Archive for December, 2014

That time I heard God laugh….

December 14, 2014

After receiving my new name from God, I got up and walked over to the window cloaked in a dark pull down shade and peeled it back. After my eyes adjusted to the in pouring of the glorious sunshine, my sight rested on a fountain spewing forth water that looked like diamonds in the sunlight. The “diamond droplets” scattered upon coming in contact with the surface of the water.

Just beyond the view of the pond, traffic seemed to mind its own business, moving easily along Texas State Highway 114. As quickly as my eyes left the fountain, they shifted back to the water…I was mesmorized.

And then I heard it.

The voice of the Lord.

“Isn’t that beautiful?”  I responded, “Yes, Lord. It IS beautiful!”  He said, “And that’s just a little pond in Southlake, TX.  You should see what the sparkling of the sun looks like on the oceans!”

His response made me smile, and my sassy self responded, “Ok, that is SO not fair! You are GOD and can see the surface of all the oceans! I’m kinda limited here!”

That’s when the most beautiful sound filled the ears of my heart.  He laughed. God LAUGHED!  The heavens echoed with its sound, I’m sure of it. My face lit up as I realized that I made the God of the universe laugh.

I will never forget that moment with the Lord as long as I live. I’ve always known that God laughs. We are made in His image and laughter is a special gift to all mankind. Scripture says that “out of the mouths of infants, He has ordained praise.” I can’t help but think that one of the earliest beginnings and utterances of praise from newborns is in the form of laughter.

One of my first thoughts when I heard God laugh was, ‘I wonder if my mom knew that I was the one that made Him laugh that time.” And then as quickly as that thought came to my mind, it left. I realized it must be such a common sound in heaven….God laughing. It could have been any ONE of His many children. And I can only imagine that His children residing in His house wear big smiles, and even join in, when they hear heaven resound with their Father’s laughter.

I can’t wait for the day when I get to hear that glorious sound again. And whether it’s this side of heaven or the other, all I know is that “Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere…” And wherever He is, there is sure to be joy and LAUGHTER!  I just know it…

One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
    beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
    than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
    generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
    It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

Psalm 84:10 The Message

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What’s in a Name?

December 7, 2014

Oh, Juliet….she said it so well, didn’t she?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

It’s funny…as much as I love meeting new people, one of the things I dread is explaining my name. My introduction feels like about as long as the previews at the movie theater!

“Hi, my name is Leigh-Taylor. That’s my whole first name.”  And then the person says, “Oh, nice to meet you Leigh.” Then I say, “No, Leigh-Taylor is my whole first name…”  *insert crickets and puzzled looks here* And then an awkward, “Oh, Ok…” from whomever is hearing my complicated name for the first time.

One of the first questions I get asked is, “How did your parents come up with your name?”  So I go into the whole explanation. It goes a little like this….

Taylor is my mom’s maiden name, and that’s what my parents were going to name me. BUT when I came into this world, my dad decided he didn’t like “just Taylor”, but he also liked Leigh (perhaps it seemed a little more feminine back in the 1970’s…Taylor wasn’t popular for a little girl like it is today).

My mom told me that when one of my aunts came to visit me in the hospital, at that point in time I guess you could say they weren’t the best of friends. My aunt asked my mom what my name was, and my mom told her: Leigh Taylor.

My aunt responded with, “I’m not gonna call her LEIGH-TAYLOR!”

At the time, my mom had not combined it making it “my whole first name”, but out of anger she took the pen in her hand and made a hyphen on the birth certificate paperwork that was laying in her lap at the time!  Years later, after I had heard this story many times, I said to my mom, “So, I was named out of spite??”  And I’ll never forget my mom saying nonchalantly, “Yeah…I guess so.”

There are no words for the sadness that I felt. The sting of the arrow called “spite” pierced through my heart sealing a curse over my life. I lived under that curse for over 20 yrs.

Back in June of this year, I started journaling through the Gospel of John. In John 1:42, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Cephas (which translates to Peter…meaning “rock”).  I sensed early on that the Lord wanted to change my name and that going through the book of John would be one of the greatest parts of my journey.

Fast forward to November. I had signed up for Kairos at my church. Kairos is a 2 day Freedom Ministries event through Gateway Church (for more info go to http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/freedom-kairos/kairos).

People had told me to expect incredible things….and to expect to cry my weight in tears and to bring my own box of Kleenex for the two days. Um, that’s not intimidating or anything!

The very first session on the first day Pastor Josh Morris got up and started telling us how God has another name for us. That we may have believed lies about our names, etc, and God wants to give us a new name. So, the 1,100 people in attendance started pressing into God for the new name He had promised for us.

I got anxious right off the bat. I couldn’t hear anything. It seemed the harder I asked and the more I wanted clarity about my new name, the more “noisy” my thoughts became and the faster my heart started beating.

I had a team of seven prayer partners who had said they’d pray for me during my time at Kairos. So I texted a few of them and told them I so desperately wanted a new name but I couldn’t hear what God was saying.

The long and short of it is the session ended without me hearing anything about my name. I was disappointed, and kind of felt like I had failed at my first Kairos assignment! I’m the first born and naturally performance driven, but I would come to find out even more later on about my drive to perform. It was tied up in that curse I believed.

After lunch, we started back up in the sanctuary, but my feet led me upstairs. It’s funny because I walked with such purpose like I knew exactly where I was going but I had absolutely no thoughts whatsoever about where I was going! When I reached the top of the stairs, I saw a sign that said “Kairos Soaking Room open during lunch”. I tried the first door and it was locked, but the second door opened without any trouble.

No one was in there. It was a dimly lit room with chairs positioned in a circle with a box of tissues beside each one. There was soft soaking music playing, and there was a bowl of communion elements on a table in the middle of the room. Black shades were drawn down to the floor making the room peaceful and calm.

I sat in a chair for a minute to “still” myself. It didn’t take long to end up on my knees with tears pouring down my face as I begged God to speak to me about my name. I had looked up synonyms and antonyms for the word “spite”, and the Lord brought to mind the word “unwanted”.  He said, “This is what you have believed….you have believed the curse that said you were unwanted but I call you WANTED!” I immediately knew this was true. I very much had felt “forgotten” and that stemmed from a deep feeling of believing that if I could be named out of spite, that I must have been unwanted..

Then came another word from the Lord. He said, “Because you have believed you were unwanted, you have also believed you couldn’t overcome certain things in your life. So I am calling you WANTED OVERCOMER.”

Boundless tears rolled down my face over the next few minutes, but a peace and joy overwhelmed my heart.

WANTED OVERCOMER.

I laughed at one point and told God, “Ok, fine…I’ll take both names BUT I don’t want another hyphen!”  I sensed God say, ‘That’s fine, but remember there is NO POWER in the hyphen in your name. That was a curse, but it’s now broken.”

How generous. How merciful. How….God!!

I had just walked through breaking the curse, but still some fear resided in my heart and He exposed that, too! He finished it once and for all on the Cross…and then to walk me through it with gentle leading as the powers of hell laced in fear lost its grip on me that day. Hallelujah!

I told the Lord I didn’t want to go back down stairs and take communion, but I wanted to stay with Him and take communion instead.  He whispered, “It’s ok. You don’t have to leave. You can take communion with Me.”

So I grabbed a cup with my wafer of bread, and I let the Holy Spirit guide me. And that’s when God did something so amazing to seal my name!

He said, “Leigh-Taylor, this is my body….broken for you because you were and are WANTED.” I ate the wafer.

Then He said, “Leigh-Taylor, you OVERCOME by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.” So, I drank the juice.

Communion is all about Jesus and remembering what HE did for us. It was in that time of remembrance that the Lord sealed my name and reminded me that it was done all those years ago. The curse never had any real power over me. I just believed a lie.

But that day as I walked out of the Soaking Room, shackles and chains STAYED on that floor. I took nothing with me except all the amazing promises God has spoken over my life.

Oh, how I’m thankful that I had 45 minutes alone with God in that room. The whole time I was in there, not a single person walked in. How special….sacred….holy.

I am a WANTED OVERCOMER. What has He called you??

namecard (more…)

Refined

December 1, 2014

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently. He asked me what was next…aka: “the big plan for my life”.

He said, “You work as a nurse, but you have an extensive background in ministry and a huge heart for the Kingdom. So what are your next steps?”

Sigh. Tears.

Is it really even up to me??

Out of any real answers, I said, “I don’t know. I. just. don’t. know.”

And sometimes, I guess that’s all we DO know, right?!

I told him that I really believe the answer lies within this season of holy rest, and that’s why I feel like understanding the Sabbath is crucial to moving forward in my life. But beyond that, I have no “plans”.

Sensing my frustration and discouragement, He told me about what happens to gold when it’s being refined. It’s a story that has changed my perspective, and serves as a visual reminder that I carry in my heart as I process through this life season (one I’ve been reluctant to embrace).

REFINING….here we go.

Gold is melted in a crucible. When it gets to a certain temperature, the impurities start to separate out from the pure mineral components. A goldsmith actually calls the process agitation because at this point, the gold actually tries to “jump” out of the crucible requiring him to keep his eyes fixed on the precious metal, never diverting his attention.

The goldsmith knows the moment of perfect refining….it’s key critical…and it’s one for which he’s been uniquely trained. Yes, the moment when he can see his reflection in the liquid gold is when ALL impurities have been extracted and the gold has been perfectly refined.

Does any of that sound familiar??? It sure resonated with me!

I am IN the crucible right now. The heat has been turned up and I’m agitated. I wanna jump out of my refining bowl.

It hurts. Stretching, pushing, pulling is happening in my bowl. And I’m tired.

But how great is it to know that while I can’t escape it, my Master’s eyes are fixed on me…UNWAVERING!

You and I have to look for joy in the midst of pain or uncertainty or we’ll take a miserable swim in the sea of loneliness. There are plenty of hungry sharks that live in that sea and oh, how they’d love to get a hold of your joy and shred it to pieces. Don’t let them, friend!

“… for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

I’ve found that thanking God for my need is one way to cultivate a heart of gratitude, and draw strength from joy. From that place, I’m humbled as I remember that it really IS God who is the giver of ALL things and I am dependent upon Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Shackles of pride and chains of idol worship break off as my words of gratitude turn the key releasing me from a false prison that self reliance built.

While I don’t know what God’s plans are regarding vocational ministry and what that will look like in my life I’ve been brought to the crucible for the purpose of being REFINED.

And I take joy in knowing His eye is on me through the process. What a promise!