God Launched a Bible Study!

Today I want to share with you how an “unanswered” prayer in my life actually turned out to be a BLESSING in disguise! This is the story of how this blog and Bible study came to be.

 GOD SHUT A DOOR!

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My story

I have been a public elementary school teacher for almost 20 years.  I have LOVED it!  I KNEW when I first began teaching children that education was the right career for me. Teaching inspired and fulfilled me. Watching children grow both in knowledge and in confidence moved me- and still does!

Over the past couple of years I have experienced a different pulling.  I have felt a nudge to move in a different direction. After leading many adult Bible study classes, I began to feel a STRONG calling on my life to work for a faith-based company.  I thought it might be time for me to find a job where I could serve adults.  I felt called to merge my teaching with my Christian faith, so I reached out to the John Maxwell Co. (John Maxwell by my standards, is THE BOMB, when it comes to Christian Leadership Teaching)

My first degree is in Marketing.  I went back to get my teaching degrees after my children were born. I saw that The Maxwell Co. had an opening in their Marketing division, so I reached out to the hiring manager. She responded to my interest email and set me up with some interviews. I KNEW this must be a sign from God because I had been out of the business world for 20 years!  After interviewing with everyone at the John Maxwell Co. (besides John Maxwell and the janitor- slight exageration) I felt pretty confident that I would be offered the job. I was so excited!

Weeks went by before I heard that the job had been offered to someone else  I did not have enough (or any, in fact) email marketing experience. I was DEVASTATED!!!!  I just KNEW God was CALLING me…  and then the door was slammed in my face!!!  OUCH, John Maxwell!!!!!  😉

The day I found out  I moped!!!  I am not a “mopey” person, but I allowed myself one half of a day to pout!  During that one half of a day I did something a little bit desperate and a lot bit crazy…  I found the most influential Christian business person in my area and I messaged him! This particular person is the past President and CEO of iDisciple- which is part of Family Christian Bookstores. Anyway, I poured my heart out to him and asked if we could meet. I wrote that I felt “called” to work for a faith-based company.  I  mentioned that I had been out of the business world for 20 years.  I asked him for guidance and advice.

This very important business man messaged me back within that same hour! I KNOW that he receives HUNDREDS of letters and resumes each week (he even told me so), but he responded to mine!  He said there was something about my letter that touched him!  He then told me that he would forward my letter to the hiring managers at iDisciple with his personal recommendation attached!  I was beyond excited and happy!  This to me was more validation that God WAS CALLING me to work for HIM!

What happened next led me to begin writing on my blog.  This business man forwarded me the email that he sent to his hiring managers.  In the subject line of the email he wrote:  potential writer!!!!  Here is the INCREDIBLE part- ….In my letter I had mentioned NOTHING about wanting to write!!!  The really AMAZING thing about this is that GOD KNEW I WANTED TO WRITE!!!

A few weeks before this happened I had asked a couple of friends of mine to meet me for a special prayer time.  We prayed about my “calling” …  I told them how I really felt God nudging me to work somewhere where I could help adults.  I told them that my ultimate dream was to write Christian curriculum and Bible Studies one day. At this time I was waking up around 4:15 every morning to read and study before leaving for work each day.  Studying Jewish history and how it relates to events in the Bible fascinated me- STILL DOES!!!  I often say that I am obsessed with reading and researching!

A few days past by. I never heard back from iDisciple, but I knew that I should begin writing.  I started blogging.  I began writing short devotions.  I KNEW that even if no one else read them that I SHOULD write them down.  I was learning so much each morning when I read.  I needed to somehow DOCUMENT my findings and thoughts so that I would not forget them. Writing the devotions would help ME to remember what I was reading and learning. It would give God another avenue to SPEAK to me!  As I began writing, I felt HIS insights begin to flow through me!

From there the Bible Study began.  It all happened SO FAST and SO NATURALLY that it is a little bit hard for me to remember the exacts.  It is like GOD moved His hand over my computer, and everything connected! I don’t even remember who joined my team first:  Abby, my journal instructor; or Nicole, my artist.  Both of these amazing ladies were brought to me by God Himself!  We have never even met each other!  We all somehow connected on the internet!  I saw Nicole’s artwork on Pinterest and reached out to her asking if she would let me use some of her artwork with my study. Abby saw something I wrote on another “pin” on Pinterest and reached out to me asking about my Bible Study.  We began messaging and sharing ideas, and ……the rest is HISTORY!!!

Our interactive online Bible Study was born!

God KNEW what He wanted me to do and He KNEW who I needed on my team!  The Lord CAUSED the doors at Maxwell and iDisciple to close.  He caused the business man to reach out to me.  The Lord led me to begin this Bible Study, and He assembled my team!!!!  I feel SO BLESSED!!!!  I KNOW that I am EXACTLY where I am supposed to be at this moment! For now, I will continue to teach elementary school during the school year and will write and lead online Bible Studies in the summer!

I am excited to see what God has in store next!

You can read more about my AMAZING team members by following their blogs:

http://www.nicplynel.com/

https://singlemommyslife.wordpress.com/

Please feel free to join our online Bible Study!!!

We will be writing interactive devotional lessons once a month in the fall .  🙂

You can see more on our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/Biblestudiesfromtheheart/

GOD BROUGHT ME LOVE!!!!!

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I am going to share with you the story of how God brought my husband Gary and I together.

Our story actually began about 5 YEARS before we even met.

I will list the steps involved and them I will give details about each.

PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED IN GOD’S TIMING 🙂 🙂

Step one:  Gary prayed about which church he should join.  He had been attending a small church.  But after his divorce, he felt like he needed one that would allow him the opportunity to meet new people.  At this time he was very much into hiking.  He decided to hike up to the top of Blood Mountain and spend some quality time with God.  As he was praying and asking God to lead him to a new church, he heard a noise.  Someone was approaching the summit of Blood Mountain. …  Gary looked up and saw a man.  This is where GOD comes in…. The man was wearing a 12 Stone Church t-shirt!!!!!   Gary laughed to himself.  He had just prayed for God to lead him to a new church and here was a church t-shirt….  this  particular church in a few years would actually be very close to Gary’s home.

So….  Gary began attending 12 Stone.

The 12 Stone campus that was open at this time was not convenient for Gary.  He began looking elsewhere and visiting other churches closer to his home. After attending another church for a short while God instructed Gary to open his Bible to a particular book.  He was told to read Joshua chapter 4.  As he began reading he noticed that the words 12 Stone appear 3 times in the first 9 verses!!!!  Gary needed NO MORE VALIDATION from God- he decided to make 12 Stone his new church home. Within weeks of making that decision, 12 Stone announced that they would be opening a location in Sugarloaf- which is where Gary LIVED!!!!

Step 2, Gary met a friend through his new church.  12 Stone had small groups available for people to join and study God’s word together.  Gary decided to join one. During this first group he met a man named J.R.  It is important to note that J.R. only came to one of these meetings.  I think God directed him there so that he could meet Gary.  Gary and JR met on that first night of the study and are still friends to this day! (J.R. comes back into the story later)

Step 3, (YEARS LATER) God prompted me to start a co-ed Bible study. I was now divorced and hated the whole dating scene.  I was lonely.  I needed friends!  I LOVED to read and study so I decided to find a Christian Singles Book Club in my area to join.  There weren’t any, so God prompted me to start one!   The group was AMAZING!!!  At one time we had over 150 members!  I met some incredible people through this group- some of which are still my close friends today.  BUT….  the person I met in that group that relates to THIS God story is …..  you guessed it…  J.R.!!!!!!!!!!

Step 4, Gary’s friend joined my co-ed group.  The co-ed group had been meeting for a little while when J.R. started coming.  Because I was the leader, I made it a point to NOT date within the group.  This was actually a GOOD thing! I had never really had “guy” friends before this group, but now I did!  I felt comfortable sharing my stories and weaknesses with the group because there was no “sexual” tension.  J.R. and I became friends.  I remember asking him one night where all the good guys were…  because I sure couldn’t find any.

Step 5, God tells me I will find love in MAY.  This took place sometime around November or December.  I know this because I remember crying on the floor like a big old baby and looking up at my Christmas tree.  I was feeling very down.  It was the holidays….  I was all alone…. I had pretty much given up on dating….  and I was coming to realize that I would probably be single forever.  I remember CRYING so hard on this particular night!  SNOT BUBBLES were coming out of my nostrils!  I was making weird gasping sounds….  I was a MESS!!!!!  I remember praying to God….  asking Him if I would ALWAYS be alone!!! SCREAMING out to Him that I felt so LONELY!!!  It was not too long after my prayer that I heard His voice!  God said, “May,  Leslie, Not before May and not after May, but May”…  He repeated this to me several times that night and the next morning.

Step 6,  I go on with my life.  I continue my Bible Study and give myself time to heal and grow.  Over the next few months I feel myself getting SO much stronger, both emotionally and spiritually.  I do not feel desperate anymore.  I feel FULL!  I am now at a place where if I don’t find love again in my life that I KNOW I will still be alright.

Step 7, I move into an apartment. At the time I was trying to purchase a very small and kind of scary townhouse about 20 miles away.  It fell though.  I had a friend from the Co-ed Book club who had just moved into an apartment complex in Duluth.  She loved it,  so I decided I would move there too.  I did not know this at the time, BUT Gary was moving into his apartment the same exact month that I was….   he moved in roughly 2 weeks before I moved in!!! His apartment was in Suwanee, which is about 6 miles from my apartment in Duluth.  We STILL had not met, NOR had we even HEARD about each other!!! God was still working on our introduction…  it would occur SOON…  but not until MAY!

Step 8, J.R. introduced me to Gary.  This occurred on May 5.  I remember the date because the Co-ed group was getting together to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  J.R. called me and asked me if it was ok if he brought his friend Gary. He wanted me to meet him.  He thought we might hit it off…..  SURE, I said!!  🙂  We met that night and began dating exclusively that same week!

Step 9, We fell in love.  On the very last day in May Gary’s car broke down.  He called and asked me if I could pick him up from the shop.  I did and we ended up spending the day together.  I remember we talked, cooked frozen lasagna, and watched some TV,……….. BUT the most important thing that happened on that very last day of MAY- Gary told me he loved me for the VERY FIRST TIME!!!!!  God TOLD me that it would happen in MAY!!!!  AND It DID!!!!!!! We even joke and say that GOD helped it happen on that last day of MAY by having Gary’s car break down!  If his car wouldn’t have needed repairs, we wouldn’t have spent the day together and Gary may not have told me that he LOVED ME!!!!

GOD IS SO GOOD!!!!!

God “rang” my cellphone and ANSWERED MY PRAYER!! :)

God does such AMAZING things each and every day in our lives!!!

I think it is important that we take the time to DOCUMENT our God moments

We should NEVER forget even the slightest detail of when God steps in and TOUCHES our lives

Now I will share ONE MORE GOD STORY with you.

It involves a phone call….

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I have SO MANY God stories! This one is about God leading us to the house we currently live in. Gary (my husband) and I were planning on getting married. We KNEW that God brought us together (that is a whole other GOD STORY) …. we were looking for a place to live. We both had our own apartments…. mine a one bedroom, his a 3 bedroom. At the time we were both “empty- nesters”…. his teenage daughters were living with their mom, my children were all older and had already left home (2 in college, one living with friends)…. because of this we were looking for something small. We were searching for a townhouse or small ranch near his children’s high school. We could not find ANYTHING!!!! The few that were in our budget got snatched up before we could even consider them. We were getting a little frustrated. We even began debating about just keeping his apartment and moving my stuff in there.

THEN GOD STEPPED IN!!!!!!

We decided to look at one more house. It was MUCH MORE HOUSE than the two of us needed (we thought), but it was close to the monthly rent that we were looking for AND IT was near the high school and his daughters, so we checked it out……

We had made a list of things that we wanted in a house…. a fireplace, book shelves…. etc….. WHEN WE LOOKED AT THIS HOUSE it had EVERYTHING we wanted multiplied by about a million…. it was SO MUCH MORE than we thought we needed or even wanted….

We spoke to the owner and she agreed to lower the rent to what we could afford to pay….. WE WERE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WERE CURRENTLY EVEN LOOKING AT THIS HOUSE- which is a TOTAL God thing!!!!!

We left that showing and were still unsure. It was WAY TOO MUCH HOUSE for US!!!! We just didn’t NEED it!!!!!! We felt so undeserving of it…  I think we even felt a little embarrassed even considering it.

We prayed. We asked God to lead us. Should we move into this house? After all there were only two of us…. it was just way too much house for us!!!

ALMOST instantly (seriously,  within 3 minutes) after praying my cellphone rang. It was my 24-year-old son. He was calling to ask if he could possibly stay with me for a while. We KNEW this was a sign from GOD! We MOVED into the house and my son now lives with us. This house has been a true BLESSING!  I feel like God knew that my son needed this time with Gary and I.  The growth that my son has shown over this past year is INCREDIBLE! He was always an amazing boy, but now he is developing into an amazing MAN!  He now has a full-time job and is saving money to buy his own car! I know that God moved us into this house so that my son could learn Godly wisdom and love through my husband, Gary!  It is INCREDIBLE!!!! I feel SO BLESSED that God led us here!

Gary’s daughter also lived with us for a few months which was AWESOME!!!! She had not lived with her father in years, so this was a wonderful season for both she and her dad.  With this house we have SPACE available for any of our 5 kids to come home at any point! I do not know what the future will bring or where we will live next, but I DO KNOW for right now we are EXACTLY where we are meant to be!!!!!

Isn’t it AMAZING that the God of the UNIVERSE wants to be involved in our everyday lives!!!!

 I LOVE THAT!!!!

God taught me to PRAY :)

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 God does such AMAZING things each and every day in our lives!!!

I think it is important that we take the time to DOCUMENT our God moments

We should NEVER forget even the slightest detail of when God steps in and TOUCHES our lives

Today I will share ONE GOD STORY with you.

It involves finding lost keys….

This God moment happened about 4 summers ago.  My daughter at this time had a VW bug.  She had ONE KEY. She lost the ONE KEY. To replace it would cost over $300… I did not have $300… we were in a “pickle”…… I had been reading books about the proper way to “pray”- I didn’t think I was doing it correctly- lol… ANYWAY, even though I was reading those books and learning that our prayers are simply conversations with God- a way to TALK to Him about EVERYTHING in our life.. ..with no formula, no format that you had to follow….. I STILL DID NOT APPLY PRAYER TO MY LOST KEY SITUATION until a friend asked me…. “Leslie, did you ask God to help you find your keys?”

 

HMMMMMMMMM……. why, no… I hadn’t. I told the friend that I would give it a “whirl”…

 

That night before I went to sleep, I prayed and asked God to please help me find the key. I told him all the details of the cost, etc… and asked Him if He could give me just a little “Hint” as to where to look….. I HEARD HIS VOICE IN MY HEAD!!!!!! He said, “Look in your car, Leslie…. Look in your car….” (in my head he sounded like James Earl Jones… when I tell this story I like to use my DEEP, God voice to act it out….) Anyway….. I had ALREADY looked in my car- about 845 times!!!!! My daughter had ALREADY looked in my car as well!!! HER KEY WAS NOT THERE!!!!! I did not want to argue with God, so I just acted like I didn’t hear Him and went to sleep…. In the morning before I got out of bed I prayed again and asked Him to help me find the key. I HEARD HIS VOICE AGAIN!!!!! This time STILL like James Earl Jones, but with a little less patience…” LOOK IN YOUR CAR, LESLIE….. LOOK IN YOUR CAR….” Well, ok- I thought….. I will go look again, God (who sounds like James Earl Jones)……

 

GUESS WHAT???!!!???? THE KEY WAS THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I walked outside. Went straight to the driver’s side…. opened the back door….. looked in the pouch behind the driver’s seat….. AND THERE WAS THE KEY!!!!!!!!!!! I have NO IDEA what led me to walk straight to THAT spot and look (God led me)…. I had NEVER EVEN USED THOSE SEAT POUCHES BEFORE!!!!  I really never even noticed that they were there!!!

 

I called my daughter and told her that I found her key and mentioned to her where it was….. she was AMAZED!!!! She, nor anyone else who rode in my car, had EVER put anything in those seat pouches!!!! To this day we KNOW it was God would led us to her lost key!!

 

I think God used the lost key as a way to teach me about prayer.  Up until this time I was concerned that my prayer life was lacking.  I thought I needed to use special words, include a special prayer place in my house, etc….  WITH THIS GOD MOMENT, My Heavely Father showed me how to truly pray!  When I pray to Him I need to discuss my life.  Tell Him about my worries, my hopes, my dreams, etc….  and thank Him for everything He has and will do for me!  My prayers are CONVERSATIONS!  He WANTS to be involved in EVERY area of my life- even the small things- like  2 and 1/2 inch KEYS!!!!

 

I hope by reading this you feel encouraged to TALK to GOD today!!!!  Nothing is TOO big or TOO small for God’s ears!!  He loves us SO VERY MUCH!!!!  He is waiting to hear our voices!!  🙂

 

 

Broccoli, Car, and May….. Oh, MY!!!!

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I have heard God’s voice 3 times in my life. He told me to “eat raw broccoli”, “look in your car”, and “May- not before May, not after May….  but May”…  All 3 of these times was in response to me SEEKING Him for HELP- and on these particular occasions HE chose to SPEAK TO ME!!!!!!!!!  All 3 took place during ONE particular summer (the summer of 2012).  HEARING God’s voice  is AMAZING no matter HOW MANY times you are blessed enough to experience Him, but 3 times- THIS IS EXTREMELY INCREDIBLE!!! I feel like I NEED to reflect and share each one!!!   I am choosing to write them down for 2 reasons. My first reason is so that I do NOT forget anything!  My second reason is that people NEED to know that God DOES still communicate with His children! 🙂

The TIMING of these encounters was NOT haphazard.  NOTHING is haphazard with God!  The summer of 2012 was my “desert” if you will.  I was WANDERING!  I was SEARCHING!  I was ALONE!  I had been divorced for a while and was still feeling EMPTY.  The dating world had left me feeling both shocked and exhausted. I needed a TIME-OUT.  The summer of 2012 was going to be my “break.”  I needed to take time to discover who I WAS- take time to HEAL and allow God to rebuild me.  During this summer I realized that It wasn’t a “man” that I was craving. I began to realize that no “man” could ever TRULY satisfy me.  I was discovering that GOD Himself was who I was missing. I finally understood that what I was NEEDING was GENUINE LOVE –  the kind of LOVE which only comes from having a TRUE BOND with our Heavenly Father!!!

As I reflect back, I find it  important that I heard God exactly 3 times!!!  The number 3 is a significant number in scripture it refers to COMPLETION.  Knowing this peeks my curiosity…. Is the NUMBER important in my encounters with God?  Is it a coincidence that I heard Him EXACTLY 3 times??  Is there a lesson I can learn from the numerology of our interactions?? I think there IS!!!!  I am discovering as I reflect back on those three AMAZING moments that God was leading me to so much more than just broccoli, car keys, and May!!!!

God was about to speak to me!  He was about to CLEANSE me, MOVE me,  and ultimately FILL me!!!  In 3 VERY powerful, yet unique ways God was going to “speak” life back into His beloved daughter!

I am going to share each of the 3 moments with you in upcoming blogs.  I hope that through these blogs you will feel encouraged to PRAY without CEASING! God REALLY DOES CARE about EVERY detail of our LIVES!!!!  He wants us to TALK TO HIM about EVERYTHING…………….   EVEN our green vegetables!!!! 😉