Launch Info

Here is a link to a video I posted on Facebook regarding the launch:

Monday’s Launch Video

Here is a link to the Virtual Facebook Launch beginning tomorrow at 11am.

30 Days in Acts Virtual Launch

I will post a link to the book, available on Amazon soon! Subscribers, check your email tonight!

Virtual Book Launch

On Tuesday, head over to my Facebook page for the virtual launch for “30 Days in Acts”! From 11am-6pm, I will be checking in every hour on the hour with videos, 3 giveaways, and a free download!

Here is the link to the launch:

30 Days in Acts Virtual Book Launch

I hope to see you there!

Coming soon…

Y’all, I can’t wait to bring you my new Bible study on the book of Acts. I am still floating on the kindness I have received since releasing my “30 Days with John” study last year. Everything God put on my heart as a reason for writing my first study was echoed through those who have completed it.

– Easy to complete for moms with young kids

– Not overwhelming

– Very informative

– Basic enough for new believers

– In depth enough for seasoned believers

I knew I wanted to write a second study. After reading “Letters to the Church” by Frances Chan last year, I had to write the study on Acts. Chan steps all over my toes on what church has become compared to what God designed it to be. I wanted to dive into Acts to get a picture of how the early church began. Of course I gained so much more.

Church as a body of believers was designed by God and holds a special place in His Kingdom. If church hurt has caused you to not be a part of a body of believers, I urge you to do this study. If you have been “church shopping” and don’t know where God wants you, buy this study. If you love your church and are curious how it compares to the church in Acts, grab this study!

The book of Acts not only covers the early church, but you journey with Peter and Jesus’ disciples as they share the good news with the world. You also meet Paul and learn how everything he thought he knew about God was shattered as his eyes were opened to his own sin of idol worship…worshipping his own religion.

Releasing May 19th on Amazon.com.

Stay tuned for:

– a virtual launch party

– giveaways

– contest with a drawing

– and more!

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement over the past year. I have truly been overwhelmed and couldn’t wait to share this new study with you!

When the Words Won’t Come

Writing is how I process my world. It is a free therapist that I never have to worry about overburdening with the same thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Often my writing becomes prayers when the words become so heavy, they fall onto pages like an onslaught of rain to an already over saturated earth.

When there are too many words to form into coherent thoughts, I stop. I grow weary of trying to understand it all because I never will. There comes a time when I have to keep myself from processing and pouring thoughts onto pages and simply sit in the moment, whatever moment I find myself. Eventually I might pick some of those thoughts back up to form into sentences that may feed another soul as well as my own.

For now, only God will do the processing of my heart. He is the only one who knows what to do with the shards of brokenness from these days. I trust Him to carefully piece together all of the thoughts and feelings, sadness and pain and hold on to them all, until I am ready to be entrusted with them.

This time isn’t easy for anyone and don’t think that something is wrong with you if you are struggling. Even if your challenges may not be the same as another’s, we have all been stripped of what we knew and left with a mess to recreate some semblance of sanity.

What can you hold on to when everything has the potential to slip from your grasp?

Hope. Love. Encourage.

“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25

It’s okay to sit, laying it all down when it all becomes too heavy, but when you are ready to press forward, Hope in God who will see you through this (as He has done many times before). Search for ways to love others through serving and giving. Encourage one another with smiles and conversations. We are in this together. Keep your hearts connected, not distant. At the end of this very dark tunnel, our broken shards will emerge more beautifully crafted than before.

Hope. Love. Encourage.

We can do this.

Some new things are on the horizon for the Leah Lively Blog. Giveaways, a book release, and 30 Day challenge will be hitting in May so make sure you are subscribed to get the latest information!

An Empty Cup

“‘Abba, Father’, he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'” Mark 14:36 NIV

Offer me a cup of warm coffee and I am happily content with the smell and taste of the liquid comfort. Not iced, not flavored, but a simple cup of brewed coffee, a teaspoon of sugar, and a splash or two of heavy cream.

To this day, a cup of Coca-Cola makes my stomach lurch. My mother would offer me a glass when a virus made it impossible to keep anything down. The carbonation would do the trick, but my brain still associates that smell and taste with an upset stomach. While I rarely drink soda, Coca-Cola is not what I choose to fill my cup.

The heaviness of the past few weeks is taking its toll on my mind and emotions. I tend to absorb everything around me. The pain, sufferings, and anguish of our world is making me weary to the point of being unable to sleep. I don’t worry about the future. I have this hope that God is still on the throne and in full-control of this pandemic. However, my heart grieves for the lives lost and effected by its quake. My cup is full to overflowing with grief.

God, take this cup from our world.

Today marks Jesus’ death on the cross, almost 2000 years ago. We look forward to Sunday, Resurrection Day, when the weight of the sins of the world is removed as the stone is rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. But first, we must sit, with a cup in our hands and ask God to take it.

Our gracious God gave us himself in human form to wrestle with our sin.  

Jesus knew what had to be done for the cup to be taken from Him. His humanity and honesty before God uttered a plea that he wouldn’t have to endure what was to come. In that cup, full to overflowing, is my sin. Before I can celebrate the resurrection, I have to wrestle with my sin in Jesus’ cup.

Jesus holds a cup for each one of us. Full to over-flowing with sin. We don’t like to talk about sin. It makes us feel uncomfortable, forcing us to own up to our imperfections. While I could attempt to list every sin in my life that would drip from the confines of the rim of Jesus’ cup, naming my sin is only the first step…turning from it is vital.

In between the naming and the turning, something significant happened: Friday. Before I could begin to turn away from everything that keeps me from living a full life in God, Jesus had to hold my sin within his grip and put it to death, poured out once and for all on a sinner’s cross. Every sin is an idol that keeps me from turning toward God.

The idol of discontentment? Its on the cross.

The idol of pride? Its on the cross.

The idol of bitterness? Its on the cross.

The idol of anger? Its on the cross.

Jesus drank your cup.  God didn’t take the cup from him.  He drank it.  Every last drop of stomach lurching sin. It is finished.  

And it killed him.

After three days, three days of completion, the task was done.  He washed your cup clean and handed it back to you without a smell or visible remnant of what was once there. 

God didn’t take the cup because He wanted it returned to you empty, ready for a new life and a fresh start. Before Resurrection Sunday, however it will look for you this year, hold the cup of your sin. Is it still full to overflowing? God’s son, Jesus, emptied it on the cross, for you. His grace gave us a gift we do not deserve, a clean and empty cup, ready to be filled with Jesus, and Jesus alone.

How sweet the taste.

If you have never prayed to acknowledge your sin and allow God to guide your life every day, go to the page “Steps to Salvation” in the menu.

      

Don’t Waste This

It’s all still sinking in. We have been social distancing for almost a month. We are exploring uncharted territory as families and communities. While I am still processing all of this, as we all are, this one phrase won’t leave me.

Don’t waste this.

As all of our comforts are taken away and days are uncertain ahead of us, we still have a choice. We can not let this time pass without it moving us to transformation.

Transformation takes surrender.

This week, Holy Week, leading up to Resurrection Sunday also happens to be Passover. The Israelites were enslaved by the Pharaoh of Egypt because he felt threatened by their large number. God called Moses to rescue the Israelites and lead them to their promised land. A place they could call their own. The morning after Passover, when their doorposts dripped with lamb’s blood to save them from the angel of death, they surrendered to God and his plan for their lives. As they embarked on this unchartered territory, they had to surrender as God provided daily bread and water from rocks. They were being transformed from an enslaved people who relied on their captors for their meager sustenance, to a free people who trusted God with daily abundance.

Resurrection takes surrender.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Jesus entered Jerusalem and with his eyes on the city, He wept. He cried tears for a people who would not surrender to the God who would bring them peace (Luke 19:41-42). The hope for resurrection in God’s people rested on Jesus’ shoulders.

In order to be revived, I must surrender to the One breathing life into me. In the darkness of this time, I have to trust God for his daily abundance. I have to trust God to resurrect my hope.

I will not waste this. At the end of this quarantine, I will not waste the opportunity for transformation. Do not miss the chance to be resurrected by the One who breathes life into each one of us.

I will continue to pray for a surrendered heart, ready for the resurrection to come. Now is the perfect time to pray for the transformation and resurrection of our world.

In February, I began a series of posts on prayer. The free download for email subscribers will now be posted for everyone who needs guidance in their prayers during this time. Click on the Prayer Guide tab to download the prayer cards.

Don’t waste this.

A God Who Weeps

Weep – to express grief, sorrow, or any overpowering emotion by shedding tears

When is the last time you really cried, wept? When were you recently overwhelmed with emotion and tears? I wear my heart all over my sleeves and face so people who are close to me have definitely seen me cry. But weep with overwhelming emotion? That’s usually reserved for the confines of my bathroom. My ugly tears come quickest when I can shut out the world in my bathroom.

My last ugly cry was a result of news that evoked anger, grief, and heartfelt compassion all rolled into one. Every angle of the situation and every person involved made me feel “all the things” and tears erupted.

This current state of our country and world has filled me with overpowering emotion. My kids have had the best school year to date, mainly because of incredible teachers. Now they will be home and not return for the remainder of the school year. One child weeps for her friends and beloved teacher. The other weeps for this never ending time-out that has entered his life.

Every ten years or so, there seems to be a devastating event that hits the bedrock of our lives. We are shaken by all that it happening around us and grieving over the heaviness of it all. In my lifetime, I vividly recall the Challenger explosion, Desert Storm, Columbine, 9-11, and Hurricane Katrina. Each, especially as I have gotten older, has brought more sorrow into my heart than I knew I could feel.

The Corona virus is a whole different level of grief. Now, along with trying to manage my grief through it all, I am also trying to help my children grieve. As I type this, one child has been sitting with me for over an hour, not saying a word, yet making movements that express the hurt felt within.

Sitting in your grief isn’t easy, but necessary.

I am reminded of the few times it is recorded in scripture that Jesus was overpowered with emotion. In John 11, he had just received word that one of his closest friends had died. When he made the journey to see Lazarus’ sisters several days later, it wasn’t until he was on his way to the tomb and saw people he cared about who were crying, “he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled”. John 11:35 says “Jesus wept” and when he approached the tomb he was “deeply moved again”. We see Jesus’ humanity as he grieves deeply for his friends. Jesus, God in human form, who knows the beginning of time to the end, enters into our grief with us.

We want to cover it up, run from it, or stuff it down so far we can’t feel anymore, but our overpowering emotion will eventually erupt in the wrong place, at the wrong time, on the wrong person. So for now, enter into your grief. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust God, you’ve lost your joy, or you aren’t a good Christian. It means you are human and just like Jesus, you feel the pain of humanity and just how cruel life can be.

I am not going to tie this post up with a perfect bow. For now, I weep. Let’s sit in our grief together.

With all of the virtual hugs I can possibly give,

Leah

What’s Up, God?

I think we can all agree that we are in a very strange time in our world.

Trying to balance a sense of caution, concern, and calm is easier said than done.

We strive to make sense of all of it without alarming our children and making the situation worse.

A few years ago, our family made a sudden move from Virginia to Louisiana. I left my white, middle-class bubble in suburban/rural Virginia to a culturally diverse area of South Louisiana. Before arriving in Baton Rouge, the city experienced a series of racial violence and a deadly police ambush.

I strived to make sense of all of it without alarming my children.

I kept asking, “What’s up God? Open my eyes to what you doing here. What is your plan? What is your purpose?”

I knew, for our family to move to this scary place (I knew nothing about the area), God must have a plan for us there.

Shortly after we moved, catastrophic flooding closed schools for two weeks and left the area in ruins.

Again, I asked, “What’s up, God? Open my eyes to what you are doing.”

He opened my eyes wide. I saw neighbors, black and white, rescuing one another from flood waters. I saw people donating so many supplies that facilities had to rent warehouses to hold everything. People opened their doors to one another and schools opened their classrooms for teachers from other schools to use. My own friends and acquaintances from all over the country sent hundreds of dollars toiletries, household items, and school supplies which our family distributed throughout the community.

God knew Corona would happen. That may make God sound like a hateful Father, but He did.

God also knew how we would come together, in our humanity, and serve one another. He knew we would be forced to be still, prioritize our lives and relationships. He knew we would have to slow down and find contentment in our inconvenience.

Our job is not to understand God, but trust Him and open our eyes to how He is moving and working among us.

“Be still and know that I am God”(Psalm 46:10 ESV) Is a part of a popular verse we look to when our lives are chaos. If you look at the entire Psalm, we see what is going on in the world of the writer: earth giving way, trembling mountains moving into the sea, waters swelling and foaming, nations rage, kingdoms fall.

Despite all of this, read what God is doing despite the chaos in verses 8-10 (The Message) :

Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
    He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
    breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”

With a heavenly perspective, God sees more than we ever could. We will never understand His ways this side of heaven. We have to stop trying to.

“See the marvels of God” – people loving each other, collecting food for schools, buying gift cards for private businesses, kids sending cards to nursing homes

“Take a step out the traffic” – Stop looking at everything that is coming at you, threatening to take you out, i.e. the virus, isolation, homeschooling your kids, working full time from home, losing an income, the unknown.

“Take a long, loving look at God” – and don’t look away. He has His eyes fixed on you, keep focusing on God who is above everything.

You will see a God who fights for us and protects us.

God is a safe place to hide,
    ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
    courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
    the tremors that shift mountains.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city,
    this sacred haunt of the Most High.
God lives here, the streets are safe,
    God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
    but Earth does anything he says.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

 Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
    He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
    breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”

 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

Psalm 46, The Message

*I am taking a break from the series on the ten commandments. God has given me a lot of thoughts and words about what is going on in our world and I pray that they would be comfort and encouragement to you in the coming days and weeks.

Back to Basics: Misused Worship

Last week I began a new series for the month of March on revisiting the Ten Commandments. As a Christ follower, it is easy to get lost in the more tangible demands of the faith (i.e. going to church, reading the Bible, etc.) and forget about the commandments given to the children of God thousands of years ago. Commandments whose purpose were to take the Israelites from a pagan land and set them apart as holy followers of the one true God.

The commandments are progressive. We must first love God before we can fully love our neighbors. The first two commandments address keeping God as the only god in our lives; no other gods and no physical idols representing other gods. God is our Creator. He freed us from slavery of sin just as He freed the Israelites from their generational slavery in Egypt. He deserves to be our One and Only.

The next two commandments also address our worship of God and how we misuse our worship.

Commandment 3 – No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name. Ex.20:7 MSG

Commandment 4 – Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.” Exodus 20:8-11 MSG

Worship, by definition, is to honor or show reverence. If God is our One and Only God, then our words should reflect reverence and our lives should show how we use our time to honor Him. Last year, I committed to reading the Bible in its entirety. I had never spent much time in the Old Testament and was honestly intimidated by it. After reading the stories of the Israelites, kings, and prophets I had one overwhelming thought, they had no fear. The people turned from God and chose not to honor or fear Him. They repeatedly disobeyed and suffered for turning away from God. In His kindness, He lets them know if they return to Him, “Then they will know I am the Lord their God.” God wanted them to return to Commandments 1-4.

Today’s world could have been written thousands of years ago; no reverence, no fear, and no knowledge of God as Lord. This is reflected in the words that come out of our mouths. Words that speak against God and his holiness. If you want to live a life that honors God, your words must reflect that.

He should not be the object of our swearing if we truly honor the One true God.

It is easy to lose our reverence to God as our busy schedules push Him out of our lives. We have begun to honor busy-ness (idol) more than Him. We are teaching our kids to do the same. It took six days for God to create the entire universe and our world. He set the example of hard work for each of us, but He also showed us the value of rest. To set aside a day of rest is an outward expression of worshipping the One true God. God poured blessings into that holy day of rest. If we don’t take the time in our week to rest and value those blessings, we are missing out on some of God’s greatest gifts.

In the month of November, I wrote a series on Sabbath. Whichever day we choose to rest from our daily busy-ness, God has blessings for us. Our children need to know what it is like to have a day resting from constant activities, sports, and rigorous schedules. It doesn’t mean we sit around and do nothing. Many use this as a day for family activities to enjoy together. It can be a day free of screens, going on a nature walk or hike, or reading that stack of books you never seem to be able to get to. Then, after that day of rest our remaining six days become more productive because we work from a state or rest instead of towards it.

The remaining commandments, which we will discuss in the coming weeks, are about relationships with others. If our relationship with God is not on the right track, every other relationship will suffer. Are you struggling in your marriage or with a family member or friend? Check to see how God is being worshipped in your life. If your worship of God is being misplaced or misused, think about some changes you may need to make to get back on the right track in your relationship with Him.

Need a place to start? Check out the Prayer of Consecration in my free download. Sign up to be an email follower and you will receive a gift in your inbox.

Also, I ran across this amazing song of worship yesterday by Cody Carnes and Kari Jobe. It would make a perfect addition to your morning prayers or Sabbath. He is for you!

“The Blessing”

Back to Basics: Misplaced Worship

This month, I am going to revisit the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). It is easy for me to claim Christianity and then go through the motions of my faith. I lose focus of the basics of my beliefs. The first two commandments are both centered on worship.

Commandment 1 – No other gods, only me. Exodus 20:3 MSG

Commandment 2 – No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6 MSG

The “idea” that God doesn’t want us to worship anyone or anything besides Him isn’t really a foreign concept. It was the commandment that Eve broke before the commandments were ever written in stone. In Genesis, God created everything for Adam and Eve to enjoy. They should not have longed for anyone or anything else. They had God to themselves and everything God had ever created at their disposal. They had the purest form of worship. No distractions or need for anything else to satisfy. Enter the enemy who presented another idol to worship: What if there was something more that God was keeping from you? What if there was something you could have but God didn’t want you to have? Adam and Eve turned their worship away from God to the one thing they couldn’t have. The result? God made them leave.

The Israelites were descendants from Abraham. They were enslaved in Egypt surrounded by the worship of false Gods. God heard the cries of a tortured people and led them safely out of Egypt. He brought them to Mt. Sinai and provided them with an abundance of food and water. God catered to their every need after freeing them from generations of bondage. The Israelites owed God their lives and the lives of the generations after them. God had a covenant to fulfill. He had promised Abraham that his descendants, as numerous as the stars, would have their own land and would be a great nation. Through Moses, a leader God appointed, He would continue to carry out His promise. Israel camped at the bottom of Mt. Sinai as Moses went up to have a conversation with God. This is when God told Moses the Ten Commandments.

The commandments weren’t a list of rules to restrict the people. They were strict guidelines for living that would help them take hold of God’s promises for them. The Israelites had just been enslaved for generations. In order to become the great nation God intended, they needed some help. The Commandments are in order of importance and progression. You can’t begin to read until you learn the alphabet, identify letters, and know their sounds. We can’t take hold of God’s promises for us until we first learn to worship the provider of those promises. When we keep our focus on God, honoring Him with our lives, our mouths, and our schedules we can honor those around us like our parents and neighbors.

Much like the entire Bible, we live in an age of misplaced worship. The times in my life when my relationships have suffered the most, I have placed my worship on something other than God.

Worship my children > My marriage suffers

Worship my church > My family suffers

Worship social media > My mental peace suffers

Worship drama > My joy suffers

There can be no balance in our lives when our worship is misplaced.

The Israelites had to place their worship on God or they would not be able to take the land He had promised them. They had just come from a land where the Egyptians worship gods of rain, land, food, and water. If they worshipped God and obeyed Him, everything they needed would be given to them. He would bless their land, fields, and crops. If they didn’t keep their focus on Him, they would lose all God had promised them. This became the endless cycle of the Old Testament until to today. Adam and Eve should have worshipped their creator instead of another idol they thought they should have, just as we should worship our creator despite the other distractions that take our attention every day. The Israelites should have worshipped their deliverer as He brought them safely out of bondage and into a new land, just as we should worship our deliverer as we have been given Jesus to free us from the bondage of our sin.

Worship isn’t something you attend once a week at church. It isn’t something we do to get something in return. It is a daily focus and mindset. Worship is everything about God and nothing about ourselves.

I know when my worship is misplaced because I become exhausted trying to keep everything above water. To help refocus and get my worship back on God, I turn on music that focuses on Him. Music that is “me” focused doesn’t turn my heart to Him.* Another thing that helps me worship in the midst of distraction is taking a walk in nature, that God created. Sometimes I walk without earbuds, listening the sounds of nature moving around me. Other times I listen to worship music while I walk.

Is your worship misplaced? God says, “love the Lord your God and worship him with all your heart and all your soul“. He has promises for us just as he had for the Israelites, but in order to receive all he had for us, we have to keep our worship in the right place.

*Here are some of my favorite worship songs, currently: Run to the Father , Nothing Else , Waymaker, Raise A Hallelujah

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