Memories of a great man

Today, my mind is constantly drifting to memories I have of my grandfather. I suppose it makes sense since it’s been almost a year since he passed. Here are some of my favorite ones: 

1) Anytime he sang. His favorite song until the day he died was one he learned as a child. Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Hearing him sing was wonderful and he did so until he couldn’t sing anymore.

2) His prayers – especially on Easter. He would stand (even when it was hard) and he would weep with JOY over the blessings he had received from our Father. It touched me deeply to see how overcome with emotion he was when all I could think about was that next bite of turkey. 

3) How he loved children in the house. His face just lit up when little children were around. He would smile and loved having my sweet cousin, Caoilinn (hope I spelled that right, Jill!) sit on his lap. 

 

My grandfather, was a great man. And as I sit here in pain over how much I miss him, I am comforted by this thought. 

That I do not weep as though I have no hope. I know where he is. And it’s a place with no more sorrow and no more pain. His back doesn’t hurt and his only focus is on his Savior. I know that is just what he would tell me too. 

So cheers to my grandad – and the beautiful example he was to me during his lifetime. 

“Where , O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

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A struggle with joy. Or, more accurately, a struggle with thankfulness.

I have been home from Brazil for two weeks now. And not a day goes by that I don’t miss the country, the people and the friendships made there. These two weeks have been hard weeks, friends. I have had several days where I want to be joyful. I look at my life and see so many blessings. I have wonderful friends, a wonderful church body. I have a family and a home. In May I’ll be starting an internship. And perhaps one of the most remarkable blessings I see is in my relationship with J. The guy is a trooper and I respect and admire him so so much. I see these things and yet, my heart is restless and I feel discontent and dissatisfied. And those only add to the frustration in my heart. 

On Sunday, I asked my mom if she ever had days where she wanted to be joyful but just wasn’t. She responded and then simply said “You know, thankfulness and joyfulness are closely tied.” And I realized. I am having trouble being joyful, because I’m not thankful. And that’s just silly to me. 

I remember telling J when we got to Brazil, that I thought my biggest problem would be coming home and feeling bad for being blessed to not live in poverty. And while I don’t consciously feel that, I think I’m feeling the effects of it. I think I’ve been spending these two weeks feeling bad about the blessings I have instead of viewing them as well … blessings. And friends, I’ve not been thankful. And I’ve not been joyful. And it’s affecting me. I go through days of deep sorrow and despair. I go through days where I know I’m hurting people that I love and I just don’t care. I am forced to spend constant time in prayer and repentance. And it sucks. 

But God is good. And His promises are good and never failing. One of this promises is that His love and His grace are sufficient. And He is growing me and changing me for His glory. And I am thankful for that. 

 

-E

 

p.s. I’ll post about my Brazil experiences hopefully soon. 

Amazing Grace

Today, I woke up, got dressed and went to a funeral.

Before I went, I had some time with the little kiddos I babysit. Esther asked me, “Miss Liz, how do you say goodbye to someone who is already gone?” I didn’t have a good answer for her.

The past few days have been exceptionally difficult and I knew today would be no different. It’s snowing here today. Normally, I love snow. But today it just felt so cold and grim. I got to the funeral home and there were plaques depicting what funerals were being held today. As I walked down the hallway, I couldn’t help but think, “this is what we’re left with… little plaques, tiny (creepy) funeral chapels, and a single picture.” That’s all that’s left to remember such an incredible father, husband, friend, uncle, brother and grandfather.

photo-2

I sat down and the pastor opened with the 23 Psalm. That was the last passage I read to my grandfather when he was in the hospital. That night, he was maybe asleep but still holding my hand. I got halfway through reading to him and then couldn’t read for a few minutes. Then he squeezed my hand and I absolutely lost it. Hearing it today, well, it made me really miss him for the first time. And the implication that he was gone, and I wouldn’t see him again this side of heaven, hit me like a truck.

We left the funeral chapel and drove to the burial plot. It’s so cold outside that we just sat in our cars and watched as they wheeled the casket to the grave. And then I watched as they lowered his coffin into the ground.

I’ve struggled the last few days with the thought of death and eternity. For a person to be in this world one moment, and then not in the next, is a hard thing for me to comprehend. I keep hearing this: “well, at least he was a believer” and let me just say that doesn’t really help. Yes, he was. And now he’s rejoicing in heaven. But this still SUCKS. Death sucks. Sin sucks. We live in a broken, fallen world.

Enough ranting. I will end with hope. The hope that this isn’t it. The hope that after death there is eternal life. The hope that I’ll see my granddad again. The hope that I will spend eternity worshipping Jesus. The hope that this sadness and grief will depart. The hope that Jesus will come and indeed wipe away every tear. He has overcome the world. There IS hope in that.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun – we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.” – John Newton

Post 4 – Hilversum, The Netherlands

10/19/12 Hilversum, The Netherlands

What a beautiful city Hilversum is. It’s fairly close to Amsterdam, and the drive was just amazing. Lots of canals – lots of water. We went on a canal tour of Amsterdam and parts of the city were great and old and majestic. And then there’s the ‘red-light’ district! It astounded me on so many levels. As a woman, an American, and a believer.

1) Woman: I was blown away by the fact that women were literally hanging out of windows, wearing practically nothing, waiting for the next bidder. That such an intimate act was being treated so perversely. Do these women really want to do this? Do they really want to live that way?

2) American: Pretty much everything that’s illegal in America is legal here. Prostitution, any kind of drug and the pick-pocketing is simply ridiculous. Therefore, seeing such things is completely foreign to me. I almost didn’t think it was real.

3) Christian: Someone commented to me that they believed, if prostitution was legal there would be fewer sexual offenders (mainly pedophiles) … let me just say this: Amsterdam is a city without remorse. It is a city with no regard for morality. Enough.

The couple I stayed with was truly fantastic. A sweet Christian couple who may just be the most generous people I have ever encountered. God has been so gracious to me on this trip. Far more so than I deserve. Every prayer I have sent up has been answered. He has continually provided in amazing ways.

Aside from Amsterdam, the Netherlands is spectacular (parts of Amsterdam are too). I saw windmills, castles, markets and I consumed a lot of stroopwafel. Yumm. I also got to hear the Dutch Royal Concertgebouw, perform at the Concertgebouw Concert Hall. Just spectacular. I got chills. The performance was about 2 hours but I could have stayed for 6. (PP is a spectacular violinist for the DRC) Lastly, but not least important, I made a new friend. I’m pretty sure MJ knows more about Amsterdam politics than I do. That is all from Amsterdam.

-E

Europe – Post 3 (Zug, Switzerland)

10/14/12 – Zug, Switzerland

What a wonderful day this has been. Milan and Kath sent me up Mt. Pilatus and I’ve never in my life seen anything so beautiful and majestic. What an amazing picture of God’s glory.

I left Zug somewhat early and took a train to Lucern. What a pretty town. Set on a lake, in the middle of mountains – it’s a town full of history and beauty. Really, all of Switzerland is this way. It simply cannot be described – it must be experienced. Upon arriving in Lucern, I took a bus to a trail. I then walked up the trail (which reminded me how terribly out of shape I am) and hopped on a gondola. This took me about half way up? Maybe not even half. It was small and I was alone but so excited and joyful. Well, the gondola stopped and I realized I needed to get on something different to go the rest of the way up. However, I noticed a sign about some toboggan (?) run. So, of course I had to check it out. I climbed up (another) hill, realized I was in ATROCIOUS shape (and that old people are better at this than me) and bought a ticket. I did it twice. 🙂 It was unbelievable. I raced down the mountain side and when I got down, there was this device to pull me back up. Let me tell ya, going up the side of a mountain (without having to walk), overlooking a beautiful lake, Swiss Alps, and the sun coming over the mountain tops is spectacular. In fact, I’ve decided all English words of praise are so misused that there is NO good word to describe it. All I could do was smile.

After my tobogganing (??) I found the second gondola that would take me up to the tippy-top of Mt. Pilatus. When we got it, I stared in shock at our method of transportation. We traveled upward at an insanely steep angle. At one point we were dangling a hundred ft up. It was slightly nerve-wracking, but also just plain fun. My favorite part was when it appeared we were close to the top (and would no longer be so high above ground but rather very close to the peaks themselves) but we went over a ridge and everything dropped off again and for a split second it felt like I was free-falling. Incredible. So absolutely beautiful and breath-taking. God is great.

Lucern

Beautiful Lucern

 

 

View from Pilatus

Pilatus

 

 

View from the tippy-top of Pilatus

Top of Pilatus

 

 

– E

 

 

Europe – Post 2 (Paris, France)

10/8 — Paris France

Well, my time in Paris has come to an end. I’m still in awe at how provincial God has been despite my doubts. I still have two hours before my train boards and I wanted to get some thoughts in. When I first arrived, I was certain I would not like France. It was dark, confusing, and I got lost. Here’s what I kept forgetting. God had(s) been so good to me. I was safe, unharmed, still had all my money and belongings, and everyone was very helpful. Although, as my waiter kindly pointed out, it’s probably b/c I’m a single girl. I just look pitiful.

I love Europe. I love how unique it is. In Scotland, it’s all hills and castles and knights in shining armor. In Paris, it’s classy, cultural and full of art and beauty. Part of me wishes I could be here longer, and the other part misses home so much that I want to count down the days till I’m home. It truly is spectacular.

My train stop

My train stop

Trying to be artsy

Trying to be artsy

– E

Europe. Day 1 – Edinburgh, Scotland

This is the first post in my ‘Europe’ series (none of these will be edited. I’ll post them exactly as written):

10/3/12 – Edinburgh, Scotland

“Well, I’m writing to you from a pub in Scotland. I love it. They were out of Strongbow so I’m stuck with a very heady Guinness. Being here has definitely been an adventure. I’m trying to adjust to jet lad but it’s so hard! After I finish my beer, I’ll grab a snack and head to whatever store I need to head to get a TOOTHBRUSH(!) and a razor. I don’t think I look to touristy yet? People seem genuinely surprised when I speak with an American accent. Hey, I’ll take it – I’m trying to blend! Tomorrow I’ll go shopping and picture taking. I will climb the hill to the castle! I need to buy a pair of boots first tho. 🙂

The time change is weird and I don’t like how much trouble I’m having communicating with people. I should probably download skype. People have such thick accents here. I really want to meet people and talk to them but I don’t want to be weird. Ya know? I have really fallen in love with this place. My biggest prayer right now is that I wouldn’t be timid, that I wouldn’t allow how others may perceive me to affect me and stop me from doing the things I want to do.”

Humbled, Broken, to the dust

I’m back.

My heart is so full that rather than tormenting you all with multiple status updates on facebook, I’ve decided to pound out a quick blog post. My trip, was, in a word, unforgettable. Today, I was back worshipping with my Karis family and God has just broken my heart in so many ways. I cannot even begin to talk about them all, but I sit here, broken.

I want to weep. I want to weep with joy. I want to weep with sadness. I want to weep in awe. What an amazing God we serve. As many of you don’t know, I’m planning on taking a missions trip to Brazil this spring. The thought of being outside of my comfort zone and serving the children of God rather than sitting in comfort thinking about how I can be served is a surprisingly refreshing thought. I long to see our Lord come, but until He does, I want to further His kingdom to the best of my ability. I want to sacrifice my ideas of what I think my life should look like in order to let Christ perfect His plans in me. I sit here broken.

Friends, I have been around people suffering unbelievable tragedy the past few weeks. People who have suffered and lost everything. And here I sit, in peace and comfort, so easily forgetting how richly I have been blessed. I sit here humbled.

I want to leave you with some lyrics from one of my favorite songs:

 

“Come broken and weary, come battered and bruised, My Jesus makes all things new …

Come lost and abandoned, come blown by the wind. He’ll bring you back home again …

Come frozen with shame, come burning with guilt. My Jesus, He LOVES YOU STILL.”

 

Love,

E

p.s. On Tuesday will come the first post in my ‘Europe’ series. Stay tuned.

Fall

Friends, 

Welcome to my most favorite time of year – fall. I love everything about it. I love the cold weather, the delicious seasonal drinks, scarves, fleece jackets, burrowing under all of my covers with my sweet dog, knowing that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, impending snow, the variety of colors, and just the joy I feel when I am not sweating. This time of year just brings me joy. Plain and simple. 

Also, it’s football season, which doesn’t mean much to me, but means a whole heck of a lot to the crazy people that live in this town. Seriously. It’s nuts. But, whatever. Today is just perfect. It’s about 65 degrees and sunny with a beautiful breeze. I woke up and thought, ‘I’ll be this is what Scotland will be like’ and I got SO excited. I leave in 3 weeks and 3 days!!! SO SOON!! I’ve been working on my packing list and putting the finishing touches on my schedules and tickets. woooooot. Now I just have to figure out what I’m bringing back for people. If you have any requests feel free to leave them in the comments but know that they in no way ensure I will actually oblige. 😉 

Lastly, it is with GREAT pride, that I announce the arrival of ANOTHER niece or nephew. March people. It’s coming. So pray for my sister and the health of that sweet baby. God is great. Always. 

Love, 

Europe

Friends, I apologize for my negligence. My mind has been so consumed by trip planning that blogging has flown out the window. Let me catch you up on the events of the past month and a half.

I have been vigorously planning my trip and it is with great pride that I inform you my planning is almost complete. I leave in 5 weeks and 3 days. The more I think about it the more excited I get. Seriously folks, what a great opportunity. Also, if one more person tells me to watch the movie ‘Taken’ before I go … they may get smacked. I am quite self-relient, independent and very paranoid … so (with God’s mercy) I think I’ll be just fine.

I would also like to share some of the ways that God has been working in my life recently. I have been so incredibly blessed. It’s just unreal. I’m not sure how to say this in a way that will make it easy to understand but I was in such a desert and I did not even realize it. I was walking through this world with blinders over my eyes. God has taken them off and shown me so much in such a short time! I think I have always hidden behind my knowledge of scripture and assumed it would save me and get me through my hard times. I occasionally prayed and read my Bible but I did not hunger after these things. I did not yearn to know my Lord better. God has placed great people in my life to show me and encourage me that I need to be seeking after HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness first and foremost.

I meet every Sunday for breakfast with my sweet friend Hannah. It’s amazing how God can use friendships throughout (I just had a total brain fart and couldn’t remember how to spell ‘throughout) life to bring us closer to him. In just a short time, I have been so encouraged by her love for the gospel and her Lord that I have begun to seek after Him so much more. It is astounding. I hang out frequently with another great friend, Alison. How wonderful is it to spend time with such a friend who will challenge me, love me and will share her own struggles with me.

Friends, I may be rambling by now and may have lost you all three paragraphs up. If so, I am sorry. Just know that God is GOOD… and he is working great things in me for HIS glory.

“You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” – Psalm 30: 11-12