My mom was chosen as a Woman of Valor by Rachel Held Evans. You can read that post here: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/valor-linda
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
This is a speech my mom, Linda LeYanna, wrote for her college speech class last month. Since you’re here because of her, I hope you enjoy it!
by Linda LeYanna
My name is Linda LeYanna and I have chosen to share one of my favorite pictures with you today.There are 3 older women sitting on a park bench, under umbrellas and a five year old dancing, catching raindrops in her mouth.
I was one of those 3 women and my oldest granddaughter was the dancer. Why was I not out dancing with her? Was I afraid I would melt? Afraid of being different? Or just too tired?
This was taken at the outdoor rehearsal of my daughter’s wedding which took place the next day in Parchment’s Kindleberger Park. I didn’t have this picture in my hand until September of that year. It was one of my favorite photos from the wedding and has always held deeper meaning for me.
You see my husband David and I were marrying off our last child, we had a 5 year plan, I had quit my job and we were moving to a great spot in Grand Rapids. I would have time to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life after we moved while sitting on our new deck and watching the fall leaves turn color.
HOWEVER, God had other plans for the next five years that would move me off the bench, out from under my self- protective umbrella, moving me out into the rain, dancing!
I had been diagnosed 2 years before with a melanoma (a type of skin cancer) and the first thing that popped into my mind when I was given the diagnosis was: Even though He slay me yet will I praise him. Ok, where did that come from? I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn it as a child in Vacation Bible school, so I went home and looked it up. It is from Job 13:15. I knew that was from God and my new informal classes in Trust had began.
I chose to have all of my annual physicals and dental checkups at my familiar doctor’s in Kalamazoo before winter hit, and even though we had moved, it was easier and would give me a year to look for new ones in GR.
So, when I had my mammogram in October, I was told that I probably had breast cancer. I WAS OFFICIALLY OFF THE BENCH. I was no longer on the sidelines I was on my feet.
This was definitely not in our five year plan. Over the course of the next 4 months I had several surgeries and thought all was good. As a final precaution I was sent to an oncologist. I could handle the surgeries, I didn’t think I could handle the chemotherapy, but my doctor seemed to think I wouldn’t need it. I did my homework, or at least had my son do it. He works at Bronson Hospital and I asked him to find out the best oncologist. He did, and I was referred to Dr. Liepman. You can probably guess that chemo was the next step away from the bench and the first holes began appearing in my self- protective umbrella. I knew that God was telling me to look up, that He was my protection, but I still held on to the handle of my disintegrating umbrella.
My husband David was diagnosed with kidney failure shortly thereafter. His first dialysis treatment took place 2 days before our 30th Anniversary. David’s deteriorating health was coupled with my second round of breast cancer, diagnosed at the four year mark of my remission and that of our 5 year plan. This new breast cancer included another surgery and a course of radiation to begin on January 28, 2008. David went into the hospital the day before my scheduled radion was to begin, which would prove to be his final stay. At this point MY UMBRELLA HAD COMPLETELY crumbled. I was open to the rain and the buffeting winds. But again God knew that he was enough and His provision would be all that I needed. I was willing to turn my head and my heart up. I had come to the end of me and into the strength that was HIS. I became aware of all the ways in which he was taking care of David and I. I was no longer afraid of the storm and I knew I could trust him completely, because he had been completely faithful so far.
David spent 37 days of his 42 day hospital stay in ICU and quietly passed from this life into the arms of the God we both loved and trusted. I had moved off the bench, lost the umbrella, and had turned my attention completely UPWARDS.
That first year as a widow, I began to open up to the opportunities around me. I made a pact with myself that if anyone asked me to join them in social activities, I would go. I was not ready for Zumba but a slow waltz was in order. Learning to move around on the dancefloor of life once again.
What was the final part of the picture? Taste the raindrops. I am continuously learning to “taste the Lord and know that he is good” as Psalm 24:8 says.
I asked God to give me a church with a list of 10 criteria that I had come up with, He did.
I wanted to retire, he miraculously allowed that to happen.
He provided the money for me to return to school and finish my degree by way of the VA. Learning new things is a miraculous rejuvenator!
So, this picture represents my past, my present and my future: off the bench, without my self- protecting umbrella, younger in spirit than I was in the picture, dancing in the rain (and the sunshine), and tasting that God is good.
As I look out at you I can’t help but wonder. Where are you? Are you on the bench? Is your umbrella in tatters? Are you dancing in the rain?
God knows and will be with you as you take the next step, holding you as you dance.