Monday, November 30, 2015

a thrill of hope

we're entering the beautiful, precious season of advent. It's extra special to me this year, and I know that Jesus has some very specific things He wants me to know as this season unfolds. 

It's a beautiful season of waiting, of anticipation, of looking forward...advent. A word that means, "coming." I want to know Him more than ever before, to have His heart for this month, to have His eyes to see as we enter this most wonderful time of the year.

As we hold our breath in wonder, waiting, watching, with all of creation...for the coming of the Messiah, He wants us to see Him, to know His heart. To live and walk in the hope that His coming gives to a dark, tired and hurting world. The love behind it that changes lives. The peace that passes all understanding and gives confidence to those who have tasted and seen that He is good.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy...
...for to us a child is born, to us a son is given.." {isaiah 9}

This is a very real hope we live with. The hope that does not disappoint. The hope that keeps our hearts pounding, our souls seeking, our hearts open.

He. Christ Jesus. He is our Hope.

Twenty-five days till Christmas - twenty-five days to dive deep into the heart of the Father. Let the anticipation build. Let Him show you His desire for this season. Let Him win your heart in ways you never dreamed - be blown away by His love.

"...a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

{ creating my own little corner }

This past weekend, my dear Courtney drove up from South Carolina to spend a few days with me. While she was here, we tackled the job of re-decorating my room.

My basement bedroom up till this point has been the family guest room, so not much had been done to it since my family moved in last summer. When I first got home in August, I put some strings of pictures up pretty much right away, but that was about it.

In the past four days, the Lord truly blessed us as we spent hours re-doing everything. I want this physical room to be a place where His presence is known and felt, and I knew that in order for that to become a reality, I actually needed to change what the room looked like. I won't get into all the spiritual ramifications for that, but there's definitely something powerful about deliberately decorating a room in such a way that brings glory to Jesus and changes the atmosphere of the place.

With that intro, onto the project!


...and after!

I'm in love with it all! So thankful.

Courtney and I made two shopping outings, one on Friday night to T.J. Maxx for pillows and Walmart for pillowcases, and then on Saturday morning for everything else, ha! Before we left on Saturday, we stopped and prayed - gave the whole project to Jesus. He knew our heart, and *I*knew He'd lead us to the perfect things for this room. 

And oh, He did! We were finished in less than three hours, and spent the rest of the day arranging and hanging and adjusting and painting (yay Court!) and adding touches here and there. Overwhelmed and blessed that Jesus cares about every little thing!

Now for the details...

my bed:
bed pillows // T.J. Maxx
square throw pillows // T.J. Maxx
bicycle throw pillow // clearance at Stein Mart
throw blanket // clearance at Stein Mart
old bear // daddy's

wall elements:
world map // Marshalls - a complete answer to prayer. from the beginning I said I wanted a map for my bed was the last thing we found!
circle mirrors // Marshalls

The picture frames were all from Goodwill, and the canvases from Marshalls. The keys we found at Steinmart and they were so so much spiritual significance!

I loved making the collage frame. We found a big frame at Goodwill, removed the picture, and I ran twine back and forth in between the wood, securing it with the fasteners already inside the edges of the frame. Then I just hung the photos with clothespins like I did back as part of the "old room." I love how it turned out!

One of my favorite things about the room now is the lighting once night time comes. With the Christmas lights framing the back wall, and the two lamps and candle, there's such a peace in here. 

Speaking of The Candle - it's a Scentsational natural soy candle, apple cinnamon scent. It's magic, and I'm in danger of burning it down too fast cause it smells SO STINKIN AMAZING. Oh, the little things that warm my soul!

The chairs got to stay in, and still match wonderfully. I love having such homey "sitting room" space. The "Life is a Trip" pillow was on clearance at Steinmart and made me laugh. The chair itself was given to us by our precious neighbor back when we lived on the farm, and I treasure it so much. I love that it gets to be in my room!

The globe was a fun find, found that at Home Goods. It was on clearance, and it's a little hard to turn, but the more maps the merrier and yay for a vintage globe! All the little knick knacks on the table are mine from all over the place - stories behind every single one. 

The rug on the floor is actually from my parent's bedroom. Mama was planning on getting a new one anyway, so she let me have it. It was bargain to begin with - she found it at the Salvation Army for $30, got it cleaned, and now it's worth...a whole lot more than that. *grin* Thrifted for the win, every time!

The second twin bed - affectionately dubbed "Courtney's Bed", it belongs to whoever's turn it is to visit or spend time in the room. My sisters have already made themselves at home there when they come down to hang out or do homework. That fuzzy blanket is something else...

blue bed:
bed pillows // T.J. Maxx
square throw pillows // T.J. Maxx
round pillow // purchased at Orchard House (home of Lousia May Alcott and family) on a family trip to Boston a few years ago. It finally matches - so happy!
throw blanket // Stein Mart

wall elements:
shelf // I have no clue - we've had it for years and years and years
wood block print // T.J. Maxx - you can't read it in this picture, but that wood print on the shelf says, "a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices..." - a beautiful line from "O Holy Night." it fits so perfectly with everything I'm walking right now, and has that precious word HOPE in it again!
"L" // Steinmart - another answer to an unspoken prayer - I wanted a letter on my wall so badly!
"Dreamers" canvas // Steinmart - one of my favorite things we found. After reading it a hundred times, I still don't fully understand it but it's so cool....and kinda prophetic in a really neat way.

There came a moment with this wall (which we did second, after my wall), where Court and I looked at each other and weren't sure if it was going to pull together - then we remember the shelf, pulled it out of the closet and within a few minutes, all the pieces fell into place! Yay!

Once again, all the frames are from Goodwill. Courtney painted the word "joy" inside the gold frame, lovely artist that she is.

On the little shelf, the shells on top are from Isle of Palms, South Carolina on one of our countless beach trips, the photo of the mountains in the frame is actually a postcard of the Alps from my dear Kate when she lived in Germany, the peacock feather is from my hope chest - a farmer's market find when I was about ten, and the coke bottle is from a little soda fountain my mama used to go to as a girl in Mt. Pleasant, SC. So lots of little special things!

Above the dresser there is a map of the West Indies. We found it at Goodwill, and what an unexpected blessing! I mean, you can hardly find a map of the Islands anywhere, much less vintage, and I didn't even *think* of looking. But there you go - a piece of my family history on my wall. (For those of y'all who don't know, our family heritage on my Dad's side goes back to St. Croix, USVI and Puerto Rico - hence the surprise and excitement at finding such an obscure map)

Also on the dresser is a print - an illustration from Little Women, actually, that we bought at Orchard House in Concord years ago. It's Jo, and her old German professor under their umbrella in the rain...sorta makes you want to sing, maybe? *grin* Couldn't have my own room with bringing Jo in somewhere *wink*

All the little bluish-greenish pottery on the table tops every where are from a host home Miriami and Feli and I stayed at in South Carolina. We actually made it, so it's super special. The girls didn't take all the pieces they created back to Mizoram with them, so I have some of theirs. *hearts and love and sniffles* #imissmygirls

Last but not least, there is a big tall happy bookshelf between the closet and bedroom doors. All my books and treasures have a home, and now that everything's out, I've started reading and writing again. It's an incredible feeling - to realize that the part of me that's been set aside and on hold for over two years during my travels and adventures - is still part of me. Very much so.

Well, that's a wrap! This was a such a fun project - and so blessed from start to finish. Everything we bought was super affordable (no piece was more than $20, most were under $10-12, except for the large map, which was $40 - but it was the last thing and such an answer the prayer!) and it didn't feel like we were shopping for ourselves...I can't explain how tangible the presence of Jesus was in this whole process. It was so beautiful.

This room already become such a haven of peace and rest in the past few cozy place. I've been going through boxes of keepsakes and papers and letters and junk and everything else you can think of that I haven't touched in years, and it's been so fun be all holed up in this lovely space listening to my music and smiling cause it's so homey. SO THANKFUL.

And I'm crazy thankful I got to do it with my Courtney...double the trouble and double the fun.

Have a happy Wednesday everyone, and hey....there's an extra bed so...come visit? There's hot tea ready, I have TWO mugs now so we can each have one, and we talk or do a puzzle on the floor or read or talk or do nothing and just be...and listen to my quiet playlist or the Mizo music I'm currently playing on repeat...just come be, friends. Fellowship is precious.

"Come to me, all 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

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

of stickerless wemmicks and belonging to Jesus

I learned something about myself this week.

I think I always knew it, I mean, looking back, it's pretty blatantly obvious throughout my entire life.

I like belonging.

I don't mean fitting in - never cared much for that. Wasn't interested in changing in order to belong...I just wanted to belong, just the way I was. Always have. From sports teams, group projects, theatre troupes and casts, classes, everything...I love belonging. I love having people who are "mine", and we all do stuff together, and we're on the same page, and everyone accepts everyone else, and even if there are hard things, we are always still US. There are people who I used to "belong with" in various ways that I still keep in touch with, simply because there *was* a bond, there was something we built, because we *were* a team.

That's all well and good, and a strength of mine a fault. So many times, I ended up loving people who hurt me, I would feel like I belonged, when the truth was, I had been rejected. You find that out when it's over, and everyone's saying goodbye and leaving, and your "best friends" go silent afterwards, and you realize they didn't feel the same way as you. This was just another thing to them, and they're moving on. And, when that happens enough times, you learn how to pour yourself out (cause honestly you don't know how to do anything else) and then just shake it off, suck it up, and move on when everyone else does.

Well, this week, I was laying some hurts before the Lord, being honest with Him, asking Him to show me where I needed to forgive, where I needed to move on, and what I needed to fix on my end of things. Courage to do what I needed to do, patience to wait for what I can't.

As I was processing stuff, writing it out actually, I realized where these hurts were coming from. My little spirit was struggling with belonging again - or *not* belonging, in this case.


I sorta froze. Stopped in my tracks. Sitting there, criss-cross on my bed in my shorts and too-big t-shirt, feeling very weak and very little....I just thought. Slowly the light dawned on my hurting, lonely soul.

"You like belonging. You feel abandoned."

"But there's a truth that you *know*, that you need to embrace."

"You only belong to One Thing."

"It's okay to love people like you do. It's okay to belong. It's okay be sad, it's okay to miss things, it's even okay to have hurts."

"But Liza. The only belonging that that you belong to JESUS."

And then the truth began to change things.

I was at the edge of a smallish identity crisis. Jesus was pressing me towards deeper freedom. In light of what I had just realized, I had to choose - to either continue walking in my spirit of abandonment and just grasp onto Jesus but not actually walk in fullness of abundant life that He was offering to me in this area....or utterly reject it, claim truth, and take a step of faith into a new reality.

Even though I didn't feel very brave, new reality won out.

That means a rejection of a previous way of living, of thinking, of looking at myself.

It's a deeper level of son-ship. Of walking in depth of identity that claims *nothing* except my redemption, justification, and adoption into the family of God. It's the ultimate identity trump card, and the only label I claim.

I love that little book, "You are Special" by Max Lucado. It speaks directly into a very deep part of my soul. As a child, I remember that it used to bother me. Looking back, I'm sure it's because, deep down, I knew I was covered with stickers. With labels. Not necessarily of whether I was good enough or not, but self-stuck-stickers that identified me as X, Y, and Z. That gave me a fleshly sense of belonging, that actually clouded my view of my Jesus, because I was claiming so many other things in addition to Him. The Lord freed me from that mentality a long time ago. But this subtle, underlying hurt was still there.

And Jesus was asking to take that too. To show me that there is even more abundant life, even more victory, even more freedom, even more recklessness in following Him with no strings attached.

In that story, Punchinello's stickers start falling off when the more time he spends time with his Creator, Eli, and the more he understands his identity as a precious and valuable "son" of the Woodcarver. How powerful is that?

The more we know of Him, and who we are in Him, the more our identity becomes completely wrapped up in His Name, His Life.

"In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." - Eph 1:5-6

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” - Rom 8:15

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." - Gal 4:4-6

It's a journey, for sure. But the renewing and transforming of our minds as we draw closer and closer to Christ is one of the most beautiful, painful, life-changing, real miracles we will ever know.

The key to healing from abandonment? The key to being a stickerless wemmick with an other-wordly confidence?

Believe who the Father says you are.




His child.

Monday, September 28, 2015

stories and memories and living a full life NOW.

If you ask me to tell you a story from tour, my brain begins processing several things: what kind of person you are, what sort of story you'd appreciate, whether I should make you laugh or make you serious, whether it should be about a particular place or event or just an every day life happening, or whether you would want to hear about the children or the staff.

dragging school day turned to joy in the rain {kalamazoo, mi}

And then, even with a category, there are so many stories to choose from that then I just have to sift through them all. Sometimes I have to stop and send up a silent prayer, "Jesus, WHICH ONE!?!" 

I literally have a bank of hundreds of quotes and stories from those twelve months that I can share at the drop of a hat, and it never gets old. Part of the reason is because I wrote down so much - I have a note on my phone of quotes and they make me laugh every time, and jog my memory if I happen to be drawing a blank. Or the thousands of photos on my computer. 

celebrating birthdays with some of my favorite people on this earth {ft collins, co}

Coming home, I realized that I have spent twenty YEARS with my siblings, and I don't have a story bank like that. I mean, we have thousands of memories, but they aren't well-defined stories and quotes in my head that I can share. We just....are.

liza's tenth birthday c. 2004

While I was on pinterest earlier this week (yes, yes, I was.) I ran across a quote that changed *everything*. I'm not going to copy it in its entirety here, cause I think it would take away from the point I'm making since it's in a different context, but essentially the gist of it is: our lives are beautiful and amazing and masterpieces waiting to happen. Don't wait to start making memories with your life - live it to the fullest starting *right now*.

As I read it, I realized that I have an opportunity, right now, to make hundreds of memories, store hundreds of stories and quotes, with seven of the world's most diverse and hilarious individuals. We all happen to live together, which makes it interesting, and we see each other every day. Literally every day, something hilarious happens, or an adventure, or something to remember.

three mile hike with the littles topped off with candy from the general store {charlottesville, va}

My life is canvas that the Lord is painting a masterpiece on. I can't see the finished product, 'cause it's not finished yet - DUH. And each person and each season that comes across my path becomes part of the colors and part of the work on the canvas. 

Right now, there's definitely a special grace on me because I'm in transition. I'm not real sure what's coming next, and I've spent a lot of time resting and being still and not doing much since I came home. But at the same time, being in transition/season of waiting/season of change is *no excuse* for not living to the fullest *right now.*

one of michael's junior varsity soccer games

Jesus died and rose again to make transitions a time of joy. Where discouragement, fear of the unknown, and worry used to reign, His blood brings hope, confidence and peace.

co-op day with susannah!

"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." {romans 5}

church picnic with my gorgeous sisters

I haven't lived it perfectly, I'll be honest. Selfishness is a sneaky thing. I've had to ask forgiveness, reset my brain, take time away, turn off the phone and the computer and just go live. 

The day I realized my opportunity at home was a chance to build memories that my siblings and I will never forget, was the day the Lord flooded me with hope. It's become my new favorite word, my anthem song, the sparkle in my eye. There. Is. HOPE, because Jesus *is* Who He says He is, He always keeps His promises, and what I've entrusted to Him He will keep. There is hope.

roadtripping in frederick, md

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." {Romans 15}

"The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish." {proverbs 10}

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." {isaiah 40}

"For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." {hebrews 6}

early morning prayer vigil outside planned parenthood as part of 40 Days for Life

I can, you can, live to the fullest right now. You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, and a Father God who loves you more than you could ever love Him back. Everyday is a new adventure with Jesus. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, even when you honestly have no clue what you'll be doing today, much less tomorrow or next week, we can still have vibrant, abundant life. That doesn't mean butterflies and rainbows everyday - it means solid, unwavering security in WHO. YOU. ARE to Jesus, and confidence that He is the one in control at all times.

underdogs for days <3

Everything I'm walking right now in my life requires courage. There's nothing that's flowing easy, or is simple, or straight forward and laid out. It's like the mist on the mountains around our home this morning - you can see right in front of you, but not much more than that. Every step I take in any direction requires courage and faith. And there are definitely days when I do not feel very brave. But the beautiful thing about Jesus and His truth, is that even when I don't feel it, His truth still stands. I'm more than a conqueror in His Name - whether I feel it or not.

So be brave today, live to the fullest! Make memories, record stories, treasure testimonies of His faithfulness in the depths of your heart. No matter what transition or season or uncertainty you are in, He is your Hope, and He doesn't change. He's just as in control as He was yesterday, and last month, and last year, and 2000 years ago, and when you rest in Him, you are free to live life the way He intended you to live.

"Love the LORD, all you His saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays those who act in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD!" {psalm 31}

Saturday, September 26, 2015


this is such a song of hope - and the pressing of my heart in this season I'm walking through. We are pioneers, sojourners, unafraid, walking forward in confidence into an unknown that does not daunt us. "Let your heart not be troubled." 

Oh, pioneer
I sing your song
It's the hymn of those who've gone before and those who carry on

Your work is hard
But the future of us all rests on the shoulders of your heart

Where are we going?
Oh, I don't know
But still I've got to go.
What will become of us?
Oh, I don't care...
All I know is, I'll go anywhere

Oh pioneer
So young and brave
Be careful of the careful souls who doubt you along the way

You orphaned child
Your mother is adventure and your father is the wild

Where are we going?
Oh, I don't know
But still I've got to go.
What will become of us?
Oh, I don't care...
All I know is, I'll go anywhere

Let your heart not be troubled... 

I won't run when bullets chase me
I won't rest where arms embrace me
I will love when people hate me
I won't hush, no you can't make me

Send the dark but it won't break me
You can try but you can't change me
Take my life, they will replace me
I won't hush, no you can't make me
I won't hush, no we will sing

Where are we going?

Oh, I don't know
But still I've got to go.
What will become of us?
Oh I don't care...
All I know is, I'll go anywhere

Let your heart not be troubled...

- pioneer, the band perry

Monday, September 21, 2015

{ fall stylebook and life in general }

This shirt was one I saw, grabbed, and threw together with all the other clothes I was going to try on in the dressing room while I was out shopping one day. Didn't think much of it on the rack, but what could I lose? I LOVED it once it was on. It's super soft, hilarious in every way, and pretty much perfect. And get this, neither of my parents thought it was weird? So yes, win in every way.

It works great with jeans for everyday, but it pairs nicely with the maxi skirt and jacket, and yes, I wore it to church. *wink* I usually wear a blue tank underneath it, since the front does ride a little bit high and could be awkward. Better safe than sorry! 

The shirt is Red Camel from Belk, and the skirt is Liz Claiborne and one of my wardrobe staples. I wore it the last part of tour *all the time* and it was perfect for everything from Sunday mornings to travel days on the bus. Same old denim jacket from forever ago, and the necklace is the same one from last week. 

Right now I'm all cozied up in a big shawl-ish sweater on our back porch with chocolate chai tea and my brown socks on (cause they match my sweater...and we all know that life is that much more comfortable when one's outfit is perfectly coordinated) watching and listening to the rain. It's not a nasty rain that makes you feel yucky and bored, but the cozy kind.

I'm missing people right now, but hey, what's new. Jesus is more beautiful today than ever before, and I'm finding that being thankful changes achy-heart-syndrome into hopeful-heart-reality.

Oh, here's a song I stumbled across last night. I don't know why it speaks to me, exactly, but it does. It has that twinge of hope, mingled with the acknowledgment of the unknown. I've had it on repeat, haha, and since it's The Band Perry, I feel like I might be seventeen all over again. *wink*

To close, this verse got tossed around on our team group text this morning (which is still my favorite happy thing ever) and it made my heart smile. Just a precious, tender and powerful reminder of Who's Hands my life is in.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
- zephaniah 3:17
Have a beautiful day my friends, wherever you are! Jesus loves you, He delights in you, and He wants you to walk in His truth and light today.