The keys to the Kingdom

In 2013, my husband to be and our team made a way to Bethlehem in Palestine for our outreach. One of the girls on our team was having a hard time sleeping and our team leader stayed up to talk and pray with her. As they were talking, they heard a loud thud and turned on the flashlight and discovered a red box had fallen from the shelf. They decided to look inside and found it was full of keys. Keys of all shapes and sizes. A word our team felt was this would open the keys to the Kingdom. 

Today, my husband and I are sitting in a guesthouse in Gambia. A place neither of us dreamed or imagined we would ever be. We are here because we were called. We are here because we asked and we received a very clear picture of where God wanted us to be. We are here because we were given the keys to the Kingdom where we can open and close doors. We’ve been entrusted with these keys to open an invitation to relationships with people who come from backgrounds we never imagined in them in. We have keys to the Kingdom.

A few months ago, we started praying about the next steps for us. We knew we were getting comfortable and perhaps it was time to get uncomfortable. One day we prayed and asked Him, “where do you want us?” And I got a picture of a machete. Nothing is random to God but it was for me. My husband suggested looking at the map and we did. We were already feeling Africa was on our hearts. Then we saw it, The Gambia. Shaped like a long machete. We prayed and I remember specially saying, “If this is where you want us to be, you will reveal and make yourself clear to us.

After that we shared with close friends of our, not too long after, we got a text message from when they were in a meeting and shared that the couple who came to stay just so happens to be leaders of YWAM. We knew them for a couple months at this point but we never asked where they were from. Needless to say, we were shocked and it was a key to a door to His Kingdom that we asked for. Who knew?!

Here we are, waiting for more doors to unlock as we see what else will unfold. 

Pray for us as we continue to open these doors. To handle them with delicacy and care as we enter a new culture, new language and new community. Let us be gifted and ready to roll up our sleeves and say, “yes, here I am. Use me.” Let Him be the one to shine His light in whatever ways He can.


Birthing story of Selah Ivy

The last six months of 2016 has been an interesting wrap up for the year and this blog is way overdue for a new post. For right now, I would just love to share several blog posts about this past year to catch up. Because there is just so much to share and not enough time to write all at once. 

This post will be about the birthing story of my daughter and how this season has changed or maybe not changed so much.

Before we got married, one of the things I strongly felt was if I wasn’t ready to have family, I wouldn’t get married. It was important to me to make sure I had the foundation of Jesus set. And the man of my dreams also. When I met Josiah, I knew he was the one, even if it took awhile to finally see. It was less than two months after getting married that we discovered the two pink  lines would change the course of our marriage but for good! We knew we were called to multiply!  

Over the course of the pregnancy, we thought of names. Never would anyone think that name picking is easy. But one name caught my eye: Selah. Josiah didn’t seem super fond of it at first and then one day, I received a confirmation and told Josiah on the way home. The blessing we received was a huge deal for me. A week later, my friend asked me what name we were thinking and I told her and she shared how she was thinking of the name for their possible second daughter and her husband said the name wasn’t for them and agreed it  was for us. Talk about God knowing before we did!

The Hebrew definition means to pause and remember though some may disagree. Her middle name, Ivy means faithfulness and together it means to pause and remember His faithfulness. We believed her identity will help her know who her God is and know His promises in every part of her life. Little did I know, her name would remind us constantly.

The last four months, my husband and I continued staffing for David’s Tent DC on the National Mall and also taking Bible Core Course. While we didn’t take the traditional course load it was still pretty intense. I ended up only doing part of the course because of my stress level. The course ended the first week of May and Selah was due on the 12th. I was slowly taken off the David’s Tent schedule to prepare the arrival of our baby girl. 

That gave us a chance to finish painting her room and setting everything up. A week before her due date my mother in law came to help for three months. To help kind of take our place at the tent and to help with the baby in any way she could. 
A week goes by and no baby but I was 2 cm dilated. We planned for an induction on Friday the 19th. I honestly wanted to avoid an induction and kept hoping she would come before but nothing. So we went in on the 19th at 8pm and they started the induction around midnight. An hour later, contractions began.

I was able to sleep most of the night until about 7 when contractions were getting stronger.I walked in the hall when I could. I couldn’t eat but I tried to sneak a granola bar but threw up later. Laboring and birthing is so much work. By 3pm, I was starting to space out. One of my biggest concern was seizures, I didn’t know how my body would react to giving birth. Spacing out was a sign of exhaustion and I really needed to rest. I had hoped to go natural as much as I could. I did try using laughing gas but for some reason I didn’t like it. 

At 4 pm I decided to use epidural. I was 7 cm at this point. It wasn’t an easy decision because the last time I had a needle stuck in my back I had migraines and headaches that kept me in bed for a week. But the team at Washington Hospital Center was good at explaining and comforting me in my decision. 

After 45 minutes, my legs were pretty numb. They checked to see how far I was and was  10 cm within the hour! I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to push but I was ready to go. They said I could rest for a little but and this gave Josiah a chance to shower and grab dinner. He went with his mom. By 7, I was ready to start pushing so the nurse came in and checked my contractions and told me to start pushing. My water refused to break and I kept pushing hoping it would break but nothing. The sac was slowly coming out and after hour she went to go get the doctor to break my water and to start the birthing process. They came in and started preparing me for the final stage. After breaking the water, I pushed some more. After awhile, my contractions started to slow to five minutes apart. They started getting concerned and just decided that anytime I felt a contraction to go ahead and push. Aft 9:33pm, my 7.6lb 20in, beautiful baby girl came out. I honestly don’t know if she cried but they handed her to me and all I wanted to do was just hold and talk to her. She looked at me with her big eyes and wouldn’t leave my sight. 

We were released in less than 48 hours. And we were so glad to be home. Little did I know that we Selah would be lifeflighted a few days later due to her levels from jaundice, and while most people will say it’s not a big deal, it is when paramedics show up at the door because the pediatrician called and told us to rush her to the ER only to fly to Childrens and spend several days in NICU and not being able to hold your baby or breastfeed. It was traumatizing as a new parent but… I’m thankful that she doesn’t have long term effects and she’s healthy and thriving. Nine months later, she’s determined to walk soon. Has five awkward teeth with a beautiful laugh. To watch her sign, “daddy,” is one of my favorite things.

When she was first sick, it was traumatizing especially with my hormones all out of whack. But when I look at her now, she reminds me of God’s faithfulness, even if it takes awhile or someone needs to remind me. She has been a blessing to us. Challenging to better ourselves and see beyond the independence of what we have become accustomed to. Learning to love beyond our means we have never experienced before. At this moment, Selah is my arms breastfeeding and she’s been sick all day, the things I would do to make her better or better yet, be sick for her. 

I wouldn’t trade anything for those 22 hours I labored with her. I wouldn’t trade watching my husband struggle in the middle of the night going through a bunch of wipes while changing her diapers.  I wouldn’t trade the lack of sleep if it means I get to hold her again for the first time. How is it that God entrusted us to birth such a tiny creation? She was loved before she was made and loved at conception and she was loved the moment we first held her. She is beautifully and wonderfully made. Weaved to His perfection and satisfaction.

To view photos you can check out Instagram: mrslizasmith86

The burden of unforgivness

me and josiah at the monument
Josiah and Liza at the National Mall in Washington, DC in December 2015.

Marriage – it has so much meaning and very difficult to describe. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it has moments of joy and sometimes there’s pain. Every marriage requires work. Taking the time to get to know your spouse, to love and nurture them. To honor and cherish and so much more.

When we come into a place of disagreement, sometimes it can be really hard not to be angry or bitter about the situation. My husband and I have our struggles, like any marriage. My struggle is, I often have a difficult time forgiving when I’ve been hurt. I tend to hold onto that grudge for a few days and sometimes longer.

But then I read this passage from 2 Cor. 2:1-5 and it gave me a new perspective on how to see my marriage and general relationships.

For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

After praying about how to be more forgiving, sometimes you can forgive but it doesn’t mean you have to continue to agree with their behavior but communicate with them how it hurts but also show love by encouraging them and supporting them in hopes that they will take the next step. Never expect them to change because only they can decide this.

The other day, I sat in the car driving with my husband. I forgot what exactly bought up this conversation but then I remember to go ahead and just say, “I forgive you.” The moment I said this, I watched my husband and his expression. I saw him sigh of relief and his shoulders drop down a bit.

It occurred to me at the moment how important it was just to say that. My unforgivness was not helping our marriage. I caught myself feeling remorse not saying this before! My husband needed to hear this in order to feel supported. To forgive means to pardon but not necessarily to overlook.

I realize now that the burden of unforgivness isn’t worth carrying around. It hurts relationships more. When Paul wrote this, he completely understood how important it was. He acknowledged someone was hurting others in the church and needed to be confronted. But he also reminded them to forgive and show love and support through encouragement. People don’t intentionally always hurt others and find themselves in a desperate place when people don’t forgive. It leaves room for the enemy to come in and destroy relationships.

I have personally hurt people more than I desire to admit and when they rejected or ignored me without working to forgive or even encourage, it becomes more of a burden rather than  desiring to better myself. People who forgive, love and encourage are the ones who make me fight another day to try again. Unfrogivness doesn’t have to be a burden and it’s a cycle that CAN be broken.  

Prayer: God, I ask that you continue to speak this truth in me about how to forgive one another. To not hold grudges, anger and bitterness when someone hurts me. I pray that you will continue to show me what it means to love and encourage instead. To support people when they are struggling too. I pray you help me through this cycle of unfrogivness to a point where it’s so easy to forgive others. I pray for your patience as I seek your wisdom. Help me to better understand your character and nature so I can become more and more like you everyday. Forgive me for not being the best I could be but thank you for giving me another chance everyday to try again.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Broken about the creation of life

baby selah at 23 weeks

Why should babies or even life be a political agenda? Why should I be called pro-life or pro-choice?

The truth is… I love life. I love the fact that my daughter is growing in my womb. I love feeling her move and I get nervous when she’s quiet all day. Sometimes I poke my stomach just to make sure she’s alive in there. It’s not just fun but she’s a miracle.

At around six weeks, I went to a clinic to confirm I was pregnant. As soon as the physician sat down with me and told me. She expressed her concern and asked if I was ok with being pregnant and how I felt. I wasn’t struggling to get pregnant or anything, but I was over the moon excited. She then began in explain how women come into the clinic often wishing they weren’t pregnant. That they didn’t have to worry about raising a child. The idea of being excited with a mom who wasn’t, leaves the clinic hesitant until they know for sure the mom is ok with continuing the pregnancy.

I left in pieces. There are women out there who don’t want to have children and leave devastated when they find out they are pregnant. Not only that, but the clinic allows our society to sulk in this way. Having a child is a huge responsibility but it’s a blessing.

A few weeks ago, I had an ultrasound to make sure the baby was growing healthy and we were able to find out if we were having a girl or boy. My husband and I were both excited. But the doctor sat us down and informed us her heart has calcification which could be a marker for Down Syndrome or future heart defects. She then proceeded to encourage us to do genetic counseling, only to make sure we were okay with the idea of continuing with the birth of our baby girl. Many parents find out there is a small issue with the baby and that it would be best not to continue the pregnancy, we were told.

Again, I left not only broken in pieces but I became a little bit angry. Angry that she would even suggest terminating life where I’ve seen the heartbeat. I’ve seen a moving picture on a screen and even have little snapshots of our daughter that I proudly hang on my living room wall. I left in pieces once again as I think about all the problems my daughter might have, but was she worth eliminating from our life because of a little problem?

I questioned: how is it that doctors walk around thinking it’s ok to encourage the elimination of life before before allowing the parents to process? Because the law gives us a limitation as to how much time before we can stop the pregnancy?

I haven’t officially met my daughter as I’m only 25 weeks in but already there is this unspeakable bond I cannot break since the moment I saw the lines appear on the pregnancy tests I took at home.

But what this blog post is not: I’m not pro-life nor am I pro-choice. What I am is… brokenhearted about this issue. I didn’t feel like I could completely celebrate my daughter’s life the first few weeks because I couldn’t understand how society has even allowed women to consider abortion when there are alternative options out there.

The fight isn’t about murdering an unborn child, or judging the doctors. It’s about the broken system that’s left in pieces because it’s come to the conclusion on how we see life.

How do you wrap up a year like 2015?

If people were to ask me to sum up 2015 in one word, it would be purposeful. It was busy but had so much purpose. Here’s a list of a few highlights below:

  1. The ASL DTS 2014-15 crew went to the Philippines. Meanwhile, Josiah and I were dating.
  2. He proposed on Feb. 2, 2015!
  3. I led an outreach to host a 12-hour prayer burn in Rochester, NY with Josiah co-leading.
  4. The YWAM DC ASL crew moved into the Lighthouse in April. (Matthew 6:14)
  5. Josiah and I got married June 27th! We took a road trip to Canada and back to Arizona before heading to DC.
  6. We decided to commit 14-months of volunteering for David’s Tent DC starting 9/11/15-10/8/16. Regardless of rain, snow and even the Pope couldn’t shut us down.
  7. We started events at the Lighthouse with Gallaudet students as well as people from all over the DC, VA and MD area.
  8. We found out we’re going to be parents in September. In December, we found out it’s a baby girl.

I’ve been going over in my head lately about how crazy this year has been. To date, be engaged, married and pregnant in the same year! Most people would have said we were going too fast, but everything felt right. It was a year of fun, love, bonding and growing. I say growing literally with life!

In terms of ministry, it was a year of a lot of awesome changes and challenges. I got to led my first outreach team on a short mission trip to NY which was a great experience. I felt tested in my own leadership capacity as well as seeing others take the lead. Since then, I’ve seen so much more growth in our team.
Being a part of the Lighthouse event has been fun. I’ve met a lot of people over the last few months. People I’ve had the opportunity to know, pray, learn and to laugh a lot.
David’s Tent DC has been a blast, of course, nothing has been without challenges. We had to relocated temporarily when the Pope came to town but it didn’t stop us from worshipping God 24/7. Our team takes the morning watch and we have met tons of people and have witnessed God do amazing things in people’s lives. We both have experienced a little bit of a breakthrough in leading in worship one way or another. Sometimes, just seeing people’s lives be changed by how we worship; speaking in our heart language – American Sign Language.

I have so much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. Just like Jesus who is the past, present and the future. This is what God has been speaking to me. To be still and know that He is God. He’s the one who knows my life. I know that the year 2016 will be crazy, fun and challenging too. I wouldn’t expect less. One thing I don’t think 2016 will be: a year of resolutions to accomplish. Instead, it will be a year of thanksgiving and learning to appreciating the ride. I’d rather enjoy my successes and my failures and learn from them, than to fail and not learn anything.  The year 2016 is not far away from now and I cannot wait to see what God has in store.

May your 2016 be super blessed!

We are all crying for a better King

My husband and I work at David’s Tent in Washington, DC. We love having the opportunity to serve but not only that, but to lead worship.

I find myself engaging in worship as I go through these mind battles about what’s going on in the world. So much conflict, war, shootings, etc. It’s a non-stop battle in my heart as well.

One day I was leading worship and I spontaneously created this song:

The world is a mess and I don’t understand

The people of the nations are all crying for a better King
The people of the nations are all crying for a better King

You are the King of glory
You are the King of glory

The King who brings His Kingdom 
And changes the world

When I sang this, I sang it with brokenness but with hope. The more I hear about what’s happening, I feel as if there is no way to politically correct way to express what I’m thinking or feeling. I never really post anything on social media because either way, there is no right or wrong answer. People say you should post things so people are aware, but how do you make people be aware?

But I will honestly say this, I’m completely heart broken. There isn’t much I can do. I know I can easily next year, go to the polling booth make my vote for the next leader of our nation. Trusting that they will make the best decisions for our country. It’s not because I’m apathetic or pessimistic, but it’s because I know God is the only one who can change the world.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep praying for wisdom and peace.

Peace & Love

Full Surrender

In September, my husband and I began volunteering for the first time for David’s Tent DC with the YWAM DC ASL Community crew. We will be volunteering full-time until Nov. 8, 2016. Already, It’s been challenging, fun and often brings me to deeper revelations about God.

The more I learn about what worship means, the more I feel connected with God. I’ve spent countless hours in the prayer room at Embassy Church in Washington, DC just surrendering my heart to God. Working through my innermost thoughts and emotions that only God knows what to do with. I’ve hosted a few Prayer Burns over the years to provide an environment where others could go to experience God but also to give Him the greatest glory for all He’s done. But in the last few weeks, I’ve found myself being asked questions I never would thought to think of.

I know my Jesus gave everything for me so I could live. I know he died on the cross, so I wouldn’t have to carry the burdens of my sins. Not only didn’t he die but he rose again so he could continue to live in me. The thought of this if often mind-blowing.

But the question posed to me this week was: Would you be willing to give up a part of your identity to experience more of me?

I asked this question to my husband and he had a hard time answering this himself. But the more I think about it, the more I realized that sometimes what we believe is our identity is not what God wants us to experience. My main identity is and should be in Him and Him in me.

My identity includes but is not limited to: a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, Deaf, epileptic, a priest and so much more. No, God is calling me out for so much more than these things listed above. When I go to heaven, will my identity remain the same?

I look at the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. When Abraham’s faith was being deeply tested when God told him to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. Abraham has not made any objection though I imagine he was sadden, especially since he and Sarah had a difficult time conceiving a child to begin with.

As I am pregnant now, I began to see so many stories in the Bible highlighted. But this particular story brings me to wonder, do I fear God as Abraham does? I’m not suggesting to anyone to go off and kill a child as an offering, Jesus already is the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Would I be willing to give up a part of my identity if it meant I could experience God like never before?

Are you willing to surrender yourself if it meant you could be intimate with Jesus?