Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Women in the Word.

{June 16, 2015}

I've really been enjoying She Reads Truth's newest Bible reading plan entitled Women in the Word.

This has been a new (exciting and challenging) season for me and I've loved being able to dig in to Scripture and in to the devotionals that point to Christ through the different stories of women in the Bible. The month of June covers women from the Old Testament, while July studies women from the New Testament.

A friend gifted me with a BEAUTIFUL printed version of the devotion which I have loved using. The paper quality, the photos, the space to journal and doodle and highlight has been wonderful (thank you!). However, you're also able to follow the plan using your phone or tablet and your own paper journal (if you so choose). The devotions provide the scripture, a short commentary, and then a place to read the thoughts of other subscribers.

I loved this quote from a day in early June, regarding Noah's wife:

"But God called her to wait patiently, even as the waters rose and the earth gave way (Psalm 46:2). He called her to believe the storm would clear and that His covenant was true (Genesis 6:18). Noah and his wife were in the middle of a storm they did not understand, but they waited for the Lord, trusting Him to be their refuge and strength. God invited them to simply obey, and He was faithful to deliver them. We serve a God who fulfills His promises. Even before the floodwaters swell over our head, He has already prepared a safe passage."

Hope y'all have a great day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This Sweet Story. I Can't Deal.

{June 10th, 2015}

A friend just shared this story with me:

As you can see, the story is about a man with Autism who graduated law school and is now a licensed attorney. And well, I just need to make a list:

1. THIS GUY. "I want to help others with special needs to exceed their own expectations." Wow. What a humble spirit coming from someone who has beaten all the odds...AND HELLO: passed the California Bar (beyond difficult. 55% passage rate, people) on his first try. What a baller.

2. THIS MAMA!  "Embrace the child that you have and maximize whatever that potential's going to be..." as ya know, she DROVE her son to law school every day. I cannot even imagine! After years of therapy..and IEP meetings...and closed doors...and I'm sure lots of tears. She never gave up. Y'all. She drove her son to law school and sat in the lobby (and believe me, law school can be the pits). What sacrifice. What LOVE!

3. How can I better aim to teach, encourage, and instill this same truth of YOU ARE MORE THAN A STATISTIC to those with special needs in our community (and their families)? Really to anyone who is struggling that crosses our path? To help them exceed expectations? Or to even see past the limitations placed on them? How can I better rally behind those I love? So much to reflect on...

4. Parents of special needs children and adults, special education teachers, therapists, and support staff, advocates and cheerleaders...I love ya and am rooting for ya. Keep fighting the good fight. What you do is making a difference. You truly matter.

5. Is anyone else a little teary while watching this? Especially at the end when his smile is beaming and he thanks her?! Has anyone else watched this five times (three times alone then twice with their husband)? Just asking for a friend...;)


Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer, I love ya.

{June 1, 2015}

 Summer is here and it makes me so happy! 

We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend kicking off our favorite season.

Our parents came in town to visit and we celebrated A's promotion, explored some fun spots around town, and of course, ate some really good food. It was great to get to spend such quality time together!

On Monday we honored our fallen heroes and prayed for their families. We also continued to pray for our nation's leaders and those who are serving! So thankful.

Then with the day off work, we were able to sneak a coffee date. :)

We also made it to Michael's and took advantage of the Holiday sale. I finally have a front door wreath! Only two years in the making...:/

We also finally framed the flag that was flown in front of Tillman hall and given to Andrew when he graduated from Clemson. Only four years in the making...:/ laughing...

Last Saturday we ventured to our favorite little waterfront spot in town. I'm looking forward to spending lots of time here! Then we stopped by the farmers' market before heading home to grill.

Summer, here we come. :)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Worship Collective.

{May 31st, 2015}

Hey friends!

Last Thursday, our church hosted it's first-ever "Worship Collective" and it was really special! The "tagline" for the night was, "feast, edify, worship". We ate a delicious meal of street tacos, talked with and got to know other members of the church production team (those who serve in the band, behind the scenes, in the kids' ministries, and their spouses), and then met for an intimate time of worship and singing!

The band was on the floor with us (as opposed to the stage) and we stood around in a close circle. I'm so grateful we were invited to such an encouraging, refreshing, and FUN event. And Andrew did a great job on the bass...;)

I wanted to share one of the songs we sang together, which is a current favorite of mine.

"You are perfect in all of your ways!
You are perfect in all of your ways!
You are perfect in all of your ways, to us!
You're a good, good Father
it's who You are
it's who You are
And I'm loved by You
It's who I am
It's who I am..."

Have a great Sunday and a wonderful week!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Destin Days.

{May 4th, 2015}

At the end of April, my parents invited us to join them in Destin during their vacation. It was so relaxing and fun, and I'm so thankful they let us come hang. :)

We had wonderful weather...

We were able to spend lots of quality time together...


 We listened to great music...

Had a birthday celebration...

And of course, ate some really good food!

 Hey, C-130!

Can we go back now? ;)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Twenty-Seven- So Good to Me.

{May 1st, 2015}

 Birthday Celebration #27 (April 21, 2015) was one of the most special and here's just a few reasons why:

AC surprised me with homemade breakfast and coffee (my favorite!), a mani-pedi gift certificate (my favorite!), one of his famous (to me) hand-written, thoughtful, funny letters (my favorite!), and grocery store flowers (my favorite!). Oh, and lots of hugs (my favorite!). HE IS MY FAVORITE. Love 'em so much my cheeks hurt.

After my parents made their traditional early-morning birthday call filled with singing (my favorite!) I headed to work, where I was surprised throughout the day with all sorts of happies from my wonderful family and friends.

Cookies at work?! My first time ever. Everyone should get cookies at work on their birthday!

Several packages, cards, and more hydrangeas (my favorite!)
 Also, please die laughing at the card one friend sent. (insert crying-laughing emoji 1000 times)

THEN! Lucky me, my birthday happened to be on a Tuesday aka GIRLS' SMALL GROUP NIGHT!
All my Tuesday favorites came over and didn't allow me to lift a finger! They each brought a dish (or several). Basically, they catered a birthday party, because the food was THAT delicious. The best kind of food too, finger foods and salads (my favorite!) and good wine (you're getting the theme by now, my favorites!) We didn't even make it to the table. We literally stood around our kitchen counter talking, laughing, and eating. The best kind of get-together! They even made me a pound cake birthday cake (with no icing!)- so incredibly thoughtful!

AND someone (mama not pictured) brought their month-old nugget that we got to pass around and ooh and ahhh over! This whole "doing life together" thing...the messy, the hard, the fun, the celebratory, MAN it is truly the best.

Precious, beautiful, chunky babies!!! My favorite!!

Thank you so much, you kind and wonderful family and friends. My birthday was just perfect. There was nothing elaborate, yet there was SUCH big love shown in such special ways. It is truly wonderful to know that people have taken  the time to know me and love me. Y'all truly make my heart so full.

I love you all so much and remember this season with fond memories forever!

Friday, April 17, 2015

IF: Gathering {Austin, Texas}

{April 17th, 2015}
Still doing some catch-up posts. Thanks for stickin' with me!

Several weeks ago I traveled with two great friends to Austin, Texas to attend the IF: Gathering. This was my first time experiencing IF (and my first time experiencing Austin- wowee) and I loved every minute! An overflow of encouragement from authentic women of God, fun friend time, amazing worship, big city life, and lots and lots of Tex-Mex? Yas, honey.

Gorgeous scene at Austin City Limits.
Christine Caine, everybody! 
"(Speaking from Joshua 1) In transition seasons, Satan puts in fear. We are on the edge of the river, but we are still there- there are things we need to do. What's dead in your life that God has said is dead? Leave it at the foot of the cross and MOVE towards God's destiny for you!" -CC (love this little firecracker so much!)

 Magnolia Cafe, South Congress Cafe, Guero's Taco Bar, Annie's, just to name a few...(drool)

Shauna Niequist and her lovely mother, Lynne Hybels.
"Watching her walk her journey gave me permission to walk mine. Watching her struggle back to the faith was a blessing to me." -Shauna, on watching her mom while growing up (powerful!)

We were poured in to my so many other women of faith: Jennie Allen, Amena Brown, Lauren Chandler, Susie Davis, Debbie Eaton, Margaret Fienberg, Shelly Giglio, Jen Hatmaker, Esther Havens, Rebekah Lyons, Lindsey Nobles, Bianca Olthoff, Jo Saxton, Angie Smith, Laura Sobiech, and Ann Voskamp! There was also a guest appearance by Bob and Maria Goff! It was incredible.

annnnd of course, the Tex-Mex ;)

I'll leave you with this..Amen!!

xoxoxo, y'all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

So Pull Me a Little Closer.

{April 15th, 2015}

Some Wednesday morning thoughts for y'all.

Jesus Calling today reads:

"TRUST ME and don't be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure. When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for my kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust me, and do not be afraid."

And this.

"So pull me a little closer
take me a little deeper
I want to know your heart
I want to know your heart
cause your love is so much stronger
than anything I've faced.."
"Closer" by Bethel Music

Life is good, but life can be hard. Situations can be difficult to face. We may not know what the day, or the week, or that "something" way off in the future might hold. We can feel restless. We can feel afraid. Things may not go as planned. Our hearts may be troubled. Yet, Jesus says come to me. He cares for us, he loves us, he goes before us...His love is stronger that whatever we will face.

I'm not going to pretend to know your struggles, but if you're there in some capacity today, could I encourage you today to simply ask Jesus to pull you a little closer?  To show you his love and his goodness? I promise He'll show out.

Go forth with confidence today, friends! I sure love ya!

{ps mug pictured above is my favorite- from anthro!}

Monday, March 23, 2015

Two Years.

{March 23, 2015}


Two whole years of soaking up life with this guy.
Two whole years of utter joy, the deepest laughter, and handfuls of kitchen dance parties.

Two whole years of adventures, hardships, triumphs, and lazy snuggles.

Two whole years of wonderful memories...and just plain-out-BIG-OLE-LOVE.

Amen amen amen.

Many say, "your wedding day is the best day of your life!". Indeed, ours was an incredible day. The worship, the sight of my groom, the sweet vows, the laughter, the presence of family and friends, the twirls and the dips, the twinkle lights, the sweet little details, the kind words and tight hugs, the beautiful location, the beautiful day, the amazing band and the packed dance floor... everything was just PERFECT. I sure wish I could go back.

 But today, today is the best day of our marriage. Every day can be if we choose it. The past two years have been full of the best days. The marriage is even sweeter than the wedding (harder to believe, I KNOW it, girls. Especially those in the midst of planning.) So yay for beautiful weddings but an even louder praise for marriage!!!

Marriage is the best gift. Don't let anyone let ya think otherwise.

Thanks to all of y'all for your wise counsel, prayers, support, and examples you've given to us.

And biggest thanks to you, Jesus, because as we all know, "We love because you first loved us!"

Love y'all lots. Off to sushi!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Playing Catch Up.

{March 19th, 2015}

Hi everyone! How is it already March 19th? 

Here's an attempt to catch y'all (and myself) up to speed with what's been happening at this house the last several weeks.  And yes, they all involve pictures of Scout. What's not to love?

AC started his Masters this semester. His gals couldn't be more proud of him! We try not to sneak in to the office while he's working so diligently, but alas, it's just too hard sometimes. (especially since he's just so cute...and his feet are so comfy?)

I feel the need to clarify that he does indeed have on shorts in the above-picture. Laugh.

Small groups are still the highlight of our weeknights. Our "co-ed" group (I blogged about it here one time) is still going strong and loving Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human by Judah Smith. Such a great book! Then on another night, A gets together with some guys from work and I hang out with some of the coolest chicks on the block. I'm so thankful for the amazing friends we have here in town. So many meaningful conversations and belly laughs (and GOOD food. amen.). The other week, the girls decided to switch it up and take a barre class lead by one of our friends, and I loved it! I came home and had to lead some of the new moves. "Ok let's give me six more!"

As mentioned previously, we were thankful to tell some sickness bye after several days. After returning from the DR, we both felt sick, yet tried to "ignore it" and push forward at full speed. Needless-to-say... that didn't quite work. The next Saturday, I spent pretty much every minute on the couch with achy bones and no voice, but a lot of Netflix and hot tea. I at least had the sweetest little bedside nurses!

 Daylight savings time- amen! I'm so happy for longer days and coming home from work in the sunshine! Our long walks have returned and I'm so thankful. This nugget is, too...

I've been keeping up with my goal of reading 50 books this year. I really need to get on the ball and do some reviews for you guys, but clearly, the blog has been a LITTLE neglected recently (my bad). I finished Free Fall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons on our DR trip and I MAY be reading it a second time. SO STINKIN GOOD, Y'ALL.

This guy and I celebrate TWO YEARS of marriage on Monday!!
 Ah yeeeeea cel-e-brate good times, come on. Thank ya Lord for my little family!

Who else is happy to shake off the winter blues? {raises hand}

I realize life isn't going to settle or slow down anytime soon, so I'm trying to be more intentional about writing all our happenings down, even if seemingly mundane. Life is TOO good not to, ya know?

Would love to hear what's been happening with y'all, good or bad!

Love ya, mean it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Batey Central.

{March 18th, 2015}

The last week in February, we were given the opportunity to participate in a mission trip with our church to Barahona, Dominican Republic. The trip so surpassed my expectations, that I have had a pretty hard time articulating to friends and family just what it meant to me. 

The "mission" of the trip was two-fold. Practically, we were there to pour floors in a new medical clinic and in some homes in the batey, a neighborhood of Haitian immigrants transplanted in the DR after the 2009 earthquake. Ultimately however, we were there to grow and build upon a foundation of relationships with the children and families there. Our motto was "if it's not eternal, it's not important"; the most important thing was to share the unconditional love of Jesus. Thinking upon that, along with the principles of "Helping without Hurting", we hit the ground running in one of the most beautiful places I have ever set foot. I'm not going to lie. When I heard "we are going to do some concrete work, but also spend a lot of time with the school children," I walked straight past the cement being mixed and joined a group of girls playing games. I had found my spot. 

We were welcomed with open arms by the locals and the missionaries we were working alongside. The week before was so stressful, attempting to finish work and get everything ready for a week away. I had placed a lot of pressure on myself considering this was my first overseas mission trip. I spent a lot of time worried about how effective I would be, as I didn't want the locals to look at me and think, "Oh, here's that white girl that just showed up to take her pictures and leave". So, when we arrived and they ran to us with hugs and questions and giggles and this happy-love with no conditions, it was like "ok I'm supposed to be here!" and sigh, a breath of fresh air. We could not have had a more fun and rewarding time. The fact that it was 80 degrees and sunny with a constant breeze didn't hurt either.

 The whole trip was somewhat paradoxical in nature. I was so nervous, yet so excited. I was absolutely heart-broken by the circumstances, but so incredibly uplifted by the spirit of the people. I cried harder than I have in a while, but I laughed bigger than I had in an even longer while. I felt so rich by material standards, all while realizing how poor I am in contentment and true joy. I wasn't comfortable in my surroundings, yet I felt like a queen given the hospitality of our amazing host family. Our Spanish was less than mediocre, yet love, respect, and admiration could not have been communicated more loudly. I'm so happy to be at home with my American comforts, yet (and at the risk of sounding corny Christian) I'm pretty sure a piece of my heart is somewhere in the Dominican, mixed in with the rocks, the dirt, and the ocean air.

I learned so much about Jesus and His church. Church isn't a building. It isn't organs or man-made routines and traditions or projector screens or fancy prayer rooms. It's a body of people ALL around the world! I can now say that one of the most powerful church experiences I've had was in a concrete, open-air school building with about thirty people...with "Hosanna" in Spanish playing over one speaker plugged up to an ipod. ;)

I learned so much about my husband (confirmed: still the kindest, funniest, most hard-working, servant-hearted person I've ever been around). Watching him and the others we served with taught me that there are still people who gladly put others before themselves, who are willing to put in the dirty work (quiet literally) to see others' lives enriched.

I learned so much about myself. There's still a lot of heart-work to be done. There are still things left to be wrestled with and prayed about- specifically the deep pull in my heart to advocate for children and education in SOME capacity (and my er, tendency to run from it). I'm still unsure what that looks like exactly, though I do know it won't be that glamorous nor easy (hence the running). A friend once posed a wonderful question to me, "Lizanne, when do you feel that you are at your best self?"  Well, this trip provided some much-needed space for my best self to appear- surrounded by community, serving children and families, learning new things and being encouraged from others working towards a common goal.

Plus- hello, nike shorts and no makeup, covered in dirt and stickers, with the most beautiful children at my hip. I MEAN COME ON.

I also have to highlight some other tremendous happies:

Learning from the full-time missions families (they were so transparent and honest and we learned a LOT!)
Experiencing Dominican culture
Eating new foods
Drinking ice-cold cokes made with real sugar
Playing 162537 games of baseball with the kids
Having half my hair pulled while being braided by sticky little hands
Experiencing 916421050 hugs and snuggles
Sleeping with open windows and a breezy 70 degrees
Listening to the group's stories and experiences during nightly devotions on the porch
 Waking up every morning to a gorgeous sunrise over a mountain
Hiking said mountain with the group (first pic at the top of this post) and taking in an amazing view
Singing Hosanna in Spanish in church
Watching little hands raise high in praise of Jesucristo
Having lots of quiet, distraction-free time to pray and reflect and chat with Jesus
Riding in the back of a pickup through town and taking in all the sites
Seeing our marriage strengthened through shared hardships and joys
Being around the energy of the happiest, most polite children I've ever met
Resting in the fact I could be myself, and would be loved either way
Making life-long friendships

 (That would be Princess Lisa in her Clemson tee, her bearded husband Andres, and their two children, Anjel and Lusia. Laugh!)

Am I saying that mission trips are absolutely perfect and everyone should become a missionary? No. There will be moments of stress, not every moment is instagram worthy, and these trips can open some things in your heart that you're just not quite ready to deal with. We came back exhausted and with knock-ya-down colds. It was hard to transition back to work. We missed out on some fun happenings at home while we were gone. My heart ached for days after hugging "my kids" goodbye. Yet I'm so glad we took that step of faith and took this trip. I miss it like crazy and pray for the opportunity to return one day.

Full-time missions may not be for us, yet I now have a deeper appreciation for those who are in it. So if you're wanting to take a trip, yet are worried about costs or timing or your abilities, I couldn't encourage you  more to pursue the opportunity! These are all things that worried us, but God came through and we experienced an amazing time and trip. And we know we will still be learning from this trip for years to come. Jesus is so good, y'all. He truly meets us in the places of our doubt. He shows us how following the uncomfortable leads to great joy.

Thanks for reading this long post friends, and for encouraging us and supporting us on this venture! We sure love ya.

Until next time, Batey Central!