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

My Pastor Said, “Timing”.

No matter how Broken You Are,
No matter how low you feel,
No matter how blind you are,
I promise
The God of Heaven sees you.

On the way home I was thinking about when the disciples asked Jesus why a certain man was blind.
It was on my mind because of a conversation I had with my pastor a few weeks ago.

I asked for five minutes.
He gave me five times three.
How many of you know that in the land of the busy, five minutes times three is a very long time?⌚:)

Back to the story,
While driving home I thought of the section where this blind man was healed.
Jesus didn’t leave him like he found him. ♥

Blindness.
The inability to see.

It isn’t just the eyes that can be blind, is it?
We can be blind to our own behavior,
our self-sabotaging ways,
and our flaws.

We can even be blind to a solution when we seek one.
And I was blind to a solution
For a long time.

I didn’t want to be blind,
and looked for a way to receive sight. I needed a mystery to be solved.
I wanted to fix what was broken because I was so tired of the cloud around me,
Like the cloud of dust that Pig Pen kicks up wherever he goes.

The untraceable scent that it produced – It was stubborn – and I couldn’t wash it off.
I couldn’t rinse it down the drain, like I do my make-up.
It was in my pores, and it emanated from me, the way the smell of smoke sticks to a person after they’ve been camping.

But –
God didn’t leave things that way.
He gave me sight.

The pastor was preaching, on a regular Sunday morning, and I was taking notes, when all of a sudden,
“click. click. click.”
Just like that,
Every missing piece slid into place.

I had the answer.
Mystery revealed.
Blind eyes opened.
Solution in my hands,
mixed with ink that was flowing from my pen,
taking solid form as words were spread across the page.

I wrote
quickly, furiously, hurriedly,
Capturing and preserving every word that detailed the answer to a problem that had plagued me
all
my
living
life.

And I wanted to tell the pastor what had happened in his church.

When I did, haltingly and choppily, because I cannot speak as well as I write, I detailed how long I’d searched.
He told me, “It was God’s timing.”.

He didn’t say, “Yeah, I’m anointed like that.”
He didn’t say, “I get that a lot, Alma. Wherever I go, Breakthroughs a-plenty.”
No.
He said, “Timing.”

And I stared at him, (which is what I do when several reactions occur at once).
I stare because when so many things ::can:: be said, I have to select very carefully what I choose to say,
To communicate.

I opened my mouth and said, “Oh.”.
Yeah, I am all about the brilliance.
I said,
“Oh. I thought it was because of this place.”.
And then I asked, “Why would I not find the solution to this issue for more than 40 years? Wasn’t it the anointing, here?”.

I don’t remember his exact response, so I am not going to write anything, I just know he was patient, and that, as I left, the word “Timing” continued to resonate inside of me.

Which brings me back to the original topic.

Jesus healed a blind man and “his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”.

Jesus basically told them that he was born blind for that day of his healing – because the greatness of the work of God would be shown to all through that situation.

And as I drove, I wept.
I wept and considered a child, an adolescent, a teen, a young adult, learning to live with an impediment in that era.

The son, the mother, the father, friends, family, etc…
All whose lives were touched, affected,
who supported,
who adapted to the situation,
Who gave grace.

I thought about the culture then, in which someone who was blind lived, and I wondered how they supported themselves.
Did he have a girlfriend?
Was there someone he wanted to marry?
Did they try to go to doctors to correct the blindness,
the way I went to counselors looking for my solution?

And were they just as frustrated and discouraged as I when they couldn’t find it?

And then,
What did he think when he found out he was especially chosen by God for that day, that time, at that hour?
So that God could show everybody in the world that he was real…
And Cared.

What was it like for him to know that he was chosen,
Not because God was cruel,
Heavens no.
But because God ::made him:: to be able to withstand that temporary suffering – knowing that he was going to bless him with deliverance later.
What was it like to be chosen?

The Lord is weaving a magnificent tapestry and everyone is a thread.
When it’s finished, we are going to marvel at its beauty and be glad we were involved.

Each one of us has a purpose,
A plan that God designed when he formed us in our mother’s womb.

Each one of us has a struggle that we deal with and some of those things are temporary,
but others cannot be removed unless God supernaturally intervenes.

When he does…
For he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him,
he will do it in such a way that no human will be able to lift their hand and say that they were the one who made it happen.

When God sets a person free,
He does it in such a way but there is no doubt about who was at work in that situation.

And he does those things to show his love for all of Humanity on this planet.

No matter how Broken You Are,
No matter how low you feel,
No matter how blind you are,
I promise
The God of Heaven sees you
And He knows with what you are dealing.

There will come a day when he will remove the thing that makes you less than what you could be.

When he does –
You won’t be blind anymore.

It will be your responsibility
Not to walk forward,
But to run.

To run forward
Looking ahead,
With your two
Good
Blessed
And beautiful
Miracle-seeing eyes.

– leah ♡

I am no bird. No net ensnares me.

This may be one of my favorite quotes in the world.
And it’s so hard to choose just one.

Being in a very authoritarian marriage, where our church preached something called “Spiritual Authority”, a concept backed up by many biblical scriptures,
A woman was to submit to her husband whenever there was an impasse in decision making.

Example, (a benign one)
Man wants to spend 100$ on item A.
Woman wants to spend 100$ on item B.
Conflict.
Man pulls submission card.
The end.

Maybe the woman’s choice was for the family instead of herself.
Maybe it was the wiser choice.

If a man is not humble enough to consider the intelligence of his wife…

If a man is selfish and has lost sight of his mission to be a servant to his family, to follow the example of Christ, who washed the feet of all twelve of his disciples,
Who died for them and for us,

If a man is short-tempered, and full of himself, loving himself before his wife and children,
He could snap at his wife right away, pulling the “I’m the boss around here.” reminder card out of his pocket, and silencing her.

I didn’t do many things I wanted to do because I obeyed.
I didn’t work,
Attend college,
Or Pursue a career.

Grow as a human.
As an intellectual.

I educated myself with Readers Digest Classics and other books I’d check out or purchase.

Mi mente tenia hambre.
My mind was hungry.

What a revelation, to read _Jane Eyre_.
To read of a girl, lost and rejected, mistreated,
Then placed in an orphanage to be mistreated further, but to find a friend who taught her about God.

There, Jane and Helen learned what true godliness was, even as religion in its unyielding granite-like hardness oppressed them.

They created a warm nucleus of friendship and learning of Christ and they existed that way until Helen died.

Jane is plain.
And poor.
But her spirit found expression in her resolve to survive and in her sketches.

And a very strong and stern man fell in love with her.

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He was married, though, to a mentally-infirmed woman watched over night and day by nurses he hired.
He fell in love with Jane and asked her to run away with him as man and wife where no one would know them.

During this moment of decision, she finds strength to rise up from within, to remain true to her values despite her desperate desire to say yes, and she protects her individuality, preserving her freedom.

Charlotte Brontê, alias Currer Bell,
In the 1800s,
Was setting women free in their hearts through her writing.

She sets people free today.
She lies in a grave but her words remain full of life,
Full of deliverance.

Exhortation to stand.
To not deny one’s self.
To allow the soul to branch out into greatness.
Despite what others, even those loved most, say.

I look back at the history of intermittent  violence in my marriage with a bit of shame.

My cousin (who survived cancer) asked me one night,
She and I were lying in bed together last August, for she’d come up from the Carolinas for a family reunion after her strength returned,
and we slept in the same room…
She asked me, “Why did you stay?”

How do I explain to my cousin, a fighter of, and victor over the invisible clutches of cancer, why I would stay in such a union, when I could have simply got into a car and driven away from it?

I had many answers and zero answers.

There ::is:: a helpless remorse that accompanies regret, and if I allowed it to, it would destroy me.
Like a thick gray cloud of smoke invades the lungs, remorse would invade any man’s senses until they ceased to try anymore.
It’s an ugly emotion and must be taken by the horns and forced to do good in a mind.

Become fuel that drives a body to rise up from ashes and live better.
Stronger.

No net of guilt.
No net of anguish.

Instead,
A Strong-Hearted human being who is NOT a trembling bird,
But a human with…
An independent will
That won’t be bent or twisted into a warped thing ever again.

The only chains I will ever have,
will be the chains that bind my heart to the heart of God,
who loved me ,
who designed me ,
who gave himself for me,
and who saw each tear when they fell.

Golden bonds of love we have,
Holding us together.

And it is He who works in me still,
Both to desire,
And do,
His will.
Even as he’s given me my own,
And the freedom that goes with it.

God Bless Currer Bell.
And Jane.
And Helen Burns who died prematurely,
But not before she shone the light of true Christianity in the freezing corridors where religion cast its shadow.

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-leah

River

The sunrise was soft this morning, providing a gentle light that didn’t hurt the eyes as one drove toward the east.

I generally take the road that allows my car to move in curvy swervey patterns since it follows the shoreline of the river.

It’s a peaceful commute that changes visually with every season and it contributes beauty to my life.

I’d been on a stretch of road where the river was temporarily blocked from view.
I usually anticipate the moment when I make the curve and it appears again.

I rounded the bend and there it was, soft and warm with the morning light spreading over its surface.

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When the sun whispers.

Calm today, no blustery wind to cause ripples on the water,
It was an autumn-colored mirror, allowing the trees to look down and watch themselves change with the passage of time.

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Take time to reflect.

I pulled over.
I had to capture this moment on the waters of this beloved place which provides this turbulent season of my life with reliable serenity.

image

I didn’t take more than ten steps in any direction, yet the separate views were vastly different.

A lesson in perspective waited for me there, at the river’s edge.

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How do things look right now?
Do you like the view?
Shift your gaze…
Now, what do you see?

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Sunlight's warm embrace.

Light adds hope to darkened points of view, lacing the edges of our vision with a near heavenly glow, making ordinary not so ordinary anymore.

The sun rose higher.
The moment was over.
And I was once again nourished by a river which flows through the center of our town, existing to bless us all.

Faithful to touch our lives,
This river,
A picture of God for us,
A visual aid.

“I am here to give light to your shadowy world, and Life, if you want it.
Life abundant.
Come and walk with me.
Know peace.
Deep down, where you need it.
I am living water.
Come and drink,
And be filled.

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Light and Life and Water.

A soft gentle morning to lend perspective in troubling times.
I needed it.
The reminder.
There is a God, the Creator of all things,
And he is here to give us life
And light for the darker days.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

The Sting of an Insect, Blind With Rage

I have the right to dress in a white sheet and preach white supremacy, but I don’t.
I have the right to create art that desecrates the image of Christ and his disciples, but I don’t.
I have the right to do a lot of things in this country – and I will defend the rights of others, even when I do not agree with them, because of the men who bled and died to defend our freedom.

But it is my opinion that to engage in behavior that disrespects and provokes others to wrath by purposely desecrating a symbol or person they esteem – even if they wrongly esteem them – is an act of poor judgment.
For example, Mohammed – who was not a prophet – but instead, a horrible, misguided,and deceived man, has followers which should be taught the truth, and the truth is, Islam is a cult ruled by men who are not taught to control their passions.

In many countries, even this one, they drape their women in black, punishing them for their beauty, because they cannot control the lust of their own eyes, and as a culture, overseas, the majority are not taught to manage their tempers, so some allow themselves to be worked up into a (murderous) frenzy when they are offended.

The creation of events – such as the one that recently took place in Texas – are unproductive.
No one is being encouraged, edified, instructed or even converted to a better understanding of the militant blood-thirsty pedophile that Mohammed was, and the freedom of speech, while being exercised, is not being publicized in a very flattering light.
It is categorized in the “How to Pick a Fight”section.

Having a “Let’s use our artistic ability to mock this villain” contest, is not only a poor usage of our freedom of expression, but it is the opposite of wisdom.

Engaging in provocation for the “Because I can and you cannot stop me.” reason is beyond the realm of peace-making activity and into the realm of idiocy.

I do not condone the stifling of creativity – but one should question their motives.
Does one really care about the thousands upon thousands of people who are deceived into living a life of oppression?
Is ::that:: why something is being drawn or painted?

And while I do not condone the reactions and actions of the men who attempted to take lives, (who could?)
Nor can I approve of, or condone the stupidity that pulled those termites out of the woodwork, either.

Shove a stick in a beehive and you will get stung.
It is a simple law of nature.

I saw a beehive once, in Mexico, about ten years ago.
My uncle had one – a gigantic one – in an avocado tree on his property in the country, away from the city.

He warned us before going over to see it – he told us to make sure we didn’t go near it or allow the children near it.
We took great care, let me tell you.

It was one of the largest natural beehives I had ever seen – a truly beautiful and terrifying display of God’s creative ability – it was the picture of teamwork, cooperation, and living in harmony.

Yet it was a lethal community, capable of killing if one wrong move was made. Not because bees are mean, but because they defend blindly what they’ve worked to build.
Welcome to many sects of Islam.

We didn’t stand there to look at the beehive for very long.
Why flirt with death?

What was my uncle going to do with that beehive?
I don’t know.
Maybe nothing.
It was a job for professionals.

Again, welcome to ISIS – or Al Queda – or the militant sects that have found branches here in our country to build a “beehive” of their own. They are out of control, another job for professionals.

Can you see what I am getting at?

Choose wisely how you utilize your freedom of expression in this country.
The man who established the Islamic faith is no one to look up to –
But the bees are not aware of that.

If you want to educate the deceived – you don’t do it by taking a stick and slamming it into their hive.

– leah❤

Root Them Out

Today’s thoughts. 

I face painted a twin boy, once, whose twin had died.
He was four or five.
His mother told me in whispers that the brother died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
His father in prison.
He hit the child too hard in anger.

It is difficult to convey the turmoil and struggle for control as I painted the boy whose brother was killed,
trying to smile and be light-hearted while mom whispered a nightmarish story into my ear.

What they asked me to paint was the brother’s name on his arm. 
I did my job,
Compartmentalizing the horror, jamming my reaction into a box and shoving it down to contemplate later while I smiled and talked to the child whose arm was cradled in my hand.
The child condemned to a life without his twin by one angry man who blew it.

Ask Yourself, about the people in your charge…
– What type of person removes the blossom of a flower from its stem to crush the petals?
– What person cultivates a garden only to destroy it in a fit of temper?
Mommies?
Daddies?
When you are angry, how do you behave?
Husbands?
Wives?
How do you cultivate your garden?

God gave Adam a garden and he told him to care for it.
God has given one to you, too.
It is full of roses in bloom, dogwood trees with flowering branches, tulips and snapdragons and hardy mums…
How do you treat your loved ones when you’re angry?

Do you assault them?
With hands?
With words?
With shouting?

Consider the hard things today.
Look at yourself today.
Do not hide from You.

And remove the weeds you uncover.
Ruthlessly pull them out of the soil that is yours to care for. 
The health of your garden depends on it.

Seek the Master Gardener for assistance. 
Then rise up and walk.

Only a fool would turn to the most precious items in their life and destroy them in a fit of temper.

Let’s not be that fool.

The hard things.
The ugly things.
Face them.
Acknowledge them.
And Root. Them. Out.

– Leah

Be Steady

Being true to yourself.
That phrase used to confuse me.
Who isn’t honest with themselves? 
How can you hide from yourself?

Don’t answer the questions.
I’ve discovered the answers.

You have morals and you have standards.
They will be tested.
Will you betray your own heart?

Last night a friend I care for so deeply wrote to me and told me to “Be Steady.”
They would have no way of knowing that those two words are isolated quotes from my favorite Spiderman movie.

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They are words I actually live by.
Or try to…

-“Spiderman? Are you kooky?”
I am not.
(Okay, I am. But not right now.)

That movie is deep!
It addresses many challenges, struggles, and temptations we face in life, including being true to ourselves.

Peter’s Aunt May says this: 
“I believe there’s a hero in all of us, 
that keeps us honest, 
gives us strength, 
makes us noble, 
and finally allows us to die with pride, 
even though sometimes –> we have to be steady,
and give up the thing we want the most. 
Even our dreams.”

That scene in the movie is powerful.
Those words are powerful.

I have dreams.
A lot of them.
I am already a mother, my first and favourite calling.
But,
I’d love to be a lawyer for children,
and advocate for them.
A child psychologist. 
A social worker.
A teacher.
An artist.
A singer. 
A dancer.
A poet laureate. 
The author of the next _Color Purple_.
A best friend. Loyal to the end.
A true servant of God, when no one is looking,
And the best life partner a man hoped existed even while he didn’t believe she was out there.

(Yes, I mean wife. But people have different perceptions of the word, and a wife is an equal partner in the longest three-legged race two people ever signed up for. They’re supposed to help each other to the finish line, not bicker and stumble all the way there. I could write pages on that concept, alone.)

But we have to be steady.

What is the ultimate goal before you?
Plot. Your. Course.
Do not allow temptations to divert your attention from the ultimate goal.
Do not allow seductive offers to entice you to betray your own morals.

The happiness of many depends on you.
Let the words of Aunt May, and my beloved friend, and now my own mouth settle into your soul. 

“Be steady.”

– leah

https://youtu.be/TVX-cUJGdxs

The Perfect Dress

Deep things.
I have been thinking about weddings lately. 
The dress, really.
And the preparation. 
How God tells us to be like brides, without spot or wrinkle, and he isn’t talking about our skin. 
We are to cultivate souls of rich character and integrity.
Purity. 

And I thought about us as women, as young brides.
Any age, I guess.
We have hope chests and wedding dress dreams.
But how much time to we spend on our souls?

I mean, when we walk down the aisle we want to present our future mates with the most beautiful self imaginable.
But what is in our soul?
How do we look inside?

What are we really presenting to that man at the altar?

I’m not married.
I was, but I was immature and brought many bad habits into the union.
Sure, I saw the writing on the wall, and I started attending counseling, but not before I hurt some people.

How blessed my family would have been had I truly prepared.
Had I truly focused on weeding bad roots out and planting good seeds in their place.

I do that now.
I have children to raise and I want to be the best example I can be.

One day, my single friends, a man or woman will want whatever ingredients you are made of to be in their every-single-days, and when that time comes, you will want to present them with a healthy soul, rich in integrity, genuine in word and deed, and cultivated with good healthy habits.
No Spot.
No Wrinkle.

It isn’t about the dress, the tux, the ceremony or the dinner afterward.

It’s about the soul inside of you.

…Just Thoughts…
~leah

For A Purpose

Thinking about the journey today.
Through life.
Through trials.
To God.
Then onward,
Through life.
Through trials.
With God.

How fortunate we are to have found him.
To have bowed the knee,
Surrendered the soul,
And said “Yes” when He called.

There are dots on the timeline of my life when I searched for him.
There are dots on the timeline of my life when I ran from him.
There is a BC and AD, (Before Christ and After Discovery) mark on my 18th year.
And then marks on the line showing failures, victories, and breakthroughs.
With him as companion.

But I want one thing more.
I want a bolder timeline.
Thicker.
Representing a strong life
With many little marks
Representing souls
Souls that found him
After stopping on their own journey
To ask me for directions.

There are always areas
That need improvement.
True intimacy with the living God
Should be top priority.

Then intimacy with his creation
As we tweak the thorns off of our stems.
We want to be inhaled,
Enjoyed,
By God and Man;
Therefore, the thorns must go,
So that no one bleeds
As a result of getting close enough
To touch.

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A Fragrant Invitation

Enjoy your celebration today,
Wherever you are,
Whomever you are with,
Or not with.

He who matters most is there.
And what more can we ask, really?
Than to be connected to the One
Who made us
And loved us
On purpose.

Then saved us for one.

God Bless…

~ leah

You Have Not Lived….

Until you’ve heard the words,
“Mommmmm! Josiah put hair removal creme all over his hair!”.

Yes.
You read that correctly.
My ten year old son rubbed, not one, but two applications of hair removal creme into his beautiful sandy brown hair.

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Terror in a tube.

When his sister got married, she and her bridesmaids were primping and beautifying every inch of skin, and this tiny tube is the only trace of evidence that my home was “Spa for a Day”, last July.

But I’m not thinking of that happy morning right now.
Right now, I am running toward the bathroom and yelling,
“What?!? What did you just say?!?”
That was my calm, cool, and collected response to the 16 year old, also known as,  “The Informer”, thank goodness.

I rush in, trying to remain calm, picturing clumps of hair falling out of my son’s scalp until he looks like a like a flea-infested mangey stray, while I try to calm down.
But I feel it.
I feel panic rise within me, not for his hair…that stuff grows back, but for his eyes.

I call him into the bathroom.
“Do you know what you’ve done?
Do you understand the gravity of this situation?”
I feel the screamer inside of me begging to be let out of the dungeon I’ve banished her to.
I feel tension in my voice.
I am at war with the old me I left behind so long ago.

Fear and incredulity have joined hands and they are racing through my mind like it’s their amusement park.

Hurry,  Alma, hurry!”, I silently urge.

“Just strip. Strip out of everything.”, I tell my son.

Reach for a washcloth so he can cover his developing body – preserve his dignity,
Turn on the water – get it warm but not hot,
Reach for a towel to cover his eyes…

“Step in. Turn around. Sit. Scootch forward. I have to rinse right away. Lie back. Cover your body. Do. not. open. your. eyes.”
I am in a hurry but I am not yelling and this is a good thing.
I am relaying the danger into which he placed himself.
I am wondering what type of discipline this will merit.
He is ten, after all.
He knew what he was doing.

I rinse and apply shampoo – then repeat,
watching for strands of hair to break free.
None break free.
Silent prayers sent heavenward, “Thank God.”.

We finish and he steps out.
I wrap his body in a towel and tell him he was fortunate. Very.
I make small talk. “You know, when you wash your hair you need to focus right here…” to calm the situation.
All is well.
Healthy eyes.
Healthy hair.
Healthy hearts.

No one lost their temper.
No one was belittled or humiliated.
Every one is okay.

I remember in the Bible when Adam and Eve blew it.
When Cain killed Abel.
I think of God and his reactions.
Calm questions.
“Adam, where are you?”
“Cain, where is your brother?”

The perfect Father did not rant and rave and scream, even when very bad things happened.
I can almost hear the quiet sighs of resignation  and disappointment, though.
And he disciplined.
But he didn’t withhold himself from his creation.

I try to model my parenting after the Lord’s.
Children know when they’ve done wrong.

No lecture necessary, the learning happens in their hearts when the actions have come to light.

My son is okay.
He’s in trouble, but he’s okay.
We’ve lived through another adventure.
And no one is worse for the wear.

Except, perhaps, for my hair.
I may have a few more grays.

Peace to you.

~ leah