Sunday, June 8, 2014

This is the way of the Lord, walk in it.

Monday night, 6:30-9pm at East End Market, we're having a "see you soon" party!  Join us for some dessert and so we can hug you! Info here.

Driving home from celebrating my best friends 30th birthday, the tears were slowly falling...again.  It hit me like a ton of bricks that a lot of celebrations are going to happen here and 800 miles will separate me from them.  

"This is the way of the Lord, walk in it," he whispered.

Approximately 413 times already I’ve tried to put my thoughts into writing.  It’s been hard to think beyond the sadness that my heart feels in leaving everything I’ve loved so much in Orlando for the last year.  I've grieved the last few months in this season of life because of the family dynamic I have, friends I’ve been blessed with, the jobs I love, and the desires I had for my preschooler to be on the Circle campus this year.  To say that this is going to be hard, falls hundreds of tears short.

With all that being said, I will add that following Jesus has never been easy, it hurts and costs you everything.  I don't want to go but  I don’t want to stay.  Because in staying in Orlando, I would be choosing to be in disobedience to the Lord and His plan for my family for at least the next 3 years.  I’d like to think I could ignore this truth, but since Kentucky is not surrounded by water, and being swallowed by a whale most likely wouldn’t happen, I’d prefer not to find out what He would use to get my attention.  Ha!  I’m terrified of tornadoes.  Does Kentucky have those?  Yikes.

Packing has been beyond exhausting. I’ve tried to go through every box to see what I’ve been keeping (Hi.  I’m Lis and a hoarder apparently) and what I need to…wait for it, get rid of.  It has also been exciting-I had to resist the urge to get super excited when all my Christmas stuff came out of the attic!  It’s not to soon to decorate, right?!  Christmas in June?  I like the sound of that!

It’s also been scary.  Apparently the bank thinks we’re grown ups because they’re letting us buy a house and that my friends, makes me want to poop a little.  But! since it’s mine, I can paint a purple wall if I want to, or put a 20 foot blow up snow man in the front yard.  (I won’t…do both.  All bets are off on anything to do with Christmas.)

I’m not going to pretend that I know the reason(s) we are going to Kentucky.  It’s beyond Tim’s training for his career, I do know that.  I do know that it will be home for the next 3 years.  I don’t know what is waiting for us there.  I don’t know what we would miss if we didn’t go.  I’m certain we will know that at the end of 3 years.  Maybe for a relationship, maybe for another baby, maybe we will find the ministry we will devote time and money to, maybe we will foster a child that becomes ours, maybe for my girls to enjoy a white Christmas, maybe because the book that He’s told me to write for the last 4 years needs to be written!  It will be exciting to look back and be able to say, “thats why.  Maybe that.  Perhaps that.  Without a doubt that”

We will be ok.  The girls will be ok.  I will be ok.  Orlando will always be our sweet spot, but there is nothing like home, and home is where Tim, Gracie and Ansley are.  Home will be on Ellis Way (with the 20 foot snowman!)  I won’t cry forever.  Some days will be harder than others, sometimes I will have to get off Facebook because seeing the pictures of everyone together will be too much, sometimes I’ll just have to go to Trader Joe’s and have a pity party, but I will be ok.  

I’m choosing to not say “good-bye”.  “See you soon, or catch you on FaceTime is much easier”.  If I could kiss the inventor of that dang program, I would.  Maybe that’s why they made the emoji icons.

We’re venturing into new territory and we’d love your prayers.  There are going to be a lot of adjustments, new normals and exciting times ahead.  At the end of the day, the only place I want to be is in the middle of His will.  So as much as I hate this, T-minus three sleeps until we head North.  

If only following Jesus wasn’t so hard.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Finish line but another starting line.

Have you ever heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit?  Have you ever without a doubt known or pretended to not know that it was really Him and he was speaking to you?

On January 28, 2014 a baby was born that changed me.  "You didn't have a baby on January 28th, Lis, how did a baby that was not your change you?"  I'm so glad you asked.  Ha.

Olivia June Danae Woodall was born to my cousin Dave and his precious wife, Danae.  What we know now is not what we knew on that day in January.  Olivia was sent to this earth on a mission and her mission took 13 days.  I have been on this earth for approximately 10,951 days and I wish I could tell you my mission was as clear as hers.  Most days I look like I don't own a shower, am attempting the gothic look with the dark circles under my eyes and have stains on the front of my clothes from whatever my children were eating that day.  Probably something super healthy like Doritos.  While I do believe motherhood is a beautiful thing, it's not always attractive.  Or maybe I am the only one.

Scripture talks about seasons in Ecclesiastes 3.  There are four seasons in a year.. unless you live in Florida and then there is only one and a half.  Summer.  And half of everything else.  The season I am in is about to change.  Again.

I like love Summer.  I like love warm.  I like love being comfortable. I like love my flip flops.  I like love Orlando, Florida.  I do not like love the idea of having to move away from all those things and walk into a new territory.  I don't want to move to Kentucky.  Not even a little bit.  But what I do want more than the very breath I take is to fulfill my purpose and mission on this earth.  And that involves moving to Kentucky.  I want to be like Olivia.  I want to hear what she heard after 13 days.  "Well done!"

Thinking about Olivia and her life, I am so thankful she didn't know pain like we know it.  I am so thankful she doesn't know the heart ache that her mom and dad will live with everyday for the rest of their life.  I am thankful she doesn't know what hurt feelings are, what a scraped knee feels like or how terrible it is to be little and have to go to bed when the sun is still out.  Instead she only knows Jesus.  Only knows perfection.  Only knows love like we can not even begin to fathom.

Olivia changed me because that was her mission.

The last 4 years have been all about change.  Big changes.  Gut wrenching changes.  Hard changes.  Wonderful changes.  Super exciting changes.  Scary changes.

Olivia put things in perspective for me like most things can't.  Pain will do that.  I think its safe to say that I have never prayed for someone more in 13 days than I did for Dave, Danae, Oscar, Wells and Olivia.  Never did I beg for a miracle like I did.  And in the end, God did it.  He healed her.  But not in the way I was asking.

So what do you do Lis, when after praying for something (residency in Orlando) long and hard (4 years), your answer is not what you want to hear?  I quiet myself to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit and I just listen.  And I wait.  

Dave and Danae would tell you that for whatever reason, God has a purpose and a plan for all of this, and it may not make since until we get to heaven.

I will tell you that I don't understand the purpose and plan of moving to Kentucky, but I think that at the end of the 3 years of residency, we will.  I think we will be able to look back and say confidently, THIS is why we moved here, and if we didn't come, we would have missed this.  That is what I am hoping to say at the finish line.  Today though, I am at the starting line and can say that I am sure going to miss all this.  A lot.

Not my will, but yours be done, Father.  And squeeze that sweet baby for me.  We miss her here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Match

Today was the residency match.  It made final what we already knew.  We are once again packing everything in a U-Haul and moving.  This time in the opposite direction of Miami.  We're headed North.  Way North.  To Louisville, Kentucky.

It was Tim's top pick of a Residency Program, and the best one that offers the training he desires.  It really is everything we prayed for…except it's in Kentucky.

There is no doubt in my mind that this isn't the place the Lord hand picked for my family to be, but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't very, very sad to leave Orlando.  Not because of just family and friends, but because of Gracie's school, not being able to enroll her at Circle for Pre-K, my bible study group, the WARM weather and everything we enjoy here.  And yet, I am so thankful we have a great program to go to.  Many people didn't get the programs they were hoping for, or one at all.  

There is still a lot to process and I am still in denial about us really leaving.  But today, it was more final.

I'm excited to see what kind of Doctor Tim starts out as and then what 3 years of great training will do for him.

Let's pray this super cold winter was only this year.  I need flip flops in my life.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Olivia June Danae Woodall

Dear Olivia,

Your momma and daddy had to do some hard things the last couple of days, did you know?  Did you know that while February 10th was the best day of your life, it will probably go down in history as the hardest in theirs?  You surprised the world with your entrance into our hearts and they will never be the same.  You did that, little one.  

I've always thought that I wanted to be like your mom when I grew up.  Her faith inspires me, her heart encourages me, and her authenticity is a breath of fresh air.  She trusts the God you're playing with so much, that she gave you back to Him the first minutes of your life.  When things were uncertain and scary, she did the hardest thing us momma's can do. She trusted His heart when she couldn't trace His hand.  She didn't know what the days would hold, but she begged for your life and healing because she wanted to love you here.  

You came as a fighter, and you fought for the glory of the Creator who crafted you in His image. Nothing about you was a mistake, Olivia.    Nothing about the 13 days you were here surprised the Lord although it took our breath away.

You may have only weighed 5 pounds but you had weight in this world.  You were a fiery arrow, on a mission to change the Woodall tribe.  And sweet girl, you did.  Friends and family flew in to see you, pray over you, and steal some snuggles.   You have two superhero brothers and you, sweet girl, are a super hero too.

I wish more than anything I can say I got to look into your beautiful eyes, snuggle your beautiful self and pray for you in person, but know this.  You are loved.  Deeply.  Completely.  Eternally.  

My baby Hope was in Heaven waiting at the gates for you, I just know she was.  And it brings my heart comfort to know you are best of buddies, having tea parties and playing dress up.  Your mommy and daddy will be ok.  They ache.  They sob.  They long for you but that just means one thing.  They loved you deeply.  You were created by God for Heaven, and although your 13 days were much to short, I am so thankful He let us borrow you for those days.  

I wish more than anything that I could honor you on Friday but just know, you've changed me.  

I love you Olivia June Danae Woodall.  You are in our hearts forever.
Aunt Lis

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ansley Joy

My precious girl is here, and we're in total love with her.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013



You are Mary Magdalene.

The first person to see Jesus alive.

It is the most amazing moment in all of history.  The Savior is Risen.  Alive.

With Easter around the corner, I just wanted to remind you--He is Alive.  Risen.  Risen Indeed.

Oh, thank you Jesus!!

This is my new(est) favorite song!

Friday, February 8, 2013

2013 is going to be a good year!

2012 is over, and now so is January 2013.  At times, it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around how fast time goes by - and then there are times that I feel like it just drags on.  Am I the only one?

It’s no secret that 2012 started extremely sad and heavy hearted for us.  “Happy New Year” turned into a pre-op appointment with a D&C scheduled for the next morning.  

Those were not resolutions that I had penned in December. But ultimately, my Creator did, and I am thankful He knows what is best. Even on the most painful of days.

The last three years have been nothing but full on growth for my heart and my trust in the Lord.  Moving from my comfort zone to Miami with a 5 month in tow was not something I wanted to do. I was convinced it was going to ruin my life, my marriage, and my heart.  Boy, how wrong I was.  

Moving has since proven to be the best thing for our marriage, my heart, and our life.  I fully know and understand what scripture talks about when it says, you should leave your father and mother and be one with your spouse.  In many ways I had. But, in ways I didn’t realize were even possible, we have grown together in our move to Miami.  It was me, Tim, and Gracie.  Because she was only 5 months old, all she provided was sleepless nights, a momma's heart bursting with love, and the cutest chubbies to pinch.

I am confident that this is why I didn’t have any close friends here for the first year.  God wanted Tim and I to rely only on each other and stick like glue.  Now, looking back, I am glad that the stickiness was His plan.  I can’t imagine where we could be with the stresses that have happened since that first year here.  And I thought that was hard, HA!

We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves pregnant in October with a baby due the day Tim took his first set of Boards.  Then the excitement turned to pure nightmare.  I started erasing the weeks leading up to my due date from the calendar and, well... just throw the whole calendar out because it was written in pen, “DUE DATE!” 

In the days following the news that we would not hold that little girl this side of heaven, I was convinced that this right here was going to destroy my heart.  How could good come from such pain? How could something really hurt this bad? 

Let me just also say, I am absolutely convinced that if you have not walked this road, you can. not. know. the. pain. I won’t pretend I know the pain of a mother burying her new born, or 5 year old from cancer - but it is a taste, a taste I never desire to experience again.  


God, in His amazing love, faithfulness, and grace, showed up in those darkest of days and carried me.  Met me  at my worst... in my tears and angry fits of rage. With tears in His eyes, He simply whispered, trust meI know... But trust me.

Some days I did that a lot better than others. And other days, well, I just told Him I couldn’t.  And  yet, He still met me.  Never left and just kept whispering, trust me, Lis.  This will be good.

To think about my miscarriage and  a blessing is something I still can’t utter... but on the other side, the growth that came from it has been good.  So good.  Such a blessing.  I am convinced that suffering takes you to a place where nothing else can. And, if you let it, fertile ground is laid for the Lord to sew seeds that can turn into beautiful, strong Redwoods.  

I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t realize the growth until December 16, 2012.  Two days after the year anniversary of that day.  I was looking at a pregnancy test turn from one pink line to two.  And while I tried to catch my breath, a million thoughts ran wild in my head.  Oh God, thank you.  Thank you for this.  Thank you that for this split second, you and I are the only ones that know.  Thank you, thank you.  

And then a strange thought that I was not expecting...And Lord, if it brings you glory, you can have this one too.  

Those thoughts came and went as I turned to go find Tim.  I am pretty sure I walked around in shock for a few hours.  No, I know I did.

It began a constant and daily practice to not let Satan steal my joy, cause I tend to be fearful and anxious about EVERYTHING.  A lot of days, I cry all the time. (holy pregnancy hormones that I forgot about!)  Other days I throw up all the time.  And still others I find myself saying, Thank you God.  But do what brings you glory.  Even if that means... well, you know.

THAT is how I know there has been growth. The very thing that has caused my heart the GREATEST pain to date, has brought the Father glory and brought me to a place of total surrender of my wants and desires.   These children are His, and I am just a vessel to get them here, raise them to be warriors, and teach them how to be sold out for Him.

Today, we are thrilled to report that I am 12 weeks! We have had a sonogram where my sweet sisters that went with me to the hospital to see no heart beat, were able to come and see a very strong heart beat.  It was so healing to my heart to replace that old memory with a new one.   Today, I had my first pre natal appointment and was able to hear the heart beat through the doppler.  Oh what a glorious sound! 

We would love and appreciate your prayers as we walk out the next several months.  A lot of big changes are coming for Team Graeser in 2013, including a move, a Doctor on externships all over the country, and a baby joining our tribe in August (While Dr. daddy is scheduled to be in Texas!)

  God is good, and we are so thankful for how He already knows all the details that make me want to have an anxiety attack.  Even in all the changes, I can still sense His calm whisper... It will be good, Lis.  Trust me.