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

The Strongest House

When you want to run away,
But you don’t,
Because you know when you get
Wherever it is you are going,
You will still be there,

That is when you are growing.

When you look around
And evaluate the actions of others
Without allowing emotion,
Need,
Or desperation
To cloud your vision,

That is when the scales are falling from your eyes.

When you realize
That some will always choose themselves first,
And consider your heart last,
And when you allow your disbelieving mind
The permission to accept this sorrowful truth,
To absorb it into your psyche
Until it is as much a part of you
As the cells which carry life’s blood
Into your heart,

That is when you will find true discernment.

And when you choose solitude
Over a companion

who does not value your gifts
Your heart
Your soul,
Or the Midas Touch within your fingers
To turn dull things to gold,

You will have found it.
You will have found the solid rock
Upon which to build your house.

And it won’t matter
How many wolves come
To huff
And to puff
And to blow your house down.

It
will
not
budge. ‚ô°

Because you used the best materials
The thickest mortar
The sturdiest bricks
And no one
Will ever
Be able
To
Hurt you
(Like the others did)
Again.

You discovered
The value
Of
Your self.

– leah

Stormy Weather

When I was young, maybe 18, I stood on top of a hill in Manchester, MI, and watched a summer storm come in.

I stood in the rain and wind until my aunt made me come into the house for threat of lightning.

It was thrilling and scary.
I felt so small
And so ALIVE.

After a more recent rainstorm,
I was thinking about how affected the earth was.

The atmosphere was soft with a warm rosy glow.
The leaves on every tree, saturated.
The calm was thick,
And the surface of the world felt clean.

Rinsed,
Helpless to do anything but yield the power of the force that swept over its form.

It reminded me of lovemaking.

The slow beginning,
the softness of the rain’s caress,
Followed by increased intensity,
Thunder, lightning, passionate winds.

The earth, like a woman’s form yielding,
Gladly,
Gratefully,
Receiving,
Much needed attention.
Her body’s thirst, quenched
Every rose bush, lilac, tree.

Then, things grow quiet,
Thunder is distant,
Hushed.

There is peace,
Calm,
And evidence of something having left its mark on the world.
Like a woman’s world.
Now altered,
By her lover.

I wrote this poem of a woman standing in the rain.

The poem does not convey my experience on the day that I stood in the rain as well as I’d like.
Nor does it convey the depth of beauty in being loved by a thoughtful and a giving man.

But it came from the soul.

So I share it here,
Even though it isn’t Poetry Tuesday.
ūüėČ

STORM

I can see it coming,
Smell it in the air,
Feel the breeze on my face
Change to wind in my hair.

Soft rain
kisses my arms
Causing goose bumps.
Tenderness.

Wind moving over and around me,
Powerfully,
I welcome
Each caress.

Now thunder,
Darkness,
Lightning,
I endure it all,
Yielding,
The recipient
Of torrential rainfall.

Unafraid.

Storm reaches crescendo
And begins to quiet down.
I linger,
Listening hard,
For the sound
Of Thunder
Rumbling,
Softly now,
Filling corners of the sky.

I shiver.
I am drenched.
Sated,
*sigh…

Exhilarating thing,
The way a storm moves in
Captivating one
With power, light, and noise,
Possessing late night hour
With its presence, touch,
And voice.

Leaving the impressions
Of its moments on my form,
Raindrops on my lips, hair, skin.
Establishing its memory
Next to yours
Deep within.

Feet on pavement
turn toward home.
My mind, toward you.
The way you love me –

Exquisitely,
Thoughtfully.
Powerfully,
Thoroughly.

Darling,
You are storm,
too.

ajp
1/2016

Win their heart.

When I compare the woman I am today with the woman I was when I was young, I grieve.
Young me was downright mean at times.
I’m sorry for those days.
Life has a way of teaching us what matters.
Who matters.

You sit on the couch, involved in a heated argument, and your mouth is full of words that are just as effective as bullets.
You know they will destroy.
Rip, tear, wound the psyche of your opponent.
Make them bleed.
No, not bleed, hemorrhage.

In the past I would open my mouth.
Today, I swallow the words and respond slowly.

98% of the time. ‚ô°

Young women today…
I caution you.
Choose words carefully,
Use them rarely,
And choose silence frequently,
Rather than blurt out a sharp retort.

You may win a battle,
But the bloody aftermath you find yourself mopping up,
Removes the thrill of victory.

The only victory,
The true triumph,
Is to win, not an argument,
But the very heart of the one with whom you are arguing.

– 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.

image

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.

image

-leah

Fleeting Life

Story.
I remember one of the lessons I learned about the human heart.
I remember when I learned that love didn’t obey rules and regulations.
One form of love, anyway.

We met and it was instantaneous.
The draw, the attraction, the connection.

Neither of us were models of perfection when it came to the human form,
But each mind was a good fit for the other,
And nothing else seemed to matter.

There was no flash of lightning,
But there was electricity.

And impediments.

A great divide separating us,
A chasm,
A breach,
A canyon.

And no bridge.

It doesn’t happen to everyone,
But it does happen to some.

The meeting of someone you know would be a soul mate,
If they didn’t already belong to someone else.

I recall his saying, when we discussed the apparent connection,
that he was afraid we would end up hurting,
And I answered, “It’s inevitable. We will hurt, because we met and we already know we have to say goodbye.”

And we did.

Funny.
We look at monarch butterflies and marvel at their beauty, but forget about their brief life-span.

image
Exquisite Unkind Realities

Delicate wings and vibrant colors of a living thing that faces swift death through no choice of its own,
except that it is the proper order of things.

Noble.
Righteous.
Pure.

In a way, I’m blessed.
I experienced “it”.
The thing people talk about over coffee and gaze upon on silver screens and read about in books.
And in a way, I’m not blessed.
Because I never got to savor or embrace it, or enjoy it.

Just like the monarch.
Hard to catch,
but wonderful to catch a glimpse of
Before it stops its fluttering
For good.

– 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.

image

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