Category Archives: Journey Church

Friday Facts

  • I’m 27 weeks pregnant today.  Little Man Leino has become quite a busy-body.  He is definitely strong, kicking and moving his arms with far more force than my other two kiddos at this stage.  At times it feels like he’s doing somersaults or boxing.  I can’t wait to meet this feisty little guy in June!
  • The warmer weather has allowed Eliana to spend much more time outside and she has loved it!  She wants to be outdoors every chance she gets.  Often her first word in the morning is “outside?”  Such a happy little girl.  Whether she’s flying kites with Daddy, helping Maima in her garden or coloring on the porch in a hula skirt, Eliana has a blast anytime she’s in the sun.

  • Leino Studios had a fabulous first week in its new location.  We are so thankful for the new space God provided for Jordan’s business.  Though we are still putting some final decorating touches on the space, Jordan has already enjoyed the benefits of having much more space for all his musical and business needs.  A step forward in every way, we’re excited to see all that is in store for the Studio in this next season.
  • Our little girl loves to sing!  Any time music is playing, she’s singing and dancing along.  Maima has been teaching Eliana the words and motions for “Itsy, Bitsy Spider”.  It amazes me to watch her pick up phrases and hand motions so quickly.  I found her trying to get one of her baby dolls to do the motions this past week.  Precious!
  • Journey just finished a series on Love.  Boy, has it impacted me!  Over four weeks, our church took an in-depth look into what Scripture says about Love: God’s love, our love for Him, our love for others and our love for ourselves.  I’ve found myself reading through my notes over and again, wanting to listen to the sermons more than once as they have really challenged me to grow and convicted me in areas I certainly need it.  I highly encourage everyone to take the time to listen to the messages.  Since Jesus said that the world will know His disciples by our love, its an area we all could grow in.
  • Well the sunshine and an energetic little lady are calling me outside.  Be sure to check back here on Monday as I’ll be sharing the most amazing carrot cupcake recipe I have ever tasted!  Seriously….BEST EVER!  Happy weekend, everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Eliana, Evan, Family, Fun, Jordan, Journey Church, Leino Studios, Patience, Photography, Random, Weather

I Belong

The season of love is upon us.  Valentine’s Day is a mere four days away and everywhere you look, hearts and chocolates and the color red abound.  Personally, I find the holiday quite strange.  If you love someone, do you really need an “official” day to show them?  Do you need the calendar to mandate that you make that affection tangible in some special way for the day?  Just my personal opinion. Though I always enjoy a good chocolate. 🙂

That said, Jordan has been amazing on this day for as long as I’ve known him.  From grand occasions to celebrating in sweet, simple ways, he has a knack for romance.  I am truly blessed and continually grateful for him.  Whether its February 14th or some obscure day anytime year round, he never ceases to show me love and value as his wife.  It is a gift I never knew possible and one I do not take for granted.  I am most fortunate to be Jordan Leino’s soulmate.

Beyond the holiday festivities, the subject of love has been in the forefront of my mind of late.  Wrapping my brain around God’s love, applying it to my life (not just knowing about it), and learning more how to live out His love in my own life.  He has taught me much but heaven knows, I still have a long way to go.  This past Sunday, Pastor Jimmy began a 4-week series on Love at Journey Church.  His sermon focused solely on God’s love for us.  It was saturated with Truth – that God is love, He pursued us before we even knew we needed pursuing, and NOTHING can separate us from His love.  Nothing!  He closed with a passage from Romans that has been a rock for me through the ups and downs of my life: Romans 8.38-39

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This passage continues to amaze and challenge me.  Is it even possible to wrap one’s mind around the vast expanse of this love?  Regardless of my circumstances, do I remain convinced His love remains unlimited and unchanging?  Blows my mind.  A simple song by Kathryn Scott captures these verses so beautifully: I Belong.  It has been playing in my mind all week.  I find myself waking to its melody and humming its lyrics as I go about my day.   It reminds me of the truth in Romans 8 – that nothing can take me from God’s great love.  Click the link below to hear I Belong.  This song has blessed my heart; perhaps it will do the same for you today.

I Belong by Kathryn Scott

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, God, Journey Church, Patience, Resources, Thoughts, Worship

A Beautiful Mess

I’ve been a mess the past few days.  A pregnant, emotional, occasionally ugly-crying mess.  In a matter of milliseconds, I’ve gone from laughing hysterically to bawling my eyes out and back.  Wrestling with vastly different emotions on behalf of dear friends: miscarriages, pregnancies in peril, healthy babies born, cancer diagnoses, relationships restored, jobs lost and found.  Add in a healthy dose of pregnancy hormones and you’re left with one whopping mess* of tears and chocolate cravings.  (*insert prayer for my dear husband here)

Then Thursday night came.  The whole drive to pick up Jordan from teaching had me, once again, in tears.  Being the genius that I am, I decided to play a Kathryn Scott song that has me weepy on a sanguine day.  Eliana must have been wondering, “what the heck is wrong with my mother?!”  She simply laughed and sang her heart away all the while.  Our trek from Jordan’s office to Journey for worship band rehearsal had thankfully less tears with precious encouragement coming from my wonderful husband (also probably wondering “what the heck is wrong with my wife?!”)

As the band set up and prepped for rehearsal, I saw a dear friend of mine.  Within moments, we both were sharing tears and our struggles from the week.  Though we live quite a distance apart, we both had been experiencing similar emotions and wrestling with similar heartaches from our own experiences and on behalf of mutual friends.  We cried, we expressed our own confusion in ourselves and not having the answers to the questions that perplexed us.  We laughed at our hysteria and how grateful we are for husbands who love us in spite of us.

Then we were able to pray together.  What a gift it was to pray together to the God who hears, even while not having all the answers ourselves.  I’m so grateful for friendships that bear burdens, rejoice together and regardless of current circumstances, go with you before the Throne.  God worked through those few moments together with this wonderful woman to bring peace amidst my madness and to encourage my hormonal heart.

The rest of rehearsal was a beautiful time for me, relishing in the truth of the lyrics we sang and surrounded by incredible music played by people who genuinely love their Savior.  By evening’s end, I left encouraged and at peace.  Granted, I still feel the weight of concern for friends facing trying times.  But God had worked through my steadfast husband, a dear friend, and the songs we rehearsed as a soothing balm on my emotional, weary heart.  Will I cry again tomorrow?  Probably.  After all, I am still quite pregnant.  But I’ll be able to laugh at myself in the midst of the raging emotions and confusing times, knowing that ultimately God still holds my whole world in His hands and that I am not alone.  Thank you, Lord, for all the ways you work in my life.  Even in my weakest moment, Your strength shines all the more.

1 Comment

Filed under Friends, God, Journey Church, Patience, Struggles, Thoughts

Above The Mountains, Beyond The Deep

Yesterday was one of the most humbling, intimate times of corporate church worship that I’ve ever experienced.  From the first down beat to the final lyric, Sunday’s services at Journey Church were saturated with God’s presence as He alone was exalted in word and song. Pastor Jimmy brought a timeless, powerful message on God’s vision for our lives.  Simply put – His vision for us is that we would become like Jesus!

During the time of response in worship, we sang a new song: You Are Good by Gateway Worship.  Its been around for a little while but this was first time our church sang it together as one.  A simple song, it declares God’s goodness above and beyond everything.  In preparing for the song, God directed me to a beautiful passage in Psalms that vividly describes the magnitude of His love and faithfulness.

Psalm 36.5-9:

5Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
6Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
7How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
8They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
9For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

His love exceeds the heavens.  His righteousness is strong as mighty mountains.  His judgments stretch beyond the deep.  How wonderful You are, o God!  No matter my circumstance, Your strength is ever-ready, always prevailing.  You are so good.  Your mercy is forever!

3 Comments

Filed under Journey Church, Thoughts, Worship

Boast In This

Last weekend, Journey Church began the New Year with a unique worship service: Set Apart: From All Else To God For His Glory.  The service was stripped down and simple. Pastor Jimmy Carroll gave a Scripture-packed message on what it means to consecrate ourselves as a church and as individuals to the Lord.  He taught through the four elements of prayer: Praise, Repent, Ask and Yield (Surrender wholly to God).  Throughout the morning, the five-member acoustic team of Josh and Tasha Via, Lisa Masteller, Kody Masteller and Chris Gladden, led in worship both sincere and reflective.  What a morning!

Of all the passages Jimmy read that morning, one has stuck fast with me.  It really hit home the moment I first heard it and continues to challenge me every time I’ve read it since.

Jeremiah 9.23-24  “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”

Boast not in who you are nor what you do nor whatever you have.  Boast in the Lord!  Boast in knowing Him who is kind, just and righteous.  How many times have I so easily slipped in finding confidence and security in my mere earthly situation – all of which is only mine by the grace and generosity of God!  The Lord delights in showing kindness.  He is the embodiment of justice.  He alone is fully righteous. Lord, I’m sorry for all the million times I have rested and bragged in myself.  All I have and anything of merit found within me is only from You and You alone.  May my boast ever and always be in You.

“…let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the LORD…”

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, God, Journey Church, Thoughts, Worship

Christmas Chaos

All month long, I’ve been pondering what this Christmas would be like.  We’d begin our own family traditions this year with Eliana, opening presents together Christmas morning while eating a delicious Christmas breakfast.  Family would come over for a scrumptious lunch and to relax together.  All gifts would be purchased and wrapped by the week before “The Big Day” to allow plenty of time for cooking, cleaning, sending cards and making gifts for neighbors and friends.  Everything thought through and prepared, it would be the first of many Leino family Christmases.

This week has not gone as planned.

Sunday began with NO Christmas gifts purchased yet.  (well, I take that back.  Jordan had bought a gift for me, but as far as my gift-getting responsibilities – nada)  Church was AMAZING!  Our pastor, Jimmy Carroll, preached a strong sermon focused solely on celebrating and exalting Jesus.  Seriously, its worth your time to watch it.

Sunday also brought the beginning of a nasty stomach bug that slowly overtook our entire family.  Poor Eliana got the bug first, followed by myself and finally taking out Jordan.  It even took out my mom and brother who live nearby.  From Sunday through Wednesday night, the Leino family was down for the count. Jordan was a CHAMP and did a bulk of the shopping before the bug sent him to bed (and as you know from earlier, this hardly EVER happens).  By Thursday morning, we were all well enough to venture out to finish the shopping, raid the grocery store and recover the apartment from its former invalid-ridden state.  Well, we hoped to do so anyway.  As of 8 o’clock tonight, the presents have all been bought and wrapped.  That’s it.  No grocery shopping done.  No prep-cooking completed.  The apartment is….better but not great.  Christmas cards will have to wait for 2011.  And I haven’t even begun to prep for our trip to the mountains on Monday.  Last week’s Corolla debacle has reduced us back to one vehicle so I’m home with my precious little girl while Jordan practices w/the Journey worship team for tomorrow’s Christmas Eve services.  In short, this week has felt more like chaos than Christmas.  Tonight has found me frazzled, overwhelmed by lack of checks on my to-do list.

Getting tired of my pity-party yet?  God certainly was.  As the evening has wound down, I’ve sensed Him wanting to bring comfort and ease into the midst of my self-imposed madness.  My heart began to still as I felt His reminder, “This season is not about your to-do list, your boeuf bourguignon, your perfectly clean apartment, your ducks standing all in a row.  Rest in knowing it’s not about all you have to do.  It’s about all I’ve already done!  Perhaps I allowed sickness to hit your family for a few days to make you slow down and simplify.  Whatever doesn’t get “done” won’t matter in the end.  What matters is Jesus came for YOU.  He died for YOU.  He rose from the grave, victorious over sin and death for YOU.  Relish in that.  Rest in that.  Remove your chaos from what Christmas is really all about: love, sacrifice, humility, My pursuit of humanity’s heart, and above all – Jesus.”

So here I sit, peace now replacing my previous frenetic state.  Lord, thank You for your continued patience with me and Your gentle calls back to Your heart.  Yes, I’ll do what I can to finish preparations for this weekend, but the task won’t drive me as it was before.  Its humbling to be this age and still finding myself in need of such a reminder.  But oh, how grateful I am He never tires in giving it.

May you be surrounded by the peace that I so desperately needed…and God so graciously gave.  May you rest in the true heart of Christmas rather than be caught up in the tempting chaos we so easily create around it.  Above all, may your heart and mind be filled in knowing Jesus came out of His limitless love for YOU.  Not you as in humanity in general, though that is true.  He laid aside His divine deity to come in human form for you specifically.  For YOU, you.

Merry Almost Christmas, everyone!  Time to get back to cleaning…

4 Comments

Filed under Eliana, Faith, Family, Jordan, Journey Church, Patience, Thoughts

Comfort (Part Two)

All I could do was cry.  Cry for Charlie.  Cry for the Baers.  Cry for every person on this planet who has lost someone.  It was quite a sight – some red-headed chick bawling her eyes out in front of a Buffalo Wild Wings.  “Why, Lord?  Why does there have to be so much hurt?  Why did Charlie leave so soon?  You could have healed him.”  Quickly the sorrow turned to anger.  It was surreal in some ways, like experiencing the full span of the grieving process in a few minutes.  How I ached for my friends.

Within minutes of Josh’s call, I was on the phone with my mom and in the hugging arms of my dear friend, Cathy (she’s practically my big sister…love her to pieces!)  Both these godly women gave me such comfort, reminding me of what I already knew but emotions blocked at the moment.  God is good.  He is always good.  He loves the Baers and my family so much.  He loves little Charlie just as he loves every child He creates.  And because of what we went through with our son, we could now come alongside this family as they begin the grieving journey.  “Comfort others with the comfort you yourself have received.” Once again, amidst the tears and sorrow, I experienced the promised comfort of the Holy Spirit, that “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil.4.7)

As the days have passed, I’ve pondered over and again the homecoming of these two sweet boys and heartache in general.  At its core, it is simply part of the human experience as we are mortal beings living in a fallen world.  Loss is part of life.  While it comes in various forms at varying seasons, loss is loss.  It hurts.  It changes you, whether for the better or for worse.

During our drive back from Myrtle Beach for church on Sunday, my mind was racing with these thoughts, asking God to make further sense of it all for me.  We pulled up to Journey right on time.  The service was AMAZING!  Pastor Jimmy concluded his series on spiritual warfare, Supernatural.  Wow!  The message was so equipping, so saturated in Scripture.  And the worship, well, there are no words.  Through the morning, Jimmy kept referencing passages from 2 Corinthians.  I’d been trying to figure out what to study next in the Word and felt that 2 Corinthians was calling me.  Monday morning came and as I opened my Bible to begin studying that day, I could not help but smile.  Just three verses in, God spoke right to my heart:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor.1.3-4)

God’s love is so beautiful, His timing always perfect.  In that moment, He seemed to make it all so much clearer for me and put to words what He had already been stirring in my heart.  Suffering is a thing of life – a horrible, tragic thing.  But within suffering are hidden treasures to be found.  By God’s grace and power, He has opened my eyes to see the beautiful things that have come from our journey and loss of Isaac.  Had we not walked that road, we would not understand God’s love and peace as we do now.  We would not appreciate Eliana as profoundly as we do each day.  Without Him by our side, we could never imagine such deep and complete healing to be possible.  Yes, we still miss our son terribly.  But our hearts have healed and in remembering that bittersweet season, the sweetness outshines the bitter.  To God be the glory for it!  Had we not spent those 130+ days in the hospital, we would not be able to empathize with other families in that same situation.  I would not even have the opportunity to be part of a Parent Advisory Board at a hospital, let alone make a difference on it.  And had we not been parents of a HLHS baby, the Baers would have gone through the past few months without personally knowing another family who knew exactly what they were going through.  I’ll never forget Josh’s words, “I know we didn’t call much, but just knowing you all were there meant the world to us.”

Suffering is so much more than loss.  It is a beautiful opportunity.  It holds treasures to be found and in Christ, we can discover them.  We serve the Father of compassion, the God of ALL comfort.  He comforted me in all my troubles and because of Him, I now can comfort others in any trouble with the same comfort that I received.  In truth, He has given me a gift.  He has turned my mourning into dancing, taken the ashes of my loss and made them something beautiful.  Does He desire we suffer?  Absolutely not!  But as a wise woman once said, “God is faithful to redeem what He allows.”  What could have been my undoing has become a gift that I can give to others.  It does not take the pain away nor negate the weight of our loss, but it redeems it.  To God be all the glory for the redeeming work He has done.

Please join me in continuing to pray for the Baer family.  The road ahead is long and marked with grief.  It will be hard.  It will sneak up on them at times, as it still does for my family.  But what joy to know that God holds their every moment, captures each of their tears (Psalm 56.8).  And one day, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  He is the God of all comfort, the Father of mercies, Lord over all.  That, my friends, is comfort.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”  (Revelation 21.1-7)

6 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Friends, HLHS, Journey Church, Struggles, Thoughts