Two years.

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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.

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Confidence.

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*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.

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*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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

Memories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONE MORE WEEK LEFT.

Lizzie

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