You’re the One that guides my heart.

I went to the Women’s Event in Prattville where Allison Wilks was speaking and Point of Grace was performing. I grew up with Point of Grace cassette tapes and I played them until I knew every word. To say I was excited is an understatement. Allison spoke about how when she grew up she would think she has God’s plan figured out and she would hear: “wait, there’s more.” Like it wasn’t over. There was more to add to the story.

Before I came to the Women’s Event, I had an advising appointment today because my gpa is a C average. When the advisor explained that’s why we were meeting, I was crushed. It’s a new type of advising to give students extra help if they need it. It’s totally a good thing that they are trying to help students succeed, but I was incredibly embarrassed to be on the list that needed the help. My gpa is no secret and I wasn’t ashamed of it until today. I mean, my resume is fabulous and I’m like super involved on campus. I have lots to offer and I’ve worked really hard to accomplish everything I have. I don’t need validation, I know my worth. Still, to have someone decide I wasn’t doing good enough was a bitter pill to swallow. I could give you a million reasons why my gpa is low. I changed majors, I have test anxiety, blah blah blah. I got super defensive, but I didn’t even have the chance to defend myself. Tonight Point of Grace sang: “My one defense, my righteousness Oh God, how I need You.” I don’t have to defend myself. My gpa does not define me. While I may have a 2.48 gpa, all I can hear is wait, there’s more. Lord, You have a purpose for my life. You have a plan for my life down to the very last detail. You can and will use my C average for Your glory. My story is not over. There is more to come. You aren’t finished with me yet. I am here for a reason.

Allison said that we remember our sin, but we should remember our Savior more than our sin. More than our fear. More than our pain. More than our loss. More than our illness. More than our betrayal. We should remember Your character. Your works. Who You are. She continued by saying You are kind, loving, merciful, just, all knowing, all compassionate, and all powerful. We should remember You and move to act. She ended by saying we should “trust the One who is above all those other things.”

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I trust you above everything else. I pray that I trust you above my weaknesses. I pray that I trust you above my gpa. Thank you for being my one defense. Lord, I need you. I am nothing without you. Lord, move me. I pray that you use me. I pray that you guide me. I pray that I remember you above my sin, my fear, my loss, my pain, my everything. I pray that I remember your character and your works and who you are. Thank you for being everything I need and so much more. Thank 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 darkest place His love can make you radiate.

Last year, I put my tree up during Fall Break which was the first weekend of October. This year, I was listening to Christmas music by October 18th. I don’t know about everyone else, but the fall semester always seems to hit me like a ton of bricks. So, in order to make it through the second half of classes, I result in childish measures. I take full advantage of the holiday spirit. Christmas music is just happy, like even the sad songs sounds a little happier. Christmas movies always have a happy ending. Hot chocolate warms the soul. Nativity scenes have a glow to them that remind you of the meaning and give you purpose. People are more giving and generous and kind. Like the holidays are just plain magical.

I have been in a bad mood. I got my car back finally and instead of saying thank you, I worried. I drove like 5 miles an hour and gripped the wheel so hard I couldn’t move. I worried that with my luck I would lose it again just as soon as I got it back. Homecoming pictures flooded my Timehop and instead of remembering the good times, it reminded me of what we lost.

I have been thinking about Jason Gray’s song all week.

If you’re shattered like a piece of glass
The more broke you are the more the light gets through
Show your wounds and your flaws
Show them why you still need the cross
Let them see the work He’s doing in you

The line that got me was “show them why you still need the cross.” So, here we go. Here’s to being vulnerable and laying it all out there. I still need the cross because I still get sad sometimes. I still have negative thoughts, no matter how hard I try to stay positive. I still find it hard to move on sometimes. I saw this picture on Facebook that said this girl had a crush on a boy and her dad said to fill the boy’s name in where you saw love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. She rethought her feelings. Then her daddy told her to put her own name in the verses and life got real. So, I’m gonna put my own name in those verses:

Alyysa is patient-nope, definitely not. Alyssa is kind-ehh somedays. Alyssa does not envy-most definitely do that, Alyssa does not boast-sometimes, Alyssa is not proud-wrong again. Alyssa does not dishonor others-welllll, Alyssa is not self-seeking-nope, Alyssa is not easily angered-this one I might actually be ok at, Alyssa keeps no record of wrongs-nope, totes have a mental list. Alyssa does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth-maybe. Alyssa always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres-I think I have this one too.

So, I have about 2 out of like 11… that’s not good. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I still need the cross because I fail daily. At church on Sunday, we were asked some questions that got me thinking: Is there anything in your lives and heart that is inconsistent with the character of God? Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? Are my words true? Is God my King? Over every part of our lives? Well clearly I have a lot of work to do.

1 Corinthians 13 continues in verse 11 with: When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. I should probs take note of that and try to do better. I’m growing up and graduating in May and heading out into the world, maybe it’s time I start acting like it. David Ring spoke last week at church and I was reminded of it today. He asked us if we were doing all we could with all we have. Then he said: “Can you do more?” He said: “the more broken we are, the more we’re blessed.” 

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I learn to be more patient and kind. I pray that I stop envying others. I pray that I quit boasting. I pray that put my proud attitude behind me. I pray that I don’t dishonor others. I pray that I stop self-seeking. I pray that I am not easily angered. I pray that I erase my record of wrongs and learn to forgive. I pray that I rejoice in truth and stop delighting in evil. I pray that I protect, trust, always hope, and always persevere. I pray that I take 1 Corinthians with me. I pray that I strive to live with purpose and intention. I pray that I strive to leave childish behavior behind me. I pray that I move forward. I pray that I live more like you and not like me. I pray that I share your love. I pray that I am filled with your love. I pray that I continue the prayer started on Sunday, I pray that you move in me and fill this place. I pray that you keep working on me. I pray that I do more. I pray that do better. I pray that I share why I still need the cross. I pray that show that the more broken I am, the more blessed I am. 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.

Lights shine bright everywhere we go.

I use Dove’s Revival shampoo and conditioner for my hair, but this weekend my soul is one that needed the revival and that’s exactly what I got Sunday at church. Today someone said that because I still go to church now that I’m on my own it speaks volumes of my character and how my parents raised me. I was beyond touched by the kind words. He said a parents main job is giving their kids every opportunity to get to Heaven. My dad always told me the same thing. It’s my choice to follow You, Lord, but my daddy made sure I had every opportunity to know You. He said that of course he wants his kids to have wonderful lives here on earth and have everything they want and need, but that’s secondary. He said the most important thing is to be able to save them a seat next to him in Heaven. My mama saved a seat at church for me every Sunday growing up. She and I, both, want nothing more her to be able to save me seat around the throne of God too.

Sunday night, they had a guest speaker at church. The speaker was David Ring. He said that it was no mistake our being here tonight, that we were here by divine design. Today, I understood.

The message was about how we shouldn’t stop praying for people. It was about the paralytic that You healed when his friends brought him to Jesus. His friends heard about Jesus so they did everything in their power to get him near Jesus. They lifted their friend to the roof and brought him down to meet Jesus. Mark 2:5 says When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” David gave four takeaways.

  1. They took the time.
  2. They took the effort.
  3. They took the risk. 
  4. They took the love.

David told us his own stories too. He told the story about when he was in the delivery room, they pronounced him dead and put him across the room to take care of his mom. Then someone took the time to hold him. He was dead for 18 minutes, but because someone took the time, he is alive today. It happened again when he was 16, someone took the effort to pray for him and the risk to invite him to church, which led to him finding a relationship with You, Lord. Then someone took the risk and the love to invite him to share his testimony, which led to him starting a ministry and a lifetime of serving You. David said: “It’s one thing to say I love people, it’s another thing to show it.” Then he told stories of his marriage and what he said next near about brought me to tears. He said: “It’s one thing to show people love, it’s another thing to stick around for the pain.” Nothing happens by accident. There is a reason for every single one of those stories, for every single moment, for every single bad thing, for every single good thing. David said: “My God is in the detail business.” Not one part of his testimony is accidental, Lord, You planned out every tiny, little detail, even the parts of our lives that seem insignificant are all part of Your grand design.

When he was talking about taking the effort, he asked us why don’t we get involved in people’s lives anymore and why don’t we go out on a limb? He said if we’re scared of the limb breaking or getting cut off, not to worry because trees are full of limbs, just hang on to another one. There are a million and a half excuses that I could use to get out of church. I’m on my own now so no one would know if I don’t go. I work on some Sundays. I have homework to do. I could use the extra sleep because I’ve been running around between work and school. And the big one lately is that my car is in the shop so I don’t have a way there. Well, my daddy used to say that if excuses were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas. I could have used the past two months without a car as an opportunity to invite someone to go to church with me, instead I blew it. I sat at home on Sundays, missing church. Then when I got the rental car I was able to go, so I went and I heard David Ring’s message. I learned my lesson. I’m gonna start looking for those opportunities more. I heard once that sometimes we’re just supposed to plant seeds. Then someone else comes along and waters the garden. Then God gives the seeds time to grow. Maybe we’re supposed to do that in people’s lives. Maybe we’re just planting seeds and watering the garden.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray for the man and his family he told me about today. I pray that he continues to take the time for his kids and family. I pray that he continues to take the effort for his kids and family. I pray that he continues to take the risk for his kids and family. I pray that he continues to take the love for his kids and family. I pray that you give him the strength and determination and bravery he needs to give his kids those opportunities to know You. Thank you for putting his family on my mind today. I pray that I keep them in my prayers. Thank you for my parents. Thank you for their time, effort, risk, and love. Thank you for the opportunities they gave me. Thank you for the shelter and protection they gave me. Thank you for the details. Thank you for the designed plan you provided for all of us. I pray for David Ring and his family and his ministry. I pray that I shine your light everywhere I go. I pray that I take the time, effort, risk, and love to bring people to you. I pray for those around me. I pray for those that need you. I pray that I start reaching out on that limb for those around me. I pray that I do a better job of taking care of those around me. I pray that I magnify your light. I pray that I reflect the sun. I pray that I show your love. I pray that I stick around for the pain too. I pray that I plant seeds. I pray that I water the garden. I pray that everything I do, reflects 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.

You are perfect in all of your ways.

Ok, so here’s the deal. I do not like uncertainty. I like plans. I like structure. I like organization. I like safety and security. I have liked these things since birth. I am not the kind of girl who can fly by the seat of her pants and sail through life. I am the kind of girl that when her friends invited her over as a kid, it was so I could clean their rooms. I was the kind of kid that when my parents told me to clean up before I could go hang out with my friend, I would clean the entire house, not just my bedroom. You have been trying to teach me trust and obedience since birth. You would think by now, with everything I’ve been through, I would have this lesson. Nope, I still don’t.

I have, however, learned to take some things in stride. When it came time for the pageant my senior year of high school, everything was a hot mess. My hair wasn’t curling the way I wanted it to. My parents were running late. Then when we finally got into the car, there was an accident and the police told us to take an alternate route. Like, if it could go wrong, it probably happened that day. When I finally got there, none of that mattered. I was with my friends and I knew this was going to be one of those memories I cherished with them. We took way too many selfies and laughed until we cried. We smiled so much, our cheeks hurt for days after.

When things don’t go according to my plan, I used to get panicky. My face and chest turned red. As if it wasn’t blatantly clear that I do not have it together, here is the big red sign. I would pace the room, trying to plan my way out of whatever mess I’m in. As crazy as I looked, I have gotten really good at getting myself out of sticky situations. I am pretty good at finding solutions when it seems like there isn’t one. I might have looked like a nut job for about 5 minutes, but I can pull something fantastic out of it. Now that I’m older, I’ve learned to do this without turning red and pacing the room.

One of my biggest struggles is discovering what You are trying to teach me when things don’t go according to my plan. I’ve realized that every time something happens that I wasn’t ready for, it has prepared me for something else down the road. I don’t believe that things just happen. I believe that there is reason for the madness. I believe there is a purpose for everything. It’s all part of a grand design. The older I get, the more I start to see You in literally everything.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for teaching to seek you in all the uncertainty of life. Thank you for comfort and healing. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for your plans. Thank you for planning that eternity plan and not focusing on my ten year plan. Thank you for when my plan messes up. Thank you for saving me when I lose my balance. Thank you for teaching me obedience. Thank you for giving me open arms to trust and put my faith into. Thank you for being a good good father. Thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving the way you do. Thank you for being perfect in all of your ways. Thank you for showing me grace when I don’t deserve it. Thank you for having patience with me. Thank you for waiting on me to catch up and to finally understand what you were trying to show me. Thank you for showing me how to love. Thank you for showing me how to trust. Thank you for showing me how to have faith. Thank you for giving me purpose. 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.

It’s funny how a touch of grace gives you healing.

Life is just plain real sometimes. Like real hard. Some days are just rough. It might start small and just pile up or it might be as big as one of those great losses that change everything. I’ve learned how important it is to come straight to You when things get shaky. No matter how small or how big the problem is, You can handle it. I am not meant to handle this alone. I am not built to handle this alone. And the greatest part is, I don’t have to. My entire world might collapse underneath me, but You’ll be standing there on solid ground holding Your hand out for me. When President Moulton died, I heard a lot of kind words. None touched me more than when his wife, Geri, spoke about President Moulton’s last words. She told us about how when he was trying to get up he said: “I can do it if you hug me.” She told us how we should apply those very words to our daily lives and how much better off we would be if we did.

Today, I know a few too many people who could use a hug, myself included.

“I’m doing fine enough to know that every one is a little broken. I’m doing fine enough to learn that hearts are best when they’re wide open. I still got fear inside of me. I’m not ok, but I’m gonna be alright.”

Lysa Terkeurst said: “We must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.” So, today I’m going to whisper. Today, I’m whispering my prayers. Today, I’m putting my heart on the line and leaving my heart wide open. Today, I’m whispering that I need a hug and so do those around me.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray for the ones that need you. I pray that we exchange whispers with you today. I pray that we seek you. I pray that we lean on you. I pray that we spend time with you today. I pray that we set aside extra time to worship you today. I pray that while we are broken, we remember that you are the only one that can make us whole. I pray we remember that you are the only one that can give us comfort and grace and healing. I pray that we keep opening our hearts to you and those around us. I pray that we push through our fear. I pray that we are surrounded by love. I pray that we know we aren’t alone in this or anything else. I pray that we know that you are with us. I pray that we know that you are bigger than all of this. I pray that we know you have a plan and while we don’t understand it sometimes, I pray that we have faith in your plan. I pray that our faith in you only grows deeper, the more it’s tested. 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.

For a world that is lost, grace wins.

To be honest, this whole #ImAChristian and #IWouldSayYes movement kinda rubbed me the wrong way at first. I thought it was kinda disrespectful to those that said yes. Not because I disagree, because I am a Christian. I wholeheartedly believe in You, Lord. But it’s really easy to say that sitting behind a computer screen while I’ve got the freedom to pray however I want. It’s an entirely different thing saying that when a gun is pointed. I mean, Peter was Your disciple. He followed You. He prayed with You. He literally saw You and he still denied You, Lord. He not only denied You, he did it three times. He had all the proof in the world to believe in You. He literally saw You perform miracles, but he still said no. You give second chances and I believe that’s exactly what we’ve been given. Just because you said no, yesterday, doesn’t mean you can’t say yes today.

I want to live for You. I want to say yes. But, I didn’t always say yes. I ran from You. I’ve been lost. I’ve done all I could think of to push You away. But You were right there, holding me. You never let me go. You fought for me even when I was fighting against You. You always won. And it’s not over. I can’t even imagine what all of those people went through that day. I do know that no matter what, You will win.

Romans 14:11 says: For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'”

Isaiah 40:8 says: The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

Maybe I didn’t understand the movement. Maybe I had it all wrong. Maybe it’s not that we would say yes, but we could. Maybe it’s the bravery of those that said yes that will serve as a reminder that we can say yes. They are a reminder that grace wins every time. Not even death can separate us from You. I’ve read a lot of people praying for those that were brave enough to stand up for You. Armardo Hall said: “The bravest person in America? The 2nd to admit to being a Christian after the UCC shooter murdered the 1st.” I am in awe of their courage and bravery and conviction. I want to pray for them too. I want to pray for their families. But for the ones that said no, I want to pray for them too.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray for the ones that said no. I pray for the injured ones that got to keep their life. I pray for their healing. I pray for their families and friends and loved ones. I pray that they see the second chance at life they’ve been given. I pray they find you. I pray they seek you. I pray they reach out for you. I pray they are surrounded by your love. Thank you for fighting for me. Thank you for fighting for them. Thank you for the reminder that we can have the courage to say yes. Thank you for the bravery and courage of those that said yes. I pray for healing for their families. Thank you for holding them all that day. Thank you for not leaving them. Thank you for the fact that grace wins. I pray that I have the strength to say yes. I pray that I live a resounding yes. I pray that my life screams yes from every decision, every word, every movement, every fiber of my being. Thank you for the reminder of courage to say yes with my life. 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.