No life or death can separate us from Your love.

If I had a dime for every time someone told me my optimism bubble was going to burst right open, I would be living a lot higher on the hog. I would have that white house I want with the blue shutters and the red front door. I would have the front porch and the rocking chairs. I almost have to stop myself from laughing. Because yes, ya girl is optimistic. But home-girl had to TRAIN her brain to work that way.

I just realized I can sit around complaining about all I’ve lost and ask You why Lord. Or I can remember what I learned in bible study from Lysa Terkheurst. That why is the wrong question. I need to start asking what am I gonna do with what’s left. And because You, my God, connect the dots. My more recent bible study lesson was on how to use what I have, give it my best, and trust You to fill in the gaps. 

But what even is trust? Ya girl, has a HUGE trust problem. Like I didn’t trust anyone, not even myself. I certainly didn’t trust the spiritual gifts You gave me. And especially not You, Lord.

I have this double-edged sword of humility and pride. Someone stood up for me the other day and I like immediately was like woah, I’m not worthy of that kind of love and protection. I can feel that for you, but you can’t possibly feel that for little old me. Just like my brain was stuck in this pattern of: I can love You, Lord, but there’s no possible way You love me. I’m too broken. Not me, God.

My friends have this fear of being controlled by others, but that would require me to trust someone enough to give them that power over me. So, while I don’t worship others and can’t be hurt that way because of my trust issues. Sometimes I still think I can do it all myself. I have a tendency to look at something I’ve done and say oh wow, look at me. But when you look at a finished painting, is it the paint brush that did it or the artist? Is it the paint that did it or the artist? Lord, help me to remember You are the artist.

At the same time, I am so used to being controlled by others that I don’t even notice anymore. I’m always controlled, so I don’t even give it away, it’s just simply taken. Then I have to fight for it back by setting up boundaries. Then there is this really fun stage of push back where the other person like guilt trips me or tries to manipulate me or lash out against me to hurt me. So, then I have this reallyyyy fun stage of thinking I do everything wrong. But I’m learning to just simply say no assertively.

I have this doubt that comes up sometimes. This doubt in others, in myself, in my spiritual gifts, in You, in my place in this world. Lord, we both know what happens when I start thinking I’m doing a bad job. I start doing a bad job. Because I’m so busy looking at me, that I forget to keep my eyes on You. I’m Peter, walking out on the water with You. When my eyes are on You, I’m literally walking on water. When I take my eyes off You, I’m sinking, quickly. All I’m doing, whether I think I can do it all or I can’t do anything, is attempting to limit You, Lord. I try to limit a limitless God. Rebekah Lyons spoke at IFGathering and said: “God didn’t pick the wrong girl for ministry. Satan picked the wrong girl to mess with.”

So, this is my prayer. I pray that I remember who you are. I pray I appreciate how you use me. I pray I appreciate why you use me. I pray I recognize when you use me. Lord, I pray I appreciate being a small part of your masterpiece. Father, I pray that you use me as a vessel. I pray that through you, my weaknesses are grown into strengths. I pray that I start leaning into you rather than trying to limit you. Father, I am so humble sometimes that it is almost this false pride. While other times, I lack humility and am filled with way too much pride. Lord, help me find a balance. Lord, thank you for putting people in my life to show me healthy boundaries. Thank you for having patience with me as I learn to not only set boundaries, but to continually establish those boundaries. Lord, I pray that I stand strong and use that assertiveness I know I am capable of. I pray that I remember that you don’t make mistakes. There is no mistake that I am in the ministry I am. There is no mistake about my place in this world at this moment. Lord, every single hair on my head has a purpose and a reason. Lord, I pray that I remember just how intentional you are. I pray I remember I am the right girl for ministry and more importantly you are the right God 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.

I’ll say I’m found in You.

Abba. Father. I’m gonna be real honest. Lord, I am not sure if this is coming from a place of defensiveness or a place of vulnerability. I have trust issues for days. I have the spiritual gift of discernment and I am learning to believe You more and to believe the gifts You gave me more. But with discernment, there is room for doubt. Doubting my gift, doubting myself, and doubting You. I am learning to take a second to breathe and talk to You before moving. I am learning to rebuke the doubt. I am learning to trust. Sometimes I feel completely unworthy to be in this job and completely incapable of handling these hearts that have been entrusted into my care. I used to just tell myself that I’m pulling up chairs to the table in Heaven. That’s my job. I forgot somewhere that I have a chair at the table too.

The chores did not get done two weekends ago. No Saturday deep clean. No pm chores last night either. Like at all. The trash spilled over. The sink was full of dishes. I got one sleeping on the couch because she got so upset that Saturday and a different one last night. I always have one still mad at me. I had one defiant at every breath. I had one cry herself to sleep that Saturday because someone pooped in the bathroom before she showered. I had one that Saturday who said I don’t love her because I couldn’t give her the attention she wanted immediately. That Saturday, I had six of my eight who didn’t have privs. I was so tired from that Saturday that I didn’t even make my own bed the next morning.

That Sunday at the end of the service my one that usually runs to the bathroom during the invitation because any kind of spiritual intimacy with God sends her running, that day she came and sat on the ground at my feet, took my hand, and started praying. So I put my other hand on her hands and started praying too. The one sitting next to me looked at me kinda jealous, and I simply said “don’t think I ain’t praying for you too,” and she turned back around.

I usually spend most of my teaching on the negative reactions and don’t celebrate the good behavior enough. So I sent the 6 with no privs to the table to work on homework or read or draw. Then I let one with privs watch the movie she wanted on the big tv with no interruptions. I went in there and watched with her for a little while, talking about the movie, giving her that quality time she craved the day before. I let my other one with privs cook dinner and dessert like she wanted. I told her she could make whatever she wanted. I went in there and helped her cook and spent some quality time with her too.

My job is a roller coaster. It’s a constant up and down. And sometimes the low moments are really low. But Lord, for that brief moment where we’re around the dinner table and they are just simply kids laughing and dancing to Hannah Montana’s Hoedown Throwdown. Or that moment we’re on the van and they’re all singing at the top of their lungs Point To You by The Messengers. It’s more than worth it. Even when my messy ponytail could not get any messier. Even when I’ve got circles under my eyes because what is sleep. Even when I have a kid whose only communication with me is under her breath curse words. Because that same kid that doesn’t take responsibility for anything she does. I still wouldn’t let her off the hook when she tried to shift blame to everyone else, we finally get to the heart of the issue and tears were shed. Then Miss Alyssa starts preaching. Straight from the Holy Spirit. Because Miss Alyssa does not even have words, but my God You do. And when I walk in obedience and listen to that still small voice, Abba Father You speak.

Yes, there is hurt that is unfathomable. But there is also unfailing grace. There is unconditional love. There is endless joy.

Lord, I know those girls are listening with their responses during devotion. I know You are moving and shaking mountains and ant hills. I feel this need to defend my teaching all the time and my assertiveness and my everything. But I don’t have to do that. I am not capable. I am not worthy. I am not qualified. I am not okay sometimes. I am a sinner and I make mistakes. But my God. You are. You are so perfect and so just and so powerful. I am Your vessel and You move in me. Lord, You run this show. Lord, as much as I love my girls, You love them even more. And You love me. They are Your daughters. And so am I.

So, this is my prayer today. Abba. Father. Thank you. For the grace you show. For the joy. For the unconditional love. For the mercy. And yes, for the pain that teaches us. Because nothing is done without your intention and without your purpose. Lord, we have a flesh that wants nothing more that to hurt others because we’ve been hurt. We have a flesh that wants all the worldly things to fill that hole that only you can make whole. Lord, I pray that I trust you, not my flesh. I pray for my girls, your girls. I pray for these giving, loving, teaching, spirit filled, honest, intentional house parents that show me daily how to work as a team and how to not only lead this house but to transform it. Lord, I know that I am here for a purpose, just like every person in this house. We all have something to learn here and I am so thankful for the opportunity and the joy I get to see. Thank you for jam sessions in the car and dance parties in the dinning room and for softball games and for dinner conversations and tears shed in the quiet office and for all the grace shown in this house. I pray that I make Point to You an anthem for my life in this season.  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.