Tuesday, September 25, 2012


There are some things that words don't suit to describe.

Imagine a crackling campfire with dear friends seated around, singing classic songs just a little off-key. Or the trickle of a brook, weaving its way down glistening stones and singing trees that stretch to the sky, as if to embrace the sun. Try as I might, these few words do little to portray the beauty and depth of these tiny occurrences in life... and yet, they draw you into your own mind, unearthing your own own mental images.

And how would you describe love? You could grab ahold of any one facet, turn it this way and that, and portray it through the deepest poetry or song. But you would inevitably miss many other points of love. Because love is intangible, yet woven through the fibers of our being.

Trying to write about my summer feels like trying to describe an emotion.

I have been home for six weeks now, and I feel like I'm just now ready to share. Sure, I told many stories upon my return, and some people even seemed interested in hearing them. But I still didn't know what to share. What words exist that could possibly reveal the connection my heart feels with this country, these people? What form of prose could describe the sense of home-ness I experienced in a foreign land, the strength of God's calling for me to be there? Are there any?

This is my first time to sit and record some of my experiences since I returned. Six weeks stateside... almost as much time as I spent there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

That's a Wrap!

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

I want to thank you all for the support you've given me this summer! Through your prayers, I know that God provided both a spiritual uplifting and a barrier of protection over me. Through your financial sacrifices, you partnered monetarily with God in what He is doing in the Czech Republic. Through your encouragement and friendship, I was reminded of the believers who had my back. In the times when things got difficult, your words encouraged me.

This eight-week trip has come to a close, and I am now settling back into Little Rock. My senior year at UALR starts this week, I've already resumed a few shifts at work, and soon life here will be back in full-swing... but I know that this year is intended to be different, to be special. Because I believe that my work in the Czech Republic is not yet done.

Throughout the summer, God made it clear to me that I should continue to join Him in the Czech Republic... I hope to move there after graduation and stay long-term. Just today, God gave me yet another confirmation that I am truly following His will for me. This last year in the States will be a season of preparation, and I hope to be intentional in all things that I do. I praise God for this, that He has already answered my prayers by providing a woman with very similar missions experience to mentor me through this next year!

Therefore, though my short trip is over, I know that there is much ahead... may God's glory continue to shine! Please stay in prayer for me as I continue to seek God's guidance, and I challenge you with this: keep your heart open for how God wants you to partner with Him in the Czech Republic. Your presence in my life is not merely a coincidence, and I have experienced the spiritual blessings that come with joining God in what He is already doing. After all, spreading the good news of Jesus is what life is all about, right?

Grace and Peace to all of you... we'll be in touch!

Deuteronomy 8:17-18
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's Nearing the End

The other day, I was thinking back over the past seven weeks. With just a little over one full week left, I can see my trip wrapping up. What is the story of my trip?

If there's one thing I've learned so far this summer, it's that there is a special unity that comes by the Holy Spirit. Throughout my experiences with the Czech Christians—as well as several American teams—I've noticed something special: instead of feeling like a random group of people haphazardly stuck together and forced into stressful situations... it feels like a family reunion.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in the Spirit and of one mind.”
-Philippians 2:1-2

I've spent almost two months forming and strengthening relationships, and I'm now able to look back and recognize the fruit of that. I still have one more youth camp this week, and then next weekend I will be saying goodbye—to all of my friends, my new church family, and this country that I love. While I plan on returning next summer and staying for a longer term, it still is very painful to think of having to leave.

How you can pray for me this last week:
  • Pray that I will have strength. Strength to stay joyful this week and keep pressing love into people around me. Strength to withstand the upcoming good-byes.
  • Pray that I will have courage. Courage to share the gospel with the non-Christians that have built good friendships with. Courage to share the love of God with the ones that need it.
  • Pray that I will pursue the relationships. There are three non-Christian friends coming to church with me tomorrow! With all of them, I've been deeply investing into these friendships throughout the summer, and now they are all anticipating joining me at church!
  • Pray that I will be prepared. I already recognize that I will have a weighty culture shock when I return to the States. And I won't have much time to readjust—within a few days I'll be back at work, and I start the fall semester one week after I get home.
  • Pray that I will be guided. Throughout this next year, I have many decisions to make. How I can get more Biblical and theological training, how I can study more of the Czech language, what steps I should take to create a more permanent stay for me here.

I want to thank all of you again for your continued prayers. I know that this would not be possible, if not for the prayers of all of you back at home. I look forward to reconnecting with you when I get back and sharing more in-depth just how much God has done in me and through me this year.

Your sister in Christ,

P.S. Sorry I have not sent out an update in such a long time. On July 16th, I began a run of three English camps back-to-back. I haven't had much time for anything else!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

One month down, one more to go!

I just want to start out by thanking you for all your prayers. I know that it is only by God's protection and grace that I have flourished here, and I know that having a spiritual covering of prayer over me has made all of the difference. Yesterday I was talking with the pastor here, and he said that he is amazed that even after weeks, they are still seeing fruit from my being here. (Totally God, not me!)

I've been keeping myself very busy ever since I got here. Hanging out with old friends, making new ones, having visitors and traveling to visit... all of it has been very enriching. Especially for ministry in the Czech Republic, it's important to have strong relationships with people. Czechs are known for not opening up to others very easily, especially when it comes to very personal things like religion.

I've done a lot since the last time I sent out an update. My Czech exchange-student sister came to visit me for a few days, and we always enjoy spending time with each other. I was really encouraged to hear that she is still pursuing a relationship with God, even though it has been over three years since she first accepted Christ while she was in America. (Please keep her in your prayers, as I don't know if she's yet had the courage to tell her family about her faith)

Last week, I also spent a few days in the small town of Lanškroun visiting my friend, and his family. His dad is the pastor of their town's church (the only evangelical church--about 50 or so people in the town of 10,000), and I had a lot of fun getting to know them. I also became good friends with his older sister, and the three of us even took a day trip to a village in Poland (it was an hour and a half by train).

This week has been more of a work-week for me. I have been spending the mornings teaching English to young children at a family center the church started. And in the afternoons, I've been either visiting with my non-Christian friends or helping the pastor prepare for our upcoming English Camp. We leave tomorrow, and prayers for it are appreciated! There will be about 70 people at the camp overall, ranging from small children to grandparent-age, and most all people are not Christians except for a team of ~10 church members who are running the camp. Please pray that the planning will run smoothly, that the team of Americans from North Dakota will build strong bonds with the Czechs (the Americans arrived last night), and that--most importantly--the hearts of the Czech people will be open to hearing the gospel.

I only have three and a half weeks left here, and I've already started to prematurely miss it here. As the saying goes, "Home is where the heart is." My home must be here, because my heart is here. Over the past six months or so, I have been seriously and prayerfully considering moving here after I graduate in May, and after being here for only a few days, I began to believe deeply that the place for my life is here, and I would like to move here permanently after I graduate. I still don't know the details on how I will make it happen--how I will support myself financially, where I will live, the logistics of acquiring a visa--but I have faith that where God leads me, He will provide for me. So, that being said, I appreciate any and all prayers you have for my wisdom and guidance in this. I have already discussed it with my family and a few close friends, as well as I spent some time the other day talking to the pastor here about partnering with the Czech church. I also appreciate prayers for the rest of my time here this summer, as I face back-to-back English camps and business.

Grace and Peace to all of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has saved us by his sacrifice and reconciled us to His Father.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Belated Update

Where to even begin?

There is something so settling about knowing that you're in the place where God wants you to be, knowing that all of your passions, gifts, growths, experiences, and desires have all prepared you for this time and location. While this may sound like a bold statement, over the past few months as God was preparing me and leading me to make this small step, I've seen Him reveal to me again and again how my life as a Christian has been to lead me to this place.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

I previously mentioned the scariest moment of my trip—of my life—when I spent the evening in the Emergency Room recovering from a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting. If you want to see the detailed story, I just finished writing up a blog about it: 
(I was going to include it in this update, but it was just too long)

I've had a busy but fruitful two weeks here already, and while it partially feels like I've always been here... I also feel like the time is flying by too quickly. One-fourth of my trip is already over! In addition to the hard times that you've heard about—the difficulty getting here and the evening in the hospital—I have had some wonderful times here as well!

I've built some great relationships with the Czech church here. The church pastor and his wife have been very welcoming to me, having me over to their home to visit and play with their two kids. They have been very encouraging, and I have spent quite a bit of time with this pastor as well, since much of our ministry work has been side-by-side. His nephew is also a Christian, and probably my best friend here! He lives about an hour away, but has come to visit a few times. We get along great, and have fun hanging out and playing music together. I also have gotten to know the youth leader fairly well. She is very sweet, and we've had some great evenings visiting. I have gotten to know several of the Christian youth also (One girl just left on Thursday for a 2-month mission trip, herself! She's in Brazil, if you can also pray for her).

But I've also built some great relationships with people that do not attend the church! One woman has quickly become a dear friend of mine. We met in an English lesson that I visited, and immediately hit it off. Her English is excellent, and she enjoys the opportunity to practice the language. In addition, she has been giving me free Czech lessons and helping me grasp some of the grammar and usage of this difficult language. She has been surprisingly open with me about spiritual things, and while she does not claim to be a Christian, she hungers strongly after God and has a relationship with Jesus Christ. Her husband and family, however, are interested in “spiritual” things, but are not as close to Christianity. I am praying for the opportunity to invite her to church with me.

Part of our outreach this past week was speaking in public schools, inviting high school students to the English camp we are hosting in August. We have had immense success, with five students having signed up already (last year there were just 2 from the schools), and several of them have added me on facebook as well. I spent yesterday morning with a young girl from one school.

Prayer guides:
  • Pray for the upcoming English camps—I have about two weeks until our first one, and from that point on I will become very busy... that the students will come, and that they will be open to both building relationships and hearing the Gospel.
  • Pray that I will stay plugged-in to God. All of this may sound like fun and games, but it is spiritually and emotionally draining. There is spiritual warfare going on around me, and I need to stay on top of my game, and continually filled, as I pour out love and hope to those around me. I can't pour out if I'm empty!
  • Pray for the other Americans from Mosaic Church that will join me here in August—my parents and baby sister, Deb, Christy, and Emily. Pray that they will be sufficiently prepared, their spirits will be lifted and filled, and that the fundraising will be provided for.
  • Pray for the Czech church here—that I can encourage them, and that they will continue to have boldness to share the Gospel with their friends and family members. Also that any spiritual warfare will stay away from their doors, so that any people that enter will see the truth and love of Jesus.

It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.” (Psalm 44:3)

A Bee's-Eye View

The scariest moment of my trip—of my life—up until now is when I spent the evening in a Czech Emergency Room. And it is all thanks to one little bee. 

The youth group spent Friday afternoon hiking up “Holy Hill” outside of Olomouc, and as much fun as I was having, I needed to leave early. With a friend's wedding in Vysoke Myto on on Saturday morning, I needed to catch Friday evening's train. To get me there, one of the Czech youth leaders, Jarek, was going to drive me back down the hill/mountain to grab my bag and get me to the train station. However, at the last minute, the leaders decided to have Ivan drive me (the reason is still unknown to me, because they made that decision while speaking Czech).

Visiting as we drove into town, Ivan and I were about two minutes away from Dorkas (the Bible school where I'm staying) when a bee flew in the car window and stung me on the shoulder. I was obviously in pain, but since 12 years had passed since my last sting, I didn't think much about it.

Arriving at Dorkas, and I ran to grab my backpack. Upon reaching the 4th floor, my face and ears began to feel funny. Attributing the sensations to heat and exertion, I grabbed my pack and ran back down. Nearing the car, I noticed that my lips were going numb. Telling Ivan of the situation, we decided to call Mike Young (he missionary taking care of me, who lives about one hour away) Mike asked Ivan if he could drive me to the hospital, so we jumped back into the car and took off.

Roughly three minutes later, my lower back began to itch. Reaching back to scratch it, I felt bumps along my skin. Asking Ivan to check, he told me that he saw “bubbles” (hives). By the time we arrived at the hospital, hives had broken out over my entire body—back, chest, legs, arms, neck... even in my hair. In addition, my face had become significantly swollen. Rushing into the emergency room, Ivan began to speak to the nurse in Czech. Her first concern was about my breathing, and I answered that it was fine... for the moment. She then began the neccessary paperwork, and I presented my passport. Luckily, I had stuck it in my purse on a whim earlier that day.

Within a minute or so, breathing began to grow more difficult. Panic setting in, I told Ivan of the new development, and he in turn translated the message to the nurse. Standing up, she tossed my passport onto the desk and rushed me back into the doctor's room. He began to ask me the usual questions through Ivan's translation, “Are you allergic to anything else... are you taking any other medications... are you allergic to any medications...” A we spoke, the nurse pepared my arm for the injection, which eased my breathing within moments. Once my breathing was back to normal, they set me up with an IV to treat the swelling and hives.

A while later, as I lied in my hospital bed, IV dripping into my arm, Ivan prayed over me, thanking God for His protection. When he finished, I turned to him and said, “You know... I can see that God was with me. He really was protecting me.”

The events of this attack may have been frightening, but even lying on a gurney, I could look back and see how God kept me safe. From the time the bee stung me until I began to have difficulty breathing was about 25-30 minutes. What are the blessings that kept me safe?

  1. Ivan would drove me--his English is impeccable, and a a result, we didn't have any translation issues. Had the original driver, Jarek, been my escort, communication with the Doctors would have been much more difficult.
  2. We had a car--this was one of the mere handful of times during my trip that we've had a car readily available. Most of the transportation here is by foot or public trams/buses. If I'd had to wait for a tram, or for someone else to come pick me up, the extra time could've been lethal.
  3. We were already in town--instead of having been stung on top of Holy Hill (I did see several bees up there throughout the day), I was stung within city limits, extremely close to the hospital.

I praise God, because I know that He is with me. And He's stronger than anything I face.
The view halfway up "Holy Hill"

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." (Psalm 5:11)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Settling In

Hello, everybody!

I have been in town since Friday afternoon, and I thought it would be time for an in-country update!
(I am 7 hours ahead of AR, by the way)

I am so in love with the Czech Republic... it is wonderful to be back! I am currently renting a room from the dorms of a "Bible School" here in town. While there are still a few students also living here, they are finishing up their semester and will be moving out later this week. The location of this building is wonderful: right behind me is a beautiful park, and in front of the building is a quiet, peaceful courtyard. I feel like I live in a quiet part of town, but it is only a two minute walk to Dolní náměstí ("lower square") and two minutes farther is Horní náměstí ("upper square"--also the main square).

I just got my public transportation pass yesterday, but I have been walking a lot since I have been here. All of the walking on cobblestones has been a little rough on my ankle (I injured it last summer), but I think it is growing stronger. In addition, I think that the extra foot-transportation has caused me to lose a little weight... in spite of the fact that my diet largely consists of rohlík (bread/rolls), smažený sýr (fried cheese), brambory (potatoes), and kofola ("Coke"-like drink)!

I've also been feeling really tired. Yesterday I took a one-hour nap then slept for 10 hours straight. This might partially be from jet lag, but the missionaries here were telling me that learning a new language can really wear you out. Most of the Czech words I previously knew have come back quickly, and I am trying to learn new words and phrases as much as possible. However, much of the time I don't get translations while the Czech people are having conversations. While listening, I am constantly trying to figure out what they are saying--while I do catch a few words here and there, my brain gets tuckered out from trying to translate all of the time.

On a much lighter note: God is so faithful! It has been such a blessing to be with the church here, and they really are taking care of me. I have been spending quite a bit of time with the pastor and one of the youth leaders. I have also had a great opportunity to reconnect with many of the youth I met last summer, and have plans to visit with a couple of them throughout this next week.

Prayers guides:

  • Pray that the students will be open to building a deeper relationship with me (both the Christians and non-Christians). My desire is to really invest in the youth here.
  • Pray that my time will be spent wisely--I have quite a bit of free time in my schedule, which leaves me open to hang-out time possibilities. I want to really make sure that I'm not wasting this time away.
  • Pray for my relationships with the Czech church, that the spirit of God that unites us will also provide us unity as His church. I also want to avoid doing things that are culturally offensive.

Thank-you so much for your prayers and encouraging emails! I am thankful for all of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I've got you.

The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
-Exodus 33:14

A few nights ago, as I was spending some time in prayer with my parents and friends, I felt a wave of anxiousness over me. Distraction, doubts, and fears have been plaguing me for weeks now, and as we prayed I felt them return. In that moment, I turned my heart to Jesus, and he pulled me into a tight hug. As He drew me near to his heart, He whispered, "I've got you."

I wrote that on the outside of my journal yesterday, and the thought of that is all that has gotten me through the past day.
Arriving at the Little Rock Airport around 5am, I had smooth sailing checking in and going through security. However, once we'd boarded our 7am flight, we were told that there is a problem with the generator on one of our engines, and we would have to deplane so they could repair it.

Multiple flight changes, a few tears, some interesting new acquaintances, and 12 hours later... we board a new flight to Atlanta. However, once reaching the Atlanta airspace, we discover that there is unexpected bad weather in Atlanta. We circle around and around until we get too low on gas to continue to wait it out. The plane turns back to Nashville and refuels, by which time I missed my newly-arranged connections in Atlanta.

Landing in the Atlanta airport around 10:30pm, I then waited in line to get a new flight set up, waited in line for over an hour to get a shuttle, then waited in line at the hotel only to find out that they'd run out of rooms. By 2:30am, they had the opportunity to clean a "smoking" room for me and I was able to get a place to crash.

22 hours later, I have so far made it to Atlanta. I've got 20 hours of travel left to go.

Throughout the day, a lot of thoughts have been flitting about in my mind. Is this spiritual warfare, maybe? Or is God intervening? Maybe He's protecting me from something... or there's something better in store now. Or maybe this is just the accumulation of all my no-problem travels.

But as I prayed, watery-eyed and frustrated in the Little Rock terminal (and--not gonna lie--in the Atlanta terminal and hotel lobby), God reminded me of this truth: He's got me.

It doesn't matter what happens to me on this flight, because no matter what reason--whether His goodness or His intervention--He's still got me. He knew all of this was coming, even though it wasn't how I was expecting my day to go.

So there you have it! So begins the great adventure.

Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does nto go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"

And the Lord said to Moses, "I will do this very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."

Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."

-Exodus 33:15-18

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My heart. My passion.

What am I passionate about?

I am passionate about Jesus Christ. I am passionate about sharing His love, and I am passionate about knowing Him better. I am passionate about letting this passion consume me--to have "Leslie" burned away and Jesus built within mee. I am passionate about falling more and more in love with the God that gave me hope, the God that gave me beauty. The God that took the wreck of my life and said, "I can do something with this."

What am I passionate about?

I am passionate about people. I love people! I love to be around people and love on people. I like to make them smile and laugh, to help people trust, to lift up other people and help them to feel loved. I am passionate about spending time with people--any time is a good time.

What am I passionate about?

I am passionate about mentorship. I am passionate about living heart-to-heart with young girls and pouring all of my love into them. I am passionate about helping girls grow deeper with their Creator, to actually know Him and not just about Him. I am passionate on being transparent with these girls--putting my bumps and bruises, broken hearts and bad history in front of them... so they can heal. So they can learn from my screw-ups.

What am I passionate about?

I am passionate about lifting others up. I can find good in almost everyone, and I want them to see it in themselves, too. I want to be a chearleader in life--to celebrate with others in their accomplishments, to encourage them when they're down. I am passionate about using my words to lift up the people around me.

What am I passionate about?

I am passionate about passion. I am passionate about pushing my own boundaries, 'cause I get way too comfortable. I am passionate about being full of life and loving what I do. I am passionate about not just watching my life slide through my fingertips.

What am I passionate about?

"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystory of God, namely, Christ" (Colossians 2:2)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Little Things

I remember the first time I saw the skirt. Window-shopping, I spot an ankle-length, pure-white hippie skirt across the aisle and my breath stops. It's just so beautiful! Maybe I could sacrifice ten or fifteen bucks... oh my goodness, it's thirty dollars?

There's just no way I can spare that kind of money--especially on something that I don't technically need. With my mission trip coming up in two months, I needed to be saving every penny. After all, if I'm asking other people to sacrifice their own finances for this trip, I should be doing the same thing.

...but man, I want that skirt so bad.

Determined to find a better price, I go home and search the internet for "ankle-length white skirts," "hippie skirts," and even "artsy white skirts." Yet every option was the same price or more! Since when did skirts become so dang expensive?

Two weeks passed, and I couldn't get this silly skirt off my mind.

That's how I found myself back at the department store again, holding up the skirt in my hands like a dainty silver necklace. "Please, God, provide this for me if I'm supposed to have it. If I'm not, just make me okay with that. After all, it's just a skirt." I whisper this prayer softly as I gently put the skirt back on its rack. I run my fingertips down the white material and slowly turn away. I don't know if or how You plan on providing this... maybe a gift card or something?

I kept this little secret in my heart. Somehow, I just knew it wasn't time to tell anyone yet.

Plus, I didn't want to look silly because I prayed over a skirt.

Later that night, I spent hours writing out support letters to send to friends and family members. Suddenly, my mother enters the room and puts a long, flowing, white hippie skirt in my lap--then proceeds to walk away like it was no big deal!

Freaking out, I jump up and ask her where she bought it. "Actually, I bought it two years ago, but accidentally got it in the wrong size! I just found it in a box of old summer things and realized it would fit you. Do you like it?"

Even in something so small, I know that God provided this gift for me. There's no other way to explain how my mom bought a skirt two years in advance would just so happen to fit me... and she found it mere hours after I prayed over the skirt.

"Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!" (Luke 12:17-18)

Oh, and did I mention that it's even cuter than the one in the store??

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Czech Republic 2012

Dobrý den! I am excited to share the news about what God is doing in my life this summer:

I will be in the Czech Republic on an extended 60-day mission trip from mid-June until August. While there, I will be teaching English in both one-on-one English lessons for women and youth camps. While teaching, my goal is to build relationships with the Czech people and share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. The Czech Republic is the most atheistic country in the world, but we have seen significant openness in the hearts of the Czech teens...of which I will be getting to know!

I'm asking for you to support me spiritually through prayer and encouragement. I recognize that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood...but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). For this trip to be successful, I need all of the prayer support that I can get!

Prayer List:

  • That God will prepare me spiritually and emotionally in the time leading up to this trip
  • That the hearts of the Czech people will be open to the gospel
  • Against spiritual warfare that will seek to discourage me
  • For travel safety and physical health
  • That God will provide encouragement and friendship for me while I am there
  • That others will feel a calling to the Czech people -- the harvest is many, but the workers are few (Luke 10:2)


Financial need: $0 -- how can this be??

God has completely provided the finances I need to go on my trip this summer! Yes: $3,200!! Largely through one generous donor, I am now fully funded... two months in advance!

If anyone still feels inclined to send some financial support, there are five other people from my church (including both of my parents) that will be joining me for two weeks in August. They each need to raise about $1,900 throughout the next few months. Any funds sent to me from now on (because God has already provided everything I need!), I will be putting towards the rest of my team as they also follow God into the Czech Republic this summer.

Interested in supporting the team financially?

For a tax write-off, make all checks payable to Mosaic Church, and send them to:

Leslie Goyer
14524 Cantrell Rd Suite 140
Little Rock, AR 72223


If you would like to contact me or receive updates, email me at:

Me with several of the Czech friends I made during last summer's trip

No Junk

Romantic relationships have always been the most difficult part of my life for me to surrender to God. When I pray for my future husband, I often can feel the war waging inside of me which I can't reconcile. There's the good side: the side that wants to trust God with His plans for my life. Then there's the bad side, the “Leslie” side: the part of me that wants to make things happen in my own time, with the guy I happen to be interested in, in the way that I want things to happen.

 I spent this past weekend with seventy middle and high school students at a youth retreat. (This is relevant, I promise.) Our first night, Jeff Kinley (the guest speaker) spent some time talking about Adam and Eve and how they were the basis for our sin nature. As he was talking about this first couple, he made a joke that Adam must've named Eve “woman” because all he could say when he first saw her was “Whoa... man! Whoa-man! Wo-man!!”

All the youth laughing at this point, he went on to say, “You know, Adam and Eve were the perfect people—God don't make no junk! And it will be the same for all of you when you get married: God don't make no junk.”

For some reason, that comment stuck in my head throughout the entire weekend—and has been on my mind ever since. As I mentioned before, I struggle with trusting God in the area of guys. Not that there has really been any significant others lately... which is precisely the problem! With college graduation nearing, I've been wondering what I will do once school is through—and marriage, of course, is vying for a place at the top of my attention-list.
Yet, the more I focus on trying to find a husband the more frustrated I get. Either the guy isn't interested in me, or there aren't any available men that care even remotely about Jesus... I just can't get things to work out, you know?

There was a second thing Jeff mentioned during this weekend that touched my heart. When he became a Christian, he feared that God would look at his life say, “Alright, let's take the ten things you love most in life and throw those out the window. Now let's take the ten things you don't want to do and make you do those every day.”

His point was this: God's not like that.

If I trust God to take care of my relationship status, I don't think that the Creator and God of the Universe—who loves me enough to die for me—would stick me with a boring, unattractive, unromantic, chauvinistic, lazy man. God don't make no junk. By trusting in Him, I'm trusting that He will fulfill my heart.

“What romance, beauty, and glory we forgo when we try to script the story ourselves. God has not called us to build our lives around the pursuit of our own selfish desires, but to be poured-out sacrifices for His kingdom” (Leslie Ludy, Sacred Singleness). During the rest of my time as a single woman—whether another year or two or twenty—I want to pour out my life for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

He's the best man I know, after all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Other Side of "Mom"

It is a sunny February day, and I walk into our family dining room. My mother is sitting at her usual seat, plunking away at her laptop while my nearly two year old sister, Alyssa, sits at the other end of the table picking at her mac 'n cheese. Mom looks up at me, “I'm ready for my interview! But you'll have to do it while I tidy up the living room.” She gets up, wearing her usual sweat pants and t-shirt, with her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. It still surprises me sometimes that my mother is not simply “mom.” She is also Tricia Goyer (a.k.a award-winning author).

I settle into the couch, pen and paper in hand. “Okay, I'm ready. First question—”

“Oh Leslie,” my mom says, “get your laptop. You know you'll be able to take notes faster with it.” I chuckle and run up to my room, quickly returning with my small laptop in tow.

“First question, mom: how did you first get interested in writing?”

“I have tons of blogs written about this that I could just send you to! But I'll tell you, myself.” She picks up a few of Alyssa's books from the floor and stacks them in a wicker basket. “I grew up loving to read, but I never really thought about becoming a writer. When I was young, oh, probably 21 or so,” she pauses and tilts her head while she thinks (a tendency that she passed down to me), “Yes, 21 is right! Because I was still pregnant with you. Anyways, I was serving in church with your Aunt Cindy, and she was telling me about a novel she was wanting to write. When I heard her talking about it, I started thinking about it too! It would be a great project since I was already a stay-at-home mom... Hold on one second.” She steps out of the room to put a few things in the kitchen.

I finish writing a few notes then she returns.

“So what did you do then? Did you immediately start working on a novel, too?”

“Well, kind of. I borrowed books on writing from the library and went to a few writer's conferences with Cindy. We went to one secular conference, and they were talking about building connections with publishers: taking them out for drinks, having a bikini hot tub time... we were like, no way!” She laughs, because we both understand how uncharacteristic it would be for her to go hot tubbing with business partners. “After that, we looked into Christian writer's conferences and found Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. They had just finished their conference and the next one was a year away, so we started saving up so that we could go.”

Alyssa finished her mac 'n cheese, so mom wiped down her hands and face before turning back to me. “We went to Mount Hermon in 1994, and I talked to several editors about submitting articles. I got my first one published! It was for Life & Light magazine, and the title was Greatest Commandment, Part II. It was about how we focus so much on loving God, but we need to also remember to love others.”

I nod in agreement. “That's so true!”

She turns back to look at me, “I was very excited about it. But I didn't get another thing published for two and a half more years.”

Surprised, I look up at her from my notes, “Two and a half more years? What did you do?”

“I wrote a lot of articles, but none of them ever got published. I kept trying to write for what I thought the publisher wanted, but then they would change their mind.”

I find myself intrigued—I never realized how much of a struggle it was for my mom to get started. “What was the turning point for you?”

“In a writing conference I went to that year, I took a class that was focused just on writing articles. I learned a lot from that class, and in the next year I had thirty articles published! I tried venturing into novels after that, but again I struggled with getting published.”
“My biggest step came a little while later when I went to Europe with my friends and learned about the 11th Armored Division in World War II. I pitched a novel idea to my agent, and she said it was such a good idea! I think the reason none of my previous novel ideas worked is because God did not want me to get success in other areas. He had other plans for me.”

“Wow, that's so awesome! Now you are an accomplished author.” I remind myself that's she's had over thirty books published now. “What is the hardest part of your work?”

Mom takes a break from putting away the cluttered toys and thinks for a moment. “Not having enough time. I could just write 60 hours a week and keep myself completely busy. The publishers are coming to me now with book ideas, and I'm constantly having to turn down different book projects—including books for movies.” She sighs and tosses a pillow onto the couch. “That's actually the number one thing I get asked to speak about: how to balance kids and working at home. But what I've learned is that family is important. When you take care of your family, God helps you with your writing.”

I think about all of the time that my mother put into raising me and my siblings, homeschooling all of us as an extra weight. She continues, “One time—about eight or so years ago—I was working on an intense book deadline that was due in just two days. And grandma had to go to Wal*Mart. I took her, and at the end of our trip, I sat at the end of the aisle waiting for her. Getting madder and madder. In that moment, as my frustration grew, I felt God speak to my heart that taking care of my family is just as important as my deadlines. So now I try not to get so stressed, and if a book doesn't get done in time, I will just ask for a few days more. The most I've asked an extension for is about two weeks.”

“In spite of the stress, what is your favorite part about writing?”

The corners of her mouth perk up into a gentle smile. “I love working on the characters, their problems, researching the stories. When working on a book, I often don't know how things are going to work out, but things come together.” I see a warm contentedness settle over her. “And of course the reader feedback. One time, I got an email from a young girl in Switzerland who read one of my books. She told me that when my character became a Christian, she did too.”

It was an eye-opening experience to interview my mom on her career work. Growing up, all I've ever known was her as a writer. However, in interviewing her I discovered the hard work and struggle that went into her success. I often look at her and see a stay-at-home mom that does the laundry, cares for the baby, and makes dinner. She's more than just a mom. She's also a professional author that has seen great success in her career.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Culture Shock

 “As you experience this new culture, you are going to encounter many differences. Remember that things may not be necessarily wrong or right—just different.”

I was sixteen years old when I heard these words of wisdom. Although it took me a long time to really believe them, these words have since changed my life forever. My junior year of high school, my family took in Andrea—a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic. Since she was only six months older than me, we became immediate friends. No, wait. Somehow, more than friends. Andy is more to me than just an “exchange student.” Andy is my sister. Aside from lacking a blood relation, Andy has become my sister in every sense of the word.

When she arrived that fall, I did not live out the advice given to me. For months, little irritations built up inside of me and compounded frustration. Natively from Eastern Europe, Andy did things in a way that was just... wrong! She wouldn't use the sheets on her bed, she made salads without any lettuce, and she would wear the same outfit two days in the row... ridiculous, I know! Irritation itched at my patience, and I just couldn't understand why she didn't do things my way—the “right way.” I would run to make the dinner salad so I could fill the bowl with lettuce before she got there. Maybe now she'll learn!

I did eventually learn patience throughout that year, but the biggest lesson was yet to come. After she returned to her home country, I found myself deeply missing her—differences and all. I went to visit her in Prague, and I lived with her family. Finally, I understood. Immersing myself into her culture revealed the truth: not wrong, just different. I have since been to the Czech Republic four times, and I can't wait to go back again. I've learned to enjoy the freshness of different traditions and lifestyles, and it's opened my eyes to the truth that the “American” way does not always equal the “right” way.

I believe that every person should step out of their own culture and deeply experience another one. Like St. Augustine said, “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

*A short story written for my nonfiction class--described as a "statement of belief" from a specific example in my life. The format is similar to that from http://www.thisibelieve.com/

Monday, January 23, 2012

Letting God Determine My Steps

"God, show me some of your plan... just a glimpse... I know I need to follow You in faith, but I really just need to know what Your plan is for me..."

As I've sought after Him, God has been guiding my decisions. I beg and plead for Him to give me just a brief glimpse of what He has planned for me. When He leads me down certain paths, I grow excited in anticipation of the plan that I think He is revealing to me--the confusing part is when that plan doesn't follow my expectations.

Changes in career, missions, relationships, ministries... I diligently pour my heart out in prayer, abandoning my own desires to pray like Moses did: "if your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here" (Exodus 33:15). In the depths of my heart, I desire to follow God's will for me regardless of what I think is best.

As I abandon my own desires, I begin to see His blessing--encouragement to either seek an opportunity or walk away from it. I follow Him when He answers "Yes!" ... yet I've had a few situations lately when those "Yes" situations crumble, or He leads me in a new direction after just a short time. Questions and doubts seep into in my mind:

Did I not hear Him correctly?
     Was I just listening to my own stubborn desires?
          Am I being punished for something?
     Is God trying to test my faith?
Did I mess up what I was supposed to do along the way?

I prayed through these questions, but none of them seem to be the answer. I know I was listening to Him. I know I was surrendering my own desires. I know that--as flawed as I am--I was earnestly seeking Him as I continued down that path. However, I still felt like God was going back on what He told me. After all, I know I was listening to him. Why would he tell me to take one path then abruptly change His mind? I've grown emotionally dizzy from the direction changing. He leads me down one path then another, and another, and another...

I'm realizing that God sees more than I see.

When God is speaking to me, I hear His voice and start sprinting. He tells me to take the right turn, and I mistakenly assume that I know exactly where the road is headed. But what I'm learning is that He is guiding me step-by-step:

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps
Proverbs 16:9

As God determines my steps, I start planning my course and assuming that I know what is in store for my life. But looking back over this last year and seeing what He's done in my life, His hand is moving. Through the various turns He has directed me to take, I have ended up where I am right now. Each turn didn't point me in the direction that I would pursue indefinitely, but existed as merely the next step in the direction He wants me to go.

It's like navigating around a city: when traveling across town, if you take a left on 12th street, you probably won't be following 12th street for the rest of your journey. Taking 12th street will lead you to 1st Avenue, where you'll take a right onto Main and follow it until you reach Reserve....

When God gives me directions for my life, it's not necessarily the entire plan mapped out for me. I've changed my major several times, considered different careers, pursued different relationships, been involved in several ministries... but overall, I have no clue what God has in store for me in the long run. As much as I want to plan my own course, I know that He will be determining my steps. And I know that He will get me where He wants me to be -- one step at a time.