Trust and patience.

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Here’s me giddy to have received my diploma (cover).

This has been such a stretching season for me. The past several months have been me preparing to transition into a new season of life. I if could sum up what I have learned through this season it would be these two words: trust and patience.

It all started four months ago when I had to make a split second decision about where to live. Did I want to move to be closer to potential jobs or stay in small town Cheney and be surrounded by friends? I choose the latter but in the coming months, God would use this decision to adjust my trust from myself and my own strength to God and His mighty power. A couple months after I made my decision to stay, put down my deposit for my new place, my roommates and I found out that we were not guaranteed an apartment until September. Unfortunately for us, we had to be out of our current place by July 1st. Cue the panicked, frustrated phone calls (and moments that weren’t my best yelling at the poor woman on the other end of the phone). I prayed for guidance but just felt like God was asking me to fall further onto His strength and trust His timing. After my first major freak out over our living situation, I never once felt anxious or afraid that we wouldn’t have a place to live in over the summer. And you know what? God did provide, more than I could even have asked for and Friday marks the day we move into our new place.

While this whole apartment fiasco was transpiring, I had also just entered into my final quarter of college, student teaching in a third grade classroom. My students were awesome and so sweet but I always came home exhausted and drained from the amount of work I was putting in. My friendships began to suffer because of it. I no longer wanted to go to Bible study or weekly meetings. It was a struggle for me to say yes to showing up and connecting with friends. I remember each Tuesday, I would drive home and convince myself that I had too much work to do and that I couldn’t go to Bible study that night. But, I would always feel God’s small voice telling me that I should go, that it would be worth it and it was. I certainly felt lonely this past quarter but I knew I wasn’t alone. I think the enemy tried to convince me that I could do life on my own when in reality, I needed people in my life to grow in community with. These past months have felt like the hardest and most rewarding. I felt alone but that caused me to lean into Jesus even more. God used my loneliness to produce patience and trust in who He is and what He was doing in my life. As I think about how all I could do was press further into Jesus for strength these past months, I’m amazed at how God really was my strength.

During this time, I also felt God calling me to step out of the community of believers that I had been in the past couple of years and into a new community. This terrified me because I am super introverted with new people. I tend to put on a front and have a hard time allowing people to step into my life. I remember one night as I was crying out to God asking Him to allow me to have favor in finding a new community, I remember hearing so clearly, “Lizzie, I will bless you with community.” With only this to hold onto, I plunged into serving at my church. It was intimidating and I dreaded going the first couple of weeks because I was new, didn’t know anyone, and felt out of place. But I kept showing up and it certainly wasn’t on my own strength that I was able to walk through those doors each Wednesday. God was so merciful in allowing me to find strength in Him. I saw that community didn’t develop overnight and that it would take time but I trusted that God would provide.

Throughout this past quarter, I also started to look for jobs. At first, I had it in my brain that I would get a full-time teaching position right away and things would be great and exciting. God had different plans. I put so much effort into filling out applications, arranging for supervisors to come in and observe me, and getting the right letters of recommendation. I’ve applied to so many jobs I’ve lost count. But week after week, I got rejection after rejection. I had an interview that left me feeling inadequate for the profession that I had chosen. Each new rejection dashed my hopes of ever becoming a full-time teacher. I felt lost and unsure. I applied to become a substitute teacher, just thinking that it would be my fall-back plan, that I would surely get a full-time job. Well, it’s almost the end of June and I’m still without one. I’ve struggled over the past couple of weeks with feelings of rejections, inadequacy, and lack of trust. Throughout this whole process, I’ve prayed that God would lead me in the direction that would put me in a position to be used for His glory. More and more, I’ve been feeling like He wants me in this substituting position. This has been a hard pill to swallow because it doesn’t match up to the expectations I had for my life. I began to pray that God would give my joyfulness in being a substitute if that was where He wanted me to be. He totally has. I’ve been humbled by the place in which God has chosen for me to work in the fall but I also never imagined that I would feel excitement and joy too. Yesterday, I went and picked up my badge and I was overwhelmed with joy that God provided a job for me, even though it wasn’t what I had expected. I’ve leaned more and more into Jesus because I didn’t know what the outcome would be. I think of the verse:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

This couldn’t be more true and evident in my life. I’ve asked for God to change my heart about substituting and He did. What a gracious God He is!

I’ve also felt the weight of broken relationships be lifted from me. A year ago, my family went through a major upheaval. I didn’t know how to respond. In the months that followed, I wept and cried out to God to fix what was broken. I felt anger and resentment. This went on for months. I pushed my emotions down, removed myself from that life, and plunged deeper into the life that I was living in the present. But every time I entered into this relationship, I felt anger and resentment. I felt like I had lost one of the most important relationships in my life. Then one day, I got tired of feeling this way. I was done and I didn’t want to feel anger. So I asked God to take away those feelings. I didn’t happen right away like I had thought but I kept praying, kept leaning on God’s strength rather than my own. Then one day, I felt God prompting me to extend forgiveness and so I did. Something changed. Each new day after that, I asked God to allow me to live in light of that forgiveness. My heart changed. This relationship that had caused so much pain was finally starting to feel right again and I no longer felt pain and anger towards this person. I’ve found more healing in the power of forgiveness than I have before. What a sweet Father I get to serve that would take away my pain and die for me so that He could carry the weight of my brokenness.

The final thing that has allowed me to press further into trust and patience in Christ is singleness (you’re probably rolling your eyes but yes I’m going to talk about this again). My prayer over the last few months had been for God to provide in this area, whether it be through a man that I could enter into relationship with or through finding complete joy, happiness, and contentedness through Him. Each day it feels like I would pray this prayer and not feel a difference in the way I felt. I still so desire to get married and have a family; that has not gone away nor have I felt like it has diminished. This was hard for me because I’ve seen how prayer for God to change my heart has come to fruition, as mentioned above but I still felt the same day after day. In all honesty, I don’t think the desire to be out of this season of singleness has diminished but what has changed is my trust and patience. Because I feel helpless, I have given up control in this area. I cannot on my own strength have enough patience and trust that God will provide but God in His power does. The other day, when I once again prayed that God would be enough, I felt Him saying, “Lizzie, do you trust me? Be patient.” Oh friends, what a sweet thing it is to feel completely powerless but to find strength in Jesus. He is enough and has proven that to me over and over again not only throughout these past months but through my entire life.

Yes this season of transition has been hard and yes I’m still in the midst of it but God has shown me that He is greater. He wanted to teach me to rely on His strength rather than my own. I think back to several months ago when I prayed a dangerous prayer. I asked God to be my everything and I put my yes on the table, meaning that I would do whatever He asked of me, wherever He called me. What followed was this crazy hard quarter. He has taught me that I can trust Him and that He will provide what I need and that’s where the patience comes in. Things don’t always happen when we want them to but Jesus loves me so much that He would not leave me half-way finished. He will carry out all that He has begun in me.

Sweet Father, thank you for your grace, kindness, and love. Thank you for your strength and that as I lean into you, you will provide and you will walk with me through every hill and valley.

Friends, I love sharing my heart with you! Any connections, comments, or wisdom you have is appreciated. Thanks for being willing to read this blog written by someone who’s still a work in progress.

Lizzie

Memories.

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Memories are a funny thing. Some memories bring back that sweet, warm your heart feeling, while others make you want to crawl in a corner. And then there’s some memories that can make you feel both happy and sad at the same time. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been experiencing the latter. It has suddenly hit me hard that I will be graduating from college and starting real life. I’ll be leaving behind sweet memories and it’s both exciting and sad. I think I’ve been pushing aside all of these sad, mushy feelings because I’ve convinced myself that things will not be that different next year because I’m staying in the same place and my environment will look very similar to what it is now. But next year will be different. I’ll actually be a teacher instead of learning how to be one. I won’t be in the college environment, which has been such a blessing these past couple of years. In light of all these feelings coming to light, here are some things that I will miss about college.

I will miss walking through campus. I was driving by campus the other day and suddenly had the urge to walk around it. It’s so beautiful this time of year with all the flowers and trees in bloom and I will miss walking through it on my way to class, and literally stopping to smell the roses along the way.

I will miss walking from the dorms to eat terrible campus food and seeing so many different friends, stopping to talk and ask how they are. I will miss the quick trips late at night to the market to pick up junk food so that we could have a movie marathon.

I will miss living in a dorm because it meant that I was never sitting alone on a Friday night because I could open my door, and hear music and voices drifting from my next door neighbors.

I will miss going to class (yes really!) and being challenged to think deeper. I will miss those strange gaps I had during the day that allowed for conversations with friends in the student union building. I will miss getting to meet so many people each year as new freshman rolled in.

I will miss those way too hot days in September and May where the only place to cool off from the air condition-less dorms was outside. I will miss seeing the people who shaped me throughout college. I will miss laying on my dorm room floor, talking until late about God with different people I had met. I will miss being able to get up, roll out of bed, and be where I needed to be in 15 min.

There are so many more things that I will miss about college but there are also many things that I am thankful for.

I am thankful that I figured out how to be independent. My first semester away at school, I was so homesick. Somehow, I figured it out and ended up moving 5 hours away to finish up my degree. I learned how to make friends and do life on my own.

I’m thankful that I began my Gilmore Girls and Parenthood obsessions and spent time with friends while doing so.

I’m thankful for the group of wonderful women who decided enter into friendship with me. Also thankful that they liked watching The Bachelor as much as I did.

I’m thankful that God brought me to the shores of Lake Tahoe last summer, when He knew that I needed community and banished every fear and doubt I ever had about going. I’m thankful that I said yes to allowing God to use my life for His purpose.

I’m thankful that I learned Jesus is everything. No matter what. Even when you’re panicking about your major. Even when you feel like you have no friends. Even when life feels hard and hurts, Jesus heals.

I’m thankful that I did not settle for less than God’s best even when temptation seemed unbearable. I’m thankful for the people who poured into me and pointed me back to Jesus when I strayed. I’m thankful that I learned how to love myself, flaws and all.

Mostly, I’m thankful that my college years set a trajectory for my life that has made me come alive and feel freedom and wholeness. I feel more in love with Jesus than I ever have before and it’s because of all the things that I listed above.

As I move out of this season, I’m trusting that God will provide in so many different ways. A job, community, and friends. He has always provided in the past and will continue to provide for the future. Only through transitioning out of one season to the next have I been able to completely trust that God will provide for me because my own human strength has not been enough. You guys, I’ve literally felt no stress this quarter even though I have so many different things that should cause me stress. It’s because Jesus is bigger and those stressors seem so small in compared to God’s greatness. I’m so thankful that I can trust God’s promises because He who began a good work in me will indeed cary it on to completion.

ONE MORE WEEK LEFT.

Lizzie

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