Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Squeezing out as Much Life as I Can : )

I read this on my lovely friend Kate's blog (I hope you don't mind my quoting & linking to you, Kate!) and just felt a big old "Amen!" about it all and wanted to share and inspire!:

"I want to SQUEEZE out as much life as I can from this time. I want to breathe deep, love people passionately, take crazy adventures, embrace risk, do one of a kind things that I've never done and will never do again, fall in love with Jesus and with a great guy, enjoy life and beauty, spend myself on behalf of the needy, get rid of guilt, run, drink coffee, deepen friendships to the point of complete confidence, be spontaneous, do what I love to do everyday, take lots of pictures, not be so serious, be with life-giving people, forgive even though it is so unnatural, live in confidence, meet new people, mentor younger girls, learn from older women, read good books, sleep enough but not too much, [...] listen to great music, go to the beach, LIVE..."

AMEN!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

He's My Christmas Miracle

"Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart

and my portion forever.

But as for me, it is good to be near God.

I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;

I will tell of all your deeds.
"
--Psalm 73:23-26, 28

(My life verse, given to me at birth by my Granny)

I love the spirit of love and generosity and hope this time of year seems to raise up in people-- even those who don't know the reason we're celebrating. I love how the whole world seems to take on a festive air ["O holy night, the stars are brightly shining!"]. I love the sparkling lights and gorgeous, cozy candle-lit atmospheres. Swedes do Christmas decorating well. Very simple and understated-- like a single star in a window, or a simple garland of fir boughs round the door frame.

Most of all, I love how each year He gives us the opportunity again to look back over the centuries to a tiny newborn baby resting in a manger of hay and realize anew the love that humbled Himself to such a vulnerable state to come into our broken world and save us from our own sin ["long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth..."].

It amazes me that the God of the universe wants to be mine. His attention to me in all my littleness floors me.
["A thrill of hope-- a weary world rejoices-- for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!"]

I feel like I'm often sharing stories of how I've doubted His provision and worried about how I would make it, and then how He came through. I don't mean to be boring or repetitive :) This is just the route He's chosen to teach me these lessons of His faithfulness lately.

So about 2 weeks ago I found myself in such a state. I was sick with the flu, spending full days in bed and feeling useless and discouraged... And overcome with worry after checking my bank account to find it held only $10.55 to last me through December... This month has been a bad one for bills as many bills here seemingly come not monthly, but quarterly and because this is my first quarter here, I didn't know what they were going to be or when they were going to arrive. As it turns out, my electricity, internet, and transportation (trams/bus card) bills came all at once, meaning that even if there were to be enough to pay them, there would be nothing left over for rent at the end of the month, let alone groceries. And I knew it was silly (and perhaps even sinful) to worry. I knew that He'd promised to take care of me if I've committed my life to Him. I knew He'd work something out.

But still I worried. And prayed...
And begged Him to fill my heart with more faith than I know.

And my mind grasped for ways to fix it myself, to take care of it, but my body was too tired and weak to keep up with my mind. And He was there to whisper, "Trust Me. I Am enough."

And still I worried. And prayed...
And begged Him to fill my heart with more faith than I know.

I'm not sure there is a more vulnerable space as when I have no health and no finances. They're like the basics of survival in our western world. So I suppose there isn't a better space for me to find myself in to learn to rely on Him truly, deeply, radically. To truly be able to say, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but YOU are the strength of my heart and my portion forever." I'd never been able to relate to this more absolutely.

And I found a space of fitful peace. "Alright, God. I have no one but You. So do your thing. I'm waiting..."

["Fall to your knees!"]

And the next day a friend told me he was paying a bill for me in exchange for babysitting for his children. He didn't know that I had no idea how it was going to be paid this month. Only God knew...

And over the weekend someone at church handed me some money and said, "Just take it. I'm just obeying what God's telling me to do."

And then there were some Christmas gifts of money from parents, Grandma, family back home.

And I no longer have to worry about paying the rent at the end of the month. And I was able to buy some groceries to make dishes for the Christmas parties I've been to, and I might even be able to delight myself with a Christmas gift of a voucher to use at the gym like I've been praying for for months :) And I know it's only 1 month and small needs in the grand scheme of things. But it was/is big to me. And He knows that.

Now that He's provided the finances for another month, I'm praying still that He provides the healing for my body. I'm over the flu (though now it's morphed into a cold-- bless the Swedish weather!) but I'm having my first Swedish Diabetic appt. the beginning of January-- was already in for blood tests, and it just brings up the longing for Him to heal me of this disease and wipe away all the worry and inconvenience and pain and fright and strain it causes to live with.

There are a few people who started coming to mind to ask to pray over me when I started feeling stirred up about praying for healing again. One of them is an old Bulgarian man I know here. He used to be part of the church til all the issues with the leadership and a situation in the church body started coming up and having ripple effects. He is a man with an incredible gift of faith. He is a man who has seen God work in some amazing ways almost like the Apostle Paul himself saw. God has used this man to speak to me before in the most timely ways, and speak into issues in my life that this man knew nothing about. It gives me chills and brings me to my knees...

I hadn't yet rang him to ask to meet for prayer for healing. A part of me feels stupid to be so childlike, but it doesn't hurt and He has been prompting me to ask for more faith and what is faith if not 'like a child'? And then last night he randomly ended up giving me a ride to a friend's. One of the first thing he says in his thick Bulgarian accent with his trademark joyful smile, "Leah, I am so happy to see you. God has been asking me to pray for you these past few weeks."

And I could have fallen to my knees then and there, (God! You really do SEE me!!) but he went on. "I've been waking in the night crying and my soul so heavy and I ask Him, 'what is it? Why?' and He says, 'pray for My Leah'."

The thought of His heart being so full of me that He wakes His prayer warriors in the night to cover me in prayer.... Oh, I cannot express how much it means to me. How much it encourages me. This man doesn't even necessarily know what he's praying, but the Spirit does. He sees my every situation, my every need, my every longing, my every struggle, my every hope, my every circumstance, and He moves on my behalf if I throw myself completely on Him and trust Him ("They who trust Him fully, find Him fully true." -- Francis G. Havergal)

He said to me, "God wants me to tell you this, that He knows you're in a hard spot, but that He has you there for a reason, to teach you not to be afraid. And that you are not there alone."

This is the same thing He's been impressing on my heart these difficult months when I've discovered things which have been so wonky in working with this ministry, and prayerfully attempting to walk in wisdom in the situation I find myself in as a missionary here, to speak up and to remain silent as He leads, to stand for Him despite being unpopular because of it, and outrightly rebuked by respected people which makes me question everything He's so faithfully shown... It's been the fight of my life. And again.... brought me to a place where I have nothing but Him. "My flesh and my heart may fail, but You remain the strength in my heart and my portion forever."

["O hear the angel voices"]

I think I will be forever amazed that this God of all the universe pays any attention to me, let alone lets me know it in a clear, undeniable way. His love, His love, His love... It overwhelms me.
And I am more thankful than I have words for. I'm wrapped up in this love. And I want to sing it out to all the world... He loves you, He is worthy of all of your trust, and wants to do more than you let yourself think or imagine. Press into the treasure of His presence and see...

"I promise myself if I ever get frustrated with life again, if I ever get into river-deep debt, I will sell it all and move out into the woods, find some people who aren't like me and learn to love them, and do something even harder, let them love me, receive the love of somebody who doesn't share my faith system, who doesn't agree with me about everything, and I will sleep beneath the stars and whisper thank you to the Creator of the universe, as a way of reacquainting myself to an old friend, a friend who says you don't have to be smart or good-looking or religious or anything; you just have to cling to Him, love Him, need Him, listen to His story."
-- Donald Miller, 'Through Painted Deserts' pg 246

To be His... what more could I ask for?

[O night divine! O night when Christ was born..."]

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A Stumbling Drunkard on a Cold Swedish Street

I like to run at night. I think I like the cover of darkness to sweat in :)



It also means I don't meet too many people on the path and I can focus on praying as my feet pound the pavement. I don't like running. I don't do enough of it. But I love the feeling of focus it gives, the way I discover new places in my neighbourhood as I explore new streets I haven't run before, the wrestling God and I do when I'm out there, and the endorphines afterward :)



Tonight on the way back there was a man on my path sort of coming at me right down the centre. I'm not terribly skiddish but the way he didn't give over made me a little nervous and I tightened my grip on my mobile phone in my hand (because an attacker will surely give me time to phone a friend for help...!) as I jogged on toward him. The closer I got the more unsteady I saw his steps were. As I passed I smelled the unmistakable odor of alcohol, and noticed the long-neck bottle in his hand. His figure cut such a skinny, scrawny, hungry form against the tree-lined sky. And he tugged on my heartstrings there, the whiskey doing the work to warm him that his inadequate clothing surely wasn't doing.



I wish I could go on to tell a grand tale of inviting him somewhere warm and seeing him well-fed, talking to him about Jesus, praying with him...



But I can't. My interaction with him ended there as soon as I'd jogged past.



Obviously, one mustn't be silly and young girls on their own at night shouldn't invite drunk men off the street to hang out.... But it stirred me nonetheless. He represents to me the hopeless state of humanity, like a stumbling drunkard on a cold Swedish street, desperately trying to numb our aches, to warm our hearts in whatever way we can find.



And it points me to His heart, so alive with love and compassion for us, the hopeless, stumbling drunkard, that it burns like an all-consuming fire. To a heart so consumed that it stepped into stride alongside stumbling, fumbling humanity, stripped of its royal robes to a not-nearly-warm-enough pair of jeans and loose-fitting coat, and walked along with us in a pair of worn-out shoes, throwing an arm around our shoulders to help ward off the cold and to meet a hunger that goes deeper than our emptiness.



It makes me think of how safe and secure we are in our "everything's alright", middle-class churches, where a man like this one would hardly feel welcome, let's face it, and where we're generally too busy organizing our perfectly-timed, all-planned-out-and-put-together Sunday services to go out to the street to find him. Or, like me, too frightened to throw am arm around his shoulders even if we did cross paths...



And then again I see His love-- arms wide open, eyes beckoning, welcoming ALL. Regardless of the lifestyle we're starting from or how much we wreak from our heart-numbing drug of choice...


And I'm challenged again to not just preach this love, but to practice it.


For me that probably doesn't mean hugging every drunk guy I meet on the street :) But it does mean looking on him with love and compassion-- and being so connected with the Spirit of God that I'm ready and willing should the occaision for conversation arise!



What it does mean is pushing through the discomfort and annoyance of loving the difficult ones. A few people come to mind instantly for me. A transvestite who visits Rescue Mission and seeks me out to talk about what he's been shopping for lately in a fake high-pitched voice and insists on getting a hug from me despite my probably obvious discomfort (and I hate that I feel so uncomfortable!!) comes to mind... Or even harder, people close to me who hurt and take advantage of me. Talk about difficult... Can you think of your "difficult ones"? I challenge you to pray for Him to "pour out His love into your heart" for those people.

His love defines Him, so our love defines us as His-- firstly our love of Him, and out of that our love for everyone He places in our path...

I can't help but think that we prioritize so much over being passionate about being loving.
Yet, ultimately, it's the only thing that counts.

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
-- Matt 22:35-40

And these 3 remain: Faith, Hope & Love. And the greatest of these is Love.
-- 1 Cor. 13:13

Monday, 7 December 2009

A Bag of Groceries

It's always in the wee hours that my mind seems to come to life with all the words I didn't write in the day and wish I had. Anais Nin once said that, “We write to taste life twice, once in the moment and in retrospection.” I do wonder how many lifetimes I've lived over the years, 'tasting life' for the second time after the world around me is breathing deeply with sleep...

I love this time of night. I love the freedom of it, the beauty of the stillness, and the way He speaks in it.

A friend turned to me today and said, "Do you need to get groceries?"
I was a bit taken aback because it seemed a kind of random, funny, irrelevant question.
But I did, actually. I was out of all the basics. Milk, butter, bread, meat. I don't keep a ton of groceries around, really, just the necessities, but I was out and intending to get more. So I said so.
And she said, "Okay, because God told me to take you grocery shopping today."

And it made me giggle.

This God. This God! I will NEVER understand Him!

It hadn't occurred to me to worry about getting groceries this week. I knew there would be enough kronor for this... I've been worried about out-of-the-ordinary weekly expenses, like affording posting gifts home to the nieces/nephew, getting a haircut, being able to afford various Christmas gifts for the family here I'm spending Christmas with, etc. Not groceries.

And so I began to argue it.
And she put her hand out as if to stop the onslaught of words and said simply, "Take it up with Him. Come on. Let's go."

And when we got to the shop some acquaintances of ours were in the parking lot with their car broken down and we were able to jump-start their battery. And I do so wonder at God's intricately interwoven plan...

And His intimate care. I can't wrap my head around His ways. But I'm not sure I'm supposed to. He asks me to trust & obey, just trust & obey. And watch Him work in His huge, all-encompassing love.

Choosing this lifestyle of soldout ministry has been difficult. Always. But especially so lately when all the foundations have kind of felt a bit pulled out from beneath me with struggles in the ministry I'm working with here.

I have learned these past few months what it means to truly have NOTHING but Him. I thought I'd experienced complete dependency before this, but I hadn't.

I have learned desperate crying out. And faithfully depending on Him, whether or not it feels like He's hearing the shouts... I guess this is what it means to put one's Hope in Him.

I have learned what it means to stand in confidence in Him despite everything coming against that. Not because I have any reason or strength to stand on my own, but because He is unchanging, immutable.

And I'm still learning these things, in His grace and patience and indescribable, limitless, all-knowing, all-consuming Love, which sees us through every situation it walks us into.

And, despite heartache and fear and restriction on earth for glory in heaven, and homesickness and heartsickness, and no approval from man, or even understanding most of the time... despite constant battles bigger than I know how to fight, constant uncertainty, insecurity, and utter foolishness in man's eyes...

... I've realized that I wouldn't trade serving Him for all the world. He is worth it all. He is worth it all. He is worth it all.

And not because of His rewards (though I know they are vast, even when I'm not always seeing them fleshed out), or because of how He grows our character through adversity (I am growing years in weeks), but because it's the most needy of Him whom He gives Himself most fully to. And He allows me to be as needy as needy can be, so that He can be all in all to me. So then, even the need is part of His provision...

I am astounded by this grace. I am astounded by this God. And that He would WANT to be wanted by me...

It's amazing what a bag of groceries you didn't even know you needed so badly will do for you.


"For the eyes of the Lord search to and fro, that He might strongly support those whose hearts are completely His." -- 2 Chron. 16:9 (NAS)
Lord, take mine completely.
"...I'm wasted; I'm so wasted on [Y]ou..."
--Angus & Julia Stone, 'Wasted'

Simple & Quick

Lei never came to church yesterday :( But keep her in your prayers! She knows where to find us...

Friday, 4 December 2009

What it's All About...


Yesterday I had the 'God-op' to of meeting a 23 year old Chinese woman who came into Rescue Mission's Secondhand looking for books. She was intrigued that I spoke English and wanted to practice hers. We got to talking and she seemed very interested that I'm in Sweden to do ministry work and admitted to reading some of the bible back in her homeland in her own language. I invited her to church on Sunday and she was very excited to hear that it's English-speaking. She was timid about coming.


"Would they mind that I'm not Christian, but Buddhist?" she asked.


I assured her that she would be totally welcome and we'd love to have her stay for a meal after and feel free to just hang with us.


And I'm excited again about the way the Secondhand exists to bring people in through the social system, yes, but also to bring customers to us with all their questions and their needs and give opportunity to build relationship. Evangelizing can be so off-putting when Christians go out of their way to find people to preach to. I am all about relationship-building, drawing people into conversation through simply caring about them and being friendly, and sharing His love naturally. I love that aspect of running a Secondhand out of our ministry-- hundreds of people troop through a day, and I have the added position of being a bit of a novelty to people; this young, cheery American who's interested in them and their stories.


And Oh! How He loves them all!


Please pray for my new friend, Lei. Making connections like this is what it's all about!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Oh, to belong to The King of England (and everywhere :))...

I wish there were words to properly share with you all that my recent trip to England meant to me. But there's no language up to the task so instead I'll just tell you a bit about what I did for those 2 weeks-ish from the 10th to the 26th :)

First Stop: London! And an afternoon out and about with a dear
friend I graduated with and grew with and laughed with and cried with (this is a theme running through most all of the friendships I speak of from college! Basically, they are deep and true, and I love that...). We caught up after a year and half and alot of water under bridges. We had Starbucks (!!) which has always been my favourite treat, but even more so now when I live in a country which doesn't have them!!! And then we ventured into Chinatown for a meal, and then down to Trafalgar Square, my favourite London tourist site, and the National Gallery. We wandered down for me to say hello to Big Ben-- it's been awhile-- and spent all the hours in conversation. Dave is headed out to Asia for long-term ministry as soon as April. Time does march on...


Next Stop: Salisbury! To spend a few days with my lovely friends Abbie and Paul. Abbie was one of my prayer triplet girls in my third year and ours is a friendship that blossomed out of praying one another through the deepest things, and the practical things, and everything in between. And Paul is just one of the greatest human beings I have ever known :) A mish-kid from the Reunion Islands and my favourite singer in the world. My first few days in England were spent simply being with them-- taking walks through the stunning English countryside, talking, singing along to the guitar, sitting by the fire, talking, going out for coffee, talking, laughing, sharing our hearts, and just enjoying one another. God really gave my heart rest there-- Abbie and Paul are two quiet, gentle, FUN spirits who give the soul room to breathe. It was lovely. I miss you, Abbie and Paul!!!



Then on to Gloucester, my hometown :) I stayed with my English pastor's family, The Austin-Sparks, the family I lived with for the first few months after graduating from college. Stepping back into their home it was like I'd never left :) Lovely and familiar and homey. We had fantastic conversations and lots of hugs and laughter. I got to see so many old college friends in Gloucester, and I even returned to college for a lecture, being greeted by staff with hugs and happily surprised hellos. It was lovely. College feels SO very different, 2 years of incoming students gone by. I got to spend an afternoon with my dear friend Ali and meet her fiance for the first time, had a visit from Claire who is working in England with a similiar church project to mine here in Sweden, only further on in the vision so there is much to talk about and learn from her. I spent an afternoon with Rita, who is my Lithuanian sister (she has adopted me and my family-- whenever they've been to see me in England, she's had them over for meals :)). I spent a hilarious evening with Tim and James (who have a house together now!) and the lovely Adelina, who understand my heart without even trying. And, the reason I finally got back to England, I met my beautiful god-daughter Lily Joy and spent as many hours as I could with her mummy and daddy! Lily is utter perfection. I was captured from the first moment she fell asleep in my arms :)


After Gloucester it was on to London again where I spent a day with a friend wandering around for miles and seeing bits of the city I've never been before! He's a native Londoner so I was in good hands. We visited the ministry he works with there, down near the world famous All Souls Church, had more Starbucks (hurray!), visited Soho, walked through ecclectic markets and wandered along the River Thames, and ended up at a London pub with his friends. I hope I always remain in awe about how God's brought my life to a reality beyond my wildest dreams as a child-- so that I will always be mystified by a day spent wandering around London, for example, or taking a train through the English countryside, or finding my way to work in my Swedish city. Rose-coloured glasses do help take the edge off all of the hard things about living in a foreign country far from family! And they keep my heart in a constant state of worship at His grace and attentive love!!


From there it was on to Sheppey to spend a few days with Amanda! Sheppey is a little island off Kent, known affectionately as the armpit of England!! But Amanda took me home with her a few times throughout college so I feel rather fond of the place :) She has a big heart for the underprivileged island and the needs, spiritually and otherwise, of the people who inhabit it. For years she's talked about wanting to take me to the City of Rochester where she went to school, knowing that I would love it. And she was right. This pretty little city has a castle and a cathedral just up from the high street. Oh, England, how I love thee!! It is also the home of Europe's largest secondhand bookstore, called Baggin's Books, which is an ancient old high street shop which just goes on and on and on as you wind your way through the thousands of books tucked in every nook and cranny, up staircases and down staircases and around corners and on and on :) We also spent a day visiting Canterbury, another cathedral city I've never been! Amanda is one of those rare people He sometimes places in our lives who you can just be totally and entirely at ease with and our few days together-- the first time in a year-- were just covered in His fingerprints, gifts from His generous heart who knows precisely what we need and gives it to us with relish and delights in our joy over it.


I headed back to London from there, stayed with a lovely, generous friend whom I haven't seen for about 2 years, met up with a few more friends about London for lovely walks and talks and meals, and then headed out to the airport on Thanksgiving Day, feeling sad at having to leave, but feeling such a restoration in what has been my very weary and beaten down soul. There have been circumstances in the ministry which the enemy has used to just beat my heart up. Unbelievable things. And I truly feel like God gave me this trip to England (through selling a piece of writing which just about covered the airfare, and then using a stash of GBP I've had since I moved to live on!) at just such a time as this, knowing my limits, to take me away so He could just cradle me for awhile; to comfort and renew me. To restore me. He used His people-- my beautiful friends-- to be His tangible arms to hug me and tangible eyes to look at me with concern and empathy as I poured out story after story and struggle after struggle, to be His tangible faces lit up with laughter as we enjoyed one another and delighted in one anothers' presence. It is so healing to love and be loved. It's so His heart.

Oh, I love that heart!!
And so I'm back to the battlefield-- I mean, missionfield :)-- and standing in Him in new ways. Thank You so much, Gracious God of mine!!!
"My chains fell off, my heart was free. I'm alive to live for You. I'm alive to live for You.
Amazing love, how can it be? You gave everything for me, you gave everything for me!
Free to live, free to give, free to be, I'm free to love You, Lord."
-- Tim Hughes, 'Holding Nothing Back'

November's In His Light meeting

Read all about November's In His Light women's ministry here: www.womeninHislight.blogspot.com

It was such a great [challenging but encouraging] day!
Thank You, Lord...

Monday, 9 November 2009

This is the adorably kissable face of my precious god-daughter whom I FINALLY get to cuddle for the first time very soon :) Miss Lily Joy! I just had to share this photo because she's so heart-warming and I'm so excited!
O England, I miss you. And I'm coming home soon!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

God's Good Gifts

God's giving me a trip to England :) A little break from the craziness here, a little retreat to the friends who are like family back in the UK.

I get teary just thinking about it. It has been nearly a year. And my heart is going home for 2 weeks...
Don't get me wrong-- I love Gothenburg. I love the beauty of Sweden. But it is exhausting to be a foreigner. It is exhausting and frustrating to be constantly trying to translate everything so that I can understand what's going on-- both the language and the cultural expectations. Yesterday I figured out how to do my laundry in my building's "tvattstuga" (washroom) and it felt like the biggest victory. I've been lugging my laundry to friends' places to avoid having to figure out the strange electronic system of booking the room here-- all in Swedish, of course. Going out for groceries is exhausting as I try to decipher the labels and get through the checkout with my Swedish proficiency of about a 2-year-old. Most days it's terribly interesting and I can generally hold my rose-coloured-glasses up to my face and greet the day with a smile. But sometimes the smile wavers a bit. Things have been very stressful with the ministry I'm working with, and that pours out into every experience of living here.



(some random shots of my beautiful city of Gothenburg, Sweden)
I cannot wait to fly into my green green haven that is England (even if I do have to go through the dreaded Stansted airport where something ALWAYS seems to go wrong regardless of how perfectly I've packed or carefully prepared). I cannot wait to melt into the presence of my lovely friends I so miss, pouring out our hearts to one another, laughing like there are no cares in the world, and just soaking in one another's presence... I cannot wait to sit and worship with someone on the guitar like we used to. I cannot wait to take long walks through the green green green hills, to read all the signs in English :), and to bask in the English accents. I cannot wait to see how God will tenderly restore the bits of my heart that have been so bruised these weeks dealing with such unimaginable circumstances in this ministry. His TLC is wonderful and always perfectly timed.

So, hej da Sweden! And hello, England from the 10th to the 26th :)
And thank You, Father...
I'm lost without You.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

In His Light Women's Minstry Event #1

So, FINALLY, details of the first In His Light women's ministry event last Saturday :)

We had 7 women, plus Teri-Anne and I. I was excited when people just kept showing up! This was the very first time. I thought that we could end up with, like, 4 of us :) Brona (Ireland) came, Alissa and Rema (Singapore), Anthea (South Africa), Linda (Sweden), Magdalene (Romania), and Peninah (Uganda). All believers, all at different places in the journey.

We started with a brunch-- and everyone brought something to share. We ended up with a lovely spread and we lingered over it with our coffees and tea and just chit-chatting. Then we moved into the living room and spent some time in worship....
- Mighty To Save-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5ghKwGEQRA
- At The Cross-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xr0jPaHrCJI
- Potter’s Hand-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_OUNq29Dso
- This Is My Desire (I Give You My Heart)-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWDU8rBBIJs&feature=related

Then we headed into the Bible study/discussion on the message of "Captivating". We basically walked them through the message from start to end, in kind of a conversational and discussional style. It went really well. We prepared so long and so hard for this part of the meeting and it was really encouraging to see the women sharing and interacting with the subject matter and being vulnerable with one another. Then we prayed for one another. It was really lovely. Just what we'd been praying for...

Then it was time for the Spa! We did manicures and pedicures and had foot baths with mint and lime and sea salt. A few of us gave one another foot massages. There were facials and candles and food and music playing in the background of conversation. There were about 3 of us around my age, and then the oldest woman was about 60, with every age in between.

Teri-Anne and I were both very encouraged in doing it and all the work and stress over it was worth it in the end :) I did all the writing and then Teri-Anne did most of the speaking :) So, we both felt really ALIVE in doing it because we were both using our gifts...

Very encouraging! We're now planning next month. It will be only, like, 2 or 3 days after I arrive back from England so we have to get it sorted now.... We're not sure yet of our Bible Study theme, but we've planned the social side of the day already-- to go together to one of Sweden's famous Christmas markets (Jul Marknad)! There will be some lovely photos :)

Such a big thank you to everyone who has been interested in this new undertaking and for praying for us! God really did just draw some ladies together and open up a space between us to spend adoring Him and seeking His face, as well as just building relationship amongst one another. And it's an encouraging thing for me to be involved in right now...
He is good :) May the world know it and be changed from the inside out!!!
Love,
Leah

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Til Death Do Us Part

A few weeks ago I told you about a beautiful old Swedish couple-- Claus and his wife-- and how the wife was growing very feeble with cancer. Today I learned that she has succumbed to the disease. You can imagine how bereft Claus feels.

I haven't seen him. He's probably not getting out much...
The funeral is Friday.

Would you please pray with me for him? He and his wife were self-proclaimed atheists, but they let Mike and Brona pray with them when the wife fell sick. We tend to reach out for God when we're needy for something bigger than what we have, something greater than what we know. Claus is needy now...

Lord God, would you reveal Yourself to him in his grief and heartache. And use any of us at Rescue Mission in any way we can be used... Thank You, Lord, for how Your love reaches into the deepest sorrow and holds us tightly. Be with Claus in his grief and draw him to Yourself. May he know a joy in the suffering, the joy of knowing You...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Ms Seger's 4th Grade Class

My cousin, Ms. Seger (soon-to-be Mrs. Hill-- hurray!) is a 4th grade teacher at a Christian school near Chicago and to teach proper letter-writing she's having her whole class write letters to me as their missionary penpal! How cool is that?!

I've spent the morning responding to their adorable questions like:

- Do you miss Ms Seger?
- What do you eat in Sweden?
- Do you go to school?
- Have you ever visited Chicago?
- Do you like swimming just like Ms. Seger?
- What do you do for fun?
- Do you have any children?
- Can you teach me your language?
- Can your Sunday school children draw us pictures?
- How is it being a missionary—did you want to or did God lead you to it? [pretty cool question coming from a 9 year old!] Do you like your job as a missionary? What kind of things do you do as a missionary? Is it fun?
- Do you speak Swedish? Is it hard learning?
- Do you wear American clothes or Swedish clothes?
-What is your culture like?
- What kind of sports do you have there?
- What high school did you go to?
- How much money do you have?
- How old are you?
- What is the biggest tree where you live?
- Do you like Ms. Seger as your cousin?
- What is your favourite colour?
- What is your favourite book?
- What do you teach your children in Sunday School?
- What is your favourite food?
- What is your favourite song?
- Did you have a house before you went to Sweeten or you just lived in Sweeten?
:)

Some of my favourite quotes from their letters were:

"Ms Seger is the best teacher in the school. When she teaches us its like whatever she is talking about, we’re really there." -- Amira

"My dad’s name is Timothy. You can call him Tim for short. I have lots of cousins, uncles & aunts on my dad’s side! But not my mom’s. Most of them died." -- Hannah

"I wanted to write you a letter because you seem nice. Ms. Seger talks about you all the time… Your cousin Ms. Seger is beautiful and a great teacher. I love her." -- Tajah

"I like spelling because it’s really hard and I like a good challenge." -- Vanessa

"Your cousin is a very nice teacher. She let’s us do art, do puzzles, and read our own chapter books. And also our lunch is delicious. Today we had chili." -- Myla

"Now I am going to tell you about the school. This school is ginormis. It is one of the most biggest schools I’ve ever seen. And my Mom sais that we have very good teachers… Well I guest this is my closing paragraph." -- Arien

"Ms Seger’s class is beautiful. The walls are painted sky blue. Also, there are posters all on the walls. Ms. Seger’s desk is a badge (?) color. The students desks are a wooden color. The school is a good place." -- Sky

"I’m a student in LWCA [the school where my cousin teaches]. Also some of my classmates are students too." --Jonathan (hehe!)

"I’m new at LWCA. It’s a cool school. My favourite subject is LUNCH…. P.s. I’m a boy." -- Jacob

"Leah, your cousin is the best teacher in the world… Leah, if you are nice to people in Sweeden let me just tell you that you are sweat, kind and loveable." -- Hannah Walker

Oh my!! God knew I needed a good ol' smile. I love children so much. Writing to them is so special because I remember so keenly being that age and finding that EVERYTHING was a new discovery. I LOVE being able to turn these kids on to world mission, if only in making them aware of the fact that there are places outside of our normal little lives where people don't grow up with an awareness of what Jesus has done-- "dying to make a way for us to be friends with God"... And also just turning them on to the fact that the world is sooo much bigger than we know in our safe little American neighborhoods, and that ordinary girls can grow up and follow after an extraordinary God and let Him take them further into Himself than they could ever dare to dream!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Words To Build a Life On

I am being blessed abundantly through this song I've just been introduced to so I wanted to pass it along. Have a listen and look at the lyrics. But listen the whole way through as it builds. It is powerful! And it thrills my heart to know such a God who reveals Himself, the God of the universe, to us in His Word, seeking us out so that He might love us and we might love Him! ... He is good.

Words To Build A Life On
Lyrics by Mike Crawford

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
I want them to be mine

Blessed are the poor
Blessed are the weak
Blessed are the ones
Who can barely speak
Blessed in your hurt
Blessed in your pain
Blessed when your teardrops
Are falling down like rain
Blessed when you’re broken
Blessed when you’re blind
Blessed when you’re fragile
When you have lost your mind
Blessed when you’re desperate
Blessed when you’re scared
Blessed when you’re lonely
Blessed when you’ve failed
Blessed when you’re beat up
Blessed when you’re bruised
Blessed when you’re tore down
Blessed when you’re used

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
I want them to be mine

Blessed when you’re heartbroke
Blessed when you’re fired
Blessed when you’re choked up
Blessed when you’re tired
Blessed when the plans
That you so carefully laid
End up in the junkyard
With all the trash you made
Blessed when you feel like
Giving up the ghost
Blessed when your loved ones
Are the ones who hurt you most
Blessed when you lose your
Own identity
Then blessed when you find it
And it has been redeemed
Blessed when you see what
Your friends can never be
Blessed with your eyes closed
Then blessed you see Me

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
I want them to be mine

Blessed when you’re hungry
Blessed when you thirst
Cause that’s when you will eat of
The bread that matters most
Blessed when you’re put down
Because of me you’re dissed
Because of me you’re kicked out
They take you off their list
You know you’re on the mark
You know you’ve got it right
You are to be my salt
You are to be my light
So bring out all the flavor
In the feast of this My world
And light up all the colors
Let the banner be unfurled
Shout it from the rooftops
Let the trumpets ring
Sing your freaking lungs out
Jesus Christ is King!
Jesus is my Savior
Jesus is divine
Jesus is my answer
Jesus is my life

These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
how can they be mine
These are words to build a life on
These are Your words
I want them to be mine

Give us ears that we may hear them
voice that we may sing them
life that we may live them
hope that we may give them
hearts that we can feel them
eyes that we can see them
thoughts that we may think them
tongues that we may speak Your words

Site: http://troyhochstetler.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/mike-crawford-words-to-build-a-life-on/

Monday, 12 October 2009

Psalm 63:8


Things in the ministry have been very difficult. I can't really go into it here, but He has me in a place where He just keeps reminding me the words of Exodus 14:14-- "I will fight for you; you need only to be still." I am trying to simply live in His love, seek Him with every fiber of my being, and wait on Him.
But it's a very hard time.


This morning my eyes fell across these words in Psalms and it's just Him whispering His assurances all over and through me--

"I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely."
-- Psalm 63:8

So, here I am clinging, and resting in the strength of His strong right hand holding me securely.




Thank You, Lord.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Church Weekend Retreat



A big thank you for everyone who was praying for our Church's weekend retreat at Uddavalla! A good time was had by all. And more importantly, some good talks which He's been prompting for awhile were had by a few... (I don't know exactly what He's doing, and sometimes I feel so lost and in over my head, but I am His, and so here we are...)
Stephen's baptism in the sea was a highlight of the weekend! He was baptised as a baby in Ghana but wanted to do it again when he actually had the choice to follow Jesus. This is a very brave thing to do in Sweden in October-- COLD! As well as a brave thing to do in general, because it is about making a public stand for Christ, a commitment before God and all of us witnesses that his life is not his own. Thank You, Lord.
And all of us witnessing, all nicely bundled up from the cold :)

"So the Word became flesh and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son..."
-- John 1:14

Thursday, 1 October 2009

"We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.


We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.


We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed...


That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."


--2 Corinthians 4:5-9, 16-18

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

I'm having a low night.

One where for no single reason but for great cuminations of little reasons, having a good old, snotty-nosed, mascara-running cry would feel like the very best course of action.

Sometimes the soul just grows so tired...

But I am encouraged at how I see Him at work. Around me, and within me.

He is so good. He mercy and righteousness and love and faithfulness-- it's grace, all grace, to us who cannot deserve any of it. To me, who doesn't deserve any of it.

And I am thankful.

Sometimes I get swamped by the drudgery of the days-- always so much work to be done. When one project finishes, 1o others are there waiting to be given some attention. Sometimes I forget that running the Secondhand isn't just about running a charity shop to help support "Barn i Nod" (a charity organisation which runs children's homes for orphans across the globe), but first and foremost it's a point of contact for the world so desperately longing after the hope that is Jesus to come to those of us who hold these treasures in jars of clay. I feel like a very cracked jar. But I suppose His living water can gush out all the more freely from the cracks to whoever comes in off these streets of Gothenburg and stands before me in that shop.

Mike talks about how he sees Rescue Mission as a training ground for ministry. I understand that well. But sometimes I get so weary of training and I wonder what this sort of training is for. And I miss the comforts of home and "normal living".

But then I look up. And there He is, gazing at me with that curious look of adoration and pride. You are Mine, He says, as if when He looks at me He sees a prize.

And I realize again that if I am here in this country serving in this place for no other reason than for sheer love of Him, that it's enough. His love has reached into my broken places and redeemed my sick soul. And it continues to heal wounds in me every day. My love for Him is such a meager reflection back of that saving love. My love for Him couldn't endure the cross as His love for me did...

But it can serve. It can greet each new day with a "How can I best serve You today, Abba?" It can smile into the face of the grumpy customers and draw them into conversation-- even if at first it is only "Var du kommer fran?" I believe in building relationships that reflect His love as much as speaking of it literally. It can sort endless bags of secondhand clothes, wash sinkloads of dishes, dust shelf after shelf of wine glasses, and tidy messy counters umpteen times a day, always building relationships to the people sent to us by the social system for a foot back up to society, with the people from Rescue Mission Church who come in to help and work alongside, and the customers who are lonely for a chat. It can "look at them and love them" with the tender love of a compassionate Jesus aching to point the way to The Father. And where I am tired, He is mighty. Where my enthusiasm wans, His passion stays strong. Where I am uncertain, He stands firm. Where I run out of resources, He offers all of His. I am so thankful for His Spirit...

"I'm after Your heart, I'm after Your heart, I'm after You..." -- lyrics from Misty Edwards' 'Favorite One'

I've noticed Wednesdays are a tiring day for me. A long day-- starting at Rescue Mission in the morning and going straight into Bible Study in the evening with no time to myself in between. I find myself fading by the time we sit down for Bible Study, and think it a rather interesting tactic of the enemy. Tonight as I sat there attempting to pull myself together for another 2 hours that I might be there to minister to the people around me and the needs of their spirits and to be attentive to the struggles of their day, I felt Him explaining to me my tired heart in a little picture in my head of a child and a papa walking side by side pulling a wagon. Both held onto the handle but the father's strong arm bore the weight of the load, the child's small hand fitting neatly within his and no real strain on the child's arm. Leah, let Me do the pulling. Just place your hand in mine and walk the path with Me...

His yoke is easy and His burden is light. No matter the circumstances whirling about unspoken. No matter the storms threatening to toss. He is sovereign. He is big enough. He cares more than my little heart could muster. And I'm only asked to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly along with Him, my hand engulfed in His.

As always, it's a journey of learning to trust-- to crawl so deeply into His wrecklessly loving heart that the soundtrack of my life is His strong, passionate, purposeful heartbeat.

How could I live for anything less than His Kingdom? How could I strive for anything other than bringing Him glory?

I find I am lovesick.
And, almost unbelievably, that He is lovesick for me.

And so, it's worth it all.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

My Beautiful New God-daughter

Introducing, Miss Lily Joy Smith!
Born September 27th, 5:19pm, at just over 8lbs to my two very lovely, very proud (as they should be!) friends, Lizzie and Neil.



I am returning to England in November for her dedication and my first cuddle, and I can't wait!
What a privilege to be entrusted with praying for and loving this child even before she was born... Thank you, my sweet friends, for letting me share in your joy :)
(And for naming her after her auntie Leah Joy :) Hehe!)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A Week in The Life

It's been a full week here. It's a rare week that isn't full, I'll admit.

This week I learned that my darling 2 year old niece Emily was being tested for Leukemia-- and it felt like the bottom was falling out of all of life for a minute there. Praise the Lord, the tests were clear!!!!! But it was two long nights of worrying and many many people praying (thank you!!) The doctors have ruled out anything major causing her symptoms so we feel we can relax. I love this child so much more than I can possibly explain and the whole experience has served as a reminder of God's extravagant grace!!!

In other news:
*2 packages of glorious Christian books and classic novels arrived this week from a lovely supporter in Minnesota!! Thank you!! Immense blessings...

*We did some more work and brain-storming on our upcoming Women's Ministry, "In His Light". We're printing and hanging flyers across the city now! October 31st is coming up quickly...

*I've been working on revamping the Sunday School system at our Rescue Mission Church-- laying our curriculum up til January. We hope to mobilize people in our church to take turns in leading the class, knowing that we are ALL called to play a part in ministering in our churches and that kids may be the least intimidating of people to serve. It's a good place to make a start! You might pray that teachers rise up from the congregation and He motivates their hearts with His love.

*I've FINALLY set my trip to England!!!! I have been praying and hoping to return for a visit since this past Spring. RyanAir had an fare sale in the wee hours of Friday night! So, November 10th through the 26th I'm off to reconnect with all my friends (family!) there, travelling across the country to see as many as I possibly can.

*My new baby goddaughter is being born!! She is why I finally get to go back to England in November as we hope to have her dedication service while I'm there. I cannot wait to meet her!!!

*I FINALLY have internet at my flat! So far, it's been a bit tricky and on-again, off-again, but it's better than nothing!

*For those of you praying for Jonas-- he's been transferred to a sort of rehabilitation centre and is supposed to be back in his own flat this coming week! Praise the Lord for skilled doctors and efficient healing!

*For those of you praying for Claus and his wife-- I haven't heard anything new or seen him at Rescue Mission this week. Keep praying!

So, that's a quick update on a few details of life this week.
Hopefully I will find the time to write far more interestingly soon :)
Love,
Leah

Sunday, 20 September 2009

In His Light

That women's ministry that I've been praying about for months is finally getting its feet off the ground :) Teri-Anne and I have been working on the admin of it all night. Check out: http://www.womeninhislight.blogspot.com/!

I'm very excited about this project because it is a chance to draw women in this secular city together and point them to the Saviour with solid teaching (we're going to be using various resources, from online sermons we can play on Teri-Anne's big screen, to bible study books, to writing our own themed days on certain biblical women's lives and such....), and fellowship. And it confronts the particular loneliness and displaced feelings of internationals living in a foreign land-- which is something Gothenburg has ALOT of-- with Christ's love through both His Word and His people...
I can't wait to see Him work through the relationships built. Please pray for us as we prepare and for each person He means to come! Our launch date is the 31st of October.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Lucky to Believe

This morning working in Rescue Mission Ministries secondhand charity shop, a regular customer who is in his 90's came in not to shop, but to let Mike and Brona know that he'd found out yesterday his 86 year old wife is dying of cancer.

"Do you know, Brona, we've been married 61 years," he said before the tears came, bending his snowy head to meet her gaze from his still impressive height. It was as if to imply, "I don't know who I am without her anymore..."
"Can we pray for her?" Brona asked boldly, knowing from previous discussions that Claus and his wife don't believe in God, which is a rather common state among Swedes, I find.
He said yes and then, overcome, turned around and left the shop with his imbalanced hobble...

The day went on, crazy busy as Wednesday is our first open day of the week at Rescue Mission Secondhand. One of my favourite regulars stopped by: a harley-driving, debate-loving, friendly, curious, 50-something, Atheist Philosophy professer called Bengt. He asked me if I'd heard much from God lately in his sarcastic way and I assured him I heard from Him every day. "Lucky you," he replied. I think his curiousity, though concealed by cynicism, is hopeful.

Then around lunchtime Mike and Brona were suddenly off on an errand, and when they returned they explained how they'd delivered a hot meal to Claus and his wife. Brona, in the boldness of the Spirit (because her own boldness fails her) asked them if they might pray with them then and to her absolute surprise, they said YES! She held the frail old lady's hand and Mike prayed in Swedish so they'd better understand. Afterward, Claus said, "You're lucky you believe." And God is moving there... Please pray for Claus and his wife to find they choose themselves to be "lucky to believe"!!

Being apart from God would be to me like being without my spouse after 61 years of life together. I so pray they find Him revealing Himself to them with His comfort in their desperate sadness, fright, and grief...

Knowing Him and that my eternity is in heaven with Him and no sorrow or heaviness or catastrophe here on earth can change that, I do feel pretty lucky...
So on Sunday when I lead the service at our church (Oh Lord, protect me from nerves!), I'm going to talk about that unshakable hope we have here on earth as citizens of Heaven. Please will you pray for the hearts in my church to be lifted to desire Him above all else, at the risk of all else? I am so desperate for us to desire Him with a desperation that we are aware nothing else will satisfy.

Come quickly, Lord...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Another Move...


I just registered for my Swedish personal number (like SSN) this morning and moved a dresser full of clothes one drawer at a time up 4 flights of stairs with the help of my new roommate and former landlady :) (My lovely friends Peninah and Teri-Anne). I'm going to be staying with Teri-Anne until Wednesday to help with the kids while Anders is out of the country on business.

And then it's on to a new address, a new roommate (please, God, may we be a blessing to one another!!), a new flat :)

A part of me is very very excited, and a part of me is very very sad to leave this family that I have been renting from the first few months in Sweden. We really have become a family together. T-A is my big sis, Anders my big bro, the kids my niece and nephew. We are so familiar with one another and appreciate one another so much. It's been really beautiful. I feel so at home with them. I'll miss this arrangement. They keep asking why in the world I would go to a one room flat with a roommate when I could be here!! And all I can think is, well, cheaper rent, but also that all-important element of learning to trust God in a new situation. Again. And I really long to have that bit of space that is kind of my own, to put my mark on, to rest in, to be hospitable with... Oh Lord, I can only wait on You and watch what You do with this new step...

Sunday was my first day back in the little church I'm working with and it was so lovely to see everyone and slide right back in to my place, but my heart is a bit of a jumble that God is tenderly untangling. Afterwards, T-A and the kids and I visited our friend Jonas, who I LOVE to lead worship with at church, at the hospital where he's in waiting for a surgery. He has something like MS and fell recently and fractured his knee cap :(

God is graciously reminding me of His beauty here to keep me from missing desperately His beauty about my family and home in America. He's so good like that. Yes, following Him in obedience takes perseverence, but He showers the path with glories and entices us with His love...

These photos were taken on a beautiful nearly 2 hour walk along a river to some waterfalls very near T-A and Anders' house. It's a walk He gave to me earlier in my stay in Sweden when I was seeking Him hard one day about a few specific things and needing Him to come through. His presence is so real to me in His beauty :)


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Safe&Sound

I'm here safe & sound-- a little bit sad and a little bit happy. I seem to be a constant jumble of little bits...


Arriving in Sweden I was struck by how fresh the air was to breathe in :) And it felt like a bit of well-needed reassurance from our God-- I find it so emotionally difficult to leave home each time. Then I was met at the airport by lovely friends, and the two little children whose house I lived in previously ran to jump into my arms :-) This is good, as after leaving my darling baby nieces at the airport, they were feeling very conspicuously empty.


On the flight over from Chicago to Copenhagen I was sat next to a lovely middle-aged Norwegian lady and had some very pleasant chats, which broke up a bit of the loneliness of travel. We even got on the subject of Jesus as she is a Humanist who doesn't do church but a Social Worker so we found we had much in common, but I was able to share with her that I do the "social work" that I do because of the love of Christ. I think God set her beside me just to be a loving, friendly presence as I felt so very sad and lonely after all my goodbyes, and once again facing an uncertain future alone. ("Ha! That's what you think, Leah!" He says :))


Now my eyelids are so heavy I can barely hold them open to see the screen. I will be doing alot to get settled in the next few days-- moving into my flat with my roommate & registering for my Swedish SSN are on the agenda for tomorrow.



But before I can sleep I just have to give a major shout-out to my sister and brother-in-law. They are such a blessing to me. Every time I'm home they take me into their home as often as I can visit, lend me their cars, feed me many a meal. They are often the ones driving to the airport to pick me up or drop me off, even though it throws their girls into distress for ages after I leave. You guys are so special to me and I am so thankful for your willingness in my life. Thank you for seeing me off at the airport yesterday. Unwrapping those little niecey arms from around my neck is always the hardest... I miss you all. Love you!! And praying for you... ("He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" -- Proverbs 11:25)


Resting in Him,
Leah
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