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Celebrating Leah’s life

Let me tell you about my daughter, Leah. She’s our youngest child. She turns 18 this week and we’re celebrating her life. Yesterday, dressed to kill, the Barnes women plus yours truly went out for a birthday brunch at Rudolf’s. Leah may be in the process of becoming a woman, but she retains an i…
By Seth Barnes

Let me tell you about my daughter, Leah. She’s our youngest child. She turns 18 this week and we’re celebrating her life. Yesterday, dressed to kill, the Barnes women plus yours truly went out for a birthday brunch at Rudolf’s.

Leah may be in the process of becoming a woman, but she retains an innocence and a simple faith. When problems hit us, her response is, “we should pray.” I’m trying to learn how to trust God like she does.

She loves animals and likes our quiet home in the country. Karen has homeschooled her most of her life. Leah was given a huge responsibility, the toughest assignment of anybody in the family.

God trusted her with pain. He trusted her with no good answers to the question, “why?” He trusted her with long seasons of loneliness, a shortened palate that makes articulation difficult, a chromosomal problem, and a few other “issues.” When she was a baby, we thought the main issue was clogged ear canals. As she’s gotten older, we’ve seen that it’s much more than that.

Leah has responded so well to the hard assignment God gave her. While Karen and I sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed in the upside-down land of “special needs” children, weighed down by a sense of inadequacy, Leah just trusts God. She’s doing much better with her assignment than we are.

How can I express to you what it feels like to be the only buffer between a world so full of cruelty and danger and one given such an assignment? We are completely out of control. We’ve prayed so many prayers, cried so many tears. Raged against the injustice – the impossibility of it all.

And yet, there are these words that our inscrutable God spoke to Karen early in her life: “Will you let me use her?” This past month, he gave us a gift – a school with 15 other students who daily battle their own challenges. What a thrill for her to not be alone in this world! What a blessing to Karen and I. Her teacher’s names are Mrs. Stephens and Mr. Cedarberg. We don’t know them, yet we love them.

We don’t know what’s next, but we weren’t given the job of figuring that out. While Leah wrestles with her assignment, our assignment is to trust God with that part and to enjoy and love Leah. Her gifts to us are many. She has birthed compassion, brokenness, and trust in us. These are precious gifts in a world at war with all that is simple and pure.

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