Sunday, June 30, 2013

your love broke through


Like a foolish dreamer, trying to build a highway to the sky
All my hopes would come tumbling down, and I never knew just why
Until today, when you pulled away the clouds
That hung like curtains on my eyes
Well I've been blind all these wasted years and I thought I was so wise
But then you took me by surprise

Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I've been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love broke through
All my life I've been searching for that crazy missing part
And with one touch, you just rolled away the stone that held my heart
And now I see that the answer was as easy, as just asking you in
And I am so sure I could never doubt your gentle touch again
It's like the power of the wind


Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I've been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love broke through
your love broke through by keith green

Monday, June 24, 2013

one candle.

Sunday evening, we gathered in the Everitt Center at 7pm. We did not know what this activity was, but we knew it was going to be powerful. The building was completely empty, the lights were off and the windows were darkened. In the middle of the floor was one candle – the only light. The guys sat on one side of the room, and the girls on the other. Philip (our student life activity coordinator/leader) told us that were about to enter into a time of prayer for the persecuted church around the world – in an environment simulating what underground worship would be like for them.

Immediately, my heart began to pound and I started to sweat. The persecuted church, while I prayed for them and was aware that there is great persecution around the world, was a subject I have been careful to avoid. Because the glaring truth in my life is – I am afraid of pain. Not of death, of pain. I don’t want to hear how others are suffering, or how cruel human beings can be to each other. I don’t want to know the depths of a fallen world. And here I was, in a darkened building with almost a hundred people inside, about to spend two hours focusing JUST on the persecuted church.

We spent the first forty five minutes in corporate-yet-individual prayer, something we do a lot here at Ellerslie. My heart stopped pounding – I can pray. I waited on the Lord for a burden, and was again awed at how specific our God can be when we ask Him for a burden. Kneeling on the ground, surrounded by the sound of the prayers of others, I wept as I prayed for friends who are more like family, who risk their lives every day in one of the world’s most dangerous places. I prayed for the burden of a friend who has a vision for family ministry in the closed country he calls home. Burden after burden on my heart. The candle still burning, as some of us stood and paced the floor.

After those first forty five or so minutes had passed, Philip transitioned us into a time of quoting Scripture – everyone still in praying position, calling out verses from the Bible’s many passages about trials, staying strong in tribulation, and the strength we have in Christ Jesus. Someone would start a verse, and by the end, the whole room would be ringing with the voices of fifty or more people finishing it with the first. “The Lord is the strength of my life, whom shall I fear?” “The Lord is a fortress – the righteous run to it and are safe.” “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”

Then someone began a song. “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful”, “When I Survey”, “1000 Reasons”, “Our God is Greater”. The room was literally *ringing * with song – shaking. Even in the pitch darkness, because the candle eventually blew out, there was great joy in our Savior.

Finally, we all found a seat again, and Philip began to read. Once again, I felt my heart tightening up in my chest. I did not want to hear what he had to say. My hands went up to my ears. But I knew that needed to listen.

(i did black out the text in case more sensitive readers want to think about it before reading)
He read two short stories. The first about believers in NK, just a few years ago, who had lived underground, and were discovered when the government decided to build a road. Four children were hung as their parents refused to deny Christ. Then the rest of the believers and their pastor were laid on the road and run over by construction equipment. They refused to deny their Lord, and died singing “More Love to Thee O Christ.”

The second story was one I was familiar with – the story of a converted family who were brought before their chief and commanded to renounce Christ. The father answered, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” The chief killed his two sons. Then he said again, “Do you deny Christ?” “Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back.” His wife was killed. Finally, “Do you deny Christ?” “The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.” The chief killed him. But he was so moved by the sight of this family who would not turn their back on their LORD, that he himself was converted, and penned the song we know as “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as we sang “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” and “More Love to Thee O Christ” to close the evening. I spent the next thirty minutes in self reflection, ashamed of the many times I have taken my faith for granted, and ignored the suffering church. Praise the LORD for His forgiveness, especially when I do not deserve it.

I am still not a fan of pain. I don’t like hearing these stories. But, as Philip reminded us, they are not made up. This stuff is happening every day all over the world. The suffering church of Christ must be in our prayers every day. We were charged not to leave the room until we had allowed God to change our hearts. He changed mine. For the sake of Christ, and for the brave teenagers and young adults my own age who have suffered and died for His name, I am changed. They are a burden on my heart, and what little strength I have, I give to them. Intercession.

folks, this is where I live. What I see every night. MIND. BLOWING.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

it's a cinderella love

This morning, Mama Sandi spoke about the joy of the seeking heart. The Lord promises over and over again in Scripture that those who seek Him diligently WILL find Him.

"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" - Isaiah 55:6
Long for the longing – never lose the child-wonder and joy of seeking Christ. Be like the princess in Song of Solomon – asking everyone in sight, “Have you seen Him? Have you seen the one who my soul loves?” And then rejoice with joy overflowing when we do find Him. Because here’s the real truth: He loves us and is seeking us MORE than we love and are seeking Him. We love because He first loved us.

As funny as it sounds, when she read that verse, a line from one of more favorite love songs came to mind: “…I wanted to ring out the bells and fling out my arms and to sing out the news – I have found him! I have found him!”

THAT's the attitude we should have towards our God. THAT's the joy we should feel every time we find a new attribute in His Word. It’s a sweet and beautiful picture of our own heavenly love story.

More love to Thee, Oh Christ!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

content to eat sand.

There is something crying out from my dead soul.

On my knees, tears streaming down my face, begging the Spirit with all the longing I can find – begging with Him to fill me from the bottom up with Himself.

Sitting still and silent, reaching out – the fingers of your earthly, human hand mirroring the groping of your broken, bleeding heart.

I’ve come out of Egypt, yes, but I’m stumbling around in the Wilderness. The thought of the Promised Land fills me with joy, but somehow I am content to pitch a tent and eat sand, believing the lie that Heaven on earth is only possible in the next life.

The question is: am I ready to die? Ready to die utterly, completely to self? Fully comprehend that Jesus wants me MORE than I want Him, and He can wash my face and get the sand out of my teeth and lead me into a better way? Am I ready to face the Dark Night of the Soul, to grab hold of the heel of God and not let go until that which is in Heaven is here in me?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thor

While we were at the beach, my family finally got around to watch Captain America with me. (the past 3 times they had watched it was when I was at play practice -_-) I really enjoyed it, and wanted to see other Avengers movies. Well, last night we watched Thor. Since Captain America was the only other Avenger I've watched, Thor had a high bar to live up to. And it did.......in some ways. 



Catherine's Thor Review



Pros:
  • Great Redemptive Story
  • Not much lovey-dovey stuff
  • Great actors
  • Stunning visually
  • Good story line

Bit-by-Bit:
Great Redemptive Story. When it started I thought "this is going to be a long movie. Thor really got on my nerves, and I wanted to slap him. At the end (trying not to give too much away) his talk with his dad really touched me, and made me decide that, hey, I like this movie.

Not much lovey-dovey stuff. I'm not usually the one that dances in front of the screen when people kiss, but it does get on my nerve.....a whole lot. Captain America drove me nuts on that pathway, but Thor only has one nice long one. 'nough said. Other than that, pretty good.


Great actors. Loki was incredibly convincing as the caniaving and jealous younger brother. Thor was great at showing the uncontrollable anger, and the distraught older brother. Jane.....well, she was good, and I didn't really like the character all that much anyway. 


Jane Foster: How'd you get inside that cloud?
Darcy: Also, how could you eat an entire box of Pop-Tarts and still be this hungry? 
Jane's little sidekick/best friend person = awesome.

Thor: [walking into a pet shop] I need a horse!
Pet Store Clerk: We don't have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds.
Thor: Then give me one of those big enough to ride.

Stunning visually. The camera angles were wonderful, and the difference between Thor's kingdom and the frost giants was distinct.





Good story line. Coulda been better, coulda been a whole lot worse. Overall, I liked it. 

Cons:
  • Creepy
  • Very magical
  • disobedience
  • Too much alcahhol

Bit-by-Bit:
Creepy. I wasn't half as creped out as my 12-year-old sister, but it got on my nerves. Those frost giants.....*shivers* Anything that happened in the frost world was so dark that you couldn't see what was on the screen. Probably a good thing. It was a pro and a con, they established that the frost giants were the bad guys, no doubt about it. But for the sake of younger folks, unless you don't have nightmares about things you've watched, DON'T WATCH IT. (I don't btw)

Very magical.  The whole idea about other gods.....not really me, but I more put it on the scale with Star Trek (random people on planets) and I got along fine. I felt there was too much magic to make it even realistic (Captain America had that blue stuff, but that was the only thing) with the bridge, and the frost giants freezing people....etc. Thor's hammer was incredible though.



Thor: Once I retrieve Mjolnir [his hammer], I will return to you the items they stole from you. Deal?
Jane: No. You think you're gonna just walk in and walk out?
Thor: No. I'm gonna fly out.


Disobedience. I'm glad it was portrayed as a bad thing. Too many movies show disobedience as a good thing, and this was not one of them. I'm glad at the end he realized what he had done was wrong. 

Too much alcohol. Yup. There was. I'm not very picky about it, and I've watched worse, but it felt like it didn't really belong in that kind of movie.....so yeah.

There you go. I'm not very good with putting words down, but hopefully you got an idea of what I thought of it. Overall, I loved it. I had my problems with it, but it lived up to my expectations for a son-of-a-god-who-has-a-magical-hammer-and-a-jealous-younger-brother. To sum up, I like it, it's creepy, it's great, and it’s weird.









Thor: [taking coffee for the first time] This drink.....I like it!
Darcy: I know, it's great right? 
Thor: ANOTHER!
Thor: [throws the mug on the floor and shatters it]
Jane Foster: [to the lady behind the counter] Sorry, Izzie, little accident...
Jane: [to Thor] What was that?
Thor: It was delicious! I want antoher!
Jane: You could have just said so!
Thor: I just did!
Jane: I mean ask nicely!
Thor: I meant no disrespect.
Jane: Alright, no more smashing. Deal?
Thor: You have my word.  

5 out of 5 stars.

Which avenger comes next?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

colorado bound - yes, this is a goodbye post of sorts.

By the time most of you read this, I will be off in the wild blue yonder - on my way to my new summer home. Yes, the time has come. It's hard to believe that the seed planted while in Nicaragua last year is about to bear fruit. Twelve months ago, I was reading my second Leslie Ludy book, and last August I started reading up about Ellerslie. It was just an idea then - it's a little crazy how much can happen in a year.

I'm thankful that the LORD has brought me to this point - I don't deserve the grace I've been shown. This year has been wonderful in so many ways, but a challenge in many others. I've been tried and stretched and refined, but also blessed beyond measure and mercifully built up and encouraged. This is a unique next step, and I'm excited about what it holds for me.

But it's also hard to leave. I said goodbye to my extended family in two groups. I said goodbye to my cousin who's deploying in July (my family will see him again before then, I won't). I said goodbye to my aunt who is bravely and cheerfully fighting a disease that has already taken so much from her. I said goodbye to my church family and my theatre family on the same day.

And last night I had a wet and emotional farewell with my friends and coaches and "little siblings" on our swim team. While I was holding on tightly to a friend, willing myself not to sob, the thought ran through my brain: "I should be thankful." "Thankful? For WHAT?" "Thankful that you have built so many meaningful relationships here that it's hurting your heart to leave them even for the summer." And that's true, and in a weird kind of way, very encouraging.

We celebrated Father's Day today, since Mama and I will be gone on Sunday. (Mama comes home Monday) And my family also encouraged me with special Scripture verses, and laid hands on me and blessed me. I talked to another dear friend on the phone, and she prayed with me and blessed me also. Caroline, Michael, Luke, Josh and Susannah did a show for me after supper as a goodbye gift. A lovely last night together as a family for a long time.

My four youngest siblings are in bed right now. I just said goodbye to them. No tears, nothing particularly sad. Just hugs all around, and promises of Skype calls and presents when I come back. I told the boys to email me how they do in their swim meets and at Champs. Susannah speculated about whether she'd be taller or not when I came back, since she will have had a birthday.

So it's not even 2130 and I'm about to hit the sack. Say my last goodbyes to my three very special roommates, and get ready for my 0330 wake up time. "There's no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need none."

I love you, my dear and faithful blog readers. Thanks for sticking with me the past year. I will have internet at Ellerslie - not a whole lot, but enough to keep y'all updated, unlike Nica - so watch for posts. Catherine is also going to try her hand at some guest blogging, and I know for a fact from experience that she's quite entertaining. *winky face*

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” - Numbers 6:24-26
xoxo

Liza.

Friday, June 7, 2013

what happened?

I just spent about thirty minutes reading through my old blog archives - cracking myself up at the hilarious posts and stories, enjoying pictures of my oh-so-little siblings, and remembering those golden blogging days. It's been nearly four years since I started on this humble little site, and it's changed drastically. Back in the day when having an elvish or narnian "blogging name" or pen name was normal and cool (Merriette, Eldarwen, Izori, Queen Lucy, Lucie, etc.), when I did quotes quizzes every month, averaged seven or eight comments per post, when we reviewed every movie or book we read, blogged everyday, spent hours poring over "cutest blog on the block" or "hot bliggity blog" to pick the *perfect* background, did every single one of those tags that worked their way through the system, and faithfully awarded our circle of friends when honored with one ourselves.


It's such a different blogging world now. My life was so different then. Now, I blog maybe once a week. No worries if even ten days go by without a post. Two years ago, I probably would've written an apologetic "sorry I've been gone so long" post to herald my return. Now, that's normal.

What happened?

Well, I guess we got older. Schedules are full, free time is spent on "grown up" activities. But that in itself doesn't bother me. What does is this:

My posts aren't half as lighthearted as they used to be. Not as many pictures of my life, not as many play-by-play updates, or candid moments. Everything is structured, or written like an article. What happened to your little Jo March, sharing her heart and the "Wild Blue Yonder" with whoever would listen? Why do I find it so hard to just sit down and share the little things in life that still mean so much to me?

Honestly, I don't know where Jo went. And I can't go back to the way things "used to be", since I'll never be a carefree fifteen year old with no troubles in the world except a piano competition and getting the quotes quiz up on time.

I think I need to not only stop and smell the roses, but share them. Because those little things I love and used to share so freely with you all are still in my life - just as precious as they were then. My baby "Zuzu", who I posted so proudly about in one of my very first posts is about to celebrate her fourth birthday. "Titiana" is starting high school this fall. "Peter" is eleven years old, and turning into a young man. We're still the same children, but in a different stage of life now.


I don't know…maybe the more mature note that this blog has taken is better. I have been rather enjoying the new feel of things since January. But I think it's time to resurrect some of the old Jo. Don't get me wrong, I think Liza is pretty great, but Jo holds a piece of my childhood, and I think it'll be good for all of us to see her come back now and again.
“I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end." - Jo March, Little Women
With love, as always,

your Jo.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

quality time.

In the chaos of my world, this vacation has been refreshing. This afternoon, Caroline and I went into Mt. Pleasant to spend some quality time together before I leave. This is an area I have sorely neglected this year, and today was a step in the right direction.

geeking out over Matilda ("It is 2-L-8-4-U E-R revolting!") and mocha cookie crumb/chocolate chip frappuccinos was an excellent way to start our date.

this is incredible. I could've spent hours curled up in the store fangirling over every story and picture…just five minutes of perusing had me way too excited…if only I had $40 lying around. Life of a teenager.

Caroline found three pretty darn awesome Downton books - the complete Season 1 scripts, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, and a behind-the-scenes sort of book. Once again, hours of entertainment.

We left eventually, since we had a limited budget and were starting to have trouble resisting tenth commandment. But not without a new Nancy Drew book for Caroline, and another unabridged copy of Les Miserables, because one is not enough *sheepish grin* 


We explored the Old Navy - theirs is so much better than ours, which Caroline commented tends to be how life is anyway - and Bath and Body Works. We came out of the latter smelling like a dozen different scents, some better than others. One perfume had me coughing and gagging like all get out, and Caroline tried an apple soap that left her smelling like a Granny Smith pie. And sadly, the "three sexy new scents" smelled like diapers. Go figure. *snort* But we did find some fun new ones, and Caroline managed to spray two different "fragrance mists" backwards up her neck. Oh, we're quite a pair. 

At Old Navy she tried on flip-flips, and I wanted to try on everything in sight. We are very interesting shoppers. Good thing we were already broke. :P

She was already reading her new book while we waited to be picked up, and finished it within thirty minutes after getting back to the beach house. A girl after my own heart.

All this going to reinforce that I'm going to miss my siblings like all get out when I leave for Ellerslie in just two short weeks. So thankful for this quality time.