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.

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! 

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.

 

Home Stretch

I thought about posting on Monday, and I thought about it again on Tuesday, but nothing much had happened, so I thought I would wait until today.

Monday night I had the opportunity of talking to my Tulsa Best Friend for a few hours. We were talking through FaceTime. It was really nice seeing her. I’m glad I’ll be able to see her in person on Monday. Yesterday, I talked to my Male Best Friend for a couple hours on the phone. I miss him so much! I’m glad I get to see him next week too. I’m hoping we can all go out to IHOP on Monday and just hang out with each other. I miss everyone! *Insert like a million cry faces right here.*

This morning Father and I went and watched the movie Atomic Blonde. It was good. It wasn’t what I expected, but I enjoyed it. I was expecting it to be like a female James Bond, and while it had its similarities, it wasn’t anything like James Bond. The last scene had me slightly confused, but it did nothing to affect how much I still like and enjoyed the movie. There was a lot of language and one sex scene, so if you’re not against any of that, I encourage you to go watch it.

That was this morning. This afternoon I did some writing, and then in the evening I started packing. The library is a mess. I have both suitcases opened and an empty crate in there. I haven’t packed anything yet. I’ve been transferring stuff from my room to the library to be packed. On top of that, I haven’t even touched my clothes yet. I put my sweaters in a box, but those are the only clothes I removed from the closet.

Of all the books I moved to the library to pack, only about five of them are fiction. The rest of the books are my journals. Which, believe me, is a lot! I have too many! I know I should leave like one or two of them here at home, but I’m so attached to all of them, and I really don’t want to leave any behind. They’re my babies. (If I could insert emojis here I would. It would be like three laughing cry faces, a cry face, and one more laughing cry face.)

Tomorrow I will attempt more writing and the daunting task of packing my clothes. I’ll have to figure out what Chinese books to take with me, and which ones to leave at home. I need to decide on the pillows I’ll take back to college and there is still so much to do. I leave Sunday, so I have time, but it’s still stressful.

So far that’s all I have to say. I’ll try to update you Friday, and I’ll put up an end of summer post on Saturday. Until then.

Goodbye! 再见!加油!Fighting! Good luck!

 

Success or Fail?

This week was actually really good. I didn’t meet the goals I set…, which is horrible since I go back to college next Sunday. But I did get some writing done. I did do a little bit of reading, but not nearly as much as I should have done. After I’m done writing this, I am going to do some more editing and study some Chinese.

I found this really cool app/website called Coursera. It has a bunch of online courses available to take whenever. There are a ton of categories to choose from, and you can pay for the class or audit it. There is also some financial aid for those who can’t pay for the class.  While auditing is a great option for those who can’t pay, it does mean that there is some course work that can’t be accessed, but I still think it’s really cool. For me, someone who is super busy during the school year (and holds up a facade of business during the summer), the best part is the fact that it’s online. I can take the classes at my own pace, and learn on my time. Since I was homeschooled, I love this type of class/learning setting. It’s very comfortable to me.

It’s crazy that I’m down to my last week of summer before I go back to school, but I think I’m ready. I still feel there are some things that God is teaching me, but I know when the time comes, God will have completed the work He started in me at the beginning of the summer. One of those things, that will probably go with me into the semester, is I want to learn what it means to love God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength.

I want to be able to love God to the fullest. More and more I am learning that it means not focusing on me but on God. It’s hard, but just in the few days that I’ve been quoting Deuteronomy and praying about it, I’ve learned a lot. It’s hard to pray that, then go do something and remind yourself that it’s not for you. Everything should be done all for the glory of God.

I’m loving it though. It’s amazing just how much more joy and love pours out of us for other people as we focus on God. The more of us we give up, the more of us He fills up. I would much rather be filled with God than with myself. I’m flawed and mess things up so many times, but He is perfect. In my weakness He is made strong, and that’s all I want.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  – 2 Corinthians 12:9

If I had to sum up my summer with God (even though I still have a week left) I would use the word trust. All summer God has taught me how much I need to trust in and rely on Him. I can’t do anything without Him, and He is still teaching me that. We’ll see what I have to say about all of this next Saturday. Haha.

Well, like I said, I plan on doing some editing and studying tonight.

再见!加油!Fighting! Good luck! Good bye!

 

**All in all, I think this week was a success.