Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rescued and Restored – GIVEAWAY TIME!

BookCoverImage_ThumbThanks so all who have shown such amazing support for my first book, Rescued and Restored, through your precious comments, purchases of the Kindle and/or paperback formats and, of course, by reading it! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My deepest prayer throughout this entire project has been – even through my publishing and writing mistakes, through my marketing fiascos, through my simple-minded efforts – may God be glorified! It’s only through Him I even have a story to share in the first place!

As a thank you for sharing in this journey with me, I have three signed copies of Rescued and Restored to give away! If you’ve already purchased a copy for yourself, perhaps you’ll consider entering the giveaway for a friend or to keep on your bookshelf until God leads you to the person He plans for you to share it with. He’s good like that, ya know!

To enter, simple fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The first entry category is mandatory, all others are optional but give you greater chances of winning. The mandatory entry simply asks you to leave a comment right here on this post, answering the following question: How long have you known about Leah’s unexpected journey through widowhood? That’s it! Just click on the “Leave a Comment” button in blue at the bottom of this post to leave your response. Then proceed to enter the remaining giveaway categories should you choose to do so. This is a 48-hour only giveaway! It starts at 10 pm ET on Wednesday, July 6 and ends at 10 pm ET on Friday, July 8. I’ll randomly select the winner this weekend and announce on Monday, July 11!

I can’t wait to see who ends up with these three giveaway copies! Many blessings to each of you!

Just an FYI…if you are ever interested in having me speak at an event you’re hosting, please contact me! For more information on the topics I most commonly speak on, click HERE. To inquire about booking me for an event, fill out this form HERE.

Thanks friends and readers!

Update: The giveaway has ended, and all three winners have been notified. Thank you for your support of Rescued and Restored!

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Rescued and Restored – My First Book is Here!

BookCoverImageI am absolutely giddy with excitement over this announcement! My first published book has been released! It’s finally ready to share!

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been blessed by meeting new widows just beginning their walk down Grief Road. I’m humbled that people continue to send these precious women to my blog to share in my own journey by reading some of the posts from my first year of widowhood. However, the further I am removed from that year, the harder the posts from that time frame are to find on my blog. Several people suggested I make a collection of those posts and publish a printed or electronic book to make them more readily available. Well, I’ve done both!

I’m still stunned that anyone would even want to read what I have to share, but I know God was my Rescuer and is my Restorer during the most difficult tragedy I’ve ever experienced, and if I can bring Him glory by sharing that experience with others, then I’ll continue to do so.

If you know someone who could benefit from reading this segment of my widow journey, or perhaps if you simply want to see more fully how God worked so amazingly in my life during that season, I’d love for you to get a copy or two. You can do so HERE or HERE, or if you’re a Kindle person, you can get the electronic version HERE!

Thank you, friends and readers, for your encouragement and love through the years here at Out of Deep Waters! I truly have been Rescued and Restored, and He’s certainly not finished with me yet.

P.S. I’ll be giving away a couple copies of Rescued and Restored here soon. Stay tuned!


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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Get Messy!

Get messy!In recent years, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve pondered this very thing.

  • What if I had been born in a third world country?
  • What if my life resembled the lives of those we rally the troops to care for, to protect, to feed, and to clothe?
  • What if I had never heard the message of the one true hope of the Gospel?
  • What if I had been bought and sold into sex slavery?
  • What if I was forced to walk 10 miles one-way each day to simply get to a water source for my family?
  • What if I caught a glimpse of life in the Western world only to realize my life was drastically different, and those people didn’t seem to know I even existed?
  • What if I saw both my parents shot and killed before eyes?
  • What if my brother had been dragged off to fight in the war with the rebels (the very ones who just shot my mom and dad) at the age of only nine?
  • What if I was an orphan? What if I had to tuck myself into bed every single night without an embrace and “I love you” words from a mother or father?
  • What if lived under a bridge here in America and had to watch the passersby scoff at me daily? They only think they know my story, and yet they’ve never walked in my shoes.
  • What if I lost everything I owned in Hurricane Katrina, and I’m still waiting to have a home again after all these years? What if…?

Any of those situations could have been my life. But, thankfully, they weren’t.

Friends…this a message for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The church.

This life you’ve been blessed with could be drastically different. Even the poorest among us in America are in the top tier of the richest people in the world. So, why do you think God chose you to have this life? Simply because you work hard and earned every bit of it? I would be bold enough to say emphatically NO. Yes…there are blessings for hard work, but honestly…I would also be bold enough to say you’ve been blessed with much, because God expects you to, in return, bless others much!

“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48 (NIV) 

I am not saying God doesn’t want us to have money or comfortable lives, but I know He expects us to push ourselves beyond the comfort, possibly even to a place of temporary discomfort (or not-so-temporary at times) to be His hands and feet to those He places on our paths. To some, that might be “front line” service…short and long-term missionaries, adoptive families, humanitarian aid workers, crisis care workers…that place of service where the discomfort can be felt a little more deeply. The pain might be a little bit stronger, and the ability to see even deeper into the crisis at hand is often readily available.

To others, God might be asking you to stretch beyond your comfort zone by telling you to step outside your idyllic world of order and peace and get “messy”. He might be asking you to suit up as the cavalry…line up directly behind the front-line infantry…ready to provide support when needed. Because, if the infantry drops (from never getting the rest or support they need), you become that front line! Being the cavalry might involve providing financial support for missionaries or short-term mission trips. Or – perhaps He’s gifted you with the ability to organize a fundraiser on behalf of those missionaries or adoptive families. Maybe He’s asked you to be the one to offer to care for the newly adopted child to give mom and dad a time to renew. No…not that kid! Might be tough work and a bit exhausting, but God didn’t ask you to adopt…just to provide a little support in the background. Being His hands and feet can look messy. But, He gave you this life…not that life. Maybe that crisis care worker has simply heard too many painful stories and needs some time away. Maybe you could send them to the beach for a weekend renewal. God hasn’t asked you to stand in their shoes (and you’re thankful for that), but He expects you do something. What does that look like? To the homeless man under the bridge, what about taking him to the Waffle House for a meal? Ouch! That might be uncomfortable. Maybe. Being Christ’s hands and feet can be very uncomfortable.

Friends…the world is getting uglier. Fellow believers…this should not surprise us, as God promised us these very things in His Word. There has never been a more prolific time in the world in which we need to get out of our neat and tidy boxes and get messy! Will it hurt? I can almost guarantee it will in some, way, shape, or form, but you will be blessed for it! God promises blessings for obedience!

Don’t know where to start? How about spend some time asking Him to show you the next area in which He wants you to be His hands and feet? If you sincerely ask, He will definitely show you!

I go back to where I started…what if you had been born in a third world country? This blessed life He’s given you…it can be snuffed way…just…like…that. Dedicate your life to Him, and bring Him glory through it! It will radically change you…and the world!

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Six Months Home

As of this past Saturday, May 21, our Bulgarian children have been on U.S. soil for six months! In some respects, it’s hard to believe it’s already been six months, but in other respects, it feels like they’ve been with us from the beginning. We’re still figuring each other out. We still have so much to learn about parenting children from hard places, and they still have so much to learn about being parented. Six months hardly touches on any of that, but take a look at just a few of the accomplishments so far:

  • Six months ago, they spoke no English. Today, they speak no Bulgarian. Yes…I’m serious! I hardly believe it myself, but it’s true. There are a couple Bulgarian words we simply like and still use (long story there), but other than those 2-3 words, it’s all English. Their vocabulary is still growing, but their use of slang is also growing…kind of funny to hear. We were told they would learn English quickly…but WOW! Josiah has not only learned to speak English, but is also reading English!
  • Six months ago, they had few boundaries. Today, they have many boundaries, and they aren’t always excited about that. Some days we feel like it’s all rules…rules…rules, but we know that by setting up the safeguards now, there will be room for even more fun and enjoyment later. Our oldest doesn’t always understand why he can’t just watch any cartoon on TV. We’ve tried to explain that cartoons don’t always mean kid-friendly (or even appropriate for me to watch, for that matter), but that’s hard to grasp when he was able to watch the same shows in Bulgaria.
  • Six months ago, Katerina was considered a child with occasional ADD-type behavior, never had any formal schooling, and struggled to manage her emotional swings. Today, she’s about to finish Kindergarten, has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), has been evaluated by a team of professionals who are working to help us obtain the right therapies for her special needs disability, and she is THRIVING!
  • Six months ago, they woke up several times during the night or before the crack of dawn. They’d be “full on” ready to play whenever they got up, with no understanding of the time of day/night it might be. Today, they sleep solidly through the night, and Benjamin still takes a nap every afternoon.
  • Six months ago, they weren’t able to sit still long enough to be read to. Today, they love books and will sit through as many books as we’re willing to read at one time.
  • Six months ago, Benjamin would throw puzzle pieces all over the house, because he truly didn’t know how to work puzzles. The kiddos destroyed many toys initially, because they simply didn’t understand how to play. Today, Benjamin loves to work puzzles…the right way. Katerina is the best little mommy to her baby dolls, and Josiah builds Legos and K’nex structures until his heart’s content.
  • Six months ago, they had a very limited selection of food they would eat. However, we’ve always asked them to try at least one bite of everything we fix, and we are so pleased to see their taste buds explode with desire for new culinary delights. While I still consider them a bit picky, they’ve come a long way from where they were when they first got home.
  • Six months ago, they had no manners or social graces. Today, they say please and thank you most of the time. They are learning to say yes/no ma’am and sir. They ask to be excused from the table following a meal. They’ve learned to apologize for wrongdoing and will even hug siblings to help make up for their naughty behavior. They want to help mommy and daddy all over the house (except for cleaning their room…ha!). And, they are so stinkin’ sweet with their little foster brother, who adores them right back!

Now, everything is not perfect in paradise. We stay exhausted, and some days we wonder why God chose us to travel this hard road. But, then we look at those little olive-skinned munchkins with deep brown eyes and know it’s all worth it! They’ve come so far…and so have we.

The day they left their orphanage...forever.

11/12/15 – The day they left their orphanage…forever.


5/8/16 – Mother’s Day!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Five Years

FIVE YEARSJust like in 2011, May 3 is on a Tuesday this year. Upon that realization, I sighed.

It’s been five years ago today since my previous husband left his earthly home to go to his Heavenly home, a result of suicide. The anniversary of his death is always difficult for me. While I have “moved on” by most accounts, there are still certain triggers on a grief journey that pop up from time to time and cause a bit of an emotional cyclone. These last couple weeks have been that for me, and the culmination of those spiraling emotions is this very week.

In 2011…

Tuesday, May 3 – the last time I saw my husband I alive. The day he “disappeared” and ultimately took his life.

Wednesday, May 4 – the day his lifeless body was found.

Saturday, May 7 – the day we celebrated his life with friends and family.

Sunday, May 8 (also Mother’s Day) – the day we buried him, because the cemetery wouldn’t accommodate us on May 7.

God has beautifully restored my life and brought blessing upon blessing upon blessing…no doubt! My life looks nothing today like it did five years ago. I stand amazed at all God has done to bring beauty from ashes. And yet…I still get a bit of a yucky feeling on this week every year. I still feel a knot in my chest as flashbacks from those days creep into my mind all over again. I still wonder…will this ever end this side of eternity? Whether it does or doesn’t is really not the point. Yet…I still wonder.

And then…there’s my prince. God brought Joel into my life so unexpectedly and yet so beautifully and perfectly! Joel accepted me, accepted “my story”, accepted my daughter as one of his own and lovingly supports me through those rare, but still there, emotionally difficult days. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to him. He is an absolute gem and a delight to my soul, and I’m SO VERY THANKFUL God blessed me with him!

My life looks so different now than it did five years ago. I was a grieving, single mother of one beautiful daughter. Now, I’m a joy-filled (still grieving, on occasion) blessed wife to my prince and mother/step-mother to NINE and Grandma Leah to two adorable munchkins! Only God could do that. Only God restores life like that. And…to Him be ALL the glory!

The days will soften soon. The momentary sadness will pass. Joy still exists even among brief episodes of pain. God is still restoring, and I am immensely thankful for this life He’s given me.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3 (ESV)



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