Wednesday, July 23, 2014

this is for you.

I've been meaning to write this down for weeks...but couldn't. I've had to keep it all bottled up inside, not really able to talk about it to anyone, and yet it's hurt. Now I finally can, and this is just my little bit, the best way I know how to say goodbye to my Theatre Bro, who I only knew for a year, but it felt like forever.

James, this post is for you.

This is for all the mysterious winks and eye-rolls as we plowed through Secret Garden music all those late nights in MaryAnne's basement.

This for your incredible baritone that blew everyone away at Oklahoma! casting.

This is for your one liners that made it ridiculously hard to keep a straight face...because we were on *stage*, for crying out loud and you kept making us laugh.

This is for those moments waiting stage right for the next scene and the way you would imitate what was going on onstage - often singing both parts at once, since you're cool like that.

This is for your love for Superman that anyone who knew you any length of time could hardly miss.

This is for your love for Kim, and her whole family, that endeared you to us so immediately. You truly treasured her, and we were all so excited for you both.

This is for the way you became such a perfect, natural part of the Black Box family in so little time. What did we do before you came?

This is for your gentle way with children - honestly, one of the most attractive things about you. They all loved you, climbed over you, pulled on you, felt comfortable with you. A true gift.

This is for all those who loved you and knew you and will miss you forever.

This is for your life. Your short, but oh-so-impactful life that left a James-size hole in all of ours when you left.

I'm so thankful I decided to come back inside, in the *rain* to make sure I said goodbye to you and a few others after our final Secret Garden performance. I didn't know it would be forever, but I'm glad I have that moment.

James, this is for you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

diy summer pedicure

I was contacted by Abbey from Julep last week, inviting me to create my own perfect DIY summer pedicure. Of course I was excited and inspired! My sisters and I love doing our nails, and during the summer, when we're at the pool all the time and the chlorine strips our nail polish off after just a couple days, we do them pretty often.

For a real, at-home pedicure, I always start by clipping and filing my nails, and softening them up with a little foot bath. Since we are at the pool daily, and I rarely wear shoes anyway, my feet are pretty calloused, so I didn't bother trying to make the soles of my feet super that for the cooler seasons. *chuckle*

Anyway, onto the polish!

We have a rather extensive, if slightly motly-looking, selection of nail polish in our collection. We've gathered from every brand imaginable, and have pretty much every color under the sun. Too many choices can be just as hard to work with sometimes! But I found my favorites and got to work.

I have no fancy nail decor tools, so when I want to make polka dots, I use the head of a straight pin. It's a little harder to control the size sometimes, but it makes for a unique, no-two-dots-alike look that I find fun and sort of like my own personality. (there, Kate, definitely my bohemian streak coming out :P)

Top coat! Maybe it'll last a little longer than normal....maybe.

I did my fingernails to match, just for fun, but a little more on the subtle side. Just one flower per hand, and no blue *grin*

Thanks, Julep, for the inspiration and incentive to do something pretty with my nails this week! Check out their shop for some fantastic nail polish colors and products.

What are some of your favorite summer nail polish colors/styles? And those of y'all who swim all summer, any tips for keeping nail polish on in chlorine?

Friday, July 18, 2014

you know you're a swim team family when..., your siblings, and subsequently your clothes, bed, room, house, etc. all smell of chlorine and sunscreen around the supper table is usually mostly discussion of everyone's times, our chances at winning the next meet, and some story about something the New Coaches did at practice today

...the biggest breaking news every week is WHO IS ON THE RELAY??? Or, once that's known, what *order* are they going in...and is it the medley or free relays this week anyway? are in an ongoing, never ceasing battle against The Tans - the most notorious being the Shorts Tan, the Strap Tan and the Sunglasses Tan. Also coming up, often by ambush, the guerrilla warriors of the Flip-Flop Tan and the Tshirt/Coverup Neckline Tan. And less of a problem, but still in consideration, you have the Ring and Watch/Bracelet Tans - gotta keep tabs on those too! Boys have to deal with the Jammers Tan...but for some reason, no one cares about that one. Whatever.

...days are not measured by how many hours you spend at the pool, but how many hours you DON'T.

...all that's needed in life can be found in the cooler, the pool bag or Mama's purse.

...speaking of coolers....unloading those things after a swim meet is the....less glamorous side of this sport... basically live by these four Pool Rules: (stole these from our friends the K's, by the way)
1. Be a Light
2. Do Your Best
3. Wear Your Flip-flops in the Bathroom
4. Don't Lose Your Stuff

...keeping the beach towels dry and folded and ready for tomorrow is a full-time, on-the-list, honest-to-goodness CHORE. can't remember the last time everyone ate breakfast together, since the Early Morning Practice folks leave, well, early and everyone else just pushes wake-up time till the last possible minute

...your ten-year-old brother walks into the kitchen after practice one afternoon with a dejected look on his face, and when you ask him whats wrong, he lifts doleful eyes and says in a mournful tone, "I am doomed to a life of shame." Well, good gracious, why is that, buddy?! "I have to swim fifty butterfly in the meet and I am going to drown." That would do it. Sorry, dude.

...half of the family is partially deaf at any given point due to perpetual outbreaks of swimmer's ear forget what it's like wear "normal clothes", and what you even look like in them. Crazy life.

...your hair is in a constant state of dampness

...the first question asked when you get back from morning practice and everyone's settling down for Mandatory Rest Time is, "Who's going to afternoon practice? Who's driving?"

...everyone drags themselves around the house in exhaustion in the evening, often crashing around 9pm, and no one thinks twice about it're playing musical cars every day depending on who's going to which practice, who's coaching in the afternoon and who's too sick with whatever random virus is going around to go at all suddenly don't hardly seen ANY of your "normal" friends for weeks at a time, and start wondering whether you ever had any, since your Swim Team Family always gets so close over the course of two months and nearly all of your activities (even some non-swim-team-related ones) involve them....and yet you know you probably will hardly see them at all during the year, until next summer :)

...your life is ordered around the swim team calendar, and about two weeks before Champs you start to realize that pretty soon, you'll have *every day free*...and the thought is a little scary.

...Champs. Need I say more?

...when you're going, going, going all day and are tired more often then not, but everyone (even Mama) enjoys it because it's summer time in the South and it's swim team, and honestly, there's not much else we'd rather be doing :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

takes one to know one {moments of humanity}

It was a day in early April, and I was on top of the world. Rolling my Little Blue Monogrammed Suitcase through the Charlotte-Douglas Airport, my teddy bear perched on my luggage, a song in my heart, on my way to Colorado. I had also just come off a wonderful final few days with my family, during which my Dad, sisters and friends went to see Captain America 2 - the best of the movies to grace theatre screens this year, imho. In other words, I was happy. And perky. And feeling a little nutty.

So you know those thingys that are like escalators but they're flat and just help you walk faster that they have at airports? There's usually a sign above them that says, "Stand to the right, walk to the left." Most of the time I just stand and "rest", but that day I was feeling chipper and didn't want to stop, so I Walked to the Left.

Well, there was this guy ahead of me, sort of the tall, muscular athletic type with braids (not dreads) past his shoulders, looked like a nice guy - sort of reminded me of home and the South and football season and all that good stuff - who was Standing to the Right. And I'm not sure what put this idea into my head, but he was wearing some kind of superhero t-shirt...maybe Captain America? *grin*


So I'm coming up behind him and I get this crazy-awesome idea and I grin to myself as I walk past and I say,

"On your left."

I felt him turn as I passed, and I turned my head over my shoulder and kinda did that head-nod thing (you know, sorta jerk your chin up a little with a little grin) and kept going, and heard him laugh behind me.

Us Captain 'Merica fans know each other - no doubt about it *grin*

Friday, July 11, 2014

center stage

I remember one day during my Advanced semester at Ellerslie, I came into my room and burst out to my dear roommate, Elly: "I'm SO afraid!" *awkward pause* "I'm so afraid that someday, something or someone is going to come between me and Jesus. And I love Him SO MUCH right now, and I'm growing in leaps and bounds and He is so altogether lovely and worthy to me....what if that changes?! How horrible would that be!?" We talked it out for a while, acknowledging that there are times in a Christian's life of immense growth, but other times when it's more subtle and slow, and our Advanced semester was definitely the former. But yet, even in a time of slower growth in Christ, our focus should not waver from our Beloved.
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." - Hebrews 12:1-3
It's been the cry of my heart for months, almost years now - in an aggressive, offensive type way. Nothing makes my heart ache more than the thought that something in this world could take my eyes away from Jesus Christ. It's happened before, and I love Him so much....and He loves me even more than that....the thought of doing something that grieves or hurts Him is pretty gut-wrenching. And oh, how many times I fail Him! How many times I stick a toe in the world, "It's not *that* bad...." and open the door to temptation.
"No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." - 2 Timothy 2:4
But yet, the beauty of all this is that He actually, truly loves me. ME. Liza. Little old me. And He waits oh, so patiently for His wandering little girl to turn and repent, prodding me as the loving Shepherd that He is and pursuing me with the love and energy of a Bridegroom. And He's there, with open arms, ready for me when I repent, ready to start over with a clean slate, loving me all the time.
"My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." - 1 John 2:1-2
What a picture! What love! What freedom! Not freedom to sin, but freedom to LIVE. Freedom to love. Freedom to rejoice in who I am in Him, not who I am in the eyes of the world. He's given us this beautiful world in live in, talents to use to glorify His name, hands and feet, tongue and mind to serve and point others to Himself - and heart that is ever growing in capacity to love Him and the people He created.

Every time I "consider Him", I love Him more. And it's a matter of keeping my focus on Him that will keep me from distractions. The more I'm saturated in Jesus, the less I'll care about the things of this world. There have been times in my life where I've wanted to just throw honor and care to the wind and just do what the world does, just once! Just for a little while! It's just *too hard* to be like Jesus *all the time*! But then I look at Him again....and those "desirable" things look pretty rotten next to His beautiful holiness. Oh, turn your eyes upon Jesus! Look FULL in His wonderful face! And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." - 1 John 2:15-16
We go through seasons. We mature and change. We go through peaks and valleys in life, and our angle on Christ broadens. But He stays the same. Holy, holy, holy. Other than, other than, other than. Right now, I'm in a season where I can pursue Him with undivided attention - minimal responsibility, and not much on my plate. That's not going to last forever. But I can work and strive to build a foundation now that will last through the harder times - if I'm not focused on Christ now, why should I expect to focus on Him when distractions and responsibilities double or triple?
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." - 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
I've had to go through difficult times in my relationships with people here on earth - asking hard clarifying questions, repenting, and letting go...once it even took fourteen months for a friendship to be restored, but if I am so willing and eager to make things right with my beloved brothers and sisters here on earth, how much MORE should I be pursuing a deeper and more pure relationship with Jesus?! It's a convicting and thought-provoking question to ask yourself.

I don't want anything to come between me and my Jesus. Nothing, no one. Like any relationship, it takes work, time and energy....but like any relationship that is founded on Rock, it grows sweeter, richer and deeper with time.

Whatever it takes, I'm willing to go that far and beyond to keep Him center stage. It won't be easy, but it's beautiful and eternally worth it. Always.

photos taken by me of the beautiful double rainbow (you can barely see it in the photos) over our house this week.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

summer memories. {age seven}

independence day ice cream at the beach // july 4. 2002

One summer, when I was seven, we spent the week of the Fourth at our friends' grandparents' beach house in North Carolina. The day itself consisted of a show (directed by Peter and I) that the four of us girls and their two boys put on for the adults, and then drumsticks out on the porch afterwards. I don't remember a whole lot, except that Catherine and Tyler had one real part, and that was running across our "stage" shouting "Victory!" and "Hurray!", and we hand-wrote the programs (which we all know are most important part of a show) on notebook paper, and that we had some kind of dried bananas or something for Intermission.

During the trip, we also visited a shrimp processing dock, and for the first time, this little southern girl saw with her own eyes that shrimp are *not* in fact, orange, when they come out of the water. And they have legs and heads and tails and eye balls....who knew, right? I also used a vending machine for the first time in my life - pretty sure I got a Sprite or Mountain Dew...something in a green-ish-yellow-ish can. On the days we spent at the beach, we would catch these itty-bitty little crabs and race them across the sand. They had a sailboat too...I'm pretty sure we sailed in it....but we may have just climbed into it and pretended. *grin* We had Fruit Loops for breakfast, and one night we had Flounder...which I had trouble eating at first, due to my affection for the little blue and yellow stripy fish most of us associate with the name. *chuckle*

Oh, and we also started out the trip with the stomach bug, which we passed on to them by the end of the week, but we pretend that part didn't happen. *cough*

Anyway....just random summer memories...all from running across a picture in a scrapbook. *grin* It's the little things, folks.

Monday, July 7, 2014

you two

"What makes the battle worth the fighting?
What makes the mountain worth the climb?
What makes the questions worth the asking?
The reason worth the rhyme?

To me the answer's clear;
it's having someone near...
....someone dear

Someone to care for; to be there for,
I have you two!
Someone to do for; muddle through for,
I have you two!

Someone to share joy or despair with;
whichever betides you.
Life becomes a chore, unless you're living for
someone to tend to be a friend to.
I have You Two!
Someone to strive for, do or die for
I have You Two!

Could be, we three get along so famously,
'cause you two have me, and I have You Two too!

Someone to care for; to be there for.
I have You Two!

Someone to do for; muddle through for
I have You Two!
Someone to smile once in awhile with;
whenever you're lonesome
we're a happy lot,
considering what we've got!

But, I couldn't do more
Than you do for your poor Father Sister *wink*
Things go asunder
and I wonder why you bother.

Could be, we three get along so famously 'cause...

....we two have you...

and I have you two...


Sunday, July 6, 2014

My Not-So-Baby Baby

Five years ago today, I watched with tears in my eyes and complete awe in my soul as my baby sister took her first breath and entered this world.

It's a day I will never forget. I knew, at age fourteen, that I was always going to be a grown-up to this little girl, but I wanted to have a sister relationship with her, without that canyon that large age gaps often create. That's why I wanted to be there when she was born - I wanted that bond with her that nothing can break.

She came into our world and has rocked it the core in so many wonderful ways. She adds such a sparkle, spunk and attitude to our lives. I have no idea what our household would be without her. Definitely less....exciting :) *chuckle* She is a character, a piece of work, a card, a ham, a handful, etc. etc. etc. and sometimes we don't know quite what to do with her...But she's OUR handful and we love the stuffing out her crazy little self!

She's a precious gift, a ray of light, an incredible blessing. 

Susannah, it's been five years today since I held you in that delivery room when you were only ten minutes old. Ever since that day, you've been my girl, and what a JOY you have been! I love you to the moon and back, and you'll forever be my Zanna Baby....even now that you're all grown up and five years old.

I love you!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

the struggle for affirmation

Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Things that affect you, affect others around you, but were unintentional. Sometimes those things are frustrating, embarrassing and awkward. Misunderstandings and confusion abound. You spend days wondering if you're really truly a horrible person and everything you thought you were doing well is really just you deceiving yourself. And sometimes, simply, other people overreact and you aren't really sure why.

This has happened to me on a large scale maybe about five times in my life, and multiple times on a smaller, less serious level. Every time, I spend several days or even weeks questioning myself and fighting incredible insecurities from my past - slashing open old wounds and painful blunders and wondering if I ever even changed at all.

In times like these, I crave affirmation. Any kind. Tell me I'm pretty, tell me I write well, tell me I'm honest, tell me you love me, tell me I'm great with kids, tell me you see God working in me, ask me out to coffee, ANYTHING - I'll take it! Sometimes I even start fishing for it (then you *know* I'm a mess :P) because I need to feel like I'm okay, and people in this world actually like me and want to be around me. I work myself like crazy, doing extra stuff around the house, or volunteering and serving other people in an attempt to feel productive and useful to someone, anyone, pleeeeeease!

For most of my life I assumed that people hung out with me because I forced them too - and that if I didn't reach out, no one would reach out to me. And at certain points in time, that has actually been true. Believe it or not, I've never been what anyone anywhere would call "popular." So I continued to throw myself into every activity I was in, participate in everything I could, and extrovert myself as much as possible so that maybe, someday, someone would want to hang out with me - on. their. own.

Frankly, it's embarrassing.

But it's part of my story.

It's even an "official" part of my personality type (ENFP). Check this out:

"Most ENFPs have great people skills. They are genuinely warm and interested in people, and place great importance on their inter-personal relationships. ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked. Sometimes, especially at a younger age, an ENFP will tend to be "gushy" and insincere, and generally "overdo" in an effort to win acceptance. However, once an ENFP has learned to balance their need to be true to themselves with their need for acceptance, they excel at bringing out the best in others, and are typically well-liked. They have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level."

Not that that's an excuse for anything. Just interesting to note.

I'm sharing this for a reason, and it's not to throw a pity party or get attention or vent. It's to encourage you. I think, deep down, most of us struggle with this exact same problem - this overwhelming need to be affirmed, to be liked, to be sought-out. It might manifest itself different ways, and because I'm such a dramatic, artless, genuine person, it's really hard for me to conceal what's going on inside. For the most part, what you see is what you get with me.

This time around, the struggle has been more towards the Lord. A desire to know from HIM whether we're still good. Because in my heart, I know this doesn't affect anything. His love, His grace, His mercy doesn't change no matter what. When I'm weighed down to the ground, broken under the weight of condemnation, it's not from the Lord. It's not from His Spirit. Yet, in that posture, at the end of myself, prostrate, I can see HIM better. And oh, how true those words ring out straight from the voice of Jesus:

"Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." - Matthew 11

He reveals the condemnation for what it is, encourages me in the purity of my heart, and lifts my chin up out of the dust and fills my soul with hope. He says, "It's okay. We all make mistakes, but you'll be better because of it. I still love you - and nothing will change that. You don't need anyone to tell you you're special, because you're MINE, and that's about as special as it gets. Trust Me. Rest in Me. I'm working this for your good. This is just a step along the way - the beginning of something better. Shake it off! Let's keep going - there's better things ahead."

I'd be the first to raise my hand and say I've done some super dumb things in my life. But I immediately afterwards, I will jump on a chair and shout from the rooftops that I have a God Who is bigger than the boogie man, Godzilla or the monsters on TV and He's actively at work in my life to make me more like Jesus - and nothing can get in the way of that, and nothing formed against me will stand! He does great things *in spite* of me.

Honestly, if God can do something, anything for me, of all people, than He can do it for you. So don't listen when the enemy tells you your mistakes ruin everything, that you're worthless, or that no one likes you. Because it's a lie. "When all around my soul gives way, He then is ALL my hope and stay!"

Brothers and sisters,
Our worth is found in Christ ALONE. 

The only affirmation worth having is "Well done, good and faithful servant."

He is enough.