Writer, business woman, lay minister...mother, daughter, wife, friend...with a past and a future. This is my story. This is our story. This blog is the compilation of my experiences and the women I meet in the ministry. It is our gift to you.
*Names may be changed to preserve the confidentiality of the work we do. The facts of their experiences will not be altered. I hope to be honest, unbiased and clear; however, this blog is not a politically correct place. This blog will be used to glorify God, spread the Good News of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and to encourage other believers in their own walk.
Mark and I have been through our share of "stuff". We've had our challenges and I would hazard a guess we would both admit that most of them we have brought on ourselves. It wasn't so long ago, both of us would have tried to change things, manipulate those around us and find a way, albeit an imperfect way around the fixes we'd found ourselves in. I'm not too proud to admit that as I stood outside my office that brisk January day, looking down at the arrest warrants the Sheriff's officers held in their hands, the one thought going through my head was "I can get out of this, think, Leslie, think. What do I do?"
Sadly enough in that moment, the thought wasn't a plea to God or a repentant confession. Rather it was another round of mental manipulation that would assure I could get out of this rocky situation. I sat in the police station, a small gold bricked room with a table and three uncomfortable chairs crammed in still thinking about how I could best deny any guilt and get back to work. Logic was escaping me, work already knew what I was accused of doing, they were instrumental in my arrest and I wasn't welcome back there. Machines had been put into motion that all the talking in the world would not get me out of, not my best con or fastest thinking. The two officers asked me questions and I pretended not to know a thing about what they were talking about, all the while amazed how they could almost trace my steps. They asked questions, I denied knowledge.
When days of denial turned into weeks of incarceration, I didn't have anywhere to turn. It's hard to turn to anyone when we are in denial of our part in any circumstance. It would take months for me to understand that turning to God means little if we aren't straight with Him. Repentance is a big part of our relationship with God. He already knows what we've done but He awaits an honest and repentant heart. Yet grateful am I that in the very instant we come clean, lean on Him in all things and accept His ways as best our hearts know how, He is there for us; working miracles in our lives and answering prayers.
I've often said I don't understand God and that holds true today. I served a 1 year state jail felony 2 for 1 in county jail (grace grace grace) after I got on my knees and gave myself to the Lord. Mark's drastic reduction on a second offense (there are folks in state jail serving time for a second DWI offense) is nothing short of a miracle. Grace is all over our lives and if nothing convinces someone, pure grace should! Mark and I were both guilty. We deserved much more than we got. God dealt with us gently. Mark may be smiling and confident (as he says) in God, for me, God still amazes me. When He takes what we do and turns into a gentle lesson taught by a loving Father, we can do nothing more than be in awe of His grace and love.
But it all starts with a repentant heart.
Mark often says, "God knows your heart," and he's right. He knows when we have come to that place we cannot handle, when we need love and when we need correction. He works things out perfectly and provides a means out of our own messes when we see no way out. He waits for moments in our lives when our will has cost us the most and He comes in to show us amazing grace and love.
For Mark and I, God is more than the lyrics in a song, His handiwork is alive in our lives. His ways are perfect and because of that, I can do nothing but give thanks and continuously worship Him. For there is only one truth in my life, a truth told in lyrics but evidence none the less of our loving God:
My chains are gone I've been set free My God, my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy reigns Unending love, Amazing grace.
(Amazing Grace - my chains are gone: Chris Tomlin)