MY TEN-YEAR

Today is my 10 year anniversary of being in Germany.... here's how it all started.

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Ten years ago I was living in Orlando, Florida in a house with a few roommates. Attending university. Working 3 jobs. Playing in a band. Dating a boy and being your average 20 year old. It was fine. I had no idea what I was doing. It was fine. I was figuring things out. 

One night I came home and my roommate was sitting on the front porch staring at her computer, crying. I asked her what was wrong and without words, she just turned her computer to me. There on her screen was this photo: 

Photo by Jan C. Schlegel 

Photo by Jan C. Schlegel 

I too broke into tears. Yes, I’m pretty emotional when it comes to looking at art. Last week at the Museum of Modern Art in New York while walking around looking at pieces like the Autumn Rhythm by Pollock and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso I found myself getting weak in the knees and teary eyed…. but on this particular night, something about this photo moved me in a way that a piece of art never had before… because it was more than a piece of artwork. It was a calling. 

My roommate began to explain that this was a photo school in Germany called a DTS. It was 6 months. 3 months of lecture and photo classes and 3-month outreach onto the field in a developing country where you use your photography practically in order to serve people in different ways. My heart was pounding and everything in me knew I needed to go to do this school. I went inside, laid down in my bed and I whispered a small, scared prayer “send me.” 

The next morning I abruptly woke up in a panic remembering my prayer the night before and without thinking I nearly screamed out “I’m not going to Germany!” Sweats and a racing heart came upon me as I severely began to panic. Then a little inner voice from deep inside spoke up

“Why?”

I got out of bed and began pacing around my room pleading my case of why I couldn’t go. 

  1. I was in school. 
  2. I had 3 jobs. 
  3. I had a lease to a house. 
  4. I had a band. 
  5. I had a boyfriend and we were moving to New York. 

I felt confident in my defense. These were all practical, logical reasons not to uproot ones life and move half way across the world… right? So I slammed the door on the thought of going and that was that. 

Oh friends…. let me just say, it’s never just…. that. 

I am a firm believer in free will. And I am a firm believer that God respects and honors our choices in life. However, through the following events I also learned another strong lesson: When God has a plan for your life, He is more committed to it than you are… no matter what. 

So here we go. Sunday night, at 11:59pm I logged onto my universities website to register for classes for the next semester. Registration opened at midnight so I wanted to make sure I was on time. At exactly midnight, I went to book 5 different classes and every single one was full. Every. Single. One. Monday morning I called the administrations office and they literally said: “we’re sorry, all your classes you need to move forward in your degree are booked, you’ll have to wait for the next semester.” Tuesday I went to work and was laid off that afternoon. For no real reason other than they were downsizing. The next day my two other bosses called to tell me they had no more work for me for the rest of the year. That evening my band mates decided to leave the band, therefore, our band broke up. Thursday my roommates all told me they were moving out and we should cancel the lease. And on Friday, my boyfriend, who had just moved to New York 1 week prior (where I was planning to move) called me and broke up with me..... (insert whatever emoticon you feel fits here) 

Beyond shocked I got in my car and started driving. I remember my knuckles gripping onto the steering wheel were turning whiter and whiter. Cars started honking at me because I was driving 25 in a 50 zone. So I pulled off the side of the road into a parking lot. I went to get out of the car and as I did I felt an enormous rage come over me. I slammed my door and I yelled up to the skies:

“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”

"Turn your head to the left" a voice whispered.

There on the window of a car next to me was an advertisement with most of its letters and numbers washed away. The only ones remaining were: D. T. S. September 1. (No, I'm not kidding)

This, of course, was the name and date of the school in Germany. 

My heart sunk and as I held back the urge to vomit I whispered in defeat “fine. you win. Germany it is.” 

Two weeks later I was on a plane for Germany. 

Me on one of my first trains in Germany during my school back in 2007. 

Me on one of my first trains in Germany during my school back in 2007. 

Getting on that flight was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I knew this was a turning point in my life. I would soon come to learn that God leading me there, and having to do it in such an abrupt way was actually one of the most loving things he's ever done for me and one I'd forever be grateful for. But getting me there was everything. Leaving my home. My family. My friends. My dreams behind to chase the unknown... what an awful idea. 

I love awful ideas, don't you?

They always turn into something fantastic. Like that 6 months school in Germany which turned into 10 years of living here. 10 years of living outside my home country for 1/3 of my life.  10 years of leading an insanely cool non-profit. 10 years of YWAM. 10 years of finding my best friends. 10 years of traveling to almost 40 different countries. 10 years of meeting thousands of amazing people all around the world from different tribes and cultures. 10 years of meeting my husband and getting married. 10 years of serving in some of the most impoverished places on earth and helping people get out of poverty. 10 years of working with some of the most innovative, creative artists, visionaries and dreamers I’ve ever met. 10 years of starting Liz and the Lions and finding my sound and touring my music around the world. 10 years of getting to know the Lord and in return getting to know me.

10 years of Adventure! 

Me in Chad back in 2008 during my school outreach.

Me in Chad back in 2008 during my school outreach.

But now... 10 years later

I thought the hardest thing I would ever have to do was “go.” Until now, where it turns out that the hardest thing I ever had to do was “stay.” 

The last season has felt like those first two weeks of everything being ripped away. I’ve lost it all, all over again. I lost my base. I lost my work. I lost my home. I lost my best friends. I lost two friends to death. I lost my health. I lost my music. I lost my projects. And I lost myself. But somehow, I never lost my faith. I think when you go through a season where everything is ripped away from you (again) you suddenly realize that there is really only one choice we actually have in this world. One choice that is really the only thing we can control and absolutely no one else can take away from us. And that is our faith.  I’ve held onto that through it all. Like the girl 10 years ago who believed that on the other side of that flight to Germany there was something better waiting for her, I’ve held on now believing that on the other side of this storm, there’s a brand spanking new beautiful rainbow… no… double rainbow waiting for me. So I've held on. I've stayed put. I didn't run back home. I didn't run away. I didn't go. I stayed.

And of course… slowly but faithfully the Lord has begun to bring all His promises to fruition. One by one the future unfolds with things that are even more exciting than I could ever imagine. Things that make me so pumped about the next 10 years.

Last week in New York as I stood in front of some of the most amazing works of arts, my heart felt heavy again. It was scared and it shook me knowing that coming back to Germany this time would represent a new decade of my life. A new chapter. A new end and a new beginning. So again, like that girl 10 years ago who knew there was still more out there for her to see. do. experience. I got back on that plane again with hands open and welcoming all the new things ahead.

All the new treasures that I know the next 10 years has for me. So here's to the next 10 years. 

LETS DO THIS! 

Me at MOMA in New York last week. 

Me at MOMA in New York last week. 

Side note: September 2nd is my 10 year even though the school started on the 1st because I came a day late.... had to do something rebellious