Category Archives: Faith

What Unites Us

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I woke up with just a few lyrics (“tonight’s the night”) playing in my head.  I tried looking it up, but I knew the Rod Stewart song was definitely not what was stuck in my head.  I knew the song had something to do with a city, so I added that to my search and found Toby Mac’s song “City on Our Knees”.  After listening to the song and reading the lyrics, I still wasn’t sure why this song was on my heart this morning.  The lyrics, “Through the fog, there is hope in the distance,” resonated with me as I had been praying since 4 am for the family of my student who went to be with Jesus on Saturday.  However, I thought there had to be more to it than that one line.  A search for the meaning of the song led me to a YouTube video in which TobyMac explained,

“City” is about a moment. A moment that we all come together, and our differences fall by the wayside, and love fills in the cracks, and we turn our attention on what unites us.

Tonight’s the night for the visitation.  Maybe that is why those words were on my mind early this morning, but I’m glad I didn’t stop there.  This beautiful student and faithful child of God had a desire to see our students unite this year and truly come together as one body.  She couldn’t have known that this would be accomplished through her death, but she would be so proud of and happy for her classmates who have done exactly what her heart desired.  They have come together in love and unity to honor her.  Her legacy lives on!

…so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.    Ephesians 4:12b-13

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But I Trust in You

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But I Trust in You


My children are all in the AWANA program at our church, and I made sure they were practicing their verses this weekend for their club meetings.  The little girls’ verse was Psalm 31:14 (NIV):

But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”

Trying to teach scripture verses to little ones who can’t read yet is difficult.  I break the verse up into parts and get them to repeat each part after me several times.  In doing this, I usually learn the verse myself, but I am not meditating on what the verse means.  I read Psalm 31:14-15 (NRSV) in my devotional last night and didn’t recognize the verses at all, but I liked what they said.  I decided to look them up in the NIV because I’m not familiar with the NRSV. I just smiled to myself when I realized the first verse was the same as the one I had been teaching my girls all weekend.  


We had an assembly at school today for students, parents, and teachers to worship, pray, and grieve together as we celebrated the life of our precious sister who is now with Christ.  As I got in my car to go to the assembly, the first song that came on the radio was Eye of the Storm, and it brought tears to my eyes and also a smile to my face.  There are some lines towards the end of this song that I didn’t include in my quote yesterday, but I heard them loud and clear today.  It says when “there’s nothing I can do, my only hope is to trust You.  I trust You, Lord.”  God is my Lord and Savior, my help in times of need, my anchor in the storm, my comforter, my protector, my hope, and so much more.  I trust Him with everything. Even though we are sad and don’t understand why our loved one died so young, we know He is still in control.  

The mother of these precious girls trusts God and has been clinging to Him through all of this and posting on social media for everyone to turn to Christ if they don’t know him already.  She requested that her pastor implore any unbelievers in his congregation to accept Jesus as their lord and personal savior.  She has asked anyone reading her posts to message her if they don’t know Christ.  At the assembly, we were told that over 50 people have already accepted Christ in the last two days!  What a tribute to this young girl that so many have been saved through her death!

Almost 18 years ago, my first husband died unexpectedly at age 26 from heart failure.  The pain and grief were hard to bear as a young widow, but after many months, I was able to find joy in the fact that his parents, sister, and her husband had found a church home and become Christians because of his death.  The Bible says God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.  It may not be what we want or how we would have planned things, but God can redeem each death and use it for His glory as we trust Him and proclaim Him as our God.

I pray that each person reading this has a personal relationship with God.  If you have questions or would like to pray to receive Christ, please let me know or talk to a trusted Christian friend or family member.  I don’t have all the answers nor am I perfect, but I know the One who is, and I would love to introduce you to the God I know. 

In the Eye of the Storm

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I am heartbroken. One of my students died suddenly and tragically in an accident yesterday, and her younger sister (also one of my students) was critically injured, but by the grace of God, she will survive. I woke up early this morning, thinking it was all a nightmare, that I had only dreamed this horrific news, but reality crashed over me as I recalled hugging my students and sobbing with them yesterday. There were no words. We just held each other and shared our grief. Please pray for our school, our students, and our teachers this week as we attempt to comfort one another and continue living with a hole in our lives.


I have had the song Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson stuck in my head all week, and I began to meditate on its comforting words this morning as I prayed for the family and friends of my students who were in the fatal accident.  I was reminded that God is still in control and that we can still trust Him even when terrible things happen to those we love.  I have copied some of the lyrics below, but you can click on the link above to watch the YouTube video with all the lyrics. 

When the solid ground is falling out from underneath my feet

Between the black skies, and my red eyes, I can barely see…

When my hopes and dreams are far from me

And I’m runnin’ out of faith

I see the future I picture slowly fade away

And when the tears of pain and heartache 

Are pouring down my face

I find my peace in Jesus’ name

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control

And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul

You alone are the anchor, When my sails are torn

Your love surrounds me, In the eye of the storm


Lord, I pray that you will guard the souls of these young people who may be confused and running out of faith.  We prayed for a miracle, and yet one of our sweet friends is walking on streets of gold.  We know she is even more joyful in Heaven than she was here on Earth, but it doesn’t lessen our sorrow that she will no longer be in our lives.  However, we do not grieve as unbelievers do because we know that we will see her again in Heaven and spend eternity together worshiping You.  Father, surround each of us with your love and comfort us with your peace.  Heal the younger sister and bind up her broken heart.  Thank you for allowing her to remain with us.  We know that you will make all of this work together for our good.  Help us not to lose sight of your eternal purpose as we grieve.  You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, “Blessed be Your name.”  I ask all this in the name of your son Jesus, who you gave to die for us.  Amen.

New Year, New Goals

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As we begin a new year, I am reviewing the goals I set at this time last year and setting new goals for myself for 2017.  I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because those just beg to be broken.  I prefer to set goals that are attainable yet challenging.  

I’m happy to report that flossing my teeth became a daily habit for me in 2016.  I only missed two days the whole year!  My dental hygienist even noticed that I have been taking better care of my teeth and gums.  Unfortunately, I did not fulfill my 2016 goal of working out for at least five minutes a day every day.  I did work out more in 2016 than 2015, so at least I am making progress.  Another goal I had for 2016 was to memorize the book of Ephesians.  I’m happy to report that I completed this scripture memorization challenge in October.  I had planned to memorize half a chapter each month, and I was doing well until school started. Then I ran out of books to read while working out, so I spent about a week studying verses from Ephesians for 20 minutes to an hour each day while on the elliptical.  I memorized most of chapter five and all of chapter six in record time that week!  The whole book of Ephesians is now on my weekly review ring, but I’ve been trying to review more than once a week because we will be studying Ephesians at church this spring, and I want to keep it fresh in my mind.

For 2017, I want to lose a few more pounds and then maintain that weight.  I did not reach my goal weight by the end of November, but I had made tremendous progress.  Between Christmas and New Year’s, I put on a several pounds, but those came off quickly this week.  I weighed 129.8 this morning, and that’s where my weight has hovered for a few months.  It’s time to shed those last five pounds!  I have been working out every day this week, and I am keeping a log of my workouts.  Along with my cardio exercise on our elliptical, I do two sets of my age in crunches each day and one set of 15 squats.  (I’ve learned that my knees can only handle 15 squats a day.)  I want to tone my arms and build muscle because I arm-wrestled my son last week, and he won!  He’s not quite eleven years old.  I need to stay stronger than him for a few more years at least, so I have been doing bicep curls, tricep extensions, and tricep kickbacks in addition to push-ups each day (except rest days).  I have researched types of push-ups and why you should do your age in push-ups each day, and I have been working towards doing a set of 38 full push-ups for a few months now.  I have gotten so much stronger and faster, my feet are close together now (not several inches apart, which was easier), and I’m getting closer to the floor on my push-ups.  Many people say they can’t do push-ups, but anyone can do a wall push-up and progressively reduce the incline as they get stronger. I challenge you to get to your age (or at least half if you are over 50) in push-ups by the end of 2017.  


I am now memorizing Psalm 119, which contains 176 verses, making it the longest chapter in the Bible!  The whole book of Ephesians only has 155 verses, so it will definitely be a challenge to completely memorize the whole chapter this year.  This acrostic poem is divided into 22 stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so I will need to memorize approximately two stanzas a month.  Fortunately, I started several weeks ago and have already memorized 12 verses.  I only have 154 to go!

What goals have you made for 2017?

ALL Lives Matter

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ALL Lives Matter

Black lives matter.  Police lives matter.  All lives matter.  My heart is broken over the senseless murders committed yesterday evening in Dallas.  My prayers are with all the families that have lost a loved one regardless of the color of their skin.  I am so deeply saddened that we live in a country where no one feels safe anymore.

Disney’s The BFG is in theaters now, and I am planning to take my older two children once we finish reading the book. Yesterday afternoon we read these observant words uttered by the BFG, “Human beans [beings] is the only animals that is killing their own kind.”  The BFG went on to say, “The human beans is making rules to suit themselves.”   

Roald Dahl wrote these words over 30 years ago, and people have continued to kill each other and justify those killings to suit themselves.  From Cain and Abel to present day, men have killed each other, and it appears to only be getting worse. 

I have been memorizing the book of Ephesians since January, and I am now in the middle of chapter four.  Ephesians is a wonderful book, and there are several verses I love, but one verse that has struck me as culturally relevant the past week is verse 18. 

I had originally thought of this verse in regards to politics, but it applies to all people who have hardened their hearts.  If you have hatred and bitterness in your heart, you will not understand the whole situation, you will be ignorant to the facts, and you will be blinded by your hatred.  The truth is we can’t do this without God.  True peace is not possible without Christ.  

For he [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.  His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”   Ephesians 2:14-16 (NIV)

Today, my family and I attended a moment of silence, prayer, and remembrance in support of our local police officers.  I broke down in tears as I explained to my children where we were going and why we needed to show our appreciation for our police officers.  After the mayor and police chief spoke, we all joined hands around the room for a moment of silence and a prayer.  As chance would have it, I stood next to and gladly held the hand of a lovely, black woman.  We stood united in love and support of our police officers as we prayed for the protection of our officers and those they are called to serve. 

God has destroyed the barrier between races through Christ and the cross.  We can be reconciled and live in peace only through the cross of Christ.  Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:31 to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”  We can’t do that on our own, but with Christ in us, we can do all things.  I urge all believers to lead the way in forgiving each other and seeking reconciliation with others.  Let our compassion soften the hearts of the unbelievers as we speak the truth in love. 

Ephesians 2

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I have been memorizing the book of Ephesians this year and challenging others to do the same.  I started working on chapter two at the beginning of March.  I was getting stressed as the month started drawing to a close because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish memorizing the chapter in the next few days.  Then I realized last night that I had only committed to memorizing half of a chapter each month, so I have another month to finish memorizing chapter two.  Whew!

  I loved seeing a friend post these verses on Facebook for Easter a couple of days ago.  I had been so focused on memorizing the words that I hadn’t focused on the full import of their meaning.  Praise God that his incomparable grace and kindness is still being shown and expressed to us in Christ Jesus!

Ephesians 1:13-14

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted a scripture memorization challenge and pledged to post updates on my progress to hold myself accountable.  I think it took me longer to memorize these last two verses than it did the first 12.  I leave my set of cards on my bathroom counter where I can recite each morning the ones I have already memorized, and then I can meditate on the ones I am learning while I finish getting ready in the morning or as I am washing my hands throughout the day.  I surprised myself last night when I recited this verse in my head while putting my oldest to bed.  (He wants me to massage his neck and back while he reads each night.)  I wasn’t certain I had remembered the verses correctly, but I recited it again while getting myself ready for bed, and I had it memorized–finally!

My goal is to memorize half of a chapter each month, so I am on target.  I need to make cards for the rest of chapter one and start meditating on them.  If it took me a week to learn these last two verses, I better get started on the rest of the chapter, since February is a shorter month. 

My mom, my mother-in-law, and one friend (that I know of) have accepted my challenge to memorize Ephesians.  I also have a few friends who are memorizing Philippians this year.  What verses are you learning?

Ephesians 1:7-12

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If you haven’t been following my personal challenge, I am memorizing the book of Ephesians this year.  My goal is to memorize half of a chapter each month.  Yesterday and this morning, I memorized verses seven through ten of chapter one.  I usually try to learn verses in smaller groups, but Paul and the scholars who divided his letters into chapters and verses could not work together.  Therefore, Paul’s sentences do not end with the verses, so this group was more challenging to learn.  

Paul repeats similar phrases often but not exactly, so I sometimes mix up phrases like “his glorious grace” and “the riches of God’s grace.”  Paul also uses the title “Christ Jesus” often but will inject the appellation “Jesus Christ” occasionally, so I come up with acrostics to help me remember different things.  In verse five, “for adoption to sonship” spells FATS and “through Jesus Christ” is TJC, which is the name of a junior college near my hometown.  

If you have accepted my challenge, let me know how you are learning Ephesians.  I have several friends who were challenged by their pastor to memorize Philippians this year.  If you are working on Philippians or another book, you are welcome to comment on your progress as well. 

Ephesians 1:3-6

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Leslie, a follower of Christ Jesus by the grace of God,

To God’s holy people in America and around the world, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, wasn’t that better than, “Hi, everyone!”?  I love when I can pray scripture over my children and those who have requested prayer.  Beginning a missive with Paul’s words, adds a depth and richness that my own words usually lack. 

  
If you have accepted my challenge to memorize Ephesians with me, I hope you are learning the first few verses.  Since verse 3 was short, I went ahead and memorized it Wednesday with the first two verses of chapter one.  Today, I am learning verses four through six.  

Paul didn’t write his letters with verses in mind, so some of his sentences encompass a few verses.  Apparently, the first scholars to divide the books into chapters and verses had trouble deciding where some prepositional phrases should go, so I grouped these three verses together to complete his train of thought. 

Remember that God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” so have a very blessed day!

Ephesians 1:1-2

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Yesterday I posted a challenge to memorize the book of Ephesians in 2016.  I haven’t had anyone respond that they are willing to participate in this challenge with me, but I will press on toward my goal.  Since I started almost two weeks into this first month, I am planning to memorize Ephesians 1:1-14 by the 21st and the remainder of chapter one by the end of January.  Last week, my Bible study was focused on Ephesians 1:3-14, which inspired me to memorize this book, so these verses are familiar to me.  Now, I just need to dedicate them to memory.  Today, I am focusing on the first two verses.

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Wouldn’t our lives be richer if we still addressed our letters in this way?  Instead of simply, “Dear People of Ephesus,” Paul offered an affirmation and an encouragement to the Ephesians in his greeting.  Rather than sign his name at the end of the letter, Paul began with a bold declaration of who he is in Christ.  Don’t be surprised if I begin using this introduction in my blog posts!