Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Beginnings|Reeces Rainbow

New Beginnings are never easy. Yes, they are challenging, but yes it is worth the challenge! As I adjust to living in a whole new type of life for me their are types when I just want to cry it all out, hop on a plane ride back to California but yet their are times of Peacefulness that make me enjoy this new life even more.
December 2012 with a stroke of a pen thousands of orphans lives were forever changed & mine as well as many others (especially the families) were shredded to a million pieces. For awhile I like others hoped for change. We thought a special needs amendment would be made. 9 months later & not much progress has been made & it hurts :(. I thought I was getting back on board & I have made progress but yet I was afraid to start to love a new person in fear of having to let go.
Every year November 1st-December 31st is the Big fundraising time for Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree. I have mentioned it here before. I have been a Christmas warrior for 3 years & this year I was unsure what to do since none of "my girls" were on it. I originally was not going to do it, my heart is still with R & wondering how I would choose. It stung going on the pages & not seeing any of the R kids. It broke my heart dearly, knowing how much of a miracle it was this time last year that my friends pulled together in the end to get Celine enough votes so she was on the Angel Tree. Every moment I think about the past or her grant, or how God all pulled everything together to build her grant, she has lost a moment she could have been spending with a family had her country not shutdown. 
Well, God worked on my heart enough so that in her honor I said I would be a Christmas warrior. I had hoped for Brandi to get enough votes to be on it but alas she did not. I put down 3 choices & I was really hoping for my 1st two choices but he knew I needed to remember the very first child I was an Angel Tree warrior for & that he was able to come home to a family. As I write this I realized not only did he bless me with a boy to be a warrior for but that even if it does not turn out how we planned we still need to be open to Loving this child even if he never gets a family here on earth at least someone loved him enough. I loved those girls with every breath as if they were my own, It reminds me of the Love Christ has for us. So here's my new beginning, Meet Joshua, Born May 2012. He may not have any information as of now but I'm going to try my hardest for him to reach the Angel Tree goal of $1,000. He is 5 months older than my nephew & shares his same name. As you can see his grant is currently $0. I don't know how but I'm hoping I will be able to change that. "Out of darkness, Beauty will rise". I'm so in Love with my Newest Butterfly! Can't wait for my 4th Angel Tree & trusting God to provide like he has done countless times!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Girlfriends & how Small groups changed my life

I have always been shy especially in new situations like when we first moved to CA. It took the longest time for me to even attend youth group at church. I first started in a small group setting when I joined one of the "core group" for youth. I had originally picked this group cause a girl I just met had signed up (later she just never got involved with youth so she never came) but it turned out to be so much more than I thought. The leaders of the group were very personable (still are!) & showed concern. I Loved that group & still treasure that time there. Not too much longer after I was getting comfortable, they stepped down from being youth leaders & I was sad to see them leave.

Then they switched the way youth group was so instead of meeting at other peoples homes it was going to meet at the church. Even though the other youth workers were great & the setup different I never felt comfortable at youth group. For you see most of the topics in todays youth have never much effected me which is great but also I never felt comfortable or related much to the topics. I get it not every change is going to fit one person & I guess as I neared the end of my youth days I was just ready to be done with it. My friends had mostly stopped coming & that saddened me deeply cause I felt I was the truly the only senior still there. I made it to the end & just did not know what I was going to do after moving out of youth. 

With not much thought I decided to join two small groups to start with, first the young adults group which I loved but again the whole I can't relate to topics issue with that age group as I only felt like I connected more with the group leader & then the Ladies group. Young Adults I felt comfortable around everyone but just not to the point where I could be at. I was going to both groups, one every other week & the other every week but when things changed I got a little overwhelmed with attending two groups every week & all the groups were going through the same study so I did not really think I can handle it 2-3 times a week. Nothing wrong with the Young Adults I just don't think that's where God wanted me small group wise. 

I gave it a long time before deciding I just clicked in with the Ladies Group & needed to just stay with them. From the moment I first joined the original Girlfriends group I knew I loved it & fit right in. For the first 2 years, I was listening & grasping all the advice given as things kept changing. I was comfortable & loved all the Ladies in the group. 

March 2013, my dear sister & the other Leader decided it was time to rebirth a new group. I struggled (along with the other girls) lots with making a decision of where I wanted to go. I had prayed about it but did not feel God was leading me to one way or the other. I don't like change & I was already in the midst of several decisions to be made at that time so I was stressed out. I went out of town to nanny for my nephew & thought I would have made my decision by the time I got back. I came back & had to make my decision, I was unsure of my decision as I made it that night as we put which group we were going to. 

Now I'm glad I chose the new rebirth group, as I felt these past few months I have felt even more comfortable & more open to share then previously. I Loved each one of my Leaders don't get me wrong each had something different to bring to the table to learn from but this Leader & group of Ladies has made me feel just right. I feel I can trust them & they are there whenever you need them. I have truly grown because of the Impact of small groups. "Life change best happens in Small Group". What I gained from them is friendship, prayer, wisdom, & advice. 

Each one has meant the world to me & I miss them dearly. If you saw me when I first moved here & truly saw how shy I was then you would see a big change in me. I always felt I never had closer friendships but then these past few months I gained a "sisterhood" of close friends. My confidence level is at a level I want it to be at despite having to make friends all over again.
If your not part of a small group/sunday school in church I suggest you join one! Ladies, your my sisters forever & I want you to know I enjoyed every single moment since I joined the group & since we rebirthed into a new group. It was not easy to say see ya later to you all but I will be sure to try to come back to visit. Small Group changed me for the Better! It helped me break out of my shell & was one of the best decisions I have made. 
These girls have my back & are there no matter what!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My 2nd Baptism, best day of my Life!

So I had mentioned it some my reasons of wanting to get baptized again & how it came to be but today I want to write about my Baptism day. It felt like weeks away & then all of the sudden it was the day of. To say I was not nervous would be a lie. Everytime someone asked me how I was feeling I would tell them the truth, I'm nervous. Two nights prior I got "sick" by I think something I ate & then I had a weird day of eating the day before my baptism. The day of I had eaten some Mcdonald's prior to my baptism as my stomach was hurting. I thought it likely had to do with the prior days & how messed up my eating had gotten as well as nerves. 

Now of course we assume I get stronger nerve feelings when I get nervous around large groups of people. Anyway, I was shaky & my stomach hurt of being nervous but I tried my best to put on my "fake it" act. It helped having my small group there, & seeing some of them prior to the start of church helped calm me down a smidge. As soon as I walked toward where I was suppose to meet Mischel & the person in charge of the baptism I was like the countdown begins. The service began & before I knew it was time to go backstage to get ready. Right before my Baptism we had a quick prayer time & then I gave a quick hug to Mischel. I held my emotions together mostly well but I knew it was going to be tough it being our last day & my friend had been such a great leader in my life. 

The Moment I walked out after getting changed into the baptism robe I was so nervous but thank God our church has dark lights otherwise I think I would have lost it seeing all the people. As I stood waiting to the side I saw the kids classes in there & just knew I would cry if I looked too long so I waved at one of the little girls I have watched grow up & whispered to Mischel I'm not going to look at them. I later learned that every single class from 2s up to youth were in there & I felt so honored that the teachers took time out of their classes to make sure they watched. 

As the last song played & we stepped into the Baptismal I felt so ready & that I was doing what I was suppose to be doing even though I was nervous. God helped me to Stand Strong! The week leading up to my Baptism I was unsure if I wanted to speak or not but as I got to the part where Mischel allowed for if I wanted to say something I declined as I knew if I said something I would not be able to finish. I had decided not to look at the kids but rather look at my small group ladies. Well, I already said it was dark & so dark I could not see hardly anyone except my family in the front row so I just focused on what Mischel was saying. My cheeks were a little red cause I am very modest when talking about myself in what I do as it's truly not about me but about God. Anyway, it finally came to the point where I was suppose to repeat after her what I believe in my heart. I started saying it then got to a certain part where I felt my voice slowly cracking & got teary then got dunked under which helped dry somewhat of the tears. My stomach felt better & I knew I was going to lose it soon. I grasped Mischel into a bittersweet hug with more tears & heard cheers coming. I also heard "we Love you Leah" & by then I knew I could not look at anyone in the worship center. 

Quickly I looked down as I stepped out of the baptismal & rushed backstage. Mischel, came back then I just burst open of tears while hugging her again telling her I would miss her & I love her. As soon as I stopped crying I went into the dressing area to change out of my wet clothes. Sweet Mischel still made sure I was okay before she left. While I was changing I heard my "big sis" Becki talking outside talking about how Caroline (her daughter, whom I have babysit & watched grow from a baby) had gotten upset while watching my Baptism as Mischel talked about me leaving & that Becki told her they could come backstage to give me a hug. Caroline had told her mom that morning she did not want me to leave :(. I was afraid to cry anymore cause I did not want to make her upset so I made sure to Breath & stop crying before I went out to give her a hug. 

I have always not liked crying in front of others even my friends or at church maybe cause I felt embarrassed by it & always saved my tears for God in my room on my bed. I still don't like crying in front of little kids but I have learned it's okay to show what I'm feeling cause I need to not be a stuffer as my friends need to know how I feel. I need to be open & honest about myself. I gave Caroline & Becki hugs & we talked that it would be okay cause they will come visit soon as they have family & friends over on this side of the USA.  I went to the restroom & on my walk back into the worship center I thought I can not go back in there without looking at people or bursting into tears at the thinking of it being our last day at church home. Then I bravely walked back quietly not glancing really at anyone as it was in the middle of the sermon & I did not want to distract anyone from the message. The rest of the time I spent sitting there but could not really focus on the message after what all went on prior that my mind could not process everything that was being said. 

After church I turned around to give Mischel another hug then all of a sudden my small group came up for a group hug with bunches of congrats that followed. A Precious & most priceless memory, made that my Mom took a few great snapshots of.

Overall a sweet, wonderful day I will always treasure! Having my friend Mischel Baptize me was the best honor I will cherish always. She has not been my small group leader for very long but ever since I have known her she has been like a role model to me in the way she serves & lives out her faith.I could not have chosen a better person & so glad God worked out the details so she could baptize me!

I want you to all know I still have fond memories of my 1st Baptism & I'm not saying that one was not special in it's own way, it's just different feeling this time around. I truly felt I was missing something for the longest time & though I had been saved at 9-10 years old & was not Baptized (cause of my fear of going underwater mainly) til I was 15 years old I'm not sure I fully grasped what it means but today I know I do. Today marks 1 month since my 2nd Baptism & I love to look back at how awesome God has grown in my life since VBS & my baptism. I remember the moments I sent texts back & forth, the conversation I had with Mischel, the moment we told Tammy, the children's ministry director, & as I told each of my friends at church my news before publicly posting it on Facebook. For you see it's not just the big day I will remember but the moments leading up to what I did I will remember in my heart & memory always.

Is it always easy especially when you move far away from your close friends? Of course not but God has given me strength these past several weeks & he will be with me in the weeks to come. I will take it day by day, moment by moment.