Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Going With His Flow

We are spending a few days at the beach this Christmas and really enjoying some down time together as a family. Today my husband and I decided to go for a bike ride once the rain and clouds let up a bit. As we rode for many miles away from the place we are staying, I was enjoying the breeze and the smell of the sea air - so refreshing!

The time came when we had to turn around and go back toward the house. I realized that the reason the bike ride seemed so effortless on our way there was because the wind had been pushing us. Today, the winds are 30-miles per hour at the beach. And now they were pushing against us!

My legs were burning and they felt like they weighed about 800 pounds each as I pedaled with tremendous effort against the roaring wind.  The same wind that made me feel so refreshed and invigorated just minutes before was now making me feel overwhelmed and exhausted. How did I miss this?

I've actually had this happen to me, spiritually speaking, as well.  I remember moving a few years back to take a job in a different town with a radio station. I loved the people there, loved the station and had many reasons why I should have taken the job.  But I recall not having a real peace about it in my heart. From the get-go, it was a very difficult four months.  Our apartment flooded, my kids would not adjust and one of them was in a tremendous depression, my husband traveled all the time, we all were in and out of the hospital with various illnesses and my job was not going well because I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Everything was a mess.  I was going against the wind and I knew it.

We ended up moving back into the house we left a few months before (of course, it never sold - another big problem).  I felt like a failure and wanted to just disappear. Fast forward to this past year, 2012. I was offered a job at His Radio to do the morning show with Rob Dempsey. We learned in our past experience that we really needed to have peace about it before taking the job and after much prayer, both my husband and I agreed it was the right thing to do. We truly believed God was leading us to His Radio.  So, a few months ago we made the big move.

We can honestly say we are certain we are going in the right direction. Things are completely different this time around. Everything is falling into place without much effort at all.  We have confidence we are right where we are supposed to be and that God lead us here. Now we feel invigorated and refreshed. I wish I could put into words the difference it makes when I go with His flow instead of my own. I suppose you could compare it to an eagle who submits to the wind and allows it to take him where it desires. Sure, we've had our share of challenges, but the peace has never left us.

There are people in my life who really thought I would move right back to where I was in a few months. I suppose I lost credibility because I made an emotional decision rather than a right one years ago. But I know God had a plan in all of it. I've really learned to listen to His leading!

As we approach 2013, I want to encourage you to really seek out what God has for you in this new year. Don't settle for a "good" idea that may not be "God's" idea.  I've made some decisions in my life that seemed like a good idea, made sense and felt right - only to find they were not the right decision. And I've made some decisions that did not make sense, but I felt peace in my heart that God was telling me to go for it - and they ended up being the exact decision I was supposed to make.  Go with His flow and you will always find refreshment for your soul.

Happy New Year - and may you feel refreshed and invigorated in 2013!

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jesus Loves the Little Children

I awoke from my nap yesterday to the tragic news of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My daughter, Kennedy, was the first to tell me. I ran to the internet and found article after article about it and with every moment, my heart sank more and more. Tears were falling down my face as I began to imagine the pain and horror this community was feeling. I felt so helpless. This will be one of those days that I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.

I couldn’t help but think about a time in my life when my daughter, Stephanie, who is now 23 years old, was four years old. She had a terrible, painful and deadly illness that almost took her life. The doctors said she had a severe infection in her bloodstream that had invaded her little body through an open sore. She was in septic shock and she was dying. I remember the day the doctors told me they didn’t think she would survive. I just went numb.  After a long and agonizing 2-week stay in the pediatric intensive care unit of Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and a couple of surgeries later, she was miraculously healed and released from the hospital! We do believe it was a miracle.

The reason this came to my mind after hearing about the shooting in the elementary school is because when I asked Stephanie what she remembered about that time in her life, her memories are nothing but good ones. She remembered the visitors. She remembered the nice, caring nurses. She remembered me being there the whole time. She recalls this time of her life with a sense of peace. After seeing what she went through and how much pain she was in, I must say I was really surprised to hear this.

Friday as I struggled to make sense of how someone could hurt an innocent child intentionally, my mom heart immediately began to grieve as I thought about how scared those precious children must have been. But then I remembered Stephanie’s ordeal and how she came away from it with nothing but good memories. I truly believe those children felt the presence of God in their final moments. I truly believe they felt peace. I believe God sent His angels before it even happened to be there to calm them, love them, and bring them into their eternal home.

Why do I believe this? Is it in the Bible in a verse somewhere? Not that I know of. But I know God’s character. I know He loves children deeply and He does not delight in seeing His loved ones die. I know He loves our children even more than we do. And I know what I saw in my own daughter’s life during her desperate hours. Her face was strangely peaceful. Her memories are nothing but good. And her life has never been the same since then.

I will never believe, for a single moment, that God was not present in that room with those precious babies. His precious babies. That brings my mom-heart such comfort. And I pray the same presence those children felt will be felt by their grieving parents as they begin to face a reality that no parent should ever have to face.

Evil is real and it is all around us. But it is temporary. Evil will eventually be destroyed. This is our hope as believers.

Psalm 10:17 “LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

Toxic Chocolate


It started out as a quiet evening at home. The lights were low, the Christmas tree was twinkling softly, we were all in our pj’s snuggled up on the couch, Christmas movies were playing on the television and the intoxicating aroma of chocolate chip cookies filled the house. Ah…a nice, quiet Saturday night at the Nease house! Rare, but precious.
Max “checking himself in” at the Doggie E.R.

And then it happened.

Our puppy (who is now 44 pounds) Max, our newest Nease, who will be five months old on December 14, was making a strange noise in the kitchen. Kennedy got up to see what it was and screamed, “NO! MOM! MAX JUST ATE A WHOLE BAG OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS!” After more thought, we realized that it was actually more like 3/4 of a bag – the other 1/4 of the bag was baking in the cookies in the oven. Apparently, our “puppy” has now grow tall enough to put his paws on the counter in the kitchen and grab whatever is on the counter top for himself. And that is just what he did.

I’d heard that chocolate was bad for dogs, but I never knew if that was true, so I did what any person would do in today’s world – I posted a status on Facebook asking people if they knew what I should do. Lots of responses later, I was more confused than ever and decided to call the vet. They told me to take him to the Vet ER right away.

We loaded him up into the car and figured he would probably throw up on the way to the ER – I mean, he gets car sick every single time we take him anywhere in the car. But not that night. He was too hyped up to get sick. We finally arrived at the ER and Max ran to the counter, put his paws up, as if to show her what a big boy he was and how he actually got the chocolate in the first place, and proceeded to lick her face. “Oh, this must be our ‘chocolate puppy’! We’ve been expecting you, Max!”

As it turned out, Max needed to stay the night and the entire next day in the hospital. Semi-sweet chocolate chips are very toxic to dogs, even more so than dark chocolate or milk chocolate. His heart was racing at 200 beats per minute and they needed to help him get rid of the chocolate before more of it absorbed into his bloodstream. Had we not taken him, we probably would not have a puppy today. I’m thankful I took him in!

Well, as we picked him up last night, he came running out to us and we cried our eyes out. My husband proclaimed, “Merry Christmas! Your dog is alive!” Which seemed sweet until I realized it meant that the $520 we had to pay was our Christmas present…. Oh well, I couldn’t ask for more. Max is pretty awesome. But we’ll keep the chocolate out of reach from now on.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Son, Whom I Love

I have a confession to make and it's going to be hard for me, so bear with me for a few minutes.  Being a mother has been very rewarding and my most incredible blessing from God, but it has also sometimes been a very heart wrenching time for me, as I've learned to grow in ways I never realized I needed "growing".

My son, Tommy, is an extremely talented photographer. He has been into photography for a very long time, since I can remember.  He started taking photographs when he was heavy into skateboarding as a young boy and was very successful throughout his teen years.  His work was just recently on display at a gallery in Atlanta, GA and they made a video about him to introduce him to folks.  It was very well done! And it brought tears to my eyes. Gosh, I love that kid.

The issue came when I saw it and I wanted to share it on my Facebook page.  I had this internal struggle because as a mother, I am so proud of my son and how he expresses himself, how he's not afraid to be who he is and how he is so authentic as a person. He is really an amazing human being and people who know him would all agree with me that he is probably one of the most likable people on the planet.

But Tommy doesn't fit the "mold" that some in the Christian community would expect from a "son of a Christian speaker, writer and radio host".  Unfortunately, this expectation is something he has always resented and I don't blame him. I hesitated in sharing the video because I did not want to expose him to any judgment that might come from people who would see his tattoos, observe him smoking a cigarette, talking about his photograph he took of a woman "levitating" and hopping trains across the country and completely miss the point that he is a beautiful human being with so much to offer.  Are those things I would have chosen for my son? Probably not. But I trust God with him and I still love him and accept him for who he is, right where he is, without question. The problem is, some people do not. 

I decided to post the video on my page (and I am posting in this blog, as well).  I am at that point in my life where I'm just not afraid anymore.  I'm not afraid of what people think like I used to be. I'm not afraid of exposing my son to the judgment now because I know that in that, he will also be exposed to those who understand grace and will see him for who he is (by the way, my facebook friends have been extremely accepting and loving - I am so overwhelmed by their love).  I am not afraid to tell the world that I have a son who is not going to be the person you desire for him to be in order for you to like him. He's the real deal.  He's on a journey and he's one of the most authentic people I've ever known in my life. God has really used my son to teach me about grace, unconditional love and about my own judgmental and fearful heart.

My confession today is that it took until recently for me to get to this place.  I have hidden my boy away from my world like a protective mama bear and I have tried to separate my life from his.  Initially, I do believe (sadly) it was because I was afraid people would question my mothering and my own faith. But as God worked on me, over time, I realized it became more about protecting him from people who would judge him. He already looks at many Christians as judgmental and I can honestly say he has every right to feel that way.  He has been judged, criticized and told he must change by many people in his life.  I don't see that in the Bible though.  God accepts us just as we are, and as He gets a hold of our heart, He will make the changes He wants to make in His time.  Our job is to love people like Jesus did, not to point them to a behavior modification program that never works in the long run, but only produces a short-lived outward change.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love my son and I'm proud of him for being an individual who loves deeply, creates from the depths of his soul and is not afraid to be himself in a world where that is increasingly fading away.  I'd like to introduce you to my son, Tommy....and whether you appreciate who he is or not is not of my concern.  I love him with all of my heart. And it is a privilege to be his Mom! 

If you have a grown child who is taking a "unique" path or is not going in the direction you planned, please don't try to change them.  Pray for them, trust God with them, love them right where they are, and watch how God will change you, instead.  Could it be that was what He was trying to do all along?


Monday, November 26, 2012

What Will They Think of Me?


For the past few weeks, I've been posting occasional entries from my personal journal just before I went on Survivor in 2007.  I've also posted a reflection from today, some scripture and some questions for you to ask yourself. Today I'm sharing an entry that was written just four days before we left for China:

June 11, 2007

Just four more days until I leave for China! As excited as I am about this opportunity, I must admit I’m having a tough time thinking of leaving my husband and children for so long! I was at my Mom’s yesterday and she had an older woman there visiting. She knows I’m going away for about two months and she said, “I can’t believe you’re going to leave your family without you for so long!” in sort of a judgmental tone. I immediately said “You know, I realize that it’s going to be hard, but when God calls you to do something, you do it. I have to TRUST that He is going to work it all out and give us what we need to survive this”. She then said “Well, if that’s how you feel about it, you’ll be fine.” That was the first of many comments I’m sure I’ll be hearing in the next few months. I need to just be strong and remember that what counts is what GOD thinks, not me and not anyone else. I know He is calling me to do this and I know He will be glorified.

I’m starting to feel like I’m nesting like I did before I gave birth to my kids. I want everything straightened up before I go. I want to be able to leave my family with as little to do as possible, if only for a little while. It’s a tough one though because this house is a complete disaster area right now! I’m going to be very busy this week! I pray, Lord, that they will not be resentful or frustrated by my absence.

When I pray, all that comes out is “Thank you, Lord” over and over. I am really depending on the Holy Spirit right now to intercede for me because I’m having a difficult time focusing. 

God, please be with my children and my husband as I go away.  Give them strength, give them peace and remind them to pray for me as you remind me to pray for them. I love them so much and I do appreciate them – and I know I will appreciate them even more after this is all said and done. Thank you for that! Please help me not to be overwhelmed by what others will think of me during this time. I don’t want my fear of other’s opinions to rule my heart – as I know that will go against what you are trying to accomplish through me. Thank you for loving me just the way I am and for giving this to me. Thank you for the adventurous spirit you have given to me. I love you Lord! Thank you. Thank you!!

Reflection:

I heard once that when we allow other people’s opinions to rule us, we are, in a strange way, making them a god in our life. We take their opinion as truth and begin to adjust our lives to make sure we are pleasing them. I have always been a people pleaser, so this really made me think long and hard about how destructive this attitude can be. I know that is why God is so clear in His Word about the opinions of others. 

You will never be able to please everybody all of the time and if you try, you will wear yourself out. You can’t do it. It’s impossible. But it is possible to please God. He looks at your heart – something others cannot see. He knows your motives – something others cannot know. He sees the whole package and others can only see in part.

When I began to realize this truth, my life was set free on a whole new level. I realized that the world was never going to see me the way God does, and I stopped caring so much. It was liberating!

Truth for Today:

Galatians 1:10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Romans 2:29 ….a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

Isaiah 2:22 Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?

John 5:41 (Jesus speaking)Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts.

What About You?

Are you constantly trying to please others? How is that working out for you? Have you ever run up against
opposition in doing something you know God has plainly told you to do? How did you respond?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Respecting Authority

I don't talk politics very often. If I were completely honest, I'd say I don't talk about them because I don't understand a lot of it. I know the gist of it all and I do my best to stay informed. But it doesn't consume me. I'm not an activist in the political arena but I take my responsibilities as a voting American very seriously and do my very best as a busy wife and mother to make informed choices and vote according to my morals and values. But talking politics has never been one of my favorite pastimes and usually I avoid the subject out of a desire to keep unity. 
That said, I have something that has been brewing in my heart that I feel I must say.  I see emails, posts of disrespect and jabbings at our President on social networking sites and even hear people put him down, roll their eyes and become very judgmental of what he is doing in social settings. I think that there is a feeling in the air that if you are an "Evangelical", you have to slander President Obama and put him down. I've even heard rumors in circles that he could be the Anti-Christ. Could we honestly be more disrespectful that we are? I mean, I don't agree with all he stands for, but he is our President and will be now for another four years. He's a human being whom God created and appointed to lead our country at the present time. God has His reasons, and I trust that He is in control.

I read what the Bible, our life-giving, truth-giving, personal letter from our Father in Heaven had to say about the subject. Please, take time to read this and let it sink into your heart, asking the Lord to break down any prejudice, agendas or preconceived notions....

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and will be punished. 

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

1 Peter 2:13-14 For the LORD's sake, respect all human authority - whether the king as head of state, or the officers he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

I will stop there, but want to express, also that if you look at the stories of the great leaders of the Bible - Joseph, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, etc...you will find that every single one of them respected and submitted to the authority that was above them. Because of their submission and humble attitude, they found favor in the sight of not only the kings and leaders, but in the sight of God and all without compromising their values and morals. 

All this does not mean that we are to disobey God in situations where the law of man may conflict with the law of God (Acts 4:18-20; 5:40) but we are told to continue to respect government authority—even when those in positions of authority have abused their offices.

Could it be that we have it all wrong? Can we take a minute and examine ourselves? Please? For the sake of unity not only in our churches but in our communities and our country? Our hate and unloving jabs at our government are doing us more harm than good. It seems very divisive and contradictory to what we, as believers, are supposed to be about.

We cannot ever forget that Jesus had His harshest words for the Pharisees (Religious people), not the "sinners". For instance, He tells the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens but you ignore the more important aspects of the law - justice, mercy and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things."

Could it be that in our quest to do the right thing, we have sidestepped an even more important thing? Are we showing mercy to those we oppose? Are we being loving in our approach? Gentle? Humble? Patient? Why are we so surprised when people sin and make wrong choices? Doesn't Jesus tell us specifically in Matthew 15:19 that "from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander?" Maybe instead of putting people down and being angry, we could show mercy and faith in our God and pray for them? We cannot forget whom our battle is against (Ephesians 6) here - and it's not these people in leadership!

I believe we tend to focus so much on what others are doing wrong and don't spend enough time and energy focusing on and living out what we know is right. We spend so much time fighting with people and instead, maybe we should be fighting for them, on our knees in prayer?

I pray God will forgive me for my attitude toward my leaders at times. I thank Him for showing me the Scriptures and setting me straight. I urge you from the bottom of my heart - let's all respect and submit to our government and pray for our leaders, not put them down and disrespect them - for the LORD's sake.

Now maybe you can see why I don't talk politics much. (smile)

Daniel 4:32.....The Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Battle Begins

I've been posting some entries on my blog from my journal just before I went on Survivor in 2007, along with some reflection from today and some stuff to get you thinking about your own life.  Today's entry is my second entry after they finally called me to interview to be a contestant on the show after 11 auditions.  The battle began almost immediately - in my mind.  Maybe you can relate?


May 9, 2007

I have days when I am excited and other days where I’m just full of fear. Some of the questions and accusations that keep coming to my mind are:

  • What about your family? How could you leave them for six weeks? You are such a bad mom.  Everyone is going to think you are selfish.
  • What if you are killed somehow? You know it’s possible. What if this “dream” you’ve been chasing is the very thing that kills you off? Then what good would you be to God?
  • What if you get really sick out there and what if you end up in a Chinese hospital? Then what? Isn’t the water going to give you parasites?
  • What if it’s really hot? What if it’s really cold? You are going to be miserable.
  • Christians can’t possibly play this game. It’s out of your league – these sharks are going to eat you alive. You can’t maintain your witness out there. You’re delusional.
  • You are going to have a panic attack. Don’t risk doing that in front of the entire world! 

Oh, the list goes on. I wish I had more time this morning to type more, but I’m going to have to go. I do want to say that LORD, I give you this list of worries. You know my heart is to please you. I know you are in control and I pray that you will give me peace in every area listed above. I pray you will be in and around me at all times while I’m there and that the scriptures you have me memorize will be exactly what I need to hear. I love you and trust you!!

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Reflection Today:

Oh, yes. I’ve heard it before. “You must be doing something right when you get the devil all uptight.” I was living this out - big time! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a struggle mentally in my entire life before. I truly had to trust God in a whole new way. It was excruciatingly difficult. Yet, He gave me the strength to persevere. I’m eternally grateful for that.

Have you ever noticed that when you run up a big hill, the closer you get to the top, the harder it gets to run? You can almost taste the reward as you climb closer and closer to your goal. Oh, but the pain is so intense and the mental fight is exhausting. All of that makes the victory so much sweeter, though!

It’s like that with a call from God. Often, the closer you get to fulfilling your call, the more intense the battle will become. Expect it. Prepare for it. And trust that God will give you everything you need to push as hard as is needed in order to reach the top. Don’t give up – give it over to God and allow Him to work through you. He knows you cannot possibly do this. That’s why He’s going to do it through you.

Truth for Today:

Exodus 14:13-14 But Moses told the people “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before so many witnesses.

Philippians 4:8-9 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise…then the God of peace will be with you.

What About You?

Doubt and fear are two ways that the enemy will try to discourage you during your walk with God. Are you dealing with any doubts or fears right now? What is the truth about those situations? Give yourself the “Philippians 4:8 Test” by checking to see if the thoughts you are having are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely or admirable. If they are not, you are falling for a lie. Focus your attentions on the truth of your situation and allow God to give you the courage to walk fearlessly against those doubts.




Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leaves in the Wind

Fall is here!  Oh, how I love this time of year. Driving down the road the other day, I noticed the colorful leaves "dancing" on the ground all around us.  My first thought was "What on earth would they have to dance about?  Don't they know they are 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.
 
 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Refreshing Honesty

I share an office with a guy named Brian Sumner.  Brian is new to His Radio, too.  He works in the afternoons, so we rarely get to see each other since I work in the mornings.  But the other day, we just happened to be in the office at the same time so we had a pleasant conversation.  We chatted for about ten to fifteen minutes when he finally said, "Leslie, you have a big black 'something' on your cheek."  I laughed as I realized he had been looking at a clump of mascara that whole time we were having a conversation!  I dusted it off and thanked him over and over again.

He must have been so uncomfortable!  We are new friends, so he wasn't sure how I would respond.  He probably squirmed as he tried to decide how to look at me without staring at my big black clump.  He had no idea how I would respond to him - would I be embarrassed?  Would I be angry with him for pointing out a flaw?  He had to have known this was not something I wanted to hear.  He had no idea what would happen if he told me the truth.

What impresses me the most, is that in spite of that fact that he didn't know me very well yet, he took a minute to be honest with me so I wouldn't walk around the rest of the day with a big black clump of mascara on my face.  How sweet is that?  Needless to say, there was not one moment of offense on my part - just gratefulness that he spoke the truth.  How rare and precious when we find a friend who is honest - even when it is something we don't necessarily want to hear.  I know a clump of mascara seems silly and not like a big deal, but be honest - have you ever had this happen to you?  It can be uncomfortable, no matter what.

This silly situation got me thinking about how many times I am uncomfortable with telling others the truth, out of fear of embarrassment, their reaction or hurting the relationship.  I respected Brian for being honest, and I truly believe others respect us when we are honest, too.

Do you struggle with telling people the truth?  If you see spinach in someone's tooth do you tell them? What about a dress stuck in the pantyhose of a stranger?  Or someone you barely know walking down the hall with toilet paper stuck to their shoe?

What about telling those you love the truth about their sinful condition and how Jesus died in their place so they wouldn't have to spend eternity apart from God?

Fear keeps me from telling the truth at times, but the Bible tells me that God's people are to tell the truth to each other (Zechariah 8:16).  What am I so afraid of?  Praying today that God will help me tell the truth, in love and with gentleness and respect, even when people don't want to hear it. 

Yeah, I got all of this from a big old black clump of mascara on my cheek. (smile)




Saturday, October 6, 2012

Grace

Grace.

How I love this word!  Grace is something we receive from God, a gift that we do not deserve, but He lavishes it on us anyway be cause He loves us so much.  God does give us grace for the moment, right when we need it.  But He doesn't give us grace for what we imagine could happen.  Have you noticed that?

I spent the past year dreading saying goodbye to my daughter, knowing she was traveling across the world for 2-3 years to Asia to work in linguistics.  As I imagined how it would be, I was literally sick at times.  I felt overwhelmed, like it would be impossible.  I imagined how I would never be able to smile until she came home again. I cried buckets of tears. Oh, what an imagination I have!

Well, the day arrived on Thursday and I swallowed hard and drove her to the Atlanta airport.  I'm not gonna lie,  I cried sobs that came from a very deep place in my soul when I hugged her - you know that sob I'm talking about.  The embarrassing one that makes people stare. It's the one we've probably all experienced at some point when we have had to let go of someone in our lives we cherish.  And as hard as that time was for me on Thursday, I can honestly say it was not as hard as I imagined it would be. 

As I drove home, I kept hearing texts come across my phone.  When I would stop to get gas or rest, I would check the texts.  One after one, the texts came from the hearts of people who were thinking of and praying for us, knowing how hard this day would be.  My heart was so full as I read each one and soaked them in.  I cannot tell you how comforting it was to know so many people were on their knees for me and my family!

I believe those prayers worked, and are still working!  The grace I feel is nothing short of a miracle.  Yes, I've cried a few times and have been grieving, but somehow I'm having more moments of joy - the ones when I realize and contemplate the incredible privilege she has to travel, meet people and share her amazing heart and smile with others on the other side of the world.  It's grace for the moment.  And it's real.  I'm serious - this is amazing.

So...if you have prayed for us, thank you.  We can feel your prayers.  God is using you to minister to my family in amazing ways and it's such an incredible feeling!  I'm beyond thankful for you and want you to know that God hears you and He's answering your prayers.

Now, I know I have to work on that imagination of mine.  When I think of all the time I spent this past year crying, worrying and doubting, it makes me wonder if the dreading of what could happen is actually worse than the actual thing I dread so much!  It's rarely as hard as I think it's going to be.  Maybe it's because of that grace for the moment.  The grace that comes when God knows we need it most.

Worry and dread are symptoms of a grace-less moment.  Next time I feel them coming on, I'm going to remember that.  If God knows I need the grace, He will bring it.  I trust Him to keep His promises!

For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.  Psalm 84:11


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stephanie


The doctor walked in, looked me in the eye and said, "We're not sure she's going to make it."  After that, I think I must have blacked out.  I woke up and there was a religious-looking man dressed in black with a white collar in the room, asking me in a gentle and sympathetic voice if I wanted him to pray for me.  He prayed and then once he left I said my own prayer.  

I thought I didn't deserve to have my prayer answered because I wasn't living a life for God at all - as a matter of fact, since I left home to get married and start a family, I had completely turned my back on God and didn't even go to church anymore.  But things seemed dire at this point.  Would He listen?

A few days prior to this my daughter Stephanie, who was four at the time, came down with the chickenpox.  She was very sick from the get-go but the second day of her illness, it got much worse.  Her fever spiked to 106 and I was terrified.  I'd taken her into the doctor several times and was told, "It's just the chickenpox.  Give her ibuprofen and give it time, she'll be fine."  But things weren't fine.  Her body was swelling and she was moaning as if she was in tremendous pain.  She couldn't even stand for me to touch her.  I finally called the ambulance and said, "You are taking her to the hospital right now and I'm not bringing her home until you tell me what is wrong with her!"  They took her to the hospital.  Mother’s intuition can save a child's life!

At the hospital, they ran several tests and we began to wait.  The following day, Stephanie was unconscious and four doctors with very serious looks on their faces filed into the room with clipboards.  They were telling me she had the flesh-eating bacteria and that her body had gone into septic shock.  The nurses had to cut off her hospital bracelet twice and replace it because it kept getting so tight from the swelling that ballooned her tiny body.  She was now unconscious and it seemed hopeless.  Doctors crowded around her, poked at her, took x-rays and blood and now they were telling me they did not think she would make it.  I was absolutely devastated.

I think a part of me believed God was punishing me for running from Him.  I even think a part of me, due to a legalistic upbringing, believed I deserved it.  But that morning I found myself praying for the first time in years.  Through loud sobs, I begged God not to take my baby away.  I told Him I was sorry for turning my back on Him and that if He took her away I was I afraid I would not survive.  I begged Him to please let me keep her.  I told Him that if He would allow me to keep her, I would dedicate her to Him - she would be all His.  I wasn't sure how that would all work out, but I remember vividly that I was not willing to give up myself, but that I was willing to give her to Him.  I knew I had already proven that I couldn't live up to the standards of a good Christian, so maybe she could?  My ideas of God were so twisted.

God chose to heal my daughter, much to the doctor's surprise.  She was in intensive care for two weeks at a Children's Hospital in Norfolk, VA.  It was the longest and most frightening two weeks of my life.  But God gave me the grace I needed to get through this time.  To this day I think, "How did I do that?!" and then I remember the grace.  He helped me through it.

The doctors said she would have permanent lung damage after her terrible bout with this life-threatening illness.  But she would prove them all wrong and heal completely!  The only thing permanent is the scar on her side where they made an incision to help drain fluid from her right lung.  She is truly a miracle!

Over the next few years, Stephanie developed a love for Jesus that I cannot explain.  I certainly cannot take credit for it!  She wanted to go to church.  So my husband and I would drop her off and come back and pick her up or we'd send her with her grandparents.  I didn't go with her - honestly I think there was a part of me that didn't want to ruin it for her.  She was doing so well and I thought I was a failure in God's eyes (or at least that's what I was convinced of).

As I watched my daughter grow up loving Jesus, I saw something in her that I desperately wanted. She wasn't religious at all - it wasn't about keeping rules and playing the church game - it was about grace and relationship.  It was beautiful.  I began going to church to see if I could find what it was that she had.  Eventually, the Lord did open my eyes to the Truth and I gave my life to Jesus in February 2003, along with my husband.  I often smile when I think about how I thought dedicating my daughter to Him was such a better idea than dedicating myself. God knew that He would use that relationship with her to get to her father, and me too!  He's so good.

Today, Stephanie is 22-year old graduate of North Greenville University where she majored in Intercultural Studies.  She is passionately in love with Jesus.  In two days, God will be taking her on an incredible adventure on the other side of the world where she will be working in Southeast Asia as a Storytelling Facilitator in Linguistics.  I’m not surprised!  I’ve known for a very long time that God had big plans for her.

I look at her often and thank God for allowing her to stay here with us for so many years and for allowing her to be a vessel for Him to show us Himself through her witness.  I know that few weeks back in 1994 had to have been the most difficult of my life, but I also know that through that difficult time, God brought me into a real relationship with Him.  

And saying goodbye to her will be another difficult moment in my life that I can honestly say I’m feeling quite bitter sweet about.  She’s special.  Anyone who knows her knows this.  We will definitely feel a void in our lives when she leaves., no doubt about it.  My mom heart can almost feel the pain that Hannah had in her heart when she left Samuel at the temple after dedicating him to God (1 Samuel1).  Her husband spoke to her once, saying, "May the Lord help you keep your promise."  What a beautiful thing to say.  May the Lord help me to keep my promise, as well.  But just like Hannah knew about Samuel, I know Stephanie was never mine to begin with.  I just get to be her Momma – and what a blessing it is to be her Momma! 

Stephanie…go get’em girl.   You were born for this.  The plans He has for you are beyond your comprehension!  I’m so proud of you and I love you more than words can express. 

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  – Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 24, 2012

"The Call"

Maybe it's because the new season of Survivor has started that I'm having some flashbacks to a very exciting time in my life.  If you have ever had a dream, you may understand my excitement when, after so many years, I received a call from Survivor casting saying they were interested in interviewing me as a cast member for the show.  I had no idea where the show was going to be filmed and I had no idea what was in store for me the summer of 2007.  I journaled my experiences in auditioning throughout the years and even journaled my experiences in China. 

In the coming weeks, I will share different journal entries with you.  Today I wanted to share the entry with you from my 2007 journal the day after I received "the call"...

March 9, 2007
 

Thank you Lord!! I’m stunned and excited – after five long years, my prayer is being answered about Survivor! I am stunned only because I guess I had just recently let my dream go – and had just pushed it away from my grasp. I wasn’t really even thinking much about it, Lord. But yesterday, in the car on the way to Target, my phone rang. It was a private number and I had a fleeting thought “Maybe that’s them…nah!!”so I answered. And she said “Hi, is this Leslie? This is Survivor Casting” and I about ran off the road! I had to pull over – my entire body was shaking.

They want me to send them an audition video because they cannot find one for me for some reason (which is strange because I have sent one every six months for over five years!) so I sent them one that was made last year in 2006 from a listener at the radio station.  They said they like my application a lot and asked me lots of questions about my faith.  I really liked the girl I talked to - she was super sweet.  I'm already praying for her.

Dear God, I need you to please help me to stay focused on YOU. I get so excited in my flesh – I mean, this is a dream that I have had for so long and it’s easy to focus on it. Please help me not to – but to get on my knees even more now – directly in front of your throne. I am absolutely helpless without you. I desperately need your Spirit to fill me completely – to give me words to speak, help to get through my day, God I will need you to give me every single word that comes from my lips – help me represent you well! 


I know that this is for Your glory, God – all You. Please help me. Please give me a confidence and conviction to be everything you want me to be. You are right now whispering in my heart, “Do not worry about what you will say – I will give you the words” and I know the reason you are telling me that is because you do not want me to worry – but to focus on YOU during this time of my life. That is such a wonderful and scary test for me – to stay focused during a time that is so tempting to get wrapped up in the “details” of the fulfillment of this dream. I don’t want anything that YOU don’t want for me, God.
 

I want to speak truth about what a true relationship with Jesus Christ is. I will be a fool for you, Lord – and I know You know my heart is true in this. Open those doors, God and give me strength to walk through them in Your power!
 

THANK YOU from the bottom of my very grateful and humbled heart, God. Help me to use this story to inspire others to keep trying…to never stop dreaming and to believe. I know that you are giving me this opportunity to do just that. I pray you will not let me get in the way. God, I need your Holy Spirit to completely penetrate every area of my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name – Amen!!

I still get chill-bumps when I read this! How cool to finally see that the dream I had for over five years was finally coming true. I knew once they called that I was going to be selected, but I can’t explain it any other way except to say that I just had confidence in what God was doing. I had so many years of dreaming and praying that it just seemed natural at the time. As I look back, I realize it was not natural at all. It was completely God, supernaturally allowing this to happen! I’m so grateful. I always will be.

I knew in my heart that He had prepared me for this time and my husband and I were in agreement about it. I read through Esther and realized that God can use a woman of His for mighty things…for such a time as this. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was going to honor God, but the thought of me getting wrapped up in the “details” scared me. I know how weak I can be in my human nature. I also knew by this time how strong God could be through me, if I only would allow Him.

Truth for Today:

Esther 4:14 “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Spoken to Queen Esther when her Uncle made her realize that perhaps she had been promoted as Queen in order to bring deliverance to the Jewish people. God prepares us and then sends us out. We must be ready...”for such a time as this”).

Here's the audition video I sent them:


Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Don't Want it to be Real!

My husband and two oldest kids decided to take a trip to the beach one weekend a few years ago.  We had a great time - went to the beach, slept in, ate seafood, shopped and visited the aquarium. I felt like a little kid again at the aquarium - it was absolutely one of the most amazing things I had done in a while.

While we were going through the tunnel with all the sharks, we came across this strange looking shark who was literally just plastered to the glass just above our heads and we just cracked up laughing because it looked like he was doing it on purpose - everyone was taking pictures of him and he just seemed to be smiling and soaking in all the glory. That's him you see in the photo!

I suppose he looked a little scary though, and as a little 5 year old girl strolled through the aquarium holding her daddy's big hand (ok, squeezing it until it turned pale white), she said "Daddy is it real?" He answered "Yes, honey, all of them are. Isn't it amazing?" In her innocence and fear, she cried out "No, Daddy! I don't want it to be real!" as if that would change it all and make everything become unreal. I still see the look on her face - absolute fear was written all over it and she was doing something I do quite often in life - denying the truth to make herself feel better.

Ever wish something wasn't true? Me too. I think we all do that. I've heard the saying (and have even said it many times) that "ignorance is bliss" because knowing something is true not only means we have to face that truth but also act on it. It's easier to bury our head in the sand and continue in life just the way we always did. It's easier to say "I don't want it to be real!" and just walk through life oblivious.

Or is it?

I used to think it was easier to pretend God wasn't real. That hell was some made up place and evil was something I could elude. But once I was faced with the reality that there is a God, I am accountable to Him, there is a hell and evil is unavoidable, I realized I had some decisions to make. Instead of wishing it all away and living in denial, I finally realized that ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is a choice I made. And it was not doing me any favors. So I started to search for Truth in the pages of God's Word - and I found it.

According to Romans 1:18-20, "God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made they can clearly see His invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God."

Then it goes on to say (vs 21-22) "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused."

I see so many folks trying to figure out God outside of the Bible, with supplementary writings by people who claim to know Him. Everyone wants a god on their terms. It reminds me of people who look for the perfect diet that allows them to eat whatever they want and not exercise.  Hello?!  Not gonna happen. It takes discipline, hard work and a healthy diet, no way around it. Everything else is a deception that usually takes our money right out of our pockets and even if it works for a little while, eventually, it will fail. There are no short cuts.

Then there are those that respond, "I don't want it to be real" and just say there is no God at all. If the sky is blue but I would prefer it not be blue, but green, would that change the truth that it is blue? Just because I say it's green does not make it so. It just is what it is.

God says "I am." He is making Himself known to us, and our denying He's there is not going to change anything at all. We must confront this at some point in our lives - every one of us. Pretending it is not an issue will not make it go away - it will only "suppress the truth by our wickedness" and I believe the wickedness that suppresses the truth that the bible speaks about is our stubborn, hardened hearts.

My prayer is that we all open our hearts and minds to the Truth of God's Word. I pray that hearts will be softened and penetrable. I pray we will all embrace it, learn, grow and walk in the freedom of knowing that God is real and He desperately desires a relationship with us through His Son, Jesus Christ's, sacrifice on our behalf. I pray we will take His hand, walk through this life and instead of saying "Daddy, I don't want it to be real" that we will say "Daddy, thank you for telling me the Truth - now show me how to live my life, holding tightly to Your hand."

Proverbs 14:8 The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.

If you need to know more about how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit www.christianityexplored.org



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Greatest Gift to God

"I need you to clean your room, please."  Simple enough, right?  Well, not so much with a teenager sometimes. 

I asked my daughter to clean her room awhile ago, but instead, she decided to walk the dog, make cookies and empty the dishwasher.  That's awesome, but the room was still a mess.  So when I decided to confront her about her messy room, I had her pointing out all the things she had done as a defense as to why her room was not clean.  I also got the old, "You don't appreciate me!  Here, I've done all of these things and you didn't even care - you just want me to clean my room!" 

Oh, no she didn't!  Please tell me she didn't go there.

I swallowed hard and as lovingly as I could muster, I replied, "Well, I didn't ask you to do all of those things!  And even though they are wonderful and I do appreciate what you did, you still disobeyed me by not doing what I actually asked you to do!" 

As soon as it came out of my mouth, my heart sank as I realized immediately that God could say the same exact thing to me at times.  He asks me to do something specific that would require much of me and may be out of my comfort zone. Instead, I lead a Bible study, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or do some other work to try to please Him (usually something He hasn't asked me to do). But I neglect the one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He is asking me to do.  The one thing that requires a great deal of discipline.  The one thing that scares the dickens out of me!

Then, in my prayer time, I feel His Spirit gently ask me why I neglected to obey Him and I find myself doing exactly what my daughter did...I make excuses.  "But God!  Didn't you notice when I lead that Bible Study?  What about the soup kitchen - did that mean nothing to you? Aren't you impressed with me, God?  Don't you appreciate me?!"  I then hear Him whisper, "I desire obedience over sacrifice, my child."  How do I know He whispered this?  Because it's in His Word.  1 Samuel 15:22 says,
"But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, or your obedience to his voice? Listen!  Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams."
Works are not what He wants from me.  And as long as I'm continuing to disobey Him in an area of my life, I'm living in disobedience - no matter how many other "good" things I pile up.  I'm not sure I ever truly understood that until this situation with my daughter happened.   Sometimes I think God gave me children so I can get a glimpse of how incredibly hypocritical I can be in life!  As I am disciplining my children, He is showing me a picture of myself more often than not.

Is there an area of your life where God has asked you to obey Him, but instead you are working your tail off trying to impress Him in other ways, hoping He will forget all about the "other thing" He asked you to do?  Hey, I get it - we all do it (whether we admit it or not) - but I would venture to say that we will be stuck in a spiritual rut until we obey Him in the one thing we think we could never do. 

It's time.  No more excuses!  God wants to bless you!  But He will hold back His full blessing until the obedience comes.  Blessing always follows obedience.  He will give you strength and power to do what He is calling you to do. Don't waste another moment living in disobedience.  The thrill you will feel once you decide to obey is so worth the effort!

John 14:15 "If you love me, keep my commandments." - Jesus







Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Temple

I heard the sounds of Monks chanting and smelled burning incense as we climbed the steps to the
Buddhist temple in remote China. With every step, I prayed under my breath that God would give
me discernment. I trusted Him to help me make the right choice, if I was faced with one.

God was busy in my life – teaching me to trust Him and hear His voice. I auditioned and applied for
Survivor eleven times – every six months for five years – knowing it was something He was asking
me to do. I faced rejection after rejection and ridicule from folks who just didn’t think God would
ever ask someone to go on a reality show. With the blessing and agreement of my husband, I kept
trying.

I knew God’s voice. I had no doubt He was calling me to be a Survivor and I completely trusted He
would guide me each step of the way on my journey. So as I prayed to Him at the temple, I had no doubt I would know if I were crossing the line. Little did I know the choice I was going to face would send ripples throughout the world to millions of people watching.

Survivor is a game where sixteen Americans from every walk of life are stranded in the middle of
nowhere and are left to fend for themselves. They are divided into two tribes and every three days,
there is an Immunity Challenge and the loser of the challenge has to go to Tribal Council and vote
out one of their members. When there are ten Survivors left in the game, they make up a jury as
they are voted out and they decide from the final three who will walk away with the million dollar
prize.

Before the game began, I made it clear that I wanted the other people on the show to get to know
me as a person before they found out about my faith. It’s not that I’m ashamed at all to be a
Christian – but I know the impressions and judgments that people make when they find out that
you are a Christian. Immediately, they assume you are judgmental. They file you away in a box
without getting to know you first. I wanted them to see me as a real person – not a stereotype.

The show’s host, Jeff Probst, began to speak. He said the local people just wanted to welcome us
with a ceremony and they knew we all had our own religious beliefs and this ceremony was purely for
welcoming and blessing, not worship.

During the next hour or so, we went from room to room in the Temple. The monks were chanting
something I could not understand while incense burned and things were spoken over us. The people
were extremely friendly and seemed so warm. I wanted to respect them and learn from their
culture.

I began to feel a very intense spiritual battle going on when we entered the final temple room. The
monks put down sixteen pillows on the floor right in front of this enormous golden statue of Buddha
that was surrounded by literally hundreds of smaller golden gods.

They asked us to bow down on the pillows. I remember thinking “Well, I suppose I could just bow down and pray to Jesus – He knows my heart and would never hold this against me. I mean, it’s just a game, right? And I wouldn’t want to offend the locals. Plus, they said it wasn’t worship, so this is just part of the ceremony.”

As my heart pounded, I tried to put one knee down on the pillow. Immediately, I felt the presence of God like never before. It’s as if He picked me up from the floor and said, “Now you’re crossing the line!” I turned to one of the producers and said “I can’t do this”. He shrugged and so I got up quickly and quietly and stepped out of the temple, crying and shaking from having such an intense experience with God. Someone was going to be offended – and it couldn’t be Him.

Once the ceremony was over, Jeff Probst called us all down in front of the Temple and said “So, Leslie
– I noticed you didn’t make it through the entire ceremony” and I responded “I didn’t mean to be
disrespectful, but it felt like worship to me.” Then he said “Even though we told you this was not a worship ceremony…” and I replied, “You know, I’m not a religious person but I have a relationship with Jesus Christ and I’m only going to put my face on the floor for Him."

Then Jeff said “Aren’t you afraid of how this might play out in the game?” and I said with confidence, “You know, I’m really not. I’m going to play the game and be me. If they like me, great. If not, I’ll deal with that.”

So much for my strategy of keeping my faith to myself! I often think back to that moment and
giggle when I realize how naïve I was to think that I could keep my faith to myself. I mean, Jesus
Christ means everything to me!

I did not walk out of that temple because I was afraid God would be mad at me. I did not walk out for
religious reasons and that is why I said I wasn’t religious. I walked out because I have a relationship
with Jesus Christ and I just couldn’t break His heart by bowing before another god.

I thought about how my husband might feel if he saw me kissing another man. I could tell him that I
was thinking about him the whole time, right? Yeah, right! It would still be heart breaking for both of
us. I have no desire to kiss another man. Even thought he knows my heart, I can’t help but imagine it
would still be hard to see. Not to mention what our children would think! I knew my children were
watching the show. How would I explain to them if I bowed to a foreign god? I just couldn’t do it.

The day I walked out of that Temple, I knew it could cost me the game. I knew there was a possibility
they could pull in an alternate to take my place. I knew judgments would be made immediately. I
knew all of this, but I didn’t care. All that mattered to me was Him. I sobbed outside of the temple
as I realized He means more to me than anything!

I was voted out in the third episode. I hated to go, but I learned something so important – Man’s
rejection is always God’s protection! I lost seventeen pounds in nine days on the show – I was very sick
and nothing would have made me quit, so God knew it was time. I found out the reasons they voted
me out were because I got along too well with the other tribe, I played too nice of a game and they were nervous I would join up with the other tribe at the merge.

I have had tremendously positive responses from believers world-wide because of that Temple
scene. I have also had some persecution from folks who think I was intolerant, rude and
inconsiderate. Some Christians even opposed me because I said I wasn’t religious. I think they
thought I was lying, but in reality I was trying to make a point that there is a difference between
religion and relationship with Jesus.

I suppose everyone has an opinion. That is one thing God has taught me through this experience – His opinion is all that matters.  Galatians 1:10 says “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of
God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Every day we are faced with choices. Sure, our country was founded on Christian principles but more often than not you will find most people don’t really know who Jesus Christ is and how He affects our everyday lives. So that means we are stepping into a Survivor situation every day when we walk out our door. Some of us are in a Survivor situation within the walls of our own homes. Our choices reflect our beliefs and whether we realize it or not, our choices speak louder than our words could ever speak.

God taught me so much through this adventure. I learned never to give up on a God-given dream no
matter how impossible it seems and that stepping out of my “Christian Bubble” is difficult but He
gives me strength to do it. I learned to stand up for Him, no matter how difficult. But the biggest
lesson I learned was that God means more to me than anything else in the world. And that is worth
way more than a million bucks!


Got Questions?

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