I never expected 2016 to start off as a year in chaos and disarray…but that seems to exactly be how it has gone down. It truly shot off with a surprising bang, especially after December 2015 ended quite abruptly. December being the month that brought closure to a raw subject matter that God had worked out in me for the whole year of 2015. Suddenly in January I found myself in a terrifying place of questioning my faith, and it seemed like everywhere I turned to try and grab onto solid truths, I was grasping at air– there were no helping hands and with terrified eyes, I found myself plummeting faster than I knew how to prevent.
Being in a place of terrified soul disarray, I decided to leave the tundra waste-land of Wisconsin and go on an extended weekend trip to Tennessee. It was the most last-minute thing I had done in years and the spontaneity was exactly what my heart needed to be thrown into vulnerability again. I am incredibly thankful (a hundred times over) for the hearts of my friends Mary, Jordan and Sarah– who welcomed me SO openly for the
hundredth (third) time in Nashville. The weekend coincided with the cd release for my friend Jason Wilkes (look him up, you won’t be sad) and it was a gift to see so many of my Disciple friends at a non-working show for them. The days were filled with a soft grace-filled space that my heart so desperately needed. On the final eve of my time in town, I pleaded with my eyes “can we please go somewhere alone?” to which Mary immediately responded “let’s go.” (read: “Yes Liz, I am open to caring for you right now, even if it’s an inconvenience for me.” — *cue tears just remembering*). We climbed into the shiny blue Prius and she whisked me away to safe places where the lights of the city sparkled on water and on sky– there were honest words and even more raw heart emotion than I knew was in me at the time. I went to Nashville unsure of Jesus and left the city being completely full of security in Him. (read about it here)
-fast forward to March-
the Cityrockfest Tour was in full swing again this year- and out of nowhere, my schedule cleared so I found myself driving the miles to the incredibly strange state of Iowa to see dear friends. by this point, I had completely accepted God to be orchestrating my weekend and I finally felt like I was getting my footing back – there seemed to finally be solid ground, even though it was still hard to see. the weekend was a gift of music and friends, I was also given many hours in the car alone (which is time I always cherish to spend singing and talking with God). my dear Minnesota friend Sarah was at the shows as well and we split a hotel, naturally staying up til the wee hours of the morning catching up in conversation.
another week went by and i found myself on a weekend adventure with my favorite fiery friend– Molly. let me take a second to talk about this girl. we met on a whim almost, after attending many Disciple shows together over the years (we never knew each other!) and me visiting the Cup O Joy in Green Bay, WI soo many more times than I can count. Somehow, we never met until the Radical video shoot (watch here)…and somehow she has become a dear sister to me. well, she was getting a tattoo in Michigan and asked me if i’d like to come along… you know i walked away with new ink. one of the best parts about driving to Sturgis, Michigan was getting to surprise my soul sister Lainie at her home. it had been WAY TOO LONG since i had gotten to hug her and so we took a half hour trip out of our way to spend an hour and a half with the one and only Lainie-face Conway. the evening ended far too soon and Molly and i headed back to Kenosha for a snooze before church. wait, it was Easter? oh yes, a holiday got thrown in the mix as well– this year I was invited for dinner with my friend Heidi who is now a Mrs. — the day was more of a gift to me than i even knew i needed at the time.
workdays flew by and as the clock ticked down on a Thursday, i found myself zooming off to grab my suitcase and jump in Molly’s car… we had to get to Indianapolis STAT…because that’s where i would find Mary. we rushed through Chicago traffic in almost no time at all, took an unexpected turn in Scary Gary (literally through the town in the dark) and as we pulled into the parking lot of our hotel, my heart was bursting to hug my friend.
the next morning, we woke up to rush to the breakfast area and scarf down some food before checking out of our hotel and road tripping to Cincinnatti, Ohio.
WE CONQUERED THE UNDERGROUND.
okay, real life here– this venue has been a bucket list item for me and it was absolutely more than i could have hoped for: there were more Alliance members than any show i’ve ever been to and i was gifted the even bigger privilege to meet my friend Kevin’s family. quick story: 6 years ago i attempted to get to a show in Ohio to do exactly what i accomplished this time– to see Alliance friends and meet the family of one of the best big brothers i’ve ever known….but 6 years ago it didn’t work out. i ended up at the show the day AFTER which was hard for me back then– to miss something so so important. it was harder still that next day to hear my friend say, “i missed you last night, i wanted you to meet my family”– so six years later i fulfilled a very important promise.
one of the dearest moments to my heart occurred post-show. the Disciple guys were seated behind a long white table, signing autographs and meeting fans. about 5-10 minutes into the signing line, Kevin’s wife, Julie, appeared- bringing his daughter Blair to hang out with him while he talked to people. there were several of us Alliance members who staked out a bench behind the signing line- just out of the way and a place to relax until the crowd thinned out enough for us to socialize. it was a joy for me just to be able to watch Kevin interact with his baby girl while he worked. on and off went the conversations around me, sometimes i interacted, but mostly i just listened and observed. suddenly i realized Kevin was watching me watch him and i just smiled and he semi-shouted, “want to come say hi to Blair?” i nodded vigorously– the last time i saw her, she was merely an infant and i held her in my arms…so tiny then. it was insane to see her now as a toddler, looking so much like her dad. so i snuck around the line and slid in by where they were sitting. i reached for a high-five and then Kevin instructed her “give miss Liz a hug” and i thought i was going to melt into the floor. there’s just something about children that hits my heart. hands down, it was the biggest unexpected gift i had been given that whole weekend.
the next 24 hours were mostly a blur, but consisted of coffee, getting to see Mary’s roommate Sarah for the last time (at least for a long time *insert tears here*), and watching ‘Hero! the rock opera’ (disclaimer: we laughed through most of it thanks to the Oreos an internet baby face making sites). Seriously though, I’m going to miss that Sarah girl. she is someone i wish i had so many more days with– Cheesy Potatoes and a Mandolin 4ever ❤
long before my heart was ready, it was past time for Molly and i to leave Nashville- so we crawled into her faithful car and
somehow got through Kentucky and Indiana made it home.
more workdays and catching up on sleep and then suddenly it was my birthday?
i definitely don’t remember agreeing to turn 26, but here it was, dumped on my head like an ice-bucket challenge surprise. i didn’t expect it to be as mentally hard as it was for me, so much in my head and heart that surfaces on birthdays. i’ve always hated my birthday and viewed it as another milestone for all the things i haven’t done and haven’t accomplished. this year though, i had love dumped on me from so so many sides. some friends bombarded me with memes, while some made videos that warmed my heart. my parents cleared their schedules to take me out for an incredibly delicious lunch but most importantly, i got to spend a solid 48 hours with my 18 month old nephew. can i just talk about this kid for a second? getting to see him has given me SO MUCH REASON TO STAY i can’t even tell you. in the hardest days and nights, i will pull up videos and photos on my phone and through tears i will look at his joy-filled face and i will fight for better days. Roger Gordon Weyh IV– you have always loved me unconditionally and i don’t know what i would do without you in my life. (besides, he is WAY cooler than me– see below photo)
In all of these things, I have been continually amazed time and time again by the way God continues working in the in-betweens. The point of me writing this is not to brag about the places i’ve gone or the adventures i’ve had… in fact more has been done in my heart in the hours driving places, or the times sitting and staring at a computer screen for 8 hours a day.
There was a very large time in my life when I would need big events: concerts, conferences, memorable milestones– to find God, to have Him work. it always seemed like i was waiting for the next big thing to redefine my life, my relationship with Him..and then last year, most unexpectedly– He showed up and moved. and healed me. and i wasn’t at all expecting Him to do any of it. ever since that night, crying on a random venue floor, healing and Holy Spirit filling every fiber of my being… i’ve engaged Him so so differently. instead of going to shows and hoping for a climactic moment of the setlist, i sing songs to Him and share the journey it takes me to get to the show. hours in the car have meaning now, where they used to be an impatient waiting game. instead of always looking at the destination, i’ve begun living and breathing in the process of it all. instead of solely gazing towards a destination i think i need to reach, i’ve begun looking straight into the eyes of love Himself for all of the moments.
“When we scream,
Our lips don’t make a sound.
We march with feet on solid ground.
We walk, where no one wants to go,
On this untraveled road”
-thousand foot krutch