I got some good news!

The Gospel of Love

I want to bring you good news – that is literally what the word gospel means in the Greek language. I’m sure many of heard some form of the gospel, or maybe you never have. I want to share with you that if you heard a version of the gospel that did not sound GOOD, it wasn’t the gospel.

You know that feeling when you’ve had a bad day, or felt neglected, or mistreated where you just want a deep, meaningful hug from someone that truly loves you and SEES you? Father God SEES you. He sees the deepest, darkest parts of you – everything you’ve ever done in public or private – he sees you for who you really are – not how people see you. You wanna know something? He loves you just as you are.  He wants his sons and daughters back.  He wants to show you this love, wrap you up in it, nurture you like babies nursing from their mother.

Love in our world today is scary, abusive, hurtful, distant, lonely.  This is not perfect love.  The Bible tells us that GOD IS LOVE.  The love of the Father surpasses ALL human knowledge.  This love is deep, it’s wide, it’s vast, it knows no limits. The brain cannot fathom or make sense of it.  This love is deeper than the love from your mother and father, deeper than your love for you child, deeper than anything that you can even think to compare it to. God’s love is scandalous.  God sent his son Jesus in human form as a sacrifice to restore the relationship of mankind back to his heart. Jesus, when he died on the cross, for you and for me, he said IT IS FINISHED. He paid the ultimate penalty for any bad thing we have ever done or ever will do. We have been completely forgiven, but not only have we been forgiven – the slate is completely wiped clean. He does not see your sin anymore. He sees YOU. He wants YOU. He loves YOU. He wants to restore relationship with YOU, so that you can know and receive his boundless love.

The only way that we can know and feel this perfect love is through the Holy Spirit.  When we say Father, I want relationship with You! I want to know You, to know LOVE. He will fill you with His Spirit, and only then can you experience such a wrap you up in a big hug, hold you tight, comforting, warming, REAL love.

So often, we think of God as this judgmental, scary, strong God that we can’t be vulnerable with for fear that He is scolding us.  Let me share a very familiar verse with you:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (persists, continues). Love never fails.

This verse is so commonly used to describe what should be human love, but we see in the Bible that GOD IS LOVE, and if GOD IS LOVE then God is all the aforementioned traits. He is patient with us, he is kind to us, he is not easily angered, he keeps no records of wrongs. He will always persevere after us. He will never ever fail us.

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I pray right now, Father, that you will make your love present in the room of each person who is reading this right now. I ask that you fill the room with a tangible cloud of love, and that each person will open their heart to receive it, allowing it to wash over each broken, hidden part of their heart. Father, help each person reading this to know that you see each one of us. That they are your focus. That you want their heart, not to scold it, but to wash it in the deepest, widest, highest love. Amen.

 

Turning “I have to” into “I get to!”

Philippians 4:12-13

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

Being forever dissatisfied robs us of true joy. It’s so interesting to me how I am constantly wanting, wishing, comparing. I want that car, I want those shoes, I wish I had more money, I wish I could live as “easy” as that person, why does she get to have so much, and I’m over here with all these monthly payments? These are thoughts that seem to be so constant. Why is it that I constantly compare myself with other people’s success, lives, stuff??

What’s even more irrational is that even if I get the stuff I used to wish for – there’s always more to want, different people to compare myself to.

This month I decided to do a thankful jar. Each day each member of the family writes what we are thankful for and places it in the jar – this has made me realize how much I really do have right in front of me. We will be reading what everyone is thankful for tomorrow evening, and I can’t wait to see what everyone said.

“Getting after grateful,” as Lara Casey puts it in her book Cultivate (highly recommend) challenged me to turn my “I have to’s” into “I get to’s.” I want to challenge each of you to make a list of things you have to do as well.

–          I have to take the kids to school every morning.

–          I have to clean the house.

–          I have to cook dinner every night.

Instead of saying I have to do these things, Lara Casey challenged to rewrite the list:

–          I get to take the kids to school every morning. I get to spend time talking to them for a few     minutes before they start their day. I get to encourage them. I get to help make their day start off on the right foot.

–          I get to clean the house.  I have a house to clean!! I get to make it look clean and tidy to be a safe, refreshing place for my kids when they get home.

–          I get to cook dinner every night for my family. I get to fill their belly’s, and nourish their bodies to help them grow. I get to sit down at the table and enjoy conversation with them while we eat.

This helped me see just the simple, everyday things in a new perspective. It helped me realize how much I have right in front of my face to be grateful for.

What are you looking at like an “I have to,” instead of an “I get to?” You don’t have to share, but I challenge you to take a good look at all aspects of your life and turn your burdens into blessings.

Learning to be content has been a mind-altering shift for me. I’m sure this is going to be a lifelong challenge, but learning to look at what I have, what I’m responsible for, what I get to do has brought me so much contentment and joy.

This altering shift, has also led me to realize how much excess I have. With the help of Emily Ley and her book Grace not Perfection (also highly recommend) – I went through my closet 3x now (still going back for another sweep), and getting rid of my excess, creating margin for things that matter – decluttering. I am on my third box of clothes, shoes, STUFF, that tomorrow I am going to take to the homeless shelter and give away. How many shirts and jeans do we really need????

How much stuff do we keep saying “Oh, I’m sure I’ll wear that again – sometime!”  I don’t know about you, but I have shirts and jeans that I’ve had for years. Even jeans that don’t fit, saying I’m sure I’ll fit into those again one day. Knowing good and well that if I do get back down to that size I’m sure I’ll go purchase a new pair in celebration! I decided that I have too much stuff. I want to bless someone who CAN fit into those jeans, or would love to wear that shirt that I can’t decide if I like anymore or not.

Another challenge I have for you, since I just love to share my “AHA!” moments, and want everyone to be right there with me (😉) is – go through your stuff, get rid of what you don’t need. Throw junk out, declutter, and watch how your attitude shifts. Give away stuff that is in a condition to give away, and throw out the stuff that is just taking up space. Let’s learn to be content together! (:

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

 

 

Being Intentional with Your Time

So, I’m reading this book – which I highly recommend – called Make It Happen: Surrender your fear, take the leap, live on purpose by Lara Casey.  This book is interactive, meaning Lara Casey has you DO something in each chapter. I love this!

Being intentional with your time sometimes seems like a feat, but if you set aside time each day that you have planned for, then you will be more likely to do the thing to begin living your life on purpose.

The chapter I just finished this morning had me write down 3 action steps to take to create the life I desire. This can be as small or as big of a change as you’d like, but I encourage you to do the same. I want to share this with you, in hopes that this encourages you too to start living intentionally.

My 3 actions steps I wrote down are:

  1. Spend 1 hour at least 3 days a week completely focused time playing with my kids – no phone, no distractions, just quality time with my two boys.
  2. Read 30 min/day
  3. Take a walk 3 days/week

As you see, these are very simple action steps, but they are refreshing, intentional time to soak in life. Some more ideas could be: exchange a healthy food for an unhealthy food once each day, or exercise x amount of times each week, spend 10 minutes each day in silence doing deep breathing exercises, or spend 1 hour off your phone or internet each day to enjoy the people, nature around you – anything that will help you refresh. Have these be action steps that are attainable, so that you can be encouraged instead of discouraged.

“How you spend your time, is how you spend your life.”

Skinned Knee and all

Hebrews 10:15-18

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

–          I feel we need to pause and take that in for a second. “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Jesus said I will forget all those dumb things you did when you were younger that are keeping you from living today, I will forget all of the times you hurt people while you climbed the ladder of success, I will forget the time you lied, I will forget the time you betrayed your best friend, I will forget the time you thought those horrible thoughts toward that other person that hurt you. He says they are forgiven, I will remember them no more. And then he proceeds to say, and where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Did you catch that??? We can stop beating ourselves up about those dumb things we did, we can let it all go! BE FREE!!!!!! “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!!!” song comes to mind. You don’t have to perform for anyone anymore!!! You don’t have to sacrifice your life to the time you messed up, you don’t have to live there anymore. He has forgiven and forgotten. You are free to be.

Vs. 19-23

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

–          I wrote the verses after this in my first blog, and I love those so much, but I felt I needed to back up a little bit, let’s take a step back and realize what this means for us. The new covenant, after Jesus shed his blood for us, said that we no longer must make sacrifices for our sin. We no longer must “have it all together” before we come into his presence. We can draw near to God with a sincere heart, knowing that He loves us just as we are. He wants you – mess and all. He has already forgiven you for all those stupid things you did, he has already forgotten. If you draw near to him, he says that he will wash our bodies with pure water, cleansing us from a guilty conscience.

–          Isn’t it true though, that when feel guilty for one of our stupid mistakes, we turn our backs from the ONE who says, I’ve already forgotten about it, I want to wash you with pure water, cleansing you. I know I do. I know that I, personally, fall into the place where I sometimes feel like I should straighten up before I come into his presence. But listen, he says right there that he is the one that you can be assured will cleanse you when you come to him with a sincere heart. He wants us to stop the performing … stop thinking we are even capable of getting ourselves together before we lean on him. He wants us to know and have assurance, that when we come to him with a sincere heart, we can be sure that he is going to wash us clean.

Yall, this took me a while to really understand, took me a while to really accept. It seems crazy right? That someone would be so accepting of us, that would love us that much. He does though, I can promise you that.

Think about how much you love your kid, or if you don’t have kids – pretend as best you can. Think about how when your toddler messes up, makes a bad decision and ends up with a skinned knee – would you want that two-year-old to go clean themselves up before coming to you as their parent? Would you want them to feel they couldn’t tell you what happened, for fear of ramifications? I don’t think so. I think we would pick up that toddler and love them, and make the “boo-boos” better right where they are.

Friend, that’s how God feels about you. That’s how he feels when you mess up. He wants you to come to him right away, not after you go clean your knee up to make it look better. If we love our child, how much more does our Creator love us?

He wants you skinned knee, bruised elbow, broken heart and all.

The Coffee Bean

Good afternoon! I hope you are all having a lovely day! (:

Let’s hop right in –

Picture the coffee bean for a moment.  Let’s pretend you are a coffee bean.

So, the process of the coffee bean is what? It gets roasted, grinded, and then filtered through hot water to become that oh, so delicious, coffee we enjoy so very much – if you don’t like coffee, just pretend with me for a moment.

We know the process of the coffee bean becoming something else because we have perspective, right? We have seen the process, the result. We have seen its potential.

What if we are the coffee bean – what if we focus on just being a bean, we don’t know that there is still much more in the process before the potential is reached. Maybe it’s because you’re still young, and haven’t experienced life yet, maybe it’s because you’re too scared to jump into the next process, but keep reminding yourself – you’re not finished.

So, most of us have ventured out a little bit and caught ourselves in the grinder.  We have had bad things happen to us, we have been wronged, we have done bad things, we have experienced great loss, or we have experienced many little things along the way… where now, we feel like a grounded-up coffee bean.  Sometimes we live here, get stuck here. Sometimes we don’t have perspective. Sometimes we think that, that’s it! That’s all my potential– I started a bean, and now I’m all ground up – never to be used for more. How could a ground-up coffee bean be anything else?

What if I told you, you’re still not finished. There’s still processing to go through. There’s still more!

So, what’s next? The coffee grounds get placed in a filter, and hot water is poured on it, and now we have that strong, delicious smell, and WALAA!!  COFFEE!! Okay, so let’s say you’ve been filtered – you have allowed God to wash over your ground-up mess, and you are now coffee – finished.

But wait. What if you were made to be espresso? A latte? A mocha? An americano?

What if I told you that the process of an espresso bean and a coffee bean is rather similar. What if I told you that you don’t necessarily get to decide which drink you’ll be, but you do get to decide if the process is finished.  If you are done becoming. See, we don’t have perspective. We can’t see the whole picture because we are in it. We are in the grinder. In the filter. In the coffee cup even. Maybe we know that we still have more potential, but are stuck in the process.

Friend, know, believe that God is not finished with you. His perspective is bigger. He sees your potential. Allow Him to take you through the process, so that you can step into your purpose.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

See the potential, see that we are God’s handiwork.  He has created us for a purpose.  He prepared in advance what He would have us to be.

I mentioned this in my last post, but I ask again (I’m asking myself this at the same time) – what is it that you are passionate about? I promise you that those dreams and desires are on purpose. They are your hint to what your purpose is, what you were created for.

I encourage you – and I will too – write down some things that you enjoy. Write down some passions you have. Maybe it’s encouraging others, maybe it’s teaching others, maybe it’s leading, maybe it’s dealing with finances, cutting hair, maybe it’s blessing people through gifts, maybe it’s singing, or music, maybe it’s baking, or cleaning. What is it that you really enjoy?

And so it Begins…

Hebrews 10:22-25 (NIV)

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…

Hi, sweet friend, I am Leanna – a daughter of the King, mother, wife, and nurse.  I have no idea what I am doing, but I feel like God wants to use me to share His love with you.

Have you ever been in a place where you felt like you had no idea what the purpose of your life was?  Have you have ever took a step back, and said wow, how did I get here? Have you felt immovable, paralyzed, like you had all these ideas and dreams, but had no idea how you were going to attain the life that you envisioned when you were a little girl? Insert girl with the raising hand emoji here! I sure have.

I am just coming out of that place, to be honest.  I have felt stuck in a rut over the past few years.  I feel like I am on the brinks of something, but let me tell you about how the mud started to clear.

My older brother, Chris, lives in Georgia, and he and his wife just had their third child.  I had to go meet her, of course, give her some auntie love.  So, I drove down to Georgia, leaving my two boys behind.  I could only stay a couple of nights, so I had to use my time wisely.  Chris and I have a relationship where we don’t talk much, except when we are face to face – then, ya’ll…we can talk! I mean talk until the wee hours of the morning.  We both know that we must spend quality time with the time we have together.

So, Chris and I are talking one night on the back porch, he is telling me about where he is in life – with his job, goals, family, etc. He continues to share how he has come to a point where he wants to make the most of his life.  This is probably a common goal for any of us, but how often do we just sit on the sidelines waiting for the right feeling, or waiting until we are ready, or feel qualified to take charge (I hope I’m not the only one that has been waiting for all of that)?

Chris shares with me how he has learned that he must be intentional with his time.  So, we all have 24 hours in a day, right? We are in charge of how we spend our time.  This sparked something in me.  As he is sharing his goals, and the things he is doing with his time, this made me take a step back.  This made me think about how I have been spending my time.  I have been wishing, hoping, dreaming, and waiting.  I have not taken charge of my time, and creating the life that I assumed was going to magically happen.

My prayer right now, is that this may spark something in you as well.  My prayer is that these words that I’m sitting here typing at my dining room table, covered in craft supplies, books, and papers, that they are connecting with you.  Friend, I want to connect with you.  I know that our lives can become so busy, that we forget about the true connection we desire.

So, I am driving my 7 hour drive home from Georgia, and the thought comes to me.  How could I better spend my time? I am sitting here in the car for 7 hours, just staring at cars and scenery, listening to whatever music is on the radio.  Then! Then I remember the conversation I had with Chris.  Podcasts! So, I’m driving – I don’t recommend looking up podcasts while you are, cause obviously I shouldn’t have been doing that – but nonetheless, I find some different podcasts that interest me.  I decided that I could be listening to something that is actually going to teach me something instead of just wasting 7 hours jamming to the radio.

And so it begins… I start listening to podcasts on leadership, and self-awareness, and the Elevation Church podcast of different Pastors preaching.  I start to realize how much more productive my time is when I am doing something that is teaching me, and helping me with the steps toward the life I desire.

I decided that, like my brother, I would start to be intentional with my time.  I purchased a new book. I decided I wanted to read more, learn more, use the tools that are around us to help us become.  Become what?? I don’t know that just yet (anyone else?), but what I do know is this, we are given this life – just this one.  Take charge! Be intentional.  Intentionally connect with those around you. Intentionally learn something new.  Don’t wait for the moment that you feel motivated, or the moment that you feel ready. I’m not sure that day will every come.  There are always going to be fears or busyness holding you back.

How? Leanna, how do I even begin? Where do I start? Well, we are all different, so my question to you would be – what are you passionate about? What is something that intrigues you? Who is someone that you look up to that you want to learn more about? What is important to you – examples would be: education, your family, your children, politics, connecting with women, loving on children, your faith, photography, art – the options are endless. Start there.  Start with picking up a book, or listening to a podcast on that topic, and see where it takes you.

So, this is my first step.  This is me putting myself out there, taking a plunge – seeing what happens.  Something I am passionate about is loving on broken people – particularly women of all ages and children.  Yes, that’s broad, I know.

I think that it is very important to become self-aware.  I think that this deserves some of our time each day.  Write down some goals, fears, desires you have. Also, take some time to figure out what has brought you to where you are right now.  What life decisions have really impacted you to bring you the place you are right this moment?  What has hurt you in the past, to shape how you react to certain instances in your life right now? Get out a piece of paper and a pen, and just go to town.  Let yourself get into the crevices of your heart, and bring the wounds to the surface so that you can start to heal.

Dealing with the past – the hurts, the feelings of abandonment, insecurity, poor decisions – can really help you become! Allow yourself some time to sit.  To sit and think, to take your memory back to those painful moments.  Allow yourself the courtesy of dealing with those hard things.  Ask God to show you, remind you, of what it is that happened in the past that has shaped you today.  I assure you, friend, if you approach God with a sincere heart, that He is there waiting to heal you from the inside out.

That’s all I have to share for now, but, I want you to know that I would love to hear from you – connect with you, share more of my heart on the topics aforementioned. I am praying for you – each of you that may read the words on this page – I pray that God uses them to spark something inside of you.  That we can be vulnerable together, so that we can jump into the life that God has for us.