Tag Archives: Faith

‘Catching the bus’ – how I stopped ‘existing’ and finally began ‘living’

suitcase

It was the 1st of June 2012.
The hardest year I’ve ever had just ended on the farmers calendar.
My husband and I had been sharemilking business owners for a year… working every single day and steadily approaching burnout.
It was like nothing else we’d ever experienced.
It was difficult looking beyond the next day let alone being able to even look further down the track to see what we were actually working toward.

The most important things to us (Church, family, friends) had become luxury items.
The things that were of most importance to us, the things that made us ‘us’ in most ways were unintentionally put on the back burner – any spare time was needed for rest.

I was going through an identity crisis.
My spirit was withered.
My creative wells were dried up (explaining my giant blogging absence).
I’ve always known my creativity comes from God and I was so tired I was distant… distant from the creative source.
Life was miserable and we were forced to question ourselves in every way you could.

Why are we doing life like this?
Why do you believe what you believe?
When you come up with an answer.. why do you believe that answer?

Questioning is painful and at times ugly – but pushing through to find an answer is liberating.
I found myself asking why I even ‘needed’ to go to Church?
Why did I believe in Jesus?

The truth is, the root of my belief in God does not come from the influence of my Christian parents, nor by listening and believing someone else’s account or ‘interpretation’ of Him.
The heart of my belief in God – the thing I draw from, is I experienced Him for myself.
It was simple, I gave God a chance to reveal Himself to me and He didn’t fail to show up.
His presence overwhelmed me and filled me. The Bible says that those who seek, will find – and it is true.
I am a walking testimony to that.

Dan and I always knew we couldn’t do all the work ourselves – we needed to employ someone to take the load off.
We sacrificed the finances so we could be freed up, even if it meant individually taking time off.

July 2012.

I was finally able to go to Church without feeling like I needed to sleep all day again
One of my biggest loves and passions is worship through music. I don’t have to be involved in the making of it, just give me an opportunity to sit in it and I easily get lost in it.

I’m a believer that if you believe in something or if you are going to be involved in something – don’t do it in half measure. Be authentic to the true meaning of that ‘thing’.
So I found myself one morning, sitting in the back row at Church in the middle of the musical worship set.
I wanted to dance.
To physically express my worship to God.
To dance because he is good.
To dance because of his ultimate sacrifice in my honour.
The thing holding me back was the fear of what the person next to me would think.
I saw that my ‘worship’ wasn’t authentic to my own real definition of worship – true reverence and adoration of God with spirit, soul and body.

For the first time in my life, I saw I was stuck and had only ever been giving God a half measure.
I saw that I was fearful of what people would think of me. Bound.
It was like a light switched on and revealed a shadow internally – I would do everything to see myself ‘freed’ – to see the shadow dissipate with a brighter wattage.
I knew if I wanted this, I had to step out and do something, anything, at the next opportunity – I’d better ‘catch the bus’ while it was stationed or I might never do it. So I did all I knew I could physically do.

The next Sunday, with my heart threatening to bust out of my chest, I put one foot in front of the other, and walked the five rows from where I was sitting to the stage during the worship set. Our Youth Pastor was thrashing about, so I joined him.
Abandoning any thought about what others might think.

That moment was the beginning of the journey that has changed my life completely.
It came with a decision of wanting freedom, then reaching and grabbing for it.
The feeling of ‘stepping out’ in such a way was a taste of freedom.
It was like I realised I was living a life like being a prisoner ‘in the hole’ – and then being given the opportunity to become a part of the general population by being allowed yard walks.
I could feel the air for the first time in a long time, I could see the sun, but there were of course still brick walls and barbed wire fences still keeping me in.

With that taste of freedom, I started seeing God like my favourite dessert. Chocolate mousse.
When I eat chocolate mousse, I don’t want one teaspoon today, another teaspoon tomorrow.
I want to eat THE WHOLE THING… and I want it all the time.
I could go for some right now actually. (Not pregnant)
On that day, I didn’t just want a teaspoon full, I wanted to be on the outside of the prison.. in chocolate mousse heaven (like that old Cadbury ad, except everything was mousse, not dairy milk chocolate).

The very next Sunday, I had my first prophetic word (a word inspired by God) to give during the prophetic time – ME. Little Elizabeth from Whangarei. The girl sinner with the dirty face.

I still remember wanting to vomit – not wanting to even get in my car to make the trip to Church. I felt some sort of stirring that I didn’t understand as I was hammering and chiselling (putting makeup on), but I knew I wanted and needed to ‘catch the bus’ if there was going to be one stationed.

Catching the bus is another expression for taking a ‘window of opportunity’. If you don’t catch the bus, you’ll miss it. Another bus might come, but it could be late. There might even be detours. You’re not even guaranteed that the next bus will even come at all.

So I caught the bus. I decided to be obedient to what I felt was Gods voice. The way I saw it, even if I wasn’t sure of myself – I would ‘catch the bus’. I’d rather put myself out there and risk looking like a fool if it was a chance to show God my love. So that He would entrust me with more. So I could keep the rhythm of putting one foot infront of the other. So I would grow. So I could be free. So others could therefore enter the grace of walking in that freedom too.

Bringing me to November last year. I had an incredible hunger to go deeper.
I got to the point where I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I did what I could, I pictured myself in the throne room.
Jesus sitting on His throne, me on my knees before Him.
I had a large quantity of packing boxes infront of me, some tattered, some dirty, some new… in those boxes were everything that made me, me.
There were boxes filled with the ‘shameful’ things, another one with the ‘dirty’ things, another with the ‘best’ parts, ‘dreams’, ‘hopes’, ‘faithful’ things, a box labelled ‘family’, etc.
Everything that made me me, had it’s own box.

With every box, I pictured myself ever so vividly pushing it to Jesus’s feet.
With each box I pushed, his arms opened and scooped them up.
There were tears in his eyes like He’d been waiting throughout eternity for this moment.
Every last box I pushed and gave to Him – telling Him that every last part of me belonged to Him.
I was at the last box labelled “family”. I followed suit with the ones before and pushed it thinking that was it. I looked up and saw that He was waiting. I didn’t understand! Didn’t I just give you everything?

I looked around and saw tucked behind me was a box I was subconsciously protecting. It was a box that I then noticed my right hand was handcuffed to. It was the one labelled “Eva” – my daughter.
For the first time, I saw this for what it was.
I was holding this box back from Jesus. This part of me I wasn’t letting him have.
I didn’t want to give it because I was terrified. I held fears over this box. I didn’t want the circumstances that surrounded my life as a youngster to happen to her.

My heart ripped. I loved Jesus with all my heart, I loved my daughter with all my heart. I had to make a decision, keep doing things in my own strength, or handing them over completely? I sat and cried, and then I made my decision.
With much pain and fear, I pushed the “Eva” box to Jesus… my mothers heart weeping before Him as I said to Him, “Your will be done… I choose to trust You more with her, then I ever could with myself”. It was like a soundwave went through the room…every link in the chains that bound me at the wrist exploded as pieces were thrown about the floor. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of security. All fear in an instant was blown apart.

He scooped me up and He had me.
I was not mine anymore.

From there on out, whether or not people were willing to ‘catch the bus’ with me, I knew that He was in me. I was certain of His ownership over me. I was certain that where I was going was the right direction. I had true heart knowledge that I was His and that He was mine.

It’s 9 months on from that very first day I stepped out, and I’m still moving! – I can’t count how many times I’ve put my hand up in a prophetic time or have had a spontaneous or prophetic song or have in one way or another, ‘stepped out” (everytime I still feel the urge to vomit)… all because I see my journey as just that… a journey.
You progress, you put one foot infront of the other, you get scared at times, you’re uncertain at times, but you carry on.
You go up hard hills, you run down the easy sloping otherside, you keep the rhythm up through the plains.
You keep your fire stoked, especially in the dark. You throw fuel into the fire to keep it burning (in my case it’s the distractions in my life).
You feed healthily, you watch what is going in, you protect He who is within you. You keep going!!

So here is my prayer for you:
Regardless of your beliefs, I pray that you truely are able to question yourself. That you are brave enough to ask the tough questions and face the true answers. That you wouldn’t settle for doing life mediocrely. That you would be authentic. That today is the day you choose step out in uncomfortable and scary ways so that you grow, produce fruit and can share the fruit with those around you.
That you would surrender and realise you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.
That you can enter the grace of walking in freedom too.
That you would catch the bus and you would catch it on time.

 

 
Love always,

Liz

xx

A New York Memoir – Part 4 (*WARNING* a lengthy finale)

newyork

It’s 3.30am, Sunday the 21st of October.

The sunroom I’m sleeping in becomes illuminated by the alarm blaring from my cellphone. I didn’t really need the alarm, I didn’t sleep anyway.

My husband will be getting up in an hour for work… it’s strange not being woken by the same alarm together. I’m thinking of my daughter who is still in bed. I can almost see those deep blue eyes she was given from her daddy, closed with a deep sleep, tucked up in her new red puppy pyjamas. I bet shes dreaming about singing or dresses or washing her hands or the colour purple. Those things are what preoccupy her every day.

I’m two hours from home at Aunty Lyndas beach house in Manly, which is located on the Whangaparoa Peninsula. Seashores, craft stores and Italian restaurants are in abundance.
I’m homesick but I’m gonna do this. I know all it takes is to follow my footsteps. I get up in a dewy foggy morning and make the hour trip to the airport.

About 6.20am and I’m on the otherside of customs. I thought I’d be able to stomach breakfast but water is the extent of it. I sit down at the nearest table and burst in to tears. I’m doing this, I really am. I’m doing it alone. Do I want to get murdered? – “God is telling you to step out of the boat” – I’m reading this over and over from my journal.

Even though it’s not the last time I cry, it’s here I decide I need to enjoy every moment.

As hard as it is being on my own, I need to shut that emotional tap off or it’s going to sabotage everything.

3.5 hours later I’m in Sydney. An hour after that, I’m boarding the biggie. The one that takes me to the U. S and A. Seat 64K – right on the window side of a wing.

An elderly couple in their 70’s sit next to me. Americans. He’s in the middle and his knees are touching the seat infront. Poor guy. He would’ve had movie star looks back in his hey day.

He sits hunching forward to see the screen infront and watches Men in Black 3 on the inflight entertainment. Every now and then giggles and holds his lady-loves hand. I can’t help but wonder about their lives. How old were they when they married? How many children do they have?

I imagined their names were Howard and Ann. That it was the 50’s when they met at a local dance made up of shiny shoes, Brylcreem, ribbons and little white gloves. That they were married before Anns twenty first year and managed to buy the house of their dreams with Howards paycheck. He was a mechanic in the army after all. There were hand written love notes, picnics by the lake, vacations to Chippewa Falls in Wisconsin. Now here they were, in their 70’s, a lifetime of laughs, loves and lessons littering their wake…flying home from the trip of their dreams down under. More memories to their love story.

13.5 hours on a Qantas plane in Cattle class, and then another 5 hours on a Qantas plane in Cattle class – It’s kind of like child birth. In the moment, its the worst experience your body could ever go through. The cramps, the claustrophobia, someone constantly kneeing you, the gas… but this time not gas that comes in a bottle, its coming from the trouser cough of the woman in front of you.

You get out on the other side of it all, and see the sunshine and you forget exactly what it was all like. Only moments earlier you’d sworn to yourself that you would never put yourself through this pain again – but then you find yourself thinking, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad…I got a beautiful baby out of it… infact, I think I WILL do this again.”

This time I wasn’t getting an 8lb 11oz bouncing baby with dimples. Instead, I was taking my first few steps on to American soil, and from a billboard – I was being welcomed by big beautiful Barack Obama and his ears.

I’d just completed 26 hours in transit and I’d done it.
It was 10.30pm and I was in New York City!
The lights… the lights of New York City at night… it was magical. Approaching the city and over the Brooklyn Bridge, I get my first glimpse of an illuminated icon, the Empire State building! I’m here! I’m really here!

My hotel is on Broadway, THE Broadway from the movies. I know that my accommodation isn’t anything to be excited about, but its somewhere to sleep in a safe area at least. It’s on a sleepy street in the Upper West side of Manhattan that is lined with sweet gum trees slowly losing their yellowed leaves with the New York “Fall”. There is a Deli at one end, a Laundromat in the middle and a Diner with three dollar omelettes at my end. The actor Chevy Chase has an apartment here and four streets down, Matt Damon has a townhouse.
I’m on the 10th floor in room 2010.

When I opened the door for the first time, I’m smacked in the face by the smell of stale cigarettes. It’s a smokers room and the windows are taped shut.
The decor is from the 80’s, the carpet is sticky, but the room is spotless. The tv is a giant box from the 90’s, the remote glows in the dark, the cabinet has a broken door, but the bed is amazing. I climb in and cry for the last time. I’m far from home, I’m exhausted and now I have to sleep with my mouth open. I pray… and then I know tomorrow will be a better day.

The next day and the days to come were like a dream. I walked. I took everything in. One moment I can smell hotdogs from sidewalk vendors, then the smell of laundry detergent from a Laundromat, and then pee… it was always like that… if it wasn’t hotdogs or laundry detergent… it was pee.
I did so many different things (< click this link!)

Did I ever tell you about Canal Street?

Canal Street is a place that is notorious for replica designer bags, belts and sunglasses. Extremely popular with tourists and residents alike.

My guidebook tells me its legal to buy them, but it’s illegal for someone to sell them. Go figure.

I have a good nosey around the place – there are bags, framed photos of New York, scarves, sunglasses, cellphone cases, belts, mini Statue of Liberties, snow globes, a guy standing with a sign that reads “Need money for weed”, you-name-it everywhere.

It’s about 2.30pm and I think its time I head off to explore other places.

I read that you may walk past someone and they will whisper under their breath “Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Coach”, all the while keeping their eyes to the streets, looking out for the police. These guys sell the better quality fakes. I also read to not be surprised if you are led to a room where they lock the door behind you. All of their ‘goods’ are in makeshift locations ready to move in an instant incase they catch wind of a raid.

I begin walking toward a good looking black guy standing with his wife next to a bus stop. Just as I get within earshot I hear the keywords “Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Coach”. I laugh and just go with it, “Okay”.

He tells me to go with his wife, her name is Lisa and she walks me over to the window of a shoe store. She flips open her cellphone and shows me a gallery of the replica bags in their possession. I point to a quilted ‘Chanel’ with a gold chain, and with that, she closes her phone and tells me to wait for her at Starbucks in the next street.
I wait for ten minutes before she walks in with a black rubbish bag tucked under her arm. She takes out the ‘Chanel’ and with a naked flame from a lighter, she lets it lick against the surface of the bag to show me the materials are good quality.

I say okay, hand her a Benjamin and we go our seperate ways  –  I’m walking away feeling like I just participated in a drug deal.

On the Friday, I decide to just walk and see where I end up. By now I’ve got the staring through people thing down pat. You have to. EVERY single street you have people standing by trying to engage you in conversation to give money for something, to do a cruise, a tour, a halloween special, presidential propaganda, comedy show tickets, happy hour specials, takeaway deals, we buy gold pamphlets, give money to this charity, that charity, greenpeace – EVERYTHING.

I got fed up and picked up some tips from the every day New Yorkers I observed: put ear phones in and keep your eyes forward, don’t stand around too long, don’t carry a camera bag, DO NOT wear a “I heart NY” shirt – you might as well have a lit sign with “VULNERABLE TOURIST” flashing above your head.

Horns in cars aren’t a warning, they are to let everyone know you need to change lanes. When someone bumps in to you, you need to immediately check for your wallet. “Do not walk” signs are a suggestion. Eye contact is a sign of aggression. If you think you might want to sit down somewhere to rest your feet, you’d better plan that little break in before hand because there are no benches found street to street, that what the parks are for.

As much of a culture shock as this place is, I don’t want to leave. I imagine what it would be like living in a one bedroom apartment paying $600 a week like they all do. Little do I know, that within the next few moments, I’ll be heading down a track to cut my trip early and to fly home the next day.

I’ve just finished shopping for cosmetics at a drugstore in midtown. I exit the front door, turn right to continue on down town with the other masses when I spot a familiar face. The Kiwi woman who sat behind me on the Plane from Sydney and again in LA! We briefly talked in L.A, about our plans, where we were from and then wished eachother the best in our endeavours. Then in a city of over 8 million people, we run in to eachother again!

We’re chatting like we’re old friends, what we’ve thought of the city so far, the food, the bargains we purchased etc., then she says something that changes my thought track entirely, “I’m really freaked out about the hurricane rolling in”. At this point I hadn’t even turned the TV on. I was still jet lagged and by night time, I was well and truely ready for bed. “What hurricane?” I ask. She gives me a bewildered stare, “Have you not even turned a TV on?”.

She was talking about Hurricane Sandy. I was supposed to fly home the day it hits.

I get back to my hotel at around 6pm, this time I turn the TV on. Every single channel programmed to that TV was dedicated to tracking the hurricane. It was pretty eerie. They showed footage of home owners in Jersey sandbagging and boarding everything. They closed all the parks. The Mayor was declaring a state of emergency, they were calling this thing “A storm of a lifetime” and were setting up halls and emergency accommodation for people in vulnerable areas to stay. I called the airlines and according to the Qantas lady, I had booked THE VERY LAST SEAT on the VERY LAST FLIGHT out of New York. And that was it, I was going home the next day.

I slept well that night and wake up around 11am the next day and go to grab some breakfast from the Diner across the road. I begin noticing all the sandbags lining footpaths and set outside doors ready for use. I notice plywood going over grates to the subway, plywood going up over windows. I notice people leaving wholefood grocers with bags packed full of canned goods and water.

I can’t help but feel so protected and free. Of all times to go to New York and have the experience of my dreams, a thing like this happens at the very end of my trip that shows me Gods faithfulness and favour. That of 8 million plus people, I run into a woman I’ve met… and she warns me of the coming storm. I learn that regardless of the scary things that happen in the world, if God gives you a dream, He will fulfill it…. if a hurricane is coming, it won’t stop Him. I can see that we need to stop putting Him in a box labelled “God” and expecting Him to only move within the confines of that box…that He doesn’t want to be in a box…He wants room in our lives to be Himself. When we allow Him that room, He blows our mindsets apart and blesses and guides our every step in ways that we would had never believed.

I can see so clearly that faith without deeds is dead. We need action to show our faith – when we actually do put action to it, things begin to happen and we inspire others to set off chain reactions in their own lives. You have one life to live, you might live it and do it in freedom.

“Step out of the boat”.

 

(When I finally got home, my story has made the front page of the paper!)

xx

A New York Memoir – Part 3 (a list of memorable experiences)

Memorable things that happened:

  • Saw the Halloween decorated city – carved pumpkins, pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin pies
  • Saw a city that was also preparing to vote again in the Presidential elections – candidate buttons, flyers, billboards everywhere
  • Grayline double decker bus tours of both uptown (Harlem) and downtown
  • Experienced the top of the Rock
  • Went to the top of the Empire State and imagined Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan meeting up there like in Sleepless in Seattle
  • Had a massive slice of New York pizza
  • Sang the “Money, money, money, money” song while walking by Trump International Tower
  • Ate a genuine red velvet cupcake from the famous Magnolia Bakery
  • Ate chili fries
  • Had a rickshaw ride around Central Park
  • Saw where John Lennon was shot
  • Went to the John Lennon memorial – there was a man there playing a guitar singing John Lennon songs, there are petals and flowers that get placed there daily, and every Sunday Yoko Ono brings a bouquet of flowers herself
  • Saw a dog with wheels for legs
  • Saw Ice Cube getting a horse and carriage ride
  • Got hit on by three African Americans – holler
  • Saw 30 Rock being filmed in the street
  • Saw a filming of Good Morning America with a little known guest they had called OPRAH – never heard of her
  • Saw ‘Bring it on’ the broadway show
  • Ate some ‘shrimp’ at Bubba Gump
  • Saw an ad being filmed
  • Got a lousy caricature drawing
  • Frequented Times Square and Broadway for the obnoxious lights, crowds, TV characters, and unnecessary candy stores
  • Saw the famous ‘Naked Cowboy’
  • Got a yellow cab ride
  • Did a TV & Movie tour and spun the most elaborate story to the tour guide and a bus load of people that I’m Jermaine Clements cousin – I committed to it for the whole 3.5 hour tour
  • Saw the ‘projects’
  • Saw drug deal going down
  • Played on the ‘Big’ piano
  • Got a ‘Zoltar’ card
  • Stocked up on $8 OPI!
  • Saw paparazzi waiting outside Tao for Tom Hanks
  • Bought a $20 Guess wallet
  • Got some Seinfeld ‘Jujyfruits’
  • Had a black and white cookie
  • Ate a $1 hotdog from a sidewalk vendor
  • Window shopped Jimmy Choos
  • Navigated the subway
  • Had a group of older black men sing gospel songs in my subway car
  • Got a free hug
  • Got handed a “what to do if everyone gets raptured and you get left behind” pamphlet
  • Had cream cheese bagels, giant pretzels and a black cup of joe
  • Went on a harbour cruise where the miracle on the Hudson happened
  • Saw the Statue of Liberty
  • Saw the dock that the Titanic was supposed to arrive at
  • Tried my first Bud Light
  • Walked down Carrie Bradshaws street
  • Saw where Katherine Hepburn lived
  • Saw where Heath Ledger died 😦
  • Saw the library where Slimer first appears in Ghostbusters, which is also the same Library on “The day after tomorrow” where they burn the library books
  • Went to multiple F.R.I.E.N.D.S locations
  • Went to DASH
  • Saw a man feed a homeless person
  • Saw old men playing chess on a door stoop
  • Ate a cake pop outside Madison Square Gardens
  • Saw where Marilyn Monroe sang happy birthday to JFK
  • Finally made it to the World Trade Centre site. I even booked a walking tour with ‘Bill’ a Firehouse Chief and a first responder. A few quick decisions decided his fate from his co-workers, he was the only survivor from his unit. He cried a few times talking about his friends he lost and loved. He described how it was a life and death situation looking up to dodge the debris and bodies falling if you try to run from the building, and how he made everyone in the stairwell hug the wall as tight as they could when they heard things collapsing (not realising it was the other building). As he stepped out the door to leave himself, his building started collapsing.