Here’s to Life

You know, life is kinda funny. So many things happen that you never expect. Sometimes those things are wonderful surprises; sometimes they’re not so wonderful. I’ve had several of those moments in the last few years. I couldn’t be more thankful for the pleasant surprises; however, I find myself still struggling with the not-so-great ones. To be honest, I had a minor breakdown about a few of them last night, even though it’s been over a year since they happened. I don’t know. I guess that’s just the way it goes.

Yesterday, I got into grad school, so last night my friends and I went out to celebrate. We ended up not staying out for long, and it was really more of a hangout than a celebration, but that was alright. It was more my roommate’s idea, anyway, so I was pretty chill about whatever happened. Well, after we left the restaurant, I was in the mood for a walk, so my roommate, our neighbor, and I walked down to the Pylons, which is pretty much my favorite place on Virginia Tech’s campus. The only problem was that the Pylons also remind me of one of those unpleasant surprises from the last few years, and the emotional backlash from that surprise hit me full force last night, so instead of a celebration, I got tears.

In that moment, I realized I hadn’t dealt with the situation nor its consequences at all, so every reaction to it had been bottled up inside. Last night was apparently the night to get it out. Of course, facing that unexpected and upsetting surprise led me to voice another not-so-great surprise that had everything to do with me and how my undergraduate career did not, in any way, go – or especially end – the way I expected or wanted it to. Despite getting into grad school, last night I still felt disappointed in myself. I felt like a mess-up, and the sad part is that today I still kinda do.

However, I am stepping into a completely new chapter of my life, and I refuse to let my past mistakes and downfalls define me or my future. Yes, I have a messy past that reads more like a warzone than a transcript, but that’s okay. I got through it, and it’s a part of me now. What good does it do to linger in the past? Sure, I’m a little broken and bruised. Sure, I’m cover in scars, both inside and out. But, you know what’s I’m stronger for it.

So, here’s to new schools and new expectations. Here’s to a new chapter and a brand new road to travel. Here’s to all the good things in life that even the unpleasant surprises heled bring. Here’s to keeping on keeping on. But, most of all…

Here’s to life.

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Who Am I in Christ?

I am a daughter.

I am a seeker of souls.

I am a child still learning how to fully depend on my always dependable, always faithful, always present father – my Protector, my Leader, El Shaddai.

I am an imperfect person constantly humbling myself before my ruler who is forever thankful for the forgiving love of my Father.

I am an OVERCOMER of fear and life’s distractions who will no longer allow the business of my everyday world suffocate my walk in my faith and my calling.

I am a FIGHTER for my soul, a WARRIOR who will not give up, will not give in, will not surrender when the world tries to knock me down and knock me out. I will NOT be KO’d!

I will renew my identity as a writer of words to reach, teach, and motivate a generation of souls to follow Christ as I revive the calling my God placed on my life.

This is MY breakthrough.pj442try5pn169p-cropped

#breakthroughmovement #NCbreakthrough2015

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Taking a Breath in the Face of Beauty – The Wonder of God’s Love

Daily I struggle with keeping my eyes up to heaven instead of getting dragged down into the darkness of the world. If I’m being honest, lately I’ve been failing – a lot. With all the violence and fear and doubt and distrust – pretty much everything – that’s going on in the world these days, I’m sure we all having a hard time seeing the bright side of the picture – and that’s not even thinking about any of our personal struggles. I’ve actually found myself so caught up in my own trials that I’ve barely had the energy or the motivation to expand my vision to worry about everything else. I realize how selfish that sounds because it is selfish. My focus should not be on me, but how can I do anything for anyone else when I can barely do the simplest things for myself? Am I failing as a Christian – as a human being – by not holding up my end of the bargain of living?

These are the thoughts that have been constantly racing through my mind for weeks if not months. I’ve panicked and cried, yelled and screamed, felt like I was going completely crazy. I’m still not sure I’m not. For weeks, I haven’t taken even a moment to stop and breathe. Then, last night I walked outside because I left my water bottle in my car. I walked down the sidewalk, completely focused on my task. It was 2’o’clock in the morning, and I was just ready for bed, but then I looked up and saw the moon.

It wasn’t quite full, but it was only a sliver away. There were a few wisps of clouds drifting around its face, but otherwise the sky was clear, and the air was cool but comfortable – perfect. Suddenly, all my troubles faded away, and I could do nothing but take in the beauty of the moment that God had created – just for me, it felt. In that moment, all my worry disappeared and I soaked in the wonder of His love and glory. The king of heart and master of my soul is an artist with no comparison. The strokes of his brush surround us with a beauty we so often completely ignore or just forget to look for in the craziness of our everyday lives.

All too frequently I forget that looking for that beauty is what keeps me sane because that beauty is a constant reminder of God’s love for me, and I don’t know about you, but – believe me – I need to be reminded a lot.

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On This Day, My Grandma Died… And Yet, I Will Rejoice.

And heavenward she will fly,
to her great home in the sky.
On earth we see her go, and cheer to see her smile so,
but with heavy hearts we say farewell,
and pray that we will see her there.

Today, the Lord called His warrior home to walk the streets of gold.
She traded pain and sorrow here for an eternity with her Saviour there.
I cannot imagine a better place, for the joy and peace of seeing His face.

While those she left behind may cry, remember:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”

– – –

GrandmaLove

Grandma Love, July 2010

This is probably my favorite picture of my grandma. Not so much because it captures her personality (because, believe me, it doesn’t come close – no picture could) but because it just screams to be blown up on a large canvas, given an extravagant frame, and hung over some super fancy fireplace.

I love my grandma, and I will forever cherish every memory of her and my time with her. While her physical body is gone, her spirit surely lives on in each of her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. There was a light in her that could not be extinguished, even on some of her hardest days. Receiving the call from my dad earlier today was not easy, but I know she’s resting easy now. I thank God for removing her pain. I’ll miss her, and I’ll mourn that she’s gone, but I know I cannot help but rejoice that she’s finally going home and resting easy.

For now, I’ll just pray:

“Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!”


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Prayer and Overcoming the Poisoned Heart

Tonight, God told me to pray for my ex, who was the last person I wanted to pray for. Even though he wouldn’t know it was happening, even though we’re supposed to pray for everybody, I did NOT want to do it. I couldn’t even get words out. I wanted to argue with God, tell him there was no way I was doing that, my ex didn’t deserve it… But no, still God told me to pray – not just for my ex but for his fiancee, too.
The struggle was beyond real. I was like a dog on a leash who really, really, REALLY did not want to go where it was being led. I pulled back on God so hard. Surely there was no way he expected me to pray for my ex. On top of that, he expected me to pray for the girl who came after me? No way, Jose!
When that pull from God didn’t let up, there was nothing I could do, but the words just would not come. I was still resisting. All I could say was “Please, God, help me,” and he did. Somehow, I managed to pray for both of them, and not just them individually but also as a couple. I have never prayed a more difficult prayer.
The thing is, I learned more about myself through God pulling me to pray for them than the actual act of prayer helped anyone else. Being faced with that command, I discovered just how much hate I had been harboring in my heart for him and her and for the whole situation. I realized how it was like I was holding poison in my heart. It was eating away at me and breaking me down slowly the more I held on to it. By telling me to pray for my ex and his fiancee, I was forced to surrender the dark presence of resentment and hatred I held for them in order to fulfill God’s will.
See, sometimes, when God asks us to pray for someone, we learn more about ourselves than anything. Sometimes, he asks us to pray for the last person we want to pray for because we need to face whatever it is that has made us not want to pray for them, whether it be fear, hatred, jealousy – whatever.
So, I challenge you to add someone to your prayer list that you don’t particularly want to pray for, for whatever reason. Make yourself face the issue daily and, instead of fueling the fire of whatever you’re holding against them, lift them up to God as you lift up your friends and family. Challenge yourself to overcome, and when you fell like you can’t ask for help. The Lord still help you overcome any grudge to treat a fellow person with love as we have been called to do.

In time, I’m hoping I can say my heart is free of these negative and destructive feelings I have towards my ex. Until then (and even after), I will make a point to lift him and his significant other up in prayer, no matter how tough it may be.

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Homework, Call Times, and Class: Desperate to Do ‘Me’ Again.

Every day it seems something is added on to all this work I still have to do, and every time I question how on earth I’m going to get it all done. Truth be told, I still have no idea how I’m going to manage, IF I’m going to manage. That’s a very important ‘if’…
It’s nearing the end of the semester, and do I want to do schoolwork? No, I don’t. I want to write for me, not for papers. I want to work in a theatre doing the things that I absolutely love, the things I would love to spend the rest of my life doing. I want to take the time to go for a walk and not care where I go or how long it takes me to get there. I want to find some beautiful place under a tree to read a book that I want to read and not have to rush through it. I want to be back to living my life for me and not the academic system.
Maybe one of these days I’ll realize that things really are going the way they need to go, but until then I’ll push on through every day and dream of the day things finally get better.

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The Death of Fred Phelps: My Thoughts.

I’ve had to think about this a lot sinFred Phelpsce the news broke about Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps’ death. I’ll admit that, like many others, there was a part of me that was somewhat relieved at his departure; however, I quickly felt the guilt of that near joy.

As despicable a man as we can judge (because we totally have that power…) Fred Phelps to have been, some facts remain:

  • He was a husband, and I’m sure his wife is hurting with an indescribable grief at the loss of the man she loves.
  • He was a father, and while I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to lose my dad, I’m sure his children are grieving at the loss of the man who raised them.
  • He was somebody’s friend. Unfortunately, the loss of a friend is a sorrow I am familiar with, and it’s a heartache that never fades.

My heart and prayers go out to all who loved Fred Phelps and are hurting in wake of his passing.

But, most of all, one fact remains:

  • Fred Phelps was a man, just like any other man on this earth. Regardless of actions, he was just like you and me: human. The loss of one is a loss to us all, and I cannot go without acknowledging the passing of a life.

So, I plead that we move past the life Fred Phelps led and the controversy around it. I do not support his stand in any way, shape, or form, but the fact remains that his beliefs and his actions are not ours to judge.

Read Matt. 5:43-48:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We are called to love our fellow man, no matter what. That means no matter who they are and no matter what they have done. Even in times of persecution – maybe especially then –  we are called to love our persecutors. That is how we show ourselves as children of God. If we do not show love, we do not know God (Read 1 John 4:8). Celebrating Fred Phelps’ death and calling for what boils down to petty revenge (i.e. picketing his funeral) is not going to help anything. Hate begets only more hate. What good does it do to lower yourself to the actions of the persecutor, the actions you so vehemently opposed when they were against you?

Personally, I think it’s time to display the love that has thus far failed to shine.

Best,
Liz

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“How He Loves”: Stepping out with a song.

Okay, so terrifying moment here…

I’ll go ahead and say that I usually don’t sing in public, but every now and then something pushes me to sing publicly. A couple of times it’s been at church. A few other times I’ve – *gulp* – posted a video to YouTube. Crazy, right? I guess there’s no questioning what that “something” is that pushes me. I know. It’s none other than my mighty Father above, the One, the Only: God.

Under normal circumstances, I would never in a million years do this, but I refuse to shy away from a call. I said I was stepping out of my comfort zone. Well, here I am, singing for His glory. I only pray that the message touches you, too.

God’s love never fails. He loves us in a way none of us can understand. His love and His grace run deeper than any of us can fathom. Think about it: He is jealous of us, even though next to His perfection we should be nothing to desire. He still gets jealous of our attention. Why? Because He loves us so much. Through all our mistakes, through all our hardships, He loves each and every one of us. The extent of His love is boundless. I’m amazed by it. I’m amazed that He loves me at all after all the times I’ve messed up, all the times I’ve failed Him, all the times I’ve run away… but He does still love me, and I promise He still loves you no matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’ve been through. No matter what – He loves you.

With love,
Liz

Song credits go to the David Crowder Band.

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There Are Times…

There are times I can’t feel His presence.
There are times I can’t see Him working in my life.
There are times I want to cry out:
“God, where are you? Why have you left me here to deal with this alone?”
There are times I question my calling:
“God, why did you ever think I could do this? There must be someone else.”
There are times I struggle with what I know to be true and what I see.
There are times I want to give up, drop everything, and walk away:
“God, what’s the point? I’m not strong enough for this.”

In the times I can’t feel His presence,
He reminds me that He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Deut. 31:6)
In the times I can’t see Him working,
He reminds me that all things work together for my good. (Rom. 8:28)
In the times I want to cry out,
He reminds me that, in those moments, He carries me. (2 Cor. 12:9; Ps. 68:19)
In the times I question my calling,
He reminds me that as He was with Moses, so also will He be with me. (Josh. 1:5)
In the times I struggle with my faith,
He reminds me that the reward for my belief is greater than my doubt. (1 Pet. 1:8-9)
In the times I feel like giving up,
He reminds me that it is in my weakness that He is strong. (2 Cor. 12:9)

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Gravity

Lost in space,
floating freely – silently.
Unable to touch down,
feel grounded.

Nothing makes sense in the abyss of life
without some amount of gravity.

Gravity gives a place to stand, a place to start.
You cannot reach the end if you cannot find the beginning.

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