Called

There is something that has been on my heart for quite some time now. First, I was resentful towards it. I hated the events of this subject and wanted to get back at the people involved. But then I realized that none of it was ever meant in that way. It was an oversight even though it had hurt me. But God could heal me from those wounds.

And that is when the calling began. I started to see it all in a different way, and I knew that I had to do something to correct the wrongs that I had felt. God planted a seed in my heart and with that seed came idea after idea after idea. I had a plan from God.

I truly love the calling, but some days it’s hard. I’m not going to say the extent of the calling, though some of you probably know what it is. It’s something that may change the way some of my friends view me. It may make things awkward or distant at first. It certainly could make be unpopular. I know I’ll have to be careful. Sometimes, I think that it’s not worth it. Sometimes, I lose inspiration and it’s just too hard. But the Voice calls again and I know I cannot give up.

Because every time I say to myself that my calling is not important, God shows me that it is. I meet someone who has been hurt in the same way. A prof touches on the subject. I randomly read about it. And then I know that I cannot escape this calling. I know that God will keep beckoning me until I just do it.

There are callings inside all of us. They are unique to each individual, but equally important to the kingdom of God. They all tie in to the divine calling of every person…to love as God loves, to live as Jesus lived, to have the attitude of Christ. It’s an amazing calling, but not impossible through the strength of our Lord.

What is God calling you to today?

The Leaves Are Swirling

I’m really behind on blogging. Really, really, super behind. I feel bad because I’m just replying to lovely comments from last week and I know there are still more to reply to from before I went to university. And my emails tell me that there have been some awesome blog posts lately, but I haven’t had time to read them because the leaves are swirling.

But in my “behindness,” I’ve been thinking a lot. Yes, I have time to think even though I don’t have time to relax except when I sleep. My classes make me think. My profs inspire thinking. The people I see on the bus and the friends I’ve made put new ideas into my brain. Leaves are swirling and its hard to catch up.

I liked university very much on the first day. But the second day was hard, bordering even on awful. On Wednesday, I came down with a terrible cold while reading Flannery O’Conner’s “The Enduring Chill” for English homework (great story, by the way… just not when you feel like you have an enduring chill, too). That cold kept me up for most of the night. Traffic made me arrive just in time for the Spanish class I was already nervous about. The class, which is second year, was very difficult or the girl who skipped Spanish 12. The prof spoke in Spanish pretty much the whole time and we had to speak in Spanish a lot, too. I didn’t know if I could do it. My Acting class was just exhausting with my cold and then when all I wanted to do was go home and cry, the bus was too full. The leaves were swirling in too many heaps and falling all over me.

From that paragraph, one might gather that I hate university now. Well, I’m pretty sure that was true last Thursday. And sometimes when my group has to go first for the Art History presentations or my Spanish prof tells us we have a test on Tuesday, I really do feel like running away and never coming back. I wonder if I’m really cut out for university. “God, why did you ask me to come here? Because it doesn’t really seem to be going that well.” The leaves are swirling too fast.

But the leaves of grace fall quickly down and cover my tears. Because there are blessings indeed. I really like all of my profs. I’ve made many friends. My English prof assigns the best stories and leads awesome discussions! When I don’t have a cold, Acting class is amazing because I can just relax and explore. And my Spanish prof is very nice and encouraging. The leaves of grace tell me that I can do it, that I am good enough, that God is greater than all my fears.

So I’m trying to pray and pray and pray. About everything. About everyone. On the bus, in my classes, while walking around, and in bed at night. I pray for strength, courage, love, joy, peace, and leaves of grace to surround me. And I know that since the Lord has called me here, there is a better plan that my worries could not imagine.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and peitition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

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.

Faith Like A Child

Oh, you of little faith.

This phrase could and should be said to me about ten hundred times everyday. I’m a worrier. A constant worrier. Yet I proudly declare to be a Christian with a faith that is unshakable. But some days, that faith is pretty hard to find.

Today was one of those days. Actually, almost every day in the last little while has been “one of those days.” For some reason, faith and me haven’t been going as well as they used to.

Feeling discouraged and restless, I decided to go for a walk. I needed a diversion and a chance to sort my feelings out.

I left my house and started onto the road. I haven’t done this in a while, I thought.

I went past houses I knew and others I didn’t. I walked swiftly, trying to get rid of the pain in my heart.

I turned corners and pondered my week and all the things I did or didn’t do. I have so much on my shoulders right now, I moaned inside.

I quickened my pace more than once, as if the faster I walked, the better I’d feel.

Somehow, I ended up at the park. It wasn’t a mistake or intentional — it just happened. I ran to the swings and sat down. The seat felt small at first. I guess I’m not a child anymore, I thought. Eventually, I eased into the swing and pushed back and forth like I did in those days of cherry picking and side walk chalk.

I leaned back and closed my eyes. The dogs barking and their child owners playing nearby reminded me of days of old. Days when worry went as deep as cleaning my room so I could go to my friend’s house or getting the doll that I wanted for Christmas. Days when I could laugh freely and wipe away my tears quickly. Days when trips like this to the park were frequent and a good friend lived across the street and life was a gentle, summer song. Days when I prayed tirelessly each night for every unsaved family member, sick person, and simple want by name and believed that God would deliver. Days when I had faith like a child.

Suddenly, I remembered my old self. I felt her again. I let go of the worries, stress, and sorrow. For ten or fifteen minutes I was free. Free of anxiety and hurt. Free of exhaustion, confusion, and strong emotions. Free of everything bad, distracting, and annoying. Free to live, love, and laugh. Free to believe and have the faith that I need.

Unfortunately, that moment didn’t last forever. My legs got tired of pumping and I walked home. My spirits soon faded again and my faith was lost. I closed my lips through the songs at church and tried not to cry. I even left before the last song was through. My faith left me as quickly as it had come.

Now I’m sitting at home after a long, useless day. I remember the faith that I had once before. I want it back. The faith that loved life and God and did not worry about anything. The faith that believed and persisted and trusted. The faith of a child.

Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

A couple of days ago, I got to see the sun glisten off of snow-covered peeks as I enjoyed another day of skiing. The weather was perfect with blue skies overhead and white powder at our ski tips. There was something so beautiful about the whole day from the beginning that I knew it was going to be good.

English: Tracks of skis in snow in the Sarek N...

Image via Wikipedia

“After we get off, follow me,” my friend said as our last chair lift ride came to an end.

“Ok,” I replied. My friend, I’d learned, knew his way around the mountain. He even knew a bit about skiing, although he’s a snowboarder. Even though he’d been trying to take me on a black run all day, I pushed the fear out of my mind and zoomed down the hill behind him, practicing my parallel skiing techniques.

He got there first and waved me in. I hiked up a ways with my poles to where he was with his board. The sight that met me was not what I’d been expecting or hoping for. I saw a hill that went almost straight down, full of powdery snow.

“That’s steep,” I said, truly afraid.

“Yeah.”

“I don’t think I can do it. No, I can’t!” I was about to turn away.

“Come on, Liz,” he encouraged.

“No!” I said, thoroughly against it.

“You’ll feel so good after you do it though.”

I looked from him to the mountain and back at him. Then, I pondered it all. As I thought, I heard a Voice say, “Why can’t you do it?”

“Because–” I thought, reaching in my mind for all of the excuses that I’d used before. The insecurities. The bad experiences. All of the things that haunted me and made me feel inadequate. The stuff that scared me. The hurt and scars. Yet somehow, I wasn’t that anymore. I had come far. Farther than all of those stupid lies and heartaches. And I’d reached this point because Christ had strengthened me.

“Okay, I can do this,” I said, digging my poles into the fresh powder and pushing off down the mountain of doom.

“Yes, you can!” my friend called.

It was slow going at first. I was super scared of getting stuck like I did last time or getting injured really badly. I skied cautiously. At first, I was even afraid of the necessary turns. But somehow, at some point, I began to actually do it. I was skiing down a big, steep hill! Yes, I was! I was doing the black diamond that I said I’d never do! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! I thought. Yes, I can! Yes, I’m doing it–

And then my skis slipped and twisted and I fell in a tangled mess on the big, powdery hill.

But I was laughing. Laughing for real. Laughing the old, real Elizabeth laugh that I haven’t used in a while. Or maybe it was a new laugh that I developed from that fall. I don’t know. All I understand about that moment was that it was wonderful. I felt wonderful. Snow was beautiful, my friend was right, and God was good. Nothing could ever be better. My friend didn’t even have to ask me if I was alright after that fall.

“Do you see why I like black runs so much?” he asked, helping me up from the snow.

“Yes!” I said, still laughing my heart away.

That wasn’t the end of my falling for the day. Oh, no. I fell several more times on that slope. Sometimes, my legs were so tangled and sore that I had to stop and catch my breath. It was tough going for me. But it was worth it because the hard things in life are often the best. And I did it because God was skiing with me with the strength that I needed.

I went to bed happy that night. I thought back on my day, on life, and all the worries and problems that I have. Sometimes life is like a mountain — it seems too steep to get through. We feel like giving up or taking our skis off and walking down. But the truth is that we can do it, if we only trust and keep our skis forward. God is real. He made the mountains, after all. And He is with us every step of the way. I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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Ski Hill Surrender

This was the weekend of surprises, the unexpected, and surrendering myself to the Maker of skill hills.

Yes, I still went skiing with my youth group as planned. Yes, we made it up safely and quickly on Friday night. I remembered all of my gear, brought enough money for a day pass, and even met up with my good friend who had been planning to board that day as well. Seemingly, everything was in place on Saturday morning.

However, God decided to surprise me and my day was nothing like it was supposed to be. The “fun run” my friend persuaded me to go on and the 40 cm of snow left me stuck and stranded until help came ten minutes later. After I got back onto the right track, I found myself helping a little girl get her skis back on. Just as everything was as smooth as could be, I wiped out again and lost both of my skis. It took my forever to get them back on. I’m not even kidding when I say that I skied just one run on Saturday morning.

Needless to say, I was exhausted, discouraged, and downright frustrated by the time I met up with my youth group for lunch. My limbs ached, and coat dripped from all the falling. I looked around for my friend, who I had long since lost in the snow of the mountain, and was disappointed to find him nowhere. I bit into an apple with disgust and thought of how much better everything could have been. I tried not to show my feelings but inside I was saying, “Thanks a lot, God.”

“Why are you crying?” He asked, as I leaned my head against my skis outside of the lodge. Since my other plans had fallen through, I’d decided to ski with two of my new youth group friends. The only problem was, another surprise had occurred — their rental skis had gone missing! We’d searched high and low, but they were nowhere to be found. Finally, my friends had gone inside to inquire about new skis while I waited at the rack.

“I’m not crying.”

“I know what you’re feeling,” He whispered.

“Yeah, I’m kind of upset I guess,” I sighed. “I got stuck a lot. Nothing worked out. Nothing is working out. This isn’t how it is supposed to be.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s not how I planned it.”

“How you planned it? What about how I planned this weekend? Why don’t you trust me, child? Where is your faith?”

I bit my lip. “I do trust you!” I said. “I told you that earlier!” I thought back to our conversation at the top of the ski hill, when my legs were deeply sunk into the snow. I’d tried to convince Him that I had enough faith for Him to dig me out.

“Then why don’t you just let me lead you? Why do you insist on your plan all the time? What if I have something different for this weekend and it is better? I love you.”

By then, I was crying. The tears were hidden by my goggles and scarf, but they were there. I had forgotten His wisdom and more importantly, His love. Forgotten. How could I? I didn’t even forget my ski socks, yet I forgot about my Saviour. I forgot His plan and how good it is. I forgot to put Him first because He loves me more than anyone else in the world.

It was a ski hill surrender, in goggles and mits. I decided to trust and accept His love. I promised to let Him back in and show me just what He wanted. The rest of my weekend was great. I can’t say that it was how I planned it or that I didn’t have any more rebellion. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We had some wipe outs, lost a few more skis, and went to bed with sore limbs. At one point, we took a wrong turn and my friend crashed into me with her skis. But all the way through I heard Him calling for trust and I said, “Yes, Lord.” It wasn’t easy, but it was right. The rewards came — I made two new friends, learned how to ski in powder, had some great conversations and moments, caught up with old friends, and played a new card game. It was good. It wasn’t my plan but it was His and it was better.

Tonight I’m going to bed with sore legs and a heart that knows that trust is hard, surrender is harder, but still God is best.

Espera, Por Favour

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been waiting for something.

I waited for the cake after dinner. To be in my first play. For my birthday to come so that I would be the same age as my friend, Kaleigh. I waited to jump on horse back and have my first solo in a play. At sixteen, I spent nights of desperation in wait for a special friend to call and the last days of this summer waiting for school to start. Once, I waited for my grandmother to die. I’ve waited for tests, celebrations, emails, and death. Ever since I was little, I’ve been waiting to grow up. Now, I’m seventeen and seemingly starting that life yet I still have to wait.

Today at Spanish, I helped the students with verbs. Tener. Ir. Ver. Hacer. Estar. We talked about meanings. To have. To go. To see. To make or to do. To be. And we conjugated them in different ways. Yo tengo. Tú vas. Él hace. Nosotros estamos. It all made foggy sense to them, I think. Learning a language takes practice and lots of waiting.

“Elizabeth,” one student called. “What does esperar mean?”

Her words struck my heart, yet I answered calmly. “Esperar means to wait.”

All of a sudden, I was in Mexico again. Dirt was on my face and clothing, my braids were wispy and cheeks rosy. Little children clamoured around me, begging with their eyes and foreign lips for piggy back rides. I was overwhelmed by a flock of several children. They swarmed me on all sides and I said in that moment, Espera, por favour.”

It was a beautiful memory and I yearned to go back to that place where it all began. I glanced at my textbook, wishing it could take me to the country where it’s bonito words are spoken. But then I remembered my decision from last weekend and the realization that God was not calling me back to Mexico this summer. My heart sank like a ship and I asked God why again. “Why can’t I go? Why must I wait? It’s been almost two years. Haven’t I waited long enough? I miss it so much and I promised I’d go back.”

And then I heard my fifteen-year-old, swarmed-with-children self say those words once more. “Espera, por favour.” And I remembered, esperar means to wait and that is just what God wants me to do right now.

Because promises made in the quicksands of life are easily dissolved. Since what we want isn’t always what is best. And as God knows just what I need. Sí, I will wait. Wait to go back to Mexico and see those shining faces and say “Espera, por favour.” Wait until January to go to university. Wait to have a boyfriend. Wait for God and His perfect plan and the things that I really need instead of the things that I don’t. Espera, Elizabeth. Espera, por favour.

But I dislike the word wait. It’s ugly and unromantic and far too overused. So, I’ll wait en Espanol. Sí, for it is a melody that way. To esperar is bonito and God’s plan is a song of amor. 

Yo espero porque Dios.

What about you? ¿Esperas tambien? What do you have to esperar for these days?