Saturday, October 16, 2010

ireland, home, ireland, and home again

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
-1 Peter 4:11

Alright, two entries in the same month. Pretty soon the whole "Liz being horrible at updates" thing will be nothing but a distant memory! They'll be so many updates people will be sick of them/me! Awesome. Man, what a crazy past few weeks. Things have been pretty hectic since my last update but have also been so rewarding... once again I'm in shock and awe as to how good the Lord is with the opportunities and doors He's opened and the ministry He's allowed me to be apart of. The last couple of weeks have really been an encouragement to me in the fact that I've gotten to see first-hand the work going on in another part of Europe and not only that, have been blessed to have a small part in it. So, here it goes.

About two weeks ago, I led a group of students (nine of us in total) to the first ever Calvary Chapel conference to be held in Ireland. The fact that it was the first ever Calvary conference in that country really got us excited to be there to help out... but not even that excitement could have gotten us ready for everything that happened that weekend. The conference mostly consisted of families from the churches of the 5 Calvary Chapels all throughout Ireland. It was so awesome to get to meet so many different people, missionaries, pastors, church planters... but just to be around so many people who genuinely loved the Lord and had a heart for Ireland was probably the coolest thing. The way the weekend worked was simple- teaching and fellowship. The conference itself was held at a 300 year old manor house. This place was amazing! Pretty much as soon as we drove up to it all of the girls in the car (okay, myself included) started screaming "Pride and Prejudice! This is just like Pride and Prejudice!". Ha. No, but really the house was crazy. All together there was about 150 guests who attended. Adults were fed the Word in sessions and the kids had their own sessions too. Bible college students from Italy and Germany also came out to help so between the three campuses there to serve we had a pretty great team. I was put in with the kids which was AMAZING. We did it VBS-style, lots of games, crafts, activities, different work stations... and the theme of the conference (both for the adults and the kids)- "The Kingdom of God "(Parables) was conveyed through short skits we did for them every session. I got to play Suzy, the bratty (keep comments to yourselves, please) older sister of the main character Johnny....Sooooo much fun!

Throughout the whole jam packed weekend, I just kept thinking how awesome it is to get to meet people from all over the world who love Jesus. Sounds simple and pretty elementary, I know, but I think it's something that you don't really comprehend until you see it yourself- the vastness not only in culture but in background of the body of Christ. There were people there who, in normal circumstances, I would have had absolutely nothing in common with but through the bond of Jesus we were as close as family. It was also really neat to hear some of the student's reactions to the weekend... alot of these kids are somewhere between 18-20 years old, never lived away from home, some of them never have been outside of the States and here they are in a brand new country serving not only the family of God but Jesus Himself. Their faithfulness and up-for- anything attitude blessed so many people there that weekend.
And that was just one more blessing- knowing that we were serving so many pastors and workers who don't normally get a break or a rest to be fed Scripture the way they got to that weekend.... SO cool. Jesus is awesome. This is a photo of most of the team helping out that weekend- I think Germany left early that morning to go home before we gathered for the shot. It's taken in front of the backside of the house.

The weekend came to an end and we all flew back home to Mallorca. I was home for a few days and then prepared to go back to Dublin. A couple of weeks before the first trip the pastor of the church in Dublin who hosted the Conference had asked if I could help him out and come over for the weekend to lead worship at the church as he not only preaches but leads worship and was going to be in America and needed a worship leader. I went back not knowing too much of how things would go or anything really besides that I was leading worship for a church... but it was such a great weekend. I arrived in Dublin and was brought to the home of my hostess(es) for the weekend- the lovely Mariana and her daughter, Julie. These wonderful ladies made my weekend soooooo sweet. There was a whole lot of time to be spent making dinner, eating cake, and listening to Julie play the piano and watch her do amazing cartwheels (seriously, they were PERFECT, I could never pull them off). Here's a couple of pics of the amazingness that was Mariana and Julie....
...yeah... that cake was gooood.
The only kind of annoying thing that happened was the fact that I had a really weird cough that weekend... I could feel myself starting to get sick on our way back from the first trip and prayed it wouldn't get worse since I knew I was going back to sing the next weekend... And I did get better for a few days... until about the night before I left the second time. I was stressing a little bit, especially the night before church as it was the worst it had been... but through much prayer and Mariana filling me with lots of herbal tea and Vitamin C :), we made it through all three services (in three different locations!) on Sunday. Talk about total dependence on Jesus. But as always, God showed up and it was such a cool experience to meet different people from the different services. To see a different fellowship and group of believers and how they gather together is always a neat thing. The next day I was scheduled to fly out to make it back to Mallorca for work Tuesday morning... but before I did I got to spend some sweet time in prayer and sharing with Mariana. I was sooooo blessed by her heart for Jesus, she was more than a hospitable host :)

So as you can tell it has been a crazy two weeks. Being back in Mallorca has been great... I know that sometimes when you come back from a really great trip somewhere (especially a Missions/ministry trip), you can come back kind of amped up for the place you just left, maybe even a feeling of discontentment for your current location may creep in there... But I can honestly say how awesome it is to return with nothing of the sort! I just keep saying "Wow Lord, what a great trip! Had a great time and got to meet some amazing people who I will genuinely miss! But I'm so glad to be exactly where you want me to be right now at this point in time." Something else that has been imprinted on my heart is that although I know I'm so blessed to be where I am doing what I'm doing (serving in Spain under a great Pastor and an amazing staff, getting to meet and hang out with all kinds of young students from the Bible college, enjoying opportunities to travel and serve in places like Ireland), would I still be able to say "God is so good!" or "I am sooooo blessed!" even if things weren't so great? Am I only blessed because of God's goodness in all of the things that are happening right now for me, or am I blessed because He died for me and rose again? If nothing else good or pleasant in my life ever happened again would I be able to tell others or even write on this blog just how deep and sacred God's goodness is towards me in the fact alone that He saved my soul from the pit of hell? Don't get it twisted, I'm not trying to look for areas to condemn myself for no reason. I'm not saying that I shouldn't be excited or whatever about the amazing ways the Lord is blessing me right now but what I am saying is how inexplicably blessed I know I am in His saving grace alone... I deserved hell and instead He offered me life and not only just life, life with Him. It's completely befuddling to me why He would choose to bless but I know that He is so good to me, more than I could ever have hoped for. I know this has gotten kind of heavy and maybe even a little off-track, but it is something I really feel is heavy on my heart... God desires so much to give good things to His kids. But will we choose to worship and love Him no matter what, through suffering as well as blessing? I'm speaking to myself here mostly... It's my prayer that no matter what happens in the future I would be able to say a big, fat "YES" to that question- Jesus, give me the strength and steadfastness to worship You in all areas of my life, not just the ones that are easiest to.

Well, I hope this has been a blessing to someone... I know it's crazy long and maybe a bit scattered at times... but it's my heart :) God bless whoever it is reading this, hopefully it will have encouraged you even in the tiniest bit to draw closer to Jesus and seek out His heart more.

Until next time!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

finally! two years later...

this morning i woke up with the crazy idea to start a blog. i was inspired and (oddly enough) in an extremely motivated mood to begin one and actually keep it up... i went to blogspot and was surprised when it automatically brought me to the blog i already had. that's right. started one two years ago and forgot about it.

i can't promise that i'm gonna keep up with it or even have something terribly interesting to talk about, but i DO know that since updating people with my life is something i'm pretty much the worst at, i should try to be better at it... so if no one reads this ever it's okay, at least when people say "i never hear anything from you! you should start a blog!" i can say back "i have one!" . also, the Lord has been pretty much sledge hammering me in the face (if that's a vivid enough illustration) with alot of practical lessons lately... it's so weird to come to a place where you think you have a fairly good grasp on what may happen in, say, the next 5 to 10 years and then realize, NOPE. but obviously it's moments like that which open doors to be completely and totally dependent on Jesus... something you wish you would have been the whole time. but anyways, i guess i'm resurrecting this thing mostly for those on my newsletter who might like a more in depth, more frequent update on what i'm doing here in mallorca.... but also a little bit for me, as i know this particular season is a really interesting time in my life. would be cool to be able to look back and see what the Lord did.

this september marked three years for me in spain. crazy to think of how much has happened since then.... it really has been the case of if someone told me all of the stuff that would have happened from sept. 2007 until now, i probably would have either a). laughed or b). went home after my first semester. haha, jk. well, maybe a little bit serious.... but i'm so glad that i have stayed because honestly i can't express just how grateful i am to still be here, now on staff serving alongside people who i have come to know not just as fellow workers or co-laborers but as friends and look up to so much... i remember my first semester as an intern and just thinking "man, even if the Lord sends me to the jungles in the amazon or the bush in africa one day, i will always be able to look back at this time as such a blessing.... living and working with people who i love so much and respect and look up to. God is so good". although alot has happened since then and the last year has probably been the most difficult one since i've arrived, i can honestly say i still mean that statement i made back then- i have been so incredibly blessed to be here and have learned so much.... and the great thing is the learning process is never over... so we'll see what the next 6 months or so have in store :)

so, if you're reading this, good luck.... haha. no but seriously, if you actually do care enough to wonder how i'm doing, thanks! will try and be good about this whole blogging thing. definitely isn't naturally something i gravitate towards.... but we'll see. by the way, the picture above is palma, mallorca. if you ever wanted to come to visit spain, i really like visitors :)

-romans 8: 38 & 39

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

let's see.

"love is an ever-fixed mark" 



    throughout my (now count 'em, 5) semesters at bible college i've heard at least a dozen or so studies on love. any biblical theology student knows there are 3 basic kinds of love found in the original greek text- eros, phileo, and agape. we all know eros is the erotic love- the kind meant to be shared between a husband and a wife... or as our society has perverted it today to be shared between anyone or anything. phileo love is the brotherly, friendship kind. and then there's agape. oh, agape. there are books about agape. volumes upon volumes. but the truth is that you could read every single edition there is out there written about agape love and not understand a thing about it. scientists can't formulate it. the most gifted artist couldn't paint you a picture of it... the most talented lyricist couldn't write you a song with the equivalent of the beauty of agape love. true love can't be understood without the cross. 
    i absolutely love, love LOVE seeing older couples together. i don't mean people who are in their 50s and 60s but people who are at least 85- you know, the couples who have been married for 60 years and are still as in love as the day they got married. yeah, you know who i'm talking about... their love is so sweet- aged to perfection you could say. they know each other's ins and outs- they've seen the good and the bad... and the really bad. it's a love that's a conscience choice and is not afraid of speaking the truth. it's the dying on the bed at the same time, notebook style kind of love. it's the kind of love that only comes in time and through maturity. but, unfortunately... that's not agape love. really?... really.  
    i'm not usually an over-emotional, cry at the movies type of girl (i mean, really... i didn't even cry at the end of a walk to remember, you know when mandy moor finally gets married then she dies of cancer... i know... i'm heartless). however, if there is one thing that pulls my tear ducts it would have to be the love that a mother has for her children. i remember once watching a segment on oprah about this mother who put herself in front of a car which was rolling towards the edge of a cliff to save her kids who were trapped inside. she was paralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheel chair for the rest of her life. through tears she admitted the truth- if it meant saving her kids' life all over again, she wouldn't think twice about jumping in front of that car a second time. maybe it's because i don't have kids of my own (yet) but part of me doesn't fully understand that... and maybe won't until i do have my own. but the human instinct to love inside me naturally respects and admires it- you could even say is in awe of the unadulterated love that is second nature to mother and child. and as beautiful as that is, it's not agape love either. so... what is agape love? 
romans 5:8
"but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
   it's easy to overlook that verse... to take it for granted. as a Christian i've heard this verse more times than i can count. but it's the last part that always gets me... while we were still sinners. while i was still an ignorant, self-seeking, murderous, adulterous, lying, cheating, blaspheming thief (you think it's an exaggeration but it's really not). not, "while we were made perfect" or "while we were changed into righteous beings". no... while i was still a dirty, sick and twisted person Christ died for me. He died knowing that i have the free will to choose to love and accept Him or to live my life as if nothing ever happened. He died knowing my faults and (intense) failures- knowing the times well after i would come to be His child and still would screw up and let Him down. He died for me knowing that i would come to the point in my walk with Him that i would doubt and question His love for me at all... and that's agape love. that's the love that the world is looking for... the love that singers sing about, the love that artists try to capture, the love that poets write about and the love that men have tried to understand since the beginning. it's the love that transcends every kind of counterfeit imitation love out there... 
that's the love of the Father.