December 29, 2009

Special thanks

. . . to our hostesses this morning in Huntsville, Alabama. The Patio Room was warm and welcoming to the guests with festive centerpieces, yummy food, and creative door prizes. Having my mother in law invite me to come and share a message of encouragement to her dear friends actually encouraged me. What an honor!

Today, I was blessed by the ladies that attended this brunch. Dan led worship with his usual sensitivity and professionalism. I am praying for more opportunities to minister with him. It was a great preview of the days to come.

The message today featured my process of moving away from needing other people's approval and toward checking for God's approval in my thoughts and words.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Another precious group. Thanks for coming, Ladies. Thanks to my sweet, supportive family.

Thanks, Lord.

December 1, 2009

Leigh Ann & Dan Together!

Please join us for a Holiday Mother Daughter Gathering
with Leigh Ann teaching and Dan leading worship.

First Baptist Church, Huntsville, Alabama

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

9:30 a.m. until noon
The Patio Room, Christian Life Center

November 3, 2009


He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. (Phil. 1:6) What God started, He finishes. If it pleases Him and honors Him, He's there. He's working in that situation. He's guiding. He's protecting. He is faithful.

We are unequipped to fight the enemy's schemes while we are falling for them. My list of incomplete projects and ideas are overwhelming. They taunt me and remind me that I never finish anything.

But, do you hear that voice? The One called Faithful and True is calling my name. He is setting my priorities for this day and this week and this season.

I saw heaven standing open and there was before me a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. Revelation 19:11

October 23, 2009

Moms of Preschoolers

MOPS International is an organization based on encouragement for mothers. It has been an honor sharing with the moms attending the October meetings at St. Luke's in Orlando. With one more group to meet next Wednesday, I am praying for God's words, not mine. I am praying for His encouragement, the kind that lasts.

As I prepared for these meetings, the Lord revealed a passage that I have been confusing my whole life. I learned this verse as a little girl.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Oh God, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

But I heard: Be pleasing. Be acceptable.

The Lord has shown me this month that I need to be acceptable to Him only. For years now, He has been healing me of working to please others. He does not want to share this honor with my friends or my children. He longs for me to please Him and then allow Him to strengthen my relationships from their foundation. I was aware of this work He was doing in me, but I was so surprised at how He used a verse I know so well. I will watch my words. I will test my heart's thoughts. But most importantly, I will seek to be acceptable to my Redeemer.

September 25, 2009

Hope Does Not Disappoint

Last December, a woman attended my Encouragement Event who was heartbroken over not being able to get pregnant. She came to pray one on one. She said very little, but I knew her story. She was tired of baby showers for other people. She was just tired. She could not reconcile why her desire was so strong if God had no intention of blessing her in this way. She had been told that there was sin in her life. She had to endure speeches entitled "maybe it's not God's will for you." Are we surprised when our pep talks do not bring relief?

As we talked, I knew that the Lord wanted her to keep believing. I knew that this mature believer's rescue was coming from the Lord. I knew that the enemy wanted her to give up and move on with her life.

So, I handed her a postcard of Romans 5:5.

A few months later, I read a note from her that said: “I’m believing double for my trouble.” She was soon pregnant with twins.

Her ultrasound was yesterday. They discovered one little son and one little daughter. A new note from her said: “Someone once said that hope does not disappoint. And that someone was right.”

It was Paul, not me, who said that in Romans 5:5:
Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Let's understand something: when we are hurting, that's all we can do. When we are depressed, that's all we can feel. We are numb to joyful situations in the middle of our pain. We are pulled into long days of hardship when one area of discouragement begins to spread into the other circumstances of our lives. It begins to cloud relationships. Our uncomfortable friends offer uncomforting comments.We need to resume our real life, not be content with our depressed one.

I'm sad to say that the contemporary Christian response to these aches has been: "Praise the Lord anyway!"

What happened to faith? What happened to waiting on the Lord?
When did we replace that with “be content with something else”?

September 3, 2009

Events Calendar

October 14, 21,28 2009 - Orlando, FL
St. Luke's UMC- MOPS Speaker

December 29, 2009 - Huntsville, AL

9:30 until noon
First Baptist Church - Encouragement Event
Worship led by Dan Crawford

April 1, 2010 - Kissimmee, FL
First Christian Church - MOPS Speaker

August 21, 2009

Identity Protection

My parents tell great stories about their children and grandchildren. Mom's stories in particular are told with such fun and finesse that they probably dwarf the actual event in interest but not in accuracy. Our family relates true, memorable moments from life. It is one of our favorite ways to stay connected to long distance grandparents and cousins. It is my favorite way to remember who we are as a clan.

Have you heard me tell the one about my 3 year old nephew Drew requesting hummus from the server at a seafood restaurant? Or about the time that Drew and my 2 year old William were playing together, but Will was not sharing. So Drew asked me when Will would be taking a nap? These stories glue us together.

Identity matters. When we are indentified as Christians, we want to take care to walk as He walked. If we are suffering an identity crisis, Jesus can help with that. He does want our identity to be in Him. He gave us His Word. He gave us His precious Holy Spirit. We have the resources we need. We belong to Him. He is our identity.

"Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard?
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Have you suffered so much for nothing- if it really was for nothing?
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" Galatians 3: 1-5

Our mission of any conference or workbook or shared prayer time is to keep before you and me an understanding that we walk in His power. We conquer in His name. We live by His Word. We are filled with His Spirit. We are not alone, trying to measure up or show off for Him. We began in the Spirit. We must walk in the Spirit. We will see His miracles in our lives and circumstances by believing what He said, not by human effort.

"But by my Spirit says the Lord."

July 30, 2009

How to encourage a hurting friend

The nicest thing that you can say to someone is only going to change that moment. The powerful things that God says to them will change their year. . .and their life. God speaks through His Word. His Word will bring about real relief. Practical, emotional, and spiritual wounds are treatable.

It was 10 years ago when I had a line of people trying to encourage me. But I was still miserable. I didn't feel better until God solved my problem. I had good days and appreciated kind words, but I needed my circumstances to change. I need God's power in my life, not just compassion.

Our best gift to hurting friends is to see them through to God's rescue, not just wish them well. Let's use His Word as a sword to stand guard over the vulnerable and wounded. Encouragement can shuttle someone into God's presence, so that they can hear His plan. His goodness includes real solutions, not just feeling content with our hardships.

We need to remind one another to boldly approach the throne of grace in our time of need.*
We need to remember that in this world, we may have trouble, but He has overcome the world.**

*Hebrews 4:16
**John 16:33

June 30, 2009

Last Stop on Generations Tour

Serenbe Inn, Palmetto, Georgia
"How to Bless the Next Generation"

On Saturday, June 27, I had the honor of spending the day with a group of precious believers from Newnan, Georgia. They were so open and responsive to the Word that I shared. Our meeting room was secluded at a beautiful inn, on a farm that instantly relaxes you as you drive its narrow roads, passing lovely homes, a farmer's market, shops and restaurants. It is a community designed to be tucked away.

This Encouragement Event was timely for me as I conclude this series and begin to prepare and pray about the next season for this ministry. I know that this place and others like it will be great venues for future Devoted Living Retreats. Our hope is to offer at least two reatreats in 2010, one back in the Atlanta area and one in Orlando as well. An event in Huntsville, Alabama is also on the calendar for late 2009. We hope that you can join us for worship, encouragement from God's Word, and a time to retreat from the world.

I have no ambition for this ministry, but I do have a desire to press on to God's next assignment. I will obey. Although, this series has been so fruitful in my life and in others, I know that blessing the next generation is a wise investment for us all to make. As I was sharing last weekend, the Holy Spirit showed me an area where I was not practicing what I preach. As I was talking to the group, I knew that I had an appointment for Him to show me some things about the way I have been teasing and talking about my children. I am so grateful to be aware of this now; it would grieve me to not be walking this teaching with my own family. I choose to bless. (Deuteronomy 30)

Thank you to all of the friends that I have met and visited in the following cities over the past year in Alabama, Florida and Georgia: Daphne, Mobile, Foley, and Prattville, Alabama; Atlanta area, Georgia, Winter Springs and Orlando area, Florida. I hope to see you all again at future events. Let me know what God is doing in your life in any of the areas discussed on the website or at your Encouragement Event.

Leigh Ann Crawford

June 17, 2009


Take this quiz:
1. Do you have Spirit power running your engines? yes or no
2. Do you speak curses? sometimes/never/always
3. What would your closest friends say is your plan for the future? blessing or disaster

It's time to make a plan. Our future is coming. We can plan for it or just react to it.
For about 10 years, I have been in the Lord's classroom (as my mom would say) in the area of my words. I have been praying for God's Words to speak over my family's future. My words get me into more trouble than anything else. Now the Holy Spirit, in love, reminds me when I am getting lazy or careless with my chatter. These verses provide some perspective.

"Our family will always struggle with this sin or that addiction."
"He is so rebellious."
"She is going to have such a hard life."
This should not be.

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" James 3: 9-12

Deuteronomy 11:26: "I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse." Curses? Isn't that a bit dramatic? Well, like so many other spiritual concepts, we can have it one way or the other.

"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. Who will proclaim it to us so we may obey it? I have set before you- life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life!" -Deuteronomy 30:11,19

Even after growing up in church, I did not understand until I was in my twenties that self control was a fruit of the Spirit. I believed that responding to the Spirit looked like an emotional reaction at best. Yes, I knew that God would not lead me to contradict His word, but I had a lot of gray area within that perimeter.

I almost dropped my Bible when I realized that Spirit fruit included self control. And that self control applied to my mouth. When I stopped a sin before it was in full bloom, I was a Spirit tree. Love and joy were great, but I often stopped at the beginning of that list in Galatians 5.

As my walk with the Lord became more of a daily relationship, rather than a weekly or monthly check in, I saw that He was rescuing me from hurts by preventing some unproductive conversations before they could start. He gave me a choice.

This is not too difficult! Choose life! Choose words that bless your future.

June 4, 2009

I'm Sorry!

I have a little quirk where I say, "I'm sorry" to everyone all day long. Now I hear our daughter saying it, and I want to be more careful. I want to say what I mean. Do you remember "My bad?" That was such a useful little phrase. It's not appropriate for me to use that in my little world, but I miss it. In the meantime, I have diluted the words we have for genuine apologies.

"I'm sorry" while my children were trailing into Target and the hurried guy was trying to enter at the same time and had to wait for us.
"I'm sorry, sweet girl, but those clothes do not match."
"I'm sorry those clothes are not appropriate."
"I'm sorry that you cannot wear that."
I have a lot of fashion related conversations with one of our kids.
"I'm sorry about the pain that your family is feeling these days."
"I'm sorry that we can't make it to that."
"I'm sorry that you lost your job."
"I'm sorry that I said that."

2 Corinthians 7:10-13
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret but worldy sorrow brings death.

Last week, I had some sweet friends over for an Encouragement Night at my house. They prayed for me, and I prayed with them. We talked about worldly sorrow and Godly sorrow. We talked about regret and how none of us like it. We looked at the passage above in light of God's plan for us: sorrow that leads to salvation that then leads to satisfaction.

Satisfaction means that we are not weighed down with regret. We are settled and peaceful and in a good place. We have an open line between to the Lord. We have confessed our sins; we have been praising Him and thanking Him regularly. Most importantly, we see that although we may have received salvation for our sin's punishment, we have accepted God's grace through Jesus. But there are situations every day where we need salvation. There are relationships that need to be healed, rescued, and saved.

We have heard so much about leaders of companies trying to save jobs. There are jobs that need to be saved. We need a Savior. We need that salvation with no regrets. Godly sorrow also involves pulling down any walls between us and God. I would include sin or hurt feelings or confusion or fear or addictions that have crept into our relationship with God. If we feel worldly sorrow, we are stuck. If we stay stuck, our relationship erodes. That brings death.

Worldly sorrow is really an experience where we feel sad or even regret something, but do not change. Have you ever felt powerless about something that you continued to do or say even though it made you miserable? Have you ever been stuck in a cycle of sin and regret and sin and more regret?

With Godly sorrow, however, we take a different road. We repent. I always think of that voice in the wilderness calling, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 3:2) John the Baptist introduced his listeners to changing their mind. In Mark 1:4, it is described as a baptism of repentance. He offered people a Savior to change their minds about their religious ruts and a way to step into a new life.

Unless we step out of that circle and do something radical to start a new path, we will dread the sound of our own words: "I'm sorry."

April 27, 2009

Power Up!

Power up and power down is a phrase that my technical husband uses. I know what he means, but I stubbornly still say, “I need to turn on the computer.” And “Will you turn off the computer?” As I type, his way sounds much cooler.

When I think of power, I usually think of Spirit power, not having a mechanical vein in my body. My dad and brothers would probably think of power cords, power machines, and power tools. If I don’t turn on the computer, it will not power up, even though it is there waiting for me anytime I need it. OK, sometimes, I have to wait my turn while the kids are using online, but that power will be there when I access it.

We can live very devout lives for the Lord. We can be the most faithful servants for the local body of Christ. We can love the Lord with all of our hearts. Then why can life seem so hard? Why do so many of us, who are Christians, have lives filled with fear and addictions and discouragement? Why do we have the same problems as the non-Christians?

We need to look at this. Are we powering up? Are we utilizing the power that has been offered to us?

When we are experiencing a lifestyle of fear, we need to attack it with its remedy: faith. Our faith creates a barrier of protection against fear filled thoughts. When we are losing battles with addictions in our lives, we must use the weapon we have been given in Christ: freedom. When we are miserable and depressed and running out of options: we need power.

Powerful? Is that an adjective that describes your walk with the Lord? Is power a part of your definition of being a believer? It is now. Look at the verses below. Who brings power when He arrives on the scene?

I Thessalonians 1:4:
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

Acts 1:7- But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit come on you. You will be my witnesses.

So, when we need to power up, we can. 24/7 access to the Holy Spirit means that we can get to that power whenever we need it. If temptation circles you in the quiet in the middle of the night, Power to resist is there with you. If you hear the voice of the accuser saying that you will never be happy or whole or healed, Power has another voice filled with the truth of God’s word. If each morning, you wake up with dread, not wanting to work or play or even live, Power gets your feet on the floor and your life back in gear.

Holy Spirit power is available to Christians. We are sometimes led to believe that strong Christians can put up with anything that enemy sends their way. But we really are not told to put up with sin or lies or addictions or even life's cares. We are offered power over them.

I Peter 5:7: Cast your cares on Him, He cares for you. (I have always loved the poetic use of the word "care" in that verse.)

Contentment means not always longing for something that your friends have that you can’t afford. It involves covetness that can keep your stirred up and never satisfied. Real life hurts and fears are to be given over to the Lord, not carried in His name. We are not asked to be content with pain or defeat.

Keep seeking the life of power. Take a look at the hardest areas of your life. Are they fears, struggles with addictions, or that dread of life feeling on your chest in the morning? God is not asking you to carry those around. He has given us the Holy Spirit as a power source.

So, Believers, let’s power up!

April 1, 2009

Molly's Thoughts

Molly Parker attended an Encouragement Event in March and later sent me this article she wrote for her local paper. I asked for her permission to share it here. Enjoy!

My extended family is a clever, fun-loving bunch. My peppy aunt hosted a bridal shower for my cousin over the weekend, and it was celebrated with classic “McSorley” flare. Everyone came dressed in an old bridesmaid (or mother-of-the-bride) dress. You know, an old dusty one from the past, picked right up off the closet floor – possibly resembling a large lamp shade when worn. Something peach colored, perhaps, with matching satin heels.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of going because, well, it was in California. (Sigh.)
But, I did have the pleasure of attending a women’s Bible study the very next morning here in Alabama. The adorable speaker was super with-it and very wise; her joy bounced all around the room filled with tired ladies in dire need of a good pick-me-up. (Well, at least I was one of THOSE ladies.)

She spoke of the things – both material possessions and character traits – we tend to pass down from generation to generation.

In speaking of material possessions, my grandmother has an antique rocking chair that, if passed down to me, I will proudly display in my favorite room. However, if I happen to inherit her glass, mustard yellow, “decorative” grape cluster, it’ll go in the closet where it belongs.
As for character traits, I would love to see my mother’s wisdom and love for God’s truth continue for many, many generations. On the other hand, family members who struggle with various addictions and fears, I pray for God’s healing touch on their lives so that their “stuff” is kept from sneaking into the next generation.

But knowing me, it’s so easy to lightheartedly say, for example, “Whew, that Charlie! Stubborn as can be…just like his grandfather.” But should stubbornness be brushed aside, moving on down the family line with such ease?

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

And our Bible study speaker reminded us of Jesus saying “don’t put old wine in new wineskins” and how Psalm 40:3 talks about the Lord putting a new song in our hearts. Do you see it? New! Fresh! Not old! God’s desire is for us to live joy-filled, grace-abundant lives – for this generation and the next. So let’s pass on the baton of “God traits,” not human traits.
In the meantime, I’ll be sure to grasp onto my aunt’s creative, party-planning, hospitable ways. But sorry, Dad, the love for ketchup and bologna sandwiches stops here.

March 26, 2009

Pray for Rescue

What is God's will for the generations?
What is His best for our families? According to John 10:10, the answer is a fulfilling life.

The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy,

but I have come to give you life and life abundant.

We can make two lists. Our enemy's plan is one column: steal, kill and destroy. And God's plan includes Life and Full Life. Wow. Isn't that simple? We can stall out in our walk so easily in times of crisis. I believe that my own major crisis time was extended by too much spiritual analysis of whether God was trying to teach me something and not enough faith in my Rescuer.

Analyzing God's will can take our already stretched time and energy. We have His will expressed in His word. He loves us. (I John) He protects us. (Psalm 91) He rescues. (Psalm 40)

We can admit that we are struggling and then begin to pray and believe for rescue. We looked at the whole chapter last weekend, but these few verses show you the reality of His benefits that Psalm 103 tells us not to forget. This writer- David- did not have an easy life, but he did have a Godly perspective. His perspective held that his only hope would come through the Lord.

Psalm 40:2-5
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and
put their trust in the LORD.

Blessed is the man who
makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

[These are the study notes from the Encouragement Event hosted by Robyn Clement in Prattville, Alabama. Thanks to the Clement Family and all of those who joined us that morning. I am praying for each of you to look for rescue and enjoy that life of yours.]

March 9, 2009

Treasures or Trinkets?

Saturday's event was such a wonderful experience for me as I had the privilege of sharing about cleaning out our spiritual closets. This group was willing to delve, and I am praying for each of them as they tackle the homework. As promised, these are the study notes from the March 7 Encouragement Event in Winter Springs, Florida.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. . .

Ephesians 3:20

When we lose a loved one, we have the monumental task of cleaning out their things. We have to sort the items according to whose they are now. We have to separate the treasure from the trinkets. What do we want to keep? What has value? Should we get rid of it or “keep it in the family?”

Just because we have inherited something and it now belongs to us does not mean that we should keep it, use it, or display it. We have been given some spiritual treasures from our parents and grandparents. But we have also been given some hurts, patterns of sin and sicknesses that we do not and should not pass along to the next generation. Those trinkets should be placed in the trash.

Proverbs 27:23-24 warns us : "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. "

We also learned that when we are given a treasure, we must take care of it, so that we do not lose that valuable quality: honoring the Lord as a family, growing in the Lord, letting go of our "immaturity" sins. We must deliberately establish the climate in our home. We can "repent" or change our mind from things that do not please the Lord.

Acts 2: 38-39: “Repent (change) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

During this process, we also remember the following:

1. Be specific with our children about our story. Our verbal communication with the next generation will give them a more accurate of account of "why" and "how" we serve the Lord. We cannot leave it to them to figure out on their own. Children do watch our actions; that is very important. But we must explain our reasons, because children often misunderstand our motives.

2. Keep working on forgiveness. This is a process for most of us, but it is a worthwhile effort.

3. Find a faith partner; not just a prayer partner. Ask the Lord for someone to pray with you who will also believe with you for the freedom from your past hurts and family's sins.

4. Be specific with the Lord about what you are hoping for your family's future. What do you want your family’s life to be like in 2 generations? Stronger or weaker, spiritually? What is God's will for the generations? To know Him. To be like Him. To serve Him.

Prayer for believers:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

Email Leigh Ann with questions:

March 1, 2009

Friends on the Frontline

This week, I am praying for friends and sisters in Christ
who are first generation believers.

You know who you are.

If you are fighting the good fight of faith.

If you are tired of being the only Christian in your family.

If you are serving the Lord with gladness.

If you are on the frontline of a battle with the Enemy of God.

"The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." I John 4:4

February 4, 2009

What's your plan?

The counsel of the LORD stands forever;
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
Psalm 33:11-12

God has a plan for the next generation. Do we have one? Are they identical? Similar? Explore your family's past, enjoy living in your own generation, and intentionally bless the next generation. Attend or host an Encouragement Event this year.

Worbooks are on sale at each event. Events are free!

February 3, 2009


As I study and prepare for this new series on the generations of family life, I am telling the story of my grandmother. I miss her so much. I tucked her in and said "Good Night" on Saturday, August 30, 2008 and then drove home to Orlando the next morning. She passed away just before I arrived home. My precious mother, her daughter, was with her.

Grandmother Delchamps was a writer and a gifted communicator. She intentionally taught me about the Lord. She faithfully prayed for each of us. She studied God's Word and was willing to be corrected by the Holy Spirit. Her legacy has strongly influenced this teaching.

I dedicate this year of study and each of the Encouragement Events in 2009 to her.

Thanks, Grandmother.

January 26, 2009

Believe and Do Not Doubt

All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. Psalm 25:10

As I plan for good things for my family and friends, I stand on faith. I wouldn't ask if I didn't believe that God loves us and has good in store for us. I can trust Him to heal hurts from my past. I know that He offers a fulfilling life now in the present. I seek His counsel for my future.

Since Christmas, though, each time I pray for blessings for my friends, I keep hearing these words: "Believe and do not doubt." He is teaching me that my prayer requests are taken seriously. He hears. He cares. He alone has the power to deliver these blessings. He is asking me to go a step further than I have gone before. To ask without doubting.

My new role as a prayer partner with my friends is to "not doubt." For me, this means to stand up for them when they are tired. To remind them of what God promised them. To offer perspective and power packed encouragement. I have waited a long time (years) for my prayers to be answered. God did answer. But it aches to wait and wait when we need Him to rescue us. We grow weary. That is why we need other believers to "spur us on." Even when we believe that He is our best hope. We still need to "not doubt."

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:23-24

Mixing in a little doubt with our well toiled faith eventually draws weeds of discouragement into our garden. Our encouragement team can pull weeds (lies from the enemy), water us with God's word, and get us into direct sun for good communication with God.

Who is praying for you today? Who is on your team? If you're reading this, you are not alone in the fight for God's best for you.

With love,
Leigh Ann

January 1, 2009

Let's Trade!

Was 2008 filled with grief or pain of any kind? Are you ready for a trade? On December 30, I met with a precious group in Mobile, and we examined the offer given to us in Isaiah 61:1-3.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

We give up our ashes and are given a garland or crown of beauty. My sister in law, Mary Faith, described this picture so perfectly. We are like a fireplace; Jesus cleans out all of the soot and ash and then adorns us with a beautiful garland.

When we are ready to conclude our season of mourning, He will anoint us with the oil of gladness. There is a grief process. When we experience great loss, we need to mourn. But when that season is complete, we can trade. The Holy Spirit will bring the Comforter that we need in order to live a full life again. (John 16:7, John 10:10) We can be glad again. He makes that possible.

The "mantle of praise" is something we can do to fight discouragement. This cloak is something we can wear or put in place in order to discard our spirit of fainting or heaviness. Praise and worship includes singing God's Word, writing about his goodness, or reading a Psalm aloud. We now have a tool to fight the real life grief that we face.

Another thing to remember is that freedom is available whether we are victims or sinners. We can be a captive based on someone else's sin, something we may not have known how to prevent. He sets us free. We may be inprisoned by our sin; He offers us liberty!

I'm ready for a new year. I'm trading my sorrows. I hope you will too.

Blessings on you and yours in '09.
-Leigh Ann