Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"The Nook"

The Ladies Of The Lord (or L.O.L. as we affectionately call it) at my church are doing a book study on Good to Great in God's Eyes by Chip Ingram. I'm not sure I even heard of this man before reading his book, but he's so wise and insightful. It's hard not to pick up the book and devour every  ounce of wisdom he offers in it. The book is about 10 things great Christians do in their lives that help them achieve greatness and righteousness in God's eyes. The title pretty much speaks for itself, but the 10 things in this book are invaluable things that are so logical, yet so full of wisdom when you put think on them and then put them into action.

Each chapter has a theme like "Pursue Great People" or "Think Great Thoughts". What struck me is that even though I'm on chapter four, these themes meld together as you start applying them to your daily life. The chapter, "Read Great Books" went right along with the last chapter I read "Dream Great Dreams". God doesn't just give us desires and dreams to say "Well, you screwed that one up so better luck with the next dream!" He wants us to cultivate these dreams and seek them in His power and might. Not our own. That's one of the key parts of having a dream. Knowing it's in His hands. I'm getting a little carried away... 

Back to my point... These two chapters went together because I just started reading Onward by Howard Schultz, the chairman, president, and ceo of Starbucks. (Fun fact: they don't use upper case letters to distinguish the higher ups from the other employees within their company). At the end of "Dream Great Dreams" I was challenged to write down my own dreams. One I dreamed up not too long ago came to mind and clicks completely with Onward. I have this idea of a coffee house. Now it's not an ordinary one, but a place of solitude, peace, and serenity. A place to order a latte then curl up with a good book, write that letter you've always wanted to, or just sit still and be.

This place would be called "The Nook". There would be no electronics allowed in the doors - except cellphones on vibrate. I want an environment that allows total freedom from the things of the world. A place for people to escape the chaotic schedule of daily life and to slip into a place all their own. I wouldn't sell anything besides a few books, coffee, tea, and some snacks. Just a simple place for a simple purpose. That is my dream. It sounds somewhat impossible to have such a place of tranquility in today's society, but I believe it can be done. This is my dream.

What's yours? What are you desiring and have a passion for? Are you taking steps towards it? What's holding you back? Often times it's ourselves. Take a step in faith. You never know what you'll find along the way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Of Mice and Little Ladies

This all started about a month ago when I was vacuuming the house. I decided to move the couch from the "L" - shaped wall so I could vacuum behind it. That's when I got my first clue.... dog food scattered all over. Probably a good 30 pieces or so. Well, knowing it was the first time that spot had been vacuumed in goodness knows how long - remember, my husband was a bachelor for 3 years with a dog - I picked up the pieces and thought Gunnar's food had been spilled over there.

Fast forward a week or two, I notice a piece of dog food on the basement stairs. I thought it was funny since Gunnar usually goes up and down the stairs with me, but not while he's eating. Oh well. Once again, I figured Gunnar had maybe kicked it (20 ft) away from his bowl and under the basement door.

Now, we're up to Saturday night. I'm getting annoyed with the light above my head having one working bulb instead of 3 so I decide to change that. As I'm pushing the couch out of the "L", I notice another 10 pieces of dog food. So I pause... and tell Jared, "I think we have a mouse". At this time my poor husband is working on his sermon and has no idea what I'm talking about, so he somewhat annoyed says, " ok". Me, "I really think it's a mouse. How else would Gunnar's food get on the OTHER side of the wall when that's not possible and we know he's too big to get under the couch." And once again, Jared - trying to be patient with me - looks at me and says "I don't know Leah." The things I put my husband through. well, I decided if he was too busy I'd gather evidence. I compared the "couch" dog food with fresh ones and noticed the "couch" ones were nibbled down. Not to mention the droppings around them, Gunnar's massive size keeping him from getting under the couch, and the "L" shaped wall blocking any food from "jumping" out of Gunnar's bowl. I had my answer.

 After picking up THOSE pieces, Jared was done and we discussed the issue. Even got to show off my detective skills! So the next morning, I was curious. Sure enough, another 5 pieces were under the couch. We have a visitor. Maybe even more than one. It's obviously not the mouse that drowned in our water pump 2 months ago. Maybe a close relative. All I know is, this isn't my first rodeo (my roommates from the Row house in college can attest to that) and we are getting mouse traps.Once again, country life is always keeping me on my toes! Not to mention the broken down tractor in our front lawn, and half uprooted tree trunk. Ha ha ha All I'm missing is my cowgirl boots! I am officially a country girl - and loving every minute of it.

Also, I wanted to wrap this blog up with a Happy Birthday to my baby sister Londyn Grace Whitney Smith!!
She's a whopping 5 years old today! I miss that girl. My little diva/drama queen sister.
I always wanted a little sister. Took me until I was 18 to get one, but I love her very much and am so glad God blessed our family by adding her to the bunch. What a sweetie pie!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Yada This, Yada That

God has really been working on my heart in my prayer life since I've started reading the "Yada Yada Prayer Group" book series. I know it seems silly that a Christian Novel would be something God would speak through, but truely these books have inspired me to go beyond my normal comfort zone when it comes to prayer.

I remember back in May going to a women's breakfast at my old church and a friend of mine said she was starting a book study on "The Yada Yada Prayer Group" and it didn't stop there. She also addressed the importance of prayer and how the Lord had been working on her heart about that. I didn't understand the connection.

How can a novel really challenge your prayer life to become more intimate? Turns out, the small library in my po-dunk town has ALL of the "Yada Yada" books, so - out of curiosity  - I borrowed the first one. I admit, I wasn't too interested at first, but the faith these women show in their prayer lives and the way they pray makes you hunger for it in your own life. Yes, they're fictional characters, but the things they pray about are things that others around me or even I myself have experienced. It's an encouragement to read about a main character who struggles with her prayer life and learns to step out of her comfort zone to experience grace, freedom, joy, peace, mercy, and every gift the Father can give while maturing spiritually.

The issues raised are so real and genuine that I can't help but think of certain people in my life as I read these books. Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert at praying in the Psalms, having a "quiet time" every day, or praising the Lord the way these ladies do (which is with child-like abandon!)... but I want to try. And you know what? I think that's exactly what the Lord wants us to do...

"O taste and see
That the Lord is good
O taste and see
That the Lord is good to me

You've turned my mourning
Into dancing
Put off my rags and clothed me with gladness
And I will arise and I will praise you
I'll sing and not be silent

O Lord, My God
I will give thanks to you forever
O Lord, My God
I will give thanks to you

And I'll live only for you
And I'll lift these hands up to you
And I'll dance before you
I will shout it, I will shout it to you"

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Open and Honest

Alright... it's time to pour my heart out... not completely open, but as much as I can.

I'm tired... I'm drained... some mornings, I just want to stay in bed. I even find myself on the verge of tears when I let myself process what has been going on in the past 2 weeks.We just announced to the church last Sunday, that my husband (the senior and only pastor) has gone from full time to part time which also includes a pay reduction. It not only grieves me what Jared and I are going through, but what this means for the church as well. My heart aches for Sand Ridge and the congregation there. I love them all to pieces! I've been all over with my emotions. Sad, angry, hurt, joyful, upset, frustrated, worried, concerned, thankful, etc. Really, any emotion you can name, I've been there!

That first Sunday the decision was made, Jared and I were somewhat in shock. Then as we processed God opened our eyes to what the possibilities could be for him, me, and above all, the church! This could be a great opportunity for SRCC to get back on their feet. We've had a lot happen, but one thing this church knows how to do right is Celebrate! I am determined to celebrate every thing I can in this time. Even in the pain, God is good. All the time.

It doesn't mean I won't have emotions to deal with or even struggle with the reality of where Jared and I are right now, but God is faithful and He is proving that to us as we keep our eyes open to it every day. We are conquerors in Christ Jesus. I bare this burden with great joy, just as Paul did. There is no despair in Him. Only hope. Hope for a better future - for Jared, for me, and for Sand Ridge.

p.s. I have an interview for part time work and will be applying for a full time position at another place soon. God really is opening doors so please join me in praying that I will follow His lead and that Jared will as well.