Saturday, November 10, 2007

hurt

as I've looked around lately, it seems that there are so many hurting people around me.  I shared with some friends the other day that the last twelve months of my life have by far been the most difficult of my life. after spending some amazing, intimate time with the Lord last fall, it felt like satan came at me with an ak-47 sniper rifle trying to blow me to pieces. he has attacked me personally, my family, my family's health, my friends, our church, and just about anything else you can think of.  it seems like I continually found myself saying, "it can't get any worse than this," and sure enough it did.  I think we all fall victim to (at times) thinking that we're the only ones going through something difficult and that no one else understands.

if we were given a choice of the bad or difficult things that we could go through, I don't think any of us would choose the cards that have been dealt to us... but what would we choose? would we choose divorce? would we choose cancer? would we choose loss? would we choose betrayal? would we choose heartache? how many of those things sound easier than the others?

so, now that we are left with the cards that we have been dealt, and the situations that we are given, we have to remember that God is faithful.  we may never understand why we go through what we do, but we serve a God who is completely and wholly sovereign.  He is who we run to in our time of need, no matter what the concern or circumstance.

psalm 62:8

"trust in him at all times, o people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

it's truth... so why do we have such a hard time doing our part?  we so often ask God to change our circumstances and answer our prayers, but are we pouring our hearts out to Him?  are we seeking His face?  or are we just asking for what we believe is the solution to our problems?

as a staff, we're going through the book of nehemiah.  I don't think it's one that I've ever completely read before now, but it's an incredible book.  in chapter one, nehemiah is dealt a difficult blow when he finds out that the city of Jerusalem and the people who are left there are in terrible trouble.  the walls of the city are collapsing, and there is only a remnant of the Jews left.  at this point, nehemiah wept over the loss of his people.  "when I heard these things, I sat down and wept.  for some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.  then I said..." (he then continues on in a prayer) neh. 1:4-5.

how often do we weep over the circumstances in our lives or in the lives of those around us?  then, after we do that, how often do we mourn, fast, and pray over those needs?  I was so convicted by this passage.  what is our response in times of trouble or difficulty?  we often go to our friends to talk about it, but never seek the Lord on our faces for his wisdom and guidance, for his healing hand, for his restoring touch, or for his peace.  or maybe we ask once and then expect God to take care of things.  the power of prayer is a mighty, powerful tool that we have been given, but which has been under-utilized in our lives.  I pray that we would become a generation of people who pray... who seek God daily for his direction and guidance, and who run to Him in times of trial because He is our refuge.  He is our strength, and He's the only one who can rescue us.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

beauty

I remember hearing matt chandler preach at a college bible study a few years ago about the beauty of the Lord. he reminded us that as we are outside, in the midst of the busyness of life, to see God in the things he created... to see those things as a reflection of his beauty and majesty. this is something that I remember oftentimes when I see something really incredible outside, but it's something that's easy to forget in day-to-day situations. today I had the chance to spend the day in sherman for our staff retreat and I was so amazed by the beauty of what I saw. we got to take 4-wheelers out on the property and drive all over several hundred acres of land. It was one of those freeing moment... I gunned the throttle, wind blowing through my hair, and went as fast as I could. I even caught some air going over a hill... SO much fun!! all that to say, I was amazed at the beauty of the Lord today reflected in the tall grass, the beautiful blue texas sky, the animals we saw, and the peacefulness of the ranch. it was awesome to be able to take a day off and just have fun. it really was incredible and I wish I had pictures to post up here, but my camera took a nosedive to the ground the other day and isn't working right. I'm a city girl, but I love the country... what an amazing escape.

I actually got to spend last weekend in louisiana, which was also an awesome getaway for me. I love my family and it was awesome to spend a weekend with some of them. I got to hang out with my cousin julie in alexandria, her sister (jody) and her family (brad and the 3 kids - jordan, briley, and braden) in ruston, and also got to see my aunt jean and uncle ronnie. we shopped, played, went to the state fair, and just sat and talked. it really doesn't get much better than that. I almost went hunting saturday morning but they left at 5am and I decided I would pass! maybe next time...

I'll leave you with a verse that so describes my day...

“One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.”
Psalm 27:4

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

bored.

I've realized a few things about myself:

-I not only hate waking up in the mornings, I hate going to bed at night. Don't hear me wrong... I love to sleep... I just hate the process of getting ready for bed and actually crawling in bed to fall asleep.
-I have a strange obsession with my birthday. It's pretty much the best day ever.
-I LOVE listening to Christmas music way before it's appropriate to do so.
-I love movies, but there are some critically important ones that I have not seen. These movies include the following: the goonies (what's up with this whole truffle shuffle thing? I've just pretended to know and laughed), legends of the fall (at rob's recommendation), the breakfast club, sixteen candles, the godfather, hoosiers, and several others. let me know when you want to have a movie night.
-Anytime anyone whispers around me, I automatically think that they must be talking about me (do you ever feel like that?)
-I miss college. I miss living with my friends and going to taco bueno in the middle of the night.
-I love to read, but I rarely finish a book. I claim them as my "favorite books," but there's a really good chance I never actually finished it.
-I own a lot of shoes, but flip-flops are my favorite. comfort is key.
-I've never been to a zoo.
-Rollercoasters completely freak me out, but I love them.
-Winter is officially my favorite time of year... I love cold weather (probably because I grew up in florida, which only has one season... hot.)
- I'm currently obsessed with watching tv shows on dvd in all of my spare time (what?!) I just finished season 6 of friends, and I should be done with the rest pretty soon.
-I hate silence. I also like to end sentences or fill in pauses with random words like "so, but, and, well, anyway" when I don't know what to say next.  ** Sean read this and told me that I needed to change this to say that I say "like" more than anyone else.  thanks a lot.

-I'm a loud laugher.
-I can't handle close talkers, and I can't hear low talkers. When I don't understand what someone's saying, I just nod or laugh (this happens all the time).
-I love to travel… if I could just be a bum and travel the world, I would do it in a heartbeat. I want more stamps on my passport.
-I love the beach. enough said.

That’s it for now. I’ll let you know if I think of anything else earth-shattering. I’m going to bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

o ever live for Jesus

"My dear dear boys,

The dear Lord may call me at any time; how sweet it will be to be with Jesus. He has sweetened the tomb so death is robbed of its terror. My heart's desire and prayer for each of you is that you may ever live for Jesus. That your chief aim and desire in every action may be to glorify God. O ever live for Jesus, that He may always use you for His glory, in bringing lost men to the cross, in the extension of His Kingdom. at last may we all be gathered around His throne, an unbroken family, to praise His name forever."

-written by my great-great grandmother, Corra Alice Berry Leavell - to her nine sons on her deathbed.

I was looking through some pictures today and ran across a picture I took of this letter, now preserved in the Leavell Legacy room at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I've heard my mom and grandmother speak of this letter on so many occasions, but haven't ever sat down to think about the power and intent of these words. Of those nine boys, eight were in full-time ministry; one was a seminary president, one a medical missionary to China, one the pastor of First Baptist Houston, one founded the Baptist Student Union, one was a Christian educator (author of children's books), two were in Southen Baptist work, and my great-grandfather (Leonard O. Leavell) was a pastor. They left a true legacy and heritage to those who have followed after them.

my great-great grandmother must have been a very proud mother to see her nine sons accomplish such incredible work, but she knew where it all came from. she was known as a woman who dedicated her life and her family to the Lord, and she spent hours daily in her prayer closet. she was a woman who loved the Lord with all of her heart, and that is so evident to me as I read this letter. her aim and priority was to expand the kingdom of God and to give her boys back to him. she truly was an extraordinary person through whom God chose to do extraordinary things. it was her prayers that fueled her sons to seek God as they did, and live their lives in such a way that they impacted others for Jesus Christ.

oh, to be found faithful of the same. I want to ever live for Jesus so that He is reflected and glorified in everything that I say and do. I look forward to gathering around the throne, as a part of this unbroken family, to praise the name of Jesus one day. what a legacy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

life in the valley

we aren't called to live life on the mountaintop.
we are called to live life in the valley.

how will I choose to respond to that?

I think that after we've spent some time on the mountaintop, it's hard to believe that anything else exists... until something happens that sends us hurtling down the side of the mountain and seems to leave us hanging off the edge of a cliff. in that pit of our lives, we desperately cling on to the memories of the mountaintop and long for it again. it is at that moment that we must realize that our lives take place in the valleys... in the midst of our ordinary, everyday, mundane circumstances. a valley isn't a bad place... it just is what it is. our challenge is to find joy and to truly live out an incredible life in the valley. we have to take advantage of the opportunities that we have everyday to glorify God in what we do... because when we find that joy, we find satisfaction in our relationship with Jesus Christ. there's a depth in that joy and satisfaction that is inexplicable, somewhat beyond our comprehension.

I'm not writing all of this to say that I have it all figured out, but it's what the Lord was trying to get across to me in my quiet times this week. I'm reading through "my utmost for his highest" by oswald chambers, and october 3 & 4 were on this exact subject.

I'm definitely living out my life in the valley right now... not my first choice or the easiest thing, but it's where I am. I'm grateful for what I've experienced over the last year of my life, and I can't wait to see how God uses it all for His glory.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

life in the valley

we aren't called to live life on the mountaintop.
we are called to live life in the valley.

how will I choose to respond to that?

I think that after we've spent some time on the mountaintop, it's hard to believe that anything else exists... until something happens that sends us hurtling down the side of the mountain and seems to leave us hanging off the edge of a cliff. in that pit of our lives, we desperately cling on to the memories of the mountaintop and long for it again. it is at that moment that we must realize that our lives take place in the valleys... in the midst of our ordinary, everyday, mundane circumstances. a valley isn't a bad place... it just is what it is. our challenge is to find joy and to truly live out an incredible life in the valley. we have to take advantage of the opportunities that we have everyday to glorify God in what we do... because when we find that joy, we find satisfaction in our relationship with Jesus Christ. there's a depth in that joy and satisfaction that is inexplicable, somewhat beyond our comprehension.

I'm not writing all of this to say that I have it all figured out, but it's what the Lord was trying to get across to me in my quiet times this week. I'm reading through "my utmost for his highest" by oswald chambers, and october 3 & 4 were on this exact subject.

I'm definitely living out my life in the valley right now... not my first choice or the easiest thing, but it's where I am. I'm grateful for what I've experienced over the last year of my life, and I can't wait to see how God uses it all for His glory.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

let it be said of us...

"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word." Psalm 119:114

wow... God totally just gave me this verse as the "verse of the day" one one of those crazy little things online. what immense truth. today has been one of the scariest days of my life, and God has been my refuge and my shield... He is my portion and my strength. He gave me what I needed, to do what I had to do today and it had nothing to do with me. if we put ourselves to the side and allow God to work through us, we find power and strength to do things we never thought we could do. that was the case with me this morning... God is SO good and he knows us inside and out. I just want to be found faithful.

"Let it be said of us that our hearts belong to Jesus
Let it be said of us that we spoke the words of life"