Dancing in the Rain

One of my most favorite things is the rain.

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I was jumping around in the puddles in my shoes, singing “Open the flood gates of Heaven! Let it rain!” as it continued to rain harder.

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When I got back to my room, I was dripping little puddles on my floor. I emptied everything out of my back pack, and the only things wet were a receipt and the corners of a journal! (Dude, target knows how to hook a person up.)

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My shoes looked horrible too. They were already dirty, now it looked like I bought them gray. (I’m not even sure I’m the one that bought them….)

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So I threw everything in the washer and drying, and they came out looking like they did before I jumped in any puddles. I, on the other hand, was freezing. I threw on a sweater, and began to clean up the rest of my dirty room.

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(Ignore the fact that I just stated I’m cold so I’m a wearing a sweater, but now I’m also in shorts. I think it’s a Michigan thing.)

The day was a lot of fun. I was wet for nearly all of it. I was definitely soaking wet at the end of it. Although, I did not spare a friend of mine from ending up the same way. A full out water war happened. I was talking to a few other friends, and jokingly said, “Wanna hug?” And they hugged me! I felt so loved.

This was on Wednesday.

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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.

Habits Vs. Addictions

Habits are not Addictions. Like wise, Addictions are not habits. They can not be broken or overcome in the same way. I want this to be made very clear.

“Oh, I’m so addicted to coffee!” No, you are not addicted to coffee. You just have a habit of drinking it every morning. Besides, you wouldn’t be addicted to the coffee as much as you would be addicted to the caffeine. If you go a few days without drinking coffee and start experiencing withdrawals, it’s because of the lack of caffeine that your body got used to having.

To break a habit, just don’t do whatever the habit is for roughly 21 days. Habits are mindlessly done. A habit is making a cup of coffee at six in the morning while you’re still half asleep. It’s an action you’ve done and completed so often that you don’t even have to pay too much attention to what you’re doing.  Unless you accidentally pour orange juice instead of creamer into your coffee, then you better wait a few more minutes before you make your drink.

Breaking an addiction takes focus, will power, determination, and a whole lot of forgiveness and grace from God. Although, it should also be made clear that not every addiction is a sin. You could be addicted to caffeine. It doesn’t mean you have fallen from grace and lost any chance you had at forgiveness (Honestly, you could never fall from grace. You can always be forgiven.). It just means that too much of a good thing became a bad thing.

My addiction example will be pornography, because that’s what I know.

You can break the habit of looking at pornography everyday. Yay! Good job! That’s a win. However, two weeks later of breaking the habit, the desire to look hits you in the chest like a two ton mac truck, and in your head you’re telling yourself it’s a choice, and you know you’ll feel guilty afterward, and that you really shouldn’t. This is the breaking point of an addiction. It could be two weeks after breaking the habit, two months, six months, a year. The time in between gets longer the more you choose not to look. Each time you say no, is a win. Each time you say yes, doesn’t mean you lost, it just mean you have a set back and a bigger come back to make.

It’s hard. It’s disappointing. It’s rewarding. It’s jumping for joy and texting your best friend that you didn’t look. It’s breaking down in tears at three in the morning because you failed and you hate yourself.

It’s a journey, and it’s worth taking. I don’t know what you deal with, but keep going. I believe in you. I’m so proud of you for taking steps toward being better. Read Hebrews 12. Read Romans 7 and 8. Talk to me. Talk to God. Don’t quit.

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

 

*** Shout out to my Aunt for putting down cigarettes. You’re a freaking goddess and I love you.

 

Finally. I’m doing stuff.

Be proud of me. I’m making progress. I got a new book called the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace. (There are no capitals in the title or in the book.) It is a book of poetry, and I’m in love with it. I know I’m reading like a million other books too, but I’ll finish this one quickly.

I did start studying Chinese and Spanish. Now that I have my new phone I downloaded a bunch of language apps. Most of them will help me with listening and reading. With them I can get a lot of memorizing done. They won’t necessarily help me with speaking. Therefore, I’m still looking for some tricks to help me with that.

Today was the beginning of me getting up at five in the morning and going to the gym with Uncle. I ran on the treadmill for twenty-two minutes, than did a whole body workout. I went to the gym again with Little Sister around eight-thirty/nine o’clock. We did the bike for twenty minutes, then I coached her on leg day, and did a few other exercises myself. Tomorrow is day 2. The hardest part is going to be staying awake all day or only taking a nap for an hour. Today, I accidentally slept until two in the afternoon.

As for T.V. I dedicated four days to “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.” It ended. I almost cried. Now I’ve been inspired. Next time you see me I’m going to be a professional weightlifter. Hehe. Not really, but I will work harder at the gym. Now my sister and I are watching “Bride of the Water God.” The show stars Nam Joo Hyuk. He’s one of my favorite actors and is in everything: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, Scarlet Heart, Cheese in the Trap. I love him. A new episode of the show comes out every Monday and Tuesday on DramaFever.

Alright. I love you! Now I have actual journaling to do before I go to bed. That and a devotion. Sleep is, unfortunately, real and I need it before I kick butt at the gym tomorrow. 么么哒!加油!再见!

Just. Freaking. Everything.

I AM DONE SELLING FIREWORKS.

First off, let’s celebrate that statement. While I really didn’t want to work there, God taught me a lot. He came through and proved just how faithful He really is if I only trust Him. There were so many things that happened that could not be denied as God. To add to it, last night I read Psalm 37:18-19

The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. [KJV]

This verse was comforting for me to read. With how my future is falling into place and the direction my family is going (NOT a bad direction), it’s nice to know that God will provide and be with me–with us–through everything.

There are three specific things that happened at the stand that I believe are worth documenting.

      1. I saw a car painted like a lady bug! (My nickname is BethyBug, and growing up my family always got me ladybug stuffed animals; now I’m obsessed with them.)
      2. One night, I was just there under the canopy when this truck drove by. It was late, and we were getting ready to close up, mom and I. The parking lot was nearly empty, but this truck drove by. I waved, and he waved back. THEN A CAT POPPED UP IN THE BACK WINDOW. I pointed and started screaming, and almost cried. Then he stopped the car. He got out, and brought a different cat, and she had pink nail cases on, and she was on a red leash, and her name was Cleopatra, and she was blind. AND I GOT TO HOLD HER FOR LIKE FIFTEEN MINUTES. I was so close to crying. It was beautiful. And I freaking love cats. And if you ever get me one, I will love you, and we will be best friends forever.
      3. This is the best thing out of everything that happened. I was checking this guy out and I asked, “How’s it going?” He said, “I’m fine.” Now, I thought about saying, Just fine? but I was like, nah, I don’t know him, no need to butt into his personal. So instead I asked, “How’s your fourth of July going?” (Because this was on the fourth.) He said, “It’s just like any other day.” He was so monotone, and I was like dang, I need to pray for him. As I was bagging his stuff I said, “I don’t mean to pry into your personal life, but is there anything I can pray for you about?” There was silence for maybe twenty seconds, then he said, “No, but you can pray for me right now.” So he grabbed my hand, and I prayed for him. The presence of the Holy Spirit fell in that moment, that he was shaking, I was shaking, and I was about to cry, and it seemed like he was about to cry. As I was praying I said, “Father let there be a reminder that all things work together for the good of those that love you, let there be a reminder that those who delight themselves in you, you give them the desires of their heart, and let there be a reminder that you have a good future planned for us.” I said all of that, and my thought was, Oh my gosh. Where am I going with this? He probably isn’t even a Christian. Good job. Finally I ended, “Amen.” THEN HE PRAYED FOR ME. I was like, Whoa. This is really happening. Then it got better. He started praying in tongues. It was such a beautiful moment. Then he said, “Amen,” gathered his things, and went to his car.

     

So those are the amazing things that happened.

I’ve been talking to mom about so many things too. It’s been really nice just mom and I hanging out. Kind of strengthening our relationship in a way before I leave for college again. One of the things I keep thinking about along the lines of going back to college is how unprepared and how not ready I am. However, I know God isn’t done working with me this summer. There are so many things he has planned. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.

The great things about what I told you about above, is that I had specific goals set everyday, and everyday I saw a rainbow reminding me of God’s promises. At one point, I specifically prayed that working at the firework stand wouldn’t be dull, and wouldn’t be just a job, but that it would be a ministry. He was faithful, and all he asked me to do was trust him.

As far as anything else goes, here’s the update. The rest of this week and next week, I am going to finish my last freelance project. I’ll only freelance again if I feel I need a little extra income or if I want to. After that I’ll be working on my personal project.

With Chinese, I am going to buckle down and get to memorizing words, sentences, phrases, and start speaking it more. My future boss man recommended I take an hour every day to speak only Chinese.  I want to be fabulous when I go back to college.

Health wise, things are about to get heavy. I’m going to go to the gym in the mornings with Uncle around 5:15, then again at night with Little Sister. So with Uncle, I will focus mainly on strength training. I’ll do a little cardio, a lot of weight lifting. Then when I go with Little Sister, we’ll spend about twenty minutes to a half hour doing cardio and a little time to weight lifting. When it comes to eating, I’m going to start eating more vegetables and no gluten. (Like I’m supposed to anyway.) These past two weeks I have been eating so much junk, I’m ready to cleanse my body.

Okay. 好。再见。加油!Love you! Fighting!

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