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.

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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?

Manifestation of Heaven on Earth (At least to my romantic mind.)

I have this thing where I love taking pictures of the sun. Yesterday, when I was out on the back deck, I was wrapped up in a blanket writing, when I looked up and noticed the sun setting.

IMG_6755

At first I thought it was just beautiful. I was like, “Wow. Look at that. Such a beautiful inspiring view.” Then I was like, “No, this needs to be captured in a picture.”

Sun.jpg

After taking this picture I continued to just sit there and stare at the sun. (Probably not the best thing to do to my already terrible eyes.) Then I just looked around the yard and began to take in the full beauty of what was around me. One thing I had read in Celebration of Discipline was the discipline of meditation. I thought that sitting on the deck in full view of the sunset would be a good time to meditate. I closed my laptop and turned over my phone.

As I sat there, this thought crossed my mind: Everything the sun touches is touched by heaven. Or some sappy thing like that. Well, the whole yard wasn’t bathed in sunlight. Rather there was one strip of land, almost like a golden pathway (NOT a yellow brick road) leading to this small clearing a few feet back into the woods.  I walked down to that single strip of sunlight and walked in it, as if I was walking toward the sun itself. When I got to the edge of the wood I stopped. That glen was not on our property. It was on our neighbor’s, and technically, I’m not allowed back there. I turned around and began to walk away, but I quickly turned back.

The sun was setting. My feet were bare and cold, turning purple. I myself was still wrapped in a blanket. The only way to get to that clearing bathed in light was either to walk over a graveyard of dead leaves raked there over the years by my family and risk poison ivy, or to cross over to my neighbor’s yard and safely get there on mowed grass. I risked the mounds of leaves. I wasn’t sure what I was stepping on, but I knew I had to get there.

The grass in that area was the softest I had ever felt it. The whole area was covered in moss and fresh green grass. It was the greenest grass I had ever seen. It was this small area, and the middle was covered in ash. I’m assuming it was a controlled fire by my neighbors to create this little area. I don’t know, but it was as if I stepped beyond earth and into a supernatural place. It felt sacred, and I was thankful I wasn’t wearing shoes. I felt like Moses standing before the burning bush. It was a holy place. Certainly not a place for sinners to walk; I felt (like what is talked about in Romans 6 and 7) my chains and slavery to sin break, and a fresh binding and servant hood to righteousness form.

I’m not even sure how to explained what happened there. It was a sense of renewal, purpose, forgiveness, and calling. A fresh outpouring of grace. I am convinced I was standing in the presence of God receiving a calling just as astounding as Moses being told he was going to lead the Israelites to the Promise Land. Leaving felt like I stepped out of glory. I entered into a moment where perhaps, if I stayed a bit longer, I might have seen God’s back like Moses did.

I don’t think I’ll look at the sun the same way again. I’ve always been in awe of it, but now that holds a new meaning for me.

Sun 3

Sun 2

 

I’m gonna be honest; I struggle with depression.

I think the title says it all. I do struggle with this demon called Depression. Sometimes he’s small and easy to squash like a worm, and sometimes he is a giant bigger than Goliath and much more like the Greek god Aries. He is brutal. He can be sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear until I flick him off. Sometimes he is much harder to battle. He can be a giant man standing in front of me shaking my shoulders and screaming in my face. When that happens, all I want to do is hide in a corner behind the pages of a book and ignore his presence.

Sometimes it can be really hard to remind myself that God is with me. Since I have finished Uninvited I have taken to quoting,

God is good.

God is good to me.

God is good at being God. (25)

That’s not always easy to say, because it doesn’t always seem true. My Tulsa Best Friend once called me out on trying to be God. She really challenged me with that idea. I came to realize that I do tend to take my life out of God’s hands and try to drive by myself. Let me tell you: There is a reason I don’t like driving and am sometimes scared to do so. I tend to crash and get into accidents. (Truthfully, I’ve only been in two accidents, last summer, and neither of them were my fault.) I am scared of my own ability and yet I am also scared to trust in God’s ability.

Are you catching that? I’m scared of trusting in the God who created the world. God created everything good–cats, dogs, oxygen, cookie dough ice cream, these words I am writing–and I’m doubting His ability to help me be happy…. Heck, God created happiness. He created Joy. “The Joy of the Lord is my strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Why then do I feel like I’m living Lamentations?

I hate to say it, but it’s a choice. I can live just outside of Jericho’s walls being ridiculed and mocked, or I can march and make my way into the promise land, the land of the living, flowing with milk and honey. Although, marching seven times around a wall… without talking… without advising God on how to do His job… requires trusting God.

My old youth pastor once said,

When you don’t know what to do, do what you know.

I don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but sometimes, all I know to do is to walk and meditate on God and how faithful he is. Sometimes I’m yelling at him, sometimes I’m crying. Never once was God not there. There are times when I don’t feel like God is talking, but I think just as much as we need to take time to listen to God, God certainly takes time to listen to us.

Yes, there are times when my Lamentations season is a punishment for sin. Heck, the Israelites were kept from the promise land for 40 years because they sinned and disobeyed God and did not trust Him and his timing. But I think we get so used to the 40 years that we drag it on longer than we have to. Can you imagine being in a desert for 40 years and when the time is up God says, “Yay! You can enter the promise land today!” and in reply, you say, “That’s great, but today’s Saturday. I get to sleep in. We’ll see about Monday.”? Can you imagine???! We get used to living in Lamentations, in pain, that sometimes we don’t even leave when we can or we put ourselves back there. Sometimes we put ourselves back in the place we so desperately try to get away from. Why? Because we try to do it ourselves; we can’t; we fail; we get scared; so we run back to what we know.

One of the several books I’ve been reading is Celebration of Discipline  by Richard J. Foster. Before Foster jumps into any of the disciplines he quotes Heini Arnold:

As long as we think we can save ourselves by our own will power, we will only make the evil in us stronger than ever. (5)

I know how to be angry. I know how to be depressed. I know how to be the victim in every situation. When things don’t go my way, when I have a plan and that plan is derailed, I run straight back to being angry and sitting in my depression. I will fail every time I try to save myself. I know I can walk in the promise that God has giving me, in the blessing of Abraham, if I trust Him, but it is so much easier to sit and wallow. Wallow in pain (mental, physical, or spiritual) or trust God? One is instant, the other is a little bit harder, requires a little more faith, but has a greater reward.

Today was hard. Today I wallowed in my anger and my unbelief of a few things. I made quick assumptions. I hated myself. I was mad and upset. I laid in bed on my phone refusing to acknowledge the presence of my family (even my dear Athena). Today was hard. I’ve almost cried several times.

“Elizabeth, this is terrible. This is really raw. Why are you telling us?”

Why am I telling you? Good question. I should probably be telling a counselor or my mother. However, while I don’t have anything against them, I don’t want a counselor, and in due time my mother will read this post. And I’m telling you, because if you’re like me you’re not alone.

All God has been teaching me this year is trust. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I have the concept down yet. Haha. *That’s awkward laughing.*

Some days, like today, are really hard. But some days, like yesterday, like all of last week are really good. Yeah, sitting and wallowing is a choice, but if you can’t decide in that moment to take on your giant and to fight it with nuggets of truth (Lysa TerKeurst always said that lies flee in the presence of truth, and she is sooo right.) then know, and remind yourself, that it’s only for a moment, not a lifetime.

“Elizabeth, you don’t even know how old I am.”

I don’t have to. Lifetimes can be long times. Who’s lifetime are you going by? My great aunt lived to be a hundred. Some people in the Bible lived to be over a hundred. Jesus is still alive. I don’t live by the laws of this world, but by the laws of heaven.

Today sucked. I took my life into my hands, and it was the most terrifying thing ever. But now, I give it back to God. Now I am choosing to trust God. God is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God. (I might cry writing this.) I’m not going to give up. Please, you too, don’t give up. You don’t have to fight alone. If you need to tell a counselor tell one. If you need to tell your mom, call her up. If you need to tell me, I’m here.

Today wasn’t the best day, but tomorrow can be better. I believe in you. The Joy of the Lord is your strength. God is good. God is to you. God is good at being God.  Today was just one day in a lifetime. Don’t let it define you or tomorrow. We can do this together. We can fight together. We can trust God together.

Fighting! 加油!Good luck!

 

*** Two songs I listened to while I wrote this:

Thy Will by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

Here’s My Heart by Lauren Daigle