Sunday, September 28, 2014

All Things Uganda

When I signed up to go serve in Kisoro, Uganda last year, I can honestly say I had zero clue what that would look like. I didn't know if I would be speaking, building, cleaning, hugging, teaching, playing, or serving in some other way, shape or form. I didn't know who I would be spending the majority of my time with. I had no expectations going in, besides the fact that I wanted to serve God. 

I got there, and the first couple days were a whirl wind. I saw so much. And I saw so many people serving in so many different ways. I saw doctors and nurses treating patients. I saw people helping to pass out medicine, and directing people from one station to the other. I saw people playing with children, sharing the gospel with little eyes and little ears. I saw people sharing the gospel with not-so-little eyes, and not-so-little ears. I saw people teaching on HIV/AIDS, and Malaria. I saw people helping with heavy lifting, and organization. 

My eyes kind of glazed over, to be honest. It was so beautifully overwhelming, and I would silently ask the Lord to show me where He wanted me, and to give me a heart humble enough to obey. 

Guess what. 

He did. 

It was about half way through our third day on the mountain when I felt it, the click of confirmation. We were eating lunch when I asked if they needed any help in sports ministry, and was happily accepted on board. 

There are a handful of highlight moments etched into my mind from this trip, and they all involve those faces up there. Racing along dirt roads, and then being laughed at when I would lose my breath. Chasing the boys through the medical clinics, and having them want to be chased each and every time they spotted me afterwards. Allowing them to help me clean up, and then seeing the radiating joy result from a simple task of rolling up tape. The smiles that came from using the same rolled up tape as a pretend drum during worship.  

I don't think I can ever look at orange tape in the same way, again. 

My absolute favorite moment? Hearing one little boy share the gospel with his friends. There's nothing quite like that, and I couldn't even understand the language. 

I left Africa with a desire to return. But wanna know the truth? I didn't expect to be returning this soon. I had no intentions of signing up for the 2015 trip. 

Until one day, I was driving in my car, and my heart flashed back to those boys. Something inside of me knew, if I had even the slightest chance of seeing them again, I had to take it. 

And then the following day, I decided to check the e3 website, and lo and behold, a Kisoro 2015 trip was listed. 

And that's when I knew I was going. 

Only God knows if I will privileged enough to see those particular boys again, but I know that regardless, He has good things in store. Great things. 

I can't wait to see what those are. 

Many of you have asked how you can get involved. The most direct need right now is financially, I have just over 100 days to raise $3700 more dollars. Is that number daunting to me? You bet. But is it daunting to God? No way. 

You can support financially right here, if you feel led. 

Prayer is another way to partner in this. You can pray for our team, that God would be preparing our hearts and raising the necessary support for this trip. You can pray for those that are in full-time mission over in Kisoro, that they would be blessed and encouraged by witnessing the work God is doing in that city. You can pray that ultimately, His will would be done, and His name would get all the glory.  

Today, I'm thankful for a God who calls us into His story, and for all of the wonderful people like you that He's placed in mine. 

Happy Monday, friends! If you've made it this far, thanks for reading a piece of my heart today. ;)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

She Is Beautiful! {Race Review}

Last year, I developed a slight obsession with races. I ran 5Ks, 10Ks, a 15K, half marathons, a color run, a bubble run, aaand you catch my drift. I just really fell in love with that runner's high that enhances when surrounded by hundreds of other runners. 

There was one race that really stood out from the others, and it wasn't just because of the stunning beach-side course (see above picture). It was because of the entirely contagious positive and encouraging atmosphere.

She Is Beautiful had their 3rd annual Santa Barbara run this past weekend, and as soon as the race was announced, I knew I had to run it again. 

The event did not disappoint, and I think the pictures prove it. 

Shout out to Tabitha, who designed our amazinggg shirts!

My family was in town helping my brother move to Santa Barbara (Reeds are just drawn here), so it was great to have my mom and sister at the finish line. 

Running never fails to make me feel strong, capable, and amazed at what this body can do. I can't help but reflect each race on the fact that not too long ago, I hated running. Like, legit hated it. The thought of a 10K used to intimidate the heck out of me, and now, it's my favorite distance. 

She Is Beautiful takes that "you are strong, capable, and your body can do anything" message and puts it on blast alllll through out the course. There are signs everywhere encouraging you every step of the way. Whether you're doing the 5K or 10K, you're going to cross that finish line feeling accomplished, empowered and inspired, no doubt. 

I already can't wait until next year!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Five On Friday

One -- Thank you guys so much for your love and support on yesterday's announcement. I am constantly blessed by this community, both online and real life community (though they kind of both become real life at some point, huh?)

Two -- I went to a wedding last weekend! {Shocked? Yeah, I know.}

My guy's best friend got married, and let me tell you, nothing tells you more about a man than the friends beside him. Good, quality friends usually stand beside a good, quality man. And both Kris and Stephanie? They are top notch people, and I was honored to be a part of their wedding. 

Not to mention, I thoroughly enjoyed this wedding because a) Frozen was played multiple times. and hand gestures were welcomed/encouraged. and b) there was not a dry eye in the house from the father of the bride speech. and I'm a sap who loves a good cry at a wedding, so there ya go. 

Three -- I signed up for my seminary class! I am so excited to kick that off on September 29th. And guess what I'm studying? The most exciting interesting captivating thrilling cant put it down book of the Bible!!

Try to contain your jealousy. 

But really, I'm thrilled. If I'm going to start studying the Bible, I may as well start with the rich, old testament stuff! Leviticus, bring it on. 

Four -- Speaking of studying the Bible, we're kicking off this Bible study on Monday night. 

Has anyone done it? This will be my third Beth Moore study, and I can't say enough good things about them. My first two were Revelation and Breaking Free, so tooootallly different, but both amazing. Really amazing. 

Can't wait to kick this one off!

Five -- I'm updating to ios8 as we speak. Therefore, I am staring at a screen like this:

I'm really looking forward to sending everyone I know audio text messages. 

And you thought snap chat was good. 


Happy Friday, loves! Hope you have a spectacular weekend. 

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'll be heading back to Kisoro, Uganda in January 2015, and I'm truly thankful, and excited 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!}