Hashi-Smashi – I’m Rocking the Pineapple

36301761_2344156025600300_321252893631971328_nThe fashion experts say we should NEVER wear horizontal stripes but I am rocking my new pineapple shirt and skinny jeans today!  (Still a rebel of sorts, I suppose.)  I’m down 15 pounds since this time last year, and I’m quite proud of that.  I realize that losing approximately 1.25 pounds per month is not all that impressive, but when I look back to where I came from, I am truly amazed.

This time last summer I was stressed to the max, closing on two houses at once, and preparing for a big move by myself.  My husband Ed had already come to Anderson to start his new job, and I was left with packing up the house, supervising showings, inspections, and everything else that comes along with selling a house.  I was also organizing house inspections and appraisals on the new house we were buying in another town at the same time.  Having been recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I had little to no energy, and it was a struggle to drag myself out of bed each day.  I would become so faint that I would nearly pass out just walking to the mailbox.  Yes, I was overweight, but I was also very sick.

We made the move and I continuously scoured the Internet groups for information on how to survive my illness.  I was already missing five major organs (thyroid, uterus, ovaries, appendix and gallbladder), so my hormones were completely out of “whack”, as we say in the South.  I learned that my digestive issues were closely related to, or likely the cause of, my plight.  The more I read about Hashimoto’s, the more depressed I became.  The group members assured me that I would only get worse.  They promised that one auto-immune disease would inevitably lead to another until I was completely bedridden and disabled.  I could eat nothing with any taste ever again.  I would no longer be able to work or to function as a normal human being.  I was descending into a psychological hole much deeper than the one my physical illness had thrown me in to.

I experimented with every diet out there, failing each one.  I jumped on Atkins, Paleo, Auto-Immune Protocol, Anti-Inflammatory, Keto, Low-fodmap, The Blood-Type diet, Vegetarian, etc.  I eliminated “trigger foods” such as dairy, gluten, sugar and soy.  I spent a small fortune on supplements, only to discover that I could not absorb vitamins properly until my tummy healed.  I got very confused as the “experts” began to contradict each other.  One would recommend raw broccoli and cabbage, and another would insist that those foods would deplete my thyroid levels.  One would tout onions and tomatoes as superfoods, and another would warn that those “night-shade” vegetables (along with peppers and potatoes) would cause more inflammation and do more harm than good.  Brown rice is gluten-free, but it is also a carb so I was literally afraid to eat it.  I carried a bottle of digestive enzymes in my purse, popping pills with every meal.  It was a very frustrating roller-coaster ride that often resulted in tears and junk food binges; which in turn would lead to another depressive episode wherein I would throw up my hands and declare to no one in the room, “I can’t do this!”

My sweet husband put up with my mood swings and meltdowns.  He tirelessly endured my snapping “I can’t eat that!” during some very frustrating trips to the grocery store.   Then he would just scratch his head when I’d stop for ice cream on the way home.  But the day he looked at me and lovingly said, “I miss ‘happy Robin'”, was the day everything changed!  I missed her too, and remembered that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave also lived inside of me (Roman 8:11), and I was NOT going to go down without a fight.  That day I set out on a journey to regain my health, my life, and my “happy”.

I decided that stressing myself out over food was only exacerbating the problems.  Stress will kill you, right?  The one common denominator in all the “diets” I tried named refined sugar as the number one poison that everyone should avoid.  It feeds cancer cells and causes chronic inflammation, which causes nearly every disease known to man.  So I have made gigantic strides in eliminating as much sugar from my routine as possible.  I will, however, still treat myself to some dark chocolate and the occasional ice cream cone.  I gave up all sodas and put no sugar in my coffee.  I have cut back tremendously on my carb intake, but I do not count them.  Life is too short for all that detail.  I have tried to incorporate as many vegetables as possible, but if I do not like something, I simple do not eat it.  I realized that every body is different, and each can tolerate certain foods better than others.  If it hurts or makes my tummy swell upon eating it, I avoid it.  I have cut way back on bread, but will treat myself now and then.  After all, the extra fiber is a bonus!

I finally realized that the answer was really quite simple:  eat real foods that our bodies foodwere designed to eat.  Our glorious Creator has provided everything we need to sustain and maintain our bodies until He calls us home.  I do my best to avoid things “processed”, and eat as many meats and vegetables as I can consume.  For seasonings, I only use olive or coconut oils, Himalayan pink salt and black pepper, fresh garlic and ginger.  (Hubby still adds Texas Pete hot sauce or Mexican salsa to most of his meals.)  Fruit is my go-to for a sweet fix.  I add fiber wherever I can, to keep things moving and improving.

Unless it is pouring rain, I get outside every day.  I walk, if only for 15 minutes, but plan to do more.  I stretch every day, and of course spend quality time in Bible Study and prayer.  I still cheat and probably always will, but I no longer beat myself up over it.  The Lord’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24), so I simply start fresh with each new sunrise.

Today I have more energy than I have had in years.  I am finally sleeping through the night again, and I have come off all medications for depression, anxiety and blood pressure!  I’m winning this war, and I am rocking the pineapple!  I am, “Happy Robin”.

What Am I Doing Here?

HOMEI am amazed at the timing and am thankful for Facebook “memories”! I’ve been feeling incredibly homesick these last few weeks for both Stokes County (NC) and Myrtle Beach (SC).  I consider both places “home” as I grew up in both, and have lived in those two places longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.  I am on the patio this morning outside the beautiful home the Lord has most recently placed us in, enjoying a quiet morning with just me, the singing birds, and Jesus. It is so peaceful, and yet I sit here contemplating the one-year anniversary of our move to Anderson. (Ed has been here one year this month, and next month will be one year since I joined him.)  I miss my friends and the beautiful places of my former home towns, and sometimes wonder what we are doing here. Then THIS came up in my memories… something I wrote myself three years ago but needed to read again today.  And just like that, all is right with the world again.

I love my husband, my home, my job and my Lord. He is using us daily in our jobs, and with pastors and evangelists who He continues to bring across our path. Will we pastor a church here one day? Online or in a building? Will we finally launch that mobile ministry from here? I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future, and I know who holds my hand.   What I wrote three years ago:

I am feeling so grateful but also overwhelmed at the goodness of God, and the people he has placed in my life. When God led me to move away and start over two and one-half years ago, it was bitter-sweet. It was sad to leave everything comfortable and familiar, including some very dear friends and the small church that I pastored. But I also knew it was to time to move on, and God has placed not only an amazing husband in my life, but also many wonderful NEW friends, and an awesome new church home. I was blessed to spend the last two weekends with close friends and members of my old church in North Carolina, and also new neighbors and friends in South Carolina as well. In the past few weeks I’ve received Facebook messages from friends as far back as grade school! It reminds me of a song I learned in Girl Scouts, probably in 2nd or 3rd grade: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Perhaps MORE appropriately is the scripture from Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Will I ever pastor again?  I have no idea – if the Lord so directs, I will let you know. But no matter what HIS plan is for my life, my life is in HIS hands. And all is right with the world.


What’s Really Growing in Your Church?

churchgrowth“Church growth” is the current buzzword in the Christian community.  It has generated a billion-dollar industry from the Purpose Driven best sellers to the multi-campus models, and everything in between. If you Google “church growth”, you will get pages and pages of books and videos, careful 3-step and 10-step strategies and instructions on how to “grow your church.”  The Bible has a lot to say about “church growth”.  It is called “evangelism”, “soul-winning”, and “discipleship.”  But are we getting it right?

I fully understand and agree that we need to keep up with the century that we are living in.  We cannot allow our traditions, no matter how dear, to remain so old-fashioned that we are unable to relate to or communicate with the generation we are trying to reach for Christ.  I love a contemporary praise and worship service, and personally take no issue if the pastor is wearing jeans and tennis shoes.  (Jesus never told anyone they had to change their clothes before coming to church, and neither should we.  We are only instructed to dress “modestly”, as we should!)

However, we’ve recently watched pastors frantically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in attempts to allure the masses.  They have built enormous buildings, trendy pulpits and stage sets, complete with strobe lights and fog machines.  Some of these mimic the very night clubs the Lord has delivered so many of us out of (myself included).  Again, I love some powerful, contemporary praise songs, as most of them are pulled straight from scripture.  I even love seeing the joy of Lord expressed in dancing before Him, in worship.  But I come to bask in the presence of Almighty God and be fed His holy Word; I do not need to be entertained.  It breaks my heart to see crosses removed from today’s houses of worship so as not to “offend” anyone.  “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the POWER of GOD.”  (1 Corinthians 1:18)  Sin is rarely addressed, and in some denominations, even promoted!  But the Bible says, “… let it not be named among you, as is fitting for saints.”  (Ephesians 5:3)

A precious pastor-friend of ours recently got caught up himself in the game of adding and removing chairs from Sunday to Sunday, trying to make the auditorium (we no longer call them sanctuaries) look full enough, yet not over-crowded.   He said, “Well the statistics show…”  Say what?  Is this what “preparing for the service” has become?

Yes, the large mega-churches are bursting at the seams, but are people getting saved, delivered and set free?  Are lives being changed?  Are we growing/maturing in our Christian walk and faith? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)  Are we growing in grace and knowledge?  (2 Peter 3:18)  Are we winning souls for the kingdom (evangelizing our communities), and discipling them?  (Matthew 28:19)  Are we feeding the hungry and clothing the poor?  (Matthew 25:35-40)

Evangelism is my first love, and my first call to ministry.  I am overjoyed with true “church growth”.  We should be praying earnestly for the real thing.  The Bible has much to say about it!  In fact, on the day of Pentacost they saw 3,000 people added to the church in one day!  Again, “And the Lord added to the church DAILY those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:47)  Despite the phenomenal number of mega-churches popping up all over, we have yet to witness these numbers that the early church accomplished.  So, what was their secret?  What was their “strategy”?  They did not have fancy buildings – they met in people’s homes.  They did not have elaborate stage sets, nor extravagant sound systems.  And I can assure you, they did not use flashing lights nor fog machines.  

The answer is simple.  They preached the life-changing message of the Gospel that Jesus preached.  The same message that Peter preached at Pentacost where 3,000 were saved:  “Repent, believe, receive.”   The Holy Spirit flowed freely, and miracles happened.

“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified.  And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were MULTIPLIED.”  (Acts 9:31)

“And He said to them, `Go in to all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.'”  (Mark 16:15)

Shall we?



Who Moved My Pulpit?

black_women_religion_432117137I got to preach this week!  No, not behind the pulpit, nor in any church building.  There was no special service planned or followed.  And while I truly miss bringing the Word every Sunday morning to a select group of close-knit friends, the Lord keeps showing me that there are countless ways to “minister” outside the traditional three-point sermon outlines (which I rarely used anyway), and definitely outside of the brick and mortar church building walls.

I was recently called on to speak with two different women, one of whom I’d never met.  The first lady had been unable to reach her own pastor at that particular moment, and the second was facing some serious decisions regarding health issues.  I offered scriptures and words of encouragement, feeling confident that it was the Holy Spirit’s words flowing from my lips, and not my own.  My prayers were powerful and passionate, as I’ve been faced with similar issues myself.

Finally I was bed-side talking with a precious 91 year old who was worried about not waking up from her nap, and hoping she had been “good enough” in case she didn’t.  As the scriptures flowed from my tongue, I reminded her who she is in Christ, and rebuked those spirits of fear rendering them powerless over her.  I went through God’s merciful plan of salvation from Genesis to Revelation, and I suppose I tend to get a little excited when I talk about Jesus!  I felt myself beaming as I reminded her that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)  Jesus has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and He would be right there watching over her as she slept.  I assured her that she WOULD indeed wake up from her nap in one of two places:  either safely in her own bed, or in the arms of Jesus; and either way she was going to be okay!  I quoted Paul, David, and even the Messiah Himself.  She looked up at me with a fresh gleam in her eye and exclaimed, “I like your church!”

At that moment, God reminded me that we can “have church” anywhere.  Wherever just two or more are gathered in His Name, He is there with us.  (Matthew 18:20)  In fact, we ARE the church, no matter where we go.  God does not dwell in buildings, but His Spirit lives within us!  (Acts 7:48, 17:24)  I remembered that Hope Chapel, the precious church I pastored for three years, was actually birthed around a campfire in the town park.  We often met under picnic shelters, in the local coffee shop, and in members’ homes.  People were saved and baptized as a result of those small-group settings.

The Lord has called me to preach the Good News of His Gospel, which is forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him in glory!  We are saved only by our faith in Jesus Christ, as His blood on the cross already paid the price.  Whether I deliver that marvelous message of HOPE in Christ by pastoring another church one day, as a traveling Evangelist, preaching online or simply speaking with others one-on-one, I will share His love and light for the rest of my days.  God can and NEEDS to use us, everywhere we go!


Robin Leitch