You feel that fire you been missin’.

It’s no secret that it’s been pretty dark recently. I’m coming out of the other side of it now and things are looking a little brighter. So, let me tell You about my day, Father, even though You already knew what happened and You were there, I know You like to hear from me. I’m trying to do a better job of talking to You more because it’s just plain nice to hear from people you love.

This week is teacher appreciation week at work, so I got spoiled yesterday. And this morning when I regretted skipping breakfast, what comes around the corner? Panera bagels for the teachers. And we both know Panera bagels are my fave.

I also had a doctor’s appointment for my physical for foster parenting classes. I was just going to come back after, but they said I could have the rest of the afternoon. So ya girl was very gracious and went wild with errands.

I usually have this little bitty issue seeing doctors and mechanics because both of them tell you something needs fixin and it’s gonna cost an arm and a leg. Not today Satan. When I go to the after hours clinic, I have to get my blood pressure checked three times because I get that pesky little “white coat” syndrome where I get all nervous. (Part of this anxiety comes from having to tell a stranger why I’m on an anxiety/depression med in the first place and having to retell my story). But not when I go to my regular doctor! They congratulate me on how good my blood pressure is. Like yass home girl is not stressed today, thank you! Then Dr. Nice Man comes in saying heyyy friend. Like yasss this is why I come here. No stress. I give updates on my life and any stress I’m facing, which recently has been a lot. But when it’s all said and done, Dr. Nice Man goes: how’d you get such a good life? Yasss fam. My answer: I am blessed. It ain’t me.

Here I am thinking of stress and Dr. Nice Man saw a good life. And it is, such a good life. I have had some dark days lately, but it’s such a good life. Thank you Father so much for that reminder. I am so blessed. So let’s continue this list of blessings today. I didn’t have to pay for the physical for some reason unbeknownst to me. I got my tag renewed and my driver’s license renewed. With. No. Line. I got my finger printing done. With. No. Line. I got my oil changed and tires rotated. And it’s Lady’s Day so I got a $5 discount. And I found my gift certificate for a free oil change (it wasn’t expired like I thought!). Thank you Express Oil Change. I got dinner with the fam. I’m half-way through book 3 of the series I’m reading. My car insurance got discounted another $5 a month today.

Did I forget to mention that Dr. Nice Man wrote at the bottom of my physical that he recommends me to become a foster parent “without reservation”? like thank You Jesus I needed that today.

And instead of moping around the house this weekend because I’m not a mom yet, I am going to be sitting beside the pool (probably finishing my You’re Going to Be Okay book that my Jesus friend sent me-she is always pointing me back to You). Things are not happening on my timeline and things are not going according to my plan, but God, You are so much better.

So, here is my prayer today. I am going to be a mom, one day, maybe not this weekend, but some day. But even if I never make it, even if I’m never a mom, You are still good. It’s still a good life. Thank you for good days and for the bad ones. Thank you for little blessings and big miracles. Thank you for being near. Thank you for creating such a beautiful world. Thank you for hugs and I love yous. Thank you for phone calls and texts checking in on me. Thank you for errands and thank you for the time to run them. Thank you for bluer skies and music on the radio to sing along to. Thank you for your word. Thank you for reminders of your love. Most importantly thank you for listening and loving me. Thank you for wanting a relationship with me. Thank you for building trust and for pursing me. Thank you for being patient with me and holding me together. Thank you for being you. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Even in the madness there is peace.

So, today I watched that Transformation Church sermon I meant to watch yesterday. And obviously You meant it for today and not yesterday. Obviously, Your timing is always good.

The sermon was titled: Are you having a heart attack? Like yes, sir. It feels like my heart is out of my body and walking around in the world around me, but I can’t get to it. Like my gut is being continually ripped out. It’s physical pain. When I’m not crying or throwing up, I’m numb. When I’m numb, I’m angry and short. It feels like I’m stuck behind a glass watching everything happen. I’m tapping on the glass, trying to get back, telling myself: hey, hey you, yes you, this is not who you are, stop this.

But somehow, I know You can use even this. Somehow there’s moments of peace that surpass all understanding.

On paper, I look defeated. I have too many mountains to climb. I’ll never make it. I should just quit now. Just count me out now. But somehow, joy comes in the morning. Whether I took one tiny step today or I got my whole 10,000 steps in. Joy still comes in the morning. Regardless of my situation. Regardless of my circumstances. Regardless of how I feel. Because joy comes from You and You alone.

The opening of the message was a reminder of the previous message titled: Ducks in a row. The message included an assessment between having your ducks in a row and digging a hole. Having your ducks in a row included: faith for the future, acknowledgement for You, and using what we have now. The digging a hole portion included: fear of failure, assuming of You, and excuses for what I have now.

Now, Incredibles 2 taught me the other day that if I want to stop digging a hole, I have to first put down the shovel. Lord, have mercy, I was floored. You mean I had the power to get out this hole, the whole time? Yes I did, because You gave me that power and I didn’t use it.

Pastor Mike Todd taught in the message that we have to first deal with our selfish heart. Yes, ya girl needs to do that. The second thing is to deal with a grieving heart. Well, yes, check that for me too. He said that thing we’re missing that we’re grasping on to, wasn’t even ours to begin with. You gave that very thing. The third thing is to develop a generous heart. He talked about his little toddler in the bathtub with her rubber ducky. She said mine when her daddy asked her to share. The pastor asked: when are we gonna grow up and be like the Father? Blessed be the day. Ok. Ok. Then the fourth thing is to develop a grateful heart. He asked: Do you remember what I brought you from? Alright. Alright. Alright.

So, this is my prayer today. I pray that I deal with my selfish heart. I pray that I deal with my grieving heart. I pray I develop a generous heart. I pray I develop a grateful heart. Lord, let them see you in me. I pray I pursue you. I pray that I put down my shovel. I pray I get my ducks in a row. I pray that I spend more time in the word. I pray that I create healthy habits, and in order to do that I needed this heart check. I pray that wake up and do a heart check every morning. I pray that I look towards you always. I pray that I listen for that still, small voice. I pray that I see your hand in my life. I pray that I realize where all of these blessings come from. Lord, guide my life. I pray I put my heart back into your hands. Because it is my choice. Just like Pastor Mike said, it’s not love if it’s not a choice. This is my choice Father, I want to give my life solely to you. I want to give you my treasure, my heart, my past, my present, my future, everything I am and everything I have. Because it’s always been yours and yours alone. I know where my joy comes from. I know who my joy is. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so.

I watched some sermons on YouTube again this morning and I meant to click another one from Transformation Church. Somehow it loaded a Priscilla Shirer message instead. I paused. My first thought was uh-oh. The next thought was ok, Father, I see what You did here, I’m listening.

And let’s be real for a second, Priscilla is my fave so I was not bothered when the intended video was changed. Her message was titled: God will use your abandoned boat. Like ok, I get it. I abandoned my boat.

Priscilla talked about how You don’t shame the men for getting out the boat because they were frustrated. She pointed out the men were cleaning the nets, so their intention was to use them again. They weren’t giving up, just taking a time out. Then Priscilla says when this is over, there is an assigned that’s still been assigned to you. Like ok, ok.

She said in verse 2 of Luke 5, Simon got out of the boat. In verse 3, You stepped in. You step on the very thing causing me pain and used it as a platform. She continued with the place where I didn’t have what it takes, is exactly where You will plant Your feet. The emptiness I feel is what she called a God-margin, the place between what I can do and what You can do. Priscilla said if there is emptiness, You intend to fill it. You have something planned for this little ole fishing trip. In the huge crowd of people trying to get Your attention, You saw the little ole fishermen who had a rough night fishing. She said, You see us too. You are always near. We serve a God who isn’t waiting on Heaven to have a relationship with us.

Priscilla also pointed out that Simon was not alone, there were others there in the frustration with him, helping him clean his nets. We are built for connection and relationship. Isolating myself will not get me back in that boat faster. In fact, I cannot do it at all on my own.

I also watched a message from Steven Furtick. In the message he told a story of swimming in the water with his kids, how they got carried away by the waves and got too far out without realizing it. His feet couldn’t touch the bottom and what he used to know felt more stable. I felt that. Steven talked about before Jesus’ ministry, there was the wilderness where temptation is.

Ya girl been in the wilderness. Ya girl stayed there too long too. Because like Steven said, it’s easier to reject yourself in advance instead of opening yourself up to rejection again. To really be loved requires vulnerability. Ya girl took herself out of the boat. Steven said sometimes we’ve been writing a story so long, we become a slave to it. He said self-pity is comfortable. I felt that too. He said the devil uses the word to twist the truth, to trade truths. I was stuck between two truths, like Steven preached, the one is the situation and the other is the revelation. Ya girl is leaning into the revelation today.

Priscilla talked about the wilderness too, she said the wilderness will either kill me or make me stronger. She said don’t let the wilderness in you.

So, this is my prayer today. Thank you for the lessons in the wilderness. Thank you for loving me too much to leave me there. Thank you for being near me in the wilderness. Thank you for encouragement and relationships and people to help clean up the messes. Thank you for not abandoning me when I abandon my assignment. Thank you for letting me participate in the miracles. Thank you for not giving my assignment to someone else every time I fail. Thank you for using me. Thank you for giving me opportunities to learn and grow. Thank you for filling my God-margins. Thank you for filling my emptiness. Thank you for stepping into my pain and frustration and using it for your glory. Thank you for allowing little ole me to come and worship good and holy you. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Open my ears, I wanna hear You speak.

I want to curl up in my bed with my Bible until I can process this. I want to shut out all the noise and distractions and opinions. I just want You, God. I am starting to lose my mind. Wait, back up, that process has most definitely already started. I want my mind back…on You, God.

Before Church this morning, I wanted to hear some preaching before the preaching. I pulled up Steven Furtick again. This time he was talking about Joseph’s dreams again. He’s preached on the importance of telling your dreams to the right people before and how to protect your God-given dreams. This message picked up right there and carried on.

Steven said: “a dream will make you bold.” Well check. I got bold alright. I started doing my best to move mountains and shake up the Heavens. Then he talked about the dream we see in one part of our life will show up later in a different dimension. His second point was that: “a dream makes you different.” Check. Check. The last point was that: “a dream can become a distraction.” Well that is exactly where I am now. I am not sure if this is a test to see if I have what it takes to keep going or if You are giving me an out because this isn’t what You wanted or if this is where I learn how to handle things going forward.

Joseph had the courage to wear his father’s coat, knowing his brothers hated him. He shared his dream with them, knowing them would hate him even more. Maybe it was immature to share his dream with his brothers, knowing how they feel about him. Maybe it put too much pressure on the dream by telling people that hated him. Maybe the dream changed because of our own agendas. Maybe we lose all sight of the dream and make it all about us. But You can use even this mess for Your plan.

I don’t want to leave my coat hanging up in the closet. I want to follow You and when I do, dreams will follow. Steven preached the dreams followed Joseph into slavery, into prison, into the pit, into all of it. Then Steven said: “you’ve got the right dream, you just need to see it differently. What if your dream was just the first draft? Are you open to a revision?”

Then the preaching took the message home for me. Steven taught God develops dreams in the dark room. Your dream is developed by a professional. Do I have the patience to let it develop? Do I have the courage to hand You the negatives? Even in the darkest places of my disappointment.

Then today at Church of the Highlands, Pastor Chris got me all riled up for Easter. He preached on Freedom and how each of the things Jesus went through were promises fulfilled for us. The whip was freedom in my body. The crown of thorns was freedom in my mind. The nails were freedom in my hands, for everything I’ve ever done and every time I’ve gone too far. The last point he made was the spear was freedom in my heart. That’s when I started weeping. Because when they stabbed Jesus with the spear, He was already dead. His blood was mixed with water because of heart failure. It wasn’t the 39 stripes that killed Him. It wasn’t the crown of thorns pierced into Head. It wasn’t the nails stabbed into Him. It wasn’t the suffocation. It wasn’t even the spear in His side. It was heart failure. His heart was crushed.

And He did all of this while holding onto His peace. Through it all he went like a lamb headed to the slaughter. He went willingly and without persecuting His enemies. He could have stopped the whole thing at any time, but He didn’t. He was loyal to You, Your plan, and my salvation.

Even in my darkest places of disappointment. Even when I am heartbroken. I can still carry peace. I can still follow You. I can still extend grace. I can still find You. Steven preached: I’m in the center, but not for status, for service. The greatest thing You are going to do for my life is use it to contribute to others. He said: I don’t have to be the one singing the song, I just have to be a part of it. The dream isn’t about me. The end of 2 Chronicles 20:15 says: the battle is not yours, but God’s.

So, this is my prayer. I pray for peace. I pray I hold onto that peace. I pray I hold onto you. I pray I remember that I am not God. I pray I remember who you are. I pray I remember the whole point of the story. I am not the whole story, Father, you are. I pray you develop my dream. I pray I leave it to the professional. I pray I trust you with the negatives. Thank you for freedom in my body. Thank you for freedom in my mind. Thank you for freedom in my hands. Thank you for freedom in my heart. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for taking what was meant for me. Thank you for taking it while holding onto peace. Thank you for taking it like a lamb. Thank you for reminding me the whole purpose is service. Thank you for reminding I am not alone. The dream is not about me and what I want. I am sorry I try to make it about me. I am sorry I rush things. I am sorry I put my agenda before your plan. I am sorry I put pressure on the dream. I am sorry I let the dream become a distraction. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And you can bury the workmen, but the work will go on.

“They thought it was over, that His name would fade away.”

Lettttttttt me tell how many times I put that song on repeat yesterday. Your. Name. Will. Not. Fade. Away.

The work will go on. This is not about me. Every single bit of this is about Your plan and Your glory. I am just one part of it. My world crumbled, not the world. I get so caught up in what’s going on in my life that I get selfish sometimes.

Maybe sometimes my world needs to crumble so I remember who is in control. On Wednesday night at Bible study, we studied Matthew 20:1-16. It’s a story about these workers in the vineyard. These people are hired and given their pay and they work all day long. Then these other people are hired and given the same pay and they only work for an hour.

At first everyone thinks this is unfair and they get jealous. We all immediately jumped to the defense of the people working all day, immediately relating to them. Like it was an instantaneous feeling. We didn’t even blink an eye.

The truth is, we are most definitely the ones showing up late to the party and getting the same reward. Jesus, You, put in the work. For me. On the cross. Jesus, You, put in the work. In me. On the regular. (every hour I need thee.)

I am chosen. Yet I question Your grace, alllll the time. I’m trying to read the Word, cover to cover. And usually when I study it that way, I don’t make it out of Genesis. But I am determined this time so I’ve made it, ya know, all the way to Exodus so far. So I’m reading Exodus and it’s going on and on about the exact size that the curtains need to be for tabernacle and what kind of yarn needs to be used. It is literally so specific and detailed. I’m not gonna lie, I literally read part and was thinking why do I need to know they used a half yard here and half yard on the other side, like for real? Then I heard that still small voice say: because if You care so much about fabric choice for a meeting place for worship, doesn’t He care soo much more for me? That’s a building and You are intentional with it, so imagine how much more You are with me, Your child.

In both lessons, I learned how You are deliberate and unrushed. Your love astounds me daily. It’s hard for me to believe in all of my sin and my shame and my mess, You choose me again and again. You rescue me again and again. You give me grace again and again. You seek me out again and again. You pursue a relationship with me again and again.

So this is my prayer. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your love. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for wanting me. Thank you for never leaving me. Thank you for patience. Thank you for being deliberate and unrushed. Thank you that it’s not about me. I would make a terrible god. Thank you for not being persuaded by my arrogance. Thank you that your spirit moves in and your will be done. Thank you that the message is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for working so hard to save me. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And I’m not holding onto You, but You’re holding onto me.

Usually when my world starts spinning in the opposite direction I want it to, then I come to You asking why this and why that. I learned a few years ago, that why is the wrong question. The right question is what am I going to do with what I left?

I know in my heart that’s what I should be asking. I know in my heart exactly what I should be doing. I know exactly where to go from here. I’ve been to rock bottom before. I’ve had my world taken away. I’ve been lost and confused.

When I feel like I’m losing control, I used to do something I could control. I would dye my hair, chop it all off, rearrange my bedroom. And when I’m really, desperately losing it in the moment, I clean, like deep clean, hands and knees on the floor scrubbing.

I learned that I was never in control though, You are. You had me then. You have me now. And You will still have me next time my world falls apart.

I’ve known rock bottom, but this is deeper. This is messy and wayyyy down deep underground. I’m gonna have dirt under my nails from climbing out of this for a while. I am not going to come out on the other side unchanged. But I will climb out. Because I have an Almighty Father that loves me too much to leave me in this hole I built. Thank you Abba. Thank you Daddy. Thank you Father. Thank you PaPa.

Thank you for providing lighthouses in the storm to guide my way home.

So here is my prayer. Thank you for this. Thank you for this. Thank you for this. This was not my plan, but my God, your plans are greater than my own and I will trust you! You have eternity in mind. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for never leaving me to face the storm alone. I love you Father and I am relying solely on you. Thank you for holding me. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Then I wouldn’t know that Your love coming home.

I felt like I was being punished. I felt like this was all of my fault. Because of my sin? Or maybe because I asked for my life to be interrupted? I asked to be a disciple maker. I asked to be your hands and feet. I asked for this. Because they hated You first? Or maybe because I heard what I wanted to hear instead of what You were actually telling me? Maybe instead of following Your will, I was following my own agenda? Maybe I just wasn’t for this? Maybe I just wasn’t good enough for what I wanted? Maybe I still have a lot to learn? Maybe I wasn’t ready? Maybe this was all supposed to be some kind of test that I failed?

I watched Steven Furtick’s Maybe God series when I was going through a decision making process so I thought it only fitting to start Lysa Terkheurst’s disappointment series when I am going through disappointment.

In the first episode, Lysa teaches straight out of Genesis. She taught about how You asked two questions before giving any consequences. Adam and Eve invited sin and darkness and pain and hurting and shame and yes, disappointment. They invited those things into the world when they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The enemy tricked them into thinking that their eyes would be open to that knowledge and that would make them like You. But it only opened their eyes to the weight of the bad, the weight of guilt and shame, the weight of heartache and disappointment.

The first question You asked is: where are you? You went looking for them when they went hiding. Thank you so much for seeking me when I should be seeking You, for never giving up on me, and always finding me. I would love to say that since I’ve become a Christian that I am always found, but boyyyy howdy can I get lost still. The difference is that I no longer stay lost, I don’t have to hide anymore.

The second question You asked is: who? You want Your labels to be our labels. You want us to know whose we are and who we are. You want us to be labeled Your child, Your beloved. You don’t want shame and guilt and disappointment and hurt to be our labels. Then Lysa says what she always says that sinks right into my heart: You love us too much to leave us the way we are. You want so much more for us.

Lisa taught about how we’re doing life on earth with eternity on our hearts. We’re looking for perfection. It’s Your way of leading us home.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for leading me home. Thank you for labeling me your child. Thank you for trying to protect me from my own sin. Lord, I live in a fallen world and I seek out the darkness that I invite into my world. But Abba Father, you love me too much to leave me in that darkness. You put a light in me, your light. The darkness and disappointment is not a result of me following you and being found, it is a result of the mercy you gave me. The consequence for not following those instructions was death. You chose mercy instead. You saw that I was worth saving. You called out to me. You sought me out. You want me to just come home. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.