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

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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

Just sit at His Feet.

 

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

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

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

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

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

But back to the story.

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

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

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

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

Lizzie

Trust and patience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lizzie