I will fix my eyes on what’s unchanging.

Recently I started reading the Bible cover to cover, but I still tend to play besties when I read The Word. In 2017 and 2018, it was Paul. For a minute at the end of 2018, I was a total Jonah. Turning into 2019, it became Noah. Now it’s 1st Samuel. There are bits and pieces from the sermons on the white spaces in my Bible. Here are some key take-aways I learned over and over this year:

  • “God is bigger than my decisions.” SAY IT AGAIN.
  • “When Samuel made himself available, the Word of God became abundant.”
  • “Sometimes we run to the thing we’re used to, we run to our plan even though God is the One calling.” You call us out of our comfort zones.
  • “The enemy attacks at the places of transition.” But You fight my battles!
  • “Faith is being able to move on a maybe. It might not work, but God is always.” Yasss!
  • “The enemy can’t destroy you, so he’ll try to distract you.” Not Today Satan.
  • “Will you stay with the goats when there is a party going on?” Blessss.
  • “Jesus still washed Judas’ feet.” I cannot even.

I spent of a lot of time this summer in the Marked series from Transformation Church, that’s where most of what I’ve studied this year came from. The steps to I am Marked are:

  1. You’re gonna be anointed in private.
  2. You’re gonna be anointed before you’re positioned.
  3. Your opportunity is gonna be wrapped in obedience.
  4. You are elevated by obstacles. (You have to learn how to walk like a child. You can’t wait for authority to come and remove the obstacles.)
  5. You must be you. The armor might not fit yet.
  6. You have to have the audacity to honor.

And then I continued re-reading my notes and this next thing leapt right off the page…wait for it… “subject yourself to the authority God placed in your life even when they are wrong, it creates actual change.” Uh-oh. That hit me a little deep. I did not do that yesterday.

Then I flip over a few more pages and written real big in the middle of my Bible is: “what did you do with the child I gave you?” And that right there is why I’m marked. Because again, “being marked is not about us, it’s about others.”

Today, I am going to pray Richard Lovelace’s words: “We should make a deliberate effort at the outset of every day to recognize the person of the Holy Spirit, to move into the light concerning his presence in our consciousness and to open our minds and to share all our thoughts and plans as we gaze by faith into the face of God. We should continue to walk throughout the day in a relationship of communication and communion with the Spirit mediated through our knowledge of the Word, relying upon every office of the Holy Spirit’s role as counselor mentioned in Scripture. We should acknowledge him as the illuminator of truth and of the glory of Christ. We should look to him as teacher, guide, sanctifier, giver of assurance concerning our sonship and standing before God, helper in prayer, and as one who directs and empowers our witness. We should particularly recognize that growth in holiness is not simply a matter of the lonely individual making claims of faith on the basis of Romans 6:1-14. It involves moving about in all areas of our life in dependent fellowship with a person: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians. 5:16). When this practice of the presence of God is maintained over a period of time, our experience of the Holy Spirit becomes less subjective and more clearly identifiable, as gradually we learn to distinguish the strivings of the Spirit from the motions of our flesh.” Abba Father, I am coming to you today with a conflicted heart. I pray that I get out of my flesh and emotions and back into your word and rely on your spirit. I pray for discernment and courage. I pray that every breath I breathe is done only for you in obedience. Lord, you designed me to love everyone you placed in my life, help me to do that. I pray that I make myself available to you. Thank you for working even when I fail, even when it’s silent, even when the storm is raging inside of me and around me. Thank you. Thank you for washing my feet when I am the one that turns against 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.

I sing because I’m free.

I was telling my Jesus friend, I did not like driving in traffic yesterday. Wait, lemme be honest, I was totes complaining. And true Jesus friend capacity, she pointed me right back to You. She told me to put on a sermon when I’m traffic, that it’s just extra time with You. I got up this morning and pulled up the Podcasts app, looked up Transformation Church and clicked play.

Ya girl cried through half the drive, got to work 10 minutes early, and started my day is much better place. It was one of those gooddd, praise cries too. Thank you for reminding me how good You are this morning.

Ok, so let me break down the sermon and apply to my life like usual.

How to have your life not suck:

1. The decisions you make today determine your tomorrow.

2. You might be one step from stepping into God’s abundant blessing.

3. Your end just might be your beginning.

4. Don’t just think about your legacy, build your legacy.”

Bianca Olthoff was the one preaching and she brought the Word. Straight from the book of Ruth. She continually taught that if I am not dead, You are not done. If it has not been redeemed, You are not done. She told us to do the work, spiritually and emotionally. Day by day, decision by decision.

The most important takeaway I got was when Naomi changed her name from Naomi which means sweet and pleasant to Mara which means bitter. Naomi/Mara went back to Bethlehem. She went back to her Life Group, to her community, to her Church, to her house of God. TobyMac posted the other day: “when you are hanging on by a thread, make sure it is the hem of His garment.”

The final point she made was “your purpose is proven when you give your life away.” It wasn’t ours to begin with. Genesis tells us You breathed life into us. You gave us our very lives. Bianca preached: “it’s not what happens to you, or dealt to you. It’s what you do with what you have.” Woah buddy…I immediately saw the connection there to the message I heard from Lysa Terkheurst. About how asking why is the wrong question. We should be asking, what am I going to do with what I have left? I have carried that question for a hot minute.

Lord, only You can do that, take a sermon I heard in 2014 after I lost my best friend and my grandma and build on it in 2019. You changed my whole perspective on life with one sermon and here You are continually adding to it and taking that message and growing it in my life. It was a little seed planted in a time when I thought I wouldn’t be able to grow anything. Now its a flourishing garden with so many flowers growing out of it, all I can see is Your handiwork running wild through my life.

That is your specialty though. Bianca showed us how You took a barren, homeless, trauma filled woman and somehow through her lineage King David is born, and through that Jesus is born. You take what everyone else would have written off and write a life full of love.

That is where freedom is found. When we give our lives away. I read in a devotion my sister sent me that He brings people into our lives we are designed to love. Nothing is random. Nothing is without purpose or meaning. Nothing happens by chance. I did not hear that message in 2014 by accident, nor did I hear the message today by accident. On Wednesday at Church, I heard a message on faith, which is literally my middle name so I was all for it. He taught us that “faith is believing that You can see what I can’t.”

In 2014, I couldn’t see past my grief. In 2016, I couldn’t see past my plans. Now it’s 2019 and I just want to see You, Father.

So, this is my prayer. I pray that I give my life away. I pray I love those you bring to my life. I pray I use what I have, where I am, and listen for your instruction. I pray I utilize these quiet moments to seek you. I pray that my legacy is built in your name. I pray I do the work needed. I pray I keep making those connections and keep growing in your word. Abba, I know you are for my good and your glory. Abba, I know you are watching me, I know your eyes are on me. I know you have never left me. I know you are working even when I cannot see. Thank you for reminding me to just simply praise you today. 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.

All my fears and doubts, they can all come too because they can’t stay long.

I got hooked on Pastor Mike Todd’s messages last year when I heard the first Marked sermon on Elevation Church’s youtube page. Then I might have low key stalked Pastor Mike Todd. Like followed on all social media and followed his wife. So, when he turned the Marked message into a series, I WASN’T READY!

As I’ve been watching these sermons, I was finishing up the foster parenting classes. When I finished those classes I took the Family Life: Art of Parenting online course. I thought I was ready to be a foster parent and all that entailed. I had the training I needed, I was in the Word, I was praying and seeking counsel from other believers. But I hit some snags in the road. Some called them stop signs. Some tried to encourage me to keep going. Some were dumbfounded. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going, but I knew I was Marked.

In this last sermon, Pastor Mike said: “being marked it not about us, it’s about others.” I could have screamed that and jumped up and down! Like YASSS Lord. This week’s message was about honor. And You already know, it hit the nail on the head for me. I was struggling recently. I got carried away and let things get ahead of me so things slipped past my control. Then, I thought I had to chose one or the other. I could honor my future family that I am working so hard to build or I could honor the family that worked so hard to build me. I was getting ready to leave one family in order to build one of my own, which is a normal next step in life, I’m just doing it a little different. And let’s face it, I’ve always been a little different. I realized that I don’t have to chose one or the other, I can honor both, differently. And I learned another lesson about boundaries (the hard way, I might add).

I know that nothing happens without a purpose. I know not to ask why, I know to ask what am I going to do with what I have left. That’s another lesson I learned the hard way. The previous message in the Marked series was: I’m Armed and Dangerous. In this sermon, Pastor Mike gave us a little fill-in-the-blank that goes like this: “Then Alyssa, armed only with her Bible and her perspective started writing.” I got all kinds of excited because ya girl’s love language is words. So I continued! Then Alyssa, armed with her Bible and her writing started working in group homes. Then Alyssa, armed with her Bible and her work and started foster parenting classes. With no house and now no job, I might add, I sure do everything the hard way. I could list all the things I didn’t have and how unprepared I was or still am. Which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, ya know stressing.

But Lord have mercy, You had a Word for me with this Marked series. Like in the You Are Enough sermon, I learned “ridiculous is required.” And ridiculous is trying to be a parent with no home. I also learned in another message “perspective needs to move above the obstacle.” So, I got no home, but I am Heaven bound, so I need to start acting like it. In another sermon, Pastor Mike taught that “obedience doesn’t require details.”

So, here is my prayer today. I pray I let Pastor Mike’s teaching seep right into my soul and my heart and my mind. I pray I learn how to honor all people. I pray I learn how to love my brotherhood. I pray I learn to fear you. I pray I learn to honor the king. I pray that I walk in faith. I pray that when I lose myself, I find you. I pray I remember where my anointing comes from. Jesus, you are the way when there is no way. You are the light when all I see is darkness. You are the truth when all I hear is lies. Father, keep teaching me. Father, I need you. Father, I love you. Father, I thank you. I put my eyes on 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.