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.

My Life ft. My Stupidity

I came to college expecting so much, and I am still expecting so much. I am expecting God to move powerfully. This first week, however, was like fighting Goliath. On Thursday, last week, classes began, and my thought was, “What could possibly happen in the first week?” Let me tell you, apparently everything can happen in the first week. It was like a silver platter full rotten food was handed to me, and I had a choice to eat the rotten meat and bug infested fruit or I could staple a return to sender, and go eat at SAGA (the cafeteria here on campus, which probably isn’t much better.) I’ll be honest, I took a bite from a few of the apples given to me.

Just within the first week I have found myself resisting God. Pray? No. Read the Bible? No. Worship? No. I want to sit here in anger, and do things my way. I don’t want to reach expectations. I don’t like being told what to do. “God, why don’t you just sit on the sidelines? I’ll take care of this. I can do it so much better.” Okay, stop laughing at me. I know what I did wrong, but my story isn’t over. So, when everything goes kaput after I take control, I throw my hands up and say, “What the heck, God!” All I get is the same response. “Yeah, what the heck Elizabeth?” Alright, fair point. Everyday I try to bring my own plans for my future to fruition, I fail. Let’s be real. I woke up on Monday and said, “Yes, today is going to be a good day.” And like a friend of mine said, it was like a narrator was right behind me saying, “Today was not going to be a good day,” in that deep, slow, ominous, somewhat comedic voice. (That was a rotten apple with several worms.)

Why am I so afraid of admitting that I can’t do something and allowing God to have the first and final say about things? Why am I so afraid of surrenduring and relinquishing control when I know how good and great God is? Well, I think this comes down to the fact that I’m afraid of admitting my feelings to myself, anyone, and God. Being honest is a hard thing for me to do when it comes to confessing how I really feel.

“Okay, Elizabeth. Wow. Take a deep breath.” 

Yeah. It’s a lot. Despite all of that though, I do trust in God’s goodness. I know that despite everything I am feeling, I will see 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 ‭27:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

And despite all of the things that have happened in the first week, there were a lot of good moments too. Thursday night was campus worship, I did something Friday night (not that I remember), and Saturday night was Partiestival which was a blast. Sunday I went to the Aquarium. It was my first time there. I really enjoyed it! I took pictures of all the fish and put it on SnapChat. Monday is not worth recounting. Most of the week is not worth recounting. Thursday night was interesting. Roommate and I were up until 3 in the morning praying and witnessing to each other. Friday night I saw the movie “Dirty Dancing” for the first time. I fell in love with it! I love watching dance movies or musicals. Saturday I spent all day with a friend of mine whom we will call Charlie (Female). Sunday I didn’t do much accept study for ages and get all my homework done. And now here we are: the beginning of week two of classes. I am trusting this week to be a hundred times better. There has been a lot of self discovery in the past week. I’m still thinking about a lot of it, and trying to journal about it.

“Wow. You’re busy. When do you have time for anything?”

Good question. I’m not sure. Because of how stressful the first week was, I’ve already gone crying to my chaplain. (Let’s be real, I didn’t cry.) Chaplain told me that I need to find time to rest and relax. This week I plan on finding time to read and to perhaps watch an episode of T.V. on occasion. Because I am so busy and can barely find time to relax, I am scheduling posts to be posted without me having to write everyday. I can just do it all of my writing at once. Some of the the things coming up are “Quick Tips” about writing by the one and only Professor Gogan. “Quick Tips” will be posted every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I am on the search for quotes that I think say a lot, and those will go up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I thought all of you would like those. I will have a few short stories coming soon, and I will continue to do updates on my life, but that might only be once a week now. 

I think that’s about it. This semester I have 18 credit hours. I’m in two language classes (Chinese 301 and Spanish 101), assisting in one (Chinese 101), and showing up for another just because I can (Chinese 201). I love all of my classes this semester. I’m happy I am given the opportunity to get into the swing of things before I start my work study. (I think I’ll have about ten hours of work mixed in between my classes.)

Okay. That’s all. I’ve given you an semi-clear update of the past week. 

我爱你!加油!再见!Fighting! Good luck! I love you guys! 

The Beginning of Something Wonderful

Today classes start. I’m moved in, unpacked, definitely not organized, and incredibly sore. 

My prayer for this semester:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into our temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.     ~ Matthew 6:9-13

I am believing for a good semester. I’m excited about the classes I have and the friends I have. While I have certain idea and plan of how I want things to go, I know God is in control. His ways are higher than my ways. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I want His will to be done in my life. All things are possible with God. That is what I am living on for this school year.

I’ve talked to one of my professors already, and she’s practically guaranteed me a job in the Writing Center. (I tutor in English.) I’m going to see if I can have two work studies. A student is only allowed to have ten hours of work study, so I’m looking to see if if I can split those ten hours up between two jobs. I have to go to career services and ask if I can do that.

Everything is going so well, I’m excited for what’s going to happen this semester. 

Fighting! 加油!Goodluck! 再见!Goodbye!

End of Summer pt. 3

The last word I would choose for describing my summer is family. 

As far as I am aware, this was my last summer at home. This is not saying I’ll never be home over the summer months. It means that it will be a while before I am home for as long as three months. Next summer I am attending a wedding at the end of May, shortly after I will be going to China for five to six week. I might come home for a week or two, but then I will be heading back to college. Next year will be one event after another. 

I am very thankful for all the time I was able to spend with my family. In the beginning of the summer Little Sister and I watched a lot of TV together. We tried to finish Goblin (One of the best Korean Dramas) over the weekend I returned, but we didn’t have enough time. Little Sister and I went to the gym quite a bit the first month too. I was practically always in the car with Mom. I went to the gym with Uncle for three (four?) weeks every morning at five. It wasn’t long until mom started going to the gym with me. Dad took me to the movies, and he and I often stayed up late (sometimes until three in the morning) watching TV in the Man Cave. I didn’t hang out with my big brother much, but he did give me some hats. Aunt and I had small conversations here and there that I really enjoyed, and I was able to get her a bunch of new clothes for her birthday. I even went out to breakfast with Soon-to-be Sister-in-law. 

That’s a lot. And while I spent time with everyone, I spent the most time with Momma. She and I were always grocery shopping, always in the car, and always at the firework stand. It was something I really needed. I don’t know what is going to happen this semester. I don’t know what God has planned. I know it’s going to be good, and I know I’m going to be relying on all the time I spent with Momma. All of our conversations and all the times we went shopping together will be support beams that I can fall back on to fill me with energy and courage. 

Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with a promise;) that it may be will with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.    ~ Ephesians 6:2-3

I don’t know about long life (I am still quite young), but I believe I reaped a harvest of favor and love this summer. Whether it was from honoring my parents or simply stepping into a blessing that God wanted me to have, this summer was full of family and what comes with it. While there were a lot of things that happened this summer that weren’t the best, I know I will never doubt the love my family has for me or the love that my God has for me.

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.

End of Summer pt. 1

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If I had to describe summer in one word, it would be trust.

Once again I find myself reminding myself to trust God. The skin on my hands are peeling from being stressed. All of my ‘stuff’ covers the rear window of Mother’s car. Some how we still have to fit three people into the car. There’s still some small stuff that didn’t go in the car. I’m excited and nervous all at once.

I’m excited. I’m going back to college. I get to see all of my best friends. I’ll be living by my rules and not my parents. I can put to the test everything I’ve learned this summer.

I’m nervous. Oh gosh, I’m going back to college. I have to socialize. I have rules? I’m not sure I even knew those existed outside of my parents. I have to put everything to the test that I learned this summer? School hasn’t even started and I’m testing? What if I didn’t learn anything? Oh… what if I forget something and leave it at home? What if I run out of money? What if all my electronics brake? What if….

“Okay, Elizabeth. Breathe. Are you okay?”

Oh sure. I’m fine. Or will be. If I don’t feel ready to leave now, I know when I wake up at four in the morning that God will have done something in my heart, and I’ll be more prepared and ready than I thought I was. I am reminded that I can’t do this by myself. I’ve said it in several previous posts, but where I am weak, God is made strong.

The thing I am most confident in (I really am not sure how much I’m repeating myself here) is the fact that I can’t, but God can. All things are possible with God.

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.    ~ Matthew 19:26

How relieving is that! When I come to the honest conclusion that I can’t and God can, peace floods in like river and covers every thought.There hasn’t been a time this summer when God failed me. He has never left me. I am looking forward to starting and completing this semester with Him.