#SheRises on SheLoves

recently, i was introduced to SheLoves, an online community of women raising their voices, sharing their stories, and showing the world God’s heart through their words.

today, my post entitled RISE: Get Up Off the Floor is published on their site, as part of their October theme, RISE. at first, i’ll admit it: i was a bit hesitant to be so openly transparent with this part of me online. but one thing i have learned is that when we are brave with our stories, it gives others the courage to be brave with theirs.

so give it a read, leave some feedback, and share it with others. and here’s to being brave with every part of our beautiful stories–the good as well as the bad, the happy as well as the sad. all of it, every little piece, matters.

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SWL

have you heard of So Worth Loving? they’re this incredible group of people that are passionate about telling the world how loved and valuable they are (umm, hello? right up my alley!)

recently, i got the chance to join their blogging team and become a regular writer for them! and today, my very first post, “Perfectly Imperfect” is featured on their blog! check it out, and feel free to leave me feedback.

and above all, don’t forget:: you are so worth loving!

[rest]

today was supposed to be iFast day. today i was supposed to go to the gym and do a couple errands and pack for my trip on Thursday andandand…

you see, there will always be a lot of “supposed to”s. but this day is different.
because if i still myself long enough, i can hear the quiet whisper that is telling me to simply rest.
don’t strive; don’t do. just rest.
if that means eating some comfort food or  leaving a suitcase unpacked, then that’s what it takes. if it means still being in my pajamas at 2 pm or a full basket of dirty laundry, then so be it.

because i know that voice is His, and His rest is my mandate.

“are you tired? worn out? burned out on religion? come to me. get away with me and you’ll recover your life. i’ll show you to take a real rest. walk with me and work with me–watch how i do it. learn the unforced rhythms of grace. i won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (matthew 11:28-30, the message)

so today, this week, seemingly all the time lately, when i feel empty and depleted, i need to learn how to stop for a little while and just rest.
and you know what? it’s hard.
i can feel parts of myself fighting against it. i can hear the voices calling me lazy and selfish, berating me for taking any time for myself.
and yet…i can also feel myself surrendering in the struggle. i submit every weary and resistant part of me to the One who promises to lead me beside still waters and restore my soul.

today, and every day, may we find deep and true rest in Him who satisfies. as we pour ourselves out on behalf of a world that needs a touch from divine Love, may we return our empty hands to He who refills.

amen.

real

as some of you may already know, i left Liberia about a week ago (temporarily, don’t worry!) and am currently at home.

…well, kind of. i’m currently in Seattle. and getting ready to drive to Idaho.
but i used to live in Seattle. before i moved back to the east coast. which was…you know, before i went back to Liberia.

anyway, since i’m still having some issues with all this processing stuff and still don’t quite know how to [eloquently] say all that i want to, here’s a few jumbled thoughts on what it’s like being back.

one:: i move around too much.
but seriously. for a creature of habit who thrives in routine, this constant jetting around is exhausting. i just want to settle. to have a place to dig my feet into for a while, put down some roots. i want some stability, some security. i don’t want to be in constant flux much longer.

two:: i’m tired.
granted, as i’m writing this, it’s 6 in the morning. (but wait…that’s 9 in the morning in Pennsylvania. and 1 in the afternoon in Liberia.) no matter how much i sleep i get–or don’t–i’m pretty much always tired these days. it’s a deep down, feel-it-in-your-bones tired.
what time zone am i in again?!

three:: i miss Liberia.
well, parts of it. okay, i mainly miss the kids. this is always the hardest part about leaving. i spend day in and day out with them, cultivating relationships, learning to do life with the least of these. and then, right when it seems i’ve reached a deeper level with them, it never fails; that’s when it’s time for me to go. and while i (want to) trust God’s timing in all of this, sometimes i feel like a failed auntie & mama–because i’m afraid i’m going when they need me most.

four:: how am i ever going to be able to walk away for good?
seriously. if this is how i feel while i’m taking a three month break, what’s it going to be like when the day comes for me to leave Liberia permanently? because the longer i’m there, the closer i get to them. and the thought of saying goodbye makes my heart ache.

five:: but i know i can’t stay forever.
i know that this is a season. granted, it’s an incredible, chance-of-a-lifetime season that has changed my world and transformed me in the process as well. it’s an honor and a privilege to be in Liberia, sharing and showing Jesus with His precious little ones there. but it’s not my forever. there are other things i want to do, want to experience in life. and so, when the time comes, i’m going to have to walk out of this season and move into the next.

six:: that’s scary.
i know–duh, right? change is never easy, and to think about another okay-time-to-start-my-life-over-again experience kind of terrifies me.
but this i know: He that is in me is greater. and so that is what i will hold on to in my fear.

seven:: i am like, ridiculously blessed.
for reals. though i’ve only been back a week, i am daily overcome with gratitude at the sheer awesomeness of the people i have in my life here. a beautiful church that understands what it is to be a Body. a family that has taken me in as one of their own. friends that make me laugh and also let me cry on their shoulders. pastors that pray deeply and fervently for me.
and this will not change, no matter where i am in the world. when i’m in Liberia, i know that these people will love me and pray for me and support me as i serve. and when i come home, they will still love me and pray for me and support me as i transition. (and if you’re one of those people reading this, let me say thank you. from the bottom of my heart. you are nothing short of a gift to me, and i am so, so grateful.)

so there you have it. like i said, not particularly eloquent. as a writer, that kind of makes me cringe.

but it’s real.

and often, the things that come from the heart are messy and jumbled. they are not perfectly polished; they don’t have it all together.

and you know what? that’s okay.
i’d take real and messy over pretty yet empty any day.

thanks for letting me be real, friends.

[story]

“you make it clear that you are a letter from Christ…you are a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. you are a letter written not on tablets made out of stone but on human hearts.” (2 corinthians 3.3, emphasis mine)

you.
you are living out a story
for all the world to see.
a story of joy
and pain
and strength
and struggle
and beauty
and redemption.

your life is a story.
every moment is another chapter
in this great big narrative being written
by a Great Big Author.

be encouraged, friends;
for no matter where you are in your story
[even if it appears messy and ugly at the moment],
your story still matters.
the painful parts are still important.
and every chapter can be used
by the One who works all things together for good.

*for another great post on this subject, check out ‘beautiful stories’ by marc grimes.

[truth]

as i start trying to emotionally prepare for my goodbyes with the kids in the next two weeks, i am reminded of one of God’s promises from a few years ago::

“sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more of the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. (isaiah 54.1)

today, i am an auntie & mama to dozens of precious ones here in Liberia. his Word is true.

[why we] write

i read this great blog post recently about writers & why we do what we do.

it got me thinking. seriously.
why do i write?

it took me a while to come up with an answer, some sort of explanation as to why i continually tear myself open and spill out all my words, over and over again.

i write because there’s a constant ache in my chest, and words are the only things that relieve the pressure.
i write because my pen bleeds all the things i can’t figure out how to otherwise say.

i write because the ability to do so is a gift i’ve been given, and i want to use it well.
i write because i have to, because it’s what makes me come alive.

what about you? join the conversation.
why do you write?

in the desert

o God, you are my God, earnestly i seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (psalm 63.1)

yes. i am thirsty.
yes. i am needy.
yes. i am weary.
yes. i know this ache.
i’ve inhabited this dry and weary land for so, so long.

please don’t let me die in the desert.

open your eyes, child.
see the well.
there IS a well.
drink.

then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. (genesis 21.19)

i drink.
and my new eyes begin to focus.
i see.
the desert is not exile.
the desert is not a place for the cast-off, the rejected, the abandoned, the forgotten.
just as He met Hagar here
and she saw the well,
He meets me here, too.

the woman herself escaped to the desert to a place of safety prepared by God. (revelation 12.6)

the desert.
here.
this.
me.
a place of safety.
refuge.
prepared by God.
i am taken care of.
i am held
and gently led to the water,
to the well.

He sees. He knows. He provides. He protects.

i will not die in the desert.

to my younger self: [ten]

today’s post was written by a sweet and courageous friend of mine named Amy. she’s 41 and a Christian, mom, friend, fiancee, aunt, sister. Amy is also a self-professed lover of words, cheese, photographs, and water.

To my younger self,

I want to write you great words of wisdom, expound on the pitfalls you will encounter and steer you away from painful, tragic mistakes you will make.
I want to tell you:: speak up for yourself (so that your step-father wont keep doing those horrible things to you), don’t take that drive (that will end up paralyzing your baby), don’t walk in that house (where you will be raped). I want to give you a sense of worth that no one showed you as a child.
But I can’t.

Nothing I say here or to you will make a difference. For one thing, you wouldn’t listen to me. (haha)
Well, maybe one thing will make a difference:: Hold on.
You will believe at some points that it just hurts too much…but you are stronger than you think and you will get through it. You are smart and you know that…but you are also very afraid and you don’t know that. You have so much value…and you think you know that but you don’t.

So keep making mistakes and keep trying to be a better person. Keep smiling and keep crying, keep loving and keep hurting because that means you are alive and really living. Most importantly, keep reaching out to God because He is closer than you know and cares more about you than you can imagine.

Love,
your older, wiser, cuter self

———————————————————————————————————————————————
do you want to share some words with your younger self? i’m still looking for submissions! it can be a letter, a poem, a picture—whatever you need[ed] to hear.
send your work to elena[dot]pellizzaris[at]yahoo[dot]com, and include a brief bio with whatever contact details you want published (facebook, twitter, blog address, etc.)

*to read more about the ‘to my younger self’ project, click here.

[restore]

i found myself drawn to amos 9 this morning
and was very much comforted by the promise:: 

in that day, i will restore David’s fallen shelter–i will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins–and will rebuild it as it used to be. (amos 9.11)

restoration always comes after the destruction.