Honoring our next President of the United States of America

Tuesday, November 8th 2016 will likely definitely go down as a day for the history books and websites to record and remember. In a Presidential race where one catch phrase has been “Giant Meteor 2016 – Just end it already”, many are feeling as though they are ‘choosing between the lesser of two evils’ when they vote. While others are declaring they will move to Canada if their candidate does not win, or wishing President Obama could win again and remain our President for infinity and beyond… America has been divided, united, and twisted.

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The pressure to post and respond to every political opinion on social media about your candidate of choice is fierce. Facebook friendships are faltering, families are divided, co-workers are confused… But hold onto the reigns of your tongue and typewriter… somebody is going to become our President Elect tomorrow, regardless of our social media opinions and outlets… regardless of this blog… And I can respect you even if you have a differing opinion from me.

You guys. Here’s a crazy thought… What if both Trump AND Clinton became President(S) … and had to share the responsibility and work in the oval office TOGETHER!!! What if the Democrats and Republicans had to work together in civility and UNITY?!! That would be INSANE!!! I know our democracy isn’t set up this way, but WHAT IF?!! #dreams #whatif #Godisstillincontrol

News Flash >>> yes, only ONE is going to win this election. The debacles debates are over, journalism has successfully exposed every truth and lie both candidates have ever told, every thought they’ve ever had, email they’ve ever written, tweet they’ve ever tweeted, outfit they’ve ever worn and every way they’ve combed their hair… and has any of this really important vital information helped any of us? Are we now more honestly educated and informed? Is either candidate or political party truly trustworthy?

((( … crickets … )))

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Even if we see choosing between the two lovely candidates we have as subpar choices, and we know two wrongs don’t make a right, we still need to vote. And respect one another.

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It is funny, yet so serious, as Liam Neeson’s characters always are. I am on the edge of my seat anticipating to see who our next President elect will be. This is not a blog to sway votes or predict what will happen tomorrow. Other than casting my vote and praying, and then praying more, much of the election outcome is out of my personal control. And it’s out of your control too. This is a humbling fact.

Regardless of who becomes the next President of the United States of America, I will choose to honor him… or her. As a follower of Christ I trust in a higher authority and I can honor all earthly authority. 

I can do this because the Truth I know is this: God is in control and ultimately holds all governmental authority. Recently, the Lord prompted me to read in the book of Daniel. As I was reading, I began weeping. I have not read my Bible and wept over the Words of Life in a very long time. I was overcome and the Holy Spirit spoke… “You can honor the next President, even if you disagree with him… or her, just as Daniel honored King Nebuchadnezzar.” It is an honor, a privilege, to vote and we can honor, respecting those in authority, even if we may disagree with them.

From approximately 605 BC – 562 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Babylon and was considered the greatest King of the Babylonian empire. Daniel was one of several young men selected to serve in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Daniel did not choose to be a servant in King Neb’s court, however he remained pure and continued to worship God during his time of training.

Daniel and three of his friends also chosen, were renamed, given Babylonian names while in the Kings court. Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego. They did not choose these names, but they answered to them. They were told to eat the Kings food, worship his idols, interpret his dreams and were eventually thrown into the blazing furnace for refusing to worship Neb’s golden statue.

Daniel was determined to not defile himself. He honored the Lord with his worship and he honored his earthly king. He walked in humility and was full of Godly wisdom. He gained great favor in the eyes of King Neb, and was promoted to the royal service. Daniel successfully interpreted the Kings dreams, and was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon. Thru many dreams and trials and after much distress and anger, King Nebuchadnezzar was humiliated and humbled, driven from human society. After time passed, he turned his heart toward God, and gave honor and praise to the King of heaven. Eventually, his sanity returned and his kingdom was restored to him.

Daniel and his friends served the King under great oppression and challenge to their personal worship of Yahweh God. There are many truths we can learn from Daniel and his friends during their service in the courts of King Nebuchadnezzar.

  • We can honor both the Lord and His authority first, and earthly authority. (Daniel 1:8-9)
  • We can put our trust and hope in a King who rules the nations. (Daniel 2:21-23)
  • We can live with courage and without fear. (Daniel 3:17-18)
  • We can earn favor in the eyes of earthly authority and God will promote us. (Daniel 2:48-49)
  • With His favor, we can influence earthly authority for the Kingdom of God. (Daniel 4:37)
  • We can walk in humility and grace, under authority we may disagree with. (Daniel 4:19)
  • We can boldly declare Who God is under extreme persecution as Daniels friends did in Daniel 3:17-18 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

On Wednesday, November 9th, after America has chosen our President, Jesus will still be on throne and King of all the earth. And the Holy Spirit will give comfort and peace to all humanity. Just like Daniel, God calls me to honor those in authority. Even those I may deeply disagree with. I will honor those in authority, but I will first honor the Lord and trust He will do what He says He will do in Daniel 2:21-23.

“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he is surrounded by light.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

We can trust and we live in peace. We can be still and know that He is God and He is good. For we know as Psalm 22:28 says, “The Kingdom is the Lords and He rules over the nations.” God will be exalted among the nations. God will be exalted in the earth. Amen.

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts. Our story continues… In Him, LRB

 

 

 

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The Ghost of Christmas Past

It happened. AGAIN. The Ghost of Christmas Past came back to haunt me. AGAIN. Stress… turned into Sickness… turned into Frustration… turned into Anger… turned into Despair. They were all present, wrapped up in the middle of my living room on Christmas day… Uninvited, by the way. But they were settled in my heart, locked in to my thoughts and exposed in my actions. Sure. I told myself — (hashtag) ###ChooseJOY. Yea, right. It doesn’t work like that. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and #Joy was nowhere to be found… or chosen. I was so pissed. Another holiday ruined. The Ghost of Christmas past haunting me again. I could not #wish for my holidays to be merry and bright, more than I could hope for santas’ fat ass to come down our chimney. I try and ###ChooseJOY every year. And every year seems like something f*cks it all up. Sorry. Not sorry. These were my real. raw. transparent. truthful feelings. #Exposed.

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Thankfully, Christmas morning was lovely. Coffee and waffles, warmth and cuddles. Although I blew my nose most of the way thru the kids opening their gifts, it was wonderful. I took a few pictures, capturing moments of #happiness. We skyped with family far away, blowing kisses at the screen and sharing digital hugs. As we cleaned up from ‘Christmas’, and the mountains of kleenex I had made, the walls began to close in again and I had a feeling the Ghost of Christmas past might make a visit. #Seriously, can I make it thru one Christmas without some kind of a meltdown?! Yet that is exactly what I needed. An honest with God, good old fashion meltdown. The Ghost of Christmas past drove me to my knees and to prayer. I was at my own end and in the most vulnerable place I could be. #blessed. That last hashtag was #sarcasm. sorry, couldn’t help myself. #Truth.

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#Seriously. Enough with the hashtags. On with the story. After dinner, I unraveled. I went into my room… and bawled like a baby. I wept thru my emotions and laid my feelings out before Him. God spoke gently to my soul. There was no guilt or shame for my ridiculous actions. No ‘I-told-you-so’, ‘get over yo-sorry-self’ or judgement of my reasons for unravelling. He is a good good Father, full of kindness, mercy and patience for His daughter.

He whispered one word. Grace. 

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In a moment with tears spilled out, with honesty of heart, with one word, He spoke Grace over me. Grace over my feelings, Grace over my thoughts, Grace over my actions. Grace over my family. Grace over our Christmas.

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The Ghost was gone because Grace took its place. Our Christmas was redeemed. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and a renewing hike the next day. We can honestly say we had a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Gifts are being enjoyed, memories are being treasured, and the kids are loving fighting over their new bean bag chairs.

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Before the brawl broke out…

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Selah enjoying popping bubbles, mostly

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thanks for reading friends 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who has been visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. So fess up and feel free to share your stories. If you need Grace, there is an overflow awaiting you… God is always giving His gifts, even after the holidays 🙂 The end, for now… I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

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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

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…

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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