Two years.

Image may contain: Lizzie Kruse, plant, flower, tree, outdoor and nature

Photo taken by Emily Elizabeth Photography

Many of you have heard bits and pieces of my story throughout the past two years. Some of you have been the ones that have cried with me and helped me through some of the darkest moments of my life. I didn’t really want to write this post because I knew it would mean I had to recall each moment over the past couple of years that has caused so much pain. But God knew that this story needed to be shared. He allowed me to walk through this difficult season so that I could learn the depth of his love for me. I don’t share this story because I want sympathy or because I want to shame. I believe that God has given me this story because he wanted me to be able to point back to how good he is, even in suffering. So with that, here it goes.

It’s been two years.

I still remember exactly where I was when I received the call. It was week one of my summer mission down in South Lake Tahoe, CA. My mom had called earlier in the week to let me know they were no longer coming to see me. She also had something to tell me but she wanted my dad there too. Okay. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Two days pass and it’s hard to keep me mind from wandering to what it could be. Sickness? Job loss? Death? Divorce entered my mind briefly but I quickly brushed it away. I had just seen them happy, together a week before. Everything was fine. Fast forward to Wednesday. I was on my way to teaching night when I shared with my friends what was going on. One of them immediately suggested divorce but I again brushed that away because everything was fine a week ago. I parked my car and went inside.

The call came.

I grabbed my phone, walked outside, and sat on the front steps. Hello? Both my parents answered. I was anxious but not prepared for what they would say. We’re separating. What? No you were just fine a week ago. Denial and grief washed over me. I began to sob on those front steps. I can still feel that moment. The air was warm, the sun was out but I suddenly began shivering. It felt like everything had stopped. Suddenly my family was no more. My world was fine one moment and then the next everything had exploded, shattered, the pieces fell in slow motion.

I sobbed on those steps for several minutes, unable to stand. I heard music coming from the chapel, beautiful worship in stark contrast to my broken world. One of my friends stuck her head out, concerned that I wasn’t back yet. She saw my face and sat down beside me. I was unable to put voice to what was happening but God provided comfort.

Weeks had passed since that moment when suddenly, everything became even more complicated. More tears, more hurt, and more pain. My summer in California comes to an end but I’m faced with a new challenge: pack up what’s left of my life in my childhood home that has been sold. More emotions, more tears, and more pain. As I sorted through the sweet memories of the past when things were put together, albeit still broken, I remember all that happened. I was unable to process these intense emotions so I crumpled to the ground and sobbed. It felt like I couldn’t breathe. With no one around, I reached for my phone to call a friend. Her words are forever in my mind. “When all you can do is cry, God knows what you need. He hears you even when all you can do is cry.” God provided peace and I move forward.

Months later, life has become a way to avoid and deny what’s really happening. I was living in two separate worlds: home and away. Broken relationships and painful arguments were a regular part of my life at home. Peace and denial were part of my life away. I spent time away because I couldn’t stand to face what had happened. A mentor once told me that what I was walking through was similar to grieving a death. I was just grieving the loss of my family.

Life keeps getting busier. I graduate college and the divorce becomes official. Emotions keep swirling around me that I don’t quite know how to process. But I don’t need to see a counselor, I’m fine. Deep inside though, I become bitter. God sees and calls me to forgive. Through his grace, I can but, saying those words are completely different than living it. Most of the time, I avoid but when I’m faced with reality, I become angry. God sees and provides peace.

I make it through the summer, all the while still unable to process these difficult emotions. But I don’t need to go to see a counselor, I’m fine. Fall arrives. Change occurs. God is still moving in my life but it’s hard for me to see. He provides a job. The first month is great but then I am faced with a new fear. The intercom comes on, telling us to go into lockdown. Fear. Then it’s over. Will I ever be able to feel safe at school? Days pass and my joy decreases. Anxiety rises up and depression sets in. I cry out to God, just asking him to let me feel normal again. And again I say, “But I don’t need to go to counseling. I’m fine.”

Then, I hit rock bottom.

I am not fine. But God has provided life. I begin to see a counselor. Days that feel long and dark suddenly start to feel bright again. I am starting to feel normal, even almost joyful. God provided.

Christmas comes. I thought that the first Christmas would be the hardest. I was wrong. Arguments explode, hurt increases, and trust dwindles. But God is not done. He brought me through the fall and will bring me through this. I come home and start a new job. This new job is hard, but I keep moving forward. I pray for change. Months pass and change actually happens. There are moments when I allow myself to remember. The bad memories of the past two years come flooding forward but the incredibly sweet moments where God has undeniably provided from the bad overwhelm me.

God has been so good.

He has shown me that even in suffering, there is good. In each moment of pain, I became closer to him. Sweet relationships have developed because of the hurt that I experienced. God carried me when I couldn’t carry myself and provided for every one of my earthly needs. But he also did something even more amazing, he increased my faith, trust, and patience. It’s hard to think that God sometimes uses suffering to grow and strengthen our faith. While these past two years have been hard, God has used each moment for his glory. For each hard time, an abundantly sweeter moment has resulted. While I still can’t explain why, I know who has come alongside me and I really think that’s all that matters. Answering those why questions will never bring me peace but, realizing that Jesus has been with me through it all brings light into a dark situation.

The life I am living was one that I never imagined. I never thought that I would still be living in Spokane (and loving it!), teaching in a ridiculously hard classroom, and still single. But I could not be more grateful for how God has provided for me and grown me in this season of life. It’s crazy to look back on all that has changed in just two years. Yeah, it was hard. Yeah it sucked. But Jesus is always greater.

This next year, more change will happen because that’s life, but I’m excited to see where God takes me next.

Advertisements

Confidence.

View More: http://photos.pass.us/lizziegreenhouse

*Picture taken by Emily Elizabeth Photography.*

Where does my confidence lie?

I’ve had to ask myself this question a lot over the past several months. It’s easy for me to forget that my confidence does not lie in how well I perform at my job and what people think of me. I am a people pleaser to the core. When I receive negative feedback or criticism, it’s hard for me to not take it personally. I so desperately want people to like me and approve of who I am and the things that I do.

Growing up, I had some serious self-confidence issues. I felt that everything about me needed to be perfect but usually felt anything but. Back then, I felt that my personality was never outgoing enough, my clothes were never cute enough, and my talents were never good enough. Since my identity and confidence were completely tied to these things, I was never able to break free from this lack of self-confidence. That is, until I realized where my confidence should actually come from. More on that in a little bit.

I think social media also played a huge role in my ability or inability to be confident in who I was. Scrolling through various social media sites, it’s hard to take a step back and realize that most of what is portrayed on the Internet is just a very controlled version of reality. Most people do not live these lavish and seemingly perfect lives but, this is easily forgotten when you start down the road of comparison. Social media can also be a confidence giver, although not in a lasting way. I have realized that my motivation behind posting something on social media should not be because I want to feel affirmed or liked by people. It should be because it’s genuinely something that is important and that I want other people to know about. When I first started writing this blog, I told myself that the moment my motivation went from giving God the glory to using it to give myself glory, I needed to be done. This hasn’t always been easy for a people-pleasing person like me but I’m thankful that God continues to remind me that this whole life things is not about me. It’s about how he is able to redeem and restore a person overwhelmed by sin.

Sometimes, I’m the same way with God. I want him to love me so much that I try to do the right things in hopes of gaining approval. But what I’ve realized is that a life of always seeking the approval of others is draining. It’s exhausting and far from life giving. There is no peace in trying to find confidence in earthly things. So then, where do you go from here? The answer is Jesus, more and more of Jesus. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, I can be confident in who he has created me to be. The gifts and talents he has given me are no mistake.

When we place out confidence in Christ, amazing things happen. For one, the desire to please others decreases significantly. As we move closer and closer to God, the desires of our hearts align with God. He gives us confidence that he will be faithful in our lives, no matter how long you have waited or how hard a situation is. We can rest in the truth that he loves us today, tomorrow and forever, no matter what. Even in our sin and brokenness, God is good. When we mess up or disobey what he asks of us, all we need to do is confess, surrender, and move forward. He provided ultimate forgiveness when he died on the cross. A life of surrender is far greater than any momentary, worldly thing.

I love that I get to serve a God who not only created me, but who also knows and deeply loves me. I hope that I never forget that he is faithful to provide, even when it’s been years and there’s no answer to a specific prayer. Even when we walk through hurt, God is near. That’s how my confidence has shifted from being placed in how others view me to who God is. While people may affirm me one moment, I have found it never lasts and honestly, it gets exhausting. I hate the ups and downs that come with placing my confidence in the world. However, once my eyes started to shift from fleeting moments to eternity, everything changed. It’s not always easy to remain confident in who I am in Christ, and I constantly have to check myself but God is gracious in providing comfort, healing, and peace.

Lizzie

P.S. There’s this song that recently came out called “Confident” by Steffany Gretzinger which inspired me to take a deeper look at where my confidence lies. I’ve been listening to it non-stop for the past week so I thought I’d share it. I love how music can be so impactful and that’s how I feel about this song.

 

Nostalgia.

Edits-0008.jpg

*Photo taken by the incredibly talented Emily Elizabeth Photography. Go check out her work! Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emilyelizabeth.photography_/

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately. Tonight, I decided to go through some old things from my childhood and early college years. I stumbled upon several of my old journals from a season of life where I felt restless and anxiety ridden. I remember those days vividly, feeling overwhelmed with anxiety over what was to come and restless to just find out what was next. These two feelings went hand in hand. I wanted so desperately to have control over everything in my life but also had ZERO actual control. My heart and mind wanted to plan out each step of my life just so that I would know. I found comfort in knowing, planning, and controlling (and those who know me well would probably say I still struggle with this sometimes. Hey, no one’s perfect!)

I struggled so much with just wanting to know what was next. Each moment I felt discontentment, dissatisfaction, or just the need to know what was next, I wrote to God and asked him to provide. As I look through the words I wrote, years ago, I have seen God answer every one of my prayers and pleas. When in those moments all I felt was distance and silence, God was working.

You guys, it’s incredible.

God heard and answered. Where there was loneliness, God provided community. Where there was doubt, God provided trust. Where there was waiting, God provided patience. And where there was hurt, God provided healing. Each prayer was NOT answered in the way I anticipated but what has come is FAR greater than I could have imagined. Each time I prayed, God answered in a way only he could, maybe not giving me exactly what I wanted but providing what I needed, which was more and more of him.

All this to say, God is at work in the lives of those who he loves dearly: you. He hears when you cry out to him in desperation and pain. Nothing is too insignificant or silly to bring before God. When all you can do is sit before God and listen, he knows your heart and knows your needs. He provides what is needed, not a moment too soon or too late. As I looked over some of the dates of my journal entries, I’ve realized that it’s taken YEARS of faithful prayer (and somewhat desperate prayer) to get to this point. What is this point you ask? Well, it’s not that I have anything figured out more than I did before but it’s that my hope comes form Christ alone. He is my delight, my strength, my comfort. He has replaced fear, anxiety, and worry with confidence. He has become my purpose and has given me patience.

I think the verse, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” is so fitting. I used to believe this verse meant God would give me whatever I wanted when I delighted myself in him. But what I truly desire is Jesus. As we delight in who God is, we become who he created us to be and out desires start to shift from what the world has to offer to desiring more of Jesus. He becomes out desire and everything is found in him. He is the root of happiness in good times and strength in hard times. He provides community, finances, and each one of out physical needs.

I hope and pray that today you feel loved and cared for by the one created you. Never give up hope that God will answer your prayers. Write down each prayer so years from now, you can see what he has done and celebrate!

Lizzie

Struggles.

Attachment-1 (1)I’ve been pretty honest lately about different struggles in my life, but never before have I felt so scared of sharing one particular struggle. I’ve brushed over it when people have asked if I am okay because I felt if people really knew, then I would be perceived as weak and not fit for ministry. It’s illogical but those fears are real. Last week, as I was driving home from work, I felt God speak. He said, “Lizzie, share your story.” It has scared me to think of sharing this struggle I have been in for the past couple of months but I believe that there is a reason that God would prompt me to do so. Sharing this does not come from a place of self pity or wanting people to feel sorry for me but truly comes from a place of obedience and vulnerability, as God has called me to live in the light, and has asked me to share this part of my story. I don’t have all the answers but I do know what has helped me through this difficult season. So that’s what I’ll share.

I’ve been struggling with depression the last couple of months. It didn’t hit me all at once but was slowly building from a lot of outside factors that have been influencing my life over the past year. It has shown up as exhaustion each day where I wake up already looking forward to go to bed that night, and sleeping for 8-9 hours each night but never feeling refreshed. It has shown up in not feeling up to hanging out with friends and using the, “I’m tired,” excuse to get out of it. It has shown up in just sitting and weeping on my bed for hours some nights because I just want to feel normal again, I just want to feel joyful, and mostly, I just want God to take away this burden. It has shown up in increased anxiety over my safety at school and questioning of my chosen profession. The truth is, I’m not okay, even though I will tell you that I am. But I am doing something about it. I’m allowing myself to feel these emotions but not letting them overtake me. I’m trusting that God is here and present with me, holding me when all I can do is cry. I’m giving myself grace to walk through this struggle because I’m not perfect and some days are just hard. Most importantly, I’m talking to someone about it.

It was hard for me to admit that I needed to talk to a counselor. I thought that I had everything under control and that things were getting better. I had tricked myself into believing that since a year had passed since the darkest season of my life, I had healed and moved on. People kept telling me there was no shame in going to counseling and I honestly thought that I believed that. But in my heart, it was still a pride issue, as if talking to someone and asking for help was saying that I couldn’t do it on my own. But it’s true. I can’t do it on my own. Realizing that I wasn’t equipped to handle these complex feelings allowed me to not only be able to start going to see a counselor but allowed me to surrender them to someone who can, someone who has walked on earth and experienced the trials that we encounter and ultimately died for me. There is no better place to be but in the arms of Jesus, surrendered to him in a deep, heart-level kind of way.

This struggle has broken me. But Jesus is greater and through it, I have been learning to just sit and be with him. I have learned to trust him in a deeper way. I have also learned to let go of the plans that I have for my life because sure they might be great, but nothing compared to what God has in store for me. This has been one of the toughest things for me to do because it’s like I’m having to let go of something that I have desired since childhood. But the question that God keeps asking me is this: “Do you love me enough to let go of the dream of being married and having a family?” When I first felt God speaking this, I was stunned. This tore at my heart. I realized that I had held so tightly to this dream that it became an idol. I have thought long and hard about this question. God has revealed to me the times where he has moved in a great and mighty way, times where he has loved me more than anything I could desire, and times where he has been faithful. So I think my answer is yes. If God has chosen for me to walk through life single, then I do love him enough to submit to his ways. He has shown me the greatest love of all, dying for me so that I could be forgiven. This has given me more peace in my singleness than I have had in years. God hasn’t spoken to me and told me that I will be single for the rest of my life but in asking me this question, it has allowed me to see the heart-idol that I was holding onto. The desire to be married has not gone away but for now, I feel like the idol of marriage is starting to break away. I have peace whichever way my life ends up going, married or unmarried and it has been so freeing.

I don’t know if you struggle with any of these things but know that you are not alone. I know I realized that many people struggled with depression and singleness but it was still hard for me to admit that I struggled with them too. In the end though, how we walk through these struggles shouldn’t bring glory to ourselves but to God and his great love for us. Our struggles should help us show the glory of God and his faithfulness.

Thank you for allowing me to share this part of my story. It has been a long season of growth and suffering but God has been faithful. I choose to believe that he still is good even in the trials.

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” This has been kind of my life verse over the past year because I feel like I have been in a season of wanting and waiting. But even in waiting, Jesus is still moving we just need to be patient.

I love sharing me heart with you guys, even when it’s hard. Thanks for reading!

Lizzie

The long summer.

It’s been a really long summer. Despite the fact that I’ve been on vacation and experienced so many new things with my family (things which I am SO thankful for!), I’ve felt like this summer has dragged on. I just want it to end. You see, I’m a routine person. I like having things to do that are planned out and routine each week and in the summer, I lack that. I honestly can’t remember which day I’m on. They all seem to blend together. Not having a routine has caused me to come a little bit undone. I crave daily and weekly routine. (My little introverted, planning heart can’t take much more of this haha) In this loss of routine, I’ve also felt a loss of purpose this summer in a big way that I’ve never felt before.

Since each day is open to endless possibilities, it has caused me to loose the sense of purpose I had throughout college and this might be some peoples’ idea of a dream life. It felt great the first couple of weeks to just sit around and do nothing or go out on a whim and hang out with friends, but after a couple of weeks of this, it had me questioning my purpose and abilities. We were made to work, to complete tasks during a day. To fall out of the routine of doing this threw me for a loop.

In June, right after graduation, I had it in my head that I would find a part-time job for the summer and then go right into substituting this fall. Well, it’s August and I still don’t have a part-time job, not for lack of trying. I’ve sent out dozens of applications to various jobs but have yet to find one. The same thing has happened with teaching jobs. I have sat at my computer for hours filling out applications, bettering my resume, and finding the right things to say on a cover letter but have been met with rejection after rejection. It has been so hard feeling so much rejection this summer and it has caused me to feel so much insecurity about my worth and abilities. Do I even have what it takes to be a teacher?

The other day, I’d had enough. I was driving back from a weekend serving middle school students at summer camp (so I was already emotionally tired) and found myself questioning whether or not God had a plan for me. It has been really hard for me to see Jesus working in my life throughout this entire summer. So I asked God to give me purpose again, I asked Him to provide for me, and I asked for Him to be enough. I wanted to feel free from the constant desire to be in a relationship. After months of praying this prayer over and over, I kind of just gave up. And that’s when it hit me. I had been trying to do things on my own strength but I convinced myself that since I was praying about it, I was giving it up to God. In my heart though, I still held on tightly. During that moment, when I was physically and mentally exhausted and I just couldn’t anymore, I realized how much I was trying to fix things on my own strength. Being able to say, “God, I can’t anymore so you have to,” lifted the burden of trying to figure things out and placed my trust where it needed to be.

I’m honestly still trying to figure out why after months of praying that Jesus would be enough in my life and that God would take away this huge desire to not be single, He still hasn’t taken it away. However, I am confident of this: my heartache is not because He loves me any less, but because He wants to use my life for His glory. I’m also trying to figure out what God’s plan for this next season of my life is but I trust that He will provide.

Even through this difficult summer, I’ve learned to trust in God more and more. When I think back over these past few months, I’ve never once lacked peace and the knowledge that God is working in my life each day. My identity still remains in Jesus, knowing that I am enough in Him, no matter where I work or how long I am single.

Jesus died for me. That’s enough to find life in Him and trust in His faithfulness.

And He has been so faithful. This past week, I got calls for not one, but TWO interviews for teaching jobs. Yay!

I am constantly amazed by God’s goodness and am so ready to start this new season in my life. Here’s to the season of FALL, the changing of seasons, flannel, pumpkin spice, falling leaves, scarves, sweaters, boots, new jobs, cold weather, and endless possibilities.

I. LOVE. fall.

Lizzie

 

 

 

 

Memories.

13619967_10210112851124035_6400671081668805113_n

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

Identity issues.

17492925_10155119152387207_320461336651003053_o

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

 

 

Trusting in God’s timing.

17760922_10155119153577207_3603036485018283001_o

~Photo taken by my incredibly talented friend, Emily~

Life has been a bit overwhelming lately. I have found myself feeling more and more overwhelmed by lies that the enemy is feeding me.

I’m not good enough.

I’m not confident enough.

I don’t have enough skill.

I’m not ready.

I graduate from college in three months. It feels like I have three months to figure out the direction of my life. Three months to get a stable job to support myself. Three months to finish this little thing called college I started four years ago, as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman.

My, how times have changed.

I wish I could go back and tell that young, bright girl to enjoy the moment, to not be so afraid of what others think of you. Be confident in your heavenly Father and who He created you to be. My time in college would have been so different if I hadn’t been consumed by trying to gain the approval of my peers and focus on pursuing the plan I had for my life. But I’m also thankful for the growth that has come from these insecurities. I’m grateful that God allowed me to experience these trials and that He was always walking through each new growing experience with me. There have been times when I’ve felt distant and far from God, but I’ve never felt abandoned, I’ve never felt alone.

I also wish I could tell that young girl not to get caught in her owns plans but to live expectant of what God could do. I remember many nights where I would sit on my dorm room floor and cry because life wasn’t going the way had planned it. I would yell and scream at God for allowing things to be the way they were. I felt overwhelmed by the things that I didn’t yet have but my heart wanted so badly.

How do you reconcile the loss of your plans with the plan that God has for you?

This is the question I’ve asked myself over and over as I saw my plans become obsolete and God’s plans become greater. I saw what God had planned was so much greater than I could ever imagine, even if it meant giving up some of the ideas for my life that I held onto so tightly.

This is something I still struggle with. There are parts of my life plan that I so dearly want and have yet to see come to fruition. Many days, I feel sad and disappointed. I question God and His great plan but then I hear Him whisper,

“Lizzie, trust me. Just trust me.”

I hear those words and my hearts becomes stilled.

I stop and think, am I really trusting God? How can I trust Him more? For the most part, my heart desire has transformed from what I want in life, my plans, my hopes and dreams into a desire to serve the Lord and chase after Him.

Everyday is a new chance to trust. I’m still processing through what this looks like in my life today, with graduation just a few months away. I am far from perfect at trusting and serving with a grateful heart. I still feel overwhelmed by where the next part of my journey will take me.

I don’t feel like I’m skilled enough, good enough, or brave enough. But God sees me differently. Throughout the Bible, God uses the least likely people to be ambassadors. Moses, Zacchaeus, Rehab, the list goes on. He uses the weak to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth so that we may not boast in ourselves, but in Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 it says:

4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but out competence comes from God.

This is the hope that I cling to. Even when I don’t feel like I am good enough, God asks me to be willing, not perfect. So when I start to feel overwhelmed by the lies that I revert back to and believe, I remember that the God of the universe is there, and He knows what He’s doing.

Where does your confidence lie? Is it in your ability and your plan? Or is your confidence rooted in Christ and dependent on what He can do through you?

Lord, show me how I can do this in my life today, not when I’m graduated or when I have a stable job or when I’m married. Show me how I can serve and trust with all that I am today instead of waiting for tomorrow.

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.

tahoe-3

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