Wednesday, November 27, 2013

this one's for Aaron

Along the lines of last week's post about the Henry Owls, I have someone else to introduce to you - my little buddy Aaron.

Aaron is the younger brother of one of my theatre friends, and I'm going to state, for the record, that Aaron Vanya Nalle is one of the bravest people I know. This young man has gone through so much in his short life that it's hard to wrap my mind around - but even through his first years of life in a baby house overseas, his many surgeries for arthrogryposis, physical therapy and other challenges, God has had His all-powerful hand on Aaron's life, and has carried him on eagles' wings. I love this little guy, I love his story, and I'm excited to share this exciting news with y'all today!

In a nutshell, Aaron is an incredible artist and drew this tanker truck (<<<-----) for a contest. It won, and so for the next ten days, Aaron's truck is being featured on Paper Clouds Apparel on a variety of products, such as t-shirts, hats, and tote bags.

50% of all the profit from these products (just for the next 10 days) are being donated to Reece's Rainbow, a precious adoption organization that is a voice for the special needs children overseas who need forever families. If you don't know much about the Rainbow, I suggest you head over and read more - and while you're at it, check out the Angel Tree, another love of mine.

Especially with Thanksgiving approaching, this is a perfect time to meditating on the many, MANY ways the Lord has blessed us - and also how we can be turning around and passing those blessings onto others. The fatherless and orphan are very precious to our Lord, and as His hands and feet, any sacrifice we can make, whether it be time or money, health or comfort- is a step of obedience and shows our love not only for Christ, but for His children.

Be blessed today!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

henry owls and why they matter

All while I was growing up, one of my best friends lived in my neighborhood. She is two months older than me, the oldest of six children, homeschooled her whole life. We did choir together at co-op, swam on the same swim team for years, have attended the same churches in the past, our mamas have been friends for over fifteen years, and gone to each others' birthday parties. In my mind, we were the same.

I'm thankful I know this beautiful young lady. I'm thankful I got to walk through her heart surgery with her as a prayer warrior when we were eleven. I'm thankful for all the years I've enjoyed her friendship, her excitement as we counted down the days until my birthday so we could be the same age again. I'm thankful that for, as long as I can remember, part of my heart has belonged to a girl with Downs Syndrome.

So, it's with GREAT enthusiasm and joy that I introduce you to:

The Henry Owl.

My dear friend Kaitlin has been making these owls since the spring, donating a percentage of the proceeds to charities. But since the birth of her little brother Addison "Henry", who was born with Downs Syndrome in April, she has been donating 50% of the profit from the Henry Owls to Down Syndrome Awareness causes like the Buddy Walk.

Out of all the precious babies diagnosed with Downs Syndrome *before* birth, a staggering, heart-wrenching 90% are aborted. That's disgusting and shameful. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of these "unwanted" little ones.

But there's a happy truth - these little ones are NOT unwanted by their Maker and Creator. And as the hands and feet of Christ, we have a heavenly responsibility to these children to be their voice, to speak out on their behalf, to give them the opportunity to live.

I encourage you, go to Kaitlin's website a stitch in lives, find yourself a little owl, and be excited that when you pay for your new friend, you're also donating to the cause of these vulnerable children.

But more than that, I encourage to know your facts. Know your calling as a follower of Christ. Speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves. Maybe it means volunteering with the Buddy Walk, or being an Angel Tree Warrior for Reece's Rainbow, or maybe just talking to people about the value of every life.

You never know how the Lord will use your obedience. He may use you to save a baby's life. To give a fearfully and wonderfully made child the chance to live.

It matters what you do.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I got shots today. Two of them. Routine shots that people planning to visit a foreign country like Ethiopia generally get - hepatitis and TDAP. No big deal.

The clinic is tucked away off a main road near our downtown district. I'd never been in a non-hospital medical facility in my life…and I'm never going to be the same again.

I know that sounds melodramatic, but it's not. It changed me. For life.

I went in, and felt immediately alone. I didn't have my always-confident, super in-control Daddy, didn't have my Mama's hand to hold. I was alone. And I felt it acutely.

There was hardly anyone there except the employees, but they were super sweet despite seeming rather subdued. But once I'd been there a little while, I thought honestly, who can blame them? I was given a form to fill out, and sent to a waiting room.

It wasn't an unpleasant place, dark and gray, clean…yet lonely. But as I sat down and looked around me, I realized where I was. A waiting room. A waiting room at a public health department facility. On the tables around me were flyers and magazines, all with information that might be helpful to people waiting to see a nurse.

Almost all of it was information for girls. On their options. Options for them and their child.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

I felt even more vulnerable as I sat there in that room, the only one there, mental images of how many young girls have sat in that same room, terrified, alone, frightened, clueless. Staring at these papers on the table, wondering what the in world they are going to do.

I was there for a routine shot.
They were there to confirm their deepest fear and make the life and death decision.

My heart broke for them.

The whole time the nurse was preparing my shots, prepping me, asking me if I felt okay, I wasn't really there. If I looked pale, it wasn't because I was afraid of getting a shot. It was because I was allowing my heart to open up and find a place for these mothers - these young, scared mothers who the pro-life community has a tendency to forget. Finding a place in my aching heart for the girls my age who don't have a Daddy to protect them, or a Mama to hold their hand, and subsequently turn elsewhere for security…and end up in a gray, health department waiting room facing a life-altering decision.

I came home choked up. I'm crying right now as I relive today in my mind. Today, I caught a glimpse of the fear and anguish that this world holds, and what our culture hides.

It broke my heart, y'all. Broke it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

this is why I journal // guest post on tea and bree

{this post was written for tea and bree - see original here}

"One little girl stood out to me at the dump. I served her food with a 'buenas' and got 'gracias' in return - never asked her name, or anything. She looked about nine or ten years old, had a bright personality and a hop in her step and was wearing a High School Musical shirt. She looked, talked, and smiled just like Caroline. The thought in my mind there was How Easily She Could've Been Caroline. But my sister is home - probably at swim practice or rehearsal - wearing clean clothes, hair washed, full tummy. This girl, with the same smile and pouffy ponytail, however, is eagerly enjoying her meal of beans…a nice break from picking through the filthy trash." - July 10, 2012 // Day Four

"There was this one sweet lady whose hands and legs were crippled, her body is giving out, but she smiled at us and held out her hand to Amber. Instead of a handshake like Amber expected, she gave her the 'Nica' handshake/greeting: side high five, fist pump, thumb tap. It was so cute, so unexpected, so funny - love it. Her name is Teresita. Joy, in a dark place. Beauty from ashes. That seems to be a theme on this trip. Grace in sin. Mercy. Power. Humility. All these things. But mainly joy." - July 13, 2012 // Day Seven

"I saw something so touching out there [the train station] today it makes my eyes tear up when I think about it. There was a young lady - I thought she looked early-mid twenties, but most young people here are much younger than they look, so I really have no idea. Anyway. She was walking on the road in front of the station with an adorable baby on one hip, holding the hand of a three or four year old. They stopped as a young man in jeans and a baseball hat walked up to them. The two started talking, and during the conversation the guy was very gently, very sweetly playing with the baby. Then the girl licked her finger and reached out to wipe something off the guy's chin. They spoke another minute, then he walked away, his hand lingering on her arm, then the baby's head. I have no idea who these people are - whether they are a couple, whether that's their baby, how old they are…I don't know. But it was, to me, a beautiful little picture of life and love in the midst of such…challenging circumstances." - July 13, 2012 // Day Seventeen

These moments were captured in my little flowered notebook - a notebook now affectionately dubbed "the Nica journal." Therein lies recorded (in various colored metallic gel pens) the saga of my month in the beautiful yet broken city of Granada, Nicaragua. I'm a journaller, have been for nearly a decade. Sometimes my entries aren't the most interesting or thought provoking, but then, sometimes stories unfold in such a way that they strike a chord whenever you read them over.

These moments were such moments.

It is for these moments that I continue to journal.

I encourage you, fellow writers - journal your life. Record the stories. Record the memories. In some ways, it captures what even a photograph cannot: how you felt when the moment happened. Life slips away so fast - a journal is a time capsule that reminds you of what made your heart sing in days gone by. Journal….because life is short.


Liza is a musician, actress, and author residing in the beautiful state of Virginia. Her one desire in life is be a faithful reflection of the Savior Who won her heart, and to be His hands and feet in the world - whatever the cost and wherever that leads. She is a lover of all things beautiful, and it's the little things in life that make her smile…little things such as peppermint, candles, tea parties, ice skating, babies, plaid, summer, books, flannel, football, fuzzy socks and chocolate.

you can find her at her blog, Scraps, or on Instagram: misslizajanem

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

- no "buts" -

"Nuh-uh-uh. NO BUTS."

How many times have your parents said that to you in your life time? They give us a command, we obediently (or not so obediently) agree to execute it, then right before they turn to go, we say, "But…."

Normally we have a very valid excuse for why we are incapable of carrying out the particular task. But unfortunately, that's not normally the response our parents are looking for. If you grew up in a household like mine, you've probably been told that obedience is not just as action, it's a state of the heart. Obedience means obeying "Cheerfully, Promptly, and Thoroughly." That doesn't leave much room for "buts."

This week I've been learning this lesson all over again - this time, with my Heavenly Father. He gives us a command in Scripture, and oh, how terribly often we say, "Well, okay, I'll do this part of what You said, but…."

Right now, my entire "plan" for this entirely spontaneous season of my life is falling apart. Not….in a bad way….necessarily…..but just, it's turning out to look completely different than I thought wanted it to be. Plans are getting rearranged, time seems to be sucking away, and life is about to get pretty crazy.

In all this, I managed to lose sight of God's Big Picture and start looking at things from "down here" (insert Nathan Johnson hand gesture) instead of "up here" (insert Nathan Johnson hand gesture). I lost it one morning and just broke down, trying to figure out on my own strength how all this is going to possibly work out fine. Wandering out to the fire ring where we burn scrap paper and trash, I dropped down on a charred log and proceeded to have a pity party and feel very sorry for myself.

As I sat there in a puddle, I thought to myself (rather snarkily, I might add), "Well, look how 'incorrigibly cheerful' I'm acting right now….All that rejoicing seems to make sense when you're doing great, but when…."

Pardon me? What was that?

And that's when I recognized that whiney little word "but" had wormed its way into the conversation. Oops. I thought that'd been dealt with years ago via the rod of correction. Hmmm….apparently not.

I don't recall God ever giving an easy way out of any of His commandments. They all seem pretty straightforward. Such as this well-known gem:

"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:5-7

The commandment is to rejoice always. No room for "But, Jesus….". No room for whining, fussing, or sulking. Yes, I may not feel like rejoicing, but life isn't about doing what we feel like, is it?

I certainly wasn't feeling particularly joyful that morning, definitely wasn't leaping for joy. But I was still called to rejoice - to be thankful for this opportunity to fully rely upon the power of God. No buts.

I was alone, helpless, hopeless, miserable - and that's when it's important to turn my eyes outward and upward, and find the cheerfulness I was lacking in the Person of Christ. So I quit my griping, knelt in the ashes, and cried out for that joy that only comes from above. I felt like Christian from Pilgrim's Progress, letting that burden just roll off my back to the foot of the cross. Needless to say, I felt better.

Oh, I am so grateful for a long-suffering God! I do not, in any way, deserve His grace and patience. He is using this circumstance to put me through the wringer, expose my weaknesses, and showcase His strength. Actually, I feel like a chastened preschooler right now - giving Daddy a sniffly, contrite hug and promising to obey right away the first time from now on. *cough*

Moral of this story: when something is commanded in Scripture, obey it. Obey it cheerfully, promptly, and thoroughly. Don't make excuses of why you "can't" - look for ways that you can.

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

No buts about it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

i'll be consumed

Not what I am, O Lord, but what Thou art;
That alone can be my soul’s true rest;
Thy love, not mine, bids fear and doubt depart,
And stills the ache in my chest for Thee.

’Tis what I know of Thee, my Lord and God,
That fills my soul with peace, my lips with song;
Thou art my health, my joy, my staff, my rod;
I lean on Thee, in weakness I am strong.

Thy Name is Love! I glimpse it in the Cross;
Thy Name is Love! for there's an empty tomb.
All other loves I gladly count as loss,
And with this hope, I'll be consumed

More of Thyself, Oh, show me, hour by hour;
More of Thy glory, O my God and Lord;
More of Thyself in all Thy grace and power;
More of Thy love and truth, Incarnate Word.

Thy Name is Love! I glimpse it in the Cross;
Thy Name is Love! for there's an empty tomb.
All other loves I gladly count as loss,
And with this hope, I'll be consumed

original hymn: Horatius Bonar {1861}
this arrangment: Ben Zornes {2012}
picture from pinterest

Saturday, November 9, 2013

remember when it rained.

sometimes it's the little things in life that make you smile.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

new additions // the farm life

Caroline is now our resident-chick-hatcher, and after three weeks of patient care, we have new additions to our constantly changing flock of poultry. 

Right now we have two perky cheepers in the brooder boxes downstairs - a Barred Rock named "Pimpernel" and a black Americana named "Mr. Fernando." One chick, affectionately dubbed Little Guy for the few hours he lived, hatched a few days too early, and sadly didn't survive. There's another little one who hatched last night who is currently nameless, with a few others due to pip today or tomorrow. **edit: the chick has been dubbed "Doodly Squawk". Not joking.**

Currently, the three hatched chickies are living in the schoolroom bathroom…no, in case you were wondering, there's never a dull moment in this house. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

how I spent my birthday // Oct. 25-27, 2013

...camping out in this room

...meeting this snuggly boy for the first time

...getting a peek at the Hippie Van. Which *I* thought would be an awesome movie - you know, Fifteen Hippies Went to Town. But it got vetoed eventually. Maybe next time.

...getting a tour of the new-expanded-and-improved Wachter Farmette - chickens included.

...teaching this little lady how to be a Southern Belle

...introducing Herman/Queenie May to Fritz, Jamie and Arthur

...filming a movie in collaboration with 42 Studios (which hopefully y'all will get to see soon) drinking lots of lattes, staying up till midnight both nights, playing Broadway and improv-ish type games, watching Hello Dolly! (starring Barbra Streisand and the one and ONLY Michael Crawford), decorating and eating my Christmas Birthday cupcakes while listening to Straight No Chaser, taking a long walk through the neighborhood, and sweet fellowship with these lovely friends.

Couldn't've asked for a better weekend! Happy 19th to me :P