I was asked by members of my church to give a Testimony of Service on November 17th.  At first I knew exactly what to say, but as the weeks went by I couldn't get clear on how.  I gave it over to God and asked him to help me.  I had never done this before.  I am an actor, yes, and use to speaking on stage, but this was different.  I sat down one night and started writing and three hours later felt good about what I wanted to say.  I texted Matt, "Done with my testimony.  Maybe 5-7 minutes.  Not counting holding for laughs."  I wanted to share it with you and I wanted to thank you for giving me something to write about.  I am grateful for your support. 
Happy Thanksgiving!
November 17, 2013
Testimony of Service
Lesley Carlson

When I graduated from grad school in 2011 I was ready to receive all my rewards.  After all, I had worked hard, sacrificed, chosen the path less taken.  I was brave, talented, hot, and ready to be successful.  Ready to be recognized and validated.  What followed were six months of depression, fear, and anxiety.  I watched as my peers received great gifts, one after the other.  Audition after audition came and went and still I watched.   My sister-in-law texted me Isaiah 40:31 so I committed it to memory and repeated it over and over through gritted teeth.  It went through many versions. (Hopefully) Yet those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength;  (weeping) They will mount up on wings like eagles;  (exhausted) They will run and not get tired.  (Angry) They will walk and not get weary.  Then on October 17th, a week before her 5th birthday, my niece Zoe was diagnosed with Leukemia.  98% of her bone marrow was cancerous.  At Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN, where Zoe began treatment, in the children’s playroom my mother took a picture of a wall.  A sign read, “Hats off to you…Please take one!”  Below the sign were just two little hats hanging on an otherwise empty clothesline.  Two little hats on a big empty wall.  I decided I was going to fill that wall with hats.  I sent out an email to friends and colleagues about a party I was having at my apartment to make hats for Zoe and the other children at Vanderbilt who would be going through chemo and losing their hair.  Email sent, party planning underway…and then on my way to work one day I answered a call from a number I didn’t know.  Actors do that.  Where a civilian would think, “Telemarketer!” we think, “IT’S A JOB!”  I answered and a woman said, “Hi.  I’m in The Children’s Place with my son and we were calling about sizes.”  I said, “Excuse me?”  She responded, “Is this Lesley, Hats for Zoe?”  Now here is where you need to know my family is all Army Special Forces/Special Ops.  And that Zoe’s dad is one of those soldiers.  My little invite had gone viral through the Special Forces Association.  In two weeks we had over $1,500 and more than 250 hats coming in from all over the United States.  A family who lost a child to Leukemia, an old Vet who had beaten cancer himself, a little girl who was Zoe’s age who’s mom explained what had happened and who had then wanted to send Zoe a gift.  God moved and today Hats for Zoe has brought hats, crafts, toys, and full dvd libraries to hospitals in Boise, ID, Salt Lake City, UT, Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Maine, St. Lois, MO, all cities where my husband and I have worked as actors.  We have given yearly to our home base at Vanderbilt and will visit Birmingham, AL, Cleveland, OH, Lansing, MI, and NYC before the New Year. 

Zoe is in remission.  In May she walked down this very aisle as a flower girl in our wedding, and in February 2014 she will end treatment. 

Now why am I telling you this? 

Service.  SERVICE.  Getting yourself off your own mind.  Being a servant taught me to seek God’s face and not his hand.  It loosened my grip on things I never had any control over in the first place and caused those held, tight places in my life to blossom in ways I could have never imagined.  It humbled me.  It stilled me.

If you are weary and reciting the same hopeful bible verse over and over…

If you are waiting for God to show up in your situation…

If you are angry about what you haven’t received…

I urge you today to lay that down at God’s feet and go be of service to someone else.  Get yourself off your mind.  Be of service in whatever way you can.

If you can give money GIVE.

If you can give time GIVE.

There isn’t anything too small.

There isn’t anything meager in what ever God calls you to turn over to someone else.

Be of service and get yourself off your own mind.

Thank you.

photo by Arnie Adler
Stay tuned for pictures from recent HFZ trips!  

More to come...

12/31/2013 13:21

You are an amazing person, Lesley. Along with everyone else who contributes to Hats for Zoe and those HFZ touches. Lots of Love!

08/05/2014 23:49

Really you are a good people because few people think like this.


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