Every Day Can Be A Blessing

I don’t like Thursdays. I’m not sure if it is just my “end of the week attitude” or the general vibe of the Thursday customers at the store where I work or perhaps both which make me dread the day. Either way, I usually end up drained and wishing for Sunday.

Tuesday’s are usually my day off. Wednesday’s are my favourite, Fridays are a breeze, and Saturdays are short. And my once-dreaded-during-school-days-Mondays are actually quite lovely. But I hate Thursdays at the store.

Except for today. Even though I went into the morning like it was a battle ground, I came out at 5:00 feeling like I’d tasted a piece of Heaven.

After a hard week, in which my day off had not yet appeared, and customers had been stealing and bargaining right and left, a new air entered my little Thrift Store. Suddenly, everyone was incredibly nice. The customers were sweet to me and I could once again naturally be sweet to them without having to fake it. No one tried to bargain or steal. When I asked for people’s bags, they easily complied or left the store. No one gave me trouble. I enjoyed many friendly conversations with customers and felt satisfied in my work. A splendid, beautiful joy pervaded my space behind the till and somehow, I found richness in the ordinary, mundane, and often difficult work of a cashier once again.

And as I thought about it, marveling in the glorious day that had been so opposite to past Thursdays, I remembered the power of prayer. That God will bless us as He sees fit and that joy is often a choice between a smile and a grumble. Yes, there are bad days, but that doesn’t mean that today can’t be a blessing, at least in some way.

Tomorrow, I have a day off. I’m hoping for a blessed day, relaxing and doing my favourite things.

But I’m looking forward to Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I’m remembering that I’ll probably have to work next Thursday. And even though I’ll have sore feet and a somewhat drained spirit at the end of each work day, there will be blessings.

Blessings like cute dishes that remind you of your childhood or a customer who speaks Spanish or fresh coffee on your break. Blessings like a cousin who teaches you her songs after camp and a mom who makes you lunches and fills up your water bottle.

These are the little things; this life is mundane. But these small things are what make up life–at least, they make up mine. So don’t let them pass you by.

Remember: any day–and every day–can be a blessings.

The Dreams That You Used To Dream

I have a dream. Well, don’t we all? Actually, I have many dreams. Some of them from childhood, others from yesterday or today, and still there are more that I’m sure will come tomorrow. I want so much out of life. So much.

There is this one dream, in particular, that I have always, always wanted. A lot of my dreams come and go, but this one has always remained. Except one day, I decided that I couldn’t have it. My dream died. I stashed it away in a corner somewhere and decided not to think about it because dreams don’t always come true so there is no use getting your hopes up.

What was this dream? To get married. Yes, get  married. I’ve always, always wanted that. A home, a husband, a family. I’ve wanted many other things and I still do want them, but not as much as this. Except, somewhere along the lines I decided that I wasn’t good enough…or rather, God wasn’t good enough.

When I was eleven, I told myself that I shouldn’t expect too much out of life. That way, when things didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. And when they did, I would be even happier. Years later, I realized how wrong this mindset was and I changed it. Well, I changed it in every area except for this dream. Because it felt like the day I hoped, my heart was crushed. Something happened that made me think I couldn’t really marry that man after all. It was silly perhaps, but it was crushing all the same.

Hurt hurts. It really does. And the situation that turned me against my dream hurt me a lot. Looking back, it wasn’t so much that I thought that no one would want to marry me. It was more that I didn’t know if I wanted to risk getting hurt again. Because that gnawing feeling I felt on the night I knew was something that I never, ever wanted to feel again. So the dream stopped. Or, I tried to stop it. My heart kept a little secret spot for it though.

A few weekends ago, I went to this amazing Relationships conference. As I listened to their stories, advice, and encouragement, I realized that I didn’t think I’d ever actually use it. Why is that? I wondered.

I went to talk to my youth pastor after. When he told me that I was a wonderful person and that I wouldn’t have any trouble getting married if I wanted to, I could have jumped. It was weird. I knew that I was valued as my own person already. I had no major insecurities left. Except for the insecurity of that dream. His words were like a new idea to me even though I’d wanted them for so long.

You see, when “The Incident” happened, something inside of me died. The hurt killed my dream. My passion left. Hope shriveled up. Because it’s easier to live life without losing even if it means you don’t love, right?

No, I was wrong actually. Loving is always better. Dreaming is still good. And God can fully heal our wounds and make us new again. He also has the power to do whatever is in His will. He isn’t as weak as hurt or my unfaithful dreams.

So I’ve decided to dream the dream that I used to dream again. I’m not saying that it will come true or that it will happen in the exact way that I want. But I’m also not saying that it won’t. I’m not going to sell myself short anymore. My God is greater than that and He has made me for better thoughts than disbelief. He wants me to dream the dreams that I used to dream as He fulfills the best dreams that He has for me.

Likewise, I encourage you to dream those dreams that you used to dream. Come on, we all have some! It doesn’t matter what they are! I doubt they are the same as mine. Maybe your buried dream is to travel, learn a second language, become a Doctor, or go to university. It could be anything. Whatever it is, I encourage you to trust God with your dream. There is nothing wrong with it or hoping for what you want. He may give you it, or He many not. Rest assured that you will get the dreams that He has dreamed for you and that they are best.

Something Better Than Tea

As many of you know, I gave up tea for Lent. I should add, that I was very skeptical of the purpose. Oh yes, I know that I said it would be a journey back to Jesus. I made it sound like I really trusted in God and what He could do for Lent. But honestly, I just wrote that to fill up space and make a good post. Yes, sometimes I do that. Really, back then I didn’t know why I was giving up tea. I mean, I knew that it was something that I loved and that it would be difficult, but what could something so earthly teach me about Jesus?

I guess God uses our words even if we don’t really mean them at the time. Even though I was just making up fluff, Lent was actually a journey of faith. It was a time of growing in Jesus. It was forty days of perseverance and learning. Most importantly, I got my faith back.

I drink tea every morning and every afternoon. It wakes me up at 7:00 AM and gives me a break between studies at 2:00 in the afternoon. I boil the kettle when I have late night studying or a Spanish lesson that I am stressed about. When I am sad or lonely, I drink a cup and instantly feel better. It’s like a drug and I’m addicted.

During Lent, I gave this “drug” up. At first, it was extremely difficult. I remember coming home from Spanish on Ash Wednesday, feeling so tired that I had to have a nap before I did any more school. There were a lot of tired mornings when I didn’t know if I would make it from A to B. Seasons of sorrow came, but I couldn’t drain them out with tea. Stress could not be blocked by liquid in a cup. I had to be filled by another source.

And so I found another method. A different addiction. When I was sad, stressed, or tired, I poured Jesus into my heard. I became addicted to Him. And my faith became real again.

It’s strange how it happened. I never could have imagined it. I decided, on a whim and because I was teaching it in Spanish, to give up tea for Lent. I took my little faith and prayed for the best. I laid down my cravings and asked God for more. And He gave me His best, He gave me more. Jesus filled me with faith again.

On Easter, I enjoyed four cups of tea. It was great to have my favourite drink back! It was funny because I realized that I easily could have gone another day or two, a week, a month, a year, or even forever without tea. In fact, I craved tea more on Ash Wednesday than on Easter morning. Tea is no longer a necessity. I still drink it, but I know that I don’t need it. But Jesus is a necessity and faith is needed more than anything else. And the journey back to Jesus was the best one I ever took. Something better than tea.

The Journey Back

It has been exactly three weeks since my last post. Three weeks! That’s never happened in the history of my blog ever. Not that I’ve been blogging for a dozen years or anything, but still my absence came as a shock to me. I didn’t intend to stop. It just sort of happened. I had ideas, but I guess there wasn’t much motivation to write them.

When I left, I was feeling a lack of faith. I was starting to write a bit about renewal, but I am afraid that a lot of my posts were kind of dismal. I was going through some difficult things. In fact, I’ve been going through difficult times since January. For some reason, the words just flowed from me then. I guess I just got tired. I realized that there wasn’t much more I could say about faith and a lack of it until I knew that I had mine back.

Little did I know that these last three months have been the journey back to faith. Yes, every bit of these last three months. Even the lack of faith and the difficult times. Everything.

I’d been reaching for God since the end of summer. It’s funny because life was awesome back then yet I couldn’t feel His presence in the way that I wanted. So I’d pray that He would come to me in “that crazy way” at church and every worship event. I even prayed for tears a couple of times. But I always went home with dry cheeks and a discouraged heart.

And then January hit with more emotion than I expected. There was deep joy and deep sorrow at the same time. Maybe one day I shall write about what made me incredibly happy and extremely sad. I wish that I could now, but the matters are all too personal. All I can say now is that the joy and sorrow alike were just what I needed.

On Easter, I realized that I am alive in the Spirit again. It puzzled me because not that long ago I would have told you otherwise. Now, I realize that I was on that journey all along. I just didn’t realize it. Now, I see the fullness and beauty of that journey. Every step, every stone, every path has molded me into the person that I am today. I have taken another journey and my heart has been restored.

I apologize for my absence on your blogs lately. I’ll try and catch up over the next couple of days. Hopefully, my “writer’s mind” has returned to me because I really have missed blogging and I have so many great ideas that I cannot wait to put into words!

Sometimes

Sometimes life is confusing and every part of me is asking the question “why.” Because life isn’t as simple as the story books that your parents read to you at five-years-old. The rest of the road home is a lot harder than it all seems.

Everyday, I’m realizing this and so much more. At the same time, I realize how much I don’t know anymore. I guess I never knew any of it. Maybe I just thought I did. Sometimes it’s easy to “know” something when you really don’t know anything about life at all. Currently, my favourite phrase is, “I don’t know what to do anymore.”

I’ve made promises to myself and sometimes I just don’t keep them. Oh, I meant to. Really, I did. But sometimes keeping the vow of a thirteen-year-old just becomes silly. Sometimes, I can’t do what I said I’d do a year or six months ago because I didn’t know what I would feel now. Sometimes I realize that what I once imagined was a fantasy and that real life is a whole other story.

Sometimes life is frustrating. I don’t always understand the trials and tribulations of each day. I often don’t appreciate the protection that people try to give me. Sometimes, I just feel like doing it my way.

Sometimes, I don’t like myself anymore and I just want to fall asleep and never wake up. I can’t always feel happy. My lips won’t always smile. Sometimes, living is just plain hard.

Sometimes, I mess up a lot. I make a big, fat mistake that cannot be undone no matter how hard I try. I dig myself into a pit where I must stay for a while. Sometimes, I really, really fail. Because like I said before, sometimes I just don’t know what to do.

Amazingly, I have a God who loves me. He cares for me more than anyone in the world. He dries up the tears, digs me out of the pits, and and wipes my slate clean with His blood. No matter what I have done or what I’ve felt or how far I have strayed, He is there. Not just sometimes, but always.

Something Greater

Easter eggs // Ostereier

Image via Wikipedia

The Easter that I was five, I thought that nothing could ever be better than little chocolate eggs. When I saw all of those coloured eggs leading from my bedroom door to the living room, I squealed with delight and picked them up as fast as I could. I was so excited that I took all the chocolate, including the pieces that were intended for my sister. I remember telling myself that all the things I liked before were not important now because I had this chocolate. My childish brain could see nothing greater than colour and chocolate.

 

Today, at seventeen, I find myself falling back into that state of childishness. I have plans for my life. There are things that I want so desperately right now. I have dreams, goals, and aspirations. It’s hard to see that anything could be greater than all that I have planned.

Last night, I was fed up with it all. I was sick of not knowing, tired of having to wait, and scared about the future. I sat at my computer and tried to write a story about it all. But the tears flowed down my cheeks and I couldn’t think and I cried out to God in desperation.

A noise and a pop-up on the right side of my screen distracted me from my thoughts for a moment. Seeing that it was a skype message from a good friend, I clicked on it.

Hey Liz, I read.

Hi! I typed back.

We made small talk for a bit, until we got to the root of the matter. That friend always seems to dig deeper than the surface, even when typing to each other on Skype. I told him about my worries for the future, feelings right now, and concern. I realized that I am directionless right now. I felt lost, confused, and beyond repair.

The typing sign went on and I sat there, wondering what he was going to tell me. At the sound of a Skype message, I looked to the screen and there it was: the truth I’d been needing to hear.

Maybe God has a totally different plan for you. Maybe you aren’t supposed to be an actor or a teacher. Maybe you’re pursuing the wrong goals right now. Wait and listen, Liz. He may have something much greater lined up for you and you are too engulfed in your present problems that you are missing the opportunity to let Him lead you.

I stared at the screen for a few minutes before I replied. I honestly didn’t know what to say. I knew that he was right though. God may have a different plan than mine. In fact, He probably does. It’s something greater, yet it’s hard to see right now. I’m too engulfed in my present problems and what I think I’m supposed to be and do, like my friend said. It’s just like the Easter I thought that chocolate eggs were the best thing that had ever and could ever happen. I’ve consumed myself in the wrong places and have lost sight of what really matters.

As I typed to my friend, it’s extremely difficult for me to see that something greater right now. But I’m only human and I guess that is how it goes. I can’t see the picture at the moment. The something greater doesn’t seem so great yet. But I will choose to trust in God, for the something greater will indeed be greatest.

PS I didn’t really mean for this to be a follow-up post on my last one…that’s just how my week went and how amazing God is. 🙂

 

Who Is God?

Dear God,

Sometimes I just don’t know who you are anymore. Like I still go to church and write on this blog about your grace, but sometimes I have questions. There are nights where I say a simple prayer and try to fall asleep and mornings where I read Wuthering Heights instead of Isaiah. Because sometimes I just wonder, who are you, God?

Last week, I cried a few times. I suffered from insomnia for several nights. I felt exhausted, stressed, and sad. I worried about people I know and things I hope to do. And in all of it, I asked why?

Why can’t I fall asleep?

Why can’t I finish this assignment?

Why can’t I just feel happy all the time?

Who are you, God? Because you really don’t seem to be helping me much right now!

Yeah, I said that. Because sometimes it just feels like I’m having a one-ended conversation with someone who doesn’t even listen. And I wonder what is faith and why do I go to church and who is God?

Now, this is the part in the blog post where I usually write: and then I heard a voice say, “It will be alright…” But I’m not going to lie. This time, there was no voice. At least, none that I could hear. And so I kept asking, who are you, God? And where are you? I need you so much and you’re not there…

But He is. I still can’t hear the voice. But sometimes there is a song. Sometimes, I just start to feel good. I hear a friend say something, I read an inspiring blog or I finally sit down and open Isaiah and I know.

I know that God is good. That He loves me. That His mercy endures forever. God is my hope, no matter what. I trust Him. He inspires me to write these words. He gives me strength to move and live and do brave things. Yes, this is God. He is all these things and more.

Even in the silence and the dullness, God, I know you are there. And I will serve and pray and wait for the Voice. It will come. Yes, of that I am sure. For you are God and you are Good.

His Plans Are Next

Change is peaking around the corner of my life at an alarming rate. I have to get a job, and I need to finish learning how to drive. I have to apply for scholarships and send in a university application and save my money. Next year, I might move away. I will be in a different environment, working and learning from strangers, hanging out with new people, and living a totally different life. I’m 17, I’m going to graduate, and move on…its invetible, I guess. But so hard and scary and strange at the same time.

There are so many things that I just don’t know right now. Like, why am I going to such an expensive university that I can’t even afford? Or, why am I going into a career with so little money to be made when I don’t even know if I want that career? Also, is getting married and raising children part of the plan? Is there someone out there for me? When am I going to meet them? And, what is the purpose of all of this? The questions are endless but the answers don’t come.

I think about my life right now. I do my school from home, pouring over the computer, a Biology text, and various word documents. My days are filled with cooking meals and washing dishes, playing the piano, singing, and pretending I’m Scrooge’s fiance or The Darlings grumpy maid. I go to rehearsals for plays and learn how to teach Spanish in a classroom and attend youth groups and church. There are friends that I see many times a week. I talk to them on Skype much more than I should and bake cookies and plan parties and meet for Starbucks with them. I sing and play the piano and work on a cherished novel and write my thoughts down on this blog. It’s mundane but contenting. I like it but I need to leave this life next year.

When I put these two lives together, one completely strange and unknown and the other the very life that I lead, I just get more confused. I love my days now but I don’t want it this way forever. I want to go to university next year, I want to be an actress, and I want to grow up but then again, I really don’t. I am confused. Just plain confused. What is my life about anyway, God? What do you have in store? Will this road be full of thorns or flowers? Can I even do these things I think that I need to do? What is next?

This time He answers. “What happened last time?”

It sounds vague but I know what He means. You went to Mexico and learned how to love and did things you were totally afraid of doing. You started this blog and became the writer you wanted to be. You got past insecurities and became a new, confident person. You got through a year that was horribly tough and made it better than any other year I gave you. You persevered, moved on, and excelled. But most importantly, where was I? Right there, holding your hand, and leading you through. What’s next? You know what is next. 

And really, I do know what is next. Ok, maybe I’m still pondering exactly where God has placed me and why. Maybe I don’t know the date of my wedding or if there will be one at all or if this university thing is going to work out and if acting is my true goal. Perhaps I’m still a bit scared, apprehensive, and confused. However, beneath it all, I know what is next and that is so much more comforting than the worry could ever be. No matter what, God and His plans for my life are next.