Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe for Snowballs!

After many requests I am sharing with you one of my tastiest Christmas memories. If you decide to make my Grandma's snowballs this year, please say a prayer for her, Mamie Smith. She is in a nursing home and so ready to go to heaven. :) She married Papa (Elmer) on Christmas Day. They eloped! Boy, would I like to have the rest of that story!! And wouldn't it be great it they could spend Christmas together? Papa went to heaven December 1995.

Recipe for Snowballs...
1 stick of butter, softened (forget that you did this)
1 cup of sugar (better forget this too)
1 small can of crushed pineapple undrained
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup finely chopped dates
1 package butter cookies
2 tubs cool whip (or other whipped topping)

To make the yumminess: Cream sugar and butter together until smooth. Stir together pineapple, dates and nuts, add to sugar mixture and stir well. Cover cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Place butter cookies about 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. Alternate a layer of yumminess with butter cookies until you have stacked yumminess between 3 butter cookies (3 cookies, 2 layers of yumminess). Cover cookies stackes with cool whip, then sprinkle with cocunut. Place in freezer for at least 3 hours. Voila!! ENJOY!
I know from experience they will save til summer. But the health department would most likely not recommend that. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Boundaries and Barbed Wire

If you've been reading my blog for the past several months you know that I'm praying through the darkest valley of my life (thus far). In this valley I've learned that the battle I'm fighting really has two fronts. One is the obvious one with the circumstances that are breaking my heart and the other is with God.

That's right...my spiritual warfare includes my own personal struggle in my relationship with God. I'm not struggling with loving Him. Nor do I struggle with serving Him. But I do struggle with His sovereignty in this situation.

Every step of the way I've defined the reasonable boundaries of the other battle front. For instance I tell God what lines the Enemy must not be allowed to cross. I started doing this in June. But soon after I defined the boundary line, the Enemy crossed it. I was devestated. Then, last month I defined the boundary with a deadline. The Enemy blasted over that boundary too.

Today I'm tempted to define two more boundary lines. My struggle with God has been unnecessarily magnified by these boundary lines. Once I define the boundaries I decide that I know better than God how much is too much and how long is too long. When I do that I totally disregard God's Word in Isaiah 55:9

"As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

The boundaries I construct become like barbed wire. They hem me in when I pray. I camp out just this side of them and spend much of my energy begging God to keep them strong. Thus far, those boundaries have been blatantly disregarded by the Enemy and when he plows through them he drags me behind him. Often I'm left on the other side of that barbed wire bleeding and wounded wondering where God was when I just got taken further than I ever wanted to go into the depths of this valley.

But today, I've decided to stop marking off the territory. I'm finally ready to say to God--wherever You want to go; and whatever You want to do, take me there and do that. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are Your ways higher than mine and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts.

You know what You're up to and I trust you."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hearing the Voice of God

So, I've been teaching people to pray for years now, and one question that I hear a lot is: "How do I hear the voice of God?" The first person who asked me this was my daughter Kaleigh. She was six. "Mama, I know that when I pray, I talk to God. But how does He talk to me? I hear Daddy when he talks to me; I hear you when you talk to me; but I don't hear God? Why doesn't he just talk to me like you do?"

Just last week my son, TJ asked the same question. His went like this, "Mom, seems to me that if God made mouths and ears for us to use when we communicate with one another--He'd understand that THAT is the way we hear! Why then, doesn't He just speak to us with His own mouth so that we can hear Him with our own ears?"

My Sunday School answer to everyone--Kaleigh, TJ and all the others who've ever asked me about hearing the voice of God--has been, that most of what God has to say to us He's already said in His Word. We just need to read it; obey it; and as we do that we'll get better at being able to trust that inner "feeling...voice...whisper...whatever it is inside of us that makes us feel like we're hearing a voice other than our own..."

I don't think you can be a follower of Christ without spending time in His Word on a daily basis. How can you follow Him if you don't know where He's leading you?

With that said, I do read the Bible almost every single day. And everytime I open God's Word--He has a WORD for me. But sometimes, when I'm in a faith workout season of my life (such as I am in right now), I begin to hear that inner voice a bit louder. But because I know that my own thoughts can interfere with God's voice I always make whatever it is that I think I've heard from God--bow down to His Word. I ask God to validate the "voice" with Scripture.

This happened to me on October 20. I thought I heard God tell me something that I VERY MUCH wanted to hear. It was a miracle He was going to perform by Thanksgiving Day. In keeping with my own rule, I asked Him to validate His "word" to me by giving me Scripture. God gave me Isaiah 55:11-13 (a passage of Scripture that tells us that God's Word never returns to Him without first accomplishing all that He means for it to accomplish.) I was excited to hear this; since I'd waited for months for God to do this miracle. But the closer I got to Thanksgiving; the more I doubted whether or not I'd heard God's "word" or just validated my own desire.

Only Jesus never had to feel this way. He always heard His Father's voice. And He never doubted if His own desires were playing tricks on Him. His "secret" was that He'd come to a place where He genuinely had "no will of His own." (see John 6:38)

I haven't come to that place. I have a will of my own. I have my own timing and my own limits to my own distress. On Thanksgiving Day I learned that I still have much to learn and more to "die to." My miracle didn't come--not the way I expected it. But, in keeping with His faithfulness, God renewed my strength! (Isaiah 40:31).

He also gave me another "word" on Friday afternoon when I went with Kaleigh to the attic to pull down some decorations. This one was definitely from Him--it was printed on the doorframe that connects TJ's room to the attic. It was put there by the men who did the remodeling for us. I've been in and out of that door at least 100 times and have never seen that "word" before. So--because I know that God hears me everytime I pray; because I know that He collects every tear I shed; and because I believe that He is WITH ME NOW; I KNOW I heard Him this time. The verse above that door said this,

Philippians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

And that "word" from that "voice" is quite enough for me today.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Never Doubt in the Darkness

"Never doubt in the darkness what you believed in the light." (Joni E. Tada)

A very good friend sent me this quote today and oh did I need it! Lately I've heard myself say some things I never would have EVER thought would come out of my mouth.

No, I'm not cussing like a sailor-that would be mild compared to what I've said. Here I am bumbling about in a darkness created by someone I love very much and everything I've ever taught is heckling me in the shadows.

How can God be good when He doesn't answer your cries?
Maybe He doesn't really hear you!
Maybe He doesn't even care.
Maybe His are IS too short to save and His ear IS too dull to hear!
Maybe you don't know how to hear Him at all!

I'm afraid I'm guilty of doubting in the darkness what I believed in the light. I know God is good. I know He loves me. I know He will answer my prayers for His very own glory (which includes my very own good).

But...the mean time is MEAN! And there are still 24 hours in a day. And when all that surrounds me points to the exact opposite of all that I am praying...

I guess that's what makes the darkness dark. So, let me see if I can recall what I believed in the light. Here is an excerpt from chapter 2 in my upcoming book "Spiritual Warfare for Women"

Every attack from the Enemy brings with it a divine invitation from the sovereign hand of God to learn by experience what love does.

If I did not believe that truth I wouldn’t be writing this book. I told you in the introduction that since I started writing I have been diagnosed with cancer, our church was flooded and my daughter left home. I’ve no doubt that what I have experienced is more than what some of you have experienced in the past few months and less than what others of you have experienced recently. As I reference my personal battles please know that in no way am I diminishing the battles you face. I am humble as I share with you that already I have experienced the love of God in each of these situations. Two of them (the cancer and flood) have impressively demonstrated the power and glory of God. And I am fully convinced that He will do the same, perhaps even bigger and better in my daughter’s life as well. Furthermore, I am convinced that God will also demonstrate His power and His glory in whatever circumstances you find yourself in today.

Every attack from the Enemy, every one brings with it a divine invitation to experience what God’s love does. Romans 8:28 speaks to this truth:

Romans 8:28 (HCSB)
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

"Never doubt in the darkness what you believed in the light."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Catching up with my blogging friends

Blogging is such an interesting hobby--one that I've neglected during this season of my life. The problem is that when I blog I don't really know who I'm talking to; and because I like to process my intimate thoughts when I write, I'm tempted to spill all my inmost thoughts to the faceless and nameless masses.

Only if I do that during these days I will infringe on the personal lives of people I love a WHOLE LOT! And...tomorrow I might be sorry that I divulged so much personal STUFF to people who are too smart to divulge their STUFF in return. :)

So...I've resisted the urge.

But in an effort to get back in the blogging saddle here I am!Let me see if I can just give you some little snapshots of my life (Kind of like the snapshots we don't admit that we like to digest in People magazine while we're waiting to earn our Kroger points at the grocery.)

TJ is doing something that I would have never expected him to do...He's NOT playing basketball anymore (I am thanking God for that decision daily.) But instead He's joined the Cheerleading squad!! I would have NEVER imagined that my SON would be my high school cheerleader!! Go EAGLES!

Kaleigh has just about decided to attend Samford University next year! And we are so excited about that...First, it's only 2 1/2 hours down the road. And second, Samford is my alma mater!! Go Bulldogs!

Mikel is giving Tom and me a granddaughter in January or February 2011. We are looking forward to seeing what God has in mind for all of us through the precious life of Misty Sierra. :)

There you go...a snapshot. Oh, and if you've been following my blogs! Our seniors won their float contest! I can't find a picture right now so go to Kaleigh McCoy's facebook page and see her pictures. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Class of 2011

I love the Class of 2011. Don't tell the classes of 2010 or 2013, but this one is and always has been my favorite. Ever since they were babies in the nursery at church I have loved them. There were always more of them. As they grew up we scrambled to find them enough rooms and teachers. The class of 2011 is filled with leaders and question askers and dreamers and mischief-makers.
And in 2007 they chose to come to my house to build their homecoming float. A few other mothers and I fed them sloppy joe's and pizza. We figured that if they were fed they would stay on task. I was impressed that although 2/3rds of them were from Heritage and 1/3 were from Page--they quickly traded stories and friendships and allowed themselves to grow together to be the IHS class of 2011. As sophomores they made me so proud when at least 100 of them worked together to create a submarine. And as junoirs they truly outdid themselves with their pirate ship (even if the live fish did find their way somehow into my girls' bathtub on Friday night)!!
They are coming back today--I'm not sure what they'll build, but I'm headed to Kroger to get the ingredients for my 4th round of sloppy joe's and pizza. I can't wait to have them descend on my house this week. We'll have tissue paper piled sky high, and we'll be picking up wire for the next 6 months but this is what I live for. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

To GOD be the Glory...

2010 will go down as the year God literally "rocked my world." Not in a "rock concert, WOW, that's so cool!" kind of way but more like an earthquake, shake the foundations tsunami flood kind of way.

I am trying to journal and catch ALL the truth treasures that are whirling around me, and there are too many to record. But one of the greatest was this one that God taught me just this past week. (Actually I think He finally got to the POINT He's been trying to make with me for many years.)

It's these "rock my world" revelations that make the destruction almost bearable. (OK...I'm being melodramatic...actually the "destruction" is more than bearable. I was with my entire family yesterday and laughed until I almost cried. I think that is a bit like dancing in the fire! The valley is certainly bearable and the companionship there is actually cherished.)

But back to my truth treasure. I was praying for my daughter whom I love and telling God how I thought HE ought to work things out. He reminded me that HE is about HIS own glory not hers. This is what He asked me, "Leighann, do you want MY GLORY in this or (He said her name...)'s?"

I love it when God asks me questions, it's not like HE doesn't already know the answer. So I smiled and said, "Hers!" He smiled right back and whispered, "That's whay I thought. Don't forget my precious daughter-Mama...I am a JEALOUS GOD and the only GLORY I'm interested in is MY own."

That could sound arrogant or full of pride if it weren't for the fact that God is perfect and HE knows that His own glory is the only Glory there is. To focus His energy and attention on any other glory would be futile (and sacreligious). As a mother I want what makes my daughters and son happy. I want them to have lives void of suffering and free of pain. I want so much for them! But, if I pray for God to do something in their lives that is motivated by my mother heart the heart that cringes at pain...and if God's glory involves a measure of suffering on my child's part then I have to understand that He is willing to sacrifice my children's safety for His glory.

I know what I want. You see I have a "vision" of what would bring God great glory.It's a picture painted in my mind (more like a dvd that runs continually). But if God's GLORY is better demonstrated through something that doesn't look exactly like my picture then I have to decide if I'm willing to yield my picture to His Glory. Ephesians 3:20 tells me that God wants to exceed my dreams and abundantly overwhelm my requests with HIS OWN GLORY.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Glorious Fish Bowl

As I write this post, I'm in another state, far away from Tennessee and my church family. I'm enjoying the glory of the Lord in the mountains--a glory that is only there. :)

Sunday we shared our story--it was not easy, not even the 4th time. (Because we have 3 services and were leading a class for our adult leaders Sunday morning we had to share 4 times.) But we are glad we shared, and I really think that it's the only way to be a good pastor to our flock.

In May, 1991 I shook as I stood before our small congregation and told them about mine and Tom's struggle with infertility. We'd been seeing a specialist for three years--every month for three years. I'd had surgery, we'd undergone some interesting tests and I struggled silently away from my church family. Prior to sharing that Sunday morning in May I thought I was doing them (and me) a favor by not letting them know what we were really going through. I thought I was a better and braver minister for being willing to suffer alone.

But God told me that He wanted me to share. He wanted me to let them in to my personal pain and walk with me toward the future He had for me. He was teaching me so many things, and I had this burning desire to share them with our church. So, I stood in front of over 100 people and told them about our struggle, our heartache and our desire.

Ever since that day we've lived our life honestly and openly in front of our people. I know that many pastors and especially their wives might think we are crazy for doing that...but we have to lead the way God's told us to lead, and this seems to be the way He wants us to do it.

I'm grateful for the genuine love that grows out of honesty. I'm even more grateful for the multiplicity of prayers. I hope that our willingness to share will spur others toward doing the same--maybe not in front of 2000 people--but at least with a trusted few. God created us to be interdependent on one another. If we're going to be the hands and heart of Christ we have to be vulnerable with one another.

Life in the glorious fish bowl...it's not a life for everyone; but it's the only one for me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

PR Plan

One of the unique elements of living in the fish bowl is the PR plan that has to accompany all that happens in our private lives. The day we discovered I had cancer Tom graciously didn't tell a soul for 24 hours. But then...we had to discuss the PR plan.

I didn't like that--having to deal with such upheavel on a deeply personal level (my colon for heaven's sake) and then to have to do it in front of 2000+ people, but it's just the nature of our lives. Tom held me when I cried a bit about it and said, "Leighann, this goes with what God has given us to do..."

And to tell you the truth it wasn't all that hard really. We were overwhelmed at the outpouring of love. I saved all the cards and took pictures of all the flowers that were sent. I still have people come up to me and ask me how I'm doing, and it makes me smile.

So, in a week or so we're going to open up and let the world in on our current situation. I can't imagine how I'll manage it but "this goes with what God has given us to do..."

We're not the first ones to walk this path, and unfortunately won't be the last. And just like the cancer, I want to do this right. A very wise pastor told us yesterday that when you are a pastor you aren't expected to manage your life in such a way that you don't encounter trouble, but instead, you are supposed to manage your trouble well.

We are going to try our best to manage our trouble well, to love God and to love people and to "Walk in the Light and Do Right." (something else our friend encouraged us to do)

Friday, June 25, 2010

When TJ was first getting into gaming systems he had a game on his computer where he could build a theme park. He created roller coasters, decided where to place them, designed the landscaping...you know, all the things that go into great theme parks. Then, when his theme park was finally ready he would open the gates and let the people in.

He'd watch to see how they were liking the park (he could scroll over their heads and see what they were thinking). If anyone was having a negative thought, and if they were headed out of the park, TJ would intercept them and put them in the back of the park to make sure they would never get out. Sometimes he even tried to drown them in the duck ponds.
We chuckled at his strategy. The way he figured it, if they were having a bad time and they left the park they would tell others and his numbers would go down and if his numbers went down he wouldn't make millions of dollars.

Smart kid!

Only, I'm not having too much fun in this park, and it feels like God's picking me up and putting me in the very back. And that wouldn't be so bad if He were letting me float the days away on the little boat ride, but NO! I'm on the whirly thingy that makes you throw up when you finally get off. Maybe if I PROMISE not to tell everyone how awful this part of His park is He'll let me out!!


You know I'm kidding. The reality is that we live on a battlefield, not in a theme park. And sometimes we find ourselves in the "thick of it." We have a formidable foe (after all He had the audacity to take on the heavenly host and God Himself)---and even though he's out for blood (and nicks me at times) He will never win. I'll die on this field if I have to--singing "Victory in Jesus" while I go down.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Scream machines, Mind Benders and ...

So, life is full of ups and downs. But they all stay within certain limits. It's like the "scream machine" at Six Flags over Georgia. When I was a teenager we went there and stood in line for HOURS just to experience the thrill. I knew the roller coaster was going to take me up and down ridiculous hills, and around sharp curves I could see it all from the 2 hour line I was waiting in. I knew that even though it was going to take me high, shove me down and jerk me about--in about a minute and a half I'd get off and go recover on the antique merry go round.

When Dr. Caudill sat on the gurney beside me, wrapped his arm around me and said, "You've got cancer" I wept. Now, if you've walked that journey with me--you know that. I wept for several reasons--the first being because of the "C" word...but the grief that I felt had more to do with the end of my fairy tale life than it had to do with cancer. I sensed that the life I knew had just ended. And for that I grieved. Of course my grief soon turned to great faith, deep peace and almost laughter in the "pure joy" of the cancer journey. And when it was over I was just beginning to get my old life back. The "scream machine" one--with it's break-neck speed, highs and lows, sharp curves and abrupt stops.

God has been good to me! I've enjoyed my life...very much--even if it has made me a bit woozy at times. :) But, with this new twist I'm forced to realize that the grieving I felt that day was there because of what was coming next. God knew--and His Spirit that lives in me knew. Thankfully I was on a "need to know" basis and He didn't think I needed to know more then.

Just suffice it to say I was right to grieve. My fairy tale life is definitely over. And now, I'm fastened tightly in a metal box with a padded shoulder bar hooked over me and secured at my waist. But, unlike the "scream machine" I've got no idea where this ride's taking me. The hills keep getting higher, the speed faster and the curves sharper. It's more like the "mind bender" (another ride at Six Flags that includes loopty loops and was added a fews years later). Only there's no way to see where I'm headed or how long it will last. Not even a little bit (like space mountain at Disney world where eventually your eyes adjust to the dark and make out the shapes in the twinkly lights).

It's certainly NOT the "coaster" I know. Nor the one I stood in line for hours to enjoy. And I don't necessarily "feel Him" with me but I KNOW that God is still the Master of the Ride.

"For You are great and do marvelous deeds You alone are God." Psalm 86:10

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To my blogging friends

When I created this blog I wanted it to be place where I could be utterly honest, and let the rest of the world (or at least the 2 or 3 who might pop in every once in a while) capture an inside glimpse of what life is like in my seat.

When my children were learning to drive--I wrote about it here. When they had their first wreck--I wrote about it here...boyfriends, proms, cancer...I wrote about it here.

But now something has happened that is more painful than cancer and more serious than car wrecks. And I'm not going to write about it here.

So--what do I write about?

How I cry myself to sleep at night? Or wake up at 4:30 in the morning to talk to God about it? I don't really know how to do vague and discreet. But for now it has to be. So...I'll blog a bit--maybe figure a way to share without sharing and invite you into this journey with me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Excerpt from New Book

Meet Me at the Manger and I'll Lead You to the Cross

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

We stood in a semi-circle when we arrived at the opening. Under our feet was a cold dirt floor and we were surrounded by stone walls. The air was cool and damp. The tour guide explained that stables in Jesus’ day were not made out of wood (as they are portrayed in most of our nativity scenes), but that they were carved out of stone. I envisioned this “stable” filled with dirty animals and weary travelers. He then pointed to a gold plate on the floor that marked the (exact) spot where Jesus was born. My imagination carried me back to that first Christmas Eve. I could almost hear the hustle and bustle of people as they crowded into the City of David to be counted in the census. I could imagine the inn keeper looking at Joseph’s desperate face and Mary’s obvious pain. I could almost see Mary double over with the next of a wave of contractions as Joseph rushed to spread blankets on the hard floor.

And then, I stared at that gold plate. And I wondered at the majesty and love of God that would allow His Son to be born into this world. I wondered at the glory of God that would allow His Son to come to us since we were unable to go to Him. I worshipped God in that cave because I knew that had the Word not become flesh and dwelt among us, we could never have the opportunity to even begin to experience His glory. I thanked God for being full of grace and truth.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cancer is over and Life returns

So, this is the first week I've been responsible for family meals again. I thank God for Chick Fil A!! I'm wondering if our family could just sign up for home cooked meals every spring. They could start coming when softball begins and end when the last tennis match is over. :) (Of course next year there will be NO MORE SOFTBALL!!...Don't EVEN get me started!)

I thought that my journey through cancer would drastically change me. But I'm slipping back into my pre-cancer mode all too quickly. I still want to eat sweets at night. I have been satisfying that sweet tooth with Lucky Charms lately. Maybe the almond milk is better than skim and the "lucky" will counter-balance the cancer loving SUGAR!!

I told Tom that I was going to adopt a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for stress. But two days back in the office at TSC and Good Grief!! What was I THINKING?!!

And, when I was pondering the possible spread of cancer in my body I came in to my home office and CLEANED HOUSE! I mean I tossed away entire stacks of "I've got to get on that" projects! It felt good. For the first time EVER I saw clearly what God meant for me to do. I was convinced that I would never again take on more than what was supposed to be mine--I would "stay in my lane" to quote a dear friend who endured the autobahn with me last fall.

It was a good idea...

God is still good. I'm still smiling at how He rocked me close last month at this time, but it's kind of like He's set me down now on my own two feet, patted me on the behind and said, "get back out there and do your thing."

I just want "my thing" to be His thing too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This is My Story...This is My Song...

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, save me!"

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to me."

Psalm 116:1-7 NIV

I read these words in a card that Mel Fell gave me just before I went in for surgery and knew they expressed exactly the way I feel. I've struggled with "why me?" Why should God be so good to me? And when I read these words my heart came to rest. Immediately I sang,

"This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long!"

And I realized, that "this is MY STORY..." He gave me a SONG! So just as the psalmist sang many years ago, so I'll join my voice with his...

"I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord--in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord."

Psalm 116:17-19 NIV

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Still pondering these things...

It's the Saturday before Easter; 70 degrees and gorgeous outside today on my back porch. The trees seem to be celebrating the Resurrection with everything God put in them!! And me? I'm shaking my head at His goodness.

To tell you the truth, I've experienced miraculous recovery from surgery. It's been 11 days since I had major surgery at Vanderbilt Hospital, and today I walked 3.8 miles!! (It's a big loop that I used to enjoy jogging.) Don't tell any of my healthcare providers, and for sure don't let my mother know I did that!! But...I feel great.

In fact, as my body has made this miraculous recovery, my heart and mind are trying to play "catch-up." One of the first things I confessed a day after I was told I had cancer was how angry and disappointed I was with my body. I felt a bit betrayed. For I have been one to try to eat right and exercise all my adult life. When my children learned I had cancer they immediately blamed it on "all the healthy food you feed us!" I told Tom I didn't think I'd ever trust my body again. To think it was sick for years and I didn't even know it!

But now that this same body has kicked into warp speed on the road to recovery, I'm beginning to smile--and make peace with the "old girl." She's doing what I expect and treating me well.

Of course this has been much more than a physical journey for me. It's been quite the spiritual journey as well. And the spiritual part is the one that makes me say, "hmmm..."

I wanted the miracle of no chemotherapy, I really did and even prayed for it. But for God to grant it so graciously...who am I? Who am I that He should be so sweet to me???

Before March 1, it's all I knew. All I knew was the goodness and sweetness of God. I walked with others in unimaginable places, but as for my own personal experience with Him, GOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN SO GRACIOUS AND KIND! It's really all I have ever known. And even in this month-long journey through cancer---He's been more gentle, more REAL, more present than ever! And with Him granting me complete healing with surgery, it's all I still know. God is good--and why? Why does He do this for me?

If He hadn't been "good" would He still be God?

That question I now have an answer for...YES! Even if He had seen fit for this cancer to be in my liver and lungs He would have been just as good and just as God as He is in my health. I told my prayer partners on Wednesday, March 3 that if I died of colon cancer, I wanted them to be sure to testify to God's goodness to me. For I refused to let death rob God's glory.

For whatever reason He has chosen to hear our prayers and extend my time on earth. I am more grateful than what may be spiritual to admit; but I know that this healing is His "GREATER GOOD." So, it's with fear and trembling that I'm going to keep "working this out" in my heart and mind--and with faith I'm going to keep walking it out each precious day.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a spring so beautiful in all my life!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good News!!!

I'm still a bit "under the influence" but just want you to know that we received a call from Dr. Herline this afternoon to tell us there was no cancer in any of my lymph nodes. My cancer is stage 2 which means NO CHEMO!!!

God is good!! Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers!!

Supernatural answers:
Two church members were nurses one in pre-op and one in recovery
Had no nausea at all (while at the hospital)
Left way sooner than anticipated
The man who wheeled me out seranaded Mikel, me and my mother with old hymns all the way from my room to the curb where Tom waited, the ones I remember singing with him were "The B I B L E" "At the Cross" "Trust and Obey" and I know a few others...only God would give me a hymn sing on the way to the car.

You and your prayers have meant more to me than I will most likely ever be able to communicate in words. (and that's a lot since I enjoy communicating with words)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Living for the Greater Good

I don't like cancer. My colon is sick, and you don't even want to know what that is like. I don't like surgery--it's scary. Being put to sleep does not appeal to me. What will they do to me while I'm sleeping? Will they talk about those stretch marks that my 9 pound 12 ounce baby tattoed on me some 16 years ago? What if I wake up too soon and they don't know it? Or, what if I don't wake up at all?

Cancer stinks.

But when Dr. Caudill told me I had it I had a choice to make. I could choose to make God small and decide that cancer was bad for me or I could choose to watch to see how God will take cancer and transform it into my GREATER GOOD.

I choose to wait and watch for God's GREATER GOOD.

Too often we cling so tenaciously to our limited understanding of what is "good" that we demand God to give us what we think is good and in so doing we forfeit what He knows is best.

Cancer stinks but thus far God's used it for some really great things.

I'm the prayer minister at TSC. And for years I've dreamt of our congregation experiencing corporate prayer together. I know that where 2 or more are gathered God is in our midst, but when 1000 are gathered 998 others get in on the experience!

My cancer brought 1000 people to TSC on Sunday night March 7 for the most powerful corporate worship and prayer service we've ever experienced. The March 7 service was originally scheduled for January 31, but we had to postpone it due to snow. I was aggravated at God for doing this and wondering why on earth He wouldn't let us have our gathering on the date we'd scheduled (and marketed for). Little did I know that He was rescheduling for my good and His glory.

1000 people experiencing God in prayer (while the rest of the world sits at home watching the Oscars) is certainly the GREATER GOOD.

When the Christ followers in the Vanderbilt Endoscopic Clinic chose to be bold with their faith and pray with Tom and me before my procedure--God brought to us His GREATER GOOD. There are simply some things about God you will not know unless you meet him in the prep area of the Vandy endoscopic clinic.

Our family has not cooked a meal since March 1 but we've eaten better than we have in years. My son TJ assures me that these meals are the GREATER GOOD!

Many people have promised me they are praying. I have people praying for me from Africa to Mexico, from Las Vegas to Florida, and just about everywhere in between. Some of them have chosen to fast when they pray (for the very first time), and all for me. Anything that draws people to the Throne of Grace and stretches them to exercise spiritual discipline is the GREATER GOOD!

It's a no-brainer for me. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
And if Jesus allows cancer in me then I am confident He will use it for my GREATER GOOD and His GREATER GLORY.

You want to know Dr. Caudill's dangerous prayer he shared with me?

"Lord, teach me what I need to be taught; take me where I need to be taken; and use me in the way I need to be used."

It's a prayer for the GREATER GOOD.

P.S. This will be my last pre-operative post. Tuesday, March 23 Dr. Alan Herline will be taking the cancer out of my colon. I cherish your prayers for him, for Tom, for my children and for me. We will post my status on our church's website (Tom doesn't know how to blog). The address is www.thompsonstationchurch.org

Monday, March 15, 2010

God is moving mountains

One tendency I have on here is to be a bit too open with what really goes on in the lives of my children. Somehow they ALWAYS hear about what I say and I have to "cover" by assuring them that "no, I did not talk too personally about you." So, let me see if I can share with you how God is moving mountains without sharing too personally for the sake of my children.

If you are a mother you know what it is like to be "consummed" with prayers for your children. You know what it is like to hurt deeply when they hurt, to feel their dreams as if they were your own, and to wish to goodness that you knew then what you know now--also wishing that they would realize how much they need YOU to tell them what you know now!!

Well, I've had two specific mountain size prayers for two of my children. One has been prayed fervently for almost a year and the other has been prayed fervently for 4 years. Both these prayers depended on major break-throughs by God. I had done what I could do, and only God could impact the answers to my prayers. I have to confess that at times I was more disciplined in my fervency even adding fasting to some of my prayers. But right now I have not even had the energy to keep up with them. In fact, the moment I heard "you have cancer" God told me to let go of one of my children. He clearly said that He would take care of her/him and that I didn't have to. I was incredibly impressed with how much faith each of them has demonstrated in the past two weeks since we got our news.

And since March 1 when I was diagnosed with cancer both my fervent, mountain size prayers have been answered! I mean mountain-moving answers!! I so wish I could give you the exact details...but, I can't. Just suffice it to say that when I say God is moving mountains...they are Colorado kind of mountains, not the middle TN foothills.

I had a PET Scan today in an old building off Murphy Avenue. It was a sentimental journey. For 20 years ago I went to Murphy Ave each month for infertility treatment. As I sat still waiting on the radioactive glucose to make its way through my body I was reminded of the day I also sat still after artificial insemination. I thought about how different this journey is from that one. Instead of asking for new life to come into my body, I am hoping to protect and preserve the only life I have.

And I couldn't help but reflect on how faithful God has been to me through the years. He let my body conceive and birth life not once but 3 times and even now He's still watching over and intersecting those lives in ways that I can't. Surely the God who holds the world together can take care of cancer in me--and move mountains for my children.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And lo, I am with you always

God found me today at Vanderbilt. Had I not arrived an hour early He might have lost me in the crowd! But nevertheless, He let me know again today that He is waiting for me in the "belly" of this thing.

You've just got to hear how He's been waiting for me every step of the way. Two weeks ago I finally got up the nerve to call Dr. Caudill's office. You see I knew I was having a problem, but I thought I could fix it with yogurt--you know the activia with "bifidus regularis"--sounded medicinal to me! But Tom kept encouraging me to call his friend Max. (Max Caudill, now one of my favorite doctors in all the world.) Tom and Max grew up together, been knowing each other since the 5th grade.

Now isn't that nice? Tell me, all you women out there reading my blog, is that the doctor you would want to call for a problem like the one I was having?! NOT!!!! So I looked in the directory of Williamson County medical professionals and decided Max was the kindest looking (that is a subjective opinion, I'm sure the others are great), took a deep breath and called Tom's friends' office. This is how it went...

"Good morning, Dr. Caudill's office, this is Ruby." (I can't write it southern saturated with sweet tea...but just imagine because that's how she did it.)
"Hello, Ruby, this is Leighann McCoy."
"Well, hello, Leighann, how are you today?" (still sweet tea, deep south overtop friendly).
Before I answered I smiled and thought, "they sure are friendly at Max's office." When it dawned on me that I might know Ruby!
"Is this Ruby Barnhill?"
"Yes, it is!"
"Oh, my goodness, Ruby. I'm SO glad it's you..." After which I told her more than she probably wanted to know about the reason I was calling.

When Tom and I came to Thompson Station we went door knocking on the first Saturday we were in town. At the first house we met a mean woman who told us she knew where to find us if she ever wanted a church (which she apparently did not!). At the very next house we met Sweet Tea Ruby Barnhill and her wonderful husband and son. Not long after that her husband was the first person to pray to receive Christ in our ministry at TSC. This was 21 years ago.

What are the odds of me needing this exact kind of doctor, of him being Tom's childhood friend and of RUBY being his receptionist???? I would venture to say they are greater than .2% of the population!

But that was just the stepping on place. Since my cancer has been diagnosed, Dr. Caudill gave me a "dangerous prayer" on his prescription pad (I'll blog about that sometime later); he prayed with us, my surgeon is a believer, and even in the "cancer mill" at Vanderbilt hospital, today

Rosemary (member of our church) met me in my little cubicle thrilled that we ended up in her world, Melanie asked if she could pray with me (both she and Rosie prayed with us), Dr. Sumner whom I'd never laid eyes on before today (the one performing the ultrasound) shared with us that he too was a believer and praying for me (then he held mine and Tom's hand while Tom prayed for us both), AND Dr. Herline (my surgeon) all ministered to Tom and me as if we were mere patients and they were our pastors!!

Now, how can I be bummed about cancer when God is showing off so beautifully!!! I'm in for the show, I don't want to miss one minute of this. What a tremendous privilege to be loved so sweetly by the CREATOR of the Universe. To think of all the other things going on in the world, and He found me in suite 1649 at Vanderbilt Hospital today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Different Journey

I thought I was going to Africa. The last week of January Tom and I fasted Sunday through Sunday asking God to prepare our hearts and minds for all that He had for us in 2010. We were thinking mostly about our church, our children and our "chores." On the 2nd day of that fast I sensed God call me to go with Sumer to Ethiopia. I laughed about it every time I mentioned it! God confirmed that call when I heard Sumer's story and saw the pictures of the "children in the dump."

I've been reading Hudson Taylor's biography this year (it's long) and two weeks ago knelt by our bed and said to Tom, "I don't think we really 'get it.'" I was referring to the TOTAL SURRENDER to God's heart for His world that I saw in the missionaries who served China in the mid 1800's. They challenged me! God was speaking strongly to me about complete surrender. He knew something I didn't know, and was graciously preparing me for the news.

Monday, March 1 I discoverd that God was taking me on a different journey. Instead of going to Ethiopia on March 24, I'm going to Vanderbilt Hospital on March 23 to have colon cancer removed from my body. I never, in my wildest imagination dreamt I would experience cancer. When other people "got it" I assumed they had poor genes, or that they ate too many twinkies. My children are fussing at me. They are convinced that eating healthy has caused this cancer. I saw a poster that told me I'm in .2% of the population who "gets" colon cancer before the age of 50. (Lucky me.)

This is not the trip I signed up for. I told someone yesterday that I felt like I was being inducted into a sorority I never wanted to join. It's like all the other "cancer people" have adjusted to their situation and are eating and drinking and even laughing at times with one another and I'm frantically looking for an open window I can crawl through to escape. It's not fun.

But already God has been so incredibly REAL to me. I'm not even going to try to explain or describe it to you. You'll see when you get your turn to "dance with disaster." (Tom preached on that just a few Sundays ago!) Those of you who have already "danced" know exactly what I'm talking about.

Many people have marveled at my faith and some have encouraged me that I don't have to be strong all the time. (Believe me, I'm not.) But when Dr. Caudill put his arm around me and said, "you've got cancer" my mortality forced me to take notice. I cried, I looked at Tom's face and pleaded for it to not be so, but when we got in the car I took a deep breath and realized death isn't the enemy I thought it was. From deep within me I knew (in my KNOWER) that Jesus took care of death for me a long time ago on a cruel Roman cross.

Guess what the name of the Hudson Taylor biography is, "It's not Death to Die."

And it's not. Since Monday, March 1 we've discovered I'm not dying afterall, at least not now. Seems I just might live another 40 or 50 years. I do have quite the ordeal to endure. But I'm going to look at it this way; God has invited me on a journey. A sweet and precious invitation to put everything I've ever taught to the test. It's like lab work in my college biology class. Either what I've been teaching is true or it's not.

I've trusted God since I was 11 years old. He's never let me down--not ever. Now is certainly NOT the time to stop doing what's been working for me. I asked Him what He wanted of me when we were talking on Tuesday morning. Very clearly He said, "Leighann, I want you to trust Me. I want you to depend on Me. And, I want you to be obedient." It was a great relief to hear this command. I responded, "Lord, I can do that! I know how to do that." You see, I've been doing that for years--He's not asking anything more of me now than He ever has before.

Thank you for being interested enough to keep up with my journey. I'm not going to bog this site down with medical details. To tell you the truth I don't really want you to know the specifics of what I'm having to go through with my "innards!" But if you want to come visit here and see what God is teaching me I'm going to try to keep that flowing.

Thank you so much for your prayers and your expressions of love. I am humbled that God has so richly blessed Tom and me with incredible ministries filled with friends across the globe. We love you dearly and are sustained by your love in return.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just Look (Poverty and the Gospel I)

I'm on a journey--it's taking me to Africa March 24 where I'm going to meet some very poor people in Korah (a part of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia). There are children, I'm told, who live in a city dump. Imagine that--to live in the dump!

I have an imagination and immediately my mind goes toward children living in the landfill off County Road in west Marietta, Georgia. The county jail is right next to the landfill, and the car tag office next to that. When we took our driving test we hoped for a day when the wind was blowing "the other way." You could smell the dump before you actually saw it. No one wants to be anywhere near a dump--much less IN one!

But I cannot even imagine what life is like in a city dump that serves the capital city of Ethiopia! I've heard that the children first went there to forage for food. Imagine that. Yesterday I tossed a coffee grinder into the trash, this afternoon I added some week old vegetable soup, month old cheese dip and bones from last night's grilled steak. Let's say these things end up in the "dump" next week. I would imagine resourceful kids might actually make a less than decent meal off of them--and might even find a way to either fix--or use the old coffee bean grinder.

But I live in Williamson County, TN--one of the wealthiest counties in the nation! These children are poking about in what Ethiopians call "garbage." Isn't Ethiopia where I've seen pictures of starving children? What do Ethiopians collect in their dumps?!?

God has invited me on a journey. First He invited me to a fast--a week long fast. I'd never not eaten for an entire week! Not even when I've suffered stomach disorders...I've never been that disordered! But the last week of January He invited me and Tom to do what we'd never done before and one day I'll blog about that experience. But it was on the 3rd day of my fast that I heard God clearly invite me to Korah. Sumer's going back and I'm going with her (and 6 other people God invited on this trip).

She asked us to read "Fields of the Fatherless" by Tom Davis (www.hopechest.org). But before I read that I read "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I know, the whole world's already read this book and I'm way behind. Francis Chan took a similar trip with God--and when he took a field trip to poverty, he came back changed. Sumer reminded us last Wednesday at our team meeting that we will be changed too. I'm also reading a biography of Hudson Taylor (missionary to China in the mid 1800's). Before he ever left England to live in China, Hudson Taylor took a vow of poverty. He wanted to "train" himself to be ready for his mission field. As I read the various hardships that Hudson Taylor and the other missionaries experienced I am humbled. All of this reading is part of my journey. God is preparing me for a new place in my life.

I've known--for a very long time that people die of starvation. I've known for a very long time that people have no way of hearing the name of Jesus--or knowing how much He loves them. And I've gone to where they are occasionally; Nicaragua, India, Japan, China, Mexico, New Orleans, Houston, Techwood in Atlanta, GA, and now I'm going to Ethiopia. This time is different. This time God has not invited me to take a peek into darkness. This time He's invited me to take a long hard look.

I want to look away. I want to close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and hum "kum ba ya." But He's holding my head in the palm of His hands and whispering in my ear--"Look. These are MY CHILDREN! I love them like you love Mikel, Kaleigh and TJ. Just look."

I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mazatlan, Mexico

When we scheduled this trip to Mazatlan, it was all about Kaleigh. Being the child whom I sensed God call to missions when she was 6 months old (I'll tell that story here someday); and having sent her to the Vietnam/China border and into Nicaragua more than once, it was the least Tom and I could do to take her to Mazatlan for a scouting trip for the student mission trip she is helping to lead this summer.

And I am here to say that spending the weekend with Kaleigh was pure joy. We feel that way about all of our children all of the time (Don't you?!)!

But meeting Lilia and Jose Ramon (JR) was definitely the highlight of our trip. One: They live in exactly what I would picture a Mexican "casa" to look like--tile floors, bright colors, windows with planted pots, ceiling fans, a courtyard in front and behind--a beautiful home! And, she fed us Mexican breakfasts and lunches complete with tortilla's, avocado, purple onions sliced thin and tomatoes. I would have felt like I was eating healthy if it hadn't been for the tremendous dinners we shared at area restaurants after 9PM!

Seeing the ministries of Spirit and Truth church (that currently meets in the unfinished parking garage of a downtown office structure) and spending time with Pastors Joe and Laurie Pacheco was humbling. I was impressed most with the willingness of so many of their church members to be the "hands and feet of Jesus" And they didn't even read Crazy Love to be that way! It's just what they do! A group of women feed children of prostitutes every Saturday morning. I asked, "where does the money come from to feed these 80 kids?" Answer: from the women who come and serve it! Some of those women give sacrificially to reach out to children who have even less than they.

Then there was Marlin (not sure I'm spelling her name right) who put her nursing career on hold so that she could go take care of her grandmother in the village of Elota. Since she is there, she's opened her home for a church to meet. And two couples from the Spirit and Truth Church take turns traveling to and from Elota to host worship services and teach the children there. I am wondering why this is the norm in Mazatlan--and not in Thompson Station.

I could go on and on--but I won't. Just suffice it to say that Mazatlan was beautiful at this time of the year (they assured us that it would be much warmer in June when Kaleigh goes back with our students), and the work that God is doing through His Church there challenges me to get the women at TSC up and at 'em!! We have so much to give, and there are so many places to give it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Air travel out of Nashville

I was reminded this weekend of the price I pay to live in a "small big city" rather than a "big big city." I love Nashville. I love how I can bump into people I know at that mall, in restaurants, and even downtown! I love how I can bump into famous people that I don't know (and I have to confess that even though I'm bound to have bumped into some of them in the past 21 years--I haven't known it. There was this one time at my labor and delivery classes that I introduced myself to Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife and asked, "did you go to Samford University? Your name sounds real familiar to me." He graciously told me he didn't go to Samford, and couldn't imagine where we might know one another. It wasn't until later than my brain came alive and I said, "Stephen Curtis Chapman!! Duh!")

Anyway...I love my Nashville airport and how late Saturday nights I'm sometimes the last one there. I love the feeling that this little voice is gently saying, "just turn off the lights and lock the door when you leave, Leighann."

But there is one thing I don't love. And that is the places I have to go before I go where I want to go when I leave from BNA (the code letters for my beloved Nashville International Airport). For instance, this weekend I went to Alexandria, Louisiana. But first I had to go to Atlanta, Georgia where I sat for 6 hours waiting on my delayed flight to Louisiana. And then on Saturday night I had to go to Houston and walk 6 miles and ride a shuttle bus to get on the plane that was to bring me home to Nashville.

While I was in Atlanta I was trying to book flights for next month. I need to go to West Palm Beach, Florida. And as I was searching for flights it became apparent to me that I could choose to either fly through Detroit, Chicago or Atlanta (again) to go to Florida. Why is that cheaper than simply flying from here to there?

And then there are the little bitty planes that I fly in!! What happened to all the big planes? You know, the ones with two seats on both sides of the aisles!! And those with space to actually fit a purse at your feet?!

And what happened to "carry-on luggage" compartments!! They ought to call it "carry to" luggage, since we now carry our own luggage TO the plane where they still load and unload it while we wait in the COLD to get it.

Because there are no more of those nicely air-conditioned tunnels!! We now have to haul our selves down the stairs and out into the cold like I used to see people do in the 60's!! And those itty bitty steps we have to balance on getting in and out of those planes...

Whew, I love living in Nashville. It's just the flying about that tends to be a bit taxing. But I wouldn't trade it for the world!! Thank God we can actually get there from here.

Thursday I'm leaving in the morning for Mazatlan, Mexico with my husband and daughter Kaleigh (so she can lay the ground work for a youth trip this summer), and in a few weeks I'm headed to Las Vegas (WHERE I WAS ABLE TO BOOK A DIRECT FLIGHT!!) and then--to West Palm Beach, Florida. So right now I need to stop blogging and decide whether I want to go through Detroit, Chicago or...Atlanta to get there.

Oh the places you will go!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Ok, so I dropped the blogging ball, and one person caught me. So, for Beth's sake, here I am! Inspired by my dear sister-preschool pastor friend, Big Nanny (you gotta see her blog entries on her recent trip to Africa. I would link you but am not sure how to make that work.), here I go.
Don't you love new years? I do! Out with the old and in with the new. Something about moving on that makes me happy! I make resolutions. I'm a believer in them--even if I don't keep them I enjoy making them. Gives me a sense of direction; some goals and ways to measure my minutes.
This year I have only a very few:
1. Don't cry every day over Mikel graduating on MAY 15! (And leaving for Union University in August).
2. Don't cry every other day over Kaleigh taking me on college visits this spring and summer (and she's not even looking 2 1/2 hours from home!).
3. Stay in the country. (I've broken that one already, as I'm going to Mazatlan in February with Tom and Kaleigh to check it out for her upcoming mission trip with students this summer AND I might be headed to Africa in March!! How CRAZY is that?!)
4. And all those other things like dieting, exercise, keeping up with dental appts, etc.

It's good--love the way we make plans and God supercedes them. Happy 2010, I'll resolute now to blog a bit more.