Archive for the ‘Teachable Moments’ Category

Rerouting

April 16, 2016

Have you ever looked up an address on your GPS, looked at the overview and thought, “Oh, yeah….I know where that is.” But “just in case” you leave the GPS on. You know, “just in case” your memory isn’t what it used to be!

I needed to get my car alignment checked, and corrected. When I got new tires a month or so ago, I was warned the alignment was off, and I needed to get it checked or it would ruin my new tires in the same way it trashed my old ones.

Having the day off, I thought I should take the opportunity to actually take care of this issue since I’ve already put it off, and the noise from the tires was getting louder. So, I put in the name of the recommended automotive repair shop, looked at the GPS directions, and uttered those familiar words: “Oh, yeah…I know where that is.”  And just like that, I took off. After all, I knew where I was going.

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Well, after being warned by GPS to make several U turns, make a left turn here, a right turn there, I started second guessing myself.

Sigh.

Maybe I DON’T know where I’m going after all!

I had this thought, “Maybe I’ll just follow the GPS instructions, and see what happens.”

I STILL thought the crazy thing was wrong until I had this realization: I mixed up the two streets, Lebanon and Eldorado. The truth was I DIDN’T know where I was going, but I would’ve bet everything I had that I was right. And I’d be homeless if I did wager a dime! I was WAY wrong!

Because of my “certainty”, I lost precious time getting…well, LOST. If I just would’ve trusted and listened to my GPS in the first place, I would’ve GAINED a few things like time, patience, & peace instead of LOSING those very things!

It was at that moment, when I realized my mistake, that I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “You do the same thing with me sometimes, Leigh-Taylor.”

Ouch.

More sighs.

“You’re right God.”

The truth is sometimes I’ll receive a directive from God, and take off thinking, “Oh, yeah. I know where I’m going.” I know Proverbs 16:19 says, “Man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

216969d584656bb2918624a74e033389And sometimes like my trip today, I ignore the first time His voice tells me to make a U turn, or take a right, left, etc. I keep going my own way, thinking I know best. But then something stirs. A knowing deep in my spirit that something isn’t right, and that I need to pay attention to the Voice I hear.

Oh, the time wasted, the frustration felt, and the peace lost all in the name of doing thing MY way instead of His!

I’m thankful for teachable moments like these that come from hearing that still small voice from a merciful God that gently corrected me and gave me deep insight into something more than getting my car back into alignment.

It was a spiritual check up that revealed pride and busyness were throwing off my alignment with the Father.

I’m so thankful for a gracious God who ALWAYS knows where He’s taking us, and we can trust His directions!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

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Good Gifts

January 10, 2016

This morning I decided to go to church in my pajamas. But don’t worry! While my flannel pj’s ARE cute, I didn’t show up at a church building in them. No, instead, I stayed in bed and live streamed the service on my lap top. It was such a gift to enjoy the best of both worlds: Sabbath rest AND getting to hear the message about the PERSON of the Holy Spirit.

While I really enjoyed the whole message, and could probably write a blog post about several points made by Pastor Robert Morris, the one thing in particular he mentioned that got my attention was about how he asks God for a birthday gift every year.

I sat up and thought, “NO WAY! I thought I was the only one that did that!”

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Nearly four years ago now, my grandmother moved to heaven. I had a really special bond with my “Mamaw” as I was born on her 50th birthday. My first birthday without her was so painful. I missed her very much. I found myself on the floor beside my bed, that first year without her, crying and asking the Lord how that day could ever be special again. He said, “Leigh-Taylor, this day IS special. In fact, I have a birthday gift for you. Can I give it to you now?”

I choked back my sobs. God had a birthday gift for me??

“Sure, Lord…what is it?!?” I responded.

“Open your Bible,” He said.

And so I did. My Bible opened to Psalm 37 and immediately my eyes went to verses 5 & 6. It reads: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

What I didn’t mention before is that I was in a situation at the time where a major wrong was committed against me. While I had the support of many people around me, I felt like I needed affirmation from the Lord that He was my Defender, and that I could trust Him for true justice. On my birthday, this couldn’t have been a sweeter gift! Shortly after this promise was given to me, the Lord proved my case, and I was able to close that painful chapter in my life.

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Sea of Galilee

 

Well, my birthday this year was extra special. I got to spend it in ISRAEL! I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t wait to spend time with God. I was staying in a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee. I laughed and told God, “Hurry up! Make the sun rise!” *smile* It was the second time in my life I heard God laugh…and it was good. I found a quiet spot on a VERY LOW bench along the shore of the Galilee, and watched the sky lighten up over time while I listened quietly to praise and worship music.

At one point, I got up and made my way over to the water. There was a broken down “pier” of sorts. I decided to sit on the end of it. The mock pier was just high enough out of the water to where my pants wouldn’t get soaked from sitting on it, but I was basically sitting on a pallet in the water!

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Birthday Gift #1

I said to God, “Ok, what do You have for me this year? What’s my gift going to be?” I was so eager and expectant. I only waited a couple minutes before I heard, “Look down, and pick up that shell.” So, I looked down, reached my hand between the wooden slats of the pallet, and picked up a shell that had a plain brown outer covering but a beautiful inner lining that was revealed when I turned it over.

At that moment the Lord spoke again, and said, “Leigh-Taylor, today is going to be a day of gifts for you!”

My heart was full of joy, anticipation, and expectancy after hearing those words. I realized after a few minutes that my face hurt from smiling!

And it was true. It really was a day of GIFTS! I got a beautiful shell, was sung to by my traveling group, went to Beit She’an & saw incredible views of various mountain ranges, got baptized in the Jordan River where a rainbow appeared along with five white doves, and went into Jerusalem & saw the city for the first time!

All those things are gifts in and of themselves, but God always multiplies His gifts. There were treasure troves at each of those places, and nuggets of wisdom that He spoke to me along the way.

While I love the connection that Pastor Robert and I have made to asking the Lord for a birthday gift on our earthly birthdays, I know there are people out there who think or feel God may have a gift for them, but He doesn’t have one for me. I want to tell you that’s a lie! He DOES have a gift for you. It starts with Jesus, the ULTIMATE gift, and if you ask Him today for a gift and wait patiently before Him, I believe wholeheartedly there’s a unique special gift from God just for you!

So ask Him today. He’s the ultimate gift giver. And He always gives GOOD GIFTS!

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Peace! Be Still.

May 8, 2015

Anxious. That was the state of my body, soul, and spirit.

My heart raced, my mind wondered, and tears couldn’t even flow (they were probably too nervous to even try and leave the tear ducts)!

In the span of two weeks, needs were brought to my attention that were “too much”. My heart hurt hearing the emergent needs of some of my friends, and my heart of mercy wanted to fix it. But that’s exactly what I couldn’t do, AND it’s exactly what I shouldn’t try and do. Mercy is a beautiful gift. It’s Holy Spirit given and anointed. However, it’s easy to cross the line into pride when we start thinking we’re the ones that can rescue.

We can’t. It’s that simple.

ONLY GOD CAN.

Sunday morning I woke up, and immediately wanted to go back to sleep.

I just wanted to make the aches in my body go away. I wanted the racing in my mind to go away. I wanted the rapid heartbeats to slow down.

redjournalI grabbed my journal along with two pens, one red and one black. It was time to have a serious conversation with the Lord. I needed Him to tell me what this was all about and how we were gonna fix this thing!

I sat on my porch for THREE HOURS! I had my Bible, journal with pens, my phone to play praise music….all the things I could possibly need in order to hear God clearly.

So I thought.

I read through John 6. My personal miracle story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 led into the next miracle of Jesus walking on water. I’ve read that story numerous times, but it was God’s Word that read my heart on the porch that day.

I had asked Jesus, “How can I take You at Your word? I thought I could really say to this mountain, ‘MOVE’, but the mountain hasn’t moved, Lord. I feel like my world is falling apart and I can’t see You. How do I know You’re really there?”  And in the red letters, the next line I read was, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

When the disciples had the storm swirling around them, they didn’t recognize Jesus at first either. Yet when they did, they took Him into their boat, and IMMEDIATELY they were taken to the shore where they were heading (another piece of the miracle).

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However, even in my journaling the anxious feelings didn’t flee. Even with Jesus saying, “It is I; do not be afraid” my heart and mind continued on their race to nowhere.

I looked at my phone. It was time to go to church. Ugh. All I wanted to do was crawl back in bed.

I only went to church that night because I am helping out a church plant, and I know what a big deal it is for a church planter to receive a text that says, “I’m sorry…I’m not going to make it.” It’s devastating, and I didn’t want to be a part of that.

So, I begged God for a word the entire walk up to the door of the meeting hall.

When the worship team started leading us, I felt a shift in my spirit. Every single song brought tears, and I didn’t know why until we started singing You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music. Ah, I get it Lord… Words like “You call me out beyond the shore into the waves….” echoed in my spirit.

Fear was the root cause of my anxiety, and God started peeling those layers back one at a time.

castyouranxietyThen the pastor started preaching. My skin was covered in chill bumps, and my heart convulsed within me. There were SENTENCES the pastor said straight out of my journal. He had no idea I had been dealing with anxiety. But God did. And He gave Pastor Jeff the words to speak straight to my heart to reaffirm to me that He heard me during our time on the porch. He was there all along.

And what I love about how God works is that He goes the extra mile. While that part of the story is amazing enough, it doesn’t stop there. I went to another church plant’s life group this past Wednesday night. Guess what we talked about?  Yep, you guessed it. The miracle story from John 6:16-24. Jesus walks on the water….

Ok, God, I get it. You’re real. You care. You love me. AND You want me to “epiripto”  (“hurl violently”) my cares on you because You care for me.

When Jesus speaks, the storm has to listen. You won’t be overcome, and He will deliver you to the shoreline. Sometimes there’s a process involved, but He’s saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.” You and I can ask Him to get into the boat with us. Who better to invite than the very One who calms the sea with His voice!

So, today no matter what you’re going through, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ speak these words to your storm: “Peace! Be still.” The wind and waves must listen.

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Finding Jesus in a Parking Lot

May 6, 2015

Burdened.

Too much.

Overwhelmed.

How could I be feeling like this? I had just attended a three day women’s event at my church where I listened to the “best of the best” bring incredible insights from the Word of God, and gifted musicians who brought us into the presence of the Lord where we experienced “on earth as it is in heaven.”

But what did I have to show for it besides a bruised heart to go with my slumped shoulders?

Stress had manifested itself physically, and was matching externally what was hemorrhaging internally. I had reached my limit, but didn’t know that’s what the numbness and tingling was from. The electrical pain I was feeling started deep in my soul, and radiated out into my very finger tips.

I was shutting down.

abide2I had missed two weeks of observing the Sabbath. Twenty four hours a week consecrated to God. Holy. I had been absent from abiding with my Father. John 15:5 in the Amplified Bible says, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

I had done just that. I had cut off from vital union with the Vine. Jesus. And I had become a “shriveled up grape” crippled under the pressure of my own weight along with seemingly “noble things for the kingdom” (unending prayer requests from friends, service projects for hurting warriors, and even this three day women’s event).

When I got home and tried to take a nap, adrenaline continued to course through my veins. I couldn’t settle my spirit. I knew I needed Sabbath rest, and I needed to do something that would feed my soul. I decided to get crafty and make a prayer notebook, and get organized! Yes, that’s something that makes me happy. Hobby Lobby and The Container Store each have pieces of my heart. And those pieces can be found in the aisles with Mod Podge, designer scrapbook paper, and well…anything with glitter.

So, I hopped into my car, and prayed the whole two minute trip to Hobby Lobby. I turned off my car, and proceeded to pray out loud, telling God how overwhelmed I was, etc. Then my prayers took a different turn. I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me areas in which I needed to repent.parkinglot

That led to me having church in my Mazda! That led to an encounter with the Lord that I had missed during an incredible conference. That led to me being reaffirmed in knowing that NOTHING can fill me like Almighty God, and NO ONE else can touch my heart like He does.

One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 9:6 and if often quoted at Christmas time. It says, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Yes, the government shall be upon HIS shoulders. That’s why His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). He is the only One with shoulders big enough to carry the world (and so much more). When we start thinking WE can do the same, we’ve stepped over the line into pride. A righteous burden can become an unrighteous burden if we’re not careful.

I may have gone to church for three days in a row, but it took me parking my car and sitting still to find Jesus.

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