so i went to china. [the God thing]

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yeah. that actually happened!

i’m really going to try to keep this short and readable, so it might turn into a couple different posts.

let’s start this blog out with a bold statement: two days after i arrived in china, i told bryan i would move there if he wanted us to. 

those that walked through these last 8-9 months with us know that one sentence is exactly why i needed to go to china. eric & holly (aka the best connection group leaders in the world) said that almost immediately after we got back.

here’s a little background. i took perspectives. it completely opened my eyes to God’s heart for the world and totally shook my view on the Bible and God up. i loved it.

the class in no way made me want to go overseas. not even a little.

but it did stir my heart for the nations, and i began to support others with prayer and money with excitement. i was 18, working a fulltime job with no plans of going to college. and i wanted to be a wife and a mom. i remember saying that i didn’t have any desire to go overseas myself, but i think i would be more willing to follow someone overseas (in other words, i want to get married and if he wants to go overseas, well, i guess i would consider that).

well, easier said than done.

last semester, God did A LOT in my heart regarding following my husband. a lot. it was the source of a lot of my tears, anguish, and worry. but God was working and just like Elizabeth George in A Woman After God’s Own Heart, i was fully prepared to receive a call from bryan while he was in china asking me to move there and say, “yes!” ha. hahahaha. hahaha.

actually, i thought bryan was crazy for even thinking we could move overseas. what would he do? what would i do? when would i get to have babies?

not.going.to.happen.

i know, i know, i wasn’t exactly the picture of an awesome wife. i was more like, sure, go to china, i’ll stay here and cry until you get back.

i just needed to go. and here’s what God showed me:

one.
my husband KILLED IT. and by killed it, i mean, SAVED IT. because he was a part of saving eternal lives. and he was really, really good at it. he was bold, direct, honest and loving. and his impact was great.

two.
i actually love asians! it’s not that i didn’t love asians before. it’s just that i didn’t love them NEARLY as much as a lot of my other friends. i think i was a little intimidated by my dear friends who are simply put, obsessed with all things asian. i was all, “if that’s what loving asians is, i’m out.” but God provided such sweet girls and guys that it was impossible not to fall in love with the people and culture there.

three.
the fact that bryan went for five weeks and i went for one was just perfect. bryan had a enough of life there to become a little more grounded and a little less idealistic about overseas life. he got a realistic idea of what it would be like (somewhat), talked to the long-termers about their struggles, vision and advice, and had good days and bad days there.
and i went for one week and was prettily easily sold on the idea. i was all, “I LOVE THE FOOD. I LOVE RIDING BUSES. I LOVE SWEATING. I LOVE THE PEOPLE. I LOVE THE FOOD.”

and that’s when God said to us, BAM! I JUST UNIFIED YOUR MARRIAGE IN ONE MORE WAY. YOU’RE WELCOME.

thanks Father, we really appreciate it.

[as a point of clarity for the sake of our moms, we currently do not have plans to go to China at this moment. more on that later.]

coming up…
so i went to china [the experiences]

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and the plans change again.

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and just when you thought you had at least one solid plan for the near future…

the plan changes again.

for the last six months, bryan and i have been preparing our hearts, minds, and marriage for a 12 week time apart for the sake of the nations. we love the world, and the people in the world. we love God’s plan for the eternal salvation of all nations, and we want to be as much a part of it as we can.

so, as you know, we decided last december that bryan would go to east asia for twelve weeks to share the gospel with the unreached with these lovely people:

we never had a second thought about this decision. when you’re convinced of the extremely good news of salvation through jesus christ, decisions to share that good news in a largely unreached nation is very close to a no-brainer.

sure, i’ve cried. a lot. but i knew that the gospel was worth missing my husband. as for our marriage, our plan was to talk to each other weekly so that we could stay as one minded as possible. we knew it might be hard to communicate with each other, but we could make it work. we are convinced the gospel will prevail in east asia and in our marriage. 


twelve weeks. this was the plan. actually, it was one of the only plans that was a “sure thing.” we still don’t know if we’re going to move in the fall, we don’t know if our lives are going to stay very much the same or be very different in six months from now. but we did know that bryan was going to be in east asia from may 21st until august 6th.

or so we thought.

i have never taken for granted the fact that bryan and i are apart of an amazing church. we go to a church where the elders pray for us specifically, they know us by name, they genuinely love and care for us and our well-being. and our church loves the nations too. bryan is one of 29 students going overseas this year with the support of veritas. how awesome is that?!

but we experienced just how awesome our church is and definitely felt just how much our church loves is. and the verdict is…

bryan is going to east asia. and so am i. and we’ll both be back by june 24th.
bryan will leave with his team as planned on may 21st. and i’ll leave sometime around june 13th to meet him there. we’ll work together for about a week and fly home together. in the end, we’ll only be spending about three weeks apart!

there were many people that voiced their concerns and opinions and love for us. and we were not hesitant to change our plans and submit to such awesome, prayerful, and wise leadership.

we’ll be sending out letters to all of bryan’s supporters to share this story with them but if you are one of bryan’s supporters, feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

we have felt so supported and loved by our supporters, our friends, our families, and our church throughout these past six months. it is truly exciting to live in step with God, and we pray that this summer would only deepen our relationship with our God.

greeted from afar.

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i’m re-entering the blogging world with a more serious post. God’s been faithful to speak to me through His word, as He always is. what have you been reading lately?

every time i go back to hebrews, i find a new reason to call it my favorite book of the bible. this time, it has allowed me to get outside of my own head and simply hear truth. i can barely get through a chapter in many other books of the bible (new testament, especially) because nearly every sentence convicts my heart just as it was intended. this is really good for me, i assure you, but reading hebrews, i felt as if i was getting to know my jesus again.

hebrews is like a 13 chapter overview of the gospel (aka the entire bible), the great story throughout history that is always pointing to our salvation. i loved each and every bit of this book even though in my lack of discipline i usually only picked it up about once a week.

two weeks ago, i found myself sitting in this room reading hebrews 11.

i literally escaped from the world around me. i was in a perfect room, an hour away from iowa city with no cellphone or internet and two uninterrupted hours to spend with the Lord. God gave me a special treat that day, i left feeling incredibly refreshed, and also with a clear word from the Lord, which doesn’t always happen when i read the bible, i’ll admit.

the sentence i discovered was “ordinary people with an eternal perspective.” i’m sure i’m not the first person to stumble upon that truth, or even form that sentence. but that day, it was like God had formed that in me, word by word.

“eternal perspective” was the first thing i was struck by. in hebrews 11:13 it says, “these all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (emphasis added)

this really spoke to me. “these,” our fathers who have died in faith greeted the promises from afar-like an old friend. they lived for these promises, only to never receive them in their short lifetimes here on earth. but they greeted them from afar. i was really hung up on these few words. do i greet the promises from afar? would i recognize them up close let alone from afar? am i living for what i can see today, or what i know to be the greater truth?

i was baffled, convicted and in awe of the eternal perspective our fathers of faith had. chapter 11 goes on to list people in our great heritage of faith and i was overwhelmed by how ordinary everyone was. these were normal people that God did great things with! it says again in verse 39, “and all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised.” could i do that? and more, do i consider myself ordinary enough to simply know and do God’s will? 

ordinary people.
eternal perspective.

today, i’m thankful for God’s living and active word.

i haven’t been crazy for nothing.

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maybe you’ve been reading this blog for the past couple weeks and thought to yourself, “why is this lady so cray-cray?” (that’s the cool way of saying crazy, and i know that everyone who reads this blog is super cool.) or perhaps you’ve thought, “what’s her problem and why does she cry so much?”

i completely understand. and i would like to explain myself. my friends have asked me (after i cried all over them), “what’s wrong with you?!?!” many times, so i pretty much have the answer down-pat.

what’s wrong with me? everything.
or, in short, a trifecta of huge things.

#1. work.
i love my job so much, and i love being great at it. but right now, that means working really hard, stressing myself out so much, and overextending every part of myself. i’m totally cool with it, but i may or may not have had a few breakdowns in front of the entire staff team about it. whatevs.

#2. the impending 76 days without my husband.
i’m really trying not to think about it. but bryan and i have been having so much fun together lately. we’re growing together, laughing together, making fun of each other. our relationship has never been better and that usually makes me think about how much i’m going to miss him this summer. and from what i’ve heard, this is the worst part, the waiting and anticipation. i really think i’ll be fine when he’s gone, but i can’t keep my mind off the fact that he’s going to be gone.

#3. the job hunt and possible move across the country
this isn’t something i’ve blogged about yet, so for those of you who don’t know, we’re strongly considering moving to seattle, wa after bryan graduates and gets back from east asia. crazy, huh?! maybe it’s the coffee on an empty stomach, but i’m jittery just thinking about it. the biggest stress about this is that we may not even know until august that we’re moving. in august. the thought of deciding to move and moving all in the same month is really overwhelming to me. we could totally decide to stay too, but this is the biggest decision we’ve ever had to make in our marriage together, and the future is completely grey right now.

so there you have it, i’m extremely stressed out because my mind is always on one of those three things right now. if i’m not thinking about everything that needs to be done for work, i’m thinking about everything that i want to be doing to prepare for a possible move across the country, or i’m thinking about how i’m going to be completely alone this summer, or i’m thinking about how i don’t actually know anything that is to happen in the next 6 months of my life.

so i beg you for prayer. please, please, please pray for us. we desperately want God to share His vision with us in all of this. we want to see our future through His eyes, and make each decision in light of that. God has already been good to unite bryan and i all the more throughout all of this. pray that we would continue to glorify God with our marriage and in our ministry. and if you want to add more to your prayers for us, please prayer that my mind doesn’t explode with anxiety or stress, because there are days when i’ve come close to brain explosion.

slaps in the face from Jesus

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have you ever had one of those moments where you just wanted to shake someone and tell them everything they’ve ever done in life is wrong? and the main reason you want to chew them out is because you know they wouldn’t listen to a word you’ve said yelled?

i’ve got to admit, i have had more fake conversations in my head with those people than i can count. and none of them have ended well. even though they were completely fictional conversations, they left me feeling incredibly bitter and angry. and of course, all of this is unbeknownst to them. they’re in their little tra-la-la land all happy and thinking they are perfect and such.

the voice of a super wise man named pastor tom rings in my ears every time this happens. “bitterness only hurts you.” he would say.

how true is that?!?

this is a lesson that Jesus has to teach and re-teach me almost every day.

and He does. He is always trying to get me, a supreme lover of justice, to understand that i am not right and i need to love people, no matter how crappy those people are.

the interesting thing is that Jesus is so inventive with His teaching methods! seriously, He’s not shocked that i still haven’t learned this, and He’s ready with a bunch of lesson plans and examples and slaps in the face.

so guess how He’s teaching me to love (and not be bitter at) crappy people this time around?
you’ll never guess, i’ll just tell you.

He’s showing me tons of other people who actually do want and respect my opinion. weird, isn’t it? i’ve been realizing that while i’m so caught up in focusing on what i can do to get people to listen to me, that i’ve been missing out on people who actually seek me out for wisdom.

it’s really weird actually. i’ve been convinced that nobody likes me and everyone thinks i have nothing to offer. i’ve been just itching to shout to all of them, “i’ve got something to offer, just read my blog you idiots!” (i just made myself laugh out loud with that one) but hopefully you know what i mean.

meanwhile, people are actually asking me for advice and seeking my counsel on stuff. where did these people come from?!

it’s really left me confused. should i try to get these idiots* to listen to me? or should i stop trying so hard with those people and hang out with people who actually think i’m cool? hmmm, such a tough decision. *slapintheface*

did i mention Jesus not only has lesson plans written up entitled “lisagrace on bitterness” but also huge slaps in the face for me?

so, here i am, humbled that God has enough grace even for people like me. and even more humbled that people actually do take my advice seriously. may God get all the glory for being able to use me to help others because you know it’s definitely not my doing.

*hopefully you caught the heavy sarcasm there, they’re not really idiots, i just make them out to be idiots in my head and i realize i’m being totally insane.

God and slaughterhouse-five

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if you’re soooo interested in my life and read this blog every day, you can keep yet another tab on me by checking out my book list. i know, i know, i’m so cool and interesting.

i’ll admit, i do have a somewhat random assortment of books on the list. christian fiction [don’t judge me], christian non-fiction, non-fiction, marriage books, young adult fiction, classic american lit and even an unpublished novel just so you know i’ve got sweet connections [thanks erik].

anyway, i just finished slaughterhouse-five last weekend.

it’s a novel that was on every recommended reading book list i received in my english and history classes in high school. my sophomore year i heard some stupid boys joking about a sex scene in the book and i decided i probably should never read it. then i married a guy who owned the book and after two years of it being on our bookshelf, i decided to give a try.

i was instantly “in.” it normally takes me an average 30-50 pages to get into a story, but i loved the writing style immediately. i asked bryan, is the whole book like this? because i love it.  i was not expecting this book to have such an effect on me.

and somehow, i’m pretty sure vonnegut did not intend for me to be effected in the way i was.

I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.” [pg 85-86]

in the midst of a heavily satirical book about the senselessness of war and violence and hatred, all i could think about was God.

i thought about how God is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. God has been and always will be. time, as we know it, has no effect on Him or His will. God does not change.

we see death, we see destruction, we see foolishness, we see beauty, we see love. and we see those things in these little moments of time, because that’s all we can see. we’re bugs in amber, limited by the small amounts of time before and after us. in the meantime, God is endless. He sees all of these same things, but together, at the same time. He is not bound by time. He sees us as what we were, who we are, and who we will be at the same time. God sees “all time as you might see a stretch of the rocky mountains.”

kurt vonnegut, i believe unintentionally so, helped me immensely to truly understand how God sees us and the world.

slaughterhouse-five, of all books, made me in awe of God and allowed me to understand Him a little more clearly.

the women

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well, i have absolutely no subjects for a hilarious blog. so in the interim, you get to read a spiritual one.

i was reading matthew one last week as per my bible read-thru plan. as i was reading through the genealogy of Jesus, and i was really struck by the mention of women. i’ve often heard it mentioned as a curious thing as genealogies are always stated through the male line, and it’s rare that women are mentioned at all. but this is not what struck me.

as my eyes scanned each woman’s name, i thought of each of their stories. tamar, rahab, ruth, bathsheba, mary…each a totally different woman, with a totally different background. i was especially thoughtful of tamar, ruth and bathsheba.

tamar’s story is, to be blunt, messed up. in short, she dresses as a prostitute so her father-in-law will impregnate her. but in more detail, her father-in-law [Judah, son of Jacob] had deprived her of really her only rights as a woman back then: to bear children. so what does she do to keep her rights as a woman? she tricks her father-in-law so that she may bear a child from his family. you can read the full story here.

this woman is in the line of jesus.

ruth’s story is amazing, actually. it is very much the opposite of tamar. her husband dies, and she responds rightly in spite of her pain. she comforts her mother-in-law [who is a widower herself] by selflessly giving up her life and following naomi and the one true god. in the midst of this, god rewards her for her selflessness with a husband, boaz and also children by him.

this woman is in the line of jesus.

the story of bathsheba simply makes me furious. i get so mad at king david, a so-called “man of god.” [not that he wasn’t, but this story is not a good example of his godliness]. king david “takes” her, gets her pregnant, and kills her husband out of guilt. it’s just infuriating to me. but god makes the most sinful and unfair things into purposeful ones and bathsheba gives birth to solomon.

this woman is in the line of jesus.

revisiting these three stories caused me to reflect on who our god is and what his character is like. he is perfect, he is just, he is merciful, and he is all-knowing. even when life seems completely unfair because your husbands are evil and you can’t have children, or your husband dies and you choose to give up everything, or when a king kills your husband to have you, god has a purpose for your life. and the result of these women’s suffering was that they were honored to be in the line of jesus, the savior of the world.

pretty amazing, right?