Home Is…

Lord, through all the

generations

you have been our home!

~Psalm 90:1

Next month, David and I will celebrate our 7th year wedding anniversary!

In our almost 7 years of marriage, we’ve lived in 5 different homes, and in 4 different states.  It’s been a true whirlwind.  We’ve hardly had a ‘normal’ life at all, probably one that most counselors would warn is a recipe for disaster with all the moving, traveling and constant change facing us.  Even so, I’ve come to internalize this truth:

The Lord is our HOME.

Our first apartment was a mile from the Redondo Beach pier, in Torrance, California.  We had 600 square feet and a one car garage.  It was much bigger than my studio apartment (400 square feet) and I was in heaven having a home for us.  We unpacked all those wedding gifts and squished a queen sized bed into that tiny bedroom, only to have to move a short 10 months later.

We moved to Vancouver, Washington into a huge 2 bedroom apartment with two full bathrooms!  I met one of my best friends there, learned how to be married away from family, and we bought our first house together….

In Tualatin, Oregon.  We moved across the river to the hippy side, to the smallest in a beautiful neighborhood. We brought home our baby girl to this house, had birthdays and housewarmings and baby showers and movie nights and goodness, just lots and lots of fun in that house.  It will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Three years after buying that special house, we moved again.  This time clear across the country, to Caldwell New Jersey.  It was a year of learning how to be a stay at home mom, making new friends, experiencing a completely different culture and having my husband home more than I’d ever had before.  It was a beautiful yet hard and refining adjustment.  Then our landlord sold the house we rented, so we moved yet again…

To Lincoln Park, New Jersey.  This town is probably most known for the flooding that took place during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.  We decided to take that risk, because how many hurricanes can Jersey take, really?! 🙂  I’m still crossing my fingers it won’t flood.  So far, so good.  Except for my car…  But that wasn’t even in our city!

As I look back, the landscape has changed so much.  The size, the culture– EVERYTHING is different about each place we’ve lived in.  But one thing has remained constant, and He has never changed and has provided, protected and proved himself faithful throughout every. single. move.  He will again, I’m sure of it.

I know we won’t live in Lincoln Park for much longer (remember my interesting landlord? Well, he’s gotten even more interesting and I’m not sure we can take it!).  I do know that no matter where we go, the Lord is our Home and He is perfect.

Have a wonderful weekend friends!  I’m off to play and keep my baby girl on a day off from work, and hopefully clean a little and bake this rainy day away too.  

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I’ll See You Just Now

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My roommate in college used to tell me all the time “I’ll see you just now!”

I’d be heading out to class and she’d call at me as I was leaving the room, “see you just now!”

At first I didn’t get it.  As one of us was leaving, she’d be saying we’d see each other “just now”.  It didn’t make sense to me, since we’d obviously be seeing each other later, not now.

She explained to me that in South Africa, this saying simply means “I’ll see you in a little while.”  I grew to love this expression.  I felt like “just now” was sooner than later, and it made me feel good.

This morning, one of my best friends in all of the world drove out of my driveway on her way to South Carolina.  Maya and I watched on the porch as they packed up the last few items from their overnight bags and refilled cups with juice.  As I tried to keep the sobs from coming (which came in full force, as soon as they pulled away!), I thought to myself…

I’ll see you just now.

Today, “just now” doesn’t seem sooner than later.  It feels like a long time away, even though we’re planning to see each other around Thanksgiving sometime.  It’s never easy to say goodbye to people you love, people that have shared lifetimes of ups and downs and everything in between.  It’s not easy, but…  God willing, I’ll see you just now.

These two little girls squealed and screamed with glee as they painted each other with “chalk tattoos”, dumped out every toy we owned onto the bedroom floor, shared trains surprisingly well, and ran through sprinklers with pure joy on their faces.  As they were leaving, Maya held me tight and said “I’m sad, mama.”  I squeezed her back just as tight.

“It’s okay baby girl.  We’ll see them just now.”

***I’m a little sad today, I may have sobbed on the bed after they left and my little girl might have consoled me with her ring pop as snot was dripping down my nose.  But in all honesty, I am more excited for them and am eagerly anticipating what God will continue to do as they wholeheartedly run towards Him and what He has planned for them there.  If you remember, keep Krista and her sweet little family in your prayers as they travel, and pray that I would be able to survive the upcoming winter without her. ;-)***

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Much More

But a man of God came to him (Amaziah) and said, “Your Majesty, do not hire troops from Israel, for the Lord is not with Israel.  He will not help those people of Ephraim!  If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated by the enemy no matter how well you fight.  God will overthrow you, for he has the power to help you or to trip you up.”

Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?”

The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”

~2 Chronicles 25:7-9, NLT

Today, lets take a breath and a step back.

Deep in the throws of fighting, it’s easy to get caught up.  Whatever it is you’re fighting, I’m sure it is a good cause.  Amaziah’s was too.  It’s so easy to keep plodding full steam ahead with tunnel vision towards the goal in mind.  Let’s stop for a moment and consider…

Our ideas may be honorable, noble, bold even.

God can do much more.

Psalm 127:1 reads, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (ESV).  Oh how I do not want to labor in vain!

The goal may be very worthy.  The end result may even be what God’s calling and leading us towards!  But are we missing out on much more because we’re so set on our way of getting there?

Amaziah was worried about 7,500 pounds of silver he paid to hire 100,000 experienced fighting men from Israel.  I have no idea how much money that is, but I’m guessing that since he was king and he stopped long enough to consider it, it must have been a significant amount.  Even if it wasn’t, though, the amount really isn’t the issue.  The issue is that he’s going about his business as king, doing what he thinks is appropriate to conquer those pesky Edomites, and he’s halted in his tracks by a man of God who provides Godly wisdom, truth and reminds him…

God can do much more.

He’s worried about silver?  God can do much more.

We’re worried about what– money?  Marriage?  Jobs?  Babies?  Graduation? Health?  We may have great ideas!  We may be executing those ideas well!  Yet if we see God pulling us in a different direction, we must remember!

God can do much more.

I am learning this right now, trusting that God is working behind the scenes; learning that although my ideas may be good, God may have something else in mind– something much more.

It is crazy how a little paragraph in the huge bible about a man named Amaziah can suddenly stop me in my tracks, realign my thought process and cause me to take a big breath and a step back.  Oh Lord, may I give you room to do much more.

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Behind the Scenes

 

 

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Photos by Sweetlife Photography (www.lovethesweetlife.com)

I will never forget the wisdom passed on to us during a very difficult time, from very close friends.  Jake and Anna came to visit us in the hospital the day Maya was born (and would take her newborn pictures a week later!  If you’re in the Portland area and in need of photographers, they are truly the BEST in the biz and you won’t be sorry you hired them!).  It was the day before she began experiencing complications and had to be transferred to the NICU.  The next few days that followed were a blur of doctors, little sleep, tubes and tests for our little girl.  I don’t think I’ve cried so much in my life, yet I don’t think I’ve ever felt so supported and cared for in all my life.  People all over the country were praying for our sweet Maya, and our church community (which Jake and Anna were a big part of) was right there along side us the whole way.
0512_Liilard-Maya_37I remember talking to them afterwards, explaining how the doctors really couldn’t find anything and somehow Maya just kept improving enough to the point where they sent us home.

We were amazed at all the drama that ensued only to lead us to the doctor’s prognosis of “I guess she just decided to puke green stuff.  It’s odd, we don’t know why, but she’s okay.”  And she was.  Even though generally a newborn who is less than 24 hours old and has not swallowed meconium should not constantly projectile vomit bright green (we were told most likely she had an intestinal blockage and would possibly need immediate surgery), she suddenly began slowly holding down milk and spitting up much more normal colored spit up.  She no longer gagged all day long.  By day four, we were about ready to be discharged…  This time WITH a baby!0512_Liilard-Maya_56

“I guess it was a fluke thing,” I remember David and I telling Jake and Anna one afternoon.  “She just stopped vomiting green, and it became like normal baby spit up,” we continued.  “It must have just been a really weird fluke thing.”

Then Jake said something I will never forget.

“You don’t know that,” he said, looking at Maya.  “You had a loooot of people praying.  You never know what God was up to behind the scenes.”

It was as if a light bulb went off in my head.

Wisdom, straight up!

This has become one of my life’s mantras, no joke.  We seriously don’t know what God is up to behind the scenes.  We do know that He is good (Psalm 116:5), He loves us (Romans 5:8) and has plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  He is sovereign (just close your eyes and turn to any psalm, you will see “Oh Sovereign Lord” written on every other one!), His purpose prevails above all (Proverbs 19:21) and all things can be used for his glory (John 9:1-3).  He is at work even when we can’t see (Numbers 22:31)!

0512_Liilard-Maya_02Krista already shared about Elisha the prophet and his assistant when they were being chased by the King of Aram.  When surrounded by the king’s army, the young man trembled in fear.  Yet God opened his eyes and he saw far more of the Lord’s army ready to fight than the King of Aram’s.  God was working behind the scenes, and when He allowed the man’s eyes to open, suddenly everything changed.  The king’s army was the same, but the circumstances were substantially different.

The same kind of thing happened with Balaam in Numbers 22.  He was frustrated that his donkey would not do what he was commanding it so he began beating the poor animal!  Little did he know that the Lord was working behind the scenes…

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.

32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. 33 Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”

34 Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”

God can still do this today.  He may or may not open our eyes to physically see what He is up to– he may or may not invite us into the script to know exactly what it is He’s up to– but we can be assured He still works behind the scenes.

As Perry Noble would say in his book Overwhelmed, “It may be time to stop praying, ‘God, get me out of this’ and begin praying, ‘Jesus, let me see You.'” (p. 81).

It is a peaceful, all consuming, overwhelming, ABUNDANT feeling to truly know that God is working behind the scenes on our behalf.

It is also incredibly life giving, gracious, and precious beyond words to have friends who speak wisdom into our lives, even in the hardest of times.  We are so thankful for Jake and Anna’s friendship.  And they take pretty amazing photos too :).

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***This post is not sponsored by Sweetlife photography; all these opinions are purely my own.  Like I mentioned, if you live in the pacific northwest and need photography for any reason, these guys will beyond impress you.  Not only are they incredibly talented, but they are so. much. fun. You won’t be disappointed!  Check them out at www.lovethesweetlife.com

An Excerpt

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Often I will thumb back over my journal and read and re-read what God’s done in my life. I think it’s a cool way of remembering how He moves and writes the storyline of my life.  The following is a short excerpt from my journal…  While I wouldn’t normally post a personal entry from my journal, reading back on this from a few weeks ago I couldn’t help but think it could possibly be an encouragement to someone else.  I hope whatever it is you are facing, you will remember and see freshly how God works on our behalf!  Thank you all for coming along with me on this journey!

 

June 29, 2014

God,

Do you remember how you paved the way?!  You remember how you found a buyer for our house in 9 days?!  Remember how you closed the door on those other jobs and led David specifically here to the NY region?  Remember how you found us an amazing home to rent?  Remember how you then brought my best friend out here too?

I’ve seen your hand in this…  I see You, but still… Often I feel so lonely here.

Do you remember how you paved the way?!  Can you remind me that you will make it all worth it?!  I feel guilty even saying that, but it’s how I feel.  Lord there are so many good things about being here…  Krista, Jean, Chris, Debbie, David, Joe and Denae, the church, the library, my favorite Italian market…  But I miss having true community and I feel like it’s been a challenge for us to connect here than it ever has before.  But God– do you remember how you brought us here?!

And then I hear him saying…

Child,

Remember how I brought you here?!  Sold you home, found you a home, got everything lined up?  It’s because I purposed it that way.  I made it that way for a specific reason.  I am working in ways behind the scenes that are for My glory, My honor and your good.  I brought you here…  Trust and believe when I say I will provide.  Obey me still and I will show up abundantly.  Oh ye of little faith!

I’m sorry, Lord.  I’m sorry for doubting your goodness, your faithfulness, your perfect plan.  Help me to see You in all of this, to know You more.  Oh that I would know you more!  Oh that I would believe You!  I feel like an Israelite who has been led out of Egypt complaining.  And I feel like You’re frustrated with me; You’re like “HELLO, been there, done that, don’t you know the ending already?!  Canaan Rachel!”

Ok, God.  I get it.  Help me to trust You in all things.  Help me to seek your face FIRST.  Help me to let go of my dreams and embrace YOURS.  To RISK for the sake of the greatness of the Kingdom!  I’m ready.  Okay.  Thank you for reminding ME.

Sometimes when we start off reminding God, He just ends up reminding us.  He is faithful, true and good.  May Him who started a good work in us bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6)!

This is why I write down my Ebenezer stones.  I know that while I’d like to think I’m a super rock star like Moses, I’m really just more of an Israelite at heart.  I am quick to forget and slow to remember.  Keeping track of the stones– the many, many ways God pulls through and rescues or works or executes in my life– reminds me to stop and remember.  I cannot allow forgetfulness here.  He is, was, and always will be the beginning and the end and the middle of everything.  Now that, I must say, is an Urban Hallelujah! 🙂

 

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A Reminder For Those Weary Days

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I look up to the mountains

Does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;

the one who watches over you will not slumber.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel

never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!

The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. 

The sun will not harm you by day

nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm

and watches over your life.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,

both now and forever.

~Psalm 121 (NLT)

I read this yesterday and was instantly reminded of A.W. Tozer’s glorious words that always provide me perspective on even the weariest of days:  “We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends.  Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.” (Tozer, p. 19-20, The Pursuit of God)

We are safe, friends.  Everything.  Everyone.  Commit it to the Lord and it will succeed (prov 16:3) and rest in the knowledge that he does not even sleep in his care for us.   Tozer says again “God is here.  Wherever we are, God is here.  There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not.” (p. 36)  Can I get a hallelujah?!

May we be reminded, even on the weariest of days, that he keeps watch over us as we come and go, both now and forever. (Psalm 121:8)

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On the Verge

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Satan wants us to believe the lie that the next big thing we are waiting for will make everything better.

He wants us to sit waiting, like lame ducks, powerless and on the verge of something great.  He wants us on the verge because so many times we’re paralyzed in this position.  Oh how he loves us paralyzed Christians.

Satan loves knowing that our hope is in ___.  If it’s in whatever lies ahead, our hope is not in Christ.  He will do anything to disguise himself in whatever idol it is we are grasping for; no matter how honorable that ‘thing’ may be.

I know this because I have believed this lie.

I have been the lame duck.

I have put my hope in ___, ____ and ___.

Let me just tell you– Satan SUCKS.

He’s full of lies.  You are going to be disappointed.  Every. Single. Time.

Your life will not magically be amazing when ___ happens.  Sure, it will feel amazing for a while, and it may change the course of your life.  But if your hope is in that, if your life’s very happiness is riding on it, believe you me you will get ROCKED.  Out of the boat I might add.

It may be so innocent, may appear to be good inentioned…  May even look something like this:

I just want a husband…  If only I could get pregnant…  I just don’t feel like our family is complete without another child…  I wish I could get that job…  I hope I get in…  I want him to get another job…  I just need to move…  I wish we could sell this house…  I think we need to find a new church…  I need to get better…  I want to buy ___…  When she’s potty trained…  If he would be a spiritual leader…  When the baby sleeps through the night…

Oh. My. Goodness.  The list can go on forever, amen?

Satan wants to rob you of your happiness.  He wants to steal your joy.  When you are on the verge— ready, sooooo ready for that next thing don’t let evil one in.  He will take a seat on the very throne of your heart and one by one rip down every single blessing and turn it into another reason why you just have to have what you’re waiting for.  That’s why being on the verge is so delicate.  We must be ready, but ready for Christ.

I say this because I feel as though I am on the verge right now.  I do not know what I am on the verge of, but I have been here before and I know how quickly being in this emotional and mental state can quickly turn into an ungrateful, whiny, desperate, HOT MESS.  My focus turns towards ___, and like Peter, I quickly begin to sink.

Not this time, I hope.

Instead of being on the verge of something, I so desperately want to be on the verge with someone.  That someone being Christ.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life  and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

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