Thursday, August 28, 2014

When plans change...

I thought I had it figured out. I thought I knew what was next. My Worship, Intercession, Spiritual Warfare, Evangelism (WISE) School I'm in ends mid September. I thought I was going to Washington DC for a 3 week outreach, then home for 2 weeks, then going to Uganda for 10 months. It looked like it fit perfectly, His hand was on my plans and He was opening crazy doors for me.

And then, in a matter of a week and a half, things started to fall apart. And in the course of a few hours today, my plans for the next year of my life crumbled to the ground, and God's been stirring new things in my heart.

What do you do when God changes your plans? What do you when he changes them, after you were SURE you heard his voice?

This is the place I've been at for the last week and a half.

It's a constant battle; am I going to live in the flesh, full of fear, worry, anxiety, and uncertainty? Or am I going to live in the Spirit, walking in Jesus' peace and presence, confident that He's secure even when my circumstances are not?

Sometimes my flesh wins. But lately, my Spirit's been winning. In those moments, when I don't know what to do, when the only logical thing seems to curl up on my bed and cry or let fear and uncertainty swirl through my head, I've found there's only one thing I CAN do.

I have to CHOOSE to seek Him. To seek His Presence. To press into Him, even when I don't understand. Because HE does. And in those moments, He is NEAR. Oh, so near. I think often I hear his voice the clearest in times of hardship because I'm forced to press into Him all the more.

And the words He speaks... Oh, I would die without them! They are so sweet, so tender, so gentle. Full of love and compassion, He speaks to me more tenderly than I ever imagined a Father could.

"It's okay, my daughter. Press into me. I'm here."

"Don't worry about what's next. I'm with you. Whatever you choose, I'll be right by your side."

"Take my hand! I'll lead you step by step. When you need to know what's next, I'll show you, a little at a time."

"You don't need to be afraid or overwhelmed. I'm here, and I'm not going to leave you."

"Your destination is not a country or place, it's ME."

How sweet these words are, how life-giving to my soul! He is so good, full of unfailing mercy and compassion. He doesn't scorn us because we're afraid; he takes our hand and walks with us, step by step. How wonderful He is! How beautiful His Presence!

So when those moments come, what will you do? Push him away because you think he doesn't understand or because you're just too confused? I pray you will have the courage to press into Him even more so. Because He's LONGING for you to draw near. He wants to whisper in your ear, "I'm with you. I'm never going to leave you."

So in that moment, will you let him love on you? Will you let HIM be God?

Because He's good. All the time.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Change the World?


As I listened to a song about "changing the world” this morning, I realized how commonplace this phrase has become. We see it on billboards, hear politicians talk about it, and sing songs about it. But why? What’s so significant about ‘changing the world?’
I believe it's so much deeper than actually ‘changing the world’. It’s not simply about our actions, but about our heart. Those three simple words, ‘Change the World’, pull on our heartstrings and ignite a flame often hidden or repressed within us. We hear those words, and something inside us leaps 10 feet off the ground. “Yes!” we think. “I want that!”
Because whether we admit it or not, the truth is that we all long for something more. For something more than the brand on our clothes, more than the car we drive, more than the friends that make us popular, more than the city in which we live, more than our tedious job or neverending schoolwork, more than even a relationship. Sometimes these things can make us happy or seem fulfilled for a time, but then the excitement fades, and we’re back to where we started, left feeling (perhaps even subconsciously) more empty than before.
Because ultimately, we all long for something bigger than us. We long to be significant, to do something significant. We yearn for something deep – something that will last.
And you know what? That’s not wrong. That’s not wrong thinking, and it’s definitely not wrong to yearn for that. Did you know that it’s OKAY to long for something more? Beautiful and perfect, even? Now, just to get things straight, I’m not talking about discontentment. I’m not saying discontentment is okay. (Because it’s not.) I’m talking about something entirely different here: a longing, a yearning in the depths of our soul for something more, for something significant, for something that really, truly MATTERS.
Did you know Jesus wove that desire in you when he formed you with His own hands?! See, you were MADE for more! You were MADE to be significant, to do something that lasts. And with every beat of your heart that cries for something deeper, Jesus says, “Yes! You’re so right, you’re finally getting it! I made you for so much more than that! Don’t you see, I made you for ME. I made you to live in a body that wouldn’t die. I made you to long to be loved with a love that won’t fade away with time. I made you to do things that will last through eternity!”
The thing is, we get so mixed up that we try to find that depth, that meaning, that joy in this world. Newsflash: It’s not going to happen! There is nothing – literally NOTHING in this world that can fully satisfy our hearts in the way that we so deeply long for. We weren’t made for this world!
We were made for Jesus. And it’s only in Him that our hearts can be truly satisfied. So that’s why we long to change the world. Cause it’s what we were created to do.
What are you going do TODAY that will last for eternity? With every act of love, we bring the Kingdom come. So get up. Go do it! Love one another "so long as it is today"!!
Check out Hebrews 3:13, Jude 1:20-21, 1 John. :)
Hopefully I will write more on this topic soon.
Blessings,
Elizabeth

Monday, March 10, 2014

Living by Worry?

Growing up, George Muller was one of my favorite missionary biographies to read. Why? Because He lived by faith. In other words, He trusted God. I mean REALLY trusted God. Like when he had NO food to feed the 300 kids at his orphanage for breakfast one morning. But he prays in faith, believing that God will provide for them. And out of nowhere the baker shows up and says he got up at 2 to make bread for them. And then the milkman's cart breaks down right in front of the orphanage and he gives all the milk to them!

This was not an irregular occurrence for George Muller. Hundreds of times, he would have no money or food. But he had faith. And God always provided whatever he needed.

Or take, for instance, when I went to Thailand. The orphanage we stayed at was started and run by a Christian man named Pasa Simon whose story was very similar to George Mullers' - he trusted God for everything. Like when God brought him to 3 kids in the middle of the jungle, and told him, "You will adopt them." He has no money. No land. No house. "God, if this you, please provide for us." 2 days later, 3 guys from Samaritan's Purse show up and give him $36,000 to buy the land and build a house there!

This was not an irregular occurrence for Pasa Simon, either. Hundreds of times, he would have no money or food. But he had faith. And God always provided whatever he needed, and more.

Every time I hear stories like this, it stirs my heart. I want to be like that. I want to live like that. I want to trust Him like that. I want to have faith that he will provide for me even when I have absolutely nothing. This has been a desire of my heart as long as I can remember.

I always thought I would start "living by faith" when I moved to some remote village in the middle of nowhere. But today God flipped my perspective upside down.

I came home from DTS. I thought I would get a job to earn money for more YWAM schools and/or other mission work. But it's been 4 weeks and I still don't have a job. Sure, I've had a few occasional things, but I've made less in the last 4 weeks than I normally do in 1 week.

And I'll be honest. Until this morning, I was worried. I thought I would come home and get a job. I'm doing everything I can to get a job. Why don't I have one?? What if I don't have enough money for whatever God calls me to do next? I'm home, I have time... why can't I get a job?!?!

But in the desperation, in the frantic, in the uncertainty and worry, He spoke to me in a gentle whisper. "If you want to live by faith, you can't have everything planned out or know where money or jobs are always going to come from. Living by faith doesn't start later. It starts now. Are you going to live by worry or by faith?"

My jaw dropped and I sat in silence for a few minutes, stunned. Wow. Yep, I'm sorry, God. I've been living by worry. But I'm done with that. Starting now, I'm going to live by faith. By believing that you are enough. That you satisfy. That you will provide for me. It's not really about the job or the money. It's about You.

And so I ask you, dear friends. Are you going to live by worry or live by faith?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Deep in my heart... {Our story}

New Year’s Day, 2014

I lay back on the couch and sigh, and realize how glad I am I have time just to rest. I’m still a little tired out from last night. As I lay back and relax, my mind goes back to it – New Year’s Eve, not 12 hours ago...
The crowds of people… the floating lanterns we let off… the awesome fellowship with friends… getting lost in the city together… the fireworks that nearly killed us…
It was a fun night. I do miss home a bit, though. I miss being home with my sisters and dear, dear friends that we have a sleepover with every New Years. I remember how every year we would always take time to write down memories… memories from the past year, good or bad; things we’re thankful Jesus brought about. I remember how we then always flip the paper over and write down what we hope or anticipate will happen in the coming year. It’s a way to reflect on and thank Jesus for the last year, and look forward with anticipation to what He’s going to do next.
I don’t want to let New Years pass without taking time to reflect, so even though (technically) it’s January 1st, I start reflecting on the past year. And of course the first thing I think of is YWAM – this crazy place He’s brought me to, where His Presence is so blatantly obvious, and the community is so dear, and wow – how do I even explain ywam?!?! And I reflect some more… and then it hits me.
I dreamed about doing this – almost 10 years ago.
The second year we were homeschooling, our curriculum was all about different countries of the world, their cultures, and religions. I read so many missionary biographies that year (which ironically were published by ywam), and heard so many stories of innumerable places and people who had never heard the Gospel before. Even to my 9-year-old brain, that seemed crazy. They’d NEVER heard about Jesus before?! Well, SOMEBODY’S got to tell them! How sad – how horrible – how heartbreaking – that they’re going through life, day in and day out, living and dying – without EVER hearing about Jesus! It blew my mind. And it’s not even that they chose to not follow Him – they’d never even HEARD about Him!!
And that year, Jesus began to stir something in my soul. A passion. A longing. A desire. Stronger than anything else I’d ever felt before, this seed – so small, yet so incredibly powerful and full of potential – this seed of a dream was planted by Jesus himself in the very depths of my soul.
Sometimes this seed saw the light, and my dream would grow bigger; like when our missionary friends from Indonesia would come home and tell us their stories – and my heart would explode with joy hearing about how another tribe had met The One. Or when I would read yet another missionary biography about an ordinary person who followed God to an extraordinary destiny – and I would think, “Wow. I want that to be me someday.” And in those moments, my dream grew and grew.
But I’m not perfect. And there have been times when I’ve wondered if He planted the wrong seed; like when I would talk with friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go to school, and what they wanted to major in, and they had a good, secure life in front of them – and I would just sit there, wondering what in THE WORLD I was doing choosing a life of not knowing, of uncertainty, away from the comfort of home. Or when I would think that this dream was too unattainable, too much of a cloud in the sky, something that I could never actually reach – and I tried to bury the now-small-plant of a dream growing inside my heart.
But praise God that His plans are greater than our doubts!! For though I didn’t realize it, and though I sometimes tried to bury the seed, or wonder if He had planted the wrong one – all the while, He was making it grow; even when I couldn’t see, He was watering it. And every time I tried to cover it up, it would only come bursting out even greater than before!
Like when I went to Ukraine. For two summers in a row, I traveled to Ukraine and helped run an evangelistic English Language Camp. I taught English, played games, formed relationships with the kids, directed skits, and ultimately shared the gospel - and witnessed over a hundred kids meet their Savior. I think that was when I looked down, deep into my heart, and was awed to realize that this seed had not only grown into a plant, but a precious bud was sitting on top, waiting for the right time to open. That this dream might actually become reality - because I have a God who so desperately wants to see it fulfilled. Who wants to see this seed He planted twist and turn and grow stronger and stronger and higher and higher until it becomes everything it was created to be.
And so I said yes. I said yes to moving to the top of a mountain with complete strangers; yes to giving up college and a “normal” life; yes to follow Him wherever He leads. And thus my YWAM journey began. And throughout the 3 months in Denver, He continued to grow me, and prune me, and water me, more and more.
And now I’m here. I’m living my dream. Yes, let me repeat that for you: I’M LIVING MY DREAM!!! I’m here, loving on people, being the hands and feet of Jesus to His precious children in Thailand. And you know what I’m also doing? Sharing the Gospel with those who haven’t heard.
I gaze down, into the deepest part of my soul, and I smile. A deep, joyous, contented, peaceful smile. The rose has blossomed. I’m living my dream. And it’s only just begun.
 
 
This is my story. This is Jesus' story. This is OUR story. <3 font="">
 
 
~Elizabeth

Friday, February 28, 2014

What do I say?

Sitting here, staring at a blank page, I don't know where to start. So much has happened in the last 5 months.

Do I start by explaining why an 18-year old girl would say no to college and a career and instead spend 5 months of her life on the top of a mountain in Colorado and then in 6 different cities throughout Thailand?

Do I start by sharing how much God has done in this girl's life - how He's grown her, shaped her, molded her, disciplined her, and taken her to places she never could have imagined?

Do I start by telling you about all the incredible, dear friends she's done life with 24/7 for the last 5 months, who have constantly encouraged her, supported her, and continually brought her closer to Jesus - and whom she's done the same for?

Do I start by explaining how she's witnessed the Holy Spirit work in such miraculous ways... even more than she ever dreamt about or thought possible?

Do I start by showing the precious faces of the beautiful children in the orphanage in Thailand whose passion for Jesus radiates from them like a sun in all it's brilliance?

Do I start by telling you how this girl is learning to love on anyone and everyone, whether it's socially acceptable or not, simply because her Jesus has loved her in that same radical way?

Do I start by explaining how God turned her world and her mindset upside down and revealed depths of her heart that she never knew existed, tenderly speaking love and truth over her all the while?

Do I start by attempting to describe the incredible beauty of God's Presence than she so clearly felt these last 5 months more strongly than she ever has in her entire life?

Do I start by explaining the gentle whisper of a Daddy's voice, so full of love and goodness and truth, speaking to her heart every moment of every day?

It's been 5 months of pure Jesus. I look back, and every single moment of those 5 months I see Him filling me, growing me, teaching me, shaping me. It was sheer beauty. Every day. It was also hard. And sometimes extremely painful. But in the end - it was all worth it. He was there, right by my side, every moment of every day.

I guess I'll just suffice it to say that these last 5 months of my life have been the best 5 months of my life. I've learned and grown more in these last 5 months alone than I have the rest of my life combined. And it was awesome. IS awesome. I wouldn't have traded this time for anything - ANYTHING in the world. I am blessed beyond measure. My Daddy is SO good.

*I'm hoping to find the time to write more about my time in YWAM. I really want to begin writing out some of the crazy stories of what He's done in and through me... and as I finish them, I will post them on here. No promises, but look for some crazy insane God-stories coming soon. :)

Basking in the Love of her Jesus,
Elizabeth