Wednesday, November 8, 2017

From the Lady in the City

You know when you've gone so long from seeing an old friend, you hardly know where to begin, or how to begin collecting your thoughts so you can give your friend a life update? This is precisely how I feel about updating my blog!

I last wrote in June, which was almost 5 months ago now. Where to start? My flying schedule picked up over the summer and I started flying alot more, much to my delight. Some of the biggest challenges and struggles I've had relate to where I'm living currently (with 7 other female flight attendants in a 2 bedroom apartment) and incredible loneliness. I wish I could find an affordable apartment for myselfsomewhere where I could make my own living space with my own decor & furniture, and a space with much more privacy (!) but that doesn't seem to be a liable option right now. For now I must grim & bear my current living situation alittle while longer, and comfort myself by being reminded that this is only a season.

I don't believe I've ever been so lonely in my life, which has been a very difficult thing to deal with continually. Already, I know I'm an "odd ball," but you add introvertedness & my faith in Christ to the mix, and it really makes me different from others. During my first few months here in Chicago, I experienced a friendship with a Christian young man, but after multiple flake-outs & cancellations on every date he scheduled, I finally came to my senses and realized that it would be better to be alone, than to be with somebody who made me question their sincerity & affection towards me or to be treated poorly. I'm not a toy to be played with when their selfish motives call. It took me a few weeks to really work through the disappointment and the crushed hopes, but I'm doing much better now. I have days when my singleness just adds ten-fold to my loneliness already, but I have to constantly remind myself that Christ holds me fast. When I don't think I can do this much longer, Christ will hold on to me. I need His strength... in double portions!

In September, the Lord allowed one of my lifelong dreams to come true at last.  I went to London, England for 5 days! Initially, I wasn't very excited about going alone, but it was perfect. So perfect. I'm so thankful! Seeing Westminster for the first time, having tea & scones in the garden at the Victoria & Albert, savoring fish & chips at the Albert Pub, shopping on Piccadilly, attending a service at Westminster Abbey and visiting the castle they used for filming Downton Abbey was all like a beautiful dream. There is still so much to see that I didn't have the chance tolike the London Eye and Saint Paul's Cathedral and I'm already looking forward to returning to England again someday.

It seems I will be living here in Chicago for the foreseeable future. As much as a I thoroughly love my job as a flight attendant, I anticipate a light load & fewer travels over the cold, winter months. It means more long days of sitting in my apartment and finding things to do in my free time, but I know I'll get through it by living each day at a time, and being faithful with what is before me right now. Or as Elisabeth Elliot once said, "Just do the next thing!"

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

In Quietness & Confidence Shall Be Your Strength

It's remarkable to think that I have been living in Illinois for three months now.  In some ways, it seems so much longer than that, especially considering that during the month prior to "the great move," I was living in Denver for a few weeks during flight attendant school. So in a sense, it's been 4 months since I lived in our grey home on Arbor Drive.

Along with the rush & excitement of moving to a new city & a new part of the country, soon followed with an overwhelming sense of loneliness and homesickness. I found these feelings to be unsettling & surprising, as I've always been the adventure-loving one of the family, always eager and ready to go and do and see. I've been to 9 countries, and was gone for a month at a time on some of those international trips. I lived in Texas for 9 months over 2009 & 2010, and I lived with other families in Northern Colorado for a year's time in 2012 & 2013. So what's up with all these feelings of homesickness?
  • This time, there is no "coming home" to look forward to. This is home.
  • There is no unpacking of a suitcase. Only re-packing for another trip.
  • There is no one to come home to, to talk to, to cry to and find consolation in when LIFE or a multitude of thoughts seem to swallow me up.
  • As much as I try to overlook it, the mold on the bathroom ceiling & the newspaper covering the windows of my apartment rental make me shudder sometimes. "This is all you can afford right now, Leah," I remind myself.
  • When I come home from a trip, my roommates ask me questions about my sexuality, and are speechless. "You mean you'll be going on 30, and you've like... never been with anybody?! But how do you know if you're compatible with somebody?!? We need to get you on a dating website." They are baffled that I would save that for marriage - that is, if I ever do get married.
  • My hair frizzes like it's never done before (from the humidity) and my skin has freaked out  going dry - to super oily - back to dry, as it tries to figure out how to adjust to humidity and midwest weather. (Ah, girl problems.) ;-)
  • I can no longer jump into the car on a whim, and head to the nearest Target for a shopping spree. I have to ride the city train or walk everywhere I need to go. (And need to consider my new/broke flight attendant budget.) ;-)
So many changes.

Along with the changes and the new job, I have found it difficult to find a church home yet. Because I haven't been able to find a church home yet, I haven't been able to make any new friendships with other Christian believers, and this, I think, adds to the loneliness.

With the free time that I have, I haven't been reading the Word or encouraging books like I ought to be doing... so, no wonder I've felt 'high & dry' lately. Just in the last week, I've been reminded of my great need, and how I must cry out to my Savior for His sufficiency in my weakness. As with any relationship, to develop a sweeter, closer relationship with Jesus requires intentionality. Oh yes, it's all HIS work in me, and it is HE who hold on to me till the very end, but I can't grow closer to Jesus if I feed off of those things which discourage me or draw my heart & it's affections away from Christ. I am asking Him for a heart that RETURNS to Him, and follows Him... regardless of the cost (loneliness, unwanted singleness, being laughed at, having shattered hopes & dreams, experiencing poverty, etc.) Jesus said if we would follow Him, we must take up our cross... and the cross always entails loss. "For me to live is CHRIST, and to die is GAIN." I live through His life, and gain more of Him by dying to Leah's selfish ambitions and agenda.

So in the seemingly dark or foggy times, I am learning to live by faithnot by my ever wavering emotions. This crazy life of faith is not for the faint of heart, and often times doesn't make sense logically. And yet, even still Christ calls me onward to battle. By grace alone.

The Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved. 

In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you were unwilling." —Isa. 30:15

Sunday, April 2, 2017

And the Lord Said, "I Will Do A New Thing."

Tonight as I hear nothing but the hum of the refrigerator and the occasional plane taking off overhead my third floor apartment, I am reminded of how quickly a life & it's circumstances can change, and a passage in Jeremiah 32:41 that says, "I will rejoice in doing them good."

This concept has been somehow difficult for me to rest in. Yes, God is good and does wonderful things for other people... but for me... really? A few Autumn seasons ago, I sat across a friend's kitchen table and she asked me, "Do you really believe that God intends GOOD for Leah?" I swallowed hard, and if I had been honest, I would've had to say, "No, but I want to."

Even now, I will testify that it is hard to see the goodness of God when our life and our dreams fall apart and scatter into a thousand pieces around us. This is good for me, Father? To weep and cry in such anguish that you fall to the floor in helplessness, asking God to stop the pain, asking God for a way out of this suffering ... this is good?

It is in these moments of despair and hopelessness that I have cried out to my Father on a number of occasions, asking Him to make my heart believe His promises when all else would tell me that they are not so. It is in this moment, as a Princess Warrior, I must take ahold of faith and lay aside my momentary emotions and feelings and stand on the promise & surety of His Word. God never lies. He is never unsure, or hesitant. When God says something, He will do it.
One day, the darkness seems to fade, we blink & find ourselves in a new season of life - a new home, a new career, new friends.

Change has seemed to come upon me so quickly, I can hardly grasp it all.

On March 22nd, by God's good grace & faithfulness, I graduated from flight attendant training. What a thrill & sense of accomplishment this was! It was like a dream come true, though a dream unrealized 'til then. It is definitely to be considered one of the happiest days of my life yet.

Five days later, on March 27th, I packed 2 suitcases & 2 carry-on bags with my basic necessities & moved to Chicago, Illinois. How could this be? Just a few weeks prior, my plan was to stay in Denver, Colorado. Surely God planned for me to come to the big city of ChicagoFor what "glorious" purpose, I know not. All I know is that He sent me here, and right now, this is my place of ministry.

Two days after moving to Chicago, I flew my first flight as a flight attendant to Cancun, Mexico. I secretly had been hoping that my first trip would be to an International destination, and it was! I haven't flown since then, but quite honestly, the rest the last few days has been welcome.

Throughout this whole moving process, I've often been reminded of a line from a a movie called, "Last Flight Out,"

"My safety is of no concern.
There's no better place to be,
then in the center of God's willunless it's in His presence."

My prayer is that the Lord would be my Rock, my Protector and my Provider as I learn to live in a big city that can, at times, be dangerous & unknown territory for a single women of small frame. When the loneliness creeps in, I pray that He would draw me close & remind me of His unfailing kindness. He's given me everything I need to serve Him in this place.

"[He] set my feet upon a Rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust." Psalms 40:2-4

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19

Monday, February 6, 2017

Even There

"...even there, Your hand will guide me, 
Your right hand will hold me fast."
Psalms 139:10

Tonight, my mind is wandering to the "even there's" in life. 

We all have them. 

Those places we're currently, or have been afraid to enter or experience for fear of what those places would feel like, how we might feel isolated or incapable of walking through, or maybe it's just having to experience an "out of the box" situation that we never dreamed we'd face. But there it isstaring us in the face, blocking the very path of life we travel on & we realize that we must go through it fully, in order to proceed forward. The more we stall for time, the more it rears it's ugly head in sight & it chokes and consumes our very life and joy. Perhaps for some of us, it is walking through "the valley of the shadow."

Even there.

I am currently proceeding forward in a journey that I never expected I'd journey in. Not a bad one, not an evil one, not even unpleasant ... but unexpected. 

Let me tell you a story.

While this is certainly not to demean or disrespect people with views such as these, you might say I grew up with the "homeschool graduate mindset," or so we'll call it. In such an ideal world, one would graduate from high school at 18 (and for some, it was more virtuous to finish school at 16), and fully devote all of your time afterwards, preparing for marriage & the duties that marriage life would bring. (Extra bonus points for the young ladies if they knew how to sew their own clothes, sew quilts, hoard away things in a hope-chest for their future life & can fruits and vegetables from the garden.) THAT was the ultimatumatleast in the social circles I was in. In such an ideal world, you would be married around 20, start having babies & make a cute Mom blog that would have an enormous subscriber's list and readership. 

Is that a bad dream? By all means - no, however that was the loftiest dream I held as a young person. For my friend, Ashleigh, that was God's story for her. And I wanted it to be my story too. 

But God had another plan in mind.

I went to work outside the home at age 15, and have been working a paid job ever since. (Because, you know, we all have to to buy deodarant and toothpaste... and things like that.) I stopped sewing, and I've never canned a thing in my life. All those guys I had crushes on while growing up as a teenager got married to other people. When I was 19, I met someone whom I thought was the man God wanted me to marry and our interests and everything seemed to match up - but it wasn't meant to be. Over the last 10 years of my life, I have endured more heartbreaks than I wished. I have had men tell me they never liked me like "that," and I've said goodbye to friendships that once, seemed special. Ah. Those tear inducing, heart throbbing and painful circumstances that are always so difficult to know how to walk through in a Christlike manner. 

Was all that in my life dream? Absolutely not. To be the lady no one wanted. Who wants that? I didn't. But God allowed me to walk down a road I never penned, because He wanted to make me into a more beautiful woman than I ever dreamed for myself.

Fast forward to the present day. 
Now less than 2 years away from turning 30 years of age, I can't help but consider what  God does have in His story for me. A recent while ago, I began  to realize that my financial needs were increasing in the foreground, and started to consider  the possibility of looking for a salary wage, career job to support a single woman. Last year, the realization hit when I saw that working as a Starbucks barista would not be sufficient enough to LIVE off of. For me, having a salary wage, career job was (for many years) thought to be ungodly (especially in homeschooling type circles), because Titus 2 says that young women should be taught to be keepers at home. But that chapter also mentions "loving their husbands & children," and I didn't have those. God brought me to a place of rest, and I realized that perhaps for right now - for this season - God's actual BEST for me might look like that which I never dreamed of, or thought would be okay. Maybe His very best for me looked like having a career job.

I am currently about to embark on a new journey & walk of life as a flight attendant. As I study & prepare to head off to training in a couple weeks, I am filled with so many emotions. Excitement (I'll get to see so many places & experience new things!), and fear (What if I get attacked by a rapist - like that story Dad told me about? What if I'm the flight attendant on board another terrorist attack flight? What if...?) 

While this next step is by no means a bad thing, it is very unknown to me. It's uncharted territory, it's a mountain to be climbed. The thrill of the adventure will be accompanied by losses, failures, successes and hard work. Through it all - even there - I am confident that God is leading me forward.

So what is the point of this blog post? What is the point of my wandering thoughts tonight? I guess realizing that even in my own perceived "bad" and "good" places, God is not bound to my perceptions. His will and plan is so much more glorious and big. He can be glorified wherever He calls me ... because He called me to that particular place.

Even there, God's hand will guide me. 
Even there, His hand will hold me fast.

What's your "even there" tonight? 

Let your heart rest assuredGod is there, and He holds you.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Weekend in the Windy City

The beginning of September, I took a whirlwind trip to one of my favorite cities  Chicago. It was a business trip, but I also got to squeeze in some fun as well! I stayed at the lovely historic Warwick Allerton on Michigan Avenue, enjoyed an interesting dinner & Italian hot chocolate at Little Eataly, went to Sunday morning service at historical Moody Church and did over 20 miles of walking. Take a peek at some of the good times that were experienced!

One of the songs we sang during service at Moody was, "Come You Sinners." Such good lyrics! The sermon I heard was equally just as good. (The story he shared at the end had me in tears...)