Tuesday, October 29, 2013

fall feast

The weather last Tuesday was so lovely that I decided we were going to eat outside - you know, autumn romanticism and magazine cover inspiration. The other children humored me, so out we went! Even if it wasn't quite Martha Stewart ready, it did add a nice spin on macaroni-and-cheese and salad.

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 
Anne of Green Gables

Monday, October 28, 2013

thinking about heaven.

At the very beginning of the sermon on Sunday, Pastor Keith asked how often we as Christians think about heaven. That wasn't the main topic of the message, but it got my wheels turning. Yes, I know this world is not my home and I'm just passin' through, but how often is my mind on my Home Country...the Kingdom I was made for, where I belong? How often, instead of spending so much time on rather silly, worthless, worldly things, does my mind wander to the day when I will see Jesus face to face? Not as often as I should, I'm afraid. But the funny thing is, I find that when I do dwell on the very thought of that moment, I tear up and get all achy inside because I want it so very much.

Our very limited human imaginations tries to make a mental picture of heaven based off of the beauty we see around us here on earth. So try to think *outside* the box and visualize a Savior so astronomically more beautiful than anything we have the ability to see here - and you'll be floored. It's impossible to imagine, but yet...as the Bride of Christ, we can't help but try.

I challenge you - think about heaven. Think about Jesus. Look forward with eager, butterflies-in-your-tummy anticipation to the day when our faith shall be sight. Think on Him. Think like Him. Remember where your citizenship lies. Long for that day when we pilgrims return home.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." {Hebrews 12:1-2KJV}

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." 
{Philippians 3:20-21NKJV}

Friday, October 25, 2013

well, it's today!

Today (well, more like, "as of 11:40-something tonight"), I am officially nineteen years young. This feels like a bigger birthday in many ways, but in others, it's just another marker reminding me that time is still ticking. I love my birthday, as y'all well know, so I'm happy that today belongs to me :)

Normally I have all these profound, nostalgic memories to share on or around October 25th each year, but today, I just have a prayer on my heart.

All I want for this next year is that it would be marked by complete and utter dependence on my Eternal, Ageless God. None of my plans, desires, dreams or ideas mean anything if it's not submitted to His Will and in line with His Heart. So that's what I want for this twentieth year…to be emptied of myself and filled up with His Spirit.

Claiming this verse today:

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." {1 Corinthians 6:19-20}

Happy birthday to me! *giggle*

Monday, October 21, 2013

it's been nine weeks.

It's been nine weeks.

Nine weeks since my plane touched down in the Charlottesville Airport, marking the end of my nine-week-long adventure with Jesus in the mountains of Colorado.

I've been home for nine weeks. And I honestly can't believe it.

Some people told me, when I left Ellerslie on August 19th, that the nine weeks following would be the best nine weeks of my life. Back then, I knew they'd probably be right, but I was such an emotional wreck at the time, trying to wrench myself away from the place, people, and lifestyle I'd come to love that I didn't really believe them.

And now, here I am. At the END of those nine weeks, looking back over my shoulder to see what happened.

Not going to lie, the past forty-eight hours have been really hard. Listening to the recording of all of us singing "It is Well with my Soul" on our last day of class, flipping through my semi-completed scrapbook, reading precious emails from my sister-like friends who are still on campus, staring blankly at a calendar that those five and a half months until the square for April 13 that has Leave for Ellerslie neatly printed on it. I'm teared up and choked up right now just thinking about how much I love that place, those people. It's hard to be here without them.

In the literally gut-wrenching aches I've had thinking about Ellerslie, the true struggle lies in my heart, not in my slightly frazzled emotions. It's easy, right now, this minute, to forget what God has done. To see with illuminated eyes just how far I've come.

Because the truth is, I have changed. And it *cannot* be because of anything I've done because the old Liza really wouldn't want to have anything to do with the life I'm cheerfully living now. In the moment, it's hard to see that. Looking behind? It's staggering. Out with the old, in with the new. New goals, new desires, new dreams, new hopes, new confidence.

I couldn't see that yesterday. I was trying really hard to. Flipping through my journal, lamenting how seemingly slow I've been growing spiritually over the past nine weeks compared to my nine weeks at Ellerslie, it was *really* hard to see.

But that was because I was trying to see spiritual growth with human eyes. Ummm….sorry, Liza, it just doesn't work that way.

It wasn't until I broke down (literally and figuratively) and begged Jesus to just show what He's done for me in the past nine weeks that the veil was pulled back and I really, truly saw.

Restored and rebuilt relationships
Seeds of faith planted and watered
Hearts turned toward the needs of the helpless and vulnerable
Order and peace restored to chaos
A family becoming more united in purpose and practice
Children loved and cared for in time of need
Families ministered to
Ministry opportunities opened up
Encouragement given and received

All these blessings because of obedience. And I couldn't see it. Not on my own power. I needed Jesus. Surprise, surprise.

It's been nine weeks since my plane touched down in Charlottesville Airport, marking what I *thought*  was the end of my adventure with Jesus in the mountains of Colorado - which, in a way, it was.

But it was really the beginning of an even greater story that is just now beginning to unfold. And now, looking at this little life of mine with the eyes of my loving Jesus, I can see it.

Something aches deep in me when I think about how much I still miss my sisters and brothers and my second "home" in Colorado….but now, more than ever, I can SEE with the eyes of my heart why Jesus has me right here, right now.

It's been nine weeks, and the journey has just begun.

So, when I go back to Ellerslie, and if I meet a Basic student who is struggling with leaving, I'll probably say, "Oh, but the next nine weeks will be even better", and then smile to myself as they give that, "Yeah, right" look. It might take a while, but they'll see it too.

all photos taken by me

"But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you;...Fear not, for I am with you." 
{Isaiah 43:1-5}

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Susannah: "Matthew, make sure you're coloring in the lines."
Matthew: "I am coloring in the lines."
Matthew: "Why did you ask if I-I-WHY did you SAY that? I ALWAYS color in the lines because I'm an artist."

Friday, October 11, 2013

take my life and let it be.

When Paul said he died daily - I think he meant that he died daily. Not weekly. Not monthly. Not once in his lifetime. DAILY. In fact, knowing Paul, he could easily have said "hourly" or "moment by moment" with the exact same effect.

It's easy to say, "Lord, You take my life" and then as soon as we start to think we have idea of what His plan might be, we jump back into control and forget all about the dying part. The surrendering of our plans, our ideas, our actions to Him. The uncertainty of the unknown that comes when you let Someone else have the reins.

So I take a step back. I look at what the Lord is doing and say, "He ALONE does wondrous things" and then I have to let Him keep doing those wondrous things without interference from pesky little know-it-all me. The fact that He's stepped down into this life of mine should be enough.

Here I stand. I'm still a sinner. I'm in the Refiner's fire. I'm beginning to see what a glorious horizon is glimmering ahead, but the task at hand is to glory in the haze of the twilight between the dawn and the sunrise. It's beautiful here too, and it's even more beautiful because it's the exact spot where He wants me to be.

Here I am - rededicating this life to the Great Author. Handing back the pen with a sheepish grin as I admit I was trying to be in charge again. Oh, Jesus, how thankful I am that Your mercies are new every morning!

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose,
Every pow'r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only all for Thee.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

when His Little Feet came to Charlottesville.

Once upon a time, a girl and her dad went out to Colorado. He was there for a business trip, she was there to look at a "school" she wanted to attend in the near future.

While she was visiting the school, a team of adults from a group called "His Little Feet" - a ministry based out the same school - gave a brief orientation meeting to the students currently attending the school on how to talk to and treat the children from His Little Feet who would be arriving the next day.

They also handed out a black and white paper with photos and names of all the children on it. On that list were seven Indian children. Sadly, the staff informed the group that these children's visas had not been approved and would not be coming just yet. After that, we spent some time in prayer for those children, then moved on with the day.

That girl's heart went out to those tiny black and white photos and names - wondering if someday, she would get to meet the children face to face. For the next nine months, whenever she thought of His Little Feet, she sent up a prayer for those seven children from India.

In June, that same girl returned to the school, this time as a student. Her first question to the His Little Feet staff was "Are the Indian children here?" The answer? No. Still no visa approval.

One month into the semester, the students spent an entire morning prayer session in prayer for the Indian children of His Little Feet. The next day, the visas cleared, and the children were flown into Chicago. It would be another two weeks or so before they arrived on campus - but finally, the girl was able to meet these precious ones face to face, give them hugs, and see firsthand how amazing our God truly is.

And now, two months after my graduation from Ellerslie, my church and I had the honor, joy and privilege of hosting His Little Feet for three days, with a concert in the middle. These same Indian children who I'd first heard about and prayed for nearly a *year* ago, and thought I might never see, were in my church, in the homes of my near and dear friends, and exploring the countryside of my hometown. To God be the glory! He doesn't have to bless us like this, but He chooses to because He loves His children. 

After the concert Tuesday night, we spent the choir's free day roaming about on Carter's Mountain and Monticello. We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but, as Auntie Christa pointed out, it's educational

Uncle Josh to Zuala: "How long do you think that guy had to sit up there to make him look like that?"

Carter's Mountain doesn't normally run hayrides during the week…but they *just so happened* to be doing them for school groups that day, and offered us one as well. Luck? I think not.

Dami, Uncle Jake and Eni

Uncle Jake: "I think that truck belongs to the skeleton man."

Baby Charis joined us for some of the activities too - I can't believe how much she's grown just since August! Precious girl.

Oh, did I mention that it was rather chilly? *shivers*

Kima, David, Eni, Chhuani, Donaldson, Dami, Zuala, Vena

silly faces with Auntie Zeli

David and the Giant Pumpkin

Finding the perfect apple

Picnic lunch outside overlooking Charlottesville

Then, after some discussion and deliberation, we all piled back into the bus and went over to the next mountain - Monticello. We had to wait forty minutes for the next tour that would have enough space for our rather large group, so we watched a short movie about Thomas Jefferson and went exploring around the visitor center.

David found that if you put the spinny-light-thingy underneath the kaleidoscope, it created a pretty awesome looking color-changing creation.

Auntie Zeli drawing Eni on the blackboard. It was so much fun getting to know the tour staff as well - they're pretty special too.

Only my brother would pull on a bellows cramp and sing, "Look down, look down, don't look them in the eye…"

unlocking a secret message

Michael, Luke, Uncle Jon

Chhuani and Uncle Josh both built pretty impressive block creations

We did finally go up to the house, and the children seemed to enjoy everything they saw. From what I could gather, the main things that they came away with had to do with the picture of Salome and John the Baptist on the wall of the parlor, the pink bed where Thomas Jefferson died, and the large circular ice house under the terrace. *grin*

classic must-take Monticello shot.

tired, but still smiling as we wait for the shuttle.

I think I have more pictures of David than any other member of the choir. *chuckle*

"Auntie, look! Take picture!"

We say goodbye today, and it will be hard to see them go, but it's been a blessed three days that I won't ever forget. 

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I was thinking about the call that God has placed on His body. Adoption is not something we get to "choose" to do. It's a given. And adoption doesn't even have to be legally taking an orphan into your home and calling them yours. We can adopt God's heart for 143 million + orphans around the world, cry out for them, pray for them, and adopt them into our hearts. Yes, for some that means physically, for some it might be a call to ministry, but it's a call for all of us.

Y'all know me - you know that I spend the best hours of my day (and have for years) doing something related to children. I don't think it's a coincidence that the "Most Likely to have 20 children" label was stuck on me this summer. And ministries like His Little Feet, and our church's ministry to Merkato, Ethiopia tug at a special place in my heart that nothing else does

I may never have twenty biological or adopted children. But I don't think that's the point. It's being obedient to the call of my Lord to open my heart to the children He wants to place there - no matter what the number or where they are or who they are.

It's been a long, full week (that's not even over yet), but it's been eye-opening and who knows, maybe even life-changing for me. More barriers dissolved, more reservations removed, more of my heart opened up.

And all this….because, back in November of 2012, He planted a little seed of hope that someday I would hold these Indian children in my arms.

Isn't that just like God?