To the Young Lady in the Mall

This weekend I went to the mall with my mom. After shopping for awhile we decided to take a break. As we were sitting I noticed a group of ladies sitting not too far away. It was a beautiful girl who appeared to be in her early twenty’s, her mother, her aunt, and the older women’s children were there too, but they were playing in a designated area for children. As I am trying to mind my own business, the group near me seemed to become louder and had more of a sense of urgency in their conversations. What I could pick up was that the mother and aunt were desperately trying to get the young lady to leave her boyfriend; he doesn’t treat her well. She, however, did not want to listen to what they had to say. I almost went over and joined their conversation but I didn’t have the opportunity. To this young woman – read the words that I have to say .

~ I know how it feels to be treated poorly by those who supposedly love you. When you are used to this, it becomes easy to let anyone use and abuse you. It is hard to let someone genuinely love you when this is normal for you.

~ You are the role model to your younger sisters, those related by blood and not by blood. They are looking up to you! You may not realize it now but when you stay in an abusive relationship you are sending these girls the message that it is FINE to be in a romantic relationship where he doesn’t treat you right. Do you want your little sister to think that it’s okay for her boyfriend to hit her?

~ Your mother and aunt love you so much! They wouldn’t be begging you to leave him if he was a good guy!

~ What if you become pregnant? I never want to say that pregnancy is something that is bad if you are not in an ideal situation. I believe with all my heart that despite any circumstance that a woman becomes pregnant something great can come out of it. BUT if you get pregnant with his child, he will most likely run- if you’re lucky. What kind of situation will you be in then? What would be  worse is if he stayed? Even if he doesn’t abuse the child, the child will grow up in a home believing that abuse is normal! Is this the kind of mother that you want to be?

~ You have to make the decision to leave him. Anybody can talk to you and try to convince you to leave but ultimately it’s your choice. By the way that you were responding to your mother’s plea, I could tell that you were not ready to leave. I don’t even know you and I want you to leave, I’ve personally seen the affects of staying in an abusive relationship. Satistically, we all know someone who has personally been affected by some form of abuse. If you are trying to convince someone to leave feel, free to share this with them!

My last point is the most important.

You are worth so much more!!! As I stated earlier, it is hard to let someone love you, when you’ve had a twisted view of what love is. Several of my so called friends have used emotional abuse as their form of love. When you’re use to this, these relationships can be addictive. It wasn’t until I found my value before I let those relationships go. I can assure you that you deserve more in a significant other. You may be thinking that you’d rather be in an abusive relationship then no relationship at all. I can promise you that being single and away from the abuse feels so much better than having a relationship status. You could be single for the rest of your life, but I doubt it. If you do stay, is it worth the hardship?

Remember that if you change your mind, there’s always a way out. It might not be pleasant or easy, but I know that you can do it.

With love, Lama Leah

National Bullying Awareness Month- Forgiveness 

October is national bullying awareness month. I have lived through multiple experiences of being bullied but at least this time I’m not going to write about them, at least not directly. 

I feel that many times when the topic of bullying awareness is brought up we talk about our experiences and how we overcame them. We tell students to “talk to an adult” about what’s going on, and tell victims of bullying that what they are going through is not a reflection upon their self worth. It seems as if one of the most important part of bullying awareness is rarely talked about – forgiveness! 

Forgiveness is simple but yet complex. As a victim of bullying, I was never able to fully heal from my experiences until I learned and started practicing this. I have found out the hard way that not forgiving the mean girls did absolutely nothing positive for me, but instead gave them more power over me. Their actions in the past was affecting how I was moving forward into my future. 

I did not become angry as some do when they withhold forgiveness, but had guilt about holding onto a grudge. Within this time, the past and current actions of my peers who were bullying me, seemed to hurt more and more everyday. The following summer when I had no contact with these individuals, the pain of not forgiving them continued to grow. Even when I wasn’t around the bullying, I was giving power to the mean girls over me by not forgiving them. I was giving them the response that they wanted me to have. 

It took time to fully forgive those who have hurt me. Honestly, I am still forgiving some. You may be thinking, “forgiving is good but what my bullies did to me was so bad I’m not sure if I can do it. Not everything is forgivable.” I have believed this lie and have taken this to heart. 

I tend to subconsciously think that Christ died just for those who are morally good. The truth is – He didn’t. He died for Hitler, Queen Mary the first, that family member that I have a broken relationship with, my best friend that I love dearly, my friends, myself, AND those who have hurt me! If He can forgive all of those individual sins, then what is stopping me from forgiving the mean girls? Selfishly I think, if I can’t forgive my enemies how could God ever forgive me? I’m really not any different from them.

Forgiving is not admitting that what your enemy did to you was okay, or that it did not hurt. It is simply not holding on to their actions anymore. You are not obligated to become friends with them and does not give the other person permission to repeat their actions. 

Forgiving is being in physical chains but having access to the key. The longer you wait to come out of the chains, they become heavier on your body and soul. The person who locked you in the chains does not feel the affect of the weight upon your body the way you do. When you find the courage to pick up the key and take the chains off, your body is instantly relieved. 

Forgiving those who bully you does not guarantee that you will no longer be hurt by them. Holding a grudge will absolutely do no good to you. Most likely the one who is personally bullying you has been through the same thing themselves and takes the pain that they have and uses it to hurt others. Those who have been hurt, tend to hurt others. As a part of bullying awareness, we need to talk about the power of forgiving the bullies because if we don’t forgive them, even if they did not seek forgiveness, what does that show about your character? 

If you want to forgive the bully and you are not quite sure where to start here are a few pointers.

  • Start praying for your enemy.
  • Try to find a postive trait about them. 
  • Start to compliment them. This will start to change your perspective of them.
  • Remember that God forgives them. 

Forgiving does not have to happen overnight, but if you want change your emotional self, it does have to happen. 

“It’s as sweet as walking into a candy store.”

Casting Upon The Waters 

Hello readers! I hope that you are having a magnificent high holy days! I have been beyond blessed. 

For any of my readers who are learning about the feasts, I’ll briefly explain to you what’s going on. Last week Jews from all over the world observed Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year or Feasts of Trumpets. The next holiday is Yom Kippur. This is a time of fasting, repentance, and reflection. After that we celebrate Sukkot and I will explain that to you in several weeks. This is an intimate time of seeking G-d. 

Between the time of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we have a ceremomy called Tashlikh. At this ceremomy you physically cast your sins into a body of water using bread. It is an easy task but yet sentimental. 

As anyone who observes the feasts does, I have been reflecting about the lifestyle I have led this past year. Many of my friends have told me that I have changed this year. I have been able to see a difference myself. The truth is, all of my life, but especially the past four years of my life, has been a roller coaster! I have changed so much because life required me to. I have done some things that I didn’t think I would ever do (good and bad) and people have done and said things to me that I would never have dreamt of. I have gotten to know some amazing individuals and have physically and emotionally said goodbye to some of them. If I compare last year to the past three, life hasn’t really changed that much, but I have.

What I have done differently sounds simple but is yet so complex at the same time. The first thing that I have done is realized that the way others have hurt me was not my fault. I still recognize what others have done to me was wrong but I forgiven them, and more importantly I have forgiven myself. I no longer carry those burdens of the pain of questioning ‘why me?’ I can now answer that question of ‘why me?’ because I am strong, that’s why. I look back on the past sins I’ve committed and don’t look at them as regrets but opportunities to learn from my mistakes because I cannot ‘go back’ and undo what I have already done. Honestly, I am not sure if I would want to because I think overcoming my mistakes has helped shape who I have become. 

The next part seems simple and it is. I am learning not to compare my abilities, looks, and testimony to others. Girls compare themselves to other girls constantly! We always compare the physical beauty of others but when we do that we deny the G-d given beauty that we have individualy. We physically don’t compare to anyone else. Why don’t we see this as being SPECIAL instead of always trying to measure up to the physical ‘standard’ of beauty? 

I love fashion but when I go shopping I don’t look at the pictures of the models hung on the walls and windows. When I do that I unconsciously start to compare myself to that picture, but that is crazy to do because the picture isn’t even REAL. That picture has digital alterations! My dad is a graphic artist and photographer and I know what photoshopped pictures consist of. I am my dad’s practice model and sometimes he adds the photos of me on social media. Most of the time someone will comment something along the lines of, “Your daughter is beautiful.” Let me tell you something, almost every picture that he adds of me has been digitally enhanced.

I stay away from media that can be harmful or triggering to my walk with G-d or mental health. If I am tired of being down all of the time (because of a chemical imbalance), how in the world would it be a good idea to watch media that can trigger worse thoughts? As much as I love watching lovey dovey dramas, I can’t do that on some days. I have lastly learned how to say no to helping others when I can’t handle it. It is hard for me to do but in years past when I have gone into deep anxiety/depression it was when I was trying to ‘save’ everyone. It became too much to deal with. I can pray, but sometimes I just have to take a step back and say, “I’m sorry but I can’t be there for you this time.”

Here is my short list. I want to thank everyone who has prayed for me and helped get me to the place that I am today. I cannot list everyone by name because honestly I have no idea who has prayed. For the first time in a long time, I am proud of the way I am walking with G-d. I have not been living a perfect life but He is helping me strive to be the best that can become. I challenge you to reflect on the person that you were a year ago and compare it to the one that you are today. Be blessed.

You Do Have A Voice!

I have learned so much within the time that I have been regularly blogging. I have learned that as a believer it is important to share your stuggles with the world because you never know who is going through similar situations and needs encouragment. I also do not want to come across as a “perfect Christian.” Being honest about my journey being anything BUT perfect shows what Christianity is about. It is not about portraying yourself having a perfect life, but to live as Christ did. Although He lived a sinless life, He did not just associate himself with those who society would portray as being “perfect.” He chose to use the outcasts, and broken, but whole through Him, to do His work.

From the time I was young, I had a low self-image and self-esteem. I always believed that because of my learning disabilities, my value had somehow decreased and my deep thoughts and opinions were not wise enough to be told. I never thought that I was enough.

When I started writing and sharing my work I never thought that it would become what it has become. I did not expect my friends to read it, neverless complete strangers! About a year ago, I had a slow month. I checked stats often and they were constantly low. Someone asked me out of curiosity why I looked at them. They advised me not to be constantly checking if I am writing for myself. I followed their advice. I did not look once for weeks, but I continued to publish. At that point in my life, I was seeking professional mental health help. Because of my insurance, periodically, I had to make a “plan” and had to decide what I wanted to work on for the next several sessions. Personally, the most impactful “plan” that I had was called, “Feeling that you have a voice and using it.”

In the words of Madea, while working on that plan, “[she] slapped some sense into me.”
She would say, “Do you feel that you have a voice and that you can use it?”
“Not really…”
“Why not?”
“Because my thoughts are never good enough.”
“Says who? If you never share your thoughts how will anyone be able to know what they are?”

The words in the last statement have been transformational for me. I had never thought of it in that way before. At that point, I started writing more frequently but still didn’t look at the stats. I decided that it didn’t matter if anyone was reading Lama-Leah as long as I shared my heart in every post and shared about G-d while doing it. After several weeks, I finally checked. I had come to the knowledge that I was either blogging for my own mental health purposes of getting used to sharing my thoughts and testimony with the world and that writing was a to boost my self esteem, or I was blogging to bring glory to the Kingdom in ways that I couldn’t on my own. The moment came that I checked my stats and to my suprise they were high, not only in America but several other countries, as well. Lama-Leah was being used for both.

I had always believed the lie that because of my academic disabilities I am not creative, worthy, intelligent, wise, and that my voice doesn’t deserve to be spoken or heard. But when I actually started using it, I started to realize that this simply isn’t true. I was deceived into believing that I could’t make an impact for the Kingdom. I was comparing myself and abilities to others but when I stopped doing that I found the ways that I can make an impact. I see others hurting and can use that as an opportunity to minister. I can be a friend. I can bake/cook for others, listen, encourage, write, and use my voice in order to make a difference.

I don’t need a perfect ACT score, or 4.0 GPA in order to do any of that. I personally believe that Satan made me believe that I do not have a voice or the ability to make an impact for G-d, because he knew that once I believed I could indeed make a change for the world, and found my value in Christ, I would be unstoppable.

I am not going to be the doctor who moves to a third world country and devotes their life to saving dying children. I am going to be the one who writes a book someday and it will encourage others to keep walking with the L-rd. I know that I have a voice and I can use it.

Unfortunately, I can not go back and live in the past but I can create myself a brighter future. The great thing about life is that you can never go back into time but you always have the choice to make today better than yesterday. I am really starting to see how G-d is using my brokenness that the world gave me and I caussed myself from living in sin and He is taking all of that JUNK and creating beauty from it. How will I let anyone know what He has done if I don’t use my voice? What good does that do Him when He is the one who has made the transformations?

To anyone who is doubting the power that they have, please let me encourage you. You will never know how much of a difference you can make in the world and more importantly the Kingdom(!!) until you try. You hold brillant thoughts – let others hear them! Don’t spend your life not using your full potential. Think about where the world could be today if we all used our G-d given voices. I spent 17 years not believing any of this but keeping all of my thoughts inside. I wonder where Lama-Leah would be if I had started believing in myself and finding my full value in Christ sooner. My works are read all over the world, what could I have had accomplished if I had started sooner?

I promise you that you have something incredible to offer the world. You have the choice to use it or not. I encourage you to do the first. Love you all!

“The greatest way you can give up power is believing that you don’t have any.”

Strong Tree Roots

Happy Jewish new year! This is my favorite season because of the emphasis on Christ’s plan.

I have been thinking about what I was going to write about for Rosh Hashanah for several days but I haven’t had any ideas. This is ironic because Rosh Hashanah is probably my favorite holiday but I had nothing. I spent over three hours yesterday sitting at my computer trying to write and ended up with two different posts but nothing that I was comforatble sharing quite yet.

As I was getting ready to go to Synagogue this evening, I was in my room doing my makeup. I can spend quite a bit of time doing my makeup on certian days because I enjoy experimenting with the colors. It wasn’t long into my makeup routine until I realized that I needed some more light. I opened the curtains and realized how much the two fruit trees outside of my bedroom window have grown. These trees were planted four years ago (almost to the day). Something that is as simple as a fuirt tree has many lessons about faith. Here are a few things that I could think of.

1) It takes many years for a tree to grow. A tree that is big and strong takes years to establish. It does not happen quickly.

2) A tree has to have strong roots in order to stand.

3) If it is in a good environment, it will bear good fruit.

4) It becomes strong because of the conditions it endures. The trees here in Kansas are strong because they endure extreme weather conditions every year. They endure heat, blizzards, thunder storms, extreme wind, even mild tornados and can stay rooted in the ground.

During Rosh Hashanah we eat pomegrantes, dates, honey, and apples. What would we consume on Rosh hashana if the plants died as soon as the weather changed just a little bit?

Personally, the enemy has fought hard(er) to get me to fall into sinful habits duirng the high holy days. I look forward to see what G-d will reveal to me at each holiday, but I know that Satan doesn’t want me to find out. I know that I am not the only one! I can’t even imagine what the devil is trying to do to my fellow believers who are observing the feasts or even simply going before G-d in worship.

I hope that enemy won’t try to attack – anyone! But I know that he despises anyone who goes before G-d. Remember, when you put on the full armor of G-d, nothing is impossible. The strongest trees endure the most extreme weather conditions in order to have strong roots and bear fruit.

Keep your roots strong and may they strengthen during this holiday season. “Finally, be strong in the L-rd and in His mighty power” ~ Ephesians 6:10

Shanah Tovah Umetukah