O Taste and See that the Lord is good {dispelling depression during the holidays}

Those moments come… and you hope they go. You hope they flee more quickly than they settled over your head, your heart, your soul. The darkness creeps in again and you find yourself lost inside your own thoughts… and numb. When in a season, meant to be \\Full\\ of \\Thanks\\ you find yourself struggling to be Thankful… You know it is not the TRUTH. You know the TRUTH will set you FREE but the lies have a hold and the desire to BE set FREE seems too far out of reach so you turn numb.

When His whisper sweeps over you softly and says ~ Speak up. Speak out. Speak Truth. Speak MY Name. The darkness will flee. MY light will overcome it.

Freedom comes, but with a price. What were meant to be Joy-Filled Memories are overshadowed by the lies that settled in. Regret becomes your default reaction. The JOY you have is being assaulted by a familiar enemy. Feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment and sorrow swell until your Truth is distorted, and the pattern repeats.

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This sounds depressing and it is. I have been here before. Depression had come to my door, let itself in, and settled down for a visit. At my table. In my heart. More times than I would like to admit. No one wants to be depressed during the season of Thanks, but there are some who are. There are some, like me. We know Truth. We know who He is. We know what we carry, and we fight. We fight for freedom. And we win, but not without a battle. Not without a cry. Not without a cost. Not without a sacrifice.

The way I see it the lies we believe are tailored to who (we know) we are. They are fiery darts, custom made to attack our very core and distort the Truth of our identity… You’re not good enough… You’ll never have enough time… You’ll never feel healthy again… Here you go again – feeling down for no real reason… What do you have to be depressed about anyway?

I see the faces set before me, the JOY set before me. My family, my friends, my Savior. Countless reasons to GIVE THANKS, Yet for a time it will not shake. But I will not be silent. When I speak HIS name, darkness flees. Freedom Comes. Truth remains. Forgiveness settles in.

The greatest threat to depression is a VOICE. When you speak out, it is no longer hidden. The light overwhelms the darkness. Peace overwhelms my soul. Our greatest weapon (to protect our souls) is our WORSHIP.  When I worship. When I sing. Psalm 30:11-12 “…You have turned my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

Joy has come and dispelled the depression once again. I have tasted and seen the Lords goodness. I have tasted and seen His love, His freedom, His peace, His forgiveness. I am grateful I can indulge in who He is this season. His love is better than any Thanksgiving Feast. Even better than the green bean casserole and apple crisp 🙂

Have you struggled with depression? Does it seem to settle in at your table during the Holidays? You are not alone and I would love to hear from you! Please share and know YOU ARE LOVED! In Him, Leslie

I {Heart} Sleep….. but now I have a “REAL JOB”.

A few months ago, this fabulous article was posted.

I need one of these desks.

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This year I began working outside the home and church again. I’m teaching Elementary Art and working as a Teachers Aide. I now have a “real” job… Besides being a Mom and a Worship Leader and Pastor…..

My school job is taking up a lot of time. I’m exhausted when we come home. After helping the kids with their homework, talking thru their days, cooking dinner and clean up, all I want to do is sleep. And I need rest. Or I’m cranky. When I am awake past 8pm, I long to use this time to be creative, but instead we are in a season of house hunting. This is practically another part-time job in itself. And it steals away from any extra moments we might have for creativity… We were created by a creative God. Created from the breath of God. We were designed to be creative. And we were designed for rest. We need time for both. I’m reminding myself. We need time for both. It is essential to make space for both.

In this season of house hunting, new school year and new job responsibilities, creating has taken a back seat most days to sleep. Because we’re so tired. I love sleep, so this isn’t a huge problem… except that it is a huge problem. I can rarely stay up late anymore! It’s like a part of me has died. The creative part of me… which comes alive at 2am. With this piece of me so dormant now, I have grown frustrated. Occasionally, I take a nap from 8pm-12am and then stay up until 3am creating. I come alive again. This is probably sounding super dramatic. But I am a dramatic person. I was created this way. If I am not creating, I am empty. When a creative person does not have moments to create, they might as well be sleeping all day long…

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*The following was one of my first posts after I began this blog nearly 4 years ago. Enjoy!

I can fall asleep anywhere, in nearly any position, and under almost any condition.
I can drink espresso in the evening, and fall asleep with in minutes of the last gulp.
I can fall asleep in the middle of a conversation.
I can fall asleep while reading out loud to my children.
I have fallen asleep in school.
I have fallen asleep on the job.
Against a wall. At my desk. In the car. On a subway.
Almost Anywhere.
At times, I would watch our cat sleep and long for that ability to curl up at anytime, anywhere and nap.

You get the picture.
I need a lot of sleep, or I’m cranky.
It has been nearly 8 years since I’ve “slept in”. I am a mom.
I have responsibilities. I can’t sleep whenever I want to.
But I used to.
When I was in college, I was employed at the University in the HR department doing grunt work – filing, stuffing envelopes, data entry, etc…
This was not a glamorous job, but it paid the bills.
I would faithfully do my job, but still had idle time to fill.
I worked in a small dark room, with no windows, one table, one chair, minimal supplies and a phone.
So, I wrote letters to my best friend (then fiancé) Adam, and slept.
Yep, a few times I curled up under the table and slept.
Occasionally, my supervisor would come in to the room to hand me more tasks, check on my progress, or my finished work.
Though I only napped a few times while working,
Adam asked me if I ever worried about my supervisor walking in on me sleeping?
For some reason I never did.
But then again, it’s possible she saw me sleeping and never said anything.
I probably looked too peaceful to wake.
I inherited this gift of “falling asleep anywhere, anytime, anyplace” from my parents & have passed it onto my daughter, Soleil.

I also inherited a good work ethic from my parents.
Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I can fall asleep on the job. I can take naps.
Sometimes we all have a chance to nap – even Adam.

Even though I nap, I am still a hard working mom. Naps do not affect my work ethic. If I am up late procrastinating, or woken up in the night by one of the wee Bab’s, I hope the next day for a nap.
I {heart} napping.

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Feel free to share and join us by following halfwrittenrecords! In Him, Leslie

Pastor Appreciation Month >>> O C T O B E R

Did you know October is ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’? Well. It is. And. Now you know. So, along with halloween and fall leaves turning colors, among other important things, October is a time to celebrate your local Pastor. However, the truth is – You might not care to know this information unless:

  1. You are a Pastor
  2. You like Pastors
  3. You like church

If you find yourself falling into one of the above 3 categories, please. Read On. Otherwise, this post means nothing to you.

We are Pastors. So we happen to be in-the-know that ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’ exists. We also met and started dating while working together in a Christian book store, when we were babies. Every October we sold thoughtful cards and fine gifts for church members to shower upon their Pastors, with love and care.

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Here we are (as babies) selling Jesus Junk to all of our Christian customers 🙂

Every October ‘Pastor Appreciation’ appears on the calendar, and we are reminded it’s our month to be appreciated! It can be an awkward month for us, as Pastors. What if we are not being appreciated this month? Do we remind our congregation? Don’t forget – set your clocks – this is the month we need to be appreciated! It’s a lot of pressure.

To be honest, it can be a weird month for Pastors, because:

  1. Pastors and church people are weird
  2. Pastors and church people are sensitive
  3. Pastors are uncomfortable with drawing attention to themselves….. although yes. there are some exceptions to this rule. But, really it’s like our job to draw attention to Jesus.

So Pastors have few options in October:

  1. Slip hints slyly to “remind” their congregation they need appreciating
  2. Pretend they don’t care and it won’t hurt their feelings if Pastor Appreciation month is forgotten altogether
  3. Avoid all eye contact with the congregation for the entire month

Pastors can develop anxiety from ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’. I’ve seen it happen. Well. not really, but still it might happen and we just don’t know about it. So for us, we don’t mention Pastor Appreciation Month. It feels strange to say “Hey. Hey you guys. Hey all you peeps who go to our church. Yeah. You. It’s time to appreciate us….. Or else.”

Or else what? I don’t know. It just sounds demanding.

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But we are not demanding people….. or Pastors. Of course, we appreciate being appreciated. But to devote a whole month to the cause…..? hmmm, whose idea was this, anyway? Probably a Pastors idea.

The truth is – October can be a stressful time for churches trying to show sincere appreciation for their Pastors. Seriously. There is an entire list of suggestions on how to appreciate your Pastor. I am thankful our church was not hysterically stressing out and having a panic attack to show us appreciation and love this month. At least I don’t think they were stressed… hmmm?

We were SO LOVED last Sunday by our beautiful congregation. We were overwhelmed by the appreciation they showered on us ~ Words of love and encouragement. An amazing slide show of pictures and memories captured in the past year, set to beautiful Worship. A coupon book ~ because they know we LOVE using coupons! Money for an overnight get-away and gift cards to our favorite coffee shop ~ Longbottom Coffee!!! All we could say was WOW. Seriously Wow. We were blown away by the love and appreciation they lavished upon us.

To our congregation:

  1. Thank you for loving us and showing your appreciation this month and year round.
  2. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
  3. Thank you for knowing US and for being YOU!!!

So – boys and girls – make sure to appreciate your Pastors this month so they won’t be depressed (and next month, and the next)! And don’t stress yourself out over finding the perfect gift! That’s not helpful to anyone. But act fast >>> Today is the last Sunday in October, to appreciate your Pastor. And Hope Vineyard Church ~ thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you, and we know we are loved and appreciated this month and beyond!!!

To conclude this lovely post I wanted to share a blessing our church prayed over us for our Pastor Appreciation last Sunday ~

A blessing of what God is already doing in and through you as pastors of Hope Vineyard:
May you be blessed to be adventurous in spirit, and submitted to God’s voice.
May you be blessed to hold a grievous heart for the lost and broken, and faithfully preach God’s Truth.
May you be blessed to desire and accept collaboration and the voice of those trusted, but never sit aside your God-given authority to lead.
May you be blessed to desire God’s excellence, and not afraid to promote other’s ideas, leadership, and dreams.
May you be blessed to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind; serve His church all the days of your life; and love, serve, and care-taking your family well.

Thank you for reading… and sharing… and appreciating Pastors! In Him, Leslie

The Gift within The Grief {The grief of losing a child and the gift of a receiving a church}

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On October 22nd, 2008 we lost our lives. We lost our lives as they had been... As we had planned them… As we had hoped for them to be… 7 years ago, our world turned upside down and we walked down a path we never anticipated. We said yes to things we would never have chosen. And we said goodbye to dreams we never wanted to let go of. Sometimes when you can tell the story, the full healing comes.

7 years ago we lost a child. 7 years ago we gained a church.

In 2008 we were on staff at a beautiful church in Ohio, in a suburb outside of Columbus. We had been on staff since 2005, and for many reasons finances were tight and we were being let go. We were pregnant with our third child.

Our dreams were coming true in a way we did not anticipate. We had hoped to eventually church plant in the Northwest. We were at complete peace and rest to leave Ohio and go… somewhere… heading in the direction of the Northwest. We weren’t sure exactly where, and we pursued the possibility of other church jobs in the Ohio area as well. Prepared to leave, we shared with our church the Trust we knew was holding us, and the Confidence we had in Christ caring for us thru all time. We prepared to say goodbye.

On the evening of October 22nd, I began experiencing cramping and bleeding. A friend came over and took communion with me, and prayed with me. I spoke with another friend on the phone as she talked me thru the very painful process of losing our child.

A few days prior, we had been to the Dr and she said there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I didn’t believe the news. We were praying for healing and revival of the baby and over my body. I was praying it would not happen, but I was having a miscarriage.

The same evening, we received a call from our Pastor and he wanted to meet with Adam. Although we were in the middle of a terrible loss, I told him to go. I sensed very strongly he was to go. The timing was awful. Our life circumstances were in turmoil. We had no job and we were losing our baby. Our Pastor had no idea what we were experiencing in those moments. But I knew. I knew God would be my strength thru the loss. I knew the Holy Spirit would be my comforter. And I knew Adam should go and meet with our Pastor.

It is not by chance we experienced a great loss and a great gain on the same day.

That evening our Pastor offered the gift of our church. He and his wife made the decision to step down and he was recommending Adam and I to now lead the church. We were prepared to leave, and grieve our church and our child. But that evening we said Yes and accepted a gift we never expected.

We spent the next 6 years Pastoring our beautiful church in Ohio. It was a grand adventure. In this season I heard the Lord speak many words. One was “You will have another baby … I will bless you with twins.” My heart soared with great hope when He spoke those words. December 31, 2009 ~ we had a Selah. 

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We never had twins, so doubt has stirred in my heart and mind about half of the word my Father spoke to me… but I know the doubt is not from Him. There is grief surrounding the desire for more children. There will always be a loss or someone missing in our family. But we Trust. The past 7 years have been a journey of unexpected joy and sorrow. We don’t know what the future holds, but we trust there will be a season of more to come…..

Thank you for reading and sharing. In Him, Leslie

*October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. If you have grieved your own loss or stood with someone who has, you understand the pain. 

We need self-control even MORE than gun control {and no offense, Mr President, our Prayers ARE Enough}

For the moments when this world seems upside down…

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...

I have no experience with guns. I have never owned, used or even held a gun. I know very little about ‘gun control’… however I DO know those two words evoke a range of emotions from a range of people. This is not a debate on the pros and cons of gun control but rather a call for self-control.

I have a quick temper. I have wounded many people with my anger in the course of my 38 years, navigating thru this life. I, along with every other human, need self-control. I have clenched my jaw in frustration, raised my fists to bang on doors, cracked a car windshield with my feet, thrown my shoes at the walls, and slung my words in rage. I, along with every other human being on this earth, need Jesus.

We are all vulnerable and fragile people, in need of a Savior. We are crying out for salvation and yet… in the same moment, we are blind to recognize and acknowledge the gaping soul wounds we carry, which only He can mend. The reality of worlds brokenness is glaring at us. We do not have to look far to see the hopelessness and desperation our world operates in. We are scrambling to ‘get it together’… We are scrambling, grasping for control.

The tragedies we are facing daily in our nation are not rooted in gun control, but rather self-control. And with all due respect to President Obama, our PRAYERS ARE ENOUGH

Self control is rarely exalted. But losing control is. Let’s change this! Do we want to see things change? Or do we want to continue bemoaning the same issues with the focus constantly on ourselves? Adults — We need to get over ourselves! The world is not going to change with lawmakers and political discussions, throwing fits about who is right and wrong. The world is going to change with our KIDS. We need to PRAY over our kids!

I have the privilege of working with 200 elementary students, teaching Art and watching over them when they are at recess, in their classrooms and in the cafeteria. Part of my job is having eyes to see when issues arise with the kids, and address those issues before they grow into bigger issues. I support the teachers and help teach the students navigate their own self-control. I help them recognize the responsibility they have for their own choices, actions and emotions as they go thru their days, as they study and work in class, listen to their teachers, eat their lunches and play during recess. Kids have a lot to sort thru as they go about their days. They experience stress as much as adults do. Never cease in PRAYING for our kids. 

My heart along with many others breaks for the senseless tragedy at Umpqua Community College this week. We must honestly ask ourselves – Are we numb? Do we believe our prayers are enough? This is not just another mass shooting. We honor the 9 lives lost too soon. This is another moment in our lifetime to grieve, mourn and cry out on behalf of our nation, our world. To cry out and pray against future mass shootings. To pray for those contemplating using violence in any form to hurt the innocent. To pray for the souls of those who lack self-control and whose actions impact our nation with senseless shootings. To pray, pray, pray and PRAY some more. How are we responding?

If we merely see the surface of this and so many tragedies, we will only see the cracks caused by brokenness. But if you look further… you will see beyond the hopelessness and desperation. You will see beyond the rage of a gunman and see God working thru this tragedy. You will see people rise up in prayer and surrender to Jesus. You will see we have a choice. We can operate from a place of peace and self-control.

Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of he Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” We are human, we are people born into sin, and we need to learn self-control. We need to PRAY for the fruits of the Spirit to invade our individual lives, and our world. We cry out for YOU, King Jesus, our Savior who is King of all the earth and King of self-control. Show us what it means to operate in the Fruits of Your Spirit, rather than our human sinful nature and terrible tendencies.

If you are a follower of Christ, this is not a time in our nations history to continue the ongoing political debates about gun control and what suit looks best on President Obama. This is a time to pour into prayer for change. To lift our voices for the next generation… for them to walk and RUN thru this earth, bearing every fruit of the Spirit!

It is time for more prayer and self-control. Thank you for reading, sharing and responding!

In Him, Leslie