Thursday, September 18, 2014

I've Got News

I interrupt this unplanned blogging break to share some news. 

Big news, I would say. 

News I've been wanting to share for a while. And am so excited to fill you all in on. 


Yupp, you read that right. I'm going back. 

Back to this:




And back for them:


You can read all about it here. And if you have it on your heart, you can help kick off fundraising. 

But really, I am just beyond thrilled to share this news that's been brewing in my heart for a while now. I really am ecstatic to begin #amyinuganda round 2. 



{insert happy dance}

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Stopped Looking

I always heard "it will happen when you stop looking." And over the course of the last 3 months, I've found that statement to be entirely true. But not for the reasons I thought. 


I always heard that statement, and thought it was just the way the universe worked. It can make it feel an awful lot like God is just sitting up there basing your future husband on your current behavior. Like, the second you say "okay God! I stop looking!" He says "Congratulations! Now you may have the man of your dreams!"

It can really affect a girl's motives when she thinks that God is waiting on her to bring love into her life. At least for me, it did. Until it didn't anymore. Until one day, it finally clicked that God doesn't work that way. My behavior never earns blessings or punishment. It absolutely yields consequences, but it doesn't change the way God feels about me. His timing is perfect, and He's not waiting on me for anything. 

But like I said, I do believe it happens when you stop looking, this love thing. And allow me to explain why. 


I stopped looking. For just over 6 months prior to meeting Peej, I completely eliminated dating from my life. And in those 6 months, my entire mindset about dating and relationships and love changed

God took me on an adventure in those 6 months. It's not like I stopped noticing boys, or stopped dreaming about one day falling in love and living happily ever after. I did notice boys, and I did dream of love. Very much so. 

In those 6 months though, I took a step back. For the first time, I started seeing things clearly, and it's probably because I was seeing them from a distance. I started really realizing the qualities I was looking for in a man. And you know what, I don't think it was just the qualities that I was looking for. I think God used that time to show me what He wants for me. How sweet is that? He's such a protective and loving Father. 


My whole life, I would find myself attracted to and dating men that were entirely different than the things I claimed I wanted. For the first time, in those 6 months I saw my attractions change. I found myself attracted to the characteristics on that list that God was writing for me. 

When I stopped looking, I stopped settling. Not necessarily settling in regards to people, I don't like to speak about people like that. I mean settling in regards to love

I wanted a specific type of love. I wanted a love that brought butterflies to my stomach, and fire to my heart. I wanted a love that was safe, a love that was honest, and real. I wanted a love full of laughter, and adventures, and passion. I wanted a love that fully captured my eyes and my heart. I wanted a love that was shared, and strong enough to withstand trials. And most importantly, I wanted a love completely centered on Jesus. 


When I was looking, I was settling for less than that love. When I finally felt like enough on my own, when I finally felt like God's love was enough to satisfy that hunger in my heart, I stopped looking. And when I stopped looking, I stopped settling. 

I had clarity when I met PJ. I was able to meet him, and though I was swooning over his handsome looks and incredibly kind words, I was able to keep my mind focused on the goal. The goal was a life full of God's best. 

I knew God's best would be nothing short of the love that my heart desired. So I asked the tough questions, and had the serious conversations, and with the aid of some light-hearted sarcasm and joking, I got my answer. And I got it fast. 


I think it happens when you stop looking, because when you stop looking, it's a lot easier to start thinking. To think about what you want, and to think about what you don't. And to discern when you meet someone which category they fall into, and act accordingly.  

I'm so grateful for those 6+ months sans-dating pre-Peej. I'm so thankful for what they did to my mind, and my heart. I can honestly say I would not be capable of this kind of love without the serious work God did in me in that season. 

After all, there's no reason to look with God, is there? He really is enough. And He really is capable of bringing the very best of love stories into our life, isn't He? 


And because I haven't yet said it on any form of social media, allow me to say it here first. This is where it all started anyhow, it's only appropriate. 

I am insanely in love with this man. 


Love Lisa Elle

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why Your Words Matter

When I first started blogging, I was 22 years old, and a completely different version of myself. I had no idea that by starting a blog, I was really doing much more than just claiming a spot on the interweb. I was really taking the first step towards finding myself

Almost 6 months after starting Sweet Home Santa Barbara, I surrendered my life to Jesus. Like, real deal, no more of this "you can have 10% of my life, and I'll run the other 90%" biznass. It was full on "I have no hope except in You, so take my life and do what you want with it." 

It was the most liberating feeling I have ever felt. 

Except, I had no idea what that really meant. Besides the fact that I knew my entire life had to change. 

You see, no part of my life before was Christ-centered. And now I suddenly wanted Him to have my whole life, but I had to figure out what that meant. 

I have no idea how, but one day I found myself reading a blog called The Williams Post (now Life On a Mission). I was soooo attracted to the words I found there. Post after post after post seemed to just ooze Jesus; it didn't matter if He was the subject, or not. It was clear that this woman lived for Christ, and everything she did seemed to shine for Him. 


I want that, I thought. 

I wanted to be bold enough to talk about the changes going on in my life. I wanted to share the love I was feeling for this Man named Jesus. Something in me desired to be known only for Him, not for wine or cheese or food or beer or nights out or funny drunken stories or any of the things I was currently known for. I wanted to be known as a woman who's life was turned upside down by the love of Jesus. 

But I was afraid. I just wasn't bold enough for that yet. 

Until Kerrie unintentionally gave me the push that I needed. 




 She started a weekly link up called the Tuesday Challenge. Each week, she would give a prompt providing an opportunity to live our your faith, a little challenge of sorts. Something like pay for the person behind you in line, or write a letter to encourage a friend. The goal was to go out and love, and then come back and write about it. 

It became the one day a week that I talked about my faith. One day, I thought, I can manage that. 



Blogger statues ;)

Writing just that one day a week started a fire in me. I felt a passion writing those posts, that I didn't feel while writing the others. I felt more myself writing about Jesus, which was odd and unfamiliar and wonderful all at the same time. 

Kerrie's boldness was contagious. Her fire for the Lord, her genuine love in her marriage, her passion to love and serve others, I knew it was the life I was created to live, too. I knew it was the life that I wanted to live, too. 


Almost 2 3 years later (woah, just realized it's been almost 3 years, not 2. time flies), I can say that by the grace of God, I am living that life now. This imperfect girl is living with a fierce passion to glorify her loving Savior. The fear of talking about Jesus? That's long gone. {Praise the Lord}

Kerrie's words sparked something in me. And I want you to know that your words carry the same power that her's did. Because words are powerful, aren't they? They change things, they do things. They inspire, and encourage, and motivate. 

Your words matter. And if you're ever feeling discouraged, if you're ever doubting that, remember the profound effect that Kerrie's words had on me. All she was doing was coming and pouring her heart out on her corner of Blogland, and Jesus took that and used it to drastically change the course of my life. 

Keep writing. Keep pouring out your heart. You never know who's life you're changing. 

{All pictures are from this past weekend, when I finally got to visit Kerrie & Wade in their mission field of Reynosa, Mexico after years of talking about it. Thank you, blogging, for the amazing friendships and experiences that you've brought into my life!}

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

All Things Seminary

I made a teeensy announcement on Instagram last night. 


I'm so excited to let you guys in on something that's been brewing in my heart for a while.
Seminary school. 

My heart beats for ministry. Jesus is literally constantly flowing through my mind, whether it's at a Bible study, in Lower Body Blast, on a coffee date, or sitting in a work meeting. He's just always there. And because of that, sometimes it feels like this heart and this mind were created to work in a full-time ministry position. 

But can I let you in on a little secret? On days where I dream of being able to devote all of my hours each day to speaking and teaching and writing and studying and counseling and praying and doing life on mission, I have to remind myself that I already am in full-time ministry. Because I am. And you are too

If you carry the Holy Spirit in your heart, then you're on full-time ministry. Period. It doesn't matter if you work at a church, at a non-profit organization, or at an engineering company {like me}. You're on mission for Christ where ever you go. 

And that being said, yes, it's a dream of mine to one day work in a more ministry-focused role. But, I have a bigger, more important dream first. 
It's to be obedient to God where ever I'm called. 
Whether that's in a ministry role, a corporate America role, or a stay at home mom role. I want to be obedient, first and foremost. So I gave this not-so-little dream of mine to God, and said "not my will, but yours."

And He responded: seminary school. 

Cuuuue the fear. And excitement, don't get me wrong. First came the excitement, "I'd get to study the word of God??? Like, really study it and get a grade and all that jazz??
Ohmahgoshhh!" 

For a nerd who loves school, and a girl who never went to private Christian anything, that just sounds like Disneyland for me. Disneyland, I tell ya.

But then, came the fear. "What does this meannn, God? Do I go to school full time? Do I quit my job? Do I take out student loans? Do I move?"  And God was all "Woahhh, slow down child. One thing at a time. Just wait." 

And so, I did. I assumed this was a distant future thing, and did what any normal, waiting person would do. I researched the heck out of it, and made an appointment to meet with my pastor and talk all things seminary. 

See, normal waiting. {sarcasm font}

In all honesty, I didn't expect anything to happen quickly. I expected this to be a labor in prayer type of thing, one that would take years of preparing and praying before anything really happened. 

But then, since my pastor had recommended Fuller Theological Seminary, I decided to check out their web page. And while checking out their web page, I browsed their programs. And while browsing their programs, I came across the Certificate of Christian Studies program: a 6 course certificate program that can be done entirely online, at your own pace. 

And then, again, I did what any normal, waiting person would do. 
I applied immediately. 

Everything about it felt right. I could do classes online, so I wouldn't have to make any rash decisions about my career or location. It's an introductory certificate, something that's perfect for a girl like me with no formal Biblical education background. And most importantly, my heart just jumped at the opportunity to learn more about Jesus, and what it means to live life for Him. 

So there you have it, starting on September 29th, I will officially be a seminary student.

Oh, Jesus. You sure know how to romance a girl. I love You, and I love this life that we're doing together. It never gets boring, that's for sure. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Purity

First off, happy Friday!! I figured what better way to kick off Friday than with a super light post on purity. {read: sarcasm}

If you've been around for a while, you may know that this topic is a special one for me. It's the only topic that I've written about for 31 straight days, so there's that. It's one that I love for so many reasons, but for starters, because I can't possibly talk about purity without talking about redemption

The fact that I even get to have a voice about this is straight up God's grace at its finest. As a girl who lost her virginity in high school, I never, ever, thought I would get a second chance at innocence. I never imagined that purity is a gift that is given from God, not a title removable by a sexual act. 

I can vividly remember the moment God opened my heart to the idea of sexual purity. I can remember driving home to San Diego, hearing a familiar voice on the radio share a sermon about dating, and boom. It didn't matter that I had already "lost my shot" by the world's standard, I knew that I wanted to save myself for marriage. 

I've learned so much since that moment. God has been faithfully teaching me about purity, and I'm gonna keep it real here, some of it was through my own trial and error. 

Through that trial and error, I saw my own weakness. I saw that if I wanted a God-glorifying relationship, I couldn't do it alone. I needed a man equally committed to protecting the purity within our relationship, and praise Lord Jesus Himself, He gave me just that. 

I want to share the things that I'm learning here. I want to share to tell a story of God's redemption, to testify of the fact that He truly does make all things new. He forgives, and He restores, and He gives new life. 


I want to share to testify of His faithfulness, to reveal that He truly is strong in our weakness. Purity can never come from self-effort, it is always a result of the Spirit. And I, for one, want to see more of the Spirit in my life. I want to see and experience sexual purity that comes from a heart changed by God. That type of purity exists in singleness, and it exists in dating, and it exists in marriage. It's not meant for one season of life, it's meant for all of life. Period. 

I wrote about it in singleness, and now, I have the privilege of writing about it in dating. I have the privilege of sharing my struggles, and my lessons, and my victories. 

I share for one reason: to give Him glory. I share because it is only because of Him that I have this story to tell. And I share because He has given me a man who truly loves my passion to share it all to praise His name. I love him for that. 

Purity has nothing to do with physical actions, and everything to do with the heart. It's not something we do, or we find, or we achieve. It's something we experience through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. It's something we find through surrendering our whole heart to our mighty God. 


Purity is two fold, the desire and the power to do what pleases God. If we have the desire, and not the power, then we constantly find ourselves falling into sin. We want to live a life of purity, but without the power to do so, we're stuck in our fleshly habits. 

If we have the power without the desire, it does no good. What good is having the physical fitness required to run a marathon if I don't have the desire to run a marathon? 

It takes both; we must find both the desire and the power to do what pleases God. And those, my friends, are gifts from Jesus. Those we find when we accept the gift of relationship with God that was given to us when a Man hung on a cross for us. It wasn't earned, or deserved. It was given, and when we receive it, we feel the life-changing surge of the Holy Spirit, which gives us the desire and the power to do things we never imagined possible. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hello!

So, I figured something out. I figured out that I pretty much stopped blogging because every time I wanted to write, I felt like I had so much to explain first. 

I felt like I couldn't write about regular life before I fully explained Africa. I felt like I couldn't write about changing churches because I wasn't quite sure how to explain it in words. And now, I feel like I can't write a blog post without first explaining all the life that has happened in the last few months. 

I've finally decided to just plain write. Because I miss it. And because even if I can't find the right words, or enough time to fully explain things, that's okay. I'd rather write something than nothing. 

Because what's happening in life right now? All the good things God is doing? They deserve to be documented. 

So here we go. 

***

Hello! Life right now has been looking an awful lot like this:








Can we all take a moment to appreciate that the above picture proves that I'd be lost without the sorority arm? Apparently, the last 7 years have completely conditioned me to have no clue what to do with my arm, unless it's on my hip with my elbow angled juuuust appropriately to make my upper arm look slightly smaller than it really is. 

Note to self: just lay your arm by your side. 








I had two weddings to go to this year, and then somehow managed to inherit two more when I left the first one with this dapper man. 


I'm not complaining. He looks super cute as a groomsman. 


Adorbs. I know. 

Funny story, I managed to catch the bouquet at both weddings. But I gave it to a sweet tiny girl at the second, because I was a bit scarred after the first time. I'd like to say I gracefully and perfectly naturally caught the bouquet, but that would be completely false. I entirely intentionally dove, yes dove for that thing. I immediately regretted that decision, especially when I caught it with the maid of honor, who ever so politely offered it to me. Something about the volleyball dive must have screamed "I just got a boyfriend, I want that bouquet!!!!"

Don't worry though, PJ was thrilled. The dj announcing "hey PJ, better start saving up!" had him fist pumping like any proud boyfriend would do. Bless his heart. 

Also, allow me to tell you a fun fact about me. If any song comes on that I know the words to, any song at all, you can fully expect that I will sing along out loud without even a conscious thought. 

Similarly, if "Let It Go" or "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?" or "Call Me Maybe" comes on, you can fully expect that I will not only sing along, but bust out interpretive dance moves. 

Thankfully, I have a roommate who indulges this behavior. And a boyfriend who documents it. 




Busting out dance moves and singing along (loudly) to Frozen? Fighting girls for the bouquet? Well, if I don't win Best Wedding Date Ever, I don't know what does.