Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This is how we roll.

Puttin' the Stud Back in Student
Greentree's Student Ministry Fall Kick-Off Theme and Video... enjoy!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From here to there.

Butterflies rush through my stomach with each new day living here in St Louis. New environment, new work place, new people. Nothing wrong with any of it; it’s all new. Not everyone blends in with his or her surroundings instantaneously but we can try! Initiative is a big word that I have been forcing myself to act upon since arriving here. I am beginning to feel like I am a St Louisan with each new day!

Road-tripping here with my sister, Eva, was a lot of fun! We pushed my little Honda up the gigantic mountains of Kentucky and prayed that it didn’t tumble down the other end, we saw the world’s largest tea cup, we searched high and low for the statue of the largest clasping hands (yeah… whatever that means) and visited the famous “Sissy’s Café and Bob’s Barber Shop.” I was thankful to be able to spend that time with my sissy and I think she feels the same way.

After a very intense July, I can finally say that I am starting to become better acquainted with my surroundings. Moving here in July was a seriously big move and risk, if I may say so myself, and in retrospect, everything happened so fast that now I am finally in a place to slow down and process it all.

Upon getting here, I served one week in the office, unpacking, trying not to get lost on my way to the office ... less than 2 miles away... etc. The beginning of that next week, Brad (my partner in crime in the youth office) and I took a busload of kids to camp 8 hours away in Green Lakes, WI. What a way to get to know our middle schoolers! We had an amazing time getting to know each other, building new relationships, and encouraging our kids to be themselves and have a great time. Man, I love my job. That Friday, our wonderful interns were gracious enough to drive me to the airport at 4am in Appleton, WI to catch a flight to DC for a speaking engagement for DC Serve. DC Serve, as always, was an incredible experience and I thank God all the time for blessing me with the opportunity to serve in different ways with this mission project. Talk about back-to-back madness - but every moment was glorifying and beyond satisfying.

As most of you know, amidst all of this summer craziness, my mother has been fighting breast cancer. She had her mastectomy in June and I was thankful I could be with her for a while pre and post-surgery. Since then, we have had some highs and lows with her recovery and we are still waiting to set a date for her chemotherapy. It has been quite a struggle for me being so far away. What does support look like when you live roughly 830 miles away? I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of "100% support." Prayer support is always great, and God never ceases to answer and provide! but there is something to be said about our physical presence with those we love and that is what I struggle with.

In the depths of my heart, I wish I could be sitting beside her, praying over her as she sleeps in hopes that the next morning she would feel a little bit more relief – either emotionally or physically. It breaks my heart to know that she doesn’t feel completely like herself these days. My mother, Daliza, is the strongest most ambitious woman I have ever met. When she sets her heart on something, she does it. Her impact on others is incredible and I admire her so much. I could tell you multiple stories I've heard from her friends and co-workers about how they were so encouraged by her and her spirit, or the funny quirky dances she does around the house while singing to old Gloria Estefan songs, or I could go on and on about how her hugs are the greatest ever. Before I drove away in my jam-packed car, she gave me the biggest most heart-felt hug I have ever received in my life. She whispered the sweetest words in my ear; that’s another things she does – despite her pain and discomfort, she takes the time to encourage me. My mom stoops down to make me great, and does not ask for anything in return (Psalm 18:30-36..."You stoop down to make me great.")

I miss my family greatly. The first couple of weeks settling into St Louis, I fought God a little bit. I allowed the pain in my heart, the separation from those that I love, begin to create a bit of a divide between God and I.

On August 1st in “My Utmost for His Highest,” Chambers brought me back to the beautiful reality of the great commission…

He comes where He commands us to leave.
"When Jesus had made an end of commanding his disciples, he departed thence to teach and to
preach in their cities." ”
Matthew 11:1

If when God said "Go," you stayed because you were so concerned about your people at home, you robbed them of the teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ Himself. When you obeyed and left all consequences to God, the Lord went into your city to teach; as long as you would not obey, you were in the way. Watch where you begin to debate and to put what you call duty in competition with your Lord's commands. "I know He told me to go, but my duty was here;" that means you do not believe that Jesus means what He says

To solidify things, the Wailin’ Jennys sing it perfectly in the song, “You Are Here.” Check this out… may your ears be pleased. ☺

This flash, this slap, this raw reality was surprising to me but so incredibly necessary at that moment. I needed to hear someone say that to me: God equips those who He calls. He has me here for a reason and I cannot regret leaving my home. God is completely in control and He's got it covered. All I can do is hope and pray that what I offer my family is enough. I do pray that I can love them well even at a distance; not just my family, but also friends and students I've developed relationships with.

God has been so good to me this August in teaching me this lesson. It has been incredible to see His provision and His ability to meet me wherever I am no matter what the circumstance. Conversations and interactions with others become more and more relevant as God uses them to communicate His love and His provisional comfort for me while I am here. Lesson learned: I cannot physically be here and there all at once, but I can do my best to love others who are here and there. I can absolutely offer support and encouragement from here and send it there… with God’s help; all things are possible, right?

Love, from here to there,

Monday, August 1, 2011

My new staff bio...

Elisa Fernandez
Co-Director of Student Ministries at Greentree Community Church in St Louis, MO
Staff Bio

I grew up in the Washington, DC area in Northern VA. I have an older sister, two half brothers and two step sisters. Both sets of parents are re-married and I enjoy spending time with all of them!

High School
Fairfax High School in Fairfax, VA.

I was quite the musical girl growing up from choirs to musicals to a cappella groups up until my college years. With that being said, some of my biggest influences were Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, and *NSYNC, of course! I think that as of now, I realize that my mother is a huge influence in my life – she is incredibly strong, a hard worker, personable, and hilarious. I look up to her a lot. I have been blessed with amazing people in my life including my dearest and closest friends from college and post-college who have influenced and encouraged me in one way or another.

Epic Moments
I love good stories and I have far too many of them. Please ask me – and I am more than happy to share with you! Some epic moments I have had mostly take place on traveling adventures with friends and family. The Lord has blessed me with many opportunities to see different parts of the country and the world, and in addition to that, many crazy situations to take part in!

When I grow up, I want to be…
I would love to own a bed a breakfast. So, I guess, an Inn Keeper? I just want to meet people, talk, have fun, and cook them breakfast.

Best Invention
Tom’s Shoes. The shoes and the organization combined.

Favorite Books
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Cold Mountain, anything by Tim Keller, Gospel of John, and Amelia Bedelia.

Favorite Movies
V for Vendetta, Forest Gump, Soul Surfer, Pride and Prejudice, Never Say Never (Beiber documentary…), Cold Mountain, most all James Bond movies, all of the Rocky films (accept the newest one), Breakfast Club, and so many more. I like movies.

Favorite TV Shows
Gilmore Girls, Glee, Matlock, Degrassi

Fear Factors
I fear losing an eye every day of my life. I face eye threats at least once a day – I don’t know why!

Fingernails on a Chalkboard
Seeing little kids attached to a leash.

Spare Time
I enjoy anything outdoors: hiking, biking, running, camping, or trying anything new! I love to sing and I am always checking out new music – popular or independent stuff. I also love seeing good plays and music performances. I enjoy reading but I am way too social… I can’t sit too long without getting antsy!

Personal Motto or Favorite Quote
“God doesn’t want something from us. He simply wants us.” –C.S. Lewis

If I were a car, I would be a…
Yellow smart car.

To live a full life and discover all of the amazing things God has so creatively put together. I am passionate about so many things and I enjoy so many things – but above all, so much interests me because I see how God has crafted it all in His own special way.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We want stories.

Hey there! It has been a while... I'm sorry but I'm not sorry. It has been an incredibly busy 6ish months of my life and I am more than happy to update you all but truly, it would take forever and I must try to do this in shifts if it is possible. Tonight, I'd like to share major highlights of the past half-year in snipettes and then from there, encourage the rest of the story in blogs to come.

-service -humility -pride -mentorship -friendships -hard stuff -psalms -discipleship -my sister -my mother -what is Shalom anyway? -transition -people...just people
-stories -implicated -the green enters greentree

As you all know, although I am not the best writer on this OTHER side of the Mississippi (p.s. I now currently reside in St Louis, MO) I do enjoy it none-the-less. It helps me to process the many things running through my ADD mind day in and day out; it offers me a chance to clearly think things through, share it with friends and family in hopes that people may see the things I see - whether they like it or not.

After taking Steve Garber's class last spring one major thing I learned about it this: there is something truly remarkable and life-impacting about the human story. We all want it, need it, crave it, desire it, and find great fulfillment from it. How often are we listening to the stories of others and allowing it to affect us? There is something about the human story that helps us to see more clearly: ourselves, each other, and God. We remember far more stories than we do lesson on physics and chemistry... I'm just sayin'...

Just yesterday, upon our arrival to St Louis and I, my sister Eva and I wanted to visit my wonderful godmother Norma. While meeting with her and enjoying a scrumptious homemade milanese meal, she wanted to introduce us to two of her friends: Blanca and Rosa. Blanca did not know much english but no language was needed to know exactly how much she cared for us from afar. Norma has been a part of our family for so long and loves to share her family with her friends. It was lovely to meet her friends who have heard all about us over the past year: "stranger" would be the exact opposite word that they would use to describe us. After meeting Blanca and her grandchild and great-grandchild via picture gallery in her humble home, we walked over to see Rosa.

This amazingly talented seamstress has been such a good friend to Norma and it is easy to see how well Norma has loved her friend back. She first offered us watermelon and proceeded to extend her wishes and condolences for my mother who currently is recovering from breast cancer and most recently, a mastectomy. A woman who only knows us through story had the heart to cry and pray for our mother. Makes me weak to think about it - my heart melted. She proceeded to share with us her story of visiting her son and his newborn, leaving Iran for what she thought was a month, and due to government tension and conflicts back home, she was not allowed to return to Iran. She lost everything and everyone she loved back home and sacrificed it all to help her son take care of his children. This happened 26 years ago and she continues to weep over the loss of the life she once had.

When leaving my super awesome godmother; after kisses, hugs, and guarantees of a return visit, I began to think about how much I have gained and missed this past year. I wish I knew Rosa's story earlier so that I could love and support her. I wish that the last few times Norma visited DC that I wasn't so incredibly busy. I thought about Blanca and what a sweet tender heart she has for her grandchildren - even though there is a huge language barrier between them, she loves them so deeply. I do not regret this year, but as I described to Eva as we were on this road trip, I feel like I am recovering from this past fellows year. I am waking up to these realizations that I in fact missed A LOT and I am now trying to regain my footing.

I want to hear more stories. I am becoming weary of my own right now and I want to hear about others. My story is just unfolding now... I've shared it all year - I am ready for yours.

Granted, a million amazing things happened this year. But where there is gain, there is also loss. "With great power comes great responsibility" rings true the more and more I think about it. With the ability to do much, learn much, experience much, the more we take on a responsibility to also care for these things, invest in these things, and share these things with others. I am not sure if that makes sense to you right now, but it is sure looking good on my end. We are a part of a greater story and each individual story means something in the grand scheme of things. As my "little sister" and mentee recently tweeted:

Everyone has a story. Ask them about it...

That's about all for the night. Just some thoughts that I cannot shake at the moment. Stay in touch - I know I will try.

Until next time....


Tuesday, July 5, 2011



It's been a while.

Update on life soon to come!