Addiction Averted

If you read my post from Monday (See No Social Media for Me) you know I participated in my church’s 21 days of prayer and fasting that ended on Saturday.  I fasted social media for 21 days and at the end I wrote about how I was more content in my life because I was focused more on Jesus and less on my FB friends’ vacation pictures and delicious (although mostly really fattening) recipes.

pie

Enter Snowmaggedon.

If you think I haven’t been knee deep in Twitter and FaceBook you’d be right.  I’ve been up to my eyeballs in tweets, FB posts and Instagram pictures for 3 solid days.  I’ve been like a junkie who just got out of rehab and sprinted as fast as I could back to my crack dealer for a fix.

Gosh satan is so clever.  But the more time I spend with Jesus the faster I clue in to his schemes.  Yep, he used #gridlock2014 to suck me right back in to spending entirely too much time on social media.  (My excuse?  I used to live in Birmingham and Atlanta.  I might see someone I know walking down the snow covered streets!)  It was an easy draw for me.  My husband hates 24 hour, wall-to-wall coverage, but I love it.  Can’t get enough of it.  I want to see every picture, read every story, live vicariously through the disaster by what I see and read.

And the enemy knows my weaknesses.  And he used this disaster it to pull me right back into the place I had just spent 21 days walking away from, my social media addiction.

Praise Jesus I had those 21 days of abstinence.  Praise Jesus I recognized what satan was doing today, before my addiction spiraled out of control again (Wake up.  Check Twitter.  Recheck FB throughout the day to see how many “Likes” I get on a post.  Scroll through Instagram before going to bed…)

Oh yes, I will continually be tempted.  And so will you.  And we will be tempted far beyond how much time we spend on social media.  But God will always provide a way out for us. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide away out so that you can stand up under it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13) Today my way out came in simple form – just a realization of the shenanigans satan was up to and then exiting out of FaceBook.  Bigger temptations will arise, but remember this:

Our escape from sin may not always be obvious, but it is always available.

Have a blessed weekend!
Leigh

Mercy in the Mess

In the midst of the thousand mile storm God showed great mercy.  Yes, people were stranded.  Yes, children were stuck at school.  Yes, cars were tangled up like shoestrings you accidentally run through the washing machine.  Problems?  Many.  Disaster?  Absolutely.

And while the unfolding chaos ensued I kept wondering when will the power go out?  When will enough ice form on the power lines to cause the lines to snap like fresh pole beans, leaving these cities in total darkness and freezing cold temperatures?

power

Enter God’s mercy.  Alabama Power reported statewide outages to 13,600 customers as of Wednesday morning, most of those being in the Mobile area.  Remember Mobile had been warned of the coming storm, so people in that area were prepared.  No school, no work – power trucks lined up like a 4 year old’s Matchbox cars just ready to repair the lines, no abandoned cars blocking the streets.  And most were back online in a very short time.  Mercy.

And if the majority of the power trucks were in south Alabama, guess where they weren’t located?  Birmingham.  So perhaps a bigger picture of God’s mercy was the lack of power outages in the major cities of Birmingham and Atlanta Tuesday night.  And even if they had been nearby, their ability to get to the problem locations would have been greatly hampered by the hundreds of accidents and thousands of abandoned cars.  Mercy.

We are almost on the other side of this disaster.  And yes we’ve experienced great headaches and heartaches.  But in the middle of every disaster we can experience God’s mercy if we will only seek it, as thousands of people did through prayer.  “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16)

Thank you God for your great mercy in our time of need.

Let the warm-up begin!
Leigh

Unprepared

Yesterday I wrote about being prepared.  And based on the best available forecasts, we southerners were prepared.  People in cities that were supposed to get a dusting of snow went on to work and school.  Those of us who were supposed to bear the brunt of the storm cancelled school, came home from work early, hunkered down with chili or vegetable soup on the stove.

I’m no meteorologist, so I can’t scientifically explain what happened.  The short version is that the snow and freeze line moved way north and caught cities like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Atlanta with weather they weren’t expecting – AT ALL.   Panic ensued.  The snowstorm of 1982 all over again (see my previous post The Great Ice Storm of 1982).  People stuck in their cars, at school, at work.  Trying to get to your children.  Trying to get home.  Desperate for help, full of anxiety and worry.

traffic

Bubba Bussey of The Rick & Bubba Show was stuck at work last night with a couple of others.  They ran a live show until 10:00 p.m. providing helpful information to those stuck in their cars (did you know your gas will last a couple of days if you turn your car on for 10 minutes, off for 20 and repeat?), information on shelters and the schools with children safely having sleepovers.  Bubba provided a calm, encouraging voice in the middle of Snowmageddon.

One of the last things Bubba said near the end of the evening show was that we are supposed to give thanks to God in all situations even though that is very hard to do sometimes.  And I’ve read countless stories of those who thanked God for their loved ones making it home.  Thanked Him for a full tank of gas.  For the truck driver who had food & water and shared it with other drivers.  For friends of friends who took in children and spouses.  For random stores who offered hot coffee and a place to warm up.  For school cafeteria food for dinner (now that would probably be a bit of a stretch, but cafeteria food beats no food any day I suppose).

Bubba also said sometimes God lets things happen so that we have nowhere else to turn.  If I had been one of those mothers stuck in traffic for hours trying to get my babies, low on gas, no food or blankets in her car I would have prayed – A LOT.  But I wonder how many people spent their time being angry, blaming the meteorologists, the schools – surely even blaming God – instead of seeking His protection, His mercy, His comfort?

So as I wrote yesterday, don’t wait to get prepared, because if you think being unprepared in #gridlock2014 was bad that will pale unmercifully to being unprepared when Jesus returns.  Start building a relationship with Jesus today so that when bad things do happen you turn to Him first, giving Him thanks in all situations.  “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Join me in praying for a thaw, for children and loved ones to make it home, for the workers doing their best to clean the roadways. Pray first, pray often.
Leigh

Prepared?

I along with all my southern friends are bracing for a winter storm.  Yesterday afternoon I watched the Governor of Alabama and the EMA officials discuss the widespread affected areas of the storm, the precautions we should take and the possible problems we will face.  Don’t travel unless necessary (yes you in the Prius, that car doesn’t have 4WD).  Have enough food for 72 hours (I could go at least 2 or 3 weeks on the junk in my pantry).  Don’t run your generator in your house (you would think the noise alone would clue people in).

 winter map

Our schools have already closed in anticipation of the storm.  Children all over the south are in a state of euphoria.   Parents on the other hand… well, let’s just say not all of us love it when our children come in from the freezing cold, soaking wet from a snowball fight, leaving little water puddles everywhere as they run through the house…

So as I sit in my bed this morning and think about the impending winter storm, I can only hope my southern friends are taking today’s forecast seriously and preparing for what is to come.

And then the thought came to me – what if we had an accurate, all out secure “Jesus Returns” prediction center?  (Now I know a lot of people have predicted it in the past , but just remember Matthew 24:36 – “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father.”)

But if you knew for certain Jesus was coming back today, how would you prepare?  What issues in your life do you need to focus on?  What relationships do you need to restore?  What sin needs to be repented and removed from your life?  With whom do you need to share Jesus’ love?

“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this:  If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” (Matthew 24:41-46)

We may not know when Jesus will return, but make no mistake – He will return.  And we have no idea when.  It could be today, 50 years from now or even a hundred.  But why not get prepared for His return starting today?  Why not develop a personal relationship with Jesus, read His Word, and spread His love – today?

Don’t wait.  Get prepared.  Be ready for the master’s return.

Stay warm!
Leigh

No Social Media For Me

The first three weeks of January I participate in my church’s time of prayer and fasting.  The point is to fast something worldly, something that draws you away from Jesus so that you can focus more on Jesus.  People fast all sorts of things, some even full-out food fast.  Me?  I kept on eating (a lot).  But I did fast social media – no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. for 21 days.

social media

And to be honest, I’ve felt much more content with my little world because I don’t have anything to compare it to.  I don’t get upset with people who post their ski vacation pictures, their Pasadena memories or their den upgrades that make the most avid Pinterest follower jealous.  I get upset with myself when I let the enemy use those FB posts and Instagram pictures make me feel discontented.

The enemy will use social media or anything else he can to attempt to steal your joy.  Your soft spot might be something else, but my point is this: we need to be better at cutting out the things in our life that breed discontentment and fill that space with life-giving, beneficial activities.  Does the 5:00 news leave you depressed? Quite watching it and go read a good book.  Are the lyrics in some of the songs you listen to degrading, or down-right nasty?  Delete them off your iPod and replace them with worship songs.

The more we replace the yuck in our lives with spiritual things – books, songs, movies, etc. the more we feel Jesus’ presence in our lives.  And the closer we are to Jesus, the more content we feel.  At least that’s how these last 21 days have worked out for me.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”  (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Give it a try.  Cut out whatever is manipulating your time or your emotions and experience a renewed peace and contentment.

Blessings!
Leigh

The Power of Words

Last night I had a nightmare that woke me out of a sound sleep (I’ll write about that another day).  My heat was jumping out of my chest and I was now WIDE AWAKE at 3:30 a.m.  No way could I immediately go back to sleep, so as usual my mind started wandering…

And it wandered back to the 4 basketball games that our school lost to our biggest rival that night.  And it wasn’t just the losses that I thought about – I rehashed the plays, the calls and no-calls, the fans’ attitudes and words (both sides) and on and on.  But what I couldn’t get out of my head was the uncalled for derogatory comment that an authority figure on the opposing side (that’s about as vague and kind as I can be) yelled about one of our players while his parents sat on the front row listening.

And the more I thought about it, the madder I got.  I was going to give someone a call in the morning, I tell you.  Or better yet – I’ll write letters to whomever I think needs to hear my opinion of his comment.  Boy was I on fire around 4:00 a.m. already writing the letters in my head.  If my heart wasn’t racing before it sure was now.  Yep, I was up for the duration – ready to see the sun rise so I could get cracking on my letters.

Then the Holy Spirit quietly told me to stop.  Stop now.  So I did.  I stopped the ranting going on in my head and slowed my breathing down.  And then an overwhelming urge came over me to quiet my spirit and pray.  I prayed for the sweet momma who had to listen to the ugliness spewed about her son.  I prayed for the father who is doing his very best to raise a godly young man.  I prayed for our coaches – I’m constantly in awe of how they do what they do and the countless hours they spend doing it.  (OK, I admit it, I didn’t pray for the other authority figure.  I’m still a work in progress.) I prayed for our player who plays as hard as he possibly can every single game.  I prayed that he will know his identity is in the young man he is and will be in Jesus, not in what anyone says – or screams about him.

Words have tremendous power.  That one person’s words could be a defining moment in that young man’s life, and I prayed it would be a moment of victory, not defeat for him. The words that I didn’t write could have started a firestorm that I didn’t need to ignite.  And I may not have prayed the most eloquent words last night, but they were from the heart, through the Holy Spirit, for benefit and not for tearing down and destroying.

It took way too long, but this verse finally came to me in the middle of the night:  “And we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

And then I read this passage this morning:  “Let me tell you something:  Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you.  There will be a time of Reckoning.  Words are powerful; take them seriously.  Words can be your salvation.  Words can also be your damnation.”  (Matthew 12:37, The Message) Need I say more?

Words

Let’s all be careful of our words – especially in times of extreme anger and stress.  I write this not to accuse anyone but because it is an area that I am constantly working on and depending on Jesus for mercy and grace.  Like I said, I’m a work in progress but I know I’m making progress because the letterhead is still in the box today.

Have a fabulous, blessed weekend!
Leigh

Shame – Shame – Shame

Shame is tricky.  I look around our society today and I think, “They oughtta be ashamed.”  (And yes, I use the exact same tone and southern drawl that my grandmother and mother used.)  We’ve got pants on the ground, or my gosh Miley Cyrus not wearing any pants and I think, “Where’s the shame?”

I can remember as a child being ashamed.  And it usually happened the second I made the wrong decision and was then compounded when my mother would say to me, “You oughtta be ashamed.”  And you know what?  Sometimes a little shame does a child some good.

But there’s another side to shame.  It’s the evil, enemy-driven side.  It’s the side that says, “You’ve messed up so bad no one will forget it or forgive you,” or even worse – “Jesus will never forget it or forgive you.”  Shame can squash a person’s spirit way past the point of embarrassment.  Shame brought on by the enemy can destroy your future because the enemy will constantly throw your past mistakes at you like darts hitting a target.  And you feel the sting of every single shameful event in your life, unless…

Unless you confess your mistakes to Jesus and truly accept His forgiveness.  (Easier said than done, I know.)  But read these words from Hebrews and let them really sink in:  “For I will forgive there wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12).  Gone.  Forgotten.  And Paul shares with us the added blessing:  “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”   (Colossians 1:13-14)  Through Jesus God brings us out of the enemy’s dark world and places us in Jesus’ kingdom!  THAT’S REALLY AWESOME, PEOPLE!

And once you experience true forgiveness in your spirit you then need to see yourself as Jesus sees you, not as the enemy sees you and wants you to see yourself.  “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…” (Colossians 1:22)  Holy.  No blemishes.  Not one single accusation.  That’s even more awesome, don’t you think?

When you look in the mirror today, let go of the shame.  Ask for forgiveness.  Accept that forgiveness.  Then see yourself as Jesus sees you – a winner, a giver, beautiful, successful – but most importantly see yourself as a child of God, not a servant to the enemy.

Blessings!
Leigh