Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Small Hard Things...

Lately I've been feeling insignificant.

I'm sure you've heard me say before that I'm ready for my next adventure! And I am. But it's not coming. I'm still here, doing the dishes, visiting my great Aunt and doing secretarial work for my dad's business. All of these are good things, I know that fully, but sometimes they feel so...well, insignificant.

This morning I picked up Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris and read a chapter called Small Hard Things. It was so encouraging!

"In Rudyard Kipling's novel Captains Courageous, fifteen-year-old Harvey Cheyne, the son of a wealthy railroad tycoon, is washed overboard from a transatlantic steamship and rescued by fishermen.
Cold, wet, and forgotten for the first time in his spoiled existence, Harvey at first tries to convince the fishermen of his parents' great wealth. He wants them to abandon their fishing season and take him ashore, where he promises his father will reward them generously. But his please don't work. In the end he is forced to earn his keep mending nets and gutting fish.
At first Harvey can't believe his bad luck. The backbreaking work, the long hours, the stench, and the cold and wet disgust and overwhelm him. But over time, Harvey mysteriously changes. His body toughens. He learns to use his hands and his head to perform the tasks and weather the trials of fishing on the open sea. He begins to actually enjoy the hardships and to admire the strength and intelligence of his new companions.
When the boat finally returns to port, Harvey wires his parents who rush to the small town. Amazed, they find a transformed son. Their lazy, demanding boy has become an industrious, serious, and considerate young man. No longer needing or wanting his mother's constant doting, Harvey is ready to start a successful career in his father's shipping lines.
Maybe you feel forgotten and alone, grinding away at pointless routines that seem guaranteed to lead you nowhere...The truth is that your life (both now and later) will require you to invest a lot of time and energy into things that aren't big and that don't seem to make much of an impact. Some days they don't even make sense.

Sometimes the smallest things can be the hardest things of all."

Why are the small hard things so difficult? The book gives us a list of the top five reasons:

1.
They don't usually go away after you do them. whew! I agree with this one. No sooner have I cleaned the living room, and it's messy again. Or if I exercise today, I still need to exercise tomorrow and the next day too.

2. They don't seem very important. Especially when "well meaning" strangers inform you of how important your life is. *sigh* does it never end?

3. They don't seem to make a difference. My mom is sweet and tells me how important my helping her and dad is, and I super appreciate it. But this point is still very true in my life, especially when I do something over and over and over.

4. They don't seem very glamorous. Yes.

5.
No one is watching. Again, yes.

"Doing hard things is how we exercise our bodies, our minds and our faith. Small hard things are the individual repetitions - like a single push-up. They are seempingly insignificant by themselves but guaranteed to get results over time."

God even talks about this in His Word: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

I just LOVE this from Martin Luther King Jr. -

"If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music...Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well."

So now I'm encouraged. Ready to tackle my t0-do list for today with zest and vigor! Even if what I'm doing sounds silly and insignificant (doing the dishes, laundry, exercising...) I'm able to realize that being able to do those things with a sweet heart and for the glory of God will train my heart and mind, strengthening me day by day for whatever comes next.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pursued...


Today at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) one of the ladies commented on how grounded I was in my faith. This isn't the first time that the ladies there have commented on my spiritual insight or knowledge in the scriptures, especially for my age. I giggle, remembering the time during fellowship when my group was talking about the lesson, our testimonies and how God is working in our lives. I had just finished talking about something God had been showing me, and one of the ladies looked at me with a smile and said, "Will you marry my son?!" LOL!

Why do I mention this? It's not to brag, I assure you, because it's not because of me that I have any knowledge, grounded-ness or spiritual insight. I fail soooooooooooooooo much. Please do not misunderstand me, I am a sinner (a wretched sinner for that matter, just ask my mom), yet loved still. Human hearts can't ever fully grasp the unconditional love of God, but we can certainly know a piece of it.


Here's the truth: Ever since I was a little girl, I have been pursued by God.

Not because I'm so great or awesome, but because I'm His daughter, His child, His beloved. (Your His beloved too, you know, check your heart, is He pursuing you tonight?) Every time I've strayed, He has been there to tenderly lead me back onto the right path, and into His loving, shepherding arms.

I haven't always desired to live for Jesus. When I was 12 or so I quite expected a rebellious teenage-hood, sexy clothes (and fights with my mom over those clothes), and a string of boyfriends. All of course, under the safe covering of calling myself a "Christian".

Then, by chance, a friend of ours told us about a week long camp in the mountains called Daughters of Destiny Camp. It was a Christian camp for girls, and that's really all we knew. It sounded cool, was only $35 and a bunch of my friends were going - I was there!

It was there during that week that Jesus captured my heart and soul.

I learned of a new way of life, of serving Christ with my all, and being completely Christian (not just on Sundays or when the situation called for religion). It was totally new. I learned about honoring my parents and truly serving them. The speaker, Shelly Hendry, spoke of going to your mom after she's had a hard day with some lotion, and rubbing your mothers dry hands with the wonderful smelling lotion, in a loving, humble way, just as Mary Magdalene used the good smelling perfume on Jesus' feet. She talked about being best friends to your siblings, and caring for your younger siblings, serving and loving them, not just "tolerating" them or worse, hating them. It was a whole new standard of living. One that God prepared and opened my heart for.

As the years past many people came in and out of my life. The "servant's heart and love for God" stuff I'd learned about at camp faded from my heart, and the World replaced it with sin and worldliness. I was pulled away from Jesus time and time again. And then time and time again God would call my heart back to Himself.

God has given me such a love for Him. He pursues me every single day. I feel His gentle whisper as I get ready in the morning, reminding me to take time to beautify my soul, more than to beautify my face and hair. I hear His voice as I reach for the fashion magazine or click on celebrity gossip sites, telling me that those things will only leave me feeling empty and inadequate. I feel His love, giving me butterflies on the inside, every time I feel alone.

When I was 14 I remember going out onto the front porch to get some air and some peace and quiet. It was Christmastime, and dinner time, so the house was a little crazy and I just needed some space. I sat in the cool night air, the Christmas lights twinkling above my head. I breathed in a deep sigh and waited to hear God's voice. Normally at these times He tells me something I need to work on, or someone I need to apologize to (with a mouth like mine, there's always someone to apologize to). But in the still of the night, with the breeze blowing onto my face, all I heard Him say was, I love you. The Creator of the Universe, The Lord of everything, He loved me!

(wasn't I just the nerdiest 15 year old?! glasses + braces + captain of the team, who had no idea what she was doing...lol)

Then I turned 15, I was playing volleyball and dealing with mean girls and hurtful friendships. One afternoon my heart and mind were a mess with problems and decisions, hurtful things people had said or done. I wanted to do right, but nothing made sense in my mind. It made me think of a big bowl of spaghetti, I didn't know where one problem started and the other ended. So I went down to our pond in the backyard and sat on a stump. It was here, bundled up in my mom's big red coat (with the fur trim around the hood) that I poured out my soul to God. I told Him everything, speaking in whispers, sometimes crying, sometimes praying silently. I told Him everything and I know He listened to everything. God took that knot in my heart and He untied it, gently, as always. I was at peace, a peace that only Christ can give. I've been back to the pond many times, sometimes with a hymnal, sometimes with my prayer journal and Bible, sometimes with just me, always with Jesus. He is my only source of true peace.


When I was 16 I got into a courtship (a fancy word for serious, discretionary dating) with a 19 year old young man. He was a good guy, but I was young and soooo unsure of who I was. It ended. But, wrongly, I didn't turn to God in my brokenheartedness, I turned to yet another relationship.

At 17 I met "him". Another one who broke my heart. I was rebellious. It doesn't seem to make sense that a girl so pursued by Christ and so loved by such a wonderful family would stray so many times, but I did. It wasn't a good situation. I gained a lot of heart-baggage.
It hurt.

My pain led me back to Christ.

Jesus took my broken heart and slowly and gently mended it back together. Never once chastising me, but 0nly rejoicing in me being back in His arms.

Now I'm 18. Sooo much has happened this past year. So much change. My brother (and best friend) went off to college. My sister got married and moved 8 hours away, taking her son (my beloved nephew) with her. I graduated from High School.

ah, Graduation.


Here's me and my mom at my graduation party. I had no idea the ride life would take me on in the next months.

What does one usually do after high school? One of two choices: go to college or go to work.

I did neither.

But what I did do is PRAY PRAY PRAY! In fact, I wasn't the only one praying. Many ladies, my older sisters in Christ, prayed for me too. We prayed that God would show me HIS will for my life. I didn't want to college unless God was sending me to college. Maybe He wanted to send me on a mission trip, I'd be ok with that. After all, I wanted to do something BIG! And in my mind, I hoped that God wanted me to do something big too.

I had an amazing summer full of beach trips, missions, parties, friends, and more beach trips! God really blessed me. At the end of the summer mom and I went on a silence retreat and the ladies who had been praying for me came over for my birthday. They told me what God told them. It was such an emotional day.

Here's some of the things God showed me in the Silence Retreat*:

"Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God..." (Is. 55:5)

"Do not fret because of evil doers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord... Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness...rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him..." Psalm 37:1-5, 7a
"Cease striving and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." Is 40:31

"For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness." Galatians 5:5

"Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season..." 2 Timothy 4:2

It's clear to see what God has called me to do in this season: Wait. No, I'm not waiting for a husband, I'm waiting on the Lord. But before I get into that I'll continue in what else God showed me...

Here's what the ladies heard from the Lord in my behalf:

Mrs. Liggitt said that the verse that kept coming into her mind as she prayed was Psalm 119:105, "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." She said that when you walk with a lamp you can only see a few feet in front of you at a time, you can't see the whole way. It's the same with God's will for your life, you can only see a little ahead (if at all), but GOD knows what the entire path looks like and wants to cultivate faith in your heart as you trust Him, making Him a light unto your path. I don't know why God would have me wait, I don't know what's ahead, but I can have faith that God knows the path ahead and He lights my way.

The younger Mrs. Liggitt (daughter-in-law of the first) didn't have a verse, but she did encourage me and strengthen my resolve. She said that a decision to go against culture (not going to college or to work) is socially unacceptable. But, she said, get used to it. The life of a Christ-follower is never "acceptable" to the rest of the world, this step of following Christ's will for my life (instead of my own) is the first of many steps that everyone else are going to think is crazy. But it's right.

Mrs. Rauscher gave me a verse that I actually got from the silence retreat, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday." Psalm 37:5-6. I received SO much from Psalm 37.

A few days later I got call from my recently married sister Erin. She gave me the verse Colossians 1:9, "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." I am SOOO blessed to have so many praying for me. My bro-in-law Dylan gave me the verse Ephesians 3:13, Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulation on your behalf, for they are your glory."

So here I am. Waiting. Sometimes I'll admit, it's not much fun. I'm the girl who wanted to do BIG things. You know, like end human trafficking or solve world hunger. But God has a different plan for me. I am, as Psalm 37 says (above) dwelling in the land and cultivating faithfulness. What does this mean? This means that I'm learning. I'm serving. I'm being behind the scenes. Growing up. Growing closer to God. Not the most glamorous in the eyes of the world (or in the eyes of many Christians for that matter), but it's right, and I can honestly say, as much as I struggled at first, I wouldn't want it any other way. God has given me this time to spend with Him. What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and love Him forever.

I've learned a lot, that's for sure. I've learned how to lean on God and not on the standards of others. Oh you'll learn real quick how to not lean on the standards of others when you tell them that you're not going to college. I've learned to say it real fast and then flinch, waiting for their rebuttal. Funny how people think they know more than God about how life should go.

Get this, one time at youth group I was talking to a (CHRISTIAN!) woman and she asked me where I was going to college now that I had graduated (she assumed that I was of course going to college). I told her that I wasn't going, but then I explained how I had prayed about what God wanted me to do and He told me to wait on Him and largely, to spend my time serving Him and serving others. Hoooowhee! the look she gave me. She just shook her head and spat out a bunch of reasons that I should go to college. Then it was my turn to shake my head! I wanted to say (but didn't, out of respect), "I'm sorry, maybe you didn't hear me correctly, GOD told me not to go to college. Yeah, you know, GOD...the guy who created the universe and knows everything..." lol I can laugh about it now, but it truly was a struggle to get so much scorn from people I hardly knew (or worse, people who's opinion I treasured!).

I even wrote about it in my journal, "Y'know, following this socially incorrect pattern God has ordained for me wouldn't be so hard if it weren't for other people and their pointed questions and comments. Serving is not a dumb or pointless occupation. I just hate the blank stares and judgemental looks I get when I tell people I'm not going to college..."

But my hope is in Him. He's taken me on many little "adventures", as I call them, since then. Different doors He's opened and places He's sent me. The other day I read this in the Bible, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you...Then I said, 'Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.' But the Lord said to me 'Do not say, I am a youth, because everywhere I send, you will go, and all that I command you, you shall speak, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.' Declares the Lord." Jeremiah 1:5-8. This is what I'm living right now, where He sends, I go, what He commands, I say (or, hopefully I'll be brave enough to say...I'm still struggling). God is sooo good to me. I have been blessed over and abundantly. Right now, a door has recently closed, and I think I see another opening, still praying about that.
(P.S. on this last little bit. Notice that the verse here in Jeremiah states "before you were born I consecrated you"? Interesting note, my name, Elisa, is derived from Elisabeth, which means, Consecrated to God. Chance? I think not. PTL)

Ok, where was I going with this post...Oh yes, in the end, my friends, as you can see, I have been SOO pursued by the Lord. He is my everything. Yes, I will fail again and again and again, but He'll still love me. Just the other day I experienced His love in the midst of my failures. Actually, love in the midst of my doing well. I had had a great day, full of serving and kindness, I thought I did quite well. I was lying on the couch, exhausted, and realized something. God loves me just as much on that day as the days before when I had been in a bad mood. God loves me just as much on that day when I did so well, as He does when I am rebellious. Mmm, don't we serve a merciful God!

So, I'm still here, dwelling in the land. Who knows how long I'll be here, but you know what? It's ok. For right now, I'm at peace in the will of the Lord, and there's no where else I'd rather be.

Unless, of course, God wants to send me on another adventure :)

"The clear cold wind,
Lord, You are there,
as the chill unwinds my ringlets of hair.
The sun glistens on the trees,
I feel the warmth on my face,
Closing my eyes,
as I bask in your embrace.

The ripples in the water,
reflect blue sky above.
Your peace wells up inside me,
as I marvel at Your love.

The mourning dove sings,

It's eery song of praise,

Lord, I am waiting, please, don't delay
."


(written down at the pond, sitting on the stump sometime after I learned that God wanted me to wait)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Another book...

I just finished a fabulous book today: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.


A very interesting and enlightening read.

This book is about the hearts of men and how they are wild and free and totally meant to be that way. God created men and women differently, inside and out, we're different creatures with different desires and inclinations. This book brings out those differences and sheds a godly and scriptural light on them.

A lot of times churches, societies and women try to feminize men and make them into something they're not (and never should be): safe, sweet and tame.

"That strength [that makes man wild and free] so essential to men is also what makes them heroes. If a neighborhood is safe, its because of the strength of men. Slavery was stopped by the strength of men, at a terrible price to them and their families. The Nazis were stopped by men. Apartheid wasn't defeated by women. Who gave up their seats on the lifeboats leaving the Titanic so that women and children would be saved? And have we forgotten - it was a man who let himself be nailed to calvary's cross. This isn't to say women can't be heroic. I know many heroic women. It's simply to remind us that God made men the way they are. Yes, a man is a dangerous thing.
So is a scalpel.
It can wound or it can save your life.
You don't make it safe by making it dull;
You put it in the hands of someone who knows what He's doing."

I love this. Such an awesome perspective! How many times I've squished the dangerousness out of the men in my life. My father, brother, brother-in-laws, friends, boyfriends...these men have a wild heart, God created them that way. And instead of trying to "tame" them and make them safe I need to encourage them to be the men God created them to be.

And something that super applies to my life:
"There are no formulas with God. Period. So there are no formulas for the man who follows him. God is a Person, not a doctrine... The adventure begins and our real strength is released when we no longer rely on formulas. God is an immensely creative Person and he wants his sons [and daughters!] to live that way too... So there comes a time in a man's life when he's got to break away...and head off into the unknown with God. This is a vital part of our journey and if we balk here, the journey ends."

Some of my favorite quotes and passages...

Life is not a problem to be solved...it's an adventure to be lived.

--

Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

--

Don't ask yourself what the world needs, Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because the world needs more people who come alive.

If you read the book, take caution, it's got some certainly skip-able parts. But over-all I'm so glad I read it, this book gave me a great perspective on men (and women too, actually!) and how their minds and hearts work.



awesome video - be sure to watch :)

xoxo

Friday, November 13, 2009

I am so rich...


I may not have my own car.

I buy my clothes at Marhsalls and Goodwill.

We may not get food at the Organic Market or go out to lunch at the coffee shop anymore.

{ But I am SO rich }

So blessed.

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard the rain pour down and the wind whistle eerily through the trees. But I wasn't cold, nor wet, nor scared. Snuggled under my big, warm, comforter, with food in my belly and not one, but two soft pillows under my bed, I was perfectly fine.


I ate dinner with my two wonderful parents last night. They joked around as my mom made dinner, and my dad snuck a kiss. There was no fighting, no arguing, no heart-ache.

My closet is overflowing with clothes.

My tummy is always satisfied.


My shoes always shod.

My clothes always clean.

My hands are soft, not calloused from hard labor.

Thanksgiving is coming up, a time where everyone seems to stop for just a moment, and count their blessings.

Be thankful, because I'm pretty sure, you're rich too.

For ways to give this season, check out:
Samaritan's Purse
Compassion
and
Warm Blankets

{ I am so blessed }

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
"
Ephesians 1:3

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It seriously bugs me when...

Parents talk about their kids as if they're some sort of infestation.

Parents being soooo excited for kids to go back to school so they can finally get some peace.

Parents who tell me how difficult their life with their teenagers is.

Ugh.

What I love, though, is when...

I see parents having fun with their kids.

Parents think their kids are funny and laugh at their silly jokes.

Other kid's parents are at all like my parents.

You see...

My parents are the BEST!

and i love them.

xoxo

the end.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I had a dream I could fly...



This has kind of been my theme song lately. I love it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I am.

Being a high-school graduate who is not going to college, working full time, or in a serious relationship, I had a difficult struggle dealing with my lack of "definition". I'm not a student. I'm not a wife or mother. There's really no socially correct definition for who I am.

But, then again, I never have been socially correct.

What I am...

A Christian.


A daughter.

A sister.

A friend.


A pianist.

A cook.

A blogger.

An artist.


A photographer, capturer of beauty.

A student and lover of life.

A worshiper of Christ.


A bit of sunshine.

An actress.

What are you?


Sunday, October 18, 2009

What is truly beautiful?


"How beautiful are the arms, which have embraced Christ-the eyes which have gazed upon Christ, the lips which have spoken with Christ, the feet which have followed Christ. How beautiful are the hands which have worked the works of Christ, the feet which are treading in His footsteps have gone about doing good, the lips which have spread abroad His Name, the lives which have been counted for Him."

Christina Rosetti, 1880

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Peace in the face of lions...



These pictures inspire me.

First of all, the art is beautiful.

Second, Daniel's peace in the face of such a terrible fate amazes me! In the first picture he is calmly standing, firmly, in front of the hungry lions. Yet, he doesn't seem to falter. He is trusting God.
The second picture, the lions are pacing all around him, seemingly ready to pounce, and Daniel doesn't even pay them any mind. He just looks up to God, with serene countenance.

We've all heard this story so many times, it often ceases to be interesting. But Daniel's faith and trust should be something we always remember. He didn't know he wasn't going to be saved, the lions could have eaten him. Many wonderful, godly Christians were killed for their faith. Daniel could have been one of them. Even still, in the face of danger and pain, he was surrendered to his Lord. Whatever happened, he knew that God was in control.

This pictures make me wonder, what are my "lions"? Probably not fatal, but things like: mean "friends", major decisions, a broken heart etc. And, as I stare those lions in the face, am I surrendering the outcome to Christ?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

this touched my heart...sooo much...



Check out Danita's website HERE.

How to pray for Danita's Children:

1. Pray for safety, health and protection of the children,staff and missionaries, and their property.

2. Pray for wisdom and discernment for Danita and the leadership for Danita's children.

3. Pray for financial provision that will make it possible for them to continue to rescue, love and care for orphans.

Monday, October 5, 2009

When God Writes Your Life Story - Book Review


When people grow up and become adults, they tend to forget their big, seemingly impossible dreams and settle for a dull mundane life. This book, "When God Writes Your Life Story" by Eric and Leslie Ludy, encourages you to give your dreams over to God and let the author of true adventure take the pen and write out your life story. An amazing book, I'd really recommend it to anyone, no matter your station in life. I just graduated from HS, so this has been an awesome guide-book for my next couple years as I start making big decisions.

One of the things that I appreciated the most, was the emphasis on prayer.
"True prayer is a passionate encounter with the King of all kings. True prayer is the music of heaven, a beautiful symphony of adoration and supplication in the throne room of the almighty God." (all quotes in this post are from the book unless otherwise noted)

Some other favorite quotes (I underlined and made notes all over the book, lol, as I often do. How can I help it?):

"When we approach God with a child-like assurance that He is exactly who He claims to be, the adventure begins and never ends."

"It's not what man achieves, but what he believes in and strives for that makes him noble and great." - Oslwald Chambers

"When God asks us to say good-bye to the things we cling to most tightly, it doesn't necessarily mean those things are wrong in and of themselves. But often, those things have such a hold over us that they stand in the way of our ability to truly abide in Christ."

"Simply share the undiluted message of Christ with both your words and your actions and you will become a map that leads others to eternal life."

"One day, [D.L.] Moody discovered the secret to a God-scripted life. And his spiritual existence was forever altered. 'It is almost too sacred an experience to describe,' wrote Moody later. 'I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to hold back His blessing.'" (emphasis mine)


Next up - Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris.

Happy Reading!

P.S. to see the rest of my book-list click HERE.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

my stinging knees and perfect bangs...


Ever since I've gotten new bangs, I have to spend about 30 minutes on my knees in front of the mirror blow drying and straightening my curly locks into sleek perfection. Including make-up and miscellaneous hair-dressing, this is about 45 minutes. As you can imagine, my knees have taken quite a scraping, they've turned dry and red and cracked.

The other night, I knelt down next to my bed to pray, my knees stinging with pain as they rubbed against the rough carpet.

But what stung more than my knees was the realization in my heart.

I'd spent hours upon hours that week on my knees trying to perfect my outward appearance.

How many hours did I spend on my knees in prayer?

"Edward Payson, a true inspiration to the church in his time, was known to have worn grooves into the floorboards where his knees pressed so often and so long during prayer."
- When God Writes Your Life Story, Eric and Leslie Ludy

Lord, please forgive me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ellerslie: School of Honor

This past week I learned about a place called Ellerslie: School of Honor (hence the title of this post). I think God may be calling me to go here (not to mention I would LOVE to go here).

What is Ellerslie? Here's an excerpt from their website:

"Mighty men and women of God are desperately needed. Raising them up is what Ellerslie is all about!

In an age where spiritual mediocrity is praised within the corridors of the Christian faith, moral compromise is overlooked, and the post-modern silt of the Emergent Church is tacitly exonerated in our midst, rescuers are required – Christians strong and ready with faith as their shield, flint in their forehead, and steel in their spine.

There is a need in this day for souls polished pure by the fire of God, hearts built courageous by the training of the Spirit, and minds tempered and harnessed by the unchanging Truth of Scripture. After all, who will stand when all others subside into a seated silence? Who will fight for Truth when all others have determined fighting for Truth to be harmful and incorrect? And who will win the heroes crown in this age of slackness and selfishness?

Ellerslie School of Honor isn’t intended to be the entire answer to the modern decline of the Post-Modern Church – but it is designed to be a part of the answer.

Ellerslie has been constructed with the sole purpose of building such saints and soldiers – arming men and women with the stuff from heaven’s war chest, training them for spiritual battle, and sending them forth into this world to spend themselves on the lost, the weak, the dying, the orphaned, the poor, and the oppressed.

We are not a factory merely for theological scholars, but rather, we are a boot-camp for those called to the front-lines of this great spiritual war. A new kind of lion-hearted Christian missionary is arising, and Ellerslie is one of the training grounds.

The time has come for the Church to rise up and remove the spit from the face of Jesus Christ."

(If you go to the Ellerslie home page, be sure to watch the inspiring intro video. It's so amazing.)

It would be such a blessing to be able to go.
Here's where you all come in, I need your prayer:

1. As awesome as a 2 month session at Ellerslie would be (talk about life changing!), I only want to go if GOD wants me to go. So please pray that I will do His will regarding this.

2. If, then, God DOES want me to go, I'm going to need some serious financial help. It's $5,000 for the 2 month program (which is what I'd be doing). My mom was right when she said that we might not have $5,000, but God does. So please pray for that.

Thanks so much, wonderful blog readers. You all mean so much to me. :)

Also, if you'd like to read...

Eric's article on Ellerslie.

and...

Leslie's article on Ellerslie.

xoxo

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

He restores my soul...


By Your Side

by Tenth Avenue North

(Listen to the song on you tube here.)

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you

My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chapter One - Smart Love


"It was finally here - Anna's wedding day, the day she had dreamed about and planned for months. The small, picturesque church was crowded with friends and family. Sunlight poured through the stained glass windows, and the gentle music of a stringed quartet filled the air. Anna walked down the aisle toward David.
Joy surged within her. This was the moment for which she had waited so long. He gently took her hand, and they turned toward the alter.

But as the minister began to lead Anna and David through their vows, the unthinkable happened. A girl stood up in the middle of the congregation, walked quietly to the altar, and took David's other hand. Another girl approached and stood next to the first, followed by another. Soon, a chain of six girls stood by him as he repeated his vows to Anna.
Anna felt her lip beginning to quiver as tears welled up in her eyes. "Is this some kind of joke?" she whispered to David.
"I'm...I'm sorry, Anna," he said, staring at the floor.
"Who are these girls, David? What is going on?" she gasped.
"They're girls from my past," he answered sadly. "Anna, they don't mean anything to me now...but I've given part of my heart to each of them."
"I thought your heart was mine," she said.
"It is, it is," he pleaded, "Everything that's left is yours."
A tear rolled down Anna's cheek. Then she woke up.

----

In the world around us dating and breaking up is part of everyday life. Kids as young as elementary school say they're "going out" with someone, only to drop them (or get dropped) within the week. In high school it gets worse as people date for several months, giving they're all emotionally, and sometimes physically, only to be callously dumped for someone else.

Josh Harris says in the book, "...I've come to understand that God's lordship doesn't merely tinker with my approach to romance - it completely transforms it. God not only wants me to act differently, He wants me to think differently - to view love, purity, and singleness from His perspective, to have a new lifestyle and attitude."

The Bible says in Philippians 1:9-10, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be purse and blameless until the day of Christ."

To really love someone with smart love, we use our heads as well as our hearts. Is it love when a guy pressures her to sleep with him, when he knows she will be forever emotionally scarred because of it? Is it love that a girl dumps her boyfriend, simply because she thinks she can do better?
"Smart love looks beyond personal desires and the gratification of the moment. It looks at the big picture: serving others and glorifying God."

Everyone else may be playing the whole "dating game", but we don't answer to them. We answer to God. Is your love life now pleasing God or yourself and the world around you? The Bible calls us to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ with absolute purity. Are you obeying that command in your life? "Let's make purity and blamelessness our priority before our all-seeing, all-knowing God."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Book!


Stay tuned for the first chapter!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

a beautiful garden...

Aubrey had some of her friends over for tea this afternoon, and I read the girls this story:

Once upon a time, a kind and wise Gardener created a beautiful garden – a sanctuary of splendor with lush, deep green foliage and rich, colorful flowers of every shape, scent, and size. A lovely trellis spanned a cobblestone path, filled with dreamy-scented roses of the softest texture and deepest hues.

Along the quaint path were fragrant herbs, carefully chosen and planted so they would work and grow well together, all with different textures and shapes. Some had long, soft, feathery leaves; others were full and spiky; a few were bushy and short. Nonetheless, each one had its own unique beauty and purpose in his garden, and the sight and scent of the choreographed blend made it a treasure to visit and brought great joy and satisfaction to the gardener.

Next to the beautiful garden was a rock quarry, gray and cold. The flowers by the fence nearest to the quarry began to turn their faces down toward the rocks on the other side and wonder what it would be like to be strong and smooth. It was true that the rocks had no roots, but the flowers did not really care about roots. Who could see those? It would be much nicer to be big and strong so everyone could behold their powerful shape.

As they gazed upon the gray lifeless rocks, the flowers began to covet the rocks’ strength and coolness. They grew discontent with their purpose and design and began to despise the beautiful colors and delicate leaves and petals with which they were adorned. No longer were they satisfied with their own simple beauty. The wayward flowers rejected their delicate leaves and vibrant colors and instead wished to be made of stone – desiring only strength, weight, and power of the granite. These errant flowers became known as the fence dwellers.

The Fence Dwellers began to rip off their beautiful petals and leaves and refused to produce seed. After all, the rocks did not produce seed, so why should they sacrifice in such a selfless manner? The Fence Dwellers covered themselves in clay in order to hide their vibrant colors. Soon they began to crouch low to the ground, trying desperately to resemble the rocks they so deeply admired.

As the older herbs, ivies, and bushes that lived farther inside the garden began to notice the strange behavior of the flowers, they laughed. How foolish the flowers looked: barren of petals, covered in clay, attempting to be something that they were not.

But soon, the new seedlings within the garden began to listen to the stories of the Fence Dwellers. And as they grew, they too tore their own delicate petals and dusted themselves with clay – halfway up their stems; they were not yet as daring as the fence dwellers who were tempted daily with the sight of the rocks.

The young plants desperately wished they could uproot and live next to the quarry like the Fence Dwellers so they too could see the magnificent boulders and witness the impressive strength of stone. Something about the boldness of the Fence Dwellers and the stories they told the younger plants of the garden caused a strange spirit of yearning throughout the yard…and things began to change.

Resulting Anguish

Within a short period of time, the vibrant color and stunning beauty of the garden were covered in mire. Instead of the sweet perfume of lavender, rosemary, lemon verbena, and blooming flowers, the stench of decay prevailed. The birds looked elsewhere for a home. They were not interested in sheltering their young in a place void of greenery and lacking in beauty. The bees, butterflies, and other insects and wildlife found little nourishment here any more and visited the garden less and less often.

Surprisingly, the Fence Dwellers did not realize they were shriveled and dying. Their bald heads were stripped of petals, and the clay was suffocating their stems – yet they still yearned to be something they were never intended to be. They were blinded by their own vain desires and remained with their faces toward the quarry – turned forever from the Gardener.

The Gardener walked sadly through his creation and sighed. He noticed the tender plants with clay halfway up their stems and missing petals – the result of a self-imposed deed. He shook his head in dismay.

“Why have you covered yourselves in clay and removed your petals?” cried the Gardener. “I have created you in the way of my choosing – for my own purpose. But you have rejected my ways and set your eyes upon foreigners and have adorned yourself in mud and grime. You have ravaged and exposed your own bodies.
Do you not know that you belong to me? This was a wicked and foolish deed. You have emulated the Fence Dwellers and have followed after those preferring death. They have chosen cold and hard barrenness over the true beauty of a warm and tender life-giving existence. Do not attempt to mimic those of the quarry or their followers – those who never belonged to me. There you will find only death and desolation.”

The plants of the garden shivered and hid their faces; however, the Fence Dwellers did not hear the words of the Gardener, for they were no more. The plants who belonged to the Gardener solemnly watched as the last remnant of the Fence Dwellers’ decomposing stems blew quietly over the fence to rest upon a large boulder. Here the scorching sun would finish the job of destruction until nothing remained.

Joy in the Morning

The Gardener turned to his creation tenderly. Silently a raindrop landed on the fragile leaf of a basil plant. Three more brushed the buds of a rosebush. Soon a torrent of raindrops poured from the sky, cleansing and refreshing the filthy clay-covered plants. The dandelions wept with joy as the lovers of self repented and turned to the Gardener forevermore. Fresh blossoms opened and the scent of life and beauty filled the air.

The Gardener held out his arms, threw back his head, and laughed a deep, hearty laugh. He was overjoyed with the display of color and renewed health that he had granted his creation. After the rain subsided, the Gardener rested in the shade and summoned the birds to come and sing in the branches of a nearby pear tree. Soon more birds followed to nest in the profusion of greenery and scented blossoms. Bursting with life, the young flowers called to the bees to come share their nectar, and the butterflies joined them.

From that day forward, the plants rejoiced in who they were and did not desire to be anything other than what they were called to be. Their only desire and purpose was to please the Gardener and cause him joy forever.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Blog!

Check it out!


But also stay tuned with Felicity of the Heart, since I will be posting on both.

love!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I've been tagged!

Tagged by Kirsten!

What's your current obsession? Hmm...healthy eating. I've really been focusing on what I eat and how much I eat. And learning about different exercises and running! We'll see how long this obsession lasts...lol. Pretty soon my healthiness obsession will be replaced with a junk food/movie obsession or something! haha

What's your weirdest obsession? perfectly sharpened pencils. I "stole" the electric pencil sharpener from the classroom and now it sits on my desk, well used...more like OVER used. Why someone *coughs* Ben! *coughs* would settle for rounded pointless pencil tips is waaay beyond me.

What are you wearing today? Today was a work day - gray tee, plaid shorts and bare feet. Sadly, I haven't left the house all day! (which was probably a good thing...considering what I look like, LOL!)

Why is today special? Because we're preparing for Kimberly and her 2 adorable sons to come visit tomorrow!! Oh! and it's my wonderful Brother-in-Law's birthday!

What would you like to learn to do? Oh goodness! Is "Everything" a legitimate answer? Some of the things would be ballroom dancing, how to play the guitar, banjo, drums and fiddle, learn how to dive (isn't it sad?! 17 and I STILL don't know how to dive!), swing dance, barn dance, gallop really fast on a horse (with the wind blowing through my hair!) and maybe even take a couple of jumps, sky-dive, how to not overanalyze... etc.

What's for dinner today? Tonight we had beef stew and cheesy bread. mmm...my mom is good cook!

What's the last thing you bought? pack of spearmint stride gum. :)

What's your favorite weather? Early spring, partly cloudy, lower 70's...with the windows and doors thrown wide open, dinner alfresco on the porch and surrounded by family.

What's your most challenging goal right now? So many! My MOST challenging goal at this very moment is getting everything finished for graduation this Saturday. Then after that it will be figuring out what God wants me to do with my life. If you think of it, please pray for me as I decide where and what God will have me do. :)

What do you think about the person who tagged you? AMAZING! I love reading Kirsten's blog, she seems totally on fire for God! I love that! I haven't seen her in absolutely FOREVER but she seems super fun!

What hobbies do you enjoy? Music, reading, decorating, cooking, sewing, writing songs...

Favorite vacation spot? Hmm...that I've been or where I want to go?
That I've been to: Florida! I loved seeing (and smelling!) the beautiful orange orchards, and the Gulf coast is breathtaking!
That I'd like to go to: Italy :) the culture, dining, people, relaxed way of life...mmm...my vacation would probably end up being extended...forever.

What would you like to have in your hands right now? Money. Sounds materialistic (and probably is), but if I had a bunch of money in my hands I could place it in my emergency fund, or place it in an account with a high interest rate. That way I wouldn't have to get a job and I could spend all my time learning all of those things I want to learn (see above question).

What would you like to get rid of? My desire to do things my own way and not God's. If I would just do what God wanted me to do, then life would be sooo much better. I know this and STILL I hold onto my own will...*sigh*

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? Hawaii, watching one of those gorgeous sunsets my mom is always telling me about.

What's your favorite thing about the city you live in? Yanceyville? oh dear...slim pickin's around here, lol. My favorite thing about Yanceyville is the annual Spring Fling (in the spring, obviously) and Bright Leaf Hoedown (in the fall). They are fun country festivals with fabulous southern barbeque (nothing like the northern stuff), interesting booths selling a variety of merchandise, small rides, the usual fair treats (snow cones, funnel cakes, lemonade...), hay rides, and a country music show. The Spring Fling even has a tractor pull! As redneck as these festivals sound, they are SO much fun. I like to get on my jeans, t-shirt and cowgirl hat and let the southern sights, smells and sounds bring out my inner country girl!

If you had $150 now what would you spend it on? Clothes, sheet music, or put it toward some sort of musical instrument. Oh, actually, I'm in the process of re-decorating my room, so I'd probably purchase a pretty duvet cover to match my new creamsicle colored walls and some new pillows.

Do you admire anyone's style? Yes, I like the style of people who don't necessarily follow the fads, fashions or trends but still look amazing and different and dress for who they are not for who people say they should be. My friend Charity's personality is dramatic and daring, and she dresses in dramatic clothing - long black jackets, red scarves and even black gloves with the fingers cut off. I may not wear it, but it's SO her and I love it on her! My friend Jay is a free-spirit, fun loving crazy man and he dresses hippie-style complete with a Tye-dye tee, flip-flops and bandana headband- love it! Another friend of mine, Angel, is a fun loving, crazy girl with a hint of drama, her sleek hairstyle, skinny jeans, heels and funky tees are totally her!

Describe your personal style. My style? Hm, still working on that one. I am tryng to go for the boho look, and my gigantic mane of free-flying curls can totally pull it off. I guess I would describe my looks as a Bohemian Classic - if that's possible. lol

Who is someone your heart is missing right now? My sisters. I TOTALLY took them for granted when they lived with us (Kimberly is in Utah and Erin in Georgia, both married and happily thriving) and now that they're far I miss them terribly. :( I just love being around them and spending time with them. I love my friends, don't get me wrong, but there's something special about spending time and hanging out with your sisters. They are my kin, my blood. We have the same memories and inside jokes. Aw...now I miss them even more!! But I will see them both this week, Kimberly is coming tomorrow and Erin on Friday! Yay!

Are you good at painting your toe nails? Usually, but lately I've really been slacking off in the nice-nails department. But summer time is rolling around...wait! summer is here! So nice nails are kinda necessary...ugh! I'm just so lazzzzzy, and who has time to paint toe-nails!! lol

Oh and here's a beautiful french song I found today. The one linked here is sung by Louis Armstrong in english, but along the side bar you can find it sung in French by Edith Piaf. It's very nice :) appr├ęciez la chanson!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

random bursts of elisa

I love life - automatic-flush toilets scare me - thunder is one of the best things ever, especially when it's so powerful that the floor shakes - i love the smell of fireworks, especially sparklers - i don't really like animals, yeah, i know that makes me some sort of creep, but it's the truth - without music...my life would be very quiet and gray. music is the color on my canvas. - i like fun-to-say-words, like "squeegee" or "theodolite" (survey tool...) - i love seasonal activities: picking strawberries in the summer, making applesauce in autumn - i have a gigantic mane of light brown curls, of which i hold an ever-changing love/hate relationship - i love alfresco dining - and the smell of sprinklers and wet grass - sitting cozily by a crackling bonfire makes me very happy - i love the stars - and big, heavenly, billowing clouds - i like road trips that include lots of fun stops, and if we stop at a gas station (and i have money...) i will be buying a three course meal of candy, soda and beef jerky - i like good food. if i'm going to have macaroni and cheese, i want homemade delicious cheesiness, not noodles-and-powder-in-a-box - coffee makes me sleepy, really. every afternoon i make myself a cup a'joe to wake myself up, and every afternoon i drink it and fall into a deep, late afternoon slumber - i loooove the beach - i love the smell of honeysuckle - jesus is most definitely my best friend - i have a phobia/adoration of gigantic storms, their power both terrifies and fascinates me - i hate math with utmost passion and think my big brother is crazy for majoring in it at college - i love ambiance - i am too easily charmed - my mom has cultured in me a deep love and enjoyment of beauty in my surroundings - i love spontaneous dance moves - i can't watch scary or violent movies without covering my eyes - i tend to have an immature sense of humor - i get queasy at the sight of blood - my favorite color changes every day, at the moment it's grayish blue - super-quiet people get on my nerves - i tend to be bossy - i love being outside - i love to dance, even though i'm no good at it - i like it when people pay me sweet, sincere compliments - i love to love people and be loved unconditionally - i am not perfect - i like to be crazy - laughing is one of my most favorite things to do in the whole entire world, if you can make me laugh, i like you :) - sunrises are the only reason to wake up early in the morning - sunday is my favorite day - inside jokes are the best - i'm definitely one of those silly girls who bursts out laughing in the middle of complete silence because of something that happened yesterday (or last week...) - i don't really like to talk on the phone - i love walking in the rain - i love to see fog over rolling hills - flowers make me smile - i am uber tall, and wish i was short - my favorite kind of people are those who see me at my craziest/stupidest/bossiest/whatever-ist and love me all the more for it - i need a convertible car, hair blowing in the breeze is the only way to go - music is definitely better when it's loud - i like big sunglasses, but i'm not brave enough to wear them - i care to much about what people think of me - i spend to much time on facebook - i write songs - one of the things i want most in my life is to be utterly, 100% in love with a man who loves me back just as much - one of my dreams is to go skydiving - i want to be good at hard-core extreme sports, but i'm to much of a wimp to learn how - i love to make things beautiful - ...

YOU'RE turn!! I want to see what makes you, YOU! what makes you happy? or sad? or just makes your world go round? comment and let me know!