Who Am I?

I am Leigh. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, sister, friend. I’m a clown, writer, poet, crafter, lunch lady, nerd, fountain of useless knowledge. I am high-strung, emotional, stubborn, loving, loyal, creative. 


I’m sure my friends and family could add some stuff. And the world could add more. But none of that really matters.

A large part of my counseling sessions have been dedicated to making sure I know exactly who I am. And the truth is, as fitting as these labels may be, they aren’t really who I am.  Who am I, then? I am a child of God!

I’m sure at this point many of you are saying, “well, sure Leigh, but you’re still what you listed earlier.” While all those titles may be accurate (some more than others!), the person I truly am is who God says I am.

Now, before you start thinking I’m splitting hairs, hang in here with me for a minute.

Here are a few things the Bible says about me:

• I am a child of God.

But to all who have received him–those who believe in his name–he has given the right to become God’s children … (John 1:12).



• I am a friend of Jesus.

I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father (John 15:15).
• I have been justified and redeemed.

But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).



• My old self was crucified with Christ, and I am no longer a slave to sin.

We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6).



• I will not be condemned by God.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).



• As a child of God, I am a fellow heir with Christ.

And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)–if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:17).



• I have been called to be a saint.

… To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2). (See also Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 1:1, and Colossians 1:2.)



• In Christ Jesus, I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption … (1 Corinthians 1:30).



• My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 6:19)?
• I am a new creature in Christ.

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)!



• I have become the righteousness of God in Christ.

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).



• I am no longer a slave, but a child and an heir.

So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God (Galatians 4:7).



• I have been set free in Christ.

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).



• I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).



• I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.

For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love (Ephesians 1:4).
• My new self is righteous and holy.

Put on the new man who has been created in God’s image–in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth (Ephesians 4:24).



• The peace of God guards my heart and mind.

And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).



• God supplies all my needs.

And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).



• I have been made complete in Christ.

You have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority (Colossians 2:10).



Now, I know that’s a long list. But I want you to read it again. Slowly. And absorb the things God says about you. And know that this is a small portion of the wonderful attributes we have in Christ Jesus.

Okay. Did you read it again? Let’s keep rolling!

I think it’s vitally important to remember who we really are. In fact, I think it’s so important that the enemy of our soul spends a lot of time trying to make us forget or trying to deceive us into believing that we are the “less than” image the world like to project on us. 

Why is it important to remember who you are? Because if you forget, you may forget to do the things you’re supposed to do. If I forget that I’m a mom, I may not take good care of my kids. If I forget that I’m a lunch lady, I may forget to go to work. 

Likewise, if I forget who God says I am, I may forget to act like it. I don’t believe God puts us on this earth and saves us for no reason. I believe He intends for us to use our gifts to help others. And He wants us to tell others about Him. If we forget who we are, we can’t point people back to God. And we can’t experience the richness of His presence the way He intends.

So. Who are you? If you’re still not sure, go back and read the list again. Then get out there and show the world who they’re dealing with!

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

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Yesterday, the best friend and I had an impromptu adventure day. We started out going to a new place for lunch. It turned out that this new place was an hour away in the middle of nowhere. 

As we were leaving, the gps directions were a bit vague, and I missed the first turn. The gps quickly recalculated and sent us down another road. A couple of miles down that road, we passed a sign that said, “pavement ends.” Amy and I looked at each other, shrugged, and kept going. 

When we made it to a paved road, we sighed with relief and kept rolling, carefully following the gps directions. Surely we were going to be on pavement for the rest of the trip!

Or maybe not. 

The next turn looked harmless enough. It was a fairly narrow road in the middle of farmland and pastures. Quite beautiful. Then, we saw it. Another yellow sign announcing the end of the pavement. 

This road was more bumpy, more narrow, more curvy. We were praying we didn’t come up on a vehicle coming the other way! 

As we were laughing about the fact that our lunch at a new place turned into an adventure, Amy pointed out that this trip was very much like life. Just because the road is bumpy and narrow doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong road.

Oh my! Yep. Truth.

So often, when we become Christians, we think our path is going to be smooth and easy. I’m not sure where we get that crazy idea, because in John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In fact, Jesus’ life wasn’t easy. Neither were the apostles’ lives. So it’s unrealistic to think we’ll never have troubles.

What to do, then, when you hit a dirt road? Well, I think the physical is a great parallel to the spiritual. Keep your eyes on the road. Keep going. Follow the directions. Trust the voice guiding you. 

Life can take some crazy, hard, unexpected turns. But just because it’s not going the way you thought it would or should, doesn’t mean it’s not God’s plan for you! Look at Joseph. His story can be found in Genesis (chapters 37-46). The short Leigh version is that he was sold by his brothers, but God was in control the whole time. He ended up in the royal palace and had the plan to save the country when the famine hit. Joseph reunited with his brothers and assured them that what they had meant for evil God meant for good. (Definitely go read it for yourself!). The point is, God had the plan the whole time and Joseph was the on His path, even when he felt like he had been forgotten.

Just like us. Just because you find yourself in the middle of nowhere on a bumpy gravel road doesn’t mean You weren’t supposed to be there. God’s plan is always better than ours. Yes, even when it doesn’t make sense.

So, remember, if your road is bumpy and unfamiliar and not at all what you expected, Hod most likely is right in the midst of it! Trust Him. He won’t lead you astray!

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

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The Pit Revisited

I have vowed to write this blog with honesty and transparency. I have shared my struggles in hopes that someone else could be helped by the lessons God was teaching me. But I haven’t written lately. I haven’t been able to bare my soul. I didn’t want you to know. I’ve felt God urging me to write. And I’ve resisted.
Until today.
This morning, I heard the song “Even If” by MercyMe and it broke me. The lyrics are:

They say sometimes you win some

Sometimes you lose some

And right now, right now I’m losing bad

I’ve stood on this stage night after night

Reminding the broken it’ll be alright

But right now, oh right now I just can’t

It’s easy to sing

When there’s nothing to bring me down

But what will I say

When I’m held to the flame

Like I am right now

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith

To move a mountain

Well good thing

A little faith is all I have, right now

But God, when You choose

To leave mountains unmovable

Oh give me the strength to be able to sing

It is well with my soul

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt

Would all go away if You’d just say the word

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good

All of my days

Jesus, I will cling to You

Come what may

‘Cause I know You’re able

I know You can

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow, I know the hurt

Would all go away if You’d just say the word

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone

It is well with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul
You see, I’ve avoided writing because I’ve been in a place I never thought I’d visit again.
Depression.
I hate even typing it out for you to see. I’d rather hide behind the disguise of “everything’s okay.” But it’s not. I’m not.

God used this song to remind me that He has a job for me, even on the days that I don’t feel it. His truths haven’t changed.
The last time I visited the pit, I didn’t think I’d make it out alive. Most days I didn’t want to make it out alive. Life hurt too much. But then, God helped me. And Psalm 34:4-5 became my life verse. “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.” (NASB). I came out of the pit an entirely different woman! This caterpillar had shed her cocoon and spread her wings and learned to fly.

Fast forward almost 8 years and here we go again. I’m not sure what happened. Life, I guess. 
When I realized that I had slipped into that dreaded place again, I did what I had promised if the occasion called for it. I took myself to the doctor for medicine to help the physical symptoms. And I took the advice of a friend and went to a counselor. 
The meds are helping take the edge off, the tears at bay, and the mood slightly elevated. The counselor is a Christian counselor and pastor and is helping me with the emotional and spiritual aspects of the depression. My wings haven’t regrown, but I live with the hope that soon, I’ll be soaring again.
I don’t tell you all this for sympathy. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, I have avoided telling it. But I believe someone may be helped by my transparency.
Know this: I know that God is good. All the time. He loves us with an unshakable, unchangeable, everlasting love. His promises are still true. Right now, my favorite is that He will never leave or forsake me. I know He alone is my hope. 
So. Enough about me. How are you? Is life shaking your faith? I understand. God is faithful. Trust Him to see you through the mess. And if you’re not struggling, walk with someone who is. Help bear their burden. Love them. Pray for them. And remind them of God’s promises. You may just be the calm voice in their storm.
Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

Even If

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Tangible Love

I believe everyone has times when they wonder if they make a difference, if they matter to folks, if they are loved. We live in a crazy, busy, hectic world full of superficial relationships and untended friendships. We “like” pictures and posts on Facebook to let folks know that we’re acknowledging them. But, how often do we reach out and let people know, in a meaningful way, that they are important?

Ouch. I’m stepping on my own toes here! I am absolutely guilty of letting life get in the way of a personal connection – a lunch with a friend, a handwritten note, an email of encouragement…or whatever else the Lord may be prompting me to do if I would be still long enough to listen. I think the unintended consequence is that we can end up feeling alone. 

A few weeks ago, I was more than a little shocked when I opened my paycheck. I squinted really hard at the total, hoping and praying that, somehow, I had read it wrong. Nope. There it was. In black and white. $1.72.  I had no money in my account and was counting on my paycheck to pay a house payment and maybe buy a few Christmas gifts. I was absolutely sick with fear. And embarrassment. And yes, I felt alone.

But God.

God is good, y’all! All the time!

God made sure that I knew He hadn’t forgotten me. He sent love in tangible forms. A Coke from a friend. Some Christmas socks. Cash from someone who normally wouldn’t have it to give. Money from the best friend. Then, some cards in the mail. With checks! And, more than that, they had very special hand-written notes telling me how I had touched their lives.

Those notes completed undid me. I sat in the Walmart parking lot, sobbing. These sweet ladies had all seen my need and helped meet it. But, somehow they saw my heart’s need and met it also. My gratitude is deeper than what I’ll ever be able to express. In fact, I’ve been remiss in sending thank you cards because I simply haven’t known what to write. 

Friends, read this carefully. You matter. You have the opportunity every single day to make a difference. Money doesn’t have to be involved, but sometimes it surely will be. Be still. Listen to God’s promptings. Learn to hear His voice in the midst of the bedlam. What seems little to you may make a world of difference to the other person.

So. Just do it. Send the note. Give some money. Take the meal. Offer a hug. Pray the prayer. God uses people every single day. All He needs is a willing vessel. Will you be that vessel and be a part of what He’s doing? I surely want to be!

Be blessed and tell (show!) someone you love them.

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Trust the Process

One of my favorite older movies is Doc Hollywood. It’s about a “city” doctor on his way to Hollywood to work as a plastic surgeon. He got stuck in the small town of Grady, SC when he was diverted from the interstate and plowed into a fence with his beloved vintage car. 

One of the scenes shows the local mechanic working on the car, with parts strewed everywhere. The young doctor walks in and freaks out. The mechanic tries to calm him and points out that this was no different from him walking in halfway through a surgery and freaking out when a person’s intestines are pulled out. Disgusting picture. But excellent point.

Sometimes, I feel like my life is that way. I do what I think is right and it seems to blow up right in my face. I have definitely had a couple weeks like that. Tiny pay checks, the skunk-smelling dog and a blown-out tire have all made me feel like my life parts are strewn all over the world and I’m standing before God freaking out, trying to figure out exactly where I went wrong.

Finally, yesterday, I threw my hands in the air and said, “Okay, Lord, I’ve done all I can do. It’s all You now!” I got His gentle voice with that message I’ve heard so many time. “Trust Me.” And with it came a measure of peace I haven’t experienced in days. 

So often, we have a prescribed journey for our lives. Or a checklist that must be completed before we feel like we’ve accomplished anything. But, I’ve learned that God rarely does things the way I think they should be done. But His way is always best. Sometimes though, it simply makes no sense this side of eternity. And those are the moments I think we have to breathe, surrender our plan and trust that, since God sees the whole picture, His plan is going to work best – even if it seems like chaos in the moment.

So. Are you feeling chaotic? Stressed? Freaking out? Can’t figure out who it’s all going together? Breathe. God’s got this.

Remember:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Because:

 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

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Wherever You Go

If you read my blog Thursday, then you know about the mini saga of Bruno and the skunk. My curious, playful dog thought he had found a new playmate. The new friend wasn’t amused and sprayed Bruno. At 2:30am. Although we washed him as quickly as possible, he had touched enough stuff that my house reeks. And Thursday, I reeked. So much so that I earned myself the nickname polecat. 

The worse thing about smelling like a skunk, other than offending my co-workers’ sinuses, was that I couldn’t get away from it. I couldn’t escape the smell because the smell was me! 

It made me think of a favorite phrase of a former pastor. He would say, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

What he was referring to was the propensity of people to simply change locations when they weren’t happy. Offended? Leave the church. Mad? Quit your job. Unhappy? Get a divorce. But, changing locations won’t help if you take the problem with you. And often, we are our own worst enemy.

It brings us back to the scripture we used yesterday. In Luke 7:45, Jesus said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” NIV

The only way to change what’s on the inside is to put better stuff in. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We know that we become a new creation when we accept Christ. I believe Paul is telling us that we need to fight the battle in our head by spending time with Jesus everyday. How do we do that? Talk to Him. Have an ongoing conversation. Listen to a sermon. Read your Bible. Learn to see things from a godly worldview, rather than from a self-view. Only then will some situations become bearable.

There’s a song that was release by the Christian group FFH in 2000 that has often been a prayer of mine.  Here’s the chorus:
Lord move in a way that I’ve never seen before. ‘Cause there’s a mountain in the way and a lock on the door I’m drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore. So Lord move, or move me.

So. Are you somewhere you don’t want to be? Ask God to show you what He’s trying to change. Spend time in His presence. I believe He will answer and move or move you.

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

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When You’re Bumped

I heard a quote recently that I really liked. I liked it so much, I put it as my Facebook status. James McDonald says, “When you bump a person they spill what they are full of.” 

It has been my experience that, when God is teaching us something, He’ll tell us first, then test us in it, in the same way Jesus taught the disciples about faith just before they were on a boat in the midst of a raging storm. I do believe God’s trying to see if I was listening because I’ve gotten bumped in the last 24 hours.

It started with a casual conversation about tattoos. I don’t have one (yet) but have many friends who do. A friend at work informed me that she thinks tattoos are trashy. And that we shouldn’t have them. But she’s not sure why – she was taught that way. Bump.

Later, I got my paycheck stub. My monthly paycheck stub. I opened it and my total pay was $1.72. For a month. One dollar and seventy two cents. Did I mention this was my monthly paycheck? And I’m full time? BUMP!

I wish I could say I handled these things with grace. That when I was bumped only good stuff spilled out. But. Well. Y’all know I’m pretty chronically human, right? Yeah, I held a most-of-the-day grudge against my friend and cried like a baby when I saw my paycheck.

I spent the whole afternoon and early evening trying to figure out how to get my insurance deductions to a manageable number so I would actually get a paycheck. By the end of the day, I had some ideas but no real solutions. I did, however, have some good time with God and He reminded me that He was still in control. So, at least I had a measure of peace. I declared it a day and got myself to bed before 9pm.

Fast forward to 2:30am. I got up for a bathroom break and our dog, Bruno, decided that he needed to go also. So, Keith, being the sweet husband he is, got up to walk Bruno out. A few minutes later, I started smelling skunk. Shortly after that, Keith walked in and informed me that Bruno had been trying to play with a skunk. The skunk wasn’t amused and sprayed Bruno right in the face!

Oh my. The smell. I have no words to properly describe the stench that filled my house and nostrils. Or the lurch my stomach made at that smell. Bumped again.

A quick search on Google yielded a recipe for skunk wash. As Keith and I were gathering our wits and supplies, we stopped and looked at each other. The absolute absurdity of the situation struck us and we started laughing. 

James McDonald’s quote is really just another way to say what Jesus told us in the gospels. He said, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” 

Hmmm.

Here’s the entire paragraph where that statement is found:

“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:43-45, KJV

See. Jesus said whatever is in you is what’s going to come out. As a preacher friend used to say, “What’s in the well comes up in the bucket.”

Honestly, I’m not terribly proud of what spilled out when I was initially bumped. Clearly, I had some pride and fear right at the surface, ready to bubble out. 

But, God.

He’s so good, isn’t He?!

God gathered my heart close to Himself and reminded me that I am His and He is in control. In Him, we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28, NIV. Only with His help can I be the woman described in Proverbs 31. Ny favorite verse in that chapter says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” v. 25, NIV.

I want to confidently say that only good stuff will be spilled today if (when) I am bumped. That may not be true. But I hope I’m able to laugh.

So. How about you? What comes out when you’re bumped? If it’s something you don’t like, spend some time with Jesus. Let Him fill you with good stuff. And if you’re already filled with good stuff? Spill that around. I’m sure somebody in your life could use it!

Be blessed and tell someone you love them.

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