Learning to Receive

When I mentioned that I thought I was entering a season of receiving, I didn’t think that it would look like this.

Yesterday morning, my friend Emily and I headed out for churros con chocolate and then on to a Sunday open air market filled with handmade goods, Spanish traditional items, and plenty of tourist items.  The market was set up in the middle of a street that was blocked off for the occasion and it was buzzing with energy, packed with people.  I picked out a lovely leather purse at a steal of a deal and we continued on.  I remember looking down for a moment to adjust the items in my purse and secure it to avoid pick-pocketers, when I suddenly found myself on the ground.  On the stone street there was a step down that I hadn’t seen and I fell, hearing a loud crack as my ankle gave way.  I knew that what happened wasn’t good, but given my history of many ankle injuries I was hoping that maybe if I sat there for a few moments I would be able to just walk it off and be fine.  Not the case.  We hobbled out of the market and hailed a taxi to take us back to Emily’s apartment.  I limped up the 4 flights of stairs and we immediately iced and elevated my ankle.  We let a couple hours go by and my ankle appeared to only be getting worse.  We scoured the internet looking for home ankle remedies, and how to recognize a sprain vs. a break.  Just when I’d be convinced that I had a sprain, there would be a line that said “many breaks are mistaken as sprains.”  Not helpful.  After a couple hours my friends Emily and Katya decided that we really should go to the ER.  So down the steps we went and into another taxi.

They rolled me into the ER in a wheelchair and I was immediately extremely thankful to have 2 Spanish speakers with me as they talked with the receptionist and got me checked in.  We waited and all had a great laugh as we heard them call my name over the intercom “ehlihzabehth Hooneecoot.”  After a consultation, they decided to X-Ray my ankle.  We all let out a sigh of relief as they relayed the news that my ankle was not broken and was just a bad sprain.  The doctor told me to mostly stay off of my ankle for the next 2 weeks, continue to elevate it, compress it, ice it, and take ibuprofen.  We headed back to the apartment, hobbled up the 4 flights of stairs again, and the girls went out to the Farmacia to fetch me crutches and a compression wrap.  When they got back to the apartment it was a constant stream of getting me pillows, blankets, snacks, drinks, books, my laptop, etc.  We had been planning to go to a bar to watch a Spain futbol match, but I knew that I couldn’t do those stairs again today.  I encouraged them to continue on with their plans while I stayed behind but instead they decided to stream the game and have friends over to the apartment.  So thoughtful.  We ordered pizza and had a relaxing evening huddled around a laptop.  This morning I woke up and was met with coffee and breakfast prepared for me and brought to my bedside.  Such a blessing and so…difficult.

There is nothing more humbling than having to rely on others.  I pride myself on being an independent woman who can take care of herself.  This past week has been full of things that I couldn’t do myself.  A week ago today I packed up all my stuff and headed north to Redding.  I needed help packing and moving furniture, and I needed my friend Alison to make the trek with me so that I wouldn’t be alone.  When we arrived in Redding we needed help unloading the van and 2 guys we didn’t even know showed up to help.  As I have prepared for this summer and the coming school year I have needed financial help, and my friends have showed up, with one of them setting up a ministry fund for me and others contributing to it. When I landed here in Spain I didn’t know where I was going and Emily met me at the airport to escort me back to her place where she would be hosting me for 5 days.  And now with my injury I have needed constant help with food, ice, pillows, books, and getting around.  In 2 days I will need to travel from Madrid to Altea, where I will spend the next 5 weeks.  I have no idea how this is going to work.  I am on crutches and I will be traveling with a suitcase, handbag, and guitar.  I will need help.  And once I get to Altea I will be homebound for awhile since walking is our only mode of transportation there.  I will need help.

When Emily or Katya ask “do you need anything?” or “can I help?” I want so badly to say “no thanks” or “I got it.”  But the truth is that I actually do need help.  And getting help takes both someone offering it and someone receiving it.  So I’m learning how to say “yes, can you get me some water?” or “would you mind grabbing my laptop and bringing it in here?” or “yes, I’m hungry, thanks for offering to make me dinner.”  I know that Jesus is caring for me through these people who are serving me and through others who are praying for me back home and being an emotional support.  I’m slowly learning to say “I need help” and “thank you,” knowing that I won’t be able to repay people for their kindness.  I am very aware of my need and as I receive help I’m becoming more and more acquainted with the beautiful undeserving nature of grace.

Lord, help me to receive.  Help me know that it’s okay to not have it all together and not be strong all the time.  Help me receive love and care, and help me rely on others.  Open my heart to what You want to do in this season and what you want to teach me and grow in me.

Spain, School and Sabbatical

 A lot of changes have been brewing for me this spring and I am excited to share them with you!
The short version: I moved to Redding, this fall I’m going to a ministry school, and this summer I am in Spain.
The longer version:
School
Last year I began to experience a stronger desire to receive more training and schooling.  God has been doing a lot in my life and for over a year I have been praying about the possibility of attending Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, CA.  After many months of discernment, finally this Spring I felt like I finally got the green light to pursue school for this fall.  As I look to the months ahead, I’m excited for a season of personal growth and further ministry training.  In many ways I don’t know what to expect, but I know that God has good things ahead.
Move
The decision to go to school has meant moving 3 hours north.  I have learned over the years that with every “yes,” there is a “no” that also accompanies it.  In this case it has meant leaving Open Door and the Bay Area.  This was a very difficult decision given that this community holds a dear place in my heart and has been a place of significant formation for me over the last 6 years.  However, I’m confident that God is leading me on into this next chapter.  Open Door was very much part of my processing and I have been overwhelmed by their support and love over the past few months as we have prepared for my transition off staff.  This past Sunday was my last day and on Monday I packed up and moved to Redding.
Spain
While I was discerning my decision to go to school, there also arose a ministry opportunity for this summer in Spain.  My good friend, Cari Jenkins, is directing a month long discipleship/immersion/arts program for U.S. college students in Altea, Spain and she invited me to come be part of her staff for the summer.  With my upcoming school transition, I felt like this was a wonderful, unique, and timely opportunity to wrap up my job and go be part of this ministry in Spain before school begins.
Sabbatical
After 13 years in vocational ministry, I am excited for a sabbatical year of sorts.  This is a great opportunity for me to step back and have a season of adventure, receiving, and learning.  Throughout this coming year I will continue to write, perform, and lead worship, but it will be on a smaller scale given my school and ministry commitments.  I am extremely excited for this coming year and thankful to many who have partnered with me to make it possible.
I will be posting periodic updates on both my time in Spain and at school, and I would love for you to join me for the ride!  There is quite the adventure ahead!  You can follow my blog here or check out my pictures on Instagram.
Thanks again for all your support!  I’m so very thankful to be in this with you. Praying God’s blessings on your summer.
Elizabeth

The Release of My New Album – The Arrival

For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of recording a collection of songs specifically for this season. For the last few years I have been writing songs that tell the story of the coming of Christ with hopes of recording them. Finally the right time came and this past summer I was able to record “The Arrival” in Minneapolis with talented producer Matt Patrick.

As I planned for this record I had a desire to not only sing Christmas songs, but also songs for the season of Advent – a season of longing and waiting. Though Christ has already come, we remain in a world that is not yet perfect. We long for things to be made right, and for the day when Christ will come again. “The Arrival” is a mix of both songs that cry out for things to be restored, and songs that celebrate that God is now with us. Half of the songs on the album originals and the other half are remakes of some of my personal Christmas favorites, including “O Holy Night.”

My hope is that these songs would accompany you through this season– one that is often of mixture of celebration, disappointment, remembering, loss, and hope. Our God is “Emmanuel”–He is with us!

elizabeth

Giving Up

It’s really humbling when you come face to face with your own humanity.  There are days when I think I’m doing pretty well on this difficult journey of life and I find myself looking like the person I want to become more and more.  And then there are other days where the reminders of my flesh seem to slap me in the face.  I see my selfishness, insecurities, fears, judgement of others, self-protection, and greed.  I’m finding that when hints of these come up I’m given a few different options:

  • I can try to deny these ugly realities and do my best to ignore them, pretending that these things have no place in my character and doing my best to cover them up.  “Who? Me? Be selfish and insecure??  Nonsense!”
  • I can dwell on them, feel defeated and wondering if this is just my true colors showing.  This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness, wondering if I will ever truly change.  For me this leads to questions like “Would people really love me if they knew this about me?” or worse, “Does God really love me and care about me in the midst of my failings?”
  • I can try harder.  I can make myself busy and fill my schedule with things that look and smell like good things.  I can exhaust myself trying to do everything in my own power to be “good” and hope that this good outweighs the bad.  The hope in this is that I will be loved as a result.
  • I can give them up to God and set my mind on what is true.  This includes the truth about my identity and mission.  The truth about me is that I have been redeemed.  Yes, I am not perfect, but I am loved.  The core of who I am is no longer “failure,” but “beloved.”  And He has actually empowered me with His Spirit to live into my true identity and calling as a citizen of Heaven.  This looks like someone who embraces hope, love, and trust.  I’m less concerned with who I once was and more focused on who I’m becoming.  I choose to believe the best about others and have eyes to see who they are becoming.  I allow myself to lean on Jesus and trust that He is who He says He is: a good, gracious God who cares dearly for His children.  I am transformed by this revolutionary love and it compels me to love others.  I give up my own plans, trading them in for God’s vision.  I listen for His voice and follow where He leads.
So today as you find yourself stumbling, remember that there is One who is there ready to embrace you and help you take the next step on your journey.  You can’t do it on your own, but then again, you were never asked to.