In The Waiting.

IMG_9483I am very much a Type A person. I gravitate more towards schedules, planning out things, checking things off my to-do list, especially when it comes to school things, work, tasks, or personal projects I find rather important and want to be done by a certain time.

But other times I will be much more spontaneous, more go-with-the-flow Type B kind of person, not concerned with scheduling or the details about what’s going to happen next, especially when it comes to hanging out with my friends and doing fun things.

Weird. Well, I know that you can be a mix of both. That is a thing, apparently. But one thing I know I am VERY Type A about is time.

Most of our society it seems, at least in America, is Type A about time, too.

We live in a world obsessed with instant gratification, especially in America where the fast-food industry model has permeated the business field in practically every possible way. Anything we perceive as taking too much time to come to us is considered to be less valuable, or of less importance, that you aren’t working hard enough for it, or that it’s not worth waiting for anymore because too much time was lost/spent/wasted on waiting for it already and it hasn’t happened yet.

We do not live in a patient world.
Our society does not like waiting for things we want to happen.
And honestly, neither do I.

Since I was little, time and I haven’t had the best relationship with each other.
I always seemed to lose track of it.
The passage of it and the ticking noise of the clock made me, and can still make me (but to a much lesser degree now), anxious.

When I don’t have time frames or schedules, when I don’t know when I’m expected to have things done for other people, or I don’t give myself a time frame to get things done by, I wind up kind of floating on by through life like it’s all rainbows and unicorns and sunshine and everything is fine and I have no responsibilities.

It can get bad. It has gotten bad in the past.

So, to counteract this, I’ve worked really hard at getting in the habit of scheduling things. Meticulously. Methodically. I write things down almost obsessively now so I don’t forget things I have to do. To-Do lists and planners have become close companions of mine in my efforts to keep myself accountable and steward my time well. I like knowing the near future, hourly, daily, weekly. Holding myself to time frames and expectations makes me feel more at ease, responsible, on top of things, especially since I haven’t always felt that way in the past.

Here’s the issue though.

I have subconsciously given God time frames to answer my prayers because that’s how I had gotten used to living my life. I wanted Him to work with my schedule. My plans. My time. At some point in my life, I had come to expect God to give me answers to my prayers in a timely fashion that fit in smoothly and in line with the other things I had planned for myself.
HA.
That is sooooo not the way He works.

But still, it has been what I have hoped for.

Quite honestly, it can get painful and disheartening when we end up waiting for something our hearts long for, for something we’ve been praying about for what seems like a long time. When I have waited and waited to hear an answer and He hasn’t given me one, which He has done on many, MANY occasions, I’ve ended up questioning His goodness and faithfulness, forgetting how he has answered prayers for me before, and forgetting that He is still good even when He doesn’t answer me.

Unfortunately, I have done this a lot.

Recently, I have been in my own time of waiting. I have continued to pray that God would intervene in a certain situation in my life that has been very difficult for me for months, and while I have been waiting for an answer to this prayer of mine, I found the song “Take Courage” by Kristene DiMarco (but for real if y’all haven’t listened to this song go do it now.) This song has been somewhat of an anthem for me as I’ve waited, and waited, and waited for God to do something in this situation.

Specifically, these are the lyrics from the song I’ve held onto.

Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun,
So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing”

I love these lyrics. I love this song. I love belting it out in my car, in the shower, screaming the lyrics. It has been a fight song for me as I have continued to pray over and hope for this situation to be mended by God.

It’s encouraging to be reminded that He’s in the waiting. In my waiting.

But, it’s not always easy to remember God’s faithfulness when what you’re focusing on while you’re in the waiting is the gravity of your situation, the length of time you’ve been praying for something or the fact that God hasn’t answered you yet.

One night after I felt like I had had enough, I found myself sitting in my car, exceedingly frustrated and unable to hold back the torrential stream of tears, pouring all of this out to my incredibly patient, wise and gentle mom. Through talking with her, I finally realized that I had done something that was absolutely crippling me in my walk with Jesus.

The hope I was holding onto while I have been in the waiting for God to answer this prayer of mine, where I was placing my hope……it was not in the person of Jesus…

I was placing my hope in something that quite possibly may never happen; the outcome I wanted God to make happen regarding this situation. I wanted Jesus to do something for me in my life more than I wanted to be with Jesus himself while I was in the waiting.

Whoa……

I had let the desires of my heart and what I wanted to happen regarding this situation I was facing become what I focused on, and the fear of what I wanted to happen not ever happening was dominating my thoughts, my actions, and how I pursued God. Allowing what I was hoping would happen in the situation to be what I held my hope in instead of in Jesus distracted me from where my true hope was. It was weighing me down. Crippling me.

I had chained up myself.

And I realized that the more and more I had hoped for, and actually in the possibility of what I wanted to happen regarding this situation, the more and more frustrated, discouraged, disheartened, and bitterly upset I got with God as time marched forward and what I wanted God to make happen in my life, didn’t happen.

When you’re specifically praying for one thing and God makes you wait for it to happen or you’re waiting for God to answer, continuing to pray about it and hoping for it can get tiring and feel pointless.

And I was tired, and it felt pointless.
I was tired of waiting for God to say something.
Tired of hoping for it.
Tired of praying for it.
Tired of not seeing the promises God’s spoken into my life come to fruition.
Tired of seeking after God when I wasn’t hearing anything about this situation when I thought He had told me to continue praying for it.
Tired of not seeing the point in the waiting anymore.
Tired of feeling bitter about it.
Tired of feeling frustrated about it.
Tired of feeling disheartened.
Tired of confusing a feeling with a state of being.
Tired of not knowing what else to do.
Tired of feeling tired.

And finally, I got tired of being blind to the other things God has in store for me this summer because I was focusing on the wrong dang thing.

I had forgotten Luke 9:23 – “Anyone who wants to follow me MUST PUT ASIDE HIS OWN DESIRES AND CONVENIENCES AND CARRY HIS CROSS WITH HIM EVERY DAY AND KEEP CLOSE TO ME.”

I finally realized that I was not putting aside my own desires at the feet of Jesus. I was not asking Him to help me desire only Him instead of desiring the redeeming of this situation, and in doing so, I had absolutely chained myself to something that may never happen because it might not be what God has for me, and I was blaming God for all of it.

It took me a loooong time for me to realize all of this, but you can’t rush a revelation.

When I did finally realize this, that I had been thinking about God all wrong, how I was not keeping close to Him in my waiting, and just how damaging I was being towards myself by not letting my hope in the outcome of this situation go, I couldn’t believe God was putting up with someone like me, and how much patience He must have with someone as impatient as me.

But I am His child. And a Good Good Father makes sure to take the time necessary to correct and teach His children because He loves them. And this was my time of correction, one that needed time to develop, and I’m very very thankful for that.

It was definitely not my best moment for sure. Once I finally saw what I was doing and how I had put myself in chains, I swallowed my pride, humbly repented, asked for forgiveness, and begged God to help me let this go completely, because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

I finally submitted what I wanted to happen at the feet of Jesus, and surrendered the fear I had of what I wanted to happen not happening at all.

That’s a victory.


As I’ve processed this for the past few weeks, I found out a few things I believe God had for me to learn while I’ve been in the waiting;

– Remembering where my hope is found, and who it is in, will keep me stable, secure, and steady when life around me makes no sense.

– I need to want Jesus, my Savior, first love, and my king, I need to want to know Him and His heart for me more than I want Him to answer prayers for me.

– Surrendering and letting go of our earthly desires, hopes, and the dreams we have about our lives to Him is hard, especially when it’s something we have prayed to see happen for a long time. But if/when we end up clinging to our desires and the hopes we have for them to become reality more than we want Jesus, those desires become an idol. They zap all our focus, take over our thoughts, and keep us chained to the fear that what we want to happen won’t happen.

My desire about this situation had become my idol. By holding onto what I wanted to happen, I had sidelined myself from engaging in the life God has for me. Laying down this desire at the feet of Jesus and surrendering it to him, letting this go had to happen for me to move forward with my life. It took me a long time to realize this, and God knew I needed a good amount of time to realize this, and when I finally decided to surrender what I wanted to happen at the feet of Jesus, I became free again to walk in the true freedom and the real victory that He has given me over this desire. (And that is very, very good.)

– Going through times of waiting, even though they can suck sometimes and can be the absolute last thing I want, they will help me develop patience, perseverance, and perspective, and boy do I need more of all three of those things.

– Choosing to trust Him in the waiting is hard, but what else can I do but put my trust in Him when I know He is in control of all things?

– Pursuing God even if He chooses to be silent on an issue I want clarity on will develop in me a diligence to seek Him more, to spend time with Him more, and to want to hear His voice more regardless of what He speaks to me about.

– God’s timing of things is always, always perfect, regardless of what I think.

These things were absolutely necessary for me to learn. These things took a lot of time for me to learn. God knew I needed to learn these things when I was very unaware of it, and so He gave me the time I needed to learn them.

I suspect this won’t be the last time that God will have to be reminded of some or all of these things, but I’m very thankful for His patience with me as I struggled with this process for months, and I am so thankful that God has more patience with me than I probably ever will with Him.

I’m so thankful that I’m able to appreciate being in the waiting more now because no matter what happens regarding the situation I’m praying for, God has other things for me to do in the meantime, and I want to do be able to them, not sideline myself by focusing on the wrong thing.

I’m so thankful that God is in the waiting.

I think most people would agree that God makes us wait for things we’re praying about for many reasons. We may never know the reasons He makes us wait (and real talk that’s still difficult for me to accept and be okay with sometimes). But, there is one reason I think God might have for making us wait for things that became more apparent to me during my own time of being in the waiting:

There are some things we can only learn or gain from God while we are in the waiting.

Even if it’s not what we wanted originally, if we choose to view being in the waiting for an answer to our prayers as a gift instead of a place of punishment, as a time to learn from God and lean into him, as time to let God do His refining work in us, I believe that time of waiting will end up leading us to what we need in the end, because He’s just that freaking GOOD.

When we surrender our desires to God and lay them at his feet and ask Him “What is that you want me to learn in this time?” instead of “Why is this happening?”, we open the door for God to show us something about ourselves or about Himself that He wants us to learn while we’re in the waiting.

Even if we decide to change our question, ask God the “What” instead of the “Why” question, and He still doesn’t answer, that does not mean that He doesn’t have something for us as we’re waiting.

Waiting does not have to be wasted time.

While we’re in the waiting for God to act/answer prayers, it is a time when we need to choose to worship instead of withdrawing so we keep our focus and our hopes placed firmly in Jesus.

While we’re in the waiting for God to act/answer prayers, it is a time when we need to choose to see Jesus as the Name Above All Names and the One In Control, instead of letting how we see our problems influence how we see our Savior.

If I don’t choose to focus on being with Jesus when life is rough and I’m in the waiting, if I don’t say yes to loving Jesus and pursuing Him when it makes no sense and I’d much rather crawl into bed and sleep to avoid everything, if I don’t choose to spend the time that I am in the waiting for something on seeking God just because I need God in every way, if I don’t commit to letting God continue the process of developing perseverance in me, which is very desirable by the way –

– then saying yes to God when my life is going well means nothing.

But, when I choose to say yes to God in the waiting, when I choose to say yes to God in the difficult times when it seems pointless, when I choose to say yes to God when it might make more sense to others to say no, when I choose to say yes to pressing on despite me not knowing how much time the things I’m praying for will take to come into being, when I choose to let go of my time-frame Type A expectations of God and just let God be God and let myself be the child of God I was always meant to be, I choose the life Jesus has in store for me.

Choosing to say yes to God is not always easy. Saying yes while in the waiting is definitely not always easy. It doesn’t always look like I want it to, how I would imagine it, or come about in the time frame that I would have liked.

But life with Jesus, choosing to say yes to Him, is always, always, good. Even in the waiting.

“For those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

 

 

 

From Winter to Spring.


I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons recently. Both the literal and figurative kind.

No matter how brutal the winter may be one year, everyone knows that spring is going to come afterward.

That is a fact. Spring always comes after winter.

Life always blooms again, even after snow and ice have covered everything green and good and colorful in this world ten times over and made everything look like a scarred barren wasteland, it always melts and it always heals and turns into something new.

Always.

I have been in my own wintery, cold, and stormy season for perhaps the past entire year or so of my life.

Messy, chaotic, overwhelming in a bad way, feeling like a resident of the struggle bus, and overall just plain difficult…

….but Jesus…

Despite how brutal my own winter season has been as of late, Jesus has been and still is turning my winter into spring, and will finish the good work he started in me.

He has been the only constant and consistent presence in the midst of my chaos.

Even if I still feel like literally the messiest person on the planet right now,

Even if I feel like I’ll be stuck in this season forever,

Even if I don’t see how Jesus has changed things,

that doesn’t change the fact that he HAS.

Jesus tenderly and gently reminded me that he has felt what I have felt and then some, gone what I have gone through and so much more than I ever possibly could

– and yet he was without sin.
Tempted and tried in every way I have, and yet was without sin

On top of that, he chose to find me and you in the midst of our mess, chose to be humiliated, brutalized, victimized, subjected to abuse, and allowed himself to ultimately be murdered because he didn’t want the sin in our lives causing us to be hostile towards life anymore.

That is also a fact.

Jesus died. But the tomb is empty. He is risen.

And therefore, He is someone I can trust to help me get through the storms of life.

God designed the earth so that it was impossible for it to stay in a season that was hostile towards life forever. He designed it to be revived, to experience new life, new growth, newness, after the old things had died.

Resurrection.
New life.

I have had things in my life weighing me down and making it harder to grow closer to God, and I’ve realized that the desire to grow closer to Him, become more like Him, ultimately means having to experience the refining fire of his love. To be made new and pure, sometimes you gotta let God go digging with a garden tool to get all the weeds that have grown in of your garden of a soul. You gotta let God grab them, thorns and all, and rip them out.

Having weeds getting ripped out of your life is not fun. You have to recognize that they’re there first, and then the healing process can begin. Healing can’t happen without a hurt having happened first, and once the hurt is recognized, then the next step is accepting that it happened and asking God to take over.

In the case of the depression and anxiety I personally struggled against for years, I needed to know what it was I was being healed from so I could see just how absolutely amazing and faithful He is to me. I needed to identify the roots of my weeds.

And I finally did about a month ago.
It wasn’t fun, but it was good.
And God is GOOD.

Through Jesus’ death, my sin died with him, and through his resurrection, he resurrected me to new life, even though I may not feel it all the time, he has done it.

He has pulled out the weeds that were entangling my heart, roots and thorns and all.

It is finished.

New life is coming up.

Spring has sprung indeed.

Shambly.

When people ask me how I’m doing/how I’ve been doing, or how I’m feeling, the first part of my answer recently is, “A little shambly…”

According to Merriam-Webster, shambles is place or state in which there is great   confusion, disorder or destruction

AKA: a state of messiness. Storminess.

Shambles.
Mess.
Great confusion.
Disorder.

This has been me for a while.
Constantly feeling all out of sorts, disordered, chaotic, running around all over the place, not feeling like I have enough.
Not enough time to do what I need to and what I want to.
Not enough energy.
Not enough emotional or mental capacity.
Not enough for others.
Not enough for myself.
Not enough for God.
Not enough in general.

If last semester was a great big pile of flaming dog-poop (possibly another story for another time), then the past 2 months of this semester have felt like me running around like a chicken after its head’s cut off (sorry/not sorry for the vivid or gross imagery. Life isn’t always pretty).

Starting over Christmas break and going into the beginning of this semester, I starting reading through Psalms, and I ended up reading it in its entirety twice. In doing this I found several chapters and verses that I have found to be prayers. These are prayers that can be shouted and screamed and literally cried out when the weight of the world and the problems we face in life just get too freaking hard.

And in my life recently, these have been prayers that I have clung to when I have come to the end of myself, which has happened waaaaaay to frequently for my liking.

I title these prayers as prayers of desperation; heart-cries.

These prayers are saturated and ringing with hurt, aching, longing, sorrow and frustrating.

These are prayers that people have prayed over themselves when they need to be reminded of God’s character and consistency in the midst of their own chaos.

These are prayers that other people have prayed when they have come to the end of themselves, crying out to God, desperate to see him move, and when they are questioning His faithfulness and goodness.

These aren’t prayers to be said quaintly or in a rote way in a sermon. I mean they could, but I think that would be missing the point and making these prayers less than what they are. These prayers were written at times of great distress, sorrow, depression, aching, and frustration, and so people can and have the freedom to pray them with the same kind of emotion felt by those who wrote them.

And boy have I felt the need to do that recently. Thankfully, these prayers give me the words when I am overwhelmed by my emotions (remember, I feel things pretty intensely.)

These prayers are found in

– Psalm 3                                                                      – Psalm 77:1-13

– Psalm 13                                                                    – Psalm 80:3-19

– Psalm 17                                                                    – Psalm 86:1-6, 11-17

– Psalm 19:12-14                                                         – Psalm 88:6-9, 13

– Psalm 22 (super powerful)

– Psalm 25                                                                     – Psalm 89:46-52

– Psalm 27:7-11 (this is a good one to scream)       – Psalm 90:12-17                            

–  Psalm 28:1-2                                                              – Psalm 91

– Psalm 31:1-6, 9-21                                                     – Psalm 94:14, 16-19

– Psalm 38:9-15, 17-21                                                 – Psalm 101:2-3

– Psalm 39:4-13                                                           – Psalm 102 and 103

– Psalm 40:1-3, 11-13, 17 (this is a promise you can say over your life in this way – I will wait patiently for you to help me God: for I know you will listen and hear my cry. I know you will lift me out of the pit of despair, out of the bog and the mire, etc.)

– Psalm 42:4-11                                                           – Psalm 105 (not necessarily a prayer but good one to read if you’re struggling with remembering God’s faithfulness.

– Psalm 43:5

– Psalm 44:23-26                                   – Psalm 107:3-7, 9, 29, 35-38, 41-43

– Psalm 51                                                                  – Psalm 109:21-28

– Psalm 55:1-2, 4-8, 16-19                                        – Psalm 116

– Psalm 56: 3-4, 8-13                                                  – Psalm 118:5-9

– Psalm 57:1-3                                                             – ALL of Psalm 119

– Psalm 59:16                                                              – Psalm 121

– Psalm 61                                                                   – Psalm 126:5-6

– Psalm 66:10-20                                                        – Psalm 130:1-6

– Psalm 69:1-3, 13-19                                                – Psalm 139:23

– Psalm 70                                                                  – Psalm 139:23

– Psalm 71:1-6, 14-24                                                – Psalm 141:1-2

– Psalm 73:17-28                                                       – Psalm 142

– Psalm 74:1-2, 19-22                                                – Psalm 145:14-20

 

So, what am I getting at here? I didn’t just list a bunch of places in Psalms with heartfelt prayers for no reason, so bare with me.

Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this life, you will have troubles…”

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Yep. Accurate. Very very very very accurate.

This semester alone:

– I lost my job unexpectedly, and have been unemployed for over a month despite my numerous efforts.

– Because I don’t have a job I don’t have money coming in to help me pay for my mission trip I’m taking this summer, so that’s extremely stressful.

– A dearly loved family member that will need surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in their kidney, after having lost their other kidney because of a cancerous tumor 10 years ago (which I literally just found out about both of those things a week ago)

– There is a situation between me and another person in my college ministry that hasn’t been resolved yet after 5 months, which has been really really painful. This is an incredibly complicated situation that I can’t even begin to unpack, so for all of you prayer warriors out there please keep me in mind and pray for reconciliation between me and this other person.

– School has been a whole new breed of stressful all on its own

– AND NOW, ON TOP OF ALL OF THAT, people I know well and have done life with for a while now, have hurt me in a way I never thought they would and in a way I know they never intended to.

So, yeah, shambly. Very shambly.

BUT

And this is very important people.

IN THAT SAME sentence in John 16:33, Jesus also says, “…but take heart, for I have overcome the world!”

This is why the second part of my answer to that question of “How are you/how’ve you been?” is “…but God is good.”

This is why I can say that second part of my answer.

Jesus didn’t finish his statement with a “Life’s gonna suck” message. He didn’t just say, “In this life, you will have troubles. End of story. So have fun with that!”

I think he’s saying,

“Hey, life won’t be easy, you know life’s not easy, but you won’t have to and don’t need to dwell on it because I have overcome whatever troubles you may face today, tomorrow, and in the future. So hope in me, because whatever you do end up facing in life – I’ve already defeated it.

This is why the second part of my answer to that question of “How are you/how’ve you been?” is “…but God is good.”

I don’t always see it, but I always say it because I want to remind myself of this truth. Honestly, it’s really hard for me to believe that God is for me sometimes.

But all of those Psalms give me hope.
They give me words to pray, and they comfort me by showing me that there were people in situations that were way more extreme than mine probably ever will, but that God still showed up for them. So I know he can, and will, show up for me, too.

In James 1:2-4 it says,

“Is your life full of difficulties and temptations?…”  

Difficulties in my life? HA. Check. The temptation to grow hopeless, despair, and be bitter at God? Yep, check.

“…Then be happy, – ”

WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WHAT? Come again??

“…for when the way is rough your patience has a change to grow…”

I guess that’s a good thing…

…So LET IT GROW…”

Okay, okay, but I don’t know how to do that God, so how do I do that?

“…don’t try to squirm out of your problems…”

Oh….

“For when your patience is finally in full bloom,

then

            you, Liv,

not just other people,

BUT YOU,

will be ready for ANYTHING,

STRONG in character,

FULL and COMPLETE.”

Patience is something that many people have told me recently that they felt God was highlighting to me, something that Jesus wants me to learn from him and lean into him for more of it, and I can’t deny it, I think they’re right.

It’s pretty clear that all of these things going on in my life which seem like a giant pile of suck are there not because Jesus likes to watch me squirm underneath the weight of my problems (that is not who God is).

The problems I’m facing are there because Jesus wants me to learn how to grow in patience, to trust that his provision will show up in his perfect timing. 

I want to be ready for anything, but I can’t be ready to endure the kinds of suffering that Paul or Timothy or Barnabas or other early Christians endured for the sake of the Gospel if my patience for suffering isn’t even developed to handle the problems I have now.

So, I’m going to stop trying to squirm out of my problems. It’s tiring trying to do that anyway. I know I can’t fix my problems through my own strength, and I know I’m not going to produce more patience by trying to get of my difficulties. Trying to get out of difficulties is immature, energy depleting, and won’t help me, or you, in the long haul.

So God, thanks. Thank you for the problems in my life, because they show me how much I need you. Yeah they suck big time and I don’t always feel thankful for them, but I know you’re at work in the midst of them, and I trust that.

Patience is a virtue and is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And because I have the Holy Spirit in my life, I know that this fruit is growing in me, little by little, day by day, problem by problem.

Growing is hard and comes with growing pains, but once the process is done, I’ll be in full bloom. And I can wait to see what I’ll look like by the end of this season because right now, I’m choosing to live day by day, because tomorrow’s got enough of its own problems.

 

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Feelings are Fickle. God is Good.

“God…I am just not feeling it today…

I can’t remember exactly when this thought ran through my head, which I subsequently said out loud to Jesus as I was driving in my car, but I know it was after I had been at a prayer meeting, or maybe it was a college service, or something else church related…

Anyway, it was after I had been trying to get into the presence of God for the umpteenth time, just trying to be with Him, just trying to feel something other than the gigantic, garbage-bag-of-a-mess I’ve felt like lately –

– And not feeling it. Not feeling his presence, not feeling loved, not feeling secure, not feeling it. At all.  – and it sucked.

God…I am just not feeling it today…

Before I continue with what happened after I thought this, I need to give you some background on me.

I am a feeler. A really, deep feeler.
I am an emotive person, and I am an emotional person.
And I am confident that God made me this way, however, it’s not always fun.

There are some emotions that I have felt, and, on occasion, still feel, so strongly it’s practically a miracle I haven’t imploded from just how intensely I’ve felt some of them – just ask my parents or my sister or my best friend, they’d probably agree with me.

Anyway, something God has been showing me recently is that a lot of the time my walk with Him has been heavily influenced by my emotions.

He’s shown me that what I have thought about Him, how I have experienced His presence, what I have believed about His consistency, goodness, and faithfulness in my life, have all been influenced by my emotions, so much so, that I have believed this very deceiving lie:

that the emotions I feel reflect what God thinks of me and how He feels towards me.

This has looked like;

– Me feeling disappointed and thinking that God was disappointed in me for wanting what it was I wanted, that God was disappointed in me for hoping for/in the wrong thing and not figuring it out until it was too late.

– Me feeling angry with myself and thinking that God was angry with me

– Me feeling shame and thinking that God was ashamed of me

– Me feeling loved and thinking that God loved me – BUT AT THE SAME TIME subconsciously thinking that the love I felt was conditional and that would fade the minute I did something wrongwhich, by the way, IS THE SPIRIT OF ANXIETY AND PARANOIA, PEOPLE.

– Me feeling the deeeeeeeep ache of the depression and the violent turbulence of the anxiety that I struggled against for years, and thinking that because I felt that way that God had abandoned me and given up on me, that God thought I wasn’t worth pursuing anymore because I felt depressed, alone, and anxious over ridiculous things that (at the time I didn’t know but I now realize) literally had no bearing on my life whatsoever. That because of my emotions, it was too difficult, exhausting, and useless for God to even try to do a good work in me. That because of how messy I was and my inability to do anything on my own that God was fed up with me, that I had finally done the thing that would convince Him to leave me, that He thought it was a waste of time to keep working in me because I was still struggling with the same stupid stuff all freaking over again.

WOW.

Lies. Lies, lies, lies, all LIES.

The enemy has been feeding me these for years. And it’s only recently that I realized how long this has been going on, how long I have been believing them, and how silly I have been for believing them as long as I have.

BUT (and here’s the glorious giddy-kind-of-laughter inducing FACT about following God)

God is not disappointed with me, mad at me, or upset with me for having believed these lies for so long.

He has grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace

Which brings me back to what happened in my car the other day….

God…I am just not feeling it today…

Almost immediately after this thought came into my head and said it out loud did another thought come into my head –

But that doesn’t mean I’m not here, Liv. Just because you don’t ‘feel’ me doesn’t mean I’m far from you. I’m right here, with you. WITH YOU. You know why? Because I love you. I’m crazy about YOU. Even if you don’t ‘feel’ me or my presence, or ‘feel’ what you think you should when you worship me or experience my presence in the ways you see other people experiencing me, that does not mean I’m not with you, that does not mean I don’t love you or that I love you less for feeling the way you do.”

Emotions are not bad, people. God has emotions. God gave us emotions.

It’s how we respond to them, how we choose to act on them (if at all), and where the thought behind them is coming from that is important.

            “Just because I “feel” an emotion does not mean that the thought behind it is true”1

THANK YOU LORD FOR THIS REVELATION.

I want to be a woman who considers it all joy when I encounter trials of any kind,

and I know I can be BECAUSE OF GOD.

I want to be a woman who really asks with unshakable faith, not doubting that God will answer me so that I am not one who’s mind and emotions are tossed about like the waves of the sea.

and I know I can be BECAUSE OF GOD.

So, as a result of this finally getting through to my heart, I have determined to repeat this to myself UNTIL I TRULY BELIEVE IT, especially when I have moments where I’m feeling overwhelmed by my emotions (I encourage you to do the same (: )

– The emotions you DO or DO NOT feel DO NOT define you, your walk with God, or what God thinks of you. Period.

Your emotions do not have control over you, define you, or have the power to create chaos in your life.

You know why??!

Because God defines you.

God holds you and every little bit of you and your life together.

God understands emotions, and He is not surprised by, put off by, afraid of, or incapable of handling the intensity of yours.

God creates order out of the messiness of life and the messiness of our emotions. Even if we do not see it right away, He promises that it will happen, and

He. Follows. Through. On. His. Promises.

Always.

FOR THE LORD GOD SAYS,

I am with you and you, and I will protect you wherever you go…I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you. (Gen 28:15)

Fear not, for I am with you: Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Remain confident of this Liv (or insert your name here): You will see My goodness in the land of the living. Wait for Me; be strong and take heart and wait for Me. (Psalm 27:13-14)

 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But TAKE HEART, because I have OVERCOME the world. (John 16:33)

When [NOT IF, BUT WHEN] you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and WHEN [NOT IF, BUT WHEN] you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you When [NOT IF, BUT WHEN] you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

Thank you Jesus. Thank you thank you thank you.

 

 

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  1. Healing Negative Emotions devotional on the YouVersion Bible App by Kimberly Taylor from takebackyourtemple.com.
  2. Note: All capitalized, bolded, italicized, and [inserts] in featured scripture verses were added by me.
  3. Songs for this post: God of Miracles by Springs Church Worship, I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus) by Daniel Bashta, Mercy by Amanda Cook.

A New Chapter.

I came to a big realization pretty recently: I discredit myself.

Here’s what I mean;

I’ve found it hard to show that I am proud of things I can do, things I create, because I tend to think others will view me as being prideful or arrogant for saying what I can do or showing that I’m able to do something well, or, God forbid, that I’ll start to get a big head in the process of just sharing in what I’m good at with the world.

Here are the facts.

I am good at singing. Like I’m actually good at singing.

– I sang all throughout elementary, junior high and high school, a high school   choir kid if there ever was one, took vocal lessons for over 6 years and was classically trained by two incredible voice coaches, one who happens to be an opera singer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, was going to pursue Music Ed and Vocal Performance as a career until God completely changed my mind (that’s another story for a different time), and I’ll be auditioning for my church’s worship team pretty soon (which I’m really excited about!!)

I’m good at writing.

– I have two poems published in an online student publication, I’m working on a poetry book that is currently 83 pages long, and I performed slam poetry at an open mic night in from of European strangers while studying abroad.

But I tend to think that people will think me boastful or prideful for showing and sharing what I’m good at with the world. I’m not good at giving myself credit for what I’m capable of doing.

I have been self-deprecating for a long, long time.

And it’s not like…being humble, honestly. It’s feeling unable to say or do what you know yourself to be good at.

And I realized that it’s because whenever I tried to share things that I know I’m good at in the past, people have shut me down, criticized me, told me that I’m not good enough, or that I should engage in my talents, but quietly and without any fanfare.

BUT,

I have chosen to not care anymore what people think.

I want to be proud of the things I create, and I will show it.

I will claim the talents that God has given me, engage in them, share them with the world, not be ashamed or bashful about them and give God the glory for those gifts if I get recognition for the things I’ve created – not myself.

So look out world – Liv’s coming for ya. Get ready.IMG_4695

 

 

 

You Are

I want to preface this by saying that I don’t always share my poetry, but there have been some words floating around in my head for sometime now that I can’t seem to shake, so I’ve decided to write them down and share them because they feel like the kind of words that other people might want to read, may even need to read. So here we go.

You Are

You Are
breathing,
something we often take for granted
exhaling what you don’t need
which is useful to something else
exchanging sustenance for sustenance
a polite and mutual transaction

You Are
skin,
layers of a story years in the making
bumps and scrapes and bruises
and scars
no longer able to be seen,
sometimes still able to be felt,
sometimes still too fresh to ignore
and sometimes painful in a way that makes breathing hard
but
you are
breathing,
something we often take for granted

You Are
color,
a multitude of hues
various shades of reds and blues
that run through your veins
making the insides of you
look like a moving picture,
fueled by the intake of other colors,
that get their own fuel
by that exhalation of what you didn’t need
and then,
they get broken down,
to supply
to restore
to build into that story of yours
layer by layer
that has been years in the making
and it’s all because
you are
breathing,
something we often take for granted.

You Are
bone,
a collection that formed a beautiful masterpiece,
some parts of which are stronger than concrete,
which should make breaking one nearly impossible,
but somehow
it happens anyway
and the worst part
about a broken bone is
not knowing
how much time it will take to heal
and wondering
what that time could have been spent on
but that wondering can lead to time spent on
realizing that you’re not the author
of that story of yours
years in the making
fueled by those colors
created by that polite and mutual transaction
that started when
you began
breathing,
something we often take for granted.

You are
breathing,
You are
skin,
You are
color,
You are
bone,
You are
sound,
beauty,
strength,
and love

You are
You are
You are,

So be.

Engage

So, here I am, coffee in hand, music playing, looking at these two little boys that I have no relation to, but I love them so fiercely. I love the way they play. I love their imagination, their creativity, their curiosity…it’s incredible. If being a parent feels like this, being tired, playful, and frantic all at the same, then I’m excited for the day when I could have my own kids.

I also have so much more respect, admiration, and appreciation for my own mom.

Spending 8 hours a day, three days a week with these two little rascals is so eye opening to what she must have done while she was a stay at home mom when my sister and I when we were this age. What a handful we must have been.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to engage kids. I keep asking my parents for ideas of things to do because I keep running out of my own. I even created a Pinterest page in the hopes that other people would have ideas on how to spend extended amounts of time with kids this young. I’ve also been thinking back to when I was a small group leader for a group of 3 year olds at my church and what the staff had planned activity wise; Dress up, coloring, reading books, playing with blocks, legos, trains, the whole 9 yards. The only glitch in my situation is that the parents have packed up a bunch of their toys because they are in the process of moving, so I’m at a slight disadvantage. I have no idea how Elementary school teachers do this everyday. Haha. Oh well…

Since coming home from school, I haven’t spent as much time in my bible as I would like. I’ve been nannying a lot, and just recently started working at a second-hand retail store when I’m not nannying or playing Ultimate Frisbee with my dad through a summer league (which by the way is awesome!!). I realized that the free time I’ve had so far I’ve spent doing things things like crafting, watching Criminal Minds obsessively, reading my Jane Austin book…

But I haven’t spent it with God.

I realized sitting in my basement the other day while I was watching Criminal Minds, again, that, while everything I’ve done in my free time so far have been fine things to do, but perhaps the enemy has been using these things to keep me occupied and away from meditating on God’s word. I’ll admit, I was surprised at the thought. It seemed so weird to think that I could be so easily distracted by the enemy, that I was almost as distractible as the 3 year old I watch… my jaw fell open as the show continued to play on the TV screen.

I really don’t have that much free time this summer with everything that I’m doing already. But the time I do have, I want to make sure that from now on I spend it with God first. I want to be more intentional about what I engage myself in, and make sure that what I do is spiritually engaging before I give my attention and energy towards things that aren’t. As good as I have become with time management, I still have work to do regarding how intentional I am in reserving time for growth with God.

I am so thankful that He has been so patient with me as I have been absent in our relationship. He has never left, but I have grown distant, and I’m so thankful that He speaks to me, and that I hear Him when He does.