Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dear Journal,

After I left church today, I came away thinking about the past year and the changes that it has brought. I began flipping through some of my journals and in them found deep hurt, joy, and above all, the unraveling of a bigger picture through answers to prayer.

December 17, 2005
"Look at my life now. My family, my church, my school, the people around me, the decisions I make...for the most part they are safe. People would probably think my life to be a success if I graduated college, became a a teacher, got married, had kids, and lived a "good" life. I can't help but wonder what does God have to say about that? I wonder if that would be how he would define success for my life. The way I see it is there are plenty of people who would love to live a life like that and will search for nothing more. And perhaps that is okay. But what could God do with me if I was willing? If I layed down my dreams before him...?! If I gave him my dreams of a husband, a teaching job, children, and ultimately my security and layed them before his feet. How would things be different? In what ways would the direction of my life change? Maybe nothing would change or maybe nothing could stay the same..."

June 20, 2007
"...Lord, protect me as I travel to Ukraine. Break my heart, but Lord, show me what to do with the pieces. I am anxious and you have told me to be anxious about nothing. Give me peace. I am weak but I believe that you will be my strength. Help me to rest in your promises. I give you this trip. Change me."

September 23, 2007
" and in church, the pastor said, "God does not waste pain" and I found that to be such a powerful statement. When I look back on the sturggles and heartache in my life, I can see how God used those to shape me and teach me valuable lessons. Lord teach me-and if I am unteachable, break me."

November 24, 2007
"...Lord, what do I do now? Where do I go from here when my everyday life has lost so much significance in light of larger things? God, my life is safe and mapped out. But is my plan really your plan? I don't want it anymore. Nothing makes sense. I need clarity. I need direction. I need wisdom..."

December 13, 2007
"...what do you want from me? I've lost my best friend, I'm dreading my student teaching and I no longer know what I want for my future. You broke my heart in Ukraine and left the wound wide open. I feel annoyed, lonely, and hopeless..."

January 6, 2008
"...'this too shall pass' right? I feel crazy. I need to use this time. I can't keep hurting and questioning like this. Become you, Elizabeth. Change. Who does God want you to be? How is that different from who you are? Get up, do something..."

February 9, 2008
"For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But not you are being asked to let go of these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you..."
~Henri Nouwen

April 27, 2008
"Last night at church the sermon was about work. The pastor talked about how so many of us are unhappy with our jobs ad yet work takes up more time in our lives than anything else. We are always telling ourselves 'if only'...or 'when this happens' then we will be happy. Wow. I am so guilty of this. But the fact of the matter is if we can't be happy today, we're not going to be happy tomorrow. We are perpetually dissatisfied when we fail to be content with what today offers. The reality is if we have food and shelter, we should be thanking God because our needs have been met. We must thank God that for our jobs-that we have something to do, and that it is good. Often times student teaching overwhelms me. I keep telling myself that when I graduate, then I will be happy. But will I? I have seven more weeks. I pray that they pass quickly but that I don't take them for granted..."

May 7, 2008
"Lord thank you for today. Thank you for little things like flowers and huge things like answered prayers. You know my heart, my dreams, my fears, and my insecurities. I know you have a plan. I ask you continue to reveal it with great clarity. Be with my friends in Ukraine. They are lost, hurt and broken. But aren't we all..."

May 18, 2008
"I am sitting on the front steps of my house and it is so beautiful outside. I love it! I feel good about life when the sun is shining :-) The ending of a school year is the perfect time for reflection. Lord, thank you for the tears and the laughter. I still struggle with thanking you in the hard times but they have been, and continue to be so valuable. I've learned a great deal about my self, life and God this year. And though it has been very difficult, God has interspersed moments of peace, joy, and awe. I feel like I appreciate the little things in life more now. I find great joy in a cup of coffee or writing in my journal on a sunny step. And that is what life is about...appreciating the little things. Reality is that life is hard but God is good and he shows his goodness in so many ways."

May 20, 2008
"...Bangs were a bad choice..."

May 24, 2008
"Last night as I was driving home from hanging out with Katie, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. There hae been some very difficult experiences this year. Looking back in my journal is a reminder that things have not alwyas been happy. But not that I am coming to a crossroad in my life (graduation) I can look back with new eyes and great thankfulness for what God has done in my life. I am thankful that I am single. I am thankful for my experience student teaching. I'm thankful for the times of loneliness for they have created in me greater independence and appreiciation for friendship. So today as I sit out in the sun, I feel feel thankful for what has been and I look forward for what is yet to come."

June 10, 2008
"So it begins. A new chapter in an old life. Here it is, Lord. I give it to you. God, I pray that you will guide me where you want me and give me the strength to do it the right way. You know my desires and fears. Do with them what you wish. Make me like you."

June 23, 2008
"If I have learned anything this year, it is that no matter how much I count down or wish a circumstance to be over, there will always be more obstacles down the road. Sometimes I struggle with finding the good in today. I don't want to just try and get through it. I want to live. LIVE. I'm tired of feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I need peace and patience. God, you know the ugliness of my heart...the insecurities and sin. Forgive me. Make me new. I need to hear from you and I need direction for this upcoming year. If I am to teach, I ask that you open that door. If I am to do something else, open that door. I need you. I feel overwhelmed.This is not a time to give up but rather, become new. What do you have, Lord? I'm watching and waiting..."

June 26, 2008
"...good day. Weird day. Good day. My heart and plans are yours. Protect and transform them. Here we go again..."

Weird that I just wrote out pieces from my journal. Weird that so many of the struggles I thought would disappear once summer arrived, have only intensified. I walked to gasworks by myself tonight and sat up on the hill. Ordinarly, I would have loved to have a friend come along. I'm not a big fan of being by myself and I've had my fair share of time alone this summer (no job :-() But I'm beginning to see a purpose in my loneliness. I need to stop relying on others to validate and entertain me. I must admit, I've never been more ready to work but I'm trying to view this time as an opportunity to learn and grow. Another lesson to add to the journal :-)

Life is crazy. That is all for now.