Tuesday, May 3, 2016

{{ traveling scrapbook: the wandering child is home }}

whew.

for those who were wondering if my actual return to blogging was legit, and then proceeded to wait the entire month of april and saw nothing, my apologies. i'm currently sitting cross-legged in a chair at the mall waiting for my sister to finish eating supper with her basketball friends, writing this out. it's been one heck of a day...of a week really...and after twenty-two days out of the thirty days of april being on the road, i am HOME for the near future and so glad to be so.

golly. I really don't have words. what. a. month. seriously.

I've been in four states, driven eight hundred and fifty miles, flown four hundred and thirty miles, and met thousands of peoples. I've stayed in three different hotels, had three different rental cars, and been in two airports. welcome to the life of a traveling Compassion IC!


not to mention the countless episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" and "Fixer-Upper" and "Flip or Flop" and "Full House" reruns that I've watched in the past four weeks. don't judge, long hours in a hotel room aren't this extroverts favorite thing and sometimes I just need to hear someone talk...haha.

ANYWAYS.

I love my life. I love my job.


and it's good to be home.

it's also been a life changing week or so. I spent six days in south carolina with some of the world's most amazing people, and got to meet this year's His Little Feet choir. I got to spend time with the love of my life and there's some pretty darn exciting stuff in the works in that regard, so stay tuned...(yes, I have a boyfriend, and have for six months actually, for those who don't know yet...)


this summer is going to be more traveling, more adventures, more exciting things. my instagram is my scrapbook, so for those of you all wanting to keep up in a more tech-savvy way, please follow me over [[ @ liza . morales ]] and for those of you all wondering if my life really is as amazing as it looks, IT IS. *smile* and i love it.


but.

it's not easy.

it's hard to explain it all here, on a blog post in so many words that'll be read by so many people, but my life is not easy. there is a daily battle i've been fighting for two years that threatens me with lies that I'll never be good enough, I'll never measure up, I'll never be "spiritual" or "mature" enough to be anybody. but I also have found that the love of Jesus FREES ME from the opinion of man, and even though it can be a struggle at times, the overwhelming, overarching joy I've discovered in being LIZA, who is known and loved and cherished and treasured, is incomparable. i'm so incredibly blessed to be loved by people who see me for I am, who encourage to be exactly who I was created to be, and who's great joy is running alongside me and sharing life with me in ways that are so selfless and kind that I can't help but grow and thrive.


Jesus doesn't promise us an easy life. we can actually guarantee ourselves that it'll be as hard as all get out. in fact, I know that what Jesus is building in my life is amazing and out of this world simply because the enemy is attacking me on every side daily. that's actually a confidence-boosting fact. the more attack, the greater the victory must be.

He doesn't promise easy. but He promises *abundant*. and dear ones, that is what my life is right now. it's running over, over flowing, abundant, glorious and beautiful. challenging, yes. difficult, yes. but so incredibly worth it.

"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." - John 10

the wandering child is home for the month, and i'm so glad. ready for a break, ready for rest, ready to learn to live in these new realities and get excited about what's to come.

happy may, everyone!

oh, and please do say hi. i'm curious who actually reads this blog now, after what, five and a half years, so if you read this, check in...it'll make my heart happy to know *hugs*

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

{{the traveling scrapbook continues...}}

I'm currently sitting in the Philadelphia airport. I've been traveling since about ten this morning, with a few more hours ago. This adventure is a longer one, a whole week in Dallas, plus a few days vacation. Right now, I'm working part-time for Compassion International, and I travel just about every other week visiting different stops on the Compassion Experience Change Tour and helping with Compassion Sunday events. It's an amazing job...and definitely not what I thought I'd be doing if you'd asked me this time last year.

from my last gig in Chattanooga, TN

When I flew away from Denver for the last time exactly seven months ago today, I really had no idea what I was going to do. I had no plans, nothing lined up, and only about a day to process the fact that I would be living at home again indefinitely, till I was actually there.

My heart was tired, and my soul needed a breather. I basically slept for two months straight as I adjusted from the fast paced, hectic life of a tour schedule to the quiet life at home. And honestly, I'm still adjusting. I still wake up in the middle of the night looking for my girls, I'm not used to having my own room, and I'm basically either the best or worst house guest ever since whenever I spend the night in someone else's house, I switch into "host home mode" - which can either be super helpful or super weird. Ha. 


I had to process a lot. I spent soooo much time with Jesus...because I really didn't have anyone else to turn to with the burdens that were weighing on my soul. I had to make some pretty big decisions almost right away when a job in Europe came available...and those weeks of interviews, and ultimately having to decide by myself whether I was going to go or not drew me closer to the Father's heart than I've ever been before.

One opportunity I *did* say yes to was the assistant coach of our public city high school swim team for the winter season. And while it was such a learning curve and pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of, I was back on the pool deck, coaching my favorite sport, and I'm so ridiculously thankful I said yes. Those twenty-seven kids....*shakes head*. I don't even have to words to describe them. Except that even with all their drama and attitude and excuses, they're some of my favorite kids I've ever met and I miss them every day. Beyond teaching me self-control, patience, and how to better articulate instructions (you know who you are), they taught me that everyone has a story, that listening sometimes is the best answer, and I was blown away by the example of endurance and perseverance I observed. I've also never laughed harder daily in my *life*. I'm serious. These children. They drove me crazy and kept me sane, they teased me and laughed with (and at) me, and were excited for me, and their excitement was an incredible encouragement. And I know they're reading this, so hey you guys, YOU ROCK. (and I'll see you next week and I'm super excited!)


And now, with my job with Compassion, I'm either traveling and working long days on the job, or I'm at home and not working at all. It's fantastic. Week on, week (or two) off - it's exactly what I need for where I'm at in life right now, and gives me some much needed family time with my siblings and parents. From driving the Middles to and from school, spontaneous McDonald's runs with hungry siblings, play dates outside with the Littles, adventures with the older girls, and dates with my parents...it's so good to be home.


It's been such an incredible year so far. 

And the biggest lesson I've learned is identity.

That I'm loved. I'm cherished. I'm valuable.

Because when you're confident that you don't have to be anyone or anything but yourself, that you are loved beyond comprehension, you can do *anything*. ANYTHING.



My favorite t-shirt right now says, "Go Be Love." My swim kids asked me about it one time, what it meant. And I loved being able to sit back and think a minute, realizing that because I'm so secure in my identity, so confident that I'm loved, that I'm FREE to extend that love to everyone around me. I don't have to prove anything, I don't have to be anything, I can just love people. That's it.

This has been seven months of healing. Of forgiveness, surrender, and letting go. And out of that, out of that healing, has come immeasurable joy. Lively hope. Renewed vision. Nothing that has happened before defines me, nothing matters except the Love that is so freely poured out on me.


This year isn't over yet. Faaaaar from it. There are many more adventures ahead. More plane flights, more people, more conversations, more life-changing events. Life is getting exciting, and I'm trembling with joy just thinking about it.


There's been a verse that's been a favorite of mine for just about exactly a year. It's 1 John 4:18.

"Perfect love casts out fear."

If any verse summed up my past five months in five words, it's that one.

"There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear."

Dear ones....Jesus loves us perfectly. He pours out His love over us. And because of that, we don't have to be anything but His children. You don't have to prove anything, you don't have to be someone you're not, you don't have to be afraid of failure, or being left behind, or forgotten. Even if your life doesn't go exactly the way you plan, you can still walk in completely confidence into the great unknown *knowing* that You. Are. Loved. And because that Perfect Love is being poured so freely over your life....you can then love others perfectly, because it's not just you on your own strength, it's HIS love, HIS strength. 

And that opens doors for a kind of love and trust between each other that isn't humanly possible...and it's pretty much the most beautiful thing you could ever experience on earth. In fact, I'd say it is.


This is a song that my dear Courtney gave me back in October...and it's pretty much become an anthem of mine.

"So let my heart tell You again when seasons change and stories end
Your steady love it will sustain me through it all,
Jesus, Your Love....
...There is a strength that rises up in me
to know that You've been here before me
A strength beyond what I can see
Jesus, Your love, Jesus, Your Love..."


So friends. I'm back. It's been months since I wrote, honestly because I just couldn't write. There was too much bottled up inside of me that I couldn't share...and now that I've had time to process, Jesus gave me my words back. He is faithful. And this little journal of life that's stuck with me through thick and thin since I was fifteen years old is back again - if nothing else, to proclaim a testimony of perfect love and faithfulness that's only possible because of Jesus.


Let the adventures continue!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

{ winter style book : it snowed! }

Speaking honestly here, it's been a long, hard week. My friends, when Jesus starts expanding your heart, expect growing pains. Denying self, fighting flesh, and claiming peace in chaos are not easy things, but the reward is infinite and always worth it.


My outfit today is one that I was just laying in bed thinking about what to wear, this came to mind, and so I wore it. Those end up being some of my favorite pairs anyway, when I sort of strangely instinctively know what I'll be comfortable in on a given day.


This crochet top was part of my early fall closet purge/shopping trip. I basically went through all my clothes from high school, got rid of...most of them, and started over. The top was on clearance at TJ Maxx, and was sort of the first item I bought at the beginning of my freedom journey. That ended up being a pretty incredible week for me spiritually too...just stepping out into unknowns and making decisions without being afraid. Good stuff.


The skirt...this skirt is from tour. And it brings back so many memories every time I put it on. It's been all over the country, seen many a set up or a tear down...tearful faces and messy hands have been wiped dry on it, excited fingers have grabbed it and pulled it to go and see something cool, and it's seen many happy cuddles and comforts and playtimes after school. I love my tour clothes...they tell the stories of my kiddos and those are memories I treasure, and memories I miss.


I'm not sure if you all remember our itty bitty rescue kitten we found on the side of the road one night on our way home from a football game...but he's definitely not little or abandoned anymore. He's a big, fat orange cat with a mind of his own and while he's mellowed out some, this is rare moment of kindness. Oh, Simba...you remind me of the farm too, so I still love you, even when you bite me 'cause I love on you too much.

{once again, all pictures credit to the lovely Caroline}

Jesus is doing a big work in me right now. It feels like I'm walking through a bit of a fog, and every day there's something new to work through, but there's such peace in knowing the victory is already won. I don't have to strive for something that Jesus died to give me. It's my job to believe, to walk in faith, to trust Him completely.

And you know what? He always brings joy. Happiness is dependent on circumstances, Joy is a state of the heart. So even when it's hard, and life hurts, I can still be joyful. And every day, there is fresh mercy, fresh grace, fresh joy. {psalm 30:5 // lamentations 3:22-23 }

On a lovely, cheerful note: IT SNOWED! Not for very long, but long enough to make our trees and bushes pretty for a few hours before the sun came out and melted it all. I love snow...winter has finally arrived! <3

// The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies they never come to an end
They are new every morning, new every morning
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord
Great is Thy faithfulness \\

Sunday, January 10, 2016

winter stylebook // purple and polkadots


back to blogging after way too long...really praying about what to write about on here in this new year.  the past five months have been life-changing, soul-shaping, heart-altering, and out of this world and I really want to start sharing some of it with you all. the past three-ish months specifically have been very impactful, and I feel like a completely different person. Yay, Jesus!

anyway. today's outfit is honestly pretty reflective of the changes in my life. I've started exploring my personality a little more, who I am, what I like and don't like, and trying new things. I have a rather....hilarious personality type (if you're the myers-briggs sort, i'm pretty much a classic enfp.) and a very short attention span, so new things are always super fun and exciting for me, and I'm not afraid to mess up and start over if necessary. And especially now that Jesus has done so much soul-work and my confidence in His love is through the roof...I've gotten even crazier. *mysterious laugh*



I've always wanted fun tights, so I finally splurged a little and picked up a few pairs from Target to see what I thought. These are gray and black polka dots, and are technically sweater tights - aka. SUPER warm and cozy *and* cute.

note on my classic trusty rusty boots: yay for dads who love leather and polishing up these favorites after they went through a year of tour in slowly progressing disrepair. Thank you, Daddy! (he also did my cowboy boots which look uh-maaaazing now!


short skirts are something I've not really tried to do much with in the past, but for months now have wanted to experiment with. when we took a spontaneous trip to Washington D.C. last week, we hung out in Tyson's Corner one day and I bought this purplish-red standard from Forever 21. I got a couple others too, which you'll be seeing soon as I keep playing around with my clothes.


I've done so much wardrobe cleaning out and buying of new things in the past couple months...now I feel like I pretty much only have what I wear, and plenty of combinations and colors and patterns to play with. It's been super fun so far and I love using the same pieces to get different looks depending on the day and occasion.

My gray shirt is from Old Navy...loose fitting and soft, I wear it tucked in, belted, loose, layered...any way you can think of it, it works.

The belt is off a sweater dress I bought at Walmart on tour last year. I wear it with....everything. Stretchy and versatile and never too tight, it's the perfect accent for most of my skirts and dresses.

But here's my favorite piece of my outfit by far.


My necklace.

If my life had a motto, it would be this.

GO. BE. LOVE. 

The only way I can spend my days loving others and being poured out for the Kingdom of Heaven is if I know, beyond a doubt, that I am loved by my Abba Father. It's HIS love that enables me to live the life I'm called to, and live fully in the freedom and joy He died to purchase for me.

Every morning, my call is to get up, get moving, and be love to the world....because He loved me first.

And, as most of you know, almost all of my jewelry has some sort of sentimental value, and this piece is no different. The necklace was a gift from my very best friend, who knows this truth very well and has been my joyful companion in so many "go be love" adventures...and many more to come. All kinds of stories about that....for another day...


So here's to a new year of love, life, and ever more of Jesus! There's so much in store for each of us in the next twelve months...joy, sorrow, laughter, love, pain, hurt, forgiveness, peace, and a never ending source of strength for whatever we may encounter. Friends, give your year, your story, to Jesus...and let Him show you what He can do in just one, willing life.


{picture credits to my budding photographer sister and pal, the lovely Caroline.}

Monday, November 30, 2015

a thrill of hope


we're entering the beautiful, precious season of advent. It's extra special to me this year, and I know that Jesus has some very specific things He wants me to know as this season unfolds. 

It's a beautiful season of waiting, of anticipation, of looking forward...advent. A word that means, "coming." I want to know Him more than ever before, to have His heart for this month, to have His eyes to see as we enter this most wonderful time of the year.


As we hold our breath in wonder, waiting, watching, with all of creation...for the coming of the Messiah, He wants us to see Him, to know His heart. To live and walk in the hope that His coming gives to a dark, tired and hurting world. The love behind it that changes lives. The peace that passes all understanding and gives confidence to those who have tasted and seen that He is good.


"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy...
...for to us a child is born, to us a son is given.." {isaiah 9}

This is a very real hope we live with. The hope that does not disappoint. The hope that keeps our hearts pounding, our souls seeking, our hearts open.


He. Christ Jesus. He is our Hope.

Twenty-five days till Christmas - twenty-five days to dive deep into the heart of the Father. Let the anticipation build. Let Him show you His desire for this season. Let Him win your heart in ways you never dreamed - be blown away by His love.


"...a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

{ creating my own little corner }

This past weekend, my dear Courtney drove up from South Carolina to spend a few days with me. While she was here, we tackled the job of re-decorating my room.

My basement bedroom up till this point has been the family guest room, so not much had been done to it since my family moved in last summer. When I first got home in August, I put some strings of pictures up pretty much right away, but that was about it.

In the past four days, the Lord truly blessed us as we spent hours re-doing everything. I want this physical room to be a place where His presence is known and felt, and I knew that in order for that to become a reality, I actually needed to change what the room looked like. I won't get into all the spiritual ramifications for that, but there's definitely something powerful about deliberately decorating a room in such a way that brings glory to Jesus and changes the atmosphere of the place.

With that intro, onto the project!

before...




...and after!




I'm in love with it all! So thankful.

Courtney and I made two shopping outings, one on Friday night to T.J. Maxx for pillows and Walmart for pillowcases, and then on Saturday morning for everything else, ha! Before we left on Saturday, we stopped and prayed - gave the whole project to Jesus. He knew our heart, and *I*knew He'd lead us to the perfect things for this room. 

And oh, He did! We were finished in less than three hours, and spent the rest of the day arranging and hanging and adjusting and painting (yay Court!) and adding touches here and there. Overwhelmed and blessed that Jesus cares about every little thing!

Now for the details...


my bed:
bed pillows // T.J. Maxx
square throw pillows // T.J. Maxx
bicycle throw pillow // clearance at Stein Mart
throw blanket // clearance at Stein Mart
old bear // daddy's

wall elements:
world map // Marshalls - a complete answer to prayer. from the beginning I said I wanted a map for my bed wall...it was the last thing we found!
circle mirrors // Marshalls

The picture frames were all from Goodwill, and the canvases from Marshalls. The keys we found at Steinmart and they were so so perfect....so much spiritual significance!


I loved making the collage frame. We found a big frame at Goodwill, removed the picture, and I ran twine back and forth in between the wood, securing it with the fasteners already inside the edges of the frame. Then I just hung the photos with clothespins like I did back as part of the "old room." I love how it turned out!

 
One of my favorite things about the room now is the lighting once night time comes. With the Christmas lights framing the back wall, and the two lamps and candle, there's such a peace in here. 

Speaking of The Candle - it's a Scentsational natural soy candle, apple cinnamon scent. It's magic, and I'm in danger of burning it down too fast cause it smells SO STINKIN AMAZING. Oh, the little things that warm my soul!



The chairs got to stay in, and still match wonderfully. I love having such homey "sitting room" space. The "Life is a Trip" pillow was on clearance at Steinmart and made me laugh. The chair itself was given to us by our precious neighbor back when we lived on the farm, and I treasure it so much. I love that it gets to be in my room!


The globe was a fun find, found that at Home Goods. It was on clearance, and it's a little hard to turn, but the more maps the merrier and yay for a vintage globe! All the little knick knacks on the table are mine from all over the place - stories behind every single one. 

The rug on the floor is actually from my parent's bedroom. Mama was planning on getting a new one anyway, so she let me have it. It was bargain to begin with - she found it at the Salvation Army for $30, got it cleaned, and now it's worth...a whole lot more than that. *grin* Thrifted for the win, every time!

The second twin bed - affectionately dubbed "Courtney's Bed", it belongs to whoever's turn it is to visit or spend time in the room. My sisters have already made themselves at home there when they come down to hang out or do homework. That fuzzy blanket is something else...


blue bed:
bed pillows // T.J. Maxx
square throw pillows // T.J. Maxx
round pillow // purchased at Orchard House (home of Lousia May Alcott and family) on a family trip to Boston a few years ago. It finally matches - so happy!
throw blanket // Stein Mart

wall elements:
shelf // I have no clue - we've had it for years and years and years
wood block print // T.J. Maxx - you can't read it in this picture, but that wood print on the shelf says, "a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices..." - a beautiful line from "O Holy Night." it fits so perfectly with everything I'm walking right now, and has that precious word HOPE in it again!
"L" // Steinmart - another answer to an unspoken prayer - I wanted a letter on my wall so badly!
"Dreamers" canvas // Steinmart - one of my favorite things we found. After reading it a hundred times, I still don't fully understand it but it's so cool....and kinda prophetic in a really neat way.


There came a moment with this wall (which we did second, after my wall), where Court and I looked at each other and weren't sure if it was going to pull together - then we remember the shelf, pulled it out of the closet and within a few minutes, all the pieces fell into place! Yay!

Once again, all the frames are from Goodwill. Courtney painted the word "joy" inside the gold frame, lovely artist that she is.

On the little shelf, the shells on top are from Isle of Palms, South Carolina on one of our countless beach trips, the photo of the mountains in the frame is actually a postcard of the Alps from my dear Kate when she lived in Germany, the peacock feather is from my hope chest - a farmer's market find when I was about ten, and the coke bottle is from a little soda fountain my mama used to go to as a girl in Mt. Pleasant, SC. So lots of little special things!


Above the dresser there is a map of the West Indies. We found it at Goodwill, and what an unexpected blessing! I mean, you can hardly find a map of the Islands anywhere, much less vintage, and I didn't even *think* of looking. But there you go - a piece of my family history on my wall. (For those of y'all who don't know, our family heritage on my Dad's side goes back to St. Croix, USVI and Puerto Rico - hence the surprise and excitement at finding such an obscure map)



Also on the dresser is a print - an illustration from Little Women, actually, that we bought at Orchard House in Concord years ago. It's Jo, and her old German professor under their umbrella in the rain...sorta makes you want to sing, maybe? *grin* Couldn't have my own room with bringing Jo in somewhere *wink*

All the little bluish-greenish pottery on the table tops every where are from a host home Miriami and Feli and I stayed at in South Carolina. We actually made it, so it's super special. The girls didn't take all the pieces they created back to Mizoram with them, so I have some of theirs. *hearts and love and sniffles* #imissmygirls


Last but not least, there is a big tall happy bookshelf between the closet and bedroom doors. All my books and treasures have a home, and now that everything's out, I've started reading and writing again. It's an incredible feeling - to realize that the part of me that's been set aside and on hold for over two years during my travels and adventures - is still part of me. Very much so.


Well, that's a wrap! This was a such a fun project - and so blessed from start to finish. Everything we bought was super affordable (no piece was more than $20, most were under $10-12, except for the large map, which was $40 - but it was the last thing and such an answer the prayer!) and it didn't feel like we were shopping for ourselves...I can't explain how tangible the presence of Jesus was in this whole process. It was so beautiful.

This room already become such a haven of peace and rest in the past few days...my cozy place. I've been going through boxes of keepsakes and papers and letters and junk and everything else you can think of that I haven't touched in years, and it's been so fun be all holed up in this lovely space listening to my music and smiling cause it's so homey. SO THANKFUL.

And I'm crazy thankful I got to do it with my Courtney...double the trouble and double the fun.


Have a happy Wednesday everyone, and hey....there's an extra bed so...come visit? There's hot tea ready, I have TWO mugs now so we can each have one, and we talk or do a puzzle on the floor or read or talk or do nothing and just be...and listen to my quiet playlist or the Mizo music I'm currently playing on repeat...just come be, friends. Fellowship is precious.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40