Open scars


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Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photos

I burned myself recently on the heating element of my oven…. yes, cooking accidents are my forte.  And that burn was a doozy.  And as I’ve watched it heal recently, I began to think about it.  I thought about how I hadn’t covered it with a bandaid, and I hadn’t even really doctored it.  I just kept it clean and watched the skin began to re-construct the layers that had been melted.

And then I thought about what a perfect metaphor and reminder it was of scars in general and the struggles we endure in this life.  And I thought…. What if we didn’t hide our scars?  So what if I wasn’t able to keep my left index finger from scarring.  A blemish- the horror of horrors! What if each time I saw it, I was reminded of that painful memory?  And what if I didn’t try to cover it up, make it heal prettier or sugar coat what really happened to that piece of skin? Why not leave the scars and the stories on myself of all the things I’ve experienced or lived through in this short life on earth.

And just like letting my skin scar, I thought a little more.  What if we were more open about our blemishes, struggles, failures and imperfections.  I know we claim pretty openly to be imperfect, but do we really believe that and own it?  Or do we still feel we are trying to reach some unattainable goal the world or culture has set for us? In a world fixated on perfections, fancy creams, liposuction, tanning beds, hair dyes and spanks, it’s rather hard to want to accept and be ok with the shortcomings, blemishes and limitations we all deep down realize we have.  And to that I say- stop it right now, self and world.  I’m human, and I struggle.  I know others have had their share of struggles too.  But what if it was ok.  Ok to not uphold some image of feminine fabulousness. Ok to be not ok at times.  Ok to not always know what the future holds.  Ok to show your imperfections to others.  Ok to not try to cover up every little so-called flaw on your face.  God loves this mess.  He blessed me and many others with creativity, time, talent and heart that wants to find joy in the world around me.  So it’s time I, and you, stopped listening to the voices of negativity that try to tell us to cover up things that aren’t perfectly perfect.  Accept the imperfections, work on the things you can and be really thankful for God’s grace as he fills in the broken pieces of your vessel 🙂

~leah

 

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A letter to the women of the world (and music industry)


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Dear Women of the world,

You are more than your body.  Showing off your body doesn’t garner respect like you want to believe it does.  You want respect and to be treated as beautiful and smart?  Don’t sell your body through images and videos.  Share your art, share your music, and share your talents, but don’t share every inch of your skin with the entire world.  Considering the image you present is important- more than you will ever know.  Whether you want it or not, you brand yourself every single day by the clothes you wear, the way you talk and how you carry yourself.  Don’t want to be judged?  Harsh reality- in a world saturated with images and everyone on social media, there are a million eyes looking at you and you will be judged.  Don’t take that responsibility lightly.  I won’t name drop as badly as I want to, but you musicians, artists and actresses know who you are- stop it.  Stop making us think that it’s ok to throw our bodies in people’s faces whether they like it or not.  Stop making us think we have to be a specific size.  We don’t.  Beauty is found in all shapes and sizes.  Stop telling us that you’re a feminist and then propagate a less than respectful image to the public.  Don’t kid yourself because you aren’t kidding us.

May we women stop talking so negatively to ourselves and about ourselves, learn to smile more often, spend time on inner beauty, and worry less about what people think of us and more about what God thinks about us.

~lme

It’s No. 41 day!!


IMG_1216I have had the pleasure of meeting up with Tara Clapper recently, founder of No 41, an organization out of Rwanda by way of Nashville. Tara’s story is amazing. After traveling to Rwanda for mission work at a young age, she began to see a need and found a way to help.  Here is the Story of No 41, and I hope you will find it as encouraging and full of hope as I have found…

When No.41 started, there were, roughly, 100 young adults over the age of 18 living in the Noel Orphanage. With no family and limited resources, the prospect of university or becoming gainfully employed was low. Along with that, confidence was low, dreams were small and hope was almost non-existent. It was important, not only to provide a means of sustainable employment doing a culturally relevant trade for these girls, but also to remind them that they were created for a great purpose, by an even greater God. We all have been given gifts and talents and, once realized, we should spend those helping others and that is where the feeding program came in.  In our village there are three secondary schools, grades 7-12, and these students go to school all day, most without eating. The schools, generally, offer a 20-minute break for lunch where children who live close enough or have money, may go home to go to the market to eat. Most do not.

All that has transpired at No.41 is beyond our wildest dreams. We have had ten girls move themselves out of the orphanage and we now have 19 enrolled in university. We have career fairs and business trainings, bible study and English class. I never believed this couldn’t happen, but I never imagined it would happen like this. No.41 is a testament to all that God wants to do in you and through you, if you’ll just say, yes. -Tara

Tara and I have discussed some joint ventures in the future involving music and her non-profit, so stay tuned for some future announcements!  So here’s my call to action- today is No 41 day. She is asking everyone to take what they would have spent (I know, I’m late with my blog post) on lunch (or dinner!) and give to this organization.  I invite you to read more about her and all the great work she is doing.  We have been discussing some exciting future events for No 41 and myself, so stay tuned!

Instead of April Fool’s Day- let’s consider today No. 41 day- a day where we can create change, do good and help others!  To donate or purchase other items for this cause, click here!

~lme

True gifts


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The truest gift is not chosen by the receiver but bestowed by the Giver.”

I created this quote after contemplating a conversation I recently had with a coworker, Jon.  Jon and I were discussing holiday gifts.  He said he found it odd that people make lists to tell people what they want.  He said that a gift is something that the other person gives you and part of that gift is figuring out why they felt you might have wanted that gift or what the message might be in the gift.

Thinking back on that conversation, I realized that our talents and gifts, much like a holiday gift, are something that we should see as having been bestowed on us.  We should not look at what others have been given and say- I wish so much I had that gift instead of what I have been given.  Each of us has a talent, an offering, something we can contribute to society and share with others.  Our Maker infused each of us with these wonderful talents and part of our calling in life is to determine what some of those strongest gifts may be.  If we do not use those gifts for good, or if we aren’t grateful for them, we are devaluing the gift on some level.

And as my mother once told me when I was too proud to accept something from her… “Rejecting the gift saddens the giver.”

May we all be thankful and work with our gifts and may we also be people characterized by giving.

~lme

Days after a 30th Birthday


photo (8)As I thought about my twenties reminiscently last week, I realized something that brought me to tears.  I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.  I have cultivated so many friendships, experienced adventures and cultures, made strides in person character growth, felt the pain of difficult moments, learned how to push myself weary for people I cared about and beliefs I held, served in foreign lands, became a part of something bigger than myself, tackled my dreams, completed goals that were difficult to attain, graduated from college, cooked with and for those who I have loved and tried to make my own impact in God’s kingdom.

And as I look back, I’m not sad that I was single.  I have such a beautiful decade of amazing adventures and stories to share with others someday.  I’m so thankful to have experienced life and learned lessons that will make me better qualified to show true love to another individual.  Love isn’t about all the warm fuzzies.  It’s about putting forth the time and effort when it’s difficult.  Love is about reaching out even when your hand gets bit.  Love is about being there even when there are a million places in the world you’d rather be.  Love is something that holds back in times but also walks onward too.  It can also be walking away when it is time to leave it be at that point in time and walk on alone for now.

I don’t have many regrets at 30.  The ones I do have, well I still have time to work on putting them in the “no regrets” bin.  I prepared myself much better for my 30th birthday.  I am aware of the shortness of my life as I have now officially found 2 grey hairs on my head- what?  I’ve begun to realize what things are most important to me.  As my friend group grows more intimate, it it also becomes more genuine and full of quality.  I’ve learned to say no.  I’ve learned some things about human nature that are both disheartening as well as hopeful.  And I am always learning, changing, growing and breathing in the world of my Maker.

So here’s to the 30s and what they hold.  May we all appreciate every day as it comes.

~lme

Freedom in the Fall


There is something different in the air at the end of September. There’s a crispness like an apple and a hush like a fireside glow. New connections with new people give me hope. The promise of new opportunities and new adventures and a life to be led in front of me pull me along my pathway of light.  Through growth, you begin to fear that you will never feel alive or happy again. But slowly a raw heart begins to realize something is there, something of a kernel of possibility.

Promises, promises the people cry

And you know you aren’t scared to die.

In the quiet darkness of the night

You feel closer to a better life.

Have a wonderful weekend enjoying the fleeting days of warm summer as the Fall is headed our way 🙂  Thank you for reading, and check out new show dates on my other page at the tab at the top of this blog.  If you’re interested in booking a house show, feel free to email me at leahemusic@gmail.com

~lmeflowers

A sailing we will go


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“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” ~ Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Last week, I had my first experience to try my hand at sailing.  The Learn at the Helm program is an excellent opportunity for any Nashville-ers who are interested in the sport of sailing.  With our crew composed of our skipper, Fred, his son Brandon, Paulo from Italy and a sweet couple named Spencer and Andrea, we were fully equipped for a great trip!  It was great to be out on the open water and learn about the mainsail and the jib sail and more terms that didn’t sink in as easily.  But you can easily connect with the forefathers who set out in search of exploration for exploration’s sake when you hit the water.  Before we set out, Andrea pointed out the neat sounds that the wind made as it danced amidst the clinking pieces on the boats in the harbor.  It makes sense that ships weren’t made for harbors when you see them tied up.  In fact, it’s almost as if the vessels are horses just waiting to be launched and chomping at the bit for a slice of adventure.  We shall see if I am able to get certified in the Keelboat class they offer, but there’s a waiting list for that.

Well, if you’d like to try out sailing try out the Learn at the Helm program by Kathy Ware and then join the Percy Priest Yacht Club after a few times going.

Happy Monday all of you 🙂

~lme

Eulogy while I’m still alive


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I hope to die with a thousand stories woven within my skin.  There will be tales of adventures in foreign lands, of amazing people that I have met and befriended along my journey, of moments that taught me, lifted me and pulled me closer to who I was meant to become.  My face will be well worn but all of the smile lines will indicate a myriad of moments where laughter lit my face up and a hearty burst of air exhaled from my chest into a world where I temporarily existed.  My hands may look old but hopefully the river of veins running throughout them will tell of the people they’ve hugged, the meals they’ve cooked for those I have loved or handed something to someone in need.

The vacant body that they will see before them will have only been the vessel.  A vessel that had opportunities beyond what she thought at 20 when she thought the world would end.  For in this body she traveled around an incredible landscape, saw sights that ancient queens never comprehended, heard music that made her spirit soar, created music to share with others, flew above a Costa Rican rainforest like an eagle, hiked the Inca trail in the Andes into Macchu Picchu with her family, walked in the great cities of the ancient world, climbed mountains, swam in oceans, stood beneath waterfalls, whitewater rafted in Idaho, devoured lobster on the shores of a Maine island, felt the waves of the ocean caress her feet, overcame fears, met countless souls close to home and far away, learned to sail, gained skills in cooking from an Italian, an American mother and grandmother, entertained at dinner parties and birthday parties, rode horseback through the ephemeral forests of New Zealand, did mission work in Jamaica, traversed the British Isles, seeing the graves of Shakespeare and more, met and connected with those in poverty, opened her heart to love those different than her and those less fortunate and extended hands of friendship to those the world over.

I will hope that I learned to give and value real love.  To have learned that love is a choice and not just a feeling.  I hope that I will have loved when it was difficult, and I hope I will be willing to love enough to desire to give up.  Love is an emptying of self and pride of which it takes a lifetime to learn and a lifetime to put into practice.  And the person that I became will not be focused on how pretty or fit or well-dressed I was.  I will have become someone who lives and abides in the comfort that my validation does not come from others around me.  I will be focused on the fact that none of these temporal things matters to the God I serve and that those who focus on the true things of life will have always been present in my life.  I will have learned that the people who are meant to be near us and surround us will gravitate toward us continually.  Should we have desired affection or attention from others that we did not receive, perhaps we were never meant to be the recipient of that.

I hope the look on my face in my coffin resembles a smile instead of a frown and that I did more of the first in life than the latter.  A soul at peace should have nothing but a smile on her face and a song within her heart when it’s her time to go on.  I hope that when people think of me they in turn will smile.  I hope they each have vivid memories of places I shared with them, sunsets we sat beneath, trains that passed us while we played our instruments, conversations we shared that involved depths not comprehended by the naked eye as well as songs I shared and left around the American landscape as a piece of my legacy.  I hope people come to a closer view of my Maker when they come in contact with me.  May I not be merely focused on myself as a musician, a career woman, a writer, a daughter, a sister, a thinker, an explorer or a songwriter.  But may I know that all facets make up a daughter of God walking and breathing and trying to walk on a good path homeward.  As they lay me back into the dust from which I came, my stories will turn back into organic matter that become the setting for the next generation of adventurers and dreamers.  For they will carry on what we have started.  And I will hope I have done my part to leave it in good hands and to have bettered the world while I inhabited it.

When I die and begin to travel toward the light of the sun, perhaps the shackles around my feet will unclasp and release me from the bonds of an earth to which I shall never return.  And as my spirit soars ever higher up and through the clouds and into the stratosphere, I will begin to hear music and familiar voices.  And when I arrive at heaven’s front door and I softly knock, He will open it with a warm and welcoming smile and say, “We’ve been waiting for you- come in.”  I will leave my jar of troubles outside and enter in where the most beautiful song I have ever heard is wafting toward me and slowly washes over me.  And forever I will be in eternal joy.

Go forth and do good as you create a lasting legacy 🙂

~lme

Good News in Jamaica!


A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to serve and share God’s message with those in various places in Jamaica surrounding Savanna la Mar (or Sav as we called it).

It was such an encouraging week and one unlike any I have ever spent.  To get out of one’s comfort level and have the sole purpose of encouraging, connecting and serving can be so freeing and helpful for the soul. The simplicity really struck me.  It’s almost like an America of days gone by with kids laughing and riding bikes in the street with this ever present sense of community.  We ate together in one of the communities called Little Russia one day and led the neighborhood kids in a rollicking game of the hokey pokey. Amidst what at first glance looks like a lack, after some time reveals rather an abundance.  There is a wealth of beach views, rolling and lush hillsides, delicious and fresh fruits, smiles, warm greetings by those on the street and uplifting songs in services. The heat of Jamaica paralleled the warmth in our hearts as we bonded with other brothers and sisters on this island far from our homes in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Georgia.  We bonded as a team and beganI think one of my favorite memories is the beauty of 30 Vacation Bible School children crammed on a bus, bouncing and singing praises to their wonderful Maker who made each and every one of them special.  Mission work teaches us to focus and to work as a team.  It teaches us to remember what is important amidst all of the devices and distractions in our modern landscape.  And it also teaches us the beauty in coming together for a bigger purpose, utilizing our time and talents in God’s work.

I realized I should be ever so thankful as a young and able servant in the kingdom with sufficient funds to have the opportunity to serve in a foreign land.  I am blessed beyond measure and I forget that all too often.

If any of our Good News Jamaica team reads this, I would like to thank you- for your hard work, for your encouragement, for giving a week or two of your life to give, serve and spread the Good News in a place far from home.  We worked as a team for a higher purpose than ourselves.

Love to you all, friends near and far, new and old, those I have come to know and those I have yet to meet,

~leah

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4 things you should never put in the hands of someone else


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Your sense of worth– this should belong to God alone and come from Him.  In Him you have meaning, not in someone else.  A human being’s love or lack thereof should never be something that fulfills or destroys you.  “We should not look to be filled with a mate, we should be filled with God.”  -Berry Kercheville.  

Your sense of happiness– they don’t get to be in control of that nor do they have the right to take it.  If the apostle Paul could learn to be content in whatever state he found himself, how much more should I?  “Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.” -Abe Lincoln.  Are you choosing happiness and positivity today?

Your blood pressure– because they really don’t deserve to take years off your life either.  People will wrong us and hurt us throughout our entire lives.  We can choose to be upset.  Or we can pray for help through frustration and eventually come to a place where we say- they aren’t really worth being upset over.  God gives and then He takes away and ultimately He knows what we need even more than we do.  When angered, think… what can I do to serve instead of following the rabbit hole of how deeply have I been hurt?

Your faith– they can help you get to heaven, but they can’t carry you all the way and vice versa. Friends and family should not hold precedence over your relationship with God.  Putting Him first means putting all others beneath, including career, hobbies and entertainment.  If someone or something is pulling you farther from God than closer to Him, it may be time to reconsider that relationship. 

So take care of your soul.  Guard your heart from evil.  Stand firm in the faith.

~lme

photo Credit- thanks to Library of Congress photosream