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

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

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."

“We Are Going To Be Together!”

This morning on the radio, I listened as the staff surprised a mother and her children with Christmas gifts.
Their story:
They lost the father/husband to cancer a while back. If it wasn’t tragic enough that this family had to bury the daddy, their mother was diagnosed with cancer.
Though she fought it valiantly – it began taking over – so the doctors tried new radical treatments as a last ditch effort.
It failed.
This woman had to sit down with her children and inform them that they only had a couple of months together.
This is their last Christmas with their mother.
They will leave Michigan to live in Georgia with their aunt upon her passing, leaving behind everything, the only life they’ve ever known and their mommy and daddy.

I’m bawling.
I’m bawling in the car in a parking lot.
We drive past homes every day of our lives. And we don’t stop to think about the stories being lived behind those front doors.

As I was driving down Telegraph Road last week I noticed a home with a front door painted a soft yellow, and it was so homey and welcoming that I thought, “I think I will paint my door a distinct color like that when I have an actual house.”

But I didn’t think about the people inside or even offer a prayer that God watch over them and keep them.
Why not?
Prayer is effortless.

This Holiday season, I strongly urge you to look outward and away from yourself and material things.
During the parties, during the holiday dinners and gatherings, just ENJOY EACH OTHER.

My twenty-one year old daughter – when she telephoned me to inform me that she and her brother put their dollars together so that she could come home for Christmas – blurted something out in her excitement that stayed with me.

“I don’t even care about presents, Mom! We are going to be together!”

Yes, baby.
“We are going to be together.”

Of Whom The World Was Not Worthy

Tonight.
It is tonight!
This is the day I meet the Man and Woman who started the school in Uganda, beneath a tree.

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My heart is already tender.
I already know I will cry.

I will meet, and hug, and touch people who have used their American “plenty” to benefit others far, far away.  The Bible speaks of people like this when it says, “Those of whom the world was not worthy…”

I’ve a soft spot in my heart for missionaries.
If you read my bio, on Facebook, you will see that I attended a school, thinking, one day…

This evening’s affair brings a memory out of my depths…
I will tell you about it!

My modern day heroine is named Lillian Trasher. She is a woman who never meant to start an orphanage, in Egypt, but did, because people kept giving their babies and toddlers to her.

She didn’t »want« to.
She had no real resources.
In fact, she turned a child away once, an infant, because she had no milk for the poor little thing.

The adults who brought the infant told her if she did, they would just leave it in the street and let the carrion-eating birds have it.

She didn’t believe them.
But that is exactly what they did.
The cries, and worse, that she heard in the middle of the night fueled her resolve to never turn a child away again, and her orphanage was the first to be birthed on Egyptian sands.

Well, one day, just about, oh… five years ago, I was at a wedding.
A pastor I knew of, whose wife I had heard at a public speaking engagement before, was there.
She and He work in Dearborn, Michigan with Muslims who convert to Christianity.

They have death threats being made against them all the time –  it is a way of life for them, but they continue.

Well, our place cards put us together.
We were at a round table, and we were seated boy-girl, so his wife sat to my left, but her husband, the Pastor sat to my immediate left.

We shook hands.
I don’t know when it started, but I began shaking hands with both my hands when I meet people – clasping my new acquaintance’s hand warmly. It’s not a hug, but it is not so formal, either. I like looking into people’s eyes and connecting.

We made small talk as the evening began.
We talked about their heart for, and their vision for Islamic citizens here, and their labor as they reach out to them with the truth of the Christian Faith.

During our conversation, I learned he was from Egypt.

“Oh! You’re from Egypt!”, I said.
One of the women I admire most in the world lived there. She’s my heroine.”
“Really,” he answered.
“And who is that?”

“She had an orphanage there. Her name is Lillian Trasher. Have you heard of her?”

“I have.”, he said.
“She raised me.”



My eyes looked at his forearm and hand on the table. The hand I just held in both my own, moments ago. It was too overwhelming.


I held in my hands the hand of the man that touched Lillian’s hand every day.

I began to cry.

Tears flooded out of my eyes as emotion flooded my heart at the sight of this grown man who lived daily to benefit others, just as the woman who raised him also lived daily to benefit others.

I saw the hand of a child in Lillian’s hand.
I saw a little boy, on Lillian’s lap.
I saw a helpless boy, once an orphan, now grown into a good strong person, A Pastor!
A pastor who was burdened with the plight of Muslim women living oppressed – in a land known for offering others the  greatest freedom the world has ever known.
Here he was, reaching out to them.
Living for God.
Helping them, helping their children.
In the face of death threats against his family.

Here sat before me the fruit of a woman’s labor from thousands of miles away.
Not just ANY woman.

One of whom the world was not worthy.

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Lillian Trasher

She’s passed away, now.
Gone.
I could never meet her.
But here was one of her sons, sitting right next to me.
And he let me hold his hand.

I kept apologizing for my tears.
“I’m sorry. I’m just so overwhelmed that a woman I’ve read about, admired, and aspired to be like, raised you and you’re sitting right here…
Right here!
You knew her intimately.  You touched her every day!  I’m staring at the fruit of her life. It’s not a small thing.”

He told me stories of their singing Bible songs as children, and of their relationship.
And of her love for him.
That was my favorite part.

Do you think your love has no impact?
Never think that.

Looking back, recalling what he shared, I realize, I know…
Those things were treasure.

When a person dips into their soul and gives you bits and pieces of it, they are gemstones of the finest quality, and I hope you treat them as such, my friends.
Regard those things as pearls, for they are not easily found, nor are they easily given.

That entire experience was a gift from God.
A gift.
A kiss from my Heavenly Father intended  just for me.

One of those occasions when He whispers sweetly in one’s ear, “I see you. I know the most intimate parts of you.” and you aren’t ashamed, because here He is blessing you, which means He adores you.
Like a good Father who adores and embraces the little girl that climbs into his lap.

He orders our steps, Beloved.
God orders our steps.
Let no one tell you He does not.

That’s kind of what happened with this school in Uganda.
And tonight, I meet them.
I will meet the Berrigans, who saw a need  and did not turn away from it.

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Who knows what lovely experiences will unfold, when I get to meet two more of those who grace this earth with their presence doing good, even while it spins in the chaotic mess caused by evil men.

My tummy is a-flutter.
My heart is the tenderest of things.
Who knows what wondrous things may come of this?

I will write about it and share if something magical happens…

Something magical already has…

Leah

Emptying Our Own Baggage

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The first time I saw this picture, a while ago, I thought of a committed boyfriend/girlfriend  who “loved you enough”, and “Oh, how sweet…”,
But not so anymore.
Now I think two things.

One.
Sometimes you do need help unpacking, because the item you think is normal and belongs in that psyche of yours, is not normal, and a person, (friend) who is healthier than you can point it out gently.
In love.
…Because they want to see you thrive.
God himself will show you, as you seek His face, read His word, and pray – even journal.

Two.
This is an immediate and harsh reaction.

“Sit down in front of your baggage and clean it up yourself.
Don’t saddle some poor schmuck with that mess.”

Friendly thoughts….aren’t they?
Harsh, but necessary, for some who are habitually dependent on others to bail them out.

Growing up, maturing, in an imperfect world, has us at a disadvantage.
We are fallen humans who blow it, raised by fallen humans who blew it, and we end up with broken items in our suitcases/baggage.

But the answer is not in finding another person who “loves you enough…”.
That removes the whole premise of loving.

We cleave to those whom we love because we need them, yes, but they need us too, and our first thought should be,
“How may I bless you, today?”
Not,
“How can you help me, today?”

The majority of the time, we really Don’t need someone to help us unpack.

Yes, there are seasons of life when one needs a counselor, but for the most part, it is up to each individual to sit down in front of the luggage that is chock-full of dysfunction, and begin the arduous task of pulling things out on their own, so that one may then, rise up in strength to be a blessing to others whom they draw into relationship with themselves.

I am a firm believer in the fact that we should cultivate our own soul.
»Nourish it.
»Tend it well.
»Prepare it to bear fruit.
»Improve upon our character daily, so that we would be capable of relationship with those who desire a healthy one.
Friendships.
Familial.
Romance too…

What can we contribute to another’s life?
How can we meet their needs?

That should be our goal.

“Find someone that loves you enough to help you unpack”?
No, my friends…
Leave that to God. He is faithful to send those who are strong enough to contribute health to your life.

Rather,
Set yourself to unpacking your mess right now, instead of latching onto someone and relying on them to help you do it.

When you find someone you love, you want to have a very light suitcase to fill with memories made by two who took the time to prepare themselves for one another before they ever met.

Something to consider…

Leah

– Solitude and The Least of These –

I chose solitude today, for Thanksgiving.

My daughter, is in Florida at school.
She spent the day working in a soup kitchen with her peers, so I am not worried for her, knowing that ministering to others has not only distracted her from missing us here at home, but has also enriched her character.

My sons are with their father.
I knew the security in keeping the tradition of “going to grandma’s” was what they needed.

I chose solitude on purpose,

But what about those who do not have the choice?

I saw quite a few people on the near-deserted streets of Detroit today, while walking to my car, and I had an innate sense that many of these people
had solitude thrust upon them.

Several, in particular, stand out in my memory.
One woman stood in a brown, scratchy-looking, full length coat – her back to me.
She was pressed up against a tall chain-link fence, her hands at shoulder level, fingers clutching…
She was the image of a soul forlorn.

I wanted to take her picture to preserve that image, but I could not exploit her emotional state.

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And there were others…

As I continued walking, my mind then  wandered to friends of mine who are celebrating this holiday without their husband or wife, mother or father,  brother or sister, or child…
and my heart was moved for them.

Then, I thought of those sitting at a crowded table. Those who sit among many while feeling completely alone, and again my heart was moved with compassion.

What of those who did not choose to be alone?
They are out there.
Pray for them.

Jesus told us plainly, that a day would come, when he would reject some who thought they were his servants, because  He “never knew” them.
“Lord, when did we see you hungry, or in prison…?”
He says, ” If you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it for me.”
We must reach out to “the least of these”.

The lowest.
The non-famous
The unimportant.
The forgotten.
Those who did not choose solitude for the day that every one in America makes plans that hinge on the word “together”.

We are blessed.
We are blessed with one another.
With companionship.
Laughter.
Friendships.
Family.

But some are not.

Today, I swung into a restaurant that was open on the way home, and as I was paying my bill, a woman walked in that I recognized from another local establishment where I work. She is elderly. She is hunched over with severe arthritis that causes her to work hard to lift her head to look forward. She walks very slowly with a cane.

When I see her, at the other restaurant where I work painting faces, I always get the door for her coming in and going out and we exchange pleasantries. Today, when I saw her, I knew this was the day I would sit with her and visit.

She is ninety-one years old.
Alone on Thanksgiving Day.
She has nieces and nephews – but she never married and has no children.
She told me stories about where she came from, and I told her some of mine.She shared with me some of her adventures and wanted to know if I was Catholic. I told her how I found my way to God.
We learned each other’s names and enjoyed one another.
It was rich.

Then another sweet elderly woman with a very bent spine came over and began to speak with us. She was a spitfire, let me tell you, her blue eyes flashing with light and life. When I told her about my passion for this nation, I said, “I bet we’d have some lively conversations!” She asked me, “Are you a fan of Obama?”
I answered with a smile, and a resounding “No, I am not.”.
She instantly replied, “Then, we sure would, because I am.” And we laughed.
She was so much fun.

She was meeting a gentleman friend for dinner, so when he arrived, she left and my new friend and I were alone again.

When things quieted down, I paid for her dinner, which she did not care for, understandably, but I asked her to please let me do it, and then I walked her to her car.

I know I will see her again. She knows where I work. I am looking forward to more stories. You can’t talk to someone who is ninety-one years old and not ask for stories!

I’m glad God caused our paths to cross.

Tonight, when you have a quiet moment, close your eyes and whisper a prayer of thanks to your Heavenly Father for that modern day Eden he has placed you in.
Do you think your family happened by accident?
No, beloved one.
He has surrounded you with the ones you have near you. He has given you good gifts.

Close your eyes and send your heart to heaven in a kiss. And while you have your Father’s attention, speak to His heart, and ask him to provide, for those who are lonely, a sense of His manifest presence, so that they would know He is with them. And ask Him to send them a friend.

They had good gifts too, at one time.
They just lost them somehow.
It’s not for us to know how, or why, just to love them.

Jesus said if we have done it to the least “of these, my brethren”, then we’ve done it unto Him.
My brethren…
He sees them as his brothers.
His family.
We can take some time to pray for his family, can’t we?

We are blessed.
We are blessed with one another.
With companionship.
Laughter.
Friendships.
Family.

But some are not.

Take some time today to pray for them.
And then rise up, go to your loved ones, and

let time stop for just a moment

while you absorb the atmosphere of that paradise that the Lord has placed you in.

He gives good gifts to his children for a reason.
Enjoy them.
To thoroughly enjoy a gift is the best expression of heartfelt gratitude that exists.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Leah

Love Unending

Love.
It isn’t something one can turn on and off like a lightswitch.
It just isn’t.
Either its there…or it is not.

You can feed it.
Or you can starve it.
But once those roots take hold in a heart, they’re difficult to remove.
And why would you want to remove them?

Even if you love someone you cannot be near…would you not pray for, and hope for their good, wherever they are?
Of course you would.
You would allow that love to flow through you.

Even if your love is unrequited…
That love is painful.
Many of us have experienced that…

Even if your love is unrequited, wouldn’t you still love that person with your actions?
Again, praying for them, for their happiness and joy, and for them to have a fulfilling life EVEN IF it doesn’t include you…

Yes it hurts.
Love COSTS us something.
That’s why its valuable.

My love doesn’t dry up like a stream during a drought.
I guess because its fed by an underground spring.

Maybe God fills me with love.
Or…
Maybe God gives everyone of us the capacity to love abundantly and without measure.

I don’t know.
I just know that I can’t turn it on and off like a light switch.

And even though it may cause the heart to swell with aching…or longing…and it does, often.

I let it live within me.
I do.

Because even when it’s accompanied by sorrow …
There is no life without love.

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~ When you are in the Wilderness ~

 

We can find beauty in the most barren of surroundings.

Today during a blessed conversation with a person whom I consider to be a true friend, I remembered Jacob from the Bible, and how the Lord visited him in the wilderness even though he had just deceived his father and “stolen” his brother’s birthright.

He bargained for it, we all know, but we also know that Esau would never have given it up.

He went hunting when his dad told him to get ready to receive his blessing, remember?

It occurred to me; We humans screw up so often. We, like Jacob, make so many mistakes when we act on our own “wisdom”, but God is greater.  His ways really aren’t our ways, for He visited a frightened thief in the wilderness when that thief was at his lowest.

I detest being in the wilderness, but I always discover a new facet of God’s personality there.
A new depth to His Grace; 

A more faithful love than the one I knew before.

So I am sharing with you. 
Maybe you really blew it.
Maybe you are definitely in the wrong, and are suffering for it.

Be Encouraged, dear one.
God is able to meet you where you are at.

He is the God of all the earth; Yes, even the wilderness.
And He is the God of those who find themselves wandering therein.


I hope this song ministers to you.
Clint Brown – Mercy and Grace ♫