Monthly Archives: February 2013

When the world thinks you’re crazy…

FACT: If you are 24 years old and single and God calls you to move overseas, get ready for the people around you to think you have lost your ever-loving mind!


Don’t get me wrong, everyone (well..almost everyone) has been supportive, appreciative, and encouraging in their own special way. Even so, sometimes I can’t help but laugh at things people say in response to my future-

Scenario #1-

Well meaning family member- (squeezing me so tight I start turning blue) Leah! You’re back!! We’ve missed you so much! I want to hear ALL about your year! How was it?!

Me- Okay well it was…good? Hard? Amazing? All just a long dream? I’m still not real sure..

Well meaning family member- Oh it just sounds wonderful! I can’t wait to see your pictures. So what will you do now that your world tour is over? Have you started applying for jobs?

Me- I’m actually moving to the Philippines in April! One of my teammates from last year and I are going to join the ministry we served with while we were in the Philippines. We will work a lot with the youth- focusing on discipleship with the leaders so Filipinos can reach their own people for Christ. Meagan and I are also really passionate about starting a ministry for the street children there so that will be mostly what we foc—

Well meaning family member- …wait, you said you’re moving there? THIS April?

Me- yes, moving. Like…a one-way plane ticket kind of thing. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I just told God yes I’ll go.

Well meaning family member- Okay…is this Meagan person a boy? It must be serious…

Me- Actually, Meagan is a girl.

Well meaning family member- Oh, Meagan, right…I guess that makes sense. Then I just have one question- what about getting married? You DO want to get married soon right? I mean Leah you’re 24, and if you move off to the Philippines how do you think that will ever happen? Surely all your friends are married by now…doesn’t that worry you? Are you really okay with being single and being a missionary?

Me- Haha while I appreciate your deep concern for my love life- I’m not worried. Really. If he comes…he comes! I’m good.

Well meaning family member- sigh…


Scenario #2-

Sweet church member- I heard you’re going to the Philippines! That’s great! So when will you be doing your deputation?

Me- (whispering to my mom) umm mom…what’s deputation again?

(mom reminds me that deputation is when missionaries take a year…or two…or three and travel around to hundreds of churches raising support and getting appointed by them to do God’s work in whatever nation they’re called to)

Me- Oh right…I’m actually not going to do that. I don’t need much to live, seeing as I’m single and all (see scenario 1). And I know God doesn’t want me to wait that long. The need is so great right now- I’ve seen it. Every day people are dying without knowing Jesus. Right this minute while we’re talking, actually. So I’m going as soon as I possibly can. And call me crazy…but I really think He will provide.

Sweet church member- you’re fearless, little one. May God bless you.

Me- (smiling, but silently screaming inside- I’m not little anymore!!!!!!!!!!!) Thank you.


Scenario #3-

My youngest brother- Bro. Rob used you as an example in Sunday School today when he was talking about missionaries…not gonna lie, it was kinda weird for me.

Me- Weird? Why?

My youngest brother- Uh well he mentioned Kim Combs and the Lupers and then he started talking about you and it was just weird. Those other people- they’re older, and I mean, you’re my sister. He called you a missionary…it’s all just too weird.

Me- I feel ya.


Scenario #4-

My doctor- You’re moving to the Philippines? How cool?! What will you be doing?

Me- (I give her my 3 minute speal on what I’m doing…)

My doctor- Ok bye! You have fun now! I’ll be watching for you on TV over there saving lives and stuff!

Me- Wait…what? TV? I think you might be confused…


I love it.

I know I’m not the norm…although I wish I was! I know that most 24 year olds right now are starting their careers and a family, getting settled into a lifestyle. And I appreciate that people care enough (for the both of us) about my love life or lack thereof and whether I’ll be safe and healthy overseas.

But I know in the deepest places of my heart that God is with me and for me.

I’ve had this peace in my heart since the very beginning that I just can’t put into words. Its this peace that lets me sleep at night instead of worrying about how the money will come in. Its this peace that fills that place in my heart where a husband would be. And its this peace that leads me through every single day and every conversation.

“He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it.” -1 Thessalonians 5:24


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I believe in a thing called love.

Last night I attended a Valentines dinner that my pretend parents- aka my best friend Sarah’s mom and dad were hosting for their home group.

The night was exquisite from beginning to end. All the tables were  pushed into a giant circle in the living room, creating the perfect family style arrangement. Every plastic table was beautifully transformed into elegance with the simple addition of pure white tablecloths, woven placemats, and tiny confetti hearts sprinkled around each place. Tall, red candles lit just before dinner brought everything together perfectly, setting the cozy mood for the rest of the evening.

I left the house to go babysit next door for a few hours and when I returned dinner was already in full swing! Every empty chair was now filled and plates were quickly starting to pile up with food. The room looked even more beautiful now than I had imagined!

About half an hour had gone by and the consumption of food was starting to slow down when I heard the announcement-

“In light of Valentines Day this week we thought it would be neat to go around the table and have everyone share the story of how you met your spouse…”

This should be good, I instantly thought to myself. Aside from Sarah, I was the only single person sitting at the table and every couple there had been married for much longer than I’ve even been alive!

As husbands and wives began whispering among themselves, checking facts and making sure they get their stories straight, I was replaying Pride and Prejudice in my head. Could I really be sitting across the table from another Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy?


From the minute the first couple began to share, I sat on the edge of my chair, my eyes hard at work holding back tears, completely captivated by every word of the stories unfolding before me…

They weren’t exactly the romantic classics I was expecting, but they were beautiful stories to me. While I expected stories more like the ones I’ve read in novels or seen in movies, what I got was even better-

I got stories of everything from miniskirts and stolen boyfriends to ugly divorces that led to saving remarriages. They used foreign words like courting and they didn’t have cell phones or Facebook to communicate…crazy. Some couples were childhood friends and others didn’t meet until their 40‘s. Some people fell in love over onion rings…for others it was a dozen roses. There were stories of packed bags and angry fights followed by stories of love that never quit loving and grace upon grace upon grace.


They finished each others sentences and reminded their spouse of any details they were forgetting. They held hands and shared the same used tissue to wipe their nose. They looked into each other’s eyes with the deepest sense of love and understanding.

It seemed to me that as they reminisced on where they’d been, they started to remember how far they’ve come.


And little did they know that a girl like me really needs to hear stories like theirs…

I needed to hear the wife share with tears in her eyes how much of a mess she was, running the opposite direction from God and how her husband just loved her and never gave up on her…not once. I need to hear about that kind of grace because I know I will be one of those who needs it.

I needed to hear men talk about pursuing their wives, almost to a fault, because I still believe that’s how it should be. If I get married one day I want it to be because the man pursued me and not because I put myself out there.

I needed to hear their stories of marriages fought for faithfully, even through the hardest of years. I needed to know that can happen. 


What I really needed were some examples- because that’s always my biggest hold up on this whole love thing…

I wanted to know that marriage is worth giving up my independence and sharing the rest of my life with another person. I’ve always said that if I ever find a couple who is still madly in love with each other after 30 years, still enjoys each others company instead of sitting in silence at the dinner table every night, still laughs and goes on dates and looks for ways to love the other one better, then I would maybe have more of a desire to get married.

But that’s just not what I see most of the time..

I have long been on the lookout for couples who are better together and more effective in the kingdom of God together than they are apart.

..and last night I found seven of them. Seven beautiful examples of love fought for and covered in the grace of God. Seven couples who know each other intimately and still love each other deeply…even after all these years.


I’m not running down the altar tomorrow or anything.
BUT thanks to the wisdom and testimony of fourteen strangers,
I believe more than I did before in the goodness and the value of marriage.

And maybe just maybe it could be worth it one day…

e09306962e09f845f8dc7bb596504f43(note: all pictures taken from infamous”love” boards on pinterest…they dont belong to me!)

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Celebrating my favorite man!

When I heard my family wanted to get together yesterday on the one year anniversary of my uncle’s death to share stories about him, I have to admit I was a little…apprehensive.

Actually, if I’m being completely honest, I thought it would be a disaster! As soon as my mom told me what we were doing, I imagined a room full of tears and tissues, everyone exchanging memories of his last days in the nursing home, and talking about how hard and long this year was without him.

I miss my uncle just as much as the next person, but the void he left in our family is still very fresh, and I wasn’t sure talking about him all day was going to be a good thing…


But gosh- I was SO wrong.

Naturally, mom and I were the last people to arrive at the house yesterday. When I walked in the door, I was instantly taken back by the laughter echoing down the hall from the living room. I walked further into the house and quickly realized- there were no tears and no sad faces anywhere…everyone was smiling!

Suddenly it hit me- I had clearly forgotten who we were celebrating!


OF COURSE everyone was smiling- my uncle Jerry was the best! His down syndrome made him special that’s for sure…a special blessing straight from heaven to my family for 51 years. He was a beautiful carrier of endless joy, a pure heart, a gentle spirit, and childlike faith.

When it comes to those things- I’ve had no better role model here on earth.

So yesterday we squeezed onto couches and pulled chairs together around a table of brownies and cake and a pot of really strong coffee, and told our favorite Jerry stories.

photo (3)

One of my favorite stories happened when I went to the nursing home to eat dinner with him one night. Everyone in the nursing home eats together in a big cafeteria and sitting a few tables down from us that night was an elderly man with a very bad cough. About every 2 minutes, this poor man would have a coughing fit. As you can imagine this created quite the commotion, but he clearly couldn’t help it. Eventually uncle Jerry had enough of all the noise and yelled in a very loud voice for the whole room could hear- “SIR CAN YOU PLEASE JUST BE QUIET?!” Only uncle Jerry can pull off such a stunt without upsetting a soul! Who could get mad at him when he flashed a smile like this one?


We talked about how he always knew what day of the week it was based on what he ate for breakfast. Friday, of course, being pancake day.

We remembered his imaginary friends- Eddie Cooper and Gerard, and laughed at how we talk about them now like they are actually a real part of our family.

My aunt talked about times she refers to as heavenly moments, when God would speak to her through uncle Jerry. What better messenger is there (I think anyway) for God to use than a man with a pure heart who speaks exactly what he hears..a man who isn’t worried about what people will think or held down by pride. He doesnt question what he hears or think twice about what hes feeling. He doesnt try to make sense of anything beforehand- he just speaks. It only makes sense that heaven flowed so naturally through him!


There’s so much I remember…my uncle gave the very best hugs. His laugh was loud and contagious and came from deep in his belly- I can still hear it so clearly! His eyes were full of love. His hands were so small and gentle. His shirt was always tucked in tight and his pants pulled up high and usually a little crooked…but he always looked so sharp! He sat at the center of every table and was the life of EVERY party…


I had forgotten, until yesterday, how good it is to tell stories. It nourishes the very deepest parts of your heart and makes you feel alive again- like finding your favorite t-shirt buried deep in the closet or walking the familiar streets of an old college town.

Yesterday was amazing and I left there feeling filled and thankful- quite opposite to the emotionally draining experience I was expecting! I left thankful for the special years we had with him and even more thankful that his stories will continue to live on- bringing our family together and making us laugh for years and years to come.

Thank you uncle Jerry, for reminding me to CELEBRATE.
I love you


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Jesus. Butterflies. And a giant stomachache.

It was just another “normal” day (if there is such a thing on the world race) of construction and manual labor under the sweltering Haitian sun. But when I woke up that morning, I could just feel it. I knew something was coming.


I’m still learning to identify this strange feeling when it comes. It’s almost impossible to describe, but if I had to try I’d say it’s a mix between the butterflies I get on a first date and the way my stomach drops after saying something I regret. Weird combination…I know. But when it comes, I can’t shake it or push it away- it’s there until I deal with it.

I really believe this feeling that takes over both my physical body and my soul is God’s tangible way of saying to me-

Leah, there’s something we need to deal with…today.

And right away, every time, I know exactly what He’s referring to.


In Haiti, I tried ALL morning to make that feeling go away. I pounded away at cement bricks, hiding in a corner of the construction site- that is, until Kristin came over and started talking to me about the very thing I was trying to avoid. I made dozens of excuses and delayed as long as I could.

I even made these ridiculous deals with God in my head- Ok God, if one more person goes home sick, I’ll go back with them and do this! Then all of the sudden, 2 girls would keel over sick and need to go home.


Welp, sorry God there wasn’t room in the car that time…looks like I’m off the hook!
…10 minutes later, another girl starts throwing up and needs to go back home.

“Hey guys- can anyone go back to camp with Grace?”

I realized I had better speak up and go back with her, before God started taking more sick people down on my account!

So I went. We pulled into camp and I went straight for my tent, grabbed my Bible and journal, and awkwardly asked Holli if she would meet me at the rocks in 30 minutes to talk.


For the next half hour, I cried, I wrote, I prayed and argued…God WHY are you asking me to do this?? Then I just sat still and let the crashing of the waves against the rocks calm my anxious heart.

As soon as Holli sat down I started to spill. I reached down into places of my heart that never see light and tried my best to form words around what was down there. It was my story and this was my life and I knew when I woke up that morning that He was asking me to share it…

I don’t think I looked up once the whole time I was talking and to this day I can’t remember a single word I actually said. But I will always remember this like it was yesterday- I finished talking and looked up at Holli, and breathed in my first full breath of air all day. The feeling of butterflies mixed with a stomachache was gone…

Freedom had taken its place.


Obedience to God is terrifying sometimes…most of the time, actually. I wondered all day long in Haiti whether or not this would be worth it. It felt hard and painful and embarrassing, and I wanted to know that good would come before I took the risk.

But that’s not how God does things-that’s not faith. I’ve found He’s really big on asking me to do these hard things without always showing me why first. I think God gives us a choice- you can live, and He won’t bother you with butterflies or stomachaches or, you can REALLY live.

I want to really live…


It’s happened to me multiple times again since Haiti. When I said yes to Jesus, I essentially gave Him free reign to do whatever He wants in me. And apparently it’s not a one-time deal…

Just last month I was driving with one of my best friends from Atlanta Georgia to Gainesville, when that same feeling overwhelmed me again and I knew there was junk in my life lately that I needed to tell someone about. So for an hour and a half, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, I spilled my guts…again. I was so nervous for how she’d react that my face was bright red and my heart was racing the whole time. But I did it.

And just like every time before, I’m SO glad I did.


What is God asking you to do today?
Could you be brave enough to do it?
It’s worth it…I promise!

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