Saturday, August 31, 2013

isaac and ishmael.

Sometimes God shows you something and you say, "Wow - I never thought of that before" and then you move on. But He really wants you to SEE it, so He shows you again. "Interesting, I was just thinking about that." And you move on. But He still really wants you to SEE it with the eyes of your heart, and not just see, but believe and apply it….so He shows you AGAIN. And you sit there and feel a little foolish for not seeing it before, you might chuckle at yourself, but then you turn serious and really begin to pray and dig deeper to discover the fullness of what He's sharing.

I'm reading through the Bible in 90 days - which sounds daunting, but frankly, it isn't. The reading is *maybe* thirty minutes a day, and it's in great portions so that you don't feel overwhelmed by the text you're reading, but small enough you can still let it sink deep.

On Tuesday, I was in Genesis at the story of Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael - the firstborn of the flesh, Isaac - second born, but born of the Spirit. I was blessed to be reminded of God's faithfulness to fulfill His promises, even when we are unfaithful. [Genesis 16, 18, and 21] It's a great point for meditation, but God had more for me that morning.

I'm also reading through Leslie Ludy's book Sacred Singleness. I normally read books all at once, reading straight through for hours a day until it's done. Over the summer, I learned the value of taking a little bit of a book at a time, really reading it, and not moving on until I understand and can apply what I read. It's been really sweet to read through this particular book as I'm in a time of just being at home, being still before the LORD and letting Him direct my life as He wills.

So, that particular morning, I was in Chapter 6 "Giving God a Hand" [page 77]. Any guesses on what the sub-title of the chapter is? Isaac or Ishmael. Yup. Let's just say, if I wasn't really paying attention before, I was now.

Leslie went on to lay out how necessary it is to let God truly have the pen of our love life, and not try to "give Him a hand" by taking matters into our own hands and asking Him to bless our attempts. As the chapter unfolded, I saw clearly that this doesn't just apply to my love life (although that is a super important area to turn over to God), but to my life in general.

"Like so many of us, Abraham longed for his own handiwork to be blessed by God, rather than having to wait for God to fulfill HIs promise in His own time and way….but our Lord has something far better in store, if only we will trust Him." - Leslie Ludy, Sacred Singleness

The light was beginning to dawn in my heart, but I was still missing a piece to the puzzle.

It came later that afternoon.

via pinterest
We are fast approaching the fall feast of Rosh Hashanah - Yom Teruah - the Festival of Trumpets - the beginning of the High Holy Days - the special Sabbath set aside for repentance and the casting off of sin in preparation for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

As I was reading up and planning meals for the holiday and thinking about what we could to help the younger children understand more clearly what's happening on Rosh Hashanah. It's a loaded holiday, not only is all that I mentioned above, but it's the Jewish New Year, a celebration of Creation - the "birthday of the world", and one more thing….something I hadn't heard before in my previous years of studying this holiday….it's a remembrance of the sacrifice of Isaac.

Yes, the same Isaac from Genesis. The second born. The promised child. The fulfillment of God's promise.

I knew there were parallels between Isaac and Jesus Christ - the promised children, sacrificed by their fathers, Christ was the substitute lamb for us, just as there was a ram as a substitute for Isaac. But there was one important one I missed.

Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice on his back the entire way to the mountain. Sound like Anyone else you know?

So I've had all this jumble of thoughts in my mind, not exactly sure what the LORD was trying to get across to me, but praying that it would be made clear in time. In the meanwhile, I prayed daily that I would be truly surrounding my life plans to Him.

Yesterday [Friday], I got a lovely phone call from my roommate from Ellerslie, who's actually still there going through the Advanced program. Towards the end of our conversation, she asked if I had any prayer requests. I started thinking, and the only thing that came to mind was all that jumble about Isaac and Ishmael. It wasn't exactly a prayer request, but I stepped out on faith and started sharing with her what was going on in my heart.

Sometimes it just takes saying it out loud for it all to make sense. As I spoke, the underlying truth shone clearly. The Lord wasn't assuring me of His faithfulness - although He is faithful. He wasn't reminding me of His mercy towards me - although it's overwhelming the mercy He has poured out on my undeserving life.

It was really more of a correction.


I've been home for nearly two weeks. I love being home, I love my family, I love what I do. Yes, there have been challenges - and sometimes it's a struggle just to close my mouth and let the Spirit do His work. But overall, it's been wonderful.

But I've been looking ahead - looking ahead to April (when I return to Ellerslie), looking ahead to Christmas (when I get to see some people I love dearly and miss greatly), and most of all, just looking ahead to whatever I'm home preparing for.

While I was in Colorado, He made it clear I was to come home and live with my family and be trained by the Spirit and by my parents for the next eight-ish months. A preparation season.

Preparation for what?

That was my question. That was what I was thinking about. Instead of focusing on the moment, the day, and the task at hand, my question was always, "What exactly am I doing this for?" And I started looking for an answer.

And Jesus gave me my answer. He showed me, through the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Ishamel, and He has a plan for me greater than I have for myself. Abraham KNEW the promise of God - that he would have a son in his old age. But instead of waiting on God's timing, he took matters into his own hands. Do you know how old Ishmael was when Isaac was born? Fourteen. Fourteen years after Abraham tried to help God out, the promise came. And not only that, God asked Abraham to sacrifice the promise on an altar. By this time, Abraham knew his God, trusted His commands, and followed without question. Just when it seemed like the promise was dashed to bits, God stepped in and kept His Word.

And now, we're moving in the season of Yom Teruah - repentance, leading up to Yom Kippur - reconciliation with God.

So yes, I was being admonished. "You've only been home two weeks, little one, and you're already getting ahead of yourself, getting ahead of Me. Step back, slow down, focus on what I've given you. You don't need to know all the answers. Just be obedient. Repent, die to yourself, draw near, and keep your eyes on Me. Don't pull an Ishmael."

Don't pull an Ishmael, Liza. And that was the prayer request I gave to Morgan.

I'm sharing this with y'all for a specific reason. I don't share publicly everything God's doing in my heart, but I felt that this would be encouraging and helpful, since it's something we all struggle with on some level.

I'm sharing this with y'all because I want you to see something clearly. Consider it a charge or a challenge from me to you. It's pretty simple: listen to God.

You will not know what you're missing if you write off what He's revealing to you as just "nice to know" sort of applies-to-every-one-equally truth. If He lays something your heart, look into it. Dig deep in the Word. Pray about it. Let the Spirit work into your soul, and if it's a command, obey it. If it's conviction, repent. That's how we grow in Him, that's how we see Him for who He really is.

Listen. Obey. Trust.

….and don't, under any circumstances, pull an Ishmael. :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

a morning in the Valley

One of our favorite field trips - The Cheese Shop! We go about once a quarter, or three times a year, and it's always a fun excursion. When we get there, everyone gets to pick out a snack to share on the way home ("trading" in the car is part of the experience), and Mama buys our grain, oats, rice, etc in 25 or 50 lbs bags which normally lasts until the next time we get over.
It's also a beautiful drive (about an hour) over the mountains into the Shenandoah Valley. The Valley is full of history, and has a distinct character - just driving through tells a story. Lots of green, rolling farmland and classic farmhouses, and an over-all old-fashioned back-in-time sort of feel. There's a pretty big Mennonite population in the Valley, and it was a blessing to see the number of homes in Stuarts Draft that had Scripture verses on signs by their mailboxes - your brain has to read them whether you want to or not! :D It's a simple, but powerful witness.

“You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans. ” - Ronald Reagan

Not sure what's happening here, but it's funny. Meet Michael.

Of course, there had to be something to trigger a memory...kinda missing Carrie right now as a result. See that "$4 Lunch" sign? We've split a bunch of those, like good sisters do. <3

twin silos <3

my mountains - the Blue Ridge.

So blessed to live in such a beautiful area of the country!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

el jardín

Within an hour of arriving home from the airport, I was out in the garden with Mama picking okra and hot peppers (two vegetables that grow *unnaturally* fast) and enjoying the lovely Southern summer weather. Honestly, I had missed the humidity just a little bit…I like feeling warm all over, not just on the top of my head.

This is why you shouldn't adopt people as siblings when they aren't really and never will be - it makes saying goodbye ridiculously hard.

speaking of missing people…every time I work with hot peppers I think of the day I passed out some cayenne peppers to my table mates one evening…*memories!*

All that said, it's absolutely LOVELY to be home.

Monday, August 26, 2013

kamut bread

Currently, our family is out of wheat berries. This doesn't happen very often (three cheers for fifty pound bags multiple times a year), and we haven't had to time to go over the mountain to the Valley and get more. Ordinarily, this would mean that we just don't have homemade bread. But this time around, we happened to have Kamut on hand! It's been ages since we had this lovely bread regularly (last time I had it was probably six years ago), so we've all been enjoying the "new" taste.

Here's the recipe - the double, since that's what we make (twice a week, if we can).

Kamut Bread
yields 4 loaves

Blend together in mixing bowl in order given:
4½ cups hot water
1 cup oil
1 cup honey
4 tsp salt
6 cups Kamut flour
4½ tsp active dry yeast

then add:
6 cups Kamut flour

**the dough is always too sticky for me even after 12 cups of flour, so you can add more flour until it’s knead-able. I’ve found that a cup or two of all-purpose flour does the trick, or three additional cups of Kamut (15 total)**

Knead until smooth and elastic and resistant.

Place in lightly oiled bowl, oil top of dough lightly, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until double. Gently punch down and knead lightly.

Divide dough in half, then in half again and shape each quarter into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pans.
Let rise in a warm place until double. Cover with a towel unless placed in the oven to rise.

Bake at 350* for 35-45 minutes until done.

Turn loaves out on sides to cool on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

hey, it's good to be back home again.

I love…
- sweet tea
- humidity. I love feeling warm all-around, not just on the top of my head.
- driving
- southern accents
- organizing my desk
- dancing to show tunes
- spending time with my Mama
- seeing my church family and catching up with life
- planning this next school year with Mama
- okra
- fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden
- HOT PEPPERS galore

But that last item keeps reminding me of certain folks, transitioning nicely into the next section of this post...

I miss…
- walking to breakfast
- serving lunch
- guessing what message Eric is going to give
- voting on aforementioned message
- chapel in the morning
- stunning sunsets behind the mountains
- seeing everyone's beautiful smiling faces everyday
- dodging sprinklers
- "Wasn't that good?"
- Ellerslie humor ^

It's been a bit of a "culture shock". I wake up in the morning and think I'm at Ellerslie, and then have to remind myself constantly that I'm home. This evening I was cleaning my room and needed the vacuum. My first thought was, "I hope the guys are done with it." Sorry, dear, you're not at Ellerslie anymore. Or turning the shower on and off - which is highly amusing to everyone else.

But Jesus has been so faithful this week, and I can truly say that I am thrilled, overwhelmed, and so happy to be home. This is clearly where He wants me, and the safest, most joyful place in the world is smack-dab in the center of His will.

I was also blessed to find pictures of the rose that the young men of my semester "gave" me at graduation. The Flaming Peace Rose - a symbol of Spirited Charity.

Yes, I miss Ellerslie, and probably will continue to do so even in the months to come, but I'm content to be right here, right now.

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High 
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
- Psalm 91:1

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

in love…with Jesus?

A sweet lady tonight commented that I looked different.

In fact, she wasn't the only one. Besides quite a few members of my church family, some random lady at Michael's today said something to same effect...except she didn't know me…so yeah.

Yes, it was slightly awkward, but something about my face and my eyes caused her to comment that I looked different (I guess I looked unusually happy or something), and her immediate question was "had I met a guy out in Colorado?" She even took my hands in hers, turned them over looking for a ring. Haha…cute, right?...except I actually do wear my purity on my left ring finger, and she had never seen it before. Thankfully I was able to explain quickly enough not to draw attention to myself. *chuckle*

But I couldn't stop thinking about it.

In a way, this dear lady was correct.

I did meet a Guy in Colorado.

Well, "meet" in a general sense of the word, because I actually knew Him already….but I really got to KNOW Him in Colorado.
Well, "know" in a general sense of the word, since I'm going to spend the rest of my life getting to know this amazing Person better daily….and I still will be just scratching the surface of all He is.

If I look like I'm in love, and people think that, and it's because of Jesus…then halleluyah! Because that's what happened to me this summer: I found Him Whom my soul loves, and I'm holding onto Him and will not let Him go. And if I can tell that love story without even opening my mouth, then He truly has a hold on my heart.

I love you, Jesus.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

the beginning.

Well, folks. So ends the saga of my basic semester at Ellerslie. It's honestly hard to believe that nine weeks flew by so quickly.

Tomorrow is graduation - and Monday is send-off day. I have a lot of goodbyes coming up, and I don't like goodbyes. These ladies and gentlemen that I have been with this summer have become so dear to me in so many ways. You could say that in a way, we've grown up together. We came into this semester in various stages of spiritual growth and maturity (or lack thereof) and over the past weeks have wrestled and prayed and cried and encouraged and grown together into a tight group of believers with one single focus - the glory of Jesus Christ.

Our final session, our final morning worship with Ben, our final everything it seems was on Friday. It was pretty emotional, and when we all stood in one giant circle around the room as one family and sang "It Is Well With My Soul"…it was rather hard to hold composure.

But even though these goodbyes are going to wrench my heart, there's something beautiful about being launched. We're all leaving to go home to incredibly different families, situations and lives. We could feel incredibly alone, separated by so many miles, even oceans. And yet, we have the same Jesus. And…this is the crowning truth:

Jesus is going with us.

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." - Joshua 1:9
I'm not going to be alone. This isn't the end of the journey. Rather, it is a glorious beginning of an adventure of a life time - a life with Jesus. He loves me with an everlasting, steadfast love - He will be faithful to complete the good work He has begun in me. In fact, my spiritual life isn't going to plateau after I leave…it's going to GROW. These *next* nine weeks have the potential to be the best nine weeks of my life to date.

So, yes, being the emotional girl that I am, I'm going to cry tomorrow, and definitely on Monday. But not because I'm afraid, or alone, or hopeless, only because I'm sad to be leaving this sacred fellowship. I'm actually ridiculously excited.

I'm feeling a little bit like Lucy at the end of The Last Battle.
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” - C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Thursday, August 15, 2013

the tapestry poem

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

~ Corrie Ten Boom

Sunday, August 11, 2013

hoedown….ellerslie style.