Sun came up and the river’s still runnin’.

Someone asked me if I was getting fed when I was leading. I thought it was a funny question because my first thought was naw, fam, I don’t do this to feed me, I do this to point them to You, God, to show them how to feed themselves. It’s not anyone’s job to feed me or my job to feed anyone else. I can feed myself, spiritually, just like I do otherwise. (I ain’t doing so hot at the otherwise, ya girl has been eating too much ice cream during this quarantine, but that’s another story!) I listen to sermons online and open the Word myself. I read devotion books and on my phone. And I should most definitely do more of those things. I should be spending as much time in Your presence as I possibly can. I try to study even more when I’m leading because I want to be prepared. But If they are depending on me to feed them, I make a terrible You, I will never be able to fill them. And blessssss, I sure do get it wrong sometimes. The only one I trust to fill me is You, Father. Matthew 6:25-27 says: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If I trust You to fill my belly and clothe me, why in the world wouldn’t I trust You to fill me spiritually? It’s my job to go to You, as often as I can.

I like leading Bible studies because I like the community time. I like seeing my people. I like talking about You and pointing others to You. I want to be a mirror that reflects more You than me. Take me out of the whole thing, it ain’t about me or what I’m doing. Let it be about You. Don’t let me cause disruption or be a distraction from the cross. You are the whole reason we’re here. Matthew 5:41 says: And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Lord, I just want be like You. I want to go where You send me. I want to go the extra mile. I want to go farther than I think possible. I want to help those around me. I want to turn the other cheek when offended. I want to give the shirt off my back and my jacket too. I want do what You tell me. I want to give 10% of my money and of my time, but I also want to give so much that I lose track of how much. I want to forgive 70×70, but I wanna lose track of that too. My life is Yours.

My devotion last week said: “Prayer is far less about making God more aware of your life, and far more about making your life more aware of Him.” That’ll preach.

So, this is my prayer today. I thought I was praying about one thing and as usual you did more talking and I did some listening. I pray that I stop all that worryin, about what people think of me and about not doing enough or doing too much, all that nonsense. Lord, I just wanna spend time with you. I just wanna worship you. I wanna serve you. I wanna point others to you. I can’t save anybody anymore than I can save myself. Lord, put me in my place. Father, remove my foolish pride. I pray you take away my distractions and don’t let me distract anyone either. I pray I stop complaining and realize how blessed I am. Today is the day you made and I will rejoice and be glad in it. It’s a good day to be here livin. Soakin up every single minute I’m given. 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.

Take me to Your garden, Lord.

Lord, my heart is heavy. I am trying to do right by You, Father. There is something weighing on my mind. I tried to compromise on Sunday, but it’s Wednesday now and I just don’t feel settled about it. I understand that I am the one causing conflict and they would all be satisfied if I would just be quiet and do what they ask of me. I understand their point of view. I understand their reasoning and logic and even their concerns. I understand that it would require more resources and this and that.

I also understand that I am not the Savior, You, my wonderful God are the Savior. I would make a terrible savior! I am selfish for starters and so so much more.

I don’t want to be the cause of conflict. Ever. I avoid that junk like the literal plague. But somehow I sit in the middle of it. I probably put myself here, in fact I know I did.

During this Covid-19 mess, the thing I miss the most, is my people. I miss talking and for a person that likes her space, I sure do miss hugs on Sundays. The last couple of Sunday’s all the Pastor had to do was say hey and I talked his poor ears off for an hour. Bless his heart. I just haven’t had a way to safely talk to my people face to face in over two months, so it all just came out at once. What I remembered today, is that I didn’t need to vent at all. I needed time with You, Father. I needed time in Your presence. I need some full out worship time, where everything goes still. I need to lift my hands to You and call out for You.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, I bring my heart to you. I wanna go back to the garden. I want to walk with you. I want to talk with you. I want to tend to what I’ve been given. Those kids have been given to me to tend to, and while I am most definitely not their savior. It is my job to bring them to you, it is most definitely my job to point them to you. I do not always make the right choices. I fail daily, but you already knew that and still you gave me purpose in your plan. You still chose me for this. I am so not capable of doing anything on my own, I am so thankful that I do not have to. No matter how alone, Covid-19 tried to make me feel, I am never alone. No matter how much I hate conflict, I will fight for their place in the kingdom. I will pull chairs up to the table. I will make space. I will open my home. I will swing open the doors. I will make extra food. I will clean the marker off the table and sweep the goldfish off the floors. I will take six trips to pick them up if I need to. I will make sure those kids know they are welcome in your presence too. Abba, I will tend to what I’ve been given. And Father, put a guard on my complaining heart and my stubborn pride. I know it is not about me. I wanna love who you love. I wanna break my heart for what breaks yours. Lord, open my heart more and more, stretch my heart farther than I think possible. I fully know it is not comfortable or easy, but nothing worth doing is easy or comfortable. You call us out of our comfort zones and into your purpose. Open my ears and guard my intentions. Help me to serve you with every breathe I’ve got. 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.

Whatever comes, count me in, count me in.

Ok, God, lemme be real honest for a minute. I was gonna dance around it and be vague, but let’s just call it like it is. When I started this foster parent journey as a single woman, I had no idea how much more it would make me want a man in my life. I mean, of course I wanted to get married eventually, but let’s be real, I was content and comfortable, for the most part. Foster parenting made me want some help, something fierce. I mean, I have a great support system in my family, but having someone in my home with me, making day-to-day decisions with me would just be super helpful. Someone to back me up, support me, and to also pull me to the side to say: hey, you gotta take five and chill, I got this.

Just continuing this super honesty moment, I am good on the cooking and cleaning a house by myself. I’ve always done that, cleaning refills me, and I’m getting much better at the cooking. I am good at taking care of the kids and teaching. I enjoy those things immensely. What I want is someone who wants to foster with me, no matter how hard it is and how much trouble and drama it brings with it. What I want is someone to walk the line with me and talk to God with me. What I want is someone who will show up with me. What I want is someone to validate me when the kid is telling me I’m a crappy foster mama, even though I know the kid doesn’t mean it. What I want is someone to lead me spiritually and point me back to the cross, when I get frazzled. What I want is someone to hug me every now and again, just so I feel safe for a minute. I signed up for this. I took the classes. I did the research. I studied. I prepared. I prayed. I sought out spiritual guidance. I knew what I was getting into. Or so I thought…

The truth is, raising kids is flat out hard, especially alone. Father, don’t get me wrong, I loveeee these kids and it is so beyond worth every heart break. But I could use a little help. I can’t do this on my own. It takes a whole village. I had no idea, the impact it would have on my village either. My village has taken some heavy hits, I was not at all prepared for. I didn’t know the hurt I was also signing my village up for.

Anyways, long story short, I started trying to date. And boy howdy, did that flop. I thought I was talking to a good man. I mean ya girl felt things she ain’t never felt for a man before. Ya girl keeps people at arm’s length so she don’t feel anything so she can’t get hurt. But ya girl fell, hard. But then he didn’t want to meet, so I started getting worried because I wanted a relationship with him and not a phone. A couple months went by, I got defensive and pushed, he pushed back. That was that. Next, there was one promising me everything I ever wanted, even talked about actually going to church with me and he was going to devotion on his own. But that ended quick when he wanted me to email some guy about giving him money. Like woah, back up here. Red Flags went soaring. Ya girl reported and decided she was DONE.

Trying to find a relationship on my own, was no fun at all. I got hurt and then I got played like a fiddle. I decided that me forcing things was obviously not the way to go. This was just unnecessary drama that was not helping me at all. I have been praying for that husband of mine, my whole life, whoever and wherever he is. But I decided I wasn’t even gonna pray for a husband anymore. I decided to bow out and flat out give up.

Not even two weeks later, I posted this quote to my Facebook story: “Sometimes I feel like I pray too much and that’ll annoy God. But then I think, ‘I’d rather get to Heaven and have Jesus say, now there’s a familiar voice than have Him say it’s nice to finally here from you.'” I thought I was being funny because of my obnoxious praying for a husband prayers. Like it was some inside joke between me and You, God. Someone responded to it by sending me a sermon from TD Jakes called Bother Me. Jeezeeee it stirred my soul. Called me out by name too. I sat there thinking, why You gotta do me like that? I was DONE. Now, You’re saying come bother me? You got jokes God. My stubborn head was saying: Lord, I already quit, if You want something to happen this time, You do it, You make it happen, You open the doors. Then this quiet voice goes: finally, my child. Like this whole time, You just wanted me to give up control and stop forcing things. Which I knew in my heart was what You wanted this whole time, but I was too stubborn to surrender.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, whatever you got going on in my life, count me in. Whether it’s to be single, count me in. Whether it’s to get married tomorrow, count me in. Whether it’s to wait 28 more years, count me in. Whether it’s to continue fostering or not, count me in. Whether it’s to keep serving in the kid’s ministry at my church or not, count me in. Whether it’s to upend my whole entire life or not, count me in. Lord, interrupt my life again and again. Invade my comfort zone. Push me farther than I think I am capable. Whatever your will, whatever your way, whatever the path, whatever you choose, count me in. Abba, I make foolish mistakes and choices on my own. I don’t want to make anymore choices without surrendering first. I am so used to surrendering after I’ve tried it my way first. I don’t want to do that anymore. Lord, fix it, fix this stubborn heart of 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.

In a sweet tender way You’ve been there.

Dear God,

You are present even when everything else is gone.

You are by my side even when everyone else leaves.

You are real even when all else disappoints.

You are faithful even when I am not.

You are peace even when I am destruction.

You are strength even when I am insecure and shaking.

You are light even when all I seek out is the darkness.

You are restoration even when I am completely broken beyond repair.

You are holding me even when I feel loneliness.

You are in complete control even when I feel no control at all.

You are sovereign even when I try to take matters into my own hands and fail.

You are truth even when the enemy is whispering lies into my head.

You are all powerful even when I am powerless.

You are open doors even when I stubbornly close them all.

You are still the same God who stood in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You are still the same God who saved Noah’s family from the flood. You are still the same God that used Moses and his stutter to lead Your people out of slavery. You are still the same God that changed the heart of Saul, a man who murdered Christians, into Paul, a man who brought Christians to You. You are still the same God who took Joseph out of the fields, out of the pit, out of slavery, out of prison and placed in him in the palace. You are still the same God who sent Hosea after Gomer, time and time again. You are still the same God who healed countless times. You are still the same God who gave sight to the blind, who made the limp walk, who brought the dead back to life. You are still the same God who provided for Ruth. You are still the same God who went after Jonah anywhere he hid, including the belly of a whale.

You remain faithful. You remain unchanging. You remain my provider, my protector, my strong tower, my solid rock, my healer, my restorer, my truth, my light. You remain my way out of sin and death and slavery and the fire and the pit and the flood and the belly of the whale.

You are still the same God who sent His Son to take on the punishment I fully deserved, the stripes I fully deserved, the humiliation I fully deserved, the judgement I fully deserved, the brutal death on the cross I fully deserved. Time and time again, You’re stories proved, even if it was just me, You still would have done it. But You, my sweet God, You offer that level of love and sacrifice to all of us if we would simply accept it. You offer that level of freedom to all of us.

We don’t have to stay hiding. We don’t have to live in shame. We don’t have to live in slavery. We don’t have to continue struggling. We don’t have to keep trying and failing to do it on our own. We don’t have to continue living in fear. We don’t have to continue living like we haven’t already been saved from all the mess this world will throw at us. This is not our home. Our story does not end like that. We have hope and healing and redemption. We have surrender at the cross. We do not have to carry our burdens on our own. We can leave them at the cross. We do not have to carry anyone else’s burdens for them either, we can help them bring theirs to the cross too. And we can leave it there and not pick it up again. You already conquered it. You not only will unpack that mess for us, You will literally crush it. You are the only one capable of filling the God-shaped holes in our hearts and in the hearts of those we love. We simply have to come to the foot of the cross. We drop all that weight off and pick up the cross.

So, here is my prayer. I pray for my loved ones. I pray they seek you. I pray you grab their hearts and fill the holes. I pray they surrender to you. Lord, Father, please keep knocking on their doors. I pray they let you in all the way. In every direction I turn lately, is someone I know that needs you desperately and I can see their need so soberly. Lord, I asked for you to break my heart for what breaks yours. I thought you were going to send me into the world. But boy howdy, you told me to stay right where I am, the most important thing I could do is bring your love and light to those right around me. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me and opening my cold, cold heart. Lord, please keep changing my heart. Father, change my attitude, my voice tone, my aggression, my pride, and bless, please fix my mouth. Lord, help me to chose kind, loving, gentle words. And help me quit getting distracted from my purpose. 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 here for you I’ll pray for you.

Lord, they say you’re supposed to believe people when they tell you who they are. And best believe I know I am a hot mess. I can be self absorbed and not notice anything going on in the world around me. I can be awkward as all get out. I can be defensive and I can most definitely be stubborn. I can be too loud and I can be too quiet. I overthink literally everything. And I can run when I’m scared.

But Lord, I also love deeply. I am generous with my time and energy. I am so passionate about serving You in any way I can. I am kind and Lord, we both know, I’m funny. I mean, seriously, I am hysterical…in a goofy kinda way. I anticipate needs and fill them. I go above and beyond for others, to show them I love them. I am caring and genuine. I always look for the good. I’m definitely supportive and encouraging. I’m a pro at Star Wars trivia. My car karaoke moves would get no less than a 10 from Len Goodman. The rest of my cooking might be mediocre, but I make a real good meat loaf. And of course, I’ll be getting another 10 from good ole Len with my kitchen dancing skills. I’ve been through a lot, but good gracious it’s made me strong, I can handle anything that comes at me because of my relationship with You, God.

So, this is my prayer today. Lord, drop my defenses. I pray that I am honest, even about my embarrassing, traumatic baggage. Lord, I have unpacked so much already, I mean, seriously I have grown so much, but obviously I still have things to learn. Father, help me to communicate in a healthy way. I pray you give me strength and courage. I pray that I learn to depend on you more fully. I pray that I know my worth comes from you. Lord, give me the right words to say. Help me to open up and let people in. Father, let my actions and intentions be pure. I pray that I learn how to accept a compliment. You’ve shown me the difference between the lies and games so I pray I trust it when it’s real. I pray that I live more like you. I pray that I only speak words that build up and give life. I pray I lead others to you. I don’t want to just go to church, I want to be the church. I pray that I shine your light with every fiber in my being. Help me to refrain from jumping to conclusions. Help me to ask for what I need. Help me to offer everything I can. Help me to keep my expectations in check. Help me to say I’m sorry when I need to and to work it out. Help me to bring joy to those around me. Lord, help me to share my life. Help me to show up and be present. Lord, please don’t let me mess this up. 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 I thank the good Lord for the detours to you.

The truth is I am naive. The truth is I use humor to deflect compliments. The truth is I haven’t been in a real relationship. The truth is I was sexually abused as a kid by more than one person in one than one way. The truth is that affected me in more ways than I understand. The truth is I used to push people away. The truth is I get defensive and sometimes I have a guard up. The truth is that I hid my heart away as a way to protect it. The truth is that doesn’t work. The truth is I went to counseling. The truth is I got some healing that only You, God could give. The truth is I didn’t date until I was an adult because of what happened to me. The truth is I thought I was keeping myself from getting hurt. But Pastor Mike Todd quickly reminded me of some capital T:Truth that You, God, weren’t keeping me from something, You were saving me for something.

My church sermon on Sunday was about intentions. And Lord have mercy, You know I love that word intentions. The pastor said “sin is not just what I do, it’s within me too. It’s the intentions of the heart. It’s not just about my actions. It’s about my intentions too. My intentions need to change too.”

Lord, I know You’ve been teaching me this whole time. I know You were preparing me. I didn’t trust You, Father, more times than I can count and I am sorry for doubting You. I fail You daily. But You never failed me. You just kept redirecting me back to You.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for not protecting yourself from me. Thank you for letting this prodigal daughter come home. Thank you for saving me for something, for someone. Thank you for preparing me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for holding onto my heart when I wasn’t ready to give it. Thank you for standing in front of my demons. Thank you for letting me come to you. Thank you for redirecting my life. Thank you for changing my story. Thank you for taking what the devil meant for evil and using it for your glory and my good. Thank you for knowing the intentions of my heart and not just my actions. Thank you for changing my actions and my intentions. Thank you for not leaving me. Thank you for loving me too much to leave me the way I was. I know exactly where I would be and what kind of person I would be if you hadn’t of intervened. I know exactly what kind of darkness I’d be facing. I would become the darkness. But thank You that’s not where my story ends. Thank you for taking the walls around my heart down brick by brick. Father, you are so patient and kind with me. You are love. I am so thankful for the miracle you’ve done in my life. 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.