A Year After AMTC

One year ago, I graduated from Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ (AMTC) at the Shine Tour in Chicago. I have learned an abundant amount of information about the industry, and myself. I could write a book about all that I have learned in the past 365 days however, I decide to share a few important or just plain handy information and tips.

  • You don’t need to keep 10,000 outfits in your car at a time. Life can get hectic for sure, and you really don’t know when a job will present itself, however, a modeling bag and a shoe bag should be enough.
  • Enter the job as if you are a model from NYC, be humble as if you’re from Kansas
  • Cliff Bars and a bottle of water are lifesavers in your bag
  • Watch your mouth, this community can be malicious at times and it can be easy to indulge in gossip
  • Dry Runs (visiting the location prior to the call time and getting the scope on the area) are always necessary and you will not regret doing one.
  • Stop investing in people who don’t want your skills, help, or wisdom.
  • Use Instagram Business
  • Be cautious when considering collaborations. If the end results won’t add value to your portfolio, you don’t need to do it. I LOVE doing shoots with a darker theme to it, but would I ever add photos of looking like a sad, lonely, child in an abandoned building to my book? How would my agent be able to market these photos for commercial jobs?
  • Organization will help you tremendously in the long run

You may be wondering what have I accomplished since my time has ended with AMTC. It has been a crazy year, and I haven’t accomplished as much as I would have liked, however, I’ve continued to move forward in my career. In the past year, I have…

  • Graduated Modeling school
  • Walked the runway a couple of times
  • Did a short film that won an award
  • received some nice feedback from a commercial casting agent (this was a total surprise because I’m not 100% an actress at heart)
  • Did several dozen photo shoots
  • Signed with an amazing mother agent

I would like to personally thank all of the staff and volunteers at AMTC, Hoffman International Model and Talent Agency, Wlaa Style, Impact Models, my mother, and all of the photographers, clients, and hairstylists that I’ve worked with this past year. Without you, I would not be where I am at today.

I think the biggest lesson of all is that I’ve learned that it is not healthy to compare my journey to others. I am connected with the majority of the other performers who attended the 2017, Chicago Shine Tour, and some of my peers are working with big-name clients while others are not. I am happy and excited to see what this group of talented individuals are going to continue to do in the entertainment industry. Part of me feels like I should be booking these big jobs because my peers are. I have worked hard, but it does not feel like my career has moved at all in the past year. When I take a step back, I realized just how much I have grown and learned and that in itself has value. How can I ever grow if I only put my focus on the success of others and not myself?

Comparison can be good, but it can also be unhealthy. On a runway, you have to be focused on what is at the end of the stage. Yes, you have to be aware of what is going on around you, but when it’s your time to step on stage, your focus has to only be on end goal, or you will literally fall off the runway. I have fallen off of the runway in a literal sense one time, and a metaphorical sense, several times.

My encouragement for you is to stay focused while you walk the runway of life. Stand tall, take long strides, look fierce, make eye contact with your audience, and continue moving forward. Keep shining ❤

Photo courtesy of Nerdy Studios

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Yom Kippur Playlist 2018- Growing up Messianic

Shalom, the holiday of Yom Kippur begins in a couple of hours at Sunset of September 18, 2018, and will go until the sunset of the 19th. Contrary to the majority of most Jewish holidays, this is a somber observation. As almost everyone has their own interpretations as to how this day should be observed, I decided to put together a short Messianic driven playlist for your day.

Worshipful Songs:

Bo Ruach Elohim

In Your Presence- Paul Wilbur

Let The Weight of Your Glory Fall- Paul Wilbur 

Brokennes Aside- All Sons and Daughters

*For Some reason I cannot get a link to work on this one

How Can It Be? – Lauren Daigle 

Kodesh- Paul Wilbur 

Uplifting Songs

Face to Face- Mat Kearney 

This is Amazing Grace- Phil Wickham 

Start a Fire- Unspoken 

If you personally decide not to use electronics on this Holy day, I hope that this playlist can be a blessing in the future. May you have an easy and meaningful fast.

-Leah

Happy Rosh Hashana 2018- Growing up JewISH

Shalom ya’ll

I have been in a creative slump lately. I have lots of ideas for content, but yet nothing for this blog. I figured that since Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) is quickly arriving I should add something to series.

It might officially begin until September 22, however, Starbucks is selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes so, in my book, fall is here. While coffee plays a huge part in my life during Autumn (which is always a good thing), this is my favorite season.

When I think about the months between September-November I get warm and fuzzy feelings. While there are so many spectacular things about Fall, the High Holy days are my favorite. The Jewish faith is known for their holidays. There are 12 holidays within the Jewish calendar, but this does not include Shabbat (which happens on a weekly basis), or acknowledgment of the new cycles of the moon.

The High Holy Days are Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur. There are 10 days in between the two observances, and within that time we are to evaluate how we have been living and repent.

After Yom Kippur, the remaining holidays in the fall are Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. This time of year is special to me because while I am an outsider for the majority of the year, there seems to be more of a sense of community when the High Holy Days begin, theirs more dancing, praying, and overall joy.

I have shared before being raised within the Messianic movement was difficult. I had a tough time finding where I belonged and this is an issue that many who grew up as I did experience. As I have grown older and wiser, I am confident to say that I know who I am and whos I am. It does not bother me like it once did that my religious viewpoints and convictions make me different from virtually everyone that I am ever around.

The traditional foods for Rosh Hashana are apples and honey. These foods are sweet individually but when they are paired together, they are even sweeter, they compliment each other. I like to think that they could represent the Jews and the Gentiles and how they make a beautiful and complete combination together. I think this combo is why I love the holidays. Throughout the world,  Jews and non Jews get together separately, and sometimes together to celebrate the appointed times that are in the Torah. While we may have different understandings as to what the holidays mean to us, we are still celebrating.

I long for the day that we have complete unity with all of Gods people with the Mashiach. I encourage you to be in prayer for the Jewish people as we are officially in the High Holy day season and the future is unknown for many.

L’shanah tovah tikateiv v’tichateimu

Answers To Questions- Guest Blog

This blog post was a response to the questions that I asked in my previous blog post. Check it out here: Questions I have: Growing up Messianic part 3

What do people do on Friday nights?

In some ways I could turn this question right back; I mean, what do you do Sunday mornings? But let’s have a (small) history lesson. Messianic churches meet Friday nights or Saturday mornings to keep Sabbath. Sabbath is the Jewish Holy Day/Day of Rest that lasted from Sunset on Friday to Sunset on Saturday. It was commanded by G-d in the only testament to observe the Sabbath by worshiping G-d and resting. Messianic churches continue with this tradition.

On the other hand, the “protestant” church tends to worship on Sunday mornings, although more and more churches are having non-traditional times to meet the needs of their congregations. The tradition of meeting began in the early church after Yeshua/Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. Soon it became a tradition in many places. But the main thing I want to point out is that in the Messiah we have the freedom to worship anytime, anywhere. We are not confined to Sundays or Fridays! In fact, many of the underground church meet on different days to avoid detection, all to worship the same G-d.

Why is bacon so trendy?

Ok, to be honest, I don’t know the answer to this one. Why has society made guacamole and bacon the “in” thing? But the important thing I want to highlight is what the Bible says about this topic:

Romans 14:15–For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

While I believe we are free to choose to follow kosher rules or not, regardless of the decision an individual makes, we are to respect it. If in their heart a Christian has decided to not eat meat, we are to respect that. In if in their heart a Christian has decided to eat meat, we are to also respect that. Christianity is about loving one another, respecting one another.  And later Paul goes on to say:

Romans 14:20-22a–Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and G-d.

(For much more detail go to Romans 14.) If someone has decided to follow the rules laid out in the Old Testament for food and they are your guest, follow their rules. Don’t try and persuade them to eat bacon. I mean, really, in light of the Gospel, eating bacon is a really silly thing to get hung up on.

Why don’t you dance at Church? Aren’t you supposed to be joyous? Where is all your joy?

At this point, I think it is important to mention that the American Church is different than the Universal Church. Many, many non-Messianic churches do practice dancing during services. In America, it is rare to see a church that has anything more than hand-raising.

Like many things in the Western Church, not dancing started with good intentions but had poor outcomes. I think that we can all agree that there is some dancing that is not honoring to G-d.  So, the Church outlawed dancing just in case someone would abuse it. This carried over in the Puritans when they first came to America and established the American church. They had strict and legalistic rules about basically everything. From dress to dance, people’s lives were controlled by often non-Biblical rules. That tradition has sadly continued for many Churches in America and other Western countries. I would love to see more churches embrace dancing as something honoring to God. As for me personally, I’m really not good at dancing, but I’ll give it a try!

Why do you only celebrate Christmas and Easter?

For Christmas–I’m not really sure why we celebrate it. Historically, it is likely that Jesus/Yeshua was born in the spring. Most things about Christmas have secual beginnings including the date–December 25th–the winter solstice. In fact, Christmas wasn’t even a holiday until 336 AD. At one point the Puritans even outlawed the practice because of its pagan origins!

And as for Easter–I love what it stands for Jesus/Yeshua’s victory over sin and death! What I can’t stand is the commercial fluff that tends to get lumped in. It’s spring, new life, eggs, baby animals–fine. It is spring after all. But Easter is the celebration of some kind of magical bunny, it is the Victory over sin and death. I have often wanted to grab the person sitting next to me in church and shake them. “Do you not get it? We have victory in Jesus! We are forgiven!” I and a group of people at my church would actually celebrate Passover Easter evening. We prayed for the people who are still opening their doors awaiting a Messiah that has already come. We remembered the history of the people of G-d and celebrated that we were called in Christ/Messiah.

Now that experience is rare. When I was first able to read the Bible for myself (sometime around 8th grade because I have dyslexia), I was astounded on how many amazing feasts and holidays there were recorded. They were vibrant and full of life and I wondered why they are not celebrated often. Sadly, I still don’t have the answer. I would love to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Weeks and so on. Come to Church, there are so many reasons to celebrate the joy that is ours in Christ!

Why are you scared to visit my congregation?

Honestly, it is also the reasons that very few Christians refuse to consider missions as a personal calling–fear of the unknown. We don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if we will look foolish–and we are oh, so afraid of looking foolish. We don’t know if we will be accepted. We don’t know if the service is in English. We don’t know, or we believe misconceptions. No that is not an excuse!

We don’t know what the Messianic church is. Is it a different denomination like Baptist or Evangelical? Is it a different religion such as Catholicism, Judaism, or Islam? To put it simply I believe the Messianic Church is a cultural Church. Most of us go to an American Church. At my church, we also host an Arabic and Chinese service. They are very different than our English services, not because they worship a different G-d or speak a different language, but because they come from a different culture. A church is Sub-Saharan Africa and a Japanese Church look very different, but both worship G-d. Neither is wrong, they are just different from each other.

Why do I get looked at differently when you find out I’m Messianic?

This is the hardest question to answer. It is simply because the Church is made up of broken and sinful people like me. Many people’s hearts are filled with hate and have yet to be transformed by G-d’s love. Even though I’m not Messianic, I have faced more than my fair share of hateful Christians.

But this is what I do know. I John 4:8 says:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The only conclusion that I can reasonably come to is that Christians who hate are not real Christians. I have met Christians that hate me because I have dyslexia and other learning disabilities. I have met Christians that question my faith because I study nursing science. And I know Christians that would have you believe I’m evil because I am a single woman pursuing missions.

But I have also met Christians that accept me for who I am. Who love me beyond what I could ever earn. I know Christians that encourage me to continue pursuing nursing and missions. I know Christians that continue following after G-d and will stick with me through thick and thin. The Church, like the members themselves, are broken. It is so easy to focus on all the suffering and wrong that happens at the hands of the Church. It is much harder to focus on the good the church does–that is the real church–the church that deeply loves others.

This blog post was written by Kayla Willson. Check out her blog https://iftoliveischrist.wordpress.com/

 

Questions I have: Growing up Messianic part 3

Being Messianic is more than just a religion to me, it is a lifestyle and love. I would not change my upbringing for the world. As I have only known this faith, I have a few questions for other believers and the non-Jesus loving world.

  • What do people do on Friday nights? I grew up ALWAYS being at Temple and that is all I know
  • Why is bacon so trendy? Really though, what is the appeal to it?
  • Why don’t you dance at Church? Aren’t you supposed to be joyous? Where is all of the joy?
  • Why do you only celebrate Christmas and Easter? Especially when we are not commanded to nessecarly celebrate those events? I am NOT saying that those are not important to observe or that there isn’t value in it. I wonder this because there are several Mitzvahs about Gods appointed times in the Old Testament, so why don’t you follow them?
  • Why are you scared to visit my congregation? For real though, why? I invite so many to visit my place of worship and very few accept my offer.

And lastly…..

  • Why do I get looked at differently when you find out that I am Messianic? This is a questioned that I have always wondered. Occasionally, I am told that my faith is cool, but often times I receive judgment and ridicule (see previous blog posts for a more in-depth reasoning behind this question).

I love the up bringing that I had and it made me who I am today. As only a few of the Messianic childeren that I grew up with, have chosen to stay in the faith, I feel honered to be able to say that I have kepth the faith. These are simply a coulple of questions that I have always had about life. If you have any comments, or questions feel free to reach out. Love you all.

-Lama-Leah

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A Life-Long Struggle

It has been a lifelong struggle and for most of it, I have felt alone. I distinctly remember the day that it started, and from then on my life was never the same. I was about 7 years old, I was laying in my bed and felt of wave of sadness that I had never experienced before. It was more than being simply sad, in a single moment, life suddenly seemed unbearable. Within this moment, my life truly started escalating. It was not long after that, that I began developing unhealthy relationships with food. I tried my very best to hide the sadness that I could not explain. I knew that I probably needed professional help, but did not know how to bring that topic of discussion up to my parents. Anyone who knew me as a young child probably saw the overwhelming depression, in fact, anyone who knew me ever probably saw that in me.

Fast forward to 2014 and my mental health took a turn for the worst. Life seemed even more overwhelming and it was more visible. I started attending therapy every few weeks. While my mother had good intentions when she put me into therapy that was not enough for me to recover and heal. At that point in my life, I had mentally accepted that I was never going to get better, and because of that, I stopped trying to fight. I accepted that I was not going to get better, and when I did that, I eliminated the possibility of any sort of healing.

By 2015, I had tried to end my life and started going to therapy on a weekly and bi-weekly basis. I must admit however, I still did not personally seek or desire recovery even though I was taking the steps to find it. On top of still dealing with extreme depression, and anxiety, I started dealing with profound PTSD in the form of depersonalization and dissociation disorder.

After being in therapy for over two years, I began to start sharing with my therapist. I started to desire to put the work into therapy that was needed to make it work. I am a completely different person than who I was throughout my adolescence. As I have gone through a transformation with my mental health, I am not healed. I know how to cope with my mental conditions, but they are still there. I have leaned on Christ for healing, however, this is something that I am still waiting on healing for. I know where hope comes from, but sometimes that hope does not feel like it is enough to help me get through the day. I have leaned on Christ more than some will ever know. I have felt like a bad Christian but I have had to come to the conclusion that depression is a chemical imbalance. I take precautions so that it will not become worse. For the most part, I know what my limits are so that I can prevent things from escalating.

I am not always, “Okay” but I have learned how to be okay with that. Those who know my story, tend to think that I managed to get through the year 2015 and I am 100% healed, and the truth I am not. I am rarely 100% okay. I struggle on almost a daily basis. I do my best at hiding it, and for the most part, I believe that I do okay at succeeding at it. I am not ashamed to say that I struggle. I realize when I need to make an appointment with a therapist or look into pharmaceuticals. It has been a lifelong struggle, and probably always will be. As long as I truly know that my identity does not lie within my health, career, or achievements, but only in Christ, I am going to be okay. My life changed the day that I started having mental health struggles but I choose to look at it not as a challenge but as a life-long strengthening process. I love you all so much! If you have any comments or thoughts please do not hesitate to reach out.

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Finding Momentum In The Moments

The fame, the money, and the glamorous life are a few things that are probably fantasized about when they randomly think about what it would be like to be a model or an actor. As I’ve shared throughout my blog, a few years ago I felt God leading me into the path of the entertainment industry to be a light upon others, but I was scared to go. I ran away from what could be my calling, because I was scared. After about 2 years of running, my boyfriend at the time broke up with me and told me to do what I was supposed to do and the door is have been opening ever since then. While there have been many doors opened, many have been closed as well. Out of everything that I’ve learned through this wild Journey, I believe my character and determination have growing in tremendous ways.

I became apart of AMTC, in Spring of 2017. I did not know that direction that I was supposed to go in, and so on a whim, I auditioned to be an actress, singer, and model. I had less than one day to prepare for anything for my audition and so I prepared the best I could and tried my best to perform as if I had more time to prepare. When I auditioned, although there were many people in the room, I had a sense of God’s peace. I felt comfortable and that’s not a feeling I was used to at the time. I did a cold read, I sang a song from Jungle Book, and did the walk that I learned when I was showing dogs. The next day, a scout from the organization called me to share that I had received callbacks in every area that I auditioned for. I had peace about everything and I came in that afternoon and signed the paperwork. Once I committed myself, I was required to attend classes and training. While I was training, I was able to instill some self-discipline that has helped take me towards the places that I hope to go.

Every few weeks my friend Amanda and I would drive to Denver and back in about a span of 24 hours. I would leave the Wichita at 4 a.m Saturday morning, drive to Salina which is a few hours East of where I live, meet up with my friend, hit the road for Colorado be at the hotel where the class would be held with an hour or two to spare, learn from and grow from the professionals in the afternoon, be back on the road for home by 6 p.m, and be home by the middle of the night on Sunday morning. Sound kind of crazy? Well it was. Slightly dangerous as well but we would stock up on energy drinks and sugar for the commute to home.

Those weekends were exhausting but held so much value. When I said, “Okay I am ready to go to Nineveh” I knew it would not be easy. After a few of these crazy weekends, I began doing a little bit of modeling back home. I started to make it a point to schedule a photo shoot or an event that would help me grow as a performer on Sunday afternoons. The same Sunday afternoons that were followed by the insane Saturdays. Not because those were a fun time to schedule photo shoots, but I desired to keep the momentum going. They were not always pleasant times to push myself. On the way home from almost every Sunday photoshoot, I would have to stop on the way home for coffee or to walk around in an area, to simply wake myself up. But I want to change those weekends for the world because I learned so much about how you have to keep going, even when it is not pleasant if you want to see results.

A few weeks ago, I auditioned for a show that I have dreamed of being in, even before I desired to be a model. Kansas City Fashion Week. When I found out that there were no official height requirements, and that the auditions were open calls, I was excited. But then reality hit that I am tiny and do not have a body for a fashion model. I knew I probably had no chance of being hired so I passed on this opportunity. The afternoon before open calls, I received a random boost of confidence, and very last minute, drove out to Kansas City to audition. All I could think was, “What if I could actually get a callback? What if I wowed the judges? What if I could show them that a commercial model could walk a runway?”

I put on my skinny jeans, put on the black heels that I have walked miles in, arrived early enough to be the third model in line to audition, and just went for it. I was by far the shortest girls in line. I was not the prettiest, my skin decided to randomly breakout that day, I looked chunky, but I walked into the audition acting like I was a model.

I recently received the rejection email. Was disappointed? For sure. Was my self-confidence injured? Not really. Going in, I knew my chances of getting and call back would be slim because of my measurements. But to me, it was never truly about booking the job. It was about finding the courage and the “Umph” to try to achieve the impossible.

Every few weeks I received a message on social media or speak to someone in person and the conversation usually turns into something similar to the following: “Leah I have been following you on social media and it is super cool what you are doing. I always have secretly wanted to do what you were doing, and I’m excited to see where you will continue to go.”

While I don’t see what is special about me, I genuinely appreciate the messages that I received. From what I have discovered, everyone wants the dream but only if you are willing to actually go get it.

I may never book a big fashion Show or sign with a large agency. But I am determined not to live a life of, “What If?” What if I had actually gone to that go see that I was scared to go to because of my height? What if I had responded to the proposition I received on Instagram? What if I had lived everyday believing that on this day, my life could change for the better or for the worst? What if I trusted in the process, and embraced the small steps?

My challenge for you is to begin following your dream with an all or nothing attitude. Find ways to push yourself to keep the momentum going. Be okay with staining out. Believe in yourself, no matter how big or small your dream is. I believe in you. But do you live in yourself?

Love,

Leah

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Be a Lemur, Be YOU

Hello everyone! I hope that you are having a fabulous week. I decided to take a small break from my serious, “Growing Up Messianic” and write a feel good type of post.

If you do not keep up with my modeling, I will give you a brief update of what is going on with my career.

In the Spring of 2017, I reluctantly followed the path that I felt God leading me, and started the journey towards becoming an actress/model. That summer, I began building my portfolio and traveled all over the country to participate in industry related classes and workshops. By the fall, I had a semi-large portfolio and I competed in AMTC’s SHINE in Chicago. Despite walking in a difficult season within the winter, I continued working towards my dreams and goals. This spring I signed with a Mothering Agency and I am looking forward to seeing what the Summer brings.

When I said, “Yes” to where I felt the Lord calling me, I had NO IDEA what kind of a wild ride When I take a step back and reflect on everything that I have done in the past yearISH, it seems simply unbelievable. From having several opportunities to train with top industry professionals, fitting five photoshoots into a weekend, to having the privilege to walk and perform with career and life-changing VIPs in the audience. Even with all of the CRAZY opportunities I have had, I have rarely gotten nervous before or during any of these experiences. I generally feel comfortable in front of the camera or when I am on stage.

This past weekend, I was pushed in a way that I was not expecting too.  On Friday, I received a text message from my agent to show up to the agency following day wearing…………

WORKOUT CLOTHES

Out of everything that I have had to do that was uncomfortable, nothing has made me more upset then the thought of working out with not only a group but with other models. It is silly, but I did a nice and long ugly cry when I got this message. My anxiety skyrocketed, and I was praying that I would get sick in order to get out of this. I had flashbacks to Junior High gym class, where I was always the last one to fished the timed mile. I was dredging this request from my agent.

What could possibly go wrong? Ummm it could be apparent that I rarely do a vigorous workout, that I have absolutely no athletic ability, or that deep down, it terffies me to work out with others.

I was anxious and nervous. I am fairly secure and confident in my measurements, however, I still sometimes become insecure about my extra skin, height, and commercial features. I started doing exactly what I try so hard to avoid doing, and I was comparing myself to the other models.

My mom tried to comfort me, and she gave me some advice that I feel can be valuable to anyone. She told me the following:

“Leah you are not a fashion model and never will be, you know that. You may occasionally get a booking for fashion model look, but you will not spend the majority of your career on a runway. Those fashion girls, are like giraffes, they have long legs and long necks. You are not a giraffe, not even a baby giraffe because you do not have a neck of a fashion model. I see you as being a lemur. You are small but have big eyes. You cannot compare a giraffe to a lemur, because they are extremely different. Embrace who you are. Go into your —- (castings, bookings, auditions, ect) with a good attitude, be okay with laughing at yourself, work hard, know your stuff, and you will go far.”

My mother is very wise. Being a model is far more then being, “Pretty” but being able to bring a unique look to project. I apprecaite that so far, in every modeling or training oppertunity that I have had, I have not looked like anyone else in the room. Likewise, nobody is going to have the “Leah” quirks and personality.

My challenge for you is to go into the world an embrace exactly who you are, whether you are a llama, cat, sloth, or a peacock. BE YOU and be AMAZING at it.

If you would like to follow my modeling journey you can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

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Messianic and Dating? Growing up Messianic Pt.2

“How do you get a guy to back off? Tell him you are Messianic and you will probably just scare him away.”

LOL. If you are Messianic and have ever been looking in the romance department, you can probably relate too well to this joke!

Dating and romantic relationships, in general, are a funny, odd, and sometimes just frustrating when you identify as Messianic. I have had a few non-serious, romantic relationships, but have only been in one relationship with another man who identifies as Messianic. While I keep aspects of my life both very open and very private, my ‘love life’ is something that I haven’t shared much about on my blog, or even on my social media. While I don’t see the need to share about ALL of my dating experiences, I will share about two that broke my spirit and gave me hope that it may be possible to find a Messianic man.

I was 16 and fell for a guy that seemed completely opposite of me, at least from the outside. He was real with the world, and I appreciated that more than anything. We were both extremely broken at the time, and were able to find comfort in each other. Deep down, I knew that we weren’t going to last, “Forever” even though, at the time I wanted that. We dated for several months, and I found out that his parents (who I had never met), didn’t like me, because I was messianic. His parent’s opinions of me stemmed into our relationship, and it wasn’t too much longer before they had a long list as to why they didn’t like me. After several months, he broke my heart, and I can’t help but wonder if it had to do something with the fact that I was Messianic. His parents made several remarks, about it, and so did he. To them, I was in a cult, which I had a suspicion that they were simply anti-sematic . I am grateful that things ended because I cannot imagine being in a relationship with someone who is prejudice against the Jewish nation.

The next guy that I am going to share about happened more recently. I was in high school, but close to graduation and I realized that there was a new guy in my congregation, who was very cute. I didn’t know his name but knew that he was probably significantly older than me and knew that I should hold off on making a move until I graduated. The winter preceding graduation, I got to know the nameless guy better. I was correct, he was significantly older than me. We ended up in a relationship by Valentine’s day.  As I am not used to having a true connection with people, in a platonic or romantic way because of my religious roots, and it was strange to have that. The entire relationship seemed surreal but in a good way. It was a positive relationship but after a few months, we realized that we were both going different places in life, as we had an age difference that was more than a few years.

Romance is a tricky thing as a Messianic young adult. First of all, where do you find someone? The Messianic community in my area is very small, but also I refuse to go to Temple with the intention to find someone. I go to worship God. Also, is it okay to date someone who isn’t Messianic if they are Christian? Throughout my life, I have generally felt more acceptance from guys who wouldn’t consider themselves to be religious at all.

Today I am single, but I know that I have several ladies in my synagog who would be more then willing to try to set me up with a partner if I asked them too. I am perfectly fine being single as I am very focused on my dreams and goals. I don’t feel like I am ‘Missing’ anything. Especially, as I have little time, even for my friends. At this point, I feel perfectly content in my life. Although I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to a romantic relationship, at some point, but within this season I am not going to simply ‘wait around’ for a guy.

I hope that this gave you a little bit of insight on dating as a Messianic. If I am supposed to settle down one day, I have faith that I will somewhere, and somehow find a Messianic man. However, in the meantime, I have a lot of stuff to get done.

-Leah

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Accept Me, Don’t Try To Convert Me: Growing Up Messianic Pt. 1

My life has been, well strange. I have shared various key parts of my life story throughout this blog. When I began writing, almost three years ago, I shared mainly about my own struggles of not really fitting in as a Messianic believer. I haven’t shared as much in the past year or so because about every time that I write about Messianic Judaism, I offend SOMEBODY, and it is usually a Christian before it is a Jew. Today I chose to turn my head away from the possible criticism and share once again about my experiences growing up Messianic.

I was in Preschool when my family was invited to visit a Chanukah service at a Messianic Synagogue, and my family fell in love with it. Within a year, we were celebrating all of the feasts, keeping Sabbath, and were on a completely Kosher diet. Now, at 20 years old, this is the only lifestyle that I know. Even within the seasons that I haven’t been following God, I have always kept Kosher, and at least gone to services for holidays. Although I have a few problems with how members of my denomination have a tendency to handle some issues, I do not see myself leaving the roots that were ingrained into me.

Here are a few thoughts I have about growing up in the Messianic, Torah following movement.

I learned early on, that generally the Christians will not accept you, and if they do, they will probably try to convert you. I struggle with what I call, “Sunday Morning Christians.” One of my strongest and most traumatizing stories that I have, happened when was about seven years old. My family was visiting a Baptist Church and during Children’s church, the teacher taught a salvation message. The teacher asked me if I was saved, and I shared that I was messianic, and she proceeded to tell me that I was not saved if I was Messianic and that I was going to go to hell. I was scared, for YEARS after that, that I wasn’t truly saved, and repeatedly asked Yeshua into my heart. Looking back, I wonder how someone who is so anti-Semitic would ever be put into a position of leadership.

I have story after story about being emotionally scarred, and somewhat discriminated by members of the Christian church. I guess, you just learn not to bring it up, if you want to be accepted by fellow Christians. I have found, that it is honestly not worth bringing up with potential new friends who are Christians. I do not deny my faith, however, there’s a time and a place to discuss who the Torah is for, we agree on the important content so that is really all that matters. I never make plans on a Friday night, besides Temple. I can recite Hebraic prayers in basically my sleep. I sleep in on Sunday mornings and I couldn’t tell you the name of a single hymn until I joined the choir in my private Christian high school. I would not have my life any other way though.

I have a HUGE appreciation for human connection, especially with the few people who I can actually relate too. I could not have made it through my teen years without my many long venting sessions with Margo and Zevi, two young Messianic believers that I grew up with in my temple, that can relate to the struggles and tribulations that come with proclaiming you are a Torah follower. I am grateful for all of the older members (mainly women) who helped guide me with scripture about the questions I have, especially about how to practically take the Torah and put it into practice.  I am grateful for the random strangers that I meet online, mainly through Lama-Leah who are Messianic as well. But more importantly, I am grateful for those who love me unconditionally. Those who don’t  accuse me of being in a cult, when they find out that I am Messianic. In 2017-2018, I have been connected with more people who have done just this.God has placed more free thinking, open-minded, individuals in my life then I have ever had and I could not be more grateful for all of them.

Through my unique upbringing, I had to learn from a very early age to be okay with being different. I rarely felt any sense of belonging, therefore in those rare times that I feel like I truly belong, I have learned how to treasure it. I feel extremely special that I had to learn this so soon in life, because I am not afraid to be different, to stand out a little, to defend my believes when appropriate. am not afraid to be out of my comfort zone because I am rarely in it.  Life can be extremely limited when you life a life of fear of being different, but I say that there’s power in being so.

As a young adult, I can honestly say that the biggest and probably most important thing that I learned out of the constant trials that occur when you proclaim Messianic Judaism as your own, is to learn how to love unconditionally. People will be different from you, but you will always be remembered by how you make others feel. Be the LIGHT in someones world. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Make others wonder why you are different, and how you make that difference. Be the person, and influence that you needed when you were younger. What I needed, was someone, a friend who wasn’t judgmental but also wasn’t a negative influence. I needed someone who didn’t try to get me to convert, but loved me for who I was. I craved acceptance, but eventually found that I was better off standing alone. I want things to be different for the next generation of Messianic believers, because keeping this lifestyle is challenging enough. I want my fellow young Torah followers to be proud to skip a friday night high school football game because they are in temple, or be okay with not eating the pepperoni pizza at a party. I want things to be different, and it can start with me.

In every path that you walk through, you are going to experience beasts and beauties. My prayer for you is that you will always find a way to find beauty within ashes.

 

~Shalom,

Leah