Wednesday, February 25, 2015

the risk of vulnerability

Loving people and being vulnerable takes courage.

It also takes humility.

And great confidence.

COURAGE because you're risking being hurt. You're opening up your heart and life to someone who may wound or use you. There's no guarantee of being received and loved. You're entrusting part of yourself to them, with no promise of being trusted in return. Loving people in a godly way, well, the way Jesus loved, takes all that we are, and leaves no room for insincerity or selfishness. It's all, or nothing. That takes guts.

HUMILITY because truth isn't always pretty. Sharing testimonies of God's faithfulness often involves sharing some of my worst failings. My greatest victories have risen from moments of human defeat. I'm not proud of my past, but pretending I don't need Jesus is false and prideful. And being vulnerable often involves asking forgiveness - admitting you're wrong. And for someone like me, who likes to be "all together", that's hard to do.

And finally, CONFIDENCE because I know Whom I Have Believed. Being vulnerable is just a trap for being miserable if I'm not confident in the love of Jesus. Because no matter how a conversation turns out, or what I've done, or what someone has done to me, I know Jesus loves me, and if my heart is bent on loving and serving Him with everything I am, then the opinions or comments of others do not matter. He does discipline those He loves, but it's to grow them to be like Himself, not to condemn them.

I am not an expert in vulnerability.

But I am learning.

I used to pretend I had it all together. After all, I was the model child, from a model family, and someone like me *must* have it together and no one should ever be able to question that.

The road to unconditional love and vulnerability for me has been rocky, difficult, and painful.

Asking forgiveness. Admitting when I've had a hard day. Loving people regardless of what they've said or done. Telling the truth about a situation, even if it might make me look bad or weak. Being honest with myself and the Lord about my heart. Allowing others to speak into my life without justifying my behavior, or taking offense. Not covering up my sin, but being honest about it's consequences and using my story as a launchpad for a passion filled life with Jesus.

If there's one thing I've learned on this journey of what it means to love unconditionally and be vulnerable, it's this:

Loving well and being vulnerable is not weakness. It's strength. 
It leaves you without a cover, but it leaves you free.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

life on tour // {multnomah falls}

It was a Cat in the Hat day.

Cold outside. Too wet to play. And misty.

We were in the middle of an eight hour drive.

But it's a His Little Feet tradition.

And we don't mind getting wet.

So we did.

(stopped, and got wet. in a big way)

And while Christa was taking the children's pictures, we asked if we could run up to the bridge. And we ran. And there was a sign about ice, but we didn't see any.

It was totally worth it.

We looked super awesome from down below....and really wet up close. *grin*

"As the waters fill the sea, so let Your glory be! Shine, Jesus Shine!..."

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Sometimes, you know when something is about to happen. You can "feel it in your bones", and even though it's still a little bit of a surprise, you're ready for it.

Other times, change blindsides you and leaves you reeling. You separate from your reality, feel like a stranger watching someone else's life as everything you knew falls away.

(Just so you know, this is an announcement.)

Something has changed in my life, that I think y'all should know about.

It's something that I've been thinking about for almost a year, and in the works for the past...five months.

And yesterday, finally, it happened, so I can tell you.


Whimsy and travel themed, what you now see is the work of my dear Brianna. It's been a long time since she's re-done my blog (as the last design was the creative genius of the precious Carmel), so it was fun to be in touch and working on scrapbook-y stuff with her again. I hope I wasn't too picky...hehe.

Anyway, thought I'd tell y'all....just because.

And here's some smiles for your morning:

Have a nice day! *grin*

Friday, January 30, 2015

"mirrors" [written january 28]

this came to my heart the other day, and I really wanted to share it. It's a little more abstract than I usually write, but hey, no problem with that, is there? be blessed.

Today I felt like a very small child.

It was early morning - very early morning - and my girls were asleep, and everything was still and quiet.

I was sitting cross-legged, in my flannel pjs and sweatshirt, looking at myself in the mirror (not hard to do, since my host home has mirrors for closet doors - so honestly it's hard to *not* look at yourself), just looking at myself. And looking at myself.

I was on the phone with a treasured friend of mine, and we were talking about life, and love, and people, and Jesus. And I was looking at myself in the mirror the whole time.

It hit me, as we talked, as I looked at myself, that this is my life. This is my story that I'm living. And, as Aslan has so famously said, "No one is ever told anyone's story but their own." And I'm walking mine.

Every place we go, the people I meet ask me how old I am, and if my parents are okay with me being out here on the road like this, and do they miss me, and what am I going to do after this?

And today, as I talked to a very real person on the other end of the phone line, about very real things that have happened/are happening/are going to happen, I realized that it's just little old Liza sitting here on the bed, in her pjs, talking.

Not too long ago, I was ten years old and my biggest problems usually had to do with piano music and schoolwork and whether or not I had dessert or not, and pleeeeease don't put chunks of tomato in the spaghetti sauce. And now, I'm twenty years old, with quite a bit of responsibility for some very special children, and I'm having to work through grown-up things, and talk and act like a grown-up.

I never imagined my life to look like this. And yet, I'm not really surprised. Somehow it just happened. Time passed, and somewhere in the turning years, I grew up.

I kept looking at myself, fiddling with my hair, and asking myself, "Is this really me? Sitting here? In California? Doing what I'm doing, living what I'm living?"

And in that moment, I felt very small. Very young - maybe ten years old.

You know, of course, I'm not. And I know that. But it was a funny feeling, sitting there, talking like a grown up and feeling ten years old.

"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens...
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." - Ecclesiastes 3

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

life on tour // {that time we did san francisco}

Last Monday, the whole team went to San Francisco for a day trip.

 Essentially, we parked at Pier 38, rode the cable car to Nordstrom's, took everyone into the mall to use the restroom, got back on the cable car back to the pier, walked across the Golden Gate bridge, and left. Haha. But all that took us a few hours, and oh, the things we saw and the fun we had!

Alcatraz, the historic island prison, from the cable car...what a fascinating history that old jail has! I never really knew...

We walked from the Pier to the cable car stop, and got startled by that guy who sits around with tree branches in front of him and scares people. Hehe - that would be the most hilarious "job" ever. But probably not everyone appreciates it as much as we did...

Riding the cable car was definitely a highlight - we got to see so much of the city in such a neat way. With all the steep streets, it felt a little like a roller coaster!

These sweet smiles...what a privilege we have to love and serve them this year!

While the team was loading up to head towards the bridge, David, Zeli, Freddy, Ben, Josh and I ran over to the fish market to grab some seafood - because, why not?

Yummmmm! A taste of home. Different than South Carolina shrimp and crab, but still incredibly good. It was hard to share...*sheepish grin* Truth: it wasn't even mine. *guilty grin*

And then we began our walk across the Bridge - so worth it! And it's really not as long as you think it is. I mean, it sort of is...but you only are tired for a little bit in the middle when you realize you still haven't gotten to the second tower yet.... *wink*

It was such a perfect day to be out and about - Jesus knew what we needed, that's for sure. It was MLK Day, so the city wasn't very busy, and the weather was beautiful.

Something else super cool was we drove through El Presidio to get to the Bridge, and that's the military base where my Dad was born...a while ago. *wink* My life full circle! I guess I never thought I'd get to visit where he was born. I love family history, and it was pretty neat to think of how close I was to where my grandparents lived and where my life story basically began. *chuckle*

The crew! Everyday is such a beautiful adventure with this wonderful crew. I love that I'm blessed to experience so much of America for the first time with people I love so much - proclaiming a message that never gets old, and serving our King together. It's truly living: preaching the Creator, while enjoying to the fullest what He created for us for to savor and soak in. His Creation reflects His face and sings His praise! And even something like the Golden Gate Bridge, a work of man, is a testimony to the mind and creativity He has given to us. Such a fascinating thought. I love Jesus.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

{ to make an end is to make a beginning }

It's 2015. Which is hard to believe. Another year over, and a new one just begun.

This is going to be the best year of my life so far. (claiming that because, why not?)

It'll probably bring the most change to my little world, second only to 2007.

I'm expecting incredible things out of this year. Last year was the hardest year I've gone through spiritually, and yet was most definitely my year of most growth. I'm in such a different place than I was last's amazing and can only be attributed to the Spirit of Jesus at work.

Right now, I'm tucked away in the mountains of Colorado. We are on our way with the team to Southern California for six weeks of tour west of Colorado, and another six weeks or more of tour in the midwest and east coast. It's crazy, to think how long we'll be gone, and yet so exciting to think of all the states and places we're going to be, and all the people we're going to meet.

This Christmas was beautiful. Christmas Eve was hard, missing family and traditions and all, but there was such an outpouring of grace on the entire week...Christmas Day was absolutely precious time with the remaining staff and children - memories I wouldn't trade for the world. Jesus knew exactly what each of us needed, and truly graced us staff who didn't go home with Himself in such a special way. So many moments and conversations of getting to know each other better, or just quiet evenings of being together and letting silence speak. Different than any other holiday I've ever had, but wonderful in it's way.

With 2014 ending, there was such a sweet opportunity to start over and leave what happened last year in last year. To let go of everything, be thankful for the lessons learned, and look forward to more growth and joy in this upcoming year. There are going to be so many beautiful moments, so much more of Jesus to learn and to fall in love with, so much of life to be lived. There will also be hard things, but they will be turned to glory for His sake.

I'm welcoming this new season with open arms. With tour starting in full gear, the day after New Year's, it's definitely a new start in a literal sense. Here I am, here's where Jesus has me, here's to what He's doing and the way He loves us. He's my favorite, and every year with Him gets sweeter and more beautiful.

So with all that...

Hey, 2015 - it's nice to see ya.

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

{ a colorado christmas card }

It's Christmas Eve - the presents are wrapped, the tree is trimmed and glowing with lights, stockings are stuffed, things are quiet after a week's worth of parties. We're ready for Christmas!

The funny thing about all this, is that I'm not with my family. I'm spending Christmas out here in Colorado with the children. It's a small little family right now - since several of the staff aren't here - and that feels a little funny too, but this truly is such a precious time.

To be honest, I'm missing my family - the realization that I'm not going to be with my extended family tomorrow at my Grandma's house, with all my cousins and aunts and uncles just hit me yesterday when I opened a package from Grandma full of all the yummy treats she makes every year for Christmas. And Maddie was here this past week for a few days to visit, bringing a little bit of home with her. I'm not going to see Mark, who I haven't seen in two years, or Jessica and her little ones - one of whom I've never met. We have so many traditions, so many of my favorite and sweetest memories have been Christmas afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa's...I get a little teary thinking about it.

that year Mark missed Christmas 'cause he was at boot camp.

But there's also grace to be out here. Jesus's birth can celebrate anywhere and everywhere, and hearing the stories, singing the songs, and seeing Christmas through the eyes of the children is precious. I'm making new memories - treasuring this short season of life that Jesus has me in.

And boy, what memories these are! Christmas parties galore, Secret Santa, Christmas concerts, carriage rides, Christmas lights, more cookies than we could ever eat, making gingerbread and graham cracker houses, painting Christmas ornaments, decorating the uncles as Christmas trees, a Christmas pageant at Pastor Eric's house, singing Christmas songs in English, Mizo and Amharic, cozy nights at home, and so much laughter.

Tonight the children are going to sing at Ellerslie's Christmas Eve service - and then we'll all be over at Mike and Christa's. Tomorrow will be such a sweet family day...pajama snuggles, presents to exchange, yummy food to eat, praises to sing.

I was thinking back this morning to last Christmas. One year ago, I was not the happiest camper....really struggling to fully enjoy everything when I was just days away from saying goodbye to our farm for good. Our house was in boxes, I didn't want to move, I didn't want to live in the new house, but most of all I didn't want to leave the farm. 

One year later, I'm sitting on a couch in my living room in Colorado, listening to a few pattering feet upstairs as the girls are waking up and getting ready for the day. It's pretty cozy down here, the tree is glowing and the lights in the room are still off. Katie's here for the day, Josh just came in and said good morning and dashed upstairs to wake up the boys, and I'm minutes away from preparing breakfast. It's a new life, a different life, than it was last year...I never dreamed this is what I'd be doing this Christmas...but there is such peace and joy in knowing I'm where I'm supposed to be.

Christmas is usually such a sweet, peaceful season for me...but even more so this year, because the tender love of Jesus is so tangible. I'm away from everything I know, but yet I'm at home because I'm with Him. There's true peace - true joy - true light.

Christmas is about worship. It's about seeing the sacrifice, and rejoicing in love. It's about giving up everything to follow the Son - looking past the holiday and seeing His grace. Recently, a few of us staff have been talking about the wiremen, and their story. How they traveled thousands of miles, and all it says they did was bow down and worship Jesus and give Him gifts. They didn't accomplish anything - didn't gain anything - didn't do anything. In fact, they probably *lost* a lot...time, resources, possibly even their health, or the lives of their servants and animals. But they gave it all....just to worship

This Christmas, even though I'm far from home, even though I'm surrounded by children and grown ups who I love so dearly, even though I'm smiling and happy and loving every moment of this sweet season, I want to truly worship this Christmas. To truly SEE my Jesus and His beautiful never-failing deeper-than-an-ocean love for me, and to worship Him.

So, sweet friends and family, my dear readers...Merry Christmas, from my family to yours.

Joy to the World!

Monday, December 15, 2014

{ i am free }

Here at Your feet, I lay my past down
My wanderings, all my mistakes down
And I am free

Here at Your feet, I lay this day down
Not in my strength, but in Yours I've found
All I need, You're all I need

Jesus, Jesus at Your feet
Oh, to dwell and never leave
Jesus, Jesus, at Your feet
There is nowhere else for me
There is nowhere else for me

Here at Your feet, I lay my future down
All of my dreams, I give to You now
And I find peace, I find peace

Jesus, Jesus at Your feet
Oh, to dwell and never leave
Jesus, Jesus, at Your feet
There is nowhere else for me
There is nowhere else for me

Here at Your feet, I lay my life down
For You my King, You're all I want now
And my soul sings...

Jesus, Jesus at Your feet
Oh, to dwell and never leave
Jesus, Jesus, at Your feet
There is nowhere else for me
There is nowhere else for me

'Cause I am free (here at Your feet)
All I need (is at Your feet)
And I find peace
We're at Your feet
We're at Your feet

And I am free (here at Your feet)
All I need (is at Your feet)
I find peace
We're at Your feet
We're at Your feet
We're at Your feet
We're at Your feet

Here at Your feet...I lay my life down.
"at your feet" by casting crowns

It's kinda beautiful, when Jesus shows you Himself in deeper ways. When He shows you that there's no "this is as good as it's gonna get" with the Spirit of God. He continues to heal, restore, and work mighty things, even when I can't see it, and then He shows me what He's done...and I'm in awe. It's beautiful, and it's freedom and it's the way He works. I love that. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

living spent.

You know, we only get one life. And we don't even know how long it is.

That thought in itself doesn't scare me. How ever long Jesus wants me on this earth really isn't any of my business, and I don't need to know. I have one life, and that's all I need.

But yet, there's a responsibility.

How am I using it?

That's a little intimidating to think about.

That IS my business.

And my only business should be the business of the Kingdom.

I've been thinking about this for the past week or so, as we've been on tour. Each night, when I tuck in the girls, I think to myself, "Did I give them all I had today? Did I spend myself in love, in prayer, in energy, in strength for them? When I say, 'I love you', did I show them that with my actions, or is it just words I say because I always do? Does my heart ache because I loved them so much I'm sore?"

Each day, I get twenty-hours to honor Jesus. (because yes, you can honor Him in your sleep.) I've been entrusted with twenty-four hours to shine His light on this earth.

He's given them to me to use them for His kingdom...the responsibility is mine.

Thankfully, He hasn't left me to do it alone. The Spirit living inside me is guiding me and leading me as I go...provided I'm not quenching Him. When I go to bed at night, did I give everything I had for Jesus? Did I commit myself to Him in such a way that He affected everything I did? Did I waste my time on myself, or did I take every minute captive and set my heart on the things of the kingdom?

How am I spending my days? Am I joyfully exhausted at the end of each day? Am I fully given to His cause in everything? Am I loving the people He's given me to love with all that I am - holding nothing back because I'm afraid of getting hurt, or losing them, or making myself vulnerable? Do my girls see me in prayer? Are my priorities clear to them - putting Jesus and them first, instead of myself?

Jesus gave everything for me. He lived spent. Heck, He actually physically gave up His life so I could live. I love the line of "He Made A Way in A Manger", a song the children are singing in concert this season, that says, "He is the life that died our death"....He lived to die. Am I dying daily so others might live?

I want the testimony of my life to be that I lived spent. That I gave everything, everyday, holding nothing back.

I don't want ever to be too tired, or too selfish, to give. I want to enjoy every little moment - from snuggling during movie night, to laughing playing dress up, to goodnight hugs and kisses; treasure every memory - from funny days on the road, to Thanksgiving dinner, to teaching everyone to ice skate; rest well when I sleep - even if it's just a few hours 'cause I'm awake comforting a sick little one, or packing and preparing to leave for tour; and spend my energy and strength when I'm awake to further the kingdom in every single task - big or small - laid before me, and every adventure Jesus brings.

When I ask these questions of myself, it's not to condemn or even really to convict...more to inspire me to keep my two little brown eyes focused upward, and to glory in the freedom and power He brings to my life to enable to live it fully.

“I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.” 
- Jim Elliot

Monday, November 3, 2014

six going on sixteen.

This post was written on Saturday afternoon - only just getting around to posting it.

Hi, my name is Liza.

I'm twenty years old.

I was born and raised in Virginia, with a mama from South Carolina and a daddy who was raised a navy brat. So mostly Southern, and all-American.

When I was thirteen, I wanted be married before I was twenty (didn't matter how old, just still a teenager), and have a child a year till I was like forty. I've always wanted twenty kids...always. So, in a way, my life looks *nothing* like I sort of dreamed it would.

And a funny way, it's above and beyond anything I really dreamed about as a naive, visionary thirteen year old.

Right now, I live in Colorado.

I have six children, with ten on the way.

I'm parenting these kids with five other incredible people. None of us are married (to each other or otherwise), yet we function as a family unit. And we only have our children for ten months. Because the truth is, they aren't our children, and never have been, and never will be. They belong to Jesus, and this is just our precious season of getting to care for and serve them.

The amount of responsibility I have is beyond anything I've experienced before as an older sister, swim coach, teacher or stage manager. My life is that of a mama, basically on duty 24/7, from children up till children down (and in-between!), with all the joys and struggles that come with having children from difficult backgrounds learning to grow and trust and love you. Waking up every morning with a clean slate, fresh attitude, renewed heart.

I'm learning to see the big picture. Little victories - a smile, a hug, a laugh, a tear, a "Thank You", mean so much - way more than I ever realized. I'm learning to see beyond behavior and see heart. Look beyond attitude and see soul. Look beyond a past and see a child. A life. A princess. A prince. A soul that Jesus is jealous for. The potential for world-shattering faith and confidence in each of their faces - and a burning desire to see those eyes on fire for their King.

Every day, it's a fresh chance to be Jesus to these kids - to let the Spirit flow through me and reveal Truth to them...the only Truth that can set them free.

I love watching them experience firsts - going down a water slide, floating with a pool noodle, learning to ride bikes, loosing teeth, growing up in so many ways physically and emotionally, and gaining confidence.

I'm Liza. I'm twenty years old.

My life looks nothing like I thought it would, and yet it's beyond anything I ever could've dreamed.

Nothing is impossible with God.