Bless The Country

Last week, a typhoon hit China. It was close to Wenzhou where I am at. Luckily, it turned hours before it hit the city, however, other cities in China were not as lucky. In Wenzhou, we had high winds and quite a bit of rain. There was no flooding and object flying around. After the threat of the typhoon had passed, I went back to work, and practically forgot about it.

Yesterday, I went to a small fishing village located on an inlet that leads to the ocean. I had been there the week before when the typhoon was just beginning to approach China. At the time, there were several shops along the warf where the boats were stationed. Yesterday, the shops were gone, completely destroyed by the wind and rain. In fact, there was still so much water in the inlet, that at night, when the tide comes in, it floods the beach again and fills it up to the point, where it looks like just another lake.

In Fuzhou, a place where Hidden Treasures Home, a home for orphaned special needs kids, is stationed, flooded. The water came up to about mid-calf. The small town in Fuzhou is used to a lot of rain, but this was more than they could work with.

I might not have been affected, but others were. Please continue to pray for this country and it’s people. They need the knowledge and wisdom revelation of the Lord’s love for them.

One thing I have learned since I have been here is that, the Chinese who are christians, rely on very little to believe the existence of God. When I was in Fuzhou, God said to me, “I love each and every person here. I tell them that every week. The continued revelation of my love for them is all they need to keep worshiping and loving me. Why then do you, does your country, need to lay out a new fleece every day to know my existence? Why do you need to see a miracle to love me?”

That hit me hard.

One of my students was showing me a bug bite on her arm, and I noticed a bruise right below it. I asked her if that was a bruise, and she said, “Oh yeah! My mom got mad at me and she–” she imitated her mom poking her in the arm repeatedly. I had two reactions to that. The first was: How could a mom do that to her child? The second was: Eh, Chinese culture. I hardly thought about it because my student laughed. It wasn’t until later when I thought about it more.

I tell you this story because I want to show you how disguised love is here in this culture. I have seen it displayed and expressed a hundred different ways. I’ve watched one mom coddle her two year old daughter, and I’ve seen one student who is constantly picked up from school by his sister, and I’ve heard one student say he has no choice in what boarding school he goes to in the U.S., and I’ve heard one student say she is majoring in Law because her father told her to, and I’ve seen a grandma feed and teach a five year old everything he knows, and I’ve heard a parent yell at a student for not listening in class. Finally, I’ve seen a student with a bruise on her arm, given from her mother.

I don’t know the why behind any of these. I do know honoring ones parents is crucial, and I know parents want their kids to do the best they can in school. The word love is hidden under the word respect and honor. The act of love is hidden under the act of correction and punishment.

It is no wonder that all a person here needs is the knowledge of Jesus’ love to know he exists.

For I so loved the world that I gave my one and only son that whosoever believes shall not parish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

I have never heard someone say, “I love you” here.

When God says it to me, I know I feel all warm and fuzzy and loved. I think to a person in China, hearing “I love you” is a miracle. Isn’t it sometimes the same way in America?

“I love you.” Let that roll off your tongue.

I can’t say that in the classroom, so I say, “I am so proud of you.” I don’t know if my students know what that phrase means, but I tell them that everyday. I’ll get close to them at the table, make it a one on one conversation, and say, “_____, you are so smart. I know you are, and I want you to show me. I am so proud of you.” Before they even displayed anything to be proud of, I was proud of them. I’ve seen it change several students in a matter of two weeks. Students who wouldn’t sit still or listen to me, I would tell them I was proud of them for sitting still for five minutes or for listening to me for five minutes.

My mate May, is my hero. I tell her everyday. She helps me with everything whether it is shopping, changing the class schedule, learning the names in class, translating, or cooking. I’ve said, “I love you” to her once, and she didn’t reply back, but now when we go anywhere, we sit together, she hugs me, and we talk comfortably. So that she isn’t uncomfortable, I say, “May,” at the end of the day, “you are my hero.” All she says is, “Oh, okay.” That is enough.

This country needs love. Above all, this country needs God’s love. Displays of God’s love. Words of God’s love. Gifts of God’s love.

This typhoon was just another eye opener for me.

I hope it is for you too.

Please continue to pray for them and for me.

么么哒。

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Prayer is Grievous

Prayer

I want to encounter this idea that prayer is grievous.

Thursday night I went to this dance performance. There was one dance that was about prayer. It was beautiful and I cried. In this dance, there are four girls passionately praying. They are pouring everything they have into sending up incense before the Lord. Every so often in the dance a girl would “pass out” and the other three girls would pull her up and they would continue praying. As I watched that, I felt the Lord just speak to me, “Prayer is grievous, but despite that, it is the most important thing you could do.”

When I heard that, my reaction was, “Grievous? Lord, I think you’ve got the wrong word. Prayer is a battle. It’s where we fight. I mean, come on. Use a word that actually makes people want to pray. Grievous? Lord, I’ve been to funerals, and grief isn’t pretty.”

What did he say back? “Neither is battle. In theory, fighting sounds great because it’s a call to action, but when people start to bleed, they back down and leave. Prayer is grievous.”

I still didn’t think that was the right word. But as I’ve been praying about (not grievously,  I might add), I am realizing that God couldn’t be more correct. (As if God could ever be wrong.)

I am reminded of the most grievous prayer prayed in the Bible:

And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olive; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if though be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.

Luke 22:39-45KJV

There a few things I notice in this:

  1. I have never prayed so hard that I sweat let alone sweat blood.
  2. I have never seen an angel come minister to me in prayer. The Holy Spirit has revealed things to me in dreams and given me clarity and revelation through scripture, but I’ve never actually seen an angel.
  3. WHAT A LAZY BUNCH OF FRIENDS HE HAS!, but I must admit, I’ve fallen asleep on Jesus in prayer too.

What grievous prayer that was for Jesus to pray. He knew he had to die for my sins, and yet being human, he still asked God for another way, yet being fully God, he still asked for the Father’s will to be done.

I know how I pray. I either pray for only my will (98% of the time) or I’m only praying for God’s will, which isn’t bad, but I don’t tell him the desires of my heart. I’m either telling him to give me everything I want, or I’m saying that the wants he has put in me he doesn’t care about.

Let’s look at Anna:

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscour and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Honestly, if I was married for seven years and then lost my husband, I would not have remained that faithful to God. Heck, I get upset about a little thing and I tell God I’m gonna take a break from being a Christian for a day. There are absolutely times I don’t want to live in the Joy of the Lord. There are times I don’t want to be slow to anger and quick to listen. I’m not saying Anna didn’t have those days, I’m saying the Bible says she didn’t depart from the temple. Me? I go to the prayer tower and take a nap. Anna? She is fasting and praying night and day.

I’ve never dated in my life, and I’m having a hard time trusting God to fulfill those needs that a man is meant to fulfill that I’ve never experienced before but crave. Anna was married! Then he died, and now she marries her life to God, the temple their house. I’m not Anna, but boy is she a role model.

Let’s take it back a little further.

And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is they faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Lamentations 3:18-25

Here’s a little background to Lamentations if you don’t know what’s happening in Jerusalem: mothers are eating their babies due to starvation, their armies are destroyed, everything has been taken from them, and Jeremiah has the audacity to say God’s mercies are new every morning let alone their souls are humbled?

How many times have I chosen the Valley of the Shadow of Death? How many times have I chosen to quit when I couldn’t see my salvation? Honey, it’s not about what we see, it’s about what we hope for by faith (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is our evidence of what we cannot see, and by God, Jeremiah was believing a lot of things he didn’t see.

Now to Genesis:

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day…. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, they name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel (Penuel): for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Genesis 32:24, 29-30

How grievous of a night it must have been for Jacob to actually wrestle with God. I mean, I fight God a lot, but I’ve never seen him face to face. I’ve never even heard an audible voice.

Also, I wonder if anyone called Jacob out on his comment of being alone. I believe that just goes to show that in our most mountainous situations, God is with us whether he is comforting us or wrestling with us.

Now, to Abraham. The Lord is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Genesis 18:23-26

Ya’all! Abraham talked God down to ten! Who wants to risk a bargain with God? (I mean, I do it all the time, but it never works.)

I get this doesn’t look grievous. “Elizabeth, you’re getting off point.” OKAY, if you found out, your only living relatives were going to die, your most beloved brother (although Lot was Abraham’s cousin) was going to die in fire and brimstone, would you not also grieve? The significance in this though is that Abraham drew near to God. A voice echoing from the heavens, and Abraham drew near. I don’t see that a lot in the modern age. I see people who hide and shut down. It’s time for our people to become a people who draw near to God.

Guys, it’s all over the Bible. Most of Psalms is a grievous prayer.

Save me oh God for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep water, where the floods overflow me….But I am poor and sorrowful: let they salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:1-2, 29-30

Look at Judges. People even got petty with their prayers, what with Gideon testing God with a fleece. The audacity people had in the Bible.

  1. Jesus politely asks God for a way other than the cross, and sweats blood.
  2. Anna marries her soul to the temple of God, whom she did not yet know was walking the earth.
  3. Jerusalem is dying, still declaring hope, and on occasion blaming the Lord for their own sins.
  4. Jacob just doesn’t care and full on wrestles God. (Even if he didn’t know it was God right away, who just randomly decides to wrestle a stranger on the mountain?)
  5. Abraham draws near to God and bargains with him.
  6. David is always going back and forth between praying for salvation and thanking God for it.
  7. Gideon has the guts to test God.

How do you present your requests? Have you yet married God, and dedicated yourself to the Gospel? Is the Lord your hope even when you can’t see? What’s your Penuel? Where’s your blessing? Have you drawn near to God? Have you seen your salvation? What’s your fleece?

Prayer is grievous, but

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Prayer is grievous, but the Lord is faithful and does not break his promises.

Language Number Three (Four?)

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As most of you know, I love learning languages. In high school I learned American Sign Language. In college I designated Mandarin as my minor. Last spring semester, God told me to take Spanish my Junior year of college. Here I am, now, second semester of Junior year, and I have never been more motivated to study it, BUT it hasn’t always been that way.

Last semester, I honestly treated Spanish as a joke. (Now, before all you Spanish lovers get at me, God has really changed my opinion of Spanish.) I never studied for my quizzes–failed all of them. I never studied for my exams–miraculously passed all of them (except for the final…). And I did decent on all of the homework. I think I passed the class with either a C or a B. I don’t remember.

This semester! I came into this semester so ready to fantastic in Spanish and do just as good on the quizzes as I did on the exams last semester. I was ready to be a winner. And I was on the quizzes! but on other things? NOPE. BIG FAT NOPE. I failed so horribly that I cried to my mom and my Spanish professor after almost every exam. I wanted to drop the class and never come back to it. The reason I didn’t drop the class was because I believe God told me to take it.

I was conflicted though. I have yet to get an exam grade above a 68. (And trust me when I say it had dropped drastically low at one point.) Then I was talking to a good friend and he pointed out to me the end of Hebrews chapter 11. The entire chapter is the Hall of Faith, and it is telling us readers all about why people of the Bible are considered faithful. It gets to the end of the chapter and it basically says: Oh yeah! And there are like a million other people we can’t name, but they’re faithful because they were beheaded, set on fire, and crucified. (stated in my own words.) My friend was like, “That sounds horrible! But, they’re considered faithful because they were obedient. What do you want to be considered faithful for?” I knew instantly that I couldn’t leave Spanish class. I had to push through.

That didn’t stop me from constantly asking God for revelation though. I was always praying about it! Then one day, God was like, “Look! I need you to have a steady foundation in languages so that when your books are translated, you can assure that the gospel themes are not translated out of them.” I was amazed and have worked hard after that.

I had two exams this week and my final is next Monday. The first exam this week was an Oral Exam and I got an 84. I’ll let you know on the second one when I get the grade back, and I’ll for sure let you know about the final.

That’s been my journey with Spanish. I love it.

BREAKING NEWS

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*Trips on the red curtain as I move to take center stage* Quickly catches myself and straightens the imaginary crown on my head. *waves fancily* “Hello my lovely readers and strange narrator. Here is a quick recap of what has happened since we met.” *crickets from the empty audience* “Haha! Of course I’m not really going to talk about the past three months. More like the past week. Let’s get started.”

This is week has been disorienting as heck. I had some intense spiritual battles Monday and Tuesday night (nightmares and dissociating) and I’ve been scared to go back to sleep since. So what have I been doing? Binge watching Parks and Recreation. *naturally**as one does* ALSO I–the healthiest person alive–have a cold. I feel betrayed by my own body. It’s kind of annoying, but whatever. It’ll end soon.

I’ve barely been getting my posts up for the blogathon, but I have done them. I think I have missed one day. If I’m wrong, correct me. I’m not upset about it though. I’ll be happy to buy Tae dinner. Which, speaking of Tae, he redesigned his blog! Go look at it! I’m about to go do that. He’s amazing and if you’re interested in travel, you need to read what he’s writing about.

I finished another book. (It’s actually a book I bought last weekend on my birthday.) The book is Ryan Higa’s How to Write Good by (you guessed it) Ryan Higa. It was actually really good and inspiring. I’ll put a review of it up eventually. I’m about to start another book Autumn Princess, Dragon Child by Lian Hearn. It is the second book in the series The Tales of Shikanoko. Look forward to another beautiful cover.

Monday will be the start of dead week. (It’s crazy to think I have two weeks left before I move into this most beautiful mansion.) Surprisingly, I’m not stressed at all. I know God has things under control. As I keep reminding myself, His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Already two classes have ended. I’m studying hard for Spanish, and I should be studying more Chinese. Things will work out. I trust God.

Keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine.

I love you all! 么么哒!

Celebration of Discipline – Book Review

This was honestly such a good book. (And if I’m being completely honest, I finished it at the beginning of January. Oops.)

Richard J. Foster so excellently takes the reader on a journey of spiritual maturity all while keeping it–as Pastor Beth Jones would say–basic. It was easy to understand, instructional, relatable, and very simple. Foster explained fasting, prayer, solitude (or silence), simplicity, celebration, and other disciplines in a way that made it easy for new and old Christians to begin inserting in everyday life. I suppose “easy” isn’t the right word, as we are talking about discipline. Any discipline is difficult and takes commitment (which really is a discipline in itself). I loved the book so much, I can guarantee you I annotated the pages. I underlined whole paragraphs, wrote notes in the margins, and exclamation marks in areas that really meant a lot to me.

One of the best things about the book is it is completely scripture based. It is not Foster’s ideas or opinions, but what he has seen in his life, in others’ lives, and read in the Bible. Jesus is Foster’s prime example, and he mentions him a lot.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is trying to do monthly resolutions, better their life, or just needs a new revelation from the Lord. As I said, this is good for the new Christian and the “seasoned” Christian. Get it. Annotate it. Tell me what you think!

Trust is an ongoeing decision.

Before I type anything to make a new blog post, WordPress tells me, “Share your story here….” My story about the last two weeks is long and really isn’t worth sharing. There is probably a lot I could tell you, but rather I am going to leave you with a short encouraging note.

Do you all know the sotry in the Bible about the disciples on the boat in the middle of the storm while Jesus is sleeping? Well, I feel a bit like them. I’m shaking Jesus’ shoulders, begging him to wake up and stop the wind and waves. What does he do? He turns over and says, “Nah, you should take a nap too.” I say, “Great! We’re gonna drown.” (And because Jesus is funny,) He says, “The only way to walk on water is by looking at me.” I reply back sassily, “That’s like combining to different Bible stories, but okay, whatever.”

There is always an end to a storm, whether that is Jesus stopping it or whether that is us tying ourself down to the rail so we don’t get blown off the ship while the storm rages on and eventually peeters out. We pray that the storm stops before it can get really nasty, and sometimes Jesus does “wake up” and calm the wind and waves. A lot of the time, though, we think God is late. We went through the front of the storm, the eye of the storm, and now we’re in the worst part, the tail of the storm. However, God is never late. His timing is always perfect. What we might call premature, is on time. What we might call late, is on time. 

In each part of the storm (the beggining, the eye, or the tail) it is our choice to trust God. Sometimes we have to choose it several times in the beggining, several times in the middle, and several times near the end. Trust isn’t a one time decision. It is ongoeing. We choose to choose it everyday. 

You can tie yourself down and freak out, or you can nap. And think, even if the ship does go down, you can still walk on water if you look at Jesus.

“Dude, if the ship is going down, I might as well go with it. I don’t want to live through a storm anymore. End it while I can.” Harhar. Sure, but you’ll never know what you could have had if you stuck it out and had a little faith. God doesn’t allow us to travel through stormy seasons just so he can have fun watching us struggle. He wants to watch us grow, and with growth comes rewrad. Who knows, maybe this is the rain you need to water your dry ground.

My advice? Choose trust.

Look, God is good. See it. Taste it. Know it. Even if you have to look for it, God is good.

Despite the things I’ve been through and the things I’ve put myself through, the Grace of God has been on my life, and I cannot help but love Him. There are times where God should have turned His back on me and walked away, but He didn’t. He promised to never leave us, and unlike us flawed humans, He keeps his promises. He may have to look away while we sin, but He will always be there ready to forgive us if we just ask for it. Sometimes crappy things happen, but there many more good things that have happened than bad things. It’s all about perspective.

With everything that has happened to me and with everything I have done myself, I will still praise God. “All things work together for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). “And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony […]” (Revelation 12:11).

I can go look at all the things in my life, and point out each area where God was at. He loved me unconditionally. He saved me from depression and addiction. He held me when I cried, and waited patiently while I beat on His chest. He talked to me calmly, and when necessary, sternly. He played rolls as both father and mother. He became my best friend. He encouraged me and held me up when all I wanted to do was sit down. He never left me. His number is on speed dial, and He answers the phone every time, on His time. He understood me when I felt alone and like no one cared. He made sure I was never alone.

Satan has tried more than once to take me out of the game, but God has won the victory, making me victorious. Satan is LIKE a prowling lion, but he is not a lion. Whereas, my God is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. My God is both the Lion and the Lamb.

This is my God. He has saved more than I can count. I can’t help but glorify Him for the things He’s done, because truly, it has been all Him. I have done nothing to bring me to where I am at. For I am saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

“Elizabeth, we get it. You love God. Why are you mentioning all of this? What’s the point?”

What’s the point? Sometimes you have to remember and review where you were, what God brought you through, to bring you to where you are. I have heard Steven Furtick say this, and I’ve heard my own pastors say this. Only now am I beginning to understand the importance of this. When you have a hard time seeing God’s goodness now, look back and remind yourself of all the times He was good before. If you can’t see His goodness in the Present, replay it, and see it in the Past. Remind yourself He is good, and if you still can’t see it in the Present, then you need to go look at a sunset and remind yourself that God made that. God made you. God made the Monarch. Remind yourself who the master painter is, and that He is still painting you.

Don’t get upset and disappointed in the picture when it isn’t finished yet.

Look back at your story and glorify God. Recognize, that you overcome by the blood of the Lamb (capital L) and by the word of YOUR testimony. There will always be something we can rejoice about; we just have to look for it.

Penuel

Penuel is the name of the floor I live on in my dorm. It is also the name of the mountain where Jacob wrestled with God. The name Penuel means “Face of God.” Jacob named the mountain that because it is where he saw the face of God and was spared.

Why do I mention this? Because I keep fighting God at every turn. You remember that last post? Yeah… I’m still telling God no. I’m much more reluctant about it, but no is still no, and God is still expecting a yes.

Just recently I am beginnnig to fully understand how much of a superiority complex I have. Before you roll your eyes or sarcastically gasp, let me clarify, I have always know I’ve had a superiority complex. I know I’m pridefull, and I know I think I’m better than everyone. That doesn’t go unnoticed by me. I just didn’t realize how deep that complex went until I looked around one of my classes and thought that everyone there was stupid and I was better than them.

God has been telling me to seek Him. All I have been doing, and quite frankly, want to do, is seek out my own gain.

Recently my chaplain said:

We have to surrender the surrender.

That hurts. I feel like the one thing I still have control of is what I give and what I don’t give to God. All the while God is holding out his plate asking for more of the pie I cooked. I’m running low and I’m not happy. I want to keep hold of something, or at least I want something in return. So often I feel like I seek God and I seek God and I seek God and I seek God and I seek God and I… the process of seeking goes on forever.

“God, I’ve been in the prayer tower every day! I’ve been seeking you! I’ve been quoting scripture and living in your throne room! Where is my reward for my faithfulness? Why haven’t I seen your faithfulness?” And all I hear in return is, “Seek me, it’s coming.”

What the heck does that mean! I’ve been seeking God. I’ve been on my knees. I’ve been raising my hands and dancing as an act of worship. What more can I do.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

~ Proverbs 3:5-8

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

~ Matthew 6:33

Delight theyself also in the Lord and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass.

~ Psalm 37:4-5

They kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

~ Matthew 6:10

I listened to a message by Steven Furtick tonight and he said, “Trust and time are inseparable because trust takes time.”

Seek God. Trust God. Do it again. Seek God. Trust God. Repeat. It’s a lifestyle that doesn’t end. Trust in the Lord and He will direct your paths. Seek His kingdom and all things will be added unto you. Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of you heart. Seek His will not your own.

Do you know how hard that is? That means catching yourself in every decision and trusting that God is leading you and guiding you. That is knowing that you can’t but God can. You can do all things through God who gives you strength, and all things are possible with God.

So often I ask myself, “Elizabeth, are you in God and are you with God?”

All I have to do to answer that question is look at the outcome of my situations.

I am such a prideful human being. But I have to understand that I can’t live off of the confidence I have in myself. My confidence needs to reside in the goodness of the Lord.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

~ Psalm 27:13NIV

Where is your confidence?

I know, I’m probably speaking to the choir, but this is everything I’ve needed to hear, and I’m still hearing. Now it’s just a matter of listening, getting it through my thick skull, and acting on it. As hard as everything is, and as tired as I am getting, both mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, all I know to do right now is to keep seeking God and trusting Him. There is nothing better I can do. I have seen His faithfulness before, and I will see it again. I know my God. He is my Daddy.

Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Of if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

~ Matthew 7:7-11

When you don’t know what to do, do what you know. I heard an old youth pastor of mine say that before. Right now, I know how to wake up, go to class, eat food, and enter into the prayer tower. It is a monotonous routine, but I know my God is not boring, and I will see Him in the land of the living. There are no shortcuts. He is not going to take me around the Red sea through the land of the Philistines. Rather, He will split the sea, so I can walk right throught it. My God is faithful, and I will see Him on Penuel in the land of the living.

Therefore, I will remain confident, not in myself, not in my ability, but in fact that when I am weak He is strong.

End of Summer pt. 2

I’m not gonna lie. I began the summer stressed out expecting terrible things to happen. I had a very limited perspective and low expectations for a happy summer. Because of this, all I saw were negative things and was constantly snippy. I acted immature and irrational about a lot of things. Sometimes these emotions were outwardly expressed and sometimes I just wrote about them in my journal. My summer could have been twenty times better if I didn’t limit myself by my expectations. 

Limited expectations creates a limited experience. I am so thankful my God goes above and beyond all things I could think of, ask for, or imagine. He is a big God and has big things planned for my life. 

This summer had a strong focus on trust and joy. In my family, Little Sister is known as the optimistic one. I’m a bit more of a pessimist. That perspective of mine was challenged. Tulsa Best Friend encouraged me countless times and Michigan Best Friend tried her hardest to help me view things differently. I am incredibly grateful that I have them by my side both literally and figuratively. 

The joy aspect of my summer really isn’t as abscure as I’m making it sound. I spent three weeks selling fireworks. I was either working with Michigan Best Friend or Mother. While selling fireworks isn’t my preferred job, I did make a lot of money. With that money I bought myself an unnecessary amount of clothes. (My closet is overflowing, and I’ve run out of hangers.) I attended my Soon-to-be Sister’s-in-law bridal shower. I went out to breakfast with Soon-to-be Sister-in-law. I have talked to all of my friends from college this past week. I found out today that the way Roommate and I want to set up our room is going to work out perfectly (even if we do pinch our fingers every time we open the fridge door). Tomorrow, just about all said friends and I will be going to IHOP for dinner. The best part of this summer was the fact that I published a chapbook. Not to mention all of the things God has taught me and is still teaching me. There really is so much to be joyful about.

Being negative–depressed, angry, just down right pessimistic about everything–was so big the first half of this summer. When it hit me that I was participating in gossip, being mad at people, and just thinking things about myself and others that I shouldn’t have, I knew it had to stop. I had to teach myself to think about what I was thinking about and to think about what I was talking about. It was really hard, because I didn’t want to be disrespectful toward people, but I didn’t want to participate in some of the things they were talking about. The conversations seemed harmless, but it was a lot of talking about other people that didn’t lift me up or the person who (whom? I’m hopeless with that word.) was being talked about.

“Above all else, guard you heart, for out of it flow the issues of life.”    ~ Proverbs 4:23

The moment I read this, my perspective shifted and I knew it was more than just taking action and guarding my mind, I had to guard my heart. 

As I began to learn once again how to guard my heart, along with it came learning to honor God. It went from thinking about what I was thinking to, “Do the things I thinking honor the Lord? Do the things I am saying honor the Lord? Do the things I am doing honor the Lord?” 

It was a process, and surprisingly not a very painful one. It just took a lot of patience and close attention on my part.

Going into this semester I want to continue to carry this with me. I want to be happy all the time. I want to be overflowing with joy that it almost annoys people that I’m as happy as I am. (Because some people really do think it’s not possible to be SuPeR dUpEr HaPpY. Well, I’ve got news for them.) I want to continue to be placed in situations where I’m forced to trust God, and I want to be happy doing it. I want to be at a point this semester when I can’t worry. Not that I don’t have time to worry, I just legitamitaly do not know how because I am overflowing with the Joy of the Lord, and I trust that His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.

What did you say?

No. Seriously. What did you say? Or, at least, what are you saying? This just struck me–as it does every once in a while–the knowledge of how much power my words have.

I was just listening to the song “1 life 2 live” by The Quiett (a Korean rapper). It came across my Pandora station, and while I was listening to it, these lyrics caught my attention.

1 life 2 live
got so much money to get baby

Simple. My immediate thought was, Dang, if all you want is to get more money, that’s all you’re gonna get. At least if you keep saying that. Then I was wondering if The Quiett was a Christian, because I was also thinking about Jay Park and I know Jay Park is a Christian, so I just had this whole stream of thoughts running circles in my head.

Then, it was like being slapped in the head: “Yeah, if you keep saying that. What do you keep saying?”

What have I been saying?

I’m bored. I’m tired. Man, I keep procrastinating. I need to start this. I’ll do it later. I’ll wait until I’m inspired. I should take a nap. My phone is just so distracting. I could keep going. See, I am a firm believer in the fact that my words will make my world. For someone who doesn’t want to be negative, I speak a lot of negative things over myself. It may not necessarily be bad, what I’m saying, but it’s not productive.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of scripture about how God wants us to glorify Him with our works. I know I haven’t been doing that, mainly because I haven’t been working. I don’t do anything.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” – James 4:17NIV

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” – John 9:4NIV

“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16NIV

“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” – Proverbs 10:4NIV

“Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do.” – Proverbs 6:4NLT

I don’t know how much clearer God can be about this. He certainly doesn’t want me to procrastinate.

While all of this requires I action, I think it begins with what I’m speaking. I need to start speaking scripture over me, truth, and then acting on what I say. Words produce. God spoke and the world was created. I speak and I continue to create my world.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21

I don’t know about you, but I want the words I’m speaking to line up with the words God spoke. I want to be living out the plans God has for me in the world He created for me. And it all goes back to me choosing to do so. I choose what I say.

Finally, I will leave you with this.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23

What did you say? What are you saying? What are you going to do about it?