My heart, my soul, Lord I give You control.

Today, I was watching yet another repeat episode of Gossip Girl. Blair is clearly my favorite character. (And it’s not just because of her love for headbands!) One of Blair’s biggest fears on the show is being seen as weak. The funny thing is the reason I watch the show is because of her strength. It’s the same reason my favorite Disney Princesses are Pocahontas and Belle, they’re strong and brave. She is literally one of the most forgiving characters like ever. She will also fight with every fiber of her being for the people she loves. Now I don’t necessarily understand some of her methods, but it’s TV so, of course it’s dramatic. What struck a nerve today was a conversation she had with her mom, Eleanor, on the show. Which went like this:

Blair: “What I want is to be a powerful woman, but whenever Chuck is around, I just feel like a weak little girl.”

Eleanor: “I shut myself for a long time after your father left. I was cold and hard then I met Cyrus and he taught me that sometimes you have to allow yourself to be weak in order to grow stronger.”

Blair: “Well, that sounds good, but it feels terrible.”

Eleanor: “You don’t have to lose the girl to be a woman.”

Now, while Blair’s issue might be with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Chuck. Mine is a little different, but I appreciated Eleanor’s words all the same. I think inside of me, there is a little girl just wanting to feel safe. I crave it. My want for safety and security, is exactly what makes me vulnerable though. It doesn’t take much to make the ground underneath me shaky. Part of me doesn’t like that about myself. The more I grow up, part of me wants to be strong and independent.

There is also that part of me that’s a little girl clinging to the cross with all the faith she can muster up. I quite like that girl. I’ve started to see the strength in that little girl. Sometimes the ground will shake. Sometimes the mountains will rumble. Sometimes the storms rage. The cross is unchangeable, unmovable. Through it all, You’re constant. I am strong because I am weak. I am strong because You are powerful. That little girl that ran and told her mama that she wanted to dedicate her life to You and walked down that isle in church is still inside of me. She is growing into a woman that wants to continue that commitment she made. I want to live my life for You, Lord. I want to be a reflection of You and the love You have so gracefully shown me.

Lysa TerKeurst posted today: “Love can empower me to feel hurt without becoming a person consumed by that hurt… I can feel offended, but I don’t have to be offended. I can feel insecure, but I don’t have to act insecure. I can feel angry, but I don’t have to respond in anger. That’s the choice love makes. I have to give myself permission to be honest about my feelings. But I don’t have to compound the hurt by reacting out of those feelings. Let’s allow God’s love to take us by the hand and empower us in every situation where we don’t know what to do.” 

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I never lose that little girl inside me and the faith she found in the 2nd grade. I pray that I continue to cling to the cross with all the faith I can muster up. I pray that I continue to see your strength in my weakness. I pray that while I feel afraid, I don’t respond out of fear. I pray that your love continues to empower me. I pray that while I don’t know what to do, I am thankful you do. I pray that I take Lysa’s words and Hillsong’s lyrics with me. I thank you that your light will shine when all else fades. I pray that you consume me from the inside out, Lord. I pray that I love you from the inside out. I pray your will above all else. I pray that my purpose remains. I pray that I continue to seek you. I pray that I surrender all that I am and all that I have at the feet of the cross. I pray that I make the choice to react to everything in your love. I pray that I put my life in your hands. 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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I’m trying to hear above the noise.

I am a big fan of Jo Dee Messina. I grew up watching her videos on CMT ever single morning when I got ready for school. She posted a video today of her cover of Plumb’s song Need You Now. In the opening of the video, she talks about her struggle with her mom getting sick. Then she said: “I am my mother’s daughter, but first I am a child of God.” but first I am a child of God. Yes. I am. Before my grief. Before my pain. Before all the darkness. I am a child of God.

I’ve spent this year reading the words of Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl over and over and trying to apply it to my life. Anyone who knows me knows I hate rereading books. This book is different. Every time I read Lysa’s words, I see something different and I want to carve an even deeper relationship with You, Lord.

She wrote: “But other times the hurt comes in the form of a loss that cuts into your heart so viciously it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It’s what I call deep grief. The kind that strains against everything you’ve ever believed.” Well it certainly changed my prayer life and my perspective. The more I wanted to pull away, the more You pulled me closer. She continued by saying: “I was asking the wrong question. I was asking why. Why did this happen? Why didn’t You stop this, God? Why were my prayers not answered? Why?” Lord, You and I both know, I asked these questions and some. I couldn’t understand why my grandma had to suffer or why Christopher had to leave us so early. I had never lost anyone and then I lost two very important people within three months of each other. I couldn’t even process one before another one was gone. Why, was a constant question in my life.

Lysa wrote: “And His reasons, from our limited perspective would always fall short. That’s because our flat human perceptions simply can’t process God’s multidimensional, external reasons. God describes it this way: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can’t see the full scope of the situation like God can; therefore we must acknowledge that His thoughts are more complete and that He is more capable of accurately discerning what is best in every circumstance. In the case of losing a loved one, love skews even the most rational parts of us. Our love for the person we lost would never allow God’s reasons to make us feel any better or to understand any more fully. We would still feel as though God had made a terrible mistake. So, if asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will? The what question. In other words: Now that this has happened, what am I supposed to do with it?” 

That question is something I very much I want to answer. They weren’t perfect people. Those two knew just how to push my buttons and make me madder than a Hatter, but I want them to know I learned something from loving them. In more ways than one, they helped me pray over the past year and a half. They’ve been a daily reminder that I need You.

Further into the book, Lysa wrote: “I know that He is preparing me for what I will need throughout this day. He is already standing in every minute of my day and He sees what I will face. He’s equipping me to be able to handle what is ahead of me with His gentle boldness, quiet strength, and loving grace.” Later she adds: “Some things are fun and good; others are extremely difficult and painful. Somehow Jesus has used it all.” Then she continues by saying: “Jesus can take everything surrendered to Him and turn it around for good. Everything.”

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, I have thanked you for a lot of things over the past twenty-three years, but I have never thanked you for this. Thank you for preparing me. Thank you for giving me the courage I needed. Thank you for your gentle boldness, your quiet strength, and your loving grace. I pray that I continue to ask the what question. I pray that I continue to fall on my knees in need of you. I pray that I keep seeking you. Thank you for taking my grief and loss and using it for your good. Thank you for taking my pain and using it for your good. Thank you for teaching me and leading me. Thank you for your hand on my life. Thank you for loving me even through all the broken pieces and cracks. Lord, I am trying to follow you and listen to you. I am trying to actively seek you in my daily routine. Through everything that has happened, the more I realize how desperately I need you. I am so thankful you never left me, no matter how far I ran or pushed you away. Thank you for having open arms for 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.

But I want Your way, Yahweh.

My friend and I were going down the road and she turns to me and says: “Have you heard this new TobyMac song?” (shaking my head no.) “Here, I’ll play it for you!” TobyMac wasn’t even finished with the first verse before I was ready to cry. This was exactly what I needed to hear. This was exactly what I was going through right now. Lord, You amaze me with your timing. Your hand is literally in every part of my life.

I am a backseat driver. I completely, 100% admit it. I have trouble with trust. I want to be in control and I like being in control. Not just in the car, but in every single aspect of my life, I want to be in control. I want to make plans and decisions and have actions reflect those plans. I want to swoop in and fix things. I want my 10-year plan and all my other plans to remain intact. But the moment I remember that 10-year plan, I remember You have an eternity plan. I am learning that I can’t plan life and I control everything. (Go figure!) I can’t control what happens to me or what happens to other people. I can’t stop bad things from happening, no matter how much I would like to. There is a line between giving up and not fighting for things and completely controlling them. The line is drawn when I trust You and let you guide my life and I let You fight for me. If I am not letting You fight for me, then I am fighting against You. That is a battle I will never win. One of the big things I’ve learned this year is that I can control my reaction to those things though. I can look to You, instead of reverting back to my old habits.

My old habits have taught me that my need for control comes from a place of fear. Maybe that lady was right, maybe I am timid and afraid. I am so scared of things going wrong that I need to control every part of it. Lysa TerKeurst posted: “The enemy wants us afraid. Not the healthy kind of fear. No, the horrible kind of fear that whispers worst case scenarios absent of hope and haunted by hurt. With death on his breath Fear says, ‘Dance with me darling. Entertain my entanglements. Linger in my lies. And drink deeply from my darkness.’ All the while it pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love. Refuse Fear access to your heart, mind, and soul with the proclamation above all others – Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! The name of Jesus is Power. Protection. And Perspective that crushes fear.”

Isaiah 54:10 says: Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken. I can barely comprehend what is going on around me, much less the fact that while mountains will be shaken and hills are removed, Your love in unfailing and unshaken. Your love is deeper and more profound than anything I can even understand. Tim Tebow posted Proverbs 3:5-6 which says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

The Do You Believe movie Facebook page posted this: “I am not in control, but I am deeply loved by the one who is.” Maybe it’s time I started believing that and trusting You.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I trust you. I pray that I take TobyMac’s lyrics and Lysa’s words with me. I pray that I take Isaiah 54:10 and Proverbs 3:5-6 with me. I pray that I let go of the control. I pray that I let you take over the driver’s seat to my life. I pray that I let you fight for me. I pray that I give control to you. I pray that I see your beauty and your hand in everything. I pray that I refuse fear access to my heart, mind, and soul. I pray for your power and protection. I pray that you change my perspective. Thank you for your unfailing love. I pray that I stop leaning on my own understanding. I pray that I trust in you and acknowledge you in all I do. Thank you for reminders to trust 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.

Somehow I feel like I was born for this.

To say that War Room impacted the three of us that saw the movie last week would be an understatement. One of us went home and started making a prayer wall, like immediately. As for me and my person, we took to dramatically screaming the entire speech every time something happens now. You know, the one where Priscilla Shirer runs around her house praying and telling the devil to get out of her house. She was flawless! She had me crying the whole speech. Now, anytime something happens, we start praying immediately. There is a bug in the house? Devil get up out my house. Job interview fail? Devil get up out my career search. My car will be ready this week, but it’s going to cost more than the original estimate? Devil get up out my car. K-Love app needed to buffer and crash instead of letting me listen to the music? Devil get up out my phone. Literally. Everything.

That speech got us all riled up and ready to face anything. From the little stuff to the life changers. Today, when I got bad news I started to get upset, but a friend was on her way to take me to the rec center with her. I headed straight for the track, put on my prayer playlist, and started praying. First, I was confused and I’ll admit, I was just plain mad. But, I remembered War Room and how I needed to stop fighting battles I couldn’t win and start fighting the right battles. I changed my entire perspective and refocused my prayer.

Karen Ehman from Proverbs 31 Ministries said: “Determine today to stop hiding out in old destructive habits. Instead, come out into the light of His glorious grace and learn a new method of coping. Race to Him instead of running back to your old ways. His Word is alive and active. It can help us break horrible habits and form new, Jesus-pleasing ones as we reply with a resounding ‘No’ to returning to the dangerous familiar.” Today, I almost ran back to old habits, but I chose to run to You in prayer. Today, I chose to come into Your light, instead of hiding out in the darkness. I want to run to You, Lord.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you for changing my perspective. Thank you for refocusing my prayers. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for the reminder today. Thank you for making me a warrior. I pray that you continue to change my heart. I pray that you keep working on me. I pray that I keep falling to my knees in need of you. I pray that I keep seeking you. I pray that I keep calling your name, Lord. I pray that I trust you and trust your plan. I pray that I put my faith in you. I pray that I leave my worries at your feet. I pray that I keep my eyes on you, instead of the storm. I pray that I run to you. I pray that I leave old coping methods behind and head straight for the cross instead. Thank you for opening your arms for me today and everyday. Thank you for letting me run towards your light. 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.

Your love has captured me.

I watched this interview of Priscilla Shirer for the movie War Room. (Which, btdubbs was like sooo good. Like I cried all the way through and I felt like I was in church with the way people were saying Amen and clapping along. I will be getting it on DVD the day it comes out and I will be sitting down with a pen and pad to take notes!) In the interview, she was asked if she would ever act again after War Room. Her response floored me. She said: “If there was a project that came along that gave me an opportunity to still ride in line with the purpose that I know has been set before me for my life, I would be open to it.” Wow. Now can I please apply that to my graduation job search please? It brought me back to my youth group days, jamming out to this song:

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, I pray that you will show me the path. I pray that you will send a project along. I pray that you will open a door. I pray that you will guide me. I pray that you will lead me. I pray that I go in line with the purpose you set for my life. I pray that I am open to the opportunity when it arises. I pray that give it all to you. I pray that everything I do, I do it for you. I pray that every step I take, I take in you. I pray that I honor you. I pray that I live for you. I pray that every move I make, I make in you. You are my way, Jesus. Lord, I pray that follow you. I pray that I shift my focus to you. I pray that I put you first. Thank you for your love. Thank you for showing me your grace and mercy and love. Thank you for everything you’ve given me. Lord, you amaze me. You astound me. You literally take my breathe away with how incredible your timing is. Thank you for having a plan for my life. Thank you for this journey. Thank you for the ups and downs and all you’re teaching me. I pray that I move where you want me. I pray that I go where you need me. I pray that I learn all that you need me to. 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.

All my soul needs is all Your love to cover me.

A couple of weeks ago, someone told me they thought I was timid and scared. If she only knew that I have spent every second of the last twenty-three years trying to overcome those very words. If she only knew how far deep those words cut. If she only knew what those words mean to me. How much those words try to break me, to suffocate me.

I am a lot of things, timid and scared is not anywhere the list of my abilities. I am not weak. Those words do not define me. I am a leader and I do not take that word lightly either. In college, I gave Alpha Gamma Delta my entire heart. I took any office I could and worked as hard as I could to make a difference. I was no longer a leader because I wanted to be or I had something to prove. I was a leader because those women deserved one, because they had given me so much and all I wanted was to show them how much it meant to me. I was apart of something bigger than myself. It was no longer about me, it was about the entire chapter. I did everything I could to support them and give them what they needed to succeed. I tried to constantly train someone to replace each office I took and even ones I didn’t. It wasn’t because I thought my absence would be felt. It was so they could have my shared knowledge and experience so, they could take the office even further. It was so they could grow and do more than I ever could. I saw that chapter grow and thrive and now as an alum, I get to watch it grow even more. I mean, we had literally over 50 new members on bid day. When I got that phone call, I literally cried I was so happy for them.

I was looking for one of my old documents for a sister and I stumbled upon my senior letter to the chapter instead. Rereading my words, I felt like a completely different person. I think after I went alum, I lost a little bit of my strength, my confidence got a little shaky. Rereading my words today was a beautiful reminder of all that I have accomplished in the last twenty-three years. It reminded me of all I learned and experienced and how far I’ve grown. I was thinking back to everything I’ve done and of course I made mistakes along the way, but I wouldn’t change a thing because even those mistakes led to something or taught me something I desperately needed. Looking back, every single thing happened for a reason and I like who I am because of it. I think rereading it gave me back my strength. It was exactly what I needed today.

So, here is my advice to those beautiful new members:

Go Jags!

G: go to everything and take a sister with you. Get involved. Make connections. Go to class. Learn as much as you can. Go to the library and study. Go to campus events, sporting events. Go to the rec center. Play intramurals.

O: organization. If you want to do all the fun stuff, you’re going to need to learn a little time management. Get a planner. Splurge for the Lilly (it’s worth it). Make a budget. College will end and bills will come, so use this time as learning experience and go ahead and prepare yourself for the future.

J: journey. You’re going to tested in ways you never thought possible. There are going to be bumps along the way. Learn the difference between speed bumps and road blocks and just complete mountains. Understand it’s a process. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient. This is the starting point, the jumping off location for the rest of your life. You have new freedom, use it to learn and make a difference.

A: accept differences. If I learned nothing else, it’s that people handle things differently. People learn and speak and communicate differently. If you learn the reason why someone acted that way, it makes it a whole lot easier to see their side. Everyone has a different story to tell. Be compassionate and understanding. Be warm, open, and kind. Be careful with jealousy too because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.

G: grace. Learn it. Share it. Accept it. Be thankful for it. You are going to make mistakes, that part is certain. You are also going to get hurt by other people. You can’t control them or what they do. You can however, control your reaction. How you react to things can define who you are.

S: spirit. Paint your face. Cheer. Get excited. You’ve only got four years in college (for maybe a little more, if you’re like me). Make it count. Take pictures and cherish all the memories.

I had a wonderful four-years in Alpha Gamma Delta. I have accomplished a lot. I’ve won awards. I made memories and friendships that I cherish. I learned more than I ever thought possible. I’ve got a resume so long, I need legal size paper. One thing is for sure, I am nothing without You, Lord.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, I need you. I am nothing without you. I am nothing without your love. I am nothing without your all-consuming fire. Lord, wrap your arms around me. Surround me in your presence. Thank you for all you have given me. Thank you for the my years in Alpha Gam. Thank you for my journey at USA. Thank you for putting those women in my life. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me. Thank you for the experiences and the lessons. Thank you for teaching me forgiveness and grace and love and respect and humility and courage and strength. I pray for those new members. I pray that they grow and learn. I pray they support each other and give as much as they can to each other. 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.