Wednesday, April 15, 2015

So Pull Me a Little Closer.


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.

Friends.
 
TODAY MARKS 730 DAYS OF MARITAL BLISS!
 

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!
Lizanne
 


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Playing Catch Up (featuring Scout).

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.
Lizanne

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Batey Central.


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!


Monday, March 9, 2015

Hey Monday. Hey March.

Hi everyone!

Welllllll, February really ran past us and now March is trying to do the same. 

From travels, to long work hours, to a mission trip, to 80-degree days followed by ice days, and now to the end of week-long sickness....we are more than a little ready for Springtime. The days have been GOOD, but I would be ok with them being longer and warmer. ;)

I can't wait to share with you what all has been happening, and what all I have been learning. For now though, I just had to get on this space and share this video and some quick words.

I've been blown away with the creativity of people in the ministry lately, and how the Lord has been using those creatives to speak truth and life in to my heart. Here's a spotlight on two specifically:


You father the orphan
your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
and your strength becomes our own
You're making me like you
clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
for you will have you bride
Free of all her guilt
and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name
and it's why I sing
Your praise will ever be on my lips
ever be on my lips.

Free phone/tablet background from


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wild.


One of my 2015 resolutions is to read 50 books (or more. here's hopin').

The first book I read this year was Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, which I happened to purchase during a kindle sale on Amazon (you gotta love those).

Despite the use of some salty language, and a few um, heated situations, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to my sister-friends. The main reason for my recommendation is because, while the book is "about " a physical journey in the wild, what stuck out to me was just a woman telling her own unique, messy story with brutal honesty, which I really admire. While I may not agree 100% with the author on some stances, Wild resonated with me and I'm really glad I read it.

I respect that Cheryl opens up to her readers about grief, lost relationships, divorce, and other heaps of problems. Who hasn't experienced or carried those burdens - or aren't currently? Who hasn't been hurt by life's circumstances- whether they were self-inflicted or not? While it was sometimes hard to read about her struggles, her humility encouraged me and stirred something in me to be a better wife, friend, and woman living on planet earth. While she may not have looked for the "answer" I would lovingly point her to (simply put, his name is Jesus.), I found myself rooting for her on her journey full of self-reflection, tragedy, and triumph. 

Plus, hello, she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. BAD-A GIRL POWAAAAAA.

One of my favorite quotes:

"Cheryl Strayed I wrote repeatedly down a whole page of my journal, like a girl with a crush on a boy she hoped to marry. Except the boy didn't exist. I was my own boy, planting a root in the very center of my rootlessness."

So if you're on the fence about this book (or contemplating before going to see the movie), I would recommend it!

Ps- I couldn't help but think of this book that I read in college while listening to this story. A different take on wilderness seasons that I loved so much! One of my favorite books.

Image is from Google Search

Dreamy Chicken Chowder.

We love to gather friends around our table often, and I've found it especially nice to huddle together over a meal when it's this cold and dark outside!

I recently made this soup as an alternate to some of my regulars (chili, vegetable beef, etc) and wanted to share it with you. It's simple and easy, but we all loved it! It's a perfect blend of hearty, creamy, comfort!

Let's call this, "Dreamy Chicken Chowder"


(and this is the best picture I have. Bless.;))
Serves: 6, Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 pound of chicken, cooked and diced/shredded in bite-size pieces
 (For the chicken, I used 3 breasts from my crockpot cooking stash (cook in bulk and freeze. thaw when needed), but you can boil, roast, whatever pieces of chicken you like)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 strips of bacon, chopped
1 pound of carrots, peeled and diced 
2 jalapenos, cored, seeded and diced (*wash your hands after!)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
1 15oz can of chicken broth (or homemade)
1-15oz bag of frozen whole kernel corn
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
A splash or two of dry white wine, optional

Directions:
Heat olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot on medium high
Add diced onions, carrots, bacon, jalapeno, and garlic
Stir and cook mixture until bacon is fully cooked and carrots get a little soft, about 3-5 minutes
 Optional: add wine to pot, stirring and scraping any stuck-on "bits" of onion and garlic
Add in cooked chicken, stirring to combine ingredients
In a separate, small pot add milk and flour and turn on medium, stirring constantly until thick
Add milk/flour mixture to the soup pot
Add chicken broth, the frozen corn, and the thyme, then turn up heat to bring to a boil
As soon as starts to boil, turn on low and let simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on

I served it with a big salad and some crusty, wheat bread a friend brought with them.

This recipe couldn't be easier, and I will be adding it to my rotation per AC's (and my) request.

For those following the paleo diet, you could sub unsweetened almond milk/almond flour and even leave out the corn (is it a chowder without corn? laugh. "Chicken soup!")

Enjoy, and stay warm, friends!

This recipe is adapted from this recipe.

Monday, January 19, 2015

New York: Day Two.

So, at the end of our first day in the big city, I squealed with joy as we got to see...


MIKE AND RACHEL!

Mike and Rachel were our first neighbors in Mississippi who became wonderful friends, and we hadn't seen them since they moved away last Fall. Their hometown isn't too far away from NY, and we coordinated visiting them while they were home for the holidays. I can't express how amazing it was to spend time with them! And how grateful we are that they and Rachel's family let us stay in their home. So generous and so fun! On Sunday, we stayed "home", where we shared some great meals, visited the church where they grew up and got married, and took in a lot of the Christmas festivities that were still in action.

Then on Monday, the four of us ventured back in to Manhattan and made a day of it before our crew had to leave. As evidenced above, I was beyond happy to be with my girl. ;)

We started the early morning by DRIVING in to the city. Yes. A real car. In to the city. With the GPS spouting some crazy talk like, "stay in the left lane to turn right." Pssh. I am still impressed with their brave  navigating and driving skills (while A and I sat in the back seat drinking coffee and "cheering them on"). 

First stop: One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.


...this is also where we were able to meet up with some other "far away" friends who texted that they were in the city that day as well. Lazir and Claire, what a GREAT surprise to spend the morning with you before we all ventured to our different places in the country world!



We all visited the museum and let me tell you, if you are in New York you NEED to go here!! This place was SO well-done, and was an incredible tribute to the heroes of September 11th. We spent two hours in the exhibits, and I could have stayed longer. 





As the afternoon rolled in, the crowds showed up...and we headed to the village for lunch at the Blind Tiger, per Mike's recommendation. This place had a great atmosphere and delicious food! (oh and some 20-something craft brews on tap. because, vacation). I would love to go back!



And if we hadn't eaten enough by then...MAGNOLIA BAKERY CUPCAKES! Amen.


Lastly, we strolled through more of the village and then on to Chinatown. Soooo much to see!


..and purchase?? ;)


Before long, it was time to head out of the city...



 And to the airport! Wah!


I hated to leave but wow, what an incredible time and trip that I will never forget. 

I'm so thankful to Jesus for amazing friends near and far, His beautiful creations, and the wonderful opportunities He provides. 

Til next time, NEEWW YOORRRRKKK, NEEEEEW YORRRRKKKKK.

New York: Day One.

During the last half of our Christmas break, AC and I took a quick trip to New York City!

We had the best time, and I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures with y'all. 

After a 5am wakeup call and quick flight from Charlotte, we arrived in the city early on a Saturday morning and were greeted by an absolutely gorgeous day. 


Our very nice and helpful taxi driver dropped us off in the Upper West Side where the walking adventure began. The plan was to see as many things as possible without breaking the bank, but we also wanted to take our time and not overwhelm ourselves with a strict schedule of activities. So we made a list spots that we wanted to see, and hit the streets ready.

Our first stop was Zabar's, a famous Jewish bakery and market. We were hungry and wanted to see what all they had to offer. Dairy products are one of Andrew's love languages, so we enjoyed some fancy cheese samples at 9am because, why not?


After more exploring, we each picked out a hot, fresh bagel and cream cheese. YUM.

Obviously, we ended up at the check-out (no line canyabelieveit), where I suddenly put myself in the grocery store scene in You've Got Mail.

"This is a cash only line. Cash only!"
"Geeze lady get in another line."

We walked from Zabar's to Riverside Park where we watched people running and cycling...while we snuggled on a bench and ate fried bread with cheese on it. ;) It was surprisingly peaceful and made for a lovely little waterfront picnic.


We walked through the park, where we both commented how quiet it was for the "big city"-- where we were honestly expecting honking horns and a plethora of curse words.

 Then we made a little coffee stop, once again based on my slight obsession with it's significance..."Tall! Decaf! Cappucino!!!!" (name that movie. ahem), where the baristas were such sweet little things and once again, the atmosphere was so pleasant. Maybe it was because it was a lazy Saturday, but man, everyone was just KIND.


Next stop was the "big park" where the quiet started to fade and the crowds arrived, but it was still so gorgeous and lovely to experience.(if you're noticing the two parks within the first hour of our arrival, it's because I was trying to ease my mountain man in... I think it worked.)


ps- I love this picture because it captures so much- mainly, two little country bumpkins in the big city with a big taste for adventure, a (guarded) pocket of money, and everything they packed nestled on their backs. I love adventures with this guy so stinkin much.


There was so much going on at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. Dance parties, musicians, artists, a propsal...and even a wedding!





We then hit all the "Christmas hot spots"...Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Bryant Park, The Met, the NYC Library, Grand Central Station...





.After that, we found ourselves dipping in to a small, quiet coffee shop to rest our feet (at this point, we had covered over 5 miles on foot) and whhheeeww decompress. I loved the mix of tourist spots, but the "local dives" were the best experiences.

Look at that little Asheville-born, latte-drinking, beard-stubble-sporting coming out...


At this point we decided to defer from our walking list to see the city from a different angle before the surprisingly bright, and ever-present, sun went down...so we grabbed hands and hopped on the subway all the way down to the Staten Island Ferry.

And Y'ALL I am SO GLAD we did.

It was absolutely breathtaking! (and hello...free of charge!)

"The Heavens declare the Glory of God!
the skies proclaim the work of his hands!"
Psalm 19:1


Relaxing on a fun ferry ride surrounded by the most BEAUTIFUL sunset was so wonderful.


AND THAT gorgeous skyline with all the light reflecting. It.was.magnificent.


Finally, we ended up at Three Monkeys, the designated "Clemson Alumni bar" where we ate and drank and reflected on the fun day. We seriously could not have experienced better weather, yummier food, nicer people, or just a more FUN mix of craziness and culture.

New York, you a'ight.