Slow, like a Sunday morning service back home.

My daddy used to pick on me because I would paint my nails all different colors. I guess he thought I would grow out of it, but some things never change. I’m still that girl, painting each nail a different color, hoping to make the world a little prettier, a little brighter, and a little happier. One itty bitty thing at a time, I’m gonna make this world better. One nail at a time, one cup at a time, and one prayer at a time.

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I didn’t get my accent from my parents. I got my accent from spending every morning singing along to CMT. I talk slow and walk even slower, but I’d walk 100 miles up a hill both ways in the rain to give somebody the shirt right off my back. That right there I got from my mama and daddy.

When I was getting ready to leave high school, a friend told me that I was in for a surprise and the world was going to change that soft heart of mine and make it hard. They thought since my parents tried to shelter me that made me weak and vulnerable, but that shield of protection is exactly what makes me strong. I know that nothing of this world can give me what I need most, and that’s You, Lord. Only You can sustain my heart. Only You can give me peace. Only You can save me. Only You can keep the world from hardening my heart, but it takes me choosing to follow You every single moment of every single day. No matter how lost I get or how many times I head down the wrong path, somehow I’m always standing right back at the foot of the cross. Only the cross can bear it all without breaking.

I’ve lived, loved, and lost. That friend in high school thought when I got some real life experience that it would harden my heart, but loving and losing lines you right up with where you need to be. At the foot of the cross.

I’m not gonna lie or hide the truth, back then, I only saw my own two feet. I had tunnel vision. I didn’t see what was going on in the world around me. I was innocent and far too naive. Sometimes I didn’t even see what was going on right in front of my face. But the older I get, the more I see Your hand in everything. In every moment. Good and bad, beautiful and ugly, heart warming and heart breaking, every life taking and life giving moment. You, God are always there. Always sustaining.

So, here is my prayer. I pray that I remember that my daddy told me the tongue is the window to the soul and Proverbs 13:3 says: The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. I pray that I remember all the good my parents taught me and I remember the girl they raised me to be. I pray that I remember to watch my words and watch my life. I pray that I give love and grace and compassion. I pray that I speak life, your life sustaining words. I pray that I don’t shy from the truth. I pray that I continue to see your work in the world around me. I pray the more I open my eyes, the more I see you. I pray your love shines out of this soft heart of mine. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for bearing it all. Thank you for defeating even death. Thank you for all I’ve learned, all I’ve been given, and all I’ve lost. Thank you for sustaining this soft heart through it all. 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 was made by You, I was made for You.

I picked up two books at Lifeway a while ago. I just finished one and I’m halfway through the other. The first one I read is Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children by Mark Batterson. Now, while I don’t have children of my own, I work with teenagers and volunteer with kids. So, I figured I need to start praying for them more strategically. I should probs thank War Room, for the desire to make my prayers more intentional. In the book, I learned to pray without ceasing, with intensity, with tenacity, by design, by desire, by discipline, with specificity, with intentionality, and with consistency. That list motivates me. I like words and those are some pretty powerful words.

I heard someone say a while back that I cannot expect lost people to act saved. What I’m realizing now, after reading these books, is that people shouldn’t expect me to act lost and should expect me to act saved. I cannot require more than I am willing to give. I am saved. I came home. I have the immovable joy. I am forgiven. I am set free. I have the peace that cannot be taken. I need to act like it. It’s a call to action, in my every waking moment. At work, volunteering at church, with friends and family, in every waking moment I should be striving to love like You, Lord. The other book I’m reading is Having a Martha Home the Mary Way. In that book, Sarah Mae says: “I am clay, and clay cannot mold itself.” That sentence sent chills down my arms and legs. Since Your love got a hold of me, I am a new creation. 

I spend 8 plus hours at work each day and 3-4 at Church on Wednesdays and Sundays. That’s not even including prep-times, trips, or events. There are 24 hours in a day and I spend 8-12 with kids on any day. In my week, consisting of 168 hours, 50 is spent working and 6 is traveling to and from work. 3 1/2 are spent at Church Wednesdays and 4 1/2 on Sundays. More than half my day is spent with those kids, so they deserve my prayers. That still leaves me with 104 hours. Even if I slept a whole 8 hours a day which I don’t usually, that is still only 56 hours. I would have 48 hours a week just for me.

That is 48 hours a week I could be doing something productive. Some weeks those hours seem to slip away. I always heard the older I get, the faster time flies and I am definitely beginning to see that. I don’t even know what happened to January, I blinked and I’m 8 days deep into February. I used to think that self-esteem depended on me and my worth. After reading these books and working with these kids, I see that confidence is found in my relationship with You. Because no one can worship You like me. No one can pray like me. No one can do what I do, how I do it. I am unique. I do not worship the same as anyone else. That is not to toot my own horn, that is a gift I was given by You, for You. My identify, my confidence, my value comes from my relationship with You. No one can satisfy my heart and make me whole except You, God.

Sarah Mae’s book is certainly cleaning my house, but more importantly it is cleaning my heart. In her book, she gave us her mission statement and told us to adapt it and make our own. I figured, since I am a new creation in You, Lord, that a mission statement was a perfect thing to have especially when I am trying to live more intentionally. Ok, so here goes:

  1. I need a safe, sanitary, healthy, peaceable environment for my family. I need a home made with gentle kindness.
  2. I want to love myself and others well. I want to love like Jesus does.
  3. I am becoming like Jesus. I am choosing life over death, goodness over evil, and light over dark.
  4. I will be a life-giver. I will raise life above the level of mere existence through service.
  5. I live out my relationship with God. I live out who God is in me.

Proverbs 14:1 says: A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hand. That is why this mission statement is so important because I am a self-sabotager. I let my emotions and feelings control me, instead of realizing that I am made by You, for You. I don’t have to live this way. I am a new creation. I am born again. That old way of thinking is dead and gone. I can change my thought process.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you Lord, for using these books to open my eyes and change my way of thinking. Lord, thank you for putting these books in my life and allowing me to apply them to my life. Thank you for words, lists, and mission statements. I pray that I pray for those kids without ceasing, with intensity, with tenacity, by design, by desire, by discipline, with specificity, with intentionality, and with consistency. Thank you for calling me home. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for writing my name in the book. Thank you for peace, freedom, joy, and so much more. Thank you for molding me. Thank you for your love that has a hold on me. I pray you keep holding me. Thank you for making me whole. Thank you for making my worship, my prayers, my gifts unique. Thank you for giving me purpose, identity, confidence, and value. Thank you for wanting a relationship with me. I pray that I take every single word of that mission statement and apply to my life until it is an undeniable truth. I pray that mission statement becomes my reality. I pray that I remember Proverbs 14:1 and use it to build my home on your solid foundation. Lord, thank you for using these books to impact my thoughts and my heart. 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.