processing.

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It’s hard to accept that I’ve been back in the U.S. for a month now. I’m having a difficult time grasping the fact that I prepared for India for almost eight months, and now I’m talking about India in past tense. Different questions fill my mind almost every day, but the majority have a common theme: What do I do now?

Did I seriously just spend six weeks across the world in a chaotic foreign city? How do I keep going now that it’s over? How do I practically apply what just happened to my life now? The reality that India is truly over has hit me full force.

It’s hard to answer the question, “How was India?” I love people’s interest in my summer, but most can understand why I cannot answer that question in a couple of sentences. You see, I learned over the summer that I don’t have to default in “India was amazing,” because if you want the truth, I hated 85% of the things I saw. The trip was every emotion you could think of. But I’m so grateful for it.

However, things are so very different now.

Sometimes I find the experience fading rapidly from my awareness that I have to keep reminding myself it happened even though it was so vivid days ago. I’ve been struggling to find my footing. I’m at a loss when it comes to settling back to my normal life and move forward. I’ve just begun to start this journey of processing and it’s so painful.

It’s hard coming back.

It’s hard leaving a place that you were directly spoken to about, knowing there’s still so much more need.

It hard not to wish you had more time.

It’s hard to be wrecked by another way of life.

It’s hard to realize life keeps going on for my Indian friends, yet I’m not there anymore.

It’s hard knowing so much innocence is being taken away from young lives without them even knowing it’s wrong.

It’s hard sitting in a classroom getting an overpriced education while my little brothers and sisters are on the streets begging and going to bed so unaware of their value.

It’s hard to heal from something I’d never thought I’d have to endure.

It’s hard to be back in normal routines of mere business that I’m not content with, when I’ve seen things so much greater, better, and deeper.

It’s hard not to hold my little brothers and sisters and stare back into their joyous faces.

I’ve been resulting in telling vague stories here and there, while I work through this time of processing. It’s been very challenging for me to talk about India, even to my own best friends and closest family members. For a person who has felt pretty comfortable with vulnerability and opening up to people, it’s odd for me to withhold and choose to be silent. But I’ve been encouraged during this sacred time of solitude to remain honest with myself and my Father, because these stories won’t remain silent for long.

I want my response about India to be more than all this. I want to move beyond myself and look to what God is doing in the world. I want to take the time to focus on not just what I personally gained, but how God’s great movement across the world is crucial in this process. I pray my experience in India will launch me further into following Him onto my next journey of recognizing His grace in it all.

India wasn’t even meant to just be for my benefit. I wasn’t supposed to go just to check something off my spiritual bucket list or satisfy my wanderlust and then return home like nothing happened. It’s not about what I did. It’s about what I became and how He’s doing it. I learned so much about myself and God throughout this journey. These intense seven weeks were placing my selfish desires and expectations at the Lord’s feet and with that, He broke my heart for what breaks His. I was given a perspective to a way of life that didn’t revolve around me. A life that intentionally served others. He stretched me beyond what I thought I was capable of. He expanded my horizons. He showed me the way He see’s things and how He’ll redeem the world.

And what a privilege it was to be a part of it. To STILL be a part of it.

This doesn’t make the process any easier. There are reminders all over that I’m not in India, and the fear of what’s next becomes a crushing pressure.

But when I step back from it all at the end of the day, it’s worth it. Jesus is worth it all. And if this struggle of uncertainty and processing means that I see Jesus more clearly—it’s worth every second.

Thanks you for your continued prayers and patience with my return.

God Bless❤

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come undone

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI remember laying in this very bed of mine last summer, curled up underneath the covers, pale-faced and ratty hair. While scribbling down all my thoughts, I was unashamed of how I looked, what I felt, and just embraced being God’s daughter. As I reflect on the insane transformation I’ve experienced this past year, I noticed how utterly captivated I was by Jesus’ character and the intimacy He pursues within all of us.

My rebirth was a result from this indescribable alluring by My King.

But I’ve been asleep for so long, that my eyes have been covered by the expectations of the world; the thoughts of what others think of me; and if it’s true that I’m too much, but still have to spend the rest of my life proving I am something. I was so blind to see Jesus’ hand reaching out and saying, “Talitha koum!” (Little girl, get up).

Why am I making what everyone else thinks of me bigger than what Jesus says about me? I wrestled so hard with this for the past few months, and I couldn’t seem to shake it off.

So I idolized it instead of surrendering. I thought maybe I could fix this feeling if I found validation in others. If I filled every hour of my day with studying, work and class, I could forget about what was going underneath the surface of my weary heart. I thought if I pleased them more, maybe they’d compliment me back and it’d fuel me enough to feel worth something. I went to coffee for a revived mind, instead of His arms of rest. I took advantage of a rekindled friendship and led it down a slippery slope, instead of running to Jesus to feel alive again. And it all left me as a tear-stained mess with a 500 pound weight on my back, curled up on the sidelines of my own race.

It felt like the fire inside of me, a privilege God graciously planted in me last summer, was gone. There used to be this spunk to my laugh, light in my eyes, and joy in my heart. However, I’ve been letting shame cage me to become small, because I thought the world didn’t need any more of my emotions and vulnerability. I  went throughout my day thinking it can’t all be reconciled.

Oh, praise the Lord that is far from the Truth!

Because God’s made it perfectly clear to me lately, that all of this was never about me.

My actions, my feelings, and my life does not keep the earth spinning. THANK THE LORD. Our Creator reigns over His masterpiece by molding us for the mere purpose of allowing us to magnify His greatness. What a privilege that is to not have the pressure of perfection, just simply the willingness to adventure with Our Creator, as His divine glory shines across His work of art.

God intended for us to be naked and unashamed. I imagine Adam and Eve were pure and wild before The Fall. They were both in perfect communion with Our Father. I bet they couldn’t stop smiling up at God because they were so secure in who they were and confident in their purpose. I ache so deeply for that.

But it was the very questioning of Eve’s identity that ultimately led to the world’s downfall. We’ve let everyone else’s perception of us, the enemy’s lies, and earthly expectations shake up our reality.

So let us become undone.

Let us expose our junk, so we can bring it to light. In Jesus, there is no darkness, and He doesn’t dwell in it. He’s not freaked out by any of your pain, feelings or fears, because He willingly endured that for you and me already. And He won.

Because of this, we can be free from everything world-pleasing and rest in his holiness. Because that is what matters.

Let us give up control and have God take us back to Eden.

And there, we can be exactly who God made us to be. His.

-l.s.

 

embrace your inadequacy, because Jesus is enough

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I frequently find myself staring back at beautiful people who are so unaware of the light they bring to this world. I listen to broken hearts who tell me they are so useless and dirty, they’ll never be capable of doing something worthwhile. I listen to souls in bondage who define themselves by their mental stability because they’re convinced freedom of fear is too good to be true. I listen to men who are full of shame as they name themselves “defeat” after falling into lust again. I wipe away the tears of girls who are addicted to what the world and the mirror sees and think they’ll never be enough for a godly man to love her.

And as I hug each one and walk away, I realize I’m listening to the same damaging remarks inside my own head. 

And it cripples me.

Lately it’s felt like it’s been one blow to the head after the other. Just as you find enough strength to pick yourself back up, a cold utterance of unworthiness smashes against your skull again. At the time you think it’s a good decision to keep it bottled up inside, because stubbornness doesn’t admit you’re falling from security. We are convinced the world doesn’t want to hear about the whispers that show us we aren’t enough; the haunting standard that we must do everything in our power to prove there is something special about us to keep around. So we lock this all up, build a wall and pretend we believe people when they tell us we are beautiful.

This is what lies do.

But glimpses of eternity came as a dear friend took me for a drive and listened to me cry in the passenger seat. She reminded me of the man who took blow after blow, endured the oppression, felt the heartbreak, witnessed the betrayal, and took the lies upon himself…for me.

And I finally was able to breath again, because Jesus is more than any empty word that departs from the devil’s lips. Jesus is enough, and He is mine.

We don’t have to be strong. We don’t even have to worry about being strong, because we have a God who is. So let’s stop wasting our energy attempting to hold it together, when all our Father wants is for us to give up the world and let Him give us His heart; to lift the veil from our eyes, fall on our knees in awe of the Truth and see who we really are.

You are His. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

You are treasured. (Exodus 19:5)

You are a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are wanted. (Isaiah 30:18)

You are totally and completely forgiven. (1 John 1:9)

You are pure. (Ephesians 5:27)

You are covered. (1 Peter 4:8)

You are of great value. (Isaiah 43:4)

You are beautiful. (Psalm 34:5)

You are free. (Romans 8:1-2)

You are called. (1 Peter 2:9)

You are new. (1 Peter 1:3)

You are loved. (Romans 5:8)

And although the devil is a liar, he is loud. So we must stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around our waist and say, “No Satan, this is what my Father says. This is who He says I am. This is what He says I can do. This is what He says I can have.” 

Children of God, Jesus has given you the ability to walk in such a way all you will see is that you are divinely His. Be rooted in these promises. These promises defeated the lies the day He felt every one of them upon His body.

And He won as He joyfully pulled us up from the grave.

There’s nothing more truer than that.

-l.s.

 

you make it beautiful

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“I’m just in a constant state of falling & failing. I feel like that’s all I do. I’m trying so hard to reach for grace.”

“Grace is not something you reach for. Grace is something that is poured onto you.” 

After this conversation, I found myself a week later in a corner high top table, admitting how heavy sin and shame can be. I did everything I could to hold myself together as sincere closure was graciously given. I was so unaware of the freedom I was about to encounter.

Mercy rains down endlessly on our weary hearts, and we don’t even acknowledge or realize it most of the time. However, there are times when Jesus cracks open the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River drowns you in His Grace. My entire world has been shaken because of this.

Once your world is shaken by this divine reconciliation, you can’t help but smile from ear to ear when “Nothing but the Blood” is played in chapel, or not get goosebumps when the verse, “He washed it white as snow” is sang. And you certainly can’t hold it together in church when you’re receiving Communion as, “You make it beautiful. You make it beautiful,” is repeatedly sung behind you. Grace has a whole new meaning to me now.

God uses the filthiest, ugliest, darkest sins of our past and washes them into a beautiful testimony of His greatness. “And through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (Colossions 1: 20-22 NLT)

Our greatest strength is crying out that we are in need of a Savior. That is how utterly powerless we are without Jesus. I pray you allow yourself to dive into this intimate vulnerability and let God make your life into His masterpiece. He blends the dark colors and mistakes right in with His initial sketch. There is absolutely nothing you could do that would make Him love you less.

You are free from all of these transgressions. There is no shame in Him. Your Savior is captivated by you, and see’s you dressed in white, pure, fearfully and wonderfully made, no wrinkle or blemish and most of all, His Beloved Bride.

Let that Grace shake your world. He makes it beautiful.

God’s gracious blessings to you,

-l.s.

where the healing begins

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2015 will be a year I’ll always remember. Someday, I’ll sit down with my kids and tell them about the year that changed my life. I’ll tell them about first dates and heartbreak; living a life without anxiety; becoming an introvert; receiving a God-given passion; letting go of someone you thought would always stay; and Jesus becoming my Groom. It was the year when I was reborn, perceiving the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father in a completely different way. It was the year when Romans 8:28 became my anthem, and how I had to constantly write “Be Still” on everything, because paralysis by analysis got the best of me. 

For the past month, 2015 has been a whole lot of healing. I think everyone desires to have someone see past our exterior and look into the deep places of our heart. I’ve always wanted to be known and loved for who I am. Back in high school, I pretended to be someone I was not for far too long. Now, I find myself fearful of letting my guard down, because there’s a chance more people will say I am too profound and sensitive.

Here’s what I learned the hard way: Don’t hold the pain in. If you keep your guard up for too long, pain comes nine months later and hits you in the head with a brick, when in reality, everything should have been resolved by then. 

I walked back to my dorm one November night, and all I could hear was the cold whisper, “You’re not worth staying for.” I grew angry, I was bitter, and my tear ducts were so tired from being at constant work. 

Oh, what a lie that was. Because as a little light shined directly onto my heart, in the shape of a cross, Jesus began to say, “My Beloved, let me heal you.” Jesus took me below the surface and showed me what was really going on in my heart. I was tired of falling for counterfeit fillers, when it really needed to be Jesus to make me whole. He already won this fight for me, so why was I trying to figure it all out under my own power and strength?

The feelings we have, the circumstances that are occurring, it means something to us. Whenever we give someone something that has meaning to us, it’s an even deeper connection. We expect instant healing and gratification once we come to Jesus, but healing is not meant to be a sprint. It’s a marathon filled with an intimacy we get to experience with Jesus. We are engaging with Him, working with Him through this process knowing Him better, and identifying ourselves with Him. By not rushing things, and healing this way, Jesus can give us something even more beautiful in the place of that. He replaces the pain with an incredible relationship.

Jesus says in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” During this healing marathon, waiting patiently for all the chaos and confusion to pass by, we can still honor God though loving others. Love others to the point of how you want to be loved. When you are feeling hopeless, text your friends and tell them how much Jesus loves them. When you’re overwhelmed by the evil in the world, rock a baby to sleep and watch God’s mercy unfold. When you’re too tired to do anything, get up and clean the kitchen for your mom. I promise you, from previous experience, your mood changes. 

“The moment you start focusing on another person’s happiness is the way to bring happiness to your own self.”-Brian Houston


 

I’ve recently been interested in art. Expressing yourself in different ways is something I value highly, but you can only write so many poems on a broken heart. During my regular Pinterest binge, I came across a Japanese art called Kintsukuroi. Kintsukuroi means “to repair with gold”; the art of replacing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. 

The description of the word just screams the Gospel.

God created us to be righteous and sanctified reflections of Himself, but because of sin, we are weary and broken. Although God has every right to throw us out, His mercy reigns as He picks up our pieces and restores us. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4,But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

We are much like “jars of clay” that can be easily broken, resulting in many scars. However, we are not put back together in the same way. Paul then goes on to say, 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 

Our cracks have been filled with the precious love of Jesus Christ, and one day He will make all things new the same way he repaired our souls. Jesus is the only Living Water and Bread of Life. Therefore, He is the only One who can satisfy our deepest hunger and thirst. No other can bring beauty from ashes. No other can dress you in white. No other can fill the holes between shattered hearts with Love more valuable than gold. 

His healing hands makes us all beautiful again. 

Happy New Year!

-Liz

letting go and waiting on the Lord


“Even if you let go, Liz. You’ll always be dancing with Me.”

For 17 years, dance played a significant role in my life. It had its way of always being there when life became too much to handle. It was my safe haven, my escape, and a way to intimately glorify God with the talent He’s given me. Last year, I injured my hip pretty badly. I didn’t handle it well, because I realized I defined myself with dance for years. I didn’t know who I was without it. This was a huge wake up call, realizing I am nothing except His. November 2014 to February of 2015 was one of the hardest times of my life, because I was in such physical agony. It blows my mind how much physical pain can affect the rest of your body and life.

By fall, the symptoms came back, even more severe. The same injury progressed in the left hip as well. I did therapy, stretched, got x-rays, and even saw the orthopedic surgeon again, but nothing seemed to work. I feel into a deep darkness. The devil had blinded me from the joy that was even in my own heart. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was battling this for so long, I got to the point where I couldn’t go on any longer. This hole I was in affected me emotionally, mentally, intellectually and even spiritually. The moment I injured my hip was the moment I stopped glorifying God with dance, and just continuing through the pain for self-fulfillment and pride. Realizing this, I knew something had to change.

After a final visit with the orthopedic surgeon learning there were chances of long-term damage, I knew this was a decision I couldn’t make. After listening and holding my hand, as I uncontrollably cried under a tree at 2 AM, Jesus gave me a level strength I never knew I could carry within me.

This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but with the guidance and wisdom from the Lord, I decided to stop dancing. My dance career was going to come to an end sometime, but unfortunately, it needed to end earlier. I felt as the misery was holding me back from remembering the joy of the Lord and the opportunities He has for me. I needed to let what was holding me back from Him go.

So I did. I let go and let healing rain fall down on me, and boy, was there peace. Overwhelming, divine peace washing over me, just like I knew He’d give me.

It’s truly amazing how Jesus turned one of the hardest adversities into the most peaceful outcome. I knew He’s got me, and was carrying me the whole time.

I’m not a good listener when it comes to talking with Jesus. I mostly just vent, complain, and expect something immediately to happen. I think we all struggle with this. But the concept of being still and letting go has shown me the importance of being silent sometimes and letting God’s beautiful voice come into souls and do incredible things. I no longer wanted what I desired selfishly anymore. My self-made plans blocked my path towards the Ultimate Prize and my communication with Jesus was hindered. By grace, God gave me the ability to listen to Him even when the answer differed from what I wanted. He’s been showing me that a lot lately, as I asked Him to change the desires of my heart so they lined up better with His. Even if we don’t realize it at the time, God’s desires and ways are far beyond greater.

If there is something hindering your relationship with Jesus, let go. I promise you, putting Jesus before everything else is the best thing any human can do. There’s no limit of how beautiful it turns out to be. He took the pain, and made it new. A new start, a new adventure, a new opportunity. We may not always hear what He has to say, or have the eyes and minds to see what’s He’s doing, but I urge you to rest in the promises He’s given you. He makes all things work for the good.


Now the question is…after we let go..what do we do now?

You wait on the Lord.

Waiting may be the hardest single thing we are called to do. God has talked to me a lot about this concept of “waiting.” The inability to control, the refusal to live in patience and trust, lies close to the heart of The Fall. Paul says we will suffer when we are waiting for the Lord to set everything right. Suffering creates endurance; endurance, character; and character, hope. Waiting is not something we do to get what we want. It is not passively waiting around for something to escape you from trouble, or to make your life more interesting.

Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. It is the active, disciplined, confident and sometimes even painful clinging to God. It requires trust, humility, and inextinguishable hope.

Pastor Matt Chandler pinpoints everything about waiting when he said, “You position yourself under the waterfall of grace and you wait, while you walk in obedience. One step at a time, one day at a time, asking God to break your heart, asking God to restore the joy of your salvation to you, asking God to make Him your treasure and you wait. Why? Because they who wait on the Lord, He will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and no longer be weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

Isaiah is right when he says those who wait, times will come when they soar. Sometimes we are not soaring, though, but we are able to run and not grow weary. There were times when Jesus soared, and other times, He wept. When it came time to take the road to Calvary, He didn’t soar, and He didn’t run. He walked. He stumbled and fell, but all he could do was get back up and walk some more. Sometimes that is all you can do. But that is enough. We must say, “God, I won’t quit. I’m putting my foot in front of the other. I’ll take up my cross. I’ll follow Jesus, even on this road.”

But none of us will ever understand this walk to Calvary. Because Jesus did it, so we didn’t have to. There will still be a lot of suffering, a lot of battles, and lot of uneventful times, but liberation will come. The light gets a little stronger each day you let go, and dance with the Lord.

Because what a blessing it is to continue to dance with the One True King…for eternity.

Many thanks and blessings to all the support and encouragement throughout all this,

God is oh, so good. 🙂

-Liz

my summer adventure with Jesus

Today, I weep at the feet of My Creator in utter fascination.

I’m ashamed how I spent the last month of school complaining about the summer, when I could have used all that energy to cherish the limited time I had left of my freshman year. All my focus was trying not to be bitter towards the opportunities my peers were going to have as they traveled, worked as camp counselors and/or went on mission trips. The behavior was selfish, immature, and embarrassing. Let’s just take a moment to thank the Lord for His Grace.

Back in March, mid-anxiety attack, a friend of mine listened to me go on and on about my discouragement. That things weren’t the way I wanted them to be. He could have made a remark on how incredibly selfish I was being. Instead he replied,

“But Liz, what better way to deepen your relationship with God than an adventure with Him at home?”

After reflecting on the past three months, I realized I’ve been partaking in the greatest adventure of all time. No, I didn’t get to hold adorable children in a foreign country and watch their eyes light up about Jesus, I didn’t get a crazy nickname, be outrageously bubbly and lead campers in the mountains, and I didn’t get an internship that will look good on a resume.

I got something better.

I found myself at the feet of Jesus, gazing up at His glorious treasures.

It is so crucial to sit at the feet of Jesus, identifying ourselves with Him, growing with Him and learning from Him before we can do any effective serving. I was such a Martha. I had this relentless desire to serve, but here I was constantly neglecting the Lord’s invitation for the greatest adventure of all time. An intimacy with Him.

The Lord meets you where you’re at, and for me, it was on I-80 with a Michael W. Smith song. There’s never a way I can arrange words together to describe the Lord’s work, but this moment in my life is something I need to share, as it serves as a major turning point. While being heavily burdened by circumstances, something inside of me just called it quits. I was done. Since I could remember, I’ve been fed this lie that fear will always have a hold on me. It ruined every positive thing I saw in myself, my life, and what was to come. I was never able to hold a relationship because of fear. I was never able to get up without wanting to crawl back in bed, because I couldn’t handle the weight. I really was never able to love myself. I was done being controlled by this lie.

So Jesus sat in the passenger seat of my little Rav 4 and took His big ole’ chain cutter to my heart as He spoke softly, “You’ve always been worried about many things, Liz. Only few are needed- or indeed only one.”

In between sobs, each chain of fear broke off, and soon enough, I was free from every atom of anxiety circling my brain. This wasn’t a moment of clarity, this was a moment of redemption. The Spirit assured me “Fearful” no longer has to be my name.

To all the people who attempted to tell me I did not have to let this be “a part of me,” I’m sorry I didn’t listen, and I’m sorry I probably snapped back at you. From what I’ve learned, we can only be changed by the grace of God. But your selfless heart to even plant that seed, regardless of what I shot back at you, shows true loyalty in our friendship. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This summer was like a rebirth. It’s almost as if I had met Jesus all over again. The more we get to know Him, the more our hearts allow Him to transform them. When God’s grace approaches, it has this ability to mold hearts into something completely new. It gives us the utmost desire to obey, walk in wisdom, and follow the Spirit’s lead. But only if we chose humility, submission and reverence at the Lord’s feet. I didn’t have to climb the tallest mountain to come to this revelation and find His glory. This powerful, profound, and intimate moment was a result of coming to Jesus with open arms, letting myself be vulnerable with Him. Matthew Elliott says this perfectly,“Power becomes real only after we recognize how utterly powerless our own efforts and duty-driven actions really are.”

Adventuring with Jesus has radically changed my life. I have experienced so much hindsight from the past, redeemed of anxiety disorder, astonished by His ultimate sovereignty in every situation, called to abolish sex slavery, and led to become the daughter my King desires me to be. I am in the midst of writing a memoir documenting the profound nature of our beautiful God through these revelations I’ve had this summer. If God wills, and enough are interested, I’ll consider publishing this testimony.

If your past is a lot like mine, or you just can’t shake off the lies, because you’re so rooted in them, remember this:

You have to choose which way you will go. You can follow the lead of the toxicity in your mind, or you can sit at the feet of King Jesus and ask for His help.

Let yourself grieve.

Let yourself be confused.

Let yourself be vulnerable.

Let yourself be held.

Then, let yourself surrender and submit at His feet.

Grace will take you from there.

Thank you for your support when I didn’t think I’d make it through. Thank you for not giving up on me. God’s blessings to each and every one of you. Have a wonderful school year!

-Liz 🙂