How deep the Father’s love.

img_2607In this busy season of life, there’s one thing I have too much time for. Reflection. Each and everyday, I drive 30 minutes to where I student teach. This is ample time to reflect on life, feel overwhelmed about school, and focus too much on the fact that I’ll never measure up to the standards of the world. As a result, most mornings, I hate the drive. Not only does it cause anxiety, but 6 am wake-ups, spending way too much on gas, and overall weariness are a part of my regular routine. I grumble and complain way too much about this situation. One day, though, as I was working my way down this one particular stretch of road I’d seen a million times, my tune began to change.

My eyes began to see the glory in creation and I sat in awe thinking about God’s power. He created everything around me. He created the Earth and made it so that the seasons change. He created powerful oceans and majestic mountains. And then, He decided to create me.

He didn’t need me.

He didn’t have to make me.

He wanted to create me.

When He created me, He allowed me the opportunity to step into His plan and into His mission. He wanted me to love Him and seek Him first in everything. And He wanted me to know the depth of His love for me.

This reminds me of the song,”How Deep the Father’s Love,” and I think about how often I do not understand how deep His love really is for me. I sing the words at church, but pass over the significance of the cross, when Christ showed exactly how deep His love for me is. It’s endless. How can I expect to show Christ’s love to others when I don’t fully understand and step into that love myself? I think a lot of this stems from not understanding the significance of the cross and forgiveness.

Growing up in the Church, I was taught from a young age that Jesus died on a cross for me but I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the significance. In fact, up until a year ago, I had no idea what walking in the reality of the cross and forgiveness meant. I wasn’t aware of how much sin I actually had in my life because of this perspective. I was blind to my sin because I thought of myself as a good person. However, I also felt distant from God. If I thought my sin wasn’t too bad, then why did I feel like something was separating me from God?

I’ve had forgiveness explained to me many different ways over the years. The one that stuck out to me was an illustration of a bicycle. As we sin, we need to acknowledge, repent, and walk in the forgiveness of the cross, just like peddling on a bicycle. It’s a constant, repetitive motion that gets easier the more you do it. I was not walking in repentance and forgiveness. My heart was hardened towards my sin and it was building up a wall in my heart. When I finally understood the power of repentance, I started asking God to make me aware of my sin. My seemingly “sinless” life was so broken. I felt the crushing weight of my sin but then something amazing happened: I felt the overwhelming freedom of forgiveness. I finally knew what it meant to walk in forgiveness and experience the depths of God’s love for me.

Fast-forward to my long drive that one wintry morning. I felt awakened again by the sight of creation to the fact that Jesus loved me enough to create to me, knowing  full well that His son would have to die to save me. What an awesome God we get to serve! He chooses us to step into His plan. He doesn’t need us but He will use us if we just say yes.

How are you using your time for the Lord? I realized that the time I spent driving each morning could be a time to reflect on what the Lord is doing in my life, a time to worship my Creator, and to pray. Now, when my alarm goes off in the morning, I am no longer filled with dread (okay a little, no one likes getting up a six!) but with excitement for what the Lord is going to do that day. I get to spend that time worshiping Him and reflecting on what He has done and is doing.

Today Jesus, I thank you for loving me so that I may walk in forgiveness and truth!

Lizzie

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A Gilmore Girls connection.

IMG_2671.JPGOne of my absolute favorite shows is Gilmore Girls. My roommate introduced me to it last year and I couldn’t watch it fast enough. I love the relationship that Lorelai has with Rory. They’re more like each other’s best friends than mother and daughter and they relate to each other so well. They share in each other’s ups and downs, have the same interests and do everything together. They love unconditionally, not expecting anything in return. What’s not to love?

Then there’s Lorelai’s and Emily’s relationship. I hate Lorelai’s relationship with Emily because it’s built on conditions, miscommunications, and work. A lot of work. Lorelai puts off her relationship with her mother because it always costs something and she must work hard to maintain it. Lost yet? Hold on, I’m getting somewhere.

During a season of drought in which I felt very distant from the Lord, I realized (courtesy of my small group leader) that my relationship with Christ mirrored Lorelai and Emily’s more often than Lorelai and Rory’s and that saddened me. I often viewed my relationship with Jesus as a lot of work. I needed read my Bible every day, pray often, mentor others, go to church, and try not to sin. If I did more for Christ, then He would love me more. This mindset was so draining. I found my worth coming from what I did rather than who I was loved by. When I messed up, I would feel like a failure because I just couldn’t get it right. It frustrated me. There were times when I felt so distant from God, even though I was doing so many “right” things. I felt defeated.

I desperately wanted my relationship with Christ to be as effortless as Rory and Lorelai’s but I didn’t know how to fix it. I searched for answers but came back to where I was empty handed.

Then one day, I was listening to worship music in my dorm room and everything changed. In one moment, I went from feeling distant from God to feeling the closest I had ever felt to him. I felt immense joy and happiness. But I didn’t do anything. How is it that I had worked so hard in the past to experience closeness with Christ but in a moment I had done nothing, I experienced what I had been searching for for months? That’s the truth about God’s love. He doesn’t expect anything from us but asks us to fully step into His presence and plan. The moments where I have felt closest to God have stemmed from me being at my lowest and therefore causing me to surrender all to Him.

Knowing this takes the pressure off. Although I want to be an active Christian who reads her Bible daily, brings others into my life to mentor, go to church, and do everything I can for Jesus, my salvation is not contingent on do these things. My surrender of idols, future plans, daily struggles and ultimately whole life to Christ is what God wants. He wants me. All of me, the good and the bad. But so often, I find this hard to do, even knowing the end result.

If I have felt what it’s like to surrender to Christ, then why am I so hesitant to do so? I think for me, it boils down to control. I want to control who my friends are, how I spend my money, what job I take, and my plan for my life. The thought of giving up control of those things scares the heck out of me. I feel safer living inside of my comfort zone, not surrendering control because I’m afraid of what God might ask me to do. But leaning into His plan shows me a greater view of life, one where I am stretched and tried but reliant on Him. Each little step of faith has brought me to the edge of His plan for my life, one that I’m still currently wrestling through. I’m about to graduate college but still have no clue where I want He wants me to be and what He wants me to do. God isn’t asking me to have everything figured out but He is asking me to step out in faith into His plan.

So just as Rory has an amazing trust in Lorelai that she will come through, so I will have that kind of trust in Christ. I can rest in His plan, His timing, and His control and wipe the word fear from my vocabulary. This is where God wants me. He doesn’t want me to be focused on all the things that I can do for Him as part of my salvation, He wants me to rest in His presence and surrender to His plan.

And that’s the best place to be.

I hope you have courage to step out in faith today.

Lizzie

P.S. The picture is actually from a pop-up Luke’s dinner that I visited! Excuse me while I go fangirl.

What I’ve learned (and am still learning) from this season of singleness.

 

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I’ve spent hours dreaming about meeting and falling in love with “the one” and guess what?

I still haven’t.

I thought that by this time in my life, I’d be in a serious relationship, leading towards marriage. But here I sit, coasting towards nearly two years of singleness. I’ve struggled with questioning this part of God’s plan for my life. My roommate often jokes that whoever I marry needs to be a crazy romantic because that’s how I’m wired, and she’s not wrong. But while I sit moping, watching Hallmark channel movies, and reading Nicholas Sparks on the weekends, I’m reminded of all that has happened. I’ve learned so much in this season of singleness.

And yeah, it’s only a season.

I’ve learned that my worth is rooted in Christ. I know, it’s so cliché but I’ve had to remind myself of this day after day. The only place I can truly have worth and confidence is resting in God’s grace. I am confident in the woman that God created me to be because He created me.

I’ve learned that I can do so much for Christ in this season of singleness. That’s not to say that I can’t change the world married, but I do have much more freedom to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth. One day I hope that the man I marry has the same desire to chase after Christ with reckless abandon. I hope that he will carry out the call of the great commission right alongside me, going into all the nations. But in the meantime, it’s exciting not to have anything tying me down. I can be rootless in where I live, but fully rooted in Christ.

I’ve learned that Jesus is enough. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. For so long I’ve bought into the lie that I need someone to love me here on earth, that Jesus wasn’t enough. And it caused so much pain. I would become obsessed with guys and any glimmer of hope in a relationship would cause me to plunge deeper into this obsession. I became so emotionally entangled in this heart idol and it caused heartache. But God was always waiting, with open arms, for me to turn my heart back to Him. His love is constant. His love is unfailing and before I start quoting 1 Corinthians 13, He is ultimately all I need. God has placed in me an innate desire to be a wife and a mother. I trust that He will provide.

“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

And so, I keep pushing forward, delighting in the Lord, trusting that He will provide for the desires in my heart. It might not be in the way that I had planned for my life but He won’t desert me.

I’ve learned to love myself. I know, another cliché response, but it’s so true! Learning to love who you are is one of the hardest tasks you can be faced with but if God created us in His image, then how can we criticize what He has created? If I have confidence rooted in Christ, then I can learn to love myself, and not wish that I was different. It has taken time (and a lot of prayer!) to come to this point, but truly loving who I am in Christ has been one of the biggest blessings that has come out of this season of singleness.

I’ve learned to be patient. In my pursuit to honor God, I have chosen to save sex for marriage and it has been hard. But through this season of singleness, God has shown me how to be patient and how to wait. When I eventually do enter that serious relationship that will lead to marriage, I will have learned how to be patient and to wait. Although it still probably won’t be easy.

I’ve learned to trust. I am the least likely person to place my trust in something other than myself. It’s hard for me to trust when my best friend drives me around. It’s hard for me to trust that groups members in a project will complete their work on time. And it’s definitely hard for me to trust that God’s plan is better than I could ever imagine. Singleness has taught me to trust that God will provide for my every need, even if it’s not in the way I envisioned. Like the verse below says, I pray that as I trust, my heart may be filled with joy and peace and overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I’ve learned to be content. Man, this is the toughest lesson that I’ve had to learn. I have so many hopes and dreams for the future that it’s hard for me be content with where I’m at. I struggle to be completely content because there are so many temptations and lies that tell me I deserve more than what I have now. So many times, I have believed the lie that my life would be better off with whatever material things that I thought I needed. But I’ve found out this is not true. I continue to struggle daily with being content in my singleness but I’ve realized that this is a season that I should cherish, one that will allow me to pick up my life and move wherever the Lord calls me, to be free to pursue after the Lord with all my heart and never look back.

So, I’m not going to end with final thoughts of encouragement or glimmers of hope. I know that if you’re single, you’ve already been told a thousand times what a catch you are and how this will not last forever. But I do want to tell you to take heart and think of all the things that you can do during this season. Make a list and actually live out those things. Find joy in doing life with the Lord and gratefulness that you get the chance to walk through this season with Him by your side.

I hope today you feel loved!

Lizzie

Vulnerability is scary

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I’ve been learning just how hard it is to be vulnerable. I’m finding it difficult to even publish my thoughts, let alone be vulnerable with real people in my life. How can we go from sharing everything as kids to putting up an impenetrable wall as adults?

My life is centered around working with kids and as a teacher, I have heard it all. I love that kids are so honest that it hurts. They seem to totally get this vulnerability thing. So, what does this have to do with you and me?

Well, if I am to live in a community of Christ centered believers, then I should be able to get past the “I’m good” response when someone asks me how it’s going. I want to be honest in my answers so they reflect trust and vulnerability to the people that I call my brothers and sisters in Christ.

There’ve been times when I have been brutally honest with how I’m doing and most people don’t know how to handle those responses. I’ve seen people stammer to try and find the right words to fill the void and look nervous because our interaction has become heart-level.

Why is it, as adults, we fear the hard stuff?

Why do we not want to let people in on how we are really feeling?

And why is it so hard to let people in?

I had the opportunity to spend one of my summers in a rich, Christ-centered community. Going into that summer, I thought that I was a vulnerable person. I thought that I had opened myself up to people before. But that first night as I tried share my life story, the good and bad, I tensed up. I couldn’t bring myself to fully enter into the kind of vulnerability I needed.

And this didn’t go away overnight.

It took me weeks to open up to a handful of people but as I saw friends begin to enter into the kind of vulnerability I only dreamed of, I saw the impact being vulnerable could have.

And I loved it.

My friends no longer shouldered the burden of hardship completely on their own. The shared it.

At the end of summer, I saw myself be open with people in a way I could never understand or imagine. One night, I remember publicly confessing, in front of eighty other people, sin I was living in and summoned the courage to ask forgiveness. Another night, I remember standing in front of those same friends, shaking as I shared the pain that I was going through and saw how I could lean into community.

How can you step into vulnerability?

I’m not perfect at it and I often find myself reverting to surface-level responses but I want to try and live in the light that He offers.

Jesus, teach me to be vulnerable.

Lizzie

The first post. Like ever.

tahoe-1~This has been a long time coming~

Life is a messy, wonderful journey.

I would love it if my life could be as spectacular and perfect as the pictures I scroll past on Instagram and Pinterest, but the opposite is true. In a good way. Instead, life is messy, full of make or break moments that have shaped who I am.

Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed, and most importantly, not perfect.

There have been numerous times when I have scrolled through pages and pages of fashion tips, life advice, and home décor, wishing that even just a sliver of my life could measure up to those perfect images. But that’s not truth. It’s far from it.

How many hours have I spent thinking any less of myself than what my Heavenly Father wants, because of what I choose to spend time on? It saddens me to think that I have considered who God created me to be anything less than perfect. While I have been in search of the “best” life, God has been offering me the abundant life. He has been offering it to me with relentless pursuit.

And I finally decided to say yes.

I’ve tasted what it means to live the life that God has offered me, to live fully surrendered to the Spirit.

And I never want to go back.

There have been days that I’ve woken up, exhausted, dreading the work I had before me but somehow, I still had butterflies in my stomach, thinking about what God was going to do that day. There is gratitude and joy in the mundane when you are alive in Christ. There is no expectation to be perfect and to live a perfect life, but to be okay with the place that God has put me in, being content in the moment.

When trouble comes, my hope is that my identity would be so deeply rooted in Christ that my world does would not crumble around me, that I would not be consumed by the things that will fade but rather by the things that are everlasting.

But even if my world does start to fall apart, I know that my hope is not in people, not in things, and not in my circumstances. My hope is in the One who created me. I have seen His faithfulness and goodness be poured into my life. I have felt the weight of what He has done so fully that all I can do it sit, speechless, praising the One who created me.

When has it become okay to live a safe life?

If I am rooted in Christ and believe that He gave His life for me, then how can I say that risking it all, laying my life on the line is meant for someone else, not for me?

Throughout the Bible, God has called us to go, to live as sent ones, to finish the call of the Great Commission. We ask God to raise up people to go but we forget that He has called us. You. Me.

A bolder prayer is to ask God to raise up the workers for the harvest and to use us, fully expectant that God might call us to the other side of the world, being willing and eager to go. Let’s not be okay with choosing the safe life, the life that sees us worrying about physical safety and monetary stability. Instead, let’s ask God to increase our faith, to help use become eager to go, and rely on His strength as we take a step of faith.

I hope you are encouraged today!

Lizzie