Be still.

final 12I’ve struggled over the past couple of days to find the right words to write. There’s so much on my mind and I just couldn’t seem to put it into words. I feel like I’ve been falling. These past couple of months have been one giant leap of faith, a step off of the ledge of surrender, and I’ve been tested like never before. Strong emotions and fears that have been building up over the past year piled so high, that I felt crushed under the weight. But tonight, I no longer felt like I was being overcome by these emotions and fears. Rather, I felt caught up in the arms of Jesus. I felt held. Secure. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve woken up with the choice to either succumb to fear or trust that God would hold me. Some days, I would walk into my school and feel immense anxiety over the “what ifs.” Other days, I would feel joy in my heart, knowing that God is walking beside me. I’ve been confronted with questions that I still don’t have the answers to and old fears that I thought had gone away.

But then Jesus lifted me out from under my fears and held me.

There is honestly no possible way that I would be standing here proclaiming hope in the midst of chaos and pain without Christ. No way. I’ve been broken down to the point where the only thing I can do is surrender everything to God. Let me tell you, there is peace in chaos and hope in midst of circumstances that are unthinkable. I was never meant to walk through the trials of life without the one who created me. He knows me and loves me deeper than anyone ever could. He provides hope needed to keep moving forward and wisdom to try and navigate hard questions.

He provides LIFE over death.

I have been trying to fix my problems on my own, covered with the statement, “But I’m surrendering this to God.” In reality, I still held control over my problems. Realizing this has brought me to my knees. It has provided a breathe of fresh air because as I have tried to fix everything, I found that I just couldn’t. That was so frustrating for me. I’m the type of person who likes to have control of situations. I always want others to have the perception of me that I am “put together.” This thought process was draining rather than life-giving as I thought it would be.

Recently, I was able to take a weekend to realign my heart and surrender to Jesus and I realized that all he has wanted me to do these past few weeks is to just sit and be still before him. Psalm 37:7 says this:

 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

That’s a hard thing for me to do but it was so needed. As I have begun to be still before God, I feel refreshed and alive in Christ. My heart is starting to feel whole again, starting to heal. My trust has increased. I feel fully surrendered. I feel content. I’m still trying to process through complex thoughts and emotions but as I bring them before God asking for wisdom and discernment, I feel things start to become clearer. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Everything won’t make sense all at once but I trust in my creator to complete what he started. I can boldly come before my father and lay down my worries and fears. I can boldly ask for wisdom in the areas I still need clarity, increased trust in those areas that lack faith, and increased surrender of those things that I cling tightly to.

On a side note, when I started writing this post, I felt like I hadn’t quite figured out the ending. It felt incomplete, like there was still something I still needed to learn. Not even a day later, I was at a leader retreat and was asked to read through Psalm 37. As I came upon verse 7, I knew that God was telling me to just be still before him, to let him fix my problems. I had found my ending. It felt complete. I always find that when I write something, it never happens in just one sitting. I usually have an idea but still be processing through it. Then I will be hit hard with the conclusion or the ending that God was trying to teach me. Writing these posts has allowed me to process through a lot of really confusing things that I’ve dealt with. I always feel like my life is still being written. Each new phase will take a while to complete but God will complete the work he has started. So if you’re reading this, thank you for taking the time to listen to just a small part of my heart. I hope that you feel encourage by these words.

Lizzie

 

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Just sit at His Feet.

 

Just sit at His feet. These words have echoed through my mind a lot recently.

The past couple of days have felt like a whirlwind. On Monday, I interviewed for a teaching job in my ideal grade level. I was so nervous leading up to it but felt so much peace during the interview. I came out satisfied with the way I answered each question and felt good. I also felt so much fear. What if I actually did get this job? I would be in charge of setting up my whole classroom and preparing instruction for the first couple of weeks in less than a week and a half. I think it terrified me more to think about the what-if-this-actually-happens scenario than to think about the interview. I had come to find peace in substituting this year. The thought of doing something increasingly more difficult like have my own classroom kind of freaked me out. I sure didn’t want to take the “easy” way out (because let’s be real, substituting is not easy) but worry clouded my thoughts.

I kept hearing God say, “Sit at my feet.”

I didn’t know what that meant for me until after my interview when I got a call from another principal saying that I was recommended for a long-term substitute position she had open. My first thought was, “Oh I didn’t get the other job,” but to be honest, I felt some relief. That afternoon, God was in the middle of working in my life in a huge way. I still had no idea what He was going to do but kept hearing, “Sit at my feet.” The feet of Jesus is such an overwhelm and sweet place to be. There is so much peace, joy, and trust. I cried because even in the moment of my uncertainty, God was working in a way only He could. I felt trust that God would work things out for my good and His glory. I felt so loved and so much peace.

Thinking back over this past year, one of the hardest of my life, I can see God’s hand working. In the moments that I felt so alone, confused, and overwhelmed by my pain, He was beside me. In the moments where all I could do was weep and cry out to God, He held me. In the moments of confusion and doubt, He still called me His and never once let go. Even just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes because I see now how God can use suffering to work in our lives. When I was walking through this past year, I told myself over and over that God would use it for His glory, but it was so hard to believe this deep in my heart. A renewed sense of God’s presence settled in my soul.

But back to the story.

God was still working in this job situation. The very next day, I had another interview that didn’t go as I had planned. I left feeling unsure. Thirty minutes later, I was on my way to see the school where I could potentially be long-term subbing for. I loved it. The principal and staff were super nice and it just felt right, however I could not commit because I wanted to hear back to be sure that I didn’t not get the other full-time job. The next 24 hours, I found myself kind of a nervous wreck, not wanting to get my hopes up but also kind of just wanting to commit to the sub position. I kept feeling like God was saying over and over, “Just sit at my feet.” So I did. I’ve never been good with decision making, mostly because I’m afraid that I’ll choose wrong.

On Wednesday, it came to the point where I had not heard back from one school about their full-time position but the other school wanted to know if I was in to long-term sub. I realized that no matter what I chose, it would be okay. I felt peace knowing that God was working and moving in this sub position. He knows my heart so well! I was feeling so overwhelmed by the possibility of having to start my own classroom in two weeks but also wanted stability in where I was teaching. I wasn’t feeling peace in either substituting full-time or having my own classroom for the whole year. This long-term sub position honestly felt like the best place for me to be (not to mention the best of both worlds) and I’m super excited to get to teach some awesome 6th graders for part of the year!

The emotional rollercoaster that I’ve been on since last Wednesday has been crazy. I’ve felt excitement, nervousness, relief, joy, peace, and every emotion in between. I also think that I was trying to please the different people in my life. There came a point where I just needed to choose and be excited for the outcome. I’ve always been under the impression that God has everything planned out for us, which in a way, He does. He knows everything that we will do before we do it but also gives us the freedom to make our own choices. I’m so grateful for that because I often feel pressure to pick the “right” choice. If I am surrendered to God’s will, I can be confident in what I choose, knowing that God has given me to opportunity to do so.

Today, I encourage you to take a break and just sit at the feet of Jesus. There really is no better place to be!

Lizzie

Trust and patience.

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

Identity issues.

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I have identity issues.

For a majority of my life, I’ve struggled with where to place my identity.

People’s approval.

Status.

Relationships.

Guys.

Success

Happiness.

These are just a few of the things that I have put my identity in. And you know what? Each and every one of these things has let me down.

I’m not saying any of these things are inherently bad, but what happens when they become everything that we are, when we place our identity in what was meant to be filled by Christ?

Let’s define identity, for the purpose of this, as:

“Condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing.”

People’s approval. The more I have sought to gain the approval of my peers, the lonelier I’ve felt. When I place my identity in what others think of me, my self-confidence and identity stem from how many friends I have in real life (and on Facebook) and the amount of followers I have on Instagram. How fickle that can be. I have seen that in these times when the approval of people matters the most, I develop surface level relationships in order to be well liked and neglect those relationships that matter the most. And because I placed my identity in whether people liked me, it caused ups and downs, and it was exhausting.

Status. This one goes right along with the approval of other people. When I thought it was more important to be elevated to the highest position, to be regarded as highly spiritual and a leader, I felt the furthest away from Christ. My relationship with Him was not authentic, it felt more like a show. As my time as a leader came to a close, I felt lost because I determined that I wasn’t needed anymore and I felt neglected. The result of both of these things was loss of purpose. And because I placed my identity in whether or not I was needed and had status, it caused ups and downs, and it was exhausting.

Relationships. This is not referring to romantic relationships (I’ll get to that one next). What I’m referring to is placing your identity in having deep friendships, having a best friend. I’ve always envied those people who have that one person in their lives that they do everything with. I never had that until recently (shoutout to my roomie!). But when I placed my identity in striving to find that one person whom I could become best friends with, I denied God the chance to enter my heart in that capacity. Growing up, I was shy and introverted. All I wanted was to be someone’s best friend but rarely left the walls of my home. I remember being rejected by people growing up and this led to me closing myself off. In middle school I was lonely. In high school I was lonely. For the first part of college, I felt awfully lonely as well. And because I placed my identity in friendships, it caused ups and downs, and it was exhausting.

Guys. For much of my life, I have dreamed of the man I am going to marry. I have prayed for him and longed for him to be in my life. But he still hasn’t come. Because I placed my identity in guys, a gaping hole was formed. I would pine after guys, often times new guys I met would instantly capture my attention. My emotions went up. Then, nothing would happen. My emotions would plummet. I was faced with a question I’m still wrestling through: would I still have faith and trust in God if He told me that I was called to be single the rest of my life? Because I placed my identity in my relationship status, it caused ups and downs and it was exhausting.

Success. School has always come easy to me. I really didn’t have to put too much effort into getting good grades throughout high school and even into the first few years of college. Then I started teaching. While I knew the book smarts of teaching, I struggled with the balance of multitasking, solving disputes, and providing students with interactive and engaging activities. I was way outside of my comfort zone and because I had placed my identity in success, as it became harder, and my self-worth and confidence were hard to come by. I struggled with believing that this was where God had called me and began to question His plan for my life. And because I placed me identity in success, it caused ups and downs. And it was exhausting.

Happiness. There have been two major times in my life when I have felt the joy and happiness sucked out of me. First, in middle school and even into the beginning of high school, I was so lonely. I was the subject of gossip and teasing by girls in my classes. I felt anything but joy. In order to break away from the hurt, I turned to watching copious amounts of TV. I would immerse myself in fake reality because the lives of those on TV seemed so much happier than mine. Happiness was failing me. Second, this past year, my family unit fell apart. I took so much pride and happiness in my family and how strong we were. But there were cracks that no one perceived as ready to break open. There was very little happiness amidst so much hurt and pain. And because I placed my identity in how happy I was and whether or not life was great, I felt emotional ups and downs.

It was exhausting. Draining. Life-sucking.

But then, Jesus entered. Well actually, He was always there, just waiting for me to say, “Yes. Jesus, be my identity.” So then, my identity became Jesus and things changed drastically.

People’s approval. Jesus. Approval.

Status. Jesus. Daughter of a King.

Relationships. Jesus. Close relationships.

Guys. Jesus. Content in singleness.

Success. Jesus. Self-worth.

Happiness. Jesus. JOY.

The ups and downs were replaced with constant love. My self-confidence and worth were no longer rooted in the things that sucked the life from me.

They were found in the giver of life. That is something to rejoice in!

If you find yourself placing your identity in things that are life-taking, turn to the One who promises a well that will never run dry. Don’t believe the lies. Jesus died for you and me, He is enough. Trust in that today.

Lizzie

 

 

Feeling discontent.

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Lately, I’ve been feeling really discontent. Yesterday, I yelled and screamed and slammed my hands against the steering wheel.

My heart felt heavy.

I felt so alone. And I’m going to be honest with you, I felt so discontent in my singleness.

But, I keep being reminded that God calls people in and out of singleness. I know that God has asked me to be content with where He has me right now but I’ve found myself asking God to take away this calling that has felt more like a burden lately.

But, I’ve also asked God for provision to be content for however long this season lasts.

And He has been so faithful.

The other day, I came across this article about how marriage is not the mission. Rather, the mission is to run passionately towards Christ, build intimacy with Him, and live as people who have been sent to carry the call of the Great Commission.

God’s original intent was for us to live so intimately with Him, that nothing else would matter. He created us in His image, we were supposed to live in partnership with Him. But that partnership was broken when sin entered the world. Now, we have to fight to have the level of intimacy with Christ that was meant for us all along. And I don’t mean fight in a bad way. I just mean that sin moves our focus from God so it becomes harder to keep our hearts turned towards God.

This past weekend, I also had the opportunity to attend a conference through my church. I didn’t know what to expect but I felt excited and expectant of what God was going to do. The second day of the conference, I heard from a speaker who talked about something that is so relevant to me: singleness. Her perspective was so refreshing. Often times, in the church, singleness is looked down upon and marriage is celebrated.

But the truth is, both should be equally celebrated!

Marriage is good but so is singleness (Can I get an amen?). People are called in and out of seasons of singleness.

That calling should be celebrated.

That season should be cherished.

Singleness provides opportunity to put all your focus on God, instead of trying to also please another person. And don’t get me wrong, marriage is still wonderful and something I hope to enter into in the future. But these words are so refreshing. The perspective I’ve had of my singleness has overwhelmingly been one of disgust, sadness, and jealousy. But now, I look towards this season with joy, excitement, and thankfulness (Though some days, I need more encouragement than others).

I think back to the day that I cried out to Jesus, so desperate for Him to take away the pain and burden of singleness. Instead, He provided, oh so faithfully. He has given me so much more than I ever asked for. The past few weeks, I have experienced deeper relationship with Christ than I ever before.

The deep void that I thought needed to be filled with relationship really needed to be filled with Jesus.

More and more of Jesus.

My human tendencies tell me that I need another person to make me complete, but Jesus tells me I need Him. I believe this with my whole heart but it’s easy to forget as I go about my daily life. Sometimes, Jesus feels distant. He feels so far away in fact, that my own desires cloud the truth: that He will never leave me. I’ve come to learn that even in those seasons of doubts and restlessness, God is working, even more mightily. If I run after Him, I will find Him. He will be enough.

I hope I haven’t come across as spewing the Christian answer of, “God is all you need and everything else will fix itself.” I know it’s hard. I struggle everyday to overcome the desire of my sinful nature. There are many days that I fail. I end up feeling sorry for myself and become overwhelmed with jealousy. But I’ve learned that Jesus is bigger than that. Even if each day isn’t perfect, I can rest in the knowledge that I am sill loved deeply by my Father, the one who created me in His image.

On a side note, I graduate in six weeks and that is both equally terrifying and exciting. Who thought I would ever get to this point in my life so quickly? Certainly not me. Here’s to passionately pursuing Jesus and serving the kiddos I get to work with everyday for the next 42 days.

I hope you feel encouraged today!

Lizzie

 

 

When God says no.

tahoe-2What happens when God says no?

I’ve been struggling with this lately. There are so many areas in my life where I want God to say, “Yes,” and provide in a real, tangible way. I want Him to provide reconciliation, my dream job, and my dream man. I am pretty impatient most of the time and I find myself wanting to see God provide these things right now. But sometimes He says no. Sometimes He says wait, be patient.

Those are my least favorite words.

“Be patient.”

“But, God, why not now? Why do I have to wait”

This is usually how the conversation goes.

It ends with me asking why and God saying wait.

This makes me wonder, is my tendency to doubt God and base my faith on feelings? Is my faith based on whether or not God moves in tough situations or provides when I ask? Or, is my faith placed in knowing that God is good and faithful, even when I don’t feel like He is answering me?

I think I tend to base my faith on feelings rather than simply because God is sovereign. When things are going well in life, my faith soars but when I walk through valleys, I feel distant from God, lacking trust and faith that He’s still there.

But recently, I’ve seen my attitude towards faith change radically.

Even though I’ve felt God in real, tangible ways throughout my life, it’s easy to forget those moments when life is hard. I’ve realized that my faith have very much been tied to what I am feeling and that’s a dangerous place for me to dwell in. My faith has not always been accompanied by God’s presence and the feeling of walking down a perfect, easy road. My faith journey has been scattered with brokenness and suffering. I have walked through valleys that have seemed long and filled with the word no. If I had let my feelings dictate my faith, I would not be the woman I am today and I would not have faith that is rooted in who God is rather than what I am feeling. I think that I would have turned from my faith long ago, because I just didn’t feel that God was there.

Each of those valleys, though, has caused me to put more and more faith in who God is, rather than if I am feeling God at that moment. But I also haven’t be passive during those moments. I have cried out to God, asking Him to move in the situation, to speak to me, to fix whatever is wrong. In crying out to God, He has mercifully answered in ways I could have never imagined but that are also not in line with what I had hoped for. He often times says, “No,” to what I have imagined the fix to be but has answered in ways that are so much better. Knowing that He is sovereign, holy, and good gives me the ability to trust in the plan He has ordained, knowing ultimately that He will never leave me.

So what does happen when God says no?

I think it’s important to remember that even though God may not be moving in the way you had hoped, He’s still moving. He may have a better plan than you could ever have imagined. If God says no to giving you your self-chosen “dream job,” He has a better plan in mind. If God says no to healing, trust that He will use it for His glory and that good will still prevail. If God says no, rest in the knowledge that He is good and works everything out for the good.

It says in Romans 8:26-28 (MSG):

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

The God who created the universe knows and loves us. He has called us to faith that is not dependent on feeling, but rather trust that He is good and sovereign. He knows our prayers, even when we have no words left to say. He knows every detail, desire, and hope we have far better than we know and allows us to stay present before God. He works in our lives to produce something good, even in the mess and suffering.

And especially when He says no.

Friend, I don’t know what struggles you have, the path that you are on, and the condition of your faith but I do know what it’s like to be in those places. Don’t loose faith because God says know. Have hope because He is working on something far greater than you could ever dream of.

Have faith. Trust that He is God. Trust even when you don’t feel like God is there. He’s still moving.

Just wait.

It’s going to be awesome.

Lizzie

P.S. This MercyMe song has been on repeat the last couple of days for me and I’ve had to ask myself, will my hope still be in God even if He says no? If you’re needing encouragement, give it a listen!

 

Hope in suffering.

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I sometimes think about how Eve ate the apple and get frustrated. No, actually, I get angry. I’m angry that because of temptation and evil, there has to be pain and suffering in the world. I’m angry that because of disobedience, there is poverty, inequality, and starvation afflicting so many around the world. I’m angry that there is conflict and war devastating people’s livelihoods, forcing them to flee to foreign places, not even knowing the language spoken in those countries. Mostly, I’m angry that God has given us free will and choice to do what we please because we usually run in the opposite direction.

But, when I think about it, I’m also glad. I’m glad that God gives us the choice to either walk in truth or reject it and He never forces us to submit. I’m glad that He loves me enough to give me free will, even if it means that I might walk away from Him. I’m glad that even through suffering, there is goodness and faithfulness.

Over the summer, I got the opportunity to live in South Lake Tahoe on a summer mission. I was there for ten weeks and experienced community in ways I never could have imagined. That summer has changed the way I view my relationship with Christ. I am more in love with Him now than ever before. I also experienced hard things that summer. I remember one Sunday, I was at church. The music and preaching was mediocre, I felt overwhelmed by the pain that I was going through, and I was pretty apathetic toward the whole church thing. The worship band began playing the last song and I stood there, halfheartedly singing the lyrics. Suddenly, I felt the weight of God’s goodness and faithfulness on my life. I recalled several times in my life where God had come through, when He was good to me and most importantly, when He was faithful. I had to sit down because I was so overwhelmed. I had never experienced God in this way before. I felt as if God was saying,

“Lizzie, look what I have done in your life. I will continue to move just like I have in the past.”

That was the most intense encounter I’ve had with God. You see, just weeks prior, I had cried out to God in desperation and it felt like He was not listening.

But He was.

Why do I ever doubt that God is good?

With so much pain and suffering in the world, my tendency is feel overwhelmed and doubt that God is good. I can’t explain why there are children dying of starvation and lack of medical care simply because that’s where they were born. I can’t explain why I was given the opportunity to grow up in a loving home, free from worry about where our next meal would come from while children are born into poverty and hate. This is something I have struggled with throughout my walk with God and during this summer. I couldn’t answer the “why” questions. I had doubts, fears, and anger about why God would allow things to happen that were painful and out of my control. I felt so much anger towards God. It simply couldn’t be that pain and suffering was in His plan.

I remember so many nights when I wept, screamed, and cried out to God.

And it felt like He was silent.

Up until that one morning when He showed me He was still good, He was still God, and He was still faithful. I am so grateful that amidst my pain, God showed up, like He always has and always will. I’m grateful that He choose the perfect time to remind me of this, a time when I was at my lowest.

Friends, I don’t know what you’re going through right now or how hopeless your situation feels, but I do know that I’ve been there. It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to ask God why, it’s okay to just sit in your grief.

But don’t stop there.

Ask God for clarity, ask Him for faith, even it when it seems hopeless, and ask Him for joy in the midst of pain and suffering. Ask Him to just be with you. Even when it feels like life is falling apart, there is hope. Even when you’re experiencing deep hurt and pain, there is joy. And even when you feel alone, God is still there.

This is the hope that I choose to cling to. Romans 15:13 says,

“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.”

He is the God of hope and He will fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I hope you feel encouraged today!

Lizzie

 

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