Real Love Gives

We should not reach out to draw anyone to ourselves if we don’t believe we are able to contribute to their life in ways that will improve their current existence.

Give them joy where once they had none.

Or, where once they had less.

You know, fill in little empty spots.

And This applies to all men and women.

Both must evaluate, if they say they want to love.



He Will Be Captain

I wish I could say that God was my Captain.

The Navigator.

That I was first mate, steering where he directed,

And lowering the sails when he gave the command.

But I cannot say that.

I was living life at a breakneck speed.

How odd it is, writing such a phrase, as I sit here with broken bones in my own neck attempting to heal.

Do I believe that God put me in this place?

No. I do not.

He tried to get my attention, yes,

But he sent warnings, not threats.

As I told my friend this evening,

I was continuously running, chasing,

Chasing after one more hundred dollar bill.

“If I have enough in the account, I won’t have to worry… Josiah will have clothing…I’ll be able to fix the car without having to make a deal with the mechanic to accept payments…all bills paid…go to Texas to see my dad…go to California to see my mother…Maybe save up and take the kids to see the Sequoias…the Grand Canyon…Niagra Falls…….”

Part time job during the day.

Part time job at night.

Another weekend opportunity? Yes!

And I was actually talking to another friend about working midnights.

Was it because I did not have enough?

No. Our needs were met.

But it did not ::feel:: like enough.

I ran after money because I hungered for security,

But I missed my little boy,

My adult sons,

My daughter would bring the grandson to my evening restaurant job to eat so that we could at least be in the same room for two hours.

We were always looking for a window of time to snatch out of the air,

Remain connected to one another,

And all the while I ran.

Always busy.

Always working.

Always worrying, so

Always chasing.

But I called it “being responsible”.

And now?

Now I am forced to sit because of these injuries from the car accident on my way to work.

And in sitting,

I wonder, “Just how responsible ::were:: you, Alma? You hustled. You worked hard. But did you work wisely?

Did you manage your time with any kind of common sense at all?”

But I don’t wonder for long when I stand in front of my youngest son, who looks me in the eye because he is so tall now,

His voice developing that rumble in the throat that tells me the little boy is being replaced by a teen.

I do not wonder

because his last five years have been made up of a pattern of “sometimes I see mom, but most times I don’t”, so the answer is obvious.

It was not wise usage of time or talent.

The reason I was living my life in a frenzied pursuit of the dollar was because I lived in fear.

The fear of not having enough.

You know what I am talking about.

You’ve felt it.

We all have.

I just handled it poorly.

And now I am forced to be still,

Dependent on my daughter for a task as simple as washing my hair,

Or combing it,

Thinking about deep things while I sit in a straight-backed chair,

or sleeping against pillows at the proper angle,

Anything to help these bones fuse properly.

As I stated above,

Do I believe that God put me in this place?

No. I do not.

He tried to get my attention,

But he sent warnings,

Warnings unheeded, for I was (the prideful) captain of my own vessel and I would sail


And whenever I thought it necessary,

Even while he said,

“Storm ahead, Good ship Alma Jean.

A storm



Now here I am, like debris on the shore,

Broken pieces of wood waiting for Him to salvage what He wants and rebuild me,

Set me on the water so I can feel productive again.

Only this time,

I will listen for his voice.

He will be Captain, for he rebuilds the vessel.

He will be Navigator, for he created the stars in the heavens by which sailors find their way.

He will plot the course because he knows the currents.

He made the sea.

And me?

I will be First Mate, steering where he directs

And lowering the sails when he gives the command,

Because He

He is my Creator

My Instructor

My Today

My Tomorrow

My God

True Security



She Planted a Tree

I was four or five years old when she sat by my bed where I lay sobbing.

She had come all the way from Michigan to visit us in Texas and happened to be there when my dog had been shot by an angry neighbor.

I thought he died, but she assured me that my parents simply took him to a farm out in the country where he would heal and get better, and run and play with all the room he wanted instead of being confined in my fenced-in backyard.

And I was comforted.

I had the sadness that he wasn’t mine anymore, but it was now accompanied by the comforting image of him scamping about with no boundaries to limit him.

A happy dog, not a suffering pet.

A blissfully happy dog.

The next memory.

Receiving a book from her at a large family gathering over the holidays.

Hardcover. Royal blue. Disney characters on the front.

It contained written stories of all the Disney cartoons that had been made up to that point in time.

I was a child, but I knew the book was expensive, and I wondered why she would give me something so costly.

It was a companion to me on many a lonely night, when I – like other children who escape the harsh world by delving into literature – needed solace.

The memories cascade into my mind after that, a waterfall of images, accompanied by thoughts, impressions, and emotions – all of them good ones, except for the one time I grieved her, yet even that memory is sealed with our sweet reconciliation.

I lived with her the year I was fifteen.

She nursed me back to health when I contracted an illness that became severe.

Again, she was a woman sitting by my bedside, offering another type of comfort,

Soup from a spoon as I attempted to lift my head.

She never yelled, but she certainly knew how to discipline.

When I knocked a classmate on the ground by flipping his desk over while he was still sitting in it, (he made fun of a scar) I was given detention after school for a week.

“You’ll walk home.”, she said.

And I did, no matter the weather.

Not a short walk.

Later that year I was suspended from attending school for a week,

Caught drinking alcohol during an off-campus lunch hour with a group of friends.

One of the girls had a mother who was married the previous weekend and they had all this leftover alcohol in the house and “Wouldn’t it be fun if we tried some?”, she suggested.

I took one swig and dumped the rest down the sink, but that was still enough to get me in a world of trouble when another of our group, who was an office aide after lunch, vomited all over the place and then ratted us out.

She was so upset, my aunt, but again, no yelling.

She gently explained to me that the week would not be a vacation.

The first day I was given the task of emptying some laundry baskets by ironing and folding their contents. Even sheets.

The second day, removing every item from the storage shelves in the basement, and organizing them. She baked wedding cakes. I became acquainted with more baking utensils than I care to number.

Day three – weeding outside. Lots and lots of weeding.

Day four – all tasks completed – so she gave me a bucket and a sponge and instructed me to wash every wall in the home. Some smells stay with a person throughout their life, and that is when the distinctive fragrance of Murphy’s oil soap became one of mine.

Not long after that week I was lying down on the carpet beneath the wall-mounted phone.

She was standing at the kitchen counter making dinner and she caught my eye.

I was so sad that I’d done something that prevented her from being proud of me.

“I’m sorry, Aunt Joy.”

Maybe my sorrow shone from my eyes or reverberated in my voice, I do not know how she detected the genuine tone of my statement but she did, because she replied with,

“Alma, that is the nicest way you’ve said it thus far.”,

and the ugly chapter was closed.

She supported me when I auditioned in the HS Musical, and further supported me when I landed a minor singing and dancing role, never once complaining about taxiing me back and forth to practices.

Her support never ended.

It continued.

She encouraged.

She edified.

She mothered.

She nurtured.


She knew how to build a developing soul.

She can be seen in all the best parts of me.

In all the best parts of her own children.

In all the best parts of anyone who allowed her to touch them,

In word,

Or deed,

Or embrace.

She was a conduit of the love of God.

Picture a waterfall from heaven pouring down

Containing all the goodness of God,

Love, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, and Joy.

Picture it pouring into her.

Then picture it flowing out from her hands as she extended them toward the world, and you will have a clear image of who Joy Felan was to all of us and still is, even now, as we carry on her work, committed to preserving the legacy that she gave us for she taught us how to love, and she never stopped teaching.

And I’m brought back to my very first memory of her,

Sitting by my bedside, comforting me with a story about where my dog had gone,

And now I give similar words to you,

Only my thoughts aren’t dependent on our imaginations this time you see,

because there is a truth that no Bible-believing soul can deny.

“To be absent of the body is to be present with the Lord.”, and if any one knew Jesus, She did.

No longer is she “fenced in” by cancer.

She smiles.

She sings.

She radiates with more light now than she did when she was here, and if you can close your eyes you may be able to see it as vividly as the sun up in the sky.

Or a rainbow.

I never thought she would leave this world.

Never even considered the possibility.

Life without Joy?


But she gave us something to remember her by.

She planted in each of us a tree,

The tree of life.

She nurtured it, withholding no good thing from anyone,

Fertilizing us with her constancy of affection,

with stability, gentleness and kindness,

With Love.

It will never stop bearing fruit.

Our loved ones will taste it and be better off for it,

As we were made better just by knowing her.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, and Joy.”

Thank you, Father, for creating her.

She accomplished much in your name.

Please tell her that we miss her,

But will carry on her work

Both in her name.

And in Yours

For to know her was to know You

And to pick up her baton to carry it

Is to do the will of God.

In memory of Joy Alice Felan.

September 29, 1947 – February 20, 2018


Consider a Tapestry

The things that matter take time.

I love instant happy.

Who doesn’t love instant happy?

But lives take time to build.

They aren’t instantly successful.

Friendships take time to build.

The real ones.

And merging lives?

That is like getting up every day and going to work.

You must pour into that project on a daily basis.

Like bricks forming a wall,

we lay one decision upon another upon another.

Uh-oh…a bad decision, now there’s a crack in the wall.

Take some bricks down, fix the problem, lay a new layer of mortar, start over.

Merge many objects into one solid and secure edifice that becomes the haven wherein souls find shelter, safety, and rest.

Think of a tapestry, blue and white.

One ball of white thread, one ball of blue, both on the floor at the designer’s feet.

The weaver sits, adding white when white is needed, adding blue where it belongs, and after a while, two colors merge to form one beautiful design as they are woven tightly together.

Knots are tied.

Tangles are unraveled.

Clack…clack…the weaver’s frame makes a rythmic sound as two separate items become one lovely thing.

If they yield themselves to the hands of the weaver, that is.


Nothing that matters happens quickly.

Set your face like a flint, and put your hands on the plow.

And yield.

The things that truly matter take time.

Maybe, Just Maybe

Four years.

At first I thought that my actions insured the consequence of my having to rely solely on myself to survive. I believed that getting a divorce meant God could (or would) not bless me, support me, or assist me, but then he caused things to fall into place (behind the scenes) when I would run into obstacles, enabling me to overcome and move forward.
Because of these occurrences, I adjusted my thinking to accept that God allowed the rain to fall on the just and the unjust – But there was something else.

He was carrying me.
I was blinded by pain and I knew it.

I couldn’t see where I was going. I was stumbling on the path, yet He was there for those blind years, leading, guiding, showing me which way to turn when I came up against a wall.
Little by little, God has continued to draw me closer, and I have learned that He still wants relationship with this broken woman, which blows me away. I’m still smudged with soot on the inside of me, like a fireplace chimney.

When I first found the Lord, my life changed dramatically. I wanted to do great things for Him, big big things, but I didn’t do great things at all, in fact, my life was something I was often ashamed of.

What if…

What if I, like Sarah, tried to make things happen in my own strength due to my own natural reasoning, instead of simply living and obeying God while allowing Him to do what He has always done,

Bring it to pass –
In His way

In His Time

By His Spirit.

Do I understand God’s grace spilling onto my life?

No, nor do I advise going through a divorce to learn about His unconditional love, and faithfulness,

But I marvel as He continues to call me even still.

It causes flickers of hope to ignite within my depths that maybe, just maybe, God’s original plan for my life will be realized just yet.

– leah

A Waterfall of Grace

The past two days contained rough waters

Demanding navigation

From a girl without a paddle 

From a woman with no oars.

An authority upset with me – half for the wrong reason, and half with good reason, (a weak area in performance).  

There were demands, “Amend this.”. One can fix the second, but not the first.

There was a time-table that seemed impossible,

And there I was 

in rough river flow, 

with no idea how to navigate the unfamiliar wisely.

Yet today, 

The Lord came through in the area of the first,

Blowing me away,


I’m imperfect.

My heart in need of cleansing


But his grace….

It confuses me.

It’s continual nonjudgmental flow

Is like a waterfall onto undeserving humans

Waiting at the bottom

Standing knee-deep in their mire

Face up, 

Needy while simultaneously sated.

And here it is again on this sinner,

Soaking me through to the bone.

He lives.

Jesus Lives.

Our Father sees,

And He Gives Grace abundant to his children.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

– leah

The Best Kind of Father

Today is an emotional day.

Yesterday was too, and I did my best to throttle every fanciful thought that cropped up in my mind uninvited, the way we try to stop weeds from overtaking our garden.

But today –

Today is the day that humility clothes me like a garment.

I am reviewing things from last year,  expenses, unexpected ones, scary big ones that could have sabotaged my day-to-day and rendered me quite helpless,

But God.

The One who created this earth and then deposited life upon it – 

the One who doesn’t make things and then abandon them –

The Best Father In The World – 

who provides opportunities to work – 

He looks ahead on the timeline of a life and He prepares a path.

If we would only be obedient to his quiet gentle voice.

Every nightmarish situation that threatened was met by his hand.

And he did it in such a way that I was able to build dignity – work very hard – and see fruits of labor.

He is so amazing, how he sets us up in the most delightful of ways.

“I am going to give you the ability to do this thing, and as you complete your task, you will have more skills than when you began, you will have learned difficult lessons, you will be stretched and challenged, and you will grow.”

How can one resist a Father like that?

He is the best, most loving… 

(no words).

I remember when I was angry at him.

I remember when I didn’t trust him.

I remember when I was terrified of him.

And I remember when he showed me his good nature…
I was holding Josiah – he was just a baby.

I was filled with a powerful maternal love for my little boy, like the rushing waters of Niagra.

The pregnancy was high risk, and I paid an emotional and physical price for him to be here.

I knew that my other three may not have a new little brother if things didn’t go well, maybe even lose their mother.

But God was faithful and he kept us safe.
As I sat there holding my little baby, adoring him and enjoying his soft cuddly body in my arms, a very strong impression came over me – a “knowing”.

The kind of feeling you would have if a warm breeze blew not only over you, but through you – it was like that.

And I knew – Just as my little boy who could not – at that moment – comprehend with his little mind, the depth of love and sacrifice his mother had surging inside of her for him – so was our mind incapable of truly understanding the love of our Heavenly Father toward us.

He too, sacrificed for us –

He too, caused us to come into existence – 

And He too, adores us beyond measure.
Ever since that day – I have been secure in the love of God as my Father.

Which brings me back to today – going over things from last year, I see that he is “raising” me still, like the best kind of father does for his children, no matter how old they are.

Humility clothes me.

I am emotional.

I am tender toward all the best things.

I am humbled and am attempting to walk on the earth in a quiet way before the One who made it,

Who made me…

Who made You. 
We have – The Best Kind of Father.
– leah

Modern Day Dowry

It is funny, how we can allow our vessels, the clay pots we inhabit,to get so filmy inside.

Maybe things we read, or see, or allow ourselves to see…

Things we listen to, allow to enter into us…
I have been thinking about something since March.

A lot.
In English Lit, the children had to read a story about a woman who was denied her rightful dowry – money and possessions – by her guardian/brother. 

She was married, and then he refused to honor the tradition and kept her things.
It wasn’t that the man she married needed her things, He was wealthy.

But it was a matter of pride to her – a woman likes to bring something to the table, too, in a life-changing event of such importance.
The story and movie have to do with more than a woman’s honor, it has to do with a man’s (her husband’s) commitment to be true to himself as well.

I purchased the movie and the children watched it – John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Great movie.

“The Quiet Man.”
Long story short – I have been contemplating the time-honored and time-dissolved tradition of a woman’s dowry.

It no longer exists in much of our culture, but I think that women still want to bring something valuable to a relationship,

Add something to the pot, so to speak.
And I thought of character,

Integrity. Faithfulness. Honesty. Peacefulness. SelfLESSness. Kindness. Gentleness. Generosity,

The things that I believe true wealth consists of.

I examine my heart as I journal like a person checks their bank account to see what is in there,

and I think women and men would both do well to amass such loving character traits in great quantity – and distribute to those who are close to them.
We can get spiritually slimy inside.

If water is going to issue forth from us, the people around us should be able to drink it without feeling sick.

It is crucial.

Add to this,

Healthy blood flowing through our nervous system,

Healthy marrow in our bones,

Healthy muscle tissue making up our form…
It all takes daily maintenance – like the long term care of an inherited property.

How wealthy is your dowry, today?

How healthy is your “property”?
– Just thoughts

All you need do is Ask.



Bound around one’s ankles so close to the skin that one fears they will go to the grave with them attached.

No one knows how to safely remove them without injuring themselves.

If they did – they wouldn’t be wearing them.



Addictions wound around the heart like seaweed wrapped around the legs of the dock, or roots of weeds strangling life out of a garden’s treasure.

So hard to remove.
But not impossible.  

For God.
What troubles you this day?

What ensnares your heart?

Take it to the King.
He has purchased your freedom.

All you need do is ask.

He will give you the key.
– leah 


I can’t sleep. 

Thinking about what God is doing lately.
Sharing some of it with you.
You know – when I am working with a little child in a therapy session, sometimes I have to run a “my turn” trial.

It is when I hold my hand out – palm up – for the item that they are holding or playing with, and I say, “My Turn”.
A child that does not know how to share, or does not want to share, grips their toy more tightly.
I’ll move my hand closer. “My turn”, I say.  And I wait for the object.

Sometimes I have to gently take the toy from the child – sometimes just waiting quietly is enough.

Once it is in my hands,  I will hold it for a few seconds and give it back right away – praising them for sharing – each time.

The trial is meant to teach – so the time that I hold the toy gets longer over weeks, until I can hold a toy for one or two minutes and the child is not hitting or crying or running away with the item. 😊
Trust is established.

Patience is learned.

Going without for a while is also learned.

We adults go through these trials with the Lord.  Sometimes we have to give something or someone up for a little while.

Sometimes forever.
Sometimes we can’t let go and God gently removes the thing.

And we cry.
God gently removed a thing from me once.  At least, God’s hand was in it.

Just because a thing is out of your hands,  it doesn’t mean it is out of your heart.
I knew I was supposed to surrender – and I went through the motions and prayed the prayers many times, but my heart simply was not in the yielding,

At least, not completely.

In my brain I knew it wasn’t mine.
In my SPIRIT I knew it was ultimately God’s, 

But in my heart…   

In my heart I was gripping tightly.

I had not yet relinquished.

And that is what God wanted from me. 

He wanted the heart of a daughter that freely surrendered what he required.

He kept saying, “Surrender”.

“What do you mean, ‘Surrender’? You have it, don’t you? Isn’t that enough?”

– “No, Alma. I can see you.  I am holding the item but you still possess it in your heart. Let It Go.“.
It seems silly to imagine my saying to one of the children in therapy, “Let it go.”, if I am holding the item – unless you look at the child’s face and observe that – even though the object is in the grown up’s hand – it really hasn’t been surrendered, and the child is devising a way to get it back as soon as they are able.
While I wasn’t actually devising,  I was waiting for it to be given back, the way the children wait for me to give their toys back to them.
Recently, God again brought me to a place of surrender with this situation.
I’m not sure what made it possible this time.

Maybe I had reached a new level of trust with the Lord.

Maybe I just wanted what HE wanted more than what I wanted…  in this category, at least?

I only know that once again, during prayer, the Lord said, “Let’s take a walk.”, and He led me to that familiar altar of sacrifice and patiently requested that the core of my heart be laid upon it by my own hand.

I surprised myself!, Even as I stood there, because for once I was able to say, “Yes Lord. I only want that thing to come to pass if that is what You think is best.”.

And I meant it.
It feels so odd,  Liberating in a way.

Painful – but not nearly as painful as I imagined.

And this new sense of freedom eases the pain.

But that is not all.
There is a new intimacy with the Lord.

A deeper sense of knowing and a stronger sense of loving.
The only way I know to describe it is to once again compare it to the children with whom I work.  If a stranger tries to talk to them or teach them, they run to and clutch me tightly, or they hide behind my legs.

I have become their safe place in the face of uncertainty and unfamiliar surroundings, the one to cling to, to Trust in,  And God has become that safe place for me.

Trust, Love, and Intimacy;  They all lie in wait on the other side of the altar of surrender, and if you want those things bad enough, the item you are clutching tightly to your chest will become less valuable to you, even though it may be the most precious thing in all the world.
It will still be precious – just not as precious as a deeper walk with Christ.