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Word of the Year for 2017!

January 1, 2017

word-of-the-year

I love the NEW YEAR! A fresh start. A clean slate. Promises to take hold of are just within reach. I love soaking in the positivity and peace most people are expressing and pouring out in written and spoken word. It’s lovely while it lasts!

To get to my word of the year, I have to tell you a little bit about my THEME of the year! 2017 is a year that will contain a big milestone birthday for me: 40. Yep, the big “4-0”. I’ve never been one to be bothered by my age, and find it kind of interesting when I hear people talk about birthdays that “bother” them. My Mamaw always said, “Well, what’s the alternative?” But when I started thinking about turning 40 years old, I realized that what bothers me is not the number, but rather the things still left undone. Hopes not yet realized, places not yet visited, and goals not yet reached (or even written down for that matter). The sand in the hourglass seems to be falling more quickly, and it makes my heart race, and my brain send impulses frenetically that seem to be saying, “You need to complete a lifetime’s worth of stuff in 12 months. Got it?!” So rather than succumb to a midlife crisis, and throw all caution to the wind and suddenly move to an island with no job or home, I decided to be intentional in looking at this next year and creating a theme. Forty: Fearless, Fit, and Fabulous! I want to be FEARLESS in every area of my life. The spirit of fearlessfear and unbelief tend to hang out together. They’re buddies. And they’re two “frenemies” that I’ve decided to kick out of my circle. I have no place for them in my life anymore. I want to be FIT in every area of my life…body, soul, and spirit. I need to be intentional about self care. I’ve allowed neglect & abuse to rule the roost and that’s poor stewardship. And it’s absurd that I would choose the things I have when God says, “I want to give you ABUNDANT life, Leigh-Taylor. One that overflows!” So, that’s what I’m choosing….overflowing, abundance that saturates every realm of who I am. And then there’s FABULOUS! I want to do special things this year that make it truly fabulous, and a year that stands out from among the others in my memory. Because travel feeds my soul, I know it will include some fun getaways and trips, but I also want to find the fabulousness in the normal day to day living, too.

So, because of this great theme I’ve been excited about I thought FEARLESS would be my word. It seemed like a natural fit to me. But that’s just it….it’s what “I” thought it should be. I didn’t prayerfully receive it like I did my other words. On Christmas Eve, I was thinking through how I wanted the upcoming year to be different, and I invited God to speak into it. That’s when the word entered my mind in big, block letters: BE. I knew instantly that it was my word for 2017. Then, immediately following that picture i saw in my mind, the cover of our devotional book that we’re using at Gateway Church for our corporate fast popped up on the screen: Created to Be.

be

This is the graphic I saw on the screen at Gateway Church!

I came home, and immediately started thinking about verses and two popped into my mind. The first one was Psalm 46:10, “BE still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” I thought, “This is ridiculous, Lord. I’m the one telling everyone I know about what You’ve done in my life through Shabbat, through REST! Don’t I have this whole “being still” thing down?” I paused instantly, and knew down deep in my spirit that I didn’t practice “being still” in ways that had brought about total refinement. My quick, haughty response was my first clue! So, I’ve decided this definitely was one of my verses for the year. I want to BE still and know that He is God….whether I know anything else, I don’t care. For me, that will be enough. Also, I want to see God BE exalted among the nations and BE exalted in the earth! I’ll see that done in new and fresh ways as I focus on BEing still.

joshua-1-9-imageThe other verse is from Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? BE strong and courageous! Do not be afraid.; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” So many “be’s” y’all!! While that does in fact make my heart happy, the verse came to mind because of that first BE. I did some studying and found that the Hebrew word chazak is the word used there and means “strength and courage” (& there are 3 repetitions of it in that section of Scripture). The Israelites would shout it while advancing into battle. It was their battle cry, their war hymn…their anthem! I want chazak…and that will come as I BE…and as I declare it to BE!

So there you have it, folks. My word of the year for 2017. As you can see, there’s much to unpack. There will be a lot of unnatural discipline required to just BE. But I am declaring that I’m up for the challenge! Chazak!

chazak

Life Lessons from a Lab

August 31, 2015

I took Norah out after I got home tonight. Since it’s below 90 (that’s a big deal in TX), I thought I’d take her out to do her favorite thing: retrieve the ball from the Chuck It! All I have to do is say “Chuck It” and she goes crazy!!

chuckitWell, she was taking longer than I wanted, & under my breath I uttered, “This is annoying…why do you have to sniff EVERYTHING!” Then I called her name. She looked up…made eye contact even, and then went right back to walking around…and sniffing. My frustration grew. “NORAH!” I yelled, “Come here!” Again, she stopped looked right at me, and kept sniffing (the air, the fence, the tree…you name it). That time something burned in me. I was getting so mad at her deliberate disobedience. And then I heard His voice: “Leigh-Taylor, you do the same thing sometimes.”

Oh, no He didn’t. But oh, yep He did.

God was using this very moment to teach me a life lesson. I had a feeling the lesson would continue as I grabbed the Chuck It. I was right.

Norah heard the sound me picking up the ball with the Chuck It, and she immediately ran toward me. In fact, from that point on, I had her undivided attention.

obeyIn the field across from my apartment, I launched the ball far into the air. Norah ran, got the ball, and brought it back to me. She would keep her eyes glued on me, only moving as I released the ball and said, “Go get it, girl!” One time, she dropped the ball several feet from me, and expected that I come to her. I had to tell her twice to bring it to me. She finally did….and only then did I launch the ball. We did this over and over for quite some time.

In our own lives, there are times we say we want to walk in our God given destinies and know the purpose for our lives. But do we? Really? There are so many distractions vying for our attention when in reality if we would just take time to be still…to listen to His voice…we would see that our purpose and our destiny is about to be revealed & launched right in front of us.

You know something else? When I launched the ball and saw Norah run full speed ahead doing something she LOVES to do, I laughed. It brought me so much joy to see her enjoying something she was born to do. God feels the same way about us.

Take time. Be still. Listen. Obey. And then go get ’em! Go full speed ahead and do what YOU were born to do! Sometimes those distractions seem worth it in the moment, but I bet if we could ask Norah if she would prefer to be back on one side of the fence sniffing around, or out in the wide open field chasing her dream, I’m thinking she’d say the latter.

Thank You, God, for taking an ordinary night, and teaching me an extraordinary life lesson.

norah smiles‘Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do super abundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]— To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).” Ephesians 3:20-21 Amplified

Sometimes

May 10, 2015

*A Tribute to my mom who moved to heaven April 12, 2013*

Sometimes…

photo(2)Sometimes I know it’s raining before I even look outside because my hair curls up & looks like a chia pet. Genetics. Thanks Mom.

Sometimes I think about you telling the corniest jokes on the planet & I can hear your laughter & tears over what you think is the funniest thing ever (one of your faves: A 3 legged dog walks into a bar in Dodge City & hobbles over to John Wayne & says, “I‘m lookin’ for the man who shot my paw.”). Seriously. It’s not THAT funny. But thanks Mom.

Sometimes while I’m checking out at the grocery store & the cashier tells me her whole life story, I think about how it used to annoy me as a child. But now I love that the same thing happens to me. I treasure other people’s stories because YOU taught me how to listen. Thanks Mom.

Sometimes when I am having a busy day at the hospital & a new mom starts crying, I grab her hand, sit on the foot of the bed & cry with her. All because I once saw you wash & braid an old lady’s hair at the end of your shift. I learned empathy from you. Thanks Mom.

Sometimes the days are easy. Sometimes they’re hard. But unlike “sometimes”, I’m ALWAYS grateful that because of your trust in Jesus I know I’ll see you again. And for that I say, “Thanks God”.

remembering

That time God rested….

April 28, 2015

I am so THRILLED to introduce my friend, Mark Matthys to everyone. Mark is a good friend, talented writer, and has a heart for worship like no one I’ve ever known. He, too, understands God’s heart for Sabbath rest, and I’m honored that he wrote this devotion for us about that very subject. Enjoy!

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:2-3

Have you ever wondered why God, a perfect and spiritual being, Who is everywhere at all times and never sleeps, needed rest? Somehow I don’t believe that He finished six solid days of creating, wiped His brow, and thought, “Wow, I’ve been busy. I sure could use a nap.” No, I’m more of the belief that He rested as an example to us. He has given us examples of how to love, how to forgive, even how to pray. So it stands to reason that He also rested as a model for us to follow. Work for six days, rest on the seventh day. Rest is not a suggestion or a recommendation that God spoke to man. Rest is a commandment. In fact, it is so important, that it is the fourth of the ten commandments. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex 20:8)

For us mortal humans, rest is a necessity. It is required for the human body to perform as designed. When we do not allow ourselves adequate rest, our immune system weakens and we open the door to illness and disease. This illness and disease is not just confined to our physical bodies. When we break God’s commands, we open ourselves to physical, emotional, and spiritual weakness. I have recently learned this first hand. My life has been full of busyness in the last couple of months – large projects at work, personal growth and training, and participation in numerous church activities. All of these have held great importance to me for various reasons, and I over-extended myself. As a result, my time of resting in the Word diminished, and I became spiritually frail; my time of physically resting diminished, and I found myself sitting in my doctor’s waiting room; and my emotional health also took a nose dive.

When we push ourselves and do not take time to rest, we are, in essence, making our work and accomplishments our gods….thus also breaking the first commandment – to have no other gods before the Lord our God (Ex 20:3). The devil wants us to think that we have to be continually at work to be worthy. But we already hold worth in the eyes of our Creator. So we need to honor our Creator by being obedient to His commands. In doing so, we will be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy in order for Him to work through us to reach the truly lost and sick of our community and the world.

Rest in God. Rest with God. Rest for God.

Heavenly Father, You have set before us a perfect model of how to live our lives. May we strive to be obedient to Your Word, and weekly take the time to rest, just as You have commanded. In our time of rest, let us press into You and hear the words of life and love that You are longing to whisper in our ears. In Jesus’ name, amen!

No More Holding Back

April 28, 2015

When I saw this picture, I gasped.

hold you back

I resonated with these words so much. And then I remembered I wasn’t given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind. It can be hard to NOT compare ourselves with other peoples giftings…then when something big is asked of us, we can tend to shrink back thinking, “but I could NEVER do that! That’s “too big” for me…I’m not like her…I’m not like him…I don’t have enough experience…if I do this I will fail, etc, etc”

But you & I AREN’T like “her”, and we aren’t like “him”….and that’s exactly why we’re needed. We all bring different strengths/gifts to the table. A rainbow is beautiful because of all the DIFFERENT colors, right?? A monochromatic rainbow would be boring (& also NOT a rainbow)

Shine brightly where you are. Be faithful in the little things, and don’t fear the big things. If you’ve been called to something, you have been equipped & will have everything you need each step of the way.

Two years…

April 6, 2015

Nearly two years ago, my world was rocked. Shaken. Turned upside down.

I got a call on April 12, 2013 that forever changed my life. My brother called to tell me my mom had died in a house fire. I had to get him to repeat it two or three times because I couldn’t comprehend what was being said.

Mom died???

Traumatic is the only word that fits here.

The whiplash effect of that reality led to delayed grieving. At first, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t “move past it” more quickly. Three months after my mom moved to heaven, I couldn’t understand why it still hurt so badly, why I still couldn’t sleep at night, and why I’d still burst into tears at random moments.

I had never lost anyone that close to me.

Two years later, I’ve learned more than I’ve cared to about grief. However, one of the greatest redeeming aspects has been how the Lord has used me to love on and encourage others who are grieving.

There’s comfort in knowing someone else has “been there”….and in many cases I’ve been the one to listen because, well….I’ve “been there”.

This past week-end, I went to my home town of Tyler, Texas. I hadn’t been back since my mom passed away. I had this urge deep down in my soul to go.

I had a vision in my mind of reading Psalm 23 in the grass where her body was last placed by fire fighters. Since she was cremated, I don’t have a grave site to visit, and for some reason this just made sense to me. On Wednesday before Easter, the Lord also gave me the idea to take communion in there, too.

I was on a mission…and I was going to complete it.

So, I headed out to Tyler on Saturday morning, and met my brother at mom’s town home. I didn’t know what to expect, but upon seeing it I was flooded with peace. It actually made things better to see life all around…to see azaleas in bloom, grass growing in the yard, and trees well past budding their leaves.

momstownhomeYes, the blue sky and all the green “life” around it brought a source of joy and strength. There were some structural changes with the remodel of the town home. It was the only one on the street that didn’t have a covered porch. You could tell on the exterior brick wall that one used to be there. A faint line told a story, but most people wouldn’t notice.

sittingingrassIt was good to see that all the glass blown out by the windows had been either cleaned up or buried in the soil. There were no more clumps of ashes…only newly planted monkey grass and blooming flowers declaring LIFE over the lot. Yes, this was a much more pleasant scene than the last time I was there.

I quickly found “the spot” in the grass that I had been drawn to in my mind. I had this desire, this need really, to sit where my mom’s body had been placed. I guess at one point in my life, we had been joined together with blood and tissue, so the fact I was craving that kind of “nearness” shouldn’t be too surprising.

I felt like I went from being 37 years old to 37 WEEKS in utero in that moment. I just wanted my mom.

After settling down, I was able to read Psalm 23 with my brother, and then we got ready to take communion. I had brought a loaf of bread, a small bottle of grape juice, and in true East Texas fashion, red solo cup shot glasses from which to drink the juice! It’s all I could find at the store, and didn’t want to buy a huge sleeve of little paper Dixie cups!

Just as we were getting ready to take communion, the front door opened. A man and his dog came outside, and the look on the man’s face and tone in his voice confirmed what I knew in my heart: We should have asked for permission first.

I had decided as we were walking up to the town home, that it would be awkward to ask permission beforehand. I told my brother that “we could just do our thing and leave.”  Well, apparently we took a little too long, and “awkward” may have been our better option. Oops.

The man showed us NO MERCY even after my brother explained why we were there. He asked how long we’d be there, then proceeded to walk his dog down the street. About three minutes later, he walked out the front door again and asked why we were still there. I explained we were just about to take communion so we could leave, but he started yelling about how he had told us to get our stuff together and get off his lawn (*let’s just say I left out a few colorful words here*). My brother and I said in unison, “You never said that.” He told us he thought we “should have gotten his nice hint…” Oops again.

His wife came outside and asked if we were drinking on their yard. I had my Welches grape juice bottle and held it up as I explained we were just drinking JUICE and taking communion. Although, I’m sure the little red solo cup shot glasses were a little suspicious. Should’ve gone with the Dixie cups. My bad…yet again!

communion

The guy started yelling again and my brother stood up at that point and yelled, “Do you not have ANY compassion for another human being?!?!” I stood there with my mouth open for a couple of minutes, and then offered my apologies for not getting permission first. I explained, through tears, that it was going to be awkward either way and they agreed.

And then there was a total shift. I think heaven came down and intervened because they both started apologizing to us profusely. Turns out they had just woken up and there had been a shooting behind their house last week. So, I’m sure it was alarming for them to walk out and find strangers having a Kumbaya moment on the front yard (although, my brother and I had to be a little less alarming than some gun wielding crazy person. I’m just thinkin’)! They offered us water, and told us we could come back every year and sit on the yard and remember our mom! Ha! It actually added some comic relief.

The couple told us to take our time, and they wouldn’t bother us again. So, we finished having our “moment”.

feetingrass

Before heading off to lunch, I stood there in the grass one last time, and took a picture of my feet in the place that last held my mom’s body on earth. And just like I can rejoice because “He is RISEN,” I can rejoice in knowing that my mom is in a place of eternal joy with the very One who defeated sin and death. This picture reminds me that sin has lost it’s power, and death has lost it’s sting!

It makes me smile, and long for my home in Heaven.

Hallelujah! What hope we have in Jesus!

 

Word of the Year for 2015

January 1, 2015

Every December, I pray for God to give me a new word for the up coming year.

For 2013, my word was BELIEVE. I had no idea how I would be tested in the area of belief! But I guess you can’t really master a word if there aren’t any trials. Mark 9:14-29 was my “go to” passage as I constantly asked the Lord to “help me overcome my unbelief.

As I sought the Lord for a new word for 2014, I received the word in October of 2013. It came early compared to the previous year. It’s like the Lord was giving my heart some time to prepare….because it was a “big” word. The word was TRUST for this past year. I even felt a little fearful last pray2December because I knew how I had been tested as I focused on BELIEVE! I couldn’t imagine what I’d have to go through in the area of TRUST.  And I was right.  Boy, some of those storms and trials were doozies!!  But guess what?!?  I trust God like I never have before in my life! Hallelujah!

And now for 2015…. Well, I had made up my mind that my word would be honor. Only I had not prayed about it like I had the last couple of years. I remember it like it was yesterday. One December morning, I walked into my bathroom and was thinking about my new word. And then it hit me. I had never asked God about the word HE had for me! It still chokes me up to think about how I had left Him completely out of it. So, I said, “God, I am so sorry! I never even asked You if You had a word for me. I just kinda picked one that ‘sounded good’. Do You have a word for me?”

There was no lingering moment of silence, but rather a thunderous bolt with the word in big, black, block letters…

BEHOLD

I gasped out loud, and stopped in my tracks. And my first response?? I turned my palms up and shrugged my shoulders, furrowed my brows and said, “What kind of word is that???” Immediately, I had an overwhelming pit in my stomach. The one where you know that you just grieved the Holy Spirit. The Almighty God, Creator of the universe, just spoke to me and in a moment of pride, I deemed it not good enough.  I can’t tell you how many times I have cried over my initial response. I don’t stand under condemnation because I know I’m forgiven, but my heart has been so tender toward the Lord over the last few weeks because of that teachable moment.

It’s funny. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the word BEHOLD on cups, shirts, wooden plaques, framed art, in Scripture, on Instagram….you name it. It’s been in my face! Affirmation after affirmation.

The Lord is so good, and I’m thankful His mercies are new each and every day!

A passage of Scripture that goes with my new word is from Isaiah 43:18-19. I’m claiming the promise that He’s doing something new! I love His promises!

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. BEHOLD, I will do something new, now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

behold2

Isn’t that just so good?? It’s because it is so GOD!  It’s HIS word!! I’m so glad I asked Him…and to think I almost didn’t.

Here is a passage that I’m making personal to me and declaring over myself in 2015. It’s from Revelation 3:8.

BEHOLD I have set before you an open door [Leigh-Taylor], which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

Happy New Year, friends! May we take plenty of moments to BEHOLD Him in 2015!

Amen.

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

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!