turning adversity into perseverance

I’ve had many people come to me with the question, “If God is so great, loves us, and protect us, then why does He let bad things happen?” First off, I’m not here to give you those answers, because frankly, I don’t know. To be honest with you, I’d stop trying to find that answer, because you probably won’t find it. I ruined myself trying to do that. If God were to actually reveal a reasoning like that to us, I guarantee all of our responses would look a little like this..;)

God did not create our brains to have that amount of mental understanding to rationalize His plans. If you haven’t figured it out already, we aren’t running the show here. To me, that is the most comforting, relieving thing there is to know. I’m not in control. In my opinion, a better question to ask when caca hits the fan is, “How can I seek God to help me through it?”

I have walked along a long, rocky road to uncover this truth. Here’s just a little bit of my story about how I turned my greatest hardship into a growing, beautiful experience.

At just ten years old, I found myself in a psychiatrist’s office insecurely trying to explain the constant fear I was in. It felt like no one understood, and I was trapped.  As the awkward years of middle school went by, I was now entering high school. Everything became so much worse. The haunting images of perfection became my shadow constantly following me, a good night sleep never existed to me, and I just wanted to be accepted. I soon turned from Liz, to Liz- the girl with depression and anxiety disorder.

Much of freshman and sophomore year of high school is a blur to me because of the deep sadness I found myself in. I didn’t see much hope for myself. I pretty much tried as hard as I could to survive up until my senior year of high school, when I gave my entire life to Jesus Christ, finally realizing the importance of living. You can read an in-depth of that story here.

The severity of this illness soon began to fade, but I still struggled immensely with fear. It just manifested itself differently, turning into a drained soul who tried everything in her power to fix people and situations. It robbed me of my very self.

It wasn’t until just a month ago I realized I cannot control the circumstances that happen in my life, but I certainly can control my reaction to those circumstances. We all have endured challenges we didn’t think we had the strength to overcome. Maybe some of us are still in the midst of that all. By surrendering and crying out to God saying, “I can’t do this anymore,” I patiently awaited for His answers. They sure did come, but in a much more wonderful way than I expected.

Here are some truths God showed me that turned my adversity into perseverance:

The first step I had to take was let the God of all comfort hold my hand through it all. I had to break down the barriers between Him and I, and just let Him hold me. You wouldn’t believe it, but I actually asked Him to break me. I wanted to be a broken vessel, because I know that would cause me to do nothing but depend on God to sustain me, and eventually use me for His glory.

When I think of the Great Comforter, a small child doing something, maybe something they aren’t supposed to do comes to mind. Usually, they fall down, hurting themselves. And what do they do? They run to daddy, arms reaching as high as they can, “Hold me! Hold me! Daddy, it hurts!” I was at this point. To be honest, it was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had with My Father. I won’t bother describing it because words will never do justice.

“To the roots of the mountains; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit.” -Jonah 2:6 (NIV)

And you know what is even better? Our God doesn’t just pick us up to say, “You need more faith. You need to seek Me more. Why do you keep ignoring Me?” He picks us up, wraps us tightly in His arms and says, “I’m here, My Child. I know…I know how badly it hurts, but I have given you strength, because I love you. I believe in you, My love.” 

Just let that sink in for a while.

Soon after we let our God pick us up, we have the peace that He is completely sovereign over us. I know how difficult it can be to let go of our self made plans. God fulfills His promises, and if we believe this, even if we don’t see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate true faith. He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Start consistently praying for the day when you are able trust God enough that you know, by faith, He is greater, and very much present when life is hard, overwhelming, and chaotic. I didn’t think that day would ever come, but my oh my, it sure did. It is by far, the most freeing experience I’ve ever had.

“It is crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. This is the way Paul thought in Philippians 3:12, ‘Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own'” (ESV). -John Piper

I don’t believe God “caused” the pain of our lives, but I am very confident He uses it to drive us to Himself. I cannot change the fact that my brain is wired in a way different than others, causing me to worry irrationally. Am I suppose to lock myself up for the rest of my life, ashamed of the mess my illness causes? There’s a much better way.

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” -Ephesians 5:14 (NIV)

Paul tell us in Ephesians that we were once darkness, but we are now light in the Lord. We must live as children of the light. So arise, my dear friends of Christ. Jesus did not die so that we can hide behind our deepest bruises and shame. He died so that we may reflect our faith, being the broken vessels we are, as we walk alongside Him. 

We can turn this adversity into perseverance to advance the Kingdom.

Paul was imprisoned because he was proclaiming the gospel. For many, this would cause many people to become depressed or to give up. Paul says in Philippians 1 the palace guard and everyone else became clear that he was “in chains for Christ.” Paul saw this imprisonment as an opportunity to spread the news of Christ. He realized his current circumstances weren’t as important as what he did with them. Paul reached out to the Roman soldiers and encouraged Christians who were afraid of being persecuted. In Acts, an earthquake so violent came, that everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up frightened, about to kill himself because he thought everyone escaped. Paul told him about Jesus, speaking the word of the Lord to him and all the others. As a result, the jailer took Paul and Silas to his house, washed their wounds and and fed them. The jailer and his entire household were baptized, and they were all filled with joy because he had come to know God. Because of the way Paul demonstrated his faith in this discouragement, “most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear,” (Phil. 1:14). When we speak fearlessly for Christ, or live faithfully for Him during difficult situations, we encourage others to do the same. What happened to Paul actually served to advance the gospel. God does the same for us.

If we run to God when trials come, He will use that challenge as a testimony to help others in the future. In the strength of God’s grace, we gain the ability to offer comfort to others that goes much deeper than mere words. We bear witness to His Word and His promises applied to our experiences.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” -2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 (NIV)

I know sometimes it hurts, and searching for hope in the midst of it all can be the most exhausting thing. But I promise you, there is hope. Rest in knowing Our Father is bigger than any of this. He never forsakes. Like Paul, we must all look for ways to demonstrate our faith, thanking Him in every situation. Let’s all be an encouragement by the way we live. My prayer for all of you is to let the Spirit transform your heart, even when the circumstances aren’t the greatest. Whether or not the situation improves, our faith will become much stronger.

I’d like to conclude with a passage from The Message: 1 Peter 1: 6-7 says, “Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.”

Take comfort, trust and arise from the battle. Because guess what? Jesus already won. 

In His bomb diggity victory,

-Liz

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when God led me into the wilderness

I thought the dull season I was going through was a result of failing as a Christian. I had done everything in my power to control circumstances when all He wanted was for me to say, “Jesus, take over.” 

I’m certain all of us have endured a season of despair sometime in our lives. The sorrowful season could be a result of an occurrence like the death of a loved one, fighting cancer, or losing a job. But some of the time, these seasons can come at the most random times, when everything seems to be going right. For me, I had felt as if I was stuck in the mud, but in complete overdrive at the same time. I had the desire to sprint so freely towards my Father’s open arms that no baggage, person or circumstance could get in my way. But why did it feel like I couldn’t? How was I supposed to spend my summer running towards God if I couldn’t even bring myself to put on my running shoes?

And it was then God said, “Liz, I don’t want you to run. I want you to be still.”

While I was in college, I didn’t have time to stop and realize how exhausted I was in every way. My schedule, body, mind, and final exams did not allow me to acknowledge the severity this was and could potentially become. As soon as I moved back to my hometown for the summer, I became aware of a level of exhaustion I never knew existed within me. All of the exhaustion from constantly going, constantly trying to meet expectations and constantly trying to have a good attitude had built up and punched me right in the face. Sometimes my Christian life feels like such a heavy weight- being a good Christian, good daughter, sister, friend, leader and person in ministry. As long as I can remember, I’ve made such an effort to figure out and rationalize life’s circumstances so I could get every aspect of it under control. My brain was constantly doing this and I let it ruin me. I felt so much pressure to DO when all God wanted was for me to simply BE. I shouldn’t have dwelled in “What can I do? How can I advance the Kingdom? How can I become a better woman of Christ?” when this whole time God was wailing His hands like crazy to get my attention saying, “MY CHILD, MY CHILD! BE STILL!!”

I feel like in today’s society we are so romanticized by achieving and staying busy, that we don’t take the time to just be. BE what God desires us to BE, instead of constantly filling our lives with doings. The gospel is not about what we do for God; it is about what Jesus did for us and how He continues to work through us. The right mindset to have is not trying to be like Jesus, but letting Jesus live His life through us. Silence and solitude are incredibly important when it comes to knowing God intimately. It is valuable to withdraw from our addictions to noise, words, and expectations of others. The Lord invites us into this stillness so He could reveal Himself to us. He then frees us all from this burden and we experience God as our ultimate reality. We release our own agendas and control and become more willing and able to give ourselves to God’s loving initiative.

Jesus frequently set aside the incredible pressure of life in order to slip away to spend time with His Father. When Jesus healed the man with leprosy, the Gospel says “the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16). Many people were running towards Jesus to hear him preach and have their diseases healed, but Jesus MADE SURE he withdrew to quiet, solitary places to pray. Many things yell for my attention and I often run myself exhausted attending to them. Like Jesus, I need to take time to go to a quiet setting and be intimate with God. Strength comes from God and I can only be strengthened by being with Him.

In 1 Kings 19:9-13, The Lord appears to Elijah. A great and powerful wind came, then an earthquake, then a fire, but God never spoke to Elijah through these. A gentle whisper came and Elijah knew it was God’s voice. God doesn’t always reveal himself in powerful, miraculous ways. He is often found in the quietness of a humbled heart.

This is where it all comes back to being led into the wilderness. Hosea 2:14 says, “Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” In this case, God promised to bring the people to a place free from distractions, (the wilderness) so he could clearly communicate with them. I felt as if I was stuck in the mud, depressed and I couldn’t hear God’s voice at all, but it really was God leading me to a place where I could give Him my undivided attention. Sometimes He needs to take those distractions away in order for us to become aware of how much we need God to function. This was guidance for me to step back from all noise and activity and listen humbly to God’s lead. He spoke tenderly to me, “be still, Liz” and I felt my heart beginning to transform, growing more in Him every day because of it. When we take the time to listen, He will lead us, and often times it is in a direction very differently than how we thought we should handle a situation or how we feel about it. God uses even our negative experiences to create opportunities to turn back to him. God can speak to us when we feel desperately alone in the desert, not just in times of prosperity.

I thought the only way to get close to God was to drop everything, put everything past us and just run like crazy toward the King. It is a way, but not the only way. Sometimes we need to be still, know, and listen. Embrace today’s present love, joy and mercy and soak it up. Dive into the depths of his glory. Whether it might be taking some time to ourselves and growing intimate with Him, shooting some hoops, going to the studio to dance, calling up a friend for lunch and discuss our sovereign God…whatever it may be, have the mindset of Him working through it all. It is not dishonoring Him if you aren’t out and about proclaiming the gospel or constantly trying to seek other things to do in order to advance the Kingdom. Growing intimately with Christ is a mission field in itself. There’s going to be times when we have to start at the basics of a relationship with Christ by accepting Him again and focusing on our personal relationship with Him.

So my dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be afraid if God allures you leading you into the wilderness. Praise Him, even if it may be a little scary, because the amount of grace and love you will feel as a result is beyond words. Hang on and be still.

God’s blessings to each one of you!

Liz 🙂

how my freshman year of college changed my life

August 22, 2014 marked the day I began this wild, but oh so marvelous journey they call college. It’s difficult to comprehend ten months ago, I had no perception of the beauty, adventure, melancholy, mental weight, life lessons, friendship, and ambition I was about to come across when I stepped foot on the sidewalks of Concordia University, Nebraska. As the title reads, yes, college has most definitely made an incredible impact on my life for the better. I am in such awe reflecting back on all the blessings I’ve encountered this past year, it would be wrong of me not to share.

I made it a goal to write a significant amount over the year so I am able to remember the small, but important details of this endeavor. Unfortunately, like every other college student, finding a balance between classes, homework, practices, God time, socializing, and SLEEPING was MUCH more challenging than it seemed, so writing had to go on the back burner most of the time. Luckily, I found some alone time here and there, which I’m certainly grateful for, or else I would have no recollection of the substantial lessons I have experienced these past ten months.

-Not everything will be perfect. I entered the beginning of college with the next three to four months already planned out in my head. I was fortunate to already have developed friendships with a few future classmates over the summer. I only wish I didn’t expect so much or become discouraged when God’s plan didn’t meet up with mine. It is perfectly okay to look forward to something, but we must remember we have a present God. If we spend every day planning our tomorrows, and not enjoy the love and opportunities He brings us today, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Expect the unexpected, because I assure you, the big man has some amazing experiences coming up.

-But naps are. Mom, I am so sorry if I ever argued, talked back, or went full-on temper tantrum when you told me to nap when I was younger. I should have taken advantage of it when I had the chance. Naps are small doses of God’s Kingdom and if you have even 30 minutes to spare, TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY. You’ll thank me later.

-We cannot fix people. I spent my entire high school experience and first semester of college exhausting myself, even to the point physically, trying to glue others’ broken hearts back together. As a “people-pleaser” since day one, I saw that I was doing the right thing. I fell into Satan’s lies believing I was irrelevant, deeply unwanted, and failing not just as a friend, but a servant in Christ as well. Thank goodness for wise friends who sit you down in residential hall staircases, take you by the hands, look you in the eye and say, “Liz, you have to stop fixing everyone.” So I did. The neatest thing is it didn’t take much to change. I simply picked up the glue and broken pieces scattered between my own baggage, and I handed them to God. God is not only completely sovereign over every aspect of my life, but He also is over every aspect of those I love and care about. I don’t have power (thank the Lord) to control circumstances. We must trust Him to take care of the ones we admire. After all, they’re His children too, and He loves each of them beyond understanding.

Make it a priority to show love to others no matter how unappreciated you may feel. Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-5, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (ESV). I learned to stop loving and serving others while expecting something in return. Jesus was humble, willing to give up his rights in order to obey God and serve people. We can approach life expecting to be served, or we can look for opportunities to serve others. Set a goal to write a small note to someone just telling them how much you love them, give someone a big bear hug, do the dishes for your mom, call up a friend and ask them to coffee. Going out of your way to make someone’s day is the perfect medicine for a heart on both sides of the act. If we say we follow Christ, we must also say we want to love as He loved too. 

-Don’t dwell in adversity. Change it into perseverance. A super rad guy came into my life a couple months back and taught me probably one of the most influential lessons I’ve encountered so far in my young adult years. I plan on dedicating an entire post to this concept in the near future, but I am still in the process of completing the experience myself. Check back soon, because it alleviates burdens upon burdens by just realizing how mighty God is over any kind of difficulty.

-If you’re passionate about it, don’t be reluctant. DO IT. This IS the time to explore. In college, you are surrounded by sports teams, intramurals, clubs, organizations, study groups, you name it. There’s many people on campus who have unique interests, it’s almost impossible not to be inspired by others. If there is a fire set within you, don’t hesitate to carry that passion out. If it wasn’t for the encouragement and inspiration of others, I wouldn’t of had the confidence to publish my own book! Take that scary risk and leap of faith, because I promise you right now, something amazing will come out of it.

-Pay attention to the people and nature around you. We often complain about how we can’t hear, see, or feel God’s presence. I am very guilty of this myself, but I learned that if we put the phone down, surrender the worry, rub the dirt from our eyes, and ultimately seek Him, we can go throughout the day indulging in God’s gracious treasures. I have seen, heard and felt so much of God through my friends, circumstances and His creation. I’m a firm believer that God sends certain people in your life for a purpose and speaks through them. I’ve been beyond blessed to have brothers and sisters in Christ to whom I can confide in everyday and hear Jesus’ words be spoken back to me. So, open your eyes, keep your ears from hearing self-focused thoughts, and lean back against Him and breathe. He’s there, so loud and clear.

-Pray for HIS will. No matter how hard it may be to sacrifice, sometimes we have to let things go in order to do God’s amazing will. God wants to give His children what they desire in their heart. However, since God is omniscient, if our desires are contrary to His divine plan, He must intercede. This was (still is) a difficult concept for me to tackle and I’ve been experiencing lots of it recently. I had such a strong desire in my heart for something, but as a Father who gives refuge to His daughter, I believe God was protecting me from terrible affliction that I could have possibly had in the future. Although I was devastated by the circumstance, I must continue to remember God’s love always knows where we need to be, regardless of the pain we have to walk through to get there.  Since God’s wisdom is unfathomably deep, “it is the glory of God to conceal things” (Proverbs 25:2). If we are fully aware of God’s plans, we actually will become even more overwhelmed than we are in our current situation. Jon Bloom writes, “the secrets God keeps from us are a greater mercy to us than we likely realize. We often forget just how thin is the sliver of reality we see and information we can contain at any given time.” There are endless reasons for why God leads the course of our lives. He is merciful to retain plans from us He knows we aren’t ready for. While Jesus was praying in Gethsemane before he was arrested, he prayed to our Father, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Jesus became obedient to God’s will humbling himself to the point of death, even death on the cross. (Philippians 2:8). We can take comfort in knowing Jesus understands obedience in suffering and what it is like to endure painful trials for the sake of eternal joy sent before us. However painful God’s will might be now, it results in joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).

Of course, there’s a large amount of lessons I’ve encountered this year that I have yet to realize and process. I still have a considerable amount of growing to do as well. I am so thankful I can confidently say I know who I am, I love who I am and I can embrace who I am, because of what I experienced my freshman year of college. Concordia has blessed me with memories upon memories including worshiping like never before, my first date, spontaneous midnight ice cream runs, a 24-hour bus ride from Michigan, auditioning for the NAIA All-American Dance Team, becoming a team captain, being hired as a barista, countless hammock trips, ask to lead next years incoming freshman, all-nighters at youth group lock-ins, and most importantly, the inspiration to fall into deep intimacy with the One who will never leave.

Thank you to my professors who incorporated their love of Christ into the lesson to make it less boring and caring not only about my academics, but well-being too. Thank you to my coaches who pushed me farther than I thought possible stressing my identity not being in dance, but very much in Christ. Thank you to my teammates for the opportunity to travel, perform, joke around, eat food and bond with the most beautiful ladies. Thank you to my “Big Sis” for always encouraging me, talking to me every day over winter break, and stroking my hair while I cried when life got hard. Thank you to my “Soul-Sister” who made me feel less crazy about my past, the multiple JD’s trips, Paul and Psalms bonding, and your loving presence. Thank you to my roommate and best friend for tolerating me for 16 years, buying me food, driving me crazy with “Your Mom” jokes, and the rolling on the floor laughing moments. Thank you to my “God-Moment Girl” for talking and crying with me about Christ’s love til 2:30 in the morning on school nights, not making fun of me an excessive amount by being almost a foot taller, and inspiring me to be strong no matter how cruddy we feel. Thank you to my “Double-Chin” girls for never ever failing to make me laugh, embracing our idiot side, and the DQ dates.Thank you to my favorite Colorado guy for the swing dancing, The 1975 fan-girl sessions, and the lesson about fixing hearts not being in my job description. Thank you to an impactful warrior of God for the coffee, the pursuit, the spiritual conversations, the beauty you’ve caused me to embrace freely and being my best friend. Thank you to all my brothers in Christ who embraced me with such brotherly love, something I never had until this year. Thank you to the best parents beyond imagination for supporting my decisions, waking up to late night phone calls, driving down for performances, giving birth to the funniest sisters possible, and your unconditional love. Thank you to everyone who inspired me to become a better Liz and face the world with Jesus on my side. You know who you are, and I love you immensely.

There’s a whole lot of love surrounding Seward’s streets and Concordia’s buildings. I’m extremely privileged to be a part of such an extraordinary university (more like a family) that makes saying goodbye for three months so hard. Driving away with the sign in my rear view mirror (sounds like some sappy movie) was more difficult than expected, but Concordia’s campus will be in my front window soon enough.

God Bless all of you, especially my fellow Bulldogs. Have a fantastic summer, and I’ll see you soon.

In Him,

Liz 🙂

trust me, i promise I will catch you

     

     Your mind begins to fill with uncertainty, and you can feel your heart beating out of your chest. Just as you put all you weight back onto your heels, feeling air beneath your feet as you fall, you start to rethink this choice. Then, just as your friend told you over and over, “Trust Me! I promise I will catch you!” And they did. Just as they had said. Everyone remembers this childhood game we all used to play. It’s mainly known as “The Trust Fall.”
     This is kind of where I am in life. I’ve survived my first month of college, and I’m still living. That’s something to be proud of right? The thing is, college isn’t really at all what I expected it to be. I’m sure this summer, when I was talking to God about all the plans I had for my future, he was just laughing up a storm. These past couple of weeks, a lot of things have been thrown at me. They aren’t necessarily unfortunate circumstances, but it has gotten to the point when I’ve been extremely overwhelmed. 
     I’m not saying I don’t enjoy college. College is actually the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve learned so much about myself, life, the importance of relationships, and my faith has just skyrocketed ever since I stepped on this campus. As I see it though, God wants so much more. 
     I lately have been asking, “God, why am I here?” “What do you want me to do with my life?” We are always so caught up with our own life and think everything will go our way. I never took the time to ask God what does he want? 
     Possibly being the most impatient person you will ever meet, I’m lacking a large amount of it, as well as trust in God. These circumstances remind me a lot of the Israelites as they were camped at the foot of Mount Sinai continuing their long journey to the land God promised them. The people began to complain about their hardships, and then Moses, their leader, began to complain as well. The thing is, God responded to Moses because Moses was crying out to God, and not to others. We must learn to take our problems to the One who can do something about it. Unhappiness occurs when our minds focus on what we don’t have. The Israelites were so blind to see what God was doing right in front of them-setting them free, making them a nation, giving them land- because they were so focused on what God wasn’t doing for them. Max Lucado puts it as, “The Father wanted his children to quit worrying about how and be content with who.” 
     I am just like the Israelites. God has constantly been showing me signs that I must surrender everything and trust Him. I can just see him saying, “LIZ! Open your eyes! I am here! I love you! Why won’t you trust me?!” To be truthful, I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because I am a sinner. I’ve been so distracted by so many things that don’t even come close the importance of walking with God. Since I’ve been running in circles not keeping my focus on him, I know God had to have me breakdown the other night so I could truly see. I needed a good kick in the pants. 
     If you’re still reading this blog post, you’re pretty cool because I realize how long this is getting. Let’s backtrack a few weeks ago…As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I am a member on the Concordia Dance Team. After 16 consecutive years of dance training, you would think I would know how to land a simple center leap properly. Wrong. For the past three weeks, I have had excruciating pain all throughout my right leg and up my lower back. I didn’t think I’d be seeing the athletic trainer this earlier on in the season, let alone having to come everyday to do exercises and electrical muscle stimulation along my hip. It came down to the point where I could barely walk, I would have several breakdowns of shooting pain, trouble sleeping, and contemplated the ER a few nights last week. In the midst of this, trying to stay on top of studies and maintaining my quirky personality was very challenging. I have been a complete mess.
     The greatest part of it all is to see all the love that comes with this difficult situation. Last Wednesday, as I was in fetal position crying in agony, I realized how badly I needed to be with God. CUNE has a worship service every Wednesday, so I limped off to the chapel that night for some good Jesus time. To think that I almost skipped it because I was in such pain..I’m SO thankful God called me to attend. The message, the atmosphere, the music, and sitting by my wonderful friends was EXACTLY what I needed. Prior to this all, I was praying that I could attend a worship service and not be afraid to show any emotion and completely surrender. My prayers were answered that night. Feeling God’s presence in the the thick of my brokenness, I felt healed, because I am. That’s not all of it. After the service, a girl who I have never met before tapped me on the shoulder and said “Hi! So I was just watching you worship tonight, and I just felt called to come over and pray for you.” Out of major shock, I took her hands and she prayed for me, quoting James 1:2-3 that “there is joy in suffering.” I’ve never experience anything like that, but I certainly loved it. 
     Some other things God has shown me “light at the end of the tunnel” is leading me to this passage I read in one of the books I have. It reads: “Pain can take over every thought and every emotion; it can put us into a pit of despair. But if we are willing to take the difficult step of seeking God within this pain, we can say to him, ‘Lord, I don’t have anything left to give, but I am yours. You have me completely at your mercy,’ and in the midst of our situation, we can cultivate an intimacy with the Lord we never dreamed possible- a greater closeness with God because of physical pain.” How neat is that, right?
     As for treatment on my leg, I have been given answers as to what the problem is, but things are still up in the air. I do know for a fact this will be a very lengthy process. It is yet just another reason as to why I must trust God. His timing is perfect. 
     To sum this incredibly lengthy blog post for you is this: We have a great God. A God who loves us beyond the world, and took our place to be killed. A God who’s sufficient for us, made perfect in weakness. He gives us all we need. Keep clear vision of the cross instead of focusing on the how, because we must trust him. When we fall, he will catch. That’s a promise. 

Many blessings to whomever read all the way to the end!
God Bless,
-Liz 🙂

why am i a Christian?

As many of you may have seen, I posted a video on my Facebook page answering the question, “Why am I a Christian” under three minutes. I moved to Concordia University about three weeks ago, and I’ve been attending Christ Lutheran Church Room 211 since then. Although my church back home will always have a special place in my heart, I’m really beginning to like this place. The church’s pastor encouraged us to share our testimony with our Facebook friends, videotaping ourselves talking about when Jesus became real to us. Since I am a talker, and could go on and on and on about how overwhelmed I get by the love of God, I wish my video could have been a bit longer. That’s why I decided to write my testimony here! 🙂

As I mentioned in my video, my first couple years of high school weren’t really what I would call the “glory days.” I struggled immensely with anxiety, depression, self esteem, and tried way to hard to be accepted by others. It wasn’t until the summer between my junior and senior year of high school when I truly claimed the faith I had my own. That fall, in my English Composition class, we had to write a personal narrative, and I decided to focus on the privilege I had that summer to attend the LCMS National Youth Gathering in San Antonio, Texas. Here’s my story…

~A Blissful Epiphany~

Unfavorable thoughts raced through my mind, destroying every bit of idealism that passed through. Filling cups up to the brim, my head was compacted with uncertain circumstances that continually overwhelmed my life. My pupils grew wider as my eyes were fixed against my reflection. Staring back at a person I did not want to become, but unfortunately emerged into. Tears trickled down my cheeks while the beige linen soaked up my afflictions. This perpetual agony was the result of allowing one to dictate my happiness. One moment, he gazed back into my eyes, confessing the beauty he saw within me, the next, there is no acknowledgement to my existence. Milliseconds of eye contact were all it took to bring me back to the stark reality, knowing it’s over. Feeling demoralized than ever before, the salty droplets began to develop into tsunami tides, which then became a daily occurrence. Until a sudden moment, everything changed.


My heart anxiously waited healing and longed to be mended together with love. Fortunately, opportunity struck my interest. As the euphoric sun grew warmer and school no longer existed to me, I was blessed to travel to San Antonio for the biannual National Youth Gathering. Anticipation bubbled up in my stomach from the excitement occurring. I began to remove my mind from past situations I was in; I was attending with a positive attitude. I told myself repeatedly, “Now is your time to start over with a clean slate and enjoy yourself.” Only my mind can determine whether or not I am happy.

Looking down from the skyscraper hotel room, minuscule ants marched the streets of the city with teal backpacks around their shoulders just like mine. The little hand finally reached the six on the analog clock, and we journeyed towards the glass building. With every step I took further to the stadium, I hoped for a new story to reveal back home. Shuffling into the massive arena, I perceive just a glimpse of the overwhelming satisfaction about to occur. The flashing and radiant stage lights beam across my cheeks as a grin develops upon my face. I cannot believe I am here. Minute after minute, thousands of teens piled through the doors with the same expression as me. I am ready for an experience of a lifetime.

Every double door I view, innumerable bodies appeared before me. The bearded man slammed his foot against the bass, feeling the vibration up and down my spine. Ivory keys on the piano and coiled strings of guitars joined together in unison. Chills ran through my veins while blood pumped through my heart, making it beat faster and developing a sensational feeling. I turned my body forming a diminutive circle around myself, absorbing the atmosphere. Section by section, palms of various colors and sizes began to rise above our heads as we all praised our King. My vocal chords strenuously rubbed against each other as I belted out the songs of glory.

Each speaker chosen to declare their testimony supplied it with inspiration and a message to all. A thin, shiny headed man stepped up the stage and emphasized three words that will endearingly live in my heart. Pausing between each syllable to show importance, he softly chanted, “You. Are. Forgiven.” I have repeatedly obtained words related to this, but never accepted the sincere grace given to me.

Instructed to do so, thin sheets of paper were sent forth individually to the row I was seated in. “Write down whatever is on your mind. Confess your wrongs, and let go of your pain,” advised the man. My sweaty fingers clung the lead pencil while the graphite scratched against the shriveled sheet. Allowing a faint sigh to be caught, I folded my misery now etched in writing, and gripped it between my palms. 25,000 creased papers made their way to the edge of the stage, where a cross awaited. Thousands by thousands, confessions were poured onto the scorching fire turning my sins to complete ash.

The woman’s painted fingers stroked the keys filling the silence with peaceful notes. Involuntarily, my fingers intertwined one another and my eyelids began to close. Lowering my head, I reached out to my King showing Him my desperation. “Preserve my life; in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.” Quiet sobs filled up my throat hoping the pain would all go away. I then rose up my crippled body that was curled together with agony.

Rolling my shoulders back, I no longer felt the pressure among my bones. Knives didn’t slash though my heart like they used to everyday and glimpses of self-worth flashed before my eyes. Waterfalls of tears flowed down my cheeks, overwhelmed with His great love. And just like He cried out 2,000 years ago, I knew, “It is finished.”

As the sun rises and sets endlessly and the hour hand makes its daily rounds, temptation still reveals my past to me.  Despite this distress, the great book states, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” An innocent, selfless man burdened Himself to release my worries, then disastrously murdered just so I could live. Considering Himself, “a friend of sinners” overflows my heart with serenity. Obtaining the realization, I now fathom His eternal companionship and guidance towards His wondrous plan.

My perspective of life changed from learning that He has “plans to prosper and not to harm, plans for hope and a future.” The Lord granted  me understanding to sustain love because He defines the sentiment.

A reason to let one control my dignity no longer exists to me anymore. The King appreciates my genuine worth, and I am beloved by Him. When temptation arrives again, and my eyes are fixed against what I once thought was a horrible reflection, I will smile, because His love never runs out on me.

It’s kind of crazy to me that I feel even somewhat comfortable sharing this with everyone now. This whole “blog” thing was really out of my comfort zone at first, and now all I want to do is share the Word of God with others.  Ever since that experience, I’ve longed for more and more of God. He opens my eyes every day to see more of His beauty, grace and love. Of course, I’m not perfect. FAR FAR from it actually, but I use the learning experiences I get from sin to become the woman of God that I am suppose to be. I encourage you all to think about why YOU chose to follow Jesus, and if you feel up to it, share your testimony with others! It may make a difference.

Thanks for reading!

God Bless,
Liz 🙂

College: New Friends, New Opportunities, New Me


It’s been a week here at my new home in Seward, Nebraska, and it sure has been extraordinary. Two years ago, I would have never thought I’d be where I am right at this moment. There’s no way I would believe it if someone from the future told me I would be attending Concordia University, Nebraska with an academic and athletic scholarship for dance team. To say that I am blessed is an understatement. I feel so much more than that. All of this grace, love and peace given to me in my life is just one of the infinite number of examples to why we have such a great God.
It’s crazy to think that just last week, I was boxing everything up from my room back home. I packed everything from old vinyls for my record player, (yes, I listen to records) to dental floss, and I STILL managed to forget something. What college kid doesn’t, right? Thank you, Lord for the Wal-Mart three minutes from campus!
I moved in last Friday expecting the move to be incredibly stressful. In reality, it couldn’t have gone any smoother. There were so many students outside of the hall ready to move stuff in and greeted my family and I with a smile. As I entered Room 212 in David Hall, it was hard to believe that this is where I’ll be living for the next year. I actually am guilty of calling it “home” once or twice this week. I wasn’t expecting to do that until later on in the year.
As I was all settled in, and I sadly hugged my family good-bye, I was more than ready to begin this new chapter of my life. With just a week in, there’s not much you can tell by it, but the adventure so far has been a blast. I’ve met a crazy amount of genuinely kind people, who have such a love for the Lord. Not only does their faith inspire me to grow in mine, but they are truly a joy to be around, hang out with, and of course, laugh with. I’ve spent nights watching Netflix with friends, rocking it at Ultimate Frisbee (that was sarcasm), cheering on the Bulldogs, improv worship sessions, and just an endless amount of smiles.
Although I am enjoying my college experience so far, the most rewarding part of this journey has been the rapid growth in my relationship with God. I was so grateful and happy when my professor, classmates, and I all prayed together thanking God for the education and opportunities here. That’s something I didn’t get to experience at a public school. Even with just a week under my belt, I can already feel my faith strengthen by being around my new friends, professors, coaches, and endless worship opportunities on campus. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this is where I’m supposed to be right now. God’s plan for me was to attend this extraordinary university, and I won’t ever be able to put to words how blessed that makes me feel.
Back at home, I thought I tried my best to do everything through God, but being here now, I don’t think I tried hard enough. I’m not upset about this, because learning from yourself is a big part of developing into who you are. Although this is true, looking back, I feel that instead of focusing on how stressed, heartbroken, and reckless I sometimes became, I should have seen the big picture. God needs to be my number one priority.
Of course, typing that out is easier said than done. This will be a challenge, but I accept this challenge with arms wide open ready for my Father. I see Him everywhere now. I see His light shining through my window when I wake up in the morning. I see Him give me hope through the smiles and “hellos” of strangers I have yet to get to know at Concordia. I see His strength as he motivates me to get through that turn sequence one more time at practice. He is truly with me. Everywhere. That couldn’t make me anymore at peace.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved high school, and college is far from a piece of cake. I realize that trials will be experienced and tough decisions will have to be made. But to put it simply: I am so happy. I’m happy that I get to be here, and I can be who I want to be. All throughout high school I sadly tried to be like everyone else in order fit in. Not everyone is perfect, and us students are still immature and judge each other, but I feel so much more accepted here. I’ve heard many people say, “High School is honestly the best four years of your life!” I’m sorry to whoever believes that, but to me, it’s far from the truth. College will be, but not just college, college at Concordia University. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for me next. Here’s to the next four years.

God Bless,
Liz 🙂

Here’s just some pictures from this last week. 🙂



sista, sista!

August 12, 2014 might just be an ordinary day to the majority of the world, but eleven years ago today, I met my youngest sister, Ellie Marie. Now, if you follow me on other social media, you saw that Ellie’s birthday was yesterday, and probably wondering why I am posting this now.

Let’s flashback 11 years..
August 10, 2003: I was just your clueless seven year old who had no idea what childbirth was, or the complications that may come along with it. That night, I remember my mom and I watching the annual “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel. I was obsessed with sharks then, and I don’t know why. I could tell my mom was not herself. She was 29 weeks pregnant and hurting badly. For those of you who don’t know, a normal pregnancy is around 40 weeks or so. When she couldn’t handle the pain any longer, she told me to go upstairs and get ready for bed. My dad was on his way home to pick my mom to go the hospital and grandma was on her way to stay with me.

August 11, 2003: I remember this morning vividly. I walked down the stairs in my pink princess nightgown and saw grandma sitting at the table reading. I asked her, “Where’s Mommy and Daddy?” She began to explain that my baby sister was born earlier that morning. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited! I was waiting so long for that day and she came early! With concern in my grandma’s eyes, she began to explain that this is not a good thing. Ellie was born premature eleven weeks early at 2 lb 9 oz. Ellie was fighting for her life and terribly sick. No one knew if she was going to make it or not. As a seven year old, this was incredibly confusing, and I didn’t understand. I wanted to see my mom and Ellie so badly, but Ellie was much too sick to see her that day.

August 12, 2003: My dad came home from the hospital and picked both Hannah, my other sister who was only three at the time, and me up and took us to see my mom and Ellie. I remember my dad telling me that it’s going to be a bit scary seeing such a small baby and lots of wires stuck to her. My dad was right. The first time I laid eyes on Ellie, I thought she was a tiny baby doll you’d buy in the toy section at Wal-Mart. She was incredibly small, and I couldn’t even tell what she looked like because she was covered wires. Despite how scared I was, I put my finger between Ellie’s fingers and she squeezed. That was the beginning the “The Schmidt Sisters.”

Ellie’s birth was one of the most difficult things my parents have gone through, but by the grace of God, Ellie fought for her life and grew stronger everyday. It was a difficult and emotional year, but we made it through. Ellie is now a very entertaining, crazy, caring eleven year old and one of my best friends.

My family calls today “Sister Day” because it was when Hannah, Ellie and I met for the first time. Every year we have done something together to celebrate how thankful we are to have each other, and praise God that He provided Ellie with such strength. When I was younger, all three of us bickered all the time. (Sorry Mom and Dad.) But as I’ve grown older, I started to realize how important they are to me. My senior year, I had quite a bit of friends problems, finding out what ones are true and the one’s who aren’t. It happens, unfortunately, and was heartbreaking for me, but I gained something truly wonderful from this experience. I learned that no matter how bad I screw up in life, or what I wear, feel, act like, etc., I will always have two beautiful and loving young women there by my side. Their unconditional love for me overwhelms me. I don’t know what I did to deserve such wonderful sisters.

Banana and Elle-Belle,
I’m so proud of the young ladies you’ve become. I’m so proud of how strong your faith in God is at such a young age. I’m so proud of how you carry yourself, and how you show love to everyone around you. I’m honored to know that I am considered your role model, taking after me, and loving dance as much as I do. I can’t thank you two enough. For everything. For inappropriate dinner conversations, random hugs, wiping my tears away when boys broke my heart, movie nights, improv dancing, and so much more. Leaving you girls to go to college is going to be the hardest part, but our video chats dates will sure be interesting. I love you two forever and always.

-Your big sister, who may be shorter, but will always be wiser. 🙂

Here’s just some of the many favorite pictures I have of us throughout the years. Call up your siblings today and just remind them how much you love them. Families gotta stick together!

For more information on how you can help premature babies like Ellie, visit http://www.marchofdimes.com. It’s such a wonderful organization, and I’m so happy I got to volunteer with them and give back for the support they generously gave my family and me. 
Thanks for reading!
God Bless You,
Liz 🙂