Wednesday, January 29, 2014

a happy definition.

“What I like doing best is Nothing."

"How do you do Nothing," asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.

"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it. It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."

"Oh!" said Pooh.”

Friday, January 24, 2014


This is something I've been wrestling with for almost a year now. What and where is home? Being a very family oriented person, with deep loyalty to those I hold dear, I surprised myself this summer by not really missing home as much as I thought I would while I was in Colorado. Coming home, I missed Ellerslie, but within weeks, I was once again settled back in. And more and more, I realized I considered Ellerslie to be my home as well.

And then there's this business of growing up and moving on in life, and the ideas swirling through my brain of what I might be doing in a year, or even six months, and how the people I talk to say things like, "Don't talk about leaving!" or "We'll miss you!" or "You could just…do something here…" and in my heart, I know I will miss them, but the prospect of what happens when you're on an adventure with Jesus is too exciting.

If this was all purely mental, it would be easier to philosophize about and move on, but even this move - from the house and farm and area I loved to this new place that yes, is more convenient to town, but doesn't have a hold on my heart, has cut ties I had to this idea of "home."

So now I've been asking myself, "Liza, where is your home? For real?"

Last night, I had two wonderful Jesus conversations - one via Skype with my sunflower girl, Alyse, and one via phone with my best friend and sister and kindred spirit and member of the race that knows Joseph, Kate.

During the latter, Kate and I discussed rather extensively, this feeling of home. She's been working through the same thoughts, just in slightly different context, with different terminology. But she'd discovered something, through a series of events only Jesus could've aligned, that I had yet to get a grasp on.

So, last night, as I lay curled up in my bed, under my fleece blanket (recently returned to me after I left the poor dear in SC), with the phone tucked under my ear, I heard a phrase that filled me with instant peace. It was just plain, pure truth - it hit the nail on the head, brought into focus the blurry thoughts of my heart, and cleared the fog. It was simply, profoundly this:

"Home is where God is."

Home is where God is.

It's not a state. It's not people. It's not a house - even though it can be all those things, and that's good too. But for the restless, wandering soul, the comfort and joy and coziness of home is truly found in our Father. 

That's why my house in Charlottesville is home. Jesus is here.
That's why my church is home. Jesus is there.
That's why Ellerslie is home. Jesus is there.
That's why being with my dear friends and siblings in Christ is home. Jesus is there.
That's why I can ride out to meet the morning of this next phase of my life with excitement. Jesus is going with me.

Wherever He is, that's Home.
"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." - Philippians 3:20-21

Monday, January 20, 2014

"lift me up and lead me to the garden where life begins anew…."

Last night was rehearsal night for The Secret Garden. We've been at this for three weeks now - each rehearsal more intense than the one before. For those of y'all who aren't familiar with The Secret Garden musical, it's the same story as the classic children's book - it focuses a little more on the adults in the story than the book does, but it's still the same message.

We're doing the Broadway show - it was written in the early 90s and ran for a couple years in New York City. The music is the most challenging I've encountered yet, and it's been quite an experience for all of us so far.

To be honest, the first time I heard the soundtrack, I thought, "This is weird. This is not pretty." But the third time through, this little gem of a show began to grow on me, and now I'm pretty much in love with it. It's a score like no other, and has a magical lilt to it - almost ethereal. The show is sung-through, which means very little talking and mostly singing - and much of the singing is almost counterpoint, which is fun, beautiful, and really hard. *smile*

For my theatre-loving friends who are interested - here are some songs to listen to/skim through (the parenthesis are my favorite parts) to get a feel for this forgotten treasure: "I Heard Someone Crying" - Mary, Lily, Archie (1:50 - when the trio starts) // "Show Me the Key" - Dickon, Mary (all of it! beautiful lilt - this one was magic during rehearsal) // "Wick" - Dickon and Mary (start 2:00 till end - this song is so beautiful it makes me cry from joy - no joke) // "Come to My Garden/Lift Me Up" - Lily and Colin (start 1:47) // "Lily's Eyes" - Archie and Neville (3:07 - the key change - ahhh!) // "Winter's on the Wing" - Dickon (1:00 to 1:22 ish, 2:00 to the end) // AHHH! Just listen to the whole show. There are so many songs I haven't mentioned….*sigh*

Our part of the ensemble has been dubbed by the "Adult Deceased Ensemble" - morbidly amusing, to say the least. The gist is we're the ghosts of the past, narrating the story, setting the scenes through song and symbolsm. It isn't the most….shall we say, theologically sound musical in the world…*cough* But I guess it's whatever you make it, and ghosts don't have to be actual spirits…your life can come back to haunt you, and this story is about letting go and moving on….so I just look at symbolism and try to ignore my ghostly tendencies. *oooohhhh* *cough*

When our group was dismissed (after a good amount of time "ahhh"ing up and down the scale pretending to be a wutherin' moor), Abbey and I hung around and sat on the wooden step pieces with Carrie for a while, just to listen to some remaining cast members (namely Archie, Craven, and Dickon) run over a few solo/duet pieces. Our cast is wonderfully talented, and just sitting back and listening to them sing…*sigh* It's the real deal, peoples - these guys are awesome. "Stoop, and feel it/Stop and hear it…"

Just one of those evenings where I say to myself, "Liza, this is why you're still doing theatre." 

And if you just so happen to be free…come see us :) The shows are
March 7, 8, 9, 13, 14,  and 15

I'm only in the final three (due to my little African expedition - eek!), but you're welcome to show up at any of them, even though I'd love to see you… :)

"Come to my garden/Rest there in my arms/There I'll see you safely grown/And on your way…Lift me up and lead me to the garden/Where life begins anew/There I'll find you and I'll find you love me too…." - Come to My Garden/Lift Me Up, Lily and Colin

Saturday, January 18, 2014

in which it is shown that 40 hours is not enough time but you CAN make every minute count

Last weekend, I saw Carrie.

That statement itself is sufficient to describe the weekend, but since y'all might want some more information, I'll elaborate. You're welcome.

I'll admit, it was little weird seeing my dear friend in her "native environment", but it was also glorious fun. Long hugs, that unreal air of "Wow, I haven't seen you in forever but some how it doesn't seem very long and wait, am I ACTUALLY IN YOUR HOUSE???", and those cheerful, but slightly awkward pauses that come when the majority of two families are meeting for the first time. But that dissolved quickly when we sat down at a table set for seventeen for a delicious supper. As Mr. Mike put it, there's a such a sweet blessing about sharing a meal together - and all our meals at their lovely farmhouse were just that.
every meal was incredible - thank you for all the time and effort you put into serving us, Miss Kathy!

My sisters say I talked too much that first night. While I wish I could deny it, it's most likely true and tends to be my natural course of action when I'm excited about something…or nervous, but I don't remember feeling the latter emotion. I don't even remember much of what I said, except that we talked about Ellerslie (of course!) and probably theatre (*sheepish grin*) and I can't remember if that was the night we talked about hot peppers or not…but it doesn't matter. I just remember sitting by Carrie and being so ridiculously happy that we were together again.

And so began a whirlwind 40 hours of sweet fellowship with a family that is so much like us that it's uncanny, and yet both our families come from so completely different backgrounds that except for the Lord, we never would've met them. 

I think we (or maybe only me, I don't know, ask them :P) mostly just talked that whole first evening. About eight of us older ones stayed around the table so long that the younger children had gone to bed by the time we got up to umm…..clear our spots? Oops. Hehe.

Friday started out with us watching old videos of us (for real, us, the Morales children) on our old video channel - msistersproductions aka the homeschool channel. It was actually more funny than embarrassing. Little glimpse into early Morales life! :) We also got to see some of Travis and Landon's videos - theirs are more recent (better quality too) :)

Then the girls and guys struck out in two separate groups to explore Abbeville and the surrounding countryside. The guys went to the fireplace factory - which, I might add, my brothers are *still* talking about, so it must've been really cool. We ladies began an exploration of the various local artisan and antique shops - not really looking to buy, more just to browse and find little interesting things and make memories. Like the soaps that smelled exactly like their labels - ex. Salted Caramel Popcorn, Freshly Cut Grass, Fresh Earth (dirt, basically), Citrus Hot Pepper, etc. 

We ended up at a thrift shop and I actually did find a skirt, a nice memento of a fun day.
no, this is not my skirt.

Both groups met up later at the coffee shop and promptly took over most of the establishment. Much coffee and chocolate was consumed by all - as evidenced by the happy faces.

I didn't know what drink to order, so I just asked Carrie what she normally gets, 'cause ten to one I'd like it too. As a result, I ended up with a white chocolate gingerbread steamer - new and fun!

After our delightful sugary break, we trooped down the block en masse to the old post office/library/now-being-converted-into-a-youth-center building and explored.

The door to the attic was…hard to reach, so getting up there was an adventure in itself.

Catherine and Harmony climbed through a tunnel and found another room in the attic…
we (briefly) stepped into the extremely outdated and rather out-of-order bathroom in said attic which sported two solid marble showers, as well various other oddities. I didn't take pictures of that...

my brothers and Harmony played some kind of tag/chase game with the rolling office chairs...we climbed up and down flights and flights of steep iron staircases, all the while commenting on what an incredible movie set the entire building would make...

Outside, the rain had started again a little bit - the whole day was pretty wet, but we made the most of it. As our family likes to say, "Rain makes memories!" (back to my photos again)

Following the explore, the van went home with the guys and Caroline and Harmony, and the rest of us girls continued to a few more shops before we followed them.

most of Abbeville was in a state of denial that Christmas was actually over….we didn't mind :)

"We're going to South Carolina! FLIP FLOP TIME!!!"  - Catherine Morales

The effects of chocolate on a certain sister of mine.

Carrie liked the moss. So I took a picture of it.

Friday evening, Carrie's oldest sister and her precious family came over for supper, bringing the gathering to a grand total of twenty-two. If seeing Carrie again in her home setting was unreal, meeting my "prayer baby", her little nephew, was even more so. So thankful to hold that little boy for the first time and rejoice at God's perfect plan for life :)

Susannah was thrilled to have little people her age around, and a rather hilarious game of Doctor went on for quite a long time upstairs. I think Harmony got more than her fair share of check-ups, though. :)

The evening rounded out with more chocolate and sugar, plus a two-and-a-half hour game of "Prince of Wales", followed by "Crossed, Uncrossed."
did I mention how incredible all the food was? *yumm*

We stayed up till the wee hours of the morning watching clips from Brayden and Tali's wedding video, some played Dutch Blitz, and we talked about random things until the unanimous decision was made to call it a night around 1:30am.

The next morning, we sort of lolly-gagged our way through our pancake breakfast and packing up - I don't think any of us wanted to leave. We almost didn't, since a tornado watch came up for the county and we ended up driving home in a red and orange rainstorm and stretched from New Orleans to New York. But eventually we tore ourselves away, but not after singing Multi Ani Traiasca (the Romanian happy birthday song) to Harmony in honor of her golden birthday. :)

And so ended our gloriously fun, yet all-too-short weekend. It was a such a sweet, blessed time - we are so thankful Mr. Mike and Miss Kathy and their family's generous hospitality; and the wholehearted fellowship with likeminded sisters and brothers in Christ was truly priceless.

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
- 1 Thess. 5:11

 "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
- Hebrews 10:24-25

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."
- Matthew 18:20

Thursday, January 2, 2014

25 Things I've Learned This Week:

1. Never. Ever. EVER. underestimate the amount of stuff a family of ten can accumulate over a four-and-a-half year period.

2. Pizza is always a good idea…even the third night in a row. *cough* *gag* *snort* *swallow*

3. If the moving truck can't drive over 35 miles an hour on the bypass, there's probably something wrong.

4. If said moving truck's transmission goes out, you CAN get it towed to your destination. Note: the moving van + tow truck combo could very well be over 100 ft long.

5. You can never have too many strong guy friends to help carry your furniture.

6. Our friends and extended family are the best in the world - we COULD NOT have moved without them.

7. There is no such thing as too much peppermint.

8. If you move three days after Christmas, you will not have much of a holiday. Just so you know.

9. Chickens CAN be moved IN THEIR COOP….if all the doors are securely latched.

10. Food options are slim pickings when it takes you five days to move. Our diet consisted of pizza, danish butter cookies, oreos, more pizza, cinnamon toast, bagels, more and more pizza, clementines, even more pizza, cheese and crackers, apples and peanut butter, still more pizza….etc.

11. Nothing a little animated Disney can't fix if you're under ten years old. Or older. Depends.

12. I think Josh and Susannah can quote Mulan, Mulan II, The Lion King, and 101 Dalmations in their entirety in their sleep.

13. The more pianos you have, the happier your friends will be to help you move them. *cough* Right?

14. Your forearms WILL be sore. For days.

15. Lifts on the back of moving trucks are too much fun for anyone's good.

16. Cats don't like to be duct taped into cardboard boxes. But then, who would? Don't worry, they've been freed.

17. iPhone personal hotspots will change your life.

18. Guys - take note: it takes girls a while to figure out where they want the furniture in their bedroom (especially when there's five of them sharing one room). Be ready to move the same exact piece of furniture multiple times before they're happy.

19. heated bathroom floors are the world's greatest invention.

20. It's okay for four teenagers to stay up on New Year's Eve and watch 101 Dalmations. No shame. We needed a break.

21. There's no such thing as too much peppermint. Oops, I already said that. Well, it's worth repeating.

22. Moving can do strange things to four-year-olds' brains. They go a little….nutty. Which makes life interesting if they already were.

23. You can, in fact, live without phone or internet for extended periods of time. Who knew?

24. What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger…We WILL Survive!!!

And this is the most important things our family has learned:

25.  The Lord always, always, ALWAYS provides for His children.
I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. - Psalm 27:35 ESV

Oh, and Happy New Year! Can you believe it's 2014? What happened to last year? Good grief. Guess what's happening this year?

I have no idea.

The only thing I know is that I'm turning 20. Which is old. *shivers* And I'm going to be in a wedding. Not my own, obviously, but my "big sister"'s wedding. I'm a bridesmaid. Happiness!

Anyway. Here's to more of Jesus in everything we do in the next twelve months! He's the same yesterday, today and forever! No shadow of turning, no changing!