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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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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Guest Post!


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I had the pleasure of guest posting on the Living Behind the Scenes blog recently.  Please feel free to check out the post here.  It’s a resourceful blog for people in the music industry with helpful hints and more.  So, visit the site and peruse some of the articles if you so choose!

Here’s a poem I wrote today to say so long…

Into the wind…

As I threw it to the wind

My spirit felt more light

I wonder if I smiled more

Would it my feet begin to fly

Nothing gold can ever stay

Who’s hiding what is real

The fact that I can hurt

Means I’m still able to feel

 

father time is keeping watch

over hours and our days

they keep pushing us through moments

Without first resting on this page

What’s common can be lovely

What’s simple can be joy

What’s with all the pressure

To settle on a boy

 

I carried the weight on my shoulders

Like a milkmaid into town

Worried what they’re saying

Knocking myself down

Pinball spinning slower

Around the hairpin curve

Undocumented hours

To be a king, you serve

 

The mountains give direction

The sun crests o’er the hills

Welcome to the forest

Where no one cheats or steals

Whispers in the willows

The hollow tree, a home

The moss becomes a blanket

My pillow is a stone

 

In dreams I found a melody

That disappeared with light

I searched for something somewhere

For my goods I had to fight

If only I was something

I let myself believe

When I had it all along

Tucked within my sleeve

~lme

10 things my parents instilled in me for which I am forever grateful


  1. A faith in God- it’s not their faith now, but I’m thankful for a foundation to know the Maker of the universe who holds my life and happenings in His power.  They taught me where to go for wisdom.
  2. The concept that church is not about a building- it’s about all followers of Christ worshipping all across the world.  It expanded my worldview that there are others like me loving and serving the world around.  No matter where I go, I will have family.  I have blessings I haven’t even ever met yet.
  3. The sense that I’m not entitled- I drove a Buick Park avenue I bought from my aunt for 20 bucks just to say we purchased it.  My brother and sister both had to drive it.  It was not flashy or cool, but it was a first car.  We had to learn the value of driving something to humble us while others got new mustangs and jeeps.  You have to start low on the rungs of the ladder or you’ll fall fast from the top
  4. A love and interest in people- my parents welcome people into their home.  They want to know about what they do and where they come from.  I feel their interest and enjoyment of people has become an integral part of who I am as a person.
  5. Buying from thrift stores and on sale is wise.  I used to be super embarrassed when my mom made us shop at Goodwill.  Now, it’s what all the cool kids do.  Go figure. We hardly ever bought anything new unless it was a solid pair of shoes.  Now I know how to live simply and how to find deals without being in massive credit card debt.
  6. An attitude of gratitude- My mom made us write thank you cards for gifts and thank the host and hostess for having us.  I know now about common courtesy and how that can lead you to have a lasting attitude of gratitude for all you have been given. 
  7. Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes- I despise when my mom tries to get me to see the other person’s point of view when I’m angered.  Ultimately, though, this is helpful in not being a me-centric person.  She tries to remind me that my perspective is not the only perspective.
  8. A healthy work ethic- Because of them, I learned that nothing will be gained without some valiant effort.  If
  9. It’s all a fly speck in the scope of eternity- my parents taught me to focus on the bigger picture which will ultimately minimize my persisting cares and pains at heart in the present moment.  I’m grateful that I am not only living for the here and now.
  10. Less of a focus on technology at home and more on music, laughter and spending time together- I did not grow up with the internet in my childhood home.  I’m not saying the internet is bad.  I used it every single day.  But I’m also saying that we need to consider the time we spend with technology and whether it’s productive or wasteful.  As a family, we enjoy laughing together and swapping stories about our lives.  We find people and circumstances hilarious and love sharing our views of the world around us.  We always shared evening meals together at home and built community in a relaxed setting.  I hope to do the same thing should I have a family of my own someday.

So for all of these and more, I know I’m blessed.

~lme

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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

Rest in Peace


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Photo Cred:  Library of Congress flickr stream

Rest in peace.

Ok this isn’t what you think, so don’t think I’m being morbid.  Peace.  Peace that passes all understanding that guards our hearts and mind as God tells us in His Word.  Peace comes softly at times.  And the most amazing peace is when you come to know through God’s help the right path to take.  Sometimes the things I thought would cause me to ache for months are much less painful than I expected.  Time heals and reveals.  Maybe there’s an ease in age.  The people who used to make me upset don’t rub me as wrong anymore.  And the peace in knowing that God will provide for me in His own time is super comforting.  Who else do I have to impress in this great big place but the Maker himself?  Sure I see others receiving blessing and their lives changing around me, but I must not be shaken.  I am one soul who knows that God knows best for me and will send me exactly what I need if I trust Him.  I have seen many friendships come and fade with the sunset.  I have experienced disappointment in others and the world around me.  And I’ve come through it with perspective and experience. 

I have watched my country continue to breed materialism until we are soaking in a self-sick and sin-sick place full of people who have lost their zeal for simple pleasures.  We can no longer enjoy lying under an oak tree in the summer or having an actual conversation without feeling unimportant as the other party continually checks their phone (I too am guilty of this).  Challenging ourselves to connect to the actual world instead of the digital world is something we should consider.

Amidst all of the annoyances and challenges is peace.  We can rest in a state of peace knowing that so much does not matter.  Not how much we procure.  Not how successful we are to our peers.  Not how beautiful our face is.  Not how lean our body looks.  Not how big our muscles are.  Not how hilarious we are on twitter.  Not how happy of a relationship we have with a significant other.  And not how much money we make.  For we are all on the same playing field.  And we are ultimately in submission to the Almighty who created heaven and earth.  One day all of these extensions of ourselves will fall off as we rise into Heaven to be forever with the One who knows us better than any person on this earth.  Work to be found faithful 🙂

2 Corinthians 10:18- “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”  Let’s stop caring what others think.  Let’s stop trying to attract the opposite sex or the big-name producer or the money or the fans.  Let’s just try to be commended by God and work hard at what we do and the rest will fall in place.  Live in peace.  Act in peace. Rest in peace.

~lme

Part of the Cure or the Disease?


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Photo Courtesy:  The British Library

Am I part of the cure, or am I part of the disease?” ~coldplay

This lyrics struck me as they played in my car today.  Am I the first or the second of these?  I’m sure at first each of us would wholeheartedly say yes, I’m part of the cure!  But wait, before you answer so quickly, here are 4 areas in which to consider whether you are part of the cure or the disease….

  1. Being part of the cure means you don’t spend all your time in things that only benefit yourself.  This would be the antidote in a self-sick world.  It’s easy to shop for yourself, feed yourself and spend time with only the people you like.  But really, is that what we are called to do and be as people of God?  I believe there are reasons that being trapped inside our minds and not serving others is unhealthy.  We have to get out of ourselves.  This will lead us to contentment and happiness.
  2. Being a part of the cure means you make decisions about your circle of friends, people you date and those from whom you seek advice with more than superficial things in mind.  I’ve often been struck when people try to set people up with someone who “loves music” or “loves to travel.”  Having a bunch of similar “likes” doesn’t mean you connect with someone nor does it mean they value the same things you do.  It also does not mean they will be someone who will spiritually lead you in a direction you need to go.  In fact, deciding who you will ultimately spend the rest of your life with means you consider more than yourself.
  3. Being a part of the cure means you are different than the culture around you and you’re ok with that.  The way we dress, act, talk and live out our daily lives should look different than others.  The way we react to situations should cause others to stop and think.  And counter-culture can also involve the many gadgets and distractions around us.  Sure, it is easy to have superficial conversations and also relationships, so it’s important to fight that by working at it.  As we “advance” in technology it seems to me that we’ve begun to “dis-advance” (I just made that up) in our interpersonal communications.  When I see a couple at dinner and the wife is on her phone, it seems a little sad to me.  I’m starting to wonder if the reason we can’t make true relationships work is because our base of online relationships are built on superficiality such as “likes” and “comments.”  When we have human connection in the same room and choose to connect to a device, what does that say about us?
  4. Being a part of the cure means you strive to see people as souls, not as beings from whom you can take what you want.  Don’t see people as merely physical beings to fulfill what you want but rather have their best interest at heart.  It means you say things that are difficult at times because it will help in the long run.  Being a part of the cure means curing yourself of only seeing the earthly, here and now perspective.

How to steal power from the so-called cool kids


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Photo Courtesy:  Library of Congress photostream

Reading in Galatians, I happened upon the verse in chapter 4, verse 17

“They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.”  Paul talks about how the people who had something over the others in the churches of Galatia would use their selectivity as a cause to gain more prominence.

Isn’t that so true?  The people who think they are supposedly cool only have power because they are in some form of elitist club?  Why on earth would we sell high dollar VIP passes to events or membership into selective golf clubs around the world?  We all want to belong to a group and we want to be super special.  More special than the next guy right?  So how can you steal power from the cool kids, self-deemed?

  1. Take a long hard look at them and know the only reason they have power is because we give it to them.  Power must be given.  And if you unravel them in your mind by affirming that you belong here just as much as they do, you will begin to realize the strength in what you have.
  2. Don’t make it your goal to be in their club.  Instead, strive to be the most true to yourself and who you are, fostering your talents and giving back to the Maker who gave to you.  Why try to grab a bar that you didn’t set for yourself?
  3. Cool is only a word made up by someone to make us think people have it all together.  They don’t.  In fact, the people that seem to be so put together perhaps have more to hide.  And cool and weird and odd all designate a sense of other when really we are so very similar.  If only we looked at our similarities we might begin to see the unity that could be.
  4. If you should get welcomed into a group of these so- called popular kids, remember to continually take stock of who you are and examine whether you are doing things because you want to do them or because the mob mentality deems it so.  And don’t be afraid to stand for what is right even if everyone ridicules you for it or calls you weird.  You aren’t alone. Ever.

Take that cool kids.

~lme

And a song that goes along with this from Echo Smith can be heard here…. Click on music and Cool Kids is the song 🙂

Open mind and heart


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Photo Courtesy: This flickr stream

Some things I’ve realized about the idea of having an open mind and heart and what I personally think it really means.

  1. An open mind is one that is willing to study and think and not think it knows the all the answers.
  2. An open mind is one that doesn’t point fingers and tell everyone how judgmental they are.
  3. An open mind is willing to show the same respect and care to others who disagree from their views as those who see eye to eye with them.
  4. An open heart means not only giving of ourselves and of our means to those we enjoy but also the difficult, the unruly, those who seem to be different, odd or drain us of our energy.
  5. An open heart will try its best to not slap labels instantly on a person, groups of people or try to state the situation of hearts until fruit has become evidence of worthy or unworthy conduct.
  6. An open heart doesn’t seek to ostracize but seeks to mend, to unify and to pursue peace.

Thoughts I’m thinking- take them or leave them


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Photo Courtesy:  Smithsonian photostream

You can only control you.  Spending your lifetime being frustrated that others aren’t doing what you want or what you believe they should be doing is a waste of time.  Trying to discern and know the hearts of those around you can’t be wholly known.  By your fruits you will know them, but ultimately it can be a release to know it is not your ballgame to referee.

As much as you’d like to think you’re in control, I know you’ll admit that you are completely helpless and powerless at times.  I think when I’m most discouraged is when I feel helpless, as if there is nothing that I physically can do to change a situation.  Sometimes there is not a thing I can do.  There is Someone who can though.

Do we all have a misconception of perfection and when something doesn’t align, we’d rather just toss it than try to fix it?  We are a throw-away generation.  We have this luxury of doing that with almost anything and everything from plastic bottles   and beyond.

Because we are able to eat fast food, fast meals and have the world at our fingertips, are we growing less capable of possessing patience.  Instead of waiting and watching and cultivating a garden, we choke things out by “too much watering, too fast.”  Why not take the time to think of a project, a challenge or something you hope to achieve that you know will take longer than a month.

There is only so much of an energy reserve in your body and mind.  Some days it gets used up rather quickly.  Other days you are able to prolong it.  Some weeks drain you emotionally while others will fill your cup.  Sometimes the knowledge and continual presence of social media can really tend to exhaust your soul.  Limiting it can be a healthy thing to do at points.  I like to think about a time when the only people you would know lived on the surrounding farms, but your information was much more limited.  I actually think that was probably pretty healthy since you weren’t continually and unnecessarily concerned with the affairs of everyone outside your sphere.  We carry the weight of the world on us knowing the pains and problems of all those around us and beyond.  It can seem overwhelming at times I know.

Something positive to end this post is what I need.  It doesn’t matter how many facebook friends you have if you have five people you can count on in an emergency to be there for you.  It doesn’t matter how flawed and broken you are, the perfect Son has already done amazing things to make you whole.  If you try your whole life and achieve your own goals and no one notices, cares or compliments your bravery, talent or perseverance, God cares.  He’s cheering you on in the final stretches where you’re taking off in a sprint for what you have been working so hard.  He’s sitting next to you.  He’s listening to you when you feel desperately alone.  He’s listening to me when I’m wondering how I will take another step in the right direction.  Whether you’re in an elevator, a car driving home, a doctors office awaiting news or an open field with a world of stars above your head reminding you how small you really are, He is there.  In the words of the letter He left us, you can hear His voice.  And even when the world begins to be washed in grey from the monotony of life, He is there.  Always there.  In the confusion.  There.  In the questions.  There.  In the Answers.  There.  When the storm won’t seem to let up even for a minute.  There.

Take heart my brother.

~lme