Thursday, April 25, 2013

He Was Taken Too Soon

It was a beautiful day yesterday. Too beautiful to attend a funeral but that is where I found myself with my teenage son, Carson. As we walked through the cemetery, there was a cool breeze that blew, yet not a sound to be heard. Even the birds were quiet.

Moments of silence.

Moments of respect.

As Carson took his place, next to his football teammates, my eyes were fixed on the casket while tears streamed down my face. A knot in my stomach grew to the point that I could barely breathe.

How does a thriving thirteen year old boy die in his sleep? 

Lord, why did you have to take Bennett from his family? He was so young and had such potential? 

As the American flag was taken off of Bennett's coffin and handed to his mother, she cradled it as her body gave way into uncontrollable sobs. Sobs that only a mother can birth. Sobs that will continue for months to come.

Last night, after saying prayers with Carson, I lingered by his bedside for a few extra minutes.

Carson, can I give you a hug?

Why, Mom?

Because I love you and because I can. Bennett's mom can't hug him tonight but I can hug you.

Carson smiled and gave me a one of those "thirteen year old hugs" that only a mom of a teenager can appreciate. As he pulled the covers over his shoulders and closed his eyes, my heart whispered...

Lord, life is so precious and fleeting. Never let me take a single moment for granted. 
Question: Have you hugged your child or someone you love today? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Dirty Dozen

One of my least favorite things to do is go grocery shopping.

I seem to always overspend, only to get home and realize I completely forgot something that our family needs right away like bread, milk, or even toilet paper.

Personally, I find the big box stores overwhelming. They have just too many choices and it takes forever to get through the entire store.  "Rice on Isle 198!"

I typically end up at two different neighborhood grocery stores on the same day. One store has great meat, fish, and chicken selections. The other has boxed food (cereal, cookies, pasta, brownie mix) at a much cheaper price.

As a busy mom, I don't take the time to really educate myself in the culinary arts but I do want to purchase and prepare food that tastes good and is healthy for my family.

Lately, I've been seeing words like lactose free, gluten free, range free, hormone injected, and genetically modified. The scary part is that I'm finding these words on food labels in my local grocery stores. And, they're listed right next to words I can understand like sugar, flour, and salt.   

Last week, I was sharing this new found information with my friend, Joanie. She's a mom that knows all about the important things to feed her family. In fact, I'm pretty sure Joanie's name is on the Moms Nutritional Hall of Fame list. She only buys organic fruits and veggies, free range chickens and said something about sharing a cow with a neighbor.

We were only three minutes into the conversation and Joanie could tell by the look on my face, that I was slowly slipping into an overloaded information coma. That's when she asked, "Have you heard of The Dirty Dozen?"

The Dirty Dozen...isn't that an old movie? 

Joanie laughed and suggested that I start simply by reading The Dirty Dozen, which is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticide residue. This list is put out annually by the Environmental Working Group which estimates that individuals can reduce their exposure by 80% if they switch to organic when simply buying these 12 foods. 

This seemed so doable to me so I printed out the list and now take it with me to the grocery store. I thought you might like a copy of it too.

The Dirty Dozen 

If you want to know more, check out this article by Dan Shapely at

Here's a video for those of you who would rather watch instead of read. VIDEO

Question: Do you think buying organic food is a healthy choice or just hype? Where do you like to shop for organic food? Do you have any healthy food tips you'd like to share on my blog today?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Good Bye Fear (Giveaway)

UPDATE: The winner for this week's giveaway is Cheryl. Please email your shipping address to That way I can send you a copy of "Untroubled Heart" this week. Congratulations! Leah


When I was in my early teens, I lived a pretty sheltered life. I had the mentality that nothing bad would ever happen to me. Then, one day I found myself right in the middle of a really bad situation. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time resulted in a pistol being put to my head. A robbery that was sudden and unexpected, yet terrifying for this naive teenage girl. 

"Don't move or I'll shoot!" The words of my abductor rattled me to my very core.  As I stood there shaking uncontrollably, I could feel the pistol resting against my temple. The hard steel surface of the gun's tip pressed forcefully into my head. As my heart pounded rapidly a repeated thought kept running through my mind, "I'm going to die - my life is over."

Fortunately, that day was not my last and by the grace of God, I'm alive today to share my story. Although I had no physical wounds from that horrible experience, the emotional and mental scars were carved deep into my heart, penetrating to the center of my shaken soul. It bubbled up to the surface in the form of extreme fear that haunted me for a very, very long time.

Replaying the horrible scenario in my mind would keep me up many nights and when I was awake, I would be afraid to go anywhere alone. Or, be left alone.

What if I ran into this person again? What if he recognized me? What if he had followed me home that horrible day and knows where I live? What if he came looking for me?

I didn't feel safe...anywhere.

I was afraid....most of the time.

I worried.... and the "what ifs" haunted me.

Looking back, I realize fear ruled my life and dictated my decisions. My biggest regret is not having God's Word hidden in my heart. If I would have taken the time to memorize Scripture during that season of distress, my fearful thoughts could have been replaced with God's promises of protection.

When the "what-if" worries came, I could have traded those thoughts in for God's truth. For it is the truth of  Jesus that sets us free.

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 
Jesus answered, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life...John 14:6

On those nights when I was lying awake in bed, I could have been reminded of this promise:
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant. Proverbs 3:24 (HCSB) 

When I worried about my intruder coming back for me, I should have remembered this promise:
Be strong and courageous; don't be terrified or afraid of them (him). For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31:6 (HCSB)

When I was alone and scared, I would have focused on this verse to calm my heart:

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB)

Have you experienced something tragic in your past that has left you fearful? Maybe a situation in your present circumstances is haunting you with "what-if" lies and worries? Do you lay awake at night gripped with fear and anxiety? 

If so, I understand and I have the answer that can get you past your fears and propel you into unshakable faith! Do you want freedom from your fears? I do.

Real and sustainable freedom is only found in Jesus and His powerful Word.

If you don't have God's Word hidden in your heart, you can start fresh today by memorizing a couple Scriptures verses. Feel free to use the ones I've posted above. Speak them out loud and let them mend your heart and soul. Fear comes from the enemy and he can't stand to hear the Words of Jesus. So, speak them loud and clear - it will send him running every single time.

Question: What is your greatest fear? Are you still struggling with it or have you overcome it? 

Goodbye Fear Giveaway
To help you along your journey, I'm giving away a copy of Micca Campbell's book, "An Untroubled Heart - Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears".

To be eligible for the drawing here's what you need to do:

1. Share your comments to the Focus Questions above on my blog.
2. Share today's post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. (see buttons below)

**Please include your name with your comment. I'll need it in case you're the winner. 

I'm heading to the Living Proof Conference this weekend but will post the winner on Monday. So, be sure to stop by on Monday or check here:

Leah's Facebook Page
Leah's Twitter Page 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Keys To A Crazy Marriage

Today, Keith and I celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary. Gosh, I just can't believe we've been married for 27 years! The time has flown by and yet it seems like we have always been together. It's hard to imagine life without Keith and the slightest thought of it brings a knot to my throat and tears to my eyes. 

Just like so many other couples, our marriage has been filled with lots of ups and downs. It's been CRAZY at times and downright hair-pulling on occasions. Emotional and thrill seeking all mixed together. 

Happy moments and sad times

Wonderful conversations and tense arguments

Laughter and tears

Joy and heartache

Words and silence

Passion and anger

Marriage is wonderful and hard, all at the same time. I guess you could say it's wonderfully hard.

It takes a lot of work but the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices. Marriage can be a crazy wild ride filled with adventure and excitement. The journey together can be fulfilling or empty. It's all based on what a husband and wife are willing to pour into the marriage mix to make it work.

As I reflect back on our 27 years  together, some very important key elements rise to the surface of my heart. These elements are what I'd call the KEYS to a Crazy Marriage. Crazy in love, that is.

1. Patience - May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Romans 15:5

2. Sacrificial Giving - Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38

3. Perseverance - You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

4. Communication - Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you. Ephesians 4:29

5. Servant's heart - Serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13b

6. Commitment Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.  Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?  And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12a

7. Laughter - .A cheerful disposition is good for your health Proverbs 17:22

8. Unity A man will leave his father and mother and will remain united with his wife, and the two will be one...Therefore, don’t let anyone separate what God has joined together. Matthew 19:5b-6

9. Love - 1 Corinthians 13 (the whole chapter is on love)

10. Christ Centered - May they be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. John 17:21   

All of these keys are important, but if I had to pick just one to represent the greatest of them all, I would have to pick #10 - A marriage that is Christ Centered.

Without Christ, our marriage would have failed before our first anniversary. He is the glue that has held us together for the last 27 years. Without Christ, none of these keys to a crazy-in-love marriage would have been lasting or sustainable. With Him, everything is possible! 


It's Your Turn:
Which one of these keys are most evident in your marriage? Which ones are missing? How can you begin taking steps to build a crazy-in-love marriage that lasts a lifetime?