“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” —Jeremiah 29:11
Those are the words highlighted in Lea’s Bible when we meet for our photo shoot — one of her favorite verses and so fitting for this time in her life. Now that Lea is contemplating what to do after high school, she continues to seek God’s plan for her future. And I have no doubt that God has incredible plans for this amazing young lady.
Lea was adopted from Ethiopia 17 years ago this month, when her parents were missionaries there. To honor her heritage, we took pictures of the Ethiopian cross that she wears, as well as her Ethiopian Bible that belonged to her dad. And it’s really no surprise that she also loves sunflowers — they are almost as bright and joyful as Lea herself.
To know Lea is to love her. Words do not do justice when describing her. She is not just pretty — she is stunningly beautiful, outside and in. She is not just confident — she is completely comfortable in her own skin, yet quietly humble at the same time (quite unusual even for an adult in this culture, much less a teen!). She is not just a leader — she is a role model who dozens and probably hundreds of children look up to and adore.
Perhaps the best word I can think of to describe Lea is gracious. Lea earned a permanent place in my heart when she played Grace Farrell in the musical Annie alongside my son, who played Daddy Warbucks.
Of course Grace adores Annie, who is easy to love, right from the start. But to me the most amazing thing is that she also never gives up on Oliver Warbucks — instead, she gives him grace and encouragement even when he is hard-hearted, and eventually he becomes a changed man.
I don’t think it was any accident that Lea played the part of Grace, because Lea lives her life with that kind of extravagant graciousness off stage as well. She extends that same hope and love to everyone she meets.
In the Bible, God says love “believes all things” and “hopes all things.” A person needs only to know Lea to understand exactly what that means.