Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Just Another Love Story Ladies Conference Info

Once our hectic schedules of the holidays are a thing of the past, it's time to take a well-deserved break and join us for a ladies weekend get-a-way in the Charlotte area at NarroWay Productions where we will all gather and enjoy some time of rest and rejuvenation together while growing in our faith and being reminded of God's deep and abiding love for us!

DATE:   FEBRUARY 3 and 4, 2012 

EVENT:  Not Just Another Love Story Ladies Conference 
(NarroWay is located just south of Charlotte, NC just off Interstate 77 at the Carowinds Boulevard Exit).

The Not Just Another Love Story Ladies Conference is the first of its kind!  It will include:

  • a powerful Broadway-style dinner theater show from NarroWay Productions (dinner compliments of NarroWay - no need to do the dishes, ladies!) The show is based on the Biblical book of Hosea and set in the 1940's during World World 2
  • powerful worship and praise with recording artist and worship leader, Cindy Kessler along with Paige Brydon and Kendra Husband from Steele Creek Church of Charlotte's own worship team
  • Three bible-based sessions that will focus on our "heart condition" from Leslie Nease, International Speaker and Weekend Radio Host on HIS Radio
  • lunch served on Saturday, compliments of Narroway Productions.  
  • Cost is just $95 per person!
Just to whet your appetite for what is to come, here is a video preview of the Friday night show, Not Just Another Love Story:




Here's the schedule for the weekend get-a-way:

Friday Night: 
6:00pm-9:30pm Not Just Another Love Story and dinner at NarroWay Productions
(Menu will be tender pork loin, home-style stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, buttered cream peas, oven-baked apple crisp, dinner roll, sweet iced tea or water)

Saturday: 
9:00am-9:20 Worship with Cindy, Paige and Kendra
9:20-10:30 - Session #1 w/Leslie Nease (Testimony in Drama - The Heart of the Matter)
10:30-10:50 - Break 
10:50-11:20 Worship with Cindy, Paige and Kendra
11:20-12:30 - Session #2 w/Leslie Nease (Heart Troubles)
12:30-12:45 - Break
12:45-1:30 - Lunch
1:30-1:50 - Worship with Cindy, Paige and Kendra
1:50-3:00 - Session #3 w/Leslie Nease (Heart Overflow)

Tickets are limited!  Please order your seats early!

To register online, please click here and click the "Register Now!" button.  Then click "Select Tickets" where you will then choose the option "Heart Conference Package" and after you choose your seat, you will be led through the rest of the registration process.

To order over the phone or to find out more info on local lodging discounts, call NarroWay at 803-802-2300.

For more information on the sessions, please contact Leslie at lnease@leslienease.com or call 704-617-3108.

See you in February!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Mother's Heart

I've often thought that what a blessing it would have been to be chosen by God to carry His Son, Jesus.  When Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, saw Mary and understood that she was carrying the Messiah, she said "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" Even Mary knew she was blessed.  In Luke 1:48 she said "from this time on all generations will count me blessed."


And she's right, we do consider her blessed.  But I'm beginning to also see that with that blessing came tremendous difficulty.  As a mother of four, I cannot imagine the pain and anguish Mary also had to go through, even though she was blessed.  Kids are a blessing, no doubt about it.  But any mom can tell you that with that tremendous blessing comes some intense vulnerability as we begin to love more deeply than we ever thought possible. With that blessing comes deep pain as we begin to let go of them.

Can you imagine how Mary must have felt as she helplessly watched her son carry the cross down the streets while people mocked Him, spit on Him, hurled insults at Him and whipped Him?  What about how she must have felt as she watched Him die on the cross while Roman soldiers tortured Him, little by little, until He finally took His last breath?

I know deep down in her Mom heart, Mary wanted to rescue Jesus, to step in and make it all go away.  I cannot help but remember the times my son, Tommy, would fall on the soccer field as a young boy and I would jump up out of my chair, run over, bandage the knee, give it a "mommy kiss" and wipe his tears.  I would be at his side before I realized what was happening!  What restraint and resolve Mary had to be able to watch and not intervene in the sufferings of Christ, her son.

Where did Mary get that resolve?  How did she get so strong?  In Luke 2:19, we read that as the Shepherds gathered around a newborn baby Jesus, Mary "treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart."  In Luke 1:33 we see she marveled at the things that were said about Jesus as Simeon prophesied about Him.  Mary knew these were moments she should treasure and ponder in her heart.  She also pondered it in her heart when Jesus was twelve years old and He had been sitting in the temple in the midst of teachers, asking them questions and listening to them for three days.

That word "ponder" in the original Greek means to "struggle with".  I wonder if she knew that since He would end up sacrificing His life, she would need the strength that these important and inspired events would give to her in the future?

As a mother, I often find myself pondering important and beautiful moments in my childrens' lives.  For instance, when my 6-year old Tommy (who is now 19) looked up at me and said "Mommy, God did a really good job when He made you. Can I marry you?"  Or when a 5-year old Stephanie (now 22) looked at the bright moon on a clear night and said "God must have cleaned heaven today."  Or when a bad dream invaded sweet 6-year old Peyton (now 11) and she ran to my bedside and said "Mommy, can I sleep in your room tonight? I feel closer to Jesus when I'm with you because you remind me of Him."  There was also the time when a 3-year old Kennedy (now 13) said "Mommy, I want to be just like you when I grow up".   

These and many other special moments fill my mom-heart with joy.  I can draw on these moments when things get rough in their lives and I find myself unable to make the pain go away with a "mommy kiss".  I have to watch helplessly on the sidelines as they are knocked down in life and instead of jumping up to make them "all better" I watch them get up, dust themselves off and say, "I'm good!"  I have to trust as I let them go, one by one, that I've done all I can to raise them right.  I have to trust that they know I'm there for them, even if I can't make all the hurts and consequences of wrong choices go away.  I have to trust that God has a plan for their lives - even if that plan may include allowing pain with a purpose into their lives.

I am strengthened as I ponder the truths of God's Word each day.  Verses like Proverbs 22:6 "Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" and "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6) give me tremendous peace as a mother!  Knowing God's Word and treasuring the important and special moments in our childrens lives can give us courage as we all let go or watch them go through difficult times and help us to trust God with their lives.  After all, He loves them even more than we do (hard to believe but true!).

Mary and Jesus both knew that the pain He went through had a purpose.  It didn't make it easy, but I can see that God's grace strengthened them and helped them through those difficult times.  Yes, we call Mary blessed - but deep down I know that with that blessing came tremendous difficulties, heart wrenching pain and a resolve to allow it all to happen because she trusted God's plan for His life.

As I ponder these things in my heart this morning, my prayer is simple..."Lord, please give me grace and strength to trust Your plan for my children's lives - even if it doesn't make sense to my mom-heart."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's the Most Fattening Time of the Year!


It’s the most fattening time of the year!
There’ll be much over-eating; on diets we’re cheating
Til the the New Year is here...
It’s the most fattening time of the year!

It’s the nap-nappiest season of all!
While food is digesting, our bodies are resting
Can’t get into gear…
It’s the most fattening time of the year!

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling with lots of cocoa
There’ll be food inventories
And tales of the glories
Of Christmas feasts long, long ago!

It’s the most fattening time of the year!
There’ll be much egg nog flowing
And muffin-tops showing
As extra weight starts to appear…
It’s the most fattening time of the year!

It’s the most fattening time…
It’s the most fattening time…
It’s the most fattening time….of the year!

Sorry, friends - I couldn't resist. :)  Made this up on Thanksgiving to be sung to the tune "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year".  Love you all!




Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

In celebration of the coming festivities, I wanted to share this poem that I like to share annually, which I wrote a few years ago as I lamented the Holiday party pounds I seemed to gain each year!  Hope you will enjoy it...


(Photo by Carol McDaniel Photography)

Twas the night before Christmas, when to my surprise
I saw in the mirror someone I didn't recognize.

I was too busy to notice the weight I'd put on,
The holidays were upon me and soon they'd be gone.

The cookies, the pies, the holiday cheer!
Who cares about the weight? I'll just lose it next year.

Nobody will notice - it's winter, you see.
I'll just wear big sweaters and many layers to cover me.

January will be here and I'll join the local gym.
That's when my resolution will kick in!

I'll work and I'll sweat and I'll lose all the weight!
I'll do all I can to fit into my size eight.

Wait!  Didn't I say that I'd do that last year?
When my size was a six before my holiday cheer?

But it's never too late to start eating right!
So I'll put out the cookies and this battle I will fight.

I really do mean it - I've got to feel better.
I can't spend the summer hiding in this big sweater!

So here I go, look out!  I'm ready to sweat!
This Christmas season I will not regret.

And you'll hear me exclaim as I jog out of sight...
"Merry Christmas to all - may your clothes not be tight!"
 
 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God's Greatest Teachers in My Life

My two youngest girls have been teaching me a lot about faith lately.  I always enjoy learning from my children (they are the greatest tools God uses to teach me!).  As a matter of fact, my oldest daughter, Stephanie, is one of those whom God used to show me what a real relationship with Jesus looks like!  You can read about my story with her by clicking here.  Lately, my two girls who are still at home have been teaching me such deep and powerful truths.  Now, it's not as if they set out to do it intentionally, but as I watch them live their lives and learn to love and trust Jesus more, I am learning and growing myself.
Kennedy & Peyton

My 11-year old daughter, Peyton, has been showing tremendous faith recently.  This morning I shared on my facebook and twitter accounts something she said during the tornado warning last night that just blew me away.  During the storm, we had to move to the basement in order to stay safe (it was literally within a few miles of us) and as we sat down there, I realized she was calm.  She even had a smile. This is a little girl that used to be afraid of everything!  She said, with complete confidence, "Mom, I'm not afraid of this tornado. God told me that He has big plans for my life and I haven't done anything big yet."  I was speechless.  I don't know that I have ever trusted God so much in the midst of such a literal storm!  I think she just did something big - at least in my heart!

Here's another example:  A few nights ago, she was sleeping in my room with me.  She was talking with me before we turned out the lights about how many people were believers in the world.  She heard someone say 2 billion.  But she knew there were 7 billion people in the world.  She was very concerned about this and so I told her to pray about it and see what God would say.  We turned out the lights and I rolled over to go to sleep.  A few minutes later I hear her sweet little voice, "Mom!  Is there a verse in John 16:3?"  I said, yes, but I wasn't sure what it said.  I asked her why.  She said she asked God why so many people were not Christians in the world.  So I looked it up.  This is what it said:

John 16:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 This is because they have never known the Father or me.
Peyton & Kennedy in younger years!

We were both shocked!  Peyton gasped and wondered if God does that all the time with us!  Could this be a coincidence?  No, I don't think so.  I don't believe in coincidences.  A man I used to know who passed away several years ago used to say, "There are no coincidences, only God-cidences!"  I believe that. 

I also have a 13-year old daughter named Kennedy.  I was watching The Passion of the Christ with her the other day and was so struck by how much of the movie she knew was prophetic or scriptural.  She'd comment, "Mom, wasn't that to fulfill the prophecy about how Jesus would refuse the drink on the cross?" or she would say, "Mom, I'm so amazed how God knew the Jewish people would crucify Jesus but He allowed it because it was all a part of His plan."  Seriously?  At 13 she is noticing this stuff?  I looked her in the eye and said, "Kennedy, I didn't realize you've really been listening all these years!"  She giggled.  I'm ashamed to admit I never thought they were really listening.  I thought maybe those teachings were too deep for them to grasp.  I was wrong.

God is doing something big in our children's lives!  Let's not miss it.  Remember, the prophet Isaiah spoke..."A little child shall lead them." Are we attentive to our children and are we helping them build their faith?  They are listening.  They can handle more than we could ever imagine.  They are hearing from God, I believe this with all of my heart.  Do we have the faith of a child?  Because they have the kind of faith we all desperately need.  Faith that doesn't question.  Faith that believes.  Faith that keeps us from fear.

Peyton and I were reminded the other night, there are 5 billion people in the world who have never known Jesus.  We are here to lead them to Jesus!  And how will they be led to Him through our example if our faith is frail and based on the wisdom of the world?  I want the faith of a child.  I'm so thankful God has given my children to me as an example.  They are not perfect (let's be real here!), but they are listening and they are growing in their faith every single day!  What a blessing.



 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sigur Ros - Fljotavik (Icelandic Music)

Sometimes you don't need to understand the language to understand the heart behind the music.  I think this group has one of the most unique and beautiful sounds I've ever heard.  The group is called Sigur Ros and they are from beautiful Iceland.  This video has a message we can all relate to...we all love, we have all lost and we all must go on in spite of our pain.  Life is not always "fair" but there is always Hope.  Always.

Though I cannot understand Icelandic, I wanted to give you the English translation of this song in case you were wondering:

We see over spars
a sea, we're cutting from
We're sailing on the mast of faith
We're sailing, stretching ourselves
to the steersman on the bridge.
We're sailing on the land
on a big stone, on the sand
We're wading into land
unknown place
Yes, ...
I felt myself happy there.
We are really thankful
in the pail of disaster's house.
And we slept...fell asleep
the scary storm was outside...far away.

For those of you who may be wondering...Sigur Ros is not a "Christian" band, but I do believe God has gifted these guys with a powerful talent and even though I cannot understand the words, I can definitely appreciate the music and the art behind it.  Enjoy! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Interview with Erik and Jaime Huffman

This is their original Zhan Hu Tribe - Jaime & Erik met when they were cast for Survivor China in 2007.
For the latest Real Life with Leslie Nease Podcast, I'd like to introduce you to my fellow Survivor China castaways and now dear friends, Jaime & Erik Huffman.  We sat down at their one-year old son's birthday party a few weeks ago and chatted about all of the amazing ways their lives have changed since competing on the show in 2007.  

Erik and Jaime were not on my tribe on Survivor, but I had the opportunity to spend some time with them on the show when their tribe "kidnapped" me as part of a challenge.  Jaime and I got to know each other very well when our tribe kidnapped her as part of a reward challenge, too!  You will love getting to know them and hearing their story.  God definitely had a plan for their lives - beyond what they could have ever imagined - when He sent them to China and introduced them to each other in such a unique way!  They may not have won the million dollar prize, but they won so much more.  They met each other on the show and now have a wonderful life together in the Greenville, SC area.

Below is the podcast link - enjoy the show and enjoy meeting some very special people in my life - Jaime and Erik Huffman.
Dancing at their wedding in 2009
Their Rehearsal Dinner Cake! (ha!)


Me meeting Harper Huffman for the first time - I was moved to tears. :)




Harper's 1st Birthday Party!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is Jesus a Crutch?

Someone asked me once if Jesus was just a "crutch" in my life. This person thought it was weak of me to depend on something (or someone) other than myself and he thought people who claim to follow Jesus were just using Him as a crutch - an excuse to not deal with the reality of life.

When he first asked me this, I was really taken back. Of course I said "No way! He's not a crutch to me at all!" I never thought of Jesus as a "crutch" and certainly didn't feel like I was using Him as an excuse to not deal with the reality of life.

I couldn't shake his question, though. I looked up the dictionary definition of crutch.  Here is what I found: a staff or support to assist a lame or infirm person in walking, now usually with a crosspiece at one end to fit under the armpit. This really struck me as I read it for many reasons.

It immediately made me think of the Psalm 23 where it says "Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me". The dictionary describes a staff as this: a stick, pole, or rod for aid in walking or climbing, for use as a weapon. In the hand of Almighty God, a staff can protect us and defend us! And I don't know about you, but that sure does give me comfort.

I could not help but notice that a crutch is used for the lame or infirm person in walking. Honestly, I love this. I'm fully aware of the fact that without Jesus Christ, I am lame and completely infirm. That is why I came to Him. In order to walk out this life, I need Him to help me. Without Him nothing is possible, but with Him, all things are possible.  As my pastor says, things are "Him-possible"!

I was drawn to the part in the definition that said, "a crosspiece at one end to fit under the armpit." That, to me, is so rich in meaning when I apply it to the kind of support that Jesus offers me. There are days when I just don't feel like I can go on. Those are the days when He lifts me up by the armpits and carries me on. Psalm 28:8-9 says "The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever."

The fact that the crutch has a "crosspiece" is not lost on me, either. How is it possible that Christ can carry me, support me, have a relationship with me and give me strength for this weary life? Only because of what happened on that Cross on Calvary.  He took my punishment on the cross.  I recently re-watched The Passion of the Christ and was again reminded of His deep and unfathomable love for me.  Every whip, every hit, every nail, all of the pain and suffering - it should have been me.  I was the one who deserved that punishment!  I deserved to die! But He loved me so much that He took my place. The crosspiece on the crutch is a reminder of the Gospel that sets me free!  And He did that for you, too.

So, I suppose if you asked me today if Jesus was my "crutch" I'd say absolutely. I do not lean on Him so I don't have to deal with the realities of life, though.  I lean on Him because only with Him am I capable of dealing with those realities!

He paid a great price to be my "crutch" and I gladly take Him up every day and lean on Him so my lame feet can walk on this earth. I can't do it alone! Thank God He provided The Way so I don't have to.

Isaiah 35:1-6 says "...they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert."


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Battle Begins (An Honest Confession)

This particular blog is going to be the hardest and most difficult one I've ever written.  It will be wildly transparent and honest and it will probably make some of you judge me, while most of you who know this battle all-too-well will understand perfectly.  If people being real about their struggles bugs you in any way, I invite you to quit reading right now. 

For those of you who are still with me, I want to let you know how much I appreciate your willingness to "go there" with me.  (smile)

In 2004, I wrote a book about fitness called Body Builders: Cross Training.  I've been a fitness instructor for over eighteen years and I've battled obesity in my past and somehow managed to dig deep enough to lose sixty pounds through healthy eating and exercise.  I have helped write curriculum for Lifestyle Rehab, a program we used to teach at the YMCA.  I was Mrs. North Carolina in 2001 where I went around educating the public about the importance of physical fitness for children in order to prevent obesity-related health issues in their future.  I helped scores of people meet their fitness goals and lose weight as a personal trainer.

Fast forward to November, 2011.

I am now struggling with my weight again.  I stepped on the scales yesterday because I could tell it was time to stop pretending.  None of my clothes fit.  I feel grouchy and I feel heavy.  I knew I had to fight this horrific battle, yet again.  What I saw when I stepped on the scales made me absolutely nauseous.  It felt like a powerful blow to my gut and it immediately brought tears to my eyes.  Not because I feel like my scales define me.  Not because I care what anyone else thinks.  But because I know better.  I know how to take care of myself and I haven't been doing it.

Now, I will say that spiritually, I've been great.  I've been very good about my quiet times.  God has really been working in my life and using me to share His truth with others.   I have a wonderful, personal relationship with God.  I used to get up early to exercise, but now I get up early to read and study and then the exercise, which I always think I can fit in later, never happens.  Sure, I walk.  I do the minimum.  But since I quit teaching fitness classes in May of this year, I really haven't pushed myself consistently the way I need to and I've put on about fifteen pounds.  When you teach intense fitness classes for eighteen years, you cannot just stop working hard!  You actually have to work a little harder in order to get your heart rate up to where it was when you would teach in order to keep the weight off or even just to maintain.  It's difficult.  And I've been lazy about it.  And now I have to pay the price.  It's so humiliating. Some sins are easy to cover up and hide - but not this one.  It's obvious to everyone.  And it's got to be dealt with!

Here's the big issue:  Satan knows I'm struggling with this and he has been having a wonderful time belittling me, telling me what a failure I am and trying to convince me that everyone is talking about how, "Leslie has really let herself go!  Didn't she write a book about fitness?  What a failure!".  I know in my heart that these are just thoughts - not reality - but it's been extremely difficult and I can tell I'm beginning to believe some of these lies as I struggle within, silently.  In my past experience, shining light on dark things in my life makes the enemy run for the hills - so this blog is doing just that.  I don't want to struggle in the dark anymore - I want to shine light on what is going on in my life and invite those of you who are having the same struggle to join me!  We can do this - but we need to confess it, accept God's forgiveness and move forward in His strength - together.

So...the reason I'm writing this blog is because I just want to confess this to you, my friend and reader.  I think sometimes people can read blogs about others and think that person has it all together.  I don't ever want anyone to get that assumption from reading my blog.  This is Real Life, remember? :)  I also believe in accountability and think it's one of the most important things I can do to make a change in my life, aside from surrendering my issues to the Lord (which I have done).  I've repented to God for neglecting His temple (my body) and He has forgiven me and given me grace and peace as I go out to fight with Him leading the way!

If you are in this battle, or if you know you should be and haven't picked up your armor yet, why don't you join me?  My friend and I have come up with some questions we have written down to ask ourselves each morning, as a template for our journaling.  Why not copy these questions and begin the journey with us? 

1.  Did you have a quiet time with God today?
2.  Did you exercise today?  What did you do?
3.  How much TV did you watch today or how much time did you spend online?
4.  What did you feel guilty about today?
5.  What were you afraid of today?
6.  What are you thankful for today?
7.  What do you need to repent of today?
8.  What do you to ask God for today?

Answering these questions for the past few days has been very insightful for me.  I also began to journal my food intake and exercise at www.myfitnesspal.com.  I invite you to join (it's free!) and it's easy to use (look me up - we can be accountable to each other there!).  You will be amazed at what a wonderful tool this is.

I want to encourage you to take the first step.  From what I remember, those first few weeks are by far the hardest.  But once you begin to see results, you will be amazed.  I also want to encourage you to read a chapter from my book Body Builders (you can read it FREE here at Google reader: click here) called "Food for Thought", which will help you tremendously in knowing what to eat and how often to eat.  It's a quick read but I think it will be helpful to you. 

As I have been attending fitness classes lately, the verse from Hebrews 5:8 keeps coming to mind as my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel like giving up...."Even though Jesus was God's Son, He learned obedience through suffering."  If that's how He learned obedience, why would I be any different?  And in my mind I know that the suffering will end.  Eventually, my body will enjoy the exercise - but I have to go through some tough times before that will happen.  I'm okay with that when I keep it in perspective and allow Him to remind me it's going to be worth the effort.

As we all go forward, let's remember Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." I know I can do this - in His strength.  And so can you.

Much Love,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dancing Leaves

Strolling along the beautiful walking trail in my neighborhood lined with trees, I saw some leaves dancing on the ground.  My first thought was "What on earth would they have to dance about?  They're dead!"  The poor little leaves.  It looks like their "hayday" is over.  They are withered up and they've fallen to the ground only to be raked away and toted off as trash.  It's a shame, because they look so beautiful on the outside with all the reds, oranges, yellows, purples and browns scattered across the walking trail.  But just because they were beautiful, that didn't change the fact that they were not alive anymore.

But they were dancing...

I wonder... if the leaves could think, what would they think?  Maybe they would recall the days when they were just a tiny bud, bursting into the warm sunshine with excitement and a zest for life.  Each precious day, they would soak in the rain, the sun and enjoy the warm breezes that blew through, prompting them to sing in unison with the other leaves holding tightly to the tree branches as they all rustled with the wind in harmony.

I wonder... if the leaves could think, would they think back to the day that they realized things were beginning to change? Life was beginning to get more difficult and the sun wasn't shining down on them as much.  Their colors became more beautiful and vibrant on the outside, but inside they were not feeling beautiful or vibrant at all.  I wonder if they knew something was wrong.  Instead of a welcoming breeze, the winds were chilly and uninviting.  I wonder if they recall the moment they realized they were hanging on by a thread to the tree...ready to fall to the ground, to give up and just let go at the first sign of the next breeze. 

I wonder... if the leaves could talk, would they tell us how it felt to float gently to the ground the day they finally let go?  The force of the wind was more than they could bear.  They had to surrender.  Would they tell us tales of how they would lay there, among other beautifully colored leaves, wondering what was going to happen next as they huddled together, terrified and vulnerable.  Would they admit that they pondered if this was the end of the road for them - that there was nothing left?

Then I wonder...if leaves could talk, would they tell us about the day the wind gust began to blow through their huddle with a powerful blast and instead of singing with the other leaves up in the tree as they did in their youth when those gusts would go through, they found themselves dancing with those very same leaves, all dressed up in their autumn colors, as if they were celebrating their new life!  A chance to dance freely - given only by the strength of the powerful and mighty wind.

Yes, the leaves may have been dead...but the wind brings life to them.  So they celebrate!  They are filled with hope again.  Life is different now, and their path is determined by the wind these days, not by the security of the tree branch they so tightly held onto before the change.  They must trust not in their own strength to hold on now, but in the wind's strength to carry them through to where it would have them go.  Their mourning has turned to joyful dancing and they are clothed with joy!

What a beautiful picture this has given to me of the life God gives to us through His Spirit.

Psalm 30:10-12

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
      You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
      O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!


John 3:8
 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
 
 

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