Monday, February 20, 2017

Back in Deep Waters

Here I am again…somewhere between what feels like a cruel joke and utter insanity. I am in a place of complete shock. Extreme pain. A pit of sadness that seems to have no bottom floor. Twice widowed in less than six years.

I have asked God over and over…how can this be? How can someone be so much alive one day and simply gone two days later? I don’t have the answer yet, and I may not this side of Heaven, but I still trust Him!

For all who have asked, we’re not exactly sure what happened, but my precious Joel got sick, had a successful surgery and at some point in the hours following surgery – he contracted double pneumonia and sepsis. His body went into septic shock, and he never recovered. With his family surrounding him, and with my hands on his head and chest…he entered into His one true home of Heaven at 12:37 am on February 12.

I still lie awake at night, expecting him to come join me in our bed so we can chat about the day and dream about our future. There have been so many times over the last eight days where I’ve had to stop myself from saying, “Let me check with Joel…” I simply can’t believe it’s over. Our beautiful marriage of only 4.5 years, and our life together with four newly adopted little ones. What happened?

I’m grieving like I’ve never grieved before. I’m trying to be strong for our children, but…in doing so…my grief bottles up for a time, and when it finally pours out when their little eyes aren’t looking, it hurts so deeply.

We’ve had an outpouring of love upon our family. Meals coming in daily; monetary gifts through GoFundMe, MealTrain, PayPal, and in cards; car maintenance; house cleaning; laundry; playing with the children while I rest my brain; two meals for our family on the day of the service and burial (in two different towns hours apart) and so much more!! My mind can’t even conceive how deeply we’re being loved on. People continue to ask how they can help, but I honestly can’t think at this point to create a list. As a I told the principal this morning at the school were three of our children attend, “Simply do whatever God leads you to do.” He knows our needs – the immediate ones and those down the road. Allow Him to guide you.

Thank you for your love, your prayers (which are completely sustaining us right now), and your concern. While I’m deep in the darkness of the tunnel right now, I will one day see light again. And…I know He rescued me from these deep waters before, and He’ll do it again. Until then…I hurt…

 

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Where Has the Time Gone?

Yes. I’m still here in Blogland. There’s so much I’ve been wanting to share with you, but life has been “huge” as of late, and I’ve honestly had to step back from writing projects for a bit. But, oh how I’ve missed this oasis.

2016 was a BIG…HUGE…GINORMOUS…year for us. If acclimating to life with our newest Bulgarian cuties wasn’t enough, we also completed the adoption of our two-year-old foster son and bought a new house and relocated three counties away! We’ve been in the new house almost three months but still have boxes to unpack!

As for the Bulgarian sibling group we adopted at the end of 2015, they are thriving!

From one year ago to now…such a difference!

They only speak English now, and honestly…they have been doing so since around the three month mark. It’s absolutely astonishing to me to see how quickly these kiddos picked up a new language. We have had our challenges (more to share on some of that in later posts), but we’ve also been blessed immensely. Adoption is the hardest thing we’ve tackled as a couple, but I can’t imagine our life without these precious brown-eyed, olive-skinned, beautiful children.

Then comes Austyn. We simply thought we were caring for him until he was reunified with his biological family, but God had other plans. This little guy is now our son. It brings tears to my eyes to type those words. Our SON! I am overwhelmed at the blessing this little boy has been to our family. He loves his siblings, and they adore him. Sure…they fight sometimes…as siblings do, but the love they have between each other wins out every single time. This little guys brightens up every room he walks into. He’s full of love, laughter, and such an intense personality. He’s a go-getter (even at the age of two), and I know God has great plans for him.

Our relocation a little more eastward has been challenging (as far as moves go), but we’re so excited to finally be in our home and don’t plan to leave for a long, long time. Hopefully not until we retire (if then). Ha! When Joel and I married, he committed to making the commute from my hometown to his job (75 miles one way) in order for my girlie to graduate from high school. He ended up commuting for over four years. We knew we would end up moving eventually, but we didn’t know if that would be in the same county but closer to his work or out of the county. We chose the latter, because we were able to get so much more house for the money. I have the commute now, but I love it!!! I have so much thinking time, and my INFJ personality type desperately needs that.

We can’t wait to see all that’s in store for our life in our new town. We’re open to whatever God brings our way, and we know that could be a wild ride, as it’s been nothing less than that up to this point.

And…if all that wasn’t enough…my first book was published in June. That project produced a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. LOTS of tears, as I had to relive my first year as a widow. There were many days my heart ached so deeply and yet to be reminded of God’s faithfulness time and time again during those dark days of my life was nothing short of gracious. My goal with Rescued and Restored is to bring hope to those in need of it. While it’s a story of grief and restoration from the tragic suicidal death of my husband, it’s so much more than that. It’s not just for widows…it’s for anyone in need of rescue…in need of healing…in need of hope. You can get it here (paperback and Kindle formats available). I’m also willing to come share my story at a women’s event or retreat, and you can learn more about that here.

As for Out of Deep Waters…I plan to be here a lot more often and more consistently. And…believe it or not…you might be seeing me in other places as well. Lots of stuff in the works I’ll reveal as time goes on.

Thank you for stopping by and being faithful even through the “desert periods”. Feel free to comment and say hi! I would love to hear from you!

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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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