我回来了!I’m back!

*three spotlights spin around the room*some ominous person on a microphone begins to introduce the main speaker* Ladies and gentlemen! For one night only! Put your hands together! A thirty-five hour trip with sleep! Adventures to laugh at from China! The One! The Only! Elizabeth! Willsea! *the spotlights land on me, struggling to step off of my skirt*naturally, I stumble and fall*with a quick recovery*

Hello! I am returned from China, and the reverse culture shock is real. Did American English always sound so rough? Why is everyone tall.. and white… and not staring at me? Wait.. No one wants to take a picture with me because literally every other person is blonde. Woah, I can understand everything around me now. WHY DO WE DRIVE SO SLOW? I totally missed trees. Ugh. Tulsa is so dry. Where is the humidity? Now that I’m awake at seven in the morning, what do I do with my life? What do you mean I don’t teach school today? What do you mean, no fried rice for lunch!

My first meal back was an all natural American breakfast from IHOP. The Split Decision. Eggs over easy on hash-brown, sausage, french toast, and pancakes with a glass of two percent milk. Regular and blue berry syrup. One full stomach.

Also, I got my phone fixed…. really, I just got a new phone.

I’m happy to be back in America. I already miss the mountains, the humid hot weather, the food, and the driving in China. I miss hearing Chinese. It’s weird to be able to eaves drop on literally every conversation now. This small simple things are what I’m missing the most in the twelve hours I’ve been back in the US.

What am I excited to do now that I’m back? I can’t wait to give everyone their gifts. I am so excited to just be able to give people everything. The whole world if I could.

I’ll be hopping places the whole week, until I move into the dorms on Sunday. Then I’ll settle in and get ready for School. Until then, I’ll be busy seeing friends and finishing registration.

The spring semester was good. This summer was good. This fall semester will also be good.

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Dear China

You became home and brought me family with black hair, slanted eyes, and skin like honey.

Not sun kissed, tan, or yellow.

Much prettier people in a much handsomer culture.

Umbrella covered religion blanketed in wet air.

“Get out of the sun so you don’t turn black!”

Likewise, “My mother said black is beautiful.”

Somehow sassy and saving my face at the same time.

A million stray dogs and a cat without an eye.

Long twelve hour work days, sleeping on an ugly pink couch, waking up to curious eyes.

“Is your hair real?” “Yes.” “No it isn’t.”

Boating after storms, KTV on a beach, and tickle wars.

Water fights and losing because my whole team was made up of double agents except for Justin.

Yogurt for breakfast.

Fried rice for lunch… and dinner.

Eating whatever DiDi cooked on the weekends.

A spunky two year-old who never wore pants, and called me grandma, auntie, and big sister all in the same day.

Failing at Chinese.

Failing some more.

Finally I said “date milk” correct.

Gaining a little confidence.

Failing again and laughing super hard.

Adventures day in and adventures day out.

My dearest, I never knew what you would bring me,

This land that began with the yellow emperor,

And I have not been disappointed.

Scorpion,

Terra Cotta Warriors,

Music,

And friends.

Dear China,

Until next year.

Good bye.

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。

Let’s go back….

Elizabeth:

It’s a little to get sappy, but I was just thinking back on the summer we graduated. Summer of 2015. Honestly, that has so far been the greatest year of my life. I was motivated and doing things. I was routinely taking my vitamins, running outside (almost) regularly. We went on our first vacation by ourself in another state. That summer I was so happy. I took on the world that summer. We both did.

I dunno. I still am. I still can. But now, I just feel a little less motivated.

A lot less. Everything has fallen so perfectly into place, even with the hardships. I’m so thankful for everything God has done in my life. He has blessed me so much, and I know Hew will continue to do so. But now I don’t feel like I have anything to work hard for. The world has already been conquered. There is no Sherif for me to fight, no poor to give back to. Naturally, I want to si I’m lost, but I’m not. I know what God has called me to, but I don’t feel like there’s much to do if, anything to reach that now.

I’m just kind of really restless.

I want to go back to 2015 and feel that rush of excitement and success as we go down the highway in your sketch van with John Farnham and Ed Sheeran blasting through the speakers. If just for a moment, I want to feel that rush again.

~~~~

Abby:

I get that. I dearly miss that summer with all my heart. But it’s normal to feel restless. I know that’s a cliche thing to say that doesn’t help much, but it’s true. Feeling restless doesn’t mean you don’t still have adversity to face and opposition to conquer, it just means you’ve gotten used to it. You’ve gone through the training period, like in all those movies where the hero trains, and is finally ready for the battle. You’re ready now to face what’s been planned, so look forward to that. There is still so much unknown and I’m very excited to see how you excel in everything God throws at you.

No matter what age you’re at, it’s easy to feel restless. I think what my friend said applies to all of us. There is still so much unknown that God has yet to reveal to us for us to adventure into. Don’t give up.

Memories

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Memories are shifty things. They’re from your perspective and a lot of the time can’t be trusted. For example, my family has moved around a lot. We lived in the trailer, moved to Grandma’s house, went to the apartments, lived in the duplex, moved into Grandpa Willsea’s house, and then we moved into the house my family is in now. At the time we lived in the trailer, my family owned a pizza restaurant. In my memories, we lived in the pizza restaurant before we lived in the trailer. Like, I know we didn’t live in the restaurant, but I don’t ever remember being in the trailer because we were always in the restaurant. I asked my mom where we lived while we ran the pizza place, and when she told me the trailer, I didn’t believe her at first.

The whole reason I’ve been running back through all my memories is because I’m trying to find my earliest memory. Right now I think my earliest memory is from when we opened the pizza place and I went on a delivery run with my dad. It was late at night and I remember the man at the door giving me a wad of cash. (At least, that’s what my memory says happened.) I remember sitting in the car with dad and thinking all the money was mine and had been given to me. Although, now that I know my family lived in the trailer at the same time we had the restaurant, I don’t know if that really is my earliest memory.

Through doing this, I have begun to remember a lot of things I thought I had previously forgotten. It’s been fun reminiscing on all the things from my childhood until now. Even more amazing, is seeing how much God has redeemed me from my past. I remember having many anger issues growing up, but I only remember very few moments of when I was angry. I know there were many more, because I screamed and yelled my way through middle school and most of high school. The fact that I don’t remember many of those moments, I think, goes to show that my mind is healing itself and that God is redeeming me.

To think, all this started because I began watching a Turkish show that started with the main character recalling her earliest memory.

Now, let’s create some dialogue. What is your earliest memory?

么么哒!

Fruit Produced from Intentionality

The first three months of this year have seen me grow exponentially more than I did all of last year. Seeking God has never been more important. For me, it got to the point when living off of my home school Christianity wasn’t enough. I knew there was so much more of God I could be seeing, and I wasn’t. He’s a miracle-working God, so why wasn’t I seeing His miracles everyday? He’s a victorious God, so why was I not seeing victories everyday? These questions drove me to read the Bible whenever I could, and seeing my hunger, and desiring to satisfy me, God pulled a group of my friends around me so that when we were free we meet for QT (Quiet Time) and discuss Jesus together. Through this, I have not only seen God’s faithfulness and been reminded time and time again of His presence, but I have also learned that God honors intentionality.

If I had to choose a word for this year, or a phrase, it would be “Pray Intentionally.”

There was one Thursday I fasted all food. To be honest, I didn’t expect much of anything to happen. I had gone days without eating before, so I thought this was going to be easy. The only difference was, I would be reading the Bible and praying when I would normally be eating. I was intentionally giving the day, moment by moment, to God. For the most part, it was easy. Then, close to the end of the day, God dropped a word in my heart in such a way it had me in tears. It took me a couple of hours to actually process what had happened, and even now it’s not fully clear. It was amazing, and wonderful, and definitely taught me a valuable lesson on the Fear of the Lord. I’ve actually been to scared to fast again, and have come up with several excuses not to.

Since then, praying not just for myself, but also for others has become such a focal point for each of my days.

A verse I have specifically been standing on this year is:

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19(KJV)

In my Bible, under this verse, I wrote a list of needs I needed to trust God to provide for, and let me tell you, I have crossed off every single one. Just the other day, when my friends challenged me to “just expect God to move” instead of expecting a specific outcome, I opened up to this verse and said, “Alright, God. Supply for me how you see fit. I open up this box I have put you in and let you loose. Surround me, and consume my life. I expect you to be God and do the great things that you do.” The next day, I got a text from a couple in my church offering to give me a place to stay for the month of May. I hadn’t even began looking too closely for a place, and this couple just happened to remember a prayer request of mine back in January and thought to ask me about it.

I don’t know what god you pray to, but I know my God is faithful and always follows through on His promises. You can take His promises to the bank, and I promise you will reap an investment bigger than you expected.

Expect God to go big, and watch Him go bigger.

I do have a warning though. While I thoroughly believe in praying specific prayers, I highly recommend that you don’t expect specific outcomes. Your desired outcome is not always your needed outcome, and when God doesn’t “meet” that specific expectation your hopes will be dashed away and you will be afraid to expect anything of God ever again. Just expect Him to be God, to do what God does best, and allow Him to create good things for you, His very good creation. This can seem a bit redundant, but in summary, pray specifically and expect God to do what He wants in answer to your prayer.

Expect God to go big, according to His will, and watch Him go so much bigger in a way that will be better than you could have imagined.

Instead of goodbye, I will leave you with the Lord’s prayer.

Our Father which art in heave, Hallowed be they name. Thy kingdom come. They 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 temptation, but deliver us from evil: For  thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13(KJV)

Welcome to 2018

I’m not going to bother much with a recap of the year. You know most of it by now anyway. I made new friends. I lost old friends. I made even more new friends. I cried. I laughed. I learned a lot from God and my school. In the end, here I am still alive, still kicking, ready for more.

To be honest, I haven’t done much planning or vision casting for 2018. I’ve been focusing on spending time with my family and enjoying them as much as I can. My plan was to just roll with whatever comes my way, continuing to love God and grow closer to Him. Since Thanksgiving break, I just came to the conclusion that I only want God’s love and I just simply want more of Him.

Therefore, the resolutions I quickly came up with are mostly abstract and can be interpreted however an individual wants. Please feel free to join me in them if you do so desire.

1. Learn the daily act of worship.

As I was praying about this, God said, “Keeping your room clean, is a good place to start worshiping me daily.” It brought me to the question of are my actions worshiping God?

2. Pray for a specific person every month.

I got this idea from seeing a post somewhere that said to pray for my future husband for 21 days. I thought that was a good idea, but decided to take each individual month to pray for a specific person. January will be for my future husband and then February I will pray for another friend.

3. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12(KJV)

Out of this passage, I understood that for me I need to love everyone, study to be quiet, do my own business, work with my hands, and walk honestly toward everyone.

4. Chinese – I don’t necessarily know what this looks like right now, but that’s alright. I have a page idea for my bullet journal to help me learn more Chinese.

5. There is a fifth resolution, but I’m not sure what it’s suppose to be. A friend recommended I make it “To drink more tea.” I figured why not, so I’m going to try to drink more tea this year.

What are your resolutions? If you need someone to help you stick to them, just let me know. I’m here. As the cliched saying goes, this will be your best year yet. God is always with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. I’m always praying for you all, my dears.

With much, much, much love, Elizabeth from 2018, new and improved (or about to be).

‘Tis the Season–to rest

This Christmas has been the most relaxing, joyful Christmas I have experienced in a long time. There was a lot of love, a lot of family, and a lot of laughter. I got to see my Sister-in-law, and my young cousins. The food was amazing. I’ll admit that despite my gluten allergy I did eat two rolls. (Which I paid the price for at two in the morning, puking.) While underneath the Christmas tree wasn’t overflowing, we were all full (full of both love and food. Haha). Everyone was laughing, helping, and conversing in ways I have not seen my family do in years. Any bad blood that was between anyone didn’t matter. Especially when there was a three year old girl running in circles laughing for no reason.

I guess as you can tell, laughter was a huge part of yesterday. It made it seem like that whatever happened over the semester, or this whole year, just suddenly didn’t matter. I felt surrounded and loved and like I had a family and people who cared about me. It was a fun and delightful day. I am glad I was able to be home.

For Christmas I got two pairs of shoes, accessories for bullet journaling, an Amazon gift card to get a new Fitbit band and a new bullet journal, chocolate, and I honestly don’t even remember what else I got for Christmas. It doesn’t matter though. I was and am with my family. That’s all I care about.

How did your Christmas go?

I love you all! Thank you for being with me this holiday season. You all are loved and blessed, and you have blessed me in more ways than you know.

Bye bye! 再见!加油!Good luck! Fighting!

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.