It’s nothing He ain’t seen before.

I’ve started reading all these books on kids and teenagers since that is who 99% of my day is spent with and/or praying for lately. One of the books I’m reading said: “The greatest gift we can give our children is a sense of belonging, a place in the family and from there a place in the world.” Ohhhhh sweet Lord, Jesus. We spend our whole lives looking to belong. In friendships, in our families, in our classrooms, in our workplaces, in our churches, literally in every function of our daily lives. We’re all searching for what You already gave us. A seat at the table.

The house we grew up in as kids is temporary. My college dorm was short-lived. Living in the sorority house ends too. That first apartment where I finally got to start feeling like an adult and buy some actual furniture of my own is gone in the blink of an eye. My house right now is temporary. And the hotel I moved into last night for the next few months is most certainly temporary. Eventually I’ll get married, move to another place and that will be temporary too. I’ll start a family, look for a bigger place, again that’s temporary. If all goes well, I’ll retire and go back to a smaller place, still temporary. Life is full of these temporary homes. In reading these parenting books, I keep learning what I can do to help these kids but I also get this overwhelming understanding of Your love as our Abba Father that I didn’t have before. Thank You, my good Lord Almighty, Heaven is not temporary. It is eternal. My name is written in the book. I’ve got a permanent seat at the table. And those things are not temporary. They cannot be taken. They do not fade away. They do not change. Father, You gave me a deeper sense of belonging than I’ll ever even know and I don’t lean on that enough. Lord, You take my brokenness and make it whole.

I read it in my devotion book and I’ve been praying it for like two weeks now since I started my new position at work. “Just use what you have, do the best you can, and trust Him to fill in the gaps.” That’s been my motto working with these kids. I’m trying to use what I have, grow as much as possible, and do the best I can. I already read Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children. I’m reading every book I can get my hands on from devotion books: Girls with Swords to parenting books: Be The Best Mom You Can Be to Shepherding a Child’s Heart to working with kids: Boundaries with Teens to Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry. I got actual textbooks like Teaching Social Skills to Youth. I’m trying to find scriptures to back up everything I’m learning and teaching. Lord, You fill the gaps that I didn’t even know were empty. Lord, in loving these kids, You are showing me how much deeper Your love goes. My love fails every single day. No matter much I study and try to prepare, my humanity, my sin, is gonna still be there. But You, Lord, Your love never fails.

I’ve been putting a “verse of the day” on the dry erase board before each shift starts. This weekend one of the verses I put was Matthew 11:28-30 which says: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Chris Tomlin also has a song about coming to the table and he sings this verse in it.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray for these kids. I pray for these youth. Lord, I’m lifting them up to you. I pray that you teach me, guide me, help me. Lord, I need you. I’m coming to you. I’m bringing it all to you. I’m laying myself down at the cross. Lord, prepare my heart for battle. Prepare me to do your work. Lord, prepare my heart for Kingdom work. Abba Father, thank you for inviting me to the table. Thank you for accepting me as I am, but loving me enough to not leave me the way I came. Lord, I pray that you keep revealing your love and your heart to me. I wanna know you more. God, I pray, I wanna go deeper. I wanna strengthen my relationship with you. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting. Thank you for preparing a feast for me. Thank you for not turning me away. Thank you for restoring me. Thank you for filling my gaps. Thank you for filling my empty places. Thank you for temporary homes and for the eternal place at the table waiting on me. Thank you for sending the Savior to save us 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.

You’re faithful in provision.

Oh sweet Jesus. The house caught on fire Sunday right in the middle of the Church BBQ. I literally got a sunburn standing outside my house watching this all happen. The Construction, Cleanup, and Insurance people all kept saying: “It’s worse than you think it is,” every time they walked through the house. There’s damage we can clearly see and things like the electrical that we can’t see yet. They also said we would be out of the house 2-3 months or like 6 maybe, they won’t know for sure until they get started demoing. I got diagnosed with walking pnemonia Tuesday, and Wednesday we had to cancel the Youth and Children’s services at Church because of everything going on. Abba. Abba. Abba, Father. 

I am refusing to count those things or anything else going wrong. Completely refusing. I am counting Your love this week. Every single time something negative happens, I am immediately looking for the good in it. I have labeled them #smallvictories. I have said #smallvictories out loud in actual conversations, in messages to friends and family, and in my prayers with You, Lord.

Here are some of the glorious thank you’s for those #smallvictories:

  1. No one was hurt.
  2. For all the help offered by loved ones.
  3. For friends that washed the smoke out of my Church clothes and the two outfits I grabbed leaving the house Sunday and for letting me stay the night.
  4. And for her laughing with me when I grabbed my bathing suit from the house because hopefully the hotel we get has a pool. #priorities
  5. For Walmart having Star Wars pajamas pants to buy for our first night.
  6. For the insurance company that got us a hotel immediately and that is taking care of us.
  7. For the family friend taking care of our dog while we’re in a hotel.
  8. For starting a new position at work Monday.
  9. For the Nurse that prayed with me when I started crying in the Doctor’s office.
  10. For when she put her forehead on mine, held my face, and shared some of her “happy emotions” with me. That sweet woman literally gave me some of her happiness.
  11. For the sales ladies that hugged us when we cried at literally every store we went to on Wednesday trying to buy some clothes to get us through the next week or two.
  12. For books at Lifeway.
  13. For the 911 Operator, Police Department, Fire Department, ServPro, Certified Restoration Dry Cleaning Network, Geico, and all the people trying to get my family back into our home and the care and consideration they’ve shown.
  14. For the understanding and patience when my parents cried walking all over the house for the picture I drew in high school that was broken in the kitchen or my mama’s teddy bear that was covered in debris she got from her grandma and all the other memories associated with literally every little thing.
  15. For when I stood there surrounded by people I didn’t know, crying, looking at my grandma’s pink dish that was now black, but it wasn’t broken.
  16. For Sprite and cough syrup and shots from the Doctor.
  17. For a firm pillow from the Walmart.
  18. For my new Lily Planner I got for work that I hadn’t taken out of the car this weekend so it wasn’t in the house and back-to-school sales on colored pens at Walmart.
  19. For comfort food: Jim N Nicks’ cheese biscuits.
  20. For the staff at the Hampton Inn we’re at now and for the staff at the Marriott Residence Inn we’ll be moving to Friday.
  21. For the kindness shown to me by friends, family, and complete strangers this week.
  22. For prayers.

So, here is my prayer today. I just wanna say thank you. Abba, Father. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m praying Matthew 6:9–13 which says: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Thank you for every little thing and thank you for all the things I don’t even know yet. Lord, I’m singing Your praises. Father have Your will, Your way in me. Completely. We wholly trust. 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 don’t need me at all but You couldn’t love me more.

I went to GoTell, this past week. I got my batteries recharged. I have been struggling lately with setting up the appropriate boundaries. I have heard like a hundred times what Tim Hawkins, Kristina Kuzmic, and so many more have said: “I don’t want to be your friend, I have friends, I am your parent.” I believe it 100%. I am not a parent, but I work with kids and youth. It’s hard for me understand where the lines end and begin of parenting and teaching. Though I mean to, sometimes, I do not set up strict enough boundaries. It’s not because I want them to like me. I learned that as President in my sorority, that I do not need everyone to like me. What I struggle with, is learning where my service to others ends and where everything else begins.

I have never had a problem setting up boundaries with boys. I never dated much, but every time I did, it just showed me more and more to give my heart to You, Lord, because You will put it in the right hands. Every time I tried to take my heart back and give it away myself, I put it in the wrong hands. Ever single time. But that’s a topic for another day.

At GoTell, the Benham Brothers spoke. They had this whole spiel, which was fab. But one line stuck out the most for me. “Boundaries bring blessings. Removing them bring burdens.” Ohhhhh Lord have mercy. Your timing. Just as boundaries was a topic at the forefront of my mind. Now they were addressing them back to the boy thing, but I heard You, Lord.

Then You hit the nail on the head, the last day. Brother Algernon Tennyson talked about how love is a sacrifice. It’s service. Sometimes we have to be tough enough to soften hard hearts. Boy howdy. That’s exactly what I needed to hear. I have always believed that love is service, but what I still need to learn is that sometimes, I have to be tough. I needed someone to point out that service is love and the tough stuff. I am not scared of the tough stuff, I just need to learn to be tougher. I am so concerned with learning to be in service that I forget sometimes that service sometimes requires me to be tough, because otherwise I am doing a dis-service. He was almost in tears preaching about how if someone wants to get to his kids, they are gonna have to go through him. I mean he was dancing and getting pumped up and like completely a dad. I started crying too because if he gets so emotionally invested in his kids, then I am in complete awe of You, my Heavenly Father, because how much You must love us.

So, here is my prayer today. Father, teach me to set up the appropriate boundaries. Lord, I want to share your love. I want to do your work. I want to work for the kingdom. I want to be your hands and feet. I pray you mold me, change me, move me. Lord, whatever the cost, whatever your will. Lord, I pray you guide me. I pray you surround me. I pray you interrupt my comfort zone. I pray you interrupt my life. I pray that I am like the friends of the paralytic we learned about in Bible study. Lord, heal and help those around me because of my faith. I pray that my faith grows and that I go deeper in my walk with you. Lord, I am a mess. I am not qualified to work for you. I got issues. I am so thankful that is not where my story ends. You are the Almighty, you don’t need me, but you want me. Lord, I am in awe of you. Thank you so much for allowing me to serve you. While my love is not perfect and needs work often, Lord, your love is never failing. Thank you for that. 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.