Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas, Photos, and Two Johns

Friends!  It is officially Christmas time!  It has been Christmas time in my apartment since the beginning of November, but it is FINALLY socially acceptable to celebrate with Christmas trees, twinkly lights, peppermint mochas, Christmas carols, and Bing Crosby.  Get out there and live it up, folks.  You have less than a month!

I am itching to get a new camera.  We've almost settled on one!  During our Thanksgiving celebrations, my family on both sides was super nice and let me try out THEIR cameras.  Here is one of my favorites!



From John 1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  ...  All things were made through him...  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but he came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  ...  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  And fro his fullness we have received grace upon grace

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ. ... I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."



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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Playlist & Encouragement

Are you struggling to find something to be thankful for?  I have had a good handful of Thanksgivings when I felt like my life was just plain crappy.  I knew that I should be thankful for things, but in the midst of pain and struggle, I didn't feel thankful.  That bugged me.  I wanted to be thankful - I really did.  In my humanness and hopelessness, I just couldn't muster it up.


For those of you who are in the same boat this holiday, maybe one of my all-time favorite passages will help you out.  This passage literally changed my life.  It is from Lamentations, which is actually tied for my favorite book of the bible (with Job)...  Weird, right?
From Lamentations 3 - “I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the objects of their taunts…  He has filled me with bitterness…  I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished,’  Remember my afflictions and my wanderings…  My soul continually remembers it and it bowed down within me.   But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 
Now, help yourself to some great tunage about the Lord's provision and thankfulness.  Maybe the music will warm your soul up a bit.  As you listen, think about Him.  Sidenote - Most of these songs were part of my wedding ceremony.  The Lord IS good to those who wait for Him.


Come and Listen by David Crowder  



Come Thou Fount by Fernando Ortega



He's Always Been Faithful by Sara Groves



Great is Thy Faithfulness by Chris Rice



Faithful to the End by Cory Asbury



Hallelujah by Cory Asbury



Now that your heart is warmed up, read some good Psalms.  After the Lord brought me out of some of my struggles, I read two different Psalms and smashed them together in my own personal Psalm of Praise.  This was also read at the beginning of our wedding.  Are you sensing a theme? :)


My Psalm of Praise - from Psalm 145 and 126
We will exalt you, our God and King, and praise Your name forever and ever.  Great is the Lord!  He is most worthy of praise!  No one can measure His greatness.  Let each generation tell its children of Your mighty acts; let them proclaim Your power.  We will share the story of Your wonderful goodness; we will sing with joy about Your righteousness.  You always keep Your promises – You are gracious in all You do.  You are filled with kindness.  The Lord grants the desires of all who fear Him.  He hears their cries for help and rescues them.  The Lord has done great things for us!  We are filled with joy.  We will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth praise His holy name forever and ever.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
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Monday, November 21, 2011

About Psalm 78...

In our ungratefulness, in our lack of thanksgiving, do we forget His works?

In forgetting His works, do we forget that He is Able?

In forgetting His Ability, do we put our trust in other abilities?

In trusting other abilities, do we root ourselves in lesser things?

In rooting ourselves in these lesser things, do we become unstable?  Tossed?

...what about sinful?  Rebellious?

I think it's a slippery slope, folks.

"Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from our children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his mights, and the wonders that he has done.  He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works for God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God."

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pam's Sweet & Spicy BLTs


We just got home from a weekend with my parents for an early Thanksgiving celebration.  Since everyone will have turkey in different places next weekend, though, we did not have any Thanksgiving food.  We did, however, have awesome food.  My mom made a life-changing BLT.  Life-changing.

Pepper bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, provolone cheese, pepper bacon with brown sugar and Famous Dave's BBQ sauce, and Crasins.  Yes, Craisins.  They are awesome.  ALL on toasty Italian bread.  So good.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wedding Fun


Mark and I have impeccable manners...especially at formal events like weddings.  We always let each other know if we have boogers hanging out of our noses.  And, if we do have a dangler, we are quick to pick it out of each other's noses.  Isn't that just the nicest?

We went to two different weddings in about a month.  I will let you in on a secret...we both wore the exact same outfits...to both weddings.  We are classy like that.  Can you guess which pictures were from Sarah & Brenton's or Tyler and Cassidy's?

AND, guess what?  I got my dress on clearance at Target for six bucks.  SIX!

Sara, Mark's sister, and her husband Jarrod are in the bigger picture with us.  We love them.  They are fun wedding buddies.

Well, that's all she wrote, folks.

To wrap it up, the moral of this story (or post) is that we, Mark and Liza DeYounge, are classy, thrifty AND polite, and we have awesome family.  :)
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RE: Insecurities

"Insecurity is a wrong security exposed." - Bill Johnson

In realizing your own insecurities, you have been given a merciful and gracious warning.  You are standing on something that is weak.  It's an invitation from the Lord to come and to stand on an immovable rock.

Today I am thinking about some of my insecurities, some of my fears.  I am thinking about where my feet are planted.
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

CASTAWAY GOOD STUFF

We're home!  Back from Young Life's Castaway Fall Camp.  Mark was invited to be the camp speaker, so I went along as his "ministry assistant".  ...at least that's what I called myself.

Okay, fine.  I was just along for the ride.

Fall Castaway "Good Stuff":

  • A room with a lakeside view
  • Douwe Egberts Coffee every morning (and afternoon).  Holy moly.  If I had a genie, I would wish for an industrial coffee maker full of this stuff.
  • An entire afternoon, away from home, to do absolutely nothing
  • Beautiful sweatshirt, jeans and knock-off Ugg boot fallish weather
  • Listening to an awesome podcast by D.A. Carson on Faithfulness and Flexibility in the car.  Listen here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gospel-coalition/id270128470
  • Watching Mark ace all four of his talks about the Person of Jesus and the fullness of the Gospel.  The Lord has really blessed him with crazy talents in this area.  Watch out Louie Giglio!  I am so proud of him!
  • Praying Psalm 67 for the four hundred and some high school students at camp.  
May God be gracious to Mark as he speaks.  May God bless him and make His face shine upon him - so that Your ways may be known on the earth, your salvation among these high schoolers!  May all these young people praise you, God; may they all become worshippers of You!  May these 400 be glad and sing for joy, for You rule them with equity and guide them on the earth.  May they ALL praise You!  The land yields its harvest; God, our God blesses us.  May God bless us still, so that ALL of the ends of the earth will fear Him!  
If Mark was writing this post, I'm sure he would add one more good thing:

  • Roosevelt High School (the school he coaches at) just won the STATE championship in football on Saturday.  ...and Mark got to watch the game online.  Woo hoo!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

O COME, EMMANUEL


I am not ashamed to admit that our Christmas tree was up on November 5th.  I had waited long enough.

I am also not ashamed to admit that I didn't take the tree down until around Easter last season.

Since I wanted to put it up early, Mark made me promise it would be down at least by President's Day, which happens to be February 20th.  Fine.  Deal.

98 days of goodness left.

Although it is socially unacceptable to leave your Christmas tree up year round, I am thinking about writing a petition to accept "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" as a year-round, socially acceptable praise and worship song.  It is NOT just a Christmas song, folks.

Think about it.  It is VERY good stuff.

O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, who mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appear. 
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high and orderest all things far and nigh.  To us the path of knowledge show and teach us in her ways to go.   
O come, O Come our Lord of might who to your tribes on Sinai's height in ancient times gave holy law in cloud and majesty and awe.
O come, O Rod of Jesse's stem, from every foe deliver them that trust Your mighty power to save.  Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
 O come, thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by Your drawing nigh.  Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death's dark shadows put to flight.
O come, Desire of Nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind.  Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease.  Fill the whole world with heaven's peace.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! 
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Discernment in Suffering - Knowing the Mind and Heart of God

More about suffering...  To catch up, read this and this.

Discernment is such a big word, isn't it?  I think it means something about having knowledge or insight into a particular thing...knowing the WHY behind something or having a "behind the scenes" sort of look, maybe...

In the past, when I was suffering, or when I saw others suffer, I thought, "Well, I don't get it, there's nothing I can do about it, so whatever.  I'll just get through it."  ...as if to shrug my shoulders, let out a huge and overly dramatic sigh, grit my teeth and wince until the storm of suffering had passed.

Now, after being exposed to some teaching, reading some more scripture, and praying through some stuff, I'm second-guessing my usual "whatever!" response, and have been asking for more discernment in the midst of suffering.  Here are a handful of things that have caused me to rehash my views...

  •  Bill Johnson - I recently listened to a sermon called "The Perfect Storm" by Bill Johnson.  He talks about two different storms in the Bible.  Here is the Liza-Spark-Notes version.
    • Storm 1 - Jonah's storm (Read Jonah 1)
      • WHO sent the storm?  God.
      • WHY the storm?  Jonah had been disobedient and had tried to run away from the Lord.
      • SOLUTION to the storm?  Jonah threw himself overboard, repenting and surrendering himself to the will of God.
    • Storm 2 - Storm in the Gospels that Jesus eventually calms. (Read Matthew 8, Mark 4, Luke 8)
      • WHO sent the storm?  Bill Johnson says that Satan sent the storm.  
      • WHY the storm?  Bill Johnson says that Satan knew Jesus was headed towards the demon-possessed man (Legion) across the lake and wanted to deter Him.
      • SOLUTION to the storm?  Jesus calmed it.  He knew the storm was from the Enemy.  Jesus can trump Satan every.single.time.  All He had to say was, "Be still."

  • Watchman Nee - In his book Spiritual Knowledge,  Watchman Nee has some interesting things to say about dealing with God and being dealt with by Him.
"Many Christians carelessly let difficulties or problems pass by without receiving dealings from God.  They do not know why He sends them these difficulties.  These people may read the Bible daily and seem to posses some knowledge and light, yet they are ignorant of the mind of God.  Their knowledge is clearly insufficient.  For this cause, beloved, we must deal with God and receive dealings from God; and then we shall truly know Him."
This makes me think that maybe I need to wrestle with the Lord a little more in the midst of suffering, and ask, "God, WHY?"  What is Your heart in this?  Is this from You?  The enemy?  Give me discernment to know what's going on!"  
  • John Piper - In John's sermons on Job, (listen/read them here) he mentions something about how, like Job, we are are all too apt to say "What in the world is going on??" in the midst of suffering.  
"All Job's prosperity is gone in one afternoon. You might ask, "What in the world is going on here?"  To see what is going on we have to look outside the world. This world alone never answers the great questions of life. The answer is found in heaven. So the writer gives us a glimpse into heaven to understand better what is happening on earth."
So, in asking God to give me discernment into my suffering, I may have to be looking beyond the worldly circumstances I find myself in.  True? 
Well, friends, I am no expert.  But, it certainly does not hurt to be a little more stubborn when it comes to asking the Lord some of these things.  As far as I can tell, this sort of wrestling and "dealing" with the Lord can only bring about good things, in fostering a deeper relationship and understanding of His heart for us.

Instead of a passive, shrug-the-shoulders "Whatever!  Crap happens!" approach to suffering, I want to know the mind of Christ.  I want to know the heart of Christ.  How is He working?  What is He thinking?  What is His heart for me?

My friend Laura Hackett says it well in her song "The Battle is Raging"...  I don't fight as one who beats the air!  Give me eyes to see and ears to hear! (I Cor. 9)  Good tunes...

PS - One other thought...  In my asking, "Why?" to God, I also ask Him to help me receive His answer well.  What if I don't like His answer?  What if His answer is tough to swallow?  Oh, how I need His grace.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Costume Night ...and Star Wars


Mark asked me to design the Costume Night Invitation for our Young Life friends.  Harmless, right?  I happily obliged.  Later, Mark was sorry that he had asked me to design the invitation.  He should have known that I would use my wifely powers to snag a picture of him and doctor it up in Picnik.  (insert Wicked Witch of the West laugh here...)

Actually, subtract the Wicked Witch's laugh.  The Witch and her flying monkeys still scare my mom half to death.

Sorry, Mom.



The Costume Night was fun.  (sorry about the crappy picture)  I got to fulfill one of my life-long goals to dress up like Princess Leia, thanks to my sister-in-law scoring the costume on the clearance rack.  At this time, I would like to take a moment to proudly announce two very special things...

1) I did not even have to use the Leia costume wig.  That's my own hair, folks.  Well, it is my own hair plus Mark's black socks that I stuffed inside the buns.  Clever, huh?  I thought so.

2) I happen to be a Star Wars fan.  ...Which is sort of an understatement in itself.  When it comes to the original trilogy, which happen to be A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, which also happen to be the middle three of a NINE part series that George Lucas dreamed up, mind you, I am a pro.  Do you know the difference between an AT-AT and an AT-ST walker?  Do you know what planet Chewbacca is from?  Leia's home planet?  Her dad's name?  Can you name three beasts of burden?  .....  Told you.

So there you have it.  Now you know what a weirdo I am and why I was so flipping excited to play dress up on Monday.  It was a great night.
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Monograms - T&C


Another wedding monogram.  Some patterns, this time!  Congrats, Tyler and Cassidy!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monograms


We've been to so many weddings lately!  This has become one of my "go-to" gifts.  Depending on the bride and groom's names, I've used scripture passages, name meanings or just cool typography using their initials.  I've designed in Publisher, printed at home and stuck in simple frames from Target.  Fun, huh?  Maybe I will open an Etsy shop and sell THESE someday...  (as opposed to those dumb corsages!)  

This frame was for our friends - a bride and groom named Sarah and Brenton.  Sarah means princess; Brenton means burnt.


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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Anniversary Adventures

Well, folks, we had a great anniversary.  Since we'll be in Florida in January for a Young Life thing, we decided to stay in town and save some cash.  We made a list of fun things we've been wanting to do in the area and added them to our weekend agenda.

Friday - We took the day off.  I slept in and Mark made me breakfast in bed.  See below for the "anniversary edition" of our peanut butter toast.



Mark: I made an "M" and "L" for Mark and Liza in our toast!
Liza: Oh, look at you!  That's so nice....
Mark: beaming proudly
Liza: finally putting two-and-two together...  Did you use your finger to write in my peanut butter?
Mark: Yep!

We also went to a newer local winery called Calico Skies near Canton, SD.  It was beautiful and wonderful and fantastic.  You should visit there.  Later, we went to the Backroom Bistro where our friend Giovanni cooks A.Maze.Ing. Italian food.  We had our rehearsal supper at the Bistro, so it was fun to relive some memories.  We also stopped at Butler's, the coffee shop where we had our first one-on-one chat, for late night coffee.

View from the Winery 

Saturday, we had lunch at Kaladi's, another coffee shop, (which we do not recommend for a variety of reasons), and went to an apple orchard to get fresh, drizzely caramel apples.  I also talked Mark into buying me a two dollar pumpkin.  It was so cute and tiny, I just had to take it home.


After THAT...(here comes Mark's favorite part)...  We went pheasant hunting.  Yes.  We did.  On our anniversary.  We went "spot hunting" (that's what Mark calls it, anyway), which meant we drove around on gravel roads and looked for pheasants in the ditches.  If we saw one, Mark would get out of the car, grab his shot gun, rustle them up and shoot them.


Mark LOVED it because he got to hunt.  I LOVED it because I got to drive around on gravel roads and look at the countryside in the fall and read my bible and soak in the warmth of my seat warmer.  It.  Was.  Glorious.  Seriously.  Gravel roads are one of THE best forms of therapy.



In the evening, we brought the pheasants out to our little deck, and, like any good wife would do on her anniversary, I held the pheasant upside down while Mark ripped it apart and got the meat out.

Cue the dramatic music.  (At this time, I would like to thank my Aunt Trudy for the times when her and I went down to the creek, found dead frogs and dissected them to "see if we can figure out why they died".  I would also like to thank my late Papa for encouraging me watch him cut the heads off of chickens and clean fish.  You both have made me who I am today...)  End dramatic music.

After ripping the pheasants apart, we primped a little and went to Minerva's - a really classy restaurant in town.  Don't you love the contrast?

SUNDAY (don't worry, I'm almost done), we had a picnic at Palasaides park (where Mark proposed), hunted pheasants a little bit more, ate frozen pizzas and cheesecake, watched a movie and played my all-time favorite game, Monopoly.  It was just awesome.

I'm not kidding.  It was one of the most awesome weekends we've ever spent together.  There is something about being HOME, enjoying the simple things, and spending time with the people you love the most without any distractions.  Fantastic.
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