Saturday, July 13, 2013

Only One Life.

Growing up as a little girl, my Mom would quote often, "Only one life twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."

It was another early morning.
I was headed to work as I always do.

Everything happened so fast. I lost control of the vehicle, dodged oncoming traffic, (somehow) missed hitting a telephone poll and concrete gasoline line, the vehicle rolled twice, and I hung from my seatbelt - sideways... trapped, waiting for help. The shock brought me to sobs, "Jesus, help me!"

During those moments, it was as if Jesus was right next to me whispering in my ear, "I have set before you life and death!"

A week and a half ago, I was so close to going home to be with Jesus, but the Lord spared my life. A Police Officer simply said, "Lady, you had an Angel holding you. Don't take that for granted."

I walked away from the vehicle and went home with only a scratch on my toe!

The next morning, my entire body was radiating with pain and I would not stop vomiting. The pain was so horrible, all I wanted to do was just DIE. That afternoon, I was admitted into the Emergency Room where they immediately put me on Morphine through an IV to ease the intense pain. The hospital decided to perform a CAT scan and multiple x-rays to look for any concussion or ruptured organs. Praise the Lord, the results came back good! My body was simply reacting to the trauma & stress of a serious car accident.

God was so very good to me in those moments.


The events that happened in my life as of recently have caused me to pause and reflect on the Sovereignty of God and the shortness of this life.

A week or two prior to my accident, I was going through my (neglected) book collection. I pulled out two identical books I had gotten on my high school graduation day (years ago) titled, "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper. One of the books had a "Don't Waste Your Life" sermon tucked in the back of it, and I listened to it that afternoon. I was sobered and reminded of the shortness of life.

The very morning of my accident, I woke up half an hour earlier for "no reason." I never wake up before my alarm! That morning I felt the Lord prompting me to soak in extra promises from His Word. I opened to Philippians 3 where I read, "...Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish... that I may gain Christ and be found in Him... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death." In those moments, the Lord reminded me of an old, familiar hymn, "Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know... Oh this full and perfect peace! ... In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine." It was an hour and half later that I was in the car accident.

The Lord KNEW I would be in the accident that day.
My life was spared.

But what if I had gone home to be with Jesus?
What would have been said of my life?
Would it had been said that I made an eternal impact in others lives and lived for the glory of God?

All of my earthly possessions would have been left behind. It wouldn't have mattered what kind of car I drove, what kind of home decor I decorated with or what my wardrobe looked like. It wouldn't have mattered what kind of income I made or whether I looked like the world's definition of "beauty queen."

One day, the Lord WILL call each one of us home to our eternal destiny when we, most likely, do not expect it. It could be tomorrow.

Don't waste your life.

Only what's done for CHRIST will last.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Leah is Returning to Mexico! // Photography Workshop

In less than 4 weeks, on July 29th, I will boarding an overnight flight to Guadalajara, Mexico!

When I came home from Mexico last October, a man from my church could hear in my voice how much I missed Mexico from the stories I told. He replied frankly, "Well, enjoy your visit here in the Stateside!"

The Lord has opened up a door of opportunity for me to return to Mexico, this time, to teach photography to a few of the Christians down there who are unable to come to the States for further photography education.

I am deeply honored to have been given this responsibility, but I am also challenged to make sure I will deliver the skills properly, so that they can have the necessary tools to be excellent photographers for the glory of God and furtherance of His kingdom.

I would be humbly grateful if you would put a few prayer requests down on your prayer list over the next couple of weeks... Pray that the Lord would give me the right words & tools as I put together photography packets, and that I'd communicate it well to my photography students, and that the Lord will give them the understanding to grasp it. Pray for ministry opportunities for us to be able to use our cameras to minister the gospel to the lost around us in the city of Guadalajara. (Photography for the Christian is not about us. It is a tool for us to use to minister to other people and to magnify the greatness of God!)

After a few days of teaching photography in Guadalajara, I would dearly love to fly back down to Chiapas (where I was last fall) for a visit before returning to the States. Pray that if the Lord wills, I'd be able to purchase a cheap plane ticket from Guadalajara to Tuxtla Gutierrez once I am in Mexico.

I can't tell you how excited I am to be returning to Mexico. Thank you all for your encouragement on this road and the prayers you have offered up before His throne. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Than All in Him I Find

Lord, fill me with Your fulness today.

"In Christ you have been brought to fullness." 
Colossians 2:10 NIV 

"To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, 
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." 
Ephesians 3:19 ESV

The problem is that we treat "Delight yourself in the Lord" like a tool. 
Like, "Okay, I've done that. Why _____?" 
As though "Delight yourself in the Lord" is a quick little turn of the key, 
and you get what you want. It isn't like that. 
Delighting yourself in the Lord is an all-consuming, day-by-day quest 
to bring all of our desires into that one great desire, so that He does satisfy. 
—John Piper

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

To A Lady: Jesus Loves Me.

We might even be able to sing the song backwards. Jesus Loves Me. We've sung it since we were in Kindergarten Sunday School at church. Someone challenged me recently, "Sing it like you know it, Leah." Jesus loves me, this I KNOW. As I sung the words to myself, a tear welled in my eye. Do I live like I know it?

To be accepted, we feel like our home needs to look like a Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel magazine. I'm telling you ladies, I have a hard time with this one. I love to shop, I love interior decorating, I love the look of new things, I love the look of clean & organized. But does God expect me to have the most perfectly decorated home with the newest furniture in it?

In order to be accepted, we feel like we need to look like a 5 foot, stick figure model. Okay ladies. Lets just be real. Maybe we're not anorexic, but maybe we're not eating ENOUGH or getting the proper nutrition our body needs, because we're worried of getting overweight. I'm just going to be real here... A few years ago, I was living in Dallas and someone in the grocery store pointed and said to me, "Oh, you got a Little One in there!" Let me tell you, I signed up for a Pilates class and began a routine of running! My trainer told me I should have a "ladies' six pack" by the end. I got up at 5:45am three times a week for nearly 6 weeks. At the end of it, I was greatly disappointed to see no difference, and then I had to realize, God made me SHORT, and short people... are built differently. I'm not saying we should go eat a bag of Doritos and drink a liter of Mountain Dew. Don't trash your body or treat it like garbage. Treat your body with respect and use self discipline, because our bodies are temples He is dwelling inside of. But know this... God doesn't expect you to look like a perfect Victoria Secret model. God created you, and says you're beautiful.

If only we could be like THAT lady who everyone loves to crowd around - she's spunky, fun loving, always ready for a lively conversation. I can't tell you how many times I have had this conversation in my head. Everyone loves outgoing, spunky, popular people... but honestly, I'm not that. Yes, I love one-on-one time with people, but after a couple hours of being at a party, I am ready to come home, drink a cup of coffee, think deep thoughts and do something in SILENCE. Once I get to a certain level of social activity, I am ready for a nap, because it exhausts me! Yes, there are times when we as introverts need to ask the Lord to bolden us at times to speak out... but dear soul out there, please do not beat yourself up for being an introvert! God wired us to be an introvert for a reason. Plant this truth in your heart tonight... God calls YOU perfect. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

To quote OctoberBaby, 

"To be human is to be beautifully flawed." 

I'd rather live in an old house with outdated furniture where laughter was heard and hugs were shared. I'd rather be a little pudgy with a genuine smile on my face, filled with a love for Christ that spills over into other's lives, always ready to listen to another's burdened heart.

Let me tell you, I'm an idealist. I love perfection. But you know what? Jesus doesn't expect me to be perfect.
He is aware of my insufficiencies, and HE is the One who is there to meet each insufficiency with His All Sufficiency.

He loves me.

He LOVES ... ME.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Ideals... + Enjoying the Journey

I am an idealist. I'm the adventurous girl, "flying by the seat of my pants," always looking for something new to DO or to create. You might say I get restless when life is mundane and nothing significant changes.

I don't care what it is... whether it's a trip around the world to New Zealand & the Fijian islands, or it's simply visiting an undiscovered, never-before-visited coffee shop in my local area  I love adventure. It's new, it's exciting!

But then God brings me to the "stand still" points of life when he asks me to be still, wait, and be content in simply knowing Him.

Day in and day out,
I work at the same place, I see the same faces.
I go home and do the same routine.

I go online & see colleagues (who I went to photography school with) grow their businesses in leaps and bounds. They're booking a gazillion jobs. They're buying new lenses, packing their suitcases, traveling around the world and Instagramming pictures of macaroons in Paris.

My life is so boring.
...I'm not as successful of a photographer as they are.
......I wish I had my own kitchen.
.........Why'd they have it so easy?! My life is so complicated.

At the beginning of last year (2012), I was determined to move forward and make my business a success. I bought a new office desk and decorated my office "just so." I was finally on my way to making my life perfect. Not four weeks later after buying my office desk, the Lord had me take a huge step of faith by moving into a basement apartment. I left my perfectly decorated desk behind. And for nearly a year, I've been back to floor-sitting and at times, sitting at a dining room table. My ideals went out the window.

It's happened SO many times in my life. I strive for perfection & my ideals, and when reality doesn't look like my ideals, I despair. What's going on, God? What are you doing to me?

Someone recently admonished me, "Leah, be careful that you're not standing in the way of God, because that really is a form of pride." It hit me right in the heart. I don't like to think of myself as a bull headed, prideful person. But the truth is, I amIt's as if Jesus said to me, "Alright Leah, you want to make much of Me in 2013? Okay. Well then, let go of your idealistic life, and accept whatever it is that I have for you."

I'm going to say it  Waiting is so, so hard. I don't like being patient. I want my life to be perfect and I want my life to be all figured out right now.

The hard reality is that my life may never be what I thought it would be like. The truth is, I am traveling through this earthly country for one purpose  to glorify God  not to have my idealistic life.

Instead of thinking about the third or fourth step on the road map of life, the Lord wants me to live with my hands open, as I take that step right in front of me, right now. That simple step might simply be, "Hey Leah, I want you to be a better friend." (Not "Go to Africa.") Instead of focusing on two years from now, or ten years from now, and what I'm going to be doing, I need to be thinking about how I can glorify God in the next 5 minutes. HE will be that lamp for my feet. Psalms 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

"If this is God's plan for my life, do I want to run away from it or do I want to run toward it? Running toward whatever He has planned for my life is running toward Him." —Nancy Guthrie