

“Upon my graduation from OBU in 1981, God began to move in supernatural ways that even I couldn’t see! One of these instances was a simple music concert. A group called The Second Chapter of Acts was going to be in concert in Norman, Oklahoma, and I knew that I was supposed to go. By that time in my life I was looking for anybody who was real, someone who had a real walk with the Lord. Among Christian musicians, I was looking for more than entertainers. So, I went to their concert. I knew by the words they said and the music they sang that these people were genuine, and the message was born out of times of desperation in their own lives. I needed hope. As I listened to Annie Herring speak and sing I was overwhelmed by the love she spoke of. This was the love I had dreamed of but still couldn’t believe was available to me! So I listened very intently with great expectation–until she came to the song Mansion Builder. This song caught my deepest attention because of the simple phrase, “Why should I worry? Why should I fret? I’ve got a Mansion Builder Who ain’t through with me yet?”18 All of a sudden she just stopped in the middle of the song and said, “There are those of you here who are dealing with things that you have never told anyone and you are carrying those burdens and that’s wrong–that’s sin and you need to let those hurts go and give them to the Lord. We are going to sing the song again and I want you to lift your hands to the Lord–and all of those burdens that you are carrying, I want you to place them in your hands and lift your hurts to Him.” This was all new to me–worship and praise. I had always thought before that this was just an emotional response that didn’t really mean anything. But you know what it did for me? As I lifted my hands, God became more real to me than I had ever imagined! The lifting of my hands was more than a physical action. My hands were an extension of my heart! I realized that Jesus had lifted His hands for me–upon the cross. I realized that He truly was beside me and that He was willing to walk with me and carry me and just be honest with me. And I could be honest with Him! At that moment, I cried out to God and lifted those burdens to the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, I can’t change me or the mess I’ve gotten myself into–but you can!” And you know what? He did change me!”

Worship changes everything. Jesus’ love for us changes everything. Our response to Jesus changes everything.

Have you been changed in worship? I’d love to hear your story! Feel free to share and comment.

In Him ~ Leslie

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Pursuing Love

We’ve been given nineteen years of love days together. This Valentines day was our best. one. yet. We had a wonderful date of adoration and conversation… No, this date was not filled with fancy clothes, flowers, jewelry or a lavish dinner… none of those things, really. We did not give each other gifts… we gave each other ourselves. We knew ahead of time we would not exchange gifts, we rarely do. Our expectations of each other were met, not by wants of material things we do not need, but the ease of an evening simply being together.

Our kids were well taken care of, unbound by any time frame, thankful money was no worry. We set out for a hole-in-the-wall middle eastern restaurant… Adam had a coupon for, of course. I love my thrifty man 😉 We prefer our own home cooked food to most restaurants, and enjoy cooking together, so we typically have low expectations of food when we eat out… yet we always hold high expectations of the coffee shops we frequent. We’re weirdos, I know.

We meandered our way thru downtown Portland, enjoying moments, even those we spent in traffic. Parking spot scored, with coupon in hand, we strolled on over to the restaurant. The owners greeted us and we settled in at our table. Their place is tiny, with only 5 tables, bustling with local customers coming and going. After we ordered, we observed everyone in the space was speaking Arabic, and greeting the husband and wife owners as if they were their own parents. Even though we were the only Caucasians in the restaurant, and I was the only female, besides the owners wife, we felt at home.

As we waited on our food, we were both in awe of what God was orchestrating. We were in the middle of another country, in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we were on our mission field. After we finished our food, the owner asked us how everything was. We told him the truth – they were the best gyros we’ve ever had. He began sharing about the restaurant and how he has been running the business. As we talked more, he came and sat down with us and we talked more. He was hilarious, sharing stories of how he took over the restaurant a few years ago, and made many changes, including not accepting coupons anymore – darn! 😉 But we didn’t care about the coupon, we only cared about the fact that our Valentines date was now being spent with an old Arabic man sharing his life story…

As we continued the conversation, we asked him, “How can we pray for you? How can we pray for your business?” He opened up, and we began to share with him our walk with Jesus. Adam told him he was a Pastor. Their response – “A priest? You’re too young to be a priest!” He hears that a lot from people, and he’s been serving in ministry for 20 years. He shared his own convictions and how he sees his relationship God… how he honors Jesus, Moses and Allah. I asked him more about Jesus… “How do you see Jesus?” He did not see him as equal to God or as Lord, but a prophet. We agreed to disagree, and after talking more, Adam shared with him John 14:6 and Jesus’ claim to be the only way to the Father. We talked with him for an hour, He kept saying, “I love talking to you about religion. It makes me feel good!” Their business began to pick up again, and he had to start cooking again. We thanked him for the wonderful food, said our good-byes and practically floated out of the restaurant.

Our date was spent sharing the pursuing love of Jesus with this precious man. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop and had the honor to meet and pray for 2 more people the Holy Spirit connected us with. Throughout the whole evening, as Adam and I worshipped and talked about God’s furious love for us, His love could not be contained within us. The overflow of His love poured out of us and onto those we came in touch with.

We had the best Valentines date… in fact, the best date of all time. The evening ended with a deeper understanding and revelation of God’s love for us and His love for others. We were rested, refreshed and renewed from the amazing moments we shared with each other and others we met. We are honored to be used by God and look forward to the next person Holy Spirit leads us to!

For Valentines and every day, I am a girl who longs for the presence of God in every moment. Flowers will die, clothing will become outdated, jewelry will fade, fancy dinners will go down the toilet… but God’s furious love is everlasting and is the only treasure worthy of my pursuing. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Do you know God’s love? His love changes everything. The pages are open to share your story… feel free to comment, ask for prayer, ask questions and share this blog. Our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

Fifty Shades of Love…

…because nothing says “I love you” more than a film laced with porn and violence… Happy Valentines Day!

A few months ago, we saw three minutes of porn and violence in the form of a romanticized trailer for an upcoming movie. The movie we actually paid to see was an intense WWII film, based on a true story of courage and unbroken determination. Yet, during most of the movie, I was distracted and disturbed by what I had seen in those three minutes. I wanted to scream. But I didn’t think that would go over too well in the middle of the movie. So I asked God to erase everything about it from my memory.

A few weeks ago, I took my children (whose eyes *see* everything) to a bookstore. My eyes glazed over the cover of this book laced with violence and porn, displayed on a table a few feet from the toy section where children play in this bookstore. I promptly turned it over. I wanted to pull a “Jesus in the temple with the money changers” and flip over the tables, but I held back my disgust and turned a few of the books over instead.

A few nights ago, the world celebrated, applauded and awarded a ‘song of the year’ grammy title to a song about a one. night. stand. I only caught a glimpse of the grammy’s the other night. And for the few moments I watched, while changing channels, this award being given. Sam Smith thanked the ‘man who broke his heart’ for the inspiration to write the song and win the grammy. and My heart broke. We rarely sing of true love anymore. We can not sing of what we do not understand.

If we do not know God’s love, we can not understand, receive, express or give Love. God is Love.

Nothing says “Happy Valentines Day” like a film full of porn and violence. Nothing says “I love you” more than a song about a one night stand.

Seriously?? …Is this what we have reduced LOVE to??

Please do not see this movie. ‘Fifty Shades of Shit’ (which was my original title idea, and my husband suggested I go another direction) Please do not waste your time, your energy or your money. Let’s get one thing straight – this movie is about MONEY. This is not art. This is not sex education. This is not sexual enhancement. This movie was made -and the books were written- purely to make money. Sex and money should never be partners.

My concern and disgust for ‘Fifty Shades…’ goes deeper than the movie or the books. We have a culture of choosing to believe and accept LIES. The lie says, ‘it’s okay to watch this movie, read this romance novel, peek at this magazine, listen to this song about a one night stand, scroll thru some porn…’ The lie says, ‘it’s harmless to invite porn into our marriages.’ The lie says, ‘it’s harmless to flirt, have a fling, have an affair.’ The lie keeps us in denial, ‘making it possible for a “john” to take advantage of a young girl and allow others to abuse her, to view her as his property, to make money off of her used body over and over again.’ The lie whispers to the buyer of the young girl held in bondage, ‘this is okay. there is nothing wrong with this abuse.’ When the TRUTH IS – there are SO MANY THINGS WRONG with this!!!

The TRUTH is we have a choice // don’t hire the prostitute // don’t participate in the cycle of human trafficking // don’t see the movie // look away from the magazine // close the book // turn off the t.v. // stop browsing porn sites // remove yourself from negative sexual conversation // flee from the temptation to flirt, have a fling, have an affair //

The TRUTH is there are many women, children and men in forced into slavery, held in bondage and sexual violence, being used against their will. They do NOT have a choice. WE have a choice. And yet we have the audacity to choose to SEE and applaud this movie and read the stupid books???? NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please. no. stop!

We need a ‘Joseph culture‘. We have a choice to flee from sin as Joseph fled from Potiphars wife… even when an opportunity presented itself… even though he probably would not have been ‘caught in the act’. He made a choice to flee. To be faithful to his God. Faithful to God’s Love. Joseph knew the Love of God, so he made the choice to say “No” and flee.

We have a choice to turn away from the images, even when know one else sees. We have a choice to say “No” and stop participating in the abuse. We have a choice to flee from sin and into the Love of Jesus. Wherever you are on the ‘spectrum’ of believing these lies, believing these things are okay… From browsing thru a soft porn magazine to becoming a “buyer” or a “john” caught up in the web of sexual slavery… You have a choice. Wherever you are – His Love is for you. and He is for you. You can choose the Love of Jesus. God is Love and He is for you. He desires to redeem mankind to Himself. To understand who True Love is. Who He is.

Then we will see Freedom Come. We will reject these movies, these books, these porn films, these magazines, the ability to oppress and abuse another human being in bondage. We will reject these lies and know the Truth. He is Jesus.

Please share your thoughts. Please freely share this blog. This is much deeper than a movie or a book series. I am praying for us. For freedom from these lies and for Truth to be known, as our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

Birthday Boy

Yesterday we celebrated Adam’s Birthday. Born April 29th, 1975 we celebrated him turning 39 years old. Thirty. Nine. He’s practically a dinosaur. Although… he has a baby face. So he’s more like a baby dinosaur…? Nah. He’s really an amazing husband, father and friend. He is all this and so. much. more. He’s also a Pastor. Sometimes I like to call him Mr. Pastor Pants. He loves hates when I call him that. As I gush and write about this baby dinosaur, who I also like to call Mr. Pastor Pants, I want to tell you how I really feel about this Birthday Boy. . .

Grateful.

I’m so grateful to be Adam’s wife. I’m grateful to know him. Really know him. More than anyone else does. Being in the ministry, Adam is a transparent Pastor, but no one truly knows him like I do. So… lemme tell ya what I know… 😉 He’s transparent and authentic. He’s motivated and passionate. He’s intense and focused. He’s wholeheartedly in love with me, our kids and most importantly, Jesus Christ. And he lives his life committed to serving Jesus and Shepherding people into relationship with Him. Buuut… B.U.T…T, before you get any ideas about his near angelic qualities… let me emphasize, he’s not perfect. However, he is amazing… And, I am grateful.

“When I see him, my heart skips a beat. There’s love in his eyes for me, for our kids, driven by his relentless dedication to our family. There’s truth on his tongue, fire in his soul and conviction in his veins to serve the One he loves wholeheartedly, the only One he loves more than me. We laugh, we cry, we fight, we love. Happy Birthday to an amazing husband, father and friend, full of passion, honor, and strength. I love you Adam… always and forever.”

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I wrote this and posted this picture on our shared Facebook page for his birthday.

There are moments we don’t see thru the same lens. There are times we are anxious stressed and fight. There are hours we waste arguing grumbling complaining. There are days we grow discontent prideful and arrogant. There are seasons we lose sight of GRATE. FULL. NESS. 

But God. . .

He keeps us together when were falling apart. He whispers our names when we have a dear ear. He softens our hearts when they grow hard.  He pours out His love when our well is dry. In His kindness, His mercy, His grace ~ He makes us grateful. Grateful for one another. Grateful for our marriage. Grateful for our family. Grateful for our lives. Grateful for Him as our Shepherd Savior and Friend.

Our marriage is a gift and I am grateful to God for Adam. I am grateful he was born thirty-nine years ago… I am grateful he is not a dinosaur. I wouldn’t marry a dinosaur. I am grateful he is my amazing husband, Mr. Pastor Pants 😉

Overflowing with thankfulness for this Birthday Boy today… Thanks for reading and sharing in our story! In Him, Leslie

just George…

a few weeks ago, my sweet grandpa passed away… he was 85 years old.

I traveled to oklahoma to celebrate his life with my family.
a friend of mine who is a flight attendant gave me a pass to fly on Southwest – for free. score. {seriously, such a blessing!}
i knew my grandpa’s health was declining and that his time was coming for a few months. so we drove to oklahoma over thanksgiving and christmas to spend time with my family and grandparents. we were crazy enough to travel those 4,000 miles mostly because we knew it was important to see my grandpa. the night before he died, i sensed it was going to be soon. i am grateful that the Lord prepared my heart for his death and made a way for my journey to honor my grandpa’s life and say good-bye. and though i miss him greatly, i have peace knowing he is with Jesus now… {for we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens~2 Corinthians 5:1}

my grandpa was very well known in the community where i grew up ~ edmond, oklahoma. with a doctorate in education from oklahoma state university (osu)… cowboy fans, anyone?… he served as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent of schools all over oklahoma for a total of 39 years, the last 15 years of his career as superintendent for edmond public schools. he received many honors and accolades during his career, including induction into the osu college of education hall of fame. as i was growing up, every time we were out with my grandparents, they would inevitably run into someone they knew.
but rather than being called Dr. Rowley, he always prefered just George…

and to me, he was always just Grandpa…

rather than talking about himself or boasting about his distinguished career, my grandpa was a kind hearted, humble man who loved serving his family and others.
most of all, he loved his ‘doll’, my grandma ~ alice fern doll. he always put her first, even until the end. pushing the button for the elevator and waiting patiently behind his walker for her to enter the elevator first.
they met at age five, were high school sweet hearts and were married for 66 years. they were best friends, deeply in love, complete with their license plate: ‘HAD2BU’.

my grandparents in their silly ‘shot gun wedding’ picture 🙂

my grandpa was a generous man. he gave love effortlessly, with hugs, kisses, words of affirmation and genuine care about my life. how is school going? how are you doing with your homework? when is your next vocal music concert? how are your friendships?

he was my first valentine. i dated very little in high school and i never had a boyfriend on valentines day. but every february 14th, i got a chocolate heart from my grandpa ~ even my first valentines day with adam in 1996 ~ i still got a heart from grandpa.

he was a hard worker even beyond his career. when we were kids, my grandparents owned an 84 acre farm with cattle and a few horses. my brother and i loved going to the farm, being outdoors, riding the horses, fishing, searching for snakes and other critters 😉 so many memories built on the farm soil…wrapped up in the hay…which we will always cherish with our grandparents and entire rowley family.

he loved to explore the world…and take his grand kids with him. full of vision and an adventurous spirit, my grandparents loved to travel. they were always wise with their money and were able to travel extensively throughout the united states and abroad. sometimes, they took my brother and i with them. one of our favorite trips was to san fransisco when we were eleven and thirteen years old. yes. our grandparents were brave enough to take two teenagers on a trip from oklahoma to san fran. wow! and we had an amazing time. our grandparents rock. 
after retirement, our grandparents rented a condo for several summers in gunnison, colorado to escape the oklahoma heat. here we are together outside of the condo.
he was an educator in every area of life. he was an example of giving, saving and using money wisely. grandpa always paid for dinner…and he gave me a tip card to carry in my own wallet, so i would always know the right amount to give a server. my grandparents would pay me to do chores around their house, like mowing the lawn, removing stains on their carpet with a q-tip and vinegar cleaning solution… and vacuuming their shoe boxes. i was paid the ‘grandkid’ rate of $20 an hour to do these simple chores. they loved having me over to visit and the money was just an added bonus. on my sixteenth birthday, my grandparents let me drive their truck -my first time truly driving- to our family dinner. i was so nervous, but they trusted me, and i succeeded. my grandma was also an educator and completed her masters degree while raising four kids. she taught as an elementary music teacher and taught me piano. one of my grandpa’s favorite songs was ‘the rose’. growing up, i would sit by grandpa on grandma’s piano bench and sing it for the family. and i was honored to recently sing it for his funeral. aaaand… at every family gathering, my dad and his two brothers would play guitar, serenading the rest of us in song and laughter…. the gift of music truly runs in our family. 
starting young, singing on grandma’s piano bench
singing ‘the rose’
my parents and grandparents at one of my high school vocal music concerts. they never missed a performance 🙂

he had a heart full of love. more than anything, my grandpa loved his family. i am blessed with having such amazing grandparents and cherish the memories of us sitting around their dining room table, laughing and sharing life together. the joy our family had grew even more when i met adam, and the rowley and babcock families intertwined.

i go from being a rowley to a babcock ~ here we are with my family and Adam’s not long after our engagement. my grandpa’s big toothy smile ~ it’s a ‘rowley’ trait which i inherited as “horse teeth” 🙂 

over the holidays, when we saw my grandpa i took time to hold his hand and just sit with him. we didn’t say much… few words were exchanged except, “i love you, i miss you”… and we continued holding hands as the hustle and bustle of 50 family members gather for a thanksgiving feast surrounded us. during our christmas visit, my brother and i took a walk down the hallways of their building with them, and then took a picture together…i treasure this last picture we have.

my grandpa was a wonderful man. i am so grateful for these 35 years i have had the privilege of being one of his beloved granddaughters. his amazing life has shaped my life and for this i am so blessed. you can read more about his life and all his accolades here.

take time with the ones you love.
slow down.
be still.
sit with someone.
hold hands.
whisper i love you.
we are not promised tomorrow…
love. well. now. 

my grandma ~ keep her in prayer ~ she really misses her best friend.
my grandma said it would have been better if grandpa had been a horses butt. joking, of course.. but the pain of missing him wouldn’t be so great, if he had not been so lovable. but he was…
he was joy filled.
he was kind hearted.
he was generous.
he was wise.
he was easy to love.
to so many he was known as just George… but to me…. just Grandpa