Author Archives: Leah Ness

About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books.

Unburied Treasure

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Gen. 45:26  

‘They told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed, he is ruler over all the lad of Egypt.” But he was stunned, for he did not believe them.’

Observe

As far as Jacob was concerned, his son Joseph was dead. Jacob hadn’t trusted God to give him Joseph in the first place; he didn’t pray for Rachel in her infertility and even chastised her for her despair. He didn’t have hope that Joseph would ever exist to begin with and he didn’t have hope that he would still be alive. Even though he didn’t know for sure that Joseph was dead, even though he’d never seen a body, he was ‘stunned,’ which literally meant that his heart was numb. He was as dead on the inside as he believed Joseph to be.

Application

I’ve come very close to accepting the death of some of my dreams, even though I haven’t seen any bodies. My heart has slowly been growing numb. When I look to the future and think about all the plans and hopes and dreams I used to have… now I see only tombstones. Little tombstones. Because my children – the ones I’ve hoped and dreamed and begged and cried for – they feel dead to me, like I’ll never get to hold them, never get to see their little smiles or kiss their fingertips… I’m slowly losing hope, just like Jacob did.

But just like Jacob, the grave I’m crying over is empty. The battle I’m fighting isn’t over. Any day, the news I’ve so longed to hear – the news I would give almost anything to hear – could come over the hill and speak life into my dreams. It isn’t over yet. God is still good. He is still on the throne. And He can still breathe life into my numb and weary heart. If I turn it over to Him. If I have the faith and the guts to fight off the numbness and choose hope again.

Prayer

Father, please keep my heart from going numb. It’s so tempting to let it grow cold to hope, so it won’t hurt me anymore. But what kind of a relationship can we have if I don’t believe in Your goodness? How can I want to grow closer to You if I think You’re working against me? Hoping in You is costly… it means opening up the wound and leaving it in Your hands, in Your charge. But where my treasure is, there my heart will be also. Please don’t let me bury my dreams, not yet. You’re really good with empty tombs, help me to trust You. Please take my most treasured dream, my children, and hold it close so that I may draw closer to you in pursuit of it. It’s in Your precious name I pray, Amen.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Philemon 6

‘…and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective though the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.’

Observe

There are good things in me which have been placed there for me to use in the service of the King. In order to use them, I need to know about them, what they are and how they work. These are gifts that the Lord has placed in me that I can then turn back into praise by using them for Him. The more I know about them, the more effective they are. They come into effect when I am fellowshipping with other believers or when I am witnessing through my testimony.

Application

I know my heart; the only thing that’s good in me is Jesus. Whatever gifts, talents, skills, etc. I have the privilege of utilizing for His kingdom are actually His works being done through me. And since the only good thing in me is Jesus, and since I need knowledge of every good thing which is in me, then to effectively serve Him, I need to know Him. The deeper I go in my understanding of Christ, the more I can recognize His works in me and get out of the way so He can shine. But how do I gain greater knowledge of Him?

Here’s my thought: they say that going through trials – the really rough stuff – shows you what you’re made of. Adversity gets to the heart of who I am as a person and shows me the good, the bad, and the ugly. So when I’m in the storm, I get to see how much of me is made of Jesus, basically, how much of my heart I’ve given over to Him. The good. I also get to see the bad, how much of my heart I’m keeping for myself. Then there’s the ugly, which is tricky because life is messy, but beautifully so. And the more ashes I have, the more God can turn into beauty. So that ugly can be either category; I can hand it over to the Lord or try to beautify it myself.

Trials – the ugly – are the perfect opportunities to learn more about my Savior and how to be more like Him, because they bring everything home to my core and I get to see what makes my own heart tick. The more I learn, the more I know God, the more effectively He can use me for His Kingdom.

Prayer

Father, thank you so much for faithfully afflicting me. Thank you for loving me as I am, messy as I am. Please don’t let me stay here. Please search me and know my heart, show me my sins and help me to overcome them. Please show me the areas where You are at work in me and fill me with even more grace to let you have more control. And thank you for all the ugly and for the plans You have to give beauty for ashes. In your precious name I pray, Amen.


Faithfully Afflicted

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Psalm 119:75

“I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”

Observe

The word ‘judgments,’ as it’s used here, doesn’t mean ‘punishments’ but rather ‘decisions.’ God makes the right – and the righteous – decisions every time. He is God. He knows the beginning from the end and He sees the whole picture. He is in Heaven, outside of time, looking out across all eternity. He sees all the little details and He knows how to make them work together for His glory and our good. He makes the right call. Every. Time. And when that call hurts us, or doesn’t protect us from getting hurt, it’s still the right call. What’s more, those calls, even the ones that bring about afflictions, are all made in perfect faithfulness to us. He is kind, wise, merciful, and loving, even when it hurts. Even when He hurts. These afflictions are sent from a merciful and kind heart.

Application

I don’t agree with or approve of several, several, of the decisions God has made in my life over the last… well, over my whole life, actually. If I was holding the pen, I would have written a very different story. Furthermore, I don’t agree with the decisions He’s made in the lives of those around me either. They don’t feel righteous or just or faithful to me. Not at all. Biggest case in point is my infertility. I don’t agree with the Lord’s decision to withhold children from me. And I have a heart full of judgment when I look at women whom He has chosen to bless in that way. I don’t at all like the afflictions He’s placed in my husband’s life, in my best friend’s life, in the lives of other people I know and love… none of it feels like it’s been done in faithfulness.

But it has. The Bible says it has. And we can’t go by ‘the feels,’ we have to stand on the truth. So if I can’t get the truth to reconcile with what I’m feeling, I have to work on my feelings, and the root cause behind them, to get them to align with the truth. And the truth is that God is good. He is a good, good Father. He loves us, and He cares about us, and He knows what He’s doing. Even when it hurts. God. Is. Good.

Prayer

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore, I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes. Amen


Saving Grace… for Later

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Titus 2:11-12

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”

Observe

God’s grace is what enables us to deny ungodliness. It just ‘appeared’; He chose to give it freely and not in response to anything we’ve done. It’s all Him. He is the one who gives us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. We can’t do anything in our own strength, we can’t even want to follow Him without Him putting that desire into our hearts first.

Application

I don’t rely on God’s grace. I don’t fall back on it, or revel in it, or seek more of it. Deep down, I feel like His grace is too basic, like it’s only for new believers, baby-Christians. It’s sort of the starter kit, something to get us headed off in the right direction. So I would have to back-slide pretty far to need grace. After all, I’ve been a Christian all my life. I’ve read the Bible all the way through, several times. I don’t need to go back to milky doctrines like grace. I only need it if I fail, so I’m going to try to get along without it. Plus, what if, heaven forbid, I really did need it one day and I’d used up my limited supply? What if I become dependent on it and the source runs out on me?!
Oh. Brother. Grace is the central doctrine to the Christian faith and none of us will ever get to the place where we no longer need it, least of all me. Grace isn’t the like training wheels on a bike; it’s the main wheels, and the bike frame, and the peddles, and the handle-bar… and the helmet… and the ground… and gravity… and…. You get the picture.

How sad that instead of enjoying one of, if not the greatest (*insert theological semantics here*), gifts I have or ever will receive, I try to keep it stored away for a really rainy day and get along without it. Trying to live a victorious Christian life without grace is like trying to run a marathon while holding your breath: it’s just not going to happen.

Prayer

Father, please forgive me for my pride and faithlessness. I don’t want to need Your grace in case one day You decide to withhold it. I want to be my own ‘Plan B.’ Please forgive me and please give me the faith to trust in – to revel in – Your amazing grace. Help me to accept this gift and let it work in my heart, so that I can deny worldliness and sin. Please let your grace tear down my idols of self-reliance and flood in to replace them. In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

Do you enjoy grace or are you trying to take the ‘training wheels’ off?


What I Really Believe About God

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Titus 1:16

“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”

Observe

It is possible to know God without following Him. You can believe in Him and still be ‘detestable’ and ‘worthless’ in serving Him. This was written to a group of people who lived in a world where professing Christ cost them something: comfort, security, social standing, persecution. In today’s first world society, it doesn’t cost us anything to say we’re Christians. It’s too easy to give God lip-service while doing and giving nothing else whatsoever.

What you do is what you believe, the rest is just talk.

Application

I need to act out what I believe. And what I believe is that God is God, that He is good, and that He is in control. That’s what I say I believe.

But the beliefs I live out suggest that God is only sort of sovereign over a couple things and even with those, only if He gets the voicemail I left Him. He is good to other people and even though He’s proven His goodness to me, that goodness can and probably will run out soon. Besides, it’s not always my idea of goodness so it doesn’t really count. And even though He probably did create all of time and space, it’s okay if I don’t read the Bible today; He understands that watching the new Gilmore Girls special is important too.

These are the beliefs my actions imply when I spend my time worrying, envying, pouting, ignoring Him, and blatantly sinning. If I really do believe that God is a good Father, my good Father, then my actions and attitude must reflect that.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank You so much for loving me, for giving me endless second chances. Please forgive me for taking You for granted, for using pretty language and talking until I’m blue in the face then turning around and acting in direct opposition to what I just said I should/could/would do. I’ve been so wrapped up in myself that I’ve been worthless for Your Kingdom. Please let that stop here. Please help me to put my money where my mouth is. Bring  my beliefs and actions together and please help me to live what I claim to believe. It’s in Your precious name that I pray, Amen.

So, based solely on your actions, what do you believe?


The Christmas Wait

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I’m very excited about Christmas this year. Unnaturally excited. Weirdly excited. I’m not even sure why. Typically, I give the Grinch a run for his money. This year, I was the annoying girl who was humming Christmas carols half-way through November.

As I’ve written before, 2016 has been a disappointing year. Furthermore, I spent all of October and November working weekends (as in 12hrs a day) and I missed my sweet hubby even more than I expected to. So, the approach of year’s end and some much needed hubby-time had me tapping my foot impatiently at November, telling it to get a move on.

But impatient foot-tapping isn’t new for me; it’s sorta my M.O. I’m like a Geico commercial: “If you’re Leah Ness, you wait impatiently. It’s what you do.”

So here’s the really weird thing: I’m super excited for Christmas, but I don’t really want it to get here. Not just yet. My sweet hubby is so eager to give me my presents that he bemoans the distance between now and the 25th on a daily basis. Me? I’m reveling in the anticipation.

How I wish that could be the case in other areas of my life.

I’ve been waiting for motherhood for about 14yrs now. It was all I really wanted to do with my life, the end goal of all my decisions since the age of about 16. After 2yrs of infertility and a failed foster application, I’ve had it up to here with waiting.

And I have to wonder, what would it be like if I could have the certainty that my dreams were safe? Christmas morning will be here before I know it, I have experience in that. Whether I wait patiently or impatiently, the 25th will get here all on its own. I really don’t have to worry or rush it.

If only I had that same assurance with the desires of my heart.

If only I had as much faith in Christ coming through as I do in Christmas.  

I don’t know what God’s plans for me are. He could have a baby in mind for us. Hey, He might even be planning twins (*hint, hint Lord*). But even if His plans for me do not include ever hearing a little one call me mommy, I know those plans are still good.

I serve a great, kind, faithful God. His plans for me – His thoughts on me – are far greater and more beautiful than I could ever imagine. And far more important than I may ever understand here on earth. And I can trust Him that they are good. I can trust Him to be good.

With that truth in mind, I should be able to sit back, relax, and revel in the anticipation. The operative word being ‘should.’

I wonder what my life would look like if every morning, instead of checking the calendar to see how long I’ve waiting and wonder how much time is still left, I just trusted God to get me where I’m going when I’m ready to be there.

What would my days look like if I trusted the Lord so much that I wasn’t in a hurry for my dreams to come true?

How would my relationship with my Father change if I enjoyed the act of walking with Him more than the idea of getting to my destination as soon as possible?

What if I slowed down and took every day as the blessing it is and just enjoyed His presence, safe in the knowledge that wherever we’re going, He’ll be with me?

His presence is the real prize. And in the end, I get heaven.

I know Christmas will be wonderful because I know that my husband loves me and that I get to spend the day with him. And I know that the gifts he’s gotten me will be wonderful because he loves me and cares about me and knows me better than anyone. He’s chosen my gifts with care and is eager for me to enjoy them. So I’m going to rest in the expectation of Dec. 25th.

I know heaven will be wonderful because I know that my Jesus loves me and that I get to spend eternity with Him. And I know that the gifts He’s planning for me will be wonderful because He loves me and cares about me and knows me better than I know myself. He’s planned my future with care and is eager for me to enjoy it. So I’m going to rest in the expectation of eternity.


Even When it Hurts

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Alan Rickman died early this year. I knew then that it would be a bad year, but I didn’t know it would be this bad.

I think I’ve written before about how I don’t handle disappointments well. This year has proved that to still be the case. I’m sorry I’ve been off the blogosphere for so long; the thing is, we were trying to foster. Trying.

We began the process in January of this year and went through 7 months of training, paperwork, background checks, references, home-studies, personal essays, support group meetings, prayers, and just general angst. And in the end, I was denied, because of my history of depression and self-harm.

In retrospect, I should have expected it, but I was so full of hope and so certain that something as noble as fostering had to be God’s will for us and therefore He would make a way. Well, you know what they say about assumptions.

I’ve always wanted to adopt so this news hit me and hit me hard. I’ve always wanted to be a mom period and after two years of trying to conceive, fostering really did seem like the path we were meant to take. Now it’s looking increasing like motherhood is not what God has for me. Trouble is, I never planned for anything else… so if not motherhood, then what is the point of me?

I got my first clue when I received some difficult news. I have several siblings and I get along better with some than with others. Well, one of the sisters I’m not particularly close too (as in we fight each time we talk) just became pregnant with her first child. And she’s due on my wedding anniversary. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as betrayed as I felt by God the moment I got this news.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. At first, I tried to pretend I was fine and went along with my business, determined not to break down. Then I decided it would be ok to cry a little; after all, who would see? Then I had a funny thought…

Why don’t you praise God for this?

Well, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I’ve heard testimonies of mighty men and women of faith who could praise Him in trying circumstances but I know my heart, and there was no way I was spiritual enough for that.

Try anyway.

I didn’t want to. It was the last thing I wanted to do. I felt like God had forsaken me and turned His favor on someone who had hurt me and those I loved countless times. It’s not fair. What was there to thank Him for?

Just try.

So I did. I hit my knees, I raised my hands, and God met me there, instantly. It was messy, sloppy praise – ugly-cry type praise – but it was so rich, so unnaturally joyful, exuberant and victorious. For a solid hour of my existence, I was overjoyed with my King and His love for me. For a solid hour, circumstances didn’t matter, and He was enough. I think that must be what heaven is like.

I’ve heard it put this way: “Praise is the most meaningful, when it’s the most painful.” I can now attest to that. And it’s given me a clue as to my ‘point.’

I may not be called to be a mother, but I am called to be a daughter. His daughter. And I’m called to love that. I’m called to revel in and rejoice in that. I’m called to love my Daddy, even when I’m hurting. I’m called to be His daughter and to let that be enough. And sometimes, that’s really hard.

But that only makes it more beautiful, more meaningful. It struck me just this morning what an honor it is that the Lord would let me hurt, let me struggle. He could answer my prayers the way I want Him to. He could give me a baby, fellowship, fulfillment, and many of the other things I’ve been prayer for and longing for this year. He could have saved me so much disappointment.

Instead, He chose to trust me with the disappointment. He’s given me the assignment of praising Him in the storm, of singing to Him when it’s the more unnatural thing to do. He’s trusting me to show the world that He is good simply because of who He is, not only what He gives. He’s trusting me to show that He is enough by letting Him be enough in my life.

I get to be His daughter, first and foremost, and I get to praise Him even when it hurts.

And I feel so blessed.

Though He slay me,
I will hope in Him.

Job 13:15


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