It never fails- anytime a song comes on the radio, I always join in with harmony. I can’t help myself.
While on a road trip, my husband asked me how I listen for the harmony in a song. I replied, “I listen for what’s missing.” My husband’s response was, “I’m gonna need something more than, ‘I’m awesome’.” The truth is, I’ve been singing for most of my life. And because I enjoy harmony so much, looking for missing parts has become both a skill and a joy to me.
I love the harmony parts.
I love tight knit vocal harmonies that are dynamic and fill space. If it’s the original harmonies in familiar songs from small musical groups, or even if it’s surprising arrangements of harmonies found in massive choirs – I’m here for it. Each harmony adding a richer sound to those listening; each part supporting and complementing the other. I thoroughly enjoy hearing what each part can provide to enhance the experience.
In the pursuit of trying to be the best version of ourselves, we can zero in with laser focus and almost forget that we aren’t here just to better ourselves. We are here to share our contribution for the betterment of our world. To enhance, to support, and even to uplift.
We’ve all been given this opportunity in 2022: To listen to the conversations around us. I’m not talking about eavesdropping. I’m talking about intentionally listening to each person we engage with. Whether we listen to those within our home, within our neighborhoods, those outside of our neighborhoods, or those in our circles of faith and influence- We have each been given a new year to listen to those around us and see how we can enhance, support, and uplift them too.
At the beginning of each new year, I usually write a blog post asking friends to tell me their “word”. It’s a regular rhythm for me as a writer, and this year, I plan on selecting my own words while hearing about the words of others.
I’d also like 2022 to be different. I’d like us to shift our focus for a minute.
While we try to discover our “word” for the year, I want each one of us, myself included, to stop and listen to our world and look for what’s missing in the same way I listen for harmony.
Not for what everyone else should bring to contribute.
Not what we wish would magically occur through a series of glorious events.
What only we can see that’s missing; what only we can bring.
What do we hear that is missing? How can we bring some harmony? What can we bring?
Today, let’s pause and listen and lean in to hear God share with us how through him, we can bring harmony to our world in this new year.
We might listen and hear that hope is missing from conversations.
We might listen and hear that love is missing from the actions and intentions of those around us.
We could even listen and hear that faith is missing from the hearts of those close to us.
What’s missing friend? Right where you are with the gifts you’ve been given, what can you provide today?
One of the most amazing things about harmony is that it’s always there – someone just has to sing it. Harmony enhances what is already beautiful in the original song. Harmony adds value and offers support so as the musical piece is performed, the whole experience is felt differently.
Hearing and seeing a choir singing moving arrangements has often been known to bring people to tears or give chills. Some performances even lead to standing ovations for the participants doing nothing other than their part. But they did it well. They did it together. They performed it with the exact amount of intensity and passion that was needed.
I am praying for all of us today- that God would show us how we can add harmony to this world we live in. Not so that our role or our gifting gets the attention, but so that together, we can become the most beautiful sound of worship as we offer our roles and giftings to The Lord together in harmony.
Let’s listen well friends, and let’s look for the spaces we can bring beauty and harmony through the gifts we’ve each been given. All for his glory.
peace – liz:)
Go The Mile: Alright friends, this is usually the space where I post one of my favorite songs for you to enjoy. But today, I’d like to hear from YOU! In the comments below, share one of your favorite songs that you know has sweet harmonies! I can’t wait to check out your suggestions! Ready, set, SHARE!
Hello sweet friends near & far! I’m so grateful for this journey we’ve shared together throughout 2021 and I’m very excited to continue it in 2022!
I was super blessed to finish out 2021 with an anniversary getaway with my hubs as we celebrated 21 years of marriage, and then we watched then all drop with our kiddos in the comfort of our home! What a blessing to thank God for the year we were able to walk through because of His grace, and what a blessing to consider what He might do in and around us in 2022. One thing is for sure- He promises to be with us all.
Wherever you find yourself starting out this new year, know that I pray God would bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you. I also pray that the gifts and dreams you’ve been dreaming of using start stirring in your soul, because guess what? This world needs your gifts and dreams too.
From our family to yours, we hope you have a great start to this new year we’ve been granted. Let’s enjoy the journey together. And as always, let’s live, write, speak, and do- all for the glory of God.
Hello & Merry Christmas from the beautiful Western Slope of Colorado! We hope that wherever you find yourself today, you are able to enjoy the peace of Jesus and the promise of hope because LOVE came down for you and for me!
“But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 CSB
What a blessing that we get to be connected in Christ across all of the miles and across so many blog posts! You dear friends, are some of my very favorite gifts!
Christmas brings all kinds of gifts into our lives. Not just the shimmer-wrapped gifts that are gently placed under the tree, and not even the ones that show up in the driveway with a big red bow on top (does that even happen in real life?!). I’m talking about the gifts we didn’t know we needed– gifts of comfort and joy.
We live in a world where even amidst being in pandemic, the songs heard overhead in the stores are the merry ones- the ones that have some pep and happy lyrics. Everywhere we turn in town, we see colorful reminders that this season is a cheerful one. In the daytime we see the beauty of frost and evergreen, and in the dark hours of night we see the glistening glow of Christmas lights beneath soft blankets of snow.
Inside our hearts, we can feel the excitement and the anticipation of gathering with loved ones at parties or coffee meetups. We can feel the urgency to finish all the shopping for the big meal or the letdown of realizing we forgot to grab the bag of chips for the 3rd time this week (don’t ask me how I know). We can also feel the joy of wrapping up the thoughtful gifts we’re planning on giving away to our loved ones.
We can feel a lot this season.
During my last post on the blog, we looked at the feelings we experience during the holidays when our hearts are heavy with grief. How knowing we have a Wonderful Counselor to be our source of strength and hope during the holiday season.
No matter if we are living life to the fullest and everything seems jolly, or if we just can’t seem to catch a break and the hits keep coming – we are all in need of comfort and joy this season. God knew we would need both.
We, you and me friend, need the comfort of His presence to remind us how loved we are and where we belong – close to His heart. We need the joy we find in His presence- lasting joy that doesn’t fade away when life feels out of control and hard.
We need both.
I need both.
Let’s take some time today to slow down to receive those gifts from God.
Speaking of slowing down, some of the most favorite and beloved Christmas songs are the slow ones- the ones that cause us to be still and to ponder; to wait for the “good part” or wait for the beautiful ending. On this Christmas Eve, may we create space to slow down for a moment and lean in to hear the “good part” – the part where the King of Kings sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to be Emmanuel- God with us. The part where Jesus came down to meet us at the very point of our need: our need for a Savior, our need for a Healer, our need for a Good Shepherd and Faithful Friend. The gift of His presence didn’t just end when He arrived, it continues to be with us today and, He promised He would be with us to the end of the age. He is our peace dear friends, and He has also given us the gifts of His comfort & His joy.
He is The Light that came to a dark and weary world, He is the Great Comfort we so desperately need and the Giver of Joy that this world cannot take away. He’s the Giver of Good & Perfect Gifts then, now, and in all the days to come.
May we experience comfort from His presence and joy from His Holy Spirit today and always.
Peace, Comfort, & Joy Dear Friends – liz:)
Let’s Pray:Lord Jesus, thank You for knowing our needs and meeting them too. Thank you for the promise that You are Emmanuel, God with us. Thank you for coming down for all humanity – and for being Our Light. We need Your presence today Lord, and in Your presence we find both gifts of comfort and joy. Your gifts are good because You are good and this Christmas Eve, remind our hearts that we have already been given these gifts for our soul. When the world feels cold and dark, shine Lord, so we can see Your goodness in front of us. Thank You Lord for the comfort and joy we find in You alone, Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: Check out one of my favorite Chrsitams carols below as The Petersen’s share, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentelemen”! This is a beautiful version and I hope it reminds us that we are given both comfort & joy because of Jesus!
BONUS: I couldn’t leave out my all-time favorite Christmas carol…I had to include my favorite version of, “O, Holy NIght” by Celine Dion! Enjoy it today as you prep for whever you’re going!
It’s a cold and frosty morning here on the Western Slope of Colorado and right outside of my dining room window, I can see the twinkling lights we set up last night on our bushes. I know- it’s a little late, but there are just some things that I wanted to be sure we still accomplished this season. Setting up Christmas lights outside of the house always brings a smile to my face. It brings light and joy to my neighborhood that is usually pretty dark at night. I love to see strands of lights all over the houses. At Christmastime, seeing those small glimmers of light in the neighborhood helps us to keep going down the street to discover more, and it also helps us keep going on our journey as we keep trusting that there is more light ahead.
The holidays can often feel dark and dreary for some. And when I say some, I include myself in that lot. Maybe the loss is still a little too fresh to your heart. Maybe the last interaction you had with an estranged loved one didn’t go the way you planned. You might even feel disconnected from the season because it holds more difficult memories and burdens from years past. Whether it’s an absence due to the loss of a loved one or the empty seat because a loved one hasn’t come home for many years – it can make us question what is so wonderful about Christmas. On this cold morning, I wanted to bring some hope to our hearts. This season is still wonderful – Not because of what we currently feel, what’s under the tree, or even what we have checked off from a holiday list. No, Christmas is wonderful because of Who is with us through it all.
If this holiday season feels dark because of the shadow of grief or maybe even because of what life has thrown your way, I encourage you to look for the little bits of light around you today. Let’s look for the trail of hope that God Himself has set out before us in big and small ways – the hope for the hurting heart is real and available for us today. Like the string of lights beneath my windowpane, God has placed light and hope right in front of us at the exact right moments to lift our spirit. We don’t have to walk through grief alone this holiday season. We can reach out to friends for encouragement and prayer but even more importantly, we can call out to The Lord. I’m so thankful to God for the invitation He gives us to bring our burdens to Him.
This Christmas, we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus because He came down and lived, shared in our sufferings and understands our sorrows, and He experienced death so that we could have salvation from sin and have a new life in Him. God’s greatest gift to us was and still is Jesus – Emmanuel, God With Us.
He is with us right in the middle of the ache and in the middle of the tears that still fall.
He is with us in the middle of the celebrations that come with both joy and sadness because of who is around us and who is no longer here.
He is with us when the season doesn’t feel all that wonderful and even when it does.
He is the One that is Wonderful this Christmas season.
He is the One Who walks with us in the middle of the beautiful and the broken.
He is the One who sees the condition of our heart and comes to apply compassionate love and restores our joy.
He is with us friend.
He is the Light in our darkness the hope of the world.
He is still Wonderful this Christmas.
He is all that we were promised He would be:
“For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
The dominion will be vast,
and its prosperity will never end.
He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom,
to establish and sustain it
with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 CSB)
So when the season doesn’t feel so wonderful, let’s remember that He is still wonderful. Not only is He wonderful, He’s able to make our spirits bright with His love and light.
Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we come before you today in the name of Your Son Jesus, and we bring you all of our hearts. All of the ache and all of the heaviness we place in your loving and compassionate hands. We want to cast our cares upon You because we know that You care for us. Lord, we ask You to shine Your Light on our hearts when the darkness and heaviness sets in. Thank You for the promise that You are a shelter for the weak and a strong tower that we can run to when we need security and peace of mind. God, remind us today that You are still wonderful and powerful and able to bring peace to our souls in the midst of the season. You are so kind to walk with us through all that we experience in this life, and Lord, we thank You for your presence right here with us. Thank You Lord. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: Friends, I had to share this song with you today. It has been a comfort to me this season, so please take time today to listen to this song from one of my favorite bands, CAIN, and I pray your heart would be reminded of how wonderful God is.
As we prep for the rest of our day, and as we gather around tables with few or with many, may we remember what’s truly important this season…
More than the tables beautifully decorated,
More than the dishes piled high with flavorful foods,
More than anything today,
May we remember the people beside us and connections between us. May we choose joy as we celebrate the gift of being grateful together, whether celebrating in person or over video calls…may we give thanks to God for the gift of His love, the beauty of community, and the blessing of friendship.
“And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17 CSB
From our family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, full of love & hope & faith!
peace & pumpkin pie – liz:)
Go The Extra Mile: One song that has been on repeat for me these past few months is this one right here. May we find ourselves with our hands lifted up in surrender as we express our gratitude to Our Loving, Gracious & Generous God. Enjoy friends!
A love story is still worth celebrating, even when the ending isn’t what we thought it would be.
For more than 44 years, my parents shared a love story that was real, honest, good, and hard. Not the kind you see on a movie screen with the right music in the background, or the characters played by leading men & women. No, my parents shared in a love story that shouldn’t have made sense, but it did.
A California kid & a Colorado girl who, by all intents and purposes, shouldn’t have made it, created a love story all their own. Full of risks and full of joy. Full of heartaches and full of hope.
They met. Got married. Grew together. Stayed together. Raised a family together. Grew their family together. Worked together. Made ends meet together. Trusted God together. Prayed together. Laughed together. Cried together. Adventured together. Fought together. Fought for each other together. Believed together. Lived out vows together.
Last year, we watched as our Mom kissed our Dad goodbye. She thanked him.
We stood there in the apartment- myself, my sister and my husband, and watching and crying as she thanked him for the years they spent together and for the beautiful family he gave her. And as our kind and gracious funeral director left the apartment, Mom grabbed onto my sister and I, holding us firmly by our arms. I’ll never forget what she told us with tears in her eyes and with a trembling in her voice…she encourgaed us to love our families.
These are the words we have seen our mom live out everyday for years, especially in the last years of our father’s life.
In that moment, she never stopped loving him. She didn’t forget all the good from their life together. She remembered the good, and so did we. She thanked him and also encouraged us to love. If you know our Mom, you know she lives from a place of love, so here response to us was fitting – because that’s what she does. She loves.
Mom & Dad’s love story was worth celebrating then, and today, on what would’ve been their anniversary, it’s still worth celebrating. That kind of a love story – the kind you choose, the kind you work for, the kind you sacrifice for, the kind you ache for is still worth celebrating.
Maybe you’re family is walking on this similar path of grief, and these anniversaries and holidays feel really, really tough. We get it; we truly understand. But no matter how long our love has lasted, no matter how brief it was, that love is still worth celebrating.
Today, I’m choosing to celebrate the love that our parents shared. Today, we as a family will give thanks to God for the love He allowed our parents to share for so many years. It’s still worth celebrating – even through the tears and the ache. Today, I’ll love my people a little harder in honor of my parents’ love story. I’ll also pause in the midst of the grief to try and encourage others to love their people too. After all, Mom still continues to love every single person she comes in contact with. May we know that love is still worth celebrating in the midst of the grief and heartache, and may we make it a point to love and appreciate each moment we have with our loved ones. Let’s love well my friends.
Go TheExtra Mile: In honor of our Dad, I wanted to share one of his favorite songs. I can imagine he’s cruisin’ the streets of heaven blasting this song. He loved taking drives and listening to good music, and this one always makes me think of him. Thank You Rare Earth for reminding us to celebrate. Take a listen and take a drive and remember to celebrate love today friends.
Last Sunday we came home from a whirlwind weekend in which we both celebrated our oldest daughter turning 20…#weareold, and we also celebrated and cheered on our middle daughter performing in the State Band Competition. Lots of travel, lots of activity, lots of planning and prepping, and partying. All of it was awesome!
I don’t think I’ve cheered quite as loud as we did for our percussionist. We (our family and some amazing friends) screamed loudly and shouted her name and funny phrases until she could hear us over the crowd and until we saw that we had sufficiently embarrassed her – blushing face and brilliant smile:).
I don’t think I’ve smiled as wide as I did the night we (our family and some amazing friends) sang to our young girl who is now growing into this incredible woman. We sang until we had acheived 3-part harmony, and until her face was blushing from the attention, and yet again, another brilliant smile:).
We later smiled and shared time at a local favorite lunch spot with some other amazing friends – a little itty bitty funny guy and his precious mama- and we laughed until our sides were hurting, and smiled until our cheeks were sore and our faces were blushing as well:).
In each moment, I was reminded how every person on the face of the earth needs these exact kind of people to surround them in this life here on earth. Friends who are timeless; friends who cheer you on and stick with you long enough on the journey to cheer on your kiddos too. Friends who show up to help in the hard times, and friends who show up to celebrate the good times. Friends who can literally call you on your junk and let you fall to pieces in their arms. Friends who want to take the time to go grab a coffee and walk around Target, even if just for an hour so you can let it all out while you find the thing you didn’t know you needed until Target told you so:). Friends who need a break and know you might need one too, so they take you for a coffee or Slurpee or if you’re far away in miles, they send you a hilarious text mesage or meme to brighten your day, helping you to breathe a little easier in the middle of your season.
Let me give you a little history here:
I met many of these friends when I was a teenager; while I was still in my formative years. Friends I didn’t know in childhood and friends I didn’t know I’d walk into and through adulthood with. But God did.
These friendships, like many of the friendships I’ve been blessed to be a part of, have been lifelines for me. Providing pivotal encouragement and support, sharing wisdom and hope in the seasons when needed most and sharing laughter and joy like good medicine for the bones. Even sharing in several greetings including many hellos, and farewells, as life has taken us each to different places than our original starting point.
That’s the beauty of friendship though, isn’t it?
Sometimes you don’t know how much hope it gives you to have a friend until you need a friend & have a friend by your side. In the seasons where they know you can use the extra hope to hold onto, and even in the seasons where they have no clue how much their presence, their smile, or their messages mattered.
We arrived back home and after a fun weekend and while unpacking, my husband brought in a rose that he had just cut from one of our rose bushes outside. He’s a keeper:). This rose was exceptional (see pic below). It was huge, in full bloom and it’s petals were various shades of hot pink. Mind you, it was end of October, almost November here on the Western Slope of Colorado. Our area has already experienced the dry heat of Summer, the chill of Fall setting in, and frost covering the housetops of our neighborhood. But this rose you guys, this rose held on through all of it to display it’s most beautiful colors and fragrance at the most unlikely time – in the middle of Fall. Not when the climate was sunny enough or when the sky was brilliant and bright; this rose was in bloom in the middle of a grey and overcast day.
My pink rose held on during the heat that saps life out of most everything, and endured rising and falling temperatures in the days that followed Summer. It endured wind and rain, tons of dust blowing around from nearby construction. It held on, and we noticed it’s beauty.
Friends, I don’t know what kind of season you’ve been enduring through. I don’t know what kind of season you are in the middle of right now. What I do know is that if ever there was a time for us to hold on, it’s now.
We must hold onto hope.
We must hold onto friendship.
We must hold onto God Himself.
Whether you are walking through some difficult times and need a friend to lean on, or maybe you are enjoying the best times in life, everyone is in need of friendship that both endures and helps us hold on to hope. I encourage you today, call up a friend, text a funny message to a loved one, or tell your coworker to send you their coffee order and pick up coffee before heading into work. Look for flowers and bring them indoors to bring a smile to someone’s face and joy to their heart. Here are the lessons I learned about friendship and flowers this past week – They are gifts that help us hold on. And through holding on, we have been given two gifts:
The ability to receive hope and healing when our friends speak words of encouragement and display actions that speak louder than words,
the ability to offer hope and healing when we allow our hearts to hold onto hope and overflow with that same love through our words and actions.
When we have received that burst of hope and that healing medicine to our bones, we too can be like that rose from my hubby – A display of enduring beauty in the midst of a cold season while sharing a sweet fragrance of strength for those around us to be impacted by.
Friends, may we not just know friends like the ones I have shared about today, but may we also be friends like that. May we also remember that because Our God offers comfort and hope to us daily, that we can choose to do the same for those around us too. And the next time we see flowers in the store or in our own garden, may we remember that they endured some seasons of their own, and we can too.
Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenely Father, thank you for the blessing of friendship. Thank you for the gift of receiving love and hope from others on the days we need it most and on the days that we didn’t realize how much it would mean later. You are the giver all all good gifts Lord – may we never take for granted the gifts of the family and friends in our lives who uplift and encourage us. Lord, we ask You to help us be those kind of friends for others – noticing where we can offer a smile or where we can administer a healing word or action. We thank you Lord that our life happens in seasons, and that no matter the season, You reveal to us that You Jesus, are truly the friend that sticks even closer than a brother. Thank you for demonstrating friendship to those around You all throughout You Word and for giving us a model to follow. You are our hope in the middle of every season we experience and You are the Author and Sustainer of Life. Lord, we humbly ask for Your help as we offer hope, love, and support to those around us. We also pray that in the seasons where our own spirit could use a boost of hope, that we would have eyes to see it around us and the endurance to fiercely hold onto it as we go from one season to the next. Lord as we hold on to Your hope, may we bloom beautifully right where we are and in doing so, may it bring beauty and hope to the lives of those around us. You are so kind to us – giving us the gift of friendship and God, we thank you for the blessing it is to share this life with others near and far. Amen.
Go The ExtraMile: It might be beause we have lived in the country a little bit these last (almost) 4 years, but this song hit just right today! Check out this song by Chris Tomlin & Chris Lane, “Gifts From God” and then calll up your friends to let them know how much of a gift from God they are to you! Such a cool song!
While at worship team practice last week, I was talking about the challenge we have been given to chase after God while using the gifts we have been entrusted with. I shared about how we get this awesome privilege to do so much because there were people years ago who dared to do things differently. Through their example, and because of their sacrifices, we now have the blessing of sharing the hope of Christ and directing the focus back to Him through our gifts.
Each of us, musicians and vocalists, sound engineers and video and media tech team, all of us, using the gifts we have been given. All of us – utilizing what we’ve been given to share.
When I was growing up, we went to church and sat in beautiful but stiff wooden pews, and we sang from cream-colored hymnals. I think the title, “Hymns of Praise” was embossed onto the cover in a light gold foil. I saw ordinary people use their extraordinary gifts. I saw people teach Sunday School, greet guests, print bulletins, tend the grassy areas around the church, and even others bake cookies for events. I didn’t know that those were all gifts back then. Still, I remember seeing people deliver messages from pulpits and piano benches, while others shared their testimony in the parking lot outside. I saw while others volunteered to help love the littlest guests in the church nursery. I was blessed to behold worship leaders in big events as well as worship leaders in kids church leading children to Jesus with guitars, flipboard lyrics, and yes – flannelgraph. I even witnessed generous adults who signed up to stay up all night for youth lock-ins(bless them Lord – they were saints!).
I think as a kid I just thought that that’s what everyone did – pitching in their time and helping everyone in the process. My little eyes caught glimpses of “what could be” long before I knew “what needed to be” in community. And as a kid who grew up underneath those wooden benches mentioned before, I now see that I was witnessing the communal act of using the gifts that God had placed in people’s hearts. After all these years, I now see that everyone was “just doing their thing” all around me; using their gifts and moving into action every day.
Last week I challenged us to discover what our “thing” was and just do it.
Did you think about what your “thing” might be?
Did God impress on your heart where you might be able to use those beautiful and powerful gifts?
As I was sharing with my teammates, I kept reminding us that we have an audience. Others are watching us (whether on a platform or in the public library or even at the grocery store), to see how we use those gifts in the everyday moments of our lives.
In the silence & in the suffering.
In the happiest of times & in the heartache.
In the victorious moments & in the valleys low.
In every season under the sun, we have been entrusted with gifts and we have and the privilege of still giving praise to God. Even when we don’t think we have much to offer, and even when we barely muster the strength to let out a sound of praise from our quivering lips.
There are on-lookers around us and the eyes of a generation coming up behind us that are looking for hope and for a glimpse of how “things could be” and, you know what? We get to share that hope when we each do our “thing”.
They are our why.
They are why we should do our “thing”.
Not for selfish gain, and not for human applause, but so those around us can come in contact with the same Savior we know.
God has chosen us (you and me), to do what we can do with what we’ve been given. As we do, He will continue to do His “thing”. Actually, He will continue to do all kinds of amazing things in and through us.
We. You & me, with our different gifts, we get to be part of God’s story, friends.
I’m so grateful for those who modeled this for me when I was growing up. Each gift shared has impacted my own life & faith journey. Do you remember who impacted yours?
This week, I want us to think of who our “why” is. This world needs the gifts God has entrusted to you, friends. And there are so many around us who can see those brilliant gifts shining through. No matter your season, no matter your gift, there is a reason and others are counting on your willingness to share it. May we be brave as we continue to discover our “thing”, and as we pray and ask God to show us who we should share our gifts with. As we do, may our gifts point others to our source of hope and strength – Jesus, Emmanuel – God With Us.
peace – Liz
Let’s Pray:Dear Heavenly Father, You desire that everyone we come in contact with, would come in contact with Your presence. You Lord, have given us gifts and talents and skills to use on this earth, so that we can play a part in this glorious and mysterious story we call life. Lord, we don’t want to just sit on these gifts, we don’t want to just hold onto these things, we want to put them to good use for the greater good. Today God, would you begin to show us who we can begin to share our gifts with, show us who we can impact even today as we read through this. Inside and outside the church, I know You have a great plan and purpose for them. Thank You for showing us today that these gifts matter, and that when we choose to share what we’ve been given, we can see others begin to bravely do their thing and share their own gifts too. Thank you Lord for Your reminders that our stories matter and that we still have something valuable to share with this world and those around us. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: Friends, I wanted us to listen to something that both encourges us and puts some fire underneath us to use those gifts. I love the lyrics to this song! We don’t want to just be filled up, we want to pour out all these powerful gifts we’ve been given. So check out this video, turn the volume way up, and be encouraged to pour out what you have for the glory of God.
I’ve been thinking about all of you for months now, and I can’t say that I’ve had any really good excuses for not writing posts for this blog more consistently. The truth is, I just haven’t written. I’ve jotted down thoughts, organized some ideas, but I haven’t fleshed out a real post in a while.
I think it’s partly because grief still ebbs and flows into much of what I do each day. It may also be that I am, like many of us, still processing the last 19 months of life on this planet during pandemic. While at other times, I feel like I’ve put this content aside so I can focus on other content for my books that I’ve been working on.
Yes, you read that right.
If you’re new to the blog, you may know that I have some projects I’ve been working on. Some of them are years in the making. Some of them birthed out of difficult seasons, and some of them crafted out of noticing felt needs that popped up right in front of me. All of which have been stirring in my heart for some time. All of which have taken me through deep dives into the world of preparing for and submitting book proposals.
I’d like to tell you that I’m well on my way to being represented by a literary agent, but I’m not quite to that stage yet:). I am in the process of submitting proposals, adding content to the books, and continuing to create content for publications I love to glean from.
In other words, if you are in need of a contributor…I’m your gal!
While I was at work on Monday, I was listening to an encouraging author (Trillia Newbell) share briefly about how we should go and do what we are supposed to do. Easier said than done, right?!
She shared A LOT of encouraging content in the interview and as I was washing dishes, I kept coming back to the feeling that many of us need to hear what was dropped into my heart as I listened.
We need to go and do what we are supposed to do.
What we have been designed to do.
What we have been created to do.
I’m preaching to myself here first.
I, as a 41 year-old woman, feel called to write…
I have pages of my writing dating back to my early elementary years when I wrote poems and short stories, and just little thoughts.
I feel called to sing…
I’ve been singing since I was a little girl in church, back when we used to wear mustard-colored choir robes (not the best look on anyone), and singing in places that, for all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t have had the opportunity to sing at but for the grace of God.
I feel called to share life with others…
I feel this one so much that I look for ways to have people over to my house, and ways to connect over coffee, and reasons to celebrate life with others.
As I was washing those dishes, and putting them away, I was preaching to myself, “Just go and do what you are supposed to do.”
Friend, I don’t know what you feel called to do. Only you do.
What I do know is that you can do it.
Even when we feel weakened by the world around us.
Even when we feel most unqualified for the task at hand.
Even when we feel overwhelmed with all the steps involved.
Even when others might not understand why we feel we need to do it.
Through prayer and with God’s guidance, and through the power of His Holy Spirit, we can do what He has called us to do.
Today, I just wanted to remind you that as I am stepping into what He has placed in my own heart to accomplish, I am praying for you to do the same; to step out in faith, discover what you have been uniquely designed to do, and how you can creatively do it.
While you are discovering those purposes, I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way. And as you figure it all out, share with me (and all of our friends here) how you are doing what you’ve been called to do.
Just do the thing.
Just write the book you’ve been dreaming of in your heart.
Just sing the songs that keep encouraging others.
Just start the dance class that is needed in your community.
Just share life in the community.
Just go talk to that neighbor and offer a listening ear.
Just show up to the park with food to feed the homeless.
Just pick a date to meet your friend for coffee.
Just make a call and pray for those who have been heavy on your heart.
Just sign up to volunteer at your local church.
Just send in the application to that job.
Just start the business that keeps calling to you.
Just paint the painting that has been longing to be on canvas.
Just go on the mission trip.
Just visit the elderly friends and family members who often are forgotten.
Let’s all just do the thing.
Let’s Pray: Lord God, thank you for the reminder that we have gifts placed within us that still need to be shared with this world. You constantly send us nudges to step out in faith and the truth is, we often shy away from actually moving into action. Forgive us Lord for delaying in this area. God we humbly ask you to remind us of the ways in which you want us to do these things and how we can share our gifts that you have lovingly entrusted to us. May we have eyes to see them, ears to hear your voice calling us, and hands and feet ready to step out as you lead us. Amen.
GoThe Extra Mile: My heart is always encouraged and inspired by music and this song from For King & Country hit the spot today. I hope you’re encouraged and inspired as well as you check it out today! https://youtu.be/9HErRFLapu4
On March 13, 2020 I got to sing in a private concert in my hometown to an audience of one, my Dad.
That morning after a long night where my sister took the night shift caring for our dad (like she and mom had done so many times before), I took the morning shift, caring for him, making sure he had everything he needed while she got some much needed rest and a shower. While with Dad, I chose just to sit with him and overcome by all the emotions that I was feeling, I didn’t know what else to do except for sing. It wasn’t a huge vocal performance or a power ballad; it was more of a whispered prayer – trying to wrap my head around what the next hours might be like being next to my Dad before he took his journey to see our Jesus. And while I was sitting there, I was just whispering a song (I don’t even recall what song I started out singing). All of a sudden, Dad tried to raise up a little in his bed and he said, “Lord I’m amazed!”, to which I said, “Ok, Dad, let’s sing that”, so I began to sing, “Lord I’m amazed by you, Lord I’m amazed by You. Lord I’m amazed by You, How You love me…”. I can’t help but think that in those fading hours, God was giving my father little glimpses of what was to come. Little glimpses of where he would be transitioning to once he closed his eyes on this earth.
I have often said it felt like I was dancing with eternity; taking one hand and one step in a direction I’ve not experience before, knowing that at any moment the music and the dance would stop. Eternity felt so close and so tangible in the room in Greeley. We were all feeling God‘s presence in the midst of feeling loss and in the midst of feeling ache, not yet fully understanding how deep that ache would be.
I finished the song that day and we carried on. We continued to just wait and hope, and love and care, and hug and cry and laugh, just our family. Dad wouldn’t have had it any other way – he loved his family being all together. Throughout the day family and friends called and texted us, prayed for us and supported us. And so did those amazing hospice nurses – literal angels on this earth. We were so glad to be surrounded and uplifted in a time where for much of the rest of the world, it felt like the life was closing in and shutting down. A year ago today, we didn’t know what we didn’t know: That the world was going to feel like it stopped in time. Back then, we didn’t know what was to unfold globally or what 2021 would unfold like so in that moment, we just continued to do the only thing we could do:
Love, care, cry, pray, repeat.
I’d love to tell you a little of how Dad’s earthly story ended miraculously. On this day, a year ago, at 9:30 p.m., our Dad Rico breathed his last breath on earth while simultaneously taking his first gasp in glory. Dad was risen to new life in eternity with our Lord Jesus, and as he was, we felt the ache of great loss because we knew the gift of great love.
Our hearts so wanted to see Dad completely healed and, our hearts also knew at the time that it would not be done according to what we wanted. But I’m so thankful God had a better plan because God‘s plan included him being surrounded by all of his loved ones. God‘s plan included that Dad would be loved into eternity although this world didn’t welcome him the way it should have or could have when he was born. My sister wanted us to be sure that we loved dad out the way that only a family could, and I love her for that. God‘s plan included Dad’s healing. God‘s plan included Dad’s hope realized. God‘s plan included his restoration and salvation sealed. God‘s plan included dancing in the streets. God‘s plan included being surrounded by his family on earth while being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses in heaven. God‘s plan included not shutting the world down quite yet, allowing us to just have time with family. God‘s plan included allowing us to be together as a family to say, “See you later”, to our Dad and over this past year, we can remember and we see God‘s faithfulness and mercy; how He’s given us the strength in what felt like a season of one blow after another, in what felt like one separation after another, in what felt like one loss after another, in what felt like one ache after another.
God has been so so good. So that’s what I sang to God that day in the final moment of my Dad’s life: “You’re a Good Good Father.” Because that’s the truth – God is a good good Father.
Friends, I don’t know what your March 13th, 2020 looked like. I know what mine looked like: My 2020 looked a lot like love and loss, hope and joy, chaos and peace. For many of us it felt that way. Through it all, I know God was standing with us. Maybe your 2020 looked a lot like mine with deaths or different losses, from all areas of our world whether it was in our schools, in our jobs, in our homes, in our ministries, in our churches, in our communities – we all felt loss. Maybe it was very personal. Maybe it was a family member who passed away – maybe it was due to this destructive Covid, or maybe it was due to something else; something harder, something more difficult, something you never could’ve imagined or something so sudden, or even something so drawn out like dementia.
I don’t know what your March 13th, 2020 looked like – the day before the world kind of stopped for a while. What I do know is that you are not alone, and even now, we are not alone today. We (you and me friend), right now, we are surrounded even if we are socially or physically distanced. We are surrounded by people who want to support us. We’re surrounded by friends who would love to help out. We’re surrounded by people in our lives who have been longing to hug us and hold us, longing to uplift us. And though we are slowly emerging out of this crazy season of being cooped up, locked in, and shut down, we have people waiting for us to let them into our messy and broken pieces, and in return, we get to step in and do the same by uplifting them, upholding them, strengthening them, and supporting them too. We also have a great cloud of witnesses who is looking for us to allow God to do what He wants to do in this time even when we don’t understand, even when we can’t comprehend. God himself is waiting for us to say, “I trust You”.
God is waiting for us to say we will live with hope while we trust. He’s waiting for us to say we will work while it is day, we will love while there is still breath in our lungs, and we will care while we can.
Friend, will you join me in that challenge today?
I know it’s the beginning of this season of where we’re revisiting a lot of these memories from last year. There’s gonna be a lot of those moments over the next several months. Will you help me and join me as we choose to say God, ” I trust You Lord. I’m amazed by You. I want to carry on through Your strength”? Today, I’m reminded of this scripture:
“See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.” 1 John 3:1 CSB
Friends, you and I are God’s children and He does love us. Even when we look back at losses and remember tough memories. He wants us to remember we are His children so others can live in that same realization too. I’m reminded of some lyrics from the song, “Fear Not My Child” by Carman: “I know how to care for what belongs to Me.”
God does know how to care for us in every single season under the sun and every moment throughout all eternity.
I invite you to join me in singing to an audience of one today. Use your own words dear friend, because we all experienced this past year from different perspectives. Even so, let’s pray and ask God to help us see His faithful love all over the story of our lives as we reflect together.
Let’s Pray: Lord I’m amazed by You. The pandemic doesn’t stop You and the powers of hell cannot prevail against You or the plans You have for Your children. I’m grateful today God that the grave couldn’t hold you any longer and that you’re not finished – You’re not done- even when the coroner says life is done. You’re not done when breath stops coming out of our lungs – that’s the exact moment when you begin new life again. Help us God to see that important message today – That You are not finished with the story of our lives here. Help us to see that our March 13th, 2020 doesn’t have to define the rest of our lives. Today on March 13, 2021, we are choosing to start the day looking for Your love written on the pages of our lives through this past year. Today, help us to carry on doing all that we can do while we can do it: loving, caring, laughing, crying, living, writing, speaking, doing, releasing, embracing, and repeating. Loving Lord of Life, we surrender and ask You to do what only You can do in this moment. Thank you for caring for us and for loving us through every circumstance and season of life and death and life renewed. Amen.
Today, much like I started last year on this very day, I’m going to do what I can: Wake up to write, to love, to care, to hope, to let go, and to honor my Dad, all while worshipping Our Father God. Today as I’m jogging my memory thinking about Dad, I’m choosing to think about how he loved his kids – all of them. I’ll remember how he loved his grandkids and great -grandkids – all of them. Even the ones he never got to see and even the future ones he didn’t get to know. As I reflect, I’ll recall God’s powerful love over us – love from the Father’s heart. Love that doesn’t quit, love that doesn’t stop. Love that will never fail.
Friends, thank you for sticking with me through this very long post. And if you find yourself aching today or even rejoicing, and you don’t know what else to do or what else’s to pray, just worship. Even if you have to just mouth the words until sound comes out- just worship. With cracking voice and through tear-stained eyes, just worship the Lord. I’ll be doing the same.
Let’s remember that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not even death. And more than ever before, I am convinced of it.
peace – liz:)
Go The Extra Mile: Check out this amazing song from Church of the City! It is a constant reminder that God is our hope and He keeps hope ALIVE! Listen to it, put it on repeat, and sing it out today!
I’ve been going down memory lane for the last few weeks:). Mostly because I want to remember what I looked like without anti-aging cream or other additives applied to my face!
But for real, since I recently celebrated my 41st birthday and I’ve been looking over the course of my life. The early years, the ones in the middle thus far, and the most recent. As I was looking through old photos, or remembering times past, not one time did I wish to go back. I’ve often heard friends say they’d love to have the energy they did as a twenty -something, but with the wisdom of their forties. Agreed. I don’t want to return to my younger years. I’ve never heard anyone want to return to all the hormones of teenage years and high school drama or even the early years of adulting. No thank you:). To be honest, I kind of like the age I’m at.
Those years were good, but they aren’t the best years of my life. They have been the best years FOR my life.
I can look back to being a little girl in Ms. Richard’s 2nd grade class and receiving an A+ on a poem assignment, knowing that it meant something special to me. What was the poem supposed to be about? It was free choice and 2nd grade little me wrote about life & death. Yup, that’s a glimpse at 2nd grade me:).
I remember receiving some paperwork from high school around graduation time and on the paper it said in bold lettering, that I was, “Endorsed in Reading. Endorsed in Writing.” I have no clue what else it said or if everyone’s said that, but those words jumped off the page and into my heart.
I remember early days of ministry training, traveling a lot and sleeping a little, then full time ministry learning to stay in one place while still learning to develop roots in a town I never thought I would live in. I also remember learning to create family friends in new places like a real adult.
I remember real conversations, hard decisions, situations and circumstances in which I didn’t know how to process all that was going on around us, and big moves that grew us up in more ways than one.
Memories & moments that formed and informed my way of thinking. Moments & memories that challenged and strengthened my way of connecting with God and times that built up my prayer life.
Have you ever walked down memory lane friend? Can you see the years that were the best FOR your life?
Our lives may not all seem like monumental years with big wins or huge successes. Maybe they are years filled with little glimpses of hope, or dark moments where now you can see some light among the shadows. Friend, wherever you find yourself today, know that your story matters, and the years of your life are worth looking over and celebrating too.
Hold onto that promise above from God’s Word. In fact, go check out the full chapter of Psalm 23 – you won’t regret it.
Over the next few weeks, we will look at some of our best years together. I hope you’ll join me and invite a friend to come along too. It’ll be a worthwhile journey.
Let’s Pray: DearHeavenly Father, we know You to be the Giver and Sustainer of life, and in many of our stories, we may look back and see times of feeling just sustained. Lord, as we look over our lives this month, will You help us to see the moments that were so good for us- especially the ones where we haven’t been able to see the good quite yet. We desire to live lives today that are full of good fruit- lives that are full of blessing and not regret; lives full of hope and not full of bitterness. In this new month, we give You these years that we have already experienced and even the years ahead, asking that if You can use any of it for Your glory, that You would. Lord help us to have eyes to see the lessons and the important parts through Your lens of love. Help us to see who in our story was a source of strength and hope for the us as encouragers. Help our hearts to grow closer to You as we learn together how events and experiences shaped us into who we are today. May we continue to learn how You’ll use our life stories to lead others into knowing You- Our loving and generous Father. And may we grow more and more into the people You dreamt us to be. Amen.
peace – liz:)
Go The Extra Mile: Check out this song by Josh Baldwin – I kid you not, it has encouraged me during my own walk down memory lane – We CAN see the evidence of God’s goodness when we look over our lives because Jesus changed everything when He died on the cross and rose from the grave. Listen and be encouraged today friends!
Hello & Happy Belated New Year TrueLife Friends! I can’t believe we are almost finished with month one of this new year, yet here we are!
When I was a kid I thought 2021 would look a lot differently. You know, flying cars, smell-o-vision on our tv screens, and such:).
In some ways life looks completely different than childhood dreams. For one, I do not have a flying car…yet;). In many ways, it looks different because we are still in the midst of (you guessed it!) a pandemic. That’s the obvious, but what are we going to do about it?
In keeping with personal tradition, I choose to greet this new year with some hope and a new word for the year. I like lists and goals but I also like something small enough I can write on my hand (yes, I’m one of those people, haha) to remember daily. It serves as a reminder, a compass to offer direction when I need it most.
Our words don’t have to be inspirational – though they can be. We can also choose silly words to remember to have fun in this new year, or we can choose words that challenge us to our core. Words that have meaning or words that remind us we can complete what we’ve committed to. So what’s my word?
Humble. My word for 2021 is Humble.
No, my word does not mean that I am always humble, or that I’ve got this attitude of humility nailed down yet. It does mean that in everything that I feel God is asking of me, I want to approach it with a humble heart that yields, responds, and surrenders to all that He wants. His will, and not my own.
Last year my words (yep, you can choose more than one), were Speak & Train Up. I chose them in February 2020, not knowing what the rest of last year would look like. Not knowing the grief we would expereince at personal and global levels- not knowing the courage & confidence we would all need to cling to. Throughout 2020 God gave me opportunities to speak along the way and opportunities to train others a few times too. Not immediately or even when I thought he would. Not even in the ways I thought possible (thank you Zoom & Google Meet).
Yet, He did.
A key verse that I kept coming back to last year was this:
“He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17 CSB)
HE is before all things. Includiung this year.
By HIM all things are being held together….including us dear friends.
So here’s my question: What is YOUR WORD?
What word will remind you of what you’d like to do this year? Or, who you’d like to be or become? I want to hear your words friends. I want to see how you are responding to a new year ahead while reflecting on what has past. Be sure to share your words below!
I can’t wait to hear from you and see all the words that God impresses on your heart. Friends, I’m so grateful for this past year – all of the good and all of the hard, all of the small victories and big wins, all of the time inside because of time in the “Q” or time outside getting fresh air…all of it. Why? Because all of it makes me appreciate all of this year so much more.
Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we do not know what this new year holds. What we do know is that YOU will remain faithful because that is who YOU are. You’re faithful, and good, and full of love. You are gracious and compassionate. You are holy and perfect and You hold all things together. You hold us together God. In this new year, help us to look for the ways You want us to grow and recognize the gifts we’ve already been given. Help our hearts to stay focused on You as You lead and guide us each and every day. If we are still trying to find a word that helps us remember your goodness and all that you’re asking of us in 2021, help us to find it and hold onto it. If we’ve already chosen a word, help us to share it with those around us to help us and encourage other on our journey. This year, we choose to trust You and Your plans. We remind ourselves that Your ways are better and higher than our ways and we pray for Your ways to be the desire of our hearts. Help us daily to become more and more like You in all we say and do in 2021. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: Check out this song by CrossPoint Music . “Lean Back” by Crosspoint has been on repeat for me, lead by one of our all-time favorite worship leaders -the one & only Mr. Setnick Sene! I hope it encourages you and reminds you of our Loving Heavenly Father as we continue to walk through 2021 together!
Dreams…I’m not talking about the ones that come and go as we sleep. I’m talking about the ones that start the day we get the positive pregnancy test. The ones that we don’t even realize are taking hold in our hearts in a deep and permanent way. These dreams grow and change as our babies grow and change. They get lived out right before our very eyes in the eyes of our son or daughters.
Often the dreams we have are challenged by the world around us, by circumstances and even by our children because without knowing it we are handing this dream over to our children. We don’t even know we are doing it. But it is happening. When they strap on that backpack that is way too big for their little 5 year old body. When they learn to ride a bike, make their own lunch, go on their first sleepover, go on their first date, wear their first work uniform, and start making plans to leave our home. They are learning to own their own dream and we are moving towards this moment. The leaving that God has so wisely designed.
This is part of the gig, right? We know this even before we have children. We know they will leave our homes. We jump in knowing this and yet when we get to this point it becomes heart wrenching. As moms and dads, we have willingly and lovingly given so much of ourselves in raising these young people. So much has gone into the process to get them to this point. It leaves us without words at times. Sometimes all we have are tears. So many tears. Tears of joy because we are so proud of them. Tears of sadness because we just want one more minute of chubby fingers and sticky cuddles. Tears of gratitude because God trusted us to raise these amazing humans. Tears of fear because what if we didn’t do enough. Tears of faith and hope.
Here’s the thing. This heart ache is a part of the dream. They are leaving because we were enough. We gave them so much in all those years. They are leaving home because they are strong enough to take this step. We have helped them pack those bags. All those years on our knees praying for wisdom that felt like it didn’t come. While we were walking in faith, not always knowing if we were doing things well, God was doing what only He can do (Roman 8:26). Not only was He sustaining us but He was also imparting His strength to them (Ephesians 3:16).
It is now our time to grieve our role changes, walk shoulder to shoulder with our young people and continue to pray on our knees. God sees the ways our heart aches, He sees all of our tears, collects them, and records them all (Psalm 56:8). He sees our kids as they walk into a new season of their lives, He has a plan to sustain them, His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9).
As your tears start to subside I pray you will see the hope in the ache. As the dream evolves and takes up a new place in our heart may we walk in faith and expectation for the new joys to come. For the Lord restores our soul (Psalm 23:3). There is such goodness in this process. May you take the time to be in God’s presence with it, to let Him counsel you with His Spirit and His word. Release your tears for His safe keeping, be still, and wait expectantly on the Lord (Exodus 14:14 and Psalm 27:14) for He is good.
Meet the Author: Davina is a life-long learner, lover of books and great coffee. Being a 4w5 on the enneagram she loves equal parts time with friends and time alone. She is also the only woman in a house of men. She is happily raising 3 boys alongside her husband, two dogs, and one cat.
Liz’s Note: I can’t say enough about this amazing friend of mine! She’s been such an inspiration to my faith journey and instrumental in my journey of motherhood! Not only that, Davina has been such an encouragement and support throughout my writing journey, and for that I am so so thankful. I’m also grateful for the friendship God has allowed us to cultivate over these past several years over coffee and deep conversations. What an honor to have her heart and message shared on the blog today! -liz
Go The Extra Mile: Trust me when I say that it’s the exact song for this specific season of parenthood. Do yourself a huge favor and listen to it all the way through and think of the journey you are experiencing with your senior students and those who are heading towards that season. It’s such a fitting song and we know it will bless you today.
I recently remembered an old movie I watched called, “Scaramouche“. It’s a classic and if you haven’t seen it, you totally should. With buttered popcorn…and peanut m&m’s:).
There’s a great scene where the main character is learning how to fence. The instructor tells him to hold the foil like a little bird, “too tightly- you’ll choke it, too lightly- it will fly away.”
Hold it like a little bird.
In the last few months, we’ve walked our children through some crazy and unpredictable times. This year, we have a a little guy who’s entering 3rd grade, a freshman in high school, and a freshman who just moved to college. But when this whole pandemic began, those same children entered the school year as a 2nd grader, 9th grader, and you guessed it- a senior from the Class of 2020. Daily we would find ourselves having to learn to hold the days like that little bird mentioned above, firm yet gentle. The tighter we gripped, the more we felt things almost vanish and be ripped from our children’s school year; the more loosely we held it it seemed to just kind of fall between the cracks of our hands.
Like many of us all over the world, we weren’t sure how to adapt and adjust. We weren’t sure how long this season would last. We weren’t sure of much at the time however, we knew we had to find a way to still hold onto the good in the midst of all the bad and difficult that seemed to surround us.
In the movie I mentioned, the main character eventually developed the skill needed for the task at hand. He became a great fencer, and was able to anticipate the next move of his opponent & and adjust his next move accordingly. In my humble opinion, our role as parents in this season is much like that of a fencer- we must learn to hold onto God’s Word as we adapt and adjust to the challenges that will come – and they will come friend. Try as we might, we cannot fix these experiences for our children. What we can do is demonstrate to our children what is of most importance: Holding firmly to God’s Word & trusting in His promises. Ultimately, we must learn to hold onto hope with them for God’s best, even when the season we find ourselves in changes and plans have to be adjusted.
Friend, this new school year will be unlike any other. It won’t be normal, but we have the advantage – we can cheer each other on! Heck, we ourselves are still walking through all of this with you.
You, dear friend, are guiding and leading your kiddos into the unknown (cue Elsa from Disney’s Frozen!). Especially your seniors! The class of 2021 was granted a front row seat to watch their upperclassmen walk through a difficult season. Classes went remote. Lockers were cleaned out with the hope of returning. The return was cancelled. Classes finished online. Graduations & continuations were cancelled. Graduations and continuations became Drive-thru and online experiences. Some didn’t even get to have a ceremony. We were super blessed that our district was able to put ceremonies together in July (#weared51). And yes, it was crazy hot and we cried through the whole thing. It was worth it to see our sweet girl experience a dream come true even if it looked different than once imagined.
All of those experiences happened for a reason- to prepare your students, Class of 2021 (and you too, mama), for this season. Seasons change; that’s what they do. I think that’s why I love Fall so much is because you can visibly see the changes occurring in nature. Leaves change color and float to the ground. Fruit that was once on those same trees can be enjoyed later because they have been preserved. I truly believe that in this school year, as experiences continue to change, we will get to see some preservation. We just have to hold onto God and choose how we will respond to life as it happens.
Milestones can still be momentous and the experiences of this year can still be epic.
To your students, I say this: Hold onto the joy that this season can still bring. It might look totally different than you could’ve imagined but, you can do it. Whether learning remotely or in person, in a hybrid way or even homeschooling for this season, you have the opportunity to learn from those who literally walked before you and approach your school year with complete trust in God.
Parents of this new school year- Hold on. Class of 2021 -Hold on.
Friends, you and I get to choose how we will enter this season and how we will respond to ever-changing circumstances. Will we huff and puff and be mad at every turn because one more thing has been stripped away from our children’s experience? Or will we sing and even give thanks for how God will use these moments of loss for His glory? Let’s choose wisely friends. May we hold onto each other with gentleness and grace as we stick together and hold on to Him.
Let’s Pray:Dear Heavenly Father, today we just want to thank You for the strength You provide for us. Thank You Lord for enabling us to hold onto You and Your promises in the midst of all that we experience in this life. Lord, we choose today to hold Your Word deep within our hearts. It’s so easy to become frustrated at this new normal we are all experiencing, but You Lord, have offered us a better way – You’ve offered us the choice to put our hope in You. Today we know that this school year will not be like any we have experienced before. Lord, we surrender our expectations and ideas of this school year to You. We know that You are still providing ways and opportunities for us to stretch our faith and trust in Your plans. When our arms feel weak from the tasks of each day, help us to hold them up in surrender and worship to You. When our hearts and minds feel overwhelmed with decisions we are making for our children or with our children, help us to hold onto Your peace as we navigate this road together. Lord, help our eyes to see the joy that still remains and to help redirect the eyes and focus of our children – that they too may focus on the joy and beauty of this season as you prepare all of us for the seasons ahead. We trust You and invite You to do Your will in our lives and in the lives of our children. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: This song below has been on my current playlist for a few weeks now…the chorus invites us to surrender and invite God to do whatever He wants to do. Friend, I pray this song blesses your heart and places hope deep within you. His way is better.
BONUS MATERIAL: Here is a pic of us with our 2020 Graduate on her actual graduation day. It happened almost 2 months later than planned but it happened! Praise God!
Ya’ll seriously need to get this book into your hands!
I have been honored to be a part of the launch team for Jo Saxton’s new book, “Ready to Rise“! I was excited to be a part of the team because I am a HUGE fan of her voice and her leadership (and she’s from the UK!), and I was blown away by the message she shares and the next steps she provides to help us all RISE..
If you are a woman in leadership, work with women in leadership, minister alongside women in leadership, wonder if you have any gifts to use in leadership or want to help your young daughters grow into all that God has for them & their gifts, do yourself a favor and buy the book. It has been a blessing to me as a mom, wife, writer, and mother.
Here is my personal review:
“So So Good!!! This book is exactly what I needed in this season of leadership! I’m so glad I got my hands on it and I am so thankful that I was able to share it with my daughters who are growing into womanhood & leadership! Jo Saxton has a way of delivering a powerful message we all need to hear, asking the questions we all need in order to grow into leadership AND help us with the game plan to move forward with our village!”
I have a rather large pile of party decorations sitting in the corner of my dining room. Graduation decorations to be exact. Red and silver balloons, confetti, maps, globes, suitcases, you name it – I have it.
My eldest daughter is a senior this year and I’ve been collecting the decorations for her party for months now. Her heart is to travel and I wanted to be sure we captured that spirit of adventure when we decorated. She, like many others, has an adventure up ahead.
But the adventures, and even the celebrations ahead will look differently than any of us could have anticipated.
We’ve all been feeling the loss of unmet expectations. Our seniors were expected to walk across the stage and have their name called. I was expected to cheer so loud that I would embarrass my daughter and family sitting with me. We were expecting to throw a massive party with numerous friends and family making the trip to celebrate. We were expecting to capture all the important “lasts” of her final year of high school, all the “lasts” of our middle daughter’s final year of middle school, and the final days of our son’s 2nd grade year. We expected to take pictures of graduations, continuations, and end-of-year swimming parties. But everything has changed and will look differently moving forward.
We’ve had tears from learning the school year would be finishing up here at our house instead of in the hallways of their schools, and we’ve had lots of sighs because we’ve been feeling all the feelings.
We’ve also had the following:
We’ve been blessed to video chat with our family and friends catch up on life. Seeing faces and hearing voices makes such a difference!
We’ve had face masks that were lovingly made and delivered to our doorstep by our church family.
We’ve had beautiful yard signs made and delivered by friends to honor our senior girl.
Cake pops were delivered to our middle girl by a friend from her middle school – out of the blue.
Meals and treats have been delivered to us by friends across town and across the state.
A Surprise Easter Egg Hunt was lovingly delivered and placed in our front yard for our kids to enjoy on Easter Sunday.
More than just these wonderful expressions of love, we’ve had hope delivered to our hearts.
Yes, everything we expected to do won’t happen quite like we planned. But believe me when I tell you:
Our Seniors will still graduate.
Our middle schoolers will still continue on to High School.
Our littles will still finish out their school year with the excitement they always have with summer ahead.
Above all, Our God will remain faithful. That’s who He is.
Those events and celebrations will happen, they will just look differently than we expected.
But in the midst of this, we can still find hope, celebrate, and find reasons to discover joy.
Celebrations will look differently for all of us. At our house, we are going to do our best to throw a backyard Prom, a Drive-Thru graduation Party for local fam & friends, an 8th grade Continuation Dance, and a 2nd grade End of Year Party. Why? Because celebrations still matter and I can’t let this crappy virus steal any more from my kids.
Our senior girl will still dress up in her Cap & Gown because Caps & Gowns Matter and if you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that message means a lot to me. If you are new to the blog, here is another reason why it matters: Click here.
This time of being at home has definitely felt like a loss in many ways, but I also feel as if God is giving us back so much.
He’s supplying our needs.
He is providing us strength and new mercy every single day.
He is helping us to think creatively about how to make the most of our time, and how to connect with others in our community.
He is sustaining us with His love and quieting our minds with His peace.
He is making His love known and His gospel accessible through things like online worship experiences, through food banks being open, and through community outreach programs for all who have been affected.
He is helping our entire world
He is giving us a chance to see the world through different eyes, and giving us the opportunity to respond to the needs of those around us as best as we can with what we already have.
Friend, if you are reading this anywhere in the world today, chances are, you’ve felt loss at some level during this pandemic. I’d even venture to say you have felt a lot of loss. Whether it be personal loss, or feeling the weight from what your children have lost, we are all walking through this together. A beautiful reminder that we are not alone.
My hope for us is that we reflect the love we have been given and the hope that has been delivered to us. That our children, young and old, can watch how we respond to unmet expectations. I pray that our families would see the resilience that comes from thinking about doing celebrations differently. Moving forward may not look the same as in times past, but that is probably a good thing. I keep hearing leaders say the same thing, “Do we want to go back to the way things were?”. I don’t want to go back to normal- I want to grow through this whole experience and learn to look at life and people differently.
As we inch closer and closer to the dates that these celebrations would’ve been taking place, let’s be mindful to show those around us that we too can hold onto hope while walking through uncertainty. We can still seek God while we wait for Him to move in and around us. We can shout for joy while we wait for restrictions to lift. We can honor the achievements of those we love while providing for the needs of those around us. It’s not one or the other; it can be both. It must be both. Here in this image is the verse I am praying over you, and today, let’s all begin to pray it over each other:
Do you have a senior or someone special you;d like us to celebrate with you in this season? Tell us about them in the comments!
This Easter was definitely a different experience altogether. Being a family in ministry, we are so accustomed to getting ready early and worshipping with our church family in person. This year, while getting ready in the early morn, a friend messaged us saying there were eggs in our front year for a surprise-egg hunt for our kids. That’s when my heart was overwhelmed with joy.
We have some amazing friends in our lives that blessed our kids and made their day bright because of the lavish love and thoughtfulness of friends who know that for kiddos, these ever-changing times can be overwhelming. It was a beautiful reminder to them, and to us, that we are not forgotten and that goodness is still happening in our community.
The entire fam was up and ready before our first online service began, so our kiddos went out to find the candy-filled eggs (hooray for chocolate!), and then we began our online worship experience. We are very used to hugging our church fam as they walk through the doors and in this time of experiencing Easter from home, it was beautiful to see friends and family near and far stream in and hop on to our worship experience with us. We were able to say hello to friends and family in different time zones, and hear from God’s Word together. We hosted our own watch party for each service and every time a new friend or family member joined online, my heart began to swell with joy. I’m so thankful that our services are live-streamed and our pastoral team made the online experience feel like we were home at Junction Community Church.
This pandemic isn’t stopping us from getting together. No, in fact, this time where we are all sequestered is proving to serve as a time where we are digging in our heels and learning new rhythms of community. Especially as the church; we are learning new ways to express and demonstrate our faith and embracing new ways to engage and develop our community.
For this, I am so grateful.
Another exciting experience we got to be a part of yesterday was a “Virtual Choir”. You have to know- a huge piece of our heart is for the city of Sumter, South Carolina. God allowed us to serve as youth pastors there a number of years ago (I know that’s vague- but if I tell you the number of years I will feel really old, lol). So, when our dear friend and brother asked for friends to help join his church’s virtual choir for Easter, we couldn’t resist. My husband, my oldest daughter, and I were all able to participate, and when we saw the finished product…again, my heart was filled with incredible joy. There were familiar faces of friends in the choir that we haven’t been able to physically worship with in years because of distance. But yesterday, we were able to worship together. It was a powerful experience and I am honored that we got to partner with such an amazing group of worshippers.
I wanted to share it with you – first, because number one: you are part of my community. And two: because I am blown away by how beautiful it is to see the church being the church and bringing the hope of Christ to everyone, virtually everywhere. This experience made us feel so deeply connected to the body of Christ near and far, so I hope it also brings joy to you wherever you get to watch it from.
Easter may be finished, but let me assure you – the story continues dear friend.
How beautiful to know that we were all loved so much by God that He did in fact send His Son Jesus to die for our sins. And not only did He do that hard and painful work of suffering and dying on the cross for our sins, but He conquered death and gives us new life in Him. He resurrected to give us that new life and ascended to The Father so that He could send the Comforter, The Holy Spirit, to fill us with His power.
Friend, we might all be staying home, but we do not have to let our story end at home. Our story in Christ continues. And because He lives, we too can live, being moved to action by the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. This verse was a part of my reading today and I found it fitting for us:
My prayer is that during this time, we would wait on God and seek to be empowered by His Spirit, to move into action using your unique gifts and abilities. Just like the disciples of old, let’s wait and pray; seek God and continue to love others well.
Easter may have been different this year, but sometimes different is good. It definitely made us appreciate the rich and vibrant community of faith and family we have both near and far. It also brought to mind the unique opportunity we have been given during this time of staying home: time to slow down and embrace a new way of experiencing God’s presence and a new perspective on how we can still connect with our family and friends during holidays.
From my family to yours, I hope you know you are remembered and loved and created on purpose for a purpose. Our story continues friend, so let’s keep doing what we can with the time we’ve been given.
Go The Extra Mile: In case you are searching for an online worship experience, please know that I am personally inviting you to join me at Junction Community Church online Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. (MST), and Sundays at 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.. You can also check out previous messages and services on our YouTube channel. I’d love for you to join me online!
Almost one month ago, I gathered with my family as we walked and are still walking through an incredibly difficult moment in our lives – the passing of our father. There aren’t words to describe the amount of loss we felt then and still feel even now. It hurts. It’s an ache I can’t even put it into words. Watching our earthly father draw his last earthly breath and enter into eternity with Jesus was painful. But there was something beautiful happening at the same time: Our dad was transitioning to a new life, completely whole and healed, dancing on the streets of heaven.
The tears burned as they poured out of our faces and we all cried aloud, lamented, and felt the absence of his presence with us. Pair that with the fact that we can’t have a Celebration of Life service for him because of the current restrictions from this pandemic, which many others are experincing right now. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but even in the misdt of this pain, I can’t help but thank God for His very real presence in that room that night. And His healing presence still meets us each morning; when we wake up feeling the loss come in waves over us, He is there. On the good days and the really really hard days (because grief comes and it hits when you don’t expect it), He is still here, right next to us. Our God is always on call.
Our Great Physician doesn’t sleep or take breaks – the psalmist says he is close to the broken hearted.:
He even promises to be with us until the very end of the age.
Do you ever think we avoid Our Great Physician as much as we do our earthly ones? Does the pain we feel inside feel altogether too much to pour out to Him as he intakes our emotional, mental, and physical history?
I think we often try to run from the ache of the pain- from the ache of the evaluation of our ourselves, and also from the pain or suffering we might have to endure in order to feel healed and whole again.
Don’t run friend. Don’t avoid the powerful and healing love of God that reaches the very source of our suffering.
Sometimes the remedy is as simple as a prayer of surrender. Other times it takes some work and therapy on our part: like making that phone call, getting ourselves into therapy, or forgiving those who have wounded us in some way, even when that someone is us. These steps must be done without delay – especially in this everchanging season when so many are canceling events and postponing gatherings, those phone calls and next right steps could be incredibly healing (more on that in an upcoming post).
Let’s call on The Lord in prayer; let’s surrender to His ways. Let’s ask Him for the wisdom to make that next right step – then, let’s make the next right step. Make the appointment (even if it has to be through video conferencing because of this current Covid-19 situation). Let’s make the phone calls we’ve have been wanting & needing to make. Let’s listen closely to that voice that cannot be replicated in text messages. If an apology is needed, let’s give it gladly and with sincere love. If forgiveness is required, let us give it graciously and abundantly. Whatever we need to do, let’s do it together because pain & suffering do not have the final say in our stories.
Friend, we don’t have to manage pain with avoidance or denial when Our Loving Father is on call 24/7. Our Great Physician has more than just our physical form in his sight. Our mental, emotional, and spiritual state matter to Him because He designed us and formed us. My prayer today is for all of us to remember that Jesus is well acquainted with pain and suffering. In fact, that’s what we are remembering today, this Good Friday of Holy week:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from;[b] he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for[c] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6 CSB)
Take heart friend, Jesus has already paid it all- for our forgiveness of sin and for our complete healing of mind, body, & soul. All of it has been completely covered by his plan. And no surprise bills come in the mail.
He’s a specialist and the best in every way. What a Savior! What a Surgeon! What a Healer we have!
Let’s Pray– Lord, on this Good Friday, we choose to remember that You are still Good. You know exactly what pain and suffering look like and feel like. We thank You for understanding us and our circumstances even better than we do. Lord, You see the entirety of us all- our past, our present and our future. Lord, when pain rises up in front of us we pray for the strength to run into Your arms. We are done running away from the hurt and the anguish. Our desire today is to run full-force into Your embrace as we pour out our hearts to You. We are done feeling alone in this – because You have already promised to never leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the very end of the age. Help our hearts to hold onto Your truth this morning! We don’t want to walk around avoiding pain- this world is full of brokenness and experiences that wreck our hearts. Lord, we come to You, knowing that You fully understand, and knowing that we can turn to You in our pain and brokenness. Thank You for Your love that walks us through it step by step, moment by moment, so we can live lives that are healed and whole. We will remember Your sacrifice for our salvation and for our healing today. And Lord, let us not forget that You didn’t avoid the pain of the cross or the depths of the grave; You finished the painful work because of Your great love for us. We are loved by You Lord, and we love You and thank You today for embracing us in the pain and through the healing, Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: We’ve been singing this song recently and it often comes to mind these days, so give it a listen and I pray it encourages you!
This post is dedicated to our amazing Daddy, Ricardo B. Sanchez
In the past few weeks we’ve covered the often misplaced emotions that can dwell inside of us, the portions of our hearts that still need the warmth and light of God’s love, and the challenge of learning how to pour out our hearts to God. Definitely not lightweight material. But remember, since we are trying to live our lives in truth and honesty before God, these are the things that should get our attention.
Not to violate our hearts or to make us feel shame, but so that we can begin to feel hope rise up and walk in victory.
Our life isn’t just for us friends. As long as we are on this earth, we each have a mission to carry out. We can either do so by living this life with hearts that are broken and hurt or, we can live with hearts full of life, hope, and healing.
The choice is ours to make.
I wanted to share a portion of my daily devotion with you today. Just the notes I took from the study I am currently working through. This morning, I was reading through passages in the Bible and the repeated pattern I saw was that the people of God also had a heart condition with the following symptoms:
-Hardened hearts, hearts that didn’t fear The Lord, stubborn & rebellious hearts, and hearts that they allowed to lead them astray.
These might have been the symptoms from a people long ago, but friend, I can hold up the magnifying glass of scripture and find those attributes in myself. Can you too?
All those symptoms stem from the same place: The Heart. This heart condition also comes with a warning from The Great Physician Himself:
“Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in wilderness where your fathers tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (Psalm 95:8)
Do not harden your hearts.
What’s even greater? There is a treatment and prescription for this condition:
Worship & Bow Down. Kneel Before Our Maker in Surrender.
Because there is a world in need around us, waiting for us to heal so we can bring life, healing, and hope in Jesus’ Name.
Friends, below is my prayer from this morning. Real and honest. And if you’ve stayed with me this far, I invite you to pray it with me. Let this be OUR prayer today as we wrap up this series and continue this lesson. I don’t want to be the Queen of Hearts. I want to surrender to The King of Kings.
Let’s Pray: Lord, help our hearts to be softened to You alone. We don’t want to repeat history again with hardened hearts. We don’t want to be negligent of this condition that can overtake so quickly and destroy so much. We will come to You in worship and surrender, with joy, because You are God and King Most High. We will yield to You in reverence Holy Spirit, and come to You in worship as we bow down to counter act the hardness in our hearts. Thank You Lord for helping us to understand that we can give You total control of all that is within us, because You know how to care for those who belong to You. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and the music selections I’ve been adding – I’ve enjoyed creating these posts for us here on the blog, and I LOVE MUSIC! This song holds a special place in my heart, and I hope it meets you right where you are today:)
I’m a huge fan of British shows and all things UK and one show that I found intriguing was “The Crown”. One particular episode caught my attention because it had another one of my favorite things: letters. In this episode, the brother (Edward) who had abdicated the throne was featured showcasing his attempts to find work and move back closer to the family. A few of the scenes showed him at a desk at the end of the night, writing out his thoughts and feelings to his dear wife- the one he chose and the one he shared everything with. It struck me. Not because of the content he was writing, but the faithfulness to this routine which many of us might not be familiar with: Pouring our hearts out at the end of the night.
I know this to be true: When we don’t pour out our hearts to God first, we end up with hearts overflowing with all kinds of unresolved feelings.
Let’s hit the switch.
I have a challenge for us this week: Instead ending our days throwing around hurt and complaints, I want us to pour out our hearts. Just as a warm cup of tea is slowly poured into the vessel it is being served, let’s slowly pour out:
the thoughts that we know are holding us captive,
the situations beyond our control,
the conversations and assumptions we have held in our heart,
the inner messages that we keep on playing that we know are lies and not truth,
the hurt that we’ve been hanging onto and holding against others,
and anything else that’s tried to make its home inside of our hearts.
Pour it out. All of it. Every single drop.
Holding onto all those things is a habit that we think gives us control. The truth is, we don’t have control. We have pieces of hurt and pain. We have pieces of frustration and anger. We have pieces of fear and anxiety. And each piece, is like a habit of laying bricks – thinking that it is keeping us safe when in actuality, we’ve imprisoned ourselves. What we thought was a defense system actually isolated our hearts from those we love and those who love us. It also separates us from God- because we’ve tried and tried to handle this habit in our own strength without sharing it with Him.
Friend, I want to remind you that God isn’t afraid of all that we’ve bottled up or built up in our hearts. He’s not. He actually invites us to come to Him:
He desires to spend time with us and that we spend time with Him, pouring out our hearts. We see this even when creation was perfect – God came down to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the Day (Genesis 3:8). To walk and talk. Even after the fall, God still wanted mankind to share life with Him. Not just the pieces of our heart that can rejoice when life is going well, but He also wants to share life with us and hear us pour out the hurts and break the habits that have been holding us back from experiencing His best for our lives.
Our hearts matter to Him friend. They matter to him and they matter in eternity. How we use them, what we choose to hold onto, what we choose to let take root, what we treasure in them- all of it matters.
So what will you pour out to Him today?
Will we let go of that which entangles us today?
I’m raising my hands friend- I want to pour out my heart to Him. I’m hoping you do too. I’m telling you the honest truth- my heart is heavy right now. As each little piece of our heart (yours and mine) trickles out to Him, it gets easier and easier to pour out the rest, like a steady stream.
Let’s Pray: Lord, let everything within us come out to you first, as an offering of surrender. We surrender our hearts to You in this moment. We surrendered to Your love and Your light that shines bright in the dark places. We surrender to a Your Truth that shows us a better way. We surrender to Your loving arms that welcome us in and hold us together when everything else feels like it is falling apart. We are done holding it all in, and we declare that we are ready to pour our hearts out to You so that in turn, You can use our lives to be poured out in service for Your glory. God, we thank You for the finished work of Jesus that allows us to be healed and made new. We accept it and we will choose to give you the praise for the healing that is taking place deep inside of us as we pour out our hearts to You. Amen.
peace – liz
Go The Extra Mile: Check out one of my absolute favorite messages in this song from The Belonging Co! The lyrics, “I don’t want it if You’re not in it I just want You…Your heart, Your ways, show me Your face…” that’s the whole point behind this series- to align our hearts to look and operate more like His and to become more intentional about our relationship with Him.
These past few weeks in Colorado have dropped snow in our high country and even rain down here where I live. Just outside my dining room window, I can see in the distance frosty white blankets of snow on top of the beautiful Grand Mesa. Add a warm cup of coffee, and you are set for a picturesque morning. Add coffee to any morning and you are set for just about anything:). Anyhow, coffee is great and my state of Colorado looks lovely with snow. This wintery week made me think back to a memory I had just a couple months ago:
While traveling over the mountains and through the plains of Colorado, my family and I saw piles of snow plowed off to the side of the highway, and fields covered in thick bright – white flakes of snow. The sight was so bright that it had me reaching for my sunglasses. Which, I conveniently forgot at home (yay me). One sight that I couldn’t get out of my mind while driving: the areas around the mountains that never seem to experience direct sunlight. The snow always seems to stick longer there; the ice underneath doesn’t melt when everything else around it does. Those drifts of snow and ice seem to be covered in shadow most of the time- not exposed to the brilliance of full-light, but they do feel the effects of the light a little later in the season. As I stared out the window while driving, I had my husband jot down a note for me so I wouldn’t lose my train of thought (thank you hubs!):
There are places in our hearts that feel much like those cold and dark areas with snow and ice. Places that are in need of the warmth of God’s love and renewal; places that never quite feel sunny or bright. They often come tethered to choices and situations that feel more like a dangerous slope than a beautiful winter wonderland. These places within us may not directly feel the sunlight instantly melting away the bitter and frozen-over parts in our hearts, but we must not forget- they are indirectly affected by the light and movement around them.
Friends, I don’t know what nook you may find yourself in today- be it cold and keeping you numb or stuck in dangerous patterns of behavior. We may not know when that area will have a melt from the warmth around us, but we can know this: God’s love IS all around and His light CAN pierce through the dark shadows to bring warmth and hope for new seasons of life ahead.
Even when we can’t see it.
Even when it feels like there isn’t any change.
Even when it feels like everyone and everywhere else is experiencing His brilliance and His presence.
He is right there where we are.
He is bringing change in and around us.
His presence is very near, even in the places where the sun doesn’t always shine.
This is my prayer for you today, and if I’m being honest, it’s for me too.
Let’s Pray:Heavenly Father, You alone are the only One that can search the depths of our hearts. You can see the areas that You are working in so much better than we can. We are thankful that You continue to work in us and all around us. Today Lord, help us to know that You are still near in the seasons of life that don’t always feel bright and brilliant. There are areas of our hearts that desperately need Your light to flood them, and cold corners in us that still need the warmth of your love. In all of those spaces, in whatever season we find ourselves today, help our hearts know that You are near. We want to live lives that display the warmth of Your love and the hope and peace that comes from experiencing Your process of healing. Help us to focus on the light and love we do see happening in and around us so that we can remind ourselves of Your promise to make all things new – even the spots that look lifeless and scary- You are still able to breathe hope and security into them. God, we choose to trust that You are working within us- in the places where the sun hasn’t quite shown its face, and in the places all around it. You are Good, Faithful, Loving, and Kind, and we will believe that Your timing is perfect – illuminating our hearts to the realization of Your nearness. Thank you Lord for the reminder that You aren’t afraid of our cold and closed off areas. I pray that in this season, You would make our hearts ready for the bright seasons ahead- so we can allow You to continue to work in us with the light of Your Truth. Thank you for being the King of our hearts Lord; help us to never take your presence for granted. In Your Holy Name Jesus, Amen.”
Peace – liz
Go The Extra Mile: This is one of my favorite songs from Hillsong United, for the simple phrase, “Come, now, as you are or as you want to be…”. That’s the invitation we have from Jesus – to come to Him with all that we are and allow Him to do what only He can do with our hearts and lives. I hope it encourages you the way it does me every time I listen to it!
Hey friends, just wanted to let you know we are starting a brand new series this month called “Queen of Hearts”, exploring our own hearts. The good, the hard, all of it – so I hope you’ll join me on this adventure.
When I think of the ultimate Queen of Hearts, I think of the character from Alice in Wonderland and her favorite phrase, “Off with her head!”. At every turn, this Queen would bark an order out of anger and rage while her card-shaped attendants fluttered and scurried about, running into themselves. Those same subjects just wanted to appease their Queen and prevent her from exploding into a fit, so they carried out her commands – painting the roses red, because they planted white ones on accident. She was agressive, impulsive, and had only one idea that came to mind when things didn’t go her way…get angry.
I’ve felt like the Queen of Hearts before.
Too many times I have felt like I had to respond to a situation or a person with anger, when deep inside I wasn’t angry; I was hurt, or frustrated or straight up disappointed in myself. But instead of figuring out how to name the correct emotion, or pausing to take a breath, a reaction came out instead of a response. The emotion I felt was the wrong one expressed.
Have you ever felt like that?
Friend, it’s our job to grow to a place where emotions and frustrations can be named and solutions can be thought of. It’s on us to seek His help and look for the hope He alone can give. We all want to experience internal rest, knowing we can trust God with every hurt that has gone unnamed, and every emotion that has gone untamed. We are offered a continual learning process from God; one that points us toward the finished work of the Cross.
I will be the first to admit, I haven’t “figured it all out”. However, I want all of us to take Him up on that offer – to find what the root cause is for our heart condition (though it may be many little things compounded over time) AND to live knowing that He made a way for us to live with hope; hope for ourselves and hope for our hearts to be restored.
So here is my challenge for us this month: To look into our hearts, uncover some past hurts, talk about strategies to break some bad habits, and begin to live from a place of hope. Why? Because the condition of our heart matters to Him, so it should matter to us.
Want to join me? 🙂
If you are raising your hand, then be sure to check back each week as we dive into this new series together! And comment below to let us know where you’re joining us from!
Go The Extra Mile: I love this song by Riley Clemmons because it says, “You want all I have with no holding back, when I’m hurt, at my worst, You see the beauty…”. Click the link and let’s blast it loud together as we embrace the fact that God wants every piece of our hearts – because He sees beauty and is writing an amazing story with our lives.
Hey friend:), first things first: It has been a loooooooooong minute since I have taken the time to put together a post, and for that, I am truly sorry. Finding my new rhythm in my new location, with a few new seasons had me really digging deep to find the words. Words which are usually easy for me to pour out into a note or onto a rough draft on my phone suddenly became hard for me to publish.
However, there was always hope:).
Hope never left my heart, I just let it sink down further than normal. But after some months trying to wrap my brain around life and new seasons up ahead, hope gently floated to the surface reminding me that there is still a voice within me with stories to tell and messages to shared right here, with you. So thank you! Thank you for sticking with me in this writing journey and most of all, for sticking with me just to share life no matter how near or far we are in miles!
Last year, some big milestones happened:
– I was published 2 times in an awesome online magazine! (Yay Dearly!)
-I embraced being brave and auditioned to sing for the local GJ Rockies and was asked to sing the National Anthem at a game! (Yay to being brave! Go GJ Rockies!)
-I was invited to speak at a local women’s conference (Yay Flourish!)
-I was able to visit with family & friends under the best of circumstances and under the toughest of times (Seriously, let’s give it up for life-giving community!!!)
Yes…I am now able to check the box that says “40 and Over” on all kinds of paperwork (Yay Getting Older! Haha!)
In the lives of many people, this is usually the time where one questions their life and purpose and wonders what they have accomplished thus far. If I’m honest, I’ve been doing that for a few years now; looking back at all that God has entrusted me with, all the dreams and goals He’s placed in my heart and mind, all the messages He’s planted in my heart, and all the people He’s entrusted me to love and serve. I’ve also been thinking about how faithful I’ve been with the life He’s invited me to pursue; writing, speaking, listening, and encouraging, leading, remembering…all of it. And I come back to this one phrase:
In this new year of life, how can I be a more faithful steward of all that’s been given to me? Where can I be more faithful in the assignments I have been entrusted with? In what ways can I demonstrate more faithfulness to those under my roof & under my care? Where is God asking for a renewed commitment of faithfulness in my diligence in seeking Him and His ways?
Faithful is actually my word for 2020:)
Not just because of the questions I am processing though, but it’s the word that most reminds me of Him. Over and over I read and I know God to be more than faithful. He’s faithful to show up, faithful to come onto the seen, faithful to visit with me, faithful to recognize my cry and need. He’s faithful to provide for every need. He’s faithful to complete the good work that He started in me. He’s faithful to help me when I am weak, and He’s faithful to provide the community I need and crave every single day. He’s faithful to bring alongside friends and warriors who have gone before me that have wisdom to share. He’s faithful to provide mentors near and far from whom I can glean wisdom. He’s faithful to help me pause and soak in the moments that are passing faster than I would like. He’s faithful to remind me of the joy it is to cheer on friends making big strides in their own lives. He’s faithful to me, and I know He’s been faithful to you too.
Friend, my bit of advice from my 40 years of life: Look for His faithfulness.
I invite you to pause and reflect on your life (just like I’m doing today), and look all around for examples of His faithful and strong love in this life. Let’s take a moment to soak it in; the enormity of His great love, and the beauty of His sacrifice for us. I’m not going to take this new year of life for granted, because it has been gifted to me by Him, the Creator and Sustainer of Life.
Will you do me the honor of leading us in prayer today? Let’s pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, we take time today to just thank You for Your faithfulness… You display Your commitment to relationship with us in so many beautiful ways- through faithful sunrises and sunsets and rainbows; through the strength and mercy that is new each morning, through family bonds and friendships that endure and grow…Lord, we thank You for all of it. Today, we choose not just to look for Your faithfulness, but to praise You for being faithful. We choose to look at the life within us and around us and say, “Thank You”, with grateful hearts. We choose to look at the dreams and goals and assignments that You’ve entrusted to us and embrace them fully – knowing that You provide the inspiration and hope and strength to accomplish each step because they have been given to us by You. God, as we hold onto Your faithfulness, help us to become living examples of Your faithful love to everyone we come in contact with. Everyone is our neighbor, everyone is deserving of love, and because Your love is enduring, ours should reflect the same intensity and longevity. Lord, embolden us to share of Your amazing faithfulness in all we say and in all we do. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: It wouldn’t be a blog post without a song, so enjoy this current favorite of mine with a slice of chocolate cake in honor of my big day! This song by Sarah Reeves & The Belonging Co is on repeat in my personal playlist and it’s my prayer in this new season of life- ” to pour out my affection” as sweet incense to my faithful God. Enjoy and celebrate friends! #40yearsofLiz
We are in the thick of a season brightly colored with caps and gowns, tassels and cords. There will be pomp & circumstance a plenty as we are seated in stadiums, event centers, and auditoriums. Friends and family members shouting names and blasting airhorns, teachers and administrators clad in dress attire. You know who else will be there?
The tall kind, the small kind, the loud kind, the quiet kind. Every kind of graduate you can think of. The ones who were heavily involved in academics and athletics. The ones who were involved in the arts and clubs, and the ones who walked along the edge of the hallways, trying to blend in.
Graduation brings up so many amazing emotions, but it also makes me reflect on some parts in my own life’s story. I’ve shared it before but for those who are new to the blog – I didn’t wear a cap & gown until I was 35:). I didn’t walk across a stage in completion of a degree until I lived some life and birthed 3 babies:). I vividly remember the feeling of being told I was 1 credit short of graduating, just weeks before my actual high school graduation day. So trust me when I say I understand how it feels to come so close, only to realize you still have some work to do. Be it through summer school, or night school, correspondence courses, or a whole school year to make up for it. I’ve been there. In my case, I finished up a few months later, and my family threw me a great party to celebrate:). No stage or cap & gown, just documents to prove I met the necessary requirements.
In 2015, I did hear my name called while I was waiting in the wings- dressed in a purple cap & gown…and a bright yellow tassel:). That’s why when graduation season comes around, it means a lot to me. I like to spend time watching all the details unfold and the reactions on people faces. I like to see tears of joy and smiles beaming as names are called. I like to see families taking pics with their graduates as balloons fly in the air. I like to listen closely to valedictorian speeches and music played by the band. Why? Because it all matters. Those caps & gowns matter.
I see graduation as a huge accomplishment; so much studying and learning in just a short amount of time. I see every student – no matter at which age they graduate in life- with the potential to change their world, because they have an education. When I see students in caps and gowns, I see hope; I see persistence. I see individuals entering into a new phase of life- be it college, the workforce, the military, or whatever else comes next. I see dreams and goals starting all over again as grads deck themselves out in new attire for a new season.
As we enter into these next few weeks of seeing colorful balloons and confetti in our neighborhoods for these outstanding graduates, let’s remember to speak hope into their future.
Whatever path these graduates are taking, let’s encourage them to keep learning, to keep putting 100% into pursuing their passions and discovering their potential. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments and help them dream even bigger dreams while cheering them on from the sidelines. Let’s remind them that they can make their next season in life even more memorable and impactful with hard work and determination. Let’s hug them and high-five them at their ceremonies and parties. Let’s take lots of pics to remember the moment that they could finally say, “I did it!” and “On to bigger and better things!” all in one breath. Let’s write meaningful cards and stuff them full of wisdom (and maybe a gift!) for the journey ahead. Let’s bombard them with joy and hope and excitement because they worked so hard for these moments.
Let’s also show the students behind them that it can be done. That hard work and determination does pay off, and they are worth being celebrated. Not just for what they’ve done, but for who they are.
Let’s Pray:Dear Heavenly Father, this season is so special. Lord, we get to celebrate so many wonderful people who are accomplishing great things. We get to celebrate with all of these amazing individuals and cheer them onto even greater things. As we prepare to celebrate with these graduates, Lord help us to speak life into dreams they still have. Help our words to be uplifting and encouraging, hopeful and heartfelt. We never know what they may have walked through to get to this point, and we want to bless them asthey embark on new adventures ahead. Lord help us to also look for those who might be watching from afar instead participating in the ceremony- help us to come alongside them and encourage them to finish well and to dream again. For every graduate who might be leaving home to pursue a calling or degree they’ve planned for, we ask for You to protect them and guide them with wisdom and love. For all those joining the workforce we ask that You establish the work of their hands and that whatever they find to do, that they would do it with all their heart. For those entering into the military, we ask for Your peace and protection to surround them, and for their comrades to become a system of support and hope for them. For all those graduating and still trying to figure out what their next right step should be, help them to watch for the right doors of opportunity to open, and to know and trust that Your plans are greater. Lord, thank You for all the late nights of studying, for the friendships made and memories shared, for the lessons learned and the lessons still ahead. Thank You for these lives that will impact communities for good, and for legacies that impact generations to follow. Help us to celebrate well this season- amen.
Go The Extra Mile: Check out this song and begin to think of how you can dream alongside your grad! I LOVE THIS MOVIE! I LOVE THIS SOUNDTRACK! And I hope it encourages you today! Peace- liz:)
I was reminded a few weeks ago that I am getting back to my normal self:). As I was making lunch for my family on the weekend, and decided to bake. It might not sound like a monumental moment for some, but for me it was huge.
I like to cook. I like to bake. I just hadn’t really been doing a whole lot of it since we moved. There is something so therapeutic about combining ingredients and watching what they do when everything comes together.
A little of this, a little of that, some time to rise, and some time to bake…voila! Fresh bread with an aroma that fills the house and heart.
Unless you’re on the Keto diet- then it’s probably torture;).
There was a beautiful rhythm that I felt in my kitchen that day as I mixed and kneaded; as I waited and waited again. It felt like me just being me. Not me trying to just make it through the day, or me just doing it as a “have- to”. It felt like I was remembering my name, remebering my heartbeat again, remembering my song. I felt like me – in the moment I was in, in the season I was in, in the atmosphere I was in.
Friends, some seasons in our lives, we will not feel quite like ourselves. We will feel like someone else trying to figure out who they are and how they got there. Sometimes in those funky seasons, we will need to listen to our heart and do what we know we should, so we can regain a sense of who we are, and who we have been called to be.
That day, for me, I needed to bake. Some days, I need to go on a walk around the block…or around Target:). I encourage you to go back and do what gives you life. Maybe your thing is running – Run until the rhythm of your feet matches the beat of your heart. Maybe your thing is going for a drive – fill up your tank and hit the road and enjoy the view in the process. Maybe your thing is writing – be intentional with your time and jot down your thoughts as the words flow out of you. Remember who you are. Remember who you are called to me.
For some of us, it may take a friend calling us and reminiscing about what we’ve done together that made us laugh. It may take some of us asking our friends for advice or for wisdom in these tough seasons. It’s ok, everyone’s season is so different and no one thing is going to work for everyone as we walk through these funky times.
The point is to keep breathing, keep living, keep walking, and keep reminding ourselves who we are. I love what the Psalmist David wrote:
“Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”— even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:1-18 CSB
I’m confident that The One who knew us when we were formless, knows how to redirect us to the point where we remember our form and fortitude during funky seasons. And if you’ve been walking through some different and challenging seasons like me, I can assure you that taking time to turn our focus to Him is a great place to start.
Let’s pray friend:Dear Lord, in the midst of all that feels funky and uncertain, we choose today to put our focus on You- Our Creator, and Life-Giver. These season that we are walking through might seem difficult to navigate, but Lord, we’ve been reminded in Your Word today that You see everything God- nothing is too difficult for you. Lord, we ask You to take us into Your arms and remind us of who we are and who You created us to be. Remind us of the goodness that you’ve placed inside of us to share. Remind us of dreams we might be putting off because we don’t know where to begin. Remind us of the tender and loving care you took to create us and form every part of us inside and out, and how to return to Your loving embrace for strength and direction. You Lord, are Light and can help lead the way as we rediscover ourselves in You and how we are to live in these moments. We give you our time today Lord, speak to us and help us listen as we go about our day. Jesus, help our hearts to lean into all that You ask us to do as we spend time with You and as we get back to the rhythms that You created to sustain and support us. Thank You Lord for all that You are and for Your goodness in every season of this life. Amen
Go The Extra Mile: Friend, on your drive today, or at your lunch break, take a few minutes to just listen and surrender with this song. I love this song, so much that we actually played it at our wedding ceremony years ago, but this version…it’s amazing. Check it out!
Tribe… in my nomadic lifestyle I have defined tribe as an ever-growing group of people that are on this similar life journey. Those who have been geographically detached from their pre-established support systems. Most of them living thousands of miles from the ‘free babysitter’ and the auntie that swoops in to play dress up and make silly faces when you aren’t feeling the mom gig. This tribe congregates out of necessity for nothing short of needing a local emergency contact number for that form you inevitably get at your child’s school registration. The subtle beginnings of what will become late night phone calls when your washer has flooded your whole house and your husband just happens to be ‘unavailable’. The secret cry sessions as you share the heartache of missed birthdays and delayed return dates. The undertones of knowing that this military life changes our spouse in ways we can’t even put words to paper. This is the stuff that establishes the tribe of military wives and the families they bring in tow. This is, for the better part of the past 18 years, the fertile ground for me to grow in my understanding of what tribe is and how to love them well.
“You do hospitality so well! That MUST be one of your giftings.” Says a well-meaning pastor friend of mine. My gut wrenched and I immediately word vomited out… “NOPE! I just live a life where entertaining is part of my gig… this is a trained behavior.” Although the second part of that statement was true, I adamantly believed the first part… well because as a woman who is called to ministry as a lifestyle, as one who preaches, mentors and pastors… there are a few boxes my wounded heart did not want to be placed in… I bet you can guess at least one… you know all the places it is acceptable for women to serve among any body of believers… if it involves a kitchen, food, children… you get my point. I had no desire to be labeled as hospitality because to me, from the view of the church structure, hospitality looked like standing behind a coffee bar handing out a donut and facilitating meal trains… this was just not my jam. (Please let me take a minute to clarify… ALL of these works are amazingly valid and a ministry to me and to those whose needs are met! We are all a part of the body… knee, shin and ankle.. all are needed and valued. This was just not my place… so I thought). Back to the comment… it sat with me. This friend, I had come to learn, does not just pay nice compliments but speaks to what he sees done well, with joy, and fullness of God’s glory. This observation was not because he had seen me fill up a few snack buckets and provide some bottled water. So I have sat some more on this comment… I got still before God and asked forgiveness for my harshness towards any good gift He has given me and asked for a revelation of what my friend saw. I asked Him to show me a little bit more of how He designed me to be. This is what I learned about me and how hospitality has flown naturally:
Loving my tribe well is not in the pictures of my Instagram feed where you see women drinking wine and sitting around a campfire. Loving my tribe well is in the many mini moments to see a need and choose to be a part of filling it. This is done best within my circle of influence… I get overwhelmed by needing to love on every tribe, but I must focus on loving mine well and trust that it will trickle over. I have learned the necessity of observing well and paying attention to the subtle clues others leave. This is my fact-finding mission, Intel only, all stakeout. (I even keep notes in my phone) I write out likes, kids names, important facts and yes I reference back to them. As a nomad, the need to be known runs deep and this helps me fill that need in others. It helps me build relationships with intentionality and purpose, to allow who God is in me to spill out on them so God can increase in them too! Then I wait… I pray… I ask God for organic opportunities to intersect His love and grace into their life and sometimes I get to be a part of that.
Sometimes that’s sending a text of encouragement, sometimes it’s talking over coffee or a margarita, sometimes that looks like driving 4 hours round trip to get 2 hours of quality face to face time. Sometimes it is sitting next to her crying as we mourn the loss of a child, sometimes that’s babysitting, sometimes it’s a late night run, sometimes its rib-splitting laughter as we play hide in seek in Target. Sometimes that’s putting encouraging notes in the bathroom at prom, Sometimes that is going to someone else’s’ kids sports game. It making the most of those simple everyday encounters. You see, hospitality, per Webster, is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
How do you receive your tribe? Are you friendly with those you receive within a 10 ft radius of yourself every day? (Yes those people are your tribe too, even the one who gives you dirty looks). Are you generous in the way you meet others needs? There is a difference in meeting a need and meeting a need well. One is a reaction and the other is a response. Responses are thoughtful, planned, and intentional. Do the little things that help you be a responder. Make space in your calendar to slow down a little for that phone call, keep a basket in the closet of small “thinking of you” gifts, always have coffee ready to brew, have the extra meal in the cabinet for the sick friend, take the time for rest and spiritual nourishment regularly so you a serving from a full cup… make the most of the opportunity presented to you, after all YOU GET TO be the avenue of God’s love directly into that person’s world.
And what does that get you??? Well, over time, you will find that your hospitality has opened an access to share your story and God’s story and how those stories have connected with their story. This is the principle I have found in studying how Jesus loved his tribe well. He most often met a tangible need before addressing the spiritual need. Loving your tribe well doesn’t end in intentional responses; those mini-moments add up to this field of grace where God’s heart is vividly seen time and time again in the midst of the community that has been created within the tribe. This is where healing takes place, mentorship begins to happen, dreams are obtained, hardships are mourned and joys are celebrated… love and grace abound and God’s glory is known. – Liz Bossard
Meet Liz Bossard: Liz is a reservoir of wisdom and truth. She has battled a lifetime of paving her way through understanding her identity in Christ, and rising to be a light house for others to break out of the box of female stereotypes in life and ministry. She loves to laugh and enjoy her military life with her husband of 18 years and their 3 children. Making many moves across the country, she has gained lots of life experience, amongst the many cultures of the U.S. Liz longs for others to know their true calling and to embrace the path God has set them on.
Tru*life: It’s me, Liz Trujillo again:), and I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring you my friend Liz Bossard! I’ve known her for close to 18 years both in the same town and across many miles, and I can tell you- she’s the real deal y’all. I’ve been able to watch her grow into this amazing communicator and have also been a recipient of her love and friendship since my early days of marriage, motherhood, and ministry. She was the obvious choice to share with us about loving our tribes well. I sure hope you took notes from her words of wisdom- I know I did today! A huge shoutout to all of her family for their continued service to our country!-Liz T
Go The Extra Mile: I’m a sucker for a Southern Rock Band, and NEEDTOBREATHE has a special place in my heart because they are from SC! Listen well to this song and be encouraged to love your tribe well today!
My children screaming at one another does not bring me joy and unfortunately it is a sound that I hear daily. I used to envision myself ripping my ears from my head and throwing the bleeding ears to my children and yelling: “now I don’t have to hear you anymore!”—my kids would then be diagnosed with PTSD and probably taken from me, and I would have no ears. So, there goes that idea! I tend to be a bit dramatic, maybe that’s where my children get their histrionics. But I hear SO much more of their bickering since quitting my job after the birth of my fourth child. Having children brings out the best and worst in a person, or maybe that’s just me. I was starting to see more days with the worst person than the best.
Some moms are better at patience. Some moms are better at talking calmly to their kids and baking sweet treats and making crafts. But me, sometimes I would want to lock my kids in a closet and give them Benadryl and have them take a long nap—speaking in hyperbole here! I would never harm my children. I love my children. Very much. I love them so much that at every birth I would let go of some special part of myself—including valuable braincells. The other day when I went to buy sleds, I couldn’t think of the word sled. S-L-E-D, a four-letter word that is very simple, but I had to ask the cashier: “Do you sell those things that kids ride in the snow with?” The 17-year-old, looked at me with a dumbfounded look and said, “Sleds?” “Oh yeah! That’s what their called!” I laughed back.
My brain is not what it used to be, and neither is any part of me. Some days I would daydream about the old me; living life to the fullest, laughing, telling jokes, and looking good. Some days I would long for a simpler time. My daydreams wouldn’t last long because I would be jolted back to reality by my two-year-old screaming at her older brother, “you’re not my BEST FRIEND! NO ONE is my BEST FRIEND!” I realized that I was becoming a new person and I had to stop pretending like I was going to get the old me back. This new person, I didn’t like too much. She didn’t have as much fun. This new person was very frustrated and controlling. I realized that either I needed to change my attitude or accept my new grumpy self. I started to change my attitude. I began by falling back in love with me and being grateful for what I had been given.
And thanks to Marie Kondo, I started asking myself what brings me joy? And not just regarding tidying up, but to experiences and everything else in life that matters. I decided that being a passive player in this game of life wasn’t cuttin’ it any longer. I needed to dive in. I needed to experience love and joy and not just watch from the sidelines. I wanted to live out my gratefulness by living life to the fullest, as cliché as it may sound. So, what brings me joy?
Puzzles bring me joy! I love to solve puzzles and I love my introvert time. I love sitting at my counter for hours and days at a time and completing a puzzle. I am not able to do this as often as I like, but I love it.
Audiobooks and library apps bring me joy! I love listening to audiobooks. I never would have thought that I would love listening to books, but I do. I have finished ten books since January.
Swimming brings me joy! I decided that I needed to do something for a workout. I have always wanted to be able to swim laps as a cardio and lift weights to build muscle but just always came up with an excuse of why I couldn’t. SO, I signed up for an adult swim lesson. I was so scared at my first lesson. I was thinking about what other people would think of me, but to my surprise, no one was thinking about me. I love swimming! I had a minor setback last week but I’m okay. I went to practice what I had learned through lessons, and I panicked and couldn’t swim in the deep end. I kept telling myself that something was in the water like a shark, alligator, or a scary clown —I was the only one in the pool, it was six in the morning. The lifeguard just watched and said nothing. I did one quarter of a lap and then I did the walk of shame and left the pool. I was crippled by this irrational fear. This setback didn’t stop me, I went back two days later and swam in the deep end.
I started writing again and stopped caring about my missing braincells. I love to write and who cares if some people don’t want to read what I have to say. Writing brings me joy and gives me life.
My body brings me joy! I started looking in the mirror while I’m naked and telling myself: “This body is mine. It was a gift to me, and I love it.” This is not easy for me. Why is it so darn hard to look at myself naked and genuinely say “I love you”? Because when I look at my naked body, I immediately start to critique it. I say: “Look at those love handles! Say goodbye to ever wearing a two-piece swimsuit again, MY GOSH those stretch marks. Goodness, those nipples are different sizes, they don’t look anything like the original.” And this self-deprecating talk would continue until I verbally told myself to stop. My inner critique is a monster and not just about my outward appearance, but it has some nasty things to say about everything. How I parent. How I eat. How I work or not work. The best way for me to combat this is by telling myself: “This body is mine. It was a gift to me, and I love it”.
My body has birthed four beautiful children. Stretching and releasing with the marks to prove it. This body has gained weight and lost weight; it has been fit and been flabby. This body, my body is mine and I need to love it. I need to love it because I have four children that I am trying to teach how to love their bodies.
My family brings me joy. I enjoy them more. I stop what I am doing and play with them. I kiss them more and rub their heads. I talk longer and laugh louder. I am intentional but I am not perfect. I still have moments of crazy. But I am trying.
Lastly, God brings me joy! I started checking in with God more regularly. He is my ultimate sustainer and if I am not right with God, I quickly find myself losing patience quicker. It’s not just about reading my Bible, it’s more one-on-one talks and finding the time to just be with him and worship. I desire to live a full life and experience joy! -Gigi Hahl
Meet Gigi: Jillian “GiGi” Hahl is a chauffeur, financial analyst, strategist, and storyteller, or as some call it SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). She lives in Denver, Colorado and enjoys learning anything new. She once had a cat named Kitty because the name slightly paid homage to one of her favorite movies Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She loves meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. You can find her at roaming the aisles of Costco on the first Sunday of the month.
*Hey everyone, it’s me Liz again:). I’m so thankful for the beautiful and honest message that Gigi shared with us today! I know for my heart, it was encouraging! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to connect everyone with Gigi’s work and I can tell you, I’ve admired her writing and her mothering skills for the last several years! She’s the real deal ya’ll and what an honor it has been to have her as part of our blogging community:). P.S.-I too wish to roam the aisles of Costco with her:)!
Go The Extra Mile:Check out “Lean Back” from Capital City Music, one of my new favorite songs- so so good, so… listen all the way to the end. A great reminder of the love of Our Heavenly Father, and the joy and goodness we can experience in Him!
We started a mini-series on love last week (in honor of the month of love), and this week’s subject is very personal to me. So personal, that my husband and I sat down with our children in our living room a few weeks ago and began to have a deep talk about how our family will operate. Not just how we will operate for every day routines, but how we will choose to function when the world around us seems to do the opposite.
We will include others: We will look for outsiders. No matter where they come from, who their family is, what they look like, what they sound like…we will choose to be the first to reach out and connect with others. We will be inclusive and invite others to share life with us; no matter if they have little or lots, no matter if they talk differently, have different customs or traditions, we will include them, surround them, and share life with them.
We will love our neighbors: No matter if they have the same beliefs as we do, or if they disagree with us on many levels- we will try hard each day to demonstrate love.
We will build bridges to connect to others: Much like a bridge connects and extends, we will choose to connect to others and extend hope and love to them. We will build relationships that can connect others to the resources, inspiration, and relationships they need.
We will build bridges. We will build bridges. We will build bridges between us and not walls to divide.
Walls offer a false sense of security in which the builder imprisons and isolates themselves instead of keeping themselves safe. We will not build walls between ourselves or others – we will build bridges.
Why did I type it so many times? Because that’s how many times I said those words to our children. We needed them to know that being a part of this family means loving and serving others. Being a part of this family means protecting those who need protection, and providing support to those who have no one to support them. We had to stress the fact that there are so many in our own little world who don’t have a voice to be heard or an audience to cheer them on. We had to. In the middle of a tv program, we had to stop and talk about how we will choose to operate as a family. How we will love, who we will serve, and why it all matters.
You see, Love is an action and a choice and our choice is to build bridges relationally because that is what Love did for us; Love himself left heaven and embraced humanity. Love gave us direct access to mercy and grace and compassion and forgiveness and hope. Love built a bridge between the divine and the mortal. Love took on our brokenness and frailty and gave us strength and healing. Love lived, died, and came back to life so we could live and become bridge builders for those who need to experience unconditional love. Love builds bridges, love builds up people, love builds up communities.
My children know the message now. They see why we choose to make these statements and who our actions affect. They are growing up in a world that wants them to do the opposite. Our hope is that they will choose love and choose hope, no matter the cost. So that by doing so, others can feel accepted, embraced, remembered, supported, and above all else, loved.
Let’s Pray:Dear Heavenly Father, we want to be love to those in need today. Lord, so much of our culture pushes the image of isolation as a means for protection. So much of what we see or how we operate in society is to keep everyone at arms length and pretend to not see needs staring us in the face. Forgive us God, forgive me. Lord, help us today to open our eyes and hearts to those around us. Help us build each other up with our words and with our faith. We ask for You to show us opportunities where we can lavish love on others – whether they are in our home or miles away. Help us to live by the example You set for us. Lord, we want to live lives that honor You – lives that point directly back to the unconditional love that You alone provide for us. Today Lord, we desire to be living, breathing, bridge builders for all of those around us who need to feel connected to community. Thank You for reminding us today that Love will go out of its way to build a bridge relationally. Amen. Peace – liz
Go The Extra Mile: Today, Listen to this awesome anthem from Switchfoot about Love! It’s so good and will get stuck in your heart and mind!
Happy Valentines Day Everyone!!! I wanted to be sure to send you this amazing message about love from my dear friend Melissa! In the next few posts you’re going to read about, you guessed it, LOVE. Not the commercialized version of love and gifts we see on the store shelves. No, I’m talking about the real deal- love in it’s greatest forms. So to kick-us off, I’ve invited Melissa to share her thoughts on love. I have long admired her wisdom and strength and heart of service. I know you will be inspired by her too. Friends, my hope is for each one of you to be encouraged, challenged, and active with the love you can share with this world! -Liz
I was asked by Liz to be a guest blogger and she said I could talk about love. Now I thought that is going to be easy because love is an easy topic; there is so much to say about love. But after mulling it over several days, it feels that love is not so easy after all.
For those that know the Bible, there is a whole chapter dedicated to love. “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NLT). Phew! That was a mouthful. And if we were honest with ourselves, some days it feels like love is exhausting and love is overwhelming.
I want to show love; I really do. I repeat this scripture over and over in my head especially when I’m dealing with a difficult situation. I remind myself, “You must be kind. Stop wanting your own way. Please don’t get irritable!” I find myself busily putting little check marks on my love checklist ready to feel satisfied once I’ve marked every action complete in this love chapter. But before I know it, I have turned love into a task instead of a way of life.
The checklist doesn’t apply just in difficult situations though; unfortunately, the checklist has also applied in the purest of desires to find a way to change the world. State Farm has summed this up very well. Yes, you read that right, State Farm. About a year or so ago they aired a commercial titled “Following”. It begins with a man on the subway seeing a wall advertisement to adopt a pet. Immediately he turns to his side and sees a cute, little white dog that begins to follow him. The man’s computer screen displays an ad to help a veteran and then a tv to be a mentor to a child. The shot pans out to a following of vets, homeless people, children, and animals behind a weary man everywhere he goes. With the hand of a child on his shoulder, the man chooses to make one small decision to walk into a community mentoring center; and just like that the following is gone.
The commercial wasn’t about getting rid of the weariness of love but rather show that one small action, turning a checklist into a lifestyle, can release that burden of love. Love does not place the responsibility of changing the world on your shoulders but rather it is allows Christ to use one small action from an honest heart to have a ripple effect in the world. There is no burden, no task, and no brownie points to be earned. Love is just love and oh how amazing love is. –Melissa
Melissa lives in Southern Colorado with her family. She is a Forensic Chemist by day, but she prefers to spend her free time riding elephants, swimming with the piranhas, and serving those in need:).
When I was a teenager with a fresh drivers’ license, I would often ask my mom for the car keys and just drive around because I could. Not because I was going anywhere particular, but just because I wanted to explore. Growing up near the Front Range of Colorado, I was blessed to see the majestic Rocky Mountains in full view, right next to the spans of crops on the plains. And if your have ever been near my hometown, you also know there is a very pungent aroma that fills the air:). Many say its the smell of money, but the rest of us know its just the smell of manure:). But anyway…
My times of going for a drive were actually a means to explore and decompress; to put my thoughts in order and take some time to clear my head. This week as I was reflecting on this series of walking through seasons of feeling Funky, I was reminded of the beautiful effect getting out has on us.
You see, I often found myself driving to the nearby open fields in my hometown. Today, most of those fields are subdivisions, shopping centers, and gas stations (I see you Greeley, growing and industrializing:). But to me, those areas hold a special place of clarity and calmness. The open roads around them remind me of the times I would empty my mind as I drove around, thinking and praying.
Sometimes when we feel Funky, one of the best steps we can take to move forward is to get out into nature.
I recently read 2 different studies from Stanford University, that suggest getting out into nature provides great benefit for our mental well-being. A walk outside in a natural environment can help reduce our feelings of anxiety and internal negativity, and helps us to generally feel better.
Will our circumstances change immediately with a walk outside? No. Will our difficulties immediately vanish if we hug a tree? Nope. Can our outlook on life, as a whole, improve because we took time to get some fresh air, and submerge ourselves in the beauty of nature and in the faithfulness of God, Our Creator? Absolutely.
Friends, Nature itself was meant to draw us closer to Our Creator. The splendor of all that God has created and the beauty and majesty we find all around us are direct reminders of the majesty and might of our God. If He put so much detail into the very creation all around us, individual blades of grass, multiple varieties of each plant and crop and animal and insect, how much more detail has gone into the creation of our heart and minds? How much more care has He put forth for tending to our needs? I’ll tell you: a lot.
As you think over the Funky season you may be in or have previously experienced, remind yourself of this: Our God, Creator of all, has a beautifully tender way of speaking to us through the times we can pull away into the very nature He created for us. Reflect back even further: When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God came to walk in the garden(Genesis 3:8). He was looking for them there; He already knew where they were, yet He still went to meet them right where they were and showed them where they were physically and spiritually. Friend, Our Creator has that same amount of love towards us, to know exactly where we are, to come find us and meet us where we are in our time of need. No matter what kind of a Funk we find ourselves in.
I encourage you to go for a walk today; clear your mind and give God your thoughts and concerns. He will meet you there, and will renew your strength.
Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for reminding us today that it’s ok to stop and get out for a moment. You are always willing to meet us, and listen to us. Lord, for these seasons in our lives that feel uncertain, we choose to trust that You will help us to clear out thoughts as we place our focus on You and Your faithful love and perfect strength. Lord, when we feel weak, help us to remember to run to meet You. When we feel faint of heart, help us to move closer towards You; to look around us and see Your peace sustaining us. Be it in a field, a forest, or a flower bed, help us to run into Your arms. Your hope and strength are real and just as You created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, You created us and You know us better than we know ourselves. Lord, we lean into You today and hold tight to Your promise to renew our strength when we wait on You Thank You Lord for Your love and for reminders of renewal all around us in creation. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: I’m taking it way back to 1912 with this incredible hymn “In The Garden” by Charles Austin Miles. Listen as “The Church Sisters” sing it. My only other favorite rendition of this personal favorite is when my mom and her sister sing it:).
Hello everyone! I’m SO EXCITED to share this next post and introduce you to one of my mentors , Terry Murillo! I’ve been inspired and encouraged by Terry since I was 15 years old, and I am beyond thrilled to have her as a contributor in this series.
There is something special about hearing the point, “Create during Funky Seasons”, especially when it’s brought to us by someone who truly lives this message and speaks life to people daily. What’s even better? This message incorporates one of my favorite subjects- the creative arts! Enjoy!-liz
You Are Creative Are you that person that is continually saying “I am not creative”? I am here to encourage you otherwise. In the book of Genesis, chapter one verses 1-27, we read how God is a creative God, and that we are made in His image.
His creativity doesn’t stop at creation week, nor is His technique limited to just verbal. In Jeremiah, He is a potter:
In Psalms, He is a knitter:
We must know full well that we have been given talents. Talents connect us to God, others and even ourselves. I know we are not all artists, but I truly believe that we are all creative. I think the issue is we tend to confuse the word creative with artsy.
You see there are actually eight different ways we live out our creativity, they are known as Creative Intelligence:
Spatial– drawing, painting, web-design, cooking Social– conversations, things that build relationship Musical– concerts, karaoke, playing an instrument, dancing Bodily– sports, any form of moving, reading body language Logical– using numbers, schedules, budgets, apps Intrapersonal– journaling, self-help books, meditation Naturalistic– gardening, walks outside of a busy city, going barefoot, zoo’s, beaches Verbal– story telling, essay writing, interviews, podcasts
God has given us all eight, just like we speak all five love languages, but there is one or two we tend to gravitate to more.
Let me tell you about my two friends; Risk and Routine. Sometimes risk puts us in a rut and we need routine to get us out. But sometimes, routine puts us in a rut and we need risk to get us out.
What if in 2019 you choose to revisit an area you may have put on hold, due to routine?
In October, my mom sent me a picture of a sketch I did while studying fashion in high school. Little did she know, a few days prior the Lord was telling me to revisit my passion for fashion. I had done some t-shirt designs over the years that did pretty well so receiving that text was a confirmation to put a name on it and make it official. I designed a logo and announced a soft launch of WVN Apparel. A few weeks later I saw a contest requesting dress designs for the 2019 Dressember campaign. They are a non-profit organization fighting to end human trafficking. Without hesitation, I pulled out a sketch pad, drew out three ideas, took pictures of them and entered the contest. I didn’t even tell my family. On Christmas Eve I received an email, my dress made it to the top 4 and voters would determine the winner. Then on January 2nd I received the email that my dress had won by a wide margin. My dress will be available for purchase in the fall.
It’s a good thing our talents don’t have expiration dates.
Another option you can choose is to explore a totally uncomfortable creative outlet. I am choosing, bodily. I am being intentional about moving more and looking for creative outlets to do this.
Let’s say you choose music, start with listening to it more often, maybe explore a new genre, maybe make karaoke the end goal.
Or what if you choose to give to others the knowledge of your talents. My daughter Bethany is studying film and raising money to go to Spain this year to minister through the arts.
The idea is, whatever it is you choose to do, whether in a career/ministry or just for downtime, set out do it in a creative way. Begin each day asking the Lord for a dose of creativity.
I pray you see yourself as creative, if you didn’t already. And if you did, I pray you stretch your creative intelligence. -T
Meet Terry: I was born in New Mexico, raised in Denver and my favorite place I have lived is Hawaii (duh):). If I had to pick just two action words to describe me they would be teacher & maker, actually my son chose them, but yeah very accurate. I have to work at shutting those off. This year marks 30 chapters into my forever love story with Johnny, whom I met in College. We are so proud of our 3 adult children, our daughter-in-love and future son-in-love. After 20 years of full-time ministry, God sent us to Hollywood 10 years ago. We run a production company and believe that Hollywood is a Ninevah, not Sodom & Gomorrah. After 27 years of homeschooling I am slowly coming into my next. Connect with our family on Instagram @terrylouise_ifyouplease and @socalmurillos.
It’s Liz again:), what an incredible message on how to create while in the midst of funky seasons! A huge THANK YOU to Terry for sharing with us today! I am personally challenged and inspired to try new creative mediums. What will you choose to try? What creative gifts do you feel rising to the surface? I hope you’ll share them with us in the comments below!
I also wanted to share an opportunity to empower someone to use and share their creative gifts. As Terry mentioned, her daughter Bethany is a college student and will be heading to Spain to minister through the creative arts. This is going to be such an amazing opportunity for her and her team! If you would like to invest in Bethany’s upcoming trip, please click here.
Thank you everyone for checking out the blog today! The encouragement from this series is gonna stick with us- I just know it! peace-liz
Go the Extra Mile: Check out this brilliant song that is a new fave of mine! I hope it encourages you today!
Hey everyone! As promised, the new series officially kicks off today! I’m excited to share this journey with you:). As I mentioned in the last post, the last few months of 2018 had me feeling like I was in a funk.
I knew that I couldn’t have been the only one experiencing this, and as it turns out, I wasn’t. In this new series, I want to offer us some hope – in the midst of the funk we may be feeling, we can place rhythms and routines into our life that help us stay connected in community, and more importantly, connected to Our Creator. We may be walking through seasons of feeling “off”, but we don’t have to navigate the journey by ourselves. In fact, we shouldn’t try to do it alone.
One routine I firmly believe in: Visiting Others. I know, it sounds too simple to start with just visiting an encouraing friend, but trust me. the power of a visit impacts further than we can imagine.
This past year was a learning year for me and my family. One constant that I can recall though: we had some great visits with friends:). Family and friends made their way to come see us and explore our new surroundings, and we were able to go visit friends and family and share in some deep conversations and of course…coffee:). Meals were prepared together, laughter and jokes filled rooms, hugs and more hugs filled the doorways. And in the midst of navigating the funkiness inside, I was reminded of the power of sharing time with others. Each visit uplifted us, encouraged us, and even challenged us to keep growing. Each visit also sent a message loud and clear- we had people who loved us and took time to share with us and even pray for us. Whether it was one hour or one week, we spent time visiting with each other and it was a blessing.
Friend, do you know that you are loved in the midst of your “off” seasons? You are. Do you know that spending time with those who love you can brighten your day and stir up hope in your heart? It can. You don’t have to try and navigate the difficult times alone- because when we make time to visit with life-giving people, the ones who get us and understand us, we can soak up the encouragement that God provides through our sweet time together. Does visiting people solve all of our issues? Nope. Will sharing time with others eliminate difficulty? Not at all. However, the encouragement we experience within those visits can refresh our spirits when we need it most.
Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You see us and You know us-inside and out. All of our thoughts and experiences are before You. And in those times where our mind doesn’t quite know how to process the tough and funky spots we are navigating, we ask You to shine the light of Your Word into us so that we can see how to process and proceed. We thank You Lord, for surrounding us with Your love, and for placing us into our communities. We take comfort today as we remember that we are never alone on our journey of life. You promised to be with us, and You’ve surrounded us with others who want to encourage us and build us up. Thank You Lord for those times that we are able to spend with others, remembering Your truths and Your purposes for us. Thank You for providing us with times of refreshing when we need it God. We ask that You would help us to also be people that refresh those around us. You are so kind Lord, and we choose to remember Your goodness and faithfulness even in these funky seasons of life. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: Friends, we are gonna talk more about sharing life with others in another installment of this series, so I encourage you, check back for the latest posts. In the meantime, check out this song as we kick-off the new series and be encouraged today!