Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm Grateful for Duct Tape

"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Ephesians 5:20

I'm so grateful for my relationship with God, my husband, my 3 healthy children, my supportive family, my encouraging friends, my opportunity for ministry...

A warm home, a hot shower, nutritious food, a comfortable bed and duct tape. 

Yes, I'm grateful for duct tape. 

My husband's car is a piece of junk.  It was once a pretty sweet car bought when we had 2 incomes and were going through infertility and thought..."If we can't have kids, let's buy a car we couldn't have if we had kids." 
Now?  It's loud, rumbly, dirty and among the other many, many, many things wrong with it, this past summer, a shattered back window was added to the list.  We refuse to get it fixed because, sure enough, we would drop all this money to replace the back window and the car would immediately die.  So we are determined to drive this car until it won't drive any longer.  It's kind of a fun long will this car actually go?
Never-mind the fact that it reminds us of the car from Planes, Trains and Automobiles. 

Never-mind the fact that it also reminds us of the car in Tommy Boy. 

Never-mind the fact that the back window is now plastic and duct tape!

It really makes us laugh.  Even though it's frustrating...even though it's not at all ideal...
Shouldn't we be grateful that he has a car in the first place? 

A car that takes him to his many jobs that allows me to stay at home with our kids?  A car that takes him from point A to point B?  A car that, although is so ugly, somehow still works?  Yes!

The bible says to give thanks always and for everything.  Not just for the things that are perfect or beautiful or wonderful or fully functioning or exactly the way we want them to be. 

That's just not realistic.  That's just not real life. 

We are called to give thanks always and for everything and that's why I'm thankful today for our crappy car.  And that's why I'm grateful...for duct tape!

What unexpected thing in your life are you grateful for?

Father, help me to truly give thanks always.  Help me to truly give thanks for everything.  It's so easy to focus on what I don't have, so help me to focus on what I do have.  Lord, fix my eyes on You and help me to see the blessings You have given me.  Help me to be grateful for the big things, but also for those little things that I sometimes miss.  And as I celebrate Thanksgiving this week, help me to give thanks to You for everything in my life...including duct tape!  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

No, I'm NOT a Grandma!

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

For the last time...NO! I'm NOT a turn that music down and sit up straight!

Seriously though, is it possible that I look older than I think I do? 

Apparently, it is!   Because just today, I was shopping with my 2 little ones at Goodwill (the only place I shop), and a worker says to me:  "Oh, your grandkids are so cute."  I politely said, "Thank you, but these are my kids." 

I walked away angry.  I walked away totally offended.  Instead of focusing on the compliment about my kids (I mean, grandkids) being cute, I walked away feeling so upset at the fact that this lady actually thought I could be a grandma!!! 

How insulting!  How horrifying!  How....wait a minute...who is that old lady over there? 
Oh wait a minute, that is me.  That's my reflection in the mirror.  Really?  Is that what I look like?  Oh maybe she does have a point.  I do look old today.  Wait a minute...mathematically I guess it is absolutely possible for me to be a grandma.  So she's actually not too far off. 

So, why does this comment offend me so much? 

I don't know.  I really need to work on this, because it's not the first time someone has mistaken me for a grandma and unfortunately, it seems that it's not going to be the last. 

Either way, I want to embrace this whole aging thing, and like the bible says, whether I like to admit it or not, my outer self is in fact wasting away, but what God is doing with me on the inside is amazing.  Every day I get older means that every day, my inner self is being renewed...remodeled...restored and ready to serve Him in this world. 

Would I go back to my younger self again? 

Well...for my youthful face, non-stretched out tummy, non-wrinkly skin, non-gray hair...I'll admit, it's tempting.  I do love that young girl...only 26 years old in this picture...newly kids...looking ahead at what life is going to bring her.  She has no clue what's to come.  Part of me envies her.  Most of me does not.  

I know what's on the inside of that young unsure of God's love for unclear and unfocused on her purpose in life...and so many doubts and fears about her worthiness. 

So, no...I would not go back again.  (Other than to tell her not be so insecure about her body because it only goes downhill from there especially after the wear and tear of carrying 3 kids!)  I would also thank her.  She is the reason why I am the person I am today.  She is the reason I have so many stories and testimonies about God's unconditional love.  She is the reason I am strong and courageous and more confident and less selfish.  She is the reason that I know who I am.  She is the reason that I have grown to be this woman who can stand before you and exclaim that God loves me...flaws, wrinkles and all!  

God loves this grandma! 

Just for fun and to help us all laugh about getting older, I thought of 4 ways to know that you're getting old.


1.  The host of the Tonight Show is younger than you are!

2.  You have actually said, "Turn that music down!"  or thought "I wish they would turn down that music!"

3.  The actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West is younger than you are!  (Seriously, she was only 37 when she played that role!!!)

4.  You would rather stay in and watch a Lifetime movie than go out any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

Add yours in the comments below! 

Father, thank You for the aging process.  Thank you that even though our bodies get older, You renew us.  You are constantly working on us and helping us to become all that You have created us to be.  Thank You that with each day that comes, we are wiser...we are more mature...we are more ready to do all that You ask us to do.  Thank You for our past.  Thank You for the journey that we've been on.  Thank You that through every struggle...through every challenge, we have grown and have become more secure in who we are and in how much You love us!  Be with us as we continue down our path in life even if we do look like a grandma.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

To my Readers:  This post is not a plea for everyone to tell me that I don't look like a grandma!  Nor is it a plea for people to tell me how young I look.  Nor is it meant to offend anyone who is a grandma (especially those that are my age--I know several.)  It really is just about embracing aging and that's all.  :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sometimes I'm Not Proud to Be an American

“A nation without God's guidance is a nation without order. Happy are those who keep God's law!”
Proverbs 29:18
I'm sorry to admit this, but sometimes I'm not proud to be an
Don't get me wrong.  I am grateful to live here.  I am.  And I am even more grateful for the service men and women that we honored during Veteran's Day who fought to protect our country.  I'm in awe of them as well as the men and women who continue to step up to serve our country today. 
But sometimes I find myself wondering what those amazingly selfless, brave, and courageous men and women are fighting for!
We live in a country who is poisoning our food with pesticides, with artificial colors and dyes, with artificial flavors, with preservatives, with aspartame and who knows what else!
We live in a country who is adding antibiotics and hormones to our food and who is allowing animals to be mistreated and abused so we can eat all we can eat. 
We live in a country where the drug companies want us to self-diagnose to the point where no one cares about the root of our symptoms.  They only care about giving us a drug to mask them.  Then they give us another drug to mask the side effects. 
We live in a country where we allow our kids to play violent video games and watch violent movies and then wonder why they become young men who are desensitized and kill others without blinking.   
We live in a country where we always have to have more and we are never content with what we have.  
We live in a country who doesn't care enough for our veterans when they return home. 
My head starts spinning! 
We live in a country where kids bully...where education standards are low...where healthcare is ridiculous...where unemployment is high...where people are selfish...where everyone is in debt...where no one seems happy...where no one seems healthy...where church isn't attended...where money is more important than anything else... where our freedoms come above our moral obligation to teach right from wrong...
And I could go on...
And just when I think I can't stand it anymore and I feel so frustrated and discouraged about the country we live in...I see our flag waving in the breeze at my son's school.  And I stop.
"God bless our country" the kids and I always say.  Then we talk about how our country is free and what that means.  How we all can get an education...even girls.  How we can all can go to church and worship God wherever and whenever we want.  How so many brave men and women fight to protect us so we don't have to be afraid walking to and from school every day. 
And just when I think God feels so absent from our country, I see a brother reaching out to help his sister whose husband has cancer...I attend an event for an organization who helps battered women and children...I see a father working 2 jobs for their family...I see a mother pumping milk for another mother to give her child breast milk...I see young kids praying over a friend at church...I learn of a man bringing socks to homeless people...I see my child's teacher pouring love into her students and his principal who cares enough about each student to memorize all their names...and I hear the school kids reciting our Pledge of Allegiance during the morning announcements.  As I hear the words "One nation, under God," I cry.
And I realized...God is here. 
Even though there is so much negativity among us, God is with us.  God is in us and works through us.  God is in even the smallest kindness that we do.  God is in even the quietest words that we say.  Even though all the bad seems to drowned it out, there really is so much good in our country when I take the time to look for it...when I take the time to see what God is doing. 
When I see the good, I feel grateful for our country.  I feel grateful that we are free.  Grateful that we are free to love and serve others. 
And I feel proud.  Proud to be an American.  Proud to serve alongside fellow Americans who give so much of themselves for so our our our our our our our our neighbors and even to strangers...and to our country.
So, moving forward today, I don't want to focus on the bad.  I want to focus on the good.  I want to do what I can to be a loving parent, a dedicated wife, and a serving citizen.  I can only do the best that I can each day and pray about the rest.  So instead of feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, I can just give to God the things about our country that I don't like...don't understand...or can't control.  
I have to intentionally start praying for our country right now.  Will you please join me? 
Father, I lift our country up to you.  Lord, protect our service men and women who bravely fight for our freedom...who give so much of themselves...even their own lives for us.  Lord, I want our Veterans to be proud of the country they are fighting for and feel that their efforts, lives, and sacrifices are worth it.  Remove the bitterness and negativity that I feel about our country sometimes.  Help me to see the good...the love...the giving...the sacrifices...going on all around me.  Help me to appreciate more than ever the freedom that we have to love You, serve You and love others.   Help me to be proud to be an American!
I pray for wisdom and guidance for our leaders, drug companies and food industry.  I pray over the parents in our country as well as our precious children.  Lord, shine Your light into our country and on all those who call it home.  I pray for more of You in our homes and our schools and our communities.  We need You in our country. We need Your hope...Your love...Your joy!  We need You in our lives.  In Jesus' name. Amen. 
Please take a minute to listen to "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood.  I cry every time.  Such a great reminder of how precious our freedom really is!
Help me to continue to see the good in our country!  Please share what you love about our country or leave your prayers for our country in the comments. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

31 Day Writing Challenge Wrap Up-Reflecting Back Over the Last 31 Days

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him
and He will direct your paths." 
Proverbs 3: 5-6
31 Day Writing Challenge Wrap Up

I originally said "No" to doing this 31 Day Writing Challenge.  When a dear friend sent me information about it, I immediately said I didn't have time to do it.  I didn't have anything to write about, and I certainly didn't have anything that I could write about for 31 days! "No, No, No!" 

God had another answer in mind..."Yes!" 

Oh man!

God said, "Yes, you are going to do this.  You will write about fear, and here are your topics."  He gave me each topic that I was to write about and the order I was supposed to write them.  I quickly wrote them all down.  I've learned to follow Him and obey Him...period!  So I guess I'm doing this writing challenge then, God?

Yes, you are!

Every day, I would look at the topic and start writing.  Some days, the personal story that I was going to write about quickly came to my mind.  Some days, it didn't.  Some days I was excited to write about my topic.  Some days, I wasn't. 

The interesting part is that on those days where I felt unenthused...on those days where I felt uninspired...on those days where I wanted to change the topic because I felt it was too repetitive or it felt way too personal...those were the days where someone would send me a message saying "I really needed to hear that today." or "Your post really spoke to me today." or "What you wrote really made an impact on me." 

Ok, God.  I will continue to trust You on this writing journey. 

So, I stuck faithfully with His list only making minor changes here and there...with God's permission, of course!  God knew what I needed to write about each day, and so I trusted Him completely to speak to me as well as use me to speak to others.    

Throughout this process, I cried...I laughed...I felt moments of panic...I felt moments of great joy...I felt moments of fear...I felt moments of more panic...I felt moments of frustration and discouragement...I felt moments of elation and encouragement...

And you don't know how many times I thought "I can't believe people are going to be reading this." 

Many people asked me "How did you have time to write?"  I didn't!!  I had to make the time.  I stayed up late...I got up early...I wrote all throughout the day too.  I ignored huge piles of laundry...I ate standing up...I put off cleaning the dishes...I threw together last minute meals...I turned away from messes that needed to be cleaned up...I didn't watch TV (although my kids did--A LOT!)...I lowered my standards for everything in my life...I wore the same clothes twice (ok, maybe three times).  

Writing became a part of my daily life...part of my routine.
I wrote and I got three kids dressed, fed, and out the door.
I wrote and I ate breakfast.
I wrote and I read books.

I wrote and I played magic tricks and football and Uno and baby dolls.
I wrote and I ate lunch.
I wrote and I watched my youngest son take his first steps.

I wrote and I had play dates.
I wrote and I went to church.
I wrote and I taught Sunday School.
I wrote and I spoke at a moms group.
I wrote and I celebrated my youngest son's 1st birthday.

I wrote and I went to a Fishing Derby.
I wrote and I coordinated a Moms Night Out.
I wrote and I had a Praying Moms Group.
I wrote and I went on a family hike.

I wrote and I ate dinner.
I wrote and I invaded the kids' movie night candy drawer.
I wrote and I got three kids bathed, read to, had special time with, and tucked into bed.
I wrote and I enjoyed a date night with my husband.

I wrote and I went to bed.
Then I would wake up and write again.  

Let me tell you, it was one crazy month!

Writing became intertwined with every part of my daily life.  Life kept going and I kept writing.  It was constantly in the back of my mind.  I was either thinking about what I had written or what I was going to write about all the time.  It was truly exhausting! 

Am I glad it's over?  Yes.  Am I sad it's over?  Yes!  But mostly, I'm just grateful.  I'm so grateful for this journey.  I'm so grateful for this experience.  I'm so grateful for my obedience to God.  I'm so grateful for all of the encouragement and blessings I received from all of you.  I'm so grateful that God shined His Light into all of my fears and through my stories, He was able to shine His light into your lives and fears as well.

Let's keep shining His Light within the darkness of ourselves so that we can be a brighter Light for Him in this world!

Blessings to you all!
Christine Leeb

Father, I give all of my fears to You!  Fear is a struggle that I have to face each day.  I break the power of those fears with Your precious word.  Help me to remind myself when fears creep into my mind that You haven't give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control. 
Thank you for using my blogs for Your bigger purpose.  Thank you for helping me conquer my fears through faith in You.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to encourage others and share Your love with others through this journey.  I pray that You will continue to show everyone Your love and fill everyone with Your faith.   God, I pray that You will shine Your light into the fears that we all have and give us all bold confidence to walk forward trusting You with our lives.  Fill us all with Your faith instead of fear.  Let fear be conquered in Jesus' name!  Amen.

To the Readers:  Seriously...thank you!  I truly appreciate those of you who took the time to share a kind word and words of encouragement.  This was such an exhausting month, but when you took the time to read and comment on my blogs, it really made me smile and gave me that extra boost I needed to keep writing.  I will keep writing because I've learned that God can really speak through me in my writing, but I'm taking a break for a while, as I'm sure you can understand.  :-)  I really need to give my family my undivided attention.  I will wait to see what God has for me next.  In the meantime, keep shining!

Start from the beginning of this 31 Day Writing Challenge:  31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith