When You’re Stuck

pexels-photo-277013.jpegIn some ways, it’s hard to explain what I’m about to. But I’ll try.

After having poured heart and soul into what I loved in the last season of my life, and then closing that chapter, somehow saying yes to anything else looked big and scary. (other than marrying my husband and being his wife, and the small tasks) Anything that involved making a commitment, spending a significant amount of money, investing time and energy, a career.

I felt stuck. And I didn’t like it.

One evening Kevin asked me, what do you want to pursue Liz? Seems like a fairly simple question. After all, most of the time, what I want isn’t rocket science to figure out. But my mind was blank. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I want to put my energy into!

Ok, so maybe I have some ideas. But I really don’t know. So, I started naming off some ideas that I could possibly pursue.

Photography.
Working on my life coaching track.
Start an “instashop”.
Volunteer somewhere.
Get a “normal” job?
But where?
What?

But nothing gripped my heart.

So why did I feel so stuck? Pressure. Pressure was the force that kept me in this state of being stuck. I felt like I needed to choose just the “right” career opportunity. One that would be coupled perfectly with wife life, possibly motherhood someday. And one that I would LOVE. And feel super fulfilled in. There was pressure to choose the right one so that I didn’t spend too much money and then only to find that it’s not ideal, and then money and time was wasted. The pressure I felt robbed me of my freedom to dream. To explore and be creative.

I also realized I had not fully said goodbye to my last season of life, and because of that I wasn’t able to fully say “hello” to something else. If I said “hello”, it meant definite closure to the last chapter. Was I ready for this? (I know that it takes time to say goodbye. It is a process.)

I thoroughly enjoy reading books and listening to podcasts. There was a number of what felt like random (yet I know that God placed them in my path) podcasts I listened to that spoke to me and started to stir things in my heart. Along with some books I was listening to and discussions with my husband and a few others, I started the journey of being unstuck.

I can still remember the day when the pressure lifted! It was incredible.

That day, I chose to listen to “When Your Story Stalls” done by Conversations with John Eldredge. One of my biggest takeaways was be OK with being stuck! Recognize the state you’re in. Don’t try to run. And for sure, don’t run to a quick fix. It only acts like a bandaid, and isn’t healing. Running to the first open door is not the answer. Most of all, invite God into the “stuck”.

And so I did.
And it felt good.
Good to acknowledge, that this is where I am.

Did you know that feeling the pain of being stuck is much more helpful than being stuck and not knowing it? I didn’t actually view me being stuck as something positive until it hit me, that if I didn’t know I was stuck, I could never get unstuck. But I do know, which gives me hope. Thank you Jesus.

A life of comfort is one without tension. And if I didn’t have this tension, I would be flat lining. There is movement! And I suppose this is a good thing!

So that ray of hope gave me wings to dream again.

The sky is the limit! I actually do have things I love to do & could get excited about chasing after! For example: expanding my knowledge on wholesome cooking, organizing, taking photos, blogging, creating, life coaching, counseling, serving and thats just naming a few!

When I walk into a bookstore, which section do I gravitate to? What am I most excited about, because often this is what you end up reading about? Hands down, you can either find me in Christian Non-Fiction or the art section (journals, pens, paper etc). Developing the heart and being creative is what makes my heart stir!

This was the most excited I had felt in a while to pursue something. To pursue, to step out, to take a risk.

So, there you have it. In a nutshell, my journey of being stuck & becoming unstuck.

I’m currently in the dreaming stage. I’ve looked into a few job opportunities, and have had a few opportunities come my way without even trying. Wow! Timely.

While I’m dreaming, I’m also waiting. Waiting for what is next, because I’m still not sure. I’m ok with waiting.

So, if you’re stuck, will you do yourself a favor and acknowledge it? Be OK with it? Most certainly, your story won’t be like mine. But I do know, that being stuck isn’t the end of your story.

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How can death look so beautiful?

How can death look so beautiful?

I wrote this about a month ago and thought I’d share it here. I’m still processing and definitely not on the other side of it all! My prayer is that it can be an encouragement to someone else who may be in similar season.

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The old season is gone and a new one is coming. We’re in this middle stage between summer and winter. It’s called fall. Where the lush green trees turn into bright reds, oranges and yellows. And the scene is absolutely breath taking.

I look across the valley adjacent to where my little house stands. The rolling hills have trees innumerable. And the sky is a perfect blue. The wind comes through and blows the tree leaves to the ground. A multicolored blanket of leaves is formed around the now barren tree.

It’s in the pink and orange sunrise. I can feel it in my bones. Winter is coming. The winter sunrise that slowly warms up the frost covered grass. I’m able to watch it all from my warm and cozy house. Sitting at the window with my blanket and cup of coffee. I appreciate the beauty it brings to my early morning.

And there’s something within me that stirs. Isn’t what’s happening around me the cycle of life? What was once vibrant and alive is slowly dying away. Soon all the trees will be completely barren. Brown will become the new color.

How can this process of death be so beautiful? How can it capture my heart the way it does? What is the message that natures brings to me? Because I think that the nature of God, his character and truth is so interwoven with His creation.

You see, it’s been a little over 4 months since I finished my last season. I said goodbye to my life in Thailand, and my life with Ultra. My heart came alive during my time with Ultra in a way that it had never! I was ready for the next season.

In these 4 months, a lot has happened! I married the man of my dreams and I now have his last name. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve settled down into a little double wide trailer in the middle of Holmes County. Instead of heavily investing in the lives of young woman in many different ways, I’m finding myself cooking meals for my dear husband, learning how to sew, getting acquainted with the local “bent and dent” stores, and keeping my little house tidy.

Vastly different. And yet so right. This is where I’m supposed to be. I know that for certain.

But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be hard days and grieving what’s now mere memories.

I’ve thoroughly loved and enjoyed settling into my new role as wife and learning what that means! There have been so many rewarding days and moments. The moments when my husband tells me he loves the food I cooked for supper and the evenings we get to simply hang out together and hear what’s on each other’s hearts. It’s priceless, and I savor this time.

Though recently, I’ve been restless. And my heart aches when I think of “yester year”. I feel this sense of homesickness. And it’s hard to make sense of it all. I want to find purpose and meaning in my new life!

With death, there comes grief. The winter cold and barren trees are a picture of what is now, and reminds us of what used to be. Sometimes I long for spring, and the fresh and warm breeze against my face instead of the harsh wind that nearly takes my breath away. (literally)

When it all comes around full circle, there has to be death in order for there to be life. The apple has to fall off the tree and a new seed is gathered to bring new life. It’s deer season. The deer (unwillingly) but still, dies to bring yummy meat for us to eat, which offers the nutrition that brings strength to our lives. (Did I mention my husband recently shot one??!) 🙂

I wonder if in order for life to fully be sprung and my new season to help me flourish where I’m at, something needs to die. Death isn’t final. It’s actually been defeated. There is more to come. And that’s why soul aches. I ache for all things new. For restoration. For spring.

No, I don’t know what all this means, but I do know that there is the promise of spring. And I do know that in order for there to be life, and abundant life, a price needs to be made. It was paid for.

I do know that I will not ignore the trees that have lost their color. I won’t deny my tears their right to flow, and to speak. The grief doesn’t define me, but does hold significance. And I don’t want to miss out on that.

 

“We talk of the Second Coming; half of the world has never heard of the first” – Oswald J. Smith

Ouch. If that doesn’t step on our toes and create an unsettled feeling in our hearts, then Father help us all !

I came across this quote the other day. My heart sunk and my mind went wild.

I’ll be honest, I’m ashamed. Ashamed at how many so called Christians are OK with not telling others of that first coming of Christ. Instead, so many choose to stay silent and keep it to themselves. Were we not once one of those who didn’t know about His first coming? And someone out of the kindness of their hearts and love for the Father shared with us? Once we were in darkness, but now we have seen the light and heard the good news!

However, we are called to more than that. One doesn’t burn a fire and build a towering wall over it. To hide the flame and keep in the heat. No! Never. A fire is started, and it gives off warmth and a great light. This light will be seen from a great distance. Like a city on a hill.

Why do we want to keep it to ourselves? Have we not truly grasped the HUGE debt that our Savior paid for us? He knew absolutely NO sin. But stood in the gap as the perfect, spotless Lamb and took on our sins. Paid in full. Not just for me and you. But for them as well.

While we keep talking about that Second Coming, and are in our own little worlds, the person next door, the child on the street corner, the man in prison, the prostitute on the other side of the world, the widow in the most remote village is dying. Not only physically but more importantly spiritually. And time is ticking.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Hm of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

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As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.

Heaven, Sweet Home Above

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My thoughts of late have been on Heaven above
Where we’ll forever be worshipping our God of love
With every tribe and nation, we’ll lift up our praise
To the one and true, Ancient of Days

We’ll be reunited with loved ones who’ve gone on before
And goodbyes will be said no more
Our eyes will see beauty beyond imagination
That all points to Him, who is the Master of Creation

And face to face, our Jesus we’ll meet
Oh how I can hardly wait to worship at His feet
I imagine Jesus anxiously waiting to call us home
To tell us “Child, you must no more roam”

If you’re reading this, you’ve not reached the heavenly place
There are still plans He wants you to embrace
Take every chance and opportunity He sends your way
And remember it’s Jesus you ought to portray

I’m homesick for a place I’ve never been
But I will keep running, Christ within,
In such a way to reach the final goal
And forever spend my days with Him who made me whole

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Sovereign Over Us

There’s this song that I’ve been recently introduced to. And it has been playing on repeat in my heart, mind and my iPod. I’ve been claiming it in my life and proclaiming that God is “Sovereign Over Us”.

“There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning, With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting, Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust”*

He’s been teaching me to trust. And to not lean on my own understanding.

About two weeks ago, myself and my team took a trip to southern Thailand to a city called Hat Yai. The Father wanted us to go to this city of unrest and danger. Where there are so many hurting and lost people who don’t know Him. He wanted us to seek Him for answers for our future and if He wanted us to move there. So many things didn’t make sense for me and my team. However, we knew the Father is all knowing and He would direct us. We were going to be the Light while we were there and worship Him with all we have. Trusting that He would come through and speak to us.

 

“Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us”

There is so much I could say. So much I could tell you about how the Father worked in my life that week. But I might end up writing a book instead of a short blog post. There were a number of occurring events during our time in Hat Yai that really opened my eyes as well as the teams. After a week of seeing lives in bondage, experiencing bomb explosions, worshiping the Father, visiting local Universities, touring the city, prayer walking, enjoying beach & ocean =His beautiful creation, relating with my team, and experiencing His Spirit speaking to all of us, we were able to leave the week with faith and trust that He guided us and has given us direction.

“You are wisdom unimagined, Who could understand your ways
Reigning high above the heavens, Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the Lifter of the lowly, Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me, Your promises are my delight”

His ways are way higher than mine. He’s been teaching me to not make mountains out of hills. To daily surrender my ways, deny myself and follow Him. Though it may be hard, it’s so rewarding to walk fully in Him and His Light.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1

The Father told us it’s not our time just yet to move there. I am thankful for hearing from Him and His voice. However, Hat Yai will always hold a special place in my heart.

“Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good and for your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
You’re working for our good, You’re working for our good and for your glory”

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Overlooking the city of Hat Yai.

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The location of the first explosion, in front of a 7-Eleven. My team and I were in a cafe about 50 yards from here when it happened.(Day 1)

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The day we left, the reconstructed 7-Eleven was ready for business once again. We were excited to be able to step into it!

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In the distance, we could see some ramifications of the largest explosion.

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The sunset on Beach Samila.

This beauty is created by the Lord Almighty who I am honored to serve.

Until next time.

 

*Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keyes

At the beginning of the year, I spent 6 weeks living in an Ahka Village.

I had the privilege of living with one of the local families. They were such loving people

This was quite possibly one of the most stretching yet exciting times in my life.

I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking. Because they can do way better than I can 🙂

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The scenery was absolutely gorgeous.

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^ After attempting to fry a fish over the fire, but losing him in the fire while not paying attention.

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 ^Friends and I after a day of hiking and fishing!

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^ Some of my family enjoying mookata. ( Thai style bbq)

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Teaching her to write 🙂

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^This girl brought such joy to my life!

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^ Traditional Ahka head attire

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^ Beautiful life

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^Triple Trouble!

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Kitchen area

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^ Where we prepared the food

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^Cooking done on an open fire!

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^One of the highlights of the day was the food truck!

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Playmates

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^I’m really not a giant! But this picture gives a clear idea of how the Father designs people so differently!

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^ My host mother weaving tall grasses for the chicken house roof.

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^Working on the chicken house

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^A pretty typical meal

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^My friends and I. I enjoyed trying on their traditional dress!

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^What a sweet woman.

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^This mother is my age and has 2 daughters; 3 years old and 5 months old. I enjoyed getting to know her.

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^And what a treat to have friends come visit my new home and “family”

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^Ah yes. Butchering a chicken.

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^More little friends.

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^This is Ama, my host mother. She is unable to read or write. This doesn’t make her feel bad.

But these hands of hers are able to do so much creating. Far more than I ever could.

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^The little children captured my heart!

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^Like mother like daughter.

New Journeys, No Stop Signs

A few days ago, I found myself riding on the back of a songthaew which is a pickup truck used as a taxi and a way of transportation for a lot of people. Two benches sit on the back of the truck where people are piled in to get from point A to B.

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We were on the way home from the airport. We had just dropped off and said goodbye to someone who had spent the last 8 – 9 months in Asia being the hands and feet of Jesus here. We had prayed over him before he went through his gate. Someone mentioned how God is the same in the States as He is in Asia. And how true this is! The Supremacy of God doesn’t depend on where we live. And they prayed that the fire and zeal the young man had would continue to grow when he arrived back to the States. 

So, as we head back home, I’m just taking in all the sights of the city and the people and the newness of it all. I suddenly saw a sign that caught my attention. 

It read Real Life Never Stops”

Isn’t that the truth?

I was just taken by surprise by the random sign. I didn’t get the chance to see what they were advertising or promoting. But I read it, my mind went back to our prayer minutes before and to a dozen other thoughts.

How many times do I put my life on hold? How often do I think tomorrow, I’ll do what I need to do.  Thinking, that once this or that  happens, and I’m at a certain place real life will occur and I’m going to do something big. Something good. Inspiring. Life-giving. Jesus honoring. Once I become who I wish to be or once I have a task checked off of my long list of things to do, my life can truly begin. Not true.

The truth is life never stops. Ever. The way I live my life today is how I live it tomorrow, and the next day.

Chapters of our lives will come and go. They begin and live out their season and even end. But our life as a book will never end until our last breath. When we are in transition, remember that season is also very important. We have no excuse to be doing nothing. We’ve been given a important and unique task from the Lord.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race of God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” Hebrews 12:1-2

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