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

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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.

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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.”

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

As You Think

“As you think, you travel.
As you love,  you attract.
You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.
You cannot escape the result of your thoughts;
But you can endure and learn, accept and be glad.

You will realize the vision of your heart, not the idle wish.
You will gravitate toward that which you secretly most love.
Into your hands will be placed the exact result of your thoughts; you will reveive that which you earn; no more no less.

Whatever your present environment may be,
You will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your vision – your ideal.”

– Source unknown

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

To The Man Who Loved Me To Christ

To the man who spoke to me about Jesus when I was so skeptical.
The man who told me to read the book of John first.
The man who sent me the handwritten letter  witnessing to me.
The man who was standing behind me, whose face I saw when I stood up from the altar and turned…
A changed girl, forever,

Thank you.

Wordgirl is quiet.
She has no words to convey the magnitude of her thankfulness.

I remember lying on a carpeted kitchen floor as a bitter, angry 18-year-old,
Talking on the phone with this remarkable handsome man I met and liked,
And there was something about this man,
Something persuaded me to open up about the very private things I kept to myself regarding God.

His soft voice.
His temperate patient way.
His solid responses.
He was a safe place.

The memory returns powerfully and tears stream down my cheeks.
I was lost, then…
I was in trouble…

Now, I am grateful.
I don’t take this for granted.
I don’t take any of this lightly.

This is no misplaced hero worship.
You are human, a living soul of flaws and perfection mixed together,

But you knew the value of my soul before I did.

It was God who straightened what was twisted inside of me.
But it was you who said,
“There’s someone I want to introduce you to.”.

Nothing will ever change that.
Nothing.

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It was you who said, "There's someone I want to introduce you to."