Your hands were big enough to hold the world.

I was asked to make a list of things to do for myself this week. It shouldn’t be near as hard as I made it.

  1. Christian Conferences
  2. Reading Christian Fiction
  3. Bible Studies
  4. Trips to Mobile
  5. Bath Bombs, Face Masks, Candles, and Gospel Music
  6. Gettin All Dolled-up to see the Girls
  7. This Prayer Journal
  8. Hallmark Movies
  9. Exercise Bikes
  10. Swimmin in the Lake

I also thought of a few things I like to do but never actually get around to:

  1. Sewing a T-Shirt Quilt
  2. Scrapbooking
  3. Drawing/Painting
  4. Going to the Park
  5. Looking at the Stars

I’ve tried this week to actually do these things on my off time. I stayed up late reading A Walk To Remember. I couldn’t put it down until I finished. So good. I went on a spontaneous day trip to the beach with a friend. The weather was so perfect. We sang lots of worship music, mine of course was off-key, so thank You for listening to my heart.

We sang some pop and country too. At some point on the drive we sang My Youth by Troye Sivan. I’ve listened to the song 1532 times. my youth, my youth is yours, a truth so loud you can’t ignore, my youth, my youth, my youth, my youth is yours.” I’ve always kinda sang that part to You, God. Because I gave my life to You so young. Because I’ve always seen my childhood as Yours. Lately, I’ve been processing the messy bits of my youth that I hid. So, I had this moment of reminding myself that my youth is still Yours. Because the darkness does not own me. Because the trauma does not own me. Because I was free to choose You. I am not a slave. I am not a product of my environment. I was given free will. Even in the fire, I chose You. Even in the flood, I chose You. Even in the 2nd grade, I chose You.

I heard someone on the radio say that: “in that moment where all your defenses are shattered, it’s in that moment where you are completely known by God and completely loved by God.” They continued by saying: “they will know us by our love.” I want Your love to be a truth in my life so loud that it cannot be ignored. I’m learning how to take down my walls this year, ya know the ones I spent my whole life building. The really tall and really wide and really strong ones. Yea, those walls. Lord, in order to take care of others and show love to them, I have to learn how to take care of myself too and love myself too. Because I cannot love You without loving others and without loving me too. Because You made them and You made me. You made them and me for Your glory. Sometimes loving myself is an act of glorifying You. I need to remember that.

So, this is my prayer today. I pray that I let my defenses shatter and break. I pray that I stop trying to defend defenseless positions. I pray that I accept that I am completely known by you and completely loved by you at the same time. I pray that those around me know you by your love shining through me. I pray that I keep choosing you every single day, in every single situation. I pray that I learn to take care of myself too. I pray that I keep giving you my life. Even the messy bits. Scratch that. Especially the messy bits. I pray that your love is a truth in my life so loud it cannot be ignored. I pray that I trust you with my life. Lord, I know you hold the whole world in your hands, but sometimes I forget that I am apart of that world too. I pray that I let you hold me in your hands too. 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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You called my name and I ran out of that grave.

Ohhh, bless my soul. The message at Church tonight was on point. The preacher talked about the prayer in the garden in Matthew 26. He talked about the way of the cross. He started with the way of the cross came with solitude. Then he moved into the way of the cross came with no support. Then that last point packed a punch. The way of the cross came with the weight of sin and sorrow.

Lord, there is no equal to You. Jesus, You are the only way. Father, You are the only grace.

When I get multiple days off from work, I go back to this rental house and that house just sucks the life right out of me. I literally go lay down and I don’t get out again until it’s time for work. I go through the motions some and try to get out. When I get out, I can be productive. It’s almost like learning to breathe again the moment I leave that house. The moment I leave I feel free.

I want to go home. I am tired of looking at boxes that I can’t unpack or clean up. I am tired of not having my bed or my blankets or my pillows. I am tired of wanting something I own, but it’s in storage. I am just exhausted by this rental and every single time I get frustrated by it, it seems the move-in date gets pushed back even further away. Obviously, there is something I still need to learn here that I am being too stubborn to receive.

Father, my pride gets all in my way. I am my own worst enemy. I think I have to do everything alone. I think I can’t ask for help and when I do, I feel weak. Sometimes I don’t even know what would help. I want my Genesis helper, and I want to be someone’s Genesis helper. I carry all the weight of the world. Some days, I completely zone out. I am learning that singing worship music out loud helps pull me back into reality though. Focusing on the cross and not what’s around me, pulls me back.

Jesus, when You needed the disciples, they literally fell asleep on their job. Just like I am when I’m at the rental. When I leave the house, I am studying your word at Panera, I am in fellowship or counseling, I am doing kingdom work. But when I am at that rental, I am asleep on the job. You are literally calling my name and I am asleep. The preacher told us that our prayer life is our Christianity.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I stop sleeping on the job. Lord, I pray that I remember that you already did the heavy lifting. I pray that I remember what the cross means. I pray that I remember that you already carried this weight. I pray that I remember the cost you paid. Father, thank you for the cross. Thank you for the way of the cross. Thank you for all the cross means. I pray that I stop carrying this shame and guilt. I pray that I start living all of my life for you and not just half of it. Father, I ask forgiveness for living in my sin and shame. I’m sorry for only putting on that spiritual armor some days. Father, thank you for pulling me out of that grave. I pray that I keep running to your light. Thank you for making me new each day. Lord, thank you for not letting me continue to live that way. Thank you for showing me the light. Thank you for allowing me to come to you. Thank you for meeting me there and covering me. Thank you for cleaning this heart of mine. Thank you for doing the deep cleaning. Thank you for being the ultimate image of love. Thank you for the freedom to choose you. Thank you for rescuing me. I pray that I spend more time with you. I pray that my prayer life only gets stronger. I pray that I put my spiritual armor on every single day. Father, you have equipped me with all the tools, it’s high time I start using them. 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’m on my way to Heaven, would you like to come along?

I didn’t know where to begin this one. I didn’t know how to start or even where to start. A friend of mine shared their story with me so I wanted to honor that trust by bringing it to the very person who wrote my story, Lord, You. Father, I think the very least I can do is to trust You. A sweet preacher in Chelsea, AL taught us, a few Sundays ago, that: “no one can sing my song but me.” He said: “you are a somebody because He knows your name, He knows your song.” 

Ok, so here goes nothing. Or everything…

I was sexually abused by more than one person, in more than one way.

All before I even started high school. I wanted to pretend this wasn’t real. Sometimes, it still doesn’t feel real. I almost convinced myself that the nightmares, were just nightmares. I started the healing process through counseling. I started to see things more clearly. Some of the symptoms that I had just chalked up to normal life were actually signs of PTSD and Disassociation. I got wayyy more signs of disassociation than I would like to admit. Ya girl got issues.

But You, my God, are so patient. so kind. so loving. You were there through it all. The more I have gotten to know You, the more I can see You through all of it.

My favorite verse is Isaiah 43:2 which says: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. If left to my own devices, I would be drowned, consumed, overwhelmed, and burned. I would have never made it through the second grade. But my God, that is the exact year I got saved. That is the exact year, I walked down that church aisle, asking You to save me. I always forget the first verse which says: But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Lord, not only did You create me and form me. You redeemed me. You call me by name. When Satan calls me by my sin, You call me by my name! I am free from the wrath by the power of the blood. I saved this picture on my phone that says: “I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.”

I started the Redeemed study by Angela Thomas-Pharr. In the first part, she asks us to fill in the blank for: “I’ve given up trying…” I finished it with: “to walk like this.” I am not carrying this baggage anymore. I am unloading these suitcases. I am not carrying this weight with me any longer. This guilt. This shame. This pride. This need for control. This darkness. I let everyone else in my life set the boundaries, so then I put up walls in response to my boundaries being crossed. What I should have been doing is letting You, Lord, set up my perimeters and focused on You. Because when I have my eyes on You, I’m walking on water. When I focus on everything around me, I’m sinking. Lord, I crave the light because there is a darkness in me, darker than even I know. In those broken places, is the exact places that the light gets in. In those broken places, is the exact places that we can help someone else. The exact place that I can chose to share Your glory.

When I lost my friend, I asked You a lot of why questions. Through Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkheurst, I realized that was the wrong question. The right question is: what am I gonna do with what I have been given, what I have left? In the Redeemed study, I am learning to ask: who You are and what You’ve said. In Unwrap the Bible, Beth Moore said: “God is going to use one question to lead to blessings in another question.” 

I have this question written in my journal that says: how do you design something, knowing it’ll fail? Lord, You created me, You designed every hair on my head. You knew I would fail before I even took my first breath. But I think that is the point. I think that right there is redemption. When I am broken way beyond repair. When I fall to my knees. That right there is exactly where I need to be. Because right there is exactly where You fix me. Because right there is exactly where I see You work.

Steven Furtick said: “whether we know it or not, we are passing on our perspective to those we influence. And whatever is not healed is handed down. I can’t chose what I’m handed but I can choose what I hand back.” In The Gospel of Mark, Lisa Harper told us that: “Jesus knows exactly where you are. Jesus knows how heart-broken you are, He’s been there. He’s been segregated and alone in the wilderness, facing wild beasts. He knows exactly where you hurt.” Lisa said we don’t have to clean ourselves up to come to You. But my God, You love us too much to leave us that way. You meet us there and cover us.

I have always been a very organized planner. I have my five year plan but I also have a ten year plan and a fifteen year plan. I have certainly changed my plans over the years. 1st grade me wanted to serve You and be a missionary. Best believe, I had a plan for it too. As I got older, I wanted to be a teacher. In middle school, ya girl watched Legally Blonde and got a little power hungry. Ya girl wanted to be a lawyer then a judge then swoop right into the supreme court. In high school, I came back around to teaching. In college, I switched majors to Communications. Now I’ve gone and started grad school in human services counseling in christian ministries.

I tend to get overly excited and put my cart before my horse. But no where, on any of my plans, was any of the bad stuff. Ok. I planned perfect fairy tales with only enough realism approved by yours truly. The only thing that has remained a constant is my want to serve You in whatever capacity I could find. Lysa Terkheurst said: “remember this: God is working things out. He is present. His plan is still good and He can still be trusted. I used to think that being in ministry made me more of a target for the enemy’s attacks. But now I think God saw the attacks coming and made sure I was in ministry. Having my heart and mind constantly focused on God’s Truths has changed the way I see and process everything.”

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I lead with kindness and grace. I pray that I am showing others who you are. I pray that I am showing others what you do. I pray that I am showing others when to lean on you. I pray that I am showing others where you’re leading. I pray that I am showing others why I chose to walk with you. I pray that I am showing others how to follow you. I pray that every word in my story point to you. Father, even when I am not present, you are. Father, even when my plans are no good at all, you are. Father, even when I fail miserably, you can still be trusted. Kelly Minter said: “who Jesus has called you to be is the most exciting and liberating identity you can have.” Abba, thank you for reminding me that my identity is found in you. Thank you for reminding me that my identity is not what happened to me, what I’ve lost, or even what I’ve done. Hanna Brencher said: “one day you’ll be out of this. And all the things you felt-all the places you went in the dark-will help someone come out of the woods too.” Lord, open my eyes to the needs of those around me. Niki Rowe wrote: “like a wild flower; she spent her days, allowing herself to grow, not many knew of her struggle, but eventually all; knew of her light.” I pray that everyone around me sees your light in me. Lord, I chose you. I chose grace over wrath. I chose life over death. I chose light over dark. I chose trust over fear. I chose your plan over mine. 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 You have never failed me yet.

Lord. Have. Mercy. I went to a different church last night than I usually go to so I was sitting there with my stinkin thinking: man, I’m gonna miss the message at the other one. Then during worship, they played Do It Again by Elevation Worship and I knew You were gonna talk to me and I just needed to sit there and listen. Lord, You constantly meet us where we are. Lord, if I could just learn to seek You like a quarter of how You seek me, woah.

That man preached on 2 Samuel 10. We read the story about how King David sent two deputies, two mighty men, as an act of kindness to pay respects to the King’s father who passed. The King was naive and listened to the little birds in his ear telling him that David sent spies instead of paying his respects. So, the King shaved half their beards, cut their robes showing their derriere, and sent them back. David saw them coming back and sent someone to tell them to stay in Jericho until their grow back, then return.

The first point he made was that Luke 17:1 says we will be offended, we will be hurt, we will be violated. He said that was a fact and sooner or later it would happen. But he also said that the worst offense will  bring out the best in us. He told us about how New Zealand has a bunch of no flight birds because there are no predators. Their wings don’t develop. Predators create the need for wings. The same way that airplanes take off into the wind, they need resistance to create the lift. He said the opposition will drive us to our knees. He said that was the whole point, so that we go out and get our own faith, not just hearing about the preacher’s faith. He said those mighty men got attacked doing what the King told them to do. The enemy will do all he can to stop us from doing Your perfect will.

But the King told them to go back to Jericho. Go back to where they were offended and humiliated. Go back to where their pride and dignity were taken. Don’t come back in that condition. Don’t come back looking like what they’ve been through. Go back until there is healing, until there is love, until there is forgiveness, until there their beards grow back. The preacher said it was like when the prodigal son returned, the father ran out there and covered him. He didn’t want to add to their humiliation, to their shame. He wanted to cover it, to heal it, to let them grow from it. The preacher said that Jericho means sweet fragrance. The King literally told them to go to the sweet place. The preacher told us to stay sweet, our dignity will come back, our honor will come back, our authority will come back. He said don’t get into it with them, don’t retaliate, don’t defend. You will restore our identity. Your word says to forgive. It doesn’t say forgive and forget. It doesn’t say that there won’t be justice. It says vengeance is Yours, Father, that You will have the final say, that You will fight our battles. It doesn’t say that vengeance is wrong, it says that it is righteous, but that it is Your job, not ours. He says stop shifting blame, stop throwing fits. At some point we have to go to Jericho. Then he said as Christians, we have the fruits of the spirit, but until someone takes a bite out of the fruit, we don’t know how sweet the fruit is. He said forgiveness is a point of reference to show how far we’ve come. We don’t look like what we’ve been through. He said I don’t care what you’ve been through, your beard is growing back. The garment of praise will come back. He said forgiveness is not about keeping score, it’s about losing count. He said forgiveness is not like a squeezable bottle of ketchup, its the glass bottle. It’s hard. The contents are under pressure. But there is a sticker strategically placed to tap to relieve the pressure. He said we just have to open the lid and tap. Be open and keep on tapping. Start knocking at forgiveness. He said prayer makes the connection. I read in The Art of Spiritual Warfare that “prayer legalizes Heaven’s interventions.” Lord, in Psalms it says: forgive us as we forgive them. As we forgive, it’s a continuous act.

Father, I have been struggling for almost two weeks with why I surround myself with all these hard personality types, when I have a soft one. I hand-pick hard people to be around. I selfishly wondered if I am constantly picking people that are hard to love does that mean I am hard to love too? Lord, I put so many walls to keep people out, to keep from being hurt. Then the ones I let in only seem to hurt me, over and over again. Which totally defeats the purpose. Lately, I am trying so hard to put boundaries up instead of walls and learn the healthy way to love and be loved. In the song it sings: “Walking around these walls I thought by now they’d fall But You have never failed me yet.”

So, that is my prayer. Lord, You never failed me. I pray that I keep learning to forgive. Abba Father, thank you for Jericho. Thank you for heaven’s interventions. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for healing. Thank you for grace. Thank you for mercy. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for love. Thank you for seeking me. Thank you for delighting in me. Lord, I am so unworthy, yet you never fail me. You never leave me. You never say I’ve hurt you enough, I’m done, I’m walking away. You don’t put up walls to keep me out. You just love. Father, I am hard to love. Thank you for loving me still. Thank you for loving me enough not to keep me that way. Thank you for loving me enough to cover me. Thank you for loving me enough not to keep me in that condition. Thank you allowing me to come to you. Thank you for accepting me as I am but loving me too much to leave me that way. Thank you for restoring me, instead of adding to my hurt. Thank you for using my pain for your glory. Thank you for taking my hurt place and turning it into a place of healing, restoration, and growth. Thank you for your greater plan and your greater purpose. Thank you for showing me to focus on you, focus on the cross, instead of my walls. Thank you for writing my testimony. Lord, I am still in your hands, thank you for that. Thank you for continuing to teach 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 through You, the cross still says, I’m worth it.

Lord, in Psalms it says You delight in us. As I grow in my walk with You, I delight in You more and more. I remembered this bible study I went to in college on taking up our crosses. At the time, I laid down what I thought was holding me back from walking with You. Now, I realize, I was still holding onto soooo much more. At the time, I wrote down four things: material possessions, priorities, validation/approval from others, and financial security.

Well, I got a hard lesson in number one with my house fire last July. I got to watch as everything I had got thrown out or boxed up for storage.

At the time I wrote the list, I was finishing up college, and organizing my tasks and responsibilities was much needed to graduate. I had deadlines and things to complete and still craved that time with You, Lord. I thrive with organization, but I still find gaps in my day where I didn’t schedule something so it’s wasted time. Some wasted time is good for relaxation, but when there’s 168 hours in a week and work only covers 40, that leaves 128 hours. In college, it was easy to fill my time from being so involved in my sorority and other organizations, switching back and forth between two towns and two churches, community service, classes, study hours, work, and so much more. Then I moved back and I just had work. I had 128 empty hours that I never had before. So, I read a lot when I first got done with school. Then I got more involved in church. Then I started reaching out to friends more. Then I started grad school. Because let’s be honest, I love learning. I love school. I love growing. I don’t want to remain stagnant. I want to continue pushing myself and moving forward in the direction You send me, Father. I don’t want my feet to get lazy, I wanna keep running where You send me.

Number three was the hardest to learn. Some days, I still seek validation. Some days, when I don’t get it, it still wrecks me. I am a people pleaser. Which also leaves me open to deception and highlights my naivety. I look for the good so desperately, I miss warning signs sometimes. But, as I grow my gift of discernment, I am learning to trust You, God, not my own understanding. I’m learning to think of me less and You more.

I don’t like to talk about number four. It’s a sore subject that leaves me full of pride sometimes. I’ve started tithing again. I’m trying to get things paid off, but at the same time, I also took out loans for grad school, so obvi I still have things to learn here. What I have learned is to look at You, and not the water underneath me. When I step out of the boat, trusting the myself or trusting the water is always gonna let me drown. Psalms also says that true safety only comes from You, God.

Those church ladies that go around saying “a Psalm a day, keeps the devil away,” were not playing.

In the study, we learned that we have to deny ourselves, in order to serve You. If we do not deny ourselves, there will be a day when You deny us. We wrote down these things on a piece of paper and then set them down in a pile on the floor when we were ready. Then we picked up a literal wooden cross to represent taking up our crosses. She told us about absolute surrender and how our lives look like a cross stitch. How we see the back, where it’s all messed up colors and bundles of yarn. But, You, Abba Father, see the front and all it’s perfection.

In Luke 9, You tell us that our cross will become a crown one day. In Luke 9, You tell us that we must follow You. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was still holding onto all my sin, all my baggage, all my pride, all my past, all my shame, all my guilt, all my trauma, all the messy stuff. All the stuff I didn’t want to admit happened or admit was even real enough to deal with.

We were asked what do we delight in about You. My answer is still the same. Your timing and Your faithfulness.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting. Thank you for unpacking my baggage, one item at a time, as I was ready. Thank you for grace and patience and healing and forgiveness. Thank you for unending love and mercy. Thank you for taking my punishment. Thank you for taking my place on the cross. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of bringing everything to the cross. Thank you for allowing me to leave it there and not have to carry the burden of it anymore. Thank you for allowing me to pick up the cross instead of my burdens. Thank you for teaching me to follow you. Thank you for seeing the perfection in me, when all I see is mess. Thank you for your timing and for continued growth. Thank you for your faithfulness and for never leaving me or giving up on me. Thank you for delighting in me. Thank you for loving me relentlessly. Thank you for seeking me. Thank you for allowing me to have absolute surrender. Thank you for your word. Thank you for all you have taught me and continue to teach me. Thank you for teaching me things in whole new ways. I pray that you keep changing me to handle the things I’m walking through. 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.