Feb 14, 2012

SHINE girl spotlight....

Today's Reading: Romans 1

Good morning, rise and SHINE girls! It's SHINE spotlight day! Yay!

(before I forget.....make sure and go to the weekday give away post and comment! drawing will be this afternoon. I will post the winner tonight or tomorrow morning. good luck, girls!!)

Our SHINE spotlight from last week was Beth Adams. Beth got to choose this week's SHINE spotlight, and she has asked me to introduce this week's SHINE spotlight girl.

I am thrilled to introduce.....Leslie Jones. Leslie and I met through a mutual friend a few years ago. Since meeting her, I have run into her a few times in town and that's about it.

As God would have it, He brought her back into my life in a big way! Leslie joined the SHINE girls a few weeks ago after being referred  by a friend of hers....Freda. (our SHINE spotlight 2 weeks ago)

I had no clue that Leslie was following the SHINE blog until she sent me an email last week.

She wanted to meet for lunch and get to know each other better. I was so thrilled!

I went to her house and we had the BEST talk. We could have kept talking for hours on end, but I had to pick up my kids from school.

As I was leaving, I noticed that Leslie had put a bottled water next to my purse. She thought I may be thirsty as I sat in carpool.

Really??? Who does this???

SHE does! I quickly summed up that Leslie has the spiritual gift of hospitality in a HUGE way. I mean HUGE.

The following Sunday Leslie made me the most delicious homemade chicken noodle soup after she heard that I was sick with a cold.

Can I just say for the record....it was the MOST delicious soup that I have EVER tasted. Ever. She had told me that people said that her soup had "healing powers". Umm, they were right.

Seriously, the girl rocks.

Here's her awesome story...be blessed and inspired SHINE girls!

Leslie's Story:

This is only my fourth week following Shine Girls Shine. I have been absolutely blown away by the stories I read from Courtney, Freda and Beth. Their stories reminded me of the book by Harold S. Kushner, "When Bad things Happen To Good People", whereas my story is much more like Beth Moore's book, "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things". In fact, as I attempt to write this I am fighting the feeling of unworthiness. I have felt so unworthy to follow them...but I'm putting my worth in Him today and trusting He has something so incredibly special for you to hear. 

Here's a little bit about me; I'm a rule follower. Everything is black or white to me, no gray. I'm either hot or cold. Love ya or...well, love ya with the love of the Lord! I'm married to my best friend, Hal. I have two step-daughters, Mandee and Jamee. Mandee got engaged in August so we're busy planning her dream wedding! Jamee blessed us in August with the most precious grand-daughter ever, Dakota James. Before you scroll down, see the pictures and get very confused, let me explain. Hal is 13 years older than me, his children are 26 and 21. So...at 35 I became a grandmother! Whenever we're out together it's so obvious that people are trying to figure out "whose who in the zoo"! Nothing in my life appears "normal" but everything about it feels awesome! I love the Lord with all my heart and have no idea how I ever lived without Him! He's my everything! 

The truth is that I did live without Him. More specifically I lived a life that didn't honor Him. I wrestled with how much to tell about myself mostly because of times sake. But in the end, I feel I am to share a few specific things. I married my high-school sweet heart right out of college. I quickly discovered I had made a mistake and didn't handle my revelation correctly at all. He was, and I'm sure still is, a great person in every way. He just wasn't great for me. That was, by no means, an excuse to do what I did. Please hear that. In my unhappiness, I allowed another man to entice me. I allowed another man to touch me. I had an affair. Have you ever seen "The Bridges of Madison County" or any other movie that makes an affair look glamorous? Well, take it from me, there is nothing glamorous about an affair! I became so overwhelmed with my unhappy marriage, my unhealthy relationship with another man, and all the confusion it brought that my health started to decline. I had always been thin and struggled with allergies but everything intensified. I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep and what once was seasonal allergies turned into full blown asthma. I was sick, in more ways than one, and my weight dropped severely. I can't share all the details, the bottom line is my marriage ended in a divorce that hurt a good man and his family. I was at a cross roads and the way that led to death seemed a lot more appealing than facing the consequences of my sin. I was left with nothing but a lot of guilt and anger at myself...and a family and group of friends who understood God's grace and led me to Him! Praise the Lord! 

Because the love of the Lord literally saved my life I have a passion for Him I can't explain! It's my prayer that you'll be able to look past my sin and see the beauty He's making in my life.

Having experienced God's forgiveness, grace and mercy I long for a deeper relationship with Him.  One of God's gifts to us is the ability to share a real relationship with Him. By a real relationship I mean spending time with Him, talking to Him, and listening to Him talk to us. I treasure hearing from God. So many times I hear such specific things that almost seem...silly. I've learned over time to trust Him and follow what He's telling me. Matthew 6:6 says, "But when you pray, find a quiet secluded place; close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace." As I said, I hear specific things. For instance, I was planning to speak before a precious group of women. I was begging God to tell me what these ladies needed to hear. I kept hearing Him tell me to wear my black and white cowboy boots to speak. Really? Now I'm all about what I'm wearing but I have to admit that was down the list of things I was thinking about. It seemed a lot more important to actually have something to say when I got there! I kept dismissing the boot thought and kept begging for Him to please talk to me! Hours later, I got it. He was talking to me! He was telling me to wear my black and white cowboy boots! Ok, got it. Now what? So very clearly He said, "your cowboy boots are you. not high heals. boots. wear the boots and be yourself. they need to see the real you." From there the words came so fast I could hardly make notes fast enough. I shared how I have fought this image in my head of who I was suppose to be my entire life and missed who God had created me to really be. I shared how I'd found freedom in that and used some of the words from Francesca Battistelli's  song, "Free To Be Me". Part of the chorus says, "perfection is my enemy...I'm free to be me!". Of all the enemies in our lives would you have ever named one of them "perfection"? Wow, it sure has been mine! Well, I found out while sharing with these precious women that it had been their enemy too! So many found freedom in Him that night! Praise His name! 

Since giving God my whole heart and life I have experienced so many miracles! Miracles of healing of the physical body and healing of the heart. I have learned to trust in Jesus with everything. I've seen Him dissolve cancerous tumors, break the grip of sin in ones life, and I even watched him raise the dead! I'd like to build your faith in Him by sharing a few of these stories. While spending Thanksgiving with family in Florida I met some of their close friends. They shared that they would be going with their adult daughter the next morning to get more specifics from her doctor about the tumor that had been found near her right ear drum. I became overwhelmed with the feeling that I needed to pray with them for their daughter. We stopped and I prayed, claiming God's Word over her life. When I finished I asked them to call the next morning when they received the good news that they actually couldn't even find the tumor. I saw doubt all over them so I shared God's Word with them further and then prayed again. When they left they assumed they would call the next morning, which they did-no tumor! Complete healing and restoration of lost hearing! Praise His name! A lady I barely knew, and who didn't know my past, shared with me that she was having a relationship with another man and that she was going to leave her husband. I shared my story with her, along with God's Word and encouraged her to end the relationship immediately. She and her husband began seeking Godly counseling and 3 years later are ministering to hurting couples themselves! God is good! One afternoon we received a call from a man working at our house that we needed to come home immediately. Our dog, Jonesee, was unresponsive in the pasture. When we got there this man had gone and gotten a friend to help him move Jonesee and they were sad to report he was dead. I couldn't except this news! Jonesee was healthy and was a gift to us! I asked Hal if he believed God could raise Jonesee from the dead. Hal said he did and I said, "so, you're agreeing with me?" and he assured me he was. I started walking towards the pasture, I planned to kneel down and pray over our dog. But when I got to the gate I felt the Lord tell me to call forth to Jonesee, much like Jesus had to Lazarus. So I stopped and boldly yelled, "JONESEE!" He lifted his head, looked around and came running to me! The two men who had assured us he was dead almost peed their pants! When sharing with friends and family I received many comments that expressed unbelief. Many would ask, "so what was wrong with him? did you take him to the vet?" Well, heavens no! He was dead and is alive! I don't think he needs a vet! I have also experienced the healing of heaven. Most recently, I lost a dear friend to cancer. I had prayed the same prayers and claimed the same scriptures over him that I've prayed over others. Although grief stricken, I trust my friend received healing in heaven and now worships our Father in his glorified body! Whew we!!!!

I feel like I have been so spastic and all over the place with my story. The ladies who wrote before me were a lot more eloquent and I know one of them shuttered when I used the phrase "almost peed their pants"! But this is me...spastic, boot wearing, Gram, lover of the Lord-living in the freedom He gives to be me! 

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ , and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God" Ephesians 3:16-19

Leslie with her husband, Hal (in her black and white boots!)

-Hal and Leslie celebrating with Mandee right after her engagement!

Leslie and Jamee

Gram and Dakota


Anonymous said...

i love the REALNESS of the love of Christ. So many times we all feel like we have to fix ourselves up, clean up, learn scripture, attend bible studies before we can share God's love. So thankful that he uses me, a beautiful mess just the way i am. Thank you for sharing. This freedom is powerful! I LOVE YOUR BOOTS!!! i love your heart!!! love~erin spinks

Courtney said...

I knew I was blessed when God put you in my life through my mama. I was immediately drawn to your spirit! You are one that can truly make a difference in so many .. not only through your. own experiences in life .. but also through the love that you have for Christ. You are a beautiful person. And all who meet you are smitten by you .. Hamilton and Alli Hayes are a perfect example :) they couldn't stay away from you! Love you friend!!!

Jill said...

i could go on and on about Leslie. she is being used by God in a HUGE way! erin, i LOVE how you put it...she is who she is and it's beautiful.

and courtney, i agree! i am certainly smitten by her too! it's the Love of Christ shining all around her! such an awesome sight!

Robin Smith said...

I wouldn`t be the person I am today had God not placed Leslie in my life. She pulled me up out of the dark hole I was fastly sinking in. I have always been a believer and had a strong love for our Heavenly Father, but wasn`t allowing Him to live in my daily life. As I began spending more and more time with Leslie, she began teaching me so much without her even knowing! A person of faith can feel Him when Leslie is around!! I have witnessed her faith and prayers - I know who to call when I need specific prayer!
Through my relationship with Leslie, the Lord has blessed me with her precious family and another sweet friend that should be my blood sister! We are so much alike, it`s unreal. I love how He has placed these people in my life!!
Leslie has taught me that I can come to the Lord, just as I am...with all my dents and dings, He still loves me! All these years I have felt He didn`t want someone like me, someone who can`t quote scripture after scripture, someone who didn`t grow up in a family loving the Lord. Leslie took all of that away!
Giving Him all the thanks and praise for placing her and her husband Hal in our lives! We love you!!

Samantha said...

In the past I too lived a life that did not honor Him. And
just like you, Leslie, His love literally saved me!!
Thank you for sharing your story so candidly and honestly!
I feel like I know you a little bit now, and I am blessed for it!

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that you were able to be so open! I know that your story will offer encouragement to others who have experienced similar situations! WOW! Thank you for sharing!
Kim J

Lisa said...

how awesome is this post?!?! oh man i loved it and thank you so much for your honesty, i felt like we were all sitting together over coffee! may the lord continue to use and bless you!

Leslie Jones said...

oh ladies...your comments have blessed my socks off tonight!

we serve an amazing God! and yet, He's our Daddy! not sure how all that works...just super duper grateful for it!

love to you all...Gram

Mary Hudgins Balicki said...

What Lisa and Samantha said. Your story and openess was pure inspiration. I can relate to being literally saved from the pit. You sharing reminds me that my story is His story and should be shared as often as often possible. Thank you for going there. May God continue to use you in an awesome way.

Anonymous said...

Oh! How I love Jesus! How very thankful and full my heart is for SHINE GIRLS and the opportunity it gives for us to hear each others' stories, see the vulnerability, feel the hurt, smell the garbage (and realize how FAMILIAR that odor is), taste the salt of the tears ... and KNOW, even before we read "the rest of the story" that our awesome God is in the business of RESTORATION! Leslie, you know what a huge chunk of my heart you occupy. I am so proud of you!

Being restored, sandy/moma/mimi/great-mimi

Rebekah Hudgins Vepraskas said...


Your story is such a blessing to me. I love the strength of your faith. I think it goes a long, long way in Christ's answers to our prayers. Thank you for being so real. I am excited for what God is doing in your life. May He bless you so much for blessing us.

Angela Crowe said...

Leslie, your story touched me and your honesty and transparency blows me away. Your heart for your family and your unshakeable faith is so admirable! You are spilling over with wisdom and I am in agreement with everyone...we are all blessed to receive it! I hope to meet and even better, become friends, with you someday! My sister (Jill) has been gushing about you and now I can see why!!

May God continue to pour His blessings upon you!

Much Love~

Angela Crowe

Leslie said...

and now, I feel like I know you! thank you do much for sharing today. what a blessing you are! I would love to meet you in person, hug your sweet neck and talk about our awesome Lord!

KC said...

My dearest friend...Many years ago you were a light that drew me out of a dark place. One of those places that we, Christians, sometimes think we would never explore. But I was there, and you help me to find my way out, loving me all the way. I cherish our beautiful friendship (and the outrageous humor that goes with it)! So proud of you!

Leslie Jones said...

another thank you for the sweet comments that have been posted since I last replied...
Rebekah, thank you so much!
Angela, I hope to meet you very soon!
KC, you're the best! can't imagine doing life without you!